AN OPEN LETTER TO RAYMOND SIMONSON,
CEO OF JW3 JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTRE LONDON
From Artists for Palestine UK
Sunday 10 September 2017, London.
Dear Raymond Simonson,
We’re reading the blurb for Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat’s presentation on Tuesday at JW3, and curious to know if JW3 as an organisation supports the views it expresses.
The blurb says ‘Nir Barkat was 7 years old…when Israel’s capital was finally reunited’. You will know that the United Nations Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and the International Court of Justice consider that East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel. Where does JW3 stand?
The blurb refers to ‘Jerusalem at 50’ (presumably fifty years of Israeli conquest, since Jerusalem has been in existence in some form since the Canaanites), and calls this ‘the fulfilment of a 2000-year-old dream’.
We’re struggling with the gap between this and the language of the ‘About Us’ page on your website, which is all about ‘transforming the Jewish landscape in London by helping to create a vibrant, diverse and proud community’. Nowhere do you mention promoting a commitment to Israel and Zionism as part of JW3’s role, but that is what the Barkat meeting clearly does.
If JW3 is simply a venue for the meeting, why is Barkat on your website? And since he is there, what does JW3 think about what Human Rights Watch at the beginning of August called Israel’s ‘entrenched discrimination against Palestinians in Jerusalem, including residency policies that imperil their legal status’?
Barkat is implementing the Jerusalem Outline Plan 2000, which aims at ‘maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city’. Doing this involves, among other things, revoking the residency of Palestinian Jerusalemites. Human Rights Watch describes this as forced transfer; it’s cruel, but it’s also illegal under international law. When JW3 opens its doors to mayor Barkat on Tuesday night, you’ll be celebrating the person currently responsible for what Human Rights Watch calls war crimes. Is this what JW3 intends?
The Artists for Palestine UK collective
*Photo: Palestinian family of 8 are evicted from Jerusalem home of 50 years to make way for Jewish settlers earlier this week