Opinion: Advocating for a safer future

Protesters gather outside the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 26.

Protesters gather outside the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 26. Patrick Post / AP


Published: 01-30-2024 6:00 AM

Amy Antonucci of Barrington is Chair of the NH Peace Action Education Fund Board. Marcus Christian Hansen of Alstead is a member of the NH Peace Action Education Fund Board. This My Turn is written on behalf of the NH Peace Action Board of Directors.

NH Peace Action has been educating, mobilizing, and organizing to build a more peaceful and just future for all through nonviolent action for over 40 years. We believe, and have seen, that mutual benefit and shared security lead to a more just and peaceful global community. Many places in the world are caught in cycles of violence, and we believe everyone deserves better — including Israelis and Palestinians.

We do not justify the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, reportedly killing 1,100-1,200 and taking as hostages more than 240 people. Neither, though, can the Israeli government’s brutality against the Palestinian citizens be justified, since that day or before it. Further, unqualified support and supply of weapons by the U.S. fueling this terrible situation cannot be excused.

According to the AP, the death toll in Gaza has passed 25,000, with women and children making up an estimated two-thirds of the dead. The Israeli military has dropped tens of thousands of U.S. bombs on Gaza and forcibly displaced 2 million Palestinians — 90% of Gaza’s population. Hospitals, schools, refugee camps and civilians have been targeted. Along with this brutal destruction, Israel’s government is depriving people in Gaza of food, water, shelter, medical assistance, and other basic needs.

These attacks not only create death and suffering today, but they deny the people of Israel and Palestine any hope for a shared democratic future while destabilizing the entire region.

Many have been speaking out for decades about the ongoing unjust, volatile situation in Israel and Palestine. However, leaders around the world neglected the issue. Even talking about this issue in the U.S. can risk one’s livelihood and safety. However, the only way to solve a problem is to understand it. Not being allowed to speak up for the human rights of Palestinians or to criticize Israel’s government traps everyone.

Peace activists are often told that we’re naive to think that nonviolence and negotiation will be effective. Many of us think the belief that terror and violence will bring about peace is far less sensible.

In fact, the one-week ceasefire that allowed hostages held by Hamas and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel to be exchanged showed that negotiation is possible.

We have hosted programs with Palestinians and Israelis who have been working together for years to create peaceful relationships with each other, through groups like Combatants for Peace, Parents Circle-Families Forum, and Standing Together. In the U.S., Jewish Voice for Peace advocates for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people. Even now, their work continues, even grows.

History is filled with examples of how wars have ended and how people have learned to live together even after horrors have been inflicted. Recent examples include South Africa and Northern Ireland. In Ireland, the U.S. role in supporting diplomacy instead of weapons shipments played a hugely positive role in ending the bloodshed.

On a more individual level, we seem to believe in a system of laws to curb aggressive behavior. When people’s family members are murdered, they are not permitted to shoot the perpetrator’s family, friends, and neighbors. International law has similar rules but we have been ignoring those. We allow retribution and revenge to become a larger goal even though that continues to prove a poor way to create a safer world.

While our senators and representatives correctly condemned Hamas for its horrible attacks on civilians, they continue to support and fund the Israeli government while it collectively punishes civilians, bombs schools and hospitals, forcefully relocates citizens, and kills thousands. Now the U.S. has directly entered the fray by bombing Yemen, an already war-torn country.

Please join us in speaking for de-escalation before this spirals further out of control. Contact your representatives, Sens. Shaheen and Hassan and Congresspeople Pappas and Kuster, to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, an end the blockade of Gaza, and that international law be respected by all.

We can also ask them to look at the roots of this violence and rethink the US role, including the billions in military aid we send to Israel to maintain a system of oppression and violence rather than directing towards the needs of U.S. citizens. Donate to the civil organizations in Israel and Palestine who continue to work for peace, even in these dire circumstances. Join with others, through NH Peace Action or another group, to advocate for a safer future for us all.