Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jane Hirschmann of “Jews Say No!” Says “No!” to Israel’s Gaza Policy

In November 2008, the ceasefire ended—Israeli soldiers broke it in a cross-border raid killing six members of Hamas. In response, rockets were launched into Israel, so Israel, fortified with American weaponry, attacked the people of Gaza. Approximately 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed compared to 13 Israelis. Gaza was pulverized. Judge Richard Goldstone and his team reported there was no doubt that the people of Gaza were disproportionally affected.

Right after the invasion in Gaza I became one of the organizers of “Jews Say No!” in New York City. We wanted to make clear that the Israeli government did not speak in our name as they claimed. I began reading about the occupation, settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the building of the separation wall, Jewish-only streets for Israeli settlers, special identity papers for Palestinian citizens of Israel—one step away from wearing a yellow star—and the other indignities endured by the people of Palestine on a daily basis. And I saw the total collusion by the US government—its unconditional support no matter what the Israeli government did, including giving them 30 billion dollars over a 10-year period for weaponry—F16s, Apache helicopters, white phosphorus, Caterpillar bulldozers used to destroy homes in Bedouin encampments—used ruthlessly against the Palestinians. This was intolerable for me.

I understand the fears and frustrations of Israelis being fired upon by rockets and the resultant deaths and injuries. But what about the thousands of Palestinians being killed and whose homes, schools, hospitals, farms, mills, factories and infrastructure are being destroyed? What about a people living under a brutal occupation who are being denied the right to live with dignity in their own homeland? The siege and blockade of Gaza continue. The Israeli government controls the land, sea and air of this small area (25 miles long and roughly six miles wide) where 1.6 million people live.

Lightly edited extract from Counterpunch. Jane Hirschmann is a member of “Jews Say No!” in New York City and one of the national organizers of the US Boat to Gaza. Hirschmann has been active in anti-war efforts for the past four decades. She is a psychotherapist and the co-author of three books. More information about the The Audacity of Hope is available at www.ustogaza.org.

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