SPSC Edinburgh 13th June 2016
West Bank - Eye Witness Report
Monday 13the June 7pm
SPSC Edinburgh Office
Presented by Gerry Coutts
In April of this year Gerry and Basia Gordon visited a village called Jayyous, Palestine in the West Bank. They were hosted by the famiy of Abdel-Latif.
Gerry and Basia travelled from Glasgow to Edinburgh to present a summary of their trip to the Edinburgh branch of the SPSC.
Accompanied by slides Gerry told us about the day to day life of the Jayyous villagers with regards to the children's schooling, their family life and their endeavours to farm and keep rightful ownership of their land.
SCHOOL & EDUCATION
The children attend school from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm. The classrooms appear sparse with nothing on the walls. There is little or no equipment and they have no computers. They have access to the internet only via their mobile phones. Ultimately they will be ill equipped for the modern world of technology.
The food provided is free and nutritious being grown and provided from their lands. There are crisps and chocolate available but they have no money to purchase them.
During their visit to the school a meeting had been arranged to discuss the support required for three children whose homes were to be demolished that day by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
A number of the children expressed their desire ultimately to become doctors or engineers which they see as the profession most needed by their viillage.
LAND & FARMING
There is a situation of on-going relentless theft of land and resources. Access to their land is under total control of the IDF soldiers who are constantly heavily armed with machine guns. Check points open for 5 minutes in the morning and then 5 minutes in the evening. This can change at a moments notice. In some circumstances access to their land is only allowed once a year, at harvest time, therefore the land cannot be nurtured.
The Israelis sometimes use pseudo-legal means where, the "law" (as in a pre-1948 British Mandate entitles the state just to take land from its owner if it is over 50% rock-covered).
To maintain cultivation lemon trees are planted and harvested. Farmers are held up at check points on their way to the market and delayed until the markets have finished there-by being deliberately left with their crops unsold. A farmer negotiated a contract with a Jordanian company to export his crop of thyme. Just before the export, the licence was revoked by the Israelis.
Gerry was told by Abdel-Latif that the land, owned by several generations of his family, was advertised for sale in an obscure journal which he could never have had acesss to. When the sale of the land was contested by him through legal channels, the ultimate result was a one to one confrontation by Abdel-Latif and a solder, the latter stating that if he set foot on his land he, the soldier would have no option but to shoot him.
There is a recurrence of the theme of sadistic pleasure the Israelis seem to obtain in using their totally undemocratic idea of the "law" and their (again unaccountable) state power over the Palestinians not only to control every possible aspect of their lives but deliberately to demoralize them at every opportunity.
We heard the story about the villages wanting to hook up their sole water pump to the main electricity grid (since grid power is cheaper than a generator driven supply). They made prolonged. sustained efforts to obtain permission from the Israelis and, finally they were granted permission, The Israelis then waited until all of the expensive pipes and cables had been bought and delivered ready to be used before revoking permission on spurious grounds.
Having been at the receiving end of Palestinian hospitality and now having returned to Scotland, Gerry said he felt all the more empowered and obligated do everthing he could to deliver effective solidarity with the Palesinaian people.
By Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI)
END THE ISRAELI MILITARY OCCUPATION
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are part of the Palestinian and Arab people who have struggled for decades against colonization and a military occupation imposed upon us by Jewish settlers via the Zionist Movement and the state of Israel.
We are part of the worldwide movement of people involved in the struggle for justice, equality and freedom of the oppressed and marginalized, and have come to the World Social Forum with a clear agenda: we wish to share with you our analysis of the root cause of this protracted conflict in Palestine and - based on common understanding - gain your effective support of our ongoing struggle.
What Is Our Struggle About?
The root cause of the protracted conflict in the Middle East is the denial of the right of the indigenous Palestinian-Arab people to live and develop freely in our land - i.e. the right to self-determination - through the imposition of a state in 1948. The state of Israel was built by immigrants for their own exclusive benefit. In this sense, it is not a 'normal colonial state' built through the exploitation of local resources and indigenous labor. Israel defines itself as 'a state for the Jewish people' only. Zionist-Israeli policy from the early 20th century until today has aimed to TAKE CONTROL OF THE LAND Land and to EXCLUDE its indigenous people. Israel is a COLONIAL APARTHEID state.
Conquest of the land and the exclusion of the Palestinian-Arab people have been accomplished through a variety of policies and practices initially applied inside the territory of the state of Israel (i.e. 1949 ceasefire lines). Similar measures have been duplicated on the Palestinian and Arab land occupied by Israel in 1967, i.e. the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights. These include:
REFUGEES' RIGHT TO RETURN (i.e. ethnic cleansing): There are some 6 million Palestinian refugees including their descendents from the wars of 1948 and 1967. Israel illegally expropriated their lands and homes, as well as the property of some 500,000 Syrian Arabs and their descendents expelled from the Golan Heights in 1967. Today these refugees comprise the majority of the Palestinian people.
INDUCING PEOPLE TO LEAVE BECAUSE THEIR DAILY LIVES BECOME UNBEARABLE
In 37 years of Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some 20,000 Palestinian homes and refugee shelters have been demolished and some 600,000 Palestinians have been detained for various periods of time. During the current intifada alone (2000-2004) at least 3,300 Palestinians, 600 of which were children, have been killed and over 27,000 injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Public and private infrastructure has been destroyed. Several hundred thousand citrus trees have been uprooted. Palestinians face severe restrictions on their freedom of movement and access to land and water. These measures have accelerated a process of economic de- development.
JEWISH MAJORITY IN PALESTINE
This includes the encouragement of Jewish immigration; construction of 'Jewish only' colonies ('settlements') on land illegally taken from Palestinian farmers (e.g. some 430,000 settlers have been transferred to some 227 Jewishonly colonies in the occupied West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza Strip); unilateral annexation of occupied land without the inclusion of its native inhabitants (eastern Jerusalem, Golan Heights); enactment of immigration, citizenship and land laws which deprive the indigenous Palestinian-Arab inhabitants and land owners of their rights to their nationality and their land, and the transfer of these rights to the Jewish people/state of Israel for their exclusive benefit.
PEOPLE and the PEOPLE FROM THEIR LAND
Since 1948 'closed military zones' and permit/pass regimes have been enforced in all areas for this purpose. Permanent military checkpoints which were put in place in 1993, construction of Israel's Apartheid Wall which began in 2002 and Israel's 'unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip' scheduled for 2005 are more recent, physical and visual expressions of the same policy.
Propaganda campaigns and deliberate misinformation and distortions of the facts about the situation in Palestine have accompanied the Zionist-Israeli conquest since its inception. The most notorious slogan described Palestine as 'a land without people for a people without land'. Today Zionist-Israeli propaganda deliberately employs western Islamophobia and the 'war against terror', the need to justify war and occupation in Iraq, as well as concern about anti-Semitism, in order to install fear and misinformation about the Palestinian-Arab struggle among western academia, media, policy makers and the public.
Where Are We Today?
The successful implementation of the policies and practices summarized above would not have been possible without the political backing and support provided by western powers including Britain and the United States. Our collective struggle has brought achievements. Today we are recognized as a people with rights. Hundreds of United Nations resolutions have affirmed our rights, condemned Israel's colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal under international law and called upon Israel to provide effective remedy. In 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) affirmed these rights and called upon Israel to provide effective remedies. However, many governments, the United Nations and the European Union have remained unwilling to apply political measures that could bring about Israeli compliance. Israel continues to operate outside and above the law.
The process of colonization, occupation and entrenchment of the apartheid-like system in Palestine and the Golan Heights thus CONTINUES AT A RAPID PACE and the OPPORTUNITY FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INTERNATIONALLY-FAVORED TWO-STATE SOLUTION MAY WELL HAVE BEEN MISSED FOREVER. Diplomatic efforts to bring about - with Israeli consent - the end of military occupation and the establishment of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state in the 1967 occupied West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip via the 'Oslo peace process' and the 'Road Map' have failed. US-sponsored Israeli-Syrian negotiations also failed to bring about peace based on Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. So-called 'new windows of opportunity' for a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace are empty rhetoric in a climate where the struggle for basic rights, justice and freedom is increasingly challenged and discredited in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere.
CALL FOR ACTION
Today the Palestinian people and the Syrian people of the occupied Golan do not enjoy basic protection by governments or the United Nations who have the responsibility and obligation to stop forceful conquest, occupation and apartheid and facilitate just remedies and solutions.
Global civil society, grassroots movements and NGOs, have thus remained our only ally.
We therefore appeal to the participants at this World Social Forum to undertake urgent and broad action in order to help end the current situation in Palestine and bring about a new era in which the indigenous people can return to their land and properties and are compensated for damages and suffering incurred, and in which all people in Palestine can freely exercise their basic individual and collective rights in the framework of one or two sovereign states in line with their choice.
In particular, we call upon participants at this World Social Forum to focus individual and collective efforts on:
DEVELOPING PUBLIC INFORMATION AND AWARENESS- RAISING CAMPAIGNS WHICH CAN EFFECTIVELY CHALLENGE ZIONIST-ISRAELI PROPAGANDA on the conflict;
highlighting discrimination caused by Israel's exclusive Jewish character and policies, the ongoing character of Palestinian- Arab forced displacement and dispossession and refugees' right to return, restitution and compensation; Syrian Golan Heights.
BUILDING A BROAD ISRAEL BOYCOTT-DIVESTMENT-SANCTIONS CAMPAIGN inspired by the model of the South-African anti-apartheid campaign: aimed at public boycott (e.g. consumer boycott of Israeli products, non-cooperation with Israeli initiatives in the field of culture, education and sports), divestment (e.g. de-investment by private companies and public institutions from Israeli institutions and/or stocks and bonds) and pressuring governments to impose sanctions on Israel. Choose initiatives which fit your local environment and link up with similar initiatives worldwide.
BUILDING LOGAL SUPPORT NETWORKS for activists, journalists, teachers and politicians who are brave to speak out for Palestinian rights and threatened by Zionist lobby organizations.
COORDINATION WITH PALESTINIAN/ARAB CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
activities with Palestinian civil society organizations in Palestine (including those located in pre-1948 Palestine now Israel) and in exile and with Syrian civil society organizations in the Golan Heights.
Original statement here at Stop the Wall Campaign
'UNITED IN STRUGGLE' - OPGAI
FREE PALESTINE NOW
Palestine, January 2005
Prepared by the members of OPGAI:
Israel has ended its current round of killing of Palestinians in Gaza, leaving 25 dead and over 80 wounded, some seriously. Three Israeli were injured. It is a symptom of the sense of impunity felt by Israeli officials who organise murders of Palestinians, whether in a Dubai hotel or Gaza, that Israel announced it would “stop assassinations” for the moment. An official said Israel was “sorry” for “collateral damage”.
This confirms the feeling in Gaza that Israeli hi-tech aircraft, some equipped with UK-supplied parts, were targeting the leadership of the political parties in Gaza, together with resistance members, and ex-prisoners that Israel was recently forced to release in a prisoner exchange for a captured Israeli soldier.
Israeli Civil Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said on Israel Radio that " this round is now behind us.” (Vilnai threatened Palestinians with a “Holocaust” immediately before Operation Cast Lead in December 2007.)
We are unable at this stage to stop Israel’s regular massacres of Palestinians; we need to organise in larger and larger numbers to isolate the rogue state economically. Withdrawing Israel’s lucrative trade arrangements with the EU would help to level the playing field between Israel and the Palestinians they routinely murder.
Tell your MP to end Israel's privileged EU status
EU report notes huge increase in Jewish settler attacks
By Andrew Rettman
BRUSSELS - EU countries' ambassadors in Ramallah have said Israeli authorities are not doing enough to stop a massive increase in attacks by Jewish extremists against Palestinians. The attacks varied from gunfire to throwing stones and garbage, including at Palestinian schoolchildren, as well as burning homes and mosques, killing livestock and uprooting olive trees. They caused three deaths and 183 injuries last year. Some 10,000 mostly olive trees were destroyed...
The EU diplomats depicted settler attacks as part of a broader Israeli campaign to get rid of native Palestinians, saying they "effectively force a withdrawal of the Palestinian population away from the vicinity of settlements, thereby increasing the scope for settlement expansion."
...The EU report said over 90 percent of complaints filed by Palestinians ended with no indictment. The complaints are not easy to make because in most cases Palestinians have to go to police stations inside Jewish settlements and conduct formalities in Hebrew.
Meanwhile, Jews and Palestinians live under two different legal regimes in the occupied territory - if a Jewish boy throws a stone at a Palestinian it is treated as a misdemeanour under civil law, but if a Palestinian boy throws one, it is treated as an act of terrorism under military law.
Full report at EU Observer 13 March 2012
Monday 26th March 7.30-11pm with
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