Jews plead for rights of Palestinians
Fascinating and hopeful new outspokenness is developing among some UK Jews about Israeli-Palestinian relations. Consider this excerpt of an interview by Amy Goodman of the ever-excellent DemocracyNow! (and by all means, if this subject intrigues you, click on the title and read the entire interview at DN’s site):
This week in Britain, a group of prominent British Jews launched an organization to counterbalance what they perceive as uncritical support of Israel by major Jewish institutions in the UK. … The IJV Declaration states that “those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people.” … members urge …other Jews to express their views about Israeli policies without fear of being labeled anti-Semitic, self-hating, or disloyal. …
SUSIE ORBACH: … what’s been really, really interesting is the kind of support we’ve garnered this week. … I think the mood has really changed, where people feel less frightened and that the kind of monolith position, which is that all Jews everywhere have to keep their disputes within the family, rather than be able to say, no, there are other voices — I think something is being broken by our statement, and I’m very, very pleased about that. …
I think one of the motivations for me joining IJV … is that actually I am very concerned about the survival of Israel, and I think its actions now do not speak well for it … It kind of feels like a terrible stain that a Jewish state is acting in this way. And so, there are people in our network who are very, very strong supporters of either the two-state solution or of the continuation of the state of Israel, but who are disturbed by its practices vis-à-vis Palestinian people.
SIR GEOFFREY BINDMAN: May I say, I very much agree with Susie on that point. … There is real freedom of expression in Israel. Israel’s constitution is enviable and could be a model for other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, it seems to me, it lets itself down very badly by its treatment of the Palestinians, by its occupation of the West Bank, which has been condemned by the United Nations and which, in my opinion and that of many, many lawyers, is clearly illegal, and by the treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, which contradicts the Geneva Conventions in all sorts of ways. It violates international law. This lets down Israel. It undermines Israel’s valid claims to be a democracy and a model society….
AMY GOODMAN: I just wanted to read the five principles, quickly, that you have signed onto, the original signatories.…
[One,] Human rights are universal and indivisible and should be upheld without exception. This is as applicable in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as it is elsewhere.
Two, Palestinians and Israelis alike have the right to peaceful and secure lives.
Three, peace and stability require the willingness of all parties to the conflict to comply with international law.
Four, there is no justification for any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia, in any circumstance.
And, five, the battle against anti-Semitism is vital and is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic. …
SIR GEOFFREY BINDMAN: … We are concerned, in the main, about human rights, social justice, and I think most, if not all, of us feel that Israeli government policies have undermined its own commitment, the commitment of the Israeli state in its founding declaration, to respect human rights, to observe human rights, because they have not properly behaved towards Palestinians in a way consistent with those pr inciples.
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