Category Archives: Sheffield activists’ blogs

All blogs written by Sheffield PSC activists

Blog on Syria

The core belief of Palestine Solidarity campaign is anti racism.  We hate the fact that Palestinians are denied basic rights because of their ethnicity and religion.

Everyone in SPSC opposes the oppression and murder of Kurds, Yazidis, Moslems, Christians, Jews and Parisians, by ISIS.  The question is,  will the bombing of Syria by Britain help defeat them?

What are the lessons from the Iraq war?

The JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] assessed that al-Qaeda and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq[i].

A report from the Ministry of Defence stated

“The war in Iraq … has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world … Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and al-Qaida has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act.”[ii]

Spy Chief Eliza  Manningham-Buller  stated

The Iraq war ” increased the terrorist threat by convincing more people that Osama Bin Laden’s claim that Islam was under attack was correct.”[iii]

There was a statement by the UK think tank Chatham House reported “It [Iraq War] gave a boost to the al-Qaeda network’s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising”.  This and many more references can be found here.[iv] 


Some may claim that perhaps Cameron was ignorant of these conclusions.  It is hard to claim that he was not aware of a joint statement by France, Turkey, the United States, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Britain which expressed concern that Russia’s actions would “only fuel more extremism and radicalisation”[v]That was in October.

According to the BBC a man wielding a knife attacked three people at a tube station yesterday (5th December) shouting ‘this is for Syria’.  The police have called it an act of terrorism.

Four things come out of such acts.  First is the tragedy for the innocent victims.  Secondly fear grows that any of us could be next, it makes all our lives a little sadder.  Third, the Government’s line that Moslems tolerate ideas that lead to terrorism will appear vindicated.  There will be more attacks on Moslems.  Fourth the various repressive arms of the state will descend even more on the Moslem community.

Nothing good comes of these mad acts, but the war mongers in the West helped him go mad.

What has this to do with Palestine Solidarity Campaign?  Under the ‘Prevent’ strategy children who wear PSC badges have been told that this could be extremist.  Cameron told MP’s that they should not join Corbyn and ‘a bunch of terrorist sympathisers’.

The Telegraph reported that PSC ‘has had its accounts closed down over fears that it may be inadvertently funding terrorism’.

In Sheffield, we who raise funds for modest projects, a children’s ball pool, a mobile library, and scholarships for women in Gaza are having our accounts closed under accusations of terrorist sympathies, while a factory that makes drones for use in killing people in Gaza is modern business.

We are in a battle of ideas.  We can sit back under a sea of abuse of terrorist sympathies and Islamophobia or we can campaign.

The Tory agenda is three fold – move money towards repression (and targeting the Moslem community) bombing Syria so they can be at the Imperial carve up at the end of hostilities, and using the clouds of war, hope to get away with more cuts in welfare.

I think we should oppose all three.

BBC claims Israel under attack (again)

As a lifelong student of mathematics, I take an interest in the use and misuse of bar charts. I found one under a headline

‘Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?’

There is the usual veneer of objectivity

‘Both Israel and the Palestinian authorities have accused one another of doing nothing to protect each other’s communities.’

Later comes the bar chart.


The fact that there are over 50 Palestinian dead is of course downplayed. By any measure of objectivity there should be corresponding figures of Palestinians attacked or killed by Israel. After three seconds of research I found this on Wiki.


Last year’s figures of 2,205 (UNOCHA) Palestinian and 71 Israeli dead have not been added yet, so you need to add a huge spike for last year.

Anyone killed leaves a network of friends, workmates, and relatives sad and wanting vengeance.

But the BBC’s constant portrayal of Israel as defenceless victim of Palestinian violence is a gross misrepresentation of reality.


My last complaint drew the reply below.

This is my reply to that.

The evidence is that the BBC has a systematic bias towards Israel.

I spend time and effort showing that the BBC considers the landing of a rocket in an open field in Southern Israel much more important than the deaths of six protesters.

The headline and the first two sentences paint a false picture that Israel is under attack.

Only after this comes the Palestinian deaths.

I asked for a reason for downplaying of Palestinian deaths and the highlighting of a rocket landing in an empty field.

Instead I received a bland statement that the BBC tries to be impartial.

You are failing. When you choose to have a bar chart showing “Stabbing attacks on Israelis by Palestinians”

you are surely obliged to have one “Military attacks by Israel on Palestinians”.

I could not find it.






