Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
Dear Justice Richard Goldstone,
The recent escalation in the Israeli army incursions into the Gaza strip is of grave concern to us at the Coalition of Women for Peace. The prospect of yet another flare out of large scale violence against civilians is alarming. Your recent comments on the Goldstone report are already interpreted by Israeli officials and the mainstream media channels as complete and full absolution of Israel’s military conduct in its entirety. Yet, the conclusions drawn from your statement with respect to Israel’s conduct during the Cast Lead military campaign and especially its aftermath are not backed by any new facts or findings. This seriously undermines the international, Israeli and Palestinian civil society struggle for accountability and against impunity from grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
You state that “we know more today about what happened in Gaza.” Which new facts have been uncovered? We who monitor the Israeli government and the situation closely on the ground know that no information was brought out to contradict the meticulous documentation of the fact finding mission you headed. In fact, it is the international pressure generated by the publication of the Goldstone report that has forced Israel to launch a significant number of investigations in the first place. These investigations corroborate what the Israeli and Palestinian civil societies already know: Israel systematically fails to conduct thorough and impartial investigations meeting international standards. As a matter of fact, most investigations prompted by the Goldstone report have not been completed yet, and those which have been completed generated only three rather minor indictments of lower rank soldiers. Considering the scope of destruction and the civilians killed during operation Cast Lead, it cannot be said that those responsible for grave violations that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity have been brought to justice.
A key contribution of the Goldstone report to the public comprehension of the Israeli/Palestinian reality has been its readiness to approach seriously the actual context of the outbreak of violence in Gaza. This is the persistent blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip, and its continued control on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The recommendations to Israel – carrying your distinguished signature as a world renowned jurist – clearly addressed the blockade on Gaza, calling on Israel to immediately cease the border closures and allow free passage of goods and people to and from the Strip. The report recommends that Israel release Palestinian political prisoners, and cease actions that limit the expression of dissent by civil society organizations. The innovation of the report was precisely its readiness to acknowledge the overwhelming responsibility of the powerful party in the conflict.
Israel ignored the report and its recommendations, and did not lift the blockade or stop the persecution of Palestinian civilians and human rights defenders. The only notable change in the status quo was the escalation, immediately following the publication of the Goldstone report, of government attacks and the campaign of de-legitimization of human rights organizations and civil society. The Israeli government is currently promoting legislation, which aims at curbing our freedom of expression, freedom of association and basic social and political liberties. This political persecution is further marginalizing and excluding Palestinian and Jewish women in Israel, who oppose the militarized political establishment. The Goldstone report gave an official international force to the ever increasing demand to hold Israel accountable for grave violations of international law. Your statements undermine the credibility of the United Nations and its ability to effectively enforce international standards of conduct and international humanitarian and human rights law. Now more than ever the stakes are high for those struggling for accountability and against impunity in Israel/Palestine. Your statement raises the stakes further by granting Israel legitimacy it so desperately needs to continue its aggressive campaigns of repression of dissent on the domestic and international front.
Dear Justice Goldstone, we are asking you to do all that is in your power to enable the international community to hold Israeli leaders accountable. Only a serious commitment to accountability, which would end Israel’s impunity can prevent the next war. As it stands now, your statement is already used to justify and legitimize future crimes, even before the next war has started.
Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel)
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
June 2, 2010
Early Monday morning, we woke up to the horrible news of the Israeli raid on the peace activists of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which killed more than 10 people and injured dozens. Many of the hundreds of activists, who were on the boats, are still imprisoned by Israeli security forces, awaiting their deportation. The flotilla was carrying 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other supplies to Gaza, which has been placed under siege by Israel since 2005 (with harsher restrictions since June 2007).
The siege, intended to isolate and debilitate Gaza, is a collective punishment of a civilian population of 1.5 million people. Since the siege has been placed, the Coalition of Women for Peace has been publicly denouncing it and calling for its immediate removal. The international community can no longer stand by – it must use any diplomatic and civilian means to pressure Israel to end the siege of Gaza, punish Israeli officials responsible for war crimes and end the occupation.
