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Christian groups to Congress: Protect Palestinian children’s rights

Twenty-six religious leaders call for U.S. to stop funding child abuse

Israeli military detaining a young man
Photo: / AFSC

Washington, DC (November 18, 2019) Twenty-six religious leaders signed a letter to Congress today in support of “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” (H.R. 2407), legislation that prohibits any U.S. taxpayer funds from contributing to the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of children by any country, including Israel.

“As a Palestinian-American, I know firsthand the trauma of occupation that is visited on all Palestinians, including children. Military detention is no way to treat a child,” said Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of the Quaker group American Friends Service Committee. “The U.S. government funds the occupation of Palestine, so people in the U.S. have the power and responsibility to act to end abuses of children. The moral outrage over locking up immigrant children in the U.S. should also be turned to ending U.S. funding for imprisoning Palestinian children.”

The full letter can be found here:

The signatories of the letter include faith leaders from the American Friends Service Committee, Reformed Church in America, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Churches for Middle East Peace, Alliance of Baptists, The Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, United Methodist Church, Church of the Brethren, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Church World Service, Presbyterian Church (USA), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Christian Reformed Church in North America, North Park Theological Seminary, Evangelicals for Social Action/The Sider Center, National Council of Churches, and Pax Christi USA.

Christian faith leaders will also join U.S. Representative Betty McCollum for a congressional briefing on the International Day of the Child, November 20, as they advocate for the rights of Palestinian children who are detained, prosecuted and incarcerated by the Israeli military in the West Bank. The briefing will be held between 10:30-11:30 am in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center – Congressional Auditorium and Atrium (CVC 200). The briefing is hosted by Rep. McCollum and supported by the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy and Churches for Middle East Peace.

Speakers include Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee; Bishop Thomas Aitken, Bishop, Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA; Rev. Aundreia Alexander, National Council of Churches; Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; and Rev. Michael Neuroth, ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC) and Policy Advocate for International Issues.

“When faith leaders visit the Palestinian territory, the omnipresence of children is striking. Children under 18 years old currently represent 46 percent of the occupied Palestinian territory’s population," said Jennifer Bing, program director of AFSC’s Palestine Israel work in the U.S. “Children in the West Bank are incredibly vulnerable to abuse: they live in proximity to Israeli settlement colonies, often go to school through military check points, they’re scooped up by Israeli army night raids, placed in military detention, and tried in military courts. No child should have to live under constant military occupation.”

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.