Greece’s ruling left-wing Syriza Party has called on the government to recognize the state of Palestine. Back in December, the parliament approved a non-binding resolution, urging the government to formally recognize the Palestinian statehood. If implemented, Greece would become the first European country to follow Sweden’s lead which officially recognized Palestine in 2014.
Talking to Press TV, Joe Catron, an activist with International Solidarity Movement, has described the announcement as “a tremendous victory” for Palestinians and solidarity activists who have made Palestine a popular issue in Greece.
But at the same time, he drew attention to the fact that this is only “a symbolic move” which comes on the heels of other steps taken by Syriza to boost its ties with Israel.
“Since Syriza took power, we have seen it sign [an] agreement with Israel which is comparable only to Israel’s existing agreement with the United States,” he said. “We have seen it move to increase its energy cooperation with Israel and [have] even seen Syriza prime minister refer in writing, during a visit to the occupied Palestinian Jerusalem al-Quds, to it [the city] as Israel’s historic capital.”
He further noted that Syriza is playing a double game over Palestine by trying to cement its ties with Tel Aviv on the one hand; while taking limited pro-Palestine steps on the other.
“I do not think that Israel is happy to see any steps taken internationally in solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinians, including this one. [But] I think they probably prefer it to any alternative that might include its isolation, for example Greece ending its energy ties. That is something that, I think, they would take more seriously,” Catron added.
According to the activist, it is up to Palestinians to decide whether such symbolic steps are worth celebrating or they are simply distractions from more concrete measures that might produce results.
Palestine Advocacy Project, an NGO based in the Boston area, has launched a series of ads portraying prominent Israeli officials, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and their disregard for the safety and well-being of Palestinians. These ads feature violent and bigoted direct quotations which highlight the contempt Israel’s US-backed leaders display for basic Palestinian human rights.
“If you do your own research, you’ll quickly find many more hateful quotes,” said Palestine Advocacy Project member Maggie Liu. “As a college student living on a politically-active campus, I know firsthand how little young people know about the reality of the situation. I hope these ads will bring some much-needed dialogue to campuses across the country.”
According to the PNN, nine universities across the United States, including Harvard, Boston University, Cornell, and University of California-Berkeley are publishing these ads in their newspapers. The ads quote a number of Israeli officials, such as Israeli deputy defense minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, who asserted that Palestinians “are beasts, they are not human.” The ads all include a link to a webpage, with additional quotes from Israeli leaders.
“It is beyond disturbing that someone in a position of power can say these things and not even flinch,” noted Farida El Hefni, a University of Rochester student. “How are these politicians that are so quick to accuse people of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic the same ones using racist language to describe an entire group of people?”
Palestine Advocacy Project created these ads in order to spark conversation among young Americans on university campuses across the United States. The ads present a side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is seldom featured in the American mainstream media. The indisputable, direct quotes from prominent Israeli officials are provocative, and in many cases, explicitly racist.
Palestine Advocacy Project has spent the past two years exposing the hypocrisy surrounding the U.S.’s relationship with Israel, and challenging negative stereotypes of Palestinians. The “One Word” campaign, which was released in 2014, showcased the many forms of violence Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis. More recently, PalAd brought the works of Palestinian Poet Laureate Mahmoud Darwish to public spaces. This latest campaign, which focuses on the violent rhetoric of the upper echelons of Israeli political leadership, will give the American public new information on why the oppression of Palestinians continues.
“The sooner people realize that this isn’t just about conflict over land and that there are people literally calling for the erasure of Palestinians,” continues El Hefni, “the sooner we can get somewhere.”
Japanese survivors of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki visited the British parliament on Tuesday to call for an end to be put to nuclear weapons just two months after MPs voted to renew the Trident constant at-sea deterrent.
MPs, non-governmental staff, and students gathered to hear the personal accounts of five “hibakusha” – as survivors of the nuclear blasts are known in Japan.
Lord John Dunn Laird, who organized the event, described it as a “humbling experience.”
One speaker, Takaaki Morikawa, was 6 years old when the US military dropped the world’s first atom bomb on Hiroshima.
He was 10 kilometers away from ground zero and was exposed to radiation through dust, soot, and the nuclear fallout that fell as black rain.
Morikawa spoke of how the bombing affected him and his family’s life and called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, saying “even one nuclear weapon is too many.”
Between 129,000 and 246,000 people were killed in the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
A-bomb survivors continue to suffer higher rates of cancer, especially leukemia, than the general population.
The talk was part of a global tour organized by the Japanese civic group Peace Boat, which traveled to Britain by sea from Japan, stopping at various destinations along the way.
The group also visited the Hackney Museum, the 19 Princelet Street immigration museum, and schools in London.
Organizer Lord John Dunn Laird said: “This has been a humbling experience.
“The more people who consider these questions, the more likely it is to be a peaceful world.”
British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to renew the country’s nuclear weapons program in July after a heated debate in which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against the project.
Prime Minister Theresa May spoke strongly in support of renewing Trident. Asked by Scottish National Party (SNP) MP George Kerevan whether she would be “personally prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that can kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children,” the Tory leader gave a resounding yes.
The Israeli navy has seized the Zaytouna-Oliva, a Gaza-bound aid ship, and is currently towing it towards the Israeli port city of Ashdod, according to the initiative’s organizers and reports in the Israeli media.
Sondos Ferwana, a media spokeswoman for the International Coalition for the Fourth Freedom Flotilla, told reporters on Wednesday evening that Israeli naval forces had “captured the ship”.
The Israeli military, for its part, confirmed the ship’s seizure in a statement.
“The Israeli Defense Forces managed to quickly seize the ship without causing any injuries among passengers,” the statement read.
According to the military, the crew of the Gaza-bound vessel had initially refused the navy’s orders to change course.
“This forced us to intervene and seize the ship before it violated the legal maritime closure imposed on the Gaza Strip,” the statement read.
According to reports on Israel’s Channel Two television station, the aid ship was intercepted — without resistance — some 80 kilometers off Gaza’s coast.
Ferwana, for her part, described the incident as “another act of Israeli piracy”, adding that all contact with the ship — which is carrying humanitarian aid and several female activists — had been lost.
“We don’t know the fate of the activists aboard,” she said.
Passengers on the Zaytouna-Oliva, which set sail from the Spanish city of Barcelona last month, include Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, Swedish and Algerian lawmakers, a South African Olympic athlete and a Malaysian doctor.
The all-female initiative seeks to break Israel’s decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip and show solidarity with the women of Gaza.
Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, for its part, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, condemned what it described “the Israeli occupation’s assault on the aid ship and its intimidation of the activists on board”.
In a statement, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the incident amounted to “an act of state terrorism” and another example of Israeli “aggression against the Palestinian people and those who show solidarity with the Palestinian cause”.
Barhoum went on to urge the international community to “put an end to Israel’s crimes”, stressing the need for immediate action “to lift the blockade and rescue the people of Gaza”.
In June of last year, Israeli forces intercepted the “Marianne” — which had been taking part in a similar initiative — and arrested all activists on board.
A similar Gaza-bound aid flotilla ended in tragedy in 2010 when the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship, was raided by Israeli commandos who killed 10 Turkish activists.
Since 2007, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has deprived its almost two million inhabitants of most basic commodities, including food, fuel, medicine and desperately-needed building materials.
In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the blockade of Gaza as “collective punishment”, which, he asserted, “suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts”.
The Bank of Ireland has been criticised after shutting the account of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), the latest in a string of similar moves by European banks.
IPSC has formally complained, following the closure of its account which it uses to lodge donations, and intends to take a case to the Financial Services Ombudsman.
Earlier this year, the Bank of Ireland requested information from IPSC about its funding and how funds were spent, in response to which, IPSC submitted its audited accounts.
According to IPSC, the Bank of Ireland has “failed to give a specific explanation of why it was closing the accounts.”
Kevin Squires, IPSC coordinator told TheJournal.ie : “Bank of Ireland’s silence speaks volumes. Honestly it’s hard to not view this as part of a wider campaign which has seen banks close accounts in the UK, Austria and France.”
“In the last year or so we have had €1,200 go to Palestine to pay for Palestinian scarves, which is a tiny amount. That’s trade with Palestine. It’s not like we’re sending money to people there.”
Vice-President of Sinn Fein and a Teachta Dala for Dublin Central, Mary Lou McDonald, said the decision was “outrageous”.
“The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign are an established advocacy group that have spent years protesting against the treatment of the Palestinian people. To close their account citing that they associate with a ‘high risk country’… this is not only outrageous; this is insulting to the Palestinian people.”
“Bank of Ireland cannot stay silent on this matter,” she added.
The following is from a statement by the IPSC:
This denial of banking rights, the ensuing loss of income and the potential reputational damage to the IPSC comes in the context of similar seemingly coordinated attacks on Palestine solidarity organisations across Europe and the United States. Numerous bank accounts belonging to such organisations have been closed in France, Germany, Austria and the UK. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this attack on the IPSC’s ability to bank – which is, in effect, the ability to function at all – is political in nature and forms part of this wider attack on organisations that advocate for peaceful action to secure Palestinian rights enshrined in international law.
Israel has boasted of conducting a global campaign of ‘lawfare’ – using legal and other punitive threats to silence and attack supporters of Palestinian rights. This attack on the IPSC It appears to be part of this campaign, a politically motivated measure to silence a human rights organsiation that campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fulfils its obligations under international law – a campaign the Irish government views as an entirely “legitimate” means of protest “intended to pressure Israel into ending the occupation.”
Russia is prepared to join efforts aimed at resolving Venezuela’s internal political standoff if necessary, Russian Ambassador to Venezuela Vladimir Zaemsky told Sputnik.
“We welcome efforts of various politicians to help reach a mutual understanding between the various political groups in Venezuela and we hope that such steps eventually would lead to a positive result. We are ready to join this if it is deemed necessary,” Zaemsky said.
Venezuela has been embroiled in a political crisis with opposition staging regular protests and launching a campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro, blaming him for an economic crisis in Venezuela, a country suffering from shrinking GDP, shortages of goods and rising inflation. According to the ambassador, the political crisis cannot be settled without preventing the attempts of some of Venezuela’s neighbors, the West, global media and non-governmental organizations to interfere in the internal affairs of the country.
“Russia believes that the political resolution of Venezuela’s problems should be found by the Venezuelan people itself… It must meet constitutional norms and national laws. Destructive meddling from abroad is unacceptable, no one can impose ‘color [revolution] scenarios’ based on notorious radical tactics to destabilize the situation,” Zaemsky said.
Venezuela has been in a state of an economic emergency since January. Up to 96 percent of Venezuela’s budget depends on oil revenues amid the ongoing slump in oil prices. Venezuela’s opposition hopes to hold a recall referendum to remove Maduro from power.
In August, Maduro pledged to act much tougher than his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in case of the coup attempt in the country.
© nationaltheatret beklager / YouTube
Tel Aviv has urged the National Theatre of Norway to deny links to and remove a video in which a fake theater official called for a boycott of Israel and its HaBima Theater. The Norwegian theater denied its part but stopped short of criticizing the clip.
While the theater apparently had no role in producing the video, the Israeli Foreign Ministry demanded that it should “clearly and immediately repudiate” the clip, as well as take “necessary measures to have the video removed from every site.”
It went on to compare the video to “the works of the Reich Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, or the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl,” adding that it is “actively pursuing the matter with all involved parties.”
In response, the National Theater of Norway wrote in a statement published on its website that it was in no way part of making the video, and does not engage in boycotts.
“The article and video are not made by The National Theater of Norway – and do not represent The National Theater of Norway’s attitude – they are an expression of artistic freedom. The National Theater of Norway still has greater faith in collaboration with artists across national borders and from regimes we are critical to, than boycotts and silence,” it wrote.
Although the six-minute video claims to be from the National Theater of Norway, it was actually created by a group of actors from the art project “Monsters of Reality,” which is part of the 2016 International Ibsen Festival.
In the video, a person claiming to be a spokesperson for the theater lashes out against Israel and its occupation of Palestinian territories. She apologizes on behalf of the playhouse, for collaborating with Israel’s HaBima Theater between 2013 and 2015.
“This is a great day for the National Theater of Norway. It is the day when we publicly apologize for our shameful collaboration with HaBima, the national theater of Israel…” the spokesperson says.
She goes on to state that when the theatre agreed to collaborate with Israel, it did not know “what a powerful role HaBima and other Israeli art institutions play in normalizing the Israeli occupation,” calling Israeli art a “tool” for building an image of “a humanistic nation” instead of an “apartheid state.”
She claims the two theatres were collaborating as Israel “executed its horrific bombing over the Gaza strip,” and that the Norwegian one was unaware of HaBima’s alleged role because it did not do “one single piece of research…we didn’t bother to find out.”
“Five-hundred Palestinian children lost their lives while HaBima was busy entertaining Israeli soldiers,” she says.
In conclusion, the woman posing as spokesperson makes three promises on behalf of the theatre. The first is that it will fully support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, and cancel its membership with the “politically irresponsible” European Theatre Union.
