EAPPI October 2010 Newsletter
“They say: ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace,” (Jer.6.14). These days, everyone is speaking about peace in the Middle East and the peace process. So far, however, these are simply words; the reality is one of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, deprivation of our freedom and all that results from this situation.
As talks unfold between the leaders of the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements are again proving an obstacle to a negotiated peace. But around the world, secular and faith-based civil society groups are playing a growing role in building the future envisioned in the Kairos document – a future free of occupation, oppression and violence.
A moment of truth at the United Nations
- Israel and Palestine was high on the agenda at the sixth annual UN advocacy week in Geneva, organised by the World Council of Churches (WCC). Representatives from churches, ecumenical organizations and civil society organizations, including Israeli peace activists, gathered in Geneva from 27 September to 1 October 2010 to address questions of power and structural injustice and to lobby for peace and human rights. The event coincided with the 15th session of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council also being held in Geneva.
Nora Carmi (pictured), a Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, introduced the Palestine Kairos Document to the conference. Launched in 2009, the document, officially called “A moment of truth,” is a call from Palestinian Christians for the international community to stand by the Palestinian people in the face of oppression, displacement, suffering and functional apartheid for more than six decades. It stands in the tradition of an earlier Kairos Document, launched by Christians in 1985, that addressed the political situation in South Africa during its apartheid era.
Carmi, a member of Sabeel, an Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem, introduced the document.
“When we introduced a similar argument to end apartheid in South Africa, not many believed in this branch of diplomacy. But it did work. That is why we are embracing faith and hope to deal with a situation which has resisted all efforts of morality as well as legal efforts,” she said. (More…)
Jewish attempt to reach Gaza stopped by Israeli forces
The 25 mile (41km) Gaza strip is severely overcrowded and impoverished, and has been under Israeli blockade since 2007.
A group of Israeli and European Jews including a holocaust survivor and a former Israeli air force pilot attempted to break the Israeli siege of Gaza by boat in late September. Israeli naval forces intercepted the boat, “Irene” and forced it to dock at an Israeli port. In May, Israel killed nine Turkish activists on an aid boat to Gaza, after which the UN Human Rights Council accused Israeli forces of “incredible violence.”
The organizers of the “Jewish Boat to Gaza,” members of Jewish groups from America, the UK, Germany and Israel, left Cyprus in September on “a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest – and [a] call for the siege to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip.”
But the Israeli Navy intercepted “Irene” on Tuesday 28th September and forced the crew to dock her in the Israeli port of Ashdod. Jewish Israeli conscientious objector Yonatan Shapira, who was on the boat, told Haaretz that when forces boarded the boat they treated the activists “atrociously.”
To read more about Jewish work for a just peace, click here.
WCC head visits Israel – Palestine
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, visited Israel and Palestine recently to meet local people affected by the occupation. He met religious leaders and toured Jerusalem and Hebron, meeting Ecumenical Accompaniers and Palestinians living with constant violence and harassment by Israeli settlers. Following the killing of four settlers in the West Bank on the eve of negotiations, Tveit unequivocally condemned violence and said that to bring security to both Israelis and Palestinians, “negotiations must stop the occupation and all the injustices that ordinary Palestinians experience each day.”
A recent WCC conference in Geneva focused on adding momentum to global advocacy for peace in Israel/Palestine and Nigeria. Keynote speaker Afif Safieh, a former Palestinian ambassador, asked the world’s churches to lobby American society for a just peace, re-awakening American idealism.
Petition, divestment, Dutch boycott settlement Mayors
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is petitioning President Obama to conduct talks “based on human rights, international law, and UN resolutions–the only viable basis for a just and lasting peace.” Sign the petition here.
British trade unions have voted to encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and construction of the West Bank Barrier. Read more here.
A growing South African campaign is targeting institutions complicit in the occupation, reports the Guardian.
A Dutch association of mayors rescinded an invitation to 30 Israeli mayors because four of the Israelis head illegal West Bank settlements, reported Haaretz.
Figures released on violence during Intifada
Ten years since the start of the second Intifada, Israeli human rights group B’tselem has released new figures on Israeli and Palestinian casualties. Since September 2000, Israeli security forces have killed 6371 Palestinians, said the group, adding that at least 2996 were not involved in the hostilities when killed. Palestinian militants killed 1083 Israelis, around a third of them members of the security forces.
The Editor’s Pick…
We are constantly updating the EAPPI website with new Eyewitness accounts from Ecumenical Accompanier serving in the occupied Palestinian territories. We have now started regular Factsheets on specific issues – check them out here. Some are also available in French and German.
Here is our editor’s selection of the best new material by Ecumenical Accompaniers:
Ashraf Tannous lebt im Westjordanland und arbeitet in Jerusalem. Er ist Diakon der Erlöserkirche. Eine Geschichte über Unterdrückung und Vergebung.
Christian solidarity – Why does a Palestinian priest choose to stay in Nablus even as his congregation leaves?
The story of Yanoun – an audio slideshow.
Harsh detention – Palestinian children detained by the Israeli army regularly report ill treatment. EAPPI heard some first hand testimonies.
Fiche d’information – Une nouvelle vague de demolitions en Transjordanie.
Israel/Palestina: Konflikten selger ikke
Pari kertaa viikossa suuntaan askeleeni kohti Tulkarem Camp – nimistä pakolaisleiriä.
Semester hela året runt – Vilken är avsikten med ditt besök? Hur länge ska du vara här? Reser du ensam? Hur många är ni? Frågorna smattrar från den bistra kvinnan i passkontrollen på Ben Gurionflygplatsen i Tel Aviv.