Category Archives: Dicks blog

With friends like these…

Keir Starmer became a barrister in 1987.  The job of a barrister is to put his client’s case as clearly as possible.  Starmer’s speech to Labour Friends of Israel demonstrates the barrister’s art.

The full speech is here. There is a complete conflation between the Jewish community and Israel.  He says “Anti-Zionist antisemitism is the antithesis of the Labour tradition: It denies the Jewish people alone a right to self-determination”.

Here he uses the straw man strategy. Anti Semitism is a crime. Nobody who believes in justice can be anti Semitic. Everyone who believes in justice should fight against the form that Zionism has taken over the last seventy plus years. Starmer does not recognise Jews and other anti racists who oppose Zionism as it is practiced.

There is the appeal to Israeli leaders as his brothers and sisters in struggle “from Golda Meir to Chaim Herzog, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres –as comrades in the international struggle for equality, peace and freedom. “Social democrats who made the desert flower,” as Wilson put it”.

A history lesson focussing on the flaws of each of them would take too long. I will mention that Peres offered Apartheid South Africa nuclear warheads, was active in support of the illegal settlements, and was President of Israel 2007 to 2014, when Apartheid was being fully established. Not much of a struggle for “equality peace and freedom”. Then there is the lie that “Social democrats who made the desert flower”. No mention of Palestinians who had a thriving agriculture for over a thousand years. No mention of the water thefts from the River Jordan nor the planting of unsuitable pines over the ethnically cleansed and destroyed villages. When they burned they revealed the Palestinian terraces.

Starmer makes an appeal to Israel’s progressive policies.

“ Three years after the liberation of the camps, Israel’s Declaration of Independence committed the new state to Freedom, justice and peace; Complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; And freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.”

The issue is not “self determination of Jewish people.”  The issue is how do we establish a regime(s) between the river and the sea that gives all people the right to a peaceful life where they can practice their religion with equality under the law, and social justice. Starmer says he believes that the establishment of a democratic in Palestine provides that solution.  Nearly a decade ago Manuel Hassassian was speaking in Sheffield.  He said something like “As a diplomat from Palestine our position is that we want a Palestinian State based on the pre 1967 borders.”  He paused took two paces to the left and continued “As an academic, Israel has created facts on the ground that make a two state solution impossible.”  Since then the embedding of Israeli oppression of Palestinians has become deeper and wider.

Human Rights Watch stated “that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT. In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid”.

It is not enough that Starmer does not comment on this, nor the other reports that preceded it. He says “Israel herself is the first to acknowledge that at times she falls short of these [equality and social justice] goals”. And continues “That is why I am both a friend of Israel and a friend of Palestine.”

In summary Starmer refuses to acknowledge the reality of Israeli Apartheid, refuses to acknowledge that Israel has almost certainly destroyed a two state solution.  He opposes peaceful BDS efforts to pressurise Israel  into recognising basic human rights of Palestinians (right of return, right to equality, end of occupation). 

He happily repeats myths “Israel embodies progressive values” and “[Israeli]Social democrats who made the desert flower,”  He opposes BDS because it would “hurt the people of Israel and Palestine” and damage trade between the UK and Israel.

He looks at oppressor and the oppressed and says “That is why I am both a friend of Israel and a friend of Palestine.”  But everything he proposes weakens the Palestinians and strengthens Israel.

Terrorists

Priti Patel has stated that she intends to redefine the Political wing of Hamas as terrorist.  The governments of the USA and UK have never forgiven Hamas for winning the 2006 Palestinian election.  They refused to recognise the democratically newly elected Government.  When Hamas and the PLO organised a joint Government in 2007, they refused to recognise that either.

Since then Israel has blockaded Gaza, and tightened up its occupation of the West Bank.  It has made clear that it intends to annex great swathes of the West Bank into Israel.  Various bodies, the most recent being Human Rights Watch, have looked at the way Israel dominates Palestinians in the area that it controls, and decided that it satisfies the definition of Apartheid[i].

For us in the PSC, separate housing, separate laws, separate access to water, separate roads constitute Apartheid.  Apartheid is a crime under International Law.

The Cambridge dictionary defines terrorist as “someone who uses violent action, or threats of violent action, for political purposes”.

Given that forced transfer of population, land theft, resources theft and supporting Apartheid are all crimes, Israeli settlers, soldiers, and politicians are all terrorists.

So can we expect Preti Patel to announce that Netanyahu, Tzipi Hotovley, Naftali Bennett and the IDF as terrorist? Well no, the right are not interested in truth and justice, the word terrorist is reserved for those who oppose their rule.

Today very few people defend South African Apartheid.  Yet Nelson Mandela and the ANC were declared a terrorist up to 2008[ii].

According to General Rawlinson[iii] Commander in Chief, the British  army India believed “you have to use terrorism whether you like it or not.”  Yet it was the pacifist Gandhi who was branded a terrorist[iv].

British rule in Kenya was brutal.[v]  According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, 90,000 Kenyans were killed, tortured or maimed during the conflict, and 160,000 were held in inhumane prison camps.  “The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place.”  Yet it was the Mau Mau and Kenyatta that were declared terrorist. 

The Tories supported South African Apartheid it is not surprising they support the Israeli version.

[i] Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution | HRW

[ii] BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Mandela taken off US terror list

[iii] Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson – Wikipedia

[iv] Gandhi was declared terrorist and declaration sold cheaply – Oneindia News

[v] British government apologizes for colonial abuses in Kenya – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)

Rally Sat 27th November

Sheffield PSC has called for a rally on Saturday November 27th 11 a.m. This is to commemorate the UN day of solidarity with the Palestinians.

A Human Rights Watch report stated

“Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

Join us on sat 27th November 11 am Sheffield Town Hall, or join the cyclecade (cavalcade, but with bikes,) 10 am Heeley Retail Park

Cop 26 Palestinians barred

Human Rights Watch showed that Israel operates Apartheid in the area that it controls.  One of the discriminatory policies was with the Covid vaccinations.  All adults in Israel were offered a jab and all the 600,000 illegal settlers in the West Bank were offered a jab but not the Palestinians.

This is in defiance of the Fourth Geneva rule that states that an occupying power must look after the health of the occupied population.

Instead of condemning this blatant discrimination commentators like the BBC congratulated Israel for its prompt vaccination program.   

The UK recognises the Israeli administered vaccinations.  It does not recognise the vaccinations carried out by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The result is that Palestinians will not be able to come to Cop 26.

However, organisations like the racist Jewish National Fund which has a record of complicity in Israeli Apartheid are able to attend.

The UK authorities favour the oppressor rather than the oppressed

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

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

Keep JNF out of Cop 26

“This behaviour, also known as greenwashing, refers to the tools a given firm [or organisation] may use to deliberately send a message that its products, services and processes are environmentally friendly when in fact they are not.” Berrone Pascale, Green Lies

The picture is of a JNF tractor used in demolishing Al Araqib.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) has had a place at previous Cop Conferences, we aim to stop it attending Cop26.

The JNF reputation as an environmental responsible body rests on its creation of parks, its planting of trees and its creation of reservoirs.

The Parks – Cover the ethnic cleansing – prevent a Palestinian return

The Jewish National Fund was set up in 1901 to obtain land in Palestine for the exclusive use of Jews.

 Yossef Weitz was   was the powerful director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Settlement Department between 1932 and 1948.  He made three things clear. The Zionists must ethnically cleanse the Palestinians.[i]   The Palestinians must be prevented from returning[ii] and that after the destruction of the Palestinian villages Jewish settlements or parks would be put in their place.[iii]The Jewish National Fund’s park building enabled Israel to say to Palestinian refugees and the world that the land is being used.

The British Park[viii] – was built on two destroyed Palestinian villages.  In 2020,  Khalud al Ajarma, appeared before a British court. She had documents showing that her family and others owned the land that the JNF UK had claimed as a Park.  She complained that a British Charity had stolen or received stolen land, she was told that she had no standing to complain about the charity. See the webinar here.

JNF official Michael Katorza stated “a large portion of JNF parks are on lands where Palestinian villages used to stand, and the forests are intended to camouflage this.”

Image

This is a picture taken in 2010 inside Canada Park which covers the destroyed village of Imwas and two others.

The Trees – cover the ruins – replace Olives and nuts

The Jewish Journal informs us “In a land where even trees have become politicized as part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the pine tree has become emblematic of a renewed Jewish presence here, while the olive tree has become a symbol of the Palestinians’ ties to the land.”

The truth is that the Olive tree is better suited than the Pines that were planted.  In 2020 “In an extensive survey conducted by the KKL-JNF, it was found that about 30 percent of the Jerusalem [Aleppo] pine have died in the country’s various forests,” explains Prof. Menachem Moshelion.                                                            

Water Apartheid

When Israel won the 1967 war, it took over all of Palestine’s water infrastructure.  It destroyed Palestinian pipelines, wells, cisterns at will.  While Palestinian water infrastructure is being weakened Israel sunk wells and built reservoirs and denies Palestinian access to the river Jordan.

These are two massive JNF sponsored reservoirs that feed water to the illegal Zionist settlements.

The result of the water Apartheid is that Palestinians consume less than the WHO recommended minimum.

A powerful exposure of the JNF’s greenwashing can be seen here.

A film about the JNF and water Apartheid can be seen here and background reading and videos here.

Sign the petition opposing JNF at COP 26 here.


[i] “it must be clear that there is no room in the country for both [Arab and Jewish] peoples . . . If the [Palestinian] Arabs leave it, the country will become wide and spacious for us . . . The only solution [after the end of WW II] is a Land of Israel, at least a western land of Israel [i.e. Palestine since Transjordan is the eastern portion], without [Palestinian] Arabs. There is no room here for compromises . . . There is no way but to transfer the [Palestinian] Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer all of them, save perhaps for [the Palestinian Arabs of] Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one [Bedouin] tribe. The transfer must be directed at Iraq, Syria, and even Transjordan [eastern portion of Eretz Yisrael]. For this goal funds will be found . . . An only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution.” (Benny Morris, p. 27 & Expulsion Of The Palestinians, 131-132)

[ii]  Weitz “All we need is 400 tractors, each tractor can cultivate 3,000 dunam – cultivating not just for the purpose of procuring food but in order to prevent anyone from returning to their lands.”Pappe the Ethnic cleansing of Palestine  P213

[iii] Weitz “We have begun the operation of cleansing, removing the rubble and preparing the villages for cultivation and settlement.  Some of these will become parks.” Pappe P221

[iv] JNF: Financing Racism and Apartheid – Palestine Remembered

[v]  stopthejnfcampaignBRITISHPARK

Arwa Abu Haikal sadly died

Arwa lived in Sheffield for a good number of years, perhaps seven or eight and made very many friends both within the Arabic community and within the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Like many Palestinian women Arwa was passionate about women’s education and was part of the planning group of Sheffield Palestinian Women’s Scholarship Fund for years. During this time she spoke at International Women’s Day events for Palestine in various northern towns such as Bradford, Saddleworh and Durham/Newcastle.
Her family lived in Tel Rumeida in Hebron where religious settlers make some of the most vicious attacks in the West Bank. The family’s traditional orchards containing almonds and other fruits were taken over by the settlers. At one point some soldiers took over the top  floor of her family home because of its strategic position while they were living there. She sustained an injured leg after being badly beaten by a soldier which continued to give her pain and interfered with her ability to walk for the rest of her life. She once defended the family’s centuries old olive tree by sitting under it in the blazing sun for a full day to stop a bulldozer from destroying one of their most treasured possessions.
She worked with many children’s groups which were set up in Tel Rumeida which to support the traumatised children who could be woken in the middle of the night by the military who would then ransack the family possessions, take away – sometimes fathers often brothers, for interrogation which could last for many months without any formal charges and no family contact.
With this background Arwa could sometimes be feisty and verbally fight her corner She was also very caring and supportive. Although she returned to live in Palestine a few years ago she returned regularly to Sheffield to  visit her friends. We will miss her. Tribute by Val