"The failure of the UK Government, however, does not stop Scottish institutions, local authorities and others from taking inspiration from across the sea. Dublin City Council earlier this month endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and decided to stop business with Hewlett Packard until it stops providing services and technology to the Israeli army that maintains Israel’s military occupation and siege of Gaza, and the biometric technology that enables the Israeli Government to control and enforce its system of racial segregation against Palestinians. Is this the time for Scottish local authorities to divest their pension funds from Israeli apartheid? We count on the people to help us make history the right way, and truly make apartheid history."
Monday 23rd April 2018
SINCE I had my first meetings with Western politicians, I have been told that if only Palestinians would opt for non-violent methods they would support us. Now, especially in the light of the popular Great Return Marches in Gaza, where is this promised support?
The politicians’ argument clearly bypasses the fact that since the beginning of our struggle against colonial occupation, at the time of British rule, we have used non- violent methods.
From the world’s longest general strike lasting six months in 1936, to civil disobedience, boycotts and tax strikes, to the protests during the First Intifada to the anti-Wall demonstrations and now the tens of thousands that have been joining the Great Return March.
The incredible bravery and determination of the people in Gaza – 80 per cent of them refugees – to go in front of Israeli snipers, who are trained and ordered to kill them at sight, should move people of conscience across the world, including politicians, to stand up in solidarity.
2018 is a crucial moment in the history of the Palestinian struggle for justice, freedom and equality.
Seventy years after the start of the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic), which meant the ethnic cleansing of over half of the Palestinian people from their homes as part of Israel’s establishment, Israel is determined to liquidate the Palestinian cause.
The White House recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the announced shift of the US embassy there, in violation of all international norms and treaties, has been the first step.
At the same time, Israel has intensified the persecution of Palestinians in Jerusalem: more home demolitions, more arrests, increasing militarisation of the Old City and Al Aqsa Mosque and ubiquitous police presence and checkpoints, all accompanied by plans for between 14,000 and 300,000 new illegal settlement housing units in Jerusalem.
The criminal and wilful shooting by Israeli military of unarmed civilians taking part in the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip, now in its fourth week, has so far cost 33 people their lives. More than 2,430 have been injured and the numbers are rising daily.
This has been preceded by the US administration’s decision to withhold funds from UNWRA, the UN agency providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees.
After a decade of the brutal siege of Gaza – or what Robert Piper, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, calls an “extraordinarily inhuman and unjust process of strangling gradually two million civilians in Gaza that really pose a threat to nobody” – the UN expects Gaza to be “unliveable” by 2020.
In the West Bank, settlement construction is equally booming while new roads and tunnels aim to finalise the infrastructure that will close off Palestinians in isolated cantons and the Gaza Strip – reduced to 13 per cent of their ancestral homeland and surrounded by apartheid walls.
To stop our continued protests along the wall and checkpoints against this mass-scale dispossession, arrests are steeply rising, with new raids and arrests of between ten and 20 people almost every night.
It is time for the world to stop standing in implicit or explicit complicity with Israeli apartheid and to join us in nonviolent action by taking up the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanction until Israel respects international law and human rights.
The only morally right thing for the UK Government to do is to at the very least stop its weapons exports to Israel and impose a military embargo, as happened after South Africa’s apartheid regime massacred protestors at Sharpeville.
Instead, Theresa May’s government is preparing the first ever state visit of a member of the royal family to Israel. This risks the UK going into the annals, for the second time in history, as being among the last and staunchest supporters of apartheid.
The failure of the UK Government, however, does not stop Scottish institutions, local authorities and others from taking inspiration from across the sea. Dublin City Council earlier this month endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and decided to stop business with Hewlett Packard until it stops providing services and technology to the Israeli army that maintains Israel’s military occupation and siege of Gaza, and the biometric technology that enables the Israeli Government to control and enforce its system of racial segregation against Palestinians.
Is this the time for Scottish local authorities to divest their pension funds from Israeli apartheid?
We count on the people to help us make history the right way, and truly make apartheid history.
23 April 2018
Jamal Juma’ was born in Jerusalem and attended Birzeit University, where he became politically active. Since the first Intifada, he has focused on grassroots activism. Since 2002 he has been the co-ordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and since 2012 the coordinator of the Land Defence Coalition, a network of Palestinian grassroots movements. He is a secretariat member of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee.
The article by an important Palestinian voice appealing to Scottish civil society stimulated many letters to the editor and a selection were published in the Tuesday (April 24th) edition:
WELL done to The National for publishing Jamal Juma’s piece on Palestine (Why the time is right for action to help Palestine, April 23). Juma’ provides a rarely seen and heard Palestinian perspective on the Great March of Return that has been taking place in Gaza since March 30.
If anyone requires further reminder of the barbaric policies of the Israeli state towards unarmed Palestinian protesters, Medecins Sans Frontieres has revealed the extent of the devastating bullet woundings inflicted on large numbers of the thousands of injured Palestinians in Gaza, which are described as unusually severe and complex to treat, with some exit wounds as large as a fist. Many will live with permanent disability. These are besides some 40 shot and murdered by Israeli snipers in the last few weeks.
Juma’ calls for practical actions in Scotland such as a military embargo or such as those taken by Dublin City Council to endorse the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign. We can start here with our own local authorities and tell their pensions committees that it’s time to divest from companies that collude in these massacres.
Helen Skulina, Edinburgh
IT’S hardly surprising that the ranks of those fighting for justice for the Palestinian people have a plentiful supply of Irish citizens and descendants whose awareness of their own historic colonisation has so much in common with the brutality and mass murder meted out to the Palestinian people. So no-one should be surprised by Dublin City Council’s endorsement of BDS, and the proposal that the Israeli ambassador be expelled for the recent bout of carnage inflicted on the Palestinian people, whose only “crime” is to demand their basic human rights.
Racism in any form, from whatever source, is repugnant. And whether it’s the London Daily Sketch’s 19th-century portrayal of Irish people as ape-like creatures, or the Israeli Government’s pretence of Palestinian non-existence, the stench from both cauldrons serves the same purpose: to make crime, however brutal, seem less in the eyes of onlookers who might otherwise come to the rescue.
Arrest without charge or trial, indefinite imprisonment, child-snatching at night followed by ill-treatment, mass killing, travel restrictions, land grabs, sniper fire, assassinations – with all victims Palestinian – will end a lot sooner if more people stand up and demand it.
Lawrence McDonald, Scottish Borders
WE were very pleased to see the call for support of the Palestinians by Jamal Juma’ – especially since, in general, there has been a lack of media coverage of both the growing levels of Israeli aggression and the Palestinians’ inspiring mass movement of peaceful resistance. Our only quibble would be with the article’s title – action to help Palestine is long overdue!
We write as Scottish Jews who believe that Zionism has been an appalling disaster for both Palestinians and Jews. We have been proud of the support for Palestinian rights shown by people in Scotland, but are concerned that this has made Scotland a special target for Israeli propagandists who seek to brand any criticism of Zionism as anti-Semitic. We want to make it absolutely clear that Israel does not represent Jews as a people and cannot speak in our name.
Palestinians have called on the world to break economic ties with Israel and with companies that support the Israeli Government. We hope that Scottish support for BDS will continue to grow, and that our elected representatives will not be cowed from backing this important action in support of human rights.
Sarah Glynn, Catherine Lyons, Liz Elkind, Alice Flebotte, Naomi Junnor, Leora Wadler, Jola Litwitz
ISRAEL is a state that relies on privilege to prop up its fundamental ideology of Zionism, which provides cover for ethnic cleansing to transform a land which was “Arab” into a Jewish state. “A Jewish state could not have arisen without a major displacement of Arab population”, as Israeli historian Benny Morris concluded. This inhuman process is a present-day reality that shames ever greater numbers of activists of all faiths and none into challenging the anti-human rights actions of those who represent us.
