Wednesday, 30 March 2011

'Beats of Resistance': Gig for Palestine

By Yasmin Ahmed
(LSE Palestine Society)

Debates, stunts, petitions and other such events and instruments are all crucial means to galvanising people into action and awakening their political, social and moral consciences. But a tool that is often forgotten but is one that, if utilised in the right way, can also help to realise these aims and perhaps extends to a much larger audience is…music.

With this in mind, on March 9th, the LSE SU Palestine Society and the Stop the War Coalition jointly organised and hosted a benefit gig entitled 'Beats of Resistance' to do just that - raise awareness, inspire and motivate people through the mediums of poetry and music, whilst at the same time raising money for charity and expressing solidarity with and support for those fighting for their inalienable rights. 

The lineup included live performances from hip hop artists Lowkey, Logic, Mic Righteous and Reveal, as well as a number of new up-and-coming artists. Speakers John Rees and Jody McIntyre also made appearances, expressing their thoughts about the ongoing uprisings in the Arab world and how this is related to the global struggle against imperialism and for self-determination. A number of stalls were also set up on the night selling statement clothing, Palestinian koffiyehs and badges.

The events that are unfolding across the Arab world have been inspiring to witness. The Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis, and Libyans (I could go on…) have simply had enough of living under the tyrannical rule of brutal dictatorships and have found the voices they have for so long been denied to demand their liberties. However, Afghanistan and Iraq remain under military occupation by foreign troops, the Palestinian people remain stateless and it seems that most of the countries currently experiencing revolutionary movements such as Libya and Bahrain are still facing a long and toilsome road towards freedom and democracy. It is for this reason that we here must consolidate the movement to pressure our government into doing what it can to alleviate some of these injustices that it is either directly or indirectly responsible for, and where necessary, to cut ties with despotic rulers and states that violate international law. For this to be effective, we need the involvement of the masses, and this event is just one of many mobilising efforts.

The night proved to be a massive success, with a total of £1000 raised, which will be donated to St John's Eye Hospital and Friends of Al Aqsa. We may not possess an influential role within the political realm to offer our diplomatic assistance on a governmental platform to all those across the world who are bravely continuing their struggle for democracy, justice and liberty, but music and poetry have the power to unify the masses, here and abroad, and the capacity to engage with, educate and inspire people in the hope that they too will get involved with the various solidarity movements that are growing here in the UK. 

We would like to express our thanks to all those who contributed and performed on the night: John Rees, Jody McIntyre, Lowkey, Logic, Mic Righteous, Reveal, Jimmy Jitsu, DJ Steaz, DJ Snuffs, Crazy-Haze, Sanasino, Saba Jarrar, True Bess, T-Error, Strive, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Statement Clothing.


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Poetry by Sharaiz Chaudhry

By Sharaiz Chaudhry 
(London School of Economics Palestine Society)

Other Side of the Rainbow

On the other side of the rainbow there’s my homeland.
I have heard of its beauty but I’ve never seen it.
I see the rain but the green grass is hidden.
The olive branches, the fig trees
On the other side of the rainbow.
I get there and it disappears.
The pot of gold I have never seen,
The land I see in my dreams.
On the other side of the rainbow.
I was promised I could go there.
I heard of its beauty in the tales and poems.
Sand, MY sand.
Land, MY land.
The sun fades, the night arrives
But the rainbow remains.
On the other side of the rainbow there’s my homeland.

Washed In Blood

The hope of dreams is pointless in a land washed in blood.
The dream of happiness has died.
Only the dream of death remains.
An escape from the pain and sorrow.
For surely the Hereafter will be full of pleasure?
Or has God doomed us to this living hell?
The body washed in blood.
It asks: “Am I not worthy of water?”
Surely before burial he shall get his wish.
But what of his body which lies in five places on the street?
Where should the son start when he picks up his father’s body?
He asks his father: “Oh father, how can I bury you?
How can you go towards your Lord in such a state?”
He replies: “Pray for my eyes,
For surely they have seen too much.”
With that he is gone, pain only a memory.
And his memory only pain.
This is a song from a land washed in blood
A song from the wasteland.
A song of a friendship only with death.
Written with the hands which have prayed in hope for too long,
But when hope has left our bodies.
Only our words remain.

Palestinian Story

I was not born when they shot my mother.
Ripped me out her womb when I was too young to cry.
Too young to know what monsters they were.
They came through our town
Killing and raping as they go.
I’m happy that I died before Allah put me through this.
I was only three when they took my parents.
They bombed our house in 98.
I lay by their dead bodies for hours.
I called my father’s name but he didn’t reply.
His face was burnt,
But he escaped this hell
When I was seven they shot my sister.
They took her life while she ran across the road.
Caught in the crossfire
She lay on the path, motionless.
She left me alone,
To suffer the pains to come
They built this wall over us.
It blocks the sunlight whilst I walk.
But there never was light here,
Not since 1948 when they took my father’s land.
They kill us day and night
But the world remains silent to our suffering.
The bombs fall over us,
I only hear stories of days in Jerusalem.
I fight against their oppression
With a gun in my hand and a bomb on my chest.
Fighting with the Mujahideen.
Only seeking the pleasure of Allah till I reach him.
Blood drips from my neck.
The pain is nothing compared to what I’ve seen.
I see my sister, I see my father, I see my mother.
I see the shaheed, I see Musa, I see Muhammad.
They put out their arms to greet me.
I reach into Allah’s hands from where I came
I see Jerusalem and an army overflowing it.
The liberation from tyranny.
They enter al-Aqsa and the imam gives the call to prayer.
They line up, shoulder to shoulder
And praise the glory of Allah
And the day when Palestine is liberated.

Monday, 28 March 2011

University of Birmingham & Israeli Apartheid Week: Mock Israeli Checkpoint

By Daniel Lindley and Malia Bouattia
University of Birmingham Friends of Palestine

The University of Birmingham is something of a Zionist outpost in British Higher Education. It also has the largest JSoc in the country whose leadership is dominated by Zionist activists. Just a month ago the ominous EUMC definition of anti-Semitism was adopted as legislation by the student union and the university’s Friends of Palestine society narrowly avoided severe sanctions after one of our guest speakers made a comparison between Israel and the Nazis (a comparison we’d made clear we didn’t endorse) and were put before a disciplinary panel who demanded we issue an apology. The panel included a student who had written for the Federation of Zionist Youth’s magazine (in one article describing her meeting with Ariel Sharon as an unforgettable experience), yet she did not declare a conflict of interest thus casting serious concerns over the panel’s decision. However, after a long and tiresome campaign, we managed to bring the case to appeal and the committee acquitted us of all charges. 

After these aggressive manoeuvres the Zionists performed a two-faced shift to Orwellian propagandising for the state of Israel; hosting 25 Israeli students and setting up a “Peace Tent” on campus preaching that Israel wants coexistence in Birmingham whilst it continues to bomb and murder Palestinians in the occupied territories and steal their lands. The entire campus was chalked from the early morning with statistics on Israel’s crimes and clear proposals as opposed to the empty “We want peace.” But our main action was re-enacting an Israeli checkpoint outside the university’s main library near their tent, which we decided to do with inspiration from a similar action in Columbia University in the US, and to spread awareness of the cruel and humiliating occupation Israel continues to operate in the West Bank. Students from Warwick, Nottingham and Leicester also participated in the stunt. The local PSC and Stop the War also came along to show solidarity and helped distribute informative leaflets during the performance. 

There were many students who showed interest and took the time to speak to the participants. Problems arose when the Israeli TV camera crew approached us and started filming everyone involved. They were also asking us questions about which group we were all a part of, whether we were going to hold anymore stunts, why checkpoints exist, what we thought about the conflict and how it would end. Several police officers were also in attendance, who told us they were there “in case it kicks off tonight” when asked why their presence was necessary. Many of the students who approached us expressed that they felt intimidated by the cameras and were worried about what the footage was going to be used for. It was clear that because attention was diverted away from the tent, the Zionists wanted to use the cameras to put people off from approaching us and inquiring about the action. 

Overall the events were a success and many of the students and visitors on campus witnessed the Zionist attempts of intimidation which contradicted their “peace” initiative. We reinforced that our approaches remain non-violent and that we have no intention of intimidating students as opposed to the continuous harassment and confrontations we experience from Zionists on campus. Our principle aims are to liberate and seek justice for the Palestinian. We therefore also wanted to contribute to raising awareness about Israel in the hope that Zionists may take the first step and admit their state’s inhumane and illegal actions are wrong and then perhaps this would be the first step to discussing genuine peace.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Aid Industry Doing No Harm in Palestine?

