Thursday, 5 May 2011

Daniel Barenboim's solidarity concert reverberates around the world as Gazans cheer


GAZA — The program was perfectly normal: a pair of beloved Mozart chestnuts (“A Little Night Music” and the G minor Symphony), before a lunchtime crowd in a local cultural center.

Daniel Barenboim, the Israeli conductor, leading the orchestra in Gaza on Tuesday for an audience of several hundred.

But the concert could hardly have been more out of the ordinary. Daniel Barenboim, the Israeli conductor, led an orchestra of two dozen elite musicians — volunteers from the Berlin Philharmonic, the Berlin Staatskapelle, the Orchestra of La Scala in Milan, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Orchestre de Paris — into Gaza on Tuesday. They played, on a makeshift stage, with obvious emotion and exceptionally well, before an invited audience of several hundred that rose to cheer not just afterward but also from the moment the players walked into the hall.

“This is meant to demonstrate European solidarity with Gazan civil society,” Mr. Barenboim said in an interview beforehand, careful to separate the event from the militant Palestinian group Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza, whose involvement was kept to an absolute minimum. more

Canada boat to Gaza purchased, named 'Tahrir' and ready to sail


Canada Boat to Gaza has raised the necessary $300,000 required to purchase a boat to sail to Gaza as part of Freedom Flotilla 2.
The Canadian Boat to Gaza campaign announces today the successful conclusion of arrangements to purchase and register a boat to carry the Canadian delegation to Gaza. The boat's name Tahrir (Liberation in Arabic) has been chosen to honour the square in Cairo that was the focus of the democratic uprising that has spread hope across the Middle East.

The Tahrir will sail with vessels from France, USA, UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, and other countries, as part of the Freedom Flotilla II. This international movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people turns the spotlight on the blockade of Gaza and its 1.6 million residents whose access to resources and ability to travel has been unilaterally impeded by the illegal Israeli blockade.

Fundraising for this campaign has been shared by thousands of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and with the momentum building for this project we expect to secure the remaining amount needed over the next few weeks of fundraising. "We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of individuals and groups across the country" said Wendy Goldsmith of the Canadian Boat to Gaza Fundraising Committee, adding that "we are sure that with our boat now a reality, the community support will come through to raise the remaining funds needed."

The 25-metre Tahrir will carry approximately 45 people: delegates from across the country, high profile Canadians plus journalists. As well, the Canadian campaign has partnered with campaigns from other countries and will carry delegates from Australia, Belgium and Denmark. A new website www.tahrir.ca was launched today to coincide with news of the boat's purchase and will be the site for online donations. more

Canada Boat to Gaza website: http://www2.canadaboatgaza.org

Mavi Marmara veteran applauds growing global Gaza solidarity shown by flotillla 2

Bringing the world's solidarity to Gaza

Kevin Ovenden, a leader of the Viva Palestina effort to break the siege of Gaza, looks at the context for the new solidarity initiatives that will be launched this month. more at Socialist Worker (US)

A SECOND, larger aid flotilla is due to sail towards Gaza at the end of May, around the anniversary of Israel's murderous attack on the Mavi Marmara on May 31 last year, in which Israeli commandoes shot dead nine Turkish activists.

Freedom Flotilla 2 is set to be more than twice the size of the first mission, which had six ships. It will comprise hundreds of activists from dozens of countries, east and west. It takes place as unprecedented radical change sweeps the Arab region.

The attack on the Mavi Marmara in international waters was a turning point in the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Far from intimidating efforts to end the siege on Gaza and support the Palestinian struggle, Israel's massacre spurred them on and amplified the calls to isolate apartheid Israel through boycott, divestment and sanctions. Five months after the Mavi Marmara attack, Viva Palestina entered Gaza with a land convoy through the Rafah crossing controlled by Egypt. For the first time, we were able to take in all of our 137 vehicles and aid.

Support for the new flotilla is broader than last year, and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is desperate to stop it. more

Israeli military attaché misses Netanyahu UK trip, fearing arrest for crimes against humanity


Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is understood to have raised concerns about British law during his visit to No 10.

A senior military attaché reportedly missed the trip to Britain because of fear of arrest under UK law, which allows a UK judge to issue an arrest warrant against anyone the judge believes may have been involved in crimes against humanity. more

Bulldozers and 200 soldiers demolish Umm Nir village near Hebron for a third time

(pic: Land Research Center)

From the Palestine Telegraph. This is the third time the village has been demolished. The second time was in 29 March this year, the Land Research Center reports.
Four Israeli bulldozers started Thursday demolishing the village of Umm Nir in the south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

According to witnesses, more that 200 Israeli soldiers stormed the village located in the east of Yatta town in Hebron and demolished 10 houses belonging to local families in addition to trees and crops. more

American woman hospitalised as three international activists arrested on West Bank

(Pic from International Solidarity Movement)

Thanks to the International Solidarity Movement
Sandra Quintano, an American 60-year-old woman working with the Michigan Peace Team, was evacuated to an Israeli hospital this afternoon, after Israeli soldiers caused her a serious head injury as they demolished a protest tent in the West Bank village of Izbet al-Tabib near Qalqilya. A Swede and two British activists were arrested during the protest.

Israeli soldiers, accompanied by bulldozers and other heavy machinery entered the village of Izbet al-Tabib south of Qalqilya earlier today, to demolish a protest tent set up only yesterday by the villagers and begin the construction of a fence that would cut the villagers off from Highway 55 and of their agricultural land.

During the eviction of the tent, the soldiers violently arrested two British activists and a Swedish activist. They also caused a bleeding head injury to a 60 year-old American woman. She also suffered blows to her wrist, which is suspected to be broken. She was evacuated to an Israeli hospital. more

Africa convoy sets out to end grip of Apartheid Israel on Gaza


The Africa convoy website: www.africa1convoy.za.net

The embargo implemented in Gaza still continues. 1,5 million Palestanians- approximately 2/3 of them are living in refugee camps- have been suffering for a long time. Despite the limited access to Gaza and the hardships on the borders, aid convoys to Gaza will not stop.

One of them is Africa 1 Aid Convoy, organized by Al-Quds Foundation, SA, which will be coming from South Africa passing through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt.

Africa 1 Aid Convoy route



Objectives of the convoy are defined as follows:

* To create an awareness in Africa on the plight of the people of Gaza;

* Vest the leadership of the Convoy to Gaza in Al-Quds Foundation;

* To assume responsibility for the humanitarian struggle for freedom in Gaza;

* To lead the Convoy with sincerity, which shall form the essence of the Convoy;

* To reach the people of Africa and to serve as a means of conveying the “Message of Islam”;

* To provide humanitarian aid to the People of Gaza.

The needs of the people of Gaza are determined by the leadership of Gaza and not by convoy organization. Some of those things already identified are:

•Generators
•Medical Supplies
•Water/Desalination (Detoxification) units
•Stationery
•Educational needs
•Medical needs
•Funds
•Left hand drive vehicles

The Convoy comprises of three legs which are Awareness Campaign (reached its goals), South African Leg before departure to Gaza (in June) and Departure to African Countries to Gaza (in July).

The Convoy aims to enter into Gaza from Egypt border in the first week of Ramadaan.

Many organizations pledged their support to the Convoy. Channel Islam International, MJC, Jamiat Ul Ulama (Lenasia branch), Radio Islam, Palestinian Solidarity Group, Central Islamic Trust, PSA, Al–Aqsa Muslim School, Universities, Colleges, Islamic Schools, Communities and Civil & Government Agencies are among them.

The South African Muslim community is known as a very influential community. It has been playing a pivotal role in the struggle for the safeguard and liberation of Al-Quds, Palestine.

For more visit www.africa1convoy.za.net

Occupation Courts Extend Sa'adat Isolation Again After 775 Days - Take Action



http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/


The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat - info@freeahmadsaadat.org -
Twitter:@freeahmadsaadat http://twitter.com/#!/freeahmadsaadat


The Israeli occupation courts have, once again, extended the isolation of Ahmad Sa'adat. On May 3, 2011, at a hearing in Beersheba prison, the court issued an extended isolation order until November 3, 2011. Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian national leader, has been held in isolation since March 19, 2009 - for over two full years, over 775 days.

It is well-established that solitary confinement and isolation are dangerous and detrimental to the physical and mental health of prisoners. It is a technique frequently used against political prisoners, from the U.S.'s Guantanamo Bay and Communications Management Units, to Ben Ali's isolation cells in Tunisia, to the prisons of the occupation. Israel is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose articles 10 states that "All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person." On the contrary, isolation cells deprive prisoners of human contact, recreation, and mental stimulation. Sa'adat is regularly denied family visits, newspapers, books, and information in Arabic. While Israel's utter contempt for international law is visible in every aspect of its behaviour, from its war crimes against Palestinians, to its denial of the Palestinian rig ht to return, to its apartheid regime targeting Palestinian citizens, the situation of Palestinian prisoners is a glaring example of Israel's flouting of international law and human rights standards.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) - the expert body associated with the Council of Europe - has noted, "It is generally acknowledged that all forms of solitary confinement without appropriate mental and physical stimulation are likely, in the long-term, to have damaging effects resulting in deterioration of mental faculties and social abilities." Those prisoners targeted for isolation, including Ahmad Sa'adat, are long-time Palestinian leaders. Sa'adat has always been a leader among his fellow prisoners and a voice of conscience of the Palestinian people - and it is for that reason that he is being targeted under cover of secret evidence for isolation and deprivation.

Sa'adat refused to attend the hearing, as an illegal manifestation of an illegitimate occupation and abduction, and due to its reliance on secret evidence, saying that he refused to legitimize what was clearly a mockery of justice.

This extension of isolation comes as Palestinian prisoners have launched hunger strikes in protest against the use of isolation. The strikes began on May 3 at Ramon, Ashkelon and Nafha prisons and will also take place on May 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, and 28. Palestinian prisoners - inside the jails of the occupation - are taking action against isolation and demanding freedom. It is imperative that we echo their voices and demand an end to isolation and freedom for Palestinian prisoners.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat also notes that Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh, long-time Palestinian activist and writer, has been subject to the imposition of arbitrary administrative detention and demands his freedom. As Addameer reveals, his administrative detention order - extended minutes before he was to be released from was merely copied from another Palestinian prisoner - bearing witness once again to the fact that administrative detention is nothing more than an arbitrary kidnapping and imprisonment of Palestinians, without charge or trial, for six months at a time. Administrative detention, based on nothing more than secret evidence, has been used to target and silence Palestinian activists when even the flimsy standards of Israeli military courts cannot be used to imprison Palestinian writers, activists and community organizers. The Campaign demands the freedom of Ahmad Qatamesh and an end to the horror that is administrative detention, a mechanism of terror against the Palestinian population.

From administrative detention, to military trials, to the isolation cells, Israel shows utter contempt for the human rights and dignity of Palestinian prisoners. In response, it is urgent that supporters of Palestine and justice around the world raise their voices to demand an end to isolation, an end to arbitrary detention - and the freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and every one of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners of freedom, in an occupation's jails for daring to struggle for the freedom of their land and people.

We urge activists to include statements and messages of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their events, and as the anniversary of Al-Nakba comes near, to mark the Nakba on May 15 by demanding the right to return and the liberation of Palestine -including the freedom of Palestinian political prisoners. Palestinian prisoners are hunger striking and raising their voices behind bars - we must join their voices and demand their freedom!

Please contact us at info@freeahmadsaadat.org to inform us of your events and actions.

TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT AHMAD SA'ADAT AND ALL PALESTINIAN PRISONERS!

1. Call the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners.

2. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that the Israelis ensure that Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners are freed from punitive isolation. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at jerusalem.jer@icrc.org, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa'adat.

3. Email the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat at info@freeahmadsaadat.org with announcements, reports and information about your local events, activities and flyer distributions.

May 4, 2011

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat
http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org
info@freeahmadsaadat.org

Ahava's flagship London store to close this September in victory for Israel boycotters

Ahava is an Israeli cosmetics firm that bases its operations around a settlement in the occupied territories. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has scored a major victory by hastening the closure of its flagship store in Covent Garden London, announced for September this year.

From BDS Movement:

On 2 October 2010 and 22 November 2010 a total of four activists locked themselves to blocks of concrete inside Ahava, a cosmetics store selling products from Mitzpe Shalem - an illegal Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian land, successfully closing the shop for several hours. After being cut free, the activists were arrested for aggravated trespass.

At a three day hearing, between 21 – 23 March 2011, evidence was heard at Stratford Magistrates Court in London.

One month later on 21 April 2011, a verdict was announced by District Judge Ian Baker at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. The four activists were convicted, received a conditional discharge and were ordered to pay costs of £250.00 each.

What follows is a statement released by the activists after the verdict was announced:

Statement from the Ahava 4

London, 21 April 2011

Although these proceedings have resulted in our convictions, no one should be in any doubt about the real criminality in this case. During the three-day hearing, we demonstrated that Ahava cosmetics are manufactured on stolen Palestinian land. Ahava’s trade is not only immoral, it is illegal. We believe that our action was lawful and justified.

Today’s judgement illustrates the complicity of the authorities in allowing companies to profit from the occupation. Throughout the trial, neither the Judge nor the prosecution challenged the assertion that the settlements are illegal in international law. Irrespective of today’s judgement, campaigners believe that they are still the victors.

As a result of the collective efforts of activists, Ahava’s flagship Covent Garden store will close this September. This demonstrates the efficacy of grassroots action in creating real and tangible change.

We call for mass participation in the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, building a movement that can directly challenge Israeli apartheid and occupation.

End of statement.

Original article can be found here: http://londonbds.org/2011/04/21/statement-from-the-ahava-4/