Newsletter 30 Oct 2008
CAMPAIGN against the building of a Museum of Tolerance on the site of a Muslim Cemetery in the heart of Jerusalem
a) The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme’s international conference sabotaged at short notice
b) Breaking the blockade again – the voyage of the DIGNITY
c) Gaza’s economic lifeline
A Museum of Tolerance built on top of a Muslim Cemetery in Jerusalem? Hard to Believe?
It must be stopped!!!!
Join the Campaign
Can you even imagine the possibility of the State of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality building a Museum of Tolerance on the site of a Muslim Cemetery in the heart of Jerusalem? Well it is happening. We tried to fight it in court but we lost. Imagine what would happen if someone in Europe – in Germany or Austria for instance, tried to build a Museum of Tolerance on top of Jewish graves.
The legal battle has been lost, now we must move on to the political battle. We must prevent this museum from being built on that site. Jerusalem will never be a city of peace if this is allowed to move forward.
Jerusalem is the one city in the world where there is a real potential to demonstrate that Jews, Christians and Muslims can live together in peace, understanding and real tolerance. Jerusalem is the place where we can learn to celebrate the diversities of our civilizations. If the construction of this museum is allowed to resume on top of a Muslim cemetery of religious and historical importance in the center of Jerusalem, this Holy city, will never realize its potential.
For the peace of Jerusalem, for the chance of peace, understanding and tolerance between Jews, Muslims and Christians we must stop this dangerous act.
We call on the Government of Israel and the Municipality of Jerusalem to stop the construction of the Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in name of public safety and in protection of the reputation of the State of Israel and the safety of Jews all around the world.
We call on Jerusalemites, Israelis and Palestinians to join our campaign.
We call on the candidates for Mayor of Jerusalem and for the Jerusalem City Council to speak out during the remaining days of the campaign – promise us that you won’t let this Museum be built in the Mamilla Cemetery.
We call on the Chief Rabbis of Israel not to let this shame on Judaism take place. In the name of Judaism, do not allow this Museum to built on top of Muslim graves.
We call on Israelis and Palestinians alike to send letters to your Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers urging them to stop the construction of the Museum in that location.
We call on Jews all over to write to the Wiesenthal Center Director Rabbi Hier urging him to change the location of the Museum. We urge Jews everywhere to write to the Government of Israel voice your objection to building a Museum of Tolerance on top of Muslim graves.
We call on Rabbis around the world to join the campaign. We are looking for several Rabbis who will coordinate organizing a Rabbis letter against the building of the Museum over Muslim graves.
We call on citizens of the world to join the campaign – raise your voices, – write to your own governments urging them to pressure the Israeli government to cease the construction of the Museum in that location.
Useful addresses and contacts:
President Marvin Hier, Dean, Wiesenthal Center
President Shimon Peres
Prime Minister Olmert
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
Mayor of Jerusalem
Sfardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel
President Mahmoud Abbas
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
Fax: ++972-2- 295-0970
Foreign Minister Riad Malki
Fax: ++970-2-240-3372 or ++972-2-240-3372
The pieces below about the issue are on JfJfP’s website:
(a) ISRAEL’S SUPREME COURT RULES CENTER FOR HUMAN DIGNITY-MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE JERUSALEM CAN BUILD ON WEST JERUSALEM SITE
(b) Site for J’lem tolerance museum okayed – Oct. 29, 2008 – Etgar Lefkovits , THE JERUSALEM POST
(c) From the Weisenthal Center Web site
(d) from July 2007 – Jews outraged by construction at site of famed Vilnius cemetery By Dinah A. Spritzer
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme’s International Conference, “Siege and Mental Health: Walls vs. Bridges”
This conference had been planned for the past year. A fortnight before it was due to take place the Israeli authorities banned international participants from being able to enter Gaza. The conference had to be shifted, at short notice, to a new venue in Ramallah – where most of the Gazan participants would not be able to attend, and where internationals would be denied any understanding of the situation on the ground.
GCMHP issued a press release on 20th October protesting at this arbitrary interference. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel organised a protest meeting/press conference with some of the international participants in Jerusalem on 26th October.
You can see these documents at http://www.jfjfp.org/background0_misc/background_GCMHP_0810.htm
The siege of Gaza has been broken again with yet another boat, the DIGNITY, sailing in from Cyprus on 28th October.
The story can be told briefly, in extracts from recent press releases. But they’re worth reading in full, to see the courage, commitment, the hope – and the triumph of all those who have committed themselves to providing a regular lifeline to Gaza.
YES, WE ARE COMING
On Saturday, October 25, 2008, the Free Gaza Movement sent our formal notice to Israel, the Occupying Power in the Gaza Strip, that we intend to enter the port of Gaza City on October 29. We expect no interference from the Israeli authorities. Although our message acknowledges Israel’s control over Gaza, we do not accept Israel’s right to prevent us from sailing into the Gaza Strip.
Israel Threatens to Forcibly Stop Us
We are returning to Gaza for exactly the same reasons we came in August: to deliver medical supplies, meet with civil society organizations, volunteer in hospitals, and visit Palestinians who have requested our presence.
The Free Gaza Movement would like to make it clear that we do not wish nor do we seek any confrontation with Israel. We have already invited Israeli Foreign Minister Aharon Abramovitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to join us on our voyage as long as they remain nonviolent. In August, we invited Tsipi Livni to accompany us.
We’ve done it again
LARNACA – The Free Gaza Movement is delighted to announce that their third boat, the SS Dignity carrying 27 crew and passengers arrived in Gaza at 8:10 Gaza time, in spite of Israeli threats to stop them. In the pouring rain, the boat pulled into port amid cheers from the people of Gaza and tears from the passengers.
Follow the full story on the Free Gaza website at http://www.freegaza.org/
Photos freely available (no copyright) of the launch, etc.: www.flickr.com/photos/29205195@N02/
‘My descent into Gaza’s smuggling underworld’ by Donald MacIntyre in the Independent reports how the tunnels under the border with Egypt provide an economic lifeline for the besieged Gazan economy.
An extraordinary article by Donald Macintyre reveals the extent to which Palestinians locked in to Gaza have been able to respond with the construction of a dense network of tunnels through which ‘everything people lack in Gaza … – from diesel fuel, clothing, chocolate, cigarettes and potato chips to cattle and Chinese-made motorcycles’ – can be imported.
One of the tunnel builders, Karim, when asked about arms being brought insisted: “There is no market for them… There is a truce with Israel, there isn’t fighting between Hamas and Fatah, and there are enough weapons in Gaza already.”
Full article at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/my-descent-into-gazas-smuggling-underworld-972788.html
The Olive harvest
The olive harvest is underway and so, too, is the usual harassment by settlers, effectively protected by the Israeli army.
a) Gush Shalom ad published in Ha’aretz on 24th October 2008:
Again and again the settlers
Attack Palestinian olive pickers.
The army and police look on
Or declare a “closed military area”
And drive the Palestinians out.
Soldiers and policemen who dare
To confront the settlers
Are themselves attacked
With no backing from their officers.
If we don’t end the occupation –
The settlers will occupy us, too.
b) Ocha has produced a factsheet on the importance of the olive harvest to the Palestinian economy
c) Seth Freedman ‘The West Bank’s olive harvest is in full swing, and so are the settlers’ clubs and the soldiers’ batons’
Freedman writes in the Guardian, Comment is Free, 23rd October:
‘The olive harvest is in full swing at the moment; so too are the settlers’ clubs and the soldiers’ batons, as they do their level best to impede the farmers’ attempts to harvest their meagre crops the length and breadth of the Occupied Territories. I went to the tiny hamlet of Izzmut this week, unhappily situated alongside the settlement of Elon Moreh, from whose borders emanate almost daily attacks by settlers hell bent on disrupting the proceedings…’
d) The Settlers’ War against Palestinian Farmers During Olive Harvest, Ahmad Jaradat, Alternative Information Center (AIC) 23 October 2008
Jaradat opens his article with these words:
‘On Monday, 20 October, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned as “thugs” Israeli settlers who have been committing attacks against Palestinians farmers across the West Bank, during the ongoing olive harvest. One important factor Barak failed to mention, however, is that most of the settler attacks have been taking place within sight of Israeli soldiers, and in many cases these aggressions have occurred with cooperation and coordination between the soldiers and settlers…
According to human rights reports, settler attacks against Palestinian farmers occur throughout the year; settlers burn, cut and uproot trees, and attack farmers in their fields. However, during the olive harvest period, these attacks enter into a systematic and organized phase that critically affects the farmers due to the short window of the harvest period of three weeks, after which crops could be lost completely…
e) Arik Asherman of Rabbis for Human Rights has written a Letter to Border Police Officer in Na’alin[Ni’lin]:
‘After you understood that that the army knew that Israelis were coming to help Palestinians from Na’alin harvest their olives on lands soon to be on the ‘Israeli’ side of the Separation Barrier, you were so easy to work with. You took off your helmet and I saw a human being. We set rules, exchanged mobile phone numbers so there would be no communication problems, and the harvest proceeded without any problems until the end of the day. However, a few minutes before that your face had been a cold, hard, impassive and threatening mask, your words had been domineering barks, and you gave the orders to fire tear gas and stun grenades at us …
f) And finally, a bit of history, revealing something of the early days in the war against the Palestinian farmers and landowners …
The Makings of History / Secrets of the olive trees
Tom Segev writes about the work of geographer Noga Kadman who, researching the early history of the state of Israel ‘began with the assumption that the Arab villages were pushed to the margins of Israeli discourse. But when she examined internal newsletters and anniversary publications put out by kibbutzim and moshavim that had been established on the remains of these villages, she discovered an attitude of possessiveness and few moral qualms: There is no shame in living in Arabs’ houses, but it isn’t pleasant to mention the Arabs themselves. It is as though their history and their way of life had never existed. The takeover of the abandoned villages is often described as part of the effort to make the wilderness bloom.’