Friday, 6 March 2009

Viva Palestina in Egypt, due in Gaza on Sunday

The Viva Palestina convoy is due to cross into Gaza on Sunday, Farid Arada reports:
A smooth crossing into Egypt

The convoy was over 3 miles long and contained about 220 vehicles. So it was an awesome sight when finally, at about 1.00pm local time, the first vehicles rolled into Egypt, where they were met at the borders by officials and a jubilant crowd.

Saturday: 07-03-09
10am Short press conference
2pm Rest at EAST AL SALAM BRIDGE- Dinner
4pm Set off for EL ARICH
7pm Dinner and overnight stay

Sunday: 08-03-09
10am Public Rally at EL ARICH
11am head for RAFAH CROSSING
12 noon deliver aid to GAZA.

more on the Viva Palestina website

Internet4Activists conference details

Timetable and speakers for the Internet for Activists conference being held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) next Saturday, 14 March.

No advance registration required - just turn up.

Also, if you have any ideas for workshops etc send an email to the organisers at:

Barack Obama's Columbia University widens US divestment campaign

The newly formed Columbia Palestine Forum at Colombia University in New York, of which US President Barack Obama is a graduate, has been taking the battle to the zionists.

Pro-Palestinian students started a divestment campaign at the prestigious university in the wake of the success at Hampshire College which became the first US college to divest from Israeli-owned companies in protest at the policies of the apartheid state and the successful sit-in at the University of Rochester. Action at New York University also took up the issue of Gaza, among many others. The launch of the campaign is part of the international Israel Apartheid Week.

Labeling Israel with the apartheid tag is certainly getting to the zionists, describing it as 'something that crosses the line', and they are clearly worried that this characterisation of their beloved state will start to stick - and as we all know South African apartheid was eventually overthrown.

From the Columbia Spectator
Columbia Palestine Forum group members maintained that Israel is an apartheid state, referring to recent actions in the conflict between Gaza and Israel.

“One need only to look at Israel’s brutal attack last month and the ongoing economic siege of Gaza, which is literally starving people,” said Matt Swagler, a first year GSAS student and member of the International Socialist Organization. “And even though Palestinians and other Arabs inside Israel have the same legal rights on paper, in practice they face intense amounts of racism and discrimination in employment, housing and daily life.” more

On Wednesday CPF organised a teach-in with "University faculty members, two speakers from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, and a Barnard student representing the CPF. Supporters and critics of the Forum sounded off in a question-and -answer follow-up that mostly took the form of commentary on the recent and historic Gaza conflicts." more

Qatar Airways still working on response over Sky News advertising

Here's the latest from Qatar Airways's PR people in London on the controversy surrounding their advertising on the pro-Israeli Sky News that refuses to show the Disasters Emergency Committee humanitarian appeal for Gaza. See the original story on Gaza Solidarity here:

Hi Gary,

Sorry I missed you call. As discussed, I have forwarded your email to Qatar Airways head office in Doha, and advised that you are still seeking a response to your query.



Hopefully we'll get something next week. The following letter was emailed to the editor of the english-language Gulf Times in Qatar to see if they can speed things up a bit.

For the attention of the editor, Gulf Times:

Dear editor,

I am a journalist based in London writing a story on the relationship between Qatar Airways and Sky News. Last week the airline brought into service a new plane which it named “Gaza” as an act of solidarity with the people of Gaza. At the same time Qatar Airways is sponsoring the weather segment on Sky News here in the UK. Sky News, along with the BBC, were the only major TV channels in the UK that did not broadcast the recent Disasters Emergency Committee Humanitarian Appeal for Gaza.

As you can see from the correspondence below I have still not had a reply from Mr Al Baker the CEO of Qatar Airways on this subject and whether he thinks it is appropriate that Qatar’s national airline should be giving money to a station that refuses to show this basic humanitarian appeal, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the Israeli actions in Gaza.

Is the Gulf Times able to extract any comment from the airline on the matter? I’m sure your readers would be interested in this, and more widely through your local Arabic press. Thanking you in advance for any information you are able to glean on this controversy.

Egypt still selling gas to Israel while Gazans under siege

(pictured: gas pipe between Egypt and Israel - Egyptian workers will have to take action to shut it down)

Egypt says it sells gas to Israel just like it would "to any other country". But of course Israel isn't just any other country. It is a state built on stolen Arab land.

Egypt has been selling the gas at a discount to world market prices, adding salt to the wounds of a population increasing estranged from its corrupt and pro-zionist rulers that constantly plead, as if it is some kind of excuse, that the gas sales are in 'accordance with our peace agreement'.

Israel and Egypt have signed a new pricing agreement, the details of which were not revealed to parliament.

more details at ynetnews

Truth seekers on the road to Gaza

Some comrades of ours are on 'The Road to Gaza' Not sure if they've reached yet. Last post on twitter ( was on 4 March from Al-Arish 50km from Rafah in the Sinai peninsular.

Patrick and Stewart are independent journalists from London. Stewart works for Stop the War Coalition and Patrick works at Socialist Review magazine. We went previously to Palestine in 2004, to the West Bank, to make our film 'Students Under Occupation'.

We want to bypass the corporate media by bringing the truth about the seige of Gaza to the people of Britain and the world.

Please support us in solidarity with the Palestinian people.


Below: Interview with Egyptian socialist, Hossam El-Hamalawy, on the recent wave of strikes across the country and their umbilical link to the resistance in Palestine. Filmed at the Centre for Socialist Studies, Giza.

Shut down the G20 - stop arming Israel


Wednesday 1 AprilAssemble 2:00pm

US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, W1A 1AE

The anti-war movement will be marching from the US embassy on Wednesday 1 April, the day Barack Obama and the other world leaders arrive in London for the G20 Summit.

The march will be in support of Gaza and against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and for the abolition of nuclear weapons. It will assemble at 2 pm at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London.

Our message will be: YES WE CAN end the siege of Gaza and free Palestine, get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, abolish all nukes, create jobs not bombs and stop arming Israel.

We are calling for the biggest possible mobilisation for this national demonstration. We are asking all local Stop the War groups to book transport for the day.

We will also be protesting at the G20 summit at the Excel Centre in East London on Thursday 2 April at 11 am

For flyers, posters and other publicity phone the Stop the War Coalition office on 0207278 6694 or e-mail at

More at the Stop the War Coalition

Israeli 'soldiers' leave faeces and urine in the Gazan homes they didn't destroy

Amnesty International has complained about Israel's 'wanton destruction' of homes in Gaza. Amnesty says thousands of buildings were destroyed during the war. And Haaretz reports on the vile nature of some of that destruction and vandalism under the headline: Pots of urine, feces in the refrigerator - how IDF troops vandalized Gaza homes. This tells you all you need to know about the much-vaunted 'professionalism' of the Israeli Occupation Forces.

As a consequence of the massacres carried out by Israel in its war on Gaza, Mauritania, ruled by a military junta that came to power in a coup in August last year, said it was cutting its ties with the apartheid state and withdrew its ambassador from Israel in January.

Today the government made good on the promise and demanded the Israeli ambassador leave the country within 48 hours. A witness told Reuters that he saw diplomats leaving the embassy today.

That leaves only two Arab states with diplomatic relations with Israel - Egypt and Jordan. Shame on them.

Melbourne Uni students protest for Gaza and against vice chancellor Gilbert

The Vice Chancellor Professor Alan Gilbert’s former university which he brought to near ruins by privatizing the university’s assets effectively creating a two-tier system, have been in constant correspondence with us throughout the occupation providing support and solidarity. Today they sent pictures of students outside the self-named Alan Gilbert building with a banner which they have sent showing support for all the occupations across the United Kingdom.

From Manchester University occupation blog

The occupation continues at Manchester despite threats to forcibly evict the students.

Secret meeting with Israel set to enrage Turks

Israeli and Turkish foreign ministers held a secret meeting - which turned out to be not so secret - on the sidelines of the recent NATO summit.

The Turkish state has been in a deep alliance with the Israeli state for some time, encompassing both economic and military interests.

Erdogan's recent spat with Peres at the Davos conference, and more importantly, his government's criticism of Israel's war on Gaza can now be seen more as a response to the groundswell of anger at home than as a principled position against the zionist state. The Turkish military has worked with Israel for many years and its opposition to Erdogan's Islamist-leaning government is well known. It signed a military co-operation agreement with Israel in December 2008. Ron Margulies in Istanbul wrote astutely in Socialist Worker (UK) recently that:
In Turkey the political fallout of Israel’s attack on Gaza can been measured in terms of the government’s change in tone. But despite the tough words, the country’s ruling AK Party has yet to make any concrete moves to cut its ties with Israel. more
The meeting is sure to enrage public opinion in Turkey where anti-Israeli sentiment has been growing. A recent opinion poll in Turkey found that 68% of the population support the Hamas resistance movement in Gaza, a party many of Turkey's western NATO partners regard as a terrorist organisation. According to a joint press release they "agreed that cooperation and political consultations would continue on all levels".

Palestinian health services collapsing - The Lancet

The Lancet, journal of the British Medical Association, has published a report on what passes for health services in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem: The occupied Palestinian territory: peace, justice and health. The report was written in conjunction with Palestinian public health scientists, the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies.

Among its findings the report says health services are at best 'fragmented and incoherent' and that 10% of children in the territories have stunted growth.

Dr Hanan Abdul Rahim said: "There are gaps in care. There's a low level of post-natal care and often it's not given in a timely manner.

"Mortality rates among infants and under-fives haven't declined much. This is unusual when compared with other Arab countries that used to have similar rates but have managed to bring them down.

"The trend for stunting among children is increasing, and the concern is about the long-term effects. It is caused by chronic malnutrition, and affects cognitive development and physical health.

"There are pockets in northern Gaza where the level of stunted growth reaches 30%.

You can hear the editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton, discussing the work here
You will need to register with The Lancet first.

The report has two over-arching themes:

1 Horton describes the situation in the territories as 'very unusual for several reasons'. The West Bank is under occupation and the siege of Gaza 'feels like you are walking into a prison'. The occupation and siege 'informs the entire health system'.

2. The health system is divided and fragmented: The Ministry of Health is 'very dysfunctional, rife with cronyism and doesn't serve the people well. Then there are Non-governmental organisation providing care, a very small private sector and lastly UNRWA, creating an impossible situation for providing a coherent and effective service.

Horton makes it clear that despite the corruption and fragmentation it is the 'oppressive occupation [that] makes it very hard to organise healthcare'.

Lancet editor Richard Horton first visited the occupied territories in January 2007 and the report is the result of two years' work and in particular thanks the medical professionals and acadmeics of Birzeit University's Institute of Community and Public Health near Ramallah.

Israeli propaganda spokesman Mark Ragev describes the report as 'propaganda'.