Auckland fundraising event this Sunday

21 Jun

Veteran human rights campaigner and prominent union leader, Mike Treen, will be New Zealand’s representative on the 2018 solidarity Freedom Flotilla determined to break the inhumane blockade of Gaza. He will join the final leg on board the lead boat, the ‘Al Awda’ (the Return – pictured above), in mid-July. The four boats began their long journey from Sweden & Norway in May.

NZ/Palestinian maritime engineer, Youssef Sammour, is part of the crew on the ‘Freedom’, which is now is Lisbon with the Al Awda– a refitted fishing trawler. The other two smaller boats are travelling through Europe’s canals. Follow this website or jfp.freedomflotilla.org for updates. All four boats will meet up in Sicily before heading across the Mediterranean for Gaza next month. Volunteers from 20 countries will be on board. After arriving at their destination, all four boats will be gifted to Gaza’s fishers.

Kia Ora Gaza is a member of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition. We are raising $40,000 as our share of the overall cost of this important mission.
You can support our NZ participation in this international endeavour to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza, by coming to the above event, and/or by donating to our 2018 Freedom Flotilla Appeal:
Please make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.
OR write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158.

French police obstruct Freedom Flotilla boats

20 Jun

VIDEO: After France Condemns Israel’s Killings in Gaza, French Police Obstruct Freedom Flotilla

Dimitri Lascaris, TheRealNews, 18 June 2018

Lascaris interviews Human Rights activist Claude Leostic, President, Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, who accuses Emmanuel Macron’s government of “political harassment”.

This second video (below) features a series of photos of the other two Flotilla boats, ‘Al Awda’ and ‘Freedom’ in the port of Gijon, Spain recently. Video by Merdede Menendez de Pedro, 19 June 2018.

NOTE: NZ/Palestinian crew member, Youssef Sammour is on the Flotilla boat, ‘Freedom’, currently heading for Lisbon. NZ union leader, Mike Treen will join the fourth flotilla boat, ‘Al Awda’, in July. The four-boat flotilla intends to reach Gaza by the end of July.

You can support our NZ participation in this international mission to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza, by donating to our 2018 Freedom Flotilla Appeal:

Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.

OR write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, P.O. Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158

Also: come to our Auckland fundraising dinner 6pm Sunday 24 June at the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall, New North Rd, $30 waged, $20 unwaged. [See details on earlier posts].

Opinion: Israel has three options in Gaza

15 Jun

The Great March of Return demonstrated that it is increasingly difficult for Israel to maintain the status quo, writes Abu Amer [Reuters]

By Adnan Abu Amer, Opinion AlJazeera, 13 Jun 2018

Israel has three options in Gaza:

Israel might either reoccupy Gaza, launch another massive military assault or lift the siege.

Continue reading

Interview with Canadian activist on the flotilla to Gaza

14 Jun

VIDEO: The Real News spoke with with Ron Rousseau, First Nation activist from Yukon, Canada, and the second Vice President of Canada’s Yukon Federation of Labor, who is on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, heading south along the coast of France to Gijon, Spain. 12 June 2018.

Continue reading

Auckland fundraising dinner for 2018 Freedom Flotilla

14 Jun

Come along to our special Freedom Flotilla fundraising event 6pm on Sunday 24 June at ther Mt Albert War Memorial Hall, Auckland.

Get tickets at the door, or deposit $30 (waged) or $20 (unwaged) with Kia Ora Gaza Trust’s Westpac account: 03-0211-0447718-000. The email us at office@kiaoragaza.net with you deposit details & name.

Gallery

Flotilla boats sail into Gijon, Spain: Photo gallery

14 Jun

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Two of the Freedom Flotilla boats, the ‘Freedom’ and ‘Al Awda’ have arrived in Gijon, Spain. New Zealand’s Youssef Sammour, a crewman on the ‘Freedom’ sent these pics. The other boats are sailing through Europe’s canals to all meet up in Sicily, before heading to Gaza in July.

The Freedom’s skipper, Jens Murklund, sent this message during the journey from Brighton to Gijon:

Onboard the s/v FREEDOM June 12, 1400 hrs UTC +2 (CET)

Back on the air! We have had good days at sea. Much of the time with very little wind, but the last 12 hours a fresh northerly gave us a night of high speed and heavy turns at the helm. Right now we’re doing 10-11 knots.

