23 Dec Statement on Haneen Zoabi
23 Nov Letter published in the JC
30 May: Background paper on G4S
22 Feb We have endorsed the call to Make Palestinian Political Prisoners’ Day, 17 April 2012, A Day of International Action
Jan 2012, letter to the JC JfJfP doesn’t do ‘gloating’…
24 Jan: Letter published in the Sandbach Chronicle, Cheshire
Your Christian Zionist correspondents Christopher Proudlove and E.A.Jones (Letters, December 27th) both invoke the San Remo Convention of 1923 in support of their claim that, as Mr Proudlove puts it, “Israel is not an illegal occupier”.
Mr Jones writes: “The San Remo Convention of 1923 ratified the Balfour Declaration of 1917, giving all the land west of the River Jordan to the Jews. This treaty has never been annulled.”Like the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Convention was careful to refer to a “national home for the Jewish people” – i.e. not the establishment of a Jewish State and not “giving all the land west of the River Jordan to the Jews” – and included the words “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. The San Remo Convention also stated that the agreement was reached “on the understanding that there was inserted in the process-verbal an undertaking by the Mandatory Power that this would not involve the surrender of the rights hitherto enjoyed by the non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.
The reason that the San Remo Convention has never been annulled is that it has become obsolete. There is no longer a League of Nations or a British Mandate. So, even if the San Remo Convention were what your correspondents claim it to be, it would be invalid. Mr Proudlove’s assertion that the San Remo Convention (that is, his distorted version of it) “was sanctioned by the League of Nations and upheld by its successor, the United Nations” is baffling. On the contrary, in resolution after resolution, the United Nations has affirmed that the Occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights is illegal. Examples are Security Council resolutions 242, 252, 446 and 497; there are many others. And the United Nations has recently accepted Palestine as a non-member observer state.
Your correspondents ignore in particular the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. As the Israeli Jewish peace activist Adam Keller, of the Gush Shalom movement, pointed out in a letter published in the Guardian on April 3rd, 2012: “in 2004, the international court of justice in the Hague ruled clearly and unequivocally that the Israeli settlement activity on the West Bank is completely illegal. The international court of justice is the body set up by the international community for the specific purpose of interpreting international law in specific contentious cases, and it did just that….until and unless the international court rules otherwise, its 2004 ruling stands as the authoritative interpretation of international law”.
18 January: Statement in Support of Bab al-Shams
The tent village of Bab al-Shams was set up on Friday January 11th, 2013, on land in E1, which is an area between East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumin.
Bab al-Shams was set up as a “fact on the ground”, in protest against the Israeli government’s authorisation of 3,000 settler homes in E1, in response to the UN’s acceptance of Palestine as a non-member observer state.
The new Israeli settlement would link East Jerusalem with Ma’ale Adumin, thus splitting the West Bank in half and foreclosing the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital..
Israel’s illegal, punitive and unjust authorisation has been strongly criticised by European governments. The governments of Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain summoned their Israeli ambassadors for an explanation.
Although the Bedouin owners of the land had a court order that said the presence of the villagers was legal and that the owners had six days to appeal against the Israeli government’s confiscation of their property, soldiers moved in early on the morning of Sunday January 13th, on the orders of Prime Minister Netanyahu in defiance of the courts, and destroyed the camp and arrested the villagers.
On Friday, Palestinians created a new village, al-Karama – Dignity – beside the village of Beit Iksa, near Jerusalem.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) recognises the moral and legal right and duty of Palestinians to protest against and resist the injustice and illegality of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and salutes the bravery of the activists of Bab al-Shams and al-Karama.
17 Jan: Letter in the Camden New Journal about Veolia
Against Veolia and Israeli occupation
Published: 17 January, 2013
• ALAN Melkman (Letters, January 10) argues that those who campaigned against Veolia as a bidder for the North London Waste Authority “comprehensively lost this campaign”.
As a member of what he refers to as the “ragbag” of pressure groups, the “anti-Veolia extremists” involved, may I respond on behalf of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
We do campaign against Veolia and other companies profiting from Israel’s occupation. We do so not to wage “economic war” on Israel, and not as extremists, but to oppose an illegal occupation that has largely destroyed whatever progressive values that country might once have represented.
JfJfP together with No 2 Veolia Action Group (No2VAG) obtained legal advice, which says that: “There is every reason for excluding Veolia from public contracts in the UK and no good legal reason not to do so.”
This legal briefing clarifies that “The multinational company Veolia operates as a single entity worldwide, providing transport, sewage treatment, landfill and waste collection services that benefit illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. These actions amount to ‘grave misconduct’ in the conduct of business under any reasonable interpretation, given that they directly assist serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israel. Veolia should be excluded from public contracts on these grounds.”
Neither Veolia nor the solicitor for the NLWA has responded to the legal arguments made – and publicly available on our website at http://jfjfp.com/?page_id=30850.
Alan Melkman cites Michael Fallon MP, business and enterprise minister, saying it is not itself against the law for a company to operate in Israeli settlements; but what if that company, by the nature of its activities, is guilty of grave misconduct? Mr Melkman fails to note that minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, in a written parliamentary answer on May 23 2012 regarding illegal Israeli settlements was explicit that companies that have committed “an act of grave professional misconduct in the course of their business or profession… may be excluded from a tender exercise”.
Indeed, Mr Fallon did not assert that companies complicit in grave breaches of human rights cannot be excluded from contracts in the UK.
