A: Information and updates
a) Next signatories’ meeting in London
b) Information on new signatories
c) Results of the BSST appeal for funds for Gaza
d) An appeal for help with the website
e) JfJfP press statement on threat to British Jews
f) An update on the Refuseniks
g) Another statement (addressed primarily but not exclusively to American Jews)
h) City Circle meeting with Phil Shiner (Public Interest Lawyers) on ‘The Gaza Crisis – A Legal Response’
i) Write a letter to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband
B: More Reading on Gaza
A: Information and updates
a) Prof Avi Shlaim will speak at the next signatories meeting in London on Sunday 1st February.
It will probably be at the Dragon Hall 17 Stukely Street, London WC2 (tube Holborn) but this will be confirmed in the next mailing
b) There have been 108 new signatories since 28 December.
See the website at http://www.jfjfp.org/signatories.htm
c) The British Shalom-Salaam Trust appeal for Physicians for Human Rights-Israel to send medical supplies and equipment to Gaza has generated a staggering £37,000 to date.
d) We are desperately looking for help with our website.
Do you have any experience of website maintenance or development.
Could you spare a few hours a week to update our various webpages – forthcoming events, signatories etc?
This obviously does not need to be done from London!
What you’d need is time, willingness and some experience.
If you’re interested in talking further please contact email@example.com
e) Threats against British Jews
On 7 January there were reports of threats against British Jews as revenge over Gaza. We responded immediately with a press release which read:
JfJfP Press Release, 8 January 2009 (for immediate release)
“Reports in yesterday’s newspapers speak of threats against British Jews as revenge for the brutal invasion of Gaza.
This is racism.
There is no place for racism of any kind in a solidarity movement.
We particularly value the support for this statement of PSC, CAABU, War on Want, Arab Media Watch, Action Palestine, GMB, FBU, Jeremy Corbyn MP, the Stop the War Coalition, Interpal, the Amos Trust and JSG as well as the PLO General Delegation in the UK who have all consistently welcomed our central involvement in the solidarity movement, just as we value the effusive support of faith groups, including the many Muslims, Hindus and Christians on last Saturday’s march who enthusiastically took our leaflets, asked to hold our placards and be photographed with us.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians has been and will continue to work against Israel’s military repression of the Palestinians and for a Just Peace and will take part in Saturday’s demonstration.”
Since then we have had a strong presence on the various anti-war demonstrations, particularly in London on 10th and 17th January. We also supported and had a substantial presence at the counter-demonstration called by Independent Jewish Voices against the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council’s Solidarity with Israel rally in Trafalgar Square.
f) Refusenik update – a letter from Courage to Refuse
The first Gaza refusenik was sent to prison for a term of 14 days. Courage to refuse members are in contact with his family and are helping in any way we can. To date there are about ten refuseniks, but the IDF is making special efforts to silence this story and prevent it from reaching other soldiers. We assume this is the reason why most refuseniks have not yet been trialed (some are waiting for over a week now). Our demonstration last Thursday [11 Jan] went very well, hundreds showed up and protested against the war. There is a video of the demonstration (Hebrew, English subtitles).
This, along with other efforts of the Israeli Peace Camp, contributed to the public discourse by introducing new voices- this time critical, about the war. We plan on continuing our demonstrations and plan to hold a public debate on the subject of refusal next Sunday. I wish to thank all those of you who proposed to donate to Courage to Refuse. Your help is much needed. An online donation System is now in place, allowing donations via credit card. The donation is processed by The Refuser Solidarity Network, an American NGO that agreed to receive donations on our behalf. To donate, please go to: https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=712 and select *Courage to Refuse *Projects in the *RSN project* field (This detail is very important). American citizens- your donation is IRS-recognized 501(c)3.
With some hope and a lot of hard work- the cease fire may not be that far. Thank you all for your support.
Courage to Refuse
g) Another statement, addressed predominantly but NOT exclusively to American Jews.
Please consider signing this statement and circulate to others who might be interested.
Signatures of American Jews only should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expressions of support from non-American Jews can be sent to the organizers Richard Silverstein and Jerry Haber
Jerry Haber and Richard Silverstein, along with Verso Books, the publishers of A Time to Speak Out, have prepared the following statement from American Jews condemning the Gaza assault and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. We hope that you will sign it and encourage others you know to do so as well. Roane Carey of The Nation has expressed some interest in publishing it there, if we succeed in getting a significant number of signatories. We hope you will help start a viral campaign by promoting this statement as widely as you can via email, websites and general word of mouth.
While it is possible some of you may quarrel with a word or phrase here or there. If you do, I hope you’ll consider that this is a time of urgency when niceties like getting wording and nuance precisely right are a luxury. We made a valiant effort to come up with the best statement we could under the exigencies of the current moment and hope you’ll understand.
To sign, please send your full name, title (if you wish), & affiliation (if you wish) to email@example.com. This address is only for signatures and not for regular correspondence about the statement.
“We Shall Not Be a Party to Their Counsel!”
