UK marchers pledge solidarity with Gaza

On Saturday between 10,000 – 15,000 Londoners turned out in solidarity with Gaza, marching from Downing St to a rally near the Israeli Embassy on Kensington High St

PressTV Sunday Nov 25, 2012

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters have held a demonstration in central London to vent their anger at the Zionist regime of Israel and their supporters in the British government.

Between 10,000 to 15,000 protesters marched from the British prime minister’s office on Downing Street to the Israeli embassy to show their solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip and condemn the recent Israeli onslaught on the coastal area which killed more than 160 Palestinians and injured some 1,200 others.

“After eight days of brutal bombardment, which left 160 Palestinians dead, around 40 of them children — our commitment to show Gaza that it was not alone was not dampened by the ceasefire called two days ago,” said Lindsey German, convener of the Stop the War Coalition, which organized the event.

“The demonstrators were united in their determination not just to protest at this latest outrage by Israel but to call for an end to the siege of Gaza and to see the day — after 65 years of occupation and brutal repression — when justice will be achieved for all Palestinians,” she added.

The protesters who were carrying anti-Israel placards and Palestinian flags also condemned the distorted media coverage, especially by the BBC which tried to pass the Israeli bloodshed in Gaza as an act of self-defense.

Some of the placards read “Stop Israel State Terrorism”, “We Will Not Forget You Gaza”, “End Israel’s attacks on Gaza” and “End the Siege on Gaza, Free Palestine.”

The National Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza was held despite bad weather conditions and incessant rain in London.

The Stop the War Coalition further said they seek to let everyone know that “the green light they [the British government] give to Israel’s crimes is not in our name.”

The campaign group also pledged to continue to fight for “freedom for Palestine” as the Israeli regime is not expected to stick to the current ceasefire, which it accepted under international pressure, for long.

“There is no such thing as an Israeli ceasefire where Gaza or the West Bank are concerned. Our campaign is but another step in the path to freedom for Palestine. Campaigning will go on — for a boycott of Israeli goods and against any future wars in the Middle East,” German said.

Her comments follow revelations by Jews for Justice for Palestinians, which also participated in the Saturday protest march, that the Israeli regime keeps killing Palestinians under the cover of western media blackout, dismissing officials’ remarks that Israel has been committed to a ceasefire and has launched the onslaught only to revenge Palestinians’ sporadic rocket fire.

“We write to express our astonishment at your statement of 15th November, when you said that Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis. It is difficult to square that with the recorded pattern of attacks or with the resulting deaths and injuries, and impossible to square it with the first-hand account of cease-fire negotiations,” the group wrote in a letter to British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

“The statistics provided by OCHA (the UN Office for the Protection of Civilians) is the most authoritative record of the intensification of the conflict. They show a pattern of mutual attacks during the year to the end of October 2012, with 73 Palestinians being killed while no Israelis were killed. Israeli forces also carried out incursions into Gaza together with destruction of crops and the targeting of fishermen within Gaza’s Oslo-recognized maritime exclusion zone,” it added.

AMR/HSN/HE

PressTV report:

Why was I censored by Hackney Council from speaking against Veolia?

Something’s amiss at Hackney Council

Occupy News Network

By Caroline Day

Yesterday (21 November-Ed.) I was meant to speak at a Hackney Council meeting about the potential selection of the multinational Veolia for a colossal multi-billion pound waste management contract, an issue I wrote about last week for the ONN.

Veolia is guilty of grave misconduct in the course of its business in providing vital services to the Israeli settlements therefore abetting Israeli war crimes in occupied Palestine. It also has a perilous financial standing and appalling health, safety and environmental record that should concern any resident of north London.

As I arrived at the council an hour before I was due to give my speech to the Council, I was heartened to see a large gathering of local people from the No 2 Veolia action group protesting at the shortlisting and possible selection of Veolia. In contrast, just two Zionists appeared to wave Israeli flags and shout ‘Support Israel! Support Veolia!’

The speaker of the council introduced the deputation as planned but whilst I was sat ready to give my speech inside the Council chamber, at this very late stage, an unprecedented cross-party procedural motion was tabled by Conservative Cllr. Linda Kelly of Haifa Twinning and seconded by Labour Mayor Jules Pipe. Mayor Pipe gave a speech, which I have since heard is aberrant in the case of seconders of procedural motions, claiming that my deputation should not be heard at council.

