Syria Solidarity: National day of action 29th October

day-of-rage-for-aleppo

Civilians in Aleppo and across Syria are being intensively bombed by Russia with bunker bombs, phosphorous bombs, napalm, thermobaric and cluster bombs; and by the Syrian regime with chlorine containing barrel bombs; targetting homes, schools, hospitals, rescue teams, and underground shelters .

Like many Syrian cities, Aleppo has been under a starvation siege. The regime and Russian have even bombed the city’s water supply.
Despite these atrocious crimes against humanity, Aleppo’s people show tremendous solidarity and caring for each other, as they work to find the wounded under the rubble, and rush them to undergound clinics for treatment. Hundreds of democratically run community councils have been formed across Syria in the liberated areas. They have produced a tremendous amount of art, literature, music, and electronic media documenting the revolution and counter revolution in Syria.

The “peace” talks have broken down. It is clear that Russia and the Assad regime are looking for a military solution to enable the genocidal Assad regime to continue in power.

Most of the fighters killing Syrian civilians are not Syrians. They include soliders from Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, many of them conscripted or desperately poor with no other options for a living.
The Assad regime and Russia have killed half a million Syrian people. The genocide has to stop! The regime regularly uses rape and torture as weapons.

The war started because people across Syria went onto the streets to demand democracy, and instead were shot, rounded up, tortured, raped and killed. So the people took up arms to defend themselves. The Assad regime has vowed to continue to obliterate the population until it accepts his rule.

Both the United States and Russia have re-defined the people’s struggle for democracy as a “war on terror” and are both responsible for killing civilians.

Isis grew in Syria with the encouragement of the Assad regime. Assad deliberately released extremists from his jails, who went on to join Isis in Syria. The regime leaves Isis alone, and Isis is continually attacking the democratic opposition groups. The democratic opposition has been forced to fight on two fronts, against the attacks from the regime and from Isis. Despite the evils perpetrated by Isis, it has killed a fraction of the number of people, that the Assad regime has. The Assad regime with its Russian and Iranian allies are the greater evil.

Stop the bombing! Troops out!
No more genocide! Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution!
Victory for Syrian people now!

Wellington action:
2-3pm 29th October, Russian Embassy, 57 Messines Road, Karori
[Facebook event]

Auckland action:
2-3pm 29th October, Aotea Square
[Facebook event]

Hone Harawira: Burning the flag or accepting the evil

US Israeli flag burnt

Burning the Israeli flag in Auckland in protest over the murder of innocent civilians in Gaza is nothing to be ashamed of” said MANA Leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira. “Calling for both sides to stand down when one side is annihilating the other though, IS something to be ashamed of.”

“On one side you have a state with nuclear weapons, tanks, artillery, fighter planes, helicopter gunships, warships, a fully operational army, and the best missile defence system in the world that has killed hundreds of innocent civilians, displaced more than 100,000 people, and destroyed the infrastructure of the people in Gaza, in the last couple of weeks.”

“On the other side you have kids with rocks, and irregulars with rockets who have killed 2 civilians.”

“Martin Luther King once said, He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

“Israel has committed a monstrous evil by its massacre of innocent civilians. MANA refuses to passively accept that evil and chooses to protest against it, and if that protest involves burning a mere flag, then so be it.”

“Those condemning the burning of the flag might want to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves what it is that they are doing to protest against the massacre in Gaza.”

Reports: Aotearoa stands in solidarity with Palestine

tamaki palestine demo Fightback supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a tactic to show solidarity with Palestinian resistance. The following reports are from demonstrations over the weekend from Fightback activists and supporters.

In Auckland, around 3000 people turned out on a miserably cold day to protest the latest Israeli attacks on Gaza. The rally heard speakers including John Minto from Mana, Roger Fowler from Kia Ora Gaza, Marama Davidson and Kennedy Graham from the Greens, and Mike Treen from Global Peace and Justice Alliance. Two young Palestinian girls also addressed the rally. A loud, vibrant march down Queen Street followed, with colourful banners, Palestinian flags and placards, and chants of “Free, Free Palestine”. The march ended at the US Consulate where protesters laid olive branches in memory of the victims of Israel’s genocide. MANA candidate John Minto called for the closure of the Israeli embassy. The protest ended with a song from Roger Fowler, “We are all Palestinians”. The event raised over $1700 for Gaza Mental Health Fund.chch palestine demo In Christchurch over 200 people gathered outside the Cathedral after just a few days’ notice to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine. The rally, organised by ‘Canterbury for Justice in Palestine’ managed to raise $668 to go towards helping those in Gaza. Speakers included Martin & Lois of CJP, Brian Turner from the NZ Palestinian Human Rights lobby, Pauline McKay the current CWS director, Michael Hosking – long-time activist for Palestine, and Ben Peterson speaking on behalf of UNITE union. The crowd then marched down Colombo street and through Cashel Mall with chants of “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” – receiving many toots of support from passing motorists. Without any regard for the low temperatures, much of the crowd stuck around for half an hour after the end of the event to network and plan further actions and organising. The consensus was clear: only with justice for Palestine can we achieve peace. poneke wellington demo In Wellington, 300 people attended a rally outside the Israeli Embassy. A number of Palestinians spoke on their experiences in Palestine and the Middle East recently, as well as speakers from the Wellington Palestine and the Wellington Boycott Divestment and Sanctions groups. Like the recent protests against the Batsheva Dance Company performances in Wellington, around 50 fundamentalist Christians were bussed down from Napier/Hastings to stage a counter protest on a parallel street to the pro-Palestine rally.

A crowd upwards of two hundred marched in Dunedin‘s CBD on Saturday bringing the usual flurry of shopping traffic to a halt as pleas were chanted to ‘FREE FREE PALESTINE’. The demonstrators were met at the cities heart, the Octagon, by representatives of the Greens, Mana Party, and the local Muslim community, where, in the downpour of rain, they joined in solidarity for the people of Palestine, showing their commitment to oppose the Zionist regime of Israel, demanding that not only the people of New Zealand, and it’s Government, but also of the UN and International community, not stand by in silence as Israel continues its ethnic cleanse of the Palestinian people. The crowd occupied the Octagon for over an hour in communion, even with the presence of a lonesome four pro­-Israel individuals holding placards with anti­Hamas slogans.

There’s pride in resistance, not apartheid

After the disruption of Israeli pinkwashing at Pride 2014, GayNZ asked activists involved to submit an article. This contribution comes from Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (Aotearoa), an online network including members of Fightback.

We are Arabs, Jews, Māori, Pākehā, Asians. We are queer. We value the work that LGBTI activists before us have done to improve the lives of queers in Aotearoa and the world over. We value Pride for creating a queer-positive space where our community can come together and celebrate who we are.

But we are not proud that queer struggles are hijacked by the state of Israel in order to ‘pinkwash’ its colonial violence towards Palestinians. We were not proud to see the Embassy of Israel included in Auckland Pride. This is why we had to take a stand, to protect queer spaces from being complicit in Israeli apartheid.

Pride_Israeli_Protest_2_-_John_Darroch.jpg

For many, our protest came as a surprise. The Israeli embassy, however, had anticipated the presence of protesters. In a press release just days before the event, the embassy was clear that their participation in Pride was motivated, not by a desire to support LGBTI rights, but as a PR exercise in response to Wellington protests against an Israeli Embassy-sponsored dance show.

The cynical use of queer rights as a publicity strategy to create a positive, humane image for Israel is not new, nor is it exclusive to New Zealand. In 2011 the Jewish lesbian writer Sarah Schulman published an op-ed in the New York Times criticising Israel’s ‘strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life’. Other prominent queer Jews have echoed Schulman’s criticism of pinkwashing, including Judith Butler and Aeyal Gross.

The pinkwashing narrative presents a familiar racist trope: Arab societies are conservative, gender normative and homophobic. Israel is the only Middle-Eastern country where gays have equal rights. Queer Palestinians escaping persecution in their own communities relocate to Israel for asylum.

Pride_Israeli_Protest_3_-_John_Darroch.jpg

A 2008 report on gay Palestinian asylum seekers in Israel, published by Tel Aviv University’s Public Interest Law Program, presents a very different picture. The report found that gay Palestinians who escape to Israel live in the country illegally—since Palestinians are barred from applying for refugee status in Israel. This means that they are in constant danger of being deported back to communities where they will be subject to homophobic violence. Israeli security services have been known to exploit this vulnerability, and blackmail Palestinian gays into becoming informants.

Even for Jewish-Israelis, the country is not a queer-loving utopia. Two months ago a trans woman was viciously attacked on the streets of Tel Aviv. A gang of 11 men assaulted her with pepper spray and tasers. Israeli police were quick to dismiss the attack as a ‘prank’ and denied that it was motivated by transmisogyny. Her attackers, it turns out, were off-duty officers in Israel’s Border Police.

It’s not surprising that the same young men who spends weekdays shooting and tear-gassing Palestinians also spend their weekends assaulting trans women. This is the intersection of militarism and homophobia in which Palestinian and Israeli queers exist.

Palestinian queer organisations like al-Qaws, Aswat and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions have called on the global queer community to support their struggle against both Israeli apartheid and queerphobia. That call has been answered around the world, by groups like Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Canada, No Pride in Israeli Apartheid in the UK, and Black Laundry in Israel.

Pride_Israeli_Protest_4_-_John_Darroch.jpg

It’s out of a desire to support Palestinian queers, and in the tradition of intersectional queer politics, that we decided to take a public stand against the Israeli Embassy’s float at Auckland Pride. We know that some of our fellow queers think that Pride is not the appropriate time or place to make a political statement about Middle East politics. The argument that we shouldn’t mix pride parades with global politics sounds an awful lot like the 1980s argument that anti-apartheid protesters shouldn’t mix rugby with politics. We were not the ones who chose to use Pride as a platform for discussing Israel. The Israeli Embassy are the ones who decided to hijack a gay pride event and exploit to uphold a progressive image of a state that subjects its Indigenous inhabitants to apartheid.

Our queer politics are rooted in the principle of ‘no one left behind’. We do not accept the advancement of gay men at the expense of lesbians, or of cis queers at the expense of trans people. We also cannot accept the advancement of any queers at the expense of Palestinians.

Pride_Israeli_Protest_5_-_John_Darroch.jpg

We recognise the link between colonisation of Palestine, and colonisation of Oceania and Aotearoa. Tagata Pasifika and tangata whenua gender and sexual diversity were violently displaced through the colonisation of this region. We celebrate the first ever Pasefika LGBT Youth float at Pride 2014. The hijacking of Pride to promote apartheid detracts from this celebration of diversity and solidarity.

We urge Auckland Pride—and all LGBT organisations in Aotearoa—to take a stand in solidarity with queer Palestinians and refuse to help Israel pinkwash its human rights abuses. There is no pride in being complicit with Israeli apartheid.

All pictures by John Darroch

Wellington action: Don’t dance with Israeli apartheid

batsheva israeli apartheid wellington

This year’s NZ Festival includes four performances by the Israeli Batsheva dance company.

Batsheva is an integral part of Israel’s Brand Israel public relations campaign. The dance company receives funding from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has described Batsheva as ‘the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture’.

Batsheva’s performance at NZ Festival is sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in New Zealand. One of the embassy’s roles is to enhance Israel’s public image in New Zealand by sponsoring Israeli cultural events such as this one. This is part of a deliberate strategy of using arts and culture to whitewash over Israel’s human rights abuses and violations of international law.

We will be outside Batsheva’s performance to protest Batsheva’s role in whitewashing Israeli apartheid. This is part of the global campaign of BDS (boycott, divestments, and sanctions) initiated by Palestinian civil society.

Organised by BDS Wellington.

7:30pm, Saturday 22nd February, St James Theatre

[Facebook event]

Wellington rally in solidarity with Gaza

12pm, Saturday 24th November
Cuba Mall bucket fountain

Facebook event

43rd anniversary of the PFLP’s founding

 

Tens of thousands of members and  supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine gathered on December 11, 2010, in Gaza City’s Palestine Stadium, marking the forty-third anniversary of the PFLP’s founding in a mass rally.

Palestinians from all sectors – men and women, elderly and children, workers and farmers, attended the rally from all sectors of Gaza City, and traveling in groups from throughout the Gaza Strip, waving red flags that filled the stadium.

[Read more…]

Palestinian Organisations added to the New Zealand ‘Terrorist List’

The Spark December 2010 – January 2011

Mike Walker

On the 12th of October 2010 John Key designated “a further seven international terrorist groups under the Terrorism Suppression Act”.  He claimed it helped “implement our international obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373”. Under this pretence the addition of Palestinian organisations, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the military wing of Hamas (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), to the New Zealand list of designated terrorists, is especially problematic. To highlight the hypocrisy and contradiction involved in these designations I will examine parts of the Terrorist Designations Working Groups (TDWG) paper; “Statement of case to designate the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as a terrorist entity”.

Terrorist Acts

A terrorist act is defined in the ‘Terrorist Suppression Act (TSA)’, section five, as an act which is carried out “for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause” or to “induce terror in a civilian population.” With outcomes such as “the death of, or serious bodily injury to, one or more persons”, “a serious risk to the health or safety of a population” or the “destruction of, or serious damage to, property of great value or importance, or major economic loss, or major environmental damage”.  The case to designate PIJ features two case studies, used to highlight terrorist acts and support the case for designation. [Read more…]

Deaths in the class war

Don Franks
The Spark September 2010

Last month saw two New Zealand soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and the
first New Zealand soldier killed.

Led by Prime minister John Key, who ordered an unprecedented lowering
of national flags across the country, politicians and news media
launched a lengthy storm of militaristic propaganda. [Read more…]

“PFLP Solidarity Campaign interviews Leila Khaled, Palestine’s leading revolutionary woman”

Date: 30/09/2010

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Solidarity Campaign is happy to announce the release of the first part of an interview with Leila Khaled. PFLP Solidarity Campaign co-ordinator Mike Walker conducted the interview via Skype with Leila at her home in Amman, Jordan on the 6th April this year.

Leila Khaled is often referred to as a terrorist by her enemies, the United States and the State of Israel. But in the Occupied Territories, the Gaza Strip and the countless refugee camps scattered throughout the Arab world she is a revolutionary hero, a freedom fighter and the embodiment of the Palestinian militant struggle against Zionism and Imperialism in the Middle East and for freedom and self-determination.

Leila Khaled and the PFLP shot to international attention when Leila became the first woman to hi-jack a commercial airliner on August 29th 1969. Leila made the pilot divert the plane over Haifa, where she was born but has never been allowed to visit, eventually allowing the plane to land in Damascus, Syria. The passengers were disembarked and the plane was blown up in front of the international media. Golda Meir had stated that June that “There was no such thing as Palestinians”, but Leila Khaled and the PFLP had put the Palestinian struggle firmly onto the world stage, where it could no longer be ignored.

Today Leila is a core member of the PFLP and serves on its Politburo, dealing primarily with the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees. Walker stated that “Leila is a true revolutionary woman that has dedicated her life to the struggle of Palestinians for their right to self-determination, and to return home.” “Leila is an inspiration to us all,” he continued.

Leila Khaled finished the interview by stating that she had “a message for the New Zealanders.” She then warned that we should all “beware Zionism. Nazism caused humanity twenty two million casualties and the destruction of Europe. What do you think that Zionism will do, do we need a third world war? We have to stop the expansion of the Zionist ideology and policy.”

The interview is available at http://wpnz-pflp-solidarity.blogspot.com/p/leila-khaled-interview.html

A full transcript or audio is available on request.