Joint statement addresses human rights
June 3, 2018
Saying Palestinians have a right to demonstrate peacefully and with dignity in their decades-long conflict with Israel, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has joined more than a dozen other Christian denominations and organizations in a joint statement calling for an end to violence in the region.
Earlier this spring, Palestinians began several weeks of planned nonviolent demonstrations in the Gaza Strip near the fence with Israel. In the first two weeks of the protests, more than two dozen people were killed and thousands injured. The demonstrations commemorated the 1948 displacement and dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians.
“More than 1.3 million of Gaza’s nearly 2 million people are refugees,” the joint statement reads. “The Gaza demonstrations are an assertion of Palestinian rights: the rights of refugees, the right to demonstrate peacefully against injustice, and the right to live in and with dignity, not under closed military confinement or blockade.”
The statement urges the U.S. government to do more to protect Palestinians and to defend their rights.
“The United States stood by and allowed Israel to carry out these attacks without any public criticism or challenge,” the statement says. “Such U.S. complicity is a continuation of the historical policy and active support for Israel’s occupation and U.S. disregard for Palestinian rights. This complicity builds resentment and damages U.S. national security. Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their homes, and compensation for loss of property, as laid out by the U.N. General Assembly.”
The denominations and organizations represented by the statement say they have worked for justice, peace and equality and will continue to do so.
“We reject the use of violence by individuals, groups or states,” the statement says.
The statement includes the following:
- A call for the U.S. to support the rights of refugees, including Palestinians, based on international law and conventions.
- A recommendation for the U.S. to resume full funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which supports schools, hospitals and other essential services for Palestinian refugees.
- A call for the international community to insist on an end to the blockade of Gaza, “which has resulted in uninhabitable conditions for the people there, including poverty and lack of sufficient access to clean water, food and medicine.”
The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, says the situation between Israel and Palestine is devastating.
“It wounds the soul to realize that the highest form of morality based upon faith has been given to the world by the inhabitants of this land, and to witness Palestinians being treated with such brutality and cruelty,” he said. “Palestinians have become strangers in their own land, and Israel is in danger of becoming that which it has stood against since its conception, the oppressor of innocents. Israel must be the land where both people live side by side in peace, cooperation and mutual benefit. But Israel must first stop utilizing overwhelming force as its primary response to any call for Palestinian justice and equality. The violence must end!”
In addition to the PC(USA), other signers include the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mennonite Central Committee U.S., National Council of Churches, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA, Reformed Church in America, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society and the United Church of Christ.
Rick Jones, Mission Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: End to Violence in Gaza
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
God, we pray for your church in all places and thank you for the opportunity to join with our brothers and sisters around the globe to do your work in the world. Amen.