Mr Melkman also fails to note the official letter from Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, to the NLWA, pointing to Veolia’s complicity in the illegal occupation of Palestinian land (New Journal, November 22).
Yet, despite Veolia’s refusal to confirm its reasons for withdrawing the bid on which they have spent millions and millions of pounds over the last two years, Alan Melkman insists our campaign had nothing to do with Veolia’s decision. We think it is likely that the very effective campaign contributed significantly to this decision.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
The claim by Jewish leaders that “all sections” of the British Jewish community support Israel’s attack on Gaza, reflecting the “national consensus” in Israeli society, as reported on the JC website, is inaccurate and dishonest. Jews for Justice for Palestinians emphatically does not support this. We condemned Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Jabari, as a deliberate and cynical act of escalation and provocation just at the point when the leaders of Hamas and other groups were ready to agree a ceasefire.
Everything that has happened in the days since then reinforces the view that this has been a cynical move by Israeli leaders, designed to abort peace, not to bring it about.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Diana Neslen and Arthur Goodman wrote to Foreign Secretary William Hague on behalf of JfJfP objecting to his assertion that Hamas bears the main responsibility for the current crisis and citing the many Israeli assaults on Palestinian life and the truce potential preceding the barrage on Gaza.
Statement by JfJfP executive
By attacking the crew of the Estelle, Israel yet again proclaims itself a member of the deplorable club of those who violently abuse providers of humanitarian aid. It will not escape notice that one of the Israeli Navy’s victims, tasered repeatedly in the arms and legs, was Elik Elhanan, a member of the Bereaved Families Circle, which is composed of Palestinians and Jews who have lost loved ones in the conflict and who campaign for an end to the violence. Their slogan is: `Nothing Will Change Until We Talk’. Elik’s father, Rami, was on the Irene, the Jewish Boat To Gaza, two years ago, when Yonatan Shapira and his brother Itamar were also violently attacked.
Locked into fear and hatred, the last thing this Israeli government can tolerate is peaceful communication between Israelis and Palestinians. That it can exercise this behaviour with impunity implicates mainstream media, notably the BBC, whose coverage consists solely of conveying the official Israeli news release, and European governments, who, Pavlovian slaves to the US green light, maintain their silence. Thus Netanyahu repeats the lie about the Irene, that there was no resistance and no violence; and the crime of the collective punishment of Gaza continues.
Yonatan was on this boat too. As his mother has stated: `He knows that the Israeli government is doing something unthinkable and we won’t be able to end the conflict like that.’
We send our admiration and heartfelt support to the crew of the Estelle.
Glyn Secker, Captain of The Jewish Boat To Gaza, for the Executive Committee of Jews For Justice For Palestinians – Two Peoples, One Future.
Two weeks ago the Methodist Recorder published a front-page article called Confronting Antisemitism. JfJfP wrote a letter taking up some of its arguments and this was published in the Recorder today (12th October 2012).
Here is the letter. It is followed by another letter, also published today, from Roger Gordon, a Methodist and member of ICAHD-UK.
The original article can be found below these two letters.
1. From the JfJfP Executive
According to your front page article (“Confronting Antisemitism”, 28.09.2012) “Methodist/Jewish relations were badly strained as a result of a resolution of the 2010 Conference calling for a boycott of goods produced from Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory….the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BDBJ) and the Jewish Leadership Council…said…the Conference had ‘swallowed hook, line and sinker a report full of historical inaccuracies, deliberate misrepresentations and distortions of Jewish theology and Israeli policy’”.
You do not cite any other Jewish views on the Methodist Report, thus giving the impression that the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council speak for the whole British Jewish community.
The Methodist Report mentions Rowan Williams’ reference (in his 1994 paper “Holy Land and Holy People”) to – as paraphrased by the Report - ”the idea of a paradigm nation where the Biblical People of God are given a homeland in order to better facilitate the promotion of a community life defined by wisdom and justice”, and draws the conclusion: “Given this understanding, the modern State of Israel, if it claims also to be the homeland for the ancient Jewish People of God, must take seriously this vocation as the paradigm nation where justice and wisdom are seen to be done”.
This concept of the role of the Jewish people in the Holy Land is the basic theme of the Hebrew Bible, so it is hard to see how this is a distortion of Jewish theology.
It was in this spirit that the 2010 Methodist Church Conference adopted resolutions against the Occupation that included a call to boycott goods from oppressive settlements that are illegal under international law and that contradict the requirement for the State of Israel to act with justice and wisdom.
Of course Methodists and Jews should cooperate to challenge anti-Semitism, but all too often, as in this case, the charge of anti-Semitism - and Christian guilt over the anti-Jewish tradition in Christianity that paved the ground for the Holocaust – are exploited in order to ensure that destructive and self-destructive Israeli policies are condoned. As the American Jewish theologian Marc Ellis has put it, the very positive “ecumenical dialogue” has turned into “the ecumenical deal”, according to which Jews only engage with Christians on the tacit condition that Israel is not called to account for its actions.
pp. Executive, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
2. Letter from Roger Gordon
I wish to sound a note of caution in response to the headline article in last week’s Recorder (28 September).
I hope that the implication in it is not that those who campaign in the Methodist Church for Human Rights to be upheld in Israel/Palestine are de facto anti-semitic, as some in the Jewish community accuse them of being, in what is often quite a bullying and threatening fashion. Their shrill pronouncements have been shown at times to be somewhat misinformed, and rather “trigger happy”.
