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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

It is the best of states, the worst of states


Israelis who ‘don’t give a hoot about Palestinians’ agree the occupation should end  — so Israelis need have no contact with Palestinians at all. An impenetrable wall should help. Photo taken on Nov. 28, 2004 by Gil Cohen Magen/Reuters of the section of the  security barrier which separates the West Bank city of Abu Dis from Jerusalem.

Eye of the Beholder: Why Israel Is a Light Unto Nations for Some, a Pariah for Others

Concern for Palestinians keep the privileged few up at night, while the millions who have benefitted from life in Israel are more concerned about the danger Palestinians pose to it

By Moshe Arens, Haaretz premium
October 23, 2017

“Ours is the best of countries,” said the taxi driver who took me from Tel Aviv to my home, as I sat down next to him. I suppose he felt this needed an explanation, so he went on to tell me his story.

“My family arrived from Iraq with only their clothes on their backs. They took the rings from the fingers of the women before they let them leave Iraq. For two years they lived in a tent in an immigrant camp near Netanya. From there they moved to a prefab and lived with six children in one room. For some years I have been self-employed, running a diamond-polishing firm. When business turned bad recently I decided to start driving a taxi. We have two sons. One is a doctor, the other an engineer in high-tech. Ours is the best of countries,” he repeated. “I don’t know what they’re complaining about,” he concluded.

There must be hundreds of thousands like him in Israel, I thought to myself. Immigrants from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, Libya, other Maghreb states, from the former Soviet Union, no doubt also many of Israel’s Arab citizens. Who feel that Israel has given them the opportunity to take a giant step to advance themselves and their families professionally, materially and in their social standing. In another generation the immigrants from Ethiopia will surely join their ranks. Israel is truly the best of countries.

 

 

Lod, working class area, mixed Arab and Jewish. December 2011 photo by ActiveStills, from Bimkom, Planners for Planning Rights

So who is complaining, and what are they complaining about? They come mostly from the wealthier, more educated segments of Israel’s population. Their hearts go out to the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria, and the “occupation” keeps them awake at night. They are joined by those who don’t give a hoot about the Palestinians but simply want to separate them from us and they believe that an end to the “occupation” will bring that about. “Build a wall and keep them away from us” is their slogan.

To them, Israel is the worst of countries. As far as they are concerned, nothing here is right. Their dream is to bring down the Likud-led government, but they don’t seem to realize that electoral support for this government comes from those of us who believe that ours is the best of countries. Unless these critics can reach out to them, that government will remain in power.


Jisr al-Zarqa, above, is Israel’s poorest town. It is a Palestinian (Israeli Arab) town which a resident told MEE sometimes ‘looks like a refugee camp’. Caesarea, the holiday resort of choice for wealthy Israelis, sits directly south of impoverished Jisr al-Zarqa, on the other side of an earthen embankment erected in 2002 to divide the two communities.

“Ali says the embankment is another example of official Israeli discrimination against its Palestinian citizens, on top of the restrictions on fishermen.

‘We struggled to protest against this wall,” Ali said. “But in the end they built it.’
“The embankment is 1,500 metres long, five metres wide, and between eight and 10 metres tall.” Photo by Dave Leins, and quotes from In Israel’s poorest town, Palestinian fishermen forced to give up livelihoods, MEE, May 2016.

Are the millions who have benefited from living in Israel insensitive to the fate of the Palestinians? You would need a poll answer that question. It would seem they assign a much lower priority to the fate of the Palestinians than to Israel’s security and the danger they believe the Palestinians and their aspirations pose to it.

And those who consider themselves liberals, who worry about the Palestinians, are they not aware of the good Israel has done for millions of Israelis? To them, so it seems, that does not compare to the suffering they believe Israel has caused the Palestinians.

So there you have it. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

EPA photo of the June 2011 social protests printed by the Daily Mail whose headline was: “A very middle-class protest: Complaints over price of COTTAGE CHEESE spark Israel’s biggest demonstration”. Many observers noted that the protesters refused to mention the Occupation.

The concern of liberals for the suffering of others is natural and fully justified. It is they, generally affluent and educated, who brought Barack Obama to the White House and who enthusiastically supported his policy favouring the underprivileged – blacks, Mexican immigrants, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. But it is also they who ignored the families living in the industrial heartland of America who had lost their jobs and felt they had been moved down the social scale and saw in Hillary Clinton a successor to Obama. They elected Donald Trump.

It is a social phenomenon not dissimilar to what has happened in Israel. But there is one big difference – most Israelis are aware of the security threats facing Israel, and it enters their political calculus.

Moshe Arens immigrated to Israel in 1948. In 1974 he was elected to the Knesset as an MK  for the Likud. In 1982, Arens became the Israeli ambassador to the United States for one year, before returning to Israel to become Defence Minister. Arens also served as Foreign Minister from 1988 to 1990, 
defence minister again between 1990 and 1992, when he retired from politics, returning as defence minister in 1999 .

Middle class Israelis have created many NGOs concerned with human rights which are vital for Israel’s democracy. See the list in the right-hand column of the website.

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