Refusing to be Enemies — the meeting

The meeting on Tuesday was a great success. The first speaker was Lynn Leach, who was both amusing and moving on her experiences as a participant in the 2012 flytilla. Her strongest impression was that the Israeli authorities felt very threatened by the activists (who were entirely peaceful, and mostly not young). Their strongest fear seems to have been that their short hunger strikes might turn into something newsworthy—an ironic contrast to their current preparedness to gamble with the lives of 1200+ Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners. Lynn’s best story was of the police-cell toothpaste which they disdained to use for any purpose other than for writing slogans. When they had to clean these off, they were surprised to find how effective the toothpaste was as a paint-stripper!

Maxine was the main speaker, however. She covered a lot of ground: the relentless erosion of the Palestinians’ land and the long history of non-violence as a means of resistance. She talked about many of the personalities, both Israeli and Palestinian, who are prominent in the movement, and she analysed particular struggles, especially Bil’in and the struggle against the wall, and their perspectives for the future, along with consideration of non-violent strategies—like BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions)—available to us in Britain.

The library in the Quaker Meeting House (many thanks to them!) was full to overflowing with an audience of about 30 people. We sold ten copies of Maxine’s book Refusing to be Enemies, and got some very positive feedback. Here’s an example, which seems like a good summary of the evening:

Many thanks for organizing such a splendid meeting. Both speakers were terrific.

Many thanks are due to the Scottish Palestinian Forum for their assistance, both organisationally and financially, in making it happen.

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.

Malcolm Rifkind at the Edinburgh Literary Jewish Society

Sir Malcolm Rifkind came to talk to “The Lit” last Sunday about the Arab Spring. Given that he and I are rather far apart on the political spectrum, I enjoyed his talk very much and found surprisingly little to disagree with. I thought his cautiously enthusiastic assessment of the the Arab Spring was sensible. He played down fears of Islamic extremism, and saw the movements for democracy in a positive light. He was even able, as the local hero of the Hebrew Congregation, to get away with a quite unflattering comparison between Netanyahu and Salim Fayed (the Palestinian prime minister), and slipped in his opinion that the settlements are a (or the) major obstacle to a settlement that Israel itself desperately needs. So far, so uncontroversial. In fact, I think he may be taken as a representative of Foreign Office conventional wisdom, which makes his views on Iran all the more frightening.

Asked about Iran, he hedged his answer quite carefully. He first explained his understanding of the Iranian government’s intentions: that they want to be nuclear-ready: that is, stopping short of actual weapons production, but ready to produce weapons at short notice. His view was that the first decision that “we” should make is whether “we” would want to tolerate this situation. In case the answer is no and other pressures such as sanctions have failed to prevent it, his next question was “Is the military option viable?” He pictured an attack on Iran as needing to last several days in order to destroy its many widespread and well-protected nuclear facilities, a campaign which in his view would be beyond the capabilities of the IDF and would require American participation. For him, the important question is the military viability of such an attack; he showed little concern about coping with Iranian retaliation of various kinds.

Afterwards I took up with him the question of the morality of planning a pre-emptive attack on Iran. He wasn’t very concerned about this either; his calculations are all of a very practical kind. Although he did use the well-worn argument about nuclear-armed fanatics (Ahmedinejad), it wasn’t with much enthusiasm. His primary—and I believe genuine—concern was to do with a regional arms race. He believes that Iran’s accession to the nuclear club would be rapidly followed by Saudi Arabia’s and probably Turkey’s; with Pakistan already in possession and many other states in the region having the resources and ability to join, this is indeed a terrifying prospect. So I repeated a question he had been asked earlier: What about a nuclear-free Middle East region?

And this is where the rubber hits the road. His realistic view is that it’s futile to call for a nuclear-free region while Israel is known to be in possession of probably 400 warheads. And that Israel can’t be expected to give up her weapons in the absence of a general peace agreement. And, as he had replied earlier, that’s not going to happen while it is prevented by (among other things) the settlements issue. How does that sit with another remark of his that the Israel-Palestine conflict is not the central problem of the region? Well, the British government is currently following Sir Malcolm’s logic in preparing for a military adventure whose immorality and catastrophic consequences will exceed those of the Iraqi disaster. And that road is being followed because Israel’s unrelenting grip over the Palestinians cannot, it seems, ever be challenged.

The BBC “reports” on Iran

I have just listened to a report on the BBC Radio 4 programme The World At One, “discussing” the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan today. This is what I wrote:

I wish to complain about the coverage of Roshan assassination. I think it’s extraordinary that the only coverage that WATO provided of this murder of a civilian should be with a representative (Danny Yatom, ex-chief of Mossad) of the security establishment that very likely killed him. Is it now normal practice for the BBC to cover all murders by means of an extensive interview with the murderer, “questioning” him with gentle prompts from time to time to help him explore his self-justification? Or is this only to be reserved for murders committed by our prospective allies in a forthcoming pre-emptive war?

I regret missing out the word “dishonest” to describe Yatom’s justification of this crime (which I should also have described as “terrorism”, in line with the common use of this term to describe political assassinations of people we don’t like).

There is an Israeli/Palestinian relevance to this issue that goes beyond Israel’s probable involvement. I’ll explain it in a further post later.

Update (13th January)
The BBC (in the person of Mark Madden from the complaints department) have replied to my complaint as follows:

Thank you for contacting us about ‘The World at One’ broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 11 January.

I understand you feel coverage of the recent assassination of an Iranian scientist was biased as the only interviewee was a spokesman for Mossad, who you feel were responsible.

Impartiality is the cornerstone of all our news and current affairs output and we ensure all our correspondents and production teams are aware of this to help us deliver fair and balanced coverage for all the stories we report. Mr. Yatom retired from Mossad many years ago, indeed he left the job in protest at an assassination policy and does not support such actions. The perpetrators of this assassination have not been identified.

It is not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area. The BBC does not seek to denigrate any view, nor to promote any view. It seeks rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience. Among other evidence, audience research indicates widespread confidence in the impartiality of the BBC’s reporting.

Aside from the standard dissembling over the alleged involvement of Mossad (if this wasn’t taken for granted, why interview Yatom at such length about this particular incident?), and about balance (Mr. Madden obviously hasn’t been reading the Glasgow University Media Group’s quantitative evaluation of their “balance”) this reply contains such an extraordinarily bold lie (or total misunderstanding) as to totally discredit anything else in it. The idea that Yatom resigned in protest at an assassination policy is surreal in its inaccuracy: he was forced to resign as the result of the spectacular failure of a 1997 assassination attempt which he himself planned and oversaw. The climax of this fiasco was his public flight to Jordan carrying the antidote for the poison that his own agents had administered! The intended victim was Khaled Mashaal, now chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau.

As for the idea that Danny Yatom does not support assassinations, we have a relatively recent update of his opinions from this 2010 interview with Al Jazeera:

Al Jazeera: So Mossad carries out extra-judicial assassinations?
Yatom: The way I will refer to it is that whoever deals with terror should not enjoy any immunity.

Is Mark Madden’s reply an indicator of the BBC’s grasp of history and personality in the Middle East? If so, I want my licence fee back!

SJJP statement on the conviction of Paul Donnachie

Scottish Jews for a Just Peace notes with concern the outcome of the case against the St Andrews’ student Paul Donnachie in relation to the alleged complaint of Acting in a Racially Aggravated Manner against a fellow student Chanan Roziel Reitblat (contrary to the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 Section 50A). It would appear that Paul Donnachie’s protest was directed not against Chanan Reitblat as a Jew or indeed as a person, but against the political view that he espoused. We condemn the way that the Sheriff’s decision confuses the legitimate right to criticise the State of Israel with racism, and conflates Jewishness with support for Israel.

We are concerned that the Sheriff did not allow Jewish witnesses for the defence to be called to give evidence regarding the crucial distinction between Zionism – a political position of support for a Jewish state in Israel/Palestine – and Jewishness – a person’s religion or ethnicity.

Jews (religious or not religious) may or may not be Zionists, and even those who support the idea of a Jewish state may be critical of its government. Like any other group of people, Jews have a wide range of political opinion and to imply that Jewishness coincides with support for Israel is to make a racist assumption. The Israeli state is a political entity and does not act on behalf of Jews as a whole. For very many Jews the idea that they should be automatically associated with the Israeli state is deeply worrying, not just because it is inaccurate, but also because it is potentially dangerous. The Israeli government does not act in our name and we are not responsible for its actions.

Criticism of the political concept of basing a state around a single religious or ethnic group or of the actions of the Israeli state is wholly legitimate; and the ability to criticise a political position or a national government is a basic freedom that must be guarded tenaciously.

The Palestinian Gandhis

I’m currently at Limmud (huge conference on Jewish learning and culture) , which is a mixed experience for a Palestinian sympathiser. There’s plenty of discussion on Israel/Palestine, some of it indeed with Palestinians; today I listened to Walid Salem speak on Palestinian narratives to an audience whose numbers I thought encouraging until I heard the questions at the end. The high point of the day for me was a screening of Budrus, which I very strongly recommend if you get a chance to see it. It’s a brilliantly assembled documentary that follows the struggle, almost exclusively non-violent, to persuade the Occupation authorities to change the route of the Separation Wall so that the villagers of Budrus would not be left destitute of the livelihood provided by their olive trees. (This screening was also well attended, by an audience that was clearly shocked by the reality of occupation as shown in the film.)

