Lawmakers urge Obama to appoint special envoy for Palestinian children

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on 28 Comments

Press Release from Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) — No Way to Treat a Child Campaign:

Twenty members of Congress signed a letter to President Barack Obama on Monday, urging the appointment of a Special Envoy for Palestinian Children to ensure the U.S. government prioritizes Palestinian children’s rights.

The No Way to Treat a Child campaign, a network of faith-based and human rights organizations led by Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee, welcomed the bold move to elevate the human rights of Palestinian children to priority status in U.S. bilateral relations with Israel.

“Representative McCollum and her colleagues recognize that younger Americans increasingly sympathize with Palestinians and responded by calling for justice and equality for Palestinian children,” said Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “By doing so, the lawmakers are challenging the decades-long U.S.-led ‘peace process’ that has consistently demanded peace without justice.”

The letter, initiated by Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, expresses concern for Palestinian children under 18 years old, living “under the constant fear of arrest, detention, and violence at the hands of the Israeli military.” They represent 46 percent of the 4.68 million Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

“It is in the interest of the American people to advance the cause of security, human rights, equality, dignity, justice, and opportunity for Palestinians, just as we do for Israelis,” said McCollum.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, were among the 20 lawmakers that co-signed the letter. They were each selected last month to serve on the Platform Drafting Committee of the Democratic National Committee, which has drawn attention for its uniquely progressive membership, including outspoken supporters of Palestinian rights.

The lawmakers raised “profound concern” regarding the Israeli government’s longstanding policy of arresting and prosecuting Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.

“This letter shows that even amid an intensely polarized presidential election season, constituents can effectively engage lawmakers on Palestinian rights issues,” said Jennifer Bing, Middle East Program Director at the American Friends Service Committee. “The fact that three letter signers are also members of the Platform Drafting Committee of the Democratic National Committee signifies the notable shift in American public opinion toward Palestinian rights.”

Israel prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year. Amid escalating violence since October 2015, the number of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons, where according to UNICEF ill-treatment of children is widespread, systematic, and institutionalized from the moment of arrest, has spiked dramatically. Over the past six months, Israel has held more than 400 Palestinian children in prison each month, according to Israel Prison Service data. These totals represent the highest numbers in over five years.

The letter cites an April 2016 report from DCIP that found three out of four children endure physical violence following arrest. The letter states that “such blatant abuses are unacceptable and contrary to U.S. interests and values.”

The Obama administration has greatly expanded the use of special envoys as a means of highlighting and addressing specific foreign policy issues. There are currently 24 special envoys on issues ranging from Climate Change to the Human Rights of LGBT Persons to Israel-Palestine Negotiations.

Read the full text of the letter here. 

The stages of Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Child Prisoners No Way to Treat a Child Campaign Photo: AFSC

The stages of Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Child Prisoners No Way to Treat a Child Campaign Photo: AFSC

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28 Responses

  1. just
    June 20, 2016, 5:11 pm

    Thanks for the information. If he listens and acts, success/ failure very much depends on who he appoints as envoy, doesn’t it? I am grateful for their action, and am heartened to find 3 of the Dem platform cmte are among them.

    (Does anyone know why they left out Gaza in the letter?)

    • Boomer
      June 21, 2016, 9:06 am

      re: “If he listens and acts”

      Not to worry, Mr. Obama has plenty of time to do that. If he doesn’t, perhaps President Clinton will. If not her, then perhaps President Mezvinsky will do so. It’s only a matter of time.

  2. JWalters
    June 20, 2016, 9:14 pm

    I nominate Rep. Betty McCollum for chairman of the DNC.

  3. Kay24
    June 20, 2016, 9:57 pm

    It is nice to know that there are a few principled leaders in Congress, who are not in the pockets of Israel, and do not fear to stand up for Palestinian children. It is sad that they are always the minority, and not the majority in our nation that has bragged about pushing against human rights violations.

  4. Talkback
    June 21, 2016, 4:15 am

    The US protecting rights of Nonjewish Children? Isn’t this antisemitic … somehow?

    • Boomer
      June 21, 2016, 9:41 am

      “Isn’t this antisemitic … ”

      I think it depends on where the children and their families are located. Also, it depends on whether the person concerned about the children agrees that historical events in Europe give Israel a right to do as it pleases.

      • Talkback
        June 22, 2016, 6:57 am

        Well, of course protecting Nonjewish Children in Palestine which implies that their rights need to be protected from Jews which implies that Jews violate or attempt to violate their rights which is an antisemitic accusation, because Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and has the most moral army in the world, no?

        Damn, I shouldn’t have tried Ziocane, now my brain has holes like Swiss cheese.

      • Mooser
        June 22, 2016, 11:22 am

        “Damn, I shouldn’t have tried Ziocane, now my brain has holes like Swiss cheese.”

        Okay, now I know I don’t want to use “Gentile” or “goyim.

      • Talkback
        June 24, 2016, 7:44 am

        See, Mooser? Now you even have a cheap excuse, too.

      • Mooser
        June 24, 2016, 6:17 pm

        “Now you even have a cheap excuse, too.”

        That’s my favorite kind. Here’s another: Mormons use “Gentile” too, don’t they, to describe non-Mormons, and use it in the same way.
        I’m a little embarrassed that didn’t tip me off years ago, because I felt a little offended when I was included in those “Gentiles”. But I didn’t quite catch on.

      • Talkback
        June 25, 2016, 6:27 am

        Good point, Mooser, cause even the Mormons don’t use the term as an insult, but simply refer to “nations” who don’t use the “gospel” (even if they are Israelites).

        I didn’t know that you could be offended by that.

      • Mooser
        June 25, 2016, 7:04 pm

        “I didn’t know that you could be offended by that.”

        I lived in Utah, SLC, for quite a while when I was younger. And except for the fact that it is hard to take Mormons seriously about stuff like that, the thought of being a ‘lesser breed which knew not the law’ is offensive.

      • Mooser
        June 25, 2016, 7:24 pm

        “Good point, Mooser, cause even the Mormons don’t use the term as an insult”

        Once again, this is not about how or why I say the word,or even what I mean, it’s about what people hear when I say the word. What they might hear, not what I say.

      • oldgeezer
        June 25, 2016, 7:58 pm

        @Mooser
        ” the thought of being a ‘lesser breed which knew not the law’ is offensive. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/lawmakers-palestinian-children/#comment-168533

        I don’t get offended by that. I’m secretly amused when people use such terms. It says a lot more about them than me.

      • Mooser
        June 25, 2016, 9:11 pm

        “I’m secretly amused when people use such terms.”

        Oh, Rudyard Kipling was a man of his time, I guess.

      • echinococcus
        June 25, 2016, 10:17 pm

        Mooser,

        Excellent quote. No doubt at all that for the tribals any outsiders are of a ‘lesser breed which know not the law’.

        Any good reason for avoiding to discuss and publicize it? I don’t see one.

      • Dan
        June 26, 2016, 2:17 am

        Kipling was probably referring to Germany and Russia (according to scholars who study these things)

        Why are you putting Kipling’s words into the mouths of Mormons?
        I know practically nothing about Mormon’s but Talkback said that Mormon’s don’t use the term as an insult.
        Do you have any evidence to dispute that or are you just smearing for fun?

        And why were you offended when Mormon’s referred to you as “Gentile”.
        You still haven’t explained it.
        You started out on the other thread by saying you didn’t think Gentile was offensive.

        Quote:
        “Gentile” itself can also be offensive?

      • Mooser
        June 26, 2016, 7:16 pm

        “Gentile” itself can also be offensive?”

        Yes, that was my question. And “Annie” gave me a very cogent answer, explaining that it could be offensive. I thought about it, and I reflected on how I used the term, and decided I could live without it, and I wasn’t using it correctly.
        Don’t worry about the Mormon guy who offended me by calling me a “Gentile”. He got his. I didn’t let him get away with it. I told him: “I’m no “Gentile”, I’m a Jew, and don’t you forget it”!

      • Dan
        July 1, 2016, 7:13 pm

        “Don’t worry about the Mormon guy who offended me…”

        You don’t understand what offend means.
        Either that or you’re right, the present can literally change the past

      • Mooser
        July 1, 2016, 10:57 pm

        “You don’t understand what offend means.”

        Of course I know what “offend” means. That’s where you go when you take a walk longer than a short pier.

        All I know is, I stopped using “Gentile” for a week now, and nobody has mistaken me for a Mormon.
        And that is all to the good. Mormons get up too early.
        I’m a later-in-the-day saint.

      • Dan
        July 3, 2016, 9:01 am

        “…I reflected on how I used the term….”
        “All I know is, I stopped using “Gentile” for a week now”

        That’s nice to hear.
        If the moderator ever changes her mind on this, you probably will to.

        Of course after giving it a lot of thought. No doubt anything a moderator says will inspire you to genu-reflect deeply.

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2016, 2:24 pm

        “If the moderator ever changes her mind on this, you probably will to. “

        I don’t remember “Annie” (if she was indeed moderating, she may have been just commenting and somebody else moderating, who knows) ever saying that “Gentile” was a word that the Moderator would give a second glance to, and it’s been used many times, both as “Gentile” and in “antigentilism” since then.

        Try to look at the bright side “Dan”. There’s been quite a number of comments I’ve written since then, got to the spot where I would normally have used “Gentile”, and then asked myself, “Now, wait a minute, who do I mean by that? And, if the comment should be read, what will the reader think it means? ” and then ditched the entire comment. Just think, if I gave the same amount of thought to my use of “Jews” and derivatives it’d probably shut me up entirely.

      • oldgeezer
        July 5, 2016, 4:08 pm

        @Mooser

        Sorry for responding so late to this. I kept meaning to but more current topics attracted my attention.

        Yes I would say that kipling was a man of his time. Racism was prevalent and acceptable. I enjoyed his books as a kid but have little regard for his character, or him as a person, once I hit my teen years.

      • Mooser
        July 5, 2016, 4:43 pm

        “Yes I would say that kipling was a man of his time.”

        Well, I was the one who quoted him, so no blame attaches to you.
        Kipling lived to see his adored son killed in the First World War. And came the unforgiving moment, and sixty second’s worth of distance run wasn’t much help.
        “If any question why we died, tell them, because our fathers lied”

  5. John Salisbury
    June 21, 2016, 8:22 am

    Highly unlikely President Obama will be ‘allowed ‘ to appoint such a person.

  6. Mary T
    June 21, 2016, 8:45 am

    I am so pleased my Congresswoman, Chellie Pingree, signed the letter. This is a small beginning, but nevertheless very good news.

  7. lonely rico
    June 21, 2016, 12:34 pm

    > Boomer

    Not to worry, Mr. Obama has plenty of time to do that. If he doesn’t, perhaps President Clinton will. … It’s only a matter of time.

    Those children will soon be adults,
    at which time can be held under ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION.
    (“… arrest and detention of individuals by the state without trial … as a means … to protect the ruling regime.” – Wikipedia)

    Problem solved.

    • Boomer
      June 21, 2016, 4:13 pm

      >lonely rico “Problem solved.”

      Indeed. Or, to quote the MSM, “problem? what problem?”

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