Category Archives: Sheffield activists’ blogs

All blogs written by Sheffield PSC activists

Facts Are Stubborn Things

On 3rd December a group of us were leafletting outside Barclays Bank.  We were pointing that Israel is an apartheid state.  Apartheid is a crime against humanity.  The bank finances the Israeli military via eg Elbit and its demolition of Palestinian homes via eg JCB.  We were pointing out that Barclays supported the South African Apartheid and it is supporting the new Israeli Apartheid.

One man refused to take a leaflet.  I asked him why not, and he replied that he does not hate Jews and was gone.

It would have been nice if he spent time with the Jews that were with us or listen to our speakers that were saying we oppose anti Semitism, it is a crime.  We in Palestine Solidarity Campaign have a material interest that Jews do not live in fear in the UK.  A wave of anti Semitism in the UK can only lead to more Jewish colonisers in Palestine, and deepen the idea that Jews can only live with Jews and Palestinians have no rights in their homeland.

Is there any hint of anti Semitism in what we are saying?  Only a minority of Jews live in Israel.  Of that minority only a minority consciously support the policy of apartheid.  

Yet this man “knows” we hate Jews.  So much so that he would not take our leaflet nor discuss with us. This man’s closed set of ideas came from a brilliant but dishonest campaign by a combination of the Israeli Embassy, right wing Labour, a cowardly media and the Tories.  The right wing campaign endlessly repeats “Israel is democratic” “Israel represents all Jews”  “Only Jew haters oppose Israel’s policies”. The fruits of the campaign are in the routine claims of anti Semitism, the expulsions of Jews and others from the Labour Party, the lack of honest reporting, and the huge number of closed minds

We have a hard task – but facts are stubborn things. Israel practises Apartheid.  Apartheid is a crime against humanity.  Apartheid is anti-democratic.   Look at the facts of domination by one group over another land and water thefts, the police checks, the jailings.   

Over time Starmer’s “I don’t believe that Israel is an Apartheid state”  will go the same way as “I believe the earth is flat” and for the same reason.  Facts are stubborn things.


Here are a few organisations that looked at Isreali reality and came to the conclusion that Israel practices apartheid.

Yesh Din is an Israeli human rights organisation that came to the conclusion that Israel practised Apartheid in the West Bank in July 2020 The Occupation of the West Bank and the Crime of Apartheid: Legal Opinion – Yesh Din (

B’Tsalem is another Israeli human rights organisation. Apartheid | B’Tselem ( Jan 2021

Palestinian, regional, and international groups submit report on Israeli apartheid to UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (

A/HRC/43/NGO/185 (

Human rights watch A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution | HRW 213 pages

Amnesty international produced a 280 page report Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity – Amnesty International

Opposition to Israeli Apartheid is not opposition to Jews

Sheffield and the weaponization of antisemitism.
Those of us who have opposed South African Apartheid, the various Nazi and fascist groups all our lives take an accusation of racism very seriously. Three cases have come up recently that highlight how accusations of antisemitism are used not to counter racism but to silence expressions of sympathy and support for the Palestinians and to restrict criticism of Israel. 

Case one: Sheffield University Palsoc used the word Holocaust.  They did not claim that it didn’t happen.  They did not state that it was not a crime, both of which would be grounds for an accusation of antisemitism.  Palsoc’s position is that it was a terrible thing and that they did not want genocide to be inflicted the on the Palestinians.  The placard was, in fact, not displayed but a complaint was made by a student. The Students Union’s disciplinary panel accepted that the placard did not intend hostility to Jews but, nevertheless, instructed Palsoc to make a public apology for it and for Palsoc members to go on an antisemitic awareness course.
Case two:  Shahd Abusalama was a PhD student at Sheffield Hallam.  We cannot go into the full details due to a non disclosure agreement. Three issues are in the public domain mainly as a result of a scurrilous article in the Jewish Chronicle.

1.        Shahd was accused of antisemitism and was found not guilty in February. She was subsequently, given a job as associate lecturer..
2.       “However, shortly afterwards she became the subject of a fresh complaint by a Jewish student, and the university commissioned a second investigation by human rights barrister Akua Reindorf.”

3.       The article does not reveal the outcome of the investigation, but tells us that Sheffield Hallam’s deputy vice chancellor, Richard Calvert said “She is no longer an employee of the university. She’s not worked for us for a number of months.”  Calvert and the paper did not mention the fact that she was cleared of antisemitism.  Thus, two failed accusations of antisemitism ended with her not having a job and a gagging clause.
Case three: Edward Sutherland, religious education teacher and ex-Convenor of the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland (COFIS), used a pseudonym to post antisemitic material on Facebook in a fruitless attempt to insinuate that they came from  Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC). At Sutherland’s disciplinary hearing in front of the Scottish Teaching Council, Hallam law lecturer Lesley Klaff defended him circulating blatantly antisemitic material .  Clearly protecting a fellow Zionist was more important for Klaff than opposing antisemitism and she has not
been censured by Hallam for bringing the university into disrepute.

Lovely words – shame about the Hypocrisy

We are bombarded with fine sounding ideas. “NATO is a defensive Alliance and poses no threat to any country” and “We are united in our commitment to democracy, individual liberty, human rights, and the rule of law.  We adhere to international law and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  We are committed to upholding the rules-based international order.”
So sad that these are based on lies. We could spend hours on the history of the dominant NATO country, the USA on the theme of “Deterring Democracy”. Let us look at NATO’s most recent efforts.
We are told that Russia was imperialist when it invaded Afghanistan. Yet when NATO did exactly the same thing and occupied Afghanistan with 100,000 soldiers, we are told it was defending democracy. If an organisation wants to help develop a country it sends in a mix of educators, engineers, and doctors not soldiers and bombs.
Nearly a year ago, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met at NATO Headquarters with H.E. Yair Lapid of Israel. The following is from the NATO press release: “Israel has been an important partner to NATO for more than 20 years, as well as an active member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. NATO and Israel cooperate in different domains, including science and technology, civil emergencies preparedness and management, resilience, counter-terrorism, military medicine, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and women, peace and security.”
Israel is an Apartheid state. NATO in its twenty years of cooperation with Israel has chosen to ignore the imposition of Apartheid on the Palestinians. So much for a rules based order and the rule of law (Apartheid is a crime against Humanity).
The press release goes on to say: “Furthermore, the NATO Secretary General restressed the Allies’ continued calls on Iran to uphold and fully implement all its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”
NATO closes its eyes to Israeli nuclear bombs just as it closes its eyes to Israeli Apartheid.
So much for beautiful words hiding ugly practices.

Anti Zionism is a duty Anti Semitism is a crime

Sometimes a small incident shines a light on a huge issue.  Before I look at the incident, we need to look at the background.

The standard defence of Israel claims that Israel is a democracy, Israel believes in minority rights, Israel has the right to defend itself, Israel is threatened by its neighbours.

These have weakened over the years.  Israel won a war in 1967.  Since then, Israel has become a regional super power.  It is backed by the world’s only super power, the United States, and lesser powers like Germany and Britain.  Israel fully uses its economic, military and diplomatic power.  That solid base has enabled Israel to entrench its Apartheid practices.

The 280 pages of the Amnesty report show the mechanics and injustice of Israeli Apartheid, the land thefts, the ethnic cleansing, the theft of water, and so on.

To all of the key ideas that used to defend Israel, there are stronger counter arguments. 

Israel is a democracy is counterposed by the fact that Israel is an Apartheid regime.  There is no democracy where part of the population has no vote and is deprived of many civil rights, such as where and with whom they can enter into marriage. 

Israel has the right to defend itself is countered with the comment ‘it is not Israel that needs defence, it is the Palestinians’.  Was Israel defending itself when the Israeli military raided Jenin?  Was it defending itself when the military killed  Shireen Aby Akleh, a clearly identified journalist?

Israel gives its minorities full rights –  is countered by page after page of evidence of land and water thefts and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.  This evidence is in the Amnesty report, the Human Rights Watch report, and many others.

So Israel has to use other methods to hide the truth.  Al Jazeera exposed how the Zionist lobby interferes with British Politics.  Electronic Intifada and others have exposed how the Zionist lobby worked with right wing Labour and the media to sack Corbyn. 

The key for Israeli apologists is to claim that everyone who is anti Zionist is anti Semitic.

Their problem is that the majority of Jews do not live in Israel, and many of them agree that Israel is an Apartheid state.  There are even strong religious Jews who believe that Israel is a blasphemy.  They believe that  Israel will be established only when the messiah returns.

The easiest way to provide evidence is to create it.  Take the case of Edward Sutherland.  He is a prominent member of Confederation of Friends of Israel.  He established a false persona as Stevie Harrison a pro Palestinian.  He then used an antisemitic trope and hinted at a criminal act. His co-conspirator promptly blamed Scottish PSC (for an incident that had not happened).

These Zionists’ actions show that they could not find convincing evidence of antisemitism within the PSC.  This is clear evidence that the two words are different because they have separate meaning.  Objection to a racist State, Israel, one that practices Apartheid, is anti-Zionism.  Hatred of an individual or group because they are Jews is Anti Semitism.  As the slogan says Anti Semitism is a crime – anti Zionism is a duty.

Al Jazeera “the lobby” is here.

