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Jewish and Israeli opposition to Israel's Gaza slaughter (updated Jan. 25)


Israel's young conscientious objectors (shministim) tell why they refuse to serve in an army that occupies ``another people'', the Palestinians. From http://www.December18th.org.


Young Israeli `refusenik' soldiers and reservists protest the Gaza assault, January 8, 2009, Tel Aviv. From Social TV (http://www.tv.social.org.il/)

Click HERE for earlier statements by Israeli opponents of Israel's inhuman assault on Gaza.

Solidarity with refusers

By Adam Keller

Gush Shalom -- January 8, 2009 -- Courage to Refuse has resumed its activity after several years and asked everybody to join them in picketing the Ministry of Defence. Courage to Refuse was founded in 2002, by reservists such as paratrooper officer David Zonshein, sickened and disgusted by the things they had seen (and took part in) during the army's efforts to put down the second Intifada. At that time they had a considerable impact, and their call upon reservists to refuse serving the occupation worried the military authorities. But like other groups they were effectively derailed by Sharon's Gaza trick, which placed on the Israeli public a unilateral and woefully incomplete "Disengagement".

The beginning of the "Cast Lead" war in Gaza -– and specifically, the calling up of an increasing number of reservists, being massed at the Gaza Strip borders in preparation to be thrown in -- aroused Courage to Refuse back into action. Some of the activists themselves got call-up orders, and they got urgent calls from many others who were called up and were far from eager to comply. At least three reservists are known to have informed their officers of their outright refusal to go into Gaza, and many others have resorted to various means of "grey refusal" to avoid it.

For their part, the Courage to Refuse organisers drew up a new manifesto on which they are busily collecting the signatures of reservists, both those who were involved before and those were not (see below).
A call was issued for a demonstration outside the Ministry of Defence on January 8: "Once again we feel the need to call upon reservists and conscripts to refuse taking part in the brutal killing perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza. The terrible bombing of the UNRWA school in Jabalya Refugee Camp, in which Israeli forces killed more than forty Palestinian civilians in a single moment, increased our determination to act -– coming after hundreds of civilians killed earlier, including many women and children. A killing perpetrated under the pretext of security, under the Blue and White Flag, and in the name of every citizen of Israel. A killing which must not be allowed to continue!"

Members of other groups, such as ourselves of Gush Shalom, were welcomed to join in, but with a caution: "Without in any way detracting from the importance of earlier demonstrations against the war, in order to make an effective appeal to reservists we should use a bit different language than of the slogans used in these. To restrain our anger, however justified, and moderate our narrative. Not to call the Minister of Defence `A murderer' nor term the IDF `a terrorist organisation' (even when at times speaking in this way seems right) but focus on the pure moral call upon soldiers to preserve the 'purity' of their arms and refuse to take part in this madness."

We "radicals" who joined the January 8 action respected the organisers' wishes. The slogans prepared by Courage to Refuse included "Revenge is not security", "Refuse to take part in the in the campaign of bloodshed", "No to the killing of civilians –- in Gaza and Sderot", "Barak creates terror in Gaza", "Refuse to fight in Gaza" (this Hebrew slogan can also be translated as "Refuse to fight against Gaza"), "Refuse to destroy Gaza and Sderot", "The destruction of Gaza produces terror", "Courage to talk -- not to kill". Some of placards had the national Star of David inscribed beside the slogan –- which is far from the rule in other anti-war protests. Even so, the call upon soldiders to refuse orders made it very radical confrontation with the present warlike atmosphere prevailing in the Israeli media and political system.

What next? So far, the military authorities refrained from imprisoning any of the refusing reservists, knowing from the earlier confrontations that any imprisoned refuser would become a focus of solidarity actions from which the movement could grow and snowball. However, the Courage to Refuse organisers now contemplate a sharper action -– i.e., going southwards to the Gaza Strip border, where the army concentrated the already mobilised thousands of reservists who might any day be sent into Gaza, with the government bent on escalating the war in defiance of the Security Council cease-fire resolution. The military authorities might find it impossible to ignore and tacitly tolerate the presence of agitators busily "subverting the troops".

The Gaza Refusal Manifesto

We, soldiers and officers of the IDF
To whom the security and future are dear
Who understand that the attack in Gaza intensifies the conflict, will bring additional long years of missiles upon growing circles of the Israeli population, and brings terrible disasters upon the peoples in Israel and Palestine alike.
We understand that revenge is not security and that the IDF operation in Gaza perpetuates the conflict, and certainly does not help its solution.
In light of the above, we hereby declare that we will not take part in the campaign of destruction in Gaza.

Contact:
Noam Livneh +972-522-754528
David Zunshein +972-545-656760
Arik Diamant +972-522-754528
diamant.arik@gmail.com

* * *

See also `Why I refuse to fight in Gaza' (January 12, 2009) by Yitzchak Ben Mocha.

* * *

Israeli pilot refuses to target Palestinians

Press TV -- January 14, 2009 -- An Israeli Apache helicopter pilot is refusing to take part in the ongoing onslaught against the civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Captain Orr, who has flown dozens of combat missions over Gaza the past few weeks, said Tuesday that he decided to abort missions to avoid killing civilians after seeing children near his intended targets.

He also expressed sorrow for civilian casualties, the people who were caught up in the bombardment by him and his colleagues, saying that the vast majority of damage and casualties in Gaza were caused by flying attack helicopters and jet fighters.

Since the start of "Operation Cast Lead", Israeli forces have killed more than 1000 Palestinians and wounded over 4580 others -- most of whom are women and children.

Captain Orr made the remarks in an interview with Associated Press. He was also accompanied by a military minder in order not to disclose confidential information.

As the civilian casualties in Gaza continues to rise, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for an "immediate and durable ceasefire" in the region.

"I again urge both parties to stop now, to stop the fighting now, there is no time to lose," Ban said at the start of his Middle East tour aimed at brokering a truce between Hamas and Israel.

The call for ceasefire comes as Tel Aviv continues to attack residential areas across Gaza with unconventional weapons including White phosphorus bombs.

White phosphorus, classified as a 'chemical weapon' by the US intelligence, is an incendiary material that causes horrific burns, severe injuries or even death when it encounters human skin.

Absolutely not in their name, not in ours

By Michael Warschawski

January 18, 2009 -- Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Olmert -- don’t you dare show your faces at any memorial ceremony for the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto, Lublin, Vilna or Kishinev. And you too, leaders of Peace Now, for whom peace means a pacification of the Palestinian resistance by any means, including the destruction of a people. Whenever I will be there, I shall personally do my best to expel each of you from these events, for your very presence would be an immense sacrilege.

Not in their names

You have no right to speak in the name of the martyrs of our people. You are not Anne Frank of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp but Hans Frank, the German general who acted to starve and destroy the Jews of Poland.

You are not representing any continuity with the Warsaw Ghetto, because today the Warsaw Ghetto is right in front of you, targeted by your own tanks and artillery, and its name is Gaza. Gaza that you have decided to eliminate from the map, as General Frank intended to eliminate the Ghetto. But, unlike the ghettos of Poland and Belorussia, in which the Jews were left almost alone, Gaza will not be eliminated because millions of men and women from the four corners of our world  are building a powerful human shield carrying two words: never again!

Not in our name!

Together with tens of thousands of other Jews, from Canada to Great Britain, from Australia to Germany, we are warning you: don't dare to speak in our names, because we will run after you, even, if needed, to the hell of war-criminals, and stuff your words down your throat until you ask for forgiveness for having mixed us up with your crimes. We, and not you, are the children of Mala Zimetbaum and Marek Edelman, of Mordechai Anilevicz and Stephane Hessel, and we are conveying their message to humankind for custody in the hands of the Gaza resistance fighters: "We are fighting for our freedom and yours, for our pride and yours, for our human, social and national dignity and yours." (Appeal of the Ghetto to the world, Passover 1943)

But for you, the leaders of Israel, “freedom” is a dirty word. You have no pride and you do not understand the meaning of human dignity.

We are not “another Jewish voice”, but the sole Jewish voice able to speak in the names of the tortured saints of the Jewish people. Your voice is nothing other than the old bestial vociferations of the killers of our ancestors.

[Michael Warschawski is from the Alternative Information Center.]

A call from within

In support of the Palestinian human rights community's call for international action

January 8, 2009 -- As if the occupation was not enough, the brutal ongoing repression of the Palestinian population, the construction of settlements and the siege of Gaza -- now comes the bombardment of the civilian population: men, women, old folks and children. Hundreds of dead, hundreds of injured, overwhelmed hospitals, and the central medicine depot of Gaza bombed. The ship Dignity of the Free Gaza movement which brought emergency medical supplies and a number of physicians was also attacked. Israel has returned to openly committing war crimes, worse than what we have seen in a long time.

Israeli media do not expose their viewers to the horrors and to the voices of severe criticism of these crimes. The story told is uniform. Israeli dissidents are denounced as traitors. Public opinion including that of the Zionist left supports the Israeli policy uncritically and without reservation.

Israel's destructive criminal policy will not cease without a massive intervention by the international community. However, except for some rather weak official condemnation, the international community is reluctant to intervene. The United States openly supports the Israeli violence and Europe, although voicing some condemnation, is unwilling to seriously consider withdrawing the "gift" it handed Israel by upgrading its relations with the European Union.

In the past the world knew how to fight criminal policies. The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves: its trade relations are flourishing, academic and cultural cooperation continue and intensify with diplomatic support.

This international backing must stop. That is the only way to stop the insatiable Israeli violence.

We are calling on the world to stop Israeli violence and not allow the continuation of the brutal occupation.

We call on the world to condemn and not become an accomplice in Israel's crimes.

In light of the above, we call on the world to implement the call by Palestinian human rights organisations which urges:

• The UN Security Council to call an emergency session and adopt concrete measures, including the imposition of sanctions, in order to ensure Israel's fulfillment of its obligations under international humanitarian law.

• The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation under common Article 1 to ensure respect for the provisions of the Conventions, taking appropriate measures to compel Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular placing pivotal importance on the respect and protection of civilians from the effects of the hostilities.

• The High Contracting Parties to fulfil their legal obligation under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention.

• EU institutions and member states to make effective use of the European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (2005/C 327/04) to ensure Israel complies with international humanitarian law under paragraph 16 (b), (c) and (d) of these guidelines, including the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, as well as cessation of all upgrade dialogue with Israel.

Signed by 540 Israeli citizens (first list):

Avital Aboody, Sami Abu Shehadeh, Moshe Adler, Haim Adri, Gali Agnon, Bilha Aharoni, Hagit Aharoni, Saida Ahmed, Danny Aisner, Orna Akad, Aviv Aldema, Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, Joseph Algazy, Omer Allon, Dan Almagor, Orly Almi, Tali Almi, Tamar Almog, Udi Aloni, Yuli Aloni-Primor, Colman Altman, Janina Altman, Ahmad Amara, Eitan Amiel, Nitza Aminov, Gish Amit, Yossi Amitay, Naama Arbel, Tal Arbel, Rana Asali, Maisoon Assadi, Keren Assaf, Zohar Atai, Najla Atamnah, Rutie Atsmon, Michal Aviad, Hanna Aviram, Jasmin Avissar, Amira Bahat, Noam Bahat, Daniela Bak, Abeer Baker, Saleh Bakri, Rim Banna, Oshra Bar, Yoav Barak, Daphna Baram, Michal Bareket, Hila Bargiel, Ronny Bar-Gil, Yoram Bar-Haim, Ronnie Barkan, Osnat Bar-Or, Racheli Bar-or, Yossi Bartal, Raji Bathish, Dalit Baum, Shlomit Bauman, Esther Ben Chur, Hagit Ben Yaacov, Tal Ben Zvi, Yael Ben-Zvi, Avner Ben-Amos, Ronnen Ben-Arie, Ur Ben-Ari-Tishler, Ofra Ben-Artzi, Yotam Ben-David, Smadar Ben-Natan, Shmuel Ben Yitzchak, Avi Berg, Daniel Berger, Tamar Berger, Anat Biletzki, Itai Biran, Rotem Biran, Shany Birenboim, Rozeen Bisharat, Yafit Gamilah Biso, Liran Bitton, Simone Bitton, Yahaacov Bitton, Rani Bleier, Yempa Boleslavsky, Hagit Borer, Ido Bornstein, Irith Bouman, Haim Bresheeth, Aya Breuer, Shlomit Breuer, Dror Burstein, Smadar Bustan, Shai Carmeli-Pollak, Smadar Carmon, Zohar Chamberlain-Regev, Sami Shalom Chetrit, Chassia Chomsky-Porat, Arie Chupak, Isadora Cohen, Kfir Cohen, Matan Cohen, Nahoum Cohen, Raya Cohen, Ron Cohen, Stan Cohen, Yifat Cohen, Alex Cohn, Scandar Copti, Adi Dagan, Yael Dagan, Yasmeen Daher, Silan Dallal, Tamari Dallal, Leena Dallasheh, Eyal Danon, Uri Davis, Hilla Dayan, Relli De Vries, Maoz Degani, Ruti Divon, Diana Dolev, Yfat Doron, Ettie Dotan, Keren Dotan, Ronit Dovrat, Daniel Dukarevich, Arnon Dunetz, Maya Dunietz, Udi Edelman, Shai Efrati, Neta Efrony, Rani Einav, Asa Eitan, Danae Elon, Ruth El-Raz, Noam Enbar, Amalia Escriva, Anat Even, Gilad Evron, Ovadia Ezra, Basma Fahoum, Avner Faingulernt, Ghazi-Walid Falah, Naama Farjoun, Yvonne Fattal, Dror Feiler, Pnina Feiler, Micky Fischer, Sara Fischman, Nadav Franckovich, Ofer Frant, Ilil Friedman, Maya Galai, Dafna Ganani, Gefen Ganani, Yael Gazit, Yoram Gelman, Yakov Gilad, Amit Gilboa, Michal Ginach, Rachel Giora, Michal Givoni, Ednna Glukman, Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Bilha Golan, Neta Golan, Shayi Golan, Tsilli Goldenberg, Vardit Goldner, Tamar Goldschmidt, Lymor Goldstein, Dina Goor, Shelley Goral, Joel Gordon, Ester Gould, Inbal Gozes, Inbal Gozes-Sharvit, Erella Grassiani, Adar Grayevsky, Gill Green, David Greenberg, Ela Greenberg, Dani Grimblat, Lev Grinberg, Yosef Grodzinsky, Hilik Gurfinkel, Galia Gur-Zeev, Anat Guthmann, Amos Gvirtz, Maya Gzn-Zvi, Yoav Haas, Iman Habibi, Connie Hackbarth, Uri Hadar, Mirjam Hadar Meerschwam, Rayya Haddad, Osnat Hadid, Dalia Hager, Tami Hager, Hava Halevi, Yasmine Halevi, Jeff Halper, Yuval Halperin, Rula Hamdan-Atamneh, Rania Hamed, Rola Hamed, Anat Hammermann Schuldiner, Doron Hammermann-Schuldiner, Ben Handler, Tal Haran, Elad Harel, Nir Harel, Shuli Hartman, Lihi Hasson, Amir Havkin, Shira Havkin, Amani Hawari, Areen Hawari, Iris Hefets, Ada Heilbronn, Ayelet Heller, Sara Helman, Ben Hendler, Aref Herbawi, Tamara Herman, Avi Hershkovitz, Yael Hersonski, Galit Hess, Hannan Hever, Ala Hlehel, Gil Hochberg, Tikva Honig-Parnass, Tikva Honig-Parnass, Inbar Horesh, Veronique Inbar, Rachel Leah Jones, Noga Kadaman, Ari Kahana, Dafna Kaminer, Aya Kaniuk, Ruti Kantor, Liad Kantorowicz, Dalia Karpel, Rabia Kassim, Amira Katz, Shai Katz, Uri Katz, Giora Katzin, Dror Kaufman, Adam Keller, Yehudit Keshet, Lana Khaskia, Efraim Kidron, Alisa Klein, Sylvia Klingberg, Yana Knopova, Ofra Koffman, Yael Korin, Alina Korn, Rinat Kotler, Meira Kowalsky, Noa Kram, Miki Kratsman, Rotem Kuehnberg, Assia Ladizhinskaya, Michal Lahav, Roni Lahav, Idan Landau, Yitzhak Laor, Orna Lavi, Ruti Lavi, Shaheen Lavie-Rouse, Yigal Laviv, Tamar Lehahn, Ronen Leibman, Miki Lentin, Ronit Lentin, Yael Lerer, Chava Lerman, Noa Lerner, Yair Lev, Yudith Levin, Abigail Levine, Eyal Levinson, Dana Levy, Inbal Lily-Koliner, Moran Livnat, Omri Livne, Amir Locker-Biletzki, Yael Locker-Biletzki, Yossi Loss, Yael Lotan, Guy Lougashi, Irit Lourie, Orly Lubin, Joseph Lubovsky, Aim Deuelle Luski, Naomi Lyth, Moshe Machover, Aryeh Magal, Liz Magnes, Noa Man, Ya'acov Manor, Arabiya Mansour, Roi Maor, Adi Maoz, Eilat Maoz, Yossi Marchaim, Alon Marcus, Esti Marpet, Ruchama Marton, Nur Masalha, Anat Matar, Doron Matar, Haggai Matar, Oren Matar, Samy Matar, Rela Mazali, Naama Meishar, Rachel Meketon, Yitzhak Y. Melamed, Remy Mendelzweig, Racheli Merhav, Yael Meron, Juliano Merr-Khamis, Esti Micenmacher, Maya Michaeli, Avraham Milgrom, Jeremy Milgrom, Elisheva Milikowski, Erez Miller, Katya Miller, Limor Mintz-Manor, Ariel Mioduser, Dror Mishani, Eedo Mizrahi, Avi Mograbi, Liron Mor, Magi Mor, Susan Mordechay, Susanne Moses, Haidi Motola, Ahuva Mu'alem, Ben Tzion Munitz, Norma Musih, Dorit Naaman, Michal Naaman, Gil Naamati, Haneen Naamnih, Naama Nagar, Dorothy Naor, Regev Nathansohn, Shelly Nativ, Salman Natour, Judd Ne'eman, Dana Negev, Smadar Nehab, Shlomit Lola Nehama, Ofer Neiman, David Nir, Eyal Nir, Tali Nir, Alex Nissen, Tal Nitzan, Joshua Nouriel, Yasmine Novak, Nira Nuriely, David Ofek, Tal Omer, Adi Ophir, Anat Or, Yael Oren Kahn, Norah Orlow, Gal Oron, Akiva Orr, Dorit Ortal, Noam Paiola, Il'il Paz-el, Michal Peer, Miko Peled, Nirit Peled, Nurit Peled-elhanan, Leiser Peles, Orna Pelleg, Tamar Pelleg-Sryck, Sigal Perelman, Amit Perelson, Nadav Pertzelan, Erez Pery, Tom Pessah, Dani Peter, Shira Pinhas, Yossi Pollak, Gil Porat, Dror Post, Eyal Pundik, Yisrael Puterman, Ilya Ram, Nery Ramati, Amit Ramon, Avi Raz, Ayala Raz, Hili Razinsky, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, David Reeb, Hadas Refaeli, Shlomo Regev, Dimi Reider, Noa Reshef, Amit Ron, Roee Rosen, Illit Rosenblum, Maya Rosenfeld, Danny Rosin, Yehoshua Rosin, Ilana Rossoff, Ilani Rotem, Natalie Rothman, Areej Sabbagh, Ahmad Sa'di, Sidki Sadik, Walid Sadik, Hannah Safran, Hiba Salah, Sana Salame-Daqa, Galit Saporta, Sima Sason, Sagi Schaefer, Tali Schaefer, Oded Schechter, Agur Schiff, Nava Schreiber, Idit Schwartz, Michal Schwartz, Noa Schwartz, Eran Segal, Keren Segal, Irit Segoli, Irit Sela, Dan Seltzer, Yael Serry, Shaul Setter, Meir Shabat, Aharon Shabtai, Michal Shabtay, Itamar Shachar, Erella Shadmi, Ilan Shalif, Hanna Shammas, Ayala Shani, Uri Shani, Arik Shapira, Bat-Sheva Shapira, Yonatan Shapira, Omer Sharir, Yael Shavit, Noa Shay, Fadi Shbita, Adi Shechter, Oz Shelach, Adi Shelesnyak, Mati Shemoelof, Ehud Shem-Tov, Yehouda Shenhav, Nufar Shimony, Khen Shish, Hagith Shlonsky, Tom Shoval, Sivan Shtang, Tal Shuval, Ivy Sichel, Ayman Sikseck, Shelly Silver, Inbal Sinai, Eyal Sivan, Ora Slonim, Kobi Snitz, Maja Solomon, Gideon Spiro, Neta Stahl, Talila Stan, Michal Stoler, Ali Suliman, Dored Suliman, Marcelo Svirsky, Yousef Sweid, Ula Tabari, Yael Tal, Lana Tatour, Doron Tavory, Ruth Tenne, Idan Toledano, Eran Torbiner, Osnat Trabelsi, Lily Traubmann, Naama Tsal, Lea Tsemel, Ruth Tsoffar, Ehud Uziel, Ivan Vanney, Sahar Vardi, Roman Vater, Ruth Victor, Yaeli Vishnizki-Levi, Roey Vollman, Roy Wagner, Michael Warschawski, Michal Warshavsky, Ruthy Weil, Sharon Weill, Shirly Weill, Elian Weizman, Eyal Weizman, Einat Weizman Diamond, Elana Wesley, Etty Wieseltier, Yossi Wolfson, Oded Wolkstein, Ayelet Yaari, Smadar Yaaron, Roni Yaddor, Sarah Yafai, Galia Yahav, Sergio Yahni, Niza Yanay, Amnon Yaron, Tamar Yaron, Mahmoud Yazbak, Oren Yiftachel, Sarit Yitzhak, Sharon Zack, Uri Zackhem, Jamal Zahalka, Sawsan Zaher, Adva Zakai, Edna Zaretsky, Beate Zilversmidt, Amal Zoabi, Haneen Zoubi, Himmat Zu'bi, Mati Zuckerman

