War Prevention Initiative Statement on the May 2021 Violence in Palestine and Israel

May 27, 2021

PORTLAND, OR – The renewed violent escalation in the conflict between Israel and Palestine painfully reminds us to challenge militarism as the underlying driving force for repeated and ongoing political violence. Viewing this conflict from a position of feminist curiosity, the War Prevention Initiative (WPI) refuses to take for granted the current social and political status quo and supports peace efforts that halt violence, center justice, and reaffirm the human rights and dignity of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.  

Applying a critical view of wars and violence to the Israeli-Palestinian context suggest the following:

1)          This conflict does not have a quick resolution and a long-term transformative peace process is critical to address suffering and trauma. Research shows that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict inflicts transgenerational trauma that inhibits current and future peace efforts. Long-term approaches to peacebuilding and reconciliation must address how collective memories of social traumas inform fear, hatred, othering, and oppression among Palestinians and Israeli Jews alike[1]. Long-term solutions must recognize the power asymmetries between the states of Israel and Palestine and address oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people, Israeli settler-colonialism, as well as Israel’s right to exist.

2)          The violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is disproportionally committed by the heavily militarized Israeli state against an oppressed and occupied Palestinian population. Nobody in the region should live under the fear of being hit by bombs or rockets. Violence, especially the disproportionate exercise and constant threat of violence by the Israeli state against Palestinians, undermines government level peace negotiations and is counterproductive to any prospect of constructive transformation of the long-term conflict. Violence by Palestinian groups against Israel undermines the many facets of Palestinian nonviolent resistance against the occupation

3)          Through its provision of military aid to the Israeli government, the United States government is complicit in the ongoing structural and direct physical violence against the Palestinian people. U.S. taxpayer money should not be used for military support but for diplomatic solutions and locally led, justice-centered peacebuilding approaches. In the long-term, the U.S. must move toward a Feminist Foreign Policy framework that  “defines its interactions with other states, as well as movements and other non-state actors, in a manner that prioritizes peace,  gender equality and environmental integrity; enshrines, promotes, and protects the human rights of all; seeks to disrupt colonial, racist, patriarchal and male-dominated power, structures; and allocates significant resources, including research, to achieve that vision[2].” Such a framework centers the lived experiences of marginalized communities and is anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and elevates the voices of the oppressed.

4)          Neither the use of military force by the Israeli government nor the launching of rockets by Hamas militants represent the Israeli Jews and Palestinian people respectively. WPI rejects the idea of homogenous conflicting parties wherein the most violent actors are representative of the beliefs of the entire population. Instead of listening to leaders who often benefit from the maintenance of fear, hatred, othering, and violence, we must listen to the voices and support those groups in the region who work for peaceful coexistence and justice. 

5)          Reflecting inward on overtly militarized policing in the United States, WPI supports efforts to redefine security away from militarization to cooperation and de-escalation of conflicts. There is a continuum between domestic militarized policing and U.S. government support for the state of Israel that translates into violence against Palestinian people by the Israeli police and military. At home and abroad, the alternative to militarized security is a new paradigm based on the lived experiences of those who are least powerful, most exposed to harm and remain under-represented in traditional national security discourse. The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn attention to the interlocking injustices of institutional violence and racism, which are relevant for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The U.S. government can demonstrate true leadership in embracing and enacting a new national security paradigm that is rooted in the human rights and dignity of non-dominant, oppressed, and/or marginalized people to achieve genuine security for all people.

WPI remains steadfast in our commitment to work for a world in which all people can co-exist peacefully, and where injustice, oppression, and occupation like that experienced by the Palestinian people is challenged nonviolently and vehemently.


The Team of the War Prevention Initiative



For further comment or questions, please contact Patrick Hiller, War Prevention Initiative’s Executive Director at patrick@jubitz.org.  

[1] Chaitin, Julia, & Steinberg, Shoshana. (2014). “I can Almost Remember it Now”: Between Personal and Collective Memories of Massive Social Trauma. Journal of Adult Development, 21(1), 30–42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-013-9176-4

[2] Thompson, L., Patel, G., Kripke, G. and O’Donnell, M. (2020). Toward a Feminist Foreign Policy in the United States. Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women.