All posts by Dick Pitt

Khusa Healing Centre Launch

From Musheir El Farra Chair Sheffield PSC:
The children of Khuza’a and neighbouring areas need our support . They have been subjected to terrifying incursions and bombings by the Israeli army. Hundreds of children in Kuza’a and neighbouring area are still suffering from psychological trauma.

We have finished the construction of the centre; a small building; it’s currently functioning as a play and heal area for children. We hope that with your help we will be able to develop it to have a professional programme for helping children.
We plan to employ two child psychologists and play activists and a care taker; under the supervision of Dr Usammah Frenah; the director of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme; in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Middle Eastern Children Alliance MECCA agreed to match whatever amount we raise towards starting this very important project. See reports on this project here.
If you would like to donate, please use this account: SPACE (Sheffield Palestine Cultural Exchange). Account number: 33129312. Sort Code: 05 08 18

Beita – the fight for their land

I have been active in politics for a long time and been to many meetings.  The Zoom live link on Friday, to one of the weekly demonstrations by Beita villagers by which Sheffield PSC, Scottish PSC and Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine were able to act as witnesses and discuss with Palestinians grassroot activists was one of the most moving in my life.

An Israeli settlers’ group decided to occupy a hilltop near Beita.  They have no legal ownership of the land.  Not under International law, not under Palestinian law not even under Israeli law.  There are no state or regional plans that show an Israeli settlement.  These ultra-nationalists believe the Palestinians have no rights in Palestine.  They simply started building.  The Israeli Army has been told to demolish the settlement.  The settlers file applications, submit plans, add buildings, appeal to the Israeli courts.  The owners of the land, the people from the village of Beita strongly object to their land being stolen so they protest.  The army automatically sides with the illegal settlers.  The result is that Palestinians get killed, including children.

An Israeli settlement at Beita further carves up the West Bank and would provide a useful link between the illegal settlement of Ariel and the illegal Israeli controlled Jordan valley.  It would also cut the link from Nablus to Ramallah and the south.

What was remarkable about Friday’s programme was that we were taken to one of the regular protests.  We could see the tear gas rising from the valley where the soldiers were positioned.

We could speak* to ordinary Palestinians of all ages who expressed their dignified resistance to the injustice they faced.

They did not hate Jews.  They had not used violence.  They were determined. What was happening was simply wrong and they wanted the world to know.

While the Palestinians did not use violence the Israeli army did.

Since 1967, the villagers have suffered 87 deaths in the face of live fire from the Israeli military. In May, two teenagers, Mohammed Said Mohammed Hamayel (16) and his friend Ahmad Zahi Ibrahim Bani-Shamsa (15) were shot dead by Israeli fire. Six children have been killed in Beita in the last year.

This in a microcosm is what is happening across the whole of Palestine.  In Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, in Al Araqib, Umm al Hiran, Hebron and so on.  Israel does this because it is militarily and economically stronger.  Israel does it because it is shielded from criticism.  The Tory government gives military, economic and diplomatic support for Israel, while the Labour Party leadership act as cheerleaders.  The various “friends of Israel” give it financial, legal, and vocal support. 

Today very few people own up to having supported South African Apartheid.  There will come a time when very few will support Israeli Apartheid.  It is ugly and it is inhuman.  No doubt some of the cheerleaders for Israel will say “we never knew that it was so bad”. 
Read reports and join PSC.

  •  We owe a huge gratitude to Musheir El Farra, Chair of Sheffield PSC, who translated from Arabic to English.
  • The Peace now movement has written a moving peice.
  • The New York Times has a report.

BBC buries article

From time to time, I have gone through the tedious but necessary task of picking up the BBC’ bias over Israel’s dominance of the Palestinians.  This article is riddled with systemic bias.[i]  There is one sentence that, to me, sums up the attitude of the pro-Israeli report.  The issue is the 600,000 Israeli Jews who have settled in the West Bank.  “Palestinians say these are illegal under international law and are obstacles to peace, but Israel denies this.”

 It is not the Palestinians that say that the settlement process is illegal but the UK, UN the USA and EU and most others who have thought about it.  It is an astonishing piece of false reporting.  It is the reduction of international law to one of merely opinion.  So I, and many others, complain.

But what do you do when it produces nothing?

In June the official UN observer to the Middle East,  Michael Lynk said, “in my report, I conclude that the Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime”. “I submit to you that this finding compels the international community … to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free,”[ii] he added.

So what did the BBC say on this blunt correction of misreporting?  Nothing.  How can we complain against misreporting when there is nothing there?

How does the BBC decide what is worth reporting and what is not?  Now it may be that influence comes from the Chairman who is from the establishment[iii], and the establishment CEO[iv].  It may be that the Government sees Israel as a strategic ally and does not wish its war crimes drawn attention to.[v]  It may be the journalists are ardent Zionists or cowed by the boss’s views.  It may be that they fought to report it and lost.  I just do not know.

