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American Buddhists Issue Petition Urging President Biden to Call for a Ceasefire in Gaza

From change.org

Buddhist scholar, translator, teacher, and activist Bhikkhu Bodhi last week drew up a petition calling on US President Joe Biden to help bring about a ceasefire in Gaza. The petition was edited and shared on the website Change.org by Soto Zen priest and BDG contributor Hozan Alan Senauke. As of the time of writing, the petition had drawn 1,458 signatures.

Bhikkhu Bodhi. From baus.org
Hozan Alan Senauke. From sfzc.org

The 2023 Israel-Hamas war began on 7 October, when militants from Gaza fired thousands of rockets toward Israeli towns. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas and initiated efforts to recover some 240–50 hostages taken during the Hamas-led assault. After clearing the militants, the Israeli military retaliated by conducting an extensive and ongoing aerial bombardment campaign on targets in Gaza, followed by a large-scale ground invasion of Gaza. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, and more than 11,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

The petition reads:

Dear President Biden,

As Buddhists living here in the United States, with utmost urgency we request you to use your authority as President to call on the Israeli government to adopt an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

To be clear, we absolutely condemn the barbaric attacks of Hamas on Israeli civilians that took place on October 7th. We lament the heartless murder of over 1400 Israelis and the abduction of some 240 people as hostages. At the same time, however, we hold that the reprehensible actions of Hamas cannot justify the relentless military campaign that Israel has unleashed against the Palestinian population of Gaza with more than 10,000 deaths. Our hearts are shattered by the horrific images we see daily of the carnage and devastation in that land. We insist that the bombing and blockade must stop!

As the President of this country, you have the most powerful voice in the world. In the name of compassion and human decency, Mr. President, please demand that the Israeli government adopt a ceasefire without delay. Proclaim that both Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy the same rights that we hold dear: the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Begin the process by which both peoples can live together in peace and mutual respect.

We know that the road to peace will be long and hard, but we must make a start now with an immediate and unconditional ceasefire on all sides, the release of all the hostages being held captive by Hamas, and the opening of a secure corridor for the safe passage of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. 

We also protest Israel’s longstanding military occupation of the West Bank. The resolution of this problem must also be part of an enduring peace package. The apartheid regime under which Palestinians live must end, so that Palestinians can be free from decades of harassment, humiliation, and violent displacement from their homes.

We know that, in your heart, you are a man of compassion who has endured painful personal losses in your own life. Please extend this compassion to our Palestinian brothers and sisters in the occupied territories, whose yearning for freedom and self-determination is as deep as our own. And thereby help free the people of Israel from fear and from further attacks. Your future legacy depends on how you respond to this bitter crisis, one on which the eyes of the whole world are focused. 

Let’s heed the words of John Lennon from long ago: “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

Thank you for giving attention to this appeal.

(Change.org)

In his comments on the petition, Bhikkhu Bodhi writes: “I’m deeply concerned about saving the lives of people on both sides of the divide, Palestinians and Israelis alike, and helping peaceful coexistence emerge between the two peoples, who are probably genetic cousins.” (Change.org)

In signing the petition, Buddhist teacher and activist Mushim Patricia Ikeda notes:

I voted for you, President Biden, and now urge you to take action to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the opening of a corridor for humanitarian aid, medical services, and the reestablishment of water, electricity, and phone and Internet service. Too many people including thousands of children have died in unspeakable ways. Nevertheless, let us speak their names and move swiftly toward stopping the bombing and attacks as a foundation for subsequent steps in a direction that recognizes human rights for all.

(Change.org)

Roshi Joan Halifax, founder and head teacher at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, states, “Violence against Palestine must end now. Millions are protesting for this genocide to end.” (Change.org)

Signatures are still being collected and written responses from others who have signed can be found at Change.org.

See more

American Buddhists Call on President Joe Biden for an Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza (Change.org)

Related news reports from BDG

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim Gives Keynote Speech at the 65th Ramon Magsaysay Awards
Soka Gakkai Council on Peace Issues Releases “Statement on the Israel-Palestine Situation”
Buddhists in Sri Lanka Lead Interfaith Protest against Israeli War in Gaza

Related features from BDG

Bodaisatta Shishobo – The Bodhisattva’s Four Embracing Dharmas, Part 1: Giving
Buddhistdoor View: Finding the Peacemakers in a New, Terrible War
Buddhistdoor View: Israel and Palestine – A Buddhist Path to Peace
Buddhistdoor View: Palestine and Israel

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Jake
Jake
8 months ago

Mr. Whitaker the war did not start because “militants from Gaza fired thousands of rockets toward Israeli towns”. It began because hamas islamic terrorists kidnaped, raped, mutilated, tortured, decapitated and murdered 1,400 Israeli civilians (including women, children and elders), some of whom it still hold captive. Hamas are not freedom fighters, they are radical islamic terrorists whose goal is to kill all Jews and eradicate the state of Israel. Please get your facts straight.

Regarding the petition. I understand that we in the west want peace and the whole world to hold hands and sign songs. But the truth is many people and cultures around the world do not want that. Remember hamas attacked Israel, not the other way around. The explicit goal of hamas (stated in their charter) is to eradicate the state of Israel. Question to the signees of the petition: how do you make peace with someone who wants to kill you and your family? Does Buddhism prohibits protecting yourself and your family? Would it not be considered compassionate to neutralize the terrorists that wreck havoc on the world?

And what about those 11,000 Palestinians killed (number provided by hamas, which most likely is hugely inflated)? The fact is never in the history of war has there been an army that is as concerned about minimizing civilian casualties as IDF. The responsibility of the death of Palestinians rest squarely on the shoulders of hamas, who hides in civilian areas, steals humanitarian aid, and blocks the civilians from evacuating, hoping for maximum civilian casualties to provoke world community to start creating petitions like the above and save their own lives.

If the signees of the petition had any moral courage and really cared about Palestinian lives, they should create a petition for hamas to immediately surrender to IDF, then the war would be over the same day and no more civilians (Palestinian and Israeli) would die because of hamas.

Regards
Jake

NillyDilly
NillyDilly
6 months ago
Reply to  Jake

Hello Jake. It is best to not use Buddhist vehicles for dishonesty & propaganda. Gaza has been subjected to Israeli repression for many years. Gaza has been blockaded by Israel & has been described by a United Nations spokesperson as a concentration camp. Israel regularly assaults. kidnaps, imprisons & kills Palestinians. The United Nations and most of the world regard Gaza as an “Occupied Territory”. As such, the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 Israel has no explicit right to claims of self-defense in relation to Gaza. Also, Israel is a military state with compulsory military service. On Oct 7, Hamas mostly attacked military bases. They also sought hostages for a prisoner exchange. Further, there is a grey line in Israel between a civilian & military person given most have been trained in the military. For example, four young ladies who remain as hostages were military personnel on military duty. There is a video showing Hamas in their military base apprehending them. Also, there is no evidence of any rapes or decapitations. These narratives have already been debunked. Also, the 1400 death count was revised down to 1200 because 200 Hamas were burned beyond recognition. If the Israel military burned 200 Hamas beyond recognition, how may Israelis did they burn to death? For months now there have been videos of an Israeli tank shelling homes in kibbutz. There are Israeli witness statements of a whole family killed by the IDF in a kibbutz home. Already there is legal action in Israel about a helicopter gun ship firing on concert goers. Already there is interview by tank commander saying they had to destroy kibbutz homes. In summary, there are international rules of war. Israel is an occupying power therefore it cannot claim to act in self-defense. Also, the people Gaza is defenseless. Buddhism is about natural law. Your post is both unfactual & unrelated to natural law. Gaza can be compared to the Warsaw Ghetto in WW2 and the Hamas action can be compared to the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I am sorry but Buddhism does not view the world with bias. The Hamas action, despite is unskillful & violent nature, was the result of similar Israeli actions towards Palestinian people & culture. It is a cycle of violence perpetuated by both sides. However, given Israel is the infinitely more powerful side, the disproportionate nature of Israel’s actions is contrary to natural law. Therefore, currently, Israel must face allegations of genocide in the International Court of Justice. Naturally, it appear the United States of America is complicit in this alleged genocide.

Jake
Jake
4 months ago
Reply to  NillyDilly

I’m sorry but you are completely wrong on all counts. Everything you said is a lie and Hamas propaganda, if you want to believe that and be deluded be my guest.

Curt Steinmetz
Curt Steinmetz
7 months ago

Israel said from the start that release of the hostages was a precondition for any talk of a cease fire. As soon as Hamas agreed to begin releasing hostages there was a cease fire. Hamas has agreed to release more hostages, and the cease fire is being extended (Nov 30). The war in Gaza was started by Hamas, and the whole time that the war continued Hamas had it in their power to stop it at any time.