Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Palestine
|In their own words
|The YWCA of Palestine envisions an independent and free Palestinian democratic state where justice and peace, tolerance, equality, respect for the rights and dignity of human beings, gender equity, freedom of expression, social justice, pluralism and cultural diversity and women’s leadership are promoted and sustained.
- YWCA does not publish funding details or amounts, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
- Donors include Italy, Bread for the World (Germany), Christian Aid (UK), Kerk in Actie (Netherlands), KFUK-KFUM (Norwegian YMCA-YWCA), and the United Nations.
- YWCA rhetoric includes accusing Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid”; participating in BDS campaigns; promoting a Palestinian “Right of Return”; and supporting the Kairos Palestine document, which calls for BDS against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and rationalizes, justifies and trivializes terrorism, calling it “legal resistance.”
- In October 2021, YWCA was a signatory on a statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the statement, “This illegitimate decision comes in the context of the continuation of the occupation and apartheid state’s attacks on the rights of the Palestinian people…The undersigned organizations salute the struggles of the Palestinian people and their legendary steadfastness; and they appreciate the efforts of human rights organizations and Palestinian civil society organizations, especially the organizations targeted by this illegitimate decision.”
- In June 2021, YWCA signed a joint statement against Israel calling to “expel the apartheid state from the United Nations.” According to the statement, “the fundamental reason for the conditions in the whole of occupied Palestine is due to… the continuation of the policies of the usurping entity of Palestine in 1948, and the complicity of the dominant colonial states in the brutal capitalist system with the policies of the occupying state and apartheid.”
- In July 2020, YWCA was a signatory on an appeal to the United Nations referring to Israel’s alleged “shoot-to-kill policy” as “contributing to the maintenance of Israel’s apartheid regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, which, embedded in a system of impunity, prevents Palestinians from effectively challenging Israel’s apartheid policies and practices.”
- In October 2016, YWCA, as a member of the Palestinian Women Coalition of UNSCR 1325, released a statement urging the ICC Prosecutor’s Office to “take concrete actions towards investigating war crimes committed against Palestinians,” as “Gaza has been the site of the most war crimes and where women have been most systematically impacted by Israeli collective punishment policies; a prolonged imposed siege and a severe humanitarian deterioration resulting from Israeli military aggressions.”
- In November 2015, released a statement for the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People stating, “the prolonged military occupation of Palestine with its ongoing policies of colonialism, apartheid, genocide in Gaza, attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque, shoot to kill policies in Jerusalem, and now summary executions and punitive home demolitions have violated the Palestinian people’s human rights, freedom of movement and religion, and sense of dignity, freedom, and security.” (emphasis added)
- In October 2015, following a wave of terrorist attacks by Palestinians on Israeli civilians, YWCA published a document, “Endless State of Emergency,” accusing Israel of “executing” four Palestinian teenagers and shot dozens more, without noting the context of violent attacks and riots, and “settlers and soldiers” of “storming” Al Aqsa. YWCA called for BDS and “lawfare” against Israel.
- In August 2015, YWCA, alongside Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development, the Women’s Legal Aid and Counseling Center, Women Studies Center, and Mada al-Carmel, called for people to wear black to “show your opposition to those who aid Israel’s accumulative genocide against the Palestinian people.”
- Co-signed an August 5, 2014 open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, under the headline “stand for law and Justice or resign!,” expressing “extreme disappoint[ment] by your performance, notably by your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of IHL, which amount to war crimes.” The letter alleges that his “statements have not only allowed the continuance of Israel’s killing our people, but also, encouraged States to continue providing Israel with impunity.”
- In July 2014, during the 2014 Gaza war, YWCA issued a press release titled “Join the Global Movement to Support Gaza’s Right to Life,” accusing “Israel’s illegal military occupation” of “collectively punish[ing] a whole population…civilians, journalists, and medical workers.” The “action alert” called to “support arms embargos like the ones that were imposed in South Africa” as well as to “Demand severance of diplomatic ties with Israel.”
- Jointly produced a 2013 report “Barriers to Female Labour Market Participation and Entrepreneurship in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” with Birzeit University and Christian Aid that mentions “Hamas” and the “Palestinian Authority” once, while mentioning and blaming “Israel” 40 and the “occupation” 28 times. The report places sole blame on Israel “as a common denominator” and highlights the “devastating role of Israel’s occupation on women’s involvement in the labour market.”
- Member of the Coalition for Jerusalem, which issued a campaign to boycott Hewlett-Packard in 2014 on the grounds that it is “complicit with Israel’s stratified ID system.”
- In November 2021, to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, YWCA published a press release calling for the international community to “Take concrete and proactive measures to end the occupation and colonization of Palestine, including imposing sanctions and banning trade with Israel.”
- In July 2020, in response to the “Report of the Special Rapporteur addressing Israel’s Collective Punishment Policy,” YWCA called on “Third States to adopt effective measures to put an end to Israel’s illegal and inhumane policies of collective punishment, including sanctions and countermeasures, to bring the illegal situation to an end” (emphasis added).
- In July 2020, YWCA was a signatory on a statement calling for “Immediate targeted sanctions to stop Israel’s annexation and apartheid.” The statement further called for “A ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” “Suspension of trade and cooperation agreements with Israel,” and “Investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid.”
- In October 2018, YWCA held a conference that featured sessions on “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: International Successes and Challenges” and “The Occupied Territories Bill: The Irish Advocacy and Legislative Efforts to Ban Settlement Produce.”
- The Irish Occupied Territories bill, which was raised in the Irish Parliament in January 2018, would make it illegal for Irish citizens and residents to import or sell “settlement goods” or to provide or attempt to provide “settlement services.”
- In November 2016, YWCA released a statement on the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” calling on all governments and civil society organizations to “support the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to put economic pressure on Israel until it respects international law.”
- In May 2016, signed a call titled “Enough with the criminalisation of the BDS movement for justice in Palestine! Let’s support right to boycott!” calling on the European Commission to “introduce the human rights guidelines guaranteeing freedom of speech and right to boycott.”
- In 2014 on “United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” YWCA released a statement accusing Israel of colonialism, apartheid, and genocide and called upon “governments and civil society” to take actions including joining BDS campaigns and ending “the military occupation of all Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
- In May 2013, YWCA called on YWCA’s around the world and human rights organizations to “advocate for an end to Israel’s continued displacement and dispossession laws, policies, and practices by putting pressure on Israel to comply through morally responsible investment initiatives like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).”
- YWCA’s 2010 newsletter features a pro-BDS cartoon and an article by Advocacy and Media Coordinator Arda Aghazarian that concludes that BDS is the “only option left.”
- Signatory to the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS,” which calls for an end to Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promotes the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.” These goals undermine the fundamental right of the Jewish people to self-determination and would effectually mean the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.
Joint Advocacy Initiative
- Together with the YMCA – East Jerusalem, founded the “Joint Advocacy Initiative,” which “works for Peace with Justice in Palestine, based on Humanitarian and Christian Values, by mobilizing the world movements of YMCA and YWCA, churches, church-based organizations, UN agencies, and other relevant organizations to influence decision-makers and prompt actions that contribute to end Israeli occupation and all its violations of International Law.”
- The JAI also organizes “advocacy visits and trips,” geared specifically for an international audience, to “make them witness land confiscation process by the Israeli government, the apartheid wall, settlements construction and expansion…”
- JAI calls for a “wide boycott of goods from Israel, from Israeli settlements and from companies that contribute to the occupation until the occupation has ended and Palestinians enjoy their basic human rights.” JAI published a “BDS Resource” page as well as a “List of Products from Settlements in the Occupied Territories and List of Settlements.”
- In May 2020, to mark “72 years of Nakba,” JAI published a statement referring to “the ethnic cleansing and forcible displacement of the majority of the indigenous Palestinian population by the Zionist militias.” JAI called for people to “Lobby policy makers to put pressure on Israel to stop its colonization of the Palestinian land, and settlements activities as the main reasons behind the ongoing Nakba.”
- In March 2020, to mark Palestinian Land Day, JAI called to “Adopt and promote (in the way people see fit to your context) the Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli, until it complies with international law.”
- In February 2020, following the announcement of President Trump’s “Peace Plan,” JAI published a statement referring to it “not [as] a Peace Plan, but a Recipe for Violence and Apartheid.”
- In June 2017, JAI was a signatory to an “Open Letter” from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine to the World Council of Churches, accusing Israel of “Discrimination and inequality, military occupation and systematic oppression.” The letter calls upon the WCC to “recognize Israel as an apartheid state” and “unequivocally condemn the Balfour declaration as unjust, and that you demand from the UK that it asks forgiveness from the Palestinian people and compensates for the losses” (emphasis added). The letter also defends “our right and duty to resist the occupation creatively and nonviolently,” through “economic measures that pressure Israel to stop the occupation…in response to Israel’s war on BDS. We ask that you intensity those measures.”
- In 2013, a JAI participant reflected upon her experience saying: “…this is NOT a conflict. This is a genocide, one that is funded by the U.S. and other international governments. This is a genocide that uses a settler strategy to steal land and to justify the imprisonment, torture and deprivation of an entire group of people.”
- The JAI together with the Alternative Tourism Group published a 2012 report, Life Under Occupation – An Introduction to the Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which provides historical inaccuracies, refers to the security barrier as the “apartheid wall,” and promotes a Palestinian right of return, meaning the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- JAI signed an appeal in 2008 to boycott Israel’s 60th Independence Day celebrations – “Sixty years ago, Zionist militias and gangs ransacked Palestinian properties and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages…We urge international civil society in all its components, particularly institutions and individuals working in the arts, academia, sport, trade unions, and communities of faith to boycott the ‘Israel at 60’ celebrations wherever they are held in the world.”
- Member of the Palestinian Women Coalition of UNSCR 1325, which consists of twelve different Palestinian women’s organisations, including the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC), Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development (PWWSD), MIFTAH, Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), YWCA of Palestine, the Culture and Free thought Association, and Women’s Affairs Center (WAC).
- Member of the Coalition for Jerusalem, which aims “to oppose Israeli Government arbitrary measures… and to reaffirm that East Jerusalem is the capital of the future Palestinian state.”
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