Report on Irish Week of Solidarity Against the Apartheid Walls in Palestine and the Siege of Gaza (9 - 16 Nov 2009)

November 30, 2009

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Report on the Week of Solidarity Against the Apartheid Walls in Palestine and the Siege of Gaza (9th – 16th November 2009)

By Kevin Squires & Freda Hughes

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Report on the Week of Solidarity Against the Apartheid Walls in Palestine and the Siege of Gaza (9th – 16th November 2009)

By Kevin Squires & Freda Hughes

The Ireland Palestine
Solidarity Campaign took part in this year’s International Week of
Solidarity called by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall
Campaign (

international call to activists was put out to launch a week of global
mobilisation against the walls of apartheid in Palestine from November
9th to 16th 2009. The IPSC used this opportunity to highlight the
necessity of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, with
specific reference to the ongoing role of Irish construction company
CRH (formerly Cement Roadstone Holdings) in the building of the
Apartheid Wall and illegal colonial settlements in the West Bank.

In addition, we also highlighted the ongoing brutal medieval-style
siege of Gaza and the devastating aftermath of Israel’s winter
offensive on the tiny coastal strip which left over 1,400 Palestinians
dead and thousands wounded and homeless.

Our aim was to promote as many different voices showing solidarity with
the Palestinian people as possible, and to raise awareness among
mainstream Irish civil society of Israel’s apartheid policies, the
ongoing plight of Palestinians, and their heroic struggle to resist
ethnic cleansing.

To this end we hosted a series of film screenings, public meetings and
fundraisers in Cork, Tullamore, Limerick, Belfast, Maynooth, Galway,
Kilkenny, and Dublin. We also hosted a National Demonstration in Dublin
on Saturday 14th November.

Below are brief reports from the various events.

Screenings of Bassem Abu Rahmah - Story of a Martyr (2009)

Abu Rahmah was a nonviolent anti-Apartheid Wall activist from the West
Bank village of Bil'in. On April 17th 2009 he was murdered by the
Israeli military when he was shot at point blank range in the chest
with a tear gas canister. This film looks at the situation in Bil'in
through the lens of Bassem's short life.

The film was watched by captive audiences in Cork
(9th), Dublin (10th), Maynooth (11th), Galway (12th), Belfast (13th)
and Limerick (15th). At all screenings (except Cork) International
Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists Evie Soli and Pete St. John-Jones
gave presentations and answered questions about the non-violent
struggle in Bil’in.

Evie Soli is 26 years old and studies Social
Anthropology in Trondheim University in Norway. Last year she worked in
a refugee camp in Palestine. Since then she has actively worked for an
academic and trading boycott of Israel through "the Committee for
Palestine" in Norway. This year she worked as an activist in Hebron, Al
Quds (Jerusalem) and mostly Bil'in with grassroots resistance
movements. She is now working on the creation of ISM Norway, and
continuing to raise awareness and promote the boycott.

Pete Jones is 25 years old and has been involved in Palestinian
solidarity since his undergraduate days, campaigning in the UK through
student movements and later, in Paris, through various affinity groups.
He spent two months in the West Bank this summer, in Nablus and Al Quds
(Jerusalem) for a short while but doing most of his work in Bil'in. He
is involved with the ISM network in London, planning and executing
direct actions that aim to raise awareness of the exploitation and
oppression of Palestinians by the occupation forces as well as to
convince complicit companies and governmental agencies to cut their
ties with Israel as part of the on-going effort to establish a full and
proper boycott until such a point as the occupation is ended.

They spoke with passion about their experiences in Palestine and of the
need for international support in order to continue to resist the
ongoing Israeli Apartheid practices in Palestine.

stated that: “Over the past few months Israeli repression against the
people of Bil’in has escalated. No longer are military actions confined
to ‘policing’ the Friday demonstrations and the occasional incursion to
arrest or harass activists. Since July 2009 there have been regular
night-time military raids into Bil’in aimed at instilling fear in the
people and destroying the Bil’in Popular Committee. The Israeli
authorities have arrested members of the Committee as well as teenagers
and young boys from the village in order to obtain forced confessions
against Committee members.”

