All posts by Dick Pitt

Why Palestinian Memory Matters


A public talk by Ramzy Baroud will be on Sunday 18th March  5pm Umix Centre

Ramzy Baroud is an activist and author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter.

His visit to Sheffield comes a fewmonths after a United Nations Committee reported that ‘the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an Apartheid regime’.  In his new book, Last Earth a Palestinian Story, Ramzy uncovers memories that have resisted fragmentation and are reclaiming history for the Palestinian people.

HSBC protest


It would be impossible for Israel to steal land from the Palestinians if it was not militarily superior.  That superiority is maintained by the aid budget from the USA and military trade with the West.  That trade could not go ahead without the support of the banks.  On Saturday we were on the streets to point out that HSBC profits from an arms trade that  helps Israel steal Palestinian land.

After the protest some of us went into the bank to complain to the manager that we had had no reply to three letters that we had previously delivered.

These protests, as well as putting pressure on HSBC, allow us to put our case to the general Sheffield public.  It also allows us to inform sympathisers of our next meeting.  In this case a talk by Ramzy Baroud 5pm Sunday March 18 at UMIX Centre 7 Asline Rd, Sheffield, S2 4UJ

Ramzy Baroud is an activist and author of My father was a Freedom Fighter.

Healing Centre


As well as public meetings we have smaller working groups.  On Thursday 22 February 2018  at Friends Meeting House we had one such meeting.  It was about the Khuza’a Healing Centre for children in Khuza’a. 

The more public part of the meeting was led off by Mona al-Farra who movingly described the work of Mecca, and Never Stop Dreaming.

Sheffield PSC, in cooperation with women from the Yemeni Association in Sheffield are constructing a play and healing centre in Khuza’a, aimed at helping traumatised children in the area and beyond. The project will be run by one of our partner children centres; Never Stop Dreaming in Khan Younis.

This is a hugely ambitious project.  The second half was aimed at some of the detailed work that we need to do to firstly to spread
 awareness of the need for the centre within the wider community of Sheffield and beyond and secondly to establish a steady stream of cash for the running of the centre.

Facts are important

Blog bullet points

On Saturday 17th February, I was, with others, giving out leaflets for the Stop the War Coalition meeting       ( 1st March at the Central United Reform Church 7pm. Our Chairman Mushier Al Farra is speaking).

We were approached by a young man who said he was opposed to what we were saying.  Given that we were arguing for peace, we were a little taken aback.  It turned out that he objected to one of the placards.  It said ‘Free Gaza’.  He then poured out a mass of pro-Israeli misinformation.  We could have just dismissed him as yet another misinformed Zionist bigot.  However given the vast misinformation in the media, we would dismiss a huge chunk of the British population if we adopted that approach. It was clear that we were not going to win him over to a solidarity position there and then.  What we did was to flag up where we disagreed.  We asked him to check a number of things that showed that Israel was an expansionist, racist state, that was oppressing the Palestinians.  It would have been nice if he had asked us to accept ‘facts’ that were uncomfortable to us.  He declined to do so.

This blog is intended to highlight some of the key facts that the Israeli propagandists and their supporters don’t like but cannot hide.

Israel was born with the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians.  The ethnic cleansing was well under way before any Arab army intervened.  See for example “Daniel Blatman, an Israeli historian and head of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, penned an op-ed for the Israeli daily Haaretz stating that ethnic cleansing “is exactly what happened in 1948.” To support this, “determined that most of the Arabs in the country, over 400,000, were encouraged to leave or expelled in the first stage of the war—even before the Arab nations’ armies invaded” or   The ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Illan Pappe  The UN passed a resolution stating that the Palestinian refugees should have a right of return to their homes.  This right was denied by Israel.

Israel is expansionist

Disappearing-PalestineL (From PSC)

Israel won wars in 1948 and 1967. It has expanded its illegal settlements ever since.  The UN security council stated1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;’ 2334 December 2016 

 Israel ignored the resolution and just over a month later announced a new settlement. 

There are between  600,000 and 800,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Israel has established an Apartheid state There is a definition here.   If there are separate laws, separate courts, separate areas, separate roads then there is Apartheid.  This is the ex Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel “In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state,”

A UN sub committee stated that “This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness  of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and  practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in  instruments of international law”.

Desmond Tutu: ‘U.S. Christians Must Recognize Israel as Apartheid State’

Israel kills far more children than Palestinians do.  The red bars show the number of Palestinian children dead .  The blue ones are Israeli children dead.


 Israel steals Palestinian water.

Israel won the war in 1967.  Its military dominance lets it take 80% of the water that Palestinians need.  Israelis get four-fifths of scarce West Bank water, says World Bank   

Blockade of Gaza “Gaza is a prison camp” Davis Cameron

“…the policy of blockade that preceded the operations and that in the Mission’s view amounts to collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip.” and “U.N. Goldstone report. “ and “deeds by the Israeli armed forces and words of military and political leaders prior to and during the operations indicate that, as a whole, they were premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed not at the enemy but at the “supporting infrastructure.” In practice, this appears to have meant the civilian population.” The Goldstone report.

We had hoped he would return a little less ill-informed and ready to continue the discussion.  Sadly, he did not.  I am putting this as a blog in the hope that he and other pro Zionists will read it.  I am human, I may have made a mistake.  Please point out any errors.  If you read it and find no errors, surely you should join us and demand justice for the Palestinians.

Dr Summerfield’s talk on Israeli Torture

Dr Paul Keleman

The campaign against medical complicity with Israel’s torture of Palestinians is ‘the best thing I have done in my career’, a senior academic psychiatrist told his audience in Sheffield at a meeting organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign.


Dr.Derek Summerfield has led a campaign to hold to account the medical professions’ cynical disregard of its most sacred ethic, ‘First do no harm’. He has helped to expose that members of the Israeli medical profession have been participating for decades in assisting and covering up the torture of Palestinian prisoners and, still worse, that the organisations which are meant to oversee that the medical profession upholds its professed ethical conduct and international humanitarian law, have turned a blind eye.

In 2016, 71 UK-based doctors made a fresh appeal to the UN’s World Medical Association (WMA) to act. This time, The submission pointed to the 2011 Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report, Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim: the Involvement  of the Medical Professionals in Torture and Ill treatment in Israel.  The report detailed the work of Israeli doctors in security units where torture of detainees was routine.


The WMA did not respond.  The British Medical Association’s leadership has responded by exonerating the Israeli Medical Association for failure to act over its members participation in torture. ‘Unfortunately,’ Derek notes,  ‘as the case with Israel illustrates, the WMA seems unwilling to act against those with powerful friends like the US. It is far less hesitant in raising concerns with other less powerful countries like Iran or Bahrain, to name but two.’

See Derek Summerfield’s article on the battle against the medical establishment’s collusion in the torture of Palestinian prisoners:


Packed Meeting listens to Dr Summerfield


Over 60 people came to listen to the talk by Dr Summerfield.  It was a very detailed and clear.  He documented  the role of the complicity in torture of Palestinians by the Israeli Medical establishment.  We will provide links for further information as soon as we have them.

We call for an end to oppression we get Emily Thornbury’s insult

I sent this in to the Guardian letters as a response to Emily Thornbury.


Emily Thornbury in Thursday’s guardian called those of us who call for Boycott, Sanctions and disinvestment against Israel as supporting bigotry.  When a politician is reduced to name calling her opponents rather than seriously discussing the issues, it belittles her and raises questions about the weakness of the case she is trying to put.

It is not an individual Israeli Government that we oppose.  It is only those Governments which illegally confiscate Palestinian land, ignore UN resolutions and support ethnic cleansing, and the establishment of an Apartheid regime in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  (We could also add making Gaza into a huge prison camp, stealing Palestinian water and build weapons of mass destruction).  That would seem to be every Israeli Government for at least the last fifty years.

For international comparisons Iraq was invaded for having stolen land from Kuwait.  Sanctions were imposed on Iraq because it was accused (falsely) of building weapons of mass destruction.  It was then invaded on the same false accusation.

Sanctions were placed on Russia because it was seen to be stealing Ukrainian land (the Crimea and Donetsk area).   (The wishes of the locals have apparently no bearing on the issue.)

‘Tough even brutal’ sanctions were placed on Iran because it was thought to be developing nuclear weapons.

Israel has developed nuclear weapons.  It has also stolen land.  It has constantly defied the UN.  Like South Africa is has established an Apartheid state (in East Jerusalem and the West Bank).

We do not advocate hatred.  We do not advocate boycott of individual Israeli academics.  We are simply responding to a call from hundreds of Palestinian organisations who ask us to help them get basic justice and an end to Israeli racism.

They asked us to do something non violent to help them get basic human rights.  They asked us to boycott Israeli goods, disinvest in Israel, and impose sanctions.

When we respond to the call by a deeply oppressed people, we expect abuse from the Tories (who supported South African Apartheid).  To be accused of bigotry by a senior member of the Labour Party is a poor reflection on that party.