PERTH — Jewish American author Anna Baltzer spoke to a packed audience of more than 100 people at a forum hosted by Friends of Palestine WA on October 21. She began by explaining that there were differences between the words "Jewish" (relating to faith or kinship), "Israeli" (relating to citizenship in the state of Israel) and "Zionist" (a political ideology). Most of her presentation documented the illegal occupation of Palestinian land sponsored by the state of Israel and the effects of that occupation.
Boats — an enemy evoked by major Australian political parties to win elections — have become a symbol of international resistance to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. This is particularly the case since Israeli commandos attacked an aid flotilla headed for Gaza in May, killing nine people. With this in mind, the Berlin Coalition for Gaza (BCG) launched a one-boat “flotilla” through an inner-city Berlin canal on October 15.
“History was made early today on the other side of the world”, said Grant Morgan, an Auckland-based organiser of the Kia Ora Gaza convoy bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s siege. Kia Ora is a six-person New Zealand team that has joined the Viva Palestina covoy. “The vicious Israeli siege of Gaza has been broken by an international aid convoy of 400 volunteers from 30 countries driving 150 vehicles carrying vital medical supplies worth NZ$7 million.”
On September 2, direct talks began between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority with the US government acting as mediator. US President Barack Obama has declared the success of these “peace talks” to be a main foreign policy goal of the last two years of his term. But whatever their outcome, the talks cannot end the conflict because both sides are not evenly represented. The mediator, the US, is the major financial, political and military sponsor of one of the parties to the conflict, Israel.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority started on September 2. After the resumption of negotiations, Israel refrained from attacking Gaza for just two days. Then it ordered the bombing of two Rafah tunnels that connect the besieged Gaza Strip to Egypt, killing two workers, and leaving two severely injured.
At the beginning of August the Israeli government announced it would cooperate with one out of two international United Nations-sponsored investigation commissions into the May 31 Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon claimed the move was “unprecedented”. The commission is composed of four people, one chosen by Turkey, one chosen by Israel and two chosen from a list provided by Israel. The latter two are former prime minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer, who will be the chair, and outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who will serve as vice-chair.
The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) apparently screened Iraqi film Son of Babylon against the wishes of the filmmakers — who object to the sponsorship of the MIFF by the apartheid state of Israel. Israel faces an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign by opponents of its oppression of Palestinians. As with the international campaign against South African apartheid, this includes a call for a cultural boycott.
Early on July 27, Israeli bulldozers, flanked by helicopters and throngs of police, demolished the entire Bedouin village of al Araqib in the northern Negev desert. Despite having land rights cases pending in the court system, hundreds of al Araqib villagers were instantly made homeless a month after Israeli police posted demolition orders. Eyewitness reports say the police were accompanied by several busloads of right-wing Israeli civilians who cheered during the demolitions.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat said on July 15 the Libyan aid ship, Amaltheal (“Hope”) docked the night before at al-Arish in Egypt. The ship was bearing 2000 tons of aid supplies for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel. The ship’s odyssey from Greece was marked by uncertainty and danger for the 21 passengers. It developed a mechanical problem that made it move very slowly on July 14. There was a question about whether its captain might try to take it right into Gaza, despite the Israeli military’s blockade.
Canada & Israel: Building Apartheid By Yves Engler Fernwood Publishing/Red Publishing Toronto, 2010, 168 pages. Most Canadians today would probably agree that their country's foreign policy is pro-Israel. Even Canada's “liberal” supporters of Israel complain that siding so explicitly with Israel damages Canada's role of a peacemaker. It signals a shift away from the country's perceived balanced approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The following statement was released on June 27 by the group Palestinian Queers for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions – an international campaign to isolate Israel in protest against its treatment of Palestinians). Support for the BDS campaign has grown significantly since Israel’s massacre of peace activists on a boat taking aid to Gaza on May 31. * * * Palestinian Queers for BDS call upon all queer groups, organisations and individuals around the world to boycott the apartheid state of Israel.
The statement below was released by Asian left groups on June 25. To add your organisation’s name, email email@example.com. * * * Israel stands increasingly isolated after its manufactured confrontation on May 31, 2010, with the peace flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara were murdered. So now is the time to increase the pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza.
Seven oxygen machines donated to the Palestinian Authority by a Norwegian development agency were seized by Israeli officials, Ma’an news agency said on June 25. The Ramallah-based PA health ministry said the machines were en route to hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank. The ministry said in a June 24 statement that Israeli officials confiscated the machines, claiming the generators attached “came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes” if they were delivered to Gaza.
On June 14, Muhammad Juma Abu Wardeh, a 17-year-old Palestinian labourer, was shot and wounded by Israeli snipers along the “buffer zone” in eastern Gaza as he collected materials for a cement plant in Jabaliya, north of Gaza City. Israel’s ongoing blockade against the Gaza Strip has prevented access to raw construction materials, forcing workers to risk their lives to trawl open agricultural areas for resources.
Lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people across the world have rejected Israel’s brutal occupation of Gaza and are coming out in support of the boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) campaign. In the wake of Israel’s bloody attack on the Freedom Flotilla and murder of peace activists on May 31, the myth that Israel is a liberal democratic state has been dispelled. But Israel continues to try to market itself as the only “gay haven” in the Middle East.
For more international union actions against Israel, see here Solidarity with the Palestinian people - three-day strike for Israel commercial vessels World Federation of Trade Unions Athens, June 8th 2010 www.wftucentral.org E-mails : firstname.lastname@example.org Dear colleagues, trade unionists and workers,