at a time of great domestic political upheaval it is easy to forget about the plight of the Palestinian people. However, the suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people continues unabated and we have to continue to respond to it. On the 4th June Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign, together with other groups around the country, held a day of action to highlight the role of the technology giant Hewlett Packard in providing technological services which allow Israel to profile and control the lives of the millions of people living under illegal occupation. National PSC has reported this here They have also set up a dedicated web-site about Hewlett Packard which can be viewed here. National PSC has set up an on-line pledge for people to sign to let HP know that they plan to stop buying Hewlett Packard products until such time as HP ends its support for Israeli human rights violations and war crimes which can be found on the home page of the Stop HP web-site.
Next month will mark two years since the beginning of Israel’s major assault on Gaza which killed over 2,200 Palestinians – over 500 of whom were children. Although the time-line of events shows clearly that Israeli violence was politically motivated, and therefore terrorist in nature, the British main-stream media insisted in parroting what can only be described as propaganda lies put out by the Israeli government. We therefore found ourselves in the position of having to protest, simultaneously, the Israeli attacks themselves and the biased coverage of the main-stream media including the BBC. This included protests outside of the local BBC offices in Southampton and an open letter from Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign to the BBC. Since then Palestine Solidarity Campaign has continued to campaign for a two-way arms embargo between Britain and Israel as part of the Stop Arming Israel campaign – a joint initiative of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, and Campaign Against the Arms Trade. We also run an on-going Fair News Campaign which aims to hold the BBC to account for its biased reporting and to which anyone who wishes to can contribute.
Recently we have had to try to defend ourselves against opportunistic efforts made by pro-Israel groups withing the Labour Party to use the controversy over remarks made by Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone to try to define anti-Semitism in a way that would severely curtail expressions of criticism of Israel within the Labour Party. In response to this Jeremy Corbyn set up an inquiry into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party led by Shami Chakrabarti. One good thing that has come out of this otherwise unpleasant episode is a wealth of excellent submissions to this inquiry explaining clearly and precisely the differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel. A Free Speech on Israel web-site has been set up which has collected many of these submissions. Many of the submissions are quite long but are well worth the effort as they provide a very clear explanation of anti-Semitism, Zionism and anti-Zionism. Submission which I particularly recommend include the submission by Palestine Solidarity Campaign the submission by the Jewish Socialist’ Group and especially the excellent submission by the UK Palestine Mental Health Network. Alternatively you could take a look at my shorter submission which received over 500 shares on Facebook.
We have an active time over the summer and will be running stalls at the Tolpuddle Festival and the Southampton Left Fest. Feel free to call by and say hello if you are attending either event.
The struggle against racism and discrimination is one that we support both in Israel/Palestine and here in the UK. I have been asked to let people know that on Saturday 2nd July the Southampton and West Hampshire Trades Union Congress are organising a demonstration, meeting at 11am at Bargate in support of diversity and multiculturalism. This is a response to plans by a right wing group that plans to demonstrate at that time and the demonstration organisers hope to significantly out-number them with people committed to supporting our precious multicultural society and all minority communities within it.
Adam Waterhouse Branch Secretary – Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign