Judith Robbins judy at robbinsandrobbins.com
Tue Dec 22 11:54:04 EST 2009



[BLUE HILL--To mark the one-year anniversary of the 22-day Israeli  
attack on Gaza, a contingent from 42 countries will join the people  
of Gaza in a three-mile nonviolent march to the Erez border with  
Israel. In solidarity with this march, a march will begin at noon in  
Blue Hill on Dec. 30. The march calls for an end to the continued,  
illegal blockade of Gaza, which denies Palestinians materials to  
rebuild their homes and schools, restricts the import of seedlings  
for farmers and medical equipment for hospitals, and means that most  
of the 1.5 million people of Gaza lack safe drinking water.  
Palestinians are denied their right to move freely in and out of a 35- 
mile-long stretch of land.
     The march is a call to uphold international law in the occupied  
Palestinian territories, which has declared the Wall illegal, the  
settlements illegal, the checkpoints illegal, the house demolitions  
illegal, the destruction of farmland illegal, and the detentions of  
fishers illegal. Harvard University scholar, Sarah Roy, has written  
that the siege “is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely  
by Israel, but with the active complicity of the international  
community, especially the U.S. and European Union.” The march in Blue  
Hill is a call for a just and lasting peace. The march, sponsored by  
Peninsula Peace & Justice, will begin on High Street, near the  
elementary school. Info: 326-4405, www.gazafreedommarch.org.]


Published on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 by Inter Press Service
Gaza March Puts Spotlight on Civilian Suffering

by Andrea Bordé
UNITED NATIONS - More than 50,000 people are expected to take to the  
streets of Gaza on Dec. 31 for a mass march designed to send a  
message to the United States, a key supporter of Israel's army, that  
the situation in Gaza violates international human rights laws.

The idea behind the "Gaza Freedom March" comes from CODEPINK, a  
women's peace group committed to drawing attention to the  
humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories, among  
other campaigns.

Organisers say the main catalyst for the mobilisation was the  
Goldstone Report, commissioned by the United Nations and written by  
renowned South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

The 575-page report, released in September, detailed gross human  
rights violations and war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas  
in Gaza during the Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009 conflict.

However, it was particularly critical of Israel, calling the military  
campaign "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish,  
humiliate, and terrorise a civilian population, radically diminish  
its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself,  
and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and  

It also described Israel's longstanding economic blockade of Gaza a  
form of "collective punishment" against the population and cited a  
number of attacks on civilian targets during the operation for which  
there was "no justifiable military objective".

"I think we have to recognise that the importance of the Gaza Freedom  
March as a way of drawing attention to the blockade is crucial," said  
Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for  
Constitutional Rights, at a news conference to announce the march  
last week.

"But what really changed here is the world's understanding of what's  
really happening in the occupied territories in the West Bank, and  
Gaza, and in East Jerusalem," he said.

The three-mile march from Gaza to the Erez Crossing in Israel intends  
to bring together 51,350 people from 43 nations, of whom 50,000 are  
Palestinians. Each participant has signed a code of conduct  
committing to non-violence during the march.

Ratner said he plans to attend with his family, who he said want to  
show solidarity as Jewish Americans with the people of Gaza.

"I want to break the blockade, I want to see the damage done by the  
weapons from my tax dollars, and I want it understood: Israel does  
not kill in my name. I want to follow words with action, and that's  
why me and my family are going to Gaza," he said.

Currently, the U.S. gives about three billion dollars per year in  
military aid to Israel, he added.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and also a Jewish American,  
has visited Washington numerous times to lobby for a reduction in  
aid. She hopes the march will influence the way the international  
community had responded to the attacks on Palestinian civilians.

"I think it's a recognition that Israel can no longer hide under the  
idea that it somehow is exceptional, that it can create and engage in  
gross violations of internationally recognised human rights, and do  
so with impunity. It can't continue to impose collective punishment  
on the people of Gaza. It can't deliberately attack civilians," said  

"The fact that so many people around the world are coming really  
gives heart and inspiration to the people in Gaza that shows that  
they have not been forgotten," she said.

Benjamin said that the participants come from diverse backgrounds,  
including civil society activists, students, university professors,  
members of trade unions, business people, people from refugee  
communities, women's organisations and journalists, among many others.

"We [even] have people in their seventies and eighties. Quite a large  
portion of the people are of Jewish decent. One is an 85 year-old  
Holocaust survivor," said Benjamin.

Benjamin equated the situation in Gaza to historical struggles for  
human rights throughout the past century.

"We are doing this in the spirit of Martin Luther King, of Mohandas  
Gandhi, of Nelson Mandela, of non-violent resistance worldwide," she  

Abdeen Jabara, a member of the Steering Committee for the Gaza  
Freedom March, also compared the struggles of African Americans for  
civil rights during the 1950s to Palestinians today, emphasising the  
importance of non-violent, peaceful resistance.

"For centuries, black people in America suffered from segregation,  
but it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was  
peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of  
America's founding," said Jabar. "We fervently hope that this effort  
in some small way could break the siege, [and] will register in DC,  
and the other capitals of the world."

The Goldstone report has been affirmed by both the U.N. Human Rights  
Council and the General Assembly.

However, Israel dismissed it as biased, and U.S. Ambassador to the  
U.N. Alejandro Wolff also rejected the report as "deeply flawed" and  

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last month to  
condemn the report, as well.

According to statistics compiled in 2008 by the United Nations Relief  
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), there are 1,059,584  
refugees in living in impoverished conditions in Gaza. The blockade  
has created a situation where often even basic supplies of medicine  
and food cannot pass through Israeli checkpoints.

The hope of CODEPINK is that the Gaza Freedom March will create  
vibrations throughout the world, and especially in the U.S., to stop  
these gross human rights violations from occurring and to end its aid  
to Israel once and for all.

"Israel has no place to hide," said Jabara.

© 2009 IPS North America

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/12/22-7
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