Everything in PSC’s annual review wouldn’t have been possible without all our PSC members:
- as activists engaging people in our local communities, unions, political parties and faith groups
- as leaders shaping our priorities here, through our branch forums and in decision-making locally
- as educators, explaining to people just what life is like in Palestine
- and as funders, making all that we do possible.
It’s a great strength of our movement that we’re both local and national – now with 50 branches and 417 affiliated organisations.
Local activity engages thousands of people every week whilst the fact that we are a national organisation with deepening international links means we can prioritise and focus attention to deliver significant victories, such as the pan-European campaign which is really starting to curtail links with settlements.
Whilst our campaign has been strengthening and growing, the need for solidarity only deepens.
The Prawer Plan has shown how that far from being a historical event, the Nakba is an ongoing process with Israel paying little attention to whether the Palestinians they’re ethnically-cleansing are their own citizens or not.
This year we’ve repeatedly highlighted the racism of the Israeli state, with meetings looking at the situation both for Palestinians living within Israel and those under occupation.
We raised the urgent issue of the ethnic cleansing as part of the Global March to Jerusalem as well as commemorated the Nakba with a demonstration opposite Downing Street.
We’ve worked with numerous Palestinian partner organisations to expose Israel’s treatment of prisoners and especially child prisoners. Protests were held across the country on Prisoners’ Day in April, including highlighting the deep complicity in war crimes of top BDS-target G4S.
Palestine was the key issue raised at G4S’ shareholder meeting with the Financial Times and others covering the huge risk that being complicit with the occupation brings. A definite warning to other big corporations.
Ex-hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak spoke at many PSC branch meetings covering both the treatment of prisoners and the call for UEFA not to play ball with Israeli apartheid.
Boycott, divestment and sanctions are vital tools which again saw significant advances this year – Stephen Hawking’s refusal to be honoured by Shimon Peres provided a huge publicity opportunity as has, to a lesser degree, the pressure these last few days over Scarlett Johansson work with SodaStream. Brighton PSC’s weekly protests at SodaStream’s flaghship store have busted any perception of the firm as an ethical trader, with the fortnightly protests outside John Lewis in London engaging tens of thousands of shoppers.
The work done up and down the country on BDS is incredibly important, with the focus on Sainsbury’s resulting in over 40 supermarkets being targeted on the day of action called by Palestinian agricultural organisations and the Boycott National Committee.
The situation in Gaza has massively worsened during the past year, with the closing down of the tunnels which provided a lifeline for 1.8 million Palestinians. We’ve organised pressure by MPs on the Egyptian Embassy as well as opening a window on the situation there with regular video conferences between British and Gazan students.
We highlighting the political lessons from the isolation of Gaza in a conference and last weekend marked the fifth anniversary of Operation Cast Lead with a successful demonstration outside the Israeli embassy.
On the parliamentary and party political front, we saw 231 MPs contacted around our lobby day with three shadow ministers and members of five parties speaking at our meeting in the House of Commons.
We’ve been developing our high level contacts to push the Labour leadership to respond to the widespread demand for justice from party members and MPs – a sentiment shown by the fact that over 1,000 people attended one or more of the Palestine events at Labour Party conference this year.
Our work with the trade unions saw yet further success, with planning on-going for a TUC delegation to Gaza. The TUC’s Black Workers’ Conference passed policy opposing the racist nature of Israel’s apartheid policies, we led several delegations of trade unionists to Palestine and held meetings at most major union conferences.
PSC held several students meet-ups this year and distributed freshers fair packs to over 50 campuses. Our student officer addressed NUS’ Black Students Conference and we arranged speaker events with a journalist from Gaza on many campuses.
Our dedicated media monitoring work has kept up pressure for accurate and unbiased coverage, especially at the BBC. We’ve been quoted across print and online press and had numerous radio and TV appearances.
Our own media is far from insignificant – in this last week 228,000 people – almost a quarter of a million – saw our Facebook posts, with 21,000 people clicking on the links, liking or sharing them. Over the past year 25,000 people have sent lobbying emails through our website.
Your membership of PSC remains vital and this year we’ve welcomed hundreds of new members. Donations on top of membership fees are vital so please do consider setting up a Direct Debit on our website even if its just for a pound or two a month as well as recruiting some of the many supportive people we all know who are not actually paid-up members of PSC.
I know there’s a vast amounts of activity which I’ve not been able to mention here – this can only ever be a taster of what we’ve achieved and I hope that some of what I’ve missed will be discussed through your contributions throughout the day.
I’d like to offer a big thank you to those who’ve finished serving on the Executive Committee: Hilary Wise, Nicolette Petersen, Kiri Tunks and John Snowdon.
And I’d like to conclude by thanking our staff, volunteers, EC members, branch officers and members throughout the country for all your amazing work.
With your help, over the next year we’ll help build towards a world free of occupation, siege and dispossession.
We are building a mass movement, we are breaking out into the mainstream but we know that our work will continue until the Palestinian people at long last win their freedom.