Category Archives: Palestine News

The Great Return March, Gaza

 

From 30 March (Land day) until 15 May (Nakba day), Palestinians in Gaza are protesting peacefully to

  • 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.

80% of the population are dependent on humanitarian aid; 42% of essential medicines are at zero stock; 97% of the water is not safe for consumption; there is only electricity for around 8 hours each day.

The Israeli military has responded to this peaceful protest with live fire, tank shells and teargas.  No Israeli soldiers or civilians have been killed or injured, but up until 23 April, Palestinian casualties have been as shown in the graphic below.

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Statement from Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Stand Up to Racism march in Glasgow on 17 March

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.

SUTR Response

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.

Jeff Halper: WHERE ARE WE HEADED IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE?

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/)

 Jeff spoke of an initiative that he and ICAHD (https://icahd.org/) are involved in – a joint Palestinian-Israeli grassroots initiative to formulate a political settlement based on the creation of one democratic state.

 Jeff accepted that currently there is resistance to this idea from different groups – Jewish Israeli who want a Jewish state and Palestinian who want their own state. However, he argued that the Matrix of Control which Israel has laid over the Occupied Palestinian Territories has effectively eliminated the two-state solution and has produced a regime of apartheid.

 Faced with apartheid and the warehousing of the Palestinians, Jeff believes that the only just solution remaining is a one state democracy … equality under the law for Jew, Arab and other groups; for people of all religions, Muslim, Druze, Jew, Christian – or none.

 He acknowledged that much needs to happen to overcome the resistance to a single democratic state and bring about a change in the mindset of people in the different communities. He spoke of the need to listen to, understand and work to alleviate the concerns of these different communities.

 He called on international activists to continue their work to render the current system of apartheid untenable by e.g. carrying on with activism, BDS etc.

 Jeff concluded by saying that further work is needed to flesh out the details of the initiative e.g. to ensure economic and other inequalities are minimized, but that it was hoped that the initiative will be launched in autumn this year.

 

Jeff Halper Bio

Jeff Halper is an Israeli anthropologist and Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

 He is the author of An Israeli in Palestine (London: Pluto Press, 2008) on his work against the Occupation and Obstacles to Peace (2005), a manual for activism in Palestine/Israel. His most recent book is War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification (Pluto, 2015), which was shortlisted for the Palestine Book Award.

 Jeff participated in the first (and successful) attempt of the Free Gaza Movement to break the Israeli siege by sailing into Gaza. He serves on the international support committee of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine, and was nominated by the American Friends Service Committee for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, together with the Palestinian intellectual and activist Ghassan Andoni.

See https://onestatefoundation.org and https://www.facebook.com/onestatefoundation/

 

 

Gaza Waiting to be Rebuilt

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.