Welcome for Palestinians at UN from Jewish groups
The JfJfP wishes to be associated with this statement from IJV
Independent Jewish Voices
In keeping with our support for a fair and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Independent Jewish Voices welcomes the Palestinian initiative at the United Nations. We see it as a legitimate demand for fuller recognition on the world stage and as an affirmation of Palestinian nationhood.
At the same time it is clear that it is not an end in itself. It leaves many questions unanswered and problems unresolved – the continuing occupation, the need for free and fair elections in the West Bank and Gaza, the status of the Palestinian diaspora. Nonetheless it provides the only current opportunity to break the long-standing deadlock. We call on all parties – including the British and Israeli governments, and fellow Jews – to express their support.
on behalf of IJV Steering Group
By Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle
Yachad, the alternative Israel campaign group, has come out in favour of United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood.
Hannah Weisfeld, director of the organisation which launched in the UK earlier this year, said that it would prefer recognition of a Palestinian state to be “the end product of a negotiated settlement, rather than its starting point”.
But she went on: “Given the stalemate in the current peace-process, and acknowledging the political reality within the General Assembly, we believe it represents an historic opportunity to advance and expedite the peace process, which will guarantee Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state.
“To be recognised as a state will require the Palestinian leadership to take on the obligations of behaving like a state. This is clearly in Israel’s long-term interest.
“Now is the moment for European governments to boldly stand up, and with imaginative and creative thinking, help drive forward a resolution to the conflict.”
The Board of Deputies has lobbied against British support for any unilateral Palestinian independence bid.
Jesse Bacon, JVP
Today, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, presented a bid for the state of Palestine, based on the 1967 borders, to be considered by the Security Council for full membership in the United Nations.
Shortly afterward, he addressed the General Assembly, where he reviewed, from the 1948 Nakba until today, the multitude of ways in which Israel has suppressed Palestinians’ rights. While the question remains if the UN statehood bid adequately addresses the larger issue of Palestinian rights, Abbas’ address importantly gave voice to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. While there is no uniform support for this UN bid, today was undoubtedly a historic and moving day. After over 63 years struggling for global recognition, it was moving to see the countries of the world represented in the UN general assembly give President Abbas a rousing standing ovation.
Not so for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who spoke shortly after Abbas. Netanyahu responded to the Palestinian leader with diversion and doublespeak instead of honest engagement, and peace slogans couched in hostility, aggression, and denial of Palestinian claims—a continuation of the standard Israeli tactic. We know from history that this empty rhetoric has been used by Israeli government for decades and will only mean further pain and oppression for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and all over the world.
As a Jewish-American organization, we believe it is important to remain focused on our primary responsibility: having an impact on U.S. policy. As such, we will continue to speak out strongly against the U.S. using its veto power in the Security Council to reject this bid for statehood.
We know now that President Obama will not do the right thing. Speaking at the UN on Wednesday, Obama lauded the Arab Spring—but rejected the Palestinian Autumn. The president retreated from his earlier positions that demanded Israeli accountability for its military occupation, nor did he acknowledge the ongoing role of the U.S. in maintaining that imbalance through its extraordinary economic, military, and diplomatic support for Israel, even when its actions violate international law, human rights, and U.S. policy. And he didn’t acknowledge that twenty years of the “peace process” has brought only a more entrenched occupation. Instead, Obama merely said that both sides should “sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and fears.” (1)
While this week has not been an easy one, we at JVP actually feel a redoubled assurance in the promise of our strategy to change the dynamics on display this week at the United Nations. We know now, more than ever, that the President or Congress will not change on their own. The array of power and money is simply too strong—for now. We know, as with the examples of the civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid movement, to name just two, that it is movements like ours that force our governments to change their policies. It was the steadfastness, the creativity, the demonstrations, the local organizing, and the BDS tactics that helped these movements and so many others for social justice eventually succeed. So we’ll let the politicians play their games, and meanwhile, our work will continue.
1) National Journal: Obama’s Speech to the UN General Assembly, As Prepared
Smaller Pro-Israel Organizations Will Demonstrate
By Josh Nathan-Kazis, Jewish Forward
Despite the furor among Jews surrounding the Palestinians’ plan to push for statehood recognition at the United Nations, the Jewish establishment has no plans to protest when the U.N. General Assembly convenes in mid-September.
For mainstream Jewish groups, that is a significant shift from recent years. Moved by the threat to Israel that they see from Iran, Jewish groups have regularly used the occasion of the opening of the G.A. as a platform for protest. But though Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans once again to address the G.A., no such events are planned this year.
