Mary Allen endorsed 2023-10-11 16:27:40 -0700
East Jerusalem, Palestine - October 2023
Terrible violence continues between Israeli forces and armed Palestinian resistance groups, resulting in thousands of dead and injured on each side, including scores of civilian men, women, and children. This devastating escalation comes in the wake of a surprise attack on Israel by Hamas, with Israeli leadership threatening long-term violence and destruction.
At Sabeel, we envision a future where every life holds intrinsic value, and every individual enjoys freedom and safety, irrespective of their background or identity. Sabeel condemns and mourns the tragic loss of all life and human suffering. We categorically reject all forms of violence. And, we recognize that the only way forward for us is non-violence.
It has been 75 years since the Nakba, 57 years of brutal military occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and 16 years since the suffocating military blockade of Gaza began. In light of this seemingly endless march of dispossession and death, armed Palestinian resistance groups initiated an unprecedented assault, including the tragic massacre of Israeli civilians. Responding, the Israeli government has engaged in airstrikes, indiscriminate bombing campaigns, and responsive actions that amount to war crimes—accompanied by genocidal rhetoric—against the civilian population in Gaza. Recent events have witnessed the tragic deaths and injuries of numerous Israelis and Palestinians, along with the abduction of civilians.
As we experience and attentively keep track of events as they unfold, it is pivotal to remember:
- Palestinians have been under attack, suffering dispossession and dehumanization from Zionism, for over 75 years.
- The continuation of Israel's policies related to displacement, apartheid, and occupation has been facilitated by the backing of several dominant global powers, notably the U.S., which remains deeply involved in this conflict.
- In the past year, an extreme shift to the far-right in the Israeli government has seen an intensified and ruthless military occupation. The Palestinian people face violent expulsions, house demolitions, mass killings, sieges, and daily indignities.
- There are recurring, oftentimes violent, incidents where Jewish extremists and Israeli forces disrupt the right to freedom of worship, storming the Muslim Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, attempting to lay claim to the site, and intimidating peaceful devotees.
- The Israeli authorities have imposed exceptional restrictions on Palestinian Christians and churches, particularly during their religious festivities. Attacks by radical Jewish groups on Palestinian Christian communities and properties persist, with little to no action in response from the Israeli authorities.
- Over the years, the people of Gaza have felt the chokehold of a strict Israeli blockade by air, sea, and land, effectively trapping over two million individuals and depriving them of fundamental human rights. In recent days, Israel has prohibited all food, fuel, electricity, or water from entering Gaza.
- Palestinian prisoners, including children, are routinely assaulted, bound, blindfolded, and dragged from their residences in the early hours by Israeli occupation forces, often detained without formal charges or trial in military prisons for months or years. Peaceful protests against these policies, even in the form of hunger strikes, are met with harsh repercussions.
- Many Palestinian residences across various villages and towns are either set ablaze by Israeli settlers or demolished by military operations.
- Whole Palestinian communities have been forced to vacate their ancestral homes and lands, at times to facilitate Israeli military drills.
For 75 years, Israeli policies have revolved around displacement, military occupation, and the maintenance of an apartheid regime. The suffering over these years is significantly tied to the role of the international community in this turmoil, most especially the United States alongside global powers like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and others. By consistently supporting Israel, the U.S. and other powers indirectly further the ongoing violence. The unchecked military aid, diplomatic shielding, and enormous financial support from the U.S. play a part in bolstering Israel's existing policies. Unwavering backing for the Israeli military only perpetuates the cycle of violence.
In light of these challenges, we, the undersigned, pledge our commitment to nonviolence, influenced by the following convictions:
- The might of the Israeli Army and its affiliates is unparalleled; violence will not bring victory.
- Nonviolence is a potent force. It enables collective participation from Palestinians, Israelis, and the international community. The path of nonviolence is the most impactful.
- Our ultimate struggle is not against individuals; it is against evil. Violence harms individuals, but our true adversary is the inherent evil of occupation and racist ideologies, which can be vanquished with good, for God is the embodiment of goodness.
- We champion nonviolence because it resonates with the divine principles set by the Creator. As rain is impartial, showering both the oppressed and oppressors, we uphold God's ways.
To all those who believe in and exercise violence, we want to say:
- Reject violence; it's not the solution. Don't be governed by wrath or vengeance.
- To those still gripping their weapons, we beg you to adhere to the principles of the Geneva Conventions and the laws of armed conflict. Upholding the sanctity of civilian lives is a shared tenet across religions and human morality. Let all combatants refrain from the wanton destruction of human life and adhere, at the very minimum, to the principles of distinction, proportionality, military necessity, fair treatment of prisoners, and no means malum en se (inherently evil methods).
- We do acknowledge those who have chosen to observe international humanitarian law even in the midst of so much devastation.
We extend an invitation to our friends, partners, and everyone devoted to justice, peace, and reconciliation to support our nonviolent mission. The longstanding policies of displacement, military occupation, and apartheid by the Israeli government must be dismantled, but not at the cost of our values and humanity. The elimination of the other is not a viable option. Stand with us in our nonviolent endeavors.
The international community must understand that lasting peace and the cessation of violence are intertwined with the pursuit of genuine justice based on international law. Palestinians call for a fair resolution to the injustice of the Nakba, an end to the 1967 military occupation, and an end to the apartheid system. The tenacity and spirit of the Palestinian people stand unwavering, with sumud ("steadfast perseverance") consistently evident. The nonviolent majority of Palestinians, along with our Israeli and international friends, should continue to harness creativity and courage as their primary tools, and it is imperative for all who seek liberation, justice, and peace in Palestine and Israel to uplift and support each other.
Consider supporting our essential work for authentic peace built upon a foundation of justice with a contribution to Sabeel at https://www.fosna.org/donatesabeel.Endorse
Mary Allen endorsed 2022-05-26 14:30:56 -0700
President Biden is on his way to the Holy Land. In response, FOSNA is seeking organizational endorsements for the letter below asking the US administration to address the concerns of local Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem. Please read the letter and complete the form below to endorse, by midday Friday. Time is of the essence.
President Joseph R. Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden,
In your forthcoming visit to the Holy Land, it is our hope that you take time to address the concerns of local Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem. We hope that you would meet with local church leaders as well as representatives of local Christian organizations to hear of their desire for a shared Jerusalem, open and accessible to all and not the exclusive domain of Jewish Israelis.
Christian clergy in Jerusalem have complained for years about an ongoing series of assaults, attacks, insults, and harassment by Jewish extremists in the Old City, as well as the defacement of their churches, property, and graveyards. They have also experienced what seems to be a determined campaign by Jewish Israeli groups to take over church properties in and around Jerusalem, relying on harassment, pressure, secret deals with corrupt officials, and forgeries. The response by the Israeli authorities used to be that such activities constituted individual acts by a fringe group of Jewish extremists who hated Christians, and who were as much of a headache to the authorities as they were to the Christian Churches.
With spurious excuses, Israel also restricts Muslims and Christians access to Jerusalem and its holy places. Having illegally annexed East Jerusalem, it treats Palestinians from nearby Bethlehem, Ramallah, and the rest of the West Bank and Gaza as foreigners who cannot come into the Holy City without permission from Israel. The apartheid nature of the state of Israel leaves all power in the hands of a government dedicated only to Jewish interests, rather than the interests of all the peoples of the land. In the city of Jerusalem, such a policy only leads to hatred, conflict, and bloodshed. Jerusalem is important to Jews, but it is also vitally important to Christians and Muslims.
This year witnessed an escalation of settler encroachment and attacks by Jewish extremists, as well as increased evidence of direct Israeli government involvement. This Easter, and for the first time ever, Israeli police announced that they would restrict the number of worshippers at the Church of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulcher) for the Ceremony of the Holy Fire to 1000 (the church holds about 11,000) and would limit the number of Christians coming into the Old City on Easter to a mere 500. At the same time, a group of settlers who were escorted by Israeli police forcibly broke into and occupied church property near the Jaffa Gate (claiming that they had purchased these rights, in a shady deal that is being contested in the courts.)
