“I am a patron of PSC for more than one reason. Firstly, as a Palestinian I am committed to supporting all efforts to help and promote the Palestinian cause, whether by individuals or groups. Secondly, I appreciate the work of all those who strive to put this cause before the public eye. And thirdly, PSC has carried out these responsibilities more than adequately, and for that I owe them my help and gratitude. I urge everyone else who cares about the Palestinians to support PSC too.”
Dr Ghada Karmi
Former Labour MP for Woolwich (1992 to 1997) and Erith and Thamesmead (1997 to 2010) John served as a member of the Commons Health Select Committee, and the (Commons/Lords) Joint Committee on Human Rights. His special interests are equal opportunities, human rights and foreign affairs. A former Joint Chair of CAABU, he has made several visits to Palestine, and frequently criticises Israel’s policy of colonisation and its violations of the Geneva Convention and UN resolutions as obstacles to the peace process.
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC
A specialist in civil liberties and human rights law
, founder of the human rights law firm Bindmans LLP, Chair of the British Institute of Human Rights since 2005, Geoffrey Bindman was awarded The Law Society Gazette
Centenary Award (2003) and a knighthood (2007) for his work in this field. He has carried out missions for the International Commission of Jurists, the International Bar Association, and other international NGOs. He is a founder member of Independent Jewish Voices
and a patron of JNews
(Alternative Jewish Perspectives on Israel and Palestine), and has publicly brought his legal expertise to bear on issues such as Israel’s violations of the Geneva conventions in its Occupation of the OPT and the abuse of Palestinian child detainees.
Former Associate Foreign Editor of the Guardian and Research Associate for the LSE’s ‘Crisis States Program’, she is a tireless campaigner for human rights throughout the developing world. She has written that ‘there is no excuse for not knowing the truth about what is happening to the Palestinians’, and herself speaks and writes regularly to publicise the true situation in Palestine and press for academic, cultural and trade boycotts of Israel. She was a founder member in 2008 of the Palestine Festival of Literature, and she appears frequently at other cultural events in aid of Palestine. She was co-author with Moazzam Begg of Enemy Combatant, One Man’s Journey to Guantánamo and Back
, and compiled the play Guantánamo
with Gillian Slovo.
Oscar award-winning actor for her role in Darling
(1965), awarded Best Actress in Away from Her
(2007), known also for classics such as Dr Zhivago
and Don’t Look Now
and more recently Harry Potter, Troy
and The Company You Keep
. She has long been an active supporter of the Palestinian cause.
A major playwright, she has won many awards, including the Obie Sustained Achievement Award in 2001. She worked with the radical theatre companies Joint Stock and Monstrous Regiment during the 70s and 80s, during which she produced some of her best-known plays (Cloud Nine, Top Girls and Serious Money). In 2001 a performance of her play Far Away, supported by the Royal Court, raised funds for two Palestinian theatres and in January 2009, during the attack on Gaza, she wrote Seven Jewish Children, a 10-minute play which was performed immediately for free by the Royal Court, with a collection for Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Jeremy Corbyn is Labour MP for Islington North and former leader of the Labour Party. Jeremy campaigns for human rights and justice and is tireless in his support for Palestine, visiting Palestine with Parliamentary delegations, arranging meetings with MPs, and urging the government to take action to redress the injustices done to the Palestinians. He was a signatory to the 2002 Cairo Declaration (against the Iraq War, and for solidarity with Palestine) and regularly speaks at rallies.
Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi since 1990, has been involved in peace and justice work for more than 30 years. A tireless advocate and communicator, she has given presentations and workshops in numerous contexts and countries (eg Russia, East Timor, Palestine) in the cause of non-violent conflict resolution. In 2005 she was among 10 British women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She has made frequent visits to Palestine, working with the young, acting with Ecumenical Accompaniers, planting olive trees and liaising with other groups who oppose the occupation. Pax Christi members support the Peace and Justice in Jerusalem Campaign and took part in the November 2012 Lobby of Parliament.
Rev Garth Hewitt
Singer/songwriter, Anglican priest, founder of the Amos Trust, an organisation committed to issues of justice, peace, development and human rights. He campaigns for these values with his songs. Garth is Associate Priest at St Clement’s Eastcheap and also an Honorary Canon at St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem.
Ghada is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University and a board member of CAABU, she has held posts at SOAS, Durham and Leeds universities. As Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs she led a major study on Palestinian/Israeli reconciliation and she has written extensively on the conflict. In 2007 she wrote Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine.
A household name since his ground-breaking naturalistic television dramas of the 60s (Z Cars, Up The Junction, Cathy Come Home)
and acclaimed feature films championing the underdog such asPoor Cow
, Ken Loach won full international recognition withLand and Freedom
(1996) and The Wind that Shakes the Barley
(2006), which was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes. An energetic supporter of the Boycott movement, he has intervened in international film festivals receiving Israeli state sponsorship, withdrawing his own films if Israeli funding was not returned. He is a patron of charities for the homeless, has honorary doctorates from Birmingham and Oxford Universities, and refused an OBE in 1977. He also gave surety for Julian Assange when the founder of Wikileaks was arrested in 2010.
Lowkey (Kareem Dennis), rapper, poet, playwright and activist, has produced a number of successful singles and albums since 2003. His play Max and Beth
, a modern take in rhyme on Macbeth,
based on violent street culture and performed by teenage amateurs, was performed at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival. He toured Palestine in 2009 after Operation Cast Lead to raise funds for rebuilding in Gaza, and was detained by the Israeli police, but returned later with MI of Dead Prez
to bring humanitarian and medical aid to the Palestinians. The resulting Long Live Palestine, Part 2
reached no 1 in the Amazon hip-hop download record chart, all profits from which go to Interpal and Islamic Relief. This single was recommended by Tony Benn as a ‘song (which) speaks to people about the struggle of the Palestinians and their fight for freedom’. Benjamin Zephaniah has called him a ‘poet of great genius’.
Professor Nur Masalha
Actor and director Kika Markham has had a long career in television, film and theatre, with roles, amongst others, in TV’s Minder, Van der Valk, The Line of Beauty
(in the role of Mrs Thatcher), Spooks, Midsomer Murders,
Truffaut’s Anne et Muriel
, Dennis Potter’s Double Dare,
Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues
and Coward’s Song at Twilight,
in which she starred
with her late husband Corin Redgrave and
for which she received an Oscar nomination. Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul
, originally written for her, was performed in 2002, and she appeared in Rowan Joffe’s TV film The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall
in 2008. More recently she played Amira, an independent journalist reporting from occupied Palestine in On the Record
, a play ‘exploring human rights by performance’. She and her husband Corin were supporters of Viva Palestina,
the humanitarian convoy to Gaza in 2010, and she is a sponsor of ‘Speak out against Racism’.
Professor Nur Masalha is a Palestinian academic and writer. He is Professor of Religion and Politics and Director of the Centre for Religion and History and the Holy Land Research Project at St. Mary’s University College, University of Surrey, England. He is currently also Professorial Research Associate, Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). Professor Masalha is also the editor of Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal, and the author of many books on Palestine-Israel, including “The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory” (January 2012); “The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Palestine-Israel” (2007), “A Land Without a People” (1997); “Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer” in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948″ (1992); “Imperial Israel and the Palestinians: The Politics of Expansion” (2000) and “The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem” (2003). Professor Masalha has also served as an honorary fellow in the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Durham University; Research Associate in the Department of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies; and has taught at Birzeit University, Palestine. Professor Masalha is also the historian commentator in the award-winning documentary film “La Terre Parle Arabe” (the Land Speaks Arabic) (2007), directed by Maryse Gargour, which tells the story of the background and build-up to the expulsion and flight of the Palestinian Arabs in 1948 from the newly-created State of Israel.
Dr Ilan Pappe
Fellow in Politics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and university lecturer at Oxford University’s Department of Politics and International Relations. From 1977–90 she was a PLO representative at the United Nations, working in Beirut, Tunis, and the United Kingdom and, from 1991-1993, an advisory member of the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks in Washington. In her writings on Palestine she emphasises the centrality of the Palestinian refugee issue.
