Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Our Chair's Report from Palestine

Hi guys,

I am here in the village of Deir Istiya (about 30 minutes drive south-ish of Nablus) with the International Women´s Peace Service (IWPS) see our website http://iwps.info/ where we publish our reports.
    As you know the situation here is very bad and getting worse. People, mainly young men and children are being assassinated in the streets of towns and villages on an assumption that they are a threat to the Israeli settlers, or for protesting against the increasing oppression and violence both by the armed illegal settlers and the occupation army.
     For example near the village I am there is Huwwara village (just before Nablus) which is surrounded by some of the most fanatical settlements, such as Ytzhar, Bracha etc there are frequent clashes between the village youth throwing stones at the heavily armed Israeli soldiers and the settlers who do not hesitate to use their deadly wares. 
     There are many more examples like this, such as in Al Khalik/Hebron where settlers surpass in violence the other settlers and even the Israeli army and police or in Beit El, near Ofer prison, in the village of Kufr Qaddoum, where we are going to go shortly for a Friday protest. In all those places protesters are being shot at, wounded and some killed by live ammunition or steel coated rubber bullets fired (against Israeli army rules) at peoples heads and chests rather than at the lower parts of their bodies. 
     Thousands of people have been wounded, some very seriously and 46 were killed only in first 3 weeks of October. I dread to think what the death and injury toll is going to be today, as Friday is a main day form protests here.
     We go a lot with local farmers who pick olives near the illegal settlement. They experience attacks, but there are too many of them who need internationals and too few of us. 
     For example, we went with an elderly farmer whose land is near the illegal Revava settlement (about 1 km from our village) and a settler verbally abused the farmer and then threatened to kill him and the IWPS volunteers. See out report on IWPS website on this here http://iwps.info/2015/10/a-struggle-to-harvest/ This farmer had to park his car about 300 metres away from his olive trees on a big busy settler road (he is not allowed to use the road which is on his land, which would take him into his olive grove)  and when crossing a very busy settler road, we experienced threats by a settler diving by.
     You might have heard about Ytzhar settlers accompanied by the army, attacking a week ago Burin farmers and wounding 5 of them including an international from UK. They then burned a large olive field with the army standing and watching and prevented the Palestinian Fire Brigade to get in and stop the destruction.
     These stories are repeated in many other villages, time and again. We are told that those harvesting with permits from the army (e.g. inside what illegal settlers consider to be a settlement security zone) have been given very brief periods of time to harvest and that they need extra hands to finish the job even if there are no threats of violence. On 26th and 27th we are going to be picking with the villages of Urif inside Ytzhar settlement wire and the whole village was only given 2 days to finish the job while they need much more time than that.
     The most depressing thing that we do is we go to the houses which are threatened with demolition, because their owners are accused of attacks against the settlers or the army. We go there at night in case the army comes on that particular night with their horrible bulldozers.
     There are 4 such houses in Nablus and tonight we are likely to go to one of them. I cannot describe how it feels like to just be there and unable to do anything to stop it - with whole families waiting night after night for all they have to be covered in rubble and buried. Not to mention that those whose houses are under demolition orders have not even gone through the Israeli courts where their ´guilt´ has been established - and, even it was, collective punishment is totally unacceptable and illegal.

Regards to all from Palestine,

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC) Leyton stall

We had a well visited stall on Saturday the 23rd in Leyton, before the downpour of rain drove us to the nearby café, where we had free coffees and cakes, courtesy to the café owner and staff and their support for Palestinians’ human rights. 
The highlight of the day was a chat with a Palestinian from Nablus visiting his family in Waltham Forest. An amazing man who left with quite a bit of our merchandise including a Palestine team football shirt. for his son.  

 WFPSC Palestine information and produce stalls take place between 11am-2pm on:

       2nd Saturday of the month in the Walthamstow Square

 4th Saturday in Leyton, near TKMaxx. 

The next stall dates are on 13 June in Walthamstow and on 27 June in Leyton.

Our monthly Sainsbury’s actions take place between 11am-2pm outside the Sainsbury’s Branch in the Walthamstow Market on the 1st Saturday of each month. 

The next one will be on 6 June.

Please feel free to join us and to share this information!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Electronic Intifada writes: Softball interviews with Israeli ministers breach impartiality code, BBC admits


Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defense minister, has told a series of lies on British radio. (Munich Security Conference/Wikimedia Commons)
A BBC investigation has found that one of its senior presenters, Sarah Montague, breached the organization’s editorial standards on impartiality in a radio interview she conducted with Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon in March.
The investigation was carried out following allegations of pro-Israel bias against Montague’s interview by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and a number of concerned individuals who complained to the BBC.
The ruling against Montague is the second time in recent months that the BBC has upheld a complaint initiated by the PSC.
In the first ruling, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) agreed with complainants that an online BBC article about Gaza’s tunnels had breached the organization’s accuracy guidelines by presenting its pro-Israel author, Eado Hecht,  as an “independent” defense analyst.
The two ECU rulings highlight just how often the BBC provides an unchallenged platform to Israel’s spokespeople.
Montague’s interview with Yaalon on the current affairs radio program Today was shocking in that a supposedly impartial journalist remained completely silent as the defense minister told lie after lie on air, including the outrageous claim that “the Palestinians enjoy already political independence … And we are happy with it.”
In his first response to complainants, George Mann, assistant editor of Today, wrote via email: “I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Sarah Montague’s interview with Moshe Yaalon … Having listened back [to the interview], I feel she challenged him well.”
There were, however, no challenges from Montague to Yaalon’s propaganda, so Mann’s statement was deluded at best, an act of complicity in defending the bias at worst.
After being challenged again, Mann continued to defend his presenter and so complaints were made to the ECU, which, in the BBC’s complaints system, is one stage away from the BBC Trust.
Last week, all complainants received an email message from Fraser Steel, the BBC’s head of editorial complaints, on behalf of the ECU.
Steel, announcing that he would be upholding the complaint, wrote: “Mr. Yaalon was allowed to make several controversial statements … without any meaningful challenge, and the program-makers have accepted that the interviewer ought to have interrupted him and questioned him on his assertions.”
Steel then tries to excuse Montague’s appalling silence as Israel’s defense minister took over the BBC airwaves by claiming that Montague was badly briefed by researchers and didn’t have much time to make the recording.
He concludes: “The result was that the output fell below the BBC’s standards of impartiality.”

Damage is done

So, will Montague and other presenters on Today — billed by the BBC as its flagship news and current affairs program — be giving free rein to Israeli spokespeople again?
Steel writes: “The program-makers recognize that more recording time and greater attention to background detail would have ensured that the interview was managed appropriately and the editor has asked the production team to factor this in to future interviews.”
But, of course, the damage caused by the Yaalon interview has already been done.
Once again, the BBC allowed an Israeli spokesperson to completely airbrush the occupation.
The ECU’s ruling will eventually be published online, but only an apology on the Todayprogram, where the interview was aired, could go some way towards mitigating its noxious effects.
In the other positive ECU ruling published this year, Steel upheld complaints against the BBC website’s description of Eado Hecht — a lecturer in the pay of the Israeli army — as an “independent defense analyst.”
Hecht authored an article on BBC Online in July last year headlined “Gaza: How Hamas tunnel network grew.”
The article itself is classic Israeli propaganda, devoted to describing tunnels “booby-trapped with explosives” and repeating the lie that Israel withdrew from Gaza.
It was written and uploaded by the BBC two weeks into Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza and is an attempt to justify the destruction inflicted on Gaza’s people. The tunnels, Hecht writes, are “almost impossible to detect” and so the Israelis are compelled to “go in and search for them house by house.”
And, because merely “blowing in the entrance or some of the airshafts leave most of the tunnel intact … the entire length of the tunnel and its branches must be located, mapped and then completely destroyed.”
Seven hundred Palestinians had already been killed in Gaza in 15 days when this article — which completely ignores the Palestinian perspective — was put onto the BBC’s website. By the end of the slaughter towards the end of August, more than 2,200 Palestinians lay dead and whole areas of Gaza were reduced to rubble.
It’s repellent enough that the BBC commissioned and printed an article attempting to justify this destruction, but even more so that its virulently pro-Israel author was presented as a neutral commentator.

