Letters to the Editor

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ISRAEL: No excuse for human rights abuses

Letter by Bernice L. Youtz, Tacoma on July 26, 2010 at 11:45 am with 3 Comments »
August 4, 2010 9:18 am

Re: “Co-op boycott ignores rights reality” (letter, 7-23.

Surely the writer did not mean to suggest that because Libya and Saudi Arabia commit human rights abuses that it is OK for Israel to do so. Should not Israel, “our friend and ally” to whom we give $3 billion a year, have higher standards?

The Olympia Food Co-op, in its boycott of products from Israel, is not likely to have much influence in “destroying the legitimacy of Israel,” as Warnick asserts. The Israeli government may be doing a better job of that. The Palestinian child who has seen his home demolished by an Israeli bulldozer, seen his parents humiliated, perhaps jailed or murdered by Israeli soldiers, may not grow up to be a docile vassal of Israel.

The population of Jews and non-Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is now almost equal. I wonder why Israel persists in actions, no matter how they excuse them, which cannot but make enemies of the very people with whom they are doomed to live.

There are Israelis concerned about human rights: the Israeli organization, B’Tselem, which investigates and tallies abuses, and Professor Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University, who early on called for a boycott of Israel as a means for the nation “to save its own soul.” Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights and Jeff Halper of Israelis Against House Demolitions seem to be all too aware of abuses against the Palestinian population.

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  1. Chance_Kroll says:

    Here is a list of the more than 1600 people and organizations that have signed on in support of the Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli Goods:

    Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
    Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, one of Washington Post’s 50 Top Rabbis in the US
    Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, and author of The Shock Doctrine
    Richard Falk, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories
    Anthony Arnove, co-author of Voices of a People’s History of the United States, and author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
    Paul Kivel, violence prevention educator
    Ann Wright, US Army colonel (retired ready reserve), former State Dept. official, recipient of the State Dept. Award for Heroism, survivor of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
    Cindy Corrie, founder of Rachel Corrie Foundation, and mother of slain Palestine peace activist Rachel Corrie
    Roger Waters of Pink Floyd
    Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODE PINK and Global Exchange
    Joel Kovel, psychiatrist and writer
    Cindy Sheehan, peace activist, and mother of Private Casey K.I.A. in Iraq
    Rabbi Alyssa Wise
    Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate
    John Berger, author of G and Ways of Seeing, and Booker Prize winner
    Yonatan Shapira, Israeli Air Force Captain and co-founder of Combatants for Peace
    Tariq Ali, writer, filmmaker, commentator, editor of New Left Review
    Iraq Veterans Against the War, Fort Lewis
    Iraq Veterans Against the War, National
    International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Los Angeles
    Jews Say No!, New York
    American Jews for a Just Peace
    Women in Black, Los Angeles
    Working Group on the Middle East of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Coalition of Women for Peace, Israel
    International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Toronto
    Women in Solidarity with Palestine, Toronto
    Not In Our Name (NION) Jews Opposing Zionism, Canada
    Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, United Kingdom
    Jews Against Zionism, London
    Not in our Name, Argentina
    Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Near East, Austria
    Rete ECO: The Italian network of Jews against the Occupation, Italy
    French Jewish Union for Peace, France
    Industrial Workers of the World, Olympia Chapter

  2. 2. Israel is committing crimes against humanity in its ongoing, illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and perpetuation of an apartheid system. Massive Israeli violence against civilians has only increased in recent years. International pressure has proven insufficient to change Israeli policies.
    3. Boycott is a moral, nonviolent strategy for change. It is a campaign in which ordinary citizens throughout the world can make their voices heard.
    4. It is not effective to boycott only Israeli products from the illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, as the Israeli and settlement economies are completely integrated, and crimes against Palestinians occur within Israel as well as within the occupied territories.
    5. Boycott is not a form of punishment of the Israeli Jewish population; rather, it is consumers’ organized refusal to support the Israeli economy as long as Palestinians, both in Israel and the Occupied Territories, are subject to an all-encompassing system of discrimination.
    6. Include parts of your testimony from the 8/12 forum at the Olympia Center.
    7. If you are Jewish it is especially important to challenge the assumption of Tacoma News Tribune and The Olympian that certain groups speaks for the South Sound Jewish Community. It’s actually very diverse and does not hold a monolithic view on Palestine and Israel or the boycott.
    8. Make a reference to the resources on the Olympia BDS site, such as the video statement by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb in support of the boycott, and the letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Reference Phan Nguyen’s oped in The News Tribune.
    9. From Rochelle Gause’s email prior to the Olympia Center event:
    “The co-op has a specific boycott policy that we have been following to the tee for 2 years, a policy designed to help the co-op remain true to its mission statement of encouraging economic and social justice. Human rights abuses are happening daily, there are no words for the reality on the ground and we truly are responsible with our tax dollars, at the price tag of $940,000 from Olympia alone to Israel each year… The boards decision has not prevented any discussion, in fact, I believe it has started a much needed dialogue in our community.
    “Boycott has proven successful in so many situations in the past, from the Montgomery Bus boycott for civil rights, to the Grape boycott for farmworkers rights. And recently a South African delegation traveled to Palestine and returned calling for boycott of Israel saying some of the conditions they saw were worse than under South African apartheid. It is time to act!”

    Additional information

    * The Olympia BDS website
    * Why Boycott? From the Co-op website.
    * Steve Niva’s article about the co-op boycott.
    * Linda Frank’s letter to the editor in support of the boycott.
    * More letters on the subject
    * FAQ about boycott from IMEU, The Institute for Middle East Understanding
    * 2-page Olympia BDS flyer about boycott
    * And the Palestine Solidarity Seattle website page on boycott

    Additional Reminders in Regards to Letters to the Editor

    * Please write even if you only have time for a brief note. Numbers count. If you are not published, you will be helping someone with a similar viewpoint get into print.
    * The word limit for letters that are intended for publication is 250. Shorter letters are generally easier for papers to publish.
    * Begin your letter with a reference to the title and date of the article or opinion piece to which you are responding. Example: “Re: Olympia co-op boycott debate cordial, passionate”
    * Personal experiences and/or qualifications, when relevant, can be helpful in establishing your authority. However, you can also establish your authority by writing factual, logical, respectful letters. When possible, include a reference to your source, such as, “according to the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem,…”
    * Don’t try to respond to every problem with the piece in question. Just pick one or two points to concentrate on.
    * Don’t forget to include your full name, street address and contact phone numbers. The paper needs these to verify that you are actually the author. Only your name and city will appear in print.
    * Please be courteous.

    Thanks for all your support, and thanks for listening!

    Olympia BDS

  3. Ali Abunimah on… “Boycott: A Nonviolent Technology for Peace and Justice in Palestine/Israel”

    Tuesday, August 31, 7-9 pm, The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia NW

    For all the dialogues, discussions, and debates around the Olympia Food Co-op’s recent boycott of Israeli goods, one party’s voice has been shamefully excluded — that of Palestinians. Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, is one of the most prominent Palestinian-American commentators on the Israel/Palestine conflict. He is coming to Olympia to explain why boycott is an important component for peace and justice for Palestine and Israel.Ali Abunimah has published articles in the newspapers such as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Democracy Now!, and other news programs. Abunimah was born to a refugee mother from the eradicated Palestinian village of Lifta and a father from Battir in the currently occupied West Bank. “My parents taught me the importance of standing up for your rights but doing so in a way that is not tribal,” says Abunimah. “The Palestinian issue is about universal rights and about equality for everyone.”
    “But it’s precisely because of this sort of ignorance that BDS efforts are needed: to educate the public that the situation in Palestine/Israel is not about “Arab or Muslim vs. Jew” nor even about “Palestinians vs. Israelis.” It is a struggle against a system of oppression and apartheid that privileges Israeli Jews at the expense of Palestinians, violating Palestinians’ most fundamental rights. The premise of the BDS movement is that the key to ending the conflict is for Israel to respect the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and comply with international law. BDS is a tactic, not an end in itself. The goal is to get to justice, human rights, and equality for all.

    Indeed, the Palestinian civil society’s BDS call makes clear this is a universalist movement that sees anyone who supports universal human rights as a potential ally. Thus it explicitly invites “conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.” And some courageous Israelis, have already done so, launching Boycott From Within.” Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, is one of the most prominent Palestinian-American commentators on the Israel/Palestine conflict. He is coming to Olympia to explain why boycott is an important component for peace and justice for Palestine and Israel. Ali Abunimah has published articles in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera and other television news programs. Abunimah was born to a refugee mother from the eradicated Palestinian village of Lifta and a father from Battir in the currently occupied West Bank.

    SPECIAL NOTE: For those of you who have attempted to derail previous BDS-related events, please don’t try to get this event canceled through threats and intimidation. The plane ticket has already been bought. We work really hard on this stuff, and it’s not nice of you to try to ruin it. We don’t try to cancel your events.

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