July 31, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters in the labor movement, and all people who are working hard to build a better future for themselves and for their families in the United States of America, and those who believe in peace and justice.
As we write this message from Gaza, our families are facing a genocidal war waged by Israel. The State of Israel is using the most advanced killing machines made and exported from the United States of America. They are killing Palestinian children and eliminating entire families. They are denying the population of Gaza their right to live in peace and dignity.
The Gaza Strip is small space, about 250 square miles, and is home to approximately 1.8 million people. Before the current massacre, the people of Gaza were already living in very difficult conditions. Israel imposed a siege and blockade, and has been controlling the air, sea, and land of Gaza for more than seven years. This blockade has also included control and closure of border crossings, and the restriction of movement, including of sick patients and students.
The trade market, import and export, has been restricted. As a result, we have witnessed and experienced the destruction of agriculture and the ongoing annihilation of workers, farmers and fishermen. The extreme levels of poverty and unemployment have been rising. The people of Gaza have seen a decline in their health and well-being, including the lack of educational services and severe shortages in access to healthy food. In addition, Israel controls the drinking water and electricity, and as result, Gaza has had outages of water and electricity for up to 12 hours a day. As many scholars, journalists and human rights activist have noted, “Gaza is the world’s biggest prison.”
Under the pretext of the killing of three settlers in the West Bank, with no of evidence pointing to any Palestinian group, Israel with its racist right-wing government, started its current offensive war, which has resulted in more than 1,600 Palestinians killed and more than 6,700 others injured, mostly serious and severe. Many of those killed were civilians, and more than one quarter of them were children and women.
In addition, more than 2,000 houses have been completely destroyed and nearly 3,000 houses have been partially destroyed — with more than half of them uninhabitable. This war has displaced more than 400,000 citizens from their homes. In addition, 95 mosques have been totally demolished, and 10 hospitals have been directly targeted, with one hospital totally destroyed.
Israel is targeting municipal workers, civil defense vehicles and ambulances — with more than six paramedics killed. During this war, we have experienced the attacks on more than 50 headquarters of the police and security services, 95 schools and educational facilities, and 7 media offices; many journalists and photographers have been killed. Also, 40 commercial fishing boats have been destroyed. Experts in the Interior Ministry estimate more than 15,000 tons of explosives have been dropped on the Gaza Strip. Economists estimate the Gaza Strip losses, as a result of the aggression, at more than US$3 billion thus far.
Dear friends, it’s your turn NOW to take an historic stand and take on the responsibility to stand by truth and justice and urge immediate action through the following:
1 – Pressure your government to stop the unjust aggression on our people and to stop spending money for weapons for occupation that kill us and kill our children.
2 – Work on a local and national level to urge your elected officials to stop dealing with the institutions that profit from the occupation and death of Palestinians.
3 – Educate and build awareness among the labor movements of the U.S. and urge them to condemn the Israeli aggression and to boycott Israel through various means, i.e., cultural, educational and commercial exchange with the occupation, while exposing the crimes of the occupation and its practices.
4 – Reach out and urge the international community through the United Nations to work by all means to enable the Palestinian people to attain and exercise their right to self-determination, through the embodiment of the Palestinian State, which is recognized by the General Assembly with an overwhelming majority, and to use the means of international law, including punitive means, to end the occupation of the Palestinian State, and to hold Israel accountable.
5 – Call upon the United Nations to provide protection for the Palestinians in the Occupied territories, and to provide safeguards to prevent a repeat of aggression upon the Palestinian territories, particularly the Gaza Strip.
6 – Urge the United Nations to enforce the Geneva Conventions, and to ensure that Israel — as a member State that is a signatory of these agreements, including the human rights agreements — complies fully with these international conventions.
7 – Call on signatory States to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligation to work to ensure the application, and to implements its jurisdiction to hold war criminals accountable, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and place of commission, to pave the way for rendering Israeli war criminals accountable, and end the impunity they have enjoyed for decades.
8 – Urge governments around the world and humanitarian organizations to declare the Gaza Strip a disaster area that is in need of major reconstruction and humanitarian aid for urgent relief to the displaced and affected people.
Finally, we are all confident and hope that you will stand with us to influence and put pressure on your government and the Israeli government alike, to stop the criminal aggression on our people. Your actions may help to save thousands of innocent children, women, youth and elders — as well as their dreams of living in security and peace.
SIGNED/ WITH UNION SEAL
New Delhi, 17 July 2014: The murderous attack of Israel on Gaza that began on 3 July is like all Israel’s attacks on Palestine without justification and lacking in proportion. There is no evidence that the three Israeli teenagers who went missing on 12 June and whose bodies were found on 30 June were killed by Hamas. In the 18 intervening days the Israel Security Agency rounded up several hundred Hamas members as persons responsible for the disappearance and even razed the houses of some of them to the ground. On 1 July, when the Hamas retaliated with rocket fire in response to which the Israel Defence Force aerially bombed 34 locations in the Gaza strip razing parts of northern Gaza to the ground.
In the last 14 years, of 8,166 conflict-related deaths recorded by an Israeli Human Rights Organisation, 7,065 have been of Palestinians and 1,101 of Israelis – which means for every 15 people killed in the conflict, 13 are Palestinian and 2 are Israeli. Of these, since January 2005, of 4,006 people killed, 168 have been Israeli and 3,838 Palestinian – which means that, since January 2005, only 4 percent of those killed have been Israeli, and 96 percent Palestinian. The dramatic fall in Israeli deaths in this period is because of Israel’s decision to increase the size and number of walls separating Israeli and Palestinian territory. This separation was of course, despite UN efforts, accompanied by aggressive expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory and then protecting these settlements with walls.
In the present crisis, according to Gaza medical officials 195 Palestinians, including at least 150 civilians, among them 31 children, have been killed on the other hand 1 Israeli has been killed. Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system has intercepted 20 Hamas projectiles, with no casualty, while Israel has mobilised troops and threatened a ground invasion of Gaza that is home to 1.8 million Palestinians. The conflict impacts Palestinians and Israelis far beyond just conflict deaths, but even these official statistics show how extremely disproportionate the impact of the conflict is.
The statement of Ms Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, in the Rajya Sabha, that India has “diplomatic ties with both nations. Any discourteous reference to any friendly country can impact our relations with them” is in complete negation of the disproportionately tilted balance of power between Israel and Palestine. This reflects the BJP government’s position on Indo-Israel relations. It is however not surprising from a government led by the architects of the Gujarat genocide.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was one of the first to telephone Mr. Narendra Modi to congratulate him on the victory of the BJP. Mr. Netanyahu is reported to have told a cabinet meeting that there was a “clear expression of the desire to deepen and develop economic ties with the State of Israel” from Mr. Modi in the course of the telephone conversation.
Israel’s support to India in the Kargil conflict during the last NDA government’s term had built a relationship which has seen defence cooperation between the two countries registering a significant high. India constitutes the largest market for the Israeli defence industry, and Israel is the second largest supplier of arms to India, after Russia. According to 2014 estimates, India accounts for $1 to $1.5 billion of Israel’s $7 billion total defence exports. The two countries have also been negotiating a Free Trade Agreement for the last several years which is likely to be concluded in this government’s term.
The Modi government in Gujarat continued this relation and furthered it. Israeli agriculture, pharmaceutical, alternative energy and information technology companies have flourished in Gujarat. This isn’t incidental: Mr. Modi’s campaign was based on replicating his economic success in Gujarat on a national scale which includes the successful tie-up with Israel. The Indo-Israel relation is more than economic and defence cooperation but entrenched in advancing the ideology of Hindutva that is articulated in direct opposition to Islam and hence in opposition to the nationhood of Palestine and the inalienable right of Palestinian peoples to the right to self determination. The last NDA government’s national security advisor, Brajesh Mishra in an address in 2003 in the US called for a “viable alliance” against international terrorism and the development of “multi-lateral mechanisms” to counter it. Israel in response had said that an “unwritten and abstract axis” between the U.S., India and Israel to combat terrorism. This is a foreign policy of the core politics for a society driven by religious majoritarianism and bigotry that labels everyone outside it or opposed to it as a terrorist.
We call upon the Government of India to:
- Respect the right to nationhood and the right to self determination of the Palestinian peoples and towards this end issue a strong condemnation of the illegal actions of the Israel government and defence forces and to work for an immediate ceasefire by the Israel Defence Force,
- Respect and work towards the realisation of the Fortelaza Declaration which it has just signed at the Sixth Brics Summit with regard to rights of the peoples’ of Palestine and in all other matters,
- Respect the democratic spirit of this country and accede to the request of various parties in parliament to an open debate on the Palestinian question and the present attack by Israel, and
- Respect the wishes of the vast majority of Indians for a plural and democratic country and world by ensuring that it does not promote one religion, faith or belief over others at home and is not party in any way to promoting it abroad too.