UFPJ is sponsoring an emergency briefing on the Gaza crisis this Thursday evening. We hope that someone from your group will be able to participate. Below is information on call logistics, the agenda, and ground rules for the call. Please read the ground rules before tomorrow’s call.
Thursday, July 13, 8:30 EDT, 5:30 PDT
Emergency Briefing for UFPJ Member Groups on Gaza Crisis
Dial 605-990-0200 code: 505727#
1. If you are not speaking or asking to speak, please mute yourself. On many phones you can mute by pressing 6 or the mute feature. Just before it is your turn to speak, unmute yourself by pressing 6 or mute feature again.
2. Stack: When we begin the Question & Answer section, the facilitator will ask who would like to be on the stack. That's conference call lingo for "who has a question?" Since she/he can't see you raise your hand, please call out your name (e.g. "James, stack"). The facilitator will make a list of people who want to speak, then she/he will call off names from the list. When your name is called, it is your turn to speak. When all the people on the list (stack) have had a chance to speak, the facilitator will ask if she/he should start another stack (if there is time), and we repeat the process. The facilitator may decide to take several questions at a time before asking panelists to respond. To ensure that a range of voices are heard (race, gender, geography, organization, etc.), the facilitator will use her judgement as to whether to change the order of the stack or ask people to step back.
3. Questions: To give the widest number of people the chance to ask questions, please limit your question to 30 seconds maximum. Also, if it is your turn to ask a question, please do ask a question rather than make a comment or launch a polemic (we’ve all been in meetings where that’s happened!). The facilitator reserves the right to ask for conversations better suited for another forum to be moved to UFPJ’s discussion list.
4. Respect your facilitator: Facilitating a conference call with tens of unseen people is not an easy task. Please support your facilitator by respecting his/her judgement as to how to proceed. If the facilitator needs help and you have a suggestion as to how to proceed, please call out your name (e.g. "James, procedural suggestion").
Additional resources are below. Talk to you Thursday!
UFPJ Organizing CoordinatorADDITIONAL RESOURCES
In the meantime, see the article at the end of this email, where Israeli writer Gideon Levy argues that Israel bears primary responsibility for the present situation in Gaza.
You can also get more information and ideas for action on the Gaza crisis from a range of perspectives at these websites.
- Alternative Information Center, http://www.alternativenews.org/
- American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, http://www.adc.org/
- American Friends Service Committee, http://afsc.org/israel-palestine/default.htm
- Electronic Intifada, http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml
- Jewish Voice for Peace, http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/
- Middle East Children's Alliance, http://www.mecaforpeace.org/
- Stop the Wall Campaign, http://stopthewall.org/
- Tikkun, http://www.tikkun.org/
- US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, http://www.endtheoccupation.org/
Download these excellent background fact sheets:
- Freezing the Peace Process: Israel's "Disengagement" from Gaza http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1147
- Ending the Occupation: It’s the Law http://www.endtheoccupation.org/downloads/fact_sheet_2.pdf
******************************Gideon Levy, "Who started?"
July 9th, 2006
Published in Haaretz, a major Israeli daily newspaperhttp://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/736009.html
Gideon Levy argues that Israel bears primary responsibility for the present situation in Gaza.
We left Gaza and they are firing Qassams" - there is no more precise a
formulation of the prevailing view about the current round of the conflict.
"They started," will be the routine response to anyone who tries to argue,
for example, that a few hours before the first Qassam fell on the school in
Ashkelon, causing no damage, Israel sowed destruction at the Islamic
University in Gaza.
Israel is causing electricity blackouts, laying sieges, bombing and
shelling, assassinating and imprisoning, killing and wounding civilians,
including children and babies, in horrifying numbers, but "they started."
They are also "breaking the rules" laid down by Israel: We are allowed to
bomb anything we want and they are not allowed to launch Qassams. When they
fire a Qassam at Ashkelon, that's an "escalation of the conflict," and when
we bomb a university and a school, it's perfectly alright. Why? Because they
started. That's why the majority thinks that all the justice is on our side.
Like in a schoolyard fight, the argument about who started is Israel's
winning moral argument to justify every injustice.
So, who really did start? And have we "left Gaza?"
Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The
disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like "partition" and
"an end to the occupation," did result in the dismantling of settlements and
the Israel Defense Forces' departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to
change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip. Gaza is still a
prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and
oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except
for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their
relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan
economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be
transported, sometimes not. Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under
these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody
can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the
residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year after the
disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.
What could otherwise have been expected? That Israel would unilaterally
withdraw, brutally and outrageously ignoring the Palestinians and their
needs, and that they would silently bear their bitter fate and would not
continue to fight for their liberty, livelihood and dignity? We promised a
safe passage to the West Bank and didn't keep the promise. We promised to
free prisoners and didn't keep the promise. We supported democratic
elections and then boycotted the legally elected leadership, confiscating
funds that belong to it, and declaring war on it. We could have withdrawn
from Gaza through negotiations and coordination, while strengthening the
existing Palestinian leadership, but we refused to do so. And now, we
complain about "a lack of leadership?" We did everything we could to
undermine their society and leadership, making sure as much as possible that
the disengagement would not be a new chapter in our relationship with the
neighboring nation, and now we are amazed by the violence and hatred that we
sowed with our own hands.
What would have happened if the Palestinians had not fired Qassams? Would
Israel have lifted the economic siege that it imposed on Gaza? Would it open
the border to Palestinian laborers? Free prisoners? Meet with the elected
leadership and conduct negotiations? Encourage investment in Gaza? Nonsense.
If the Gazans were sitting quietly, as Israel expects them to do, their case
would disappear from the agenda - here and around the world. Israel would
continue with the convergence, which is solely meant to serve its goals,
ignoring their needs. Nobody would have given any thought to the fate of the
people of Gaza if they did not behave violently. That is a very bitter
truth, but the first 20 years of the occupation passed quietly and we did
not lift a finger to end it.
Instead, under cover of the quiet, we built the enormous, criminal
settlement enterprise. With our own hands, we are now once again pushing the
Palestinians into using the petty arms they have; and in response, we employ
nearly the entire enormous arsenal at our disposal, and continue to complain
that "they started."
We started. We started with the occupation, and we are duty-bound to end it,
a real and complete ending. We started with the violence. There is no
violence worse than the violence of the occupier, using force on an entire
nation, so the question about who fired first is therefore an evasion meant
to distort the picture. After Oslo, too, there were those who claimed that
"we left the territories," in a similar mixture of blindness and lies.
Gaza is in serious trouble, ruled by death, horror and daily difficulties,
far from the eyes and hearts of Israelis. We are only shown the Qassams. We
only see the Qassams. The West Bank is still under the boot of occupation,
the settlements are flourishing, and every limply extended hand for an
agreement, including that of Ismail Haniyeh, is immediately rejected. And
after all this, if someone still has second thoughts, the winning answer is
promptly delivered: "They started." They started and justice is on our side,
while the fact is that they did not start and justice is not with us.