This Friday, the Coalition of Organizations against the Occupation and the Palestinian Popular Committees will hold a joint action to mark 43 years to the June 1967 occupation of Palestinian lands. 43 years of domination, oppression, segregation, settlement enterprise, theft of water and lands, military regime, restrictions on movement, house demolitions, political arrests, torture, war crimes and colonial expansion. In this action, we will call for Israel to remove the siege of Gaza, to end the occupation and to stop the separation between Palestinians and Israelis and between Palestinians and their lands. We call on our friends in the international community to hold solidarity vigils around the world – protesting the siege of Gaza, the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the deadly assault on innocent civilians, who tried to break the siege.
The Coalition of Women for Peace stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine and with heroic members of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Despite attempts by Israeli media and public officials to present a unanimous support for the illegal assault on international peace activists, thousands of Israelis have been protesting in the past few days against it.
Spontaneous demonstrations were held immediately after news of the brutal assault on the flotilla – in Haifa, Nazareth, Shefa-‘Amr and other cities in Israel. At the same time, 250 Israeli activists arrived at the Port of Ashdod, in an action organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace and other Israeli organizations, to protest the brutal killing and to voice their solidarity with the Flotilla and with the Palestinian people. On Monday evening, mass demonstrations were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Um-El-Fahem. The demonstrators called for international involvement to lift the siege of Gaza. More demonstrations are being held throughout this week across Palestine and Israel.
Prior to the deadly raid CWP published a public declaration in support of the flotilla:
We would like to share with you some of the voices of CWP members following the raid:
In a personal account of the Israeli resistance to the attack on the flotilla, Inna Michaeli, CWP’s Resource and Development Coordinator, writes: “Despite this attempt to silence criticism, there are many Israeli citizens that object to this massacre and demand accountability from those responsible. The official version of the military and government has very little credibility, especially after imposing an electronic blockade on attempts to document the raid. The international community has done so little to bring to trial those accountable for war crimes committed against the Palestinian people. Will other countries make more of an effort to intervene after crimes have been committed against their own citizens?”
You can read the rest of her account here.
Eilat Maoz, the General Coordinator of the Coalition of Women for Peace, said: “The killing of more than 10 activists is exclusively the responsibility of the State of Israel, and it was fully within Israel’s power to avoid the wasteful spilling of blood. The siege of Gaza and the pirate takeover by the Israeli Military of the Flotilla vessels – these are the real provocations. This atrocity must open the eyes of the international community to the crimes perpetrated by Israel.”
Areen Hawari, Balad activist, member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and a close person to MK Hanin Zoabi, who was on one of the vessels, said: “If this is what the State of Israel is capable of doing to peace activists, human rights defenders and members of parliament, then what is it capable of doing to civilians under military occupation? Now is the time to wake up the international struggle against the siege of Gaza and the occupation.”
Some interviews with CWP members in the international media:
The National – Israelis are Shocked but not Surprised
Maan News Agency – Israeli Activists Call for Ships to Enter Gaza
Christian Science Monitor – After Israeli raid, Freedom Flotilla aid starts to flow to Gaza
The Coalition of Women for Peace is currently working on additional local and international actions. Please contact us with your ideas, suggestions and information on actions you organize: email@example.com
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
It was a strangely familiar feeling: waking up in the morning to the news of 10 people killed by the Israeli military forces. Within minutes, the Coalition of Women for Peace and several other organizations issued a call for a demonstration to meet the members of the Free Gaza Flotilla, who were brought in to the port of Ashdod, and to protest the siege of Gaza and the killing of peace activists.
Soon after the arrival of the first activists to the scene, just south of the port, we spotted two silhouettes in the calm waters of the Mediterranean: A small, white ship, one of the ships of the flotilla, and a dark missile boat circling it. As the boats approached, we unwrapped two big signs banners with our message of solidarity: “FREE GAZA”.
Private vehicles began arriving and joining us on the beach. For the organized buses, which were bringing protesters from Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, reaching the site was more difficult. The bus from Tel-Aviv was stopped by the Israeli police and was allowed to pass only after our lawyer intervened and with a close escort by the police. The bus from Jerusalem was attacked by right-wing activists. Ultimately, everyone was able to gather at the beach, and more than 250 people stood with signs in support of the flotilla and in protest of the siege.
