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  1. 1. Feed the Fasting at Al-Aqsa Masjid for £4.00 0161 225 0225 AQSA NEWS QUARTERLY FREE WWW.AQSA.ORG.UK ISSUE 47 RAMADHAN 2011 Friends of Al-Aqsa newspaper since 1997 Shaykh Raed Salaah ar- rived in Britain on Saturday June 25th 2011 to begin a well publicised speak- ing tour. He was invited by the Middle East Monitor and was to address events across the country including two meetings in Parliament. On Tuesday June 28th, three days into his tour, he was ar- rested at his hotel in London on the orders of the Home Secretary Theresa May. The Home Office stated that an Exclusion Order had been issued against him and Shaykh Raed was not allowed to visit the UK because of allegations of Anti-Semitism against him made by one MP in Parlia- ment. Despite the existence of this Order, Shaykh Raed was not informed, and nor were any of the organisa- tions which were planning to host him during his visit. Further to this, a number of MPs who he was due to speak along-side were not informed either. The Exclusion Order was described as a fiasco by many, and it later emerged that the reason Shaykh Raed was not stopped at Border Control at Heathrow Airport was because the Or- der was mistakenly sent to Terminal 5 and he arrived at Terminal 1. Following his arrest, he was sent to a deporta- tion centre near Heathrow Airport. His lawyers con- tested the deportation and he was then moved to a prison near Bedford, and spent two weeks there. He was denied access to his lawyers for over three days while in prison. An initial bail hearing failed despite the Adjudicator agree- ing that the Home Office’s evidences were weak. An appeal hearing which took place a week later before Justice Stadlen at the High Court was successful and Continued on page 5. Shaykh Raed Salah Review The Night Journey Al-Isra’wa Al-Mi’raj Page 11 One World Interview Freedom for Palestine In memory of Vittorio Arrigoni Page 15 A historic handshake 2 Recipe 14 Page 19 Inside... Despite virtually no air-play on commercial ra- dio stations in Britain, the track ‘Freedom for Pales- tine’ reached the Top 10 in the Indie Charts. The track is fast becoming the an- them of the Free Palestine movement and comes in an acapella version with- out any Music. The song was produced by OneWorld and was a collaboration between a number of artists. They were ecstatic with the mainstream chart posi- tion, saying “We’ve broken the wall of silence on Pal- estine in the music indus- try by releasing the first ever mainstream single in solidarity with Palestine. From the muddy fields of Glastonbury to the occu- pied streets of Gaza we’ve inspired thousands of peo- ple around the world.” ‘Freedom for Palestine’ reaches Top 10 Check the label Boycott Israeli Dates • Page 9 Cameron dumps JNF ‘Flytilla’activists face Israelidetention Palestine a real adventure ● Palestinian freedom activist imprisoned in Britain ● Shame on the Home Office Page 4 Page 5 Page 11
  2. 2. INSIDE PALESTINE 02 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 A historic handshake The effects of the Arab Spring are visible across the Middle East. The month of May witnessed a landmark agreement between Hamas and Fatah, who have been bitterly divided for the last four years. Israel, which has until now, used the divided Pal- estinian leadership as a reason not to pursue peace talk agreements, now says it will not negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that includes Hamas. Israel ini- tially stopped the transfer of tax revenues to the Pales- tinian Authority, effectively stealing tax, but then agreed to release the funds a few days later. It was the Palestin- ian people that took to the streets urging their respec- tive leaderships to unify and put forward a strong Palestinian voice. The result was an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah. The deal calls for an interim govern- ment to run the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and to prepare for parlia- mentary and presidential elections within a year. This move is seen as a crucial step towards es- tablishing an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders which will be discussed at the UN General Assembly in September. University students in Gaza celebrated with rallies and songs. Ahmed Abu Arar who was present said: “We are celebrating the achieve- ment of this victory to end divisions and send a mes- sage to the Israeli occupa- tion that your threats will not deter us from achieving reconciliation.” Racing cars in Gaza Students at a UN run vo- cational college in Gaza have shown that they are deter- mined to succeed against theodds.Ninestudentshave spent four months building a racing car to enter into the annual ‘Formula Student’ competition for engineering students from all over the world. The competition is judged in the UK. Despite all their hard work,however,thecarmade in Gaza will not race in the UK as the team who built it have been denied visas by the British embassy in Am- man, as they lack a financial sponsor. Palestinian population Latest statistics show that the current population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has reached 4.2 million. There are a further 1.5 million in Israel, which takes the total popu- lation to nearly 5.7 million. This does not include refu- gees in other surrounding countries. There is a slightly lower number of Jewish Israel’s living in Israel re- flecting how the Palestinian population in Israel and the occupied territories now outnumbers the Jewish Is- raeli population. Banning Boycott Israel’s parliament has approved a Bill mak- ing it illegal for Israeli’s to boycott any part of the Israeli state or its set- tlements on illegally oc- cupied Palestinian land. Under the proposed law, those calling for boycott could be sued by busi- nesses who claim to have suffered damages due to its effect. Amnesty Inter- national has called this an attack on freedom of expression. The Bill was not popu- lar even in Israel, with the newspaper Haaretz stating in an editorial that it would “subvert Israeli democ- racy”. Boycott is viewed as a legitimate form of protest and was heavily utilised during South African Apartheid in order to send a powerful message to the South African government. A similar form of segrega- tion and oppression has occurred in Palestine and the boycott movement is therefore seen as not only legitimate, but necessary. Palestinian student killed A 21 year old Palestinian university student was shot dead by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank early in July. Ibrahim Sarhan was shot twice in the thigh and bled to death. The official Israeli statement claims Mr Sarhan was fleeing arrest.
  3. 3. INSIDE PALESTINE ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 03 Critical health conditions in Gaza The health condition of Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians has reached a critical point. The restrictive measures used to control the border have prevented essential medicines from entering Gaza. Official Israeli sources still claim that there is no siege in Gaza, whilst Gazan’s silently suffer its effects. Gaza’smedicalresources have depleted to critical lev- els. Severe shortages have meant that the availabil- ity of medical services have been drastically reduced. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the medical short- age endangers the lives of many innocent Palestinian civilians, and has meant that some patients have neared death. Anwar Nahid, who is 18, suffers diabetes. Medi- cal shortages have meant that he cannot be effectively treated for this common dis- ease, and as a result, doctors have warned Anwar of the high possibility of a stroke. An international inves- tigation was carried out in April 2011, in order to examine whether there was a dangerous medical shortage in Gaza. This was undertaken by two doctors who were sent by the Nor- wegian government. The doctors reported: “The Gaza Strip still has a persistent drug shortage, despite some recent Israeli and Egyptian talks about easing the strict blockade...”Theseconditions are worsened by the lack of adequate storage, transport and incineration facilities. In actual fact, the report was similar to the investigation conducted after the war in Gaza, in 2009. Devastat- ingly, not much has changed. No free passage to Gaza News of the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt signalled a more positive relationship between the neighbours which would contribute to efforts the ease the blockade. However, the reality on the ground is somewhat different. Many viewed the deci- sion to open the border as a move away from policies of the former Egyptian gov- ernment which restricted access to Gaza and was com- plicitwithIsraeliaggression. Despite the claimed open- ing of the border crossing, however, restrictions placed on Palestinians making the journey in or out of Gaza are in fact as tight as ever. Gazan’s are made to jump through many hoops and are examined based on age, gender and purpose of visit. They are also made to wait for several hours (for some, it may be several days), without being told what they are waiting for, or why they are not allowed to pass. Those who are sent back are escorted by unsympa- thetic officers, to the same open spot to be collected by the next bus. They are treated like criminals. Palestinians need a far better relationship with Egypt, based on respect and co-operation, especially since the Rafah crossing is the only Gaza crossing point that is not under direct Is- raeli control. Naziha Al-Sebakhi, a dis- tressed Palestinian at the Rafah border pleas, “I beg you to open the crossing… You brothers of Egypt have humiliated us for so long. Isn’t it time we had our dig- nity back?” Whilst the permanent opening of Rafah is a step forward, and will mean that food and medication will now be more readily available, it is essential that the Rafah border crossing is a free and open crossing where Gazans are treated with dignity and respect. Further to this, there are still items that Israel insists cannot be allowed into Gaza – such as cement. The lack of such construction mate- rials means that the homes and schools destroyed in the Israeli offensive two years ago are still lying as they were as piles of rubble. Nakba protests end in violence Several people were killed and scores wounded as Palestinians gathered to commemorate the Nakba of 1948. The Nakba refers to the mass exodus of Palestin- ians from their homeland during the war in which the State of Israel was formed. Around 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes and have not been allowed to return since. Palestin- ians gathered across the occupied territories – in Gaza, the Golan Heights, West Bank and Ras Maroun in Lebanon, but were faced with Israeli bullets. In Gaza, a group of Pal- estinians, including chil- dren were shot at by Israeli soldiers as they marched into what Israel terms a ‘buffer zone’, an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers gen- erally shoot anything that moves. One of the largest dem- onstrations was held near theQalandiyarefugeecamp in the West Bank where 100 protestors marched. Tear gas canisters were used against them result- ing in several injuries. Syrian state television reported similar incidents on the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Min- ister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that he instructed soldiers to act with re- straint. Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools Schools in East Jeru- salem are being forced to teach the Israeli curriculum. In March 2011, the Jerusa- lem municipality stated that public schools in East Jeru- salem will be obliged to use textbooks and class materi- als prepared and approved by the Jerusalem Education Authority – a joint body be- tween the Isreali Ministry of Education and the mu- nicipality. East Jerusalem is recognised internationally as occupied Palestinian ter- ritory. The move which is seen as ‘politically motivated’ has been opposed by Palestin- ian schools, and strikes are expected to occur in East Jerusalem to coincide with the new school year. “The real reason behind all this story of the curricu- lum is actually political,” Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau said. “They are actually pushing towards implementing the Israeli curriculum because this will politically mean that East Jerusalem is not an oc- cupied territory,” this will politically mean that East Jerusalem is not an occupied territory “ “
  4. 4. GLOBAL NEWS 04 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 OECD stops Lieberman speech The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) re- fusedtoallowIsraeliForeign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to deliver a speech on peace policy at the annual confer- ence, saying that it would be “inappropriate”. OECD offi- cials called upon Lieberman to address economic issues instead. However, he then decided not to speak at all. Cameron dumps JNF UK Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down as patron of the Jew- ish National Fund (JNF) in May. The JNF has been widely criticised for taking Palestinian land and plant- ing forests and parks in its place, and has recently been found to have torn down a Bedouin village as part of a forestation plan. The JNF however, claims to be a caretaker for the land and people of Israel. Several UK Prime Minis- ters have been JNF patrons, including Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Cameron’s decision to step down as patron now, means that none of the current party leaders are patrons. Downing Street has stated that the decision was simply a result of a review of the Prime Minis- ter’s charity connections. However, Sarah Colborne, Campaign Director of the Palestine Solidarity Cam- paign (PSC) stated that the move “..reflects the fact it is now impossible for any serious party leader to lend public support to racism.” Sofiah Macleod of the UK-based ‘Stop the JNF’ Campaign said that Mr. Cameronwithdrewsupport after a lot of campaigning. She states, “There has been a change in public opinion and awareness about Is- rael’s behaviour and there was specific pressure on [Cameron] to step down from the JNF. We believe he hassteppeddownasaresult of this political pressure. Given the establishment support that the JNF has received, it’s not a decision he will have taken lightly.” ‘Flytilla’ activists face Israeli detention Agroupofpeaceactivists flew to Ben Gurion airport in Israel during the first week of July, stating that Palestine was their destination, in a bid to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. They faced the harsh reality of Israeli detention as a result. Activists were separated from each other and taken on a six-hour bus drive to a prison. They were later given declaration forms to sign, which stated that they would not visit the Palestin- ian territories or take part in protests. Some were given deportation forms. The inspiration for the protest emanated from Palestinian voices within the occupied territories who told campaigners that whilst the rights of Pales- tinians are entirely disre- garded, the rights of visitors to Palestine are also abused as anyone wanting to visit Palestine must lie to border police about their destina- tion, or be sent back. Therefore the activists taking part in this cam- paign, dubbed the ‘flytilla’, who came predominantly from all over Europe, openly declared that they wished to visit the West Bank. Activ- ists from France and Swit- zerland were not allowed to board the flight after Israel created a blacklist of banned individuals. BBC tired of Complaints The head of News at the BBC has complained that ‘obsessive’ critics who complain about its coverage of the Middle East conflict are costing the corporation a lot of money. She was re- ferring to the 8 month long investigation that had to be launched when 1,500 peo- ple complained about the excessively biased reporting in Panorama’s ‘Death in the Med’.
  5. 5. GLOBAL NEWS ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 05 Agrexco feels the pinch Early in June, over 100 activists from nine coun- tries across Europe gath- ered in Montpellier, France for the first European Forum Against Agrexco as the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) continues to be stepped up. Agrexco is Israel’s larg- est agricultural exporter of fresh fruit and vegetables – grown on illegal settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli government have a 50% stake in the company and the company’s complicity in human rights violations against Palestinians has made it a key target for BDS campaigners. The meeting in France, which was attended by del- egates from Italy, Switzer- land, UK, Netherlands, Ger- many, Spain, Belgium and Palestine; is a hugely sig- nificant move, particularly since European markets are the largest consumers of Agrexco products, under the company name of Carmel. Following the meeting, a business report revealed that Agrexco was facing huge financial difficulties. In 2010, it faced an operat- ing loss of €25 million and a net loss of €33 million. Campaigners are convinced that the loss in business has been the result of the BDS campaign. UN discusses Palestinian state Over the past sev- eral months, a number of countries have indicated that they will recognise a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly this Sep- tember. Mahmoud Abbas has confirmed that the call to be recognised as a state along the 1967 borders, and thereafter being accepted as a member of the UN, will be presented at the Assembly. Whilst Israel has received the news with worry and criticism, the number of countries which now rec- ognise the Palestinian state stands at over 120. Britain, France, Norway, Portugal, Ireland, Denmark, Spain and Italy have all upgraded the status of delegations from the Palestinian territories, to that of diplomatic mis- sions and embassies – a po- sition usually only reserved for states. Whilst US President Obama has not flatly op- posed the move, the general lack of support from the US would not necessarily af- fect Palestinian statehood if recognition was accepted by 150 countries. The result would be that the relation- ship between Israel and Palestine would shift from one between a state and non-state actor, to being between two states. As a result, it is argued, Pales- tinians will have greater diplomatic clout to insist upon a relationship based on sovereign equality. However, many fear that the recognition of a Pales- tinian state may be a token gesture, whilst the situa- tion on the ground remains largely the same. Israeli war crimes suspect flees Israel’s former Defence Minister Amir Peretz earlier this year fled from the UK for fear of an ar- rest warrant being issued againsthim,forwarcrimes during the Lebanon War. Peretz was on a trip to New York and was advised not to travel to the UK. However, he continued to the UK but kept a low profile. He was pushed to leave a day early in order to avoid the embarrass- ment of a warrant being issued against him. The arrest warrant was issued the day after he left. It was reported that Peretz was warned of the warrant, giving him enough time to escape before its issue. News of his disappearance came shortly after the non-ap- pearance of Israeli General Danny Rothschild in Par- liament. It appears that Amir Peretz and Danny Roth- schild both fled Britain to avoid arrest warrants. This is in stark contrast to the case of Shaykh Raed Salah, who was arrested without any notice and held in prison. The double standards in the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian politicians are exemplified by the British government bucking to Israeli pressure to change law on univer- sal jurisdiction. If the law is amended, it will make it more difficult to bring those suspected of war crimes to justice. Freedom Flotilla II prevented One year after the first Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, activists from countries around the world joined hands once again to sail to Gaza in an effort to break the siege imposed on the tiny strip of land. Israel responded with acts of intimidation, sabo- tage, threats of violence, political pressure, smears against those taking part and pressure upon national governments to prevent the boats from their journey. The Irish Saoirse report- ed propeller damage whilst the boat was in a Mediter- ranean port. Activists called it a direct act of sabotage. As of 12th July, the US boat called ‘The Audacity of Hope’ had been imprisoned at the US Embassy/Greek Coast Guard dock just out- side Athens after being in- tercepted on the 1st July. A number of other boats were, at the time of writing, also being held in Greece, including a Canadian boat called ‘Tahrir’, which had on board a large group from Australia. Greece has since been overwhelmed with criticism for buckling under the weight of Israeli pressure to hold ships in its ports, and prevent them from their journey to Gaza. continued from front page Shaykh Raed Salah was released on bail pending a Judicial Review on his de- portation. He will be staying with supporters in London until the matter is resolved. Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa, one of the organisations which hosted Shaykh Raed, was deeply concerned about the Home Office’s actions. He stated: “The most worrying issue here is that our Home Office is willing to accept hear-say evidence as the basis for excluding some- one from Britain. Where is the real evidence against Shaykh Raed? He has never been convicted of anti- Semitism in Israel, although many would seek to charge him with it simply because he champions the Palestin- ian cause for freedom from occupation. He is a hero in Palestine on so many fronts, and it is shameful how our government has treated him.” In the same week that Shaykh Raed was arrested, former Israeli Major Gen- eral Rothschild who stands accused of war crimes, was allowed to speak in Britain. The difference in treatment between the two men was palpable and many have accused the British gov- ernment of overt double standards.
  6. 6. SPECIAL FEATURE 06 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 Shaykh Raed Salah By Firdous Patel Shaykh Raed Salah was born in the town of Umm al Fahm in 1958 and was a well known poet before becoming involved with the Islamic Movement. In 1989, the party decided to partici- pate in municipal elections for the first time. Shaykh Raed was elected mayor of Umm al-Fahm that year, and was re-elected to the position twice more in 1993 and 1997 before deciding to step down in 2001 to spend more time in defence of the Palestinian cause. His focal pointsforcampaigningwere Jerusalem, threats against Palestinian residents and Muslim and Christians holy sites. Shaykh Raed is now the Head of the Islamic Move- ment which exists within Israel and consists of Pales- tinian Arab-Israelis whose families lived in the area since before the state of Is- rael was formed. The Islamic Movement is the most popular Pales- tinian political force within Israel. It operates at three levels: religious, social and national and does not con- test elections. Shaykh Raed has trav- elled widely throughout historic Palestine, playing a major role in preserving the Islamic and Christian herit- age in Jerusalem, which is slowly being eradicated by Israeli policies in the city. ShaykhRaedhasalsospoken internationally about the Palestinian cause, including in European countries. As a result of his peace- ful efforts, he has become known as the Gandhi of Palestine. It is no secret within Israel that the political leadership consider Shaykh Raed to be a threat to their vision of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In 2002, the Israeli Interior Ministry issued an order barring Shaykh Raed from travelling abroad. The Israeli Supreme Court of Justice ignored his appeal and upheld the order. This was a clear move by Israel to prevent the Palestinian voice from being heard on the world stage. He continued to persevere despite the constraints. In 2003, Shaykh Raed was imprisoned for two years on charges that he had helped fund Hamas-related activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. This period of imprisonment is cited by pro-Israelis as reflecting his support for terrorist organisations, despite the fact thathe denied funding any military activities. Shaykh Raed was among the first to launch mass cam- paigns against Israeli poli- cies within Jerusalem, relat- ing to Islamic and Christian religious sites; most notably against the destruction of tombsandencroachmenton the historic Ma`man Allah cemetery. He was arrested in 2007 and prohibited from coming within 150 metres of Jerusalem’s Old City af- ter he and four other men allegedly scuffled with an Israeli police officer. Shaykh Raed had been protesting against threats to the sacred al-Aqsa mosque. Some have argued that Shaykh Raed’s prohibition was due to the fact that he exposed a series of Israeli plans for the im- plementation of wide-rang- ing architectural projects around Al-Aqsa Mosque and the construction of complex tunnels under Islamic and Christian holy sites and the historic city walls. Shaykh Raed was arrest- ed again in 2007 on charges of ‘incitement’ after he led a group of peaceful protest- ers through the Wadi al-Joz neighbourhood in East Je- rusalem in protest. The Je- rusalem Magistrate’s Court acquitted Shaykh Raed of all charges related to that incident thwarting Israeli political efforts to impede peaceful protests by Pales- tinians. Further attempts have been made to outlaw the Islamic Movement for in- citement but these have al- ways failed in Israel’s High Court, as they are inevitably exposed for being nothing more than an attempt to re- strict the Palestinian voice and struggle for freedom. Jewish supporters of Shaykh Raed turn out to protest his arrest and deportation in London The recent arrest and detention of prominent Arab-Israeli political leader Shaykh Raed Salah has angered millions of people around the world. Many are concerned about his fate, while a few applaud his arrest. But who is Shaykh Raed Salah? Early Life The Islamic Movement in Palestine Israeli Restrictions Defending Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa
  7. 7. SPECIAL FEATURE ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 07 Shaykh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, escorted by Israeli police to a court in Jerusalem Shaykh Raed has been physically attacked by Israeli troops on numerous occasions. His survival has been nothing less than miraculous, and Palestinians within Israel and the Occupied Territories have been enormously inspired by his courage and sacrifice. He was attacked by Israeli soldiers in 1997 when he tried to protect children at the Umm Al-Fahm Secondary School which was occupied for 3 days by soldiers. 600 children were injured during the Israeli occupation of the school and Shaykh Raed was beaten so badly that he needed hospital care. In 2000, during a demonstration against the occupation, Israeli troops approached Shaykh Raed and shot him in the head in what was considered by observers to be an assassination attempt. Despite the life threatening injury, he survived. In May 2010, Shaykh Raed participated in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza during which nine peace activists were killed by Israeli soldiers. He was wounded during the assault, and there were reports that he had been assassinated. During a hearing shortly before his release at the Ashkelon Magistrates’ Court, Shaykh Raed stated, “The [Israeli] soldiers tried to kill me. They shot in the direction of someone they thought was me.” One of those killed on board the aid ship did in fact bear a striking resemblance to him – 61 year old Ibrahim Bilgen. He was sentenced to five days of house arrest, and was forbidden from leaving Israel for 45 days after the flotilla. Shaykh Raed Salah in Britain, June-July 2011 Physical Assaults and Gun Shot Wounds Shaykh Raed received an invitation to participate in a speaking tour in Brit- ain during June 2011. He accepted the invitation and numerous organisations publicised his impending visit.HearrivedatHeathrow Airport in London on June 25th and passed through border control without any issue. As he holds an Israeli passport, he did not require a visa beforehand. He began his speaking tour in London and also visited Leicester. One of the meetings he spoke at was held in the House of Commons. On the night of Tuesday 28th June, he was arrested at his hotel in Lon- don at approximately 11pm on the grounds that an Ex- clusion Order had been is- sued against him by the British Home Office. Shay- kh Raed was never made aware of any such order and nor were any of the organi- sations which had invited him. The Home Office de- clared that an investigation would take place into how Shaykh Raed had managed to enter the country, de- spite the Exclusion Order. Some elements of the media vilified Shaykh Raed and at- tributed statements to him which he had never made. Some insinuated that he had illegally entered Britain. Those advocating free- dom in Palestine have been clear about the apparent hypocrisy seen emanating from the British govern- ment. As Dr. Hanan Chehata reported in the New States- man, “The double standards operating here are chilling. While the government is doing it’s utmost to change the British laws on Univer- sal Jurisdiction to make it easier for suspected Israeli war criminals to visit the UK without the fear of ar- rest warrants being issued against them, at the same time they are happy to ar- rest Palestinian leaders who have committed no [actual] crime…” Shaykh Raed has spoken in Germany, France and Ire- land in the past, without in- cident. He has also been in the UK on at least four pre- vious occasions. The most poignant issue to note is that Shaykh Raed Salah has never been charged with in- citement or anti-Semitism in Israel itself. Despite the fact that accusations of anti- Semitism against him in the British press were based on fabricated sources, the Home Office still issued an Exclusion Order. The real question about the episode is this: If Shaykh Raed Salah is free to speak openly in Israel, on what grounds can the British government restrict his free speech here?
  8. 8. UPDATE FROM FRIENDS OF AL AQSA 08 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 The Arab Spring signi- fied a huge change in the dynamics of the Middle East. One of the immedi- ate victories seemed to be the re-opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. However, the number of Palestinians allowed to pass across the border is still woefully inadequate, sometimes only a dozen a day. The procedure is still long and tiresome. I witnessed this myself in June when I managed to visit Gaza through the Rafah crossing. It was a personal desire fulfilled for me – my first visit in 13 years. Israel will not allow me to pass across any bor- der into Palestine which they control, so visiting the West Bank again is still a dream. The welcome we received in Gaza was tre- mendous in its warmth and affection. Many people speak about the spirit of the Palestinians, and this is something hard to put into words. Despite the years of conflict and suffering, the people of Gaza exhibit courage and strength that is indescribable. Despite the abject poverty faced by so many, they still struggle on with determination. For everyone who has supported the work of Friends of Al-Aqsa, the people in Gaza send their deepest gratitude. While we pray for them, they also pray for us - a reflection of theirgenerosity.Myvisitto the tiny besieged enclave renewed my determina- tion to continue with this noble cause. I hope and pray that you will continue to support it too. Ismail Patel Your Lord is He who makes ships go smoothly through the sea, so that you may go about in quest of His bounty. He is indeed Most Merciful to you. >> Volunteer of the month << Friends of Al-Aqsa only achieves success through the grace of God and the hard work of our volunteers. There are many volunteers who’s courage and dedication knows no bounds. We have introduced a volunteer of the month award to recognize these valued contributions. Sahema Bapu, Preston Sahema approached FOA with an innovative idea. She wanted to produce a recipe book which would be sold to raise money for FOA and our campaigns. Thus, ‘Baking Aid for Palestine’ was born! Sahema got the entire project off the ground herself, and secured the voluntary contribution of typesetters, proof- readers, and printers amongst others. The end product was a hugely popular recipe book which sold out within months. More have now been printed to meet demand. Sahema helped raise thousands of pounds for FOA from this initiative and truly deserves the ‘Volunteer of the month’ title. Baking Aid for Palestine can be purchased online from the FOA shop at FOA Glasgow are going strong and have organised a series of events over the past three months. Ummah in crisis...The way forward On 7th May 2011, Shaykh Zahir Mahmood from the UK and Shaykh Ebrahim Bham from South Africa addressed a crowded hall at the Madrassa Taleem ul Islam in Glasgow’s Pol- lokshields. Shakyh Zahir focused on the phenomenal characters from Islamic his- tory, Salah ad’Din Ayubi (r.a) and Nur ad’Din Zhengi, and reminded everyone of their level of piety. Salah ad’Din for example, never missed a congregational prayer. Shaykh Ebrahim Bham spoke about the importance of dua and remembering those less fortunate than ourselves in our prayers. FOA Glasgow extends a spe- cial thanks to the volunteers and the Madrassa for host- ing such a successful and well attended event. ► Branches Update GLASGOW BRADFORD The FOA team in Brad- ford launched a real grass roots campaign once again this year. Following on from the success of the Check the Label campaign in 2010, they started a leaflet drop to raise awareness about buying cheap dates from Is- rael during Ramadan, which originate from illegal settle- ments on stolen Palestinian land. The leaflet drop will tar- get 10,000 homes in Brad- ford to raise awareness. There are many alterna- tives to buying Israeli dates, including those genuinely sourced from Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. In 2010, the campaign with consumers led to shops changing the types of dates that they stocked and as a result, the wholesalers were also made aware. FOA Walsall intro- duces Aqsa United FC! FOA Walsall set up its very own football team to promote BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanc- tions) through football. One of the main ideas is to highlight the policies of the occupation through sport, especially in light of the number of restrictions Palestinian sportsmen and women face. The team consists of 28 players from multi faith, multi cultural back- grounds who share a love for football and for peace in Palestine. They have set an exceptional standard of behaviour and sports- manship on the field, to promote the cause. Thus far, Aqsa United have won one tournament and have been runners up in another. They also won 3 games out of 4 in a 7 a-side league tournament. These victories pay tribute to the players’ determination and commitment to a rig- orous training programme developed by semi pro footballer Richard Clarke, Alex Clarke and fitness guru Hamilton Nandu, every Sunday afternoon! Aqsa United thanks its supporters & sponsors for helping this project move forward. For further details, visit or call Jav- id Yonus on 07876 742 251. You can also follow Aqsa United FC on facebook. WALSALL LONDON FOA London have been busy on numerous cam- paigns over the past three months, such as the Check the Label – Boycott Is- raeli Dates campaign 2011 launched in central London. The boycott Israeli dates campaign has been hugely successful across the coun- try in previous years, and this year, more shops, busi- nesses and mosques are be- ing targeted to raise aware- ness than ever before. Thousands of leaflets havegoneoutinthepostand by hand and the response has been tremendous. Is- raeli export companies are feeling the pinch too, with a reported drop in sales. To join FOA London and sup- port this campaign – contact Arif on Volunteers needed urgently to help distribute leaflets. In May, the ladies from FOA Glasgow held their first fundraising bazaar. A va- riety of stalls and activities both indoors and outdoors, attracted crowds of peo- ple. Local businesses and members of the community pooled together to donate food and other items for the bazaar. The event was a lot of fun, and also an opportunity to focus on the more serious issue of Palestine and the occupation. A massive profit of £1,340 was raised. FOA Glasgow extends its thanks to everyone who contributed to the event and attended, and prays for its continued success. Meena Bazar Real fun to raise funds!
  9. 9. UPDATE FROM FRIENDS OF AL AQSA ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 09 Check the Label - Boycott Israeli Dates Join today! For just £10 a year, support the Free Palestine campaign. Send an email to and we will send you a direct debit form to set up your membership. Donate You can make one-off donations: 1. Online - through Paypal to (via our web-site) 2. By cheque, made payable to ‘Friends of Al-Aqsa’, to PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 0DT 3. By direct bank transfer: Friends of Al-Aqsa, Sort Code 08-92-99, Account No. 65158078, The Cooperative Bank, Southway, WN8 6VT Sponsored Walk 2011 On Sunday 29th May, FOA held its most success- ful sponsored walk to date. Approximately 300 people attended the day out in the Peak District, raising over £35,000 in the process. The lead organiser for the event, Zubeda Gangat commented: “The most remarkable thing about this year’s walk was the spectrum of people who have joined us! We had a number of families with toddlers who climbed up and down the hills. We also had a mini-bus full of eld- erly women who had driven for over 2 hours to get here! It is incredible how strongly people feel about the issue of Palestine and how much they are willing to do, to help raise awareness about the situation.” Book Review The Prophets in Palestine is a series of books aimed at pro- viding children with a better understanding of the impor- tance of Jerusalem and Masjid Al Aqsa in Islam. The series focuses on several of the Prophets who lived in Palestine and felt a deep connection to the blessed land. The stories are a great reminder of Islamic heritage in Pal- estine, and address the topic in a fun and engaging manner. The series of books have been produced by Friends of Al-Aqsa, and include: Prophet Ibrahim (as) Prophet Musa (as) Prophet Dawud and Prophet Sulayman (as) Prophet Yusuf (as) Prophet Isa (as) Prophet Muhammad (saw) Suitable for children from the age of 5+. £4.99. Purchase online at The Prophets in Palestine series FOAONLINESHOP VISITTHE CLICK‘SHOP’ £10£10 This Eid give someone a gift they will remember Eid Gift Ideas Every year, Israel produces huge amounts of Medjoul dates. By buying these dates, individuals are supporting the oppression of Palestinians without realising… Israel is feeling the effects of the boycott and now uses confusing packaging to disguise its dates. As a result, some people are mistaking Israeli dates for Palestinian ones. Don’t fall into this trap – check the label for ‘Country of Origin’ or ‘Produce of…’ to make sure that you don’t buy dates from Israel, West Bank or Jordan Valley. Also avoid the following Israeli date brands, even if the boxes have Arabic writing on them: Check the label. Boycott Israeli dates. For more information, please visit:
  10. 10. 10 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 Human Appeal International has been working in Palestine since 1996. We base our Palestinian operations from Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. This allows us to provide aid from UK donations directly to the needy of Palestine. The situation means that life in Palestine is heavily dependant on international aid. It is estimated that over half the population depend on humanitarian aid. Our Palestinian operations work day and night to provide for the most needy in this desperate situation. Long term support is the only way to help the people of Palestine today and to make sure they are in a position to help themselves tomorrow. The Noor-Al-Ain school in Jerusalem is a school for the blind and much more. Aside from providing a place of education and development for those with poor or no vision. Noor-Al- Ain provides advice and expertise to universities and employers to make their institutions fully accessible to those who are blind or suffer from low quality vision. The school also campaigns and works to remove the stigma attached in society that blind people cannot live full and varied lives. Human Appeal International aims to raise £98,000 to help to renovate Noor-Al-Ain’s facilities and to allow the school to continue to work with those less fortunate than us. Your donations will help to modernise the school, to increase the number of children who are able to study at Noor-Al-Ain and to allow the school to continue to fight for the rights of the blind in the wider society. Help us help Noor-Al-Ain today! Established 1991 Charity Reg 1005733 School for Blind children in Al-Quds (Jerusalam) Sponsor a classroom (15 kids) £5,000 Sponsor a Braille Machine £1,000 Sponsor a teacher £500 Sponsor a student £100 To donate call or go online 0161 225 0225
  11. 11. TRAVEL TO PALESTINE ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 11 Book Review | The Night Journey | Al-Isra’ wa Al-Mi’raj By Ismail Adam Patel, Al-Aqsa Publishers 2011, ISBN 0-9536530-6-4, pp 108, RRP £7.95 The Night Journey was an incredible event that oc- curred during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), in which he travelled from Makkah to Jerusalem, and thereafter ascended through the seven heavens to Almighty Allah (swt). It was one of the most re- markable events in the his- tory of humanity and at the same time, an event that has caused many critics to chal- lenge Islam. This book takes the reader through this extraor- dinary journey, beginning with the life of Prophet (peace be upon him) in Makkah, and travelling through the events in a de- tailed chronological order. The book is a great read for those seeking to understand more about this momentous event in the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and details the link between him and numerous other proph- ets who prayed together in Masjid al Aqsa. The herit- age of Islam in the blessed land of Palestine is often forgotten and overlooked; however, this book is key in ensuring that this heritage is not forgotten. The book can be pur- chased via the FOA online shop at Our new ‘Travel to Palestine’ column is for those dreaming of travelling to the Holy Land to provide inspiration to make that dream a reality. Our first traveller is Azra Jamal, a university student in Leicester who decided to visit Beit Kahel in Hebron in June/July 2011. When did you decide that you wanted to visit Palestine? It was around exam time when a friend and I would go to the library to revise, and end up looking for ways that we could get to Palestine! A few days later, we found out about an activist in Coventry who was arranging a trip and was happy to take others along. We spoke to her and on the same day booked our flights to Jordan! How did you feel before leaving? We were very excited about getting there, that after booking our flights, we felt like the days were dragging! What was your experience like travelling to Palestine? We travelled through Jordan and were kept at the border for five hours. The border officials try to do everything they can to put you off and get you to go back home. They would check our passports, and ask us a few questions now and then, but it was mainly just hanging around. It was a long wait but we used the time to pray and speak to other people who were there. We saw quite a few Palestinians go through before us, and that was something so great to see, because we had already heard so much about the difficulties they face getting in and out of Palestine. My friend pointed out a Palestinian boy who was wearing a t-shirt that had the words “Never give up” written across it. It was such an inspiration to see, because it made me think that this is his struggle everyday – but for me, it’s just one day. What advice would you give to anyone who is feeling a little nervous about facing Israeli soldiers at the borders/checkpoints? I would say not to let that put you off going to the Holy Land. If your intention is to get there, Allah (swt) will make it happen and He’ll make the road clear for you. Even if you have to wait around, or face some difficulty, the struggle is worth it. Really our struggle is nothing compared to theirs! We stood with a man in Hebron and where we were standing, could see the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock. He said to us, “We live here and we can’t go to the mosque, but you’re so lucky that you can.” It’s really so easy for us as British passport holders to go over to Palestine, but we’re afraid to take that step because we’re worried about giving up our comforts. Is there anyone you met whilst over there, that stood out in particular? When we were travelling to Masjid al Aqsa, we met a lady on the bus called Sara. She was 80 years old and because of knee problems, her children were pleading with her not to make the tiring journey to Masjid al Aqsa, but she went anyway. When she saw us, she immediately gave us the most amazing smile and began to cry. We spoke to her and she told us that she was just so happy that young Muslims care and are travelling to visit Palestine. Why do you think it’s important to visit, and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about making the trip? We have a lot of heritage in Palestine. Being in Hebron was so enlightening, because it meant that I got to visit and learn about the Ibrahimi Mosque. One jumu’ah, when we visited Masjid Al Aqsa, there was something going on and Israeli soldiers were everywhere. Restrictions were in place so young men between 18 and 25 were not allowed in and had to pray jumu’ah outside the sanctuary, with armed Israeli guards standing over them with guns. This area is blessed and so important to us, and we need to get more Muslims going out there. Any last words? So much to say, I could go on! It was such an amazing experience and I would recommend that everyone make the trip. And if as a parent, you’re feeling a little unsure about your child going, make it a family trip! It really is a spiritual journey as much as it is a journey that shapes you as a person. If you have recently returned from Palestine and would like to share your story, please contact us at Travelling to Palestine can be a real adventure... Name: Azra Jamal Occupation: University Student My trip in a few words: An unforgettable journey to the land of the Prophets Support Friends of Al-Aqsa this Ramadhan! Join us on our Radio Ramadhan Pledge Day: 21st August 2011 12 noon - 8 pm Radio Frequency 87.7 FM Or listen live at
  12. 12. FUN AND GAMES 12 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 Sara and Ahmed’s dad was very upset so he said, “This is not fair – we are not going to move.” But they had no choice. Soon, it was them working for the Israeli settler family on the land which used to be their own, for very little wages. This Ramadan, we all need to make sure that this doesn’t happen to other families. Make sure you don’t buy dates that are grown in the West Bank, Jordan Valley or Golan Heights, because these are the places where land is being stolen from families, just like Sara and Ahmed’s. Make sure your dates say 'Produce of Palestine' andyour dates say 'Produce of Palestine' and you will be supporting Palestinian farmers. Israeli Settlers Taking Over Date Farms. Sara and Ahmed are brother and sister. Their parents own a date farm in the West Bank. Just last year, an Israeli settler family moved close by and when they arrived, soldiers came with them, telling Sara, Ahmed and their whole family to move off the land. By Ghazala Caratella COMPETITION WIN!£20ARGOSVOUCHER! Sendyouranswerswithyourname,ageandaddressto:FriendsofAlAqsa,P.OBox 5127,Leicester,, pleaseput‘Competition’asthesubjectheading.Deadline:31st August‘11.GoodLuck! WORDSEARCH 12 years old or under? BOYCOTT ISRAEL APARTHEID SOLIDARITY SUFFERRING OLIVE DATES GAZA FREEDOM PALESTINE JUSTICE Have a go at this awesome word search! Colour in the boxes to find the words listed below. See if you can guess the picture before you finish the search. Have fun! This story can be found in the Quran in Surah 27, verses 17-19. Have you discovered the picture yet? It is: _____________ “…Sulayman (A.S) was a Prophet who was born and raised in Jerusalem in Palestine. He was the son of the Prophet Da’wud (A.S) and just like his father, Sulayman A.S was a great Prophet loved by Allah (swt). Sulayman (A.S) was once marching through a valley with his magnificent army of Jinn, men and birds, who were all in their battle order. The army came to the valley which hap- pened to be the home of ants. Seeing this great army, one ant said to all the other ants‘hide in your homes, before Sulayman A.S and his army crush you under their feet!’ Sulayman (A.S) smiled to himself because Allah (swt) had given him the ability to understand the speech of all animals and so he heard what the ant said. On hearing this the Prophet thanked Allah (swt) for all the special gifts he had been given.
  13. 13. FUN AND GAMES ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 13 COMPETITION(Open to everyone aged 18 or under) Do you have a creative flare? Are your rhymes unstoppable? Is poetry your kind of thing? Well why not put them to use and enter this competition? Unleash your talents and send in your poems! Only one thing to bear in mind….Make sure your poem is based on children in Palestine. You can make it any style of poetry. Send in your entry with your name, address, contact number and age! And if your poem is judged to be the best one, it will feature in the next issue of the Al-Aqsa news! AND you will win a £20 Argos Voucher!!! GET CREATIVE! A few words can mean a billion things… BOYCOTT | THE WHATS & WHYS! Lately, we hear the word‘boycott’a lot more, thanks to the growing awareness of the situation faced by Palestinians under occupation. One way for individuals like you and I to help bring an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, is by consumer boycott. First things first…. “To withdraw from commercial or social interaction with (a group, nation, person, etc.) as a protest or punishment; to refuse to handle or buy (goods), or refuse to participate in (an event, meeting, etc.), as a protest.” So in the case of boycotting Israel, it is the act of refusing to interact with Israel. Makes sense? So we steer clear of purchasing produce from Israel, illegal West Bank and Jordan Valley Settlements. Moving on to… WHY BOYCOTT? WHAT IS BOYCOTT? If consumers refuse to purchase produce from a place, like from Israel, then the economy of Israel will be under pressure. If the pressure faced by the Israeli economy is great enough, it will bring an end to their occupation of Palestinian land. Boycott of Israel also helps to promote the recognition of the basic and fundamental rights of the Palestinians and Palestinian refugees, which are being abused. Boycott is an ideal way to protest as it is a peaceful way to support justice for Palestinians. With boycott, everyone can do something! Produce from the West Bank and Jordan Valley come from illegal Israeli Settlements built on land stolen from Palestinians. by buying produce from there, you will be supporting the illegal settlements financially. SO....let’s talk details, BOYCOTT WHAT? Pay attention whilst shopping! At the supermarket, ensure you check the label of the produce you buy! It’s as simple as that! Produce to look out for: Friends of Al-Aqsa promotes the‘CHECK THE LABEL’campaign. This campaign focuses on the purchasing of dates. With Ramadhan around the corner, it is an important campaign. If you do not want to break your fast with an Israeli date, then join the campaign and… Check the label! Do not buy the dates with labels stating they are from Israel, the West Bank or Jordan Valley. One company to look out for is : ALTERNATIVES: Medjoul dates are extremely popular. Perhaps the taste would be more appetising if it was from an alternative such as Zaytoun and YAFFA. Friends of Al-Aqsa help distribute Medjoul dates which help Palestinian farmers. RIDDLES 1. What belongs to you but others use it more than you do? ____________________________________________________________ 2. What is it that you will break even when you name it? ____________________________________________________________ 3. What holds water yet is full of holes? ____________________________________________________________ 4. The more there is, the less you see. What am I? ____________________________________________________________ 5. Light as a feather, there is nothing in it; the strongest man can’t hold it for much more than a minute? ____________________________________________________________ 6. What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps? ____________________________________________________________ 7. You can’t keep this until you have given it? ____________________________________________________________ Answers: 1.Yourname2.Silence3.Asponge4.Thedarkness5.Breath6.Ariver7.Apromise
  14. 14. RECIPES 14 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 Maqlubah Dajaj | try this delicious Palestinian recipe Method: 1. Wash the rice three times and drain. Then soak the rice in cold water for 10 minutes and drain again. To make the Chicken Stock: 2. Sauté the two medium cubed onions in a deep stock pot until golden. 3. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, bay leaves, cardamom and chicken and sauté until chicken skin becomes golden. 4. Boil the water separately and add to the mix. Bring to the boil and lower to a medium heat, regularly removing the froth from the top of the stock if it appears. 5. Add the Arabic spice, black pepper and salt. Allow it cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked, but not overdone. Once cooked, remove the chicken and leave the stock in the pot. 6. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric and ½ teaspoon cinnamon to the chicken stock, and enough salt so it is slightly salty. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. The stock is now ready. 7.While the chicken mixture simmers, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over a medium heat. Fry the eggplant slices in the hot oil, ensuring the pieces do not touch, until golden brown on both sides; remove to a plate lined with kitchen towel to drain. Do the same with the cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes and onions. 8. Bring out a deep, medium-sized non-stick cooking pot. Sprinkle a thin layer of the uncooked rice in the bottom of the pot, to prevent the vegetables from sticking Then add layers of ingredients as follows: Half the potatoes Half the eggplant Half the cauliflower Half the tomatoes Half the fried onions Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon All the cooked chicken Repeat the layers with the rest of the vegetables, ending with a pinch of cinnamon. 9. Mix the remaining rice with ½ teaspoon of turmeric and ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon. 10. Pour the rice over the layered chicken and vegetables, shaking the pot gently to allow the rice to settle into the dish. 11. Next, place a medium-sized plate upside down on top of the layered mixture. The plate should be smaller than the pot, leaving a 1-2 inch ring of rice exposed around the edges. 12. Add 5 cups of chicken stock to the pot by pouring it over the plate. If you run out of stock, make up the remainder of the fluid using water. The stock will seep through the edges of the plate and cook the rice without moving the vegetables. Cover the pot, leaving the plate in place, and bring to a gentle boil. 13. Once boiling, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and leave for approximately 30-45 minutes, until the rice is soft and the liquid is absorbed. 14. Remove from the heat and allow the pot to stand for approximately 20 minutes. 15. Remove the lid from the pot and the plate from the layered ingredients. Place a large platter over the pot and flip the pot so the dish is upside down on the platter. The ingredients should stay intact as a mound once the pot is removed. 16. Garnish with fried almonds and fried raisins. Serve with yogurt or green salad on the side. Enjoy! Recipe courtesy of Maha Al-Ghoul Ingredients: 7 cups of water 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground turmeric 2 tsp Arabic spice powder (substitute with Garam Masala if you don’t have any – or see recipe for spice powder below) 3 cardamoms 3 bay leaves Salt to taste Ground black pepper to taste 2 cups of cooking oil, for frying the vegetables 2 medium chickens (skin-on), cut into 6 pieces each 2 large eggplant, cut into 1.5cm slices 1 cauliflower, cut into small florets 5 medium potatoes cut into 1.5cm slices 4 tomatoes cut into quarters. 7 medium onions, 2 cut into cubes, and 5 cut into slices 3 cups jasmine rice To make Arabic spice powder: 2 tbsp ground black pepper 2 tbsp paprika 2 tbsp ground cumin 1 tbsp ground coriander 1 tbsp ground cloves 1 tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground cardamom Serves 8
  15. 15. ONE WORLD - FREEDOM FOR PALESTINE ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 15 One World ‘Freedom for Palestine’ The ‘Freedom for Palestine’ track has been widely circulated online and received a lot of support. What did you hope to achieve from the song? I want to encourage people who don’t know much about what’s going on in Palestine and Israel, to dig a bit deeper than the mainstream parlance. I want to encourage people to explore for themselves, the truth about the conflict, because it seems to me that quite often the conflict is presented as being some sort of irreconcilable dispute between two equal parties. But the reality of course, is very different. In reality, it is the story of one well armed state, which is Israel, illegally occupying an impoverished, displaced and stateless people – the Palestinians. By recording a song, which is absolutely clear in its message, I hope to encourage people to look into the true facts about what’s going on. And secondly, for people who do already have a good idea of the situation, I want to try to give them confidence to speak up and to speak out against the crimes which the Israeli state is committing. I think a lot of people have been afraid to speak out. During the first week of July 2011, the official launch of OneWorld’s Freedom for Palestine song took place. Friends of Al Aqsa met with Dave Randall who composed and produced the track and asked him about the new release. Here’s what he had to say… Well we’ve certainly seen a change in public opinion. So following on from that, what has the response been like, both from the general public, and from your colleagues in the music business? For the most part, the response has been fantastic! It’s been really very positive. I’ve had messages of support from all sorts of well known people, but I think what I have been most moved by, are the messages of support I’ve had from ordinary people all around the world, including from Palestine. So the response has been fantastic – people really appreciate the fact that we’ve tried to put the song together and there’s a real sense that people respond to the fact that the song is upbeat and hopeful. Most musicians who I’ve spoken to have been very supportive – quite a few didn’t know much about what was going on. Of course they asked me why I’d been moved to write a song about Palestine, and once you tell people what you’ve seen in the West Bank and what you’ve seen in Gaza and explain to them a bit of the history, they very quickly become supporters. Did you have any difficulties in getting the song out? Yes – particularly with the mainstream media, including the radio – they tend to be nervous about being seen to be critical of the state of Israel and this has made our task more difficult. We had virtually zero airplay on mainstream BBC and commercial radio and airplay is usually the thing that secures a chart position for a song. So it’s been very hard for us. We had to rely on the internet and on activists networks’ to get the message out about the song. And therefore this interview with Friends of Al Aqsa and other websites are all fundamentally important for the song – because we haven’t had the mainstream media support that every other pop music release has. Could you briefly mention where the proceeds from sales will be going and how it will help? Any proceeds raised from sales of the single will go to the UK peace charity War on Want and they will use it to support a project in Palestine. A good proportion of the money will be going to Stop the Wall – the campaign against the building of the apartheid wall in the West Bank. Lastly, will there be more songs to follow? I will certainly continue to write songs, but I think the OneWorld concept is probably one off where we all pull together for this particularly important cause. So this will probably be the only OneWorld song. Dave Randall, thank you so much for your time.
  16. 16. 16 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 Ramadhan Reminder ASH-SHIFA LOCAL AND ONLINE ISLAMIC STORE 263 ST SAVIOURS ROAD, LEICESTER | 0116 2104146 NEW ARRIVALS CHECK ONLINE NOW FREE DELIVERY ANYWHERE IN U.KGO ONLINE OR VISIT THE STORE Stockists of Islamic wear for all ages A large selection of books, multimedia and kitaabs We also have perfumes, children’s toys and gift ideas for special occasions The question is, how can we effectively use Ramadhan to better ourselves? This year the beginning of Ramadhan is in August, which means that the days will be very long. It is im- portant to structure your time so that you will be able to make the most out of the month. For many people, Ra- madhan comes and goes every year, and while we are careful with prayers and worship during the month, it soon passes us by and we carry on with our normal lives once it is over. Howev- er, with a little bit of thought and pre-planning, we can ensure that we eventually live every day as if we are in Ramadhan. Setting yourself goals is a good place to start. Perhaps write down five things you want to achieve, or change about yourself during the month, and work on them every day, not just in Ramadhan, but from be- fore the month begins. It is said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so if we start before Ramadhan, we can insha’Allah come out of the month with a solid set of good habits. Treat Ramadhan as a very dear friend that only visits once a year. Spend the weeks and days leading up to its arrival preparing yourself mentally, spiritu- ally and physically. Once it arrives, try to spend as much time as you can in its company (optional prayers, remembrance of Allah, and charitable acts). Remember that even cooking a meal for your family, if done with the right intention, is an act of worship, and the reward of feeding a fasting person is great! When Ramadhan leaves you with an abundance of gifts, do not discard them. Treasure them as you treas- ure the gifts given to you by dear friends. Utilise the gifts every day, and look for- ward to the new gifts that you will receive next year, insha’Allah. Whilst self-development is a major part of this month, it is crucial to re- member those who are less fortunate. When you feel the pangs of hunger, think about those who go without food for weeks. Make it your goal to do what you can to help them, whether it is in the form of money or time. Finally, remember the Ummah in your duas. Ask Allah to protect Masjid Al- Aqsa from threats against it, and to protect the people whose human rights are be- ing abused daily. May Allah make this a beneficial and produc- tive Ramadhan for us all. Ameen. Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) year and a time when Muslims around the world fast during the day, participate in extra night prayers and reflect upon the year that has passed. Allah says in the Quran: “Oh you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for people before you so that you may become pious.” [Al-Baqarah, 2:183] In History... Seven years ago, on 9th July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the wall Israel was building in the West Bank, conflictedwithinternational law as it invades Palestinian territory. Therulingcameafterthe United Nations General As- sembly asked for an opinion regarding the legality of the Wall being built by Israel. By a 14-1 majority, it was voted that the Wall was illegal. All Israeli justi- fications for the Wall were rejected. Despite the ruling, Israel continued to build the wall, repeatedly claiming that it is merely a security measure to protect Israel from terrorist and suicide attacks. The Israeli government did not participate in the oral hearing at The Hague in the Netherlands, claim- ing it was because they did not support the request for an opinion from the ICJ. They did however, submit a detailed written statement asserting that the court had no right to discuss what they called the “terrorism prevention fence”. Furthermore, they ac- cused the court of jeopard- ising peace negotiations between Israel and Pales- tine by hearing an “overtly political issue”. While the advisory opin- ion is not binding, on 20th July 2004, the UN General Assembly endorsed a reso- lution demanding that Israel act in accordance with the ICJ opinion. Six countries voted against this: Israel, USA, Australia, Micronesia, The Marshall Islands and Palau. The Wall continued be- ing built, and in 2006 it was proven to be a tool for oc- cupation when the then act- ing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that “The course of the fence –which until now has been a secu- rity fence – will be in line with the new course of the permanent border”. “The construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law.”
  17. 17. INTERPAL EDITORIAL ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 17 Editorial | Interpal Ibrahim Hewitt In the midst of political change across the Middle East, one issue remains con- stant: the situation of Pales- tinians across the region is dire. With almost 5 million refugees registered for sup- port from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and international funds in short supply for even basic provision, let alone capital expenditure, the people of Palestine are in desperate need. Help is at hand, however. Whether it is educational support for refugees in Lebanon; community health support for those in Jordan; orphan sponsorship in the occupied West Bank; or vi- tal medicines for the people of Gaza, the needs of the people are paramount, and Interpal is there on your behalf at the forefront of humanitarian aid and com- munity development. As Britain’s main charity dedicated solely to helping needy Palestinians, Interpal has long experience in the field to ensure that vital support gets to where it is going to have the most benefit. The political situ- ation in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Israel’s siege of the latter and oppressive policies in both enclaves, presents cer- tain operational difficulties for all charities and non- governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, innova- tive approaches, policies and procedures have put Interpal in the driving seat for helping Palestinian Christians and Muslims to overcome the hurdles and hardships and maintain their optimism about their future. Need and need alone is and always has been the prime criteria for the dis- tribution of our funds; the political and religious affili- ation of beneficiaries is ir- relevant, something that we are proud of achieving in a deeply-divided community. Humanitarian aid is, of course, essential in a place like Palestine and surround- ing refugee camps, and we sometimes struggle to keep with the demands on our resources. Nevertheless, Interpal’s focus on health, education, needy families and orphan sponsorship along with community de- velopment continues with projects as diverse as drama workshops for teachers and pupils in UNRWA schools in Lebanon, the provision of special medical needs facilities in Jordan and fresh water treatment plants in Gaza. All projects are car- ried out on the basis of a thorough analysis of local needs and existing provi- sion in the relevant field and area of operation. Inter- pal, for example, was a key player in the recent, very successful, Miles for Smiles 3 Convoy to Gaza. Operat- ing with support from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to facilitate access for the convoy across the border at Rafah, essential medicines purchased following consul- tation with the Ministry of Health in Gaza were taken into Gaza in a fleet of am- bulances. Such consultation was important to ensure that the medicines would be of immediate value to patients across the Gaza Strip; around 200 items on the Essential Medicines List (a common feature of all medical provision around the world) are unavailable in Gaza. Interpal and the Convoy were able to make sure that the aid given was practical in every way and able to be put to immediate use. Although help for Pal- estinians is primarily a humanitarian issue, the Blessed land of Palestine and, especially, Al-Aqsa Mosque hold a special place in the hearts and minds of Muslims and Christians alike, many of whom sup- port Interpal’s work. The month of Ramadan is a perfect opportunity for do- nors to give as much Zakah, Sadaqah, Lillah and general donations as possible to maintain the sanctity of the holy places and the dignity of those defending them on our behalf. Not only does this special month increase the reward for those who give generously of their wealth, it also brings a great deal of blessings from the Almighty on the distribu- tion and use of donations. A little really does go a long way in Ramadan; a lot will go even further! Interpal’s staff, trustees and supporters have made a number of field trips to see for themselves the value of the work carried out by the charity. In June, as part of the Miles for Smiles 3 Convoy, first-time visitors to Gaza were astonished to see the diversity of the help given by Interpal, thanks to the generosity of our do- nors. People who had never seen a refugee camp before helped to distribute food parcels to needy families (unemployment in Gaza is approaching 50%, so mon- ey to buy essential goods is in very short supply), and fresh water to refugees (more than two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.2 million popula- tion are refugees in their own country), thereby giv- ing young and not so young members of the Interpal team first-hand experience of the struggle at the sharp end of humanitarian work. It is always extremely grati- fying, and very humbling, to see donations turned into action which makes a dif- ference to people’s lives in a big way: children who can continue to attend school with the proper equipment; hospitals which can treat se- riously ill patients; families which have had their homes destroyed given some- where to live in dignity; small projects which have grown over many years to become vital links in local communities; all of these and more are ways in which Interpal’s donors have been able to make a difference, for which we must thank you, on behalf of Interpal and our beneficiaries. The Palestinians are genuinely appreciative of any and all support that they are given; their patience and stead- fastness is legendary and provides a sharp lesson for us all immersed in our own very consumerist communi- ties. Interpal’s Vice-Chair- man, Dr Essam Mustafa joined with other dignitar- ies, including ex-British government minister Sha- hid Malik and Islam Chan- nel CEO Muhammad Ali, in delivering special milk pow- der for children suffering from lactulose intolerance in the Gaza Strip. The provi- sion of such vital medical aid is one of Interpal’s prime objectives and the charity’s participation in the Miles for Smiles 3 Convoy was a good example of how we cooperate with other NGOs and charities from Europe, the Middle East and South Africa, to ensure that maxi- mum benefit from humani- tarian support is achieved.
  18. 18. BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS 18 AQSA NEWS | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 Donate By Phone 0800 4 0800 11 01274 390 396 Donate Online Charity Reg. No. 1000851 Ten Million people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are suffering amidst the worst drought seen in 60 years. Mothers and their children are facing nothing but hunger, thirst and displacement. Ummah Welfare Trust is on the ground providing water, food and medical aid in Kenya and Somalia. PLEASE DONATE NOW FOR THIS URGENT APPEAL UWT Head Office: 351 Derby Street, Bolton, BL3 6LR.Tel 01204 383 732 HORNOFAFRICA EMERGENCYAPPEAL £1 MILLION APPEAL LAUNCHED LUSH Cosmetics offers support Following the release of OneWorld’s Freedom for Palestine song, interna- tional cosmetics company LUSH revealed that it was supporting the song, saying that the “catastrophe facing the Palestinian people is one of the defining global justice issues of our time”. Thesong,whichincludes vocals from Faithless singer Maxi Jazz reflects growing public opinion surround- ing Israel’s utter disregard for human rights, and the support shown by private firms such as Lush indicates a huge shift in the way that Israel is viewed on the glo- bal stage. This new approach is hugely positive and shares much with the kind of cam- paigning seen during the South African apartheid, namely the release of the ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ song. The song features under the “Ethical Campaigns” tab on the Lush website along- side other human rights, animal rights and environ- mental campaigns. Israel to host UEFA under-21 tournament? We don’t think so The Palestinian sports community has called upon UEFA to reverse its decision to hold the 2013 under-21’s tournament in Israel. As the 2011 tournament concludes in Denmark, foot- ball clubs, players, manag- ers and other sports figures havewrittenalettertoUEFA President Michael Platini, urging him to reverse the decision. The letter states that selecting Israel as the 2013 host country would be rewarding Israel for “its violent repression of Pales- tinian rights” and treating it like any other country. Many have been sur- prised by the decision, especially since Platini criticised Israel publicly last September. Haidar Eid, coordinator of the Red Card Israeli Apartheid campaign said “…we are shocked that UEFA is giving the honour of hosting an important tour- nament to a country that practices illegal occupation and apartheid. A new host nation must be selected.” The letter reminded Platini that footballers Ay- man Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshate were among the 1,400 killed in the assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, when the Rafah National Stadium as well as other buildings were bombed. Scottish council success West Dunbartonshire Regional Council in the west of Scotland has extended a boycott of Israeli goods Bill to include the boycott of English translations of Israeli books and the distri- bution of such books in all libraries under the council’s jurisdiction. Dundee Council, one of Scotland’s largest cities, joined West Dunbartonshire and issued a recommenda- tion to boycott all goods produced in Israel. UCU boycott of Israel The end of May saw a huge BDS success. The larg- est academic union in Brit- ain,knownasUniversityand College Union (UCU) passed a resolution calling for an academic and cultural boy- cott of Israel, at the annual conference in Yorkshire. Delegates voted 10-1 and were ecstatic at the re- sult. James Haywood, Pres- ident-elect at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, stated, “We are delighted that this mo- tion has passed, and with such a clear vote as well. We have seen throughout history that boycotts are a crucial nonviolent tactic in achieving freedom, and target institutions, not indi- viduals.” The UCU represents 120,000 academics across the country.
  19. 19. ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 | AQSA NEWS 19 In memory of Vittorio Arrigoni… Vittorio was a member of the International Solidar- ity Movement (ISM) and was well known in Gaza for his humanitarianism, dynamic personality and pacifism. He had spent time volunteering in Africa and in Western Europe and after visiting the Occupied Pales- tinian Territories, felt that he had to do all that was in his power to help, support and stand with Palestinians living under occupation and tell others about the injus- tice they faced. After spending some time in the West Bank, Vit- torio was deported. Despite this, he flew to Ben Gurion airport to highlight Israel’s deportation of peace activ- ists, and hoped to attend a peace conference in Beth- lehem. He was however, not allowed through and spent Christmas of 2005 being held in detention. Vittorio was in Gaza during the Israeli assault in the winter of 2008-2009, known as Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 Pales- tinian men, women and chil- dren. He acted as a human shield whilst working with thePalestinianRedCrescent ambulances,andatthesame time was reporting with the Italian daily II Manifesto in between bombing raids. As a freelance journalist, he reported back frequently, despite patchy internet access and extraordinary circumstances, and his daily dispatches ended with the phrase “stay human”, an ex- pression which became the motto of anti-Israel peace protests in Italy and the title of his book detailing the horror of the Israeli of- fensive. The death of Vittorio was met with shock and sadness by his supporters around the world. He stood for the rights of others and in this process, lost his life. Whenever asked by his mother how it was possi- ble to “stay human” in such difficult circumstances, he would reply: “Because, de- spite everything, there must always be humanity within us. We have to bring it to others.” On the 15th April 2011, reports surfaced that the Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni had been killed in Gaza. He was captured by a radical group, and killed just a few hours after his abduction. Donate today 020 8453 7176 077 8016 7282 FEEDS IFTAR TO FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN IN EDUCATION£7 GA ZA & A L-Q U D S R A M A D A N CA M PA IG N 20 11 Warmest greetings to you and your family from the Holy Land of Palestine. The sanctions on the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem is crippling —forcing the Palestinians to live below the poverty line. Ramadan is fast approaching, bringing with it a great opportunity to put joy and happiness back into the lives of countless poor and needy. Over the past year, your help has enabled us to distribute thousands of meals and parcels to families with children in education. With your continued support, this Ramadan we will continue to alleviate some of their sufferings by: Dear donor, 1. Providing iftar to families with children in education at a cost of £7 each 2. Parceling food for 10,000 families at a cost of £30 each 3. Securing 20,000 school kit to poor children at a cost of £10 each Let’s make a significant change. Let’s put back the smiles on the young faces. Our beloved Prophet (saw) said: O Supported by ”the best charity is that which is given in Ramadan”.Order Online, click 'Shop'
  20. 20. AQSA NEWS 20 | ISSUE 47 / RAMADHAN 2011 Making World Cup history on Palestinian soil World cup history was made in early July 2011 as the first ever qualifying match was played by the Palestinian national foot- ball team on home soil. The Palestinians drew 1-1 with Afghanistan in the match, which was played in the Faisal Husseini Stadium in Al-Ram with a large crowd of 8,000 supporters. Palestine, a member of FIFA since 1998, has never hosted a World Cup quali- fier on home soil until this match due to Israeli restric- tions. Instead the Palestin- ian team have been forced to train and play ‘home’ games abroad in Jordan or Kuwait. The game started with an early goal for the hosts in the 11th minute by Wadi Hossam. However, Balal Ar- ezou equalised with a goal for Afghanistan in the 63rd minute ending in the match in a draw. The result was still good enough for Palestine, who have now proceeded to the next round of the Asian qualifiers and are set to play Thailand in late July. Victory as Bil’in wall dismantled According to local sources, four years after a Supreme Court Order, Israel has finally began disman- tling a section of the separa- tion barrier near the village of Bil’in. Villagers of Bil’in have held weekly demon- strations near the barrier for 3 years and numerous Palestinians have been killed and injured during the peaceful protest due to the disproportionate use of force by Israeli soldiers. While the move is a small victory activists are still calling for the removal of the entire structure. Bil’in lost half of its land when the barrier was built. VISITOURONLINESTORETODAY WWW.FOA.ORG.UKCLICK‘SHOP’ £10 WWW.FOA.ORG.UKCLICK‘SHOP’ This Eid give someone a gift they will remember Eid Gift Ideas Support Friends of Al-Aqsa this Ramadhan! Join us on our Radio Pledge Day: 21st August 2011 12 noon - 8 pm Radio Frequency 87.7 FM Or listen live at