Shukran, Israel

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

IF ISLAMIST movements come to power all over the region, they should express their debt of gratitude to their bête noire, Israel.

Without the active or passive help of successive Israeli governments, they may not have been able to realize their dreams.

That is true in Gaza, in Beirut, in Cairo and even in Tehran.

LET’S TAKE the example of Hamas.

All over the Arab lands, dictators have been faced with a dilemma. They could easily close down all political and civic activities, but they could not close the mosques. In the mosques people could congregate in order to pray, organize charities and, secretly, set up political organizations. Before the days of Twitter and Facebook, that was the only way to reach masses of people. Continue reading

Egype post-revolution

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Israel is mobilizing their US funded and equipped army and navy to deal with peace activists on the boats  trying to visit Gaza and will likely attack them Friday morning.  For regular updates and video feed, see and see this LA Times story


Some of us scheduled to go on the boats to Gaza* but were not permitted to get on the boat are now visiting Egypt post-revolution.  One of us was held at the Cairo airport for nearly 8 hours making us think that change still has a long way to go here.  Please let us know if you have Egyptian contacts we can connect with especially those who can brief us on the changes in the society post-Mubarak.  The Israeli occupation authorities did this last July with the Europeans trying to visit us in the West Bank (through arriving at airport in the Welcome to Palestine Campaign) and before that in blocking freedom flotillas and murdering peace activists like Rachel Corrie and like Turkish visitors.  The incident is uncomfortable for Israel because it exposes an apartheid system built on racism and violence. The best evidence of this is to compare the peaceful nature of those of us who tried or did get on the boats with the vicious verbal attack (prelude to the actual navy attacks) on the flotilla ships. Here are things to contrast:

Continue reading

Global Intifada Reaches the US and more

New Bypass Road takes Beit Ommar and Schoukh Land
New Bypass Road takes Beit Ommar and Schoukh Land

New Bypass Road takes Beit Ommar and Schoukh Land

Every day brings some good news on the shaking of the status quo in a positive direction. In my last book and in my writings elsewhere, I predicted that the next intifada (uprising) would be global. The Arab spring in the past few months gave renewed energy and it has spread to even Tel Aviv and New York. But the empire strikes back; settlers go on rampages/pogroms attacking peace activists and burning another mosque, peace activists get arrested by the hundreds, the CIA assassinates US citizens without trial, Israel accelerates its colonial activities, US allied government of Bahrain imprisons many demonstrators, US congress cuts humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians under occupation (an act of extortion on the behest of the Israel lobby), and more.  But if anything, these actions show that we are in the final stage of this epic.  It only means we should work harder together to be the change we want to see in this world. Read below about BDS successes and the spread of memes of information that is making the racist elites lash out in irrational behaviors that ultimately will bring them down. Stay tuned or better yet, let us all get into the streets and march for freedom.

Israeli settlers attack Israeli activists & journalists; 19 injured, 3 hospitalized


Testimonies (key points highlighted): (eng) (heb)

New Bypass Road takes Beit Ommar and Schoukh Land

BDS Success 1: 218 signed the call for a Swedish academic boycott of Israel

Action Group at KTH for Boycott of Israel

Coordinating Committee of BDS Sweden

BDS Success 2: Ahava finally closes its doors in London
Cosmetics company Ahava is finally to close its controversial Covent Garden store this week, and manager Odelia Haroush said that the company had no plans to move elsewhere in the city, at least for the foreseeable future. Demonstrations by pro-Palestinian activists have dogged the store for years. Protesters claim the products sold in the store are manufactured in a factory in Mitzpe Shalom, an Israeli settlement.

From “If Americans Knew”: Ethnic cleansing has been an integral part of the Palestinian tragedy from the earliest days of the Partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel. October marks the anniversaries of 10 massacres of Palestinian villagers in 1948, as well as a massacre carried out by a unit led by Ariel Sharon in 1953 and another in 1956 in which Israeli border police killed 48, including 6 women (one of them pregnant) and 23 children aged 8–17. To commemorate these dates, we ask you to help fight the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by sharing the booklet  <> “Palestinian Right to Return and Repatriation,” by Mazin Qumsiyeh, which details the plight of Palestinian refugees and lists the many massacres Palestinians suffered during the creation of Israel. Please order copies to give out to your neighbors, friends, coworkers or strangers, on your campuses, in your congregations, on the street, at a public event or at a private gathering.

Global intifada reaches the USA: 700 “arrested” in New York and protests spread to many cities around the US,0,6859500.story

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

The Return of the Generals

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

SINCE THE beginning of the conflict, the extremists of both sides have always played into each other’s hands. The cooperation between them was always much more effective than the ties between the corresponding peace activists.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” asked the prophet Amos (3:3). Well, seems they can.

This was proved again this week.

AT THE beginning of the week, Binyamin Netanyahu was desperately looking for a way out of an escalating internal crisis. The social protest movement was gathering momentum and posing a growing danger to his government.

The struggle was going on, but the protest had already made a huge difference. The whole content of the public discourse had changed beyond recognition.

Social ideas were taking over, pushing aside the hackneyed talk about “security”. TV talk show panels, previously full of used generals, were now packed with social workers and professors of economics. One of the consequences was that women were also much more prominent.

And then it happened. A small extremist Islamist group in the Gaza Strip sent a detachment into the Egyptian Sinai desert, from where it easily crossed the undefended Israeli border and created havoc. Several fighters (or terrorists, depends who is talking) succeeded in killing eight Israeli soldiers and civilians, before some of them were killed. Another four of their comrades were killed on the Egyptian side of the border. The aim seems to have been to capture another Israeli soldier, to strengthen the case for a prisoner exchange on their terms.

In a jiffy, the economics professors vanished from the TV screens, and their place was taken by the old gang of exes – ex-generals, ex-secret-service chiefs, ex-policemen, all male, of course, accompanied by their entourage of obsequious military correspondents and far-right politicians.

With a sigh of relief, Netanyahu returned to his usual stance. Here he was, surrounded by generals, the he-man, the resolute fighter, the Defender of Israel.

IT WAS, for him and his government, an incredible stroke of luck.

It can be compared to what happened in 1982. Ariel Sharon, then Minister of Defense, had decided to attack the Palestinians and Syrians in Lebanon, He flew to Washington to obtain the necessary American agreement. Alexander Haig told him that the US could not agree, unless there was a “credible provocation”.

A few days later, the most extreme Palestinian group, led by Abu Nidal, Yasser Arafat’s mortal enemy, made an attempt on the life of the Israeli ambassador in London, paralyzing him irreversibly. That was certainly a “credible provocation”. Lebanon War I was on its way.

This week’s attack was also an answer to a prayer. Seems that God loves Netanyahu and the military establishment. The incident not only wiped the protest off the screen, it also put an end to any serious chance of taking billions off the huge military budget in order to strengthen the social services. On the contrary, the event proved that we need a sophisticated electronic fence along the 150 miles of our desert border with Sinai. More, not less, billions for the military.

BEFORE THIS miracle occurred, it looked as if the protest movement was unstoppable.

Whatever Netanyahu did was too little, too late, and just wrong.

In the first days, Netanyahu treated the whole thing as a childish prank, unworthy of the attention of responsible adults. When he realized that this movement was serious, he mumbled some vague proposals for lowering the price of apartments, but by then the protest had already moved far beyond the original demand for “affordable housing”. The slogan was now “The People Want Social Justice”

After the huge 250,000-strong demonstration in Tel Aviv, the protest leaders were facing a dilemma: how to proceed? Yet another mass protest in Tel Aviv might mean falling attendance. The solution was sheer genius: not another big demonstration in Tel Aviv, but smaller demonstrations all over the country. This disarmed the reproach that the protesters are spoiled Tel Aviv brats, “sushi eaters and water-pipe smokers” as one minister put it. It also brought the protest to the masses of disadvantaged Oriental Jewish inhabitants of the “periphery”, from Afula in the North to Beer Sheva in the South, most of them the traditional voters of Likud. It became a love-fest of fraternization.

So what does a run-of-the-mill politician do in such a situation? Well, of course, he appoints a committee. So Netanyahu told a respectable professor with a good reputation to set up a committee which would, in cooperation with nine ministers, no less, come up with a set of solutions. He even told him that he was ready to completely change his own convictions.

(He did already change one of his convictions when he announced in 2009 that he now advocates the Two-State Solution. But after that momentous about-face, absolutely nothing changed on the ground.)

The youngsters in the tents joked that “Bibi” could not change his opinions, because he has none. But that is a mistake – he does indeed have very definite opinions on both the national and the social levels: “the whole of Eretz Israel” on the one, and Reagan-Thatcher economic orthodoxy on the other.

The young tent leaders countered the appointment of the establishment committee with an unexpected move: they appointed a 60-strong advisory council of their own, composed of some of the most prominent university professors, including an Arab female professor and a moderate rabbi, and headed by a former deputy governor of the Bank of Israel.

The government committee has already made it clear that it will not deal with middle class problems but concentrate on those of the lowest socio-economic groups. Netanyahu has added that he will not automatically adopt their (future) recommendations, but weight them against the economic possibilities. In other words, he does not trust his own nominees to understand the economic facts of life.

AT THAT point, Netanyahu and his aides pinned their hopes on two dates: September and November 2011.

In November, the rainy season usually sets in. No drop of rain before that. But when it starts to rain cats and dogs, it was hoped in Netanyahu’s office, the spoiled Tel Aviv kids will run for shelter. End of the Rothschild tent city.

Well, I remember spending some miserable weeks in the winter of the 1948 war in worse tents, in the midst of a sea of mud and water. I don’t think that the rain will make the tent-dwellers give up their struggle, even if Netanyahu’s religious partners send the most fervent Jewish prayers for rain to the high heavens.

But before that, in September, just a few weeks away, the Palestinians – it was hoped – would start a crisis that will divert attention. This week they already submitted to the UN General Assembly a request to recognize the State of Palestine. The Assembly will most probably accede. Avigdor Lieberman has already enthusiastically assured us that the Palestinians are planning a “bloodbath” at that time. Young Israelis will have to exchange their tents in Tel Aviv for the tents in the West Bank army camps.

It’s a nice dream (for the Liebermans), but Palestinians had so far showed no inclination to violence.

All that changed this week.

FROM NOW on, Netanyahu and his colleagues can direct events as they wish.

They have already “liquidated” the chiefs of the group which carried out the attack, called “the Popular Resistance Committees”. This happened while the fire-fight along the border was still going on. The army had been forewarned and was ready. The fact that the attackers succeeded nevertheless in crossing the border and shooting at vehicles was ascribed to an operational failure.

What now? The group in Gaza will fire rockets in retaliation. Netanyahu can – if he so wishes – kill more Palestinian leaders, military and civilian. This can easily set off a vicious circle of retaliation and counter-retaliation, leading to a full-scale Molten Lead-style war. Thousands of rockets on Israel, thousands of bombs on the Gaza Strip. One ex-military fool already argued that the entire Gaza Strip will have to be re-occupied.

In other words, Netanyahu has his hand on the tap of violence, and he can raise or lower the flames at will.

His desire to put an end to the social protest movement may well play a role in his decisions.

THIS BRINGS us back to the big question of the protest movement: can one bring about real change, as distinct from forcing some grudging concessions from the government, without becoming a political force?

Can this movement succeed as long as there is a government which has the power to start – or deepen – a “security crisis” at any time?

And the related question: can one talk about social justice without talking about peace?

A few days ago, while strolling among the tents on Rothschild Boulevard, I was asked by an internal radio station to give an interview and address the tent-dwellers. I said: “You don’t want to talk about peace, because you want to avoid being branded as ‘leftists”. I respect that. But social justice and peace are two sides of the same coin, they cannot be separated. Not only because they are based on the same moral principles, but also because in practice they depend on each other.”

When I said that, I could not have imagined how clearly this would be demonstrated only two days later.

REAL CHANGE means replacing this government with a new and very different political set up.

Here and there people in the tents are already talking about a new party. But elections are two years away, and for the time being there is no sign of a real crack in the right-wing coalition that might bring the elections closer. Will the protest be able to keep up its momentum for two whole years?

Israeli governments have yielded in the past to mass demonstrations and public uprisings. The formidable Golda Meir resigned in the face of mass demonstrations blaming her for the omissions that led to the fiasco at the start of the Yom Kippur War. The government coalitions of both Netanyahu and Ehud Barak in the 1990s broke under the pressure of an indignant public opinion.

Can this happen now? In view of the military flare-up this week, it does not look likely. But stranger things have happened between heaven and earth, especially in Israel, the land of limited impossibilities.

Press Release 2: “Welcome to Palestine” Organizers decry Israeli propaganda and threats

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Links to some Media Stories below (Netanyahu went to the airport himself to oversee preparations!!

Bethlehem and Jerusalem 5 July 2011–The organizers of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative decry the numerous attempts by Israeli and other media to distort our message and planned activities.  There were messages claiming that we are attempting to reach Gaza by going to Lod Airport (aka Ben Gurion airport) on July 8. Some claimed that this initiative came after the flotilla was blocked. Others claimed our visitors want to disrupt things at the airport and some even claimed they will try to take over planes. These claims and many others being circulated are false; we urge media not to disseminate false statements.


As stated in our first press release: we invited international guests, including families, to visit us in Palestine.  We hope and expect the Israeli authorities to allow them safe passage in compliance with International law and normal diplomatic bilateral protocols. We also reject the Israeli government threat to engage in mass deportation of peace activists and the apparent attempt justify this unjustifiable action by using rumors that they spread.


We are accessible to the media and encourage them to speak with the actual organizers and participants of this peaceful initiative.  Journalists will be flying with us, and we encourage more  journalists to join us and to report on what actually happens (without innuendos and propaganda efforts – Israeli hasbara).


Our visitors are coming to Palestine with a nonviolent approach to peace building and conflict resolution, with full respect of the universal declaration of human rights. We urge the Israeli authorities to allow the journalists to have access to our participants and to report the true story of “Welcome to Palestine.”


Inviting Palestinians and internationals to join us is our right as people under colonial occupation who yearn to be free.


Some journalists are flying with our visitors and we invite all journalists who want to exercise their right to free press to fly in of the 8th of July to Palestine.


We will have a press conference Friday July 8 at 10 AM at the Bethlehem Peace Center in Bethlehem.





Press Release from the European group is posted at


نتنياهو في مطار بن غوريون يُعد لخطة احباط وصول نشطاء السلام


Xinhua agency Report

AFP Report


Israel to expel pro-Palestinian airport protesters


نتنياهو في مطار بن غوريون يُعد لخطة احباط وصول نشطاء


الشرطة الاسرائيلية ترفع حالة التأهب في مطار بن غوريون بعد أنباء عن وصول نشطاء سلام


جلسة تشاورية للحكومة الاسرائيلية في مطار “بن غوريون” قبل وصول المتضامنين


Challenging Israeli apartheid, starting at Ben Gurion Airport


Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour He is author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” and the forthcoming book Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment.

A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home

Articles by Dr. Qumsiyeh on

A united Iran against a collapsing Israel

Tehran_skyline_may_2007 (Wiki Commons)

Kourosh Ziabari, 22 August 2010

As the racist regime of Israel moves toward greater international isolation due to its aggressive, belligerent policies, Iran receives wider support from the world’s nations for its uncompromising resistance against the bullying superpowers and annulling their mischievous plots. The world is witness to the growth of Iran’s popularity while hatred and disgust against Israel builds up progressively. Iran is reaching out to the hearts and souls around the world while Israel ignites denunciation and deprecation in the four corners of the globe.

Since Israel raided the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on May 31, the flimsy existence of Tel Aviv began to splinter as the world nations collectively and categorically reacted to the atrocious mass killing of 9 peace activists in the international waters by the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel’s unlawful, brutal killing of the unarmed civilians aboard the Freedom Flotilla sparked such a remarkable international condemnation that even the most stalwart allies of Tel Aviv in the EU zone recalled their ambassadors from Israel and called for a thorough, detailed investigation of the incident which they described as offensive and violent. The international condemnations were so extensive and intensive that even the most pessimistic Israeli politicians couldn’t envisage. Four countries downgraded their diplomatic relations with Israel – in addition to the four countries that had cut their diplomatic ties with Israel during the 22-day Gaza war of 2008-2009, Twelve Latin American countries condemned the Israeli actions, Twenty-one European countries protested Israel and Twelve non-Arab Asian countries officially disapproved Tel Aviv.

