Camden Ceasefire Motion**

On Wednesday 15th May, we will join a demonstration outside Camden Council, calling on them once again to pass a ceasefire motion. We have been trying this for months now – in our view, Camden Council have shamed themselves by avoiding this most important issue by avoiding meetings,  closing the public gallery during a council meeting and even cancelling last month’s  meeting! We will demonstrate again, although we know that this month again Camden Council won’t debate a ceasefire – this time because they are ‘Mayor-Making’ & partying in the Town Hall.

So, we will make our own ‘Ceasefire Council’ outside the Town Hall – People are invited to come along, and our public gallery won’t be closed!*

We will have
a Ceasefire Mayor,
a deputation of Palestinian speakers
a motion calling for a ceasefire, divestment and further action  on Israel/Palestine
someone to oppose that motion (acting!)
the chance for many people to contribute
and a vote.

** Here is a draft of the Camden Ceasefire Council motion – written by us (though we wish it had really been written by Camden Council, it wasn’t!)

Camden Ceasefire Council notes that

(Genocide) Since October last year, around 40000 Palestinians in Gaza are known to have been killed by Israeli bombing and many more are lost under the rubble of homes or disappeared into imprisonment with no one knowing what is happening but the repeated discovery of mass graves with people found shot with their hands tied behind their backs. More people have died as a result of deprivation of food, clean water and medical care.

Tens of thousands of people have been disabled. Hospitals, universities, schools and homes have all been destroyed as well as historical mosques and other cultural centres.  Hundreds of academics, doctors, poets, journalists have been killed and the majority of the population have been moved from their homes and continue to be pushed from place to place. This terror is happening at a massive rate and Israel is refusing to stop, even when asked by the International Court of Justice – which thinks that the charge of genocide is plausible, even when the United Nations passes ceasefire motions.

(Matters to everyone) This savage onslaught affects people across the world not only because of the sorrow people are feeling for the people of Gaza and the desperate wish for the violence and the inhumanity to cease, but because of the effect it has on the world order. The human rights declarations, the Geneva Conventions, the international courts that were set up to guard against genocide and abuse are all shown to be meaningless.

(Apartheid) The Ceasefire Council notes that the issue that has come to a head since 7th October was going on for decades before that.  Accepting the idea of an ethnic state and since the beginning allowing it to dispossess the other people who were living there has led to an apartheid described by some South Africans as worse than the apartheid was in South Africa, and to human rights violations that have worsened every year. 

(Free speech) The issue of Israel/Palestine has often been misrepresented.  The IHRA definition of anti-semitism has helped to conflate anti-semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel (which are separate). The issue of Israel/ Palestine has been misrepresented as a problem between religions (which is not right). School materials often suggest a ‘balance’ between Israel and Palestine (which is fictitious in a context of dramatic power imbalance).

(Human rights) To solve all of these problems we need to ensure a proper focus on equality and human rights and respect for international law.

(Camden cares) There are huge movements across the world to stop the genocide and the apartheid. In Camden, too, the Camden Ceasefire Council notes the huge concern and in particular in the last seven months – the numerous letters, petitions with thousands of signatures, lobbying, events, demonstrations and now student encampments in universities.  The Council further notes that many groups within the borough have worked hard over many years, campaigning against the violent apartheid in Israel and Palestine that goes back decades, building friendship and cultural links with Palestine and demanding consistency in our approaches to human rights and equality – which are for everyone.

(Camden will speak out) Trust in the words of politicians who talk of humanity evaporates when they support, excuse or stay silent on abuses specially on the scale of what is happening in Gaza at the moment. Camden (Ceasefire Council) will no longer stay silent on apartheid and genocide in Palestine as it is in the interests of Camden people and of humanity that we speak out.

Camden Ceasefire Council is clear that a council can have a role to play on international issues and is proud of the support that Camden gave to anti-apartheid action on South Africa in particular.   Camden will seek to be remembered proudly in the aftermath of this terrible time too as a council that stood for equal human rights and for the end of injustice.

When the first demands for action against the genocide in Gaza reached Camden, they were for ceasefire. That is crucial, but as the Israeli government has made it very clear that it will not be limited by international law or bound by the judgements of the ICJ or the UN or any international body that wants to bring the racist violence to an end, the time has come for sanctions.

Camden Ceasefire Council resolves to

1 – Demand that the government urgently help end the genocide:

  • call for an immediate ceasefire
  • demand that international crossings are opened so that food and aid supplies can go immediately into Gaza

2 – End co-operation with Israel to help enforce human rights and international humanitarian law:

  • At Camden Council level to investigate our investments and divest from any that support Israel.
  • To see if there are areas in the Council that co-operate with Israel and suspend any such co-operation agreements
  • To demand at national level an end to arms exports and trade agreements with Israel

  3- Ensure free speech and critical thinking in relation to Israel/Palestine

  • End the Council commitment to the IHRA definition of anti-semitism

4- Ensure that education on Israel/ Palestine promotes anti-racism, human rights and equality:

  • Establish a working party to look at school education and materials on Israel/Palestine.
  • Establish community education initiatives open to all adults and all communities in Camden to explore the Israel/Palestine issue,
  • Challenge the representation of the Israel/Palestine issue as a problem between religions
  • In the context of power inequality, give extra emphasis to the experience and voices of the oppressed
  • Ensure that all education on the subject is based on anti-racism, human rights and equality.

5Support the work of Camden groups seeking human rights and equality in relation to Israel/ Palestine.

  • Formally acknowledge the twenty-year-old relation between Camden and Abu Dis
  • Name the pedestrian area at the junction of Kentish Town Road and Leighton Rd ‘Shireen Abu Akleh Place’ (Shireen was the famous journalist who was murdered in Jenin by Israeli soldiers two years ago).
  • Encourage visits and positive projects between citizens of Camden and Palestine.

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