Letter re: Bart Jessup’s Dec. 10 letter about Canadian support for the policies of Israel

Monday, December 17 2012

“What would happen if you built a place of refuge for a persecuted people in a place where another people lived?”
That is what happened when Israel was created. But today, that question is being asked in a seven-minute video by Jewish Voice for Peace, the largest US-based grassroots organization dedicated to promoting full equality, democracy and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians.
The video explains, with me adding details that in May 1948, one group of refugees found a home, but in the process, a new group of refugees was created: more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven out by the Israeli army. This is because Israel was founded as a Jewish state. But what was created was institutional discrimination against non-Jews. The Israeli government wants maximum land and resources for Jews, but not for the Palestinians who lived there.
That’s why inside Israel, Jews get special privileges, including rights to land and housing, that are denied to others.
Israel has held on to land they conquered in a 1967 war, referred to as the Occupied Territories (the West Bank and Gaza). Since then, Israel has built 121 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, while imprisoning the residents of Gaza. When Jews everywhere celebrate the founding of the state of Israel every year, to the Palestinians it is The Nakba, the catastrophe.
Military occupations are meant to be temporary, but after 40 years, this one looks permanent, and entirely unjust. Jewish settlers dominate the natural resources, including water and agricultural land, and they are backed by the Israeli army. To maintain the occupation, Israel has inflicted collective punishment on Palestinians. They have demolished more than 18,000 Palestinian homes, confiscated Palestinian land, uprooted or ruined tens of hundreds of olive trees (food and livelihood) destroyed water systems and fishing boats, bombed the civilian population of Gaza, and punished resistance with raids, arrests and assassinations. This is all done to gain maximum land, while making life so difficult for Palestinians (no freedom of movement because of more than 600 checkpoints in the OT, with “permits” required to travel) that they would either leave or be too afraid to resist.
Imagine if this were your life, summed up on a recent sign in Palestine: “You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bomb my country, starve us all, humiliate us all, BUT I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.”
Sadly, innocent civilians are killed in the fighting. The Palestinian response to decades of collective punishment has been homemade rockets and deplorable suicide bombings. It is impossible to imagine life in Palestine, wondering if an Israeli F-16 will bomb your village. 
It’s no wonder that informed citizens everywhere are demanding human rights for the Palestinians, and pressuring Israel to end the occupation.
~ Tsiporah Grignon

Bart's letter from Dec. 10