Lobby Council Free Speech on Israel

Birmingham City Council Conservative councillors re putting the resolution to the Council that will severely restrict our ability to campaign for Palestinian rights and aspirations. WMPSC has written to the Council’s member responsible for Equalities about our concern. I am urging all of you to write to individual councillors also about your concern.

This resolution, if passed by the Council, would prevent Palestinian voices being heard in the city. We urge you to turn up in large numbers to impress on the Council the strength of our feelings for Palestine.

It would be good if you can contact your councillor by monday afternoon as they will be deciding group policies before Tuesday’s council meeting. Join us for a lobby on Tuesday

Copy Letter below and send it to your council – email addresses can be ob

I am writing to you as a Labour Councillor about our concern regarding how the resolution proposed by Conservative Councillors Ewan Mackey and Matt Bennett would impact social cohesion in multi-cultural Birmingham. 
 
Instead, I would support adopting the key aspect of the resolution on Anti-Semitism in line with what has been adopted by the Labour Party – see pages 11-12 of the Race and Faith Manifesto 2017.
 
You will see that the party has adopted only the formal 40 word definition, and not the accompanying guidance and examples which are included in the resolution to be put to the Council. These conflate criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism, and need to re-considered, as they could restrict freedom of expression that is legally protected. 
 
West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign is already finding difficulty in booking venues in the city. If this resolution is adopted it would be likely to make it even more difficult for us to promote discussion on legitimate Palestinian rights and aspirations. 
I have grave issues with three particular aspects of the resolution  
    Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is  a racist endeavour. (No faith as a whole has rights of self determination. People living in a particular country jointly have the right of self determination. Muslims, Christians or Hindus do not have the right of self determination in the countries they live in. Instead all faiths have the right to practice their faiths where they live. Palestinians claim they are victims of racism in Israel. They should be able articulate their claims without being accused of Anti-Semitic) 
 
    Applying double standards by requiring of it behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. (We are free to criticize the behaviour of all countries that violate internationally accepted standards. Not been critical of similar behaviour by another state does not make the critic an anti-Semite)
 
    Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.(If any state uses methods or laws that has historical precedence than we should be able to point it out without being accused of Anti-Semitism.)
I would ideally urge the Birmingham City Council to suspend the adoption until the various communities in Birmingham are consulted on the issue.  Failing that, removing the three objections pointed out above would answer our concerns. 
West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign as part of the National Palestine Solidarity Campaign prides itself in taking a lead against all forms of racism including Anti-Semitism.  PSC aims – Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Thanks 

#Vote Palestine

As we enter the last week of the election campaign, we need to make  a concerted effort to ensure every candidate within West Midlands is aware of our campaign and its objective of peace and justice in Palestine.

So far, very few of the West Midland candidates have responded to the questions put to them. You could help by sending them a reminder by following the link below.

Click Here to email your constituency candidates

You can also view the responses from the candidates we have received so far by following the link here

Click Here to view responses from West Midland candidates

 

Solidarity Fast and Vigil Cancelled Tuesday, 30th May 6-7pm with the Hunger Striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails

Vigil outside the Mail Box B1 1 Birmingham

Tuesday 30th May 6-7pm

Cancelled

Yesterday after 41 days on hunger strike , Palestinian prisoners suspended the strike after Israeli authorities yielded to the demand to enter negotiations with the prisoners’ chosen leaders.

Issa Qaraqe, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission , speaking on May 28th declared that “80 percent of the demands” of the prisoners were achieved in the strike, calling it “an important achievement to build on in the future on the basis of the protection of the prisoners’ rights and dignity

In recognition of this victory PSC and organizing partners have called off the actions planned for Tuesday May 30th including a solidarity fast and rally outside of the BBC

It is appalling that over 1500 people had to place their lives at risk to be granted basic human rights such as proper medical care and family visits. But the hunger strike was of course about more than that. It was an assertion of the broader Palestinian struggle for freedom equality and justice. The hunger strike has been an action which has galvanized Palestinian society and emphasized the centrality of the Prisoners movement to the struggle of the Palestinian people as a whole.

So we salute the courage of the strikers their families and all of those groups in Palestine and beyond who campaigned in support for their action, and also commit ourselves to continuing efforts in our broader campaign for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people and the achievement of a just peace.

In the UK our immediate focus must now turn to the election campaign and to ensuring that we all put every effort into ensuring that the cause of Justice for the Palestinians is not lost in the fog of election debate. To date over 1000 have contacted your candidates in our vote Palestine campaign. Please add your voice by sending an email to your candidates here

Let us remember the words Marwan Barghouti sent out to the world as he entered the 6th day of the hunger strike : “I call on you to stand up for those thrown into dark cells to be forgotten. I call on you to support the legitimate demands of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and to uphold international law. I call on you to support the freedom and dignity of the Palestinian people, so peace can prevail.”

Ben Jamal, Director Palestine Solidarity Campaign

28/05/17

Join the Vigil and support Palestinian Hunger strikers Saturday 6th May 1pm-3pm High Street Birmingham B4 7TE

Over 1500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have gone on hunger strike since the 17th of April demanding improvement in the treatment they receive in the prisons. They are demanding two monthly visits and an extension of the visits from 45 minutes to 90 minutes and allow children to visit their mothers without barriers so they can hug and kiss them. The prisoners demand an end to administrative detention and solitary confinement. Today Over 500 Palestinians are held without charge or trial indefinitely under administrative detention orders. The United Nations has denounced Israel’s practice of administrative detention where by Palestinians are caged indefinitely, without charge, on the whim of the Israeli military.
The prisoners demand proper health treatment for sick prisoners. Ramla prison hospital where they are currently taken is unfit for medical care. It has been described by patients as “a slaughterhouse, not a hospital, with jailers wearing doctors’ uniforms.”

The prisoners demand prisoners not be charged for their medical care.

The prisoners demand that kitchens are restored in all prisons and place them under the supervision of Palestinian detainees to prepare their own meals. The kitchens in most prisons in Israel where Palestinian political prisoners are caged are run by Israeli criminal prisoners. According to testimony from Nafha prison, Israeli criminal prisoners routinely urinate and spit in food prepared for Palestinian prisoners. Witnesses have also seen them stirring the soup for Palestinian prisoners with a broom that they previously used to clean the floor.
The prisoners demand humanitarian treatment of prisoners during transportation and transfer, returning the prisoners promptly to prison from clinic and courts. At present prisoner are held shackled in an iron box on the transportation vehicle, the journey of a few miles from the prison to the court can take a full day with no access to a toilet and sometimes no food. political prisoners during the transport. The prisoners demand that they be allowed to receive cloths, food and reading material from their families during visits. Israel has turned prisons in to money making enterprises with prisoners essentially forced to pay for their own imprisonment. Israel deliberately fails to provide Palestinian prisoners the basic essentials like edible food, cloths (underwear, shoes..) and hygiene products (soap, toothbrush..), and doesn’t allow families to bring these during visits, forcing prisoners to buy them at the extortionately priced prison shop.

Birmingham City Center High Street Stall

West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign has a stall with information on Palestine and on solidarity activities with the Palestinians. The stall is generally outside the Marks & Spencer outlet on the High Street in Birmingham City Centre, Birmingham, B4 7SS

The stall is there from 1pm to 3pm most saturdays. If you can spare a few minutes visit the stall and help us promote Palestinian rights as they are dispossessed of their lands and homes in Palestine .

West Midlands Palestine Solidarity campaign will welcome you to visit the stall and to discuss with the volunteers manning the stall how you can help promote the rights of the Palestinians in the West Bank as they live through the 50th year under occupation.

Also, hear how the Palestinians feel about the Balfour declaration made a century ago that contributed to the Palestinians losing their homeland.

 

Draft Letter to Your Member of Parliament (Copy and Paste please and personalise)

Dear Member of Parliament

You will be aware that the Labour party has called on the government to immediately launch an public inquiry into “improper interference in our democratic politics” after an investigation by Al Jazeera and Mail on Sunday into the activities of an Israeli embassy official.

The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, has described the recent exposure of an Israeli embassy official discussing how to bring down or discredit a government minister and other MPs because of their views on the Middle East as extremely disturbing.”

The revelations have also provoked anger among some Conservative politicians with one former minister in David Cameron’s government believing that the embassy’s efforts to exert improper influence on British public life went far further than any plot to “take down” unhelpful members of parliament.

This former minister, writing anonymously in the Mail on Sunday, stated that “For years the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights”.

It is utterly unacceptable for the UK government to accept the Israeli embassy apology and consider the matter closed. These revelations add to existing concerns that those who raise legitimate criticisms regarding Israel’s policies towards the Palestinian people will be subject to smears and character assassination. Politicians, like all citizens, must be able to speak freely about their views on Palestine without fear of consequences.

I write to you asking you to support the call for an immediate public inquiry to determine the extent of improper interference in UK democratic politics and to demand from the Israeli government that it is brought to an end.