Israel and Palestine
** Quakers urge recognition of Palestine **
|News items and articles||Issues including introductory notes on the Israel/Palestine conflict.|
> Quakers in Britain have recommended a Boycott on goods from illegal settlements on the West Bank.
> The Israeli government has persistently ignored resolutions of The United Nations.
> Israel's treatment of the Palestinians condemned by European Parliament.
|8 Jan||Letter supporting London replica Wall|
|16 Nov||White Man's Burden, Israeli style|
|8 Oct||Methodists consult on BDS|
|29 Aug||Humanity and brutality|
|22 Aug||Appeal from QPSW re EU and settlements|
|1 Aug||Plan to ethnically cleanse Negev Bedouin|
|27 Apr||Israelis resisting dispossession|
|19 Apr||Vanunus' suffering|
|13 Apr||Sufferings discuss boycott of Israel|
|9 Apr||Remember the massacre at Deir Yassin|
|3 Apr||Should we boycott Israel?|
|5 Feb||Letter re settlement product|
The very brave Rector of St James’ Piccadilly, the Rev Lucy Winkett, is now under attack. For the 12 Days of Christmas her church has run a Palestinian Festival, Bethlehem Unwrapped. But the highlight and indeed main purpose of this was an exact replica of the Wall around Bethlehem, installed in the courtyard outside her church. This event received almost no main stream news coverage although the Wall has attracted many thousands of visitors. Her Bishop, Richard Chartres, (with whom she has a good relationship and whom she alerted of the event) will receive hundreds if not thousands of letters and emails condemning the initiative.
She would be very grateful indeed if anyone were to write to Chartres in her support and I would strongly, strongly urge you to do this. If you are part of a church perhaps you could organise a letter writing campaign. Probably email followed by hard copy is best.
His PA is
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Bishop of London
The Old Deanery
I very much hope you will be able to give your full support to Lucy Winkett’s brave initiative at St James’ Piccadilly, with the replica Wall around Bethlehem.
I think many people have found extraordinary the Church’s lack of protest at the increasing destruction of the Holy Land ( as olive hills go under the bulldozer to make Israeli - only settlements and broad roads for settlers) and the even more deafening silence as the Arab poor are dispossessed of land and water and any kind of human dignity.
Lucy will suffer for daring to stand up and be counted. I hope you will read a small section of her emails to understand the hate and vilification she is up against. Such courage is rare among public figures.
While those who continue to support the policies of the Israeli government, shout ‘‘terrorism’’ in defence of its every illegal act and human rights violation, the facts are as stated in the Church Times. 85 per cent of the Wall’s route is inside the West Bank and it was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Its impact on ordinary families, and their access to health, education, their farmland and the economy is incalculable.
It is absurd to claim that this kind of savage treatment by an occupier can ever result in greater security for Israel.
May I leave you with one final fact? 129 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,519 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since 29 September, 2000
Time to speak clearly?
White Man's Burden - Israeli Style
From The Villages Group, an association of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis who Barnstaple and Exeter Quaker Meetings and Palestine Solidarity Campaign groups have chosen to link with.
By a miracle of sorts, we had a mostly peaceful day in South Hebron today; such an event is so rare that I thought it might be worth mentioning to you. In lieu of a more substantial report, let me just say that Abu Sharif and Fadil plowed three fields, with an iron plow and a donkey, on one end of the wadi at Umm al-'Amad, just under the settlement of Otniel-- lands they were denied access to for some 15 years-- and there was a slightly higher-tech plowing, with an old tractor, at the other end of the wadi as well. The settlers and the soldiers kept their distance. The goats grazed freely. The sun was sweet. If the rains come, there will be crops of barley in these newly regained fields.
At Umm al-Ara'is, on the other hand, the standard ritual played itself out; the 'Awad owners were driven off their land, along with our activists, by the soldiers, as happens week after week.
Lest anyone be tempted to think that things are better, I should mention that the committee of the 'Civil Administration' [i.e. the Israeli Army's occupation committee] that has the authority to approve development plans submitted by the villages has turned down the plan of Palestinian Susya. This means that if the appeal to the High Court goes against them, the entire village, housing some 300 to 400 people, will be demolished and their inhabitants expelled (the demolition orders have been hanging over them for years, and the Civil Administration is talking about issuing final orders to destroy all the tents and shacks and infrastructures). The Civil Administration offered the following rationalization of its decision:
"This plan offers no hope that the population can be advanced beyond the state of poverty and ignorance to which its representatives have condemned it....The city, as the meeting place of diverse populations, serves as a source of cultural, economic, and educational enrichment. On the other side of the scale, the village dwellings are fragmented and scattered, founded upon tribal and clan identities which suffocate the citizen, the individual, and which offer no means for social development or opportunities for making a living, for cultural or educational experience... The urban structure lets people meet one another, multiplies opportunities, enriches the horizons of each and every one in the family or tribe as in the wider society. Thus, in our view, the present plan is but another attempt to prevent this impoverished population from making progress...It also prevents the Palestinian woman from liberating herself from the cycle of poverty and closes off opportunities for work and education. Similarly it keeps the Palestinian child away from the opportunities open to everyone else and condemns him to life in a small, degenerate village."
If anyone had any doubt as to whether the Occupation of the West Bank is a colonial enterprise through and through, this passage should settle the question. The sheer cynicism is astonishing: you can guess who has kept the Palestinians of Susya in poverty, and who now intends to expel them from their ancestral homes and lands. The West Bank must be the last site in the world where this kind of language, reminiscent of French Algeria or apartheid South Africa or colonial Kenya or Tanganyika, can still be used without shame.
David Shulman, The Villages Group, South Hebron Hills, Palestine, 16 November 2013
The Methodist Church in Britain is consulting as to whether they should adopt a policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions with regard to Israel. Details can be seen at http://www.methodist.org.uk/BDSBriefing .
Here are some of the 14 questions
1. What do you understand to be the motivation/inspiration behind the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel?
2. In your view, what would be the essential elements of any peace agreement in Israel/Palestine?
3. Do you support a boycott of products produced within Israeli settlements?
4. Do you support the call for a wider consumer boycott of all Israeli products?
5. If you answer 'Yes' to Question 4, what changes would you need to see to be content to end your boycott?
6. What are the arguments against a consumer boycott of all Israeli products? What are the risks?
7. If you do not support the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, could you ever see yourself supporting such a call in the future? Under what circumstances?
Whether or not we answer some or all of the Methodist questions as part of their consultation (which all are invited to do), it is worth thinking about the questions to get our own ideas on BDS clear.
A response by Stuart Littlewood is at http://www.redressonline.com/2013/10/will-western-churches-unite-fight-injustice-in-holy-land/. It is a long but illuminating article.
Israel should praise their dancing IDF soldiers, not condemn them
The joint Israeli-Palestinian Gangnam-style dancing in Hebron does a great deal to humanise both sides of the conflict
Seth Freedman in The Guardian 29Aug13
Incensed IDF officials have condemned troops for "exposing themselves to unnecessary danger" after footage emerged of the soldiers dancing with Palestinian revellers at a wedding in Hebron. Despite the soldiers having their semi-automatics strapped to their chests at all times, and not appearing to be at risk of anything more than strained arm muscles from too much fist-pumping, the wrath of the top brass has been unleashed for their perceived misdemeanours.
. . . . . . .
Ultimately, the footage of the wedding dance brings home the absurdity of the decades-old occupation, in which youths from either side are routinely forced into such inimical stances, when in another place and time they might be regularly rubbing shoulders on dance floors in bars and clubs up and down their shared country. Outraged IDF chiefs might castigate their troops for the "unnecessary danger" of their actions, but the opposite is the truth. It is the intransigent behaviour and policies of those at the helm of the IDF and Knesset which expose all Israelis and Palestinians to such unnecessary danger, and they could learn a great deal from the bridge-building revelry of the dancing troops.
Zionism in practice: Israel’s Daily Toll on Palestinian Life, Limb, Liberty and Property
(Compiled by Leslie Bravery)
26 August 2013 (in 24 hours)
10-year-old boy injured in Israeli Army assault with rubber-coated bullets
Home invasions: Israeli troops injure 4 residents – assault student and steal his mobile phone
Hebron: Israeli Army rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades injure 3 residents – 16-year-old youth abducted
Occupation settler racist vandalism
Israeli Army uproots Palestinian olive trees and bulldozes crops
Home invasions & occupations:17:20-21:15, Sanur - 23:50, Bethlehem - 21:30, the al-Urub refugee camp - 04:00, Sa’ir - 10:00, Hebron.
Peace disruption raids: dawn, Beit Safafa - morning, al-Issawiya - 18:55, al-Zababida - 02:30, Tayasir - 08:25, Tulkarem - 18:00, Bizziria - 04:50-06:00, Nablus - 09:35, Beit Fajjar - 12:10, al-Shayukh - 18:05, Hebron - 23:30, Beit Awa - Rafah.
Palestinian attacks: None
House demolition:Jerusalem – 11:00, Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian home under construction in the Jabal Al-Tur neighbourhood.
And many more assaults by Israeli forces
Please take action in support of new EU settlement guidelines!
You may have heard that the European Union has recently published new guidelines designed to prevent its institutions funding Israeli organisations based in or carrying out activities in the illegal Israeli settlements.
QPSW and partners including the Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) has welcomed the guidelines, but are worried that strong diplomatic pressure from the Israeli government could see them being watered down in practice.
One of the first tests for the guidelines will be how they are applied to Israel’s participation in the new ‘Horizon 2020’ programme for cooperation in research and innovation which is being negotiated over the coming months. EU money has previously funded settlement-based research such as that carried out by Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, whose main factory is in the Mitzpe Shalem Settlement. To stop this from happening again it is vital that the new funding guidelines be fully applied to Horizon 2020.
This is an important time to show politicians and EU officials that there is public support for the guidelines. Please help by writing to Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative on Foreign Affairsand send a copy of it to Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt. You are welcome to use this model letter, or even better, write your own making similar points.
Please don’t forget to let QPSW know about any responses you receive.
Many thanks and best wishes,
P.S – QCEA is about to ask Friends from across Europe to write similar letters to Catherine Ashton stressing the importance of applying the guidelines in full to the Horizon 2020 negotiations. You may find their guidance helpful and can sign up for their alerts here.
Planned eviction of 70,000 Bedouin from their villages in Negev
Contact Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt: http://act.palestinecampaign.org/lobby/105
Today we have the New Rules. In some respects they’re rather like the Old Rules. The aim and sole rationale remain the same: dispossession, expulsion, taking more land. The army has, it seems, given up on its favorite device of declaring Closed Military Zones, week after week; perhaps the outright illegality of this practice ended up causing them too many problems in court. Instead, the soldiers simply chase us—Palestinian shepherds, farmers, Israeli activists—physically away, pushing, shoving, threatening, beating. They also have decided they won’t allow us to document their crimes on film; as soon as we start filming, they rush at us and block our cameras with their cell phones. It’s as if they’d decided to circumvent the whole irksome apparatus of the courts and to resort instead to brute force. It’s much simpler, and maybe more effective.
At the same time, there’s been a wave of further annexations. The settlers are paving new roads, which become de facto boundaries, far beyond the settlements’ periphery. Plots of land that the Palestinian owners have worked for some years, or have reclaimed, often with our help, have been declared "in dispute"—which means that settlers have access to them, but the rightful owners don’t. All over South Hebron there are attempts from above and from below to roll back the gains we’ve made in recent years. Probably officers in the Civil Administration have been devising creative schemes. And there have been the usual, routine detentions, harassments, lethal threats, arrests—more, in fact much more, than before. Add to this a wave of pure nit-picking and pestering, for example by handing out tickets to activists, Israeli and Palestinian, for absurd traffic violations; several of our people have recently been fined large amounts for crossing the road while not on a marked pedestrian crossing. Remember we’re talking about the vast open spaces of a desert; the nearest pedestrian crossing is either in Jerusalem or Beersheva, 40 miles away. I myself witnessed the police administering just such a fine the last time I was in the area, some three weeks back.
