Comrades from the CPGB-ML and Red Youth attended the Palestine Solidarity Campaign AGM 2016 on Saturday 23 January, joining hundreds of members from branches, affiliated trade unions, and other organisations.
The annual report largely focused on the acheivements of the wider Palestine movement, including the impact of the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement and lobbying MPs & Parliament. There was frustration that the British government is not seriously tackling the issue, but excitement that it had been raised frequently by members of the public and the PSC at hustings, and contacting MPs and candidates directly, and that they had been able to organise fringe meetings at the Labour, Conservative, and SNP conferences.
A demonstration was called tonight [and for tomorrow] in protest to the arrival in Birmingham of the Israeli dance company Batsheva at the Hippodrome Theatre. Despite a peaceful, yet vocal protest from Birmingham, the police intervened on the instructions of the Israeli Zionists and attempted to kidnap members of the demo without actually arresting or charging them. Faced with any opposition to Israels war crimes against Palestinians these fascists stoop to any level to encourage and facilitate anti-democratic behaviour of the state forces – but if anything this foolish action will only rally more of Birmingham’s residents to the calls of Palestine solidarity activists tomorrow!
A leaflet produced by local solidarity groups in Birmingham outlined the role of Batsheva thus:
“The Batsheva dance company are part of the Brand Israel Initiative which aims to promote a positive image of Israel internationally whilst it continues its many human rights abuses and violations of international law. These include, in particular, the military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and the consolidation of an apartheid regime that condemns generations of Palestinians to poverty and persecution.
Batsheva’s claim – supported by the Hippodrome management – that they are impartial and independent artists is untrue, since they receive funding from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Such funding routinely involves signing a contract stating that the artist’s role is to “promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel”.
In 2005 Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel. They see this as a peaceful way to end Israeli abuses in much the same way as the international boycott of apartheid South Africa helped end the apartheid regime there. This protest is part of their campaign. Join us to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for justice and freedom.”