Discussion with Musheir El-Farra, author of Gaza: When the Sky Rained White Fire

Wednesday 30th October, 7.30pmgaza_colour

Room T9, Dundee University Tower Building 

Musheir El-Farra is originally from Gaza and is a leading figure in the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He is speaking at meetings across Scotland about his book which contains first person accounts from families in Gaza about what they endured during Israel’s invasion and massacre during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. Since then, the UK has continued to sell arms to the Israeli regime, including parts for the drones that patrol the sky over Gaza. 

 

 ‘a crucial and highly significant part […] of the struggle for truth and justice in Gaza.’  – Ilan Pappe 

 

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Public Meeting – Area C and the Death of the Two State Solution

Friday 4th October, 12 – 2pm Accountancy Lecture Theatre, Dundee University, 1 Perth Road (left of Tower Building)

Speaker: Hamed Qawasmeh

How do Palestinian human rights activists and international and local organisations support Palestinian communities at risk in the occupied West Bank?

How do Palestinians continue to assert their rights to their homes and land when entire communities are threatened with forced eviction?

What does Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements mean for Palestinians on a daily basis?

What role can the international community play, including people in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Hamed Qawasmeh will address these and other questions with a focus on the Hebron region in the southern West Bank, as a window onto Israel’s continuing violations in the 60 per cent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control, known as Area C. Hamed directs the Hebron International Resources Network, is an activist in the Villages Group, and also works for the UN, documenting human rights violations in the southern West Bank. He will share his experiences and those of the communities he works with, and discuss the impact of Israel’s policies on the ground. Hamed is from Hebron and previously worked for six years for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The event is free but donations are appreciated. All welcome.

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Time to Divest Conference in Edinburgh

19th and 20th OCTOBER 2013
GRASSMARKET CENTRE, EDINBURGH

A two day conference bringing international speakers and groups and organisations actively supporting the Palestinian call for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) aims to build on boycott successes and growing civil society support for Palestine in Scotland and around the UK.

Divestment of public, workplace and church pension funds from companies, Israeli or otherwise, complicit in Israel’s daily violations of Palestinian rights is a vital part of our solidarity work.  During the struggle against South African apartheid, churches, trade unions and campaigners were part of the world-wide divestment movement.  It is now time to follow the example of others by divesting from Israeli occupation, colonisation and apartheid.

Speakers & participants include:

Anna Baltzer, National Organiser, US Campaign to End the Occupation; Yafa Jarrar, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Carleton University, Canada; Ingvild Skogvold, Advisor, Norwegian People’s Aid; Michael Deas, Europe Coordinator, Palestinian BDS National Committee; Maggie Chapman, Scottish Green Party; Peter Macdonald, Leader of the Iona Community

This conference will help take the first steps in launching effective divestment campaigns in Scotland. Speakers from Canada, the US and Norway are coming to share their experiences and skills.  To ensure the conference is a success your support is needed.

  • Financial donations will help pay for travel for speakers, venue fees and publicity. These can be made online at http://divest.scottishpsc.org.uk/
  • Endorsement of the conference will be an important indicator of Scottish, UK and international civil society support for the Palestinian call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions – ask your trade union, trades council, campaign, group or institution to endorse
  • Your participation in the conference will ensure there are enough of us with the knowledge and skills to take the divestment campaign forward – attend the conference and also ask your trade union, campaign, group or institution to send delegates

Donations can be made via the SPSC website or by mail to Scottish PSC, c/o Peace & Justice Centre, Edinburgh, EH2 4BJ.  Please mark all correspondence with reference to ‘Time to Divest Conference’.  E-mails can be sent to divest@scottishpsc.org.uk.

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Gaza’s Ark – Dundee meeting

Talk by James Godfrey, Gaza’s Ark International Steering Committee Member

Tuesday 20th August, 7.30pm,     Room T9, Dundee University Tower Building

All welcome

Why is Gaza’s Ark needed?

Restrictions by the Israeli government on the freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza have been increasing for decades; trade restrictions have been imposed by Israel upon Gaza since 2001, with a near total ban on exports since 2007. Goods are only allowed in and out of Gaza through one, severely limited gate on its border with Israel; its airport is no longer functioning and cannot be rebuilt; and ships – including fishing boats – are banned beyond three nautical miles from the Gaza shore (the only Mediterranean port closed to shipping). Together, these restrictions have converted a once-productive economy into a dependent society in which 80% of the population relies on UN handouts to live.

What do we hope Gaza’s Ark will actually accomplish, given that Israel has used violence to stop other boats from leaving or entering the port of Gaza?

National governments and international organizations have refused to hold Israel accountable. It is up to civil society to take action on its own. Every step of the way as a boat is purchased in Gaza, refurbished and stocked, we will reach out to international media, human rights organizations, businesses, trade unions and other key civil society stakeholders to raise awareness, educate and mobilize them to action through public endorsements, letters to the editor, social media campaigns, etc. It will take massive, sustained public pressure to push international bodies and governments around the world to force an end to the Israeli blockade. Gaza’s Ark will help create that pressure.

This is your opportunity to come and hear more about the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, its foundation and how you can help.

A collection will be taken for Gaza’s Ark at the end of the meeting, to which all are invited to contribute.

This ten-minute video explains how the Israeli blockade effects the Gazan fishing industry and why the flotilla is necessary.

http://www.gazaark.org/2013/08/16/video-gaza-sea-port-closed-and-blockaded-since-1967/

Organised by Dundee University Action Palestine, Tayside for Justice in Palestine, and the Dundee Branch of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

 

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Palestinians need Justice, not more Peace Talks

In this recent article from his blog, Alister Rutherford exposes the reality of the latest round of Palestinian-Israeli ‘peace’ talks. (Alister is an activist in Tayside for Justice in Palestine)

The latest round of peace talks or to be more accurate, talks about peace talks between Israel and Palestine is just one more distraction from the fundamental issue – Justice, or rather the lack of justice in Palestine. The Israelis and their American friends are only too willing to talk about peace. In fact they like nothing better than to talk about peace. For that is all the Israelis have to offer – talks and yet more talks. All about the need for peace. Not a word about justice. At least not a word about justice for Palestinians. The whole thing is a sham and just a cover for yet further Israeli illegal land grabs. The so-called “Peace Process” has become a major enemy of Human Rights. This is not just my view, but the view of Michael Sfard, Israeli human rights attorney and legal counsel and co-founder of Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights. He states in an interview with Israeli online magazine +972 that, “While talks are happening Israel gets away with anything. Land grabs, the expansion of settlements, even [Operation] Cast Lead was waged while there were peace talks.” When the world focuses its attention on the peace process, he explains, it is much less attentive to Palestinian victims and the cries of human rights organizations and civil society. In the past decade or two, “the peace process has become one of the major enemies of human rights,” Sfard continues, and “no peace process will be fruitful if people are suffering on the ground.” You can read the whole interview here.

It is clear that from the Oslo agreements onwards to the present day, peace talks are immensely beneficial to Israel. The Palestinians get nothing out of them. In fact they continue to lose territory to the ongoing illegal settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. I guess the Palestinian leadership continues to participate in this charade, as the Palestinians are too weak to do anything else. However it is not clear just what endgame the Israelis and their American sponsors have in mind. The kind of peace deal that the Israelis are prepared to offer – retention of East Jerusalem, retention of all the illegal settlements – is something that no Palestinian leadership could ever accept. Not even one as weak and craven as the current one. Israel must know this, so it appears that the Israelis are looking for no more than a few positive words in the world’s press while they continue with business as usual. Which for Palestinians means the occupation continuing as usual. The Israeli and Zionist establishment is essentially bankrupt. They have no achievable long term vision for the area. What they really want of course is for the Palestinians to just go away. Which is why the Israelis make life as difficult and intolerable for Palestinians as possible. However the Palestinians are not going to go away. Moreover, however much the Americans support Israel, even the USA would balk at any military attempt by Israel to repeat what they did in 1948/49 – the ethnic cleansing of the remaining Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. So all that Israel can hope for is that things remain much as they are and that the rest of the world turns a blind eye. If the Palestinians continue to participate in meaningless “peace” talks, so much the better.

This rather rosy picture from an Israeli perspective is unlikely to last for too long. Things are beginning to change. The Global BDS movement – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – has already chalked up a number of important successes. The recent EU decision to limit grants to Israeli organizations that have no links to the illegal settlements was a major blow to Israel. There is hardly any organization in Israel that does not have important links with the settlements. The tide is turning and Israel knows it. Which presumably is why it is so desperate to try and get the debate back to “peace” talks. This is most unlikely to work. Peace without Justice is not really peace and certainly no basis for a sustainable peace. So instead of striving for an illusory peace settlement the focus needs to remain on challenging the status quo. Which is what the BDS movement does by emphasizing instead the three key injustices that need to be resolved before wasting time debating borders etc. Just to remind everyone, here are the three demands:

1. The right of return for all refugees,
2. The end of occupation and
3. Equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

These three demands are beautifully simple and very difficult for anyone to reasonably argue against. All are relevant and essential to any long lasting outcome. To take one example, the third demand – Equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel. In many ways this demand goes to the heart of the conflict. For Israel demands that the Palestinians and the rest of the world for that matter, recognizes Israel as a “Jewish” state. But as a Jewish state, Israel necessarily discriminates against its own citizens who are not Jewish. Including those, like the Palestinians, who were born in Israel and whose parents and grandparents were born there. Yet in all kinds of ways, the state discriminates against Palestinian Israelis, both formally and informally. Palestinian political parties are not in practice, allowed to form part of the government. The allocation of public money is heavily skewed in favour of Jews and Jewish communities. Despite the fact that around 20% of the population of Israel is Palestinian. So how could any Palestinian agree to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state? It is hard to imagine how any country could agree to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as this implies discrimination against non Jews. Yet all Israeli governments continue to make this demand a pre-condition for any final outcome. The very fact that Israel refuses to treat all its citizens equally, should give our governments pause for concern. What are we in the West doing by supporting such an unjust state? There would be greater chance of a long term peace settlement if our governments were to join with the BDS movement in challenging Israel to give reality to these three simple demands for justice.

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A call for action: Stop the Prawer Plan!

On Monday, July 15, thousands of Palestinians protested in their cities, towns and at busy street junctions against the Prawer Plan, in a day that was designated as the national day of rage, or Anger Strike.

From Bir Sabe’ to Jerusalem, West Bank to the Galilee, Haifa to Gaza, Palestinians demonstrated against the Prawer Plan which passed its first reading in the Knesset last month. The Plan aims to

  • confiscate 800,000 dunums of land in the Naqab desert
  • expel over 50,000 Palestinian Bedouins
  • demolish 35 unrecognized villages
  • confine 30% of Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab to 1% of the land

Dozens of Palestinians were either injured or arrested since July 15 by the Israeli occupation forces, yet the Anger Strike is far from over. Throughout the past week protests have been constant within Palestine, with Beirut in Lebanon and Cairo in Egypt also joining in.

We are determined to continue protesting daily and to raise international awareness for the plight of our Palestinian Bedouin brothers and sisters, and the next day of rage will be on Thursday, August 1.

We call on international solidarity activists to organize demonstrations on the same day in their own cities, and to spread awareness of the biggest impending ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians by Israel since 1948 through writing petitions, sharing information on the Naqab and Prawer Plan, or by any other show of activism.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Sign this petition: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Prawer/

More suggestions: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/virtual-protest-against-the-prawer-plan/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PSC+update%3A+join+our+virtual+protest+on+…&utm_source=YMLP&utm_term=Tweet%2C+facebook+or+email+to+jo…

 

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No to G4S

Three security guards employed by the private security firm G4S have evaded prosecution over the death of Angolan asylum seeker, Jimmy Mugenga, who died of suffocation after being held down during a deportation attempt. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/17/jimmy-mubenga-death-no-prosecution

G4S has also been in the news regarding allegations of overcharging a UK government electronic tagging contract by tens of millions of pounds.  The UK’s Justice Secretary announced he had called in the Serious Fraud Office to  investigate the company’s practices, which involved tagging people who had had returned to prison, left the country, died, had had tags removed or had never been tagged in the first place.

Despite international pressure, G4S continues to service security system contracts in Israeli Jails where children as young as twelve years old are being held and tortured. See http://www.waronwant.org/news/press-releases/17908-g4s-faces-protest-over-israel-torture-prisons

What can you do to increase the pressure on G4S?

1. Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 358 on G4S and Palestinian Prisoners. Read it here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/358

2. British Gas and Scottish Power have contracted G4S to read and replace gas meters. If you are not happy about this, you have the right to refuse access to your property and request that your meter be read by a representative of the grid company. If you are still not happy, change your supplier and tell British Gas why you are doing so.

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Eric Burdon cancels gig in Israel “under increasing pressure”

Eric Burdon performs in Scotland (Edinburgh) tonight in the only UK date of a tour that was to have included a gig in Tel Aviv, Israel, on August 1st.  Palestine solidarity activists welcome yesterday’s announcement that he has pulled out of the Tel Aviv engagement “under increasing pressure” to cancel, according to his Manager.

According to Israeli daily, Haaretz, “he was pressured not to perform in Israel and ultimately chose to cancel the concert, which was to take place August 1.  “We are under increasing pressure, including many threatening emails that we are receiving on a daily basis.”

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign was among those who wrote, and invited others to write, to Eric Burdon before he came to Edinburgh asking him to remain true to his long-term hostility to racism and Jim Crow in the US South.

We welcome Eric Burdon’s decision to follow in the tracks of Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Annie Lennox, the Pixies, Massive Attack and many others in refusing to perform in apartheid Israel.   This is another small crack in the wall that imprisons the Palestinian people.

He will now be unreservedly welcome in Edinburgh tonight.

Appeal from many Scots and others to Eric Burdon to boycott Israel.
http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php/solidarity/boycott/cultural/music/1586-eric-burdon-don-t-play-in-tel-aviv-on-august-1st

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An ordinary day in Nablus

The article below was written for Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association and first published in their Newsletter.  The writer is a first year student at Al-Najah university in Nablus and in it she describes how daily life for students is very different there from student life in Dundee.

An ordinary day in Nablus

Let me introduce myself. I am Isra Khanfar, a Palestinian student from Nablus in my first year at An-Najah University where I study at the Faculty of Information Technology. For me, especially after moving out of school life to university life, I prefer university; it will be one of the most wonderful experiences to follow my twelve school years.

A usual Palestinian day begins after we have gone to sleep with our hearts shaken and saddened on hearing newscasts about what the Israeli occupation has done in many different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On waking up I arouse my dreams that slept with me on the same pillow and bed, and greet them with the same daily passion. I then prepare to go to the University loaded with questions that I use every day to ask my teachers at the college when I see them.

Perhaps this sentence about daily preparatory questions may reflect that I am a student. I can’t leave books for one second and just move about. I’m like the rest of the students in all parts of the world and not only in Palestine who do not have strong ties with books and studying a lot. What obliges me to do this is my dreams and aspirations, but they cannot be built only through study.

The open world which is the University has enabled me to meet new students from different cities of the West Bank. They pass long distances and they have crossed the Israeli military with its discomfort and troubles to come and seek their dreams. Maybe you will be shocked when I tell you that it has strengthened more and more in myself the Israeli cruelty on us as Palestinian generations that we were born hearing bullets and live invasions that prevented us from going in or out outside the city.

Perhaps you will be surprised when I tell you that many of the students that I have met come from Palestinian villages and towns yet my ears hear their names for the first time.

What raises my surprise even more is that these villages are near the city of Nablus and what separates us from them is just one Israeli military checkpoint.

Then comes the difficult question that I cannot myself-understand – I do not know my homeland even though I am in my homeland?! This is the most complicated question that couldn’t be answered. Every day I stand by the window of my room my eyes hugging the blue Palestinian sky waiting to see the White Dove, which the world promises us. But honestly, despite my strong hope, I do not see this happening soon.

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Wednesday 26th June, 7.30pm: Meeting with Rich Wiles, editor of ‘Generation Palestine – Voices from the BDS Movement’

During June, there will be a Scottish tour to help launch this important new book on Palestine. The tour comes to Dundee on Wednesday 26th June when there will be a meeting at the Tower Building, Dundee University at 7.30pm.

Rich Wiles will be speaking on the origins, role and future challenges for the BDS movement as an auxiliary component of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Rich, the author of ‘Behind the Wall’ and a photographer who has run a skills project in Aida Camp, Bethlehem for many years, is editor of this important collection of contributions from Pluto Press.

Generation Palestine – Voices from the BDS Movement  contains writing from Desmond Tutu, Ken Loach, Iain Banks, Ronnie Kasrils, Omar Barghouti, Ramzy Baroud and others directly involved in this burgeoning movement, including SPSC’s Mick Napier.

Generation-Palestine1-600x436

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