[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.
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
response prepared by Conni Gratop Lewis, peace and social justice clerk for
More information about the sayma