Our advocacy can take both personal and public forms
- When we speak with friends and colleagues about this issue, we inspire them to learn more and speak out.
- When we write letters to the editor, we’re naming an evil which many readers have never even heard about.
- When we show films or sponsor speakers to address this situation we are multiplying awareness of the need to effect change.
- When we write letters to our elected officials or visit their offices we’re sending a strong message.
- When we speak up in town halls, we’re letting elected officials (and everyone else present) know this is an issue we care about.
Each of these forms of advocacy is important, meaningful and necessary to help bring peace to the region. Here we focus on engagements with elected officials, as called for in the 2017 resolution.
What the 2017 resolution on Palestinian children calls for
The 2017 resolution “Calls on the government of the United States to adhere to its own established law – in this case, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act – by withholding military assistance from the State of Israel due to its practices of arrest and detention of Palestinian children.” It requires Israel to “…guarantee basic due process rights and exercise an absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of detained children, ensuring that, from the moment of arrest, all operations and procedures are carried out in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child…”
The 2017 resolution goes on to ask that UCC members support implementation of a 2015 General Synod resolution which also seeks peace in the region. The 2015 resolution “Calls upon the United Church of Christ Officers and church members to persist in the request to Congress, previously made by a number of religious leaders, to ensure that U.S. aid to Israel violates neither the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits assistance to any country that engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations, nor the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of U.S. weapons to ‘internal security’ or ‘legitimate self-defense.’”
the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and U.S. Arms Export Control Act as bases for action
The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, together with a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act called the “Leahy Amendment” or the “Leahy Law,” form the legal basis for many petitions calling for U.S. government sanctions against Israel. These laws deny military assistance to countries engaged in severe human rights violations. For more information about these laws, see this excellent report by Josh Ruebner.
Despite the clear language of these laws, U.S. taxpayers provide more than $3.8 billion in military assistance to Israel each year – more than is provided by the U.S. to any other country in the world. This funding enables maintenance and expansion of the military occupation, with its severe, repeated violations of international human rights law.
The UCC resolutions calls on all of us to pressure Congress to uphold our U.S. laws by withholding military aid from Israel.
There are currently several measures before the US Congress and Senate that will directly affect Palestinian children. One of these is House Bill 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. Sponsored by Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota, this bill prohibits the 3.8 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars given annually to Israel from being used to support the ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children in military detention.
A number of religious and secular groups are working to advocate for passage of this bill. For legislative advocacy on behalf of Palestinian children, we strongly encourage you to connect with one or more of these organizations:
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign is a leading source of information and coordination for legislative advocacy on behalf of incarcerated Palestinian children. The campaign is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Defense for Children International–Palestine (DCI-P), and includes a network of National Campaign Partners:
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Amnesty International-USA
- Christian Peacemaker Teams-Palestine
- Friends Committee on National Legislation
- Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA)
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
- US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
You can also sign on as a “citizen co-sponsor” of House Bill 4391 using this form provided by the No Way to Treat a Child campaign.
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights offers a full page of information about House Bill 4391, including a convenient fill-in-the-blanks form to send a letter to your congressional representative.
Global Ministries of the UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) regularly publishes action alerts for various issues, including Palestine-Israel and House Bill 4391. To receive these action alerts, visit the Global Ministries web page located here.
In our advocacy for human rights of children, we work in unison with the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ.