At the GA, fundraisers eye a Jewish earthquake Haaretz 9 Nov 2011
By Chemi Shalev

"In so many sessions, professionals and activists young and old expressed both weariness and wariness from an Israel-centered acrimony in their communities that has spun out of control......they are faced with the double challenge of younger donors who are increasingly hesitant to contribute to Jewish causes, in general, and to Israel, in particular..."

Deep unease about Israel's diminishing hold over US JewsThe traditional way for Israeli reporters to cover American Jewish events, such as this week’s General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), is to wax cynical about the legions of unproductive functionaries - “machers”, in our jargon - who make a good living out of selling a ridiculously idyllic version of Israel to gullible American Jews.

And while one can’t deny that there were intermittent flashes of this time-honored Israeli narrative at the GA held in Denver this week, the majority of the 3000 or so participants appeared to this observer to be intelligent, hard-working Jewish professionals and volunteers who are genuinely concerned about Israel and about their own Jewish communities and who are truly troubled by the tectonic shifts that are rocking the foundations of both.

...they are faced with the double challenge of younger donors who are increasingly hesitant to contribute to Jewish causes, in general, and to Israel, in particular...

On the community level, they are at a loss to cope with the divisive internal debate which has, in some cases, effectively shut down meaningful discussion of Israeli affairs altogether.

Perhaps the most poignant manifestation of this distress came ...when a young female student recounted in a quivering voice how she felt “betrayed” by the inexplicable discrepancy between the idealized vision of Israel that she had been raised on and the reality on the ground that she sees today.

In so many sessions, professionals and activists young and old expressed both weariness and wariness from an Israel-centered acrimony in their communities that has spun out of control...

...diminished appropriation of funds for Israel ...The glum faces of the officials of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), once the epitome and the exclusive beneficiary of Israel-focused fundraising, were a clear indication not only of their own organization’s potentially terminal condition but also of the dangers facing other time-honored institutions – including the centrality of Israel itself in American Jewish life - as the tremors build up and the earthquake approaches.

Full report in Haaretz 9 Nov 2011

Contrary to Israeli claims that the takeover of the two Freedom boats Tahrir and MV Saoirse by the Israeli navy was peaceful, organisers of this latest Freedom Wave to Gaza say it was aggressive and dangerous. The two boats were violently intercepted in international waters, says Michael Coleman, an Australian aboard the Tahrir, who is currently imprisoned in Israel.

Organisers in Sydney are outraged, saying Israeli forces water-cannoned, tasered, beat and shackled activists on the Canadian ship Tahrir who were seeking to challenge Israel’s illegal naval blockade of Gaza.

Dr Fintan Lane of the Irish boat MV Saoirse reportedly said: "The boats were corralled to such an extent that the two boats collided with each other and were damaged, with most of the damage happening to the MV Saoirse."

Michael Coleman was finally able to speak for just over a minute to his father John Coleman on Sunday after nearly 40 hours in Israeli detention. Michael told his father: "We were intercepted in international waters, illegally boarded by about 30 armed Israeli troops and forcibly taken to Israel against our expressed will. We were assaulted and thrown around. I had my arm twisted hard up my back. One activist was tasered."

"We have been hand-cuffed and shackled, sleep-deprived, with our watches impounded and the clock in the prison set to the wrong time. This is all designed to disorient and demoralise us. But our spirits are high. We are political prisoners, defending the rights of Palestinians. We have refused to sign any statement that we came illegally to Israel. We were headed for Gaza, not Israel. We were forcibly, violently and illegally taken to Israel against our will," he said.

Many goodwill messages for Michael have been received. Australian journalist, writer and film-maker, John Pilger wrote: "Be assured the great majority of humanity is with you in spirit; …All power to you."

Australian writer and journalist Antony Loewenstein wrote: "The silence of the political and media elites over both Michael's imprisonment and the suffering of the Gazan people proves how Zionist ideology has corrupted our democratic process."

