Olympians Oppose Continuing War On Palestinians

Olympia Movement for Justice & Peace

Photo by Howard RosenfeldOlympia, WA, March 11, 2002---Concerned Olympians gathered today in pouring rain to greet morning commuter traffic with banners opposing US tax-dollar funding of the Israeli military, and its continuing slaughter of innocent Palestinian civilians.

In the past week, more than 100 Palestinians and 30 Israelis died in the deadliest week of fighting since the latest cycle began 17 months ago. Israeli Defense Forces invaded Palestinian towns and refugee camps, bulldozing homes, firing on heavily populated areas via air, sea, and land, and detaining up to a thousand Palestinians. Besieged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remained virtually imprisoned by Israeli tanks in his Ramallah complex.

But this is only the latest violence. Amnesty International notes that more than 1000 Palestinians have been killed in the Occupied Territories since September 2000. "The great majority of those killed, [including] more than 200 children, were killed unlawfully when no lives were in danger," the organization reported. "Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and serious violations of human rights standards are daily currency in the Occupied Territories." Amnesty International has repeatedly and vigorously opposed Israel's state-sponsored policy of assassination, extrajudicial killings, and "utter disregard for human life."

Nonetheless, since the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel has received $10 billion in US weapons and military aid. According to film producer Tom Wright (Checkpoint: The Palestinians After Oslo), these include: 140 F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, Blackhawk and Boeing-manufactured Apache helicopters, F-151 bombers, artillery vehicles, Pratt and Whitney aircraft engines, tank engines, Hellfire II laser-guided missiles, 518 heavy tactical trucks, medium range air-to-air missiles, Chaparral missiles, antitank rockets, air-to-ground missiles, M16 rifles and ammunition, high explosive projectiles, a tank-landing ship, antiaircraft missile launchers, guided missiles, antitank missiles, Colt rifles, armoured personnel carriers, grenade launchers, Browning machine guns, night vision sensors, and a vast array of technical support services as well as computer and radar equipment. The US government meanwhile has repeatedly vetoed placement of international observers in the Occupied Territories.

We object to the United States government's use of our tax dollars to fund Israel's illegal, immoral, and inhumane violence against the Palestinian people. We object to the United States government's subsidization of armament manufacture by corporations like Boeing which consequently profit at the expense of human life. We object to Israel's continued violations of the Geneva Conventions and international human rights standards. We object to the forced dislocation of people from their traditional homes; their incarceration in squalid camps behind high wire fences, concrete blocks, and earthen barriers; the prevention of freedom of movement through check points, roadblocks and curfews; the confiscation of civilian water supplies; and the colonization of their territories with "settlements." We object when 3.2 million people are prevented from traveling to employment, from using roads reserved for non Palestinians only, from transporting goods to market, from reaching medical care, when, in fact, emergency medical personnel are forcibly restrained from reaching and treating the injured, as occurred days ago in Tulkarm and Bethlehem. We object to our tax dollars supporting this "utter disregard for human life."

    What You Can Do To Help

  1. Support the current Saudi peace proposal process.

  2. Counteract myths and stereotypes by sharing information about the conflict and its roots.

  3. Talk with your church or community group about the history of conflict in the Middle East and its recent escalation.

  4. Contact Olympians for Peace in the Middle East for speaker or video presentations: Tom Wright, 360-876-0290, or Lori Blewitt, 360-705-2147.

  5. Contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to support a just peace process.

  6. Write to local media urging others to speak out for peace.
Selected Sources:

Amnesty International. Israel/Occupied Territories: Inaction is complicity. March 08, 2002.

Amnesty International. Israel / Occupied Territories / Palestinian Authority: Injustice and repression are not the answer. January 24, 2002.

Amnesty International. Israel/Occupied Territories: Israel shows reckless disregard for human life. August 01, 2001.

Associated Press. "Mideast Peace Efforts Fail to Slow Violence," New York Times, March 9, 2002.

Bennet, James. "Israelis Kill at Least 40 After Arab Kills 5 Teenagers," New York Times, March 09, 2002, A1.

Menuchin, Ishai. "Saying No to Israel's Occupation," New York Times, March 9, 2002, A15, OP-ED.

Seattle IMC. Is The Occupation Killing Us All? March 09, 2002.

Wright, Tom, and Therese Saliba. Checkpoint: The Palestinians After Oslo. Videorecording. Olympia, Wash.: Studio 58 Productions, 1997.

Wright, Tom. "U.S. Foreign Policy in Israel -- The Illegal Cccupation of Palestine." Works in Progress, March, 2002.

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