A dancing blue figure, the Humanist Society Scotland logo graphic.

A statement from Humanist Society Scotland on the current situation in Palestine and Israel

October 18, 2023

The humanist community in Scotland is in mourning for the innocent lives lost in Israel and Palestine due to the renewal of hostilities in the region and their escalation to a level not seen for decades. We oppose all attempts to justify religiously motivated extremism, which aims to commit ethnic cleansing.

As humanists, we try our best to look for the common humanity that unites people on opposing sides of even the most bloody and bitter conflicts. We try to avoid, even by tacit omissions or sleight of hand, condoning the violence done to one group based on violence previously done to another, whatever the differences in scale. And we avoid discussing the justification of violence even in the context of struggles to bring about long-term humane outcomes.

We try. We are not always sure what to say in the face of the most intractable geopolitical problems because part of the humanist worldview involves letting go of the easy certainties and scapegoating of many faith-based worldviews and of political extremism.

We understand this is an issue that sets people at odds with other human beings and even with different parts of their own conscience. It is an issue that comes between families, friends, and loved ones, and whose repercussions of grief, fury, and bitterness ripple worldwide.

Bearing this in mind, we:

·     Condemn without qualification the atrocities carried out by Hamas in Israel.
·     Add a small voice to global calls to end the violence being done on a massive scale by the Israeli military to innocent civilians in Gaza. Innocent civilian casualties cannot be considered acceptable collateral damage in Israel’s military operations.
·     Express hope that a humane and compassionate long-term solution to hostilities in Israel and Palestine can be found, one that holds no truck with religiously motivated racism (including anti-Semitism) of any kind and does not see ethno-nationalism as a viable basis for a humane state.

Humanist Society Scotland, October 2023.

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