Israeli citizens call for ending Barcelona'a twinning agreement with Tel Aviv
We are a group of progressive Jewish-Israeli citizens, active against our government's policies of occupation, colonization and apartheid against the Palestinian people. Some of us are the descendants of Holocaust survivors. We are committed to the universal principle of equality in human rights and to the struggle against all forms of racism.
We are writing to salute and support the over 4,200 people in Barcelona who have endorsed a citizens' initiative to end Barcelona’s twinning agreement with Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv was built on seven Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba. Despite branding itself as a “hub for innovation”, Tel Aviv is home to many institutions and companies that are deeply complicit in perpetuating Israeli settler-colonial violence against the Palestinian people. The Tel Aviv Municipality is implicated in the continuous dispossession of Palestinian citizens within its own borders. Tel Aviv is a microcosm of Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid.
Israel wants to silence any criticism of its criminal policies against Palestinians, but we stand with millions around the world in support of accountability. However, its policies amount to apartheid, an internationally recognized crime against humanity, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B'tselem - Israel's prominent human rights group. As in the case of South Africa, dismantling Israel’s regime of apartheid is an international responsibility.
We ask the international community and institutions worldwide to help end what Amnesty International refers to as Israel’s “systematic, unlawful and arbitrary” killing of Indigenous Palestinians and its treatment of them as “an inferior racial group”. Ending Barcelona’s twinning agreement with Tel Aviv will send a clear message to Israel: "We will not be complicit in your apartheid policies!"
As Jews, we strongly reject attempts by racist anti Palestinian and right wing forces to conflate opposition to Israel's policies or to Zionism on the one hand with anti-Jewish racism and hate on the other. We join dozens of progressive Jewish groups worldwide in rejecting this lie. We join in condemning “the ongoing attempts of the Israeli government to evade accountability for its human rights abuses and violations of international law by levying accusations of antisemitism at Palestinians and those who advocate for Palestinian rights. Not only does this silence Palestinians and their advocates, but it also jeopardizes Jewish safety and the struggle to dismantle antisemitism”.
Our lesson from the Holocaust is universal: "Never Again" means no oppression of any group!
Ending this complicity is even more urgent now, given the current, most far-right, racist and fundamentalist Israeli government ever. Israeli minister of national security Itamar Ben-Gvir has led mobs chanting “Death to the Arabs”. Another minister, Bezalel Smotrich, has recently said he’s a proud fascist and homophobe.
Successive Israeli governments have all been guilty of perpetuating Israel’s system of settler-colonialism and apartheid. But this extremist government promises to exacerbate the pain, the hate, the violence and the crimes against humanity to an unprecedented level.
It is time for Barcelona to take the lead in cutting links with Tel Aviv and inspire other municipalities to follow. This would nourish Palestinian hopes for freedom, justice and equality and would encourage us, Jewish-Israeli human rights defenders, to continue our contribution to the dismantling of apartheid.
This Israeli system of violent oppression is politically, militarily and financially supported by major world powers. This support has been reinforced by Israel and institutional Zionist organizations claiming to represent all Jews. But they do not. We as Israeli human rights defenders say loud and clear: “Not in our name!”.
Boycott from Within - Israeli citizens for the BDS campaign