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Hamas at SOAS: “No peace”


Tonight was a sad night at SOAS, one of the finest universities in the world. The Islamic Society held a meeting to attack, undermine and insinuate the most awful things about Israel and Zionism.

Speaking were Ben White who said Israel is worse than apartheid South Africa. His premise was that at least the whites in South Africa didn’t want the blacks to disappear as they needed them for work and to earn a living.

Azam Tamimi was repeating the old lie about how the Zionists came over and threw his family out of their homes in Haifa and Ber Sheva: “The Zionists should admit they were wrong to come over from Poland and Russia etc. and to steal our land.”

Having listened to an hour of unopposed propaganda lapped up by a naive student audience (and some adults) it was time for the Q&A. Unusually, there were more than the usual people in the audience who put tough questions to White and Tamimi.

As usual getting an appropriate answer was not so easy. But I asked Tamimi whether he wanted peace.

“I don’t want peace, I want justice,” he replied. Now isn’t that so telling. The whole world wants peace but Tamimi just wants justice.

Tamimi: Dangerous rhetoric

Various parts of the political establishment suggest that we should talk to Hamas as it was democratically elected. But they make excuses for Hamas that even Hamas doesn’t ask for.

Tamimi is a self-declared representative of Hamas and if he says Hamas doesn’t want peace then who am I to argue with him? You heard it from the horse’s mouth.

Well, the whole world wants justice but it just isn’t going to happen.

Tamimi left the room to huge applause ringing in his ears while waving around the V sign to the room.

Who knows how many of the students there to hear White and Tamimi will become radicalised. Ed Husain described in The Islamist how Bosnia was used to radicalise London’s Muslim students until another student ended up being killed because of all the hatred.

Ten years on it is Israel that is being used to the same effect and it can only end up in more tragedy as total revisionists like White and Tamimi continue to sow the seeds of hatred in the minds of easily influenced teenagers in the audience.


Leeds United and anti-Semitism

Leeds United (epltalk)

I read a fascinating but sad piece by Jessica Elgot of the JC on the racism she encountered at the Spurs v Leeds game last weekend.

I thought it would be the normal diatribe about Spurs fans singing “Yid Army” being anti-Semitic. It really isn’t. Spurs fans sing it week in week out and there has never been a hint of anti-Semitism about it. Spurs basically has always had a large Jewish following and a Jewish board of directors. The fans mean nothing sinister and if it allows them a good singalong (something severely lacking at their north London neighbours) then so be it.

The only thing that Spurs fans can really be accused of is thinking that Spurs are better than they really are.

But Jessica noticed something much more sinister: Some Leeds fans singing “Spurs are on their way to Belsen”.

Jessica writes: “But the Leeds fans went nowhere around White Hart Lane without being chaperoned by about twenty police officers per fan. Most were singing these chants in full view of the police. Who did nothing. No warning. No arrests. Nothing. What did the Tottenham door staff do, as the Leeds fans entered through the turnstiles, singing about gas chambers? Nothing. It was easier to keep their heads down and shut up.”

I have to admit that I was safely tucked away surreptitiously among the Spurs fans so I was immune to this chanting while biting my nails everytime Spurs won one of their many freekicks on the edge of Leeds United’s penalty area. But it doesn’t surprise me.

Leeds United have come a long way. When I was at Leeds University I used to go to every Leeds home game and always used to pass a member of the National Front selling the current issue of its magazine. Once I encountered a Leeds fan with a swastika tattoo.

These days there is nothing like that at Elland Road, just a good feeling of being surrounded by friendly, down-to-earth Yorkshire folk. Elland Road is one of the best places in Britain where whites, blacks, asians, Muslims, Jews and Christians sit down in unity to cheer their team on. There is no sectarianism or racism. 

Lucas Radebe (golplanet)

But Leeds on the road is a different affair.

When I went to see Millwall v Leeds a few years ago the Leeds fans booed their way through the minute’s silence for George Best, so much so that the referee had to call an end to the silent respect for a once great player after just 30 seconds. And on the way to the train afterwards a Leeds fan was literally singing the horrendous Munich 1958 plane crash song right in front of a policeman.  