Next, the spokesperson claims the theatre will dedicate all means of production to “work with the situation in the Middle East” from 2017 to 2019. She even promises that the facility’s director will give 50 percent of her salary to Palestinian theatre in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law,” according to the Palestinian BDS National Committee’s website.
From cell-site simulators in New York to facial recognition devices in San Diego, law enforcement surveillance technologies are spreading across the country like an infectious disease. It’s almost epidemiological: one police department will adopt a new, invasive tool, and then the next and the next, often with little or no opportunity for the citizens to weigh in on what’s needed or appropriate for their communities. Sometimes even elected officials and judges have no idea how technologies are being used by the police under their supervision.
2016 is the year we start to turn it around. In California, we helped pass legislation to require transparency and public hearings on technologies such as cell-site simulators and automated license plate readers before they can be adopted by cities and counties. Specifically, earlier this year, the County of Santa Clara passed a groundbreaking ordinance limiting how and when law enforcement can adopt new surveillance technologies.
Today, EFF joins the ACLU and a diverse coalition of civil liberties organizations in launching the new campaign for Community Control Over Police Surveillance. This nationwide effort will pass ordinances on the local level that ensure that all affected communities will have a voice in deciding whether police may acquire a new surveillance tool. Without this reform, such decisions too often are made only by local law enforcement officials seeking to acquire the latest, shiny tools; by the federal government seeking to spread “anti-terrorism” funds and its own military-grade tech; and by the vendors aggressively marketing these devices to police departments.
The #TakeCTRL movement seeks to pass ordinances similar to that adopted by Santa Clara in 11 key and politically diverse municipalities across the country: New York City; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; Miami Beach and Pensacola, Florida; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Muskegon, Michigan; Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; and Palo Alto, California.
While each ordinance will be tailored to the needs of each municipality, all will be grounded in these eight critical principles:
1) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without prior express city council approval.
2) Local communities should play a significant and meaningful role in determining if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, or used.
3) The process for considering the use of surveillance technologies should be transparent and well-informed.
4) The use of surveillance technologies should not be approved generally; approvals, if provided, should be for specific technologies and specific, limited uses.
5) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without addressing their potential impact on civil rights and civil liberties.
6) Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without considering their financial impact.
7) To verify legal compliance, surveillance technology use and deployment data should be reported publically on an annual basis.
8) City council approval should be required for all surveillance technologies and uses; there should be no “grandfathering” for technologies currently in use.
This movement is supported by a wide variety of national groups, including EFF, the ACLU, Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, NAACP, National Network of Arab American Communities, Restore the Fourth, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the Tenth Amendment Center.
This effort is crucial for society at large, but it is especially important to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. As the ACLU articulates:
The increasing, secret use of surveillance technologies by local police, especially against communities of color and other unjustly targeted and politically unpopular groups, is creating oppressive, stigmatizing environments in which every community member is treated like a prospective criminal. The overuse of surveillance technologies has turned many non-white and poor neighborhoods into fishbowls, and some into virtual prisons, where their residents’ public behavior is monitored and scrutinized 24 hours a day.
The ACLU has put together the ultimate resource guide for the Community Control Over Police Surveillance at communityctrl.com, where you can learn more about the principles, the technologies, the targeted cities, and how you can get involved. We also encourage you to learn from the work EFF is doing on these issues through our Street-Level Surveillance hub.
This effort may not be the ultimate antidote to the plague of invasive police tech, but we believe that it will help build up the antibodies to ensure that our communities become resistant to unchecked surveillance.
“Viva Palestina” is an enduring chant along with “Long Live Palestine” and “Long Live Gaza”, all of which are often used by human rights activists and others who want to show their support and goodwill for the long life and well-being of the state and its people. However, using such slogans and messages of solidarity could soon become a hate crime in Scotland, a nation which has often been praised for its refusal to give unconditional support to Israel and its brutal military occupation of Palestine.
To the astonishment of legal observers and human rights activists, a landmark trial is set to go ahead in Aberdeen after Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) member Alister Coutts, 56, was charged with “acting in a racially aggravated manner with intent to cause distress and alarm”. His “crime” was to utter “Viva Palestina” next to the Jericho Cosmetics stall in the city’s Union Square shopping mall.