Thousands of protesters everywhere took the streets. Spontaneous protests took place in Haifa, Shefa-’Amr and other cities and towns. In the universities of Haifa, Tel-Aviv and Beer Sheva, students went out to protest. Mass demonstrations were organized later on Monday in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Um-El-Fahem and Haifa. I participated in the Tel-Aviv demonstration, where despite the short notice, more than a thousand people came to protest in front of the Ministry of Defense, demanding the release of the peace activists that were arrested and the immediate removal of the siege on Gaza. More demonstrations were organized on Tuesday in Jaffa and Haifa and the High Follow-Up Committee of the Arab citizens of Israel declared a general strike on that day.
The Israeli media repeated its familiar drill, highlighting a right-wing action of a dozen people with Israeli flags cheering to the army and dismissing thousands of local peace demonstrators. News flashes on “violent Arab riots” faithfully gave the Israeli public the impression that violent people simply decided to riot for no good reason, rather than Arabs and Jews acting upon their conscience and humanity.
The official version of the Israeli military and the government was embraced by the media with the usual readiness. Questioning “our” military is unpatriotic, as if questioning official versions is not the formal obligation of the media. In Israel, it simply doesn’t work that way. Phone calls we received from all the major TV channels in Israel and the interviews we gave to all the major newspapers were mostly unpublished, silenced by either the reporters or the editors.
Despite this attempt to silence criticism, there are many Israeli citizens that object to this massacre and demand accountability from those responsible. The official version of the military and government has very little credibility, especially after imposing an electronic blockade on attempts to document the raid. The international community has done so little to bring to trial those accountable for war crimes committed against the Palestinian people. Will other countries make more of an effort to intervene after crimes have been committed against their own citizens?
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
Friday, June 12th, 2009
SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN – A PLAY FOR GAZA was preformed yesterday in Tel Aviv in front of 200 people.
Caryl Churchill’s controversial play, SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN- A PLAY FOR GAZA, was staged in Israel directed by the Palestinian political prisoner Samieh Jabbarin. The play was preformed without a permit from the Israeli authorities in a busy public space – Rabin square, by Tel Aviv city hall, where thousands of people attended “The Hebrew book week” fair, which was visited the same evening by the president of Israel, Shimon Peres.
Hundreds gathered at 19:30 to watch SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN. The play was preformed 3 times – twice in Hebrew by accomplished Israeli theatre actresses and once in English by the US women-led peace organization, CODEPINK.
It was staged by the Coalition of Women for Peace and Jabbarin as part of 10 days of action against the siege on Gaza.
The performers received standing ovations- but the biggest cheers were reserved for the absent director, confined to house arrest in the town of Umm el Fahm.
Churchill wrote to Jabbarin and the Coalition saying she is “delighted to hear that Women for Peace are performing Seven Jewish Children as part of their protest about the siege of Gaza” and sending her best wishes and thanks to everyone involved.
Jabbarin, an actor, director and peace activist, was arrested on February 10th, on the day of Israel’s general elections, during a demonstration against the appointment of fanatic settler leader Baruch Marzel as a supervisor of the ballots in Jabbarin’s home town, Umm el Fahm. Following his arrest, Jabbarin was imprisoned awaiting a hearing for three weeks, and then committed to house arrest under extremely restrictive terms for an indefinite period of time. It is clear he was “marked” by the Israeli authorities for organizing and participating in peaceful protests again the attacks on Gaza – like several hundred Palestinian citizens of Israel who were arrested or interrogated during the political persecutions which highly increased during and after the assault on Gaza.
Jabbarin was delighted to undertake the challenge of directing and casting the play long-distance and under great pressure since he feels that “In SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN Churchill has achieved a beautiful artistic communication of a fundamental yet subversive truth: Profound pain has no home. Pain is pain is pain is pain. Pain is universally human.”
The cast of the production – two renowned Jewish theatre actresses – Sara Von Schwarze and Gabi Eldor and a young mime artist – Layla Batterman, and the famous actor Ramie Hoyberger- expressed their wishes to continue performing SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN as soon and as often as possible.
