Thursday, 30 April 2009

Israel refuses to release detainee despite doctor's orders

NABLUS, (PIC)-- Israeli military court in Ofer jail has refused to release Palestinian detainee Nassim Al-Kharraz, from Nablus, despite a recommendation by the jail's doctor that he should be released in view of his critical condition.

Fares Abu Hassan, lawyer of the Tadamun institution for human rights, said on Tuesday that Kharraz was suffering serious disease, yet the Israeli military court said that he should be held under administrative detention for six months.

Abu Hassan held the Israeli prisons authority fully responsible for the life of the detainee, demanding his immediate release in view of his grave condition.

Kharraz has been held in Ofer for more than a month. He is married and has four children in addition to being the sole bread winner of his parents.

UK's BMI airline wipes Israel off the map

BMI joins the Gaza solidarity struggle. Oops, it was a 'logistical' mishap the airline tells us.

But, more seriously, it does provide another example of the growing isolation of Israel and the widening possibilities for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
British airline BMI has deleted Israel from electronic maps that appear on its flights in order to avoid angering Muslim passengers, Army Radio reported on Thursday.

Additional efforts on to appeal to Muslim customers include showing the distance and relation of the plane to Mecca, the direction to which Muslims face when they pray.

In the electronic maps appearing on a BMI flight from London to Tel Aviv, for example, Israel and its cities are not marked, with the exception of Haifa, which is spelled 'Khefa,' the city's Arab name dating to before the War of Independence.

BMI operates flights from England to many popular Muslim destinations, including Syria, Lebanon and Iran, but has also recently launched an agreement with the Tourism Ministry to add Israel to its roster.

BMI said in response that two planes en route to Tel Aviv were originally destined to arrive in Arab countries, so the map was tailored to those passengers and showed Muslim holy sites.

The company issued a statement saying that a "logistic failure" caused the map to appear on the Tel Aviv-bound flight and said it will be removed from planes flying to Israel. The statement added that BMI was making every effort not to hurt passengers' feelings by adopting a nonpolitical position, the statement added.

From Haaretz

MPA - G20 officer resigns over blog violence boasts, Boris Johnson defends killer cops

Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) - report back from lobby

A Metropolitan police officer has resigned over inappropriate comments on a website about the G20 protest, acting Deputy Commissioner Tim Godwin said.

He revealed the resignation during a public meeting over the policing of G20 protests in London.

Protesters heckled and jeered Mayor Boris Johnson who said that officers in general had done a "fantastic job".

Two officers were later suspended and one of them was interviewed on suspicion of manslaughter.

Godwin refused to give any further information about the officer that resigned.

When the mayor defended the police officers on duty during the G20 summit, a protester shouted "rubbish".

Members of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) and the force's board of governors faced a group of protesters holding a large banner reading "Remember Ian Tomlinson" as they arrived at City Hall.

more at the BBC

Police blame media for G20 violence

Public Meeting Stop Police Violence!!!
Public meeting, 7:00pm, Tuesday 5 May
Friends Meeting House, Euston Road (opposite Euston station)

called by the United Campaign Against Police Violence

Speakers include:
· Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly
· Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary
· Anna Fairclough, Liberty
· Sam Rigg-David, Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign, UCAPV
· Andrew Murray, Stop the War Coalition Chair
· Brenda Weinberg, United Friends and Family Campaign
· Martin Smith, SWP National Secretary
· Other speakers to confirm…
This rally is both the public launch of the UCAPV and a chance to pull hundreds of people together to go through the important political issues and questions that face us, and to build and strengthen our resistance. It will also be a vital launch pad for our national demonstration.

A new leaflet will be available soon.

Gaza surgeon's US tour shocks audiences

Chicago audience 'shell shocked' by doctor's presentation of Gaza under attack

By Rie Graham

I was a bit nervous ten minutes before the program was to start and only 20 people were seated in the cavernous Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. Perhaps people really have forgotten Gaza. Maybe they don't want to be reminded that for 23 days, Israel carried out a planned, brutal assault that flattened buildings and shattered lives.

Maybe they don't want to hear from someone who spent two weeks in Gaza elbow deep in blood, repairing small bodies and comforting weeping relatives. Maybe people have moved on - eager for a new diplomatic initiative or perhaps onto the next tragedy - Afghanistan and Pakistan where the blood seems more fresh. Maybe they are more interested in the work of pirates rather than those who use governmental power to attack civilians and then continue to hold them under siege so reconstruction efforts are hampered.

I was wrong about the interest. Within the next half hour, the chapel slowly filled with people, perhaps reaching 200. Lots of college students, women in headscarves, and Arab families - young children in tow - sat spellbound as Mads Gilbert (pictured right in al-Shifa Hospital , photo from the Lancet), a Norwegian doctor who has spent several decades working with Palestinians, shared with the audience his most recent experience working at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza at the end of December when the timed Israeli assault began. more at the Palestine Telegraph

Health, Human Rights, and the War on Gaza: Evidence from the Frontlines

"WE'RE WADING IN BLOOD" On Jan 3, 2009,
Dr. Mads Gilbert sent a text message to the world:

"They bombed the central fruit and vegetables market in Gaza town two hours ago. 80 wounded and 20 killed. All of them came here, to Shifa. Hades! We are up to our knees with death, blood and amputants. Lots of children. Pregnant women. I have never experienced anything this terrible. Tell people, pass it on, shout it from the rooftops. Everything. WE MUST DO MORE! We are living in the history books now, everyone!”

—Mads Gilbert, Gaza,

Palestine Dr. Gilbert is a professor and physician based in Tromsoe, Norway and has participated in and organized numerous international emergency medical missions and training projects in war and post-conflict zones in Lebanon, West Bank, Gaza, Iran, Burma, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Angola. During the most recent conflict in Gaza, Dr. Gilbert on emergency assignment for the Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC), was one of a few foreign physicians on the ground, at a period foreign journalists were barred from entering Gaza. Dr. Gilbert has published several articles in The Lancet based on his recent observations and experience as a physician and human rights activist in Gaza.

He has been interviewed extensively by the international media, including CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera to discuss his experiences and will be releasing a book in May that documents the humanitarian and health impact of the most recent disaster in Gaza on the Palestinian population. Dr. Quentin Young is Co-Founder of PNHP and former physician to Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Young is a continued leader in public health policy and medical and social justice issues.

In 1998, he had the special distinction of serving as President of the American Public Health Association and in 1997 was inducted as a Master of the American College of Physicians.

In 1980, Dr. Young founded the Chicago based Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, of which he is currently Chairman.

See also Dime bombs were used on Gaza civilians, with video report of Dr Eric Fosse at Al-Shifa hospital

Jewish professor Robinson attacked at UCSB for comparing Israel to Nazis

The pro-Israel campaign against the Palestinian solidarity movement has found its way on to another US campus after two students at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) complained when their lecturer sent out an email juxtaposing images from the Holocaust with images from the Israeli war on the people of Gaza.

Gaza Solidarity is familiar with the images and chose not to post them at the time as we do not believe the comparisons are appropriate. Appalling crimes have been committed by Israel in Gaza, but there are no extermination camps there. And Gaza is not the Warsaw Ghetto, although it certainly is an open-air prison.

But the pictures do sharply point to the tragic irony of the 'Jewish State' built by those fleeing oppression to turn into one of the the world's most oppressive states. The pictures are in no way anti-semitic, and Professor William Robson deserves our support.
By Duke Helfand, LA Times

Controversy has erupted at UC Santa Barbara over a professor's decision to send his students an e-mail in which he compared graphic images of Jews in the Holocaust to pictures of Palestinians caught up in Israel's recent Gaza offensive.

The e-mail by tenured sociology professor William I. Robinson has triggered a campus investigation and drawn accusations of anti-Semitism from two national Jewish groups, even as many students and faculty members have voiced support for him.

The uproar began in January when Robinson sent his message -- titled "parallel images of Nazis and Israelis" to the 80 students in his sociology of globalization class.

The e-mail contained more than two dozen photographs of Jewish victims of the Nazis, including those of dead children, juxtaposed with nearly identical images from the Gaza Strip. It also included an article critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and a note from Robinson.

"Gaza is Israel's Warsaw a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians," the professor wrote. "We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide."

Two Jewish students dropped the class, saying they felt intimidated by the professor's message. They contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which advised them to file formal complaints with the university.

In their letters, senior Rebecca Joseph and junior Tova Hausman accused Robinson of violating the campus' faculty code of conduct by disseminating personal, political material unrelated to his course.

"I was shocked," said Joseph, 22. "He overstepped his boundaries as a professor. He has his own freedom of speech, but he doesn't have the freedom to send his students his own opinion that is so strong."

Robinson, 50, who is Jewish, called the accusations and the campus investigation an attack on academic freedom. He said his former students, the Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League had all confused his criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism.

"That's like saying if I condemn the U.S. government for the invasion of Iraq, I'm anti-American," he said. "It's the most absurd, baseless argument." more at LA Times

More on US campus battles:

Pro-Israel campaign of hate at Rochester

Zionists vandalise black flags exhibit at Cornell University

* Email the UCSB Chancellor and responsible authorities on campus to express your outrage and register your protest (see sample letter and email addresses below)

PROFESSOR WILLIAM I. ROBINSON, UC CALIFORNIA (from Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UC Santa Barbara) Posted at Peterborough Coalition for Palestinian Solidarity

Dear colleagues,

UCSB has become the latest front in the war against Academic Freedom.

Professor William I. Robinson, a Sociology and Global Studies professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been attacked by the Anti-Defamation League and two of his former students. In January of this year, he forwarded an email condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The email contained an editorial by a Jewish journalist condemning Israel's actions in Gaza as well as juxtaposed images of Nazi atrocities with congruent images of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. The email was an optional read for students, intended to spark conversation by relating contemporary events to conceptual ideas discussed in class.

One week later, the ADL wrote him a letter charging him with anti-Semitism and sundry violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct (none of which were coherent claims). Another week passed, and the Academic Senate Charges Officer then notified him that two of the students in the class to which he circulated the email had filed complaints against him.

The complaints are that 1) critique of Israel is evidence of anti-Semitism and 2) the Israeli-Palestinian issue should not be discussed in a class on Globalization.

This case has already escalated way too far. Throughout the process, the Charges Officer violated several elements of the charges procedure, shirked his responsibilities, and ultimately acted as a co-complainant by fabricating charges that were not raised by the students. The charges have reached the Committee on Committees, which is now in the process of convening an ad hoc Charges Committee to assess the complaints against Professor Robinson.

Based on patently absurd and malicious claims, the charges should have been dismissed out of hand from the beginning. Further consideration of the charges by the Academic Senate serves only to sanction politically-motivated attacks on academic freedom. The longer this case is pursued, the worse its chilling effect; it will spread fear among those who wish to present controversial and critical subjects. Even though the original complaint is regarding Israel/Palestine, the rights at stake extend beyond this specific topic. Academic freedom is a right that enables scholars to express diverse perspectives over contentious topics, free from the intimidation of political repression campaigns. If the case against Professor Robinson continues to go forward, it will lead down a slippery slope that may expose academics to repression tactics for addressing controversial issues such as stem cell research, evolution, feminism, LGBT rights, etc. It is incumbent upon members of the UCSB campus and the broader academy to roundly oppose this silencing campaign.

This is an obvious attack on Professor Robinson’s academic freedom, one that ominously recalls similar campaigns against other critics of Israel across the nation. This is part of a broader campaign to automatically vilify and attack any and all critiques of Israel’s policies and practices through unfounded use of the term “anti-Semitic.” A critique of the Israeli state, its policies, and the leaders responsible is not and should not be considered an affront to Jewish people as a collective, the Jewish religion, or Jewish heritage. In fact, conflating the state of Israel with the Jewish people essentializes the assorted political opinions of a diverse religious group by reducing them to the set of policies espoused by the prevailing regime.

For more information on the case, including continuing updates,
If you wish to contact the student campaign, please email:

Thank you for your time,
Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UC Santa Barbara

Send an Email:
The e-mail should be addressed to UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang and cc’d to the following faculty and administrators involved in the case. Please copy and paste the addresses.

UK minister attacks UN report instead of Israel's war crimes

With over 1,400 dead on the Palestinian side and only 13 on the Israeli, it is the junior British minister that is unbalanced, not the UN.
Britain criticised Wednesday a report by a UN human rights investigator on Israel's Gaza offensive as "unbalanced", but insisted it was extremely concerned by the situation in Gaza and the West Bank.

Last month, the UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, said in a report that there was "reason" to conclude that Israel's massive military offensive on Gaza in December and January was a war crime, but the Jewish state slammed the report as "one-sided".

"The report of the UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur is unbalanced and contributes little," junior foreign minister Bill Rammell said in a written reply to a parliamentary question published Wednesday.

UN report says Israel's war on Gaza may be war crime

University of Manchester to meet occupiers' demands to send aid to Gaza

DEMANDS OF PROTESTERS who took part in the month-long occupation of University buildings in protest against Israel’s military actions in Gaza last term are being met by the University of Manchester.

Arrangements have been made by the University for surplus academic aid to be sent to Gaza. Negotiations are in progress with the University to secure scholarships in Manchester for students from Gaza and to boycott the sale of produce from the occupied territories.

“The University has met with the student Executive and with representatives of the protesters and discussed a number of initiatives related to the policy on Gaza passed at the Union meeting,” a University spokesperson said.

“We are making progress on a number of issues and the discussions with the Executive are ongoing.”

The Manchester occupation was one of 34 protests taking place at universities around the UK. Other occupations have also had success in securing deals to benefit Gazan students.
From Student Direct
ManuUni Occupation blog - although no update as yet

G20 police blame media for violence - but who gave them the information to hype?

So what would the riot police have been like if their commanders hadn't calmed them down? I think we can safely discount this latest spin from the Met. The cops are now blaming the media for hyping the prospect of serious violence on the day. Well, we did have some very serious violence, and it was from the police.

Also, who are these supervisors who didn't ensure 'officers displayed ID numbers' and does the silence on the result of third postmortem probably mean it's not looking good for the unnamed police territorial support group policeman that carried out the attack on Ian Tomlinson?

Officers policing the G20 protests in London were told to remain "calm and restrained", says a Met police report.

Supervisors also had to ensure officers displayed ID numbers, says the report being presented to a Metropolitan Police Authority meeting later...

...The results of a third post-mortem, requested by the interviewed police officer's legal team, have not been released.

Temporary Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison's report says that in the run-up to the G20 meeting, the media had "exaggerated" the potential for violent disorder.

more at the BBC

Join today's lobby of the Metropolitan Police Authority at City Hall - 9.00am onwards.

Meanwhile, the Met has been forced to pay out compensation to five protesters after illegally detaining them following a vigil outside the Mexican embassy over the killing of a US filmmaker by police during a teachers' strike in the city of Oaxaca:

Five protesters who were assaulted by officers and kept in police custody for two nights have been paid tens of thousands of pounds in an out-of-court settlement.

The five have received £85,000 in compensation plus costs, together totalling more than £100,000, in a settlement recorded at the high court this week. Their detention after a demonstration in London three years ago was "unlawful" and a restriction of their "democratic right to peaceful protest", the Metropolitan police accepted in a statement released this week.

The admission follows criticism of police behaviour at the G20 summit this month and campaigners say the payout will reinforce concerns about the Met's handling of public order events and may encourage others to seek compensation.

The peaceful rally outside the Mexican embassy in October 2006 was attended by about 20 activists calling for action over the murder of an American filmmaker, Bradley Roland Will, during a teachers' strike in the city of Oaxaca. The shooting was blamed on local state officials. more