This is all just a minority of fans and Leeds is not an inherently racist club. There is no racism ever about black or asian players and Lucas Radebe will always be loved by every Leeds fan for his commitment to and passion for Leeds United (the Keiser Chiefs, huge Leeds fans themselves, named themselves after his South African club). 

Leeds have always had a hooligan element; Leeds thugs are known as the Leeds Service Crew, also known as the Risk. But while the hooliganism and racism has mainly gone there is still an element that prevails. 

There is probably not much Leeds can do about this element. Now it is probably down to society to educate more about the horrors of the Holocaust and Holocaust Memorial Day this wednesday is a good start but not enough.

Maybe Ken Bates could have a say in his programme notes at the Leeds v Spurs replay on February 3rd about the sinister chanting that Jessica heard.

pro-Palestine campaign complains to BBC

Auntie Beeb

I have never really found the BBC overtly anti-Israel. Having attended many a pro-Palestinian meeting I always hear them moan about how anti-Palestinian Auntie is.

And despite the recent Panorama with Jane Corbin the BBC has given Israel’s relief team to Haiti incredible coverage, as have Sky and CNN. No one has quite believed how Israel got to the disaster zone of Haiti so quickly and set up a field hospital so efficiently and before anyone else, including the Americans.

And then there was the recent Newsnight with Tim Collins taking a walk through Sderot and Gaza in order to give his own experienced military perspective on how certain disputed deaths might have been caused and mosques destroyed. He totally found in Israel’s favour.

Colonel Tim Collins (militaryprofs)

I just received a copy of this complaint below to Auntie from the pro-Palestine campaign (some might even call it a “lobby”). It is a fascinating read. The most fascinating part is the letter’s allusion to Micky Rosenfeld, Israel’s police spokesman (aka Mickey Roosevelt apparently) as being “‘from North London'”.

Whatever could they mean by repeating such a meaningless fact? Answers on a postcard please.

But at least the BBC tries its very best to aggravate both sides equally:  

Newsnight Tuesday 19th January 2010 complaint to BBCShare

I was repelled by the ‘Newsnight” segment featuring Colonel Tim Collins on
Tuesday night. He was on an obvious mission to justify the Israeli massacre in
Gaza that occurred a year ago.

Given the BBC’s callous refusal to publicise The
DEC appeal that followed this inhuman and, universally acknowledged,
disproportionate attack, it is astonishing that you would follow this up with a
downright justification of Israel’s horrific war crimes.

The BBC’S claim to impartiality has been completely discredited by this sequence of events.
Colonel Collins, who has been compared to a character out of ‘Apocalypse Now,’
made no effort to make sense of the numbers of deaths involved: 13 Israelis
(four of those were ‘friendly fire’, 1,400 Palestinians, involving hundreds of
civilians, including women and children.

Instead, he seemed unmoved by the evidence in front of him and chose only to see Hamas posters and interview the
usual suspects in their ‘lair’ with an arsenal consisting of homemade rockets.
At Sderot, his guide was Mickey Roosevelt, ‘from North London’ who showed
Colonel Collins the rockets collected since 2000 which have caused so little

Micky "Roosevelt" Rosenfeld (

He was not taken to review Israel’s arsenal of F16s, nuclear weapons,
phosphorous bombs and all the other paraphanalia of the world’s fourth largest
army. It was as if Israel was the unarmed victim, living in fear of having homes
demolished, schools flattened and hundreds of civilians slaughtered.

The programme presented a complete distortion of the facts and made no attempt
to inform, provide context, or even the slightest attempt at impartiality.
Colonel Collins is well-known for his gung-ho speeches (‘show them no mercy’,
‘we are their nemesis’) and boasts of his war record in the most brutal military
interventions of the past decades. ‘Not as bad as Faluja,’ he commented, eyeing
a flattened mosque.

He claimed to have found proof of weapons having been stored
in the crypt of this building, but there was no evidence shown on camera.
As he toured the region in an Israeli-piloted helicopter, he flew over Qalqilya,
one of the Palestinian towns most grievously affected by Israel’s apartheid
wall. ‘It’s to protect the main road,’ said the pilot, speaking of an
Israeli-only road built on stolen Palestinian land.

Given the BBC’s complete blanking of the recent VivaPalestina Convoy, the Gaza
Freedom March, and other efforts by civil society humanitarian activists from
around the world, the programme takes on a special meaning.

The depth of the BBC’s bias is demonstrated across the entire output of your programming and not
only by the skewed nature of this particular item on ‘Newsnight.’

Gaza similar to Haiti?

Republique d'Haiti

Having attended the Stop the Siege of Gaza rally on tuesday night at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London I have an apology to make. In my last post I suggested that Haita might not be high on these people’s minds but i was wrong. It was. Well, sort of.

More than one speaker made the point that if the soldiers could rush out to a disaster like the Haiti earthquake, then why could they not do the same for Gaza?

Anas Altikriti of the British Muslim Institute spoke of “crocodile tears” over the crisis in Haiti and questioned why no troops had been sent to Gaza (at this point I was dying to put my hand up and mention the relief brought to some Haitians by the Israel medical team, outdoing medical teams from all around the world and even the USA, but I thought I could be lynched).

Jeremy Corbyn MP, said that now it was time to call for economic sanctions against Israel. Then a moment of hope. He was concerned with the people of Haiti but ruined it all by saying that the cause of Haiti was an earthquake but the cause of the problems in Gaza is Israel. So the death and destruction in Haiti was mentioned again but mainly in the context of promoting the Palestinian cause.

Joseph Healey of the Green Party spoke. This is the same Green Party that is supposed to be lobbying our politicians to create alternative sources of energy and lobbying industrial companies to stop chopping down the rain forests. But environmental damage takes a backseat when Israel is on the agenda. Mr Healey spoke of the Green Party’s policies of sanctions and divestment from Israel. In all fairness he did denounce Egypt for building its own wall and he said that Caroline Lucas, his supreme leader, also thought Egypt a disgrace.

Then there was Simon Dubbins, the UNITE union’s head of international affairs, who spoke. The aim of UNITE is to “meet the great challenges facing working people in the 21st century”. These workers can be forgotten though when there is an opportunity to denounce Israel. Mr Dubbins called for boycott, sanctions and divestment from Israel to be put into concrete effect (not much care for Israeli workers then). He committed himself to continue his work with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to end the “siege” of Gaza, to bring the Israeli war criminals to trial and, get this, bring justice and peace. Thank the Lord for Mr Dubbins!

Then up popped Ismael Patel, of the Friends of al-Aqsa , who gave a stirring speech. Apparently Operation Cast Lead was all about Israel restoring its deterrent factor which it had, apparently, lost in Lebanon in 2006. He spoke of the friends of Israel who might be powerful but they are few and far between. He screamed his closing paragraph to the delight of his salivating audience: “We will bring down the Zionist state so Christians, Jews and Muslims can live as one people from the river to the sea”.

Then there was Lowkey, a rapper. Lowkey is half-British, half-Iraqi and very, very angry about what is happening to the Palestinian people. He almost rapped his way through his speech. History, or maths, isn’t his strong point though. He spoke of 60 years of military occupation. Seeing that the occupation started in 1967 that just doesn’t add up, Mr Lowkey.

Daud Abdullah, director of Middle East Monitor, gave an interesting comparison. He said that Israel had destroyed 45 mosques in Gaza but then asked us to “imagine the reaction in Britain if one synagogue was destroyed”. He then praised Hugo Chavez and signed off by calling Israel a “brutal, totalitarian, racist, apartheid state”. Cue, huge applause.

For me though biggest insult was given by the Chairman for the evening. Hugh Lanning, Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Deputy General Secretary, started off by saying that 1400 Palestinians had been killed in Operation Cast Lead but “just 13 Israelis”. Sorry, Mr Lanning, was that not enough for you? I suggest that next time you state that “1400 Palestinians were killed and 13 Israelis”.

Then it was time for the big denouement. The creme de la creme of Palestinian activists who sat silently throughout as 15 or so speakers came and went, George Galloway.

George mentioned how he is now banned from Egypt while “this dictatorship” is in power which he prayed will not be for very much longer (rather ironically George can freely visit Israel). He also gave Israel some advice: They should not even think of going back into Gaza or it would cost the lives of thousands of Israeli soldiers. He also asked why a “tiny settler state of six million people” can be allowed to repeatedly imperil the security and stability of the world.

Lowkey, left, a rapper.

Charmingly, George then went on to say that Israel has very few supporters outside the “cesspits” of the Zionist Federation, the Centre for Social Cohesion and Harry’s Place (Cesspit: covered pit for liquid waste and sewage). But, he continued, Israel has friends in the British police who committed brutal attacks against supporters of Palestine during last January’s London protests. He failed to mention that a British bobby had been knocked unconscious

Finally, George turned to the situation with Turkey and said that in a couple of months time Turkey will lead a flotilla of ships into Gaza to break the siege. He finished off with pointing out that the borders to Gaza may be locked by Israel and Egypt but the sea is open to those who have the courage to take it, “we do, you’ll see”. Cue, standing ovation.

Fighting talk, George. Yes, we will see.

Alexei Sayle: Ullo John got a new motor?

The Shame of the pro-Palestinian campaign

Palestinian flag

Imagine for one moment that the nasty Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) supported by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and all of its supporters was a success. Israeli industry would be on the verge of bankruptcy and all of the innovations and inventions that are constantly discovered by Israeli scientists would not be discovered for lack of funding and investment.

Like, for example, the Camera in a Pill that travels through the digestive tract sending back photographs of the intestines in someone’s body. There is now no need to use cables that are passed into the digestive system through the nose or mouth and which would normally require a patient to be sedated. Patients can now carry on their normal lives while a diagnosis of their condition can take place. All they need do is swallow the “Camera Pill” which is then excreted out after the 24 to 48 hours that the pill takes to go through the digestive system.

You only have to glance briefly at to see the range of innovations produced by Israeli scientists that seek to improve people’s lives. The many innovations include using music therapy to help deaf and hearing-impaired toddlers, developing alternative energy sources such as solar and hydro power and an Iphone App for finding free Parking in New York.

Yet, a successful boycott, particularly an academic boycott, would stop all this development in its tracks. One of the main aims of the sanctions is to “cut off trade and investments“. If an academic boycott succeeded then Israeli scientists would not be able to consult with international scientists over crucial developments.

And then there is Haiti. It could not have escaped anyone’s notice that the reports on Sky and the BBC have focused mainly on the Israeli rescue team. The pictures and footage coming from this tragedy are too much to bear but Israel is doing its best to save those buried under the buildings and still just about alive.

As soon as the quake struck last tuesday Israel prepared to dispatch a 220 man team on two El Al planes. The entourage brought with them a field hospital that can serve 500 patients a day and includes 40 doctors, 25 nurses, a children’s ward and an intensive care unit.

Sanctions would have seriously reduced the effectiveness of Israel’s ability to save these lives. The rescue mission should impress on the Palestinians that Israel would go anywhere in the world to improve conditions and health, even as far as Gaza!

The Israeli, British and all the teams are heroes for putting their lives at risk by going into terribly insecure buildings which could collapse any moment especially if the expected aftershocks occur.

Even the church has not been immune from the ignorance. It recently divested from Caterpillar on the basis that Israel uses its bulldozes to demolish illegal Palestinian homes. The church made a recent ineffectual gesture by dumping its shares in Caterpillar even though Caterpillar could now be playing a crucial role in helping Israel’s rescue mission by using its equipment to move swathes of rubble to get to the dead and dying.

But even as Israel does good the anti-Israel brigade will again attempt stir up an audience against Israel. In London tomorrow night there is an anti-Israel meeting. It is at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square from 7pm till 9pm.

You would hope that for one night the whole event could be turned into a “Help Haiti” evening. The hostilities against Israel could be resumed once every thing has been done to rescue Haitians.

The combined passion, intelligence and power of these people could be used to such positve effect, instead it will be wasted as Israel once again becomes the target:

Dr Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University

Bruce Kent, Vice President Pax Christi

Sir Gerald Kaufman MP – Just returned from Gaza

Phyllis Starkey MP


George Galloway MP

Alison Shepherd, UNISON

Daud Abdullah, Middel East Monitor

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Kate Hudson, Chair CND

Alexei Sayle

Richard Burden MP

Joseph Healey, The Green Party

Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition

Hugh Lanning, Deputy General Secretary PCS

Anas Altikriti, BMI

Ismael patel, Friends of Al Aqsa

Cartooning in Conflict exhibition in London

St. Martin-in-the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 4JH (Charing X Tube)

Until 24th January. For more information:

The shadowy crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields is a fitting setting for this exhibition of war cartoons about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The cartoons have been drawn by 35 artists from around the world and the exhibition’s driving force is Robi Damelin whose son, David, 28, was killed while on reserve duty by a Palestinian sniper.

The exhibition was inspired by Israeli cartoonist Michel Kichka’s own Cartooning for Peace. The cartoonists here are the modern day versions of Wilfred Owen. They capture, through their drawings, the futility of war the way the young Owen did, so emotively, through his poetry.

Robi, 65 and a grandmother, is originally from South Africa and was active in the anti-apartheid movement before making aliyah. She loves Israel but is determined that no one should use her son’s blood as an excuse for revenge.

Robi was last in London in November 2009. She was joined by Ali Abu Awwad, 37, a Palestinian. Both Ali and his mother had spent time in Israeli prisons before, one day, Ali’s brother Yussef, 32, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier.

Are there pieces missing? It's all here! (Damien Glez - Burkina Faso)

Instead of seeking revenge Ali joined the Parents Circle-Family Forum where he met Robi. They now travel the world together speaking in churches, mosques and synagogues.

The Forum contains 500 Israeli and Palestinian families all with one thing in common; each has lost a close relative in the conflict. Members of the Forum regularly go into Israeli and Palestinian educational establishments to speak to students. Instead of politicians doing the talking it should be the Israeli and Palestinian people. Their important work even continued during the Gaza War.

In November Robi and Ali spoke to an audience of Muslims and Jews at the Regent’s Park Mosque after showing Encounter Point. The film portrays the physical and mental barriers that Forum members encounter when trying to get their message across. In the film Ali’s more humourous solution to the conflict is for all Israelis who smoke to be forced to buy cigarettes from the Palestinans and vice versa.

Cartooning in Conflict is an extension of the Forum’s work. The cartoons are a means for peaceful dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. The artists include Pulitzer Prize winners Pat Oliphant and Jim Morin and the famous French political satirist, Plantu.

For Robi a highly evocative cartoon is that of an Angel and the Devil playing cards. Instead of chips they play for bodies. “Can you see who has won the most bodies?,” Robi sadly asks me.

A dove is a recurring theme. One cartoon shows the bird lying in a colourful frozen supermarket package. The dove’s eyes are open while it awaits defrosting.

Frozen Dove (Baha Boukhari - Palestine)

My favourite cartoon is of the fighting stopping while a goal is scored in a televised football match recalling the legend of Christmas Day 1915 when English and German troops met in no-man’s-land for a bout of the beautiful game.

The least hopeful is that of an Israeli and an Arab each digging a grave side-by-side. The cartoon is called “Sharing the Land”.

Recently Robi wrote to her son’s killer in prison. He is a Palestinian folk hero for what he did. Robi hoped he would make a statement saying he was transformed so he would not to be viewed by Palestinians as such a hero any more. All she received back was a political justification for her son’s murder but she still holds out hope.  

Robi has been joined by Ali’s sister, Seham. It is Seham’s first time out of the West Bank and both she and Robi will be around the exhibition to answer questions.

Robi and Seham welcoming guests

Dont vote Liberal Democrat if you value Israel

Just when I have my mind on starting another thread George Galloway has hit the headlines yet again. If this man could divide himself into three it wouldn’t be enough.

George is a sometime TV personality, a Respect Party MP, a Radio presenter, a newspaper columnist and one of the most committed pro-Palestinian activists this country has seen. He would fit in well with Liberal Democrat foreign policy but he did an Ariel Sharon and set up his own party after leaving Labour.

Last year on a speaking tour of North America he was banned from entering Canada and now he has been deported from Egypt, according to activists, having tried to get back to the Rafah crossing into Gaza to join the Viva Palestina convoy that crossed into Gaza on wednesday, after much violence and the death of an Egyptian border guard at the hands of a Palestinian sniper.

But why do so many normally reasonably minded people in the world not get what Israel and Egypt both get: That Gaza is trouble.

True, the people of Gaza are hemmed in. But that does not mean they are not receiving basic provisions. As Jonathan Hoffman has reported, in December alone:

– Six more water desalination systems were transferred to the Gaza Strip;
– 15 truckloads of cellular communications equipment were delivered to the Palestinian mobile phone carrier, Jawal;
– Strawberries and flowers were exported;
– Glass was brought in for home repairs and renovations in preparation for the winter;
– 750 tons of aggregate were transferred for maintenance of the North Gaza Wastewater Treatment plant.
– 2179 truckloads (48,237 tons) of humanitarian aid entered via the Kerem Shalom cargo terminal and the Karni conveyor belt.
– 7,173,468 litres of heavy-duty diesel for the Gaza power station and 2276 tons of cooking gas were delivered via the Kerem Shalom crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel depot.

But then you have the leader of one of our more respectable political parties, Nick Clegg MP of the Liberal Democrats, also being consistently anti-Israel.

Nick Clegg MP, Liberal Democrat leader.

For many years this hasn’t mattered but with the British general election in June this year expected to be close we could find the Conservatives or Labour (i.e. the biggest party but not big enough to form a majority) trying to entice the Libs into coalition and one of the jobs offered to the Libdems could be that of Foreign Secretary. Worryingly, David Cameron has suggested that he would work with the Liberal Democrats in coalition.

And the current Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary is Ed Davey, who has called on the British Government to act on the Goldstone Report which has accused Israel of committing war crimes during the Gaza War.

Ed Davey MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary

It is worrying for Israel that a party of only 63 MPs and 11 MEPs (one of whom, Chris Davies MEP for North West England, told a Jewish constituent that he hoped she enjoyed wallowing in her own filth) is so packed with anti-Israel polemicists.

Then there are Lord Steel of Aikwood, the former leader and Baroness Tonge, who recently said: “The way Israel behaves is just not kosher. Jewish people should be totally ashamed of themselves that they are not doing more to stop them. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East, is also a regular at anti-Israel events.

And now to Nick Clegg, the current leader. He just doesn’t get Gaza or how dangerous it is. If both Israel and Egypt think Gaza is dangerous (both are building walls to keep the terrorists out of these respective countries) what right does Mr Clegg have to call for a complete ban on the sale of arms to Israel, which he did last January when Israel was fighting Hamas.

Now he has called for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza by both Israel and Egypt as if this is all just some big game.

The Liberal Democrats have always been anti-Israel (it still amazes me how many Jews vote for them) but putting the civilians of another country at risk by not selling the country arms to defend itself against Islamist terrorists illustrates how misguided these polticians are.

This thursday afternoon Kassam rockets were once again hitting Israel’s southern towns.

The Kassams were fired by the Popular Resistance Committee. Luckily, no one was injured but Israel hit back and, once again, has dropped thousands of leaflets telling the people of Gaza not to co-operate with the terrorists or approach the security wall.

William Gladstone, Liberal Party founder

The Liberal Democrats have some very reasonably minded people in their party, including Vince Cable and Chris Huhne, and a small but active Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel. But a few individuals apart it is a shame that the party founded by William Gladstone has been brought so low that it can call for a country like Israel, which is defending itself against brutal terrorists who target innocent civilians, to be essentially disarmed.

Things are, sadly, hotting up again on Israel’s southern border and when Israel has to fight Hamas again and Britain has a new government with, possibly, Ed Davey as its Foreign Secretary, don’t be surprised if Britain’s support, minimal as it is now, becomes totally non-existent.

The Liberal Democrats may have some interesting and innovative domestic policies but their biased musings on the Middle East conflict will not contribute to peace in any way, shape or form.

More blood shed for Gaza (Viva Palestina)

Palestinians are not adverse to internecine violence (as noted previously 539 Palestinians were murdered by their own people between November 2000 and August 2008, and that before the Gaza War when we saw footage of Hamas members pushing Fatah activists off the the tops of high buildings with their hands cuffed behind their backs). But now they are murdering other Arabs.

The Viva Palestina convoy of 500 people and 200 vehicles bringing aid for the Palestinians was left stranded in Aqaba in Jordan for five days having been turned away from Egypt’s nearest crossing point into Gaza. Then, inexplicably, the convoy was forced back up through Jordan to Syria from where flights were boarded and ferries taken to get the convoy back to El Arish on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast at a cost of $300,000.

Proposed route to Gaza before the convoy was sent back up to Syria at huge expense (

Well, the convoy has now arrived. And guess what, it still isn’t being allowed into Gaza!

To be exact 59 of the 198 vehicles are not being allowed into Gaza via the Rafah, Egypt crossing and have to go to Gaza, if at all, via Israel now.

The distinction seems to be that the vehicles required to go via Israel contain “pickup trucks, sedans, generators” and, more worryingly, “other equipment”. Only medical aid and passengers are allowed via Rafah, Egypt into Gaza.

The simple explanation could be over worries that the trucks, generators, sedans and other equipment could have a sinister use and if Israelis, or Egytians, get killed from a Kassam rocket or suicide bombing manufactured by this equipment then the Egyptian government doesn’t wish to be blamed.

But negotiations are carrying on as we speak to get the whole convoy into Gaza via Rafah, Egypt.

Sadly, a life has been lost. After Hamas called for protests at the Egytian blockade it then tried to disperse the crowd by firing shots. Soon after an Egyptian border guard was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper. There is no suggestion that the border guard was behaving aggressively.

Palestinians riot just before an Egyptian was shot dead (

Many others have been left injured after violent scuffles and stone throwing by Palestinians.

The Viva Palestina campaign has put out an emergency call. People are being asked to boycott Egypt and protest to Egyptian officials at Egyptian Embassies worldwide. Kevin Ovenden, the convoy leader, said: “We have now blocked the entrance to the port and we are now faced with riot police and water cannons and are determined to defend our vehicles and aid”.

And Dr Hanan Chehata, who is travelling with the convoy and who is director of public relations at the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), asks: “Why is Egypt adding to the suffering of the Palestinian people?” “Why are the Egyptians not helping their Muslim brothers and sisters – aren’t they part of the Muslim Ummah (community) as well?”

I have tried to answer those questions above but more interesting is Dr Chehata’s lack of interest in Gaza’s Christian community. Gaza has Christians too! Palestinians constantly remind us that Gaza’s Christian Arabs are a quickly diminishing community and blame Israel. (Christians are generally financially better off and so are more able to leave the poverty, unemployment and radicalism of Gaza. It has nothing to do with Israel).

We wait with bated breath as to when the Viva Palestina convoy will enter Gaza and from where. The convoy has been long complaining about the lack of publicity for its charitable gesture of travelling thousands of miles over land, sea and, now, air to support the even longer suffering people of Gaza. But with violence erupting, one dead and many injured there will be no shortage of publicity.

And an Egyptian family begins to mourn its loved one.

Viva Palestina!

At the time of writing a large convoy headed by George Galloway is snaking its way up through Jordan to Syria having made its way overland from the UK  to Jordan from where it was due to cross into Egypt and then journey to Gaza to give comfort and support to the suffering people there. Last year this same Viva Palestina convoy ended up handing over a large amount of aid to Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas.

George Galloway (

The people of Gaza’s dreadful situation is, of course, exacerbated by being under the rule of Hamas which has killed many of its own people in vicious infighting.

B’Tselem has documented that between November 2000 and August 2008 Palestians have killed 539 Palestinians in the occupied territories and that is before the dreadful attacks by Hamas on suspected Fatah activists during and after the Gaza war. 458 of those deaths have occurred in Gaza.

This year Viva Palestina has attempted the same trip but just as the convoy was poised to enter Gaza in time for the 27th December anniversary of the start of the Gaza War it was stopped. The convoy was stopped by Egypt, not Israel, due to the “sensitive situation”  in Gaza. The Egyptians would allow the convoy into Gaza but only after it has taken a circuitous route north through Jordan to Syria from where several boats will then take it back to another Egyptian border crossing with Gaza. This is inexplicable as you would think there will still be a “sensitive situation” in Gaza whichever route the convoy takes.

It just goes to show the lack of respect that Egypt has for Hamas and its Gazan subjects. There might be a siege of Gaza and although it is usually blamed on Israel the real culprit is Egypt as we now see it force the Viva Palestina convoy on this long and financially draining diversion. And this after arrests of convoy members by the Egyptian authorities and the threat of hunger strikes by other members of the convoy.

Then just when you thought the Egyptians couldn’t be more ungenerous towards their Arab brethren in Gaza they are now building their own security wall made of steel to keep Hamas terrorists out of Egypt. In February 2008 when the Gaza/Egpyt border was easily breached by the Palestinians a suicide bomber came back into Israel via the Israel/Egypt border and blew himself up killing one Israeli woman and injuring more than a dozen other Israelis in Dimona. Egypt obviously doesn’t want similar scenarios in Cairo.

Hamas (

Egypt understand Israel’s plight. It knows that Gaza is trouble. Gaza is now radicalised and Hamas is the least of the troubles for the Palestinian people. There are now even more right-wing extremists on the block, The Warriors of God, who fought with Hamas in August when 27 died.

And if you look at the TV pictures coming from Gaza you will see that Palestinian women now have their heads covered unlike in the West Bank. Gaza has gone the same way as Iran. The 1979 revolution was supposed to improve the lot of the Iranian people but they have been brutally forced to bow down to Sharia the way the Gazans are having to now.

So back to those evil Egyptians. They are now suppressing the poor Palestinians the way they once suppressed the Jews until Moses led us out to the Promised Land. The only promised land the poor people of Gaza have now is Hamas, the Warriors of God and George and his band of merry men currently heading north through Jordan.

Four regimes to fall in 2010

If the world was to become a better place we would see the end of  four current regimes that heavily torment and persecute their own people:


Flag of Sudan

President Omar al-Bashir’s regime has murdered at least 300, 000 (figure cited by the United Nations) of its own people in the western Sudanese province of Darfur in a campaign of racism where the Arab Janjaweed militia has mercilessly attacked the innocent black Sudanese citizens of Darfur. This has landed Bashir an indictment before the International Criminal Court which remains outstanding while Bashir is being supported in his genocidal campaign by other Arab states.

Islamic Republic of Iran

Flag of The Islamic Republic of Iran

Ever since the June 12 “stolen election” this regimes has used the Republican Guard and the Basij Militia to maintain control over its own people, many of whom it has murdered. The unofficial Green Movement is doing its best to oppose where it can and uses public holidays to come out onto the streets but at huge risk to themselves. Neda Soltan was shot dead as she watched the anti-government protests on June 20. Brave bloggers, like Potkin Azarmehr, keep the west updated as they post footage of  the oppression under the Khameini/Ahmadinejad regime. Is the tide turning? How long can the Guard and Basij hold up their morale as they see their own relatives, who oppose the regime, beaten up.

The ending of this regime will be a heavy blow to political Islam including the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah and will allow more fruitful talks to take place between Israel and the Palestinians. While Hamas and Hezbollah are so strong there surely can be no proper peace.


Flag of Zimbabwe

The background here is another “stolen election”. This time it was by Robert Mugabe with the election taking place in March 2008. The good news is that inflation in Zim is on the decline, but that is set against last year’s inflation figure of a mere 231,000,000%. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF Party is in “coalition” with the reformist Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change but Zanu-PF seems to dominate the coalition. Mugabe would rather continue to take white owned farms that were once run successfully and give them to people who have no experience and knowledge of keeping these farms going and so innocent Zimbabweans starve or try to flee to South Africa.  Again, opposition supporters are intimidated and beaten into submission.


Flag of Uganda

The country that gave the world “The Butcher” Idi Amin has now given us a bill to execute homosexuals. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Uganda but this bill will actually lead to homosexuals being killed by the state (as they are in Iran).   President Museveni seems to have intervened for now to try to soften the bill but within the Ugandan government there is a wide consensus of support for it so there may be only so much Museveni can do. The Ugandan people aren’t helped by our own BBC which hosted an online debate on Have Your Say titled “Should homosexuals face execution?” which attracted 600 comments, only 200 of which were suitable for publication. The BBC then changed the title to “Should Uganda debate gay execution?”.