Saturday, 28 August 2010

Its been a busy couple of months and I have been bad at updating so... sorry! There are a few bits of news now...

In the past month or two I have taken part in events in a few different places talking about the flotilla. These include Kendal, Gloucester, Cambridge, Lewisham, Waltham Forest, Milton Keynes. I've also met with the David Icke London group and have planned visits to Wiltshire, Southend and Ipswich.

In Lewisham the event was co-delivered by Frank Barat of Russell Tribunal and Paveen Yaqub (Flotilla survivor)

I went to Slough to a fundraising dinner where the party raised £3K!!! Well done Hasna.

In Kendal there is a new branch of PSC, I travelled from London to Bolton where my friends Babu and Imran picked me up and we drove the next hour in the pouring rain to speak to a Labour Party group.

In Cambridge there was another speaker called William Parry and he has recently published a book about the art on the separation wall in West Bank - Against the Wall - The Art of Resistance in Palestine. It turns out he and his wife live not far from me in London - by pure coincidence I bumped into him while going to meet someone else, this is great as we arrange to meet up again to talk.

In Gloucester we were lucky enough to attend on a day when there was a local fair and fireworks. The event was held in a theatre and a Conservative MP Richard Graham attended. This week David Cameron also visited Turkey where he publicly condemned the flotilla attack and described Gaza as a prison camp. So now we have potential allies in surprising places.

We spent some time in Gloucester with the gang and saw some spectacular fireworks and laughed our heads off when Hasna's hijab became unravelled on a fairground ride and wrapped itself around Yousef - the funniest thing I have seen in a long time.

After the event in Gloucester I was lucky enough to take Yousef al Helou and Rada Stojanovic home to meet my parents. Yousef is a Gaza reporter for Press TV, Rada has returned from six months spent inside Gaza where she describes people are living 'in suspended reality'.

I was interviewed by online magazine London Street Art Design Issue 5 about the Flotilla and convoys, you can read the article here and also see lots of amazing street art and interviews. I also wrote a piece for the Social Work Action Network but today it had not yet been published.

Milton Keynes have a new PSC branch and have started out with much enthusiasm and a large group of around 50 interested local members. I was privileged to be able to join a show on Ramadan FM on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening there was a PSC organised event with Gideon Levy and Jon Snow - it was packed and interesting. I invited a new person I've met from an organisation called New Routes. He is Jewish and we discussed briefly the importance of effective campaigns and ways forward in helping to bring about a peaceful solution to Israel-Palestine conflict . If we don't include everyone there will be more trouble. Which is the same message that Gideon Levy tried to make about the upcoming 'peace talks' that U.S. is brokering. He is worried that failure of the talks, likely, to will bring about more bloodshed. Representatives are not being included i.e. Hamas - and that Hamas needs to be engaged in dialogue. The usual disruptor - Jonathan Hoffman from the Zionist Federation is there and shouts out 'they want to murder you Gideon' to which he replies 'and boycotting them will make them less likely to murder me??' - no response. It seems however that Gideon is saying that change will not come from within Israel, that there is little incentive to address or change the situation from there - pressure will have to come from outside. He says he cannot support a boycott of Israel because he is a patriot and speaks out about Israel because he loves Israel and hates to see it going down this path. I feel that he would be unable to speak out about a boycott or sanctions against Israel because of the new laws they have introduced there making support of a boycott illegal .

So now it is time to prepare for the next convoy.

I have not been able to say definitely what I am doing. I've been keeping in touch with Tom from Slough and he is working hard on the aid side of things for Viva Palestina.

Plans are afoot to fetch the truck back from Bulgaria and fit it out with equipment so it will become a mobile recording studio. This would be done with the help of Fairtunes and Strummerville . I have tried to contact Hoping Foundation to see if they can support us as well and we are speaking next week.... I hope so. The British DJ and MC academy have offered us one of their vehicles to take now but we would need to replace it for them and this would cost in region of £40K. Anyone feeling generous??

There are two groups planning land convoys at the moment - Viva Palestina and Road to Hope.

I have a feeling that Viva Palestina may have a better chance of getting in because of the route - but I'm not 100% sure. VP plan to go by land through Western Europe into Turkey and Syria then by sea to Al Arish. R2H plan to go via Italy to North Africa then through Egypt. Despite the challenges of the previous convoy I've opted to try to go with VP again - if I do end up going. Also flotillas are being organised but not much news on those yet. There is a bit of news about a boat Mariam from Lebanon full of women that has been stalled in its bid to continue peacefully to Gaza.

Also in the last month we have had the Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission who came to interview witnesses to the Mavi Marmara. They have to report back on their findings in September.

On 16th August Panorama broadcast a programme called 'Death on the Med' which was inherently flawed on a number of levels. The best deconstruction of the programme I have found so far is found at:Analysis of bias: BBC Panorama "Death on the Med" - 16 August 2010

Understandably the Israeli military would not have permitted interviews if they had not been assured of the propaganda benefits of taking part.

Guidance for how to complain if you watch it and agree is given by the PSC, also if you did complain but received an unsatisfactory response more guidance here.

This week I also had an interview for a job with the PSC as Campaign Assistant on the End the Siege of Gaza campaign... unfortunately did not get it but did a good presentation so... onwards...

I'm helping my pal Ruth is working on a fundraiser for 9th October called Electric Circus . Circus acts, DJ's, semi-naked people, costumes, noise, lunacy - Hamas's favourite line-up ;). Also involved is Fairtunes .