Jews against Genocide: Compassionate people from across the globe must protest against Israel

We brought dolls to symbolise the children of Gaza, and tried to bring a glimpse of the horror that Gazans face, to Israel’s doorstep. We hope to show Israel, and the world, the absurd reality of using the memory of one genocide to justify another.

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Their full statement follows:

JEWS AGAINST GENOCIDE

We, Jews Against Genocide, came to Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial of the genocide committed against Jews, to honor the Palestinian children who are dying in a genocide committed by Jews.

We brought dolls to symbolise the children of Gaza, and tried to bring a glimpse of the horror that Gazans face, to Israel’s doorstep. We hope to show Israel, and the world, the absurd reality of using the memory of one genocide to justify another.

We invite compassionate people from across the globe to join the outcry by staging similar protests in front of Israeli embassies and consulates around the world. Please send pictures of your actions to jewsagainstgenocide1948@gmail.com.

Just as we honor the people who were murdered seven decades ago in Europe because they were Jews, we are here to honor the people who are being murdered at this very moment because they are the indigenous people of this land who are not Jews.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines Genocide as, “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; […]“

The children of Gaza, who are being systematically murdered as we write this article, constitute 52% percent of the population under siege in the strip. The vast majority of these children are descendants of refugees from historical Palestine.

In the current round of atrocities committed by the Israel occupation army, so far dozens of children have been murdered in their homes, with Israel’s war-making leadership vowing “much higher costs” on the Palestinian side as the bombing and shelling continues.

The war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza today are the latest stage of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous people of this land.

The Jewish State was founded on the Zionist principle of “maximum Jews on maximum land, and minimum Arabs on minimum land”, which was made reality through sixty-six years of continued assault against Palestinians, denying them the right to live freely and peacefully in their historical homeland.

The Israeli regime has turned the beautiful Gaza strip into a densely populated ghetto, with unsafe water, untreated sewage, and insufficient resources and electricity. This ghetto has become a concentration camp, through repeated Israeli massacres in what the Goldstone Report described as an effort to, “humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish[ing] its local economic capacity.”

We express our support and solidarity for the Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with the three basic demands of:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Never Again for Anyone – End Israel’s Genocide of Palestinians
Jews Against Genocide (JAG)

Resources:
United Nations, preventing Genocide:http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/genocide_prevention.shtml
Palestinian civil society call for BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call
United Nations, human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories:http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

Israel’s “right to defend itself” critiqued by Palestinian liberation theologian, Naeem Ateek

Israel, with support from the US, propagates that its actions in Gaza are carried out only because “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Rev. Dr. Naeem Ateek states in the piece below why he does not agree. Naim

naim 3Naeem Ateek is well known as a Palestinian Christian theologian. He co-shaped the Palestinian liberation theology and was the first to articulate it in his book, Justice, and only Justice, a Palestinian Theology of Liberation.

Sabeel, Jerusalem – For the sake of the burning children of Gaza
July 30, 2014

One of the most common refrains repeated by President Obama and other western leaders since the beginning of Israel’s massive military offensive against Gaza is, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” This refrain is not new and has been declared so often, it has become a cliché. Some leaders parrot it without even thinking. Israel has used such clichés as a justification for its actions as well as an excuse to further its carnage. As of July 29, the death toll in Gaza is over 1100 people, mostly civilians, and includes 243 children (http://www.ochaopt.org). In addition, around 53 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians have died.

Under these circumstances, is Israel able to justifiably claim this right to defend itself?
First, we should consider that there is no clear “self” for Israel to defend. Israel steadfastly refuses to define its borders. Israel’s expansionist policies under the pretext of security have extended its “borders” deep into the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights, in contravention of international law. Furthermore, as a state that is occupying another state that includes Gaza for the last 47 years, Israel stands in violation of international law and humanitarian law. In light of the fact that Israel has no defined borders and is occupying another state, it is not even possible to define the “self” that Israel has a right to defend.

Second, it is important to note that Israel does not have a moral or legal right to claim that it is “defending” itself so long as it is occupying another state. Let us take the Iraq-Kuwait war as an example. Suppose after Iraq occupied Kuwait, some of the Kuwaitis started firing rockets at Iraqi cities as their way of forcing Iraq to end its illegal occupation. In such a circumstance, would we consider Iraq as having a right to “defend” itself? Or would we rather see Iraq as the instigator and aggressor?

Morally speaking, so long as international law and the United Nations consider Israel as occupying Palestine, Israel is not defending itself, it is defending its occupation and its Zionist project. When the occupation ends, Israel possesses the legal and moral right to defend itself, and with that we can all stand. But so long as it is defending its occupation through collective punishment and disproportionate military might, which is illegal under international law, its claims appear deviously deceitful and hollow. Furthermore, Israel can get away with impunity.

Finally, are Obama’s words about Israel’s security and her right to “defend itself” credible in the presence of the burning children of Gaza? Is the war Israel is conducting credible in light of these children, held captive and unable to leave Gaza, killed for the crime of being born on the wrong side of an arbitrary border, killed while hiding in their homes, playing soccer on the beach, and taking refuge in UN safe spots? Nothing can legally or morally legitimize the indiscriminate killing of a captive civilian population. No statements, no claims, no actions, no matter how profound, can hold up in the presence of the burning and torn up little bodies of innocent children. They are utterly meaningless, reprehensible and blasphemous.

Therefore, it is important to emphasize the following points:

  1. The international community needs to empower the UN to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We have been caught in a destructive cycle. Every few years the situation reaches its boiling point, warfare begins, and thousands of Palestinians are killed and injured, mainly civilians – women, children, elderly, and disabled. The international community has been lethargic, impotent, and unwilling to implement its own resolutions on Palestine. The international community has the responsibility to resolve this seemingly intractable conflict. The UN needs to be empowered to do its work.
  2. International law unequivocally gives occupied people the right to shake off the yoke of the occupier through various means including the armed struggle. While this is true and needs to be remembered in considering this situation, Sabeel has always stood for the moral right of liberation through nonviolent means.
  3. The Palestinian rockets from Gaza have an important message that Israel refuses to understand and the western powers, especially the United States, are unwilling to comprehend. The message of the rockets addresses the core issues and the root causes of the problem – STOP THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION AND FREE PALESTINE. If this does not happen, the war will occur again and again and again, and the casualties will be mainly women and children. This conflict will continue to flare up, despite anyone’s best efforts to contain it, unless the systemic injustice of occupation is dismantled. A recent statement from Israeli academics cuts straight to the point: “Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement”( http://haimbresheeth.com/gaza/an-open-letter-to-israel-academics-july-13th-2014/statement-by-israeli-academics-july-2014/).
  4. Our plea is to all people of conscience in Israel. You need to become engaged. The present political course is driving Israelis and Palestinians further apart and is leading us to an impending disaster worse than we are witnessing today. We all must stop nurturing extremism. Israelis and Palestinians have to live together in this land. God has put us here, we need to share it. The alternative is untenable.
  5. A stable peace can only be realized when justice, in accordance with international law,is achieved for both Israel and Palestine.Source: http://necefsabeel.ca/?p=713
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The biggest march ever in South Africa

nc4p logoCape Town, 9 August 2014, 11:00 – 13:00:
Starting in Keizergracht in the city bowl of Cape Town and from there to Parliament – the same route people used to protest against apartheid.

TRANSPORT UPDATE: Free transport on Metro Rail if you can show a NC4P/BDS pamphlet or a Palestinian scarf or T-shirt.

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The humanity and the solidarity of every person counts. With this march we demonstrate our commitment to resisting Israel’s systemic injustices through non-violence.

The biggest march in South Africa under apartheid consisted of 90 000 people. The above photo is from the recent march for Palestine by 40 000 people. We hope to have many more on 9 August.


Since 9 August is Women’s day in South Africa, women will be in the front of the procession followed by religious leaders and everyone else. Please wear something that symbolises your affiliation – your university, your school, your religious tradition, and so forth. Like other South African ecumenical accompaniers who monitored human rights violations in Israel and Palestine on behalf of the World Council of Churches, I shall wear my EAPPI vest.

The march is organised by South Africa’s new National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P). Our aim is to receive a response from our government on our recent requests to them.

I don’t want to abuse emotional arguments, yet I believe it is a time for all in the world to feel shattered. As Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza says in a clip on YouTube:

The rights of Palestinians, even their children, are wholesale denied. And that’s appaling. It is an affront to the humanity of all of us.

