Click here for a panel discussion that includes Jews Say No organizer Hannah Mermelstein
Archive for February, 2009
More from Daniel McCabe:
And for a slideshow by Yoji Sugaya: http://www.globalphotoex.com/slideshow_eg/289.html
Reuters also put the story out and many TV stations around the country picked up!
And this from the Caribbean Times:
On February 13 at 9 am, Jews Say No, wrapped up 24 hours protesting in front of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency to say “Not in Our Name” to the Israeli government and to these US-based organizations that promote and defend its policies. Close to 900 people participated in the protest, some for one hour, some for 24 hours! In the wake of the election of a far right wing majority in Israel, these concerned Jews mobilized to build on the wave of increasingly public Jewish solidarity with the 1.5 million Palestinians who continue to live under siege in Gaza.
The protest was held for 24 hours to highlight the reality endured by the people of Gaza who are forced to live under inhuman conditions without reprieve, 24 hours a day. The demonstrators wanted to show the devastating impact of the Israeli occupation, the ongoing violence, bombings, and home demolitions by the Israeli government, and the effects of Israel’s blockade, which denies the people of Gaza food, water, medical supplies, and other humanitarian aid. The day was marked by three periods–morning, afternoon, and night–in the life of a child in Gaza. Readings depicted what life should be like for children but what, instead, as a result of the Israeli government’s actions, their daily conditions are like.
Protesters from many different Jewish backgrounds- long time civil rights and peace activists, Holocaust survivors, children of survivors, as well as first time participants- came together to speak out against the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza. Testimonies from participants about why they were there and letters of solidarity from around the world with today’s action were read throughout the day. Dr. Ruchama Marton, President and Founder of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel, wrote “We, Israelis, Jews, and Palestinians, need your voice that says NO clearly and loudly as a tool for creating change in Israeli and American policy”. Nabila Espanioly, Director of the Al-Tufula Center for Women and Children, declared, “As a Palestinian citizen of Israel I join you in your demand: not in my name, not with my tax money. After the election in Israel, I believe today it is more important than ever to sound your voice.”
See photographs by Daniel McCabe below, and more photographs and video to be posted soon.
Photographs by I-Witness Video at http://tinyurl.com/dhej94
The fire and phosphorous loosed upon the people that Israel penned in first, in Gaza, has finally, it seems, opened countless eyes to reality; to Israel’s systematic, long time practice of crushing Palestinian lives and Palestinian life on any possible pretext, to the hyper-militarized nature of its policy-making, to its vested interest in—and active repeated choice of—warfare, to its self-approved indiscriminate ‘rules of war’. You, to me, are an element of hope in the wake of the horror perpetrated on Gaza—individuals in growing groups, standing, acting, educating others, resolved to see an end to Israel’s years of impunity. Thank you.
-Rela Mazali, writer, feminist peace activist, and co-founder of the New Profile movement to demilitarize Israeli society.
Please allow me to call you friends.
As a Palestinian struggling for years to end the occupation I believe that we have to go back to the simple demand to stop the occupation.
The occupation is the source of all evil that we are witnessing over and over again and we will continue to witness so long as the occupation continues.
It is done in the name of all Jews and in the name of all citizens of Israel.
As a Palestinian citizen of Israel I could join your demand: Not in my name, not with my tax money.
And together with you we can make difference.
After the election in Israel and the fact that the right wing have the majority and the fascist Lieberman has 15 seats, I believe today it is more important than ever to sound your voice.
The voice of the fascist is well heard in Israel and to some degree in the world. We need your voice to stop the development of a racist tendency in Israel.
No people can stay free while occupying another nation.
Stop the occupation Now.
-Nabila, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, long-time feminist peace activist, and director of Al-Tufula Center for Women and Children in Nazareth.
When Jews, especially American Jews, say NO to what the Israeli government is doing, it is a beacon of hope for the Israelis, Jews and Palestinians who oppose Israel’s war mongering policy. It is saying NO to the Israeli government’s lies about its efforts to achieve peace, while doing whatever they can to maintain the war between Israel and the Palestinians and to continue the occupation. It is saying NO to the horrible violation of human rights while claiming to be just and moral. It is saying NO to the huge social injustice within Israel and the Occupied Territories.
We, the Israelis, Jews and Palestinians need your voice that says NO clearly and loudly for our moral support and hopefully as a practical tool for creating a change in Israeli as well as American policy.
Thank you for that. Keep your NO struggle until this change is a reality.
