Monday, 31 May 2010

Court Orders and Military Action

On Thursday I received a message via a fellow 2007 Sabeel-er that saddened me. The Tent of Nations, where we'd spent a day clearing rocks amongst their community, had that day received not one but nine demolition orders from the Israeli government. These orders are to remove: tents, animal shelters, a metal roof in front of two older houses, restrooms (shelters), water cistern, metal container and two underground renovated cave structures.

Daoud, who received the orders, said:
"The demolition orders were written in Hebrew and I refused to sign them. We have only 3 days to react against those demolition orders. The timing for delivering the demolition orders were plant properly and purposefully on Thursday, in order to make it difficult for us to try and stop the orders through the Israeli court within 3 days, because of the Jewish weekend (Friday and Saturday). The idea is to make it impossible for us to act quickly. I have contacted our Lawyer and he will write an objection and send it to the military court on Sunday morning. We hope to get a paper from the court through our Lawyer on Sunday morning to stop the demolition orders. We would like to ask you to be prepared and alert for actions, if anything might happen."

It's now Monday (I've been away since receiving the e-mail) and I'm not sure what's happened. But this community has already been through so much - fighting the encroaching Israeli settlement upon land that has belonged to their family for generations. These buildings which the government want demolished provide a base for a centre that provides education and support for Palestinian young people as well as informing people from all over the world about the political situation. They're not a threat - they're simply trying to keep what is rightfully theirs.

Listening to the Nassar family's story. 
(Under one of the shelters whose demolition has been ordered.)

'People Building Love'

While thinking about this post while at the gym this morning, I overheard a news bulletin mentioning Israeli military action. A flotilla bringing aid to Gaza has been attacked and at least 10 activists (peaceful, unarmed activists) have been killed. It's an outrageous piece of unprovoked military action that is being widely condemned internationally. Friends of mine around the world are concerned for people they know who were on board the ship - these are innocent people trying to ensure that people can enjoy their human rights. Along the way they've lost their fundamental right to life. Currently, the Guardian are running a live blog as events unfold...

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Palestine and the Methodist Conference

It's been too's too hard sometimes to keep up with the myriad news reports coming out of Israel-Palestine.

The Methodist Church in Britain has long supported the Palestinian community, regularly passing resolutions at its annual Conference. This year was no different, yesterday saw two Notices of Motion adopted on the subject.

Notice of Motion 210: Supporting the work of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

"The Methodist Conference, recognising the need for peace and justice for all groups in Palestine and Israel and noting President Obama’s statement in Cairo about the “intolerable” suffering of Palestinians,
(i) restates its opposition to violence by all groups and its opposition to the continuing military occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territories (condemned in UN Resolution 242), and noting the many Israelis who work for peace and justice at considerable personal cost especially Jeff Halper, a Jewish American, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006;
(ii) commends the work of ICAHD who work to prevent the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes by Israel and help in rebuilding homes destroyed by Israeli forces; and
(iii) encourages Methodists to find out about the practical and prophetic work of ICAHD working for a just and sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians."

Secondly, a proposal to establish a Working Group in order to "bring to Conference 2010, a statement of the Methodist Church’s position on Israel/Palestine, taking into account past resolutions of Conference and international law".

On a personal level, such actions by the Conference were reassuring following the revelation a few weeks ago that the Israeli Ministry of Tourism had been given an exhibition slot at the Conference. Once this matter had been brought to the attention of those organising Conference (and the fact that it contradicted the spirit the church has had towards Palestinians in recent years), the slot was rescinded. A further Notice of Motion was passed to ensure that in future "only those organisations with strong Methodist links, and those whose policies are not inconsistent with Methodist policies or Statements, be invited to exhibit".

(Courtesy of the Daily Record for July 8th)

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A summary of events

If you don't understand the major ins and outs of the Gaza conflict, or the situation in Israel/Palestine in general, today's Guardian has a great article that goes into various aspects of it.

The bonus is that it's written by Avi Shlaim, a professor of international relations at Oxford and an Israeli.

'How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe'


Since the weekend, I've been having the most amazing e-mail dialogue with a total stranger, thanks to the wonders of the internet.