“It’s one thing to protest Ahmadinejad and the venom he annually spews at the U.N. That’s clear-cut,” said Martin Raffel, senior vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and project director of the Israel Action Network. But the Palestinian statehood vote “seemed more nuanced and required a more sophisticated response. It didn’t lend itself to a mass rally.”
So far, supporters of Palestinian statehood also have yet to announce a rally in New York to coincide with the introduction of the U.N. statehood bid. The only major pro-Palestinian protest announced so far calls for an end of U.S. aid to Israel, but not for immediate U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.
Last year, the American Jewish Committee and other Jewish groups collaborated with non-Jewish groups on a press conference with New York political leaders, warning of the threat posed by Iran. A separate event sponsored by the groups featured a massive Ahmadinejad puppet. In previous years, Jewish establishment groups have sponsored major protests against Iran at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, which is across the street from the U.N. Not this year. “There was just a general sentiment among the usual sponsors that, this year, we’re going to take a pass on a big public rally and pursue other avenues for sending our messages,” Raffel said. Raffel also said that security concerns around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks had contributed to the decision to forgo a major public event.
Instead of a rally, Raffel said that the Israel Action Network, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, is collecting signatures for a petition against a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood and supporting negotiations toward a two-state solution. He said that the group had already collected 70,000 signatures and expects to have 100,000 by the time the petitions are delivered to the U.N. on September 20.
But some Jewish activists haven’t gotten the Jewish establishment’s memo that the statehood bid isn’t an appropriate target for a rally.
Rabbi Avi Weiss, the activist rabbi who serves as spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, in the Bronx, plans to block traffic near the U.N. on September 20 in an act of protest.
“The message of the protest is two-fold,” said Glenn Richter, a onetime leader in the Soviet Jewry campaign and spokesman for AMCHA: The Coalition for Jewish Concerns, the Weiss-led activist group organizing the protest. “One, that the U.N. can’t have business as usual if business as usual is condemning, demonizing and delegitimizing Israel. And also that we oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.”
Weiss and others plan to block the intersection of 40th Street and First Avenue at 10 a.m. Richter said that he expects some protesters to be arrested.
“It would be nice to chain yourself to the gates of the U.N., but you can’t get that close, so you go as close as you can and you make an important statement,” Richter said.
On the pro-Palestinian side, a coalition of more than 50 activist organizations has called a rally for September 15 that will begin in Times Square and end at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The demonstration will support Palestinian rights and oppose American aid to Israel, but it will not support the P.A.’s bid for statehood.
“The current Palestinian Authority is unelected, and a number of international law experts question if the bid will have negative ramifications,” said Remi Kanazi, a Palestinian-American poet who was speaking for the coalition of activist groups. “We’re here to insist that what we need to do is focus on rights of Palestinian people.”
Kanazi said that the coalition behind the protest — which includes groups like Adalah-NY, Al Awda-NY and local chapters of Code Pink and Jewish Voice for Peace — consists of members who support both one-state and two-state solutions.
Sources said that a rally explicitly supporting the Palestinian statehood bid was being planned for September 23, but permits had yet to be secured and organizers were waiting to make a formal announcement.
Separately, the World Zionist Organization and the American Zionist Movement had planned to hold a rally near the U.N. in mid-September to protest a September 22 U.N. meeting to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban. Jewish groups have long criticized the conference as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. But here, too, the Jewish establishment stepped in. The anti-Durban rally was canceled after the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations suggested to the American Zionist Movement that a rally would be counterproductive.
AZM President William Hess said that the Presidents Conference, of which AZM is a member, urged AZM not to draw unneeded attention to the anniversary meeting, which the U.S. and several other governments have already announced they will boycott. Hess said that he, in turn, advised the WZO to cancel the rally. Instead, the two groups are holding a seminar on anti-Semitism and on efforts to question Israel’s legitimacy in the international arena.
But StandWithUs, a more militant pro-Israel group, has announced a rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on September 22 in opposition to the Durban anniversary meeting. On its website, the group advertises the protest as a “Circus Rally & Clown Parade.”
“The theme of this one is strictly that Durban III and the United Nations are a complete joke,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said.
Rothstein said she didn’t mind that Jewish establishment groups had decided not to protest the anniversary meeting over fears that protests could be counterproductive.
“To me, sometimes it doesn’t matter,” Rothstein said. “We’re willing to stand alone.
Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joshnathankazis