Labour is suppressing Palestinian voices and free speech on Israel, warns open letter

UK Labour Party Logo [File photo]
UK Labour Party Logo [File photo]

An open letter signed by over 20 prominent British Palestinians, including academics, journalists, businessmen, philanthropists, musicians and lawyers, expressing concern over the shrinking space in the Labour Party to discuss the Palestinian struggle.

They voiced concern over the Labour leadership’s decision to adopt the controversial IHRA definition of anti-Semitism without reference to the concerns regarding the threat it poses to the right of Palestinians and of party members to advocate for justice for the Palestinian people.

Kenneth Stern, one of the drafters of the definition, has warned of the dangers of weaponising the IHRA code which conflates anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel in 11 of the 13 examples cited in it. The code has also been heavily criticised by Palestinian civil society as well as over 80 BAME organisations, including Black Lives Matter UK, prominent members of the Jewish community, leading lawyers and academic experts on anti-Semitism and the Institute for Race Relations.

Despite these concerns, Labour’s new General Secretary David Evans recently wrote to all  Constituency Labour Party (CLPs) proscribing any debate or discussion about the definition.

The letter notes that the signatories had previously expressed their fears over “how the space to publicly bring the facts of the Palestinian people’s history and ongoing dispossession into the public domain was under severe threat.” They explained that this chilling effect over discussions about Israel had penetrated the Labour Party, which prompted their decision to write a second letter.

“We believe that an internationalist Labour Party has a special responsibility to redress the ongoing injustices against the Palestinian people,” said the open letter noting that the indigenous people of the territory were “denied their right to self-determination during the British Mandate because of the role Britain played as a colonial power leading up to the 1948 Nakba, when Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes.

READ: Pro-Netanyahu UK Jewish board denounces ‘divisive’ Labour for demanding sanctions on Israel

The letter praised Labour’s position over Israel’s ongoing annexation but also expressed deep concerns over the party’s direction. “We remain deeply concerned about steps being taken which will only serve to shrink the space in the Labour party for British Palestinians and other members to assert their rights to campaign for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people,” the letter added.

“We respectfully but unequivocally reject any assertion that dealing with antisemitism must necessarily reverse policy commitments to protect Palestinian rights.”

Respect for Palestinian rights is not incompatible with the struggle against racism and antisemitism; in fact, it is integral to that struggle.”

Expressing their concerns over the conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, the letter added: “Zionism is a political ideology and movement that has led to our dispossession and that sustains a state that discriminates against us and denies us our collective rights whether as victims of military occupation, unequal citizens of the Israeli state or living in exile as refugees denied the right of return to our homeland.”

The signatories said they were “alarmed” by the way in which IHRA is being used across Labour councils, noting how the controversial code had been used to “limit the rights of Palestinians, and of others advocating on their behalf”.

The letter concluded by insisting on the rights of Palestinians to describe the nature of their oppression freely without suppression of their free-speech. “We reiterate our call that the right of Palestinians to accurately describe our experiences of dispossession and oppression, to criticise the nature and structure of the state that continues to oppress us and to openly criticise the ideology of Zionism which informs the actions, policies and laws of that state be upheld both as a right of a people under oppression and as a right of freedom of expression respected and supported by the Labour Party leadership,” the letter concluded.

READ: UK’s Trade Union Congress passes anti-apartheid motion against Israel

(Source / 20.09.2020)

Lawsuit accuses Facebook of spying on Instagram users using mobile phone cameras

An Instagram user from New Jeresy, identified as Brittany Conditi, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing the latter of spying on its users and illegally accessing their mobile cameras while using the Instagram app.

“By obtaining extremely private and intimate personal data on their users, including in the privacy of their own homes, [Facebook is] able to increase their advertising revenue by targeting users more than ever before,” the lawsuit alleges, as quoted by the Washington-based The Hill news website. 

“For example, [Facebook is] able to see in-real time how users respond to advertisements on Instagram, providing extremely valuable information to its advertisers.”

Read More: Israeli settlers attack shepherds, cut trees and set up a mobile home on Palestinian land

The lawsuit comes from media reports in July that the photo-sharing app appeared to be accessing iPhone cameras even when they weren’t actively being used.

In a suit filed last month, Facebook was also accused of using facial-recognition technology to illegally harvest the biometric data of its more than 100 million Instagram users. Facebook denied the claim and said that Instagram doesn’t use face recognition technology.

(Source / 20.09.2020)

Serbia will not move embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognises Kosovo’s independence

Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Tel Aviv on 5 September 2020 [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]
Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Tel Aviv on 5 September 2020

Serbia will not move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognises Kosovo as an independent state, the Times of Israel reported yesterday.

According to the Israeli newspaper, a source close to the government in Belgrade warned that formal Israeli recognition of Pristina’s independence would “destroy” Israel’s relationship with Serbia.

“This could end up being a real mess, unless there is a compromise on what sort of relationship Israel will end up having with Kosovo,” the source told the Times of Israel.

“Diplomatic relations with Kosovo are one thing, recognition as an independent country is another thing entirely. This would destroy the Israel-Serbia relationship,” the Serbian source said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Friday that Kosovo and Israel had decided to “establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries,” the Times of Israel reported.

READ: Turkey urges Kosovo against opening Jerusalem embassy

This came as part of an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo brokered by the US to normalise economic relations.

Serbia vowed to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 1 July 2021, the Israeli newspaper said, while Kosovo and Israel agreed to mutual recognition.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said it is Israel’s own decision to recognise Kosovo, but Arthur Koll, a former Israeli ambassador to Serbia, was reported saying: “Serbia’s transfer of its embassy to Jerusalem is conditioned on Israel’s respecting Serbia’s interests.”

(Source / 10.09.2020)

One year of prisoner solidarity for Samidoun Gothenburg

The international Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes our comrades in Gothenburg, Sweden on one year of organizing together as a collective for the liberation of Palestinian prisoners – and the liberation of Palestine. We urge all to visit the Samidoun Gothenburg website in Swedish and read the Swedish original statement: https://samidoun.net/sweden/ett-ar-av-fangsolidaritet/

One-year statement 24/1

One year ago, January 24 2018, a few us started the initiative Free Ahed Tamimi Gothenburg (Frihet åt Ahed Tamimi Göteborg). We created a Facebook page and called to protest to bring attention to the detention by the Israeli occupation of the then 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed tamimi. By then, the case had already received substantial attention around the world, but Swedish initiatives were glaringly absent. To us, it was an unmistakable opportunity to highlight that Ahed’s crime, like that of so many other Palestinians, was to defy Israel, an apartheid regime maintained by military occupation. A regime whose settler colonial violence is tied up in other imperialist projects such as Fortress Europe and numerous Western military adventures in the Middle East and North Africa in what are labeled wars on “terrorism” and “extremism”. A regime, whose ethnic cleansing, oppression and exploitation are motivated by false ethnonationalist claims of being the homeland of all Jewish people. A regime, whose allies are not to be found among those who combat racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, but among the antisemitic government of Hungary, the Nazi-dominated Ukraine and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, who is prepared to sacrifice the jungles of the Amazon rainforest for private economic interests. With her “slap that was heard around the world”, Ahed Tamimi demonstrated that it is possible to resist, and with her words inside and outside the prison walls Ahed has recalled the necessity for all of us who struggle for liberation and a just future to connect our struggles in every way we can.

Since our first protest early last year, we have organized a number of other activities: More protests of different kinds, alone and together with others; letter writing evenings for Ahed Tamimi and other Palestinian prisoners; movie screenings and talks to advance our knowledge on Palestine and widen our understanding of how the struggle for a free Palestine is connected to so many other struggles for justice and liberation. We have established many connections locally and internationally through our work. Among others with the international network Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. After discovering many common standpoints, we decided with the release of Ahed and her mother Nariman Tamimi at the end of July 2018 to regroup as an autonomous local group of the network, Samidoun Gothenburg (Samidoun Göteborg).

Today, a year later, January 24 2019, we in Samidoun Gothenburg have just finished marking the international week of action for the freedom of the Palestinian prisoner and General Secretary of the PFLP, Ahmad Sa’adat. Together with many international groups and in many different ways, we have highlighted the question and always pointed to the connection between individual important Palestinian prisoners such as Ahed Tamimi and Ahmad Sa’adat on the one hand and all Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian liberation struggle and all international struggles for peace, freedom and justice on the other. We hope, and believe, that our work has contributed to generating interest, attention, engagement and hopes for the solidarity work for all Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian liberation struggle. In the near future, we support the work for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel as part of the international BDS campaign för an end to the occupation of Palestine, for an end to the apartheid regime and for the right of return for all Palestinian refugees. During February, we will also highlight the prominent Palestinian feminist and leftist parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar, who by the end February will have been held for 16 months of administrative detention as part of the Israeli attempts to suppress resistance by attacking resistance leaders. In both of these issues, we work with others and encourage others to contribute with even the smallest of means to the solidarity work with the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Finally, we continue to push important issues of imperialism and international solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian prisoners as the focus of our work. Our solidarity with Palestinian prisoners is simultaneously solidarity with the repeatedly punished, but persistently struggling, leadership of the Palestinian struggle for liberation as well as with the Palestinian masses who after 70 years of Israeli oppression and more than 100 years of international occupation and colonisation steadfastly persist in their defiant existence and creative resistance. We struggle with a radical conviction that the struggle for the liberation of Palestine is an indispensible struggle for all those around the world who struggle against oppression and exploitation and for peace, freedom and justice.

Free all Palestinian prisoners!

Free Palestine!

(Source / 06.02.2019)

Mubarak: Hamas members from Gaza broke into Egypt prisons

Egyptian judge Mohammed Shirin Fahmi (background) listens to the testimony of former president Hosni Mubarak (front), who was ousted following a popular uprisal in 2011, during a session in the retrial of members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood over charges of plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the 2011 uprising, at a make-shift courthouse in southern Cairo on December 26, 2018. (Photo by MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian judge Mohammed Shirin Fahmi (background) listens to the testimony of former president Hosni Mubarak (front), who was ousted following a popular uprisal in 2011, during a session in the retrial of members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood over charges of plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the 2011 uprising, at a make-shift courthouse in southern Cairo on December 26, 2018

Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday claimed that 800 members of Hamas broke into Egyptian prisons during the January 25 Revolution, Al-Watan Voice reported.

He claimed that they infiltrated the Egyptian border from the Gaza Strip in order to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mubarak was in court to testify as part of a retrial in which former President Mohamed Morsi and others are accused of orchestrating prison breaks and breaches of Egypt’s eastern border during the uprising that forced Mubarak from power in February 2011.

Quizzed on alleged infiltration by foreign militants, he said his head of general intelligence had told him on 29 January 2011 of hundreds of people crossing Egypt’s border from the Gaza Strip to support the Brotherhood.

“He told me that there are armed groups which have infiltrated the borders with great numbers, around 800 people,” he told the court.

But he declined to answer questions on the role of militant groups, so as not to discuss state secrets without authorisation. “I want permission to speak about this, I am requesting permission so as not to commit an offence,” he said.

During the trial Mubarak came face to face for the first time with Morsi, who became the country’s first democratically elected president after the revolution.

READ: Egypt’s Mubarak, Morsi come face to face in court 

(Source / 27.12.2018)

PA security forces detain Palestinian parliament speaker

Palestinian Authority Security forces raid a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank [file photo]

Palestinian Authority Security forces raid a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank [file photo]

Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces yesterday detained Palestinian Parliament Speaker Aziz Dwaik and a number of MPs to prevent them from reaching their office.

In a recorded statement sent to MEMO, Aziz Dwaik said: “We had a press conference to comment on the [decision of the Constitutional Court] to dissolve parliament. We were surprised with this detention.”

He added: “While we were at the checkpoint, we received a phone call from the intelligence agency which told us to bring two photographs and go to their office in Hebron.”

Dwaik said that the conference was coordinated with the different PA parties related, stressing it was permitted by the highest chief of the intelligence agency.

“About 30 to 40 security members detained us,” he said while inside a car along with three other MPs, adding that they were released after about one hour.

READ: PA continues ‘arbitrary’ detention of Palestinian man despite release orders 

“They treated us impolitely and with clear disrespect,” he said.

On Saturday, the Constitutional Court, which was formed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, issued a decision to dissolve parliament.

Chief of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri said he would carry out the decision of the Constitutional Court.

Dwaik did not recognise this decision as it was issued by an “illegal” court, stressing that such courts, according to the Palestinian law, “must be approved” by him as head of parliament and this did not happen.

Hamas, which holds a majority in parliament, also rejected the decision.

Ahmed Bahar, a Hamas official and deputy parliament speaker, held a press conference in Gaza and said: “The decision of the Constitutional Court is illegal.” He called for carrying out presidential, parliamentary and Palestinian National Council elections.

(Source / 27.12.2018)

PA forces block press conference by PLC speaker

PA vs PLC

The Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces on Wednesday prevented a press conference by the speaker of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Aziz Dweik in Ramallah.

The PIC reporter said that Dweik was set to hold a press conference on the PA president Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to dissolve the PLC.

Local sources reported that the PA security forces deployed in the area around the PLC building and sent journalists away ahead of the scheduled press conference.

They further detained Dweik and other MPs for about an hour at a checkpoint near Bethlehem city as they were heading to Ramallah.

The same sources said that the PA forces handed Dweik a notice to appear before the Palestinian Intelligence Service in al-Khalil for interrogation.

Spokesman for the PA Security Service Adnan al-Damiri said that the press conference was illegal since the PLC dissolution “has come into effect” and “no one can say he is a speaker or member of the council”.

In his comments on the incident on behalf of other Palestinian MPs, Dweik said, “We don’t accept this treatment,” stressing that they have not received a legal and official order telling them that they are no longer members of the PLC.

Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday announced a unilateral decision to dissolve the PLC despite increasing warnings of its possible repercussions on the Palestinian situation.

The move was widely condemned by Palestinian resistance groups, notables, experts, and activists, and it was seen as a step toward a complete destruction of the Palestinian political system.

(Source / 26.12.2018)

Erdogan: Netanyahu is an ‘oppressor, cruel, at the head of state terror’

‘Palestinians are under Israeli pressures, violence and intimidation policies no less grave than the oppression done to the Jews during the Second World War,’ Erdogan said

Tensions between Turkey and Israel ratcheted up on Sunday as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an “oppressor”.

Netanyahu hit back in a speech later the same day, calling Erdogan an “anti-Semitic dictator” who is “obsessed with Israel”.

Speaking to a group of youths, Erdogan said: “Do not kick the enemy you have brought down to the ground. You are not a Jew in Israel,” in an apparent reference to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza.

The comments did not go unnoticed in Israel, however, with Netanyahu later criticised Turkey over what he claims an occupation of northern Cyprus.

“Erdogan – the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey – should not preach to Israel,” Netanyahu tweeted.

This was swiftly met by reply from Ibrahim Kalin, one of Erdogan’s top aides.

“Bashing Erdogan or using Kurds as a political chip will not save [Netanyahu] from his domestic troubles,” Kalin wrote.

The Israeli prime minister has recently seen his cabinet rocked by the departure of defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, with many analysts predicting Israel will soon be pushed towards elections as a result.

Netanyahu is also facing multiple allegations of corruption in several cases levelled against him.

Erdogan entered the fray again.

“You are an oppressor, cruel and at the head of state terror,” Erdogan told the Israeli prime minister in a televised speech in Istanbul.

Erdogan lambasted Netanyahu for “occupying Palestine” and committing “sins, crimes against humanity, massacres”.

On December 14, Erdogan said Palestinians were subjected to “pressures, violence and intimidation policies no less grave than the oppression done to the Jews during the Second World War,” referring to the Holocaust.

The Turkish president has previously called Israel “the world’s most fascist and racist state”.

In May, Ankara ordered the Israeli ambassador out of Turkey in response to Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

Turkey is the only country in the world which has been frankly supporting the Palestinian cause and recognise the Israel is an occupation state. Current Turkish leaders do not accept forgetting the Israeli crimes against thousands of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.

(Source / 26.12.2018)

PCHR Strongly Condemns Israeli Knesset’s Approval of First Preliminary Reading of Bill to Expel Families of Palestinians Involved in Attacks

25 Dec 8:47 PM

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR): On Wednesday, 19 December 2018, the Israeli Knesset approved the first preliminary reading of a bill to expel families of Palestinians involved in attacks to other areas in the West Bank. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) denounces in the strongest terms the approval of this bill, which violates the international law and human rights.

Under the above mentioned bill, in favor of which 69 Knesset members voted while 38 objected and the Arab Members of the Keenest were expelled for their objection, it allows “expelling families and relatives of Palestinians who carry out or are involved in attacks against Israelis from their hometowns to other areas of the West Bank within a week of the alleged attack.”

On Sunday, 16 December 2018, the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill, which was submitted by the “Jewish Home” right wing party headed by Minister of Education in the Israeli government, Naftali Bennett.

The bill was approved despite the opposition and objection by the Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit and the Israeli security services, out of their belief that it is illegal and would increase violence and tension in the area.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed this bill and considered it as an “effective tool” and “the benefit of this bill is greater than its damage.” In preparation for this, on 13/12/2018, Netanyahu issued a decision to expedite the demolition of houses belonging to Palestinians involved in attacks.

Therefore, on 17 December 2018, the Israeli bulldozers demolished a house in al-Showika suburb, north of Tulkarm belonging to Ashraf Na’alwah, who was extra-judicially killed by the Israeli forces on 13 December 2018.

It should be noted that MK Ahmed al-Tibi described the bill as “a bill by war criminals, who shall eventually be internationally prosecuted”.

He stressed that the bill passed a preliminary reading and it is expected in light of the racism and fascism atmosphere that the bill will pass the readings and will be approved in first, second and third readings.

It is also expected that many racist bills would be enacted and settlement activities would increase as the Israeli elections will be soon held in mid-2019.

In light of the above mentioned, PCHR:

  1. Condemns this bill, which is part of the collective punishment policy practiced by Israeli forces against innocent Palestinians, which constitutes a blatant violation of international law and human rights law.
  2. Calls upon the UN, particularly the UNSC and General Assembly, to take practical measures to face Israel’s blatant violation of the international law rules and to put an end to treating Israel as a State above the law.
  3. Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal obligations through taking measures to guarantee Israel’s respect for the convention.

(Source / 26.12.2018)

After 18 years in Israel jail, Palestinian man gives wife present he bought her

After 18 years, Imad Al-Din Al-Saftawi has finally been able to give his wife a mobile phone, the present he bought for her before he was in prison

After 18 years, Imad Al-Din Al-Saftawi has finally been able to give his wife a mobile phone, the present he bought for her before he was in prison

Eighteen years after he was detained while on his way back to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Imad Al-Din Al-Saftawi has finally given his wife a present he bought her from a trip to Dubai.

Imad was detained on his way home from the Emirates in 2000 when he was detained by Israeli occupation forces. He kept the gift he bought his wife, a state of the art Nokia mobile phone, with him throughout his time in jail in the hopes of giving it to her.

After his release on 12 December he was handed back his possessions, including the phone.

His teenage daughter tweeted about her father giving her mother the gift and the story has since gone viral on social media.

READ: Israel army arrests minor near Ramallah

(Source / 24.12.2018)