Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Sweden, Assange and the USA

It is almost a certainty that the editor of WikiLeaks will be turned over to the United States if he is extradited to Sweden.

Sweden has requested the extradition of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from the United Kingdom, and legal proceedings are expected to commence at the start of the new year. Due to the extraordinary behaviour of the prosecutor in charge of the case, questions have been raised about the prospects of Assange receiving impartial justice in Sweden.

Far more serious is the risk that he might in turn be extradited from Sweden to the United States, where he has been the target of hysterical accusations and violent threats in a lynch-mob atmosphere that has been stirred up by the government, mass media and political demagogues.

Thus, a key issue to be considered in the U.K. extradition process is whether or not Mr Assange’s civil and legal rights will be ensured if, as seems certain, the United States requests/demands his extradition from Sweden in the event he is returned to that country. >>

Monday, 20 December 2010

BDS Flash Mob: Lady Gaga Motorola Boycott for Palestine!

From St Louis Palestine Solidarity Committe:

More than forty members and friends of the St Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) gathered at Best Buy and AT&T for a flash mob urging holiday shoppers to Boycott Israeli Apartheid and Hang Up on Motorola!

One of the participants was arrested as he was attempting to leave the parking lot. Call the police in North St Louis and you're lucky if someone shows up, but disrupt three minutes of Christmas shopping and you are busted! 

Visit our website and learn more about the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine: ‪http://www.stl-psc.org‬

Update: After publication on Ynet, we received an unusually high volume of racist, homophobic, and sexist attacks, prompting us to screen comments to filter out hate speech. All other comments, positive or negative, will be approved.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Palestine: Yet People Celebrate (Christmas 2010)

At Christmas time people around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Palestine. They celebrate a birth that was meant to propagate a set of ideals to make the world a better place. Some 2,010 years later, that same birthplace is plagued by a regime that practises the exact opposite of those ideals. Bethlehem is surrounded by a racist wall of biblical proportions, by regime which is racist to biblical proportions. Yet people celebrate.

The people of Palestine also celebrate. They need to, as any other people would need to celebrate. After all it is the season to make exceptions. In this season, people make exceptions when it comes to their spending, to their diets, to the way they treat each other. So it is only logical to make an exception by putting an effort for the land, the homes and people of the birthplace of Christmas, for justice in Palestine.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Scribd.com yields to Israeli pressure over war crimes suspects list

The document hosting and embedding website Scribd.com has yielded to pressure from the Israeli army's press unit and deleted the Scribd account of Redress Information & Analysis, following our posting of a list of Israeli military personnel suspected of war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead of 2008/09.

Please write to Scribd and tell them what a bunch of craven cowards they are. Their email address is press@scribd.com

They did not even have the courtesy of asking us to remove our other files first.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Israeli racial purity militia receives official backing

Gush Shalom: An extreme right racist militia is active in Carmiel, supported by the municipality and with the approval of the police

In a letter to the attorney-general, the Gush Shalom movement asks to disband immediately the so-called "City Guard" at Carmiel in the Galilee, which is actually a racist extreme right militia, and to launch an investigation against Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein who founded this body, as well as against police officials who helped in its establishment and operation.

The "City Guard" includes about 150 "volunteers" who turn up daily from 2000 to 2400 hours at the entrances to Carmiel and "check" incomers. The official site of the Carmiel Municipality defines the City Guard's objectives as "increasing awareness, prevention of crime, apprehending drunk drivers, searching for drugs" and other legitimate and praiseworthy aims. However, Carmiel Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein, who was elected to the municipal council on the basis of a fiery anti-Arab campaign, candidly revealed the City Guard's true aims.

Milstein has recently published an interview in the extreme right-wing publication "Be'Sheva", where he said:
Carmiel is a Jewish city, plain and simple. It was founded for the purpose of Judaizing the Galilee. In my opinion it is not proper for Arab families to live here. In recent years, there are attempts by our [Arab] neighbors in the Western Galilee villages to migrate into Carmiel, and we must not ignore this phenomenon.
According to Milstein, since being appointed deputy mayor two years ago, he had been striving "to do something real in order to change the situation". To this end he founded the City Guard, in cooperation with the Carmiel police. Milstein proudly told the extreme right paper that members of the "City Guard" are "monitoring every evening the entrances to the city and demand the I.D. of anyone seeking to enter the city. Thus, they reduce the number of neighbors seeking to just enter the city for no special reason."

For the full Hebrew interview, see

In their letter to Attorney-General Weinstein, Uri Avnery and Adam Keller wrote on behalf of Gush Shalom that "the aims and activities of the Carmiel City Guard, as described candidly by its founder, are manifestly racist and illegal. There is no doubt that all citizens of Israel - regardless of religion, race or nationality - have the inalienable right to move freely all over the country, enter any city and village, any public place, as they see fit and, and "for no special reason". They need not ask permission nor give an account of themselves to anyone - certainly not to a militia of despicable racists in Carmiel.

Gush Shalom said that the fact of this abominable body being established by an Israeli deputy mayor, with the full support of Israel's police, is yet another serious warning sign in the growing list of blatant racist manifestations in the Israeli public life. The racists' aim – in the government, in the municipality of Carmiel and throughout the country – is to drive out the Arabs, because they are Arabs...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Support Palestine: come to Jazza Music Festival

Dear Friends of Palestine,

Musicians Sarah Gillespie, Gilad Atzmon and at least 40 other leading artists from UK and Palestine will try to achieve the impossible in London next week.

They will play together in a massive music festival for Palestine. They are flying musicians to London for the event, mixing jazz with folk, hip hop and roots music. They believe in one thing: that artists who support Palestine must say so loudly and proudly using their music and their voices.

The Jazza Music Festival is serious but is also a  big fun party – and we want you to join in!
Jazza Music Festival
12 & 13 October 2010
@ THE SCALA (http://www.scala-london.co.uk/scala/)
275 Pentonville Road, London
For the line up, click here.

The funds raised in the two nights of the Jazza Music Festival will help the Free Palestine Movement deliver more and more humanitarian aid to Palestine.

We are also proud and delighted to announce that Shadia Mansour, the Palestinian hip hop queen, has also joined the Jazza Festival line up.

You can listen to the amazing Shadia and the mind blowing Stormtrap (ex- Ramallah Underground) singing together on a track produced recently by Gilad Atzmon together with Robert Wyatt and Ros Stephen: "Where are They Now" (Wyatt, Atzmon, Mansur, Stormtrap).
Book tickets online for Tuesday 12 October here.

Book Tickets online for Wednesday 13 October here.

You can also send in donations here.
Please circulate this message as far as you can.

Palestine needs your support.

Music against oppression.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Eyewitnesses: Israel's violent seizure of Irene aid ship

From Stuart Littlewood

To Henry Bellingham, MP

Dear Henry,

This horrifying personal account of how the unarmed mercy vessel Irene was seized will, I hope, open the eyes of the collaborators in our Foreign Office to Israel's cruelty and viciousness. Perhaps you would care to share it with those of your Parliamentary colleagues who so admire and defend the vile regime.

Note the Israeli navy's instruction that “You are entering an area which is under military blockade and is closed under international law.” I think it has been established that the blockade has no basis in international law and I am still waiting to hear HM Government's expert view of how maritime law views Israel's action stopping and seizing ships under British and other flags and abducting passengers and crew going about their lawful business outside Israel's territorial waters.

It is also interesting that the Israelis were concerned that the Irene was entering an area close to an oil rig. Would this be the Israeli rig that's suspected of slant-drilling into Gaza's marine gas field?

Kind regards,

Stuart Littlewood

Violent seizing of the Irene Gaza aid ship

Friday, 10 September 2010

JAZZA Music Festival for Gaza

Please circulate this message as far as you can. We want to pack The Scala with music lovers and people who care.
“For the musicians who support the long suffering people of Palestine, silence is simply not an option.”  Robert Wyatt 2010
JAZZA Music Festival 12 and 13 October 2010

At The Scala
275 Pentonville Road
London, N1 9NL
Tel 020 7833 2022

As a response to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Palestine, a group of artists have for some months been planning a festival that will bring together luminaries from all areas of music to raise awareness, support and funds for the people of Gaza. As with the devastation that besets Palestine, the JAZZA Festival will not be a one-off event but will travel to international venues. Only with the final liberation of the people of Gaza will the JAZZA Music Festival stage it's final act, in Gaza itself.

