INTERNATIONAL CELEBRITIES SAY “NO” TO COOPERATION BETWEEN AMSTERDAM AND TEL AVIV”
On October 15th the Coalition Amsterdam for Palestine handed a petition to mr Eberhard van der Laan, mayor of Amsterdam, on behalf of 37 international celebrities. The petition calls on the Municipality of Amsterdam to postpone its proposed cooperation with Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
The 37 signatories are (former) politicians, UN rapporteurs, lawyers, human rights activists, academics, artists, researchers, journalists and prominent citizens, all of whom work at high level for the rights of the Palestinians and equal rights for Palestinians and Jews in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The signatories are from South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Egypt, Palestine and Israel.
Postponement is not a boycott. Postponement means no new privileges for an occupying power that repeatedly violates international law. Postponement gives a strong message that Amsterdam desires to cooperate with institutions and companies once the conditions have been reached in which Israel and the Palestinians can coexist in freedom and equality.
Amsterdam for Palestine is a coalition of more than thirty organizations that are committed to justice for the Palestinians, see www.amsterdamvoorpalestina.nl.
The mayor of Amsterdam mr Eberhard van der Laan (left) receiving the petition from Sonja Zimmermann (Amsterdam voor Palestina) during the Amsterdam Council Meeting of October 15, 2015
NO COOPERATION BETWEEN AMSTERDAM AND TEL AVIV – JAFFA!
A petition by Amsterdam voor Palestina, Netherlands
Amsterdam is investigating the options for cooperation with Tel Aviv – Jaffa. The earlier plan for formal twinning was discarded due to lack of public support. The undersigned condemn the current investigation into cooperation and urge the City of Amsterdam to refrain from cooperation plans.
Amsterdam municipality seeks to legitimize its cooperation plans by drawing a sharp line between the municipality and people of Tel Aviv – Jaffa and the state of Israel. But as capital, the conglomerate Tel Aviv – Jaffa symbolizes all of Israel. Its past and present are tainted by Israel’s policy of Judaization of Palestinian territory.
In 1947, the Palestinian city of Jaffa with its surrounding villages, already then famous for citrus production, counted about 120,000 inhabitants. However, 95% of the original Palestinian population was expelled so Israel could be founded. Palestinian Jaffa, now called Yafo, was the epicenter of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
To date, under the administration of Mayor Ron Huldai of Tel Aviv, a slow form of ethnic cleansing continues, as the municipality separates itself from the Palestinian population by breaking down their neighborhoods and establishing new neighborhoods for Jewish residents.
Amsterdam wept for the loss of its Jewish population during the Second World War. But Tel Aviv has not even begun to come to terms with its past. Far from addressing the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees ordained by the United Nations, it continues to marginalize its remaining Palestinian inhabitants.
The position of remaining Palestinian residents of Tel Aviv – Jaffa is much inferior to Jewish residents. As elsewhere in Israel, Palestinians are subjected to petty and institutional discrimination, with the law differentiating between Jews and non-Jews. This applies to all sectors, including housing rights, education, and employment. Based on international standards the regime against Palestinians can be defined as an apartheid regime.
“This is a time when the great cities of the world should be standing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for peace with justice, and to do this, requires Amsterdam to exhibit displeasure with Tel Aviv, and definitely not a time for cooperative ventures.”
A decision for cooperation between Amsterdam and Tel Aviv – Jaffa can only be understood as tacit support to the Zionist state of Israel and its present ultra-nationalist Government. Israel continues to ignore all calls to abide by international law and human rights. It has destroyed and isolated the Gaza Strip. The UN Commission of Inquiry into the War on Gaza of 2014 has revealed many practices indicating war crimes. These are now under preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.
The present Government has openly opposed a Palestinian state and aims to annex all territories occupied in 1967. It has ordered the destruction of several Palestinian villages, houses, farmland and infrastructure (sometimes funded by the Netherlands and the EU), making Palestinians homeless and penniless. It has desecrated the Al Aqsa mosque, the third sanctuary of all Muslims after Mekka and Medina, in occupied Palestinian territory, with armed attacks on Palestinian worshipers by Israeli soldiers, setting on fire and trampling the interior of the mosque. Properties of Palestinian churches and Christian communities have been confiscated for the construction of occupation infrastructure.
The Netherlands has a growing Palestinian community, many having fled Israeli violence in 1948 and/or 1967, including new arrivals coming van Syria. For them a decision of Amsterdam to cooperate with Tel Aviv – Jaffa will be extremely hurtful because of the losses and trauma they suffered at the hands of Israel. It will likewise cause pain to Muslim communities, who overwhelmingly sympathize with the Palestinians.
“In the face of Israel’s colonist and apartheid policies against the Palestinian people, it is morally imperative that Amsterdam refrains from co-operation with Tel-Aviv, until Israel meets its Human Rights and International commitments and does the right thing for the Palestinian people”
From 2014, Human Rights are included in Amsterdam’s International Policy. The Netherlands is host to numerous international organizations such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. As the capital of the Netherlands Amsterdam should therefore set an example with respect to international law.
Numerous European companies and municipalities outside the Netherlands have now decided to restrict cooperation and trade with Israel until it respects international law and human rights. If Amsterdam decides to actively collaborate with Tel Aviv – Jaffa it would lend implicit support to and in fact normalize Israel’s policy of occupation, colonization and apartheid. Amsterdam would place itself on the wrong side of history, and cause damage to its reputation internationally.
Therefore, we call on Amsterdam to refrain from cooperation with Tel Aviv – Jaffa, until Israel respects the rights of the Palestinians and abides by international law.
1. Richard Falk, Former Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, UN Human Rights Council, 2008 – 2014
2. Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Peace Activist Northern Ireland, Nobel Peace Prize 1976
3. Alice Walker, Writer of “The Color Purple”
4. Ahdaf Soeif, Journalist, writer , Booker Prize for Fiction
5. Raji Sourani, Human Rights defender, director Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
6. Michael Mansfield QC, Barrister
7. Ronnie Kasrils, Former minister of Intelligence South Africa
8. Christiane Hessel, Spouse of Stéfane Hessel (Co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
9. Ben White, Essayist, writer of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide
10. Ken Loach, Film director, three times prize winner at Film Festival in Cannes
11. Sami Abou Shhada, former Member of City Council Tel Aviv Jaffa
12. Haneen Zoabi, Member of Knesset
13. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Professor at Hebrew University Jerusalem, founder of Bereaved Parents Families Forum Israel/Palestine, Sakharov Prize Laureate 2005
14. Salman Abu Sitta, Writer of “The Return Journey”, founder of the Palestine Land Society
15. John Dugard, Professor Emeritus University of Leiden; former Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 2001-2008
16. Ali Abunimah Writer of “One Country”
17. Dina Matar, Researcher and writer of “What it Means to be Palestinian” 18. Ronnie Barkan, Israeli activist, conscientious objector and co-founder of Boycott from Within
19. Mohamed Omer, Martha Gelhorn Prize for Journalism 2007, writer of “Shell-Shocked”
20. Hanine Hassan, Researcher
21. Ramy Abdu, Chair Euromed Human Rights Monitor
22. Ilan Pappe, Historian, writer of “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
23. Max van den Berg, oprichter Nederlands Auschwitz Comité
24. Pierre Galand, Chairperson Russell Tribunal on Palestine; European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine
25. Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Transnational Institute & Institute for Policy Studies
26. Kees van der Pijl, Fellow, Centre for Global Political Economy, Professor Emeritus, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex.
27. Ruud Peters, Emeritus professor Islamic Law University of Amsterdam
28. Paul Aarts, Lecturer Political Sciences University of Amsterdam
29. Ingrid Rollema, Artist / Founder of Theatre of Wrong Decisions / International Lawyer)
30. Tineke Bennema, Writer of “De last van Khalil”
31. Jan Keulen, Journalist
32. Sietse Bosgra, former anti-apartheid activist of the Holland Committee on Southern Africa
33. Peter Cohen, Amsterdammer
34. Wim Bartels politicoloog en theoloog, oud Internationaal Secretaris IKV
35. Toine van Teeffelen, antropoloog en onderwijskundige werkzaam bij Arab Educational Institute, Bethlehem
36. Beate Zilversmidt, Amsterdammer-in-Tel Aviv
37. Adam Keller, Tel Avivian