Newsletter 08 Feb 2009
0 8 / F e b r u a r y / 2 0 0 9
Israelis and Palestinians: two peoples, one future
A: General – information and action
1. Next JfJfP signatories meeting, 15 February
2. Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), Israel
3. American Jewish statement against Israel’s war on Palestine – a delineation of areas for future action
4. ‘If there’s nothing to hide, why not investigate?’: Call by ACRI, together with 9 Israeli human rights organizations, demanding an independent inquiry into the war on Gaza
5. Israel’s Day of Science
1. The War on Gaza and Antisemitism
2. ‘Erase my grandfather’s name at Yad Vashem’ – Jean-Moïse Braitberg
3. New Jewish Thought
4. Shooting at farmers, what gives Israel the right?
5. Hagana weapons cache found in Hod Hasharon synagogue
6. The Wounds of Gaza, The Lancet
7. Inter-Palestinian Human Rights Violations in the Gaza Strip
a Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report
8. Rise of the moderates – trends among diaspora Jewry
9. The Israeli elections:
(i) Liebermania and the threat of fascism;
(ii) Uri Avnery
10. The philosopher who gave the IDF moral justification in Gaza
11. Red Pepper focuses on Jewish dissent and the Gaza crisis
1. JfJfP – next signatories meeting, Sunday 15 Feb, 7.00 pm
Queens Head & Artichoke, 30-32 Albany Street Regents Park London, NW1 4EA. Nearest tube Gt Portland St or Regent St, 5 mins Euston
2. Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), Israel
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), Israel urges our members and friends to contribute to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, a new PsySR fundraising campaign to support the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), which has suffered extensive damage to its headquarters at a time of escalating demand for its services.
The British Shalom-Salaam Trust welcomes donations on behalf of GCMHP and as usual UK tax payers can increase their donations by 28% through Gift Aid. Details here.
3. American Jewish statement against Israel’s war on Palestine
In the wake of the war on Gaza AJJP have issued a statement on 1st February , including the following demands and delineation of areas of action:
* immediate suspension of all U.S. military aid to Israel pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act;
* the U.S. Congress to open an investigation into possible war crimes as well as violations of the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts in the war on Gaza;
* businesses and individuals to refuse to purchase Israeli-made products that originate in or support Jewish settlements in Occupied Palestine and the apartheid system of racial separation and oppression in Israel/Palestine;
* the Israeli government to sign the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid that was adopted by the United Nations in 1973, or explain its refusal to do so to the world community;
* the Israeli government to end the blockade and siege of Gaza and allow unhindered access to all humanitarian aid organizations as well as international journalists;
* efforts by all activists and to promote awareness of and resistance to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which continues through the ongoing blockade, siege, displacement, annexation, and Israeli state-sponsored terror.
Full statement at http://www.jfjfp.org/background3_gaza-crisis_2008-09/ngo_reactions_0901.htm#american
4. ‘If there’s nothing to hide, why not investigate?’
Call by ACRI, together with 9 Israeli human rights organizations, demanding an independent inquiry into the war on Gaza
‘This is the first of three ads [in Hebrew – not included here] that will be published in Ha’aretz on consecutive days (starting today). All ads share the same slogan: “If there is nothing to hide, why not investigate? Taking responsibility, investigating now what was done in Gaza.” Each ad features a powerful image, and a hopeful quote that doesn’t quite mesh with the reality depicted in the image. The first ad includes a quote from a decision by Chief Justice Beinisch (in one of the recent petitions submitted by Israeli human rights organizations during the fighting in Gaza that were subsequently rejected by the Supreme Court): “We will uphold our duty to safeguard the principles and values that are at the core of our being as a Jewish and democratic state that cherishes human rights and human character”.
5. Israel’s Day of Science
On 5 and 7 March in London and Manchester the Zionist Federation is showcasing the achievements of Israeli science. Many people, including those viscerally opposed to an academic boycott, are finding it hard to stomach this hard sell in the wake of the war on Gaza.
Details of the event can be found on the Zionsit Federation website here
A statement to be sent to the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the London Science Museum Lord Waldegrave has been drafted by Bricup and can be found and signed here
1. The War on Gaza and Antisemitism
(i) Jonathan Freedland, Guardian 4 Feb 09, ‘As British Jews come under attack, the liberal left must not remain silent’
Under this heading Jonathan Freedland takes ‘the liberal left’ to task for failing to respond to the antisemitism which has resulted from the war on Gaza. ‘The threat is real, and yet barely a word has been heard from those who pride themselves on their vigilance against racism.’
(ii) Brian Klug responded vigorously in his comment-is-free response ‘Representing Israel’
‘In fact, it’s not the ‘liberal left’ but some Jewish groups who find it difficult to separate the notion of Jews and Israel’
(iii) JfJfP wrote a letter to the Guardian which remained strangely silent in its printed edition for three whole days. It then published one helpful letter from David Mond (a JfJfP signatory) and one by Louise Ellman, quoting the Hamas Charter. And nothing else. Our letter was not printed.
The David Mond letter can be read here.
Here is the JfJfP letter:
Jonathan Freedland (Guardian 4 February) is quite right to say ‘ it is perfectly possible to condemn Israel’s current conduct and to stand firmly against anti-Jewish prejudice’. We did and we do.
On 8th January we issued a press release in response to reports in newspapers the previous day that spoke of threats against British Jews as revenge for the brutal invasion of Gaza. We said: “This is racism. There is no place for racism of any kind in a solidarity movement.” This statement was publicly endorsed, among others, by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, Arab Media Watch, Action Palestine, GMB, FBU, the Stop the War Coalition, Interpal, the Amos Trust, CAABU and the PLO General Delegation in the UK. The press might explain why they chose to ignore it
We went on the demonstrations with the slogan “Jews Against the War on Gaza”. Our very presence attracted enormous interest and we spoke to innumerable young Muslims and others who wanted to talk to us about our ideas and experiences, asked to carry our placards and then were really keen to take them home afterwards! On these occasions and others we have received support from British Muslims, who, like us, are very aware of antisemitism when they meet it on the street, and like us, very determined to confront it. This, too, goes unreported in the press.
Our very presence broke stereotypes about ‘all Jews’ being the same, making a point that the Jewish community is normally so proud of, but is unwilling to express when anything to do with Israel comes into the frame. It was the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council that called a demonstration uncritically supporting Israel at the height of the invasion. It was left to Independent Jewish Voices, ourselves and others to articulate another voice.
If the leadership bodies of British Jewry wish to blur the distinction between Jews and Israel, why are they surprised if others do so too? All are wrong to do so.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
(iv) There is some interesting discussion of the issues raised on the Jews sans frontiers website under the head ‘Must Jews speak out?’
(v) Finally, there is a generally non-hysterical and lively discussion of relevant issues on the Engage website, thanks largely to David Rosenberg’s heroic efforts to keep the debate sane, backed up by Linda Grant and others.
2. Jean-Moïse Braitberg, Le Monde 28 January, ‘Erase my grandfather’s name at Yad Vashem’
‘Mr. President of the State of Israel, I am writing to you to intervene with the appropriate authorities to withdraw, from the Yad Vashem memorial dedicated to the memory of Jewish victims of Nazism, the name of my grandfather, Moshe Brajtberg, gassed at Treblinka in 1943, and those of other members of my family who died during deportation to various Nazi camps during World War II. I ask you to honor my request, Mr. Chairman, because what took place in Gaza, and more generally, the injustices to the Arab people of Palestine for sixty years, disqualifies Israel to be the center of the memory of the harm done to Jews, and thus to all humanity…’
3. New Jewish Thought describes itself as ‘a group of British Jews from across the communal spectrum, who have come together to pursue the following vision:
* New Jewish Thought seeks to foster dialogue and respectful connection between Jews with different opinions, from different streams of Jewishness, from different backgrounds.
* New Jewish Thought seeks to highlight issues that are not extensively discussed within the Jewish community.’
Its recent publications include New Jewish Thought Policy Paper 2: An Experiment in Dialogue by Keith Kahn-Harris. ‘A report on an attempt to develop constructive dialogue on Israel within the British Jewish community’
What is a Jewish Space? by Dani Kranz. ‘An anthropologist reflects on her ongoing research on Jewish spaces in London.’
Both at http://www.newjewishthought.org/
4. Eva Bartlett, ‘Shooting at farmers, what gives Israel the right?’, International Solidarity / Gazafriends, general mailing, 5 Feb 2009
A long and distressing report of the ongoing harassment of Gazan farmers along the border with Israel:
‘As the cracks of gunfire rang more frequently and louder, the shots closer, those of the farmers who hadn’t already hit the ground did so, sprawling flat for cover. The international observers continued to stand, brightly visible, hands in the air, bullhorn repeating our message of unarmed presence. The shots continued, from the direction of 3 or 4 visible soldiers on a mound hundreds of metres from us. With my eyeglasses I could make out their shapes, uniforms, the jeep… Certainly with their military equipment they could make out our faces, empty hands, parsley-loaded cart…
There was no mistaking the situation or their intent: pure harassment.’
5. ‘Hagana weapons cache found in Hod Hasharon synagogue’
Jerusalem Post 5 February 2009
A glorious short piece, stating that: ‘A stash of weapons dating back to the 1948 War of Independence was uncovered at a synagogue in Magdiel, Hod Hasharon on Thursday… The synagogue was used as a headquarters by the Haganah during the months preceding the declaration of statehood.’
Don’t even hint at parallels…
‘6. The Wounds of Gaza’ Lancet, 2 February
‘Two Surgeons from the UK, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang, managed to get into Gaza during the Israeli invasion. Here they describe their experiences, share their views, and conclude that the people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack.’
7. ‘Inter-Palestinian Human Rights Violations in the Gaza Strip’
A Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Special Report, February 2009
A courageous publication by PCHR detailing ‘a significant increase in human rights violations perpetrated by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip’.