I decided to see if there was a paper trail.   How was Lynk’s report went unreported by the BBC?

The story

GENEVA (9 July 2021) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, today called on the international community to designate the creation of Israeli settlements as a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” [vi]

My question “Was it reported on the BBC?” and “I would like copies of any e-mails relating to how it should be reported”.

This is what I got back

“Part VI of Schedule 1 to the Act provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature’. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities”

I don’t think it takes much creativity to bury a story.


[i] (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-44124396).

[ii] UN Rights Expert: Israeli Settlements Amount to a War Crime – AOHRUK

[iii] Richard Sharp has given more than £400,000 to the Conservative Party

[iv] Tim Davie was chair Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative party

[v] “We will also build upon our close security partnerships, including with Israel and Saudi Arabia, to better protect our interests in the region.”  From defence paper

[vi] OHCHR | Occupied Palestinian Territory: Israeli settlements should be classified as war crimes, says UN expert

Public Meeting

Palestinian protesters argue with Israeli soldiers during clashes in the West Bank village of Beita, near Nablus May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Battle for Beita: Resisting Colonization

Seeds Association for Development and Culture supported by Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine and Scottish PSC  invite you to a webinar:

Friday 16thJuly 5pm BST/7pm Palestine

Speakers: activists from Beita, Palestine and Sheffield

The village of Beita near Nablus in the West Bank is resisting Israel’s objective to fragment the Palestinian population into isolated cantons. An Israeli settler outpost is seeking to cut off the road between Nablus and Ramallah. Since 1967, the villagers have suffered 87 deaths in the face of live fire from the Israeli military. In May, two teenagers, Mohammed Said Mohammed Hamayel (16) and his friend Ahmad Zahi Ibrahim Bani-Shamsa (15) were shot dead by Israeli fire. Six people have been killed in Beita this year as Israeli war crimes against unarmed civilians escalate throughout Palestine.

Beita activists will give a first hand account of their struggle and discuss ways to link with the international solidarity movement to hold Israel accountable.

Vigil on Saturday

After the protests – What do we do. Webinar Wednesday 2nd June 7pm.

Today’s attacks on Palestinians are nothing new and, when this wave subsides, Palestinians will still be oppressed and persecuted by Israel within an apartheid regime.

BUT the international outcry is huge, people are with the Palestinians, and we can all make a difference, not just today but for the longer struggle for justice.  The aim of this meeting is to give you a view of Sheffield PSC’s current activities with the idea that others can join those current activities and perhaps make suggestions for new ones.  

To see the agenda of the meeting go here.

To register to join the meeting go here.

BBC – mis representation- what do we do?

There have been some really impressive demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians, congratulations to everyone who attended.  Such demonstrations will be seen in Palestine, and let Palestinians know that they are not forgotten.   They will inspire others to take part.

But there are other forces at work. Expecting the Murdoch press to tell the truth about Israel, is like expecting Murdoch tell the truth about climate change, or to phone up the six thousand printers he sacked to apologise, and offer financial recompense.  However, we pay for the BBC.  It is supposed to be honest and impartial.  I am sure that I am not the only one who looks or listens to the reporting of Palestine on the BBC with disgust.

A long time ago I gave up complaining to the BBC.  They are largely judge and jury of their own conduct.  Even if a complaint is found valid the BBC policies remain.

However, some of us need to go through the procedures, just so that we can say they knew what they were doing when they covered up Israeli Apartheid.

This is my complaint about an interview with an Israeli spokesperson

1. The Israeli spokesman said Hamas too over Gaza Strip in 2007.
In fact Hamas won the 2006 election. He was not challenged.
2. He stated that Hamas did not want a two state solution.
In fact the Israeli policy of support for the illegal settlements have made a two state solution impossible. (He was not challenged)
3. He stated that Israel has the right to defend itself.
The interviewer refused to ask whether the Palestinians had the same right.
4. He stated that Israel had no soldiers in the Gaza strip.
In fact Israel operates targeted assassinations, a blockade in land sea and air.
5. He was not asked about the Human Rights Watch report that stated that Israel operated Apartheid practices against Palestinians. This would help explain why Palestinians in Israel, Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank are protesting.  

 What do we do about media?

  1.  Use all the alternative media that we can.  Websites, webinars, Facebook, twitter WhatsApp…..
  2. Sheffield PSC is offering small groups Zoom sessions on what you can do.  Write to us if you are interested.
  3. In my opinion, at some stage we should protest at BBC

We also need to make our own case for the Palestinians this is my poem.

 Sheffield PSC Zoom meeting

“Standing with Palestinians: What we can do.”

 Open Zoom meeting Wednesday June 2nd at 7.00pm.

Check our Facebook page for the Eventbrite link