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Special Feature The Israeli Army will cash in on Egypt’s upheavals

Jonathan Cook • Page 6

Friends of Al-Aqsa newspaper since 1997

Palestine papers

Fashion from Palestine

by their own leaders Page 2

Silk Thread Martyres


Long Live Palestine! Page 5


US vetoes UN Resolution on illegal settlements ● Palestinians react with anger as the US vetoes a draft UN Security Council Resolution calling for Israel to end its illegal settlement building ● All 14 other Security Council members vote in favour of the Resolution ● Veto reflects US bias towards Israel On 18 February the UN Security Council met to vote on a Resolution condemning all illegal Israeli settlements. There are 15 member states in the Security Council and 14 voted in favour of the Resolution, including Britain and France, while the US was the only state to vote against it. As the US is one of the permanent members of the Security Council, they have a veto power which they can use to effectively kill off any Resolutions. They used this veto to ensure the Resolution would not be passed, despite every


other state present voting in favour of it. Palestinians responded with anger and called for a ‘Day of Rage’ against US complicity in the occupation against them. The US justified its decision by claiming that although the settlements were illegal, the Resolution would harm chances of peace talks. However, such explanations are only seen as paltry excuses by Palestinians who witnessed the US only a few months ago attempt to bribe Israel to the tune of billions of dollars in a bid to Israel attacks Gaza: 1 dead, 12 injured


MARCH 2011

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The Middle East Revolution

The draft Resolution stated: “Israel, as the occupying power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and that it fully respect its legal obligations in this regard.” convince them to preserve a shambolic peace process. Israel refused to comply. Further to this, the release by Aljazeera and the Guardian of the Palestine Papers has shown the reality behind the failed peace talks. The Papers revealed that despite being offered more of Jerusalem by the Fatah leadership than ever before, Israel was not interested in negotiating. Continued on page 3.

Turkey publishes report on Freedom Flotilla attack


Israeli military operation in Gaza Strip

Many around the globe could not have foreseen how an uprising in one small North-African state would lead to the biggest mass revolution seen in our time. The Tunisian people’s struggle and victory acted as a beacon for other states existing under brutal autoComments

cratic regimes. Egypt and Libya followed, and further unrest has been seen across much of the Middle East and North-Africa stretching from Morocco in the west, to Jordan in the east, Iran in the north and Yemen in the south. In the centre of all this,

the Occupation of Palestinian land continues. While governments around the world have swiftly condemned other brutal military dictators, many are asking when Israel’s military occupation will be brought to an end.

My trip to Palestine


Ismail Patel and Ramzy Baroud

The Journey of a Lifetime

‘The Promise’

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Visit our new website






ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011


Palestine Papers reveal betrayal by their own leaders

‘Mary and Joseph would have been stopped at a checkpoint’ Artists recreated a live nativity scene presented in front of Israel’s Separation barrier where a puzzled Mary and Joseph stand in wonder at the great wall blocking their entry into Bethlehem. In recent years the tight restrictions on entry into Bethlehem has devastated tourism in the town and restricted many Christian worshippers from entry to the holy sites. Tour-

ists often wait up to 90 minutes at checkpoints before being allowed in. Due to the unpredictability of whether entry into Bethlehem will be granted by Israeli guards, many tour operators have had to remove Bethlehem from itineraries. Christmas 2010 did however show a remarkable recovery with visitor numbers increasing by 60%.

A courageous 89-yearold Holocaust survivor by the name of Eli Tzvieli has come under attack from extreme Rabbi’s after renting rooms to three Arab-Israeli students. Tzvieli has been threatened with having his house burned down and had notices on his door denouncing him as a traitor to Judaism. However, he continues to defend his tenants: “They

are nice boys… People tend to generalise and it’s wrong. Because we suffered from anti-Semitism, we should not act like anti-Semites.” The number of Rabbi’s now expressing extremist views against Arabs is increasing; however, Tzvieli continues to say that he will not bow to the pressure and the views he holds are not amongst the minority.

Holocaust survivor criticised by extreme Rabbi

The leaked Palestine Papers have shown the depth of betrayal by the Fatah leadership of the Palestinian people and their long struggle for freedom. The Papers consist of 1,300 documents leaked by the Aljazeera media group. The Papers revealed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) offered the Israelis more concessions than the Palestinian people would ever be expected to approve

including compromising the Right of Return for refugees and the dismantling of illegal settlements. One of the key revelations was that Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat (who has since resigned) offered to give away most of Occupied East Jerusalem in a meeting in 2008. Meeting with Tzipi Livni he said: “It is no secret that on our map we proposed we are offering you the biggest Yerusha-

Israel attacks Gaza: 1 dead, 12 injured

On February 23rd, Israel launched an attack on Gaza injuring 13 people, one of whom later died. The attack was led by F-16 war planes and attack helicopters. Prior to this, an Israeli tank moved into Gaza and in the ensuing gun battle, Israeli soldiers killed one Palestinian and injured another two. Later the same day, a rocket was launched from

Gaza into Israel. It caused no injuries. Israel then launched its air attack, claiming it was in response to the rocket attack, without mentioning its earlier incursion into Gaza. Despite the Palestinian deaths, the attack drew little media attention reflecting the disproportionate reporting of Israeli and Palestinian violence and deaths in the media.

layim (the Hebrew word for Jerusalem) in history.” The Palestinian negotiators further suggested that the Al-Aqsa Haram al-Sharif be given to an international supervisory body, thus removing it completely from historic Palestinian control. The compromises have resulted in greater suspicion of the PA from their own people, as they have contradicted international law, Palestinian national aspira-

tions, Arab consensus, and even the declared official position of the PA itself. The PA has responded by attacking Aljazeera for what they called fabrications and lies, and taking things out of context. The Aljazeera offices in Ramallah were also attacked by Fatah supporters who accuse the channel of acting in collusion with Israel. Israel has played down the significance of the revelations.

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Jerusalem roof top occupation Arab Residents in Jerusalem’s Silwan District have faced months of harassment from Israeli soldiers including the occupation of all or parts of their homes. The roof of the building in which Jerusalem resident Abu Ramuz and several families live has been occupied by soldiers since August 2010. The roofs of buildings are usually used for laundry and drying clothes. Since the army has been there, the

families have been forced to wash clothes in the stair well and are strictly forbidden from going on the roof. The occupation of this building alone is affecting 69 people who live within it. Abu Ramuz has described how the soldiers spend all night playing on the roof disturbing the sleep of those in the building, many of whom are children who need to wake up early for school. When the soldiers

have been confronted about the noise, they reportedly told the residents to move if they were not happy. Despite the impact it is having on the family, the occupation of the roof has been approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defence. The families are now trying to appeal the decision so that they can resume normal lives. The number of Arab homes being targetted this way has steadily increased.

‘Separate and unequal’ Palestinians and Israelis

Six years of peaceful protests and violent deaths

of six years “ celebration of struggle against the

A report by Human Rights Watch has slammed Israel for its treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The report consists of a series of case studies that compare Israel’s treatment of Jewish settlements to nearby Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The findings show that a two-tier system of laws, rules, and services are being applied by Israel towards the two populations

Palestinians and international solidarity activists held a large demonstration in the occupied West Bank village of Bil’in in February in “celebration of six years of struggle against the wall and the occupation.” The people of Bil’in have been organizing weekly peaceful demonstrations for six years, since the construction of Israel’s separation wall began. The wall was

used as a guise for further annexing village land for illegal settlements. The protests have been regularly attacked by the

Israeli military, whose soldiers have used tear gas projectiles, rubbercoated steel bullets, live ammunition and chemical

sprays. Several Palestinian residents of Bilin have been killed during these demonstrations, most recently Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who died following excessive tear gas inhalation during a protest in January. Despite the use of excessive force by the Israeli army, residents of Bilin continue with their peaceful protests against the further theft of their land.

Israel’s latest offensive is a $1.6 million investment in ‘media warriors’ who will be trained to use social media websites and tools in order to spread proIsraeli propaganda on the web. This ‘new media war’ is intended to off-set the growing international outrage against Israeli military assaults against unarmed

civilians, whether in Gaza, in Lebanon or on the high seas where they attacked the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. Nasser Rego, the International Relations Coordinator at I’lam, the Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel, explained: “The media has I think the tremendous power to influ-

ence how society sees itself, how it interprets its reality.” According to Rego, the Israeli media’s portrayal of Palestinian citizens of Israel has a palpable impact on the community, which accounts for 20 percent of the population. “I think what it does is it dehumanizes Palestinians and the community [and portrays them as]

being interlopers or being these people that come from the outside. Then it seems almost justifiable to treat them or deal with them in a way that’s reflective of that coverage. So to continue to deny them their rights as human beings; their basic civil rights; and to continue to press with the policy of home demolitions.”

wall and the occupation

Israel’s $1.6 million new media warriors

in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control. Preferential services, development, and benefits are given to Jewish settlers while at the same time Palestinians have harsh conditions imposed on them. The Report highlights how Israeli practices appear to be intended to promote life in the settlements while in many instances stifling growth in Palestinian communities and even forcibly displacing Palestinian residents. Such

Continued from front page

Following the vote, the Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour stated that the Security Council had failed to “uphold its responsibilities.” He went on to say: “Our overarching goal remains to bring an end to the Israeli colonization and occupation of our land and its destruction of the two-State solution…We fear, however, that the message sent today may be one that only encourages further Israeli intransigence and impunity.” The Resolution was co-sponsored by over 120

different treatment, on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin violates the fundamental prohibition against discrimination under human rights law. Israel continues to seek to justify such discrimination and oppression as necessary for ‘security’ reasons. However, this argument has long since been discredited. To view the full report, visit

other countries, reflecting the massive international will in favour of it. It was intended to urge the parties to continue their negotiations and peace talks and overcome the current stale-mate. Palestinians are refusing to resume talks until Israel puts its words into action by freezing all illegal settlement building. This is the first time the US has used its veto power since the election of Barak Obama, and it is expected to lead to greater distrust of the US on Arab streets and question its credibility as a mediator in peace efforts.





ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011


Turkey publishes report on Freedom Flotilla Attack

Britain upgrades Palestine status The Palestinian delegation in London is to become a diplomatic mission following a decision by Foreign Secretary William Hague to confer diplomatic status. The announcement was made on March 8th just ahead of Mahmoud Abbas’

visit the country. This step brings Britain into line with several other European countries. While the only real changes of this move will be procedural, it has been welcomed by Palestinians who view it as a step closer to statehood.

Scottish campaigners are celebrating success after Edinburgh Council rejected an attempt by French multinational company Veolia to take control of various public services in the city. Other local authorities such as Swansea and Dublin have already distanced themselves from Veolia, which

provides transport to illegal Israeli settlements. Council leaders heard from leading law firms, who warned that granting the contract to Veolia could mean exposing themselves to legal action due to supporting a company whose actions are clearly in violation of international law.

Alongside the large number of South American countries who have now recognised a Palestinian state, the EU has stated that it too will recognise Palestine,

“when appropriate”. The statement came following calls from Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to recognise Palestine based on the 1967 borders.

Edinburgh Council: ‘No’ to Veolia

Following the May 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Turkey published the findings of its own investigation in February 2011. Nine Turkish citizens (one of whom held dual Turkish/US citizenship) were killed by Israeli commandoes as they boarded the aid ship firing live weapons. The Report was prepared by the Turkish National Commission of Inquiry and has been submitted to the Panel of Inquiry set up by the UN Secretary-General. The Report called the Israeli blockade of Gaza illegal, and listed 70 passengers from a host of countries as wounded with one remaining in a coma. The report refuted Israeli claims that weapons were on board the ship,

stating categorically that the ship had been inspected for security, immigration and customs purposes. It goes on to describe the military attack on the ship, and states that once the Israeli forces took over the vessel, instead of exercising caution and restraint, they continued to brutalize and terrorise the passengers; abusing them physically, verbally and psychologically. The passengers were beaten, kicked, elbowed, punched, deprived of food and water, handcuffed, left exposed to sun, sprayed with sea-water for hours, and denied toilet access. Abuse against passengers was reported to have continued while they were in the Israeli prison and when they were leaving. Passengers who arrived at the airport exhausted

by the ordeal were again taunted, paraded as terrorists and enemies, verbally abused, spat on, bullied, pushed around and manhandled. Many believed this was done in order to provoke a response which was then used as an excuse by some Israeli officers to severely beat any passenger who resisted, while other officers stood in front to ensure no one could witness the attack. Following the international outcry, when the bodies of the deceased were returned to Turkey, they were not accompanied by any medical or autopsy notes. Most of the passengers’ belongings were never returned. The Mavi Marmara itself was returned to Turkey after 66 days, but Israel deliberately attempted to wipe

all evidence of the attack, by thoroughly scrubbing down the ship, washing away all blood stains, repairing all bullet holes, and repainting the interior. All CCTV equipment was destroyed, and the captain’s log, computer hardware and ship documents were all missing. The report concluded that Israel had broken numerous provisions of international law which began with its illegal attack on the ship. Further to this, the ill-treatment of the passengers was said to breach the Convention against Torture. Turkey has repeatedly asked Israel to officially apologize and pay compensation for all the loss and damages caused by its illegal attack. Israel has refused to issue such an apology.

British author Ian McEwan was in Jerusalem to receive the Jerusalem prize for literature, saying “a great and self-evident injustice hangs in the air”. He used his speech to draw attention to the abuses being committed against Palestinians as well as laying some blame on Palestinian factions for

violence. He described Jerusalem as the most intense place he had ever set foot in but went on to say that he was “deeply, deeply touched to be awarded this honour that recognises writing which promotes the idea of the freedom of the individual in society”.

EU to recognise Palestine

Ian McEwan and Israel’s great injustice

ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011





Attempted arrest of Lieberman

Dutch support Palestinian farmers A Dutch government program to support Palestinian farmers has meant that for the second year, Israel has approved the export of strawberries and carnations from the Gaza

Strip. Approval for a limited number of vegetables remained pending. 700 tons of fruit and 30 million stems were expected to leave the strip. However, delays in 2009 meant that of the 40

million stems which left Gaza, only half reached their destination, with 25 million flowers being fed to livestock after perishing due to the delay. The number of exports permitted by Israel is

still minimal and the Israeliimposed blockade has left the economy of the impoverished Gaza Strip in dire straits. Unless the blockade is lifted, the economy stands no chance of recovery.

Parliamentary delegation visits West Bank

Israel’s hard-line Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman faced an embarrassing situation when an Irish journalist attempted a citizen’s arrest outside a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council in Brussels. David Cronin is reported to have said: “Mr Lieberman, this is a citizen’s arrest. You are charged with the crime of apartheid. Please accompany me to the nearest police station.” Cronin had previ-

ously attempted to arrest Tony Blair. The arrest did not take place and the journalist was escorted away from the building by security guards while he yelled ‘Free Palestine’. Cronin is no stranger to the Israel/Palestine conflict and is the author of a new book on EU-Israel relations. He has recently returned from a tour of Israel and the Occupied Territories.

