Tag Archives: international solidarity movement

Families of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall continue their war on Israel.

When Craig Corrie approached a group of pro-Israel activists outside the Hackney Empire before the start of a memorial concert for Rachel Corrie everyone was worried he would be angry. It was 1st November 2005, more than two years after Rachel Corrie, his daughter, was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. She was 23.

The activists were holding up photos of Israeli Rachels murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Rachel Thaler was 16 when she died. She was also a British citizen. The others were Rachel Levy, 17, Rachel Levi, 19, Rachel Charhi, 36, Rachel Gavish, 50, Rachel Ben Abu, 16, Rachel Kol, 53, and Rachel Shabo, 40.

As Tom Gross wrote in 2005 “Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.”

But Mr Corrie was not angry. Instead, he was very polite and after he had looked over the photos of the Rachels he said that they were all in his thoughts.

Sadly, his and his wife’s Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice now engages in the childish, ignorant politics of the average anti-Israel activist. The foundation calls for a boycott of Israel and for “the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes”, which would inevitably mean Israel’s destruction.

When I searched the foundation for mentions of the Israeli Rachels it returned “No posts found”.

Yesterday, I was at SOAS in London for the Not Afraid To Look exhibition, which is based on the photos and quotes of Tom Hurndall, aged 22 when he died from his injuries after being shot by an Israeli soldier in Gaza, and Rachel Corrie.

Both were “trained by” the International Solidarity Movement. ISM, the exhibition states, “provided support through non-violent action against arbitrary house demolitions and land theft by the occupying Israeli forces”.

Nowhere, was it mentioned that Israel imprisoned the soldier that shot Tom or that a thorough investigation acquitted the bulldozer driver of intentionally killing Rachel.

In a sideroom at SOAS I also attended a four-way Skype session that linked up activists in London, Gaza, Edinburgh and Olympia in Washington state, USA where the Corries are based. Tom’s mother, Jocelyn, was in the room in London.

Sadly, Rachel and Tom’s memories were commemorated by racist, childish songs sung from Edinburgh calling for Israel to be boycotted.

Here are some of the lines:

Don’t buy dates, don’t buy jaffa fruits, don’t buy Israeli wines, there’s a boycott going on.

Just read the labels, no looking back, if made in Israel, it stays on the rack.

Tell all your neighbours, don’t be shy, read all the labels before you shop, Israel’s apartheid’s got to stop.

Afterwards, Cindy Corrie praised those lyrics. Haider Eid, in Gaza, told the four-way Skype audience that Israel’s Operation Cast Lead “happened in response to harmless rockets from Gaza”. Meanwhile, the main guest, Jeremy Corbyn MP, failed to show up.

I can understand that the families of Tom and Rachel want justice but when you read the quotes of their children below, especially Tom’s, one has to question just what they were doing in such a dangerous predicament, especially considering that Tom arrived in Gaza AFTER Rachel had been killed.

The two families will, no doubt, continue their quest against Israel but their children should not have been in Gaza and complicity in their tragic deaths lies not just with Israel but with Yasser Arafat, who launched the bloody Second Intifada, themselves as parents for not dissuading their children from going to a war zone and with the ISM who took them there.

Quotes from Not Afraid To Look:

“It is strange to know that each night people are shot and killed for breaking military curfew. And in the darkness on the north west side there is an Israeli settlement a few hundred metres away with a military sniper in between. Any one of us four could be being watched through a sniper’s sights at this moment. The certainty is that they are watching and it is on the decision of any one Israeli soldier or settler that my life depends. I know that I’d probably never know what hit me, but it’s part of the job to be as visible as possible.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03

“Two ‘young’ brothers shot at by snipers in the tower. Mustafa hit in leg, Rushdie in throat while in the bathroom (through a misted glass window). Ironically, his best hope of survival is if his family pays $4,000 and apply to take him to Israel for treatment.” Tom Hurndall 11/4/03

“Our job is to keep water pumping machinery on-line during the curfew because Palestinian technicians would be shot at if they came out to do it. We stand a better chance.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03

“It seems that all over Palestine the strategy is the same…They shoot at water tanks on the top of houses for fun. They destroy wells, give all the water supply to settlements and place the off-switch in settlers’ hands to use as a weapon. Everything is deliberately designed to lower the standards of life for Palestinians so that they just get up and leave.” Tom Hurndall 7/4/2003

“I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world.” Rachel Corrie 27/2/03

“Rachel (Corrie) was killed in Rafah a few weeks ago. It seems so unfair. Not just on the surface but looking at the images. I wonder how few or how many heard of it on the news and just counted it as another death, just another number…” Tom Hurndall 3/4/03

Anti-Israel activists on trial next week

A heavy police presence was required again last Saturday in Monmouth Street, Covent Garden as anti-Israel protesters gathered outside the Ahava shop for the fortnightly ritual of singing anti-Israel songs, parading anti-Israel slogans and giving out anti-Israel literature.

It rounded off a good week for the protesters after David Cameron seemed to hold Israel solely responsible for the suffering of the people of Gaza as well as expecting Israel to allow any ship to enter Gaza unchallenged.

Mindful of the fact that businesses on Monmouth Street are suffering due to these regular protests a small group of pro-Israel counter-demonstrators gave out leaflets which encouraged people to shop there while the anti-Israel protesters continued with their usual leaflets that scream: “Boycott Ahava”.

The website of the International Solidarity Movement, which helps to organise the protests, states: “Police in overzealous form initially attempted to claim that a poster with a picture of a small forlorn looking Palestinian child holding a barbed wire could offend passers by. Despite threatening arrest, demonstrators successfully argued their case and were able to continue to display the picture which serves only to set out the emotional distress many Palestinian children endure.”

And on 9th, 10th, 11th August anti-Israel activists are in court once again. The website goes on to state:

“In september 2009, activists blockaded the shop to prevent it from trading with the public, in December 2009 the action was repeated. Where activists set out to do what the government, Camden Trading Standards and the police have so far refused to do, stop the trade in illegal settlement goods, they are now due in court to prove their actions were justified.”

Meanwhile, the next anti-Israel protest outside Ahava is on 14th August from midday.

Anti-Jewish jokes and selectivity at SOAS

Last night at SOAS the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network presented a talk by Uri Davis called Stop the JNF: Stop Greenwashing Apartheid. The JNF is the Jewish National Fund.

Davis is an activist author, a member of Fatah and an observer member of the PLO. He is a Muslim of Jewish origin and calls for one democratic state for two peoples on equal footing, the two peoples being the Palestinian Arab people and the Palestinian Jewish people. (Another Palestinian state, basically.)

As you can see from my five minutes of footage above I was one of at least four people in the room recording the talk with a camera when I was asked to switch mine off. Not that Uri Davis or Selma James, who was the Chair, objected or even know me but as you can see at 3 mins 41 seconds Ms James receives a note which she reads.

After I question why I should turn it off when others can continue to film Ms James takes a vote. 95% of the audience in the lecture theatre don’t know me but virtually all of them raise their arms. Ironically, you can see all the other cameras being trained on me while I’m asked to turn mine off. With the atmosphere turning hostile and security called I had to comply, although SOAS is now investigating this selectivity.

The event itself focused on undermining Israel through challenging the JNF in the courts. Davis accused the JNF of “complicity with ethnic cleansing”, for example by planting trees on old Arab villages. He suggested that Gordon Brown and Tony Blair should be similarly challenged for being JNF patrons.

Davis made the allegation that politicians are in the pay of the Zionist lobby:
“The Zionist lobby has been for decades much more powerful than we have been. Its intervention into Parliament has been much more effective because it is easier to intimidate or bribe a politician than it is to intimidate or bribe a justice.”

We then had a presentation from smashEDO made by Pete of International Solidarity Movement and Robin. smashEdo goes into factories it doesn’t like and smashes them up. EDO manufactures parts for Israel.

Pete gave us an update on court proceedings currently taking place against a group of actvists who smashed up an EDO factory in Brighton in January 2009 and he was encouraged that the judge seems to be accepting political arguments like evidence from the Goldstone Report. smashEDO view their own behaviour as non-violent seeing as, according to Pete, they are “preventing further crimes”.

This is what smashEDO does of a day out:

Next, Michael told us about a petition that has been drafted against the JNF for only Jews to sign. They wanted to make it clear through the petition that the JNF was Zionist, not Jewish and that “it wasn’t a fund, it was a fraud. It was a means of covering up decades of ethnic cleansing”.

Then, Ms James expressed satisfaction that Gil Scott-Heron and Elvis Costello had decided to boycott Israel, although they had failed with Joan Armatrading. According to Ms James this was “unsurprising as Joan Armatrading has always been right wing. I believe she’s a ‘black Tory’. They do have them”.

We were told that the Holocaust was not an exception and Ms James stated that “as Israel falls more injustices will be revealed. For example, Sri Lanka has a better chance as Israel goes down. We are fighting Zionisms on many fronts”.

Finally, while a hat was being passed round for financial contributions Uri Davis told a joke:

“A catholic priest, a protestant priest and a rabbi decide to hold a charity day and at the end they have to decide what to do with the money. The Protestant priest thinks they should draw a circle on the floor and throw the money in the air. What lands inside the circle is ‘G-d’s money’ and therefore goes to charity and what lands outside is for us to divide up for ourselves. The Catholic priest thinks that a good idea but the money should be thrown in the air and what lands outside the circle is ‘G-d’s money’ and should go to charity and what lands inside the circle should be for us. The Jewish Rabbi disagrees. He thinks they should throw all the money in the air and what G-d wants He takes and what falls down we take.” Cue laughter and applause.

I cannot see the relevance of this joke in the context of the meeting but I do know that had a similar joke been made about, for example, blacks or Muslims there would have been valid anger, not laughter and applause.

I have to say that, having studied there, SOAS is one of the world’s great universities for both academic study and for the environment that it engenders among people of all faiths and none for open, lively and peaceful debate. SOAS only provided the room and had no say in the proceedings last night but what I heard in that room is not something that should be allowed in to any British University. Davis, James and the audience shamed themselves.