All posts by Dick Pitt

Protest Saturday 7th April

IMG_4153 IMG_4161On Saturday 7th April

Sheffield PSC called a protest against the killing of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators by Israel.  We combined this with protests against HSBC.  This bank makes a profit from the arms trade with Israel.  There are more pictures here.  It is Israel’s overwhelming military superiority and the lack of serious condemnation by the UK, the USA  and the UN that make Israel believe that it can get away with murder.

Opposition to racism

The story is that Freud told a woman that she was obsessed with sex but was in denial.  “No I am not” came the indignant reply.  “See you are in denial” replied Freud smugly.

The British Board of deputies accuse the left of anti-Semitism but claim we are in denial.  Those of us on the left deny it strongly.  Our accusers nod knowingly “see they are in denial”.

A Jewish research group showed “Levels of anti Semitism among those on the left-wing of the political spectrum, including the far-left, are indistinguishable from those found in the general population.”

And “The most anti-Semitic group on the political spectrum consists of those who identify as very right-wing: the presence of anti-Semitic attitudes in this group is 2 to 4 times higher compared to the general population.”

So why is the Board of Deputies attacking the Labour Party rather than the right wing of the Tory Party or UKIP?  The answer is the issue of Israel.  The letter that the Board of Deputies sent to Corbyn contains the following sentence.

“The Party should circulate the IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, to all members and branches. The Party should work with mainstream Jewish community organisations to develop and implement education about antisemitism.”

IHRA gives an example of  anti-Semitism  “by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”.  We have nearly seventy years since the establishment of Israel.  Its land policies, water policies, development policies, immigration policies are racist.  That is not an anti-Semitic slur, it is an evidence-based observation.

So when the British Board of Deputies wrote about rooting out Anti Semitism in the Labour Party they meant rooting out Palestine solidarity.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign has expelled people who let anti Israel sentiments merge with anti Semitism.  Their ideas are offensive in themselves. They are also gold dust for people who support Israel. We will expel others if and when they appear.

We are not about to let supporters of Israel lecture us on how to combat racism.

Protest against the killings in Gaza 12 noon Saturday 7th April Sheffield Town Hall

Gaza-land-day-2-300x169At least 15 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,400 others wounded by Israeli forces as thousands marched near Gaza’s border with Israel in a major demonstration marking the 42nd anniversary of Land Day.

Israeli forces fired live ammunition at protesters and used tear gas to push them back from a heavily fortified fence, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Adalah, a legal centre for Palestinian rights in Israel, condemned the Israeli army’s use of force and stated:

“Live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants.”

The demonstration commemorates Land Day, which marks the day – March 30, 1976 – when six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces during protests against the Israeli government’s decision to expropriate massive tracts of Palestinian land.

End Arms sales to Israel/ Boycott Israeli goods/ don’t invest in Israel/help get the Government to put sanctions on Israel

Protest at Sheffield Hallam

proteststud

On March 7th Omar Kiswani , chairman of the student union at Birzeit University was kidnapped by an armed Israeli undercover unit.  The newly registered Sheffield Hallam Palestine Solidarity Society called  a protest last Tuesday.  (See photo)

What would be the media coverage if armed soldiers from any other country in the world kidnapped a student leader from a university in a neighbouring country?

The violent kidnapping by Israel of a Palestinian was business as usual for the media.  Like the theft of land, like the theft of water, and like the establishment of an Apartheid regime.  Israel is backed by the USA and Britain so whatever it does is accepted by the media.

Like the South African Apartheid, this tolerance of the intolerable will only end when enough ordinary people stand up and demand that it ends.

Why Palestinian Memory Matters

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A public talk by Ramzy Baroud will be on Sunday 18th March  5pm Umix Centre

Ramzy Baroud is an activist and author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter.

His visit to Sheffield comes a fewmonths after a United Nations Committee reported that ‘the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people is the principal method by which Israel imposes an Apartheid regime’.  In his new book, Last Earth a Palestinian Story, Ramzy uncovers memories that have resisted fragmentation and are reclaiming history for the Palestinian people.

HSBC protest

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It would be impossible for Israel to steal land from the Palestinians if it was not militarily superior.  That superiority is maintained by the aid budget from the USA and military trade with the West.  That trade could not go ahead without the support of the banks.  On Saturday we were on the streets to point out that HSBC profits from an arms trade that  helps Israel steal Palestinian land.

After the protest some of us went into the bank to complain to the manager that we had had no reply to three letters that we had previously delivered.

