Tag Archives: SOAS Palestine Society

Israelis accused of rape and organ harvesting at SOAS.

Last night SOAS lecturer Rafeef Ziadah hosted SOAS’ first “Israel Apartheid Week” panel event in front of 300 students and it wasn’t long before the sickening propaganda started flying.

Sahar Francis of Addameer, a prisoner support group, said that Palestinian hunger striker Islam Hamed was threatened with rape by his guards and that Israel’s prison authorities hoped he would die so the courts would implement a “forced feeding bill”.

She continued that Israel has been rumoured to harvest organs from its own car accident victims and from dead Palestinians. However, she said, she couldn’t confirm this (search Israel Advocacy Movement on Facebook to see the video of Francis).

Steven Salaita, an American author, who was once hired and immediately fired by an American university was also on the panel. He claimed last night this was because his course, in which he would humanise indigenous Americans, was too emotional for Americans to cope with.

He spent most of his 20 minutes last night viciously attacking those who support Israel. He asked what a student should do when someone expresses a visceral attachment to Israel. He answered:

“Allow a Zionist’s internal conflict to exist. Exacerbate it!”

He said that “humanising Palestinians undermines the Zionist project” and so Zionists associate Palestinians with Hitler and “have a fear of binationalism which is actual democracy” (this drew huge applause and cheers).

He continued that “Israel directs so much of its violence at children and takes more Palestinian land for water and agriculture”.

He then mused on the symbolism of Palestinians throwing stones. He said there’s a miniscule chance of harm from stones (although tell that to the family of Asher Palmer who was killed along with his one year old son when a Palestinian thrown rock smashed through their car windscreen).

He said Israelis see stone-throwing as “an act of rejection” and that “stones assume primordial importance and an existential anxiety”.

He then compared the indigenous Americans to the Palestinians and spoke about his forthcoming book on the topic. I called out at the end of the Q&A why we shouldn’t be boycotting both himself and America to which he just gave me a vacant smile.

Black Students’ Officer, Malia Bouattia, was also on the panel fresh from her appearance on Channel 4 News when Jon Snow flummoxed her when he asked her which other countries besides Israel she was boycotting.

I asked her again. She replied that when the call comes from Saudi Arabians to boycott Saudi Arabia then she will. She obviously doesn’t know what happens to protesters in Saudi Arabia.

The event was sponsored by War On Want, yet again, and I confronted WOW executive director John Hilary at the end telling him how disgusting it was that WOW uses resources that should help disabled people on anti-Semitic events instead.

The evening became more farcical when six police officers appeared led by a middle-aged woman pointing them towards me saying I have orders against me and am banned from the area for disrupting a funeral!

The police were very, very nice towards me though. They had no idea why they were called or who called them.

It would have been nice to have leaflets to give out; something I have always asked for. As students filed out I told them “Don’t believe the lies, there are two sides to every story”. Many stopped and wanted to know the other side but I and my contemporaries had no leaflets and so some 300 students went home believing Israelis rape prisoners and harvest organs from dead bodies.

“Israeli Apartheid Week” continues for the next two weeks at SOAS where there is an exhibition of photos of Palestinian rock-throwers and dead Palestinians with claims that they have been “executed” by Israel. All this is going virtually unchallenged as is the case throughout the country.

Police called to SOAS event last night but they didn't know why.

Police called to SOAS event last night but they didn’t know why.

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My provocative question to the panel at “Israel tortures Palestinian children” event.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Mohammed Abu al Reesh, Bernard Regan at SOAS last night.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Mohammed Abu al Reesh, Bernard Regan at SOAS last night.

Last night I asked a provocative question. At SOAS Palestine Society’s Palestinian Child Prisoners: How the Israeli military criminalises a generation I asked Mohammed Abu al Reesh and Ayed Abu Eqtaish what they would like to say to the family of Asher Palmer and his son, one year old Yonatan, both killed when a rock thrown by a Palestinian smashed through the windscreen of the car in which Asher was driving his little boy.

I know it was a “provocative question” because Bernard Regan, who was chairing the meeting, prefaced my question by instructing his audience not to respond to questioners “even if the question seems provocative” but to leave it to the panel to respond.

My “provocative question” was in response to Abu al Reesh, an ex-rock-thrower-turned-journalist, who is on a UK wide tour speaking about his time in Israeli prisons, and Abu Eqtaish, who works for Defence For Children International Palestine Section.

Mohammed Abu al Reesh now works for Al Quds newspaper, but when he was 15 years old he was approached by an Israeli army jeep during a curfew. He claims he was beaten up and so threw stones at the jeep in response. He said he was then arrested at 3am in the night, handcuffed, placed in a military vehicle under the feet of Israeli soldiers and taken away.

He alleged that during his first interrogation he was punched, slapped and threatened with sexual harassment by means of using a stick. During transfers between detention centres he was tied by his arms to the roof of the vehicle.

On reaching Atzion detention centre near Hebron, he continued, he was pushed down the stairs and was put in a small cell with 12 people in it. The cell, he said, had a bad smell and dirty mattresses and inmates were only allowed to go to the toilet once a day and had to use plastic bottles to pee in for the remainder of the day. Food, he said, was little and of poor quality consisting mainly of food left uneaten by Israeli soldiers.

Eventually he reached a plea bargain and spent 28 months in Damon prison near Haifa and by the end of his prison term he said he had skin problems and was weak physically. The good news, he said, was that he could sit his High School exams while in prison and scored a mark of 72. Two weeks after his release he enrolled at Al Quds University where he studied journalism for four years.

Within a year of leaving university he was working for Al Quds newspaper where he covers the arrest of children. And now he’s here on a UK wide speaking tour.

Next, Ayed Abu Eqtaish claimed that Israeli interrogators use psychological torture techniques on children in order to try to extract proper confessions. These include lengthy spells of solitary confinement after which a child will become “eager for human contact” and, therefore, more likely to confess. They also include, he said, threats of sexual abuse, threats to throw the child out of a window and threats made against members of the child’s family.

Abu Eqtaish said there is no point complaining because the Israeli authorities always close any case they open on the basis that there is “no cooperation from the child or the family”. He said that 60% of prosecutions are for stone throwing and there is a 99.74% conviction rate overall.

I was barracked from the moment I entered the lecture theatre to the moment I left it, with one woman screaming “Why is he here?”

I wasn’t barracked by students though. You see, despite it being a student society event there were hardly any students in the 70 strong audience, which seemed to consist mainly of teachers who were members of the NUT.

Bernard Regan, who chaired the event, is Trade Union Officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a leading figure in the Socialist Teachers Alliance.

Kirri Tunks, who also spoke, belongs to the East London Teachers Association. She was there last night to urge people to sign a pledge ensuring “the rights of Palestinian children”. I was there, yes, but at least I’m a SOAS alumnus, and a proud one.

A father had even brought his young son, who could not have been more than 10 years old. The young boy heard a woman in the audience make the allegation that when she had recently visited Hebron stones had been thrown at her by Israeli “settlers” while some of her friends had “faeces and urine thrown at them”.

With a room full of teachers, Abu Eqtaish who works for an organisation dedicated to child welfare and Abu al Reesh who has been able to make something positive out of his teenage rock-throwing and imprisonment I was hoping, although not expecting, that someone might have at least a word of sympathy for the family of one year old Yonatan Palmer, who now lies in his tiny grave because of another Palestinian rock-thrower.

And so I asked Abu al Reesh  and Abu Eqtaish my “provocative question”. This was Abu Eqtaish’s whole and sole response:

“This question should be directed to the Israeli government who broke international law by bringing 500,000 illegal settlers into occupied Palestinian territories. Their existence in the occupied territories is illegal, so the family of the child should sue the Israeli government for what was done against them.”

As for Mohammed Abu al Reesh, ex-rock-thrower-turned-journalist, he remained silent and just gave a long, chilling stare.

I’m still trying to work out which of these two responses is more despicable.

“Please Allah, kill all the Jews.”

It is amazing what you hear at some universities these days.

Last night the SOAS Palestine Society showed a new film called, bemusingly, To Shoot an Elephant, which is an almost two hour documentary about activists helping Palestinian paramedics in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

The title seemed apt in that it was like watching tourists on safari trying to film a kill, except in the film’s case the kill were to be only young Palestinian children.

There was lots of tragic footage of dead Palestinian children moments after they had passed away in hospital. The footage was heartbreaking but inexplicable in its lack of respect for the privacy of the dead and injured.

We were also shown dead children in the hospital morgue.

Tragic scenes of dead and mutilated Israeli children used to occur regularly in Israeli hospitals until Israel built that so-called evil “apartheid wall”.

Israel also builds shelters to protect its children. Hamas doesn’t. That was very apparent from the film.

Although the lack of protective shelters was obviously not mentioned in the film as one of the main causes of civilian casualties it is so obvious that a biased audience is bound to miss it.

Before the film started we were warned that we will hear the term “Al Yahud” quite a few times, but although it means “Jews” in Arabic we should understand that in the Palestinian context it means Israelis.

This is because, apparently, when the Palestinians see a Star of David on an Israeli soldier’s uniform they see him as Jewish eventhough he is Israeli.

I tried to be open minded.

I accepted that explanation even after seeing one Palestinian, who had had his fruit stall damaged, refer to Jews as “dogs”.

However, then we came to a funeral where an Imam was saying prayers not for the souls of the dead children but for the murder of every Jew.

When, at the end, I objected to this scene I was merely accused of playing “the anti-Semitism card” or taking the words out of context.

Judging by the flags in the background the funeral seems to have been arranged by Hamas and, possibly, Hezbollah. Here are the words of the Imam and the clip:

Allah is the greatest.
He who thanks Allah will be rewarded.
Oh Allah, loosen your power and strength on the Jews. (Amen.)
Please Allah, kill them all…
And don’t leave any of them alive. (Amen.)
Oh Allah, with your great power. Allah!
We are asking you with your infinite power, dear Allah. Allah!
Please dear Allah, take revenge for our martyrs’ blood. Allah!
Please Allah, get rid of the Jews.
Bring them down.
They are not as powerful as you.
Please Allah, make the earth shake and destroy the pillars of their civilisation.
Please Allah, cast fear and terror into their hearts.
Oh Allah disperse them so they become lost once again.
Oh Allah, show us a sign.
Oh Allah, surprise them in a way they don’t expect.
Oh Allah, cast fear and terror into their hearts.

To Shoot an Elephant is coming to a university near you soon.

Remember, when you see the above scene that, despite what he is saying, the Imam only wants all Israelis dead, not all Jews.

And whatever you do don’t play “the anti-Semitism card”.

You have been told.