All posts by Dick Pitt

Webinar: talk by Dr.Zuhair Sabbagh, Birzeit University

With the kleptocrats of the UAE and Bahrain signing up to the Trump agneda is the Middle East and some other Arab leaders likely to follow suit, what is the way forward for the Palestinian struggle and for the international solidarity movement?

Sheffield PSC in co operation with Scottish PSC.

Thursday 24 September at 7 PM British time

Zoom link will be indicated soon.

Protesters shut down Israeli arms factory

Lichfield Live reported on 14th September:

Activists who have launched a rooftop protest in Shenstone say they have done so “for the sake of human rights, justice and freedom”.

The members of Palestine Action scaled the UAV Engines site in the early hours of this morning (14th September), while others chained themselves to the gates of the factory.

They also poured red paint down the building in a move they said was to “symbolise Palestinian blood shed” as a result of parts made at the site being used in drones manufactured by Elbit Systems for use by Israel.

A spokesperson for Palestine Action said:

“The UK government has been complicit in the colonisation of Palestine for over 100 years.

“Now they continue to profit from, sustain and facilitate Israel’s apartheid regime.

“While our Government continues to turn a blind eye to Elbit Systems continuing to arm Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people, we too will continue to disrupt and take direct action for the sake of human rights, justice and freedom.

“We call on all those who stand against racism and for humanity to take action, join us and shut Elbit down for good.”

Palestine Action spokesperson

The protesters – who say they are part of a grassroots network of activists – say they have held 15 actions to target the work of organisations involved in the manufacturing of drones in the last month.

“These drones include the military drones Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 which were employed extensively during the 51 day attack on Gaza in 2014, which killed over 2,200 Palestinians including 500 children.

“UAV Engines produce the engines for Elbit drones.”

Self Demolition

Suppose you were told, say by the council, that your house was going to be demolished for no reason except that it contravened a new planning act. How would you respond?
Now suppose that the council told you that you must demolish your own house. What would it take for you to do it?

Well the villagers in Al Araqib, in the Negev desert, were told precisely that. They refused and the state demolished their village.

They have lived there under Ottoman and British and Israeli laws. They have documentation showing land ownership. Their graveyard is over a hundred years old, yet the Israeli courts have ruled that they are squatters and their dwellings are illegal.

It is surely a crime that their village was destroyed to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest and a new all Jewish settlement.

Even worse an Israeli court ruled that because they did not destroy their own homes they must pay a fine.

“The residents of Al-Araqib, which has been demolished over 100 times since 2010, must pay 262,000 shekels (over $72,000) for the demolition costs and an additional 100,000 shekels for the expenses of the state’s lawyer.”

A report from the Negev Coexistence Forum came out dated July 2010. It contains the following :

‘Self-demolitions’ are carried out by the owners of the structures themselves, after a demolition order has been issued. The Southern Administration defines ‘self-demolitions’ as a direct result of “dialogue and investigations conducted by the Yoav [special police force].” This definition is puzzling, since investigations and file initiations are not related in any way to dialogue. On the contrary, the presence of police forces and the fear of criminal sanctions that can be imposed on the owners of the structures creates great trauma for the Bedouin residents. The desire to avoid this trauma, the possibility of saving personal equipment and construction materials in a controlled demolition, and threats from authorities demanding reparation for demolition costs from the owners, are just some of the reasons why people decide to demolish themselves.

What sort of Government evicts you from your home and forces you to demolish it?

Sumarin -update

Statement on Court Decision on Sumarin Family Eviction from StopJNFCampaign

On Tuesday 30th June, an Israeli court ruled that the ownership of the Sumarin family home in Silwan, East Jerusalem, was legally transferred to Israeli state under the discredited Absentees’ Property Law, and that the eviction notice against the family was therefore valid. Further, the
court ruled that if the family did not leave the property by August 16th then force could be used to dispossess them.
This ruling clears the way for the eviction of the family.
Eight years ago, Seth Morrison, former Director of JNF USA wrote:
“I have learned that the action on the Sumarin home is not an isolated case. JNF has gained ownership of other Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and, in many instances, then transferred these properties through its subsidiaries to Elad, a settler organization whose purpose is to “Judaize” East Jerusalem. In my eyes, the expulsion of the Sumarin family is a violation of human rights. But it is also part of the systematic transfer of Palestinian property to ideological settlers who wish to put facts on
the ground that hinder a lasting peace agreement.”

Seth Morrison reaffirmed his condemnation of the JNF this month.
“The eviction of a family that owned the land before Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, is illegal under international law, a grave violation of the Sumarin family’s human rights, and part of Israel’s project to alter the demographics of East Jerusalem by driving Palestinians out, while
giving financial and political support to illegal Jewish-only settlements.”
The international community must act. From 16th August 2020, the Israeli authorities can forcefully evict the family.
We call on human rights activists to:

  1. Write to your MP and ask them to sign Early Day Motion 529.
  2. Get your trade union branch, political party branch, or community group to endorse the
    campaign.
  3. Put up messages of support for the Sumarin family on social media under the #JNFDontEvict

SumarinsMustStay

  1. We are organising a protest in Sheffield in front of the Town Hall on Saturday 15th August 12 noon, bring a mask and stay separated. (The family is appealing to the supreme court against this decision. The court may allow an appeal or not. We will keep you informed.)
  2. We also draw your attention to the request by the Sumarin Coalition to contribute to the costs of mounting an appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court ($40,000). The family also face a massive fine and may have to pay for their own eviction.

Israel and the police

Long Bailey sacked, Roger Walters sent an apology over the idea that Israeli police taught US police how to abuse and humiliate Blacks.

Firstly how is that idea supporting an ‘anti Semitic trope’.

Let us start with classic anti Semitism. They claim “Jews are responsible for all the evils of the world. They killed Jesus. They created and control Capitalism. They control the media. They created Communism and are key personnel in all the radical organisations.”

People who assert that anti Semitism has evolved into anti Israel attitudes claim that all that has happened is that evils of the world are caused by Israel as opposed to Jews.

The British colonies were using slaves, and slaughtering native Americans before the USA was born in 1783. The USA was born racist to the core. Israel was born in 1948. The notion that Israel taught US policemen how to be racist, how to humiliate blacks is clearly a nonsense.

It is tied to another idea that Israel (by its alleged control of money, and by its alleged control of the media) controls the USA. Israel has a population of about 8 million people. The USA has a population of about 300 million.

Let us look at a bit of history. In the start of the 19th century, the dominant power in the world was France. Napoleon was the first leader in 1000 years to propose a Jewish State. In the mid century the British Empire was the dominant power. Within the Empire evangelical Christians like Shaftsbury (his stepmother was married to Palmerston) were agitating for a Jewish state in Palestine. In WW1 Balfour and the British cabinet saw the immediate needs of winning the war, undermining the Bolsheviks, evangelical ideas and getting support from USA all combined in favour of a Jewish state.

Churchill wrote “Of course, Palestine is far too small to accommodate more than a fraction of the Jewish race, nor do the majority of national Jews wish to go there. But if, as may well happen, there should be created in our own lifetime by the banks of the Jordan a Jewish State under the protection of the British Crown, which might comprise three or four millions of Jews, an event would have occurred in the history of the world which would, from every point of view, be beneficial, and would be especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire.”

The USA replaced Britain. The point is that the driving and controlling force is the United States. Nine out of ten Zionists are Christians. There is a huge lobby in support of Israel – it is the Christian right. Nixon was notoriously anti Semitic, but US geo political interests and internal pressure led him to support Israel.

So once we have a proper perspective on power balance between Israel and the USA we get a better idea of the truth. The occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank has meant that Israeli military style police has developed skills in controlling a significant angry minority. For example, Israel makes 60% of the world’s drones. Its technology is reported to have been used to aid the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. There is an impressive document on this issue from Jewish Voices for Peace. It is important to note that other police forces do want that expertise.

Portraying Israel as the source of all repression is not helpful.

A cool look at Israel’s racist policing strategy, should be enough to end the use of Israel to train other police forces.

See this for the PSC response

There are links between UK police and Israeli police.

Why are Sheffield MP’s silent

When I first moved to Sheffield, it had a proud boast. It was the Socialist republic of South Yorkshire.

Today, the MPs are still mostly Labour, but the politics on at least one issue are a disgrace.

It is official British Policy under Labour, Liberal Tory Coalition and the recent Tory Governments that Israel occupies East Jerusalem and the West Bank illegally. The policy of slow ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem is hence both racist and illegal. So the Jewish National Fund’s attempt to use an Israeli Court to evict the Sumarin family from their home should unite pretty much all MPs in opposition.

There is an Early Day Motion 529 for MPs to sign. It states

That this House strongly condemns the ongoing attempts of the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) to evict the Sumarin family from their home in East Jerusalem; recognises this within a broader context of the Israeli government’s efforts to demographically alter the population of Jerusalem, and the controversial use of Israel’s Absentee Property Law to dispossess Palestinians of their land; notes the Sumarin family have lived at their property, with deeds of ownership, for over fifty years; reiterates that ethnic cleansing is one of the most serious crimes, and that the UK is committed to upholding international law; urgently requests the Government to intervene on behalf of the Sumarin family, and calls on the Charity Commission to review the charitable status of JNF UK.

We can appeal to anti racism, basic international law, humanitarianism, solidarity, basic human compassion to get Sheffield MPs to sign. Ian Blackford, a front bench spokesman for the Scottish National Party has signed it as has 43 [PS 54 Sat 20th] others yet no Sheffield MP has signed.

Perhaps they have discussed it and will sign as a block, for bigger impact. The court case that is coming up is on 30th June. They need to sign quickly or it will be too late.

You can ask them to sign here.

PS Sat 24th June Sheffield Labour MPs have turned out to be not so silent !

Louise Haigh, Paul Blomfield, Clive Betts, Gill Furniss, and Olivia Blake have written to the Secretary of State Dominic FCA Raab to ask him to make representations to object to the eviction of the Sumarin family.

Black Lives Matter Palestinian lives Matter

Derek Chauvin was the Minneapolis policeman who killed George Floyd on 25th May. Donald Trump stated that the policeman snapped. But he didn’t, the videos show a casual sense of entitlement from a white policeman using extreme force on a non resisting black man. Alarmed passers by were telling Chauvin that what he was doing was dangerous. The policeman’s experience of 18 years on the force and 18 complaints was that he was doing nothing wrong and there would be no serious consequences.

Five days later, half a world away another group of policemen confronted Iyad Halak. Iyad was autistic and on his way to a special school in East Jerusalem. For over 50 years Israeli police have exercised unquestioned power over the local population. They have presided over the steady displacing of Palestinians by ethnic Jews. Iyad’s carer told the police in Hebrew and in Arabic that he was autistic. They yelled at him, he panicked and ran, so they shot him. When he was wounded on the floor they killed him. Netanyahu said sorry and the world looked away.

On Saturday there was a massive demonstration in Sheffield under the banner of Black Lives Matter. Ours was part of a worldwide wave of protest that is challenging ingrained assumptions of the powerful. Slave owners should be reviled rather than holding pride of place in our public squares. Chauvin is being charged with murder and the other three policemen with aiding and abetting murder.

I believe that the movement that is bringing justice to the killers of George Floyd by challenging racism can help bring justice for the Palestinians.

For fifty years Israel has been taking Palestinian land and water. Its military have killed with impunity. Against the bckground of Israel threatening more land confiscation – and this time on a massive scale – Palestinian family, in East Jerusalem, is due to be evicted from its home in two weeks time. The Sumarin family lived continuously in the family home from before Israel overran East Jerusalem in 1967. The only justification for it is that they are Palestinians.  It is part of a land grab by the Jewish National Fund and a settler organisation. The Israeli Government is planning to annex the Jordan valley, taking yet more land. It sees no problem in this.

Britain has supported Israel since the Balfour declaration in 1917. Its official position is that the Israeli settlements are illegal under International Law. Its practice is to give diplomatic, military and economic aid to Israel. Pressure from below will be needed to turn nominal opposition to Israeli land thefts to real opposition.

Early Day Motion 529 opposes the eviction of the Sumarin family. So far it has 60 MPs. supporting it.

You can ask your MP to sign here.

You can see a film explaining the issues here.

Email your MP: Stop Eviction of Sumarin family – Support Sumarin Coalition

Members of the Sumarin family pose for a photo at their East Jerusalem home, March 23, 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Solidarity from people in Sheffield with the Sumarin family – part of a growing internationa; mobilisation by civil society groups against Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

“While the JNF says it is only trying to protect its property, it is acting as a proxy for settler groups in this and similar cases. Months ago, a Palestinian family living on ground owned by the JNF near Bethlehem was evacuated following a request by the organization: several days later,a settler outpost was set up in the same spot. The practical effect of the JNF’s campaign against the Sumreens is that this family of 18, guilty of no crime and accused of no wrongdoing, may soon find itself without a home, bereft and bankrupt. ” Rabbi Michael Marmur.

Support the Sumarin Coalition – write a letter to the JNF Here

See the Sumarin Coalition film.

We are asking you to write a letter to your MP.

Webinar series on JNF UK 4pm, first Saturday of each month. Next on June 6th.

Join expert guest speakers in a monthly webinar series to explore the role of the Jewish National Fund in Palestinian dispossession.

A short film by Angela Martin that is an excellent introduction on the JNF’s project in Palestine is available at https://vimeo.com/418202311

To book go to Eventbrite:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stop-the-jewish-national-fund-uk-webinar-series-tickets-102250487962

https://www.facebook.com/events/591693741434291/

About this Event

Join guest speakers and experts in a monthly webinar series to explore the role of the Jewish National Fund in the historic and ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. From the Nakba to today, the JNF has been a key agent in the colonization of Palestine. We will also explore how the JNF has helped to forge the racist ideology of the state of Israel, financing a discriminatory system whilst, at the same time, being accorded charitable status across the world. The campaign against the JNF likewise reaches across the world – we invite you to join us , wherever you are, in this campaign for justice.

You will receive instructions on how to join via e-mail.

Saturday 2nd May: What is the JNF (Jewish National Fund)?

The JNF functions as an arm of the Israeli state, yet presents as a charity in scores of countries. Our expert guests will discuss the JNF as a pioneer of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and its ongoing activities to expel Palestinians from their homes. We’ll look at the JNF’s claims to act on behalf of Jews worldwide and show how this racist organisation can be challenged wherever you are.

Saturday 6th June: The JNF as a Pillar of Israeli Apartheid (1948-1967)

This webinar will reveal the part played by the JNF in this momentous period: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the seizure of Palestinian land, the erasure of evidence of this land theft and the prevention of Palestinians’ Right of Return. With eminent authorities, we will also explore the ways in which the JNF helped to forge the racist ideology and practices of the emerging state of Israel.

Saturday 4th July: The JNF as a Pillar of Israeli Apartheid (1967-present)

Once established as a parastatal organisation, the JNF has continued to facilitate Israel’s apartheid system. This webinar will focus on the Naqab, and the JNFs role in contemporary land confiscation.

Saturday 1st August: From Prawer to the JNF 2040 Plan

The JNF was involved in ethnic cleansing of the Negev through the Prawer Plan. Now, the JNF has an ambitious 2040 Plan to settle 1.5 million Israelis in the Galilee and Negev through the development of hi-tech industries. In the Negev, where destruction of Bedouin villages continues, the 2040 Plan involves collaboration with IDF Technology Units, including the notorious Unit 8200 which spies on Palestinians.

September 5th 2020: Nexus of Forces Allied with the JNF

To advance the Zionist movement’s conquest of land strategy, the JNF has relied on extensive fundraising among Jewish communities abroad, allowing the Israeli state to shift more of its resources to its military sector. In this session we examine the methods deployed by Western governments, the JNF and pro-Israel lobby groups to shield the Israeli state from criticism and actions coming from the BDS movement. We aim to explain how the JNF and its extensions in various countries pass off ethnic cleansing as charitable and explore ways to oppose them.

October 3rd 2020: Greenwashing and the JNF

Environmentalists beware. The JNF, which was established for the purposes of colonial dispossession, and has been executing ethnic cleansing for over 100 years, has re-branded itself as the “oldest green organization in the world” and is infiltrating the environmental movement. From biodiversity conservation to energy generation, from water conservation to climate change, the JNF has been causing environmental devastation and greenwashing crimes against the Palestinian people.

Please note: the running order of the webinars after July may be subject to modification.

Speakers Include:

Salman Abu Sitta, groundbreaking Palestinian researcher and historian

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement

Jonathan Cook, journalist based in Nazareth

Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian and activist.

Ghada Karmi, Palestinian doctor, author and academic.

Joseph Schechlacoordinator of Habitat International Coalition’s Housing and Land Rights Network.

Kholoud al-Ajarma, Palestinian activist

Aziz al Touri (pre-recorded), activist from al-Araqib

Shir Hever, economic researcher and author

The Stop the JNF UK campaign is part of an international campaign to end the Jewish National Fund ‘s role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. It is made up of a coalition of activists from Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

Newsletter

We hope all our supporters are well in these difficult times.

We have just sent out a newsletter highlighting the Covid epidemic as it hits Gaza. Sadly the current link for sending money to Middle East Children’s Alliance, our preferred long time partners, will not work from this country. We urge all our members and supporters who wish to donate, please do it via Medical Aid for Palestinians

Other Items in the newsletter are the plight of Palestinian Prisoners in the time of Covid 19, the continuing campaign to Give Puma the Boot and the coming day of protest on the Naqba.

We have printed a report on our work with children’s projects in Gaza which your support has enabled. We cannot distribute these at present but it is available here.

The newsletter is available here.