Support the Voices for Peace in Israel/Palestine

A Statement for Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation

by Jean Buskin and Mike Yarrow ~ April 5, 2002

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How true and how needed now are these words of wisdom from Dr. King. We look at the situation in Israel and Palestine, and see a descending spiral. Only the voices for peace give hope, and we hope our words will nurture the work for peace.

The members of Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation include people of many faiths including Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Our members have signed a statement saying that we oppose war and seek a just and peaceful world community, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.

We condemn in the strongest terms those who kill, whether the killers are suicide bombers or government-sanctioned, uniformed weapons bearers. We often hear the words "cycle of revenge," but we see little that really could be called revenge. The suicide bomber may have legitimate grievances, and may think of the act as justified by previous violence and killing; yet the target is not the perpetrator of violence, but rather innocent humans. The Israeli government may likewise be responding to outrageous violence, but it is certainly not taking revenge on the perpetrators - an impossibility in the case of suicide bombers. What we are witnessing in Israel/Palestine is a ghastly ricochet of violence back and forth, where most of the victims are ordinary people who happen to be in the wrong place and the wrong time, much like those who perished on September 11th.

Even when the violent responses can be directed at perpetrators of violence, we know from previous history that revenge doesn't bring peace. Revenge may be an understandable reaction to injury, but the pattern of revenge for revenge for revenge is an unending tragic exercise in futility. It will take a very different approach to bring real peace and security to the Palestinian and Israeli people.

We praise in the strongest terms the peacemakers. A moving example is relatives of those killed in the conflict organized as Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace which includes Parents' Circle of 200 families in Israel and National Movement for Change in the Palestinian Authority. These groups joined together to exhibit 1000 caskets, first in Israel and then at the United Nations in New York City last month. In the midst of their grief, these families reached out for an end to violence, so that no more families would suffer as they had. Rabbis for Human Rights, who write, "Slavery takes many forms and Pharaoh appears in many guises. Today Israelis are enslaved by fear and anger... Israelis and Palestinians have each suffered so much that they can only see themselves as victims and the other as Pharaoh. Pharaoh dominates when our own anger and fear render us incapable of recognizing the image of God in every human being." The 390 Israeli reservists who have publicly declared their refusal to serve in the occupied territories, and the Israelis and Palestinians who work side-by-side to rebuild homes bulldozed by Israeli authorities along with many other courageous acts for peace demonstrate that a peaceable future is possible.

Violence on the scale and duration that is occurring in Israel/Palestine could not continue without the financial, military and moral support of powerful backers. As citizens of the United States, we feel it is important to acknowledge our role in the violence. The United States has aided, both financially and through the power of its United Nations Security Council veto, a situation in which Israel has occupied and built numerous illegal settlements on Palestinian territories. The inhabitants of the territories have not been accorded dignity or self-determination and for years have been subject to major disruptions of their lives and humiliations. Our country must agree with Arab states to de-fund this bloodbath and fund the peacemakers who seek to bring healing. We can start funding the peacemakers without our government. [Rabbis for Human Rights, www.info@rhr.israel.net, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (Tracks violations by Israeli and Palestinian Authority in Gaza), http://www.pchrgaza.org/ , Jerusalem Link(Joint project of Israeli and Palestinian Women's Centers) www.batshalom.org/JerusalemLink.htm , www.j-c-w.org/ , Bereaved Families' Circle, www.mideastnet.org/BereavedFamiliesForum.htm , Women in Black, www.geocities.com/EndtheOccupation/ , Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People www.rapprochement.org , Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, http://www.ICAHD.org/eng/ ]

Fortunately people on both sides of the conflict are realizing that the current path is a tragic dead-end. Israeli Rear Admiral Ami Ayalon (retired) and the Saudi Initiative approved by the Arab League have made parallel proposals for a just peace. They seem to be hopeful starting points for a peaceful resolution. We, like they, support a solution which provides for an immediate end to the violence; sovereignty and security of Israel within its 1967 borders; withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank; sovereignty and self-determination for Palestine; respect of the human rights of all people both in Israel and Palestine. We call on the government of the United States to apply all its influence in creating such a solution.

Please call Washington's Senators and urge them to speak out for the US to take a strong stand for a Just Peace.

Patty Murray (206) 553-5545

Maria Cantwell (206) 220-6400

Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation

225 North 70th Street, Seattle Washington 98103

(206) 789-5565 ~ wwfor@connectexpress.com ~ http://www.scn.org/wwfor


posted April 6, 2002; web pages maintained by Jean Buskin, bb369@scn.org

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