At the same time other Jews, sometimes called “self hating” Jews, are very supportive of the stance taken by the Methodist Church.
I believe we have seen a gradual erosion of the principles of Humanitarian Law which were developed following the horrors of the Second World War – and this has accelerated since 9/11.
In my experience, those campaigning for Human Rights in Israel/Palestine are baffled by the apparent inconsistency between what one understands the Jewish faith tradition stands for, – the glory of God, and fine humanitarian values – and the behaviour of so many soldiers of the Israeli Defence Force, and worse still militant gun-toting settlers, which takes place in a context of relative impunity and can be seen to be supported by Zionist government policies.
Most ordinary Palestinians I have met, and their supporters, along with many Jewish people, care deeply about what is happening to the soul of the Jewish people of Israel as a result of these policies. They also respect the rich Jewish heritage which informed Jesus’s challenging ministry… and they have compassion for the Jewish experience of the Holocaust.
So let us all be Methodist friends of Judaism, and follow Jesus’s message of bringing liberation to the oppressed, and break down the walls of separation and exclusivity at least amongst ourselves as Methodists.
3. The Methodist Recorder front-page article:
The Methodist Recorder, 28th September 2012
By Mark Woods
METHODISTS should challenge anti-Semitism in the Church and the world, according to campaigners – and a new organisation is to be launched to help them do it. The Methodist Friends of Judaism (MFJ) is to be co-ordinated by the Chair of the Lincoln and Grimsby District, the Rev Bruce Thompson, and the superintendent minister of the Queensbury circuit, the Rev Colin Smith.
It aims to celebrate the contribution of Judaism to the Christian faith and to the world at large, to raise awareness of anti-Judaism within the Church and to challenge anti-Semitism in general.
Mr Smith’s circuit includes the largest Jewish population in the country. “Warm links are growing all the time in Barnet between different Jewish communities and Methodists,” he said.
“We need not only to understand each other but also to learn from each other. Anti-Semitism is always a danger, even in our relatively tolerant society, and we must be careful about the language we use and the stereotypes we reinforce. This new organisation is about building friendship and respect.”
Mr Thompson is president of the Lincoln branch of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), having first become associated with the Jewish community during his 18-year ministry in Manchester.
“It had become increasingly clear to us that more needed to be done not only to build closer links with the Jewish communities in our country but develop also, within the Methodist Church itself, a greater appreciation of Judaism,” he said.
“Within our preaching and practice so much misunderstanding prevails. It is clear that God has not finished with the faith in which Christianity was born. As Christians in a increasingly secular world we have much to learn from those who, for generations, have been marginalised and tormented for their beliefs.”
Methodist/Jewish relations were badly strained as a result of a resolution of the 2010 Conference calling for a boycott of goods produced from Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory. A statement from the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BDBJ) and the Jewish Leadership Council described it as a “sad day” and said the report on which the resolution was based was “deeply flawed:” the Conference had “swallowed hook, line and sinker a report full of historical inaccuracies, deliberate misrepresentations and distortions of Jewish theology and Israeli policy,” it said.
One of MFJ’s supporters, former President of the Conference the Rev the Baroness Richardson of Calow, referred to the furore when she reflected on a recent Jewish/Christian study week. “It is always a joy to discover new insights from within the faith that nourished Jesus and to consider together ways in which our separate faith journeys may suggest a common approach to the challenges of life today.
“One of those challenges that threatened our relationship in our recent past has, I believe, stimulated a resolve not to allow the conflicts from across the world to destroy hard-won friendships in our local communities.” Mr Thompson said that while it was impossible to avoid addressing the Israel/Palestine issue, MFJ’s aims were wider than that.
“Some criticism of Israel is legitimate. The danger is that some criticism of Israel is anti- Semitic.” “We need to recognise the extent of anti-Semitism in the Christian Church and in Christian tradition.”
Bristol District Chair the Rev Ward Jones said: “My strong belief is that Methodism in recent years has not had the opportunity to listen to a Jewish narrative and interpretation of the Israel/Palestine issue. I count myself among those who are concerned, but on the fringe of the debate, and, having heard from a pro-Palestinian perspective, would now welcome the opportunity to hear an alternative interpretation.”
MFJ is to be launched next spring at a day-long symposium at which Prof Amy-Jill Levine will be the keynote speaker. Author of “The Misunderstood Jew, the Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus”, she is Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Tennessee and affiliated professor at the Woolf Institute of Cambridge.
Separately, the chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, has warned that problems with the Israeli-Palestine peace process should not define the relationship between Jews and Christians.
Speaking in Westminster Abbey last week he said that across Europe there was a growth in intolerance of the Jewish way of life with challenges to ritual slaughter, circumcision and Kosher food.
5 July 2012: Foreign Office reply to our letter re Mahmoud Sarsak
Our reference: EMOP/931/2012
05 July 2012
Dear Ms Neslen,
Thank you for your email of 11 June to Alistair Burt, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister responsible for our relations with the Middle East, about the about the case of Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been detained for three years under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law. I have been asked to reply.
We monitored closely Mr Sarsak’s hunger strike and were pleased to receive confirmation that, following a review of his case by the Israeli Supreme Court, Mr Sarsak ended his hunger strike on 18 June as part of a deal that will lead to his release on 10 July.