Hilary & Steven Rose
Born in Haifa, he was Senior Lecturer at Haifa University and held the chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Israel before becoming Professor of History and member of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University in 2008. He is well known for his resolutely anti-Zionist stance and his analysis of Israeli policies as essentially colonialist and racist. His most recent book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine documents the planning and execution of the process from its pre-1948 beginnings to the present day.
Dr Salman Abu-Sitta
Hilary Rose is Professor Emerita at the University of Bradford and Gresham College and currently Visiting Research Professor at the LSE. She has published widely in her specialist fields of the sociology of social policy and the feminist sociology of science, for which she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university of Upsalla. She is currently researching the relation between social policy and biotechnological innovation. Her books include Love, Power and Knowledge: Towards a Feminist Transformation of the Sciences
and she is co-author of many others, some with her husband, Steven Rose.
Steven Rose is Professor Emeritus at the Open University and Gresham College, and Visiting Professor at University College London, has had a distinguished research career in neuroscience, for which he has received many awards. His current research relates to a potential therapy for Alzheimers. Author of a number of successful books popularising science such as The Conscious Brain and The Making of Memory, and known to many for his probing questions on BBC 4’s ‘The Moral Maze’ and newspaper articles, he was awarded the Biochemical Society’s special medal for Science Communication.
Hilary and Steven Rose have produced together a number of important books linking their specialist fields, including Science and Society and Alas Poor Darwin: Arguments against Evolutionary Psychology. Their concern with the ethical, legal and social implications of scientific developments led to their founding of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science in 1969. In 2002 they initiated the call for a Europe-wide moratorium on academic collaboration with Israeli universities in view of their active co-operation in the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories, until a just peace had been negotiated. As convenors of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine in 2004, they have both campaigned vigorously in support of Palestinian universities and in opposition to Israel’s breaches of international conventions, especially with respect to the denial of Palestinian human rights under the occupation.
Dr Abu-Sitta has researched, published and lectured extensively on issues central to the history of Palestine: the Nakba, land ownership, the Right of Return for Refugees, the Occupation and ethnic cleansing. A refugee himself in 1948, his mission has been to amass documentation on the Nakba and to ensure that “the memories and identity of the occupied homeland are never lost”. Amongst his many publications are The Palestinian Nakba, Atlas of Palestine, 1948
and The Return Journey
. He is a former member of the Palestine National Council, founder and President of the Palestine Land Society and co-ordinator of the Palestine Right of Return Coalition.
Actor, writer and comedian, Alexei Sayle was known initially for his creative role in the alternative comedy of the 1980s, such as The Comedy Store, The Young Ones, the Comic Strip
and The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball.
He was awarded an Emmy for his TV series Alexei Sayle’s Stuff
His stand-up style is surreal, abrasive and politically aware, in keeping with his Marxist background. His many other activities include straight acting for theatre and film, writing novels and short stories and press columns, graphic novels and children’s books. He was one of the first signatories of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and speaks frequently at rallies and meetings urging justice for the Palestinians.
Deputy General Secretary of UK’s public service workers’ union UNISON, Keith Sonnet has been particularly active in pressing for the boycott of Israeli goods by trades unions. A member of the TUC delegation to Israel and Palestine in 2003, he has since taken the issue to the international stage, believing that the union movement has a major role to play in resolving the conflict.
Egyptian-born novelist, journalist and political commentator, writing in both English and Arabic, her literary work has generated international acclaim, her novel The Map of Love
being shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1999. She was one of the organisers of the May 2008 Palestine Festival of Literature and wrote a moving account of the group’s experience for theGuardian.
She has been a patron of PSC for some years and has lectured and written frequently on Palestinian issues. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a patron of Index on Censorship.
Dr Antoine Zahlan
Partner in the long-established family firm of solicitors specialising in personal injury compensation, David Thompson is a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. His dedication and tenacity in obtaining justice for injured people have earned him respect within the profession and the gratitude of his clients and have also advanced the law in their favour. He became a patron of PSC after a visit to the West Bank in 2009 as part of a Trade Union delegation organised by the PSC.
Formerly Professor of Physics at the American University of Beirut, he is an eminent academic and consultant on science and techology policies, specialising in the promotion of appropriate policies in the Arab world. He has published many articles and books, some on Palestinian issues such as education, and the need for ‘A Vision of Independence’ if Palestine is to benefit from scientific and technological advances. A founder and trustee of the Center for Arab Unity Studies.
Betty Hunter - Honorary President
Poet, playwright and novelist, Benjamin Zephaniah was offered, but declined an OBE for his ‘services to literature’ in 2003 and was included in The Times 2008 list of the top 50 British post-war writers, He has produced several collections of poetry, many with a powerful political thrust. His plays for stage, TV and radio have won BBC and Commission for Racial Equality awards. Rasta in Palestine, poems and travelogue, sprang from his experience of staying with both an Israeli and a Palestinian family, in Tel Aviv and Gaza, which opened his eyes to the vast disparity in living conditions, and convinced him of the necessity of Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.
Honorary President, Betty Hunter, worked voluntarily as General Secretary of PSC for 10 years until January 2011, during which time the membership grew from 350 to over 5,000 with more than 40 branches around the country. She was a secondary school teacher and an active trade unionist in London for 30 years and has been politically committed and active against racism and injustice all her life. It was at NUT meetings in 1987/8 that she learned more about the first intifada and the plight of the Palestinians. Her decision to take early retirement coincided with the start of the second intifada and made her available to be a full time voluntary campaigner for Palestine. In 2001 Betty approached Tony Benn to become the first patron of PSC and since then she has won patrons from all walks of life to support the work of PSC. Betty is particularly proud of PSC being the first organisation to classify Israel’s policies as apartheid and to campaign for a Boycott of Israeli Goods in 2001.
We pay tribute to our former Patrons who have died
Tony Benn (3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014)
Rodney Bickerstaffe (6 April 1945 - 3rd October 2017)
Tony Benn sadly died on 14 March 2014. One of the longest serving serving MPs, representing Bristol South East and then Chesterfield for Labour, and former Cabinet Minister, Tony has been described as ‘unofficial conscience to the nation’. He retired from his seat in the Commons in 2001 ‘to devote more time to politics’ which he believed must be based in grass-roots activism.
Bob Crow (13 June 1961 – 11 March 2014)
Rodney Bickerstaffe, lifelong and eminent trade unionist (General Secretary of NUPE, then of the merged unions forming UNISON), sadly died on 3rd October 2017. Rodney campaigned for better rights and fairer treatment for staff working in public services, notably in the introduction of the statutory minimum wage and the fair uprating of pensions. He became President of the National Pensioners Convention in 2001 and, as President of War on Want in 2007, he visited Palestine with Clare Short to witness life under the Occupation. Rodney spoke out against house demolitions and was an active and vocal supporter of PSC for many years.
Bruce Kent (22 June 1929 – 8 June 2022)
Bob Crow sadly died on 11 March 2014. General Secretary of the RMT union after the merger of the NUR and NUS in 1990, Bob was elected by a large majority of the RMT membership as General Secretary in 2002. A tough defender of workers’ rights and of the international union movement, he was a staunch supporter of the Palestinians and was a patron of PSC for a number of years.
Harold Pinter (10 October 1930 – 24 December 2008)
Corin Redgrave (16 July 1939 – 6 April 2010)
Edward Said (1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003)
Rosemary Said Zahlan (20 August 1937 – 10 May 2006)
Bruce Kent, Britain’s best known peace campaigner and former Chair of CND sadly died on 8 June 2022. Bruce devoted himself to promoting a vision of the world in which war and poverty are abolished through argument and practical action. He supported the case for justice for Palestine for many years and spoke regularly on the issue. In 2002 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his life’s work for peace by Middlesex University. Read obituary