PJALS is appalled by the dramatic escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel. We are writing with heavy hearts, grieving the many dead and wounded civilian Palestinians and Israelis during the current violence in Palestine/Israel. We seek to hold each other, ourselves, and all people grieving with tenderness and care.
We condemn and mourn the extensive loss of civilian life in the past few days from actions by the Israeli military and by Hamas. The current escalation must be viewed in the context of decades of illegal Israeli military occupation and systemic violent campaigns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. To end the violence, its root causes must be addressed. Military attacks only exacerbate human suffering!
This is not a conflict between equally-resourced sides, nor is it “a fight between children of light and children of darkness.” PJALS condemns the ongoing and persistent U.S. government’s support for Israel’s apartheid regime and its massive financial and military support for the continuing violence, oppression, and human rights violations inflicted on Palestinians. Instead of fueling the volatile political situation, we call on the US to work with other international organizations to de-escalate the violence, provide humanitarian support, and call for negotiations. We call on the US to give truly peace-building attention to this region on an ongoing basis and not only react to violence.
As we mourn over 3,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israeli deaths, MoveOn provides this summary:
As the whole world grapples with the escalated violence in Israel and Palestine, the Israeli government has stopped all food, fuel, water, electricity, and humanitarian assistance from entering Gaza, which has already had devastating impacts on over 2 million people, half of whom are children. The Israeli government is preparing a massive ground invasion of Gaza as you read this, and they have already been targeting and bombing civilians in their attacks, which is an egregious violation of international law.
This comes as the Israeli government dropped tens of thousands of leaflets from the sky to issue an evacuation order to Gazans living in the northern Gaza Strip, telling 1.1 million Palestinian residents to evacuate south within 24 hours, which the UN said would be impossible without devastating humanitarian consequences. Then, despite naming which routes would be safe for evacuation, the Israeli government bombed Palestinians evacuating.
We appreciate and lift up the thoughtful essay from Joanna Ware, Rabbi Becky Silverstein, and an anonymous colleague:
[W]e must also view this moment through the lens of root causes. We cannot avoid naming and addressing the root cause of this violence: decades of oppression and Occupation. Millions of Palestinians live under Israeli control without human rights and dignity. This cannot continue. It does not need to be like this. There is no military solution in Israel/Palestine. The only stable solution is a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
As Vu Le points out, “Last year, the US committed 3.3 billion dollars to support Israel, and 99.7% of it went to the Israeli military. This week there are plans to approve a 2 billion dollar increase in aid. Our tax dollars have been funding the occupation of Palestinian territories and the oppression and murder of Palestinian people for years, and now these dollars are funding the ramped up killing of civilians, including children whose only crime is being born in Gaza.”
We also know that Christian zionists, and white nationalists, are also accountable for this violence, as they perpetuate anti-Muslim hatred and drive support for Israel’s military occupation, while perpetuating antisemitic stereotypes and using Jewish people as “a means to an end with the ultimate goal being Christian salvation” according to Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council. Christian Zionist groups are both antisemitic and anti-Muslim, while pushing a reactionary political agenda in the US. Collectively moving people—particularly white people—away from all forms of white supremacy is our work. This includes Christian Nationalism, which hatefully targets Muslims and Jewish people with seemingly benevolent bigotry, with the ultimate goal of dominating or eliminating both communities. Thank you to Showing Up for Racial Justice for this framing.
We appreciate and lift up this statement from Western States Center:
We know that histories of extraordinary injustice, pain, and violence define every facet of this conflict. We are moved with compassion for Palestinians who have suffered a violent, repressive, and cruel occupation for 75 years at the hands of the state of Israel and much of the developed world, including the United States. We are also profoundly grieved for the Israelis who seek peace and co-existence with their Palestinian neighbors, and for Jews around the world for whom the land of Israel remains a symbol of hope and security in a world that has perpetrated exile and death upon their people for centuries upon centuries.
We know that any time the Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes the news, incidents of antisemitic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry surge. …[W]e urge all who are concerned with these events to denounce violence and explicitly reject antisemitism and racism, as well as the politics of isolation, exclusion, and dehumanizing cruelty that accompany these bigotries.
We are concerned that antisemitic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim racism may be enacted in our region and we are committed to taking action against these or any bigotry in accordance with our values.
PJALS has opposed militarism and imperialism since our founding in 1975. As an organization committed to a nonviolence analysis, we recognize that violence and war often inflict gendered and sexualized harms on women and queer, trans and non-binary people. We cannot look away while this violence destroys people’s lives. As lifted up by Spectrum Center Spokane, the struggle for Palestinian liberation and for a just and lasting peace in the region is intertwined with the liberation and resistance movements led by other Indigenous, colonized, and oppressed peoples everywhere.
PJALS joins other humanitarian and human rights organizations in calls for an immediate ceasefire, an end to Israel’s current blockade of Gaza and the 16-year siege, and a prisoners’ exchange. We view these as necessary first steps, designed to prevent the loss of more lives and to lay the groundwork for comprehensive negotiations aimed at ending Israel’s apartheid regime and illegal occupation and recognizing Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
Members of PJALS’ Peace and Justice Action Committee will be meeting with staff of Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell to encourage peace initiatives in national legislation and will deliver this statement at that time.
Calls to Action, Sources, & Resources for Further Action and Self-Education
- Movement for Black Lives call to action: send a message to Congress
- AFSC call to action: send a message to Congress
- Rising Majority organizational call to action
- Statement on Behalf of Israel-based Progressives and Peace Activists
- Phyllis Bennis: As Israel and Gaza erupt, the US must commit to ending the violence — all the violence
- Naomi Klein: In Gaza and Israel, side with the child over the gun
- Black Liturgies statement on Instagram
- Ijeoma Oluo statement
- Vu Le: Our sector’s role in calling for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine
- White Awake Resource List
- Paul Kivel: Christian Zionism
This statement is issued by the Steering Committee and staff on behalf of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane on October 19, 2023. Citations are trusted sources we look to for depth and range of analysis. We recognize this statement can’t capture the full complexity and nuance of this issue or situation. We commit and ask you to commit to continued self-education.