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QUARTERLY

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WWW.AQSA.ORG.UK

ISSUE 49

AQSA NEWS

Travel to Palestine An unforgettable journey

By Tazeem • Page 17

Friends of Al-Aqsa newspaper since 1997

Hunger striker

ICC denies Gaza victims

Hana Shalabi Justice deported to Gaza Page 2

Victory!

An open letter from Baroness Page 3

Jenny TongePage 4

evidence that the danger perceived by the Secretary of State is perceived by any of the other countries where the appellant [Raed Salah] has been, nor, save for the very tardy indictment, is there any evidence that even Israel sees the danger that the Secretary of State sees.” Shaykh Raed Salah arrived in Britain on 20th June 2011, and instead of a ten day speaking tour, he was subjected to imprisonment, a deportation order and numerous court cases. 10 months later, he can claim victory following an

Shaykh Raed Salah wins appeal against deportation on all grounds In a damning verdict against the actions of the Home Secretary, a senior appeal judge ruled on 7 April 2012 that: “There is no

Stop the destruction of Jerusalem

► A group of campaigners handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street asking the government to take action to prevent the destruction of Palestinian life in Jerusalem. (right) A petition supported by a range of faith organisations and campaigns was handed into 10 Downing Street on Friday 30th March 2012. It called on the UK

Government to take action to prevent the destruction of Palestinian Life in Jerusalem. Amos Trust, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends of Sabeel, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights and Pax Christi have all supported the petition. Continued on page 4

Living on the edge in Gaza

Inside...

APRIL 2012

immigration appeal tribunal ruling that has cleared him of accusations of antiSemitism. The Vice-President of the Upper Tribunal in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber ruled that the Home Secretary’s attempts to deport Shaykh Raed Salah last year were unfounded. The Home Secretary was advised by pressure groups that Shaykh Raed should be excluded from Britain on the grounds that he was an antiSemite. Flawed ‘evidences’ were provided to back this up. On closer inspection of

the materials, the appeal judge has ruled that there was no merit in the accusations levelled against Shaykh Raed in relation to a supposedly anti-Semitic poem written by him. The judge concluded that the Home Secretary “was misled as to the terms of the poem written by the appellant, a matter on which there is no room for dispute”. He noted that the advice the Home Secretary received from her own advisors was that the case against Shaykh Raed was ‘finely balanced’ and

Review - Page Eight

Special Feature

Continued on page 3

See page 4

Bedouins denied water

Recipe

Administrative Detention 2

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ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

INSIDE PALESTINE

Hunger striker Hana Shalabi deported to Gaza

Peaceful protestors attacked by occupation force dogs Israeli occupation forces are known for using brute force and live fire against unarmed protestors. This has been extended to using dogs to attack the peaceful protestors. In a protest at Kufr Qaddoum, Israeli soldiers released military hounds, and one dog sav-

agely attacked a Palestinian protesters. It sank its teeth into the arm of Ahmad Shtewi and held tight for several minutes, even after it was called off by a soldier. Ahmad was then arrested rather than being allowed to seek medical help for his injuries.

In late February, tensions around the sacred Al-Aqsa Compound in Jerusalem were high. Earlier in the month, Israeli troops and illegal settlers breached the compound clashing with Palestinian worshippers. On Friday 24th February, following the Jummuah prayers, Palestinians gathered to protest against the threats to the holy site and the safety of Palestinian worshippers at the al-Ram village in the north of Jerusalem. Israeli police responded by attacking the small crowd with tear gas

and stun grenades. 24 year old protestor, Tala’t Abdul Rahman Diab Ramiya was killed when he was shot in the chest. Others tried to get him medical attention as quickly as possible, however, he was pronounced dead when he arrived at hospital. 15 other protestors were injured by the shocking assault, including two 1 year olds who were passing the area with their parents and inhaled smoke from the grenades. A further four Palestinians were arrested.

Palestinian families have faced more misery from home demolitions in Jerusalem’s Arab neighbourhoods. In Anata town, seven homes were demolished effecting 40 people, most of whom are

children. The families had lived in these homes since 1992, but received demolition orders in 2011 under the guise of contravention of building regulations.

Israeli troops kill Palestinian at Al-Aqsa protest

After 43 days of hunger strike, Hana Shalabi was released from administrative detention by Israel and deported to the Gaza Strip on 1st April 2012. She will remain in Gaza for three years before being allowed to return to her home and family in the West Bank. Hana’s case was widely

reported, as she was arrested and detained without charge by Israel for over two years. She was released and quickly re-arrested this year. Her hunger strike was a desperate plea for intervention, and the international attention the case received left Israel with no choice but to free her. However, as

Living on the edge in Gaza

continuing punishment, she will be isolated in Gaza for the next three years. During this time, her family and relatives will not be able to see her. During her final days in detention, Israeli officials did not allow Hana to meet her lawyers, any rights groups or her family. The

Politicians in the West have stopped focusing on the situation in Gaze but its residents continue to live in a pit of despair. Everyone is affected by the closure of the Strip, however, the hospitals are struggling most significantly. The fuel and electricity crisis means that the right to health, and subsequently, the right to life, is being threatened on a daily basis. The Director of Engineering and Maintenance in Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, Bassam Ali al-Hamadeen, deals with the consequences of the fuel and electricity crisis every day. “The patients most at risk are those in the intensive care unit, the babies in the nurseries, kidney dialysis patients and those in need of surgery. “In the past two weeks generators of 6 basic health clinics across the Gaza Strip broke. They are simply

Prisoners’ rights’ group Adameer believe that Hana’s expulsion from the West Bank and her transfer to Gaza violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons. Thus, Israel’s actions amount to a war crime.

not built to operate for the amount of time we need them. Generators are made for brief emergencies, of a few hours, only. Besides that, our generators and other machines are damaged and broken by the power being cut and returning constantly. Also, the fluctuation in power levels is harmful to our equipment. Now we lack the spare parts and oils to maintain the machines.” Since January 2011, the Gaza Strip has been relying largely on fuel being smuggled across from Egypt. The supply is intermittent and has meant that Gaza’s only power station is shut down when there is no fuel. As a result, large parts of the Gaza Strip only have electricity for 6 hours of the day. This has a massive impact on daily life and Gaza lives in a continuous state of emergency.

Jerusalem homes demolished

Watan TV and Al-Quds TV premises raided

Israeli occupation forces raided the premises of Watan TV and Al-Quds Educational TV at the end of February, causing property damage and confiscating transmitters, computers, files and tapes. This was seen as an attempt to silence the Palestinian media from reporting Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. The systematic nature of the assault on both stations suggests that Israel is implementing a new policy against Palestinian media outlets.


ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

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INSIDE PALESTINE

ICC denies Gaza victims justice The international Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that it cannot hear cases against Israel for war crimes committed during the 20082009 Operation Cast Lead attack on the Gaza Strip. The prosecutor’s decision hinged on a technicality, namely that “it cannot consider allegations of crimes committed during the conflict unless the relevant UN bodies or ICC states parties determine that the Palestinian Authority is a state.” Amnesty International has openly condemned the decision by the ICC, and Marek Marczyński, Head of Amnesty International’s International Justice Campaign, said; “This dangerous

Bedouins denied water

Palestinians living in desert villages in Israel are being denied water supplies by the state despite an Israeli High Court Order in 2011 stating that water was a constitutional right and the villages must be supplied. These ‘unrecognised’ villages can be found in the Negev desert and have been in existence since before the state of Israel was formed. At present, 80-90,000 Palestinians live in these villages. The state does not recognise them and has made numerous attempts to move the Bedouins out of the area by force and/or coercion. Salim Abu al-Qian’s family live in the village of Umm al-Hieran which is nine kil-

decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC. It also breaches the Rome Statute which clearly states that such matters should be considered by the institution’s judges.” 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the attack, the majority of whom were innocent civilians. Palestine is not yet officially recognized as a state, although it has observer status at the UN and was accepted as a state by UNESCO in recent months. However, some states around the globe have moved towards recognition despite the lack of a peace accord between

ometers from the nearest source of clean water. “There is no water in the village. We truck it in. It costs about 50 shekels (£8.40) per cubic meter of water,” explained the 53-year-old village leader. “There is a pipe that’s about eight kilometers long, but it’s too old, and the planning authorities don’t allow us to put a new one under the ground.” In 2011, the Israeli High Court stated that all of these villages must be given a “minimum access to water.”

Israel and the Palestinians. The decision of the prosecutor means that the ICC judges will not hear the cases and the victims will be denied justice. The decision was made despite the Palestinian Authority accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC. Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute which set up the ICC, but for prosecutions to be brought; only one party is required to recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction. The move by the Palestinian Authority should have been sufficient for this. The lack of recognition by the ICC is seen as politically motivated and therefore undermining the entire institution.

It did not define this any further, however, and no attempt at all has been made to supply villages such as Umm al-Hieran. Lower Israeli courts have said that as long as the villagers were able to buy water from any source, they had the required minimum supply, thus absolving the Israeli state from its responsibilities. No Jewish Israeli village is treated in this way, leading many to call it an apartheid practice.

Shaykh Raed Salah wins appeal against deportation on all grounds “Justice at last” From front page

in the view of the judge, the incorrect translation of the poem written by Shaykh Raed tipped this balance in his favour. The judgment further ruled that: “We have no difficulty in concluding that the Secretary of State’s decision has not been shown to be proportionate to the need to preserve community harmony or to protect the United Kingdom from the dangers to which the policy refers.” The judge held that the decision to deport Shaykh Raed was a ‘disproportionate interference’ with his rights. The victory is being celebrated by many groups

Press conference held on 10th April in London

and individuals who supported Shaykh Raed, including Friends of Al-Aqsa. “This is a victory for those who believe in freedom of speech and who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom from occupation.

Shaykh Raed speaks on behalf of millions of oppressed Palestinians and this is a victory for each and every one of them,” said Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa.

Israel bombs Gaza in ‘planned escalation’ attack

In early March, Israel launched a number of air strikes on the Gaza Strip. The first strike killed Zuhair al-Qaisi, the Secretary General of the Popular Resistance Committee. Israel initially claimed that AlQaisi posed an imminent threat, but evidence for this was never offered. In response, as expected, Palestinians fired rockets into Southern Israel. No one was hurt but Israel followed this with a series of air strikes throughout the Gaza Strip killing 25 people and injuring a further 75. Despite attempts to make the latest airstrikes appear spontaneous, many commentators within the Israeli media reported that

it was planned well in advance, making it a ‘planned escalation’. Little attention was paid to the deaths of these Palestinians by the international media. Following the killing of Zuhair al-Qaisi, Yoav Limor, an expert in military affairs, wrote that he was “alive-dead for over a week, and his assassination was delayed until the prime minister completed his diplomatic campaign in Washington, and until after the Purim Holiday and the weather cleared up”. This suggests that there was no imminent threat and his killing was part of a plan. It is thought that the attack on Gaza was intended to offer an opportunity to

display the capabilities of Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ defense system, and thus, extend the budget for it. It was also intended to draw a link between the Gaza Strip and Iran, by blaming Iran for the rocket attacks into Southern Israel and thus building the case for war. It is believed that the success of the Iron Dome defense system against Gaza’s puny rockets will be used by Israeli politicians to convince ordinary Israeli’s that the country can protect itself if it attacks Iran and is counterattacked. The latest assault on Gaza is therefore seen by many as a preparation for war on Iran.


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GLOBAL NEWS

Stop the destruction of Jerusalem From front page

Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, explained why the petition was necessary. “The future of Jerusalem is vital for the future of a state of Palestine. By operating a system of segregation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing and the expansion of illegal settlements, Israel continues to marginalise Palestinians in Jerusalem. Both the UN and The International Court of Justice hold that annexation of East Jerusalem, which is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is a violation of International law. The systematic demolition of Palestinian homes, building of illegal settlements and existence of the apartheid Wall to shut Palestinian communities out of the main city must cease

immediately.” All of the organisations supporting the petition were calling on the British Government to work with the UN to ensure that Israel abides by its responsibilities under international law where Jerusalem is concerned. It is a shared city, sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Diana Neslen, from Jews for Justice for Palestinians added that “Jerusalem means ‘City of Peace’. It is our belief that peace will not come to a city that privileges one community, the Jewish community, over all the other communities who hold Jerusalem dear. We believe that the policies pursued by the Israeli government in Jerusalem today are against all the tenets of Jewish ethics and values and we challenge Israel to recognise that its behaviour in Jerusalem undermines its professed claim to democratic credentials.” Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa, made it

clear that “ancient heritage sites in the Holy City of Jerusalem are being wiped out and Palestinians are helpless against the assaults of local police and army

personnel. They can no longer protect or guard historic sites and documents, and it is up to us to ensure that their plight is brought to the world’s attention.”

Shamiul Joarder from Friends of Al-Aqsa and Diana Neslen from Jews for Justice for Palestinians, outside 10 Downing Street

Tunisian leader backs Palestinian freedom

Rashid Al-Ghannouchi, the head of Tunisia’s AlNahda party has said that “Palestine is the heart of the Islamic nation, and a threat to Palestine is a threat to all Muslim countries.” This

declaration of support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom came in the wake of the Tunisian revolution and its march towards true democracy.

stated that Israel “is not going to be there for ever in its present form.” Many agreed with her sentiments, on the basis that Israel cannot continue to exist as a state which illegally occupies its neighbours and implements

racist policies. Thus, in this present form, it will not continue forever. In response to the events, Baroness Tonge wrote the following open letter:

New Shame for Lib Dems following Baroness Tonge sacking The public profile of the Liberal Democrats hit an all time low when party leader Nick Clegg sacked Baroness Jenny Tonge following a statement made at Middlesex University about the future of Israel. The Baroness

An open letter from Baroness Jenny Tonge

I must be allowed to correct the allegation made about me by Andy McSmith (“0ops, the Baroness did it again”, 29 February 2012). When I was asked 18 months ago by the Jewish Chronicle to comment on YouTube postings that the IDF were stealing body parts from victims of the earthquake in Haiti, I congratulated the IDF for their swift and generous response to that disaster and said that to stop any such rumours spreading, they should have a swift inquiry into the allegations. Nothing more. This was interpreted by the Israel Lobby as an accusation of “blood libel” which, in turn, was believed by Nick Clegg. He then sacked me from the Party’s front bench without waiting to speak to me or hear the truth. My remarks last week were at a meeting at Middlesex University which was constantly disrupted by abuse, mouthed obscenities and heckling from Zionists against all the speakers. The Israeli government breaks International Law and the Geneva Convention and abuses the human rights of Palestinians in a brutal and humiliating way. The US supports them and despite words of condemnation our government and my party does nothing.

In this context, I noted that Israel was losing allies all over the Middle East following the Arab Spring and it is therefore appropriate to warn that country that its actions against the Palestinians threaten its survival in the long-term, especially when the influence of the US dwindles and the American people begin to get fed up with funding Israel’s activities. Many people agree with me and have said so publicly. It is sad that Israel and its supporters do not listen. Jenny Tonge Independent Liberal Democrat House of Lords


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GLOBAL NEWS

The US supplied Israel with ‘600,000 gas canisters’ A report published by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has stated that the US has supplied Israel with 600,000 gas canisters, used primarily by the occupation forces against peaceful Palestinian and international protestors. According to the report, between 2000 and 2009, the US transferred “more than 670 million weapons, rounds of ammunition and related equipment” to Israel. According to the campaign group, this makes the US complicit in Israeli war crimes including the killing of 1,128 Palestinian children. It also violates US law, as under the Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act 1961, “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” The cost to the US tax payer of the supply of weapons to Israel runs into billions of dollars. The US has also pledged a further $30 billion in military assistance to Israel to be granted between 2009 and 2018.

“AIPAC speaks for AIPAC, not for the Jews” A group of Jewish activists in the US hired a truck to carry a billboard message outside the AIPAC Policy Conference in March which was to read: “AIPAC speaks for AIPAC, not for the Jews. AIPAC supports war with Iran and settlements, Jews

do not.” Despite paying for the advert, the truck company decided not to display it at the last minute, to the immense disappointment of the campaigners. It has since become apparent that the company also does

business with AIPAC and they dropped the advert to preserve their relationship with the lobby group. AIPAC exerts a great deal of influence over US politicians and their latest move has been to lobby for the press credentials

of ‘unfriendly’ reporters to be revoked. Amongst the reporters they are targeting are Inter Press Service journalist and former Jewish Voice for Peace staff member Mitchell Plitnick, Mondoweiss’ Phil Weiss and Alternet’s Adele Stan.

Ehud Olmert Speech Disrupted One brave protestor in Chicago attended a ticketonly event where former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was appearing to ensure that the uncomfortable questions which needed to be asked were aired. Thaer Ahmad disrupted the talk during the question and answer part of the program, when it became clear that all questions were prearranged and he would not be allowed to ask a question. “I decided to interrupt as he was answering a question about predicting the future two to three years from now. I asked him if he thought that two to three years from now, justice

would be served and he’d be tried as a war criminal for the murder of 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza in 2008 and 1,000 Lebanese in 2006. “(Olmert) stopped and looked at me in surprise. Everyone was quiet and (security) grabbed me and while they escorted me out, I said there was more than 300 children who were killed (in Gaza).”

Campaign Victory as ASA rules Israel advert misleading The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received numerous complaints in December 2011 following a tourism advert for Israel, which showed the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights as part of the state of Israel. This effectively wiped the Palestinian territories off the map and gave the false impression that all the land belonged to Israel. The ASA looked into the advert and adjudicated on

the complaints, concluding that it breached the advertising standards Code. “We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the Action Alert and contacted the ASA. This shows what collective efforts can achieve in bringing a halt to Israeli propaganda – together, we thwarted Israeli attempts to wipe the West Bank and Golan Heights off the map,” said Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa.

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ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Review

Extreme Rambling - Mark Thomas

Extreme Rambling (Walking Israel’s Barrier) Mark Thomas

Page Eight

“Attempting to do dishonourable work in an honourable way”. This quote from Page Eight sums up the vision of its lead character – a senior MI5 officer named Johnny Worricker. Page Eight, a contemporary spy film for the BBC, is a

thoughtful exploration of the nuanced relationships between British intelligence services and politicians. Although measured in pace, its interest lies in intriguing dialogue rather than fastpaced action and is pulled off due to an impressive cast. Worricker (Bill Nighy) is caught at the centre of two unfolding stories. His boss asks him to review an extremely sensitive file which on Page Eight reveals a piece of intelligence that threatens the stability of the organisation. It discloses that the CIA has illegal prisons around the world – not terribly surprising in itself – but the British Prime Minister knew about these black sites all along. The ‘special relationship’ between Britain and America is called into ques-

Mark Thomas is a comic, political activist and a writer. Though Thomas may be renowned for his comic abilities he has greatly established himself as a peace activist and his book Extreme Rambling has shown his deep insight into the situation between Israel and Palestine. The Book is a narrative about Thomas’ personal journey as he walks the wall between Israel and Palestine. Prior to embarking on his journey Thomas decided that the best way to really get to grips with the divide was to use the Barrier as a route map, to “walk the wall” covering its entire dis-

tion, in particular reference to British collusion in torturing terrorist suspects. At the same time, Worricker is attracting the interest of his neighbour, Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz),an attractive young Syrian woman whose brother was controversially killed by the Israelis in the Palestinian territories. He is suspicious – are the two incidents linked and if so in what way? In order to find out the truth of what is going on he is forced to walk out of his job and go off the radar. Page Eight is a critical exploration of the intelligence services – particularly relevant in a post 9/11 and 7/7 context. Instead of the services cutting back after the Northern Ireland peace process calmed down the domestic front, MI5 has massively expanded since 2001. The director of Page Eight, Sir David Hare recalls the perversion and misuse

tance. Accompanying him throughout the epic journey was Phil Stebbing, a cameraman who came to film the walk. Stebbing had just finished covering the election campaign in Afghanistan and is described by Thomas as looking like a retired drug dealer with a penchant for not shaving and displaying the remnants of a Mohican. Thomas jokingly suggests that the only reason he took Stebbing on the walk was that if they got stopped and strip searched the Israelis would go for Stebbing first! The barrier, when completed, will crisscross 723kms of land, winding in and out of the West Bank,

of intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Intelligence is meant to be about the analysis of information – but is it being used to build up pre-ordained cases which have already been decided by politicians? The Palestinian reference, although a sub-plot, is refreshingly sympathetic and reflective of realities on the ground. Pierpan’s brother was “waving a white flag trying to stop Israelis knocking down a house” when he was killed by the IDF with no subsequent official inquiry. The curious friendship developed between Worricker and Pierpan shapes the outcome, but in the end he still has to compromise. The murky shades of morality reflected in the intelligence services are just that – murky shades.

moving from the fertile farmland of the Jordan Valley in the north-east, striking out west to the village of Zebuba then dropping down to Ramallah and East Jerusalem and on to the hills and crops south of Hebron. The wall encircles 300,000 Palestinians; with Israel controlling their electricity, water and other essential utilities. Walking the wall on both the Palestinian and Israeli side introduces you to Palestinian and Israeli guides, leaders and intellectuals each having their own views on the barrier. The author stops and talks to Palestinian farmers, Israeli soldiers,

Zionist settlers and peace activists from both sides. This allows good insight into the construction that is taking place and the effect it has on the community. Thomas is able to engage the reader by showing these diverse perspectives. The book brings to life probably the most iconic divider of land since the Berlin Wall. Thomas’ account is filled with his trademark humour, but also tinged with great sadness. This book is an interesting read whether or not you are politically engrossed with the situation. Reviewed by Hawa Esat

Reviewed by Farah Jassat

Rafeef Ziadah - ‘Hadeel’

Hadeel Rafeef Ziadah 1. Shades of Anger 2. Baghdad 3. Breathe 4. Supposed To 5. Cry 6. Hadeel 7. Montreal Subway 8. Savage 9. Scattered 10. Trail of Tears

Rafeef Ziadahs album ‘Hadeel’ is a dedication to the Palestinian people who face the everyday battle for life. Holding onto both courage and conviction, Ziadah’s spoken poetry shows how Palestinians endeavour to live normal lives despite the bullets, bombs and check points. Where children still fly their kites in a sky that’s occupied by F16 bombers instead of the sound of cooing doves over Gaza. The title of the album ‘Hadeel’ was inspired by a young Palestinian girl of the same name. Meaning ‘cooing doves’, this is also the title of one of the poems on the album which captures Hadeel’s struggle to survive the loss of her family. An unbearable loss suffered by so

many Palestinians. As one of the most captivating spoken word artists of our time, Ziadah brings home the bleak scenes of Gaza making her words impossible to ignore. ‘Shades of anger’ is a response to a Zionist Israeli soldier who kicked her in the guts saying ‘you deserve to be raped before you have your terrorist children’. ‘We teach life sir’ is Ziadah’s response to a journalist who asked ‘don’t you think it would all be fine if you just stopped teaching your children to hate?’ This is not an album just for entrainment but to tell a story and to make a political difference. It is her call for justice, questioning the norms and a desperate cry for compassion. It is an

album of truth and dignity, an album campaigning for what is right through the art of words instead of war with tanks. Ziadahs album is not just about Palestine. It brings together issues on deportation and immigration; those facing humiliation as well as women and children bearing the psychological wounds of war and what it means for them to survive whilst carrying this with them every day. Ziadah stands as an ambassador for the Palestinian people and a champion for human rights all achieved through the art of the spoken word. Reviewed by Hena Ahsan


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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Art Exhibition

This is Apartheid

From my point of view it was great to see other photographers showing the suffering of Palestinians with their photographs. I was honoured to be able to show my photographs to others that are unaware of the situation in Palestine and tell the story that goes with the pictures. I hope that anyone that went along to the exhibition unaware is now aware and will actively participate in helping to put a stop to the suffering of the Palestinians.

“Great initiative - you are the voice of Palestine, today I saw her tears”

Lisa Melrose, exhibitor

“Lost for words”

Israeli Apartheid is “Israel’s own version of a system that has been universally condemned” Ben White

“Keep it up and don’t be afraid to make your point and challenge.”

“Excellent. This powerful exhibition should be widely seen.”

Catherine Harris, exhibitor and member of GUPS

This was a fantastic exhibition. This is the best way in which to educate the general public on the daily suffering of the Palestinian people in the Palestinian territories. Each picture conveyed a message that a newspaper article, book etc simply couldn’t. The mainstream media here in Britain has succesfully portrayed things as the Israeli/Palestinian “conflict”, when in fact it’s a clear cut case of ethnic cleansing and racism. More exhibitions like this are hugely important in educating the public on what is really happening and must continue. As a Palestinian man living in forced exile since I was 1 years old, I am proud of the work that has gone into this exhibition and long may it continue. Fouad Turki, visitor

“A look into the side of the conflict we don’t see much of. Fascinating and emotional.”

Opening night Guests were invited to the opening night and treated to food, drink, intellectual discussion and fabulous art and photography. Phil Chetwynd, one of the exhibitors was invited to speak and present a short film about his time in Palestine. Phil was involved in holding photographic and camera workshops, “Camera’s for Palestine” over recent summers in Palestine. The film he showed depicted the weekly protest in Nabi Saleh by the villagers. It showed women and children being manhandled by Israeli troops and wounds caused by rubber bullets and gas cannisters. It left the audience in stunned silence.

I was extremely honoured to have my photos shown at Friends of Al-Aqsa’s “This is Apartheid” art and photography exhibition. It was a great opportunity to share with others some of the painful sights I witnessed whilst volunteering in Bethlehem last summer. I hope that the photos will encourage others to find out more about the Israeli-Palestine conflict and to support the Palestinian people.

“I knew nothing before I came in and this exhibition has really opened my eyes. Thank you.”

For Sale, contact ken.imrie@youthschool.org

Friends of Al-Aqsa Glasgow hosted its very first art and photography exhibition, This Is Apartheid, during Israeli Apartheid Week (20-24 February 2012). Organised in collaboration with the Glasgow University Palestinian society, it was an opportunity to cement our relationship of mutual respect and personal friendships to help us achieve our common goal - freedom for Palestine. Art work was submitted from artists in Cambridge, Edinburgh and Birmingham making it a truly national event, and the exhibition was hosted by the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. The art work on show allowed us to raise awareness about the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land in a very vivid way. It certainly proved to be thought provoking and stimulating for the guests who viewed it.

“...this deserves a wider audience.”


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UPDATE FROM FRIENDS OF AL AQSA

Red Card Israeli Apartheid O man, you have to strive and go on striving towards your Lord, then will you meet Him. And he who is given his ledger in his right hand, Will have an easy reckoning. And will return to his people full of joy. But he who is given his ledger from behind his back, He will surely invoke destruction. In recent weeks, we have witnessed the passing of a number of people, both young and old. Death is a certain reminder for us all whether we follow a faith or not. It focuses us back to the reality that our time is temporary, and that our actions should be inspired by our beliefs. For all of us within Friends of Al-Aqsa, our actions are inspired by a belief in justice against oppression and I hope that each of us finds satisfaction in the commitment of our time and wealth for a great cause. The Palestinians face the struggle between life and death on a daily basis and whatever our efforts, theirs are always greater.

Friends of Al Aqsa have joined the Red Card Israeli Apartheid campaign, which is lobbying to reverse UEFA’s decision granting Israel the privilege of hosting the UEFA U21 Championship 2013. The reversal of UEFA’s decision will send a message to Israel that civil soci-

ety around the world does not accept its Apartheid policies and that it should end its illegal occupation of Palestine, thus allowing all Palestinians to finally participate globally. Fair Play Most sports competitions sign up to the doctrine of ‘fair play’ yet the state

portray itself as a just and fair state. On the March 21st the Red Card Israeli Apartheid campaign hand delivered a letter to the Chairman of the FA, David Bernstein at Wembley Stadium, urging him to use all his influence over UEFA to encourage it to reverse its decision.

Each time they face attack and lose a child, spouse, parent or sibling, their loss is felt acutely; yet, it is largely ignored by the world’s media. The death of an Israeli, equally tragic, attracts the attention of the world. It is up to ordinary people like us to redress this balance and ensure that every life lost in the conflict is valued equally. Perhaps we can all take a moment in every day to remember those who have passed before us, and say a prayer for their souls.

Ismail Patel

Obituary - Abu Bakr Rauf The tragic death of a young and versatile FOA volunteer has left many in Bradford deeply moved. Abu Bakr Rauf was only 28 years old when he suddenly collapsed and died. He is survived by his wife Kauser and their one year old daughter Arabia. AbuBakr also left behind his distraught mum, dad and sister. He was a great father, husband and son and many will continue to remember his gentle manner and moral character. Abu Bakr was a dedicated Friends of Al-Aqsa volunteer and his death is a great loss to the Pro-Palestinian campaigns which he supported. He was a passionate talented unique individual who was always ready to lend a helping hand where it was needed. Abu-Bakr was inspired to act by the injustices he saw during Israel’s bombing of Gaza in Operation Cast Lead. He took boycott very seriously and in my last conversation with him just four days before his death, he was determined to deal with the new challenge

of Israel is allowed to take part despite its record of routinely obstructing Palestinian sportsmen from the same participation. Sports boycott, like the cultural boycott, exposes Israel’s routine violations against Palestinians on an international platform, preventing Israel’s efforts to falsely

of supermarkets incorrectly labelling Israeli goods. The new strategy we faced was where supermarkets only labelled the shelves with “produce of Israel” instead of the individual item packaging. I recall him saying, “That’s plain wrong and illegal. Send me a photograph so we can do

something about it.” Sadly, he was unable to take action, but I hope other volunteers will be inspired to pick up his fallen baton and take this forward in his memory. The loss of Abu-Bakr is being felt most keenly by his wife Kauser and his daughter Arabia. They were a family unit who would

Racism and Violence in Israeli Football always be seen together in all charitable events. They would regularly be at PSC meetings of which he became chairman and his wife secretary. They did not allow material considerations to come in the way of contributing to charitable causes. The most valuable contribution they made was with their time. Abu Bakr’s regular emails on events would be signed off quoting Dr Martin Luther King JR “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity” To me this quote summed up Abu-Bakr’s life and struggles. Abu-Bakr’s death at such a young age has awakened and regrouped many of the local campaigners in Bradford. His example will be followed by many of us, and his legacy will live on, insha’Allah. We pray that Allah raises his ranks in the hereafter. By Ebrar Khan

Football is a sport which attracts large numbers of young fans. Israel’s track record of racism and violence at games in itself should act as a deterrence for UEFA. In March alone, there were four recorded violent incidents. Thousands of Hapoel Tel Aviv fans rioted after the team lost the Tel Aviv derby, throwing objects onto the field and blocking the players of both teams from leaving it. A few days later, two Maccabi Petah Tikva fans burst onto the field and tried to assault a referee. In a separate incident, 300 Beitar Jerusalem fans ran amok at the Malha Mall,

yelling “Death to the Arabs” and beating up Arab cleaning workers. In a further racist attack, two officials of the Maccabi Petah Tikva club attacked Hapoel Haifa player Ali Khatib, who was head-butted by one and kicked in the face by the other. Khatib lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital. Such violent racism against Arabs may be the norm in Israel, but it is abhorrent to the rest of us. Take Action: Lobby UEFA and ask them to reverse their decision so that Israel is not allowed to host the U21 tournament.


ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

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UPDATE FROM FRIENDS OF AL AQSA

VISIT THE

FOA ONLINE SHOP £7.50

Made in Palestine Kufiyeh Available in Black and white, khakhi, blue, grey and in Palestine colours

RULES & INSTRUCTIONS 1. Only registered participants may take part in the Sponsored Walk.

2. Please register as early as possible. All participants must register by Friday 29th June 2012.

3. All registered participants should try to raise a minimum of £200 in sponsorship. 4. Sponsorship forms will be sent out on registration.

5. All sponsorship money must be sent to Friends of Al-Aqsa no later than Wednesday 11th July 2012.

REGISTRATION FORM 6. Limited transportation available from Glasgow at a cost of £5 per person. Please enquire upon registration. 7. Under 16’s are not eligible to participate.

8. Please come appropriately dressed as weather can be changeable near summit and ideally walking boots should be worn. 9. All money raised will go to FOA in order to help continue campaigns.

Name: ___________________________________________________________ Address: _________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

The Hirbawi factory, located in Hebron (Al-Khalil) is the only kufiyeh factory in Palestine. The Kufiyeh Project aims to ensure that Palestine’s only kufiyeh factory stays in business (and hopefully help it grow), by regularly buying from them in bulk and distributing worldwide.

______________________________________ Postcode: __________________

Palestinian Medjoul Dates

Email (essential): _______________________________________________

from

£8

Telephone Number: ________________________________ Age: _______

Emergency Contact: ____________________________________________ Emergency Telephone Number: ________________________________ Please return this form to Shahid Majeed or Sahira Dar. Tel: 07977004141

Alternatively, you can email these details to us and we will send out your sponsorship form. E: FOAGlasgowWalk2012@hotmail.co.uk

www.foa.org.uk

CLICK ‘SHOP’

Become a member - Join today! For just £10 a year, support the Free Palestine campaign. Send an email to info@aqsa.org.uk and we will send you a direct debit form to set up your membership.

Donate

You can make one-off donations:

1. Online - through Paypal to payments@aqsa.org.uk (via our web-site) 2. By cheque, made payable to ‘Friends of Al-Aqsa’, to PO BOX 5127, Leicester, LE2 0DT 3. By direct bank transfer: Friends of Al-Aqsa, Sort Code 08-92-99, Account No. 65158078, The Cooperative Bank, Southway, WN8 6VT


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ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

SPECIAL FEATURE

Administrative Detention No charges No trials No rights The Desperate Situation of Palestinian Administrative Detainees who can be detained indefinitely with no access to lawyers or family

Gazans fast at a protest tent in support of Adnan. Some lie in beds, with shackles, to simulate Adnan’s current condition.

Background – Khader Adnan hits the headlines

The situation of Palestinians held in administrative detention by Israel was brought to the world’s attention recently when the case of Khader Adnan hit the headlines. In December Khader was detained by the Israeli authorities without charge. The day after being arrested he went on a hunger-strike in protest of his imprisonment under the practice of ‘administrative detention’. The hunger strike lasted a critical 66 days – by the end of which Physicians for

Human Rights confirmed that Khader had lost a third of his body weight and was still shackled to his hospital bed. During his hungerstrike Amnesty International repeatedly called for him to either be charged or released as Israeli authorities had revealed no evidence justifying his continued detention. Khader’s brave method of resistance sparked a number of sympathy hunger strikes by other Palestinian prisoners as well as solidarity protests across Gaza and the West Bank. The strike ended on the 21st February when a deal was struck for him to be released in mid-April. His father spoke of the loyalty Khader felt towards the hundreds of fellow Palestinian prisoners who went on solidarity hunger strikes. Khader refused to eat until he was assured that the news that the hunger strike had ended had reached his supporters. Only once they had ended their hunger strikes did he agree to eat his first meal in 66 days.

By Farah Jassat

What is Administrative Detention? Administrative detention is a procedure that allows detainees to be held without charge or trial for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed repeatedly. This practice allows the military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charge or trial. Detainees can spend months on end, sometimes years, without ever knowing the details of what they are charged with or being allowed the right to stand a fair trial. Both the detainees and their families are left in the dark and have no idea if or when they will be released.

Statistics ● 2000 (eve of the second intifada) 12 Palestinians in administrative detention.

● Late 2002 - Early 2003 Over 1000 Palestinians in administrative detention.

● 2005 - 2007 Approximately 765 Palestinians as the average monthly number of administrative detainees. ● Post 2007 The number of administrative detainees has generally decreased every year. ● February 2012 At least 309 Palestinians in administrative detention, including one man held for over five years and 24 Palestinian Legislative Council members.


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SPECIAL FEATURE

Hana Shalabi – Dying to Live Hana Shalabi, a 30 year old woman from Burqin village near Jenin, was re-arrested on 16th February 2012. She is being held under administrative detention and has been on a hunger strike for six weeks in protest of her administrative detention. She is being held without charge or trial and at the time of writing (29 March 2012), she is dying to live. She is protesting to secure her human rights and for the rights of her fellow administrative detainees – over 300 of them. Despite her critical condition and warnings from doctors that she is at serious risk of heart failure, there seems to be no signs of her release. The appeal by her lawyer has recently been rejected. Hana’s lawyer has also expressed concerns over the deliberation by Israeli officials to force-feed her. The World Medical Association considers the force-feeding of hunger strikers to be a form of inhuman and degrading treatment, as it appears in the International Convention Against Torture.

Protesters hold pictures of Palestinian prisoner Hana al-Shalabi.

Administrative Detention in Israel The practice of Administrative Detention in Israel has come under severe criticism by human rights groups such as Amnesty International. Amnesty argues that all political prisoners should be charged and given a fair trial within a reasonable amount of time, or else released. Such organizations cite administrative detention as violating Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that “no-one should be subjected to arbitrary detention” and that “the deprivation of liberty must be based on grounds and procedures established by law.” Although international human rights law permits some limited use of administrative detention in emergency situations, there are strict parameters which guide its implementation. States are not allowed to use it in a sweeping manner and may only order it on individuals in the context of public emergencies which threaten the life of the nation. These individuals must be assessed on a case-by-case basis with no discrimination of any kind

The Israelis claim that Hana is a supporter of Islamic Jihad and she has previously been held under administrative detention for two years. If there was evidence to support this claim, Hana should have been given a fair trial and duly convicted. The lack of such procedure suggests the weakness of Israel’s case against her. She was released in last October’s prisoner release deal between Hamas and Isreal but in violation of the deal, was re-arrested in February. Those four months in between were a time of joyful reunion for Hana and her family. Unfortunately that time has ended and Hana’s sister Zahra expresses her grief at her family’s situation “Her weakening heartbeat is my weakening heartbeat. Her stomach pangs are my own stomach pangs. If she dies, I hope she haunts the dreams of everyone who is responsible for her life, everyone who could have done something to secure her release but didn’t. The reality is that the world has failed Hana. What can we do other than put our faith and trust in God?” (ICCPR, Article 9). In practice, Israel routinely uses administrative detention and justifies its practice by claiming it is under a continuous state of emergency. It is intriguing to note that Israel has been in a continuous state of emergency since its inception in 1948. Moreover, administrative detention is frequently

used – in direct contravention of international law – for collective and criminal punishment rather than for the prevention of future threat. For example, administrative detention orders are regularly issued against individuals suspected of committing an offense after an unsuccessful criminal investigation or a failure to obtain a confession in inter-

rogation. Administrative detainees are also often denied regular family visits in accordance with international legal standards, and Israel regularly fails to separate administrative detainees from the regular prison population as required by law.

Update On Sunday April 1st, Hana Shalabi was released from prison and then deported to Gaza by Israel. Hana is not from Gaza and this is effectively an extension of her prison sentence as she will not be allowed to leave the tiny coastal strip which is still under Israeli blockade, for the next three years. This deportation is illegal as it amounts to a forcible deportation of a protected persons which is prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


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FUN AND GAMES

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ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012


ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

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FUN AND GAMES

COMPETITION WIN! WIN! WIN!

OPEN TO ANYONE AGED 16 OR UNDER! ANSWER A SIMPLE QUESTION FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A £20 ARGOS VOUCHER!

Question: How far is Jerusalem from Makkah? Email your answers to us at: info@aqsa.org.uk Put ‘Competition’ in the subject box, and remember to include your name, address and age and the answer. Good Luck! Last editions winner: Wijdaan Meeah Khan, aged 6, from Leicester! Sisters of Palestine

When did you start up ‘Sisters of Palestine’ and what does your group do?

Many people feel helpless about the situation in Palestine when faced with the facts and statistics. A group of girls in Leicester decided to form ‘Sisters of Palestine’ so that they could actively be a part of the solution.

Aqsa News caught up with one of the founders, Sumayyah, to discuss this great initiative.

Myself and two friends, Asma and Azra; have always been active in charity work but we formed ‘Sisters of Palestine’ in October 2010 with 3 main aims: Inform, Interest and Educate.

We wanted to inform people and keep them up-to-date about the situation in Palestine. We wanted to encourage people to become interested and active in helping and supporting the cause. Finally, we wanted to help educate people on the importance of Al Aqsa. Everyone has the power to make a massive difference.

What has been one of your most memorable or successful events and why?

It would have to be our first event ‘Beats for Gaza’ which was basically a performance night. What made it so successful for me was when I spoke to some of the people after the event; they said that they had learned a lot about Palestine that they didn’t know prior to coming. They were now more inspired to make a change.

What is it that drives you as a group?

We’ve know each other for about 8-9 years now so we’re very close on a personal level. Although we’re very different individually, what bonds us even more and drives us as a group is that we share the same passion and desire to make a

difference. We’re always on the same wavelength and always bouncing off each other’s energy.

Tell us about your poetry

I’ve always had a passion for writing but my writing changed as I grew older. The more active I became the more the style and content of my pieces changed. The passion just comes from my aim to educate and empower people who are not well informed on subjects such as Palestine. It really inspires me to become the voice for the voiceless and if the only way to get through to people is through my poetry, then it just makes writing a lot easier. People need to understand the power and strength they possess to

make a difference as individuals. I hope that when people listen to what I have to say they feel inspired to make a difference.

How do others get involved in ‘Sisters of Palestine’?

They can actively get involved by volunteering at our events. We have a page on Facebook which we keep updated with any upcoming events. They can also get involved by donating. Most importantly they can just help by educating themselves and raising awareness about the situation in Palestine so others can get involved.

Do you have a moto or a quote that defines you as a group or the

work that you do?

You can close your eyes to the things you do not want to see, but you cannot close your heart to the things you do not want to feel.

If you could be a character in a book who would it be and why?

Not so long ago I was reading a book called ‘Conquest of the Sahabah’ By Al- Imam Al Waqidi. If there’s one character I could be it would be Khawlah bint al-Azwar. She is such an inspiration! On the battlefield her determination, bravery and strength had no bounds. Even in the face of defeat she was fearless due to her love for Allah and her devotion to Islam. Even to have a few of her characteristics would be enough.


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RECIPES

Musakhan | try this delicious Palestinian recipe ● A PALESTINIAN

SUMAC-SCENTED ROAST CHICKEN RECIPE. Tender succulent chicken infused together with sumac and sweet caramelized onions is a popular Palestinian dish called Musakhan. Quick and easy to make, it is traditionally cooked and served on sheets of flatbread which soak up the delicious juices to produce an irresistibly mouth-watering dish. Serves 4 to 6 INGREDIENTS 3 Pounds chicken, (or one whole chicken) cut into serving pieces ¼ cup of dried sumac (see variations) 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground allspice or cloves ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg ¼ cup of Olive oil 3 Onions, thinly sliced 2 large pieces of Lavash bread Salt and pepper to season METHOD ● In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, sumac, spices, salt and pepper and marinate for at least 30 minutes or preferably several hours. To keep the chicken fresh, remember to place the chicken in the refrigerator whilst marinating. ● Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside. ● Add the onions to the skillet and sauté, stirring

VARIATIONS Sumac is a common spice in the Middle East. The ground berries of a Middle Eastern bush, it can be found in most Middle Eastern supermarkets. If you can’t get it, use 3 tablespoons of paprika and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Of course, the taste won’t be quite the same.

often, until the onions are cooked down and beginning to brown, 15 to 25 minutes. ● Line the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken and onions with a sheet of lavash bread. Spread half the onions over the bread, then place chicken over the onions. Top the chicken with the

Baba Ghanoush

● A MIDDLE-EASTERN

AUBERGINE DIP.

Baba Ghanoush is made with aubergine (egg plant) and is a rich smoky dish perfect as an appetiser or dip. Popular in the Middle East, Baba Ghanoush goes well with pita bread wedges or with raw vegetables and is perfect for sandwiches or wraps. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetiser INGREDIENTS 3 Aubergines (eggplant) 2-3 cloves of Garlic shredded Juice from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of Tahini (sesame paste) 1 teaspoon of Salt METHOD ● Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the aubergine on a baking pan and roast in the oven until cooked through, about 45-60 minutes. The aubergine should collapse when it is removed from the oven and begins to cool. ● Cut the aubergine in half and remove the pulp. Place the pulp, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and salt in a food processor or blender and blitz together until smooth. ● Remove to a serving bowl, adjust seasoning and drizzle olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

VARIATIONS If you would like to make this dish without the tahini, you can also stir 1/4 to 1/2 cup yogurt into the baba ghanoush to lighten it up a bit. Garnish with paprika.

FOOD FACT DID YOU KNOW? Aubergines are a good source of fibre and folic acid. The colour of the skin is a result of the presence of anthocyanins compounds with antioxidant properties’

remaining onions. Cover the whole dish with the remaining sheet of lavash bread, tucking in the sides to seal the chicken in. Sprinkle the lavash bread with water to lightly moisten it. ● Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-

read thermometer inserted into the dish should register around 180°F). If the bread starts to burn, cover it lightly with aluminum foil. ● Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the top bread and serve the chicken in its dish.

Palestinians use bread called shrak or marquq for this dish. More commonly available Armenian lavash bread is very similar. Or use 2 or 3 pieces of pita bread that have been split in two horizontally. Some cooks add a big pinch of saffron to the sautéing onions. You can also garnish with toasted pine nuts or almonds.


ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

Thousands of Christians stopped from Bethlehem to Jerusalem walk for Easter

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l a e p p A y c n e g Emer

M ore th an

10,000 KILLED 70,000 INJU RED 100,000 REFUGEES Easter was marked by Christians around the world on Sunday April 8th. In Jerusalem, approximately 35,000 thousand Christian pilgrims visited the church of the Holy Sepulcher to celebrate the religious festival. However, the usual procession from Bethlehem to Jerusalem could not take place, as Israel’s separation wall blocks the path. This has angered many, and a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, Nabil Shaath, commented that “Israel’s illegal Wall is an insult to the rich history of the Holy Land. Indeed, this colonial regime constitutes an assault on more than 2000 years of Christian history in the Holy Land for it disconnects, for the first time in history, the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.” The size of the gathering this year was unusual as Israel usually restricts the number of Palestinian Christians who are allowed to visit Jerusalem to mark this festival. However, this year, more permits were granted and Christian Palestinians were able to exercise some of their religious rights, albeit still to a limited degree. In order to obtain a permit, the Palestinians must apply through their churches several weeks in advance. Israel usually excludes all young men under the age of 35 and anyone who has a family member being held in prison by Israel, regardless of the nature of the charges. The granting of a permit does not guarantee access to Jerusalem, however, and worshippers can still be stopped at the numerous road blocks and checkpoints in their journey, and made to turn back. Muslim Palestinians also face similar restrictions on their right to worship in Jerusalem’s holy sites.

How m any m ore ne ed to s u f f er ?

DONATE NOW

0161 225 0225

humanappeal.org.uk

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ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

From Glasgow to Gaza changing the lives of disadvantaged youth YouthSchool is a charity which was set up in 2009 to encourage young people and disadvantaged youth to build up opportunities for themselves. Based in Glasgow, the project has since expanded beyond the Scottish borders to Indonesia, Gaza and Morocco, using Islamic principles to make a difference.

Aqsa News caught up with the founder and Chairman, Ken Imrie, to find out more.

What is YouthSchool all about?

YouthSchool is a Scottish charity that seeks to develop the talent of young people, supporting and empowering them to reach their full potential as youth leaders & social activists.

Can you tell us about projects that YouthSchool have been running?

YouthSchool have been involved in developing projects in Indonesia, Gaza and Morocco to date. In Indonesia we have been investigating the feasibility of Youth Farms, while in the Gaza Strip we have focussed on ways to work with the youth in spite of the crippling effects of the siege. In Morocco we are experimenting with ways in which we can connect peer youth groups between the UK and Morocco.

What have been some of your most challenging projects?

Our most challenging project has been operating inside the Gaza Strip. An opportunity arose to participate in the Gaza Freedom March at the end of 2009. Although the original trip failed due to measures put in place by Hosni Mubarak, it was nevertheless a tremendous opportunity for networking with fellow activists from 43 different countries. Mubarak’s refusal to let us break the siege of Gaza made me more determined to prove that the siege could be broken by working with young people to get goods out and money in. We worked with youth in Gaza and used their artwork to produce a calendar which we printed and sold from Scotland, generating over $10,000 in income for the contributors. The project was repeated for 2012.

What sort of problems did you encounter when initially starting up as an organisation?

The main problem that I encountered starting up YouthSchool was just managing and prioritising my time. I had become involved in various projects including Palestinian projects. For example I planned and managed the Scottish leg of a theatre tour by a large group of young people from Balata refugee camp in Nablus. In order to find the time and energy to start YouthSchool, it was necessary to give up a lot of other projects that I was involved with. I think it is important to decide whether to focus on one thing and try and do it well, or whether to contribute to many different initiatives.

If others would like to get involved who do they contact?

What drove you to start up the YouthSchool initiative?

The original idea for YouthSchool was to create a vehicle for transforming the potential of disadvantaged youth. There are a number of founding principles including Active Participation – where supporters are actively encouraged to participate in the act of charity and form connections with the beneficiaries. The opportunity for volunteers to become directly acquainted with the beneficiaries creates an opportunity to transform the thinking and behaviour of everyone involved. We also promote Enterprise & Opportunism by developing enterprising skills and encouraging an opportunistic streak in all our pioneers. The old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, highlights the importance of investing in people, encouraging enterprising skills, and increasing human capital in our communities. This entrepreneurial flair should have an ethical focus, derived from Islamic principles. This quest for income generation needs to be tempered by a social conscience that dictates where the wealth is distributed and how.

Do you have a motto that you live by?

You have to invest in people by giving them the skills and tools they need to grow and develop within their local environment, respecting their beliefs and social structure. We believe in the potential of the youth and their amazing talents. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

Free Palestine

Duaa Hamaad Al-Jafi

Duaa is an active student living in the Gaza Strip and attends Zahrat Al-Madaaen Secondary school. At the age of 16 she has already won several Art competitions. This painting was selected as one of the best paintings produced by Palestinian school children for the YouthSchool 2012 calendar – Culture of Palestine – winning first prize!

For Sale, contact ken.imrie@youthschool.org

The painting was displayed at the Friends of Al Aqsa exhibition in Glasgow during Israeli Apartheid Week in February 2012.

We have plenty of roles for volunteering in fundraising and creating peer-peer projects. We will also consider internship and secondment to increase our capacity and develop the organisation. Contact: Ken Imrie, Director YouthSchool, ken.imrie@youthschool.org


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TRAVEL TO PALESTINE

An unforgettable journey

Tazeem Hameed’s father visited Palestine in 1972 and he always spoke about the struggle of the people there. As a result, Tazeem grew up always feeling a link to the land and its people and did all she could to support them through charity and other means. Finally, in December 2011, she attended a Human Rights Film Festival where she watched a documentary about the struggles faced by Palestinian olive farmers and the uprooting of thousands of olive trees. A chance meeting with an old school friend at the Film Festival meant that she was left inspired after hearing about her trip to Palestine. Tazeem decided it was a journey she herself had to make. We caught up with Tazeem to find out more about her journey to Palestine.

By Tazeem What was the one moment during your trip which will stay in your memory?

During a visit to Al Khalil (Hebron) we took a walking tour through the city. We met Palestinian residents who are not allowed to enter the street they live on. To get to their homes they have to enter through a window at the back of the first house, climb to the roof then go over roofs until they reach their own home. Witnessing this was heartbreaking.

What was it like to pray in Masjid al-Aqsa?

I arrived at night and my hotel room had an Al Aqsa view. It was overwhelming to see the Masjid! I couldn’t sleep at night in fear that I might miss Fajr prayer. I loved the quiet walk through the maze like souks towards the mosque at dawn. There weren’t many people in the mosque which disappointed me until I learnt that the locals aren’t always allowed in.

On the same tour, I got separated from my group and as I walked up to meet them a group of small children stopped me insisting I was on the wrong side of the street. The paths are segregated and Palestinians have to walk on the left hand narrow side. They were tugging at my jacket and pulling me to the Palestinian side. It’s a reflection of both their caring and hospitable nature and a fear of keeping within boundaries as they are fully aware of the consequences. I wondered what their young eyes had been witness to.

What was the hardest lesson you learnt during this journey?

Was Palestine what you expected?

It was better than I expected. I enjoyed walking through the old souks and getting lost in the Old City in Jerusalem; looking at the beautiful and colourful displays and enjoying the hustle and bustle of a busy market. It was also very scenic and beautiful whilst driving between cities. I also often acknowledged that I was in the land of some of our prophets and that felt special. Despite the dangers, I used local transport and felt safe being on my own. Most Palestinians are fluent in English and they are happy to help and direct so I felt at home.

I stayed with a family while helping farmers with their planting. I realized how valuable my contribution was when I got out to the fields – the farmers are not allowed to use tractors on their fields so having a helping hand was really appreciated. However, nothing can prepare you for the difficulties you witness Palestinians go through in their everyday lives.

I was mistaken for being Palestinian and I was subject to checks almost everywhere. This gave me an insight into how Palestinians are treated and go through numerous stops in their daily lives. To be subject to the odd racist or Islamaphobic comment is hard but to spend every living day subject to prejudice and harassment is tiring and mentally exhausting.

Final words...

I would highly recommend visiting Palestine, if you have always had that feeling that one day you will visit then do it soon. Buy Palestinian products as these are produced with enormous struggle on the part of the farmers. The least we can do is support them.


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Mosque in the Bronx welcomes Jewish faithful In a New York neighbourhood, ties of faith bind Jews and Muslims. Members of the Chabad of East Bronx who are an ultraOrthodox synagogue, have been granted room to worship in the Islamic Cultural Center of North America, locally known as the Al-Iman mosque. This relationship is unique and reflects the ability of Jews and Muslims to accommodate each other’s needs and stretch out the hand of friendship. The Chabad congregation was unable to pay the rent for their premises and as a result, their synagogue closed down. The Imam of Al-Iman mosque immediately offered the use of the Islamic Centre premises, free of charge. The synagogue now operates from the Centre.

SYRIA EMERGENCY APPEAL

Delhi police arrest journalist following bomb blast against Israeli diplomat

Over 8,000 killed Thousands more injured and trapped They are cold, hungry and need our help. £50 can provide a family with an emergency food pack PLEASE DONATE

0800 4 0800 11 www.uwt.org

Charity Reg. No. 1000851

In early March, police in Delhi arrested Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi for the attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat on 13 February which left her injured. Kazmi is a renowned journalist in India with over 30 year’s experience covering conflicts around the globe. His arrest has baffled many, and for the first 2 weeks or his incarceration, he was not charged. His lawyer applied for bail in late March, but this was denied by the judge. Kazmi has stated that he has faced harsh interrogation from Indian police and from members of the Israeli Mossad. He denies having any involvement in the attack.


ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

Palestinian women on the air-waves Maysoun Odeh Gangat is the Director of the station and she says that the station aims to inform, inspire and empower local women. “Through the positive role that the women are playing in the society that we portray, we believe that we can empower women economically and then socially and politically. It could be any woman from the rural areas or the refugee camp, or a woman parliamentarian or minister.” Thus, the station aims to open up new avenues for women whose basic rights may be infringed in numerous ways. So far, it has been a success.

Gaza music school rebuilt

AQSA NEWS

BDS success as Glasgow University ends Eden Springs Contract Following a vigorous campaign by the Glasgow University Palestine Society, the university has decided not to renew their contract with Eden Springs. The UK company is a subsidiary of the Israeli Mayanot Eden company which extracts water from the Golan Heights which Israel illegally oc-

cupies. The water is then bottled in an illegal Israeli settlement called Katzrin. The boycott against Eden Springs has seen success across many Scottish universities, including Strathclyde, Caledonian, Edinburgh and Dundee universities.

Solar power and wind turbines threatened with demolition In six Hebron villages, Palestinian families are benefitting from alternative energy sources provided by 95 solar panels and six wind turbines built in a joint German/New Zealand government funded initiative, with the help of Swiss and Danish NGOs. Israel is now threatening these structures with demolition.

Israel refuses to supply these villages with electricity or running water and these alternative sources of energy have provided a vital lifeline for the villagers. However, the threat of demolition means that they will once again face the darkness of limited fuel and reliance on polluting generators.

2012

Sunday 6th May During the war on Gaza in 2008-2009, Israel destroyed many school buildings including a solitary music school in Gaza. Three years later, the school has finally been rebuilt within one of the Palestine Red Crescent buildings and is used by 127 pupils. The children use their musical instruments as a means to escape from the harsh stress of life in Gaza. Many tell stories of how

they play for their parents and relatives to help ease their stress and tension. It is a welcome escape from their daily realities. The trauma that children in Gaza have witnessed is immense and through this school, they are able to express themselves in a way that is otherwise impossible. The school hopes to expand in the future in order to help more children.

Britain has continued to trade briskly with Israel despite human rights abuses and accusations of war crimes being continuously leveled against the Zionist state. In 2011, trade

between the two countries was worth £3.75 billion, an increase of 34 per cent from 2010. Israel benefits the most from the trade, making £2.18 billion from its exports to Britain.

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k l a W d e r o s n Spo Sunday 6th May 2012 Peak District - Derbyshire 15km walk - about 4 hours to complete 8km walk - about 2 hours to complete

Trade between Britain and Israel increases by 34 per cent in 2011

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Nisaa FM was set up in the West Bank in 2010 to give Palestinian women a voice and help them to celebrate their achievements and share each other’s lives. The radio station aims to positively influence the lives of Palestinian women by giving them a public platform and has been a complete success. As the only radio station in the entire Middle East dedicated just to women, it is also run mainly by a staff of Palestinian women. The challenges faced by Palestinian women come from the occupation but also from poverty and the norms of their patriarchal society.

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AQSA NEWS

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ISSUE 49 / APRIL 2012

Olympic dreams of Palestinian athlete

Bahaa al Faraa is a 20 year old Palestinian who dreams of Olympic glory. With scarce facilities in Gaza, he only has a small gym to use and has to make do with the streets of Gaza for training. The lack of facilities means that he may not reach optimum fitness in time for London 2012; however, this has not diminished his dreams of being the only Palestinian representing Palestine at the games.

“It’s a beautiful feeling” says Faraa, “both as an athlete and a Palestinian. I will be taking a message from the Palestinians to the greatest games on earth; that Palestinians exist despite our difficult circumstances.” Although Faraa knows he may not be holding the Olympic gold medal, nothing stands in the way of his determination and passion as he continues to jog on and wave the flag for Palestine.

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Israel cuts ties with UN Human Rights Council The UN Human Rights Council launched an investigation into illegal West Bank Settlements in late March and intended to send a Fact-Finding Mission to investigate events on the ground. Israel responded by severing all ties with the UN body and denying them access to the West Bank. The US stood alone in voting against the initiative which won wide support at

the Human Rights Council. Condemnation of Israel’s illegal settlement policy is not new in the UN and Israel has been highly criticised by many governments for its actions, including by the British government. The building of settlements in the West Bank disrupts Palestinian life by breaking up the land. Much of the settlement lands are considered to be stolen land by Palestinians.

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Aqsa News, Issue 49, April 2012  

Covering news in Palestine