Written account from Gerard Kaufman speech 27/10/2015 at Palestine Return Centre event.
(This is a speech given by Gerard Kaufman. *NOTE – It may contain slight errors)
Thank you Martin,
I am sorry that I am late, we had two votes, we are victims of the parliamentary system, and I am afraid I won’t be able to stay all that long because we have another vote at 7 o’clock. I very much wanted to be here and I am most grateful for what Martin has said and I gather you will also have heard the voice of Palestine itself. Before I go on I want to read something for you from a friend of mine who lives in East Jerusalem And who emailed me as follows a few days ago:
“Tension has escalated, here, the Israeli army and public are going hysteric as the Israeli politicians are calling on the public to carry guns. The majority of the “attempted stabbing” incidents are based on false claims. They are executing Palestinians on the streets and then they fabricate the stabbing story. Several videos came out after some of these incidents that clearly show those Palestinians killed posing no harm at all but they got shot anyway and some were executed after they were injured on the ground. It is enough for an Israeli to scream terrorist and if you look like an Arab you will be shot dead on the spot. I wanted to say they shoot and then ask questions, but the truth is they shoot and then they fabricate a stabbing story. No questions asked.
More than half the stabbing claims were definitely fabricated. The other half, some were true, the others there was no way to tell since they executed Palestinians and no one asked questions. Not only that, they got the point of executing Arab looking people and in the past few days they killed 2 Jewish Israelis and an Eritrean just because they looked Arab. They fabricated a stabbing story to justify the killings before they found out they were not Palestinians. And there are a couple of other incidents of Jewish Israelis, stabbing other Jewish Israelis because they thought they were Arabs. Netanyahu used that as a pretext to ghettoize the Arab towns and neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. The entrances of most Palestinian villages in Jerusalem are not blocked with large cement blocks, one or two are left open with manned checkpoints.
On the streets of Jerusalem, units of border police 3-5 soldiers, roam around and hand-check every Palestinian man walking on the street, then make a man raise his shirt and take a turn like a model, it is humiliating. The police have changed the protocol, allowing the soldiers to hand-search any Palestinian they suspect of carrying weapons, they are hand-searching any Palestinian, even without suspicions. It is not clear if the situation will calm any time soon, the anger is raising, day after day, yesterday (this event dates the email as 21/10), the settlers in Hebron murdered 2 young Palestinians, 17 &15 years old and as usual they fabricated a bogus stabbing story. Although those kids were just meters away from their homes. Most of the people on the streets, clashing with the army on a daily basis are young school and university kids”
That’s life for the Palestinians today.
We are the only people who can try to get this government to change its policy. Martin wonders why this governments policy has gone farther and farther and more and more pro-Israeli, but I’ll tell you because I can tell you in a way which perhaps nobody else in this room can tell you. It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations, to the conservative party as in the general election in May, support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things, bias the conservatives. There is now a big group of conservative members of Parliament, who are pro-Israel whatever government does and they are not interested in what Israel, in what the Israeli government does. They’re not interested in the fact that Palestinians are living a repressed life, and are liable to be shot at any time. In the last few days alone the Israelis have murdered 52 Palestinians and nobody pays attention and this government doesn’t care.
So we have to care, we have to put the pressure. The weekend before last I was in Copenhagen addressing a conference of young Palestinians in Europe. It was a marvellous conference with many hundreds of people attending. And I spoke to them in the way I speak to you this situation is a situation that is ***** could be ended at any moment. When the Israeli prime minister refused to attend a negotiating conference in Madrid, George H W Bush the father of George Bush said I will withhold dollars in loan guarantees for Russian settlers in Israel unless you come and he came. Because they do not understand morality, they haven’t understood morality for years and don’t just blame their government, that governments in office because of the voters of Israel. And they live an enclosed life, the voters of Israel. Go into the Gaza strip, if you can and these days you can’t, go onto the West Bank, go into East Jerusalem and what you will see is the oppression of a type which nobody else is being asked to put up with. There are abominations in Syria and around Syria there are abominations in Kashmir, these abominations can be stopped, these abominations can be stopped and the way to do it is a, economic sanctions, b, arms sanctions and c, boycotts.
Today’s guardian has a full page advertisement from hundreds of academics, some of them Jews, who have announced that they are going to boycott the Israeli academic institutions. You can boycott Israeli shops, here in this country, as we do in Manchester. Where there is an Israeli perfume shop. You can boycott Israeli goods, don’t buy Jaffa oranges, there are other Oranges which are better anyhow, but that’s not the point. The point is this, we have to do something about this or we are allowing huge numbers of our fellow human beings to live in hell. I don’t know how many of you have been there, maybe a lot, the wall, the wall which is totally illegal, the settlements, half a million, living in settlements which are all illegal in international law. The checkpoints, when a little while ago, I went to Jerusalem, I was due to have a meeting with the friend who sent me this email. I was staying at the American colony hotel, which some of you may know, and he telephoned me from Ramallah, he is an academic and he was in Ramallah for an academic event and he said, I am on my way and I shall be with you in half an hour checkpoints permitting, who else in the world has to build in to his or her life, checkpoints permitting.
So I say to you my friends, and as I say like my very good friend Andy Slaughter who is a marvellous champion of the Palestinians, and I am going to have to go off in a minute because we have got a vote at 7 but you are in very good hands tonight. I say to you all don’t let up…Tesco’s say it, but I say it as well, every little helps. Do what you can, don’t let up, I thank the organisers, of this event for allowing me to be the moderator even though I have not done much moderating. I say to you, you are on the side of humanity, you are on the side of decency, go on, don’t let up.