Open the gates of Gaza!

By Dave Bradney

I finally became disenchanted with the idea of Israel during 2006, when the Israeli “Defence” Force rolled into and over the southern half of Lebanon, wrecking and slaughtering for a month, killing 1200, wounding 4400 and displacing one million.

Before the Lebanon War there had been three previous Israeli “incursions” into Lebanon. The pretexts for all of which I will not bore you with.

From then on I could no longer see Israel as a plucky outpost of civilisation and democracy, of light, culture, talent and recovery from attempted genocide, situated precariously at the edge of a darkling plain. The people that I had imagined could never have done those things.

I began to wonder where that mirage had come from. I began to wonder what I had actually been looking at all this time. I began to do some reading – starting with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, through which Britain more or less offered Jewish activists parts of the Middle East which it did not own and at that point had not even taken by force. If you are not already familiar with all this stuff, please do inform yourself about it.

I began to read accounts of the mind-sets of the “founding fathers” of Israel – about their vision of a land in which they could build their state, a land which had no people or at least no proper people; about seeing indigenous Palestinians as “the stones of Judea”, that is to say as obstacles to be bulldozed out of the way.

Apparently, around 90% of Israelis support the recent/current “incursion” into Gaza, which at the time of writing has killed 2000, wounded 10,200 and displaced half a million (30% of the total Gazan population). This is the third Israeli “incursion” into Gaza since the start of 2008. Along with the West Bank, Gaza was supposed to have been self-governing since 1994. Israel claims to be affronted by the term “collective punishment”, yet – apparently – a vociferous minority of Israelis now supports the pro-war and potentially pro-genocide slogan: “There are no innocent civilians in Gaza”. Clearly there is a large degree of historical continuity between the actions of Israel today and the views of its “founding fathers”.

Of course some of the Gazans are doing bad things. They dig “terror tunnels” into Israel, out of which commandos emerge to get mown down. They fire small, mainly locally-built, short-range rockets which are more or less unguided and do little damage. And yet, when you have stolen a family’s house and thrown them onto the street, just outside, assertions about your own future security and your right to defend yourself take on a rather hollow ring.

I began to stumble across disturbing ideas of my own. Writing an email to someone, I was surprised to find I had written: “They have become the thing that hurt them”. This is of course reminiscent of the phenomenon which psychiatrists refer to as “traumatic bonding”, in which victims of aggression subconsciously decide to adopt the values of their aggressors, in order to feel less threatened. But that is a concept normally applied to individuals, not to whole nations and societies.

Later, in a slightly heated discussion on a blog, I came out with this: “I speculate (no more than that, but you show me a more believable speculation if you don’t like this one) that a long-term aim of the Israeli state is to push the Gazans back into the sea. Notice that this is what the Israelis accuse Iran of wanting to do to them. `He who smelt it dealt it’, as a friend of mine is wont to say …

“Notice that Gaza is conveniently laid out along the seaboard, and Israel’s 3km buffer zone, which it says civilians should leave, presses them towards the half of Gaza that is closest to the shore. Israel has stated that for now it is no longer interested in ceasefires [this position was later reversed, but may well be reinstated], and even when it has withdrawn its ground forces it can rely on the Palestinian rockets continuing, so it will continue to pound and smash, and will even escalate that on the grounds that it is still seeking to achieve deterrence. The Gazan health services are already at the point of collapse, and the conflict is too dangerous to allow in outside help, which in any case will be blockaded. So this will soon resemble a massacre, which some will begin to call a genocide. There will then be an international humanitarian initiative to evacuate the bleeding remnants of Gaza’s population (but where? Tunisia?) …

“And when the Palestinians have gone, forces of the Israeli state will enter and secure the empty wasteland and begin to transform it into the kind of sanitised consumer paradise which the Israeli people seem to like. With casinos, and an Iron Dome. Job done, till the next snag appears.”

I had not realised that I could envisage all that. Yet only a few days later I discovered that such ideas were already in currency in Israel. According to one commentator: “There is a persistent narrative promoted by Israeli newspaper columnists and politicians which should raise eyebrows in the West. They are calling for the dismantling of Gaza and the relocation of its people …” (1) Admittedly this is a commentator well outside the bounds of mainstream opinion, but the piece seems coherent and well-referenced.

So, enough of this first-person self-indulgence, what should we expect to happen and how should we prepare to respond? As you will gather I do not expect good things to come from Israel, but I would caution against seeing the speculation above as inevitable. At best it is something to be carefully borne in mind, at worst it is rampant paranoia, but I think a balanced view would be that it needs to be seen as one of a range of alternative scenarios that Israel wishes to keep available as a mid- to long-term option.

Meanwhile, we have a Gazan population and infrastructure that are – once again – battered, bleeding and traumatised, while international opinion is now distracted by the crises in Iraq and the Ukraine. The health service infrastructure is deeply degraded and any sustained lack of power and clean water will encourage epidemic diseases. Homes and public facilities need to be rebuilt. The whole economy needs to be restarted. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged that Gaza will be rebuilt again, but has added that this must be the last time.

Clearly the fullest practicable access to international aid and assistance must be provided, yet direct entry by sea and air is in the iron grip of the Israeli blockade, which began in 2007. An international airport built with $86m of aid was opened in 1998, was bombed by the Israeli “Defence” Forces in 2001, and has not reopened. Plans to build modern port facilities have been stalled for two decades.

Clearly the humanitarian opening of the gates of Gaza cannot be left to the Israeli state, which to all intents and purposes sees the Palestinians as its enemy. The UN has been calling repeatedly for an end to the blockade since 2008, and this is clearly the place to start in what will be a long process of wresting the political initiative out of Israeli hands. The collapse of the recent truce negotiations simply underlines that an intervention from the international community is essential and long overdue.

With the help of I have just set up the petition “UN to run Gaza’s border controls (sea and air)”, which states: “With international agreement, the UN should gently but firmly take the Gaza blockade out of the hands of the Israelis so that it can itself operate a humanised version of the blockade, in place of the present Israeli restrictions. The UN would hold an international conference at which it would seek everyone’s agreement to take over the running of the blockade from the Israelis. The UN version would not be called a `blockade’, it could be referred to as `internationally mandated border controls’, or something similar. The USA would use its authority as Israel’s main source of financial aid to ensure its cooperation.”

For simplicity I have not included land borders in the petition objective, since land borders are subject to two-state control. Sea and air borders, on the other hand, lead directly out into international waters and international air-space, and so movement across them should ideally be unproblematical.

The text of the petition goes on to list possible advantages and benefits which could flow from such a handover:

1. Humanitarian and human rights considerations would be built into the new border control regime, in a public and verifiable way. This would reassure the Palestinians.

2. Israel’s legitimate security considerations would be built into the new border control regime, in a public and verifiable way. This would reassure the Israelis [Israel will need to be convincingly assured that weapons and other military equipment and supplies are not being imported. Provided this can be demonstrated it is difficult to see what legitimate objections Israel could make to this proposal].

3. US involvement in the preparations for and implementation of this UN conference would be crucial, and would greatly improve the image of the US in the world [I am no fan of the US and its role in the world. It gives an annual $3bn in military aid to Israel, but I feel it is starting to sense that it gets very little back for that. Ideally for that amount of money you should be getting a strong regional proxy, but because of its regular “incursions” into other people’s territory Israel has achieved a near-pariah status that makes any constructive role on behalf of the US more or less impossible. An impression has been created that the tail is wagging the dog, and the US may feel that needs to be corrected].

4. This handover initiative would greatly improve the image of the UN in the world. If this isn’t the kind of thing that the UN should be doing, what is? [Israel’s behaviour over the years, including the flouting of many UN resolutions, has been a continuing source of embarrassment and humiliation for the UN, contributing significantly to its reputation for ineffectuality. I would argue that there is already a mood of impatience about this within the UN secretariat and General Assembly, fuelling pressure for some practical successes and achievements. Assuming responsibility for Gaza’s border-control arrangements might well represent a reputational coup for the organisation].

Please would you consider adding your name to this petition (2) and publicising it in any way that you can? Thank you for taking the time to consider this.

Dave Bradney, 22 August 2014





Dave Bradney is a retired journalist and former Green Party activist living in Wales (UK).

This article is Copyright © 2014 by David Bradney, and released under a CC BY-NDCC BY-ND 4.0 license.

Peace Camp — 28 July to 1 August 2014

Peace Camp, July 28 to August 1, 2014
Peace Camp, July 28 to August 1, 2014
Katie Gingerich writes:

My name is Katie Gingerich and I am Conrad Grebel’s Peace Camp Coordinator for 2014. I know that last year you were in touch with our previous coordinator, Sarah Klassen, about featuring Peace Camp on the KW Peace blog.

I am writing today in hope that you would consider featuring Peace Camp on the blog again this year. I’ve attached our current press release and two promotional posters for your reference. Please feel free to use any of this information.

I would be grateful if you could provide some information about the camp on your blog for families and youth who might be interested in Peace Camp.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Enjoy your afternoon!


Katie Gingerich
Peace Camp Coordinator
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount rd.
Waterloo, ON
N2L 3G6
519-885-0220 ex. 24291

Glad to help, Katie!

Conrad Grebel University College’s fourth annual Peace Camp is a memorable and meaningful summer camp option for youth aged 11-14. This week-long day camp, starting on July 28th, is action-packed with exciting activities, crafts, games, and field trips that will encourage youth to inspire lives, strengthen ties and make peace happen in Waterloo Region.

Last year, campers came away from Peace Camp with newly gained knowledge of themselves and their communities. One camper said, “Something I learned from Peace Camp that will stay with me was that a lot of people are different and have different situations and that kind of thing. Some of the things people have to do event to eat for a day.” Another camper said, “Peace Camp is great fun – you make lots of new friends. Peace Camp made me feel great about myself. I can’t wait to come back next year!”

Equipped with a 5-year grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation and on-going sponsorship from the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union and Josslin Insurance, Peace Camp 2014 is aiming to provide campers with an experience of “Epic Peace: Turning the World Upside Down.” Campers will embark on a voyage of learning and discovery where youth will collaborate with people in different neighbourhoods to help ordinary citizens do extraordinary deeds.

This summer’s theme of “Epic Peace” will allow youth to participate in activities that will teach co-operation and respect for others in the community. Together with the dynamic Peace Camp staff team, youth will learn about various issues in their local and global communities and equip them with knowledge, skills and passion for action.

Registration is now open! Peace Camp runs from Monday, July 28th to Friday, August 1st, 2013 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Peace Camp is committed to providing a low-cost program to make sure all interested youth can participate. The total cost per camper is $185, including lunch.

Register Online at:

Peace Camp at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo
Inspiring Lives. Strengthening Ties. Making Peace Happen in Waterloo Region.

Katie Gingerich – Peace Camp Coordinator
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, Ont. N2L 3G6

PeaceCamp, July 28 to August 1, 2014

Peace Camp, July 28 to August 1, 2014
Inspiring Lives, Strengthening Ties, Making Peace Happen in Waterloo Region

Peace and Justice Studies Association Student Conference – Thu-Sat, 17-19 October 2013

The University of Waterloo Calendar tells me:


Thursday, October 17, 2013 – 8:00 pm to Saturday, October 19, 2013 – 7:00 pm

What is PJSA?

The PJSA (Peace and Justice Studies Association) is a non-profit organization formed in 2001. It is a professional association for scholars in the field of peace and conflict resolution studies. It is the North American affiliate of the International Peace Research Association. This year, the PJSA Conference is co-hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) and Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC, UW). The conference starts on Thursday Oct 17th, 8:00 pm, ends on Saturday Oct 19th, at 7:00pm

The conference will take place at both Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) and Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC).

Pictures of a Day in the Park — Nonviolence Festival, Saturday 13 July 2013

Nonviolence Festival logoSaturday, 13 July 2013 was a wonderful Day in the Park, an event of the Nonviolence Festival.

The Welcome booth, showing banner "The Non-Violence Festival Day in the Park WELCOME"
Welcome to A Day in the Park

Booths at the Nonviolence Festival
Booths at the Nonviolence Festival

The Gazebo showing banner "Concert for Non-Violence"
The Gazebo

Nonviolence Festival - the alley
The alley on the island

Petitions for a Better Canada

In her latest newsletter, Eleanor Grant writes of several local events, followed by a number of petitions on federal issues as Canada Day approaches ….

ACTION: Are you sick of scandals and secret deals in Ottawa? Democracy Watch has launched 2 campaigns for better ethics rules:

Government Ethics Campaign | Democracy Watch

and Stop Fraud Politician Spending | Democracy Watch


ACTION: Tell Harper to support the G8 plan on closing Tax Havens: Canada Must Support the G8 Tax Haven Action Plan | Canadians for Tax Fairness


ACTION: “Fix the Bill” on banning Cluster Bombs. Canada has ratified a Convention to ban cluster bombs, but the bill to implement it, Bill S-10, is full of loopholes: Petition at Mines Action Canada. There is also a write to your MP tool on Mines Action Canada’s website tailored to the Bill S-10 issues. From the group that brought the ban on Landmines.


ACTION: NO to Genetically Modified Alfalfa: GM Alfalfa has now been Registered for use in Canada. CBAN says, “Our government is siding with multinational companies against the best interests of farmers and our food system. I do not accept this. Do you?” Email your MP instantly from Stop GM Contamination: Stop GM Alfalfa / Take Action – Canadian Biotechnology Action Network – CBAN


And don’t forget the MultiCultural festival next weekend June 22-23, and the Nonviolence festival Sat July 13 – both in Victoria Park.

Eleanor Grant writes a semi-regular e-mail newsletter on social justice issues. You can contact Eleanor at

Peace Camp at Conrad Grebel University College, 29 July to 2 August 2013

@PeaceCampGrebel holds a week-long Peace Camp from 29 July to 2 August

Sarah Klassen, the Camp Coordinator for Conrad Grebel Peace Camp writes:

Peace Camp July 29 -- August 2, 2013
Peace Camp Poster

Peace Camp is a week-long day camp for youth ages 11-14, where youth can participate in games, activities, sports, crafts, and drama similar to what  you would find at any other summer camp, but with a focus on peace and social justice. We use educational activities, engaging guest speakers, and exciting field trips to empower youth to work for peace in their homes, school, neighborhoods, communities, and country.

This summer, our theme is “Local Actions with Global Impact” and we will be looking at actions that we can take locally that will have a peaceful impact on our wider national and global communities. We have some great plans in the works for activities, guest speakers and field trips surrounding this theme that we think youth will really enjoy. Peace Camp 2013 will be held on July 29th to August 2nd from 9 am to 4 pm. The cost is $175 per camper, lunch included, and there are some subsidies available. We still have spots available for interested youth!

Note that the registration forms have to be in by 28 June 2013!

Here’s the press release:

Peace Camp aims for Global Impact with Local Actions

WATERLOO, ON—Conrad Grebel University College’s third annual Peace Camp is a memorable and meaningful summer camp option for youth aged 11-14. This week long day camp, starting on July 29th, is action-packed with exciting new activities, crafts, games, and field trips that will encourage youth to inspire lives, strengthen ties, and make peace happen all over the Waterloo region.

Last year a camper came away from Peace Camp saying: “I’ve learned so much that I’d like to remember my whole life. I’ve made so many great friends and counsellors I’ll never forget. I’ve learned that sometimes being sad because of a story makes you remember it even more. This camp really made me care about things and made me try harder to make the world better. I really want to come to this camp again because here, every game or story, or person you meet, means something. In this camp I’ve learned to stand up for what I believe in and NEVER give up no matter what!”

Equipped with a 5-year grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation and on-going sponsorship from the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union and Josslin Insurance, Peace Camp is embarking on a voyage of learning and discovery where youth will collaborate with people in different neighbourhoods to help ordinary citizens do extraordinary deeds.

Peace Camp partners with the peacebuilding organizations of Interfaith Grand River and House of Friendship, as well as organizations committed to reversing the effects of violence – Working Against Youth Violence Everywhere committee (WAYVE) and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Peace Camp is fortunate to be able to draw on the experience and expertise of these organizations to include people from all walks of life in peacemaking in Peace Camp’s programming.

Peace Camp Coordinator, Sarah Klassen, noted that “this summer’s theme ‘Local Actions With Global Impact’ will allow youth to participate in and experiment with arts, crafts, games, and sports that will not only teach co-operation and respect for others in the local community, but in the global community as well.” Youth will learn about actions that can be taken at home that can have a peaceful impact around the world.

Registration is now open! Peace Camp will be run from Monday, July 29th to August 2nd, 2013 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and lunch is included. Peace Camp is committed to providing a low-cost program to make sure all interested youth can participate. The total cost per camper is $175.00.

Register at
Twitter: @PeaceCampGrebel
Facebook: Conrad Grebel Peace Camp – Waterloo, ON – Education

Peace Camp at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo.
Inspiring lives. Strengthening Ties. Making Peace Happen in the Waterloo Region


Sarah Klassen — Peace Camp Coordinator
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, Ont. N2L 3G6
519-885-0220 x24291

Two new actions and events

Two actions, two events: Petition against tax evaders, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Israeli settlements, Dorothy Day documentary

Here’s the latest newsletter from Eleanor Grant:

Hello KW peace and justice supporters.

Two Events and two Actions:

ACTION 1 on Tax Evaders:

The G8 meeting this week in Northern Ireland will discuss a public registry to prevent individuals or corporations hiding their income or profits behind shell companies. But to implement this much-needed plan, the G8 needs unanimity. CANADA can either be the reason it fails, dooming us all to billions in extra taxes, or it can be the champion that ensures the deal passes.

Tell PM Harper you want Canada to be a backer not a blocker:
Avaaz – Harper: End the great tax scam


ACTION 2 on Climate:

In early May we passed the milestone of 400 parts per million of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere. This trend must be reversed if there’s to be a sustainable future on this planet.

A local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby is being formed. Read more at We Generate Political Will for a Livable World

There will be an initial meeting, at the organizer’s home, on Sat June 1, with lots more to follow. If you’d like to get involved in this, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch.


EVENT 1 on Israeli Settlements:

Thurs May 30, 7 to 9 pm,
UW Student Life Centre, Multi-Purpose Room:

A CHALLENGE TO JUSTICE: a PowerPoint presentation by Omar Ramahi, on Israel’s policy of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Omar was a 1948 refugee. Read more at Israeli Settlements: A Challenge to Justice | Waterloo Public Interest Research Group


EVENT 2 on Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement:

Tues June 4 at 7 pm,
Queen St Commons (43 Queen S Kit):

Documentary Screening: DON’T CALL ME A SAINT

Local sponsor Isaiah Boronka writes:
Dorothy Day’s life and the movement she founded exemplify an approach to issues surrounding peace and justice that place an equal emphasis on personal commitment & change as on social change – her remarkable life and the movement she helped start has had a profound influence on many, including KW’s own Working Centre.

Read more at: Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me a Saint


Hope to see you at these events.

And please sign the Avaaz petition at the top of this msg.

Eleanor Grant

Eleanor Grant writes a semi-regular e-mail newsletter on social justice issues. You can contact Eleanor at

Multicultural Festival and Non-Violence Festival

From Eleanor Grant’s newsletter:

And looking ahead:


Sat June 22 and Sun June 23
Victoria Park map 1
more at:

Nonviolence Festival’s 9th annual

Sat July 13 from noon to 5
on Victoria Park Island map 2
Read more, or request a table for your group, at

* * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks to all the good folks who are working to organize these events.

Eleanor Grant writes a semi-regular e-mail newsletter on social justice issues. You can contact Eleanor at

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes – Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Eleanor Grant writes:


On Wed June 5, the men in our community will combine their big hearts and big feet at the 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, in support of YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo.

The walk begins at the Waterloo Public Square map at 11:30. Walk (in red high-heeled shoes!) to Kitchener City Hall, where a lunch is provided. Event ends by 1 pm.

Get your pledge form at: Walk A Mile In Her Shoes – KW YWCA

Photograph of a similar event:

Eleanor Grant writes a semi-regular e-mail newsletter on social justice issues. You can contact Eleanor at