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UPDATE: Israeli Cabinet resolution rejects UN vote on Palestine and affirms Jewish rights in all the Land of Israel.
"The Jewish people have natural, historical, legal rights to its homeland with its eternal capital Jerusalem... The State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people has rights and claims to areas that are under dispute in the land of Israel...The Palestinian Authority's one-sided step at the U.N. constitutes a gross violation of the agreements that have been signed with the State of Israel; accordingly, the Government of Israel rejects the U.N. General Assembly decision."
Earth is a beautiful place filled with many beautiful sites, from the Sian Ka'an of Mexico to Himeji Castle in Japan. Such places are given the status of World Heritage Site for their immense cultural and historic significance as well as aesthetic beauty.
There are currently 936 places that have been recognized for these traits, but there is one that is especially deserving of being the 937th.
The Church of the Nativity has to be one of the most culturally and historically significant places on the planet. This site, built in 565 AD (originally built in 333 AD but destroyed in the Samaritan Revolt), marks the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, who would go onto become the central figure of Christianity, currently the world's largest religion with more than 2.2 billion adherents.
Christians and non-Christians alike can both agree that Christianity has played a pivotal role in shaping Western culture throughout the centuries, and even the ethics of Christianity as expressed by Jesus shape the framework of many political parties throughout Europe and South America.
The Church of the Nativity personifies and is tangibly associated with a culture that has endured two millenia and a culture that had it never been, our world would look like a completely different place.
Since 1948, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation. Despite abundant condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other international bodies, and preeminent human rights organisations, the world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law. Israel’s crimes have continued with impunity.
In view of this continued failure, Palestinian civil society called for a global citizens’ response. On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.
As a result of Israel’s war in Gaza, with its death toll of over 1,300 Palestinians and allegations of multiple war crimes, there has been a large upsurge in support for the already growing global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law and recognises the fundamental human rights of Palestinians.
The BDS campaign has been endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel. It is worth noting that a boycott is also supported by many Israeli citizens and Jewish organizations including European Jews for a Just Peace, Breaking the Law of Return (consisting of over 100 American Jews) Ilan Pappe (Israeli Professor of History based in UK) and Michel Warschawski (Israeli journalist).
Artists who have voiced support for the campaign or cancelled appearances in Israel citing political reasons include musicians Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, Gil Scott Heron, Pete Seeger, The Pixies, Roger Waters, writers Eduardo Galeano and Arundhati Roy, filmmakers Ken Loach and Jean-Luc Godard. In 2010, UNITE, the UK’s largest trade union, unanimously called for BDS.
History ultimately proved the effectiveness and necessity of the boycott campaign in helping bring an end to Apartheid in South Africa. Amid the desperate pleas of Palestinians and concerned Israelis, we can no longer resort to the same discredited arguments that were used against boycotting Apartheid South Africa. The illegal Israeli occupation on Palestine must end.
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