Refusing to be Enemies

SJJP is co-sponsoring (with the Scottish Palestinian Forum) a meeting with Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta about her book “Refusing to be Enemies”, a study of non-violence in Israel-Palestine (signed copies of the book will be on sale at the meeting). Maxine is a Quaker Jew who lived in Jerusalem for seven years and has written widely on Palestinian and Israeli non-violent activism and related topics. The meeting is next Tuesday, 1st May, at 7:30pm at the Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2JL. Here is the flier for the meeting; it’s linked to a full-size printable PDF version:

The Palestinian Hunger Strike

A week ago today, a dramatic development took place in Israel/Palestine, almost unnoticed in the UK’s mainstream media. To mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on April 17th, 1200 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike in protest against the worsening conditions of their confinement. This is specially significant because it follows closely on two prisoner hunger strikes, that of the “administrative detainees” (the euphemism for people imprisoned without trial) Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, both of whom achieved significant concessions from the Israeli authorities, albeit almost at the cost of their lives. A further two administrative detainees, Bilal Diab and Tha’ir Khekhle, have now passed nearly 50 days of their strike—human beings can rarely survive more than 70 days without food. The situation is very well described in this post (now a week old) on +972 magazine.

There is a demonstration this Saturday in Edinburgh in solidarity with the prisoners. SJJP stands in support of their action. But a much bigger confrontation is now coming down the line; given the determination shown by the first four prisoners it seems likely that within thirty days or so, many hundreds of prisoners will be nearing death. It’s hard to see how the Israeli prison authorities will withstand their demands, but the prisoners will need all the support we can give them.

Yom haShoah

I went to the Holocaust Memorial Service in Princes Street Gardens on Thursday. As every year, this short service provided a moving contrast between the events it commemorates and its surroundings, an island of peace in the midst of the city. The sound of the trains passing along the line to Waverley a few metres away both connect us to the present and remind us of the grim role that the seemingly innocuous train played in the past. The participation of the Lord Provost reminds us how that, for all the problems, how solidly this society backs diversity and our participation in it.

From these thoughts, sombre but also comforting, it’s a shock—but, unfortunately, no surprise—to read this withering piece from Adam Keller of Gush Shalom, listing a few of the evictions and demolitions taking place on Yom haShoah by officers who, after following their painful orders, return home in time to listen to the sombre speeches of Israeli politicians and generals commemorating the Holocaust. Naturally, their version of “never again” involves a pre-emptive attack on Iran; what could follow more naturally? Keller skewers this hypocrisy with painful accuracy.