Gaza media statement

The following email was just sent to the over 500-strong Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV) mailing list:

Dear friends,

We have drafted the following letter and are planning to post it on our IAJV website and also send it to the major newspapers including the Australian Jewish News. We invite your signature. If you wish to add your name, please send an email response to us by 10 am Monday morning January 5.

Only individuals who explicitly respond will be identified with the letter which will not in any way identify IAJV or signatories of earlier statements.

Here are links to a few relevant background articles.

Tom Segev, Haaretz. December 29
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050706.html

Amira Hass, Haaretz, December 28
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050636.html

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, December 31
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1051317.html

Richard Falk, The Nation, December 29
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090112/falk?rel=hp_currently

Gush Shalom statement, December 30
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/1230639936/

Peter Slezak and Antony Loewenstein, ABC Unleashed, December 31
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2457110.htm

Peter Slezak and Antony Loewenstein, Online Opinion, January 2
http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=8349

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We are Australian Jews who join thousands in Israel and around the world condemning ongoing Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Together with Israeli peace group Gush Shalom, we condemn the current war as “inhuman, superfluous” and “abominable”.

While Israel has the right to protect its citizens and to demand an end to the crime of Palestinian rockets that target civilians, this cannot be used as a pretext for the grossly disproportionate military assault on Gaza because it was Israel that violated the fragile truce on November 4, 2008. Furthermore, Israel ignored Hamas’ diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the cease-fire since it expired on December 19.

The crude home-made rockets have caused relatively few Israeli casualties. By contrast, Israeli bombardment has caused around 400 deaths and 2,000 casualties including a large proportion of women and children. The bombardment has included civilian targets such as a university, television station, factories, mosques, ministry offices, parliament and refugee camps. Since Hamas is a legitimate, democratically elected political party that controls the government, security-related institutions are also civilian targets including police departments and uniformed officers.

History has demonstrated that military punishment has never broken the spirit of a people or produced peace. On the contrary, the assault on the population of Gaza will only inflame hatred of Jews and of the State of Israel while doing nothing to protect the lives of Israelis. Above all, it will undermine the prospects of joining with peace-seeking Palestinians to negotiate a lasting, just solution to the conflict.

The war on the population of Gaza comes after the Israeli blockade that had already created a severe humanitarian crisis under which the Palestinians suffered from lack of food, electricity, medicines, hospital equipment and other basic necessities of life. The blockade was condemned by the UN as a violation of international law and, like the massive Israeli air-strikes, constitutes illegal collective punishment prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

We call for an immediate end to attacks on civilians by Palestinians and Israelis. However, since Palestinians have no means of self-defence against the most powerful military force in the Middle East, we particularly call on Israel to end its brutal assault on the vulnerable Palestinian people of Gaza and to reconsider its rejection of the UN Security Council’s call for a cease-fire.

Israel has refused to accept Hamas’ consistent offer of negotiations since its election win in 2006. There can be no solution to the conflict without Israel being a willing partner to dialogue.