Category Archives: palestine

B.D.S SHATTERS ISRAEL’S “ILLUSION OF INVULNERABILITY”

This article from The Middle East Magazine, by Federica Marsi, argues strongly that:
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is shattering Israel’s illusion of invulnerability. The “delegitimisation” movement, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defines it, is building consensus among international actors and Israeli Jews themselves, in defiance of the Anti-boycott law.
Despite a still limited impact on Israel’s economy, the BDS movement has been shining a spotlight on the violations of Palestinian human rights and triggered a
change in Israel’s public image that is stirring anxiety in the political establishment. 
Omar Barghouti  (Photo: Tony Greenstein)

Omar Barghouti (Photo: Tony Greenstein)

The piece, which can be seen in full here,  concludes with powerful arguments from Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian BDS National Committee and Ronnie Barkan of the Israeli group Boycott from Within.

The BDS “is not a one-size-fits-all recipe”, says Barghouti. Every international partner is free to decide whether to boycott Israeli companies as a whole or only those involved in the oPt.  But “no one called for boycotting only Sudanese factories in Darfur due to Sudan’s massive violation of international law there. Only when it comes to Israel do we hear this strange distinction and we are asked to fight the crime, not the criminal who committed it”.
Barghouti strongly believes the EU has to take four immediate measures to restore its credibility among the disillusioned Arab and Palestinian civil society: Firstly, impose a military embargo on Israel and the entire region as a “conflict zone”; secondly, ban imports from all Israeli companies that profit from the occupation; thirdly, stop funding Israeli universities and research institutes involved in violations of international law; and instruct European companies to stop their involvement in Israeli violations of international law, including occupied Jerusalem.
The Israeli BDS wing Boycott from Within, advocates a global boycott of Israel. The ultimate aim is equality, which according to Ronnie Barkan is “regarded by Zionists as the destruction of the state of Israel. What the BDS movement calls for is the dismantlement of its system of segregation, just as South Africa was not destroyed by ending apartheid”.

JEWISH CHRONICLE LASHES OUT AS UK ARCHITECTS CALL ISRAEL’S SETTLEMENT BUILDERS TO ACCOUNT

2013-05-16-p8hilltopsettlement

On March 19 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) became the first UK professional association to take action against Israel for its breaches of international law.

Its council passed a motion, proposed by former RIBA president Angela Brady and backed by Architects and Planners for Justice for Palestinians (APJP), calling on the International Union of Architects to suspend the Israeli association from membership, “until it acts to resist [these] illegal projects, and observes international law”.
Full details can be found in a media statement from the APJP.
It took barely 24 hours for the Zionist apologists at the Jewish Chronicle to wheel out the tired and discredited allegation of anti-semitism. A hysterical leader on March 20 read:
Be in no doubt. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is now officially antisemitic. On Wednesday, it voted to support a ban on Jews from joining the International Union of Architects. It didn’t put it quite like that, of course. The wording of its motion referred to ‘Israelis’ rather than ‘Jews’. But in singling out the Jewish state for opprobrium, over and above every other nation on earth, and in seeking to ban Jews — sorry, Israelis — from membership, the driving force behind both the BDS campaign and its RIBA conspirators is clear. Jew hatred lives on in RIBA.
The Jewish chair of APJP, J-BIG supporter Abe Hayeem, is waiting to see if the JC will publish his letter in reply.
Abe Hayeem chairs Architects and Planners for Justice for Palestinians

Abe Hayeem chairs Architects and Planners for Justice for Palestinians

Follow this link to read his presentation to the RIBA council, explaining in detail the complicity of Israel’s architects in pushing forward the illegal colonisation and settlement of Palestinian land.

