Toula Siacotos endorsed 2021-11-23 08:40:08 -0800personal endorsement
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:
- "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
Toula Siacotos posted about Women of Faith Support Ahed Tamimi on Facebook 2018-03-10 06:52:47 -0800Sign the petition: ahed
Women of Faith Support Ahed Tamimi
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.1,422 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.
The story of murder, incarceration and a young child’s trip across the Atlantic in search of a brighter tomorrow in a distant land.
Donate on behalf of Toula Siacotos:
Toula Siacotos's activity stream
Donate Get Involved Find an Event