OneVoice channels fury

Got this by email from OneVoice:

“If you are furious about the situation in Israel and Palestine, you are not alone. Most people across the globe feel helpless seeing so much hatred, so many deaths and so much extremism.

As the situation continues to unravel, we at OneVoice are saying: enough.

The tragic events that unfolded in the waters off Gaza two weeks ago have brought into sharp focus just how dangerously unsustainable the status quo in the region is.  We call on every citizen to redouble his or her efforts to seize back the agenda for a comprehensive two-state solution – guaranteeing an end to the conflict, end to the occupation, and ensuring security and peace for the people of Israel and Palestine.

Amid these circumstances, it is almost impossible to think about the future. But now is precisely when we need to do everything in our power to ensure that such actions never happen again.

Imagine for a moment the year 2018.  What if in 2018 there was a final status agreement between Israel and Palestine?

Now imagine what life in 2018 will look like for you and your loved ones if there is continued violence, bloodshed and occupation.  Imagine if the events that we witnessed last week were to be compounded by eight more years of blockade, qassam attacks, violence, occupation, insecurity and mistrust.

Both of these futures are in fact very real.  Separated only by the willingness of people and their leaders to be courageous and take the actions necessary to achieving a two-state solution.

OneVoice Israel and OneVoice Palestine youth leaders are capturing thousands of visions for 2018 – asking people not only to visualize their future, but to create it!

OneVoice is channeling the frustrations of the millions of people who feel helpless and paralysed into concrete and constructive actions to ensure this tragedy does not repeat itself. Many Israelis, Palestinians, and concerned international observers do not agree about what took place off the shores of Gaza. Nor do they agree about what took place in 1948, 1967, or pretty much any date that marks a landmark event in this conflict’s constant downward spiral. But the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians can agree about what 2018 should look like.

We are asking three questions:

WHAT will it take to end the conflict?

– This month, Adi Grady speaks about her efforts in convincing Israelis to support their government in negotiations.

WHAT does the region look like?

– In this issue, Dalia Labadi gives her account of a special Town Hall Meeting in Jenin with Palestinian Policemen

WHAT is your role in getting there?

Mohammed Asideh gives his personal story about growing up in Nablus, why he joined OneVoice Palestine, and what he’s doing to help build a Palestinian state.

What is your 2018?

OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward a two-state solution. The movement works to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by advocating for a negotiated two-state solution that ends the occupation, ensures security and peace for Israel and Palestine, and solves all final-status issues in accordance with international law. The 1967 borders form the basis for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state with permanent borders and any modifications to be agreed on by both parties. The movement recognises that violence by either side will never be a means to end the conflict.”

Israeli peace activist Mossi Raz in London, 10th May

Israeli peace and civil rights activist, Mossi Raz, to speak in London on Monday 10 May

Byline: Kubbeh

Long-standing Israeli peace and civil right activist, Mossi Raz will be leading a public discussion, “From Lebanon to Gaza: Challenges to War and Peace,” in London on Monday 19 May 2010 (7.30pm). Raz is the former head of the largest peace movement in Israel, Peace Now and has served in the Knesset as a Meretz MK and as a captain in the Israel Defence Force.

This will be a unique chance to hear from one of the country’s leading peace activists on the current situation in the Middle East. He will be talking about Israel’s recent incursions into Gaza and south Lebanon and the disputes they cause among left-wing groups in the Knesset and Israeli civil society. The event will also provide a panoramic and up to date account on the current political situation in Israel, informed in part by his involvement with the groundbreaking Palestinian-Israeli All for Peace Radio station.

The event is hosted by Meretz UK at Hashomer House, 27a Broadhurst Gardens, London NW6 3BN.

Entry £3, free to Meretz UK members (no one turned away due to lack of funds).

