On Saturday we held our regular monthly protest. We were thin on the ground but we gave out a large number of flyers. here.
At the Stop the War protest on Sunday, we had a speaker, who pointed out the Hypocrisy of our politicians. They are gathering evidence for crimes against humanity, now, against Putin’s bloody invasion. Excellent, but what about the crime against Humanity of Apartheid. Israel’s Apartheid has been growing for over 50 years. The West has been rewarding Israel with subsidies and preferential treatment. A system of justice cannot simply be wheeled out to deal with the West’s enemies. Had Israeli leaders been punished with guilty verdicts at an International Criminal Court, it is likely that Putin would believe that such a fate is waiting for him.
This is the meeting we were advertising. We are particularly pleased to welcome Kholoud al Ajarma. She is from the village of Ajjur. The JNF British Park sits on the ruins of her village. When she complained to a British Court, it ruled that she had no standing to complain. It is our first physical meeting in two years, so we are a bit nervous. Please come (unless you have Covid!!)
On Saturday Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign held its monthly protest. Come along next time 12 noon Sheffield Town Hall first Saturday of the month. We gave out leaflets highlighting the Amnesty report which documents Israeli Apartheid. It is a 274 pages long. It took four years to produce. Join our campaign.We defeated the South African Apartheid, if we work together we can defeat Israel’s Apartheid.
Amnesty International has just brought out a report on Israeli Apartheid. It says
“Our report reveals the true extent of Israel’s apartheid regime. Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights. We found that Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid. The international community has an obligation to act”
On 28, 29, 30 January 2022, we call for a global mobilization in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their steadfast resistance against Israel’s forced displacement in Jerusalem’s neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, in Al-Naqab, the Jordan Valley, the southern Hebron Hills and beyond.
These Global Days of Action are in response to the call by the Bedouin-Palestinian community of Al-Naqab for international solidarity to support their struggle against Israel’s ongoing Nakba.
The last week has seen a dramatic escalation in the intensity and brutality of Israel’s relentless policy of expulsion that still threatens to expel thousands of Indigenous Palestinians more from their homes and lands. As Human Rights Watch and other international human rights organizations have said, this wave of forced displacement is yet another manifestation of Israel’s system of apartheid against all Palestinians. Apartheid is a crime against humanity in international law.
We call for intensifying our efforts to end international complicity by states, corporations and institutions in Israel’s policies of apartheid, settler colonialism and military occupation. In other words, we call for meaningful solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israeli attempts to dehumanize them and to criminalize their popular resistance to cultural erasure and the ongoing dispossession and displacement.
Let’s demand effective accountability for complicity in war crimes now.
Take the lead from Palestinians in Al-Naqab as they organize another mass protest this Sunday.
Be inspired by the sumud of the Palestinian community in Sheikh Jarrah, and by the words of Mahmoud Salhiya: “We’d rather die in our land with dignity than surrender.” They embody the determined resilience of the entire Palestinian people, including Palestinians besieged in the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Palestinian women, men and youth continue to rise up for their rights, whether in their homeland or in exile, where they’ve lived as refugees ethnically cleansed from their homeland in the 1948 Nakba and denied their inherent and UN-stipulated right of return.
On 28, 29, 30 January – the Global Days of Action to #EndEthnicCleansing, let’s:
Organize/join protests, vigils and rallies across the world.
Pressure governments and parliaments to take action, including lawful and targeted sanctions and military-security trade bans, and call out those who are complicit with apartheid Israel.
The leadership of the JNF UK has made racist comments. This has led to complaints by important sections of Jews in the UK. This has led to an investigation by the Charity Commission. Up to now the Commission has covered up the racism of the JNF. This time it will be a harder task. More information here.
Students from Sheffield Palsoc have been found guilty of anti Semitism and ordered to attend an anti Semitism awareness course. The accusation arises from a placard stating “stop the holocaust of Palestinians”. The placard was not used but could be seen on Facebook in a video clip showing the students making banners.
There will be a considered official statement from Sheffield PSC on the case in due course.
Protestors gathered at the Head offices of JCB World HQ today, Wednesday 15th December 2021, calling for JCB’s Directors to end sales of bulldozers to Israel. JCB exports equipment to its sole dealer in Israel, Comasco, who in turn have a contract with the Israeli Ministry of Defence. JCB’s bulldozers are used by the Israeli military to demolish Palestinian homes, schools, health centres and even its olive groves and animal shelters.
The protestors held up graphic photographs of Palestinian families standing in shock and despair around the rubble of their homes, with JCB equipment shown clearly in the photographs. They sang ‘Homes Torn Down’ a song specially composed for the occasion focussing on the broken Palestinian lives and dreams as a direct result of JCB sales to Israel.
JCB have been regularly criticised for its actions in exporting its equipment to Israel, in full knowledge that their equipment is used by the Israeli military. Last month an investigation by the UK Department of Trade concluded that JCB was failing take any measure to check on the end use of its equipment, and that, in spite of its position as a major, prestigious global company, it had no human rights policy. Last week Amnesty International published a major report JCB Off Track on the sale of JCB equipment to Israel, concluding that JCB did not appear to care that its products have been used for years to destroy Palestinian homes and communities.
Natalie, one of the protestors, said:
JCB know perfectly well the destruction wreaked by its bulldozers in Palestine. There is a mountain of evidence and even the Department of Trade is now calling JCB to account. And yet JCB continues to treat with contempt any attempt to engage with them over this issue. For years it has ignored letters, reports and constructive attempts by NGOs to discuss with them measures that JCB could easily take to end its complicity with Israel’s war crimes. JCB exports its products to over 150 countries and could choose to suspend its policy of exporting to Israel without a dint in its profits. The Bamford family are always keen to highlight their philanthropic work, including its charitable donations to the biggest child welfare charity in the country, the NSPCC. And yet the family are utterly blind to the suffering of Palestinian children, living in the rubble of their lives after yet another JCB bulldozer ploughs through their homes.Today we handed in a letter to Graeme Macdonald calling on JCB to finally listen to the multitude of voices calling on the company to prove that it does care about human rights and the welfare of Palestinian children. We are not optimistic, as we have sadly seen the heartlessness of this company and its Directors over a number of years. But we do care, and we will continue to protest until the owners of this company finally come to their senses and show some humanity.
The protestors held a one minute’s silence to remember the Palestinian children who would be homeless this Christmas as a direct result of the Israeli Army’s use of JCB bulldozers and for all victims of Israeli war crimes.
Keir Starmer became a barrister in 1987. The job of a barrister is to put his client’s case as clearly as possible. Starmer’s speech to Labour Friends of Israel demonstrates the barrister’s art.
The full speech is here. There is a complete conflation between the Jewish community and Israel. He says “Anti-Zionist antisemitism is the antithesis of the Labour tradition: It denies the Jewish people alone a right to self-determination”.
Here he uses the straw man strategy. Anti Semitism is a crime. Nobody who believes in justice can be anti Semitic. Everyone who believes in justice should fight against the form that Zionism has taken over the last seventy plus years. Starmer does not recognise Jews and other anti racists who oppose Zionism as it is practiced.
There is the appeal to Israeli leaders as his brothers and sisters in struggle “from Golda Meir to Chaim Herzog, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres –as comrades in the international struggle for equality, peace and freedom. “Social democrats who made the desert flower,” as Wilson put it”.
A history lesson focussing on the flaws of each of them would take too long. I will mention that Peres offered Apartheid South Africa nuclear warheads, was active in support of the illegal settlements, and was President of Israel 2007 to 2014, when Apartheid was being fully established. Not much of a struggle for “equality peace and freedom”. Then there is the lie that “Social democrats who made the desert flower”. No mention of Palestinians who had a thriving agriculture for over a thousand years. No mention of the water thefts from the River Jordan nor the planting of unsuitable pines over the ethnically cleansed and destroyed villages. When they burned they revealed the Palestinian terraces.
Starmer makes an appeal to Israel’s progressive policies.
“ Three years after the liberation of the camps, Israel’s Declaration of Independence committed the new state to Freedom, justice and peace; Complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; And freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.”
The issue is not “self determination of Jewish people.” The issue is how do we establish a regime(s) between the river and the sea that gives all people the right to a peaceful life where they can practice their religion with equality under the law, and social justice. Starmer says he believes that the establishment of a democratic in Palestine provides that solution. Nearly a decade ago Manuel Hassassian was speaking in Sheffield. He said something like “As a diplomat from Palestine our position is that we want a Palestinian State based on the pre 1967 borders.” He paused took two paces to the left and continued “As an academic, Israel has created facts on the ground that make a two state solution impossible.” Since then the embedding of Israeli oppression of Palestinians has become deeper and wider.
Human Rights Watch stated “that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT. In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid”.
It is not enough that Starmer does not comment on this, nor the other reports that preceded it. He says “Israel herself is the first to acknowledge that at times she falls short of these [equality and social justice] goals”. And continues “That is why I am both a friend of Israel and a friend of Palestine.”
In summary Starmer refuses to acknowledge the reality of Israeli Apartheid, refuses to acknowledge that Israel has almost certainly destroyed a two state solution. He opposes peaceful BDS efforts to pressurise Israel into recognising basic human rights of Palestinians (right of return, right to equality, end of occupation).
He happily repeats myths “Israel embodies progressive values” and “[Israeli]Social democrats who made the desert flower,” He opposes BDS because it would “hurt the people of Israel and Palestine” and damage trade between the UK and Israel.
He looks at oppressor and the oppressed and says “That is why I am both a friend of Israel and a friend of Palestine.” But everything he proposes weakens the Palestinians and strengthens Israel.
Priti Patel has stated that she intends to redefine the Political wing of Hamas as terrorist. The governments of the USA and UK have never forgiven Hamas for winning the 2006 Palestinian election. They refused to recognise the democratically newly elected Government. When Hamas and the PLO organised a joint Government in 2007, they refused to recognise that either.
Since then Israel has blockaded Gaza, and tightened up its occupation of the West Bank. It has made clear that it intends to annex great swathes of the West Bank into Israel. Various bodies, the most recent being Human Rights Watch, have looked at the way Israel dominates Palestinians in the area that it controls, and decided that it satisfies the definition of Apartheid[i].
For us in the PSC, separate housing, separate laws, separate access to water, separate roads constitute Apartheid. Apartheid is a crime under International Law.
Given that forced transfer of population, land theft, resources theft and supporting Apartheid are all crimes, Israeli settlers, soldiers, and politicians are all terrorists.
So can we expect Preti Patel to announce that Netanyahu, Tzipi Hotovley, Naftali Bennett and the IDF as terrorist? Well no, the right are not interested in truth and justice, the word terrorist is reserved for those who oppose their rule.
Today very few people defend South African Apartheid. Yet Nelson Mandela and the ANC were declared a terrorist up to 2008[ii].
According to General Rawlinson[iii] Commander in Chief, the British army India believed “you have to use terrorism whether you like it or not.” Yet it was the pacifist Gandhi who was branded a terrorist[iv].
British rule in Kenya was brutal.[v] According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, 90,000 Kenyans were killed, tortured or maimed during the conflict, and 160,000 were held in inhumane prison camps. “The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place.” Yet it was the Mau Mau and Kenyatta that were declared terrorist.
The Tories supported South African Apartheid it is not surprising they support the Israeli version.
“Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
Join us on sat 27th November 11 am Sheffield Town Hall, or join the cyclecade (cavalcade, but with bikes,) 10 am Heeley Retail Park