Regionen und Länder: Israel/Palästina Gaza campaign: A summing up -- by Gila Svirsky & Debby Lerman

newprofile message 846 from 06.12.2006

Friends,

The international campaign ''GAZA: Stop the Siege! End the War!'' was amazing, and embraced the entire globe. While individual actions may have been small, the cumulative impact of 107 cities holding protest and educational activities together is formidable. Some of the media reports were particularly effective and won access to broad international audiences. As we receive your reports, we will continue to post them and photos on http://gazasiege.net/partners.html.

The demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night was wonderful for its drive and intensity. We did not fill up the streets with our numbers (a few thousand came), but we did fill the air with our sounds and passion. Perhaps you can see that in some of the great photos done by ActiveStills at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/activestills
and the 3.5 minute video at
http://www.tv.social.org.il/medini/aza-2-12-06.htm.
Although the film is in Hebrew, you can get the flavor of the event: the crowd filled with young people, a march through the heart of Tel Aviv, the chanting and drumming, and even one brief incident when the ''special'' police forces attack part of the group, thinking they were threatening the nearby McDonald’s. We are grateful to the large ''Action for Peace'' delegation >from Italy, which included two members of parliament, the head of a trade union, and the unstoppable Luisa Morgantini, future vice-president of the EU parliament, who flew in for one day to participate in the event.

The speeches were eloquent, and we are attaching the English translations of two of them – one by Nomika Zion, a resident of Sderot, the town that was shelled incessantly from nearby Gaza, bringing the voice of one who does not seek revenge. And a speech by Rela Mazali, from New Profile, who explains that when a population is under siege, a ceasefire is meaningless. In Rela’s words, ''The siege of Gaza is fire in disguise…It creates a dominion of creeping, blind death; it doesn't even pretend to distinguish combatants from civilians. But first of all it kills the helpless.''

We continue to collect signatures on the petition, now exceeding 6,400. You can still sign on http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?SaveGaza. Please send us your lists immediately if you signed people on your own websites or elsewhere. In the coming days, women from Bat Shalom will be delivering the signed petition to the EU, US, UK, Italian, French, Spanish and other embassies in Israel, demanding that they call an end to the boycott. Let us know if you also want a copy of the signatures for your own advocacy work in your city.

The month has passed, but the siege is not over. What did we accomplish? First of all, we breached the wall of silence on this subject. We spoke out against a blatant act of immorality in which the governments of many countries are complicit. We introduced the concept ''end the siege of Gaza'' into political discourse.

It will take more to end this siege, but its existence will now figure more prominently in our political work when we look at the horrors of occupation. Occupation is not just about killing, wounding, separating, demolishing, and uprooting; it is also about withholding food, water, medicine, electricity, and basic living needs.

Above all, the campaign gave hope to some Palestinians who had none. In the words of Lama Hourani from Gaza, following her painful descriptions of the sights in Beit Hanoun, ''I don’t know what to do, desperate and depressed. Maybe one of the things that cheers me up sometimes and gives me hope is hearing about the solidarity activities that take place in different places in the world.''

There are many – Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals – who have their flickering hope kept alive by the work that all of us do throughout the world. Thank you for your partnership.

Shalom / Salaam,

Gila Svirsky, Jerusalem

Debby Lerman, Tel Aviv


On behalf of the Coalition Against the Siege of Gaza


Summary Activities

The Campaign Against the Siege of Gaza, initiated and led by the Coalition of Women for Peace, brought together 16 Israeli organizations [listed below] and over 100 international groups for a month of intense activities:

A mass rally was held in Tel Aviv (December 2) with approximately 3,000 participants and guest speakers from Israel and abroad, calling for an end to the siege of Gaza. Several thousand demonstrators marched through central Tel Aviv holding posters and beating drums, chanting loudly, drawing great attention to the message.

International: On the same weekend, demonstrations and other actions were held in 107 cities worldwide – see listing below – stimulating media coverage around the world. Reports about these actions are beginning to be posted at http://gazasiege.net/partners.html#list.

Printed material: An information brochure with questions & answers about Gaza was written and distributed in 20,000 copies throughout Israel. ''End the Siege'' posters were created by David Tartakover, Israel’s top political graphic artist – 1,500 were printed and many were hung outdoors in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. 10,000 stickers with messages against the siege of Gaza were distributed throughout the country.

A petition entitled ''GAZA: Stop the Siege! Stop the War'' garnered over 6,400 signatures (you can still sign) on http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?SaveGaza and another 1,500 via the Jewish Voice for Peace website. In the coming days, the petitions and signatures will be delivered to officials at meetings to be held throughout capitals in Europe, N. America, and Israel.

Lobbying: Discussions were held at the Israeli Knesset with members of parties in the Israeli government. Meetings with members of various European parliaments were held in Israel and Europe.

Four public education events about the siege were held in Jerusalem, a northern kibbutz, and two in Tel Aviv – of which one was at the Democratic Rainbow, an advocacy center for Mizrahi Jews.

A conference was held in Tel Aviv in which Israeli and Palestinian analysts presented. Another conference is planned for Jerusalem in December.

Street theater about the siege was held during the Rabin Rally – people chained together, black balloons saying ''SOS Gaza!'', and distribution of 10,000 flyers.

University activism – Students interrupted a speech by the Defense Minister with demands to end the siege of Gaza; students from the Haifa and Jerusalem universities distributed flyers at their schools.

Gaza convoys: Two highly visible actions took place on the Gaza border. In the first (Nov 11), a Palestinian group called Coalition for Jerusalem invited us to join them for a convoy of cars to the Gaza border. In the second (Nov 18), a car convoy was organized by Peace Now to Sderot and then Gaza. A group of Anarchists broke away from this and staged a very dramatic action at the border, leaving (fake) blood and photos of victims on the IDF tanks stationed there.

Beit Hanoun actions: Demonstrations were held in 3 Israeli cities (Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem) following the killings in Beit Hanoun.

Websites: A website was created for the campaign that carries information about the situation in Gaza, material for people who want to hold their own events, and reports from over 100 locations worldwide about their own campaign activities. In addition, over 70 websites in 6 languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Croatian, and Japanese) featured this campaign on their pages.

Media coverage varied throughout the campaign. Clearly, however, the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinians under siege received far more exposure during this period – TV, radio, press, news portals, etc. – as a result of this campaign, raising awareness inside Israel and abroad to the ongoing humanitarian crisis.


Participating Cities



New Zealand (4)

1. Auckland

2. Christchurch

3. Dunedin

4. Wellington



Australia (5)

1. Armidale

2. Canberra

3. Grafton

4. Melbourne

5. Sydney



Spain (5)

1. Barcelona

2. Palma de Mallorca

3. Santandar

4. Sevilla

5. Valencia



Germany (5)

1. Berlin

2. Bremen

3. Cologne

4. Hamburg

5. Muenster



Switzerland (6)

1. Bern

2. Biel/Bienne

3. Geneva

4. Lausanne

5. Lucerne

6. Zurich



Canada (7)

1. Fredericton

2. Montreal

3. Ottawa

4. Parksville/Qualicum

5. Toronto

6. Vancouver

7. Winnipeg



France (9)

1. Caen

2. Grenoble

3. Limoges

4. Lyon

5. Marseille

6. Nantes

7. Paris

8. Strasbourg

9. Vierzon



U.K. (10)

1. Brighton

2. Cardiff, Wales

3. Dundee, Scotland

4. Edinburgh, Scotland

5. Exeter

6. Glasgow

7. Keswick

8. Liverpool

9. London

10. Manchester



Italy (16)

1. Alba

2. Bergamo

3. Bologna

4. Como

5. Milano

6. Napoli

7. Padua

8. Ravenna

9. Roma

10. Savona

11. Schio

12. Torino

13. Treviso

14. Udine

15. Verona

16. Vicenza



U.S. (30)

1. Berkeley

2. Boston

3. Burlington, VT

4. Cambridge

5. Chicago

6. Dallas

7. Des Moines

8. Everett, WA

9. Fairfax-Marin, CA

10. Honolulu

11. Kingston, NY

12. Louisville

13. Madison

14. Minneapolis

15. New Brunswick, NJ

16. New York

17. Oakland, CA

18. Philadelphia

19. Phoenix

20. Portland

21. Sacramento

22. San Francisco

23. San Luis Obispo

24. Santa Cruz

25. Santa Fe

26. Saugerties, NY

27. Seattle

28. Tucson

29. Washington, DC

30. Woodstock



Cities in other countries

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

2. Ankara, Turkey

3. Athens, Greece

4. Belgrade, Serbia/Montenegro

5. Cape Town, S.Africa

6. Copenhagen, Dnmrk

7. Leuven, Belgium

8. Oslo, Norway

9. Vienna, Austria

10. Tel Aviv, Israel

Total 107 cities worldwide


Members of the Coalition against the Sieze of Gaza: Coalition of Women for Peace, Alternative Information Center, Anarchists against the Wall, Balad, Banki, Bat Shalom, Combatants for Peace, Gush Shalom, Hadash, High School Seniors Letter Group, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Maki, New Profile, Rabbis for Human Rights, Ta’ayush, The High Follow-Up Committee for the Arab Citizens in Israel, University Student Coalition – Tel Aviv, and Yesh Gvul.