norightsnosisters

What You and the Sacramento City Council Should Know about Ashkelon, Israel

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

Ashkelon discriminates against its own citizens and against Sacramentans on the basis of religion, ethnicity, and national origin. 

●  Palestinian-Sacramentans  who have Israeli-issued ID cards are prohibited from visiting Ashkelon except with rarely-issued special permits. Other Palestinian-Sacramentans who wanted to visit Ashkelon would be typically be subjected to extensive interrogation, including strip searching, and not infrequently denied entry.

●  Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in Ashkelon,  primarily Muslims and Christians, have second class status, without the same rights benefits or access to land as Jewish Israelis. Israel has over 30 laws that discriminate against its non-Jewish citizens in an apartheid system.

► Approving Ashkelon as a Sacramento-sponsored sister city opens the city up to law suits because discrimination on the basis of national origin is prohibited in the U.S. and California constitutions.

► Human rights and International Law are systematically violated in Ashkelon.

● Ashkelon’s Shikma Prison holds hundreds of Palestinian political parishioners from the West Bank and Gaza in violation international law.  The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power (in this case Israel) from transferring and holding prisoners and detainees outside the occupied territory (in the case Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza.)  Despite this, Israel routinely holds and interrogates these Palestinians, often severing their connection to their families and even their lawyers.

● Amnesty International and other human rights groups have documented torture of Palestinian prisoners in Ashkelon’s prison.  Many of these prisoners are held indefinitely without charge and without trial.   They are subjected to solitary confinement, denied access to their families, and medical treatment.  Recently dozens of these prisoners were on a hunger strike protesting their inhuman and illegal treatment, joining nearly 2000 other Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

Ashkelon was created by Ethnic Cleansing and its victims are still denied their rights. 

● Ashkelon was built on the thriving town of Majdal Asqualan that was home to generations of Palestinian families until 1948 when the army of the newly declared state of Israel began its ethnic cleansing campaign, terrorizing the native Palestinian population and forcing them to leave and become refugees.  About ten thousand Palestinians remained and were kept in a  ghetto for two years until the Israeli army loaded them on truck in a second wave of ethnic cleansing and dumped them in near-by Gaza.

● In violation of International Law, the Palestinians refugees from this ethnic cleansing are still being denied their right to return to Ashkelon by the Israeli government.

 Ashkelon is a misuse of the sister city program. 

Ashkelon’s exclusionary practices contradict the Sacramento City Council directive that sister cities: “be inclusive of the citizens of Sacramento, including the diverse cultural and religious communities in the area.”

Sister Cities, started under President Dwight Eisenhower,were intended to foster people-to-people connections, outside of government.  According to Sister Cities International, sister city programs  are supposed to come from “a volunteer group of ordinary citizens”, not paid professional organizations.   Ashkelon is being proposed by a professional organization that advocates on behalf of a foreign government, the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, as part of its paid political advocacy.  This is a misuse of the Sister City program which is supported and sanctioned by the City of Sacramento.

●  Eisenhower also said that sister cities were a way to “the people themselves give expression of their common desire for friendship, goodwill and cooperation for a better world for all.”
  The Sacramento City website echoes this by stating that sister cities “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.”  These descriptions of sister cities absolutely reflect respect for human rights, without which they cannot be “mutual respect,” “goodwill,” or “a better world for all.”  Ashkelon does not reflect the spirit and intention of sister cities NOR does it reflect the values of Sacramento.

 

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