Professor Shimon Levy of the theatre faculty at Tel Aviv University and Play writer-director Uri Shani of translated SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN into Hebrew. The fabulous Arabic Calligraphy artist Anisa Ashkar designed the set, and the performance was accompanied by the talented saxophone player Dirar Kalash. All participants happily donated their talent and labor.
SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN- a PLAY FOR GAZA, described by the author as “A history of Israel” will be published in Hebrew and Arabic by the Coalition of Women for Peace. It will be distributed in the region free of charge.
The Play will be staged in Israel again in the very near future- as a subversive and thought provoking street theatre performance and in theatre halls. The Coalition of Women for Peace will publish and distribute the Hebrew and Arabic translations of SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN – free of charge.
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Today was another active and inspiring day for the participants of the Coalition of Women for Peace/CodePink Gaza Siege delegation. The morning started with the third and final action (for this delegation) at the Erez Border (a place that most participants hope will be the site of continued action, pressure and demonstration against the siege.)
Today’s demonstration was carried out in solidarity with a protest being held by Palestinians within Gaza against the siege. Around 300 Gazans protested on one side of the Erez crossing while another 80 or so Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals demonstrated on the other side. CWP and CodePink activists flew kites as high as they could in the hopes that they might be seen above the towering prison walls, and the activists on both sides of the wall kept in touch by mobile phone sending greetings and updating each other on the action.
There were a few families entering and leaving Gaza at the Erez crossing today and many of the international participants of the delegation had a chance to talk with these families about the restrictions placed on their travel and the conditions of the siege in Gaza. I spoke to two mothers who were taking their children to Tel Aviv to receive specialized medical treatment that is made unavailable to them by the siege. One mother was taking her very young daughter to a hospital in Tel Aviv to undergo a procedure for a severe heart ailment. As Ruhama Marton of Physicians for Human rights explained to the international delegation earlier this week, the siege imposed on Gaza has made diagnosing and treating serious medical conditions such as cancer a near impossibility and that Gazans who suffer with these ailments must go through the difficult process of applying for medical travel permits, only to have to pay a high premium in Israeli private hospitals to receive the care they need.
In addition to this economic exploitation, Israel also exploits the vulnerable position of ill Gazans by subjecting them to intense interrogation upon applying for the visa, entering and exiting Gaza, even trying to coerce them into collaborating with the illegal Israeli occupation – naturally making people who travel to Israel for anything but life-threatening illnesses suspicious in the eyes of the Palestinian resistance. I also spoke to a father who was travelling with his son to a clinic in Tel Aviv, bags packed with enough clothes for a few days and a few toys for his son, as well as a newly acquired pair of balloons given to them by one of our clown activists. I asked him how the situation was in Gaza currently, and he told me that the situation was a “zero” situation, that “we have zero materials, zero improvement and zero attention from the international community.” We talked about the movement against occupation that was growing in the US and Israel, the
countries most directly responsible for the crimes against the Palestinian people, and he said he hoped that the movement would continue to grow, and that a unified movement in Palestine would grow as well in concert.
In addition to flying several kites above the walls of the border crossing, the CodePink activists wrote greetings, blessings and messages of solidarity for the people of Gaza tying them with flowers and balloons to the border crossing fence, and handing some of them to Gazans returning home through the crossing. As the group was gathering at the fence, a woman and her elderly mother came through the crossing and were surprised to be greeted with a celebratory
welcome by a throng of activists chanting slogans of love, peace, solidarity and freedom, as well as media crew keen on capturing the scene. As border police and soldiers looked on curiously the group sang and chanted together in solidarity with one another and the people gathered just on the other side.
Following this action, members of the CodePink delegation headed to for a last-minute meeting with officials at the US Embassy Tel Aviv, the internationally recognized capital of Israel. While members of the delegation met inside, others gathered outside the embassy with cards and placards denouncing the US government’s role in supporting the illegal occupation and the illegal siege.
From the siege-centered actions of the day, the group shifted focus somewhat to that other significant aspect of the illegal occupation of Palestine, the continued expansion of West Bank settlements and the exploitation of Palestinian people and resources. US tax dollars are not the only source of revenue for the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, but so too are the profits reaped by corporations selling products produced on stolen land with stolen resources, often with captive labor. One such product is Ahava’s line of Dead Sea mud beauty products, Ahava ironically meaning love in Hebrew. While Gazans are unable to get vital food and medical supplies, Israeli companies exploit Palestinian natural resources from the Dead Sea to be sold as luxury items for tourists and international consumers.
To draw attention to the commercial aspects of the occupation and to officially call for a stepped-up international campaign against Israeli businesses profiting from occupation, CodePink targeted the Ahava spa at the Tel Aviv Hilton. Stripping down to their underwear, activist covered themselves in Ahava mud, writing “Say No to Ahava” on
their bodies and drawing attention to the dirty hands of the occupation. For twenty minutes inside the Hilton mall the activists chanted slogans against Ahava, as supporters, media, and curious onlookers gathered around and as security stood around at a loss of how to control these trouble-making, mud-covered women! Ahava was forced to shut their business doors, although the signs the activists had placed in the windows remained hanging. The group was pushed outside the mall where the demonstration and chanting continued for 20 minutes more, even as police arrived. Fliers were distributed to onlookers, a few shouting their disagreement. One woman shouted: “if you love Arabs so much, why don’t you go to Palestine?” – little did she know that that’s precisely what this delegation is trying to do by
getting into Gaza!
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Tuesday, 9.6.09 – Erez Checkpoint (10:00) / United States Embassy in Israel (12:30) / the entrance to the hotel Hilton Tel Aviv (15:00).
American organizations and Israeli peace activists will hold a series of protest actions against U.S. funding of the siege on Gaza and Israeli occupation.
1. Melting the fences / an Israeli-Gazan-American Demonstration to end the siege, on both sides of the Erez checkpoint. 10:00.
For the third and last time, a delegation of the American organization CodePink arrives today at 10 am, to run the last part of the current campaign “Freedom to Gaza”. They will demonstrate against the US funding of the siege and the attacks on Gaza, which are enduring the cycle of violence. On the other side of the Erez crossing, will be protesting in a “sister-demonstration”, women and men, residents of Gaza and activists of human rights organizations.
CodePink, CWP, and peace activist women from the south, will call to end the siege on Gaza, and to stop the US financing of the Israeli occupation army. They will also protest preventing – all through the last few days – the entry of playground facilities, food and essential goods to Gaza, brought by the American organization (See photos), and the total refusal to allow their entry to Gaza through Israel.
Simultaneously, on the other side of the crossing, hundreds of Gazans and Human rights activists will demonstrate demanding to remove the siege.
Kites and balloons will be flied above and beyond the Fortified walls and fences.
2. Obama Go to Gaza – 0$ to the army of siege and occupation / 12:30 in front of U.S. embassy
CodePink and CWP, will demonstrate in front of the American embassy in Tel Aviv, demanding to stop the U.S. funding the Israeli army of occupation, and the Israeli siege. They will also call George Mitchell to visit Gaza, and will invite Barak Obama, the US president, to Gaza strip so to witness by himself the destruction and the suffering caused by the assistance of billions of dollars flowing to Israel. A similar demonstration was held by CodePink in front of Cairo University during the speech of Obama.
The demonstrators, American and Israeli citizens, appreciate the positive change in the American adminstration, but demand that words turn into deeds grounded in reality. Israel can not continue to occupy the West Bank and impose the siege on Gaza without the $ 3 billion U.S. financial aid to the army. If Obama is truly interested in achieving peace, he should close the faucet and immediately stop funding the occupation and the siege.
3. Stolen Beauty / CodePink will launch a campaign against AHAVA – turning out of mud to the front of Hilton Hotel, 15:00
The money of American tax payers are not the only source of US support of Israel’s occupation. CodePink seeks to bring to conscience the fact that civil money flow to the occupied territories out of the pockets of consumer women from America. Therefore, CodePink will launch a consumer boycott campaign of the AHAVA products. This firm is run by the Dead Sea Laboratories, and it’s visitors center is located in Kibutz Mitzpe Shalem, in the occupied territories.
CodePink members will arrive to front of the prestigious Hilton hotel, in the “Independence garden” in Tel Aviv, where they will coat their bodies and faces with black mud, so to unfold the “dirty laundry” of AHAVA in front of the women visitors in the shop of the company, located in the hotel.