His arrest, charge and impending court appearance has now fuelled speculation that pro-Israel Zionist groups in Scotland are exerting undue pressure on the authorities to “get tough” with SPSC and other Palestinian-supporting groups. Following an initial crime investigation the police will send a report to the local Procurator Fiscal, who will consider the content and decide whether to take any further action.
While such decisions are said to be taken in the public interest, the disclosure of a host of secret email exchanges between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service on one hand, and Zionist organisations on the other, has alarmed SPSC, which says that they reveal the existence of a “cosy relationship” between the public prosecutor and the pro-Israel lobby in Scotland. The emails came to light after a Freedom of Information request was made to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Edinburgh. SPSC officials are now scrutinising the content of the dossier before making public its findings.
“It is extremely sinister for anyone to be charged with expressing the idea of saying ‘long live’ to a community,” commented SPSC co-founder Mick Napier. “The charge therefore seems to have a patina of wishing harm to the Palestinian people. If so, this is certainly breaking new ground in the Scottish legal system; that by saying ‘Viva Palestina’ you are considered to be attacking someone.”
After Coutts had said “Viva Palestina” a policeman arrived and ordered him to leave the shopping mall, a request which, his defence team will argue, was in itself illegal. As soon as he stepped outside, he was handcuffed, held for seven hours and charged.
“He is now deemed to be a racist for saying Viva Palestina in the vicinity of a cosmetics stall,” Napier pointed out. “In the meantime, we are examining what some might regard as the overly-chummy emails.”
The trial, expected to commence next month, comes amidst the backdrop of a nationwide campaign by SPSC against the Israeli-linked cosmetics firm Jericho SkinCare. The group accuses the firm of using minerals extracted from the Dead Sea on the coast of the illegally-occupied West Bank, which is Palestinian territory. SPSC notes that the extraction and commercialisation of resources from an occupied territory breaches UN conventions and it has launched a boycott campaign against a number of cosmetic firms linked to the practice and is lobbying for them to be removed from Scottish shopping centres.
According to Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Dead Sea products are linked closely to the commercial viability of Israel’s illegal settlements and are targeted as part of the global boycott movement. The organisation has produced a fact sheet outlining the legal position. Jericho SkinCare’s website states that the company’s products are “based on Dead Sea minerals”.
A Crown Office spokesman said that he was unable to comment on ongoing criminal cases [sic] but added: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service corresponds with many community and faith groups, particularly in relation to the impact of hate crime in their communities. All prosecution decisions are taken following an independent and thorough assessment of the available evidence.”
Let’s see what this translates to in practice.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “the new face of terrorism” in New York on Sunday.
Speaking at the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in New York, Shaked said, “The BDS is illegitimate. I define it thus: BDS is another branch of terrorism in the modern age.”
The BDS movement is a global campaign to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land through the boycott of Israeli goods and services, the divestment of funds and, in theory, sanctions.
Shaked claimed that the aim of the BDS movement was to “to wipe Israel off the map.”
As the decade-long movement gains momentum, Israel has pushed back against it with increasing determination.
“Sometimes the BDS movement’s funding sources are identical to those funding the terrorist organisations,” Shaked told the New York crowd. “This is the new face of terrorism.”
Shaked, a conservative member of Israel’s government who does not believe in a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, has made controversial statements in the past.
In, 2014 she was accused of inciting genocide with a Facebook post which quoted a Jewish settler, “They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
Shaked reminded the crowd about 9/11, and said that the terrorism which has taken place in Jerusalem, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, London, Brussels, Istanbul “is the same terrorism.”
The minister went on to tell the crowd that Israel and the rest of the world are all “fighting against extreme Islamic terrorism.”
The justice minister expressed concern that young Jewish people are “confused and are led astray” by BDS, claiming that they are being tricked by “terrorists from radical Islam.”
She congratulated states in the US that have adopted legislation against BDS and expressed hope that others would follow suit and make BDS illegal.
The controversy surrounding the protests during the American national anthem shows no signs of letting up, after another weekend of sports stars making a stand against perceived racial inequality in the US.
Three Miami Dolphins players – Arian Foster, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas – knelt during the anthem ahead of Sunday’s game at the New England Patriots, just days after a local police union hit out at the protest.
Jeff Bell, the president of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, said officers should no longer escort the Dolphins to games if the protests continued.
He also said that NFL players should “give up” their right to free speech while representing their teams.
“I can only imagine the public outcry if a group of police officers refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or if we turned our back for the American flag for the national anthem,” said Bell.
“There would be a public outcry and internal affairs complaints a mile long on that.
“I respect their right to have freedom of speech. However, in certain organizations and certain jobs you give up that right of your freedom of speech (temporarily) while you serve that job or while you play in an NFL game.”
Foster dismissed Bell’s criticism, saying that while he understood people would question the protests, it was important he should be allowed to take a stand.
“They say it’s not the time to do this,” Foster said. “When is the time? It’s never the time in somebody else’s eye, because they’ll always feel like it’s good enough.
“And some people don’t. That’s the beautiful thing about this country. If somebody feels it’s not good enough, they have that right. That’s all we’re doing, exercising that right.”
Initially started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the protests have been gathering support in recent weeks, with numerous NFL players choosing to sit or kneel during the anthem.
US women’s national team soccer player Megan Rapinoe has also thrown her weight behind the campaign, kneeling during the anthem for the second time in four days ahead of Sunday’s game against the Netherlands.
A US Soccer spokesperson confirmed before the match that Rapinoe wouldn’t be punished for kneeling before Thursday’s game against Thailand, but admitted the situation could be re-assessed if the midfielder continued her protests.
Rapinoe received a mixed response on Sunday, with one fan instructing her to “stand up” as she dropped to one knee.
“Obviously there were boos tonight, boos and cheers tonight. I totally respect that,” Rapinoe said.
“People feel a certain way, and I want to be respected for the way that I feel. I think that’s their right to do that. I totally understand that. That said, there’s some people that support me.”
Elsewhere, the Garfield High School football team in Seattle, Washington, showed their solidarity with the protest, with the players and staff all kneeling for the anthem before Friday’s game against West Seattle High School.
Garfield head coach Joey Thomas told KING 5 that the players had decided to kneel and will carry on doing so for the rest of the season.
“This came from them – this came from the kids,” said Thomas.
“Now don’t get me wrong, I support it 110 percent and that’s where my mind and heart was, but this is what they wanted. And I think that’s what makes this so special. This is student driven.”
Having initiated the protests, Kaepernick remains the central figure amongst the people who are aiming to raise awareness of inequality in the US.
He once again knelt during the anthem before the 49ers’ game at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, but his protest received support from a very unlikely source.
Jesse McGuire, who played “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his trumpet prior to the game, admitted he fully backed Kaepernick’s actions.
“I absolutely and totally respect his right to protest,” McGuire said.
“That’s a constitutional right, and anybody trying to take that away from him is trying to violate his constitutional rights.
“In terms of this stance for the violence, that’s happening all over the world – and to black males especially.
“I understand and I applaud his stance. Whether I disagree or not is of no consequence whatsoever.
“To protest means that you are going to make waves – so if that is the case, and if that’s the definition of a protest, then the desired result of his mission is accomplished.”
Two boats with all-women crews set sail Wednesday for the Gaza Strip from Barcelona, Spain. They are planning to travel across the Mediterranean and break the Israeli blockade on Gaza by delivering much-needed medical supplies to the people of Gaza.
The participants in the siege-breaking boat hail from fifteen different countries and include members of Parliament and other dignitaries.
From Barcelona, the boats will travel to France, and one other port before heading to Gaza. This is just the latest of a series of boats that have tried to break the blockade on Gaza since Israel imposed the air, sea and land blockade in 2006.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, arrived at the port on Wednesday along with hundreds of supporters, to offer her support for the mission of the Women’s Boat to Gaza trip.
The two boats have been named the “Amal”, which means ‘hope’ in Arabic, and “Zaytouna”, which means ‘olive’ in Arabic.
The list of passengers includes Tunisian MP Latifa Habashi; Malin Björk, a Member of European Parliament from Sweden; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the invasion of Iraq; and Dr. Fauziah Modh Hasan, a Malaysian physician who has participated in many humanitarian missions with the Malaysian Medical Relief Society.
The Chairman of the Popular Committee to Support Gaza, Essam Youssef, said in a statement that the Women’s Boat to Gaza is “a humanitarian cry in the face of an illegitimate siege imposed on an innocent people that has been calling for years on the international community for help.”
He added, “Palestine will remain the axis of struggle not just in the Middle East but also in the world. Achieving justice for Palestine is the key to stability in the region and the world.”
Wednesday’s launch of the Women’s Boat to Gaza came just as the U.S. Congress authorized an unprecedented $38.5 billion aid package to Israel, despite acknowledging in the same session that Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank has violated all signed agreements and international law.