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January 28, 2008

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Hi Laila,
The Gush Shalom site has probably the best coverage of this event at http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1201433012
In addition I recommend reading these brief comments by Shulamit Aloni. [I run a Middle East News Service of hard-to-come-by material based on chiefly Israeli sources]
Sol Salbe
[Middle East News Service comments: About 1500 Israelis rallied to deliver vital supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip at Erez Crossing on 26 January. They were to deliver flour and cooking oil as well as candles and water filters and lots more staple items besides. As the report on the Gush Shalom site tells it, half the demonstrators were Jewish with the other half Arabs. One of the scheduled speakers, Shulamit Aloni, was unable to attend for medical reasons. Her speech was read by Teddy Katz who was kind enough to forward us a copy of her words.

For those unfamiliar with her, Shulamit Aloni, the grand old lady of Israeli dissent, is a former Palmach fighter, a laureate of the Israel prize and a former leader of Meretz. She served as Education Minister in Yitzhak Rabin’s government.]

Shulamit Aloni’s message at Erez Crossing

I am dismayed at not being able to be here today and demonstrate with you against the horror, perpetrated in our name, against a civilian population by a witless, merciless regime which is without scruples.

Sixty years ago we fought to create here an exemplary society; a state “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel”1. But there is no justice and no peace and even no freedom. Instead we have terror and fear generated by our acclaimed army, the one called a “defence force”, which for 40 years has been engaged in occupying, robbing, and the crushing of human rights. It has also been engaged in murder.

Our state does not have the death penalty but our army drops cluster bombs on civilians. People are “eliminated” with no evidence and no trial. Our hands are “clean”, for it all gets done from the air. In the process we murder children, old people and ordinary passers-by. Only others have “blood on their hands”.

In the West Bank we have turned every village and town into a detention camp. We have herded the entire population of the Gaza strip, 1.5 million men and women, inside a single gigantic corral. Then we gave them starvation and darkness.

The time has come to drop the Jewish self-righteousness and the nurturing of fears that are used as the excuse for what the army, settlers and politicians are doing, as if everything is being done to improve our security. Let our Defence Minister kindly invest his ambitions in building peace instead of constructing settlements and Apartheid roads. Let him listen to Hamas, which has been requesting a Hudna, a cessation of the fighting, and lets start talking. It is worth trying.

Hubris, arrogance and haughtiness are disastrous for us. We are a strong state. No one will be able to remove us, as long as we respect the Other and understand that the Palestinians too deserve freedom and sovereignty.

Enough of the killing and murder and destruction that are taking place in our name! The time has come for peace with Syria and Lebanon, and especially with the Palestinian people whom we have been oppressing, robbing their land and water, arresting and killing. It is time to treat the Other the way we demand to be treated ourselves.

Enough of the disinformation; halt the spins that end in death! This is my direct plea to the Defence Minister and those who carry out his instructions. The days of the “Spring of Youth”2 have come to an end. The time for thoughtful maturity has arrived. A time for peace.

Translator’s notes:

1) From the Declaration of Independence of the state of Israel

2) An IDF commando operation to kill Palestinian leaders in 1973, noted for Ehud Barak’s role in it.

Translated by Sol Salbe, Melbourne, Australia.

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