He also spoke of the various
legal cases taken by the Popular Committee: “ The construction of
Israel’s wall in the West Bank was declared illegal by the
International Criminal Court on July 9th 2004. In a celebrated
decision, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on the 4th September 2007,
that the current route of the wall in Bil’in was illegal should be
dismantled. Unfortunately, this ruling has never been implemented. On
25th June 2009 the village of Bil’in took two companies registered in
Canada to court for participating in war crimes by building settlements
on Bil’in’s land under the 2000 Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and
War Crimes Statute. “

spoke of the innovative and creative nature of the demonstrations (such
the Children’s March, the building of a mock settlement which was
dismantled by the Israeli military as – just like the illegal
settlements – it had no permit, and the use of balloons and music
during demonstrations). She told audiences of the way she had been
inspired by the peaceful resistance in Bil’in.

also encouraged all those concerned with obtaining justice for
Palestinians to get involved in campaigning in their own countries,
cities and localities. She stressed the power that organised campaigns
can have at influencing all levels of society.

Screenings of Erased: Wiped off Map (2009)

December 19, 2008 a group belonging to International Solidarity
Movement, deparated from Cyprus bound for Palestine. Their objective
was to break through the Israeli blockade on the Gaza strip. They were
the last group of foreigners that were able to enter in the territory.
None of them dreamt what they were going to live through in the
following weeks.

The film received its premiere screenings in
Limerick (11th) and Dublin (15th), and left some audience members in
tears and others visibly shaken at the atrocities and inhumanity they
had witnessed happening to the people of Gaza in the film. These were
eyewitness scenes that not many people in the West had never had the
opportunity to see before. Yet all who saw the film left determined to
take action in support of the Palestinian struggle for human, civil and
political rights and to end the Siege of Gaza.

Screenings of Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority (2006)

101 is multi-award winning 2006 documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. The film focuses on the effects of the Israeli occupation of
the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and discusses events from the rise of
Zionism to the Second Intifada. It includes interviews with scholars,
religious leaders, humanitarian workers, and NGO representatives.

Occupation 101 was shown by the IPSC’s two
university branches in NUI Galway (5th) and NUI Maynooth (10th). The
IPSC would like to commend these two university branches on
reinvigorating our campaign work with the start of this academic year

Screenings of CRH plc: Tear Down the Wall (2009)

short documentary, made by David Mottershead and Daniela Gross (whom
the IPSC would like to thank), is about the Ireland Palestine
Solidarity Campaign’s BDS campaign seeking CRH (the Irish construction
materials giant) divestment from Israel and an end to their complicity
with the oppression of the Palestinian people.

The short six-minute film was screened before
showings of the other films around the country and was greeted with a
very positive reception.

Tullamore Public Meeting: Breaking the Walls of Apartheid, Opening the Doors of Solidarity

On Friday 13th November John Hurson of Free Gaza and John Dorman, IPSC Divestment Officer spoke in Tullamore at a meeting chaired by Cormac Lally of the IPSC.

John Hurson talked about Quinn Cement’s pledge to endorse and support
his new charity initiative ‘Where Do The Children Play?’ in bringing
construction supplies into Gaza.

John Dorman spoke about about the IPSC’s campaign seeking CRH (the
Irish construction materials giant) divestment from Israel and an end
to their complicity with the oppression of the Palestinian people via
their failure to comply with international law. He said CRH was in
breach of international law as a result of its awareness of, proximity
to and financial benefit derived from the construction of Israel's
illegal Apartheid Wall, colonial settlements and settler only roads and
light rail system. He also encouraged people to sign the IPSC petition
to CRH on this subject – the petition is online here:

John also highlighted the issue of Ireland purchasing arms from Israel.
He encouraged everyone to write to Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea
expressing their disgust at this insidious contract. This issue was
also recently raised in the Seanad, on Monday 9 November, by Senator
David Norris, to whom the IPSC are grateful. To see Senator Norris'
comments please go to this link:

Kilkenny Public Meeting: Breaking the Siege of Gaza - Viva Palestina and Free Gaza Activists Speak

Ger Cassidy of Viva Palestina and Alan Lonergan of the Free Gaza
Movement spoke at a public meeting in Kilkenny on Wednesday 11th
November, chaired by John Heddon of the IPSC. They spoke about their
plans to take part  in the international siege breaking convergence on
Gaza that will coincide with the anniversary of Israel's 2008/09 winter
attack on the besieged coastal strip.

