Creating people's geographies
UPDATED: many thanks to Jenny Tonge for kindly responding to a query about full Hansard transcript availability which has allowed me to feature more of her address. Parliamentary debate transcripts at both the House of Commons and House of Lords can be found on the Hansard link here by date and member name.
The Palestinians have been brought to their knees. A cultured and well educated society with high skill levels has been reduced to a third-world country. The statistics are there for all to see. If noble Lords do not believe me or any of the other speakers, the Select Committee for International Development in the other place produced a good report this year. I hope that noble Lords will read it. It tells of injustice—injustice to Palestinians.
The new Government talks of rebuilding the economy in Palestine and of getting the Palestinians back to work, which is very welcome. But how will they do that with road blocks, checkpoints and Bantustans divided by settler-only roads? How can an economy work in this situation?
Even education is being destroyed as children are terrorised by raids on their schools. Exams in Nablus, for example, were disrupted only last week by the IDF. An unskilled and illiterate generation will emerge, capable of very little except low-wage labour. The economy cannot be rebuilt unless Israel changes its policies.
Therefore, the problem remains—how do we persuade Israel to change? We want Israel to be a secure and prosperous state—and I say that sincerely. How can anyone in Israel believe that the present situation will give them what they want, long-term security. I am not anti-Semitic, but I am appalled by the racist, apartheid state of Israel. I use the word “apartheid” in its literal sense—it means separation—because that is what is going on.
Policies of the western countries towards Israel must change. Israel must be made to understand. We must consider trade sanctions and boycotts, if necessary, to make that country obey international law. The present situation is a disaster for Palestinians. It is a disaster for Israel. It is a disaster for the whole world. It has to change.
Thank you, Jenny Tonge. Hope you are holding up well with the usual character smears and pathetic denigration this kind of speaking truth to power elicits from the Likudnik ideologues. Of course, unlike them, Dr Tonge has actually been to Gaza and seen conditions for herself. Dr Tonge, who cites her proudest achievement in parliament since 2001 as “highlighting the plight of the Palestinians under occupation by Israel”, is a treasure.
In other positive developments, Ha’aretz reports that Germans have protested the sale of food from West Bank settlements.
The opening of “Israel Week” at the Galeria Kaufhof department store in Berlin saw a demonstration against Israeli food products originating in the territories on Saturday, with protesters holding signs reading “No to settlement products” and “Stop the Israel-EU Association Agreement.” Groups participating included The Jewish Voice, a Jewish-German organization opposed to the occupation, and Solidarity with Palestine.