For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to mourn. . . . Ecclesiastes 3
Today, I mourn. I mourn with the people of Gaza where there were at least six children who were killed and at least 60 have died from the excessive force used by the Israeli military yesterday.
Today, I mourn. I mourn with all Palestinians who 70 years ago were forced off of their land where they and their ancestors have lived since. . . . forever. Over 700,000 Palestinians became refugees when 600 villages and towns by Israelis were attacked and many destroyed by Israelis. They and their descendants are still refugees living in conditions that are deplorable.
Today, I mourn. I mourn with the land that is Palestine, a land called Holy. As it was in the time of; Jeremiah and Isaiah, Micah and Amos, Jesus and Peter, it is a land that is occupied. Occupiers, then and today, treat the people of the land with disdain and as second class citizens subservient to those who wield power.
Today, I mourn. I mourn because there are those like Netanyahu and Trump and Kushner who blame the victims for the deaths and injuries they have caused. Who say it is a great day while the fields nearby are covered with blood.
Today, I mourn. I mourn because of politicians who call for calm and who refuse to demand accountability even in the face of evidence. These calls benefit only the aggressor.
Today, I mourn. I mourn because of journalists who slant the truth to support the narrative of the aggressor and who refuse to ask the difficult questions that can allow the people to have their eyes opened.
Today, I mourn, for it feels like what I do matters as much as a drop of rain in an ocean.
Tomorrow, I will work for peace and justice for one cannot exist without the other and that is all God truly asks of me and of you.
Below is my letter sent to Prime Minister Trudeau around mid-day on May 14 in Canada’s capital.
May 14, 2018
Dear Prime Minister,
Over 50 Palestinian protestors, including at least four children, have been killed by the Israeli military already today in Gaza; over 1,200 have been wounded. There are reports that the Israelis have used tanks to fire upon protestors. Meanwhile, there have been no reports of any Israelis being harmed.
I write to you as the Chair of the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel, a network of members and friends of the United Church of Canada (UNJPPI), to plead with you to contact Prime Minister Netanyahu and demand that Israel cease and desist from their ongoing gross violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in responding to protests in Gaza.
UNJPPI condemns any and all violence. We fear that the excessive use of force by Israel will surely feed the level of anger and mistrust toward Israelis by Palestinians. Israel’s disproportion use of force is unjustified and in violation of international law. This aggressive use of force serves as yet another massive blow to any hope for peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
We urge you to speak with members of your caucus who recently visited Palestine and who witnessed firsthand the reality of the illegal occupation of Palestine; from 12 year old children who are subjected to military tribunals, to inhumane treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, to the theft of Palestinian natural resources including and especially water, to separate roads and schools that have lead people like Nobel prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu to declare that the situation for Palestinians is worse than it was for blacks in South Africa under apartheid.
Canadians are proud of our historic role as defenders of peace and human rights globally. Your government by not taking a public stand serves as tactic approval to Israel’s excessive and deadly use of force. Therefore, we urge you to contact the Prime Minister of Israel to cease and desist. Also, that you register Canada’s strong condemnation of the excessive use of force against children, women and men who were exercising their rights as protected under international law.
Peace, Paix, Salaam, Shalom,
Rev. Steve Berube
Chair: United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel