War on Want (WoW) campaigns on Israeli-Palestinian issues, December 2008 August 2009
Promotion of Israel as an “apartheid” state
- On June 17, 2009, pro-Palestinian activist Ben White published a book entitled Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. White is supported by Stephen Sizer – a central figure in British anti-Israel Church campaigns, a trustee for Amos Trust, and “Patron” of ICAHD-UK – and promoted heavily by War on Want (WoW).
- WoW held a publicity event for the book on July 9, 2009, featuring comments by the author and WoW officials, and a “reception with drinks and Palestinian snacks.”
- Although the organizers claimed that “25 percent of attendees came there to defend Israel,” an official from the British Zionist Federation was banned from the event.
- In August 2009 the UK Charity Commission confirmed it was considering a complaint against WoW regarding this event (WoW has been the subject of repeated investigations by the UK Charity Commission for its “Fighting occupation in Palestine” campaign).
Boycott, divestment and sanctions movement
- WoW founded the “Stop Arming Israel” campaign together with The Campaign Against Arms Trade, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and “active participation of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (UK).”
- The campaign claims that “[t]he bombing and invasion of Gaza in the winter of 2008/9 has again highlighted the UK’s complicity in arming Israel, both directly and through components in US-supplied weaponry.”
- Promotional material for the campaign asserts that the “powerful Israeli army us[ed] disproportionate and indiscriminate force against civilian populations in clear breach of humanitarian law.”
- In an article in the Electronic Intifada in April 2009, Yasmin Khan, WoW Senior Campaigns Officer for Global Justice, wrote:
- “…governments all over the world have actively supported the continued subjugation of the Palestinian people by providing Israel with the military means to enforce and entrench its increasingly brutal occupation…campaigning on arms exports to Israel is a highly effective tool with which to expose expose [sic] the hypocrisy of governments in implementing their own ethical standards… all governments that reward Israeli aggression with military support should be exposed.”
- In June 2009, War on Want issued a statement about the “breakthrough” that the “French company Veolia has abandoned the $500 million rail project linking Jerusalem and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” and Yasmin Khan said that “[i]t sends a clear message to other companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine that their complicity will be challenged.”
- WoW has lobbied the UK government regarding the EU-Israel Association Agreement arguing that “Israel’s continuing aggression and human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank disqualifies it from trading preferences granted under the EU-Israel Association Agreement.”
War on Want on the Gaza War
- WoW referred to the Gaza war as “the culmination of a policy of collective punishment and killing practised by Israel against the people of Gaza over the past 18 months” claiming that “[t]he root cause of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is Israel’s illegal occupation.”
- “Protest[ed]” the detention of a “Palestinian activist ” – an employee of WoW partner Alternative Information Center – saying “[w]e believe the detention of Abu Humus is part of a wider campaign on the part of Israel to repress the right of Palestinians to protest against the military attacks on Gaza.”
- WoW participated in a rally to “end the siege” of Gaza, condemning “Israel’s brutal assault”. WoW alleges that “[s]urrounded by 40-foot high walls of iron and steel, the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are being held as virtual prisoners” and “are being collectively punished and slowly starved to death.”
Use of religious symbols to advance a political agenda
- For Christmas 2008, WoW marked a greeting card showing Mary and Joseph encountering a Bethlehem that is “effectively sealed off from the outside world by Israel’s Separation Wall” and “Mary and Joseph being frisked on their way to find an inn for the night.” This is similar to a card from previous years, featuring “the three wise men trying to get to Bethlehem but being forced to dig underneath Israel’s separation wall.”