Thursday, July 3, 2014

International law must be observed

Even when nations fail to follow international law, there’s still room for religious leaders, charitable foundations, and businesses to take action.

By Rev. Darrell Mitchell

Originally published as a letter to the editor in the Marshalltown Times-Republican

Last month, Pope Francis said a prayer at the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was writing a positive statement on the wall, to the Pope, while an Israeli soldier was passively watching the pope and the young Palestinian boy.

Yes, the Apartheid Wall was built to bring about security to the people in Israel. When the wall was built, Israel did not follow the blueprint plans according to international law, and so Israel built the wall illegally and stole more valuable Palestinian land in doing so.
On Sunday, June 8, Pope Francis invited the Palestinian President Abbas, along with the Israeli President Peres. The good news is this: perhaps praying will help to bring peace and justice to occur, there in the Vatican. The second good news came to me from a young Jewish, Rhodes Scholar, Anne Baltzer, who has been working in the boycott, divestment and sanction movement. Bloomberg News has confirmed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation divested $184 million of its holdings in G4S following an international, Palestinian-led campaign urging the foundation to end investments in the British private security company that helps run Israeli prisons that hold and torture Palestinian prisoners.

G4S announced that it intends to pull out of Israeli prisons completely. Congratulations to everyone that has made this happen and that sent letters of support to the Bill Gates Foundation. These are encouraging steps that are taking place. Perhaps peace and justice will come, along with some much needed prayers, and pressure from people and shareholder stock divestment action. International law must be observed if we are going to have peace and justice in our world.

Darrell Mitchell is a minister in the United Methodist Church and serves on Iowa Peace Network's Joint Oversight Committee.

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