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(of whom 412 Kids have been killed)
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Update:10 Feb 2010

 

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LATEST NEWS

Israeli warplanes target Gaza airport

Wed, 10 Feb 2010 07:03:29 GMT:

Israeli warplanes have launched an overnight attack on the southern Gaza Strip, pounding an international airport in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.... Read more

Wed, 10 Feb 2010: Israel: Karni crossing to remain shut till Hamas rules


Wed, 10 Feb 2010: Israel plans to raze 200 homes in Jerusalem Al-Quds


Wed, 10 Feb 2010: 'US undermining Palestinian reconciliation efforts'

IN VIDEO

UN Inquiry Finds Israel "Punished and Terrorized" Palestinian Civilians, Committed War Crimes During Gaza Assault

Part 1:



Part 2:
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Timeline of the Crisis – the UK perspective

1st Nov 2010: Sir Cyril Townsend writing for Middle East Monitor: "It is almost a year since the publication of the UN's Goldstone Report on Israel's war against Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. The Committee which prepared the 525 page Report concluded that Israel attacked civilians, police stations, government ministries, food factories, sewage plants and power plants, using 'collective punishment' in the process. Careful planning had gone into the assault which was intended to punish, humiliate, and terrorise the civilian population in the besieged Gaza Strip.

One would have assumed that the international community has already laid charges against all the Israeli leaders responsible for waging that brutal and inhumane war. However, that – as far as I know has not happened." Reportage

3rd June 2010: The MCB's Secretary General and over 70 other organisations and individuals representing civil society and academic leaders have signed a letter to the Prime Minister, published as a full page advertisement in The Guardian: "We, the undersigned, are appalled at the unlawful killing of humanitarian workers on board Mavi Marmara by Israeli commandoes in international waters defying international law. The Gaza Freedom flotilla was an international humanitarian attempt to bring aid to the besieged population of Gaza. ...The blockade has heaped misery on Gaza's 1.5 million residents many of whom are refugees in their own country forcibly evacuated from Israel proper. The UN humanitarian co-ordinator said last week that the formal economy in Gaza has "collapsed" and 60% of households were short of food. According to UN statistics, around 70% of Gazans live on less than $1 a day, 75% rely on food aid and 60% have no daily access to water...We, urge you in the name of humanity to provide leadership to end this siege, this state of affairs should not be allowed to continue for a day longer and the time has come for the newly elected British government to use all its resources to bring an end to the inhumane Gaza blockade" Reportage

18th Jan 2010, London:Indications are that the Government policy of 'suspending relations' with the Muslim Council of Britain because its Deputy Secretary General had endorsed the Istanbul Gaza Declaration in a private capacity has been shelved. This policy had been initiated by former Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (CLG) Hazel Blears with support from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and included a demand for Dr Daud Abdullah's resignation - see Timeline entry below for Sunday 8th March 2009. In a press statement, the MCB noted that it had written to the new CLG minister, John Denham, "clarifying issues" and affirming that its "deeply held belief that its disagreements over illegal and inhumane Israeli occupation policies and its concerns for the plight and sufferings of Palestinians under the might of the Israeli state have not detracted it from its work with others where it finds common purpose. Whilst MCB is committed to faithfully represent the views of its affiliates on the Palestinian question, it has always stood, and continue to stand, firmly against any forms of Anti-Semitism or indeed any other forms of racism. It does not accept that speaking out against the actions of Israel means supporting attacks on Jewish communities around the world." Reportage

Nick Watt in the Guardian on 15th January noted that "John Denham, the communities secretary, said the MCB would now be able to contribute to an 'ongoing dialogue' with the government, after giving categorical assurances of its opposition to antisemitism and other forms of racism."

Community sentiment is that a pragmatic formula has been reached, with the MCB reiterating its support for Palestinian liberation and also standing up to Government demands to sack an elected office bearer; while CLG has obtained assurances from the Muslim community's largest representative body that it would "revisit" its governance protocols to ensure that "personal actions of senior leaders remain true to the organisation's agreed policies".

8th Jan 2010, Cairo:British MP and champion of Palestinian rights George Galloway has been deported by the Egyptian authorities. The Independent reported that "the incident began after Mr Galloway and his colleague, Ron McKay, arrived at the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt. As soon as they emerged on to Egyptian soil, both men were forcibly pushed into a van, refused exit and told that they were leaving the country. They were then driven off in a police convoy. The aid convoy of 550 people from 17 countries was caught up in violent scenes on Tuesday, which they blamed on 'heavy-handed policing' of the group. The spokeswoman said 55 convoy members were injured and seven were arrested. 'Mr Galloway and Turkish MPs struck a deal with Egyptian authorities, part of which was that the seven detainees were released without charge. 'On the enforced drive to Cairo, news came through of the imminent arrest of the seven but, when Mr Galloway demanded to return to Rafah, permission was repeatedly denied'. A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: 'We will continue to offer consular assistance to anyone who needs it'." Reportage

6th Jan 2010, London:The Guardian reports that "the government is determined to protect high-ranking Israeli officials from arrest in the UK, the attorney general said, as it emerged that a further visit by the Israeli military had been cancelled. Speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today, Baroness Scotland said Israeli leaders should not face arrest for war crimes under the law of 'universal jurisdiction', following attempts by British lawyers last month to obtain a warrant for the former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni....Scotland's assurance comes as the Guardian learned that the Israeli military had cancelled a visit by a team of its officers to Britain after fears they risked arrest on possible war crimes charges. A group of officers, reportedly from the rank of major up to colonel, were invited by the British army for a meeting on military co-operation but cancelled last week. There were also reports today that Israeli officials feared possible arrest warrants and contacted British authorities to demand a guarantee that the officers would not be arrested. Last week, British officials reportedly said they could offer no such guarantee and the Israeli military promptly cancelled the visit."

Reportage

6th Jan 2010, Egypt-Gaza border: The London2Gaza site reports: "“Our crew physically ok, sounded shaken.Started whn Egypt said big vehicles & trucks had to b given to ISRAEL! Galloway said no. Eg negotiator walked out. 5 mins later riot police turned up. Trouble seemed 2 start wn plain clothed Egyp police in compound started stirring things

Reportage

5th Jan 2010, London & other towns and cities: The organisers of a 'Gaza Memorial Week' have announced that between 13th and 19th January there will be a numbe of events: the launching of the biggest parliamentarian delegation to Gaza; screening of the film 'To Shot an Elephant' at Goldsmith University; Action Palestine, a student body, will hold various workshops in Sussex Brighton and Manchester universities. On 13th January, at a meeting organised at Friends House, a speaker will include Om Kamel, a Palestinian mother whose house was demolished many times and her husband died due to the harsh conditions and impositions on the family by Israel. She now lives in a very small tent in occupied Jerusalem. This event will include speeches by Clare Short MP, Baroness Jenny Tonge, Bob Marshall-Andrews MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and also invitees from Palestine.

Organisers include the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), Palestinian Forum in the UK, European Campaign to End Siege on Gaza, Islamic forum of Europe (IFE), Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Islamic Human Rights Commission in Britain (IHRC), Student Council Goldsmith University and Action Palestine.

Reportage

22nd Dec 2009, London : Nick Clegg, Leader of the Lib Dem Party, noted in The Guardian, "What is less well-known is the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The legacy of Operation Cast Lead is a living nightmare for one and a half million Palestinians squeezed into one of the most overcrowded and wretched stretches of land on the planet. And as Israel and Egypt maintain a near total blockade against Gaza, the misery deepens by the day. This is not only shocking in humanitarian terms. It is not in Israel's or Egypt's interest, either. Confining people in abject poverty in a tiny slice of territory is a recipe for continued bitterness, fury and radicalism.

And what has the British government and the international community done to lift the blockade? Next to nothing. Tough-sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied. It is a scandal that the international community has sat on its hands in the face of this unfolding crisis...According to a recently leaked report by the UN office of the humanitarian co-ordinator, Gaza is undergoing 'a process of de-development, which potentially could lead to the complete breakdown of public infrastructure'. A report released today by a group of 16 humanitarian and human rights groups further spells out the effects..."

Reportage

14th Dec 2009, London: Al Jazeera London's correspondent has reported that a warrant has been issued by a British judge for the arrest of former Israeli foreign minister Tsipi Livni for alleged war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip last winter. Ms Livni was scheduled to speak in London at a conference organized by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on 13 December. According to the correspondent the Jewish Chronicle reported this morning that Livni cancelled her visit over fear of arrest. The issue of a warrant for the arrest of a former Israeli political figure implicated in war crime is the first of its kind issued by a European court after the war on Gaza and resultant Goldstone report, which confirmed that war crimes were committed by the Israelis in the Occupied Territory."

Reportage

11th Dec 2009, London: "The Foreign Office was forced to intervene to stop a Department for Communities and Local Government initiative to reassure the Muslim community that the British government did not support Israel’s actions in Gaza."

Reportage

11th Dec 2009, London: "Britain was today embroiled in an international row after Israel accused the Government of encouraging a boycott of foods from its settlements in the West Bank. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued voluntary guidance to UK supermarkets stating labels should differentiate between 'Israeli settlement produce' and 'Palestinian produce'. Foods are currently labelled 'Produce of the West Bank'."

Reportage

12th Nov 2009, London: "A delegation of members from the Palestinian community met with Ivan Lewis, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth office for Middle East and North Africa, on Thursday 12 November 2009, to raise specific concerns over events in the Middle East and in particular the situation in Palestine. The delegation which included, Majed Al-Zeer, Talal El-Deeb, Sousan Al -Asfari and Haifa Al -Keelaani spoke to Mr Lewis for over two hours in an effort to further strengthen relationship between the British Government and the Palestinian community.

The delegation spoke in detail about the Middle East but more crucially on the bleak situation in Palestine. Mr Lewis listened attentively to the grim conditions in the West Bank and Gaza where there is daily abuse of human rights and international law. The delegation gave their distressing observation of the siege on Gaza and the ineffective response of the international community. Mr Lewis also listed several issues regarding the British position on the situation in the Middle East such as the Goldstone report."

Reportage source: Press release issued by the Palestinian Return Centre

12th Nov 2009, London: "The government is to launch a charm offensive to rebuild the trust of the Jewish community in response to the anger unleashed by the Goldstone Report on Gaza. Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis met senior representatives of the community on Tuesday to reassure them about last week’s decision to abstain in the UN General Assembly on a resolution endorsing the findings of the controversial report. Judge Richard Goldstone found that Israel and Hamas should be investigated for war crimes during the conflict...

Downing Street is said to have been surprised by the lack of feedback from the wider Jewish community about the Goldstone Report, but recognised that the Jewish leadership was furious."

17th Oct 2009, New York & London: "Britain was roundly criticised last night after opting out of a controversial United Nations vote that condemned Israel for war crimes. Britain had been involved in efforts to wrest last-ditch concessions from Israel amid warnings that the resolution before the UN Human Rights Council would do irrevocable harm to the Middle East peace process. Those efforts failed, and the Palestinian resolution, which endorsed the controversial Goldstone report into alleged war crimes in Gaza, passed overwhelmingly....

Britain had been planning to abstain over concerns that the resolution was unfairly biased against Israel, but was unwilling to risk weakening Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, by standing with Washington against it. But that position began to unravel yesterday morning when it became apparent that other European members on the council, including Italy and the Netherlands, were planning to vote against. That would have left Britain and France looking exposed and out of step with the rest of Europe.

British officials said that Mr Brown and President Sarkozy of France decided to back Mr Netanyahu if he would move on three concessions that they believed could help to rescue the peace process: a freeze on all settlement activity, an independent Israeli investigation and an immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza. Those last-minute efforts, however, were thwarted by Egypt, a co-sponsor of the resolution, which refused two French appeals for a two-hour delay, forcing a vote before any concessions could be wrung from Israel. Britain and France therefore failed either to cast a vote or abstain. The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that the Government, 'by standing by', had helped to undermine peace efforts. 'This is no basis on which to proceed against a country defending itself against eight years of unrelenting rocket attacks, when even that essential contextual background was missing from the report,' said the board, the main representative body for Jewish people in Britain..." Reportage

5th Oct 2009, London: "Israeli vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon has canceled a planned trip to Britain over fears of being arrested there, Israeli sources have said. Ya'alon was invited to London to attend a fund-raising dinner for Benji's Home, a group home for soldiers with no family in Israel. The British branch of the Jewish National Fund had invited Ya'alon to attend the dinner." Reportage

29th Sept 2009, London: "Israel received an uncomfortable reminder of international anger over the Gaza war today when lawyers representing 16 Palestinians asked a London court to issue an arrest warrant for its defence minister, Ehud Barak, who is visiting Britain...Lawyers from Irvine Thanvi Natas and Imran Khan & Partners said they believed the warrant that the international criminal court issued in May last year for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, offered a precedent....Deputy district judge Daphne Wickham said allegations of war crimes had been well documented, but added: 'I am satisfied that under customary international law Mr Barak has immunity from prosecution as he would not be able to perform his functions efficiently if he were the subject of criminal proceedings in this jurisdiction'." Reportage: The Guardian, 29th September 2009

24th Sept 2009, London: A JC report indicates that Communities Secretary John Denham MP was put on the defensive by a journalist, being made to clarify that he "recognised his unpopularity in some sections of the Jewish community because of his backing for Palestinian causes, but asked British Jews to look at his record on anti-racism and his consistent stance on antisemitism". The same report also suggests that civil servants continue to be economical with the truth in briefings to their political master on the issue of the February 2009 Istanbul Declaration on Gaza Declaration and the MCB. It is apparent the Secretary of State is clearly not receiving both sides of the story, because he is still maintaining that "there was not too much room for doubt about its [the Declaration's] interpretation in terms of support for violence, including British troops.' However, the door was open for dialogue if the Abdullah issue could be resolved."
Salaam comment: Mr Denham's record of his War on Want days should be a matter of pride, not apology! For the record, the text of items 7 & 8 of the Istanbul Declaration 'A statement by the religious scholars and proselytisers (du'a) of the Islamic Nation (ummah) to all rulers and peoples concerning events in Gaza' is as follows:

  • The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity.
  • The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as in effect a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation, that must be rejected and fought by all means and ways.
    Dr Daud Abdullah was among 90 eminent Islamic scholars signing the declaration, which he did in a personal capacity.

    In March 2009, John Denham's predecessor as Secretary of State at the Department for Communities & Local Government, Hazel Blears MP, alleged that this was "a declaration that supports violence against foreign forces - which include British naval personnel - as the Prime Minister has offered British naval support to stop the smuggling of weapons to Gaza; and advocating attacks on Jewish communities all around the world" [26th March 2009, The Guardian]. Dr Daud then responded in the Guardian, "I am absolutely opposed to any attack or violence directed against innocent persons of any faith or no faith anywhere in the world. To claim that I call for attacks on Jewish communities throughout the world is completely false and an inflammatory and malicious assault on my beliefs, words and actions".

    In a separate public statement also issued in March, Dr Daud added, "the focus of Blears' latest concern is item 7 of the document which talks about the political 'position' towards those who support the Israeli ('Zionist entity') crimes - and they are crimes, as Israel is commiting actions which are illegal and contrary to international law. The paragraph does not suggest in any way how to react to those who support Israel. More importantly, it refers to those who support Israeli crimes in general including Arabs and Musims, as was clear from other puarts of hte statement which criticised the Arab regimes more than anyone else. However, none of these autocratic regimes interpreted this statement as a call for violence or atack on them or anyone else. For the purposes of clarity, my position remains as follows: 1. I do not call for or support attacks on British troops anywhere in the world. As a British citizen, I have the right to criticise and campaign against government political decisions that embroil young British soldiers in illegal occupations and interventions...the Palestinians have the right to resist Israel's illegal occupation, a right supported by international law and the Charter of the UN. In the same way as it is a British value to respect international law and support justice and freedom of oppressed people, I, along with the Muslim community and large sections of the wider British society, support the rights of the Palestinians".

  • Clearly Dr Daud Abdullah is going blue in the face yet CLG is clinging to its interpretation that the MCB and its Deputy Secretary General have not done enough to distance themselves from 'supporting violence'!

    25th Sept 2009, London: Engage, the Muslim media resource, notes that the Board of Deputies has submitted a memorandum to Government that declares "any future engagement with umbrella groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain must be contingent on them representing a greater range of views than those of the Islamists, and firmly rejecting violence in all circumstances, including in overseas conflicts". The BoD cites the Istanbul Declaration and Dr Daud Abdullah's signature, stating, "there is no long-term value in building partnerships with those whose attitude towards violent jihad is contingent upon circumstance. The issue is confronting an extremist and alien political ideology which promotes the supremacy of Islam over other faiths and democratic political systems, a core belief in antisemitism and the use of violence to achieve its ends.” (click here)
    Salaam Postings:"British Zionists and their cheer leaders are trying to intimidate John Denham, the new communites secretary. Before the Board of Deputies of British Jews and its associated apologists get too gung ho about putting down conditions to be met by British Muslims for the government to engage with them, they need to assure the auithorities that their constituency is neither backing, arming, funding, advocating or participating in illegal settlements in Palestine and thus contributing to the brutal ethnic cleansing of that land. They would also need to assure the government that no dual British / Israeli citizen doing time with the Zionist army, has participated in the committment of the war crimes amply documented by the Goldstone Commission for the UN."

    20th Sept 2009, London: Posting on Foreign Secretary David Miliband's official blog by a visitor: "I am surpised that you have no comment on the UN's report of Israeli war crimes and no comment on the Trade Union boycott of Israel. The 5 million Palestian people dislocated from their homes by violence and under occupation for many years does not seem to matter. Israel has continued to destablise the region and beyond for 60 years." (click here - see 'Comment').

    17th Sept 2009, Brighton:TUC General Council's statement on Palestine, "The TUC reiterates its condemnation of the Government of Israel's offensive in Gaza which resulted in 1,450 Palestinian deaths and 5,000 injured, as well as the massive, systematic destruction of infrastructure. We also reiterate our condemnation of the rocket attacks from inside Gaza against Israeli civilians. We welcome the findings of the UN investigation which highlighted possible war crimes on both sides of the conflict. The TUC remains concerned about the situation in Gaza and reiterates its opposition to the Israeli blockade, which is in contravention of international law and prevents vital supplies from reaching the people of Gaza. We welcome the contributions unions made earlier this year to the TUC Aid appeal for Gaza.

    As a result of the Gaza offensive, the TUC calls on the British Government to:

    (a) condemn the Israeli military aggression and the continuing blockade of Gaza;
    (b) end arms sales to Israel which reached a value of £18.8 million in 2008, up from £7.7 million in 2007;
    (c) seek EU agreement to impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal settlements; and
    (d) support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement which provides preferential trade facilities to Israel. " click here.

    21st July 2009, London: The Middle East Monitor (MEMO) releases a report into the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank (click here for report 'Concern about British & EU roles in Palestinian Authority Human Rights abuses in the Occupied West Bank'). The report draws extensively from international human rights organizations and Palestinian academic sources in the West Bank and highlights the supervisory role played by several international actors, including British, in the Palestinian Authority security and police services. These include the International Quartet Envoy and his team, the US Security Coordinator and private security companies including the London based Libra Advisory Group. Dr Daud Abdullah, the Centre's CEO said, 'it is quite disturbing and a matter of grave concern that such widespread abuses were allowed to continue while so many international personnel are working in the territory.'

    9th July 2009, London: The Department for International Development (DfID)hosts reception on the theme 'Hope to Gaza', with Dr Mohammad Al Soussi, Country Director for Islamic Relief Palestine, speaking.

    3rd July 2009, Belfast: Belfast peace activist and Nobel Peace prize winner Mairead Maguire, taking an aid boat of medicines and other supplies to Gaza, is under arrest in Ramala - and no statement has been issued by the Foreign Office as yet. She has informed the Belfast Telegraph: "We were threatened by the Israeli navy when we were in |international waters and during the night they told us they would shoot if we didn’t turn back to Cyprus. They cut off all our satellite communications and our lives were very much in danger,| because we could have strayed into Israeli waters. We sailed on and they kept threatening that they would shoot if we didn’t turn back. They were fully armed and wore balaclavas. They took all our equipment off us and handcuffed several people. They took me into a separate place and forcibly took our ship to Israel. I was taken handcuffed in a military vehicle and I’m here in the prison in the clothes I arrived in. At the moment there are 19 of us still being held here after two Palestinian women were released. They have said we are going to be deported, but deportation orders aren’t appropriate for us, as we were taken to Israel against our will. We want to leave Israel, but with our friends and all the belongings that were taken from us." Reportage: click here

    18th June 2009, London: Human rights body Al-Haq has announced that the UK Divisional Court in London will be hearing the preliminary motions of the case it has initiated, in cooperation with solicitor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), challenging the UK government over its failure to fulfil its obligations under international law with respect to Israel’s activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Reportage: click here

    11th June 2009, London: Dr Daud Abdullah's attendance at the Istanbul Gaza Conference [see entry for 22nd March below] was targetted by ex-Minister Hazel Blears as part of a broader agenda of denying Muslims in Britain the freedom of political expression and Muslim scaremongering - this is what can be inferred from an account by one of her special advisors (Paul Richards) in the Jewish Chronicle: "One of the bravest things I have witnessed is the stand taken by ex-Cabinet Minister Hazel Blears against political Islam. As her adviser, I saw first-hand the pressures on her to sit round the table with groups whose political outlook was the diametric opposite of her beliefs in pluralist democracy, rights for minorities and equality for women. She consistently stood firm. For years, government ministers unquestioningly invited the leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to meetings to 'represent' the political, ethnic and religious diversity of Britain’s Muslims, as though such a thing were possible. First under Ruth Kelly, then Hazel Blears, the Government wised up to the nonsense that a small, unelected group of men, drawn from the conservative elements of Islamic politics, spoke for millions of Muslims in modern Britain. New groups were nurtured and supported, such as the Muslim Women’s Advisory Group. The hardliners in the MCB and other groups were challenged, not fêted. It culminated in a boycott of the MCB after one of its leaders attended a conference in Istanbul dominated by supporters of Hamas....The way to tackle this strand of political Islam, which creates the environment for terrorists to brainwash and recruit potential bombers is not to debate with it, nor to invite it for tea at the Department for Communities or Number Ten. It is to expose it, disrupt it, and make it clear such views are repulsive and unacceptable. The new Secretary of State, John Denham, and the new Communities Minister, Shahid Malik, arrived at their desks this week. All eyes will be on them." Was Mr Richards the Rasputin in Czarina Hazel's court? Will John Denham be the Prince Youssoupoff?
    Reportage Click here, Jewish Chronicle, 11th June 2009

    21st May 2009, London: Foreign Secretary David Milliband's speech at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies on the theme of a 'coalition of consent' between the West and the Muslim world comes across as a reorientation of style and presentation rather than substance. With reference to Gaza he noted, "In 2000 we and many of our EU partners shunned the Austrian government not because of the way it had come to power but because of the far-right views and policies it espoused. When it comes to Hamas, no one disputes that they won the most seats. We are not claiming that their election was 'illegitimate'. We are saying the failure to embrace a political process towards a two-state solution makes normal political relations impossible."

    Well-informed observers probed this dogma - for example the Financial Times pointed out the persisting double standard: "it is not clear how far Mr Miliband’s empathetic attempt to see the west as others see it goes. On the west’s destructive and failed attempt to isolate a democratically elected Hamas government... His Arab and Muslim interlocutors would and do ask whether this formula also applies to a rejectionist Israel..."

    The Muslim lobby website i-engage (iengage.org.uk) identifed other inconsistencies in policy: "The FCO’s regrettable promotion and financial backing of the Quilliam Foundation – an outfit with no legitimacy or credibility among UK Muslims - is just one potent example of the responsibility the FCO bears in ensuring that the nature of our engagement be worthy of the values we claim to embrace and observe."
    Reportage Click here

    22nd April 2009, London: Nicholas Watt has revealed details of UK arms exports to Israel,

  • Israeli reconnaissance satellites...
  • F16 aircraft were "widely used" to deliver precision-guided bombs, and incorporate British components. Britain has banned the export of F16 components directly to Israel since 2002. But British F16 components are exported to the US "where Israel was the ultimate end user".
  • Apache attack helicopters, which incorporate British components, exported to the US for use on helicopters "ultimately destined for Israel".
  • Saar-class corvette naval vessels, which incorporate a British 76mm gun, and took part in operations from waters off Gaza....

    Watt added, "In a written statement to MPs, the foreign secretary, David Miliband, announced that all current and future licences permitting the export of military equipment would be reviewed in the light of the three-week Operation Cast Lead."
    Reportage Click here

    21st April 2009, London: Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent of the Guardian reports that "British lawyers attempting to build a war crimes case against Israel have been blocked from entering the Gaza Strip because the Foreign Office has refused to support their work"
    Reportage Click here

    14th April 2009, London: George Galloway stands up to Charity Commissioners on Viva Palestina campaign: "Without any knowledge of the intentions of Viva Palestina and on the basis of press reports, you pronounced, as is your wont, that we were in effect a charity, to give yourselves locus in our affairs. You misunderstood - I believe deliberately - the structure of our Gaza convoy, purporting to believe that we - the subscribers (whatever that means) - were holding more than a million pounds about which you expressed 'concerns', when in fact, as you have been told but continue to ignore, this was never the case.

    You first frightened the banks into refusing our attempts to open a bank account. When we finally found a bank which would allow us to open an account you intimidated them into freezing it, I believe exceeding your powers. You then began procuring documents - possibly illegally - about us from the Islamic Bank. As a result of your press briefings about your "concerns" newspapers began to refuse to accept advertisements from us, donors turned away, and the public were encouraged to believe that Viva Palestina was something to be avoided - conjuring-up an undisclosed but lurking suspicion about it. In all this you acted not as the public would expect a Charity Commission to do..."
    Reportage Click here

    10th April 2009, London: On receipt of a letter from Farooq Bajwa & Co - solicitors acting on behalf of Dr Daud Abdullah [see 4th April item below]- the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Hazel Blears has now responded. Her Department appears to have leaked the Government solicitors' response to the media. Instead of accepting that Dr Abdullah's anti-Zionism should not have been linked to anti-semitism, the Secretary of State seems content to prolong the affair: "We act for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and have been passed a copy of your letter to her dated 31 March....If, as you insist on his behalf, your client is opposed to all violence of any sort, then that is a further reason why he should not have signed the [Istanbul Gaza] Declaration and should now distance himself from it. ...Dr Abdullah will no doubt wish to consider this reply, with the benefit of advice from you. We should make it clear, however, that if his decision is to proceed with an action against the Secretary of State, that action will be defended robustly; and the Secretary of State will take all steps necessary to vindicate her position in front of a judge and jury. We hope this will not be necessary; but if proceedings are issued, we confirm that we have instructions to accept service on behalf of the Secretary of State. It follows, of course, that your offer of settlement is rejected." Reportage Click here
    Blog 'Hazel Blears must go'

    9th April 2009, London: Martin Bright, ardent mindreader of the Muslim psyche ("I have always been depressed at the size of the psychological space occupied by the Palestinian struggle in the minds of young British Muslims") calls for a letter-writing campaign to defend Hazel Blears: "... to take up cudgels for an elected politician under attack from a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Blears has objected to Abdullah signing up to the Istanbul declaration against Isreal's action in Gaza...".
    Reportage Spectator

    4th April 2009, London: BBC reports that " A leading member of the Muslim Council of Britain is suing cabinet minister Hazel Blears for defamation, following a row over the Israeli bombing of Gaza. Dr Daud Abdullah, who is the MCB deputy secretary-general, is seeking damages." Reportage Click here
    The Guardian added that "Abdullah's lawyers have told Blears that unless she issues a retraction and apology by 15 April they will issue proceedings for libel."
    ReportageClick here

    3rd April 2009, London: Frankie Green, writing in The Guardian's Letter page, "I am puzzled by the lack of scrutiny afforded to the questions raised by Hazel Blears's assertion that 'the prime minister has offered British naval support to stop the smuggling of weapons to Gaza' ...Under what remit would British forces be engaged in supporting Israeli military operations off the coast of Palestinian territory? And while British sailors should not have to face threats of attacks by British citizens, as Denis MacShane MP says...why should British taxpayers fund such deployment?

    If the government is concerned about Gaza's horrific civilian suffering, why not utilise resources to pressure Israel to cease its merciless siege instead of making us complicit with its war crimes? And why is the shipping of weapons to Gaza 'smuggling', but the multimillion-pound arms trade with Israel entirely legitimate?"
    Reportage Click here

    3rd April 2009, London:Rachel Shabi, writing in The Guardian, "Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel's assault on Gaza.... The problem, said Katrivas [Israel Manufacturers Association] is in part the discussion in the UK over how to label goods that come from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Last week British government officials met with food industry representatives to discuss the issue..."
    Reportage Click here

    2nd April 2009, London: Peter Wilby in the New Statesman: "Try this sentence. 'Mrs Thatcher’s poll tax must be fought by all ways and means.' I cannot be certain that any Labour shadow minister or MP made this statement in the late 1980s, but it is likely some of them said or wrote something similar. But when Daud Abdullah, deputy secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, signs a declaration stating that the entry of 'foreign warships' into Gazan waters should be 'fought by all means and ways', all hell breaks lose. Never mind that the declaration didn’t mention the Royal Navy and that such an operation is purely hypothetical. If you’re a Muslim, you have to mind your language. Unlike, say, Gordon Brown, who can talk about 'British jobs for British workers' whenever he likes..."
    Reportage Click here

    1st April 2009, London:Bob Lambert and Jonathan Githens-Mazer writing in The Guardian, "In recent weeks an unnecessary schism has been created between government and British Islamists. First, government failure to condemn Israel in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead exposed a bias towards Israel and an ambivalence towards the value of Palestinian lives that angered British Islamists. Next, the government's new counter-terrorism strategy ('Contest Two') served to amplify pre-existing British Islamist concerns at being treated as "fifth columnists". Then, along came Hazel Blears with an ill-judged assault on Daud Abdullah and the Muslim Council of Britain. Taken together these incidents reinforce concerns that British Islamists are uniquely held out for political attack, and illustrate the power of key anti-Islamist lobbying groups... Daud Abdullah is a mainstream British Islamist who, like so many of our interviewees, has demonstrated his loyalty to Britain regularly over a long period often in demanding circumstances, and despite extremist Muslim criticism. His participation in British politics is a bulwark against those seeking to disengage and potentially those who seek to promote violence. Daud Abdullah, typical of mainstream British Islamists, shows a sense of resolve, commitment and heart in withstanding a constant battering from formidable opponents on both flanks. In the months ahead, democratic and peaceful political Islamist activism in Britain will continue to focus on the injustices suffered by Palestinians at the hands of Israel, and call for Hamas to be treated on an equal footing to Israel. It urgently needs to be recognised that, in so doing, British Islamists demonstrate their appetite for British politics... "
    Reportage Click here

    Saturday 28th March 2009, London: MPAC's investigation - "In a piece on the Guardian's Cif titled 'Our shunning of the MCB is not grandstanding', Hazel Blears goes through the reasons why the Government wanted Dr. Daud Abdullah of the MCB to be sacked from his position [for signing the Istanbul Declaration on Gaza]. What is disturbing is why she would use the morally bankrupt cesspool 'Harrys Place' as a source of information?....Is she or her office being guided or influenced by people who run 'Harry's Place"
    Reportage Click here

    Friday 27th March 2009, London: Ken Livingstone and others' letter to The Guardian: "...We consider the decision of the government to demand the removal of Dr Daud Abdullah from his elected post of deputy general secretary of the MCB an attack on the democratic right of freedom of speech of every British citizen. It is our right to express whatever lawful views we wish in relation to the government's foreign policy and the criminal actions of Israel in relation to the Palestinian people. We note that the government proposes no sanctions against those who supported the military attack of Israel on Gaza and its ongoing siege despite Israel's routine flouting of international humanitarian law. It is clear that double standards are being applied which discriminate against Muslim supporters of justice for the Palestinians.We note that there is no suggestion by the government that Dr Abdullah has broken any British law. The decision by the government to suspend relations with the MCB is an act of crude bullying which no independent organisation should tolerate. The government's actions in this matter only serve to assist those who will claim it is impossible for Muslims in Britain to support justice in the Middle East by democratic means...."
    Reportage Click here

    Thursday 26th March 2009, London: In a letter to The Guardian, Secretary of State Hazel Blears raised the ante in her attack on the MCB and its Deputy Secretary General over the Istanbul Conference Gaza issue, introducing for the first time a smear of anti-semitism: "...That is why we have been asking the MCB to find out whether their deputy secretary general, Dr Abdullah, attended the conference and signed the statement. The MCB has now confirmed he did attend and did sign the declaration. A declaration that supports violence against foreign forces – which could include British naval personnel – as the prime minister has offered British naval support to stop the smuggling of weapons to Gaza; and advocating attacks on Jewish communities all around the world." Reportage Click here.
    A robust response from Dr Daud Abdullah followed, "In her misguided and ill-advised attempt to exercise control on the affairs of the largest independent Muslim organisation, the MCB, which has steadfastly and with honesty represented the views of Muslims over the years, Hazel Blears has used my attendance at the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign conference and the signing of a position document as the peg to hang her coat on. Her latest claim as stated in a letter on her behalf to our secretary-general and published in the Guardian today is that I signed a document 'advocating attacks on Jewish communities all around the world'. She had not raised this allegation before yesterday and it is entirely untrue...."
    Reportage Click here

    Thursday 26th March 2009, London: The Economist noted, in an article 'Fighting Terrorism, Getting Metaphysical': "...Ms Blears recently suspended relations with the Muslim Council of Britain, the biggest of the Islamic community groups, after a senior figure allegedly endorsed violence against foreign ships preventing arms from entering Gaza. Labour women, intolerant of Islamist views on gender, make up a disproportionate chunk of those demanding change. Ms Smith and Ms Blears have backbench allies such as Kate Hoey, Ann Cryer and Ruth Kelly (Ms Blears’s predecessor and author of the foreword to the Policy Exchange report, a glimpse of the growing co-operation, often covert, between the reformers on each side of the party-political divide). " Reportage Click here.

    Tuesday 24th March 2009, London: "Following the recent muddle over Hezbollah, the British government continues to dig itself deeper into the mire with its 'anti-extremism' policy. Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, is trying to engineer the resignation of Daud Abdullah deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. She may not like Abdullah or agree with his views but, frankly, it's none of her business. The MCB is not a government body and can appoint whoever it wants as its deputy secretary general....Abdullah's 'offence' is that he signed a declaration in Istanbul last month at a meeting called in response to the Israeli bombing of Gaza. This has been interpreted by the government and critics of the MCB as calling for violence against Israel and condoning attacks on British troops. Whether or not we approve of the Istanbul declaration's content, there is little doubt that it represents a significant strand of Muslim opinion, in Britain and elsewhere...

    Part of the problem here is that Israel's propagandists have succeeded in portraying Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaida as peas from the same pod, when in fact there are important differences. Unlike al-Qaida, neither Hamas nor Hezbollah poses a global threat, and certainly not a threat to Britain. They have both killed Israeli civilians, though on nothing like the scale of Israel's killing of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza. One does not have to be a supporter of Hezbollah or Hamas to realise that large numbers of British Muslims are likely to see double standards and injustice here, especially amid the growing evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, and that having their views dismissed out of hand by the government will only increase their sense of alienation."

    Reportage Click here

    Monday 23rd March 2009, London: Responding to the CLG Secretary of State's action [see 22nd March below] the MCB stated that it was "appalled by the high handed and condescending action" to 'severe relations'. The MCB also made clear that while "it no way supports the targeting or killing of British soldiers anywhere in the world...as an independent community organisation, the MCB is committed to faithfully representing the views of all our affiliates. As such we reaffirm the right under international law of the Palestinian people to resist the ongoing illegal and brutal occupation of their land."
    Reportage Click here

    Sunday 22nd March, London: Following the participation of Dr Daud Abdullah, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain at the 'Conference of the Global Campaign to support Palestine', held in Istanbul 12-14th February - at which attendees signed various declarations of solidarity - the British Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Hazel Blears MP has "severed relations with the country's leading Muslim organisation, saying a senior member is a supporter of Hamas, the Palestinian military organisation."
    Reportage Click here, Independent on Sunday, 22nd March 2009

    Friday 20th March 2009, Glasgow: ANC Veteren Ronnie Kasrils speaks at Strathclyde University
    Reportage Click here to view and listen

    Monday 9th March 2009, London: "Mr Galloway kissed the ground after crossing into Gaza..." thus marking the end of an epic journey. A hundred vehicle convoy from Britain had reached its destination, which, according to the BBC, brought "medicine, food, clothing and toys from the UK... after a 24-day journey through Europe and Africa."
    The Viva Palestina website, reported that "George Galloway in his historic speech from Al Katiba Square, confirmed that Ismael Hania is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and a prime minister for all the free of the world. He also said that the members of the convoy are not from the upper class of the UK, but from all walks of life, all religions, all colours. The donations came from ordinary people, from mosques and churches...". The Gaza authorities have organised a rally in honour of Viva Palestina and a program of activities that includes a tour of the damaged areas including schools, hospitals and other amenities. Some support members of Viva Palestina who managed to cross on foot after a ten-hour wait at the border were staying at Rafah as guests of the Gaza governing authorities. Reportage
    Click here, BBC
    Click here, Viva Palestina

    Sunday 8th March 2009, London: Jamie Doward writing in The Observer refers to a conference held in Istanbul at which declarations in support of justice and freedom in Gaza were adopted. He notes that the Government department 'Communities & Local Government' has taken umbrage to the participation of MCB Deputy Secretary General Dr Daud Abdullah in this event: "If it is proven that the individual concerned had been a signatory, we would expect [the MCB] to ask him to resign and to confirm its opposition to acts of violent extremism." In September 2004, Daud Abdullah was a member of a two-man British Muslim delegation that visited Iraq, and with access to all parties, he was able to work for the eventual release of the kidnapped Ken Bigley. This notable achievement was not reported in the Observer's article. Reportage Click here
    In response to the Observer article, a press release issued on 9th March by the Gaza Group - "a Coalition of British Muslim Organisations Concerned with the Rights of the Palestinian People" - stated, "We the undersigned attest to the irrefutable fact that Dr Daud Abdullah has been a leading voice condemning terrorism wherever it transpires, making him a hate figure within extremist circles; Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Dr Abdullah was democratically elected by the membership of MCB, with over 500 organisations and nobody besides the MCB electorate can oust him. It is unacceptable that the government would choose to undermine this democratic process based on media reports. The witch-hunt by the government against individuals and organisations which do not tow the government line is unacceptable. It is clear that these attacks on leading figures from the mainstream British Muslim community is nothing short of retribution for the incredible loss and humiliation suffered by Israel during its criminal attacks on Gaza."

    Tuesday 3rd March 2009, London: Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, speaking for over 400 academics and other signatories to a 'British Committee for the Universities of Palestine' letter described the proposed 'Israel Day of Science' events at institutions such as the Science Museum as a "dubious venture", which "after the offensive in Gaza, it's particularly insensitive".
    Reportage Click here

    Monday 2nd March 2009, London: About 20 Muslim representatives attend a briefing on Gaza at the FCO, chaired by Minister of State Bill Rammell with the support of CLG Minister Sadiq Khan. The participants were not impressed by Minister Rammell's remarks that "Israel is investigating its own actions, and Hamas is not". He also declared "...let us take a reality check, we cannot speak to Hamas". One participant pointed out that there were already numerous back channels at work! A fly on the wall observing the proceedings was stung by a minister's remark that "Muslims had a chip on their shoulder" - in response to comments from the floor that the Muslim community at large was not sharing the FCO's rosy self-estimation of its role in the sorry affair.

    Thursday 26th February 2009, London: The media lobby body 'Engage' releases its correspondence with the Foreign Secretary on Gaza, commenting that it "is disappointing in its proforma content", adding "The UK government claims to be acting to 'prevent violent extremism' in the UK while expecting the rest of us to turn a blind eye to its active support for the violent extremist actions of Israel. That is clearly an unacceptable and unjust position."
    Reportage Click here

    Wednesday 25th February 2009, London: Press TV report:"UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband says that talking to Hamas is 'the right thing to do' but Egypt and other parties are best placed to do it....he British official said he saw no contradiction between supporting Egypt's mediation and refusing to follow the suit in dealing directly with Hamas. "
    Reportage Click here

    Tuesday 24th February 2009, London: "Al-Haq, in cooperation with solicitor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), and the support of the Human Rights Legal Aid Trust, will be filing a claim in the UK High Court for judicial review on Tuesday 24 February 2009, challenging the UK government over its failure to fulfill its obligations under international law with respect to Israel’s activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)."
    Reportage Click here

    Sunday 22nd February 2009, St Andrews: The 'St Andrews Solidarity with Palestine campaign' organised a meeting to "to offer your solidarity with the innocent citizens of Gaza, who have had their lives often irrevocably altered by the recent outbreak of warfare in the Middle East." A student occupation is also underway calling on the university "to actively criticize(s) and condemn(s) those institutions most responsible for the continued suffering of so many people in Gaza specifically and indeed in Palestine as a whole".
    Reportage Click here

    Thursday 19th February 2009, London: George Galloway MP, the leader of the 110 vehicle British aid convoy currently in Morroco and bound for Gaza, this afternoon spoke of his anger at the high profile Lancashire Constabulary police action which led to the arrest of nine innocent men who were bound to join the Viva Palestina convoy last Friday. Six of the nine were released without charge some days ago and are now heading for Tunis in three vehicles laden with humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza. "The arrests were clearly deliberately timed for the eve of the departure of the convoy. Photographs of the high-profile snatch on the M65 were immediately fed to the press to maximise the newsworthiness of the smear that was being perpetrated on the convoy".

    The three men from the Burnley section of the Viva Palestina convoy who were held on Friday 13th on the M65, alongside the Blackburn Six, have been released. They spent six days in custody and were freed with no charges pressed against them. Reportage Click here

    Monday 16th February 2009, Birmingham: "Free Gaza" mural erased by Police, citing security risks. Reportage Click here

    Monday 16th February 2009, London: Professor Steven Rose (Open University), Sabah Al-Mukhtar (Arab Lawyers Association), Professor Jonathan Rosenhead (LSE), Dr Sue Blackwell (Birmingham), Professor Jim Al-Khalili (Surrey) and over 350 others have signed a joint letter published in The Guardian, "...the Science Museum in London and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry have both been made available (on 3 and 5 March respectively) for an event called 'Israel Day of Science'. The museums argue they are not sponsoring the event, but have merely hired out their premises. This subtle distinction is unlikely to be appreciated by the many thousands of all ages and faiths who have repeatedly taken to the streets round the country to protest against Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The event is promoted by the Zionist Federation and is designed to showcase the scientific achievements of seven Israeli universities. But all of these are complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry so recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza...In the immediate aftermath of the indiscriminate slaughter and attempted annihilation of all the infrastructure of organised society in Gaza, how can this 'celebration' be allowed to borrow some respectability from the use of these distinguished institutions? The museums should cancel these unseemly events." Reportage Click here

    Saturday 14th Feb 2009, Lancashire: The Lancashire Evening Post reported that "five Lancashire homes were being searched today following a dramatic terror swoop near Preston. Nine men travelling towards Preston were seized by police close to junction 1 of the M65 at 9pm on Friday. They were arrested in connection with terrorism offences but six were later released without charge. Three men remain in custody. It has now been confirmed to the Evening Post that the vehicles were travelling to join up with a convoy headed for Gaza." On 15th February the Independent on Sundary reported that "Detectives have been granted extra time to question three men arrested as part of a counter-terrorism operation, police said today.... The homes searched by police are in the constituency of Wajid Khan, Labour councillor for Daneshouse with Stoneyholme. Cllr Khan said: 'I'm aware of one or two individuals involved of the nine who were arrested on Friday. I'm aware of their work, they are well respected and they have been working in the community for a number of years. They're seen in a positive light in their community.' Cllr Khan said local people were "shocked" by the arrests and house searches. 'We're very close knit and we all know each other. It's shocking for any community to have to deal with. It's important that people remain strong and co-operate. The police are doing their operation and we have to be patient. It's a difficult time for us. I think the biggest frustration within the community is that a lot of money's been raised for Gaza, you're trying to help people in a humanitarian crisis. Some people might be thinking, 'is all this because this aid is going to Gaza or is it police conducting a counter-terrorism operation?' "If this was because the aid was going to Gaza then it would be a very devastating consequence for community spirit. 'If you're asking whether it's for Gaza or counter-terrorism, I'm not in a position to answer. Once the investigation has been conducted we look forward to receiving the information from the police,' Cllr Khan added."
    Reportage: Lancashire Evening Post, 14th Feb
    Independent on Sunday, 15th Feb

    Wednesday 11th February 2009, London: Fifty Goldsmiths students occupied Deptford Town Hall at noon today to demand two MA scholarships for Palestinian students attending Al-Quds Open University in Nablus. This action has been initiated by the Goldsmiths Students’ Union Palestine Twinning Campaign. The sit-in is also organizing film screenings, social events and talks regarding the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and other political issues. Reportage Click here

    Tuesday 10th February 2009, London: The Belfast Telegraph reports, "Trade unionists are to launch a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a major campaign to secure a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, Stormont heard today. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) launched a report on Israel and Palestine compiled by senior members who visited the troubled region. As controversy continues to rage over the death toll in Gaza caused by the recent Israeli military attacks, trade union leaders announced they are to hold a major conference this year to act as a springboard for their campaign.

    ...The ICTU praised Ulster Unionist Fred Cobain for providing the necessary cross-party support to host the event in Stormont and the trade unionists insisted an open debate on the Middle East was vital." Reportage - Click here

    Monday 9th February 2009, London: International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander announced allocation of a further £1.8m for "life-saving support to vulnerable groups including children and old people living in Gaza". Funds will be deployed via four agencies: Islamic Relief (£661,000); Welfare Association (£300,000); Action Against Hunger (£400,000); Handicap International (£422,000) Reportage - Click here

    Friday 6th February 2009, London:... Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Liberal Democrat) in the Lords: "Last week Ha'aretz published a survey of settlement on the West Bank, which stated that 75 per cent of settlements are built illegally on Palestinian-owned land. Yet the Israeli Government demolish Palestinian houses for which there is no permission. Is that acceptable within the best of the Jewish tradition, which many of us cherish so much? There are rumours about troop behaviour towards the Palestinians both in Gaza and on the West Bank, some of which are sadly likely to be true, and very hard evidence of fundamentalist settlers behaving in a totally unacceptable fashion towards their Palestinian neighbours. We have the rise of Netanyahu and Lieberman. It was Netanyahu who made that dreadful Faustian pact with the nastiest version of Christian fundamentalism in the United States in order that they could avoid facing up to the need for withdrawal from what right-wing Israelis call Judea and Samaria and what we like to call the West Bank and Palestine....

    Baroness Tonge (Liberal Democrat):"...Our party of European parliamentarians met Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, and found him and his colleagues not at all what we had been led to believe by our Government, by others and the noble Lord, Lord Kalms, who spoke before me. The noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and I also met Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader in Damascus, two weeks later. Hamas will recognise Israel. It does not like the term "right" to exist, but it will recognise it. But it needs the borders to be defined. What "Israel", exactly? The Israel that is now? It would prefer the Israel that was before 1967..." Reportage - Click here

    Tuesday 3rd February 2009, London: Lord Nazir Ahmed's interview, Press TV: "I asked Her Majesty's government if they were aware of British citizens who may have been involved with the war crimes committed by the Israeli Defense Force and Israeli Defense Reserves. Her Majesty's government did not have any figures because dual nationals do not have to inform the government. However, there are reports in the Daily Mirror and The Sun with the names of British citizens who have been fighting in Gaza.

    The point I was making is that war crimes have been committed, white phosphorous has been used and if there are people who have broken the 4th Geneva Convention, then whoever they are, when they return to this country, they should be arrested and charged - unlike the Major General who escaped in 2005." Reportage - Click here

    Monday 2nd February 2009, London: An Israeli colonel involved in Operation Cast Lead returned to Israel in haste on Friday, fearing arrest on charges of war crimes during a visit to the UK. Col. (res.) Geva Rapp had arrived in London three days before for appearances in which he was to explain Israel's position and refute media representations of the hostilities. His trip had been cleared by Israeli security services. On Thursday night, after news of his visit reached pro-Palestinian groups, some 80 protesters demonstrated outside the offices of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) in central London, where Rapp was scheduled to speak. Calling for police to arrest him, the protesters blocked public pathways, while one scaled the building's walls. Police made several arrests. The event was cancelled and the decision was made for Rapp to return to Israel out of fear of a universal jurisdiction arrest warrant for alleged war crimes....Before leaving Britain, Rapp addressed students at the Hasmonean and Jewish Free (JFS) high schools in London. He also spoke at events organized by the Jewish Agency and Aish UK. Reportage - Click here

    Monday 2nd February 2009, London: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Asian writer of Muslim heritage writes in The Independent, "So that's that then, is it? Gaza is done and dusted? Very satisfying, I'm sure, for the Israeli leadership and their devoted allies at the BBC. But not so fast. For the one and a half million traumatised and wounded souls in that small strip, unendurable agony goes on. The very earth they stand on burns and cracks. And I am not here indulging a writer's tendency to hyperbole or neat metaphor....Israel is today a ruthless nuclear state, with arsenals of artillery, missiles, chemical and biological weaponry. It respects no international laws and conventions (originally set up to stop Jewish persecution) and does what it pleases..." Reportage - Click here

    Sunday 1st February 2009, Nottingham: Students at Nottingham University in a Gaza protest forcibly removed by College security after 4 days of occupation. They received the support of local MP, Alan Simpson, and Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was refused entry by security when she came to address the students.
    Reportage - Click here

    Wednesday 28th January 2009, London: Gerald Kaufman MP in Parliament "I was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine ….I have known most of the Prime Ministers of Israel, starting with the founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Golda Meir was my friend, as was Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister, who, as a general, won the Negev for Israel in the 1948 war of independence….On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians - the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that '500 of them were militants.' That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants. The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserts that her Government will have no dealings with Hamas, because they are terrorists. Tzipi Livni's father was Eitan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, who organised the blowing-up of the King David hotel in Jerusalem , in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews….It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel"
    Reportage - Click here

    Tuesday 27th January 2009, London "The head of the UN"s nuclear watchdog has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the corporation's decision not to air an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee.In a statement to the Guardian, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner, unleashed a stinging denunciation of the BBC, deepening the damage already caused by the controversy...."
    Reportage - Click here

    Monday 26th January 2009, London The leaders of the two biggest unions representing broadcasting workers have condemned the BBC and Sky's decision not to broadcast a charity appeal for humanitarian aid to Gaza. Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, and Gerry Morrisey, General Secretary of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph, and Theatre Union, have called the ban "wrong". They have written to the BBC and Sky asking them to reconsider.
    Reportage - Click here

    Monday 26th January 2009, London Richard Burden MP proposes an Early Day Motion in Parliament, "That this House is astonished by the refusal of the BBC and Sky to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Gaza Crisis Appeal; considers that the explanations given for this decision by BBC spokespersons are both unconvincing and incoherent; and draws attention to the fact that people wishing to obtain information about the Gaza appeal can contact the DEC by visiting www.dec.org.uk"
    Reportage - Click here

    Monday 26th January, London Rashad Yaqoob, a trustee of The City Circle, announces the establishment of a Gaza Legal Aid Fund "to provide some tangible accountability for Israel's actions through criminal and civil sanctions". Discussions will commence with legal firms with expertise in "international war crimes actions and judicial review of state obligations." The City Circle has raised and committed £22,500 and it is aiming for a target of £100,000. An appeal is made to "all like-minded individuals and organisations who seek the pursuance of justice to financially support this action, which will ensure that both Israeli and UK governments are at least forced to provide some accountability to a process of law and justice. We hope to launch the Fund over the coming weeks so ask that donations are kindly made at your earliest convenience."
    Reportage - Click here

    Saturday 24th January 2009, London & Glasgow Over 2,500 attended the London march - it began with a rally close to the BBC’s Broadcasting House near Great Portland Street. This was in response to the BBC’s decision not to show the Disasters Emergency Committee charity appeal for the Palestinian victims of the conflict. Tony Benn was amongst the speakers. There was also a rally outside the BBC Scotland headquarters.
    Reportage - Click here - London
    Reportage - Click here - Scotland

    Friday 23rd January 2009, London The BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations. "The decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in the context of [a] news story." The Muslim media responded to this policy with a comment: after its shameful coverage of the Gaza massacres by Zionists, the BBC wants to take its pro-Israeli bias to the pits. The BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations. But the BBC made a rare breach of an agreement dating to 1963, saying it would not give free airtime to the appeal. Other broadcasters followed suit. Previously, broadcasters had agreed on the video and script to be used with the DEC [Disasters Emergency Committee], to be shown after primetime news bulletins.
    Reportage - Click here

    Friday 23rd January 2009, London Protest occupation of the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge. The demand is for the University to "issue a statement condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and the continuing blockade. We also demand aid to Palestinian universities in the form of scholarships, books and fundraising, as well as disinvestment from the arms trade complicit in this humanitarian disaster." There are 17 such university protests taking place across the UK.
    Reportage - Click here

    Wednesday 21st January 2009, London, in Parliament: Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Gillian Merron): "...We have made clear our view that the Israeli reaction was disproportionate, and we are gravely concerned at the allegations of breaches of international law made by credible organisations such as the ICRC and the UN. I remind the right hon. Lady [Clare Short] and other hon. Members that just yesterday the UN Secretary-General called for a full investigation. That has our full support. Those allegations must be closely and speedily investigated under international law, with the three key parties to that being the UN, the ICRC and the Israeli Government. We are in touch with all of them."

    Clare Short (Ind,Ladywell): "We are told that the bombardment of Gaza was necessary because Israel has a right of defence against Hamas rockets. That justification of the attack is deeply dishonest. It is as big an untruth as were the claims about the need for war in Iraq. Two sets of facts are important when we assess Israel's excuse for its attack. For the past seven years, from when rocket attacks began up to 27 December when Israel attacked Gaza, those rockets killed 13 innocent Israelis and one foreigner. In that time, Israel killed 2,990 Palestinians in the Gaza strip, 634 of them children. Large numbers of those killed were innocent civilians, including many women and children. Those figures are provided by the Israeli human rights organisation, B'Tselem. There is no possible justification for us to say that Gaza was attacking Israel and Israel was not doing anything. The balance of attack and killing was that Israel was doing more harm to Gaza than the other way around...." Reportage

    Wednesday 21st January 2009, London "Obviously, a UN mandate for a legal inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes would only come about if the Obama administration decides not to use its veto in the UN Security Council...No doubt, the British government, among others, will say that the priority of the international community must be to underpin the current ceasefire with a permanent peace agreement which provides for a two-state solution. But there is no reason why the push for a permanent agreement should exclude the rule of law from operating without inhibition. After all, this was the case in the former Yugoslavia."
    Reportage - Click here

    Tuesday 20th January 2009, London Following the inauguration of President Obama, Muslim organisations have been cautiously optimistic - the MCB's Secretary General declaring, "I hope it ends the rift between the US and the Muslim world which has grown further and further in the last eight years. As a first step, I hope the President will address the tragedy in Gaza. The strength of feeling against what the Israelis have done should not be underestimated."
    Reportage - Click here

    Monday 19th January 2009, London Foreign Secretary Miliband in Parliament: "...The Gaza crisis has reverberated around the world. There have been large demonstrations in the middle east, but also in the west. The conflict has also been used to whip up hatred, including in this country, and I am sure the whole House will want to send a very clear and cross-party message that we all denounce the anti-Semitic attacks that have taken place and vow to work for their elimination...The closure of the crossings has also created a thriving illegal trade in necessities, which has filled Hamas’s coffers [sic] without providing Gazans the basics that they require....We are faced with two immediate challenges: stopping the flow of arms and starting the flow of aid into Gaza....This is where international help, aimed at interdiction, using intelligence and a range of military assets, is important. ..."

    Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): In welcoming the increased aid from the UK to Gaza, may I ask my right hon. Friend to clarify the logic whereby we can send the Royal Navy to enforce an arms ban on Hamas while continuing to sell arms to Israel, after a conflict in which 1,200 Palestinians were slaughtered and four Israelis were killed by Hamas rockets? That is an exchange rate of one Israeli life for 300 Palestinian lives.
    Reportage - Click here

    Saturday 17th January 2009, Oxford More than 600 people turned out for a anti-war demonstration in the city centre - the third — and largest — demonstration against the conflict to be held in the city so far. Avi Shlaim, Professor of International Relations at Oxford University spoke.
    Reportage - Click here
    YouTube - Click here for Avi Shlaim's speech at the Rally

    Friday 16th January 2009, London: Foreign & Commonwealth Office issues email factsheet, "...We are working to ensure that UK and EU policies do not inadvertently support settlements. Firstly, we want to ensure that the EU-Israel Association Agreement is implemented properly. This agreement gives produce from Green-Line Israel tariff-free access to the EU, but produce from settlements does not qualify. Secondly, we are working to ensure that produce from the West Bank is clearly labelled in shops as coming from either a Palestinian business or a settlement."
    Source: Email from FCO
    Comment: Israel is one of the biggest EU trading partners in the Euromed area, with total trade with the EU amounting to more than €25.7 billion in 2007. In 2007 'War on Want' launched a campaign and issued this statement to the Foreign Secetary: "The EU must suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement in order to bring pressure on Israel to abide by international law. Article 2 of the Agreement makes Israel's trading preferences conditional upon respect for human rights, a condition which UN specialists say has been breached by Israel on many occasions. We call on you to press for this suspension immediately." However the FCO minister at the time, Kim Howells (former Chair of Labour Friends of Israel and now chair of the Security & Intelligence Committee) responded, "We consider that the Association Agreement is a key tool for the EU to both enhance co-operation with Israel but also to raise any concerns. We do not support suspension of that Agreement, which would limit how we could put our viewpoint across to the Israeli government." He also said: "The Government does not support calls for the suspension of the EU/Israel Association Agreement. The UK…has strong relationships with Israel on a number of fronts… We do not consider it would be in the best interests of the UK, or the European Union, to end this relationship." Muslim representatives meeting Foreign Secretary Miliband on 12th January [see below] raised this issue, but it was passed over in high-handed fashion.

    Friday 16th January 2009, London: An open letter "to fellow Muslims" states that "we are deeply saddened to hear about antisemitic assaults on British Jews, and a recent arson attack on a London synagogue. Although the perpetrators are yet unknown, we unreservedly condemn attacks on innocent British citizens and the desecration of all places of worship....we call on all Muslims to continue to remain vigilant against attempts to bring our own faith and community into disrepute. British Jews should not be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government." Signatories: "Shaikh Abdal-Hakim Murad, Shaikh Mawlana Shahid Raza, Shaikh Sayyid-Mohammed Musawi, Shaikh Ali Qadiri, Shaikh Mufti Barkatulla, Shaikh Dr Musharraf Hussain, Shaikh Dr Usama Hasan, Shaikh Bilal Abdullah, Shaikh Aftab Ahmad Malik, Shaikh Irfan Chishti, Dr Tahir Abbas, Navid Akhtar, Parvin Ali, Kamran Fazil, Rokhsana Fiaz, Ed Husain, Azeem Ibrahim, Maajid Nawaz, Dr Zahoor Qureshi, Usman Raja, Yasmin Sheikh, Zeshan Zafar
    Reportage: click here
    Comment: The letter 'to fellow Muslims' will be seen for what it is - the acceptance of an agenda that juxtaposes foreign policy 'reasonableness' with the Muslim community's capacity for 'unreasonableness'. The signatories were too readily placed on the defensive. To date no statement from representative bodies of British Jews has been forthcoming distancing themselves from Israeli acts and war crimes - the destruction of twenty mosques in Gaza, civilian casualties that include over 300 children, artillery targetting of UN compounds, the use of white Phosphorus shells in an indiscriminate manner - and, more worryingly, action on British Jews and British Israelis engaged in IDF support etc etc. Even the moral conscience of the community, Chief Rabbi Sacks has been silent - his remarks in August 2002 that Israel's practices in its wars of occupation were "incompatible in the long run with our deepest ideals" were severely criticised, resulting in a reversal of his stand ever since - so much so that during the South Lebanon invasion he declared - "rarely have I felt so proud of Anglo-Jewry".
    Pressure was also placed on Muslim organisations following the 2004 Madrid bombing to write to mosques reminding them of their responsibility to counter the teaching of violence or violent conspiracy. All this feeds an image of Muslims as a suspect community - Board of Deputies Director General Jon Benjamin once declared sensationally "we are seeing spokespeople for the Muslim Council of Britain, supposedly a moderate organization, justifying terror attacks in Israel, while denouncing the London bombers, which are an embarrassment [sic] to them..."