As human beings, we are shocked and appalled at the mass destruction unleashed by the State of Israel against the people of Gaza in its current military operation, following years of Israeli occupation, siege, and deprivation.
As Americans, we protest the carte blanche given Israel by the US government to pursue a war of “national honor,” “restoring deterrence,” “destroying Hamas,” and “searing Israel’s military might into the consciousness of the Gazans.”
As progressives, we reject the same justifications for the carnage that we heard ad nauseam from the supporters of the Second Iraq War: the so-called “war on terror,” the “clash of civilizations,” the “need to re-establish deterrence” – all of which served to justify a misguided and unnecessary war, with disastrous consequences for America and Iraq.
But as Jews of different religious persuasions, from Orthodox to secular atheist, we are especially horrified that a state that purports to speak in our name wages a military campaign that has killed over 1,000 people, a large percentage of them civilians, children, and non-combatants, with little or no consideration for human rights or the laws of war.
While the moral and legal issue concerning Israel’s right to respond militarily in these circumstance can be debated, there is near-universal agreement that its conduct of the military operation has been unjust and even criminal – with only the usual apologists for the Jewish state disagreeing.
As Jews, we stand united with another Israel, the patriarch Jacob, who cursed his sons Simeon and Levi for massacring the people of Shechem in revenge for the rape of their sister Dinah. Like Jacob, “we shall not be a party to the counsel of zealots. We shall not be counted in their assembly. (See Genesis 34. 49: 5-7).
As Jews, we stand united with the Jewish sages who rejected the zealotry of the Jewish “terrorists” at Masada, those who masked ethnic tribalism in the cloak of “self-defense” and “national honor.”
As Jews, we listen not only when the sage Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” but also when he says, “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Hillel’s closing words also ring true in this hour of decision when a ceasefire is demanded of both sides: “If not now, when?”
Finally, as American Jewish progressives, and as human beings, we condemn Hamas and Israel for violating the human rights of civilians on both sides, although we do not necessarily declare these violations to be morally or legally equivalent. We affirm the rights of both Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination and self-defense, as we affirm the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
h) City Circle meeting with Phil Shiner (Public Interest Lawyers) on ‘The Gaza Crisis – A Legal Response’
Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP (nearest tube: Edgware Rd / Marble Arch)
Time/Date: 6.45-8.45pm, Friday 23rd January 2009
“The City Circle promotes the development of a distinct British Muslim identity. It seeks to assist the process of community cohesion and integration by building bilateral strategic alliances between Muslim and non-Muslim communities and harness and channel the skills and resources of Muslim professionals into practical projects thereby facilitating and empowering young Muslim women and men to ‘put back in’ to the wider British community.
“The City Circle is an open circle for open minds.”
The City Circle is proud to host Phil Shiner, a Partner at Public Interest Lawyers, a leading authority on International Law and state responsibility, to provide a detailed legal analysis on the recent invasion of Gaza by the Israeli military machine and to provide an examination of the range of potential legal remedies available.
Phil sets out a clear argument that there is a separate UK issue of state responsibility which arises from the International Law Commission’s articles on state responsibility which are reflected in paragraph 159 of the ICJ’s advisory opinion on The Wall from July 2004, which provides the opportunity for bringing legal action against the British Government for its failure to go far enough to act to prevent the recent massacre.
Additionally there is an argument that must be put now that the UK which has massively increased its arms related licences to Israel in the first quarter of 2008 is guilty of assisting in the commission of war crimes.
ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRANCE (no need to register)
For more information, contact Rashad on 07957 346741.
i) Write a letter to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband
Following up on the Sunday summit in Sharm el-Sheikh and the subsequent meeting in Israel, the Czech Presidency of the EU Council will host a dinner for the EU 27 plus Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian National Authority. This will take place at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The ECCP (European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on the Question of Palestine) suggests individuals send a letter to David Miliband (foreign office <firstname.lastname@example.org>).
After a general introduction it might include the following demands on the European Union and its member states to:
• Contribute, with the UN, to make the cessation of hostilites into a negotiated cease-fire under international supervision,
• Instigate, with the UN, proceedings in the International Criminal Court to qualify the crimes committed by the Israeli army and the Israeli government in Gaza and bring the perpetrators to justice,
• Instigate an arms embargo by all member-states against Israel, both in terms of military cooperation and commercial trade,
• Stop the so-called “upgrade” of relations with Israel within the context of the adoption of a new Israel-Action plan,
• Suspend the EU-Israel Association agreement until Israel abides by the human rights commitments that are a part of the agreement of the text it is signatory to
• Bring its political and economic power to bear upon Israel in order to ensure an end of the blockade on Gaza and of the occupation
• Hold Israel responsible for the destruction of all infrastructure funded by European taxpayers by demanding reparations.
We believe that for lasting peace to be achieved for both the people of Palestine and Israel, first there must be justice. The citizens of Europe are waiting for their leaders to show the political courage that it will take to bring this conflict to an end and we urge you to urgently take the steps outlined above so that Europe can make its contribution towards the solution.
B: More reading on Gaza
As ever over recent weeks, events have been dominated by the Israeli offensive over Gaza. There has been a vast outpouring of material on the conflict, much of it bitterly and rightly critical of Israel’s massive punishment of the people of Gaza.
A substantial selection of articles appears on the website.
But even this is becoming unwieldy, so here are a few article selected from there:
Stephen Shalom 16 January Znet Question and Answer on Gaza
‘On December 27, 2008, Israel launched its brutal assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. The aim here has been to collect in one place the most frequently-asked questions and to offer answers and sources. You can read the whole thing through (warning: it’s long!) or see a separate list of sections and questions, and jump to the ones you’re interested in.’
On the realities on the ground here are some pieces from Sderot and Gaza
Naamika Zion, Sderot, 8.1.09 Sderot War Diary
The author is a member of Kol Aher (another voice) – a Sderot-based peace group.
‘Not in my name and not for me you went to war. The current bloodbath in Gaza is not in my name and not for my security. Destroyed homes, bombed schools, thousands of new refugees – are not in my name and not for my security. In Gaza there is no time for burial ceremonies now, the dead are put in refrigerators in twos, because there is no room. Here their bodies lay, policemen, children, and our nimble reporters play acrobatically with Hasbara strategies in view of “the images that speak for themselves”. Pray tell me, what is there to “explain”? What is there to explain?…’
Brit Tzedek v Shalom (Justice & Peace) website Stories from the Ground: Sderot & Gaza
‘It is hard, when reading about the violence in Gaza and Israel, to get a genuine sense of what the people on the ground are experiencing, their terror, their sorrow, their hopes for tomorrow. In order to try to bridge that gap, we bring here two first-person accounts, one relating the realities in Gaza, the other in Israel.’
And Paul Kaye has produced an exceptional personal statement published in The Guardian, Friday 16 January 2009 A dark fog has enveloped us
As the Guardian’s standfirst introduces the article: ‘When a rocket killed his mother-in-law in Israel, actor Paul Kaye was appalled by the celebrations in Gaza. Six months on, he feels a different kind of despair’
On the overall destruction wrought on Gaza, see the reports from Ocha, the WHO and others
e.g. Ocha’s webpage
or the WHO‘s.
On the international law implications of the conflict
There have been a series of condemnatory letters to the press (see some of them at ) signed by large numbers of international lawyers:
We must uphold the UN charter in Gaza
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, the Guardian 9 Jan 09
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime Ian Brownlie QC and 23 other international lawyers, Sunday Times 11 Jan
UK must act to stop violations in Gaza Dr Louise Arimatsu LSE + 40 other international lawyers, The Guardian, Wednesday 14 January 2009
And in War crimes in Gaza? Let’s look closer to home Phil Shiner argues:
‘If Britain had fulfilled its International Court of Justice obligations in 2004, it could have helped tackle this conflict before it escalated beyond diplomacy.’
Victor Kattan writes in Gaza: Not a War of Self-Defense:
Israel’s Gaza offensive cannot be legally justified by any right of self-defense and instead constitutes aggression and a forcible deprivation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination…’
Simon Jenkins, in The Guardian, Friday 16 January 2009 argues that Indiscriminate slaughter from the air is a barbarism that must be abolished
For him, ‘The tragedy in Gaza surely marks the time when the world declares air-launched bombs and long-distance shells to be illegal under the 1983 Geneva convention.’
Gerald Kaufman MP, House of Commons 15 Jan 2009
In an extraordinary and carefully prepared statement Gerald Kaufman MP said, among other things:
‘My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count…
It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.’
You can also watch it on YouTube.
Robert Fisk, the Independent 17 Jan When it comes to Gaza, leave the Second World War out of it
Fisk tackles the exaggerations of language in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
‘Exaggeration always gets my goat… the real reason why “Gaza-Genocide” is a dangerous parallel is because it is not true.’
Uri Avnery 17 January The Boss has Gone Mad
‘It is impossible to understand the viciousness of this war without taking into account the historical background: the feeling of victimhood after all that has been done to the Jews throughout the ages, and the conviction that after the Holocaust, we have the right to do anything, absolutely anything, to defend ourselves, without any inhibitions due to law or morality.’
Neve Gordon Redress 18 January 2009 How to sell “ethical warfare”
Neve Gordon highlights the role of the Israeli media as a tool in promoting Israel’s propaganda claim that its war on Gaza is ethical. “Israeli media have been toeing the government line to such a degree that no criticism of the war has been voiced on any of the three local television stations. Indeed, the situation has become so absurd that reporters and anchors are currently less critical of the war than the military spokespeople.”
‘One of my students was arrested yesterday and spent the night in a prison cell. R’s offence was protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza. He joins over 700 other Israelis who have been detained since the beginning of Israel’s ruthless war on Gaza: an estimated 230 of whom are still behind bars. Within the Israeli context, this strategy of quelling protest and stifling resistance is unprecedented, and it is quite disturbing that the international media has failed to comment on it.’