“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

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Saturday 1358  –  26.07.14

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Please don’t just flick past and think this is just another post about Palestine.. It is but it is so very important to read about what is happening, as the worlds governments seem to be standing by apparently disinterested. Please read right to the end. Thank you.

I’d like you to think about something for me, especially if you have children, elderly parents, someone disabled in your family, a husband, wife or other loved one. Yes in other words all of you.

I want you to imagine that you’ve had leaflets dropped in the area where you live telling you that you need to get out of your house because the area in which you live is going to be bombed.

Now your phone is ringing and you’re being told you have 15 mins to get out of the house. What do you think ? This is my house, all my things, my life savings have gone into this house.

Then I want you to imagine that there is an explosion on your roof, enough to shake the house violently and do some damage or maybe even kill anyone at the top of the house. ( the Israelis call it a “tap on the roof”)

Next feel the fear of knowing that explosion on your roof is a warning that your house is going to be bombed and you need to get out fast. What would you bring with you? Food, clothes, medicine, money, the dog?  Would you have time? Would you run?  How can you when you have an elderly grandmother with you ? Where would you go when you don’t know which other houses are going to be bombed? 

Would you go to the beach? Would you be safe there?

Would you go to a UN run school? Would you be safe there?

Please don’t stop reading now but instead watch this video here. 

Imagine this was your house…..

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All gone…

Forever.  

Along with any dreams and hopes you might have had for the future.

I hope you managed to get your family out in time.

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These are some of the names and ages of the children killed in the last 2 weeks. They didn’t get out in time

Names and ages of some of the children killed in Gaza in the last 2 weeks

Names and ages of some of the children killed in Gaza in the last 2 weeks

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On this Saturday  I attended a 1 hr vigil for the people who have been killed in the Gaza strip, Palestine, in the last 2 weeks .The vigil, organised by the Cambridge Palestine Forum was held in the centre of Cambridge whilst in London upwards of 45,000 people marched calling for an end to the terrible bloodshed, to the blockade of Gaza by Israel and for a boycott of Israel.  

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Reading the names of the dead

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On 22.07.14 a vote was held in the United Nations on a resolution ensuring respect for international law in Palestine  – 

on the 23rd July  –

The Human Rights Council concludes Special Session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Establishes Independent, International Commission of Inquiry for the Occupied Palestinian Territory

“The Human Rights Council today established an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and concluded its Special Session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 States in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014 that may amount to international crimes, directly resulting in the killing of more than 650 Palestinians, most of them civilians and more than 170 of whom were children, the injury of more than 4,000 people and the wanton destruction of homes, vital infrastructure and public properties.

In the resolution, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, and to report to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.

Please look carefully at the result of the vote below. The United States of America voted AGAINST the resolution and Europe, including France, Germany, Austria, Ireland , Italy and the UK abstained. In other words they were silent and proved again that when the USA says jump they say how high !  I am ashamed of my government here in the Uk. They did not vote in my name !

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

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Please read this and consider signing https://secure.avaaz.org/en/israel_palestine_this_is_how_it_ends_loc/?slideshow

Or you might like to write to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs ,Phillip Hammond directly and tell him what you think. You can do that here https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/israel-gaza

So what can you do about it apart from signing petitions. You might like to consider boycotting companies that have strong links with Israel. 

More information: –

here http://www.boycottisraelnetwork.net/ .

and here http://www.boycottisrael.org.uk/

Finally I would ask you to watch this video here by Jon Snow. One of the few journalists around these days who is really doing his job.

Please don’t turn away. These children need us.

you don't need to be a muslim to stand up for Gaza

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I have written about the cost of war and associated issues before –

https://hellenjc.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/save-lives-talk-peace/

https://hellenjc.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/the-human-cost-of-war/

https://hellenjc.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/naming-the-dead/

https://hellenjc.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/is-this-what-we-want-for-our-sons-and-daughters/

https://hellenjc.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/white-feather-caught-in-thorns/

https://hellenjc.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/guns-what-are-they-good-for/

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As ever I welcome your thoughts.

Saturday girl signing off til whenever.

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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“Israel – Not in My Name”

Saturday 1437 – 12th January 2013

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I was thinking a lot today about a meeting I was at on Thursday night; a Cambridge Amnesty International meeting.   I have written about Amnesty International before, at the beginning of Dec 2012 ,that post was titled Still Shining a Light in the Darkness and you can read it here

After the general business part of the meeting a young woman spoke; her name was Naomi Sklar and she is one of the 1705 signatories (as at Jan 2013) of Jews For Justice for Palestinians  (JFJFP). She very kindly gave me access to her notes as I was too engrossed in what she had to say to take many of my own.

I learnt much, in the 40 mins or so that she spoke, about the emotional nature of the attachment that Jewish people have to Israel and I will write about that a little later.

This post is intended as a contribution to the hope for a just peace and reconciliation between the Peoples of Israel and Palestine and the title is from something Naomi said. I am not writing it as an expert, as I am most definitely not one, I am writing it as a human being who wants to see peace and justice in every part of the world. I am also writing it as someone who lived for 25 years, from 1980-2005 , in the Republic of Ireland very close to the border with Northern Ireland and had experience of the division of land as I worked in the North for many years and experienced the daily passing through Army Checkpoints.  As I was British with a very obvious English accent this was generally not a problem for me but I still felt the fear on the occasions I was pulled over to have my car searched. I knew many people with obvious Catholic names who were given a hard time by the soldiers; with car and body searches and sometimes abuse.

To go back to Naomi, she talked from a very personal perspective not only as someone who is Jewish but also someone who spent a few weeks volunteering in Palestine so got a taste of it first hand . However she was at the meeting primarily as one of the signatories of the organisation so I want to quote a little from their website as I certainly hadn’t heard about them before and maybe you haven’t either. Here’s what they believe –

  • ” Peace in the Middle East will only come about with mutual recognition and respect and must be seen as just by both sides.
  • Peace requires the end of illegal occupation and settlement.
  • Violence against civilians is unacceptable.
  • Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza are breeding hatred and resentment.
  • It is crucial that Jews speak out for Palestinians’ human rights.
  • The humanitarian values of Judaism have been corrupted by the Israeli state’s human-rights abuses.
  • A lasting peace must be seen as just by both sides.
  • Britain, the EU, the USA, Russia and the UN must be persuaded to implement UN resolutions on Palestine. “

So who are they ?

” Jews for Justice for Palestinians is a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practising and secular, Zionist and not. We oppose Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people.

We support the right of Israelis to live in freedom and security within Israel’s 1967 borders.

As well as organising to ensure that Jewish opinions critical of Israeli policy are heard in Britain, we extend support to Palestinians trapped in the spiral of violence and repression. We believe that such actions are important in countering antisemitism and the claim that opposition to Israel’s destructive policies is itself antisemitic. ”

You can read much more about them and the support they give to other activist groups, as well as links with other organisations, here

NaomiNaomi obviously spoke a great deal about how the organisation works but you can read about it from following the 2 links I’ve given you which I hope you will because it’s very important work. However I want to go back to what I alluded to earlier and that’s Naomi’s personal story and the emotional nature of her Jewishness.

Naomi talked about the complicated nature of being Jewish.About feeling, as a Jew , a sense of being implicated in Israel’s human right’s abuses in Palestine even though she is British and has never lived there.

Her experience was of growing up “with a personal sense of threat, learning about the Holocaust of course and believing that people still want to kill you, to push you into the sea” which could possibly be a common experience for Jews around the world .

Naomi went on to say “Many Jews do wear blinkers to the state of life for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the privations, restrictions, indignities and injustices that occur on a daily basis. I did it myself. I in fact helped set up my school’s Amnesty group but would avoid anything to do with Israel, including detentions without fair trial, detentions of children, house demolitions and so forth.”

She spoke of how Israel has been set up as a place of refuge for all Jews and how it actually thrives on the fear that has carried on down the generations with Jews still feeling they might need to escape to somewhere ( hardly surprising considering their history of persecution.) Naomi said it would be very easy indeed for her to move to Israel, have an Israeli passport and there would even be big financial incentives for her to do so. ” Every year at Passover and Yom Kippur, everyone says, ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’ “

Gas the arabsWhen Naomi spent a few weeks as a Volunteer in Palestine she was horrified at the way the Palestinians were treated by the Israelis, like having “Gas the Arabs” daubed on the walls of homes by the Jewish Defence League and said she felt

“Outraged for the Palestinians, but also a real sense of being uncomfortable in my own skin, being Jewish. One wrong cannot ease another, but I found I really needed to go back and empathize again with the Jews fleeing to Israel in the late 19th Century, early 20th Century and of course, after WWII. It could not enable me to excuse the hatred, fanaticism or simple financial self-interest of settlers, but it gave me the peace to re-engage with Israel.”

I find it tragic that those who have suffered such persecution through the ages can now be so oppressive to others – maybe a case of the bullied becoming the bully?  

Naomi spoke movingly too about the Refuseniks in Israel

“A central focus for JFJFP is supporting the Refuseniks, young Israelis who refuse to go into the army, and instead face military jail.Their courage is exemplary and I really would urge you to go and listen to one speak – they often do tours of Britain. It is hard for us to appreciate what a huge decision it is. When I went to Palestine, several family friends and cousins were outraged at my ‘consorting with terrorists’ and have not spoken to us since”

It is not easy when you take a stand against something that many of your friends and family believe in and I salute Naomi’s integrity

I wanted to write this piece because Naomi’s speech ( and there was much more than I have been able to include)  highlighted the emotional legacy of Jewishness that many throughout the world must feel as they struggle to come to terms with Israeli human rights abuses, their ignoring of International Law whilst balancing this against a very real need for Jews to feel secure in the world.

We can all make judgements from the safety of our sofa’s but few of us really understand the emotional nature of the issues and I hope this post has, through Naomi, given you a little more insight into that. 

During the early part of her speech Naomi quoted Lilla Watson, an Aboriginal Activist, and I will finish with her words because I do believe that my own liberation is bound up with that of all other human beings –

“If  you have come to help me, you are wasting your time; but if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”

Thanks again for your help Naomi and if you feel I need to make a correction please let me know 🙂 The photograph of Naomi and of the writing on the gate are Naomi’s own.

 Saturday Girl signing off now. Have a happy and peaceful week.

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here and I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already