Antonine Friendship Link

I went to Falkirk last night (yes, it’s an exciting life in SJJP) to speak at a meeting of the Antonine Friendship Link. To quote from their website:

Falkirk was chosen as our venue because of the proximity of the remains of the Antonine Wall, a Roman wall which once crossed Scotland – a wall whose remains demonstrates the futility of military occupation and wall building.

The AFL have established links with Jayyous, and by lucky chance last night’s meeting was in fact attended by a family from Jayyous. They had asked me to speak about SJJP and my personal perspective rather than about the situation in Israel/Palestine (just as well; I’m sure many people in the room were more knowledgeable than me). I described how solidarity with Palestinians has gradually gained momentum amongst Jewish people during the last decade or so. There was a lot of interest and sympathy in the room (and I was quite successful in turning away attempts to fit me into some kind of heroic resister’s mould, pretty ridiculous to anyone who knows me). I’m starting to get an impression of many small grass-roots groups, scattered across Scotland, working inconspicuously to build links and support Palestinian communities. Someone suggested to me recently that the historic ties of the Scottish churches with “The Holy Land” lies behind a lot of this—certainly, one always sees church people (usually Church of Scotland) at these events.

Mohammad Othman released

Mohammad Othman and Jamal Juma’, the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, have been released from prison, after spending respectively four and one month in administrative detention. No charges were made against either man. Amnesty International recognised them as prisoners of conscience, detained for their political opposition to the Wall.

Update: Showing how effective individual campaigns can be, the American campaign group Jewish Voice for Peace say:

Thanks to you, we generated over 10,000 emails to US President Obama, and over 2,200 emails to the US Consulate in East Jerusalem complaining about the arbitrary detention of Mohammad Othman. You helped up flood the US State Department with phone calls as well.

They quote Stop The Wall at length (as I should have done) about Jamal’s release, which obviously rings true for Mohammad Othman too:

Jamal Juma’, the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign has been released yesterday evening after a month long detention in Israeli jails. He had been called for interrogation and then arrested on December 16. Yesterday, the military court decided for Jamal’s release.

Like for the other Palestinian human rights defenders in Israeli jails, there was never a case in the courtroom. Not a single charge has been put forth. The reason for his arrest was purely political – an attempt to crush Stop the Wall and the popular committees against the Wall. Therefore, the reasons for his release are also outside the courtroom: The impressive support of international civil society has moved governments and used the media to an extent that made his imprisonment too uncomfortable.

This international solidarity has given our popular struggle against the Wall further strength. We are deeply thankful for all the efforts.

Yet, the latest arrests and continuous repression show that we have not yet defeated the Israeli policy as such, as Israel remains determined to silence Palestinian human rights defenders by all means.

We therefore need to ensure that the campaign for the freedom of all anti-wall activists and Palestinian political prisoners continues to grow. We have to combine our energies to ensure that the root cause – the Wall – will be torn down and the occupation will be brought to an end.