by Abigail Abysalh-Metzger
Pax Christi UN Team member
Ed. Note: This article is part of our continuing series of posts in support of the Pax Christi USA Statement of Principles for the 2020 Elections. To read more about the 2020 elections, visit our Elections 2020 – #VotePax webpage.
“If you want peace, work for justice.” ~Pope Paul VI
Since its inception in 1945, the mission of Pax Christi has been the same: to promote peace.
Nowhere has that goal been more elusive than in the Holy Land, a place of utmost importance to the three Abrahamic faiths and two peoples.
In 1948, as the State of Israel was established, the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) was unfolding. 450-plus Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed and over 700,000 Palestinians were forced, through intimidation and violence, to flee their homes. Today, generations of Israelis and Palestinians bear witness to the lasting results of these historical truths.
For Palestinians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a brutal 53-year military occupation, the longest in history, dictates every aspect of their lives. For Palestinians living in Israel more than 65 Israeli laws relegate them to second-class citizens. And, in Gaza, 2 million-plus Palestinians live in an open air prison strangled by the devastating 13-year Israeli blockade of land, air and sea.
This history of dispossession, oppression, fear and distrust between the people of this holy land has created a tinderbox. As the norms of the Geneva Convention, Rome Statute, international laws and UN Security Council resolutions are ignored by the State of Israel, Palestinians watch as their human rights continue to be denied, their land confiscated, natural resources expropriated and their aspirations for self-determination and a viable state evaporate.
Reversing these dangerous trends and advocating for a just and sustainable peace in Israel-Palestine is one of Pax Christi International’s four advocacy priorities. Although this work takes different forms in each country, the commitment to advance the dignity and human rights of both Palestinians and Israelis is paramount.
Pax Christi USA has incorporated advocacy for a just peace in Israel-Palestine into our Statement of Principles for the 2020 election. We understand the critical role the U.S. currently plays in supporting the ongoing Israeli occupation, including through military aid. Instead, we advocate for policy decisions that will advance a sustainable peace that abides by international law, protects the dignity of every individual, defends the human rights of all, and is firmly rooted in justice.