[Boycott - Other News]
Charities wage war on Israel
Bernard Josephs and Rachel Fletcher, Jewish Chronicle
8 June 2007
A number of campaigns to discredit Israel’s policies in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem have been launched by two of the UK’s biggest international charities.
In a document entitled Lifelines, Christian Aid has called on supporters to write to Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and her Irish opposite number Dermot Ahern to use their influence “to build bridges, not walls, in the Middle East”.
Israel has been applying the agreement — which gives it good preferential access to European markets — illegally to goods produced in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The suggested wording of the letter describes the barrier as being “not only a symbol of the current impasse in the Middle East but also having a hugely damaging impact on Palestinian livelihoods”.
While Israel had “every right to defend itself from attack”, the route of the barrier could “not be justified in the name of security”. It was annexing Palestinian land for Israeli settlements, said the charity.
The letters were to be accompanied with a poster showing the wall and signed by church members.
Christian Aid also urged its members to write to their MEPs asking them to use their influence to ensure human rights were not being violated under the EU’s trading partnerships with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“Israel has been applying the agreement — which gives it good preferential access to European markets — illegally to goods produced in the occupied Palestinian territories,” it said. “Both Israel and the Palestine Authority are systematically violating their agreements with the EU.”
Christian Aid’s partner organisation for the Lifelines project is the Parents’ Circle, a group of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians working for reconciliation.
One father, Rami Elhanan, whose 14-year-old daughter Smadar was killed by a suicide bomb in 1997, says: “Standing aside is a crime.”
Lifelines was distributed this week together with a second Christian Aid document on the Middle East — Israel and Palestine: A Question of Viability.
Its author, the charity’s Middle East specialist William Bell, told a meeting chaired by Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow that both sides need an end to the occupation. There was a “moral, humanitarian and legal imperative to end the stalemate”, he said.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International’s latest report about Palestinian life under occupation, launched this week, challenges Israel’s “stringent restrictions” as “disproportionate, discriminatory... and in order to benefit the Israeli settlers whose presence in the occupied West Bank violates international law”.
The 47-page report, Enduring Occupation — Palestinians Under Siege in the West Bank, was launched at Amnesty in London with an address by Sir Geoffrey Bindman, founder of the radical law firm, Bindman and Partners.
Addressing nearly 200 people at the launch, Sir Geoffrey said that while occupation can be legal on a temporary basis, it “hardly seems fair to argue it remains lawful” 40 years on.
He added: “I think there is something that could be called genocide as a practical matter. It would be very difficult to get that view adopted to a political level. It certainly seems to me a reasonable inference if you put together all the policies. In terms of a campaigning device it might be very useful.”
He later told the JC that although he did not believe Israeli governmental policy was genocidal, “I have heard comments, made by some Israelis, which suggest there are some people in Israel who would like to see the elimination of the Palestinian people.”
A new pack from Christian Aid to end the 40-year occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
Lifelines (PDF) (1.4Mb)
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