Jules Pipe claimed there was no ‘freedom of speech’ issue but I regard this as a clear act of political censorship. I was forced to leave the chamber without having uttered a single word, despite having submitted a delegation that was approved at every level of council procedure. The legal officer for Hackney Council advised the councillors that the delegation WAS legitimate.

The councillors chose to ignore this and voted for the motion, although it must be stated that all Labour councillors were whipped, meaning that to vote against the motion would have resulted in suspension from the party. Because of this we’ll never know how many were able to vote with their conscience.

The Council have since issued a joint statement which I would like to respond to here. I will also publish here the full text of my censored speech which I will also send to all the 57 councillors who were prevented from hearing it last night.

The Council statement begins:

“At Wednesday night’s Full Council meeting, the Mayor and councillors of all three political groups voted not to receive a deputation from a group wishing to raise issues concerning NLWA.”

The North London Waste Authority is made up of elected representatives from each of the seven north London boroughs. Those councillors are responsible for representing the interests and concerns of their constituents. Their voting decision on the huge £4.7bn waste management contract being considered should be guided by what is best for the people of their boroughs. The constituents of the boroughs concerned should have a right to address their elected representatives on matters that affect them, such as who handles their waste and how £600m of taxpayers money, including their own, is spent by each borough on such an undertaking.

“Elected members felt that to receive the deputation could give the incorrect appearance that they were open to lobbying on procurement issues and would be in turn be prepared to lobby an external organisation about its procurement.”

My response:

It is important to distinguish between secretive lobbying, which regularly has detrimental consequences for the public interest, takes place behind closed doors, often on behalf of powerful vested interest groups who seek to gain financially from the result of decisions, and the right of a local constituent to put forward views on important ethical, environmental and financial matters in a public forum and on behalf of concerned residents from the borough who signed the deputation.

“Elected members also said that it was inappropriate for Full Council to debate what is intrinsically an international political issue which the local authority is in no position to resolve.”

Can the councillors and Mayor Jules Pipe explain to me how Veolia’s dire financial situation and the risk this poses to the taxpayer who will foot the bill in the event that the company goes into administration “intrinsically an international political issue”?

How is Veolia’s dire health and safety record (including a notorious industrial accident which closed both the M5 and M6 motorways) and the risk this poses to their employees and the public “intrinsically an international political issue”?

How is Veolia’s lack of an environmentally friendly combined heat & power (CHP) solution (which the NLWA itself regards as best practice), and the apparent lack of the necessary capacity to carry out recycling for the area the NWLA covers, “intrinsically an international political issue”?

Representatives of all three party groups issued a statement that said:

“We are here to represent residents and do not shy away from difficult debates on local issues, about services and issues that directly affect our borough.”

Fundamentally, this IS an issue that affects all residents of the borough as it regards the use of THEIR money. The issue being considered IS a local service, that of local waste management. It is hard to see how there could be an issue that affects residents less since all residents are affected by the issue of waste management. Veolia’s bid trebles the amount Hackney is currently paying for waste disposal, and this will clearly impact other services, cutbacks will presumably have to be made elsewhere.

“We believe, however, that although technically acceptable, to have received this deputation would not have observed the spirit of the Council’s constitution and went beyond what was reasonable for Members to consider.”

In other word’s a political decision was taken by Jules Pipe not to hear a deputation that conformed to the letter of the Council’s constitution and a whip which would have seem members voting against suspended from the Labour Party was required to enforce this political decision. What is ‘reasonable for the Council to consider” seems not be determined by the fair and reasonable council procedure but by the political beliefs of the mayor and others. Since many Labour councillors were under the intimidation of being suspended from the party we don’t know how many voted according to their beliefs and how many were forced into this embarrassing and unnecessary censorship of a local resident.

Here is the full text of my censored speech for you to read. Why was Hackney so scared to even hear the following?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about this very important issue.

It is vital that Hackney councillors’ are aware, and that it is on public record that selecting Veolia will treble the current costs of waste disposal and expose the taxpayer to significant risks. This contract is likely to last over 25 years and represents a £4.7bn investment of taxpayers’ money.

