War Resisters League Protests Mid-East War
War Resisters League
It is time to stop speaking of “violence” in the Middle East and to begin to call what is happening by its right name: war. The long and brutal repression by the state of Israel of the urgent Palestinian demand for independence has escalated into all-out war.
The War Resisters League holds fast to our nearly 80-year-old pledge of resistance to all war. We condemn all acts of terror, whether committed by desperate individuals armed with little more than their own bodies or by a heavily armed state driven past sanity by its tragically misplaced notions of security. We deplore equally the violence of the suicide bombings, in which innocent civilians are the target, and the violence of the Israeli military, whose prolonged occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has made innocent civilians the target. We could contrast the excessive loss of Palestinian lives—most of them civilian—against the more modest loss of Israeli lives—most of them civilian, but when we add the two figures together, we grieve at the suffering on both sides.
The horrific violence of the suicide bombers has made it too easy to ignore the terrible question, What has driven these people to give their lives? What is the nature of the prolonged oppression and hopelessness in the Occupied Territories that would persuade young people to kill themselves and others in this way? What the government of Israel—and its supporters here in the United States—do not seem yet to grasp is that the violence is about an occupation that is illegal, immoral, and will, over the long run, bleed Israel to death. There is a point, fast approaching when the hope of an Israel at peace with its neighbors will be gone—and if that hope goes, then, over the long run, Israel too may pass.
Almost thirty years ago, at another wrenching, bloody moment in this long conflict, the War Resisters League put out a “Statement on the Middle East,” in which we called for goals that seem just as relevant today:
! Mutual recognition by the Arab states, Israel, and the Palestinian people of Israel’s statehood (within its 1967 borders) and the right of Palestinians to have a state;
* An international Jerusalem;
* An end to arms sales in the Middle East by all countries; and
* An immediate end to the slaughter.
To those, we would add today an explicit demand that Israel withdraw from the Occupied Territories—including the settlements illegally established since 1967—and recognize the Palestinians’ rights as refugees.
Our deepest appeal is to the forces of nonviolence and reconciliation in both communities and in the world community; our deepest hope is with them. Israeli reserve soldiers by the hundreds are refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories; Israeli women and men are joining with Palestinians to organize, demonstrate and, in many cases, put their bodies on the line for peace. International nonviolent activists, too—from all over the world—are in the besieged cities and towns of the Occupied Territories as we write this, also putting their bodies between Palestinians and gunfire. The sight of these heroes—people with no stake in the matter other than a passion for peace and justice—is helping to move world opinion toward peace.
Meanwhile, it is the unstinting military, diplomatic and financial support of Israel by successive administrations of our government that has made this war possible. U.S. support undergirds and underwrites all Israel’s policies. The military equipment Israel is using to ravage the West Bank is paid for with U.S. taxes. As we have always said, it is long past time to end all military aid to any country. And it is up to us—the U.S. people—to pressure the U.S. government to withdraw that aid from Israel until Israel ends its 35-year occupation, evacuates the illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, ceases practicing state terrorism, and genuinely moves toward the just peace in the region that will ultimately assure a viable Palestinian state and regional acceptance of Israel.