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BSST

BSST is the leading charity focusing on small-scale grass roots cross community, anti poverty and humanitarian projects in Israel/Palestine
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JfJfP comments


2016:

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

2015:

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

2014:

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

2013:

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

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Posts

EU is home for all religions and none


Mr Timmermans, left, lit a memorial candle at a service at the European Jewish Association in Brussels

EU official: ‘Huge challenge’ to reassure Jews

European Commission Vice-President says that following Paris attacks, ‘majority of Jewish community in member states is not sure that they have a future in Europe’.

By i24 News / Ynet
January 24, 2015

The EU faces a “huge challenge” to reassure Jews about their future in Europe after Islamist attacks in Paris, a top official said earlier this week as it discussed fresh counter-terror measures. European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said the 28-nation bloc was determined to respond in keeping with its core values of tolerance and inclusion, promising a new strategy would be ready by May.

“Today we see in some of our member states that a majority of the Jewish community is not sure that they have a future in Europe,” he said. “I think this is a huge challenge to the very foundation of European integration,” he added.

He said the issue was more important than the single European currency or internal markets or other initiatives.

Timmermans said Europeans must use education and other tools “to make sure that we don’t lose part of our population to extremism, to fanaticism, to exclusion.”

“Whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Christian or atheist, everybody has a place in this society,” he added.

Timmermans said the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, would work especially hard to meet European Parliament concerns over data protection which have held up agreement on an air passenger tracking system. The Commission will do everything to develop a “strategy that offers hope and prospects for everyone in Europe,” he said.

Many member states back use of the Passenger Name Record system as an essential tool to track suspected “foreign fighters” but lawmakers have held up an EU-wide system for years.

Timmermans said the Commission would “see if we can change our proposal to meet these concerns,” stressing that Europe had to been seen as “taking its job seriously” in countering the militant threat. At the same time, security remained the responsibility of member states and the European Union’s role was to “assist them, support them so that jointly they can (meet) that responsibility.”

Europe’s greatest fear is that disaffected citizens who go to fight with extremist groups such as the Islamic State group in Syria or Iraq and return home even more radicalized and battle hardened. Timmermans raised the possibility that the EU could look at tightening up its Schengen passport-free system so as to boost checks on its external border to pick up militants.

Asked about possible intelligence sharing, Timmermans said member states appeared more confident on the issue but also cited “some obstacles” without detailing them. Most EU states have been reluctant to open up their intelligence networks to anyone except their most trusted allies for fear of harmful leaks.

‘Extremism is nothing new’
Meanwhile in Davos, Switzerland an unusual panel on religion at the World Economic Forum took place on Wednesday .

In a wide-ranging debate that took in conflicts in the Middle East, Nigeria, Central African Republic as well as the recent Paris attacks, the panel all agreed on one unfortunate fact: there’s nothing new under the sun.

“Extremism is nothing new. We had extremism in the 20th century through Communism, through Fascism, both of which were ideologies that were profoundly anti-religion,” said Tony Blair, a committed Christian, who is now a Middle East peace envoy.

“It’s not religion per se that were causes of conflict. However, today, the ideology that is most threatening our security is an ideology based on a perversion of religion,” added Blair, referring to radical Islam.

Hamza Yusuf Hanson, a top Islamic scholar, agreed that radical Islam was what he called a “perversion,” arguing that traditional Islam was “one of the exceptional religious movements that allowed other religions to live peacefully among them.”

And Rabbi David Rosen, from the American Jewish Committee, said religion was being skewed to manipulate people, in a downward spiral that leads inevitably to violence. “When we feel threatened, it’s natural and desirable to turn to religion,” he said.

This then leads to a them-against-us mentality as “people actually believe that they are doing what God wants”, he said.


Palestinian Salafists burn French national flag during a protest against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on their way to the French Cultural Centre in Gaza city, on January 19, 2015. Photo by Mohammed Abed / AFP.

The religious leaders also found common ground when discussing the limits of freedom of expression in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris earlier this month. Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in and around the offices of the French satirical magazine, claiming “revenge” for the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, which most Muslims find blasphemous.

After the shooting, Charlie Hebdo again published a cartoon featuring Mohammed, which sparked anger and riots in many Muslim countries, some turning deadly.

Muslim representative Hanson voiced the strongest objections to the prophet’s depiction. The publication of the cartoons was an “absolute lack of civility and common decency”, he said. “You can condemn and criticize religion … all those things are fine but you can’t mock and disrespect people,” he added.

“Radicalization is very easy when you mock what people hold dear,” Hanson pointed out.

Meanwhile, Rosen told AFP that insulting people’s religion was in many ways worse than insulting them racially.

“I think it’s very interesting that President Francois Hollande said that those burning the French flag (in recent anti-Charlie Hebdo protests) should be punished, so he does acknowledge there are limits to freedom of expression,” he said in an interview. “I think people need to be more responsible.”

Education is the answer
Blair argued that the only long-term solution for the problem of religion being perverted into violence was education.

“This extremism is not natural, it’s taught and its learned and you have to unteach it in the school systems,” he said.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Thabo Cecil Makgoba, from South Africa, said that “as a man of faith, I cannot give up hope” and urged the assembled elites to keep the problem of violence and religion in perspective. “Of the six billion people in the world, only a handful are terrorists, so let us not be terrified by this tiny minority,” he said. “Freedom and love are key values and if we stick to that, we can transcend violence.”

The World Economic Forum in the picture-postcard Swiss ski resort of Davos brings together some 2,500 of the biggest movers and shakers in the world of finance and politics and runs until Saturday.


Paris attacks: Timmermans warns of Jewish exodus

By BBC news
January 21, 2015

A top EU official has warned that Europe faces a “huge challenge” in persuading Jews not to emigrate in response to antsemitism.

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans suggested the issue was as urgent as the euro’s troubles.

“In some [EU] states the majority of the Jewish community is not sure they have a future in Europe,” he said.

France, with the EU’s biggest Jewish community, has announced sweeping anti-terror measures after Islamist attacks.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said 2,680 new security-related jobs would be created, including 1,100 in police intelligence, over three years.

He pledged an extra €425m (£325m; $490m) in funds, saying 3,000 people were under surveillance in France. In addition, 7,500 French defence jobs due to be cut will now be saved.

On 9 January, an Islamist militant shot dead four Jewish men during a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

He was subsequently killed by police as were two Islamist militants who earlier killed 12 people at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, allegedly shouting that they were “avenging” cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

‘Fundamental value’

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Timmermans said about Jewish fears: “I think this is a huge challenge to the very foundations of European integration.

“We can talk till kingdom come about the euro, about internal markets, about whatever initiative we take, but if this fundamental value in European society, which is that there is a place for everyone whatever your creed is, whatever your background is, your race is, the choices you make in society if that is challenged we have to answer that challenge by a policy that offers hope and prospect[s] for everyone in European society.”

Mr Timmermans also said he wanted to see a swift decision on the sharing of passenger name records and reinforcing the outside borders of the Schengen area – the 26 countries that have abolished internal passport controls.

Schengen, he said, should be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Not everyone in the European Parliament is happy about the sharing of passenger data and its possible implications for civil liberties, the BBC’s Paul Adams reports from Brussels.

Mr Timmermans sought to reassure critics, saying anything that changed the open, tolerant nature of European society would play into the hands of terrorists.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May sought to reassure Britain’s Jewish population earlier this week that everything was being done to protect them.

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