Ger who decided,
along with several others in Cork, to form Viva Palestina Cork in order
to send essential supplies to the people of Gaza. Their convoy will
leave Ireland on December 1st bound for Gaza. Dave Curran, of VPC, will
be driving an old Irish ambulance decorated with graffiti and filled
with medical supplies and aid to the Rafah crossing. For more info see:

Alan spoke of his intention to sail on the next Free
Gaza mission bringing aid and supplies to Gaza. He is a Free Gaza
Ireland Coordinator and previously entered Gaza in October 2008 with
the Free Gaza Movement. He also gave a powerful presentation on current
conditions in Gaza.

UCD Public Meeting: The Future for the Middle East

Sameh Habeeb came to University College Dublin on
Monday 16 November for a talk on campus organized by the just-founded
Irish Anti-War Movement-UCD Student Branch, in association with the
IPSC. The talk also featured speakers Andy Storey, Kieran Allen and
Julien Mercille, all lecturers at UCD.

The event was a major success and attracted about 60
students and was quite important in that it was the first event
organized by IAWM-UCD, which is planning to focus its activities on
Palestine among other things in the future. Sameh talked about the
attack on Gaza last winter and this generated much interest from the
audience. We agreed to continue collaboration and possible future

Fundraisers & Cultural Events

Dublin: Table Quiz

Thursday 12th November the IPSC in Dublin held a very enjoyable table
quiz in Brokers Bar. We would like to thank everyone who participated
and who donated prizes, and David Hughes for being a most affable


Dublin: Palestinian Night in Seomra Spraoi

On Friday 13th November, the IPSC in association with the Seomra Spraoi
Friday Night Re-Sessions hosted a very successful Palestinian cultural
and social evening, with over 80 people in attendance. There was music,
gorgeous food (thanks to the People’s Kitchen posse for this) and lots
of craic. Thanks to everyone who came along to support the evening, the
IPSC and Seomra Spraoi. Special thanks to Bas, Mark and Darren for
organising it.

For more about the Re-Session Nights, please see:


Belfast: Palestinian Night in the Workshops Collective

The Palestinian Benefit night in Belfast was held in
the Workshops Collective, Lawerence St. The night will start with a
showing of the film "Bassem – Story of a Martyr". ISM activists Evie
Soli and Pete St. John-Jones who lived in Bi'lin also addressed the
crowd, as did Ger Cassidy of Viva Palestina and Ronan Nolan, Vice-Chair
of the IPSC. On the night there was also Palestinian food, music and

The Workshops are a self-funding arts
collective which have often been involved in social movements on both
local and global levels. We’d like to thank the Workshops for their
support in making the night a massive success, and look forward to
working with them in the future.

Information and Awareness Raising Stalls

the week the IPSC hosted stalls all around the country providing
informational leaflets, DVDs, books and hand-woven crafts from Bil’in.
Thanks to everyone who helped staff the stalls over the week.


IPSC National Rally Against Apartheid in Palestine and the Siege of Gaza (followed by Public Meeting)

Saturday 14th November 2009 hundreds of Palestinians and solidarity
activists rallied in Dublin to protest against Israel’s apartheid
practices in Palestine. The rally - part of an international week of
global mobilisation against the walls of apartheid in Palestine from
November 9th to 16th 2009, called by the Palestinian Grassroots
Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign – was compèred by Freda Hughes (IPSC PRO), Caoimhe Butterly (renowned Irish human rights activist), Ger Cassidy (Viva Palestina), Sameh Habeeb (Gazan Journalist and human rights activist), John Hurson (Where Do the Children Play?), Pete St. John-Jones (International Solidarity Activist in Bil’in).

Speakers highlighted the brutality of the Israeli
occupation of Palestine, with particular reference to the Siege of Gaza
and the Israel’s Apartheid Walls in Palestine. They spoke of their
efforts, both in Ireland and in Palestine, to raise awareness among
civil and political society, as well as their various efforts to help
people on the ground in Palestine. Freda Hughes, the IPSC PRO, stressed
the need to build a broad based social mass-movement to convey the
reality of the situation in Palestine to mainstream society.

Following the speeches protestors marched around the central
reservation on O’Connell Street chanting slogans in support of the
Palestinian people, carrying colourful flags, placards and banners in a
loud and spirited demonstration.

the rally, an IPSC press conference was held in the Teachers’ Club. The
reason for the conference was to raise awareness of the ongoing media
difficulties surrounding the occupation of Palestine, to highlight the
impressive role the Irish trade union movement has played in pushing
for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and to
launch the IPSC’s campaign aimed at building public support to convince
Irish multinational CRH to divest from Israel [1].

Peter McLoone,
General Secretary of IMPACT, who was a member of the ICTU delegation
that visited Palestine in November 2007, spoke of his experiences in
Palestine during the trip. Mr. McLoone said: “There is no doubt that
the people of Palestine are suffering. There is no doubt that people
are dying and there is no doubt that people are living in fear. No
amount of Israeli propaganda can counteract what I have seen on the

Mr. McLoone continued: “The trade union movement
in Ireland is determined to take Palestinian solidarity activism to a
new level. We are determined to engage with other trade unions to
encourage them to adopt a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

14Sameh Habeeb,
Gazan journalist and human rights worker who reported prolifically and
bravely during the Israeli onslaught in Dec 2008 /Jan 2009, gave an
emotive account of the current situation in Gaza. He spoke of the dire
medical conditions and the fact that the economy has completely
collapsed. He also talked about the difficulties faced by those in
education and the cripplingly high unemployment rate in the beleaguered
coastal strip which is home to 1.5 million Palestinans.

Habeeb stated: “The war on Gaza was not a retaliation against Hamas
rockets, the ceasefire was breached by Israel on November 4th 2008 – a
fact that has been openly admitted by Israeli military sources. This
was a pre-planned war. Israel’s denials regarding its targeting of
civilians is propaganda and fabrication and is abhorrent in a time of
such unequal conflict.”

Harry Browne,
journalist and lecturer in DIT, spoke of the mainstream media bias in
favour of Israel and its official sources which he said were often
accepted at face value without the application of critical analysis on
behalf of reporters. He stressed that some of the best and most honest
reporting from Gaza came from Gazans themselves, like Sameh Habeeb,
because very few Western media outlets had a presence there when the
war was launched. He referred to this as “real reporting”. He also made
reference to the importance of New Media such as blogs, social
networking sites and independent media outlets in delivering genuine
and unfiltered news coverage on an international scale.

John Dorman,
the IPSC’s Divestment Officer, officially launched the IPSC’s campaign
aimed at building public support to convince Irish multinational CRH to
divest from Israel (For background see Note 1).

Dorman outlined the steps the IPSC are taking in this multifaceted and
long-term campaign which include research, education, legal and civil
aspects. He urged those concerned with CRH’s role in Israel to get
involved in the campaign by contacting the IPSC, and at the very least
to sign the IPSC’s petition -

Dorman concluded: “CRH boast on their website that they adhere “to the
highest standards of corporate and social responsibility” and that they
state that the support the UN Declaration of Human Rights and consider
human rights implications where applicable in all contracts. In light
of this, we the undersigned call for CRH to immediately divest from the
Mashav Group and to end its collusion with Israel’s Apartheid Regime.”

Concluding the meeting David Landy,
Chair of the IPSC, encouraged people to get involved, either at home by
getting involved in the IPSC and the BDS campaign, or by visiting
Palestine to see the suffering of the people first hand and getting
involved with grassroots and NGO campaigns there.

