Hastings and Rye Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Newsletter   10 November 2020

East Sussex Pension Fund Divestment Campaign - Update

First, a big thank you to all who took the time to write to the East Sussex County Council ahead of its last meeting on 13 October. Thanks to our joint efforts with Brighton and Hove PSC a total of 26 public questions went to the council about pension investments in companies complicit in Israel's occupation and breaking international law.

The Chair of the East Sussex Pension Committee replied to these questions: his response (questions 43 to 46).

The Fund examined the investments we are presently targetting, mainly companies that the United Nations has highlighted in its list of companies involved in Israel's illegal settlement economy. The Fund owns these companies within 'passive index funds' or tracker funds. The Chair said that there has been a conscious decision to reduce its expose to passive funds. And the upshot of all of this is that once the changes have been made the Fund '...expects to see a further reduction in any exposure to these companies.'

So the Pension Fund is actively taking steps to divest from index funds that hold investments with companies 'operating and profiting from stolen land' - their words!

This is a significant step on the road towards a more ethical investment policy for East Sussex Pension Fund.

But the fact remains that, even if the Fund divests from the 12 targetted companies, this will remove less than 2% of the Fund's investments in companies that are complicit in Israel's occupation. Instead of holding £111 million, it will still be holding £109 million! Whether this reduction in index funds will reduce this £109 million we don't know. But these investments at the moment include £1.6 million in Lockheed Martin which provides Israel with F-16 fighter jets, and £2.8 million in Thales which produces the armoured Watchkeeper WK 450 Drone. The full list of investments can be found here.

We will continue to push for details of the divestment currently underway and plan to bring you a further update as well as details of the next stage in the campaign.

Fundraiser for Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)

Our online fundraiser for MAP has got off to a great start - but there's still a way to go before we can improve on the £1000 we raised last year. All the information - the prizes, how to buy tickets, the live entertainment from Gaza, and why we think it's important to raise funds for MAP - on this page.

Anyone on social media can share this event:
Our Facebook events page.   Hastings Observer Hastings Online Times  Hastings Independent
Hastings In Focus.

We're really pleased that the Hands Up Project has arranged for there to be a short play live from a school in Gaza. So this will be part of the live link up to Gaza for musical entertainment from young Palestinian musicians prior to the raffle prize. So just 12 days to go - 7pm on Sunday 22 November.

Future activities

  • Information stalls. Weather and lock down rules permitting, our fortnightly stalls will resume in Hastings town centre Saturday 5 December 12.00.
  • National day of action: Saturday November 28. Stop Annexation, End Apartheid, Sanctions Now. This will now be an online event. Watch out for our Facebook and Twitter posts. Hopefully as many people as possible will join in: National day of action.

    The Hands Up Project and the first 'Family Matters' meeting

    Hands Up is an inspiring project where children in Gaza make connections with the rest of the world through drama. At a recent meeting organised by Hastings against War and the Hastings & Rother Interfaith Forum featuring the Hands Up Project, it was suggested that during Covid it might be difficult organising meetings between schools - why not have meetings between families! It was such a great idea that the Hands Up Project got onto this straight away resulting in the link up online - between a family in Al Sabra, East of Gaza City and a family in Brede, East Sussex. Meeting with the Abu Sharea-Abu Jasser family in Gaza.

    So there's no stopping us now - there must be lots of local families who can link up with families in Gaza. Next stop - Hastings twinning with Gaza City? Here's how to contact the Hands Up website. This is the write-up of the meeting between Hastings against War and the Hastings & Rother Interfaith Forum: Article here.

    Protest against three Israeli-owned arms factories on anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

    Israeli weaponised drone manufacturer Elbit was targetted at its Oldham and Tamworth factories. Elbit's factory at Shenstone, Staffordshire was also blockaded and shut down. Article here.

    Activists visited TC Harrison's JCB site (left) in the north of England to protest at its role in the demolition of the Palestinian setlement of Humsa where 74 people were made homeless. JCB bulldozers are used in demolitions throughout the West Bank. JCB is one of the companies that the United Nations has highlighted in its list of companies involved in Israel's illegal settlement economy.

    Both actions were carried out by the group Palestine Action. Its fundraiser is here - please read carefully as GoFundMe is presently withholding withdrawals; alternative methods are given: Palestine Action Fundraiser.

    Israel is subjecting Palestinian children to physical and psychological abuse

    Israel is the only country in the world to prosecute children routinely in military courts that lack basic safeguards for a fair trial. Article from MEMO/Middle East Monitor. Article here.

    Social media's erasure of Palestinians is a grim warning for our future

    The treatment of Palestinians online serves as a warning that we can't regard Google, Facebook and Twitter as politically neutral platforms. Jonathan Cook writes about the censorship carried out by the tech giants.

    He also pinpoints the methods used by the Israel lobby to silence Palestinian voices. A pro-Israel media lobby group, Camera, had been orchestrating covert efforts by Israel loyalists to infiltrate the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to edit entries and "rewrite history" in ways favourable to Israel.

    An app launched in 2017, Act.IL, mobilised Israel partisans to "swarm" sites hosting either criticism of Israel or support for Palestinians. Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli military censor who was assigned to Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry, said the goal of the app was to "create a community of fighters" whose job was to "flood the internet" with Israeli propaganda.

    In 2016, Israel's justice ministry was boasting that Facebook, Google and YouTube were "complying with up to 95 percent of Israeli requests to delete content," almost all of it Palestinian.

    Since 2016, Israel's justice ministry has reportedly suppressed tens of thousands of Palestinian posts. As well as excising tens of thousands of Palestinian posts, Israel has persuaded Facebook to take down the accounts of major Palestinian news agencies and leading journalists.
    Article here.

    Virtual Lobby Day 2020

    2 December. Meet with your MP over Zoom to discuss Palestinian Rights. Request A Zoom meeting with your MP on 2nd December. More information here.

    News from and about the occupation:

    Belen Fernandez: Robert Fisk: Shining a light on western abuses in the Middle East.

    Columbia (New York) students voted overwhelmingly to divest from Israel. 'Columbia history professor Rashid Khalidi said the vote, in a city that has the largest Jewish population in the world, was a remarkable sign of change.'

    Suspension of Corbyn will define Starmer as Iraq defined Blair. The Labour Party's response to Palestinians: letter from 15 members of the Knesset who comprise the Joint List - no reply. A group of leading British Palestinians asked to meet leader of Labour Party - declined.

    Gideon Levy: Neither Biden nor Trump will make Israel end the occupation.

    Berlin art college withdraws funding to Israelis seeking to unlearn Zionism. A Berlin art school abruptly withdrew funding for a program started by Jewish Israelis who seek to challenge the Zionist narrative they grew up on: Article here.

    Ilan Pappé: From Balfour to the Nakba: The settler-colonial experience of Palestine.

    Palestinian thobe: A phenomenon of identity and culture The Palestinian dress is a symbol of the Palestinian cultural identity and a witness on Palestinian history: Article here.

    Senior Labour frontbencher given 'dressing down' over criticism of Israel.

    Genocide supporter may get top job at Israel Holocaust memorial.

    Gaza: From unemployed to entrepreneur: a woman breaks barriers with ice cream.

    Palestinian Family Survives Shooting Attack By Israeli Colonist.

    Destroying Palestinian Jerusalem, One Institution at a Time.

    Lobby trying to reshape California education to shield Israel.

    Ramzy Baroud: Escalating the demographic war: The strategic goal of Israeli racism in Palestine.


    Hastings and Rye PSC online membership and donations

    Becoming a member of Hastings and Rye PSC is an important way of supporting our work.The annual subscription is £10 waged, £5 unwaged. We now have an online membership payment form. It can also be used to renew membership. The work of Hastings & Rye Palestine Solidarity could not continue without the generous donations from members of the public. If you would like to support our work without becoming a member please visit our shop page here and see the right hand column: Donate to Hastings & Rye PSC.

    Recent Hastings and Rye PSC newsletters:

    4 November 2020
    29 October 2020
    25 September 2020

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