Tag Archives: Medical Aid for Palestinians

“Pro-Israel” Labour MP Wes Streeting hosts Friends of Palestine event, afterwards attacks me on Twitter.

Labour MP Wes Streeting with anti-Zionist map depicting 1948, UN plan 1947, 1949-1967, 2005.

Labour MP Streeting with map depicting Palestinian land in 1947, UN plan 1947, 1949-1967, 2005.

It’s de rigueur at Labour chaired anti-Israel events in Parliament for those making Israel’s case to be branded “disrupters” and threatened with removal. In April Labour MP Mark Hendrick had myself and others removed by armed police after I, literally, asked a question.

Labour MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting threatened to have me removed on Tuesday night from his Gaza on the brink? event in Parliament. My crime: passionately asking why the panel spent their time totally blaming Israel for the plight of Gazans while giving Hamas a free pass.

Admittedly, I had also congratulated the three NGO representatives on Streeting’s panel for all making a great living out a desperate situation. Streeting immediately slammed me for questioning their motives.

But the “Palestine Industry”, so to speak, is the great untold story. Aimee Shalan of Medical Aid for Palestinians, Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch and Helen Thompson of Care International all came to Parliament and spoke about the same subject. They even repeated exactly the same phrase to describe Gaza’s situation: “De-development”.

They complained how little money Gaza is receiving which, in addition to Israel’s “occupation” of Gaza, is causing this “de-development”. Shakir, Thompson and Shalan are just three of thousands receiving salaries for the same work; money that could be spent on Gazans.

Not that pledged money gets to those Palestinians in need anyway. Hamas siphons off money to build terror tunnels into Israel and the Palestinian Authority financially rewards families of Palestinian terrorists.

Shalan described how critically ill Gazan babies have relatively little medical care from nurses compared to those in the UK, how 10% of Gazan children have stunted growth and how depleted medical supplies are.

Thompson described how the elecricity crisis affects livelihoods and demanded more money from DFID for Gaza.

Shakir claimed “Israel has kept Gaza permanently closed”, that Israel has “total control of Gaza” and, of course, that Gaza is an “open air prison”. The only mention of Hamas in all three talks was when Shakir mentioned its “arbitrary arrests”.

Shakir said “because of the closure responsibility falls fully on Israel” and then demanded the UK government call on Israel to stop the ban on freedom of movement from Gaza.

SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford also spoke. She questioned why Gaza isn’t in the news and asked if the international community was too busy for Gaza. She said Israel’s ban on “dual use materials” meant Gazans scavenged for steel rods which they straightened out for use in buildings which could lead to such buildings collapsing.

Whitford said the drinking water is undrinkable, that Gaza City stinks of sewage and that there’s no radiotherapy in Gaza and only 45% of Gazans are allowed into Israel for radiotherapy (a statistic vigorously challenged by Jonathan Hoffman).

She said Israeli soldiers patrolling borders saps their potential as they are “bored out of their minds”. She claimed it isn’t a positive experience for Israel and Israelis and then said Israel should build HS2 as it builds “settlements” so quickly.

She finished off by showing the anti-Zionist map beloved of anti-Semites where Israel has taken virtually everything from the Palestinians (see above).

Whitford’s was also a Hamas-free talk and with no mention of the lengths Israel’s COGAT goes to supplying Gaza’s vital needs.

After Jonathan and I had spoken during the Q&A someone called Gary stood and complained about us “invading space and trying to disrupt the meeting.”

As described above Streeting then slammed me for questioning motives and demanded we all just concentrate on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. But when I questioned how on earth the anti-Zionist map was about the humanitarian situation Streeting threatened to have me removed.

Meanwhile, in response to my question about Hamas Shalan simply implied I was uncaring about the plight of Gazans.

Most of the remaining questions weren’t about the humanitarian situation at all. They were about the “one state solution”, the Balfour Declaration and how Israel is cracking down on NGOs like Breaking The Silence. Of course Israel isn’t doing that. Israel merely wants declarations of sources. The equivalent of Breaking the Silence, which seeks the indictment of Israeli soldiers, would never be allowed in the UK.

Streeting then finished his event with the sweeping “I’m worried about democracy in Israel.”

When he got home Streeting tweeted that I “sat there heckling and shouting” and called myself and Jonathan “rude yobs”. However, we were respectful and did absolutely nothing wrong.

Streeting is considered “pro-Israel” by many in the British Jewish community. But on this evidence, and considering the letter he signed slamming Israel “the occupying power in Gaza” and accusing Israel of “collective punishment”,  I have grave doubts about this.

(Read about Jonathan Hoffman challenging SNP MP Whitford’s 45% statistic)

Shakir (Human Rights Watch), Thompson (Care International), Streeting, Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians).

Shakir (Human Rights Watch), Thompson (Care International), Streeting, Shalan (MAP).

Employee of alleged PFLP terrorist is panellist at Amnesty International.

Rachel Strouma, Rina Rosenberg, Neil Sammonds, Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk at Amnesty. on Wednesday night.

Rachel Strouma, Rina Rosenberg, Neil Sammonds, Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk at Amnesty on Wednesday night.

So what is the logical response when you are Amnesty International’s crisis manager for Syria and there has been a recent chemical attack on his own civilians by President Assad at Khan Sheikhoun followed by 100 Syrian civilians killed by a suicide bomber as residents of the villages of Fuaa and Kafrya were being taken to safety?

Well, if you are Kristyan Benedict you arrange a meeting at Amnesty about human rights in Israel!

Benedict, Amnesty’s crisis manager for Syria, is notorious for comparing Israel to Islamic state, making a sick joke at the expense of three Jewish MPs on twitter and for threatening me when I questioned, at one of his events, an obviously doctored photo of a Palestinian boy with a Star of David allegedly carved into his arm by an Israeli soldier.

On Wednesday 19th April at Amnesty in London he assembled a panel of four human rights activists:

Rachel Strouma – Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.
Rina Rosenberg – Adalah, which is based in Israel.
Neil Sammonds – Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk – Al Haq, which is based in Ramallah.

The event was called In Pursuit of Accountability – Israeli and Palestinian NGOs working together for human rights.

Rosenberg spent her 15 minutes citing the hundreds of complaints made against the Israeli army by Adalah and other NGOs and the Israeli army’s lack of response. For example, 500 complaints were made againt the army after the 2014 war relating to 360 different incidents. The apparent result was just one indictment for looting.

Then Strouma spent hers detailing examples of maltreatment and torture of Palestinian prisoners and the lack of trust that Palestinians have in the Israeli judicial system. She concentrated mainly on the apparent three days spent by Palestinian prisoners in vans as they are transported to court from prisons and back.

She claimed that one Palestinian admitted to a crime he didn’t commit rather than spend three days in a van.

van Hoydonk works for Al Haq. The General Director of Al Haq, which is based in Ramallah, is Shawan Jabarin who was and allegedly still is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian which is responsible for hijackings and assassinations within Israel and around the world.

van Hoydonk spent her 15 minutes updating us on the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation into war crimes during the 2014 war.

During the Q&A I asked van Hoydonk whether considering her boss was, and possibly still is, a member of the PFLP, a proscribed terrorist group responsible for the murder of many innocent civilians, she really considers her own organisation, Al Haq, a human rights organisation?

Sadly, she refused to answer as you can see below (from 1 minute 25 seconds). Neil Sammonds stepped in on her behalf to explain that this was an event to address the problems in the Israeli justice system but there will be other fora to explore Palestinian issues:

The issue of the 1000 Palestinian prisoner hunger strikers was also brought up during the Q&A. Rosenberg referred to them as “political prisoners”. So while Adalah is trying to bring prosecutions against Israel soldiers it cannot even admit to Palestinian terrorists being anything more than “political prisoners”.

After the event the audience and panel members were invited to drinks and nibbles by Amnesty which is ironic considering the issues of hunger strikes, torture, murder and intentional destruction that had just been discussed and alleged.

It takes all sorts.

The Lancet, MAP and Sir Iain Chalmers’ “interesting figure” of Six Million.

Sir Iain Chalmers discussing "Zionist control in so many different domains".

Sir Iain Chalmers discussing “Zionist control in so many different domains”.

Since 2009 The Lancet medical journal has been working with Medical Aid For Palestinians and other researchers as part of the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA).

LPHA researchers mainly consist of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora, which includes Palestinians living in the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. They are also non-Palestinian medical practitioners like Dr Richard Horton, The Lancet’s editor, and Professor Mads Gilbert. This research has been amalgamated into publications for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The 2013 publication was launched last night by The Lancet and MAP at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The 2013 publication focuses on “the direct and indirect health effects of the Israeli occupation and conflict”.

Dr Richard Horton, The Lancet’s editor, outlined the benefits of LPHA saying “science can bring an often internationally excluded people into the mainstream of global political dialogue”, “Palestinian science can anatomise the pathology of occupation”, “science can confer a dignity and a humanity for a people who are otherwise living in a situation of invisibility” and:

“By linking this kind of health research with human rights one can identify important and fresh perspectives. One example is the report about the denial of passage to Palestinian women during labour across the territory which fully fulfills the criteria of a crime against humanity.”

Professor Rita Giacaman discussed “words as ideology”. She explained:

“Israel uses ‘collateral damage’ for killing innocent bystanders including children. It screams ‘self-defence’ hiding the root cause which is Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and injustice to Palestinians. While Palestinians living in Israel call themselves ‘Palestinians living inside the Green Line’, Israel insists on calling them ‘Arab’ trying to deny them their identity”.

Then to the lectern came the main instigator of LPHA, Sir Iain Chalmers. Chalmers has been an almost permanent fixture in Gaza since 1970. He met his wife there and they even went to Gaza to celebrate their recent 70th birthdays.

Chalmers started by reading out a statement on the front cover of a 2009 edition of The Lancet. It mentioned “Palestinian”. He said:

“What really pleases me is that the word ‘Palestinian’ is in there. And it’s one way in which the Zionists have failed. They have not stopped the use of the word ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’. They have control in so many different domains. This is one that they cannot suppress.”

One of Chalmers’ slides then showed this cartoon by Carlos Latuff, who has drawn many cartoons with anti-Semitic themes which include comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to The Holocaust:

Save_Gaza_now_by_Latuff2

During the Q&A I criticised Chalmers for his statement about “Zionist control” before asking whether LPHA reports mentioned the role of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA in prolonging poor health conditions for the Palestinians. My remarks only led to this eye-opening exchange with Chalmers:

Chalmers: “Let me ask you a question. I was asked to write a commentary for The Lancet after the Cast Lead attack. I ended it by saying a self-defined Jewish state now controls the lives of almost as many non-Jews as it does of Jews. What will that Jewish state do with the six million, it is an interesting figure, the six million non-Jews whose lives it controls? You answer that question.”

Me: “Why is six million an interesting figure?”

Chalmers: “Well, actually it is the same number of Jews that were killed by the Nazis.”

Me: “Whats your point?”

Chalmers: Six million is a lot of people. How will the Jewish state deal with the non-Jews whose lives it controls?

I think we know the nasty tactic behind Chalmers’ reference to “six million”. And his nasty rhetoric extends as far as endorsing “the end of a Jewish state”. Here he is in his own words during an interview in 2010:

iainchalmers2

Dr Richard Horton concluded by relating to us his visit to the Israeli Medical Association:

“When we started this I went to visit the Israeli Medical Association to talk to them about what we were doing and to see if I could build a bridge between the LPHA and the official voice of Israeli physicians and I sat down with the with the director or chairman, whatever the title is I cannot recall now, and the person who chaired their ethics (division). And in that discussion one of them called Palestinians ‘animals’. And I realised that there was no way that I was going to find an alliance to try to bring them in because there was a fundamental discontinuity of their understanding of what we were trying to do.”

I wonder if others in that meeting recall those words being used.

Afterwards I pressed Dr Horton into answering my question about whether LPHA reports mention the effect Hamas has on the health of Palestinians. His reply was along the lines of “That is a good question but this is an evolving work in progress”.

So, no mention of the effect of Hamas’ oppression of women, gays and dissidents on the mental health and physical well-being of Gazans in five years of LPHA publications?

But, then, would you criticise Hamas if you lived in, or regularly visited, Gaza?

I think Sir Iain Chalmers’ “that would be very good” response when asked about “the end of a Jewish state” during that 2010 interview possibly answers everything one needs to truly know about the politics of LPHA.

Professor Rita Giacaman, Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton, MAP's  Head of Advocacy Aimee Shalan at Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Professor Rita Giacaman, Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton, MAP’s Head of Advocacy Aimee Shalan at Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Save the children…except when they’re Israeli.

Kerry Smith (Save The Children), Lord Warner, Aimee Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians) last night.

Kerry Smith (Save The Children), Lord Warner, Aimee Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians) last night.

I was back at Parliament last night for the launch of a joint report by Save The Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians called Falling Behind – The Effect Of The Blockade On Child Health in Gaza.

The same day a report was released called Children in Military Custody. This may explain why there were only 20 people at my meeting.

It must have been a good day to release bad news about Israel. With politicians, NGOs and charities totally impotent to stop massacres in Syria and starvation and disease in Africa they got back to doing what they do best; delegitimising Israel.

I haven’t had a chance to read Children in Military Custody except to note that it starts off by stating:

“We have no reason to differ from the view of Her Majesty’s Government and the international community that these settlements are illegal.”

This despite Article 6 of the British Mandate which called for “close settlement by Jews on the land”. So when did those “settlements” suddenly become “illegal”?

Anyone?

Children in Military Custody also relies heavily on a recent report on exactly the same subject matter by Defence for Children International – Palestine Section called Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted: Children held in military detention.

How many reports on exactly the same subject do we need? Obviously there is no austerity in some NGOs and government departments (Children in Military Custody was funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The main problem with Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted is that all the testimony was taken anonymously.

Similarly, Children in Military Custody adopted the ‘Chatham House principle’ of not attributing quotes to individuals, again making it impossible to test the evidence.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Embassy in London responded to Children in Military Custody by noting that Palestinians under the age of 18 were encouraged by school textbooks and television programmes to glorify terrorism. As a result they were often involved in lethal acts which presented the Israeli authorities with serious challenges.

But the Embassy said Israel intends to study the recommendations “as part of its ongoing efforts to find the most appropriate balance between preventing violence and treating perpetrators with humanity”.

As for Falling Behind – The Effect Of The Blockade On Child Health in Gaza Kerry Smith (Humanitarian Advocacy Adviser, Save The Children) and Aimee Shalan (Director of Advocacy and Communications, Medical Aid for Palestinians) solely blamed Israel’s blockade for the apparent swathe of malnutrition and disease sweeping the children of Gaza caused by, inter alia, lack of medicines and there being (literally) no safe drinking water in Gaza.

I asked how this could be the case if the average age longevity in Gaza is better than parts of Britain, specifically Glasgow (in Gaza average life expectancy is 74.16 years).

Labour’s Lord Warner, who was chairing, explained that it was only since Israel’s blockade that there had been a rapid deterioration in child health in Gaza, therefore only in 10 to 15 years time will we truly see how far average life expectancy in Gaza has dropped as a result of the blockade.

I then asked how it was that there could be such a shortage of medicines considering the existence of the likes of Save The Children and UNRWA. Why would Israel block these medicines?

This time the blame was with Israel’s bureaucracy which meant that much of the medicine arrived out of date. Oh, and Israel kept only one crossing open (Kerem Shalom). Someone from the audience shouted that it was “all intentional”.

I also asked whether Egypt should take any  responsibility for Gaza, but was told that Egypt’s border with Gaza is closed at the request of Israel.

Hamas wasn’t mentioned once, except for when Lord Warner said that he didn’t believe it was full of terrorists.

Kerry Smith and Aimee Shalan then called for Israel to lift its blockade to enable free movement in and out of Gaza.

Should Israel heed this call it wouldn’t be long before it was burying many of its children blown up in Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombings.

So just to recap Save The Children, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Hamas, Amnesty, War on Want, Egypt etc. have no responsibility whatsoever for Gaza.

All responsibility lies totally with Israel who should immediately open itself up to the risk of Palestinian suicide bombers.

But, then again, you knew that didn’t you….