-Ruchama Marton, President and Founder of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel
Salute from Syria
For all of you who are gathering today standing for what’s right:
I wish I was with you to express all my respect for you all. I am writing to you from Syria, a country that is described as a “terror sponsor’, and I am writing as a Syrian who refuses to be stereotyped just because some other powerful country thinks that this is the way things should look, that this is what the world should believe. I am one of many other Syrians who feel the same way.
Last month, a friend of mine, who is American-Jewish, came to Syria for a visit. She stayed with me and my family for two days. Here in Syria, you can’t tell everyone that you are Jewish, for people don’t really distinguish between being Jewish and being Israeli. For many people here the two concepts are the same, for them if you are not a Jewish Israeli, then you are a Jewish American who is supporting Israel in every possible way.
As my family was trying to explain to her that Arabs and Muslims are good people, and they are not as they are pictured in the United States, I was thinking, why can’t she just tell them: Jews are good people, and they are not as they are pictured in the Arab world? My family loved that friend of mine so much and they all agreed about many things like justice for Palestinians and opposing the occupation, the wall, and the killing of civilians , but I was upset all the time, wondering, why can’t we just tell them she is Jewish? Would it change anything?
But here, I have to say: I can’t blame people in the Arab world for what they think of Jews. I am not saying they are right, but it is the way Israel makes things look. It’s having so close to us a country which you must be Jewish to be part of, a Jewish state that occupied our land, kicked the Palestinians out of their homes, is now building a hateful wall and practicing all kinds of discrimination against Arabs. Let alone the many massacres and genocides that have happened since 1948.
But of all the crimes Israel has committed through history; I think the most painful and hideous crime is what they did to Jews, making people think that all Jews are part of Israel. Making them look like killers, making it look like Zionism and Judaism are the same, while Judaism is just another religion, like Islam and Christianity, we believe in one God, and have many things in common in our religions. Here in Syria, Jews, Muslims and Christians used to live together in peace for centuries, before Zionism existed. So it is incorrect to say that Arabs and Israelis, or Muslim, Jews and Christians hate each other on a religious basis, and it is shameful to use religion to promote a specific policy.
During the war on Gaza people in many places of the world protested against the killing machine. One good thing Al Jazeera did was show protests of Jews in the United States against the war on Gaza. Every time I heard people in Syria wondering about it I found myself explaining again and again how Zionism and Judaism are not the same. It is a pity that a high percentage of people here don’t know that fact. Having three best friends who are Jewish gave me the feeling that it is my duty to talk to people and let them know that there are many Jews in the world who are, like us, stereotyped too.
Some people here might know the truth, but it is your responsibility as Jewish people to stop those people in Israel from using your name, religion, history and suffering to cause the same suffering for other people. And for those who say Jews suffered a lot through history and they must have a Jewish state to be protected, I say: How can you feel safe and protected between all those people who consider you an enemy? And it’s not being Jews that made you enemies; it is Israel, the occupation, the killing, the stolen lands, shattered families and the wall.
Here I am asking all of you again, look for the truth.
Not in your name.
You must not be silent.
SAY NO TO THE MASSACRE
SAY NO TO THE BLOCKADE
SAY NO TO THE OCCUPATION
SAY YES TO JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
-Noor from Damascus
Who Are We and Why Are We Here Protesting for 24 Hours in Front of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency?February 12, 2009
Statements from some of our organizers and protest participants:
As someone who with my immediate family was a child refugee from the Nazis, but who lost much of my extended family in concentration camps, I stand here on the grounds that the Holocaust did not confer impunity on the state of Israel. I reject the claim that the descendants of victims are therefore entitled to become victimizers of others.
As someone who was already politically conscious in the McCarthyite 1950s, I reject the notion that to oppose a country’s policies is to be against that country altogether. It is no more anti-Israel to oppose Israel’s illegal settlements and occupations than it was then and is now anti-American to oppose U.S. foreign policies.
The World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency does not speak for all Jews. It does not speak for me.
I was brought up to understand that as a Jewish person I had an obligation, as part of my Jewish tradition, to pursue justice. I had the honor of being a civil rights worker for 10 years in the South in the 60s and 70s, ultimately spending 20 years there, fighting for equal rights with my African American colleagues. I first went to Israel/Palestine in 2002 and was profoundly shocked when I saw with my own eyes the brutal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. If I fought for justice and equal rights here in the U.S., I am now compelled to speak up as a Jewish woman and say I will not allow either the Israeli government, an appalling human rights violator, or the established Jewish organizations, which refuse to disavow horrendous Israeli policies, to speak for me.