Contact: gazabfw@gmail.com

[From the Free Gaza Movement website.]

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel: Protest, solidarity and aid convoy for the residents of Gaza

January 13, 2009 -- As medical professionals responsible for the health and safety of all people, Jews and Arabs, we cannot remain silent in the face of the horrors occurring before our eyes:

On Friday, January 16, we will set out together -- members, volunteers and supporters of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel -- to accompany a convoy of food and medical supplies for the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Together, Arabs and Jews, we will express solidarity with the residents of Gaza and the south of Israel, and call:

  • Stop the killing of innocent people
  • Stop attacking medical teams
  • Stop preventing medical care from the wounded
  • Stop shooting at aid convoys

Together we will call for an immediate ceasefire and for a political solution to end the occupation.
Bus transportation will be organised. Upon reaching the south, we will accompany the supplies vehicle on foot up to a pre-arranged point near to the Gaza Strip. There we will hold a quiet rally, after which the supplies vehicle will continue to the Crossing.

Black clothes are recommended. Medical personnel may wear white coats. Please bring water and ID/passports.

A bus will leave Taybeh from the gas station at the northern entrance to the town at 9am.

A bus/buses will leave Tel Aviv from Arlozorov train station at 10am.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel contact person: Miri, 0546995199.

Rabbinical statement on Gaza (USA)

January 23, 2009 -- As American rabbis and rabbinical students from various parts of the Jewish world, we express our sorrow and outrage over Israel's latest military operation in Gaza. Judaism teaches that all human beings are created in the image of God and that one who takes a single life destroys an entire world. We condemn the firing of missiles from Gaza that forced so many Israelis to live in fear and we mourn the loss of life that resulted from these attacks. However, we are devastated by Israel's disproportionate use of force, killing more than 1,300 people, including over 450 children. In the wake of such overwhelming civilian carnage, we can only ask, in the words of the Talmud, "How do we know that our blood is redder than the blood of our fellow?"

Jewish tradition also teaches that "when an arrow leaves the hand of a warrior he cannot take it back." From this we learn that violence unleashes a myriad of consequences that we cannot control or reverse. We cannot begin to fathom the depths of trauma this action has caused for those living in Gaza and the grief for scores of individuals, families and loved ones around the world. Moreover we can only imagine the growing fury it has inspired in Gazans, Palestinians and the greater Arab world and the serious damage it has inflicted upon prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

In the wake of the recent cease-fire the task before the new American administration is all the more daunting - and all the more critical. We urge our new president to turn back the policies of previous administrations - policies which have given Israel a blank check to take numerous measures that we believe are counter to the cause of peace, including the expropriation of Palestinian lands, destruction of Palestinians homes and businesses and the widespread building of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, to name but a few. We sincerely hope the Obama administration will find the courage to insist that the Israeli government end these actions in the strongest terms possible.

As Jewish spiritual leaders, we believe the pursuit of peace and justice to be our most sacrosanct value. We reject the vision of this conflict as an "Us vs. Them" zero sum game. We urge all who seek an end to this tragic conflict to commit themselves to peace, reconciliation and restorative justice. We call for a political solution that ends the occupation, addresses the needs of Palestinian refugees and constructs a positive future by and for Israelis and Palestinians in the holy land.

Signatories:
1.    Rabbi Rebecca Alpert (Philadelphia, PA)
2.    Rabbi Joshua Boettiger (Bennington, VT)
3.    Rabbi Vanessa Grawjer Boettiger (Bennington, VT)
4.    Rabbi David Brusin (Milwaukee, WI)
5.    Cantor Michael Davis (Chicago, IL)
6.    Rabbi Michael Feinberg (New York, NY)
7.    Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer (Claremont/Upland, CA)
8.    Rabbi Roy Furman (Chicago, IL)
9.    Rabbi Everett Gendler (Great Barrington, MA)
10.    Rabbi Shai Gluskin (Philadelphia, PA)
11.    Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb (Berkley, CA)
12.    Rabbi Julie Greenberg (Philadelphia, PA)
13.    Rabbinical Student Jarah Greenfield (Philadelphia, PA)
14.    Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herman (Philadelphia, PA)
15.    Rabbi James Greene (Salem, OR)
16.    Rabbi Linda Holtzman (Philadelphia PA)
17.    Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer (Philadelphia, PA)
18.    Rabbi Elliot Kukla (San Francisco, CA)
19.    Rabbi Sarra Lev (Jerusalem, Israel)
20.    Rabbi Anna Boswell-Levy (Newtown, PA)
21.    Rabbi Rebecca Lillian (Chicago, IL)
22.    Rabbi Ellen Lippmann (Brooklyn, NY)
23.    Rabbi Katie Mizrahi (San Francisco, CA)
24.    Rabbinical Student Devra Noily (Philadelphia, PA)
25.    Rabbi Brant Rosen (Evanston, IL)
26.    Rabbi David Shneyer (Washington DC)
27.    Rabbi Ira Stone (Philadelphia, PA)
28.    Rabbi Brian Walt (West Tisbury, MA)
29.    Rabbi Melissa Weintraub (Philadelphia, PA)
30.    Rabbinical Student Alissa Wise (Brooklyn, NY)
31.    Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman (Madison, WI)

From http://www.rabbis-speak-out.net/

British MP: `My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza'

By Liam Macuaid

January 15, 2009 -- This snippet is taken from MRzine. Gerald Kaufman is on the rightwing of the British Labour Party and it's so exceptionally rare for him to say much that the readers of this site would agree with that it’s worth posting.

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Labour): In congratulating my right hon. Friend [David Miliband] on steering resolution 1860 through the United Nations Security Council, may I ask him what the international reaction would be if Hamas had slaughtered nearly 900 Israelis and subjected nearly 1.5 million Israelis to degradation and deprivation?  Is it not an incontrovertible fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass-murderers and war criminals — [Interruption.]  Yes. And they bring shame on the Jewish people whose star of David they use as a flag in Gaza, but whose ethos and morals go completely against what this Israeli Government are doing.

The video can be seen here. It's an astonishingly powerful and personal speech.

This is the full text of Kaufman's speech to the British House of Commons on January 15, 2009:

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): I was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine.

I first went to Israel in 1961 and I have been there since more times than I can count. I had family in Israel and have friends in Israel. One of them fought in the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 and was wounded in two of them. The tie clip that I am wearing is made from a campaign decoration awarded to him, which he presented to me.

I have known most of the Prime Ministers of Israel, starting with the founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Golda Meir was my friend, as was Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister, who, as a general, won the Negev for Israel in the 1948 war of independence.

My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.

My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.

On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians—the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that “500 of them were militants.”

That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.

The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserts that her Government will have no dealings with Hamas, because they are terrorists. Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, who organised the blowing-up of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews.

Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism. Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby-trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern gang, massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Today, the current Israeli Government indicate that they would be willing, in circumstances acceptable to them, to negotiate with the Palestinian President Abbas of Fatah. It is too late for that. They could have negotiated with Fatah’s previous leader, Yasser Arafat, who was a friend of mine. Instead, they besieged him in a bunker in Ramallah, where I visited him. Because of the failings of Fatah since Arafat’s death, Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006. Hamas is a deeply nasty organisation, but it was democratically elected, and it is the only game in town. The boycotting of Hamas, including by our Government, has been a culpable error, from which dreadful consequences have followed.

The great Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, with whom I campaigned for peace on many platforms, said: “You make peace by talking to your enemies.”

However many Palestinians the Israelis murder in Gaza, they cannot solve this existential problem by military means. Whenever and however the fighting ends, there will still be 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and 2.5 million more on the west bank. They are treated like dirt by the Israelis, with hundreds of road blocks and with the ghastly denizens of the illegal Jewish settlements harassing them as well. The time will come, not so long from now, when they will outnumber the Jewish population in Israel.

It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.

Jews in Solidarity with Palestine: Stop the US-backed genocidal Israeli war on Gaza

  • Nearly a thousand women, men and children killed by US-made Israeli bombs
  • Thousands more wounded
  • 1.5 million under siege for the past 18 months, without food, water, medicine, fuel
  • Collective punishment for resisting occupation; emergency aid blocked
  • Massive violations of international law
  • Apartheid wall
  • Racist oppression
  • Homes and land stolen
  • Forced into refugee camps
  • 60 years of occupation, from the river to the sea

We say enough!

We are Jews in solidarity with Palestine

No to Israel! Yes to self-determination, democracy & freedom!

Stop US Funding of the War on Palestine!

The whole world is horrified by the murderous Israeli assault against the suffering people of Gaza. From Seoul to Caracas, from Johannesburg to Amman to London, millions of people have poured into the streets to demand an end to this genocidal campaign, which is funded by the United States and carried out with US-supplied weaponry.

There have also been protests in US cities. While most of those marching are Arab-Americans, many African Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and whites have joined in. Many Jewish people, outraged at Israel's war crimes and anguished that they are carried out in their name, are speaking out.

It's good that Jewish people of conscience are disassociating themselves from the Gaza aggression. But it's not enough. This atrocity is only the latest, and it's no aberration. It reflects the program of the Israeli settler state -- which is based on the theft of Palestine, the ouster and suppression of the Palestinian people, and the racist ideology of Zionism -- and of its primary sponsor, the Pentagon and US business establishment.
It's not enough to oppose the bombing. It's not enough to demand an end to the 41-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. We stand in complete and unconditional support for the self-determination of the Palestinian people. This includes the right to return to Palestine, from the river to the sea, and the right to democratically determine the form and the future of the Palestinian state.

Nothing less will undo the historic crime of al Nakba -- the 1948 catastrophe of the establishment of the state of Israel based on the ouster of the Palestinian people from their homeland, oppression and inequality.
That crime betrayed the whole history of the Jewish people. From helping topple the czar in Russia and build the unions in New York, to resisting pogroms and fighting to the last breath in the Warsaw Ghetto, opposition to persecution, oppression and racism was central to the Jewish heritage.

We call on Jewish people around the world, including those inside Israel, to join us in reclaiming that heritage. Reject racism and genocide. Reject the Zionist state, the very concept of which is racist to the core. Take the hand of our Palestinian sisters and brothers. Defend their righteous struggle to restore their stolen land and build a democratic Palestine.

This is not an impossible quest. Remember how mighty the settler state in South Africa seemed, only a little over two decades ago? The racist regime there was buttressed by US -- and Israeli -- support. But it was battered by the unstoppable political and military struggle against apartheid, which gained worldwide support. Apartheid fell, replaced by a new state based on legal equality.

A future of equality for all is possible in Palestine too. Until this future is won, the Palestinian struggle will go on. We stand with that struggle.

