Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’


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


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.


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


Attached is the current death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.  Grim news on several fronts with Sri Lanka thinking of re-using the penalty.  China leads the world it is believed in the use of the penalty although details are a state secret.

On the issue of China, readers may like to read the website of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders which charts the systematic denial of human rights freedoms by the Chinese government.  Links to many human rights sites can be found at the bottom of this site.

Report – June/July (pdf)

 

 


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

 

#Palestine film

Posted: February 7, 2015 in Film, Gaza, Palestine
Tags: , , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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.


Each year we team up with the Salisbury Arts Centre and host a film which has a human rights element to it.  This year the Oscar nominated film is #Omar which is set in the occupied territories of Palestine.  Omar is a freedom fighter who is used to dodging bullets to cross the separation wall to visit his girl friend, Nadia.  After he is captured after a deadly act of resistance he is tricked to act as an informant. The film is directed by Hany Abu-Assad.

The film will show in the evening of 4 December at the Arts Centre and early booking is advised.