Saturday, 11 June 2016

The latest WFPSC Walthamstow stall and call for HP boycott

The picture is of the Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC) activists setting up a stall in Walthamstow Town Square earlier today, Saturday 11 June.

The special theme this week was raising awareness amongst the Walthamstow Saturday shoppers about Hewlett Packard, which is sadly not only into printers and computers but also heavily involved in the decades long oppression of Palestinians by Israel – more here:
The next WFPSC stall will be on the 25 June 11am-2pm outside TKMaxx near Leyton tube.
Come for a chat and to pick up Palestine info materials and Zeytoun olive oil and other produce by the Palestinian farmers.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The day of UK-wide boycott actions against the HP on 4th June 2016

The pictures are from today's boycott actions across UK against the Hewlett Packard (HP) in Tottenham Court Road, central London. WFPSC participated and on the next Saturday the 11th, WFPSC will have a local HP action in Walthamstow. We will keep you posted.

The Son of An Israeli General Speaks Out On Justice For Palestine

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Campaigning in Leytonstone

Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign's (WFPSC) run a stall and leafleted in Leytonstone, outside Matalan, yesterday (Saturday 28 May '16).

Lots of strong support was expressed for ‪#‎palestine‬ and ‪#‎bds , with people stating interest to join us. Reading the label and not buying Israeli dates for the forthcoming Ramadan was the hot subject.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Join the day of action against the HP on Saturday 4 June

As you will know HP is a key target for the Boycott National Committee (BNC) and one of the priorities of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which says:

‘….The objective of the Day of Action is to highlight HP’s deep participation in Israel’s brutal Occupation and its apartheid system and to encourage more and more people to sign the pledge not to buy HP products.
Details of the day of action, a new website dedicated to the campaign and a range of resources will be available soon. Stay in touch for more information very soon.
HP is the second largest investor in Israeli Information Technology (IT). Its technology and equipment facilitate both the illegal Israeli occupation and apartheid, especially through the development of its biometric system used for population and territorial control and surveillance of Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory.
• The Checkpoints – HP’s Basel system is installed at the Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. This deprive Palestinians of freedom of movement in violation of international law. When the Presbyterian Church wrote to the company about this, it replied saying that this: ‘reduc(es) friction between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers at barrier checkpoints while expediting the passage process’.[1]
• The Israeli Military – HP provided the IT infrastructure for the Israeli Navy, thereby helping to enforce the blockade of Gaza, and supplies the computer systems for the Ministry of Defence.
• The settlements – HP employs settlers in Beithar Illit and provides services and technologies to two of the largest in the occupied West Bank (Modi’in Illit and Ariel).
• Biometric ID cards – occupied territories – HP facilitates Israeli control of the Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank with its biometric identification of Palestinian civilians. The ID numbers for these Green cards that bear the PNA insignia are assigned by Israel, which controls the Palestinian population registry.
• Biometric ID cards – citizens of Israel – HP facilitates Israeli apartheid with the development of its biometric system that differentiates between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel, among other ethnicities and religions. In other words, “this system takes to a new level of technology the stratification of citizenship rights.”
• Certainly in 2012, the HP Labs based at Technion University (Haifa) was its largest centre for research and development. (Technion itself is considered highly complicit in the Occupation and the Siege and attacks on Gaza being a base for research and development for a wide range of military equipment, with close links to Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Elbit Systems. (working mainly on surveillance and attack drones.[2]Further information is available from ‘Who Profits’.[3]
Sign the pledge now:
[3] ....’

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Successful BDS Public Meeting on 20 April'16

Our BDS Public Meeting in Leytonstone attracted lots of interest with more that 50 people attending.

We heard a first hand account of continuous attempts by Israel to destroy Palestinian academic institutions, by Mike Cushman a head of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP).

Our fellow French BDS activist, Jean-Guy Greilsamer, of the French Jewish Peace Union, talked about French BDS movement growing inspite attempts by the French authorities to make it illegal.

We heard great contributions from the floor about the Christian Zionism, attacks on anti-Zionist Labour members who are labelled as anti-Semites, Prevent targeting Muslims. An example was given of radicalisation in a state funded Jewish school in Hackney, where children draw a map of Israel over whole of Palestine, which goes unnoticed.

Video of the presentations is here

Jean-Guy's talk can be found further down after the photos form the event.

Jean-Guy's talk:

Good evening everyone.

I thank the Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign for having invited me.
My English is not very good, but I am going to try to make my presentation in English. An English comrade who lives in France has helped me with the translation.
But for the debate I shall need a translator, and I want to thank Lola.

Just to introduce myself, I was born in 1946, I used to work for the Town Hall of Paris and I'm now retired. I come from a Jewish family which escaped the Nazi holocaust, and I had a Jewish education up until my Bar Mitzvah. I want to point out that, as a Jew, I had a normal childhood, because at that time the Jewish community did not have paranoid tendencies like today, and my parents did not spend their time nagging me to honour the memory of the holocaust. I am an activist in the BDS Campaign in France, and since 2003 I am a member of UJFP, the French Jewish Peace Union, which supports the rights of the Palestinian people and participates in the BDS Campaign.

So, I am going to speak to you about the French situation regarding the BDS movement, first about the French background, and then about the outlook for the future in France and in other countries concerned by BDS.

The French background is specific for several reasons.

First of all, BDS is a sensitive subject in France because France is the European country which has the largest Jewish population (about six hundred thousand, although the number is difficult to estimate) and also the largest Arab and Arab Muslim population (about 6 millions or more, but that is also difficult to estimate).

Now I am going to speak about, on the one hand, the weaknesses of BDS in France, and on the other hand the good potential that exists there for the movement.

First the weak points.

In France there is an aggressive Zionist lobby, which is attacking the BDS movement.
There is at the same time a difficult situation because of the general attacks on civil liberties, under the guise of fighting terrorism, combined with the so-called « state of emergency ».

The Zionist lobby is, on one side, composed of the body that calls itself the CRIF - whose acronym means The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France - together with Zionist entities that bring legal charges against BDS activists, and on the other side we have the French government.

The government considers the CRIF as its official partner representing the Jewish community in France, whereas in fact this body, which represents only a small part of the Jewish community, is just a conveyor belt for Israeli policies.

The majority of the Jewish French population is certainly Zionist but there is a diversity of opinions within in it, just as there is within any other population. And the UJFP to which I belong represents a minority current of opinion but it is not a tiny one.

It is important to separate the CRIF and the government, because nothing forces the French government to develop a Zionist policy. To believe that the government is obliged to obey the CRIF would reinforce anti-Semitic conspiracy theories according to which the Jews try to dominate the world.

I want to underline the influence wielded in France by the LICRA (Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme), the International League against Racism and anti-Semitism. The LICRA is a so-called “anti-racist” NGO, but in reality it attacks BDS in the courts, and it will do so again in a trial to be held in the month of June in Toulouse. LICRA is the government's favourite partner on anti-racism issues.

Our government, run by the supposedly “socialist” party, and especially our Prime Minister Manuel Valls, conflates anti-Zionism and BDS with anti-Semitism, and it does not reject the conflation with terrorism that is made by the Israeli government.

Generally speaking, the nature of the attacks on BDS in France, which fully fits in with the attacks on civil liberties, is either to try to state that BDS is illegal, or to denounce BDS. BDS is presented as anti-Semitic and as an obstacle to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The aim of these attacks is to intimidate the BDS activists and to make the public believe that BDS is illegal.
In some municipalities the goal is to forbid any municipal body to provide services, such as rooms for public meetings, that could be useful for the BDS campaign.

In February 2010 Mrs Alliot-Marie, the justice minister at the time, sent out a circular, called « the Alliot-Marie circular », to all the public prosecutors urging them to pursue activists who call for boycotting Israeli goods. But a circular is not a law, and most of the judges didn’t implement this circular.

In October 2015, a ruling by the Court of Cassation, (the highest French court), confirmed a judgement that had condemned the boycott of Israeli goods. This ruling states that boycotting Israeli goods discriminates against the producers and suppliers belonging to a « nation », that is to say, the Israeli so-called « nation »
Last March, another ruling by the Court of Cassation confirmed the conviction of a different group of activists for this reason and also for “hindering the freedom to trade”.

But these are only two rulings by the Court of Cassation. Previous rulings by this Court declared that the boycott is not illegal because it is a form of freedom of expression, and the majority of the trials resulted in acquittals.
In fact, there is no law in France against BDS: so, BDS is not illegal.

Another weak point in the French context is the negative evolution of the intellectual élite. Whereas, for a long time, the intellectual scene in France was marked by prominent anti-colonial figures, today that scene is dominated by Zionist or Islamophobic intellectuals who all speak with one voice. This phenomenon doesn't only concern views about Israel and Palestine, it is part of what can be called society's shift to the Right.

