Thursday 7th July 2011: NO EMBARGO
The reaction by Israeli officials to a plan by Europeans and other internationals to visit
Around 700 European and US citizens are due to land in Tel-Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport tomorrow en route to the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Rather than conceal their intention to visit
According to the Jerusalem Post, “Such a response is likely to ensure… deportation.”
According to Haaretz, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netenyahu “has ordered Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to exert all efforts to prevent an infiltration into
However, Mick Napier, UK co-ordinator of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative, said “Israel’s reaction to this visit by British citizens and other internationals shows that its blockade is not restricted to Gaza, but extends to the West Bank as well.”
“About 600 men, women and children will try to get to
Notes for editors:
1. “Welcome to
The English-language section of the French website can be accessed here: http://bienvenuepalestine.com/?page_id=232
According to the group:
However, having nothing to hide, and coming with totally peaceful intentions, we have decided that we are no longer willing to lie in order to do something that no other state would consider illegal.
Government agencies have been informed, and the Israeli authorities have been forwarded all information on our intentions.
Contrary to claims that we aim “to spread chaos at Tel Aviv airport”, our only aim is visit Palestinian families, share their daily life for a week, visit the towns, villages and refugee camps, discover the difficulties encountered by their inhabitants, and experience their culture and expectations.
2. The date of the 'fly-in' was chosen to coincide with the 7th anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in 2004 that Israel's West Bank wall, which today almost completely encircles the city of Bethlehem, is illegal.
The ICJ ruling can be found here: www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf
3a. The UK co-ordinator of the initiative is Mick Napier, who, along with the majority of international participants, is due to arrive in Ben Gurion Airport on Friday July 8th.
Mick Napier is the chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and can be contacted on:
00 44 (0)7931200361
3b. Sofiah Macleod is the UK-based contact for press enquiries.
Sofiah Macleod: + 44 (0)7958002591 or + 44 (0)131 620 0052 or + 44 (0) 7401631658
4. Updates will be available on:
and Twitter @scottishpsc
“700 pro-Palestinian activists plan to land in Ben-Gurion”
6. Netenyahu position from:
Haaretz, Wednesday 6th July 2011:
7. Statement from Netenyahu’s office:
Maan News Agency, Tuesday 5th July 2011:
The real preachers of hate
Jonathan Cook: 4 July 2011
"Israel's legal system, despite its reputation for presuming that Palestinian citizens are habitual security offenders, has found Sheikh Salah guilty neither of anti-Semitism nor of directly helping terrorists. So why is Britain being even 'more Israeli than the Israelis', as two Arab members of the Israeli parliament caustically observed?"
He is an Islamic "preacher of hate" whose views reflect "virulent anti-Semitism" and who has funded Hamas terror operations, according to much of the British media.
The furore last week over Sheikh Raed Salah, described by the Daily Mail newspaper as a "vile militant extremist", goaded the British government into ordering his late-night arrest, pending a fast-track deportation. The raid on his hotel, from which he was taken handcuffed to a police cell, came shortly before he was due to address a meeting in the British parliament attended by several MPs.
The outcry in Britain against Sheikh Salah has shocked Israel's 1.3-million Palestinian citizens. For them, he is a spiritual leader and head of a respected party, the Islamic Movement. He is also admired by the wider Palestinian public. The secular Fatah movement, including Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority's prime minister, were among those condemning his arrest.
Many Palestinians, like millions of Muslims in the Middle East, revere Sheikh Salah for his campaign to protect Muslim and Christian holy places from Israel's neglectful, and more often abusive, policies. They struggle to recognise the British media's characterisation of him as an Osama Bin Laden-like figure.
Most in Israel's Jewish majority would not have been aware of Sheikh Salah's supposed reputation as a Jew hater either, despite their hyper-vigilance for anything resembling anti-Semitism. True, he is generally loathed by Israeli Jews, but chiefly because they regard his brand of Islamic dogma as incompatible with the state ideology of Jewish supremacism. They fear him as the leader of a local Islam that refuses to be tamed. Those Israelis who conclude that this qualifies him as an anti-Semite do so only because they class all pious Muslims in the same category.
Israeli officials detest Sheikh Salah as well, but again not for any alleged racism. His long-running campaign to prevent what he regards as an attempted Israeli takeover of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound – part of a wider "Judaisation" programme in the occupied areas of the city – has made him a thorn in their side.
In other words, Israeli Jews view Sheikh Salah as an inveterate trouble-maker and provocateur, while the country's Palestinian minority accuse Israel of persecuting him for his political and religious beliefs.
The British media and government, meanwhile, have stumbled cluelessly into this domestic Israeli feud and, in the name of Enlightenment values, revealed their own deep prejudices. The humiliation of Sheikh Salah at the hands of the British legal system – supposedly in the interests of promoting "decency and respect" – will serve only to remind Muslims of the hypocrisy so often evident in Western policy.
The double standards are especially glaring given the British government's recent pledge to Israel to change its universal jurisdiction laws. That move will ensure Israel's growing constituency of suspected war criminals avoid any future threat of prosecution in the UK, receiving a far warmer welcome than Sheikh Salah.
Perhaps not surprisingly, opposition in the UK to the sheikh's presence stems from a campaign of character assassination led by pro-Israel groups.
They have accused him of a "blood libel" against Jews, based on information from dubious sources. When these claims were aired in Israel several years ago, Sheikh Salah was investigated and charged. However, the prosecution was dropped a short time later for lack of credible evidence.
The other allegation – that he funded Hamas terror operations – relies on claims orginally made by the Israeli government in 2003 during one of his many arrests. Although the state had reportedly accumulated 200,000 recordings of Islamic Movement phone calls, they never located in the conversations the smoking gun they expected to find.
Instead Sheikh Salah languished in jail for two years while his trial dragged on, the charges repeatedly reduced because promised evidence could not be produced. Eventually he agreed to a plea bargain in return for his release. He was convicted of funding Islamic charities for widows and orphans – loosely declared "support for terror" under Israel's punitive crackdown on all Islamic networks, including welfare groups, in the occupied territories.
Israel's legal system, despite its reputation for presuming that Palestinian citizens are habitual security offenders, has found Sheikh Salah guilty neither of anti-Semitism nor of directly helping terrorists.
So why is Britain being even "more Israeli rather than the Israelis", as two Arab members of the Israeli parliament caustically observed?
One reason is that Britain appears to be increasingly vulnerable to the influence of the pro-Israel lobby. Unfounded claims against Sheikh Salah were first made by the Jewish media in Britain, which has become an uncritical cheerleader for Israel, and by the Board of Deputies, Britain's representative body for Jews.
Another reason is that the pro-Israel lobby finds it all too easy to exploit Islamophobic tropes that have come to dominate the public discourse in many Western countries, including Britain. Fears of a clash of civilisations and of Muslim immigration mean every Islamic scholar and authority is automatically assumed to be another "mad mullah".
This approach threatens the very values it claims to be protecting. It silences those who are best placed to critique Western policies – the victims of them; and it refuses to allow the West's most cherished assumptions to be questioned, rightfully fearing that in some cases they will be exposed as nothing more than bigotry.
It is worth highlighting a point British commentators overlooked in their coverage of Sheikh Salah. He was coming to the parliament, the cradle of British democracy, to talk not about jihad or infidels but about "building peace and justice in Jerusalem".
His message is one Western publics desperately need to hear but one that Israel and its supporters keenly want silenced. Thanks to the British media and government, for a while longer Britons will be shielded from a real discussion.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, and the winner of this year's Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
Original article here
CONTACT YOUR MP to protest Israel's blockade of the West Bank. Click here
The Welcome to
Supporters of human rights from around the world took up an invitation from Palestine to visit families and farmers in
The July 8th 2011 date of the 'fly-in' was chosen to coincide with the 7th anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in 2004 that Israel's West Bank wall, which today almost completely encircles the city of Bethlehem, is illegal.
Rather than conceal their intention to travel to the
As is invariably the case,
As flights landed from around the world, participants were detained, arrested, and most remain in Israeli prisons at this time (1655 Mon 11th July 2011). See SPSC media release: DESMOND TUTU CALLS FOR ARMS EMBARGO AS
1700 Mon 11th July:
At 83, the oldest
Reports that other britons were on the same flight are erroneous.
Mick Napier has issued a statement saying Israel's hysterical overreaction has backfired, here
1700hrs, Tue 12/7/11: All but four of the 13 UK nationals are being deported tonight. Details here
2350hrs: 6 UK nationals and two US citizens landed at Luton Airport after being deported by Israel earlier. See video. Four UK nationals remain in Israeli prison while they contest their deportation. The four, all Welsh, include the deputy leader of the Welsh Green Party, Pippa Bartolotti, Joyce Giblin, Fiona Williams, and Dee Murphy.
1500hrs Thursday 14/7/11: Reports suggest that 3 of the four Welsh women have been secretly deported by Israel, and that the fourth and final UK citizen, Dee Murphy, is expected to arrive back tonight at 8pm. See press releae from Swansea Palestine Action here.
More info on these sites:
Call for support pre-July 8th
While governments are working to stop the flotilla, there's currently another initiative to challenge
The Jerusalem Post states boldly today what everyone knows but which has been ignored by the EU and the UN. A
Scots will be part of the group going from the
(a) putting pressure on the Israeli government to allow our peaceful passage and
It's as easy as 1-2-3 to write to your MP by means of this website :
1 - Under "Select a campaign", choose the button "Support
2 - Under "Find your MP", enter your postcode; click the button "Find your MP"
3 - Complete the details on the new page and submit. You can amend the text of the e-mail if you feel like it.
Article 13.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to leave any country". Preventing flotilla ships from leaving Greek ports is a clear violation of this human right.
"Greece has no right to detain foreign-flagged ships in its ports other than for purposes of assuring seaworthiness via timely inspection. And they cannot interfere with 'innocent passage' through their territorial waters, and this passage is definitely innocent," said Richard Falk, American professor of international law and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories.
"Greece's position is disturbing but this should not divert our attention from Israel and its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza. Israel is the source of the problem and it will be held accountable by the international community -- sooner or later," said Sandra Ruch, from the Tahrir steering committee.
Support actions have been and continue to be held at Greek consulates all over Canada (as well as in cities all over the world) calling on the Greek government to end its support of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and immediately lift the blockade it is imposing on the Flotilla boats from Greece's ports.
The Canadian Boat to Gaza has sent a letter to all Greek MPs asking them to let the flotilla boats go:
It's not just the Greek Government; the EU as a whole, including the UK Government, together with the UN, Russia and the US are working to defeat the flotilla of peaceful activists protesting the brutal crimes against the people of Gaza and Palestine. Israel uses criminal methods to sabotage the boats of the flotilla, and commits a host of daily crimes against the people of Palestine. Palestinians themselves have committed two crimes: the first was to be living on land coveted by colonists; the second was to resist their displacement and dispossession. The long record of European powers in attacking and colonising people all over the world whose lands and resources they coveted is now being replayed in Palestine, this time through the determined support of European governments for the Israeli project to replace all Palestinians, as far as is possible, with Jewish immigrants.
The states of the EU are supporting the state of Israel. Tony Blair's job is just to go around rubbing salt in open wounds.