Al Aqsa solidarity rally

By Sid Shniad
Vancouver Art Gallery
July 28, 2017

I am a member of the national steering committee of Independent Jewish Voices Canada. We are participating in today’s rally to demonstrate that you don’t have to be an Arab or a Muslim to support the people of Palestine. You just have to be human!


We are all here to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine, who are suffering under Israel’s continuing occupation of their land, including East Jerusalem, where the al Aqsa mosque is located. The latest crisis there should be seen in the context of the Israeli occupation, whose grip on Palestinian lives keeps tightening.


Israeli-born peace activist Miko Peled has accurately described the situation:

“Israel’s move to limit access for worshipers who wish to enter the Sanctuary and increase the number of security forces in the Old City is a very serious move… it comes on the heels of years of daily provocations. Arab East Jerusalem has been suffocated by the presence of armed [Israeli] soldiers for years. In Old City of Jerusalem the natural flow of life is constantly disrupted by Israeli security forces who walk through the streets and alleys fully armed and with the air of gangs wanting to start a fight. Even during the month of Ramadan, when the nights are festive, [when] the Old City is full of families and people are celebrating, soldiers are everywhere — threatening, humiliating, reminding Palestinians that they are under occupation.”
Peled continues:

Over two million people in the Gaza Strip – some 50 miles from Jerusalem – are dying of thirst and heat because of a siege imposed by Israel. Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners sit in Israeli jails, and Palestinians everywhere must go through a daily routine of humiliation, oppression and violence where young Palestinians are shot almost daily. The current events in Jerusalem are a glaring example of Palestinian restraint and a commitment to freedom and non-violence. Whatever expression of violence we see from the Palestinians are an exception, while Israeli violence is systemic, sponsored and planned by the state.”
Palestinian leader Isso Armo explained the significance of this week’s events:
Nonviolence is our best defense against the ongoing occupation and land grabs that we face every day, whether that be in Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus or elsewhere. It is our best defense against the assaults on our basic human rights, including our right to pray. And this past week proves that my belief is spreading throughout Palestinian society.


What you witnessed this week when Israel took down the metal detectors [at al Aqsa] was nothing short of the triumph of nonviolence over the occupation. And while it’s true that individuals carried out violent acts, against two Druze police officers and three Israeli settlers, these are the actions of individuals, while the face of this revolution has been the faces of many Palestinians engaged in nonviolence.”
So, what can we who are gathered here do to extend solidarity to the Palestinian people and help speed the end of their suffering? We can follow the lead of Palestinian civil society, which put out a call in 2005 for people around the world to use organized non-violence to put pressure on Israel through an escalating campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, until IsraelJuly 3
• Ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in 1967 and dismantles its apartheid Wall;

• Recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

• Respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.
We need all of our churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras, trade unions, sports clubs, social clubs and other groups to take up the Palestinian cause by getting involved in the BDS campaign. If you are a member of a group, please take up this issue in your organization. Convince them to take a stand for justice.


Before we leave today, each of us should commit to taking action to put pressure on Israel. If you need help doing this, feel free to contact any of the organizations that co-sponsored this demonstration.



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