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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



No body gains from the siege of Gaza, no body has the political will to end it

Gaza represents the ultimate failure of politics

My visit to Gaza with Save the Children gave me a sense of life beyond the statistics. The international community must do more

By David Miliband, Comment is Free, Guardian

Government is all about statistics. But life is about people, and the disjunction between the two explains a lot about the cynicism and disaffection with politics. This is true for domestic policy, but also in international affairs, where the confusion and fatigue induced by distance is increased by the seemingly intractable nature of many of the problems.

The people who suffer are those who most need the attention of the world. This is notably true of the 1.5 million people crowded into the Gaza Strip, locked between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean sea.

The statistics say that 80% of the population are on UN food aid. The youth rate is 65%. The website of the United Nations office has a comprehensive database where you can see how many trucks, containing different kinds of supplies, have been allowed in by the Israeli authorities.

The situation of the people – or rather the fight about their situation – is periodically in the news, most recently when violence broke the otherwise reasonably effective ceasefire in August. But Gaza has become the land that time – and the wider international community – forgot.

It is for this reason that I took up the offer from Save the Children to visit the Gaza Strip. I had not been able to visit while in government for security reasons. Now I wanted to get a sense of life, not statistics. The purpose of the visit was not to meet politicians or decision-makers, but to get a glimpse, albeit brief, of life for the people.

And there is real life. Boys in western football shirts – mainly Lionel Messi of Barcelona. Restaurants overlooking the Mediterranean. Girls in white headscarves wherever you look coming back from school. Barbers, clothes shops, fruit stalls. And a good deal of traffic – with new cars smuggled in through tunnels underneath the Philadelphi route that runs along the Egyptian border.

But although life is real, it is traumatic and limited. We saw buildings – not just the former Hamas headquarters – still reduced to rubble. There are houses riddled with bullet holes. The electricity supply cuts out for up to eight hours a day. There are not enough schools or teachers, so there are classes of 50 or 60 and the school day is restricted to a few hours to allow for two or even three shifts.

The consequences of war are everywhere, nowhere more so than for those caught in the crossfire. We met the niece and son of a farmer caught in the “buffer zone” between the Israeli border and Gaza. She had lost an eye and he a hand to Israeli shells in the war of 2008-09.

Save the Children, obviously, is most concerned about the 53% of the Gaza population under 18. The statistics say 10% of children are “stunted” – so undernourished before the age of two that they never grow to their full potential.

We saw what Save the Children is trying to do about it, at a nutrition centre serving mothers and children in Gaza City. The needs are basic: promoting breastfeeding, health boosts for young children through food supplies, medical attention for mothers. But not all those who need help are coming to get it, so Save the Children funds outreach workers to go and encourage families to use the services.

There is remarkable work to create opportunity as well as prevent catastrophe. The Qattan Centre for the Child is a privately funded library, drama, computer and youth centre that would grace any British community. The director told me it was dedicated to a philosophy of “building people not buildings”. The centre is a true oasis.

The situation in Gaza represents the ultimate failure of politics. Nearly three years ago, after the Gaza war, the international community was preoccupied with opening up Gaza. Three years on, there is a stalemate – to match the wider stalemate in the wider search for a Palestinian state that can live alongside Israel.

The first responsibility is with Israel. The international call in the UN Gaza peace resolution, which Britain authored, on the Israeli government to open up the supply lines has been heeded only in small part. That is why the tunnels do such a roaring trade – which Hamas then taxes to fund its activities. So there is a real boomerang. In return, the Israeli government would retort that the parallel call in the resolution for the flow of arms into Gaza to be stopped has not been delivered. That’s true, too.

Yet the international pressure is muted. The focus has shifted. But the needs and the people have not moved on.

This is not a party political hit on the British government. The Department for International Development is the second biggest donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The prime minister spoke up about Gaza early in his term of office. There is room for a genuine cross-party drive to make sure that the children and adults of Gaza are not forgotten.

To make the situation even more infuriating, the status quo is actually irrational. It is not in anyone’s political interest. Israel doesn’t become safer, or Hamas or Fatah more popular.

One young mother at the nutrition centre told me that she was just completing her accountancy degree – but there was no work. Yusuf, nine, working on a computer at the Qattan centre, told me he wanted to be a pilot. These people are not a threat to peace in the Middle East. They are actually its hope. But for that they need a chance to shape their own future.

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