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By Gila Svirsky, Jerusalem and Debby Lerman, Tel Aviv


On behalf of the Coalition Against the Siege of Gaza

Thursday 7 December 2006


The international campaign “GAZA: Stop the Siege! End the War!” was amazing, and embraced the entire globe. While individual actions may have been small, the cumulative impact of 107 cities holding protest and educational activities together is formidable. Some of the media reports were particularly effective and won access to broad international audiences. As we receive your reports, we will continue to post them and photos on http://gazasiege.net/partners.html.

The demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night was wonderful for its drive and intensity. We did not fill up the streets with our numbers (a few thousand came), but we did fill the air with our sounds and passion. Perhaps you can see that in some of the great photos done by ActiveStills at http://www.flickr.com/photos/activestills and the 3.5 minute video at http://www.tv.social.org.il/medini/aza-2-12-06.htm. Although the film is in Hebrew, you can get the flavor of the event: the crowd filled with young people, a march through the heart of Tel Aviv, the chanting and drumming, and even one brief incident when the “special” police forces attack part of the group, thinking they were threatening the nearby McDonald’s. We are grateful to the large “Action for Peace” delegation from Italy, which included two members of parliament, the head of a trade union, and the unstoppable Luisa Morgantini, future vice-president of the EU parliament, who flew in for one day to participate in the event.

The speeches were eloquent, and we are attaching the English translations of two of them - one by Nomika Zion, a resident of Sderot, the town that was shelled incessantly from nearby Gaza, bringing the voice of one who does not seek revenge. And a speech by Rela Mazali, from New Profile, who explains that when a population is under siege, a ceasefire is meaningless. In Rela’s words, “The siege of Gaza is fire in disguise...It creates a dominion of creeping, blind death; it doesn’t even pretend to distinguish combatants from civilians. But first of all it kills the helpless.”

We continue to collect signatures on the petition, now exceeding 6,400. You can still sign on http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?SaveGaza. Please send us your lists immediately if you signed people on your own websites or elsewhere. In the coming days, women from Bat Shalom will be delivering the signed petition to the EU, US, UK, Italian, French, Spanish and other embassies in Israel, demanding that they call an end to the boycott. Let us know if you also want a copy of the signatures for your own advocacy work in your city.

The month has passed, but the siege is not over. What did we accomplish? First of all, we breached the wall of silence on this subject. We spoke out against a blatant act of immorality in which the governments of many countries are complicit. We introduced the concept “end the siege of Gaza” into political discourse.

It will take more to end this siege, but its existence will now figure more prominently in our political work when we look at the horrors of occupation. Occupation is not just about killing, wounding, separating, demolishing, and uprooting; it is also about withholding food, water, medicine, electricity, and basic living needs.

Above all, the campaign gave hope to some Palestinians who had none. In the words of Lama Hourani from Gaza, following her painful descriptions of the sights in Beit Hanoun, “I don’t know what to do, desperate and depressed. Maybe one of the things that cheers me up sometimes and gives me hope is hearing about the solidarity activities that take place in different places in the world.”

There are many - Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals - who have their flickering hope kept alive by the work that all of us do throughout the world. Thank you for your partnership.

Shalom / Salaam,

On behalf of the Coalition Against the Siege of Gaza