All posts by Dick Pitt

Protest Gaza Shootings 28th May

satprotestmay_edited-1

This is from Saturday’s protest.  The media continue to refuse to publish the shooting of unarmed protesters in Gaza.  Even the killing of unarmed children goes unreported.    Those of us who believe that it is the right of all human beings to live in peace and dignity  must campaign to ensure that our media and our ‘leaders’ end their silence.  On Saturday 12th May there will be a protest on the 70th anniversary of the Naqba.   It has been 70 years of  oppression and injustice which has led to today’s Israeli Apartheid.   Come, tell your friends, workmates, and family.

12 noon,12th May,  Sheffield Town Hall

Paul Keleman – On trying to silence the left on Palestine

 

Paul  Kelemen
3 April 2018

The author wishes it to be clear that he is not a member of the Labour Party


What has unfurled this vehement denunciation of the left for antisemitism?  Only a few months ago, the largest survey on attitudes in Britain to Jews and Israel was published by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR).  It concluded that a ‘relatively small group of the general population can justifiably be described as antisemitic’ and that ‘the very left-wing are, on the whole, no more antisemitic than the general population, but neither are they less antisemitic’. A still more recent YouGov survey shows that since Jeremy Corbyn has been the Labour party leader, antisemitism has declined among Labour voters.  Whereas, for example, in 2015, 22 percent of Labour voters agreed with the suggestion that ‘Jews chase money more than other people’, this had declined in 2017 to 14%.

Among Conservative voters, the decline over the same period to this question was much smaller and the overall levels of prejudice much higher: 31 percent in 2015, and 27 percent in 2017. Opinion polls give, at best, a rough assessment and opinions are fluid but the decline of antisemitism among Labour voters probably results from younger people, more at ease with multiculturalism, indentifying, in greater numbers, with Labour since Corbyn has become leader.  Whatever the reason, it belies the ideological assault to drum into public consciousness that the party and its supporters released from the grip of New Labour’s rightwing agenda are descending into antisemitic bigotry.

If, indeed,  antisemitism had been the principal concern of  those Jewish community leaders and  Labour MPs who now condemn Corbyn for being ‘soft ‘ on antisemitism, they would surely be demanding action not only from the Labour leader but from May and other leaders of the political right.  Or, if they want to seriously address the issue of antisemitism, they would be looking to build broad support for it by pointing to the connection between antisemitism and other forms of racism.  There is potential for alliances.  As the IJPR report noted, there are much higher levels of hostility in Britain to Muslims.

The eagerness with which the charge of left-wing antisemitism has been seized on by the right of the Labour party has naturally lead to the conclusion that this issue has been inflated to weaken and preferably replace Jeremy Corbyn.  Yet, this is only one of the ingredients.  For the pro-Israeli lobby, which is  the main driving force in this campaign, Corbyn would be merely collateral damage.  Since assuming the party leadership, Corbyn, has tried to fend off criticism of his past sympathy for the Palestinian cause by reaffirming, mainly through Emily Thornberry, the party’s shadow foreign affairs minister, Labour’s commitment to the two-state solution – a convenient fiction to perpetuate international collusion in Israel’s policy of dispossessing and marginalising the Palestinian people. Thornberry has accompanied her repeated affirmations of Labour’s historic support for a Jewish state in Palestine by eulogising Israel’s ‘egalitarianism’, not withstanding the well documented discrimination between Israelis and the Palestinians both in Israel and in the West Bank. The inequality is inseparable from the Zionist project of taking over the land and supplanting the indigenous population in favour of Jewish settlement.  In 1948,  just 8 percent of the territory that is now Israel belonged to Zionist organisations and the rest to the Arabs. Today, the Israeli state or the Jewish citizens of Israel to whom the state has allocated land, own 97 percent and the same process of dispossessing the Palestinians of their land is far advanced in the West Bank through the settlement expansion. However, for the pro-Israeli lobby, Labour’s call for the British government to recognise a Palestinian state, even a feeble and mini,  is undesirable and what it dreads still more is that a Corbyn led government, under left-wing pressure, may break the longstanding Western consensus in favour of unconditional support for Israel

Interviewed on Channel 4 News (29 March), Tony Blair, indicated the source of the alarm. He identified the radical left as responsible for the Labour party’s alleged antisemitism:  ‘their position on Israel goes far beyond criticising the Israeli government and actually criticises the existence of the state’.  Yet,  opposing the current constitutional form of the Israeli state, in which anti-Palestinian discrimination is inscribed,  is no more racist than it was to oppose the institutional arrangements that produced the South African apartheid state or the Protestant domination of the Ulster state. The radical left’s critique of the Israeli state can accommodate Israel’s Jewish population’s self-determination, stripped of its exclusiveness and anti-Arab racism.   It merely circumscribes the limits within which that democratic right can be practised in order that it does not negate the national rights of the indigenous people.