Sign on to this statement at http://www.iacenter.org/palestine/jewsinsolidarity/#signon

Initial list of signers:

Toni Arenstein, NY
Dave Axelrod, NJ
Tibby Brooks, NY
Ellen Catalinotto, NY
Sara Catalinotto, NY
Hillel Cohen, Doctor of Public Health, NY
Naomi Cohen, NY
Heather Cottin, Long Island Troops Out Now Coalition, NY
Barbara Dorritie, Teacher, MA
Ellie Dorritie, ret., APWU*, WNY
Rachel Duell, prof., NJ
K. E. Durkin, NY
Sharon Eolis, nurse-practitioner, ret., NY
Shelley Ettinger, NY
Leslie Feinberg, Co-founder, Rainbow Flags for Mumia, NY
Irving Fierstein, artist, NY
Laurie Fierstein, NY
Michele Finkelman, AFSCME L. 215*, NY
Sherry Finkelman, UFT L. 2*, NY
Julie Fry, V-P., Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys*, NY
Gavrielle Gemma, NJ
Michael Gimbel, del., NYC Central Labor Council*
Carl Glenn, NJ
Jerome Goldberg, attorney. MI
Marsha Goldberg, NY
Fred Goldstein. NY
Lila Goldstein, Students for Justice for Palestine*, MA
Judy Greenspan, CA
Sue Harris, Ph.D., NY
Joyce Kanowitz, NY
Stevan Kirschbaum, chair, Grievance Comm., USW L. 8751*, MA
Tova Klein, CA
Michael Kramer, I.D.F. veteran, Veterans for Peace, Chap. 021*, NJ
Donna Lazarus, UFT*, NJ
Milt Neidenberg, ret., Teamsters L. 840*, NJ
Frank Neisser, CWA L. 1701, ret.*, MA
Cornelia Rakow, NY
Arthur Rosen, NY
Anita Rosenblithe, AFT*, NY
Malcolm Sacks, Montreal
William Sacks, attorney, NY
Karina Mellos-Schechter. NY
Dave Schechter, NY
Susan Schnur, Transit Union L. 268*, OH
J.R. Singer, Ph.D., NY
David Sole, Pres., UAW L. 2334*, MI
Al Strasburger, NJ
Paul Teitelbaum, International Action Center, AZ
Jill White, EdD, IL
Eddie Yood, NY


*For purposes of identification only.

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network: We stand with the majority. We will not be silent on Gaza.

We write with grief and rage as we watch the horrifying Israeli air and ground attacks on Gaza. As Jews committed to ending Zionism, the founding ideology of Israel, and all forms of colonialism, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who continue to struggle in the face of these attacks, much as they have against more than 60 years of ethnic cleansing and racism. As Joseph Massad recently wrote, Gaza is in uprising against genocide, and is receiving today the same indifference from the capitals of the West that the rebels in the Warsaw Ghetto received in 1943.

We stand with the hundreds of thousands who have taken the streets in solidarity with Gaza¹s resistance.

We stand with all those who struggle against racism, dispossession and genocide.

We stand with the majority.  We will not be silent on Gaza.

We reject Israel's pretence to act in response to rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas. Israel broke the ceasefire on November 4, 2008, while world attention was focused on US elections.

What the Israeli government calls ``security'' is fundamentally opposed to the real safety of all people living in the region. Residents of Sderot and other towns bordering Gaza have begged the government of Israel to maintain the ceasefire and accused it of ``wasting that period of calm, instead of using it to advance understanding and begin negotiations''. With United States, European Union, and Egyptian collusion, Israel imposed a siege and blockade for over two years, intentionally preventing its economic recovery, degrading its civilian infrastructure, attempting to dismantle self-governance, and preventing travel and obstructing humanitarian aid.

That siege, which was and continues to be a gross violation of human rights and a crime against humanity, led directly to the present escalation. As of today, Israeli forces have killed over 700 people and injured thousands. Israel has bombed mosques, universities, police headquarters, roads, office buildings, and residential neighbourhoods and schools, causing indescribable and horrible destruction. This isn¹t defence.  This isn¹t a war between two sides. This is terrorism. This is genocide.

We stand with the majority. We will not be silent on Gaza.

As Jews, we have an additional responsibility to speak and to act against these despicable acts, because we are heirs to the victims of a genocide, because Israel is claiming to ``defend'' us through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine with the ultimate goal of erasing the Palestinian people, and also because of the role played by the Jewish organisations in the United States and the West in justifying, perpetrating and escalating Israeli state terrorism against Palestinians.

We recall that the violence in Gaza today is the inevitable outcome -- the latest link in a chain of terror -- that results from an ideology based on the dispossession of the indigenous people of Palestine in favour of European Jews. Just as the ideology of White racism was the backbone of apartheid in South Africa, so the ideology of Zionism explains the history of violence in Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of 1948, the occupation of the West bank and Gaza in 1967, and the many massacres that Israel perpetrated periodically since 1948 to the present one in Gaza. The maintenance of the Israeli state as a state founded on and perpetuating Jewish privilege requires the denial and attempted annihilation of the Palestinian people.

We recall that unless this ideology is delegitimised and defeated, the violence in the Middle East will continue to escalate until either Palestinian or Jewish existence in the area ends, and possibly both. Racism and colonial domination will never be the basis for peace.

We stand with the majority. We will not be silent on Gaza.

We insist on an immediate end to Israel¹s assault, a complete withdrawal of all Israeli forces, a complete and unconditional end to the siege, and the restoration and extension of the ceasefire. We insist on the establishment of a special international tribunal for investigating the crimes of the Israeli leadership of this siege.

We affirm the urgent need for Jewish resistance to Zionism and stand committed to the extrication of Jewish history, politics, community, and culture from the grip of Zionism.

We situate our work in a long legacy of Jewish people throughout history who have stood in solidarity with others in common struggles against all forms of racism, empire building, and repression. As a growing sector of the Palestine solidarity movement, we call upon all Jews of conscience to take a strong stand against the current escalation of violence, as well as the murderous ground upon which Zionist ideology and the Israeli state has been constructed.

We call on Jews to put an end to complicity, to break the silence, and to confront the fallacy of a Zionist consensus. We call on anti-Zionist Jews around the world to organise in escalation against the massacres on Gaza, and to continue to support Palestinian resistance through campaigns of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and through actions that target their own governments' financial and political support for Israel.

We stand with the majority. We will not be silent on Gaza.

WE call on you to JOIN US in continued ACTION!

Mobilise creative actions to disrupt and confront pro-Israel events,  propaganda and businesses. Zionists and their supporters should not have their events, propaganda or business contributions in support of Israel go without confrontation. Creative actions are those which use creative tactics, visuals and art to convey a message about the reason for the disruption such as die-ins, projections of images on the outside of Zionist organizations, public art displays, street theatre, etc.

Targets may include Zionist organizations that have been mobilising a lot of support for this attack, events to fundraise for the siege on  Gaza, or billboards or poster campaigns to justify Israeli violence.

Other ways to take action

  • Join or organise emergency protests and direct actions in partnership with Palestine solidarity and social justice organisations in your area.
  • Donate money for Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) cargo of medical supplies and their delivery. IJAN is partnering with MECA in collecting funds and organising pressure to allow over 5 tons of medical supplies into Gaza through the Rafah border with Egypt. The current conditions in Gaza medical facilities are dire. Please DONATE to MECA now!  In the next week IJAN will send an update out about the shipment, please be prepared to organise any necessary pressure in response to this update.
  • Contact government officials and call on them to act by denouncing the attacks and demanding an immediate cease-fire.
  • Flood Israeli embassies and consulates with letters and calls decrying the attacks. Find contact info for Israeli embassies around the world.
  • Continue circulating the petition in support of UN General Assembly President Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann who has spoken out to condemn Israeli "Apartheid" and call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.  He has received death threats for his statement.
  • Call to Jewish students: Efforts are underway to make visible and support the activism of Jewish students who condemn Israel's actions in Gaza and who support the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.
  • Join the "Jewish Students Condemn Israel, Support BDS Campus Campaigns!" Facebook cause. Email students@ijsn.net to be added to the contact list for when IJAN student campaigns are launched and send reports for the website about Jewish student participation in Gaza solidarity actions.

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) is a growing international network of Jews whose Jewish identities are not based on Zionism but on a plurality of histories and experiences. We share a commitment to participation in the legacy of struggles against colonisation and imperialism. As such, we struggle against Zionism and its manifestation in the State of Israel¹s historic and ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and the confiscation of their land.
ijan@ijsn.net http://www.ijsn.net

Brian Klug: Not in my name

By Brian Klug

Guardian, January 9, 2009 -- In any conflict between peoples, there is a time for balancing the books, for placing facts neatly in the debit and credit columns, for issuing measured statements about the rights and wrongs on both sides. But not in the midst of one-sided carnage. The only decent thing to feel at the present time is outrage. The only thing for decent people to do right now is to condemn, without reserve or qualification, the brutal campaign that the Israeli military is waging against the population of Gaza. Every if and but derogates from decency.

Earlier this week, my synagogue sent its members an email containing details of two rallies in support of Israel "which we would urge you to support". No ifs and buts here, just solid support for the perpetrator in the midst of the horror it is perpetrating. Is it possible to go further in the opposite direction to decency?

Attached was a flyer for a "Mass Rally in Support of Israel" organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, with "the support of the major organisations of UK Jewry", to be held in London this weekend. The flyer proclaims: "End Hamas terror!" No ifs and buts here either. No hint at the unspeakable state terror being unleashed, day after day, by the Israeli military. It defies belief.

So, let me place on record the following fact: the board does not speak for all British Jews and certainly not for this one. Nor does the so-called Leadership Council, nor any of the organisations associated with this misbegotten event. None of them represents me or the Judaism that I cherish and which leads me to say as follows: I condemn utterly the military offensive by the government of Israel against the people of Gaza. The loss of any human life, on whatever side of this conflict, is a terrible thing. At this juncture, though, my heart is with the Palestinians on the ground in the midst of their misery. And I extend my hand to those Israelis who are speaking out against their own government.

[Brian Klug is a founder of the UK-based Independent Jewish Voices.]

American Jews for a Just Peace: Open letter to Israeli soldiers

Introduction

If you are Jewish, please sign the following statement, which we hope to be able to publish soon in Israeli newspapers. We encourage organisations to sign by sending us an email to campaigns@ajjp.org. Sign at http://www.ajjp.org/campaigns/signStatement.php?cid=15&sort=country

Jews call on Israeli soldiers to stop war crimes

We Jews in the international community call upon Israeli soldiers to raise the Black Flag of Illegality over the operations against the people of Gaza.

We refuse to remain silent while Israeli leaders force Israeli soldiers to commit war crimes: crimes against humanity for which they will one day be called to account. Israeli soldiers of conscience can, and must, stop this dangerous, illegal, and immoral war.

This criminal activity does nothing to advance the health and welfare of Jews. Rather, from Sderot to Sydney, from Ashkelon to Amsterdam, we will all benefit when there is justice for Palestinians.

Therefore, we call on you to use all measures possible to stop these atrocities against the Palestinian people. Flagrantly illegal orders must not simply be disobeyed, but actively and effectively opposed.

We members of the international Jewish community call on you, the Israeli soldiers of conscience, to halt the Israeli war machine, which only you can, and must, do.

Organisational sponsor

American Jews for a Just Peace, united States
European Jews for a Just Peace, Europe
ICAHD-USA, United States
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Israel
Italian Network of Jews against the Occupation (Rete-ECO), Italy
Jewish Voice for Peace, United States
Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, United States
Jewish Women for Justice in Israel/Palestine (Boston, MA), United States
Jews Against the Occupation (Central NJ), United States
Jews Against the Occupation - NYC, United States
Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Sweden
Jews for Justice for Palestine, Britain
Los Angeles Jews For Peace, United States
Not In My Name - SA, South Africa
People of Faith CT, United States
Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, United States
Tikkun Community Chicago, United States
Tucson Women in Black, United States
Visions of Peace with Justice in Israel/Palestine, United States
Women in Black Union Square NYC, United States

Letter by prominent British Jews on Israel's war on Gaza

The Guardian, Saturday, January 10, 2009

We the undersigned are all of Jewish origin. When we see the dead and bloodied bodies of young children, the cutting off of water, electricity and food, we are reminded of the siege of the Warsaw Ghetto. When Dov Weisglass, an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, talked of putting Gazans "on a diet" and the deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, talked about the Palestinians experiencing "a bigger shoah"
(holocaust), this reminds us of Governor General Hans Frank in Nazi-occupied Poland, who spoke of "death by hunger".

The real reason for the attack on Gaza is that Israel is only willing to deal with Palestinian quislings. The main crime of Hamas is not terrorism but its refusal to accept becoming a pawn in the hands of the Israeli occupation regime in Palestine.

The decision last month by the EU council to upgrade relations with Israel, without any specific conditions on human rights, has encouraged further Israeli aggression. The time for appeasing Israel is long past. As a first step, Britain must withdraw the British ambassador to Israel and, as with apartheid South Africa, embark on a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Ben Birnberg, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Deborah Fink, Bella Freud, Tony Greenstein, Abe Hayeem, Prof Adah Kay, Yehudit Keshet, Dr Les Levidow, Prof Yosefa Loshitzky, Prof Moshe Machover, Miriam Margolyes, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, Seymour Alexander, Martin Birnstingl, Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Ruth Clark, Judith Cravitz, Mike Cushman, Angela Dale, Merav Devere, Greg Dropkin, Angela Eden, Sarah Ferner, Alf Filer, Mark Findlay, Sylvia Finzi, Bella Freud, Tessa van Gelderen, Claire Glasman, Ruth Hall, Adrian Hart, Alain Hertzmann, Abe Hayeem, Rosamene Hayeem, Anna Hellmann, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Yael Kahn, Michael Kalmanovitz, Ros Kane, Prof. Adah Kay, Yehudit Keshet, Mark Krantz, Bernice Laschinger, Pam Laurance, Beryl Maizels, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Marks, Martine Miel, Diana Neslen, O Neumann, Susan Pashkoff, Hon. Juliet Peston, Renate Prince, Roland Rance, Sheila Robin, Ossi Ron, Manfred Ropschitz, John Rose, Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, Leon Rosselson, Michael Sackin, Ian Saville, Amanda Sebestyen, Sam Semoff, Prof. Ludi Simpson, Viv Stein, Inbar Tamari, Ruth Tenne, Norman Traub, Eve Turner, Tirza Waisel, Karl Walinets, Renee Walinets, Stanley Walinets, Philip Ward, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Ruth Williams, Jay Woolrich, Ben Young, Myk Zeitlin, Androulla Zucker, John Zucker

Statement condemning Israel's attacks on Gaza by Independent Australian Jewish Voices

Monday, January 5, 2009

The following statement reflects only the views of those signatories whose names appear below. Signatories of other statements or authors of articles and blogs on our IAJV website are not to be taken as endorsing this statement.

---------------------

We are Australian Jews who join thousands in Israel and around the world condemning ongoing Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Together with Israeli peace group Gush Shalom, we condemn the current war as "inhuman, superfluous" and "abominable".

While Israel has the right to protect its citizens and to demand an end to the crime of Palestinian rockets that target civilians, this cannot be used as a pretext for the grossly disproportionate military assault on Gaza because it was Israel that violated the fragile truce on November 4, 2008. Furthermore, Israel ignored Hamas' diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the cease-fire since it expired on December 19.

The crude home-made rockets have caused relatively few Israeli casualties. By contrast, Israeli bombardment has caused [at the time of this statement's release] around 400 deaths and 2000 casualties including a large proportion of women and children. The bombardment has included civilian targets such as a university, television station, factories, mosques, ministry offices, parliament and refugee camps. Since Hamas is a legitimate, democratically elected political party that controls the government, security-related institutions are also civilian targets including police departments and uniformed officers.

History has demonstrated that military punishment has never broken the spirit of a people or produced peace. On the contrary, the assault on the population of Gaza will only inflame hatred of Jews and of the State of Israel while doing nothing to protect the lives of Israelis. Above all, it will undermine the prospects of joining with peace-seeking Palestinians to negotiate a lasting, just solution to the conflict.

The war on the population of Gaza comes after the Israeli blockade that had already created a severe humanitarian crisis under which the Palestinians suffered from lack of food, electricity, medicines, hospital equipment and other basic necessities of life. The blockade was condemned by the UN as a violation of international law and, like the massive Israeli air-strikes, constitutes illegal collective punishment prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

We call for an immediate end to attacks on civilians by Palestinians and Israelis. However, since Palestinians have no means of self-defence against the most powerful military force in the Middle East, we particularly call on Israel to end its brutal assault on the vulnerable Palestinian people of Gaza and to reconsider its rejection of the UN Security Council's call for a cease-fire.

Israel has refused to accept Hamas' consistent offer of negotiations since its election win in 2006. There can be no solution to the conflict without Israel being a willing partner to dialogue.

