[saymaListserv] Charleston (WV) Meeting response to draft Mideast minute

Vmbra at aol.com Vmbra at aol.com
Thu Jun 21 21:16:34 JEST 2001

On June 3, 2001, Charleston Friends Meeting held a discussion/threshing 
session to consider the minute on Mideast policy that was forwarded from 
SAYMA. The meeting's response is below. 

Charles Schade
Charleston, WV


Response of the Charleston (WV Friends Meeting:
    The level of oppression of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli 
government (curfew, identity papers, restrictions on movement, home 
demolitions, etc.) exceeds that of the South African  government during the 
apartheid era.  This comes from Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourner's who was in the 
middle east recently, accompanied by other clerics, including South African.
    There is nothing in the minute condemning violence by Palestinians 
against Israeli civilians.  Most recently was the suicide bomber outside the 
Tel Aviv nightclub.  It doesn't matter who committed the first act of 
violence.  All of it is wrong.
    It appears that the Palestinians engaged in the violence are more 
interested in creating martyrs than in creating a solution.  Otherwise, 
wouldn't someone have noticed that nonviolent activism is more effective than 
terrorism, especially when directed against a nation seeking the support of 
the West.  It would seem appropriate to encourage the Palestinians to follow 
the examples of  the South Africans, Chileans, Poles Filipinos and others who 
have successfully thrown off oppression with little or no violence.  
    There are reports that the Israelis still see themselves as weak, not 
strong and that would explain some of the government's behavior.  It's easy 
to be statesmanlike and magnanimous when you're in a position of strength.
    There is nothing in the minute that acknowledges we are all, 
theologically, Abraham's children.  Nothing reflecting that both nations have 
roots in the region going back thousands of years.  Nor is there anything to 
acknowledge that the US government has been actively engaged in the peace 
process for many years.
    The Charleston Friends meeting believes that there are concrete actions 
available to Friends to address the thorny issue of violence in the Middle 
East.  These include contact with peace groups in that region.  We should all 
learn more about the history and cultures of the Middle East.  It is more 
complicated and rich than most Americans know.  Do we know people whose roots 
are in that area>  Do we have Arab Americans (both Christian and Islamic) 
among our friends?  Do we know which of our Jewish friends support the 
actions of Israel, including retaliation and continued settlement building 
and which ones deplore the government's actions?
    More comprehensive solutions that address the problem would include 
attaching more strings to US military aid to the region, and ending economic 
aid to Israel.  It's not a struggling economy.  The level of concern that 
Israeli citizens have for their own safety must be respected as well as the 
concerns of the Palestinians.  The fact that Israel's government has 
theocratic underpinnings is a major problem.  Equal citizenship rights for 
all Israeli citizens should be instituted  (maybe a condition of US aid?)   
    Finally, we deplore that the Israelis don't seem to remember how the 
Nazis treated them in the 1930s and how is their current treatment of 
Palestinians different?

response prepared by Conni Gratop Lewis, peace and social justice clerk for 

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