Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Bradford's Viva Palestina convoy contingent sends greetings from Morocco

Here is an account of the Bradford crew’s experience………… “The feeling is immense peace, love, respect and humbleness. The people here are true brothers welcoming us with food, love and hospitality. When the convoy got off the ferry from Spain to Tangier the whole convoy group joined together in one big Jummat. We managed to get hold of Gerorge Galloway and record his declaration of gratitude to the Bradford crew. Will be uploaded soon as possible! Everyone is fine and enjoying the experience. It’s beautiful reading namaz in the open air, with millions of stars in the sky or with a blazing hot sun and cool breeze. We are heading to Rabbat. Keep us in your duahs!”

Viva Palestina convoy to get big welcome in Morocco

[15:40 GMT 18 Feb - Just driven @ 40mph through the streets of Tangier. Crowds of people lined the route cheering, giving victory signs, waving. Amazing! - see twitter feed below]

From the Daily Star Lebanon
In Morocco, anger at Arab collusion against Gaza

...The post-Gaza political battle already resembles that of other past conflicts where squabbling Arab leaders were left seeking self-preservation and longing to score political propaganda points against each other. As is often the case, Arab unity is held hostage to a game of regional rivalries where the so-called forces of moderation, backed by the United States and now Israel, try to roll back those of radicalism...

By Anouar Boukhars, an assistant professor of political science and director of the Center for Defense and Security Policy at Wilberforce University. This commentary first appeared at, an online newsletter that publishes views on Middle Eastern and Islamic issues. more

Students fighting for justice for Palestinians is not anti-semitism

Wes Streeting National Union of Students President said:
"I also remain alarmed by reports of antisemitism on too many of our campuses. While criticism of Israel is perfectly acceptable and many of the protesters have campaigned peacefully, there can be no justification for the kinds of incidents that have been recorded on our campuses and in our communities. It is the responsibility of us all to not only face this reality, but to challenge this kind of racism head on."
Gaza Solidarity broke the news on 9 February - see the full statement from Streeting here

A response from the President of Essex University Students Union, Dominic Kavakeb, to the national president, Wes Streeting's slurs linking student Gaza occupations to anti-semitism

Posted at SOAS Students in Solidarity with Gaza
Wes Streeting has disgracefully played the race card to criticise the wave of student activism. In response, Dominic Kavakeb (Essex university) has written the following response:

We would like to express our severe disappointment at the NUS President for his comments regarding the wave of student occupations that has taken place over the past month.

Thousands of students have been involved in these protests and the very breadth of the occupations serves to prove the wide support for these actions. Over 30 university campuses have seen some form of student action.

Any minor disruption caused by these occupations has to be offset against their success in highlighting the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the destruction of the Islamic University of Gaza.

The allegation that the occupations have fuelled anti-semitism on our campuses is as disgraceful as it is untrue. Thousands of students, many Jewish, have been involved in action to help rebuild the Gazan education system and support the right to education for Palestinians.

The NUS was founded, in 1922, upon the values of peace and international solidarity after the slaughter of the First World War. Surely, the President of the national Union of Students should welcome wholeheartedly the return of student activism and international solidarity amongst students.

When Israel carries out massacres as 'the Jewish state' it is unfortunately not too surprising if some people take that at face value and make the erroneous assumption that all Jewish people do in fact believe Israel acts in their name. Thankfully this is not the case. For many years those who uncritically support everything Israel does have tried to label the pro-Palestinian movement with this brush of anti-semitism.

But it is the zionist supporters of Israel that are doing a massive disservice to the fight against anti-semitism by attacking the wrong target in such a dangerous way. The student action is to be applauded, not just in the act of showing and delivering practical solidarity, but also in the inclusiveness and camaraderie among those involved from all backgrounds.

No-one should belittle the very real rise there has indeed been in anti-semitism in Europe and it is Israel, resting as it does on the necessity of oppressing the Palestinians - given that the land was stolen from them and they still want it back, that gives room for anti-semites to spread lies and racial hatred - 'look how evil the Jews are in Gaza, and this financial crisis...'.

Melanie Phillips, and those such as Wes Streeting who find it easier to go along with her Muslim-baiting than to stand up for oppressed people, are playing with fire when we are faced with a fight to stop a party of the Nazi tradition, the British National Party, winning seats in the forthcoming European Parliamentary elections.

Europe gives cash but what about reparations from Israel?

The European Union announced today that it has granted Euro41m to the UN Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports AP. In a just world the so-called international community whould be getting Israel to pay all reconstruction costs.

From AFP
The European Union will grant the UN agency for Palestinian refugees 41 million euros (over 51 million dollars) to meet humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip, a joint statement said on Wednesday.

Jordan cracks down on solidarity with Gaza

The relationship between Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood and the government was seriously tested during the war on Gaza.

Although anti-Israel protests sponsored by the group were tolerated, restrictions were re-imposed on some of the Brotherhood's activities.

It's a sign that that the Jordanian government walks a fine line when it comes to Palestinian issues

Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh reports from Jordan.

From Al Jazeera

Arrested Blackburn Viva Palestina drivers to rejoin convoy in Tunisia

[15:40 GMT 18 Feb - Just driven @ 40mph through the streets of Tangier. Crowds of people lined the route cheering, giving victory signs, waving. Amazing! - see twitter feed below]

The police have agreed to meet the cost of getting the delayed vehicles and drivers to Tunis - it's the least they could do. Still nothing on the three men in custody. Due to be released tomorrow. The report below says seven men who were arrested and released when all other reports spoke of nine arrested altogether and three still being held which makes six free so not sure where the Asian Times acquired the other released person from - unless the initial reports were wrong.

From Asian News
SEVEN men who were arrested after they set off with a convoy from Blackburn to deliver aid to Gaza are back on their way to join the rest of the group.

The Viva Palestina Aid convoy to Gaza had originally set off on Friday but they were arrested along with three other men from Greater Manchester on the M65 motorway as they drove to join a national convoy in London.

But the men who have been released without charge have carried on to join the rest of their team.

The Viva Palestina Aid convoy from Blackburn are taking three vans full of donations of clothing, medical equipment, nappies and children’s toys. The men have fundraised to pay for their vans, travelling costs and all donations and intend to leave the vans in Gaza as further donations.

Hailed as heroes for the efforts to join the convoy, the men met with Chris Chilvers, the north west organiser of the Viva Palestina aid convoy, before setting off for Dover at noon today.

Dr Chilvers said: "They are very angry about their treatment at the hands of the police and concerned that, despite being released without charge, the police are still refusing to return donations from the vans, personal belongings and mobile phones. The police have offered no satisfactory reason for these violations.

DIME bombs were used on Gaza civilians by Israel

Evidence is mounting that Israel used 'new' weapons such as Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME) in Gaza

The DIME bomb causes major injuries to the lower part of the body. Eyewitnesses say Israel fired the weapons from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). On impact with the ground the bomb creates an intense explosion with a massive pressure wave across a relatively small area.

It also produces a vapour made up of tiny particles of tungsten alloy. Injuries treated by Norwegian surgeon Erik Fosse were characterised by severe injuries to the lower body, as in the case of the 18-year-old amputee, Mona, in the video below. She had a leg injury that looked as if it had been sliced off with a knife.

Also as a result of breathing in the tungsten vapour victims suffer from extensive internal bleeding and organ failure. And unfortunately the legacy of the use of these bombs is unlikely to end there. Studies in the US on mice show they quickly develop muscular cancers after ingesting the tungsten alloy vapour.

The Israeli attack at Christmas meant that Fosse was one of the few foreign surgeons in the strip during the three weeks of massacres. He believes its timing was not by accident on the Israeli's part - it was deliberately planned that way so that there would be as few foreign nationals as possible to bear witness to the Israeli military's barbarity as possible. Of course Palestinian doctors and medics have been reporting the unusual injuries from these and other weapons for some time, but the Israelis presumably calculated 'who gives a damn what Palestinians think'.

Medical Aid for Palestinians says there are at least 500 people who are now amputees as a result of Israel's war against the people of Gaza.

A day at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza January 6 2009

From The Times
‘We’re wading in death, blood and amputees. Pass it on – shout it out’

“We are wading in death, blood, and amputees. Many children. A pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything so terrible. Now we hear tanks. Pass it on, send it around, shout it out. Anything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We are living in a history book now, all of us.” It was signed Mads Gilbert, one of two Norwegian doctors toiling relentlessly alongside exhausted Palestinian medics. more