In short, things are tightening up. Here’s what it looks like on an ordinary day. From Beit ‘Imrah we head down over the terraces to the grazing grounds where the shepherds are clustered with their sheep. An army jeep is waiting for us. A fat, balding officer heaves himself out of it and informs Fadil: "You see this path. It’s the border. You can’t cross it." The path is an arbitrary line, deep inside the wadi where, in the last months, they’ve been able to graze—after many years during which this wadi was completely out of bounds. We start filming. By now more soldiers, clutching rifles, have clambered out of the jeep. They prod us, driving us over the line and then farther uphill, and they’re jamming our cameras with their cell phones, which they literally thrust in our faces. The commanding officer doesn’t speak again. We protest, we talk of the law, we talk of the crimes he’s committing. He doesn’t reply.
But it’s not much fun as a game. Today there’s a new tone, menacing and malicious. I think again about wickedness. Since I encounter it so regularly, I’ve developed the rudiments of a theory. I tend to bracket out the pure sadists, who are anyway rather rare, and to focus on those soldiers and policemen who seem to me capable of feeling uneasy or conflicted in the reality in which they are following their orders. For them, I think, like for most of us, the decision is often a subtle one. But today it’s different. The ranking officer and one lower officer are into it. Their faces give them away: cruel, hard-set, disdainful, fully committed to this course. This isn’t cruelty for its own sake, for the sheer pornographic delight it can provide—I’ve occasionally seen that in South Hebron-- but something arguably worse, and in no way aberrant. They believe in the necessity of causing hurt, and they do it without hesitation, driving their subordinate soldiers, who are far more innocent and, perhaps, ambivalent, along with them. "An intellectual hatred is the worst," as Yeats says. But theirs is not only intellectual.
How they rationalize it may not much matter. Later, after a long morning of this chase-and-torment, one of the reserve soldiers tells us: "We have proof that you people pay these Palestinians to provoke us." That, I suppose, is how he lives with himself. We’re the problem. And in a way it’s true—if we hadn’t been here over months and years, all the lands in the wadi and along the slopes would have been lost forever, as the settlers wanted. We brought the shepherds back. Now they’re here on their lands, and these soldiers are here to cram them back into the little pockets and enclaves they inhabited before. After a while one of the soldiers begins to scream curses, sharp and thin in the desert air. "You Ruiners of Israel, ochrai yisrael, you are aiding the enemies of the Jews, degenerates"—he is waving his gun, threatening us, fingering the clip.
Anas, 16 years old, was arrested some weeks ago by the Border Police, who took the trouble to hit him with various trumped-up charges. By great good fortune we had video footage that clearly showed the Border Police were lying, but still they held Anas for thirty hours, hand-cuffed, stripped bare, outside in the freezing cold, with no food or water. They wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom. They told him they were going to hold him for twelve months without trial. Finally he saw a judge, who freed him without conditions. But Anas has changed since I last saw him. He has bad dreams at night; they are coming to kill him.
--- On the way back to Jerusalem, Gabi asks me if I still think there’s some possibility for the two-state solution. I shake my head. Guy, who’s in South Hebron all the time, says, "Yes, of course, that’s what Israel wants. They want the Jewish state here, on the ground, all of it, and the Palestinian state can be somewhere else, maybe on the moon."
--- I come back disheartened and weary—exactly what our enemies hope to achieve. Many hours in the thirsty sun, climbing up and down those hills, are nothing compared to the mild agony of dealing with those soldiers. Today’s motto, from Staretz Silouan, the nineteenth-century mystic, "Keep your mind in hell, and despair not."
Nine years ago , Mordechai Vanunu was released from Ashkelon prison in Israel. He had served the full 18 years of his sentence – including over 11 years in solitary confinement – for blowing the whistle on Israel's secret possession and manufacture of nuclear weapons. But he is still not free: during these past nine years he has continued to be imprisoned in Israel by draconian restrictions which prevent him from leaving the country – restrictions which also limit his freedom of speech and movement within Israel. He has been subjected to harassment and intimidation by the Israeli authorities, including a further period of imprisonment for breaching his restrictions by talking to foreigners. So Mordechai has now suffered 27 years' loss of freedom for his service to the truth. These restrictions must be lifted so he can at last be free. Signed: Tony Benn, Ben Birnberg, Julie Christie, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Kate Hudson, Bruce Kent, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Caroline Lucas MP
The Massacre of Deir Yassin: Atrocity, Displacement and Impunity
From: Palestine Liberation Organisation – Negotiations Affairs Department.
9 April 2013 http://www.nad-plo.org/etemplate.php?id=383
Even before the withdrawal of British forces from Palestine in 1948, Palestinians throughout the country were subjected to widespread terror and horrific acts of violence at the hands of Zionist militias. Massacres and expulsions of Palestinians created an atmosphere of fear and panic that forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. They left behind land and personal possessions that were subsequently stolen by the State of Israel, sometimes outrightly and sometimes through “clever” legislation. One episode that characterises the atrocities of the Nakba (catastrophe), and highlights the impunity that Israel still enjoys today, is the massacre that took place in the village of Deir Yassin in Jerusalem. Today, we mark the 65th anniversary of this crime.
What happened in Deir Yassin?
On 9 April 1948, Zionist gangs entered the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin in the Jerusalem district, killing 254 Palestinian villagers, mainly women, children and the elderly. There were documented cases of rape, mutilation and humiliation; the victims being mainly Palestinian women. As stated in the subsequent Red Cross report made by ICRC representative, Jacques de Reynier, British troops did not intervene to prevent the massacre and Zionist gangs denied access for medical personnel to treat the wounded.
Who committed the massacre?
The massacre was led by Menachem Begin in his capacity as head of the Irgun terrorist forces (the Irgun were responsible for several acts of terror, including the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem). Supporting the Irgun was the Haganah, a group that went on to form the basis for the Israeli Army, and the Lehi, led by Yitzhak Shamir.
Was Deir Yassin an isolated event?
No. Deir Yassin was not an isolated event. It was part of the “Dalet Plan”, which aimed to force Palestinians from Palestine in order to achieve a Jewish majority in the newly established State of Israel.
How did Deir Yassin affect Palestinians?
News of the Deir Yassin massacre created a wave of panic, forcing many Palestinians to flee their homes so as to avoid a similar fate. The Zionist militias had succeeded in achieving an important and stated goal. As Menachem Begin would note several years later:
“Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of 'Irgun butchery’ were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrolled stampede. Of the almost 800,000 who lived in the present territory of the State of Israel, only some 165,000 are still there. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated.”
What happened to the survivors of Deir Yassin?
Those who survived the massacre became refugees either in Jordan or in camps around the Jerusalem area, such as Qalandya near Ramallah and Deheisheh in Bethlehem. Many of their descendants are still living in refugee camps today. A group of orphans were rescued by Ms. Hind Husseini. The orphans were highly traumatised after seeing their families being slaughtered and needed immediate shelter. This led Ms. Husseini to create the Dar Al Tifl, a Palestinian institution in Jerusalem that still grants shelter and education to Palestinian children. This tragic story inspired the film “Miral” by Rula Jibreel.
What happened to the perpetrators of the massacre?
As with almost every single crime committed by Israel before and since its inception, the criminals responsible for this horrific and bloody massacre enjoyed full impunity. In fact, a few weeks after this tragic event, the man politically responsible for the Haganah (future Israeli Army), David Ben Gurion, became Israel’s first Prime Minister. Even more astonishing is the fact that the head of the “operation” at Deir Yassin, Menachem Begin, and Yitzhak Shamir, the leader of the Lehi who participated in the massacre, would also go on to become Israeli Prime Ministers.
I support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign because, especially in our instantly connected world, an injustice committed against one, or against one group of people, is an injustice against all, against every one of us; a collective injury.
My particular reason for participating in the cultural boycott of Israel is that, first of all, I can; I'm a writer, a novelist, and I produce works that are, as a rule, presented to the international market. This gives me a small extra degree of power over that which I possess as a (UK) citizen and a consumer. Secondly, where possible when trying to make a point, one ought to be precise, and hit where it hurts. The sports boycott of South Africa when it was still run by the racist apartheid regime helped to bring the country to its senses because the ruling Afrikaaner minority put so much store in their sporting prowess. Rugby and cricket in particular mattered to them profoundly, and their teams' generally elevated position in the international league tables was a matter of considerable pride. When they were eventually isolated by the sporting boycott – as part of the wider cultural and trade boycott – they were forced that much more persuasively to confront their own outlaw status in the world.
A sporting boycott of Israel would make relatively little difference to the self-esteem of Israelis in comparison to South Africa; an intellectual and cultural one might help make all the difference, especially now that the events of the Arab spring and the continuing repercussions of the attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla peace convoy have threatened both Israel's ability to rely on Egypt's collusion in the containment of Gaza, and Turkey's willingness to engage sympathetically with the Israeli regime at all. Feeling increasingly isolated, Israel is all the more vulnerable to further evidence that it, in turn, like the racist South African regime it once supported and collaborated with, is increasingly regarded as an outlaw state.
I was able to play a tiny part in South Africa's cultural boycott, ensuring that – once it thundered through to me that I could do so – my novels weren't sold there (while subject to an earlier contract, under whose terms the books were sold in South Africa, I did a rough calculation of royalties earned each year and sent that amount to the ANC). Since the 2010 attack on the Turkish-led convoy to Gaza in international waters, I've instructed my agent not to sell the rights to my novels to Israeli publishers. I don't buy Israeli-sourced products or food, and my partner and I try to support Palestinian-sourced products wherever possible.
It doesn't feel like much, and I'm not completely happy doing even this; it can sometimes feel like taking part in collective punishment (although BDS is, by definition, aimed directly at the state and not the people), and that's one of the most damning charges that can be levelled at Israel itself: that it engages in the collective punishment of the Palestinian people within Israel, and the occupied territories, that is, the West Bank and – especially – the vast prison camp that is Gaza. The problem is that constructive engagement and reasoned argument demonstrably have not worked, and the relatively crude weapon of boycott is pretty much all that's left. (To the question, "What about boycotting Saudi Arabia?" – all I can claim is that cutting back on my consumption of its most lucrative export was a peripheral reason for giving up the powerful cars I used to drive, and for stopping flying, some years ago. I certainly wouldn't let a book of mine be published there either, although – unsurprisingly, given some of the things I've said about that barbaric excuse for a country, not to mention the contents of the books themselves – the issue has never arisen, and never will with anything remotely resembling the current regime in power.)
As someone who has always respected and admired the achievements of the Jewish people – they've probably contributed even more to world civilisation than the Scots, and we Caledonians are hardly shy about promoting our own wee-but-influential record and status – and has felt sympathy for the suffering they experienced, especially in the years leading up to and then during the second world war and the Holocaust, I'll always feel uncomfortable taking part in any action that – even if only thanks to the efforts of the Israeli propaganda machine – may be claimed by some to target them, despite the fact that the state of Israel and the Jewish people are not synonymous. Israel and its apologists can't have it both ways, though: if they're going to make the rather hysterical claim that any and every criticism of Israeli domestic or foreign policy amounts to antisemitism, they have to accept that this claimed, if specious, indivisibility provides an opportunity for what they claim to be the censure of one to function as the condemnation of the other.