Today I will outline 5 reasons why Hackney Council should not select Veolia.

1) Grave Misconduct

The Jerusalem Light Railway connects West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. By connecting West Jerusalem to the settlements, the JLR violates article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into occupied territory. By confiscating and destroying Palestinian property on the route of the JLR, it contravenes Article 53, which prohibits an occupying power from destroying property in the occupied territory. In November 2012 Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt affirmed that: “The UK has been consistently clear that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.”

Veolia Transport Israel also operates bus routes 7, 19, 109, 110, 422, and 425 connecting communities in Israel to illegal settlements in the West Bank. A subsidiary company, the Israeli Veolia group, owns and operates the Tovlan landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley.

The NLWA have advised in communications that activities of Veolia’s subsidiary companies cannot be taken into account. This is incorrect according to both EU and UK law. Veolia’s revenues and profits are calculated as a whole and are listed as such on the Paris and New York stock exchanges. In reporting results, Veolia considers subsidiaries to be divisions of itself, and its subsidiaries’ contracts as its own contracts. Legally Veolia and its subsidiaries in the UK, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories should be treated as a single entity.

The NLWA have also advised that they cannot consider the location of a company’s activities. But this is irrelevant, as it not the location per se that is the issue, but the fact that Veolia’s business activities in that location violate international law.

Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and numerous experts in international law stress that any decision by the NLWA to provide access to public funds to Veolia may contravene the UK’s international legal obligation not to facilitate violations of international law.

2) Discriminatory Practices

Racist recruitment: Veolia advertised jobs on the JLR requiring both Hebrew to a “mother tongue” standard and military service, a discriminatory requirement that excludes Palestinians.

Gender segregation: Veolia operates a segregated bus service on route 322 from Ashdod to Tel Aviv. Women enter through the rear of the vehicle and the men from the front. They cannot touch each other or sit next to one another.

3) Environmental

Veolia’s proposal is limited to incineration, competing bids offer the more environmentally friendly Combined Heat and Power solution which emits less Co2 into the atmosphere.

Despite claiming to be ‘CHP ready’, Veolia have made no provision for a CHP solution and no obvious potential for this exists in the site they have selected.

Most Councils, including Hackney, wish to increase the amount of waste they recycle. For this reason it would be perverse to select Veolia to handle waste management since its strength and technical capabilities are in incineration. At present the UK capacity of Veolia’s co-mingled recycling plants is less than 20% of that required for north London.

Competing companies in the bidding process are operating recycling facilities that can process around 250,000 tonnes a year, close to the amount required for north London and around 5 times larger than any plant operated at present by Veolia in the UK.

The incinerator proposed by Veolia has an electrical output of 50 MW, over 25% higher than that of rival bidder E.On, and an indication of Veolia’s prioritisation of incineration over recycling.

4) Health and Safety

Veolia have an appalling health and safety record.

In 2005 they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6 and 9 of the Dangerous and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations Act 2002, after a huge chemical explosion at a Veolia facility resulted in the closure of the M6 and M5 motorways.

In May 2009 an explosion at waste recycling plant in Ohio injured two workers and damaged adjacent buildings.

In April 2011 the collapse of a sewage holding wall at a Veolia plant in Tennessee, spilled 1.5 million gallons of polluted water into a river and killed two workers.

In November 2011, a Veolia plant discharged raw and toxic digester gas into the atmosphere in Point Richmond California.

5) Financial concerns

The NLWA currently operates the Eco Park at Edmonton, recycling some waste, with the rest either incinerated to generate electricity or sent to landfill. Current costs for disposal and treatment are around £75 a tonne. Veolia will almost triple this, charging close to £200 per tonne.

Harrow Council actually make a profit by operating their waste and recycling services in-house, conversely Brent is prevented from doing the same by being locked into a contract with Veolia.

Veolia faces serious financial problems. Its share price has dropped below 8 Euros — compared with above 60 Euros five years ago — while debt has risen to above 15 billion Euros. Veolia is facing a major lawsuit from competitor EDF over the ownership of Dalkia. Veolia has pledged to sell billions of euros of assets and pull out of dozens of countries in a bid to lower debt and reverse losses.

The risk posed by outsourcing contractors going into administration is amply demonstrated by the case of Barnet Homes, where taxpayers subsequently picked up the bill. This is even more pertinent in the case of the north London waste contract as the duration and financial value of the contract are so considerable.

At a time of unprecedented cuts to Council budgets, selecting Veolia is not a gamble any Council can afford to make with taxpayers money.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

If you live in Hackney, contact Mayor Jules Pipe and express your outrage at this block as well as your Council Tax being used to support Veolia, a company complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights.

Email: mayor@hackney.gov.uk
Tel: 020 8356 3220

DANCING ON THE GRAVES OF GAZA: Batsheva in London

Batsheva performs at London’s Sadler’s Wells

UPDATED: 22 NOV

The Batsheva Dance Company performed the first of three performances at London’s Sadler’s Wells theatre Monday evening.

This Israeli dance ensemble receives funding from the Israeli government and is seen as part of ‘Brand Israel’ – a propaganda attempt by the Apartheid State to whitewash their war crimes and atrocious human rights record by showing Israel’s prettier face to the world.

In addition to receiving coverage in the The Guardian, BBC and Haaretz, the London Evening Standard also included a mention of Batsheva’s performance:

In London, an Israeli Dance Company was facing protests tonight over the crisis in Gaza. Demonstrators were planning to march from the Israeli Embassy in Kensington to Sadler’s Wells where the Batsheva Dance Ensemble was due to perform. Eleven UK performances have been interrupted, with the Islington dance venue the target for the next three nights as campaigners accuse the company as acting as a “cultural fig leaf for the atrocities.”

Arriving at 7:15, the first thing noticeable aside from the large police presence was the very long queue that snaked up the street and around the corner. Ticket holders expressed relief when it was announced that the sold-out show, scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm was postponed until 8:00 pm, as it was impossible for everyone to be seated in such a short space of time.

It shouldn’t be long now.

About 400 pro-Palestinian protesters were directly across the street shouting: “YOUR TICK-ETS ARE COV-ERED IN PALESTINIAN BLOOD!” and “HEY-HEY, HO-HO, THE OCCUPATION HAS GOT TO GO!”  A large white trailer parked in front of the theatre partially obstructed the protester’s view of the queue. Further up the road penned in quite a distance away was a much smaller group of Zionist counter-protestors who were outnumbered by their Israeli flags and according to the police, left as soon as the performance began.

The large pro-Palestinian contingent.

Working the queue was Jonathan Hoffman trying to save face after losing his position as Zionist Federation Co Vice-Chair, as well as the equally repulsive Martin Sugarman who positioned himself at the entrance to the theatre, both distributing flyers while desperately on the lookout for pro-Palestinian trouble-makers and thus prevent the performance from being disrupted by human rights activists.

This is Zionist Martin Sugarman who positioned himself at the entrance, ready to point out pro-Palestinian activists – like us – to the police and theatre security.

There were more Israeli flags than counter-demonstrators. Wherever you find Zionists, you’ll also find the police.

The Zionist “Culture Unites” flyer that equates culture with a two-state solution. We came across a pile of these scattered on the pavement. (click for pdf)

Blind to reality: Jonathan Hoffman, FORMER Co Vice-Chair of the UK Zionist Federation.

Hoffman was so busy thrusting flyers at everyone and arguing – even with fellow Zionists – that he passed a group of people in the queue that he should have recognised and Sugarman was in a stupor after being told off by a police constable for loitering. There were also several pro-Palestinian campaigners who were distributing their Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid full colour flyers (below) and others publicising Saturday’s national demonstration for Gaza.

Click for the four-page booklet (pdf).

In the lobby of Sadler’s Wells, there was a battery of security guards behind tables, frantically checking bags that often tested the patience of those waiting.

It was gratifying to see ticket holders experience both the inconvenience and indignity of what thousands of Palestinians are forced to endure at checkpoints every single day. Also it was nice to know that the money to pay for all this additional security has to come from somewhere – hopefully out of Batsheva’s pocket!

After a quick inspection by one of the guards and being allowed to pass into Sadler’s Wells foyer, there was an usher handing these out, something you don’t see every day:

A unique souvenir. (click for pdf)

Inside the auditorium there were dozens of stern-looking security staff and ushers who were positioned by every exit. Everyone knew something was going to happen and a feeling of anxiety permeated the audience.

