Testimony to City Commission regarding military detention of Palestinian children

My name is Raelyn Joyce, from Kalamazoo.  I’m  a Quaker, an active member of Kalamazoo Friends Meeting , located at 508 Denner in the city of Kalamazoo.  Our congregation’s peace and social action committee  has endorsed this resolution.  I’m also  a founding member of Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War, and I consider myself an activist for peace and justice.

The words of Pope Paul VI , “If you want peace, work  for justice,”  and Pope John Paul II, “there can be no peace without justice.”  remind us, who like to call ourselves peace makers to connect  peace to justice.  How can we establish peace in the Middle East without  working for justice?

As a mother and a grandmother, I care about the welfare and protection of children, my own and those of others.  Human rights groups have documented Israel’s widespread military detention and interrogation of Palestinian kids as young as ten.  Clearly, Israel views arrests of Palestinian children and teenagers as  “an effective tool” for control.

Recently Rep. Betty McCollum (MN) has introduced a bill to ban Israel from using the billions of US taxpayers dollars it gets each year to fund “what is clearly a human rights violation against children.”  McCollum’s bill, HR 2407, is called Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.   It would amend the Foreign Assistance Act to prohibit US funding for the military detention of children in any country, including the estimated 700 Palestinian children detained, interrogated, beaten, and tortured every year in Israel’s military courts, which have a conviction rate of 99.74 %.

The bill prohibiting US funds from being used for the ‘military detention, interrogation, abuse and ill-treatment of children”  has  30 co-sponsors.  I intend to ask my representative  in Congress  to become a co-sponsor  of HR 2407, as well.

By approving this resolution,  Kalamazoo   will become  a part of a growing political movement  and will increase media coverage of the Israeli government’s  crimes against minors.  Rabbi Alissa Wise of Jewish Voices for Peace names the Israeli government, military police and intelligence services as the “perpetrators of this system of child abuse,” insisting that “Palestinian children—like all children—should be protected and treasured.”  I cannot improve on Rabbi Wise’s words.