But the BDS Campaign in France isn't just about its weak points, it's also about its good potentiality.

This is what I'm going to bring up now.

The basic strong point is that, in the French population, there is a real empathy for the Palestinian people. One can say that the average French person is more sensitive to the Palestinian cause and to the dangerousness of the State of Israel than the average politician, who is much more timid.

When we carry out actions in open public spaces, a lot of people display their sympathy, they readily sign petitions of solidarity or petitions denouncing the policies of Israel and its allies, and they defend us if we're verbally attacked by Zionists. A poll showed that two-thirds of the French have a negative image of Israel, and when people are asked which States they consider to be the most dangerous in the world, the majority put Israel in the top group.

It's clear that there is real resistance to the repressive measures in France against BDS. Of the hundred complaints that were filed against activists, the majority were dismissed and no follow-up action was taken. And when cases did come to court, the majority have resulted in acquittals.

Following the ruling by the Court of Cassation, which upheld the conviction of activists in the Mulhouse region, BDS actions have nevertheless been able to continue. This would not have been possible if the majority of the French population supported Israel's policies.

In addition, the victories achieved by the BDS campaign in France are not to be underestimated. BDS France largely contributed to the collapse of the Israeli fruit and vegetable exporter Agrexco, and to the victories against Sodastream. Sodastream was barred from exhibiting at an ecological fair and it was recently removed from the list of sponsors of the International Comics Festival in Angoulême. We played a part in bringing to an end the agreement between the telephone company Orange and the Israeli company Partner Communications, and also in Veolia's total withdrawal from Israel.

Two companies have cancelled their participation in the funicular railway designed to link illegal colonies to Jerusalem, after being warned by the French ministries of finance and foreign affairs, as well as by the solidarity movement, about the legal problems and the risks involved.

We have also achieved victories on the cultural-boycott front.

In France there is a large potential for mobilising support, notably amongst young people with an immigrant background. For these young people, who often suffer from racist policies in the poor suburbs, the Palestinian people are a symbol and at the same time a true example of the oppressed. The Palestinians have for a long time been victims of a colonial policy, and the youth of immigrant origin often suffer the consequences of French colonial policy, past and present.

In the situation of distress and political confusion that exists in France today, many people who once belonged to a political party now prefer to engage primarily in the BDS campaign. I don't want to judge their behaviour, I'm just reporting on this situation. These activists say to us: “with BDS, at least I know what I'm fighting for”.

In the same way, a lot of people who were not really involved in collective actions, or who jumped around between various humanitarian causes, are now taking the plunge and getting involved in the BDS movement. They tell us that this type of grassroots, anti-racist and non-violent movement suits them very well.

One important element is that BDS resonates with some major causes in France:

• Anti-racism: what is at stake, not only in Israel and Palestine but also in France, is the ability to live together in equality and justice, whatever our origins may be, and the rejection of the clash-of-civilisations ideology.
• Anti-colonialism: France has a long history of colonial policies – and anti-colonial movements -- and the Israeli policy against the Palestinian people is the longest contemporary colonial war, which directly concerns the western world.
• The values of justice, freedom and equality, in general, symbolised by the Palestinian people, whether it be in the world of work or in society as a whole.
• The anti-war movement: because Israel is a danger to world peace and because in France we have to struggle against a very war-mongering government that is a friend of Israel.

All of this context makes BDS in France an engagement not only to support another people, but also a domestic engagement for French society.

It is up to us to put in place or to invent persuasive methods to develop this engagement, so that it takes root in the population.

I'm going to finish my talk by talking about the outlook for the BDS movement, both in France and in other countries where BDS is having an impact.

I spoke earlier about the different successes in France that the BDS movement participated in. But there have been many other big victories in other countries, like your own victory here against G4S, which is only a small company in France.
In its first ten years, the BDS movement has achieved more victories world-wide than those that were achieved during the first ten years of the boycott campaign against South Africa. And the impact of those victories is encouraging.

Israeli exports are starting to fall, whether we look at settlement products or even the arms industry (except in Europe where the Israeli export of arms is increasing). Foreign investment is dropping too: for example, in 2014, investments were 46 per cent lower than in 2013.
Even the Palestinians themselves in the occupied territories have diminished their imports from Israel, which were 24 per cent lower in 2015 than in 2014.
And the UN Human Rights Council, which condemns the colonisation, decided last month to draw up a black-list of companies operating in the occupied territories.

