Creating people's geographies
Do petitions matter? Do they help to effect social progress? In this 2 minute video Amnesty answer with a resolute (perhaps romanticised to some) yes.
We do well to recall that Martin Luther’s 95 Theses apocryphally nailed to the church door of Wittenburg in 1517 practically launched the Reformation, and petitions and pamphlets have had an important effect in countless other events in history. Affixing our signatures to an important statement is often symbolic, but symbols can be powerful too. Signing a petition may not be a substitute for the full spectrum of actions we can take, but it can be a powerful start.
I am including a petition to Richard Silverstein‘s petition on the first reading of the Israeli Knesset’s profoundly discriminatory Jewish National Fund (JNF) bill. It is encouraging to see some prominent Israelis speaking up against this possible further legislating of apartheid (see, for example, Yossi Paritzky, Our Apartheid State in Y-Net).
ADDENDUM: See also Richard Silverstein’s The ‘Right’ to Discriminate in Guardian’s CIF.
The petition reads:
We the undersigned express our profound disapproval and sorrow at the Israeli Knesset’s recent passage, on first reading, of the Jewish National Fund bill. The bill would prohibit Israel’s Arab citizens from leasing land owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and managed by the Israeli Land Authority (which administers 93% of Israel’s land). The Israel High Court had earlier ruled that the ILA cannot discriminate against Arabs in leasing such land. This new legislation is an attempt to circumvent that ruling.
We applaud the High Court for putting an end to a discriminatory practice that should never have existed within a democratic state. We also applaud the Israeli MK’s, Jewish and Arab that voted against the amendment. If Israel is to be truly democratic, all its citizens must have the right to lease land held in trust by the government of Israel. Israel must not settle for anything less.
We call upon to the Knesset to defeat the amendment when it comes up for its next reading and to embrace values of equality and tolerance for all its citizens.
On a related note, IHT reports on a small positive development in a significant number of US evangelical leaders stepping forward to voice support for Palestinian rights.
A letter signed by 34 evangelical leaders was sent to Bush on Friday, stating in part that they supported the creation of a Palestinian state “that includes the vast majority of the West Bank” and both Israelis and Palestinians had “legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine.”
What a refreshing departure from the rabid “Christian Zionist” dispensationalists Hagee et. al. who obviously doesn’t speak for all Christian evangelicals he caricatures!