---------------------

Click HERE for current total

1. Abarbanel, Avigail
2. Asoulin, Eran
3. Balint, Dr. Anthony
4. Bancroft, Russell
5. Bartels, Dr. Ditta
6. Bamberger, Judy
7. Beauchamp, Alice
8. Beinart, Liza
9. Belnick, Judith
10. Benjamin, Professor Andrew FAHA
11. Bersten, Bruce
12. Bersten, Robyn
13. Berzin, Pat
14. Bilander, Celina
15. Bilander, Berish
16. Bilander, David
17. Bilander, Isy
18. Binder, Geoffrey
19. Blay, Ben
20. Blay, Danny
21. Bloch, Dr. Barbara
22. Blooman, Geoffrey
23. Bloomberg, Karen
24. Bloustien, Dr Dave
25. Blustein, Shiffi
26. Bokor, Imre
27. Boniface, Harry
28. Braun, Leo
29. Briskman, Linda
30. Brook, Steve
31. Brull, Michael
32. Buckrich, Judith
33. Buckstein, Ron
34. Bush, Jenny
35. Carleton, Jenny
36. Carleton, Susie
37. Carey, Allan
38. Cass, Moss (former ALP)
39. Chaitman, Lynn
40. Clemens, R.
41. Cohen, Harry AM
42. Cohen, Ian MLC
43. Cowen, David
44. Cox, Eva
45. Crafti, Dr Naomi
46. Dahlstrom, Bronwyn
47. Dapin, Mark
48. D’Aprano, Leonie
49. Dean, Tamara
50. DeSaxe, Mannie
51. di Suvero, Henry
52. Douglas, Greg
53. Dowse, Sara
54. Dryen, Fred
55. Dryen, Robyn
56. Dwyer, Joan
57. Ebel, John
58. Edwards, Julia
59. Edwards, Julie
60. Elson, Shane
61. Epstein, Jonathan
62. Esdaile, Peter
63. Fagueret, Corinne
64. Faire, Shoshana
65. Faye, Dr. Esther
66. Fine, Beverley
67. Fink, Michelle
68. Flax, Gabrielle
69. Fox, Louise
70. Fox, Mim
71. Fraser, Anne
72. Freadman, Anne
73. Frenkel, Professor Steve
74. Fried, Nadia
75. Galbally, Rhonda
76. Gold, Suzie
77. Goldberg, Aaron
78. Goldflam, Russell
79. Goldman, Arnold
80. Goodman, Professor David S G
81. Gordon, Michael
82. Grant, Dr Joan
83. Grossman, Associate Professor Michele
84. Harris, Marshall
85. Hermolin, David
86. Helfand, Sylvia
87. Horsburgh, Jennifer
88. Horsburgh, Maurice
89. Imber, Madelaine
90. Jacobs, Margaret
91. Jaivin Linda
92. Kamerman, Sol
93. Kay, Hanna
94. Kaye, Dr. David
95. Kaye, Margaret
96. Kitching, Professor Gavin
97. Kosky, Jan
98. Kosky, Yvonne
99. Krantz, Katie
100. Lambert, John
101. Langsan, Vic
102. Leber, Sylvie
103. Legge, Bill
104. Leigh, Sue
105. Leonzini, Victor
106. Levey, Dr. Geoffrey Brahm
107. Levy, Dr James
108. Levy, Valerie
109. Lindell, Geoffrey
110. Loewenstein, Antony
111. Loewenstein, Jeff
112. Loewenstein, Violet
113. Marasifgan, Maria
114. Markiewicz, Anne
115. Macredie, Rochelle
116. Marin, Paul
117. McLean, Jean
118. Midalia, Dan
119. Midalia, Harry
120. Midalia, Leon
121. Miller, Jamie
122. Moore, Stefan
123. Morris, Dr. Alan
124. Morris, Jenny
125. Munz, Martin
126. Nahvi, Emma
127. Nathani, Sharon
128. Neering, Ian
129. Nestle, Joan
130. Nimni, Ephraim
131. Nissen, Alex
132. Nissim, Rivkah
133. Otterman, Michael
134. Pataki, Tamas Dr
135. Philips, Michael
136. Pogos, Abe
137. Porzsolt, Vivienne
138. Potipa, Naomi
139. Raber, Richard
140. Rantzen, Vicki
141. Reed, Ann
142. Reed, Karl
143. Rich, Dr Joe
144. Riemer, Andrew
145. Romer, Marta
146. Ross, Dr. Edna
147. Rothfield, Andrew
148. Rothfield, David
149. Rothfield, Pam
150. Rubinstein, Keren
151. Rubner, Paul
152. Rudner, Allan
153. Salom Margot
154. Samorzewski, Meika Loofs
155. Sarkadi, Andrew
156. Schenk, Alan
157. Schetzer, Louis
158. Schonstein, Dr Eva
159. Seeligson, Bella
160. Segall, David
161. Shapiro-Liu, Rosemary
162. Shimmin, Dr Nick
163. Silverstein, Jordy
164. Singer, Esther
165. Singerman, Deborah
166. Slezak, Dr Peter
167. Smit, Jack H
168. Solomon, Robyn
169. Sosnowski, Marika
170. Starfield, Sue
171. Steen, Marc
172. Stein, Yasmin
173. Stockman, Lanie
174. Stratton, Jon
175. Tambour, Anna
176. Tillman, Clive
177. Tropp Fred
178. Tsukasov, Rene
179. Urbinder, David
180. Varga, Susan
181. Vorsay, Avril
182. Walton, Peter Leman
183. Wand, Leslie
184. Wasowski, Vera
185. Weisser, David
186. White, Kevin Judah
187. Witton, Nic
188. Witton, Ron
189. Wolkenberg, Gaby
190. Zagor, Matthew
191. Zilko, Julie
192. Zion, Deborah
193. Zion, Lawrie
194. Zyngier, David Dr
Plus 8 Anonymous.

Palestinian, Jewish and local activists shut down Israeli Consulate (San Francisco)

Thursday, January 15, 2009    San Francisco

 

unity

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2009

Contact: Harris Kornstein, (510) 343-6065
Raw video, audio, and photos available.
Arrested participants available for interviews
.


SAN FRANCISCO – A group of nine activists – Palestinian, anti-Zionist Jewish, and immigrant rights activists – blocked the entrance of the Israeli Consulate beginning at 8:30am today, in non-violent protest of Israeli apartheid and its current attacks on Gaza. The activists chained themselves together using handcuffs and locks, locked the doors to the building, and were joined by a diverse rally of over 40 supporters. The action was organised jointly by local Palestinians and Jews in support of: an immediate ceasefire; the opening of land, sea, and air borders to allow in emergency supplies; and an end to US financial and political support for Israel.

“For the past sixty years, Israel has tried to eliminate the Palestinian people by forcing them out of their homes and off their lands, starving them, and killing them”, said Maria Poblet, an immigrants’ rights organizer.  “The recent blockades and attacks in Gaza are not an exception, but a brutal reminder that killing civilians is a regular part of Israeli strategy.”

Linked arm in arm, Bay Area Jews, Palestinians and social-justice activists aim to increase pressure on Israel and its supporters in the face of the 21-day siege on Gaza and the growing humanitarian crisis.   All nine activists were arrested after about two hours, charged with trespassing, and allowed to leave.  This action is one in a series that has moved from Toronto, to New York, to Los Angeles.

Organisers assert that the current situation in Gaza is not a conflict between two peoples of equivalent capacities, nor is Israel’s motive self-defense. “For the past year and a half, Israel has enacted strangling sanctions under the guise of targeting Hamas, collectively starving the entire population of food, water, medicine, and other vital resources,” stated Monadel Herzallah of the United States Palestinian Community Network. “The recent air and ground strikes are another brutal blow to Gazans who are already trapped in a concentration camp of despair and growing poverty.”

Activists also spoke out against the US pledge of more than $3 billion each year in unrestricted aid to Israel.  “Israel’s use of US aid and military equipment violates our own laws.  We can choose to uphold US and international laws, or ignore them as we are now doing at the peril of our conscience and our place among all of humanity”, said Nadeen Elshorafa of the General Union of Palestinian Students.

Organizer Sara Kershnar of the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network summed up the sentiment: “Today, as Palestinians, Jews and our united allies, we make our position clear: we are on one side, the side of justice; Israel, an apartheid state, is on the other.”

Press coverage (so far):

 

Supporters

 

 

Nadeen

arrests


More photos available here.
For more information about IJAN in the bay area, contact bay.ijsn@gmail.com .

[From the IJAN website.]

 

Comments

Israeli human rights groups call for humanitarian action in Gaza

A clear and present danger: An Israeli Call for Urgent Humanitarian Action in Gaza

To:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi

OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant

Atty. Gen. Menachem Mazuz

RE: Warning of a clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians

January 14, 2009 -- Since the beginning of the campaign in Gaza on December 27, a heavy suspicion has arisen of grave violations of international humanitarian law by military forces. After the end of the hostilities, the time will come for the investigation of this matter, and accountability will be demanded of those responsible for the violations. At this point we call your attention to the clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians.

The level of harm to the civilian population is unprecedented. According to the testimony of residents of the Gaza Strip and media reports, military forces are making wanton use of lethal force which has to date caused the deaths of hundreds of uninvolved civilians and destroyed infrastructure and property on an enormous scale. In addition, Israel is also hitting civilian objects, having defined them as "legitimate military targets" solely by virtue of their being "symbols of government."

Caught in the middle are 1.5 million civilians in extreme humanitarian distress, whose needs are not being adequately met by the limited measures taken by the army. That distress is detailed in the Appendix to this letter. Its main points are as follows:

1. The fighting is taking place throughout the Gaza Strip, whose border crossings are closed, so that residents have nowhere to flee, neither inside the Gaza Strip nor by leaving it. Many are unable to escape from the battle zone to protect themselves. They are forced to live in fear and terror. The army's demand that they evacuate their homes so as to avoid injury has no basis. Some people who did escape are living as refugees, stripped of all resources.

2. The health system has collapsed. Hospitals are unable to provide adequate treatment to the injured, nor can patients be evacuated to medical centers outside of the Gaza Strip. This state of affairs is causing the death of injured persons who could have been saved. Nor are chronic patients receiving the treatment they need. Their health is deteriorating, and some have already died.

3. Areas that were subject to intensive attacks are completely isolated. It is impossible to know the condition of the people who are there, whether they are injured and need treatment and whether they have food, water and medicine. The army is preventing local and international rescue teams from accessing those places and is also refraining from helping them itself, even though it is required to do so by law.

4. Many of the residents do not have access to electricity or running water, and in many populated areas sewage water is running in the streets. That combination creates severe sanitation problems and increases the risk of an outbreak of epidemics.

This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.

The responsibility of the State of Israel in this matter is clear and beyond doubt. The army's complete control of the battle zones and the access roads to them does not allow Israel to transfer that responsibility to other countries. Therefore we call on you to act immediately as follows:

1. Stop the disproportionate harm to civilians, and stop targeting civilian objects that do not serve any military purpose, even if they meet the definition of "symbols of government."

2. Open a route for civilians to escape the battle zone, while guaranteeing their ability to return home at the end of the fighting.

3. Provide appropriate and immediate medical care to all of the injured and ill of the Gaza Strip, either by evacuating them to medical centers outside of the Gaza Strip or by reaching another solution inside the Gaza Strip.

4. Allow rescue and medical teams to reach battle-torn zones to evacuate the injured and bring supplies to those who remain there. Alternatively, the army must carry out those activities itself.

5. Secure the proper operation of the electricity, water and sewage systems so that they meet the needs of the population.

Sincerely,

Atty. Fatmeh El-Ajou

Adalah -- The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Vered Cohen Barzilay

Amnesty International Israel Section

Dr. Haim Yaakoby

Bimkom -- Planners for Planning Rights

Jessica Montell

B'tselem -- The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Atty. Sari Bashi

Gisha -- Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

Dalia Kerstein

Hamoked -- Center for Defence of the Individual

Prof. Zvi Bentwich

Physicians for Human Rights -- Israel

Dr. Ishai Menuchin

Public Committee Against Torture in Israel

Atty. Michael Sfard

Yesh Din -- Volunteers for Human Rights

***

Appendix: The humanitarian collapse in the Gaza Strip

Situation Report, January 14, 2009, [Day 19 of Fighting]

Overview

As of Wednesday, January 14, 2009, the 19th day of the military campaign in the Gaza Strip, the dimensions of the humanitarian collapse in the Gaza Strip are growing: many injured people are not receiving medical treatment at all, the evacuation of the injured to hospitals is not being permitted, medical teams are being attacked on their way to render aid and the health system in Gaza, especially hospitals, is collapsing. Gaza's electricity, water and sewage systems are in a state of partial collapse, preventing Gaza residents from accessing clean water and exposing them to the risk of infectious disease and lethal sewage flooding in populated areas.

***

Damage to the health system and prevention of evacuation of casualties

· Six cases of army shooting at medical teams have been documented by human rights organizations. 12 medical personnel have been killed, and 17 were injured.

· We know so far of 15 cases of attacks on medical facilities, including a medical supply warehouse, three mobile clinics, a mental health center, the walls and windows of three government hospitals and a number of rescue vehicles. Direct attacks were recorded in the European hospital and the Dura hospital, an UNRWA facility and the Safha Al-Harazin clinic in Shuja'iya.

· There are delays of an average of between 2 and 10 hours in coordination between the army and the medical teams for evacuation or transfer of casualties. In most cases, the army does not respond at all to the requests made to it. The human rights organizations know of more than 100 civilians who were trapped for more than 24 hours, including dozens of injured, without any medical care, sometimes without water or food either. In one case a family of 21 (including six injured) waited seven days until the army allowed Red Cross representatives to evacuate them. In two other cases families waited more than 36 hours for evacuation. The organizations believe there are other similar cases that have not yet been documented.

· The Gaza health system is in a state of total collapse after more than a year and a half of continuous closure: a severe shortage of medical equipment and medications, a shortage of skilled personnel, the absence of knowledge and experts to treat complex injuries and more. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, only 30% of the medical equipment and medications permitted to be transferred to the Gaza Strip meet the needs and of its hospitals and are responsive to their shortages.

· There are 2050 hospital beds in the Gaza Strip (1500 in government hospitals and 550 in private clinics). The intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital was reinforced from 12 beds to 30. Since January 1, 2009 the unit has been at full capacity, even though since January 6, 2009, each day an average of five patients are sent from it to Egypt. The health system is maintaining a 75% capacity at Shifa while at other hospitals, the capacity is 95%. The treatment of chronic patients, including cancer patients, liver patients, dialysis patients and others, has stopped almost completely due to a shortage of hospital beds in the departments and of available doctors.

· 850 chronic patients and hundreds of injured from the Israeli assaults need to be referred to medical treatment outside of Gaza since December 27, 2008. Of them, just three wounded and a few dozen ill patients have been evacuated to Israel while 250 injured were evacuated to Egypt through the Rafah Crossing. Since January 6, 2009 no additional patients have been transferred to Israel for medical care.

· Shifa Hospital and the other government hospitals in Gaza city operated without electricity supply using generators for a week between January 3-10. Since January 10, 2009 the hospital has been receiving electricity for 8-12 hours a day. Throughout the month of January the other hospitals in the Gaza Strip have been receiving electricity for an average of 4-8 hours a day. The rest of the time the hospitals rely on generators. In at least one case when a generator broke down at the Al-Quds hospital it remains without any electricity supply and life-saving medical equipment stopped working.

· Patients who are at home are exposed to heightened risk because of the shortage of electricity, which prevents the regular use of household medical equipment operated by electricity as well as heating devices.

***

Attacks on electricity, water and sewage infrastructures

Electricity lines, water and sewage pumps and waste collection and treatment facilities have been damaged by the bombardments. The battles taking place in the Gaza Strip prevent most repair work in the absence of security coordination with the army. The same is true of transporting fuel and equipment inside the Gaza Strip. Without electricity, it is impossible to pump water and treat sewage.

In the 14 months before the military campaign Israel prevented the supply of vital products to the Gaza Strip and thereby emptied it of the fuel, food, medicine and spare parts needed to cope with the severe results of the fighting. There is a severe shortage of fuel needed to operate the power plant in the Gaza Strip as well as the generators that back up the electricity system. There is a shortage of spare parts and equipment needed to perform repairs and maintenance.

Water and sewage systems

· More than half a million people are completely cut off from access to clean water, mostly in Gaza City and the northern area. Some of those people have been without access to water for more than 10 days. Many water pipes have been damaged. Without electricity in the homes it is impossible to pump water to the high stories and the water reservoirs on the roofs of the high houses.

· Sewage is flowing in the streets because of the shortage of electricity for sewage pumps and treatment facilities, due to the damage caused by the bombardments and because of breakdowns that could not be fixed in the absence of security coordination with the army and without the necessary spare parts. In Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, Jabaliya and parts of Gaza City the sewage pumps are not working at all. Since January 3, 2009 it has been impossible to access a sewage pipe in Beit Hanoun that was bombed. Since then sewage has been flowing to the area.

· Israel is preventing Water Authority technicians from accessing the Gaza City waste treatment facility. Since January 3, 2009 sewage has been flowing to the facility but it is not emptying because there is no one to operate the pumps. In addition on January 10, 2009 one of the sewage reservoirs there was bombed. It is believed that the sewage from the treatment facility and the sewage reservoir has begun to flood the area, but the damage cannot be assessed in the absence of security coordination.

