Tag Archives: activism

Big Brother Attacks UFAA, TLD!

Photo courtesy of mhm.hud.ac.uk


By Michael Bielawski:

I always used to make fun of it.

“They are watching you, your every move you make! Those pesky men in black, better look over your shoulder and get a remote car starter!”

Well it’s not so funny anymore. They are indeed watching, and they got me good. To properly explain what happened, I should start from the beginning.

So over the years I’ve had a sort of mentor to my career. A journalist who not only helped open my eyes to the scope and depth of all the corruption and media manipulation, but someone who believed in me and drove me to become the journalist I am today.

Continue reading Big Brother Attacks UFAA, TLD!


Our Brothers in Bethlehem – Interview with Glyn Secker from Jews for Justice for Palestinians TRANSCRIPT

Released: 25 July 2014 

You can listen to the original interview HERE.

We have the honor of interviewing Glyn Secker, member of the executive committee of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a breakthrough organization founded by Jews dedicated to brotherhood between Palestinians and Israelis, exposing the corruption of the government in Tel Aviv, and promoting the BDS Initiative in hopes of placing pressure on the IDF. We discuss the history of JfJfP, his views on the ravaging conflict in Gaza and the West bank, the philosophy of Zionism and its distinct differences between the Jewish faith, and cover the international community’s response to the pogrom. 

Haneul: You said that you have had some interactions with Tel Aviv and other places in Israel. Can you tell me about your excursion to Israel in 2010?

Glyn: We are implacably opposed to the siege of Gaza and the blockade, so we decided that it would be good if a Jewish organization sent a boat to challenge it. I have to say, we didn’t expect to defeat the Israeli Navy, but we wanted to make a point. So, we bought ourselves a little boat and put onboard a number of significant passengers: a holocaust survivor—82 year old—two Refuseniks, people who had left the Israeli Army on grounds of conscience and now campaigned against the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians. We had someone from an organization called The Brave Family Circle, which consists of Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian people who had lost close relatives in the conflict. This person had lost his daughter to a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.  He and his wife had decided to find an organization that would not take them down the route of conflict, but of reconciliation. I think they were [its] early members or founders, where they developed their slogan, “Nothing will change until we talk”. So, they talked and supported one another, and they argued for a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict. We had an American woman whose family had fled the Holocaust from Germany [and is] now living in the States. We had a German Jewess on board, some photographers, reporters, and so on.

We boarded at Famagusta in Cyprus and sailed from there towards Gaza. We stood in international waters and as we were approaching Gaza, the Israeli navy came out to greet us—the same warship that had greeted the Mavi Marmara—and they dispatched two little gunboats, two landing crafts, and four high-powered RHIBs, all with a semi-commando crew on board. They radioed to us and asked us where were going, and I said that, “We’re a British flag boat and we’re in international waters. We are going to Gaza’s port. We have no intention of entering Israeli waters and we require safe passage.” They responded by saying that we were very welcome to go into any Israeli port, but there was a blockade around Gaza, and they wouldn’t allow us to go [there]. I explained that that was illegal under international law, and that we were going to proceed to Gaza, and shortly afterwards, they surrounded us with their little fleet, boarded us, threw me off the helm, grabbed hold of Yards and Shapiro who were our Refusniks, removed his lifejacket from over his heart, placed a taser gun on [it], and pulled the trigger. He suffered a huge electric shock that was clearly designed to kill him. Well, luckily his heart was strong enough and it didn’t. He had a full-body epileptic shock, and they then dragged him and his brother out of our boat and into [theirs] and processed them through the police stations and court procedures. I might add that they were never charged with anything because there was nothing illegal to charge them with.

The rest of us turned the fuel off on the boats, because we wouldn’t want it to sail under its own steam into Israel, so they could take us on the tow. They towed us at very dangerous speeds into Ashdod. We were all under arrest, they conducted body searches many times, and then put us in a sort of immigration prison… they really couldn’t get rid of us quickly enough because we were on Israeli television before we left Famagusta. We had held a press conference, had Reuters, Associated Press and CNN, and all of the other major agencies there. We were on Israeli news for four days, continuously, and on world news services and across the internet for a couple of days, except, I might say, the BBC, who just blanked us out, which doesn’t surprise us. So, they got rid of us as quickly as they could and put us onto free flights back to our home countries, and they were very careful to treat us very well because they had got a lot of bad publicity from the deaths that had occurred on the Mavi Marmara, and they didn’t want any more bad publicity, particularly with a British boat staffed by Jews. We managed to make an international statement: that many Jews around the world—a Jewish organization in the UK—absolutely disagreed with Israel’s policies and treatment of the Palestinians.

Haneul: Yes, and I remember that there was, not too long ago, an incident that happened with one of our [previous guests], Iara Lee, from IHH…

Glyn: That was the Mavi Marmara.

Haneul: That was it? Oh, okay. It was very, very different treatment. Several people died… there were [around] 109 people…

Glyn: The autopsies made it clear that a number of them were shot in the back, and some of them were shot from above, down through the forehead, so they were clearly assassinations.

Haneul: My God… that’s insane, and you wonder with that kind of behavior the Israeli Defense Forces used… there have been calls, I read recently today, where [British Foreign Minister Phillip] Hammond said that people are losing sympathy for the Israeli government, and there’s also condemnation coming from both Israelis abroad and within Tel Aviv and Haifa, as well as with Palestinians living in Israel. They’ve all been protesting over the past week about this siege. What are your opinions on that particular issue?

Glyn: Well, I think that it’s very good and important that these demonstrations take place and continue. Last Saturday, the one that was in London was enormous. It was so big that people were unable to count it properly. It was between 50-100,000 people. It marched from Downing Street outside Parliament, down to the Israeli embassy, which is [essentially] a four-mile walk. It was very, very impressive, and with those sorts of numbers, you realize there were people there who are not the normal, politically aware or active group. I heard that tourists watching the demonstration just hopped off the pavement and joined it. There is widespread support, but, of course, large demonstrations on their own are not sufficient to change government opinion, and in the UK, we know that too well because when Tony Blair announced the invasion of Iraq, the demonstration in London was estimated by the media to be a million, if not two million—again, they lost count, and it wasn’t the only one in the country. There were huge demonstrations in other main cities, and internationally. There’s a fantastic film that’s just been produced called “We are Many”, showing how the movement was truly international and actually led to the reticence of the UK and American governments to intervene in Syria recently, but then those huge demonstrations didn’t stop Tony Blair and George Bush [from] attacking Iraq with disastrous consequences. So, the other side of the movement, if you like, which goes hand-in-hand with the demonstrations, is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Now, with our Jewish organization, our policy is that it’s important to target the boycott so that it focuses on any organization or institution, whether it’s commercial, military, or academic, which is responsible for maintaining the occupation of Palestinian territories. Whether it’s responsible for the serious discrimination or oppression that occurs of Palestinians inside Israel, which is, if you like, pre-1967 Israel, and also the oppression of the Bedouin in the Negev, who are Israeli citizens subject to ethnic clearances… getting pushed out of their villages under the Prawer plan. It’s now had its name updated, but it’s still the same strategy… pushing them into townships, which have no basic services—sewage, water, education, health—and really uncomfortably reminds one of the bantustans under the White regimes of South Africa.

So, we’re very much in favor of this carefully targeted boycott movement. We’ve been very active… we’ve provided the legal advice for the boycott, “Actions against Veolia”, which was a very big French-Israeli international cooperation for waste disposal, and they were bidding for contracts for disposal of the whole of the whole of North London’s waste—it was an enormous contract—4.9 billion pound sterling, and the legal advice was that it was quite within the legal rights of those local authority governments to exclude Veolia from the bidding process because they were involved in the violation of human rights in Palestine. They were excluded and didn’t get the contract. We have been putting pressure on G4S, along with others… I mean, we were very much working along with other organizations on this boycott actively. We were not claiming total credit for it.

We’ve also been involved in the Action against G4S, which is a security company that completely messed up the London Olympics’, [and] they control the security of the prisons in Israel, and are therefore involved in the maltreatment of Palestinian prisoners that are held without trial or administrative detention, where, Palestinian children as young as twelve are held, having been arrested in the middle of the night, sometimes held in solitary confinement for a couple of weeks at a time, physically maltreated, amounting to torture, being forced to sign confessions in Hebrew, which they don’t understand… All of this was catalogued by a team of British lawyers, funded, organized and published by the British Foreign Office, which found Israel guilty of committing violations of international law, including rights of a child, and G4S is implicated in this. So, now, the campaign has been so effective that G4S has announced that they’re not going to renew any of their contracts for work in Israel, which is very good. The boycott movement is spreading across the States, so big Presbyterian and Methodist churches are boycotting the occupation. Dutch banks and pension funds are doing likewise, and it’s beginning to have a real impact financially on Israel. That was the strength of the boycott movement, which, coupled with the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, brought an end to the regimes [there]. We hope that this tremendously peaceful and powerful movement will have the same effect to liberate the Palestinians.

Haneul: Yes, and I think that [it] is the best way that citizens can get involved. I [read] a message from a friend of mine, which was like, “Why don’t you just go over to Palestine and do something about it”, and I was like, “I can do that right here”.  First, we can start with a few of the organizations that are a part of the BDS movement, some of which I’ve collected from the march in London. One of the groups is Counterfire, which is working towards putting sanctions on the government and economic sectors of Israel. They can find whether or not companies are involved in the boycott. There are others from the Black Students Campaign, which are a coalition of students in London from different universities working to boycott the following groups: Veolia, Hewett-Packard, Ahava, Golan Heits Winery, Victoria’s Secret—so, a lot of girls are gonna be out of luck on Valentine’s Day next year if they want to participate—Eden… Sodastream is another big one. A lot of these companies were mentioned in a Salon article, which specifically talked about how they were involved and where the factories were producing goods and services in illegal settlement areas, or with companies that were directly tied to the IDF and Israeli government. There was also one organization that mentioned Marks & Spencer in a six-point bulletin which mentioned what they had been doing to actually engage in funding the government and economic sectors of Israel, including the IDF, and also talked about how they would support the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Now, I want to get a notion from you, based on your information. There have always been talks and plans ever since 1947 of a two-state solution, and what this would help to do is to join forces between the Israeli and Palestinian people, but that agreement has been broken in 1948, and then in 1967 – 2000 when the had the [correction: 1st and 2nd] Intifadas. I would like for you to speak about what you think that Israel and Palestine should do so that they could create either a two-party state with two peoples, or a one-party state with two peoples.

Glyn: It’s a complicated situation. We can all say that, ideally, it should happen. My personal ideal was that there should be one country in which everyone lives in freedom and security. Free to practice their own religions, to associate safely, and to have access to employment, education, and health services, all on an equal basis. Reality, on the ground, is a very far distance from that. So, it’s necessary to start from the real political situation now, because it’s necessary to identify where we can apply pressure to get movement in the situation.

For a long time, a large number of people, including us, were focused on the two-state solution, and that is still the focus of many major government organizations, and it’s still put forward as a practical solution. On the other hand, there are a large number of people who range from very well informed academics to activists on the ground, confronting the reality on a day-to-day situation… legal groups, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and so on, who say, “Look, the situation now is so dire, and the land has been so fragmented and divided up by Israeli settlements that have expanded up in just the last 10-12 years from 300,000 people to over half a million. The settlements have been placed in a way that divides up East Jerusalem from the West Bank. Gaza is divided off. The area is fragmented into areas A, B, and C. The wall itself doesn’t follow the 1967 borders, but follows deep incursions into the occupied Palestinian territories, and therefore, people are arguing that the two-state solution is no longer viable on practical, concrete terms.

On the one hand, if we say a two-state solution could be achieved, that could only come about if major powers that influence politics in the Middle East were to put their weight behind it—basically America, Britain, and Europe, and that would require a considerable change in policy on America’s behalf to force a change in Israeli politics. This kind of change would have come about if [Israel] had pulled out of Gaza and dismantled settlements in order to do that. That was a small movement by comparison that would be required for achieving a two-state solution for the West Bank and the whole Palestinian territories. So, it’s possible, but it’s difficult.

