Rev. John Buttrick: Delegation must speak out against Israeli violence

  • Palestinian medics and protesters evacuate a wounded youth during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, on Monday. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 5/19/2018 12:04:59 AM

An open letter to Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster: This week the Israeli military fired from the armistice line across 300 yards of farmland in Gaza, killing more than 60 and maiming more than 2,700 unarmed Palestinian men, women and children.

Since March 30 more than 108 Palestinians have been killed participating in the “Great March of Return,” organized by the civil society in Gaza, not by Hamas. Seventy percent of Palestinians in Gaza were forced from their homes in Israel 70 years ago. Since then they have been seeking the right of return or reparation. And they seek freedom.

Sens. Hassan and Shaheen, and Congresswoman Kuster: We need your voices and your legislative initiative to counter President Donald Trump, Ambassadors David Friedman and Nikki Haley, as well as some Zionist Jews and Christians, who are saying these actions of the Israeli military are appropriate and okay. Their statements and United States complicity with the Israeli military are an embarrassment and an outrage to U.S. citizens and people of faith. They are in violation of U.S. and international law and the values of compassion, human rights, freedom and justice for all.

It is not okay to use “butterfly bullets” (bullets that explode on contact to tear flesh and fragment bone) fired from U.S. sniper rifles to kill unarmed people. It is not okay to drop gas from drones on peaceful people seeking freedom. The gas has killed at least one young child with breathing problems. It is not okay to kill people with high-powered rifles and artillery who farm and walk on their land near the armistice line or even kill young people who sling stones at the fence and armored vehicles. There have been no reports of Israeli deaths or injuries. It is not okay to imprison a whole people, bomb their infrastructure, hospitals and schools, and restrict their water, food, electricity and supplies for rebuilding. It is not okay to give billions of dollars in military aid to Israel that supports these abuses against people of the land.

It is an absolute moral imperative that you speak out firmly against this Israeli military violence and seek legislation to end U.S. complicity. Communicate with President Trump and our State Department that they must support U.N. resolutions condemning Israeli military action against Gaza, and also in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Advocate for support of an impartial investigation of Israeli military action against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Initiate legislation to withhold all military assistance to Israel until there is an end to the immoral of use of lethal weapons against civilian Palestinians and innocent children and a path toward freedom, the right of return, and equal justice for all Palestinians and Israelis: Jews, Christians and Muslims. Seek action to eliminate the introduction of Israeli military tactics in the training of our local police forces by the Israeli military.

U.S. complicity with Israeli oppression challenges our sensitivity as people of goodwill, justice and peace. It risks a trend toward normalization of violence in the name of security against people who are not just like us. We ask that you let your values of love, care, compassion, empathy and justice for the powerless inform your actions and guide your positions on Israel-Palestine and on issues of white privilege in our own country.

(The Rev. John Buttrick, United Church of Christ, lives in Concord.)

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