8. Antony Lerman, The Guardian, 6 February ‘Rise of the moderates’
‘Out of the rubble of Gaza, global Jewish dissent could be emerging as a more potent force…’
9. The Israeli Elections:
(i) ‘Liebermania’ by Yotam Feldman, Ha’aetz 9 Feb 09
Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Peace News introduces ‘Liebermania’:
‘The chilling article below, from this weekend’s (February 6th, 2009) Haaretz, appears at first to be disturbing simply for what it says about a growing segment of Israel’s next generation of voters – an open, even proud, racism and an attraction to fascism, in the form of support for Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Israel Beitenu party, which is poised to become Israel’s third largest party in Tuesday’s election. The key selling point of the party in this election is a “loyalty oath” that would be a prerequisite for citizenship rights, clearly directed at Israel’s Palestinian Israeli citizens.
But the article illuminates (or darkens) far more. Such as the horrifying prospect of highschoolers campaigning for Lieberman by screaming “Death to the Arabs!” in the streets and consciously explaining that this helps them prepare to enter the army…
The further you read, the clearer it is that this a phenomena that draws strength from so many of the issues facing Israeli society: not just virulent Anti-Arab racism, but a reliance on violence, the emphasis on militaristic values, the broken education system, and the crumbling of democratic principles…
(ii) Uri Avnery, ‘Dirty Socks’, 7 Feb
‘We are faced by a sorry lot of politicians, some of them documented failures and some completely free of any past achievements. There is no meaningful discussion between them about the issues. Not one of the main contenders offers real solutions to our basic problems. The differences between them are invisible without a magnifying glass.
‘The instinctive reaction: “To hell with the lot of them. Let’s not vote at all!”
‘But that is childish. We cannot afford not to vote, or to vote out of spite or as a protest. Even if the differences are tiny – they may turn out to be important.
‘Therefore, let’s hold our nose and vote. If necessary, let’s take some medicine against nausea. If all of them are bad, let’s look for the lesser evil.’
10. ‘The philosopher who gave the IDF moral justification in Gaza’ Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 6 Feb 09
‘When senior Israel Defense Forces officers are asked about the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians during the fighting in the Gaza Strip, they almost all give the same answer: The use of massive force was designed to protect the lives of the soldiers, and when faced with a choice between protecting the lives of Israeli soldiers and those of enemy civilians under whose protection the Hamas terrorists are operating, the soldiers take precedence.
‘The IDF’s response to criticism does not sound improvised or argumentative. The army entered Gaza with the capacity to gauge with relatively high certainty the impact of fighting against terror in such a densely populated area. And it operated there not only with the backing of the legal opinion of the office of the Military Advocate General, but also on the basis of ethical theory, developed several years ago, that justifes its actions.
‘Prof. Asa Kasher of Tel Aviv University, an Israel Prize laureate in philosophy, is the philosopher who told the IDF that it was possible. In a recent interview with Haaretz Kasher said the army operated in accordance with a code of conduct developed about five years ago for fighting terrorism…’
And see the Magnes Zionist’s perceptive-as-ever comments in The Author of the the IDF’s Code of Ethics “Doesn’t Know” If It is Observed
11. Red Pepper, Feb/Mar 2009 on Jewish dissent inter alia
‘In our Feb/Mar issue, out now, Red Pepper focuses on Jewish dissent with Hannah Safran, Philip Weiss, Mike Marqusee and Antony Lerman writing on opposition to the war on Gaza in the UK, US and Israel. While Palestinian political analyst Jamil Hilal argues that the Palestinian movement is at an important turning point. MEP Luisa Morgantini, vice president of the European Parliament, condemns Europe and the international community for its inaction over Israel and the Palestinians, and calls for tough action.’
Weiss, Marqusee & Morgantini articles are on line here
You can support the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme via the British Shalom-Salaam Trust (charity 1103211), and UK tax-payers can increase their donations by 28% with a Gift Aid declaration (see below)
By cheque payable to BSST and sent to: BSST, P O Box 39378, London SE13 5WH – quoting GCMHP
By bank transfer to HSBC sortcode 40-04-15 – account no 11576585 – (from abroad: international bank account number GB22MIDL40041511576585)
Please quote your surname and initial
By credit card via CAF http://www.cafonline.org/apps/Charities/BasicSearch.aspx?dsp_keywords=british+shalom+salaam+trust (they claim Gift Aid and deduct 5% of the total) quoting GCMHP in their instruction box
If you’re paying by credit card or bank transfer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting GCMHP, the amount and date, so we can ensure the transaction and allocation are processed correctly.
You can increase your donation by 28% by sending BSST a Gift Aid declaration.
If you haven’t already completed one, please include this with your cheque, or by email to email@example.com: “I wish that this and any future donations to the British Shalom-Salaam Trust (charity no 1103211) be treated as Gift Aid donations until further notice.” (Donors should make this declaration only if they pay UK income or capital gains tax at least equal to the amount of tax recoverable by the British Shalom-Salaam Trust.) NB your home address must be included.