Mohammed Tota, sand sculptor of Gaza, greets the New Year
Welcome to the website of Liverpool Friends of Palestine.
On other pages you will find out more about the issues. You’ll also find some recommendations of books, films and so on and some links to other organisations. There’s a ‘basic history’ in the ‘Palestine’ section and there’s even a quiz to test your knowledge! Elsewhere on the net, we have a Facebook page and you can just follow this link. You can also follow us on Twitter at @Livfop.
Wednesday 12th, 7pm – our usual monthly meeting is held on zoom. Agendas etc go out separately to members.
Thursday 13th, 6pm – screening of Gatekeepers, a remarkable documentary in which successive Israeli security chiefs speak candidly about their role in oppressing the Palestinians. Hosted by the Balfour Project, register for £10 HERE.
Tuesday 25th,3pm – The plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, webinar hosted by the Balfour Project. egister free HERE.
RIP DESMOND TUTU
The world has mourned the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on 26 December 2021. He is best known for his resolute opposition to apartheid in his native South Africa. Messages from all parts of the establishment have tended to omit his equally forthright condemnation of Israeli apartheid (an example is the short clip HERE).. Even the Guardian newspaper took its time before including THIS TRIBUTE. Desmond Tutu helped many to understand the similarities between the systems of Israel and apartheid South Africa and was not afraid to make his views clear. We will remember him.
STAND WITH THE SIX
On 19 October the Israeli Defence Minister announced that six Palestinian Non-governmental Organisations would be designated as ‘terrorist’. A subsequent military order extended this designation to cover the West Bank area. The six organisations are Addameer, Defence for Children Internationanl Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees, the Bisan Centre, Al-Haq and the Union of Palestinian Womens Committees.
This drastic step, that renders the six organisations liable to immediate enforcement action, has not been taken suddenly. It is reported that as long ago as May the Israeli government circulated a 74-page dossier among European governments that claimed to provide evidence for proscribing those organisations. Those goverments were not impressed, however and none have endorsed the move. The Israeli government is reported HERE as having another go in January 2022, presenting another unconvincing dossier.
The international mobilisation has been swift. The move is described by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem as ‘an act characteristic of totalitarian regimes’.The six organisations themselves have expressed their opposition in a webinar HERE. In Britain, the response of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign can be found HERE, while a statement from the TUC and eleven major trade unions can be found HERE. A statement from members of Parliament’s around Europe – on this and other issues – is HERE. You can sign a petition #Standwiththe6 HERE.
SOLIDARITY IS A VERB – EMMA WATSON
On 2 January the British actress Emma Watson, star of the Harry Potter films,posted a support for the Palestinians on her instagram account: Solidarity is a verb’. In the caption she added a quote from scholar and activist Sara Ahmed: “Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future. Solidarity involves commitment, and work,”
She was supported by fellow-actress Miriam Margolyes who said: “I totally support Emma Watson’s recent remarks on Palestine. All decent people should too. The Israeli treatment of Palestinians is disgraceful. Anti-semitism is not at issue. What matters is opposing cruelty, speaking out for compassion. Criticising Israel is not in itself, an anti-Semitic stance. Conflating the two is a form of disguised censorship.” .
A further forty people from the world of film have signed this open letter: We join Emma Watson in support of the simple statement that ‘solidarity is a verb’, including meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law. We oppose injustice anywhere in the world and stand with all those seeking an end to oppression. We stand against ongoing Israeli attempts to forcibly displace Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory. We recognize the underlying power imbalance between Israel, the occupying power, and the Palestinians, the people under a system of military occupation and apartheid, as described by Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization, and by Palestinian and international human rights experts.We condemn all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Opposition to a political system or policy is distinct from bigotry, hatred and discrimination targeting any group of humans based on their identity. We see the former as a legitimate and necessary form of political and ethical expression and the latter as racism – pure and simple.The late Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Heeding Tutu’s moral appeal, we stand on the side of justice, freedom, and equal rights for all. This is the least we can do.
ELBIT OUT OF OLDHAM
In January the Israeli arms firm Elbit Systems sold its Ferranti factory premises in Oldham. The factory has been the target of protests over the past eighteen months as it has been manufafcturing drones used by the Israeli armed forces against Palestinians. Since May 2021 there have been weekly demonstrations outside the factory called by Oldham Peace and Justice and Palestine Action. The factory has also been occupied and on several occasions sprayed with red paint.
