Recent Plowshare Peace Center statements can be found below.
Please remember we are a non-partisan organization. And we are secular, not sectarian.
The people active in Plowshare have varying political, philosophical and religious opinions.
This means our public statements, while they reflect a majority consensus, seldom represent complete agreement… If a group never spoke or acted until everyone agreed, then they would never do anything.
The point is, we welcome diverse opinions and do not want to discourage the expression of different points of view. All of us have been in the minority opinion before, and will be again, but we don’t let it stop us from getting along or trying to help.
PLOWSHARE-LETTER TO LOCAL OFFICEHOLDERS ABOUT PALESTINIAN EXPULSION
Plowshare Peace Center will be sending the letter below to Senators Warner and Kaine and Representatives Griffiths and Cline. (The letter is from the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition). We encourage you to contact them, too. You might use the first three paragraphs or some version of them.
Facebook page at Plowshare Peace & Justice Center
Facebook group at Plowshare Peace Center
Mail: PO Box 4367, Roanoke VA 24015
Dear (insert name),
We urgently request that you oppose any conditions in the Biden administration’s proposals for support of Israel that would authorize U.S. humanitarian aid for removal of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip or West Bank. We also ask, again, that you support Cori Bush’s Ceasefire Now Resolution and advocate for related measures to end the ongoing hostilities.
Here’s why. President Biden’s formal request for $14.3bn in funding for Israel suggests that there is an Israeli plan wherein U.S. funds would be used to facilitate or otherwise support the forcible removal of Palestinians en masse from Gaza as a “humanitarian” act. The Administration’s October 20 request contains the following very troubling passage (p. 40) (highlighting is ours):
Funding would also provide life-saving humanitarian assistance in Israel, and in areas impacted by the situation in Israel. These resources would facilitate displaced and conflict-affected civilians, including Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, and to address potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries. This would include food and nonfood items, healthcare, emergency shelter support, water and sanitation assistance, and emergency protection. This would also include potential critical humanitarian infrastructure costs needed for the refugee population to provide access to basic, life-sustaining support. This crisis could well result in displacement across border and higher regional humanitarian needs, and funding may be used to meet evolving programming requirements outside of Gaza.
There has been no widespread flight of Gazans to neighboring countries and the Biden administration offers no projections of the likelihood of it, nor does it disclose backchannel negotiations with Egypt about refugees. The Egyptian government and others in the region publicly refuse to accept large numbers of refugees because of cost reasons and the threat to political stability throughout the Middle East.
However, someone recently leaked an Israeli intelligence plan for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza via forced removal of Palestinians to the Egyptian Sinai. According to the Times of Israel, Gazans would be “moved to tent cities in northern Sinai, and eventually the building of permanent cities and the opening of a humanitarian corridor. The plan includes a several-kilometer-wide ‘sterile’ buffer zone inside Egypt, to ensure the population cannot settle on Israel’s borders.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pressuring Egypt to agree to take on 100,000 Palestinian refugees displaced from the Gaza Strip in exchange for US debt relief and financial support in the midst of Egypt’s severe economic crisis. Prime Minister Netanyahu is actively lobbying European Union nations to push Egypt to accept Gazan refugees. The Israeli governmental mantra is “to make it clear that there is no longer any hope of returning to the territories that Israel will occupy in the near future.”
Egypt fears that a few refugees will become millions of Palestinians in the Sinai desert, leaving Egypt indefinitely responsible for them while Israel denies them the right of return to Gaza. That’s what Israel did to 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 in the original Nakba.
The brutal excesses of the Israeli invasion of Gaza are rapidly undermining international support for Israeli payback for the Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023. Israel has turned into an international pariah for the unprecedented cruelty of its military operations. Adding forcible expulsion of Palestinians to the picture – a crime against humanity in which the U.S. would share blame – will destroy U.S. standing around the world for generations to come. Is it possible that the U.S. is, through diplomatic channels, warning the Palestinians to accept their mass removal from Gaza or see continued U.S. assertions of Israel’s “right to self-defense” to express the U.S.’ non-objection to the killings of thousands more Gazans.
Furthermore, many additional and terrible optics would befall the U.S. from bankrolling ethnic cleansing to wipe Palestine off the map, Congresswoman Kaptur. Israel’s complete dominion over the Gaza Strip would facilitate construction of the long-planned Ben Gurion Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. This would be one of the greatest geostrategic assets on Earth, and would compete with Egypt’s Suez Canal, destroying any leverage Egypt has over global shipping.
Also, Palestine’s oil and gas resources are believed to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Part of the giant Leviathan gas field lies offshore of and beneath Gaza and the West Bank. Israel and Egypt have reached a largely secret agreement to tap the British Gas fields found in 1999 offshore of Gaza, and their deal completely bypassed any Palestinian involvement. With the expulsion of Palestinians would come Israel’s illegal appropriation and exploitation of these assets, without providing any economic benefit to the Palestinians. Perhaps this is why in September 2023, Prime Minister Netanyahu displayed a map of what he called the “new Middle East” to the United Nations General Assembly that made no mention of Palestine.
The U.S. co-sponsorship of the eradication of Palestine at U.S. taxpayer expense, coming on the heels of a genocidal mismatch for which U.S. largess is also indispensable, would become a policy disaster.
You are respected for your long-time service and leadership in Congress and consequently have significant influence. Now is the time for you to speak with your humanitarian voice. In the service of human rights and to end the burgeoning life-and-death human crisis in Gaza, we respectfully request that you immediately bring your influence to these actions:
● The deletion and prohibition of any authority in the Biden Administration’s support proposal that would allow U.S. humanitarian aid to be used for the ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and to add prohibitory wording to disallow the temporary or permanent support of Palestinians who have been involuntarily or coercively removed from Palestine;
● Support Cori Bush’s Ceasefire Now Resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities and a ceasefire throughout the Gaza Strip;
● Support the introduction of United Nations peacekeepers into all war-torn areas of Palestine;
● Support the immediate and unimpeded access of international organizations to deliver humanitarian aid wherever it is needed in Palestine;
● Introduce legislation requiring continuous negotiations under United Nations brokerage which affirms the right of Palestine to exist as an independent nation, and which also affirms the exclusive ownership and control by Palestinians of all natural resources and minerals found beneath Palestinian lands and maritime areas.
Please don’t make it easier for Israel to ethnically cleanse Gaza!
Plowshare Peace Center
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PLOWSHARE STATEMENT ON THE GAZA-ISRAEL WAR
Virginia’s oldest advocacy group for peace and justice, Plowshare Peace and Justice Center of Roanoke is committed to nonviolence and condemns the current violence carried out both by Hamas and by the Israeli military. Plowshare urges an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and Israel and calls on the US and the wider international community to support a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Plowshare likewise recognizes that the Hamas attack was not unprovoked. For decades the people of Palestine have been oppressed by the violence and occupation of the apartheid state of Israel, contending too often with home demolitions, child detentions, separation walls, settler colonialism and violence, seizures of land and controls over water and food supplies. Gaza, with its 2 million inhabitants, has been an open-air prison where Israel controls how much water, electricity and food its occupants are allowed. The extreme measures taken by the Netanyahu’s ultra-right government have made life increasingly difficult for Palestinians. US foreign policy, always one-sided and national interest-driven, has been unwilling to address Israeli apartheid and has contributed to the Israeli government’s extreme measures. Additionally, the Biden administration’s attempts to normalize diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel have become the final straw for the militant Palestinian resistance. Hopelessness and desperation breed violence.
We pray for leadership that has the courage to address the problems, injustices and racism that perpetuates this violence. We especially pray for wisdom and restraint between Hamas and the Israeli government.
From the Plowshare Peace Center Board
Mail: PO Box 4367, Roanoke VA 24015; email@example.com; 540-492-3582;
www.plowshareva.org; Facebook page at plowshare peace & justice center; Facebook group at
plowshare peace center
5 Things You Need to Know (From the American Friends Service Committee, https://afsc.org/news/5-things-you-need-know-about-whats-happening-israel-and-gaza ):
On Oct. 7, Palestinians from Gaza carried out attacks in Israel that killed at least 600 Israelis, injured over 2,000, and took dozens of hostages. Israeli attacks on Gaza on Oct. 7 and 8 killed approximately 500 Palestinians and injured at least 2,300 more. In the days since, violence has only escalated, and those numbers continue to grow. Israel also placed Gaza under hermetic closure—blocking access to fuel, water, electricity, food, medical supplies, and other goods. There are also reports of arrests of Palestinians in Israel and Israeli military attacks in the West Bank.
AFSC mourns with those who have lost loved ones and all who are suffering. We will continue to work for the changes needed to end this violence and build a just and lasting peace.
To address the situation, it is important to understand the context in which this violence is taking place. Here are five things you need to know:
1. Violence did not begin with the attacks from Gaza.
Even before Oct. 7, this year (2023) was one of the most violent years in Palestine in more than a decade. At least 247 Palestinians—including 47 children—had been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers before the end of September. During the same period, Israeli settlers launched over 800 attacks on Palestinians and Palestinian-owned property. Additionally, over 1,100 Palestinians had been forcibly displaced from their homes.
These actions occurred in a context where Israeli land confiscation, mass arrest campaigns, military attacks on Palestinian cities, and threats to Palestinian control over Al-Aqsa mosque—an important religious site in Jerusalem—have all increased.
Since coming to power, the far-right Netanyahu government in Israel has escalated violence against Palestinian communities while rejecting any possibility of Palestinian independence or equality. Settler leaders now hold sway in Israel and have taken concrete steps toward annexing the West Bank while pushing forward efforts to eliminate Palestinians from the majority of the West Bank.
For Palestinians, violence is an extreme, daily reality.
2. Gaza has been under a violent blockade for 16 years.
For over 16 years, the people of Gaza have lived under an Israeli-imposed blockade that severely limits travel, trade, and everyday life for its over two million residents. As a result, the effects have been brutal, even prior to the expanded siege now underway:
More than 50% of the population are unemployed.
Hospitals have consistently been out of up to 40% of needed supplies and medicine.
Approximately 96% of water in Gaza is undrinkable.
Electricity is only available sporadically.
The blockade severely impacts the lives and health of all Palestinians in Gaza. Children’s growth is stunted due to malnutrition. Palestinians die because they can’t access medical care. Families are separated due to movement restrictions.
And the blockade is enforced through violence. Israeli military incursions into Gaza occur weekly, Israeli forces fire into Gaza daily, and bombings of Gaza occur regularly.
Israel’s military actions in Gaza have claimed thousands of Palestinian lives over the years. Between Jan. 1, 2008 and Sept. 19, 2023, more than 5,365 Palestinians have been killed, including 1,206 children.
After Israel’s previous attacks on Gaza, there were promises that the blockade would be lessened or ended. But the blockade continues with deadly effect for Palestinians in Gaza.
3. Under international law, both Palestinians and Israelis have bounded legal rights to use violence. But violence will not bring just and lasting peace.
The U.S. government has repeatedly said that people living under foreign military occupation—as in Ukraine—have a right to militarily resist their occupation. Palestinians have that same right. At the same time, the laws of war that lay out the right to resist occupation also limit that right, forbidding attacks on civilians—like those witnessed on Oct. 7—and other war crimes.
The same laws of war lay out obligations for occupying powers, including Israel, and limit their actions. For decades, Israel has systematically violated its obligations under international law toward Palestinians, violating their rights and implementing a system of apartheid in the areas it controls. The prohibition on attacks on civilians and civilian targets also applies to Israel.
As a Quaker organization, AFSC opposes all violence and works toward its end. We know that violence will not end through more violence. To bring change, we must address the roots of conflict, including historic and ongoing Palestinian displacement, occupation, and the reality of apartheid.
4. The U.S. funds, arms, and supports injustice, inequality, and violence perpetrated by the Israeli government.
For decades, the U.S. has offered uncritical support to Israel as it has systemically violated Palestinian rights. Despite agreement between international human rights organizations that Israel is enforcing apartheid against Palestinians, the U.S. provides $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel every year. Despite the fact that the current Israeli government opposes the formation of a Palestinian state and has moved to take over Palestinian land at record rates, the U.S. government continues to build close ties with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies. And despite record levels of violence against Palestinians by Israel—including Palestinians with U.S. citizenship—the U.S. continues to offer Israel impunity and blocks efforts at accountability.
This lack of accountability and a sense by Palestinians that they have been abandoned by the international community is important to understanding recent violence. For violence to end, U.S. policy must change. Israel must be held accountable for its rights violations, and the system of apartheid must end.
5. You can take action to help bring change.
Everyone has a role to play in stopping the violence and ending the occupation. Here are a few things you can do right now.
Contact your members of Congress. Remind them that security cannot be built by systematic violence and oppression and ask that elected officials urge the Biden administration to take action to end Israeli attacks on Gaza. The administration must also push for humanitarian access to ensure people in Gaza can receive food, water, and urgent medical care. And it must call for an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza and the system of apartheid that are at the root causes of this violence, so that peace and justice for all can be possible.
Donate to humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza. Through our offices in Gaza, AFSC provides support and assistance to Palestinians facing the most need and vulnerability. Donations received now will be used to support individuals and families impacted by the ongoing attacks.
Join the Apartheid-Free campaign. Ending these attacks is a first step, but it isn’t enough. To bring lasting change, the systems of occupation, apartheid, and settler colonialism that are at the roots of violence in Israel and Palestine must end. Learn more about how you can join AFSC in pushing for the end of these systems of violence so that a just and lasting peace can be realized.