Later, they will hold a press conference outside the hotel, where they will announce the launching of the international Boycott campaign, and call the actress Kristin Davis, (Charlotte, in “sex and the city”) to cease promoting the AHAVA products.
Monday, June 8th, 2009
Less than a five minute car ride from the Erez Checkpoint, lies the city of Sderot, where bomb-shelters are more common than gas stations.
Across from the cinema lies the crowded open air community center that is furnished with bean bag pillows and padded benches; and as I pass by many people make eye contact and smile.
A plump 53 year old Russian immigrant who did not want to give her name smiled all the time as we conversed via my English-Hebrew-Russian speaking translator who introduced me as an American reporter wanting to know about life in Sderot.
She tells us, “America needs to we want peace on this planet. My destiny brought me to Sderot fifteen years ago and I don’t feel much different except the quassams make me nervous and anxious, but this is still a great place to live. I couldn’t find an apartment to rent anywhere when I arrived except in Sderot. There had been a huge Aliyah and only in Sderot could I find a place with an apartment to rent. The important thing is to have a roof over my head.”
During this reporters first trip to Jerusalem in 2005, I learned about Aliyah from an American who informed me, “My friends got so tired of me complaining about my political frustrations over the last election; they said, ‘If you don’t like it here, just leave!’ I had already been considering joining the Peace Corps, and when I got turned down because of a medical problem, I explored the possibility of going to Israel. I learned about, Aliyah, which means ‘going up,’ and the deal was hard to pass by. I get fifteen hundred shekels or about thirty-six hundred dollars a year in increments to help with my expenses. I can apply for unemployment benefits after seven months, as long as I look for a job. I just completed Ulpan, which was five hundred hours of Hebrew language immersion studies that took five months, five hours a day, for five weeks. I get subsidized rent and just moved out of the Absorption Center Projects. All the new immigrants get room, utilities, and three meals a day for the first five months in Israel. We also receive free medical care and all the doctors here are dedicated. We can go to the university with 100 percent of the tuition paid by the government. College is much cheaper here; it’s about three thousand to four thousand dollars a year. Until I am thirty years old, I can receive up to three years of education for my master’s degree.”
Fortuna, an affable widow with four children who have all moved away, migrated from Tunius to the colony in 1956, “It was all desert here, just a few mobile trailers were here. When I first came here there was nothing at all but sand and a few cheap house trailers, one medical clinic with one doctor, but no shopping at all.
“Eight years ago the quassams began coming and all I could do was think about the next one. Two years ago while I was in my bathroom one exploded in front of my house and I thought I was dieing. The explosion broke the glass windows but the municipality repaired it quickly.
“I am always waiting to hear ‘Zeva Adom-Zeva Adom’ [red alert-red alert] announcement that warns the rockets are coming at us. I am nervous all the time, I never leave my home and am only here today because my neighbor took me shopping and then brought me here. I am always afraid to go out of my house, but days like this it is like a party, everyone comes outside. The last rocket came over about a month ago and I am out here now only because my friends give me courage to come here and sit.
“I have not met any Arabs but there are a lot of them here. They are lucky the municipality lets them live and work here. There is an Arab neighborhood close by, but I do not know where it is and I never talk to any of them because I am afraid of them.
“The only way to stop the rockets are to annihilate all the Arabs in Gaza.”
With a broken heart and a deep sigh, I thank Fortuna for her time and wish her many more days like today. She smiles broadly and hugs me good bye.
Eileen Fleming is a feature correspondent for The Palestine Telegraph and Arabisto.com. She is the founder of http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author of KEEP HOPE ALIVE and MEMOIRS of a Nice Irish-American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory”
She produced “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu” because corporate media has been MIA all during a freedom of speech trial in Israel.
Monday, June 8th, 2009
The CWP and CODEPINK delegation headed to the Erez crossing for a second day of action against the illegal siege of occupied Gaza on Monday. A CodePink delegation representative once again presented to the Israeli border police the group’s intention to enter Gaza to bring in humanitarian relief (not to mention humor-itarian comic relief from the Clown Doctor – Patch Adams) for the besieged Palestinians as a gesture of international solidarity for their continued struggle.