In a way, this too was gratifying, because the audience – and no doubt the dancers and crew – were also feeling anxious, not knowing what will happen which is a common occurence for many Palestinians: A house demolished, homelessness, an olive grove uprooted, sewage dumped into a water supply, arrest, administrative detention, torture and even death.

The draconian security arrangements inside the theatre included a complete ban on the use of mobile phones and during the interval, a guard was overheard saying he was going to kick out someone who was continuously texting.

Sure enough, it wasn’t that long after the performance began when a group of activists started shouting: “FREE, FREE PALESTINE!” After some screaming and yelling, they were quickly ushered out while the performance continued.

What was also worth mentioning about the performance was a highly charged militaristic dance sequence featuring female dancers in marching formation. Given the current political climate, not in the best of taste.

Minutes later, another disruption: A voice shouted out “FREE PALESTINE!” Security guards and ushers waving torches ran past. More screaming, shouting and clapping.

After the interval, a female voice, close by, shouted: “END ISRAELI OCCUPATION!” Turning around, I saw that the guards had to struggle and had a hard time removing her. One later said to an usher that she had a scarf that was tied or wrapped around her seat which made her more difficult to remove.

At the start of the question & answer session held after the performance, it was made clear that any questions answered would only be about the company and not other issues associated with the tour. Ohad Naharin, the Artistic Director, boasted that some of the dancers were Spanish, Japanese and American (but of course not one dancer was Palestinian). During the company’s appearance in Edinburgh, a woman was shouted down by the audience for daring to ask a question about Israeli Government funding.

So much for questions and answers.

It was at that point we left disgusted, thinking how anyone with a molecule of conscience could remain passive while sitting through one of the most nauseating spectacles ever.

A news report from Monday

ON TUESDAY:

Soprano Deborah Fink was one of the people who disrupted Tuesday’s performance. As  was the case on Monday, the performance was halted while security staff removed the protesters.

Deborah said:

As part of the show, a voice said, among other things, ‘Ignore Beethoven’, so I just had to sing ‘Ode to Boycott’ again, (Sung to the tune of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’: “Israel end your occupation, there’s no peace on stolen land) – the parody with which we disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at last year’s prom!

Within seconds, security guards yanked me out of my seat and whisked me off down the stairs. They took me so fast that my feet barely touched the ground – am not joking. But I carried on singing the Ode, as well as I could, under the circumstances, as well as slogans in operatic recitative style.

I’d been in the upper dress circle so I had 3 flights of stairs to go down.

Ten minutes later, two more women emerged having unfurled a colourful banner bearing the words, “Israel dances while Gaza burns.”

One of them, Teresa said:

I took this action to give a voice to the Palestinian people whose culture is silenced.

Fellow Londoner Anne said her message was, “Remember the blood of Gaza” and “Brand Israel off the stage.”

Compared to the over 100 pro-Palestinian protesters who turned up on the second evening, the Zionist counter-protesters numbered just four.

AND ON WEDNESDAY…

Around 20 minutes into Wednesday’s performance, a Palestinian student from Ramallah unfurled a Palestinian flag and called out: “Stop the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” and brought to a halt the performance while he was removed.

A second protester, Georgie, held up a banner declaring: “Israel dances while Gaza burns”. She later said:

“People were sitting watching dancers while the country that sends them is slaughtering innocent Palestinians, stealing their land and bulldozing their homes,”

The theatre’s chief executive and artistic director Alistair Spalding refused to meet academics from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) who had asked to discuss the invitation to Batsheva with him.

Batsheva’s next and final leg of its UK tour is Plymouth where they can expect more of the same on the 23rd and 24th Nov.

Leaving. Good riddance Batsheva!

Al-Quds Day 2012

Al-Quds Day is an event that unites Muslim, Christians and Jews. (Sam Hardy/Slysnake Photos)

Video report from PressTV

Friday 17 August 2012

Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day is an annual event that supports a just peace for Palestine and allows people to express their opposition to apartheid Israel’s control of Jerusalem.

Al-Quds Day is also an opportunity to stand on the side of oppressed people worldwide and not just in the Holy Land. It’s a human rights event open to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike and the international Al-Quds Day protests are important as a global show of support to the Palestinian cause from around the world.

