Now is the time to speak

Now is the time to speak – not later.

In the perpetual present tense of so much reporting, today’s violence began today. But it didn’t.

Today’s violence began 75 years ago, when Israel occupied Palestine and dispossessed its people. The nationalist project of Zionism rests upon rounds of increasing structural and military violence. Palestinians resist, as occupied people are legally entitled to do (although no one, nowhere, has a ‘right’ to unlimited violence). That’s the dynamic: the occupier holds the power and has the choices, while the occupied people resist. A new generation of Palestinian youth is stepping up its resistance just as Israel’s far right, religio-nationalist government is stepping up its aggression.

On 26 January Israel attacked the tiny, dense refugee camp of Jenin, killing ten people. Then a Palestinian opened fire in a settlement (built on land captured in 1967, in occupied East Jerusalem), killing seven people. The Palestinian was quickly killed, while the Israeli military forces walked away from their killings; confident of their impunity.

Today we say –

1. We seek a solution anchored in law and human rights. Neither Palestinians nor Jews will be free or healthy until this illegal occupation is replaced by a decent, dignified society where all people enjoy their rights.

2. Do not ask everyone to take one step back, because occupier and occupied are not two parties with equal responsibilities. We urge our government to actively support the International Court of Justice, whose job it is to assign responsibility for the disastrous violence which is integral to Israel’s occupation.

3. We grieve for those who have been killed. We call on our government to act in support of the laws and treaties it signs in our names. Act as we are obliged to act, to protect the occupied people and preserve the safety of civilians everywhere.

4. A cessation of violence is not the same as a solution. We urge, we plead with our government to speak and act in a principled, unexceptional, rights-based manner in Palestine so that real justice can be brought nearer without any need for more violence. We are not powerless; we are just inexcusably timid.

5. We urge our Jewish community and institutions to roundly disavow Israel’s government, which gives power to Kahanists, outright fascists and racists. They will push the occupation to new lows in all of our names.

Now is the time to speak—not later, when this has gone any further.

Alternative Jewish Voices of Aotearoa

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