Archive for the ‘Palestine’ Category


Damning report by human Rights Watch published

A damning report accusing the Israeli government of Apartheid was published today (27 April 2021). The 213 page report goes into copious detail about the wide range of actions by the Israeli government, which in the view of HRW amount to the crime of Apartheid. The report echoes the previous report published by B’Tselem in January alleging the same thing.

Apartheid as a policy of discrimination against an ethnic or racial group is closely linked to South Africa where the white settlers practised a wide range of discriminatory policies against the black population. The practice was defined in 1973 by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute (not ratified by Israel) to consist of three elements:

  • An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another
  • A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalised group
  • Inhuman acts.

The actions by the Israeli government against Palestinians are extensive and include systematic discrimination against them. A range of abuses are carried out the report says including sweeping movement restrictions, confiscation of vast swathes of land in the West Bank, forcible transfer of Palestinians out of their homes – thousands of which are demolished – denial of residency rights and the suspension of basic human rights to millions of Palestinians.

“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish, is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation. These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another” Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, HRW.

The report draws on years of human rights documentation, case studies, and a review of government planning documents, statements by officials and other sources. HRW wrote to the Israeli government in July 2020 but received no reply. Even during the Covid-19 crisis, twenty times more Jewish people have received vaccination in comparison to Palestinians.

Inhuman acts include expropriation of land and property, creation of separate reserves and ghettos, and the denial of a right to leave and return to their country.

The Israeli government has acted with continuing impunity safe in the unwavering support it receives from the USA. It has repeatedly denied access to the UN Commission on Inquiry into Gaza. It also denies access to Amnesty and other human rights organisations researching allegations of war crimes during the various conflicts.

Human Rights Watch argues that this report, and others, should prompt a re-evaluation by the international community into the nature of its engagement with Israel. They should adopt a more human rights centred approach rather than continue to cling to the stalled peace process. Arms sales and security equipment should be conditional on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps to ending the commission of the crimes described in the report. Countries persist with viewing the occupation as temporary whereas in reality, the oppression of Palestinians has reached a permanence which meets the threshold of apartheid and persecution.

The Israeli government dismissed the report as ‘preposterous and false’ but did not respond to any of the central assertions within it. (Sky News, 27 April)

Sources: Amnesty International; Guardian; Human Rights Watch; B’Tselem; Sky News

UPDATE: We have added Israeli Campaign Against Housing Demolitions to the list of contact addresses at the bottom of this site (30 April). This followed a presentation at a SCIP meeting (29 April).


Salisbury Concern for Israel, Palestine is holding a Zoom event

SCIP is holding a Zoom meeting on 29 April 2021 in which the Jerusalem academic, Jeff Halpen will speak about his ideas for the future of Palestine. Jeff is the author of Decolonising Israel: Liberating Palestine. Zoom opens at 18:45. He will be joined by three other guests. Details on the link below:


Boris Johnson’s reaction to the ICC case and Palestine

Palestine Briefing – parliamentary newsletter and briefing service


Johnson declaration undermines ICC inquiry into Palestine war crimes


Boris Johnson took a sudden last-minute decision this week to oppose the International Criminal Court inquiry launched last month into war crimes that may have been committed in the West Bank and Gaza since 2014.
While declaring his support for the ICC, the Prime Minister said this particular inquiry was “an attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s”.

In the past the ICC has turned down Palestinian requests for inquiries into Israeli conduct in Gaza and the West Bank on the grounds that Palestine was not a state. This situation changed in 2012 when Palestine was recognised as a state by the UN and again in 2015 when it was accepted as a member by the ICC – and the UK did not vote against either.

The Palestinian request for an inquiry – made in 2015 – took five years to be processed and even in 2020, when the chief prosecutor was ready to launch an inquiry, she asked a panel of judges to rule whether the ICC really had jurisdiction. Germany put forward counterarguments, as did Hungary, Brazil and Australia, but the judges ruled last month – in March 2021 – that there was no jurisdictional problem and therefore the inquiry could go ahead. Again the UK did not publicly oppose.

On the day of the announcement the Israeli prime minister launched a diplomatic offensive, summoning all his ambassadors at a weekend and ordering them to set all other work aside and lobby their host governments to block the inquiry. The lobbying appears to have been successful. That is why the Prime Minister’s announcement, which is of vital, even existential, significance to a Palestinian state, was made neither in Ramallah, nor in Jerusalem, nor even by the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons, but in a letter from Downing Street to the Conservative Friends of Israel.

Palestinian ambassador Husam Zomlot said: “It is clear that the UK now believes Israel is above the law. There is no other interpretation of a statement that gives carte blanche to Israel. If ‘friends and allies’ are exempt from international law, there is no foundation for the rules-based global order.”

Two questions now arise. The Middle East minister made a statement about the ICC inquiry on March 2nd which made no mention of a change in policy. What happened since then to change the Prime Minister’s mind?

Secondly, Scottish QC Karim Khan takes over as ICC Prosecutor in June and will be responsible for conducting the inquiry. Could the Prime Minister’s letter conflating UK support for reform of the ICC with the UK’s new-found opposition to an inquiry be intended to influence him?

Dear Stephen, Eric and Stuart,

As you are aware, the UK is a strong supporter of the ICC in line with its founding statute. We have been working with other countries to bring about positive change at the Court’. This process has been driven by our ambition to strengthen the ICC. The election of two highly qualified UK nationals, Judge Joanna Korner QC and Karim Khan QC, to the roles of Judge and Prosecutor to the ICC respectively, will help serve reform. This was a key priority for the UK, demonstrating our enduring commitment to strengthening the Court and serving international justice.

As a founder member of the ICC, we have been one of its strongest supporters and continue to respect the independence of the institutions. We oppose the ICC’s investigation into war crimes in Palestine. We do not accept that the ICC has jurisdiction in this instance, given that Israel is not a party to the Statute of Rome and Palestine is not a sovereign state. This investigation gives the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s.

Yours ever, Boris


UPDATE: 30 JANUARY 2021

Press release from Amnesty International on this subject.

UPDATE: 19 January 2021

In the BBC’s World at One on Radio 4 today, programme went someway to rectify the complete failure to mention Palestinians in their earlier broadcasts.  They had a lengthy clip and an interview with Tom Bateman in which this matter was discussed.  Whether this was in response to complaints about their previous bias we cannot know.  Amnesty was mentioned in the clip.  


Serious bias in BBC report on progress with vaccination in Israel

Last week, on the BBC’s radio 4 programme PM which is broadcast between 5pm and 6pm each day, the presenter, Evan Davies interviewed a journalist from the Jerusalem Post about the rapid progress being made in Israel with vaccinating its citizens.  Around 12% had already had their first vaccination and Evan Davies was clearly impressed.

What neither he, nor the journalist, mentioned it was only Jewish citizens who were being vaccinated, not Palestinians in the occupied territories or in Gaza.  Perhaps this news item was put together in haste and slotted into the programme as it was a rare good news story in the current gloom.

However, a detailed report has been produced six days ago by B’Tselem, based in Israel, which analysed in considerable detail the second class status of Palestinians (not just with vaccinations) and their report, called This is Apartheid, concludes that Israel is effectively an Apartheid state.  The BBC cannot claim ignorance.

BBC fails to mention that no Palestinians are being vaccinated in Israel

It is therefore very surprising and extremely troubling that on the BBC’s World at One programme today (18 January 2021), Sarah Montague hosted a 4 and a quarter minute clip – including an interview with the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent, Tom Bateman – again lauding the rapid progress made with Israel’s vaccination programme which has now reached 20%.  The interview was again a fulsome piece about what is happening in Israel but shockingly, neither of them mentioned that no Palestinians are being vaccinated.

Human Rights Watch points out that Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged under the 4th Geneva Convention to ensure that adequate medical supplies are available including for contagious diseases and epidemics.

The reasons for Israel’s actions are complex and they claim they have insufficient vaccines to give and that they have not received any request from the Palestinian authorities.  Given the pace of the vaccination programme, the former seems a weak argument.  Whatever the reasons, there seems no credible reason why the BBC, which is supposed to provide balanced reporting and impartiality, should twice broadcast pieces and interviews and completely fail to mention the lack of vaccination of Palestinians.

See our earlier blog on the B’Tselem.

The Israeli Government has strongly denied the Apartheid claim.

Sources: BBC; Independent, HRW


Supreme Court victory enables pension funds to divest from companies involved in the illegal occupation by Israel

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign won an important victory in the Supreme Court last week when it was ruled that pension funds such as the Local Government Pension Scheme, can divest from companies which are complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine lands.  It is seen as a major victory for the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement which is fiercely opposed by the prime minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative government.

The ruling will also enable divestment from the arms industry which is a major exporter to the region and whose products cause such mayhem in countries like Yemen.  In a previous post we discussed the activities of TripAdvisor and their role in the occupied lands.

Attendees at the Sarum Campaign for Israel Palestine SCIP, will have watched several films of what life is like in Palestine which is almost a prison.  We have seen footage of the hours spent at checkpoints, uprooting of olive groves and of course the enormous wall which carves the country in two.

Sources: CAAT; Middle East Eye

 

 


Asking TripAdvisor to pull out of illegal settlements in Israel

We in the UK are naturally engaged and concerned with the coronavirus pandemic.  The media is understandably full of news about it to the exclusion of much else.  However, as we navigate this strange new reality, we must not forget about the tens of thousands of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation who find themselves at risk of the virus.

For years, Amnesty been working in the region to try to draw public and corporate attention to the human rights violations taking place there.  Last year, 33,000 supporters in the UK – along with 353,000 supporters globally – signed our petition to urge TripAdvisor to pull out of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Settlements have a devastating impact on a wide range of human rights of the Palestinian people.  This includes their rights to an adequate standard of living, housing and crucially in these times, to health. TripAdvisor is contributing to these human rights violations.

Amnesty is asking you to share the petition with your friends and family and help us reach 40,000 UK signatures before we hand them in to TripAdvisor later this month?  In the midst of a pandemic, it is even more vital that we show solidarity with the most vulnerable communities around the world.

The ongoing occupation and oppression means that Palestinians often have little access to medical care. In Gaza, hospitals and clinics have been bombed and essential supplies are virtually non-existent. With a health system on its knees, Palestinians are at an increased risk of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, tourism giants continue to boost the illegal settlements economy which has a hugely negative impact on the health of Palestinians.  Together, we can let TripAdvisor know that now is the time to de-list all accommodation, activities and attractions in the illegal settlements.

YES I WILL SHARE

 


Israel & Palestine

Salisbury group members might be interested in this talk at Sarum College.  It is organised by the Sarum Concern for Israel Palestine who organise many good talks on this troubled region.  It is on 18 November, 7 for 7:30 pm at Sarum College which is in the Close.  Further details from http://www.sarumconcern.org.  It free but with a parting collection.


If you would like to join the local group you would be very welcome.  Keep an eye on this site or on Twitter or Facebook whichever you prefer (salisburyai) and make yourself known at a future meeting.  We have a film at the Arts centre in November.

 


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.


A concert is being organised by Sarum Concern for Israel/Palestine on 27 June at Salisbury Methodist Church.  Tickets are £12 on the door or £10 in advance with students £5.  http://www.thelittleboxoffice.com/palmusic.  Also 01722 349740.

The performers are the Palmusic Ensemble and the aim is to raise money for Palmusic UK scholarships. Three out of four of these four talented young musicians are making a return visit to Salisbury at the end of June when they again will play a mix of Western classical and Palestinian music.

For those who were at Salisbury Methodist Church in February 2018, it was a very memorable evening.  Omar and Tibah are brother and sister
studying viola and cello respectively at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. They are Druze from The Galilee. In the past Omar was conscripted to serve time in the Israeli Army but as an Arab Palestinian refused, serving time in prison.  On this occasion they
are joined by Lourdina – another violinist – who has studied in Bethlehem (her home town), Paris and now at the Royal Birmingham Conservatory.

All three have been awarded scholarships through Palmusic, which is short for The Friends of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, a UK charity, which  supports them financially, so this is a fund-raising evening for them. Iyad who works with them is a Jordanian-Palestinian and already a professional pianist who has recently made a recording of Khachaturian’s piano music.  The concert will include Mahler Piano Quartet in A minor, Mozart Piano Quartet in G minor K.478 and Arabic folk songs.

Further details from http://www.sarumconcern.org or http://www.palmusic.org.uk


The fate of Palestinians and Gaza is in the news a lot recently and there is shortly to be a film shown called From Balfour to Banksy: Division and Vision in Palestine.

This will be shown at Sarum College on 27 September at 7:0 for 7:30.  It is free but there is a retiring collection.  The speaker will be Miranda Pinch.  Further information can be obtained from sarumconcern.org


Silent Voices

We would like to draw your attention to a photographic exhibition to be held in January at the Methodist

Palestinian flags

Palestinian flags

Church in St Edmund’s Church Street Salisbury.  It is of a village in the occupied west bank of Palestine seen through the eyes of children.  It starts on 6 January and runs through until 31st and is open from 10 to 12 o’clock.

Silent Voices