Letters Show Community Support for HCC BDS Campaign

A few weeks ago we went public with our campaign to get the City of Grand Rapids to BDSadopt a divestment resolution in support of justice for Palestinians. For those interested in being part of the local BDS campaign, just send us an email and we can let you know how to get involved healingchildrenofconflict@gmail.com.

At the October 13 Grand Rapids City Commission, 29 people stood before the city officials and either spoke freely about their support or read statements they had written or statements that were from organizations. You can read all the letters in support of the Grand Rapids BDS Campaign, but we wanted to highlight some of those letters here to give readers an idea of the kinds of statements people were making about the importance of this campaign.

David Alvarez – Israeli bombs, bullets, and shells killed over 500 Palestinian children andScreen Shot 2015-11-06 at 12.51.39 AM wounded thousands during last summer’s military invasion of Gaza, the third since 2008. My 14-year old son in Grand Rapids leads a normal healthy life. In contrast, his Palestinian counterpart in besieged Gaza has had to endure three major invasions since he was 8, has seen his family members, friends, and neighbors being killed or wounded, and has either been rendered homeless by the bombing or seen whole neighborhoods reduced to rubble by Israel’s weapons, which are often supplied by the United States, while all the while living in a besieged territory the majority of whose people are refugees who are not allowed to return to their homes simply because they are Palestinian. As for his counterpart in the occupied West Bank, he has been prevented from moving about freely all his life, has seen his elders harassed, humiliated, detained, injured, or killed by soldiers, police, or armed Israeli settlers, or has suffered all these things himself as a child.

This is obviously no life for anybody, and to allow it to continue unchecked and indeed to fuel it further as the US government does is to be complicit with a grave injustice. It is also to allow Israelis who support the occupation and those who support them to continue down a path that will not just bring more misery to the Palestinians but will also do profound self-harm to themselves, since oppression dehumanizes not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. Moreover silence in the face of oppression is a form of complicity with it.

Diane Baum – Jewish supporters of Israel might say that all Jews support Israel. They DSC_0028might say that to be against the discriminatory policies of Israel is to be “antiSemitic.” I say that it is just the opposite that WHAT ISRAEL IS DOING IS AGAINST MY JEWISH RELIGION AND CAUSES ANTISEMITISM. As someone who attends worship regularly in a Jewish synagogue, it is very difficult for me personally to go against what many of my coreligionists advocate. I deeply respect people who sincerely practice my religion, particularly my elders whom I have known all my life. Many Jews want to silence people like me, people who speak up to advocate fairness for the Palestinians. Yet many of the same people loudly accuse the world of NOT SPEAKING UP when Jews were the group undergoing immense suffering at the hands of a government and an occupying power.

I call on the Grand Rapids City Commission to resolve to avoid dealings with companies and other entities that collude with those who profit from the oppression of the Palestinian people.

Chris Yared – For decades the Israeli government has violated international law and the DSC_0023human rights of Palestinians by maintaining an illegal occupation of Palestine, bulldozing Palestinian homes and giving their property away, constantly expanding illegal settlements, building the Wall, maintaining checkpoints which severely limit Palestinian access to basic needs such as work, family, medical treatment and education, severely restricting Palestinian access to water, electricity, food and other basic resources, engaging in illegal detentions, using sophisticated military weapons and technology to kill and permanently injure Palestinian children and families who have neither a military nor a place to run, and engaging in other intentional acts which amount to ethnic cleansing.

I urge you to pass a divestment resolution providing that the City will not hold investments in companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine and will not spend public money to support companies who profit from the occupation.

Rev. Doug Van Doren – This struggle may seem a long way away from the city of Grand Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 12.59.43 AMRapids or the business of the City Commission. However, it affects scores of people in our community who have been forced to flee, whose lands have been seized, and whose family and friends have been killed, displaced, or are living under daily threat and oppression. Further, there are times when an injustice is so egregious and when our action can truly make a difference, that we are compelled to act.

I urge you, as the Grand Rapids City Commission to once again stand on the right side of history. Act to cease and refuse to be complicit (and make Grand Rapids residents complicit) in this cycle of violence and retaliation perpetuated by the Israeli Government’s policy toward Palestinians and Palestinian lands. Stand on the right side of justice and a non-violent solution.

Lindsey Disler – The State of Israel continues its violent, militarized occupation and DSC_0030settlement of Gaza, deadly assaults on Palestinian people — including the killing of thousands of children—and practices outright human and civil rights abuses against the people of Gaza.

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is the United States’ largest youth-led, student labor campaign organization. Collective liberation is central to the work of USAS, and we oppose the oppression and exploitation of peoples throughout the world.

United Students Against Sweatshops hereby endorses the Healing Children of Conflict campaign to get the Grand Rapids to pass a divestment resolution.

 

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The Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ unanimously endorses the HCC BDS Campaign

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Over the weekend of October 23/24, the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ’s voted unanimously to endorse a divestment campaign by the Grand Rapids-based non-profit organization, Healing Children of Conflict (HCC), whose twofold mission is to heal families and communities by facilitating medical treatment for children seriously wounded in Middle Eastern conflicts involving the United States, and to thereby educate the West Michigan community about the root causes of those conflicts.

HCC’s campaign was initiated on October 13, when about 75 HCC members and supporters attended a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting to request that the Mayor and Commissioners adopt a divestment resolution in support of the international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005. HCC’s campaign is based on a successful 1982 initiative that led the City of Grand Rapids to pass a resolution to divest from companies that were profiteering from apartheid in South Africa.

The endorsement of HCC’s campaign by the Michigan Conference  of the United Church of Christ lends further weight to the more than 30 endorsement letters from other church bodies, pastors, community organizations, student groups, and concerned individuals that HCC submitted to the City Clerk at the City Commission meeting.BDS

HCC member David Alvarez says, “This endorsement follows in the footsteps of the UCC’s Synod’s decision to endorse a worldwide movement for justice initiated by Palestinian civil society and based on the 1980s campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against apartheid in South Africa. Progressive organizations and individuals around the world, including within Israel itself, have responded to the Palestinian call for BDS. That call has created a groundswell of grassroots efforts to achieve what governments have not: the end of the Israeli state’s regime of military occupation, colonization, and segregation for the Palestinian people and the achievement of a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

The Reverend Doctor Campbell Lovett, Minister of the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ, stated:

Our resolution of support makes clear that we condemn all violence and that we affirm Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation and a homeland for the Jewish people. We are troubled, however, by particular policies of the government of Israel that subject the Palestinian people to the loss of their lands and livelihood. That U.S. corporations profit from these policies is immoral. Our resolution calls for divestment from those companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories, and for support of HCC’s campaign to encourage the City of Grand Rapids to divest.

Here is an excerpt from the UCC statement in support of the HCC campaign: Historically this resolution grows from the seeds of more than 20 General Synod and Executive Council actions speaking to a just peace between the Palestinian people and  the State of Israel. It is an incarnation of what we mean by proclaiming that the United Church of Christ is a just peace church. Further, this resolution seeks to embody the covenantal theology we proclaim as a church by advocating for the common good by lending our voice to the organized work of others from various faith traditions who are striving for the same goal: a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the Palestinian people and the State of Israel. This resolution affirms HCC’s campaign.

To read the entire Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ statement endorsing the HCC BDS Campaign call for the City of Grand Rapids to adopt a divestment resolution, click here.