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  • Aqsa News FOR FREE DISTRIBUTIONQUARTERLY | ISSUE 42 | JANUARY 2010 One year after the Israeli offensive on Gaza, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians, injured tens of thousands and left countless without homes; the Gaza Strip remains a dis- aster zone. The sick and war disabled struggle with in- adequate medical supplies, homes have been rebuilt us- ing mud and straw and Pal- estinians continue to undergo unimaginable suffering. The Israeli and Egyptian-enforced siege upon Gaza has also hin- dered basic post-war recovery and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. In response to world-wide political impotency in bring- ing an end to the suffering, extraordinary actions have been witnessed at the grass- roots level. Ordinary people of many nationalities formed the ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy which vowed to take vital aid to the Gaza Strip not only to ease the suffering but also to mark the one year anniver- sary since the Israeli bomb- ings. At the time of writing (29 December 2009), Egypt’s president Husni Mubarak had refused the convoy entry and over 500 people and 200 trucks were stranded at the Aqaba port in Jordan, only four hours away from the Gaza Strip. Egypt’s complic- ity in Israel’s siege has an- gered many. The one year anniversary was also marked by sombre vigils in many cities around the world, and in London about 2,000 protestors gath- ered outside the Israeli em- bassy in a noisy and impas- sioned protest against the ongoing siege and oppression of the people of Gaza. The memory of Israel’s 22-day at- tack, which was preceded by an 18 month siege, was fresh in the protestors’ minds. 300 children were killed, medi- cal personnel were targeted, mosques and schools were bombed, civilian homes were demolished; all with what appeared to be an ap- parent disregard for the lives of Palestinians. The horrific images pictured on television screens of mangled bodies and bombed out buildings were only a snapshot of the full scale of the death and de- struction. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society reported that the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip caused over six hundred Palestinians to become disa- bled. As well as experiencing greater difficulty with day-to- day functioning both physi- cally and socially, the medi- cal society also pointed out the Israeli siege was a major obstacle to positive change for the disabled. The number of Palestinians who have died as a result of the Israeli siege also continues to rise, with 360 deaths reported by Pales- tinian health ministers. As the siege continues, Israel refuses to allow con- crete and other construction materials into the Strip and so the possibility for recov- ery is minimal. Residents of the Gaza Strip have resorted to building their homes from mud and straw and the UN has now followed suit with its re-building. John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency stated that “A mud hut is still better than a tent. It’s not a solution to the re- construction of Gaza buts it shows you how desperate the situation is, that a year later, people living in tents have the hopeful prospect of get- ting a temporary mud brick shelter.” In Remembrance of Gaza In a development that an- gered Israel, an arrest warrant was issued by a British court for former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, over al- legations of war crimes com- mitted this year in Gaza. This unprecedented move, consid- ered long overdue in light of the documented violations of international human rights by Israel, is the first of its kind against an Israeli minister. The warrant was later withdrawn after it emerged that Livni would not be at- tending a meeting scheduled in the UK. Israeli officials are facing increasingly hostile re- actions during visits to the UK and the US due to growing opposition to Israel’s policies against the Palestinians. Stu- dent at the London School of Economics disrupted a lecture by the Deputy Foreign Minis- ter of Israel, Daniel Ayalon, during his latest visit. Ehud Olmert was heckled by audiences in Chicago and San Francisco in the US and Ehud Barak had to be granted diplomatic immunity in an emergency situations to avoid arrest in the UK. Israeli min- ister and former military chief Moshe Yaalon also cancelled a visit to the UK due to fear of prosecution over war crimes allegations made by human rights and pro-Palestinian or- ganisations. Arrest Warrant Issued for Livni in the UK Friends of Al-Aqsa Update Comments from Tema Okun and Tom Charles Page 2 > Page 7 > Page 8 > Page 12 > Inside... Isreali Settlers Attack West Bank Mosque Page 3 Goldstone Report Endorsed by General Assembly Page 4 Obama Scraps Tariff on Israeli Goods Page 5 Book Reviews Page 11 Why Boycott Matters Page 14 Special Feature: Unequal, Unsustainable: Water, Palestine and Israeli Apartheid Israel Targets Group Exposing IOF Crimes in Gaza
  • According to statis- tics compiled by the Pal- estinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Palestinian women have faced increasing violence over the last year due to the Israeli offensive on Gaza and also the long-stand- ing Israeli blockade. Between November 2008 and November 2009, 116 Pal- estinian women were killed by Israeli forces operating in the Gaza Strip alone. Another four died due to the Israeli enforced siege on the tiny enclave during this period. The PCHR reported that dur- ing this conflict, “hundreds of women experienced hor- rific tragedies that included witnessing their sons or hus- bands being killed by Israeli forces, and others were forced to leave homes that were sub- sequently demolished.” This information was released to coincide with the anniversary of the Inter- national Day for the Elimi- nation of Violence Against Women in November 2009, which urged countries to take the necessary action to pro- tect women’s rights. Palestinian women con- tinue to suffer from the effects of the war on Gaza, as Israeli forces destroyed civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools and power stations which affect living conditions. Recovery and re- construction after the conflict has also been slow due to the continuing blockade. Under the siege, Pales- tinian women have been de- prived of their basic needs such as adequate medical services, the right to educa- tion as well as clean drinking water and electricity. Israel has also deprived women in the West Bank of their rights, subjecting them to house raids and demoli- tions, arbitrary arrests and humiliating treatment at the checkpoints. Since Novem- ber 2008, Israeli forces killed 21 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including 9 chil- dren. Research by Save the Children has also found that 92% of Palestinian families living in rural West Bank or ‘high risk areas’ had no ac- cess to healthcare. ‘Breaking the Silence’ is the latest organisation to be targeted by Israel over its condemnation of the 22-day assault on Gaza in 2008-9. The group is made up of Israeli soldiers who have giv- en anonymous testimonies of their experience during the conflict. They revealed that during the attack on Gaza it was ‘accepted practice’ for Israeli soldiers to destroy homes and mosques with- out military necessity; to fire white phosphorous in popu- lated areas and to kill inno- cent victims with small arms. Haaretz reported that the organisation’s funders have been under Israeli diplomatic pressure to withdraw their support. The Israeli ambas- sador to the Netherlands, Harry Knei-Tal, met with the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry and com- plained about the Dutch em- bassy’s funding of Breaking the Silence. Israeli diplomatic pres- sure has also been placed on Britain over its financial con- tribution to the organisation. The deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, requested clarifica- tions as to whether the money donated by Britain was used to fund the report on Opera- tion Cast Lead. Breaking the Silence has accused the Israeli Foreign Ministry of “endangering de- mocracy” by engaging in a witch hunt against the organ- isation. These actions reflect the increasing desperation of the Israeli government to silence critics of the Israeli army, even when those critics are from within. The number of Israelis opposing the Oc- cupation is rising and the Israeli government is em- ploying increasingly repres- sive measures to quell them. The Suffering of Palestinian Women Israel Targets Group Exposing IOF Crimes in Gaza AQSA NEWS 02 Inside Palestine Growing Support for Boycott Amongst Israelis The call to boycott, divest from, and impose sanctions on Israel has found new sup- port amongst Israeli citizens who have launched a ‘Boy- cott from Within’ campaign. Inspired by the success of the BDS movement, which recently led Norway to divest from Israeli companies in- volved in illegal settlements and the wall, the campaign has also received support from Naomi Klein of ‘No Logo’who was visiting Israel. Michel Warschawski a veteran activist against the Israeli occupation high- lighted the aims of the cam- paign as: basic individual and collective rights, end of domination and oppres- sion. He also noted that their campaign would help “dis- arm the infamous accusation of Anti-Semitism raised by the Israeli propaganda ma- chine against everyone who dare to criticize the colonial policies of the Jewish State.” Palestinians Break Israel’s Wall In a demonstration to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Palestinians and international activists tore down segments of Israel’s Apartheid Wall in the town of Qalandiya. A group of masked activists used a lorry to pull down the two-metre cement blocks which make up the wall, be- fore Israeli security forces confronted them with tear gas canisters. Several crossed the Sepa- ration wall and Palestinian flags were hoisted. The wall has been denounced as illegal by the International Court of Justice as it appropriates land from the West Bank. Once completed, the Israeli wall will be more than four times the length of the Berlin wall. 1,000 Palestinian Prisoners for Shalit Israelhasofficiallyagreed to swap 1,000 Palestinian prisoners; 450 requested by Hamas and another 550 cho- sen by Israel, in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held in Gaza. Shalit was cap- tured near Gaza in June 2006 and indirect negotiations be- tween Israel and Hamas have been mediated by German intelligence officers. The terms of the agree- ment have not yet been fi- nalised and there is reported disagreement on some of the names Hamas has put for- ward. Marwan Barghouti, the popular Palestinian Fatah leader is believed to be on the top of Hamas’ list. If success- ful, this would be the biggest prisoner swap for twenty years. 14,000 Palestinian Olive Trees Destroyed in 2009 A report by the Land Re- search Centre in Jerusalem which works to protect Pal- estinian land and agriculture revealed that in 2009 alone, Israel destroyed 14,000 Pal- estinian olives trees. During this years olive harvest, Is- raeli forces burned and up- rooted 1,455 olive trees and a further 7,000 trees were uprooted specifically to allow settlement expansion. Israeli settlers, who are living il- legally in settlements within the West Bank and East Jeru- salem, also damaged another 5,500 trees. Palestinian farmers also faced physical abuse from Is- raeli forces and settlers when they attempted to harvest the The ceasefire agreement arranged by Hamas at the end of November has come under question after numer- ous groups in Gaza, includ- ing the al-Qassam Brigades, categorically denied they had agreed to a ceasefire. They reiterated their right to legiti- mate resistance as granted by international conventions to a people under occupation. Hamas was hoping that the ceasefire would give Gazans a chance to rebuild their homes after the war on Gaza, which killed over 1,400 Palestinian during December 2008 and January 2009. Al- though both sides declared unilateral ceasefires follow- ing the end of the conflict, a much reduced number of Is- raeli air raids and Palestinian rocket attacks continue. The Gaza Strip is still struggling under Israel’s siege which denies the devastated region basic construction materials needed for recovery. NEWS IN BRIEF Gaza Ceasefire Compromised
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) has supported pleas that Arab countries severe busi- ness ties with Veolia and Al- stom- two French companies involvedintheJerusalemlight rail project which connects occupied Jerusalem with il- legal settlements in the West Bank. At a press conference organized by the Palestin- ian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Com- mittee (BNC), which is a coalition of 170 Palestinian organisations, the commit- tee called for “Arab govern- ments to practically translate their consistent verbal sup- port for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem into action, at least by refusing to deal on a busi- ness-as-usual basis with com- panies implicated in violation of international law and Pal- estinian rights.” Thisnewcampaigncomes after news of Saudi Arabia’s multi-million dollar contract with Veolia to construct a railway link between Mecca and Medinah as well as other deals for power stations. The boycott committee has had significant success in the West, leading to the ter- mination of various contracts with the two companies in Sweden, Britain and Aus- tralia. Alstom’s work on the Jerusalem rail is illegal ac- cording to international law as it will built on stolen Pal- estinian land and many critics state that it hinder the possi- bility of East Jerusalem be- coming the capital of a future Palestinian state. Forthcom- ing Gulf rail projects with Alstom are believed to worth an estimated $25 billion. The committee is yet to receive any responses from the Gulf states implicated with the two companies. PA Calls for Arab States to Boycott Firms with Israeli Link For many Muslims across the world, Eid Al-Adha is a time for celebration and the ritual slaughter of a sheep to mark Prophet Ibrahim’s dedi- cation to Allah (SWT). For the people of Gaza, however, the situation this year left lit- tle to celebrate. Struggling under the siege imposed in 2006, which was not even lifted during the war to allow victims to seek medical attention, many are unable to pay for meat or pur- chase new clothes for their children. Many are choosing to simply repair their clothes and cannot afford to pay for the slaughter of an animal. Due to widespread pov- erty many were unable to buy a goat or sheep. One resident of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip, Kamel Abu Jazzar, had been struggled to buy a sheep for his 20 mem- ber family since the siege be- gan. He explained: “Can you imagine, even if I want to buy some meat for my children in the ‘Eid, I need at least 10 kilos, which costs a lot of money, yet I cannot af- ford that, as the meat prices are so high.” Although it was widely reported that Israel would ease the blockade to allow cows in for Eid, the quanti- ties allowed in fell far short of the actual needs of the population. The UN humanitarian co- ordinator for the Palestinian Territories, Maxwell Gay- lard, reported during a tour of Gaza in November that the border restrictions were also limiting Gaza’s ability to rebuild homes destroyed dur- ing Israel’s 22-day offensive. Around 20,000 Gaza res- idents were made homeless during the conflict accord- ing to the UN and hundreds of families face