Israel’s 60th Birthday


ISRAEL IS NOT A GUEST OF HONOUR! FREE PALESTINE! by Dave
May 6, 2008, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Israel's 60th Anniversary, Italy, Peaceful Protest, Turin Book Fair | Tags: , , ,

Italy nakba anniversary 60 Israel

An article, report on past actions and report of future actions against the Turin Book Fair / celebrations in Italy.

“Gaza will sink – declared the president of the Popular Committee against Blockade, Jamal al-Khoudari – and the whole world bears responsibility for this. Immediate actions must be taken to put pressure on the occupation, in order to end this crisis.”

The situation of the Palestinian population is getting worse day by day. From the blockade/embargo against the Gaza Strip and Israeli raids by land and air in all the Palestinian occupied territories, to building the Apartheid Wall and the deteriorating living conditions of refugees and Palestinian residents in Israel, the Israeli authorities are persistently committing war crimes and violations of civil rights, ignoring dozens of UN resolutions and forcing millions to live in disastrous conditions.

Every day, at every checkpoint, soldiers humiliate elderly people, women and children, robbing the Palestinians of their daily life and of the time necessary to work, study, participate in politics, and plan their future. Scarcity and even sheer lack of food and fuel, produce a situation of intolerable poverty, while sanitary conditions in the refugee camps remain appalling.
What Israel is performing is literally politicide – the deliberate attempt at destroying social and political resistance, by means of periodic ethnic cleansing – against a humiliated, oppressed and occupied Palestinian people. All forms of organization, resistance, dissent and demonstration are forbidden to Palestinians. Even the most peaceful protest triggers the Israeli army to employ teargas or to shoot into crowds, while any militant action is punished with mass punishment. This is the macabre and racist bookkeeping of 21st century wars: for each Israeli dead or imprisoned, hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese are killed or arrested.

In this context of brutal misuse of power, international institutions remain silent, the western press censors and minimizes, the European and North American governments insist on stronger economic, diplomatic and military alliances with the Israeli government. Even the use of unconventional weapons and the devastation caused by the war against Lebanon in 2006, did not prevent all the G8 governments from proclaiming their faithfulness to their best ally in the Middle East.

With the same logic, Italian institutions are openly aligning themselves with Israel at all levels: from the President of the Republic to the governments of recent years, from local institutions to military and commercial ones, the strategic alliance with Israel is never discussed, in spite of the bloodshed that Palestinians must endure. From Silvio Berlusconi to Walter Veltroni, from Sergio Chiamparino to Giuliano Ferrara, from Gianfranco Fini to the most influential television and press journalists, they all pay the ritual homage of unconditional solidarity with the politics of the great ally, and the most conformist intellectuals are no exception. A radiant Berlusconi announced right after his election success that the first diplomatic journey of the new government will take place in Israel.

As a further insult, this year − which marks the sixtieth anniversary of the 1948 war and which the Palestinians experience as a symbol of mourning, both in their memory and in their present lives − one of the biggest cultural initiatives in Europe, the Turin International Book Fair, has chosen to invite Israel as the “guest of honour”, like the Paris Book Fair. In spite of the plea, signed by international writers and intellectuals from all over the world − among them Palestinian and Israeli − for the cancellation of such invitation and in spite of their demand that it be replaced with a dedication to a just peace, the city of Turin has decided to endorse the invitation.

This is a clear choice. It is a political choice, a one-sided choice: not only in the light of what is currently happening in Palestine, but also because the memory of 1948 is treated as a “celebration” in spite of the Nakba, the “catastrophe” of the Palestinians. 850,000 refugees on the run, 531 villages razed to the ground, tens of thousands dead, a dreadful legacy of blood and violence. Countless people, from Arab society and the whole world, who are appalled by what is happening, are asking: what is there to celebrate, to “showcase”, what is there to be happy about?

In our world of global and permanent war with its militarized culture, writers too must put on their helmet: such is the price demanded of the institutions of the countries waging war in exchange for a career, fame and money. For those who have neither fame nor money, for the landless and those without peace, where is hospitality? Where is honour? For the memory of the losers, the persecuted and oppressed, in Palestine as elsewhere, what hard high-backed chairs have been prepared?

Once again it will be up to the social and internationalist movements, the citizens, workers and students, also in response to the pleas from Palestine, to side with those who bear the brunt of the barbarous wars and the acts of infamy of global capitalist domination. The time has come to surge out onto the streets of Turin and for our protest to reach the Lingotto, the seat of the Book Fair, in order to demand:
– an end to the Israeli embargo and US and EU sanctions against the Gaza Strip;
– an end to military occupation of the territories;
– that the Apartheid Wall be destroyed;
– that the dignity and rights of Palestinians living within Israel’s borders be respected ;
– the right of return for all refugees;
– that all Palestinian political prisoners be freed.

While we denounce the authoritarian and militarist politics of Israel, and the difficulties that plague whoever shares a political culture or historical memory different from the official one, we demonstrate for:
– the end of diplomatic, economic and military alliance between Italy and Israel;
– cultural policies which take into account the memory and reasons of the oppressed and criticize the oppressors;
– full political freedom in Israel for the movements against war and the occupation;
– a full and effective lack of restrictions on historic research within Israeli universities;
– the release of all Israelis who have refused to report for military service.

ISRAEL IS NOT A GUEST OF HONOUR! FREE PALESTINE!


MEETING POINT:
CORSO MARCONI, TURIN
10TH MAY 2008 2pm

ASSEMBLEA FREE PALESTINE – TORINO

Email your support to: adesioni10maggio@infoaut.org

Cc: payday@paydaynet.org & womenstrike8m@server101.com


Events in Italy leading up to the national demonstration in support of the people of Gaza and for the boycott of Turin Book Fair, 10 May:

29 March Turin: 700 people rally in support of the boycott of the Turin Book Fair; Milan & Rome: activists picket Feltrinelli bookshop, a major Italian publisher of the left, which announced it will take part in the Book Fair.

21 April Bologna: picket of Feltrinelli. An enormous Palestinian flag unfurls from the top of Asinelli tower which is the symbol of the city.

29 April Bologna: The dean at the university bars a seminar about the boycott – students occupy the university and have the seminar anyway.

1 May Turin: Mayday march – 30,000 demonstrate, Israeli and US flags are burnt in the main square.

4-5 May public meetings in various cities.

5-6 May Turin: University, Seminar on “Western Democracies and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine” with Gianni Vattimo, Ilan Pappe (on video) Tariq Ramadani, Aharon Shabtai and Jonathan Rosenhead.

7 May Rome: public assembly to discuss how to take part in the national demo in Turin.

8 May Milan: Vigil in front of Corriere della Sera, one of the main Italian daily newspapers, which attacked the boycott.

10 May Turin: National demonstration, thousands expected.

For more information: in Italian see http://www.infoaut.org; in English see http://www.globalwomenstrike.net

Read the organizers statement, and support the demo by writing to the email address, above.

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