IJSN Statement on Gaza

The year 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe marked by the destruction or depopulation of more than 400 Palestinian villages and the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinian people from their lands, communities and homes. Since then, Palestinians have lived under occupation, as refugees, and as second class citizens on their own land; Israel's assault against the indigenous Palestinian communities continues with unremitting brutality. In Gaza, with the support of the US government and its allies, Israel has effectively cut off food, water, electricity, humanitarian aid, medical supplies and the means of basic employment or trade, despite the pretence of ‘disengagement’ offered by Israeli withdrawal of settlements.

On the contrary, this withdrawal has facilitated Israel's ever-increasing grip on the area. Israel controls entry and exit from this small, sealed internment camp. The people of Gaza have nowhere to go. Israel's policy towards Gazans is inhumane and racist. How can it be otherwise, when Israel's existence is predicated on ethnic cleansing? Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai's vicious threat of a ‘shoah’, or holocaust, is an outrage yet unsurprisingly consistent with the military's tactics and Israel's historic designs for the region. The US and Europe are not just standing by indifferently: they are accomplices. As Western states honour the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, the groundwork for the further expulsion of Palestinians into Egypt and for genocide is thus being laid.

As Jews, this anniversary also highlights other histories: sixty years of the hijacking of Jewish participation in liberation struggles; sixty years of dishonoring and exploiting the persecution, displacement and genocide of European Jews by using their memory to justify and perpetuate European racism and colonialism; and sixty years of extensive displacement and alienation of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of Arab and African descent) from indigenous identities, languages, histories, cultures and homelands. This anniversary implicates us in the oppression of the Palestinian people and in the debasement of our own heritages, struggles for justice and alliances with our fellow human beings.

Israel's regional designs have historically been possible, and remain so today, only through a mutually beneficial economic and military relationship with a larger imperial interest — first the United Kingdom and France, and currently the United States. As Jews, we state that Israel, Zionist institutions around the world, the United States government, and the multi-national corporate beneficiaries do not speak for us.

We condemn the siege on Gaza and the persistence of the Zionist colonial project. We condemn the occupation of Iraq and the larger imperialist economic, military and political agenda of the Middle East.

We stand with popular resistance in Gaza, Iraq, the broader region, the global South and oppressed communities within our own nations when we demand:

    * that all forms of international pressure be applied on Israel for the immediate end of the siege, including the return of the electricity supply and the unrestricted flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza.
    * an end to European Union collusion with the US/Israeli occupation through its financial support and military involvement in the Occupied Territories and Iraq, and immediate provision of critical aid to Gaza.
    * an immediate opening of the Rafah border by the Egyptian government to allow essential supplies, including food and medicine, to move freely.
    * the initiation by all countries and international bodies of judicial proceedings against Israelis involved in the mass killing in Gaza and other crimes in the region.
    * intensification of the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

On this 60th anniversary of the Nakba we also make a special appeal to Jews because the assimilation of ‘Jewish’ interests with those of imperialism endows many of us with economic and cultural privileges. We therefore ask Jews to participate in resistance, actions, and events organized by Palestinians and solidarity activists. We ask Jews to respect the demands and priorities of the Palestinian liberation struggle, including in particular the essential Right of Return and the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Finally, we remind ourselves of our primary obligation to confront the many powerful Zionist Jewish institutions that participate in, or support, the oppression and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. We call on Jewish activists to use the 60th anniversary of Israel's foundation as an occasion for challenging these institutions and disrupting Israel celebration events and activities. By doing so, we stand in the long history of Jewish participation in liberation from — rather than collusion with — occupation, colonialism, imperialism, apartheid, racism, sexism and class oppression.





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