If you are neutral in situations of injustice…

olive harvest in Azmut #7
Image by michaelramallah via Flickr

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor – Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

If you were interested in the issues raised in my last but one post, you may also be interested in these two organisations. Both have websites and both can be followed on Twitter.

But first a bit of background as to my involvement.

My own interest in the Middle East has its roots in my school days in Edinburgh where one of my class mates was an Israeli girl. She and her family lived in Edinburgh for two years while her father studied for a PhD at the university in the city. She and I have been friends now for almost forty years.

I first went to Israel when I was a student. As well as seeing the sights and spending time with my friend when she was on leave from national service, I spent time on a kibbutz in the Golan Heights. I made another visit in 1993 just after the signing of the Oslo accord – something that my friend’s husband Ilan (mentioned in my last but one post) was involved in. In fact I have a ‘conversation piece’ photograph on a shelf in my living-room of Ilan and Yasser Arafat. First time visitors to our house are often distracted from their tea and cake by this picture.

That visit in ‘93 was amazing. The optimism in Israel at the time was wonderful – the Palestinian flag was draped from balconies and flown from car windows – something that had been illegal before the accord. It seemed the trouble was over. But, sadly, it wasn’t. And now with the wall and the resulting intifada things are worse than ever.

But there are many good people – my friends included – who continue strive to win a just peace in this very troubled part of the world. And I commend the two organisations below to you.

Firstly – The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

The following is from their website http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (intifada). The SPSC has branches and groups of supporters in several Scottish cities and universities, as well as individual members across Scotland. We are all volunteers, independent of all political formations, and wholly dependent on donations to finance our activities. We are unaligned with any Palestinian factions and support the right of the Palestinian people as a whole to self-determination.
We work with a generally sympathetic Scottish public at every level from the Parliament to street publicity events.

In 2002, Mick Napier, the Chair of the Scottish PSC, received on behalf of the Campaign that year’s Muslim News Award for Excellence for championing a Muslim cause.

We detect a huge shift in popular support away from Israel and towards support for the human and national rights of the Palestinian people. We are committed to building effective solidarity with the people of Palestine – solidarity which can send a message of hope inside the ghettos Israel is now building across the whole of Palestine, and which will also send a message to people in Israel that they will face mounting world-wide opposition if they continue along their present path.

There is always a need to educate the public about the history of Palestine, its present day realities, and the real danger of Israel accelerating its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the future. We believe, however, despite general press and official UK Government positions of support for Israeli crimes, that a sufficient awareness has been reached among broad sectors of public opinion to sustain a successful campaign of active protest against Israeli crimes in Palestine and the wider region.

All the various activities of the SPSC are related in some way to the Palestinian appeal for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli companies and state-supported institutions. We have identified Israel’s Achilles’ Heel: while the regional super-power can kill lightly-armed Palestinians with virtual impunity, the Zionist State has become deeply unpopular around the world and vulnerable to boycott. Wherever we unearth institutional collaboration with Israel in Scottish society, whether in universities, city councils, and the Scottish Parliament, we are able to challenge it with every chance of succeeding. We are always working to solve the fundamental problem of how the many citizens already sympathetic to Palestine can make a real difference.

Working for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel:
The major part of our work, therefore, is responding to the appeal from the entirety of Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, as long as the Zionist State denies Palestinian human rights and violates international law. The SPSC focuses on specific targets where we can measure our successes and setbacks.

and secondly – The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

The following is from their website http://popularstruggle.org/

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee was formed by prominent activists in the popular committees from all over the Occupied Territories and across the Palestinian political spectrum. Popular committees present a unique form of community based organizing and resistance in the tradition of the first Palestinian Intifada. These diverse, non-partisan committees lead community resistance to Israeli occupation in various forms, such as marches, strikes, demonstrations, direct actions and legal campaigns, as well as supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The Coordination Committee was formed to facilitate fruitful communication between the different popular committees: from the villages of Bil’in, Ni’ilin and alMaasara – known for their struggle against the wall – through the many villages of the Jordan Valley and South Mount Hebron – facing attempts of creeping ethnic cleansing to Tulkarem, Nablus, Qalqilya and West Ramallah – who all suffer and resist the various aspects of the Occupation. The committee aims to provide a base for strategic thinking on a wider scale, while retaining the independence and uniqueness of each popular committee.

Rooted in a stern belief in the power of the popular struggle to overthrow Israel’s occupation, the committee’s main objective is to encourage and strengthen the grassroots Palestinian resistance and accommodate its needs. Hoping to echo the ANC’s strategy of ungovernability, the Coordination Committee strives to encourage the emergence of new committees and initiatives and support them, regardless of their affiliation.

The success of the popular struggle also relies heavily on the support of the international community through BDS initiatives, financial aid, increased visibility and direct solidarity. The Coordination Committee aims at strengthening international support networks and their direct ties to the struggle for liberty in Palestine.

And here endeth the trio of human rights pieces. Thank you for reading. I hope you’ve at least found them informative and have maybe visited one or two of the websites.

What human rights issues are close to your heart? Share what you know about them. Support the front line. The written word can be mighty…

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