3 December 2009 Edition
Week of solidarity against apartheid walls in Palestine and Gaza siege
BY KEVIN SQUIRES & FREDA HUGHES
THE Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign took part in this year’s International Week of Solidarity called by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.
An international call to activists was put out to launch a week of global mobilisation from 9 to 16 November.
The IPSC used the opportunity to highlight the necessity of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, with specific reference to the ongoing role of Irish construction company CRH (formerly Cement Roadstone Holdings) in the building of the Apartheid Wall and illegal colonial settlements in the West Bank.
Also highlighted was the ongoing, brutal and medieval-style siege of Gaza and the devastating aftermath of Israel’s winter offensive on the tiny coastal strip which left over 1,400 Palestinians dead and thousands wounded and homeless.
The aim was to promote as many different voices showing solidarity with the Palestinian people as possible and to raise awareness among mainstream Irish civil society of Israel’s apartheid policies, the ongoing plight of Palestinians, and their heroic struggle to resist ethnic cleansing.
To this end, a series of film screenings, public meetings and fundraisers were hosted in Cork, Tullamore, Limerick, Belfast, Maynooth, Galway, Kilkenny, and Dublin. A national demonstration was held in Dublin on Saturday, 14 November.
‘STORY OF A MARTYR’
Bassem Abu Rahmah was a non-violent anti-Apartheid Wall activist from the West Bank village of Bil’in. On 17 April 2009 he was murdered by the Israeli military when he was shot at point-blank range in the chest with a tear gas canister. The film, Bassem Abu Rahmah – Story of a Martyr, looks at the situation in Bil’in through the lens of Bassem’s short life. It was watched by captive audiences in Cork, Dublin, Maynooth, Galway, Belfast and Limerick.
At all screenings (except Cork), International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists Evie Soli and Pete St. John-Jones gave presentations and answered questions about the non-violent struggle in Bil’in.
Voices of the Silenced Majority, Occupation 101 is a multi-award-winning 2006 documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film focuses on the effects of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and discusses events from the rise of Zionism to the Second Intifada. It includes interviews with scholars, religious leaders, humanitarian workers, and NGO representatives.
‘Occupation 101’ was shown by the IPSC’s two university branches in NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth.
Tear Down the Wall, a short documentary made by David Mottershead and Daniela Gross, is about the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s BDS campaign seeking CRH (the Irish construction materials giant) divestment from Israel and an end to their complicity with the oppression of the Palestinian people.
The short six-minute film was screened before showings of the other films around the country and was greeted with a very positive reception.
On Friday 13 November, John Hurson of Free Gaza and John Dorman, IPSC Divestment Officer, spoke in Tullamore at a meeting chaired by Cormac Lally of the IPSC.
Ger Cassidy of Viva Palestina and Alan Lonergan of the Free Gaza Movement spoke at a public meeting in Kilkenny on Wednesday, 11 November, chaired by John Heddon of the IPSC. They spoke about their plans to take part in the international siege breaking convergence on Gaza that will coincide with the anniversary of Israel’s 2008/09 winter attack on the besieged coastal strip.
Sameh Habeeb came to University College Dublin on Monday 16 November for a talk on campus organised by the just-founded Irish Anti-War Movement UCD Student Branch, in association with the IPSC. The talk also featured speakers Andy Storey, Kieran Allen and Julien Mercille, all lecturers at UCD.
On Saturday 14 November, hundreds of Palestinians and solidarity activists rallied in Dublin to protest against Israel’s apartheid practices in Palestine. The rally was addressed by Freda Hughes (IPSC PRO), renowned Irish human rights activist Caoimhe Butterly, Ger Cassidy (Viva Palestina), Sameh Habeeb (Gazan Journalist and human rights activist), John Hurson (‘Where Do the Children Play?’), Pete St John-Jones (International Solidarity Activist in Bil’in).
Speakers highlighted the brutality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, with particular reference to the siege of Gaza and Israel’s Apartheid Walls in Palestine. They spoke of their efforts, both in Ireland and in Palestine, to raise awareness among civil and political society, as well as their various efforts to help people on the ground in Palestine. Freda Hughes, the IPSC PRO, stressed the need to build a broad-based, social mass movement to convey the reality of the situation in Palestine to mainstream society.
Following the speeches, protesters marched around the central reservation on O’Connell Street, chanting slogans in support of the Palestinian people, carrying colourful flags, placards and banners in a loud and spirited demonstration.
After the rally, an IPSC press conference was addressed by Peter McLoone (General Secretary of IMPACT), Sameh Habeeb (Gazan journalist and human rights worker), and journalist Harry Browne. John Dorman, the IPSC’s Divestment Officer, officially launched the IPSC’s campaign aimed at building public support to convince Irish multinational CRH to divest from Israel.
Concluding the meeting, David Landy, Chair of the IPSC, encouraged people to get involved, either at home by getting involved in the IPSC and the BDS campaign, or by visiting Palestine to see the suffering of the people first-hand and getting involved with grassroots and NGO campaigns there.