The charges against those protesters at Elbit have now been dropped by the prosecution and they do not have to go to court next week.
As many as thirty protesters gathered outside the Co-Operative Bank on Pinstone Street in Sheffield today to protest against their politically inspired action to close solidarity accounts.
Ranging from campaigning account of the Sheffield PSC to donation funds such as the Sheffield Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund, the claim has been that funds will go to ‘terrorist organisations’ as this is a conflict zone. No mention made of funds going to Israel which is also in the conflict zone.
Many of us have banked with the Co-op for years. We do so not because of their financial wizardry, but because of their reputation as an “ethical bank”. We need to think again.
In Sheffield, the PSC account, the Yorkshire Palestine Cultural Exchange account and the Sheffield Palestine Women’s Scholarship Fund (a Registered Charity) have all been given notice of closure.
Across the country, twenty accounts belonging to groups which support the Palestinian cause are to be closed, including national PSC. PSC’s legal challenge to the Co-op is in the pipeline.
The Co-op has decided to define accounts which support legitimate, morally valid work for justice as incompatible with their “risk appetite”. There is more than one kind of risk for a bank. What if all of us who currently bank with Co-op decide that their business is incompatible with our “ethical appetite”?
In the face of increasing colonialist violence, Palestinians continue to resist the occupation and ethnic cleansing. Shallow reporting in the main press ignores the illegality of the occupation and portrays the conflict as one between people of equal strength and rights.
Abut 70 people from Sheffield and Rotherham gathered at Sheffield Town Hall today in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of this renewed onslaught.
About 1000 people marched in Cardiff on Sunday 6th September to protest at the Welsh FA hosting Israel in the European Championship qualifier. A great celebratory atmosphere, helped by the turn out and weather, and an i ternational presence.
Last Wednesday about 100 people greeted the 120 riders of the big ride at the Town Hall.
A long wait – their seemed to be a negative time warp as the riders made their way from Meadowhall – and then suddenly they showered in.
The final leg from Barnsley to Sheffield is captured here on You Tube
Pictures from Edinburgh to Sheffield can be found here.
We are today launching an appeal to help with the costs being incurred following the July 6th protest which occurred at the Elbit drone engine factory, Shenstone, at which 19 people were arrested, including two who were part of the Sheffield group at the protest.
Find out more here
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?