“I Light this Torch”

Wed., May 7, 2008 – Comments by Sari Bashi, Executive Director, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement On the occasion of Yesh Gvul’s Alternative Beacon Lighting Ceremony for a more egalitarian and just Israel:

I light this torch on behalf of Gisha – which defends the rights of Palestinian residents of the occupied territories to freedom of movement– and for the sake of the residents of the State of Israel, out of recognition that we cannot realize our independence and liberty while simultaneously denying them to others.

I light this torch to remind Israeli citizens of the rights of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip and their longing for freedom and normal life.

I light this torch, before the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, in order to highlight the moral collapse of Israel’s decision makers who have decided that it is legitimate, for political reasons, to imprison 1.5 million human beings in a coastal strip whose borders they control.

I light this torch to relieve a bit of the darkness that the State of Israel has imposed upon the residents of Gaza for the past seven months, by restricting supplies of fuel and electricity.

I light this torch in order to illuminate a new path forward for Israeli society, a path for us all:

Who lost our way in the shadow of fear and in the absence of responsible leadership;

Who announced to the world that we are granting independence to the residents of Gaza – and then made them completely dependent on us and on a meager and unreliable convoy of goods, as part of a policy of closure and collective punishment;

Who stopped counting 1.5 million human beings – their dignity, their rights and their aspirations – and instead counted the number of sacks of flour, liters of diesel and megawatts of electricity that we allow them to consume;

Who mistakenly thought that we can disengage from responsibility toward the residents of Gaza, without disengaging from control over them;

Who chose to attack and punish civilians when our civilians are attacked – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – instead of calling for a complete halt to attacks on civilians by all sides.

I light this torch in the hope that it will shed light on the injustice of policies that penalize an entire population and degrade it to a state of dependence and desperation – as well as the senselessness of it all. I light this torch in the hope that the radiance of wisdom, humanity and justice will touch us all – Israelis and Palestinians alike – and will allow us to realize our freedom and independence