Christians Against Israeli Violence
Christians Against Military Aid to Israel

Christians Against Israeli Violence: Churches Call to End U.S. Military Aid to Israel

On March 10, 2023, ten U.S.-based Christian groups published a letter directed to President Biden and Congress calling on the end of U.S. military aid to Israel. The letter reads: “In response to our Christian call to be peacemakers, we work with Palestinian and Israeli partners who live there as they struggle to realize a just and lasting peace. […] U.S. military funding to Israel in part sustains this violence, making the U.S. government complicit in ongoing abuses.” The letter continues, “As U.S.-based churches and church-based organizations, we call for change to end this U.S. complicity and ask that the U.S. government hold Israel accountable for its abuses including by cutting military aid.”

This call is only the latest in a growing list of U.S. religious organizations reevaluating their support for Israel. In 2021, dozens of American rabbinical students wrote a public letter calling on the Jewish American community to hold Israel accountable for its human rights abuses. In 2016, the United Methodist Church shared its fervent opposition to Israel’s illegal confiscations of and settlements on Palestinian lands.

 

Why Are Churches Ending Support for Israel’s Military?

The 2023 letter claims that the United States’ “uncritical support – politically, diplomatically, and financially – for the Government of Israel and its failure to demand accountability” has resulted in the proliferation of violence in the region.

The undersigned church organizations have cited their previous demands to “end Israeli violation of Palestinian rights and for conditioning U.S. military funding to Israel.” Over the past decade of unanswered calls to action, the church organizations have found that the abuses have only increased. They now argue that the Israel-Palestine situation requires urgent action.

Below are the new concerns the church organizations describe in their letter:

The churches also remain motivated to end abuses they have witnessed for more than a decade, including the following:

How Does U.S. Military Aid Support Violence in Israel?

In 2016, the U.S. and Israel signed their third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which covers 2019 through 2028. The U.S. pledged to provide $38 billion in military aid to Israel for the duration of the MOU. This was an $8 billion increase from the previous 10-year MOU.

To date, the U.S. has provided Israel $158 billion (non-inflation-adjusted dollars) in bilateral assistance, and almost all bilateral assistance is in the form of military aid. President Biden’s $1.7 trillion spending bill of December 2022 included $3.8 billion in military finance for Israel, as well as $300 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians.

Professor and writer Stephen Zunes has echoed the argument of these Christian groups, stating: “Given that the United States is the provider of many of the weapons and delivery systems that were used in the Israeli offensive, the United States bears special responsibility for the carnage.” He recommends that the U.S. should “treat Israel like any other state. […N]o state has a right to invade, occupy, and colonize its neighbors; no state has a right to engage in indiscriminate bombing onto crowded civilian neighborhoods.”

US Churches Letter to Biden

10 Church Organizations Signed to End Military Aid to Israel

Ten U.S.-based Christian groups and church organizations signed the 2023 letter to President Biden and Congress which called for the end of U.S. military support to Israel:

Christians, like the Jewish and Muslim peoples, share a special relationship to the land of Israel and Palestine. Inspired by “the call and promise of Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9 NRSVUE),” these church organizations argue that it is their “moral responsibility” to question U.S. military support for Israel.

Learn more about the situation in Israel-Palestine by visiting the Promised Land Museum.

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Stefan Moore

Stefan Moore

A self-described “secular Jew,” documentary filmmaker Stefan Moore wrote about the troubled history of creating the Jewish state for Consortium News. He argues for a shift from fighting for a two-state solution toward a “democratic secular state accommodating both...

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