We have longstanding concerns about the situation and treatment of Palestinians, held in Israeli detention, including children. We welcomed the agreement reached on 14 May to end the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners. We particularly welcomed Israel’s agreement to limit the use of administrative detention and solitary confinement and reinstate family visits for detainees. These important issues, particularly Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention, are ones which we have repeatedly raised with the Israeli Ambassador and the Israeli government, including in May with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Vice Prime Minister and National Security Adviser. We will follow closely the implementation of the agreement and its impact on the situation of Palestinian detainees.
The UK remains strongly committed to fostering conditions in which the next generation of Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace.
Near East Group
Letter to the Parliamentary Private Secretary Foreign and Commonwealth office,11th June 2012
Dear Mr Burt
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
25 June 2012: Response to the Board of Deputies attack on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel ( EAPPI)
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has launched a misleading and biased attack on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), in response to news that Church of England General Synod is due to debate and vote on a Private Member’s Motion (PMM) put forward by Dr John Dinnen. This PMM includes a call for the Synod to affirm its support for EAPPI.
The Board of Deputies accuses EAPPI of creating “a cohort of very partisan but very motivated anti-Israel advocates who have almost no grasp of the suffering of normal Israelis”. But EAPPI seeks a just solution to the Israel/Palestine issue that will benefit both Palestinians and Israelis. It operates in term of what it calls “principled impartiality”, its Code of Conduct stating: “We do not take sides in this conflict and we do not discriminate against anyone but we are not neutral in terms of principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. We stand faithfully with the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. We want to serve all parties in this conflict in a fair and unbiased manner in word and action.”
Dr Dinnen’s PMM also includes a call for the Synod to affirm its support for “Israelis and Palestinians in all organisations working for justice and peace in the area, such as the Parents Circle-Families Forum”. This is an organization enthusiastically welcomed in advance of its 2007 UK visit by Flo Kaufmann, Board vice president and chair of its international division. Its UK supporters’ organisation lists Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks among its patrons.
In our view, it is the Board that is partisan, whereas Dr Dinnen’s PMM is balanced in its support for Israeli, Palestinian and international organisations working for reconciliation.
The Board claims that Ecumenical Accompaniers receive only two weeks of residential training beforehand and do not learn about the views of the majority of Israelis. In fact the training takes several months, with many explanations of the mainstream Israeli point of view. While in the region, the Ecumenical Accompaniers visit Israel many times. The Ecumenical Accompaniers are not only Christians but include Muslims and Jews (some of whom are signatories of Jews for Justice for Palestinians).
We cannot help but feel that the Board’s objection is to the core of the EAPPI mission itself, which is “to provide up-to-date, reliable information on the occupation”. Perhaps the Board thinks that the only problem with the occupation is that human-rights organisations like EAPPI insist on witnessing and talking about the injustices they witness.
The Board of Deputies claims to represent the British Jewish community, but fails to take into account the growing concern among British Jews – a concern extending far beyond our signatories – about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. JfJfP recently wrote to the President of the Board of Deputies, Vivian Wineman, to ask him what the Board of Deputies is doing to represent and respond to the increasing anxiety within the British Jewish community about the Israeli government’s policies. We cited as just a few examples: a) child prisoners; b) administrative detention; c) house demolitions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank; d) the Supreme Court’s recent upholding of the 2003 law that prevents Palestinians from the Occupied Territories who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel from obtaining Israeli citizenship or residency; e) the relentless growth of settlements in the Occupied Territories. Mr Wineman’s letter in response never answered this question or addressed the issues raised.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians exists to give voice to this increasing concern within the Jewish community about the Israeli government’s destructive and self-destructive policies. JfJfP applauds the monitoring and protective activities of EAPPI and the efforts of all Israelis and Palestinians working for justice and peace, and very much hopes that the Synod will vote in favour of Dr Dinnen’s PMM
see here for further information
21 June 2012 – Letter to the Foreign Secretary about the crisis in Susya
Dear Foreign Secretary
On behalf of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a network of British Jews who oppose Israeli policies that undermine the civil, human and political rights of the Palestinians, we would like to bring to your attention the situation that is developing in the Palestinian village of Susya, a village which several of our signatories have visited in the past.
Following a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court, the Israeli army are threatening the destruction of Susya, which nestles in the shadow of the larger illegal Israeli settlement of Susya built on expropriated land belonging to the villagers of Susya. The Palestinian village of Susya has existed for centuries, long before the modern Jewish settlement of Susya was built in 1983. In 1986 the Israeli authorities expropriated part of the village’s residential land in order to establish an “archaeological site”.
The Israeli government has invested heavily to provide infrastructure to the illegal settlement of Susya in Area C. At the same time it has put every obstacle in the way of developing an infrastructure for the Palestinian people who live in the village of Susya. However an Israeli group was formed which together with the local people helped to build the solar panels which finally brought them electricity.
All this is now threatened. The demolition order from the Israeli civil administration covers dwellings, animal pens, water cisterns, and the solar powered electricity system. Although the Palestinians are the rightful owners of the land, their claim was disregarded by the Israeli courts, which protect the settlement enterprise in preference to Palestinian rights and international law. If the people of Susya are dispersed, they will not be compensated and will just be driven away to find what shelter they can in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
“The British Government, and our EU partners, have made it consistently clear that settlement construction is illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and should stop immediately, in line with Israel’s own commitment under the 2003 road map.
