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Occupation magazine - Activism

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Scottish activists fly off to Palestine, to the sound of bagpipes and choir
Sofiah MacLeod
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
April 13, 2012
by mail from press@welcometopalestine.info

1.
Some Scots, English and Welsh joined Welcome to Palestine 2011 and tried to transit Tel Aviv airport to visit Palestine. When the young woman at passport control asked our destination we said clearly and politely, “Palestine”. If we had said any other word we would have had little trouble: I had been through Tel Aviv airport about 18 times and never had a problem getting through since, like every other solidarity activist, I concealed my true intent and destination. I lied, since I knew the officials there are part and parcel of the effort to isolate the West Bank from international solidarity.

Last July, however, giving the answer “Palestine” led to myself and others being put in handcuffs and leg-irons and taken to Givon Prison with scores of others. The prison authorities told us we were guilty of something but, in a Kafkaesque performance, would not reveal which law had been broken since saying the word “Palestine” is not a crime known even to the racist Israeli legal system. To repeat: we were imprisoned for saying the word “Palestine” to an official at Tel Aviv Airport.

Now the Israel Law Centre, labelled a “civil rights group” by the Jerusalem Post, has called for groups who fly into Tel Aviv Airport and indicate their destination as “Palestine” to be charged and tried and punished in Israeli courts unspecified violations “of Israeli law, including the Penal Code, the Police Ordinance and Emergency Regulations.”

Anyone with a sense of history knows that Israel’s current ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to make way for Jewish settlers/colonists was preceded by a long-term denial of the very existence of the Palestinian people. Jailing people for uttering the word “Palestine” is part of this tradition.

It has always been Zionist policy to isolate the Palestinian people from international links while the violent process of dispossession of a whole people is carried out. Support Welcome to Palestine in its challenge to this cruel project, now in its seventh decade.

In the UK, ask your MP to answer the appeal they received on Wednesday from the Palestinian Ambassador in London to support Palestinians’ right to receive visitors. Go to www.coordin8.org.uk It only takes a minute.
(Mick Napier, SPSC Chair)

In Edinburgh, Saturday, come to the send-off for one group of Welcome to Palestine travelers at Waverley Station at 1.00pm. Pipers and a choir!

2.
Some Lufthansa passengers to Tel Aviv have been sent cancellations and fare reimbursements. Noteworthy that the note, in French, has no mention of the flight number or destination, nor mention of the Israeli Government pressure on the air carrier. All those who had their tickets cancelled will still report to the check-in desk and ask that their contract with the airline be honoured.

3.
See the following pieces uploaded to www.welcometopalestine.info
- Message from Welcome to Palestine 2012 French delegation
- Message from Secretariat of the Palestinian national committee for the World Social Forum `Free Palestine`
- Appeal from the Palestinian Ambassador to Members of Parliament
Some MPs have already started to respond – give yours a nudge via www.coordin8.org.uk
- Participant profiles (UK & US)
- The Mayor of Bethlehem sends message of support Bethlehem twinned in 2007 with Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. (see note below). Ask your Glasgow MP to support the Glasgow participants.
- CGT`s Roissy-CDG union branch supports Welcome to Palestine 2012
- Scottish Parliament members express support for Welcome to Palestine participants

4.
British Government: `We support Israel`s right to blockade the West Bank`
Also from FCO website:
“We advise against all travel to Gaza.
“the security situation in the West Bank has continued to improve over the past year”! For who?
“Travel in and out of the West Bank is not possible without passing through at least one Israeli military checkpoint. You will need a passport to go through these checkpoints.
“Serious Organised Crime Agency investigation into the misuse of UK passports in the murder of Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai on 19 January 2010 found evidence of Israeli involvement in the fraudulent use of British passports. Only hand your passport over to third parties including Israeli officials when absolutely necessary.”
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/middle-east-north-africa/israel-occupied

5.
The Zionist Jewish Telegraph carried an article, ‘Flytilla‘ to invade Israel on last year’s effort to peacefully enter Palestine, claiming that a “similar attack took place last year” and that travellers attempting to enter Palestine in April actually aim to cause “maximum chaos”. After claiming that the attempt to enter Palestine openly and peacefully is “an attack”, the weekly newspaper attempts to mobilise the entire UK Jewish community in support of the siege of Palestine: “If the community is aware of anyone who intends to cause trouble they should inform the Israeli embassy.” This sinister move needs to be repudiated by Jewish community leaders and activists

6.
Time to move from words to action against the Israeli blockade and siege: here is an absurd, cheery little entry on Glasgow City Council’s website about its twin city, Bethlehem. No mention of occupation, illegal wall. Instead we have ‘closely linked to nearby Jerusalem’ (by a wall!) and ‘increased intermingling of the region’s people’ (despite apartheid and physical barriers?).

Modern Bethlehem is an agricultural market and trade centre closely linked to nearby Jerusalem. It lies at a distance of 10 kms (6 miles) to the south of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is situated on a mountainous site, 777 meters (2600 feet) above the level of the Mediterranean Sea and overlooks its surroundings. Its surface resembles the shape of a semi circle. From the west, the town of Bethlehem is bounded by the town of Beit Jala and from the east by the town of Beit Sahour. From the north it is bordered by Jerusalem and the village of Sur Bahir and from the south by Solomon`s Pools and the villages of al-Khader and Artas. Forty thousand people live in the administrative limits of the municipality of Bethlehem and five thousand people in the old center of the town. As a symbol of the increased intermingling of the region`s people, beside Arabic, the native language, English is widely spoken. French, German and Spanish are spoken too. Tourism and its related enterprises form a major industry in the region. They play a crucial role in developing the local economy. More than 20% of the working population is employed in the tourism sector.
http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/en/AboutGlasgow/Twincities/bethlehemjerusalem.htm


Stay updated:


Profiles and updates on UK & US participants will be available here on Sunday 15 April: www.welcometopalstine.info

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Welcome-to-Palestine-2012-English/310199145661990?sk=wall
Twitter: @WtP2012uk
Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/WelcometoPalestine
Welcome to Palesetine 2012
Contact details for updates on UK and US participants:
Sofiah MacLeod
00 44 (0) 131 620 0052
00 44 (0) 7931200361
press@welcometopalestine.info

AK
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