Tag Archives: George Galloway

The Chill in the Bones of the Puppet Masters

Nice title.  I could sell it to a hack novelist. 🙂

George Galloway writes in The Morning Star:

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All the lies deployed to justify the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan took this great lie as their premise – that the West must bomb and blast the people of those countries into “democracy” because they are incapable of changing their societies themselves.

The fall of Ben Ali and the rise of the Egyptian masses has put paid to that essentially racist stereotype. The women in Egypt – young and old, with hijabs or not, university educated and from the slums – are showing that they do not need Laura Bush or Cheri Blair giving a faux-feminist gloss to F16s to liberate them. The sisters are doing it for themselves alongside men drawn from across the base of Egyptian society.

And the US State Department, British Foreign Office and French Quai d’Orsay don’t like it one bit. It’s not only their close personal connections with the torturing regimes of Ben Ali and Mubarak which now stand fully exposed. We know a little about Tony Blair, who still found Mubarak a force for good as the death toll from his clinging onto power climbed above 300.

More is at stake than these politicians’ personal connections with Mubarak. The cornerstone of decades of US and Western policy of holding down the mass of the people in the region in the interests of oil, corporate control of trade and investment and Israel is shattering. Every Arab despot ruling the region almost without exception from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf knows it. Which is why the wind of change that is intoxicating their people is bringing a chill to each of those regimes.

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Gaza Siege Broken a Third Time

I meant to post this one the other day, and meanwhile other things have happened.

Watch the video from The Guardian.

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Upon returning to Egypt, British MP George Galloway was immediately deported to London.  What is Egypt really playing at here?

Here is the link to the BBC report on that turn of events.

One wonders where Egyptian authorities are getting their orders from.


Egypt Covers for Israel

Press Release from VIVA PALESTINA

Egyptian Police attack Humanitarian Gaza Aid Convoy

Last night Egyptian police again delayed the Viva Palestina aid convoy carrying much needed aid from reaching the people of Gaza.  Having agreed to Egyptian demands whilst being stranded in the port of Aqaba some seven days ago, convoy leaders agreed to re-route their journey after receiving guarantees from the Egyptian authorities of a safe passage to Gaza.

Humanitarians from all over the world transporting the aid were attacked by riot police in the port of Al-Arish last night (5th January). And it is now reported that some of the activists were hospitalised overnight for their injuries. They have since returned back to re-join the convoy members in the port and thankfully have no life threatening issues.

British and national embassies are being kept informed of the situation.

Protests broke out when Egyptian authorities at Al – Arish ordered some lorries to use an Israeli-controlled checkpoint. The activists preferred the goods to be transported via Egypt’s Rafah crossing as agreed.

George Galloway who is leading the convoy said Israel is likely to prevent it entering Gaza – This morning he told Sky News. “It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza.”

Following Israel’s horrific attack on Gaza, people all over Britain worked for months raising funds for aid and aid vehicles for the Palestinian people.  Those taking the aid are humanitarians from all walks of life, who have given up a month to bring the much needed medical aid in a gesture of solidarity with their continuing oppression under Israel’s illegal siege.

Betty Hunter, General Secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said, “It is shocking that the Egyptian government is behaving in this way.  There can be no justification for preventing this aid and the people who have worked so hard to provide it from reaching Gaza.  The Palestinians are waiting for this well publicised international convoy to arrive and these actions of the Egyptian government, and the building of Egypt’s  steel wall signal that Egypt is colluding with the Israeli government’s illegal siege of Gaza.”

Viva Palestina ‘The Return to Gaza’ is partnered with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and departed London on 6th December bound for Gaza.

For further information on the Viva Palestina convoy visit www.vivapalestina.org

Press information from Alice Howard on Tel:07944 512 469 or viva email: alice@vivapalestina.org

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News item from Al Jazeera.


Egyptian Authorities Allow Themselves to be Israel’s Border Cops

The Egyptian government has disrupted a convoy of solidarity activists bringing needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Members of Viva Palestina report that officials stopped buses carrying part of the group’s delegation as they attempted to cross into the Sinai region on the way to the Rafah border crossing, where activists plan to enter Gaza with their aid convoy.

