On Friday April 26th, 2013 the St Andrews University Jewish Society and the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity of the university will be hosting a Matzah Ball, fundraising for amongst others the Friends of the IDF and The JNF.
The IDF, the official name of the Israeli army, is the policing and military body that is instrumental to the ongoing occupation of the West Bank. This occupation, which began in 1967, is illegal under international law and is condemned by governments worldwide, including the UK. Among the numerous horrific effects of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank are the denial of the freedom of movement (through the separation wall and checkpoints) restricting access of Palestinians to healthcare, education and use of natural resources, and devastating consequences on the local economy with high unemployment and little or no access to international trade. Palestinians are attacked or shot for protesting against these grave injustices on a daily basis. The IDF plays a key role in perpetrating these injustices. One key example is the way in which the IDF supports the existence and furthers construction of Israeli settlements (illegal under international law and criticised by politicians of all the main parties in the UK) and settlers at the expense of the Palestine population in the West Bank.
The IDF is also responsible for the killing many thousands of Palestinian civilians, for example frequent attacks on what has been called the largest open air prison in the world – Gaza. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 Israeli Defense Forces killed 1400 Palestinians in Gaza, including around 350 children, and there is much evidence that the IDF used white phosphorus on civilian populations in the attacks, again illegal under international law. These crimes have been once again perpetrated with impunity during last year's attacks on Gaza. Last week the IDF again showed its true character when, as reported by human rights agencies in the area, soldiers used a 17-year old Palestinian boy as a human shield while firing shots at Palestinian protestors in Abu Dis in the West Bank.
The Jewish National Fund has been one of the principal bodies responsible for dispossessing Palestinians from their lands, and preventing them from returning (e.g. by planting forests and building parks over the ruins of Palestinian villages). JNF land (currently 13% of Israel's land) can only be used by Jewish people, discriminating against all others who may want to live or work on the land. Such discriminatory land distribution policies based on "race" and ethnicity are illegal under international law. The JNF continues to play a key role in displacing Palestinians today, for example in its key role in the village of Al-Araqib, in the Negev, which has been destroyed over 40 times since 2010.
The JNF's charitable status as an environmental charity is a cruel facade and has been dismissed as 'greenwashing' of it's illegal and immoral activities by the Scottish Green Party, the Green Party (England and Wales) and Friends of the Earth who've all backed the campaign to have the JNF's charitable status revoked. Last year 68 Members of Parliament signed the Early Day Motion 1677 calling for their charitable status to be revoked. The Scottish Trade Union Congress annual conferences in 2012 and 2013 unanimously backed these calls. In March this year on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination an application was presented to the Charity Commission for England and Wales challenging the very legality of the JNF's charitable status.
We, the undersigned, oppose the charitable status of such institutions and will protest fundraising for such organisations wherever it occurs. Institutions that kill innocent civilians and are inherently discriminatory should be opposed; charity is inappropriate.
We call on the Jewish Society of St Andrews University and the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity to end their support for Friends of the IDF and the JNF. We call on St Andrews Golf Hotel to retract its support for these fundraising activities unless these two "charities" are not renounced by the organisers.
We further call on people of conscience and supporters of human rights to sign this statement, send a letter of protest to the St Andrews Golf Hotel, and join us at 7pm on Friday April 26th outside St Andrews Golf Hotel to protest fundraising for apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
Conference of Socialist Economists
Dundee University Action Palestine
Edinburgh Students for Justice in Palestine
Glasgow University Palestine Society
Justice for Palestine Aberdeen University
Robert Gordon University People & Planet Society
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Stop the JNF UK
Students for Palestinian Rights (Caledonian University)
Tayside Justice in Palestine
We are all Hana Shalabi Network
Members and Volunteers of the Lajee Centre, Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem
Boycott from Within
Blane Abercrombie - President-Elect, Students' Association of the University of the West of Scotland
James Ferns - Vice-President-Elect (Education), University of Strathclyde Students' Association
Dominique Üçbaş - Vice-President (Diversity & Advocacy), University of Strathclyde Students' Association
Carla Fyfe - President, Glasgow Caledonian University Students' Association
James McAsh- President, Edinburgh University Students' association
Sinead Wylie - Vice President (Wellbeing), Glasgow Caledonian University Students' Association
Nick Lowden - Vice President (Activities), Glasgow Caledonian University Students' Association
Neill Clark - Vice-President-Elect (Education), Glasgow Caledonian University Students' Association
Kirsty Haigh - Vice-President-Elect (Services), Edinburgh University Students' Association
Sarah Moffat - Women’s Liberation Convener, Edinburgh University Students’ Association; NUS Scotland Women’s Committee 13/14
Lucy Jane Drummond - Women's Officer, University of Stirling Students' Union; NUS National and Scotland Women's Committees 13/14
Paul Greene - President-Elect (Communications & Democracy), Robert Gordon University Students' Union
Iain MacKinnon - President-Elect, Dundee University Students' Association
Lani Baird - President, Aberdeen College Students' Association, NUS Scotland & UK LGBT Committee (FE Rep 2011-13), NUS UK Womens Committee (FE Rep - Elect 2013-14), NUS Scotland LGBT Officer - Elect (2013-14)
Gary Paterson - MSYP-Elect for Glasgow Kelvin, Scottish Youth Parliament; Scottish Executive Committee-Elect (Communities Campaign Convener), NUS Scotland
Aurora Adams - International Students Officer, NUS Scotland
Ronnie Barkan - Israeli Boycott from Within activist.
Leehee Rothschild - Tel Aviv University student, activist, and conscientious objector.
Dr Kobi Snitz - Weisman Institute (Israel)
Noa Shaindlinger - Israeli activist.
Ofer Neiman - Israeli activist/journalist.
Gregory Molev - Israeli activist.
Shir Hever - Israeli authour and Phd Candidate at Freie Univiversiteat, Berlin.
Statement from Scottish Jews for a Just Peace:
We are deeply saddened and concerned that St Andrews Jewish society has been persuaded to use its charity ball to raise money for the Jewish National Fund and Friends of the Israel Defence Forces. The JNF takes over Palestinian land – including homes of Palestinian refugees and land in the occupied territories – and will not lease or sell land to non-Jews. And FIDF gives solidarity to an army whose attacks on Palestinian civilians have become increasingly persistent, violent and brazen. We urge everyone of conscience, Jew and non-Jew, not to go to this event. St Andrews Jewish Society claims to be friendly, welcoming and non-political. We ask it to live up to that description.
'That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary' Rabbi Hillel (1st Century BCE)