Palestine Solidarity Campaign Weekly Update – Thursday 14 May 2009
Just to draw attention to the PSC Weekly Update which includes a substantial news section with links to many interesting articles. Here is this weeks – a number of the articles listed have already been posted on our website, so apologies for the duplication.
1. Protests as Lieberman visits London
Openly racist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited London this week on his European tour and was met with lively and angry protests. Despite the secretive details of his visit, we were able to find out that he had a meeting in the Foreign Office on the morning of 13 May, and at very short notice, over 200 people gathered, joined by MPs Richard Burden, Jeremy Corbyn, Martin Linton and Baroness Jenny Tonge, in a protest by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, British Muslim Initiative, Stop the War Coalition and the Palestinian Forum in Britain. Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East lent their active support.
Avigdor Lieberman met with both Foreign Minister David Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague. A lively and vocal protest publicised by Jews for Justice for Palestinians outside Lieberman’s meeting hosted by the Jewish National Fund on the evening of 12 May.
2. Marking 61 years since the Nakba
‘Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party wants to ban Israeli Arabs from marking the anniversary of what they term “the Catastrophe” or Nakba, when in 1948 some 700,000 Arabs lost their homes in the war that led to the establishment of the state of Israel. The ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party said it would propose legislation next week for a ban on the practice and a jail term of up to three years for violators.’ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1085588.html
Palestine Monitor writes on the Nakba:
‘For 61 years, the Palestinian people have had to deal with a life most westerners cannot even imagine. Being driven out of their homes, villages, and cities. Millions of Palestinians having to leave their land completely in the Diaspora. The continuing theft of their land because of the separation wall and the illegal Israeli settlements that are still expanding in the West Bank. Arbitrary beatings, arrests, and torture by Israeli soldiers. Targeted killings, or murders, by the Israeli military leading to walls being filled with posters of martyrs—some of them teenagers or younger. Hundreds of checkpoints and road barriers making travel inside the West Bank humiliating and long. And so much more…’
3. Pope calls for end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and for Palestinian ‘sovereign homeland’
On his visit this week, ‘the pope made his strongest call yet for a “sovereign Palestinian homeland”. He said mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square and offered his “solidarity” to the Palestinians of Gaza, telling them he wanted to see the Israeli blockade of the coastal strip lifted.’
And speaking in Aida refugee camp, standing against the backdrop of the Apartheid Wall, he said: ‘I know how much you have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of the turmoil that has afflicted this land for decades.’
And Israel tried to hide the reality of its occupation: ‘An official Palestinian Media Centre was set up at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem; however on Monday Israeli police and intelligence forces shut the centre down… In his welcoming speech to Pope Benedict XVI on Monday, President Shimon Peres declared that “Israel safeguards the absolute freedom of religious practice and free access to holy places. We are always happy to receive pilgrims from throughout the world in the Holy Land”. However for Palestinian Christians living under occupation Israeli-issued permits must be obtained to visit their holy shrines in Jerusalem and Nazareth. Many Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank were refused permits to attend yesterday’s Mass lead by the Pope at the Garden of Gethsemane. Israel granted 93 permits to Gazan Christians to attend the Mass, but refused permits to more than 400. Israel cited security reasons for refusing permits to all Gazans below the age of 35. Further, Israel controls access to Bethlehem and it is very difficult for Christians outside the West Bank to obtain visas to visit or to study there. Even Palestinians within the West Bank have to pass through checkpoints to go there. Father Hijazin, a Jordanian, was illegal in the West Bank for some time as the Israeli authorities refused to grant him a visa.
4. Gaza – dialysis supplies running out, families on one meal a day
With only three days’ supplies of dialysis solutions left, the Palestinian health ministry said that ‘more than 600 Palestinians are treated for kidney failure and have weekly dialysis sessions including 200 children.’ It ‘previously reduced the dialysis sessions for each patient from three to twice weekly’.
And Gaza families are ‘down to one meal a day’: ‘Umm Abdullah cannot remember the last time she was able to feed meat to her eight children. She does know that for the past week the single meal she cooked for them each day consisted only of lentils. And that on one day, she had received aid coupons from the United Nations, which she subsequently sold to buy tomatoes and eggplant at the local market.
With construction materials banned by Israel, Gaza’s government is looking at ‘plans to kick off a state home building project that encourages locals to rebuild out of clay bricks’
5. Amira Hass banned from reporting the truth from Gaza…
On 12 May, Israeli police detained Haaretz correspondent, Amira Hass, as she left the Gaza Strip. Haaretz reported that Hass was released on bail after promising not to return to Gaza for 30 days.
Her latest article in Haaretz – ‘Israel knows that peace doesn’t pay’, focuses on the advantages Israel gains by maintaining the occupation: ‘Successive Israeli governments since 1993 certainly must have known what they were doing, being in no hurry to make peace with the Palestinians. As representatives of Israeli society, these governments understood that peace would involve serious damage to national interests.’
6. But criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza continues
Gideon Levy also wrote in Haaretz: ‘The Israel Defense Forces returned from Operation Cast Lead and, of course, denied everything. The people applauded it for its bogus victory and no one paid much attention to the awful price paid by the Palestinians. But after the smoke (in this case, white phosphorus) cleared a bit, the blood began crying out from the ground. Foreign journalists and human rights groups investigated and reported their findings. The United Nations said the IDF intentionally targeted its facilities, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused the army of illegally using phosphorous bombs, the International Red Cross reported on the injured being denied medical attention and strikes on medical crews, officers at a premilitary course spoke of civilians killed, and Amira Hass wrote for Haaretz about the killing of people flying white flags, the use of flechette shells and the annihilation of entire families…’
‘But let’s assume Amnesty is lying, Human Rights Watch is fabricating, B’Tselem is embellishing, the UN is anti-Israel and the media is full of hatred against us – isn’t there enough in the IDF’s own figures to shake us to the core? Three hundred civilians killed, including 90 children – isn’t that enough to expose the propagandistic lie of “the most moral” army? How many innocent people must be killed for that to happen?’
7. Twenty Israeli organisations call for Norwegian disinvestment
A wide alliance of Israeli civil society and grassroots organizations has sent a letter to the Norwegian Pension Fund, urging it to support their efforts for a just peace and equality in Israel/Palestine by divesting from all companies involved in the Israeli occupation.
8. Arab railway workers in Israel have scored a first victory: Israel Railways forced to act!
The Israeli labour court ordered Israel Railways to review its new policy requiring army service as an employment condition in consultation with Israel’s Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. On May 6, 2009, Israel Railways submitted a new policy proposal to the court. However, no action will be taken while the lawsuits are pending as the court has ordered a temporary injunction. The date for the next hearing is still to be determined.
9. New book on Israel’s attempt to assassinate Khalid Mishal
Review of Paul McGeough’s book on Mossad’s attempted assassination of Khalid Mishal: In early September 1997, Danny Yatom, the head of Mossad, arranged a special screening for Binyamin Netanyahu, who was then prime minister. The film, shot on the streets of Tel Aviv, presented the plan for the assassination of Khalid Mishal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau in Amman.