November 10, 2011

To Whom It May Concern

With Special Attention to:

  1. The Prime-Minister of Israel
  2. The Attorney General of Israel
  3. MK Reuven Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset

From Alice Walker, American Author and Jurist for the Russell Tribunal, Cape Town, South Africa
November 5-7, 2011.

It is with grave concern for MK Haneen Zoabi that I write to you today.  It is my understanding that Ms. Zoabi is being threatened with the loss of her Israeli citizenship, even though she is an indigenous Arab who has lived in what is now Israel for all of her life.  This does not appear democratic in the least, especially since this punishment is to be meted out for the simple reason that Ms. Zoabi has expressed her human right to oppose oppression and destruction of the Palestinian people by Israel;  and to speak publicly on their – and her own – behalf.  Which she has done previously by joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza and more recently by appearing as a witness at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Cape Town, South Africa, November 6th, 2011.

It is also appalling that the party- The National Democratic Assembly (BALAD)- that would represent  Arabs living in Israel is banned. In what way is this silencing of over a million Arab citizens in Israel democratic?

The members of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine that met last week in Cape Town, South Africa, heard testimony from many people who oppose Israel’s Apartheid and Persecution against the Palestinian people.  It is chilling: the history of Israel’s brutality against the people whose land constitutes the foundation of the state of Israel.  The over 26,000 house demolitions, the countless assassinations, the  huge number of murders, the theft of water and land, the arrogance and racism that I have personally witnessed on travels through the West Bank.  Not to mention the devastation of Gaza which I also witnessed shortly after the twenty-two days of bombing by Israel in 2008-2009.

I was moved by Ms. Zoabi’s testimony as well as the testimony of other Israelis, both Jewish and Palestinian.

Though it may well go unheard, I ask you to take care in your treatment of Ms. Zoabi and others of the witnesses from Israel.  They are clearly some of your best citizens whose voices will be needed to steer a course for Israel away from its dishonorable course of Apartheid and Persecution of people primarily guilty of being in Israel’s way to becoming a state that denies the rights of others while disingenuously and selfishly seeking to name and control everything for itself.

The world has awakened to what is actually happening, and has happened, in Israel/Palestine and people of the world are no longer mesmerized and held hostage by Israel’s clever defense and mythologizing of its behaviors.  We who were witness to the courage, righteousness and passion of Ms. Zoabi as she testified before the Tribunal recognize her greatness.  It would be to your advantage, if you wish to build a secure nation in which you honor all your citizens, to recognize this also.  She loves her country and her country-people, both Arab and Jew.  This she expressed with so much openness and beauty that many of us on the Tribunal were stunned.  One of the things she said that stayed with us all is that what is of most importance to her is not a one state or a two state “solution” but that everyone, Arab and Jew, have the freedom to fully express who they are: that this might be the democracy suitable to both peoples after such a long and bitter and unequal struggle.

We were privileged to hold this session of the Russell Tribunal in South Africa, home of so much sadness in the past.  Now struggling, imperfectly of course, to affirm it’s belief in a democracy that works for all its people.  We received the supreme blessing of hope from the South Africans joining us at the Tribunal. Black, white, and colored. Their stories were no less horrific than those of the Palestinians testifying: the difference was that theirs are in the past.  And, on their faces, one sees the peace of having won, at least to this point, a chance to work for a country that is just.

For the justice and peace

all humans hunger for,

Alice Walker

 

Published on: May 7, 2013

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