From SOCIALISTWORKER.org

For ongoing updates, visit the Viva Palestina-U.S. Web site.

Solidarity activists in the U.S. are preparing for possible protests outside Egyptian embassies and consulates if the convoy isn’t allowed to travel. Contact organizations locally for more details.

Contact the Egyptian embassy and ask that the Viva Palestina convoy be allowed to make its journey to Gaza without further delays. Call 202-966-6342, fax 202-244-4319 and e-mail embassy@egyptembdc.org.

SocialistWorker.org reporter Eric Ruder and a number of contributors to this Web site are part of the Viva Palestina convoy. You can read blogs from some at TheSitch.com.


George Galloway writes to the Charity Commission

I have become increasingly concerned about the abuse of your powers displayed in your brazenly obvious political double standards. About your attempts, under the guise of regulating British charities, to police the democratic efforts of political activists in Britain in a way never envisaged by parliament. About your preparedness to waste large sums of public money in political stunts, either at the behest of others or in the hope that you are properly anticipating their wishes. And above all, in the context of this issue, your almost laughably obvious prejudice against the Palestinian cause and against Britain ‘s two million-strong Muslim community.

READ FULL LETTER HERE


Canada & South Africa: Scratching the Giants’ Prickly Backs

canada-drip

Two countries that one expects openness to most political and cultural views have shown a special narrow mindedness in the past few days.

Canada banned the British politician George Galloway and South Africa, surprise, surprise, refused a visa to the Dalai Lama.  Canadians are apparently angered by their government’s actions, and the State of Israel must be having a party.

south-africa-drip

South Africans still have no idea why their supposedly democratic ANC-led government claimed that the Dalai Lama would detract from the promotion of the 2010 Soccer.  I listened to the radio this morning and struggled to make sense of the sophomoric spin the spokesman for the current, temporary President was trying to mutter.  Guess who’s also having a party?

Canada and South Africa are scratching the prickly backs of giants.  It seems countries with atrocious human rights records against its own population and/or its neighbours need this special treatment.

One wonders what’s under the tables.

ps News just in:  the new Health Minister – much admired because of her progressive stance on health issues – who spoke against the ruling party’s decision to ban the Dalai Lama has been reprimanded.  Wonder what’s next.


‘Viva Palestina’ breaks Gaza siege

photo from Hanini.org

Report from PressTV Monday, 09 Mar 2009 13:24:44 GMT

Despite efforts to prevent ‘Viva Palestina’ from breaking a long-term blocked on the Gaza Strip the aid convoy has entered the coastal sliver.

The convoy which made its way across Europe and North Africa arrived in the besieged strip on Monday, Press TV reported.

On Sunday, several activists traveling with the group were injured after the convoy was vandalized by a number of attackers in Egypt.

British lawmaker, George Galloway, who is traveling with the convoy, said that Egyptian authorities did not protect the convoy despite their promises. “They are blocking us inside, but they don’t protect us.”

The convoy of peace activists including Press TV presenter Yvonne Ridley and film maker Hassan Ghani left London on February 14.


Yvonne Ridley Reports

Yvonne Ridley reports from Viva Palestina
9th March 2009


GAZA OR BUST

The last 24 hours have probably been the blackest since the Viva Palestina convoy set off from London.

Yesterday the convoy members became the target of an orchestrated wave of violence first started by Egyptian police and then culminating in vicious attacks by unknown thugs.

The end result was a number of peace activists whose only aim is to take humanitarian aid into war torn Gaza were treated in hospital for head injuries.

Mercifully the string of casualties was not too serious but the experience denied us the chance of fulfilling our mission to deliver aid to Gaza yesterday.

And dramatic images of the rioting and attacks could not be relayed to Press TV viewers because someone sabotaged the satellite van by deliberately cutting through a vital cable which would have beamed the shameful attacks across the world.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and I would like to take this opportunity of personally thanking the Egyptian authorities and those dark forces who tried to derail Viva Palestina.

The event has only served to make us stronger, unite and bond us together more and created a wave of international media interest in Viva Palestina.

I think it would be fair to say that when you bring a diverse group of 300 plus people together on a gruelling mission to cover 5,000 miles driving across North Africa the result can result in a less than harmonious state of affairs.

To be frank, there was friction and infighting and some of us generally got on each other’s nerves as you would when you are confined to close quarters with challenging living, sleeping and eating conditions.

However, the deliberate bloody-mindedness of the Egyptian authorities did something we had failed to do for ourselves … it caused us to unite, bond and emerge stronger than ever from underneath the rows of police batons, bricks, bottles and stones.
The trouble began when the police – who were only obeying their orders – tried to break up the convoy into small groups of medical and non medical aid. We were told the first would go through the Rafah crossing while the latter would go through an Israeli checkpoint.

This was never going to be accepted by anyone on board the convoy. Our aim from the outset was simple: Rafah or bust.

Giving aid to the people of Gaza has nothing to do with the Israelis and I do wish they would stop trying to make themselves centre stage in an affair that does not involve Tel Aviv.

As we dug in our heels about the convoy being physically divided, the authorities decided there was only one solution – batter us into submission, after all that is what police states do.

And so, when the police tried to get physical, the convoy members followed their natural instincts and used passive resistance to defend themselves.

Egyptian police are obviously not used to confronting stroppy westerners in such large numbers and so they retreated while a second wave was sent in. Hundreds of riot squad officers, wearing visors, carrying shields and batons tumbled in to one of the two car parks in a large town centre compound in the port of al Arish and set about the unarmed peace activists.

They too were heroically repelled and what followed was an uneasy stand off as some convoy members received medical attention.

The net result was scores of vehicles had been able to escape the compound in which they were being held behind metal police barriers.

It was a minor victory and what followed was a very British response – the lads decided to have a game of football. I did try to persuade the Egyptian police to join in stressing they would have much more fun kicking a ball instead of kicking my comrades, but they seemed reluctant to let go of their batons.

As the night drew in the convoy leader George Galloway who was 40 kilometres down the road, was made aware of the battle of al Arish and so he refused to cross the Rafah Border in to Gaza and returned to the convoy.

It was a hard call to make as the international media had gathered at Rafah for a party that never happened. As usual the Israelis also played to stereotype by shelling and bombing parts of Gaza.

By the time Britain’s best known parliamentarian reached the compound night had fallen and bright stadium-style lights illuminated the two car parks.

Suddenly the area was plunged into darkness by a powercut which coincided with a brick, bottle and stone attacks on the convoy members by youths in their late teens and 20s. Seconds before the lights went out some convoy members saw a couple of unidentified men scrawling anti-Hamas slogans on lorries.

The lights remained out for some minutes, during which time the vicious attack was unleashed – the whole proceedings failed to warrant one single Egyptian police officer to swing his baton into action.

Those who had wielded their sticks with such a passion before, stood impassively by and watched the onslaught.

The power kicked back in again and the bright lights illuminated the scene to reveal several convoy members lying dazed and confused, blood dripping from gaping head wounds.

While they were ferried to hospital for treatment, there was a second powercut and a repeat of the violence.

Once again the police stood by and watched the thugs launch their attacks on unarmed and defenceless members of Viva Palestina.

Galloway, incandescent with rage held an urgent meeting with the governor of the region and secured assurances this would not happen again. He also secured a pledge that the convoy would be allowed to make its way to the Rafah crossing for 6am on Monday.

We’re now only a few hours away from that deadline and it remains to be seen if the governor will keep his word.

But regardless of what he decides I want to thank him for pulling every single member of Viva Palestina into one, united front.

Thanks to him and the cack-handed police operation, Viva Palestina has emerged refocussed and stronger than ever with one, determined goal: Rafah or bust.

And it will happen, inspite of the best efforts of Tel Aviv meddling and Egyptian authorities’ bullying.

The people united can never be defeated.

Gaza, next stop.

* British journalist Yvonne Ridley and award-winning film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani are on the Viva Palestina convoy making a documentary about the journey from London to Gaza. her website is http://www.yvonneridley.org and you can follow her updates by Twitter or Facebook


A Chosen Blindness

from Majid Majidi's "The Willow Tree"

In the deeply spiritual film “The Willow Tree” by acclaimed director Majid Majidi, we find the lead character, a man in his forties, who has been blind since childhood about to undergo a personal journey.  The last time he had seen an image of himself was at age ten.  Now with his own wife and child, he regains his sight following a miraculous operation.  He is instantly overjoyed by a world again made visible.  And, within moments, he encounters a reflection of his aged features in the glass walls of the hospital.

Questions of faith and choice arise throughout the film as he rejoins the same people who had known him, including his own family, but whom he meets as if for the very first time.  Sight becomes a new experience that introduces him to a changed world, but it also sends crashing the same world he once knew.  The film culminates in a painful reawakening, a humbling down to the very core of one’s spirit.

The blindness that this sensitive film deals with is beyond the physical.  It is a powerful film that quietly works its way to reveal the darkness inside us, and the light that we sometimes refuse to see.

There are many ways of going blind.  Many ways of remaining in the dark.

Mainstream media – the BBC, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, and all other big corporate media – currently suffer from a particular blindness.  They have chosen this affliction.  They continue to ignore the historic significance of a convoy of humanitarian aid that was organized by ordinary citizens from the UK and supported by ordinary people from various countries.

How can one choose blindness to a common humanity?

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Viva Palestina Email Alert
Midnight, Sunday 8th March 2009

A message from the Viva Palestina website

Viva Palestina is your story

Thirty years ago, as an 11-year-old boy, I remember eagerly awaiting 5.05pm on a Monday and Thursday for the start of Blue Peter. I, like millions of other children, was desperate for our first glimpse of the totaliser – the bright flashing lights showing us how much money we had raised between programmes for that year’s Blue Peter Appeal. The 1979 appeal, with it’s bring and buy sales, had been launched after the horrors of Cambodia’s ‘killing fields’ had been exposed to the world.

And it wasn’t just children who wanted to know – the weekly total was reported on the national news and in the national papers, journalists sought out heart-warming stories of those who had given up their toys, clothes and books to help the impoverished and destitute thousands of miles away in South East Asia.


Working on the website for Viva Palestina I have had the daily task of making our own appeal totaliser reflect the generosity of another generation. Each day I’ve been overwhelmed by the scale of the donations and the stories that accompany them – of a four year old child in Manchester who emptied her piggy bank for the children of Gaza and so spurred her family into raising over £1,600; of the four girls in Torquay who baked cakes to sell at their school, of the hundreds of children in Preston who packed shoeboxes with toys and presents for other children whom they had never met. These stories have been repeated up and down the country – and they are a shining tribute to Britain at its best.


And just as in 1979 they should have been reported – shouted from the rooftops and celebrated in articles in the Sunday colour supplements.

Here was a truly incredible story – of an aid mission that in just eight weeks had galvanised community after community to create a convoy of over 100 vehicles, laden with over £1 million of aid and then driven over 5000 miles and two continents to relieve the suffering in Gaza.


And it was a movement that was created from scratch, with no full time staff – just a website, a few blogs, text messages, public meetings and a million conversations. Surely this would be worth reporting; surely this was news
.

But the sad reality is that the Viva Palestina convoy, carrying the love and human solidarity from the people of Britain to the people of Gaza has been deemed un-newsworthy by nearly all of the British media.


The BBC, who next week will entreat us all to do ‘something funny for money’ in aid of Comic Relief has felt fit to mention the Convoy just three times on its website (and once hidden away in the Africa pages). The Guardian, that bastion of ‘liberal Britain’ only reported it once it thought it had the makings of a nasty little smear. The Independent showed its ‘independence’ by spiking a column by Mark Steel, which discussed Viva Palestina.


We did get media coverage from abroad – from France and Spain, Italy, Canada and a host of other countries but in Britain we had to rely on the work of a few journalists on local newspapers who still recognise a good story when they see one.


One can’t help but wonder how the national media would have responded had the convoy been headed for Darfur instead of Gaza – or had not been supported so over-whelmingly by Britain’s beleaguered Muslim community. Perhaps we may have even have made it onto Blue Peter.


Depressingly, our most prominent publicity came when nine of our convoy members were arrested in the piece of pure political theatre on the M65 – the day before the convoy departed. Yet the same media outlets, that reported the arrests with such gusto on the day of departure, chose to ignore or downgrade the news that all nine men were entirely innocent and had been released without charge. Even the terrible damage to community relations in Blackburn and Burnley resulting from these arrests was not a news-worthy topic for Britain’s ‘quality’ press.


The Viva Palestina convoy has been a remarkable achievement; it has overcome a virtual media blackout, the cynical arrests of some of its members and the refusal of banks to allow us to open accounts.


Yet despite all this we are now just a few hours away from taking our aid into Gaza. The vehicles and their contents represent the hopes of millions and the solidarity of whole communities: of families, mosques, churches and schools. Whatever happens at the Rafah crossing today – and we hope and pray for a swift and smooth crossing into Gaza – Viva Palestina has been a remarkable story.


It is a story that has only just begun. Its first chapter lasted just one hectic month from an inspired idea hatched by George Galloway in early January to the departure on Valentine’s Day in London’s Hyde Park. Its second chapter, the journey itself, is almost over and we hope it will soon be told in a film, report back meetings and, it has been suggested, perhaps a book as well.

The story will now continue into its third chapter with the distribution of the convoy’s aid and the purchase and delivery of even more – from water-purification systems for schools and neighbourhoods to a field hospital and medical equipment for the injured, tents for the homeless and much more. Convoy members will return with the names of clinics, schools and communities with which to twin their local communities in Britain.

If our media, whose own cynicism has been so badly exposed by their silence, continue to write Viva Palestina out of the news then we must do all we can to spread the news ourselves. We have shown that what ordinary people do can make a real difference – and perhaps that is what the editors and news-chiefs hate most of all. Or maybe we just didn’t have enough celebrities driving the fire engine!


So in the quiet moments before the crossing I would like to thank all those who have worked so hard for this project. Those who collected the aid, sorted it, packed it and filled the vehicles; those who donated online – from over thirty five countries across the globe – and who filled the collecting tins and buckets; the drivers with their legendary endurance and those who found time to blog their stories; the local newspaper journalists who reported the convoy and the journalists who wrote stories that their editors refused to print: to the people who sent in their pictures and video clips to the website – and finally to Farid Arada who kept us all up to date with his daily reports on the convoy’s location. The Viva Palestina story is your story.


The investigative journalist John Pilger, who broke the news of Cambodia’s ‘killing fields’ three decades ago, has made a film called ‘Palestine is still the issue’ – and he is right. The convoy story is but one bright spark in the ongoing tragedy of Palestine and its courageous people. The issue remains to be resolved but Viva Palestina has taken us one step closer to a solution – a solution based on solidarity, co-operation and love.

Clive Searle

Viva Palestina website


The Guardian Attacks Humanitarian Aid Convoy

An update on the humanitarian aid convoy.

This letter tells a lot about mainstream media’s not-so-subtle defense of Israel.

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From Rob Hoveman, House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA

Re: Guardian article March 3, ‘ Galloway’s Gaza mission runs into protests’

It says everything we need to know about cynical journalism (March 3) that the first time the Guardian chooses to cover the Viva Palestina convoy of aid to Gaza – an epic journey of over 5,000 miles – it is to repeat as fact tittle tattle culled from the blogosphere.

Two hundred and eighty people have driven through eight different countries to deliver over a million pounds of aid to the stricken people of Gaza. Everywhere we have been, the convoy has been greeted with thousands of well-wishers who have provided food, fuel and accommodation.

The Algerian government allowed passage across the border with Morocco for the first time in 15 years. In Tunisia we were joined by six of the people who the Lancashire police wrongly arrested and detained, preventing them reaching London for the start of the journey.

In Libya we were celebrated by thousands on the streets and a Libyan charity, inspired by the convoy, has established its own convoy of trucks to Gaza.

We are currently negotiating entry into Egypt and passage through to Gaza. The Egyptian authorities are doing everything they can to assist the process and we are in their hands, as we have been with all the other governments whose countries we have crossed in order to take these vital supplies into Gaza.

The Viva Palestina convoy and the achievements of the 280 volunteers who have driven so far deserve celebration, not denigration by The Guardian.

Rob Hoveman
Assistant to George Galloway MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA