Palestine

“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.

Over October 29-31, Palestinian solidarity activists from around Australia and the world will meet for the first national boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conference.

The call for a global boycott campaign against Israel was first launched in July 2005. It has become a big part of the movement against the occupation of Palestine.

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 May 31, Australian activists Ahmed Talib and Jerry Campbell were on board the Mavi Marmara, in international waters, en route to Gaza to deliver much needed aid to its besieged residents. Israeli commandos attacked the ship and shot dead nine solidarity activists. Talib was one of several activists shot and wounded. He and Campbell described the attack at a September 22 forum sponsored by Justice For Palestine.

Talib said: “The Israeli siege of Gaza had continued for three years, with world governments and international organisations not really doing anything against it.”

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.

By attacking the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (GFF) in international waters on May 31, Israel intended to deter people from attempting to break the siege of Gaza. However, since the attack, organisers have been inundated with calls and emails from people around the world wanting to join the next flotilla.

Coordination for the next fleet has begun and GFF supporters in Australia want to raise $145,000 to send a contingent of 17 people from Australia and send aid as well.

People will break the siege of Gaza, not governments.

Palestinian-Iraqi refugees are some of the forgotten victims of the Iraq war. In 1948, Palestinians were forced to flee from Palestine and became refugees.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 34,000 Palestinian refugees were living in Iraq when the United States and its allies invaded in 2003.

After the invasion, many Palestinians faced harassment, threats of deportation, death threats, abuse by the media, arbitrary detention, torture and murder.

Review by Mat Ward

Fit to Print: Misrepresenting the Middle East
By Joris Luyendijk
Scribe Publications, 250 pages, $29.95

If you've ever felt like shaking your fist in anger at some of the reporting that comes out of the Middle East, this very honest book by a disillusioned Middle East correspondent will make you shake your head in wonder.

Joris Luyendijk says he had no journalistic experience when he was hired by a newspaper in his native Netherlands to report on the Middle East. He was taken on solely because he could speak Arabic.

It is a film that advocates peace, yet the head of the ABC decided it was too controversial to be viewed by the Australian public.

In May, the ABC pulled the plug on an independent film documenting daily life of Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank.

Now, thanks to the power of public pressure, the ABC is reconsidering whether to broadcast Inka Stafrace’s documentary Hope in a Slingshot.

Letters are flying thick and fast to the ABC, asking the broadcaster to air Stafrace’s film.

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