Spokesperson Vivienne Porzsolt says: "We are calling for the immediate release of Michael and the other brave activists. The maltreatment of international peace activists is unacceptable but pales in comparison with the treatment of Palestinians by Israel. Just last week 9 Palestinians were killed and 2 more yesterday."

"Initiatives like the Freedom Waves would be unnecessary if Israel would finally end this illegal blockade. Western governments, including Australia, must hold Israel accountable for its defiance of international law," said Ms Porzsolt. “Israel’s impunity must stop.”

For more information, contact:
Vivienne Porzsolt 0411 366 295
Kate Ausburn 0423 914 543
James Godfrey 0424 340 630

Website: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Facebook:      Twitter: @GFFAusGroup


 Appeal from human rights activists kidnapped to Israel

Dear sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones,  I write to you from cell 9, block 59 Givon Prison near Ramla in Occupied Palestine. Although I was tasered during the assault on the Tahrir, and bruised during forcible removal dockside (I am limping slightly as a result) I am basically ok. We, Ehab, Michael, Karen from Tahrir, as well as Karen, Kit (US) and Jihan who we saw briefly this morning. We are most concerned about our Tahrir shipmate, Palestinian Majd Kayyal from Haifa, last seen by us at Ashdod being photographed and put in a police car.*

Although Michael and I (among others) were transported in handcuffs and leg shackles, let me stress that we are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel. Four from the Tahrir are imprisoned with 12 Irish comrades from the Saoirse, who have more experience with such issues. The four of us, Ehab and I (Cdn), Michael (Aus) and Hassan (UK) have joined with the Irish in their political prisoners' committee in order to press our collective demands:

• association in the block - i.e. open cells
• adequate writing and reading material
• free communication with outside world - i.e. regular phone calls
• information about shipmate women held at same prison
We add one Tahrir-specific demand: that Israeli state recognize the professional status of Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz in accordance with her credentials from the US government.

All political incarceration is unjust but let me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the open air prison of Gaza.

If you have energy to devote to solidarity actions in the coming days, please concentrate on them. We must get Tahrir back and hope Freedom Waves continue.
Free Majd Kayyal! Free all political prisoners! Free Gaza! Free Palestine!

Stay human, in love and struggle,


* Majd Kayyal was released, but it appears David the other political prisoners weren't told where he was taken.

by Glasgow Caledonian Palestine Society, 31 October 2011

Glasgow Caledonian Palestine Society are delighted that Eden Springs no longer provide water anywhere on our campus.

Mayanot Eden (The Israeli parent company of Eden Springs UK) extract water from the Salukia spring and bottle in the illegal Israeli settlement of Katzrin, both in the illegally occupied Syrian Golan Heights. That Eden Springs UK and Eden Europe provide locally sourced treated water in no way absolves them of the crimes of the parent company and for us they are the same company.

As an Israeli company, even if it was not involved in these terrible crimes, Eden Springs must, we believe, be boycotted and divested from under the precepts of the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it adheres to International law by: Ending the Occupation of all Arab lands & dismantling the Apartheid Wall, Granting full and equal rights to Palestinians in Israel and acknowledging and facilitating the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees under UN resolution 194.

We view this not only from the perspective of the crimes against the Golani Syrians or the principles of BDS but the dual, often inter-connected impact of illegal settlements and Israeli control of vital water resources on the life of Palestinians (in terms of water) the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Every time we saw that Eden Springs logo we would think of Palestinian Bedouins in the Jordan Valley clinging to survival in absence of water re-routed to the settlements, our friends in Aida Refugee camp going weeks or months without water and the situation we are aware of in Gaza.

Statement from student president:

“I am delighted to see that the hard work and diligence of both students and University staff has led to the removal of Eden Springs from the GCU campus. The campaign began in the 2007-08 Academic Session when students introduced the motion to Student Parliament, effectively mandating the Executive Committee to put pressure on the University to cancel its contract
with Eden Springs for the supply of drinking water and coolers. Since then successive Executive Committees and the Palestine Society have been lobbying for the removal of the supplier whose Israeli parent company, Mayanot Eden markets and distributes the water from the Golan Heights, an area of Syria, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967 and move to more environmentally sustainable piped-in water. The success of this campaign demonstrates the deep commitment of GCU students and staff to global justice, ethical procurement and environmental sustainability”, Matte Andrews, Student President, Glasgow Caledonian University

We thank Matte for his statement and would add thanks to his predecessor, who on the back of the occupation of nearby Strathclyde Uni during the Gaza massacre (from which they got rid of Eden Springs) got a motion through parliament to get Eden out of the Student Association building with immediate effect as well as to campaign for campus-wide removal. We’d also thank last terms president for keeping this going and giving some legitimacy, if you like, to the Palestine Societies campaigning.

John Bennett, President and on behalf of Glasgow Caledonian University Palestine Society

Welcome to Palestine Initiative 2012

The challenge to Israel’s illegal siege of Palestine has to move from words to deeds; a small flotilla of boats challenge the siege of Gaza by sea and the Welcome to Palestine 2012 initiative will fly in to Tel Aviv Airport on April 15th to insist on the rights of all Palestinians to freely receive visitors from abroad. Hopefully, hundreds of international visitors will celebrate with Palestinian friends on that Sunday a tiny progress towards the realisation of their full human rights.

Archbishop Desmond TutuThe Israelis may, however, as in 2011, imprison air travellers without charge for trying to go openly to Palestine, but the numbers and international scope this time will make it much more difficult and politically costly for them. If, in addition, international air carriers agree to act as auxiliary prison guards for Israel’s illegal occupation by refusing boarding to some ticket-holders in our home countries, we will know how deal through the courts and otherwise with this violation of our rights to travel.

As with other countries, UK involvement in WtP 2012 will be much greater than last year. Most will be participating for the first time, but some will be veterans of WtP2011. Organisers are already in place in London, the North of England, Wales, Scotland and elsewhere to be a point of recruitment, to fundraise, to set up support systems here, to liaise with Palestinian and Israeli welcomers, and to organise the groups that will fly into Tel Aviv Airport on April 15th from many airports internationally. Join us.

Read the endorsement of WtP 2012 from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky and many others:

"We, the undersigned, endorse the call from the Welcome to Palestine 2012 initiative for supporters of Palestinian human and national rights around the world to openly visit Palestine during Easter 2012.
There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors.
Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel's policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population.
We call on governments to support the right of Palestinians to receive visitors and the right of their own citizens to visit Palestine openly.
The participants in Welcome to Palestine 2012 ask to be allowed to pass through Tel Aviv airport without hindrance and to proceed to the West Bank to take part in a project there for children to benefit from the right to education."
Sam Bahour / Tony Benn / Noam Chomsky / Jonathan Cook / Stephane Hessel / Ronnie Kasrils / Nurit Peled / John Pilger / Nawal Al Sadaawi / Vauro Senesi / Desmond Tutu

St Andrews University debating society debated the rather undebatable motion "This house believes that there will be no peace until the settlements stop’

Ran Gidor, political affairs attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London, opposed the motion,claiming that Israel wants peace. Gidor was joined by a student from the University.

 Two members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign represented the opposing side. Jan Benvie and Mick Napier, vice chair and Chair respectively.

Full debate here

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Israel and Settler Society by Lorenzo Veracini

The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not unique -- whatever the news media may suggest. Lorenzo Veracini argues that the conflict is best understood in terms of colonialism. Like many other societies, Israel is a settler society. Looking in detail at the evolution of other colonial regimes -- apartheid South Africa, French Algeria and Australia -- Veracini presents a thoughtful interpretation of the dynamics of colonialism, offering a clear framework within which to understand the middle east crisis.