Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

World Alliance of YMCAs under Attack for Report

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

World Alliance of YMCAs under Attack for Report

Article excerpt


After a five-day visit to Palestine, the World Alliance of YMCAs issued a courageous report condemning Israel for violence against Palestinians. The November 2000 report, published in the December issue of YMCA World, presents a disturbing account of the conditions under which YMCA staff and the communities they serve are living. The YMCA team included representatives of the Argentinean, Italian, Dutch and Norwegian YMCA movements and a World Alliance staff member.

Together they reported that "there are systematic and widespread human rights violations being perpetrated on the entire Palestinian population. These take the form of demolishing houses, shooting at ambulances and blocking their rapid passage to hospitals even when they are carrying severely wounded or sick patients, detention of people without charges, killing people without provocation, and placing entire villages and cities under a state of siege.

"There is use of massive force against unarmed protesters and completely innocent people, mainly women, the elderly, and children," the report noted.

The YMCA has had a presence in Jerusalem since 1933 and on the West Bank since 1949. Successive World Councils of the YMCA--in 1988, 1991 and 1998--have expressed concern about human rights violations related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the need for a greater understanding of the conflict in order to contribute to peace building efforts of others.

A 1989 report by international YMCA leaders recommended that, "The World Alliance should recognize the right of Palestinians to self-determination and to an independent state in their own land, and the right to return to a region where both peoples--Israelis and Palestinians--can live in peaceful coexistence on an equal basis. …

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