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The Labour party, antisemitism and the Media

Justin Schlosberg

7pm Wednesday 18th March 2020

The HUBS,

Paternoster Row, S1 2QQ

Justin Schlosberg is a media activist, researcher and senior lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck College,University of London. He is a co-author of Labour, Antisemitism and the News: A disinformation paradigm and of Bad News for Labour, Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief (2019) and has written two books on political power and the media.

Organised by Sheffield Hallam Students’ Palestine Society and Sheffield University Students’ Palestine Society. Supported by Sheffield PSC and Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine.

Sheffield City Council adopts Flawed IHRA definition of anti Semitism

We in PSC fight for justice for Palestinians. Jews in this country are not responsible for the oppression of Palestinians. We object to the structures and policies of the state of Israel that lead to the oppression of Palestinians inside Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.

We do not object to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. We do strongly object to the clauses. One states that saying that Israel is racist can be taken as evidence of anti-Semitism. This clause has led to the banning of basic Palestine solidarity activities. Please read our statement and make representation to your councillor. Our comments during the council debate can be seen here after an hour.

Palestinian Child Prisoners

There was a meeting on Friday 27th at the Showroom.  .

Sadly, due to the chaos in London Louise Haigh, MP for Heeley, could not attend.  She did send a message of apology to the meeting and a strong supporting statement.

According to International Law, a child is defined as a human under the age of 18 years. Under Israeli military detention, Palestinian children as young as 12 are routinely:

• Taken from their homes at gunpoint in night-time raids by soldiers.  • Blindfolded, bound and shackled. 

• Interrogated without a lawyer or relative being  present and with no audio-visual recording.

 • Put into solitary confinement. 

• Forced to sign confessions (often in Hebrew – a language they do not understand).

The treatment of Palestinian children is in marked contrast to the treatment settler children.  There are separate courts, separate treatments and separate laws for Palestinians and Israelis. 

See here for more information.

The following films were shown.

  “Children in Chains” Jon Pullman 22 mins   

“Detaining Dreams” 21 mins long    

Rafeef Ziadah – short poem –  “We Teach Life, Sir!” 

Gaza journalists seek a voice

By Musheir El Farra and Dick Pitt

When the Israelis stop mass killings in Gaza, the media turns its unblinking eyes away.  Life goes on in, what David Cameron called, a huge prison.  Why do we not hear about life in Gaza? What is their daily life like?  What are the day to day discussions?  What are the shortages? How is people’s mental health? What are the political discussions?

On Friday 14th June, a group of  local journalists from Sheffield were in a video discussion with journalists from Gaza. 

The Gaza journalists had got together and approached Palestine Solidarity Campaign Chairman Musheir El Farra about how they can contact British journalists to talk to them about their work in blockaded Gaza.  Over a period of two hours we got to hear bits of the story that they want the world to know.

The journalists pointed out that they were non-combatants.  They were there to report the facts.  The demonstrations, ‘The right of Return’ was not an invasion, not organised by any faction.  They were the march of a people who wished to return home from forced exile.  

The Journalists’ tools are cameras not guns.  They need to write and become witnesses for a voiceless people.  They need to be able to show their photographs in exhibitions and tell their stories free from harassment arrest, wounding or killing.  Journalists wear very distinctive, easily identifiable gear.  Yet 200 journalists had been injured by various projectiles, tear gas canisters, and bullets since the start of the protests, March 2018.  The journalists were clear that they felt Israel has targeted Journalists.  It was also pointed out that Israel is holding 40 journalists in prisons. 

A representative present from Human Rights organisation explained the frustration of getting no results to their hundreds of complaints to the Israeli authorities regarding attacks on Palestinian journalists. 

There is also repression by the Hamas authorities.  One journalist described how she obtained a story on corruption in the obtaining exit permits for medical treatment.  The result was that she was arrested, and four separate charges were filed against her, including one of impersonation (she had worn a face veil to avoid recognition).   The case against her collapsed.  Reports of demonstrations against Hamas were repressed. 

One Palestinian journalist described how he built up a following of 35,000 people and 5000 friends.  His website was cyber attacked by the Israelis leaving him to restart the hard grind of building it up again from nothing.  In total, 100 Facebook accounts for journalists in the Gaza Strip were cyber attacked by Israel in an identical way.

Some of the journalists present explained how they received threatening phone calls and text messages from unknown numbers to try to intimidate them to stop covering attacks by the Israeli army against civilians.

They pointed out that they needed to get to journalist conferences to share knowledge and experiences.  To do their work properly that have to have freedom of movement.  

They needed to challenge the bias of programs like the BBC A day in Gaza.  At present they are not able to.

Everyone agreed that further such conference calls would be very useful.  

One journalist explained the frustration of being in his thirties and being unemployed as a result of the Israeli blockade.  However, this doesn’t stop journalists from rushing to places were Israeli attacks are happening. 

The Palestinian journalists present; asked the British journalists to work on a plan to create a mechanism by which they, the British journalists,  become their voice among the British people. The British journalists promised to do their best to try to pass the message to as many journalists as possible within the NUJ.

 It was agreed that this meeting was the start of cooperation between journalists in Palestine and Britain.   Campaigning work should start to organise a tour in Britain to repeat similar meeting format with audience from the media and the public.  

It was also agreed that Sheffield PSC and the South Yorkshire branch of NUJ will try their best to help with supporting small projects like short videos made by the Palestinian journalists to counter bias Western media reporting such as the BBC programme “A day in Gaza “ and others.