Resistance is not terror

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has issued a military order which designates six leading Palestinian legal and human rights groups as “terrorist” organisations. The government of Israel has declined to back its orders with evidence.

The order criminalises lawyers who provide legal aid, and observers who inform the world of human rights abuses: Addameer,  Al-HaqPalestine branch of Defence of Children International, Union of Agricultural Work CommitteesUnion of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Bisan Center for Research & Development. 

On the websites of the targeted organisations, you will learn about incarcerations, documented human rights violations, the imprisonment of children, aid to farmers in the West Bank. To prevent the sharing of such information, the Israeli government will now fight these activities as if they were fighting terrorists. 

Leading global human rights organisations have objected in the strongest terms. They clearly state that they will continue to work with their Palestinian colleagues:  Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call it “an attack on the human rights movement” while B’Tselem calls it “a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work.”

Alternative Jewish Voices calls this military order the contemptible act of an authoritarian.  This order would jeopardise the funding which creates factual information about Palestinian life under Israel’s occupation.  The order poses a new level of violent threat to the defenders of human and legal rights.  If we do not defuse that threat internationally, it will set a frightening precedent for all of the people who stand up to authoritarians around the world.

Israel’s military order extends its pattern of criminalising any resistance to its regime of occupation, de facto annexation and legislated apartheid.

Members of Israel’s government refer to boycotts – the non-violent exercise of economic choice – as economic terrorism.  Israel’s President called Ben and Jerry’s decision not to sell ice cream on occupied land as “a new kind of terrorism.”  Around the same time, Israel confiscated 23 tons of chocolate bars destined for Gaza with the explanation, “We will continue to hunt down networks that fund terror.” 

There seems to be no form of resistance that Israel won’t categorise as terroristic.  This new military order will criminalise even the use of the law.  In occupied Palestine, it appears that resistance will be treated as terror, period.

We urge the government of Aotearoa-New Zealand to take the recent advice of Ban Ki Moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations, and change our yawning diplomatic stance:

“a powerful state is controlling another people through an open-ended occupation, settling its own people on the land in violation of international law and enforcing a legal regime of institutionalised discrimination… What has become increasingly clear in recent years is Israel’s intent to maintain its structural domination and oppression of the Palestinian people through indefinite occupation… resulting in a situation that arguably constitutes apartheid. It is now time for the international community to recognise and confront the consequences of Israel’s policies and actions in this regard.”

When will we defend the people who defend the law and human rights?

Alternative Jewish Voices  

October 26, 2021

Letter to the Prime Minister concerning Gaza and Covid-19 from Wellington Palestine and Alternative Jewish Voices

We are pleased to work with Justice for Palestine on this urgent letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

To the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Dear Prime Minister,

An appeal to intervene on behalf of the people of Gaza.

While Aotearoa New Zealand has been patiently managing the long tail of our second COVID-19 outbreak, the occupied Gaza Strip first identified community transmission of COVID-19 on August 24.  Today there are more than 1200 cases in its crowded cities and refugee camps.

We, the citizens of Aotearoa NZ, are failing a community in immediate danger. Why is Gaza our responsibility?  

The UN General Assembly and Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the International Committees of the Red Cross, human rights and legal NGOs all agree that International Humanitarian Law and the laws of occupation apply in full throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Occupied people are legally protected people.  The duty of states like New Zealand, and one of the first duties of the occupying power, Israel, is to uphold the rights of the occupied people of Palestine. 

Gaza has been battered for a month, as Israel responds to individual acts of Gazan protest:

August 11, Israel closed the one entrance for goods into Gaza

August 13, they cut off fuel supplies.

August 16, they militarily closed Gaza’s fishing waters.  

From August 17, Gaza had insufficient electricity to pump water into Gazan homes.

On August 18, Gaza’s only power plant shut down for lack of fuel so that Gazans have had only a few hours of electricity each day.  

On August 19, sewage treatment had to cease without electricity. 

Israel began bombing Gaza on August 6, and they sustained the bombardment night after night. 

S Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine and an associate professor of law noted this week,   “Israel remains the occupying power, and international law – including Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – strictly forbids the use of collective punishment by the occupier.”

On August 24 COVID-19 was found in the community of Gaza. In the same week that Israel reported its highest-ever use of electricity for air conditioning to combat a heat wave with temperatures up to 48C, Gazans lacked electricity to refrigerate food during their lockdown. Hamas and Israel have now agreed to resume some fuel shipments. 

The International Crisis Group is warning that “A major outbreak in Gaza would likely be disastrous.”  It is the responsibility of the occupying power to ensure Gazans’ equitable access to quality health care, but blockaded Gaza has been structurally deprived of the resources to fight COVID-19.  S Michael Lynk adds, “This blockade has no meaningful security rationale. It inflicts great misery on the two million civilians in Gaza, while imposing little harm on any security targets.”

COVID-19 makes this long-standing misery into an immediate threat.

We, New Zealanders of Muslim, Jewish and other identities, urge our government to uphold the laws and conventions that it signs in our names.   If we want to live in a world of laws and human dignity, we must show up together when law and dignity are violated.

Today,  we call on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, to please fulfil our obligations to protect the occupied people of Palestine and restore their equal human rights — especially their urgent right to medical care and COVID-related supplies.  Let New Zealand join the 138 states that already recognize the State of Palestine, and let us speak up for a just solution to the military occupation of Palestine, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Your sincerely,

Marilyn Garson (Alternative Jewish Voices) and

Neil Ballantyne (Wellington Palestine)

Also signed by these Alternative Jewish Voices: Fred Albert, Jeremy Rose, David Weinstein, Sarah Cole, Marilyn Garson, Asher Goldman, Sue Berman and Prue Hyman

http://ajv.org.nz

Also signed on behalf of Wellington Palestine by Laura Agel, Nadia Abu-Shanab, Gill Bailey, Neil Ballantyne, Carl Bradley, Biddy Bunzl, Shahd El-Matary, James Fraser, Jenny Hawes, John Hobbs, Gillian Marie, Jeanie McCafferty, Ben Peterson, M. J. Pittaway, Aida Tavassoli, Adri van Lith, Kate Slankard-Stone and Samira Zaiton.

http://wellingtonpalestine.nz

CONTACT

Marilyn Garson e: shma.koleinu.nz@gmail.com

Neil Ballantyne e: neil.ballantyne@wellingtonpalestine.nz

J-LINK Progressive Jews against annexation

J-Link in Aotearoa New Zealand – silence in Wellington.

Jews are uniting against Israel’s proposed illegal annexation of Palestinian.  Zionist and non-Zionist Jewish organisations agree.

The Union for Reform Judaism, Union for Progressive Judaism, J Street, T’ruah, and countless other organisations have come out against annexation.  Over 100  scholars of public international law wrote that it “would constitute a flagrant violation of bedrock rules of international law.”  Over 400 Jewish and Israel studies academics denounced it as “apartheid” and a “crime against humanity.” 

J-LINK is an international network of Progressive Jewish organisations.  J-LINK’s opposition to annexation represents 50 organisational signatories from 17 countries.

J-LINK’s Aotearoa signatories (including members of Sh’ma Kolenu, Dayenu, and individual New Zealand Jews) requested a meeting with the Ambassador of Israel to object to Israel’s impending annexation of West Bank land.

Ambassador Gerberg refused to meet, not once but three times. 

J-LINK signatory groups in other countries have expressed their opposition to annexation directly to  Ambassadors / Consuls General in more than 15 meetings. 

Not in Wellington.  Silence here.

Therefore, we can only deduce Israeli Ambassador Gerberg’s response from his reply to Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters’ statement  expressing our government serious concern about annexation. 

In response, Ambassador Gerberg  referred to the “significant opportunity … embedded in President Trump’s peace initiative.”

Ambassador Gerberg, annexation is no opportunity.  It is a flagrant violation of law and a further deprivation of Palestinian human and political rights.

Marilyn Garson for members of Sh’ma Koleinu

June 29, 2020