The Israeli extremists behind these attacks are no longer a fringe group in Israel, but are now openly represented in the Knesset and even within the ruling government coalition. These religious fanatics are now framing their plans as being integral to the Zionist goal of exclusive Jewish control over Jerusalem, which they claim must be a Jewish city under the sole control of Israel. Meanwhile, secular Zionists who have no interest in a religious war with Muslims or Christians are nonetheless happy to assert exclusive Jewish claims to Jerusalem as a national, political goal.
Christian Zionists, who were close to the previous administration, also use religious arguments (if spurious) to support their political positions, claiming that support for Zionist goals in Jerusalem is somehow part of God’s plan for the End Times. It is shameful that such groups not only support Jewish religious extremists but evidence a clear hostility towards both Muslims and local Palestinian Christians. They would be delighted to see a bloody, catastrophic religious war that in their thinking will bring about Armageddon and hasten the Second Coming.
The assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American Christian journalist from Jerusalem, and the disgraceful behaviour of the Israeli police at her funeral highlight the need for an end to the Occupation, in accordance with international law. It likewise highlights the need that Palestinians living under Israeli rule have for international protection and the need to safeguard freedom of religion, free access to the holy places, and a peaceful sharing of the Holy City within the terms of the historic Status Quo arrangements, in existence prior to Israel’s assertion of total control over the city.
President Biden, we implore you to uphold your stated commitment to human rights and international law, supporting arrangements that uphold human dignity and freedom of religion for all the peoples of the land. We desire free access to the Holy Places for believers seeking to worship God “in spirit and in truth,” as opposed to those who would abuse God’s name by using it to assert exclusive political claims. The delicate balance enshrined in the historic Status Quo agreements should be meticulously observed, and exclusivist claims on behalf of any one of the three monotheistic religions must be resisted as a formula for disaster for all concerned. Jerusalem is too important to be the sole domain of any one group, and it must be shared by all.
We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the safety and prosperity of all who hold it dear (Psalm 122:6).
Executive Director, Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Mary Allen posted about Women of Faith Support Ahed Tamimi on Facebook 2018-03-12 13:19:55 -0700Sign the petition: ahed
We call on women of faith, from all denominations and religions, to sign on to the below letter from Unitarian Universalist minister Rev. Amanda Weatherspoon. Rev. Weatherspoon went on our Living Resistance: No Child Behind Bars speaking tour against child detention from the U.S. to Palestine in January of 2017. Read her letter on Ahed's situation below, and add your voice to the chorus of people speaking out in support of Ahed Tamimi, her mother Nariman Tamimi, and the entire Tamimi family.1,418 signatures
Last January, I went on a speaking tour with FOSNA that was supposed to include Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi. The tour was titled “Living Resistance: No Child Behind Bars,” and it focused on child detention and mass incarceration from the United States to Palestine. Unfortunately, today, 17-year-old Ahed herself is behind bars due to her activism. She spent her 17th birthday inside an Israeli prison.
Ahed was never granted a visa, so she could not physically be with us on the tour. However, we produced this short documentary of her speaking, in her own words, about her work and daily struggles. The video has been shared worldwide, and has garnered millions of views. Between the tour, which visited 18 U.S. cities in two weeks, and the video, Ahed’s powerful words and story have reached millions of people.
Though still just a child, Ahed has today become a prominent figure of nonviolent resistance, serving a leading role in her community of Nabi Saleh, which has staged nonviolent protests against Israel’s occupation for years. In the early morning hours of December 19, 2017, then-16-year-old Ahed Tamimi was arrested, along with her mother, Nariman, and cousin Nour. The women were arrested after a video of Ahed slapping an Israeli soldier went viral. The soldier had, just minutes before, shot her cousin point blank in the face, and was attempting to enter her home to shoot at other children. Ahed bravely stood up to the soldier, preventing him from entering her family’s home, and possibly saving other young people in the process.
Since her arrest, Ahed’s trial date before the Israeli military court (which has a 99.7% conviction rate for Palestinians) has been postponed multiple times and has been closed off to reporters. Her cousin was released, but her mother is still in prison, and the Israeli army recently arrested 10 other members of her family, including her cousin, Mohammad, who was shot in the face the day she was arrested, and is still recovering from his wounds.
Many Palestinians, including children, are subjected to torture and maltreatment while in Israeli custody. We are concerned for Ahed’s well-being in the Israeli prison, and join the chorus of people around the world demanding her immediate release. And while Ahed is an exceptionally brave young leader, her case is not unique. Hundreds of thousands of young Palestinian girls and women stand up to Israel’s occupation and aggression every day in Palestine. Many are arrested and tortured, without so much as a moment of media attention, for their acts of brave resistance.
Today, I call on women of faith all over the world, from all religious and denominational backgrounds, to join me in demanding the immediate release of Ahed and Nariman Tamimi, as well as the other members of their family.
Rev. Amanda Weatherspoon
Unitarian Universalist Minister
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
Mary Allen posted about Live Stream: Omar Barghouti at the Palestine Center on Facebook 2017-04-24 13:11:22 -0700Check out Friends of Sabeel North America. I just joined.
As part of his visit to the U.S., Palestinian BDS activist Omar Barghouti will be speaking this Thursday, April 27, at The Palestine Center in Washington D.C. More information is available here.
Barghouti’s speech will be live streamed by The Palestine Center. To register for the live stream and get updates when it goes online, sign up here.Sign up
Mary Allen donated 2016-08-10 18:40:46 -0700
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Mary Allen posted about Thank You Presbyterians! on Facebook 2016-06-28 18:56:21 -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)
Mary Allen posted about Faith G4S on Facebook 2015-11-29 13:56:52 -0800Religious leaders, urge the UN to cease relations with G4S due to its active role in human rights violations #DropG4S
Dear Mr. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
We, the undersigned religious leaders, are deeply troubled that the United Nations has a number of major contracts with the international security company G4S, which provides services to UN facilities and agencies in violation of the UN’s own guidelines. We urge the UN to end its relationship with G4S because of the company’s active role in human rights abuses (continues below)...81 signatures
(continued from above)
...Our diverse faith traditions all proclaim that each human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). This belief provides a moral imperative to respect the dignity of every person regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation. Intrinsic to human dignity are the rights that enable each person not only to survive but to thrive; that is, to fulfill his or her God-given potential. This theological principle is at the heart of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the body of international and human rights law.
Our sacred texts (1) clearly teach us that human societies must restrain any attempts to violate the dignity of individuals or populations through deprivation or torture, that is, through violations of human rights—and in fact must make positive efforts to assist the needy and the oppressed. The specific emphasis on the most vulnerable among us—the poor, hungry, and children—must be granted a high priority of those needing special attention as protected persons.
G4S is complicit in Israel’s human rights violations, and it demonstrates by its actions that it does not support or respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.
G4S has an ongoing contract with the Israeli prison service to provide and maintain security systems at Israeli prisons that currently hold almost 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners.(2) Palestinian and international human rights organizations have documented widespread torture and mistreatment of Palestinian political prisoners, including children.
- By maintaining security systems at Israel’s prisons, G4S assists Israel in using mass incarceration to deter Palestinians from protesting against Israel’s violations of international law and is complicit in Israel’s violations of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier.
- G4S provides equipment and services to checkpoints that make up the route of Israel’s separation wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004; to private businesses in illegal Israeli settlements; and to Israeli police facilities in other Israeli government(3) buildings in the occupied West Bank.
- G4S has provided equipment to checkpoints that enforce the siege of Gaza.(4)
A 2012 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 criticized G4S for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law.(5)
While G4S has made various commitments to end some aspects of its participation in Israeli human rights violations, it has not yet met any of these commitments, and has instead tried to deflect criticism of its role in Israeli human rights violations. It has hired known pro-Israel advocates to write legal analyses of its activities in Palestine/Israel. These analyses, commissioned by G4S, are neither independent nor credible.(6)
G4S commits grave human rights violations around the world.