On the other hand, all of the governments that we’ve talked to and have regular meetings with… all of the foreign embassies in London—we meet with diplomats there—we have meetings ourselves with the British Foreign Office. We have a program of logging at the European parliament, we meet European members of parliament and the European Commission, and all of them are focused on a two-state solution, and we say that, “Well, if you wanted to do that, you’ve got to put some muscle behind your fine words,” because Israel does not respond to fine words; they can ignore them—until someone can put some economic and financial muscle behind that claim for a just solution—Israel would take no notice. We think that is important. On the other hand, when you recognize that politics moves on, that the two-state solution is to crumble as a real possibility because Israel, led by the settlers, is, as fast as they can, creating facts on the ground in order to prevent the two-state solution possibility. So, we have to recognize that and seriously consider if the two-state solution is possible, either because it’s been eradicated as a possibility, or because the major powers won’t take action to instigate it.

What are the other possibilities in terms of a one-state solution? Then you’re presented with two unsavory scenarios. One is the scenario of Bennett, the extreme, right-wing settlers’ voice in Israel who says, “Bring on a one-state solution! We’ll pin the Palestinians into little townships. We will keep very firm military control of them. We will have them as migrant workers—they’ll be good for the Israeli economy—and we will be in control.” The other opposite argument of a one-state solution comes from the Palestinian side that says, “We’ll go down the South African route.” That was a one-state in which there were the Bantustans, and it was demonstrated that an apartheid economy cannot function efficiently in the modern world, and it can’t function politically, and the apartheid structure in South Africa collapsed, and the argument goes that the a one-state apartheid structure that occurs in Israel and Palestine would collapse, too. So, we have to be mindful of that as another scenario.

What we do is argue all the time for a reconnection in practical terms. We argue that the open community and average governments restrict Israel’s right to access European trade agreements because Israel violates the moral principles that is required for all European states to meet in order to access them. Those are some of the arguments that we make. If there is some movement in that field, then it will gain momentum, I believe. We are rather pragmatic, and it is difficult.

Haneul: Yeah, pragmatism sometimes doesn’t mix well with politics, but the people that truly want to make a difference can use their pragmatic sense of…

Glyn: I’ll give you an analogy, with one of your friends saying, “When are you going to Palestine and get active?” Well, what that really means is getting involved physically. Well, you can be active physically by helping to rebuild Palestinian homes, which is what the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions does. The other physical thing you can do is replanting olive trees and so on… all very good stuff, but actually, the implication of people who make those statements is getting involved militarily. Israel is not worried about that. In fact, this present conflict was initiated by Israel. A number of weeks before the three Jewish youths from settlements were abducted and then killed when they were hitchhiking back home, two Palestinian youths, a 16 year-old and a 17 year-old—I think they were out on the Nakba Day celebrations—were shot. They weren’t throwing stones even. One of them was shot in the back, so they were just killed by the Israeli army. That’s what sparked off the current cycle of violence. I can’t prove it, but my suspicion is that was what lay behind the abductions of the Israeli youths. Then, the result of that was Israeli extremists abducted a Palestinian youth and killed him, setting fire to him, creating enormous rage in Palestinian society, and very provocative… I believe that was what was behind the collapse of the truce that had existed between Hamas and Israel. There had been very few rockets fired into Israel for very many months, and Hamas had actually been controlling the more extreme groups firing those rockets, but after this ratcheting up of conflict and violence, then those rockets began to be fired again in much greater numbers.

I believe that was what the Israeli strategy intended to achieve because they’ve got their eye on the defense system. They’ve got tremendous military forces; they’re the fourth most powerful military in the world, whereas the Palestinian military doesn’t even register on the scale, and they then have an excuse to say that, “We’re defending ourselves” and start attacking Gaza. Nobody’s going to respond to that in a very forceful way. They have no “choice”, with respect to their own political supporters, and the resolve of that is it puts enormous strength on the unity government that was established between Hamas and Fatah under the PLO and therefore, pulling the ground from under the Israeli government’s feet, because historically, they’ve always said, “We can’t make peace with the Palestinians because there’s no unified government to make peace with.” Soon as a unified government pops up, what are they going to do? Do something to destroy that unity. That’s what I believe this whole attack on Gaza is about.

Haneul: Oh, no, no, no… you’re 100% right. Your organization and executive committee gave a statement about that on June 19th, which gives a lot of good information. You also mention that there was a hunger strike, if I’m not mistaken, taking place around the same time in which the three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and killed. So, it makes me think about the timing of these incidences. Whenever you see in politics [something] happening, and then, right after that, something else happening to counteract it, it takes away the focus on that [initial] event. You also mentioned a very good point about the unity government between Fatah and Hamas […] they were experiencing some economic growth at one point in time before this particular event happened. In 2011, they experience 15% growth and 7% in 2012…

Glyn: If you’re talking about the West Bank, they’re not Gaza. Gaza has been impossible to measure because there has been a little bit of growth and then Israel attacks the infrastructure as they did in [Operation] Cast Lead and Pillars of Defense, and they destroyed their power systems, communications, sewage and water systems as they’re doing now in this current massacre, so, I mean, Gaza’s growth… Gaza is 70% dependent on United Nations food. Well, um, sorry that I interrupted you.

Haneul: No, no, no… you made a very good point—a very salient [one], because I want to make sure that I get this right and present the facts, as they should be. I know that, when you have any country trying to develop or trying to do anything, or trying to unify, there’s always going to be someone that comes along with a sledgehammer to break things up, and that’s the key issue that I wanted to raise in this article I had written. It seems to me that all of these issues were diversionary tactics.

I wanted to raise one question about the administration of Netanyahu, Peres… all of the people in the seats that initiated Operation [correction: Protective Edge]. What do you think is the difference between Judaism, Israeli, and Zionism? This is really important for a lot of people because I hear so many times in different social media outlets—Twitter and Facebook—[they say] “Oh, the Zionists are this, or the Zionists are that,” but it doesn’t speak for the whole Jewish population from around the world. From your perspective, how do you see these terminologies and what would you like to comment about them?

Glyn: Okay, I’ll try to do a thumbnail sketch. We stand in a completely different picture of Jewish culture. In the 19th century in Eastern Europe—that whole area which was Russia and the eastern European states—there was a very powerful Jewish movement. It was called the “Bund”. It was a trade union, social, and a political movement, and it had tens of thousands of members, Jewish workers, and it was part of that whole revolutionary movement and period, which led to the overthrow of the Tsars. The Bund aligned itself mostly with the Mensheviks, the Formists, Rather than the Bolsheviks, but it was involved in that whole revolutionary period, and its whole argument and position was to end racism to which anti-Semitism was a part. It was necessary to change that part of society in which the Jewish community lived. They did not seek a nationalist and separatist solution. That movement was very active, very powerful, but when the Russian Revolution collapsed and you had the dreadful rise of Stalinism, then many of those people fled and by the by, a number of them fled to America and became very much part of the Black Civil Rights movement in the States, and obviously, many of them flew to Europe and the UK as well, but because that movement collapsed, it then left way for another Jewish movement, which was also developing at the time—the Zionist movement.

There was a range of Zionists: there were the humanist Zionists, but it was actually the very hardline Nationalist Zionists that took control. Their program, right from the beginning, was to carve out territory for the Jewish state, and they propped on Palestine because the Bible provided a wonderful ideological tool, which they could use. So, the Bible was interpreted literally because [it] is full of tremendous contradictions and conflicts between families, which can get quite violent, and in these interpretations if you’re going to derive from it a set of moral criteria, the moral criteria that the founding Rabbis, which was particularly Rabbi Hillel: that which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That was the basis of Jewish observers and practitioners internationally… all of the countries which Jewish communities were established.

So, the hardline Zionists initially found themselves in opposition with the Orthodox Jewish communities from around the world, because they were not in favor of founding a Jewish state. One of the reasons for that [was] they found it heretical—sacrilegious—to do that before the Coming of the Lord. In Judaism, of course, the Lord has not come to Earth, not recognizing Jesus as the Son of God, and therefore, if the Lord has not come to Earth, it is sacrilegious to found a Jewish state. There’s a small group of people that believe that powerfully and is often found in the Palestinian demonstrations in London—Neturei Karta—so, the original Zionist program was organized in spite of instead of with the Orthodox Jewish communities around the world.

They were quite ruthless in their objectives, and their informing theorists—one of them was a fellow by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who developed a theory called the Iron Wall, which was composed of three components: Jewish labor, Jewish projects, and Jewish land. These were to be obtained legally, financially, socially, and if necessary, by force, and that’s what has happened.  The land was acquired by force. It included in 1948 the disaster of a town called Diad Haziz in where the community was either murdered by two organizations—the Irgun Gang and the Stern Gang, which were led by the early founding people of Israel. They were commanders in those organizations with the early army—the Palmach—They set about terrorizing a number of the Palestinian villages in the Fertile Crescent which were to become Israel, and caused the Palestinians who were, in 500-530 villages, peaceful, unarmed, with no military organization, to flee and panic, and each time that they committed an atrocity, which they did in about 12 of the villages, they would leave some of the people to run free to some of the other villages to cause panic [there], and that’s how the Nakba occurred. You can read about that in work of the new Jewish historians—people like Avi Shlaim at Oxford University here and Finklestein, and they based their works on the documents released by Israel after the 30-year war. So, the hard Zionists, and I would describe the settlers at the moment as fundamentalist Zionists; they’re so extreme—are maintaining the policy of Jabotinsky, the policy of Eretz Israel, which is Greater Israel, taking control of the whole of the land from the end of the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, and wanting to ethnically clear Palestinians as much as they can from [it]. So, you have to draw a very clear distinction between very large numbers of Jews—some of who are in Israel—there was a very brave demonstration by Democracy Now! in Israel, where many of them were beaten up by the settlers and other extremists. They were demonstrating against Protective Edge. There are Jews in this country and in Europe and in America, Jewish Voice for Peace, which numbers 100,000 on its email list, who argues the same politics as we do, with 1,800 Jews in this country in a population of 300,000 Jews, they were small, but significant.

We think that we speak for many more Jews than the members of our organization. We know that there are lots more Jews that sympathize with us. It’s very interesting that during Operation Cast Lead, the Jewish community here managed to pull out a demonstration of something like 40,000 Jews in support of the operation around 2008-2009. In response to our demonstration of 50-100,000, on the next day, Sunday, they only managed to get 1,500 to their demonstration. The Times of Israel actually wrote an article criticizing the Jewish leadership here for not doing better. It’s not actually whether the Jewish leadership here could do better, or wanted to do better, I think the ground support that wants what the [Israeli] government is doing, is beginning to slip away.

Haneul: You know, there were two things I wanted to mention, based on your point… Firstly, you had the vote today; we had the international community vote on who was going to condemn the violence in the Gaza Strip. You had the United States [that said] “NO”… We’re not going to condemn”, and then you had many European nations say, “We don’t know yet”, so they abstained. Then you had Cuba and Sierra Lione, which is experiencing General Buttnaked and Ebola right now say, “YES, let’s have an investigation”, so it just goes to show the moral fiber of what is happening in the international community and this enraged me a bit.

Glyn: Venezuela said that they would not trade with Israel during the current period… you know, things are moving. It’s interesting.

Haneul: Funny enough, after the Latin American tour by President Putin, a lot of these BRICS nations are starting to coalesce in opinion. One of the first people to come out was [Envoy of Middle Eastern Affairs] of the CCP [Wu Sike], you know, of all places for human rights and dignity, the CCP is like, “We don’t like this! Please stop bombing Gaza!” It makes you think of exactly what’s going on.

Glyn: We’re very anxious to say, as a Jewish people, that what Israel is doing is validly not in our name. We’re absolutely appalled at the gross mistreatment of the Palestinians and of human rights. At the moment, one child an hour is dying. That’s unbelievable! I just framed this sentence, that not only is it doing awful things to the Palestinians, but it’s doing awful things to the Jewish soul, because a people that oppress another… if you have to maintain oppression, first of all, you have to categorize a group of people that you oppress as less than human, because you have to find a way of encompassing and rationalizing that oppression, and you have to adopt the practical mechanisms of [it]. So, you become a practical and psychological oppressor and become enchained by your own oppression, and that’s a terrible thing. It’s also the case that, because of that experience, large numbers of people, particularly large numbers of middle class people [have been] leaving Israel over quite a few years now. There’s been quite a steady stream of people leaving Israel. What happens, is that they move to Israel, but don’t destroy their original passports so they move back again. It’s a tragic state of affairs… it really is.

Haneul: It really is. At the rally, I had the displeasure of looking [Palestinian] people in the eye, when they were reading out the list of names [of children killed], I felt like I had to apologize on behalf of the United States. I’m not sure how many Americans were out there at the time, but it’s heartbreaking when you know that these people are losing the people that they love, as well as [seeing] a demographic of people from all over the MENA region—you had Israeli, Turkish, Saudi Arabian, Libyan… people from London, people from outside of London and people from parts of Europe, all coming together with a common consensus. That is a true representation of democracy and of what people want when they fight for solidarity, the little guy, and the underdog. That’s one reason why I wanted to invite you on the show, because we needed to show people that the distortion that is happening within Western and mainstream media—CNN, BBC, whom have completely blacked out what has been going on and propping up support for people like Barack Obama—we have to show the real feelings of the people dealing with issues in Israel and Palestine, and so that’s why I appreciate you coming on.

Glyn: I’d just like to reemphasize the core of our organization, which is: we are peaceful, we don’t advocate violence, we condemn killings of all sorts, we strongly believe in human rights… that’s the core of our beliefs that unite all of our signatories and our members who come from a wide spectrum of beliefs, some of whom are very religious Orthodox, some of whom are Atheists, some whom are Conservatives with a capital ‘C’, some are apolitical, some are socialists, some are none of these things, and the uniting factor is just the belief in human rights and pursuing a powerful and peaceful resolution, and it’s the Palestinian call for boycott, which is what our whole movement legs at the moment… tremendously impressive. I would like to end on one thing: what inspires us is the humanity of the Palestinians and their personal strength and determination to keep going… [One famous playwright said] that, “Whatever happens, stay human”, and it’s that steadfastness and staying human of the Palestinians which is so important, because it inspires it all. I don’t know personally [how] I would feel if the Palestinians were defeated and collapsed. Where does that leave me as a Jew? I would be deeply, deeply disturbed by that, because our byline of our organization [is] “Two peoples, one future”… for me, [that] is a deeply philosophical statement.

Tear Down the Walls – International Solidarity March for Palestine, Sanctions for Israel

Haneul Na’avi
21 July 2014

This article appears courtesy of openDemocracy.

Around 100,000 demonstrators from around London and the world convened to show their support for victims in the Gaza Strip, and to denounce Israel’s ground offensive against innocent civilians and the silence of the international community.


Protesters hold a banner in support of Palestinians that have died during the weeks-long siege of the Gaza Strip [Photo: Haneul Na’avi]

According to Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com, as of July 21st, the death toll among Palestinians stood at 556, which consisted unequivocally of civilians, with over 100 of them children. Conversely, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) lost 25 soldiers, in addition to two civilians. The lopsided casualties patently validated claims that war crimes were being indiscriminately committed against men, women, and children in Palestine during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” which, aimed at stopping Hamas “rocket fire”, has since escalated the crisis.

These events had been precipitated when three Jewish boys—Natfali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach—were abducted and found dead near the Palestinian town of Hebron, in which no one has been brought to justice. This led to the retaliation killing of Mohammed Abu Khedeir by far-right Jewish nationalists and a brutal raid and arrest of over 570 Palestinians, with approximately 5 Gazans dead. Nevertheless, media whitewashing and bias of the incident has skewed international access to reliable information, including possible motives to obstruct Palestine’s unity government and economic development. “Gaza’s economy, always sore beset by Israeli restrictions, managed to grow nearly 15 percent in 2011 and 7 percent in 2012. Hamas was also boosted by the Palestinian ‘unity government’ announced on 2 June this year, which allowed it to hope that public-sector workers in Gaza would be paid by the Palestinian Authority,” states one author of Solidarity Magazine.

London was one of many places around the world where international condemnation resonated throughout major cities. “In Europe, thousands of people took to the streets in London, Paris and Dublin condemning the situation despite France’s recent ban on protesting after pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched on two synagogues,” an IB Times article mentioned. The article further asserted that “at least 30 people were arrested in Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel, after protestors marched in defiance of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. A similar situation broke out Saturday night in Tel Aviv, as hundreds gathered in Israel’s second-most-populous city.”


Children march towards Kensington with Palestinian flags draped across their backs [Photo: Haneul Na’avi]

Organizations from around Britain gathered to help coordinate the protest. Among them, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Action AWE, Socialist Party, Revolutionary Communist, Counterfire, Left Unity, and the Socialist Workers Party actively participated in functions of the event. All attending groups utilized kiosks, signs, banners, posters, and representatives to distribute vital information, sign petitions, recruit members, and to usher the march to the main rally point. Protesters originally gathered in front of PM David Cameron’s residence in Downing Street and proceeded to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, where Israeli security forces and diplomats were obliged to listen.


Children hold their sign in protest of the Gazan genocide in the West Bank [Photo: Haneul Na’avi]

Many of the attendees expressed their outrage and indignation towards the actions of Israel’s genocidal ground campaign. One vocal Jewish woman in the rally voiced her opinion in a short statement for The Last Defense:

They say that they’re bombing [Israel] with rockets. If they can’t rebuild their houses, drink enough water, or have any food, what are they going to make rockets from? What, the bloody lies? Enough is enough! The truth will be out. Palestine will be free. They want to take more land. It’s a land grab. They’ve taken 75% and now they’re going in for the kill. The whole kit and caboodle, and then all of these BBC and media-run Zionists just tell lies.

[Israel] bombed Palestine with depleted uranium in 2012. Did any of the media say [that]? They talk about weapons of mass destruction… Israel is the 4th biggest weapons [manufacturer] on the planet! It has 300 nukes already to fire! Why can Israel have weapons of mass destruction?

The protests converged several key boycott initiatives, including those of Innovative Minds, Black Students Campaign, and The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. The Palestinian Society, based off of the successes of boycotting practices used in South Africa against apartheid, created a similar call in order to express clear objections to sanctioning the Israeli government and economic sectors with a three-point ultimatum:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.


Protesters hold a banner in favor of the BDS initiative and chant to passersby [Photo: Haneul Na’avi]

Approximately 245 politicians, organizations, political parties and trade unions, have endorsed these initiatives. Their combined support and advocacy have been instrumental in the push for this resolution and to recognizing the solidarity of citizens of the Gaza Strip. One representative offered her statement about the effectiveness of divesting from businesses tied to Israel:

Who contribute to the Israeli IDF, and of course, to the mistreatment of the Palestinians? They do this in two methods, either directly or indirectly, so, officially, they may say that this company doesn’t contribute but they try to withdraw millions straight to the IDF. For example, Starbucks, a classic, [and] on top of that, Starbucks has not been paying UK taxes for a long, long time, and has been using that money to send to Israel to kill more Palestinians. So, the only way that we can do this is to all stick together, [in] peaceful protest, and boycott them. If they have less money, they can kill less people.

Finally, the massive crowd of people from all over the MENA region and the world chanted in union slogans such as “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry! We will never let you die!” After pooling at the rally point in front of the embassy, a host of featured speakers came out to publically condemn the ground, air, and naval assaults on Gaza to their audiences. Tariq Ali, veteran journalist for the London Guardian and New Left Review, gave a passionate, galvanizing speech on his thoughts:

One of the most shameful things that has happened in Europe… the government of France has banned all pro-Palestinian demonstrations. And we say to Hollande, ‘You will fall yourself in badly, you are hated by your population, your ratings are the lowest they’ve ever been, so your time has passed, and we hope a France will emerge which will not challenge the democratic rights, either of Palestine or of its own citizens, because to stop people demonstrating on the grounds that these are anti-Semitic demonstrations… The way that Israelis have used anti-Semitism to try to crush any resistance no longer works! It doesn’t work any longer!


Approximately 100,000 men, women and Children from countries around the world gather during Tariq Ali’s speech in front of the Israeli embassy in Kensington [Photo: Haneul Na’avi]

So, what are we going to do? Of course, we will carry on demonstrating, but I tell you something… we can’t just stop at that. The campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions must be continued! The BDS campaign is the only way. We can help consistently in the long term to isolate this state, to make its people think that what they’re doing is unacceptable to the world at large. We did it to South Africa, let’s do it to Israel.

For learn more and get involved, please contact http://www.palestinecampaign.org/ and http://stopwar.org.uk.

For more information about The Last Defense, please visit thelastdefense2012.tumblr.com