Christians Step up to the Plate to Legally and Morally Challenge Continued U.S. Aid to Israel due to Ongoing Human Rights and Weapons Violations
… by Jim W. Dean, VT Editor
Well the church folks have gotten out if front of everybody else, including the main line veterans orgs, think tanks, political parties, and our own legal community. Hurrah for them as they struck a blow against hypocrisy and the double standard red carpet given to Israel.
No mention in the letter to Congress below about Israel’s huge weapons of mass destruction programs, stockpiles and who they might be a threat to. But VT will do that.
Our declassified Intel has substantiated that Israel always had conventional military superiority over all neighboring countries. The WMD was for offensive purposes only.
Actually we could do a pincer movement on them. Violations of nuclear proliferation also trigger a cancellation of US aid. But that little item is dismissed simply through our not acknowledging that Israeli has had these. Iran should be so lucky.
It will be interesting to see how Congress reacts. Hearings have been called for, but the Congresscritters have honed their skills at putting on show hearings. The Lobby will provide them a special team for the great smoke and mirrors presentation to prove that Israel is on the verge of annihilation.
The WMD people might even walk out the door with more aid…such is the congressional corruption over all things Israel.
The large Presbyterian and Evangelical Lutheran denominations anchored the fifteen church leaders who signed the letter below, with the ever present Quakers, of course, bless their souls. Israel was quiet, deploying their skirmish line of Lobby groups. And what was their tactic? To play the victim of course and trot out the old cliches.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (this is cute) claimed that American aid to Israel was not unconditional as we had ‘shared values’ according to JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. I would remind the good Rabbi that we did not use white phosphorus shells on Jewish neighborhoods here after the USS Liberty was attacked.
And we do not do home demolitions of their dual citizens who engage in Israeli espionage here. Not one home has ever been bulldozed, not even Jonathan Pollards. Torturing Jewish children (for security reasons) has not been made legal by our Supreme Court.
Shared values? I don’t think so. And God help us if we even do as we will not deserve salvation then.
The Rabbinical Assembly whined that they were not ‘consulted’, Hebrew for ‘we did not give you our permission to do this’. They claimed the interfaith partnerships were violated as this as all done, heaven forbid, on the eve of Shabat, hinting that only Christian devils could do such a thing.
And worse, ‘Congress was not in session and we are in the middle of a general election campaign’. Oh those evil conniving Christians and their pre-Shabat/election pogrom.
I would ask the Rabbinical authority why they have not showed us how all the Israelis got out of the twin towers alive on 911. Not one died. Will they share the trick with the rest of us, for next (or how much it costs)…for interfaith solidarity?
They even whine ‘breach of trust’ by the Christians. As I was reading I was expecting claims of a Neo-holocaust in the works, but alas they did not go that far, yet.
But the best was the American Jewish Committee who was outraged that such a move would be taken when we were all staring down the barrel of Iran’s alleged nuclear gun, but one with nothing in the chamber, and having that dark cloud hanging over the whole world. We call his ‘hype city’ in the Intel world.
The AJC used the word ‘attack’, yes…Rabbi Noam Marans, …”Christian leaders have chosen to mount another political attack on Israel.” And he went further.
“When religious liberty and safety of Christians across the Middle East are threatened by the repercussions of the Arab Spring, these Christian leaders have chosen to initiate a polemic against Israel, a country that protects religious freedom and expression for Christians, Muslims and others.”
Good Gosh Rabbi, when was the last time you have heard of an American priest or pastor spitting on a Rabbi, having been taught to so such at the seminary?
Have you folks sponsored legislation in Israel to make it a hate crime for Rabbis there to spit on priests? I did not think so.
And how many nukes do the Arab Spring people have, and chemical and bio-weapons, and tanks, and F-16’s? How many cruise missile armed submarines to they have, how many Congressional votes in their pocket, and espionage assets in the Pentagon and National Security Council?
Forgive me Rabbi but I don’t buy the crocodile tears. We have all seen them too many times before. More and more Americans are deeming you militant Israeli supporters a national security threat.
Many in our Intelligence community do, also. And they are working away at tearing down the protection racket you have set up here to prevent prosecutions. America will ‘not be removed from the sands of time’ by a bunch of disloyal dual citizens with only one loyalty.
But enough of me…time for the good Christians to speak, the ones with no nukes or death squads and only vote in one country’s elections. It will be a nice change of pace.
Dear Christian Zionists, read this and weep…and may you repent your sins. The best way to do that is redirecting your tithes to taking down the monster you have been supporting with the billions in contributions you have been sending to Israel. They have been used to disenfranchise the remaining Christians there. And may God have mercy on your souls for that.
Dear Member of Congress,
We write to you as Christian leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Our organizations have been deeply involved in this pursuit for decades, inspired by the call and promise of Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
In response to our Christian call to be peacemakers, we have worked for decades to support both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being. We have worked alongside our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers to help build a peaceful and resilient Palestinian civil society by supporting hospitals, schools, clinics, and social service agencies.
These ministries include cooperative efforts with Israelis and Palestinians as well as with Jews, Muslims, and other neighbors here in the United States. Through our presence in the region, and regular visits to our partners there, we see first-hand the impacts of the conflict on both Palestinians and Israelis and hear from them directly about the reality of their lives.
Through this direct experience we have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. In addition to the horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings, we have witnessed the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society.
We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others.
