On Wednesday 5 June the Euro U 21′s football tournament opens in Israel. It’s the second biggest European tournament, England have a real chance of winning it, it’s the greatest sporting event Israel has ever hosted. And at Philosophy Football we’re not celebrating. Why?
Because no journalists question why Israel is hosting a European tournament. Every other country in that region plays football in the Asian Confederation but none will have any sporting ties with Israel. For one reason only, its brutally lethal mistreatment of Palestine.
In the 1970s Apartheid South Africa was isolated by a sporting boycott. Israel is every bit as discriminatory and murderous in its mistreatment of Palestinians as Apartheid South Africa’s mistreatment of its black majority. Israel cannot enjoy the normality of sporting and cultural relations until this is put right.
To mark the opening of the tournament, Philosophy Football launches as an alternative our ‘Boycott Apartheid Israel’ T-shirt. To the point, wear it with pride in Palestinian football; keep up with Palestinan football here.
One of the great Zionist lies is that Israel “made the desert bloom”. It didn’t. Palestine was doing just fine til Israel came along. But it isn’t now. Despite Ramallah getting more rainfall per year than London, water supplies are a real problem in occupied Palestine. Except for one group: the Israelis, and the illegal settlers. Israel steals vast quantities of water from Palestine, ensuring that the Palestinians are left with a pittance.
Not just that – Israel long ago made it illegal for Palestinians to sink wells, or to take water from Israeli wells. Palestinians are regularly shot, attacked and imprisoned simply for trying to get water.
The graphic below, from the excellent Visualising Palestine, describes the problem. Please feel free to share it – and next time a supporter of Israel tells you it’s a democratic, peaceful state, remind them: This is apartheid. Different roads for Jews. Military trials for Palestinians – in fact a completely different set of laws applied to Palestinians. Water denied to the Palestinians. “Skunk water” sprayed over Palestinian homes and farms. And, in Gaza, the deliberate total destruction of the sewer system, so the Gaza coastline stinks like a sewer and presents serious health risks to the population. This was carried out by Israel as a parting gift when it withdrew from Gaza and sealed its population in (along with massive destruction of Palestinian graves by IDF soldiers).
Excellent graphic from Visualising Palestine showing how the Nakba wasn’t a single event, but is ongoing – Palestinian land is still being stolen by Israel. Palestinians are right now being forced into exile.
Visualising Palestine encourages people to share these graphics – please feel free to download it and share. Click the image for a full-size, high-quality version
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian children it arrests amounts to torture. Child prisoners are arbitrarily detained and held for long periods, in a parallel military justice system that treats them far more harshly than Israeli child prisoners are treated. Once again, this is the hallmark of apartheid.
The Oslo Accords weren’t a failure for Israel — they served as a fig leaf to consolidate and deepen its control over Palestinian life
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli government. Officially known as the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, the Oslo Accords were firmly ensconced in the framework of the two-state solution, heralding “an end to decades of confrontation and conflict,” the recognition of “mutual legitimate and political rights,” and the aim of achieving “peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and … a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.”
Its supporters claimed that under Oslo, Israel would gradually relinquish control over territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the newly established Palestinian Authority (PA) eventually forming an independent state there. The negotiations process, and subsequent agreements between the PLO and Israel, instead paved the way for the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian Authority, which now rules over an estimated 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank, has become the key architect of Palestinian political strategy. Its institutions draw international legitimacy from Oslo, and its avowed goal of “building an independent Palestinian state” remains grounded in the same framework. The incessant calls for a return to negotiations — made by US and European leaders on an almost daily basis — harken back to the principles laid down in September 1993.
Two decades on, it is now common to hear Oslo described as a “failure” due to the ongoing reality of Israeli occupation. The problem with this assessment is that it confuses the stated goals of Oslo with its real aims. From the perspective of the Israeli government, the aim of Oslo was not to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or to address the substantive issues of Palestinian dispossession, but something much more functional. By creating the perception that negotiations would lead to some kind of “peace,” Israel was able to portray its intentions as those of a partner rather than an enemy of Palestinian sovereignty. Click to continue reading →
This post was originally published in November 2006. We repost it here as part of our Palestine Week posts, marking the 65th anniversary of the Nakba.
The accusation that Israel is an apartheid state is not one of political rhetoric. It is an accurate use of the definition of apartheid, which is parallel social systems in the same land for different ethnic groups.
Let us look at roads in the occupied territories; here we see the construction of an entirely separate infrastructure of road building to connect the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank with Israel and the illegally annexed city of East Jerusalem. Click to continue reading →
This post was originally published in January 2007. We repost it here as part of our Palestine Week posts, marking the 65th anniversary of the Nakba.
The Christian religion was (quite literally) born in Palestine. This is extremely important both for the cultural identity and economy of the country, but persecution by the Zionists has led many Christians to leave for other lands. Famous Palestinians of Christian descent include Edward Said and George Habash.
Religious tourism, especially to East Jerusalem and Bethlehem is vital for the Palestinian economy, not only for hotels and restaurants, but also for the sale of handicraft religious souvenirs (the picture shows olive wood crosses being made in a small factory in Bethlehem).
The call by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for Anglicans to visit Bethlehem should be widely publicised, both for the economic benefit, but also so that Christians can bear witness to the destruction of Christian communities by the Israeli occupation. The British Foreign Office acts as a firm friend of Zionism by continuing to advise against travel to the West Bank, despite the fact that tourism to Palestine is safer than visiting Florida. The Foreign office advice often includes details of alleged security concerns that are several months out of date. The practical impact is that most travel insurance policies always exclude travel to areas where a Foreign Office caution is in place, which severely deters many travellers. (Write to your MP about this!) Click to continue reading →
Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children should be enough to convince its supporters that something is badly wrong. The utterly disgraceful way children are treated – arrested for the smallest of crimes, tried as adults in military courts, often made to sign confessions in Hebrew (often after having been left in solitary confinement with no visits from parents or lawyers), and then given sentences out of all proportion to any of those that would be given to Israeli children – should be an international scandal. The truth can be too much to bear, perhaps. If you support Israel, you are supporting the arbitrary detention and torture of children, full stop.
The truth is, huge numbers of Palestinian children have been arrested and locked away in Israeli dungeons. But most of it happens away from the cameras. The very fact that Palestinian children are subject to a completely different justice system to Israeli children is just one more reason to say: Israel is an apartheid state.
If you want to compare, watch the video below, which shows Zionist settlers attacking a Palestian village under the full gaze of the military. There are no arrests.
On 15 May each year the Palestinian people commemorate al-Nakba (the Catastrophe), named after the forced expulsion of 750,000 men, women, and children from their homes and villages in a process involving the expropriation of 78% of Palestinian land on the way to the establishment of the State of Israel. This was declared on 14 May 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, the Jewish state’s first prime minister and one of its most celebrated national heroes.
The controversy surrounding this period in history, which to Israel and its supporters is referred to as the ‘War of Independence’, remains the subject of sharp debate, its ramifications continuing to underpin over six decades of misery and injustice for succeeding generations of Palestinians and Palestinian refugees.
One of the great injustices arising from this historical event is that the right of return of Palestinian refugees to the land from which they or their parents and grandparents were expelled has been denied by Israel since. Compounding this injustice further is that any person of Jewish faith – recent converts included – is automatically granted Israeli citizenship and the right to immigrate to the country even if they can trace no family or physical connection to the land beforehand. Moreover many of these new immigrants end up living in any of the number of illegal settlements that have and continue to be constructed on Palestinian land occupied by Israel since 1967, thus adding insult to the injury of the original sin of mass ethnic cleansing. Click to continue reading →
Hawking, who has previously visited Israel on four occasions, had originally intended to attend the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, noting that “this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank.”
However, the Cambridge professor of cosmology received a number of emails from Palestinian colleagues.
“They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster,” he reported.
Israel Maimon, who chairs the Israeli Presidential Conference, declared Hawking’s decision “outrageous and wrong.” Click to continue reading →
Wednesday 15th May is Nakba day, the day where Palestinians and their supporters worldwide commemorate the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians after the declaration of independence by Israel in 1948.
There are events taking place the weekend after the 15th, when more people can attend. But in co-ordination with international rallies around the world, a demonstration has been arranged for 1pm on Wednesday 15th May, Nakba Day itself, opposite Downing Street. The demonstration will be symbolic but important.
“I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank. However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”
Omar Barghouti – founding member of PACBI:
“Palestinians deeply appreciate Stephen Hawking’s support for an academic boycott of Israel. We think this will rekindle the kind of interest among international academics in academic boycotts that was present in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.”
Samia al-Botmeh – Birzeit University:
“We tried to communicate two points to him. First, that Israel is a colonial entity that involves violations of the rights of the Palestinians, including academic freedom, and then asking him to stand in solidarity with Palestinian academic colleagues who have called for solidarity from international academics in the form of boycotting Israeli academia and academic institutions.”
Hawking’s decision to withdraw from the conference was “fantastic”. I think it’s wonderful that he has acted on moral grounds. That’s very ethical and very important for us as Palestinians to know and understand that there are principled colleagues in the world who are willing to take a stand in solidarity with an occupied people.”
With that as an intro, the following paragraph really struck me, and is worth repeating without comment:
I suddenly remembered I was on a small mission. Before I left London, the representative of a Miners’ Support Group in Yorkshire had called on me and given me twenty-four greeting cards, from twenty-four mining families in her village, to take to the people of the camps. The coal-miners of Britain had been out on strike for a year, stretching from 1984 into 1985. Conditions were very difficult throughout the strike, and many mining families had to sell their furniture and possessions to survive.
During the strike, the British miners had their equivalent of the General Union of Palestinian Women. The miners’ wives, mothers, sisters and grandmothers organised themselves into Miners’ Support Groups, and these women ran soup kitchens to feed the community, travelled all over Britain on fundraising tours, and kept everyone’s morale up during the darkest moments. Like the Palestinian women, they formed the backbone of the community.
The British press scorned the ending of the strike as a “defeat”, but my Palestinian friends in Chatila camp called it a victory. Their reasong was simple: any group who could hold out for a whole year under those conditions won a great victory.
So while the British commentators talked of the defeat of the miners, the Palestinians of Chatila camp saluted the miners for their heroic and victorious year-long strike. Perhaps the Palestinians knew too well what struggle was about, better than the British press. One of the women told me the Western press had dealt with the Palestinians the same way they had dealt with the miners.
“They consistently distorted or refused to publish our case,” she said. “However, even if the newspapers won’t print our story, it will still be written: it will be written with the blood of our martyrs.”
The noticeboard of the Women’s Union had been bombed, but they decided to display the greeting cards from Yorkshire on the wall alongside the photographs of their martyrs.
Dr. Swee Chai Ang, From Beirut to Jerusalem, Grafton Books 1989 p196-197
Such a small detail from such a brutal period. It deserves to be better known – please consider sharing it using the buttons below.
As we approach the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, security forces are targeting Israeli activists and Palestinian shephards in new ways in the South Hebron hills. It’s as if they’d decided to circumvent the whole irksome apparatus of the courts and to resort instead to brute force. It’s much simpler, and maybe more effective. Click here to read the full article