Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Quakers for War


John Rees speaking at the Stop The War Coalition meeting on Monday of this week, at Friends Meeting House, London:
We do not require that people who join our demonstrations or are supporters of the Stop The War Coalition are supporters of the resistance in the Middle East, and nobody I’ve ever talked to in the Middle East in the resistance has ever thought this was a good idea for the very simple reason that if you want a hundred thousand, or a hundred and fifty thousand people on the streets of Britain, what you want is everybody who for whatever reason is opposed to the war. If they’re Quakers or pacifists like the people who  run this hall, you want them on that demonstration. If there are people who have very severe criticisms and would not support the resistance, you want them on that demonstration and that’s been our policy from the beginning.

But it has also been our policy that the resistance is a legitimate part of the movement. They are part of the movement in the Middle East, they are a central part of the movement in the Middle East and it’s not surprising really that if you’re under military occupation that one of the forms of resistance is a military resistance.
And he went on to compare the ‘resistance’ in the Middle East to the French Resistance in World War Two.

Leave aside for a moment that the French Resistance did not deliberately target random civilians, leave aside if you can that the French Resistance fought to restore democracy rather than overthrow it, leave aside that the French Resistance fought a genocidal dictatorship, rather than supporting one, leave these small details for a moment, and focus on this single point:

The policy of the Stop The War Coalition is that a military resistance is a legitimate part of the movement, that these military forces AT WAR are a central part of the movement. This is NOT a peace movement.

From the Quaker Peace Testimony of 1661:
All bloody principles and practices, we, as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world.
Full text here.

In supporting the Stop The War Coalition, the Quakers of Friends House have broken with the ideals of their founder George Fox.

Update: some debate at the quaker.org.uk forum.

Also, at Bartholomew’s Notes: Friends House and Islamic Extremists.

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