We recognize that each party—Israeli and Palestinian—bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source. Our stand against violence is complemented by our commitment to the rights of all Israelis, as well as all Palestinians, to live in peace and security.
It is this experience and these commitments that lead us to write to you today to express our grave concern about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace.
Unfortunately, unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. This is made clear in the most recent 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories (1), which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.
Accordingly, we urge an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons (2) to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.” (3) More broadly, we urge Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.
Examples of specific, systematic human rights violations related to U.S. military support are included as an annex to this letter.
In addition to specific rights violations, we see a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace. Specifically, repeated demands by the U.S. government that Israel halt all settlement activity have been ignored. Since 1967, every U.S. administration has decried Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as obstacles to peace.
Despite this stance, Israel continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, claiming territory that under international law and U.S. policy should belong to a future Palestinian state. The Oslo peace process, which began in 1993, was publicly promoted as leading Israelis and Palestinians to a just peace based on a two-state solution.
Instead, since 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has more than doubled. Rights violations resulting from Israeli settlement activity include separate and unequal legal systems for Palestinians and settlers, confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources for the benefit of settlers, and violence by settlers against Palestinians.
According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there has been a dramatic rise in settler attacks against Palestinians this year (4). They report that these attacks are often intended to drive Palestinians from areas the settlers wish to take over, and that Israeli authorities have failed to take significant action to stop the violence or hold the perpetrators accountable. We believe that these actions directly undermine peace efforts and threaten, rather than support, Israel’s long-term security interests.
We want to be clear that we recognize that Israel faces real security threats and that it has both a right and a duty to protect both the state and its citizens. However, the measures that it uses to protect itself and its citizens, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law.
As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel — offered without conditions or accountability — will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.
We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies. As Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II, it is especially critical for Israel to comply with the specific U.S. laws that regulate the use of U.S.-supplied weapons.
We also encourage Congress to support inclusive, comprehensive, and robust regional diplomacy to secure a just and lasting peace that will benefit Israelis, Palestinians, and all the peoples of the region, and the world.
With respect and gratitude, we offer you our prayers.
Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner
President, Council of Bishops
United Methodist Church
Transitional General Secretary
National Council of Churches USA
American Friends Service Committee
J Ron Byler
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
North American Secretary
Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Dr. A. Roy Medley
American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.
Rev. Geoffrey A. Black
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Division of Overseas Ministries
Co-Executive, Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples)
Rev. Dr. James A. Moos
Executive Minister, United Church of Christ, Wider Church Ministries
Co-Executive, Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples)
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Eli S. McCarthy, PhD
Justice and Peace Director
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)
Examples of specific, systematic human rights violations related to U.S. military support:
• Killings of civilians – At least 2,969 Palestinian civilians uninvolved in hostilities were killed by the Israeli military between December 29, 2000 and December 31, 2009. This includes at least 1,128 children under the age of 18.5 Many of these deaths are connected to weaponry the U.S. underwrites.
• Suppression of legitimate political expression and protest – U.S.-supplied tear gas has been used by Israel to systematically suppress political protests and dissent in the occupied Palestinian territories. This has led to the deaths of at least 5 Palestinians and the grave injury of many others, including two U.S. citizens.
• Home demolitions and forced displacement – According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, approximately 24,813 Palestinian homes in the occupied Palestinian territories have been destroyed since 1967. House demolitions in the West Bank in 2011 forcibly displaced nearly 1,100 Palestinians (over half of them children) from their homes, over 80% more than in 2010, according to the United Nations (UN) Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (6).
• Use of prohibited weaponry in densely populated civilian areas – Israel has used both white phosphorus and flechette shells in Gaza and Lebanon in violation of international humanitarian law. During operation cast lead white phosphorus shells were fired against civilian targets including a UN compound, two hospitals, and private residences causing civilian deaths and injuries. Flechette shells have also been used repeatedly in Gaza since 2001, causing significant civilian deaths and casualties (7).
• Restricting Palestinian movement – Israeli-only roads and more than 500 roadblocks and checkpoints carve up the West Bank, making travel for Palestinians arduously slow or impossible (8). The Wall constructed by Israel in the West Bank deviates considerably from the 1967 lines, confiscating occupied Palestinian territory and water in the process, and severely restricting Palestinian movement. Since 2007 Israel has also maintained a comprehensive blockade on Gaza, restricting not only the movement of Palestinians into and out of Gaza, but also restricting the import and export of goods. The UN and International Committee of the Red Cross have both concluded that this blockade amounts to collective punishment (9), in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
2 Weapons in this instance include “crowd control” items such as tear gas. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74) which is included in the US Foreign Military Financing regulations stipulates that “not later than 90 days after enactment of this act and 6 months thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing any crowd control items, including tear gas, made available with appropriated funds or through export licenses to foreign security forces that the Secretary of State has credible information have repeatedly used excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful, and organized dissent.”
3 While this letter focuses on US-Israel relations and the Israel-Palestine conflict, these are laws that we believe should be enforced in all instances regardless of location. All allegations regarding the misuse of US supplied arms should be investigated.
4 http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/07/11/v-print/155813/report-violence-against-palestinians.html For more information see also: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/lambs-to-the-settlers-slaughter-screaming-and-unheard.premium-1.455937
5 Details available at http://www.weaponstoisrael.org/article.php?id=2940 and through original date from B’Tselem at www.btselem.org/statistics.
Jim W. Dean was an active editor on VT from 2010-2022. He was involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews.
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