The following is a talk given at Chester Interfaith Palestine Conference 2019 on (2.1.2019).
In the last few days Zionist and Israeli advocacy groups were desperate to cancel the gathering of many local peace enthusiasts, intellectuals and religious leaders. Every Hasbara trick was put into play: Social media abuse, intimidating phone calls, smears and lies. But none of it worked. The pro- Israeli bigoted efforts backfired - - interest in the conference grew immediately, the local community stood for Palestine, peace, harmony and free speech!
Roderick Heather MBE, Chairman of Hoole Community Centre was subjected to vitriolic abuse. I learned yesterday that Mr Heather decided to attend the conference meetings and to judge for himself whether it was a ‘hateful’ gathering. Apparently he was impressed and announced to the group at the end of the first day that they will always be welcome at the Hoole Centre. Here is the message Mr Heather sent to North West Friends of Israel, the advocacy pressure group that led the campaign.
One may wonder why Zionist operators are so desperate to cancel Palestinian meetings and are so fearful of my work in particular. As things stand, the law seems to be on their side. With the IHRA definition of antisemitsm and current legislation designed to supress all criticism, the Zionist advocacy groups could theoretically seek to punish everyone who even comes close to any disputes of the operation of their community or their beloved state. You would expect Zionists to ignore Palestinian gatherings. If those gatherings were indeed ‘hateful’ they could have locked many of us up behind bars a long time ago. Clearly, the friends of Israel know that the reality is different. Palestine solidarity is a peaceseeking mission. Despite my huge body of work, I have never been accused of making a single hate statement. Needless to mention, I do not need to mention that I have never been charged or even questioned by a any legal authority anywhere in the world about anything I have said or written. The same applies to Stephen Sizer. The Zionist Lobby groups accuse Palestinian solidarity gatherings of being ‘hateful’ while knowing that this type of behaviour is something that Palestinian activism is free of.
Here are final words from Chester Interfaith Palestine Conference:
Chester Palestine Conference November 2nd 2019
The Chester Palestine Conference was even more successful on its second day. We actually ran out of chairs!
The theme for the day was "Grassroots for Palestine: making local links".
The day started with a brief interfaith service.
Burnley Women's Peace Group shared the experience of their Jerusalem Peace Pilgrimage this year. The images of Palestinian suffering were very moving. They are a Jewish, Christian and Muslim interfaith group.
A Jewish Roma activist addressed the similarities between the Roma and Palestinian experience.
Andrew Herbert from Chester's Methodist Church spoke of his Palestinian house rebuilding experience with the Amos Trust.
Gilad Atzmon the international jazz artist and author of best-selling books on Jewish identity politics flew in from Greece to give a wide-reaching presentation entitled "Zionism from Herzl to Bibi".
Atzmon was born into a Jewish family in Tel Aviv, and conscripted into the Israeli regime army where he had a life-changing experience when he was shocked by the barbaric conditions imposed by the Israeli regime on the Palestinians during the Israeli invasion into Lebanon in 1982.
In his intellectual, philosophical and polemical style he engaged us to think deeply about the causes of the worsening trauma of the Palestinian people.
Damien Short's presentation on the Genocide of the Palestinians was unable to be shown due to technical problems. We will endeavour to distribute it to the conference attendees. Damien is a Reader in Human Rights at the University of London. His book "Redefining Genocide: Settler Colonialism, Social Death and Ecocide", which includes a chapter on Genocide and Palestine, is highly recommended.
The Israeli artist Zohar's exhibition of Palestinian paintings is on show at Chester University Kingsway Arts Campus, Kingsway, Chester CH2 2LB for the month of November.
These accomplished and thought-provoking pictures are "witnessing the chaos and brutality inflicted on the Palestinian civilian population by an ever more confident and belligerent military power."
(For insurance and practical reasons we were unable to show these at the conference).