Palestine

More than 100 Palestine solidarity activists gathered in Melbourne over October 29-31 for Australia's first national BDS conference.

Palestinian civil society groups called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel five years ago. The BDS campaign demands an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the dismantlement of the separation wall in the West Bank, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Anna Baltzer is a US activist who worked in Palestine with the International Women's Peace Service documenting human rights abuses. She is author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories.

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.”

Palestinian activists in the occupied West Bank have called for the boycott of the popular Rami Levy Israeli supermarket chain. The chain has several stores inside Israel’s illegal settlements.

Activists say they will call on fellow Palestinians to “avoid supporting the occupation and settlements’ economy by boycotting Israeli goods and settlement stores”.

A vigil was held on September 23 outside the Rami Levy store inside the Sha’ar Binyamin settlement south of Bethlehem.

The following open letter to US folk singer Peter Seeger was released on September 15 by the Palestinians Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel and 16 other organisations based in Gaza. It urges Seeger, a long-time supporter of social justice causes, to not break the global boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign by performing at an Israeli-organised “virtual rally”. It is reprinted from the website of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, Usacbi.wordpress.com

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Dear Mr Seeger,

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.

The article is abridged from an August 11 Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report.

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The signs which dot the beach along the Gaza City waterfront read: "This beach is polluted.” Yet they serve only as obstacles for children running to the sea, rather than warnings of the serious health risks.

One need only stroll north along the beach for a couple hundred metres to see raw sewage being pumped directly into the Mediterranean Sea from one of the 16 discharge sites along the coast.

Yet thousands of people fill Gaza's beaches.

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