The crew has gradually become just that, a functioning crew, knowing its daily tasks and trained to deal with the not-so-daily events. Pitch-dark steering at surf speeds (we hit 15,7 knots around midnight) has also been very educative… The atmosphere is good and relaxed, and although our voyage has a serious mission, we can’t help enjoying this. It’s getting warmer, we have dolphins around us now and then, we get one beautiful sunset after the other…

In a few hours we will arrive in Gijon, we already have the Spanish coast in sight.

 

Video: Flotilla for the right to a just future for Palestine

13 Jun

This is the first video created by the Malaysian contingent on the 2018 International Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, as the four boats recently departed on the long journey via various European ports to eventually cross the Mediterranean determined to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza in July.

Over twenty countries are represented on the flotilla, including two Kiwis: NZ/Palestinian crewman/engineer, Youssef Sammour, and veteran human rights campaigner and union leader, Mike Treen.

You can support this important mission, and the two New Zealanders on board, by posting your cheque to Kia Ora Gaza Trust, PO Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158, or deposit your donation with our Westpac account: 03-0211-0447718-000. Then email office@kiaoragaza.net with details for an e-receipt.

A tribute to Anthony Bourdain

12 Jun

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain with a group of children in Gaza. ‘Thank you for shining your light on the dark places’ – Erin Cunningham

By Juan Cole, TruthDig, 10 June, 2018

Anthony Bourdain: The Only Mensch on Gaza

Anthony Bourdain was the only major American celebrity who succeeded in depicting publicly the Palestinians as rational, caring human beings rather than as irrationally angry inciters to violence. He was the anti-Bernard Lewis. Lewis smeared the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims with the charge of “Islamic rage” (as though large swathes of humankind are angry for no reason).

Bourdain said, “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinians, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity.”

The Israel propaganda machine has even attempted to smear Razan al-Najjar, the 21-year-old nurse in Gaza who was shot dead by an Israeli-American sniper as she tended, unarmed and clearly wearing medic’s clothing, to injured Palestinians being shot with live ammunition by Israeli troops on the Gaza side of the border. Shooting Razan was a war crime. Razan was engaged in an act of unselfish bravery. We should all be so “complex.” That attempt to dehumanize one Palestinian is typical of the American and Israeli media in general. I can’t tell you how many “panels” on Palestine I’ve seen on CNN that included no Palestinian; often it was three middle-aged males, and sometimes they lacked even religious diversity among them.

In the face of this dehumanization, Bourdain stood as an all too rare exception. Half the people in Gaza are children, and Bourdain loved them:

When the Israeli army, notorious for its use of indiscriminate fire, hit Palestinian children on a beach in Gaza, Bourdain wrote:

Maybe it’s the fact that I walked on that beach—and have a small child that makes this photo so devastating. #Gaza

And this is how he responded to being honored by a Muslim-American organization for his segment on cooking in Gaza, in which he was forthright about how the world has mistreated the Palestinians (70 percent of the families in Gaza are refugees, created by a campaign of deliberate ethnic cleansing on the part of Jewish immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, in which the Palestinians were chased from their homes in what was turned into southern Israel and then imprisoned in the Gaza Strip to this day):

Anthony Bourdain: MPAC Media Awards

And this is the segment on Gaza for which Bourdain was honoured:

CNN: “Israel: Anthony Bourdain has traditional Palestinian meal (Parts Unknown, Jerusalem)”

Bourdain got away with his humane sentiments toward Palestinians and his calling of bullshit on Israeli propaganda presumably because he had a cooking show rather than doing hard news. Or perhaps he stood where he stood because of the sheer force of his personality and his refusal to compromise with principle.

He will be sorely missed.

Freedom Flotilla – breaking the blockade of Gaza: Videos

11 Jun

Two recent video reports by PressTV on the four-boat Freedom Flotilla currently sailing to the Mediterranean sea to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.

Kia Ora Gaza is part of the 20-nation Freedom Flotilla Coalition, and is facilitating the participation of two NZ representative. NZ/Palestinian sailor/engineer Youssef Sammour is a crewman on the ‘Freedom’ sailing from port to port through Europe, and Unite Union national director and NZ veteran human rights campaigner, Mike Treen, will board the ‘Al Awda’ (the Return) in July as it heads for Gaza.

Support New Zealand’s participation in this international flotilla – donations can be deposited with Kia Ora Gaza Trust’s Westpac account: 03-0211-0447718-000 or post a cheque to Kia Ora Gaza Trust, PO Box 86022, Mangere East, Auckland 2158. Send you deposit details to office@kiaoragaza.net for an e-receipt.

Israel tries to murder Gazan medic many times over

11 Jun

Israel manipulates video of slain medic

VIDEO REPORT by Dan Cohen for RT America, 8 June 2018

The Israeli military promised to investigate the killing of Palestinian medic Razan Al Najjar, then it launched a disinformation campaign to justify her murder by manipulating a video interview of her. RT America’s Dan Cohen reports.

Jewish Voice for Peace deputy director, Ari Wohlfeiler, has voiced his outrage at this media manipulation, on 11 June 2018:

I’m beside myself with anger. 

10 days ago, 21 year-old Razan al-Najjar, a volunteer medic, was shot dead by an Israeli sniper while treating wounded protestors in a clearly visible medic’s uniform. 

There couldn’t be a more fundamental rule of engagement: you don’t kill medical personnel. But this is what happens when soldiers are lined up yards away from protesters and given shoot to kill orders. This is what the world’s “most moral army” does.

But what really makes me furious is how hard it is to get this story out with a bare minimum of accuracy and respect.

On Friday, the New York Times published an article essentially written by and for the Israeli military. With a bare minimum of context, they shared a (quickly debunked) IDF video that doctored an interview with Razan, and went so far as to say Najjar was a “complex person” and suggested that she wasn’t just a “healthcare worker.”

Here’s what I think: I think Razan was one of millions of women – especially women of color – holding social justice and freedom movements together. I think she was an example of someone who chose life. And she was killed for it not just by the sniper’s bullet, but by a clear and terrible set of policy choices that reaches right back to the US government – which means we can do something about it. 

And that’s why it’s so outrageous to read the Times’ take. There are already all too many people out there diligently whitewashing Israeli military actions. Public conversation in the US is already so skewed. Decent reporting matters!

I’m angry, but also incredibly sad. It’s so hard to sit here and not be able to do more. But I do believe that getting the story straight is something we can do – and that its actually necessary if we’re going to help stop the killing.

Thanks for jumping in on this,

Ari Wohlfeiler, 
Deputy Director http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Tell the New York Times: 

there is nothing complex about killing an unarmed medic!

Auckland veteran peace activist, Bob van Ruyssevelt, took up Ari’s challenge this morning and penned this letter to the editor of the New York Times:

It is difficult for me to comprehend why a respectable newspaper such as yours should attempt to justify the illegal shooting of Razan al-Najjar, a young woman from Gaza who in no way could be considered any kind of threat to the Israeli Defence Forces. 

Her shooting by an IDF sniper is shocking to the civilized world. The sight of the US representative to the United Nations trying and failing to dissuade the rest of the world from condemning the ongoing slaughter by the IDF (and having to resort to her veto) is troubling and embarrassing, but I guess she will say she is doing what the US administration pays her to.  What is your excuse?

Robert van Ruyssevelt.

NZNO condemns violence on first responders

8 Jun

 

A wounded Palestinian protester is evacuated during demonstrations east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on 25 May. The woman medic in the photo is Razan al-Najjar, who was shot and killed by an Israeli army sniper on 1 June. See earlier reports on kiaoragaza.net posted 2, 4, & 5 June 2018. [Ashraf Amra/APA images]                                                                                

NZNO (NZ Nurses Organisation) Media Statement  8 June 2018

NZNO condemns violence on first responders

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) supports the stand taken by international organisations and governments condemning attacks on health personnel in Palestine.

On Friday 1 June 21 year old nurse Razan al-Najjar was fatally shot while carrying out her duties as a volunteer in the Palestinian Medic Relief Society. About 245 health care workers and 40 ambulances have been attacked in the region between March 30 and May 27, according to recent reports.

https://www.ochaopt.org/content/un-agencies-deeply-concerned-over-killing-health-volunteer-gaza

We join the international community in calling for international humanitarian laws to be upheld and for attacks on medical personnel to immediately cease. We are calling for highest level international organisations to condemn these acts of violence and targeted attacks on first responders. Nurses, doctors and other health care workers must be protected and have the right to treat people safely even in areas of conflict.

We are concerned also that New Zealanders are part of first responder health care teams in conflict areas around the world and must be able to do their duty to care for those needing urgent health interventions and humanitarian aid without risk of harm or death.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation is a member of the International Council of Nurses which is a member of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition. And has previously spoken out against violence and attacks on health professionals in Syria and other nations.

Gaza’s health sector near collapse

8 Jun

Medics at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City transport a Palestinian wounded by Israeli troops during Great March of Return rallies, on 14 May. Health authorities say that on that day Gaza witnessed a worse health crisis than during any single day in Israel’s 2014 offensive on the territory. [Lewis Joly SIPA]

By Amjad Ayman Yaghi, Gaza, The Electronic Intifada, 7 June 2018

As the dust settles over Gaza, an already wobbling Egyptian-mediated ceasefire may bring some calm for the two million Palestinians trapped there without, yet again, any resolution to Gaza’s underlying problems.

The most pressing problem for Palestinians in Gaza remains a tottering infrastructure that threatens a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe at any moment. Water and electricity are scarce, sewage flows directly into the sea and the economy is in ruins.

The health sector has been the focus over the past few weeks since the Great March of Return protests put the spotlight back on Gaza.

The number of injuries resulting from Israeli attacks against unarmed protesters on the eastern boundary of the Gaza Strip nearly broke the back of an overstretched and under-resourced sector, exacerbating the pressure on health professionals and straining provision.

Medics even found themselves in the crosshairs, and two – Razan al-Najjar on 1 June and Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein on 14 May – were killed while carrying out their duties.

Continue reading

Boycott action last month: ‘the scales are tipping’

8 Jun

As more celebrities and public figures follow their conscience and stand with our struggle for freedom, justice and equality, the scales are tipping for Palestinian rights.

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Mike Treen and the 2018 Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

7 Jun

By Wellington Palestine, 7 June 2018

Mike Treen & the 2018 Freedom Flotilla: an interview

Mike Treen is the National Director of Unite Union, representing fast food and hospitality workers across Aotearoa. Next month Mike will be participating in this year’s mission by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition to break the siege on Gaza.

In this interview Nadia Abu-Shanab, of Wellington Palestine, interviews Mike on his part in the 2018 Freedom Flotilla mission and the links between unions in Aotearoa and the global movement for justice in Palestine.

Mike has a long history of activism. Playing a major role in movements that transformed not only Aotearoa, but also how our small Pacific nation related to the rest of the world. Notably, participating in the anti-Vietnam war campaign, the Bastion Point occupation and organising as part of anti-apartheid movement during the Springbok tours.

Please note that tonight, Thursday the 7th of June, Mike and other union activists will be meeting at Unite Union in Auckland to discuss how to deepen union support for Palestine and BDS: Unions for Palestine meeting, 7:00pm, Unite Union, 6a Western Springs Road, Kingsland, Auckland.

Kia ora Mike, you’ve been invited to participate in an attempt to break the siege of Gaza. Can you please tell us a bit about the flotilla and why you’ve decided to go?

Continue reading

World reacts as Argentina cancels match with Israel

7 Jun

Gonzalo Higuaín: ‘The right thing was not to go to Israel.’ (Photo: via Facebook)

The Palestine Chronicle, June 6, 2018

BDS: World Reacts as Argentina Cancels Match with Israel

Argentina officially canceled its final World Cup warm-up match against Israel on June 9, as a result of BDS (the international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaign) pressure.

The announcement is considered one of the greatest achievements for the BDS movement in years. 

You can send a powerful message of thanks to the team’s manager:

Thank you for choosing freedom.

Many reacted to the decision on social media:

Gonzalo “El Pipa” Higuaín felt it was the right decision: 

Argentinian player, Gonzalo “El Pipa” Higuaín, who is also a striker for the Italian football club Juventus, told ESPN: “the right thing was not to go to Israel.”

Carlos Latuff, Political Cartoonist had a message: 

A few hours before the official announcement, popular Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff created an image which went viral:

Continue reading

A warm welcome for Gaza flotilla boat at UK stop-over

7 Jun

VIDEO: Freedom flotilla boat arrives in UK

By Jehan Alfarra, Brighton UK, Middle East Monitor, 6 June 2018

Crowds gathered at Brighton Marina wall yesterday to welcome the Swedish boat to Gaza ‘Freedom’ as it sails into the British mainland. 

The ‘Freedom’ will have a short stop-off in Brighton and then head to ports in Spain and other European countries before joining the other three flotilla boats on their way to Gaza.

Jehan Alfarra reports from Brighton – Including an interview with Kiwi/Palestinian crew member, Youssef Sammour.

Veteran human rights campaigner & union leader, Mike Treen, will join the lead flotilla boat, the Al Awda (the Return), for the final leg on the Mediterranean.

