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Response to Scottish Jews who condemmn Israel

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March 5, 2008

From Maurice Ostroff

To the Editor

The Herald

 

Israel must halt attacks on Gaza and begin talks

 

While respecting the humanitarian motivation of the writers, it is illogical and plainly absurd to call on anyone to negotiate with a party that inflexibly refuses to recognize the existence of the other party. ("Israel must halt attacks on Gaza and begin talks”, The Herald March 5).

 

The appeal would be more relevant if the authors addressed a simple call to Hamas leaders, Haniyeh in Gaza and Meshel in Damascus to replace incitement, hatred and violence, with efforts to develop their economy. Instead of vociferously promoting Jihad and declaring they will never recognise, but will destroy Israel, as Mr. Haniya vociferously reiterated during a visit to Teheran, recent history shows that they would be pleasantly surprised by the response if they were to reach out to the Israelis to cooperate in improving the lives of Palestinians.

 

Palestinians need to be reminded of how the senseless violence advocated by their leaders has caused them to miss out on golden opportunities for a new prosperous era; opportunities, which hopefully can be renewed if the rockets are replaced by calls for cooperation. It is more than tragic that their leaders have deprived Palestinians of opportunities to prosper, like the abandonment due to terror, of the successful industrial zone at Erez, which employed about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate (GIE), slated to provide up to 50,000 jobs. In addition a joint industrial zone was planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians. Additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.

 

But all these positive efforts were unfortunately thwarted. Instead of positive action following Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza strip, the disengagement was interpreted as proving the success of violence and as encouragement for more of the same. Instead of productively using more than 3,000 greenhouses bought from Israeli settlers by American Jewish donors and transferred to the PA, Gazan gunmen wantonly destroyed them with other projects that could have provided income for over 4,500 families.  In parallel the intensity of rocket fire from civilian areas in Gaza into civilian populations in Israel grew alarmingly.

 

The undeniable fact is that obstinate refusal to recognize Israel is preventing Gazans and other Palestinians  from thriving by trading with the Israeli economy.  Before the uprising, up to 100,000 Palestinians worked in Israel. Palestinian trucks moved freely on Israel's roads moving thousands of tons of agricultural products from Gaza to Jordan and beyond. Even during times of violence about 5,000 Palestinians continued to work in Israel, many in the settlements that have since been evacuated.

 

Unfortunately very little is known, even by experts on Palestine, about the many cooperative efforts actually established by Israel that were closed due to the Palestinian uprising, quite apart from those in the pipeline which were not given the chance to be realized.

 

I suggest that if the writers of the letter aim to promote peace they would do well to call for a program of intensive investment in "Education towards peace instead of violence". It is readily understandable that Palestinians who have been taught to hate in schools, from early childhood and who are continuously exposed to incitement to violence in mosques and in local media, will have difficulty in accepting good relations with their demonized neighbors. There can be no hope for a peaceful solution while the PA TV airs songs praising terrorists and sermons like those of Dr. Ibraham Madi, who mandates suicide bombing as a religious necessity or those of Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya, Rector of Advanced Studies at the Islamic University in Gaza who demands that "Infidels must be butchered".

 

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

Original article in The Herald March 5, 2008

http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/letters/display.var.2093156.0.Israel_must_halt_attacks_on_Gaza_and_begin_talks.php

 

Israel must halt attacks on Gaza and begin talks

We write representing the views of a group of Jews in Scotland campaigning under the banner of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, and add our voice to the condemnation of Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

 

While we condemn the launching of missiles from Gaza into Israel, this in no way justifies the disproportionate and excessive use of force by Israel, with over 120 Palestinians killed in the past week, many of them children.

 

With the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, talking of further fighting and escalation, this can only lead to more Palestinian deaths on a similar or greater scale.

 

Israel may blame Hamas for the latest escalation in Gaza, but we firmly believe that the root of the problem lies in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. With almost 1.5 million Palestinians confined in the world's largest open prison that is Gaza, and under a constant economic blockade, it is unfortunately not surprising that there is hatred of Israel among the Palestinians.

 

We deplore the actions of the Israeli state in its policy of depriving the Palestinians in Gaza of basic foodstuffs, fuel and medical supplies.

 

As Jews, we do not raise criticism of Israel lightly. However, we cannot stand by silently when such actions are supposedly carried out in the name of Jewish people.

 

Adding armed invasion to starvation is no way to achieve peace and flies in the face of the reported 64% of Israelis who believe their government should enter into ceasefire talks with Hamas. Israel's offensive has resulted in Mahmoud Abbas's moderate West Bank government suspending talks with Israel, compounding the situation.

 

We support the actions of Israeli organisations such as Gush Shalom and the Israeli Coalition against the Siege in calling for an immediate ceasefire and talks with Hamas. International pressure needs to be brought to bear on Israel and particularly via its main backer, America, to end further attacks on Gaza.

 

We call on Israel to halt any further attacks and enter into peace talks; meanwhile, we urge other Jews to add their voice to ours and join us on the all-Scotland anti-war demonstration in Glasgow on March 15, when we will be calling for an end to the siege of Gaza alongside the demonstration's demands for the troops to be brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Barrie Levine, Henry Maitles, Hilda Meers, Sinde Astraea, Michale Bouskila, Dr Alex Benchimol, Catherine Lyons, David Simons, Dr Katherine Lebow, Maurice Naftalin, Liz Elkind, Abigail Candelas, Suzanne Senior, Rebekah Gronowski, Benjamin Franks, Ellen Galford, Samuel Cohn, Dr Sarah Glynn, Ruth Clark, Keir Hardie, Ruth Sirton, Seymour Alexander, Mark Symonds, Ellen Galford, Judy Bury, Scottish Jews for a Just Peace (http://sjjp.org.uk) 24 Herriet Street, Glasgow.

 

 

 

 

 

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