Palestine Update 574
Isolate the Oppressor
In this issue of Palestine Updates, we share urgings of the Palestinian people and more on their behalf by partners for solidarity, for an end to suffering, exclusion and a lasting way forward to a just peace.
Bishops from New Zealand, recognizing the “turmoil, bloodshed and fear” in the Holy Land are once again reaffirming that “no amount of repression, occupation or military force can dim the desire of a people to live with dignity and freedom in their homeland”. They also affirm the right of the Palestinian people to find “dignity and freedom through the establishment of an independent state, which surely can be denied them no longer”.
On the other side of the globe, solidarity groups and social organizations in Uruguay launched on May 30 the campaign ¡URUGUAY, DON’T GO! to ask the AUF and the men’s national soccer team NOT to accept the invitation of the State of Israel to host the final phase of preparation for the World Cup and/or to play a friendly match with the Israeli national team, on the way to Qatar.
And in Palestine, we read about a vengeful and ruthless Israeli decision by which Israeli authorities are expected to put into effect a 97-page ordinance, called “Procedure for Entry and Residence for Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Area”, which would grant the Israeli Ministry of Defence and thus, the military, absolute power to determine how many and which foreign academics and students can visit, study or work at all 15 Palestinian universities and colleges in the West Bank. Palestinian universities are facing yet another attack. As they work to try and preserve something that at least resembles academic life under a brutal apartheid regime, they deserve real solidarity – not attempts by privileged academic institutions to save their own reputations. This is depraved and deplorable. The international community by now must inflate and intensify its boycott of the Israeli regime in ways that harshly wound its status in the international community. Israel must be treated as a recluse that is unfit to be part of a world of cultured co-existence. Israel’s vicious ways are by no means matters that should be ignored. Israel’s isolation must be complete and total. Not just financial isolation. But in arenas which make them social loners. With Israel, there should be no exchanges in sports, art and culture, academia, business and any form of relationship.
That’s the message of the reports you find below. Read, disseminate and mobilise widely.
New Zealand bishops urge action to end Palestinian suffering in Holy Land
Saying they feel anguish that the Holy Land continues to be riled in “turmoil, bloodshed and fear,” New Zealand’s Catholic bishops called for a renewed effort to achieve lasting peace for “ordinary Palestinian peoples” and others living in the troubled land. The bishops, in a statement released July 13, expressed their deepest concern for Palestinians who for decades “have been reduced to the status of refugees in their own homeland.” “Attempts to find a lasting peace in the Holy Land that would provide security for Palestinians and the ordinary people of Israel have remained elusive, seemingly utterly so,” the bishops said. “While there may have, at times, been goodwill, there has been no lasting way forward.”
Noting that the long-standing proposal for a “two-state solution” under which an independent Palestine would exist alongside Israel “remains just … a concept,” the bishops lamented that “illegal settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank” continue to be established. They noted that international law has required that the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, must be returned to the Palestinians “as the heartland of their own state.”
The bishops also pointed to Pope Francis’ oft-stated concern that progress is lacking in rebuilding trust and overcoming hatred and resentment so that peace can be realized between Israel and Palestine, allowing two states to exist side by side. “The Catholic bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand strongly support Pope Francis in that call. The conflict in the Holy Land cannot be allowed to continue with no serious moves toward finding a just and peaceful solution for the peoples of Israel and Palestine, but particularly for Palestinians, whose long years of turmoil, occupation, blockading (as in Gaza) and impoverishment are a blight on the region and indeed on humanity,” the bishops said.
In addition, the bishops said they concur with the pope’s call for a more vigorous effort by the international community to “reactivate dialogue in order to achieve a two-state solution” as well as to preserve Jerusalem’s identity as a holy place for Christians, Muslims and Jews. Catholics can “do more” to encourage such dialogue, they said, by expressing support “not just for peace, but for a continued Christian presence in Jerusalem.”
The bishops also urged the New Zealand government to call for and build support for world leaders to meet and discuss “ways to bring a lasting just peace to Israel and Palestine. Recalling their 2002 statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which they wrote that “no amount of repression, occupation or military force can dim the desire of a people to live with dignity and freedom in their homeland,” the bishops expressed sadness that little has changed in two decades. In that statement, the bishops affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to find “dignity and freedom through the establishment of an independent state, which surely can be denied them no longer…Their freedom will also be freedom for Israel — freedom from fear, and the opportunity to move on from a conflict which has haunted the state of Israel since its birth. Justice will bless both peoples with peace,” the 2002 statement said.
The bishops concluded their latest statement saying, “It is a matter of terrible sorrow that little has happened to move on from that conflict in the 20 years since we wrote that, and our words as written then need to be stated again today.”
¡URUGUAY, DON’T GO! – An appeal from Uruguay
Solidarity groups and social organizations launched on May 30 the campaign ¡URUGUAY, DON’T GO! to ask the AUF and the men’s national soccer team NOT to accept the invitation of the State of Israel to hold in that country the final phase of preparation for the World Cup and/or to play a friendly match with the Israeli national team, on the way to Qatar.
On June 2, the “Coordination for Palestine” coalition delivered to the AUF headquarters a letter signed by more than 20 social organizations to formalize this request. On June 12, a petition was launched on Change, which you are invited to sign and disseminate: https://chng.it/wtmHhcrfJ7
“Do not lend yourselves to whitewash the crimes of the Israeli regime against the Palestinian people and soccer, and do not be accomplices, with your visit, of Israeli apartheid. Help us to isolate and sanction it, as the international community did with South African apartheid, until its fall. Let us stop Israel’s seven decades of colonial occupation and impunity, and of systematic and structural violations of the human and collective rights of the Palestinian people, their athletes and footballers.”
A letter to the Uruguay Football Team: “Don’t Train Where Israeli Soldiers Train to Kill Palestinians”.
Dear Ignacio Alonso, Uruguay National Team players, management and staff,
We write to you from the Al Khader Sports Club in the occupied Palestinian territory. We write this letter with heavy hearts, but also filled with hope and determination.
We are mourning our second player shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in less than two months. We are hopeful that you will heed our appeal and not accept apartheid Israel’s cynical invitation to host your pre-World Cup training session.
On April 11, Israeli soldiers shot our defender, 19-year-old player Mohammad Ghneim. We hadn’t even begun to recover from this tragic loss to our team and community, when, on May 27, Israeli soldiers shot another one of our players, Zaid Ghneim. He was only 14 years old–a child. Both Zaid and Mohammad were shot in the back during raids by Israeli soldiers in our town of Al Khader, near Bethlehem.
All of our players, and millions of Palestinians, grow up under the brutal oppression of Israel’s apartheid regime, when they are fortunate enough to grow up at all. Just since the beginning of this year, Israel has killed 13 Palestinian children, according to Defense for Children International.
Sadly, the experience of our team is hardly unique. The Football Stars Academy is mourning the loss of 18-year-old Thaer Yazouri, whose life was cut short by an Israeli bullet two weeks ago in the Palestinian town of al-Bireh, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot. Last year, Balata FC lost promising player 16-year-old Saeed Odeh, who dreamed of playing for the Palestinian national team. Saeed was also shot and killed by Israeli soldiers. As Palestinians, we can’t even mourn without the violence of Israeli apartheid adding to the pain at our funerals. The world expressed outrage as Israeli forces killed and then brutally clubbed pallbearers and mourners at the funeral of renowned Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, an act of brutality condemned by Catholic and other Christian leaders in Palestine. She was killed the same day as Thaer Yazouri…At the very least, we need celebrated teams like Uruguay not to offer Israel a golden opportunity to sportswash its apartheid regime.
Israel is offering to host Uruguay for training ahead of the World Cup for this very reason, to give itself the cover it needs to continue to train its soldiers in the murder and maiming of young Palestinians, including footballers.
We can’t and won’t stay silent. We spoke out against the Argentina Football Association’s planned match with apartheid Israel, with Mohammad in our hearts. The news that the match will not happen gave hope to not only our club, but our entire town. Now, with Zaid and Mohammad in our hearts, we are calling on Uruguay to train elsewhere and by doing so, help prevent Israel from continuing to kill the lives and dreams of young Palestinian players. A team like Uruguay will have other offers for World Cup training. Please take one of those offers and help us isolate apartheid Israel until it respects our fundamental rights, just as was done in the case of apartheid South Africa. You would be far from alone. An unprecedented numbers of active footballers, teams and athletes are standing on the right side of history and refusing to sportswash Israeli apartheid.
Out of love for our teammates and for the game, we are urging you to help us stop what Amnesty International refers to as Israel’s “systematic, unlawful and arbitrary” killings of Palestinians and its treatment of Palestinians as “an inferior racial group.” Please don’t train where Israeli soldiers train to kill us. Don’t accept apartheid Israel’s invitation to host your pre-World Cup training.
Al Khader Sports Club
You can follow the campaign on social media:
Facebook: Coordination for Palestine
Instagram: Uruguay NOvayas
Palestinian Universities are Once Again under Attack
Later this month, the Israeli authorities are expected to put into effect a 97-page ordinance, called Procedure for Entry and Residence for Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Area (PDF), which would grant the Israeli Ministry of Defence and thus, the military, absolute power to determine how many and which foreign academics and students can visit, study or work at all 15 Palestinian universities and colleges in the West Bank. The “procedure” limits the number of staff allowed to work for any of these 15 universities and colleges to no more than 100 “distinguished lecturers and researchers,” noting that “applications for a permit under this section will be approved if it is demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the authorised [military] official, that the lecturer contributes significantly to academic learning, to the area’s economy, or to advancing regional cooperation and peace”.
Moreover, under the new ordinance, the Israeli authorities will not only determine who can or cannot teach in Palestinian universities but will also restrict the time foreign academics can reside in the West Bank to one semester, which ensures that foreign professors will no longer be able to become permanent members of the academic staff at any of West Bank’s institutions of higher education. Finally, the procedure will only allow up to 150 foreign students to study in the West Bank at any given moment, while restricting their stay to one semester as well.
Israel’s attempt to exert total control over Palestinian universities is, of course, nothing new. But its approach to Palestinian higher education was once significantly different.
Back in the early 1970s, when Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was in its early years, the Israeli authorities provided Palestinians with permits to establish universities in the occupied territories. Security officials were under the impression that the establishment of universities could help Israel normalise the occupation and thus foster Palestinian support for Israeli rule. This policy backfired. The universities established under occupation rapidly became sites for political organising and mobilisation for Palestinian liberation…
Today, Palestinian universities are facing yet another attack. As they work to try and preserve something that at least resembles academic life under a brutal apartheid regime, they deserve real solidarity – not attempts by privileged academic institutions to save their own reputations.