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Human rights voices challenge Israel's war


Many credible voices like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations claim Israel's War on Gaza is a war of ethnic cleansing. Maybe a stronger word like "genocide" might be closer to the truth.

In a territory of more than two million people, more than 26,000 Gazans are dead—the majority children and women—and almost all of them non-combatants.

That number is more than 20 times the number of Israelis killed on Oct. 7. Eighty-five percent of Gazans are internally displaced—homeless—while Israel makes the Gazan territory physically uninhabitable.

While the destruction of the Gaza strip continues, the Israeli government is soliciting other nations, mostly in Africa, South America and the Middle East, to take in Palestinians from their homeland.

While many Israelis may support forced removal of Palestinians, I am deeply grateful for the strong, moral Jewish voices, as well as other voices—faith-based or secular. These voices cry out for the world to stand against this moral travesty.

As U.S. citizens, we have to acknowledge that our own nation was founded on the grotesque practice of destruction and removal of whole peoples—for which we have yet to make restitution—but that does not give us a pass from speaking on what is happening now.

Do we just stand with our internal angst and say to ourselves, "How tragic! Such is the world!"? It is always true that "silence is complicity."

Let us speak and act in whatever capacity we can and to those we know. Let us write our governmental representatives, boycott Israeli products, align with other moral voices, especially those coming from our Jewish and Palestinian brothers and sisters.

With each passing day, the genocide continues. It is time for all sides to lay aside the weapons of war and talk of lasting peace.

For that to happen, there must be 1) a ceasefire, 2) release of 100 plus Israeli hostages and 1,100 Palestinians held in Israeli jails without charge, and 3) a way to have talks—truth and reconciliation style—that lead to a contextualized understanding of the collective traumas which are at the root of Middle Eastern violence. Neither the brutal attacks from Hamas on Oct. 7, nor the terrible reaction from Israel happened in a vacuum.

There needs to be a broad national effort for deep listening and truth-telling whereby the deep and generational pain from all sides is heard and understood. The truth and reconciliation work done decades ago in South Africa is a model of what can happen.

Out of such listening, there might then be hope for a strategy to move forward, crafted under the biblical notion that everyone deserves to "live under their own vine and fig tree, in peace and unafraid."

First, the dropping of bombs and the firing of missiles must end.

As a person of faith, I know that a world beyond fear and vengeance is possible. Indeed, it is the only world worth living for.

Gary Jewell - Pastor of the
Community Congregational United Church of Christ, Pullman

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, February 2024