Today’s action sought to highlight and counter the cruelty and ridiculousness of the siege with color and creativity. A mock border fence was erected at the base of the Erez crossing sign with activists representing the trapped Gazans and a soldier from the Clown Army guarding the fence, denying entrance to the forbidden goods, including light bulbs, coffee, tea, flour, chocolate, pumpkins, paper and concrete. A human convoy formed along the entrance to the crossing leading up to the mock-wall, with activists handing the forbidden goods down the line and passing them through the fence – representing the goal of the delegation: to break the siege. To the beat of pot and pan drumming the crowd chanted “1-2-3-4, open hearts and open doors! 5-6-7-8, stop the violence stop the hate”, “no justice no peace, we are here to end the siege,”and finally, “What do want? Coffee! When do we want it? Now!” with the chant repeating for each of the forbidden goods that were being passed. The human convoy then carried the goods in a procession in the road up to the border entrance, making a temporary shrine of the forbidden items at the closed gate, with teabags being tied to the links of the fence.
Following the action at Erez the delegation headed to Kerem Shalom, the crossing point into Gaza where what little humanitarian supplies and goods that are allowed entrance pass through by truck. Expecting to be promptly removed from the area by soldiers, the group rushed to the crossing with the mock fence and forbidden goods. Taken by surprise, the border guards did little to stop the action, and another human convoy was formed. Meanwhile, Patch Adams thumbed down rides in a symbolic effort to hitch-hike to Gaza! Much to every one’s surprise a car entering Gaza actually picked the Clown Doctor up and took him for a quick 30-second spin behind the border barrier, promptly returning him to the barrier entrance. The group constructed another temporary shrine at this border crossing, this time, in addition to teabags, balloons and pink scarves were tied to the fence. The activists even had time to reconstruct the play-set they had built the previous day at Erez. A humanitarian aid worker with previously arranged permission to enter Gaza was, following the action, able take the play set into Gaza as a small gesture.
Although the group has been denied the right to enter Gaza spirits are high for another day of action on Tuesday – particularly since a joint demonstration is being planned on the Palestinian side of the Erez crossing with hundreds of people, men and women, young and old, planning to attend.
Monday, June 8th, 2009
The besieged Gaza Strip is now globally known as: ”the biggest open-air prison in the world.” 1.5 million people are crowded in a confined and walled space they cannot leave – unless they receive a special permit from their jailors or a temporary pardon from a body that is NOT their chosen government.
The residents/prisoners of Gaza (over 750,000 of whom are children) are subject to the rules and edicts of the prison warden – the Israeli Ministry of Defense which decrees what goods and merchandise can be brought into the Gaza prison. The list of contraband items often changes according to the whim of all-powerful rulers – the Israeli security/defense forces. Among the latest items on the sanctioned list of essentials are: pumpkin, tea, coffee, chocolate, clothes and shoes, books, hair conditioner, wood, plates and glasses, furniture, light bulbs, toys, iron, cement, paper, candles and matches, sheets, blankets, musical instruments, animals, silverware, threads and needles, semolina, sesame/tahina, jelly/jam, nuts and fuel.
The Coalition of Women for Peace, and the international feminist organization Code Pink decided that the ‘black list” should be wiped clean. They will arrive today (Monday, June 8th) with the clown doctor Patch Adams and with boxes of contraband at the prison gates, the Erez checkpoint. We will ask the soldiers manning the checkpoint and their commanders to use their common sense and their sense of decency to allow the representatives of Code Pink to pass these harmless and vital goods to the “Red Crescent Society” in Gaza.
However, as of yesterday (Sunday) the army has refused the delivery into Gaza of playground facilities such as slides, swings, and kites, so it is apparent that this will not be a simple task. If the items cannot be passed through the regular channels we will be obliged to make use of the methods commonly used today to bring vitally necessary commodities into Gaza: by digging tunnels.
While working for active penetration, the precise nature of the location will be exposed by means of signs stating clearly “This is Gaza prison”.
After the disillusion we experienced today, we will make forceful and creative efforts to succeed in our goal to smuggle at least some of the forbidden goods into Gaza.
Contraband to Gaza Prison, Monday, June 8th, Erez checkpoint, 10:00 am.