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Censorship and free speech in focus at local PSC meeting

Issues of censorship and free speech in public discussions of what is happening to Palestine will be in the spotlight at Hastings & Rye Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s (HRPSC) upcoming online meeting, with two frontline journalists adding their experience to the debate. Nick Terdre reports.

Entitled Why Can’t We Talk About Palestine?, HRPSC’s Zoom meeting on 24 February will hear from award-winning, Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook and investigative reporter Asa Winstanley of The Electronic Intifada on issues of  propaganda, censorship and the activities of the Israel lobby.

In January the group hosted a discussion with renowned Israeli historian Ilan Pappé and Palestinian academic and author Ghada Karmi on Expulsion without Return?: The Palestinian Experience. (The talk is available to view on YouTube.)

“We had an extraordinary response to our meeting with Ghada and Ilan,” said HRPSC chair Katy Colley. “People really enjoyed the combination of historical fact with lived experience, and Ghada spoke very movingly about her personal journey from Jerusalem to Golders Green in North London.

Jonathan Cook.

“We are seeing a huge amount of support and sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians at the moment, not only for those still living as refugees but also those whose rights are denied living under an oppressive, military regime.

“Indeed, the recent report by Israeli human rights charity B’Tselem, naming Israel as an apartheid state, along with exclusion of Palestinians in Israel’s Covid vaccination programme, certainly seems to have had an effect on public consciousness.

“And yet there has never been a more dangerous and difficult time to be a supporter of Palestinian human rights. Here in the UK solidarity groups, including our own, have come under fierce attack from pro-Israel lobbyists and our meetings have been threatened, just for the crime of trying to tell the truth about Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people.

“This leads us to ask ourselves: how do we continue to give support to a displaced and oppressed people when voicing criticism of Israel is criminalised? We are honoured to host Jonathan and Asa to help us understand and address these pressing issues of our time.”

Asa Winstanley.

In the UK, Asa Winstanley’s reports about the Labour party have shown how pro-Israeli groups led a sustained assault on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and supporters, and more recently he revealed that the party under Keir Starmer hired a former Israeli spy, the HRPSC said.

Jonathan Cook’s books, reports and articles have continually challenged Israeli propaganda, exposing the long cover-up of ethnic cleansingerasure of Palestinian history and the cyberwar unleashed on pro-Palestinian voices on social media, as well as the work of the Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs to delegitimise support for Palestinians worldwide, it said.

His reports won him the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism in 2011, with the judge’s citation describing him as “one of the reliable truth-tellers of the Middle East.”

Cook has also commented on Hastings Observer’s decision to pull the item about HRPSC’s upcoming meeting from its online version following, he says, “complaints.” News of the meeting is also absent from Friday’s print version.

 

Why Can’t We Talk About Palestine? Zoom meeting of the Hastings & Rye Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 7pm, Wednesday 24 February. For more information and to register.

 

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Posted 16:41 Saturday, Feb 20, 2021 In: Campaigns

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