“I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented“.
"It's not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true."
SIGN THE PETITION!
The three years Claudia and I spent teaching in the West Bank have allowed us to experience first hand the difficulties of life there and to get a pretty depressing picture of its reality. Having dedicated a good deal of time getting acquainted with as much literature as I could about related issues, I also managed to get an equally depressing picture of what can be expected in the future. That is unless serious action is taken to confront the current trend.
I am sometimes asked why I singled-out Israel in my campaigning for justice and against oppression. To this I just want to say that it is the issue which I am most acquainted with, but that I am more than willing to, as I do, take action on other issues too.
The many misconceptions regarding Israel and its policies since its creation in 1948, represent a serious obstacle to positive change. On the grounds that it is “too complex” to understand, many shy away from actually dealing with, or even trying to understand, what is going on.
I reject the idea that it is a difficult situation to understand, although I accept it is far from easy to change. The injustice could hardly be more obvious.
The commonly perceived reality is very simple: Palestinians, for some mysterious reason, refuse to accept Israel and use terrorism in order to destroy it. Israel, therefore, does what it does for its own protection.
An equally simple, and more to the point, picture is the following: Israel was created in 1948 by ethnically cleansing its land of most of its indigenous (Palestinian) population. More than two thirds of Palestinians are now refugees. Israel has occupied more Palestinian land in 1967 and relentlessly colonised it since then while segregating its Palestinian population.
The ethnic cleansing, planned long before 1948, is well documented, amongst others, by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”.
What we have today is the following situation:
Israel has complete control of Palestinian land and resources, Palestinians do not control any Israeli land or resources. This entails that no Palestinian has freedom (of movement or other) on their own land without Israeli approval. No Israeli is subject to any Palestinian restriction.
As a result, the Palestinian economy is entirely in Israel’s hands. The converse is false.
Israel holds some 11,000 Palestinian prisoners (including hundreds of children and dozens of Palestinian members of Parliament or cabinet ministers). One Israeli is held by Palestinian factions (Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit).
Israel has a State armed with tanks, fighter jets, helicopters, a nuclear arsenal and one of the most well-equipped armies in the world. Palestinians don’t.
Israel systematically uses extra-judicial killings of Palestinians. The converse is not true.
Palestinian civilian casualties outnumber by far Israeli civilian casualties.
Israel, not the Palestinians, is in constant breach of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and numerous UN Resolutions since 1948.
It is Israel which has ethnically cleansed Palestinian land, not the other way round.
Adding insult to injury and asymmetry, the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions since 2006 on the Palestinians rather than on Israel. John Dugard, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has pointed out that this is the first case of sanctions imposed on an occupied people. The recent total blockade of the Gaza Strip has trapped its 1.5 million inhabitants in a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions.
The cases of Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians have led to calls for Palestinians to adopt non-violent resistance. I would like to stress that most of the resistance to Israeli occupation and policies is non-violent even if media attention is focused on out-of-context suicide bombings.
- Focus on education, cultural projects, peaceful demonstrations (usually met by Israeli gunfire) and calls for boycott are among the many forms of non-violent resistance adopted by Palestinians. Unfortunately the indifference with which these are met only reinforces and equals Israeli attempts to sabotage them.
Although it was never under any serious physical threat, Israel needs to appear as being in a constant war so as to avoid negotiations and concessions on all of the issues outlined above, realising that Palestinians have both a moral and a legal case.
- Israeli aggressions and provocations are to be understood in this perspective, not as the “self-defence” proclaimed repeatedly by Israel and its sponsors. By demonizing Palestinians, Israel avoids the only real threat to its existence as an ethno-religious Jewish state: the moral one.
The EU Trade Agreement rewards Israel with a privileged status in its economic relations with the EU. The petition’s aim is to stop this.