Tag Archives: friends of al aqsa

A day of anti-Israel hatred and Holocaust minimization in Parliament.

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

“It was supposed to be Never Again” declared Ismail Patel but the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, he said, are “oppressed”, undergoing “ethnic cleansing” and suffering a “genocide”.

Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, was speaking in the Grimmond Room of Britain’s Houses of Parliament last night at an event to launch his organisation’s “Jerusalem Report” which focuses on “Protecting Palestinian Citizenship Rights in East Jerusalem.”

According to Megan Driscoll, Advocacy Officer at Coalition for Jerusalem (based in Jerusalem), who spoke first, Israel’s “Jerusalem Masterplan” is to secure the Jewish majority in the city.

Driscoll said that the Palestinian population there is currently 34% and that Israel’s aim is to drive this down to 30% and probably lower.

The way Israel is doing this, she continued, is through “residency revocation” which makes Jerusalem Palestinians “stateless”.

Driscoll said Israel revokes residency if Palestinians have lived abroad for more than seven years or have taken citizenship in another country.

She said there is also a Jerusalem “centre of life” test that Palestinians must pass. This, she said, is so stringent that even Palestinians still living in Jerusalem have not been able to prove such centrality and have lost their residency rights.

Driscoll claimed that since 1967 there have been over 14,000 such “residency revocations”. She referred to this as the “Quiet Deportation” and said it was successful because instead of being “mass collective punishment” it received less attention in the media because it was executed against individuals and families.

Linda Ramsden, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said that Israel’s “policy of displacement began in 1948 when 530 Palestinian villages were demolished and 750,000 Palestinians made refugees”.

She described how most Palestinians applying for building permits are refused because they cannot prove ownership of land due to a lack of documents (does it not occur to Ramsden that maybe, just maybe, they do not own the land in question?).

Ramsden said that once a house is built without a permit a Palestinian family will suffer from stress worrying which day their home will be demolished. She said this causes a lot of “stress related illness”.

When a house is due to be demolished, she continued, hundreds of police and dogs arrive which, she said, is “very frightening”. Bulldozers are used for the demolition and pneumatic drills destroy the base of the house.

She claimed the families are fined and sent a bill for the demolition and that some Palestinians demolish their own homes to avoid these “horrendous costs”.

Meanwhile, last night’s event was hosted and chaired by the Labour MP for Bolton South-East Yasmin Qureshi. Qureshi was fresh from the House of Commons debate that afternoon on the situation in Gaza.

Qureshi is very quietly spoken but the words that come out of her mouth are pure poison where Israel is concerned. If one thinks that Ismail Patel’s application of the term “Never Again” to the Palestinians was bad enough Qureshi’s Holocaust minimization is more shocking.

Here is what she said in yesterday’s Parliamentary debate:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.” (my emphasis)

This followed Labour MP Gerald Kaufman’s attack on ALL Israelis in the same debate:

“Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification…It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.” (my emphasis)

This is how Britain’s Parliament is sometimes so abused. While innocent Syrians are being murdered and left permanently disabled by barrel bombs dropped out of the sky by Assad’s forces certain MPs are offensive about Israel, Israelis and the Holocaust instead.

While Kaufman voted against any intervention in Syria, Qureshi couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to that vote last August!

Last night’s event launching the “Jerusalem Report” was sold out but due to the strike on the London underground not many people could get there.

It must be galling that when so much effort has been put into producing an evening of hatred, lies and Holocaust minimization so few people are there to appreciate your efforts.

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“Free Palestine, Vote Labour.”

Tony Benn

Last night’s meeting in Parliament arranged by Friends of Al Aqsa was due to be about Israel’s building in east Jerusalem but turned out to be a party political broadcast for the Labour Party.

The three Labour MPs that spoke mainly turned their guns on the Conservatives.

Martin Linton, Labour MP for Battersea (majority – 163 votes):

“There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends. Now there are a number of Conservatives who have a very good record on this issue, I am not saying it’s a simple party political issue, but you must consider over the next few weeks, when you vote and when you make your constituents aware, of the attempt by Israelis and pro-Israelis to influence the election in this country and you must draw your own conclusions from that. If they get the message that trying to buy a Conservative victory, what’s more trying to buy Conservative support for Israel, is successful then they will carry on doing it. If they can see that it is not going to work, then they will desist. It is important for not only this country but also for the future of the Middle East that the result of the election in this country does not send that message.”

Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester, Gorton (majority – 5808 votes):

“Just as Lord Ashcroft owns one part of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the other part.” (That’s a bit “rich” coming from someone who, according to the Daily Telegraph “charged the taxpayer £1851 for a rug he imported from a New York antiques centre and tried to claim £8865 for a television”).

Andrew Slaughter, Labour MP for Ealing Acton Shepherd’s Bush (majority – 5520 votes):

“There is no will in the Conservative Party to support anything other than the state of Israel. There has been a sea change on the Conservative Party over the course of a generation. That didn’t used to be the case. They are as firmly locked in now as the Republicans are in America. We have to challenge that through political power in this country.” (Did Slaughter not see William Hague’s condemnation of Israel in Parliament yesterday?)

It was stated by the Chairman of the meeting that the Conservatives were offered an invitation for someone to speak last night but they said that no one was available.

There was a sense that the pro-Palestinian campaign is suffering from event fatigue. With meetings and protests virtually every day over the last few weeks on the Goldstone Report, the arrests of british protestors over Gaza, protests against Mayor Nir Barkat as well as International Israel Apartheid Week recently finishing, things are losing steam.

Tony Benn spoke briefly but with nothing like his normal passionate anti-Zionist rhetoric. And Dr Phyllis Starkey, Labour MP for Milton Keynes South-West, who was due to speak last night, was a no-show.

And even Kaufman displayed some sort of concern for the future of Israel by explaining that its future is in jeopardy: “Either meaningful talks will take place soon or the population equation will take over.” It wasn’t an anti-Israel tirade, which one might have expected in front of this audience.

The meeting was told that all the main religions should be allowed to pray properly in Jerusalem “the third most Holy place in the world to Muslims”. Even this was met with light applause and nothing like Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capital”, which raised the roof at the AIPAC meeting in Washington on Monday in front of 7500 actvists and members of Congress.

Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign then spoke of future events including a global boyott, divestments and sanctions weekend, a campaign to ban Israeli settlement goods being sold in the UK, Naqbah Day on 15th May, a TUC action day in June and the six pledges* that all Parliamentary candidates must sign up to, but by then it was a case of information overdose.

The Six Pledges*:

1. Call on Israel to end its violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation.
2. Oppose any attacks on universal jurisdiction and support bringing Israeli war criminals to justice
3. Work to end the siege on Gaza
4. Call on the government to ban the import of settlement goods
5. Call on the government to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement
6. Call for an end to the arms trade with Israel

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?