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The Jewish Opposition to Barak-Sharon
Published on Sunday, November 12, 2000
The Jewish Opposition to Barak-Sharon
by Stanley Heller
 
The establishment media is ignoring the growing opposition among Jews to what Barak (and his silent partner Sharon) are doing to the Palestinians. There have been a number of initiatives by Jews, in the United States, in France, in Israel, the United Kingdom, in Canada.

(1) Internationally. A letter endorsed by over 230 Jews called for the US Congress to suspend all foreign aid to Israel. About a quarter of the supporters are Israelis. Most are professional people including lawyers, professors, teachers, journalists and writers. Some of the more prominent signers include: Israeli/American lawyers Allegra Pacheco, Professors Cheryl Rubenberg, Yigal Arens, Daniel Boyarin, Mark Solomon, and Norman Finkelstein, Israeli journalist Tanya Reinhart, and Israeli anti-apartheid activist Jeff Halper. The text of the statement is as follows: "We Jews, citizens of the state of Israel and of other countries, are sickened that the Barak government would let the war criminal Ariel Sharon enter a Palestinian area and provoke terrible violence. Unfortunately this just illustrates the determination of the current Israeli government to keep Palestinians permanently separate, unequal, closed up in small territories, and exiled in foreign lands. We protest the ever escalating violence against Palestinians. We urge the US Congress to suspend all foreign aid to Israel."

The entire list of signers and identification can be found at http://www.thestruggle.org/mecc_11/Suspendx.html

(2) 130 French Jews published a statement in Le Monde. Among the better-known signers were Raymond Aubrac (World War II resistance fighter), Daniel Bensad (philosopher and political activist), Miguel Benassayag (psychoanalyst of Argentinian origin), Rony Brauman (former president of Doctors without Borders), Suzanne de Brunhoff (economist), Gisle Halimi (feminist activist), Michal Lwy (sociologist and intellectual historian), Maurice Rajsfus (author of several books on French and Mideast political history), Laurent Schwartz (mathematician), Daniel Singer (European editor of The Nation), Pierre Vidal-Naquet (renowned specialist of ancient Greece). Part of the statement reads:

"A possibly irreversible step has now been taken. The symbolic provocation by Ariel Sharon, by accentuating the religious character of the conflict at the expense of its political content, favors the rise of extremist religious forces and weakens supporters of peace and a secular Palestine and Israel. A race to disaster has begun. A civil war within Israel between Jews and Arabs is in the offing.

Not in spite of our Jewish origins but because of them, we oppose this suicidal logic based on identity-panic. We refuse the fatal spiral of ethnicization and confessionalization of the conflict. We support Judeo-Arab fraternity and call for a renewal of the peace process, which would require enforcement of the UN resolutions, the recognition of a Palestinian state and the right to return for Palestinians chased from their lands. Only in this way can the peaceful coexistence of different cultural and linguistic communities on a single territory can become a real possibility."

The entire statement can be found at the "Demand Justice" website - www.TheStruggle.org

(3) In Israel there have been a stream of protest by Israeli Jews. Yom Kippur saw the first ever protest march in Israel. About 30 people held signs with slogans like: "Yom Kippur Protest March - Lives at Risk"; "Atonement"; "From the peace of the brave to a war of cowards"; "Barak and Ben-Ami are responsible for the pogrom"; "Barak+Sharon fail at peace" . People marched for three hours and were verbally harassed by police the whole way.

On the 15th a rally of 500 to 700 in Tel Aviv. There was another rally at the same time in Haifa. There were slogans calling for the Right of Return, against apartheid, against settlements, Stop the War, against Barak and the Labor government, end the bloodshed, yes to peace, peace or hell (it rhymes in Hebrew). People discussed forming teams that would go out into neighborhoods and serve as a Jewish buffer from attacks by Jewish mobs. The Alternative Information Center put "human rights patrol cars" on the streets a week later with large signs.

On October 21 Peace Now staged a demonstration of 500. . There were all manner of signs: "Kishinev 1903 - Nazareth 2000"; "Kristallnacht in Nazareth"; "Stop the Pogroms"; "Racist Police - Killer Policemen"; Rabbi Arik Asherman from Rabbis for Human Rights made a speech calling for exchanging the three Israeli soldiers for the Lebanese hostages held by Israel.

(4) In the United Kingdom 16 Israeli Jews sent a letter to the media deploring "outrages" against the Palestinian population. They categorized relations in Israel/Palestine as "apartheid". The letter concluded:

"The Israeli barbaric response was not only confined to the Occupied Territories, but was also directed against the Palestinian population within Israel proper. The Israeli police participated or stood by as armed Israelis went on the rampage. From Tel Aviv to Nazareth it was "open season" on Palestinians. To-date, thirteen Israeli Palestinians were killed, among them, Asil Asalih, a Palestinian Israeli peace activist, who was murdered by Israeli police.

The truth is now out and the Oslo sham cannot be resurrected. The imposition of a peace unilaterally defined by Israel will not work: such a peace will never hold. Only a genuine engagement with the Palestinians will end the bloodshed. Israel must accept its obligations under international law, such as the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as UN resolutions and the immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in 1967."

Professor Moshe Machover, Yael Oren Kahn, Rami Heilbronn, Dina Pirani, Shimon Tzabar, Dr Judit Druks, Ruth Sirton, Ehud Sivosh, Ossi Ron, Daniel Machover, Inbar Tamari, Hanna Braun, Merav Devere, Ruth Cohen, Professor Nira Yuval-Davis, Dr Ronit Lentin.

The entire statement can be found at the "Demand Justice" website - www.TheStruggle.org

(5) In Montreal, a group is forming called the Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation - JAAO. They are gathering signers for a statement entitled "Jews speak out against the Occupation". Organizers are: Robert Silverman, Scott Weinstein, and Abraham Weizfeld. Among signers are Noam Chomsky and Grace Paley. The statement reads in part:

We who are Jewish must demand an end to the war on the Palestinians, a proper respect for the UN resolutions recognizing the rights of Palestinians, ending Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, a guarantee for Palestinian self-determination, and the dismantlement of the Israel-style apartheid system. It is not in our interests that we continue enforcing unjust conditions that perpetuate resistance and bloodshed. Solidarity with the Palestinian people is also in effect -- solidarity with the Jewish people.

Their email is: Jewish_ Alliance@hotmail.com

(6) In San Francisco a large group called "A Jewish Voice for Peace" called for an end to violence on both sides, but was especially critical of Israeli brutality.

Part of their statement reads: "We agree with the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, and the Israeli Human Rights Group B'Tselem that Israel has used excessive force against Palestinians. We deplore the Israeli use of snipers and the Israeli attacks on children, bystanders, unarmed persons, and rescuers. We are disgusted by reports that, of the more than 2000 Palestinians injured, 75% have been shot above the waist, and 40% have been shot in the head. We are angry that in disputes between Jewish aggressors and Arab victims, Israeli police and soldiers have reflexively sided with the Jews. And we are appalled that Israeli police and soldiers have killed Arabs for the same acts-such as blocking roads or throwing stones-that Jews are committing with impunity."

Jewish opposition to Barak-Sharon's brutal system and violent repression is building and is more determined than ever before.

Stanley Heller is a middle school teacher in Connecticut and has been Chairperson of the Middle East Crisis Committee since 1982. MECC publishes the journal "The Struggle" and the website "Demand Justice" at www.TheStruggle.org  He can be reached at: u11434@snet.net

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