23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 19-12-2014 04:50

      Friday 19, December 2014

      PREVIEW: Palestine: What hope peace?

      Credit: Kerry-Anne Mendoza

      Independent journalist and owner of the Scriptonite Daily news blog Kerry-Anne Mendoza travelled to Israel and Gaza during the height of Operation Protective Edge, to tell the story she believes we never see…


      Kerry-Anne has been travelling to Israel and the occupied territory since 2002, and she made the decision to report on Operation Protective Edge this summer due to the way the onslaught was being reported by the professional media, which ‘infuriated her’.


      Speaking in Jerusalem during ceasefire talks in August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel's intense bombardment of Gaza, saying that despite the high civilian death toll it was a ‘justified’ and ‘proportionate’ response to Hamas attacks, a view Kerry-Anne vehemently opposes.


      ‘‘Even if it was ostensibly sympathetic coverage in the sense that they were reporting on the deaths of the thousands of Palestinian civilians that were being killed, it was always from the context of Israel’s security,’’ said Kerry-Anne.


      ‘‘So we wanted to not only show people what life is like in onslaught, but also why that onslaught is happening and why it will continue to happen until we create a just peace in the Middle East.


      ‘‘Peace is a really important word. The reason I picked the title that I did, was that everyone in this situation says they want peace, so it’s almost become meaningless, because until you ask ‘what does peace mean to you’ then you understand the majority of Israeli society right now, certainly the Israeli government, are not interested in peace at all. What they really want is quiet.’’


      The message the film sends is that ‘we have to dispense with fairy tales’. Kerry-Anne believes that we have to give up the notion that Israel is a liberal democracy; rather it should be treated in the same way as Apartheid South Africa, the French occupation of Algeria and all the colonial occupations in history.


      ‘‘The biggest movement at the moment is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is starting to have a real impact on Israel right now, and it really can have an enormous impact in the future’’, says Kerry-Anne.


      ‘‘It’s a full boycott. Our companies should not be making profits from this occupation, our academics should not be teaching there, our pop stars should not be performing there, and this has to be a complete and utter boycott of the nations until it falls under international law.’’


      On August the 27th a truce was announced between Israel and Gaza, ending seven weeks of fighting which had seen over 2,200 people dead, the majority Palestinians. But Kerry-Anne believes it isn’t a ‘ceasefire in the sense that most people would recognise,’ with violence still breaking out.


      ‘‘Aid is not even getting into Gaza in the scales required, it’s going to take 20 years and 20 billion dollars to get Gaza even back to the state it was in prior to Operation Protective edge,’’ said Kerry-Anne.


      Credit: Kerry-Anne Mendoza


      ‘‘This is the fourth (operation) in eight years, so one: I would assert that there isn’t a genuine ceasefire in place anyway, and two: there’s a very simple way to end the conflict but unfortunately it’s a solution which there is minimal support for within Israel, and that is the truth that Israel faces, it can be a democracy or it can be a Jewish state. It cannot be both.’’


      During previous trips to Israel, Kerry-Anne always struggled to reconcile what she saw Israel doing in the West Bank and the Gaza strip, compared to what she experienced by spending time with Israeli’s in Israel, describing Israeli society as ‘friendly, open and warm.’ But on this latest trip she was stunned by the level of racism she found in the country.


      ‘‘You have signs going up, particularly in Jerusalem, across the country saying death to Arabs, kill all Arabs, and it’s all in the mainstream. These aren’t extreme views.


      ‘‘The Prime Minister, the cabinet, from civil society, from secular civil society, it’s coming from the religious leaders of the country on the public pay roll, just everywhere. The blanket mainstream view is frankly genocidal. You even had a blog in the summer by the Times of Israel site, entitled when genocide is permissible.’’


      Speaking in August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘‘Our enemy is Hamas, our enemies are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people and we have taken extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties.''


      But that doesn’t tally with what Kerry-Anne found, which was the citizens of Gaza in a state of shock.


      ‘‘People are stunned, not understanding why the world views them as a problem, it’s really hard to be standing there with people when they are homes just been destroyed, their school has been blown up, the kids have been killed, they’ve just taken sheets from the rubble of their destroyed home, it’s hoisted on sticks and their living in a makeshift tent, and they are looking at you and saying ‘why don’t they see as people’?


      Kerry-Anne was previously a supporter of the Two State solution, which calls for ‘two states for two peoples,’ a solution that envisages an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. However, she now believes that this isn’t workable.


      ‘‘That’s what moved me from being a supporter of the two state solution to saying no, Israel just cannot exist as a Jewish state, which is a big leap for me, my wife is Jewish, my in-laws are Jewish. They got there before I did; I’ve been advocating a two state solution when they have been saying I don’t think it will work.’’


      The film will be shown tonight at the Friends Meeting House on Mount Street, Manchester. Tickets are available on the door or in advance online at https://www.evetbrite.co.uk/e/palestine-what-hope-peace-film-screening-and-live-qa-with-director-tickets-14842551471


      The film features Max Blumenthal, Roger Waters, Ken Loach, Mohammed Omer, Michael Mansfield QC, Gideon Levy and others.


      Kerry-Anne will be holding a live question and answers session after the screening.


      Watch the trailer here: