Islanders need to ‘keep educating themselves’ about Gaza war says Palestinian journalist

Palestinian journalist Yousef Alhelou. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (37515610)

A JOURNALIST born in Gaza has called for twinning projects between Jersey and Palestine.

Yousef Alhelou visited Jersey this week for the third time to participate in a panel discussion on Thursday night alongside Israeli dissident and conscientious objector Ronnie Barkan, and Israeli legal expert and Bournemouth University lecturer Dr Yaar Dagan.

On 27 February, States Members are due to debate whether to support a call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Deputy Montfort Tadier, who lodged the proposition and chairs the Jersey Human Rights Group, said that since the Hamas attacks on 7 October, an estimated 25,000 Gaza civilians have been killed and more than 62,000 injured – with many of them women and children.

Mr Alhelou, whose sister and her children died in an Israeli air strike in December, spoke to the JEP ahead of Thursday night’s talk entitled The ICJ & Call to Community.

The Palestinian-British journalist, political activist and father of four, who was born in Gaza, encouraged Islanders to “keep educating themselves” and to “do their own research”, which could include speaking to Palestinians.

He encouraged “twinning” between educational establishments in Jersey and colleges and universities in Palestine and the exchange of knowledge between hospitals.

“Twinning projects are effective,” he said. “When people see for themselves what is happening on the ground, they have a clearer picture of what is going on.”

He added: “I have a moral duty to report on Gaza, even from a distance. The world has abandoned us: that is why there is so much frustration inside of us.”

Dr Yaar Dagan, who was born in Israel near the Gaza border before being raised in Antigua, called on Islanders to write to their politicians to call for a ceasefire.

He referred to a recent judgment at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which ordered Israel to take all measures to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, but stopped short of telling it to halt the war.

Israel’s government has rejected the accusation as “wholly unfounded”.

Dr Dagan said: “Jersey’s government and people have a lot of power, especially because it’s not large. Because it’s a smaller community, it can get effective measures done much more quickly.

“Jersey will be proud for hundreds of years to come that when there was injustice taking place in Gaza, they were one of the first to stand up and side with the Palestinians, and not one of the last.

“By standing up for Palestinian rights, Jersey can make a huge different and be a leader of change.”

In February 2023, parishioners in St Helier voted unanimously to support a twinning project with the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Back in 2003, the States Assembly debated and approved a proposition by 27 votes to 17, which agreed that the Assembly would oppose the then imminent invasion of Iraq by the British and American armed forces. This required the Bailiff to transmit this view to the UK government.

Deputy Sir Philip Bailhache, who was then Bailiff, wrote to then Lieutenant-Governor Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire KBE CB, requesting the States decision be passed on.

He wrote: “It is the view of the Assembly that no military action should be taken by the governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom against Iraq unless sanctioned by the United Nations and to request the Bailiff to transmit the view of the Assembly to Her Majesty’s Government with a request that the opinion of the States be also forwarded to the government of the United States of America by Her Majesty’s Government”.

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