Gunness succumbs to his emotions during a live interview with Al Jazeera when interviewed about an attack on a UN school shelter in which at least 15 people, mostly women and children, were killed.

We are shattered, but we are not paralysed. Let us – Jews, Christians, Muslims and others who hold the sanctity of life dear, speak up and act. An end to the violence in Gaza does not mean an end to the atrocities. Israel’s daily denial of granting Palestinians their humanity – in East Jerusalem, in Gaza, in the West Bank –  must stop. All of it. The solidarity, the intention, the words, the behaviour and the humanity of every single person counts.

Please share the details of the march widely and if you can, be there. Let us unite with all those who want a just and a viable solution. We endorse international law and those values that foster the flourishing of life for all.

 

 

SA-EAPPI calling on South African society, churches and government for action re Israel

South Africa’s members of the World Council of Churches EAPPI programme fully endorses the newly formed NC4P (National Coalition for Palestine) and they ask for more steps:

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STATEMENT BY SA-EAPPI ON PALESTINE AND ISRAEL
31 July 2014

We, as a group of 70 South African ecumenical accompaniers who have monitored and reported human rights abuses in Palestine cannot remain silent at a time like this. We remember how often Palestinians told us that if we as South Africans can have a just freedom, then it must be possible for them too.

South African ecumenical accompaniers have worked side to side with other internationals in occupied Palestine since 2004 in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI was established by the World Council of Churches in response to a call from the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land. EAPPI provides protective presence to the vulnerable Palestinian communities and supports Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. We have witnessed multiple and layered injuries and losses by Palestinians whether Christian or Muslim. We value and recognise the safety and dignity of all those in Israel and Palestine. Yet we are not impartial when it comes to international law.

SA-EAPPI is appalled and devastated with the ongoing bombings, shelling and rocket firing in Israel and Palestine. However we absolutely reject any arguments that position the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis as two equal sides. The disproportionate killing of civilians including so many children horrifies us. That people are deprived of shelter, food, electricity, water and the hope of freedom is a source of shame to all who value the sacredness of life and the protection of international law. The current escalation in the conflict is not a war, let alone an act of self-defence, but a punitive, planned, strategic, militant expedition by a regional super-power to deepen Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. Moreover, Israel’s systematic, systemic, institutionalised oppression of the Palestinians that violates international law on a daily basis makes the conflict a-symmetric.

SA-EAPPI endorses the Memorandum to the South African Government issued by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) on 28 July 2014 in Cape Town. In addition, we appeal to:

  • South African citizens to not buy any Israeli produce or services;

  • all faith communities to critically review their interpretations of sacred texts in a quest to uphold those values and principles that foster the flourishing of life for all;

  • South African churches to take a clear and unequivocal stand for justice and a viable peace;

  • the South African government to break its resounding silence and to demonstrate to the world what sustained, visible solidarity can mean for the freedom of an oppressed people;

  • the United Nations’ Security Council to agree on resolutions to end both the conflict and the occupation, and to appoint an honest and an impartial broker for peace talks between Palestine and Israel; and

  • the international society to ensure the consistent implementation of international law.

 

Twee Suid-Afrikaanse EAPPI span: Carol in die agtergrond, en Zodwa in die voorgrond.  Zodwa neem by Carol oor in die Jayyous span.

East-Jerusalem: Carol Martin and Zodwa Nsibande during the handover ceremony between EAPPI Teams 40 and 41 in September 2011.

Hiroshima to Israel: Stop indiscriminate killings in Gaza

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We the citizens of Hiroshima, the city that was completely destroyed by indiscriminate atomic bombing 69 years ago, demand that the Israeli Government immediately stops indiscriminately killing and injuring Palestinian civilians. So far more than 500 people have been killed and about 3,600 injured as a result of continuous aerial bombing and bombardment on the ground, which started on July 8 and July 18 respectively. More than 80 percent of these casualties are ordinary civilians, in particular, women and children, not members of Hamas that Israel calls terrorist Islamic fundamentalists. Clearly such indiscriminate killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military forces are crimes against humanity and war crimes. More than 60,000 people are now displaced within the Gaza Strip and struggle to survive under intense fear for their lives. Yet, the Israeli government is planning to further escalate indiscriminate attacks on the Palestinians. We strongly condemn such actions, which cannot be rationalized in any way.

The reason for the present mass killing is said to have been the discovery of the dead bodies of three missing Israeli boys near Hebron in Palestinian territory on June 30. Hamas denies responsibility, but Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, claims they were murdered by Hamas, hence the retaliation. On July 7, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was abducted and killed after his body had been doused in kerosene and set alight. Yet, it should be remembered that one month before the murder of the three Israeli boys, two Palestinian boys were cold-bloodedly killed by Israeli soldiers. This incident is also related to the vicious cycle of escalating violence.

According to one source, during the search for the above-mentioned three Israeli boys, Israeli occupation soldiers murdered 7 Palestinians (including a 13 year old child), injured dozens, kidnapped nearly 400 people, demolished many houses, destroyed the contents of hundreds of homes that they invaded in the middle of the night and blocked travel attempts by hundreds of thousands of people. They continue to imprison thousands of others, many of whom are on hunger strikes for being held without charge for months.

In retaliation for such actions by Israeli soldiers, Hamas began launching rocket bombs at Israel, thereby intensifying the reciprocal military violence. The recent attempted rocket attack on the Dimona Nuclear Power Plant in southern Israel by Hamas is of particular concern. It is extremely lucky that this attempt failed. As Japanese citizens, we are well aware of the devastating consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear power accidents, due to our personal experience of such disasters on our home soil. It is this knowledge that causes us to strongly condemn both the possession of nuclear weapons by Israel and the rocket attack on the Israeli nuclear power plant by Hamas.

To date, Israel has repeatedly violated international law by indiscriminately attacking Palestinian civilians and their domains. From the year 2000 until immediately before the recent onset of aerial bombing, 1,407 Palestinian children were the victims of indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces. In other words, over the past 14 years on average two children were killed every week. In May this year alone, 214 minors were arrested, detained and tortured without charge or trial. For years many children in the Gaza Strip have suffered malnutrition, resulting in anemia, due to the shortage of food and medicine as a result of the blockade by the Israeli government. In addition, many children suffer serious psychological problems caused by intense and long-lasting fear, due to repeated aerial bombing and bombardment.

We urge Israeli politicians, military officers and soldiers, as well as civilians to imagine the pain and sorrow of Palestinian children and parents, in particular those of parents who have lost their children because of your indiscriminate and inhumane attacks. Such horrific acts upon Palestinians will only cause them to hate Israel more, and thus produce no solution at all. This logic is self evident from your past actions repeated over many years.

It is crystal clear that the real cause of the present tragedy is not the recent reciprocal killing of boys, but the illegal occupation and colonization of the Gaza Strip and the grave violation of Palestinian human rights by Israel over the last half-century. A situation where 1.8 million people are confined to an area of 360 km square, suffering from acute poverty and intense violence, cannot be called an “autonomous region.” It could more appropriately be called a “detention camp.” It is indeed tragic to see a nation, which suffered so badly as a result of the horrendous holocaust by the Nazis during World War II and which lost so manly lives as a consequence, committing “crimes against humanity” against a neighboring nation over the past 50 years or so. As citizens of the city, which became the victim of a nuclear holocaust, we urge you to take the following actions. These are based on our commitment to non-military violence or any other form of violence, in particular the killing or injuring of others. We beg you to

1) Immediately stop the indiscriminate aerial bombing of Palestinian civilians
2) Immediately stop the ground targeted bombardment of Palestinian civilians
3) Immediately stop killing Palestinian civilians, in particular children
4) Stop violating the human rights of Palestinian civilians
5) Stop the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories

We strongly urge you to cease your on-going illegal actions, to respect basic human rights of all people including Palestinians, and to establish and implement new policies based on peace and justice as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely
July 21, 2014

Yuki Tanaka, a citizen of Hiroshima, on behalf of the following 14 organizations in Hiroshima:

  • The August 6 Peace Assembly in Hiroshima (Representative: Dr. Yuki Tanaka)
    Tenma-Cho 13-1-810, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 733-0022, Japan
  •  Kure YWCA (Representative: Ms. Hiroko Kimura)
  • Saiwai-cho, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture 737-0028, Japan
  • The Northeast Asian Information Center (Representative: Mr. Yukio Yokohara)
    Itsukaichi Chuo 4-14-1-205, Hiroshima City, 731-5128, Japan
  • The Peace Link Hiroshima, Kure and Iwakuni (Co-Representatives: Mr. Hideki Nitta, Mr. Yukio Nishioka, Mr. Jungen Tamura) c/o Kure YWCA, Saiwai-cho, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture 737-0028, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Association of Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution (Representative: Ms. Sumiko Fujii) Ujina Miyuki 1-9-26-413, Minami-Ku, Hiroshima City, 734-0015, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Civil Association for No Nuclear Power (Representative: Mr. Shoji Kihara)
    Ebizono 2-17-9, Saeki-Ku, Hiroshima City, 731-5135, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Association for the Establishment of the Future with Friendly Environment (Co-Representatives: Ms. Maki Tokioka, Ms. Noriko Yumiba, Ms. Ayako Nagahashi) Phone: +81-80-1934-0866
  • The Hiroshima Cooperative Center for Japan’s Constitution and Peace (Representative: Mr. Kazuyuki Senko) Ote-Machi 4-2-27, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 737-0051, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Association for the Establishment of Peaceful, Democratic and Reformed Japan (Representative: Mr. Katsumi Toshimoto) Ote-Machi 4-2-27, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 737-0051, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Committee of AALA Solidarity (Representative: Ms. Noriko Hayashi)
    Ote-Machi 4-2-27, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 737-0051, Japan
  • The Committee of Social Concerns, West Chugoku Area, the United Church of Christ in Japan (Representative: Yoshihiro Jinbo) Minami Sakae 3-1-29, Otake City, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0602, Japan
  • Hiroshima YWCA (Representative: Ms. Yasue Nakarai) c/o Hiroshima Shujo Church, Wakakusa Cho 6-7, Higashi-Ku, Hiroshima City 732-0053, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (Co-Representatives: Dr. Katsuaki Aoki, Dr. Yuki Tanaka, Ms. Haruko Moritaki) c/o Adachi Shuichi Law Firm, Jyohoku Building 2F, Hakushima 18-4, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 730-0005, Japan
  • The Religious Association of Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution (Representative: Mr. Shozo Muneto) c/o Nobori Machi Catholic Church, Hiroshima City, 730-0016, Japan

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A Norwegian doctor in Gaza in pain, in grief, in fear, screaming to world powers: THIS cannot continue!

Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!). My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.

These are the words of a Norwegian doctor who volunteers in Gaza. Dr Mads Gilbert is screaming for help to the world powers who stand by.

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Here is his devastating, full account:

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Dearest friends –

The last night was extreme. The “ground invasion” of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12-24hrs shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last 4 months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. HUMANS!

Now, once more treated like animals by “the most moral army in the world” (sic!). My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock; my admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless, my closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” gives me strength, although in glimpses I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.

Ashy grey faces – Oh NO! not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding, we still have lakes of blood on the floor in the ER, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out – oh – the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes,cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away…to be prepared again, to be repeated all over. More then 100 cases came to Shifa last 24 hrs. enough for a large well trained hospital with everything, but here – almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, OR-tables, instruments, monitors – all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterdays hospitals.But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormous resolute.t

And as I write these words to you, alone, on a bed, my tears flows, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief, of anger and fear. This is not happening!
And then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16, the sickening drones (Arabic ‘Zennanis’, the hummers), and the cluttering Apaches. So much made and paid in and by US.

Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?

I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe.

I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.

Nobody with a heart AND power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” onslaught on Gaza.

The rivers of blood will keep running the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.

Please. Do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.

Mads
Gaza, Occupied Palestine

Mads Gilbert MD PhD
Professor and Clinical Head
Clinic of Emergency Medicine
University Hospital of North Noura Erakat

Source: E-mail from Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who is in Gaza right now, to Tony Gratrex, posted on Facebook by Dr Rita Giacaman. Saturday, 19 Jul 2014 15:17:25 +0000

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Kairos to SA Government: Cut diplomatic and trade ties with Israel

The role of the South African government is unique in the world, given our country’s history of apartheid. Yet it lags behind in its solidarity with the Palestinians. Kairos Southern Africa asks for urgent, decisive action – not statements – in a formal request to the government of the Republic of South Africa:

KSA

18 July 2014

To: The Honourable Minister of International Relations Ms Maite E Nkoana-Mashabane
CC: The Honourable Mr. H.T Magama, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of International Relations and Cooperation, and the Deputy Director-General for DIRCO c/o Mr Clayson Monyela

Kairos Southern Africa believes that all lives have the same value, and that all violence is destructive. The current and ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine poses a critical test for the international community’s commitment to international law and human dignity.

Any attempt to remain neutral in this kind of conflict is both futile and immoral. Neutrality enables the status quo of oppression to continue. It is a way of giving tacit support to the oppressor. We are not taking sides against the Israeli people, but we unequivocally reject the Israeli regime’s treatment of Palestinians.

The role of the South African government is unique in the world, given our country’s history of apartheid and the ways in which we overcame the institutionalised injustices of this system. Yet to date the South African government has failed to take tangible action in the form of support of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby, which insists on our government’s neutrality when it comes to Israel. As a result, South Africa now lags behind other countries in its solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine.

We see this inactivity as a source of national shame. We of all nations must actively help others who are systemically oppressed. By not responding when we know about the injustices and human rights violations suffered by the Palestinian people, we will be allowing and enabling an act of omission. By responding insufficiently, we will prolong the suffering and the damage.

In line with this endeavour, we ask you to:

  1. Sever all diplomatic and trade ties with the State of Israel.
  2. Implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
  3. Implement all the actions called for in the Cape Town Declaration of 6 February 2014.

We recognise the occupation of Palestine by Israel as the primary violent act. Israel uses negotiations and violence to prolong the pain, to intensify the occupation and to confiscate more resources. We condemn it absolutely. Israel’s widespread, ongoing, collective attack on the Palestinian people is a form of institutionalised, systemic violence practised in multiple ways on the besieged Gaza strip and occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank.

The violent resistance by Hamas is understandable, but we do not support it. We do not believe that this violence represents the will of the majority of Palestinians, who ask for active non-violent resistance in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

We call on you, our government, to do what is honest and just, so that we can be honourable international citizens.

We do not ask you to issue more statements, but to:

  1. Sever all diplomatic and trade ties with the State of Israel and with Israeli institutions and business.
  2. Implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
  3. Implement all the actions called for in the Cape Town Declaration of 6 February 2014.

God bless.

 Edwin Arrison (Rev.)
General-secretary

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40 000 join Cape Town protest against Israeli attacks

An estimated 40 000 South Africans poured through central Cape Town on Wednesday 16 July 2014 to Parliament.

Some analysts say that yesterday’s #GazaUnderAttack protest in Cape Town was the biggest protest march since the Anti-Apartheid protests of 1980′s. The peaceful protest was organized by the Muslim Judicial Council, COSATU and others.

march 3The city came to a standstill at lunchtime as marchers handed a memorandum to the chairperson of Parliament’s international relations portfolio committee, Mr. Masango.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMr Masango addressing members of civil society in a meeting in February 2014 with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations.

The huge crowd, which stretched over several city blocks, held aloft scores of banners and posters, calling for an end to the violence in Palestine’s Gaza Strip. “Free, free Palestine!” the protesters chanted outside the parliamentary complex.

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We, the South African civil society want our government to sever all diplomatic and trade ties with Israel and to actively promote and implement boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

 

Gaza: South Africa’s lack of solidarity a “national shame”

The South African government lags behind in its solidarity with Palestine because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby. This inactivity is “a source of national shame” Kairos Southern Africa said at a press statement in Cape Town on 11 July 2014.

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Several civil societies as well as the ANC Youth League tabled their positions and their appeal to the South African government to members of the local and the international press. The joint message was clear:

Any attempt to remain neutral in this kind of conflict is both futile and immoral. Neutrality enables the status quo of oppression to continue. It is a way of giving tacit support to the oppressor. We are not taking sides against the Israeli people, but we unequivocally reject the Israeli regime’s treatment of Palestinians. We want international law to be upheld. Our government must implement BDS actions. An insufficient response will prolong the suffering and the damage. All violence must stop with immediate effect.

Here is Kairos Southern Africa’s full statement:

PRESS RELEASE: Response to Gaza violence
Friday, 11 July 2014
11:00, Cape Town

Kairos Southern Africa believes that all lives have the same value, and that all violence is destructive. The current and ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine poses a critical test for the international community’s commitment to international law and human dignity. In this context, we hold the following position:

  1. The occupation of Palestine by Israel is the primary violent act. We condemn it absolutely. Israel’s widespread, ongoing, collective attack on the Palestinian people is a form of institutionalised, systemic violence practised in multiple ways on the besieged Gaza strip and occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank.
  2. The violent resistance by Hamas is understandable, but we do not support it. We do not believe that this violence represents the will of the majority of Palestinians, who ask for active non-violent resistance in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
  3. On 10 July, the Palestinian unity government appealed to the United Nations Security Council to enforce International Humanitarian Law.
  4. Many Israelis and the majority of the Palestinian people are exhausted by the ongoing struggle. They want an end to the unbearable and inhumane situation; and they want to live normal, secure and hopeful lives. Therefore, they are calling for help on their governments and the international community to end to the ongoing occupation.
  5. The South African government has failed to take tangible action in the form of support of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby, which insists on the South African government’s neutrality when it comes to Israel. As a result, South Africa now lags behind other countries in its solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine. We see this inactivity as a source of national shame. In the light of our history, we of all nations must actively help others who are systemically oppressed.

We call on the South African government to do what is honest and just, so that we can be honourable international citizens. We do not ask our government to issue more statements, but to implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and to take the actions called for in the Cape Town Declaration of 6 February 2014.

The South African government must:

  • Adhere to its legal obligation under the Rome Statute to set up a special court to deal with war crimes, deal expeditiously with the Gaza Docket and with South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force.
  • Adopt the HSRC report that found Israeli guilty of Apartheid, and present it to international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.
  • Stop financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies, banks, and companies involved in the settlements.
  • Lobby for financial and other support in the global arena for the Palestinians for socioeconomic development after the end of the occupation.
  • Support Palestinian students as a concrete act of solidarity and ease entrance into South Africa for Palestinians.
  • Support health systems infrastructure in Gaza, in the West Bank and in refugee camps.
  • Support the Robben Island Declaration for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian political prisoners.
  • Support the Palestinian-led call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions issued by the majority of Palestinians by implementing complete military, financial and political sanctions against Israel until it complies with all the applicable UN resolutions and International Law, and ends its occupation; and table this matter at both the African Union and the United Nations.
  • Encourage witness and solidarity visits such as the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) programme.
  • Build and strengthen an international diplomatic bloc in solidarity with the Palestinian people, starting with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS).
  • Campaign for Israel to be suspended from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network.
  • Encourage and support Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

ISSUED BY KAIROS SOUTHERN AFRICA

Kairos Southern Africa is an ecumenical voice on local and international issues of justice from within the broader Christian community. We are connected to Kairos movements worldwide that are all inspired by the liberation theology tabled in the 1985 South African Kairos document. This includes Kairos Palestine and its declaration of steadfast faith, hope and love from within the suffering of Palestinians.

Gaza: Letter to President Zuma (+ Jewish response)

In response to the SA government’s statement, we at Kairos Southern Africa sent the following letter to the South African president:

20 November 2012

Honourable President Zuma

Re: The Republic of South Africa government’s response to the present killing of people in Gaza

As we write to you, over a 100 people have already been killed in Gaza, many of them civilians. We would want all violence to stop immediately.

According to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Israel “has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens but the measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.” However the killing of civilians and inflicting of damage to their property are not allowed for under this law. Moreover, what should be clearly understood and articulated is that although the acts of violence by Palestinians and its impact on Israel should not be minimized, Israel’s overall power and security are not threatened by these acts. Israel is a military super power in the region.