Israeli architecture association faces ban from international forum - Guardian

 

 

 

 

YOUNG PALESTINIAN PLAYERS ATTACKED AS GLOBAL PETITION TELLS FIFA “SUSPEND ISRAEL”

 
Red card fifa Petition imageAs is so often the case, horrifying events overtake us as we are in the process of planning our campaigns. While Red Card Israeli Racism was setting up an international petition (see below) to support Palestinian calls for the Israeli FA to be suspended from FIFA, two young Palestinian players were badly injured by the Israeli military. At the same time play had to be suspended at the Faisal al-Husseini stadium because of tear gas fired by the same Israeli forces.
Johar Halabiyeh, 19, Player in Abu Dis Club. Shot by Israeli soldiers and assaulted by dogs on 31/1/2014

Johar Halabiyeh (left), 19, Player in Abu Dis Club. Shot by Israeli soldiers and assaulted by dogs on 31/1/2014

Pictures from xssportpal.blogspot
 
Johar.7
 
 
The Red Card campaign is developing a long-term strategy targeting Israel’s membership of international football bodies, at the Brazil FIFA World Cup, at next year’s UEFA competition (which has Israel playing Wales both at home and away), and beyond. The international petition is intended to serve as a rallying point for this long-term effort.
Please add your signature and pass this on by email, FB pages, Twitter etc.
 
INTERNATIONAL PETITION SAYS SUSPEND ISRAEL FROM FIFA
·       Campaigners back Palestinian pressure on FIFA
·       Two Palestinian footballers maimed by Israeli forces (Note 2)
 
Campaign group Red Card Israeli Racism has launched an international petition calling on world football’s governing body FIFA “to suspend membership of the Israeli FA until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law.”
The Red Card campaign drew support for its campaign against Israel hosting the 2012 UEFA under-21 championship from figures as diverse as filmmaker Ken Loach, Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu and footballing legend Eric Cantona.
Its new petition says Israeli state policies, implemented by its civil and military forces, deny Palestinians the right to play and compete, nationally and internationally.
 
“It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice….[to]  commercial and cultural actions worldwide … demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies,” says the petition text.
Most recent victims of Israeli policy are two young footballers shot by Israeli soldiers on their way home from training in the central West Bank on Jan 31. Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, have now been told ‘they are unlikely to play again’
Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril al-Rajoub cited the incident as evidence of Israel’s unsuitability for membership of FIFA. He has repeatedly threatened to call on the FIFA annual congress in Brazil in June to suspend the IFA.
 
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Note 1.  Petition
I call on FIFA to suspend membership of the Israeli FA until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law, thus enabling Palestinian footballers to play and compete nationally and internationally
Why?
Since 1967, Israel has maintained a brutal military occupation of Palestine, building illegal settlements and a separation wall on stolen land, despite condemnation by the UN and International Court of Justice. Within Israel, over fifty laws discriminate against its Palestinian citizens. When influential sports organizations say nothing in the face of an injustice of such magnitude they are complicit.
Commercial and cultural actions worldwide are increasingly demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies.
It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice.
The Israeli occupation specifically impacts on Palestinian football by restricting movement of players within the West Bank, between the West Bank and Gaza, and to take part in international competitions. Israel limits imports of vital sporting equipment. Players have been harassed, detained, imprisoned and killed.*
There is blatant well documented racism within Israeli football.** Players of Palestinian origin suffer insults from the terraces: Beitar Jerusalem football club is arguably worse than any in Europe with chants of ‘Death to Arabs’ and arson attacks. Any efforts made by the Israeli FA to stop this abuse have been ineffective.
In 2013 footballers like Eric Cantona, Frederic Kanoute and 50 other international players challenged UEFA’s decision to hold the Men’s U-21 tournament in Israel. Eminent human rights activists questioned how an organisation that clearly promotes anti-racism can place a major competition in an openly racist country? Yet UEFA still plans to hold the U-19 Women’s final there in 2015 and may consider Israel as a venue for preliminary matches in Euro 2020.
FIFA has recognized some Israeli abuses and created a Task Force aimed at facilitating the movement of players and equipment. But its success depends on the goodwill of the Israeli Defence Force.
When FIFA formally suspended the membership of South Africa FA from 1964 until 1992, its action contributed to an end to apartheid.
Therefore, this petition asks FIFA to follow this precedent and suspend Israel as it did South Africa until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law. The Israeli government must at some point take notice.
 
Note 2. Link to report on injured footballers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

FURY AGAINST ISRAEL’S BEDOUIN DISPLACEMENT PLAN

November 30 was designated a Day of Rage for friends of Palestine worldwide to denounce the Prawer-Begin plan, which foresees the displacement of tens of thousands of Bedouin in order to make way for Jewish colonisation of the Naqab.
Photo: Activestills

Photo: Activestills

972 magazine covered the action in Palestine itself with dramatic pictures, Twitter was alive with reports from many world centres, endorsed by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, and in the UK, the Guardian newspaper published news of the outrage expressed by many prominent cultural figures. The paper’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood reported:

More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile artists, musicians and writers, have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing.

Full text below and here.

detailed briefing on the campaign from Jews for Justice for Palestinians explains Israel’s devastating plans for the destruction of the Naqab’s Bedouin communities and what can be done to stop it.

London activists staged a symbolic protest close to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington. Campaigner Rada Daniell recorded the occasion in words and pictures:

A wooden house, symbolising an illegal settlement, was brought in and positioned in the street.

london day of rage 2

 Two activists locked themselves onto the house to prevent police moving it completely off the street. There was lots of chanting and finger pointing towards the Israeli Embassy as the ‘home’ of war criminals, racists and ethnic cleansers. As it was announced that in the West Bank a similar protest was met with the live fire by the Israeli occupying army, the protesters demanded the end of brutality and the closure of Israeli London Embassy.

london day of rage 1

Britons protest over Israel plan to remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins

More than 50 public figures including Antony Gormley and Brian Eno put names to letter opposing expulsion from historic land

More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile artists, musicians and writers, have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing.

The letter, published in the Guardian, is part of a day of protest on Saturday in Israel, Palestine and two dozen other countries over an Israeli parliamentary bill that is expected to get final approval by the end of this year.

The eviction and destruction of about 35 “unrecognised” villages in the Negev desert will, the letter says, “mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation”.

The signatories – who include the artist Antony Gormley, the actor Julie Christie, the film director Mike Leigh and the musician Brian Eno – are demanding that the British government holds Israel to account over its human rights record and obligations under international law.

According to Israel, the aims of the Prawer Plan – named after the head of a government commission, Ehud Prawer – are economic development of the Negev desert and the regulation of Palestinian Bedouins living in villages not recognised by the state.

The population of these villages will be removed to designated towns, while plans for new Jewish settlements in the area are enacted.

But Adalah, a human rights and legal centre for Arabs in Israel, says: “The real purpose of the legislation [is] the complete and final severance of the Bedouin’s historical ties to their land.”

The “unrecognised” villages in the Negev, whose populations range from a few hundred to 2,000, lack basic services such as running water, electricity, landline telephones, roads, high schools and health clinics. Some consist of a few shacks and animal pens made from corrugated iron; others include concrete houses and mosques built without necessary but unobtainable permission.

The Bedouin comprise about 30% of the Negev’s population but their villages take up only 2.5% of the land. Before the state of Israel was created in 1948 they roamed widely across the desert; now, two-thirds of the region has been designated as military training grounds and firing ranges.

Under the Prawer Plan, between 40,000 and 70,000 of the remaining Bedouin – who became Israeli citizens in the 1950s – will be moved into seven over-crowded, impoverished, crime-ridden state-planned towns. The Israeli government says it is an opportunity for Bedouins to live in modern homes, take regular jobs and send their children to mainstream schools. They will be offered compensation to move, it adds.

Miranda Pennell, a film-maker and one of the letter’s signatories, said: “Citizenship counts for nothing in Israel if you happen to be an Arab. Tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin are being forcibly displaced from their homes and lands. At the same time, there are Israeli government advertisements on the web that promise you funding as a British immigrant to come and live in ‘vibrant communities’ in the Negev – if you are Jewish. This is ethnic cleansing.”

The actor David Calder said: “The Israeli state not only practices apartheid against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, but it seems they have no hesitation in practicing apartheid on their own citizens – in this instance, the Bedouins. When is the west going to find these actions intolerable?”

Jewish activists back call to Boycott Sodastream

Saturday September 28 marked a national day of action to highlight the scandal of high street stores marketing Sodastream – fizzy drink-making products for the home produced by an Israeli company operating out of an illegal settlement on Palestinian land. There were protests in many cities around the UK.

Ecostream 28.9.13 (17)

The Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods banner was prominent on the demonstration in Brighton where Sodastream is promoted by the Israeli-owned Ecostream shop.

The green and gold Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods banner was prominent on the demonstration in Brighton where Sodastream is promoted by the Israeli-owned Ecostream shop.

J-BIG made a point of supporting the campaigners in Brighton and Hove who have steadfastedly maintained weekly protests since the Ecostream store opened just over a year ago. They have faced vicious attacks from Zionists, supported by the Brighton Argus newspaper in attacking them as anti-semites. One of those they have vilified is Jewish PSC member Terry Yason who addressed the protest on Saturday to put the record straight.

Here’s what he said.

Over 2000 years ago Hillel,  the  most famous of all Jewish  Rabbis,  said  when asked What is Judaism? –  “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.”

Since  Hillel Jews have consistently supported  the  underdog – at The  Battle of  Cable  Street against the Fascists  in Brick Lane,  London in 1936 ,  in the  International Brigades in Spain fighting Franco  for the democratically elected Republican Government,  in the Civil Rights Movement riding  and dying with the  Freedom Riders  in Mississippi in the 60s and  fighting in the ANC against Apartheid  South Africa. We have an honourable history.

But today the Government of  the “Jewish State” of Israel defy Hillel in their  inhumane treatment of  the  Palestinians. For the first  time  in Jewish history, to their shame, they have  created  their  own Underdog.

SodaStream, the  parent  of the Brighton shop Eco Stream, manufacture  their products  in a factory situated in  the  illegal settlement  of MISHOR ADUMIN.   In the Sodastream corporate video   their CEO… claims   they are one big happy family. Here is  what  one Palestinian worker says about working for Sodastream.

“I feel humiliated and I am also disgraced as a Palestinian, as the claims in the corporate video are all lies. We Palestinian workers in this factory always feel like we are enslaved . . . “

Brighton and  Hove  Palestine  Solidarity Campaign is  a  universal  movement,  made  up of  ordinary  people  of all  colours,  religions , politics, nationalities and  back grounds. Together we oppose  the savage   treatment  meted  out to the  Palestinians  by the  Israeli government.

As a cornerstone  of  their  propaganda , the Israeli Government  continually label  those who oppose her as anti Semitic.

Today I am  here  as a Jew, with my Jewish  and  non Jewish comrades,  to  destroy once and for all that  insidious claim , and to proclaim that Anti  Zionism is a call  not for  the destruction  of   the  State  of  Israel  but for  its  emancipation . When we  opposed Apartheid  in  South Africa the result  was  the  Rainbow  Nation.

Like South Africa, Israel can become the  democracy it so  mistakenly calls  itself,  if  it also abandons Apartheid.

To make even  more of  a  nonsense  of  their  lies;  today we are  joined   by members of  the two national Jewish organisations, Jews  for  Justice for  Palestinians   and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods  .

 We also have support from two Jewish artists who have sent  these emails. 

From actress Miriam Margolyes:

A great wrong is being done in Israel & decent Palestinian people are having their lives destroyed.  Brighton should emphatically NOT patronise the ECO shop. It is a fraud & a disgrace. ‘ 

From comedian and author Alexei Sayle:

‘I wish all the best to the demonstrators, Sodastream drinks taste like creosote anyway and the fact that they’re produced in an illegal settlement makes them doubly repulsive’

Israel was created  in my  name, exclusively for Jews  by Jews, and as  a Jew I feel a special responsibility to protest at the racist actions  of  the  Israeli government towards  the  Palestinians – their colonial land  grab , the relentless building  of settlements  on Palestinian land, their diversion  of priceless water to the settlements,  the constant confiscation of  Palestinian land , the thousands  of Palestinians  in Israeli jails and  to the shooting by the  IDF of  Palestinian children. In  their  their relentless  and  murderous  pursuit of a  land  devoid  of Palestinians they  destroy  the dream  of  Hillel.

 Today I ask  the Jews  of  the Diaspora to remember your  history  in supporting the  underdog, and  support  us in withdrawing your support  for Israeli Government policies  towards  the  Palestinians.

To all the  people  of Brighton and  Hove   I ask you to boycott the EcoStream shop , refuse to  buy SodaStream products and send  them  packing out  of our  beautiful city .

See also Tony Greenstein’s blog for a detailed report and more pictures.

 

Sound and fury at the Proms over “apartheid” remark

This article first appeared in the September 2013 issue of the BRICUP Newsletter, http://www.bricup.org.uk
Proms collaboration between Kennedy and the young musicians from Palestine Strings.  Credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Proms collaboration between Kennedy and the young musicians from Palestine Strings.
Credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Violinist Nigel Kennedy sent Israel’s apologists into a mighty spin during a Promenade concert in London on August 8 when he used the word “apartheid” to refer to the life circumstances of the young Palestinian musicians with whom he was sharing the stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Kennedy, addressing an overwhelmingly supportive audience for his innovative performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Royal Albert Hall, “ it’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from experiencing this night of music tonight, that given equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”
Kennedy, an enfant terrible of the classical music world , had not played at the Proms for years but took advantage of a radical mix of programmes this time to revisit the Four Seasons with a number of jazz musicians, his own largely Polish Orchestra of Life and 17 players from the Palestine Strings wearing trademark keffiyehs. Aged between 12 and 23, these protégées of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music demonstrated considerable artistry in one of the world’s greatest performance spaces. No wonder the Zionist reaction to their mentor’s solidarity comment was so swift and strong.
Within days the Jewish Chronicle announced with satisfaction  that the BBC intended deleting Kennedy’s remark from its edited TV broadcast of the concert. Baroness Ruth Deech, a prominent Zionist and former BBC governor, had pronounced his words “offensive and untrue” and unfit to be heard during a Prom concert. The BBC, saying they did not“fall within the editorial remit of the proms as a classical music festival,” duly obliged. The critically-acclaimed concert went out on BBC4 on August 23 without the offending comments.  
In the interim BRICUP chairman Jonathan Rosenhead had joined supporters of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, among them actress Miriam Margolyes and writer/comedian Alexei Sayle, in signing a letter contesting the BBC censorship decision. It was published on August 22 in the Daily Telegraph (scroll down through the other letters to find it here) along with a fair-minded article by the paper’s Religious Affairs editor John Bingham.
The Jewish Chronicle named BRICUP and Rosenhead in its coverage.
The issue was taken up by wider activist circles with writers’ organisation PEN and Index on Censorship weighing in in Kennedy’s defence. Rock legend Roger Waters of Pink Floyd was moved to issue a long-awaited statement calling on fellow musicians to back the boycott.
petition calling on the BBC to revoke its censorship decision  quickly garnered more than 1,200 signatures.
Music commentator Norman Lebrecht, himself deeply pro-Israel, picked up the story, calling into question the provenance of a statement in which Kennedy described his comments as “purely descriptive and not political whatsoever” anddenounced the BBC’s “imperial lack of impartiality”. The flighty genius does not own a computer or use any new-fangled digital media so the statement was issued via a musician friend’s Facebook page. As a matter of interest, Lebrecht later posted YouTube footage of the concert, generating serious and largely favourable discussion on his blog.
Matters were complicated by Kennedy’s own manager Terri Robson – presumably with an eye to her charge’s potentially lucrative future bookings – publicly suggesting that the BBC was within its rights to censor him.
Thanks to links with pro-Palestinian classical musicians who are in contact with Kennedy – he does at least own a mobile phone – we were primed and ready when he once again re-iterated his pro-Palestinian stance in an open letter to the Palestine Strings.
He observed that his comment would surely not “have been censored if it had been referring to the benefits of the demise of the apartheid in South Africa when playing with an African ensemble”.
 
Kennedy’s letter suggested that the Palestine Strings had been detained for 12 hours on their return to Palestine. This turned out to be a misunderstanding. The players were not detained but Edward Said National Conservatory of Music’s Orchestras Manager, Tim Pottier, was held for 12 hours at the Allenby Bridge. An official at the conservatory explained in a private email, “Tim is now sadly used to long interrogations and waiting at the Bridge, although the return from the Prom established a record. The occupying authorities who control all entries to Palestine know him far too well and, I suspect, do not like what he does.”
This incident, naturally enough, was not deemed newsworthy by mainstream media. Indeed, although the Telegraph’s Bingham refers to “a bitter row over alleged censorship”, others showed zero interest in the BBC censorship story.
One late entry into the fray was pundit Dominic Lawson who chose to use his valedictory column in the Independent on September 2 to slag off Kennedy and Waters as part of a sinister army of antisemites holding Israel responsible for all the evils of the world.
His attack highlights the care supporters of BDS need to take in the terminology they use. Waters has defended himself expertly when challenged, but drawing attention to Baroness Deech’s Jewish-sounding maiden name (“nee Fraenkel”) rather than referencing her vociferous Zionism, and shooting down a pig-shaped zeppelin emblazoned with a Star of David (albeit alongside other symbols of oppression), has handed ammunition to the enemies of BDS. A call from a small group of German Jews to boycott a forthcoming concert by Waters has won mainstream coverage denied to the injustice done to Kennedy.
It remains to be seen, at the time of writing, if any further controversy will follow Kennedy’s planned appearance at the Last Night of the Proms on September 7.
As he himself noted when news of the BBC’s censorship plan became known:
“ . . . the BBC has created . . . a huge platform for the discussion of its own impartiality, its respect (or lack of it) for free speech and for the discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.”

CALL FROM GAZA TO TOM JONES – SING FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE, NOT ISRAELI APARTHEID

Palestinian musicians from Gaza have issued an eloquent plea to Sir Tom Jones, who supported the South African anti-apartheid movement and recent anti-poverty initiatives, to cancel a planned performance in Tel Aviv in October.

“Sing for Freedom and Justice, Not Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing”, the letter says. See full text below and here.

Let’s hope Sir Tom will join Afropop star Salif Keita in cancelling an Israel gig and violinist Nigel Kennedy in denouncing Israeli apartheid.

The campaign details can be found on this facebook page

 To Tom Jones from Gaza: Sing for Freedom and Justice, Not Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing

 28/08/13

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

Dear Sir Tom

We are a group of Palestinian musicians, academics and students from the besieged Gaza Strip in Palestine. Despite Israel’s blockade of our land, air and sea borders we have continued to enjoy the soul, vibrancy and passion of your songs. Israel has deprived us of our homes, our olive groves, our families and communities, our freedom to travel and even our musical instruments. It is for this, from the crowded streets of Gaza’s refugee camps, we are calling on you to cancel your performance in Tel Aviv, the Sun City of the Middle East, this October. We ask you to honour the global call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli apartheid regime, in the same way you and other famous, principled artists refused to entertain apartheid South Africa.

After the United Nations approved cultural boycott was imposed on apartheid-ruled South Africa in 1980, you pledged not to perform there again. It is to your credit that you were persuaded “without much difficulty not to go back to South Africa” by the Welsh anti-apartheid movement.[1] It is in this tradition of refusing to entertain apartheid and racist subjugation that we are asking you to heed the call to boycott Israel until they stop denying us Palestinians our most basic human rights.

 

What Israel is imposing on us has been described by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as, “tantamount to Apartheid”.[2] Israel has violated more United Nations Resolutions than any other country, and a recent report from the UN Human Rights Council recommended sanctions until Israel adheres to international law.[3]

After visiting the West Bank, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that Palestinians are “being oppressed more than the apartheid ide­o­logues could ever dream about in South Africa.”[4] After their long experience in the fight against inequality and racism, is it not enough that Archbishop Tutu and other anti-apartheid heroes are calling for a boycott of the Israeli apartheid system?

If you perform in Israel, be aware that most of your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army. For those of us in Gaza, no matter who we are, we are denied the chance to see you perform by armed Israeli soldiers, Merkava Tanks, Drones, and F16s. We are punished because we belong to this land and hold its identity. Due to these restrictions the vast majority of us have never left the Gaza Strip. The area of Gaza is fifty times smaller than your homeland Wales. Yet our population is half the size, meaning that we are trapped in one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

In the horrific and destructive bombings over eight days last November, Israeli forces killed over 170 people (including 33 children) and injured over 1700.[5] Their crime? Being born Palestinian.

Can you accept 1.7 million of us in Gaza, over half of whom are children, are being collectively punished in what major Human Rights Organizations call, “the world’s largest open air prison?”. Can you accept that Palestinians make up the largest community of refugees in the world, ethnically cleansed from their land but denied the legal right to return home? Can you accept that Israeli policy included banning the entry of musical instruments, such that so many splendid voices of our young could never be heard by the outside world?

 

In June this year in the agit8 concert you joined the call to end poverty, singing “lord help the poor and needy” and “go help the motherless children.”[6] These are worthy aims, and we ask you to join our call to not entertain the country that systematically inflicts abject poverty on our people in Gaza and routinely makes orphans of our children. The 2005 call for the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel is endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society organizations,[7] and has been heeded by a large number of artists and singers around the world such as Roger Waters, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Vanessa Paradis, The Pixies, Faithless and Carlos Santana.[8]

 

What we are asking for is based on international law, endless United Nations resolutions and an expectation to live with the same basic freedoms as anyone else in the world. We demand an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and full equality granted for Palestinian citizens living inside Israel. This is not utopia; it is a call for equality that has been denied to us since Israel was founded on the ruins of Palestinian refugees.

 

When asked, you drew a line on apartheid South Africa. We ask you now to maintain the pressure already set by an increasing number of musicians refusing to perform in Israel until Palestinians get the same human rights and dignity as anybody else would expect. From the Gaza Ghetto, we ask you to heed the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions and to cancel your concert this October 26th in Tel Aviv, the Sun City of the Middle East.

 

Jafra of Gaza Band
Mohammed J Akkila (Singer)
Ismail Harazine (Flute Player)
Rami Abu Shabaan (Musician)
Ahmed Irshi (Singer)
Bashor Bseiso (Musician)
Iyad Abu Lilah (Drummer)
Mohammed Said el-Susi (Rapper)
Osama Said El Susi
Iyad Zumlut (Musician)
Haidar Eid

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTAP)

One Democratic State Group

 

References

[1] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wales-role-ending-apartheid-recorded-4803372

[2] http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5588/un-committee-2012-session-concludes-israeli-system

[3] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/un-inquiry-calls-for-sanctions-against-israel-over-west-bank-settlements.premium-1.500565

[4] http://www.rabbisletter.org/endorsement-by-south-african-archbishop-demond-tutu/

[5] http://www.dci-palestine.org/documents/dci-concludes-investigations-%E2%80%93-children-make-approximately-23-percent-fatalities-gaza

[6] http://www.one.org/us/2013/06/14/jessie-j-tom-jones-and-baaba-maal-amplify-the-call-to-end-extreme-poverty-at-agit8-in-london/

[7] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

[8] http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/roger-waters-calls-for-boycott-of-israel-20130320

 

NIGEL KENNEDY CONDEMNS BBC’S “CENSORSHIP AND IMPERIAL LACK OF IMPARTIALITY”

The following statement has been issued on behalf of violin maestro Nigel Kennedy in response to the BBC’s decision to censor a remark he made  during a Prom concert with young Palestinian musicians on August 8 (see previous post for details).

Will the BBC now have the courage to restore Kennedy’s comment to its rightful place in the TV broadcast of the concert on August 23?  Will they continue with his scheduled appearance as one of the stars in the gala Last Night of the Proms on September 7?

As Kennedy says,  the BBC may have done us a favour by inadvertently generating “discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.”

A spokesperson for Nigel Kennedy said:

“Nigel Kennedy finds it incredible and quite frightening that in the 21st century it is still such an insurmountable problem to call things the way they are. He thinks that once we can all face issues for what they really are we can finally have a chance of finding solutions to problems such as human rights, equal rights and even, perhaps, free speech. His first reaction to the BBC’s censorship & imperial lack of impartiality was to refuse to play for an employer who is influenced by such dubious outside forces.

Mr Kennedy has, however, reminded himself that his main purpose is to provide the audience with the best music he can deliver. To withdraw his services would be akin to a taxi driver refusing to drive their customer due to their political incorrectness. He, therefore, is not withdrawing his services that he owes to his audience, but is half expecting to be replaced by someone deemed more suitable than him due to their surplus of opportunism and career aspirations.

Mr Kennedy is glad, however, that by censoring him the BBC has created such a huge platform for the discussion of its own impartiality, its respect (or lack of it) for free speech and for the discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.

Mr Kennedy believes his very small statement during his concert was purely descriptive and not political whatsoever.”

EURO 2013 IN ISRAEL DRAWS PALESTINIAN, ISRAELI AND OPERATIC PROTESTS

Israel’s shameful hosting of the UEFA under-21 men’s football finals, due to conclude when defending champions Spain face five-time champions Italy on Tuesday June 18, has elicited a range of creative protests from Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and from operatic singers in the UK.

In the West Bank village of Nabih Saleh, regular protests against the course of Israel's Apartheid wall deployed the Red Card symbol. See a series of photos here.

In the West Bank village of Nabih Saleh, regular protests against the course of Israel’s Apartheid wall deployed the Red Card symbol. See a series of photos here.

Israeli activists staged a series of Red Card protests linking the UEFA tournament to 65 years of confiscation of Palestinian land.

Israeli activists staged a series of Red Card protests linking the UEFA tournament to 65 years of confiscation of Palestinian land.

In London, J-BIG soprano Deborah Fink and baritone Willem Meijs gave football's favourite operatic number a new twist.

In London, J-BIG soprano Deborah Fink and baritone Willem Meijs gave football’s favourite operatic number a new twist. See YouTube video of their performance.

HIGH PROFILE SUPPORT FOR UEFA CAMPAIGN FOLLOWS STRING OF BDS VICTORIES

Mahmoud Sarsak, Palestinian footballer and former detainee, currently in the UK as part of a European tour

Mahmoud Sarsak, Palestinian footballer and former detainee, currently in the UK as part of a European tour

The past couple of months have been a high-octane period for the BDS movement – more than this modest blog could keep up with!

Stephen Hawking raised the bar for scientists and others in the academic community when he declined an invitation to take part in Israel’s President’s Conference, while Zionists resorting to legal weapons had their fingers scorched when they took the UK’s Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) to a tribunal.
See reports on both from the British Committee for the Universities of  Palestine (BRICUP)
The campaign exposing toxic global security firm G4S for its many human rights transgressions in Palestine and elsewhere, hit the headlines with protests at its AGM in the City of London on Thursday June 6.
Currently J-BIG is proud to be playing a leading role in the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign which has highlighted the grotesque injustice of Israel being allowed to host a major football tournament this month while denying fundamental rights to Palestinians.
This campaign is receiving a huge boost thanks to the inspiring presence in the UK of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, former political prisoner and hunger striker.
Sarsak with poster of football hero Eric Cantona at the Manchester United ground

Sarsak with poster of football hero Eric Cantona at the Manchester United ground

Mahmoud’s career as a promising midfielder in the Palestinian national team was blighted by his arrest, interrogation, torture and three years’ detention without trial in various Israeli jails. After his eventual release less than a year ago, following a global campaign on his behalf, he has resolved to use sport as a medium to express his solidarity with all victims of oppression, focusing on political prisoners and especially those in Israel and Palestine.  He explains his evolution in an interview here.
After many weeks of tense anticipation as the Mahmoud Sarsak 2013 UK Tour support group worked with friends in Gaza to negotiate hurdles thrown up by visa applications, flight arrangements and sealed borders, Mahmoud arrived in London in time to lead protests at the Annual Congress in London on May 24 of European football’s governing body UEFA.
TV footage showed Mahmoud accompanied by Jewish comedian and author Alexei Sayle as he presented petitions calling on UEFA not to hold its under-21 finals in Israel this month.
On May 28th his message was underwritten by prominent individuals including veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and top-ranking professional footballer Frederic Kanoute in a letter published in the Guardian newspaper.
They draw a contrast between UEFA’s resolve at its congress in London to punish racism in football and its “total insensitivity to the blatant and entrenched discrimination inflicted on Palestinian sportsmen and women by Israel.”
Sarsak’s UK tour has taken him so far to Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield,  Newcastle and Scotland.
Mahmoud in Sheffield with Football Unites, Racism Divides

Mahmoud in Sheffield with Football Unites, Racism Divides

The tour is supported by leading members of anti-racist football organisations Show Racism the Red Card, the FARE network, Football Beyond Borders and the Professional Footballers’ Association, plus Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa and J-BIG. 
On the eve of the final match in the European under-21 competition, at 6.30pm on Monday June 17 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Mahmoud will be part of  an expert panel exploring the impact of politics and racism in football and the role of sport as a means for Palestinians to resist discrimination.
The event will include a screening of a new short documentary  from Philosophy Football,  filmed days before the under-21 tournament kicked off in Israel on June 5.
As during the earlier leg of his European tour, which took him to France, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands and Italy in March and April, Mahmoud and his message have attracted considerable media interest, especially from sports journalists.
Here are just a few examples:
Here is some of the coverage of the controversy Red Card has generated: