Will we send solidarity to Palestine – or just bombs?

I joined the demonstration in support of Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s latest campaign today. The group is calling for Brighton & Hove City council to join the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions, to put pressure on Israel to cease its illegal siege, occupation and military attacks on Palestinian areas.

I’ve written to my ward councillors, to let them know why I’d like them to support this campaign. If you agree, please write to your councillors too. Here’s my letter:

Dear Liz, Bill and Emma,

I’m writing to ask you to support Cllr. Ben Duncan’s motion at the next Brighton & Hove City Council meeting, which calls on the council to join the international boycott of Israel, in support of the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, made in 2005 by Palestinian civil society organisations.

I’m sure you have been as horrified as I have by the images of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza this summer. Over 2000 people have been killed, over 70% of them civilians, including over 500 children. Although it has disappeared from BBC news bulletins, the attack continues, with 20 more air strikes yesterday, including the destruction of an apartment building that was home to 60 families.

The facts are pretty clear. The siege of Gaza is a shocking example of collective punishment. The attacks on the civilian population are massively disproportionate. Israel has ignored numerous UN resolutions and reports and continued to break international law with impunity for decades.

I’m sure you’ve heard all these facts and figures before. I have too. They have become part of the background for us – another faraway war we can switch off when the pictures on the television are too upsetting.

But for some Brighton & Hove residents, these facts represent the heartbreaking reality of knowing that their relatives and friends are losing their homes and living every day in fear of their lives – or worse. This afternoon I heard a woman talk about a friend she met on a visit to Palestine. Her friend’s sister had been killed before her eyes, as they were fleeing their home together.

Last month I heard a member of the local Palestinian community talk about the warning issued to his relatives in Gaza – they had five minutes to get out of their home before it was destroyed, leaving behind all their possessions, family photos, everything.

What’s happening in Gaza is connected to us in Brighton another way too. The EDO-MBM factory in Moulsecoomb, a subsidiary of Exelis Ltd, manufactures weapons suspension and release systems used in Gaza, among other places.

Weapons made in Brighton are among those destroying the homes of Palestinian civilians. This is not a faraway conflict that has nothing to do with us.

Joining the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the clearest way we can express our solidarity with the people of Gaza and the occupied territories, and our support for the Palestinian community in our city.

Please support the motion on October 23rd.

Yours sincerely,

 

Dani Ahrens