Press release: Jewish solidarity blockade join Dale Farm protest today.

Sunday 4 Sept 2011. For Immediate release.

Jewish solidarity blockade join Dale Farm protest today.

Rabbis and members of the Jewish community will visit Dale Farm today
(1).

The visit comes just days after the UN condemned the eviction, saying that it would ‘disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people’, and that the ‘considerable discrimination and hostility [faced by Gypsies and Travellers] could be worsened by actions taken by authorities in the current situation and by some media reporting on the issues.’

 

The support of the Jewish community adds to an increasingly diverse network of communities oppsing the Dale Farm eviction. Last week saw visits by Franciscan monks, who blessed the site, and Bishops from both the Anglican and Catholic faiths, both vocally opposing the eviction. The Bishop of Brentwood has offered to mediate between Basildon Council and the Dale Farm community to find a solution. So far, council leaders have rejected the offer. A mutually agreed-upon plan could save tax-payers the £18 million eviction cost, and stop 100 children who live at Dale Farm from being forced to leave their school.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Rabbi Janet Burden, said, “People may not be aware that the Travellers,
along with the Gypsies and a limited number of other groups with similar lifestyle patterns, are officially recognised as ethnic minorities, just like our own Jewish community.  As such, they deserve protection under European human rights law.”

“The Travellers are vilified just as Jews were in this country in the early part of the twentieth century.  And the language used clearly echoes the rhetoric of anti-Semitism.  If you don’t believe this, have a look at the website www.jewify.org for examples of newspaper articles which substitute the word ‘Jew’ for ‘Gypsy’ or ‘Traveller’.  The results are quite chilling.”

“I believe that the obligation to protect this ethnic minority’s way of life is a human rights issue that, in this particular and unusual case, may need to ‘trump’ the planning law designed to protect the ‘Green Belt’.”

Jewish Dale Farm supporter Dan Glass said, “Despite the council’s argument that this is a planning issue, this is ethic cleansing. It is well known that the success rate of planning applications is around 95%, yet for travellers the rate is only 25%. Clearly travellers face huge discrimination.”

He continued, “Travelling people face shocking prejudice. It’s become very hard to live as a traveller, so councils encouraged travellers to buy land. So they did. But, of course they rarely get planning permission because a vocal minority, plus some in power, like the Tories in Basildon council, want to get rid of them. Just like in periods of my own history.”

Opposition to the eviction of Dale Farm residents now extends from the UN, EU, UK Equality and Human Rights Commission to campaign groups incuding Amnesty International and UK Uncut, several faith denominations and high-profile support from actress Vanessa Redgrave, celebrity Sally Bercow and author Owen Jones.

For interviews with Dale Farm residents, supporters, and the Jewish Delegation call: 07583 761462

At the request of residents, members of the press are asked to restrict their visits to the hours of 11am-12pm and 3pm-4pm, unless by prior appointment. To make an appointment, call 07583 761462.

(1) Dale Farm is home to the largest Traveller community in the UK, a former scrapyard which was purchased by the community thirty years ago. Half of the site does not have planning permission, and residents accept that they will have to leave their land, but many will be homeless unless alternate sites are found first. Two planning applications have been lodged which are due to be heard in October. Government inspectors have noted that Basildon has a “dire shortage” of Gypsy and Traveller sites, and have placed pressure on the Council to provide 62 pitches.

– the full statement from the Bishops of Chelmsford is here: http://dioceseofbrentwood.net/news/ViewPost.aspx?ID=548

-Updated press pack available at https://dalefarm.wordpress.com/press/

-Interview, comment and photos available from savedalefarm@gmail.com, 07583761462

-For directions to get to Dale Farm, see https://dalefarm.wordpress.com/contact/

-For the Amnesty International press release about the Dale Farm eviction, see: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR45/013/2011/en/0faf8cdd-f5a1-4024-af41-5a26f21d51a5/eur450132011en.html

– The £18 million cost of the eviction includes £10 million for policing- £6 million of which was granted by the Home Office

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