Friday, 30 January 2015

WFPSC letter in New Zealand Herald.

WFPSC members are heard all over the world. This letter from our vice chair John was published in New Zealand Herald:

"As of the 1st of January 2015 New Zealand has taken up a seat in the UN Security Council and it is at a highly significant time as Palestine itself  is at last seeking justice through the UN and its bodies. Already we have supported their recognition to have Observer Status. As a consequence they have had the option to approach the International Criminal Court. And on December 31st they took it. Their case which includes the invasion of Gaza last year will be heard in April. It is important to know that Hamas, one of the two main political parties in Palestine, and which has been governing in Gaza, has agreed to its actions also being examined by the court. Israel has responded by withholding all the taxes they collect at the borders of Israel. And the second move was that Jordan put a motion before the Security Council on December 30th 2014, which stated by the end of 2017 (ie in 3 years) the occupation of Palestine should cease and it be declared a sovereign state. The motion was defeated. It required 9 votes in favour. Only the US and Australia voted against it. On the day before this vote in December, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, telephoned Nigerian Premier Goodluck Jonathan, and Nigeria which was expected to vote in favour of the motion, and thereby ensuring the 9 votes, abstained. The method of voting used in the Security Council means that an abstention equals a “no” vote.
Sadly our [New Zealand] Government has already begun to vacillate on the issue. Murray McCulley in a statement said “had we been on the Council we would have either voted for the motion or abstained”. Perhaps he wanted to convey the impression that the government will support Palestinians. But the reality is that he is trying to have it both ways. Jordan has already indicated it will reintroduce the motion again “when new members are likely to be more sympathetic”. How will John Key respond to a call from Mr Netanyahu? We [New Zealand] have stood up to the US and Australia on nuclear matters, matters of principle. It is another opportunity where the principle of justice is concerned. Would that we again do the right thing."

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A shocking Haaretz report into racism amongst young Israelis

Israeli teenagers: Racist and proud of it

Ethnic hatred has become a basic element in the everyday life of Israeli youth, a forthcoming book finds.

By Or Kashti | Aug. 23, 2014 | 12:20 PM | 15


Members of right-wing organization Lehava protesting the wedding of a Jewish-born woman and a Muslim man in Rishon Letzion, August 17, 2014. Photo by Ofer Vaknin 

Emil Salman

Authors Idan Yaron (right) and Yoram Harpaz. Photo by Emil Salman

By Or Kashti | Aug. 27, 2014 | 5:52 AM | 1
“For me, personally, Arabs are something I can’t look at and can’t stand,” a 10th-grade girl from a high school in the central part of the country says in abominable Hebrew. “I am tremendously racist. I come from a racist home. If I get the chance in the army to shoot one of them, I won’t think twice. I’m ready to kill someone with my hands, and it’s an Arab. In my education I learned that ... their education is to be terrorists, and there is no belief in them. I live in an area of Arabs, and every day I see these Ishmaelites, who pass by the [bus] station and whistle. I wish them death.” 

The student’s comments appear in a chapter devoted to ethnicity and racism among youth from a forthcoming book, “Scenes from School Life” (in Hebrew) by Idan Yaron and Yoram Harpaz. The book is based on anthropological observations made by Dr. Yaron, a sociologist, over the course of three years in a six-year, secular high school in the Israeli heartland – “the most average school we could find,” says Harpaz, a professor of education. 

The book is nothing short of a page-turner, especially now, following the overt displays of racism and hatred of the Other that have been revealed in the country in the past month or so. Maybe “revealed” isn’t the right word, as it suggests surprise at the intensity of the phenomenon. But Yaron’s descriptions of what he saw at the school show that such hatred is a basic everyday element among youth, and a key component of their identity. Yaron portrays the hatred without rose-colored glasses or any attempt to present it as a sign of social “unity.” What he observed is unfiltered hatred. One conclusion that arises from the text is how little the education system is able – or wants – to deal with the racism problem.
Not all educators are indifferent or ineffective. There are, of course, teachers and others in the realm of education who adopt a different approach, who dare to try and take on the system. But they are a minority. The system’s internal logic operates differently.

Much of the chapter on racism revolves around the Bible lessons in a ninth-grade class, whose theme was revenge. “The class starts, and the students’ suggestions of examples of revenge are written on the blackboard,” the teacher told Yaron. A student named Yoav “insists that revenge is an important emotion. He utilizes the material being studied to hammer home his semi-covert message: All the Arabs should be killed. The class goes into an uproar. Five students agree with Yoav and say openly: The Arabs should be killed.” 

One student relates that he heard in the synagogue on Shabbat that “Aravim zeh erev rav” [“Arabs are a rabble,” in a play on words], and also Amalek, and there is a commandment to kill them all,” a reference to the prototypical biblical enemy of the Children of Israel. Another student says he would take revenge on anyone who murdered his family, but would not kill them all. 

“Some of the other students are outraged by this [softer stance],” the teacher reported. “The student then makes it clear that he has no love for Arabs and that he is not a leftist.” 

Another student, Michal, says she is shocked by what she is hearing. She believes that the desire for revenge will only foment a cycle of blood; not all Arabs are bad, she adds, and certainly they don’t all deserve to die. “People who decree the fate of others so easily are not worthy of life,” she says.
Yoav himself claims to have heard Michal say: “Too bad you weren’t killed in a terrorist attack.” 

“The students all start shouting,” the teacher says, according to Yaron. “Some are personally insulted, others are up in arms, and Michal finds herself alone and absorbing all the fire – ‘Arab lover,’ ‘leftist.’ I try to calm things down. The class is too distraught to move on to the biblical story. The bell rings. I let them out and suggest that they be more tolerant of one another.” 

In the corridor during the break, the teacher notices that a crowd has gathered from all the ninth-grade classes. They have formed a human chain and are taunting Michal: “Fie, fie, fie, the Arabs will die.” The teacher: “I contemplated for five seconds whether to respond or keep going down the corridor. Finally I dispersed the gathering and insisted that Michal accompany me to the teachers’ room. She was in a state of shock, reeling under the insult, with tears to come instantly.” 

Six students are suspended for two days. The teacher reports on his conversation with Michal: “She continues to be laconic. This is what always happens, she says. The opinions are racist, and her only regret is speaking out. I just want to hug her and say I’m sorry I put her through this trauma. I envy her courage to say aloud things that I sometimes am incapable of saying.” 

Leftists as ‘Israel-haters’
In his research, Yaron spoke with Michal and Yoav, with other students in the class and with the homeroom teacher and the principal. The multiplicity of versions of the goings-on that emerge suggest a deep conflict and a lack of trust between the educators and the pupils. Each world functions separately, with the adults exercising little if any influence on the youngsters. It’s hard to believe that the suspension, or the punishment inflicted on some of the students – for example, to prepare a presentation for the ninth-grade classes on the subject of racism – changed anyone’s opinion. 

The same goes for the principal’s unequivocal declaration that, “There will be no racist comments in our school.” Even the essay Michal was asked to write on the subject was soon forgotten. “The intention was to launch an educational program, but in the meantime it was postponed,” the homeroom teacher admits. 

A year later, however, the incident itself was still remembered in the school. The same student who told Yaron that she won’t think twice if she gets the opportunity “to shoot one of them” when she serves in the army, also said, “As soon as I heard about the quarrel with that leftist girl [Michal], I was ready to throw a brick at her head and kill her. In my opinion, all the leftists are Israel-haters. I personally find it very painful. Those people have no place in our country – both the Arabs and the leftists.” 

Anyone who imagines this as a local, passing outburst is wrong. As was the case with the girl from the ORT network vocational school who alleged earlier this year that her teacher had expressed “left-wing views” in the classroom – in this case too a student related that he cursed and shouted at a teacher who “justified the Arabs.” The students say that workshops to combat racism, which are run by an outside organization, leave little impression. “Racism is part of our life, no matter how much people say it’s bad,” a student said. 

In the concluding discussion in just one such workshop, the moderator asked the students how they thought racism might eradicated. “Thin out the Arabs,” was the immediate reply. “I want you to leave here with the knowledge that the phenomenon exists, for you to be self-critical, and then maybe you will prevent it,” the moderator said. To which one student shot back, “If we’re not racist, that makes us leftists.” 

The moderator, in a tone of despair: “I’d like it if you took at least something small from this workshop.” A student responds to the challenge: “That everyone should live the way he wants, that if he thinks he’s racist, let him think what he wants, and that’s all.” 

As an adjunct of racism and hatred, ethnic identities – Mizrahi (Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries) and Ashkenazi – are also flourishing. Yoav believes that there is “discrimination between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim. We were severely punished for the incident [with Michal], but if it were the other way around, that wouldn’t have happened.” Yoav later told Yaron that he found the common saying, “What’s this, an [open-air] market?” offensive, because his whole family works in the local produce market. 

“Our business has existed since the state was established,” he said. “I am proud of my father, who is a man of the market. What are they trying to say, that my father isn’t cultured? When people say something about ‘Arabs,’ it’s considered a generalization, but when they say ‘market,’ that’s alright. When people say ‘market,’ they are actually talking about Mizrahim. We need to change the prejudices about the market and about the Mizrahim. People say I am a racist, but it’s just the opposite.” 

“There is no discussion about the topic of racism in the school and there probably will not be,” the principal admits. “We are not prepared for the deep, long-term process that’s necessary. Even though I am constantly aware of the problem, it is far from being dealt with. It stems in the first place from the home, the community and the society, and it’s hard for us to cope with it. You have to remember that another reason it’s hard to deal with the problem is that it also exists among the teachers. Issues such as ‘human dignity’ or ‘humanism’ are in any case considered left-wing, and anyone who addresses them is considered tainted.”

Threat of noise
Prof. Yoram Harpaz is a senior lecturer at Beit Berl Teachers College and the editor of Hed Hahinuch, a major educational journal. Recalling the recent promise of Education Minister Shay Piron that classes in the first two weeks of the coming school year will be devoted to “emotional and social aspects of the summer’s events,” including “manifestations of racism and incitement,” Harpaz observes that schools in their present format “are incapable of dealing with the racist personality and identity.”
He adds: “The schools are not geared for this. They can only impart basic knowledge and skills, hold examinations on them and grade the students. In fact, they have a hard time doing even that. In classes of 40 students, with a strict curriculum and exams that have to be held, it is impossible to engage in values-based education.” 

Yaron, a senior lecturer in sociology at Ashkelon Academic College, emphasizes how important teachers and the principal (and the education system in general) feel it is to stick to the curriculum and the lessons schedule – two islands of quiet amid a risk-laden reality. 

“Doing this makes it possible for the teachers not to enter a dynamic sphere, which obligates openness and is liable to open a Pandora’s box, too,” he notes. “The greatest threat to the teacher is that there will be noise – that someone will complain, that an argument will break out, etc. That danger looms especially large in subjects that interest young people, such as sexuality, ethnicity, violence and racism. Teachers lack the tools to cope with these issues, so they are outsourced, which only emasculates educational personnel even more.” 

The demand for quiet in the schools is not only an instrumental matter, deriving from the difficulty of keeping order in the classroom. There is also an ideological aspect involved. In general, there is a whole series of subjects that are not recommended for discussion in schools, such as the Nakba (or “catastrophe,” the term used by Palestinians to denote the establishment of the State of Israel), human rights and the morality of Israeli army operations. This was one of the reasons for the warnings issued by Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev during the fighting in the Gaza Strip about “extreme and offensive remarks.” 

Harpaz: “In Israel, the most political country there is, political education has not been developed as a discipline in which high-school students are taught how to think critically about political attitudes, or the fact that those attitudes are always dependent on a particular viewpoint and on vested interests.”
What, then, can be done? According to Harpaz, the solution will not be found in discussions between the homeroom teacher and the students. Nor is a condemnation, however late, by the education minister sufficient. A more radical change is needed. 

“Values and outlooks are acquired in a lengthy process of identification with ‘significant others,’ such as teachers,” Harpaz explains. “This means that every aspect of the schools – patterns of teaching, evaluation methods, curricula, the physical structure and the cultural climate – has to change in the direction of becoming far more dialogical and democratic.” 

And he has one more recommendation: not to flee from political and moral dilemmas, or from possible criticism. “Our leaders are so fearful of criticism, but they don’t understand that critical education is what generates close ties and caring. We get angry at those we love.”

Sunday, 25 January 2015

No Safe Place - New Report into the Gaza War

New Report - Israel 'failed to minimize civilian toll in Gaza war'
Israeli conduct during last summer's war in the Gaza Strip increased the number of civilian casualties, an independent report has said, by failing to differentiate between military targets and civilian populations.

New Report - Israel 'failed to minimize civilian toll in Gaza war'

23 January 2015
(Ma'an News) Israeli conduct during last summer's war in the Gaza Strip increased the number of civilian casualties, an independent report has said, by failing to differentiate between military targets and civilian populations.

Despite claims to the contrary, the military did not give sufficient warning for civilians to evacuate residential areas before striking them, according to the report partly commissioned by Physicians for Human Rights' Israeli branch and carried out by eight independent medical experts.

The report also cited potential violations of humanitarian law and indiscriminate strikes that led to the deaths of medical workers, and called for a full inquiry into the 50-day conflict.

The war between Israel and Hamas killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and has caused growing instability in Gaza, where 100,000 people whose homes were destroyed or damaged remain displaced.

Another 73 died on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers,

"Attacks were characterized by heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighborhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations," said the report, which was published Tuesday.

"In numerous cases, double or multiple consecutive strikes on a single location led to multiple civilian casualties and to injuries and deaths among rescuers."

The 237-page report was based on visits during and after the war, using interviews with 68 people wounded during the fighting, autopsies on 370 people killed and the review of dozens of medical files.

The army accused the report as "based on one-sided and incorrect data assumed from biased sources," saying its "credibility should be questioned."

"The IDF (Israel Defense Forces), in accordance to international law, went to extensive and unprecedented lengths in order to minimize civilian collateral damage," a statement said.

"Many of the practices of the IDF have far exceeded its obligations under international law."

The report said Israel's "early warning" procedures -- including phone calls, text messages and dropping preliminary non-explosive missiles on buildings before striking them -- were inconsistent and often did not provide enough time for evacuation.

Only seven percent of interviewees reported receiving early warnings.

Palestinian NGO Al-Mezan has said the ineffective use of preliminary warning strikes could constitute a war crime.

The Palestinians are attempting to sue Israeli officials over alleged war through the International Criminal Court, having formally joined the body earlier this month.

The report added that in Khuzaa, in southern Gaza, the "reported conduct of specific troops in the area is indicative of additional serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."

It recommended a "legal determination of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, whether through local or international justice mechanisms."

Hares Boys 2nd Anniversary Solidarity Action


al aqsa
This year, Sunday 15th March will mark 2 years since 5 teenage boys from the village of Hares, Palestine, were kidnapped from their homes, abused and violently interrogated, and locked in an Israeli prison. All for something they didn’t do.

It began on 14th March 2013, after a car accident resulting in some serious injuries for its passengers was allegedly caused by Palestinian youths throwing stones at the vehicle; except that there is no evidence to suggest that stone-throwing took place at all.

That same night, Israeli army stormed the villages of Hares and Kifl Hares and detained 19 Palestinian youths. Obtaining their “confessions” through interrogation and ill-treatment, some of these youths were eventually released. Five of them, however, are still incarcerated to this day. These are the Hares Boys.
Should the Israeli military courts get their way, the Hares Boys will face long years in prison for a “crime” that carries no evidence of their supposed guilt and which all the boys deny.

To mark the 2 years since the boys’ incarceration, we are calling on campaigners around the world to devise local actions aimed at raising the profile of the case of the Hare Boys and by doing so, put pressure on the Israeli occupation to respect the principles of justice and release these kids from prison.

We invite you to organise leafleting, vigils and protests, boycott actions, petitioning and letter-writing, talks and film screenings.

The on-going fight against Israeli military aggression and occupation is getting stronger with every new atrocity the apartheid state commits; it matters to vocalise opposition to the continuing injustices the Hares Boys – and, by extension, all Palestinian children in Israeli military prisons – face daily, in order to prevent these dangerous precedents from taking place at all.

Join the fight against oppression. Stand on the side of justice.

For more information, see:
Facebook: Free the Hares Boys
Twitter: @HaresBoys

Jews 4 Boycotting Isreali Goods post: Freedom to speak out for Palestine under threat in Britain

Home Secretary Theresa May has seized on bogus statistics alleging that Jews are in fear of their lives in the UK to placate pro-Israel lobbyists with measures which pose a threat to those who speak out for justice for Palestine.  Here we present some of the material available to counter this threat, starting with a letter submitted by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and published in the Guardian newspaper on January 23. Check the link to see the names of those who signed and read other letters on the subject.
We are shocked and alarmed that the home secretary has been swept up in the wave of hysteria deliberately whipped up by the so-called Campaign Against Antisemitism (Theresa May pledges extra police patrols to counter antisemitism threat, 19 January), claiming that a quarter of British Jews were considering leaving for Israel and that 45% believed that Jews had no long-term future in Britain. The CAA’s scaremongering report quotes from its own poll which, according to the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, was methodologically flawed and unreliable. Another poll by Survation, from a representative sample of more than 500 of Britain’s Jewish population, found that 88% of Jews had not considered emigrating.

The home secretary must know that the CAA was set up last summer, not to fight antisemitism but to counter rising criticism of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza. Its first big success was bullying the Tricycle Theatre into withdrawing its objection to Israeli embassy funding of the UK Jewish Film Festival. The CAA and the home secretary conflate anti-Israeli and antisemitic views, convenient cover for her desire to legislate for a snooper’s charter and criminalise opinions she disagrees with.
Accusing critics of Israel and Zionism of antisemitism merely devalues the currency, while claiming the right for Jews to censor what others say about Israel is hardly the way to combat prejudice against them. We do not deny that there are fears abroad among Jews in Britain, ourselves included, but we see far greater racist threats to other minorities in this country, in particular the beleaguered Muslim community.

The Independent also carried letters on the subject, including one in similar vein from J-BIG’s Tony Greenstein.

The dubious surveys painting a grim picture of antisemitism in Britain came under scrutiny on BBC Radio 4’s More or Less programme, which examines ways in which statistics on many subjects can be misused and misinterpreted.

Jonathan Boyd from the Institute of Jewish  Policy Research told the programme that the CAA poll on Jewish experience of antisemitism had not met the key, basic requirements for a proper process.
Even the intensely Zionist Jewish Chronicle – always eager to detect hatred of Jews behind any pro-Palestinian utterance – published a piece debunking the CAA’s report. But it gave the group’s chairman Gideon Falter ample column inches to reply.

This all occurred in the wake of the killings in France of journalists at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket – immediately pounced upon by the Zionist lobby as evidence of mass hatred of Jews.

UK satirists at Private Eye seemed to have the measure of hypocritical world leaders with their front cover:
BIBI in Private Eye

Columnist Allan C. Brownfeld on Mondoweiss highlighted Israel’s determination “to make European Jews feel unsafe in their native countries.”
Brownfield wrote:

Israeli politicians of both right and left have parroted his (Netanyahu’s) message that European Jews know ‘in their hearts that they have only one country.’ The logical corollary is that Jews cannot be loyal to other states they live in, such as France…In this regard, Netanyahu and the far-right share much common ground. He wants a Europe free of Jews..The far-right wants the same…One Israeli commentator noted pointedly that Israeli politicians like Netanyahu ‘were helping to finish the job started by the Nazis and their Vichy collaborators: making France Judenrein.

And Sarah Irving on Electronic Intifada exposed recent British government report attempting to smear the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as “anti-Jewish.”

Monday, 19 January 2015

Comment sent to "Woman's Hour" BBC Radio 4, 16.1.15:

Comment sent to "Woman's Hour" BBC Radio 4, 16.1.15:
Of the 2 speakers about anti-Semitism on your programme 16.1.15, the female one (sorry, forgotten their names) was full of exaggeration in my view.
The most glaringly challengeable statement of hers was that 95% of all hate crime in UK is against Jews. On what did she base this colossal statistic? What about black people, gays, the disabled, Muslims, Asians, women, people on benefits, neighbours?
Her example of her child’s Jewish school having CCTV cameras and her child having to use a pass to get in is largely true now of the majority of schools here. She made it seem as if this were exceptional and therefore an example of how anti-Semitic this country has become. All schools have to have tight security because of a thing called "safeguarding" for which a school can get an "inadequate" and therefore be in special measures from an unannounced Ofsted inspection however “outstanding” anything else is. Ofsted is as scary an issue as racism for all schools, I can tell you.
Until I retired recently, I was a teacher in an East London mixed comprehensive school which was a majority Muslim school. I was asked if I was Jewish by many naturally curious pupils, and I always said I was. I have the very Jewish name "Cohen", my father's parents being orthodox Jews living in Sth London. My friends say I look Jewish too. On only 3 occasions in my 36 years of teaching there did I have anti-Semitism directed at me but I always reported it and something was always done about it. The last occasion was 2 years ago in the form of an insulting shout: “Jew” by a small group who ran off. I used the CCTV cameras to find out who the idiots were. They were Muslim and were suspended for a week after which they each came to sincerely apologise to me. According to the Head teacher, the parents were extremely embarrassed. I was quite happy with this; I knew that, although it was true they got their anti-Semitism from somewhere, these were simply teenagers pushing boundaries who knew what they were doing but without realising the potential seriousness of it.
Kids being kids on a few occasions asked me whether the bald patch on the back of my head was because that's where my skullcap was. My answer usually included something like "it's in the wash along with my turban, my burkha and my monk's habit" , which always got a laugh from all types, before I then explained that I was actually an atheist, proud of it and growing more so the older I got. That often started some really interesting inquiring conversations about religion generally.
Incidentally, in my other life I have been for some years a street campaigner for the Palestinians and have been accused for this by Jews, ironically, of being anti-Semitic on more than one occasion. There has been an attempt over the years by Israel to persuade people that protesting against Israel is always the same thing as anti-Semitism amounting to the "new anti-Semitism", which of course is not true. The two are not to be confused. Not every Jew is a Zionist or Israeli supporter and a significant number of my fellow pro-Palestinian campaigners are indeed Jews who like me feel a great deal of disquiet about Israel.
Also, it's interesting that your speaker says that English Jews are so scared that moving to Israel is now a common topic of conversation all over the country. I don't believe that at all. How does she know?
And it's also interesting because those would-be Jewish emigrants would be making use of the Israeli so-called "Right of Return" for all Jews anywhere in the world to settle in Israel. The fact is that good research has shown that the antecedents of 85% of modern Jews never came from Israel in the first place. They were actually converts from elsewhere. Palestinians, on the other hand, whom the Israelis ethnically cleansed in 1948 and 1967, are not at all allowed their actually deserved right of return to what is really their country 
She mentioned the case of the swastikas on gravestones which is infamous and has happened elsewhere. It also happened in Newham and was greeted by revulsion on all sides according to articles in local papers and radio. A tiny minority of high profile stinking racists from inside or outside one or two areas does not make a majority of the country.

Jim Cohen

Manufactured Fear

With respect to the growth of so called ‘New Anti-Semitism’, I was most confused recently to find a survey in my inbox, full of leading questions directing me to express fear about the growth of anti-Semitism and inviting me to agree that as a result my thoughts had turned to emigration to Israel. This struck me as odd because Israel constantly promotes itself as a country surrounded by enemies, thus putting its Jewish citizens at risk, surely making Israel one of the least safe places for Jews.
Something else bothers me, namely the fact that some of the most extreme violence committed against Jews in this country, namely the expulsion of a young man from his home and the arson attack on a Rabbis car, was committed by Jews against other Jews who appeared on Palestine solidarity platforms during Israel’s latest assault on Gaza. Vigilance against anti- Semitism is important, but manufactured fear by those with a political axe to grind, is in no one’s interests.

Diana Neslen

Saturday, 17 January 2015

From the Guardian 15 January

My Dutch-Moroccan Muslim in-laws are overwhelmed with fear and confusion by the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo outrage. Dare they stay in the cosmopolitan city of Amsterdam where most of them were born and where I - a British Jew - met their oldest brother? Or are they to be driven out by a rising tide of contempt for their beliefs and culture?
  Supporters of Charlie Hebdo's front page cartoon call it an act of defiance in support of freedom of speech. How have we allowed defence of a good principle to degenerate into self-righteous insistence on a right to insult millions of powerless people?

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi        here for Guardian on line 

Member of WFPSC

Saturday, 10 January 2015

January Newsletter



London Events
·         Wednesday 14 January – Families of the Nakba produced by Neil Kirtlan photo book launch at Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS at 7 pm
Building for 2015

The last year saw some of the worst levels of violence in the Occupied Territories since the Second Intifada. Gaza was almost completely destroyed with immense suffering inflicted upon the young civilian population. East Jerusalem and the West Bank also saw major and sustained clashes towards the end of the year. The Israeli government has initiated a raft of new draconian and segregationist measures to deal with the occupied people and some of the largest ever settlement expansion programmes have been announced in recent months making peace seem but a distant dream.

But despite all of this there is a real sense that a breakthrough is imminent. The BDS movement is gaining momentum all the time, including in the US, doing considerable financial harm to companies like Sodastream and G4S. PSC’s lobbying campaigns of MP’s has produced tangible results, with many MP’s commenting in Parliament on the volume of correspondence they are receiving and many staunch supporters of Israel have re-evaluated their positions.. Public attention is focused on the Palestinian cause like never before and now is the time to get involved. If you would like to volunteer to help Waltham Forest PSC in any of our campaigning activities, please do contact us.

With goodwill to all, Waltham Forest PSC wish you and your families a Happy New Year!

World governments continue to show their support for Palestinian rights
The General Assembly of the United Nations has passed a resolution recognising the sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories and accordingly their rights over their natural resources. In an overwhelming show of support the General Assembly voted 165 for, 6 against and 9 abstentions. The countries voting against were Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and the United States. It appears the list of Israel’s allies is growing small (the combined population of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands is around 175,000). As part of the resolution the General Assembly demanded that “Israel cease exploiting, damaging, depleting and endangering” the resources of the Palestinian people. 
Security Council Rejects Palestinian Statehood timetable
The UN Security Council has rejected a resolution demanding an end to the Israeli occupation within 3 years. The Council voted 8 for the resolution, 5 abstentions and only 2 against, falling one vote short of the required number of votes. The United States and Australia voted against the resolution, with the US vowing to use their veto if the required votes had been achieved. In an effort to avoid this and maintain the farce of playing the honest peace broker, the United States applied huge diplomatic pressure on the other members to abstain. It had been expected up until the last moment that Nigeria would vote yes, giving the 9 votes and forcing the US to use the veto.
But with the several of the members who either abstained or voted against having been replaced in the new year a second attempt should be forthcoming shortly, which if successful, the United States will undoubtedly veto.  Though this is disappointing, as recent votes across the world have shown, virtually every national and international forum that has been given an opportunity to debate Palestine has shown overwhelming support for Palestinian statehood sooner rather than later. That is something to be optimistic about.
Britain was amongst those countries to abstain in the latest vote, despite the clear indication by the House of Commons that the nation supports immediate recognition of Palestine. I hope many of you will be writing to the Prime Minister and your MP’s demanding an explanation as to why the wishes of the British people have been so flagrantly ignored.
Israel responds as Abbas signs the Rome Statute
President Abbas signed up to 20 International Conventions, including the Rome Statute giving the ICC the ability to investigate war crimes committed on Palestinian land. Israel, terrified by the prospect of their crimes that have so far been committed with impunity for decades now becoming the jurisdiction of international courts, have responded with hysteria, threats and sanctions.
In the first move of what is likely to be a dangerous escalation in an attempt to discourage Abbas from pursuing accountability for Israeli war crimes, Israel has announced it will illegally withhold $125 million in tax funds that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian government and has asked the US Congress to withhold aid to Palestine if charges are brought before the ICC.
Gaza Doctor named Norway’s Person of the Year
Dr Mads Gilbert has been named Norway’s Person of the Year by the countries’ biggest daily newspaper. Dr Gilbert spent 50 days in Gaza during the most recent conflict and received a lifetime ban by Israel for his comments to the media, including graphic accounts of civilian casualties. Dr Gilbert described Israel’s actions as ‘state terrorism at the highest levels’ and accepted the award on behalf of the ‘long suffering Palestinian people’.

If you are interested in getting involved with Waltham Forest PSC, or have any comments, please contact us on or you can write to WFPSC, Hornbeam, 458 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 9AH.