Please show your solidarity and solidarity by booking tickets for and spreading the word to friends and supporters.

JAZZA Music Festival 2010 marks the official album launch of the much anticipated release of Wyatt/Atzmon/Stephen’s album "For the Ghosts Within” (Domino Records).

The concerts on both evenings will feature acclaimed vocalist - Cleveland Watkiss, Ros Stephen and the Sigamos String Quartet, and the Orient House Ensemble. Also appearing are Northumbrian folk stars The Unthank sisters, specially formed super-group the Jazza All-Stars featuring Seb RochfordPeter KingOren Marshall and Alex Garnett, virtuoso oud player Nizar al-Issa, singer-songwriters Rory McCloudSarah Gillespie, Gilad Atzmon and Palestinian hip hop artist Shathayah (Ramallah Underground)

JAZZA Music Festival is organized in association with the Free Palestine Movement, leading advocates for the humanitarian rights of Palestinians and the right of free access throughout Palestine.

Tickets GBP 20 per night.

Tuesday 12 October 2010 7:30 PM - book here
  • Nizar Al-Issa
  • Sarah Gillespie Quartet
  • The Unthanks Sisters
  • Robert Wyatt/Atmon/Stephen Album launch "For The Ghosts Within" with the Orient House Ensemblee, Sigamos Strings and Cleveland Watkiss - vocals.
Wednesday 13 October 2010 7:30 PM - book here
  • Shathayah (Ramallah Underground)
  • Rory McCloud
  • Wyatt/Atzmon/Stephen Album launch “For The Ghosts Within” with the Orient House Ensemble, Sigamos Strings & Cleveland Watkiss - vocals
  • Jazza All-Stars featuring Peter King, Seb Rochford, Alex Garnett, Oren
  • Marshall and Gilad Atzmon.

    Sunday, 5 September 2010

    Tony Blair the warmonger: limited edition prints

    The above limited edition prints of the iconic picture of Tony Blair photographing himself with his mobile phone against a backdrop of  Iraq in flames, signed by the artists Peter Kennard and Cat Phillips, are selling very fast.

    Stop the War Coalition are restricting sales to Stop the War supporters in the first instance. If you are interested in one of these prints, it is advisable to place an order with the national office very soon:

    SIZE: 51cm x 51cm  
    COST: £10 plus £2.50 postage   
    TO BUY: Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7801 2768

    Saturday, 4 September 2010

    Open letter to Tony Blair from his sister-in-law

    By Lauren Booth

    Dear Tony,

    Congratulations on your political memoir becoming an instant bestseller. I’m in Iran and have the only copy in the country. I can tell you, it’s so fiercely fought over, it’s worth its weight in waepons of mass destruction’s. Note to Random House: have ‘A Journey’ translated into Farsi and Arabic asap, it’ll fly off the shelves in this part of the world.

    Tony, yesterday [3 September] I went the Al Quds [Jerusalem] day protest in Tehran. You may have heard of it? It’s the rally where Iranians gather to protest against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, including the Holy city of Jerusalem.

    I’m being sarcastic by asking if you’ve heard of Al Quds day, because I know you have. It is after all your very worst nightmare right? It must be horrifying with the ‘world view,’ you express in your memoirs to watch scenes on the BBC news showing the precise meeting point of politics and Islam.

    Personally I’ve never understood this fear of ‘political Islam’ it seems to me that religious people should always be educated on world events rather than kept in ignorance like say, Mid West Christian Zionists in the US who can’t even find their home city on a map of their state.

    Anyway, yesterday, I stood in the midst of more than one million Iranian Muslims all chanting in unison ‘Marg Bar Isre-hell!’ and ‘Marg Bar Am-ri-ca!’ You know what that means Tony I’m sure ; ‘Down with Israel, down with America’. The men, women and children around me withstood a day of no water and no food (it’s called Ramadan, Tony, it’s a fast). Coping with hunger and thirst in the hundred degrees heat, as if it were nothing. They can withstand deprivation in the Muslim world, and think it a proud thing to suffer in order to express their fury at the continued slaughter of Palestinians. To protest the theft of what little remains of Palestinian land by settlers. To protest the blockade of Gaza causing immense suffering to millions.

    Now, the Christian Zionists in the US and the Jewish Zionists in Israel would have you believe that I was am in danger in Iran, especially on a day like Al Quds. Well here again Tony, you’ve been fed and have consumed in its entirety, a massive lie. The lie that says that when Muslims march they march against infidels (like me I suppose) in some kind of Middle Eastern homage to the ancient crusades.

    Yet the crusade Tony is yours, not ‘theirs.’

    Today I spoke with many women on the Tehran protest. One mother who wept, not out of hatred for ‘the West’ but out of empathy for the mothers of Rafah, Khan Younis, Nablus and Jenin. Do you recognise these place names Tony, as Middle East peace envoy you really should. Israel has massacred children in all of these cities in recent years. Didn’t you know?

    Anyway the women I met were gentle, frustrated by the refusal of the international community to stop the arrests of Palestinian children, to stop the routine bombing of the tunnels (the main access still for food and essential items in the Gaza strip). We embraced in the streets of Tehran like sisters. Not in Islam Tony, but in the fight against your brand of extremism and prejudice.

    And today when the streets of London reverberate with cries of ‘Allahuakbar!’ and ‘Down Down Israel.’ Christians and Jews will join the thunderous cries of ‘Down Down Israel, marching against the ‘political’ Muslims you say you fear so much, That you would have me fear too if you could.

    Having spent a good deal of time in Palestine in recent years, certainly more than you and your the ‘peace envoy’ supposedly. It repulsed me to read your blatant swallowing of the Israeli narrative regarding Palestine and its people.

    The ‘conflict’ between Palestine and Israel is according to you all about religion and has nothing at all to do with the ethnic cleansing of the Arab population, nor the degredation of those who remain by their Israeli occupiers. You say that Arabs have and always will see ‘Jews’ as enemies. For God’s sake Tony do your history. And if you’re going to run a ‘Faith Foundation’ then better gen up on Islam 101 don’t you think? Did your pals in Tel Aviv forget to tell you how many thousands of Jews lived in Historic Palestine in harmony with their Arab neighbours before 1948? Do you really not know that even today tens of thousand of Jews reside contentedly in Iran?

    I’ve sat with dozens and dozens of Muslim families, those whose children have been burned by Israeli/US phosphorous bombs. Those who are still suffering hunger due to the Israel siege of Gaza. Those who have lived through the early days of sanctions against Iran when they needed food vouchers just to live. And every single Muslim in these suffering families has the same message ; ‘We don’t hate anyone for their race or their religion. We cannot hate Jews they are in our holy book it is against the teachings of the Koran.’ But Tony let me ask you this. Why should any people Muslim or otherwise have NO right to justice and NO right to challenge an evil being done to them and their children? or to those who share a set of common beliefs? Do you have no understanding of what it is like to live in Gaza? Under siege, attacked with chemical weapons, your children’s schools razed to the ground by Israeli missiles, your hospitals shelled, your electricity limited, your water undrinkable?

    Or do understand the ‘idea’ of the hardships suffered by millions in the Middle East as a direct result of your support for Israel and just think they deserve it?

    In your book you say you knew full well how many Beirut homes were flattened, how many civilians died in Lebanon in 2006. Yet you dismiss Lebanese rage about Israeli land theft of ‘Shebas Farm’ as being an irrelevance, about a ‘tiny’ amount of land. You cannot see it as part of an attack on Lebanese life as a whole, by it’s heavily armed aggressive neighbour. You see it as: ‘Israel is attacked. Israel strikes back.’ As if Israel lives in placid peace, being kindly to all around it in between these massacres.

