The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

As a sig­na­tory of the Jews for Jus­tice for Pales­tini­ans ad­ver­tise­ment on Gaza, I must cor­rect Ey­lon Levy’s as­ser­tion that “Is­rael has no le­gal obli­ga­tion for pro­vide Gaza with any­thing... as it uni­lat­er­ally with­draw in 2005” ( Let­ters, April 25). As a mat­ter of fact Is­rael nei­ther with­drew in 2005, nor in­deed sug­gested that with­drawal was its in­ten­tion.

Un­der the disen­gage­ment plan is­sued by the Cabi­net on June 6, 2004, the fu­ture sta­tus of Gaza is dealt with in sec­tion B (3) en­ti­tled “se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion fol­low­ing the re­lo­ca­tion”. Para­graph (1) reads: “The state of Is­rael will guard and mon­i­tor the ex­ter­nal land perime­ter of the Gaza Strip, will con­tinue to main­tain exclusive author­ity in Gaza airspace and will con­tinue to ex­er­cise se­cu­rity ac­tiv­ity in the sea off the coast of the Gaza strip.”

Thus the mil­i­tary con­trol of Gaza that be­gan in June 1967 con­tin­ued af­ter what Is­rael called var­i­ously “disen­gage­ment” or “re­lo­ca­tion” from Gaza. As a con­se­quence the oc­cu­pa­tion of Gaza con­tin­ues and Is­rael re­mains obliged by the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of the Hague and Geneva Con­ven­tions for the wel­fare of the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion un­der oc­cu­pa­tion.

It is in Is­rael’s hands to end this sit­u­a­tion im­me­di­ately by un­con­di­tion­ally with­draw­ing from all the ter­ri­tory it oc­cu­pied in 1967. John Straw­son Univer­sity of East Lon­don Strat­ford High Street, Lon­don E15

There was by no means any “ad­mis­sion” in the JC ad­ver­tise­ment that “the vi­o­lence in Gaza, Sderot or Ashkelon was ini­ti­ated by Ha­mas and that the Is­raeli re­sponse was self-defence”, as is claimed by Byran Reuben ( Let­ters, April 25). To quote the ac­tual words of the ad: “We con­demn all vi­o­lence against civil­ians, whether Is­raeli or Pales­tinian. We also in­sist that the rocket at­tacks on Sderot and Ashkelon can­not jus­tify the scale of death and suf­fer­ing wrought by Is­rael’s ac­tion against Gaza. The block­ade of Gaza will sim­ply per­pet­u­ate the vi­cious cy­cle of ter­ror rooted in the long Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion and set­tle­ment of Pales­tinian land.”

This makes clear the root cause of the cy­cle of ter­ror, in which Is­rael’s re­tal­i­a­tion for Pales­tinian re­venge at- tacks is grossly dis­pro­por­tion­ate and only pro­duces more vi­o­lence against Is­raeli civil­ians. Deb­o­rah Mac­coby Clap­ton, Lon­don E5

I do worry when “free speech” has to be bought at the price of sev­eral thou­sand pounds be­fore it can ap­pear. It would be even bet­ter if the con­tent was what was de­bated rather than the per­mis­si­bil­ity of mak­ing it in the first place. The JC has car­ried ad­verts from JfJfP and other peace groups be­fore and has not felt the need for an ex­cep­tional edi­to­rial as on this oc­ca­sion. The same is­sue was ac­com­pa­nied by an in­ter­est­ing and var­ied col­lec­tion of ar­ti­cles in the mag­a­zine cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of Is­rael’s in­de­pen­dence. Where was the edi­to­rial com­ment on the ac­cep­tance of ad­verts there — in­clud­ing one cen­sured re­cently by the Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Author­ity for sug­gest­ing that the Oc­cu­pied West Bank con­sti­tuted part of Is­rael? Where is the edi­to­rial com­ment on the ac­cep­tance of ad­verts in the mag­a­zine (and in a re­cent prop­erty sup­ple­ment) on the ac­cep­tance of ad­verts pro­mot­ing homes for sale in the Oc­cu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries? Dan Judel­son Chair, Jews for Jus­tice for Pales­tini­ans

The re­cent JfJfP ad­ver­tise­ment with its tra­di­tional Pe­sach mes­sage draw­ing at­ten­tion to hunger, suf­fer­ing and af­flic­tion has evoked some “tra­di­tional” re­sponses from con­trib­u­tors to your let­ters pages.

First there was the ca­su­is­ti­cal son. What did he say? “What oc­cu­pa­tion? Gaza’s no longer oc­cu­pied. Ev­ery­one knows that.” Then there was the ra­peapol­o­gist son. What did he say? “Look at the way th­ese Arabs carry on. They just ask for it. So we give it to them.”

Then there was the sim­ply para­noid-racist son. What did he say? “The Arabs, they’re just out to get us. That’s what they’re brought up to.”

And what of those other thou­sands of sons and daugh­ters, read­ers of the JC? Their per­sonal sense of de­cency is in such con­flict with their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with Is­rael that they are silent. They know not how to ask its gov­ern­ment: “Why are you do­ing this to the peo­ple of Gaza?” That is why we have to ask for them. Murray Glick­man Il­ford, Es­sex

Th­ese words at the open­ing of the Hag­gadah: “This is the bread of af­flic­tion, let all who are hun­gry en­ter and par­take thereof”, have a par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance for me as, per­haps, for many Jews.

This year, as I read them, I felt the hor­ror of Is­rael’s block­ade of Gaza. To­gether with the fuel block­ade which is mak­ing the de­liv­ery of food by UNRWA all but im­pos­si­ble, the siege is in­duc­ing real star­va­tion. This strat­egy was de­vel­oped by Ariel Sharon’s hench­man, Dov Weiss­glas, who laugh­ingly said Is­rael would put “the peo­ple of Gaza on a diet”. This demon­strates that Is­rael, who con­trols all ac­cess to Gaza since its “with­drawal” in 2005, is re­spon­si­ble di­rectly for the dam­age it is in­flict­ing on a sub­ject pop­u­la­tion.

It is there­fore rea­son­able to en­quire how far our own Jewish com­mu­nity goes in its ef­forts to re­act to our sages’ plea to dis­pel hunger, es­pe­cially at Passover. If the re­sponses of the let­ter writ­ers and the ex­tra­or­di­nary JC edi­to­rial, cas­ti­gat­ing those, like me, who signed the JfJfP ad­ver­tise­ment, are any­thing to go by, it would seem that many in main­stream Bri­tish Jewry have lit­tle aware­ness of our proud her­itage of so­cial jus­tice.

I read with an­guish the in­sen­si­tive let­ters try­ing to de­fend this wholly in­de­fen­si­ble siege and would say that if we Jews are so im­mune to the suf­fer­ing cries of those over whom we hold do­min­ion, we are in­deed, as a com­mu­nity, in des­per­ate straits. Diana Neslen

When fringe groups like JfJfP place full-page ads in our na­tional news­pa­pers, such as the one that ap­peared in the JC be­fore Peasach, the re­sponse must take the same for­mat, so that the lies, dis­tor­tions and ab­sence of con­text are ex­posed to the same read­ers. There is no bet­ter use of funds for Is­rael’s has­barah, for si­lence is in­vari­ably in­ter­preted as a tacit ad­mis­sion of guilt. Roslyn Pine Up­per Park Road, Manch­ester

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