The precursor of global protests to Israel was Turkey which had lost 9 of its citizens in the raid. In an insightful, thought-provoking and appreciable statement before his country’s parliament, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly questioned Israel’s impunity from the international laws and called for a decisive end to the illegal actions of this regime: “It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel’s lawlessness. The international community must from now on say ‘enough is enough’. Dry statements of condemnation are not enough … There should be results.”

At the beginning and when the first news was released, the extent of Israel’s violence had not become clear to the public opinion; however, as the international peace activists began retelling the stories of their ordeal upon being deported by Tel Aviv to their respective countries, the world realized that a great calamity had taken place.

Upon his extradition to Istanbul, the Irish historian and activist Dr. Fintan Lane told the media about his terrible experience on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was unjustifiably attacked by the Israeli commandos on May 31: “when they boarded our boat, we resisted entirely peacefully. I sat on the floor and tried to reason with them, but the Israeli commandos physically attacked us. Fiachra (one of the Irish passengers aboard the flotilla) was dragged around the ground and I had a gun pointed in my face by a screaming commando. His mania was so intense that I genuinely feared for my life. Others received beatings.”

The American peace activist and anti-imperialist speaker Kenneth O’Keefe was another passenger on board the Gaza aid convoy. He witnessed the death of two of his Turkish colleagues in person and was brutally harassed, tortured by the Israeli forces: “while in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect.  Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted… in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands. We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really. We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell.”

Hassan Ghani, the 25-year-old Scottish journalist and media correspondent of the Press TV was also among the flotilla travelers. He was ruthlessly punished by the Israeli commandos in what he described as the “brutal Israeli assault” on the flotilla: “we didn’t expect a ship with 32 different nationalities on board, with aid from 50 different countries on board, would be attacked in such a brutal manner… They began by throwing stun grenades on to the deck of the ship when people were in the middle of morning prayers. Then they began using rubber bullets, they tried to come aboard the ship from the side. People repelled the commandos with water cannons they had set up on the side of the ship. Then the Israelis used helicopters to drop people onto roof and there was scuffles on the roof. The Israeli solders had already opened fire on the ship, so people were grabbing anything they could to stop the attack in international waters.”

Another painful account of the flotilla raid was retold by the prominent Swedish author Henning Mankell who described the Israeli actions as “committing murder”: “they got very aggressive and ordered us to come down. There was one older man who was a little slow, so the Israelis attacked him with an electric stun gun. He was in a lot of pain. So was another passenger who was covered in paint after being hit with a paint ball missile. The commandos searched the ship thoroughly and emerged waving a razor and a metal-box cutting tool, which they claimed were “weapons” intended to be used against them. All the passengers were then herded into a group, with armed guards standing watch as the ship was taken to Israel When we got off… we were made to walk down a corridor of armed commandos who filmed all of us with cameras. They stole my mobile phone, my money, my clothes and my credit cards.” Mankell said that he was held in a cell for 24 hours along with a Swedish Member of Parliament and then deported even “without his socks”.

All of these accounts attest to the fact that Israel is being reprimanded by people from the four corners of the world who object to the inhuman policies and actions of Tel Aviv regardless of the nationality they belong to and the political stance they champion.

Today, it’s known to everyone that Israel is a political entity which the United States supports in order to maintain its interests in the Middle East and subject the region’s nations. In the other words, Israel plays the role of America’s permanent representative in the Middle East and is entitled to resort to every possible mean to intimidate and bring under control the independent nations in the region. The fact is that Israel is a fragile and unstable political regime and every day of its shaky survival is hinged on the exertion of force and violating the rights of other nations. As the Iranian journalist Mohieddin Sajedi once noted, Israel cannot live without creating troubles. From mass killing to occupation, from assassination to the construction of illegal settlements, Israel continues to exist with illegal actions and this is what keeps them alive.

The main adversary of Israel is Iran. Israel has repeatedly warned Iran against the use of force and launch of a military strike on its nuclear facilities. The reason is clear. Iran is turning into an inspiring model for the independent nations around the world. Iran’s 30-year-long resistance against imperialism and its courageous confrontation with the bullying superpowers has made it an example of victorious struggle with political arrogance and many independent nations on the face of world see Iran on the frontline of battle with the United States and its colonies such as Israel.

