Call for ceasefire in Gaza

Demonstration in London in solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinians
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By ARLENE CLEMESHA & EVERALDO DE OLIVEIRA ANDRADE*

We are at a historical moment in which silence is equivalent to condoning a heinous crime against humanity.

On November 9th, the Public Act to End the Genocide in Gaza was held in the Nicolau Sevcenko Auditorium, at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences (FFLCH). The organization was carried out by the USP Committee for Democracy and the group of teachers who carried out the Manifesto for the End of Genocide, signed by 150 professors, including emeritus and tenured professors, followed by more than 5 thousand people online.

The panel that composed the act expressed the plurality and unity around the call for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid to the population today under siege by Israeli troops. The panel included writer Milton Hatoum, Ualid Rabah, president of the Arab-Palestinian Federation of Brazil, Yuri Haasz, Markus Sokol, Ivan Valente, Valter Pomar, Luciana Genro, professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at USP Raquel Rolnik, professors at the FFLCH Vladimir Safatle, Arlene Clemesha and Everaldo Andrade, professor Francirosy Barbosa, from USP in Ribeirão Preto, and a written message from professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro. Furthermore, a message from the professor of English Literature in Gaza, Haidar Eid, and a video from the Israeli professor Ilan Pappé were presented at the event.

For the organizers of the event, we are at a historical moment in which silence is equivalent to condoning a heinous crime against humanity. If the more than six thousand Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip from 2008 to 2022, or the 1,2 Israelis killed by Hamas from October 7th to 9th, the number of those killed in Gaza in the ongoing offensive borders on madness.

Since October 7, 2023, there are more than 11 thousand Palestinians killed, 70% of which are women, children and the elderly. There are no words to describe the more than forty consecutive days of bombings – which include accusations reported by Human Rights Watch the use of white phosphorus bombs (banned by international standards), a fact denied by Israel. Warnings for Palestinians flee their homes or abandon hospitals could be understood as grotesque war crimes, as there is no longer any shelter or safe place in the Gaza Strip. The attack, as reported in Professor Haidar Eid's testimony, combines the characteristics of a genocide with ethnic cleansing. UN appeals and votes were ignored once again by the State of Israel.

At the time of writing this text, 45% of all residential units in Gaza, 22 hospitals and 49 health centers have already been destroyed, in addition to 285 schools and educational centers that are severely damaged. There is no longer any available reserve of rice, sugar or oil (three words derived from the Arabic language!) and flour is rationed. Perishable foods cannot be packaged and the level of water consumption has dropped by 90% compared to the period before the offensive. Almost half of the hospitals were closed and the rest lack basic supplies.

Amputations are carried out without anesthesia, blood banks have been lost, ICUs and incubators for premature babies have stopped working due to a lack of electricity, leading these little innocents, one after another, to completely avoidable deaths. It is urgent to understand that Gaza collapsed, the fittest survive. Attacks by Jewish settlers and deaths of Palestinians they also multiply in the West Bank.

Most states remain inert despite the huge demonstrations taking place around the world for the ceasefire. These concerns were present in the speakers' speeches.

For Vladimir Safatle, “there is no government above international laws”, and “the vacating of the Palestinian territories” would be necessary to achieve peace. Raquel Rolnik affirmed unity in the cry “for an immediate ceasefire, for humanitarian aid, for the unconditional defense of human rights”. Luciana Genro recalled the harassment that attempts to silence non-hegemonic views. “At that moment, whoever dared to speak about what was happening to Israeli civilians, whose deaths we deeply regret, whoever dared to contextualize the act, was branded an anti-Semite.”

Yuri Haasz, member of Jewish Voices for Liberation, made a personal and moving statement: “I am an Israeli Jew, born and raised in Haifa. I am here to fulfill an important role, to say that Israel does not represent all Jews. Zionist institutions do not represent all Jews. Seeing the facts on the ground, we have no other option than to collapse the nationalist mythology for which we were educated and trained,” he argued. He then stated: “The group I am part of is not just in Brazil, it exists all over the world. We recognize that Israel was born from ethnic cleansing, the Nakba continues to this day. Israel configures itself as a State of apartheid. We are unable to reverse this structure of domination that violates human rights.”

For historian Valter Pomar, what is in international law must be recognized. “Israel is an occupying force. We must not hesitate.” He also said that “more mobilization is necessary, just as the government needs to escalate its reaction to acts of terrorism and Israeli interference in Brazil. The ambassador has shared the table with the extreme right and made statements that, in any reasonable country, would be persona non grata. It is necessary to break relations because Israel has become an instrument of brutal repression.”

Ualid Rabah highlighted the perseverance of the Palestinian people, who have suffered for 75 years the devastating effects of Nakba and does not give up crying out and fighting for their internationally recognized rights. Francirosy C. Barbosa, in turn, with touching words, recalled the condition of Palestinian women living under bombing in the Gaza Strip. “Women, mothers, burying children who scream that they don't eat. If people can’t see what’s happening, it’s either a lack of information or a lack of mercy, from the heart.”

Markus Sokol highlighted that despite his Jewish origin, this did not give him any privilege in the debate, as he also condemned the deaths of children in the Warsaw ghetto and those of thousands of children in Gaza. For him, the artificial creation of Israel has divided Palestinian Arabs and Jews since 1947. That is why a single, secular democratic state in Palestine is necessary to guarantee equality and respect for all populations in the region, Arabs and Jews.

Ilan Pappé, one of the main supporters of the International Campaign “For a democratic State in Palestine”, sent a message recorded especially for the event, where he emphasized the idea that only the creation of a single secular and democratic State can actually resolve the conflict and bring lasting peace to the region. A declaration of this initiative, titled “Stop the Genocide in Gaza”, was distributed to those present.

It would be impossible to reproduce all the statements, but it is worth saying that, with their differences and specificities, they all called in unison for the end of the attack. Concrete actions, such as the immediate revocation of all military and security agreements already signed with the State of Israel, would have the effect of signaling that we are not willing to condone the crime against humanity perpetuated in the Gaza Strip. The suspension of diplomatic relations has been put into practice by an increasing number of countries around the world, as a form of repudiation of the “grotesque spectacle” as the attack on the Gaza Strip was described.

As Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said in the statement sent and read during the Act, “USP could not remain silent in the face of this genocide (…). Joining the global chorus in defense of Palestinians, USP professors put into practice the defense of the humanist principles that govern the University.”

*Arlene Clemesha is a professor of Arabic history at USP. Author, among other books, of Marxism and Judaism: history of a difficult relationship (Boitempo).

*Everaldo de Oliveira Andrade is a professor at the Department of History at FFLCH-USP. Author, among other books, of Bolivia: democracy and revolution. The Commune of La Paz, 1971 (Avenue).

Reference


Video of the event is available on the YouTube channel of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences.


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