This mailout contains
A: Some forthcoming events
B: Areas for action
C: Selected reading
N.B. If you complained to the BBC about their decision not to show the DEC appeal, they are reviewing how complaints were handled. Take further action.
A: Some Forthcoming Events
a) 6-21 February (no performance 9 Feb) , Royal Court Theatre
Caryl Churchill’s ‘Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza’
b) Wednesday 11th February, 7.30pm, Jewish Socialists’ Group meeting:
‘After the war on Gaza: What next for the Palestinians? And how can Jews here and in Israel help bring about a just peace?’
with Karma Nabulsi, Gerald Kaufman MP, Yishay Mor, David Rosenberg
c) Sunday 15th Feb, 7.00 pm, Royal Free Hospital Medical School, Belsize Park tube
‘From Mozart to Rossini’, an Evening Concert in Aid of Physicians For Human Rights-Israel: Gaza Appeal
d) 21-22 Feb, SOAS, central London, The Nakba: Sixty Years of Dispossession, Sixty Years of Resistance’, Weekend Conference
For further details
B: Areas for action
a) Green MEPs demand that Israel refund EU aid spent over the past ten years on Gaza’s now devastated infrastructure
b) Boycotting the occupation
(i) Direct Action Against Israel – Part 1
A Corporate Watch analysis of Arms Companies, Illegal Produce, Banks and the Media
(ii) Coalition of Women for Peace Who Profits? Exposing the Israeli Occupation Industry
c) Campaign for an arms embargo – boosted by Belgium’s decision not to export arms that ‘bolster the IDF’.
a) Green MEPs Doorstop Israeli Embassy To Demand Gaza Aid Refund
Press Release of 30 January 2009
UK GREEN EURO-MPS TO DOORSTOP ISRAELI EMBASSY TO DEMAND GAZA AID REFUND
The UK’s two Green Euro-MPs will hand deliver a letter to the Israeli Embassy in London today, demanding a full refund of EU aid, estimated to be at least 53 million euros, spent on Gaza’s now devastated infrastructure over the past ten years.
In the wake of the Israeli army’s violent offensive on the Gaza Strip, Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the South East, and Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, are to call on the Israeli government to reimburse the European Union for the financial assistance it has provided to Gaza to ensure access to electricity, healthcare and sanitation, as well as spending on hospitals and schools.
Dr Lucas MEP said: “In a matter of days, the Israeli army’s aerial bombardment of Gaza and the ground offensive have destroyed much of the EU funded infrastructure. On behalf of EU taxpayers, we would like to ask, what plans has the Israeli government made to repay this investment in Gaza, either directly to the EU or to the Palestinian people?
“The Green MEPs believe that the Israeli government, as the body responsible for the recent damage to Gaza’s infrastructure – already rendered fragile by the ongoing Israeli blockade – should foot the bill.”
Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, added: “Alongside the refund of EU aid, Israel must also lift the blockade on Gaza, which prevents the Palestinian people from building an independent, thriving economy, and gaining access to vital services. Hamas must also fully maintain the ceasefire to allow a sustainable peace process to begin.”
See also http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2009/01/30/south-east%e2%80%99s-green-mep-doorstops-israeli-embassy-to-demand-gaza-aid-refund/
b) Boycotting the occupation
(i) Direct Action Against Israel – Part 1
On the second big Gaza solidarity march in London on 10th January, angry protesters smashed the front of a Starbucks store on Kensington High St, near the Israeli embassy, while other activists occupied the Ahava beauty shop in central London. Other actions in protest at the Israeli massacre in Gaza this month have included occupying the offices of the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in central London, ‘decommissioning’ the ITT/EDO arms factory in Brighton and university occupations across the country calling for divestment. So, who are these companies and why are they being targeted by protesters and campaigners? Corporate Watch takes a detailed look.
The article looks at Arms Companies, Illegal Produce, Banks and the Media
See article at http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3192
Joanna Blytheman, ‘Why I’m boycotting Israeli produce’ Guardian Word of Mouth blog, 23 January 2009
The war on Gaza has led many people to conclude that a boycott of some kind is needed to put pressure on Israel. Food writer Joanna Blythemen makes the case for a food boycott, based on the Israeli destruction of Palestinian agriculture ‘Fruit and vegetable exports are crucial to the Israeli economy. A consumer boycott of agricultural produce exerts direct economic pressure where it matters http://www.guardian.co.uk:80/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/jan/23/israel-food-boycott-palestinians-gaza
(ii) Who Profits? Exposing the Israeli Occupation Industry
January Press Release: The Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel launches a groundbreaking new database of companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation. This online database (see: www.whoprofits.org) reflects an on-going grassroots investigation effort by The Coalition of Women for Peace, a leading Israeli feminist peace organization dedicated to ending the occupation and reaching a just peace in Israel/ Palestine (see: www.coalitionofwomen.org). Rigorous research, including site visits and cross references of documents, have resulted in a database of several hundred international and Israeli companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation. During 2009 we intend to upload hundreds more of companies which are under investigation.
It has separate webpages dealing with:
* Israeli and international companies in the settlements, those constructing settlements and infrastructure or those sustaining the settlements.
* Israeli companies that gain advantages from the special conditions of the occupation in exploiting Palestinian resources, markets and labour.
* Companies involved in the Wall and checkpoints regime, in supplying equipment, knowhow and services in the repression of the occupied population.
c) The campaign against arms export to Israel signals a victory with the decision of the Belgian government “to stop exporting ‘arms that bolster the IDF’ to Israel” – see Ha’aretz 1st February at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1060366.html
C: Selected reading
A slightly revised version of the Steve Kamlish QC report In Gaza circulated in the last mailing is now up on the website
a) Israel Is Preventing Repair of the Electrical, Water and Sewage Systems in Gaza
Gisha press release, 29 January 2009
‘Despite Promises to Facilitate Humanitarian Aid… Policy of Deliberate Obstruction Continues Even After the Ceasefire.’
Full report at http://www.gisha.org/index.php?intLanguage=2&intItemId=1469&intSiteSN=113
b) Leslie Baruch Brent, Camden New Journal 16 January 2009, ‘The Only Way out of this mess is to Engage Hamas in Dialogue’
A onetime child refugee from Hitler’s Germany whose family was murdered by Nazis, protests: ‘I am a Jew. Stop this ghastly slaughter, Israel’.
This article, published in a local newspaper, generated a lot of interest and an extensive discussion on the letters’ pages. It shows the potential of taking the debate to the local level.
c) The Settlement Enterprise
(i) Hagit Ofran, Peace Now Settlement Watch ‘Summary of Construction in the West Bank 2008’
Settlement Watch continues its sterling work of monitoring the occupation. While the world has been watching Gaza, expansion on the west Bank has been gathering pace.
Annual summary for 2008
‘The figures are based on aerial photos and site visits by the Settlement Watch team in the last year. General Picture:
• The number of settlers in the territories as of 2008: 285,800.
• The number of new structures built in the territories in 2008: 1,518 (including 261 in outposts).
• 61% of the new structures (927 structures) were built west of the route of the separation fence and 39% (591 structures) east of it.
• A quarter of the new structures east of the fence were built in outposts.’
See http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=61&docid=3508 and http://www.imemc.org/article/58663
And, while you’re at it, take a look at B’tselem’s excellent Settlement webpage
(ii) Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 1 Jan 2009, ‘Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement’
‘Just four years ago, the defense establishment decided to carry out a seemingly elementary task: establish a comprehensive [and highly confidential – RK] database on the settlements…
‘The official database, the most comprehensive one of its kind ever compiled in Israel about the territories, was recently obtained by Haaretz. Here, for the first time, information the state has been hiding for years is revealed. An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements – about 75 percent – construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued.’
d) Calling Israel to account:
(i) Uri Avnery, ‘Black Flag’ 31 January 2009
‘A SPANISH JUDGE has instituted a judicial inquiry against seven Israeli political and military personalities on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The case: the 2002 dropping of a one ton bomb on the home of Hamas leader Salah Shehade. Apart from the intended victim, 14 people, most of them children, were killed…
I am sorry that this has happened in Spain, not in Israel.
(ii) ‘Spain won’t annul judge’s decision’ by Jerusalem Post website staff, 1st February
‘The Spanish government is not intending to work to annul a decision by a Spanish court to prosecute seven Israeli officials for alleged war crimes committed during the targeted assassination of Salah Shehadeh in 2002. 14 other people were killed along with Shehadeh.’
e) Reactions in Germany
(i) Rolf Verleger, Gaza: the Bad, Bad Neighbour
A fairy tale account of why Israel went to war
The author: Prof. Dr. Rolf Verleger is a psychologist at the University of Lübeck. He helped to build up the Jewish Community in Lübeck and the Jewish State Association of Schleswig-Holstein and he has been the delegate of the State Association in the Central Council of the Jews in Germany since the year 2006.
(ii) Ali Fathollah-Nejad, ‘More Zionist Than Israel?: German Policy and Media on Gaza’
‘Still under the long shadow cast by the monumental — and in its industrial fervor unique — genocide of the European Jews, the country’s media did not provide space for any discussion worth its name about the great ordeal that Gazans suffered while the “international community” acted in complicit silence.’
f) Reactions in the USA
(i) Missile Tov: Jon Stewart on the imbalance of the American Middle East discourse
Jon Stewart does a remarkable job of saying a lot in a short space about the one-sidedness of the American discourse on Gaza. Jewish Voice for Peace, the largest grassroots Jewish peace organization in the US, has launched a campaign to acknowledge Jon Stewart and the Daily Show for daring to speak out against the Gaza war and its typical portrayal in the US media (see the JVP campaign Website).
(Jon Stewart video)
(ii) The Times They are a-Changin’ – maybe
Glenn Greenwald, Salon online, 30 Jan 09, ‘Increasing even-handedness in the Middle East’
‘It’s now rather clear that the debate in the U.S. over Israel and the Middle East is becoming increasingly more balanced and open, and there are even some very preliminary though encouraging signs that the Obama administration will take a more even-handed approach. As I wrote about the other day, the truly excellent report by 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon, focusing on the destructive impact of expanding West Bank settlements, was a startling departure from the rules governing what normally would be aired in such venues with regard to Israel… … Meanwhile, advocates like Abe Foxman are actually criticizing Obama for Mitchell’s appointment on the revealing ground that Mitchell is too “even-handed”…
g) Ha’aretz Editorial, ‘Inappropriate appointment’, 29 January 2009
‘The Tel Aviv University faculty members who oppose the appointment of Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, head of the international law division (ILD) in the Military Advocate General’s office, to a post at the university’s law faculty, are right.
‘This faculty, the spearhead of academic legal research in Israel, now has a public responsibility of the first order – to examine in depth Israel’s conduct during the war in Gaza, to distinguish between what is permitted and what is not, and to offer an alternative and objective set of rules to the self-serving ones formulated by Sharvit-Baruch during her time as head of the ILD.
h) Akiva Eldar, ‘Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?’ Ha’aretz, 1 Feb 09
“A new study of Jewish Israelis shows that most accept the ‘official version’ of the history of the conflict with the Palestinians. Is it any wonder, then, that the same public also buys the establishment explanation of the operation in Gaza?”
i) Gideon Levy, ‘Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel’ Ha’aretz, 28 January 2009
Joel Beinen introduces this article in Jewish Peace News, 29 Jan
‘Gideon Levy, one of the few Israeli journalists who criticized Israel’s assault on Gaza even before it began, repudiates the triumphalist post-invasion Israeli consensus by arguing that the war was not only a moral failure, but a military failure. Its four proclaimed and implicit objectives: 1) halting rocket attacks on Israel; 2) preventing smuggling; 3) restoring deterrence; and 4) restoring the capability of the Israeli armed forces, were not achieved. The invasion of Gaza made Hamas more popular, and Fatah less popular among Palestinians. And the state of Israel has lost standing in the international community.’
j) ‘Israel held many Gaza prisoners in harsh and humiliating conditions and threatened their lives and their health’
28 January 2009: seven Israeli Human Rights organizations appealed to the Military Judge Advocate General, Brigadier General Avichai Mandelblit, and to Attorney General Meni Mazuz concerning the appalling conditions in which Palestinians arrested during the fighting in Gaza were held, and the humiliating and inhuman treatment to which they were subjected from the time of their arrest until their transfer to the custody of the Israel Prison Service.
Full details on the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel website
k) JfJfP signatories’ letter published re antisemitic graffiti in Ilford
Letter to the Editor, Ilford Recorder, the local Ilford paper and published in a prime position
We wish to protest in the strongest possible terms at the death threats and anti-Semitic graffiti that have sprung up in parts of Redbridge as a consequence of Israel’s war on Gaza. These acts do not progress the cause of justice for Palestinians, rather they divide communities that have lived peaceably together for many years.
Palestine is a political issue. The Palestinian people have been dispossessed and colonised by a state and army whose actions belie their lip service to any humanitarian creed that thinking people recognise. However this occupation and its periodic outbursts of violence are supported by people of all religions and of none. It would not have been possible for Israel to have continued with her callous behaviour without the continued support of the United States, the EU, our government, the Christian Zionists, and the undemocratic leaders of the Arab regimes.
Wider and wider sections of civil society throughout the world and indeed in Israel itself, are increasingly coming to understand the full horror of the war being waged by Israel against the Palestinian people. However, the solidarity movement has been active for many years, even when the issue was dormant in the media. This movement has always been supported by people from all walks of life, who believe in equality and justice, including many Jews acting in accordance with traditional Jewish ethics and morality.
We write as such Jews, appalled that there are those who would use this time not to address the issue of Palestine by criticising the Israeli government through the many available outlets, or by protesting to Her Majesty’s Government at its complicity with Israel’s actions, but by descending to crude anti-Semitism. This upsurge of racism is no way to advance any cause.
Naomi Wimborne Idrissi