Palestine: Past and Present Meeting

For those of you unable to make the event on the 23 September, we hope this short report will provide an overview of the main points of our inspiring speakers. 

Whatever they do, I’m not giving up…” – Issa Amro

We were honoured to have our first speaker, Issa Amro, discuss his work with Youth Against Settlements and his experience as non-violent activist in Hebron. Amro emphasised that the situation in Palestine has been getting worse, not better. Amro discussed Hebron in more detail, highlighting how there are at least 100 barriers and 23 checkpoints in and around the city. Entering into the city as a Palestinian requires a permit. This includes Palestinian ambulances, and their enforced waits at checkpoints have led to deaths, including those of children. Finally, Amro informed the audience that three weeks ago, permission was granted in the Israeli Supreme court to split the municipality of Hebron into H1, the settlements, and H2 the Palestinian areas, thereby legitimising the settlements in Israeli law and providing a huge cause for concern.

Issa Amro

Amro exhorted activists in the UK to continue to support the Palestinian cause. He also urged UK activists to work hard to contact politicians and push parliament to discuss Palestine and so that the Palestinian cause can be considered more broadly in the UK as a political issue. He had stated that he is willing to provide sources, help and information to assist in our efforts here. His emphasis throughout the speech was on the importance of politics and of influencing the debate here in Britain.

Farid al-Atrash followed on from Issa and emphatically discussed the feelings of being a Palestinian and of being a prisoner in one’s own country. Farid described what life for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank was like and the non-violent protests Amro and himself have organised. He discussed some of the cases he has worked on as a human rights lawyer, where Palestinians resisting occupation peacefully have been arrested and imprisoned. Finally, he informed the audience that Amro and himself are both currently undergoing trials of several charges related to their peaceful activism.

The speeches of both Issa Amro and Farid al-Atrash made every person in the room feel connected with the struggle of the people of Palestine. Their first-hand testimonies reminded us all of the urgency of the problem. David Cronin had an ideal position to present to us the results of his life-long research and experiences. He made the best of it, to say the least.

By mapping the massively important role of Britain in the Palestinian conflict, from the signing of the so-called Balfour Declaration to the contemporary military support and day-to-day endorsement of the Israeli apartheid regime by the British government, David brought to our attention a rather disturbing fact. Regardless of the monstrosities committed both directly and indirectly by the British in Palestine, there was never any sign of regret, remorse or apology neither from Downing Street nor from the British Monarch. Will it take another hundred years for Britain to change its stance? With the current leadership in place it might, however the tide IS changing.

Overall, David’s lecture on the topic was a shining example of how journalism and activism should ideally be done.

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