the coming winter in tents. Eid Under Siege House Demolitions in Jerusalem Stepped Up UN Chief, Ban Ki-Moon, has issued a statement call- ing on Israel to end its ‘pro- vocative’ actions after an- other Palestinian family was evicted from its home in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. This comes as an investigation by the Pal- estinian Centre for Human Rights revealed that Israel has issued 60 demolition or- ders for homes, apartments and other civilian structures in Area C which includes the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem. Orders include plans to demolish an apartment build- ing containing 25 flats in oc- cupied East Jerusalem. Ac- cording to PCHR, since the beginning of 2009 Israel has issued approximately 2,300 demolition orders. Israel has faced huge in- ternational criticism for its tactical use of demolitions against the Palestinians. AQSA NEWS 03 olives. The Land Research Centre remarked that Israeli violations against Palestin- ian land and trees is part of an ethnic-cleansing policy which seeks to eradicate Pal- estinians and their cultural heritage. Abbas to Resign Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announce- ment that he would not be standing for re-election in the January 2010 elections has meant that the elections will now be delayed until June 2010. Abbas ascribed his de- cision to the stalemate in the peace process and observ- ers also believe that Hilary Clinton’s remarks that talks should continue without demands to halt settlements (which were later withdrawn) were the last straw. Abbas was elected in January 2005 but remained in power after his term as presi- dent ended in January 2009. Many Palestinians remain dubious about whether Abbas will actually resign although Marwan Barghouti has been hailed as a firm favourite to replace him if released from prison. If elections do go ahead, it is still unclear whether HA- MAS will participate, and a boycott by them and their supporters will render any election results unrepresenta- tive of the real wishes of the Palestinian people. For the time being, anAb- bas led Palestinian Authority is the only leadership that Is- rael is willing to recognise. Israeli Museum Opens Outside Al-Aqsa The Al Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage in Je- rusalem has revealed that Is- rael will soon open the ‘Third Temple Museum’ to Jewish visitors. Located just a few metres from Masjid Al Aqsa, which is Islam’s third holiest shrine, the Museum is seen as another move by Israel to undermine the sanctity of the al-Aqsa Sanctuary. Tensions around Jerusa- lem increased towards the end of September and dur- ing the first week of October 2009 following clashes be- tween Palestinians defending the sacred Masjid al-Aqsa and Israeli security forces. The battle for the al-Aqsa Sanctuary has been particu- larly pronounced, as Israel is allowing extremist hard-line Jewish settlers to occupy Pal- estinian homes from which Palestinian residents have been evicted. There are also concerns about the tunnel- ling that Israel has carried out under the al-Aqsa Sanc- tuary which have weakened its foundations in parts lead- ing to fears of collapse in the event of earth tremors. Israeli settlers attacked a mosque in the West Bank, torching its library which contained the Qur’an and Ha- dith collections, and spraying it with threatening Hebrew graffiti. The attack on the Mosque in the northern vil- lage of Yasuf, near Nablus, is believed to have been a re- action to plans by the Israeli government to halt illegal settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Terri- tories for ten months. Graf- fiti sprayed on the floor read “Price tag- greetings from Effi” in reference to hardline Jewish settlers’ policy of at- tacking Palestinians and their property in revenge for any curbs on settlement expan- sion. Other graffiti read “We will burn you all.” Clashes later erupted as Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers who arrived at the scene and attacked the crowd with tear gas. Despite reassurances by the Israeli government that they will spare no effort to catch the guilty party, the culprits are yet to be arrested. Israeli Settlers Attack West Bank Mosque
  • Despite pressure from the US and the UK to halt settlement expansion, Israel recently announced plans to construct 900 housing units in the Gilo settlement in oc- cupied East Jerusalem. The plan has faced a backlash from officials in the US with a White House state- ment expressing ‘dismay’ at the decision. It was also noted that “at a time when we are working to re-launch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed.” A statement issued by the British consulate added that “the Foreign Secretary has been very clear that a cred- ible deal involves Jerusalem as a shared capital. Expand- ing settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem makes that deal much harder. So this decision on Gilo is wrong and we oppose it.” Gilo, which is home to 40,000 Israeli settlers, is il- legal under international law as it is built on occupied land. The constant expansion of Israeli settlements on Pales- tinian land is seen as a major obstacle to achieving peace. Palestinians are demanding a complete freeze before re- suming peace talks. In response to this dip- lomatic pressure, the Israeli cabinet approved a ‘restric- tion’ of West Bank settlement construction for ten months. Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu claimed that this move showed the world that Israeli wants peace with its Palestinian neighbours. However, this statement has been received with scepti- cism as the agreement failed to make any commitments to halting settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem which is where the most ex- pansion is taking place, re- vealing the ‘restriction’ to be nothing more than a smoke screen. The agreement also only applies to new construc- tion permits and so would not halt the 3,000 homes already approved for construction. Around 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank with a further 180,000 Is- raeli’s occupying East Jeru- salem. There are also plans for a new settlements in East Jerusalem given the name Givat Yael, to be located on land of the Palestinian village al-Walajah, which will house 45,000 Israeli settlers. In January 2009, an offi- cial UN inquiry into the war in Gaza was setup by the UN Human Rights Council head- ed by SouthAfrican judge and war crimes prosecutor Rich- ard Goldstone. Israel refused to cooperate with the inquiry, denying them access to Isra- el’s military sources and also entry into Gaza via the Israeli border. Goldstone’s team fi- nally entered Gaza via Egypt in June 2009 for a week-long fact finding mission. The UN collected evidence on the 22- day conflict named Operation Cast Lead from witnesses, victims and other human rights organisations. The report findings con- firmed that Israel was in vio- lation of international human- itarian laws as it had applied excessive and indiscriminate use of force against the peo- ple of the Gaza Strip. The report also drew attention to the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza which had not only exacerbated the conflict but has also hindered post-war reconstruction and recovery. The siege was also deemed an act of collective punish- ment and illegal under the Geneva Conventions. Israel was dismissive of the report stating that it was inaccurate, unfairly critical of Israel and ignored Hamas’ complicity. However, the in- ternational community has shown overwhelming support for Judge Goldstone’s report which specifies breaches of international law by both sides. The report also brought controversy to the Palestin- ian Authority (PA) after Ab- bas withdrew PA support for a Goldstone resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Under Israeli and US direction, Abbas had ef- fectively attempted to damp- en support for the report and also delay the UN vote to March 2010. Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip demonstrated to show their widespread anger at this move. This was coupled with an international outcry which resulted in the PA to make a U-turn in its policy. In November 2009, the report was backed by the UN Human Rights Coun- cil when 114 of the member states voted in favour of it in a 192-member General Assembly. The US, Aus- tralia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Israel all voted against the report whilst Britain abstained on the Resolution. The report was heavily condemned by America and the US House of Representa- tives rejected the UN report as “irredeemably biased.” The US House voted 334 to 36 in favour of a resolution calling on President Obama to maintain his opposition to the report. Goldstone’s report has faced significant US opposi- tion as it recommends that an independent investiga- tion takes place into Israel and Hamas’ conduct during the war and that the cases be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. For Israeli leaders to be put on trial at the ICC, a Resolu- tion would need to be passed at the UN Security Council where the US holds a veto power, making it unlikely. It has been revealed that Saudi Arabia has awarded a multi-million dollar contract to French company Alstom for the construction of the Haramain Express Railway, to link the holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Alstom is currently in- volved in building a rail serv- ice in the occupied Palestini- an territories to make it easier for illegal Israeli settlers to travel. The ‘Jerusalem Light Rail’ project will link illegal settlements in the West Bank to East Jerusalem and so is in breach of international law as it will be built on stolen Pal- estinian land.Alstom will also be building the railway line along the Apartheid wall and Palestinians will be restricted from using the services. Palestinian supporters have denounced the Saudi government for awarding the contract toAlstom as not only does it send a signal of ap- proval of Alstom’s actions in Jerusalem, but it also means that the company would prof- it from Muslim pilgrims dur- ing hajj. The Arab League, of which Saudi Arabia is a member, has also previously barred member states from dealing with companies in- volved in the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail project. Boycott action has also been launched by soli- darity groups targeting Al- stom. A similar divestment campaign has targeted Al- stom’s partner company, Ve- olia, which is also involved in building Jerusalem’s light rail. To date, the company is believed to have lost an esti- mated 7 billion dollars with boycott successes including the loss of a 4.5 billion dol- lar contract in Stockholm, di- vestment from a Dutch bank as well as exclusion from bidding for key contracts in Tehran’s transportation serv- ices. Alstom and Veolia are currently facing a lawsuit in France for their involvement in the Occupied Jerusalem project brought by France- Palestine Solidarité. Groups are calling on supporters to write to the Saudi Railway Organisation, in opposition to the contract with Alstom. Protests have been organ- ised in Berlin after it emerged that Israel is seeking to obtain two new warships, free of charge or at least part-funded, from Germany.AGerman de- fence delegation is planned to arrive in Israel by the end of the year to finalize the details of warships which each cost over $300 million. Germany previously sup- plied three submarines dur- ing 1999-2000 to Israel and is currently building two sub- marines which will be ready in 2012. Palestinian support- ers have argued that since the German chancellor Angela Merkel argued in front of the US congress that “whoever threatens Israel, threatens us”, the country seems ready to financially and militarily support Israel despite the long-standing accusations for War Crimes. AQSA NEWS 04 Global News Israel Announces Settlement Expansion Around Jerusalem Goldstone Report Endorsed by General Assembly Action Against Saudi Deal with Alstom Germany to Supply Warships to Israel In a damning documenta- ry for Channel 4’s Dispatch- es, Peter Oborne exposed questionable relationships between Britain’s pro-Israel lobby and both the Conserva- tive and Labour parties. According to the pro- gramme, the Conservative party has received £10m over the last eight years from Conservative Friends of Is- rael (CFI) members and busi- nesses and the CFI claimed that 80% of Tory MPs are members. Conservative leader David Cameron was the keynote speaker at the an- nual CFI lunch in June 2009 where he failed to make any mention of the recent attacks on Gaza. It was also believed that the CFI strengthened Tory opposition to the Gold- stone report. It was revealed that La- bour Friends of Israel took more MPs on free trips to Israel than any other group and was also described as “less unquestioning in its sup- port of the Israeli government than CFI.” The programme also highlighted the pressure put on various media organi- sation by the pro-Israel lobby such as the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian. Jewish organisations reacted angrily to the pro- gramme, stating that it had resulted in rising anti- semitism and “an onslaught of hateful comments on the Internet.” The Board of Deputies of British Jews also issued a statement legitimat- ing the role of the pro-Israel lobby: “The link between the UK Jewish community and the State of Israel sits at the core of our identity as British Jews. Our support of institu- tions that promote UK/Israel relations is a consequence of that.” Despite these rebuttals, MPs have received many let- ters of complaint. Britain’s Pro-Israel Lobby Exposed
