Norway’s YMCA-YWCA Supports Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions of Israel

The Norwegian YMCA-YWCA and YMCA-YWCA Global  hope this non-violent instrument can contribute to a solution with a just peace for both parties. God created all people in his image, equal in dignity – and that human dignity is violated now daily in the Palestinian territories.

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Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers – and we must try to help – with the non-violent means available. The peace movement on both sides need our active solidarity.

Tung. Debate about Israel and Palestine experienced in many Christian organizations and churches as heavy and difficult. Many people choose to leave it. Secretary General of the Association of YWCA (World YWCA) reminded us recently that “Silence is also a statement.” To let the debate remain basically means accepting the status quo.

We will not accept the status quo in Palestine and Israel. Both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to self-determination within internationally recognized borders, in recognition of its elected leadership and just peace with security for the civilian population.

Israel’s rights must be maintained, but the occupation of Palestine is unacceptable.  Because a long series of UN resolutions and negotiations for decades have not yielded results, we believe it is now appropriate to initiate economic boycott of Israel to put increased pressure on the authorities to follow up UN resolutions to end the occupation.

We encourage broad economic boycott of products from Israel, Israeli settlements and from companies that actively participate in the occupation.

Non-violence. YMCA-YWCA Global has over the last 40 years working closely with the YMCA and YWCA of Palestine. YWCA and YMCA are important community of Christian Palestinians, they have a heavy social commitment and strengthens young people in struggle and faith in justice and peace – only using non-violent means.

We are distressed when we see how the Palestinians constantly subjected to undignified treatment. We understand that they get angry when they lose access to the land they cultivate, as they struggle with water shortages while settlers on the hill have more than enough, when children must be accompanied by companions to school to be protected from harassment, when soldiers suddenly close all the checkpoint and many youth loses a teaching or a doctor’s appointment. Or if they encounter a wall growing up in the neighborhood and they do not know whether their house will stand.

Rights on the Israeli side also violated as a result of the conflict. We understand that Israeli families are weary and despairing of living in fear of rockets and suicide bombs. We understand that they seek to create security for themselves and their families.

Sin. We are humble when we see the YWCA and YMCA youth searching for ways to achieve justice and equal living conditions, without resorting to violence. We want to strengthen and support their involvement.

In 2009, we faced a challenge from church leaders and laity in Bethlehem authored “A Moment of Truth – Kairos Palestine”. The authors declare clearly that the military occupation is a sin against God and man, and express strongly that a theology which defends the occupation is far from Christian teachings.

They believe true Christian theology challenge to solidarity with the oppressed, and the love that is reflected in action. They defend the Palestinians’ right and duty to participate in non-violent resistance to injustice they suffer from. Specifically, we were on a theological basis, encouraged to join the creative and non-violent resistance, specified as involvement in economic boycott of everything produced as part of the occupation and withdrawal of investments in such purposes.

Wide boycott.  We advocate a broad economic boycott both because it is impossible for consumers to know if a product is manufactured in the occupied territories or not, and because the purchase of Israeli products or investments in Israeli companies contribute financially to the occupation that Israel is responsible for .

It is important to recognize that a conflict has multiple pages. As a church we are challenged to take sides with those who suffer most and who do we speak for yourselves.  The Israeli government has a superior military force and is occupying. Palestinian authorities and the civilian population carries a variety of offending and violent acts, but they are currently the weakest party. This gives Israel the primary responsibility to end the occupation and restore justice and peace.

Legally. Whilst negotiations are attempted for many laps, Israel’s position has become stronger. An economic boycott is a strong but legal and non-violent means. We encourage organizations, churches and individuals to support our position. This position is really held in love, both for Israelis and Palestinians.

Authors:  Øystein Magelssen, Styreleder Norwegian YMCA-YWCA, Adelheid Firing Hvambsa, General of the Norwegian YMCA-YWCA, Sunniva Gylver, Chairman YMCA-YWCA Global, and Fredrik Glad-Gjernes,  Foreign Head of YMCA-YWCA Global

FIRST PUBLISHED IN OUR COUNTRY 21 February 2014 see http://www.verdidebatt.no/debatt/cat1/subcat4/thread11477785/#cxrecs_s

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