Think you know what your MP thinks?

Some recent responses from our local MPs to constituents’ concerns about the crisis in Gaza:

Laurence Robertson MP for Tewkesbury on 13 July (before the land invasion). Responding to a constituent who expressed concern about the intensive collective punishment against Palestinians in the West Bank and the number of civilians (including many children) killed or injured in Gaza:

“I can understand your concerns and the Foreign Secretary is aware of these. However, the situation is far from simple. For example, Hamas has been responsible for many attacks on Israel and these must be discontinued if there is to be any chance of peace. The government will therefore be pressing for an end to such attacks and for Hamas to recognise the right of Israel to exist.”

Richard Graham MP, Gloucester. Part of an on-going correspondent with two constituents:

On 14 July:

“ Appalling, the whole thing.

The UN (ie us) already spends millions each year already via UNRWA which was supposed to be temporary. Another invasion just means more repairs to human lives, infrastructure and buildings. ….

The basic issue is that Hamas does not recognise the right of Israel to exist, and their avowed aim, like Iran’s, is to destroy Israel.  Until that changes the world will not deal with Hamas, including many Muslim states and Israel considers herself at war with Hamas.

I despair at the illegal settlements, the wall, the extra judicial activities of settlers, the constant military courts rulings on children stone throwing and a hundred other things done by Israel.

But as we watch Muslims fight each other, killing harmless thousands in Syria and Iraq, know the continuing Palestinian infighting – which I saw close up – we cannot say there is a clash between good and evil. It is one where very few emerge with any credit.

I’ve never been gloomier.”

And rather more succinctly, on 13 July:

“….. we’re all sickened by the cycle of violence in Israel as well as Iraq and Syria.  I am depressed for the region. There are no good guys except the many innocent.”

Martin Horwood MP, Cheltenham, in a statement issued 23 July (following a long period of silence) sent to constituents by his assistant, David Fidgeon:

“I unreservedly condemn the rocket attacks on civilian neighbourhoods in Israel by whoever is sending them.   But I also think the response by the Israeli government has been clearly disproportionate.  It is killing far too many civilians and leading to a significant loss of life on only one side.  I urge restraint and a return to ceasefire on both sides.  On the broader peace process I have already condemned Israel’s continued settlement-building programme and I don’t see the attempt to build a united Palestinian authority as good enough grounds to break off the peace process.   We had to grit our teeth and talk to suspected murderers and bombers during the Irish peace process and Israelis will have to do likewise.  I have also publicly urged the UK government and its European allies to look at whether there is any leverage in the favourable economic relationship between the EU and both Israel and Palestine which could be used to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.”
 More to follow as we get them.

Stop the massacre: London demo, 26th July

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http://www.palestinecampaign.org/next-london-demo-26th-july/

After last Saturday’s massive demo in London, (10 went from the Group) there’s another one next Saturday, this time from the Israeli Embassy in Kensington back to Westminster. Could be even bigger than last week’s 100,000+ turnout.

If you are planning to go and can offer a lift or would welcome transport to London, please email glospsc@gmail.com and we will try to put you in touch with others.

Contact your MP

One of the strong messages from speakers at the London march was KEEP WRITING TO YOUR MP. Put pressure on the government.

We were very pleased to hear two of our Gloucestershire MPs, Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) and Richard Graham (Gloucester), speak up for Palestine in parliament, their comments can be read on the website http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/11494/martin_horwood/cheltenham and http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24921/richard_graham/gloucester

If you have not already, please, please write/phone/email your MP urgently to let them know how concerned you are about Israel’s vastly disproportionate response in Gaza. Gloucestershire MPs contact details are on the menu above, or can be found at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/

Our Pictures from the 19th July March in London

Carrying Our Gloucestershire PSC Banner

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Some other protesters

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Huge Protest in London 19 July

Some of us went down, more photos to follow …. The protest was huge, estimates of 100,000 people, friendly and peaceful, there were families with babies and small children and very many different people and groups showing their horror at the situation in Gaza.

march (Photo from National PSC)

This was even reported by the BBC! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28383460

Protest London Saturday 19th July, and Peace March in Bristol (same day)

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Details:

http://www.palestinecampaign.org/events/national-demonstration-stop-bombing-stop-killing-free-palestine/

If you want to share transport or meet to travel down, email glospsc@gmail.com .

Also, nearer home, protest walk in Bristol, map bristol

Meet 12 noon Saturday 19th July at Shah Jalal Mosque, Bristol BS5 6PE. More details on https://www.facebook.com/bristol.psc

Protest in London 11 July

From the London PSC

The protest outside the Israeli embassy yesterday in London, photo from the London branch of the PSC. The protest was peaceful and the organisers estimated 10,000 people came.

Link to the London Evening Standard report http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/rabbi-stands-on-top-of-doubledecker-bus-in-west-london-as-part-of-propalestine-protest-against-israeli-aggression-9601565.html

And pictures from worldwide protests from the ‘Jews For Justice’ website http://jfjfp.com/?p=62265

Protests around Britain opposing Israel’s attacks and bombing of Gaza

Protests in the next few days

https://www.facebook.com/notes/palestine-solidarity-campaign-uk/protests-opposing-israels-bombing-and-attack-on-gaza-10-12-july/750224248354173

And some of the effects of the bombing …

http://dci-palestine.org/documents/eight-children-killed-israeli-airstrikes-over-gaza

Diary from a recent visit to Bethlehem

Diary of events in Bethlehem – May 11th – June 3rd 2014

The people I stay with were pleased to see me ‘as I had brought the water.’!! It had been off for 21 days and they were very short, but it came on as I arrived.
Everyone was excited about the coming visit of the Pope, and the day I arrived, the water came on, so they were all pleased that he was coming to Deheisheh Camp….which was probably why the water was turned on, as the authorities didn’t want demonstrations because there was no water!

Day 1. Soldiers came into the camp at night and arrested some people, and trashed the homes of the ones they were looking for. Every time someone is arrested, it is always at night that they come, and they destroy a lot of the property and furniture, and do structural damage while they search.

2. An old man was made to destroy his well, on his own land, which had been there for all of his life, and the water was used for his family and animals. The settlers said they needed the water.

3 Settlers are writing abusive graffiti on walls and cars, and churches : eg. ‘ Kill the Pope,’ and other things much worse.

4.In Wadi Fouqeen there was an invasion of settlers and their families into a new playground which the villages had made for their children as there was nowhere else for the m to play. The land belonged to the Palestinians who lived in the village. The settlers came with their children and made the locals leave and they made picnics and BBQs. They carried guns and threatened the Palestinians with them until they left the area.

5.There was shooting, tear gas, and firing of rubber bullets into the University of Abu Dis when the students were doing their final examinations. Hala, the daughter of the family I was staying with, was stuck and could not leave until later as the area was closed. Hala fainted from the effects of the gas. She was doing exams that day for her finals of the 4 year radiography course.

6. On the 15th May, it was the anniversary of the NAKBAR, catastrophe day…re 1948, when Palestinians lost their country. There were some silent demonstrations. 2 boys were killed, shot dead in Ramallah. They were walking, unarmed, and as they crossed a space near some soldiers they were shot dead. ( They were not together ) one boy was 16 and the other 17. One shot in the back and one in the chest. Both died instantly.

7. 2 houses were demolished, one was the ‘Tent of ALL Nations, and the 1500 olive trees on their land were destroyed also. The other was a home for Bedouins who lived in the hills just past Ma’ale Adumin.

8. All 5000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons went on hunger strike in support of the prisoners who have been on remand in prison without charges against them, some for months and some for years. Some have been fasting since April and about 70 are in Israeli hospitals.

9 Many problems with settlers in the Old City of Jerusalem. Many are in the compound of the Al Axar mosque, and want to take a lot of the land to build the 3rd temple. Palestinians have been injured and the army have prevented many from going there to pray, even on Fridays.

10. A trader in the Bethlehem market was arrested by 2 Israelis dressed in Arabic style clothes. Not sure why…not that they have to have a reason!

11. Towards the end of my stay, the water was getting short again. I was worried as I didn’t have enough money left to buy another tank. HOWEVER, it came on again on the day I left!

12. It was announced that Israel wants to get UN to abolish UNWRA who help the refugees, from 1948 and 1967, and their descendants. There were about 750,000 in 1948, and now there are about 6 -7 million a lot of whom are abroad. They give food and education in their schools. This would cause massive unemployment as the employees in UN establishments would lose their jobs.

13. Graffiti is becoming a serious problem. The settlers are writing on walls, houses and cars. Very abusive things, and racist statements, ‘Kill the Pope’ ‘Arabs are thieves,’ ‘Shut the Mosques,’ Catholics are idolaters,’ Some of their slogans are unrepeatable.

14. A lot of land was being taken in AL Walaja, ( Bethlehem area,) and walls were being built and settlers houses. They build covers on some of the roads to prevent stones being thrown onto cars. The land is becoming so ugly.

The Zionist claim that ‘They made the desert bloom’ is ridiculous, as the land will become an ugly grey desert, with all the walls and ugly structures build there. Over a million trees have been destroyed, so the land may become a desert !

The army protect the settlers. They watch when the settlers attack shepherds looking after their animals. They never arrest them when they scratch obscenities on cars with keys, and slash tyres. They are above the law! The worse ones are the Americans.

I think the Palestinians are very courageous. They have so many things to put up with, and roads are built for settlers that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on. There are hundreds of checkpoints inside the West Bank, so every journey takes hours instead of 20 minutes. They have ‘SUMOUD’ which is a word meaning steadfastness. I fear for the children who are growing up with this oppressive regime, and have not known what it is to be free to go to the seaside, or swimming pools, and football matches etc.

PRAY FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN THE HOLY LAND.

Palestine Trauma Centre in Gaza

July 9th 2014
Worcester - Palestine Friendship Group held an evening of talks about the Palestine Trauma Centre, http://en.ptcgaza.com/ , on Thursday July 3rd 2014.

This is a local organisation in Gaza who try to support people traumatised by the constant stress, helplessness and threat of violence in Gaza. They said their aim was to build resilience in families and communities, so that people could cope rather than being completely overwhelmed. Among other referrals, they get children referred who are too upset to speak. They said there is a high level of stress in Gaza, and very limited services for mental or physical health.

They talked about research on coping with PTSC (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and said that for Gaza a new term was needed, because the stress continues, it is not from events in the past. And research on what therapies can help people. They get funding from abroad but all decisions are local.

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