Jewish voice for Labour is here on Corbyn is here

With friends like these…

Keir Starmer became a barrister in 1987.  The job of a barrister is to put his client’s case as clearly as possible.  Starmer’s speech to Labour Friends of Israel demonstrates the barrister’s art.

The full speech is here. There is a complete conflation between the Jewish community and Israel.  He says “Anti-Zionist antisemitism is the antithesis of the Labour tradition: It denies the Jewish people alone a right to self-determination”.

Here he uses the straw man strategy. Anti Semitism is a crime. Nobody who believes in justice can be anti Semitic. Everyone who believes in justice should fight against the form that Zionism has taken over the last seventy plus years. Starmer does not recognise Jews and other anti racists who oppose Zionism as it is practiced.

There is the appeal to Israeli leaders as his brothers and sisters in struggle “from Golda Meir to Chaim Herzog, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres –as comrades in the international struggle for equality, peace and freedom. “Social democrats who made the desert flower,” as Wilson put it”.

A history lesson focussing on the flaws of each of them would take too long. I will mention that Peres offered Apartheid South Africa nuclear warheads, was active in support of the illegal settlements, and was President of Israel 2007 to 2014, when Apartheid was being fully established. Not much of a struggle for “equality peace and freedom”. Then there is the lie that “Social democrats who made the desert flower”. No mention of Palestinians who had a thriving agriculture for over a thousand years. No mention of the water thefts from the River Jordan nor the planting of unsuitable pines over the ethnically cleansed and destroyed villages. When they burned they revealed the Palestinian terraces.

Starmer makes an appeal to Israel’s progressive policies.

“ Three years after the liberation of the camps, Israel’s Declaration of Independence committed the new state to Freedom, justice and peace; Complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; And freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.”

The issue is not “self determination of Jewish people.”  The issue is how do we establish a regime(s) between the river and the sea that gives all people the right to a peaceful life where they can practice their religion with equality under the law, and social justice. Starmer says he believes that the establishment of a democratic in Palestine provides that solution.  Nearly a decade ago Manuel Hassassian was speaking in Sheffield.  He said something like “As a diplomat from Palestine our position is that we want a Palestinian State based on the pre 1967 borders.”  He paused took two paces to the left and continued “As an academic, Israel has created facts on the ground that make a two state solution impossible.”  Since then the embedding of Israeli oppression of Palestinians has become deeper and wider.

Human Rights Watch stated “that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT. In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid”.

It is not enough that Starmer does not comment on this, nor the other reports that preceded it. He says “Israel herself is the first to acknowledge that at times she falls short of these [equality and social justice] goals”. And continues “That is why I am both a friend of Israel and a friend of Palestine.”

In summary Starmer refuses to acknowledge the reality of Israeli Apartheid, refuses to acknowledge that Israel has almost certainly destroyed a two state solution.  He opposes peaceful BDS efforts to pressurise Israel  into recognising basic human rights of Palestinians (right of return, right to equality, end of occupation). 

He happily repeats myths “Israel embodies progressive values” and “[Israeli]Social democrats who made the desert flower,”  He opposes BDS because it would “hurt the people of Israel and Palestine” and damage trade between the UK and Israel.

He looks at oppressor and the oppressed and says “That is why I am both a friend of Israel and a friend of Palestine.”  But everything he proposes weakens the Palestinians and strengthens Israel.


Priti Patel has stated that she intends to redefine the Political wing of Hamas as terrorist.  The governments of the USA and UK have never forgiven Hamas for winning the 2006 Palestinian election.  They refused to recognise the democratically newly elected Government.  When Hamas and the PLO organised a joint Government in 2007, they refused to recognise that either.

Since then Israel has blockaded Gaza, and tightened up its occupation of the West Bank.  It has made clear that it intends to annex great swathes of the West Bank into Israel.  Various bodies, the most recent being Human Rights Watch, have looked at the way Israel dominates Palestinians in the area that it controls, and decided that it satisfies the definition of Apartheid[i].

For us in the PSC, separate housing, separate laws, separate access to water, separate roads constitute Apartheid.  Apartheid is a crime under International Law.

The Cambridge dictionary defines terrorist as “someone who uses violent action, or threats of violent action, for political purposes”.

Given that forced transfer of population, land theft, resources theft and supporting Apartheid are all crimes, Israeli settlers, soldiers, and politicians are all terrorists.

So can we expect Preti Patel to announce that Netanyahu, Tzipi Hotovley, Naftali Bennett and the IDF as terrorist? Well no, the right are not interested in truth and justice, the word terrorist is reserved for those who oppose their rule.

Today very few people defend South African Apartheid.  Yet Nelson Mandela and the ANC were declared a terrorist up to 2008[ii].

According to General Rawlinson[iii] Commander in Chief, the British  army India believed “you have to use terrorism whether you like it or not.”  Yet it was the pacifist Gandhi who was branded a terrorist[iv].

British rule in Kenya was brutal.[v]  According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, 90,000 Kenyans were killed, tortured or maimed during the conflict, and 160,000 were held in inhumane prison camps.  “The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place.”  Yet it was the Mau Mau and Kenyatta that were declared terrorist. 

The Tories supported South African Apartheid it is not surprising they support the Israeli version.

[i] Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution | HRW

[ii] BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Mandela taken off US terror list

[iii] Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson – Wikipedia

[iv] Gandhi was declared terrorist and declaration sold cheaply – Oneindia News

[v] British government apologizes for colonial abuses in Kenya – Los Angeles Times (

Rally Sat 27th November

Sheffield PSC has called for a rally on Saturday November 27th 11 a.m. This is to commemorate the UN day of solidarity with the Palestinians.

A Human Rights Watch report stated

“Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

Join us on sat 27th November 11 am Sheffield Town Hall, or join the cyclecade (cavalcade, but with bikes,) 10 am Heeley Retail Park

Cop 26 Palestinians barred

Human Rights Watch showed that Israel operates Apartheid in the area that it controls.  One of the discriminatory policies was with the Covid vaccinations.  All adults in Israel were offered a jab and all the 600,000 illegal settlers in the West Bank were offered a jab but not the Palestinians.

This is in defiance of the Fourth Geneva rule that states that an occupying power must look after the health of the occupied population.

Instead of condemning this blatant discrimination commentators like the BBC congratulated Israel for its prompt vaccination program.   

The UK recognises the Israeli administered vaccinations.  It does not recognise the vaccinations carried out by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The result is that Palestinians will not be able to come to Cop 26.

However, organisations like the racist Jewish National Fund which has a record of complicity in Israeli Apartheid are able to attend.

The UK authorities favour the oppressor rather than the oppressed

Beita – the fight for their land

I have been active in politics for a long time and been to many meetings.  The Zoom live link on Friday, to one of the weekly demonstrations by Beita villagers by which Sheffield PSC, Scottish PSC and Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine were able to act as witnesses and discuss with Palestinians grassroot activists was one of the most moving in my life.

An Israeli settlers’ group decided to occupy a hilltop near Beita.  They have no legal ownership of the land.  Not under International law, not under Palestinian law not even under Israeli law.  There are no state or regional plans that show an Israeli settlement.  These ultra-nationalists believe the Palestinians have no rights in Palestine.  They simply started building.  The Israeli Army has been told to demolish the settlement.  The settlers file applications, submit plans, add buildings, appeal to the Israeli courts.  The owners of the land, the people from the village of Beita strongly object to their land being stolen so they protest.  The army automatically sides with the illegal settlers.  The result is that Palestinians get killed, including children.

An Israeli settlement at Beita further carves up the West Bank and would provide a useful link between the illegal settlement of Ariel and the illegal Israeli controlled Jordan valley.  It would also cut the link from Nablus to Ramallah and the south.

What was remarkable about Friday’s programme was that we were taken to one of the regular protests.  We could see the tear gas rising from the valley where the soldiers were positioned.

We could speak* to ordinary Palestinians of all ages who expressed their dignified resistance to the injustice they faced.

They did not hate Jews.  They had not used violence.  They were determined. What was happening was simply wrong and they wanted the world to know.

While the Palestinians did not use violence the Israeli army did.

Since 1967, the villagers have suffered 87 deaths in the face of live fire from the Israeli military. In May, two teenagers, Mohammed Said Mohammed Hamayel (16) and his friend Ahmad Zahi Ibrahim Bani-Shamsa (15) were shot dead by Israeli fire. Six children have been killed in Beita in the last year.

This in a microcosm is what is happening across the whole of Palestine.  In Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, in Al Araqib, Umm al Hiran, Hebron and so on.  Israel does this because it is militarily and economically stronger.  Israel does it because it is shielded from criticism.  The Tory government gives military, economic and diplomatic support for Israel, while the Labour Party leadership act as cheerleaders.  The various “friends of Israel” give it financial, legal, and vocal support. 

Today very few people own up to having supported South African Apartheid.  There will come a time when very few will support Israeli Apartheid.  It is ugly and it is inhuman.  No doubt some of the cheerleaders for Israel will say “we never knew that it was so bad”. 
Read reports and join PSC.

  •  We owe a huge gratitude to Musheir El Farra, Chair of Sheffield PSC, who translated from Arabic to English.
  • The Peace now movement has written a moving peice.
  • The New York Times has a report.