June 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

We cannot remain silent; peace must be possible

5 min read
As Dr. King said in his 1967 Riverside Speech, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values... A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

by Community Alliance of Lane County

At Community Alliance of Lane County, we have been horrified at the immense human suffering in Israel and Palestine, but have not known what we could add to all that has already been said; we have not known what words could possibly be helpful. Yet we cannot remain silent, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. could not remain silent when he spoke out against the Vietnam war in 1967.

Dr. King gave his famous speech under the auspices of Clergy And Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV). CALC began in Eugene in 1966 as a chapter of CALCAV. Over the years, CALC has been a forceful and consistent voice for peace, calling for alternatives to militarism and speaking out on conflicts including the wars in Iraq, Yemen, and Ukraine. We must be true to our founding commitment to peace with justice, which has long been a central part of our work and organizational identity.

The October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel was horrific. There can be no justification for the brutal murder and abduction of innocent people, old and young. The Hamas attack can only be unequivocally condemned. We similarly share anguish felt by people all over the world and condemn the collective punishment of Gazans caused by the Israeli government. The brutal and avoidable deaths of innocent Palestinian people, including thousands of children, cannot be justified.

We must base our response in values and on facts. We assert that all lives are precious, both the lives of Israelis and the lives of Palestinians. The life of one child is worth neither more nor less than the life of another child. We assert that all people deserve safety, freedom, human rights and security — Palestinians no less than Jewish Israelis. And here are some facts: Two peoples live in Israel/Palestine. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians are leaving the land they call home. Violence has not served them well. Violence has not made Israel secure. Violence has not brought freedom to the Palestinians.

We know the situation is exceedingly complex, the history long and complicated, involving many parties with conflicting interests. We know that Israeli governments have never afforded Palestinians equal rights and that Palestinians have faced violence, displacement and ongoing repression, in Gaza, in Israel and in the West Bank, including attacks by settlers and home demolitions. We know that Jewish Israelis have never been able to feel safe and secure in the land about which their ancestors dreamed during the many centuries when they faced persecution in other lands. Both Jews and Palestinians have endured multigenerational trauma.

We believe there is no military solution to this tragic situation. We call for an end now to all the violence by all parties. We are inspired by “A Joint Jewish-Arab Declaration for Peace,” signed by 34 organizations working on the ground in Israel. We join them in their call to “strive for a ceasefire” and a “stable peace” because “only peace will bring security.”

They say: “In the memory of the murdered and for the sake of the living, we must act together – Jews and Arabs – for the release of the kidnapped and captives, for the end of war, for the end of the occupation and the conflict, for peace.”

We join them in calling for a stop to the violence that we, as taxpayers, are complicit in funding and perpetuating.

We call for a release of all the hostages, including Jewish peace activists working for Palestinian human rights, and for the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails without charges. We call for a massive provision of humanitarian aid for Gazans, including fuel, food, clean water and medical aid and equipment, and for a major commitment by the U.S. to the rebuilding of Gaza once the bombing stops.

We call for an end to the state-backed settler violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. We call for the restoration of free speech rights for both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis who currently face severe repression for even the mildest suggestion of empathy for Palestinians.

As long as the government of Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, we cannot overlook the active participation of the United States in the current situation. We hear U.S. leaders call for mitigating damage to civilian populations, and for adherence to international law, while they speak against expansion of the settlements and settler violence. But until they put meaningful conditions on U.S. aid, their words ring hollow.

Here at home, we are alarmed by the terrible rise in incidents of hatred directed against both Jews and Muslims. We call on our local and national officials to take strong action against all groups and individuals who are perpetuating hatred and bigotry. We call on all of us to take care of our neighbors, to be compassionate, to recognize our common humanity and to remember that there is a difference between ruling bodies, the Israeli government and Hamas, and ordinary people who all want and deserve safety, security, freedom, and access to life’s necessities.

We insist that peace must be possible. There cannot be and there must not be a return to the unjust situation that existed before October 7.

Reconciliation is necessary. Equitable sharing of the land and peaceful self-determination for both peoples are essential. However remote or naïve that may seem right now, neither the terrible conflict of the moment nor the previous status quo are at all tenable, either for Israel or for Palestine. There simply must be a better way.

In the words of Dr. King, “Let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world…. Shall we say the odds are too great? …. Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope?”

View the text of “Joint Jewish- Arab Declaration for Peace.”

Fill out this interest form if you are interested in participating in a facilitated dialogue or related programming on this topic.

Let your representatives know your thoughts! Please feel free use the above CALC statement as a reference and context for your calls and emails to action. Encourage city council members to pass a resolution calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and to apply pressure to our senators to call for the same. Look up who represents you and how to contact them.

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