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Monday, 5 December 2016

Just Another Example of Everyday Israeli Racism - Announcements will no longer be made in Arabic on Be’er Sheva Buses

All it took were a few  complaints for the Government’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to act 

A bus going to Be'er Sheva stops in the Bedouin town of Hura, August 4, 2016. Eliyahu Hershkovitz
In Israel Arabic is officially a language alongside Hebrew.  However like all things in Israel, equality is more a matter of public relations than actuality.  When the Mayor of Be’er Sheva Rubik Danilovich asked Transportation Minister Katz to ban announcements in Arabic, he was more than willing to comply.
Illustrative photo of a Dan bus. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
You see Israel is a Jewish state and what can be more natural than to ban announcements that aren’t in Hebrew?  This comes hot on the heels of government legislation to ban the use of loud speakers in the Muslim call to prayer.  This was classified as ‘noise pollution’.  You will be happy to know that the fears of Orthodox Jews that this could also be used to ban similar announcements by Jewish religious authorities were soon allayed.  The bill made a specific exception for announcements for the Jewish religion!

It's interesting that Breibart News, the far-Right news site associated with the Alt-Right and Trump's government covered this under the heading Israeli Bus Company Suspends Arabic-Language Announcements Amid Complaints

The conduct of the Transportation Ministry and Be’er Sheva’s mayor creates a dangerous precedent, whereby the writers of a few posts are given the power to withhold other citizens' basic rights.

Haaretz Editorial Dec 01, 2016 1:28 AM
An Israeli bus company has removed Arabic from its buses in a southern city following public pressure [File: Ammar Awad/Reuters]
Be’er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich is extremely sensitive to the needs of his city’s Jewish residents. When a few of them wished to see a halt to the use of Arabic announcements on the Dan company’s Be’er Sheva bus lines, Danilovich quickly implored the Transportation Ministry to remove the offending “hazard.” The Transportation Ministry, headed by MK Yisrael Katz, willingly complied and ordered the bus company to cease using Arabic-language announcements.

It took just one week, since this bus company began operating in the city, for Be’er Sheva residents, the mayor and the Transportation Ministry to erect a dam to keep Arabic out of the city’s public space. All it took was a few angry posts from residents – “As far as I know, Be’er Sheva is not an Arab city;” “It looks like I’m living in Hebron,” and others – to spur the mayor to action. Danilovich’s explanation: “When bilingual announcements are implemented throughout the country, they will also be implemented in Be’er Sheva.”
Al-Omeri mosque in Lod, Israel, a city of Arabs and Jews. A proposal backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would authorize the government to ban the use of loudspeakers by mosques and other houses of worship across the country. Credit Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times        
Be’er Sheva, a metropolitan center for tens of thousands of Arab citizens, is not keen to serve as an example for other cities. The Arab citizens who live in and around the city will continue to “enjoy” the status of tourists who aren’t entitled to announcements in their language, which is also an official state language.

The problem with the conduct of the Transportation Ministry and Be’er Sheva’s mayor isn’t just that it removes an important aid for Arab citizens who use the city’s public transportation. It also creates a dangerous precedent, whereby the writers of a few posts are given the power to withhold other citizens' basic rights. This is certainly a basic right, also considering that some of this population is not literate and is not adequately served by the written signs in Arabic.

Worse, this precedent is a warning signal to all public transportation companies that dare consider introducing Arabic announcements on their buses. The position taken by the Transportation Ministry — that signs and announcements in Arabic will be implemented in locales where more than half of the residents are Arabic-speakers, is also unacceptable. Arab citizens also use bus lines outside of Arab areas.

This stance shows that the Minister Katz and the Transportation Ministry are trying to circumvent the law concerning the status of the Arabic language, and in so doing serve as an example to other government ministries. The position taken by Mayor Danilovich, who takes pride in his activity on behalf of the Bedouin in the Negev, is also disappointing. This wrongheaded policy should be immediately reversed. The Transportation Ministry should rescind its directive to the Dan Be’er Sheva bus company, and Be’er Sheva’s mayor should restore the Arabic language to the city’s buses

See Israeli bus company bows to pressure, drops announcements in Arabic Palestinians in Israel decry removal of Arabic on buses

Saturday, 3 December 2016

New Statesman Feels the Heat as Hundreds Protest The Censorship of Palestinian Article - Zionist UK Media Watch Denies Its Role

New Statesman Editor Jason Cowley Personally Rings Up Long Time Subscriber to Find Out Why He Cancelled 
Editor Simon Cowley - feeling the heat
The New Statesman Editorial Collective is feeling the heat over their decision to comply with the demands of UK Media Watch to remove an article.

