“When my own government imposes policies based on inhumanity…dividing families and jailing children at the border…we must stand up and say there is no exception if you believe in the image of God…To hold fast the image of God in every person is to insist that the Palestinian child is as precious as the Jewish child, that all God’s children have rights.” — William J Barber II, September 28, 2018, St. Paul, MN
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela, May 8, 1995, Pretoria, South Africa
When children are ripped away from their parents, the trauma is severe and can last a lifetime. Yet, that is what is happening every day at the U.S.-Mexican border and everyday in occupied Palestine. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) police forcibly separate children from their immigrant parents while the Israeli military indiscriminately arrests and indefinitely incarcerates children in Palestine. In both places, children end up in cages and prisons. The sick soul of each country is laid bare. It is time to stand up and say, “No!”
No to the separation of children! No to the arrest and detention of children! No to state repression of children!
Currently, the U.S. government funds Israeli military abuses with taxpayer money. In April 2019, U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum introduced bill H.R. 2407, “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.” This unprecedented bill prohibits our tax money from funding the military detention of children in any country, including Israel. This bill is part of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s routine imprisonment of Palestinian children.
There is no doubt where Jesus would stand if he were here today. He would be among the cages on our border and in administrative detention cells with the children of Palestine. He knew all too well what it means to be a child vulnerable to the whims of cruel and vicious rulers. His liberating voice would cry out: Set the prisoners free!
It is up to us to imitate Jesus, do all we can to support the children of Palestine and those at our border, to set them free. As Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero once said, “We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures on our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children.”
We invite all clergy and seminarians to take a stand for the dignity and human rights of children in Palestine and at the U.S./Mexican border! By signing onto this statement today, you endorse the No Way to Treat a Child campaign and lend your voice to a growing choir of Christian leaders calling for global justice.