Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Press Release

5 Nov 2008
Palestine's Tragedy... Britain's Disgrace - Report from IPSC demo at British Embassy on Nov 1st
1st Nov 2008: On a bright Saturday morning in Dublin, around 80 activists from all over the country gathered at the British Embassy in Ballsbridge to commemorate the 91st Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and to highlight the British State's ongoing support for Israeli human rights abuses. The protest indicted British colonial policy as the root cause of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.


Marie Crawley (IPSC), Aengus O Snodaigh TD & Jeremy Corbyn MP


Palestine unfree...

British Labour MP and PSC patron Jeremy Corbyn roundly condemned British Imperialism's signing over of Palestine for the creation of a 'Jewish Homeland' at the expense of the indigeous population. He also spoke about his own experiences in Occupied Palestine, and the effects of the crushing siege on Gaza. Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh spoke both about Imperial policy in Palestine and in Ireland, and also related some of his own experiences while visiting Occupied Palestine. Marie Crawley - Chair of the IPSC - also spoke about Balfour, the siege and congratulated the Gaza siege breakers (including two IPSC members and two other Irish citizens) on board the SS Dignity. Statements of support from George Galloway MP and the British PSC were also read out.


A bit of chanting


Crowd section

The speeches were followed by spirited chanting and a short march to the Mount Herbert Hotel where a public meeting took place. At the meeting, in addition to Jeremy Corbyn and Aengus O Snodaigh, IPSC member and PhD Candidate Anaheed Al-Hardan spoke about the situation of the Palestinian refugees - in particular those who have fled Iraq in the wake of the US-led invasion and are now currently living in conditions akin to those faced by the refugees in 1948.


L-R: Aengus O'Snodaigh TD (Sinn Fein), Anaheed Al-Hardan (IPSC), Prof Mahmoud Muhareb (Al Quds Uni), Marie Crawley (IPSC Chair), Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour) & Freda Hughes (IPSC)



Anaheed Al-Hardan speaks


Balad Party member and Political Science professor Mahmoud Muhareb (Al Quds University) gave an outline of what he feels the Israeli strategy for Palestine currently is. He also touched upon the struggle of the 1948 Palestinians that still reside in the State of Israel.


Prof. Muhareb speaks


A section of the meeting crowd

Finally, there was a live phone link-up to Gazan journalist Sami Abu-Salem who gave a firsthand account of the effects of the siege and gave an update on the activites of the SS Dignity and its heroic crew. The interview was conducted by the IPSC's Events Coordinator Freda Hughes.


Freda Hughes conducts live phone interview with Sami Abu-Salem in Gaza (with SS Dignity slideshow in background)



Placards

The IPSC would like to warmly thank all those who attended and helped us organise this, the final event in our Nakba 60 Calendar.





Opening remarks by Maries Crawley (IPSC Chair):

"On behalf of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, I would like to welcome you all to today's rally - Palestine's Tragedy, Britain's Disgrace. Today's event commemorates the signing of an agreement which has become known as the Balfour Declaration. On 2nd November 1917, in furtherance of its imperial ambitions in the Middle East, the British Government under Lloyd George made a promise to the Zionist Federation that it would 'establish a national home for the Jewish people' in Palestine. This promise, was made without consulting the people of Palestine who hoped for independence from the imperial powers. It could be described as a laudable idea - to find a home for a people without a home. As a Palestinian refugee I met last week in Palestine commented sadly - it is a shame therefore, that he did not create the state for the Jewish people in his own country - but chose instead the land of Palestine.

"The people of Palestine continue to live with the legacy of Balfour. The Israeli Government seems determined to grab every last square metre of Palestinian land. It continues to build the ever pervasive wall deep within Palestinian territory, Israeli settlements in the West Bank continue to expand despite UN resolutions and international agreements to the contrary and despite the fašade of peace and prisoner releases, the Israeli government continues its systematic programme of arrests and incursions in the West Bank. In the last week alone - the IOF conducted at least 35 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, arrested 26 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, killed one man and injured 4 civilians, including two children. Last week was a normal week in Palestine. The number of Palestinian civilians arrested by IOF in the West Bank since the beginning of the year stands at 2,098. Yet, the western media provides us with un-researched reports about Israeli prisoner release programmes.

"In Gaza, meanwhile - the siege continues. All border crossings have been closed for more than 2 years. 1.5 million people are denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education. Fuel shortages are having a devastating effect on lack of clean drinking water, health services, water and sewage treatment facilities. More than 260 Palestinians have died since the siege was imposed in early 2006 because Israel refuses to issue permits to go abroad for medical treatment.

"We applaud the efforts of the courageous international volunteers who this week again broke the siege of Gaza by sailing there from Cyprus. We congratulate the members of the IPSC who sailed on SS Dignity - Alan Lonergan and Derek Graham and their 2 other Irish colleagues Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Caoimhe Butterly. With 4 Irish people on board SS Dignity - they have sent a strong and brave message to the Irish government. The Irish people will not stand idly by while the Palestinian people are under a brutal siege in Gaza. As a people, we will not be complicit in the EU's failure to act to end this blockade.

"We repeat our call on the Irish government to use its power and influence in Europe to impose sanctions on the Israeli state. While Israel continues to occupy the territory of Palestine and to contravene norms and agreements of international law - Europe must stop treating it as like a respected business partner. It must start treating it for what it is - a rogue state in the heart of the Middle East.

"As some of you will know, Balfour's previous work was well known to us here in Ireland. As Secretary of State for Ireland, Balfour had long opposed Home Rule. It is fitting therefore, that as one previously colonised nation to another - on this anniversary of the signing of the Declaration -that we show our solidarity with the people of Palestine.

"We are delighted to have with us a range of speakers from Palestine, Britain and Ireland. I would like to welcome Jeremy Corbyn MP, Aengus O'Snodaigh TD, Anaheed Al-Hardan and Professor Mahmoud Muhareb. Unfortunately, we are not being joined today by Prof Illan Pappe, as advertised, he was called to a meeting in Berlin; but we are delighted to have an excellent and varied range of speakers nonetheless."





Statement of support from George Galloway MP (Respect):

"It is extremely fitting that you have chosen to demonstrate on this day to mark the infamous Balfour Declaration.

"It was Arthur Balfour - a notorious anti-Semite - who set us upon this bloody helter-skelter in Palestine and the wider Middle East.

"He it was who, in the name of one people, the British, gave to the purported leaders of another, the land belonging to a third without asking any of the peoples concerned.

"Those of us who are politically active in Britain have a special responsibility to the people of Palestine for the suffering that has been inflicted on them.

"That a demonstration is taking place in Dublin should prick consciences on this side of the water.

"Congratulations to the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign for taking this initiative.

"This is a moment of potential change in world politics. No one should imagine that will be easy or automatic. But the closing days of the US election campaign are revealing a deep desire for change, way beyond what is on offer.

"For those of us who have campaign for decades in solidarity with the Palestinian people now is a time to renew our commitment. The failure of the US imperial project in Iraq and, increasingly in Afghanistan, is now fusing with the failure of the free market ideology that has held sway for a generation.

"It's time to talk about alternatives. To resurrect the notions of solidarity and collectivity we were told had been vanquished.

"In so doing, the name of Palestine will be emblazoned on the banners of all who count themselves progressive.

"The shifting sands in the Middle East are undermining the corrupt kings and puppet presidents who rule almost without exception from north Africa to the Afghanistan.

"There is a fire under the presidential throne of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. The underpinnings of the House of Saud are rotting away.

"The struggle in Palestine is finding fresh and powerful detachments in Cairo, Amman, Riyadh.

"We must do all we can here in the West to fan these flames."

In solidarity,

George Galloway MP
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