Regional Programs > Israel
& Palestine > Next Story
Now is a time to act
Gila Svirsky, Israel
April 9, 2002
I just returned to Israel from 2 weeks abroad, and took 2 more days to get a perspective on what I see and hear, which I would now like to share with
First, the overwhelming picture before us is of death and destruction
wrought by the Israeli army in the Palestinian cities, Jenin above all. In
addition to the hundreds killed and thousands wounded, we have irrefutable
evidence that the Israeli army has barred ambulances from evacuating the
dead and wounded, has bulldozed homes in large numbers (sometimes with the
families still inside), and has withheld access to water, electricity, and
phone communication for periods of a week and more. Can you imagine life
with no water, while men, women, and children are bleeding to death around
you? And finally having to bury the corpses in an empty lot nearby, after
days of keeping them at home?
These go well beyond the ongoing acts of brutality, mass arrests, vandalism, theft, and humiliations, which are also rampant. A senior officer was
quoted in Ha'aretz today as saying, "When the world sees pictures of what we
have done there, it will cause enormous damage to us." It's no wonder that
the media are not given access. Listening to the report from the field at
the emergency board meeting of B'Tselem last night, I was not the only one
with tears in my eyes.
This is no time for analysis, although I have much to say: About the
complicity of Peres, about the appalling anti-Semitism unleashed
internationally by legitimate anger at Israeli, and about how horrifying
terrorism in Israel and the so-called "war against terrorism" in the US have
given license to what is happening. Introduce Bush-Cheney-Rice-Sharon-Mofaz, and the recipe for Violence-Begets-More-Violence is complete. Today's killing of 13 Israeli soldiers in Jenin only drives home the tragic futility of Israel's military might.
Rather than analyze, this is a time to act. Here in Israel, the peace and
human rights movement is working tirelessly on every imaginable front.
Soldiers who refuse to serve the occupation are going to jail; convoys of
food and medical supplies hastily collected have been distributed and more
are being collected; human rights workers are risking their lives to monitor
action; peace activists have braved hailstorms of teargas and stun grenades
in facing army checkpoints; foreign activists have served as human shields
throughout the territories. In my history of activism, I recall no parallel
sense of urgency, in which lives and daily bread are being set aside to
pursue a cause. But I also recall no parallel feeling that a calamity of
our own making is unfolding before our eyes.
I implore you to take action of your own. Contact relevant officials (some
addresses are given below). If you're Jewish, make a point of saying that.
1) International monitors must be dispatched to the region at once to end
the terrible violence.
2) The root cause of the conflict is the Israeli occupation of the
territories. This must come to an end.
Other things you can do, even if you have limited time:
* If you have just 1 minute to give, forward this letter to others on your
* If you have 10 minutes to spare, write a check to the organization of your
choice (see the links at Coalition of Women for Peace, for a few suggestions).
* If you have 20 minutes, call, fax or write (make it brief!) any of the
* If you have an hour, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
(brief and from the heart).
* If you have more time, get involved. See "Get Involved—Find an
Organization Near You" at Jewish Unity for a Just Peace for some suggestions.
* If you're an American Jew, join the Tikkun Community or the newly formed Brit Tzedek v'Shalom—Jewish Alliance for Justice & Peace.
Whatever you can do is valuable.
Finally, I can't help but note that Israel marked Holocaust Memorial Day
today. When will we finally extricate ourselves from this trauma and apply
ourselves to instilling its true lesson, that of tolerance?
Shalom/Salaam from Jerusalem.
OFFICIALS TO CONTACT:
Note: If you have time, print out and fax a letter (or make a phone
call), as those are more effective than e-mail.
President George W. Bush
Phone: +1 (202) 456-1414
Fax: +1 (202) 456-2461
Secretary of State Colin Powell
Phone: +1 (202) 647-4000; 1+ (202-647-5150) Bureau of Near East Affairs
Fax: +1 (202) 261-8577
Ms. Mary Robinson
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary General of the UN
Phone: +1 (212) 963-5012
Fax: +1 (212) 963-4879
Mr. Terje Rod Larsen
Representative of the UN in Palestine
Tel: +972 8 282 2914
Fax: +972 8 282 0966
Council of the European Union
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
EU special envoy
Coalition of Women for Peace.