Posts Tagged ‘Israel’


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

Apartheid, Israel style

Posted: January 16, 2021 in "Human rights", Israel
Tags: , ,

Report from the Israel Information Centre accuses Israel of being an Apartheid state

Older readers will remember the news bulletins from South Africa during the Apartheid era.  Pictures of white police officer beating black people, townships being bulldozed and signs on buildings and entrances saying ‘Nie Blankes’ the quaint ‘European Ladies only’ and ‘Caution, beware natives’.  These and other signs divided the country into a variety of areas into which people of colour could not travel unrestricted.  There were many other laws which severely restricted the lives of non-white South Africans.

Years of struggle finally ended the regime in the years 1990 – 1994.  The campaigns involved civil disobedience, boycotts and international pressure.

The system of separation, restrictions of movement and second class status applies in many similar ways in Israel and their treatment of Palestinians.  This is set out in some detail in a report by B’Tselem the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.  Entitled: A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid – published this month (January 2021).  It sets out in considerable detail the methods by which Israel has created a divided state with one law for Jewish people and another law for Palestinians.  These include not allowing Palestinians to move between different parts of Israel if their status would improve as a result; non-Jews have no rights to settle in the country; Palestinians not being allowed to live in certain areas for reasons of ‘cultural incompatibility’; not being allowed to demonstrate, and a whole range of laws which effectively confirms their second class status.  There are many more listed in the report.

Gaza of course is an egregious example which is almost a prison.  Movement in or our is tightly restricted and there is no port or airport.  The wall cuts a swathe through Palestinian territory.

The similarities to Apartheid are many.  Whereas it was based on race and colour in South Africa, in Israel it is based on nationality and ethnicity.  The report concludes:

As painful as it may be to look reality in the eye, it is more painful to live under a boot. The harsh reality described [in this report] may deteriorate further if new practices are introduced – with or without accompanying legislation. Nevertheless, people created this regime and people can make it worse – or work to replace it. That hope is the driving force behind this position paper. How can people fight injustice if it is unnamed? Apartheid is the organizing principle, yet recognizing this does not mean giving up. On the contrary: it is a call for change.

A future of peaceful coexistence seems unachievable while Israel maintains and continues to expand a two state country, with one group of citizens with all the freedoms of a modern state and another group denied most of these rights.


Airbnb continues to list properties illegal settlements

Last year Airbnb shamefully reversed its decision to remove listings in Israeli settlements from their online platform, exposing the hollowness of their claims to be a company that values human rights.  They continue to promote these listings, despite knowing that these settlements are illegal under international law, and a war crime.

Settlements are at the root of a wide range of human rights violations against Palestinian communities. Airbnb are acting in direct contradiction with international law and their own corporate standards.

Earlier this year, the United Nations released a report on companies with specific links to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank which included Airbnb.  Naming the businesses which profit in the context of this illegal situation sends a clear message that Israel’s settlement enterprise must never be normalized.

Now Airbnb has started the process of becoming a publicly listed company on the US stock exchange and hopes to raise billions of dollars to grow and expand its tourism operations around the world.

Amnesty International has extensively documented the ways in which digital tourism companies like Airbnb contribute to human rights violations against Palestinians and we continue to call for Airbnb and others to stop all activity in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Web sites

Posted: November 29, 2020 in Human rights,, Israel
Tags: , , ,

At the bottom of this site, you will find links to many websites involved in human rights activities, either in specific countries or globally. Just added are three sites involved in Palestine and Israel: Yesh Din; Breaking the Silence and Physicians for Human Rights Israel.


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