Close to home…

Almost two years ago, I was placed for three months as an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (click here) in occupied East Jerusalem. Currently, my friend, Dawn, is nearing the end of a three-month placement in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank (click here for her blog). Today, this news headline appears on Ma’an News‘ website:  “Rocket lands in settlement bloc near Jerusalem”. (For the article, click here.) Dove in Bethlehem.Artist: Banksy – 16 Dec. 2010 – Photo: Sherry Ann

Accompanying Palestinians and Israelis who seek a just peace means experiencing life under the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories: Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. When I think about the current aggression in Gaza and southern Israel, it seems a bit removed; however, based on my and Dawn’s lived experiences, when I think about rocket fire near East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the aggression feels much, much closer. We need to call, cry out for, an end to this occupation and the direct and indirect violence (click here). My friend, Sara, also an EA who was placed in Tulkarm in Fall 2010, has written:  “All violence against civilians, including rocket attacks from armed groups in Gaza, is strictly forbidden under international law.  However, virtually all international human rights organizations consider Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be a form of collective punishment—also forbidden under international law.  Without this being addressed there is really no hope [for] lasting peace.” Click here for her posting from 16 Nov. 2010.

One way to call for constructive action is to be present with local efforts across Canada. Click here for a list of gatherings near you; this list is provided by the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).

Following my last posting, I have received two encouraging messages from Canadian leaders. From the office of Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P., Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, I have learned that:  “Elizabeth May has issued a statement urging both sides to de-escalate the violence immediately, and work urgently toward a cease-fire agreement to prevent any more innocent lives from being lost. …it is equally important that we work to help ensure a meaningful and comprehensive peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.  In accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 181 and UN Security Council Resolution 242, the Green Party supports statehood for Palestine, and recognizes that only once the systemic issues underpinning the present crisis are dealt with, will there be lasting and genuine peace  and security between Israel and Palestine.”

The office of Thomas Mulcair, M.P. (Outremont), Leader of the Official Opposition, New Democratic Party of Canada, pointed me to this press release (or click here) from 14 Nov. 2012: “Reaction to the Situation in the Middle East

New Democrats are very concerned by the recent escalation of tensions in Gaza and Israel. We call on all sides to exercise restraint and respect international humanitarian law obligations to protect civilians at all times.  Escalation would be dangerous and detrimental to prospects for long-term peace and stability in the region.  We are monitoring the situation closely and continue to call on the Canadian government to pursue a balanced and constructive approach in the Middle East.”

For news from the Physicians for Human Rights, click here.

For a reflection from Rabbi Arik Ascherman (I met him in 2011 in East Jerusalem) with Rabbis for Human Rights, click here.

For information from CJME, click here. Also, CJME offers this: “CJPME invites Canadians to click here to email their political leaders to ask them to call for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The link will take you through two steps – taking no more than 30 seconds – to ensure that your email is sent to your own MP [Member of Parliament], as well as the leaders and foreign affairs critics of each major political party in Canada.”

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