Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Local residents join in plea for ceasefire and food for Gaza

On Wednesday, March 27, Centre County locals gathered in front of U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson’s office to call for the representative to take action in calling for support for Gaza. The protest was coordinated by the University Mennonite Church in State College and was a part of a larger North American effort organized by Mennonite Action, a statewide organization that advocates for peace and justice.

“Send food, not bombs!” the event’s press release stated. “Sending aid to Gaza is not enough. We tie our calls for increased humanitarian aid to calls for a permanent ceasefire, a release of all the hostages and political prisoners and an end to funding for weapons of war to Israel. We believe that weapons of war make everyone unsafe and destabilize the region, allowing hate to thrive. We seeka future where all Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace.”

Protestors gave speeches and sang songs in front of Thompson’s office. Attendees presented letters and pictures to the representative’s office as well.

“As both a member and leader of a faith community grounded in peace and non-violence, we join together to make our voices heard,” Kate Heinzel, lead pastor at University Mennonite Church, said in her speech. “We want a future where all Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace. Let me say that again — we look toward a future where all Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace.”

On Monday, March 25, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that runs from March 10 to April 9 in 2024. Fourteen members voted in favor and none against, though the United State abstained from the vote.

“Our government continues to send mixed messages regarding our support in ending this war,” Heinzel said. “We come today, asking our congressman, Glenn Thompson, to support increased humanitarian aid to Gaza, and continue our calls for a permanent ceasefire, a release of all the hostages and political prisoners, and an end to funding for weapons of war to Israel. We come bearing letters to Representative Thompson from local constituents, as well as bread, a universal symbol of sustenance and community.

“We come united in a call for peace. We come united in support of love — love for our neighbors who suffer, our neighbors who long for a safe place to live, work and raise families. Sending aid, not bombs, is the way of love.  We ask our elected officials to stand with us in this call to action.”

In a statement by Thompson released in response to the protest, the congressman said, “Israel has the right to defend itself, especially following the horrific violence perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on Oct 7. Simply turning the other cheek to fanatics whose mission is the destruction of Israel and the genocide of all Jews will only lead to greater losses of life in the future. Lest we forget, it was Hamas that broke the last ceasefire.”