-Dorothy M. Zellner
I was born in 1944 with red diapers on. My father’s father and brother were rabbis. My grandparents kept a kosher home when they came to this country. My father was the only one of eight children who was born in the US. His siblings and his mother were born in northern Palestine, near the sea of Galilee. His parents had an arranged marriage. My uncle was a poet and wrote about growing up with Arabs in late 19th and early 20th century. Tension between the Jews and the Arabs was non-existent at that time. Jewish kids played with Arab kids and they went to school together.
I learned about the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli government from a very early age. Just as I learned that about racism and discrimination in this country. As a Jew, growing up in NYC I never experienced anti-Semitism and never have since though i certainly know it exists. I’ve always been interested in the Middle East but it has only been since 9/11 when the most vicious racism toward Arabs reared its ugly head in this country accompanied by still ongoing attempts by right wing Zionists to suppress criticism of Israeli government policies, that I felt I needed to be more involved and speak out. The most recent crimes of the Israeli government against Palestinians in Gaza has compelled me for the first time in my entire life to speak out as a Jew and not just as an activist or as a citizen of the world.
My parents fled Germany during the Holocaust. They were among the lucky ones who managed to escape penniless but unharmed. Many of my relatives were not as lucky. Growing up as an American Jewish girl, I was taught that a Jewish Homeland was important so that if the atrocities like the Holocaust should ever happen again at least there would be a place for Jews to go. The Holocaust was used as a cover to justify expelling 750,000 Palestinians in order to create a Jewish State. Now as an adult, I have come to question how a people so victimized, persecuted, and killed could turn around and do unto others what was done to them. Israel sealed off Gaza and turned it into an open air concentration camp blockading needed goods and supplies, limiting water, cutting off jobs and otherwise oppressing the population. There was no justification to inflict this great harm on 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are children. And now, there can be no defense for the Israeli government’s recent massacre of 1500 Palestinians, a large number of them women and children. As a child of Holocaust survivors and as a Jew I reject the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency’s defense of Israel’s barbaric conduct in Gaza. We Jews know better. We must stand up for justice. Jews have no right to occupy Palestinian territories, destroy their infrastructure, deny the people their basic human rights, including their right to statehood. I do not want my children to learn that because Jews have been persecuted, they have a right to persecute others.
I have been a Jewish activist for Israeli/Palestinian peace for over a quarter-century, but the brutality of the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza shocked me. I grew up strongly Jewish, shaped by my religiously Orthodox and Zionist mother and my atheist father whose Jewish passion for social justice I proudly embraced. As a teenager I read the Diary of Anne Frank and John Hershey’s The Wall. In the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, TV images of the siege of the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila reminded me, as a Jew, of the Warsaw Ghetto, and I deeply identified, for the first time, with Palestinians. The massacres in 1982 turned me into a life-long activist, mostly in Jewish and feminist organizations for Israeli-Palestinian peace; it shaped my scholarly work for the next 26 years.
The 2008 bombing of Gaza horrified me beyond all previous horrors. The moral question goes beyond the practical “How could the killing of Palestinian children protect Israeli children?” As a mother, seeing the pictures of infant corpses, I know I could not possibly bear such sorrow. As a Jewish woman I must say NO! Louder, and louder until the policy-makers in the World Zionist Organization, and their enablers in the U.S. government stop these murders and this murderous siege.
JEWS SAY NO: NOT IN OUR NAME
WE MUST NOT BE SILENT! WE WILL NOT BE SILENT!
In solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are being forced by the Israeli government to live in inhuman conditions under a brutal occupation, please join us for a 24-hour street protest in front of the offices of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, which promote and defend Israeli policies.
Thursday, February 12, 9 a.m. – Friday, February 13, 9 a.m.
633 Third Ave (40/41st Sts, east side of Third Ave)
IT’S NOT THE ROCKETS, IT’S THE OCCUPATION!
JEWS SAY NO TO THE MASSACRE
JEWS SAY NO TO THE BLOCKADE
JEWS SAY NO TO THE OCCUPATION
JEWS SAY YES TO JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
Please come for an hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, or more — during the day or night! Allies are encouraged to join us. Signs and visuals will be available.
NEVER AGAIN: NOT IN GAZA, NOT ANYWHERE
Endorsers of the February 12-13 Jews Say No protest:
American Jews for a Just Peace
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA
Jews Against the Occupation
Jews for a Just Peace–North Carolina
and hundreds of additional people have endorsed our call