· Israel is prohibiting access to the Beit Lahiya sewage reservoirs, where the waste level rises every day in the central reservoir and the waste water threatens to flood the area. The reason is destruction of the generator on January 3, 2009 that is supposed to pump the waste into overflow lagoons. Despite requests from international organizations to avoid striking that sensitive area, the area was bombarded again on January 10, 2009 and damage was caused to buildings next to the reservoir. Floods in that area would risk the welfare and lives of some 10,000 residents living nearby.

· The Gaza Strip water company needs many items that are in short supply including chlorine, pipes, valves and other items. Most of the equipment was ordered months ago but no permission was given to let it in.

Electricity system

· At least a quarter of a million residents of Gaza have been living without electricity for 18 days. At any given moment, up to one million people are disconnected from the electricity supply, which makes it difficult to access water, use medical equipment, preserves and refrigerate food and heat homes.

· Six of 12 high-voltage lines supplying electricity from Israel and from Egypt are not working because of damage caused by the bombardments. The Gaza power plant has been working since January 10, 2009 very partially (at 38% capacity) and manufacturing only 30 MW a day. As a result, the Gaza Strip is receiving a supply of only 48% of the required amount of electricity, at most. It is estimated that because of local breakdowns of lines, the amount of electricity reaching consumers is much smaller.

· The amount of industrial diesel available at the power plant is 500,000 liters, the amount needed for one single day to operate the three turbines. Another 369,000 liters were transferred to the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz terminal but cannot be shipped to the power plant because of the absence of security coordination.

· On the night before Tuesday, January 13, 2009, Israel bombed the electric company's warehouse in Gaza, causing tremendous damage including damage to transformers, cables, low voltage disconnect pillars and additional equipment. Israel had allowed the entrance of this equipment and spare parts into Gaza only four days earlier, after delaying the approval of its entry for months. The stores of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company were empty before the military campaign since Israel has for months prevented the transfer of spare parts that were ordered and paid for.

***

A predictable humanitarian collapse

· For the last 14 months Israel has deliberately and consistently restricted the transfer of fuel into the Gaza Strip as part of the Cabinet decision from September 19, 2007 authorizing punitive measures against the residents of Gaza. Instead of fulfilling its duty to provide the civil population with the necessary humanitarian products before launching the military campaign, the Israel drained the Gaza Strip of the fuel, food and equipment needed to cope with the severe results of the fighting.

· In the two months preceding the military campaign Israel tightened the closure and deliberately drained the Gaza Strip of the industrial diesel needed to manufacture electricity, by preventing its transfer through the Nahal Oz terminal. During those two months Israel allowed the transfer of only 18% of the amount of industrial diesel needed to operate the Gaza power plant, which is only 28% of the amount of industrial diesel the Supreme Court ordered it to provide.

· For more than three months Israel has been preventing the transfer of the spare parts needed by the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCo) for its current operations. Even at this very moment spare parts are waiting at the Karni Crossing and the Ashdod port.

Response to South African Jewish Board of Deputies &Zionist Fed.

Response to South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation and Office of Chief Rabbi

By Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa)
January 12, 2009 -- We are deeply troubled by the immoral position adopted by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the South African Zionist Federation and the Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, on the current atrocities in Gaza.

Goldstein, in particular, has become a propagandist for massacre and crimes against humanity. We call for him to be shunned by all South Africans who believe in justice and international law. Specifically, he should be excluded from the National Religious Leaders' Forum which seeks to develop moral responses to the crises facing South Africa. Can he offer any morality when he unapologetically supports one of the worst forms of immorality: genocide? He has also lost his hold on reality and morality by claiming that Israel's onslaught is humanitarian because "it sends out mass smses before bombing" (Sunday Times, 11th January 2009).

These organisations and Goldstein released a statement about the Gaza massacres riddled with inaccuracies. For example, they claim that Hamas broke the ceasefire when, in fact, Israel repeatedly violated the ceasefire killing six Palestinians on the 4th November and more thereafter. Indeed, Israel violated the ceasefire from the first week because the ceasefire agreement called for Israel to lift the strangling siege which prevented food, fuel, and medicines from entering Gaza, which it did not do. (See CNN report at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KntmpoRXFX4  and the report by Jews for Justice at www.jfjfp.org .

That Israel's current massacre in Gaza is 'in response' to Hamas' actions is also inaccurate. As Israeli officials proudly tell the media, this operation had been planned six months ago when Israel was negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas.

An even greater inaccuracy is the claim that, three and half years ago, Israel 'withdrew' from Gaza, leaving it to Palestinians to run. In fact, Israel only pulled its illegal settlers (every single one of whom was settled on Palestinian land in violation of international law) out of Gaza and its troops to the border. However, Gaza was not free, nor was it 'left in peace'. It was sealed off: its borders were controlled by Israel; access to its coast was controlled by Israel and restricted for residents of Gaza; its airspace was controlled by Israel. No food, fuel or medicines could enter Gaza without Israel allowing them to. Palestinian legislators were not able freely to move between Gaza and the West Bank. In short, Gaza went from being territory that was illegally settled and militarily occupied to being territory that was hermetically sealed, thus becoming the largest open-air prison in the world and still beholden to the Israeli military.

Despite these pro-Israeli organisations' portrayal of Israel as a victim and of Israeli soldiers as heroes, two recent incidents uncovered by the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Gazan town of Zeitoun show the depravity of the Israeli Occupation Forces in their treatment of women, children, and the injured and show that Israel is committing some of the worst war crimes ever to be inflicted on a national population.

Last Thursday, the Israeli Army had established a command position near some bombed houses.  For four days they sat there while 20 people, several wounded, were forced to remain inside without water, food, or medical treatment. Grotesquely, these 20 survivors were trapped in the ruins with the corpses of their dead relatives. Children were forced to lie side by side with their dead mothers. Husbands were forced to lie next to the rotting corpses of their dead wives.

So weak were the survivors after four days without food and water that when the Red Cross finally gained access to them they had to be carried out. For days the Israeli forces refused to allow the Red Cross access for days the Israeli forces were aware of the plight of the women and children inside the building, and for days they did nothing. By any standard, moral or legal, the army's actions in Zeitoun are an affront to humanity. (See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7819261.stm)

Even the normally sedate and reserved Red Cross is unable to suppress its anger with what is happening in Gaza. (See http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/palestine-update-050109 ?opendocument)

The depravity with which the Israeli Government is inflicting death on the people of Gaza reached a new low as news leaked out of yet another Israeli war crime in Zeitoun. According to the United Nations, the events in a shelter in the town represents 'one of the gravest events since the beginning of the offensive.' Eyewitness accounts obtained by the UN describe how, on the 4th January, the Israeli Army rounded up 110 people, half of them children, and evacuated them to a single storey house. The soldiers told the people they were being led to safety.

Then, 24 hours later, the Israeli army bombed the shelter, killing 30 people. According to the Red Cross and the UN, the Army's refusal to allow humanitarian access to the area for four days was because of this incident.

Following this incident the Red Cross issued a statement on the deaths of children killed by the Israeli Army in which they said that there had been a 250% increase in deaths to children since the ground invasion.(See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7819492.stm.)

We are also surprised that these Zionist organisations in South Africa so brazenly claim to be speaking for 'the South African Jewish community'. There are many in this community who do not support the massacre of civilians, who oppose the current actions of the Israeli military machine against the people of Gaza, who believe that Israel should immediately cease its military operation, who believe that Israel should not even have begun these operations. Yet, SAJBD, the SAZF and Goldstein seek to suppress these Jewish voices and to smear them by claiming that they all support the Israeli army's genocide.

These voices will not be suppressed, however. Almost 100 South African Jews have already signed a declaration saying that these organisations do not represent them on this issue. And even outside of South Africa, many Jews have actively opposed Israel's murderous military campaign. They include the group of Jewish women who last week occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto. And the thousands of Jewish Israeli students who protested against the Gaza massacre in at least three Israeli cities, and numerous Jews who are protesting in the US.

Finally, it is appalling and an attempt to censor voices critical of Israel when the statement, after unashamedly stating its authors' support for war crimes and genocide, urges other South Africans not to 'import' 'the conflict' into South Africa. It is like saying to people: 'this is what we support. If you have a different view you are not allowed to express it because that will create bad relations between us.' Why is it that organisations such as the SAZF can exist for the sole reason of supporting Israel, but when anyone supports the just struggle of the Palestinian people, that person is 'importing conflict' into South Africa?

These organisations of Israeli apologists want South Africa to remain 'neutral' while they peddle their warmongering freely. South Africa cannot be neutral. It must choose sides. It must choose the side of justice and international law or stand accused of supporting the law of the jungle. Calls by the Israeli apologists that the South African government should play a mediatory role are absurd. Israel ignores the UN Security Council; it certainly treats South African politicians and politics with disdain. Israel and its South African propagandists constantly talk of peace but practise war.

UN Resolutions are flouted, and international law violated with impunity. Illegal settlements continue to be built in the West Bank and construction on the 760 km Apartheid Wall continues. Israel is a pariah state like Apartheid South Africa was. South Africa's role should be to lead an international campaign to sever diplomatic relations with and implement sanctions on Israel. This is the only moral option. This is what most Palestinians have asked.

Ronnie Kasrils
Steven Friedman
Virginia Setshedi
Brian Hotz
Farid Esack
Mercia Andrews
Melissa Hoole
Suzanne Hotz
Salim Vally
Na'eem Jeenah
Bronwen Kaplan

Thousands tol demonstrate against killing in Gaza in Tel-Aviv-Ja

Press Release

Thousands will demonstrate against the mass killing

Stop the assault! Ceasefire Now!

Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, Sat., Jan.17, at 18:30

Demonstrators will gather at the Charles Clore Park in south Tel-Aviv (near the Etzel House), and march to Jaffa's Yefet Street, until the Gan Hashanyim Park on the corner of Yefet and Dr. Ehrlich. The demonstration will conclude with a moment of silence for the victims of the war.

While talk of a cease-fire fills the newspaper headlines, in Gaza the killing continues and intensifies. More than a thousand people were already killed in Gaza, nearly a third of them children. Thousands are wounded, Tens of thousands of newly displaced refugees desperately seek shelter from the bombings and the tanks. The health, electricity and water systems are collapsing. On the other side of the border, the inhabitants of Israel' s southern periphery are suffering, held hostage by the government. Their safety and well-being will certainly not be served by sowing death and destruction in Gaza, which only feed the cycle of violence. The government of Israel and the commanders of its armed forces threaten to perpetrate even more death and destruction, rather than decalring a ceasefire. Thousands of the demonstrators, including Knesset members as well as Jewish and Arab public figures, will take part in the march in order to cry out:

Stop the killing!

Cease the fire, lift the Gaza siege – now!

Despite the blackout by the communications media, which mobilized themselves for the war effort, despite the unprecedented political persecution and detention of more than 600 activists already, despite the verbal and sometimes physical violence directed at those who dare to subvert the national madness, on these dark days we will go out together on the streets to reiterate: Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!

The Coalition of organizations opposed to the war and the siege of Gaza

Jointly with the Monitoring Committee of the Arab Citizens in Israel

Ahoti, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Anarchists against the Fence, Balad, Banki, Bat Shalom, Coalition of Women for Peace, Combatants for Peace, Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Da'am – Workers' Party, Gush Shalom, Hadash, Hithabrut – Tarabut, Indymedia, Israeli Communist Party (Maki), New Profile, Public Committee Against Torture (PCATI), Ra'am – Ta'al, Sadaka-Re'ut, Social TV, Student Coalition – Tel Aviv University, Ta'ayush, Tandi (Democratic Women), The Campus is Not Silent, The Shministim (Highschool Seniors') Letter, Women in Black, Yesh Gvul, Zochrot,

Contact: Adi 0508-575730, Adam 0506-709603

Anti-Zionist jewsshut down LA Israeli consulate+apartheid facts

Press Release
January 14, 2009

*Available for Interviews: *

Lisa Adler, 917.400.7964 (available for interviews in Spanish)

Eric Romann, 510.285.7240

Tamara Rettino, 323.547.1277

For video footage: Stacy Goldate, 213.255.6950, stacy@stacygoldate.com

JEWS SHUT DOWN ISRAELI CONSULATE FOR 3 HOURS 10 JEWS CHAIN TOGETHER TO BLOCK
DRIVEWAY AND ENTRANCE

Early this morning, Jewish activists in a historic first in Los Angeles,
chained themselves to the entrance of the Israeli Consulate and blocked the
driveway to the parking structure, blocking all traffic in and out of the
building. "We sent a clear message to the world that LA Jews are part of
the global majority in opposition to the Israeli siege of Gaza," said Lenny
Potash a 72-year old protester who was cuffed to eight other activists,
blocking the driveway to the consulate. The activists were joined by 50
other supporters and who chanted "LA Jews say, End the Siege of Gaza" and "Not in Our Name! We will Not be Silent!" Protesters also held up signs reading "Israeli Consulate: Closed for War Crimes."

"We succeeded today in letting Jews and other Americans of conscience know
that it is safe to speak out against the policies of the Israeli government
and that the Israeli lobby does not speak for everyone," said Robin Ellis, a
Registered Nurse who also risked arrest to block the consulate entrance. "We
are committed to escalating non-violent activities in the future to end the
siege and win justice for Palestinians," Ellis said.

The group of activists were an ad-hoc, multi-generational group of LA
Jewish residents, including members of the recently founded International
Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. They shared a commitment to ending the Israeli
siege on Gaza and an end to Israeli apartheid. The demonstration will kick
off a wave of demonstrations across the United States uniting Palestinians,
Jewish people, and other Americans outraged by the siege.

"We are shocked and outraged at Israeli's latest act of violent aggression
against the Palestinian people. Killing over 950 people, including 250 women
and children, bombing schools and mosques and then calling it
self-defense—that is the worst kind of hypocrisy. It also amounts to war
crimes," said Hannah Howard, a local member of the International Jewish
Anti-Zionist Network. "We shut down the Israeli consulate today because as
Jewish people we cannot allow business as usual while violence is being done
in our name."

Action participants also spoke out against the US government's
unconditional support for Israel's siege and its ongoing war against the
Palestinian people. "While US-funded F16's rain down bombs on the people of
Gaza, our elected officials locally and nationally offer unqualified
support." said Marsha Steinberg, a retired union representative. "Our
government must stop sending billions of dollars in military and economic
aid to the Israeli war machine," Goldberg said. In the coming week,
concerned Americans from all backgrounds will call on the new Presidential
administration to make a 180 degree change in policy.

"While the end of the siege on Gaza is our most immediate priority, this is
only the latest chapter in Palestinians' 60 plus year experience of
occupation and ethnic cleansing. Peace and justice in the region will only
come when Palestinians have freedom and control their own destiny," said
Lisa Adler, a community organizer in Los Angeles and another member of the
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. "Even before the siege began,
Israel's inhumane months-long blockade of Gaza created a major humanitarian
crisis. We must end the siege. And we are building a nonviolent
international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions that brings an
end to Israel's policies of occupation and apartheid and advances the
Palestinian struggle for justice," said Adler.

For more information on the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, visit
www.ijsn.net

-- ## --
*
*

*Profiles of several Demonstrators*

* *

*Marsha Steinberg* is a retired union representative and long time activist
for social justice.

*Gabriel Strachota* is a 22-year old Jewish native of Massachusetts. His
mother grew up in apartheid South Africa and he has many aunts, uncles, and
cousins living in Israel.

*Robin Ellis* is a 34-year old Registered Nurse, working in Los Angeles'
public health system.. Robin's grandparents and great grandparents fled Nazi
Germany and settled in New York where Robin was born.Registered Nurse

*Lisa Adler* is a 29-year old New York native from a Latin American Jewish
family. She spent several weeks in occupied Palestine in 2002 working in
solidarity with Palestinians resisting the occupation non-violently.

*Eric Romann* is a 31-year old community organizer originally from New
Jersey. Eric's grandparents moved to Palestine to escape Nazism in the
1930's and lost many family members in the Nazi Holocaust. His father spent
the first 15 years of his life in Israel and Eric has many family members
living there.

