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Activists Protest Talk by Israeli Consul General at Temple Beth El
On August 21, activists with the Palestine Israel Action Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace Santa Cruz picketed outside of a talk at Temple Beth El in Aptos about Israel and Gaza, given by Dr. Andy David, Israel's Consul General for Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. The topic of the talk was "Operation Protective Edge," Israel's name for their most recent military assault on Gaza, which began on July 8 and has killed thousands of Palestinians. [Signs in the top photo read: "Say NO! to Israeli murder of Palestinian children. Demand U.S. Sanctions on Israel," "Ethical Jews Support Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions," "Ethical Jews Demand U.S. Sanctions on Israel," "What Jewish Law Permits the Killing of Innocent Children?"]
About a dozen protesters were present outside of Temple Beth El. A series of large signs with the names of those killed in the war were displayed near the temple's entrance, and individuals held a large banner on Soquel Drive that read "Sick of Gaza Massacre?"
An announcement for the demonstration made it clear that it was not a protest targeting the temple, but "their guest, the Israel Consul General and the policies of the Israeli government."
Many of those attending the Consul General's talk were deeply offended and angered by the presence of protesters outside of the temple.
When demonstrators were handing out information about Israel, one angry person literally smacked the flyer one of them was offering out of their hand, causing it to fall on the street. The flyer listed suggested questions to ask the Consul General, and it also included a list of six "myths" regarding the birth of Israel.
Demonstrators were also called names, but a small number of those attending the talk did agree that the attacks on Gaza were wrong.
Some of the literature the demonstrators were handing out called Israel's claim that "Operation Protective Edge" was an act of self-defense disingenuous. "The Incredible violence against Gaza is indisputably disproportionate to any threat that Israel faces from the Palestinian resistance to occupation," one brochure stated. It called Israel's attacks, "a siege on an open-air prison."
Gaza has been called an open-air prison because Israel controls its land, borders, airspace, sea, access to electricity, and movement of people and goods, including food, water and medicine. "There is nowhere for people to go," the brochure states. "Evacuation is not an option."
One large sign displayed by demonstrators was titled "Remembering Some of the Victims of Israeli Operation 'Protective Edge'," and it showed pictures of people killed, and included short biographies about them.
The event was not open to the public. Admission was restricted to the members of three Jewish congregations. The event was described on the temple's website as an opportunity to, "Find out first-hand about Israel’s efforts with Operation Protective Edge, as the Jewish State works to re-establish stability for its citizens and fight the daily reality in which millions of its citizens are subject to the whims of radical Islamic terrorist organizations."
The Consulate General of Israel is an official governmental office of Israel and is responsible for coordinating relationships with national and local organizations, offices of public officials, businesses, and citizens.
Consul General Dr. Andy David, a practicing dentist before working for the Israeli government, was was born in Romania and immigrated to Israel with his family. He spent three years in the Israel Air Force and in RAFAEL, the Ministry of Defense's Armament Development Authority. He is a graduate of the Executive Combating Terrorism program at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., and he has been a diplomat for Israel since 1998.
Temple Beth El calls itself "Reform Judaism, Santa Cruz Style," and its website states: "At TBE we reach out to help heal the world through community support activities including a High Holiday food drive to replenish local food pantries, Sunday dinners at the River Street Shelter, and informational programs on a variety of topics including healthcare, the environment and human rights. By our participation in COPA, (Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action) we are a leading institution in Faith-Based Community Organizing working to identify social justice issues and improve our wider community through interfaith efforts."
Some Questions for Israeli Consul General Andy David
If, after 47 years of military occupation and blockade, and the largest military in the region, the Israeli government still struggles to establish "stability for its citizens," has the Israeli government considered that military methods do not work, has the Israeli government committed to constructive means for stability and coexistence?
Do you have empathy for the millions of Palestinians, who are not allowed to be citizens of a state, and who are subject to the actions of young men and women with rifles at checkpoints, in village raids, dropping bombs, causing great insecurity in the name of defense of another nation?
Has the government of Israel considered that its military violence may be creating more terrorists instead of preventing terrorism?
Since Israel enforces a tight blockade against Gaza, what responsibility does Israel have for the situation of the people of Gaza, severely hampered by inability to conduct trade, to travel to Egypt or Israel for work, and once again severely suffering from 1900 deaths, destruction of thousands of houses and public buildings caused by Israeli military action? And what responsibility does the United States have?
Israel has occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank for 47 years. Will Israel set a timetable to withdraw from these lands and allow Palestinian sovereignty?
Israel has used military force and strategic construction as the primary means of conducting relations with people in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem for 47 years. This is not working, for Israelis or for Palestinians. When will Israel give priority to co-existence with Palestinians instead of defense against Palestinians?
What kind of state or states do you envision for all the people of Israel and all the people of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights, and what steps is Israel taking to get there?
What should I say to my 83 year old father who was exiled and separated from his entire family at age 15. His mother sent him to boarding school in Lebanon and then was never allowed to be a legal citizen again. He still yearns for his homeland and suffered immensely ... Is his and every other Palestinians yearning legitimate ?
What should I tell my friend who lost 10 members of her family in Gaza? Are their lives less important than Jewish lives?
Please explain Lawfare, the Israeli attempt to throw out centuries of International Humanitarian Law?
Have you seen the the three plus pages of US supported Israeli war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and collective punishment? If so, please comment.
SIX MYTHS REGARDING THE BIRTH OF ISRAEL IN 1948
Israeli scholar Ilan Pappe recently published an important new book, The Idea of Israel (London: Verso, 2014). Among other issues, he discusses several myths surrounding Israel’s founding in 1948; they are summarized here. (Please note that this book uses British spelling.)
Myth 1. “Israel accepted the UN partition resolution of 1947 and therefore agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state next to the Jewish one over more than half of Palestine.”
Reality: “Ben-Gurion [Zionist leader] ignored the territorial dimension of the partition resolution, which divided Palestine into two states, and continually referred to the resolution only as granting international legitimacy for the idea of the Jewish state whose borders the Zionist movement, and no one else, would determine.”
Myth 2. “All the Palestinians followed al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem [Palestinian leader], in his resistance to any UN peace plan.”
Reality: Ben-Gurion’s chief “advisers reported to the Zionist leader that the vast majority of Palestinians accepted partition” and “... resorted to violence only for self-defence.”
Myth 3. The “Arab world was determined to destroy the Jewish state in 1948.”
Reality: The “Arab world was fragmented and did not have a unified policy on the question of Palestine. Iraq and Transjordan ... were seeking an understanding with the new Jewish state. As a result, Ben-Gurion concluded a secret treaty with Jordan, under which the two sides agreed to divide Palestine between them after the British withdrawal from the country.”
Myth 4. “Palestinians left their homes because they were told to do so by their leaders and the leaders of neighbouring Arab countries.”
Reality: “There is no ‘evidence’ for such an allegation,” ... and “it made no strategic sense for the Arab side to demand such a flight, which would only have made the battlefield more complicated for them....” Palestinians became refugees because “the Zionist leadership was determined to reduce their numbers by all possible means.” Zionist “military commanders knew exactly what to do: namely, expel the Palestinians from their villages and towns.”
Myth 5. “Israel was a David that miraculously defeated an Arab Goliath.”
Reality: Jewish forces were superior from the beginning and the Arabs were disorganized and weak. (The British occupiers had disarmed the Palestinians in 1936, leaving Palestinians with little means of self-defense.)
Myth 6. “Israel extended its hand for peace after the war and was rejected by the Arab states and the Palestinians.”
Reality: The “Lausanne Protocol, signed on 12 May 1949 by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Israel ... set three principal guidelines for peace in Palestine: recognition of the earlier partition plan and, therefore, the existence of Israel, the internationalisation of Jerusalem, and the repatriation of Palestinian refugees.... [T]here were serious initiatives for peace on the part of Syria and Jordan that were rejected by the Israeli government.”