Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

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Statement on Israel’s Operation “Pillar of Defense”

November 19, 2012

Michigan Peace Team supports JVP’s Statement, which reads:

As Israel launches operation “Pillar of Defense” in Gaza, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) calls for an immediate cessation of the air strikes and naval bombardment into Gaza and an end to the ongoing siege of Gaza. JVP urges Israel not to exploit its asymmetric power to exacerbate the instability in the region. We urge President Obama to  take a stand against these attacks and to use the power of the United States to insist that Israel pursue all diplomatic measures possible for the sake of life, safety and security on all sides. JVP opposes all attacks on civilians, and urges the end of rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian communities in Israel, which only serve to derail efforts for a just resolution to the conflict.

This operation is named in reference to a  biblical passage in which a pillar of cloud protects the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after leaving bondage in Egypt.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night.    – Exodus 13:21                                                                                   

It is unseemly to invoke the protection afforded the Israelites wandering in the desert when Israel is the dominant military power in the region. JVP rejects the possibility that such a military operation and escalation of violence will be of any protection for Israelis or Palestinians. As Israel continues to control Gaza by air, land and sea, Israel holds responsibility for the well-being and safety of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who will be traumatized, injured and killed through this escalation of violence. 

JVP calls on our chapters, members, and supporters to join us in redoubling our efforts to advocate for an end to the U.S.’s unconditional military aid to Israel and to intensify our calls for divestment from all companies that profit from this escalation of violence and Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza.

You can follow live updates from Gaza here: https://twitter.com/theIMEU/watching-gaza


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Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law.
With offices in New York and California, over 100,000 supporters and 30 chapters, a Rabbinic Cabinet, and a youth wing, JVP’s board of advisors includes Tony Kushner, actor Ed Asner, writer Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and other respected rabbis, artists, scholars and activists.  

http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/

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We Have Not Heard the Last Word!

August 31, 2012

By Elizabeth Walters

MPT Staff Member & Peace Team Member for Michigan Peace Team in Gaza

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The verdict came on August 28, 2012, when the Israeli Court declared that the military is free of blame and absolved of any wrongdoing with regards to the death of twenty-three year old Rachel Corrie on March 16, 2003. The investigation concluded that Corrie’s death was an accident and that she had endangered herself by entering a combat zone. Simply stated the court believes that Rachel chose to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and that is why she died.

Days before the verdict, at a meeting at the US embassy in Tel Aviv the ambassador, Dan Shapiro, told Rachel Corrie’s parents and her sister that the government did not believe the Israeli military investigation had been “thorough, credible and transparent”, as had been promised by Israel. (The Guardian, Friday 24 August 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/24/israel-rachel-corrie-us-ambassador

I join with people around the planet who are shocked and dismayed by this verdict.

Beginning of MPT’s Involvement:

My concern and commitment date back to the beginning. In early June 2003, Mary Ann Ford, Jim Noble and I arrived in Rafah, Gaza two and a half months after Rachel’s death and shortly after peace team member Tom Hurndall was shot in the head and journalist Jim Miller had been killed by Israeli military personnel. Also, Mary Ann and I returned to Rafah, Gaza during Operation Rainbow in 2004. In both instances, local people in Rafah, Gaza had invited Michigan Peace Team to come. Once in Rafah we were able to monitor and document human rights violations and carry out other aspects of our peace team work.

Also we were committed personally to investigate the circumstance surrounding Rachel’s death. We interviewed eye witnesses including members of the peace team of which Rachel was a part. We went to the site of Rachel’s death. In addition, we gathered, organized, and studied documents, photos and videos regarding Rachel’s death that were in the peace team office and at key agencies that had been involved in investigating the death of Rachel.

Here are some of our findings

1.   Rachel Corrie was in the right place at the right time. She was doing what people are called to do worldwide: to nonviolently protect people, homes and neighborhoods from unjust and illegal demolitions. The Israeli military was destroying homes and neighborhoods in spite of international condemnations, and concerns about violations of human rights and international law.

 2.   The dictates of human rights, international law, and moral code enjoin military personnel to make a distinction between civilians and the military and to ensure the safety of unarmed civilians.

 3.   Eyewitness accounts and documents confirm that the Israeli military was given every opportunity to be aware of the presence of the nonviolent peace team on the ground on March 16, 2003 because:

•        Rachel Corrie wore a reflector vest and the whole team wore bright clothing;

•        These nonviolent protesters posted signs for all to see regarding their presence and protest against home demolitions that day; and,

•        The peace team was using a bull horn to announce their presence and to urge the military to stop destroying the homes of Palestinians.

4.   Rachel Corrie and the whole peace team were unarmed and nonviolent. The military was armed, moving in armored vehicles, and guarded by tanks and gun towers. Clearly there was no threat to the soldiers.

5.   The ISM peace team’s expectation that they would not be shot or crushed by the military during their nonviolent protest was in my view a reasonable expectation at that time.

In spite of these findings and hundreds more, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer on March 16, 2003 and years later, on August 28, 2012, in response to the civil suit brought to court by the parents of Rachel Corrie, the Israeli court declared the Israeli military free of blame and absolved from any wrongdoing with regard to Rachel’s death.

Today the Haaretz Digital Edition is reporting that Corrie’s mother, Cindy, put it this way at a news conference following the court ruling:

“The state has worked extremely hard to make sure that the full truth about what happened to my daughter is not exposed, and that those responsible for her killing are not held accountable.”

(Haaretz, August 31, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/double-take/what-the-rachel-corrie-case-reveals-about-israeli-justice.premium-1.461938)

As mentioned earlier, Mary Ann and I served on MPT peace teams in Rafah, Gaza during 2003 and 2004 and I went back to Gaza on another team in 2005 with Karen Donahue and Mary Miner. Our MPT peace teams lived and worked among the people of Gaza, and along with the people, we experienced firsthand the horror of the occupying military forces.

Here are some of our lived experiences: Sealed shut, by land, sea, and air, Gaza was and is the largest prison in the world. The Israeli military continued destroying Palestinian neighborhoods, seizing land, and declaring military zones in Palestinian neighborhoods. Throughout this process, when shooting from the gun towers, tanks, helicopters the military operated as if there was little or no distinction between civilians and military personnel. Many Palestinians died at the hands of the Israeli military and more than 2000 Palestinian homes were destroyed at the border to create the so-called Philadelphia Corridor. Also, we and Palestinians living in Gaza endured Operation Rainbow in 2004.

Then in 2007, after MPT was prevented from entering Gaza, the Israeli military invaded Gaza and conducted Operation Cast Lead.

In light of both Rachel’s death AND the on-going misery of the people of Gaza it is impossible for me to believe or accept that the Israeli military is blameless and absolved of any wrongdoing.

For years, the situation in Gaza and Rachel’s death has had a lasting effect on my life and the lives of many others. We continue to remember the commitment to active nonviolence so evident in Rachel and in many Palestinian people in Gaza. In that same spirit we continue to resist nonviolently on behalf of human rights, peace, and social justice.

In closing, I want to share with you my message to the parents of Rachel Corrie:

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Corrie!

I am grateful beyond words that you to seek justice regarding your daughter’s death while continuing to speak on behalf of Palestinians.

Do not lose heart. Know that the truth IS breaking through and a light shines on your work. Know too that the courage and love of your daughter Rachel continues to inspire and move us to action on behalf of justice for Palestinians. Know too that we have not heard the last word! The arc of history bends toward nonviolent resistance, peace, and social justice.

Your sister, Elizabeth Walters, MPT Peace Team Member who witnessed the horror of the Israeli military in Gaza during 2003, 2004, and 2005

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Israeli Military Trying to Close Palestinian Orphanages

April 29, 2008

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

ACTION ALERT
April 28, 2008

Contact: Joshua Walsh – communications@wrmea.com

Israel has killed 1,020 Palestinian children since 2000 and Palestinians have killed 124 Israeli children. Too many precious children have suffered and died as a result of politics. Another outrage is about to occur and you can help stop it. On April 23 a program on French TV Channel 5 highlighted a tragedy that may occur at any moment. This news is not even discussed in the United States.

The Israeli military is about to close down schools and orphanages run by the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) in the West Bank city of Hebron. More than 240 boys and girls, aged 5-18 live at the orphanages, while thousands of other children, many of whom have lost at least one parent, receive schooling, food and clothing from the charity. The Israeli military has already seized $157,000 worth of goods — including rice, oil, sugar, clothing and first aid kits — from the ICS warehouse.

Israeli soldiers entered the Rahma Bakery, owned by the society, on April 14, destroyed the oven, and confiscated more than $43,000 of equipment, including all the display cases, refrigerators, fixtures, and most of the inventory. Upstairs, the soldiers destroyed heating ducts. This bakery provided bread for the orphanages.

MPT took this picture of the destroyed bakery

The charity has appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice. The Israeli army claims that ICS is supporting the Hamas movement, which started in 1987. The society, founded in 1962, argues that ICS is a Palestinian charitable organization, with no political agenda, which is monitored regularly by the Palestinian Authority.
Israel and its supporters in the United States and Europe have targeted almost every charity that is trying to keep Palestinians fed, clothed, and educated. By closing this charity and others, Israel will complete the economic strangulation and even ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel’s wall and checkpoints are already preventing Palestinians’ access to jobs, fields, medical care and schools.
If the Israeli army shuts down the ICS and its projects in the city of Hebron, nearly 300 orphans will have no place other than the street to sleep. Please fax, telephone and e-mail your representatives to ask Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to stop this outrage. Ask him to show Palestinians that he does want peace by stopping this heartless eviction.

WRITE OR TELEPHONE THOSE WORKING FOR YOU IN WASHINGTON:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414

White House Comment Line:
(202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20515
Fax: (202) 261-8577

State Department Public Information Line:
(202) 647-6575
Fax: (202) 647-2283

Any Senator
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3121

Any Representative
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3121

E-Mail Congress and the White House:
Congress: visit <www.congress.org>; for President Bush: <president@whitehouse.gov>; Vice President Cheney: vice.president@whitehouse.gov

CONTACT THE EMBASSY OF ISRAEL:
Embassy of Israel
Ambassador Sallai Meridor
3514 International Dr., NW,
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 364-5500 Fax: (202)
(202) 364-5560
 

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, PO Box 53062, Washington DC 20009. Phone: (202) 939-6050, Fax: (202) 265-4574, Toll Free: (800) 368-5788, www.wrmea.com Published by the American Educational Trust, a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. Material from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs may be printed with out charge with attribution to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

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Israel ‘using psychological torture’, reports BBC

April 14, 2008

BBC News

(BBC News, Jerusalem) Sunday, 13 April 2008 15:07 UK

Since January, he says, he has been arrested four times by the Israeli security services, accused of stone-throwing and vandalising security cameras in the Old City.

Israel ‘using psychological torture’
Martin Asser
BBC News, Jerusalem

Gheith Nasr, 18, of the Burj Luqluq neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, has not had the ideal preparation for his high-school graduation exams in a few weeks time.

He says he has been detained each time for a few days in one of Jerusalem’s interrogation centres, and then sent home under orders not to leave the house for another few days.

The muscular, but shy and inarticulate teenager says he regularly suffered violent treatment as interrogators tried to get him to own up to crimes he says he didn’t commit – but one of his arrests stands out from the others.

“When I saw my mother being brought into the cell with handcuffs, I tell you, I would have told them anything just to save her, anything,” he said.

It happened a day after Gheith was taken off to Qishlik police station. Plainclothes officers and troops returned to the house and searched through the family’s belongings. 

Gheith Nasr\'s parents at the police station

  I was only in the room for a few seconds; we looked at each other but we were both too shocked to say anything
Um Gheith, mother of prisoner

Already in possession of their ID cards, one of the officers told the parents they must now go down to the police station where they would see their son.

‘Too shocked’

The parents were taken into separate rooms at Qishlik station. Um Gheith – the mother – takes up the story.

“There were two men in the room. I sat down and one stood behind me while the other started shouting in my face in a most aggressive and intimidating way.

“I was shocked, it was the first time I had even set foot in a police station and this man was saying horrible things about what they were going to do to Gheith.

“Then the one behind said: ‘Cuff her hands for the night’ and they put handcuffs on me and then took me along to another room, where I was surprised to see Gheith sitting.

“I was only in the room for a few seconds; we looked at each other but we were both too shocked to say anything. Then they took me out and took off the handcuffs.”

After an hour Mrs Nasr was brought back into the cell for another short and wordless encounter. Then she and her husband were given back their IDs and released.

In the meantime, Mr Nasr had also been taken in to see Gheith, minus handcuffs and an initial “softening up”, but with instructions from a secret service man to encourage the boy to confess.

“I did nothing of the kind,” the genial hospital goods supplier told me. “I sat together with my son for about 10 minutes, asking him how he was and how they were treating him, and saying a few things to keep his morale up.

“Then the officer came back and Gheith was then taken away. The officer asked whether my son was going to own up. I said: ‘He has done nothing’ and the officer replied: ‘You are a liar!’ 

Suicide attempts

In a statement, Israel’s domestic security agency, the GSS or Shin Bet, said it never detains suspects’ relatives or gives false information to detainees to obtain confessions.

“Terrorist investigations are conducted by the Shin Bet according to the [1999] Supreme Court ruling [limiting interrogation methods], under the restrictions of the law and the tight supervision of the Justice Ministry and the courts,” the statement said.

Human rights group the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) says a pattern has emerged recently of the security forces using such tactics with Palestinian interrogees. 

It has published detailed evidence of six sample cases from the last year by the GSS.

The parliamentary constitutional and legal committee has taken the unusual step of scheduling a hearing hours after publication. 

  Manipulating innocent family members is morally reprehensible whatever the danger
Eliahu Abram, PCATI

 The cases are all far more serious than that of Gheith Nasr in security terms, involving terrorism charges, but the interrogation tactics appear exactly the same.

When Mahmoud Sweiti, accused of belonging to the Hamas military wing in Hebron, was shown his wife and father, who was dressed in a prison coat, he twice attempted suicide, the report says. 

In another testimony, the mother and brother of another prisoner – Said Diab – say they were both detained and that he was forced to secretly watch them being violently interrogated, as he claimed to have been himself.

“Presenting close family members as suspects or under interrogation puts the real suspect under incredible psychological pressure, which can be as bad – if not worse – than physical torture,” says PCATI legal consultant Eliahu Abram.

“The General Security Service may think that between beating a prisoner and showing him his mother crying in detention, the latter is the more non-abusive way, but it is not,” he told the BBC.

Violent techniques

“The prisoner feels a sense of powerlessness and responsibility for what is happening to their loved-one – there is no telling whether information obtained in this way is reliable,” Mr Abram said.

He agrees the domestic intelligence service has to do all it can to investigate the terrorism threat which Israel faces from resourceful and determined foes.

“But that is no justification; manipulating innocent family members is morally reprehensible whatever the danger.”

The use of violent interrogation techniques is prohibited under Israeli and international anti-torture laws, but Mr Abram says the Supreme Court has allowed the use of “trickery” to obtain information.

PCATI believes the domestic intelligence agency is breaking the rules on physical abuse and is acting in an atmosphere of impunity because it says the legal authorities do not investigate accusations made by human rights groups.

Published: 2008/04/13 14:07:38 GMT

© BBC MMVIII

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Michigan Peace Team’s Position on the Palestine/Israel Crisis

March 17, 2008

Michigan Peace Team’s Perspective on the Conflict in Palestine/Israel 

  • We recognize and affirm nonviolence as a way of life and as a strategic tactic that can serve a central role in the resolution of the conflict(s) in the current situation. 
  • We do not advocate any particular solution to the crisis but support a just solution agreed upon by both Palestinians and Israelis. 
  • We support an end to violence by all parties in all forms so that peace can take root. 
  • We recognize the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people. 
  • We reject any form of anti-Semitism or racism that may manifest itself in the crisis, whether the source is an ally or an opponent. 
  • We recognize the Occupation of Palestine as an act of ongoing violence that must end for peace to take root in the region. 
  • We recognize the daily humiliations and restrictions that Palestinians experience at the hands of Israeli citizens and Defense Forces as a form of violence. 
  • We recognize the pain and terror and long-term psychological distress suicide bombings inflict on the Israeli people as a form of violence. 
  • We recognize the pain, both emotional and physical, caused by military service within the Occupied Territories by Israeli men and women as a form of violence. 
  • We support international law and the United Nation Resolutions regarding the right of return, opposing the building of Israel’s ‘security wall’ and opposing Israeli settlements in Palestine.   
  • We recognize the role of the US government in perpetuating this violence through economic and military support. 
  • We recognize the anguish of parents raising children in the midst of this conflict and the need to instill hope for the future.
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