SJJP meeting 15th March 2015

We met a fortnight ago, for the first time in nearly two years. The atmosphere was very positive, with a lot of energy and determination to go forward. This entry provides a brief record of the meeting.

Barrie, as the current convenor, introduced newer members to the history of the group. The group has been active since 2004, but came together with its current supporters during the Lebanon War of 2006. We have good relations with our sister English group (and original inspiration) Jews for Justice for Palestinians. SJJP gets frequent invitations to speak at demonstrations and meetings. About 30 people are signatories to the SJJP statement—more than are active—which implies potential for much greater activity.

We then discussed immediate prospects for the group. The proposal before the meeting was to adopt a constitution (previously circulated) with the aim of transforming SJJP from a loose grouping into a membership organisation capable of handling funds and operating in a more organised way than has been possible until now. This was agreed, and detailed discussion of the constitution followed. The key issues were:

  • Whether SJJP should have a steering group. This had been opposed on the grounds of exclusivity; while appreciating the dangers of this, the meeting decided that the advantages outweighed them;
  • What the threshold should be for amending the constitution or the statement. The decision was to maintain the compromise proposed in the draft constitution (two-thirds of a meeting composing 10 members or 25% of the membership).
  • We agreed to call a meeting on May 17th to inaugurate the renewed group. Until then, our campaigning will be relatively limited, but we can increase our profile immediately:

  • Develop our presence on Twitter and Facebook;
  • Publish a fortnightly newsletter, together with regular posts to this blog, submitted by members as individuals.

Meanwhile we will continue with current campaigning activity, in particular joint actions with other members of the Scottish Palestinian Forum (though we can’t proceed with formal affiliation until we are constituted).

Winners and losers in the Israeli election

In responding to the Israeli election results, I’ve seen an almost complete disconnect between my friends in Edinburgh and the media commentators who I read and respect. Almost everyone I know is downcast at Netanyahu’s electoral victory and its predictable consequence—a continuation of the policies that have prolonged and worsened the occupation and all its miseries, including periodic wars (or, more accurately, massacres) in Gaza.

Even more depressing than the victory were the means by which it was achieved: Netanyahu’s last-minute total rejection of a Palestinian state and his openly racist calls to his supporters. It’s impossible to resist the conclusion that if this is how to win elections in Israel, Israel is clearly a right-wing country: a depressing conclusion indeed for liberal Zionists, or indeed for anyone hoping for real progress towards peace in the region. As the Magnes Zionist remarked:

This is not a state that is presided over by a unpopular tyrant. This is a state run by a very popular Jewish bigot, who gets elected by telling his supporters that there will be no Palestinian state, and that they must get out and vote in order to stop the Arab citizens of Israel “who are voting in droves.”

“This is your god, O Israel” Aaron said to the Israelites, as they worshipped the golden calf of bigotry, deceit, and self-centeredness.

Still, it’s not necessary to be totally downcast about the outcome. Here are three different lines of thinking about the result; while none is exactly cheering, each one contains an element of hope and encouragement. Continue reading Winners and losers in the Israeli election