Ray Goodlass

Rays peace activism

Month: January, 2013

This news needs to ber backed up with action

In the news today the USA has called for a freeze on  settlement building in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. So? They’ve done this before, unfortunately to no effect. To have an effect it needs to be backed up with action. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry need to put their money where their mouths are, such as cutting US aid to Israel unless it complies.

And of course it needs to be much more than a freeze on new settlements – it needs to include the abandonment of all settlements built on (illegally siezed) Palestinian land. The abandoned settlement houses could of course supply accommodation for returned Palestinian refugees, and remember, the UN has repeatedly passed resolutions affirming the ‘right of return’.

 

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Will new US SEcretary of State live up to his undertaking to kick start the peace process

As Hillary Clinton resigned Senator John Kerry was confirmed as the new US Secretary of State yesterday. I hope we hear soon about how he will fulfill his promise to kick start the Palestine-Israel peace process, given that he said in his confirmation hearings that he had such a plan. And how will he and President Obama deal with pressure from Democrats during the mid-term elections, as they will be under pressure from the various Zionist and Jewish lobby groups not to give an inch to the long suffering Palestinians. I hope he has a plan to do this up his sleeve.

Breaking the Barrier: follow up to the Palestine Peace Volunteer Project

A short one today, to let you know that our follow up to the Palestine Peace Volunteer Camp is taking shape. ‘Breaking the Barrier’ will be held in Bethlehem and Jerusalem on 7 July 2014, organised by George and others from the project. Not sure exactly what shape it will take yet, but I intend to take part. I’ll keep you posted.

Extreme Zionists

Watched a frightening program last night on ABC TV 2: Louis Theroux’s ‘The Ultra Zionists’, about extreme Jewish religious settlers in Palestine. They really are fanatics. Some are in government sanctioned Settlements, but others are have set up camp in sites that are illegal even by Israeli government standards.

Both types are however settling on illegally seized Palestinian land. One mob even set up camp on a family’s land who had simply gone out to a wedding, but refused to budge when the wedding celebrants returned.

These extremist settlers justify their seizure of Palestinian land on either or both of two grounds:

i) We (i.e. Jewish people) were ‘here first’, which of course is nonsense, as others, such as the Canaanites, where there long before, and the Jewish people conquered them when they moved in.

ii) God gave us the land. Well, if you believe in the tooth fairy you might be gullible enough to believe this one, but it doesn’t justify your actions.

Worringly, both types of extreme settlers have the protection on the Israeli military.

Also worrying is that they have the support of fundamentalist American Christians, a disturbing alliance I mentioned in a previous post. Coupled with the Israeli government’s ‘charm offensive’ in the USA it does not bode well in relation to influencing public opinion.

 

 

Is this just a political trick or a cause for hope?

‎Yesterday it was reported that Natanyahu has offered Yair Lapid, the leader of the new Israeli centre party ‘There is a Future’ the post of Foreign Minister in his yet to be announced coalition cabinet.  ‘There is a Future’ has a platform of a negotiated peace between Israel and Palestine.

I’m not sure if this is of any significance, but I suspect it is nothing more than a move to appear to be conciliaratory to Europe, the USA, and other countries wishing to see the peace process re-started, but in effect will mean nothing. It is also typical of Natanyahu to buy off opponents in this way.

Nonetheless, I wish it wasn’t so.

Thoughts provoked by Australia (Invasion?) Day

Australia Day, or Invasion Day as I think it should be known, yesterday reminded me that we white Australian are, like the Israelis, colonial settlers who illegally usurped the land of others. I had thought this whilst I was in Palestine, but yesterday brought it back to mind.

I think since the 1967 referendum we, unlike the Israelis, have made some amends, but nowhere near enough, unfortunately. So its a timely reminder for me to be as active about Aboriginal rights as I am about a Just Peace for Palestinians

 

A glimmer of hope?

‎26 January: Senator John Kerry, in his US Senate hearing for his nomination as Secretary of State said he has a plan to restart the Peace process. Would it be that simple, but I guess its better than Hillary Clinton’s lack of action over the past four years. However, I’m not holding my breath, as there are many forces at wotk in the USA to counteract anything a Secretary of State may put forward, such as the Jewish lobby and the mid-term elections in less than two years time. That could scuppoer anything Kerry may try

Time to get active as an Ambassador for Palestine rather than wait for an Israeli coalition government to be formed.

25 January: what sort of coalition government Netanyahu will be able to form in Israel will decide whether or not the peace process resumes. However, rather than sit idly by twiddling my thumbs I’ve decided tp get active as an Ambassador for Palestine – details below:

i) I’ve signed up to the Peace Project’s post workcamp project, through Google Groups, which is provisionally titled ‘Breaking the Barrier’. Details about what exactly we will do in due course.

ii) To advance the cause locally I have used the Israeli election as the cue for a Letter to the Editor of the (Wagga) Daily Advertiser about the plight of the Palestinians. Not sure if it will be published, of course, as it is certainly not local, but I’ll give it a go. The letter follows:

Dear Editor,

 It is difficult to know what to make of this week’s Israeli election result in relation to the peace process, an issue which is of great interest to me because of my recent peace volunteer trip to Palestine.

 Clearly Mr Netanyahu and his ‘Likud’ Party are weakened, but two new parties have gained impressive results, and in relation to the peace process it depends on which of these he brings in to form his coalition government. If he includes ‘There is a Future’, which favours a negotiated outcome, it could at least mean that the peace process is restarted, but if he includes ‘Jewish Home’ it will be very bad news, as that party favours annexing the West Bank to Israel, meaning an end to the notion of a Palestinian state.   

 However, if he goes left, that is, forms a coalition with ‘There is a Future’ and the peace process is re-started, the outcome for Palestine is not necessarily a positive one, for as I observed on my trip, what Israel has to date granted the Palestinians after the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s are very slim pickings indeed.

 For what passes for Palestine today is a series of isolated ‘bantustans’ or ‘cantons’ separated by still expanding Israeli Settlements and the notorious Separation Wall, which splits Palestinian communities from their farmland and makes travel from one location to another often impossible as residents try to cross via the check points controlled by the Israeli military, which often won‘t allow access, however many permits the residents possess.

 Both the Settlements and the Wall are built on illegally seized Palestinian land, as are the super highways, which connect the Israeli Settlements and on which Palestinians are not allowed to drive. 

 The Israeli military is also free to enter and demolish, if it so chooses, Palestinian homes and villages.

 And the degree of autonomy allowed to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is limited to education, health, and internal security, which in fact means that the PA does Israel’s policing for it, and pays for it too.

 Another major issue is that despite UN resolutions millions of Palestinians still live in refugee camps as a result of Israel’s military victories in 1948 and 1967, and Israel steadfastly ignores the UN and will not allow the ‘right of return’ for Palestinians to their homes.

 

So in the unlikely event of the new Israeli government moving forward on the peace process in order for the outcome to be a just peace all the above issues will need to be addressed to the Palestinians’ satisfaction, which is not likely to happened unless those who can influence the Israeli government, such as the USA, do the right thing, which unfortunately is also highly unlikely.

 Sincerely,                                                                                                      

Ray Goodlass

Hard to know what to make of the Israeli election result in relation to the peace process.

Hard to know what to make of the Israeli election result, as there is good and bad news for the peace process. Netanyahu’s Likkud vote is down, and that of There is a Future, which is in favour of negoatiations, has made an impressive debut, but so has Jewish Home, which would annex the West Bank if it could, meaning no Palestine at all if it gets its way in a coalition with Likkud. But one thing is clear: Netanyahu is seriously weakened, so it is all up to which way he will go (left or right) as he tries to cobble togther a coalition thyat will have a bearing on the peace process. If he brings Jewish Home into his coalition it will be bad news, but if he moves left by including There is a Future it could at least mean that the peace process is re-started. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Early news on the Israeli election result does not bode well for the peace process

‎23 January: early news about the Israeli election results does not bode well for the peace process, in that the far right Jewish Home party seems to be doing well. As it is against any peace deal with Palestine this could be very bad news as it may well form part of a Likkud based coalition government, thereby pushing Netanyahu further to the right.

There has been commentary that the Centre-Left has also done well, but as Labor has dropped the peace process from its platform that doesn’t mean much.

In breaking news as I type this Natanyahu has just claimed victory. So time to get moving with plans for what to do after the Peace Camp. I’ll elaborate on this tomorrow, but for the moment we people who support the Palestinian cause now need to get active more than ever.

I’ve started with one small action, which was to give a very short talk on my recent Palestinian experience to Wagga’s Sunrise Rotary club yesterday, and they’ve asked me to give them a full presentation on 12 March.