Conclusion & Future IPSC Events

Although the Week of Solidarity was a huge success
we feel that it is important to remind people that gross human rights
violations against the Palestinian people continue on a daily basis,
perhaps best exemplified by the continuing siege of Gaza and the
ongoing construction of illegal settlement colonies in the West Bank.
We would like to take this opportunity to:

    1. ask you to get involved with the IPSC’s CRH divestment campaign. To get involves please email divestment [at] or phone 01 6770253
    2. ask
      you to get involved with, or simply donate to the IPSC to help us keep
      the campaign going. You can get more information on this by emailing info [at] or calling 01 677 0253

We would also like to inform everyone that
this December and January we will be holding a series of events and
campaigns aimed at remembering and commemorating the barbarous attacks
on Gaza last winter which left over 1,400 dead, thousands injured and
homeless, and resulted in the almost complete destruction of the social
and economic infrastructure of the tiny coastal strip which is home to
1.5 million Palestinians. Please see the IPSC website at for forthcoming details of these events and activities


CRH’s Israeli subsidiary the Mashav Group is to acquire Hanson Israel,
Israel's 2nd largest building materials company, which operates illegal
quarries, asphalt, aggregate and cement factories in the Occupied West
Bank. Added to this CRH (through Mashav) owns a 25% stake in the Nesher
Cement company that provides 85% of all cement in Israel. Therefore,
the Irish company CRH is currently complicit in the violation of
international law through illegal mining activities in Palestine, as
well as the construction of Israel's Apartheid Wall in the West Bank,
checkpoints and settlement-colonies.


The organisers (Freda and Kev) would like to thank, in no particular order, the following people for all their help: Sameh
Habeeb, Peter McLoone, Harry Browne, Evie Soli, Pete St. John-Jones,
Caoimhe Butterly, John Hurson, Ger Cassidy, Alan Lonergan, David Landy,
Cormac Lally, John Heddon, Hassan Ould Moctar, Andrea Mcgiff, John
Dorman, Julien Mercille, Claudia Saba, Kieran Allen, Andy Storey, Sean
Clinton, Jim Bowen, Ronan Nolan, Caroline McLaughlin, Dave Curran,
Derek & Jenny Graham, Niamh Moloughney, Joseph Loughnane, Cecilia
Garrigan, Angela El Kadi, Ronan O’Dowd, Martin O’Quigley, Sue Esterson,
Eileen Vaughan, David Motterhead, Daniela Gross, Garry Walsh, Finbar
Cullen, Eugene McCartan, Séamas Ó Brógáin, Fintan Lane, Ann Clinton,
Martin & Kieran O’Sullivan, David Hughes, Mark McDonnell, Robert
Navan, Mark Lye, Bas C, Mark Malone, Seomra People’s Kitchen (Darren,
Sian and everyone else), Paul Bowman, Conor Murphy, Eric, Bill &
Oisin O’Brien, the Lawrence St Workshops Collective, the Seomra Spraoi
Collective, the Progressive Film Club, the Bil’in Popular Committee,
Iyad Burnat, the Palestinian Rights Institute, the Irish Anti-War
Movement, Viva Palestina Ireland, Free Gaza Ireland, Anti-War Ireland,
éirígí, the Communist Party of Ireland & Connolly Youth Movement,
Senator David Norris, Aengus O Snodaigh TD, Mark Grehan, Indymedia,
Nigel Woods (Anna Livia FM), Ursula Ni Shion (Radio Na Life), Abdul
Haseeb (Near FM) and everyone who promoted and came along to the events
during the week. And of course, apologies to anyone we’ve inadvertently
left out, as you can imagine it was a hectic week with many people

We’d also like to thank the IPSC branches in Dublin, Maynooth, Kilkenny, Tullamore, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Belfast

IPSC Week of Solidarity 2009 Crew (minus a few)

17 – 01 6770253 – info [at]

November 30, 2009


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