Monday, June 29, 2009

Words Fitly Spoken to US

Dear Friend,
Read this letter, to Pres. Obama (thanks to my friends in the PC(USA). JRK

An Open Letter to President Obama from Christian Peacemaker Teams: Call on
Israel to Stop Its Violence against Palestinians

Dear President Obama,

On Tuesday June 15th, you said of the protests in Iran, “When I see
peaceful dissent being suppressed, whenever that takes place, it is of
concern to me and it is of concern to the American people.” For the last
13 years, Christian Peacemaker Teams have witnessed the brutal suppression
of peaceful dissent here in Palestine. In the city of Hebron and the
village of At-Tuwani, CPT supports vibrant Palestinian nonviolent
resistance to Israel’s military occupation. Every day, Palestinians hold
nonviolent demonstrations and defy curfews and closed military zones.
They rebuild demolished homes and work their land despite the threat of
arrest and attack. Though their struggle is largely ignored by the media,
we find inspiration in the way Palestinians are working for justice and

We are deeply troubled by the way Israeli authorities respond to this
nonviolent resistance. On April 22, 2006, Israeli police beat and
arrested the mayor of At-Tuwani village and his brother for doing no more
than holding a peaceful demonstration against the illegal Israeli wall.
CPT has documented the Israeli army demolishing the homes of nonviolent
resistance leaders, harassing them at checkpoints, and targeting them for

Too often, Israeli forces respond to nonviolent resistance with lethal
force. In the past nine months, Israeli soldiers have killed four
residents of the village of Ni’lin during demonstrations against the
Israeli wall. Ahmed Mousa, age 10, was shot in the forehead with live
ammunition on July 29, 2008. Yousef Amira, 17, was shot twice with
rubber-coated steel bullets in next day. On December 28th 2008,
22-year-old Arafat Rateb Khawaje was shot in the back with live
ammunition. The same day, Mohammed Khawaje, 20, was shot in the head with
live ammunition. On March 22nd 2009, American demonstrator Tristan
Anderson was shot in the face with a tear gas canister. He still lies in
the hospital in critical condition. Each of these incidents raises a
simple question: why do Israeli soldiers respond to unarmed protestors
with deadly force?

When Israel arrests, attacks and kills Palestinians who practice
nonviolent resistance, it is saying to the Palestinian people, “No matter
your methods of struggle, no matter the justice of your cause, we will not
share power with you.” In this context, it is a grave mistake to call, as
you did in your Cairo speech, for Palestinians to abandon violence without
calling on Israel to do the same. To speak as though there is no
Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement is worse than naïve; it gives
Israel permission to continue to ignore their cries for justice and

In his recent speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined
his conditions for peace with Palestine. He described a future
Palestinian state that would not be a state at all. Its borders and
airspace would be controlled by others. It would be demilitarized while
Israel remained free to continue building a nuclear arsenal. This is not
a plan for peace. It is a demand that Palestine submit to Israeli

As Prime Minister Netanyahu makes these demands, his government continues
to suppress Palestinian nonviolent resistance. Unarmed demonstrators in
N’ilin are still met with tear gas and live bullets. In Hebron and
At-Tuwani, children on their way to school are still attacked by Israeli
settlers and settlements continue to grow. We ask you, President Obama,
to demand that Israel stop its campaign of violence against the
Palestinian people. We echo the Palestinian nonviolent resistance
movement’s calls for justice and human dignity. Only justice will lead to

In Hope,
Christian Peacemaker Teams-Palestine

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