The frenzied campaign that purports to have detected  a tidal wave of leftwing antisemitism is aimed at closing down debate on Israel’s continuing settlement expansion and military occupation that is fragmenting the Palestinian population into ghettos, fenced off behind walls, barriers and army checkpoints and deprived of land, water, adequate housing, medical services and opportunities for work.   The besieged and impoverished people of Gaza who these last few days have been confronting the Israeli army to demand an end to their invisibility, need international support. The left far from allowing its solidarity with the Palestinians to be delegitimised and criminalised, must redouble its campaign in their support.

 

Protest 14.4.2018

solidarityprotest

About 50 people came to the protest in solidarity with the protesters in Gaza.  Israel has killed about 36 unarmed protesters over the last few weeks.  They are demanding a basic human right,  the right of return to their homes, in what is now Israel.  Unarmed protests are met with gunfire.  More pictures are here.

Protest Saturday 7th April

IMG_4153 IMG_4161On Saturday 7th April

Sheffield PSC called a protest against the killing of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators by Israel.  We combined this with protests against HSBC.  This bank makes a profit from the arms trade with Israel.  There are more pictures here.  It is Israel’s overwhelming military superiority and the lack of serious condemnation by the UK, the USA  and the UN that make Israel believe that it can get away with murder.

Opposition to racism

The story is that Freud told a woman that she was obsessed with sex but was in denial.  “No I am not” came the indignant reply.  “See you are in denial” replied Freud smugly.

The British Board of deputies accuse the left of anti-Semitism but claim we are in denial.  Those of us on the left deny it strongly.  Our accusers nod knowingly “see they are in denial”.

A Jewish research group showed “Levels of anti Semitism among those on the left-wing of the political spectrum, including the far-left, are indistinguishable from those found in the general population.”

And “The most anti-Semitic group on the political spectrum consists of those who identify as very right-wing: the presence of anti-Semitic attitudes in this group is 2 to 4 times higher compared to the general population.”

So why is the Board of Deputies attacking the Labour Party rather than the right wing of the Tory Party or UKIP?  The answer is the issue of Israel.  The letter that the Board of Deputies sent to Corbyn contains the following sentence.

“The Party should circulate the IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, to all members and branches. The Party should work with mainstream Jewish community organisations to develop and implement education about antisemitism.”

IHRA gives an example of  anti-Semitism  “by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”.  We have nearly seventy years since the establishment of Israel.  Its land policies, water policies, development policies, immigration policies are racist.  That is not an anti-Semitic slur, it is an evidence-based observation.

So when the British Board of Deputies wrote about rooting out Anti Semitism in the Labour Party they meant rooting out Palestine solidarity.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign has expelled people who let anti Israel sentiments merge with anti Semitism.  Their ideas are offensive in themselves. They are also gold dust for people who support Israel. We will expel others if and when they appear.

We are not about to let supporters of Israel lecture us on how to combat racism.

Protest against the killings in Gaza 12 noon Saturday 7th April Sheffield Town Hall

Gaza-land-day-2-300x169At least 15 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,400 others wounded by Israeli forces as thousands marched near Gaza’s border with Israel in a major demonstration marking the 42nd anniversary of Land Day.

Israeli forces fired live ammunition at protesters and used tear gas to push them back from a heavily fortified fence, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Adalah, a legal centre for Palestinian rights in Israel, condemned the Israeli army’s use of force and stated:

“Live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants.”

The demonstration commemorates Land Day, which marks the day – March 30, 1976 – when six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces during protests against the Israeli government’s decision to expropriate massive tracts of Palestinian land.

End Arms sales to Israel/ Boycott Israeli goods/ don’t invest in Israel/help get the Government to put sanctions on Israel

Protest at Sheffield Hallam

proteststud

On March 7th Omar Kiswani , chairman of the student union at Birzeit University was kidnapped by an armed Israeli undercover unit.  The newly registered Sheffield Hallam Palestine Solidarity Society called  a protest last Tuesday.  (See photo)

What would be the media coverage if armed soldiers from any other country in the world kidnapped a student leader from a university in a neighbouring country?

The violent kidnapping by Israel of a Palestinian was business as usual for the media.  Like the theft of land, like the theft of water, and like the establishment of an Apartheid regime.  Israel is backed by the USA and Britain so whatever it does is accepted by the media.

Like the South African Apartheid, this tolerance of the intolerable will only end when enough ordinary people stand up and demand that it ends.

Why Palestinian Memory Matters

ramzy

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.