Posts Tagged ‘Israel’


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

Advertisements

Amnesty International South-West Regional Conference in Exeter 11 May 2019

These are some notes of the recent regional conference made by Salisbury group member Fiona. They are not an official record.

The keynote speaker was Emel Kurma, a Human Rights defender from Turkey, currently hosted by the University of York’s Protective Fellowship Scheme. She outlined for us how a Citizens’ Assembly works. Inspired by the Helsinki Final Act, these are low-profile bodies (no smart headquarters or logos) that aim to stimulate social and political discussion towards a peaceful and inclusive society, valuing democratic and environmental principles. The best response to a state’s limitation of individual freedom is to strengthen civil society at all levels, allowing ethical thinking to penetrate even closed structures. For example a liberal academic offered an opportunity to go to a conference abroad might instead hand it to a member of a state institution in order to broaden that individual’s understanding of human rights as practised beyond their country’s borders.

Emel Kurma is a brave individual and her stoical acceptance of probable interrogation and possible imprisonment on her return to Turkey is both shocking and inspiring.

Israel Palestine 

Two other reports (also by women) focused on Palestine and Eastern Europe respectively.
Penny Wilcox has for several years worked with the intriguingly-titled Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and the Occupied Territories.  Again in an unobtrusive fashion, they accompany vulnerable Palestinians at checkpoints (adults going to work, children to school, traders etc.) and, simply by acting as protective witnesses, aim to reduce the levels of conflict or anxiety so often experienced by this oppressed population.  This approach is also practised by various Israeli humanitarian groups who wish to offer support to trapped and threatened Palestinian communities.  Even simply to witness and record the bulldozing of ‘illegal” Palestinian structures (cow byres, olive trees) is an act of silent protest and solidarity.  One of the many ironies of this absurd and tragic occupation is that when sometimes belligerent Israeli settlers have gone into Palestinian villages to cause trouble, the Israeli army itself has been called in to defend the Palestinians residents.

The third report came from Central Europe co-ordinator Ulricke Schmidt, who traced worrying trends in the rise of racism and anti-Semitism in Hungary and, to a lesser degree, in Poland.

Hungary

In Hungary the usual targets are the Roma, but the influx of refugees has now made them the focus of anger.  This in spite of the warm reception originally given to those fleeing war, who were perceived as ‘passing through’ Hungary and in manageable numbers.  However attitudes have hardened and Ulriche quoted an acquaintance who got 6 months imprisonment for giving a lift to a refugee while NGOs risk being criminalised for helping them.  Additionally, resentment against global capitalism has contributed to a revival of anti-Semitism.  Huge posters crudely stereo-type George Soros as ‘an enemy of the people’ with his ‘army of leftist terrorists’.

Ulricke defines some of the underlying causes of xenophobia as relating to globalisation – seen as benefiting the few – and to a drift to the cities which has left a frustrated and impoverished rural population to grasp at the promises of the Right to restore Hungary’s romanticised past (sounds familiar, does it not?).

Poland 

Poland reflects some of these trends, but fortunately to a lesser degree. Some liberal teachers have been disciplined and protesters have had their personal data published.  But Poland has had a more recent history of resistance to authoritarian rule.  When an outright ban was placed on abortion thousands of women marched in protest to overturn it.  When a recent Independence Day march was joined by racist demonstrators, fourteen brave women entered the throng and unfurled a Stop Fascism banner.  They were beaten by some marchers, and subsequently charged and fined by the courts for ‘disrupting a lawful demonstration.’  But a recently published video has now prompted an Appeal Court investigation into the attack..

The European Union has triggered Article 7 against Hungary for imperilling European values and has also expressed concern that the judiciary in Poland is being politicised.  On a more positive note, 26 EU countries have recently seen powerful demonstrations against fascism, racism and anti-Semitism.

Death penalty

The Death Penalty workshop confirmed that our group is very well informed on relevant data thanks to the regular updates from group member Lesley. The new network now has two and a half thousand members.  An interesting recent survey estimated that it was actually more expensive to execute a prisoner than to simply keep them in prison.  The campaign is currently now focusing on Singapore and Iran, the latter for its practice of deferring punishment until a sentenced juvenile is old enough to receive the death penalty.  On a positive note – more and more countries are abolishing the death penalty – 106 in total by the end of 2018.

Many thanks to the regional representative Chris Ramsay for organising this meeting.


Here is the latest death penalty report compiled by group member Lesley – thanks for your efforts on this.  There is no data on China – believed to execute more of its citizens than the rest of the world together – as it is a state secret.

October/November report (Word)

Tree of Life. Pic: Salisbury Amnesty


Attached is the death penalty report for the mid December – January period prepared by group member Lesley.  Some good news especially in Texas – a state with a high use of this punishment – but elsewhere in the world, a depressing number of countries in the list.

Death penalty report (Word)


Title of a display of photos in the Methodist Church, Salisbury

This is a moving display of photos in the Salisbury Methodist Church taken by Bedouin women in the ‘unrecognized villages’ of the Negev-Naqab region of Israel which lies to the east of Gaza.  The project documents the brutal way the villagers are treated by the Israeli authorities.  Their villages are demolished and crops destroyed to make way for new settlements and they suffer discrimination and police brutality.

The tactics are familiar and included cutting water supplies sometimes for days at a time.  They are denied basic services such as paved roads, electricity and medical help.

The exhibition runs until February 3rd and is between 10:00 and noon daily.  Coffee is available.  For more details see The Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality

If you live in Salisbury, please make time to visit this exhibition.

 

#Gaza letter

Posted: August 17, 2014 in Gaza, USA
Tags: , , ,

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