FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OCCUPATION: BUILDING ON ACTION TAKEN BY CIVIL
SOCIETY & MOVING FORWARD; CONNECTING WITH WORLDWIDE PEACE & SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein (Advocacy Officer for The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions)*
This year and next are landmarks for Israelis, Palestinians and internationals campaigning against Occupation, advocating for a viable, sovereign Palestinian state, at peace with Israel, or other options if a viable 2-state option (as opposed to the Bantustan version currently on offer) is seen to be no longer attainable. 40 Years of Occupation was marked around the world in June with non-violent events which will continue by marking 60 years since the establishment of the state and the Nakba. Within ICAHD, my organisation, we launched a one and a half million dollar campaign to rebuild 300 homes demolished by Israel, including full page adverts in The New York Times and the Guardian, to mark our 40-60 Campaign, (funded by Americans, including holocaust survivors and Orthodox Jews) to expose Israeli policies of discrimination, whilst working to end the Occupation.
The 40 Years of Occupation was marked around the world in June with a multitude of events, gleaning much media attention. Next year's worldwide campaigns will continue the Bilbao Declaration which invokes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN resolutions and calls for the establishment of civil society networks. Similarly, the Florence Declaration underlines the role of civil society, and seeks to reinforce the Arab League Peace Plan. There is also the Avaaz.org internet lobby, a spin-off of MoveOn and in UK War on Want, ICAHD UK and many others in the Enough! coalition are blazing the way for civil society, too. In Israel, as many as a million Israeli civilians have voted with their feet and left the country, while some say the real refusal rate of youth to serve in the IDF may be as high as 50%. Grey refusal in the Air Force is also very high, said to be 30%.
...International civil society, as represented at this meeting and at Social Forum meetings, consisting of peace and human rights groups, faith-based groups, trade unions, universities and intellectuals, and all those ordinary people of the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Israeli peace camp, is the key to liberation. When even the Peace NGOs Forum run by the Peres Centre for Peace holds a conference in Florence to engage with international civil society because it sees it as the only effective counterweight, one sees a growing realisation that only civil society can bear this singular burden of democracy, not least to empower politicians at forums such as the United Nations and the European Parliament.
...I see the Israeli extreme Right as a more dangerous enemy of peace than the Palestinians, most of whom want peace...The Right has no peace plan. At a recent 3-day Conference in Jerusalem to discuss the future of the Jewish people, peace was not even on the Agenda. So much for their Jewish values.
We need now to co-ordinate a global campaign aimed to put pressure on Israel to end its politics of occupation and colonization and divide-and-rule tactics by sanctioning its systematic violations of international law and United Nations resolutions. We must save Israel from itself, for the sake of the majority of average peaceful Israelis and Palestinians.
...I believe there are a number of actions that can be taken:
1. Present the issue of settlements to the ICJ for its ruling under international law.
2. Ensure the recommendations of the ICJ are implemented regarding the Wall, by calling the international community to boycott the Occupation, sanction Israel and divest;
3. Work on a comprehensive registry of Palestinian damages, in the knowledge that transitional justice will one day kick in as it always does;
4. If Israel doesn't take serious steps towards real peace, Eurovision, the European Cup, the Olympic Games and other high profile events must be targeted, and the academic boycott increasingly kick in.
...6. Never forget the centrality of the Right of Return and Israel's responsibility for the refugees (which must also be acknowledged for the sake of Israeli closure, psychological health and reconciliation).
...We are in a state of psychological warfare, fighting for peace. A spiritual battle that we shall, insha'allah, eventually win. Together.
Action Advocacy Officer
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Jerusalem
Tel: 02-672-8771 / 0547-366393