  • By Shafik Mandhai Mahmoud Abbas’ de- cision not to stand for re-election in January’s Palestinian presidential poll can be explained by one of two possible motives. In one scenario, the beleaguered leader, unconvinced of the Israeli and American commitment to the peace process throws in his towel and acknowledges the futil- ity of attempting to reach the two-state solution. In the other, the leader of the Fatah old guard lays all his cards on the table in one last gamble to force the Israelis into starting meaningful negotiations. Abbas’ announcement came days after Mrs. Clin- ton’s generous outpouring of praise for hardliner Binyamin Netanyahu. She described his offer of restraint in the expansion of settlements as “unprecedented” whilst at the same time demanding that the Palestinians drop their demands for preconditions to be fulfilled before commenc- ing talks. Specifically, the condition relating to a freeze on settlement building. Both the Israeli and Arab press described her com- ments as the straw that broke the camels back where the Fatahleadershipisconcerned. However, to fully understand Abbas’ move, we must look beyond the sound bites and look to the facts. Fatah’s first general assembly in twenty years was held in August 2009. The assembly highlighted the divisions within Fatah between the “leaders of the Palestinian street” and the “Oslo leadership with a Zionist-American plan,” as described by one attendee. Members voiced frustration at the organisations inabil- ity to establish a Palestinian state and reaffirmed its use of “armed resistance” against Israel. It was clear Abbas’s failure to bring significant concessions for the Pales- tinian people was causing impatience and dissent within his own camp. His position was further strained by his cataclysmic response to the Goldstone report in October, which led to the resignation of senior PLO official NabilAmr, the former Palestinian ambassador to Egypt. The name of Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, echoed off the walls of the assembly and will be more frequently heard in light of Abbas’s statement. The charismatic leader of Fatah’s armed fac- tion is currently imprisoned in Israel but his popularity grows stronger and the pros- pect of him becoming the next Fatah leader could hold the key to explaining Abbas’ decision. The possibility of a President Barghouti is one the Israelis are not willing to entertain. Abbas’s message thus becomes clear; he is the only man Israel and the Ameri- cans can talk to and to con- tinue talking they will have to give him at least a bite of the proverbial carrot. The Americans and French have already voiced their con- cerns about his resignation, though none have so far of- fered to match their worries with significant concessions. It even appears that there are plenty in the Israeli ad- ministration willing to call Abbas’sbluff. Israel’sForeign Minister, ultranationalist Av- igdor Lieberman, described Abbas’s decision as a “threat” and advised others not to get “excited about it”. Either way Abbas has placed the ball firmly in the Israeli court and with the Israelis unwilling to make any compromises and the Ameri- cans reluctant to put pressure on the Israelis, it seems likely that Obama’s grand ambi- tions for peace in the region will die before talks even begin. Britain’s Secretary of State for International Devel- opment, Douglas Alexander MP, stated that access to Gaza could be granted without compromising Israel’s secu- rity and that the government would continue to “press hard for improved access at the highest levels.” This view was expressed at the annual reception of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, an or- ganisation which works with three main political parties to foster better understanding between Palestine and Brit- ain as well as promoting a just and durable peace in the Middle East. Mr Alexander, who vis- ited the Gaza Strip in March 2009 and was truly horrified by the scale of destruction, expressed hope for a Pales- tinian state which is “pros- perous, peaceful and demo- cratic”. He also emphasised Britain’s commitment to sup- port Palestinians through £30 million assistance this year in direct budget support across the occupied Palestinian ter- ritories, as well $100 million over 5 years to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, Ed Davey MP, also recalled his visit to Gaza in Febru- ary, commenting that to say it was “one of the most harrow- ing visits” he had ever made would be an understatement. David Lidington MP, stated that the Conservative party remained “utterly committed to seeing the dream of Pales- tinian statehood fulfilled.” On the issue of the Gold- stone report, Richard Burden MP, the Chair of the Britain- Palestine All Party Parlia- mentary Group called for accountability on both sides, but said that Israel was wrong “first of all, to refuse to coop- erate and then to rubbish the report as one-sided.” Commentingontheevent, the director of the Council for Arab British Understanding Chris Doyle, said that “the presence of so many senior politicians from all parties was a strong show of support and solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people, and that there remained at the heart of British politics a strong commitment to find a solution to this conflict.” The Dutch Foreign Min- ister has agreed to launch an enquiry into cosmetic prod- ucts from Israeli firm Ahava, after concerns were raised that products were falsely labelled as ‘Made in Israel’ although the company has laboratories in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement in the West Bank. This would mean that Ahava products were being produced in contravention of the Geneva Convention which forbids an Occupy- ing Power from making use of the Occupied Territory’s natural resources. Van Bom- mel- who put the issue on the parliamentary agenda- said that beyond denying Ahava products a tax exemption, these products should be alto- gether banned from the Dutch market and that of other Eu- ropean countries. In an unprecedented move, the British govern- ment has issued new guide- lines for food labelling to enable consumers to distin- guish between produce from the Palestinian occupied ter- ritories and those from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This move is seen as part of increasing diplomatic pres- sure on Israel with regards to its illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories. The guidelines issued by the Department for the En- vironment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are voluntary. Previously, food labelling only specified Israel or the West Bank as its source but under new recommendations this should change to ‘Pales- tinian produce’or ‘Israeli set- tlement produce’. The policy change comes after wide campaigning un- der the banner of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) targeting those selling products from the Israeli settlements. These are either labelled as pro- duce of Israel and exported using preferential EU trade tariffs; or as produce of the West Bank misleading many people who presume they are from a Palestinian source. Defra reminded traders that labelling products from the occupied Palestinian terri- tories as a ‘produce of Israel’ would be committing an of- fence. Various supermarkets, such as Waitrose and Tesco, have been targeted by Pales- tinian supporters as they sell herbs labelled as produce of the West Bank although they are grown in the Israeli settle- ments. Israeli officials said they were “extremely disappoint- ed” with the new guidelines, adding that it simply played into the hands of those who sought a boycott of Israeli goods. Although the British government insisted that the guidelines opposed a boy- cott of Israeli goods, they did acknowledge that the settle- ments remained a major ob- stacle to peace. TUC and Oxfam have demonstrated their support stating that consumers have the right to know the origins of products so that they can make an informed decision on whether to buy it or not. Bar- bara Stocking, Oxfam’s chief executive was quoted in The Guardian as saying “Trade with Israeli settlements – which are illegal under inter- national law – contributes to their economic viability and serves to legitimise them. It is also clear from our devel- opment work in West Bank communities that settlements have led to the denial of rights and create poverty for many Palestinians.” Many organisations working in solidarity with the Palestinians have welcomed the news, however, they also want to see greater steps taken by the government in- cluding a complete ban on products from illegal Israeli settlements and prosecution of Israeli companies who are falsely labelling their prod- ucts. AQSA NEWS 05 Mahmoud Abbas and the Illusion of Peace Talks Alexander Douglas: ‘Access for Gaza without Compromising Israeli Security Possible’ Holland to Investigate Origins of Ahava Products Despite the growing boy- cott movement and effort to bring Israel in line with trade laws, US president Obama has reportedly eliminated a tariff on Israeli dairy products making it easier and cheaper for them to enter the US. The policy change has been re- ceived with anger as it failed to protect the local produc- tion of dairy in the US which is already at crisis point due to the recession. It was reported by a US based campaign group ‘If Americans Knew’ that the Council for the National Interest President, Eugene Bird, said: “Once again we see Israel receiving special treatment, at a cost to Ameri- cans...” and he also pointed out that for decades Israeli policies have prevented Pal- estinian exports, creating fi- nancial hardship for millions of Palestinians. Obama Scraps Tariff on Israeli goods The Palestine Return Centre, an independent or- ganization which focuses on the right of return of Palestin- ian refugees, met with Ivan Lewis, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Common- wealth office for Middle East and North Africa, on Thurs- day 12 November 2009. The Palestinian delega- tion spoke to Mr Lewis for over two hours, discussing the bleak situation in Pales- tine and the right of return, especially in light of the plight of Palestinian refugees from Iraq who are stranded on the borders between Iraq and Syria and are living in terrible conditions. Several practical initiatives were of- fered by the delegation and Mr Lewis spoke of his desire to maintain a strong rela- tionship with the Palestinian community. Palestine Return Centre meets British Minister of State UK to Label Food as Israeli Settlement Produce
  • AQSA NEWS 06 Campaigns Update Sussex University Boycott Israeli Goods Students at the University of Sussex have become the first in the UK to implement a comprehensive boycott of Israeli goods. In a campus-wide refer- endum held by the University of Sussex Students’ Union (USSU), 56% of students voted in favour of the boy- cott. The campaign follows the Palestinian call for Boy- cott, Divestment and Sanc- tions against Israel, until the Israeli state respects interna- tional law and ends the occu- pation of Palestine. Tom Wills, USSU Presi- dent, said: “Israel has broken more UN resolutions than any other state. No other Western- backed democracy has com- mitted such egregious viola- tions of international law, but the international community has failed to hold Israel to ac- count. “Sussex was one of the first universities to boycott South Africa during apart- heid, and we hope that this will help kickstart an interna- tional movement on a similar scale to put pressure on Israel to end its oppression of the Palestinian people.” Wills added: “We call on students at other universities to table boycott motions in their own unions.” The December ‘2008- January ‘2009 Israeli attack on Gaza triggered a resur- gence in student activism in the UK, with a wave of sit- in protests at universities in- cluding Sussex. The student boycott also echoes a grow- ing boycott movement with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) backing a boycott of Israeli settlement goods in September 2009. Image courtesy of photogra- phywithoutborders.org By Zainab Rahim Students at King’s Col- lege London (KCL) have reached the end of their ground-breaking project to send their university’s surplus equipment to Gaza. Over 50 students took part in the col- lecting, packing and bubble- wrapping of books and lab equipment to be sent to the University of Gaza with the Viva Palestina convoy in De- cember 2009. The project follows a widespread university cam- paign that began in January 2009 to protest against the illegal war in Gaza and raise awareness of the Palestin- ian situation. President of the newly-established student so- ciety KCL Action Palestine, Nour Sacranie, said “We are delighted to have come so far, and have shown that the stand for justice has to be proactive. We hope students all across the UK will work together to speak out when human rights have been violated all over the world.” Also amongst the agreed demands were the provision of five fully-funded scholar- ships to Palestinian students and the establishment of formal links between King’s College London and educa- tional institutions affected by the crisis in Gaza. Due to the ongoing siege, the greatest challenge now being faced is transportation, but students are determined to carry the project through right to the very end. With thanks to the School of Biomedical & Health Sci- ences for their extraordinary efforts. And thanks to Fisher Scientific UK and VWR In- ternational Limited for the donations of packaging ma- terials. London Students Support Gaza Boycott Against Volvo The Volvo car manufac- turing group has come under threat of boycott from Pal- estine solidarity activists for supplying armoured buses to Israel for use by settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Ter- ritories. Volvo Buses, a branch of Volvo Group, are co-owners of Mervakim Ltd, an Israeli company specialising in transport technology. Mer- vakim Ltd have designed and constructed the Mars Defend- er armoured bus which mobi- lise Israeli settlers throughout the occupied territories. Pro- motional videos by Mervakin Ltd show the Mars Defender driven through the West Bank and other occupied territories, as well as showing Israeli de- fence soldiers boarding these buses. Providing this vehicle, with knowledge of its pur- pose, violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conven- tion, which clearly states that an Occupying Power is not allowed to deport or trans- fer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. It also breaches the Volvo Code of Conduct, which claims to endorse hu- man rights. Volvo has previously been targeted by pro-Palestinian campaigners due to their involvement in supplying equipment used to demolish Palestinian homes and also constructing Israel’s Apart- heid Wall, which has been declared illegal by the Inter- national Court of Justice. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists from 12 different organiza- tions in the UK, Ireland, Nor- way and France gathered in Northumberland in October 2009 to develop a more ef- fective European BDS pro- gramme against Israel. The ‘Boycott Israel Network’ (BIN) was established to bring together the groups and enable their work to continue and expand. Discussions covered boy- cott activities at supermar- kets, collaborative projects, beginning with a nationwide week of action that would fo- cus on specific retail stores as well as complicit firms such as Veolia, Eden Springs, Aha- va and Agrexco. It was also highlighted that further atten- tion and action was needed against the arms trade sup- plying Israel. Scottish PSC reported on the Jewish national Fund (JNF), a registered charity in the UK, and its role in the es- tablishment and maintenance of the racist state of Israel. The meeting demon- strated the intention of a wide range of active and ac- complished groups to work together to end the military occupation and apartheid in Palestine. A full report of the meet- ing by David Pegg and Mon- ica Wusteman is available at www.bricup.org.uk. Boycott Israel Network Established Campaign Against Military Manufacturer Linked to Israel Activists in Manchester have launched a campaign against local military com- ponent manufacturer Brimar, due to concerns that it pro- duces vital components for weapons used to commit war crimes in conflict zones such as Gaza, Iraq and Afghani- stan. The company special- izes in display screens and viewing equipment found in military aircraft such as the AH-64 Apache Helicopter, battle tanks and other ar- moured vehicles. Anna Free- man, a spokesperson for the ‘Target Brimar’ campaign said: “Brimar isn’t making generic nuts or bolts. This viewing equipment is what allows tank gunners and heli- copter personnel to actually aim and fire their equipment. RAF recruitment advertise- ments may talk about preci- sion strikes which don’t kill any civilians, but how many times have we heard about wedding parties and fleeing villagers being wiped out? “There are reports that an Apache helicopter was used by the Israelis during the in- vasion of Gaza earlier this year to kill three paramedics and a twelve-year-old boy, who was showing them where wounded people were.” During the 2006 war in Lebanon, Brimar directors admitted that the company supplied components used in Apache attack helicopters sold to the Israeli military. Local activists are continuing with their campaigns.
  • AQSA NEWS Comments 07 I am an anti-Zionist Jew. I’ve been a Jew all my life although I was not raised with a Jewish education. In my late 40s, I began to study. I read, I joined a syn- agogue, I helped start a Tal- mud study group. I was and am drawn to the essential command, attributed to the great Rabbi Hillel, that our task as Jews is essentially to “not do to others that which is hateful to you.” I did not know much about Israel until I became more engaged as a religious Jew. The organized Jewish community teaches us that the Israeli narrative is the Jewish narrative. Support for Israel, the story goes, is synonymous with being a good Jew. Now, some ten years and four trips to Israel/Pal- estine later, I invite you, to hear why I care more about Hillel’s commandment than I do about a state. With my partner who is also Jewish, I have just returned from 15 days in Palestine. We frequently walked the streets of Ram- allah, stopping for home- made ice cream at Balad- na’s, shopping for shoes and handmade embroidery. We travelled north to Na- blus and Tulkarem to visit family members and share succulent meals that left us bursting. We were privileged to see again what we have seen before — how rich and full and engaging life in Palestine can be, how the people here are like people everywhere, at- tempting to live with some degree of happiness. We also bore witness, as we do on each trip, to en- croaching apartheid. As we drove deep in the West Bank along the road snaking north to Nablus from Ramallah, we could look up and see virtually every hillside topped by a Jewish settlement. The om- nipresence of these smaller settlements on the road to Nablus is new since our last trip in 2005; a look at the latest UN map shows the Palestinian landscape dot- ted with them like an x-ray showing a virulent, spread- ing cancer. The massively large ones, housing hundreds of thousands of Jewish set- tlers, are designed to pen- etrate deep into the West Bank. Each functions to di- vide Palestine into separate cantons making a contigu- ous state impossible. The newer smaller ones, act like beachheads, strategically positioned to continue the slow but sure process of Is- raeli land grab. I think about the ubiqui- tous story told in the Jewish community, crafted careful- ly by the ideology makers, painting Israel victim to a hostile Arab population that wants nothing more than to drive us into the sea. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the irony of such a story, for it’s not us, the Jews, who are being driven out. It’s us, the Jews, it’s Is- rael, the state designed for us the Jews, that is driving Palestinian people off their land and into exile. Iwanttoinvitethem,and any of you who have never been, to come and live, as I did, for two weeks in Oc- cupied Palestine. Come with me to the checkpoints, where you will be herded into metal troughs so nar- row you can’t turn around, through turnstiles designed specifically to be too small for the average human body, yelled at by young 18, 19, 20 year olds whose contempt and disregard for those they control reeks off their skin like sweat. Come and hear the sto- ries, told at every gathering of Palestinians, of the lat- est injustice endured by a family member, a friend, at the hands of an Israeli sol- dier or settler. Come with me and talk to the family whose home, built on their own land, was demolished for lack of a permit that Israel will not give. Come meet the grieving father and mother whose young boy was killed when Israeli tanks parading through the town sprayed bullets send- ing one through their gate and into their son’s back. These people, and mil- lions like them, are not a se- curity risk of any kind; their crime is to be Palestinian. What I’m saying to you, although I’m not supposed to say it, is that Zionism is indeed racism – the supremacy of one race over another for the benefit of the first. The Jewish community is not in danger from Pal- estinians or Arab nations. We are in danger because we interpret “never again” to mean never again for us when we should mean for anyone and everyone. Our survival does not depend on a state that violates our fun- damental values; our sur- vival depends on honouring those values, the ones that instruct us “not to do to oth- ers that which is hateful to you.” Tema Okun is active in Mid- dle East peace and justice, and works with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA. Britain’s decision to abstain at the UN Gen- eral Assembly vote on the Goldstone Report came as no surprise to anyone. Un- der Tony Blair, the British government had shifted to an explicitly pro-Israel po- sition and this has contin- ued under Gordon Brown, seemingly undeterred by the horrors of Israel’s mas- sacre in the Gaza Strip last winter. But there is a lesser known example that high- lights the depth of the La- bour government’s complic- ity in Palestinians’ plight and its commitment to the US-Israeli vision of a Pal- estinian state: Britain has been funding the Palestin- ian Authority’s (PA) West Bank security forces, an anti-government paramili- tary force. According to an arti- cle in the Daily Mail, £20 million a year of tax pay- ers’ money goes to forces who torture Palestinians under an authority that routinely ignores judges’ orders to release political detainees. Anyone that is seen as a political rival to Fatah could be targeted. Political Science profes- sor Raid Neuerat of Nablus University was handcuffed at gunpoint in front of his wife and four children. A hood was put over his head and he was beaten for four hours. After this, unable to see or move his legs, he was then tortured by the forces for almost a week. His crime was to describe the Hamas takeover of Gaza as a takeover rather than a ‘coup’. Luckily for him he survived to tell the tale, but others have been less fortu- nate and have been killed by the security forces. Another example ex- posed in the Daily Mail arti- cle is that of Amar al-Masri, who was detained by the PA forces along with his wife, for winning a seat on the Nablus Council represent- ing a ‘Citizens coalition’. He was repeatedly tortured. Al-Masri asked: “Britain is a democratic country. Why are you supporting these things?” These PA paramilitary forces, trained in Jordan and under the control of US General Keith Dayton, were initially deployed as a re- sponse to the Hamas takeo- ver of the Gaza Strip. After winning the 2006 elections, Hamas offered to form a coalition government with Fatah who rejected the deal, preferring to collaborate with the occupation forces in the hope of overturning the result. Backed by the EU, the US-Israeli plan was to punish the Palestinians by blocking economic aid, militarily overthrowing Hamas and then use the forces to control Gaza. When Hamas pre-empted the coup and took over, the US simply transferred the plan to the West Bank. The PA security forces follow a long-standing im- perial tradition of hiring lo- cal mercenaries to suppress the population, thus reduc- ing the chances of a unified and vengeful response that would be likely if it were Is- raeli forces carrying out the repression. Note the lack of protest in the West Bank as Israel carried out its mur- derous assault on Gaza – it was not that the West Bank Palestinians chose not to protest; they were violently prevented from doing so by the PA forces as reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The PA forces under- mine Palestine’s democracy and prop up the quisling leadership of the unelected Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. And this is paid for by the British taxpayers. At the Labour party conference Foreign Secretary David Miliband eluded to the fact that Britain was sponsoring these forces. The colonial project carries on in Palestine una- bated. Here in the UK, the hundreds of thousands of outraged citizens who were on the streets last winter demanding an end to the killing, are being led by a government that refuses to listen to these voices of de- cency. Tom Charles is a London- based activist for justice in Palestine. Britain’s War on Palestinian Democracy Tom Charles A Jewish State, or Jewish Values? Tema Okun “A look at the latest UN map shows the Palestinian landscape dotted with settlements like an x-ray showing a virulent, spreading cancer” “The PA forces undermine Palestine’s democracy and prop up the quisling leadership of the unelected Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. And this is paid for by the British taxpayers. At the Labour party conference Foreign Secretary David Miliband eluded to the fact that Britain was sponsoring these forces.”
  • AQSA NEWS “Truly, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11) One year after the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip which killed over 1,400 people, the situa- tion in the besieged enclave remains dire. Tens of thousands of Gazans are now living through a freezing winter in tents or partially destroyed homes. Images of the devastation that was visited on Gaza by Israel last winter remain fresh in our minds, and as the siege continues, the popula- tion is unable to recover. The misery that Israel has inflicted on the Palestinian people has not been forgotten and through- out the world, we marked the one year anniversary of the war with silent vigils in solidarity with the people of Gaza. While many may feel a sense of hopelessness from the political impotency of our governments where Israel is concerned, there is a lot that we can do to assist the Palestinians. Friends of Al Aqsa has been encouraging many campaigns which draw attention to the ongoing suffering and is also working hard to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which tackles the Israeli occupation. Various Friends of Al Aqsa branches campaigned against supermarkets selling produce from Israel and particularly those from settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Echoing the South African boycott to end apartheid, this is intended to send a clear message not only to Israel but also to the international community that Israel’s very own apartheid against the Palestinians will not be tolerated. The future looks bleak for the Palestinians. Israel’s willingness to breach provisions of interna- tional law that are intended to protect occupied people leaves little hope for peace. Our job as part of the international solidarity movement remains crucial in order to ensure the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom and security is not forgotten. It is up to us to make Israel culpable for the crimes it commits. Ismail Patel Support for Friends of Al Aqsa is increasing across the UK. In recent months branches in Glasgow, Bristol, Cardiff, Bradford and Lon- don have been set up or expanded. Many are active in raising awareness of the situation in Palestine through campaigns, distributing fly- ers, lobbying and fundraising events. Anyone interested in joining any of these branches or even setting up a branch in their area should contact head office. Glasgow The Glasgow branch has been working hard to raise the profile of the Palestinian issue, and they have even taken their message to the highest peak in Britain! A fundraising expedition took them to the top of Ben Ne- vis. The climb was a gruelling task and they carried up a “Free Palestine” banner in order to make their mission clear. One participant commented: “Climbing the mountain was very difficult and challenging. On the mountain we faced gale force winds, -10 degrees Celsius temper- atures, zero visibility due to low cloud cover and snow. However with the blessing and help of Allah (SWT) we made it and came back alive and in one piece.” Money raised through this fundraising event has gone towards printing leaflets to support the boycott of Israeli products in supermar- kets. The Friends of Al-Aqsa Glasgow Branch (seen here) organised a successful exhibition titled ‘GAZA NOW’ which was displayed in Glasgow Central Mosque for a week com- mencing 11 December 2009. Gaza Now Exhibition In December, Friends of Al Aqsa’s Glasgow branch helped organise the successful launch of an exhibition commemorating the anniver- sary of the war and siege on Gaza. Speaking at the event the chair and founder of FoA, Ismail Patel, remarked that it was well received and would hopefully encourage more supporters to join the movement for peace in Palestine. Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister for Scotland, who was at the event to show her solidarity with the people of Gaza remarked that “There are still too few voices in the inter- national community that are prepared to stand up and speak out for the people of Gaza and that is why it’s so important that people like us, not just in Scotland but all over the world, continue to speak up and speak out.” Walsall The Friends of Al Aqsa football team known as ‘Aqsa United’ entered the 5-a-side Football Tournament at Walsall in aid of the charity campaign ‘Everyman- Stamp out Male Can- cer’. Although they did not win the competi- tion, it was the first time ‘Aqsa United’ had entered a tournament and they hope to enter many more in future. If you are based in Walsall and would like to join the ‘Aqsa United’ football team, please contact walsall@aqsa.org.uk for more details. Dewsbury and Batley The Dewsbury and Batley branch is one of the newest groups to join Friends of Al Aqsa. The branch is focussing on distributing the Friends of Al-Aqsa quarterly newspaper and leaflets. The members successfully co-ordinated a youth awareness programme in Ramadan to educated the youth on the current plight of the Palestinians and the significance and impor- tance of Masjid Al-Aqsa for Muslims. The branch has attracted hard working and committed individuals including one member called Imran who joined the Viva Palestina convoy for Gaza. He is taking with him an ambulance, which he purchased, repaired and restored. Update from Friends of Al-Aqsa Branches Boycott Campaign in the North Targets Morrisons The Friends of Al Aqsa Bradford Branch and United- 4Palestine joined with mem- bers of Halifax Friends of Palestine, York Student Pal- estine Society, the Bradford, Leeds and York branches of PSC and Viva Palestina to mount a 2 hour vigil opposite Morrison’s headquarters dur- ing the Boycott Israel Net- work week of action against supermarkets. A small delegation of the protesters met with the Head of Corporate Social Respon- sibility, Steve Butts who had previously resisted all requests for a meeting with PSC activists. The protest- ers informed them that trade with the settlements was il- legal and called for them to follow the example of com- petitors like the Cooperative, who had stopped selling set- tlement goods. Mr Butts was also informed that they were in breach of their own ethi- cal trading policy by dealing with suppliers who use child labour and also racially dis- criminate against Palestinian workers. Morrison’s stated that its position was to provide customer choice with goods sourced from a wide variety of countries, and it is guided by government regulation on labelling and other issues related to the trade. They did however show interest in the issue of the mistreatment of Palestinian workers and agreed, in principle, to meet with the protesters to discuss this matter further. A major demonstration was also held outside Morrisons’ head of- fice in Bradford in the same week. 08 Message from Friends of Al-Aqsa ‘Israeli Apartheid’ Book Launch Friends of Al Aqsa host- ed an event in October with writer and journalist Ben White, to promote his first book ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’. The book was well received by those who attended the event and Shamiul Joarder of Friends of Al Aqsa added: “I think the book is an important tool to give people the information they need to go into the com- munity and talk about what crimes are being committed in Palestine by Israel.” The book has also been endorsed by the likes of Desmond Tutu and Ilan Pappe. Ben has been visiting Palestine/Israel since 2003 and his articles ap- pear in publications like the Guardian Online’s ‘Comment is free’, the New Statesman, and Electronic Intifada. Boycott Israeli Dates Success During Ramadan 2009, Friends of Al-Aqsa launched a national Boycott Israeli Dates campaign which was a tremendous success. Dur- ing previous years, the Eu- ropean markets were flooded with Israeli dates during Ra- madan and many consumers unknowingly purchased them in order to break their fasts with at Iftar time. Friends of Al-Aqsa extended its boycott campaign to include dates in order to tackle this. The campaign was a suc- cess and across the country thousands of people boy- cotted Israeli dates, which also led to an increase in the number of Palestinian pro- duced dates which were sold by the fair trade organisa- tion Zaytoun. The campaign included adverts on the TV, radio and on the internet. The success of the boycott campaign reflects growing awareness in Europe about the situation in Palestine and an unwillingness of people to support the Israeli state finan- cially while the occupation continues. Boycotting Israeli produce such as dates ensures that the consumers’ money does not end up propping up the occupation of Palestinian lands. Members of the Glasgow Branch at the summit of Mount Ben Nevis.
  • AQSA NEWS 09 MERCHANDISE In 1993, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment WMD prolifera- tion assessment recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having an unde- clared offensive biological warfare program.Israel’s repeated use of highly toxic unknown chemicals against Palestinian civilians has never come under intense scrutiny. These attacks will no doubt continue until international pressure and condemnation force Israel to stop this torture. hyperventilation, irritation and sweating.”It was concluded that the protestors had most likely been attacked using a nerve gas.Israeli Peace movement Gush Shalom reported following the incident: “What the army used here yesterday was not tear gas. We know what tear gas is, what it feels like. That was something totally different... Black smoke came out. Anyone who breathed it lost consciousness immediately, more than a hundred people fell. They remained unconscious for nearly 24 hours... They had high fever and their mus- cles became rigid. Some needed urgent blood transfusion. Now, is this a way of dispersing a demonstration, or is it chemical warfare?”There have been at least 10 separate incidences since 2001 where Israel used suspicious gas against Palestinian civilians, causing horrific suffering. Experts who have reviewed witness testimonies have concluded that Israel used nerve gas.Biological Weapons Israel is not a signatory to the Biological Weapons Convention. However, it is assumed that the Israel Institute for Biological Re- search in Ness Ziona develops vaccines and antidotes for chemical and biological warfare. Published by Friends Of Al-Aqsa PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWU Tel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524 Web: www.aqsa.org.uk - Email: info@aqsa.org Name:.................................................................................................................................... Address:................................................................................................................................. ..............................................................................................Postcode:.................................. Tel:.........................................................Email:...................................................................... I enclose a cheque for £............... (make all cheques payable to ‘Friends of Al-Aqsa’) Friends of Al-Aqsa, P.O Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU 0116 212 5441 | www.aqsa.org.uk | info@aqsa.org.uk Please add 10% of the total cost to cover postage expenses Leaflets A set of 20 information leaflets including the following: Books Free Qty:....... Complete set of information leaflets on Palestine Issues Forty Ahadith Concerning Masjid Al-Aqsa Free Qty:....... Dome of the Rock Free Qty:....... Palestine Beginner’s Guide £9.95 Qty:....... Madina to Jerusalem £5.95 Qty:....... A History of Palestinian Resistance £5.95 Qty:....... Virtues of Jerusalem £5.95 Qty:....... OFFER: All 4 books for £20.00 Qty:....... The USA & ISRAELSustaining an Illegal Occupation should suspend all aid until Israel ends itsoccupation of Arab land Israel seized in1967.” In 2005, Israel unashamedly asked theU.S. for $2.2 billion in special aid for itsdisengagement plan. Most of this moneywould go towards compensation forextremist settlers who have caused havoc inthe Gaza Strip. Ironically, no such paymentwas ever offered to the Palestinians whosehomes were demolished to create thesettlements initially. U.S. aid to Israel is funding the creation of ahostile environment for the U.S. in the MiddleEast, perpetuating tensions, maintainingan illegal occupation, and helping Israelto defy all U.N. resolutions, create terroristsand threaten U.S. oil supplies.Israel’s GNP is higher than the combinedGNP of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, theWest Bank and Gaza. With a per capitaincome of about $14,000, Israel ranks asthe sixteenth wealthiest country in theworld; Israelis enjoy a higher per capitaincome than oil-rich Saudi Arabia and areonly slightly less well-off than most WesternEuropean countries. Most Americans are not aware of howtheir taxes are being used to support Israel,and they have a moral responsibility to beaware. An additional fact is that most of this aidviolates American laws. The Arms ExportControl Act stipulates that US-suppliedweapons be used only for “legitimate self-defense.” Israeli self-defence argumentsare preposterous given the lack of aPalestinian military. Israel is now probably the most militarizedsociety in the world. The West Bank and Gaza have becomegiant concentration camps. None of thiscould have occurred without U.S. support.Republican Congressman Paul Findleyonce said: “For 35 years, not a word hasbeen expressed …in either chamberof Congress that deserves to be calleddebate on Middle East policy… On CapitolHill, criticism of Israel, even in privateconversation, is all but forbidden, treated asdownright unpatriotic, if not anti-Semitic…Israel is a scofflaw nation and should betreated as such. Instead of helping Sharonintensify Palestinian misery, our president Published by Friends Of Al-AqsaPO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWUTel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524Web: www.aqsa.org.uk - Email: info@aqsa.org Many minors have reported abuse while in custody, including being forced to stand in extremely difficult positions with their hands cuffed, their eyes blindfolded and with out being allowed to use bathrooms, nor eat or drink for long hours. As Israel is spinning a fabricated story of peace in the Occupied Territories, Palestinians are in need now more than ever of international protection and the implementation of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions. Israel has also used its illegal settlements as detention centres in clear violation of International Law which demands that detention centres be marked, known and well reported. Another method employed during the intifada was the arrest and detention of political leaders, where they were lucky enough not to be assassinated. This method was intended to break down the structure of the Palestinian resistance movement. Israel has managed to avoid international pressure for its lack of compliance with international laws intended to protect prisoners by accusing them of being “terrorists”, which following the events of 9/11 ensures few questions are raised about applying international human rights conventions. This has made the Palestinian struggle for freedom confused in the minds of many who have little knowledge of the conflict. Children According to Israeli military regulations, a child 16 or above is considered an adult, contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s defined age of 18. Thus, many minors face harsh adult prisons. Moreover, Palestinian children may be charged and sentenced in military courts when they are as young as age 12, due to the non-existence of juvenile courts. Over 2,000 children were arrested during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, of whom some 400 still remain imprisoned. The crime of most of these children was throwing stones at Israeli armoured personnel carriers, which carries a sentence of between 6 months and a year. Published by Friends Of Al-Aqsa PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWU Tel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524 Web: www.aqsa.org.uk - Email: info@aqsa.org Destruction/Appropriation of Property Since 1967, Israel has continued to commit a momentous crime against the Palestinians by stealingmuchoftheirterritoryandbuildingset- tlementsonit.Thisisillegalunderinternational law, and to facilitate the settlements, all Pales- tinianhomesontheseizedlandaredemolished. Hundreds of other Palestinian homes have also been demolished by Israel leaving many thousands homeless. Settlement building on occupied land and the transfer of occupier civilians to the occupied territories is illegal, yet Israel has about 500,000 of its civilians living in the occupied Palestinian territories. The number of settlers continues to grow unabated despite international condemnation. Israel’s Apartheid wall continues to be built within the West Bank annexing large chunks of it to Israel. This is widely thought to be a deliberate policy by Israel to create new facts on the ground and preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state on these lands. Thus, Palestinians will be permanently deprivedofyetmoreoftheirhistorichomeland. These checkpoints make day to day life a misery for Palestinians, and are also a form of collective punishment which is unlawful under article 33 of the Geneva Convention IV. Unlawful Deportation/Transfer Israel has transferred some Palestinian civilians between Gaza and the West Bank as a formofpunishment.Thesecivilianshavenoway to get back to their homes as the two territo- ries are completely separated from each other. Unlawful Confinement Israel uses a policy of ‘Administrative Arrests’ whereby it arrests and imprisons Palestinian civilians with no evidence and on no charge. These prisoners are denied the right to a fair trial, as there is no crime, and face terms of 6 months imprisonment which are often renewedresultinginlongtermsofconfinement. Israel also confines children in adult prisons in breach of internation- al law. These children face abuse and torture at the hands of criminal prisoners. Depravation of Fair Trial Those prisoners who do receive trials are given inadequate access to legal representation, and are often unaware of what is going on at their trial as they are conducted in Hebrew. Many meet their legal counsel only once before trial. 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Over half the population is unemployed, resulting in 62% of Palestinians attempting to survive on less than $2/day. Many that can find work have jobs within Israel, but they spend hours each day at military checkpoints. This economic hardship, deliberately imposed, has led to mass emigration with tens of thousands leaving the West Bank for Jordan and other countries. Thus, Palestinians are being forced out of their homeland for the expansion of Israel. The contrast with South Africa is blindingly obvious: “Yesterday’s South African township dwellers can tell you about today’s life in the Occupied Territories. To travel only blocks in his own homeland, a grandfather waits on the whim of a teenage soldier. More than an emergency is needed to get to a hospital; less than a crime earns a trip to jail.” [‘Against Israeli Apartheid’, Comment by Desmond Tutu and Ian Urbina, The Nation, July 2002] licies Israeli d Policieslicies Israeli d Policieslicies Israeli IsraeliApart IsraeliApd PoliciesIsraeliApd PoliciesIsraeliApart IsraeliAp IsraeliApart Published by Friends Of Al-Aqsa PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 OWU Tel: 0116 212 5441 / 07711 823 524 Web: www.aqsa.org.uk - Email: info@aqsa.org s t e e, h ve nd is of aeli nians the suffer FLAG LAPEL BADGE £1.50 Qty:....... £1.00 Qty:....... RIBBON FLAG £3.00 Qty:....... £5.00 Qty:....... FREE Qty:....... FOOTBALL SHIRT £10.00 Qty:....... XL (46 X 31) ....... L (42 X 30) ....... M (40 X 29) ....... S (38 X 28) ....... XS (34 X 25) ....... XXS (31 x 21). ....... £5.00 Qty:....... XL (44 X 30) ........ L (42 X 29) ........ M (40 X 28) ........ S (38 X 27) ........ SCARF (SILK) T-SHIRT AL-AQSA KEYRING SCARF (SQUARE) SCARF (WOOL) £5.00 Qty:....... 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  • AQSA NEWS Crossword Competition (for 13-18 year olds) To enter this competition, you will need to use the 10 clues to fill the crossword below. Once you have done this, re-arrange the letters in the grey boxes to spell out a word. Across 4. West Bank city believed to be one of the oldest contineously inhabited cities in the world 6. Palestine’s ‘catastrophe’ in 1948 (Arabic) 8. Illegal construction by Israel which separates Palestinians from Jerusalem and their land 9. Political movement with the aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine 10. Traditional Palestinian dance Down 1. UN agency providing care for Palestinian refugees 2. Military control posts across the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip 3. Third holiest city in Islam 5. Israeli Jews who live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem 7. Arabic word for Palestinian ‘uprising’ against Israel in the late 1980’s and 2000 We have to show our ID cards to the sol- diers to get through. The soldiers only let some people through and the rest of us have to go back home. It is very sad when we get turned away as the Masjid is ours and we should be allowed to pray in it. Sometimes we wait at the checkpoints for so long that salaah time starts so we have to pray right where we are. Getting Access to Masjid Al-Aqsa. Every Friday, we try to go to Masjid Al- Aqsa to pray Jummah salaah. It is a long journey from the West Bank to Masjid Al-Aqsa, as we are stopped at so many Israeli checkpoints. By Ghazala Caratella 10 Fun & Games COMPETITION WIN!£20ARGOSVOUCHER! Friends of Al-Aqsa Competition 2010 Design Write Produce Key Stage 2 Aged 7-11 Design a Poster Prize: £150 for the entrant and £300 for their school Key Stage 3 Aged 11-14 Write an Article Prize: £200 for the entrant and £300 for their school Key Stage 4 Aged 14-16 Produce a Leaflet Prize: £250 for the entrant and £300 for their school Get Creative Deadline: 30 April For more info on the competition: www.aqsa.org.uk The Ant and the Tortoise Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) was granted by Allah (SWT) many powers including the ability to talk to animals. Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) was once sitting near a lake when he saw an ant creeping towards the water, carrying a grain of wheat. As it reached near the water, a tortoise came out, opened its mouth and the ant crept in. The tortoise closed its mouth and disappeared under the water. After a while, the tortoise sprung out of the water, opened its mouth and the ant came out without the grain of wheat. Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) wanted to know what had happened under water and asked the ant. It explained that at the bottom of the lake, was a stone and underneath it lived a blind ant and so Allah (SWT) had appointed the ant and the tortoise to provide it with food. Allah (SWT) provides for all his creature, even a blind ant at the bottom of the sea, and so we should always have faith in Him and trust Him in everything we do. Quiz Competition (for under 12 year olds) Answer the following questions and send us your entries. Circle your answers. Where was the Prophet Muhammed (saw) born? Jerusalem Makkah Medina Damascus What are companions of the Prophet called in Arabic? Ansar Khalifa Sahaba Friends What language was the Qur’an revealed in? Greek Urdu Bengali Arabic What is the first month of the Islamic calendar? Muharram Rabi-ul-Awal Shawwal Ramadhan Name of the Prophet’s (saw) mother? Zainab Aaminah Sumaiya Sheyma Send your answers with your name, age and address to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. You can also email us your answers on info@aqsa.org.uk but please put ‘competition’ as the subject heading. Deadline for both competitions is 1st of March 2010. Good luck inshallah! Storytime
  • AQSA NEWS Book Reviews 11 Israeli Apartheid, A Beginner’s Guide BY BEN WHITE Pluto Press, 2009 ISBN 978-0745328874 pp 172, £9.99 The state of Israel has been criticised by many aca- demics and activists for the violation of Palestinian hu- man rights and International Law. Yet, very rarely is the concept of ‘apartheid’ associ- ated with Israel. In this indis- pensable introductory piece, White courageously dis- cusses this issue and explores the definition of apartheid in light of UN resolutions. The book is split into three main parts. The first part explores the history of the Zionist set- tlement and the subsequent consequences for the Pales- tinian, beginning with the 1887 meeting which founded the World Zionist Organisa- tion. The second part of the book constitutes the core controversial subject of Is- raeli apartheid. White is quick to high- light that associating apart- heid with Israel does not mean equating it with apart- heid South Africa, rather, there are certain similarities and certain differences. A key difference is that “Israel has not practiced so called petty apartheid – in other words there are no toilets marked ‘Jews’ and ‘Non-Jews’”. In South Africa, the settlers exploited the labour power of the dispossessed natives, while in the case of Israel, the native population was to be eliminated and expelled. White summarises the three main tools of the apart- heid affected Israeli Arabs and Palestinians under Oc- cupation; physical dispos- sessions, the system for the ownership and administra- tion of public land and the bureaucratic arrangements regulating land development and land use-planning. He also provides a brief over- view of the separation wall, the detention and torture, the demolitions, the military bru- tality, the checkpoints, and the systematic discrimination when accessing and using the water resources of their own land. These are not merely isolated cases of human rights abuses, rather they form part of the ‘systematic policy to consolidate Israeli apartheid’ in the territories. The final section outlines the organisations working to combat this apartheid both regionally and internation- ally. White dismisses the sug- gestion that a compromise should be reached with Is- raeli apartheid and concludes that even if it seems unrealis- tic, apartheid must be elimi- nated to achieve peace in the region. The only drawback is White does not elaborate on the process of eliminat- ing apartheid and a more prescriptive solution would have helped to conclude the discussion. Overall, the book deals with the issue rationally and uses graphs, charts, maps, ta- bles and relevant introductory quotes to make the read easy and enjoyable. As John Dug- ard suggests in the Foreword, South African apartheid was discussed significantly more than the Israeli apartheid is discussed today in academia and the media, and ‘herein lies the value of the present work’. Reviewed by Yusuf Shabir, University of Manchester. Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair BY JONATHAN COOK Zed Books, 2008 ISBN 978-1848130319 pp 294, £14.99 Jonathan Cook’s book on the ‘disappearing of Pales- tine’- as it currently seems to be getting subsumed by the present state of Israel- is phe- nomenally packed with infor- mation on the Israel-Palestine conflict and makes a highly interesting read. Part one is made up of four chapters that lay the stage for the later part of the book that consists of a collection of articles. Part one deal with the way in which the Palestinian peo- ple were dispossessed from their land by the Zionist colo- nists and Cook tries to make it clear that the main preoc- cupation of the Zionists with the Palestinian people was to get rid of as many of them as possible from the land. He describes in detail how the nascent Israeli state took all possible steps to ensure that they widened and broadened the new state’s borders at the expense of the Palestinians and the neighbouring Arab states. In particular, he raises the issue of settler collusion with the judicial process in Israel to rid the Palestinian people of their land. Jonath- an Cook is very concerned about the slow annexation of the West Bank to the state of Israel, ‘dunam by dunam,’ to quote from the terminology that he employs. Part II of the book in- cludes a selection of essays prepared by the author over the last couple of years. One section is devoted to the vet- eran Palestinian-Israeli hu- man rights campaigner and long-term member of the Israeli Knesset-parliament, Azmi Bishara. Bishara along with other so-called ‘radi- cal’ Palestinians within the state of Israel has been ei- ther hounded into exile or imprisonment by the Zionist authorities on the pretext of state security. Another chap- ter deals with the complic- ity of the Western and Israeli Human Rights groups in the refusal to adequately ques- tion the state of Israel. Cook also describes how Israel has managed to stifle almost all forms of critical report- ing from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by aggressive controlling policies aimed at just eliminating the Palestin- ian viewpoint from the media picture altogether. . ‘Disappearing Palestine’ ends with an impassioned call to all concerned that the main enemy is Zionism and not the state of Israel per se, and therefore by discrediting Zionism, one could lay the foundation for the eventual solution of the Israel-Pales- tine conflict. Reviewed by Dr. Samuel J. Kuruvilla, University of Exeter
  • Water, how it is accessed, who controls it, and how it is cleaned, is a question of enormous significance for the future of Israel/Palestine. Currently, Israel’s insistence on maintaining an unequal arrangement regarding the control and use of water prej- udices both political process and environmental wellbe- ing. Israel’s approach to water resources is just one part of a bigger whole, an apartheid system designed to ensure the dominance of one group over another. As such, there are some similarities with the water regime in Apartheid South Africa, and the meas- ures employed by successive white governments intended to maintain control over pre- cious water resources. Control and Consumption Shortly after occupying Palestinianterritoriesin1967, Israel used a military order to make all the territories’ water resources public property. One step taken by the Israeli occupation authorities was to declare land alongside the Jordan River ‘closed military zones’, thus preventing ac- cess by Palestinian farmers. These kinds of measures also included the expropriation of wells, the denial of permits to drill new wells, and imposing rigorous water quotas. The restrictions on wells were implemented with mili- tary orders that meant Pales- tinians seeking to drill a well had to pass through arduous bureaucratic hurdles in order to seek permission that in most cases was denied. Ac- cording to B’Tselem, in 1998 there were 350 wells in the West Bank, and only 6.5 per cent of them had been drilled since 1967. A large number of West Bank Palestinians live in communities that are unconnected to a water net- work – around 220,000, or about 10 per cent of the popu- lation. Since 1967, Israel’s mili- tary regime in the OPT has been used to implement and maintain a highly imbalanced system, whereby Palestinians receive proportionally much less of the water than Israeli citizens, including Jewish set- tlers living in illegal colonies inside the OPT. The World Health Organisation recom- mends a minimum of 100 litres of water per person per day: according to B’Tselem Israel’s per capita water con- sumption is 280 litres a day – for West Bank Palestinians it is 60 litres a day. In research carried out in the summer of 1997 by the Foundation for Middle East Peace, it was reported that despite being about one twentieth the size of the city’s Palestinian population, Jew- ish settlers in Hebron used an average of 547 litres of water a day per person, compared to just 58 litres daily for the Palestinians. As Palestinian hydrologist Amjad Aleiwi put it in a story from The Guardian in 2004, “How can it be that Jewish settlers get unlimited amounts of pure water and that just across a fence children have to drink polluted water?” Stolen Land, Stolen Water One of the bitter ironies for Palestinians in the West Bank is that after Israel has taken the vast bulk of the territory’s water resources, it then sells the water back through the Israeli company Mekorot. Effectively, Pales- tinians are paying for their own stolen water. Mekorot is responsible for about half of the Palestinians’ water needs, though in summer months, the company reduces the amount of available water by up to 25 per cent in order to compensate for higher de- mand in Israel and the Jewish settlements in the OPT. It is worth saying some- thing about the arrangements that emerged during the 1990s between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding water in the OPT. The Joint Water Commit- tee (JWC), set up ostensibly to facilitate cooperation on water issues between Israel and the PA, became one more way for Israel to ensure an in- equitable arrangement. Apart from the fact that Israel overdraws without JWC approval “up to 1.8 times its share under Oslo”, the Foundation for Middle East Peace also found that “Israel retained a ‘virtual veto power’ in the [Joint Wa- ter] Committee and was un- willing to fulfill agreed obli- gations”. Furthermore,ifaproposed Palestinian water project lies inside ‘Area C’ (60 per cent of the West Bank), then it requires authorisation by the Civil Administration (the name Israel gives to the oc- cupation authority). In July 2001, the Civil Administra- tion was still ‘considering’ 17 requests submitted from 1997 to 2000. Israeli Colonisation and Water Appropriation Israel’s occupation of the West Bank since 1967 has been characterised by land appropriation and colonisa- tion, whereby huge swathes of private and public Pales- tinian land is transferred to Jewish ownership. Choosing where to build the settle- ments was influenced by a number of factors – including the location of water resourc- es. According to an estimate by the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, there are 115 settlements built over crucial water areas. This reflects the priori- ties of the Israeli state as the settlements were established and expanded. As Marwan Bishara put it in his book, Pal- estine/Israel: Peace or Apart- heid, “the map of the settle- ments looked like a hydraulic map of the territories”. When it came to build- ing the Separation Wall, Is- rael made sure that the route would be designed to loop around the principal colony blocs in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, placing the majority of the illegal settler population on the ‘Israeli’ side. This also meant that the Wall became a means of con- solidating Israeli control over the water resources, particu- larly the Western Aquifer, a large proportion of which is now covered by the Wall. Even the initial impact of the construction of the Wall was devastating for affected Palestinian communities in the West Bank. By August 2005, almost 40 “agricul- tural production wells” had been separated from farming communities in the Qalqilya, Tulkarem and Jenin areas. Farmers were forced to seek Israeli military ‘permission’ to access the land and wells. A later survey by the Pal- estinian Hydrology Group on the Wall’s first phase listed 50 wells as being either iso- lated by the Wall, or located “in the Wall’s 30-100 meter buffer zone” and thus “under threat of demolition or con- fiscation”. Sustainability and Equality Israel’s occupation of the WIn 2003, an article in Mid- dle East Report noted how the previous year, 22 per- cent of surveyed Palestinian communities had suffered “extensive shooting of roof tanks” by the Israeli army. The World Bank’s report this year recorded that 370 agricultural wells had been destroyed by the IDF during the Second Intifada. Acts of wanton destruction such as these, or the kind of damage to infrastructure experienced during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in ‘Operation Cast Lead’, may cause immediate humanitarian problems, but the core issues behind the water crisis in Israel/Pales- tine are much more funda- mental and structural. As B’Tselem Notes Israel’s policy regard- ing water supply in the West Bank is illegal and discrimi- nates on racial grounds. It flagrantly breaches interna- tional law which requires Israel to ensure proper liv- ing conditions for the local population and to respect the Palestinians’ human rights, including the right to receive a sufficient quantity of water to meet their basic needs. The key values that will have to shape a solution for the water resources of Israel/ Palestine are sustainability and equality. There is much creative thinking about how to provide solutions for a thirsty region, but harness- ing technological innovation for the benefit of the people of Israel/Palestine will be se- verely hampered should there be no change in Israel’s un- equal control and distribution of water resources. Water and the Gaza Strip The Gaza Strip is experi- encing a genuine infrastruc- ture crisis, brought on by the siege enforced by Israel and Egypt,aswellasduetothede- struction wrought by Israel’s AQSA NEWS Unequal, Unsustainable: Water, Palestine, and Israeli Apartheid By Ben White 12 Special Feature
  • military assault in December 2008-January 2009. A report by the World Bank found that in November 2008 (before ‘Operation Cast Lead’) most water wells were working at half capacity or had stopped altogether because of a short- age of spares. Despite the insufficient water resources, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the West Bank. Limited electricity, and few resources, meant that over half of house- holds at that time did not have access to the water net- work.In June 2009, the Red Cross described the water in- frastructure as “overloaded” and “subject to breakdown”: “thousands of homes only have access to running water on certain days”. Sewage is also a substan- tial problem in the Gaza Strip, where the system is in desper- ate need of investment and expansion. The Red Cross’ report in June 2009, ‘Gaza: 1.5 million people trapped in despair’, documented how every day, “69 million litres of partially treated or completely untreated sew- age – the equivalent of 28 Ol- ympic-size swimming pools – are pumped directly into the Mediterranean because they cannot be treated”. A report released by Am- nesty International in Novem- ber 2009, titled “Troubled Waters: Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water”, found that the availability and qual- ity of water supplies in the Gaza Strip had reached ‘cri- sis point’. It also reported that the main source of water in the Gaza Strip- the southern end of the Coastal Aquifer- had been depleted and con- taminated with only 90-95% of its water unfit for human consumption. Ben White is a freelance journalist and writer special- ising in Palestine/Israel. His first book, ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’, has recently been published by Pluto Press. This article is an edited version of Ben White’s es- say which can be found in its complete form in the Aqsa Journal, Volume 12 (Issue 1). See www.aqsa.org.uk. Water is available from two main sources: surface and groundwater. The main • surface-water resource is the Jordan River, which only supplies Israel after confiscation from Palestinians. Groundwater resources- which is the most important source- is made up of the West• Bank aquifer (which has three basins: Western, Eastern and North-Eastern) and the Coastal aquifer (which supplies the Gaza Strip). According to the World Bank, Palestinians have access to only a fifth (20%) of the• ‘estimated potential’ of West Bank aquifer, with Israel withdrawing the rest. Israel also withdraws more than 50% its share as agreed under the Oslo Accords.• By regional standards Palestinians have among the lowest access to fresh water, • forcing Palestinian communities to engage in unlicensed drilling simply to obtain drinking water. Overall, Palestinians spend around eight percent of household expenditure on water,• which is twice the globally-accepted standard. The poorest Palestinian families spend up to one-sixth of their household budget • providing clean water for their family. Palestinian per capita water budget for agriculture is one-fifth that of Israel, even though• Palestinian agriculture accounts for a bigger share of economic output and overall employment. The cost to the economy of foregone opportunity in irrigated agriculture due to limited• water supplies is significant. The World Bank estimated that it could be as high as 10 percent of GDP and 110,000 jobs. Testimony 1: “Water is life; without water we can’t live; not us, not the animals, or the plants. Before we had some water, but after the army destroyed everything we have to bring water from far away; it’s very difficult and expensive. They make our life very difficult, to make us leave. The soldiers first destroyed our homes and the shelters with our flocks, uprooted all our trees, and then they wrecked our water cisterns. These were old water cisterns, from the time of our ancestors. Isn’t this a crime? Water is precious. We struggle every day because we don’t have water.” Fatima al-Nawajah, a resident of Susya, a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills• Amnesty International Report, Troubled Waters: Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water, October 2009.• Testimony 2: “The deterioration and breakdown of water and sanitation facilitates in Gaza is compounding an already severe and protracted denial of human dignity in the Gaza Strip. At the heart of this crisis is a steep decline in standards of living for the people of Gaza, characterised by erosion of livelihoods, destruction and degradation of basic infrastructure, and a marked downturn in the delivery and quality of vital services in health, water and sanitation.” Maxwell Gaylard, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 3 September 2009• Testimony 3: “They try to force us out of the area by all means, taking our land is one way and limiting our access to water is another way.” Hafez Hereni, a community activist from Tuwani, in the Southern Hebron Hills, West Bank• Amnesty International Report, Troubled Waters: Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water, October 2009.• Facts and Figures AQSA NEWS 13
  • Adie Mormech is a cam- paigner for Palestinian rights and helped organise various events in Manchester during the week of action against supermarkets selling Israeli products. Adie was also cap- tured and imprisoned by Isra- el for six days when he tried to break the siege in Gaza on board the boat ‘Spirit of Hu- manity’. Here, he answers some questions about the role of the boycott, divestment and sanction movement in the struggle for a free Palestine. Q: Why is it important for us to boycott Israeli products? Israel has had a monopo- ly in the region that we need to challenge, to make them think and realise that the rest of the world community is not going to stand for this. This has gone on for sixty years and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has gone on for forty years so it really is time for mobilisa- tion. So many corporations and institutions, such as Tes- co are selling produce like herbs from the illegal West Bank settlements. They need to be held to account. We need to detach our- selves from people who are investing in Israel, who are also supplying goods from Israel particularly those from the West Bank illegal Settle- ments. Whilst the US con- tinues to supply billions of dollars of aid to Israel and the EU is making more trade links, Israel is committing more crimes against human- ity. We can make a stand as we did for South Africa. Q: Is the boycott able to change anything for the Pal- estinians? The boycott is having an effect, just as it had an effect in South Africa and Israeli farmers are saying that it is impacting on them and they are worried. These calls for boycott, divestment and sanc- tions are coming from Pales- tinians, the trade unions and grassroots movements. The Palestinians were the ones recommending the boycotts and we should respond in solidarity with the oppressed people. The Palestinians have contacted all these organisa- tions around the world to say “Look, we are still under oc- cupation, what has happened so far is not enough. We have tried avenues like putting pressure on the government and international institutions; pressure through lobbying and writing articles, leaflet- ing. It’s not enough. We have to take it a step further. We are still under occupation and there are Israeli soldiers eve- rywhere.” Boycott is a response to that. Also seeing the Israeli response, with ordinary Is- raelis now questioning them- selves about the occupation lends it value. Q:What kind of response has the boycott calls received? It feels that since the Gaza bombings, the violence that many people saw through the news and TV, has made people’s reaction different. I really do believe that there is much more mainstream consensus now that Palestin- ians are the main victims in the conflict. The more you know about the history, the expanding settlements, the house demolitions and who is occupying who, the harder it is to ignore the fact that the Palestinians are the ones who are being totally oppressed. Q: How should we respond if the reaction is hostile? Remember the people who were lynched during the civil rights movement for trying to stand up for their rights. Look at the Palestin- ians who are demonstrating who often get shot at or ar- rested for peaceful demon- strations. Look at the South African Apartheid and how Nelson Mandela was one of the world’s most notorious terrorists according to Mar- garet Thatcher until the very end of apartheid. Just remember who is be- ing oppressed and then you will know that even if you are being confronted, we are doing our duty. Palestinian refugees are the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine who were dispos- sessed or expelled when the state of Israel was formed in 1948 and also during the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbours. It is estimated that around half of all Palestinian villages were destroyed in 1948 with numerous cities such as Hai- fa, Akka and Yaffa cleared of their Arab, Palestinian in- habitants. During the Nakba of 1948, Israeli forces killed approximately 13,000 Pales- tinians and forcibly evicted 737,166 Palestinians (around 75% of the Arab population of Palestine). Since the formation of Israel, Palestinians have been refused the right to return to their villages, homes and country. This is in violation of International law which stipulates that refugees have the right to return to their homes of origin and receive compensation of losses and damages. Today, Palestinians are the largest and longest suffer- ing group of refugees in the world with around 6.5 million Palestinian refugees world- wide. One in three refugees worldwide is Palestinian. Source: Al-awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition. By Yvonne Ridley 26 December 2009 The activities of the rent boys who parade up and down Al-Shawarby Street in Cairo provide a good meta- phor for the relationship the Egyptian Government has with Israel and the US. Both are quite shameless and ruthless; prepared to do whatever it takes to please ... in order to secure a fistful of dollars. But at least the man whores of Al Shawarby are honest about their trade as they eagerly hustle potential customers. Yes, they are shameless but so is the Egyptian Gov- ernment as it continues to enforce the brutal siege in Gaza for Israel’s pleasure and America’s dollars. The tears it sheds for the besieged peo- ple of Gaza are crocodilian. And today the govern- ment stands before its people completely naked, without honour as the last fig leaf of decency floats despairingly to the ground. I am making this rather crude analogy as I sit in my hotel room over-looking the River Nile. The view is breath-taking and just 50 yards away is the Egyptian Museum which reveals a rich history of a once great coun- try. The buildings around are decrepit, rundown like much of the country. But I haven’t sat down to give you a travel report. I am one of 1400 peace activists from across the world that are trapped in Cairo unable to move forward to take part in the Gaza Freedom March planned for New Year’s Day. Most of us answered the ral- lying call of the US peace ac- tivist group Code Pink. Meanwhile another shameful drama is unfolding just a few hundred miles away as life-long Palestinian sup- porter George Galloway sits trapped in the port of Aqaba as his latest Viva Palestina convoy has been stopped from moving forward. The British MP’s convoy of 250 vehicles and hundreds more supporters has been prevented from leaving Jor- dan with its much needed aid. Why? Because America and Israel have told Egypt not to let a single vehicle or peace activist pass through its country to the Rafah bor- der and in to Gaza where an entire population is suffering beyond belief and, it seems, beyond humanitarian relief. So why doesn’t Egypt tell Washington and Tel Aviv to get stuffed? For exactly the same reason a rent boy will do as his master tells him ... hard cash. Proof? Exactly two years ago under the Bush Ad- ministration, both houses of US Congress agreed to with- hold 100 million dollars in financial assistance to Egypt following Israeli claims that Egyptian authorities were failing to prevent weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip. And now the Middle East’s most active rent boy has a new master pimp, Barack Obama; although his White House enforcers have made sure the same house rules apply. Now while the Egyptian Government might bend over backwards, or just bend over, the real enforcers will find Viva Palestina and the Gaza Freedom Marchers far less compliant. We have travelled from more than 40 different countries to Cairo while oth- ers have driven thousands of miles to Aqaba to show our solidarity to the people of Gaza. We represent the larg- est gathering of international solidarity activists in the his- tory of the Middle East. Using the pretext of esca- lating tensions on the Gaza- Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks. Our message to the politicians is crystal clear: “Let us enter Gaza and let the Gaza Free- dom March proceed.” Quite simply, you cannot buy us. Integrity, freedom and our love for Gaza is not for sale at any price. Egyptian Security goons have already used fear and intimidation on the management of the venues the Gaza Freedom Marchers have booked, as well as transport companies who contracted buses to carry us from Cairo to Gaza, with the result that these deals have been cancelled. Egyptian Security even tried to pressurise the man- agement of the Groppi coffee shop on Midan Talaat Harb to shut down while we were organising meetings. Despite warning us that more than six people can not gather in public places our meeting continued. We will not bow to fear and intimidation but what we will do is increase the pres- sure on the Rent Boy Gov- ernment and where injustice is the law resistance is our duty. British journalist Yvonne Ridley is travelling with Indy film-maker Warren Biggs making a documentary about the Gaza Freedom March. AQSA NEWS 14 Why Boycott Matters Palestinian Refugees Facts and Figures Shame on Egypt for Preventing Gaza Freedom March
  • Academics Critical of Israel Face Witch-Hunt Right-wing watchdog groups have been accused of creating a climate of fear amongst scholars at Israeli universities who criticize the Israeli occupation or other Israeli policies. Watchdog groups such as IsraCam- pus and the Israel Academia Monitor have been inform- ing the universities’ external donors of what they describe as “subversive” professors to put pressure on them. Emulating the US aca- demic group Campus Watch, the campaign has also been likened to ‘McCarthyite’ tac- tics in the United States. Is- raCampus even placed a full- page ad in the official diary issued to students in Haifa. It read: “Warning! Academic Fifth Column!” Studentswerealsowarned of the allegedly subversive activities of professors and lecturers in Israeli universi- ties and colleges who, the ad alleges, “openly support ter- rorist attacks against Jews, initiate an international boy- cott of Israel, make use of their status in the classroom for anti-Israeli incitement and anti-Zionist brainwashing...” The open witch-hunt against any academic critical of Israeli policies was stepped up after Neve Gordon, at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times call- ing for a boycott of Israel. In it he wrote, “I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer...I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe...” The support of this Israeli academic, as well as the back- lash he faced, illustrates the real power and importance of the boycott movement. Friends of Al Aqsa have long supportedtheBDSmovement as well as the academic boy- cott of Israeli universities as a means to highlight the denial of Palestinian academic free- dom and to support Palestin- ian educational rights. The need to boycott Israel is real and pressing and anyone who fails to do so is essentially supporting the state of Israel and its oppression of the Pal- estinians. Sponsored WalkSponsored Walk 30th May 2010 Friends of Al Aqsa Chatsworth Hall The Peak District National Park, Derbyshire A 15 km Sponsored Walk(Estimated time to complete - 4 hours) Or An 8km Sponsored Walk for families(Estimated time to complete - 2 hours) To help raise funds for Friends of Al-Aqsa To register your interest contact us now E: info@aqsa.org.uk T: 0116 2125441 For more details please visit www.aqsa.org.uk REGISTRATION FORM Name:______________________________________________________________________________________________ Address:____________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________Postcode:_________________ Email Address (essential):_____________________________________Telephone Number:__________________Age:___ If under 18, please state the name of the accompanying adult:__________________________________________________ Please return this form to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, PO Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. Tel: 0116 212 5441 Alternatively, email these details to us at info@aqsa.org.uk and we will send out your pack Sponsored Walk Rules and Instructions: 1. Only registered participants can take part in the Fundraiser. 2. Please register as early as pos- sible. All participants must regis- ter by 1st May 2010. 3.All registered participants must raise a minimum of £100 in spon- sorship. 4. Sponsorship forms are avail- able from Friends of Al-Aqsa and will be sent out to all participants upon registration. 5. All sponsorship money must be sent to FoA no later than Fri- day 21 May 2010. We suggest that sponsorship money is collected at the time of pledge. 6. The walk will take an estimat- ed 4 hours to complete. Please ensure that you train adequately for this. (See guidelines on our web-site). A Shorter walk of 8km will also be available, taking an estimated 2 hours to complete. 7. For a list of suggested equip- ment/supplies, see the guidelines on our web-site. 8. Transporation may be provided from London, Bradford, Preston and Walsall for participants in the surrounding areas. A fee may be payable for the transport. 9. Participants under the age to 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Under 8’s are not eligible to participate. 10. All money raised will go to Friends of Al-Aqsa, in order to help us continue with our cam- paigns. Full instructions, rules and condi- tions can be found on our website www.aqsa.org.uk. Please refer to this before registering for the event. AQSA NEWS 15
  • Remembering Gaza One Year On... Every Gazan has a tale of profound grief to tell. There is rage against the attackers for often failing to distinguish between military targets and civilians and there is also resentment against the international community for having allowed first the siege and then the war to go on for so long. Yet, my interaction with Palestinians in Gaza has also evinced their fortitude, their determination to overcome the pain of loss and their belief in the possibilities of rebuilding their lives. I hope the international community will respond with urgency and resolve, to take advantage of the opportunities to generate recovery and renewal in Gaza. UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Abu-Zayd Addressing the UN Security Council in New York on 27 January 2009 The first Commissioner-General to be given the privilege “ “ Interpal responded to the crisis within 24 hours of the first attack on 27 December 2008, has been there ever since and will continue to provide aid for the besieged people of Gaza as long as it is needed. We are working to provide financial assistance, shelter, food, medical supplies and equipment as well as what is needed to help rebuild and re-equip mosques, schools and institutions of higher learning. Join us in this noble effort today. Ring Our Donation Hotline 020-8961 9993 or Visit Our Website www.interpal.org to Make a Difference Interpal is the working name of the Palestinians Relief & Development Fund Registered UK Charity No: 1040094 Head Office: P O Box 53389, London, NW10 6WT Tel: 020-8961 9993 Fax: 020-8965 6065 Email: info@interpal.org Birmingham Branch: Unit 5, The Bordesley Centre, Stratford Road, Camp Hill, Birmingham, B11 1AR Tel: 0121 772 7148 Mobile: 07980 142 509 or 07958 100 153 Bradford Branch: 922-924 Leeds Road, Bradford, BD3 8EZ Tel: 01274 656 985 Mobile: 07944 708 572 Manchester Branch: 284 Claremont Road, Mosside, Manchester, M14 4EP Tel: 0161-227-9922 Fax: 0161-227-9933 Mobile: 07958 100 143 AQSA NEWS Visit our website: www.aqsa.org.uk Action Alert Contact your MP today and ask them to support Freedom for Palestinians. End the siege on Gaza• Bring suspected Is-• raeli War criminals to justice Be fair and impartial• in dealing with both sides Everyday across the West Bank, raw untreated sewage pumped out of Israeli settle- ments is being dumped on Palestinian land. The Pales- tinian town of Salfit has for years been dealing with waste water produced from the Ariel settlement which flows down into their land where it can poison water reserves and contaminate agricultural crops. As waste-water treatment systems in the West Bank, in- cluding the illegal settlement, are underdeveloped, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem estimates that 91 million cu- bic meters of waste water flows freely every year. The Israeli human rights organisa- tion also found that although the situation is well known to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, it has failed to en- force the law against polluting in the settlements. Thus, these settlements continue to allow raw sewage to be pumped out towards Palestinian populated areas with no accountability. Settlement Polluting Palestinian Town On 08 December 2009, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East marked its sixtieth anni- versary. So, what has changed for Palestinians refugees? Well, it emerged that the or- ganisation was facing a fund- ing shortfall which risked the suspension of essential serv- ices before the year was out. It also raised concerns for refugees living under siege in Gaza as the blockade had “limited humanitarian access, restricted the import of virtu- ally all construction materials needed to re-build a shattered infrastructure, and had effec- tively shut down the Gazan private sector.” It also found that the number of refugees in Gaza classified as ‘abject poor’ had tripled in the last year, to 300,000 Palestinians. Clearly, the plight of Pal- estinian refugees remains an important issue so why not write in and tell us how you feel about the issue and the importance of the right of re- turn. Letters and emails will be printed in the next edition. Please send your emails to: info@aqsa.org.uk Readers Corner Cartoons by Latuff