By Samer Abdelnour

Discourses of "aid," "development" and "reconstruction" shield Israel's ongoing
 occupation and colonial project. (Khaleel Reash/

The "Palestine Papers" reveal fully the extent to which Palestinians have neither genuine leadership nor a partner for peace. At the foreground is an unrepresentative "authority" prepared to compromise the most fundamental of Palestinian aspirations for an unrelenting colonizer and its imperious supporter. In the background lies a key mechanism enabling Palestinian deprivation: the aid industry.

Palestinians are among the most aid-subsidized people on earth. Anne Le More's
International Assistance to the Palestinians after Oslo demonstrates how $8 billion of post-Oslo aid made its way to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1994 and 2006 for the purposes of development, building Palestinian Authority capacity and increasingly for emergency relief operations. Much of this, it was claimed, was needed to build the institutions necessary for a two-state peace process and to support socioeconomic development.

However, the aid industry is a key factor in Palestinian de-development. Discourses of "aid," "development" and "reconstruction" shield Israel's ongoing occupation and colonial project. A full third of the Palestinian Authority budget is aid-subsidized. In addition to funding a distorted Palestinian political system, the aid industry directly removes from Israel the burden of responsibility for the destruction of Palestinian lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. In doing so, it allows Israel to focus its resources and efforts on the acceleration of Palestinian poverty, the expansion of settlements, the expropriation of Jerusalem and the destruction of Gaza.

The blinders through which most aid industry actors operate serve to de-politicize and de-contextualize Palestinian "poverty." This was evident at a presentation by a representative of a large UN aid agency at a London-based university in late 2010. The presentation outlined a number of initiatives to feed destitute Palestinians and energize the economy of the West Bank, some being replicas of the organization's work in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

After the presentation, the moderator made clear that the presenter represents an "apolitical" agency and thus would "not field political questions." Of course, members of the audience could not resist the temptation to ask "political" questions, probing the possibility that de-politicizing aid plays a role in supporting and expediting Palestinian de-development. To this, the presenter posed a troubling dilemma: "Aid saves Palestinian lives." Surely, it is not enough for aid to "save" Palestinians from their own "poverty," so that they can continue to endure a devastating occupation and brutal dispossession. Must the choice be starvation on one hand, and on the other, a marginal survival with the dissipation of national aspirations for self-determination and the right of return?

The agency in question is representative of a majority, but not all, of the international aid organizations, agencies and donor projects servicing Palestinians.

By contrast, two international organizations manage to fulfill significant mandates without de-politicizing their work. The first is the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA). 
Writing on the UNRWA-Palestinian relationship, Randa Farah discusses the way in which the UN agency "is of vital importance to the Palestinian national struggle" ("Uneasy but Necessary: The UNRWA-Palestinian Relationship," Al-Shabaka, 30 November 2010). UNRWA upholds its obligation to UN resolutions as a mechanism for maintaining Palestinian refugee visibility and collective memory, and as an organization embodying the mandate for refugee rights in absence of a functioning national Palestinian consensus. Of course, in the absence of a final settlement, UNRWA does play a significant role in supporting the limbo in which millions of Palestinian refugees exist.

In stark contradiction to UNRWA's mandate is the support provided to Israel by its largest donors, the United States and the European Commission. The US is UNRWA's largest donor ($268 million in 2009), and Israel's largest trading partner and provider of blind political and military support. Next is the European Commission ($232.7 million in 2009), which plays a significant role in Israel's economy and supports Israeli military research. Together, US and EU support amount to over half of UNRWA's annual funding. Within the confines of this donor-UNRWA mandate contradiction, UNRWA attempts to operate with full acknowledgment of the political reality and context in which it works. Importantly, it maintains elements of Palestinian rights and aspirations as part of its core mandate.

Next, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLF) recognizes that the institutions of foreign aid create dependencies where local organizations are unable to exert and promote their own agendas and aspirations. RLF explicitly acknowledges the decades-long failure of the aid industry, and that Palestinian social, economic, and institutional capacity will continue to erode without the support of grassroots and progressive political organizing as well as a Palestinian-owned development agenda.

A large number of Palestinian civil society organizations and individuals embody the aspirations of their people through the peaceful boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Those who support BDS refuse the colonial project of economic normalization and demand a forum through which to express their socioeconomic and political aspirations. In harmony with BDS standards, international aid organizations too must consider the role they -- and their donors -- play in driving Palestinian de-development.

The aid industry in Palestine must choose between either the blind subsidizing of oppression, or a recognition and cessation of its support for it by adopting Mary B. Anderson's 
Do No Harm framework -- an approach for analyzing the interrelations between international aid in conflict contexts and the dynamics of those conflicts -- as well as codes of ethics developed by the UN, bilateral donors and international and national nongovernmental organizations. Subsidizing a brutal occupation and illegitimate authority translates into the deliberate crushing of Palestinian aspirations and hence the very tools for creating lasting peace. As the world has witnessed through the "Palestine Papers," when aid is de-politicized, donors and international organizations are able to pour billions of dollars into a colonial project under the masks of institution building and poverty reduction. Standing in stark opposition to the stated objectives of aid to Palestinians is the reality of subjugation so clearly evoked in Malcolm X's "Message to the Grassroots": the facade of a government pandering to an uncompromising colonial project bent on the destruction of Palestinian human rights and national aspirations.

As a first step out of this inadvertent (or intended) collaboration, well-meaning aid workers should embrace the 
Do No Harm framework within their organizations to ensure that their work does not simply serve to "rebuild" what Israel deliberately destroys.  and agencies must seriously rethink the claim that their work is "apolitical," should immediately publicize the extent of potential harm caused throughout their chain of operations and outline a transparent action plan for eliminating potential harm in their work. Areas for consideration include: securing funds from donor countries that support Israeli military or economic activity, objectifying Palestinian "poverty" through literature and marketing materials, working through or with Israeli state agencies and explicating how aid is employed in relation to Israeli policy and military activity.

Aid agencies must attempt to hold Israel politically, fiscally and morally accountable for past and ongoing destruction rather than contributing to the creation and perpetuation of an illusory Palestinian leadership and Palestinian de-development. Otherwise, massive aid subsidies under the masks of "development," "reconstruction" and "institution-building" make the aid industry complicit in the deliberate devastation of the people it claims to serve.

Friday, 25 March 2011

UCL Friends of Palestine: Mock Checkpoint & Life Under Occupation

By Layth Hanbali
(UCL Friends of Palestine)

Last year, our president won the society funding by the union of a campaigns week, entitled 'Life Under Occupation'. Throughout the year, the other winners of the campaigns requests went unnoticed but we made sure ours was different. The plight of the Palestinians living in the West Bank is still widely misunderstood where many believe that it is one side fighting the other, that there are two sides to the conflict and that this is one of many wars going on around the world. In a situation where one side has total security control over the other, transfers populations illegally onto the other's land, places hundreds of roadblocks that stop the owners of the land but not the infiltrators, where the infiltrators get 5 times as much water as the owners of the resources and where the settlers have provisions to all public services and the Palestinians to next to none, it would be embarrassing to use the words "conflict" and "war".

University Collage of London (UCL) Friends of Palestine tried to bring that truth closer to campus in our campaigns week. Despite very difficult hurdles being placed on our society by management, we still held a fantastic photo exhibition in the Jeremy Bentham Room under the leadership of our vice president. The shocking photos of Hebron, Bethlehem and Abou Dis provoked some thought into the observers who on the whole appreciated the exhibition. Those who were "appalled", however, were those we are never optimistic enough to convince anyway. The exhibition of the situation of Palestinians living under the brutal occupation ran all week and received great traffic throughout.

What I was personally most excited for was Wednesday. We decided to bring the Palestinian struggle against the illegal occupation and horrible oppression to UCL quad. After much thought, we decided to make a documentary out of it to bring it to the attention of as many people as possible, as only so many people will be walking through the quad, compared to the impressive viral nature of the internet. War on Want were kind enough to provide us with their brilliant replica of the wall being built illegally on Palestinian land and props and costumes were as convincing as we could obtain. Our two soldiers played the role fantastically and one certainly seemed to enjoy the switch from being the oppressed Palestinian to the arrogant soldier on the checkpoint, having even learnt common checkpoint phrases the night before. The harassment, beating and humiliation was made sure to be backed up by evidence, including the shocking scenarios of tens of Palestinian women who have given birth on checkpoints, with 1 in 2 still births.

Our information desk worked relentlessly to make sure facts like that aren't forgotten and to deal with any confrontation which fortunately was minimal. I was delighted when someone who had once or twice heard of Gaza engaged in a lengthy conversation with me discussing the history of the issue, but even more delighted when an Israeli guy and I discussed practical ways in which this horrible situation could one day end. The end of our well-received stunt was not so happy unfortunately as a girl from Tel Aviv categorically said she supported the starving of Gazans as she compared it to "slapping the ant crawling up your leg".

On the whole, it was a successful week which brought the suffering of Palestinians onto campus very well. The students on the whole were appreciative and supportive of our cause and we couldn't have hoped of running it much smoother. A testimony of our success was a hardcore Zionist requesting from the Zionist Battle Bus to come to UCL after the "bile" taking place on campus. We can only hope to carry on the good work to hopefully actually get a trip from what was this year a thoroughly unsuccessful Liebermann campaign.

A Simulation of a Civilian Injured 
Waiting at a Checkpoint, which normally takes hours
A Solider of the Israeli Occupation Forces

University College London 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Zionist Propaganda: Lieberman's "Battle Bus" At British Universities

By Nadia Marques de Carvalho
(London School of Economics Palestine Society)

The Zionist "Battle Bus"

On the 3rd March 2011, the Chair of the Union of Jewish Students Alex Dwek claimed there was a rise of anti-Semitism on British campuses, coupling this with a rise of extreme anti-Zionist rhetoric: notably the two are very different but naturally it is easier to just stamp all anti-Zionists as anti-Semitic. He accused all pro-Palestinians as being “far-left and radical Islamists” who seek to corrupt our universities with “hate speech” such as the controversial LSE event with Abdel-Bari Atwan (which was after investigation deemed not anti-Semitic). Nonetheless the Hasbara Handbook (a guide to pro-Israeli Activists) claims that at times like this one must “neutralize negativity”. Ergo the Zionist “Battle Bus” sent for war on British University Campuses.

This Zionist “Battle Bus” is made up of 25 students exported from Israel who are travelling the campuses of London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham as part of the “largest pro-active pro-Israel campaign in recent years to mark Israel Awareness Week. Smart, but dirty propaganda Mr. Lieberman. Again this is rather ironic, as one does not need such campaigns to be aware of Israel, their “defense campaigns” in Gaza attracting the attention of Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch as well as the foreign media does well in making us aware of Israel. This is a move to counter the International campaign of Israeli Apartheid Week, which seeks to educate people about the apartheid policies in Israel against Palestinians, noting that Israeli Apartheid Week does not endeavor to delegitimize Israel, as fortunately Israel does this for herself.

The Birmingham Jewish Society has described this Israeli propaganda as seeking to provide an alternative narrative that focuses on the “core principals of the region –‘Peace, Reconciliation and Cooperation.’” Is this na├»ve or a desperate and patronizing bid to blind British students of Israel’s actions? Cooperation – well this was exactly what the Palestine Papers showed us, with the Israeli Government flagrantly refusing any compromise with the Palestinian Authority, even when they offered Jerusalem. Reconciliation – this is why Israel has broken all recent ceasefires with Hamas and planning Operation Cast Lead II, despite fervent international condemnation. Peace – exactly what Zionism promotes, right? But in reality what happened between Tuesday 22nd – Thursday 24th March? At Birmingham University the Zionists set up their wooden bridge, which was supposedly meant to emulate their “core principals” and they danced, gave out free falafel and sandwiches as well leaflets: a pretentious attempt to create a little peace-loving Israel. Simon Furse of the Birmingham Palestine Society has described it as a “complete failure” especially as they were trying to distort what was happening on the ground by claiming, "civilian casualties on both sides of the conflict are about equal." The Birmingham Jewish Society also hosted an event entitled “meet the Zionists,” where by accounts of attendees described the Zionists as “nice and open-minded individuals who didn’t always agree with the actions of their government” however another attendee records that “whenever someone from the audience criticized Israel they were quick to switch the topic and point to the corrupt Arab states especially Saudi Arabia out of all 24 countries. But at least we acknowledge our governments are corrupt and we are trying to change that with the Arab Uprising, whilst they are trying to cover it up and justify their government’s crimes.” In response to the Zionist Bus, the Birmingham Palestine Society set up a mock checkpoint which attracted much attention from students however it was reported that the Israeli camera crew would not stop filming the pro-Palestinian activists, and were intimidating many people who wanted to ask questions to the pro-Palestinian activists.

The Zionist “Battle Bus” also took their war to Goldsmiths University campus whereby the President of the Goldsmith’s Palestine Society, James Haywood described the event as so: "Without prior permission, a large group of Israeli students arrived on a battle bus to Goldsmiths on Monday (21st March 2011). They attempted to set up a marquee, which was promptly stopped by security, and then spent over an hour nailing together a five-foot bridge, causing complaints from nearby classrooms and utter confusion to the majority of students. The bridge was then moved to a distant spot on the backfield, and little more than leafleting took place. From the texts I was receiving and a glance at Facebook it seemed the majority of students were disgusted at what was taking place - whitewashing of Israel and vicious attacks on those who supported boycott. In the end we had students crying from the intimidation they had received from these Zionist students, and our Palestine stall at the Multiculturalism day event at the Student Union became filled with students wanting to read up our literature and buy things in solidarity." Goldsmith's Palestine University also carried out a mock checkpoint in response, reminding Zionist activists that it wasn't as simple as they were portraying all to be. 

Goldsmith's Mock Checkpoint

As Pro-Palestinian activists we must, and I believe we do, strive to understand the Zionist narrative, as it is quintessential to peace, as with this understanding that we can commit to dialogue. However such low and aggressive tactics by the Israeli State do not stretch the olive branch out any further. Indoctrinating British students with a dishonest and fabricated story of how Israel is committed to “Peace, reconciliation and cooperation” are not only contrary to its policy in the Occupied Territories but also highly distort and debase the truth. Instead of parading around British Universities as Lieberman’s mouthpiece building five-foot wooden bridges, handing out free falafel (which would do far more good to the thousands of hungry Palestinian orphans in Gaza) and simplifying the idea of peace by handing out pieces of the chocolate “peace cake”, these “nice and open-minded Zionists” should commit themselves to learning the Palestinian narrative, condemning Netanyahu’s promise of an Operation Cast Lead II and reading up on the human right’s and international law violations of their beloved Israel.

It is only natural that we all have a strong affinity with our countries, promise to protect her regardless and only want the best for her children; especially in the case of Israel where because of many reasons she has been highly disliked and threatened with liquidation. However I call out to all Israelis, Zionist or not, we all have an obligation towards humanity. When your country is murdering civilians behind the veneer that it is attacking Hamas’ military arsenal even though three babies end up dying (perhaps they were playing with some Molotov cocktails) and your country flagrantly defies international law with an iron wall, 146 illegal settlements, a siege on its occupied territory and constant bombardment of innocent civilians, but justifying all this under the false pretense that the Israeli Supreme Court says it is all in self-defense, you must stop and ask yourself whether violation of basic human rights can ever be justified with self-defense: forget international law, I am appealing to your moral conscience. 

The Bridge at Goldsmith's University 
This is why a Zionist “Battle Bus” does nothing for peace, nothing for truth and nothing for justice. If Israel is sincere in wanting peace then it will firstly have to help the Palestinians, and it is only this way that pro-Israeli activists and Israel, will attain the core principals that she supposedly strives for, “peace, reconciliation and cooperation.”

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

LSE Boycotts Eden Springs

Press Release

Eden Springs, a major water supply company will not have its contract renewed by the London School of Economics. This development comes off the back of a lengthy, high profile and controversial campaign launched by the LSE Students' Union Palestine Society, which has drawn attention to Eden Springs' odious business dealings in the Illegally Occupied Golan Heights. The LSE joins a number of UK Universities, including Edinburgh and Strathyclyde, whom have successfully cut all ties with Eden Springs.

The student campaign has been supported by academics, with over 19 LSE Academics, signing a joint letter which calls upon the School to terminate its links with Eden Springs “forthwith”.

Zachariah Sammour, President of the LSE SU Palestine Society, said 
“I'm delighted with the incredible pace of progress on this campaign and the widespread support it’s received from the students and academics of the LSE. I believe the success of this campaign demonstrates the deep commitment of LSE staff and students to ethical investment and global justice.

All academic departments formerly using Eden Springs as their water supplier have agreed not to renew their contracts, confirmation of which was received this past Friday.  The development is being hailed as a landmark victory for the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli companies, a campaign aimed at undermining the structural mechanisms that make the illegal Israeli Occupation possible.
Ashok Kumar, Education Officer of the LSE Students Union, speaking in his personal capacity said,
 “This is a monumental victory for human rights because it understands, as with South Africa, the direct linkages between profiteering companies and a State that violates international law. Indeed, this is the first step in a long journey for the LSE.”

Students at the LSE will continue to pursue a Campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli companies who continue to feed the machinery of Occupation.  

Monday, 21 March 2011

Pioneering Justice For Palestine

By Ruhell Amin
Warwick Palestine Society

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) is a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain. They oppose Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people, and are organised to ensure that Jewish opinions critical of Israeli policy are heard in Britain. The existence, founding and beliefs of such a group, epitomises how isolated Israel is becoming; not only in the international community, but also amongst Jewish people themselves. Since 1967, the Jewish State has been accused of engaging in some form of “neo-colonialism” by Jewish Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, Avi Shlaim. Shlaim is a prominent critic of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians post-1967, and it is not hard to see why. 

The massacre of over 1500 Palestinians in the Gaza invasion in December 2008 signified a major turning point for many regarding the conflict. Some argue it was a tactically timed attack by Israel; just prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration as US President, of whom no doubt would (and has) have been more hostile towards Israeli policy in the region, in comparison to the previous Bush administration. Even the most sanguine of commentators were relegated to criticism of Israel: the bombing of UN schools; the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians (both women and children); the use of white phosphorous shells (an illegal weapon under international law); and the calculated obliteration of Gazan infrastructure (schools, hospitals, government buildings, educational institutions) goes far in suggesting that there was a wider, more menacing agenda behind the “official” Operation Cast Lead. Indeed, the Israeli government defiantly argued that the operation was necessary in order to stamp out sporadic, resistant rocket attacks alleged to have come from the democratically elected government of Gaza, Hamas. Yet what many fail to recognise is that this brutal attack was, by and large unprovoked; it was Israel who broke the mutually agreed ceasefire in November 2008, not Hamas. This fuels further suspicion behind the motives of Operation Cast Lead. 

The United Nations' Goldstone Report – the most credible report post the invasion - conducted by Richard Goldstone, a South African born Jewish judge, concluded that the Israeli Defense Force was guilty of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. He responded to Israeli criticism of the report in May 2010 by saying that: "As Israel refused to co-operate, we had to do the best we could with the information we were able to gather. I only wish that the energy that the government of Israel and its supporters had put into discrediting the report had been invested in cooperating with our mission”. 

Since the invasion of Gaza, a military blockade remains imposed on the strip, where crucial building supplies, medical aid and most foodstuffs are severely restricted from being allowed in. Human rights groups among others have voiced considerable concern over the deteriorating situation, none more so than US Vice-President Hilary Clinton, who described the situation in Gaza in June 2010 as “unsustainable and unacceptable”. The freedom of movement under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the right to education under Article 26, are just some of the many human rights being violated in the strip. 

As pioneers of justice, equality and freedom, it is imperative upon us in the West to make a stand for Palestinians’ human rights, as it is these very rights which are rooted in the fabric of our society. The illegal occupation, as dictated by international law in the West Bank, along with the expansionist settler movement colonising Palestinian land, must end. The blockade imposed on Gaza violating basic human rights, must end. The silence and double standards of the West towards the abhorrent actions of Israel, must end. Palestinians must be afforded the integrity and dignity that all human beings deserve. The menacing nature of Israel’s policies are beginning to seep through amidst the suffocating swamp of pro-Zionist propaganda. 

Let us just hope that policy-makers and pioneers of justice wake from their slumber and act soon, ensuring that justice is well and truly brought to the Palestinians.

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything” – Malcolm X