Saturday 6th May. There was a lively protest outside Sheffield Town Hall in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. We were joined by Paul Blomfield, MP (till a week ago and current candidate) for Sheffield Central constituency . The prisoners are on hunger strike over such things as jailed children, family visits restricted to one a year, and administrative detention (jail with no trial). For more information go here.
Possibly the worst thing a newspaper can do to a Muslim woman is to publish a picture of her under the headline “I am proud to be called a terrorist”. This is exactly what the Mail on line has done to Malaka Shwaikh.
Malaka is currrently at Exter University, studying under Ilan Pappe , a Jewish Israeli Professor; she is in no way anti-semitic. Before she moved from Sheffield, Malaka was a member of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign. She is an intelligent articulate active anti-racist.
What has stirred the ire of the Pro Israeli and Zionist campaigners is that she is Palestinian, articulate and effective.
The full sentence she used was: “If terrorism means protecting and defending my land, I am so proud to be called terrorist. What an honour for the Palestinians!” This was said in the context of Israel’s 2014 bloody onslaught on Gaza. The wilful ripping out of part of the sentence completely misrepresents her position.
The attack on Malaka is part of a coordinated attempt to discredit pro-Palestinian campaigners. Israel has become increasingly right wing and xenophobic. It is feted by white supremacists and Islamophobes. Its supporters desperately hope to drown out criticism of Israel’s illegal land theft by false allegations of terrorism and anti Semitism.
If the Daily Mail’s malevolent distortion is allowed to stand Malaka’s ability to travel, to return to Gaza, and live a normal life will be made near impossible. It will also embolden the Mail for further attacks.
On 9th July this summer, over a hundred people saw at Sheffield’s Broomhall Centre a performance by 20 Palestinian teenagers, from Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem.
The previous day, Sheffield’s Deputy Mayor had welcomed the group, the Lajee Dance Troupe, at the Town Hall. On Wednesday, October 5th, three of the 14-year- old dancers, Mustafa Bdair, Mutaz Barakah and Omar Radi were arrested by masked Israeli soldiers.
Attacks by the Israeli army on the Lajee centre have escalated since Celtic football fans raised over £170,000 divided between Medical Aid for Palestine and the Lajee Centre in Aida Camp.
These night raids by Israeli soldiers fit into a pattern of reprisals that have followed international gestures of solidarity with the Centre under an Israeli military occupation that the UK and other governments consider to be illegal.
Israeli soldiers attacked the Lajee Centre with teargas and rubber bullets on 19 Sept while the children were inside. The following night they forced open the gate of the centre, threw teargas grenades inside and closed the gate, trapping the children inside, forcing them to inhale toxic teargas.
Mutaz, Mustafa and Omar have been released on bail but will be tried by an Israeli military court where defendants are routinely found guilty.
In total, 440 children under 18 are currently held in military detention almost two-and- half times the number imprisoned a year ago. According to the Defense for Children International–Palestine (DCIP), no other country in the world systematically prosecutes hundreds of children in military courts each year.
Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign are urging Sheffield MPs to call on the Foreign Office to condemn the Israeli government’s campaign of intimidation against the Lajee Centre and to press for the dropping of the charges against the teenagers.
Our comrade and ex-Sheffield resident, Arwa, took 49 children from the hill of Tel Rumeida down into the Old City to celebrate Caroline Poland’s achievement of her Right to Roam walk
Caroline’s walk has been undertaken to show solidarity with those who live under the most repressive situations within Palestine, especially in the West bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.
Arwa, to achieve this short walk into Shuhada Street, had to cross two of the most notorious checkpoints where nine people have been killed in the last six months. The excitement of doing this simple walk shows in the children’s faces. Normally they have to stay inside because of the volatile situation.