Iran is winning international popularity because it has demonstrated the effectiveness of self-sufficiency in nationalizing the nuclear energy. While Israel possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads in flagrant violation of the international law and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has made striking advancements in taking over the nuclear power and excelling in using it for peaceful purposes. The fact that Iran has succeeded in nationalizing the nuclear energy without the assistance of Western superpowers is indigestible for Israel which is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East; that’s why it has warned Iran against a preemptive military strike; however, the reality is that a 70-million-strong army stands by the resistance movement of Iran and a coalition of powerful troops consisted of the independent nations around the world, stand by Iran against the collapsing Israel forever.

Book of the Day: Midnight on the Mavi Marmara

Moustafa Bayoumi
Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, Moustafa Bayoumi

Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, Moustafa Bayoumi

Book of the Day: Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How It Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict, Moustafa Bayoumi, Editor.

‘ “We have been attacked while in international waters. That means the Israelis have behaved like pirates … The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.”—Henning Mankell, aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Eastern Mediterranean, Monday, May 31st, 2010, 4.30am: Israeli commandos, boarding from sea and air, attack the six boats of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla as it sails through international waters bringing humanitarian relief to the beleaguered Palestinians of Gaza. Within minutes, nine peace activists are dead, shot by the Israelis. Scores of others are injured. The 700 people on board the ships are arrested before being transported to detention centers in Israel and then deported.

Within hours, outrage at Israel’s action echoes around the world. Spontaneous demonstrations in Europe, the United States, Turkey, and Gaza itself denounce the attack. Turkey’s prime minister describes it as a “bloody massacre” and “state terrorism.” Lebanon’s prime minister calls it “a dangerous and crazy step that will exacerbate tensions in the region.”

In these pages, a range of activists, journalists, and analysts piece together the events that occurred that May night, unpicking their meanings for Israel’s illegal, three-year-long blockade of Gaza and the decades-long Israel/Palestine conflict more generally. Mixing together first-hand testimony, documentary record, and illustration, with hard-headed analysis and historical overview, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara reveals why the attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla may just turn out to be Israel’s Selma, Alabama: the beginning of the end for an apartheid Palestine.

CONTRIBUTORS: Ali Abunimah, Eyad Al Sarraj, Lamis Andoni, Omar Barghouti, George Bisharat, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Marsha B. Cohen, Juan Cole, Murat Dagli, Jamal Elshayyal, Sümeyye Ertekin, Norman Finkelstein, Neve Gordon, Glenn Greenwald, Arun Gupta, Amira Hass, Nadia Hijab, Adam Horowitz, Rashid Khalidi, Stephen Kinzer, Iara Lee, Henning Mankell, Paul Larudee, Gideon Levy, Alia Malek, Lubna Masarwa, Mike Marqusee, Yousef Munayyer, Ken O’Keefe, Daniel Luban, Kevin Ovenden, Ilan Pappé, Doron Rosenblum, Sara Roy, Ben Saul, Adam Shapiro, Raja Shehadeh, Henry Siegman, Ahdaf Soueif, Raji Sourani, Richard Tillinghast, Alice Walker, Stephen M. Walt, Philip Weiss, and Haneen Zoabi.

Publication September 1 2010 256 pages’

“We Are The Accusers, Not The Accused”


Palestine Monitor, 3 July 2010

On 16th January 2009 seven U.K. peace activists broke into the premises of EDO MBM, suppliers of weapons components and in the words of one of them, Elijah Smith ’set out to smash it up to the best of our abilities’.

It was an entirely accountable action which was always intended to end in a trial and each decommissioner had pre-recorded a video in which they stated the reasons for their participation –to help dismantle the war machine from the factory floor.

Once inside the building, they barricaded themselves in and set to work. Equipment used to make weapon components were trashed and computers, filing cabinets and office furnishings were thrown out of the windows. Once they were done they calmly waited for the police to arrest them. Two activists who supported them outside the factory gates were also on trial. All of the defendants have argued that what they did was not only morally necessary but crucially that it was legal. U.K law allows the commission of damage of property to prevent greater crimes.

Two of the accused, Simon Levin and Chris Osmond have extensive experience of working in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement. Chris Osmond told the court that ’the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza at that time meant it was imperative to act’. He cited the words of Rachel Corrie, the U.S activist who was killed by an IDF bulldozer in Rafah, as an inspiration. The court heard a passage of Corrie’s diary ’I’m witnessing this chronic insidious genocide and I’m really scared, this has to stop, I think it is a good idea idea for all of us to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop’.

During the trial the court heard not only from the defendants themselves but from Sharyn Lock, who was an international human rights volunteer in Gaza during Cast Lead. She was inside Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City when it was attacked with white phosphorus. She concluded her evidence by saying that she had no doubt that those who armed the Israeli Air Force ’had the blood of children on their hands’. The jury saw footage of the air attacks on the UNWRA compounds where civilians were sheltering and have been given an edited version of the Goldstone report.

Recently elected member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas also gave evidence supporting the decommssioners, saying that the democratic process ’had been exhausted’ as far as the factory was concerned.

On January the 17th 2009 the bombs had already fallen relentlessly on Gaza for three weeks. Massive, passionate demonstrations and pickets had been held in many cities around the country and the world in protest against Israel’s war crimes, but to no avail. A growing sense of helplessness was grabbing hold of the movement as the Palestinian body count stood at over 1400 and counting. 300 of the dead were children. It was against this background that the “citizen’s decommissioning” of EDO MBM/ITT took place.

EDO/ITT is an arms manufacturer, based in Brighton since 1946. They were acquired along with the rest of EDO Corporation by the multinational arms conglomerate ITT in December 2007. Their primary business is the manufacture of weapons systems such as bomb release mechanisms and bomb racks. This includes crucially the manufacture of the VER-2 Zero Retention Force Arming Unit for the Israeli Air Force’s F16 war planes.

Over the years, EDO have consistently denied supplying Israel, and despite over fifty court cases campaigners were not able to properly expose the links between the factory and the IAF. However the serious nature of the charges against the seven (the factory sustained nearly £200,000 of damage and may not have recommenced production for weeks) means that for the first time courts took the argument that EDOs business is fundamentally illegal very seriously.

Paul Hills, the Managing Director of EDO MBM, spent his five days on the witness stand last week being confronted with all the evidence gathered by campaigners over the years –evidence which exposes a complex network of collaboration between British, American and Israeli arms companies and the way in which their deals are clouded in secrecy. The Decommissioners were able to present Mr Hills, for the first time, with a dossier of evidence showing how EDO MBM use a front company in the U.S.A to indirectly supply components for the F 16 to Israel. Under U.K law the supply of weapons components that might be used in the Occupied Territories is actually a crime.

After hearing Hills’ explanations of his company’s business practices, Judge George Bathurst-Norman said that, despite Hill’s denials of dealing with Israel, it was clear that their was enough evidence to justify a genuinely held belief they did. He also offered the opinion that End User Certificates required for arms export licences were “ not worth the paper they are written on” as they can be easily manipulated.

There is a history of juries in British courts finding anti-war activists not guilty when they attack machinery used in war crimes. In 1996 four women from Trident Ploughshares decommissioned a Hawk jet that was about to be shipped to Indonesia – they were found not guilty. In 2008 the Raytheon 9, who damaged a factory in Derry supplying weapons to Israel during the 2006 Lebanon war, were acquitted by a jury and only two weeks ago a group of nine women carrying out a similar action at Raytheon during the Gaza attacks were also found not guilty by an unanimous jury.

On Friday, the jury found Simon Levin, Tom Woodhead, Ornella Saibene, Bob Nicholls, Harvey Tadman, Elijah Smith and Chris Osmond not guilty of “Conspiracy to Cause Criminal damage” by unanimous verdict in Hove Crown Court.

Chris Osmond said “This action was taken because of EDO MBMs illegal supply of weapons to the Israeli military. We brought the suffering of ordinary Palestinians into a British courtroom and confronted with the evidence they took the brave decision to find that our actions were justified.”

The decommissioners’ stance made it clear to companies like EDO that they can no longer count on not being held to account for their actions. There are now a growing number of people in the international community who are willing to risk their own liberty to stand up for the people of Gaza and to challenge Israel’s war crimes through whatever means possible.

Article written by Chloe Marsh

  • Update – The jury in the trial of the EDO Decommissioners has, so far, found five of the defendants not guilty of “Criminal Damage” and “Conspiracy To Cause Criminal Damage” by unanimous decision
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