    As other world leaders came out to demand Israel immediately cease its 2006 bombing raids on Lebanese cities, you stayed silent.

    ‘If I had condemned Israel’ you say ‘I would have been more than dishonest. It would have undermined my world view.’

    Your world view that Muslims are mad, bad, dangerous to know. A contagion to be contained. Your final chapter is a must read here in the Middle East Tony, congratulations! For it lays out the ‘them’ and ‘us’ agenda of your friends in Washington and Tel Aviv and in David Milliband, the ambassador of Zionism that he is.

    In the final chapter you say; ‘we need a religious counter attack’ against Islam. And by ‘Islam’ you mean the Al Quds rallies, the Palestinian intifada (based on an anti Apartheid struggle Tony, NOT religious bigotry), against every Arab who fails to raise a flag as the F16s rain on their homes and refugee camps and breaks out singing ‘Imagine all the people...’

    When you say ‘extremism’ must be ‘controlled and beaten’ you mean the message of solidarity shared by Non Muslims alike on the streets of London and across the world today, joining the Al Quds day protests.

    ‘Not only extremism must be defeated’ you say but ‘the narrative that has to be assailed.’

    Iran is indeed the place where Islamic tradition meets political action.

    But I’m not afraid here Tony. The people are kind, friendly, full of good humour.

    They are also highly aware of the history of this region, the wrongs perpetrated by Israel against Palestine and the political machinations of the US and the UK governments.

    And as your book remains highly sought after here in Tehran. It’s that and not Islam, that you and your Israeli chums should be afraid of because it reveals you in all your ignorant glory.

    Lauren Booth
    Broadcaster and Journalist
    Mail on Sunday
    Press TV, UK

    Tuesday, 31 August 2010

    Saturday, 21 August 2010

    Massive Israeli manipulation of US media exposed

    Files declassified in America have revealed covert public relations and lobbying activities of Israel in the US.

    The National Archive made the documents public following a Senate investigation. They suggest Israel has been trying to shape media coverage of issues it regards as important.

    You can download the files from the website of the Institute for Research on Middle Eastern policy. And we can cross to Washington now and talk to Grant F. Smith who is a director at that Institute.

    Sunday, 1 August 2010

    Salem-News.com deserves your support

    Salem-News.com exists after six years because it has a good mission, and a lot of drive. The site's founders left established mainstream media careers to start the nation's first independent internet news group in 2004.

    They have given everything possible to meet the demands of daily news for over half a decade and they need your help to continue. Appreciate that this site exists because of sheer devotion to the truth, which does not make a news group popular with those who control the purse strings of society.

    Please take four minutes of your time and watch the video produced by Salem-News.com to explain our urgent need for funding. Please add Salem-News.com to the list of agencies that you support and do what you can, if you can.

    In the video we review several of the areas that your support helps maintain; this includes coverage in places like Darfur, Mexico and Haiti, and also our regular coverage of veterans issues like the contamination of military bases with deadly toxic waste-the importance of that can not be overstated.

    Obstacles that have impacted advertising but at the same time driven viewership, include consistent coverage of medical marijuana with Dr Phil Leveque and Bonnie King, and our endless examination of the conflict between the people of Palestine and Israel.

    Military affairs and history are other strong points of Salem-News.com, with emphasis on Agent Orange contamination affecting American veterans and Vietnamese citizens, and Marine Corps history.

    Salem-News.com also pays very close attention to government corruption and we are in the middle of an expose revealing unexpected levels of racism within the Oregon Corrections Department.

    Viewer support is strongly needed and appreciated. Statistically, Salem-News.com is seeing an average of 60,000 of our stories opened every 24 hours. We have a real chance but we are struggling; and have too large of a mission to not keep moving forward.
    Thank you for your consideration.

    Watch the video and then visit this page if you can help: Support Salem-News.com

    Sunday, 25 July 2010

    Ban Israel from the London 2012 Olympics

    Please sign the petition now

    To:  International Olympics Committee
    Dear International Olympics Committee (IOC)

    We, the undersigned citizens of the world, call on the international Olympics Committee to rescind Israel's participation in the London 2012 Olympics.

    Israel's attack on a humanitarian aid fleet on Monday 31 May 2010, its murder of 9 human rights activists in international waters, and wounding many more, demonstrate that Israel rejects the structural tenets of our shared humanity, manifested in a global moral consensus and international law.

    Israel was established on the ruins of another country, Palestine. In 1948 more than half the population of Palestine were uprooted from their cities and villages, 400 of which were completely destroyed. The state of Israel has never allowed Palestinian refugees to return and today their number has reached 7 million, many of whom are still stateless, living in refugee camps in Palestine and other Arab countries

    Since its establishment the state of Israel has consistently violated international law. To date, it has defied 246 UN Security Council Resolutions. As a direct consequence, seven million Palestinians are excluded from the right to live on land internationally acknowledged to be theirs; and increasingly, they are being excluded from their right to any future at all as a nation. The 4 million Palestinians in the occupied territories have endured over 40 years of brutal occupation and denied even the most basic Human rights. The 1.4 million who remain in Israel are second class citizens.

    The daily brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank continues; Palestinian land continues to be stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For years now the state of Israel has been carrying out a slow genocide in the Gaza Strip, maintaining a tight blockade over its inhabitants and repeated bombing raids all of which are contrary to International Laws which prohibit collective punishment.

    The Israeli military used white phosphorus munitions in the 2008-2009 Gaza war. The IDF acknowledged it's use after the war ended.

    Several reports from human right groups during the war indicated that white phosphorus shells were being used by Israel in violation of international law. Human Rights Watch said shells exploded over populated civilian areas, including a crowded refugee camp, a UN compound where food was stored, and a United Nations school where civilians were seeking refuge.

    Human Rights Watch said its experts in the region had witnessed the use of white phosphorus. Kenneth Roth, the organisation's executive director, added: "This is a chemical compound that burns structures and burns people. It should not be used in populated areas."

    Amnesty International said a fact-finding team found "indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus" in crowded residential areas of Gaza City and elsewhere in the territory. Donatella Rovera, the head of an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza, said: "Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes."

    "Israel's policy on settlements is not only unlawful, it also impacts severely on the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the constructions taking place on occupied Palestinian land," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director.

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other prominent South Africans have likened the situation of the Palestinians to apartheid for which South Africa were banned from international sporting events including the Olympic Games.

    The challenge of apartheid was fought with the non-violent international response of a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Today Palestinian artists, trade unionists, teachers, writers, film-makers and non-governmental organisations have called for a comparable boycott of Israel, as offering another path to a just peace, saying, “ At a time when the international movement to isolate Israel is gaining ground in response to the escalation of Israel's violently colonial and racist policies, we respectfully urge conscientious organisations, sportsmen, academics, artists and intellectuals from around the world, including those who visit [or host Israeli's from] the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), to refrain from visiting [or hosting] Israel to participate in any event or encounter that is not explicitly dedicated to ending Israel's illegal occupation and other forms of oppression. Regardless of intentions, such visits only contribute to the prolongation of injustice by normalizing and thereby legitimizing it, and inadvertently support Israel's efforts to appear as a "normal" participant in the "civilized" world of sport, science, scholarship and art while at the same time practising a pernicious form of apartheid against Palestinians.” This call has been endorsed by some brave Israeli dissidents and many prominent international figures.

    Boycott is a tactic which allows people, as distinct from their elected governments, to apply pressure on those wielding power in an unjust way. It is directed not against people but against oppressive and unjust policies and regimes in order to bring about change. I would also remind you that Principle 2 of the Olympic Charter declares the principles of Olympism to “place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”. Also principle 5 which states "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion,
    politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement." Clearly the acts of genocide against Palestinians and the forcing out by the illegal expansion of the settlements is a violation of this principle. By your own words in Principle 6 "Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC." As Israel are not compliant how can they then participate under the current conditions that Palestinians are faced with? Particularly considering that "The name of an NOC must reflect the territorial extent and tradition of its country..." However many Israelis are living on disputed land and therefore Israeli athletes cannot be considered to be from the legitimate territorial extent of their country.

    Contrary to Olympic Charter bye-laws stating "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas" you will; by allowing Israel to participate and not taking a stand against their racist policies; be implicitly supporting war crimes, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and continued oppression of the Palestinian people, a people seeking to end the silence of the international community and achieve a just peace. The Israeli politicians and citizens see every visit to and from Israel as an act of support for their policies. Every cancellation is a reminder to them that all is not well and that there will be a price for the ongoing oppression and the indifference for rights of Palestinians.

    If you require more information about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories, organisations such as Amnesty International, the World Health Organisation and the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem have published detailed reports.

    We feel sure that, in the light of the information available, you would not wish to lend support – however indirect and implicit – to Israel’s policies, by allowing them to attend and participate in such a high profile event that aims to be “a force for good”.


    The Undersigned

    Thursday, 8 July 2010

    Report: Secret document affirms US-Israel nuclear partnership

    By Haaretz Service, Barak Ravid and Reuters


    According to Army Radio, the U.S. has reportedly pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity, as well as nuclear technology and other supplies.

    Israel's Army Radio reported on Wednesday that the United States has sent Israel a secret document committing to nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

    According to Army Radio, the U.S. has reportedly pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity, as well as nuclear technology and other supplies, despite the fact that Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Other countries have refused to cooperate with Israel on nuclear matters because it has not signed the NPT, and there has been increasing international pressure for Israel to be more transparent about its nuclear arsenal.

    Army Radio's diplomatic correspondent said the reported offer could put Israel on a par with India, another NPT holdout which is openly nuclear-armed but in 2008 secured a U.S.-led deal granting it civilian nuclear imports.

    During Tuesday's meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, the two leaders discussed the global challenge of nuclear proliferation and the need to strengthen the nonproliferation system.

    They also discussed calls for a conference on a nuclear-free Middle East, which was peoposed during the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) review conference in New York and which Netanyahu said he would not take part in because it intends to single out Israel.

    Obama informed Netanyahu that, as a co-sponsor charged with enabling the proposed conference, the United States will insist that such a conference have a broad agenda to include regional security issues, verification and compliance and discussion of all types of weapons of mass destruction.

    Obama emphasized the conference will only take place if all countries "feel confident that they can attend," and said that efforts to single out Israel would make the prospects of such a conference unlikely.

    The two leaders agreed to work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel at the IAEA General Conference in September.

    Obama emphasized that the U.S. will continue to work closely with Israel to ensure that arms control initiatives and policies do not detract from Israel’s security, and "support our common efforts to strengthen international peace and stability."

    Dan Meridor, Netanyahu's deputy prime minister in charge of nuclear affairs, said Obama's endorsement was not new but that its public expression - two months after Washington supported Egypt's proposal at a review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - was significant.

    Obama's statement "was without a doubt a special and significant text. It was important for us, and it was important for the region," Meridor said.

    Israel neither confirms nor denies having nuclear weapons under an "ambiguity" strategy billed as warding off foes while avoiding public provocations that can spark regional arms races.
    The official reticence, and its toleration in Washington, has long aggrieved many Arabs and Iranians - especially given U.S.-led pressure on Tehran to rein in its nuclear program.

    Saturday, 26 June 2010

    Demolishing Israel's lies about Gaza Freedom Flotilla: interview with ex-US Marine Kenneth O'Keefe

    Please spare a few minutes to watch the following three-part video – a recording of an interview with former US Marine Kenneth O'Keefe, to be broadcast on the BBC's "HARDtalk" programme on Monday 28 June 2010.

    Kenneth O'Keefe was one of the peace activists abroad the Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was attacked by Israeli commandos who murdered nine peace activists on the ship.

    In the interview, Mr O'Keefe eloquently, politely and calmly demolishes all the Israeli lies and justifications for the murder of the peace activists.

    You may watch  a recording of the interview on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here. Alternatively, you may watch the interview in three parts below.

    Part 1 of 3

    Part 2 of 3

    Part 3 of 3

    Friday, 18 June 2010

    Palestine activists frustrated by UK minister's stonewalling on flotilla murders

    From Friends of Al-Aqsa:

    Thirteen British peace activists from the Gaza flotilla met with Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt MP, at 11 a.m, today. The meeting was the first between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the group of activists, taking place almost two weeks after most activists returned to the UK following their ordeal.

    Others present at the meeting, which lasted 1 hour 10 minutes, included representatives from the Consular Directorates and FCO staff.

    Activists response to the meeting

    The activists described a sense of frustration at a press conference following the meeting, stating that the inadequate response from the FCO has been astounding and would not be witnessed if any other country in the world was the perpetrator. It can be construed as a lack of commitment to the safety of its nationals abroad.

    Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa observed: "Following this meeting, we feel heavily disheartened because we had faith that our government would do all it could for us, yet it appears that they allowed themselves to be bullied by Israel so that even the consulate staff could not visit some of us. In addition, the only way the real facts behind this attack will be made clear to the world is if a truly international investigation is launched, and this is something our government refuses to call for.

    "We will not allow the killing of 9 innocent men to be whitewashed by an Israeli investigation which will not consult the victims nor the Israeli attackers in order to make its findings. We will continue to call for the return of all evidential materials and an independent investigation, and we will put pressure on our government to take this line with Israel".

    For further comments, please contact Ismail Patel, iap@aqsa.org.uk

    Details of the meeting

    The activists presented an account of the Israeli attack on the Flotilla and the inadequate response from the British Consulate in Jerusalem, who failed to meet some of the activists at all.

    A number of requests were made by the activists, including:
    1. Immediate return of the three missing British passports which Israel failed to give back when the activists were released from prison.
    2. Return of all personal possessions, goods and property which were illegally confiscated from activists. After receiving legal advice the activists hold the view that their possessions were illegally appropriated and their rights are guaranteed by the Fourth Geneva Convention. An international statement concerning the legal consequences of the attack on the Flotilla, focusing on the War Crime of extensive appropriation of property, which has been compiled by Hickman Rose solicitors in conjunction with partners world-wide, was presented to the Minister.

    3. Return of possessions is to include all audio and photographic materials which documented the attack and corroborate the real version of events on May 31. 20 activists on board were journalists and all of their footage was appropriated. This footage will be essential for any international investigation.
    4. The British government to call for an international UN led inquiry into the attack on the Flotilla, as Israel's proposed enquiry falls far short of an adequate standard to ensure a true investigation.

    Mr Burt responded as follows:
    1. Promise to make a public call for an immediate return of the missing passports 'within days'.
    2. Undertake to call privately for Israel to return all possessions belonging to activists.
    3. The British government is willing to accept an enquiry by Israel into the attack on the Flotilla and will not call for an independent international enquiry.

    4. Despite the grave and serious nature of Israel's attack on the Flotilla, Mr Burt refused to facilitate a meeting between the activists and the Foreign Secretary William Hague MP.

    Thursday, 17 June 2010

    Israel’s new humanitarianism

    From Neve Gordon:

    Last week, Israel permitted the transport of jam, halva and shaving razors into Gaza. Since September 2007, goods entering Gaza had been limited to a ‘humanitarian minimum’ of approximately 70 items of foodstuffs and medicines (4000 items were allowed in before the blockade). During a visit to Gaza in February 2009, John Kerry discovered that Israel had banned pasta but not rice, because the latter was considered a necessity while the former was a luxury.

    After the flotilla fiasco and the widespread international condemnation that followed, it appears that Israel’s policy is changing and that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is actually willing to broaden its definition of humanitarianism to include jam and halva. It is even possible that pasta will soon be allowed into Gaza. Browsing through a partial list of banned items, provided by the Israeli human rights group Gisha, one can only speculate which items will be the next to be allowed to enter Gaza with the adoption of Israel’s new humanitarianism.

    Banned items

    Sunday, 13 June 2010

    Israel's medieval siege of Gaza

    From Never Before Campaign:

    The three year old siege on the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants is a testament to the Israeli regime's disregard of law, decency and morality. This siege amounts to collective punishment, an action outlawed by various conventions and humanitarian laws. This is not to mention the suffering and humanitarian crisis caused by this law. This siege has been disgracefully condoned by the "international community" and justified by the "free world" as a measure that safegurads the security of the Israeli regime.

    The same position was applied to the various humanitarian aid ships that were attacked and abducted in international waters, and the aid carried by those ships confiscated. The killing of nine Turkish activists on the the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May brought an abrupt end to international silence regarding the siege. It is unfortunate that the world needed to see the blood of those brave men to realize the brutality of the siege and of the besieger.

    Nevertheless, it is our duty to finish what the brave men and women of the Freedom Flotilla and the campaigns that preceded it. It is time to brieak the siege.

    Sunday, 6 June 2010

    George Galloway announces new convoys to break the siege of Gaza

    Five hundred vehicles and 60 ships to break the criminal siege of Gaza

    Viva Palestina founder George Galloway, speaking to a crowd of around 20,000 protesting outside the Israeli embassy in London, revealed the latest plan to bring about the end of the siege on Gaza.

    Two simultaneous convoys – one by land the other by sea – will set forth on SUNDAY 12 SEPTEMBER bound for Gaza. Viva Palestina, the International Committee to break the Siege on Gaza and any allies who will join us will organize the two convoys.

    The land convoy will leave from London and travel across Europe to Turkey, Syria and ultimately through the Rafah Gate into Gaza. Cooperation will be offered and sought with all relevant governments and agencies. It is expected the convoy will pick up vehicles and volunteers in each country through which it passes. The target is to enter Gaza with 500 vehicles.

    The sea convoy will travel around the Mediterranean gathering ships, cargo, volunteers from each country. The target is to enter Gaza with 60 ships.

    The aim will be to arrive on Gaza's frontiers at the same time. And to enter with the world's largest ever aid convoys. And to thereby render the siege null and void.

    Please get in touch if you need further information. Please also sign up to the Viva Palestina mailing list - http://vivapalestina.org/alert.htm

    Please pass this on to everyone you think might be interested in supporting the new convoy.

    Friday, 4 June 2010

    Gilad Atzmon on Israeli collective madness

    Gilad Atzmon, a British writer and musician who was born in Israel and served in the Israeli army, believes that the raid will lead the world to “see what Israel is all about”.

    “They are convinced that the more people they kill, the more people will be deterred to jeopardise what they regard as their security,” Atzmon told Russia Today (RT).

    Thursday, 3 June 2010

    Marbles, paint balls and nukes

    From: Greta Berlin

    The Israeli military has been busy spinning the story of their attack on a civilian convoy trying to deliver aid to the imprisoned people of Gaza. They've had a head start, sending out edited videos, posting supposed military footage of the passengers attacking them, saying that they confiscated weapons which turned out to be marbles, sling shots, kitchen knives and aluminum chairs.

    But they can't spin for much longer. Video footage from dozens of people is beginning to surface about what really happened. Al-Jazeera has posted their coverage as gun shots sound in the background, speakers beg the passengers to go below and a white flag is set out for the paramilitary groups.

    More will come out as passengers are released. We already know that Israel shot the captain of the Marmara and the European Campaign boat, maybe hoping that we would no longer be able to hire captains. Several activists have spoken to their consulates and told of being kicked, beaten, dragged along the ground, tear gassed and bags thrown over their heads.

    Knowing that video of this vicious attack in international waters was going to surface, Captain Aria Shaliker of the Israel Defence Forces, who was part of the operation on Monday [31 May], said the commandoes began the raids armed with paint ball guns. "I was, myself, on one of the boats, the Israeli boats, approaching the flotilla," he told the BBC's “Today” programme. "It is true that the Israeli commando unit ... came on board with paint ball weapons ... in order to disperse people.” h said.

    No mention of paint-stained clothing.

    As Israel's hysteria mounts, "they now claim “self-defence” in attacking ships in international waters ... killing nine.  Israel informed the US and Britain that the convoy was ferrying stolen nuclear weapons that would be used for a terrorist attack on Israel.  The “stolen nukes” have been in Israel for 18 years while the US has spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives looking for them. Today nine more died.

    The world is watching a county imploding, having a massive nervous breakdown in full view. It's tragic that thousands of Palestinians have died and nine human rights workers lost their lives [on 31 May].

    Wednesday, 2 June 2010

    Life must go on – Jazza Festival for Free Gaza

    From Gilad Atzmon:

    Following Israel's maritime slaughter of defenceless and heroic humanitarian activists, Sarah Gillespie and I will be donating our earnings from this week's concerts at Pizza Express Jazz Club (3-5 June), to the Free Gaza organization.

    The victims of the massacre will not be the last to spill their blood for Palestine, but they will never be forgotten.

    I also use this opportunity to announce that Sarah and myself together with Free Gaza are putting together a massive music festival  in support of Free Palestine. The “Jazza Festival” will take place in London in October. Some major artists are already lined up.

    In case the Israelis do not understand it yet. Humanism  will prevail!!!

    To book a seat for Sarah's  concert (3 June) or my concerts (4-5 June), call the following number:  0845 6027 017

    A short documentary by Yiorgos Vondiklaris about Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Express at the time of the 2009 massacre in Gaza.

    Monday, 31 May 2010

    Gaza aid convoy killings: “Those responsible must be held criminally accountable” - UN expert


    GENEVA – The UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, urged Monday [ 31 May] the international community to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of some 16 unarmed peace activist, when Israeli armed commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to Gaza.

    “Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas,” Mr. Falk said. “It is essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts.”

    There are confirmed reports of lethal interference by Israeli military units on the high seas with the Freedom Flotilla of six ships carrying some 10,000 tons of medicine, food, and building materials to the civilian population of Gaza. Preliminary reports suggest as many as 16 unarmed activists were killed, and dozens more wounded.

    “This peaceful humanitarian initiative by citizens from 50 countries is an urgent response to the continuation of an unlawful blockade that has been maintained for almost three years causing great physical and mental harm to the whole of the 1.5 million people entrapped within Gaza,” the UN independent expert said. “Such a massive form of collective punishment is a crime against humanity, as well as a gross violation of the prohibition on collective punishment in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

    “As Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, familiar with the suffering of the people of Gaza, I find this latest instance of Israeli military lawlessness to create a situation of regional and global emergency. Unless prompt and decisive action is taken to challenge the Israeli approach to Gaza all of us will be complicit in criminal policies that are challenging the survival of an entire beleaguered community.”

    Mr. Falk urged the world community “to take urgent action in response to this flagrant flouting of international law. It is time to insist on the end of the blockade of Gaza. The worldwide campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel is now a moral and political imperative, and needs to be supported and strengthened everywhere.”


    Learn more about the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967:

    Israel's Gush Shalom denounces Israel's murder of aid activists on the high seas

    Press Release 05/31/2010
    Uri Avnery: this night a crime was perpetrated in the middle of the sea, by order of the government of Israel and the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] Command
    A warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and humanitarian aid activists
    It is a crazy thing that only a government that crossed all red lines can do
    "Only a crazy government that has lost all restraint and all connection to reality could do something like that - consider ships carrying humanitarian aid and peace activists from around the world as an enemy and send massive military force to international waters to attack them, shoot and kill.

    "No one in the world will believe the lies and excuses which the government and army spokesmen come up with," said former Knesset member Uri Avnery of the Gush Shalom movement...

    Greta Berlin, the spokeswoman for the flotilla organizers located in Cyprus, told Gush Shalom activists that the Israeli commandos landed by helicopter on the boats and immediately opened fire.

    This is a day of disgrace to the State of Israel, a day of anxiety in which we discover that our future was entrusted to a bunch of trigger-happy people without any responsibility. This day is a day of disgrace and madness and stupidity without limit, the day the Israeli government took care to blacken the name of the country in the world, adding convincing evidence of aggressiveness and brutality to Israel's already bad international image, discouraging and distancing the few remaining friends.

    Indeed, today a provocation took place off the coast of Gaza - but the provocateurs were not the peace activists invited by the Palestinians and seeking to reach Gaza. The provocation was carried out by navy ships commandos at the bidding of the Israeli government, blocking the way of the aid boats and using deadly force.

    It is time to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, which causes severe suffering to its residents. Today the Israeli government ripped the mask of its face with its own hands and exposed the fact that Israel did not "disengage" from Gaza. Real disengagement from the area does not go together with blocking the access to it or sending soldiers to shoot and kill and wound those who try to get there.

    The State of Israel promised in the Oslo Accords 17 years ago to enable and encourage the establishment of a deep water port in Gaza, through which Palestinians could import and export freely to develop their economy. It's time to realize this commitment and open the Port of Gaza. Only after the Gaza port will be open to free and undisturbed movement, just like the Ashdod and Haifa ports, will Israel really have disengaged from the Gaza Strip. Until then, the world will continue - and rightly so - to consider the Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation and the State of Israel as responsible for the fate of the people living there.

    Contact: Uri Avnery 0505-306449
    Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesman 03-5565804 or 054-2340749
    Coalition Against the Siege Yacov - 050-5733276, 09-7670801, Sebastian -050-6846056

    Greta Berlin  spokeswoman for flotilla organizers

    Sunday, 30 May 2010

    Irish MPs disappointed as Cypriot authorities prevent passage to Free Gaza Flotilla

    Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh, and the two other Oireachtas members, Chris Andrews TD and Senator Mark Daly, today expressed disappointment at the interference by the Cypriot authorities who prevented the delegation of parliamentarians from leaving the island join the Free Gaza flotilla.

    The Cypriot authorities refused to allow the delegation to board boats which were chartered to ferry them to the international flotilla, which is still en route to Gaza with humanitarian aid. The police used helicopters, plainclothes policemen, police boats and port security throughout the day to prevent the group from embarking to rendezvous with the flotilla which was in international waters.

    The Turkish authorities on the island also didn’t seem to be willing to facilitate attempts to leave the island late on Friday evening [28 May] after the group had decided that they would leave from Turkish controlled Famagusta port.

    With no prospect of joining the flotilla the Irish Oireachtas delegation were forced to return home, while wishing good luck to the flotilla as it headed to the Palestinian port city of Gaza.

    The Irish parliamentarians said they were bitterly disappointed that the Cypriot authorities caved in to Israeli pressure, and blocked the other delegation members passage to the siege-breaking flotilla.

    Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said: “It is disgraceful that any European country should be seen to act against a humanitarian convoy, which has been called for by UN officials and others to relieve the effects of years of siege by Israel, especially considering the murderous attack on the citizens when Operation Cast Lead left over a thousand dead and the city in ruins.”

    Deputy Ó Snodaigh further wished his friends and colleagues who are on board ships in the flotilla good luck and safe journey and said: “I call on the Irish government
    and all European governments to do all in their power to protect the flotilla and those on board from the threatened attack by the Israeli Defence Forces.

    “I reiterate my call for greater action by the all governments to lift the siege of the Palestinian region of Gaza and the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the region because of the siege.”

    Note: Some of the delegation in Cyprus succeeded in leaving Famagusta late on Saturday on one of the Free Gaza boats which had earlier been forced to withdraw from the flotilla because of mechanical problems.

    Monday, 17 May 2010

    Boycott Israel: list of products from settlements in occupied territories

    Israel steals weapons-grade uranium from United States

    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu abruptly cancelled his plans to attend President Barack Obama’s nuclear security of 12-13 April, “creating an embarrassing distraction on the eve of a high-profile meeting the White House has sought to carefully choreograph”, according to Politico.

    “An Israeli official confirmed Netanyahu’s decision not to attend, which was revealed by Israeli media outlets” on the afternoon of 8 April, just four days before the summit was due to start.

    According to Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan,

    “... Netanyahu’s staff said he decided not to come because reports had reached the prime minister that Arab states attending the summit would attempt to “embarrass” Israel over its defiance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its construction hundreds of nuclear warheads. Instead, deputy PM Dan Meridor will attend. Israel’s nuclear arsenal was a primary impetus to the Iraqi nuclear research program in the 1980s, which in turn alarmed Iran and sparked Tehran’s interest in acquiring at least the knowledge of how to enrich uranium. That is, Israel (and its enablers, France and Britain) kicked off the present nuclear crisis in the region, and Arab and Muslim states in attendance would be unlikely to allow Netanyahu to forget it...

    “Thus, some observers believe that Netanyahu is playing hooky largely to avoid more pressure to take steps to restart peace negotiations. There are even rumors that Washington might put forward its own peace plan and then attempt to twist the arms of the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to it, and some observers suspect that Netanyahu was trying to avoid being cornered in that way.

    “But there is another possible explanation for Netanyahu staying away from a summit on nuclear security issues in Washington. It is that the Israeli prime minister is protesting a new White House policy of refusing visas to Israeli scientists, engineers and technicians who work at the Dimona Reactor/ nuclear bomb factory. Up until recently they had been free to attend technical and scientific conferences and pursue advanced classes at US universities. The visa denials were reported in the Israeli newspaper Maariv by Uri Binder on Wednesday April 7: “Nuclear Reactor Workers Not Wanted in United States.” It was translated by the USG Open Source Center. The article reports that Israeli workers at the Nuclear Research Center Negev (NRCN) in Dimona are complaining bitterly at the humiliation of being excluded from the US, saying the turn-downs are an “offense” against them “and their families.” (???) Moreover, the Dimona bomb plant is suddenly finding it difficult to import technical components and equipment from the United States. The restrictions, they say, are unprecedented. They also claim a double standard, alleging that the Obama administration is being “lenient” toward Iran.

    “In fact, Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is at the moment largely in compliance with it, has no nuclear arsenal, and does not even have a nuclear weapons program. (The treaty allows countries to enrich uranium for fuel, which is all that Iran is known to be doing). Yet the US has an extensive regime of economic sanctions on Iran, along with UN Security Council sanctions, both of which Obama is attempting to ratchet up. In contrast, Israel is actively constructing more and more nuclear warheads, which it is stockpiling, and which its leaders occasionally brandish at other Middle Eastern states. The Israeli arsenal, in turn, spurs a Middle East arms race...

    “Obama appears to have a nuclear strategy that deploys arsenal reduction among the great powers as a platform on which to pursue non-proliferation and perhaps even the roll-back of some existing nuclear stockpiles. As with Israel’s stubborn insistence on continuing to steal Palestinian land and to blockade the Gazans– which ensures continued violence– so its rogue nuclear operation is ultimately a threat to the international security of the United States.

    “The Israeli scientists at Dimona have it backwards. It is they who are providing a justification to Iran and giving it a motivation to close the fuel cycle and have at least nuclear latency or the ‘Japan option,’ as a way of countering Israel’s policy in the region.”

    In the meantime, we learn that have all along been busy weapons-grade uranium from the US. See this document, published courtesy of the Israel Lobby Archive.

    Israeli nuclear theft from USA - formerly classified document

    Monday, 10 May 2010

    Dear Ms Atwood, I regret to inform you that you have failed the lie detector test

    From Roger Tucker:

    By going to Israel to accept the Dan David Prize, you have chosen to go over to the Dark Side. If you do make the trip, there is no turning back. Please consider well what people who have appreciated your literary work and heretofore took seriously your vaunted support for human rights have to say.

    I have copied below some of their comments from emails that have been circulating.

    First, here is an exchange of letters between Atwood and Antoine Raffoul:
    Dear Mr Raffoul,

    Since the Dan David Prize has been announced and I have accepted it. I have received several letters from different groups asking me to reverse my acceptance and boycott this event. I believe that Amitav Ghosh, with whom the prize is shared, has also begun to receive such letters. He and I have been chosen to receive the Dan David Prize for our literary work-work that is said to depict the twentieth century from the vantage point of our respective countries.

    I sympathize with the very bad conditions the people of Gaza are living through due to the blockade, the military actions, and the Egyptian and Israeli walls. Everyone in the world hopes that the two sides involved will give up their inflexible positions and sit down at the negotiating table immediately and work out a settlement that would help the ordinary people who are suffering. The world wants to see fair play and humane behaviour, and it wants that more the longer the present situation continues and the worse the conditions become.

    However, the Dan David Prize is a cultural event. It is not, as has been erroneously stated, an "Israeli" prize from the State of Israel, nor is it a prize "from Tel Aviv University," but one founded and funded by an individual, just as the Griffin Prizes in Canada are. To boycott an individual simply because of the country he or she lives in would set a very dangerous precedent. And to boycott a discussion of literature such as the one proposed would be to take the view that literature is always and only some kind of tool of the nation that produces it -- a view I strongly reject, just as I reject the view that any book written by a woman is produced by some homogeneous substance called "women." Books are written by individuals.

    Another dangerous precedent is the idea of a cultural boycott. Even those strongly endorsing a financial boycott, such as www.artistespourlapaix.org, Artists For Peace, reject cultural boycotts, which theysee as a form of censorship. (See their December 22 posting.) Indeed, such boycotts serve no good purpose if one of the hopes for the future is that peace and normal exchanges will be restored. PEN International, an organization of which I am a Vice President, is in favour of continuing dialogue that crosses borders of all kinds. In this situation, threats to open discussion come from both sides of the wall: consider this report from IFEX:

    I realize that I am caught in a propaganda war between two desperate sides in a tragic and unequal conflict. I also realize that, no matter what I do, some people are going to disagree with my decision and attack me for it. That being the case, I have chosen to visit, to speak with a variety of people, and - as much as is possible -- to see for myself, as I have done in other times and other countries many times before. After that, I will write my own Open Letter - something that I would otherwise be unable to do.

    With respect,
    Margaret Atwood

    Dear Ms Atwood,

    I am truly grateful for your response to my email which urges you to renounce the Dan David Prize 2010. May I be allowed a response to your kind email in order that I may shed light on some key statements you made about the Dan David Prize.

    First of all, the letters and emails you received from those urging you to reject the Prize, were not meant to put you in a situation where, as you said, you feel "caught in a propaganda war between two desperate sides in a tragic and unequal conflict. I also realize that, no matter what I do, some people are going to disagree with my decision and attack me for it".

    The nature of this world we live in is that we are not only private individuals living in a private shell, but also members of a world society built on the principles of human rights and the rule of international law.
    Some of us attain positions of importance, like yourself, which reinforce and protect these principles for future generations. For that, the world should hopefully be a better place. So you should not be caught in the middle of a conflict, but rather, become a contributor to its resolution.

    The Palestine/Israel conflict is a tragic one and we are all part of it, directly or indirectly. It is tragic because one nation, Israel, chooses to occupy and de-humanize millions of Palestinians living under the worst occupation in modern history. You eloquently wrote that you "sympathize with the very bad conditions the people of Gaza are living through due to the blockade, the military actions, and the Egyptian and Israeli walls. Everyone in the world hopes that the two sides involved will give up their inflexible positions and sit down at the negotiating table immediately and work out a settlement that would help the ordinary people who are suffering. The world wants to see fair play." I totally agree with you, but it is a fact that "the world" you speak about is precisely the world we all belong to as individuals, as groups and as rich and civilized societies. You and millions of others, would have an opinion to make about this world. We live on one planet and have witnessed, unfortunately, many wars in our lifetime and we need to avoid similar ones in the future and to allow next generations to live in peace and harmony.

    You go on to state that "the Dan David Prize is a cultural event. It is not, as has been erroneously stated, an "Israeli" prize from the State of Israel, nor is it a prize 'from Tel Aviv University,' but one founded and funded by an individual [Dan David]". It may not be a prize from the State of Israel itself, but nor is it a prize from an individual. This prize and the event are the brainchild of Dan David, founder of the Dan David Foundation which is an enterprise headquartered at Tel Aviv University and funded with a $100 million donation from him. Dan David himself holds the title of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa from Tel Aviv University and is a member of the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University. The Dan David Prize is bestowed on its recipients in the presence of Israeli government officials (last year it was Israeli President Shimon Peres when the Prize was awarded to Tony Blair - who left a shameful legacy in Iraq).

    Dan David is not a simple individual but an important one for Israel. According to a detailed report in Haaretz newspaper in November 2007, Dan David is portrayed as an important philanthropist, more for the State of Israel than for the world. He may not be a household name there but his presence is felt everywhere. According to the report, "David owns 90% of the world automatic photo booth, and all the booths in every mall in Israel". The Dan David Foundation is also engaged in myriad philanthropic projects in fields as varied as archaeology, medicine, and film.

    Your portrayal of Dan David as "an individual" underestimates his real position and power. Despite his upbringing as a simple but smart child in Bucharest where he was born in 1920, Dan David, according to the report, "was active in various movements and became active in Zionism following his experiences in the Second World War". He has been expanding his activities and "donates more to charity in Israel than to business". The report continues, "[at]16 he joined a Zionist youth movement and helped organize aliyah from Romania [to Israel], where he continued to live". Later, after the Romanian authorities allowed him to leave, "he went to relatives in Paris and in August 1960 he, his mother and aunts sailed on the Theodor Herzl to Israel. They lived in Herzliya and later moved to Tel Aviv... [He] now insists that he is an Israeli".

    One cannot but admire Dan David's business acumen and success. But he is certainly not 'anybody' or any 'individual'.

    Finally, you argue that "to boycott an individual simply because of the country he or she lives in would set a very dangerous precedent. Another dangerous precedent is the idea of a cultural boycott". It so happens that the country in question here is the State of Israel which is conducting daily military activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa. Its institutions whether, cultural, educational, industrial, scientific, judicial, agricultural or military, are part and parcel of the political institution of the State and harbour activities in tune with the policies of the State, working hand in hand to enforce the policies of an illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

    Thank God you are not 'any individual'. You are Margaret Atwood. You have an important voice in the literary world. You can have a stronger voice in the humanitarian one. We urge you to make a stand, by rejecting the Dan David Prize, or at the least in the body of your forthcoming Open Letter.

    Respectfully yours,
    Antoine Raffoul
    Coordinator, 1948: Lest We Forget
    Email excerpts: 
    Ms Atwood, I deplore your decision to accept a prize that should not be accepted by any humanitarian. I deplore that you did not heed the Gazan students' searing and articulate plea to you of more than a month ago. I deplore that you continued to throw justice and a right course of action to the winds in your rejection of Mr. Raffoul's reasoned appeal. I am particularly disturbed by your characterization of Zionist Israel's six-decade program of cleansing the Holy Land of the Palestinians in terms of "...two desperate sides in a tragic and unequal conflict." Ms Atwood: the Zionists controlling Israel are not desperate. They are criminally psychotic...
    It is one thing to hold to noble beliefs, even very strong and passionate ones. It is quite another to translate one's beliefs into actions at those times when History offers one a chance to participate in an important way. It is only when we translate our beliefs into action that we can claim that our beliefs, however passionately we may hold them, are worthy of being considered convictions. Today people all over the world are reconsidering their opinions of you. The Internet is droning with sadness, and worse, with the bitterness of betrayal, this morning as people who long for an opportunity to 'make a difference' themselves have seen that someone they considered as one of their own, someone who has passionately implored us, in all the body of her work, to seek justice, has failed to answer History's call.. You had a chance to make a difference, Ms Atwood. You had a chance to prove that your beliefs are deserving of being considered convictions. You had a chance to represent those who have been inspired by your work. But you chose not to answer this call. Some are very angry; others merely disillusioned, but rest assured that a large number of people all over this world who once admired you, and your work, now see you in a much different light.

    Writers who have access to publishing outlets should try to bring Atwood's betrayal into the public consciousness. It really is a striking story line. A writer who has built a career on appeals for human justice now goes to Tel Aviv to accept laurels, ignoring the monstrously inhuman injustice inflicted by that nation on innocent people?

    While concerned citizens around the world are expressing their shock and dismay at your acceptance of this 'literary' award, I didn't expect anything else from you. Unlike those who buy your books and place you on a pedestal, I have never bought your books nor placed you anywhere. And whereas your fans will be shocked by this admission, I always trust my intuition. And I've been proven correct by none other than yourself. You, Ms Atwood, do not have a moral or social conscience, and a moral and social conscience is much more important than any award. You cannot buy a moral and social conscience. You either have it or you don't. You clearly don't.

    Palestine is the ultimate lie-detector.” No truer words were ever spoken. This will be a dark spot on Atwood's career that will remain long after she and we are gone.
    From a Canadian activist and associate editor of an alternate-press internet site:
    Despite everything she's written and received acclaim for, her acceptance of this “award” will forever show her in the eyes of people who give a damn about what happens to all of humankind, as solely lacking a moral conscience. Her efforts to excuse accepting the award are worse than accepting it. There are certain things that one cannot justify. In her case, this is one of them, and no amount of blather from her will ever justify this action on her part. I'm sickened by her actions, but, then, I never was a fan which makes me a lot more intuitive than I thought. ... She's "supposed" to be a "social" activist? One could laugh in derision if one had a mind to. Courage is obviously one characteristic she doesn't have -- at least not when it comes to doing the right thing. Of course, I'm sure the money played a role as well -- doesn't it always in those circumstances? Presenting these "awards" is just another way of ensuring silence with respect to the terrorist state and its supporters elsewhere. Another Canadian "icon" -- gutless at best.
    From an Israeli Palestinian MD and author:
    Your attempts to beat some sense into Atwood's head is admirable. I am surprised that Amitav Ghosh, Atwood's partner in this case of moral bribery, seems to be getting off scot free. The man can be held accountable on grounds of defaulting on the legacy of Gandhi, if on no other ground. He doesn't even have the excuse of having grown up under the blinding glow of the West's partiality to Zionism. He should not be spared our anger and dismay. Let us copy him in our mail to Atwood. I know he was properly warned in advance of accepting his half million.
    From an activist and internet investigative journalist residing in New Mexico:
    Atwood's excuses are worse than the actual acceptance of the award. In particular, her vile remarks about the "inflexible positions" held by both sides. Indeed, the Palestinian people refuse to bend on their demand that they receive justice and that Israel abide by international law. How terrible of them to be so "inflexible." Likewise, the "propoganda war" she feels trapped within is a completely one sided war—62 years (plus) of lies and deceptions from the Zionists. Poor Ms Atwood. How does she hold up under the pressure? It must be tough to be a multimillionaire celebrity faced with such gut wrenching decisions. Disgusting. She demonstrates not only her lack of compassion but also the depths of her ignorance. On a positive note, I sent out a notice recently about Gil Scott Heron having cancelled his upcoming concert in Tel Aviv. Good for him. Now if Joan Armatrading and Bob Dylan would demonstrate as much integrity. Bob Dylan, for effing sake!
    From a Palestinian Christian residing in beleaguered East Jerusalem (1948 refugee from West Jerusalem); retired YWCA executive and private-school principal:
    Thank you all for your input. We just felt the solidarity of writers through PALFEST which took place during this last week. Maybe they can help Ms Atwood see the light. Indeed how disappointing that a writer of her status cannot perceive the difference between the oppressed and the oppressor.
    From an activist and blogger residing in Mexico:
    I posted the EI article on my site the following day. I didn't post her specious, self-serving and infuriating response. It's the So. African Jewish writers who fought apartheid like Nadine Gordimer who really get my goat - she trekked to Israel too. I don't even want to mention Leonard Cohen - I was one of many who wrote him with a plea not to give his concert, but I guess the tribal pull was too great. Well, these things take time. In a few years no one but zealots will go, if there's still an Israel then. Our job is to bring about Israel's demise as soon as possible, peacefully, before those psychopaths blow up the world.
    From an Irish activist and classical-music composer, which I feel compelled to quote in full:
    I realise that I am too late to contribute to the messages calling upon you not to accept the Dan David Prize. There is an ironic reason for this: I have admired your fiction, poetry and ethical stance for so long that it never entered my head that you could possibly perpetrate such a betrayal. Although I have long been convinced that the issue of Palestine is the ultimate lie-detector, with residual naivety I believed that your commitment to truth would have enabled you to see through the tissue of lies that the Zionists and their defenders have woven in order to obfuscate a simple issue of oppression and dispossession.

    But perhaps even more disheartening is the tissue of disingenuous evasions that you yourself have woven in order to disguise the ethical irresponsibility of having accepted this award. You describe the idea of a cultural boycott as "a dangerous precendent" and as "a form of censorship", citing an organisation called Les artistes pour la paix which, on 22nd December 2009, expressed its support for the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions called for by Palestinian civil society, but made an exception for artists because the supposed "contribution of artists and intellectuals is essential to the dissemination of the message of Peace...”

    I am myself a professional composer of classical music, and down the years have come to despair of the lazy and self-serving rationalisations artists dream up in order to exempt themselves from ordinary people's struggle for justice. In this context it should be stressed that being "for peace" in Israel/Palestine is inadequate if one is not simultaneously "for justice". Given that the Palestinian call for BDS does not make an exemption for artists and that there is a major Palestinian civil society organisation entirely dedicated to promoting the cultural boycott (www.pacbi.org), western artists adopting the contrary position must be aware that they are rejecting a call emanating from those whose oppression is maintained with the help of our own western governments - the Harper administration in Canada being an egregious example. Such artists must be prepared to face the suspicion that their own career interests have blinded them into sublimating the iniquity of their role when they thus deny the victim's will. This denial adds an unpalatable note of self-pity to your attempted appropriation for yourself of the role of victim ("no matter what I do, some people are going to disagree...") as you accept this lucrative Prize.

    The shibboleth of censorship plays a sorry role in this charade. Censorship is indeed one of the central tactics of Zionism, both within the Israeli state and in the USA and many European countries where open support for the Palestinian cause and just criticism of Israel is all but excluded from the mainstream media and can constitute professional suicide in many walks of life. Do you believe that the cultural boycott which played a small but significant role in helping to end Apartheid in South Africa constituted "censorship" and therefore should not have been imposed? It is censorship of the most virulent type when the Israeli authorities prevent (as often happens) a Palestinian writer from travelling abroad to read his/her work, or when Israeli police intervene to shut down a Palestinian literary festival in East Jerusalem.

    You might respond that "two wrongs don't make a right", but the truth is that culture is not a sacred realm floating far above the tribulations of the real world, and that artists in Israel and elsewhere are all too often complicit in the crimes of their governments - either by their silence, or by their willingness to allow their work and their presence to be appropriated by oppressive states. The Israeli foreign ministry has explicitly advocated employing culture as propaganda, a tactic that applies both to Israeli artists travelling abroad and to visiting artists, whose presence will inevitably be exploited as evidence of Israel's "normality" and "acceptability" - although in reality Israel is a racist, apartheid state that is both abnormal and unacceptable.

    In asking writers and other artists not to accept invitations to Israel or awards from the Israeli establishment, PACBI and other defenders of Palestinian rights are asking such artists voluntarily to reject their own exploitation by the Israeli state. To lend oneself to such exploitation despite such a heartfelt plea, and to do so in the name of rejecting "censorship", is in my view to be guilty of self-seeking moral blindness.
    Open letter, Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel: Defying appeal from Gaza students, Atwood set to accept Israeli prize:
    One last word. The cultural boycott of Israel is probably the most important aspect of the BDS campaign because it affects the perceptions and awareness of a great many people who otherwise are passive recipients of the ubiquitous propaganda spewed forth by the Zionist owned and/or controlled mainstream media and the bought and paid for politicians. But they are passionate about their artists, so when one of them declines an invitation to speak, receive an award or perform in Israel it gets their attention and adds significantly to the growing awareness of the nature of the fascist State of Israel and the dangers it poses not only to the Palestinians but to all of humanity.
     Ms Atwood can be reached through her publisher via email. Do send her a note and let her know how you feel.