Wellington Palestine wish all of our supporters a peaceful holiday and a happy New Year. We thank all of you for contributing your time, energy, imagination and hard-earned cash to support our work promoting justice, peace and freedom for the Palestinian people.
Over a hundred of you joined our Ahed Tamimi rally in Cuba Street in February of this year. We called the rally to protest the arrest and detention of Ahed and all child political prisoners. The Israeli state detains between 500 and 700 Palestinian children each year. Around two thirds of children detained by the Israeli military testified to being violently abused during their arrest and detention, and some were threatened with sexual assault. The rally was addressed by Nadia Abu-Shanab (Wellington Palestine), Kassie Hartendorp (Community Activist), Sam Huggard (Secretary, Council of Trade Unions), Shannon Pakura (President, Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers) and a representative of Peace Action Wellington. Speakers called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ahed Tamimi (and other human rights defenders), an end to the occupation of Palestine and for boycott, divestment and sanctions actions against the Israeli apartheid state.
In April, over fifty of you attended our contribution to Israeli Apartheid Week in the form of a screening of the movie The Living of the Pigeons at Victoria University of Wellington. This award-winning, documentary short, by the Palestinian film director Ba’ha Abu-Shanab, offered a compelling insight into the lived experience of Palestinian workers transiting through Checkpoint 300 separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem in the West Bank. Our audience were also treated to a Q&A with Ba’ha (the film’s director) who joined us from Bethlehem by Skype.
In May, Wellington Palestine, in partnership with the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network and VicBooks, hosted a visit to Wellington by Dr. Ramzy Baroud: Palestinian journalist, media consultant, author and editor of the Palestine Chronicle. Ramzy’s visit was part of a world tour to promote the publication of his latest book, The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, and to discuss contemporary issues for the Palestine solidarity movement. Thanks to all of you who turned up to hear Ramzy’s afternoon talk in VicBooks, and to over 150 Wellingtonians who attended his spellbinding evening talk in St Andrews on the Terrace.
In August, over 50 of you joined us to welcome home Mike Treen (National Director of Unite Union) back from his participation in the Freedom Flotilla challenging the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. As Mike and 22 fellow activists on board the Al Awda (The Return) approached the shores of Gaza, they were boarded illegally by Israeli naval forces. Along with other activists, Mike was beaten, tasered, robbed, detained and, later, deported. He returned to Aotearoa undaunted, and with ‘…a few stories to tell!’. Mike’s talk was peppered with references to the history of the struggle for Palestinian human rights and made constant parallels with the previous historic struggle against apartheid South Africa. Another excellent event.
We closed the year with two complementary events in December. Firstly, a wonderful Family Fun Day in Waitangi Park where over one hundred Wellingtonians joined our celebration of Palestinian culture: enjoying tasty Palestinian food, toe-tapping music and spontaneous dancing. The young Palestinian men in the park, dancing the dabke during most of the picnic, brought with them a contagious energy that had many people standing up to join. The simple act of dancing and rejoicing in a shared food and culture is in itself a part of the Palestinian struggle, to re-assert what is rightfully ours: our food, our dance, our music, and our strength as one people, from all walks of life, simply celebrating Palestinian culture.
In December, we were also invited by the Wellington Workers Educational Association to give a talk on the Israeli Apartheid State. The event was attended by over thirty people and, despite an attempted intervention by some local Zionists, provoked a lively debate on the potential for BDS campaigning activity in the Wellington region.
Next year we are planning a rich programme of cultural events and an orchestrated campaign of BDS activity. Also, in response to requests from many people who want to become more active in the Palestinian struggle, we will be re-launching Wellington Palestine as a membership organisation with lots of opportunities to get actively involved in our work.
Finally, we acknowledge and thank all of our tireless activists: the people who write for our blog (and helped us achieve over 1,000 unique visitors this year alone); the people who turn up for meetings (in all weathers): the takers of notes, the makers of tea, the bakers of cake, the talkers, the people of ideas, the planners, the organisers and the designers of posters.
Shukraan jazilaan|Thank you very much!
Have a relaxing holiday, see you all in the New Year, and if you feel like giving us a gift 😉
We Palestinians suffer from an incurable disease called “hope.” Hope for liberation and independence. Hope for a normal life where we shall be neither heroes nor victims. Hope to see our children go to school without danger. Hope for a pregnant woman to give birth to a living baby, in a hospital, and not to a dead child in front of a military control post. Hope that our poets will see the beauty of the colour red in roses, rather than in blood. Hope that this land will recover its original name: “land of hope and peace.” Thank you for carrying with us this banner of hope.
Feature image credit: askii