I received this message today from a long-time subscriber.

----- Forwarded Message -----

Sent: Thursday, 1 December 2016, 20:17
Subject: Re: Sign the Petition to Boycott the New Statesman

For what it's worth, I cancelled my decade long subscription to New Statesman today, and to my great surprise promptly received a phone call from editor Jason Cowley.

First up he proffered an alternative explanation to the censorship story, claiming that the article in question had been a paid commercial piece inconsistent with the eligibility criteria. He denied all knowledge of outside intervention and insisted that PSC were acting in bad faith.

But more interestingly from my point of view, I had the opportunity to air long felt grievances about NS positioning on the Israel-Palestine issue more generally.

He didn't attempt directly to contradict my assertion that the magazine is liberal Zionist in its editorial and selection of content. He merely stated support for "the Jewish State" and a two state solution.

He did seem to take on my gravely articulated suggestion that Israel is becoming ever more extreme in its behaviour and that sooner or later, a publication that defines itself by left progressive values may have to reassess its position. I was surprised by his, almost humble, acknowledgment of this, but I'm sure this conciliatory stance is primarily a damage limitation exercise. Who knows how many other long term subscribers like me are pulling the plug!
Keeping quiet - Clinton supporter Laurie 'ex-red' Penney
It is clear that the campaign against the New Statesman's censorship is having an effect if the editor rings up someone who has cancelled their subscription.  I have also heard from other sources that there are ructions within the editorial board of the New Statesman as a result of what has happened. In particular some of its more left-wing contributors (no not Owen Jones!) are also unhappy about the heavy handed censorship of Cowley and Helen Lewis.

The attempt to suggest that the article was an 'advertorial' is merely smoke and mirrors.  The article that was pulled clearly said 'Presented by Palestine Solidarity Campaign' - there was a partnership between PSC and the New Statesman.  The nature of that partnership is irrelevant.  This was an article by Salah Ajarma, a well known Palestinian activist and founder of the Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida refugee camp outside Bethlehem. 

The fact is that an article by a peace activist living under a 50 year old military occupation by the world's fourth major military power was pulled at the behest of an organisation which is a propaganda and lobby organisation acting on behalf of the same military power.  Imagine in the days of South African Apartheid, an article by an anti-Apartheid activist being pulled at the instigation of John Carlisle MP, a well known Tory MP who supported the South African state or an article on Chile by an opponent of the Pinochet regime being pulled at the behest of the military regime there.

What happened is a disgrace.  Israel operates two legal systems on the West Bank.  One, a military regime and military law for the Palestinians and another is the civil Israeli legal system for Jewish settlers.  In military courts there is a 99.7% conviction rate.  Palestinians have no right to a lawyer, cannot see a lawyer for weeks on end, are subject to torture as a matter of course and are convicted in a language that they don't even understand.  This is the system that the New Statesman, in bowing to the demands of an quasi-Israeli government organisation has upheld.

The strangulation of Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Christian religion, by Israel and its Apartheid Wall, an ugly structure over twice as high as the Berlin Wall, is a matter of fact.  The commercial life of Bethlehem is slowly being squeezed out of it by Israel's occupation.  In its place we see settlements like Gilo, which UK Media describes as a 'neighbourhood of southern Jerusalem.'  The New Statesman took silenced the voice of the oppressed living in a refugee camp created by Israel's ethnic cleansing, at the behest of an Israeli funded McCarthyist organisation.  Next time the New Statesman and its writers discusses identity politics and cultural racism it can reflect on its own practices.  Or maybe not.

The article that was pulled at the behest of Israeli funded McCarthyist organisation UK Media Watch
UK Media Watch used to be called CIF Watch after the Guardian's Comment is Free.  UKMW boasts about the fact that it helped neutralise CIF's original balanced coverage of Palestine ['Indeed, our transition to UKMW was prompted by the general consensus that, partly due to our efforts, the Guardian’s malign obsession with Israel had somewhat abated, and their legitimization of antisemitic tropes (above and below the line) had at least diminished].  UKMW is now trying to repeat the same trick with other media outlets and it is clear that it has gained a scalp with the pusillanimous Jason Cowley and Helen Lewis of the New Statesman.

