5 Shradhanjali,Sir Vithaldas Nagar, Sarojini Road, Santacruz (W), Mumbai
Seminar : "60 years of the Palestine - Israel conflict".
Tushar Gandhi: Chair
Ram Sagar Pandey: Overview
Irfan Engineer: Historical roots of the conflict.
Maren Karlitzy: The current situation within Palestine and the Global Solidarity movements.
Feroze Mithiborwala: Understanding Zionism.
Venue: Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan, 3rd fl, near Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi, Mumbai.
Date: May 9, 2008 / Time: 5 to 9pm.
Dear Friends,It was on the 14th of May 1948 that the State of Israel was established in Palestine. We are approaching the 60th anniversary of the fateful day that Israel was formally carved out in the Middle East, with the collusion of Britain, USA and the other European powers of the day. This day is poignantly referred to as the "NAKBA" or "Catastrophe" by the Palestinian people, who were subjected to a planned & systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide by the Zionist colonizers. More than 800,000 Palestinians comprising approximately half the population were driven out of their homes, villages, towns and cities due to the reign of terror unleashed by the Israeli militias.We also have to recognise the fact that despite the overwhelming odds, the Palestinian people valiantly struggled to save their nation from being occupied by the Zionists and till today the Palestinians continue to constitute the vanguard of our common struggle against Imperialism. It was the Balfour Declaration of 1917, issued by the British Empire that proclaimed the creation of a "Jewish Homeland in Palestine" and since then the Western powers have been complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other Arab lands.The alliance of US imperialism and Israeli Zionist expansionism has morphed into a formidable force. Though Israel stands largely exposed due to its brutal colonial occupation amongst the people of the world, there are far more governments and business corporations who todayhave diplomatic and economic relations with Apartheid Israel than ever before. The Israeli state has proved to be far worse than even racist apartheid South Africa in its treatment of the people that it has colonized. Equally true is the fact that the cause of Palestine continues to resonate globally. More and more social and political movements across the world continue to come forward & offer their solidarity with the people of Palestine and actively campaign for the boycott of Israel. India was one of the countries, which had always espoused the Palestinian cause and this policy even precedes our own independence. Therefore the roots of our solidarity with Palestine were built into the very foundations of our struggle against British Imperialism and this consensus existed across the spectrum of all the political parties, mass organizations & social movements, that were at the forefront of our national liberation struggle. As one of the founders and thus key constituents of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), India continued with our principled support to Palestine and our unambiguous opposition and boycott of Apartheid Israel. But unfortunately there has been a perceptible shift in our foreign policy, more so in context of our solidarity with Palestine.Much to our regret and shame, India is now Israel's biggest arms importer and moreover a vocal and strident champion of the flawed US inspired 'Global War on Terror'. India's ardent embrace of neo-liberal globalisation, its increasing collusion with the US government and the recent shift in its foreign policy, are amongst the prime factors due to which we are being drawn closer into the US-Israeli-EU axis and further away from the cause of the Third World and particularly the Palestinian people. These are matters of grave concern for us, the Indian people.
Today the growing role of India is critical, both to the cause of regional as well as global peace and stability. We the people of India need to reclaim our roots and stand with the People's and Nations struggling for their independence from colonial occupation and thus our solidarity with Palestine.It was in the above background that various representatives of political parties, mass & social organizations and individuals based in Mumbai, met at the Press Club on April 22, 2008, to discuss the proposal of reviving the movement for solidarity with Palestine. One of the primary objectives would also be to pressurize and thus influence the Government of India to follow a policy that clearly endorses and supports the Palestinian cause.
The meeting resolved to form an "INDIA PALESTINE PEOPLE'S SOLIDARITY FORUM" (IPPSF) with a view to involve all political parties, mass & social organizations & individuals, irrespective of their differing political orientations and views on other issues & to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian People in their struggle for a sovereign, democratic and independent nation. The Forum stands for a peaceful solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. We believe that a lasting and just peace is possible only when the international community can compel Israel to end its occupation and continued annexation of Palestinian and Arab territories. The Forum will campaign for a more proactive and concerted action on the part of the Indian government for solidarity with Palestine and demand an end to India's military and strategic ties with Apartheid regime of Israel, as we did in the case of South Africa.
The Forum proposes to reach out and link its efforts with all those who are committed to the cause of the Palestinian people, across the country and the world. It proposes to approach the authorities in India as well as other governments to lobby and advocate the Palestinian cause. We will also engage and work with the Jewish organizations who are committed to a just and peaceful solution to the conflict. The Forum will propagate the Palestinian issue amongst the public and will resort to all democratic means of creating awareness and sympathy for this cause.But first and foremost the Forum will initiate a dialogue and make a concerted attempt to get all concerned on board & thus take this process of solidarity ahead. Undoubtedly we have been unable to contact and obtain consent from many important political parties, mass & social organizations and individuals whose association with the process is highly essential and imperative.
Hence this appeal.The Palestine solidarity movement would definitely have a wider impact & prove more meaningful, if you agree to be a part of this process.Kindly do share your views,
Tushar Gandhi Feroze Mithiborwala