In London, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness of and introduce the Palestinian cause for the first time to many throughout the capital.

This years London Al-Quds Day march took several thousand protesters from outside BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place via Oxford and Regents Streets to a rally near the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square. Speakers included MP Jeremy Corbyn, the Rev Stephen Sizer, John Rees of Stop the War, campaign and solidarity activists, as well as religious leaders.

Many carried Palestinian flags, banners and placards that read: ‘End Israeli Apartheid’, ‘Boycott Israel’ and ‘Freedom for Palestine.’

In addition, thousands of flyers were distributed to tourists, visitors and workers that explained the reasons behind the march.

There was a heavy police presence since last year, the Islamophobic English Defence League (EDL) tried unsuccessfully to disrupt the protest. This year saw the presence of fewer than ten counter-demonstrators that included the EDL and members of the Zionist Federation.

Thanks to Sam Hardy of Slysnake Photography for the images.

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Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim visitors.

Protesters thwart draconian security at Globe “checkpoint”

The demonstration outside the theatre. Photos by Tony Greenstein.

Lots of police outside…

…and inside. Wherever you find Zionists, you’ll also find the police.

For additional images and an eyewitness account, visit Tony Greenstein’s Blog.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – MAY 28, 2012

Press Release from BIN – Boycott Israel Network and BRICUP – British Committee for the Universities of Palestine

PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS THWART DRACONIAN SECURITY AT

ISRAELI STATE THEATRE PERFORMANCE, GLOBE THEATRE

* Shakespeare’s Globe in security lockdown to defend Israeli National Theatre
* Peaceful protesters aggressively removed from theatre
* Israeli Embassy orchestrates propaganda campaign against growing support for cultural boycott

Despite unprecedented security at Shakespeare’s Globe for Monday’s performance by Israeli National Theatre, Habima, pro-Palestinian campaigners succeeded in unfurling a banner and staging a mute protest against illegal colonisation and settlement. Protesters were manhandled
by security staff out of the theatre on London’s Bankside, where Habima – which entertains colonists illegally settled on Palestinian land – was performing the Merchant of Venice in Hebrew as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Six protesters displayed a Palestinian flag, a large banner and several smaller ones they had smuggled into the theatre. The banners carried the slogan “Israeli apartheid leave the stage”.

“We tried non-violently to convey the message that culture may not be used to give a civilised gloss to a state that perpetrates human rights abuses,” said Zoe Mars, a protester. Audience members walked out of the performance because they were disgusted by the rough treatment of the peaceful and silent demonstrators.

Protesters’ ingenuity was tested by airport style security checks including “extensive searches of bags and audience members”. The theatre box office was closed by 4 pm, photographic equipment was banned and any bag larger than a modest sized purse had to be checked into a special left luggage facility.

Israeli Embassy attempts to undermine the protests with a Twitter campaign in support of Habima fizzled out when their efforts were leaked to pro-Palestinian activists.

An embassy circular suggested using the hashtag #loveculture, because it “won’t be taken at first glance as a political statement.”

“This is proof positive that as far as the Israeli state is concerned, culture and political propaganda are indivisible,” said Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, cultural working group coordinator of the Boycott Israel Network.

“This campaign is not an attack on individual artists, we are not censoring the content of their work nor are we concerned about their ethnicity or the language they speak. As with South African sport in the apartheid era, this is about refusing to allow culture to be used to whitewash oppression.”

Israeli, Palestinian and British human rights campaigners, backed by respected figures in theatre and the arts, have urged the Globe over recent months to withdraw its invitation to Habima which is complicit in the state’s human rights violations and illegal colonisation of occupied land.

Campaign supporters such as film maker Ken Loach and actors David Calder and Miriam Margolyes say Habima uses its art to normalise an unacceptable situation. Their complicity “makes a mockery of their claim to freedom in their work,” says Loach.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. This campaign went public with an open letter published in The Guardian (March 29), signed by David Calder, Trevor Griffiths, Jonathan Miller, Mark Rylance, Emma Thompson and Harriet Walter, along with 31 others.

2. See video statements from actors David Calder, Miriam Margolyes and John Graham Davies.

3. Statement from filmmaker Ken Loach and fromPalestinian writer Dr Ghada Karmi.

4. Photos and video from protesters to follow – watch this space.

5. Palestinian theatre company, Ashtar, based in Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank, staged Richard II in Arabic at the Globe on May 4 and 5. In a post-performance discussion, artistic director Iman Aoun revealed that she had been strip searched on leaving Tel Aviv airport to travel to London. She and other members of the company explained their support for the cultural boycott of Israeli institutions.

6. Video: “Hath a Palestinian not eyes?”

7. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently cited boycotts as a key reason why Israel may be obliged to make peace.

8. Foreign Secretary William Hague last month condemned Israeli settlement activity, saying: “As the Occupying Power of the Palestinian Territories, the Israeli government has an absolute requirement to uphold international law and to fulfill its commitments.”

9. Content of Israeli Embassy circular mobilising Twitter support for Habima:

An Important Message from the Israeli Embassy – MAY 29TH/HABIMA THEATRE COMPANY

Importance: High

Dear Liverpool Jewish Community Members,

As part of the campaign around Habima’s performance at the Globe this coming week, we are aiming to get something relevant trending on twitter. After careful consideration, we have decided to use the hashtag #LoveCulture as it is short enough to fit on a substantial tweet and won’t be taken at first glance as a political statement.

To get something trending on twitter, we need it to be a sudden occurrence. Therefore, we will start tweeting with #LoveCulture at 08:00 UK Time (which is GMT +1) on Tuesday 29 May (please do not start before this time as it will dilute the possibility of this actually trending).

(If you do not have twitter, please email acailler@live.co.uk before Tuesday 29th May and Adam will advise you what/how to use twitter)

Due to the rules twitter has, please refrain from using additional hash-tags, sending multiple tweets with only minor changes as they won’t be counted and please make sure that your tweets are relevant, as again not complying will result in tweets not being counted.

Examples of tweets that you can use (please try and edit them) are:

· Great to see @HabimaTheatre celebrating the Cultural Olympiad @the_globe…all the world’s a stage #LoveCulture

· Fantastic seeing the foremost Hebrew speaking theatre company perform the Merchant of Venice @the_globe #LoveCulture

· Was great to hear @edvaizey enjoyed watching @HabimaTheatre… did he understand any of it though? #LoveCulture

· Jealous of all those off to see sold out @HabimaTheatre at @the_globe tonight…last night was great #LoveCulture

If you are using a twitter client such as TweetDeck or HootSuite, there is an option to schedule tweets to be sent at a predetermined time.

Please feel free to send this on to trusted contacts with twitter.

If you have any questions please contact pr-asst3@london.mfa.gov.il or elliot@thejlc.org.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

‘Hath a Palestinian not eyes?

Shakespeareans for Poetic Justice present:

A SONNET FOR HABIMA 

If all the world’s a stage – why then, the stage

Must play its part if we would change the world.

Whence this commotion? Why such howls of rage

The moment that our banners are unfurled?

 

In Shakespeare’s time, an audience was moved

By speeches about justice and compassion.

The Bard, methinks, could only have approved

Of protests carried out in such a fashion.

 

We’ll take no lessons from those fools who claim

That politics can’t mix with the theatre.

If actors break the law, they are to blame.

Perform in settlements? They should know better!

 

Attempts to whitewash Israel just got harder:

Now “Globe to Globe” meets global Intifada.

Sue Blackwell

Let the Globe’s audiences and Habima’s performers squirm in discomfort and wonder what will happen. Let them feel for a few hours what most Palestinians experience on a daily basis. 

Protest Habima at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

From 6:00pm

Monday 28 May (today) & Tuesday 29 May (tomorrow)

Audience participation encouraged


Globe to create “Israeli-style” checkpoint for Habima performances

By Carl B.

Since it was announced that Israel’s Habima National Theatre will be performing Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at London’s Globe Theatre this coming Monday and Tuesday, this event, slowly building to a climax, attracted just about every blogger and journalist who wrote about it from every conceivable angle ad nauseam. Everyone it seems wants to get in on the act (pardon the pun), since it was just over eight months ago that Beethovians for Boycotting Israel made their BBC Proms debut accompanied by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra inside London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: The first theatre in London to be turned into an “Israeli-style” checkpoint

Now it seems the Globe, in a new low for a UK cultural institution, is to turn itself into a checkpoint for two days to deter protesters who they suspect may disrupt Habima’s performances.

The Globe’s Trustees are well aware of the negative implications of inviting Habima, as hundreds of letters and emails have been sent arguing against their decision and a delegation even met with a Globe Trustee puppet to state the case why Habima should be boycotted. The Globe’s eventual decision to allow the ambassadors of apartheid to perform says much about their ethos, as well as morals for that matter.

In an unprecedented move for any London theatre and to its everlasting disgrace, the Globe posted and emailed the text of this letter (scroll down) to every ticket holder informing them that a total lockdown of the Globe will be in place before and during Habima’s performance, essentially turning the theatre into an Israeli-style checkpoint.

By employing such stringent security measures in a UK venue effectively exposes the lie that apartheid Israel enjoys any popular support outside Zionist circles.

The Globe’s release states that:

  • Enhanced security procedures will be implemented, along with extensive checks of bags and audience members
  • Only one gate will serve as the entrance for all 3,000 people expected during each day
  • Any objects or material that the Globe thinks may be used to disrupt the performance will be confiscated
  • No bags or rucksacks will be permitted
  • No food or drink will be allowed to be consumed on site
  • Admittance will be refused to anyone that the Globe believes may cause a disruption
  • All video and photography equipment will be banned

Boycotters promise to ensure this will be repeated every time cultural representatives of apartheid Israel perform in any venue in the UK – especially London.

Habima regularly accepts invitations to perform in illegal West Bank settlements and promises its funders that it will “deal with any problems hindering any performances.” By inviting Habima, the Globe is undermining actors who bravely refuse to break international law. In other words, the Globe is saying to hell with international law and to hell with the Palestinian people.

Zionism is a murderous, parasitic political doctrine and what the apartheid Zionist state is doing to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is monstrous. Apartheid Israel is trying to whitewash their crimes by sending cultural representatives to these shores that include the Jerusalem Quartet (disrupted in London and Brighton), The Jerusalem Trio (picketed), the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (performance ‘enhanced’) and now – Habima.

The Palestinian people are undergoing a slow-motion genocide courtesy of Israel. Their land is being stolen, homes bulldozed and movement controlled. Palestinians who peacefully protest are met in force by Zionist soldiers and settlers who don’t hesitate to shoot on sight – and Israelis who maim or kill Palestinians are rarely punished. Not long ago, Palestinians who had no weapons other than their own bodies went on highly publicised hunger strikes to protest Zionist barbarity.

Zionists in turn are gnashing their teeth and wailing that any disruption is wrong and call those who take action, “cultural terrorists.”  That is how the mind of the Zionist thinks; they accuse others of being racists and terrorists, but as their words and actions last Tuesday in support of racist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman prove, they themselves are the most hateful people imaginable.

In March, leading actors and directors, including Oscar-winner Emma Thompson, and Mark Rylance, the first artistic director of the Globe, signed a letter published in the Guardian asking the Globe to withdraw its invitation to Habima.

Habima’s performance was supported by a few unenlightened has-beens seeking publicity, the most well-known being Maureen Lipman and Howard Jacobson. One has to ask if Lipman and Jacobson, along with their fellow do-gooders, would have supported the Nazi-sponsored Berlin Philharmonic’s concerts in pre-war London or embraced performances funded by the racist apartheid South African government.

Just as Palestinians who are unsure from one day to the next whether their homes will be bulldozed or occupied – or if they will be arrested, shot, tear-gassed, beaten, tortured or murdered by crazed settlers or Israeli Occupation Force murderers, let the Globe’s audiences and Habima’s performers squirm in discomfort and wonder what will happen. Let them feel for a few hours what most Palestinians experience on a daily basis.

One thing that can be said with certainty is that the Globe’s Trustees will – sooner or later – rue the day that it invited Habima.

Here’s the Globe’s letter posted to all ticket holders about what to expect:

Letter from the Globe (click to enlarge)

Where have we seen something like this before?

This article was published in the London Evening Standard on 1st Sept 2011 when the Beethovians for Boycotting Israel choir made their BBC Proms debut accompanied by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall.