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Middle East Working Group

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]CANADA, STAND UP FOR PALESTINIAN CHILDREN’S RIGHTS 

Stop the Arrest and Illegal Detention of Children

It is estimated that between 500 and 700 Palestinian children, as young as six years old, are charged under military law and imprisoned by the Israeli government every year. Hundreds more are taken by Israeli soldiers and police, often at gunpoint during night-raids, held for hours or days, and released without charge. Many of these detainees are held in prisons inside Israel, not Palestine, in direct contravention of international law and beyond the reach of their Palestinian families.

On Sunday, November 28, the first Sunday in Advent you will have a chance to sign a letter to Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, urging the Canadian government to appoint a special envoy to Palestine to investigate what is happening to Palestinian children. To see the letter click here.

In the meantime, if you would like more information, here are some links:

We would also encourage you to sign the online petition at this link:  https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-3608.

Members of the Middle East Working Group (MEWG) will be contacting and visiting their MPs in the following week to urge them to support this campaign and petition. You are urged to do the same. Click here to see the statement to be signed by your MP.

Thank you for joining in this campaign to stand up for Palestinian children and pressure the Israeli government to end the arrest and detention of children in the Occupied Territories and West Bank, actions which contravene the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 


Joining the Middle East Working Group (MEWG) by Betsy Anderson, member of Trinity St Paul’s

Lorna Niebergall and I joined the Middle East Working Group (MEWG) last Spring, recruited by Barbara Lloyd, our Coordinator. The MEWG is a joint working group with members from Bathurst Street, Bloor Street and Trinity St Paul’s United Churches.

The MEWG regularly hosts a Holy Land Worship Service at Trinity-St. Paul’s on the last Sunday in January. This year we are pleased to announce that Sheryl Nestel will be our guest preacher on Sunday, January 30, 2022. Sheryl is a member of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) and a former professor at OISE.

More recently, MEWG was pleased to host a conversation with Nathaniel Erskine-Smith on Sunday, October 3. Nathaniel is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Beaches-East York, first elected in 2015. He sponsored a Petition, presented to the House on April 29, 2021 calling on the Canadian government to take steps to stop Israel’s violations of international law with evictions, demolitions and settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

We asked him to talk with us about how we can successfully lobby the federal government to, at a minimum, live out our stated foreign policy regarding Israel/Palestine, and, ideally, to improve those policies. We were pleased that about 50 people joined in the conversation and were encouraged by Nathaniel’s encouragement to connect with our MPs, build a relationship and increase their education and knowledge about this issue. Nathaniel observed that the most recently reported incursions and demolitions in Israel had provoked a groundswell of protest from a broad spectrum of Canadian constituents. Advocacy and well-informed communication from constituents does have an impact, he assured us.

Another focus among Canadian church people, and others engaged in solidarity and advocacy on behalf of a just peace in Palestine and Israel, is the issue of the arrest and detention of children living in the West Bank. Many are often those living in villages in close proximity to illegal Israeli settlements. The conditions of these arrests are heartbreaking. They take place through night raids by Israeli soldiers who terrorize the entire family. The result is imprisonment for the child in Israel where Palestinian family members cannot travel. International rules, which would normally protect children against such human rights violations, do not apply in Israel’s view as the raids occur in an occupied territory, not a state.

The Stand Up for Palestinian Children’s Rights campaign is urging the Canadian government to appoint a Special Envoy to examine the rights of Palestinian children. The MEWG will be participating in a cross-country public action planned for the first Sunday in Advent, Nov. 28, 2021 and November 29, 2021 which is the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Opportunities to contribute to this effort will be announced at a later date.

While the realities of the Israel/Palestine conflict over so many decades are very tough and complex and our complicity part of the equation, I am very grateful to those in our United Church who have helped us continue to engage and offer our support to the vision of a just peace. With MEWG, it is good to be involved with others on a small scale as my own knowledge and understanding grows and evolves. It is good to work together with and get to know folks from our neighbouring congregations. If you are interested in this work and would like to be part of the MEWG, please contact Barbara Lloyd ([email protected]). As I dip my toe in, once again to these efforts, I am continuously humbled and inspired by all those who live in Israel and Palestine and persist in working for a life they can live together.

Members of the MEWG are from Bathurst Street United, Trinity St. Paul’s United, and Bloor Street United.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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