25th July: East London PSC: Why Palestine is Still the Issue: Webinar with Apsana Begum ,MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Youssef Awad from Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Rob Ferguson of Free Speech on Israel. You can register here, and join the Facebook event here.
Since Land Day in March 2018, Palestinians have gone to the separation fence to demand an end to Israel’s draconian blockade of Gaza and for the right of return to the homes & land their families were expelled from 70 years ago.
Israel has responded to unarmed protestors with live fire.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs over 200 demonstrators have been killed and over 8,000 wounded by live fire.
In March 2019 a UN Human Rights Council Commission of Enquiry found,
“the use of lethal force …. was rarely necessary or proportionate. The ISF [Israeli military] violated international human rights law.”
Many protestors shot by Israeli forces undergo amputations.
Gaza’s healthcare is in crisis after Israel’s 11 year blockade & questions have been raised over the type of ammunition used.
“What is unusual is the lesions and … that the wounds are very wide and the bones can be in many fragments.”
Maria-Elisabeth Ingres, Medecins Sans Frontieres.
What can you do?
- Write to your MP: (writetothem.com) Demand an end to arms sales to the Israeli Government until it complies with international law.
- Boycott Israeli goods: Support the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. https://bdsmovement.net/
Boycott is a traditional, peaceful form of protest. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jnr & Nelson Mandela all used boycotts.
This concert tour in Scotland is produced by Palmusic UK in partnership with the Scottish Friends of Palestine and Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association. It has also been generously supported by The City of Glasgow, which is officially twinned with Bethlehem since 2007.
Our ensemble of exceptionally talented young musicians from Palestine continue their summer tour in Scotland this year over the first weekend of July.
Friday 5 July 1pm Stevenson Hall, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 100 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G2 3DB
Saturday 6 July 3pm St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, 13 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PA
Sunday 7 July 7.30pm St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1 High Street, Dundee DD1 1TD
Concert entry is free, with donations welcomed.
Guest artist and rising star Iyad Sughayer, pianist, will join Omar Saad on viola, Tibah Saad on cello, and Lourdina Baboun on violin for an uplifting programme of Mozart and Mahler piano quartets, and Arabic folk music arranged by the ensemble. Speaking of the programme, Omar says,
“These are celebrated works that we have all wanted to perform for a long time. The folk music is a reflection of our roots that we believe complement the western classical repertoire… With every group you have a different storytelling of the same piece and that is what makes these works great.”
Palmusic is supporting Omar, Tibah and Lourdina with scholarships to study at top British conservatoires. Omar has just completed his master’s degree in music performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, (RCS), in Glasgow. His sister, Tibah Saad, is also studying at the RCS with two more years to complete her bachelor of music degree. Lourdina is also a bachelor student of music performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Omar, Tibah and Lourdina have all performed with the Palestine Youth Orchestra at prestigious venues internationally.
Iyad Sughayer is a Jordanian-Palestinian pianist who is regarded as one of the Middle East’s most promising young artists. He completed his Master’s degree at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, in 2018, and returned there in September on the International Artist Diploma course to study with Murray McLachlan, Martino Tirimo and Graham Scott.
Iyad has received numerous awards including the prestigious Gold Medal Award at Trinity Laban. Winter 2020 will see the release of his debut disc under the BIS Label, featuring the solo works of Aram Khachaturian.
- Reaffirm the refugees right of return, enshrined in International law. 70% of Gaza’s population are refugees.
- Bring an end to the decade long Israeli imposed siege of Gaza.
Earlier this week, PSC wrote to and held direct conversations with Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) about our concerns at the likely participation of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland in the SUTR Glasgow march this Saturday. Yesterday we received a formal response. Both PSC’s letter and the SUTR response can be read below.
PSC agrees with all of the sentiments contained within the SUTR Scottish steering committee statement. However, it does not address the concerns we raised about the participation of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland in the Glasgow march. It is our view – based on the Confederation’s policies, beliefs and behaviours, as set out in our letter, that their participation will necessarily undermine the core message of the march and the important work that SUTR does. We would hope, even at this stage, that SUTR would make a clearer statement to address the concerns that have been raised. However, in the absence of any reassurances that Palestinians and their friends and supporters will not face a hostile environment if they attend the march, regrettably we cannot advise our members in Scotland to participate in an event whose core aims we very much support.
We remain committed to an ongoing discussion with SUTR to resolve these issues so that we can work together on shared policies in combatting racism, islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the longer term.
Letter from PSC :
We wanted to follow up our telephone conversations with a written note about our concerns over the presence of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland on the SUTR Glasgow march on Saturday.
We are aware that a range of groups in Scotland including Scottish Friends of Palestine and SNP Friends of Palestine have raised their worries about the participation of the Confederation. These include the fact that this places Palestinians – including a group of Palestinian firefighters currently being trained by the FBU – in a hostile environment on a march they had intended to a join.
Whilst we understand that SUTR want to build a broad coalition of partners wishing to fight racism – including anti-Semitism, a brief visit to the Facebook page of the Confederation reveals them as propagators of the most offensive anti-Palestinian narratives. These include denying the Palestinian Nakba and posting material stating that no Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed prior to and after the establishment of the state of Israel; denying the status of Palestinian refugees and posting an article from the CEO of AIPAC which states that any Palestinian state is incompatible with Israel’s security. The Confederation is also part of a campaign to have student activism on UK campuses under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ closed down. The Confederation has links with groups in the UK who – alongside Britain First and the EDL – have attempted to disrupt PSC marches and meetings.
We understand that the Confederation has framed its desire to attend within the context of an opposition to anti Semitism and that there is a concern that to indicate that their presence is not welcome will leave organisers open to the charge of anti-Semitism.
There are many definitions of racism, but to promote prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of a different race, ethnicity or culture, as the Confederation does, must surely give you as organisers cause for concern.
We would hope that there could be a clear statement that all of those organisations participating in a SUTR march need to stand on a platform of opposition to all forms of racism – which includes resistance to or, at the very least, not supporting the policies and laws of any state that are clearly racist. As organisers, we would hope that you would agree that anyone who cannot sign up to these basic principles would not be welcome and that behaviour designed to intimidate other participants will not be tolerated.
We would hope it is not too late for such a statement to be issued. Notwithstanding this, after the events of this weekend, we would wish – as the PSC – to have a more detailed conversation with SUTR about the long term strategy to address these issues.
Ben Jamal, PSC Director, and Hugh lanning, PSC Chair.
Dear Ben and Hugh,
For your information the SUTR Scottish Steering Committee unanimously agreed the following statement:
Stand up to Racism is a broad coalition comprising many civic organisations, refugee and migrant communities, as well as trade unions, political organisations and individuals. The key criteria are opposition to the rising tide of racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism and the scapegoating of refugees and migrants. If you support these principles please come and join us on M17.
Signatories: Scottish Trades Union Congress, Unison Scotland, Unite the Union Scotland, Educational Institute of Scotland, University and College Union Scotland, Scottish Labour Party, Church of Scotland, Justice and Peace Scotland, Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, Scottish Refugee Council, Muslim Council of Scotland, Scottish Faiths Action For Refugees, Show Racism The Red Card, City of Edinburgh Unison, Glasgow City Unison, Unison South Lanarkshire, Edinburgh College EIS-Fela, Unite Scottish Housing Associations branch, Unite NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Unite GPM and IT Branch, Unite Glasgow retired members, MEND, Afghan Human Rights Foundation, Social Work Action Network, The People’s Assembly Scotland, Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, Govanhill Against Racism, Maryhill Integration Network, Perth Against Racism, Women for Independence Glasgow, Scottish Jews For A Just Peace, PCS Scotland, RMT Scotland, FBU Scotland, Interfaith Glasgow.
We urge the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to join us.
On 27 February 2018, Jeff Halper (Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – ICAHD) delivered an inspiring lecture, followed by a question/answer session in Edinburgh, hosted by the Scottish Palestinian Forum (http://www.scottishpalestinianforum.org.uk/) and Edinburgh Action 4 Palestine (https://edinburghaction4palestine.org/) Continue reading Jeff Halper: WHERE ARE WE HEADED IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE?
See here for a video which accompanies the report
See here for Voices from Gaza, published by Palestine Solidarity Campaign
An analysis of the implications of President Obama’s approval of $38 billion of further military aid for Israel published by Mondoweiss.
Article by Aljazeera about lack of reconstruction following Israel’s massive attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014: Of the 18,000 homes that were totally destroyed by bombing, just 3,000 have been rebuilt. 75,000 people remain displaced, according to the UN.
The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, set up by the UN, requires Gaza’s Ministry of Public Works to have requests for cement approved by Israel, by the Palestinian Authority, and by the UN Development Programme. Cement vendors can order no more than 1,000 tonnes at a time. An Israeli company called Nesher has a monopoly in this market and has earned tens of millions of dollars from the inadequate and pitifully slow reconstruction efforts in aza.