Back in the saddle – the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

Hi folks, I’m back in the saddle, from a long earned holiday, and (thankfully) not in the Middle East – not wanting to offend, but I enjoy eating pork more than Muslims, Jews, or a number of my fellow Green Party members would find acceptable (although do try to source organic when possible).

Anyway, I’ve been monitoring events in Palestine-Israel, and came across some comments from Mike Treen of GPJA, published by Lynn Prentice at The Standard:


Hi Yael, The decision to support the international call to boycott Israel completely was not an easy one. We are aware of the impact of such boycotts on individuals – academics, sportspeople, businesses – some of who may oppose the policies of their government.

It grows out of a recognition that six decades after the establishment of the state of Israel the right of return of the refuges guaranteed by the United nations has not been achieved.

It is recognition that 4 decades after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza they remain imprisoned territories without self-determination.

The Israeli state completely controls all movement into and out of these territories as well as movement within them. It assassinates whoever it decides is guilty. It imprisons thousands without trial. Two generations of Palestinian have grown up in these conditions. Israel refuses to give up control. It continues to build settlements on the West Bank. It is building a so-called separation wall imprisoning Palestinians and preventing movement. Settlers have their own roads. Water and electricity is controlled for their benefit.

Even inside Israel the discrimination against Palestinian citizens is flagrant. Spending on Jewish Israeli education per head is six times that for Palestinian Israeli’s.

This reality, in Israel and the greater Israel incorporating the occupied territories and Gaza, is what makes the Israeli state an apartheid state. That was not true in 1948. It wasn’t true in 1967. But it is true today. All adult Jewish Israeli citizens serve in the military and directly or indirectly take responsibility for ensuring that this occupation continues.

The body politic has moved progressively to the right and the official discourse in the state of Israel is now whether its own Palestinian citizens should be encouraged to leave. “I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, ‘Your national solution lies elsewhere,’” says the so-called moderate Kadima leader Tzipi Livni.

There is no solution available within an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue alone. The relationship of forces is simply too disproportionate. Most importantly Israel has had an effective international impunity. This has allowed it to defy the UN resolutions to allow the refugees to return and withdraw from the occupied territories.

That impunity has to end with the people of the world saying we will isolate everything to do with Israel until there is not one soldier or settler forcibly occupying Palestinian land and the refugees have the right to return.

For New Zealand that means not welcoming sportspeople. It means Auckland University ending its partnership ties with Technion, an Israeli University. It means stopping Rakon from sending components used in all Israeli smart bombs. It means getting the NZ Super fund to stop investing in Israeli companies. It means cancelling Veolia’s train contract until it stops building train networks from Israel to illegal settlements.

It is a sad a regrettable fact that we have come to this position. Many people will be hurt. But nothing that happens to the official or unofficial representatives of the apartheid state can compare to the imprisonment and destruction of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.


I think Mike is spot-on in his analysis of what is happening in Palestine-Israel. The term “apartheid” is not one to be lightly used, and I don’t want to start this thread off by Godwinning it, but the facts remain that Palestinian citizens of Israel enjoy far fewer rights than Jewish citizens, and that essentially mimics the apartheid regime in South Africa a few decades ago.

I’m not so sure about the protest against the Israeli tennis player though. I was very active in protests against the 1991 Springbok tour, and sunsequent actions in support of the economic, sporting, and cultural boycott of the apatheid regime. That was because that boycott was universally endorsed bt the South African liberation movements.

I don’t see the same happening in the Palestine-Israeili conflict. Although I think the Palestinians have just cause to call for a sporting, economic and cultural boycott of Israel, I haven’t heard it from them yet.

So sorry, I didnt turn up at the protest – not because I didn’t support its purpose, but because I was not sure it had the endorsement of the legitimately representative (various factions of) Palestinan liberation groups.

Sorry, Mike T, John M, and others from GPJA. But I really think you need to argue the tactics and the rationale for them better on this one.


7 thoughts on “Back in the saddle – the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

  1. Toad –
    If you find GPJA’s rationale’s infra dig, may I recommend the Wellington Palestine Group, who have been producing some well-reasoned arguments why they would like to see a ceasefire, and along the way, less family members in the firing line back in Gaza.

    Official statement from WPG:

    The Wellington Palestine Group states that it was collectively responsible for the action which Gerard Burns undertook at the Yitzak Rabin Memorial in Wellington on Tuesday. Gerard Burns courageously carried out the symbolic act which was prepared and planned by the Group.

    Wellington Palestine Group spokesperson Omar Khamoun says “we chose this memorial in Wellington as the object of our protest to highlight the long trajectory of Palestinian dispossession and suffering, which former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin was party to”.

    Khamoun says “Israeli historians document Rabin’s war crimes including the key role he played in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the districts of Lydda and Ramleh in 1948; his leading of Israeli forces in the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights. He is also infamous for his “broken bones policy” which openly encouraged breaking bones of peaceful Palestinian demonstrators during the first Intifada”
    The memorial which was placed in Wellington in 2000 without public consultation is sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Khamoun says “The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is a racist organisation that administers the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by managing land stolen from the Palestinians for the exclusive benefit of the Israeli Jewish population.”
    The group also chose the memorial to illustrate the insidiousness of the international public relations campaign waged by Israel creating mythical stories of figures like Rabin as peacemakers. “Rabin was never a peacemaker. Even after the signing of Oslo, he declared in front of the Israeli parliament that Israel will get peace without conceding anything”. Khamoun says.

    The Wellington Palestine Group supports a solution to the Palestine/Israel question based on UN resolutions 242 and 194, but it sees this becoming increasingly difficult because of Israeli settlements and ongoing military repression.

    Vatican justice and peace minister Cardinal Renato Martino described Gaza yesterday as “increasingly resembl[ing] a big concentration camp.” The military history of Rabin and the present bombing of Gaza make “spilling blood” on Rabin’s plaque entirely appropriate.

    If the newly founded ‘Kiwi Friends of Israel’ are so offended by a drop of blood mixed with water soluble paint, then they should be outraged by the rivers of blood flowing in the streets, mosques, schools and hospitals of Gaza. What is really being desecrated, a stone monument or the sacredness of real lives?

    Wellington Palestine Group
    Omar Khamoun
    027 515 6685

    Some useful links:

    more at

  2. Why do the Palestinians in Gaza *have* to ask for a boycott Toad? I admit it is preferable, but I suspect they other more important things on their minds when Israeli shells start to fall. And while Hamas are the democratically elected government, their rationality may be a little suspect…

    More to the point, Palestinians here in NZ are supportive, and most folks in Gaza and West Bank will barely have heard of NZ and what we do to support them.

    But to address the specific question of boycotting individuals like Shahar Peer, why not? Is there any tangible difference between an individual and a team member? Yet teams from apartheid South Africa were boycotted, regardless of the thoughts of individual team members about apartheid.

    Sadly, sporting, cultural, scientific and economic boycotts are always ‘broad brush’, and affect good citizens of the targetted state. Even political sanctions like those imposed on Fiji carry the question of – how far?

    To determine the exact level of government official we boycott we need to know about the involvement of those officials & armed forces members in upholding the South African-Israeli apartheid system. But this is very hard to know in advance. Hence the need for uniform sanctions.

    The key is to keep letting the good citizens of Israel know how much we support what they are doing, and make that support vocal (letters to editors, petitions, etc).

    For a nation like NZ, which has far more tourist and scientific and work visa visitors from Israel than politicians or generals, we stand more chance of making an impact on Israeli apartheid that way. Otherwise, arrest warrants for war criminals can be too easily evaded by the culprits dodging the handful of countries like NZ that issue such arrest warrants.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Pingback: Another experiment gone by « Still Truckin’

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