Can you imagine?
This is the reality for hundreds of Palestinian parents and their children, mostly boys, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank each year. At any one time, between 300 and 400 Palestinian minors between the ages of 12 and 18 are being held in Israeli military detention.
Their crime? Usually, throwing stones. Sometimes, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Studies by human rights groups and organizations like UNICEF have documented that ill-treatment is widespread and systematic. In 97 percent of cases, children are interrogated without a parent or legal representative present, and in 75 percent of cases, they experience some form of physical violence from soldiers or police.
The military detention of Palestinian children is part of a larger system of occupation which subjugates, humiliates and denies Palestinians their basic rights. That system includes: the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories; the demolition of homes; the restrictions on movement through walls, checkpoints, and a permit system; the suppression of nonviolent resistance; the decimation of hope.
There is a growing public outcry about the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. Not only is the military detention of children and youth morally wrong. It also violates many internationally-recognized human rights and child rights.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has joined a movement called No Way to Treat a Child, urging protection for Palestinian children. MCC is calling on the federal government to honour international law commitments and hold Israeli authorities accountable for widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees.
Please join this effort!
Watch a video and read a story about Jarrah, a 15-year-old Palestinian youth who spent 9 months in detention.
And please sign the petition which says Military detention is no way to treat a child.
The last few years have been a time of both soul-searching and hope as Canada comes to terms with its colonial history. The Idle No More movement and the Missing Indigenous Women and Girls initiatives have raised awareness of continued injustice and racism in our society. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission collected a great deal of data on the Residential School System and offered concrete suggestions for healing—including calls to the churches to help facilitate reconciliation.
On January 7, we celebrate Epiphany, the light of Christ revealed to the whole world. At that time, to honour the spiritual and cultural gifts of our Indigenous neighbours, we will dedicate two pieces of art by Lawrence Beaulieu, donated by our Indigenous friend Raymond Olson. These will remain on display as reminders to work and pray toward healed Indigenous-settler relationships.
Through this art, we acknowledge that we live and worship on Treaty 1 territory. The government of Canada and the Anishinaabe and Cree peoples of the area signed the treaty on August 3, 1871 at Lower Fort Garry. For the Indigenous people, the treaty meant the formal recognition of a long-standing friendly relationship. For the government, the treaty meant the ceding of land in return for reserve land and for assistance with education and health services. At HSMC, we confess the pain and brokenness resulting from Canada’s failure to honour the terms of the treaty. We also acknowledge with gratitude the hospitality extended to us as settler people.
Accompanying the artwork will be a plaque with the following text:
This church is located on Treaty 1 territory, traditional land of the Anishinaabe, Cree, and Dakota people and the homeland of the Métis Nation. We are grateful to the Indigenous peoples for their stewardship of this land and the hospitality which enables our congregation to live, worship, and serve God the Creator here. We acknowledge the harms that we in the settler community have brought upon the Indigenous peoples of this land. These pieces of art symbolize our commitment to be people of reconciliation in word and deed.
A painting on a house in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, West Bank.
During worship this Sunday, there will be a prayer focused on peace in Palestine and Israel—the Holy Land. It coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War of 1967, one of the shortest wars in history, but one that resulted in decades of stalled peace negotiations, injustice and eruptions of violence. The quest for peace between Palestinians and Israelis is elusive and complex. But what does this have to do with HMSC’s Vision 2020? What does it have to do with Winnipeg? Palestine and Israel may be closer to home than you realize. Did you know…?
in May, CPAM members in Winnipeg gather socially, and to remember the loss of their land and
the continued plight of the 4.5 million Palestinians who remain in the West Bank, East Jerusalem,
- Byron Rempel Burkholder