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.
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
Not in their names
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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
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
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
• 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
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
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)
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.
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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. email@example.com 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
A clear and present danger: An Israeli Call for Urgent Humanitarian Action in Gaza
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.
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
B'tselem -- The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
Atty. Sari Bashi
Gisha -- Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
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]
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.
· 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 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)
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.
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
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
Raz Bar-David Varon
Military ID 6000383
Military Prison No. 400
Military Postal Code 02447, IDF
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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,
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel.: ++972-3-6975540 or ++972-3-6975423
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
Another useful address for sending copies would be the Military
Chief Military Attorney
Military postal code 9605, IDF
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:
Commander of Induction Base,
Military Postal Code 02718, IDF
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
Here is a sample letter, which you can use, or better adapt,
in sending appeals to authorities on the prisoners' behalf:
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
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.
3. Letters to media in Israel and in other
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:
2 Karlibach st.
2 Moses st.
21 Schocken st.
Ha'aretz (English edition):
21 Schocken st.
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
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
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
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
“[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
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
“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.
The first Jewish member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah talks about a unique political journey
Sunday 23 August 2009
Uri Davis, left, at a Fatah meeting in Ramallah. Photograph: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images
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.
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
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.
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
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".
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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.
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?
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".
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
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.
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.
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"
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
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."