*Samantha Tess Sunshine* is a queer white Jew who lives in Los Angeles. She
is a trained sex educator who has worked in the field of sexual health for
almost a decade, and is currently a lead facilitator for the Leadership
Development in Interethnic Relations Program at the Asian Pacific American
Legal Center.
*
*

*Fact Sheet on Gaza and Israeli Apartheid*

*THE PEOPLE OF GAZA: *Nearly 1.5 million Palestinians live in Gaza, many of
them concentrated in one-half of the territory. In this area, the population
density is nearly 20,000 people per square mile, one of the highest in the
world. More than three quarters of Gaza's residents are refugees who were
driven from their homes during past wars with Israel (in 1948 and 1967), and
their descendants. Israel has permanently barred their return. Over half of
these refugees still reside in Gaza's eight refugee camps. (BBC,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5122404.stm)**

*THE OCCUPATION OF GAZA: *The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation
since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an
occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the
strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and
exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over
Gaza's air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As
the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva
Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza
Strip. ("What You Don't Know About Gaza", Rashidi Khalidi, New York Times,
January 7, 2009). **

*THE BLOCKADE of GAZA*: Israel's blockade of the strip, with the support of
the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent
since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January
2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and
out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening
problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation. This
amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United
States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.
(Khalidi, New York Times).

*THE CEASE-FIRE:* Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket
fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and
Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from
hundreds in May and June to a total of less than 20 in the subsequent four
months (according to Israeli government figures). The cease-fire broke down
when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November;
six Hamas operatives were reported killed. (Khalidi, New York Times).

*WAR CRIMES:* Israel's current assault on the Gaza Strip cannot be justified
by self-defense. Rather, it involves serious violations of international
law, including war crimes. Senior Israeli political and military leaders may
bear personal liability for their offenses, and they could be prosecuted by
an international tribunal, or by nations practicing universal jurisdiction
over grave international crimes. ("Israel is committing war crimes." George
Bisharat, Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2009.)

*ISRAELI APARTHEID:* Former South African President Hendrick Verwoerd
observed as far back as 1961 that "Israel, like South Africa, is an
apartheid state." In Palestine, the Zionist goal of controlling as much land
as possible without Palestinians led to the large-scale expulsions of
1947-48 and 1967. Today, 92 percent of Israel's land is defined as the
"inalienable property of the Jewish people." Jews anywhere in the world have
a "right to return" and claim citizenship, while Palestinians who were
expelled from their homes are denied the "right to return" guaranteed by
international law. Former President Jimmy Carter defines apartheid as the
"forced separation of two peoples in the same territory with one of the
groups dominating or controlling the other." This accurately describes the
situation in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, where
Israeli settlers and soldiers totally dominate the indigenous Palestinian
population. The policies Israel has implemented to carry out its 40-year-old
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and expropriate Palestinian land
closely mirror the "inhuman acts" that make up the UN Convention on the
"Crime of Apartheid." (US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, "Why
Apartheid Applies to Israel",
http://www.endtheoccupation.org/downloads/AAFWhyApartheid.pdf)

Update on Imprisoned Conscientious Objectors in Israel


- Please distribute widely -
Dear Friends,

CO Maya Yechieli Wind Two women objectors, Raz Bar-David Varon and Maya Yechieli Wind, both signatories of the 2008 high school seniors refusal letter, reported on Wednesday, 14 Jan., at the Induction Base, declared her refusal to serve in the Israeli military and were sentenced to 14 days in military prison. Both were told that the military prison for women is full and kept in the Induction Base for several days. Eventually, they began their prison terms yesterday (19 Jan.)

This is the fourth prison term for Raz, and the first one for Maya, 19, from Jerusalem and a United World College graduate, who has prepared the following declaration upon entering prison:
    At first, like many other Israeli citizens, I too could not bring myself to confront or criticize the Israeli military's immoral actions. I realize that this difficulty originated from my sense of identification with soldiers my own age, to whom I could relate. Today it is precisely this realization that leads me to refuse to serve. I cannot recognize the humanity of Israelis but not that of Palestinians. It is because of my deep sense of commitment and responsibility to the community in which I grew up that I am refusing to contribute to this cycle of bloodshed.

    We can no longer term our military a "Defense Force." A defense force does not conquer lands of another people. A defense force does not assist in the building of settlements on those lands. A defense force does not permit settlers to throw stones at Palestinian civilians, nor does it deny them access to their lands and source of livelihood. None of these are acts of a defense force.

    The occupation has no defensive advantages. On the contrary, the pointless occupation of millions of people only leads to radicalization of opinions, hatred and the escalation of violence. Violence is a cycle that feeds into itself. This cycle will not stop until someone stands up and refuses uncompromisingly to take part in it.

    This is what I am doing today.

    My views are also relevant to the current operation in Gaza. One form of violence cannot stop another. This current violence is the result of decades of ongoing occupation of the territories and sieges on Gaza since the disengagement. I mourn the unnecessary deaths of both Palestinians and Israelis.

    Yet again we have chosen war.
The two objectors are due out of prison on 29 Jan. and are likely to be imprisoned again afterwards. Their prison addresses are:
    Maya Yechieli Wind
    Military ID 5984305
    Military Prison No. 400
    Military Postal Code 02447, IDF
    Israel
    Fax: ++972-3-9579389
    Raz Bar-David Varon
    Military ID 6000383
    Military Prison No. 400
    Military Postal Code 02447, IDF
    Israel
    Fax: ++972-3-9579389
Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send your letters of support and encouragement to the imprisoned objectors via e-mail to shministim@gmail.com, and they will be printed out and delivered to them during visits.

Since the beginning of the assault on Gaza, there has also been an a wave of reservists who refused to take part in it. The military mostly avoids sending these reservists to prison. One objector is now serving a 14-day term for refusal, but at the request of his family we are not revealing any other details on his case.

Another exception to the rule is the case of Noam Livneh, an officer in reserves and one of the main organisers of the Courage to Refuse movement. Noam has been imprisoned for refusal in the past (January 2001). Yesterday (19 Jan.), in an unprecedented step, he was not sentenced by an officer, as would usually happen, but was rather arrested by the military police. There is a possibility that he will be put to trial before a military tribunal. We will update on further developments as they happen.

A media report on Noam's case, also mentioning Maya and adding some further background can be read here.

There has also been a news story reporting the case of a helicopter pilot, Capt. Orr, who refused to take part in the bombing of Gaza (hat tip to Max Watts, who brought this report to our attention). However, we were not able to find any independent confirmation of this story, and have some doubts about its reliability.

Finally, COs Tamar Katz and Yuval Oron-Ofir have been recently exempted from military service on medical grounds, and are no longer in danger of further imprisonment. Thanks to all who took action on their behalf.


Recommended Action
First of all, please circulate this message and the information contained in it as widely as possible, not only through e-mail, but also on websites, conventional media, by word of mouth, etc.

Other recommendations for action:

1. Sending Letters of Support

Please send the imprisoned objectors letters of support (preferably postcards or by fax) to the prison addresses above.

2. Letters to Authorities

It is recommended to send letters of protest on the objectors' behalf, preferably by fax, to:
    Mr. Ehud Barak,
    Minister of Defence,
    Ministry of Defence,
    Hakirya,
    Tel-Aviv 64743,
    Israel.
    E-mail: sar@mod.gov.il or pniot@mod.gov.il
    Tel.: ++972-3-6975540 or ++972-3-6975423
    Fax: ++972-3-6976711
Copies of your letters can also be sent to the commander of the military prison at:
Commander of Military Prison No. 6,
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code 01860, IDF
Israel
Fax: ++972-4-9540580
Another useful address for sending copies would be the Military Attorney General:
    Avichai Mandelblit,
    Chief Military Attorney
    Military postal code 9605, IDF
    Israel
    Fax: ++972-3-569-43-70

It would be especially useful to send your appeals to the Commander of the Induction Base in Tel-HaShomer. It is this officer that ultimately decides whether an objector is to be exempted from military service or sent to another round in prison, and it is the same officer who is ultimately in charge of the military Conscience Committee:
    Gadi Agmon,
    Commander of Induction Base,
    Meitav, Tel-HaShomer
    Military Postal Code 02718, IDF
    Israel.
    Fax: ++972-3-737-60-52

For those of you who live outside Israel, it would be very effective to send protests to your local Israeli embassy. You can find the address of your local embassy on the web.

Here is a sample letter, which you can use, or better adapt, in sending appeals to authorities on the prisoners' behalf:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    It has come to my attention that [name & military ID], a conscientious objector, has been imprisoned for [her / his] refusal to perform military service, and is held in Military Prison no. [6 / 400].

    The imprisonment of conscientious objectors such as [name] is a violation of international law, of basic human rights and of plain morals, let alone when the same person is being repeatedly imprisoned for her self-same beliefs.

    I therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release from prison of [name], without threat of further imprisonment in the future, and urge you and the system you are heading to respect the dignity and person of conscientious objectors, indeed of all human beings, in the future.

    Sincerely,

We will appreciate receiving copies from the letters to the address: support.refusers.israel@gmail.com


3. Letters to media in Israel and in other countries

Writing op-ed pieces and letters to editors of media in Israel and other countries could also be quite useful in indirectly but powerfully pressuring the military authorities to let go of the objectors and in bringing their plight and their cause to public attention.

Here are some contact details for the main media outlets in Israel:
    Ma'ariv:
    2 Karlibach st.
    Tel-Aviv 67132
    Israel
    Fax: +972-3-561-06-14
    e-mail: editor@maariv.co.il
    Yedioth Aharonoth:
    2 Moses st.
    Tel-Aviv
    Israel
    Fax: +972-3-608-25-46
    Ha'aretz (Hebrew):
    21 Schocken st.
    Tel-Aviv, 61001
    Israel
    Fax: +972-3-681-00-12
    Ha'aretz (English edition):
    21 Schocken st.
    Tel-Aviv, 61001
    Israel
    Fax: +972-3-512-11-56
    e-mail: letters@haaretz.co.il
  •  
      and +972-3-694-47-09
  • Radio (fax numbers):
    Kol-Israel +972-2-531-33-15
    Galei Zahal +972-3-512-67-20
    Television (fax numbers):
    Channel 1 +972-2-530-15-36
    Channel 2 +972-2-533-98-09
    Channel 10 +972-3-733-16-66
We will continue updating on further developments.
Thank you for your attention and action,
Sergeiy Sandler – New Profile.

Ilan Pappe: `It was my duty to protest'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jan/20/interview-ilan-pappe-his...
'I felt it was my duty to protest'
The Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, tells Chris Arnot that speaking out
for the Palestinians turned him into a pariah

* Chris Arnot
* The Guardian, Tuesday 20 January 2009

For an academic to describe himself as "feeling for a while like public
enemy No 1" suggests either an inflated ego or an incurable case of
paranoia. Professor Ilan Pappe gives every appearance of suffering from
neither. He is an amiable character with an engaging grin. By his own
admission, he "likes to be liked". Not a natural rebel then? "Certainly
not," he says.

Yet in 2005 and 2006, this Israeli son of German-Jewish emigrants found
himself in the eye of a storm that would lead him to leave the country
of his birth and seek sanctuary in the English west country. He has been
chair in the history department at Exeter University for the last 18
months. By the time he left the University of Haifa, he had been
condemned in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset; the minister of
education had publicly called for him to be sacked; and his pictures had
appeared in the country's biggest-selling newspaper at the centre of a
target. Next to it, a popular columnist addressed his readers thus: "I'm
not telling you to kill this person, but I shouldn't be surprised if
someone did."

The death threats had already been arriving by post, email and phone
since Pappe, 54, had been asked on national radio whether he was going
to take his complaints about the treatment of Palestinians to the UN
security council. "I had to point out that I was not a politician or a
diplomat," he says, "I was an academic." Albeit an academic who had
recently published a book called The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. A
somewhat provocative title, I suggest.

"It was," he concedes. "I thought long and hard before using it, and my
publisher [Oneworld Publications] hesitated. But I don't think that the
military and political elite has given up on the policy of ethnic
cleansing. They think that the survival, and certainly the prosperity,
of the Jewish state is connected to its ability to minimise the numbers
of Palestinians living within its borders - although it has not yet
decided where those borders should be."

In 2005, Pappe and two friends wrote a warning online that Israeli
settlers were being moved out of Gaza to allow government forces a free
hand to bomb the residents of that overcrowded strip of land. When the
current bombardment began at the end of last year, the Israeli
government argued that it was trying to protect its citizens from rocket
attacks by Hamas. But, says Pappe: "Those rocket attacks didn't start
until after Israel had blockaded Gaza."

Anglophile

The conflict seems a million miles from where we're sitting, overlooking
a peaceful river valley in an idyllic part of Devon. Pappe did his PhD
at Oxford in 1984 and remains a self-confessed Anglophile, despite
reservations about the food and the weather. He has rented a property
not far from Exeter for himself, his partner and two sons, aged 11 and
14. Fear for their safety was one reason why he felt impelled to leave
Haifa. "The other reason was that I felt stifled as an intellectual."

Having backed down from dismissing him through a disciplinary court, the
university authorities in Haifa barred him from participating in
seminars or conferences. "One of my colleagues was rung up and told:
'You were seen having coffee with Ilan Pappe. Is that wise?'," he says.

All the same, he says, he continued to receive support from some
colleagues and many students, particularly Palestinian ones. There was
external support, too, including from what was then the Association of
University Teachers (AUT) in the UK. "I think my worst crime had been to
back the academic and cultural boycott on Israel to end the occupation
of Palestinian lands," he says. "When the AUT approached me to ask
whether I thought they were morally justified in doing it, I said yes.
Only strong external pressure will stop the Israeli policy of destroying
the Palestinian people."

Since then, the AUT has evolved into the University and College Union
(UCU)and, faced with legal action, has dropped proposals for a
collective boycott.

"I think what's really important," says Pappe, diplomatically, "is that
a growing number of individual academics feel they can no longer
tolerate co-operating with their Israeli counterparts, except for those
who oppose current government policies."

Revulsion in the UK at the carnage in Gaza is likely to have strained
relations even further. Any temptation by Pappe to claim that he saw
this coming has been overwhelmed by outrage, tinged with considerable
sadness, at the media images of civilian victims. "For me these figures
are not anonymous," he says. "I fear for people I know personally." He
speaks Arabic and socialises with Arab as well as Jewish friends and
colleagues. "The Israeli government may find it difficult to justify its
butchery to the rest of the world, but they can still rely on widespread
support internally," Pappe says. "Loyalty to the state and Zionist
ideology supersedes anything else."

Can he not, I wonder, understand the siege mentality of people who feel
themselves under threat from growing Islamic militancy?

"Yes, I can," Pappe replies. "There are genuine collective fears that
have to do with past and present dangers. But I think those fears are
manipulated through the education system and the media to seem worse
than the reality suggests. And Israelis don't seem to realise that their
behaviour is contributing to those dangers. Anyone who endorses a
militantly aggressive policy towards Israel can only have benefited from
what's been going on in Gaza."

Facing the Syrians

When Pappe was 19, he found himself on the Golan Heights facing the
Syrians in the Yom Kippur war of 1973. "I remember the sergeant major
telling us that we should kill Arabs young or they'll grow up to kill
us," he says. "And that attitude is widespread. That's why tank drivers,
F16 pilots or artillery commanders will kill civilians without
hesitation. They've been taught to dehumanise them all their lives."

Pappe's parents, like many others, fled Germany in the 1930s because
they could see that Jews would be treated as less than human. Members of
both their families perished in the subsequent genocide. "My mother had
seven sisters, and only three survived," Pappe says. "There were similar
stories on my father's side. They saw Palestine and, later, the state of
Israel as a safe haven. And that's the part of me that can't totally
condemn Zionism. Had it not been for the Zionist movement, my parents
and many like them would not have escaped.

"I've never underestimated those achievements. But my parents could
never see that setting up a Jewish state was done by dispossessing
Palestinians. They turned a blind eye, in the same way that many Germans
did in the 30s and 40s."

Neither parent is still alive. "My brother and sister don't share my
politics, but we still get on," he adds. "Some relatives in the wider
family find it difficult to talk to me. To my mind, though, I belonged
to a society that was doing terrible things to Palestinians. I felt it
was my duty to protest, even if that made me a pariah."

The best way to protest in exile is to write, he feels. Right now, he
has three books on the go. One is to be called The Forgotten
Palestinians ("those living in Israel"); another The Bureaucracy of
Evil, an examination of the way Israeli officials have managed
day-to-day life in those territories beyond the country's original
borders that the state has occupied since 1967. He is also editing a
collection of essays from scholars around the world comparing the
Zionist system and ideology with the government of apartheid South
Africa. "There's plenty to compare," he insists.

Ilan Pappe may not be a natural rebel, but nobody could accuse him of
settling for a quiet life in the west country.
Curriculum vitae

Age 54

Job Chair in the history department at University of Exeter

Before that Senior lecturer in political science at University of Haifa
and president of Israeli Association for Multicultural Education

Likes 19th-century English novels, cinema, classical music, Liverpool FC

Dislikes systemised state injustice

Uri Avnery: On the wrong side

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1232853498/

On The Wrong Side

24/01/09

OF ALL the beautiful phrases in Barack Obama's inauguration speech, these
are the words that stuck in my mind: "You are on the wrong side of history."

He was talking about the tyrannical regimes of the world. But we, too, should
ponder these words

In the last few days I have heard a lot of declarations from Ehud Barak, Tzipi
Livni, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert. And every time, these eight
words came back to haunt me: "You are on the wrong side of history!"

Obama was speaking as a man of the 21st century. Our leaders speak the
language of the 19th century. They resemble the dinosaurs which once
terrorized their neighborhood and were quite unaware of the fact that their
time had already passed.

DURING THE rousing celebrations, again and again the multicolored patchwork
of the new president's family was mentioned.

All the preceding 43 presidents were white Protestants, except John Kennedy,
who was a white Catholic. 38 of them were the descendants of immigrants
from the British isles. Of the other five, three were of Dutch ancestry
(Theodor and Franklin D. Roosevelt , as well as Martin van Buren) and two of
German descent (Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower.)

The face of Obama's family is quite different. The extended family includes
whites and the descendents of black slaves, Africans from Kenya,
Indonesians, Chinese from Canada, Christians, Muslims and even one Jew (a
converted African-American). The two first names of the president himself,
Barack Hussein, are Arabic.

This is the face of the new American nation - a mixture of races, religions,
countries of origin and skin-colors, an open and diverse society, all of whose
members are supposed to be equal and to identify themselves with the
"founding fathers". The American Barack Hussein Obama, whose father was
born in a Kenyan village, can speak with pride of "George Washington, the
father of our nation", of the "American Revolution" (the war of independence
against the British), and hold up the example of "our ancestors", who include
both the white pioneers and the black slaves who "endured the lash of the
whip". That is the perception of a modern nation, multi-cultural and
multi-racial: a person joins it by acquiring citizenship, and from this moment
on is the heir to all its history.

Israel is the product of the narrow nationalism of the 19th century, a
nationalism that was closed and exclusive, based on race and ethnic origin,
blood and earth. Israel is a "Jewish State", and a Jew is a person born Jewish
or converted according to Jewish religious law (Halakha). Like Pakistan and
Saudi Arabia, it is a state whose mental world is to a large extent conditioned
by religion, race and ethnic origin.

When Ehud Barak speaks about the future, he speaks the language of past
centuries, in terms of brute force and brutal threats, with armies providing the
solution to all problems. That was also the language of George W. Bush who
last week slinked out of Washington, a language that already sounds to the
Western ear like an echo from the distant past.

The words of the new president are ringing in the air: "Our power alone
cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please." The key words
were "humility and restraint".

Our leaders are now boasting about their part in the Gaza War, in which
unbridled military force was unleashed intentionally against a civilian
population, men, women and children, with the declared aim of "creating
deterrence". In the era that began last Tuesday, such expressions can only
arouse shudders.

BETWEEN Israel and the United States a gap has opened this week, a narrow
gap, almost invisible - but it may widen into an abyss.

The first signs are small. In his inaugural speech, Obama proclaimed that "We
are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and nonbelievers."
Since when? Since when do the Muslims precede the Jews? What has
happened to the "Judeo-Christian Heritage"? (A completely false term to start
with, since Judaism is much closer to Islam than to Christianity. For example:
neither Judaism nor Islam supports the separation of religion and state.)

The very next morning, Obama phoned a number of Middle East leaders. He
decided to make a quite unique gesture: placing the first call to Mahmoud
Abbas, and only the next to Olmert. The Israeli media could not stomach that.
Haaretz, for example, consciously falsified the record by writing - not once
but twice in the same issue - that Obama had called "Olmert, Abbas, Mubarak
and King Abdallah" (in that order).

Instead of the group of American Jews who had been in charge of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict during both the Clinton and Bush administrations,
Obama, on his very first day in office, appointed an Arab-American, George
Mitchell, whose mother had come to America from Lebanon at age 18, and
who himself, orphaned from his Irish father, was brought up in a Maronite
Christian Lebanese family.

These are not good tidings for the Israeli leaders. For the last 42 years, they
have pursued a policy of expansion, occupation and settlements in close
cooperation with Washington. They have relied on unlimited American
support, from the massive supply of money and arms to the use of the veto
in the Security Council. This support was essential to their policy. This
support may now be reaching its limits.

It will happen, of course, gradually. The pro-Israel lobby in Washington will
continue to put the fear of God into Congress. A huge ship like the United
States can change course only very slowly, in a gentle curve. But the
turn-around started already on the first day of the Obama administration.

This could not have happened, if America itself had not changed. That is not
a political change alone. It is a change in the world-view, in mental outlook,
in values. A certain American myth, which is very similar to the Zionist myth,
has been replaced by another American myth. Not by accident did Obama
devote to this so large a part of his speech (in which, by the way, there was
not a single word about the extermination of the Native Americans).

The Gaza War, during which tens of millions of Americans saw the horrible
carnage in the Strip (even if rigorous self-censorship cut out all but a tiny
part), has hastened the process of drifting apart. Israel, the brave little sister,
the loyal ally in Bush's "War on Terror", has turned into the violent Israel, the
mad monster, which has no compassion for women and children, the wounded
and the sick. And when winds like these are blowing, the Lobby loses height.

The leaders of official Israel do not notice it. They do not feel, as Obama put
it in another context, that "the ground has shifted beneath them". They think
that this is no more than a temporary political problem that can be set right
with the help of the Lobby and the servile members of Congress.

Our leaders are still intoxicated with war and drunk with violence. They have
re-phrased the famous saying of the Prussian general, Carl von Clausewitz
into: "War is but a continuation of an election campaign by other means."
They compete with each other with vainglorious swagger for their share of
the "credit". Tzipi Livni, who cannot compete with the men for the crown of
warlord, tries to outdo them in toughness, in bellicosity, in hard-heartedness.

The most brutal is Ehud Barak. Once I called him a "peace criminal", because
he brought about the failure of the 2000 Camp David conference and
shattered the Israeli peace camp. Now I must call him a "war criminal", as the
person who planned the Gaza War knowing that it would murder masses of
civilians.

In his own eyes, and in the eyes of a large section of the public, this is a
military operation which deserves all praise. His advisors also thought that it
would bring him success in the elections. The Labor party, which had been
the largest party in the Knesset for decades, had shrunk in the polls to 12,
even 9 seats out of 120. With the help of the Gaza atrocity it has now gone
up to 16 or so. That's not a landslide, and there's no guarantee that it will not
sink again.

What was Barak's mistake? Very simply: every war helps the Right. War, by
its very nature, arouses in the population the most primitive emotions - hate
and fear, fear and hate. These are the emotions on which the Right has been
riding for centuries. Even when it's the "Left" that starts a war, it's still the
Right that profits from it. In a state of war, the population prefers an
honest-to-goodness Rightist to a phony Leftist.

This is happening to Barak for the second time. When, in 2000, he spread the
mantra "I have turned every stone on the way to peace, / I have made the
Palestinians unprecedented offers, / They have rejected everything, / There
is no one to talk with" - he succeeded not only in blowing the Left to
smithereens, but also in paving the way for the ascent of Ariel Sharon in the
2001 elections. Now he is paving the way for Binyamin Netanyahu (hoping,
quite openly, to become his minister of defense).

And not only for him. The real victor of the war is a man who had no part in
it at all: Avigdor Liberman. His party, which in any normal country would be
called fascist, is steadily rising in the polls. Why? Liberman looks and sounds
like an Israeli Mussolini, he is an unbridled Arab-hater, a man of the most
brutal force. Compared to him, even Netanyahu looks like a softie. A large
part of the young generation, nurtured on years of occupation, killing and
destruction, after two atrocious wars, considers him a worthy leader.

WHILE THE US has made a giant jump to the left, Israel is about to jump even
further to the right.

Anyone who saw the millions milling around Washington on inauguration day
knows that Obama was not speaking only for himself. He was expressing the
aspirations of his people, the Zeitgeist.

Between the mental world of Obama and the mental world of Liberman and
Netanyahu there is no bridge. Between Obama and Barak and Livni, too, there
yawns an abyss. Post-election Israel may find itself on a collision course
with post-election America.

Where are the American Jews? The overwhelming majority of them voted for
Obama. They will be between the hammer and the anvil - between their
government and their natural adherence to Israel. It is reasonable to assume
that this will exert pressure from below on the "leaders" of American Jewry,
who have incidentally never been elected by anyone, and on organizations
like AIPAC. The sturdy stick, on which Israeli leaders are used to lean in times
of trouble, may prove to be a broken reed.

Europe, too, is not untouched by the new winds. True, at the end of the war
we saw the leaders of Europe - Sarkozy, Merkel, Browne and Zapatero -
sitting like schoolchildren behind a desk in class, respectfully listening to the
most loathsome arrogant posturing from Ehud Olmert, reciting his text after
him. They seemed to approve the atrocities of the war, speaking of the
Qassams and forgetting about the occupation, the blockade and the
settlements. Probably they will not hang this picture on their office walls.

But during this war masses of Europeans poured into the streets to
demonstrate against the horrible events. The same masses saluted Obama on
the day of his inauguration.

This is the new world. Perhaps our leaders are now dreaming of the slogan:
"Stop the world, I want to get off!" But there is no other world.

YES, WE ARE NOW on the wrong side of history.

Fortunately, there is also another Israel. It is not in the limelight, and its
voice is heard only by those who listen out for it. This is a sane, rational
Israel, with its face to the future, to progress and peace. In these coming
elections, its voice will barely be heard, because all the old parties are
standing with their two feet squarely in the world of yesterday.

But what has happened in the United States will have a profound influence on
what happens in Israel. The huge majority of Israelis know that we cannot
exist without close ties with the US. Obama is now the leader of the world,
and we live in this world. When he promises to work "aggressively" for peace
between us and the Palestinians, that is a marching order for us.

We want to be on the right side of history. That will take months or years,
but I am sure that we shall get there. The time to start is now.

Indypendent: Jewish Rebels Rally Against Zionism

By Alex Kane
From the February 6, 2009 issue

Anti-Zionist activists blockade the entrance to the Marriott Marquis Hotel at 47th and Broadway in Manhattan. They were protesting a $1,500-per-plate fundraising dinner for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the nation’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization. Ten people were arrested during the action. PHOTO: VANESSA CHAN

Judy Rebick has received death threats, been screamed at, and been labeled a “self-hating Jew” for her outspokenness on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But that hasn’t stopped her participation in any of the many Jewish-led and supported actions during Israel’s latest incursion into the impoverished Gaza Strip in Palestine.

“For people who embrace a progressive Jewish vision, Israel is against everything we believe in,” Rebick said. “They’re violating the Jewish tradition of progressive struggle, and their claim of being a victim is wrong.”

Rebick, who holds the Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University and who founded rabble.ca, a progressive Canadian news website, was arrested along with seven other Jewish women after they occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto Jan. 8 in an action against the Israeli bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and wounded at least 5,000.

Jewish peace activists in Montreal, San Francisco and Los Angeles have staged similar demonstrations at Israeli Consulates, highlighting the many Jewish voices around the world that are speaking out against continued occupation and war in Palestine in what is often a bitter and polarizing debate.

In New York City, Jews Against the Occupation-NYC (JATO) dropped antiwar banners near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and near the U.S.S. Intrepid, and another group of New York City Jews hastily organized a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in New York Jan. 12 that drew around 1,000 people. On Jan. 29, 10 anti-Zionist activists, two of them Jewish and most of them college students, were arrested while trying to blockade the entrance to a Midtown hotel that was the site of a $1,500-per-plate benefit for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the nation’s leading pro-Israel lobbying group.

“[Israel] is the state that purports to be our homeland, and whether we feel that it is or not … its actions somehow reflect on Jews in general,” said Alisa Solomon, co-editor of Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and a contributing editor to the WBAI radio show “Beyond the Pale: Radical Jewish Culture and Politics.”“It’s a very dubious and dangerous collapse when ‘Jew’ and ‘Israel’ are conflated,” Solomon said. “Anti-Semites do it a lot, and unfortunately, powers of the Israeli state do it as well.”

And while being a Jew who forcefully speaks out against Israel’s actions continues to be a minority position within the larger Jewish community, there is something of a generational shift among younger Jews away from attachment to Israel. According to a 2007 National Survey of American Jews, 54 percent of Jews younger than 35 are “comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state,” compared to 81 percent of Jews older than 65, who grew up with the memory of the Holocaust fresh in their minds.

“The shift is going to happen slowly in the Jewish community, very slowly,” said Ethan Heitner, 25, an activist with JATO and Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East. “There are starting to be cracks in the Zionist hegemonic viewpoint on things … [Activism] has to continue, it has to keep growing, even when things get quiet.”

Michael Letwin of New York City Labor Against the War supports terminating U.S. aid to Israel as well as a nascent divestment and sanctions movement against Israel modeled on the one that confronted apartheid South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. He says he lost the presidency of his union, the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys UAW Local 2325, in the year after 9/11 due to his anti-Zionist views. Still he insists it is crucial for progressive Jews to speak out despite the possible consequences. “It’s very hard to be an anti-Zionist in this country … but there is space,” he said. “And to the extent that we can open that space, and keep pushing the envelope, I think there’s more opportunity sometimes than we think there is.”

Letwin also stresses the importance of Jewish activists doing Palestine solidarity work engaging in open and constructive dialogue with Jews who believe in Zionism and support the state of Israel.

“There’s no point in just speaking to people who are already convinced. We have to show our support for people who are already convinced … but that’s only the beginning, not the end,” said Letwin. “We’ve got to talk to people that aren’t already convinced, who don’t know anything about it, or if they’re Jewish and have a totally distorted view.”

Partnerships between Jews and Palestinians who protest Israel’s occupation are also essential “to break this myth that there’s no relationships available between these groups of people,” said Flo Razowsky, the U.S. coordinator for the International Anti-Zionist Jewish Network, an organization that was a key player in the Israeli Consulate actions in California. Razowsky, 34, was once the president of a Zionist youth group. She says she had a “strong relationship to Israel.”

“The simplest way to put it is to make an analogy between white-skinned people doing anti-racist work [with] Jews doing anti-Zionist work. … [Zionism] is a deadly form of racism based on a very specific identity,” Razowsky said.

Auschwitz survivor: "I can identify with Palestinian youth"

By Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 2 June 2009

Hajo Meyer, author of the book The End of Judaism, was born in Bielefeld, in Germany, in 1924. In 1939, he fled on his own at age 14 to the Netherlands to escape the Nazi regime, and was unable to attend school. A year later, when the Germans occupied the Netherlands he lived in hiding with a poorly forged ID. Meyer was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp a week later. He is one of the last survivors of Auschwitz.

Adri Nieuwhof:What would you like to say to introduce yourself to EI's readers?

Hajo Meyer: I had to quit grammar school in Bielefeld after the Kristallnacht [the two-day pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany], in November 1938. It was a terrible experience for an inquisitive boy and his parents. Therefore, I can fully identify with the Palestinian youth that are hampered in their education. And I can in no way identify with the criminals who make it impossible for Palestinian youth to be educated.

AN: What motivated you to write your book, The End of Judaism?

HM: In the past, the European media have written extensively about extreme right-wing politicians like Joerg Haider in Austria and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. But when Ariel Sharon was elected [prime minister] in Israel in 2001, the media remained silent. But in the 1980s I understood the deeply fascist thinking of these politicians. With the book I wanted to distance myself from this. I was raised in Judaism with the equality of relationships among human beings as a core value. I only learned about nationalist Judaism when I heard settlers defend their harassment of Palestinians in interviews. When a publisher asked me to write about my past, I decided to write this book, in a way, to deal with my past. People of one group who dehumanize people who belong to another group can do this, because they either have learned to do so from their parents, or they have been brainwashed by their political leaders. This has happened for decades in Israel in that they manipulate the Holocaust for their political aims. In the long-run the country is destructing itself this way by inducing their Jewish citizens to become paranoid. In 2005 [then Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon illustrated this by saying in the Knesset [the Israeli parliament], we know we cannot trust anyone, we only can trust ourselves. This is the shortest possible definition of somebody who suffers from clinical paranoia. One of the major annoyances in my life is that Israel by means of trickery calls itself a Jewish state, while in fact it is Zionist. It wants the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians. I have four Jewish grandparents. I am an atheist. I share the Jewish socio-cultural inheritance and I have learned about Jewish ethics. I don't wish to be represented by a Zionist state. They have no idea about the Holocaust. They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children.

AN: In your book you write about the lessons you have learned from your past. Can you explain how your past influenced your perception of Israel and Palestine?

HM: I have never been a Zionist. After the war, Zionist Jews spoke about the miracle of having "our own country." As a confirmed atheist I thought, if this is a miracle by God, I wished that he had performed the smallest miracle imaginable by creating the state 15 years earlier. Then my parents would not have been dead.

I can write up an endless list of similarities between Nazi Germany and Israel. The capturing of land and property, denying people access to educational opportunities and restricting access to earn a living to destroy their hope, all with the aim to chase people away from their land. And what I personally find more appalling then dirtying one's hands by killing people, is creating circumstances where people start to kill each other. Then the distinction between victims and perpetrators becomes faint. By sowing discord in a situation where there is no unity, by enlarging the gap between people -- like Israel is doing in Gaza.

AN: In your book you write about the role of Jews in the peace movement in and outside Israel, and Israeli army refuseniks. How do you value their contribution?

HM: Of course it is positive that parts of the Jewish population of Israel try to see Palestinians as human beings and as their equals. However, it disturbs me how paper-thin the number is that protests and is truly anti-Zionist. We get worked up by what happened in Hitler's Germany. If you expressed only the slightest hint of criticism at that time, you ended up in the Dachau concentration camp. If you expressed criticism, you were dead. Jews in Israel have democratic rights. They can protest in the streets, but they don't.

AN: Can you comment on the news that Israeli ministers approved a draft law banning commemoration of the Nakba, or the dispossession of historic Palestine? The law proposes punishment of up to three years in prison.

HM: It is so racist, so dreadful. I am at a loss for words. It is an expression of what we already know. [The Israeli Nakba commemoration organization] Zochrot was founded to counteract Israeli efforts to wipe out the marks that are a reminder of Palestinian life. To forbid Palestinians to publicly commemorate the Nakba. ... they cannot act in a more Nazi-like, fascist way. Maybe it will help to awaken the world.

AN: What are your plans for the future?

HM: [Laughs] Do you know how old I am? I am almost 85 years old. I always say cynically and with self-mockery that I have a choice: either I am always tired because I want to do so much, or I am going to sit still waiting for the time to go by. Well, I plan to be tired, because I have still so much to say.

Adri Nieuwhof is consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.

Why Israeli Jew Uri Davis joined Fatah to save Palestine

The first Jewish member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah talks about a unique political journey

  • The Observer, Sunday 23 August 2009
Uri Davis, left, at a Fatah meeting in Ramallah

Uri Davis, left, at a Fatah meeting in Ramallah. Photograph: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

Uri Davis is used to denunciations. A "traitor", "scum", "mentally unstable": those are just some of the condemnations that have been posted in the Israeli blogosphere in recent days. As the first person of Jewish origin to be elected to the Revolutionary Council of the Palestinian Fatah movement, an organisation once dominated by Yasser Arafat, Davis has tapped a deep reserve of Israeli resentment. Some have even called for him to be deported.

He has been here before, not least as the man who first proposed the critique of Israel as an "apartheid state" in the late 1980s. Davis's involvement in the first UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001 was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League. During a career of protest he has been described – inevitably – as a "self-hating Jew". He calls himself an "anti-Zionist". And his personal history is a fascinating testimony to the troubled history of the postwar Israeli left and forgotten trajectories in the story of Israel itself.

The man elected to the Revolutionary Council in 31st place from a field of 600 has been as much shaped by the tidal forces of recent Jewish history – not least his own family's sufferings in the Holocaust – as any fellow citizen of Israel. But he disputes a largely manufactured account of that experience that he believes has been used deliberately "to camouflage" its "apartheid programme". Now he enjoys an extraordinary mandate to explain his own views. And he hopes, too, that just as the small number of white members of the ANC widened its legitimacy during the apartheid era in South Africa, other Jews can be attracted to participate in Fatah, transforming it into a broader-based movement that stands for equal rights for both Arabs and Jews in a federated state.

So what does Davis believe, and  why? His father was a British Jew who met his mother, a Czech, in British Mandatory Palestine in the mid-1930s, where they married in 1939, four years before his birth. While his mother escaped the transports to the gas chambers at Auschwitz, many in her family did not. It is a familiar story in Israel. But the lesson that Davis learnt from it was different from the vast majority of Jews who concluded that never again could Jews depend on others to guarantee their security from persecution.

"An important part of the education that I received from my parents," Davis recalled last week, "was never to generalise. To beware of every sentence that begins with 'all'. It was not 'all' Germans who killed my mother's family. It was some Nazis." Another distinction was emphasised by his mother. "If she heard the suggestion of vengeance, she would be horrified. She sought justice. One of the biggest problems addressing a Zionist audience is that the distinction between justice and vengeance has collapsed."

He is 66 now, but that warning from his parents on the risk of demonising the Other still resonates in Davis's language. He is insistent that generalities should be avoided, not least the "normative idea all Israelis are exposed to: that all Arabs hate the Jews and all Arabs want to drive the Jews into the sea".

His own self-description is a case in point, fine-tuned over the decades. "It has gone through a number of stages. In my autobiography in the mid-1990s I described myself as a Palestinian Jew. That has now changed to a Palestinian Hebrew of Jewish origins." How he frames his own identity is part of his attempt to impose an "alternative narrative" to the one that has dominated Israel since its foundation in 1948 by what he describes as "a settler-colonialist" strand of Zionism built on a massive act of "ethnic cleansing". That moment – known as the "Nakba", or the catastrophe to Arabs – saw the flight of 650,000-750,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes by Jewish forces.

Davis is careful with his definitions of both "Zionism" and his own "anti-Zionism". The Zionism that he opposes is the "political Zionism" of Israel's founders, the Zionism that amounts, he says, to land grab based on ethnic cleansing.

Davis himself insists on reclaiming a wider meaning for the word, not least because he was shaped, as he grew up, by a different school: the "spiritual Zionism" of thinkers such as Ahad Ha'am, religious philosopher Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, co-founder of Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

In contrast to political Zionism, which saw Jewish statehood alone as a solution to the Jewish question, these spiritual Zionists believed Palestine could not accommodate a Jewish homeland but should become a national spiritual centre that would support and reinvigorate the Jewish diaspora.

Davis has written how his own "intellectual and moral development was profoundly influenced by Buber's writings" although he has fiercely condemned Buber's later actions, not least Buber's appropriation of a house in Jerusalem belonging to the family of the late Palestinian activist and writer Edward Said.

Then there was Leon Roth, one of his father's relatives and a fellow professor of Buber at the new Hebrew University. Roth resigned his post after witnessing the treatment of the Palestinian Arabs in the creation of Israel and returned to Cambridge.

But if these were formative influences on Davis, it is how he interpreted what he saw growing up in the young state of Israel that marked him out as different. Reading Gandhi and Martin Luther King led him to a pacifist position that saw him refuse military service in the 1960s, at a time when it was almost unheard of. He was eventually assigned to "alternative" service working on a kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip.

"I refused to participate in the armed patrols of the kibbutz fence on the border and that led to daily shouting matches. Then one of the members took me to the periphery of the kibbutz where there was a cluster of eucalyptus trees. He said: 'What can you see?' And I said trees. Then he took me into the wood and showed me a pile of stones. He asked me what I could see and I said: 'A pile of stones.' He said: 'No. This is the [Arab] village of Dirma. Its residents are refugees while we cultivate their land. Now do you understand why they hate us and want to drive us into the sea?

"And I said, 'But there is an alternative. We could invite them back and share it with them.'" He pauses. "If looks could kill. I saw that he saw me as a hopeless case. And I'm proud to say I'm still that hopeless case."

Davis experienced a second moment of epiphany decades later during the first Gulf war, when Iraq was firing Scud missiles at Israel – a moment of insight related to an unresolved question from his childhood. "I was born in Jerusalem, but I grew up on a farm near Herziliya. I would walk with my peers down to the beach and pass the ruins of an Arab village under the shadow of a mosque that was still intact. And the dominant narrative deleted the reality. The elders of my community said they had pleaded with the elders of the Arab village to stay. And the elders of the Arab village refused. I had no way to challenge this for decades.

"During the first Gulf war the penny dropped. The mayor of Tel Aviv was abusing all those residents who had fled under the threat from Scuds. After the war ended, the families returned. They used their keys. Put their cash cards in the ATMs. Re-opened their shops. What was significant was that no one said to them: anyone who has left has lost their property rights. That was my second crossroads."

Davis published Israel: An Apartheid State in 1987. He distinguishes between racism and apartheid, which, he argues, requires not simply an official value system that distinguishes on a racial basis but a legal reality. Indeed, Davis has written that it is wrong to single out Israel on the grounds that it is more racist than other states in the UN. Rather he believes it should be singled out because, as he wrote in a letter to Al-Ahram newspaper in 2003, "it applies the force of law to compel its citizens to make racial choices, first and foremost in all matters pertaining to access to land, housing and freedom of residence".

Davis's lifetime of dissent has not been without consequences. After joining Fatah, Davis began a long period of "de facto exile" at the suggestion of his lawyer to avoid a show trial. He taught during that time at a number of British universities, including Bradford, Exeter and Durham.

Returning to Israel and the Occupied Territories in the mid-1990s, following the Oslo Accords, Davis struggled for years to secure an appointment at an Israeli academic institution. " I kept my affiliation with Exeter and Durham, which helped me with periodical research that they farmed out to me. I also had an inheritance." It was only recently that he was appointed to teach a course at the Palestinian Al-Quds university on critical Israeli studies.

His marriage in 2008 to a Palestinian woman has not made life easier for him. She has been denied a permit to live in Israel, while Davis is forbidden by Israeli law to live in an area under Palestinian authority control as an Israeli citizen. In consequence, he is vague both about the circumstances of his conversion to Islam shortly before the wedding and where he now lives, describing those arrangements as "private".

What does he hope to achieve as a Palestinian Hebrew who is a full member of the Revolutionary Council?

His core message, he explains, is "to suggest" to his new colleagues that there is nothing to fear in recognising the notion of a Jewish state. "The correct response is that we will not recognise an Israel defined by political Zionism." And perhaps just as importantly, Davis believes that Fatah can expand its role from representing only Palestinian Arabs to representing all of those who oppose "settler-colonialism".

"It cannot win the struggle for equality that it has waged for so long as long as it remains only representative of Palestinians. To win the moral [high ground] it has to project itself as a democratic alternative for all. That is the message I first delivered and that I have persevered with and has led to my election to the Revolutionary Council after 25 years." It seems unlikely that condemnations on Israeli websites will prevent Uri Davis from giving up on his unique mission now.

Versions of Zionism

Zionism Coined by Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937) in 1890, who also first articulated the idea of political Zionism.

Political Zionism Associated most closely with Theodor Herzl (1860 - 1904), who saw the Jewish issue as a political one requiring action in the international arena.

Spiritual Zionism Associated with Ahad Ha'am (1856-1927). Believed Judaism needed to reinvigorate its cultural assets. Argued for limited settlement in Palestine and focused on educational activity.

Revisionist Zionism Associated with Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky (1880-1940). Argued for a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan.

Modern Zionism According to the Anti-Defamation League: "Zionism stands for a safe and secure Israel open to all Jews seeking refuge and a Jewish homeland, the preservation of Judaism and Jewish people." Its harshest critics - like Uri Davis - argue that the dominant form of political zionism since the foundation of Israel in 1948 represents "settler-colonialist" project.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

Uri Davis: perpetual thorn in Israel's side


By Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 21 August 2009

If a single person deserves the title of serial thorn in the side of the Israeli state, Uri Davis, a professor of critical Israel studies at al-Quds University on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, might be the one to claim it.

The crowning moment for Dr. Davis arrived last weekend when he became the first Israeli Jew to be elected to one of Fatah's governing bodies, the Revolutionary Council.

It is a public relations breakthrough for Fatah -- which held its sixth congress last week, this time under occupation in the West Bank city of Bethlehem -- in which Dr. Davis clearly takes some pride.

His presence on the 120-member council, sometimes referred to as the Palestinian parliament, is unlikely to make a significant difference to Fatah's policies, which will continue to be largely dictated by Mahmoud Abbas, the president, and his inner circle. But it does have huge symbolic significance.

His polling in the 31st place for one of 80 seats contested by more than 600 Fatah members, he said in an interview, challenged Israel's suggestion that the Palestinian people and its leaders regard the Jews as their enemies.

Or as one local Palestinian pundit noted of the vote's message: "It is not Judaism that Palestinians are fighting, it is Zionism."

It also finally puts Dr. Davis in a position from which he hopes to shake up the complacency that has bedeviled the Fatah leadership and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in their neglect of supporters outside the Palestinian fold.

"In my view [Fatah] is conducting a struggle with one hand tied behind its back," he said, sipping Arabic coffee in the garden of St. George's cathedral in East Jerusalem.

"The PLO represents a democratic alternative for all, including the current colonizer people, the current perpetrator of war crimes and crimes against humanity," he said in reference to Israel and its Jewish population. "In the 25 years since my joining the Fatah and PLO, this message has been marginalized. The mainstream went another direction, the Oslo accords direction."

He is loath to discuss the current tensions between Fatah and Hamas, claiming it is "not my area of competence." However, he denounces Hamas for fanning the threat of civil war.

His chief task, he said, will be to push Fatah to become a broad-based resistance movement modeling itself on the African National Congress, which brought down apartheid in South Africa.

The reference to South Africa is not unexpected. Dr. Davis started describing Israel as an apartheid state in the early 1980s, long before it had become fashionable even on the far left.

His most recent book is Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, published in 2003, in which he argues that discrimination against Palestinians is embedded in Israeli law and sets out what he regards as the four classes of citizenship established by Israel's parliament.

The country's six million Jews, he said, occupied the most privileged place in this hierarchy, followed by the country's one million-strong Palestinian minority with its second-class citizenship. Lagging behind both are a quarter of a million refugees living inside Israel, who are stripped of their right to inherit property, and in final place come a further five million refugees who had their and their descendants' citizenship nullified after the 1948 war.

Over the years, Dr. Davis has experienced life in each of these categories.

He was raised an Ashkenazi Jew in Jerusalem and schooled in Kfar Shemaryahu, a wealthy suburb of Tel Aviv. He then spent a decade in exile from Israel starting in 1984, after his recruitment to Fatah by one of the founders of the PLO, Khalil al-Wazir, known as Abu Jihad.

He ran the party's London bureau until the mid-1990s, when he was allowed to return under the Oslo accords. He surprised friends by choosing to move to Sakhnin, a Palestinian community in northern Israel, from which he led a campaign against laws and practices that force Jewish and Palestinian citizens to live almost entirely apart.

He is more circumspect about discussing his current circumstances. His marriage to a Palestinian woman from Ramallah a year ago, his fourth, violated yet another Israeli taboo.

Before the ceremony he converted to Islam, though he continues to describe himself as a "Palestinian Hebrew of Jewish origin."

While he admits to no longer living in Israel, he is wary of saying more, possibly for good reason: it is against Israeli law for an Israeli citizen to be living in an area under the Palestinian Authority control. Equally, his wife, Miyassar, has been denied a permit to live in Israel, as is the case for almost all Palestinians in the occupied territories. A perfect illustration of the apartheid nature of the Israeli state, he said.

The plight of the Palestinians under occupation has come into much sharper focus since his marriage.

Last month, he had to watch the indignities heaped on his wife after her brother, suffering from cancer, was transferred to a hospital in East Jerusalem, which is illegally annexed to Israel. She was denied a visitor's permit and could only hear about her brother's slow demise from Dr. Davis and friends.

"This situation is not unique to my family, of course. It is part of the cruelty perpetrated by the occupation authorities against the mass of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza."

Dr. Davis has yet to find out how Israel will respond to his regular attendance at Revolutionary Council meetings in Ramallah.

He said his election had been greeted with an outpouring of support both internationally and from the broader Jewish community that has surprised him. The main hostility has come during interviews with the Israeli media, which have taken offense at "my language referring to Israel as an apartheid state, to Zionism as a settler colonial project, to the criminality of the Israeli leadership."

His unpopularity among the majority of Israeli Jews is likely to grow as he uses his new platform at the Revolutionary Council to push for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

The ultimate goal, he said, was the enforcement of United Nations resolutions that would in practice bring about a one-state solution.

Dr. Davis concluded the interview with a story about the defining moment in his disillusionment with Israel and Zionism. He was doing alternative civilian service in the early 1960s guarding the perimeter fence of a kibbutz, one of Israel's collective agricultural communities, on the edge of Gaza. As a pacifist at that time, he refused to carry a gun.

After one of many shouting matches, an exasperated kibbutz member led him into a eucalyptus grove inside the fence and pointed to piles of stones. "Those aren't stones, they're the ruins of a village called Dimra. Our kibbutz is cultivating the lands of Dimra," he told the teenage Davis. "The families are refugees on the other side of this fence [in Gaza]. Now do you understand why all the Arabs must hate Jews and want to throw us into the sea?"

Dr. Davis says he understood better the look he was shot by the man when he replied that the kibbutz members should invite the refugees back to share the agricultural land.

That way, the young Davis suggested, the kibbutz could "turn an enemy into a friend."

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

A version of this article originally appeared in
The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

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