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Michael Yoshii

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  • Friends of Wadi Foquin endorsed 2021-11-23 20:44:43 -0800

    A Declaration Regarding Respect for the Bodies of the Deceased

    As religious leaders and scholars, please join us in endorsing the declaration below.

    Include your title and your religious, denominational, or organizational affiliation. For additional information:

    We, the undersigned faith leaders of the three primary monotheistic religions native to the Holy Land, declare in no uncertain terms that the bodies of fallen combatants, including enemies, should be treated with respect and afforded a proper burial. They must not be held as bargaining chips or used to collectively punish and torment their families. This is a moral and ethical requirement of all three religious traditions, applying to all parties involved, and is not simply a position based on political expediency. It is likewise required by secular international law and the provisions of Article 17 of the Geneva Convention. The practice of withholding the bodies of one’s enemies as bargaining chips, by Israel or Hamas, as well as the current Israeli policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinian combatants to punish families—in the name of both deterrence and collective punishment—is particularly abhorrent and unacceptable.

    In Judaism, says Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, refusing to return bodies to their families absolutely contradicts the core Jewish value of upholding human dignity in all circumstances. Furthermore, according to Jewish law, the burial of corpses requires same day burial (Deuteronomy 21:23) and was interpreted by sages like Nachmanides to include the bodies of enemy combatants. Ultimately, refusing to return the bodies of the deceased to family members for burial destroys the possibility of peacemaking between combatant societies, because disrespecting the dead is a deeply traumatic event that prevents reconciliation.

    In Christianity, says Rev. Naim Ateek, we believe that God, our Creator, has endowed every human being with dignity and self-worth. God breathes life into all humans. We believe that God created us in His image and has given us the breath of life. Therefore, our faith inspires us to respect the dignity which God has given to all humans, whether living or dead. Any act that dehumanizes and degrades any person must be totally rejected and resisted.

    Rev. Alex Awad elaborates further that we are taught to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and do to others what we wish others to do to us. This applies not only to the living but also to the captured corpses of our enemies. We need to handle the corpses of enemy fighters with respect because we are taught that each of us is created in the image of God. Even if a human is dead, he or she continues to reflect that image. Finally, a corpse cannot fight back or pose a threat. Hence, why retaliate or show contempt towards a lifeless body that can neither feel your retaliation nor cause you any further harm?

    Islam, says Imam Zafer Bangash, accords great value to human dignity. God grants rights to all human beings—referred to in the Qur’ān as “God’s representatives on earth” (Al-Baqarah 30)—from before one is born, throughout their life, and even after death. Dead or alive, the human body—created by God in perfect shape—must be given dignity and respect. The importance of this is illustrated in the Qur’ān (Al-Ma'idah 31). There, it is narrated that when Cain was unsure of how to deal with the body of his brother Abel—whom he had murdered—God sent a message in the form of a raven. God used the raven to dig into the ground to bury another raven, thus indirectly showing Cain how to bury his brother’s body.

    Chief Sunni Court Judge, Shiekh Muhammad Abu Zeid, elaborates further: In addition to prohibiting harm done to non-combatants (Al-Baqarah 190), promoting peaceful solutions to conflict (Al-Anfal 61), and demanding the proper treatment of prisoners (Muhammad 4), the Quran specifically prohibits the desecration of the bodies of enemies (Al-Nahal 126) or leaving the bodies of enemies in the open and unburied. This was precisely the example of the Prophet Mohammad himself after the battle of Bader (Bukhari 3976; Muslim 2875). Islamic teachings confirm the necessity of preventing unjustified wars and the necessity of preventing savage acts, which affect the souls of the living and the bodies of the dead alike.

    In each religion, therefore, the dignity of the bodies of fallen combatants must be respected for deep ethical, scriptural, and theological reasons. The corpses of our enemies should not be allowed to become pawns in a political struggle, causing anguish to families and festering hatred between peoples. 

    We therefore call on all parties to respect these principles. And, we particularly call on Israel to discontinue this inhumane practice and return the dead bodies of its enemies to their families to receive a proper, dignified burial.

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  • signed I Stand with Esther 2017-10-28 09:40:08 -0700

    I Stand with Esther

    From buses to tea, fossil fuels to grapes, boycotts are a time-honored and constitutionally protected form of speech! #IstandwithEsther and her right to boycott! 

    92 signatures

    Did you see our ad in the Kansas City Star? Donate here to help us spread this message further.

    Help us show Esther Koontz that we support her courageous stand.

    Learn more about her case, here. 

    Whenever we choose to work for peace and justice in the Middle East, we know this choice can be costly.  

    In August, Ms. Esther Koontz, a trainer of math teachers in Wichita, Kansas, and a member of the Mennonite Church USA, learned that she would not be allowed to participate in a professional program for which she was qualified because she would be required to sign a statement affirming she is not presently engaged in a boycott of Israel. When Ms. Koontz refused to sign that statement, she was informed she would be ineligible to receive payment as a state-contracted teacher trainer.  

    In gross violation of her First Amendment right to free speech, Ms. Koontz was thus denied a professional opportunity based on her conscientious determination to preserve her right to boycott companies that profit from violent and repressive business endeavors.

    This is what costly solidarity looks like. This is Christian faith and conviction applied in real time. This is moral authority speaking loudly not simply through words, but through action.

    Indeed, the June 12, 2017, letter from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine explicitly pleads for our “costly solidarity” including creative, nonviolent resistance to the military occupation of Palestinian land.

    On July 6, 2017, the Mennonite Church USA resolved overwhelmingly to review its investment practices for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that profit from the military occupation of Palestine. The Mennonite Church USA urged all church members to review their investments in a similar way.  

    The Clergy and Seminary Action Council of Friends of Sabeel North America honors the Mennonite Church USA and especially Ms. Esther Koontz for their bold actions. We express our respect, our solidarity, and our Christian faith in affirming this costly witness. We are grateful for this expression of conviction which adds authority and power to the ongoing work of the church to end military occupation of Palestine—a military occupation now in its 50th year. We are pleased to know the American Civil Liberties Union will argue Ms. Koontz’s case on Constitutional grounds.

    May God grant strength, relief, and many steadfast allies as this case plays out in the courts. We aim to be among those allies.

    Friends of Sabeel North America Clergy and Seminary Action Council

     

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  • signed SRT G4S Campaign 2015-11-18 17:22:49 -0800

    To: Sacramento Regional Transit Board of Directors

       Because G4S, the world’s largest private security company, is complicit in and profiting from well-documented violations of human rights and other international laws, we the undersigned ask that you: 1) not extend Sacramento Regional Transit’s current contract with G4S, allowing it to expire on June 30, 2016; 2) develop criteria to be included in Request For Proposals (RFP) for the next contract to exclude companies that are involved in human rights violations; and 3) do not award G4S another contract if they are still engaged or complicit in violations of human rights and international law.

       We add our voices to the letter that you have received from local organizations and individuals and to others around the world who are calling on G4S to reform its business practices and have refused to do business with them until they do.  

    (For technical assistance, please feel free to email [email protected])

    1,637 signatures
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