In its first tweet UKMW address Deputy Editor Helen Lewis thus:

Lewis jumped as UKMW barked.  In its next tweek UKMW boasted that 'Following a @UKMediaWatch post & @CAMERAorg campaign, @NewStatesman removed an article published in collaboration w/ anti-Israel group PSC!'

CAMERA is a US based McCarthyite organisation, one of a stable of organisations whose sole purpose is to close down Palestinian voices.   That the New Statesman jumped to the UKMW/Camera bark is in itself a betrayal of the values it purports to espouse.

First they boast of their success at another media scalp with REMOVED across the erased article
However, following the campaign of this Blog, PSC and Electronic Intifada, UKMW began to deny its role.  When you stand up to these organisations they back off.  Unfortunately magazines like the NS lack the requisite backbone to stand up for free speech, which is why it takes blogs like t his one to do so on their behalf.  Now the story is that apparently the decision of the New Statesman to censor  Salah Ajarma's article had nothing to do with their campaign or lobby - it was coincidental!  Such are the lies of the Zionist lobby.

Now UKMW pretends that it didn't LOBBY the NS.  It took its own decision without any pressure at all!

We should not however let up because the NS occupies a pivotal position in the Labour Party and Trade Union spectrum. It not only has writers like Laura Penny and Owen Jones who purport to be on the Left but it is very much part of Labour's Fabian tradition (don't forget Tony Benn was also a Fabian). For it to actually pull an article which it has already put up, at the behest of a settler colonial regime and its propaganda outlets is a first.

Over 400 people have signed the petition so far but we need at least a thousand if not more. If you haven't signed please do so now.

Also please share it on FB, Twitter etc.  What we are defending is the right to speak out on Palestine, a right which is under attack, not only by UK Media Watch, CAMERA and other Zionist lobby groups like Conservative/Labour Friends of Israel and people like Eric Pickles/Tom Watson MP, but by the cowardly behaviour of so-called friends of the free press like the New Statesman.

We not only expect this article to be reinstated but for the New Statesman to print an apology.  The best form of apology would be for Cowley and Lewis to depart.

Tony Greenstein


If you want to write to the editor and assistants at the NS then their email addresses are:

Jason Cowley
Deputy Editor
Helen Lewis
Features editor
Xan Rice
Political Editor
George Eaton
Culture Editor
Tom Gatti
Arts Editor
Kate Mossman
Assistant Editor
Michael Prodger
Assistant Editor
Caroline Crampton
Creative Editor
Gerry Brakus
Editorial Assistant
India Bourke
Chief Sub-Editor
Nana Yaa Mensah
Thomas Calvocoressi
Yo Zushi
Dan Murrell
Digital Editor
Serena Kutchinsky
Deputy Web Editor
Anoosh Chakelian
Special Correspondent
Stephen Bush
Staggers Editor
Julia Rampen
Online Writer (pop culture)
Anna Leszkiewicz
Online Writer (tech and digital culture)
Amelia Tait

Jonn Elledge

If Jews in Britain were treated as Israeli Palestinians then they could cry 'anti-Semitism'

It's Fun Being an Arab in Israel

There are very few good columnists on Israeli newspapers, i.e. one’s who are not racists and who empathise with Israel’s Palestinian population.  Ha’aretz, Israel’s sole liberal daily has two such journalists – Gideon Levy and Amira Hass.
Israeli Palestinians can still vote for their representatives in Israel (though nearly 50% of Israeli Jews want to strip them of this right) but once elected they are physically attacked by other members, treated with disdain, suspended from speaking and violently removed from the rostrum
Read this excellent article which gives you an insight into how Israel’s Arab population might feel as a population which is treated like unwanted guests in the Jewish state.  85% of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948, the remaining 50,000 or so were put under military rule until 1966, by the Israeli Labour Party government. 