Dear Dr  Pitt Thank you for contacting us about the recent escalation in violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this subject across our television and radio programmes, and the BBC News website. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this response aims to answer the key concerns raised in complaints received by us, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer. We appreciate you believe our coverage of this story has shown bias in favour of Israel and against the Palestinians. In this response we hope to explain why we feel this has not been the case. Across our news bulletins and programmes we have reported on the increasing number of Palestinian deaths and casualties following the actions of Israeli security forces. We have broadcast reports where our reporters have spoken to the families of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the recent violence and have heard their respective stories and own specific takes on the conflict. We have reported on criticism of Israel’s response to the attacks, which has included the implementation of curfews in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the destruction of homes of Palestinians Israel claims are connected to the attackers. We have tried to explain how the current situation has come to pass from the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. This has included reporting on the tensions around the holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, the building of settlements and on the daily realities faced by Palestinians living under occupation. We have explored the apathy held by many Palestinians toward the impasse in reaching a lasting peace settlement, and on what many see as Israel’s unwillingness to end the occupation which would see the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. BBC News tries to report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an accurate and duly impartial manner. Sometimes this means we can’t always reflect the full extent of the complexities of the conflict during one standalone report or bulletin. We try to tell the story of the conflict as experienced by both sides, across programmes and bulletins and over time. We believe this has been the case during our coverage of this recent spike in violence. We have raised your concerns with senior editorial staff at BBC News, who consider the range of feedback received from our audience when deciding how they approach reporting on stories. Thanks again for taking the time to contact us. Kind Regards BBC Complaints

More Palestinians killed – More media bias

At a gathering of some of the cyclists from the Big Ride, Dr Mona Al Farra was asked about what she thought about the media coverage of the current situation in Palestine. She said it was a disgrace and that we should complain. So I have complained about this BBC article. 

“Israeli-Palestinian violence: Gaza rocket lands in Israel

The Israeli military says Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired a rocket into southern Israel, amid a sharp increase in tensions.

A statement said sirens were triggered in Israeli communities near the border but the rocket landed in open countryside and no-one was hurt.

Earlier, six Palestinians were shot dead near the border fence with Gaza.”

The headline states that Israel is under attack. Headlines are important, they give the central idea of the article.

The next sentence reinforces the idea that Israel is under attack by Palestinian militants.

The third sentence informs us that sirens were sounded, this tells us that Israeli citizens were alerted to danger. The sentence ends with the information that no one was hurt.

The fourth sentence tells us that six Palestinians were killed.

This is a classic in the art of propaganda. There is nothing false, as far as I am aware, but the overall impression is a complete lie.

There is no mention of the background, the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. There is no mention that Israel is attacking Palestinians and the existence of Palestine. The actual killing of six Palestinians is seen as less important than a rocket landing in a field injuring no one.

Why write to BBC bosses when they have shown a marked reluctance to listen? There are three reasons. Firstly for every person that complains, some of their friends, workmates, relatives and blog readers may think about it and be convinced. Secondly, as pro-Zionist ideas continue to weaken, sooner or later organisations like the BBC may live up to their obligation of fair reporting. Thirdly, Palestinians ask us to correct misrepresentations of what is going on.



Netanyahu was not arrested

When it was announced that Netanyahu was due to visit the UK, I with thousands of others asked that he should be arrested and put on trial for war crimes.  The Government response is below.

This is my open letter to the UK Government.

I was saddened but not surprised by your refusal to arrest  Netanyahu[i] for war crimes.

What did surprise me was the manifest weakness of your reply.   At a time when hundreds if not thousands of people in Europe are volunteering to join ISIS clarity and honesty are essential.

You state that the UK position is a two state solution based on the 1967 borders. What should follow from this is a set of credible policies that encourage that end result.

First there should be a clear acceptance that Israel is working every day to make certain a two state solution will not happen. The de facto annexation of East Jerusalem and the slow ethnic cleansing there, mean that Palestine will not have a credible capital. The continuing building of Israeli colonies in the West Bank make economic independence of a future Palestine not feasible.

There should be a clear condemnation of the day to day oppression of Palestinians.  Earlier this month a group of Palestinian Bedouin were removed from their own lands by the Israeli military.[ii]

Having identified the obstacles (Israeli actions) to your claimed solution, there should follow a set of policies to encourage Israel to desist. Here are three obvious ones.

1. An immediate ban on Israeli imports or exports from any firm or body that has dealings with the illegal colonies.

2. An immediate end of the arms trade with Israel.

3. Proposals to European Union and UN to force expansionist Israel to end its illegal activities.

(We in PSC support the Boycott, sanctions and divestment policy.)

Instead of credible policies you choose to

1. State that Israel has a right to defend itself.

2. Condemn Hamas for its rockets aimed at Israel.

3. Condemn Hamas for building tunnels with the intent of ‘kidnap and murder’.

4. Emphasise ‘excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation’ between Israel and the UK.

Where is the acceptance that Palestinians have the right to defend themselves? Where is the condemnation of the illegal colonies? Israel kidnaps and murders Palestinians on a far bigger scale than the reverse, yet there is no criticism. Where is the condemnation of the drones that killed innocent children of Gaza?

You are silent that British shops like Sainsbury’s profit from Israeli Apartheid.

