Saturday, 24 January 2009

Israeli Peace Groups

by Ernest Newman

These posters link to a Jewish Voice for Peace petition to US president Obama, seeking an end to US support for Israeli violations of human rights, and calling for a just peace between Israel and Palestine.

Here is their mission statement:

Jewish Voice for Peace is a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights. We support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination.

We seek:

• A U.S. foreign policy based on promoting peace, democracy, human rights, and respect 
for international law

• An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem

• A resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem consistent with international law and equity

• An end to all violence against civilians

• Peace among the peoples of the Middle East

We are among the many American Jews who say to the U.S. and Israeli governments: "Not in our names!"

JVP supports peace activists in Palestine and Israel, and works in broad coalition with other Jewish, Arab-American, faith-based, peace and social justice organizations.


Jewish Voice for Peace calls for a U.S. foreign policy that promotes democracy and human rights.  The United States must stop supporting repressive policies in Israel and elsewhere. 

U.S. military aid to countries in the Middle East must be based on rigorous enforcement of the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts, which mandate that military aid may be used for only defensive purposes within the recipient country's borders, and that aid may not be delivered to countries that abuse human rights. 

Under these guidelines, U.S. military aid to Israel must be suspended until the occupation ends, since the occupation itself is in violation of these guidelines. Military aid allows Israel to avoid making serious efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as conflicts with its other neighbors. It enables the occupation, contributes to the devastation of Palestinian society and fosters the increasing militarization of Israeli society.

JVP also calls for suspension of military aid to other human rights abusers and occupiers in the Middle East. This aid helps prop up autocratic and repressive regimes, promotes violations of human rights and international law, obstructs democratic movements, prolongs the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and fosters militarism and violence at home and abroad.


Israelis and Palestinians have the right to security, sovereignty, and self-determination within political entities of their own choosing. 

Israel must end its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, completely withdraw from these Occupied Territories and relinquish all its settlements, military outposts and by-pass roads. 

Jerusalem has to be shared in a manner that reflects its spiritual, economic, and political importance to both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as to all Jews, Muslims and Christians.

The plight of Palestinian refugees needs to be resolved equitably and in a manner that promotes peace and is consistent with international law.

Within the framework of an equitable agreement, the refugees should have a role in determining their future, whether pursuing return, resettlement, or financial compensation. Israel should recognize its share of responsibility for the ongoing refugee crisis and for its resolution. 

The parties must equitably distribute water and other natural resources. 

Diplomatic negotiations between the two parties must be held unconditionally. Countries other than the U.S. should be involved in peace negotiations. An international peacekeeping force should be established to protect all civilians.


All people of the Middle East deserve the right to democratic participation and equality within their societies, regardless of religion, ethnicity, culture, national origin, language, race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or other status. 

Israel must cease its use of military force against Palestinian civilians, including attacks involving American-supplied F-16s and Apache helicopters.

Moreover, Israel must stop land seizures; destruction of homes, infrastructure, orchards and farms; arbitrary arrests and imprisonment; torture; assassinations; expulsions; curfews; travel restrictions; abuse at checkpoints; raids; collective punishment; and other violations of human rights. 

Palestinians must stop suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians.

The international community must support Palestinian efforts to promote democracy and human rights, while understanding that this aim cannot be fully achieved under occupation. 

Racism and bigotry cannot be tolerated, whether in the U.S. or abroad, whether against Arabs or against Jews.

(Jewish Voice for Peace)

Their website includes information and support for imprisoned Israeli youth resisting the IDF draft:

While I'm not real big on petitions as the most viable means of political struggle, heh, it only takes a second to sign one, and it can't hurt, right?

But I just wanted to emphasize that there is a dedicated peace movement in Israel that people should be aware of, and that anything we can do to support and coordinate with them would probably be a good thing.

Even though they are themselves Israeli, some of these groups are now starting to call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, as was done against apartheid South Africa, which is probably the only material way to really apply sufficient pressure on Israel to change it's policies and negotiate a just peace, short of a complete reversal of US foreign policy.

If Obama is not willing or able to withdraw the present automatic US veto in the UN against any resolutions for action against Israel, and to completely cut off, or apply stringent conditions for, the huge money and weapons the US provides Israel, then international boycott seems the only other option.

I propose that people should join the boycott movement now rather than waiting to see what Obama does. That extra pressure on him won't hurt either, and may prove necessary:

Another project, which provides video cameras to Palestinians, to document their treatment by the IDF and settlers on a day to day basis, has produced some poignant and compelling evidence, for anyone who needs convincing that Palestinians have legitimate grievances against Israel that must be resolved for justice and peace in the Middle East:

A blog reporting on the Israeli peace movement:

One of many other Jewish peace groups organizing in Israel

I'd also like to say that I offer this information not to attempt to negate support for Palestinian peace groups, or recognition of Hamas, as the present duly elected representative of Palestinian interests.

Indeed, it is worth noting that most of the Israeli peace groups recognize Hamas, and demand an end to the US and Israeli isolation of Hamas, refusal to talk with them, and attempts to assassinate their leadership, which have served only to harden the line and practice of Hamas and posed an obstacle to resolution of the conflict.

But for those who wish to temper support for Hamas, to avoid seeming to also offer absolute, unqualified, unquestioning support for some of the more hateful rhetoric emanating from some elements of that movement, or the rocket and suicide bomber attacks, it seems that contact with the Israeli peace groups could be a big help, since they are likely to be very careful in that regard, and in finding principled, effective ways to provide direct, on the ground support and relief for the Palestinian cause.

They have been working for many years, often at great personal risk and danger, to establish the kind of links with the Palestinian people to provide such relief, and that are necessary for eventual resolution, as well as to counter the barrage of propaganda emanating from the Israeli government, to "justify" it's policies.

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1 comment:

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