With much fanfare, the AFL Peace Team (an Australian rules football team made up of Palestinian and Israeli players) has once again come to Australia to compete in the AFL International Cup running from August 12 to 27. Indeed, what can be more appealing for those of us who are passionate about peace in Israel-Palestine than to welcome this team of Palestinian and Israeli youth who have learned to play and interact not as enemies but as teammates?
A leaked report from the notorious Indonesian special forces unit Kopassus detailing information about the West Papuan independence movement has drawn attention to Indonesia's brutal occupation of the region. The report is titled “Anatomy of Papuan Separatists” and is believed to have been written in 2009. It profiles opponents of Indonesian rule, including political activists and guerilla fighters. It also listed foreign politicians and journalists who supported Papuan liberation.
On August 18, as I woke up to the news of an attack that took place in Israel's southernmost city of Eilat in which seven Israelis died, the first thing that came to my mind was: “Who the hell did it?” As my brother excitedly narrated to me the details of the oddly mysterious incident, I was foolish enough to wish the assailants weren’t from Gaza. I naively said to my brother: “Let’s hope they don’t turn out to be Gazans.”
Inspired by Brisbane flash mob actions in support of the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” campaign against Israel, I hunted for songs to adapt and use here in Newcastle. I came across flash mobs action around Australia, France and the US. And then I came across a song, that rocked me way back to the early '80s. “The” song in the era of action against South Africa’s apartheid was “Free Nelson Mandela” by English ska band The Specials. “Freedom for Palestine” by British-based collective Oneworld is the equivalent for our era of action against Israel’s apartheid practices.
As part of the “Don’t Dance for Israeli Apartheid” campaign in Ireland ― organized by the Irish Palestine Solidarity Committee (IPSC) ― activists in Dublin are protesting Irish dance troupe Riverdance’s decision to perform in Israel in September, ElectronicIntifada.net said on August 11. IPSC is organising a protest on August 18 outside the Gaiety Theater ― “the final action in our series of ongoing protests before Riverdance heads to perform for Israeli Apartheid”.
Martin Ferris, Sinn Fein TD (member of the Dublin-based parliament, the Dail) for Kerry, visited Australia at the end of July. Ferris spoke to hundreds of people at public meetings in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne on the economic crisis in Ireland. He also spoke on the struggle to reunify the six counties in Ireland's north still controlled by Britain with the 26 counties that make up the southern state.
Thousands of West Papuans rallied for independence on August 2, despite attempts by the Indonesian government to scare people away. About 10,000 people protested across Indonesian-occupied West Papua, Radio Australia's Pacific Beat said on August 3. They demanded a referendum on independence from Indonesia. The largest protest took place in the capital Jayapura. Hundreds of heavily armed riot police and soldiers hindered protesters marching from Abepura and Waena who were trying to march into Jayapura, West Papua Media Alerts said on August 2.
On my first day in Cuba, in 1967, I waited in a bus queue that was really a conga line. Ahead of me were two large, funny females resplendent in frills of blinding yellow; one of them had an especially long bongo under her arm. When the bus arrived, painted in Cuba's colours for its inaugural service, they announced that the gringo had not long arrived from London and was therefore personally responsible for this breach in the United States' blockade. It was an honour I could not refuse.
The Israeli ambassador to Spain, Raphael Schutz, has just finished his term in Madrid. In an op-ed in Israeli paper Haaretz’s Hebrew edition, he summarised what he termed as a very dismal stay and seemed genuinely relieved to leave. This kind of complaint now seems to be the standard farewell letter of all Israeli ambassadors in western Europe.
Venezuelan foreign affairs minister Nicolas Maduro has criticised the US government for having an “absurd and extremist” policy with regards to Venezuela. Maduro made the comments after the publication of a report in late July that outlines the US government’s tactics for dealing with transnational criminal organisations. The document cites Venezuela as a country that promotes a “permissive environment for narco-trafficking and terrorist organisations”.