[Tel Aviv, Israel June 6, 2009] Out of 120 seats in the Israeli parliament 11 are held by Arab-Israelis. One of them is Hannen Zoubi, the first woman representative of an Arab party to be elected to the Kennest. The outspoken advocate against the occupation of Palestine greeted the group from CODE PINK with, "It's a great pleasure to meet so many US citizens as most of our problems come as a result from USA policies. What we need is a direct relationship with all people of the world as we Palestinians daily struggle for human values, freedom and justice which are international values."
Regarding the proposal of a law by Avigdor Lieberman's party that would strip Israeli Palestinians of their citizenship unless they pledge loyalty to a Jewish state, "Lieberman did not say anything new and racism has become legitimatized. From 1948 until now, loyalty to Zionism was enforced by policy. With the introduction of the loyalty law, anyone who would say Israel is not a Jewish State and a democracy would be jailed for three years! But we are optimistic for just by suggesting such a law it indicates the crisis that after 60 years we will never forget who we are.
"What Israel is attempting to demand is that I must be loyal to the Zionist dream. Loyalty to a state should require obeying the laws but Israel does not take our citizenship seriously. We cannot accept their Zionist dream, we have our dreams. We cannot accept the Zionist vision, we have our vision. I am a citizen of Israel but I am not an Israeli and I am not Jewish. Israel did not give me my identity and Israel cannot be a Jewish state and a democracy."
According to Jeff Halper, American-Israeli, Founder and Coordinator of ICAHD/Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, "Israel is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control."
Zoubi continued, "In 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled, we were thrown out of our homes. The most educated left and the 150,000 who remained were the weakest part of society. In 1948, the Jews had 4% of the land and they have confiscated 93% more and we have 3% of our homeland.
"There are three times more settlements now than in 1995. Today there are 600,000 settlers and 800 checkpoints. Israel negotiates only to block a peace agreement. Hamas won because after 13 years of negotiations the people wanted a change. The rockets are stupid and illegitimate, but they carry a political meaning; we want our freedom and we do not accept the way Fatah negotiates. The dispute between Hamas and Fatah is not over power-it is about two different political ways. I cannot be pro-Hamas, but they were democratically elected and are now more powerful than in 2006. We are very critical of Abbas and we don't think he cares about the Palestinians in Gaza, he just wants to keep his position. The people know he put down spontaneous demonstrations in the West Bank in support of Gaza.
"Resisting occupation is legitimate and our goal is not one or two states, our goal is to end the occupation. The goal is freedom, equality and justice.''
Later in the day, CODE PINK joined the annual Tel Aviv demonstration against the occupation that gathered at Rabin Square. Approximately a thousand people of conscience turned out, who chanted in Hebrew, "Stop the Occupation" and "Children in Sderot, children in Gaza both deserve to be free" to the beat of a twelve piece percussion band and entertained by anarchist clowns. When the demonstrators stopped too long as the clowns performed, two dozen border police rushed in to disperse the artists, who stood their ground until the police commanded the demonstrators own security staff move the crowd.
Third generation Israeli Yoel Admi, wearing an Obama t-shirt said, "Obama represents the type of leadership we want to see all over the world. We have had enough corruption and lack of leadership."
Second generation Israeli, Batya Aviran, stated, "We need American people to help us help ourselves. We want you to encourage him to push the Israeli government to get rid of the settlements and end the occupation."
Sebastian Rodrigus' family migrated to Israel in the 1970's from South America, "We need America to stop supporting Israel in the UN. Obama's courage should be an example to the Israeli government, but we are afraid he has no partner here. Obama is approaching the radicals that Bush was suppressing and when I heard his speech I had the shivers.
"I was a First Sargent in a combat unit and about 70% of the troops are insensitive to the daily humiliations the Palestinians are subjected to. I became an activist when I got out because the first action I was involved in has never left me. It was 4 AM in the morning and we had good intelligence that a terrorist was in this house. I was in charge of keeping the rest of the family in a separate room and the look I saw in the children's eyes has never left me. The look on those kids faces I will never forget. For me, it's all about the children."
Within the last ten days, 120 CODE PINK activists have made their way into Gaza through Egypt and have built three playgrounds and played with hundreds of children. Today, over forty more CODE PINK activists will converge at Erez Checkpoint and it's all about the children.
"The fierce urgency of now" [MLK] should compel all people of conscience to petition their governments to force an end to the occupation of Palestine Gaza, in this, the final year of the UN's Decade of Creating a Culture of Nonviolence for all the children of the world.