Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category


Talk at Sarum College on the history and problems of this troubled land

On the 31 July 2019, Prof. Mazim Qumsiyeh (pictured) of the Bethlehem University gave an extremely interesting talk on the history and political situation in Israel and Palestine.  This is a tricky subject at the best of times with deep historical wounds and considerable and seemingly irreconcilable hatreds.

Mazin Qumsiyeh Interveiw at Bethlehem University - YouTube

Pic: YouTube

His talk – illustrated with copious slides – was built around the medical paradigm that is: start with the history, then the diagnosis, followed by therapy and prognosis.  So he started with the history of the area.  We now tend to think of it as an area under constant conflict but interestingly, historically, nothing much happened there and there was little conflict.  Such as there was came from outside namely the Crusaders and latterly the Zionists.  This movement, founded by Theodor Herzl in 1868, introduced the idea of a Jewish homeland.  To do this, the local existing population had to go.

We are familiar today with the Balfour Declaration but less so its equivalent in France by Jules Martin Cambor.  This led to the creation of the British mandate in the area and the loss of territory by the indigenous people who had lived there for a considerable time.  The maps showing the loss of territory are well known.

Prof. Qumsiyeh contrasted the ownership of land in Israel by Palestinians at 8.3% with apartheid in South Africa where ownership by indigenous people was 11%.

Many efforts have been made to resolve the conflict and one such is the two state solution promoted by several western powers and recently the Quartet.  He does not support this.  A two state solution does not solve the problems he claims, merely creating fresh ones with settlers and others being moved as part of the process.  He says quite simply that the colonists and the colonisers should live together.  He emphasised the importance of diversity.  The history of the area supports this with many different peoples and beliefs existing together over centuries.  His own family is an example of various religions and beliefs represented through the generations.

He also believes that fundamental to any solution is the issue of human rights and in particular, the right of refugees to return.  He reminded us that one of the early drafts of the UN Declaration of Human Rights was written by a Jew.

Our concept of the area is that of constant violence: Israeli soldiers against civilians or rockets being fired into Israel.  Yet resistance for many years has been non violent and consisted of the usual run of sit-ins, protests and civil disobedience.

This was a truly enlightening talk by someone who has been arrested many times by Israeli authorities and also by Palestinian ones as well.  It was given without bitterness or rancour.  He pointed out that many Israelis are unhappy with the treatment of Palestinian and many come to support sit-down protests in front of bulldozers brought in to demolish townships and olive groves.  He was not anti Israel or anti Palestine but pro human rights.  He illustrated his talk with pictures of the wall of course and the destruction of Palestinian communities.

No doubt aspect of his talk could be questioned and facts challenged.  It was disappointing when the very first question – or rather statement – was from a man who said he was Jewish who simply said it was ‘anti Israel, anti Jewish propaganda with every slide.’  It was a pity he was not asked to explain what he meant by referring to particular slides .

Real peace the professor said will come with ‘mental liberation’ followed by physical.  Apathy (he meant in the west) was a major problem.


If you would like to join the group you would be very welcome.  Come along to one of our events over the next few months and make yourself known.

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#Palestine film

Posted: February 7, 2015 in Film, Gaza, Palestine
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A documentary film is being shown at the Studio Theatre in Salisbury called Open Bethlehem.  It is on Friday 13 March and details are on the attached flyer.  The phone number for tickets is 01722 349740 and they can be purchased in the tourism office in Fish Row, Salisbury.

 

Film, Omar

Posted: December 5, 2014 in Event, Film, Gaza, Human Rights Act, Urgent action
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Last night the Salisbury Arts centre hosted the film #Omar in the fourth of our collaborations with the Centre.  The film is a gripping story of love and betrayal in the occupied territories of Palestine and shows the grim realities of life for Palestinians living there.  Many people signed our cards at the end of the showing which concerned five individuals at risk of, or who have been, tortured (but not in Palestine).  A total of 103 were signed.

Several people expressed interest in the group and may come here to find out about us.  Details are to be found in the ‘About Us’ tab and we look forward to seeing you again.  ‘Every little helps’ is true and if you are able to help now and again at our events that is always appreciated.  From time to time we post urgent actions and if you can find time to write that is also a help.

We are possibly entering a difficult time as far as human rights are concerned with a concerted attack on the Human Rights Act by sections of the media.  It is fuelled often by misreporting of cases and the almost complete absence of reporting of the benefits the act has brought for ordinary people.  Hence the myth has become established that it helps terrorists, mass murderers and the like and it is all to do with the European Union imposing their beliefs on us.  The Conservative government have said they would like to abolish the act and replace it with a new version.

#Gaza letter

Posted: August 17, 2014 in Gaza, USA
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We attach a letter published in the Guardian newspaper on 15th of August from survivors of the Holocaust.  It is an extremely moving letter, particularly bearing in mind the people who signed it.  It is unequivocal in its criticism of the violence by the IDF in GazaIt is worthy of a wider audience.

“As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide, we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonisation of historic Palestine.  We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation.  Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever-pitch.  Politicians and pundits in the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and rightwing Israelis are adopting neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages (advertisement, 11 August; Report, 11 August) to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children.  Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.  We call for an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza.  We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean “Never again for anyone”. ”
Hajo Meyer survivor of Auschwitz; The Netherlands, Henri Wajnblum survivor and son of an Auschwitz victim from Lodz, Poland; Belgium, Norbert Hirschhorn refugee of Nazi genocide and grandson of three people who died in the Shoah; London, Suzanne Weiss survived in hiding in France, whose mother died in Auschwitz; Canada, Felicia and Moshe Langer survivors from Germany, Moshe survived five concentration camps, family members were exterminated; Germany, Michael Rice child survivor, son and grandson of survivor; United States and 30 Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide and 260 children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other relatives of survivors
See full list at ijsn.net/gaza/survivors-and-descendants-letter/

 


The world has been horrified by the films, reports and photographs coming out of #Gaza since the latest violence started.  Amnesty teams – along with other organisations – have been in Gaza to assess the damage and have found evidence of war crimes by both sides in the conflict.  There have been serious violations by both parties but since the Israel Defence Force is the best equipped army and air force in the region by far, the damage and destruction has been predominantly on the Palestinian side.

Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel but with the protection of Iron Dome, few have resulted in casualties.  The casualties on the Palestinian side have now passed 2000 (12 August, Sky News) with 67 Israeli deaths.  Many of the Palestinian casualties are women and children, killed in strikes on schools, mosques and hospitals.

Israel is able to carry on its attacks secure in the knowledge that it has, and continues to have, the support of the United States.  Indeed, the USA has continued to supply weapons to replace those lost in the latest fighting.  The United Kingdom supplied £6.3m in weapons to Israel last year.

It seems clear to most outside observers that whatever the provocation Israel has suffered, the scale of destruction in Gaza has been disproportionate.  This latest incursion follows hard on operation Cast Lead which also wrought terrible destruction in the territory.

Nor is the suffering imposed limited to the fighting but comes on top of the relentless expansion of settlements and the blockade of Gaza which has now lasted over seven years.  Gaza is in effect a prison surrounded by a stifling regime of checkpoints, barriers and walls.  They are not allowed to catch fish in the sea.  Inhabitants also have to endure power and water cuts for no apparent reason.

Protest in the south of France

Protest in the south of France

Is there any hope in all this?  Surprisingly, there may be.  It will not come from the ceasefires and feeble political statements wishing peace while at the same time continuing to sell arms.  The key difference this time is that Israel is losing the propaganda war.  Such is the volume of evidence emerging from Gaza, the harrowing footage of injured children and pictures of the scale of destruction, that people around the world have been moved to protest (see picture).

British Ministers are forbidden to use the word ‘disproportionate’ in their various statements.  But the public can see that it is.  Nick Clegg described the attacks on schools as ‘outrageous’.  Israel is desperate to avoid its actions going to the International Criminal Court and will no doubt succeed with US help in so doing.

With Cast Lead, the Israelis were able to keep journalists out of Gaza so that very little was seen on our TV screens.  This time, with a range of devices, images are coming through loud and clear.  This is another example of the public seeing things for what they are and politicians being behind the curve.  Support for Israel is still strong in the United States certainly among Senators and Congressmen, but younger people are not so supportive.  This is likely to be the key difference this time.

Visit the South Region site of Amnesty

Amnesty International comments on Gaza

Stop arming Israel