Please support our Freedom Flotilla appeal: Donations can be deposited with Kia Ora Gaza’s Westpac account: 03-0211-0447718-000, or post a cheque to Kia Ora Gaza Trust, PO Box 86022, Mangere East, AK 2158.

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Video report on the Brighton welcome by PressTV:

Palestinians score as Argentina cancels Israel match

6 Jun

Argentina national team player Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal for his club side Barcelona during a Spanish league match against Real Madrid, in Barcelona, 6 May. [Joan Gosa Xinhua]

By Ali Abunimah Electronic Intifada, 6 June 2018

Palestinians are celebrating the news that Argentina – and its star Lionel Messi – will not be playing the “friendly” football match that had been set for Jerusalem next weekend.

The cancellation is a huge blow to Israel and came after an intense campaign by Palestinians and their supporters, especially in Latin America and the Spanish state, urging Argentina not to help Israel whitewash its most recent massacres of unarmed civilians in Gaza.

“We welcome news that Argentina’s ‘friendly’ football match with Israel has been canceled,” PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, stated. “The team responded to creative campaigning from fans around the world denouncing Israel’s sportswashing of its crimes against Palestinians.”

Activists in Catalonia, home to Messi’s club side Barcelona, hailed the news as a “victory.”

Video: The grassroots boycott campaign included a direct appeal to Messi and his teammates from Palestinian footballer Muhammad Khalil Obeid.Israeli snipers shot Obeid in both of his knees, ending a promising football career, during the first Great March of Return rallies near the Gaza-Israel boundary on 30 March.

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Petition: SuperFund divest from illegal settlements

6 Jun

Christchurch commentator Donna Miles writes: Thrilled to hear Labour MP Duncan Webb (above with PM Ardern) will be presenting my petition to the New Zealand Parliament.
NZ Superannuation Fund must not invest in illegal #Israeli settlements on the occupied Palestinian land.

Please show your support by signing my petition here:
https://www.parliament.nz/…/petition-of-donna-miles-stop-su…

Continue reading

As the Freedom Flotilla sails again to Gaza: Interview

6 Jun

Freedom Flotilla spokesperson, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, wharf-side with the Flotilla’s lead boat the Al Awda.

Freedom Flotilla Sails Again to Gaza in Support of the Palestinian Great March of Return

Written by Yoav Litvin, Truthout2 June 2018

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (the catastrophe), in which approximately 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by Zionist militias. On May 14, 2018, Israel’s independence day and one day before the concurrent occasion of the Nakba anniversary, the world witnessed a dystopian reality of split screens that displayed Israeli officials engaged in celebrations during the opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem, as Israeli troops massacred dozens of Palestinians near the border fence to Gaza during the Great March of Return.

The international Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) is a grassroots, nonviolent effort aimed at expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and coordinating local campaigns that challenge Israel’s decade-old siege of the Gaza strip. The FFC made headlines in 2010, when it was raided by Israeli Navy commandos who killed nine activists and injured more than 50, causing international outrage.

The FFC set sail from Norway to Gaza several days ago and will stop at about a dozen ports, among them Cadiz, Spain, on June 23 just before entering the Mediterranean Sea.

Zohar Chamberlain Regev is an Israeli citizen who lives in Spain. Chamberlain Regev is the owner of the Women’s Boat to Gaza Zaytouna-Oliva, seized in 2016, and the object of ongoing court proceedings in Israel. She has participated in the coordination of Rumbo a Gaza, the Spanish component of the Freedom Flotilla, since 2012, and is the FFC’s boat leader on board Al-Awda (The Return) — the flotilla for 2018.

Gerd von der Lippe (pictured below) is a professor at the University of Southeast Norway, specializing in media, sports (with a focus on the Middle East), gender and politics.

In this interview, Regev and von der Lippe discuss their hopes and fears for the Al-Awda Freedom Flotilla.

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Reflecting on Israel’s murder of medic Razan al-Najjar

5 Jun

VIDEO: Remembering Palestinian Medic Razan al-Najjar, Killed by IDF

Democracy Now! interviewed Dr. Medhat Abbas, director of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip: “It was clear to everybody that she was a paramedic, that that was murder. I mean, that was a crime committed before cameras.” Democracy Now! also talked with Najjar’s cousin, Dalia al-Najjar, who says the response of the international community to the Gaza crisis has been “really disappointing.”

Published 4 June 2018

So, what are our own politicians going to do about this? Why not ask them? Go to this website set up for this purpose:

https://lettersforpalestine.weebly.com/murder-of-palestinian-paramedic-razan-al-najar.html

 

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