Thursday, April 9, 2009

Passover for Peace and Justice

Philadelphia, PA April 7-8, 2009—This year for the Jewish holiday of Passover, many Philadelphia Jews and their allies will gather at the Israeli Consulate for an 18 hour vigil to remember suffering and commemorate struggles for liberation from ancient Egypt to modern-day Israel-Palestine.

This event, “From Deir Yassin* to Gaza,” begins at 4:00 PM on April 7th and continues through 10:00 am April 8th. The event takes place outside of the Israeli Consulate, 1880 JFK Blvd. in Center City Philadelphia. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again fails to address Palestinian sovereignty, the organization sponsoring the event, Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace (PJJP), gathers together for immediate action. PJJP calls for all people of conscience to stand together in mourning of Palestinians who died in Deir Yassin, for an end to the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and demands an end to the siege of Gaza, and the right of return to Palestinian refugees.

Participants will include individuals, rabbis, community leaders, and groups within the Jewish, Arab-American, Muslim, Christian, Quaker, secular, student, and local Philadelphia peace communities. Rabbi Linda Holtzman of Congregation Mishkan Shalom will lead kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer, for those killed at Deir Yassin. Refugees Fleeing Deir Yassin in April, 1948

The event highlights Imam Dawud Assad, a survivor of the Deir Yassin Massacre who lives in New Jersey as a grandfather and advocate for social justice. Mr. Assad will share his story during the Deir Yassin Memorial taking place 6:00-8:00 PM on April 7th.

The 18 hour vigil holds a packed schedule of events, opening at 4:00 PM with political street theater as a prelude to a Deir Yassin Memorial from 6:00-8:00 PM. A Passover Ritual of Memory and Repentance will be followed by an all-night Teach-In on TOPICS including boycott, divestment, and sanctions. The event will conclude with a protest against the siege on Gaza at 8:30 AM the following morning.

*Deir Yassin was a Palestinian village destroyed by 3 Zionist militias in 1948 in which more than 100 men, women and children were massacred. Word of the massacres spread through Palestine and many residents fled. Within a year of the massacre, Deir Yassin, which had been emptied of Palestinians, was re-populated with Jewish immigrants, and its name was removed from the map. During the war of 1948 that ended in the establishment of the state of Israel, over 530 Palestinian villages were destroyed. Deir Yassin has become emblematic for Israeli violence against the Palestinian people.

Thomas Hurndall, who took this photo was shot by an Israeli soldier.
Thomas "Tom" Hurndall (29 November 1981 – 13 January 2004) was a British photography student, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On 11 April 2003, he was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sniper, Taysir Hayb. Hurndall was left in a coma and died nine months later.

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