Edinburgh SPSC Newsletter July 2013
Edinburgh branch activities in June 2013
It was with sadness that we heard the news that writer Iain Banks passed away on 9th June. The great Scottish novelist and staunch supporter of Palestinian rights died after a period of illness. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and will remember him with gratitude for bringing the plight of the people of Palestine to the notice of the wider public.
Here again is his article in The Guardian from April this year in which he explains his support for a cultural boycott of Israel. Read also the tribute from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Mahmoud Sarsak In Scotland
June began with the arrival in Scotland of Mahmoud Sarsak on a tour of speaking engagements. The Palestinian footballer, who went on hunger strike last year in protest at his illegal imprisonment and torture by Israel, arrived to a warm welcome at Waverley Station on Saturday 1st June.
He then went to Tynecastle Stadium where only a year before his name echoed from protesters in the stands during the Scotland v Israel women's football international. So it was fitting that he presented an amateur Hibernian side with the Edinburgh 'Rivals4Charity' trophy at Tynecastle after their 3-0 defeat of a Hearts select.
Scott Moncrieff, a Rivals4Charity tournament organiser said that they were honoured that Mahmoud had taken time out to present the medals at the charity event. Moncrieff said “Scotland is trying hard to eradicate racism from our terraces, and clearly Mahmoud’s campaign deserves the support of anti-racists everywhere.”
The 1st June was an extremely busy day for Edinburgh SPSC as members also took part in the Unite Against Fascism protest against the presence of the Scottish Defence League outside the Scottish Parliament. Then immediately afterwards we held our monthly stall at Sainsbury's in Rose St as part of the UK Sainsbury’s campaign. We have another stall this coming Saturday 6th July, 2-4pm but this time in Bruntsfield.
There was a reception for Mahmoud the next evening on Sunday 2nd June in Leith and a meal was organised for SPSC members and others as an opportunity to relax and welcome him to Edinburgh. In the following days he addressed a series of meetings in Scotland about his experience as a political prisoner (report of the meeting in Edinburgh below).
Stop the JNF campaign
On Tuesday 4th June, Mahmoud was at Cowan's Law in Ayrshire where the 'Stop the JNF' campaign continued its successful protests against the racist JNF. No longer able to use Bonnyton Golf Club in Glasgow after annual protests, this year and last the JNF retreated into the wilds of Ayrshire for a "charity shoot" that proved to be a complete mis-fire.
Mahmoud Sarsak speaks in Edinburgh
On the following Tuesday 11th June it was standing room only at the Quaker Meeting House in Victoria Terrace to hear Mahmoud and other speakers on the need to kick Israel out of UEFA. In particular to condemn the hypocrisy of UEFA's decision to award Israel the hosting of the Under-21 Championships which took place last month. A sporting body that boasts of its strong anti-racist credentials should not be granting a prestigious tournament to this apartheid state where institutional racism and discrimination are part of its everyday fabric.
Tony Higgins, Scottish representative of FIFPro, the international footballers' union and Jackie MacNamara Snr the ex-Hibernian and Celtic legend attended the meeting with Tony speaking from the platform. Mahmoud highlighted the oppression of Palestinian sport and his own treatment by the Israelis. As Edinburgh SPSC member Albie O'Neill commented "to sit and listen first hand to what Mahmoud went through was quite breathtaking" and Hussein Ezzedine added "A truly memorable talk, Mahmoud was inspiring"
Here is an interview that Mahmoud conducted with the Sunday Herald newspaper.
SPSC Residential Weekend
A gathering of minds took place at Comrie, Perthshire last month for a free and open discussion. Mahmoud Sarsak also attended to talk about Palestinian prisoners. Over the weekend there was a creative exchange of opinions and fresh ideas on how the SPSC can move forward in supporting the Palestinians. There were sessions on boycott in general, and on G4S and the Aberdeen-based Wood Group. There were also sessions on the ill effects of international aid, on the nature of Zionism and on the impact on the campaign of the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence.
The Lajee Cultural Tour
On Thursday 20th June the young dancers from the Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem visited the Church of Scotland General Assembly building in Edinburgh. Inside the building in May the General Assembly had voted overwhelmingly to reaffirm their support of the right of ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
Two days earlier the Lajee Group were hosted at an event at Old St Pauls Church in Jeffrey St. There was a photography exhibition of pictures that had been taken in the Occupied Territories by their members followed by a presentation and performance of traditional Dabka dancing.
Scottish PSC joins with the Palestinian refugees of Aida Camp in asking all religious institutions in Scotland and abroad - churches, mosques, synagogues - to follow the lead of the Church of Scotland and publicly declare their support of the Palestinians' inalienable right of return.
Generation Palestine Book Launch
As announced previously Edinburgh was the venue for the Scottish launch of this important book on Palestine and BDS with contributions from the late Iain Banks, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, film direcor Ken Loach, BDS founder Omar Barghouti, Ramzy Baroud and Mick Napier of the SPSC . The launch took place on Sunday 23rd June at the Augustine Church on the George IV Bridge. The editor Rich Wiles spoke about the importance of BDS at this stage of the campaign to support human rights – as borne out by the contributions to the book.
Upcoming actions and events in Edinburgh this July
June was a busy month. Mahmoud Sarsak, the Lajee Cultural youth group and Rich Wiles have inspired us by their contributions and sharing of their experiences of Israel’s occupation, colonisation and apartheid. We must now move ourselves toward action, our sympathy is not enough.
1. Thursday 4th July, 7.30pm: Edinburgh SPSC Monthly Branch Meeting
Our next branch meeting takes place on Thursday 4th July at 7.30pm at St John's Church on the corner of Princes St and Lothian Rd.
Have you been to one of our regular meetings before? If not, have you thought about coming along? It's a perfect introduction to the Edinburgh SPSC and you'll find a warm and friendly welcome in relaxed surroundings.
The members will be happy to offer their knowledge about Palestine and answer any questions you may have. Our discussions will include building for future events, protests and campaigns. Come along on Thursday and join us.
• Sainsbury's Campaign day of action Saturday 6th July (Bruntsfield, 2-4pm)
• Sodastream UK day of action 13th July
• BDS in councils meeting 20 July
• Planning for August, events and actions during international festivals
• Possible campaigns for branch: Wood Group; G4S; letter writing to prisoners
• Support for Church of Scotland
2. Saturday 6th July, 2-4pm : Sainsbury's Campaign
This important BDS campaign continues. The Sainsbury’s campaign was launched in February as part of an international ‘Farming Injustice’ day of action highlighting the role of companies complicit in Israel’s illegal settlements.
These companies are being awarded contracts by our local supermarkets. Our action continues against Sainsbury's and we are calling them to account on their ethical trading policy.
On Facebook you can keep up to date with the UK national campaign at this link: Sainsbury's - say no to farming injustice
In the meantime, sign the petition to Sainsbury’s
3. Saturday, July 20th, 12.00pm: Taking the Palestinian Call for BDS to Scottish Local Councils
This workshop will analyse how three Scottish Local Authority Councils were won over to support Palestinian human rights and the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. It will also look at how similar efforts might be successful elsewhere.
The workshop is open to anyone interested in campaigning for BDS in their Local Authority Council, whether you are an elected Councillor or a concerned voter and Council Tax payer. Many people often say that politics and politicians won't change anything, This, of course, is not true. They are our elected representatives, as tax-payers we pay their wages and as public servants they work for us. We can vote them in and we can vote them out.
Learn how to use your power as a constituent and how you can make a difference. Local actions produce local results, small victories feed greater success. That is the essence of BDS in building from the grassroots and challenging those in authority to do the right thing. True Democracy representing real feelings among ordinary people.
Full details here, including the timetable.
The SPSC Summer Newsletter is now out!
SPSC newsletter is a quarterly publication, aimed at spreading the word about current campaigns and initiatives in solidarity with Palestinians, the victims of gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the Zionist occupation with the complicity of the UK government. Please click to viewprevious issues
* 'Entering the danger zone: Gaza under fire again' by Rafat Abushaban
* 'Zionism as a settler colonial project' by Mick Napier
* 'Planned protests force cancellation of JNF and Friends of the IDF fundraiser in St Andrews'
* 'Why I joined SPSC'
* 'No man's land' by Emma Eaton
* 'Reopen al-Shuhada street' by Zayneb Ashalalfeh
* 'Crushing defeat for Israel lobby as anti-boycott litigation fails in UK' by Asa Winstanley
* 'The Russell Tribunal: the verdict over Israeli human rights violations' by Ronnie Barkan
* 'Land Day and the Jewish National Fund'
* 'The Almond Tree' reviewed by Phil Chetwynd
* 'Culture and solidarity - a photograher's view'
* 'Twitter trending campaign in support of Palestinian prisoners' by Winslie Gomez
* 'Lobbying the good, the bad and the ugly' by Mick Napier
Newsletters will also be available at Scottish PSC stalls and events.
Are you a member of Scottish PSC? If not join here . We need you!
Read: 'Why I joined Scottish PSC'
Read regular updates on what's happening here in Edinburgh. Join our Facebook page. Edinburgh SPSC Facebook Group
There are almost daily updates on what's happening in your area.
And keep checking and clicking on the SPSC website. http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk Look out for new articles about Palestine and Israel with more detailed information published regularly on our calendar of events this summer and autumn.
"The solution to the dispossession and persecution of one people can never be to dispossess and persecute another. When we do this, or participate in this, or even just allow this to happen without criticism or resistance, we only help ensure further injustice, oppression, intolerance, cruelty and violence in the future." (Iain Banks)