Israel/Palestine: the settlements are unsustainable, and Netanyahu knows it

Dave Osler has a good piece on the Israeli government’s latest settlement activities :

ISRAEL’S announcement of plans for 1,600 new settler housing units in illegally occupied Palestinian territory has triggered both stern condemnation from Washington and rioting on the streets of East Jerusalem. And just to highlight their heartfelt regret over these adverse reactions, the Israeli authorities have today confirmed their desire to build 300 more.

It is difficult to interpret such intractable obstinacy as anything other than deliberate provocation, and not just in respect of the timing. As Netanyahu is well aware, substantial withdrawal is the sine qua non for the two-state policy increasingly pressed on his government by the rest of the world.

Yet his evident determination to scupper this outcome is so deep that he is willing quite literally to try and build his way out of his impasse. Not only can he not be allowed to succeed; he cannot succeed, even within his own terms.

Netanyahu’s hardline position puts him directly at odds with majority opinion in his own country. Most Israelis do not regard preservation of settlements in Palestinian territory as a fundamental objective of the state, and do not believe that the interests of settlers take priority over those of the population in general.

Still the administration pushes on with colonisation, either oblivious to – or more likely perfectly conscious of – the consequences. But in either eventuality, it is equally culpable. Yet in the long run, the economic, demographic, diplomatic and political realities that will ultimately culminate in the establishment of a Palestinian state render the practice unsustainable.
The argument is sometimes advanced that any Israeli government calling for the abandonment of even a single settlement would run the risk of civil war. It is indeed the case that some isolated communities are home to potentially terrorist elements inspired by the ideas of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.

But these groups lack sufficient wider support to mobilise mass backing for any resistance to an order to withdraw. There is also the precedent of Yamit, an Israeli-built town in northeast Sinai, which was evacuated in 1982 under the terms of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

Ultimately the settlements are an obstacle in the way of a settlement, and that is why the construction work – tellingly, employing mostly Palestinian labour – is being stepped up. But they are not enough of an obstacle to do anything more than delay the inevitable cave in to reality.

Hal Draper: How to Defend Israel – a Program for Israeli Socialists (1948)

Cross-posted on Greens Engage:

Hal Draper and his political party, the Workers’ Party, rejected the idea of partition and believed the ultimate decision to set up a new nation state of Israel in 1948 was a regrettable one. But, recognising that most socialists had not pursued an argument against nationalism in general and should not do so with Jews in 1948, and cognisant of the nature of the enemies of Israel at that time, he authored How To Defend Israel: a Political Program for Israeli Socialists.

This was a time, note, when religion was eclipsed as an influence in Middle East conflicts by a raft of other warring ideologies, and so does not receive the emphasis he would probably give it if he were writing today. The idea of Britain being part of the Big Three is also quaint. And the notion of ‘imperialism’ is, as ever, left unpacked (in my previous post Moishe Postone examines how anti-capitalism became internationalised as anti-imperialism). It was also a time when Palestinians who had suddenly found themselves as Israel’s Arab citizens were living under military rule; since that time a great deal of progress has been made (notwithstanding the present Israeli government – as Mohammad Darawshe remarks “There have been worse”). However, Hal Draper’s thinking about Israel is worth revisiting because of his distinction between elites (which he terms ‘Zionist leadership’ and ‘Arab lords’ or ‘effendis’) and the interests of two peoples, and his acknowledgement of their right to self determination.

“… socialist thinking on this subject must start by understanding the distinction between (a) the Jews’ right to self-determination, and (b) the correctness or advisability of exercising this right to the point of separation under given conditions. We need only refer to the fact that, before and after the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks’ program called for defense of Finland’s right to self-determination: before the revolution, Marxists in Finland advocated separation; after the revolution, the Communists in Finland advocated unity with Russia; but both before and after, there was no question in their minds but that the Finns had the right to separate if they so willed. Never under Lenin did the Soviets attempt to deprive them of that right by force of arms.

But in the present case we do not even have the complication of a workers’ state being involved. Far from it! The attack upon the Jews’ right to self-determination comes from a deeply reactionary social class – the Arab lords – whose reactionary aims in this case are not alleviated by the fact that they themselves suffer from the exploitation of British imperialism (at the same time that they cling to that imperialism in order to defend their privileges against their own people).

In this conflict, as socialists – that is, as the only thoroughgoing and consistent democrats, we not only support the Palestine Jews’ right to self-determination but draw the necessary conclusions from that position: for full recognition of the Jewish state by our own government; for lifting the embargo on arms to Israel; for defense of the Jewish state against the Arab invasion in the present circumstances.

But for us this is not the end of the question but only the beginning.

The question which we have asked, following Lenin’s method, was: What politics does this war flow from? War – so goes the platitude – is the continuation of politics by other, forceful, means. In the case of every concrete war, we try to analyze concretely the politics of which that war is the continuation. The Spanish loyalist government was an imperialist government; it exploited Morocco and oppressed the peasants (and shot them down when they revolted!). But when the Franco fascists sought to overthrow even this miserable government, we called for its defense – in our own way, by revolutionary means, and without giving the slightest political support to the bourgeois People’s Front leaders – because our analysis of the concreteness of events showed that the anti-Franco war did not flow from the loyalist government’s imperialist character but from the fascists’ attack upon its democratic base.

This was ABC once.”

Read on.

(I also got a lot out of Hal Draper’s his ABC of National Liberation Movements. I have yet to read his much-cited Two Souls of Socialism. See also Sean Matgamna, whose organisation Workers’ Liberty frequently draws on Draper’s thinking, and who cautions “Draper, I think, did contribute more than a little to the Zionophobe conquest of so much of the left”.)

Via Contested Terrain.

TULIP in The Australian

Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine had a recent piece in The Australian:

“There are outstanding examples of co-operation between Israeli and Palestinian unions that need to be encouraged. For example, there’s a remarkable initiative launched by the International Transport Workers Federation to make life much easier for Palestinian drivers.

This has been a small but ground-breaking union agreement encouraging dialogue between the Palestinian and Israeli national trade union centres, as well as individual unions and their members on both sides of the divide. This agreement will help improve the livelihoods of hard-working union truckers and their families.

As we write this the ITF is organising to move this important project to a higher level with the co-operation of the Israel trade union congress Histadrut and the Palestinian transport workers union.

This model is a firm rejection of those in trade unions promoting an Israel boycott movement.

This model upholds the traditional role of trade unions when faced with disputes of this kind: bridging the gap between nations at war, encouraging peace, justice and conciliation. It is a trade union tradition and role that we are particularly proud to uphold.”

Read it all.

There must be another way

This piece, by Rachel Shabi, is from Cif.

The timing was doomed. Just as the Israel-inflicted death toll in Gaza reached 900, a third of those children, Israel’s entry to the Eurovision song contest was announced. It was the third week of Israel’s devastating assault on Gaza, in January, and an Arab-Israeli was going to sing to Europe with a Jewish-Israeli, a song about finding “another way”. Condemnation rained down on the duo. They were slammed as willing fig leaves for Israel’s deadly assault in Gaza, not to mention its stifling occupation of the Palestinian territories, not to mention its discriminatory treatment of non-Jewish citizens.

The objection was easy to follow: how could a Palestinian citizen of Israel, the actress-singer Mira Awad, choose to duet with the Jewish-Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (known as “Noa”), and thereby represent the very same state that crushes, maims and kills other Palestinians? The “radical” left wing both within and beyond Israel was unequivocal: Awad should refuse to sing on such a blood-soaked stage.

She didn’t refuse, and the two will appear at Eurovision this week. And while it might be easy to deride her decision, it is harder to dismiss her – or her creative partner, Noa. The Euro-entry song smacks of the sort of bogus peace PR at which Israel excels, but there doesn’t seem to be a lack of authenticity to the two singers. Of course they have polished the patter for the press. But I also saw them banter together once the TV cameras had gone, jokily flicking stereotypes at each other in the sort of dark, absurdist comedy that usually requires much more than a tokenistic understanding of co-existence.

I saw the duo – long-term friends and creative collaborators – sing something completely different, written and led by Awad, at an alternative ceremony for Israeli Remembrance Day. The event was staged by Combatants for Peace, an organisation of former fighters from both sides who are now battling together for an end to the occupation. Interviewing the two, I was struck by Mira Awad talking about staying friends and maintaining discussion with Noa despite their deep disagreements over aspects of the Gaza war. Sticking around for such conversations, when every part of you wants to walk away in disgust, is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of genuine peace work – and it deserves respect.

Those that slam the duo quite often hold that Israeli society is woefully incapable of changing from within; that the only way to improve the lives of the Palestinians trapped under Israel’s brutal rule is through exerting external pressure. That is a legitimate point and a tactic worth pursuing. But is it so bad to have another view – one embodied by the Euro duo – running in tandem to it? These two singers seem to be saying that, whatever the international community does or doesn’t do about this conflict, Palestinians and Israelis are still going to have to find a way to live together. That’s the draining, demoralising and largely invisible day-to-day work of conflict resolution. That’s what they seem to want to use the Euro stage to state. And you could say it’s a bit hippie and way too understated – but is it nonetheless worth broadcasting?

This piece, by Rachel Shabi, is from Cif.

Reconciliation and understanding, not boycotts and exclusions

American Federation of Teachers show UCU the way


It really is that simple.  Sally Hunt and the leadership of the UCU just need to put out a reasonable statement opposing the campaign to boycott Israeli academics, supporting academic freedom and supporting open and informed debate about Israel and Palestine.  That is all they need to do.  Like the American Federation of Teachers has done:

Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on a Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

In the aftermath of the war in Gaza, a number of Canadian and American professors and organizers have called for an academic boycott of Israel. These initiatives are similar to efforts by a group of British academics earlier this decade intended to block Israeli universities and professors from participating in academic conferences and other forums
outside of Israel.

Modeled on these efforts, a group of California academics in January 2009 initiated its own call for an academic boycott of Israeli universities and scholars—the first we know of in the United States. Dubbing itself the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USCACBI,) the campaign’s declared goal is to pressure Israel to end
its occupation and thereby “bring an end to the ongoing massacres of civilians and end the occupation of Gaza and Palestine.”

In 2002, the executive council of the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution opposing such academic boycotts, calling them “anathema to academic freedom.” Since that time, the AFT has actively worked against academic boycott proposals aimed at Israel. Today, we want to reiterate that position. We believe academic
boycotts were a bad idea in 2002 and are a bad idea now. Academic boycotts are inconsistent with the democratic values of academic freedom and free expression.

In addition to opposing academic boycotts in principle, the AFT’s 2002 resolution objected to the rhetoric that accompanied the British academic boycott proposals, finding it to be one-sided and unsubstantiated. For example, the British proposals criticize only Israel, without mentioning any policies, statements or actions taken by the Palestinians— such as Hamas’ shelling of Israeli civilian targets or its unilateral breach of the cease fire—that have exacerbated the conflict.

The AFT was not alone in its criticism of the earlier British academic boycott movement (which was directed solely at Israel). The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), among other major U.S. organizations and leaders, was outspoken in its opposition. In 2006, an AAUP statement opposing academic boycotts expressed its
“long-standing opposition to the free exchange of ideas.” “We especially oppose selective academic boycotts that entail an ideological litmus test,” the AAUP declaration said.

Earlier this year, AAUP president Carl Nelson restated his organization’s opposition to academic boycotts. In 2007, nearly 300 American university presidents signed a public statement in opposition to academic boycotts. The author of that statement, Columbia University’s president Lee Bollinger, said, “If you boycott Israeli academics, you boycott
us at Columbia.”

We want to make clear that this position does not in any way discourage an open discussion and debate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or of ways to resolve it. However, we expect that such a discussion would not be one-sided and would consider the behavior of all the relevant actors. An academic boycott of Israel, or of any country, for that
matter, would effectively suppress free speech without helping to resolve the conflict. An academic boycott is the complete antithesis of academic freedom; therefore, it should not be supported by any individual or institution that subscribes to this basic principle of higher education and, indeed, of democratic discourse.

Dealing with Conflict – an event organised by Wahat al-Salaam / Neve Shalom

Dealing with Conflict (School for Peace – Wahat al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom)
London 31/03/09 or Brighton 24/04/09

Workshop about our Education Resource Dealing With Conflict which is in line with national curricular requirements. Suits citizenship, RE, history, community cohesion, mediation skills, exploring identity, inter faith, Learning about the Israel-Arab conflict. Featured in TES, DEA RE Today, and DFES. Dealing with conflict is modelled after the international institute of encounter and conflict resolution, The School for Peace, in Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam, a joint Jewish / Palestinian village.

Workshop will also accommodate any non teaching professional who likes to learn about the methods at SFP.

More details:
Office 020-89524717 M. 07843630760

Daniel Zylbersztajn
B.A. hon. (SOAS), M.A. (Goldsm.), M.Sc. (Brunel),
Member of NUJ for PR / Press

Education Coordinator / Press & PR
British Friends of Neve Shalom~Wahat al Salam

For all Phone +44.7843630760

One Voice in 2009: breaking taboos

By email from OneVoice:

“2009 opened with a variety of new opportunities and unforeseen challenges which have dramatically altered the political landscape in the Middle East – elections and a war, new administrations and more violence. In some ways, the greatest challenge facing us this year is not what has changed, but what has stubbornly persisted: Palestinians still live under occupation, without freedom or independence; Israelis still live under threat from rocket attacks, without security or safety. The dream of two states for two peoples has not been realized.

The tragedy of the Gaza war widened the rift between Israelis and Palestinians – a schism that was acutely felt by OneVoice’s Israeli and Palestinian teams on the ground, threatening the very fabric of the Movement. None were more affected than our Gaza staff, who had to be evacuated following the war, and who have been temporarily relocated to the West Bank. But across all staff and members, there was an enormous amount of trust lost, which needed to be rebuilt.

To confront the situation, over the past two months, OneVoice has been engaged in a deep process of introspection, self-evaluation, political assessment, and strategic consultation to address the current situation and devise a way forward – we came together as a team, Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals, and in so doing were able to reach some conclusions about how we can strengthen the Movement, address the changing realities on the ground, and effect real change this year. After conferring with the OVI and OVP Youth Councils, the International Steering Committee, the International and Regional Boards, and staff from across the offices, OneVoice’s global leadership met together in Jerusalem in late February, and agreed on the following:

OneVoice can play a key role in the process – offering a concrete way forward to both peoples. We have built an unparalleled infrastructure and youth movement based on a unique premise: each side working in its own national self-interest to achieve freedom, independence, security, dignity, viability, and international recognition for both peoples.

But nothing will ever change if we don’t have the courage to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. Beneath the surface of the phrase “two state solution” there is a great deal of consensus that is yet to be forged within and between both societies – a great deal of understanding that is still missing. Even with our signatories and team members, we have recognized that Palestinians and Israelis have yet to acknowledge the legitimate concerns and perspectives of the other side. OneVoice has a critical role to play in civic education: in tackling the reality of the historic compromise that will be required of both Israelis and Palestinians in order to end the occupation of Palestine, to guarantee the security of Israel, and to resolve the conflict once and for all based on a formula of mutual recognition between two independent and viable states: Israel and Palestine.

Our programs for 2009 will be focused exclusively on the need to take courageous steps and break taboos on each side in order to make progress. It will certainly not be easy – but we simply have no time to lose. The window for a two state solution is closing, and this must be the year we make the critical difference.

We look forward to updating you with more detail in the coming weeks.”