For Immediate Release
San Diegans call on URJ members to speak out against Netanyahu when he addresses their convention
Wednesday December 11, 2013.
San Diego -- On Wednesday December 11, 2013, thousands of members of the largest branch of Judaism in the U.S. will gather in San Diego for the 2013 Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial. We, a coalition of organizations in San Diego working for justice and peace in the Middle East, were dismayed to learn that Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited to become the first sitting Israeli Prime Minister to address the gathering.
Over the past few years, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) has passed numerous discriminatory laws, culminating in the approval of the Prawer Plan on June 24, 2013. The Plan will result in the destruction of more than 35 Palestinian Bedouin villages in Al-Naqab and the forced expulsion and confinement of more than 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. Their only crime is living on their ancestral lands, which the Israeli government intends to repopulate with Jews. Just this past June, the Religious Action Center (RAC) spoke out and joined over 750 rabbis, numerous human rights groups, and Bedouin communities in asking Netanyahu to stop the Prawer Plan.
Recent news reports suggest that the current version of the plan may be scrapped, but all indications are that forced removal of Bedouins from their homes will not only continue, but intensify. Further, Bedouin communities remain without basic services like water and electricity, while Jewish villages and towns in the area enjoy full access to public services.
The forced removal of Palestinian Bedouins would be the largest Israeli land grab since the creation of Israel in 1948, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed. Sadly, it is in line with decades-long Apartheid policies that include the imposition of a brutal military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, treating Palestinians in Israel as second-class citizens and denying millions of Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes.
Netanyahu's government, arguably the most racist in Israeli history with members who openly advocate the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinian population, has continued the massive expansion of illegal Israeli colonial settlements in the West Bank and the continued siege of the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has also been the principal advocate internationally for war on Iran.
We call on members of the URJ to take a stand against Apartheid, racism and oppression when Netanyahu speaks. We ask participants in the convention not to celebrate the very kinds of discrimination and oppression that URJ members have fought against in the past.
Media contact: Dr. Nasser Barghouti, Nasserb63@yahoo.com. (760) 846.1787
San Diego BDS Committee
Jewish Voice for Peace, San Diego
San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice
International Socialist Organization, San Diego
Veterans for Peace, San Diego
Canvass for a Cause
Student for Justice in Palestine, SDSU
Student for Justice in Palestine, UCSD