Canadian Unitarian Universalists Demand Permanent Ceasefire in Israel and Gaza and Return of Hostages

Date: March 16, 2024

The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) and Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMOC) are calling on the State of Israel and on Hamas to agree to a permanent ceasefire and the immediate release of all hostages. We call on Canada’s government to stop supplying weapons and instead advocate for a lasting peace with self-determination, civil, religious, and political rights as a foundation.
Last November, the Canadian Unitarian Council joined organizations across Canada in calling for a ceasefire. As the humanitarian crisis escalates, many Unitarian Universalists throughout Canada have turned again to the CUC and UUMOC for guidance. They have asked for a further statement and a coordinated, national response to the crisis. To provide follow up on the previous ceasefire action, and because this situation is tragically ongoing and is a grave humanitarian crisis, we are issuing another public statement.
We uphold the decision of the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ordered the State of Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent killing, or causing serious bodily or mental harm, to Palestinians; to stop inflicting actions intended to bring about the destruction of Palestinians; to prevent and to punish the public incitement to commit genocide; and to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid in Gaza.
“We are a faith rooted in pluralism, interdependence, human dignity, love, and justice, says Rev. Samaya Oakley, president of UUMOC. “I believe that our Principles challenge us to speak out against Islamophobia, Antisemitism; to speak out against general ignorance about the Middle East; to speak out against the increased violence being directed to Palestinians, Muslims, Jews, and Arabs. As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, let us hold fast to our Principles for justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.”
“We need to be working together to do things differently,” says Kiersten Moore, President of the CUC Board of Trustees. “Violence, oppression, and retaliation do not make anyone safe – they only destroy people, communities, and ultimately, our planet. To quote Maya Angelou ‘no one of us can be free until everybody is free.’ I ask Canadian Unitarian Universalists to consider what it means to centre interconnectedness and human dignity, and to examine Canada’s role in conflicts abroad. How is Canada complicit in ongoing oppression or violence at home and abroad, and how can we help move from complicity to true reconciliation?”
This complex issue is not one on which all Unitarian Universalists hold the same opinion. “We can agree that war is horrible,” says Vyda Ng, Executive Director of the CUC. “We can agree that blocking access to humanitarian aid and committing acts of violence against civilians is abhorrent and unjustified. We call for civilian hostages and prisoners to be freed, and for humanitarian aid to continue. We join other faith organizations in calling on the Government of Canada to seek a peaceful resolution to the situation in Israel and Gaza, one that honours international human rights agreements and our commitments to international law and international conventions.”
In addition to calling for a ceasefire, the return of all hostages, and continued humanitarian aid, we urge Canadian Unitarian Universalists to write to their Members of Parliament. We also encourage you to support the efforts of faith-based, non-governmental, and/or humanitarian organizations working at the local level to bring peace, stability, and aid to Gaza and other regions impacted by war.
~ From the CUC’s National Voice Team: UU Ministers of Canada President, Rev. Samaya Oakley; CUC Board President, Kiersten Moore, and Executive Director, Vyda Ng.

The Canadian Unitarian Council / Conseil unitarien du Canada (CUC) is the national association of Unitarian Universalist congregations across Canada. The Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada (UUMoC) represents over 70 active ministers who serve congregations or work in the larger community.
We are a diverse religion bound by a common commitment to equity and justice. We covenant to a set of principles, which calls us to seek peace, liberty and compassion, to search for truth and meaning, and to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the democratic process.

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