- G4S has been implicated in labor rights violations at several of its global sites. Official complaints under OECD guidelines from G4S sites in Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, and others led to a G4S commitment to workers’ rights in 2008, but despite this, in the following years G4S was implicated in labor rights abuses in Uganda, South Korea, and South Africa, demonstrating that G4S cannot be trusted to maintain the fair conditions to which it formally agrees. (7)
- G4S has a deplorable track record of serious negligence and violent abuse in prisons it runs around the world. In the UK, G4S lost a contract for one of its multiple private prisons after evidence emerged of improper management of health care provision, suicide prevention, and human rights protection. In South Africa, investigations exposed G4S security teams using electric shocks and forcible medical injections of anti-psychotic drugs at the Mangaung prison.(8) In the United States, G4S operates juvenile detention facilities, provides infrastructure to track and confine formerly incarcerated people, and works alongside Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection to detain and deport people across the U.S.-Mexico border and to transfer immigrants to detention facilities across the country.(9)
- G4S has also been criticized for deaths in custody during deportation and immigrant detention. In one well-known case, Angolan national Jimmy Mubenga was suffocated to death by three G4S guards while being deported in 2010. In another case, Kenyan national Eliud Nguli Nyenze died at a removal center run by G4S, after he was refused medicine earlier in the day despite his complaints of severe pain.(10) G4S received 1,497 complaints in three years regarding its human rights record in these deportation institutions.(11)
The UN has an obligation to uphold human rights.
The UN Supplier Code of Conduct states “the UN expects its suppliers to support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights and to ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.” The UN Group on the Use of Mercenaries recently reported the risks of hiring companies with tarred human rights records.(12) We urge the UN to apply its own principles and standards and to end its relationship with G4S due to its clear and active role in human rights abuses.
(1) Throughout Hebrew and Christian Scriptures there is a conspicuous mandate to protect the vulnerable, the powerless, and the marginalized. Merely a few examples of these texts, as translated in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, are as follows: In the Hebrew Scriptures: Exodus 22:22 (You shall not abuse any widow or orphan), Exodus 23:9 (You shall not oppress a resident alien), Deuteronomy 24:17 (You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge), Psalm 146:7 ([The LORD] who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free). In the Christian Scriptures: Luke 6:20–21 (Blessed are you who are poor; for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.), Matthew 25:35–36, 40 (. . . for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. . . . Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me).
(2) Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer Monthly Detention Report, 1 April 2015, http://www.addameer.org
(3) Defence for Children International, Palestinian Children in Israeli Military Custody Face Physical Violence, 20 January 2014, http://www.dci-palestine.org/documents/palestinian-children-israeli-military-custody-face-physical-violence
(4) Who Profits from the Occupation, March 2011, The Case of G4S: Private Security Companies and the Israeli Occupation. http://whoprofits.org/g4s_report
(6) United Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 25 October 2012, “Boycott businesses that profit from Israeli settlements”—UN Special Rapporteur.
(7) Amena Saleem, 11 June 2014, G4S hires pro-Israel professor to whitewash war crimes, http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/amena-saleem/g4s-hires-pro-israel-professor-whitewash-war-crimes
(8) War on Want, June 2014, G4S: Securing Profits, Globalising Injustice. http://www.waronwant.org/sites/default/files/G4S%20securing%20profits,%20globalising%20injustice%20(corrected%202015).pdf
(10) Global Exchange, G4S Worldwide, http://www.globalexchange.org/economicactivism/g4s/worldwide. 11 Karon Monaghan QC, 31 July 2013, Inquest into the Death of Jimmy Kelenda Mubenga.
(11) War on Want, June 2014, G4S: Securing Profits, Globalising Injustice.
(12) 21 August 2014, Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of people to self-determination. http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N14/513/59/PDF/N1451359.pdf?OpenElement
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])1,438 signaturesAdd signature