Voice of Palestine Commentary (Jan. 2, 2013)
“To Speak in Muffled Tones…would be Less Than Human”
– Nelson Mandela
Since Kairos Palestine issued The Bethlehem Call: Here we stand – Stand with us just over a year ago, Israeli injustices have multiplied. Illegal Israeli colonies continue to be built on stolen Christian and Muslim Palestinian lands, putting economic hardship and the brutal matrix of control on the Palestinian civilian population; Bethlehem Christians feel the squeeze as Israeli settlements spread with 22 colonies now surrounding the holy city. Ethnic cleansing continues all over historic Palestine, and the Apartheid wall devours Palestinian land with new plans to encircle the Cremisan Monastery near Bethlehem and force even more Palestinians to leave their homeland. Israeli military aggression goes on unabated, the most recent being the brutal 8-day attack and bombardment on Gaza.
The original Bethlehem Call received some support from Christian churches in the West, but largely, it fell on deaf ears since the majority of churches in the West either support Israel unconditionally or claim neutrality and only “speak in muffled tones”.
Israel is also being empowered by the unconditional support of the US, Canadian and other Western governments; the US economy is being sustained by its weapons sales to its Arab lackey (and dictatorial) regimes that are the principal purchasers of American arms (the US tripled its global arms sales in 2011 to US$66.3 billion).
We can NOT count on our governments to support human rights and democracy; it is well-known that they are the ones who are supporting and maintaining dictatorships in the Arab world and they are the ones that are supplying weapons to Israeli Apartheid. Atrocities and war crimes in the Holy Land should and must be challenged; as Desmond Tutu said, we should not be “neutral in situations of injustice” unless we “have chosen the side of the oppressor”. Our only hope is that grassroots organizations, conscientious trade unions, churches and other progressive parties will answer the Bethlehem Call and the Palestinian Civil Society call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
It was done against South African Apartheid; it also can and will be done against Israeli Apartheid.
We hope next year will bring a qualitative change and that we will celebrate the holiday season in a free Bethlehem and a free Palestine!!
HERE WE STAND – STAND WITH US!
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu
“The temptation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine … yet we would be less than human if we did so.” Nelson R. Mandela