We want to state that we hold Israel primarily responsible for inducing the current flare-up of violence in Gaza. Besides the killings and the damage to property and infrastructure inflicted upon the people of Gaza, there are also the effects of Israel’s military occupation (Gaza’s land, sea and air space are controlled by the Israeli military forces, turning Gaza into the world’s largest prison). Demolitions, water and land confiscations, the expansion of settlements and many other forms of illegal oppression are continuing at full speed in the West-Bank and in East Jerusalem. Nothing can excuse decades of systemic crimes and multiple violations of international laws being committed by the state of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Some Gazans are involved in shooting home-made “rockets” into Israel, and while we disapprove of this, it is a reaction of an oppressed people to the much greater violence inflicted on the people of Gaza by Israel and also in response to Israel’s ongoing and systematic violence against the Palestinian people.
We believe that South Africans are morally obliged to support another people who suffer from a similar crime against humanity which can, in terms of international law, be described as apartheid (United Nations 2002). Therefore, as citizens of this country and as people of faith who hold all life dear and believe in human dignity for all, we do not regard a statement of condemnation as sufficient.
Israel’s ambassador in South Africa should be informed that South Africa strongly disapproves of what is happening in Gaza at the moment and be told to ask his government to stop the violence against civilians and their property in Gaza immediately.  Too many people have already been killed and our government should give Israel an ultimatum: if one more civilian is killed, the Israeli ambassador will be sent back to Israel and our ambassador will be recalled.

We also call on our government and civil society to instigate broad-based boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel until it ends its oppression of the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, and until Israel abides to the international humanitarian law, the international human rights law and applicable rulings and resolutions of the International Court of Justice and the United Nations’ Security Council.

South Africa benefitted from the world’s solidarity during the apartheid years. We now have a moral
obligation to take the lead and call on the world to cut ties with Israel as an Oppressor. We as South Africans know very well that the acts of an oppressor injure not only the oppressed, but the oppressor too, and the oppressors’ partners or allies as, for example, Christians in the United States of America confessed recently with regard to the role the United States played (or failed to play) in both the Holocaust and in Israel-Palestine. Therefore we believe that our request will ultimately also be in the interest of Israel. South Africa should not be guilty of a violence of complacency, as it will impact on our psyche too. We should uphold our values of ubuntu whereby we are all interconnected and speak up on behalf of the Palestinians.

In the words of the Jewish scholar, Mark Ellis (2011)2:

“(t)he ethnic cleansing of Palestine is among
the defining moments of contemporary Jewish history[…]Israel will not stop itself. Palestinians cannot stop Israel. Many Jews and Palestinians want a way beyond this endless violence.”

We sincerely hope and pray that you will heed this urgent message seriously. We want the people of Gaza and those from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories as well as the hundreds of
thousands of Palestinian refugees in other countries to feel a strong sense of support coming from South Africa. We also want South Africa to take the lead and inspire other governments. Above all, we want to remember the pain of apartheid and the freedom we were granted. Human dignity for all is possible. South Africa’s voice should be crystal clear.

Yours faithfully

E. Arrison (Rev), GENERAL SECRETARY
(On behalf of Kairos SA leadership team: Rev Moss Ntlha, Dr Stiaan van der Merwe, Ms Dudu Mahlangu-Masango, Ms Marthie Momberg, Rev Dix Sibeko)

On writing a letter such as the one here, I am always prepared to receive the usual flood of outrage from those who regard all Muslims as terrorists, all Jews as threatened and all Christians as irrelevant.  (What about the rest?) Anyway, this time, I got a heart-warming response from a South African Jew, Paul Hendler:

Dear Marthie, I received the above from Carol. I noticed your name on the Kairos SA letterhead. Whether or not you participated in writing this document, I was truly inspired by its following a path that incorporates humanitarian law with an understanding of political power, domination and oppression of one nation by the state that claims the defence and security of another nation as its  sole priority. The language is powerfully simple so that a child could understand what is being communicated.

There is no glorification of violence here, but a call to protect all lives from the dangers and risks of destruction and tearing apart of the flesh, through an appeal to international law against barbarism by either side. At the same time the important point is made that while the state of Israel is not under threat, individual Israeli citizens clearly are, and particularly so the entire government of Hamas ad well as a significantly larger number of Palestinians, who when they are not being bombed are being squeezed and prevented from living in freedom by the stranglehold blockade.

This document seems to represent liberation theology at its best as it negotiates the difficult path between the universal values and the particular national liberation struggle. Of the three western religions, I am mainly aware of Christianity giving birth to this liberatory strand of thought – there are strands of this in American Jewry, although not in SA’s likud-befok Jewish community. And maybe my ignorance is doing a disservice to Islam. But then a significant segment of Christian churches took the same stance in SA. It is interesting – enriching – that a Jewish boy from Paarl is inspired by the writings of Christians (including this Afrikaans lady) about the political and ethical issues in Palestine/Israel.

Regards, Paul.