Dr Al Fara will talk about the desperate need to help children in Gaza traumatised by war, and siege and seeing their parents and wider families devastated by Israeli aggression.
The grave situation in Gaza
The Gaza Strip is the most densely populated region in the world. Over 80 per cent of its people are refugees and their descendants, expelled from Palestine in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel. The majority of the 1.8 million residents are under the age of 15.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2008/9 killed 1,473 Palestinians. Israel’s 2014 bombardment, lasting 51 days, reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble and killed at least 2,100; of whom 539 were children.
According to UNICEF, 373,000 children in Gaza suffer from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Additionally, 11,000 were injured, one third with permanent disabilities and more than 18,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed. Israel’s siege and the periodic bombardments of Gaza have prevented people rebuilding their lives. Many still live in tents and makeshift homes. Water and electricity are still only available for a few hours a day. For schools, hospitals, workshops, farms and homes to be restored Palestinians need international solidarity.
Khuza’a is a town of 10,000 inhabitants in the south east of the
Gaza Strip. It is situated only 500 metres from the border with Israel. In the 2009 attack, it was reported the Israeli army bulldozed houses in Khuza’a with their residents still inside, and civilians were shot when carrying white flags.
These accounts were corroborated by the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem. Khuza’a was one of the three areas that suffered particularly badly during the 2014 Israeli attack on the
Gaza Strip. Hundreds of its civilians were killed and large areas of the town were wiped out. Some residents were used as human shields by the invading Israeli army. As a result, thousands of children are still traumatised and in need of psychological help.
Khuza’a is about six kilometres from the Never Stop Dreaming Project, which has been supported Sheffield PSC for many years.
It will manage and support the new project, with the help of the charity, Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance (MECA). Sheffield’s Yemeni community raised £9,600 towards the Centre’s construction, and a resident of Khuza’a has donated the
land for the building to be constructed on. The building work will be
finished by the Spring of 2018. The existing staff from the Never Stop Dreaming Project, that is already involved with the local community, will be provided with additional training to support children with post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Thanks for reading this. Please do come to our meeting
A great rally on the City Hall Steps on Saturday yesterday, 9th December.
Over 100 people there – including many different faces and many students. The banner – which read ‘Trump: Jerusalem is not yours to give away‘ made a great focus and made it really clear to all why we were there.
Amongst those holding the banner were a man from Syria, a man from Algeria, a young Yemeni woman, a British Jew, a Palestinian, two students – Sheffield’s humanity in action.
There were some excellent speeches from students, from a representative from Labour Friends of Palestine Pearn,who has just returned from her first visit to Palestine, and a beautiful song by a Yemeni teenager were highlights .
So the clear thing here is, just like Palestine itself was not Britain to give away, so Jerusalem is not Trump’s to dispose of.
Keeping our spaces inhabitable for future generations is a problem world wide. For Palestine and Palestinians, the devastating impacts of occupation is no better demonstrated than with the imperilled state of the water supply in Gaza.
All this and more is fantastically demonstrated in our new calendar pictures from Gaza and infographics from Visualizing Palestine
David Cronin is a contributing editor with The Electronic Intifada, a website focused on Palestine.
His new book is Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel is out now and he is engaged in a tour to speak about how Britain has gone from giving declaratory backing to the Zionist movement to becoming actively complicit in Israel’s crimes.
Please come and join this discussion to open out the Balfour season in Sheffield.
Longing and Belonging and Balfour, Saturday September 23rd
Chai for All, the Bristol based jazz-tinged klezmer and Middle Eastern music ensemble will be bringing their new work, Longing, Belonging & Balfour to Sheffield on the Saturday 23rd September for a 7:30 pm performance at the Sheffield Library Theatre, Tudor Square. This is new musical perspective on the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the letter which can be said to have set in train the facts on the ground in today’s occupied Palestine
Chai for All will be joined by virtuoso clarinetist and kaval (Bulgarian flute) player Katie Stevens, renowned storyteller Michael Loader, British-Israeli platinum record producer Mark Smulian and the voice of Palestinian poet Alissar Amali – melding klezmer Arabic and other idioms together in music composed and arranged by German-born Knud Stuwe.
There will be a post-show panel discussion to explore the various perspectives on the Balfour Declaration and give an opportunity for audience members to share their personal stories evoked by the performance.
In the first of a series of events to understand the impact (and certainly not celebrate) the Balfour declaration, Sheffield PSC are partnering with Kairos Sheffield, to welcome Robert Cohen who offers an anti-Zionist but religious Jewish perspective. Mr Cohen is an engaging and provocative speaker and blogger and well worth coming to see.
He will be speaking at the Quaker Meeting House on October 23rd from 7.30pm. Full details here
As part of our continuing campaign to highlight complicity from major corporations with the Irsaeli arms industry we will be assembling outside HSBC on Fargate, Sheffield city centre.
We are calling on them to end its support for the Israeli Arms industry.
Elbit 5 court case.
The Hearing on August 23rd was a travesty.
The CPS complained that the police had not spoken to them about the charges they had decided on and the CPS were not ready to proceed and might be considering another charge. They had given the defence no notice about this.
The case was therefore adjourned until 13th September to allow the CPS to sort itself out, but with no pressure on them to do anything other than to tell the defence ‘before the hearing’ what they planned to do. This means they can leave it until 7.30 a.m. on the day of the hearing, giving the solicitor no time to discuss things with the 5 people charged. the magistrates were completely uninterested in putting any pressure on the CPS to make a decision in good time.
So: another court hearing on Wednesday 13th Sept at Cannock magistrates court.
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.
The Mail Online, an offshoot of the Daily Mail, along with a some other on-line publications and abusive emails fanned by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, are currently alleging that Malaka, presently a Ph.D. student at Exeter University, under the supervision of the Israeli born Professor Ilan Pappe, is a supporter of terrorism and is antisemitic. Why, some might wonder, but clearly not the Mail or the Campaign Against Antisemtism, would an anti-Semite choose to study under a Jewish professor? There is clearly more to this story than what Malaka’s detractors would like people to believe.
The Mail Online launched the campaign against Malaka, stating in bold letters: ‘Palestinian student, 25, tweets “I am so proud to be called a terrorist’ sparking an anti-Semitism investigation at the University of Exeter.” The tweet, which had been hacked, was doctored. The full sentence reads: “If terrorism means protecting and defending my land, I am so proud to be called terrorist. What an honour for the Palestinians!” Moreover, this was said in the context of Israel’s 2014 bloody onslaught on Gaza. A reference by her to the Holocaust was similarly distorted by not reporting her tweet stating that it was a horrific crime.
But the full malevolence of distorting her tweets in order to suggest that their author is not only a terrorist sympathiser but an anti-Semite only becomes evident in the light of Malaka’s political
activism. As well as being a proud Palestinian committed to justice for her people, she is also a principled opponent of all forms of racism. She recently helped to organise a march at Exeter University to protest against swastikas and ‘Rights for Whites’ slogans daubed on walls in halls of residence.
The attack on Malaka is part of a coordinated attempt to discredit pro-Palestinian campaigners. Malaka, herself, had been subjected to earlier smear campaigns when she was a student at Sheffield University. As Israel has become increasingly rightwing and xenophobic, feted by white supremacists and Islamophobes, its supporters desperately seek to regain public sympathy by accusing its critics of anti-Semitism and terrorist sympathies. It will not work. Israel’s record is there for all to see and Palestinian activists and the solidarity movement will continue to grow in numbers and in effectiveness as they have over the past three decades.
We, in Sheffield, know Malaka well from the period that she spent in the city as a student. We condemn her vilification and fully support her stand against it.
Read Malaka’s full statement, read Mondoweiss article here: https://goo.gl/1XrB4k
Professor Ilan Pappe addresses an audience at Sheffield Hallam University on Monday 20th January. He makes the point that Trump may be more energetic in his anti Palestinian stance but essentially the pro Zionist approach taken by America is systemic and not dependent on a single person.