Palestine Updates 18/2017

Editorial Comment 


A recent, but radical, forward looking, phenomena is the emergence of more civil society groups from among Jewish people in Israel and the USA who have mobilized and gathered to challenge Israel’s control of the West Bank. More recently, these groups are challenging the Trump administration and mobilizing Jewish organizations support to Israel. One of these is the group called “IfNotNow”. The group took birth in the summer of 2014 to organize young Jews against Israel’s war in Gaza. It is now an apparatus of activism steeped both in left-wing protest and Jewish tradition.

IfNotNow now is, perhaps, the question that must daunt civil society groups, peace messengers, and those who abhor war but do little other than wringing their hands in despair.

IfNotNow is a call to act for justice at a time when some are acting boldly, taking the risks for justice and other important global institutions have chosen silence. The big and the famous among the global institutions have even succumbed to the threats of Israel by pretending they would rather be ‘interlocutors’ than take sides. Such organizations ought to bear in mind these wise words from Archbishop Tutu:  “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

IfNotNow is a notion we should hold on to because it is a reminder that if we blandly take in information about the oppression carried out by Israel, and do nothing to protest and resist, we are complicit in the criminal occupation.

IfNotNow is an idea that asks us how we can stay silence while Israel sentences a 16 year old girl to 6 years in prison on mere suspicion of planning to stab. IfNotNow asks us to examine whether we agree with the judges notion of justice.

IfNotNow is an idea that must oblige us to boycott the occupation and demands that refugees retain the right to return to their lands. IfNotNow is a suggestion that obliges to reject settlements in every way possible by asking our governments to isolate Israel till it stops its illegal ways.

IfNotNow is a question we must ask ourselves about the Separation Wall. IfNotNow, when will it be torn down, and dismantled?

We urge readers to view the news in this update to act and act- NOW.

Ranjan Solomon

“Listen to the oppressed”, Iona Community calls
– Asks Britain to apologize for Balfour Declaration-
Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler ActiveStills

The Iona Community, a Christian organization in Scotland, has declared its full support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “BDS is an act of nonviolent solidarity, pursuing equality, freedom and justice,” reads a new Iona Community statement. The statement endorses the BDS movement’s three demands by arguing for an end to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The statement also condemns Christian Zionism “as a distortion of the Christian faith in its abuse of scripture to oppress Palestinian people.”

“The Iona Community said Michael Marten, a member of the Iona Community’s council, p“Through our members’ involvement in situations around the world over many decades, including in Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as the Middle East, we have sought to try and understand the situations of others and offer solidarity and engagement.”

The community’s willingness to endorse full BDS and the right of return – steps that many other Christian bodies have not been ready to take – results from its relationship with Kairos Palestine.  “In engaging with the call from Kairos Palestine,” said Marten, “we took seriously the call for full BDS and in our discernment process felt that this was the only way we could respond. It seemed obvious to us that we should listen to what Palestinian Christians were saying and take that seriously.” That same approach led to inclusion of the right of return.

The Iona Community’s statement also refers to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. They urge that Britain apologize “for its part in the dispossession of Palestinian land and the wider Middle East conflict.”

The Electronic Intifada carries details

UN must take Action to stop illegal Israeli settlements – Special Rapporteur

The UN Security Council and the General Assembly must take active steps to ensure Israel complies with the Security Council resolution, according to which Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are a violation of international law, UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk urged. “The settlement announcements by the Israeli government, only a month after the clear direction of the international community, are a defiant and troubling repudiation of resolution 2334… If the international community intends to preserve what remains of a viable two-state solution, it must not assume that resolutions, critical statements and international conferences alone will change state behaviour in these circumstances,” Lynk said.

Lynk added that Israel would continue settlement construction as long as “the international community will take no meaningful steps to enforce the Council’s resolution.” The rapporteur stressed that the settlements hindered Palestinian self-determination and acted as “obstacles to the movement of Palestinians in their own territory.|”

Sputnik News details more

Calls for intervention to end oppression at Israeli Prisons

he Palestinian government has warned of the dangerous Israeli escalation against Palestinian prisoners and called for a prompt international intervention to put an end to the “series of raids, torture and oppressive measures in Israeli prisons.” The Palestinian government also holds Israel responsible for endangering the lives of inmates, added the statement.

These measures came after rising tension as a result of the stabbing of two Israeli guards. Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe held the IPS and the Israeli government response for the dangerous escalation. Qaraqe called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to immediately intervene and visit the prison.
Read English Awasat for more

Hundreds of Belgian Artists and Academics Urge Government to End Participation in EU Project Cooperating with Israeli National Police
In Belgium, 482 professors and researchers, and more than 190 artists, have written an open letter calling on their authorities to withdraw from participating in a European Union funded research project called LAW TRAIN, in which Belgium and Spain cooperate with the Israeli National Police.

This open letter is part of broader efforts by the Belgian Coalition to Stop Law Train, and broader European-wide efforts against the participation of the Israeli military, homeland security and police sector in research and development funded by the European Union. Other forms of mobilizing have included direct actions, conferences, and lobbying.
See International Middle East Media Centre for the letter

‘Palestinian reconciliation can be achieved only in the framework of resistance
The first deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) said during Khutbah (Islamic sermon) in a mosque in Gaza City that Palestinian national reconciliation could not be achieved amid the continued security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Ahmad Muhammad Bahr said that the current national conflict has stemmed from the Oslo peace agreement and the resulting security coordination between the PA and Israel, underscoring the recent incident of Palestinian prisoner Samer Odeh in the Tulkarem district of the occupied West Bank who was detained by the PA and turned into Israeli authorities after escaping from an Israeli hospital. Bahr highlighted that any Palestinian reconciliation should be formed in accordance with the principles of Palestinian resistance and not in the framework of security agreements with Israel, adding that such coordination has caused “conflicts among Palestinians.”

He also called upon all Palestinian factions to unify against Israel, “the only enemy of Palestine,” and to adopt and embrace resistance, saying that the “Israeli occupation only speaks the language of force.”
Maaan News has the full story

Jewish resistance to the occupation
The American Jewish network, IfNotNow, is just one of the many groups to organize against Pres. Trump. It has fewer allies in its determined resistance to the establishment bodies who purport to lead American Jews. They say Jewish values must mean you oppose the Occupation.

The group that organized the protest, IfNotNow, says the real issue is a disconnect between Jewish institutions and the values of young Jews. Legacy Jewish organizations, IfNotNow activists charge, are so focused on supporting Israeli government policy that they are willing to dismiss other Jewish concerns — like bigotry on Bannon’s former website, Breitbart News.

“This is the inevitable result of pro-Israel-at-any-cost policies,” said Yonah Lieberman, 25, a founding member of IfNotNow. “They are so caught up in their desire to ensure that the U.S. government supports Israel unilaterally that [they’re] willing to sacrifice [their] own values.”

The group takes its name from “If not now, when?” the end of a statement by Hillel, a first-century rabbi. Founded in the summer of 2014 to organize young Jews opposed to Israel’s war in Gaza, IfNotNow has since evolved into an activist community steeped both in left-wing protest and Jewish tradition. It rails against Israel’s control of the West Bank, the incoming Trump administration and Jewish organizations it accuses of supporting both those things.
See newsletter of Jews for Justice for Palestine
See more about IFNOTNOW

 Nicaragua demands freedom and justice in Palestine
As a new world order continues to coalesce, Nicaragua’s foreign minister came out to assert the Central American country’s stance in what is the world’s oldest impasse – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The comments came at a roundtable in Managua hosted by the United Nations Palestinian Rights Committee for the diaspora in the region hosted by Nicaragua’s foreign minister, Denis Moncada. “It’s fair and necessary to put an end to the Israeli occupation in Palestinian territories. We are demanding the immediate halt in the construction of settlements. An end to the blockade of Gaza and the liberation of Palestinian prisoners,” he said.

Moncada made clear Nicaragua’s backing for Palestinian statehood and full membership in the United Nations.

“Impunity for the government of Israel is unacceptable, and with the abuse of the veto of the (United Nations) Security Council that prolongs the fulfillment of the Palestinian people and the occupied territory and the more than five million Palestinian refugees in the world, to them we expressed our solidarity.”
Jerusalem Post carries the full story

Stop the Wall – creative non-violence
This is a charming but very serious article by American doctor Alice Rothchild centred on the Stop the Wall movement – which is committed nonviolent as opposed to the casual violence of the wall builders.
The Newsletter of Jews for Justice for Palestine has the article