Last night I went to Amnesty International for an event called Deliberate Discrimination Deliberate Deprivation: The Denial of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories chaired by Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty’s Campaign Manager.
There were five speakers who each gave a ten minute cameo talk on how Israel had stolen Palestinian land, had destroyed and stolen Palestinian water resources, had destroyed Palestinian health care, had destroyed the Palestinian education system and had destroyed Palestinian cultural and political life.
Each speaker used slides of photos (mainly old ones), statistics and maps to illustrate their points. We were told about the deaths of Palestinian children, one from an asthma attack at a checkpoint. Dr Asad Khan spoke of how Palestinians are arrested in their hospital beds and taken away by Israeli soldiers who are “accompanied by Israeli doctors”.
I took photos of many of the hundred or so slides. Some of them are below, but one photo really disturbed me.
It was taken in 2003 and shows a Palestinian boy with a Magen David cut into his forearm (see above). The caption reads:
“The soldier, checking student’s ability to bear pain, took a piece of glass and broke it and taking Qasem’s arm, cut into it a Star of David (April 30th 2003)”
After the event I wanted to discuss the provenance of this photo with Ala Abu Dheer. He shook my hand and invited me to visit Palestinian towns with him to show me how the Palestinians were living and promised to email me details of the case of the Palestinian boy.
He asked me what I would do about it and I told him I would try to get Israel to investigate. However, I said that if an Israeli had done this surely we would have seen the photo by now. I asked him what he would do about Hamas’ crimes.
Then events took a surreal turn. An Amnesty official went to get Kristyan Benedict who proceeded to tell Mr Abu Dheer that there was no point in talking to me as I was a war crimes denier. On the way out Kristyan proceeded to tell me, inter alia, that he would “smack me in my little bald head”. As you can hear he also suggested that I put it on my blog, so here it is:
I usually get on well with Kristyan, so I really don’t know what came over him. During the Q&A earlier in the evening, after I had asked a question, he told the audience that he and I go back a long way and that we usually have a man-to-man discussion after an event. I didn’t realise it would be this man-to-man though!
At least I wasn’t bitten by anyone, but these events are proving more and more intimidating to attend if you want to put Israel’s side of the equation.
Anyway, here are some of the other slides, and a photo of Cara Flowers holding up bottles of water to illustrate how little water Palestinians, allegedly, drink/use compared to Israelis. She said the ratio is four to one in favour of Israelis: