CBNNews.com - LONDON - In a letter published in Britain's Guardian newspaper Wednesday, 100 British academics, writers and actors announced they will not celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary.
"We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations. We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East," the signatories stated.
"In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the death march. We will not be celebrating," the letter continued.
"In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN Resolution 194, refugees from warn have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating," the letter read.
Professor Haim Bresheeth of the University of East London, said the letter was in no way anti-Semitic.
"I don't understand why the signatories are being accused of anti-Semitism and support of terrorism," the professor said. "None of those who attached their names to the letter supports harming civilians or senseless victims on both sides," Bresheeth said.
"We want Israel and the Palestinians to live side by side in peace, without missiles, without Kassams and without warplanes hovering above. I want to live in Palestine without killing on both sides," he said.
"Israel is unwilling to talk to Hamas, which won the democratic elections," said the professor. "Hamas, on the other hand, is willing to talk to Israel so long as it withdraws from all the territories," he said.
"The real terrorism is the one Israel inflicted on the Palestinians 40 years ago -- the terrorism of a strong state against a relatively weak organization. We are pushing the Palestinians into a corner where they have no choice by the attacks. We must not do this. The fact that the government of Israel cannot ensure the safety of its residents and the safety of Sderot is solely its own fault," he said.
Israeli ambassador to Britain, Ron Poser, responded to the group's accusations.
"Israel is a democratic nation where anyone can speak their mind and freely criticize anything with virtually no restraints, but when a group such as this one, of Jews and former Israelis, sums up 60 years of Israeli existence with hate slogans like these, they deserve to be denounced and even ostracized," Poser said.
"We are proud of the marvelous achievements Israel and the Jewish people have accomplished in our 60 years of existence, and we will not allow this harebrained group to spoil our celebration," he said.
Other signatories to the letter included playwright Harold Pinter, attorney Daniel Machover and comedian and author Stephen Fry.
Source: YNet news