The week in brief, 27th September-3rd October – a summary of recent postings

October 3, 2010


All energy this week has gone into the Jewish Boat to Gaza. The boat set off towards Gaza last Sunday as we reported in last week’s website mailing. Since then many people’s time was fully taken up with keeping in touch with the boat and getting news out of its progress and its boarding [‘peaceful, according to the IDF!], securing the release of all its passengers and crew, placing articles and interviews, updating the Jewish Boat to Gaza website – and much else beside. Heartiest congratulations to all those on the boat, who were bravely in the frontline, but also to those behind the scenes who did so much to make the project a resounding success. You might not have known that from the UK media who were often churlish about reporting it; but elsewhere, beginning with Israel, interest was intense and widespread.

Many of our postings related to the boat. These included the delightful Haaretz cartoon of “the Jewish flotilla”, complete with its sukka; updates and appeals for action (contacting the FCO and MPs – thanks to all who rallied so quickly); Lynne Segal’s Thoughts on the Jewish boat to Gaza; Yonatan Shapira’s journal pages as the boat approached Cyprus; early reports of the boarding of the boat and then Yonathan and Italmar’s interview and Capt Glyn Secker’s account of the Israeli boarding of the boat and their treatment at the hands of the Israeli forces.

Just to draw particular attention to Lynne Segal’s comment on OpenDemocracy (turned down more than once by the Guardian and also by Comment is Free). She had written to Dr Eyad Sarraj, our old friend from the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, and hero of non-violent resistance in Palestine, about the boat. Her article includes his moving reply to her. Here are some extracts: “I have helped and worked with and received other boats, but this is the most significant one for me, because it carries such an important message. It brings to us and tells the world that those we Palestinians thought we should hate as our enemies can instead arrive as our friends, our brothers and sisters, sharing a love for humanity and for our struggle for justice and peace… Please, never despair that you cannot bring peace, and never give up work for a just world. When I see, read, and relate to Jews who believe in me as an equal human being, and who tell me that their definition of humanity is not complete without me, I become stronger in my quest for justice and peace…”

So we’ve been a bit swamped over the last week, and didn’t carry too much else. The big non-event of the week (driving the boat off the news pages for a while) was the non-renewal of the settlement freeze and would Abbas/wouldn’t Abbas walk out of the peace talks (read ‘peace’ talks) in response. He decided to postpone a decision for  a week while consulting with the Arab League and we await the result. We’ll carry a story when there seems to be anything worth saying about it…

We reported previously that the independent fact-finding mission report on the May flotilla debacle had been tabled at the UN Human Rights Council. This week Larry Derfner published a swinging indictment of the Israeli approach in his ‘Rattling the Cage’ column in the Jerusalem Post and bitterly mocks the idea that Israel can investigate itself.

An Israeli Supreme Court ruling a week ago may allow settler groups to move into dozens more homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. We can only trust that logic of restoring property to its rightful owners before 1948 will mean that Palestinians will soon find themselves returning en masse to their former homes in Haifa, Jaffa, West Jerusalem and elsewhere.

The one-state-two-state question won’t go away this side of a resolution of the conflict. Diane Mason explores the very different understandings of what a ‘one-state solution’ would be on her Lawrence of Cyberia blog. She argues: “The I/P conflict isn’t about one state versus two states; it’s about whether – in a land where many different kinds of people live – only one “kind” of people should have all the benefits of a modern democratic state reserved to it…”

Finally, Michel Platini, president of the European Union of Football Associations (Uefa), took a strong stand on Israel’s refusal to allow six members of the Palestinian national team to travel from Gaza to Mauritania for a fixture in August: “We accepted them in Europe and furnished them with the conditions for membership and they must respect the letter of the laws and international regulations otherwise there is no justification for them to remain in Europe”, he said. “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.”

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