    Friday 16th January 2009, London: Over 300 British academics and writers - including 100 professors - are signatories to a statement "There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities. Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides.... We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions." click here for Signatories

    Thursday 15th January 2009, London: Tory Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, issues statement, "The Government’s delay in responding to the very real concerns across communities in Britain about the present conflict in Gaza demonstrates yet again how out of touch this Government is on the issues of radicalisation and extremism. They are so out of touch that they have failed to realise that even though the BBC may have been excluded from filming in Gaza, there are a variety of satellite channels including Al-Jazeera which are broadcasting graphic images from Gaza into British homes with the consequent fall out. Today they are meeting at No 10, not to assess the impact of the Gaza crisis on community relations, but to discuss a Government campaign...."
    Source: Email from Conservative Party office, emphasis added

    Thursday 15th January 2009, London: BBC reports that "Muslim community leaders met cabinet ministers ... amid fears that the conflict could derail government efforts to combat extremism....". The Guardian added that present were Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, and Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, and the aim was "to assess the impact of the Gaza attacks on the drive to prevent violent extremism in Britain." It was suggested to the attendees that they should act expeditiously to convey HMG's strenous efforts in the interests of the Palestinians and 'not play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in comon. The Guardian noted, "The home secretary sees the Middle East crisis as a key test of the effectiveness of the work that has gone on over the past 18 months in building up the Prevent network within Muslim communities."
    A community media report noted, "Typically, the Brown government is attempting to expunge its alleged complicity in the genocide in Gaza by indulging in a series of scaremongering exercises. While Israel is allowed to commit daily war crimes without a whisper of condemnation from Brown and his cabinet, his underlings are seeking out non-existent enemies. The sooner Brown and his cronies understand that talking to born again ex-jihadis and self-appointed Muslim 'leaders', is part of the problem and not the solution, the better. Only dialogue with the real representatives of the Muslim community will bring about an end to this mindless demonization of the community by these moolah-hungry Muslim neocons. In contrast to the supine PREVENT-infected Muslim 'leaders', growing numbers of Britain's leading academics are now calling for ethnic cleansing in Palestine to be stopped and reversed. This should give the Likudnic neocons a pause for thought."
    Reportage:
    click here, BBC
    click here, Guardian

    Thursday 15th January 2009, London Geoffrey Alderman warns Lib Dems in Jewish Chronicle: "The conflict has also forced some apparent friends of Israel to reveal themselves to us in their true colours. Consider, for example, the Lib Dems. On January 7, Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg called for an embargo on British arms sales to Israel, adding that it would be no bad thing if the European Union were to suspend its proposed economic co-operation agreement with the Jewish state.

    I have always suspected the Lib-Dems’ professed support for Israel. When, in May 2005, Israel-hater Jenny Tonge was nominated to a life peerage by the then Lib-Dem supremo Charles Kennedy, I was inclined to excuse this as an unfortunate consequence of the alcoholism from which Mr Kennedy was reported to be suffering. Now I know better. I don’t need to be told that supporters of Israel are to be found within Lib-Dem ranks. They are. But it is Mr Clegg’s pronouncements that Jewish voters will remember whenever the next general election is called.
    Reportage - Click here

    Thursday 15th January 2009, London: Over forty pro Palestine students have occupied a lecture theatre at the London School of Economics to demand that the university releases a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and divests from arms companies that supply the Israeli military.
    Reportage: click here, BBC

    Thursday 15th January 2009, London: Following reports of Israeli army shelling of the UN Headquarters in Gaza, the Conservative Party breaks its deafening silence on the Gaza crisis. Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague describes the action as "unacceptable". This was followed by a similar statement from PM Gordon Brown, "today’s attack on the UN headquarters in Gaza is indefensible. The UN’s mission in Gaza is purely humanitarian, bringing relief to civilians suffering in appalling conditions as a result of the ongoing military action and restrictions on food and medical supplies entering Gaza. UN staff are working on behalf of the international community - any attack on them is unacceptable, as Israel has acknowledged."
    Reportage: click here,Hague
    click here, Brown

    Wednesday 14th January 2009, London – Sufyan Ismail of the media lobby group 'Engage' sends an open letter to Foreign Secretary Miliband, "...You have repeatedly described the democratically-elected Hamas movement as being 'terrorists' and have described many of their statements as 'grotesque and chilling', yet for some reason you wilfully refuse to describe the occupying power - Israel - and its far greater and far more savage use of violence in one of the most densely populated parts of the world as constituting acts of state terrorism. Why is this?.."
    Reportage - Click here

    Monday 12th January 2009, London – Editorial in The Lancet: "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has asked for urgent access to wounded civilians. ICRC also reports that the Israeli army has failed to assist Palestinians in need of medical assistance and has imposed delays on ambulance access to neighbourhoods under fire. The ICRC has said that 'the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable'.

    We find it hard to believe that an otherwise internationally respected, democratic nation can sanction such large and indiscriminate human atrocities in a territory already under land and sea blockade".
    Reportage - Click here

    Monday 12th January 2009, London – Muslim representatives invited to Foreign & Commonwealth Office to see Secretary of State David Miliband. Apparently the discussion was more concerned with developing a more effective means of communicating government policy to the Muslim community - reminescent of Alistair Campbell's comments comments on 27th September 2001 to Muslims assembled at Downing Street - "you guys have a selling job to do". On cue, journalist Riazat Butt [see also entry for 6th Jan below] followed up the next day [Wednesday 13th January] with a comment piece in the Guardian, 'Islam's selective outrage - Muslims cannot claim a monopoly on anger over the events in Gaza while ignoring the suffering of other Muslims and non-Muslims'
    Reportage - Click here

    Monday 12th January 2009, London – Miliband's statement to the Commons on Gaza (describing Israel as "a beacon of democracy in the Middle East"), followed by a short debate with notable contributions from Lib Dem's Sir Menzies Campbell and Labour veteran Sir Gerald Kaufman
    Reportage: - Click here for highlights

    Monday 12th January 2009, London – 'House magazine', Parliament's official publication, published an article written by the Muslim Council of Britain and 31 supporting Muslim and non-Muslim organisations under the title: The War on Gaza as we see it. The article illustrated the unacceptable bias in both political stands as well as in media coverage that seemed to offer Israel immunity to perpetrate what would in any other situation be described as clear and undeniable crimes of war. The article also criticised the British government for its ‘pathetic’ response to the escalating crisis that has, to date, killed almost 1000 Palestinians and injured more than 4000.
    Reportage: click here

    Monday 12th January 2009, London – Shahid Malik MP declares that "there is a real feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness among Britain's Muslims in the context of Gaza and the sense of grievance and injustice is both profoundly acute and obviously profoundly unhealthy" - thus reiterating the Government line seeking to divert attention away from the crisis in Gaza to that of 'extremism at home'.
    Reportage: click here

    Monday 12th January 2009, Cardiff – Rev. Robin Morrison, Bishops' Adviser for Church and Society, Church in Wales, issues statement, "...The White House still blames Hamas exclusively. Another generation of radicalized, angry young Muslims will turn against Israel and America and perhaps the UK. Foreign journalists are still not allowed into Gaza by Israel. Stories from the UN and the Red Cross about the IDF’s actions are very serious indeed. The Church in Wales’ International Affairs Group (ISAG) has written to the FCO and the UN."

    Sunday 11th January, London - Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaks at Israeli supporters' rally in Trafalgar Square - ""All it took to avoid this suffering was for Hamas to stop firing rockets on Israeli citizens."
    Reportage: click here

    Saturday 10th January 2009, London – March from Marble Arch to High Street Kensington, near Israeli Embassy – 100,000 protest
    Reportage: click here

    Saturday 10th January 2009, Edinburgh – March and a rally at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens, 10,000 protest
    Reportage: click here

    Friday 9th January 2009, Geneva – 9th special session of the Human Rights Council: "The Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip - Recorded vote of 33 in favour, 1 against and 13 abstentions." United Kingdom among the abstentions - United Kingdom
    Reportage: click here

    Friday 9th January 2009, London - more unburdening from the Quilliam Foundation: “We condemned Israel's disproportionate reaction when it was unfashionable to do so in Westminster. We are not afraid to speak our minds, even if that means upsetting allies and foes alike.” However the British Muslim media remained on its guard to such neo-Empire loyalists, “these born again ex-jihadis are realising that they will be seen to be just as complicit in Israel's shock and awe barbarity as their Whitehall/Washington minders. When even the most public cheerleaders of shock and awe barbarity begin to question the actions of their benefactors, the reality must indeed be very frightening. These wannabe neocons will need to demonstrate a decisive break with the proponents of ethnic cleansing in Palestine before the Muslim community can offer to rehabilitate them. In the meantime the community should rightly shun offerings of tainted moolah from these Downing Street cronies.”
    Reportage: click here for Ed Hussain and Majed Nawaaz contribution
    The Muslim media cited was salaam.co.uk

    Friday 9th January 2009, London - Foreign Secretary sends a bog-standard letter to Muslim representatives - unambigious in its condemnation of terrorism (code speak for Hamas); ambigious in its condemnation of Israel
    Reportage: click here (redacted form)

    Friday 9th January 2009, London - At an event organised by Christian Aid, faith leaders including the Bishop of Exeter, Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism and Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Muslim Council Britain called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to renew efforts to end the suffering of 'powerless and vulnerable'.
    Reportage: click here

    Thursday 8th January 2009, London – Tooting MP Sadiq Khan writes in his email newsletter:"As the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed at the UN, it is only the two-state solution that offers the hope of security and justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike. I strongly support the recent call by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Foreign Secretary for an immediate and urgent ceasefire on both sides and will work in whatever way I constructively can to try to ensure this is achieved...
    Reportage: click here

    Thursday 8th January 2009, London – Government-sponsored Muslim groups distance themselves from Government inaction – in an open letter to the Prime Minister current and former leaders of bodies such as the British Muslim Forum (former CEO Roohi Ahmed) and Ed Hussain (current director of the Quilliam Foundation) wrote, “As you are aware, the anger within UK Muslim communities has reached acute levels of intensity. The Israeli government's use of disproportionate force to combat threats to its security has revived extremist groups and empowered their message of violence and perennial conflict. For Muslims in the UK and abroad, we run the risk of potentially creating a loss of faith in the political process.”
    Reportage: click here

    Wednesday 7th January 2009, London – Nick Clegg, Leader of the Social Democrats, becomes the first leading British political figure to ask for more robust steps by Britain, including an arms embargo. His intervention is welcomed by the MCB, "It is precisely the sort of political leadership that is needed at a time when we despair for timely, clear-sighted and principled interventions from our Government"

    Wednesday 7th January 2009, London – Bristol rally - "On Saturday, I joined about 500 Bristolians on a march through the city centre to protest about the impending Israeli onslaught. We were welcomed with cheers and the tooting of car horns. I felt a sense of unity and accomplishment. Later that evening though, ignoring the world outcry, Israel invaded Gaza...
    Reportage: click here

    Tuesday 6th January 2009, Birmingham – The National Muslim Women's Advisory group - formally launched in January 2008 by the Prime Minister - and comprising 19 Muslim women representing a wide spectrum of communities, professions and tradition] issued a letter to the Prime Minister: "...We would also like to take this opportunity to ask the British government whether any arms supplied by the UK have been used in the attacks on Gaza. And, in the light of the disproportionate response by Israel, are the UK government willing to suspend further arms exports to Israel. We believe that if the West, including the UK government, does not intervene to stop the crisis in Gaza from escalating further and condemn the Israeli government more strongly, it will inflame Muslim opinion against the West".

    Tuesday 6th January 2009, London – the Young Muslims Advisory Group [launched in October 2008 by the Government and consisting of a selected group of 22 young Muslim leaders from different parts of the country] issued a letter to the Prime Minister: "..With over 450 innocent Palestinians killed in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli Government, the British Government must see this as an act of 'state terrorism' and as a form 'violent extremism', it must be clearly condemned". They were later to face criticism at a week-end 'retreat' organised for them by the Home Office - among the castigators it is believed was Minister Sadiq Khan MP - taking on the role as 'Muslim enforcer'?
    Reportage: click here

    Tuesday 6th January 2009, London - Muslim representatives invited to a briefing with FCO Minister Bill Rammell. MCB is not represented by its Secretary General or Deputy Secretary General but by committee chairs. Other institutions represented include MAB, FOSIS, ISB, Islamic Relief. Rammell is assisted by Justice Minister Sadiq Khan MP, formerly in the whips office and thus with the experience of bringing recalcitrants into line. Though no media were present, Guardian journalist Riazat Butt was able to provide a remarkably comprehensive coverage of "what was said to be a testy meeting" - she was even able to include quotes of who said what! The reportage contained all the hallmarks of a Government-inspired briefing i.e. diverting attention away from the crisis in Gaza to that of 'extremism at home'.
    Reportage: click here

    Tuesday 6th January 2009, Cardiff - The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, writes to the Israeli Ambassador to London today asking why a church-run healthcare clinic was bombed in Gaza over the weekend - "“We find it incomprehensible and tragic that any armed forces anywhere in the world would want to destroy such a building, let alone the State of Israel with all its historic memories of oppression and genocide."
    Reportage: click here

    Tuesday 6th January 2009, Edinburgh - Glasgow Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP), Bashir Ahmad, writes to the British Foreign Office to get "assurances that no British citizens are serving in the Israeli army which is currently engaged in a ground offensive in the Gaza strip" and that many British citizens carry dual British/Israeli nationality and "can be conscripted to fight for the Israeli Army at anytime – with many having already completed mandatory National Service."
    Reportage: click here

    Sunday 3rd January 2009, London – Demonstration, High Street Kensington, near Israeli Embassy

    Saturday 3rd January 2009, Manchester – Demonstration outside BBC, 5000 protest
    Reportage: click here

    Friday 2nd January 2009, London – A number of Muslim organisations including FOSIS, ISB, Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief attend a briefing at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office presented by a senior civil servant. MCB decides to hold out for a meeting with the Secretary of State. The FCO and Labour Party intermediaries apply pressure on Muslim organisations to settle for meeting with Bill Rammell, rather than David Milliband [see entry for 6th January].

    Friday 2nd January, London – many mosques throughout the UK offer special qunoot-e-nazila prayer . The MCB "in the face of the destruction unleashed by Israel against the occupied people of Gaza" calls for this special prayer: "at this critical and challenging time we must turn to the Almighty and pray for help."
    Reportage: click here

    Friday 2nd January 2009, London – The MCB press release expressing opprobrium with Britain’s stand at the Security Council prompts a widely-circulated email response from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office: "There has been some incorrect reports alleging that the UK has been blocking action at the UN Security Council to secure a ceasefire in Gaza....".

    Thursday 1st January, London – MCB national affiliates and other bodies meet at the London Muslim Centre and issue a statement calling for a meeting with the Foreign Secretary, in view of Britain standing shoulder to shoulder with the USA on the Security Council resolution. The FCO applies pressure on Muslim organisations to settle for meeting with an FCO civil servant the next day [see entry for 2nd January]
    Reportage: click here

    Thursday 1st January 2009, New York – The United States vetoes a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that would have demanded Israel halt its two-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Ten Council members voted in favour of the text and four abstained ( Denmark, Peru, Slovakia, United Kingdom).
    Reportage: click here

    Thursday 31st December 2008, London - Parliamentarians issue statements - "Israel's continuing massive military strikes on Gaza are an outrage that the international community must not allow to continue (Reports, 30 December). Palestinian rocket attacks that traumatise the lives of communities in southern Israel are also utterly unacceptable. Both sides must cease fire. Israel's actions are disproportionate and counterproductive to achieving either security for the people of Israel or peace in the Middle East. Physicians for Human Rights (Israel) have warned that "targeting of civilians and of medical facilities is a breach of international humanitarian law. The targets chosen by the Israeli military include also clearly civilian installations..."
    Richard Burden MP, Lyn Brown MP, Peter Bottomley MP, Sir Gerard Kaufman MP, John Hemming MP, Martin Linton MP, Karen Buck MP, Nia Griffith MP, Natascha Engel MP, Martin Salter MP, Paul Flynn MP, Rob Marris MP, Andy Love MP, David Drew MP, Neil Gerrard MP, Hywel Francis MP, Clive Efford MP, Ian Taylor MP, Phyllis Starkey MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Andy Slaughter MP, Jim Devine MP, John McDonnell MP, Frank Cook MP, Tom Levitt MP, Michael Connarty MP, Chris McCafferty MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, Simon Hughes MP, Danny Alexander MP, Sarah Teather MP, Madeleine Moon MP

    "...We call on the Scottish and UK governments to do all they can to pressure the Israeli government to halt attacks on the Gazan people who are being collectively punished for the actions of a minority...We believe that a strong statement of condemnation of Israel's actions must be forthcoming from world leaders and political institutions before the air attacks escalate and ground troops sent into Gaza. We urge our leaders to do all they can to halt the killing of innocent lives and send a strong message of condemnation to the Israelis for their current attacks. "
    Mohammad Sarwar MP, Katy Clark MP, Angus Robertson MP (Westminster SNP Leader), Jim McGovern MP, Jim Sheridan MP, Russell Brown MP, Mike Weir MP, Angus MacNeil MP, Anne Moffat MP, Tom Clarke MP, Mark Lazarowicz MP, Baroness Jenny Tonge, Alyn Smith MEP, Pauline McNeill MSP, Sandra White MSP, Jamie Hepburn MSP and 23 others .
    Reportage: click here

    Thursday 31st December 2008, London – The British Muslim Initiative (BMI) and other Muslim bodies send open letter to PM Gordon Brown, "while Gaza mourns its dead the deafening silence of our Prime Minister and government is a source of great bewilderment. Is it not time for a firm intervention that brings relief to the thousands of injured?"
    Reportage: click here

    Tuesday 30th December 2008, London – diatribe from Israeli partisan Melanie Philips writing in the Spectator, "The issue of Israel sits at the very apex of the fight to defend civilisation. Those who wish to destroy western civilisation need to destroy the Jews, whose moral precepts formed its foundation stones. The deranged hatred of the Jews lies at the core of the Islamists’ hatred of America, the 'infidel' west and modernity, and is the reason why they wish to destroy Israel. Unless people in the west understand that Israel’s fight is their own fight, they will be on the wrong side of the war to defend not just the west but civilisation in general.

    The British government has invested huge hopes in Ed Husain as an attractive and plausible antidote to Islamist extremism in Britain. But how can anyone now believe anything he has ever said when he promulgates such a gross libel as the canard of Israel’s ‘massacre’ of hundreds of ‘innocent' Gazans?" 
    Reportage: click here

    Monday 29th December 2008, London – Government-sponsored Quilliam Foundation – whose leader Ed Husain once noted that this organisation "has successfully opened a public space in which it is possible to be fully Western and fully Muslim, free from the political burdens of the Arab world and the cultural baggage of the sub-continent" - issues a press release expressing views not dissimilar to its bete-noire, the MCB: "The UK Government cannot seek to win hearts and minds across Muslim communities while failing to stop Israel from murdering Palestinians en masse. Gordon Brown and David Miliband have reached out to Damascus and Darfur in recent weeks in an attempt to bring peace and stand for fairness. That is commendable. And in that spirit, where is the outright condemnation of Israeli atrocities and pressure on Israel to stop its inhumane operations?". Writing in The Guardian the next day, Ed Husain added, "...Israel's cold, politically timed killing of more than 300 Palestinians makes me, and millions more, rethink our attitude towards Israel."
    Reportage: click here for Quilliam Foundation press release
    click here for Guardian Comment is Free contribution

    Saturday 27th December, London – the Muslim Council of Britain, responding to concerns from its affiliates and the community at large, issues first press statement, "Israel's decision to commence its attack in the early afternoon of 27th December as children were leaving their schools, causing the maximum casualties with some 205 civilians being killed so far. By any measure of respect for innocent human life, this is unacceptable."
    Reportage: click here

    Saturday 27th December, Geneva – Statement by Professor Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Occupied Territories, "the Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent s evere and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war."
    Reportage: click here