Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

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Third Thursday: Tell your elected officials: I care about peace, I care about Susiya

Organizations in the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy send out action alerts monthly, focusing on different issues so that members of Congress hear consistently that their constituents support a just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

Update: Rabbis for Human Rights and B'Tselem issued a press release on July 15 underscoring the urgency of the situation in Susiya; Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) has initiated a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry "to take immediate action to prevent the demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya and prevent the continuing demolition of Palestinian neighborhoods, farmlands, and olive orchards in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and in Israel. We hope your intervention, amplified by the concern of citizens and countries throughout the world, will assure the safety of the Palestinian village of Susiya." Please call your representative and ask them to add their name to the Eshoo letter, and call your senators and ask them to initiate a similar letter in the Senate.

“Living with all things ‘Under Military Occupation’ burdens ones heart, one’s soul, one’s life. My heart breaks, my heart cries for the struggle, the struggle for all here in this land, Palestinians and Israelis alike, Muslims, Jews and Christians all living in struggle in differing levels of intensity. I believe that this conflict, this occupation and subjection of another’s land and life is eroding the soul of all.” -- Rev. David Etherington, serving in the Palestinian village of Susiya with the Ecumenical Accompaniment program of the World Council of Churches 

The burden of the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is felt from Gaza – a tiny enclave still in ruins from a devastating war last year – to the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem, where a court victory to stop building the separation wall on private Palestinian land has now been undone. As pressure mounts on a number of fronts, the village of Susiya is a salient example of where advocacy is essential.

To answer the need, the Rebuilding Alliance and partners are sending this message to government leaders: “I care about peace, I care about Susiya.” Please join them today by contacting your elected officials.

The population of Susiya has already suffered a history of displacement. A 2015 UN report recounts, “In 1986, the Israeli authorities declared the main residential area of Susiya an archaeological site and evicted all of its residents. Most of those who relocated to what was later designated as Area C were displaced again in the context of two waves of demolitions, in 2001 and in 2011, on grounds of lack of building permits.”

The same UN report notes that the illegal Israeli settlement of Susya, located next to the Palestinian village, “has a population of nearly 1,000, some of whom live in an unauthorized outpost erected in 2002 in the old community centre that was declared an archeological site.”

While the situation in Susiya is not unique, it is particularly urgent because in May, the Israeli court refused to issue an order prohibiting demolitions during an appeal which is scheduled to be heard on August 3. As Rabbis for Human Rights explains, “The judge’s decision is de facto permission for the State to realize the demolition orders in the village, that has stood in its present location for 30 years.”

Additional causes for concern, as noted by Etherington and others, are recently arrived bulldozers near the village and a visit by the Israeli authorities who photographed and documented structures in the village. 

The Israeli Supreme Court gives the green light to begin building the Separation Wall in the Cremisan Valley (Society of St. Yves, Catholic Center for Human Rights)

While the occupation grinds on, advocates for Susiya are hoping that this village can stand as an example of the success of peaceful action. Etherington quotes a villager, “…[T]oday, when we cry out, the world hears us, many around the world hear our struggle and…stand in solidarity with us and our struggle.”

Stand in solidarity with Susiya – and stand up for peace for Israelis and Palestinians -- by contacting your members of Congress today to say, “I care about peace, I care about Susiya.” Ask them to raise this issue with the U.S. State Department and with the Israeli embassy.

Use this link to send your message to Congress.