During London Fashion week, Palestinian fashion designer Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury ditched the catwalk and displayed his 22 piece collection at the Qattan Foundation’s Mosaic Rooms. The exhibition, titled the ‘Silk Thread Martyres’ contained a collection of 22 unique garments, with the screening of a short

video he scripted, designed and produced to reflect the enigmatic theme of the exhibition. While it may seem peculiar to many, the inspiration for his designs comes from the plight of the Palestinian people. He uses exquisite embroidery techniques to produce a radical reworking of Palestinian tradition

A parliamentary delegation organised by Friends of Al Aqsa and the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) visited the troubled hotspots in the Occupied Territories in November 2010. The delegation met and heard stories from Palestinians, as well as members of political parties, in addition to visiting areas such as Silwan in Jerusalem where at least 88 Palestinian homes are subject to demolition orders. Several British MP’s attended, in addition to journalists from the local press and the Guardian.

Silk Thread Martyrs - Fashion from Palestine

going back to hand-crafted styles. “The daily fashion that people wear in Palestine has become corrupted by global trends; machine work doesn’t reflect Palestinian identity. Average people would be wearing the same thing as in Europe. I want to re-establish the visual identity of garments in Palestine,” says Omar

Joseph. He pursued a career in fashion as he felt the industry was missing an authentic Palestinian voice. His unconventional approach to Fashion Week shows that he is remaining faithful to his root and providing Palestinians with something to be proud of.

Former European leaders call for tougher Israel stance

At the end of 2010, former European leaders, including former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and European Commissioners, wrote a letter to EU President Van Rompuy and High Representative Catherine

Ashton, in which they called on the EU to adopt a more pro-active stance in respect of the Israel Palestinian conflict. They also called for Israel to be “held accountable for its actions.”




ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011


The Israeli Army will cash in on Egypt’s upheavals

Egyptian protesters opposed to President Hosni Mubarak pray in Tahrir Square

By Jonathan Cook

Israel has been indulging in a sustained bout of fear-mongering since the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. The ostensible aim has been to warn the international community that the lengthy ‘cold peace’ between the two countries is on the verge of collapse. In reality, the peace treaty signed three decades ago is in no danger for the forseeable future. The Egyptian and Israeli armies have too much of a vested interest in its continuation, whatever political reforms occur in Egypt. And if the Egyptian political system really does

open up, which is still far from sure, the Israeli military may actually be a beneficiary - if for all the wrong reasons. The main value of the 1979 Camp David treaty to the Israeli leadership has been three decades of calm on Israel’s south-western flank. That, in turn, has freed the army to concentrate on more pressing goals, such as its intermittent forays north to sow sectarian discord in Lebanon, its belligerent posturing towards first Iraq and now Iran in the east, and its campaign to contain and dispossess the Palestinians under its rule.

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, compared a postMubarak Egypt with Iran, saying Israel was “preparing for the worst”. Likewise, Gabi Ashkenazi, the departing chief of staff, stated that Israel was braced for the peace treaty’s cancellation as the “moderate camp” weakened.

Officially, Tel Aviv’s concern is that, should the treaty be revoked, Israel will have to redirect much of its martial energy to preparing for potential hostilities with its neighbour, the most populous Arab state. Israel’s anxious declarations about the peace treaty, however, are largely self-serving.

Since Mubarak’s ousting on February 11, Israeli politicians and generals have warned that democracy for Egypt is bound to empower the country’s Islamists, supposedly bent on Israel’s destruction.

Peace has reigned between Israel and Egypt because it is so strongly in the interests of both militaries. That is not about to change while the Egyptian and Israeli general staffs maintain their pre-eminent roles as the praetorian guards of their countries’ respective political systems.

Today’s close ties between the Israeli and Egyptian armies are a far cry from the earlier era of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who galvanised Arab nationalism in an attempt to defeat Israel, or his successor, Anwar Sadat, who almost led the Arab world to victory against the Israeli army in 1973. Since the signing of the

1979 agreement, Washington has bought off the hawks on each side with massive military subsidies underwritten by the American taxpayer. The US has been happy to bankroll an accord that strengthens Israel, its useful Middle Eastern ally, and buys the acquiescence of Egypt, the Arab state best placed to resist the current regional order.

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Both armies are revered by their countrymen. Should that change in Egypt over coming months, the army is too strong - thanks to the US - to be effectively challenged by the protesters.

Pro-government protesters clash with anti-government protesters outside the National Museum near Tahrir square in Cairo

The Egyptian army receives $1.3 billion in annual military aid, making it the second largest recipient after Israel, which gets more than twice as much. In addition, military hardware has been lavished on the Israeli army, making it possibly the fourth strongest in the world -- an astonishing situation for a country of only seven million.

The generosity has continued despite the US financial crisis, and includes Washington’s effective donation last year to Israel of two dozen of the next-generation F-35 stealth fighter jet as part of its pledge to maintain Israel’s “technological edge” over its rivals in the region. Three decades of American money thrown at the two armies have made each a key player in their respective economies - as well as encouraging a culture of corruption in the senior ranks. In Egypt’s case, large sections of the economy are controlled by retired generals, from electrical goods and construction companies to the production of olive oil and medicines. The army is reported to own about a third of the country’s assets. The Israeli army’s eco-

nomic stake is less ostentatious but no less significant. Its officers retire in their early forties on full pensions, and then cash in on their “security know-how”. Second careers in arms dealing, military consultancies or sinecures in Israel’s booming homeland security exports are all but guaranteed. Ehud Barak, a former chief of staff and the current Defence Minister, made millions of dollars from his security consultancy in a few years out of politics, for example. Corruption, endemic in Israel’s political culture, has rapidly seeped into the military. Some of it is visible, as demonstrated this month with the passing over of a series of candidates for the vacant post of chief of staff because of the skeletons in their closets. Some is not: current investigations into dubious activities by Mr

Ashkenazi and his family are subject to heavy reporting restrictions. Israeli hawks, however, are right to be concerned on other grounds - about the “threat” of political reform in Egypt. Although greater democracy will not undermine the peace agreement, it may liberate Egyptians to press for a proper regional peace deal, one that takes account of Palestinian interests as the Camp David accord was supposed to do. Not least, in a freer Egypt, the army will no longer be in a position to play Robin to Israel’s Batman in Gaza. Its continuing role in the strangulation of the tiny enclave would likely

come to an end. But in such a climate, the Israeli military still has much to gain. As Israeli analyst Aluf Benn has observed, Israel will use the Middle East’s upheavals to highlight to the US that it is Washington’s only reliable ally - the so-called “villa in the jungle”. Its show of anxiety is also designed to remind the US that a jittery Israel is more likely to engage in unpredictable military adventures. The remedy, of course, is even greater American donations. And for that reason, if no other, the fearmongering from Tel Aviv is not about to end.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). This article first appeared in






ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011


Long Live Palestine | FoA meets rapper Lowkey Lowkey is best known for his chart topping hits which usually carry political messages. He first came into the Palestine campaign circuits when he released his track ‘Long Live Palestine’ which he has performed at numerous demonstrations. Born to an Iraqi family, Lowkey’s real name is Kareem Dennis and he is a 25 year old artist and peace activist. We caught up with him when at Leicester’s De Montfort University where he was invited to speak.

What made you write your track ‘Long Live Palestine’? Operation Cast Lead inspired me to write the song. I wrote it originally as just a poem and it sprung to a song from that. But it was also because I felt very strongly about the injustice imposed on the Palestinian people. This was my effort articulating the nation of Palestine.

So what sort of response did you get from the political message? Really really positive. It created a lot of popularity, a lot more than I ever expected. And in fact at that point it was my most successful popular song. Do you think music or art can be used to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians?

Children in Gaza need

I think that it’s not about bridging the gap between Israelis and Palestinians but it is about fully discrediting and dissolving the idea of Zionism. I think music can do that, is doing that and will do that. And it’s not just music really, we’re fighting for public perception and the view the rest of the world holds.

Have you visited Palestine and if so what was your experience like? I have been twice to the West Bank and once reached Gaza. I think in the West Bank the most important thing that I witnessed was the colonization, and the continuous building of settlements - over half a million illegal Israeli settlers are on the West Bank. That represents the expansion of the state of Israel. In Gaza you have a siege and the isolation of the people. You have fear in Israel.

Israeli society is breeding human beings that are so scared they would shoot at their own shadows. The problem with Zionism is that it’s so unjust, that ultimately even those that benefit from that injustice are so scared and so fearful of losing their position and privilege. What shocked me mainly were the settlers. In Hebron it’s just sick. Hebron is like Zionism in its purest form. If we have a British passport, we have far more opportunities and freedom in terms of coming and going. When they look at the British passport they’re looking at the country that gave the land to them, so the British passport is quite a good security blanket when travelling the world but specifically when travelling to Palestine.

to make a positive change in people’s attitude where issues such as Palestine are concerned? Try and be your best, and it’s a struggle – I am still struggling every day. An artist struggles through their whole life to find the voice which is true to them. A way of expressing themselves which is 100% true to them – which is what I am trying to do and that’s what I’d advise anyone else trying to get started in this. Free yourself 100%

What advice would you give to young people who have a talent and hope to use it

and don’t copy what you think is successful and works. Just speak about what’s on your mind and in your heart. In terms of making a positive change, you have to really want the change. I want to make a difference and make a change more than anything else in this world. If the driving force of your life and your music is self-glorification, well then ultimately you’re headed down a path which wont make you happy.

Lowkey with DeMontfort University Palestine Society

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The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy. After months of hard work and wide consultation, our new website is now up and running. A special thanks goes out to all those who have worked hard to ensure it became a reality. We hope the website will provide a source of information and facts for everyone out there. We also welcome articles, stories, videos and images from you to help make this an interactive and dynamic website led by its users. This edition of Aqsa News covers a range of issues. Major events taking place in the Middle East are likely to change the political landscape of the region and have an impact on the peace process. FOA has continued to call for dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians on a fair and even negotiating platform. Since our last issue, Al Jazeera leaked the ‘Palestine Papers’ which revealed that while Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah were willing to relinquish

many Palestinian rights, Israel was not prepared to sign any peace deal. While these papers reveal that Fatah cannot be trusted to represent the Palestinian people and safeguard Masjid Al-Aqsa, it also reflects the fact that Israel wants total control of all of Mandate Palestine. While the rest of the Middle East is attempting to break away from autocratic rulers who have been subjugating the masses over the decades, unfortunately the situation in Palestine remains the same. The people in Gaza are still under siege and the West Bank is now being policed by Fatah on behalf of the Israelis. May 2011 marks another anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. FOA will hold several events during the month to mark it including a national lobby of Parliament of 11 May. We urge you all to get involved.

Volunteer of the month Friends of Al-Aqsa only achieves success through the grace of God (Allah swt) and the hard work of our volunteers. There are many volunteers who’s courage and dedication knows no bounds. We have introduced a volunteer of the month award to recognize these valued contributions.

Nourin, Coventry

Nourin has volunteered for Friends of Al-Aqsa for five years. She started distributing materials including the newspapers and leaflets. She then continued her hard work running stalls for FoA at every event in her locality, raising thousands of pounds over the years. What makes Nourin’s dedication stand out is that during her years as a volunteer she has been pregnant twice and gave birth to two of her three children. This did not impede her efforts at all. She was also physically ill and required a Cornea transplant from which added complications meant further hospital stays. Despite all the pressures she has faced over the years, we can always rely on Nourin to get in touch whenever new merchandise is out so that she can start selling it in her locality. Nourin’s dedication is an example which leaves the rest of us humbled. She has labored on despite the stress and turmoil she has faced personally, and her dedication makes the title of ‘Volunteer of the Month’ the least we can honor her with.

The Importance of Jerusalem and Masjid Al-Aqsa to Muslims

DATE: Sunday 8th May 2011 VENUE: Friends House, Euston To register for this FREE event please email your name to

Check the Label - Boycott Israeli Dates

Friends of Al-Aqsa will launch its annual ‘Boycott Israeli Dates’ campaign in May 2011. Supported by a dozen organisations including the PSC, and thousands of individuals across the country, the campaign hopes to build on last year’s success.

Upcoming events

11 May 2011 Join us for the Lobby of Parliament Day FOA and other solidarity groups will hold a national lobby for Palestine

Shamiul Joarder, who is heading up the campaign for Friends of Al-Aqsa, stated: “Last year we saw a staggering response to our campaign and this year we are going to make it bigger and better to ensure the boycott of Israeli dates is talked about in every household Muslim during Ramadan.” Israeli settlers in illegal settlements make profits of millions of dollars from the sale of dates in Europe. These dates are produced on stolen land from which Palestinians have been evicted, yet made to work on for paltry wages. Settlements

► FoA Glasgow Branch welcomes its first all-female team of volunteers!

in the Jordan valley neighbour Palestinian communities living in abject poverty. The boycott of Israeli dates sends a clear message that people in Britain will not support such injustice. While the boycott grows, people are also being encouraged to purchase Fair Trade Palestinian dates, which are often very expensive due to Israeli restrictions on the export of Palestinian produce. Despite the added cost, Zaytoun, which imports and supplies Palestinian produce in Britain, has stated that demand is now higher than ever. For

Lobbying is an attempt to influence politicians on specific issues by providing them with information and facts. FOA want you to contact your MP and arrange to meet them between 12pm and 6pm on 11th May 2011

more information on the availability of Palestinian produce including olive oil, dates, almonds, and soap, please visit: Palestinian dates can also be purchased from Friends of Al-Aqsa.

To order, see ‘Merchandise’ page - 10/11 to encourage them to support Palestine. Please book a day off if you need to as it is important we lobby as many MPs as possible. We are encouraging anyone who has a Palestine badge, t-shirt or wrist band

In January, FoA Glasgow held a conference and dinner to mark the anniversary of the War on Gaza where Israeli attacks killed over 1400 people. The conference titled ‘Gaza in 60 Minutes’ was attended by a cross section of the community and speakers included George Galloway and Ismail Patel. Sahira Dar, one of the Coordinators of the allfemale team was pleased with the event and the new team and sends the following message. “The event organised by the Glasgow branch of FoA needed a female perspective and so we rose to the challenge. We hope everyone will welcome “the girls” and pray that we are steadfast in our endeavours and remain a humble yet strong part of Friends of Al-Aqsa in the fight for Palestinian freedom. The speakers at the conference were inspirational

and brought home the message that we all need to understand the conflict and the extent of the oppression on the Palestinians. Ismail Patel delivered a powerful message to the audience urging them to support the work of Friends of Al-Aqsa and become a united voice of Truth. Through the story of Salah ad Din’s conquest of Jerusalem and the description of his relationship with his nemesis, Richard the Lionheart, he captured our hearts. As members of Friends of Al-Aqsa, we left with a sense of purpose - the dream of a peaceful Jerusalem for all Muslims, Christians and Jews. The day ended with a fabulous dinner after the conference, attended by our guest speakers, various local activists and educational organisations as well as our respected Imams, which the girls were congratulated on organising. We presented a uniformed front (literally!) and hope to make this the first of our many endeavours together. Finally, thank you to Rajnaara for our first training session which concluded the day and apologies for talking too much! Glaswegians are not renowned for their retiring nature.”

Join FoA today!

For just £10 a year, support the Free Palestine campaign. Send an email to and we will send you a direct debit form to set up your membership.


You can make one-off donations:

1. Online - through Paypal to (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

to wear it into Parliament to draw attention to the lobby for Palestine. If you would like to order one you can visit FOA’s online shop at There will be a briefing paper online soon and

there will be briefing sessions available on the day so you will have plenty of help planning for your meeting. Please email if you are meeting your MP.




ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011






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OFFER: All 4 of the above


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Send your answers with your name, age and address to: Friends of Al Aqsa, P.O Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. You can also email us your answers to:, please put ‘Competition’ as the subject heading. Deadline: 30th April 2011. Good Luck!



WORDSEARCH 12 years old or under?

Adam Angels Anger Bow

Earth Forgiveness Hawa Iblis

Paradise Pride Tree

Qur’an and Hadeeth O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know (and learn from) each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). [Quran 49:13]

Abdullah ibn Umar  reports that the Prophet  said, “There will be migration upon migration. The best of the inhabitants of the earth will reside where Prophet Ibrahim  migrated (Jerusalem).” [Sunan Abu Dawud]

Subject to terms & conditions. E&OE.

ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011




FUN AND GAMES Ages 13-18? Here’s a competition for you!

Setting up a Palestinian Society Students; Zainab, Saffiya, Nadeem and Umar in conjunction with Ally at De Monfort University, Leicester recently decided to set up a Palestinian Society. Here we interviewed one of them to see exactly how it’s done…

Palestine Facts Tile Puzzle Unscramble the following facts on Palestine by placing the tiles in the correct order. Send us your answers and you could be a winner! 1

Tell us a little about yourself My name is Zainab and I’m 19 years old. I’m currently a second year student at De Monfort University, studying science. Why did you decide to set up a Society at the University? Personally from a young age I have worked closely with FoA with members of my family and have been very passionate about Palestine and the conflict surrounding it. The other members of the team as well as me also felt that at De Monfort University not much was being done to raise awareness of the issue of Palestine on campus. With there being so many students we felt it would be a great opportunity to find ways to broaden their knowledge on the issue and for those students who already knew what was going on it would provide a path for them to get more involved in campaigning.








So once you decided to set up the Society, what was the first thing you did? Well to set up a society the following all need to be established: Nominate or vote for four main committee members – the president. Secetary, health and safety officer and treasurer. I approached some of my friends who I knew felt strongly about the topic too and asked if they were interested. If anybody else is wanting to do the same you need your committee members to be people you know you can work well with, and you can trust and rely on! Background research We visited the ‘sports clubs and society’s’ department in the students union and they advised us on how to go about setting up a society. We were told we’d need a minimum of 20 members in order to become official (other universities may vary) so we got to work straight away on collecting a list of names.

As a Society, what sorts of events / literature do you host or produce for the public? So far we have held 3 events... They were all talks , the biggest hosting Lowkey, Jody McIntyre and Dr Dahlia Wasfi. We had over 300 people attend... An amazing response!!!

Official paperwork Once this was done we went back to the office and they gave us a form to fill in requiring details such as names and contact details of the four committee members, what roles we would each be taking on and also our society’s aims and what kind of things we planned to do. We handed the form back in and from then on we were an official society!

We haven’t produced any literature yet but this could be a possibility in the future... Perhaps a newsletter or something along those lines. As for leaflets and information on Palestine for the public, FoA have been happy to provide us with these for our events.



What are your aims and aspirations for the Society? The main aims are to raise awareness on campus and to hopefully in the future set up some ongoing projects with a university we have twinned with in Palestine (An-Najah, Nablus, West Bank) and also raise money!

We have twinned with a university in the West Bank called An-Najah in Nablus and the university are funding a trip for 6/7 people to visit in April. Hopefully we can establish good links with the university from this and assess what resources they need and where they could use help.


Awareness After that is was just a case of getting people to sign up, so we stood outside the students’ union building for a few days and approached passers by asking them to join. What advice would you give to those who want to set up a Society in their college or university? You need a good secure group of committee members you can trust and rely on and who obviously have a passion for the subject. Advertise through friends and by setting up a Facebook page- its the quickest and cheapest way to contact a lot of people. Organise talks for people to come and listen to by people who have visited Palestine or people who can help motivate students to get involved. Don’t ever get put off by any bad opinions people may have... Continue to persevere!

If you would be interested in setting up a Palestine Society at your College / University but would like more advice or help, feel free to contact Friends of Al Aqsa by emailing and we can put you in touch with the right people!

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GO ON WWW.AQSA.ORG.UK AND ENTER YOUR EMAIL TO SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER SUDOKU Can you make each column, each row and each of the nine sub-grids that make up this puzzle contain the numbers 1 to 9? Try your luck - but don’t pull your hair out! Answer to last editions puzzle




ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011


‘From the Gulf to the Ocean’: the Middle East is changing Ramzy Baroud Now that the Egyptian people have finally wrestled their freedom from the hands of a very stubborn regime, accolades to the revolution are pouring in from all directions. Even those who initially sided with Hosni Mubarak’s regime, or favored a neutral position, have now changed their tune. “Arabs celebrate from the Gulf to the Ocean,” proclaimed a headline on Al Jazeera TV. The phrase “from the Gulf to the Ocean” is not a haphazard geographical reference, but very much a geopolitical one. Ever since former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat defied the will of the Arab collective and chose a self-serving (and according to popular Arab opinion, disgraceful) exit for his country from what was until then the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’, the above phrase functioned only as an empty slogan. Saddat’s signing of the Camp David treaty in 1979 had effectively marginalized the most committed Arab country from a

conflict that was previously defined by Egypt’s involvement. It thus left Israel’s weaker Arab foes as easy targets for uneven wars, and in a perpetual state of defeat and humiliation. Mubarak’s importance to Israel and the US stemmed from the fact that he guarded Israeli gains for the pitiful price of $1.8 billion a year. Most of this went to fulfill military contracts, upgrade military hardware and subsidize US military expertise aimed at ‘modernizing’ the Egyptian army. Israel, of course, was given almost double that amount and was promised, through a separate agreement with the US, a military edge against its foes, Egypt included.

But Mubarak gained much more than hard cash. His greatest gains were related to US foreign policy in the region. While the US violated the sovereignty of various Arab countries, Mubarak’s regime was left largely unscathed. Free from

Overcoming Israel’s attempts to discredit protest Ismail Patel

In recent months, Israel’s tactics to discredit legitimate protestors have targetted human rights activists within Israel and abroad. Human rights groups in Israel will now face scrutiny following the formation of a government-approved parliamentary committee to investigate Israeli organizations which criticize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thus, instead of tackling legitimate human rights concerns, Israel seeks to delegitimize those leveling the charges, despite the masses of evidence to support their claims. Israel is also promoting and consolidating the Zionist narrative in the UK, using intimidation and guilt against those challenging Israel’s oc-

cupation, human rights abuses and its expansionist aspirations. Two leading Israeli organizations with close links to the government, the Reut Institute and the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, both warned recently that London was becoming a center for anti-Israel activity culminating, they claim, in a rise of anti-Semitism because British Muslim-led organizations are being given free rein. Reut boasts on its website that is seeks to provide long-term strategic support to Israeli leaders and decision-makers, hardly making it an independent observer. It published a report on London in November titled “Building a Political Firewall against the Assault on

any effective resistance at home, and any serious criticism from abroad, members of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party used the lack of accountability to accumulate unprecedented wealth, at the expense of 40 percent of Egypt’s 84 million people who lived below the poverty line. The ruling party had indeed become a club for millionaires. All this mattered little to Washington, whose policies have only verified Lord Palmerston’s assertion that “there are no permanent allies… only permanent interests”. Ironically, it was also Washington that jumped on the opportunity to chase Mubarak - but not his regime - out of power. Soon after Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president read the short statement of Mubarak’s departure, Obama elatedly read his own statement. When he announced that the Egyptian people would settle for nothing less than ‘genuine democracy’, he sounded like one of the guys in the Tahrir square in Israel’s Legitimacy,” which claimed that London is the “Mecca of Delegitimization” and a key player in all major recent “delegitimization” campaigns concerning Israel. “Delegitimization” is the term coined by the Reut Institute last year to describe a whole variety of activities by Palestinian and solidarity activists who call for Israel to end its occupation, abide by international law and respect the human rights of all Palestinians. Reut’s report on London was followed by another from the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs which spared virtually no organization in London connected to the anti-war movement from the accusation of being “delegitimizers.” Common to both of these reports was the labeling of British Muslim organizations as “Islamist,” drawing on their ancestral and religious links to imply they had ties with Iran, Hizballah and Hamas, and thus present an existential threat to the democratic West. By drawing such spurious

Cairo, not the leader of the very country that had defended Mubarak’s reign and defined the former president as a ‘moderate’ and a good friend. “No permanent allies,” indeed. links, Israel and its apologists hope to demonize British citizens and score easy political gains by appealing to Islamophobia and fear.

This spin has been quickly picked up by Israel’s acolytes in the UK media. On 29 December 2010, The Times reported the ludicrous and baseless accusations by the Israeli defense ministry that the London-based Palestine Return Centre was involved in “terror-related activities” and served as a front for Hamas. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph a few days earlier, Andrew Gilligan bemoaned that the Charity Commission, the UK’s charity watchdog, has lost its bite when it concluded that it “found no evidence of irregular or improper use of the Char-

It was also this very Obama - now using poetic language to describe Egypt’s popular revolution - who chose Egypt in June 2009 to deliver his reconciliatory speech to Arabs and Muslims everywhere. Cairo was chosen because Mubarak had been a most faithful friend to the US and Israel. He had rallied the Arabs against Iraq in 1990. He had taken a stance against the Lebanese resistance in 2006. And he had championed Israel’s ‘security’ by sealing off the Gaza border, resulting in the loss of thousands of Palestinian lives. To justify keeping the border shut, Mubarak had cited the Rafah Agreement of 2005, claiming that opening the border could harm Palestinian sovereignty somehow. As it turned out, Egypt under Mubarak was fully involved in suffocating Palestinian democracy, destroying any resistance to Israel and ensuring the success of the Israeli siege. ity’s funds” in reference to separate accusations made in the Telegraph against another British Charity -Muslim Aid. Thus, by failing to follow Israel’s lead and implicate innocent charities like Muslim Aid, Gilligan, rather like Israel, chose to demonize those who fail to toe the line. We should take pride in the fact that the Charities Commission acts independently, rather than succumbing to political pressure to withdraw charitable status. While the fear of “Islamism” is being pumped in the veins of one arm of the nation, the other arm is being injected with the false idea that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. That is a point contested by, among others, many British Jewish individuals and organizations

According to Wikileaks, Omar Suleiman, until recently Egypt’s Intelligence Chief, had, in 2005, made a promise to Amos Gilad, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic Security Bureau: “There will be no elections (in Palestine) in January. We will take care of it.” When this promise could not be kept, and Hamas was elected to power, Suleiman invited the Israeli army to enter into Egyptian territories to secure the siege on Gaza. The CIA was also allowed to torture ‘terroristssuspects’ under the supervision of Mubarak’s goons, Suleiman in particular. It is important here to note that during nearly three weeks of Egyptian protests, the US pushed for a smooth and peaceful transition of power - from Mubarak to Suleiman. The determination of the Egyptian people, however, forced all such plans to be aborted. The schemers will continue to scheme, of course, but their options are quickly running out. When who stand in solidarity with Palestinians in calling for an end to Israel’s occupation and other human rights abuses.

Resorting to accusing Israel’s critics of “antiSemitism” is an old tactic that is being revived with new zeal in an attempt to intimidate into silence those calling for an end to Israel’s impunity and exceptionalism. What Zionists fail to understand is that the Free Palestine movement has permeated across all sections of British society and religious affiliation is incidental. Israel’s divideand-rule tactics have not succeeded in breaking the will of a brutalized Palestinian population, and they will not work against the solidarity movement in the UK either. While continuing to build illegal colonies on Palestinian land and subjugating millions through routine, brutal violence and killing; Israel insists that it always be presented as peaceful, reasonable,

ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011

Book Review | Egyptians said they wanted to change the ‘regime’, they really meant it. The Egyptian revolution has shown the world that democracy and freedom in the Arab world needs no military funding, no political doctrines, no Great Middle East Democracy Projects, and no foreign invasions or foreign-backed military coups. It only needs ordinary people to unearth their own, innate and extraordinary strength. The Egyptian revolution has finally restored the power back to the people, a collective experience that many of us will always remember, with pride, and some will always fear, for good reason. Ramzy Baroud (www. is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), available on

humane, compassionate and magnanimous. These virtues are extolled and celebrated in Judaism, as in many other religions, but they are not ones that have ever been practiced by Israel toward Palestinians. There is no doubt that at present Israel has the sympathy of the UK government. But the public is more and more aware of the realities and it is doubtful that the Zionist offensive can silence British people’s sense of justice. The British sense of justice will overcome attempts by the Zionist lobby of equating anti-Semitism with illegal Zionist occupation and practices in West Bank and Gaza Strip. These tactics are intended to divide people from each other and to sow sectarianism and fear. We mustn’t allow them to succeed. Ismail Patel is chair of FoA and author of several books including Palestine: Beginner’s Guide and Madina to Jerusalem: Encounters with the Byzantine Empire.

Bassam Abu Sharif was described as the ‘face of terror’ and the ‘most notorious terrorist’ in the 1960s and 70s when he advanced the cause of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). In 1972, a bomb placed in a book sent to him Dr. Yusuf Haffejee BDS




Arafat and the dream of Palestine, An Insider’s Account By Bassam Abu Sharif, Palgrave Macmillan (2009), ISBN 978-230608016, pp 288, RRP £14.99 Abu Sharif presents a first hand account of all the major events in the Middle East over the last 30 years; from the wars in 1967 and 1982 to the 1993 Oslo accords and Arafat’s death in 2004. Throughout, he reflects on his relationship with Arafat, his role and methodology and how this affected the Palestinian cause. Abu Sharif narrates key details of events and summits and in particular how Arafat was betrayed by two people. Firstly, in September 1973, by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and secondly, by President Reagan. Abu Sharif played a crucial role in representing Arafat at an international level. In 1983, he travelled to India and met with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was a good friend of Arafat. In somewhat contrast to the current Indian policy, she

left him severely disabled. Subsequently, he abandoned the use of violence and aligned himself with Yasser Arafat, eventually becoming one of his closest advisors and an architect of the peace plan. In this indispensable personal memoir,

said to him, “Do not forgot to tell him that India loves him”. (p.136) What is most interesting and revealing in this account is how the 1993 Oslo accord was reached and the role of Abu Sharif in the process. In 1988, he convinced Arafat to launch a comprehensive political peace initiative and started to draft the document at Arafat’s instruction. However, Arafat wanted Abu Sharif to publish the document under his name to test the waters. In what became known as the “Abu Sharif” document, it attracted international attention. This instigated official diplomatic contact from many European countries including Germany, France and

Britain. There is no doubt that the Abu Sharif document opened doors which were previously closed. In chapter 34, the author describes the historical trip of Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin to Washington D.C. in 1993 where they shook hands and signed the agreement. He described the doubt that plagued Arafat regarding Israel’s sincerity. Abu Sharif was the one who made the final arrangements for Arafat to be airlifted to Paris when he was ill and kissed his hand as he was taken away. This was to be the last glimpse of this heroic President, leaving Abu Sharif to lament that the world will never be a same place.

Reviewed by Yusuf Shabbir, University of Manchester The full review of this book is available at under ‘Book reviews’


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In History... 26 March 1979 – Israel and Egypt sign a Peace Treaty On this day in 1979, Egypt and Israel ended 30 years of war by entering a new era of peace. Egypt was the first neighbouring state to begin negotiating with Israel. The Agreement was signed in Washington and the two leaders at the time, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin shook hands on the Whitehouse lawn with President Jimmy Carter looking on.

The Peace agreement was met with angry protests from the Arab world, including the Palestinians who viewed this as a betrayal of them and their cause. President Sadat was also accused heavily of betraying his own people by entering the agreement. The Arab hostility was explained by the fact that Israel was still behaving like a belligerent state. It had established itself on Palestinian land, and created hundreds of thousands of

refugees and great misery. The 1967 war was also in recent memory, in which further land became occupied by Israel. Israel had agreed to withdraw its troops from the Sinai Peninsula in return for Egypt recognizing the state of Israel. It took two years for all the Israeli troops to pull out of the Sinai area, only for Israel to then invade Lebanon a few months later.




ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011


The Journey of a Lifetime

Salma Ibrahim Years ago I stumbled across a page promoting trips to Palestine for volunteers to participate in olive tree planting. It seemed the perfect chance to do something hands-on to help the cause that I’ve been passionate about since childhood. It would also mean that I could visit Masjid al Aqsa. After a lot of planning, this year I went off on a trip that was the best experience of my life. My friend and I flew directly to Tel Aviv in case the Jordanian border closed due to the current tensions around the Middle East countries. We were not too shocked at being detained,

interrogated and “security checked” for 3.5 hours upon arrival at “Paranoia Central” AKA Ben Gurion Airport. Once released from the airport we took a shared taxi through Jerusalem to the Gilo300 Checkpoint in Bethlehem. One minute we were in the advanced world of Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem - their roads lined with lush green trees or tall fancy buildings and monuments. The next minute we were in a run-down third world country with bleak buildings, worn-out cars and unkempt roads. It was as though we had actually stepped back in time. We went with the Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) who arranged for me and

my friend Parvin to stay with a wonderful Palestinian family in Beit Sahour. Our group of fifty internationals covered people of a range of nationalities and ages. Myself, Parvin and one other were the only Muslim Internationals and we were welcomed by the locals all over the West Bank with extra warmth and kindness!

We visited different farmers and planted trees with them and their families on their private land. At Almost every planting session, we encountered soldiers and even illegal settlers. On one occasion soldiers uprooted a few of our trees right in front of us and frustratingly 300 of the 1800 trees we planted were uprooted in February 2011. This reflects how difficult it is for Palestinian farmers to farm on their own land. Meeting the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee filled me with humility and respect – they do a tremendous amount of work to help Palestinians who are subjected to daily attack from the most extreme batch of radical illegal Israeli settlers.

My experiences on this trip were profound. No amount of reading or television could have prepared me for what I saw with my own eyes. I saw first hand the trials and tribulations farmers face when their trees are uprooted and their land snatched overnight for the sake of the ugly apartheid wall. I heard about the blatant crimes against Palestinian children and adults in Israeli prisons; I saw the hardships of those living in refugee camps and

even those just trying to do something as mundane as getting to work or school and being humiliated by the IDF or settlers; it was all very heavy on the heart and often filled many of us with anger and tears, even more-so because the warm, hospitable and incredibly dignified Palestinians told their tales with such calm and patience and somehow without hatred as if this had all become normal. What I will never forget from this trip is how despite their rights being violated and everything in their world being completely abnormal and restricted, the Palestinians we met all took their role as hosts so seriously and looked after us so beautifully.

My host family and many of our Palestinian friends look in awe at the glistening golden dome of the Kubbatas Sakhra from the hills of Bethlehem because they are prevented from going to Jerusalem. Many have not in

their lifetime ever been. I, as a foreigner living amongst them in their homes, was able to go to al Quds and pray in both masajid without restriction. Nothing can explain the mixed feeling of the joy and grief this caused especially on my first trip to the Haram Shareef. Palestine is their home and they have no choice but to endure the illegal occupation. A tiny taste of that pain can spur us on to do whatever we can to help them achieve peace. We need to wake up ourselves and stand firm against injustice and oppression so that we can help to free Palestine. During every step of our journey we were reminded to join in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign to help free Palestine!

The olive tree planting programme was arranged by the Joint Advocacy Initiative and Alternative Tourism Group. See





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ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011

Review During January and February 2011, Channel 4 aired a four part series called ‘The Promise’. Directed by Jewish filmmaker Peter Kosminsky, the programme has attracted wide-spread praise and some criticism for its daring and accurate portrayal of the end of the British Mandate of Palestine and the present reality of Israel as a military state. The Promise begins in England where gap-year student Erin discovers the diaries of her grandfather Len, a fictitious character who served in Mandate Palestine between the end of the Second World War and 1948. Erin then travels to the region and re-traces his footsteps in modern Israel and the Occupied Territories. The programme follows the story of Erin and Len in parallel. The director spent 8 years researching the history before the film was complete in order to ensure an accurate portrayal of the reality in 1940’s Mandate Palestine. In various interviews he stated that his research revealed how British soldiers were hugely sympathetic to the immigrant Jews arriving in Palestine after the Second World War, mainly due to what they witnessed when they liberated concentration camps. The programme includes some original footage showing emaciated corpses and other horrific scenes. As the Jewish community established itself in Palestine however, the British soldiers became less sympathetic as the actions of the new immigrant community included attacking soldiers and the deliberate sabotage of their missions. Recreated scenes such as the bombing of the King David Hotel and the hanging of two British soldiers were based on photographic evidence depicting the events. Kosminsky made the film for a British audience and as such, his character Erin reflected the average young Brit with little idea about the conflict. Her blunders during her stay in present day Israel portrayed




‘The Promise’ Universal Jurisdiction

the lack of knowledge about the past and present which many Brits would no doubt identify with. The simple act of inviting an Arab-Israeli into the home of her JewishIsraeli hosts created tension that she could not understand nor foresee. However, this simple scene reflected the deep set divisions which exist in Israeli society. The characters in the

programme included Israelis and Palestinians, and it was filmed on site in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Although Erin’s character opened as a disinterested observer, by the end she was consumed in the conflict in modern day Israel/Palestine. The Promise is compelling viewing, and it provides an accurate portrayal of the

circumstances which surrounded the loss of Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel, and the present reality where neither side has ever really experienced peace since 1948. It is not a simplistic or over-generalized narrative, and provides for the deep complexities which exist on both sides.

Following months of campaigning against changes to Universal Jurisdiction (UJ) laws, it is likely that the changes will take place. The amendments to the procedure for obtaining an arrest warrant against a suspected War Criminal mean that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) will now have to consent before an arrest warrant can be issued. At present the procedure requires an application to be submitted to the City of Westminster Magistrates Court and if the District Judge is satisfied that there is substantial evidence against the accused, he can issue an arrest warrant. The right to bring a private prosecution for a criminal offence is one of the oldest and most fundamental rights we have and this is now being eroded.

The Promise is available to purchase on DVD.

What are the likely consequences of Reform? The reforms proposed mean there is a higher likelihood of political influence in UJ decision making. With the proposed reform the DPP can allow political factors to influence the decision. The judiciary will not be able to act independently going against a fundamental tenant of our Constitution. In addition, the likely delays to the issue of an arrest warrant following the new procedure means that suspects will be able to enter and leave the UK for short trips without being detected. Most of the pressure for a change in the law emanated from Israeli politicians. This move by our government gives these politicians who are suspected of committing war crimes the green light to enter and leave the UK at will with no fear of being brought to account for their crimes. By Monjur Kamali




ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011


Omar Barghouti Friends of Al Aqsa recently caught up with Omar Barghouti, who is the author of the new book 'Boycott Divestment and Sanctions', Haymarket Books, 2011, £11.99. Kashif Iqbal interviewed him after his book launch in London and this is what he had to say.

1. What are the latest developments within the BDS movements? The cultural developments have picked up tremendously. Many major artists are boycotting Israel, or at least heeding our call not to perform or exhibit in Israel. We are also spreading beyond Europe and the West. The BDS is now reaching

south Asia - we had a BDS conference in India. We are planning a BDS conference in Latin America. Of course we have achieved tremendous success amongst trade unions, churches and other groups. 2. Do you think Israel is feeling its impact already? Absolutely, they are feeling it. The Israeli parliament

the Knesset is discussing how to criminalize the BDS. They call BDS a strategic threat, that is liable to become an existential threat, which shows that they are terrified of the prospects of this campaign because it promotes International law and human rights. BDS is asking for Palestinian rights under international law to be upheld and this is something very difficult for Israel to counter. 3. What can the average person on the street do to support the campaigns? It depends where that person is. If the person is in an institution they can pressure it to withdraw from investing in companies profiting from Israel’s occupations. As a consumer they can boycott Israeli products. If they are in the trade unions they can pressure their trade


union, if they are a student they can pressure their student council, professor and so on. It really depends on where you are, you can be

About Yaffa Dates

Friends of Al-Aqsa are stocking Yaffa Palestinian Medjoul dates To order go to page 10-11

Devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010 have affected more than 20 million people. Shattering communities throughout the country, the floods killed more than 1,900 people. At least 1.8 million homes were damaged or destroyed, rendering countless homeless. UWT has embarked upon a project which will involve the reconstruction of 2000 homes spread across 20 villages. The cost of each house is £2000 Please help make a difference and donate generously. The Prophet (saw) has said: “He who alleviates the suffering of a brother out of the sufferings of the world, Allah would alleviate his suffering from the sufferings of the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]

very creative in how to apply BDS to a group of people and we have seen a lot of different campaigns. We are a bunch of conscientious

citizens who have come together and succeeded in even convincing banks to withdraw their investment in Israel’s economy. So it can happen when there’s a will! 4. What are the next stages in the campaign plan? We are branching out from the West, so it becomes global in the true sense of the word. To reach countries such as India, Argentina, Brazil, and others - those are growing economies that have deep relations with Israel, and have complicity. Therefore we are trying to end the complicity everywhere in the world 5. What would you say to someone who is sceptical about BDS and whether or not it actually works? Read the book and let me know after you’ve finished it whether or not you are still sceptical.

Supplied by Sinokrot - one of the largest companies in Palestine specializing in the production of foodstuffs including dates, pickles and confectionery.

sive than Israeli products because:

Sinokrot is a Palestinian company that employs 500 permanent staff as well as 300 seasonal staff. This is a purely Palestinian company that sources all its goods from the occupied Palestinian territories and uses Palestinian labour. The dates come from farmers in Jericho

Israeli occupation policies make exporting dates hard for Palestinians. These difficulties are not faced by Israeli exporters as a different set of export rules apply to them. This makes it difficult to compete with Israeli goods on price as well as quality. These factors make Palestinian goods more expen-

● Israeli farmers are subsidized by the state. Palestinian farmers have no such support. ● Europe has awarded Israel preferential trade agreements, while it charges Palestinians higher import taxes. ● Before Palestinians can export their produce, Israel uses ‘security’ pretexts to impose strict regulations, including scanning of all produce. This means that the conditions which they need to be kept in, including low temperatures, are not adhered to. This can mean the produce is then of a lower quality. These facts reflect how the Israeli occupation is deliberately making trade and export impossible for Palestinians, while Israel trades freely with the world.

Youth Exchange Programme An International Summer Work Camp, ‘Global Palestine’, will take place at An-Najah University in Nablus.

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ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011

Tents and Wells destroyed in the West Bank The West Bank city of Al-Khalil was attacked by the Israeli army in February who destroyed 12 tents and 2 wells, one of which dated back to the Roman era. Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, said: "It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind the destruction of basic rain water collection systems, some of them very old, which serve marginalized rural and herder Palestinian communities where water is already scarce and where drought is an everpresent threat." Racism has become endemic in Israel’s younger generations. Classroom stresses for teachers include dealing with overt racism against Arabs and Palestinians. In one recorded case, an Israeli student wrote ‘death to Arabs’ in a civics test. Israeli teachers have called on their government to intervene to stop the spread of overt xenophobia.



Shocking abuses against children

In a shocking exposure of Israel’s repeated violations of international law in their treatment of child prisoners, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section have asked the UN Special Rapporteurs: on

‘Death to Arabs’


torture; on the independence of judges and lawyers; and on arbitrary detention; to ensure that an independent international inquiry investigates Israel’s abuses of child prisoners. They are seeking investigations of all

credible cases of torture, with perpetrators being brought to justice, and insist that all child prisoners must be interrogated with audio- visual recording in the presence of a lawyer or family member.

Video footage of soldiers photographing children in the middle of the night Volunteers of Israeli rights group B’Tselem managed to film soldiers entering Palestinian homes in Nabi Saleh at night to photograph youngsters from the village. The footage was aired on Israeli TV and showed the soldiers enter the homes and demand that every child and youth over the age of 10 be wakened.

They then photograph the minors and leave. B’Tselem reported at least four incursions of this kind during January 2011. The army uses the photographs to identify minors who throw stones during the regular Friday demonstrations in the village. Soldiers then return to their homes at

night and arrest them. The footage also shows the arrest of a 14-year-old youth on 23 January 2011. The soldiers refused to enable his parents to accompany him and treated them rudely. The youth was interrogated without his parents present and was kept in detention for at least 3 weeks.




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Sponsored Walk

Sunday 29th May 2011

Dovedale, Derbyshire A 15 km Sponsored Walk (Estimated time to complete - 4 hours) Or An 8km Sponsored Walk for families (Estimated time to complete - 2 hours)

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To help raise funds for Friends of Al-Aqsa To register your interest contact us now: E: | T: 0116 2125441 For more details please visit:

If under 18, please state the name of the accompanying adult: _________________________________ Please return this form to: Friends of Al-Aqsa, P.O Box 5127, Leicester, LE2 0WU. Tel: 0116 212 5441 Alternatively, e-mail these details to us at and we will send out your pack




ISSUE 46 / MARCH 2011

Palestinian athlete runs personal best in borrowed shoes


£10 Mention that you are a constituent and you would like to discuss issues related to Palestine Email once you have contacted your MP


A Palestinian athlete ran a personal best at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, despite having to borrow a pair of running spikes from a Qatari friend. Poor facilities in Gaza means that Nader alMasri trains on the roads of Gaza and running spikes are not available due to a lack of appropriate materials.

El-Masri was impressed by facilities in Guangzhou, and hopes that one day such infrastructure will be built in Palestine. In the meantime, the athlete wishes to train in neighbouring countries where facilities are better, in preparation for the London Olympics.

According to local sources, a large group of armed Israeli settlers invaded Qusra village, near the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank on Monday 7 March. They began uprooting olive trees, throwing stones and firing live ammunition at Palestinian farmers. Palestinian youth threw stones at the settlers, and the Israeli army then attacked the youth with live ammunition, injuring ten, three seriously. This attack is just the

latest in a series of recent violations by Israeli settlers, who uprooted 500 olive trees from village in one week and vowed to attack and “remove” Palestinians from their ancestral home. The settlers want to expand their illegal Israeli settlement located on village land. According to eyewitnesses, the army did not attempt to apprehend or arrest any of the settlers who provoked the incident.

Support Interpal’s Medical Aid Project Help us provide essential medical care

Settlers attack with impunity, protected by army

Al-Aqsa dig to continue

Four years ago Israel suspended digging at the alMaghreb gate leading into the al-Aqsa complex after a wave of protests by Palestinians and other Muslim communities around the world. The digging and building of a concrete ramp into the complex was opposed as Palestinians believe this will facilitate the entry of armoured vehicles into the sacred complex. In early March, Israel announced that it would resume the dig and the building work, and many expect that this will spark further unrest.

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