Support for the BDS campaign is a choice made by those of us who uphold human rights as a fundamental privilege for everyone and is an effective means of registering our offence to those who actively support the inhuman practices of the rogue state of Israel, whether Zionists or not.
Jerry Headley, North Berwick
YESTERDAY you published an article from Jamal Juma’, calling for action to help Palestine.
Marek Edelman, the great Polish Jewish war hero of the Warsaw Ghetto, in August 2002, published an open letter to the Palestinians of Gaza, written as one resistance fighter to another. He offered support and advice in their fight for freedom.
He was unequivocal and transparent on his anti-Zionist position, and matched words with deeds, refusing to “make Aliyah” and migrate to Palestine. He died in Poland in 2009.
Just a few days ago, by contrast, Carles Puigdemont, in the face of the deaths of peaceful protestors in the Gaza March of Return, tweeted explicit support for the State of Israel: “Congratulations Israel on the 70th anniversary of your independence. Your struggle against adversity and your spirit of self-sacrifice has gained our respect in Catalonia.”
His statement was met with howls of protest from members of his own party and the wider Catalan independence campaign, who clearly identify with the Palestinian freedom struggle. They realise that Puigdemont’s statement can only hurt their own movement.
Palestine and Catalan flags are commonly flown at Scottish Independence rallies. I’m not suggesting we drop solidarity with the Catalan cause because of one tweet from one man, president though he be. But it is long overdue to heed the call from Palestine for Scottish authorities at all levels for BDS of all goods and services to and from Israel.
As long ago as 2010, Alex Salmond demanded that we “end the diplomatic dance” with Israel. He said “You can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in.” Humza Yousaf in 2014 called for a bilateral arms embargo on Israel.
Last time I checked, we had six* local authorities with explicit BDS policies against Israeli goods or services, in protest against the crimes against humanity of the state of Israel. It is time to make that 32, plus the Scottish Government.
Palestine has asked for our support. We’ve stated our position, as a nation and as individuals. Let’s put our words into action.
Bill Mair, Dysart, Fife
*Four Scottish councils have supported the Palestinian call for BDS - West Dumbarton, Clackamannanshire, Stirling, Midlothian
There were a further three letters on Wednesday 25th April supporting the thrust of the article, together with a weak piece of pro-Israel apologetics from Banchory
CONGRATULATIONS to The National for publishing the facts on the non-violent nature of the Palestinians’ resistance to the oppression and apartheid imposed on them by the Israeli Occupation (Why the time is right for action to help Palestinians, April 23).
For far too long Unionist newspapers have simply parroted the version of events on the “conflict” put out by the Westminster Government instead of bothering to find out for themselves what is really going on. The reason being that if ordinary people get to know the truth of the horrors Palestinians experience on a daily basis, the demand for an end would become unstoppable – in the same way as the pressure by ordinary people for boycott, divestment and sanctions ended apartheid in South Africa.
Then what would happen to arms companies’ shares?
So well done to The National – make it the start of a trend.
TO stand with and fully support the Palestinian people, and ALL oppressed people, should be the duty of every government, not just the Scottish Government.
Are we to leave the Palestinians to stand alone, as they fight for their freedom and basic human rights in their own land?
We, as a country, as people of conscience, have a duty to build and implement effective and immediate solidarity with Palestine. As Desmond Tutu said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Dumfries)
THE Scottish Government should take a firm stance on Israel’s worryingly growing hostility towards Palestinians, recently emboldened by the US decision to move its embassy.
Although foreign policy it not a devolved matter, I’m sure our government could at least debate the issue to see what support can be given.
I’m sure the good people of Scotland are frustrated by the deafening silence of mainstream media on this issue, and we would be interested to hear our government’s view.
If all we can offer is our support, it would still bring hope to a seemingly hopeless situation.
They say that above the gates of Hell it reads: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”.
We should not see any human beings living in a Hell on Earth.