Rev. Catherine Alder endorsed 2021-11-23 13:35:21 -0800
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:
- "Detained Bodies" (FOSNA)
- "Israeli High Court Greenlights Holding Palestinian Bodies as Bargaining Chips" (B'Tselem)
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.Endorse
Rev. Catherine Alder posted about Support the Nobel Peace Prize nomination for BDS! on Facebook 2018-02-20 12:43:42 -0800I just signed a FOSNA petition supporting the Nobel Prize nomination for the BDS movement! Add your voice!1,115 signatures
Norwegian parliamentarian and Red Party leader Bjørnar Moxnes officially nominated the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for a Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of February. In his statement, Moxnes wrote, “It’s high time for us to commit to doing no harm, and for all states to withdraw their complicity in Israel’s military occupation, racist apartheid rule, ongoing theft of Palestinian land, and other egregious human rights violations.”
As activists and people of faith communities from around the world, representing multiple denominations and many religious backgrounds, we write today to affirm our support for the Nobel Peace Prize nomination. BDS is a powerful, rights-based, grassroots, and Palestinian-led initiative. It is supported by an overwhelming number of Palestinian civil society groups. BDS is an important tool for solidarity that allows the people of the world to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, in the face of international bodies and world leaders who consistently fail to do so. In the 12 years since its 2005 launch, BDS has seen widespread international support. As Moxnes states in his letter, awarding the Nobel Prize to the movement for BDS “would be a powerful sign demonstrating that the international community is committed to supporting a just peace in the Middle East.”
The authors of the Kairos document, a Palestinian Christian call for justice, quote Jer. 6:14, writing: “‘They say: Peace, peace when there is no peace.’ These days, everyone is speaking about peace in the Middle East and the peace process. So far, however, these are simply words; the reality is one of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, deprivation of our freedom and all that results from this situation.” They call upon the international community to respond with “the beginning of a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel...this is not revenge but rather a serious action in order to reach a just and definitive peace that will put an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and will guarantee security and peace for all.”
Please consider granting a Nobel Peace Prize to the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.
Rev. Catherine Alder posted about Clergy Members Stand with New Orleans on Facebook 2018-01-17 14:25:27 -0800I just signed on to a clergy letter in solidarity with New Orleans Palestine Solidarity activists! Will you sign?145 signaturesTo the City Council of New Orleans: Our affirmation, thanks and esteem.With deep appreciation for the New Orleans City Council, we affirm and support the Council's January 11, 2018 action to elevate human, civil and labor rights criteria in City investments and contracts.Especially in light of intense opposition to your principled stand, we thank you for your political and moral courage. No nation should be exempt from the standards of human, civil and labor rights as expressed in your resolution. This includes the nation of Israel, noted by your detractors as vulnerable to censure based upon its policies and actions.It is incumbent upon elected leaders at all levels to embrace the political trust and ethical responsibility they hold as stewards of public funds.This is especially true at this critical moment in history when global corporations abuse human rights to the detriment of communities and individuals.As Christian leaders, we honor the New Orleans City Council for taking a first, historic step. Thank you for establishing a process to create investment and contractual screening based on human, civil and labor rights.You continue the legacy of bold leaders such as Nelson Mandela, who said, "To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity."By affirming the values stated in its Resolution as central to the fiscal commitments of New Orleans, the City Council has offered distinguished leadership for New Orleans and a model for cities across the nation.We salute you for this action and hope other municipalities will follow your lead.
Rev. Catherine Alder posted about Thank You Presbyterians! on Facebook 2016-06-27 12:43:58 -0700Join me in thanking @Presbyterian for advocating for the safety of Palestinian children!271 signatures
This week we saw the Presbyterian community move swiftly in the direction of justice for the Palestinian people. We are grateful that the Presbyterian General Assembly voted to advocate for the safety of Palestinian children, recommend to ReMax to stop business in settlements and engage in a prayerful study of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. We applaud this measure, and look forward to joining you as you put the principles of your faith into practice.
"In particular, mobilize Presbyterians everywhere to communicate with their senators, congresspersons, and the president of the United States their concern for the safety and well-being of the children of Palestine who suffer widespread and systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture within the Israeli military detention system..." (Action 08-02, "On Advocating for the Safety and Well-being of Children of Palestine and Israel," General Assembly 222)