St. Paul, Minn. (June 1, 2010) – In a letter to President Obama, Secretary Clinton and members of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation, Friends for a Non-Violent World strongly condemns the Israeli attack on the humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza, and calls for an end to the blockade of Gaza, an independent investigation and the release of humanitarian activists.
This use of deadly force, and the resulting injuries and tragic loss of life, will do nothing to advance the peace process in the region.
Erika Thorne, Interim Executive Director, Friends for a Non-Violent World, stated, “The US must at minimum acknowledge that massive disproportionate use of force occurred and condemn it. How much more evidence is needed – and how many more Palestinian lives will be lost – before the US officially recognizes that Israel will not de-escalate its assault on Gaza without our insisting that they do so? To condemn indefensible policy and practice by Israel is not betrayal of an ally; indeed it is the only position to take as an honest ally in the struggle for resolution.”
Friends for a Non-Violent World, a Minnesota statewide peace and justice organization, unequivocally condemns the attack by Israeli forces on the humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza. As Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur, said “Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas.”
And we agree with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that “nothing can justify the appalling outcome of this operation…” We at FNVW deeply mourn the loss of all lives as well as the harm to all who were injured.
We add our voice to others in the international community in calling for an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza. We concur with UN Special Rapporteur Falk that the blockade of Gaza is a “massive form of collective punishment” that is tantamount to a crime against humanity.” and “Unless prompt and decisive action is taken to challenge the Israeli approach to Gaza, all of us will be complicit in criminal policies that are challenging the survival of an entire beleaguered community”.
FNVW urges both your Administration and the Congress to end United States support for the Gaza blockade, which is almost unanimously condemned by the international community. Furthermore, we are deeply disturbed that Israel continues a policy predicated on the disproportionate use of force. This misguided approach has not and will not move the peace process forward and should be opposed by the United States.
Lastly, we hope your Administration and Congress will recognize that the peace process cannot proceed without all members of the conflict being at the table without preconditions, whether we like them or not.
We urge you – our government leaders – to heed the advice of Nobel Peace Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and former US President Jimmy Carter who released a statement Monday morning condemning the Israeli attack. They further called for “a full investigation into the incident and urged the UN Security Council to debate the situation with a view to mandating action to end the closure of the Gaza Strip.”
We hope the United States will fully support the call for an independent, transparent investigation of this Israeli military operation by Israel.
Bob Nechal, Board President
Erika Thorne, Interim Director
Gail Daneker, Director of Peace Education