You say nothing about the Israeli firms like Elbit in Lichfield that make those drones.

In summary expansionist Israel is behaving illegally. The UK gives lip service to opposing those policies while in practice facilitating them. In short you are hypocrites.





[i] Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.

The British Government has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as head of the Israeli Government, to visit the UK in September. Under UK and international law, certain holders of high-ranking office in a State, including Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ministers for Foreign Affairs are entitled to immunity, which includes inviolability and complete immunity from criminal jurisdiction.

We recognise that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll. As the Prime Minister said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the UK has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However the Prime Minister was clear on the UK’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. We condemn the terrorist tactics of Hamas who fired rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires. Israel, like any state, has the right to ensure its own security, as its citizens also have the right to live without fear of attack.

The UK consistently urged Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint, and to help find ways to bring the situation to an end. The UK continues to urge the parties to give priority to reaching a durable solution for Gaza which addresses the underlying drivers of conflict, and to take the necessary practical steps to ensure Gaza’s reconstruction and economic recovery.

We welcome the fact that Israel is conducting internal investigations into specific incidents during Operation Protective Edge. Where there is evidence of wrongdoing those responsible must be held accountable whatever their position in society. Both parties must also demonstrate robust and credible internal investigations which are in line with international standards. We have also encouraged the Israeli authorities, as we do all countries, to cooperate with the independent Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the preliminary examination into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 13 June, 2014, whilst noting that Israel is not a State Party to the ICC.

The UK is a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation between our two countries across a range of fields. Our priority for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the achievement of a two-state solution, based on 1967 borders. We continue to believe that negotiations will be necessary in order to achieve this, and that both parties need to focus on steps that are conducive to peace. The UK Government will reinforce this message to Mr Netanyahu during his visit.



Big Ride


Gaza is tiny
Gaza is tiny

This is the borders of Gaza superimposed on a map of South Yorkshire.  Imagine that you are confined to this tiny area that even David Cameron has called a Prison Camp.  On top of that Palestinians suffer economic and military attacks by Israel.

Two days ago I cycled to Edale and back.  This sort of trip is impossible for Gazans.

The Big ride from Edinburgh to London is to raise money for a children’s charity in Gaza and raise solidarity as well.  For me it shows how free we are in comparison.

That is one of the reasons that I have signed up for the Edinburgh to Sheffield part of the ride.


An open letter to Paul Blomfield, MP

Dear Mr. Blomfield,

We have just been listening to the BBC news on the radio and heard many speakers voice a welcome for the agreement with Iran with regard to the development of nuclear weapons. The one dissenting voice belonged to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister; the BBC somehow omitted to mention that Israel already has a nuclear arsenal and that it has waged war on Gaza on three occasions in six years, killing approximately 3,500 Palestinians, at least a quarter of whom were children. These casualties were caused by the use of what are called “conventional” weapons and this brings me to the main reason why we are writing to you at this time.

The independent Israeli arms company Elbit Systems has several factories in the UK mostly concerned with producing components of “drones” for use by the Israeli Armed Forces. These drones carried out more than half the sorties on Gaza in the 2014 attack, directly involving parts of the British workforce in the deaths inflicted there.

As you may be aware, on 6th July 2015, people concerned about the role of this company attempted to demonstrate outside several Elbit installations. The ones from Sheffield generally went to the Shenstone factory in Staffordshire. As advance leaflets pointed out, trying to encourage support for the demonstration, the plan was “to convert a site of destruction into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment.” The police assembled there had other ideas. Firstly, they employed an eleventh hour injunction to try to prevent any assembly of protesters at all. Then, using aggressive tactics not seen at earlier demonstrations at this factory, they proceeded to manhandle and bundle people out of the way with precious little concern for their safety, arresting 19 people in the process. On an international scale – especially with regard to how matters are handled in Israel – these police tactics were mild: no one shot dead, no use of water-canon etc. But in the context of the traditions

in this country, the police tactics had more in common with Orgreave than with a recognition that legal, peaceful protest is long practised here and held to be an important right.

So, in the light of these matters, we would ask you to give your opinion on the following:

  • Is it acceptable for the police to employ court injunctions to prevent a peaceful

demonstration outside an arms factory, thereby preventing legitimate protest on an important issue?

  • Widening the issue, will you press for an arms embargo with regard to Israel, considering that the UK licensed £11.6 million worth of components to that country in 2014, many of which would have been employed in the carnage in Gaza? (Even Nick Clegg called for an embargo during the attack.)
  • One Sheffield resident has been arrested and awaits notification regarding charges. What support are you able to offer to this person? (She is in the Heeley constituency).

In conclusion, we note that there is to be an attempt to revivify a “Labour Friends of Palestine” in Sheffield. Is the arms embargo against Israel an issue this group will support?

Yours sincerely,