Israeli privileges

Once again, the BBC initially rejected complaints that presenting Hecht as independent was inaccurate and therefore misleading to BBC audiences.
Complainants were forced to bring their arguments to the ECU, where Steel agreed that Hecht’s connections with the Israeli military — he lectured at the army’s Command and General Staff College — rendered him a partisan observer of the situation.
In a letter to complainants, Steel added that ”articles published under Dr. Hecht’s name reveal a clear pro-Israel perspective and offer guidance and analysis as to how Israel might better prosecute its dispute [sic] with the Palestinians.”
BBC Online’s description of Hecht was judged by the ECU to have breached the following editorial guideline on accuracy. “We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors, and provide their credentials, so that our audiences can judge their status,” the guidelines state.
Publishing the ruling online in February, the BBC writes: “The editor of BBC News Online has reminded staff that it is important to give sufficiently detailed information to enable readers to calibrate a contributor’s affiliations.”
Which is all well and good, but why are BBC editors commissioning such biased articlesin the first place? And, if they must, why don’t they clearly mark them as opinion pieces?
This is meant to be a news organization without an agenda, but Hecht’s propaganda piece (minus the word “independent” in his biographical note) remains on the BBC website, alongside other similar articles written by pro-Israel commentators whenever Israel is conducting a full-blown assault on Gaza.
There are no comparable articles commissioned by the BBC from Palestinian or pro-Palestinian commentators, in which they are given carte blanche to set out their stall.
This is a privilege afforded by the BBC only to Israel’s spokespeople and, until now, those spokespeople have taken full advantage of this freedom across the BBC’s output, whether broadcast or online.
It is to be hoped that these two ECU rulings will go some way to pushing back those privileges and introducing something that more resembles professional journalism in the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s occupation.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Important dates for your diary

Sainsbury’s: End your support for Israeli War crimes
  • June 27th: Day of action at Sainsbury’s stores
  • June 2th - July 3rd: social media protests
  • Wednesday July 8th: Sainsbury’s AGM: ‘End your support for war crimes’

This July Sainsbury’s will hold its AGM and will once again boast about its values, its ethical trading policies and its practice of sourcing with integrity.
We are calling for actions in the two weeks leading up to Sainsbury’s AGM on 8th July. At the AGM itself we will tell Sainsbury’s Board and its shareholders what we think of their values. These are our messages, in solidarity with thousands of Palestinian farming communities:

The reality is that Sainsbury’s claim to be a company concerned with ethics has been exposed as a complete sham. Sainsbury’s came next to bottom in a recent survey completed by the respected magazine, ‘Ethical Consumer’ and the last two years have seen Sainsbury’s board treating the concerns of thousands of consumers with thinly veiled contempt. It has ignored thousands of letters, hundreds of protests at its stores, letters from MPs, MEPs, SMPs, religious leaders and academics, and a petition with over 8,000 signatures handed in at the 2014 AGM by a member of the House of Lords.

At the 2013 and 2014 AGMs, questions from shareholders have not received the courtesy of a proper answer or any sort of follow up. Sainsbury’s has even refused a direct request for a meeting from an MEP.

Sainsbury’s has positioned itself alongside the list of companies whose complicity directly and indirectly supports the commission of war crimes by Israel. Sainsbury’s has repeatedly refused to discuss the fact that they trade with Mehadrin, an Israeli export company which profits from the wholesale theft of land from Palestinian farms, the decimation of Palestinian farming communities and the expropriation of water for profit.

Sainsbury’s clearly has no interest in hearing what Palestinians have to tell them about the destruction of their farms and the loss of their land. Sainsbury’s has also ignored reports by Human Rights Watch, Corporate Watch and Kav LaOved which have documented the abuses of Palestinian workers who work in the settlements out of necessity.

Let us send Sainsbury’s a clear message this year and make sure that local shoppers, store managers, the shareholders and the Board of Sainsbury’s all hear about the role Sainsbury’s plays in supporting Israeli companies complicit in war crimes.




Friday June 29th – Friday July 3rd:
  • Social media actions targeting Sainsbury’s: Phone in; Twitter storm; Facebook campaign, Thunderclap
Saturday June 27th:
  • Day of action at Sainsbury’s stores: Sainsbury’s end your support for Israel’s War Crimes
Suggested actions: (In all cases, try to take photos/recordings)
  1. Trolley sweep, collecting Israeli produce in trolleys and then leaving the trolleys in some corner of the store away from their original location. Put leaflets on top.
  1. Message drop: take the small messages (attached) into Sainsbury’s and place them here and there among the goods (not necessarily fresh produce).
  1. Make a deputation to the Manager. Go in as a group and refuse to leave till you have spoken to the Manager. Have a letter to hand over.
  1. Singing sit-down in store. There are some songs specifically about Sainsbury’s and there’s something disarming about people singing. Bring a banner, as big as possible.
  1. Write to the local press about your action. Try to have a photo to send with your report.
Wednesday 8th July:
  • Protest at Sainsbury’s AGM: ‘Sainsbury’s End your support for Israel’s war crimes. If you are interested in attending the AGM as an activist shareholder we have a number of shares available. We aim to have a highly visible presence at the AGM.

We will ensure that the voices of Palestinians are heard - loud and clear - at Sainsbury’s AGM.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Diana Neslen's speech at the anti-EDL rally in Walthamstow on Saturday 9 May'15

Diana Neslen represented WF PSC at the anti-fascist rally on Saturday May 9, where local residents massively outnumbered English Defence League thugs marching through our streets protected by columns of police. 

Read her inspiring speech here:

79 years ago Oswald Moseley leader of the British Union of Fascists and admirer of Hitler chose to march his foot soldiers through Cable Street, an impoverished Jewish area. He hoped to divide the communities and encourage the working class dockers of the area to attack their Jewish neighbours. In spite of warnings against mobilising by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish communities together with their Irish compatriots stood firm against Moseley’s legions who were protected by the Police. Some things don’t change. The Fascists did not pass then and will not pass again.

Many years have passed and much has changed in society, but Fascism and Racism remain constant and the objectives of the EDL differ in no way from that of Moseley’s thugs. We note how the thugs of the EDL want to show their dominance by violently controlling the streets of areas where vulnerable minorities live in the hope that they will sow division. Just like Moseley did. We say that racism is a toxic brew that divides people and the way to fight it is to recognise that there is no hierarchy in racism. Once we begin to make one racism more heinous than another, we are sowing exactly the same division that Moseley tried to sow between the Irish and the Jews. So when the EDL tell us that they support Jews because they stand outside Israeli embassies with the Israeli flags every time Israel attacks Gaza, we say this is not a sign of support for Jews but a sign of support for Israel’s heinous wars of choice, wars which themselves expose the racism at the heart of Israel’s ideology. Israel’s racism against indigenous Palestinians who are treated at best as second class citizens and more usually as targets of merciless oppression, is notorious throughout the world. Israel’s racism extends to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, as well as to Ethiopian Jews. This proud bigotry acts as a magnet to racist organisations like the EDL. They are unaware of the strong Jewish political position that says that Jews are best protected not by standing aloof from common struggles but by making common cause with all those who suffer from hatred, oppression and discrimination. This has been a Jewish tradition throughout the ages. 

Today we all stand together undaunted to show those with violence at their heart and division at their root, that we are not divided and in the immortal words spoken so long ago. They shall not pass.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Leyton & Wanstead candidates' views on Palestine


This is a summary report of the position on Palestine of the General Election candidates’ from the Leyton and Wanstead parliamentary constituency of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

 It was produced by the Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC), which is a non-political organisation and does NOT endorse or support any of the candidates.

The summary is designed to provide information for voters who wish to know what the candidates’ positions are on Palestinian human rights before deciding where to cast their vote.

Leyton and Wanstead Constituency

Two hustings for the Leyton and Wanstead Constituency were attended by members of Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC):
1.      Wanstead Library on 25th April.
2.      St John’s Church on 29th April.

Below is a summary of the candidate’s positions on questions raised on Palestine from the audience.
Responses by candidates to the PSC questionnaire can be seen at http://www.palestinecampaign.org/candidatespalestine/ (Conservative, Labour and Green candidates have responded).

John Cryer (Labour Party)

Mr Cryer stated that he is in favour of a two-state solution and against boycott and sanctions against Israel, though he would support a ban on selling arms to Israel. He believes that through a ban on selling arms, it would send a clear message to the USA, who in turn could bring pressure to bear upon Israel to come to the negotiating table.
When asked after the second hustings if he believed that Israel were guilty of breaches under the Geneva Convention, he responded that he did not know.
Mr Cryer stated that previous Israeli governments had been progressive and cited the example of the ‘exceptional’ Ben-Gurion (First Prime Minister of Israel, during the period of ‘The Nakba’). Mr Cryer also made an additional point that criticism of Israel can often be anti-Semitic and he opposes such criticisms.

Matthew Scott (Conservative Party)

Mr Scott attended the Wanstead Library hustings, but was unable to attend the hustings at St John’s Church. He stated that he supports a two-state solution, but opposes any boycott or sanctions. Mr Scott stated that it was a difficult issue and we needed to work with our allies to bring all sides together.

Carl Quilliam (Liberal Democrats)

Mr Quilliam stated that he supports a two-state solution, but opposes any boycott or sanctions. However, in conversation after the first hustings, Mr Quilliam seemed open to the idea of a ban of goods made in illegal settlements but felt a more general boycott would be complicated.
When questioned on the arms trade with Israel, Mr Quilliam stated that Israel was currently on a government watch list when considering whether to allow the sale of arms. He stated that he would adopt a policy that with any such country on the watch list, there should be a presumption that we should not allow the sale of arms.

Rosamund Beattie (United Kingdom Independence Party)

Ms Beattie stated that she supported a two-state solution, but opposed boycott or sanctions. She agreed with the Conservative candidate that we should work with our allies to bring all sides together.

Ashley Gunstock (Green Party)

Mr Gunstock stated that in line with the national Green Party, he is in favour of boycott and sanctions to force Israel to make concessions. He believes that the wall in the West Bank should be taken down and he opposes any arms sales to Israel.

Mahtab Aziz (Independent)

Mr Aziz was not present at either of the hustings, though I am unsure whether he was invited or whether he is still standing.

If you are interested in getting involved with Waltham Forest PSC, please contact us on wfpsc@yahoo.com

Facebook:  Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Twitter: @WFPSCLondon

Summary report: Walthamstow candidates' position on Palestine


This is a summary report of the position on Palestine of the General Election candidates’ from the Walthamstow parliamentary constituency of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
 It was produced by the Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC), which is a non-political organisation and does NOT endorse or support any of the candidates.
The summary is designed to provide information for voters who wish to know what the candidates’ positions are on Palestinian human rights before deciding where to cast their vote.

Walthamstow Constituency

Responses by candidates to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) online questionnaire can be seen at http://www.palestinecampaign.org/candidatespalestine/
Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent candidate Ellie Merton have responded.
Questionnaires were not sent to the Workers Revolutionary Party or TUSC candidates.

Three hustings for the Walthamstow Constituency were attended by members of WFPSC:
1.      Walthamstow School for Girls (Waltham Forest Trades Council) on 22nd April.
2.      Grove Road Hall (Waltham Forest Council of Mosques) on 24th April
3.      Wood Street Library (Waltham Forest Women’s Network) on 25th April.
A video of the 22nd April hustings is available here http://occupylondon.org.uk/walthamstow-ge2015-hustings/

Below is a summary of the Walthamstow candidates’ positions on questions raised on Palestine from the audience.

Stella Creasy (Labour Party)

Ms Creasy made the following points at the 22nd April hustings:
-        That it must be remembered that 50 per cent of people did not vote for Mr Netanyahu and that it was frustrating.
-        That she believes that there was more that we could do, primarily through the European Union.
-        That she listens to the Palestinian people and Mahmoud Abbas on sanctions and believes that sanctions would hurt the Palestinians.
-        That she supports a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian state and she drew attention to the fact that she had voted for Palestinian recognition in October 2014.

In the 24th April  hustings, Ms Creasy agreed that the settlements were illegal but did not support sanctions on the same basis as above (Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to them). When questioned further on the call for sanctions by the Palestinian Civil Society organisations, she reiterated she felt sanctions would be damaging for the Palestinian people and that she was opposed to them. Ms Creasy did not agree in response to a question whether Israel was acting like a terrorist state and went on to say that Hamas, citing its charter, was a terrorist organisation.

At the hustings on 25th April, Ms Creasy said that she voted for the recognition of Palestine in October last year. She spoke about the suffering of Palestinian refugees, including the most recent ones from Syria, but did not refer to the role of Israel in their dispossessions. She stated that she supported a two-state solution and said that the responsibility was not with the UK but with the UN and EU to make sure a solution was found.

Molly Samuel-Leport (Conservative Party)

Ms Samuel-Leport did not attend the first hustings on 22nd.

At the second hustings, Ms Samuel-Leport stated that she was against sanctions and did not consider Israel to be a terrorist state. She made no further comments to questions raised from the audience and did not appear very knowledgeable on the issues involved. In conversation after the hustings, she agreed that it was an important issue and something that she would investigate further.

Though not related to the Palestinian human rights, her response of ‘Kashmir is not our business’ to a question raised on what action the British Government should take over Kashmir drew heavy criticism from the audience and seems indicative of her views regarding these difficult long standing conflicts abroad.

In the third hustings on 25th April, Ms Samuel-Leport stated that she now had a better understanding of the Palestinian peoples suffering and that she ‘feels’ for them, but that the issue was very complex and she did not know what the solution should be.

Steven Cheung (Liberal Democrats)

On 22nd Mr Cheung stated that he did not understand why sanctions had not been imposed on Israel before, he stated that if sanctions were imposed on Russia, then why not Israel? It is important to note, that this position seems to differ to the response that he provided to the PSC questionnaire. Mr Cheung also stated that as the USA is such a strong ally of Israel, it cannot be just left to them and that Britain should provide a platform for negotiations to take place.

In the second hustings Mr Cheung once again outlined his position on supporting sanctions against Israel, though stopped short of agreeing that Israel is acting like a terrorist state. He spoke passionately about his belief in not just human rights for Palestinians, but human rights issues around the world in general.

At the third hustings, Ms Anne Crook (candidate for Chingford & Woodford Green) was in attendance rather than Mr Cheung. She stated that her party supports a two-state solution, but gave no indication as to what measures she would support (or oppose).

Paul Hillman (United Kingdom Independence Party)

Mr Hillman stated that UKIP’s position is to support a two-state solution. He stated that he is against any sanctions against Israel. Mr Hillman went on to add that he believed it was a complex issue and the only option was for people to keep on ‘trying, trying and trying’.

Mr Hillman was not present at the second hustings and Mr Freddy Vaccha the UKIP candidate for Chingford & Woodford Green gave a short one minute long speech at the start of the hustings and was not invited to participate further.

Mr Hillman was not present at the third hustings and was replaced by Mr Freddy Vaccha  who gave a good summary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people and their current suffering. He however, went on to say that nothing could be done about it. In conversation after the hustings, he did agree that seeing as he regarded it as an injustice, it was not really satisfactory to simply say we should not do anything to stop it from occurring.

Michael Gold (Green Party)

Mr Gold is in favour of sanctions against Israel. Mr Gold drew comparisons with South Africa and stated he is favour of a one-state solution though it is not ideal, he believes that we are not making any progress to a two-state solution.

In the second hustings, Mr Gold re-iterated his support for sanctions against Israel and his belief that British Imperialism had played a large role in causing the conflict. He stated that Israel was a terrorist state and once again stated his support for a one-state solution. He drew comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa and talked about the time that he had spent in South Africa.

Mr Gold at the third hustings strongly condemned Israel’s actions and re-iterated his support for sanctions and an arms embargo.
Nancy Taaffe (Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition)

At the first hustings Ms Taaffe stated that she supported the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. She said that she believed in Israeli and Palestinian workers joining together to overthrow the ‘vicious Israeli state’. She stated that not all Israeli workers supported the state and it would be possible to win these workers over to get rid of the Netanyahu government.

Her position on sanctions against Israel were unclear, she stated that she would support sanctions by the unified working classes in solidarity, but did not want to push progressive Israeli’s away into the ‘arms of Netanyahu’.

Though Ms Taaffe was present at the second hustings, her contribution was limited to providing a one minute opening speech and was not invited to participate further.

Ms Taaffe at the third hustings stated that the occupation must come to an end and she said  that she  support of an arms embargo against Israel.

Jonty Leff (Workers Revolutionary Party)

At the first hustings Mr Leff began by stating that he had in fact visited Palestine on two occasions. He described how Israel was created by a British mandate and Imperialism. He stated that the Palestinian people are aware of the British peoples support and protests for Palestine, that they do not need our sympathy but our action. He believes that Zionism would not be able to last without British and American support. Mr Leff went on to state that he was in favour of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. 

Though Mr Leff was present at the second hustings, his contribution was limited to providing a one minute opening speech and was not invited to participate further. Mr Leff was not present at the third hustings, though it is not clear whether he was invited.

Ellie Merton (Independent)

At the first hustings Ms Merton stated that she agreed with the position of Mr Leff, Workers Revolutionary Party (above). Ms Merton stated that she was in favour of sanctions and if elected it would be her second highest priority to ensure that ‘Israel was brought to book’ and account for the crimes they have committed for generations. She said that sanctions would draw focus on the fact that Israel is an apartheid state. Ms Merton also encouraged people to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Though Ms Merton was present at the second hustings, her contribution was limited to providing a one minute opening speech and was not invited to participate further.

In the third hustings Ms Merton spoke at length about her visits to Gaza and Bethlehem. She re-iterated her support for sanctions and the BDS movement in general.

If you are interested in getting involved with Waltham Forest PSC, please contact us on wfpsc@yahoo.com

Facebook:  Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Twitter: @WFPSC

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

For you information see the latest blog from the Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods


Exposed – Israel lobby’s threat to artistic and academic freedom

Posted on  7 April 2015  by 
Letters in today’s Guardian (April 6) highlight the growing threat to artistic and academic freedom by pro-Israel lobbyists seeking to criminalise criticism of the Zionist state.
Playwright Caryl Churchill, a leading signatory of the UK Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, noted the alarming conjunction of a threat to funding of arts institutions that decline Israeli state links and cancellation of an academic conference planned for April 17-19 at the University of Southampton after Zionist pressure.
The organisers have launched a legal challenge to the decision to cancel. See lower down this post for a message from Southampton Students for Palestine explaining the campaign to raise funds to support the challenge.
“All Charlie Hebdo?” wrote Churchill, alluding to the collective outpouring of official outrage at the murder of cartoonists in France in January. “Except when freedom of expression means freedom to criticise Israel.”
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid’s comments on Israeli sponsorship ‘breached the principle of an arms-length relationship between the government and the arts’, writes playwright Caryl Churchill. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Another letter, from Professors Hilary and Steven Rose, prominent proponents of the academic boycott, said the university had “shamefully capitulated to pressure from the pro-Israel lobby”, as evidenced by the statement issued by the university authorities.
The university had initially listened to the hundreds of academics who rallied in support of the conference despite a barrage of attacks from a roll-call of Tories and Israel lobbyists, among them Communities Minister Eric Pickles, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Zionist Federation.  Pickles & Co alleged that the conference was a one-sided antisemitic rant against Israel’s “right to exist” and threatened demonstrations and disruption if it went ahead. This seems to have been what forced vice-chancellor Prof Don Nutbeam to announce the cancellation on unconvincing “health and safety” grounds.
A letter the Guardian declined to publish,  submitted by Tony Greenstein on behalf of J-BIG (full text at the bottom of this post) contrasted this cowardice with the fate of Danish film director, Finn Noergaard, killed at a cafe in Copenhagen in February while defending the right to debate freedom of speech.
The organisers of the three-day Southampton conference, titled International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism, had assembled an array of expert participants from around Europe, North America and the Middle East, including many Jews.   If the conference programme lacked representation from Israel’s friends, it is because invitations issued by the organisers to defenders of Zionism were rejected by the recipients.
As explained by Prof Haim Bresheeth on the website of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP),  Israel and its apologists are resorting to all possible means to prevent the issues addressed by the conference being aired.
One of the conference organisers,  engineering professor Suleiman Sharkh, a Palestinian from Gaza, explained its importance.
“International law was responsible for our misery. It was used to legalize the theft of our homes and it continues to be used to legalize the ongoing oppression of my people by the State of Israel. The questions asked by the conference are therefore questions that I have been asking all my life. They are important questions that need to be answered.”

Information from Southampton Students for Palestine.
Subject:  Conference donations: update & important information
Q1: What is the final university decision in relation to the conference? 
The university’s initial decision to withdraw its consent was appealed by the organisers but the internal appeal was rejected by the Vice Chancellor and the withdrawal of consent was confirmed. University’s public statement:http://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/statements.page#.VRxbTkFmtTw.twitter
Q2: Are you collecting donations now or shall we wait further notice?
Donations are being collected now. Please see information on donations below.
Q3: Does this mean that you are proceeding with legal action?
Yes. Legal action has been initiated today. Please see official organisers’ statement attached hereby. Also see: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/17842-academics-pursue-judicial-review-over-cancelled-israel-conference
Q4: Why are we making donations to Student Palestine Solidarity/Students for Palestine? 
You are  not making donations to these organisations. They are only carriers of the funds to help facilitate payment since we are not using any personal accounts to collect donations.
* Information on donations*
Many thanks to those who have already sent their donations and sent me a confirmation email in that regard, I can confirm that they have been received.
If you are yet to donate, please find bank/paypal details below.  Kindly consider a bank transfer as a first option (if possible) since paypal are deducting a fee on each incoming transaction. If a bank transfer is not possible then please feel free to make your donation via paypal. 
UK bank transfer:
Account name: Students for Palestine Southampton
Account number: 26617360
Sort Code: 30-90-34
International bank transfer:
Bank: LLoyds Bank
IBAN (for International Transfers Only): GB84 LOYD 3090 3426 6173 60
BIC (for International Transfers Only): LOYDGB21148
The decision of Southampton University to cancel a Conference on Israel and the State of Israel [University event questioning Israel’s right to exist is cancelled, Guardian 31st March] is a disgraceful surrender to powerful bullies.  Zionist groups have a long track record of trying to ban anything they disagree with, given their inability to defend the indefensible.  The normal response is to stand up to them.
It was less than three months ago that four million people and world leaders marched in France in support of freedom of speech, in the wake of the murder of the journalists of Charlie Hebdo.  Amongst them was David Cameron.  If Cameron was sincere he would sack Eric Pickles MP from his government for having lent his support to the call to ban an academic conference.
The use of health and safety as the pretext to cancel the conference is absurd and illogical.  Is it really being suggested that Southampton University was incapable of protecting those attending the conference?  The Police were quite confident they could deal with any threats.
Southampton’s charter includes a commitment to secure academic freedom. With this decision it has been shown to be worthless.
It was barely a month ago that Danish film director, Finn Noergaard, was killed [while defending the right to] debate [on] freedom of speech.  The actions of Southampton University’s Vice Chancellor Don Nutbeam and the university administration in failing to uphold the basic norms of a democratic society are an act of abject cowardice.  If they have any integrity left they should collectively resign.
Yours faithfully
Professor Haim Bresheeth
Mike Cushman
Deborah Fink
Tony Greenstein
Professor (Emeritus) Moshe Machover
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
(Dr) Les Levidow