During this time of escalating violence throughout the Middle East, Jewish Voice for Peace would like to express our profound concern for the safety and security of all children living in the region, from Iraq and Syria to Palestine and Israel. We emphatically condemn the massive influx of weapons and military infrastructure generated by the United States, partner governments and corporations as the greatest impediment to the region’s well-being. All children, no matter their identity, deserve our protection and care.
Jewish Voice for Peace condemns the kidnapping of Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, the Israeli, West Bank teens abducted by, as yet, unidentified individuals while returning home from school. We hope for their immediate and safe return to the loving embrace of their families. The life of every person is precious and these children, no doubt, are frightened and traumatized by what has happened to them.
Jewish Voice for Peace also condemns the killing of Nadim Nuwara and Mohammad Abu Daher, two Palestinian teens who were shot in the chest by young Israeli soldiers near Ramallah in May, as well as Mohammad Dudeen, 15, who was killed by Israeli forces on June 20th. Every life is precious, and our hearts go out in particular to the families of these children.
And we condemn the ongoing incarceration by Israeli occupation forces of hundreds of Palestinian children who are so numerous, their names are virtually unknown by those outside of their families and communities. We hope for the immediate and safe return of these children to the loving embrace of their families.
No child or civilian should ever be used as a pawn. We hope that all our actions support the life and well-being of children, regardless of their religious or national origin. Sadly, this is not the case.
Finally, Jewish Voice for Peace condemns the collective punishment being imposed on Palestinians as a response to the kidnapping of the three Israeli West Bank teenagers. There has always been unequal value placed upon Israeli lives over Palestinian lives in the context of Occupation. The military response to the kidnappings in the form of a massive round-up of Palestinian men and the killing of at least two people as well as closures is disrupting daily life. Collective punishment is illegal under international law.
Israel’s repressive policies of land appropriation, dispossession, mass incarceration and siege cause wide spread harm to ordinary Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza and impede the possibility of normal, friendly relationships among Palestinians and Israelis. In addition, Israel’s refusal to halt its settlement process and respond to Palestinian calls for an end to occupation has caused a small minority of Palestinians to communicate in the language that Israelis employ on a daily basis: the language of violent resistance.
Without an end to the systemic violence generated by Israeli’s military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, tragedies like the kidnapping of three Israeli children living in West Bank settlements, and the incarceration and killing of hundreds of Palestinian children will continue to unfold. That is why people of good will seek the end of Occupation through the use of nonviolent means. Militarism will never transform conflict, protect children from harm or create lasting peace.
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
June 20, 2014