These protests, as well as putting pressure on HSBC, allow us to put our case to the general Sheffield public.  It also allows us to inform sympathisers of our next meeting.  In this case a talk by Ramzy Baroud 5pm Sunday March 18 at UMIX Centre 7 Asline Rd, Sheffield, S2 4UJ

Ramzy Baroud is an activist and author of My father was a Freedom Fighter.

Healing Centre

healingcentre

As well as public meetings we have smaller working groups.  On Thursday 22 February 2018  at Friends Meeting House we had one such meeting.  It was about the Khuza’a Healing Centre for children in Khuza’a. 

The more public part of the meeting was led off by Mona al-Farra who movingly described the work of Mecca, and Never Stop Dreaming.

Sheffield PSC, in cooperation with women from the Yemeni Association in Sheffield are constructing a play and healing centre in Khuza’a, aimed at helping traumatised children in the area and beyond. The project will be run by one of our partner children centres; Never Stop Dreaming in Khan Younis.

This is a hugely ambitious project.  The second half was aimed at some of the detailed work that we need to do to firstly to spread
 awareness of the need for the centre within the wider community of Sheffield and beyond and secondly to establish a steady stream of cash for the running of the centre.

Facts are important

Blog bullet points

On Saturday 17th February, I was, with others, giving out leaflets for the Stop the War Coalition meeting       ( 1st March at the Central United Reform Church 7pm. Our Chairman Mushier Al Farra is speaking).

We were approached by a young man who said he was opposed to what we were saying.  Given that we were arguing for peace, we were a little taken aback.  It turned out that he objected to one of the placards.  It said ‘Free Gaza’.  He then stated why he believed the slogan was wrong.   We could have just dismissed him as ill informed.  However given the vast misinformation in the media, we would dismiss a huge chunk of the British population if we adopted that approach. It was clear that we were not going to win him over to a solidarity position there and then.  What we did was to flag up where we disagreed.  We asked him to check a number of things that showed that Israel was an expansionist, racist state, that was oppressing the Palestinians.  It would have been nice if he had asked us to accept ‘facts’ that were uncomfortable to us.  He declined to do so.

This blog is intended to highlight some of the key facts that Israeli supporters don’t like but cannot hide.

  1.  Israel was born with the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians.  The ethnic cleansing was well under way before any Arab army intervened.  See for example “Daniel Blatman, an Israeli historian and head of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, penned an op-ed for the Israeli daily Haaretz stating that ethnic cleansing “is exactly what happened in 1948.” To support this, “determined that most of the Arabs in the country, over 400,000, were encouraged to leave or expelled in the first stage of the war—even before the Arab nations’ armies invaded” or   The ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Illan Pappe  The UN passed a resolution stating that the Palestinian refugees should have a right of return to their homes.  This right was denied by Israel.
  2. Israel is expansionist   Disappearing-PalestineL (From PSC)             Israel won wars in 1948 and 1967. It has expanded its illegal settlements ever since.  The UN security council stated1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;’ 2334 December 2016   Israel ignored the resolution and just over a month later announced a new settlement. There are between  600,000 and 800,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
  3. Israel has established an Apartheid state There is a definition here.   If there are separate laws, separate courts, separate areas, separate roads then there is Apartheid.  This is the ex Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel “In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state,”                                                                  A UN sub committee stated that “This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness  of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and  practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in  instruments of international law”.  Desmond Tutu: ‘U.S. Christians Must Recognize Israel as Apartheid State’
  4. Israel mistreats Palestinian children.  Sarah Champion has described the abuse of Palestinian in Israeli courts here.
  5.  Israel steals Palestinian water.  Israel won the war in 1967.  Its military dominance lets it take 80% of the water that Palestinians need.  Israelis get four-fifths of scarce West Bank water, says World Bank   
  6. Blockade of Gaza “Gaza is a prison camp” Davis Cameron                     “…the policy of blockade that preceded the operations and that in the Mission’s view amounts to collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip.” and “U.N. Goldstone report. “ and “deeds by the Israeli armed forces and words of military and political leaders prior to and during the operations indicate that, as a whole, they were premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed not at the enemy but at the “supporting infrastructure.” In practice, this appears to have meant the civilian population.” The Goldstone report.

We had hoped he would return a little less ill-informed and ready to continue the discussion.  Sadly, he did not.  I am putting this as a blog in the hope that he and other pro Israelis will read it.  I am human, I may have made a mistake.  Please point out any errors.  If you read it and find no errors, surely you should join us and demand justice for the Palestinians.