April 18, 2011

Australia - Slinging Mud at Marrickville for Defending Palestinian Human Rights

by Diane V. McLoughlin, April 18, 2011


According to Australia's, 'The Daily Telegraph', a city council in a town called Marrickville voted last December in favor of participating in the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign in support of Palestinian human rights. [1]

BDS - boycott - by civil society around the world, helped bring to a peaceful end South Africa's racist apartheid regime.  It is hoped BDS will hasten the end to Israel's illegal military occupation and takeover of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

Since the December vote in favor, Marrickville Council has been under severe pressure to reverse their vote.  It is stunning to note the high-level of political interference.  The Premier himself, Barry O'Farrell, has reportedly threatened to fire the entire council if they do not reverse themselves (although I would be surprised to learn if he actually had it in his power to do so.) [2]  In any event, the vote will apparently be revisted later today when council votes on what to boycott.

The New South Wales president of the Jewish Board of Deputies, Yair Miller, reportedly suggested that:  

 "The council should keep to what it was elected to do, take care of the interests of its ratepayers and not take sides in a foreign conflict." [1]

My impression of Australians as a whole is that they would not willingly sit on the fence when it comes to right and wrong - in foreign conflict, or anything else.  

The hypocrisy of the message that we 
'not take sides'  
is most devastingly captured by political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff:

Standing in stark contrast to the
don't-take-sides position is the following Resolution adopted by Independent Jewish Voices Canada:

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions:

BDS'Whereas there will be no lasting peace without implementation of international law, United Nations resolutions and respect for the human rights of both Palestinians and Jewish-Israelis, and

'Whereas the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed resolution 242 in November 1967, calling on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, which it had invaded and occupied in June 1967, and

'Whereas Israel has refused to implement resolution 242 and instead has illegally established Jewish-only settlements in these areas in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and

'Whereas Independent Jewish Voices is based on a strong commitment to social justice and universal human rights, and
'Whereas it is our view that the grave situation in the Middle East threatens the future of both Israelis and Palestinians as well as the stability of the whole region, and

'Whereas we support a negotiated peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and oppose attempts by the Israeli government to impose its own solutions on the Palestinians,

'Therefore be it resolved that Independent Jewish Voices -Canada will

'Work towards an end to military assaults and other acts of violence that target civilians;

'Demand that the Israeli Government immediately and permanently withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan and cease all discrimination against Arab Citizens in Israel.

'Call on the Canadian government to 1) cease its one-sided and uncritical support for Israel and 2) insist that Israel abide by international law in its relations with Palestinians.

'Support the Palestinian call for a campaign [of] boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and complies with the precepts of international law, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. ' [3]


While all the statements contained in the IJV resolution are true, it is also true that, due to the reluctance to report the whole truth on Israel by the mainstream press, many have no idea what the whole truth is.  For example, in recent days there have been many reports about the cold-blooded murder of a Jewish settler family in a village called Itamar in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  But what people in the West did not hear about was that due to constant violent attacks by Itamar settlers, the majority of the Palestinians of the nearby village of Yanun even briefly had to abandon their own homes in 2002. (They returned with the supportive presence of peace activists.) [3a]   

The 2002 catalogue of violence by Jewish settler extremists against Palestinians included:

'1. Repeatedly attacking people in their homes, throwing stones, shooting at windows and closed doors, terrifying young children and women.

'2. Attacking families on their farms. Here are a few examples of these brutal acts:

'a. In one of these attacks Galib Adel, 40 years old, was beaten brutally. He lost one of his eyes and had his leg broken, in addition to suffering several bruises. Atif Tawfiq, Rashad Saleem, and Inbisat Ahmad were also beaten in the attack.

'b. Moflih Adel was beaten severely and taken to the hospital unconscious.

'c. Gassan Abu Kaf, 38 years old, escaped murder and was shot in the leg.

'd. Ahmad Mahmoud, 80 years old, lost one of his eyes in a settler attack.

'e. Abdul Latif Yousif, the mayor of the Yanun Council, was beaten severely in an attack.

'f. Hani Hamdalla, 24 years old, was shot dead, while Fadi Fadil was injured in another attack by settlers.

'3. Killing hundreds of sheep using poisonous injections and live bullets.

'4. Blocking the main road to the village of Yanun.

'5. Spoiling the only natural source of water in the village.

'6. Burning down and destroying the only source of electricity, the electric generator that was donated by the Economic Development Group.

'7. Preventing farmers from getting to their farms and attacking them using fierce dogs and live bullets.

'8. Destroying the crops by ploughing the farmed land and burning crops that were harvested and ready to transport, as evidence of possession and control. At least three cases of burning have been recorded.

'9. In broad daylight, stealing olive trees that belong to local farmers.

'10. Imposing a seige around the natural pastures and preventing shepherds from getting to them.

'11. Preventing the relatives of the people of Yanun from visiting Yanun and shooting at the cars that go there, including the car of the mayor of Aqraba.

'12. Cutting off the main road from Aqraba to Nablus. This road, which was finished in 1935, is no longer safe to travel. [4]

Summing up pretty well the settler attitude toward Palestinians, when Palestinian farmers try to gain access to their fields:

 "You are dead people." [5]

               The following is my letter of support to Marrickville Council, dated April 16, 2011:


An appeal has gone out to express support for you in taking the moral high ground - voting
to divest from companies that profit from the oppression of the Palestinian people in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories, otherwise known as the West Bank.

I salute you, and appeal to you not to cave in to any form of political threats or blackmail. I would
share that the West Bank has been categorized as worse than Apartheid South Africa of before by those
who lived it and know what they are talking about.

The occupation by Israel of the West Bank, as well as the siege of Gaza I would add, are both crimes against humanity by any definition.

You are not alone in courageously standing for Palestinian human rights. This, from the British Quakers:

'The settlements and infrastructure on Palestinian land are protected by the Israeli government and military and prevent or restrict Palestinians access to their land, water supplies, education, health services and more.
Extensive settlement infrastructure divides up Palestinian land, creating obstacles to peace...'

Here, the Presbyterian Mission Network, public statement (2010):

'In response to a call to action from the Christians of the Holy Land, The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) [PC(USA) voted at its annual meeting to join the international boycott of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).'

Nov. 2010, TEEU Irish trade union:

'TEEU General President, Frank Keoghan, welcomed the motion saying: “It is an expression of the solidarity and empathy that members of the TEEU, and indeed all Irish people, feel for the suffering people of Palestine, that this motion received the unanimous support of our Conference.”

From a three million member-strong British trade union:

'"There are household names making profits on the backs of a war of oppression. Their hands are very dirty and we will demand that these companies verify their supplier," he said to multiple applause. '

Norway: government-run pension fund drops two Israeli firms involved in developing settlements, as reported in the Israeli daily, Haaretz.

You are not alone in your taking the moral high ground - far from it.

As with Apartheid South Africa, it is from the ground up that rejection of occupation comes - the established order only moves after the people so move.

I am, most sincerely and respectfully yours,
Diane V. McLoughlin, writer
[1]  Article (interesting study in slanted reporting):  'Marrickville Council faces $4 million bill for Israel boycott'; Simon Benson; April 14, 2011; The Daily Telegraph;   http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-nsw/marrickville-council-faces-4-million-bill-for-israel-bans/story-e6freuzi-1226038733018 ;
[2]  Article:  'Marrickville Council's Israel boycott wilts under politics'; Josephine Tovey; April 16, 2011; The Sydney Morning Herald;  http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/israel-boycott-wilts-under-politics-and-practicalities-20110415-1dhu6.html ;
[3]  Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Resolution; 'Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) > IJV Positions'; resolution adopted March 22, 2009; http://ijvcanada.org/ijv-vji-positions/ ;

[3a] Blog, 'Palestine Pal: Yanun surrounded by the occupation (and some Danish stuff)'; Harrison Healy;
Feb. 11, 2006;  http://palestinepal.blogspot.com/2006/02/yanun-surrounded-by-occupation-and.html ;
[4]  Report:  'Settlers Force Desertion of Yanun Village'; 
Settlement Report Vol. 12 No. 6 November-December 2002; Foundation For Middle East Peace;
http://www.fmep.org/reports/archive/vol.-12/no.-6/settlers-force-desertion-of-yanun-village ;

[5]  Article: 'It's the Pits'; Amira Hass; Haaretz; 25/10/02;
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/it-s-the-pits-1.30306 ;

[6]  Report: 'Separate and Unequal'; VII Nablus District, Yanun and Itamar; Dec. 19, 2010; Human Rights Watch;  http://www.hrw.org/en/node/95059/section/8

No comments:

Post a Comment