The Devilis Punchbowl Youth Hostel provided the perfect base for a walking and talking weekend focused on prospects for a just peace in Palestine, and also for the start of a speaking tour by Israeli peace activist Ruth Edmonds, Advocacy Officer of ICAHD in Jerusalem.
In the nearby Thursley Village Hall on Saturday, 28th September, the group hosted a typical Palestinian welcome meal, before hearing from Ruth about the difficulties Jewish Israelis face in opposing their governmentis policies towards the Palestinians.
Ruth began by focussing on Israelis military occupation policies since 1967. These include land confiscation, and the demolition of 48,000 homes, displacing thousands of families and enabling Israel to construct a web of settlements for 600,000 Jews on occupied territory, all in violation of international law.
Ruth addressed the changing political situation. Public outrage in many countries at Israel’s recent punitive onslaught on the people of Gaza has brought the issue of the occupation back into the daylight.
In Israel itself, this reaction has polarised society and Ruth described the unpleasant treatment meted out to those resisting the Israeli government. She pointed out that Palestinian peace activists are dealt with much more harshly than their Jewish colleagues. She urged her listeners to support the non-violent strategy adopted by Palestinians, a strategy that succeeded in South Africa, of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Although she emphasised that this strategy cannot use the South African BDS campaign as a precise blueprint, that a different struggle requires differences in approach, this non-violent approach, together with effective lobbying of our government, are ways to put pressure on Israel to end the Occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. These are the core policies that will best break the cycle of violence and lead to a just and sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Responses by some who heard Ruth speak:
This is a voice we rarely hear but need to hear.
She was amazing, wish there were more like her in Israel.
Brave, brave woman! Go hear her speak, you won’t be disappointed.
I learned something new (from Embrace ME staff member who frequently travels to Palestine). Great meeting and atmosphere!
One of the best speakers weive had. I learned so much. (Jewish PSC member)
Ruth is wonderful!