January 09, 2011

Overcoming the Walls of our Time

What is happening in the Middle East should be of primary concern to us all. We have violence, religion, land grabs, nuclear power, politics, imperialism, siege, cruelty, war, and hope. The outcome of the Palestinian situation will affect every person on the planet because it will mean the difference between real democracy and peace, or sham democracy and violent imperialism – perhaps for us all. We are witness to a pan-governmental crisis of morality.

The South American continent, against all the plotting, bribery, violence, civil wars and massacres instigated by Western powers (for Western read US and its puppets), has lately risen to the principle of liberation and equality. It has at last resisted the ‘savage justice of the Europeans’ (Adam Smith) and created a revival of indigenous culture and language, the gaining of land rights and human rights. Many South American countries have in the last few years fought and won the battle against ruinous poverty and political repression. They have embraced for themselves the notion that the first beneficiaries of the development of a country’s resources should be the people of that country, and the West doesn’t like it one bit.

The continuing disenfranchisement and repression of Palestinian people is a continuum of Western oppression and as in South America, Cuba and Haiti it is being strongly resisted. Why else should a concrete annexation wall be built by Israel, dwarfing the Berlin wall in scale and length? If such a wall was for security reasons it would follow the border and be impregnable, but it is built to annex valuable Palestinian land and water resources.

Gaza is under siege because the game plan is to crush the spirit, the culture and the rights of the people entombed within it. Sewing thread is on the list of banned items to Gaza. Whilst it is clear that sewing thread is not an intrinsic ingredient to bomb making – it becomes clear that the traditional crafts of Palestinians are a threat both culturally and psychologically. Suffocating the culture of Palestinians is part of the long term plan to force the people into mute insignificance in their own land. It has been tried before – in Tibet, in Wales, in the New World. It may work for a while, but the determination of the oppressed should not be underestimated.

Twenty-one widely respected agencies including Save the Children, the UN, Red Cross, Amnesty International and Oxfam have issued a report condemning the injustices inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli state. This report is part of a sea change in world public opinion. There is a growing trend of international opposition to Israel’s apartheid policies:

· 116 governments have already recognised Palestine as a sovereign state

· The Methodist Church in Britain has recently decided to divest from Israeli companies operating in the West Bank

· Unions in Belgium, Spain, France, Norway, England and Australia are backing the Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign

· Peaceful aid convoys ride a wave of public opposition to Israel’s collective punishment of the Geneva Convention protected populations in Gaza.

· Numbers of Jews protesting inside Israel and around the globe are increasing. Jewish protests inside Israel are often prevented or put down by internal security forces.

Israel is facing the existential threat of de-legitimization. Israel’s far right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is so worried about the state’s loss of legitimacy that he has started a global media campaign to improve Israel’s shattered image. It will be media spin and cannot do much more than character assassinate anyone who opposes current Israeli policies. Widening circles of people will be tagged as ‘terrorist supporters’ and Islamic extremists, the peace and justice movements among them.

Israel is now inflicting with determination a terrible pain - employing state force against even mild forms of dissent. Peaceful protests against the annexation wall are being broken up with shock grenades, teargas beatings, shootings, and killings. Intimidatory arrests are often followed by torture, even of children, and long prison sentences. More than 10,000 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, many without fair trials. This increasing reliance of force rather than legitimacy is reminiscent of the dying days of white rule in apartheid South Africa.

Gaza has emerged as the centre-piece of all that is wrong with the attitude of Israel and its western allies. In 2006 an election certified as free and fair by international observers was won by Hamas . This attempt at non US backed democracy was swiftly punished and the siege was announced. The tiny area of Gaza, already home to 1.5 million refugees from previous conflicts, was sealed off from the world. All exports and imports are currently banned and the entire population is imprisoned and almost permanently under fire. Talk of an ease to the blockade is a lie. Gazans continue to live under cruel devastation conditions, a fact confirmed by John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinians have held fast to their beliefs in justice and freedom. Not for them the fate of second class citizens living under apartheid laws. The free people of the world have come to their aid and a series of peaceful land and sea convoys have challenged the siege of Gaza. In May 2010 the Freedom Flotilla was attacked under cover of darkness. Nine civilians were killed. Some were executed by close range shots to the head. Others were riddled with bullets. Dozens more were injured. The Israeli commandos who committed these atrocities received public praise and state medals from their Prime Minister.

But the world convoys continue bringing aid and hope, and even more importantly reconnect the imprisoned ones with the outside world which they are forbidden to enter.

Now is the time for good people everywhere to find a voice. Peace and justice groups are stepping up their efforts, their campaigns and their protests. Now is the time to contact your MP, your representatives, your government and remind them of their responsibility to justice under the UN HRC Resolution calling for the Immediate Lifting of Gaza Siege. Now is the time to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Full text of the UN Resolution http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/sc9940.doc.htm

Dashed Hopes – The full report http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/downloads/dashed-hopes-continuation-gaza-blockade-301110-en.pdf

You can take Action:

Find your MP here http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ and write to them asking why the Government should NOT want to recognise Palestine as a Sovereign State

Support or join a convoy taking humanitarian aid to Gaza. Go to www.vivapalestina.org and click on your country and find out more.

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