A voice for justice- a voice for Gaza

Richard Falk recounts the life of Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, who died a few days ago, was a Catholic priest and former president of the UN General Assembly. The Nicaraguan diplomat was also a leading voice of conscience on Middle East peace.

He worked and lived among the poor and struggled for years against dictatorship and injustice in his country. Miguel took on that role, traditionally considered a largely ceremonial position leading a too-often marginalized organ of the UN system, and almost immediately emerged as an influential global voice who spoke powerfully in support of Palestinian rights under international law. He courageously opposed Israel’s brutal Cast Lead military operation, defying the always present geopolitical pressures mounted by Washington on behalf of Israel. In his defense of Palestine throughout those weeks of war, and in his later commitment to forcing the UN to take environmental justice seriously, he aimed to transform the General Assembly into a potent force for global justice.

Within hours of the first airstrikes against Gaza, Father Miguel condemned Israel’s actions as “wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that it illegally occupies.” He insisted it was time for the General Assembly “to take firm action if the United Nations does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.”As the airstrikes turned into a full-scale ground invasion, he called Israel’s war “a monstrosity.”

Father Miguel explained, Israel owed Gazans protection — along with “food, water, education, freedom of religion, and more.” Instead, “Gaza’s civilians find themselves locked inside a lethal war zone behind a wall surrounding their densely populated territory.” Under assault and hemmed in by an illegal Israeli blockade, “they have no means of escape.” He said: in such times “it becomes the responsibility of the international community as a whole, represented here in the United Nations, to provide that protection.”
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