Violence is no solution in Gaza, say US war resisters

By staff writers
January 13, 2009

As Israel threatens to escalate its military action even further, entering the most densely populated parts of Gaza, war resisters in the region and internationally have said that violence offers no solution.

In an impassioned plea, War Resisters League (WRL) in the USA, a long established network of nonviolent activists and conscientious objectors, has spelled out how the twisted logic of violence is submerging hopes for a just-peace.

They have also urged Americans to use their economic muscle and tax options to push for an end to the arming of the region.

WRL declared this week: "The rhetoric justifying violence ­for Israel, for Israel’s backers in Washington, and for Hamas ­is deep and layered and rooted in real grievance and pain. But ultimately, this war (if that is the appropriate term for a conflict between a major military power and a non-state militant group), like all wars, is fueled by a raw and brutal combination of the will to power, political expediency, and the belief that might makes right. The War Resisters League condemns all those factors without equivocation.

"We have watched the seeds of future wars planted on the battlefields of victory and watered by armistices that deliver only privation, division, and desperation. We know that the effective means of minimizing the appeal of violence and extremism ­and ensuring security ­is and always has been only through freedom and justice. We believe that the most effective means of fighting for freedom and justice, including freedom from foreign military occupation, is through strategic nonviolent action.

"We know, too, that Israeli security and Palestinian rights are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent upon each other. We therefore support the many Palestinians and Israelis who, despite the war crimes committed by both sides, are continuing to struggle nonviolently for freedom and justice.

"Amid much diplomatic doublespeak and the conflating of vengeance with defense, we listen for the voices of Gazans, Palestinians, and Israelis who call out for an end to bloodshed, who call out for peace, and who have a vision and the tools to build that peace. We strain to hear these brave voices above the din of myopic fear-mongering and rationalizations.

"We know that the solution for the Middle East will be built from this vision and these tools­but only if we in this country help it. There is a wide range of actions we can take, and pressing reasons for people here to take them.

"The war is waged 'over there.' But it is bought and paid for here in the United States. Through successive U.S. administrations, both Democrat and Republican, Israel has received more military aid than any other country. This unconditional military support, along with concomitant diplomatic and financial support, makes the Israeli sieges, occupation, and colonization of Palestinian territory possible. U.S. tax dollars buy the F-16 fighter jets, the M-60 tanks, the transport planes and attack helicopters, missiles, and depleted uranium munitions that Israel wields with such devastating effect.

"Many groups are organizing pro-peace forces to demand that Congress and the new White House withdraw that support. The War Resisters League has joined in and endorsed protests, rallies, and marches; we have crafted letters to editors; we have opposed one-sided Congressional resolutions that blame Palestinians for the violence done to them. Beyond those efforts, however, there are two areas that WRL has focused on more intently than have many other groups: War tax resistance and conscientious objection.

"War tax resistance ­as a symbolic 'no' to war and as a concrete deduction of the funds available to foment war ­is a key component of WRL’s work; at this moment, it is also a first step towards ending the “war” against Gaza by ending taxpayer-financed U.S. military support for Israel. Finally, we affirm “the right to refuse to kill” and urge support especially for Israel’s conscientious objectors, the high school seniors who face repeated jail terms for refusing to be inducted into the Israeli Defense Forces, the occupying power in Palestine."

The War Resisters League was founded in 1923 and is one of the oldest peace organisations in the USA. Its work for nonviolent radical change "has spanned decades and has been shaped by the new visions and strategies of each generation’s peacemakers", the group says.

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