The success of the cultural, academic and trade-union boycotts worries Israel just as much as the economic boycott, because they undermine the State's credibility.

Of course, it's too soon to declare victory, because the Israeli economy is still strong. And so is Israel's capacity for aggression, along with that of its allies.

The Israeli economy is strong especially because of its sale of equipment used for repression, and Israel highlights the fact that this equipment has been tested on the Palestinians. Nevertheless, the international campaign for an embargo on the arms trade with Israel is making progress.

Netanyahu's government has created a structure that is in charge of actively fighting against BDS. It functions within the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and is actually a department of that ministry. The staff who run it are either military personnel or former agents of the intelligence services.
Its mission is to gather any useful information on the ways in which BDS is carried out in the countries where the movement is active, to analyse its activities, to know who the principal activists are, and – above all – to draw up an “anti-boycott” strategy, with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
People are being paid by Israel to monitor the social networks. And a team of speakers will be established to go around American university campuses, in order to praise the virtues of the so-called “only democracy in the Middle East”.

Israel is trying desperately to get BDS banned in various countries, or to curtail it, not only in France but also in other countries, including your own, the United States and Canada. An international anti-BDS conference took place recently in Jerusalem.

A transatlantic trade treaty, known as the TTIP, is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the USA. And it has been proposed to include in that treaty a clause which would prohibit any economic negotiations between an American partner and a European partner that would “discriminate against Israel”, or that would support or promote or participate in any initiative to boycott, divest in, or sanction Israel. In other words, a formal and explicit rejection of BDS would be an absolute condition for the signature of the treaty!

But we can see that, in spite of all these things, the progress of BDS is unstoppable, and that Israel's unpopularity continues to grow.
The accusations of anti-Semitism that are levelled at BDS activists don't work anymore, and international public opinion has now understood that this horrible accusation is only an attempt to distract attention from the crushing of the Palestinian people.
Israel cannot continue with its policies indefinitely: its economy is under pressure, its tourist industry is weakening in spite of all the publicity campaigns to promote it, its military expenses are colossal compared to the social needs of the country, migration balance is at zero level, and Israel's image is worse than ever, when it comes to global public opinion.

BDS is a powerful commitment to justice, freedom and equality, and it's a clear and necessary commitment in this worrying period linked to the consequences of international tension that we live in.
It's a moral and political duty.
And just like the apartheid that was brought to an end in South Africa, Israeli apartheid will also come to an end!


Monday, 11 April 2016

Pictures from our monthly Walthamstow stall on Saturday 9 April '16

Join us on the second Saturday of each month 11am - 2pm, near the Library at the top of the Walthamstow Market.

Browse through our free materials about many aspects of nearly 70 years long ethnic cleansing and occupation of Palestine and about apartheid system brutally imposed by force of arms in both occupied Palestine and in what is nowadays Israel.

Come to have a chat about any issues you would like to discuss or to pick up produce form Palestinian farmers, such as olive oil, zatar, dates, Nablus soup etc.

We would very much welcome more volunteers to join us in awareness raising and lobbying for justice and freedom in Palestine. If you wish to get involved please let us know.

If you live in Leyton or Leytonstone you might want to pop in and visit our stall on the fourth Saturday of each month 11am - 2pm either outside TKMaxx near Leyton tube or outside Matalan in Leytonstone High Street.

See the pictures for our most recent stall in Walthamstow which attracted lots of attention from the shoppers and was shared on social media.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

A chance to find out the truth about the Boycott Israel campaign

Come to the public event on
20 April, 2016, from 7.30 pm

St John’s Church Hall, High Road Leytonstone, London E11 1HH

Entrance is from the Matalan side

The venue is three minutes’ walk from Leytonstone Underground station.

Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC) invites everyone interested in learning more about this growing, non-violent campaign to achieve justice for the Palestinian people to hear Jewish representatives of major BDS organisations in Britain and France speaking about their work, in Leytonstone on Wednesday April 20.

Jean-Guy Greilsamer of BDS France was until recently co-president of the French Jewish Peace Union. He will speak about the boycott campaign in France where draconian government measures have led to activists being arrested for wearing pro-BDS T-shirts.

Mike Cushman, activities organiser of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-Big) and a prominent member of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) will report on an academic delegation to Palestine last year which uncovered gross discrimination against Palestinian students and lecturers.

The meeting will be chaired by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, secretary of J-BIG and a member of the organising collective of Artists for Palestine UK. APUK has enlisted support from more than 1,100 writers, filmmakers, musicians, playwrights, actors and other artists for the cultural boycott of Israel.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Come to the talk about BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions)

Why boycott Israeli apartheid and how UK and French activists defend their democratic right to fight to justice in Palestine?

To find out come to the public event in Leytonstone on 20 April'16 organised by the WF Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC)


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Our article in the March issue of the WF Echo

Please read and share ‘Harvesting Olives in Disappearing Palestine’, article in the recent Waltham Forest Echo.

Picture of the article is attached, but you might find it easier to read by clicking on this link
and then scrolling to the page 11.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Waltham Forest PSC displaying Palestine publicity at the WF UNISON AGM in the Walthamstow Town Hall.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Palestine stall in Walthamstow Town Square today, 13 February 2016

Not a very busy day at the Walthamstow market today.

The rain and the chill kept the usual crowds of shoppers away. Still we had some nice chats, expressions of interest in Palestine solidarity work and words of support for the Palestinians.

We also had conversations with couple of mad Christian Zionists. One of them assured us that he does not support equality.

We stayed until we could not feel our toes no more.

Our next stall will on Saturday 27 Feb 11.00 - 14.00 in Leyton, near TKMaxx.

We will be back in Walthamstow Town Square 11.00 -14.00 on  Saturday 12 March.

Feel free to come and join us!

Latest fashion craze to hit the streets of Walthamstow

Israeli avocados in LIDL, 12 Feb '16

Who wants to fund occupation and oppression while food shopping?
Always read the label, boycott and complain.

The pictures were taken in LIDL in Edmonton on 12 February 2016.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Our Chair's Report from Palestine

Hi guys,

I am here in the village of Deir Istiya (about 30 minutes drive south-ish of Nablus) with the International Women´s Peace Service (IWPS) see our website where we publish our reports.
    As you know the situation here is very bad and getting worse. People, mainly young men and children are being assassinated in the streets of towns and villages on an assumption that they are a threat to the Israeli settlers, or for protesting against the increasing oppression and violence both by the armed illegal settlers and the occupation army.
     For example near the village I am there is Huwwara village (just before Nablus) which is surrounded by some of the most fanatical settlements, such as Ytzhar, Bracha etc there are frequent clashes between the village youth throwing stones at the heavily armed Israeli soldiers and the settlers who do not hesitate to use their deadly wares. 
     There are many more examples like this, such as in Al Khalik/Hebron where settlers surpass in violence the other settlers and even the Israeli army and police or in Beit El, near Ofer prison, in the village of Kufr Qaddoum, where we are going to go shortly for a Friday protest. In all those places protesters are being shot at, wounded and some killed by live ammunition or steel coated rubber bullets fired (against Israeli army rules) at peoples heads and chests rather than at the lower parts of their bodies. 
     Thousands of people have been wounded, some very seriously and 46 were killed only in first 3 weeks of October. I dread to think what the death and injury toll is going to be today, as Friday is a main day form protests here.
     We go a lot with local farmers who pick olives near the illegal settlement. They experience attacks, but there are too many of them who need internationals and too few of us. 
     For example, we went with an elderly farmer whose land is near the illegal Revava settlement (about 1 km from our village) and a settler verbally abused the farmer and then threatened to kill him and the IWPS volunteers. See out report on IWPS website on this here This farmer had to park his car about 300 metres away from his olive trees on a big busy settler road (he is not allowed to use the road which is on his land, which would take him into his olive grove)  and when crossing a very busy settler road, we experienced threats by a settler diving by.
     You might have heard about Ytzhar settlers accompanied by the army, attacking a week ago Burin farmers and wounding 5 of them including an international from UK. They then burned a large olive field with the army standing and watching and prevented the Palestinian Fire Brigade to get in and stop the destruction.
     These stories are repeated in many other villages, time and again. We are told that those harvesting with permits from the army (e.g. inside what illegal settlers consider to be a settlement security zone) have been given very brief periods of time to harvest and that they need extra hands to finish the job even if there are no threats of violence. On 26th and 27th we are going to be picking with the villages of Urif inside Ytzhar settlement wire and the whole village was only given 2 days to finish the job while they need much more time than that.
     The most depressing thing that we do is we go to the houses which are threatened with demolition, because their owners are accused of attacks against the settlers or the army. We go there at night in case the army comes on that particular night with their horrible bulldozers.
     There are 4 such houses in Nablus and tonight we are likely to go to one of them. I cannot describe how it feels like to just be there and unable to do anything to stop it - with whole families waiting night after night for all they have to be covered in rubble and buried. Not to mention that those whose houses are under demolition orders have not even gone through the Israeli courts where their ´guilt´ has been established - and, even it was, collective punishment is totally unacceptable and illegal.

Regards to all from Palestine,

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC) Leyton stall

We had a well visited stall on Saturday the 23rd in Leyton, before the downpour of rain drove us to the nearby café, where we had free coffees and cakes, courtesy to the café owner and staff and their support for Palestinians’ human rights. 
The highlight of the day was a chat with a Palestinian from Nablus visiting his family in Waltham Forest. An amazing man who left with quite a bit of our merchandise including a Palestine team football shirt. for his son.  

 WFPSC Palestine information and produce stalls take place between 11am-2pm on:

       2nd Saturday of the month in the Walthamstow Square

 4th Saturday in Leyton, near TKMaxx. 

The next stall dates are on 13 June in Walthamstow and on 27 June in Leyton.

Our monthly Sainsbury’s actions take place between 11am-2pm outside the Sainsbury’s Branch in the Walthamstow Market on the 1st Saturday of each month. 

The next one will be on 6 June.

Please feel free to join us and to share this information!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Electronic Intifada writes: Softball interviews with Israeli ministers breach impartiality code, BBC admits


Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defense minister, has told a series of lies on British radio. (Munich Security Conference/Wikimedia Commons)
A BBC investigation has found that one of its senior presenters, Sarah Montague, breached the organization’s editorial standards on impartiality in a radio interview she conducted with Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon in March.
The investigation was carried out following allegations of pro-Israel bias against Montague’s interview by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and a number of concerned individuals who complained to the BBC.
The ruling against Montague is the second time in recent months that the BBC has upheld a complaint initiated by the PSC.
In the first ruling, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) agreed with complainants that an online BBC article about Gaza’s tunnels had breached the organization’s accuracy guidelines by presenting its pro-Israel author, Eado Hecht,  as an “independent” defense analyst.
The two ECU rulings highlight just how often the BBC provides an unchallenged platform to Israel’s spokespeople.
Montague’s interview with Yaalon on the current affairs radio program Today was shocking in that a supposedly impartial journalist remained completely silent as the defense minister told lie after lie on air, including the outrageous claim that “the Palestinians enjoy already political independence … And we are happy with it.”
In his first response to complainants, George Mann, assistant editor of Today, wrote via email: “I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Sarah Montague’s interview with Moshe Yaalon … Having listened back [to the interview], I feel she challenged him well.”
There were, however, no challenges from Montague to Yaalon’s propaganda, so Mann’s statement was deluded at best, an act of complicity in defending the bias at worst.
After being challenged again, Mann continued to defend his presenter and so complaints were made to the ECU, which, in the BBC’s complaints system, is one stage away from the BBC Trust.
Last week, all complainants received an email message from Fraser Steel, the BBC’s head of editorial complaints, on behalf of the ECU.
Steel, announcing that he would be upholding the complaint, wrote: “Mr. Yaalon was allowed to make several controversial statements … without any meaningful challenge, and the program-makers have accepted that the interviewer ought to have interrupted him and questioned him on his assertions.”
Steel then tries to excuse Montague’s appalling silence as Israel’s defense minister took over the BBC airwaves by claiming that Montague was badly briefed by researchers and didn’t have much time to make the recording.
He concludes: “The result was that the output fell below the BBC’s standards of impartiality.”

Damage is done

So, will Montague and other presenters on Today — billed by the BBC as its flagship news and current affairs program — be giving free rein to Israeli spokespeople again?
Steel writes: “The program-makers recognize that more recording time and greater attention to background detail would have ensured that the interview was managed appropriately and the editor has asked the production team to factor this in to future interviews.”
But, of course, the damage caused by the Yaalon interview has already been done.
Once again, the BBC allowed an Israeli spokesperson to completely airbrush the occupation.
The ECU’s ruling will eventually be published online, but only an apology on the Todayprogram, where the interview was aired, could go some way towards mitigating its noxious effects.
In the other positive ECU ruling published this year, Steel upheld complaints against the BBC website’s description of Eado Hecht — a lecturer in the pay of the Israeli army — as an “independent defense analyst.”
Hecht authored an article on BBC Online in July last year headlined “Gaza: How Hamas tunnel network grew.”
The article itself is classic Israeli propaganda, devoted to describing tunnels “booby-trapped with explosives” and repeating the lie that Israel withdrew from Gaza.
It was written and uploaded by the BBC two weeks into Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza and is an attempt to justify the destruction inflicted on Gaza’s people. The tunnels, Hecht writes, are “almost impossible to detect” and so the Israelis are compelled to “go in and search for them house by house.”
And, because merely “blowing in the entrance or some of the airshafts leave most of the tunnel intact … the entire length of the tunnel and its branches must be located, mapped and then completely destroyed.”
Seven hundred Palestinians had already been killed in Gaza in 15 days when this article — which completely ignores the Palestinian perspective — was put onto the BBC’s website. By the end of the slaughter towards the end of August, more than 2,200 Palestinians lay dead and whole areas of Gaza were reduced to rubble.
It’s repellent enough that the BBC commissioned and printed an article attempting to justify this destruction, but even more so that its virulently pro-Israel author was presented as a neutral commentator.

Israeli privileges

Once again, the BBC initially rejected complaints that presenting Hecht as independent was inaccurate and therefore misleading to BBC audiences.
Complainants were forced to bring their arguments to the ECU, where Steel agreed that Hecht’s connections with the Israeli military — he lectured at the army’s Command and General Staff College — rendered him a partisan observer of the situation.
In a letter to complainants, Steel added that ”articles published under Dr. Hecht’s name reveal a clear pro-Israel perspective and offer guidance and analysis as to how Israel might better prosecute its dispute [sic] with the Palestinians.”
BBC Online’s description of Hecht was judged by the ECU to have breached the following editorial guideline on accuracy. “We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors, and provide their credentials, so that our audiences can judge their status,” the guidelines state.
Publishing the ruling online in February, the BBC writes: “The editor of BBC News Online has reminded staff that it is important to give sufficiently detailed information to enable readers to calibrate a contributor’s affiliations.”
Which is all well and good, but why are BBC editors commissioning such biased articlesin the first place? And, if they must, why don’t they clearly mark them as opinion pieces?
This is meant to be a news organization without an agenda, but Hecht’s propaganda piece (minus the word “independent” in his biographical note) remains on the BBC website, alongside other similar articles written by pro-Israel commentators whenever Israel is conducting a full-blown assault on Gaza.
There are no comparable articles commissioned by the BBC from Palestinian or pro-Palestinian commentators, in which they are given carte blanche to set out their stall.
This is a privilege afforded by the BBC only to Israel’s spokespeople and, until now, those spokespeople have taken full advantage of this freedom across the BBC’s output, whether broadcast or online.
It is to be hoped that these two ECU rulings will go some way to pushing back those privileges and introducing something that more resembles professional journalism in the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s occupation.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Important dates for your diary

Sainsbury’s: End your support for Israeli War crimes
  • June 27th: Day of action at Sainsbury’s stores
  • June 2th - July 3rd: social media protests
  • Wednesday July 8th: Sainsbury’s AGM: ‘End your support for war crimes’

This July Sainsbury’s will hold its AGM and will once again boast about its values, its ethical trading policies and its practice of sourcing with integrity.
We are calling for actions in the two weeks leading up to Sainsbury’s AGM on 8th July. At the AGM itself we will tell Sainsbury’s Board and its shareholders what we think of their values. These are our messages, in solidarity with thousands of Palestinian farming communities:

The reality is that Sainsbury’s claim to be a company concerned with ethics has been exposed as a complete sham. Sainsbury’s came next to bottom in a recent survey completed by the respected magazine, ‘Ethical Consumer’ and the last two years have seen Sainsbury’s board treating the concerns of thousands of consumers with thinly veiled contempt. It has ignored thousands of letters, hundreds of protests at its stores, letters from MPs, MEPs, SMPs, religious leaders and academics, and a petition with over 8,000 signatures handed in at the 2014 AGM by a member of the House of Lords.

At the 2013 and 2014 AGMs, questions from shareholders have not received the courtesy of a proper answer or any sort of follow up. Sainsbury’s has even refused a direct request for a meeting from an MEP.

Sainsbury’s has positioned itself alongside the list of companies whose complicity directly and indirectly supports the commission of war crimes by Israel. Sainsbury’s has repeatedly refused to discuss the fact that they trade with Mehadrin, an Israeli export company which profits from the wholesale theft of land from Palestinian farms, the decimation of Palestinian farming communities and the expropriation of water for profit.

Sainsbury’s clearly has no interest in hearing what Palestinians have to tell them about the destruction of their farms and the loss of their land. Sainsbury’s has also ignored reports by Human Rights Watch, Corporate Watch and Kav LaOved which have documented the abuses of Palestinian workers who work in the settlements out of necessity.

Let us send Sainsbury’s a clear message this year and make sure that local shoppers, store managers, the shareholders and the Board of Sainsbury’s all hear about the role Sainsbury’s plays in supporting Israeli companies complicit in war crimes.




Friday June 29th – Friday July 3rd:
  • Social media actions targeting Sainsbury’s: Phone in; Twitter storm; Facebook campaign, Thunderclap
Saturday June 27th:
  • Day of action at Sainsbury’s stores: Sainsbury’s end your support for Israel’s War Crimes
Suggested actions: (In all cases, try to take photos/recordings)
  1. Trolley sweep, collecting Israeli produce in trolleys and then leaving the trolleys in some corner of the store away from their original location. Put leaflets on top.
  1. Message drop: take the small messages (attached) into Sainsbury’s and place them here and there among the goods (not necessarily fresh produce).
  1. Make a deputation to the Manager. Go in as a group and refuse to leave till you have spoken to the Manager. Have a letter to hand over.
  1. Singing sit-down in store. There are some songs specifically about Sainsbury’s and there’s something disarming about people singing. Bring a banner, as big as possible.
  1. Write to the local press about your action. Try to have a photo to send with your report.
Wednesday 8th July:
  • Protest at Sainsbury’s AGM: ‘Sainsbury’s End your support for Israel’s war crimes. If you are interested in attending the AGM as an activist shareholder we have a number of shares available. We aim to have a highly visible presence at the AGM.

We will ensure that the voices of Palestinians are heard - loud and clear - at Sainsbury’s AGM.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Diana Neslen's speech at the anti-EDL rally in Walthamstow on Saturday 9 May'15

Diana Neslen represented WF PSC at the anti-fascist rally on Saturday May 9, where local residents massively outnumbered English Defence League thugs marching through our streets protected by columns of police. 

Read her inspiring speech here:

79 years ago Oswald Moseley leader of the British Union of Fascists and admirer of Hitler chose to march his foot soldiers through Cable Street, an impoverished Jewish area. He hoped to divide the communities and encourage the working class dockers of the area to attack their Jewish neighbours. In spite of warnings against mobilising by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish communities together with their Irish compatriots stood firm against Moseley’s legions who were protected by the Police. Some things don’t change. The Fascists did not pass then and will not pass again.

Many years have passed and much has changed in society, but Fascism and Racism remain constant and the objectives of the EDL differ in no way from that of Moseley’s thugs. We note how the thugs of the EDL want to show their dominance by violently controlling the streets of areas where vulnerable minorities live in the hope that they will sow division. Just like Moseley did. We say that racism is a toxic brew that divides people and the way to fight it is to recognise that there is no hierarchy in racism. Once we begin to make one racism more heinous than another, we are sowing exactly the same division that Moseley tried to sow between the Irish and the Jews. So when the EDL tell us that they support Jews because they stand outside Israeli embassies with the Israeli flags every time Israel attacks Gaza, we say this is not a sign of support for Jews but a sign of support for Israel’s heinous wars of choice, wars which themselves expose the racism at the heart of Israel’s ideology. Israel’s racism against indigenous Palestinians who are treated at best as second class citizens and more usually as targets of merciless oppression, is notorious throughout the world. Israel’s racism extends to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, as well as to Ethiopian Jews. This proud bigotry acts as a magnet to racist organisations like the EDL. They are unaware of the strong Jewish political position that says that Jews are best protected not by standing aloof from common struggles but by making common cause with all those who suffer from hatred, oppression and discrimination. This has been a Jewish tradition throughout the ages. 

Today we all stand together undaunted to show those with violence at their heart and division at their root, that we are not divided and in the immortal words spoken so long ago. They shall not pass.