“Continued systematic settlement activity, and repeated breaches by the Israeli government of international law, is provocative, undermines the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and makes the two-state solution ever harder to realise. It makes it increasingly difficult for Israel’s international friends to defend the Israeli government’s actions.
“I urge the Israeli government to change its approach, to meet its international obligations fully and for both sides to engage constructively in the search for peace”.
Spokesperson for Jews for Justice for Palestinians
P.O. Box 46081
London W9 2ZF
Letter of support to the Coop
21 June 2012
Ethics Projects Adviser
Dear Mr Brightwell
On behalf of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a network of British Jews who oppose Israeli policies that undermine the civil, human and political rights of the Palestinians, we are writing to express our support for the stand you have taken to end trade with companies that export produce from illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine territory.
We believe that the occupation is ruining the lives and future of the Palestinian people, while undermining the moral compass of the Israeli state and its supporters. It is now abundantly clear that Israel will continue to profit from the occupation as long as there is no incentive to change. This is why our organisation promotes boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli and foreign companies profiting from the operation and why we congratulate you on the position your organisation has taken.
We, the largest Jewish peace and human rights group in Britain , with 1700 signatories, regard it as vital that Jewish people maintain a commitment to our view of Jewish ethics which demands of us that we pursue justice. We reject the claim of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to speak for the whole Jewish community. Its uncritical support for Israel excuses whatever egregious actions Israel chooses to pursue. We want you to know that the Co-op’s action has the support of many concerned Jews.
We applaud your ethical stance and ask only that you continue to hold fast to your ideals which we share.
Spokesperson for Jews for Justice for Palestinians
11 June 2012: Open letter to the Israeli Ambassador re Mahmoud Sarsak
We are writing to bring to your attention the case of the footballer from Gaza, Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been on hunger strike for 81 days. We are deeply concerned about his condition and would urge you to make representations to the Israeli Justice department that, in the absence of any evidence sufficient to try Mr Sarsak, he be released immediately.
We understand the situation to be as follows. Three years ago Mahmoud Sarsak was crossing from Gaza to the West Bank in order to take up his place in the Palestine Football team. He was arrested and has since been held without trial as an unlawful combatant. Israel has produced no evidence to support this allegation and thus his continuous imprisonment seems to be a travesty of justice.
When he was offered consideration if he ended his hunger strike, he requested that this be put in writing. When the Israeli Prisons Authority refused to comply with this request, he decided to maintain his hunger strike, as he did not feel that they were negotiating in good faith.
We believe strongly that Israel gains nothing from this cruel and inhuman treatment of a promising young footballer and will be found guilty in the court of public opinion if he is callously allowed to die. We urge you to do everything in your power to bring this matter to the attention of those in a position to act, so that a tragedy is averted.
Join the G4S protest on 7th June at 12.30pm – a JfJfP background information briefing follows below
Join activists from different movements opposing G4S for a demonstration in the heart of the City. Bring banners, drums and anything else you can make noise with!
Boycott Israel Network
Croydon Migrant Solidarity
Defend the Right to Protest
International Federation of Iraqi Refugees
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
No Borders London
No One is Illegal
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group
Stop Deportation Network
Yorkshire Region Plus No to G4S Campaign30 May: JfJfP Background paper on G4S
JfJfP background note:
Jews for Justice for Palestinians has a policy of support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against settlement products and companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. We have been actively involved in recent years in campaigns against companies in this category such as Ahava and Veolia, where we have made a solid input. Following evidence given by Who Profits (Coalition of Women for Peace) to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, in London in November 2010, which identified G4s, a British-Danish company, as profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, we decided to initiate work on this particular company.
The charge sheet against G4S is as follows:
- G4S provides security equipment and services to incarceration facilities holding Palestinian political prisoners inside Israel and in the occupied West Bank.
- G4S provides security services to businesses in the illegal Jewish Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
- G4S provides equipment and maintenance services to Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank.
- G4S has provided security systems for the Israeli Police headquarters in the occupied West Bank.
Jfjfp set up a small informal group, in which other interested parties were represented. We made some early headway in identifying that G4S was providing security services to the buildings of the European Parliament. This contract was due for renewal and we were able to join with MEPs in what would ultimately prove to be a successful campaign against the renewal of the contract. The publication of the outcome of the bid, rejecting G4s, came in April 2012, a few days before Palestine Prisoners Day on 17th April.
On Palestine Prisoners Day this year, representatives of Palestine Civil Society made the following call:
Emphasizing imprisonment as a critical component of Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid practiced against the Palestinian people, we call for intensifying the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to target corporations profiting directly from the Israeli prison system. In particular, we call for action to be taken to hold to account G4S, the world’s largest international security corporation, which helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law.
It is right that the prisoner issue has come to the fore, because that is where the behaviour of any oppressive regime is most evident. It is through the use of imprisonment that these regimes try to strangle the development of a political leadership that would challenge their hegemony. Israel is no different. Israel uses a British colonial instrument, administrative detention – internment on the basis of secret evidence without trial or release date – to keep Palestinian political prisoners behind bars, for years if necessary, in an attempt to break their will. It also uses solitary confinement and severely limits family visits. The prisoners are held in Israeli jails, in violation of article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of those who are occupied to the territory of the Occupying Power. There is also compelling evidence of torture. Recently 1600 prisoners went on hunger strike which only ended months later when some of their demands were met. Children too are victims – kidnapped late at night, bound, blindfolded and brought before military courts prior to imprisonment. This is contrary to the UN convention on the rights of the child.
