Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Moving scenes in Gaza as the siege buckles

The convoy at the Rafah crossing

Thousands of people are greeting the convoy as it moves slowly through Gaza.

From Viva Palestina website
Along the way, thousands of Palestinians, the other heroes of this beautiful story of resistance, defiance and hope approached every vehicle kissing, touching, hugging the bravest of Britain. They handed their babies, their young children, to the convoy members so that they could be embraced, as if the angels were in town. Drenched in flowers, tears were flowing on both sides.

Further up the road, they could see people coming out of their tents and the ruins of their destroyed homes running towards them, rubbing their eyes in disbelief that the siege has been broken and they were not alone... writes Farid Arada

More Jews on London Gaza demo than at the only pro-Israel one

Lindsey German, national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition writing in Socialist Review. The Zionists are losing the argument... big time
"The charge of anti-Semitism could hardly be more misplaced. At every meeting I have been at, speakers have discussed the role of Jewish people in the solidarity movement and talked about the Holocaust and the role of Zionism. At every occupation Jewish students, academics and speakers have made it clear that they do not agree with what Israel is doing, supposedly in their name.

"By my reckoning there were more Jews on the massive demo in solidarity with Gaza on 10 January than there were on the small pro-Israel demo the following day. This shows how Jewish opinion has shifted compared with ten, let alone 20, years ago. Israel's actions have alienated much support from those who would once have looked to it. At one time Zionist student groupings were influential in universities such as Manchester; last month Manchester went into occupation too, backed by a huge union meeting." full article

Video of George's first speech from the Gaza frontline against zionism

Worcester Twinning Association declines to twin with Gaza City - passes buck to council

Received a statement from the Twinning Association via Kabbie Langford at the City Council's communications office which we have posted in full below.

Unfortunately the twinning association has declined to take up the city council's resolution to twin with Gaza City and has passed the buck back to the council.

The leader of the Labour group and the chief exec are in a meeting now and will be releasing a statement imminently. Don't hold out much hope that they will follow through on the resolution, but you never know...
At its meeting on March 9th, the Executive Committee of the City of
Worcester Twinning Association agreed on the following response to
Worcester City Council:

"As is well known to the world, the City of Worcester Twinning
Association received an invitation from Worcester City Council "to
consider a twinning arrangement with Gaza City".

The Executive Committee appreciates the understandable desire to express sympathy with the sufferings of the people, and especially the children, of Gaza City but does not believe that a twinning arrangement is the most appropriate or practical means of meeting their humanitarian needs.

The Association is a voluntary, self-funded body and has neither the
resources not the competences to embark on the complex arrangements that
would be needed to set up a meaningful relationship with Gaza City even
if it were to be established that the people of Gaza City wished it and
were able to reciprocate in most of the activities required to
constitute an active twinning link.

Without such prospects for the foreseeable future, we consider that this
proposal does not meet the criteria for a genuinely successful twinning
at the present time.

The decision whether or not to proceed with an official twinning must,
of course, rest with the Council but we regret our inability, in this
instance, to take on such a responsibility on its behalf in addition to
those links for which we currently accept full organisational

This, of course, does not prevent the Council from organising and
funding a formal link with Gaza City if both potential partners want to
give effect to the Council's apparent wish for this."

Nevill Swanson.
City of Worcester Twinning Association.

Columbia University divestment movement riles the pro-Israel crowd

Joshua Gleis, a visiting scholar at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, complains about the The Hypocrisy of Columbia’s Israeli Divestment Campaign in an article for the Columbia Spectator, the newspaper of Barack Obama's old college in New York, where a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign has taken off on campus organised by the Columbia Palestine Forum.

Far from denying Israel's abuse of human rights his main argument seems to be that Israel is not the only country that acts in such a manner:
"Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority—these are just a handful of governments that have worse human rights records than Israel"
Well, we can all argue about which country has the worse record, but it's nice to see the zionists referring to the PA as a country - although in its present form it's more like a bantustan of apartheid-era South Africa. Interestingly half of the states he cites are in fact allies of the freedom-loving US Empire.

His other argument conforms to the normal line of oppressors - the Palestinians have brought it all on themselves, by electing Hamas! Well so much for democracy. I would have expected residents of the land of the free to know better.

Gleis's problem with the democratic mandate given to Hamas is that they are a bunch of 'terrorists'. Really? So fighting back,'by any means necessary' to quote the African-American leader, against injustice and oppression is terrorism? I for one have always supported the right of the slave to kill the slave owner. But what a cheek for a supporter of a state that uses massive terror against a civilian population on a daily basis to talk about 'terror'.

This is what Israeli state terrorism looks like
- a Palestinian melted by white phosphorus

He goes on to claim that Israel is the only 'Free' country in the region . He needs to rephrase that if he wants to get to the truth of the matter. It is 'free' for Jewish people not Arabs. And among the Jewish people, some are more free than others - the discrimination against 'non-European' Jews has been long documented, but is conveniently ignored by the writer.

In truth Arab 'citizens' of Israel are the but of institutionalised racism in the so-called 'Jewish State' that increasing numbers of Jews are coming to see as a liability not a haven as originally intended. For a more realistic perspective on Israeli 'democracy' see the case of Rasmiya Saadi and her family reported on this blog: Racist Israeli police beat pregnant Palestinian woman and kids, or the actions of the misnamed Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza highlighted in this story: Israeli 'soldiers' leave faeces and urine in the Gazan homes they didn't destroy.

He concludes with the observation that "Israel - like the United States - is not perfect by any means, but let’s keep things in perspective; it is fighting an adversary that is astute and cunning and that will stop at nothing to see its goals reached". Quite rightly the Palestinians will stop at nothing to get their land back and will not be defeated. The only extent to which the US and Israel are alike I suppose is the fact that you could argue both states are built on stolen land - the difference, however, is that there are very few Native Americans left to fightback to regain their land - they were exterminated. Thankfully this is not the case in historic Palestine.

Again I make no apologies for referring pro-Israeli people who still find it difficult to break from their zionist ideology, to Dan Mayer's article: Socialism or Zionism: a tale of two grandads.

Zionism is a dead end, get over it. One secular state for all religions and people in Palestine is the only way to peace and justice.

It's simple Joshua - no justice, no peace.

Heroes welcome for Viva Palestina in Gaza

Another case of better late than never - this time from the Times
George Galloway was given a triumphant welcome today as he led an aid convoy into the impoverished Gaza Strip after a month-long journey across Europe and North Africa to the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Having been made to wait for a day at the southern Rafah border crossing by Egyptian authorities, the staunchly pro-Palestinian Respect MP for Bethnal Green was finally allowed into the blockaded territory, where he was handed flowers and kissed by Palestinian well-wishers.

Mr Galloway and his companions fell to their knees and bowed to the ground as they walked in.

“I have entered Palestine many times but the most emotional of these is after the 22-day genocidal aggression against the Palestinian people,” he said, referring to Israel’s offensive to end Palestinian rocket fire and smash Hamas.

Zionists accuse pro-Palestinian Sweden of rampant anti-semitism

The sporting boycott of Israel has taken a great leap forward with events in Sweden over the weekend. The Stop the Match campaign was able to force the authorities to hold the match without any spectators and on the day of the match 12,000 demonstrators almost succeeded in shutting down the event altogether.

So it's not surprising therefore that the Jerusalem Post this morning is in uproar at this attack 'on Jews', publishing an article entitled Sweden's anti-Israel apartheid policy is about more than sport. Yes - you've got it, the pro-Palestinian events were another manifestation of antisemitism from the Europeans. Indeed, Sweden is now being painted in Israel as a country drenched in anti-semitism, and Malmo in particular being held in thrall to its sizable Muslim community.

What is the evidence offered for this charge against Sweden, a country I have visited often and have found to be one of the most tolerant of minorities in Europe.

Anti-Israeli (not anti-Jewish) grafitti near the Israeli Embassy; a poll, with no reference, claiming that nearly a third of young people doubt whether the holocaust took place; the refusal of Sweden to allow in an Israeli tae kwondo team; anti-Israeli statements from left, and some right-wing, politicians; comparisons of Gaza with the Warsaw ghetto (which I think are way off the mark but hardly anti-semitic) and an allegedly anti-semitic radio station called Radio Islam that apparently spouts this brand of racism over the air but has somehow avoided being ensnared by Sweden's tough anti-racist laws.

Now I'm sure there are anti-semites in Sweden as there are in the rest of Europe; there are even some in Israel - remember the Jewish Nazis skinheads who were allowed to emigrate to Israel and are now in prison for going on a racist rampage (I must admit I found it difficult to get my head around that one). But this old and tired tactic of labeling anti-zionism as anti-semitism is getting seriously tiresome, and I would respectfully suggest that from the zionists' point of view it is counter-productive.

Instead of writing off a whole country as a bunch of anti-semites why not try answering some of the charges against the apartheid Israeli state?

Certainly, as Rabbi Abraham Cooper points out at the top of his article, Sweden's supposed neutrality during World War Two was a sham. They allowed German troop movements through their country and exported critically important ball-bearings to the German war industry. But do the actions of the state and big business mean that all the people of the country are complicit? Does the writer not know that the Bush family made their money by supplying goods to Nazi Germany or that General Motors was a key exporter of vehicles to the Wehrmacht. Does that make the US an anti-semitic country.

The zionists need to become a little bit more sophisticated or they risk pissing off their dwindling circle of friends in places like Sweden. But to be honest trying to defend the indefensible is always going to be a loser.

A secular state in historic Palestine for Jews and Arabs is the only solution to the conflict. Zionism is a dead end for Jewish people, as increasing numbers are realising, and a hell for Palestinians.

By way of a bit of background read Dan Mayer's excellent article on zionism:
Socialism or Zionsim: a tale of two grandads

UK condones torture, facilitates US rendition

The United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, has accused the UK of condoning torture. Is anyone going to be brought to justice in the British government for these crimes?

Richard Norton-Taylor writes in the Guardian:
Britain has been condemned in a highly critical United Nations report for breaching basic human rights and "trying to conceal illegal acts" in the fight against terrorism.

The report is sharply critical of British co-operation in the transfer of detainees to places where they are likely to be tortured as part of the US rendition programme.

The report accuses British intelligence officers of interviewing detainees held incommunicado in Pakistan in "so-called safe houses where they were being tortured".

It adds that Britain, with a number of countries, has sent interrogators to Guantánamo Bay in a further example of what it says "can be reasonably understood as implicitly condoning" torture and ill-treatment, adding that the US was able to create its system for moving terror suspects around foreign jails only with the support of its allies.
On Tuesday 10 March the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights will discuss whether or not to hear Craig Murray's evidence on the UK government's policy of using intelligence from torture. The government is lobbying hard for my exclusion. Send an email to jchr@parliament.ukThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it to urge that I should be allowed to give evidence. Just a one-liner would be fine. If you are able to add some comment on the import of my evidence, or indicate that you have heard me speak or read my work, that may help. Please copy your email to: craigjmurray@tiscali.co.uk.