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A Group of Jews Opposes Celebrations of Israel

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   3 comments
Message Stanley Heller

On the day that President Bush was in Tel Aviv to celebrate Israel over 160 Jews from around the world issued a strong statement of dissent entitled "We Will Not Be Celebrating". In the days following the number of signers increased to over 200. The statement maintains that Israel's creation was at a terrible price paid by the Palestinian people in massacres, ethnic cleansing, and dispossession. The signers are from many countries in the world, from Australia to Germany, from the France to the United States. Two are Holocaust survivors and several are from Israel itself. One is Israeli Felicia Langer, the Right Livelihood Award winner of 1990, who now lives in Germany. Most are professionals: professors, doctors, teachers. The statement was modeled after one signed by Nobel Literature Prize winner Harold Pinter and over 100 British Jews. A similar statement by Canadian Jews appeared recently in the Toronto weekly NOW.

The statement and signers: We Will Not Be Celebrating

In May, Jewish organizations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-Semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasized, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Nakba is to the Palestinians.

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorized the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.

14 selected names below

The entire list of signers can be viewed at

Shmuel Amir
"The Left Bank" site
Tel Aviv

Henry Ascher, MD, PhD, Assoc. Professor
The Sahlgrenska Academy
University of Gothenburg
Göteborg, Sweden

Professor Hagit Borer
University of Southern California

Prof. Daniel Boyarin,
UC Berkeley

Lenni Brenner,
author, Manhattan

James Cohen
Dept. of Political Science
University of Paris-VIII

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Stanley Heller is host of "The Struggle" a weekly TV news program seen on public access stations in the northeast and at He is chair of the Middle East Crisis Committee.
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