INFORMATION FOR ACTION
WITH CASUALITIES MOUNTING IN GAZA AND NO SIGN OF A MEANINGFUL CEASEFIRE IN SIGHT, ASKS: WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT FROM BRITAIN?
Go To Palestine
In recent years many British activists have done exactly this. Admittedly going to Gaza would be very difficult and dangerous right now, though there are several British activists currently there, including Jenny Linnel and Ewa Jasciewicz, whose dramatic reports featured in last week’s SchNEWS. International activists often work with the ISM, a Palestinian-led group that does non-violent direct action, human shield and other support work (see SchNEWS 544 , http://palsolidarity.org). A group from Brighton has also sent several delegations in the past year to the Tubas region, helping Palestinians whose lives are under threat from the encroaching illegal Israeli settlements and army (See SchNEWS 584 , SchNEWS 609 , SchNEWS 652 , www.brightonpalestine.org).
For those unable to do this, there are numerous ways in Britain to vent your anger against the massacre in Gaza.
Target The Arms Trade
There is a building movement of campaigns focusing on arms companies in Britain. These groups arose from the anti-war movement in 2003, and borne out of frustration that 1.5 million people on the streets of London and a host of other huge demos didn’t change government policy. There are arms corporations who have manufacturing and offices in this country, and virtually all have a role in arming Israel – though wherever the arms are being deployed, they need to be stopped. Currently the most active campaigns in Britain include Smash EDO (www.smashedo.org.uk) - in the process of closing down EDO-MBM/ITT in Brighton, who make bomb release parts for the Paveway missile used in Israel; Smash Raytheon (http://raytheonout.wordpress.com) - building a campaign against the Bristol base of the US arms giant who make the radar for the F-16 bombers used on Gaza, plus bombs and missiles such as the GBU-39 bunker-buster – as the rooftop occupation goes into its sixth week (See SchNEWS 661). In Nottingham, the main warehouse of Heckler & Koch has become a target (http://nottsantimilitarism.wordpress.com).
* Smash EDO Demos - Noise demos continue every Wednesday between 4-6pm at the EDO-MBM/ITT factory on Home Farm Road, Brighton. There will be monthly themed demos throughout the spring, starting next week
** On January 21st “Naming the Dead” in Gaza outside EDO – with an accompanying die-in.
Other military hardware companies selling their wares to Israel: Boeing – who make Apache helicopters and hellfire missiles and Thales who make Watchkeeper drones can both be found side by side with Raytheon at Bristol Business Park, Frenchay; Caterpillar – whose armoured bulldozers are used to flatten Palestinian homes - Head Office, Mansour House, 188, Bath Road, Slough, Berkshire UK, SL1 3GA. There have been actions against Caterpillar – see SchNEWS 351 , SchNEWS 446 , SchNEWS 454 ; Israel Military Industries, Eurotaas (EUTA) Ltd, 12 York Gate, London NW1 4QS
* Demo, Jan 19th at UAV Engines - a company owned by Israeli defence contractor Elbit systems who build engines for military aircraft used by Israel. Their premises is at Lynn Lane, Shenstone, Litchfield, WS14 0DT. Meet 11.15am at Shenstone Railway Station.
Boycott Israeli Goods
There is a list of shops in this country who sell Israeli goods, and Israeli companies doing business here. One company who are the target for an ongoing campaign is Carmel Agrexco, based in Hayes Middlesex. CA are 50% Israeli owned, import produce grown on illegally settled Palestinian land, and have been the target of many actions in the past five years including a 12 hour blockade last October (for just some see SchNEWS 571 , SchNEWS 585 , SchNEWS 600 , SchNEWS 609 , SchNEWS 620 , SchNEWS 637 , SchNEWS 649 )
Valentines Day is a busy time for Carmel as they flog Israeli-grown flowers across Europe, and the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign is calling for actions in the weeks leading up to this, Feb 1st-14th. Organise your own actions and see www.bigcampaign.org
* Boycott companies that have links with Israel: Coca Cola, Burger King, Starbucks, l’Oreal, McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson, Estée Lauder, Disney, and Nestle all donate/actively support the Israeli Government. Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks and Spencers stock goods from illegal settlements. Check the first 3 numbers on the barcode: 729 is from Israel. www.inminds.com/boycott-israel.php#companies
* Do a supermarket action – Get a group together, and go around with a large trolley and fill it with goods made in Israel, then leave it in the middle of the aisle with a big note saying “I was gonna buy these goods until I realised they are from stolen Palestinian lands and using slave Palestianian labour. Stop the Gaza massacre!” In Brighton there is a week of supermarket actions: Sat 17th, 12pm-2pm - Waitrose, Western Road; Mon 19th 5-6pm - Somerfield, London Road; Tues 5-6pm - Sainsburys, New England Qtr; Weds 5-6pm - Tescos, New Church Rd, Hove; Thurs 5-6pm - Somerfield, St James St; Fri 5-6pm - Marks & Spencer, Western Rd.
* Other companies involved with Israel – Veolia, a privatised contractor involved in amongst other things recycling, were forced to withdraw a project for a tramway in East Jerusalem which their subsidiary company Luas was involved in after protests from the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5723.shtml. Ahava - Dead Sea Cosmetics - 39 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, London, WC21T 9DD
* For more info about boycotting Israel see www.bigcampaign.org
Street Demonstrations Continue
When the latest attack began on December 27th, demos took off around the country. Many British cities have seen big street demos already, but there's another round this Saturday (17th).
London - the third Saturday city centre demo in a row - 2pm at Trafalgar Square.
** Nottingham - 10.30am, Forest Recreation Ground, marching to the Council House.
** Birmingham – 12 noon, Victoria Square
** Sheffield – 12 noon, outside Sheffield Town Hall.
** Liverpool - 1pm outside the bombed out church at the top of Bold St
** Leeds - 12.30pm at Art Gallery for march through city centre. Bring shoes and placards.
** Cardiff - 1pm, Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street
** Exeter - 12.30pm outside Odeon Cinema, Sidwell Street
** Bath - 12.30pm, Abbey Courtyard,
** Newport - 1.30pm at the old Kwik Save Car Park in Pill, marching to John Frost Square
* Gaza Vigil At Parliament Square - Support the ongoing the 24hr vigil which has been going on since January 8th. Maria Gallastegui has been on hunger strike at the vigil since the 12th.
* Daily demos outside the Israeli Embassy, 5-7pm. 2 Palace Green, London, W8.
* Brighton Gaza Vigil – daily, 1-2pm, 5-6pm, at the Clocktower
* Live video link with Gaza and public meeting – 7.30pm, 16th January, Community Base South Wing, 113 Queens Road, Brighton
Actions this week
* The biggest of the street demos across the country last weekend was in London, where 100,000 people marched on the Israeli Embassy last Saturday in freezing weather - the largest ever demonstration in support of the Palestinians in Britain. www.indymedia.org.uk
* Starbucks in Whitechapel was firebombed on Monday night (12th) in an apparently anti-Israel action. First rocks were thrown through the windows and later a petrol bomb was tossed in...
* This Wednesday, activists stormed the offices of the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in Great Portland St, a lobby group playing a key role in Israel’s public relations operation, downplaying the number of Palestinian dead and manipulating the news agenda. The office was temporarily shut down as photos of civilian casualties from Gaza were pasted onto computer screens, phone lines were cut off and leaflets distributed highlighting the the human cost of Israeli aggression.
* The Brunei Gallery at the School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) was occupied this Tuesday, after the Uni gave the MoD space to display photos glorifying colonialism, but then gave into demands to ban the military on campus. The exhibition was closed, and the students are using the gallery all week for Palestinian solidarity. www.soassolidarity4gaza.blogspot.com
* On Tuesday (12th) Brighton saw a daring banner drop on the precarious West Pier – although nothing like as precarious as life in the Gaza strip of course, a region about as big as the coastal strip from Worthing to Seaford but with three times the population. www.freegaza.org
Real News About Gaza
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For being out of tune...
A young Jewish man was arrested in London on Sunday (11th) after singing at the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, during his speech at an End Hamas Terror (pro-Israel) rally.
Perched on the edge of a Trafalgar Square fountain, Dovid Von Neumann accused the Rabbi of being unrepresentative of the Jewish community in his claims that British Jews supported Israel’s current military action. He then sang the well known child’s Chanukah song ‘Sevivon sov sov sov’ (Spinning-top, spin spin spin).
The ongoing Israeli bombing of Gaza began during the festival of Chanukah when Jewish children around the world receive the traditional gift of a four sided spinning-top (sevivon in Hebrew, driedel in Yiddish). Today these are mostly made from plastic, but once upon a time they were cast in lead - hence Operation Cast Lead, the name given by Israel to its current Gaza incursion.
Dovid explains: “I wished to highlight the insidiousness of how the current Israeli invasion into Gaza was named after a child’s toy made from a highly toxic material - lead - and how Palestinian children have been at the mercy of such randomly falling deathly devices. It’s as if Israel had the lead sevivon in mind as a metaphorical present to Palestinian children.”
Dovid was held for a number of hours by Metropolitan Police until the demonstration was over, then released without charge.
Frankfurt Airport, in direct competition with Heathrow in the plane stupidity stakes, are definitely back in the game as German company Fraport began work for the expansion of the airport on Tuesday. A planned new runway through the Kelsterbach Forest will claim 100,000 trees in a 300 hectare area of forestry (see SchNEWS 645 ).
The Huttendorf resistance camp, which sprang up in May last year, are busy with actions despite the anticipated eviction attempt from the boys in blue following a police search and photographing of the camp. A 200 metre fence has now been erected by construction workers sectioning off the first of the proposed trees to get the chop. By German law all felling must be completed by March so it looks likely that they will (try) to start up their chainsaws soon. Over a hundred people gathered on Tuesday with flares by the perimeter fence and there are further demos planned all week culminating in a mass action at the airport this Saturday.
* Check out www.earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/21343 for directions and details of the camp or visit www.waldbesetzung.blogsport.de (in German) for more info.
As reported last week, Free Gaza’s last attempt to breach the Israeli blockade saw The Dignity being rammed by the Israeli navy in international waters. We also reported on their determination not to give in to violence and intimidation and to launch another boat as soon as possible. And so they did. On Wednesday (14th) they launched The Spirit of Humanity from a Cypriot port carrying medical supplies, medical personnel, journalists and humanitarian activists.
Determined to remove any excuse for attacking The Spirit, Free Gaza notified the Israeli government of the boat’s departure and route and provided them with a full list of passengers and cargo. They also had the Cypriot Port Authorities carry out a thorough search of the vessel in order to certify that it only carried humanitarian supplies.
Shortly before departure however, Free Gaza were warned by Cypriot authorities that the Israeli government had contacted their embassy in Tel Aviv and warned them that they felt “justified” in using “any means available” to forcibly prevent the mercy ship from arriving in Gaza.
They’ve been true to their word. Just hours after leaving, The Spirit was surrounded by at least five Israeli gunboats who started to cut recklessly in front of it before radioing and threatening to open fire if it didn’t turn back. When asked if the Israeli navy was acknowledging that they intended to commit a war crime by deliberately firing on unarmed civilians, the warships repeated their government’s line that they would use ‘any means’ to stop the boat.
Having already proved they really are willing to use ‘any means’ necessary, even breaching international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and attacking civilians on a humanitarian mission, The Spirit has turned around and is now returning to Cyprus.
* For more information see http://freegaza.org
THE RUSHING REVOLUTION
Despite the rhetoric, Brown unsurprisingly gave the go-ahead to a third runway for Heathrow this week (15th) – ignoring climate experts, campaigners and local residents.
But the protests continue, this time from the ‘Posh Blok’: Greenpeace have teamed up with actress Emma Thompson, comedian Alistair McGowan and Eco-Tory-boy Zac Goldsmith to buy a plot of land right in the middle of the proposed runway. The land is to be divided up amongst thousands of co-owners (to get your plot go to www.greenpeace.org.uk), turning any attempts at a compulsory purchase order into a hideously expensive legal nightmare.
This Monday (12th) saw ‘Climate Rush’, as 500 turned out to Heathrow in Edwardian dress - referencing the suffragette movement – to protest about the third runway and have a picnic, with a string quartet, performance artists, art installations and a giant conga line around the departure lounge. They were met by equal numbers in another type of costume, but the protesters managed to keep it up for several hours, and there were no arrests.
But it’s not just posh southerners. On the same day Manchester Airport was also targeted as 50 climate change activists gathered in terminal 3 to protest airport expansion and domestic flights.
* An update after the Plane Stupid action at Stansted Airport on December 8th where 60 cut through the security fence and staged a sit-in on the tarmac, causing over 50 Ryanair flights to be cancelled or delayed (See SchNEWS 659): Ryanair are suing Stansted Airport for their lax security, seeking £2.5 million for lost revenue and damages, and have not ruled out going after Plane Stupid as well. This really would be plain stupid, trying to recover cash from a load of skint student and activist types.
* See also www.planestupid.com
GREEC-ING THE WHEELS OF POWER
Following the shooting of 15-year old Alexis Grigoropoulos by police, there were weeks of rioting against the Greek police and state ( SchNEWS 659 ). And while things have quietened down it's still kicking off in Greece: Last Saturday, on the anniversary of the 1991 murder of Nikos Temponeras, a professor who was bludgeoned to death by a right-wing activist, youths fought with police following a demo against education reforms.
Many universities and schools across Greece are under occupation by students and the building of the Journalists’ Union is occupied by young people and employees in the media. In solidarity with the revolt of December they are also focusing on employment problems and pushing the mainstream media for alternative coverage of the actions.
Such resistance faces repression by the state as the Greek Prime Minister has said he will get tough with the demonstrators. Over 270 people have been arrested in connection with the actions. 67 people have been detained, while 50 immigrants have been rapidly condemned to 18 months of imprisonment followed by deportation. 19 arrestees face charges under the anti-terrorist law.
The war on Gaza has inspired many actions and demos in Greece - and one small victory has been achieved with just the threat of a march taking place. There was a call-out last Saturday by The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine calling upon the Greece govt to halt the planned shipment of US arms to Israel from the port of Astakos, and a demo was planned for Thursday. But before it could even take place the shipment was called off. The reasons are unclear but while the international media are saying it was a Pentagon decision, local media are suggesting that it was a nervous Greek government that pulled the plug.
* Read more about the situation in Greece: www.occupiedlondon.org/blog
Climbing the property ladder the unconventional way: The Da! Collective are moving up in the world. Early last year the champagne squatters were evicted from a Mayfair mansion, worth over 6 million quid, owned by the billionaire Duke of Westminster.
But, proving that squatters in London don’t have a Monopoly on low rent dives on the Old Kent Road, this enterprising group of well heeled cheeky game players took a Chance and nipped round the corner (not passing Go or collecting £200) for some more Free Parking - taking residence in a £22.5 million property instead!
Far from living the lifestyle of the idle rich though, the artists collective has been cracking open the Community Chest by holding open house workshops on everything from tree house building to ‘Deschooling Society’. Who knows, maybe they’ll paint the place red and open it as a hotel.
The alleged owner tried to evict the squatters but failed to prove he was the, er, owner! The next hearing is not expected until late in the month and if housing prices continue to crash at the current rate then by the time they get them out, the gaff will be worth as much as a two-bed terrace in Whitechapel. More info at www.temporaryschool.org
SchNEWS warns all readers - don't worry about being legal - it's not something the Israelis seem bothered about. Honest!