Hands Off Rafah! Ceasefire Now!

Yesterday, while millions across the United States and around the world watched the Superbowl, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu unleashed death and slaughter in Rafah – where 1.4 million people – fully 85% of Gaza’s population – are sheltering, crammed into an area 150 kilometers squared, after being driven from their homes by bombs, shells, and ground troops. 

The official story that this attack was conducted to rescue hostages is a flimsy lie, much like all the other lies deployed to cover the nakedly genocidal actions of the Israeli state. Over 30,000 people, nearly half of whom are children, are already dead. The International Criminal Court of Justice has found it “plausible” that Israel is engaged in genocide.

And our own eyes and eye-witnesses have much more than “plausible” grounds to go on – pictures and videos of unimaginable violence, the dehumanized rhetoric from top Israeli officials, and the ugliness of IDF soldiers gleefully filming themselves as they bulldoze homes and murder civilians. 

This deliberate obliteration is not a “hostage rescue.” It is an illegal, immoral, and utterly reprehensible campaign of revenge. It must END NOW. 

Right now, across the country, emergency actions are being organized to demand an end to the Siege on Rafah. Please join us in the streets to make your voice heard. FIND LOCAL, BAY AREA, EVENTS HERE and NATIONAL ACTIONS HERE.

CEASEFIRE NOW!

The U.S. veto of the UN Security Council Resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza gives a green light for Israel to continue escalating a murderous military campaign that has reached genocidal proportions in Gaza.

This is wrong and the U.S. now stands visibly isolated on the world stage. And our government’s stubborn refusal to help put the brakes on what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres termed a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza is not just wrong, it is immoral.

It not only makes us complicit with every atrocity committed by the IDF, it unnecessarily puts us on a collision course with history and people around the world who should be our friends and allies.

For decades the U.S. has used its Security Council veto power to protect Israel from the consequences of its own excesses – like the invasion of Lebanon in the 1980’s, the use of prohibited weapons, decades of settlement on illegally occupied lands – the list is long. Israel has become accustomed to virtually unconditional U.S. backing, but this week’s veto is perhaps the most bitter one yet.

Over 17,000 people have been killed in weeks of brutal and indiscriminate strikes on Gaza in what Israel justifies as retaliation for the brutal October 7th attacks by Hamas. All life is sacred, but the world is not buying Israel’s story. Not when nearly half those killed in its military campaign are children, not when most of Gaza’s homes are already destroyed, not when more than a million internally displaced people fleeing the conflict go hungry, thirsty, unsheltered.

And the gruesome October 7th assault did not suddenly make the deeply corrupt, authoritarian ultra-nationalist Benjamin Netanyahu a wise leader who the U.S. should support even as he bombs and brutalizes the people of Gaza whose grandparents first fled there 1948 and who, since 1967, have lived under military occupation and domination by Israel.

The shock of what happened on October 7th is undisputed, the lessons are not. The U.S. is not obliged to follow Benjamin Netanyahu on an impossible campaign to “exterminate” his enemies. Joining the world in calling for a genuine and prolonged ceasefire is in the long-term best interests of the American people and of everyone involved. Violence begets more violence. New leaders who understand that are desperately needed.

In a statement explaining why he invoked the rarely used Article 99 of the UN Charter that empowers the Secretary-General “to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which, in his opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security,” Guterres lamented the “appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” He said, “Hospitals have turned into battlegrounds [and that] without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon.”

The temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that was abandoned on December 1st should resume. The exchange of captives should resume. The constant deadly bombardment of Gaza must stop; truce and ceasefire must be revived.

Don’t let up the pressure on our leaders. Please tell the White House: Permanent Ceasefire NOW. Call and express your disappointment on today’s ceasefire VETO. America can do better.

Call the White House Today 202-456-1111

*this blog was written on December 8, 2023

Is Peace Still Possible? Yes, but we must change the course we are on.

Last October 7th, Hamas operatives surprised Israeli border defenders who, despite vastly superior military capacities, were caught off guard and unable to contain a ghastly and vindictive wave of mass murder, kidnappings, and other gruesome atrocities. These heinous acts produced a wave of revulsion that swept the world. And that wave was accompanied by the sickening realization that the “total war” plan immediately declared by discredited Israeli strongman – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was guaranteed to bring more – vastly and disproportionately more – suffering to the millions of children, elders, and non-combatants locked in, unable to escape the densely populated confines of the Gaza Strip.

Global Exchange joined millions around the world who have urged restraint. We organized appeals to President Biden and our U.S. Representatives, pleading with them to use wisdom with their immense power and influence to stay the hand of Israeli vengeance and to keep the road of reconciliation open.                 

But despite broad public support for an urgent ceasefire to spare the lives of innocent civilians and hostages, President Biden instead boosted U.S. naval air support in the region, embraced Netanyahu, and gave the Israeli government a green light to escalate their attack. Biden’s mild requests to “minimize civilian casualties” were not enough to avoid the perception of American complicity with the war crimes implicit in the siege: starvation, bombing of civilians, and invasion of Gaza…a territory just smaller than Las Vegas, Nevada, but far more densely packed, with three times its population. 

Another wave of revulsion and protest is now sweeping the world – provoked, this time, by the Israeli government’s disproportionate and sickening response and the U.S. failure to restrain its close ally.

I write on Day of the Dead, knowing this article will be published sometime later this month. I pray that by then, the killing will have stopped, that the deadly fire will have ceased, that mass starvation is averted, that hostages are safe at home, and that saner voices have prevailed. That is a lot to hope for, and I also fear that by the time you are reading this, conditions could be far worse – if the politics of vengeance, dehumanization, and unchecked retribution are allowed to prevail.

Around 2000 years ago when troops moved in to arrest Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem, his disciple Peter (the guy who later founded Christianity) drew his sword and sliced off the ear of one of their assailants. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Over the millennia, we’ve boiled that down to: “Live by the sword, and you’ll die by it too.” The core truth of that saying could not be more relevant today. 

When violence appears to be the only option and the emotional logic of “protection” or “resistance” leads us to plan and carry out inhumane, soul-distorting actions we must pause, reconsider, and seek higher wisdom.  

We live in a time when fires are breaking out planet-wide – literally from the equator to the polar circles. Our survival requires concerted global action. We cannot afford to double down on ancient hatreds or the unresolved post-colonial disputes of the 1900s.  Yet that is exactly what is happening in the Middle East, in Ukraine, and elsewhere.

But peace isn’t easy. It is more than just the mere absence of deadly conflict. Even if things “calm down,” real peace and reconciliation must be based on justice and a fundamental recasting of the assumptions and interests underlying the conflict. 

But for right now, we need to build a coalition for peace among the majority of people across the political spectrum who believe that killing is wrong, that the killing of innocents is worse, and that justice is never served by more indiscriminate killing. 

It is easy to feel disempowered in the face of seemingly implacable hatreds and events that seem to be spinning out of control. But, knowing that we are by no means alone in our revulsion to brutality helps.  And it gives us a place to start conversations with our neighbors, friends, and our political representatives that go beyond the biased narratives of mainstream media and the shouting matches that dominate on social media. 

To bring you a fresh and in-depth perspective from the conflict zone, Global Exchange is working closely with our longtime partner, Ernesto Ledesma of Rompeviento.TV who has started reporting from the occupied West Bank. This reporting is costly and risky, but we do it in the spirit of reaching out and building “people-to-people ties” and human solidarity even in the most dangerous and stressful times.  

One observation Ernesto shared in his first days of reporting from the West Bank is that when he asked Palestinians – intellectuals, construction workers, doctors, aid workers and others across the West Bank the question, “Can anyone lead the way to stop this war?”. To my surprise, they all had the same answer: “Joe Biden”. 

As American President, Biden could be a force for peace. No one has more power to halt the Israeli onslaught in Gaza, to feed those who are starving, to treat those who are wounded, and to free those who are held hostage. He has the most power to compel the Israelis to halt the ongoing settlement and annexation of Palestinian lands that Israeli anti-peace extremists have cynically used for generations to sabotage Camp David, Oslo, and every other effort for peace. 

But Biden’s positions and actions to date confirm that he has chosen war; and worse, has not even publically insisted that Israel –  the largest recipient of American military aid in the region – adhere to the rules of war.  

The American people, and his Democratic base of voters, are historically supportive of Israel but polls show sharply rising concerns about escalation and overwhelming support for an immediate CEASEFIRE. 

President Biden must wake up to this new reality and show true leadership for peace. The course he has set for our country is morally, politically and strategically unsustainable. We must change it, now! 

Israel’s collective punishment of the 2.3 million people of Gaza – half of whom are children – who are unable to escape the violence and who are starving as supplies of food and water run out must stop now. 

Global Exchange joined millions around the world to urge restraint. You, our members, signed thousands of appeals to President Biden and our U.S. Representatives, pleading with them to use wisdom with their immense power and influence to stay the hand of Israeli vengeance and to keep the road of reconciliation open.

They did not listen but we must insist:  All life is sacred and civilians deserve protection. To get to peace we eventually have to end Israeli occupation, reverse their settlement policies and establish security for everyone, but at this critical moment we call for:

Immediate ceasefire!

To bring you a fresh and in depth perspective from the conflict zone, Global Exchange is working closely with our longtime partner, Ernesto Ledesma of Rompeviento.TV who has started reporting from the occupied West Bank. This reporting is costly and risky, but we do it in the spirit of reaching out and building “people-to-people ties” and human solidarity even in the most dangerous and stressful times.  

Learn more and take action here. 

In the wake of the horrific Hamas murders and kidnappings on October 7th, the state of Israel launched attacks causing ghastly suffering for the people of Gaza. This is an intentional violation of international law that clearly prohibits collective retribution of this kind.. A spokesperson for the Israeli military nevertheless declared “the emphasis [of our Gaza campaign] is on damage rather than on precision.”

To date, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have engaged in an intense and indiscriminate bombing campaign that has killed over 17,000 inhabitants of Gaza, nearly half of whom are children. Nearly half of the housing units in Gaza have been destroyed. Hospitals, mosques, churches, bakeries, apartment complexes – buildings full of people – have been reduced to rubble. The suffering is immense and ongoing.

Tell Congress Pass the Ceasefire Now Resolution TODAY

The Biden Administration has offered virtually unconditional support for Israel’s military operations, despite occasional ineffective declarations about humanitarian aid and the need to minimize civilian casualties. Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – have largely gone along, backing proposed  increases in financial and material support for Israel despite IDF actions that violate international human rights standards against collective punishment.

There cannot be double standards for international law or human rights. We cannot allow atrocity to justify atrocity. We condemn the brutal and inhumane attacks by Hamas, just as we condemn the collective punishment inflicted upon the people of Gaza. We mourn for all the victims, insist that all hostages be released, and insist on the principle that ALL human lives have value.

Around the world the call for an immediate ceasefire is gaining momentum. From London to Los Angeles, Sydney Australia, Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia – Yemen, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, millions of people have taken to the streets to call for an immediate end to the violence, and to address the longstanding demands of the Palestinian people for national liberation and end to the occupation.

The Biden Administration, and our Congress must not give Israel a blank check to conduct violence against the people of Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

We are asking members of Congress to sign the Bush and Tlaib Ceasefire Now Resolution –calling for an immediate ceasefire and resumption of life saving humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Will you please send a message to your member of Congress asking them to co-sponsor this bill? 

The spiraling escalation of inhumane violence in Gaza over the last week is heartbreaking and unacceptable. Further bloodshed and the suffering of innocents cannot and will not resolve anything.

 

Today’s attack on the Anglican hospital that killed more than 500 people is just the next exhibit of untold horrors that awaits us on a path of total rage and revenge unleashed.

That is why we are calling on President Biden to use his trip to Jordan and Israel to insist on an immediate cease fire and the swift delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza before more lives are lost.  Please help us send this message:

Dear President Biden,

As the largest provider of military aid to Israel the United States must use all its influence to call for restraint: An immediate ceasefire that allows for urgent humanitarian relief for Gaza as well as the safety and immediate release of hostages.

Wise leadership can turn this moment of extreme peril into an opportunity for peace.

Please President Biden, take the risks of true leadership for peace. Speak up for all the children of the region and their dreams to one day live in peace and freedom from fear.

It is not too late.