The premises have been sold to TT Electronics, who announce that ‘the addition of their talented team of engineers and product portfolio will help us build leading positions in high-reliability markets including aerospace and defence.’ It remains to be seen what will be produced on the site in future.
PALESTINIANS IN ISRAELI PRISONS
The Israeli security state suffered a big blow to its pride when six Palestinian prisoners dug their way out of the maximum security Gilboa prison on 6 September. Zakaria al-Zubaidi, Munadel Yaqoub Nafi’at, Mohammad Qassem al-Arida, Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri, Ayham Fouad Kamamji, and Mahmoud Abdullah al-Arida. The tunnel under the outer walls, reportedly dug with a rusty spoon, came out just under a watchtower, but the six were able to walk away freely.
Their freedom did not last long and all were recaptured within a fortnight. They now face charges of escaping from custody that could give them additional sentences. But the escape is a boost for Palestinian morale as the BBC show in THIS REPORT.
Over 500 Palestinians are held in Israeli prisons without charge under what is called ‘admiinistrative detention’. The procedure derives from British regulations from the days when Britain held Palestine under a League of Nations mandate: no formal charge or trial is involved and the detention can be extended indefinitely. In October 2020 Hisham Abu Hawash was detained in this way. He went on hunger strike to demand his release. After 141 days he was in a coma and close to death. As the journalist Ramzy Baroud wrote HERE, the Israeli government (at last) feared widespread resistance if he were to die and he has now been given a release date of 26 February.
These developments come as Palestinian prisoners refuse to take part in Israeli courts that deal with administrative detention, citing the inherent unfairness in the procedures.
For more background on this issue see THIS FACTSHEET prepared by the Institute for Middle East Understanding in September 2021
ICE CREAM WARS
On 19 July the American ice cream firm Ben and Jerry’s announced that from the end of next year they will not sell their ice cream in the ‘occupied Palestinian Territories’, meaning that they will no longer cool the brows of racist settlers in the West Bank.
Their statement reads: We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners. We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.
The reaction of Israeli public figures has been pretty much a meltdown. The Israeli President denounced the move as a form of terrorism, while some American politicians are trying to get action taken under American anti-sanctions laws. In short, those who have spent years saying that boycotts don’t work are… calling for a boycott!
ISRAEL – AN APARTHEID STATE
The Israeli human rights organisation Btselem produced on 12 January a report that sets out clearly how Israel is properly described as an apartheid state. Read their report HERE. Evidence pointing in the same direction has been gathered by the international organisation Human Rights Watch whose report, entitled A Threshold Crossed, can be found HERE.
The Balfour Project have in July put up a Palestinian art exhibition online, that includes maps of Palestine. You can view it HERE.
Another interesting map can be found HERE. Two detailed Palestine maps from 1947 and 1951 are superimposed and you can slide from one to the other. The later map has the lines marking out the West Bank and Gaza strip.
WHERE IS PALESTINE? – NEW REPORT
In September 2021 the charity Christian Aid produced a report entitled Where is Palestine: a story of loss, inequality and failure. “This report details the repeated violations of basic human rights, that Palestinians experience, drawing on Christian Aid’s decades of work with the poorest communities in the region and the expertise and experience of our partners. We show how the situation takes away the dignity that we should all be entitled to live with. You can read the report HERE.
PALESTINIANS IN ISRAELI POLITICS
After four General Elections in two years, Israel’s Parliament is still effectively deadlocked. Each government has shown itself more racist than the last and the new regime is no exception. Netanyahu and his Likud party remain the largest grouping but their coalition with racist settler parties has fallen just short of a majority. An equally-racist coalition headed by Bennett and Lapid has taken power… BUT this has only been possible with the support of the 4 seats of the United Arab List (which is Islamist and socially conservative and separate from the ‘Arab Joint List’). We shall see how long this arrangement lasts!
HELP PALESTINIANS FIGHT THE VIRUS
The impact of the COVID-19 virus is that much greater when medical services are thin on the ground or when your community is under siege and/or occupation. The authorities on the West Bank and in Gaza are making a much better job than Britain in containing the virus and keeping down the numbers affected. But materials are still in crucially short supply. We would encourage you to spare a donation to one of these two charitable agencies:
- Medical Aid for Palestinians have special programmes in Gaza, the West Bank and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Their appeal is on the front page of their website which is here: www.map.org.uk. Their special briefing (23 July) on COVID19 and the systematic neglect of East Jerusalem can be watched online HERE.
- The Middle East Childrens Alliance supports projects for Palestinian children and rerugees from Syria. Their special appeal for medical supplies for Gaza is on the front page of their website which is here: www.mecaforpeace.org
A series of short films on the impact of COVID-19 on Palestine is produced by Mondoweiss and can be seen HERE.
As in Britain, the coronavirus and the responses have shown up the faultlines in Palestinian society and in particular the effects of Israeli occupation. The Israeli government has claimed to pioneer nationwide vaccination and has sent supplies to other countries, but has failed to include Palestinians on the West Bank in disregard of its responsibilities as an occupying power. See HERE for a briefing from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Palestine.
SOME MOVEMENT BY HSBC
The banking giant HSBC has come under a lot of pressure for the loans it makes that prop up the Israeli arms trade and finance the oppression of the Palestinians. So it was good to see that the bank has withdrawn its financial support for the Israeli arms firm Elbit (which has factories in Britain). That is however only one small step. HSBC continues to do business with over a dozen companies selling military equipment and technology used in human rights violation, including Caterpillar (whose bulldozers are used in demolition of Palestinian homes and properties) and BAE Systems (whose weapons are used in war crimes by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other repressive regimes). The campaign to end HSBC’s links with these companies continues. You can sign an online petition linked at the foot of this page.
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME
If you need any reminding of why racism has no place in sport, watch THIS TRAILER for the documentary ‘Forever Pure’ on the Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem. It is a withering critique of a club that prides itself on having no Arab players. Even the signing (in 2012) of two players from Chechnya (who were Muslims) led to widespread protests. Just to make the point, the club renamed itself Beitar Trump Jerusalem! More recently, the club has been partially bought by a sheikh in Abu Dhabi and the racist fans have made their disapproval clear.
It is therefore hardly surprising that FC Barcelona, having unwisely scheduled a friendly game against this club, insisted that the game be played outside Jerusalem: the Palestine FA had pointed out that the Beitar stadium is actually built on the rujns of a Palestinian village Al-Mahla that was ethnically cleansed in 1948. Beitar refused so the game was called off.
Elsewhere in the footballing world, the Israeli FA has been under pressure to exclude six of its member clubs that are based in illegal settlements. See HERE for a detailed investigation by Human Rights Watch. A ruling from FIFA (the international federation) has let the Israeli FA off the hook but the issue remains live.
As Israeli football clubs take part in European competition, so the protests follow them. The biggest demonstrations have been at Celtic Park where supporters regularly display Palestine flags.. A more recent appeal to Scotland supporters, made on the eve of an international fixture, is HERE.
THE ISRAEL LOBBY
Labour apologists for Israeli apartheid still have to live with the findings of THIS DOCUMENTARY made by Al-Jazeera. A six-month investigation in 2016 by an undercover reporter produced compelling footage of an Israeli embassy official openly discussing with Labour fgures the setting-up of pro-Israel groups and ‘taking down’ politicians up to and including a Government minister. Needless to say there were cries of outrage about the programmes but all the complaints made to Ofcom were dismissed. In fact the programme won a CINE award in the USA.
Then it was the turn of the Conservatives. While holding the post of Development Secretary, Priti Patel spent much of her 2017 ‘holiday’ meeting Israeli government officials and came back with plans to divert British aid money to help Israel’s war effort against Syria (by funding hospitals in the occupied Golan heights). Whoops, the story got out and she had to resign. Was she acting alone? She is now Home Secretary.
Al-Jazeera have also made an expose of the Israel lobby in the USA. It was kept under wraps for some time but eventually leaked out and can be found on the website of the Electronic Intifada HERE.
PETITIONS YOU CAN SIGN
Close the Israeli arms factory in Oldham
A call to close the Elbit arms factory in Oldham, that makes weapons used by the Israeli army and to convert it to peaceful use is HERE.
Children in Military Custody
Call for an end to the mistreatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military detention – a petition is HERE.
Stop an eviction in East Jerusalem
Call on your MP to sign Early Day Motion 529: You can make the request from HERE. See the page on Early Day Motions elsewhere on this site.
Stop Arming Israel
Call on the HSBC bank to stop funding the arms trade with Israel: a standard email is HERE.
Give Puma the Boot
Ask selected football clubs to break sponsorship ties with Puma as Puma sponsor Israel’s national football association. A standard email is HERE.
Keep Palestine on the map
Googlemap simply does not mention Palestine at all. The petition to include is HERE. The petition now has over 2.25 million signatures.