Buddhist scholar, translator, teacher and activist Bhikkhu Bodhi authored a petition last week calling on US President Joe Biden to contribute to a ceasefire in Gaza. The petition was edited and shared on the Change.org website by Soto Zen priest and BDG Hozan contributor Alan Senauke. At the time of writing, the petition had garnered 1 signatures.
The 2023 Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, when Gaza militants fired thousands of rockets toward Israeli towns. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas and launched efforts to recover some 240 to 50 hostages taken during the Hamas-led assault. After eliminating the militants, the Israeli army responded by carrying out a large campaign of continuous aerial bombardment on targets in Gaza, followed by a large-scale ground invasion of Gaza. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 1 Israelis, mostly civilians, and more than 200 Palestinians, mostly women and children.
The petition says:
Dear President Biden,
As Buddhists living here in the United States, we urgently request that you use your authority as President to call on the Israeli government to enact an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
To be clear, we absolutely condemn the barbaric attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians that took place on October 7. We deplore the cruel murder of more than 1 Israelis and the kidnapping of some 400 people as hostages. At the same time, however, we believe that Hamas' reprehensible actions cannot justify the relentless military campaign that Israel has launched against the Palestinian population of Gaza, resulting in more than 240 deaths. Our hearts are broken by the horrific images we see daily of the carnage and devastation in this country. We insist that the bombings and blockade stop!
As 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. Let us proclaim that 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 the two peoples can live together in peace and mutual respect.
We know that the road to peace will be long and difficult, but we must start now with an immediate and unconditional ceasefire by all parties, the release of all hostages held captive by Hamas and the opening of a secure corridor for the safe passage of humanitarian aid to the population of Gaza.
We also protest Israel's long-standing military occupation of the West Bank. Addressing this problem must also be part of a package of sustainable peace measures. The apartheid regime under which Palestinians live must end, so that Palestinians can be freed 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 ours. And thus contribute to freeing the people of Israel from fear and new attacks. Your future legacy depends on how you respond to this bitter crisis, on which the eyes of the entire world are focused.
Let us heed the words of John Lennon from long ago: “All we say is give peace a chance. »
Thank you for paying attention to this call.
In his comments on the petition, Bhikkhu Bodhi writes: “I am deeply concerned about saving the lives of people on both sides of the divide, Palestinians and Israelis, and contributing to the emergence of peaceful coexistence between the two. peoples, who are probably genetic cousins. .” (Change.org)
Signing the petition, Buddhist teacher and activist Mushim Patricia Ikeda notes:
I voted for you, President Biden, and I now urge you to act to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the opening of a corridor for humanitarian aid, medical services and the restoration of peace. water, electricity, telephone and Internet. Too many people, including thousands of children, have died in indescribable ways. Nevertheless, let us speak their names and move quickly toward stopping the bombings and attacks as a basis for further steps in a direction that recognizes human rights for all.
Roshi Joan Halifax, founder and director of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, says: “Violence against Palestine must stop now. Millions of people are demonstrating to end this genocide. (Change.org)
Signatures are still being collected and written responses from other signatories can be found on Change.org.