Mennonites protest in Waterloo

December 22, 2023 | News | Volume 27 Issue 26D
A.S. Compton | Editorial Assistant
Protesters at City Hall in Waterloo, Ontario call for a ceasefire in Gaza. [Photo by A.S. Compton]

On December 19, approximately 250 Mennonites, Palestinians and others gathered in Waterloo’s City Hall to call on Member of Parliament Bardish Chagger to publicly support an immediate and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza. The event was organized for the Mennonite Day of Action for a ceasefire, organized by Mennonite Action.

Members of Palestine Solidarity KW staged a “die in” protest representing those killed in Gaza, while the remaining protesters sang hymns of peace and listened to stories, prayers and poetry of local residents with connections to Palestine. 

The event was one of 41 coordinated protests led by Mennonites across Canada and the US. MP Chagger, a Liberal, did not meet with the protesters.

Protesters at City Hall in Waterloo, Ontario call for a ceasefire in Gaza. [Photo by A.S. Compton]

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Seems the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has ignited a special kind of outrage within the Mennonite community, many calling for "Direct Action." While it is laudable for Mennonites to protest the killing, the land theft, and the on-going genocide in Israel/Palestine, many of these same Mennonites are not protesting the genocide of land theft and land occupation of their ancestors and their own on-going occupation of First Nations lands such as the Haldimand Tract in Ontario or Treaty 1 lands in Manitoba, and the accompanying genocidal effect on First Nations peoples.

It is unclear to me how we as Mennonites can legitimately lobby for peace in Israel when we conveniently ignore our own injustices at home. We claim to be a peace church, and pray for God to effect justice and peace in Israel, based on a long held Mennonite tradition of being a "peace church." It is always more convenient to be outraged by the speck in someone else' eye, than to remove the beam from our own. I suspect God might not be listening at this point to Mennonite protests, prayers, and petitions for peace in the Middle East.

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