ACTION ALERT: Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter: Israel Central to World Unrest
July 23, 2006
Genevieve Cora Fraser
On July 6th, Harold Pinter's name appeared along with 300 prominent members of the Jewish Community in Britain in a full page ad published in the Times of London condemning Israel's massive assault on Gaza. Sponsored by Jews for Justice in Palestine, the ad asks, "What is Israel doing?" and laments""We watch with horror the collective punishment of the people of Gaza."
When Israel held Mordechai Vanunu in captivity (much of it in solitary confinement) for 18 years as a nuclear whistleblower, Britain's renowned playwright Harold Pinter served as a trustee for the Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Free Middle East. Since 2001, Pinter has promoted the Palestine Solidarity Campaign's boycott of Israeli products and tourism.
And when George Galloway, Britain's anti-Israel MP, declared that Ariel Sharon was a war criminal who deserves to be locked up for human rights abuses, Pinter supported Sharon's condemnation. He has not only been vocal about the desperate suffering of the Palestinians, but has gone so far as to declare Israel "the central factor in world unrest."
But Israel and its supporters in Washington and throughout the world would have a hard time condemning Pinter as an anti-Semite. Pinter was born in London to working-class Jewish parents of Ashzenazi ancestry. Three of Pinter's grandparents were from Poland and one from Odessa.
In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, "Art, Truth & Politics," Pinter stated, "…the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot."
In keeping with that philosophy, on July 6th, Pinter's name appeared along with 300 prominent members of the Jewish Community in Britain in a full page ad published in the Times of London condemning Israel's massive assault on Gaza.
Sponsored by Jews for Justice in Palestine, the ad serves as a "Call by Jews in Britain" and begins by asking, "What is Israel doing?"
"We watch with horror the collective punishment of the people of Gaza. Everything reasonable must be done to secure Corporal Gilad Shalit's safe release but nothing Israel is doing contributes to that aim. Instead, it is using its enormously superior military might to terrorize an entire people."
"Destruction of the fragile Gaza infrastructure will not release Shalit. Bombing power stations and cutting off fuel supplies deprives people of electricity, refrigeration, pumped drinking water and sewage disposal services. It holds hostage hospital patients on life support systems, or undergoing dialysis. It brings the threat of epidemics and starvation."
"As Gideon Levy wrote in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, this is "not only pointless, but… blatantly illegitimate". Gilad Shalit has become a pawn in the Israeli government's ongoing battle to topple the democratically-elected government of the Palestinians."
"Presenting this as an isolated hostage-taking incident ignores Israel's regular snatching of Palestinians from their homes. Thousands are held in 'administrative detention' without trial, women and children amongst them.
"A doctor and his brother — civilians — were kidnapped from their home in Al Shouka, near Rafah, the day before Corporal Shalit was captured. Like him, they need to be returned to their families in the established practice of prisoner exchange. And all elected MPs, punitively imprisoned by Israel in recent days, must be immediately released."
"For the US and its allies merely to call for 'restraint' is desperately inadequate — and evidently ineffective. This is a situation that requires determined action by the international community."
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