G4S supplies systems to many of the prisons which hold both adult and child prisoners, as well as security series in the occupied territories. It is also a company with tentacles throughout the public realm; the British Government and local authorities have contracted out housing for asylum seekers, prisons, welfare to work areas, large parts of the criminal justice system, security and transport in the health service and local authorities to G4S. All manner of private companies use G4S and they will be approached to consider alternative suppliers. This is despite the history of the UK Border Agency which had outsourced deportation to this company. Following the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan asylum seeker, while being restrained by G4S employees, the contract was withdrawn. But other contracts with G4S remain in place.
We are now part of a much large grouping of activists both here and abroad campaigning against this complicit company. This is involving us in the scrutiny of both government and local authority contracts for evidence of G4S involvement, in order to draw their attention to the role of G4S in Israel’s occupation and to encourage them to consider whether G4S is a fit company to provide services to the public. We shall also look carefully at companies with an ethical investment policy who invest in G4S, in order to encourage them to divest.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is to be thanked for her strong criticism of Israel’s policy of “administrative detention”, internment without trial or release date, on the basis of secret evidence.
Israel pleads in mitigation that it is only following the lead given by the British during the mandate period. Britain at that time was the colonial power and administrative detention is the resource of choice for colonial powers. Thus does Israel conform to type.
Israel boasts that its illegal wall has given it unprecedented security. So it is stretching credulity to believe its protestations that the prisoners it holds within its territory, in violation of the Geneva Convention, are a security threat. Rather they seem to be political prisoners, held because of their beliefs.
In our view the behaviour of Israel with respect to the political prisoners does not conform to Jewish ethics or values; and those who paint Israel’s critics in this matter as anti-Semites show the bankruptcy of their arguments.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
In March 2010 the European Parliament voted to freeze the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) because of Israel’s attack on Gaza. This agreement is formulated to increase the accessibility of Israel’s products to European markets and vice versa. JfJfP supports the freeze on Israel’s access to the EU markets in the light of Israel’s refusal to lift the siege of Gaza, its continued expansion of settlements, expropriation of lands and water in the occupied territories and denial of civil and human rights to the indigenous Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and in the unrecognised villages of the Negev.
We have been told that there is now a strong push to challenge this freeze and a new agreement will be coming to the European Parliament shortly for ratification of this treaty. The EU is particularly interested in pursuing ratification with respect to Israeli pharmaceuticals. However we believe that this is the thin end of a wedge and have composed a letter for individuals to send to their MEPs.
To find your MEP: go to the website www.writetothem.com, where you will be asked to enter your post code, then lists of elected representatives are shown. Click on ‘write to all your MEPs’ and follow the instructions giving your personal details and enter your version of the letter as the website advises “Use your own words; we block copied-and-pasted identical messages”.
If you prefer, you can find your MEPs by going to http://www.europarl.europa.eu/
Suggested letter text:
It is now clear that a possible agreement between Israel and the EU on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) in relation to pharmaceuticals will shortly be coming before the European Parliament for ratification. I urge you to oppose this agreement.
This agreement was frozen following the attack on the humanitarian flotilla to Gaza in international waters. It is difficult to understand how things have changed since that time, so as to allow for reconsideration.
The Draft Opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs 2009/0155(NLE) which has been circulated to MEPs sets out clearly how the EU would breach its international obligations if it adopted the proposed protocol. As the draft opinion states:
“At the present Israel applies all the agreements concluded with the EU on the whole of ‘the territory of the state of Israel’ as defined in Israeli national law, including the territories she has occupied since 1967…[EU] authorities, therefore, are required to refrain from giving effect to them in any way whatsoever, since it is prohibited by current community law and the EU’s international obligations.”
The draft opinion goes on to point out that if Israel applies the agreement to those parts of the occupied territories not under Palestinian economic control (something that it will most certainly do), “the EU would be failing to comply with its Community Law and its obligations under international law.”
Thus it would seem that if the EU decides to disregard these strictures, they would be making a political statement, a statement of support for the policies of Israel. This is not just a technical issue, as some have suggested. Rather it will be considered by Israel as a sign that its refusal to abide by international law and international human rights law is of no account and will, indeed, be rewarded.
The EU’s stated positions on the Middle East are absolutely clear, in relation to Gaza, with its calls to lift the blockade, as well as the West Bank where the settlements, which the EU and indeed the world, regard as an obstacle to peace, continue to expand. Israel’s refusal to countenance the freezing of settlement building has contributed to the termination of the peace process. In the past three months there have been three internal reports by EU heads of mission detailing human rights violations committed by Israel in the occupied West Bank, in East Jerusalem and against Palestinian citizens within Israel.
It is imperative that a clear signal is sent to Israel that there will be no benefit to the country or to its industries as long as it continues to violate international law and international human rights law. The EU needs to remain firm in its commitment to the principles of justice and accountability. If Israel is rewarded for its violations, it will have no incentive to change. I therefore urge you to reject the EU-Israel Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial products.
Letter to the Jewish Chronicle, January 2012
Nobody was at the court case (‘Zionists always lose’ chant as SOAS cheekbiter is acquitted of assault http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-
17 November 2011
JfJfP salutes freedom riders
JfJfP salutes the brave Palestinian freedom riders, who chose to challenge the system of privilege which deprives them of rights in their own land, by riding on the buses reserved for the illegal Israeli Jewish settlers, in the hope of reaching Jerusalem. We stand in solidarity with their demand for freedom of movement, for an end to segregation and discrimination, for the right to be treated with dignity and equality, and for an end to the occupation.
4th November 2011
We deplore Israel’s interception in international waters of the US and Irish boats, Tahrir and Saoirse, bound for Gaza. Israel’s blockade of Gaza is collective punishment of the entire population and is illegal in international law. With determination we continue our campaign against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, with its gross violations of human rights and justice. As Jews we proclaim loudly that what Israel is doing is avowedly not in our name.
Executive Committee, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Captain, Jewish Boat to Gaza, September 2010
2nd November 2011
JfJfP welcomes ASA decision
JfJfP welcomes the firm response from the Advertising Authorities pointing out that ILAN was misleading the public in offering houses for sale in occupied Palestine. We hope that Israeli firms profiting from this illegal occupation will take note, and not only be more careful about their advertisements in the future, but will also recognise their responsibility to international law and completely end their investment in stolen lands.
Letter published in the JC on 5.8.11
You quote Carol Roberts (“Rich talk for Israel critics”, JC, July 29) describing Jews for Justice for Palestinians as “virulently anti-Israel”.
We challenge the policies of the Israeli government and are dedicated to ending the occupation, to supporting peace, human rights, justice and compassion for all Israelis and Palestinians, surely a reflection of Jewish ethical tradition.
Such misconceptions arise as long as those with alternative views about the direction in which Israel is travelling are demonised and denied the opportunity to debate and discuss their views within Jewish venues.
We Jews pride ourselves in our tradition of genuine debate: the JC, for example, includes alternative views on many issues. Rabbi Danny Rich should be congratulated for his willingness to work with the growing community of Jewish human rights activists. Let’s not shut down discussion on an issue which provokes so much passion.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Protests at IDF night time raid on Freedom Theatre, Jenin
It is with profound shock and dismay that we have learnt of the onslaught on the Freedom Theatre by members of the Israeli Defence Forces. It is beyond our understanding that a cultural icon like the Freedom Theatre, the only professional venue for theatre and multi media in the Northern West Bank, could be attacked in such a brutal manner.
We note that, in accordance with army practice, the theatre was raided at 3am in the morning and the manager, Adnan Naghnaghiye, together with Bilal Saadi, a member of the board, were arrested and taken to an unknown location. The General Manager of the Theatre, Jacob Gough, from the United Kingdom and Jonatan Stanczak, the co-founder, were made to squat next to a family with four small children and surrounded by 50 heavily armed soldiers, who threatened them with abuse when they tried to reason with them.
The actions of the Israeli army are more in keeping with those of police state, afraid of the power of human expression, than with one that chooses to call itself a democracy.
We demand that the arrested members be released immediately and the attacks on the theatre cease.
Executive Jews for Justice for Palestinians
See more on this topic here.
Two boats head for Gaza
We would like to express admiration for the French boat, Dignité Al Karama, and the courage of its crew which, in the face of coordinated hostility by Israel and Greece, managed to challenge the blockade of Gaza. This vicious, morally repugnant siege constitutes an international crime, a denial of freedom and a violation of human rights and dignity. We will campaign relentlessly to bring it down.
Glyn Secker, Captain of the Irene, The Jewish Boat To Gaza which sailed and was boarded by Israeli forces last September, on behalf of Jews For Justice For Palestinians and the passengers and crew of the Irene.
See more on this topic here
JfJfP wishes to express its abhorrence at the passing of the Boycott Law on July 12 in the Knesset. We fully support the petitions to the Supreme Court from Gush Shalom and ACRI (the Association for Civil Rights in Israel). Below are respectively their press release and letter to supporters, together with a press release from four Israeli human rights groups – Adalah (the legal centre for Palestinian citizens of Israel), PHR-I (Physicians for Human Rights – Israel), CWP (Coalition of Women for Peace) and PCATI (Public Committee Against Torture in Israel) – who had written an urgent letter of protest to the Israeli Ministers of Justice and Finance and to the Knesset Chair just before the Knesset vote. These four groups are also intending to challenge the law in the courts.
As Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom has said: “this law makes everyone who calls for boycotting the settlements liable for paying millions of shekels in compensation to the settlers…..This law makes it unequivocally clear that it isn’t Israel that controls the settlements, but the settlers who control Israel”.
The passing of the Boycott Law signals the victory of the extreme right and the defeat of the Israeli democratic left, who – with the exception of small, brave and beleaguered groups such as these human rights organisations – have, by their silence in the face of previous attacks on democratic rights, and their lack of an alternative vision, contributed to the political climate in which this undemocratic law can be passed.
We strongly support the legal challenge, as an initial step in reversing the downward slide of Israel towards totalitarianism.
See more on this topic here.
European Jews for a Just Peace condemn the actions of Israel and her collaborators against peace activists
European Jews for a Just Peace congratulates the humanitarian activists of the Free Gaza flotilla for bravely withstanding the acts of sabotage, the illegal boarding and capture of their boats, and personal vilification. Their efforts to throw a public lifeline to the imprisoned people of Gaza may in some instances have failed. However the activists have succeeded in exposing the fact that Israel continues its illegal blockade of the people of Gaza, whose human rights are forfeit, while too many governments scramble to collude with Israel’s continued depredations, and in so doing operate a policy of appeasement.
EJJP further congratulates all those activists who flew in to Ben Gurion airport to visit the occupied territories of Palestine. The full might of the Israeli police, government, media and public was mobilised against people whose only ‘crime’ was to state honestly the purpose of their mission. We note too the craven complicity of commercial airline operators in preventing people from flying to their destinations. In its denial of the right of Palestinians to invite guests openly into their homes, and in demonising those guests, Israel exposes itself as callous and racist in its attitude to those over whom it holds dominion. The effect of criminalising tourists in this way shows how distant Israel is from any idea of democratic behaviour and how occupation has eroded any moral compass it may once have professed.
European Jews for a Just Peace – www.ejjp.org – is a federation of Jewish Peace groups working and campaigning in 10 European countries.
See more on this topic here.
JfJfP letter to the Home Secretary regarding the arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah
Jews for Justice for Palestinians wish to make the strongest possible objection to the arrest and possible deportation of Sheikh Raed Salah. Over the last three days, Sheikh Salah has been addressing public meetings and has even appeared in the Houses of Parliament. It is difficult to understand how the Government could suddenly have become so agitated by his presence.
We note the reason for his arrest is that ‘his presence is not conducive to the public good’. We say on the contrary, his arrest and deportation would certainly not be conducive to the public good. We note that the press has been making scurrilous accusations against him, which are subject to a libel action. This would be difficult to pursue, were he to be deported, thus undermining the judicial process. We have been unable to find any substance to the allegations of antisemitism made against him. He appeared recently on a platform in Tel Aviv University which upheld his right to speak there. One does not have to agree with someone to allow them the right to speak.
We believe the decision of the Home Secretary sends exactly the wrong message to the people of this country, namely that Free Speech is a moveable feast, once those with certain interests make a decision as to entitlement. Furthermore, we believe this decision will have most unfortunate consequences for community cohesion in this country, targeting as it does someone with a strong following in the Muslim community.
We would strongly urge you to reconsider your decision.
See more on this topic here.
Letter sent re academic freedom at Liverpool University
Dear Professor Greer
We have been made aware of a rather disturbing development at your University. We understand that the Healthy Inclusion course arranged a talk on living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories. An Israeli student complained, with the result that the Healthy inclusion course, which has been running satisfactorily for over three years, was suspended.
It is not clear whether the course was suspended because it promulgated untruths, or whether the course was suspended because it promulgated truths which certain people wish to hide. In our view, there is no doubt that the appalling living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories demand exposure, a view that we understand was reinforced by Pat Revans, facilitator of Friends of the Holy Land.
We can therefore only surmise that the student had problems dealing with the reality of the situation and hoped by making a complaint to censor material that created discomfort. It is our considered view that Israeli interests, while profiting from an egregious occupation, try to smother discussion of it, rather like having one’s cake and eating it. If the student concerned had evidence to challenge the speaker, by all means that is what should have been done and what the university should have encouraged.
By its action of suspending the course, the University seems to be taking the position of support for censoring material. This is a fundamental attack on academic freedom. We would strongly urge the university to uphold the traditions of openness and unfettered debate and not allow itself to be intimidated by the enemies of free discourse
With best wishes,
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
P O Box 46081, London W9 2ZF
JfJfP statement on the Nakba
The Israeli killing machine
The Nakba demonstrations on Sunday, 15 may 2011, show us once again that Israel is the equal of Syria, Bahrain and Libya in suppressing demonstrations. Not content with firing tear gas, the IDF fired rubber bullets and in some cases live rounds to disperse the demonstrators and force them back from Israel’s borders. In Gaza, Palestinian refugees marched to the border with Israel, while in Syria and Lebanon the refugees marching to the border were joined by Syrians and Lebanese. Palestinians also demonstrated in Ramallah. The demonstrators were armed only with rocks and sticks. Accounts of numbers casualties vary, but it is clear that more than 10 demonstrators were killed and more than 400 injured.
Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu’s comment was chilling, “We hope calm and quiet will quickly return. But let nobody be misled: we are determined to defend our borders and sovereignty.” He uttered not a word about the refugees’ legitimate grievances because the Israeli government has never acknowledged any.
We are reminded of the IDF’s violent suppression of the peaceful protests against the separation wall in Bi’lin and other West Bank villages. Most of all we are reminded of the Israeli security forces’ suppression of the protests by Israeli Palestinians in late September –early October 2000. The Israeli security forces killed seven in riots around the Al Aqsa Mosque, one child in Gaza, and 15 in demonstrations in Umm Al Fahm. There was not one word from the Israeli government about the failure of the Camp David negotiations, which were supposed to lead to the creation of a Palestinian state, or of Ariel Sharon’s provocative walk on the Haram al Sharif protected by a phalanx of Israeli security personnel, which precipitated the rioting. In the eight years of the second intifada that followed those demonstrations, nearly 5,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis were killed.
We fervently hope that these latest killings will not lead to another violent intifada, but Israel’s propensity to meet legitimate grievance with suppression does not give confidence that it will be avoided.
JfJfP welcomes the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas.
JfJfP welcomes the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas. We believe that it is only through unity and common purpose that the Palestinians will be able to work effectively towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, thus realising their inalienable right to self determination. Both Israelis and Palestinians need this unity to advance towards a true peace with justice.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Premier, has so comprehensively rejected this opportunity to show statesmanship, that his words expose instead the bankruptcy of the Israeli government’s position, and their unwillingness to contemplate peace, a peace that will have to be made between enemies, not between friends.