25 March 2012

Hanaa Shalabi 34 Days on Hunger Strike - Stop Israel Murdering Her

Video: Hanaa Shalabi, a Palestinian woman on Hunger Strike "in Mortal Danger"

Release Hanaa Shalabi
Hanaa Shalabi was released in the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit. Israel now seeks to retrospectively break the agreement, just as it breaks all agreements it reaches, and has detained her again. Under Administrative Detention, i.e. imprisonment without trial. She can be held indefinitely.

Previously she was held for two years without charge. That is the measure of the police state for Palestinians under occupation that Israel represents.

Hana Shalabi on Her 34th Day of Hunger Strike: Israeli Prison Service Refusing to Transfer Her to Hospital Despite Immediate Risk of Death
Joint Statement, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Al-Haq

“To all the free and loyal Palestinian people, I direct my words to you—while I and all my brothers and sisters in the occupier’s prisons are on hunger strike, we call on you to continue your solidarity and for the issue of prisoners to be on the highest priority list […] I call on foreign states to continue action in applying pressure [on Israel] towards the release of all our courageous prisoners.” -Hana Shalabi, 16 March 2012 Ramallah-Jaffa, 20 March 2012

Addameer, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) and Al-Haq express their grave concern for the health of Hana Shalabi, who is at immediate risk of death on her 34th day of hunger strike.
As of today, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) is refusing to transfer Ms. Shalabi to the hospital, despite yesterday’s urgent reports by her doctor that she should be transferred immediately. Addameer, PHR-Israel and Al-Haq are certain that the quality and facilitation of medical care administered by the IPS is not adequate to attend to her current condition.

Meanwhile, today, the Israeli military judge of the Court of Appeals postponed yet again making a decision regarding Ms. Hana Shalabi’s four-month administrative detention order following a meeting with her lawyers and the military prosecution.

Following an urgent report issued by the PHR-Israel doctor who examined Ms. Shalabi yesterday, 19 March, which concluded that Ms. Shalabi is in immediate mortal danger and should be immediately transferred to a hospital for close observation, Ms. Shalabi was transferred to the civilian Meir Hospital last night. However, for unknown reasons, she was not admitted to the hospital and the IPS transferred Ms. Shalabi back to the IPS medical center in Ramleh Prison Hospital later on the same night. Ms. Shalabi’s doctor was not informed of this transfer until today.

Addameer, PHR-Israel and Al-Haq share fears regarding the adequacy and timeliness of the medical care available in Ramleh, especially given the growing concern about her rapidly deteriorating condition. Today, the chairman of PHR-Israel has been pushing on all possible fronts for her immediate transfer to a hospital. When he asked the IPS why they are refusing to transfer her, IPS Chief Medical Officer Dini Orkin informed him that the commissioner of the IPS—who is not a medical official—said that Ms. Shalabi’s doctor would have to return to Ramleh and provide another medical opinion before they would even consider her transfer, despite her urgent report from yesterday.

Furthermore, and even more troubling, Ms. Shalabi reported to the PHR-Israel doctor that during her various transfers yesterday, she was handled violently, including being “dragged across the floor”. Her PHR-Israel doctor is particularly worried about Ms. Shalabi in light of this mistreatment, which undoubtedly is having an effect on her already-fragile state. Any further deterioration or aggravation of her condition, including emotionally, could cause a heart attack. Addameer, PHR-Israel and Al-Haq also condemn the IPS’ latest actions regarding its role in pressuring Ms. Shalabi to end her hunger strike.

During a visit by Addameer lawyer Muna Neddaf on 16 March, Ms. Shalabi stated that the IPS’ attempts to get her to end her hunger strike have included continuing to deny her family visits for the next month from 13 March; pressure from a Muslim cleric who is a member of the IPS “Ethics Committee”; and attempts to undermine her confidence and trust in her PHR-Israel doctor, including providing her with misinformation and telling her the doctor does not care about her. The IPS continues to consider force-feeding in disregard to the principles of medical ethics and the guidelines of the World Medical Association and the Israeli Medical Association.

In legal proceedings, today’s meeting followed her original appeal hearing on 7 March, during which the military judge stated that he would make his decision on 11 or 12 March in order to give the military prosecution ample time to “revise its position” and to allow for any negotiations on a “deal” between the military prosecution and the committee of lawyers representing Ms. Shalabi. He noted that his intention was for any such “deal” to occur at the Appeals Court level and not after, as in the case of Khader Adnan.

No decision was made on 11 or 12 March in this regard. Today’s meeting with the Israeli prosecutor and Ms. Shalabi’s lawyers was called for by the military judge to discuss developments on the matter. However, the negotiations have not resulted in any agreement as of today. As a result, the judge stated that he will be announcing his decision soon, but did not specify when. The judge requested a detailed medical report on Ms. Shalabi’s health condition, which has been prepared by the PHR-Israel doctor and submitted to the court.

Commenting on the discussions, Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan stated that “the Israeli military prosecution’s concern is to get Hana to end her hunger strike as opposed to seriously considering the reasons underlying Hana’s protest, including the infringement on her right to fair trial and right to an effective defense.” At least 23 other Palestinian political prisoners are currently on hunger strike to protest the use of administrative detention as an indefinite form of detention without charge or trial, including 72-year-old Palestinian Legislative Council member Ahmad Al-Hajj Ali.

Since the beginning of March, a number of administrative detainees have refused to acknowledge the military court and refused to participate in legal discussions of their cases. Due to Israel’s use of administrative detention, and the lack of due process afforded to Palestinians in the military court system, a hunger strike serves as a non-violent and sole tool available to administrative detainees and other political prisoners to fight for their basic human rights. Addameer, PHR-Israel and Al-Haq are gravely concerned for the life of Hana Shalabi and call for her immediate transfer to a hospital, with adequate care that is uninterrupted by frequent and unnecessary transfers.

Addameer, PHR-Israel and Al-Haq also appeal to the local and international communities to take every action in applying pressure on Israel to seriously address the underlying reasons behind the growing protests of Palestinian political prisoners and to end the large scale practice of internment without charge or trial. This practice is indicative of willful deprivation of the right to fair trial afforded to protected persons, in addition to the well-documented systematic policy of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment as methods of intimidation and coercion that Israel employs.

Legal information:
  • Ms. Hana Shalabi, 30 years old and resident of Burqin village near Jenin, was re-arrested on 16 February 2012 and is being held in Hasharon Prison. She has been on hunger strike since 16 February in protest of her violent arrest, the harmful and degrading ill-treatment she suffered following her arrest and of her administrative detention. She was previously held for over two years in administrative detention and released in the exchange deal on 18 October 2011.
  • On 23 February, the Israeli Military Commander issued a six month detention order for Ms. Shalabi.
  • On 29 February, the Judge convened a meeting at the Ofer military court to discuss her detention. Neither Ms. Shalabi nor her lawyers were present.
  • On 4 March the military court declared that Ms. Shalabi’s administrative detention order would be reduced from six to four months.
  • On 7 March, an appeal hearing was held. The military judge stated that a decision would be expected around 11 March. During this time the judge urged that any agreement between the prosecution and defense should be reached at this level. No agreement was reached and no decision was announced on that date.
  • On 20 March, the judge of the Court of Appeals summoned the Israeli military prosecution and the lawyers’ committee representing Ms. Shalabi in a meeting to review the developments towards an agreement. No agreement was reached, therefore the judge is expected to announce his decision, yet no specific time was given.
Medical attention:
  • On 27 February Ms. Shalabi stated that she would not accept medical attention from the IPS, and that she would only accept to be examined by an independent doctor from PHR-Israel. IPS denied PHR-Israel doctors permission to visit Ms. Shalabi.
  • On 4 March, PHR-Israel filed a petition to the District Court in Petach Tikva demanding that the IPS approve without delay a visit by PHR-Israel doctors to Hana.
  • On 7 March the Israeli District Court ruled on the case brought by PHR-Israel that the IPS should allow a PHR-Israel doctor permission to visit and examine Hana Shalabi.
  • On 8, 12, 19 March a PHR-Israel volunteer doctor has been able to examine Hana Shalabi.
  • On 13 March the IPS Ethics Committee held a meeting to discuss the possibility of force-feeding a detainee on hunger strike.
  • On 19 March, she was transferred to a hospital and then transferred back to the prison hospital. Her doctor is very worried about her as a result of the mistreatment.

24 March 2012

Beitar football fans stage a pogrom against Arab workers – Police make no arrests

Beitar fans in Jerusalem, notorious for their anti-Arab racism, beat up Arab cleaners in a shopping mall to ‘celebrate’ their home side’s victory. What is though unbelievable, and is in itself a testimony to the deep racism within all sectors of Israeli society, especially the state, no one was arrested.

The Police excuse was that no complaints had been filed! Is it any wonder? Imagine that hundreds of Arabs had beat up Jewish workers. Would the Police have waited for a complaint to arrest people? Everyday Palestinians are arrested for peacefully demonstrating by the Army or Police. They don’t get any complaints but pro-actively go out to make the arrests and of course do much worse.

Imagine that before Police could intervene in last summer’s riots, they had to get a complaint from the shop owner!

But the roots of the fans’ racist behaviour are endemic to both Israeli society and Zionism, after all Israel is a ‘Jewish’ state and in Beitar’s case, the fact that the club management operates policy of not having Arab players. When Beitar captain Aviram Baruchyan announced in 2009 that he would like to see Arabs on the team, fans bombarded him with criticism, prompting him to recant. “The most painful thing is that I unfortunately hurt Beitar’s fans, and I understood that I hurt them very much,” he said after a reconciliation meeting with members of La Familia, a Beitar fan club. “I don’t care what other people think or write.” See No Arabs Allowed

Feb 20, 2012 12:00 AM EST

Jerusalem’s favorite football team has hiring policies reminiscent of Apartheid and Jim Crow.

Tony Greenstein

Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem fans beat up Arab workers in mall; no arrests

LinkDespite CCTV footage, no one arrested after the incident at Malha shopping center on Monday; Jerusalem police say arrests not made because no complaints filed.

By Oz Rosenberg

Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem supporters assaulted Arab cleaning personnel at the capital's Malha shopping center on Monday, in what was said to be one of Jerusalem's biggest-ever ethnic clashes. "It was a mass lynching attempt," said Mohammed Yusuf, a team leader for Or-Orly cleaning services.

Despite CCTV footage of the events, no one was arrested. Jerusalem police said that is because no complaint was filed. Witnesses said that after a soccer game in the nearby Teddy Stadium, hundreds of mostly teenage supporters flooded into the shopping center, hurling racial abuse at Arab workers and customers and chanting anti-Arab slogans, and filled the food hall on the second floor.

"I've never seen so many people," said A, a shopkeeper. "They stood on chairs and tables and what have you. They made a terrible noise, screamed 'death to the Arabs,' waved their scarves and sang songs at the top of their voices."

Shortly afterward, several supporters started harassing three Arab women, who sat in the food hall with their children. They verbally abused and spat on them.

Some Arab men, who work as cleaners at the shopping center and observed the brawl, came to their rescue. "How can you stand aside and do nothing?" said Akram, a resident of the Old City's Muslim Quarter who was one of the cleaners who got involved. CCTV footage shows that they started chasing the rioting youths, wielding broomsticks.

It seemed the workers managed to chase the abusers away, but a few minutes later supporters returned and assaulted them. "They caught some of them and beat the hell out of them," said Yair, owner of a bakery located in the food hall. "They hurled people into shops, and smashed them against shop windows. I don't understand how none shattered into pieces. One cleaner was attacked by some 20 people, poor guy, and then they had a go at his brother who works in a nearby pizza shop and came to his rescue."

The attackers also asked Jewish shop owners for knives and sticks to serve as weapons but none consented, witnesses said. Avi Biton, Malha's security director, sent a force of security guards in an attempt to restore order, but they were outnumbered. He called the police who arrived in large numbers about 40 minutes after the brawl started. At about 10.30 P.M., they evacuated the mall and the management shut its doors.

"I've been here for many years and I've never seen such a thing," said Gideon Avrahami, Malha's executive director. "It was a disgraceful, shocking, racist incident; simply terrible."

Biton said that his department would step up security measures when Beitar matches take place. "This event was unusual for Beitar fans," he said. "We've learned our lesson and from now on we'll make more serious preparations ahead of Beitar games."

Beitar fans are known for their staunchly anti-Arab positions and have been previously involved in attacks on Arabs.

On Tuesday, a day after the incident, Avrahami gathered the mall workers and apologized to them. "He promised it would never happen again," said Akram.

Beitar Jerusalem's management said in a statement that the club "firmly condemns violence and leaves it to the treatment of the authorities."

Anti-Arab soccer fans rampage in shopping centre – but no arrests

Buoyed by a home win, Jewish fans of football club Beitar Jerusalem this week rampaged through a nearby shopping centre following an evening match, attacking Arab workers and shoppers in one of the worst racial brawls seen in the city in recent years.

The entire episode, which occurred at Jerusalem's Malha Mall on Monday night, was captured on closed-circuit television, but Israeli police made no arrests, and the incident received no media attention until yesterday, prompting fury in Israel's blogosphere.

The attacks are the culmination of a long record of violent and anti-Arab behaviour by ultranationalist fans at Beitar, a club identified with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party. The Israeli Football Association's efforts to rein in the club's unruly fans have so far met with limited success.

The incident started after a game at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, where Beitar beat Tel Aviv's Bnei Yehuda, saving the once successful team from imminent relegation. Hundreds of fans, mostly teenagers, descended on busy Malha Mall, jumping on tables, waving scarves, and chanting "Death to Arabs".

When a group of fans started to heckle and spit on Palestinian women dining with their children in the food hall, the centre's Arab cleaning staff rushed to their defence and chased the fans off. But moments later, the fans returned, and started to attack the Arab staff.

"They [the fans] caught some of them and beat the hell out of them," Yair, the Jewish owner of a bakery in the shopping centre, told Israel's Haaretz newspaper. "They hurled people into shops, and smashed them against shop windows. ... One cleaner was attacked by some 20 people, poor guy." The brawl might have turned deadly, but food hall staff refused to respond to fans' demands for knives and sticks. It was only when police arrived 40 minutes later the situation was brought under control.

"I've been here many years and I've never seen such a thing," Haaretz quoted Gideon Avrahami, Malha's director, as saying. "It was a disgraceful, shocking, racist incident; simply terrible."

The police defended its failure to make any arrests, saying it had received no complaints from any of the public, a response that drew immediate derision. "No complaints and no arrests. Does this mean riots against Arabs in malls is acceptable behaviour in Israel?" tweeted Joseph Dana, an Israeli blogger.

Shmulik Ben Rubi, a Jerusalem police spokesman, later told The Independent the police would investigate the incident, which might lead to arrests.

But many believe the shopping mall riot is part of a wider malaise in Israeli society, where the country's Arab minority, 20 per cent of all Israelis, is discriminated against, often with impunity. Beitar, the most overtly racist club in the country, has an unspoken policy it does not hire Israeli Arab players, in part because of the backlash management would face from its die-hard fans.

Bad behaviour is endemic in the stands, where fans heckle Arab and black players from opposing teams. Israel's FA tried to penalise the team for the fans' behaviour by docking Beitar points and making the team play in an empty stadium, moves criticised as failing to hold individual perpetrators to account.

See also

Israeli football fans in racist attack against shoppers in Jerusalem - Police criticised over failure to arrest any Beitar Jerusalem fans after racist mob storms mall

23 March 2012

"Brand Israel" dance company’s US tour dogged by protests

In yet another sign that attitudes to Israel have now changed forever in the USA, the article below shows that Israel’s premier cultural ambassadors, the Batsheva Dance Company has been dogged by protests, as this article from Electronic Intifada shows.

Tony Greenstein

(Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights)
Maureen Clare Murphy on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 23:24

Batsheva Dance Company, identified by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture,” has faced protests throughout its ongoing US tour.

Twenty solidarity groups around the country issued an open letter to the dance troupe, urging them to cut themselves off from the Israeli foreign ministry, which finances its tours, and take a stand against the Israeli government’s violation of Palestinian rights.

In New York, the troupe was greeted by Adalah-NY, the Palestinian Dabke Brigades and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, which protested outside Batsheva’s performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Adalah-NY reported that eighty activists and cultural workers took part in the protest.

Adalah-NY stated in a 7 March release:

Attendees were handed mock programs, whose cover identifies Batsheva as a “cultural ambassador for Israel.” Inside, the program explains why the group is being boycotted, and celebrates artists who have respected the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) call, including Gil Scott Heron, Roger Waters, and Cassandra Wilson. Upon reading the program, one attendee remarked, “If I had known, I wouldn’t have bought my ticket.” Dozens of others stopped to watch from the steps of BAM. At 7:35 p.m., five minutes after the performance was scheduled to begin, BAM staff informed protesters that the music and chanting had delayed the start of the show.

Batsheva was met with a similar protest in San Francisco on February 24, where activists explained Batsheva’s role in the Brand Israel campaign, launched by the Israeli government as a way to “show Israel’s prettier face” and divert the international community’s attention from Israel’s egregious violations of Palestinian human rights. Two previous Batsheva tours were met with similar protests and boycott actions in 2010 and 2009, and other protests are expected to take place during their current tour.

Last month, Adalah-NY exchanged letters with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, asking BAM to cancel the performance. BAM asserted that Batsheva is not performing to “further a political agenda,” and Adalah-NY responded that Batsheva was identified as “the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture” by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from which it receives funding. Adalah-NY further noted Batsheva’s total silence in the face of the egregious actions being carried out by the Israeli government.

Dozens protested Batsheva’s performance in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area Palestine Solidarity Network reported:

For two of Batsheva’s three nights in San Francisco, members of Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), Mondoweiss, Code Pink, Global Exchange and the Palestine Solidarity Network were on hand to greet dance-goers with information, banners and guitar music. When theater managers complained that the singing was too loud and threatened to call the cops, a protester responded, “The traffic on Howard Street is much louder than us, so why don’t you call the police on the cars?”

One affinity group performed a clever guerrilla theater, presenting Batsheva attendees with a brochure apparently from the State of Israel, proclaiming, “WELCOME To Our “Brand Israel” Event!” The flier went on to inform audience members that “By attending this event, you show your support of the Israeli government and its policies.” The well-dressed women greeted people with “Thanks for supporting the State of Israel,” and “Here’s a program insert from the Israeli government.” Some of those receiving the brochure were confused, others enthusiastic, and a few gave the flier back saying, “I don’t support your government.”

“Don’t pay any attention to those people and those human rights issues they are always going on about,” an Israeli “actor” told a guest who seemed about to take a flier from a QUIT! activist. The other protesters played along, arguing that their flier told the “real story.” The QUIT! flier asked those attending the show, “Which Tutu Is for You?”, counterposing Bishop Desmond Tutu’s stance opposing Israeli apartheid with the silence of the Israel Ballet Company and Bathseva in the face of international calls for solidarity with Palestinian liberation.

Batsheva was also protested in Chicago this past Saturday. The performance was significantly delayed because of the demonstration.

The Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago reported today:

Chicago Palestine solidarity activists made their voices heard on Saturday, March 17, during a protest of the opening night of Batsheva Dance Company’s two-night performance at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theater.

Chants included “All your dancing can’t erase! Apartheid’s ugly face!” and in a tribute to St. Patrick’s Day, “Occupation is a crime! From Ireland to Palestine!

Protesters carried picket signs reading “No art for apartheid’s sake” and “Don’t buy brand I$rael.”

The action was part of a national campaign to boycott Batsheva, which is sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an effort to use cultural production to whitewash Israeli war crimes, occupation and apartheid. Batsheva has been protested throughout its North American tour.

Inspired by activists in the Bay Area, protesters distributed a mock program to concert attendees, highlighting the Brand Israel campaign and Israel’s apartheid policies.

Protesters also distributed a comic flyer about the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The majority of those taking flyers understood and supported the comparison between the BDS movement against apartheid South Africa and the current academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Reinforced by our “program” describing Batsheva’s funding by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, event goers were very surprised that the troupe was funded as a “Brand Israel” campaign by the Israeli government.

Because of the protest, the performance started much later than scheduled, as security thoroughly went through attendees’ possessions, apparently fearing that the event would be disrupted.

Clever pamphlets that look like they're from the Israeli govt, on Flickr

Mock “Brand Israel” programs were passed out to Batsheva audiences in multiple US cities.
(Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights)

More performances scheduled in US, the Netherlands, Canada and Japan

Batsheva is scheduled to perform at the University of Texas at Austin tomorrow, and in Arizona on Thursday at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The international schedule on Batsheva Dance Company’s website also lists performances in Utrecht on 21-22 April and in Toronto on 13-15 June and in Saitama, Japan on 23-25 November.

18 March 2012

Successful Anti-Fascist Book Despite EDL Threats and Quaker Cowardice

EDL Cowers Behind Police Lines
as Saturday Crowd Turns on Them

Using the threats of the English Defence League, the ‘Quakers’ quaked and cancelled the room we had hired at the Friends Meeting Centre to launch my book on Fighting Fascism in Brighton and on the South Coast. Fortunately Labour History Workshop hired the Brighthelm Church & Community Centre elsewhere in Brighton and the launch of the book went ahead to a packed audience. Ironically the Police and the EDL had built the meeting! People were determined not to be intimidated from reading about the struggle of people in Brighton in past years to prevent the fascist threat.

The cowardice of the Friends Meeting House is something we will deal with earlier. As the Argus article makes clear, they did so on the basis of an EDL attack on a UAF meeting at the FMH last year. Quite disgracefully they talked of ‘anti-fascist aggression’ (see below) whereas it was, as usual, the racist EDL who were the aggressors. They talked of pacifism. Presumably they believe that the targets of fascism should simply allow themselves to be walked all over. In particular the behaviour of the Police, in contacting the owners of halls to try and get them to cancel meetings because of such threats is an attack on freedom of speech. If the Police believe there is a threat their duty is to deal with those who cause the threat. I hope they adopt the same attitude to the March for England on April 22nd.

The Police once again showed that they are not upholding the law but actively intervening to warn the owners of halls that the left hire that there may be trouble. In other words they are consciously using the threats from fascist groups to attack free speech for the Left and thus effectively doing the work of the fascists for them. Of course, if official propaganda is to be believed, the purpose of the Police is to ensure that such threats are faced down and dealt with. But not when it comes to fascist threats.

As it is the Police made clear their annoyance by virtually putting a picket on the hall and arrested one activist on the spurious grounds that they were ‘forestalling a ‘breach of the peace’. He was later released and it is to be hoped that he sues the police for false imprisonment.

The EDL – all 7 of them – later went off to Churchill Square where they began to intimidate and threaten members of Palestine Solidarity Campaign who were commemorating the latest victims of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. But to their surprise, shoppers, teens and hundreds of ordinary people turned on them. Two EDL members were arrested during the events. The ‘threat’ that the Police used as a convenient excuse amounted to 7, mainly juvenile supporters of the EDL. Hundreds of people let them know what they thought of them and the EDL retreated behind police lines shouting and swearing obscenities. This was an extremely important example of how people are not prepared to submit to the bullies and racists of the EDL and we hope that in future the Friends Meeting House take note.

It is also of concern that there were so many Police at an anti-fascist book launch – around 50. It was unwarranted and made people going to the meeting feel they had to pass a police picket as they were blocking the entrances. A complaint will be made in due course to Sussex Police. And of course to the Friends Meeting House itself (admin@brightonquakers.net.).

And to cap a fantastic day, we held an excellent demonstration outside Hove Town Hall in protest at the attempts to privatise the NHS and marched to the offices of Mike Weatherley nearby. Needless to say, despite being forewarned, the cowardly Weatherley and his side kick, Simon Kirby MP for Kemptown, were absent. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion however spoke at the demonstration.

Letter from Friends Meeting House Cancelling Anti-Fascist Meeting

Dear Terry,

We are writing to inform you that we are cancelling your booking at the Friends Meeting House on Saturday the 17th March. Under our Conditions of Hire we have the right to cancel a booking (Clause 6).

We have come to this decision following concerns raised by the police about possible violent confrontation at the meeting house on Saturday from members of right wing groups opposed to your event. The Quaker Meeting has a duty of care to all users of the building and we have a number of other groups here that day we are particularly concerned for and do not want caught up in any way with confrontation. We have our own experience of anti-fascist aggression - there was a fight between an anti-fascist group and the 'English Defence League' in our front garden less than a year ago. We do not want a repeat of that situation and cannot risk the possibility of that happening again.

We regret that this is short notice but we feel that we have not been fully informed of the nature of your event and possible controversy surrounding the book launch. We have also been made aware of the cancellation of your venue booking in Worthing.

This decision has been made by the Finance & Property Committee and Trustees of Brighton Quaker Meeting.

Whilst we support stands against fascism we as Quakers are committed to non-violence. We will be happy to arrange a meeting with you if you want to hire the rooms here on another occasion. Thank you.

Kind Regards,

Terry Byrne, Jim Wallace -Wardens.

Terry McCarthy www.labourhistory.co.uk

14 March 2012

Palestinian writers, activists disavow racism, anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon

Over a decade ago, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish issued a statement ‘Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir’ concerning the virulent anti-semitism of Shamir. Like Atzmon, Shamir too traded on his Israeli connections, yet his language about Jews as ‘a virus form of a human being’ set alarms bells ringing. His cause was not support of the Palestinians and anti-Zionism but anti-Semitism and holocaust denial. Yet in an e-mail to me (12th June 2005) Atzmon described Shamir as a ‘unique and advanced thinker’.

Atzmon has gone out of his way to support and associated with those who declare themselves ‘proud’ to deny the holocaust. People like Paul Eisen, whose purpose is to ‘contextualize and re-humanize the person of Adolf Hitler, the National Socialist regime, and, indeed, the German people….’

It is therefore extremely welcome that some of the principal writers, academics and activists in the Palestinian community – people like Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, Omar Barghouti of the Boycott National Council, Professor Joseph Massad of Columbia University and Haidar Eid of Gaza, have put their names to this succinct and devastating statement. It makes clear, above all, that the liberation of Palestine, the Right of Return of the Refugees and the end to Zionism and Apartheid in Israel have nothing whatsoever to do with support for anti-Semitism.

This comes on top of the critique 'Not Quite "Ordinary Human Beings"—Anti-imperialism and the anti-humanist rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon.' headed byAs'ad Abu Khalil of The Angry Arab News Service.

Atzmon rejects the idea that Israel is a settler-colonial state. This merely lets Jews off the hook. In The Atzmon Defamation League, he writes that: As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time .... Israel is a Jewish nationalist settlement project and its Jewishness is inherent to its racist, tribal, exceptionalist nature.’

The logic is impeccable. If Israel is the Jewish state, then it isn’t solidarity with Palestinians that is required but a war against the Jews. BDS hasn’t worked because Israel is not an apartheid settler-colonial state - ‘its power and ties with the West are maintained by the strongest lobbies around the world.’ thus reversing the actual relationship. If the Left wants to stop Israel for real, then it must openly question the notion of Jewish Power and its role within Western politics and media.’

Anti-Semitism is no longer a danger to Jews. It is dangerous for Palestinians. Not only does it threaten to misdirect the movement onto false targets, but it plays into the Zionists’ hands by racialising the struggle. Zionists constantly attack anti-Zionists as ‘anti-Semitic’ when they are no such thing. There is nothing more that the Zionist leadership desires than an upsurge in traditional anti-Semitism. Without anti-Semitism there are no Jewish immigrants to Israel and without immigration there can be no Zionism. It is the lack of such immigrants today, more Jews leave than go to live in Israel, which is, in part, responsible for the political crisis of Zionism.

Those who believe in a latter-day exoneration of Hitler should ponder awhile. Zionist leaders, even during the holocaust, planned for the time when they would be able to reap the political advantage it would give. In the middle of the holocaust their minds were on the Biltmore Conference of May 1942 where the call for a Jewish State was made explicitly for the first time. Ben Gurion’s biographer described how ‘In spite of the certainty that genocide was being carried out, the Jewish Agency Executive did not deviate appreciably from its routine…’ (Teveth, The Burning Ground, 1987 844) Teveth concludes that ‘If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one.’ [851] Tom Segev likewise quotes Ben Gurion: ‘Although I was then chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, the enlistment of the Jewish people in the demand for a Jewish state was at the center of my activity.... the disaster facing European Jewry is not directly my business.’ [The Seventh Million, 98] Throughout 1939 and 1940, Hitler’s war against Europe’s Jews was not discussed once by the Central Committee of Mapai, Israel’s Labour Party and the ruling party of the Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine). [Ann Porter, Kasztner’s Train, p.66]. Ben-Gurion admitted that ‘In these terrible days … I am still more worried about the elections of the (Mapai) branch in Tel Aviv’ (Segev 1994: 105). For Ben Gurion, ‘The harsher the affliction, the greater the strength of Zionism’ (Teveth 1987: 850).

The holocaust, which Atzmon and his friends question or deny, inevitably and predictably gave a massive boost to Zionism, which before World War 2 was a minority movement among world Jewry. As Theodore Herzl wrote in his Diaries: ‘Anti-Semitism has grown, and continues to grow and so do I.’ [7] It takes a certain sort of genius to want to strengthen the very forces that gave Zionism its critical mass.

The other facet of the struggle today is the growing number of mainly young Jews who are ‘coming out’ against Zionism and Israel. This is something of great concern to the Zionist leaders. As Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods stated when it was founded, we are there to make the Boycott Kosher! To say that boycotting Israel is a perfectly normal thing to do to an Apartheid State and has no more to do with anti-Semitism than boycotting South Africa or Nazi Germany had to do with racism. Jewish activists have been in the forefront of the academic and cultural boycott. Anti-semitism can only reinforce the hold of Zionism.

Tonight none will be more disappointed than Alan Dershowitz, the ADL, Jon Benjamin, Harry’s Place and all the other Zionist echo chambers and court historians for the Apartheid State of Israel. This is not the message that they want people to hear. Atzmon’s utterances are music to their ears and it is for this reason that this statement is all the more welcome. It is a statement that should be widely used against Zionists who seek to exploit the anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon.

Tony Greenstein

Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

Note: This statement was first published by the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and is authored by all of the undersigned.

March 13, 2012

For many years now, Gilad Atzmon, a musician born in Israel and currently living in the United Kingdom, has taken on the self-appointed task of defining for the Palestinian movement the nature of our struggle, and the philosophy underpinning it. He has done so through his various blogs and Internet outlets, in speeches, and in articles. He is currently on tour in the United States promoting his most recent book, entitled, ‘The Wandering Who.’

With this letter, we call for the disavowal of Atzmon by fellow Palestinian organizers, as well as Palestine solidarity activists, and allies of the Palestinian people, and note the dangers of supporting Atzmon’s political work and writings and providing any platforms for their dissemination. We do so as Palestinian organizers and activists, working across continents, campaigns, and ideological positions.

Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.

Palestinians have faced two centuries of orientalist, colonialist and imperialist domination of our native lands. And so as Palestinians, we see such language as immoral and completely outside the core foundations of humanism, equality and justice, on which the struggle for Palestine and its national movement rests. As countless Palestinian activists and organizers, their parties, associations and campaigns, have attested throughout the last century, our struggle was never, and will never be, with Jews, or Judaism, no matter how much Zionism insists that our enemies are the Jews. Rather, our struggle is with Zionism, a modern European settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new European societies on their lands.

We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of Jewish identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity.

Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.

The goal of the Palestinian people has always been clear: self determination. And we can only exercise that inalienable right through liberation, the return of our refugees (the absolute majority of our people) and achieving equal rights to all through decolonization. As such, we stand with all and any movements that call for justice, human dignity, equality, and social, economic, cultural and political rights. We will never compromise the principles and spirit of our liberation struggle. We will not allow a false sense of expediency to drive us into alliance with those who attack, malign, or otherwise attempt to target our political fraternity with all liberation struggles and movements for justice.

As Palestinians, it is our collective responsibility, whether we are in Palestine or in exile, to assert our guidance of our grassroots liberation struggle. We must protect the integrity of our movement, and to do so we must continue to remain vigilant that those for whom we provide platforms actually speak to its principles.

When the Palestinian people call for self-determination and decolonization of our homeland, we do so in the promise and hope of a community founded on justice, where all are free, all are equal and all are welcome.

Until liberation and return.


Ali Abunimah

Naseer Aruri, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Omar Barghouti, human rights activist

Hatem Bazian, Chair, American Muslims for Palestine

Andrew Dalack, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Haidar Eid, Gaza

Nada Elia, US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Toufic Haddad

Kathryn Hamoudah

Adam Hanieh, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon! Canada

Monadel Herzallah, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Nadia Hijab, author and human rights advocate

Andrew Kadi

Abir Kobty, Palestinian blogger and activist

Joseph Massad, Professor, Columbia University, NY

Danya Mustafa, Israeli Apartheid Week US National Co-Coordinator & Students for Justice in Palestine- University of New Mexico

Dina Omar, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine

Haitham Salawdeh, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Sobhi Samour, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

Khaled Ziada, SOAS Palestine Society, London

Rafeef Ziadah, poet and human rights advocate