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Update:10 Feb 2010
Israeli warplanes target Gaza airport
Wed, 10 Feb 2010 07:03:29 GMT:
Wed, 10 Feb 2010: Israel plans to raze 200 homes in Jerusalem Al-Quds
Wed, 10 Feb 2010: 'US undermining Palestinian reconciliation efforts'
The invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army – which began on 27th December 2008 – has been a defining moment for Muslims in Britain. The events have served to mobilise Muslim civil society and redouble efforts to ensure Israel is brought to book for breaking international law – inflicting collective punishment on the civilians of Gaza ("No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited", Article 33, Geneva Convention, 'Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War'). Efforts are underway to initiate war trial proceedings, enforce an arms embargo and strengthen academic and economic boycott initiatives - the lead being given by moves in Norway, where leading trade unions have endorsed a campaign for the withdrawal of all State investments in Israel.
A new coalition and network of organisations and activists has emerged, very similar to the turn of events after the Rushdie Affair and the Bosnian Crisis of the 1990s. Sections of the Jewish community have also found the actions of Israel and the loss of civilian life unacceptable, thus promising a basis for a common ground.
In the early and mid 1990s Muslims in Britain were demoralised after the publication of the sacrilegious 'Satanic Verses' and witnessing the tragedies of Bosnia Herzegovina. There was a realisation that Muslims need to be better united and represented, thus leading to the inauguration of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in November 1997. It was clear that Muslims could no longer rely on liberal consciences to support the under-dog – they had to rely on themselves to defend what was precious, whether it be the right to educate their own children in faith schools or expressing respect for what was sacred.
The crisis of December 2008 is leading to another significant realisation – that Muslims are not accepted as stake-holders in the formulation of their country's foreign policy – and the only way of redressing this is to be through the ballot box in the next General Election.
Moreover, the crisis has reversed a Machiavellian strategy that aimed to fracture Muslim civil society. Since 7/7 and former PM Blair's declaration that the 'rules of the game have changed', there was a concerted effort to marginalise the MCB and create over-night rivals. Leading the way was the Department for Communities & Local Government which handed out largesse to a variety of compliant bodies.
However the Gaza conflict has been able to breach this divide, and unite very many organisations on the shared common agenda of justice for Palestinians in the face of the ruthless Israeli military assault.
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