October 12, 2015
UUJME Statement on Escalating Tensions in Palestine-Israel: Suspend Military Aid
The Board of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) is deeply saddened and alarmed by the increasing violence in Palestine-Israel. The past several months have seen an escalation in Palestinian protests in response to killings and attacks on property and religious sites by Israeli settlers, many of whom carry guns and use them at will and with near-total impunity. A growing number of Palestinians have been killed, including children, with hundreds injured and hundreds more arrested. A growing number of Israelis are being killed and injured.
Our U.S. tax dollars are paying for the occupation in the form of billions of dollars in weapons. In the next month, the U.S. government is considering a $45 billion military aid package for Israel over the next 10 years, a 50% increase. See www.timesofisrael.com/israel-asking-us-for-50-increase-in-next-defense-package. UUJME believes that the path to peace, justice, and security for Israelis and Palestinians is not to be found in more military aid.
CONTACT U.S. OFFICIALS
Each one of the seven UU principles calls us to stand with Israelis and Palestinians to reject the proposed $45 billion military aid package for Israel. Contact U.S. officials and tell them "SUSPEND MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL until it ends the occupation and stops building settlements."
White House: 202- 456-1111, or email President Barack Obama.
Secretary of State's office: 202-647-4000; leave a message.
Federal Senate and House Switchboard: 202-224-3121. Ask the receptionist to connect you to your Senators and Representative.
Contact your representative by email.
Contact your Senators by email.
The Palestinian Red Crescent has declared a state of emergency after attacks on its ambulances and medical personnel by Israeli soldiers and settlers, and due to the growing number of deaths and injuries. Each incident produces a wave of protests, with Palestinian protestors targeted with lethal force, and vigilante style attacks against both Israelis and Palestinians.
The latest escalation of violence is not a conflict between two equal sides, but between a powerful state's military occupation infrastructure and a relatively defenseless occupied civilian population. The situation is the longest military occupation in modern history, 48 years. The occupation denies freedom and equality to millions of Palestinians and also represses Israelis who oppose the occupation.
For More Information
The Israeli peace and justice group Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) stated, "Reality is now exploding in our faces. Moment by moment, the occupation becomes ever more violent and dangerous. This right-wing government is a grave danger to all who live here. We all, on both sides, pay the price – and it becomes ever higher, with every passing day.”
Jewish Voice for Peace stated that “Nonviolent protest, economic pressure, and an end to unconditional U. S. military and diplomatic aid to Israel are the path towards a long term resolution that ends the occupation and brings about full equality for all people in the region.”
The American Friends Service Committee petition states that the $45 billion “will purchase weapons and resources that will help Israel enforce the occupation, keep Gaza under blockade, and continue violating Palestinians’ human rights. These weapons will also encourage regional arms races which sustain regional conflicts and instability.”
A Code Pink petition states “Israel uses US made and bought weapons to commit egregious human rights violations and war crimes against Palestinians living under its brutal military occupation in violation of US laws such as the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.
See the petition supported by Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and other groups.
Partial Timeline of Violent Incidents
The following are just a sample of incidents since the end of July 2015. These kinds of incidents have been occurring for years, and are becoming more frequent. Warning: images at some links are graphic.
Many other examples can be viewed at
- July 31: Israeli settlers firebombed a Palestinian home, burning to death a toddler.
- September 22: An 18-year-old college student, Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, was shot by an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron. The shooting has been ruled an extrajudicial execution by Amnesty International. The young woman was left to bleed for 40 minutes and died, and an ambulance crew that arrived quickly after the shooting was prevented from providing aid. Soldiers were reportedly seen laughing and behaving casually, while settlers took photos, and no one provided aid.
- September 24: An Israeli settler ran over 40 lambs of a Palestinian shepherd in the Nablus area.
- September 24: The Israeli Security Cabinet authorized the use of live ammunition against people throwing stones.
- September 25: Nablus police chief Colonel Abdul-Latif al-Qaddoumi’s three-year-old daughter Maram was shot in the head with rubber bullets during a village raid by Israeli forces. The police chief rushed her to his car, and forces opened fire again, injuring him in the head. Both were hospitalized.
- September 30: The Palestinian flag is unfurled at the United Nations for the first time.
- October 1: Israel provided armed escorts of extremist Jewish settlers into the compound while denying access to Palestinians.
- October 1: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared in a United Nations address that the PA will no longer be bound by the Oslo Peace Accords because Israel is not abiding by the accords.
- October 2: An Israeli settler couple was shot and killed in front of their children on October 2.
- October 2: Israel has deployed more forces to refugee camps and other areas. A growing movement to build a third temple on the site of the compound is provoking additional incitement.
- October 2: Dozens of olive trees were set on fire on Palestinian agricultural land near Nablus by settlers.
- October 4: A 19-year-old Palestinian was shot by soldiers in East Jerusalem [graphic video] after a stabbing attack on a teenager not known to be connected to this man and although he appeared to present no immediate threat.
- October 4: Two Israelis were stabbed and killed by a Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City.
- October 4: Israel severely restricts access of Palestinians to the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
- October 4: Undercover Israeli soldiers abducted a Palestinian patient from a hospital, against international law.
- October 5: Twelve-year-old Abdul-Rahman Obeidallah was shot in the chest by Israeli soldier sniper fire while walking home from school. The boy died.
- October 5: TV reporter Hana Mahamid was shot in the face with a stun grenade while filming a report in a Jerusalem neighborhood undergoing clashes.
- October 6: Three Bethlehem residents were injured by rubber bullets during the funeral march for Abdul-Rahman Obeidallah.
- October 6: Israeli soldiers detained 11 Palestinians after breaking into and searching dozens of homes without a warrant.
- October 6: Hundreds of settlers carried out attacks in Nablus, 200 others attempted to raid a town south of Nablus under the protection of soldiers, and other settler groups smashed Palestinian vehicles and ambulances by a checkpoint.
- October 7: Israeli soldiers disguised themselves as Palestinians and joined a protest, encouraging youth to throw stones at uniformed soldiers. Then they drew their handguns and restrained a youth, shooting him point blank range in the thigh.
- October 8: A female IDF soldier and four other Israelis were injured in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv. Several additional stabbings of Israelis occurred in Israel and Jerusalem.
- October 8: The Palestinian Health Minister stated that 5 Palestinians have been killed and 750 injured during protests in the past week. According to the minister, at least 90 injuries were caused by Israeli settlers, and there have been 18 attacks by Israeli soldiers targeting Palestinian ambulances, with 20 medics injured while providing help for the wounded during protests. Most injuries are being reported in the upper part of the body, indicating “shoot to kill” and not the army’s claim of engaging in “non-lethal use of force” against demonstrators.
Request a Study Guide
UUJME urges UUs to learn more about the situation. Visit our Learn and Reflect page on our website and request a free packet of study guides and DVDs today. UUJME released the first national UU curriculum on Palestine-Israel in June 2015, The 7 UU Principles and Palestine-Israel, available for free downloading at the same URL.
Consider joining or starting a chapter or group. Information is available on our Chapters and Groups page.
Learn About Occupation Investments
Learn more about companies profiting from the occupation at whoprofits.org, a research center started by Palestinian and Jewish women.
Forward to Friends and Contacts
Others can sign up to receive periodic important email updates and alerts from Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East on our website, or by sending a message to email@example.com indicating that you would like to be included on our email list. Please specify which list(s) you prefer:
- Action Alert (periodic requests to contact elected officials, sign a petition, or take other action for urgent situations)
- News Alert (periodic news updates between newsletters)
- Newsletter (maximum four emails per year)
September 6, 2015
Witness Palestine Film Series
Witness Palestine Rochester is Proud to Announce the 2015 Film Selections
The Witness Palestine Film Series is back at The Little and St. John Fisher College offering five films in September and October.
September 27, 28; October 4, 5, 2015 at The Little and October 7 at St. John Fisher College. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER
This is our fourth year seeking to enlighten and entertain with films about the people of Palestine: their culture, their situation, and their struggle. As we have from the beginning, we offer a discussion immediately following each screening featuring your questions fielded by a panelist connected with the film's topic.
The Wanted 18: Sunday, September 27, 2:00 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
This is the true story of a Palestinian village that purchases 18 cows from Israel so they can have their own independent supply of milk and break the Israeli stranglehold on supplying goods. When the State of Israel realizes their mistake, the ensuing search for the 'fugitive' cows amongst the villagers provides a poignant and humorous perspective on civil disobedience. The cows are shown in delightful animation. The people are not actors; they're the actual people of Beit Sahour in the West Bank.
Roadmap to Apartheid: Monday, September 28, 6:45 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
This award-winning documentary shows us why many Palestinians feel they are living in an Apartheid system today and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them. We wonder, "Is peace possible?"
The hopeful message at the end suggests that peace is, indeed, possible.
Where Should the Birds Fly: Sunday, October 4, 2:00 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
In this documentary with powerful images, we see life in Gaza through the eyes of two young women. Their true life experiences are not for the faint of heart. "Here in Gaza we are like caged birds. We can't fly or breathe or sing. We are locked in a cage of sadness and sorrows." – Mona Samouni, 10 years old.
Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine: Monday, October 5, 6:45 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
Come travel with an African-American gospel choir as they work alongside members of the Palestinian National Theatre to adapt, rehearse, and then perform a play about Martin Luther King, for Palestinian audiences in the West Bank. Choir members, drawn from devoutly Christian churches, are traveling to the Middle East for the first time. The singers hope to be a voice for change, but are themselves profoundly changed by the experience.
The Road to Silverstone: Wednesday, October 7, 7:00 p.m. at St. John Fisher College, Basil Hall, Room 135
The Road to Silverstone tells the true story of a group of young Palestinians from a technical college in Gaza who succeed in building a Formula 1 racing car and getting it to Britain's famous Silverstone track.
I invite you to join us. Full program information on films, panelists, and other events is available at WitnessPalestineRochester.org.
If your friends would like to get announcements from us, please ask them to send a mail note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 25, 2015
10-year anniversary of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the Palestinian call to the international community for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to end Israel’s decades long occupation of Palestine.
The world has responded to that call: global grassroots groups have pushed for boycott of products made in the illegal settlements, for divestment from companies profiting from the occupation, and for national and international bodies to hold Israel accountable for its actions.
This grassroots non-violent movement is bearing fruit: BDS has cost companies and supporters of the occupation billions in lost contracts. Just as important, it’s changing the political conversation in faith communities — as well as in boardrooms and on college campuses.
Last month, our co-religionists at the United Church of Christ voted by an 80% margin at their General Synod to divest from the occupation and to boycott products made in the settlements.
With that vote, UCC joins the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church and others who are putting pressure on Israel to comply with international law.
For the interfaith movement, it is clear that ongoing occupation, destruction of homes, detention of children and expanding settlements are actions that violate every value and principle we claim to hold dear. As the UCC Palestine Israel Network said: the days of “praying for peace and paying for occupation” are over.
So, what can you, a Unitarian Universalist, do?
1) Recognize that as U.S. citizens and taxpayers whose government supports this ongoing violation of human rights tragedy we share a responsibility to educate ourselves and friends or members of your congregation about BDS.
2) Background: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/section.php?id=203
3) Watch an explanation of BDS by Omar Barghouti, one of the movement’s founders:
4) Consider starting a study group, using our newly released study guide The 7 UU Principles and Palestine-Israel or one of the study guides prepared by the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Access the curriculum on our website, uujme.org; email email@example.com for ideas and to connect with a growing network of study group leaders across the country.
5) Read the history of BDS struggles among the Quakers, Mennonites, Methodists, Presbyterians and UCC participants below.
Interfaith divestment victories:
AFSC divests from dozens of companies
Lake Erie Yearly Meeting calls for boycott and divestment
MCC unanimously adopts AFSC no-buy list for divestment
PC(USA) votes to boycott settlement products
PC(USA) divests from companies involved in Israeli occupation
Quaker FFC divests from Caterpillar
Quaker FFC divests from HP, Veolia
UCC votes to boycott and divest from Israeli occupation
UMC votes to boycott settlement products
Eleven Annual Conferences of the UMC, representing thousands of churches, divest and endorse actions to end occupation
UMC divests from G4S in response to role in Israeli prisons