The NY Times is reporting that a group of Christian churches are asking Congress to investigate and hold hearings on US aid to Israel, due to what they call human rights abuses toward Palestinians.
It also reports that while they claim both sides are responsible for problems, they only call for an investigation “into Israel’s activities.”.
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: October 20, 2012
“The controversy began on Oct. 5, when the Christian groups sent a letter urging Congress to hold hearings into whether Israel was violating the terms for foreign aid recipients. The Christian leaders wrote that they had “witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement.”
The signers, besides the Presbyterians, included leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker agency) and the Mennonite Central Committee. Two Catholic leaders also signed, one with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an umbrella group of men’s religious orders. “
The Christian leaders’ letter acknowledged that both Israelis and Palestinians had suffered, and that both sides bore responsibility. But it called for an investigation into only Israel’s activities.
The Jewish leaders said such an approach was a double standard. The Palestinian Authority also receives foreign aid from the United States and has also been accused of rights violations, they said.
“Where’s the letter to Congress about Syria, which is massacring its own people?” said Rabbi Steven Wernick, the chief executive of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. “When Israel is the only one that is called to account, that’s when it becomes problematic.”
The letter says
U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. [in closing]
Unfortunately, unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. This is made clear in the most recent 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories1, which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.
Accordingly, we urge an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons2 to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”3 More broadly, we urge Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.
Israel Seizes Pro-Palestinian Activist Ship off Gaza
Saturday, 20 Oct 2012
The Israeli navy seized an international pro-Palestinian activist ship on the Mediterranean high seas on Saturday to prevent it breaching Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, a military spokeswoman said.
She said no one was hurt when marines boarded the SV Estelle, a three-mast schooner, and that it was rerouted to the Israeli port of Ashdod after it ignored orders to turn away from the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave.
Read more on Newsmax.com: Israel Seizes Pro-Palestinian Activist Ship off Gaza