Israel’s Arab population has always been seen as a potential fifth column, traitors within.  In 1956 nearly 50 villagers in Kfar Kassem, a village in The Triangle in the Galilee, returning from work in the fields, were mowed down by the military.  A curfew had been imposed and they were unwittingly breaking it.  No Israeli soldier ever saw the inside of a gaol.  That is how it has always been.  Killing an Arab is no big deal.  
This is how Israeli hasbarah (propaganda) would like you to see it - Arabs exercising their democratic rights
Today the Israeli of the year for Israel Hayom, the largest circulation paper in Israel is Elor Azaria, a soldier who deliberately shot in the head a Palestinian in Hebron, while he was lying on the ground gravely injured.  It is standard practice in the Israeli army to 'check the kill' as it is called, to ensure that those wounded don't survive.  Unfortunately what happened was caught on camera by a Palestinian.  The army was forced to put him on trial but the charge was soon reduced to manslaughter and the murderer, an out and out Kach racist, is now a hero.  This is Israel 2016.

Tony Greenstein  
Jamal Zahalka - leader of the 3 strong Balad nationalist party in the Knesset - all of whose members have been suspended at least once in this parliamentary session

Arabs in Israel demonstrate amazing restraint and loyalty, but are the victims of appalling treatment by the state and other Israelis. One day, this is all going to explode.

Gideon Levy Nov 27, 2016 1:35 AM

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. If you’re a pharmacist at a high-street drugstore, you can wake up to discover that you’re a potential arsonist. A nursery-school teacher in Shfaram gets up and finds she’s a member of the Islamic State group. Every construction worker from Taibeh is part of a fifth column, and every nurse at the Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem is a demographic threat. That hummus vendor may just be a hummus vendor, but he could be spreading poison, too; that dishwasher could come out of the kitchen with a knife. And you can’t even count on an Arab doctor, which is reason enough to ask for a Jewish one.
An Arab teenager being arrested in the north of Israel
Whether they’re an educator, insurance broker, banker or technician, every Arab citizen on the street is considered an object of suspicion. Better that they not speak their language – and anyway, the day is fast approaching when it will be made illegal to speak it in public. It unnerves the Jews and scares them. Some are even disgusted by it. And then there’s that proposed bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel, a state the Arab citizens are a lot more loyal to than it is to them. Your country is abusing members of your people. It’s fun to be an Arab in Israel, because you can’t even define your identity as you would wish. You’re an “Israeli Arab,” and there’s no argument about it. Palestinian? That’s only if you live in the occupied territories. Even if he’s your first cousin, he’s not the same.
Umm el-Fahm in the Triangle - in any peace settlement the Israelis propose to transfer this city into any proposed bantustan 
You can and must be an American Jew and work on Israel’s behalf. But you are not allowed to be an Israeli Arab and work on behalf of the Palestinians. You’re not a member of the same people. Just dare to think otherwise.

Also, you are not allowed to remember what you’re not allowed to remember: the past. Israeli Independence Day is a national holiday! Anyone who wants to observe the Nakba (or “catastrophe,” the Palestinian term for the establishment of Israel), should go to Gaza – or to jail. Anyway, if you don’t like it here, you can always move to Gaza. And just look what’s happening in Syria.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. Try flying on an Israeli airline – Arkia or El Al – and you’ll understand why. Try that encounter with the security guard who’s checking your accent at the entrance to Ben-Gurion airport. “Profiling,” as it’s called in security parlance. Try renting an apartment in Safed, or even Ramat Aviv. Try finding work. Send your résumé and wait for an answer.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. You can see other Arabs on television – after every domestic “honor killing,” but only then. No television repairman will come to your house, because “it’s dangerous.” And the television ratings bureau won’t include your viewing habits, because it focuses only on “Jewish households.”

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel and hearing about the demographic danger presented by the Arab womb. There’s a danger that the Galilee “could be lost,” and we need to “Judaize” the Negev before it’s too late. That’s totally acceptable talk in Israel. Europe has a problem with foreigners, and so do we: the Arabs are our foreigners. People from Burma who are descendants of the Tribe of Benjamin get automatic citizenship. But your brothers, natives of the country who were expelled or fled in 1948, can’t even come for a visit.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel because you’ll be able to see how your representatives in the Knesset are humiliated and excluded.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel, because no Jew could imagine what you experience on a daily basis. Masses of people for whom leaving their ghetto means constant humiliation and suspicion, moments of hostility and insults both big and small. Think about the experience of a young Arab woman leaving Jaffa with her head covered, or that young Arab man going to the movies.

With the growing incitement by the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues, every Arab is now considered a potential terrorist, arsonist, murderer or rapist – unless proven otherwise. They are also voting in their droves.

And after the current wave of fires, their situation has gotten even worse: after all, they’ve already caught one Arab with toilet paper in his pocket. Rabin assassin Yigal Amir might not represent every Yemenite Jew, but every Israeli Arab going to fight in Syria represents all Arabs. This segment of the population, which demonstrates amazing restraint and loyalty and a desire to integrate, is absorbing blow after blow. This is all going to explode some day.

On Friday in Haifa’s Romema neighborhood, where a large number of homes sustained fire damage, the predominantly Arab sanitation collectors were collecting the trash. I tried to imagine what was going through their minds.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

New Statesman Bows to Zionist Censorship as they Delete Article on Israel’s Occupation

If the New Statesman boycotts the Palestinians we should boycott the New Statesman

Salah Ajarma on conditions under occupation

Salah Ajarma on the Right of Return

Founded in 1913, the New Statesman has long been identified with the Fabian Right of the Labour Party.  In the 1930’s under the influence of the Webbs, it became an uncritical supporter of Stalinist Russia, which it saw as socialist.  Censorship and the New Statesman have long gone together.   Wikipedia describes how, in 1938 under its longest serving editor, Kingsley Martin, it refused to publish George Orwell's dispatches from Barcelona during the Spanish civil war because they criticised the communists for suppressing the anarchists and the left-wing Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM).  These later became famous in Orwell’s book Homage to Catalonia.
'It is an unfortunate fact,' Martin wrote to Orwell, 'that any hostile criticism of the present Russian regime is liable to be taken as propaganda against socialism'.  Martin also refused to allow any of the magazine's writers to review Leon Trotsky's anti-Stalinist book The Revolution Betrayed.
The view from Aida refugee camp, the Apartheid Wall separates it from Gilo settlement on the hill above

Israeli forces raid Aida refugee camp Sep. 9. (Photos: Muhammad al-Azzeh)
Despite this record the New Statesman, with the endearing modesty for which it is famous, proclaims that it is ‘celebrated for its progressive politics, scepticism, free thinking and the intelligence, range and quality of its writing.’

Unfortunately its progressive politics, free thinking and humbug have not prevented it from taking down from its web site a moving account of life in Aida refugee camp, which is just outside Bethlehem.  Aida is surrounded by Israel’s Apartheid Wall, which has resulted in the confiscation of  much of its best land.  The Wall is a hideous and ugly structure that is taller than the Berlin Wall which the New Statesman regularly assailed.

The New Statesman was the traditional voice of the ‘enlightened’ wing of British imperialism and it is no accident that Sydney Webb, one of its founders, later became Colonial Secretary as Lord Passfield in the 1929-31 Ramsey MacDonald government.  Whereas the Tories were open about the British Empire being the basis of British power in the world, Labour’s imperialists spoke the language of trusteeship, bringing civilisation to the backwards people, holding the land in trust for them.  Unlike the Labour Left, the New Statesman steered clear of any whiff of anti-colonialism.
A child is arrested and detained by Israeli occupation forces in Aida camp
It is, therefore, unsurprising that the New Statesman was for most of its history the strongest supporter of the Israeli state.  Israel could do no wrong under a succession of fiercely pro-Zionist editors.  Only in 1982 under Bruce Page and his successor, in the wake of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, did the New Statesman wake up to the existence of the Palestinians and the transformation of Israel from an oasis of socialism in the Middle East to a war-mongering and expansionist state that was the close ally of US imperialism.
The article the New Statesman editors removed was by Salah Ajarma, a well known Palestinian activist and founder of the Lajee Cultural Centre.   The article is a factual account of conditions in the refugee camp and the difficulty Palestinian youth face growing up in such an environment.  Of course it is understandable that the Zionist lobby would take exception to such an article since they deny that there is any occupation.  Although I haven’t read the Zionist objections to the article, I suspect it revolves around ‘anti-Semitism’ which these days is another name for the truth.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Lajee Center inaugurated the first ever child-friendly spaces – a football pitch and a playground – in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. Photo: UNRWA/Alaa Ghosheh
As I wrote in an earlier post, The New Statesman & the Perpetuation of the Myth of Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ Carrying on a tradition – The New Statesman, Zionism and Imperialism the New Statesman has given full support to the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign in the Labour Party.   
According to Zionist mythology, Israel is merely reclaiming the lands it lost 2,000 years ago from the indigenous population!  The Palestinians, like all native peoples, are invisible except when they engage in resistance, which the Zionists term ‘terrorism’.  The traditional Zionist attitude was summed up in the slogan ‘A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land.’
As the Palestine Solidarity Campaign statement below states, having commissioned and put Salah Ajarma’s article up on its web site, as part of a partnership agreement between the New Statesman and PSC, the NS then took the article down again after objections by two Zionist blogs.  What is particularly damning is that instead of explaining their reasons, the New Statesman has refused to even communicate with PSC or Salah.
Aida refugee camp with the Wall ahead
The behaviour of the New Statesman is not an isolated example of political cowardice and concessions to Zionist settler colonialism.  In recent years the Guardian has undergone exactly the same metamorphosis such that it has been the leading campaigner in support of the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign.  The liberal left is reverting to type as the Western ruling classes firm up their support for Israel.  The election of Donald Trump has been greeted with utter delight by Israel’s far-Right.  See for example Israeli Right hails Trump: 'The era of a Palestinian state is over' .
Our response to the New Statesman should be unequivocal.  We should support a boycott of this miserable paper that claims the affections of the Left.

Statement from Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Dear friend,

Palestinian voices are being censored and silenced. We cannot let this happen.
Earlier this month PSC commissioned an article from Salah Ajarma, the co-founder and Director of the Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee camp. The New Statesman published the piece as part of a two year partnership between the PSC and the New Statesman. Two pro-Israel blogs attacked the New Statesman for publishing the piece, shortly afterwards, the New Statesman deleted it without speaking to Salah or to PSC. They have since refused to offer any explanation or justification for the removal of the article.

This is a disgraceful attack on freedom of expression, a clear case of censorship, and a deliberate attempt to silence Palestinian voices. By doing this, the New Statesman have politically censored a human rights campaigner, who is living under very harsh conditions of military occupation in a refugee camp. We cannot stand by and let this happen. We cannot be silenced.

The red sloping roofs and lack of black water tanks identify the hilltop town as an Israeli settlement. It overlooks the Aida Refugee Camp, separated from it by the Wall.
It would appear the New Statesman have caved into political pressure to remove the article, and do not believe they owe Salah or PSC the courtesy even of a conversation: the editorial team won’t even take our phone calls. In an email to the PSC, the New Statesman stated that the article had been removed as a result of ‘reader complaints’, refusing any further elaboration and any editorial contact.

Salah's article describes the experiences of young Palestinian refugees in Aida camp and talks about how settlements impact his life and the lives of people in his community. New Statesman editors approved and published the article.

The New Statesman's actions are political censorship of a Palestinian human rights campaigner. We cannot stand by and let this happen.

This action does not align with the stated goals of the New Statesman to “hold our leaders to account and tell the stories that the world needs to hear”.
What is happening in Palestine is a story that the world needs to hear, and the account of a Palestinian should not be censored. The lack of explanation and refusal to speak to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign or Salah goes against all good journalistic standards and common courtesy
A giant key (said to be the world's largest) sits atop the entrance to the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, reminding residents to insist on their "right of return."

We did not want to make this public, we attempted to resolve the problem directly with the New Statesman, giving them the benefit of the doubt and attempting to speak to editors countless times.

However, we have now been told that the editors will not speak to us and that the decision to remove the article would not be explained or reversed.

We have a duty to stand up for justice, honesty, and integrity and so we must raise our voices about this.

Please join us to demand that the New Statesman
  • Republish the article
  • Offer an apology to Salah Ajarma for removing it without good cuase
  • Make a clear public statement as to your commitment to upholding the principle of freedom of expression
Please write to the editors of the New Statesman now – and show them that we will not be silenced and will not allow Palestinians to be censored.

In solidarity,
The team at PSC
Below is the article that the New Statesman has censored
The Frontline of Israel’s Settlement Regime by Salah Ajarma
Posted on November 18, 2016
Lajee Cultural Centre
By Salah Ajarma, the cofounder and director of Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee camp.

Aida refugee camp, in which I live and work, is on the edge of the famous town of Bethlehem. Our families established the camp in 1950 after being forcibly expelled from their homes by Zionist militias in 1948. Palestinians from our camp originate from villages in the Jerusalem and Hebron districts, just a few miles down the road. Those born since, still live in the refugee camp, and continue to struggle for the right to return to our homes.
In April 2000, me and a number of friends established the Lajee Centre, a community-based cultural centre for young refugees living in the camp. Through it we have sought to provide opportunities for the cultural, educational and social development of our young people, despite the violent military occupation under which we live. As an occupied refugee people, we are aware of the duty to educate our youth about their history and their rights. Only in this way will our struggle for freedom be carried to the next generation.

In 2002, Israel’s government began the construction of its illegal wall.[1] Its consequences are now perhaps well known – land confiscation, ghettoization, and an accelerated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. In Aida the wall has been particularly obtrusive with its towering concrete blocks built directly opposite the Centre. The young people I work with have only ever known a life surrounded by this wall and under the constant surveillance of its ominous watchtowers. Before its construction, families and children would spend time in nature, in the olive groves that neighboured the camp. As one of the few green spaces available to us, I would often go there for picnics with my family when the weather was warm. This has now been shut off from us, creating a menacing, stifling atmosphere that we cannot escape. On the hill opposite, Israel’s illegal settlement of Gilo continues expanding onto land confiscated by the wall.

In October 2015, Aida Camp buried one of its sons, Abd al-Rahman Ubeidallah, who was shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper. He was 13 years old and killed on his way home from school. His peers, almost without exception, have all been arrested, beaten or fired upon. The head of Lajee’s film unit, Mohammad, was shot in the eye with a rubber-coated steel bullet whilst filming Israeli violations in the camp in 2013. We are routinely broken into by Israeli soldiers and border police who invade the camp, firing teargas indiscriminately and threatening our families over loudspeakers.
Mural in Aida depicting the Palestinian villages and towns from which the camp's residents were forcibly displaced after the Nakba in 1948
These intolerable conditions are particularly difficult for our young people who, in the midst of such cruelty, maintain an extraordinary optimism. It is difficult to understand how children raised in such an awful situation can remain so full of gentleness and hope. Lajee is always alive with laughter, dancing and singing and our youth have transformed this dreadful situation into a boundless love for our people and an insistent demand for freedom. Their resilience never ceases to inspire me, and it is for their future, and the future of my two young daughters, that I continue my work. These young people deserve to live with dignity and peace.

Our work in Lajee has found support from around the world. From the UK there has been a steady stream of delegations – teachers, trade unionists, students, doctors, politicians and academics – who have visited our Centre. Early this year I came to the UK with our dabke troupe, performing traditional Palestinian dance to packed out venues up and down the country. When Celtic supporters raised funds for Palestine in anticipation of a UEFA fine, it was to our football club that they donated over £79,000. Our experience of the generosity of the British people has left us in little doubt as to their values and their willingness to stand in solidarity with our just case.

The same cannot be said of the UK Government. As Palestinians, we know all too well the dishonourable history of Britain in our region, a legacy that has yet to be resolved. The UK Government, like many others, continues to support the discredited ‘peace process’ whilst taking very little meaningful action. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of Israel’s continued construction of colonial settlements. The UK regards settlements as illegal and a barrier to peace, whilst nevertheless continuing to trade with them.[2] The contradiction between their stated aims, on the one hand, and the on-going financial relationship between UK-based companies and charities, on the other, has led to the longstanding perception amongst Palestinians that the UK Government is not serious about its desire for peace. What other explanation could there be for this inconsistency?
For us, talk of peace is contradicted by our daily experience of an oppression that receives significant material and financial support from the ‘international community’. That the collective efforts of the EU, the US and the UN have failed to even freeze the construction of settlements, never mind begin to dismantle them, feels indicative to Palestinians of the regard with which our rights are held. Settlement construction has become a touchstone issue because it reflects the reluctance of the international community to take even the most minimal action to check the relentless march of Israeli colonisation.

We need a different strategy, one in which the international community takes measures to pressure Israel into meeting its obligations under international law. Ending settlement trade is the place to start as there is already broad international agreement on their illegality. This international consensus needs to be actualised by halting the building of settlements and dismantling those already constructed. This would lay the foundation for a just peace in which the rights of the Palestinian people to national self-determination and to return to their homes can be realised.

For us in Aida, on the frontline of Israel’s settlement regime, the situation is urgent. Ending trade with settlements would deny Israel the means of maintaining their occupation and give us some relief from its immediate, choking effects. This would provide our children and us with the first glimmer of hope for a future of justice, dignity and peace.