The Budrus struggle was ultimately successful and gave a lot of encouragement to other non-violent resistance against the Occupation. At the end of that film, and more markedly since then, the authorities have been stepping up their violence and repression against activists. The indispensable Jerry Haber (the Magnes Zionist) documents this trend and points to the case of Abdallah Abu Rahmah. This report (in the Jerusalem Post, of all papers) is a first-class account of the court hearing in which Rahmah was sent back to prison on the completion of his one-year sentence for leading a demonstration that the army had labelled “illegal”. Although Franz Kafka’s byline is missing from the report, there is no mistaking his handiwork: Rahmah is currently serving time awaiting the military prosecutor’s appeal against the clemency of his original sentence. And the appeal could take up to two year to present… As Jerry Haber says, “Where are the ‘Palestinian Gandhis’? In Israeli jails – for acting according to their principles of non-violence.”

[UPDATE, 19th March 2011]: Press release from Friends of Freedom and Justice Bilin:

After much delay, Abu Rahmah who was supposed to have already been released yesterday, was finally released from the Ofer Military Prison this evening. He was received by hundreds who waited for him at the prison’s gate.

Abu Rahmah, who during his trial was declared a human rights defender by the EU and a prisoner of conscious by Amnesty International, vowed to continue struggling against the Occupation, despite his unjust imprisonment and the six-months suspended sentence still imposed on him. He said, “On my release, I have no intention to go back home and sit there idly. In fact, by imprisoning me they have silenced me long enough. Our cause is just, it is one striving for freedom and equality, and I intend to continue fighting for it just as I have before”.

Young, Jewish and Proud

If you haven’t yet seen the Young, Jewish and Proud declaration, you really should take a look. It was launched as counter-protest at the 2010 Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans, where a number of phenomenal young activists disrupted Netanyahu’s speech to shout “The Occupation delegitimizes Israel”. There’s lots more information at their site, but the statement is truly inspirational.

It opens:

We exist. We are everywhere. We speak and love and dream in every language. We pray three times a day or only during the high holidays or when we feel like we really need to or not at all. We are punks and students and parents and janitors and Rabbis and freedom fighters. We are your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren. We embrace diaspora, even when it causes us a great deal of pain. We are the rubble of tangled fear, the deliverance of values. We are human. We are born perfect. We assimilate, or we do not. We are not apathetic. We know and name persecution when we see it. Occupation has constricted our throats and fattened our tongues. We are feeding each other new words. We have family, we build family, we are family. We re-negotiate. We atone. We re-draw the map every single day. We travel between worlds. This is not our birthright, it is our necessity.

Bolds original. Check it out.

Press Release on the Jewish Boat to Gaza

This went to the Scottish newspapers (Herald, Dundee Courier) today (we sent a similar letter to the Scotsman):

Jewish Boat to Gaza boarded by Israeli forces and taken toward Ashdod port – press release issued 28 September, 2010

(This boat is cosponsored by the British Organisation Jews for Justice for Palestinians and has been actively supported by SJJP)

The Irene, a boat carrying nine passengers and aid for Gaza’s population has been taken over by the Israeli navy and denied access to Gaza.

The boat is flying a British flag and its passengers include citizens of the US, the UK, Germany and Israel. Two journalists are also on board.

Last contact with the boat’s captain, Glyn Secker, was at 0937 GMT, when their path had been cut off by a Destroyer. Recent reports from other news sources indicated that the boat has been surrounded and boarded. At this point they were less than 20 miles from Gaza’s shore. Since then all phones went dead.

The occupied Gaza Strip’s territorial waters end 12 nautical miles from shore, but the Israeli blockade is enforced at 20 miles from shore.

Israeli attorney Smadar Ben Natan who is representing the passengers has asked to see her clients immediately.

Local group “Physicians for Human Rights-Israel” has asked for permission to send an independent doctor to visit the passengers immediately, after hearing from organizers that at least one passenger suffers from serious chronic health problems and is in need of medical care.

Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, has condemned the Israeli army’s apparent action and said that this boat and its fate are a symbol of the chances for peace in the region. The way it is being treated by Israeli authorities indicates that they have no real intentions of reaching peace, he said. He called for worldwide support for the boat and its message of protest against the siege of Gaza and the occupation.

This tiny vessel is sailing under a British flag and is carrying a cargo of symbolic aid for the trapped people of Gaza–children’s toys and text books, musical instruments, water coolers, nets for Gaza’s fishermen.

All bar one of the people on board are Jewish. Two are British citizens, one is German, one American and the rest are Israeli. Two are very elderly and frail–one was taken as a baby as a refugee from Germany in the late 1930s while another survived the war in a horrific Rumanian ghetto and then emigrated to the new Israeli state. Yet another passenger is a leading member of the highly respected Jewish/Palestinian reconciliation group, the Bereaved Families Forum, which brings together people from both communities who have lost close relatives in the conflict.

The organisers have chosen to locate the mission on such a very small boat in order to emphasise the symbolic nature of the journey. In addition, from the outset, they made it clear that passengers and crew would not engage in any physical confrontation and would not present the Israelis with any reason to use physical force. These principles have been strictly observed.

They are now extremely concerned for the well being and safety of all on board, and are asking the British Government:

  • to provide full consular support to the British citizens on board–Glyn Secker, retired social worker and the Jewish captain, and Vishal Vishvanath, who is a photojournalist;
  • to urge the Israeli Government to release everyone as soon as the boat reaches dry land;
  • to make it clear that Her Majesty’s Government supports the message of the boat, passengers and crew; that the siege of Gaza should be lifted and Israel should engage in genuine negotiations with all the elected representatives of the Palestinian people so as to achieve a just and lasting peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.

Raja Shehadeh

Raja Shehadeh, author of Strangers in the House and Palestinian Walks, spoke at the Edinburgh Book Festival at the launch of his new book A Rift in Time, in which he follows his great uncle’s flight from the Ottoman police during the First World War. Shehadeh was an extremely engaging speaker, not at all polarising but clearly very committed, and “politics” didn’t appear in the talk until the very end, in answer to a clumsy question about identifying and encouraging Jews who support Palestinian rights. Shehadeh’s answer was very simple: “I‘m not at all surprised that Jews support Palestinian rights; it seems completely natural to me”. How encouraging to encounter such positive expectations! I’m really looking forward to the book.

Demonstration 5 June 2010

SJJP marched in Edinburgh yesterday, protesting the siege on Gaza and the killing of activists who were taking humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza. The demonstration started at the foot of the Mound at 2 pm, and we marched along Princes Street to the US Consulate, and then to the First Minister’s house, where we stopped briefly for speeches. Then we marched back to the foot of the Mound for the rally. It was a fantastic turnout, and heartening to see so many groups out to show solidarity.

The BBC coverage of the demonstration is available here, and is reporting a turnout of 3,000, although on-the-day counts were nearer 5,000. There was also a demonstration in London yesterday, with attendance between 2,000 and 5,000, but we heard reports of 20,000. Both the Edinburgh and London marches were peaceful.

We handed out this leaflet (pdf) at the Edinburgh demonstration.


Waking up to the morning news today, I thought of a D’var Torah from a couple months back, written by Rabbi Michael Shire of Leo Baeck College for Parsha Vayikra:

How can we say anything in the face of daily outrages on all sides [in the regions of conflict around the world]? Why should we commit ourselves when our families are relatively safe? The world is so politically complicated – how can we know what is right or fair or just? As we feel more and more isolated, it is precisely the time to become more engaged not less. Regaining the prophetic message is to open the possibility of encounter and negotiation yet one more time. We have to be dedicated to our task of peacemaking in as strong a way as those who go to war.

…Mark Ellis, an American Jewish Activist reminded the Rabbinic conference last year that though Jews perform many good deeds in the world, the Jewish people will be judged on how we treat the Palestinians. This is our particular trial and we will be counted for it whether we like it or not. It must therefore be our prophetic task, especially as Liberal Jews to take the risk, reluctant though we may be to meet, dialogue and be ready to be challenged by those who have suffered at our hands and now seek justice. In the words of one of the great modern Jewish prophets, Abraham Joshua Heschel, ‘in a free society, some are guilty but all are responsible.’ To do nothing is to abrogate our calling. For, as Heschel wrote in the 1960s, ‘the opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference’.

I’m not sure that I like all the vocabulary Rabbi Shire uses, but I think he’s right to emphasise that we all have a responsibility to work for justice, and that we have a particular responsibility for the welfare of Palestinians. And as complicated as some political situations may be, the basics are very simple: everyone is entitled to food, to shelter, to medical care. It is a communal responsibility to provide these, to stand up for those who provide them.

This isn’t about Israel’s right to defend itself, which I do not dispute. This is about the means by which Israel may legitimately defend itself. It is not legitimate for Israel to “defend” itself from humanitarian aid, and in such a violent way. It is not legitimate for Israel to claim that it has disengaged from Gaza while maintaining control of the supplies that enter Gaza, effectively cutting off food and medical supplies.

The BBC has extensive coverage:
A Q&A on the flotilla
UN urges inquiry
Conflicting accounts of the raid

SJJP condemns Israeli attack on Gaza relief flotilla

SJJP today issued the following statement:

Scottish Jews for a Just Peace join with thousands across Scotland and the world in condemning Israel’s brutal attack in international waters on the international aid convoy that was headed for Gaza. Despite Israel’s cynical attempts to control the news, this can only be understood as a massacre committed by Israeli forces This international convoy was carrying vital aid to the besieged people of Gaza. It included thousands of pounds worth of medicines, clothes, toys and building materials donated by people across the world, including citizens of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. The goods being carried by the ships are all things that the Israeli government has denied the people of Gaza in a collective punishment that has turned the Gaza Strip into a giant prison camp. The flotilla is the result of international outrage at what is happening and included 800 politicians and activists from 40 countries, including 25 EU Parliamentarians. We hope that this flagrant attack will bring the Israeli government the condemnation it deserves, including from within Israel itself.

SJJP members will be joining the demonstrations across Scotland today protesting against the Israeli action.

How the Settlements Grow

I don’t normally just link to other people’s posts, but I couldn’t pass this up. If you have ever wondered where the land comes from for the illegal settlements, this video will help you understand, though it won’t make you any happier. It’s ten minutes long, and well worth watching. If you don’t have ten minutes to spare, here is the original Real News Network post, which has a transcript and a speaker bio (video there begins with a short donations appeal).

Antonine Friendship Link

I went to Falkirk last night (yes, it’s an exciting life in SJJP) to speak at a meeting of the Antonine Friendship Link. To quote from their website:

Falkirk was chosen as our venue because of the proximity of the remains of the Antonine Wall, a Roman wall which once crossed Scotland – a wall whose remains demonstrates the futility of military occupation and wall building.

The AFL have established links with Jayyous, and by lucky chance last night’s meeting was in fact attended by a family from Jayyous. They had asked me to speak about SJJP and my personal perspective rather than about the situation in Israel/Palestine (just as well; I’m sure many people in the room were more knowledgeable than me). I described how solidarity with Palestinians has gradually gained momentum amongst Jewish people during the last decade or so. There was a lot of interest and sympathy in the room (and I was quite successful in turning away attempts to fit me into some kind of heroic resister’s mould, pretty ridiculous to anyone who knows me). I’m starting to get an impression of many small grass-roots groups, scattered across Scotland, working inconspicuously to build links and support Palestinian communities. Someone suggested to me recently that the historic ties of the Scottish churches with “The Holy Land” lies behind a lot of this—certainly, one always sees church people (usually Church of Scotland) at these events.

Mohammad Othman released

Mohammad Othman and Jamal Juma’, the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, have been released from prison, after spending respectively four and one month in administrative detention. No charges were made against either man. Amnesty International recognised them as prisoners of conscience, detained for their political opposition to the Wall.

Update: Showing how effective individual campaigns can be, the American campaign group Jewish Voice for Peace say:

Thanks to you, we generated over 10,000 emails to US President Obama, and over 2,200 emails to the US Consulate in East Jerusalem complaining about the arbitrary detention of Mohammad Othman. You helped up flood the US State Department with phone calls as well.

They quote Stop The Wall at length (as I should have done) about Jamal’s release, which obviously rings true for Mohammad Othman too:

Jamal Juma’, the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign has been released yesterday evening after a month long detention in Israeli jails. He had been called for interrogation and then arrested on December 16. Yesterday, the military court decided for Jamal’s release.

Like for the other Palestinian human rights defenders in Israeli jails, there was never a case in the courtroom. Not a single charge has been put forth. The reason for his arrest was purely political – an attempt to crush Stop the Wall and the popular committees against the Wall. Therefore, the reasons for his release are also outside the courtroom: The impressive support of international civil society has moved governments and used the media to an extent that made his imprisonment too uncomfortable.

This international solidarity has given our popular struggle against the Wall further strength. We are deeply thankful for all the efforts.

Yet, the latest arrests and continuous repression show that we have not yet defeated the Israeli policy as such, as Israel remains determined to silence Palestinian human rights defenders by all means.

We therefore need to ensure that the campaign for the freedom of all anti-wall activists and Palestinian political prisoners continues to grow. We have to combine our energies to ensure that the root cause – the Wall – will be torn down and the occupation will be brought to an end.