Dear AJDS members and supporters,
This month we mark the 50th year since Israel’s annexation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For many Jews, this was cause for celebration. In Arabic, however, this event is called the Naksa, or ‘setback’. In terms of its traumatic resonance, this anniversary comes second to the cataclysmic establishment of a Jewish State in 1948, the Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’. But debates within the Jewish Left about wording, or the ranking of such devastating events, can at times feel like a distraction from the ongoing, escalating violence and severe restrictions on democratic rights and free speech. To a growing number of Jews worldwide, it is unthinkable that such social injustice in Israel/Palestine should continue and escalate. This dissent was evident with the groundswell of expressions of solidarity for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. Military forces suppressed some demonstrations with violence; it was also used against the Sumud Freedom Camp at Sarura, a resettled Palestinian village in the northern West Bank, joined by hundreds of activists from around the world including AJDS executive members Jordy Silverstein and Rachel Liebhaber, there with the Centre for Jewish Nonviolence. This kind of peaceful action transcends internal divisions and minor differences, and makes successful and lasting connections that are stronger than any wall or other physical barrier.
In this spirit, the current issue of Just Voices brings together voices that inspire, inform, and strengthen our collective resolve to stand up for universal human rights in Israel/Palestine. And as we each take up more opportunities for action, solidarity and change, I hope you will share your own take on being progressive in 2017.
Keren Rubinstein, AJDS Content Editor
Haaretz 4 June 2017. “We went in search of asses and found a kingdom,” [Samuel 9:1-10] declared Levi Eshkol, Israel’s Prime Minister, on his opening address to the government’s meeting, on 11 June 1967. Eshkol continued: “There was once talk, as though after the War of Independence some things were left in a way that is a shame for generations to come. Since then, generations have not yet come and gone… and that has all been repaired. All the flaws have been repaired.” In saying this, Eshkol was referring to criticism from both Left and Right towards Mapai [forerunner of today’s Labour Party] over David Ben-Gurion’s decision to avoid occupying the West Bank during the War of Independence. Eshkol tried to prove, so it seems, that he had realised what others had only hoped for. After he spoke, Eshkol gave way to the Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, to go over the war’s manoeuvres, but a moment before he managed to do so, National Religious Party Minister Zerach Warhaftig called out: “…who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion” [shehecheyanu…]. That war’s victory and its numerous conquests led to a wave of excitement in… Read More
Read more from Just Voices #13, June 2017 – Israel/Palestine. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Related
I had the pleasure of speaking with Naser Shakhtour, founder and director of the Palestinian Film Festival (PFF), about his life and work. Naser described in subtle and illuminating terms the way in which his personal experience as a Palestinian in Australia compelled him to start collating movies from Palestine to screen around Australia in this multi-city festival, the first of its kind. Born in Palestine, Naser grew up between Kuwait and Palestine. As a teenager, these events shaped his awareness of what it meant to be a Palestinian, and the importance of the land to his parents and wider family. Years later, living in Sydney and settled here as many others in the diaspora, the importance of Palestine has not waned in his life and work; on the contrary. ‘There is so little representation of Palestine in Australia,’ he told me over Skype, ‘and I really wanted to address that.’ The PFF has been increasingly successful each year that it has been put on, since it was first launched in 2007, when there was still relatively little interest in Palestinian cinema. It has been a very positive experience, Naser explains, gaining much community support and positive reviews, despite any… Read More
Sylvie Leber is an artist, an activist with Jews for Refugees, the Council of Single Mothers and Their Children, a single mother herself, and a long time social activist on countless other fronts. She became an activist when she was 15, attending her first protest in 1965 against Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Last year Sylvie was published on Right Now, an independent not-for-profit media organisation focused on human rights issues in Australia. Read Sylvie’s speech from the Anti-Netanyahu Rally in Melbourne, February 2017. Read “Mum, did you steal any refugees?” Notes on the Baxter convergence, 2003. In April 2017, Sylvie visited Palestine as part of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network’s organised tour of the West Bank and Jerusalem. Photos were uploaded straight to social media during her visit, capturing the place as only a first-time visitor with a keen eye could. With thanks to Sylvie, we share with you some of those photos: Read more from Just Voices #13, June 2017 – Israel/Palestine Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) Related
The following is a heavily redacted version of a lecture delivered by Dr. Micaela Sahhar at Monash University in April 2017 as a guest lecturer in a course titled ‘the Arab-Israeli Conflict’ coordinated by the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation. The lecture delved into key issues in our understanding of Israel/Palestine, the so-called conflict and the significance of historical narration and (mis)representation. The lecture was accompanied by a powerpoint presentation of which we bring you a few slides. With the author’s permission, below are sections from the lecture that focused on the occupation of 1967, and critical issues in the discussion of two states: _ _ _ _ _ “…An idea prevalent in Israeli national narrative is that there is a significant and ultimately devastating shift between the creation of the State in 1948 and the Six Day War in 1967. In many conventional narratives, 1967 is the date to which Occupation is attributed, and serves as the axiomatic moment in which it is said that Israel ‘lost its way’. … I will talk about 1967, but with my qualifications in mind, I will in particular demonstrate why, although I am beginning with 1967, the extent to which it is… Read More
The following excerpts have been reproduced with permission from the author. They appeared in Gaza Mom (2012), a book based on the blog written by El-Hadddad since 2004. (Excerpts taken from pages 213, 219-20, 254-5) The Story of the Year Gaza City, Palestine, December 18 2006 The Middle East has made its fair share of headlines this year – from the stunning victory of Hamas in January’s Palestinian elections to the sudden death of Ariel “the butcher” Sharon to Israel’s blitzkrieg of Lebanon. But perhaps the most harrowing – and sidelined – story of the year has been the story of Gaza and its gradual abandonment. During the past nine months, Israel, backed by the United States and Europe, has methodically laid waste to a society of 1.5 million people, hermetically seeling in its residents, impoverishing it to unprecedented levels on par with Africa, besieging its land and people like never before – punishing them where no crime existed. Is it the first time in history, according to John Dugard at the United Nations, that an occupied people have been subject to international sanctions, especially sanctions of this magnitude and rigor. Before our very eyes, local powers have clouded together to create… Read More
As we reach the 50 year milestone of Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the AJDS is devastated by the realities of the ongoing military occupation of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. It is both painful and tragic because we believe it can end. In presenting the historical background and detailing the ongoing devastation we acknowledge the Palestinian dispossession and hope to shift the narrative, one that has not shifted enough in 50 years. In the context of our own history it is incumbent on us to shout ENOUGH. We refuse to stay silent or participate , not in our name, we are witnesses who choose not to be bystanders. Whilst the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands did not begin with the results of the 6 Day War – which is called the Naksa in Arabic, the Setback – the war played a significant role in emboldening messianic expansionist elements in Israeli society and amongst Zionists throughout the world, which has strongly impacted settlement expansion throughout the occupied territories, and ensured that years of “negotiations” have resulted in neither justice nor peace for Palestinians, or Israelis. While what is commonly termed ‘the… Read More
On April 17, Palestinian prisoners in Israel launched a hunger strike in protest of the conditions under which they were held. The strike was ended after 40 days, when the Israeli government offered a partial agreement to their terms. The following statement was issued in solidarity with what came to be known as the Dignity Strike, and circulated social networks from 4 May 2017 onward, gathering more signatories: We, Sivan Barak Bialobroda, Jord Ana, Larry Stillman, Richard Flantz, Alexjo Sandra Nissen, Michael Brull, Melanie Lazarow, Carolyn Whitzman, Yael Winikoff, Nicole Erlich, Guy Gillor, Keren Rubinstein, David Fonteyn, Janey Stone, Peter Esdaile, Hayim Prometheus Dar, Sandra Padova, Joan Nestle, Sue Leigh, Miriam Faine, Kim Asher, Yaakov Aharon, Ann Fink, Deborah Zion, Yentl Nissenbaum Tammy Ben-Shaul Vivienne Porzsolt, Esme Tyson, Michelle Berkon, Alice Beauchamp, David Glanz, Peter Slezak, Dennis Martin, John Ebel, [and other] Australian Jews, are calling out for justice for the Palestinian prisoners. Tonight, on the 34th day of the hunger strike we stand in solidarity with the approximately 1500 Palestinian prisoners who launched a hunger strike on April 17, and who remain on hunger strike, protesting their treatment by Israel within Israeli prisons. The prisoners are striking in order to… Read More
This is a slightly edited version of a piece that originally appeared in Overland, 23 May 2017. _ _ _ On Saturday morning I woke up at Sumud: Freedom Camp. The camp is set up in Sarura, a reclaimed Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills in the West Bank. It has been built on the principle of sumud, steadfastness. Between 1980 and 1998 the people of Sarura were expelled from their lands through the violence of the Israeli army into nearby villages and towns, such as At-Tuwani, Hebron and Yatta. They have remained displaced since that time, until Sumud Freedom Camp was established on Friday. An unprecedented coalition, invited and led by the families of Sarura and other local Palestinian organisations, has worked together to provide a new home and a new space for resistance, as well as a new mode for articulating claims for Palestinian justice. During Friday and Saturday, as part of a delegation from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence of approximately 150 Jews from around the world – more Jews from outside Israel than have ever before come together for such a project – and working alongside the Popular Committee for the South Hebron Hills, Youth Against Settlements, Holy Land Trust, All That’s Left and Combatants… Read More
Haaretz 4 May 2017. Last week, Sgt Elor Azaria’s defence team, headed by Attorney Yoram Sheftel, submitted an application to present new evidence in their appeal against Azaria’s manslaughter conviction. The application details 14 incidents in which IDF soldiers shot and killed innocent people and did not stand trial. The application is part of a new defence strategy based on a contention of a denial of natural justice, due to selective enforcement. The aim of the defence team is to show that in actual fact, others were not charged for the same offence, and therefore there was no reason to charge Azaria. According to Sheftel, the new incidents are “at least as severe as in Azaria’s case, if not more so. In a significant number of cases there was no investigation, while in others an investigation was opened only years later, and in no cases, were charges pressed.” Most of the cases he mentions are based on the series “Licence to kill” that I had published previously with @Noam Rotem on Local Call [published 7 January 17 in 972mag.com]. During Azaria’s trial his defence team, then headed by lawyers Ilan Katz and Eyal Beserglick, had already made a failed attempt… Read More