The violence in Israel and Palestine has entered its third week. Israeli troops have begun conducting raids inside Gaza, and the threat of a ground invasion looms larger. More than 6,700 Gazans have been killed, and the lives of millions of Palestinians and the hostages held by Hamas hang in the balance.
It is easy to become overwhelmed in such moments. Amid our profound sadness, our continued engagement is paramount. Our advocacy for peace is making a difference. So far, our network has sent nearly 60,000 letters to Congress, and our advocacy is creating space for a growing number of lawmakers to speak out for a ceasefire.
“A military solution has never been and never will be a solution,” FCNL’s Odeliya Matter reminded us during our Israel-Palestine briefing this week. “And I think the motto ‘war is not the answer’ is ringing stronger than ever.”
As people who seek a world free of war, we are called to respond to each of these crises. But what is increasingly clear is that it is not enough for us only to react to these horrors. Instead, we must shift to preventing violent conflict and atrocities before they take place.
This is why FCNL’s Advocacy Teams are working tirelessly to secure federal funding for peacebuilding and why dozens of us will lobby Congress to support robust funding for these programs in the FY2024 spending bills during FCNL’s Annual Meeting and Quaker Public Institute.
With a new speaker finally installed in the House, this work is accelerating rapidly. Funding the government past its Nov. 17 extended deadline is the most pressing item on Congress’s agenda. Lawmakers and their staff are making decisions right now that will shape the spending debate in the coming weeks.
We need a new way forward. By advocating to realign our nation’s spending priorities, we can begin the critical work of shifting from conflict response to conflict prevention.
Another Heartbreaking, Senseless Act of Gun Violence
Once again, our hearts are broken by yet another devastating act of gun violence—this time in Lewiston, ME. As we grieve and hold all of those impacted in the Light, we recognize the urgent need for a comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy that includes removing military weapons from our communities. In the face of continued inaction by Congress, we are pushing lawmakers to invest in community-based programs to interrupt cycles of violence.
Congress Weighs Compensation for Victims of Nuclear Weapons Testing
Congressional negotiators are expected to decide any day whether the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) will be extended and expanded in Congress’s annual military policy bill. This is a critical time to raise our voices to ensure all people impacted by nuclear weapons testing in the U.S. receive the compensation they deserve from the government that knowingly put them at risk.
Senate Votes Down Niger War Powers Resolution
A War Powers Resolution introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (KY) to remove U.S. forces from Niger was voted down 11-86 on Wednesday. Still, FCNL is encouraged that a bipartisan group of lawmakers is spotlighting the continuation of endless wars and raising concerns about the destabilizing consequences of militarized U.S. policy in Africa. As FCNL’s Heather Brandon-Smith told The Intercept, “We must change course from this failed militarized response and towards a more sustainable, rights-respecting approach to counterterrorism and national security.”
Judge Rules Georgia’s Discriminatory Voting Maps Must be Redrawn
A federal judge struck down Georgia’s voting maps and ordered lawmakers to redraw them, ruling that they violated the Voting Rights Act by denying Black voters fair representation. This is the latest in a series of legal challenges to state voting maps and a reminder of the need for Congress to protect ballot access across the country by passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 14).