The particular tragedy of Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is that nobody seems to have learned anything. Israel itself was brought into being partly as a belated and guilty attempt by the world community to help compensate for its complicity in, or at least its inability to prevent, the catastrophic crime of the Holocaust. Of all people, the Jewish people ought to know how it feels to be persecuted en masse, to be punished collectively and to be treated as less than human. For the Israeli state and the collective of often unlikely bedfellows who support it so unquestioningly throughout the world to pursue and support the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people – forced so brutally off their land in 1948 and still under attack today – to be so blind to the idea that injustice is injustice, regardless not just on whom it is visited, but by whom as well, is one of the defining iniquities of our age, and powerfully implies a shamingly low upper limit on the extent of our species' moral intelligence.
The solution to the dispossession and persecution of one people can never be to dispossess and persecute another. When we do this, or participate in this, or even just allow this to happen without criticism or resistance, we only help ensure further injustice, oppression, intolerance, cruelty and violence in the future.
We may see ourselves as many tribes, but we are one species, and in failing to speak out against injustices inflicted on some of our number and doing what we can to combat those without piling further wrongs on earlier ones, we are effectively collectively punishing ourselves.
The BDS campaign for justice for the Palestinian people is one I would hope any decent, open-minded person would support. Gentile or Jew, conservative or leftist, no matter who you are or how you see yourself, these people are our people, and collectively we have turned our backs on their suffering for far too long.
The Israel/Palestine conflict
Below are just some initial notes. There is much more to be said. And we need some additional Web links to help explain things a bit more fully. Please send suggestions by e-mail to swq02[at]bqm.org.uk.
Opinions expressed on this page are those of the author (correspondent) and are almost certainly not endorsed by all Quakers.
On 5 April 2011 Meeting for Sufferings - 'the Quaker church in session' - agreed to boycott products from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The settlements are illegal under international law. Quakers consider that this boycott is a non-violent move for peace for Israelis and Palestinians. The decision made it clear that Quakers are not boycotting Israel.
Feedback from Quaker Meetings throughout the UK has supported the decision but suggestions have been made for other actions, eg: place a positive message on the Quaker website; explain our actions clearly; encourage industries to locate themselves in the Palestinian Occupied Territories; teach English in Palestinian Schools; source Palestinian products; twin with Palestinian towns; use the email link with a church in Gaza; enter into dialogue with Jewish groups; reiterate our aim to seek reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians
The declared Quaker policy to boycott the products of illegal settlements is not binding on all Quakers, of course, and many feel no need to take action, particularly given the large number of other problems the world faces. However, many feel that it does not go far enough, given (a) the severity and persistence of the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians on the West Bank, and (b) the continuing collusion of the Israeli government with the misdeeds of the West Bank settlers (See letter in The Friend). In any case, identifying which Israeli goods come from the settlements can be difficult. Many advocate a complete boycott of all Israeli goods (See, for example, inminds.com), or at least a boycott of all goods from all sources which deal in settlement goods. In the meantime, Israel continues to maltreat the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. See e.g. http://www.palestine.org.nz/.
One of the tragedies of the problem is that many intelligent and articulate Jews honestly regard the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land, and a continuing maltreatment of the Palestinians which is reportedly even worse than the Chinese maltreatment of the Tibetans, as being both legally and morally justified. See, for example, http://www.zoa.org/, and in particular http://zoa.org/2012/03/103209-zoa-sponsors-legal-scholar-presenting-israels-legal-case-to-congress/.
Unfortunately, not all Zionists restrict themselves to such pseudo-rationality.
"Nine years ago someone asked if the ancient mitzvah (religious command or duty) to rape gentile women in war still applied. Rabbi Eyal Qarim wrote that it did – because all Israel’s wars were mitzvot and thus any law should be broken if it helped the cause. The rabbi is now an IDF Colonel in the Military Rabbinate. The IDF today, of course, angrily denounces this judgment. It is of interest that any rabbi could hold these beliefs – and that the IDF should promote such a man to a senior position." (From jfjfp web site: see below)
In the months preceding the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, "the Arab population of Deir Jassin was massacred [...] 250 Arabs, of all ages and both sexes, were murdered and their bodies thrown down a well [...] The leader of the attack, Menachem Begin [...] wrote: 'The massacre was not only justified, but there would not have been a state of Israel without the victory at Deir Yassin'". (From 'Cause for Concern' by Herbert Dobbing, a Quaker commentator on the Palestine Problem)
Can we dismiss such malign arrogance as just regrettable instances of mental aberrations by isolated individuals? Or are they outcrops of a deeper malaise, giving glimpses of the hidden truth of how most Zionists see the world? Opinions seem to be divided.
But despair not. By no means all Jews are Zionists. The extreme Zionists are just one end of the spectrum. At the other end, and much more representative of the long Jewish tradition of peace, love, and tolerance, are countless Jews who are well aware of the gross injustices heaped on the Palestinians, in the past and today. They are keen to remind us that true Judaism is one of the most benign of religions, that real Jews have principles of honour, truth and justice which compare very favourably with other religious groups, including Moslems and Christians (who also have significant numbers of lunatic adherents), that Jews are one of the major originators of "Western" civilisation and culture, arguably even more than the Arabs and the Greeks, and have always made a staggeringly disproportionate contribution to the arts, science, commerce, philosophy.
There are several initiatives led by Jews which seek to promote justice for the Palestinians. See, for example, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (http://jfjfp.com/), the Israeli Occupation Archive (http://www.israeli-occupation.org/), European Jews for a Just Peace, to name but a few. And these few between them list over 100 links to other supportive sites.
The United Nations
Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Nations_resolutions_concerning_Israel) provides a list of United Nations resolutions concerning Israel. According to the Wikipedia article, the UN Human Rights Council “has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than it has all other states combined”. All have been ignored.
The EP recognizes the illegality and inhumanity of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians -- as the following extracts from the July resolution show -- but has yet to take decisive action against the crimes Israel's military and settlers are committing.
European Parliament resolution of 5 July 2012 on EU policy on the West Bank and East Jerusalem
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949,
– having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,
– having regard to UN General Assembly resolutions 181 (1947) and 194 (1948), and UN Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 252 (1968), 338 (1973), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008),
– having regard to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,
– having regard to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice entitled ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’ of 9 July 2004,
1. Reiterates its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as capital of both states, and with the State of Israel with secure and recognised borders and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security;
7. Reiterates that all settlements remain illegal under international law and calls on the Israeli Government to stop all construction and extension of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001;
10. Calls on the Israeli Government and authorities to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular by:
o securing an immediate end to house demolitions, evictions and forced displacement of Palestinians,
o facilitating Palestinian planning and building activities and the implementation of Palestinian developments projects,
o facilitating access and movement,
o facilitating the access of Palestinians to farming and grazing locations,
o ensuring a fair distribution of water meeting the needs of the Palestinian population,
o improving access of the Palestinian population to adequate social services and assistance, in particular in the fields of education and public health, and
o facilitating humanitarian operations in Area C and in East Jerusalem;
11. Calls for an end to the administrative detention without formal charge or trial of Palestinians by Israeli authorities, for access to a fair trial for all Palestinian detainees, and for the release of Palestinian political prisoners, with special regard for members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including Marwan Barghouti, and administrative detainees; calls also for the immediate release of Nabil Al-Raee, the artistic director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, arrested on and detained since 6 June 2012; welcomes the agreement reached on 14 May 2012 that allowed for the end of the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners and calls for its full and immediate implementation;
12. Calls for the protection of the Bedouin communities of the West Bank and in the Negev, and for their rights to be fully respected by the Israeli authorities, and condemns any violations (e.g. house demolitions, forced displacements, public service limitations); calls also, in this context, for the withdrawal of the Prawer Plan by the Israeli Government;
20. Reiterates its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip in terms of persons, the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial goods, and for steps allowing for the reconstruction and economic recovery of this area; calls also, with due recognition of Israel's legitimate security needs, for an effective control mechanism preventing the smuggling of arms into Gaza;
21. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the EU Special Representative to the Middle East Peace Process, the President of the UN General Assembly, the governments and parliaments of the UN Security Council members, the Middle East Quartet Envoy, the Knesset and the Government of Israel, the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council.