Having posted my protest photos on flickr on Sunday, I received a comment on one of them from an Israeli girl in Haifa, who asked how I had become so interested in the Palestinian situation. It wasn't a confrontational comment, simply a genuine enquiry, so I replied and every day this week has seen a continuation of the conversation. It's not angry or attacking, just two people sharing their thoughts regarding a conflict that they don't agree with, but for different reasons.

I'm not going to say much (because I have other plans for this dialogue in the future and I've not asked her permission to show the messages in full), but I just wanted to share with you a few of her comments that have really got me thinking.

Firstly, challenging my belief in pacifism:
"I wish I had the privilege to be a pacifist. I can't. For every fact that you will raise, I have a thousand counter backs. That only shows you that both sides are right- Israeli and Palestinians. There is not only one truth as there is not only one solution."

Secondly, an interesting philosophical dilemma:
"Now i wish to ask you a question. Is there a difference between a situation with the same result, but with different intentions? When a terror bomber explodes himself on a bus wishing to kill many people, including children, or when a soldiar wishing to kill someone with blood on his hand mistakenly kills a child, does it count that the first guy wished for it and the second one didn't?"

I've replied to both these comments with my own views and feelings, but philosophically, it's hard. Pacifism is an idealistic belief which hasn't yet seen any success in political circles, as many years of studying history has taught me. Similarly, I believe that all killing is wrong, but that God will judge those who kill in the end. But accidents do happen, and I have sympathy for soldiers who kill civillians unintentionally. I have even more sympathy for soldiers forced to be in the military, like those in Israel on their compulsory military service.

The bottom line is that I'm really grateful that this person has got in touch with me and is leading me into a fascinating and challenging discussion about something that I am hugely passionate about. And I'm even more grateful that it's happening in a peaceful and non-confrontational way.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

And I need you to start small in...Palestine

This is a Christmas Poem written by one of my colleagues for our office Christmas service. I was really moved by it at the time (especially as the was an image of the nativity against the background of the Wall on the screen as he read it) and asked for a copy - not realising he had written it himself. I asked him for a copy and got it when I came back to work yesterday.

And the Father said to Jesus…

I’m having a re-think, I need to reorganise,
So I need you to be flexible as part of that exercise.
Don’t worry if you feel you’re not fully skilled
Personnel provide training, it’s part of the deal.

It’s a big job of course, it’s about life and death.
It will mean incarnation among those who have breath -
In Iraq and the Congo, as well as Come Dancers,
Sublime, ridiculous; life’s poorest, financiers.
They all have their life, yet will all die in time,
And I need you to start small in - Palestine.

It’s a big job of course, it’s about saving the earth,
From itself, from each other; new values, new worth,
Where there’s love for each other, where peace will reign;
There’ll be justice for all, even joy through the pain.
Where all work together, people cease saying ‘mine’,
And the best place to start work is in – Palestine.

It’s a big job of course, and it must involve Hope,
If it works as expected, not sure how you’ll cope.
I won’t leave you alone, watch out for the dove!
But in order to save them, it needs demonstrable love -
Beyond anything, anywhere, in the annals of time,
And the best place to show hope is in – Palestine.

It’s a fixed term contract, with negotiable wages
Mary’s expecting you, as are the three sages.
You’ll start work in a manger, but rise to Team Leader.
And as for your targets, we’ll review those next Easter.

Dec 2008

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Glimpses of the demo

Just a few of my favourite images from today. I have a particular thing for taking photos of signs I like.

The rest of them are here.

Standing Up to be Counted

Today thousands of people marched from Embankment to Trafalgar Square showing their support of Palestine, and demanding a response from the international community to the violence in Gaza.

As I write, media reports are concentrating on arrests made at the end of a subsequent protest at the Israeli Embassy and are putting the number of people at the march at around 6,000. In fact, the police this afternoon estimated it at 50,000 - I know, I heard it announced in Trafalgar Square, where I stood in the freezing cold to show my solidarity.

It's highly likely that today's demonstration was actually the largest ever to take place in the UK in support of Palestine. It was an eclectic mix of the Stop the War Coalition; Islamic groups; Rabbis for Peace; Socialist Workers and Christian Groups. There were families with small children as well as a diverse range of races. (See the adjacent photo of child's placard.) It was peaceful and people were cheerful.

To hear on my return home that Israeli ground troops have entered Gaza was rather galling.

At the same time, I've also discovered a set of three Gaza related cartoons on
Asbo Jesus- this is my favourite:

The praying for peace continues.