Join our 2013 End-of-Year Party! (4pm, Sat, Dec 14)

<Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea 2013 End-of-Year Party!>
4 – 8 pm, Saturday, December 14 @ Columban Center, Hyehwa (near Sungsin Women’s University Station, Exit 4 – follow the signs) see the map
Go to the Facebook event

In order to show our gratitude to our members, supporters, friends and fellow social movement organizations who have helped us so much over the past year we have decided to throw a big event and invite you all to join us!

I’m going to throw in what has already become the centerpiece at the beginning: we’ll be serving real Palestinian food free to guests! Our Palestinian friends have kindly offered to prepare some Palestinian food for us all. Now we know you are coming!

Hummus, foul, falafel... Hungry anyone?
Hummus, ful medames, falafel… Hungry anyone?

With three of our activists having recently returned from Palestine after working on a mini documentary project in East Jerusalem and another about to embark on an important project in the West Bank, we have a lot to share with you! We have two talks planned which will be followed by interactive Q&A sessions. The first is about home demolitions in East Jerusalem where South Korean company Hyundai Heavy Industries excavators are often seen carrying out the illegal destruction and the second will describe the situation in Hebron’s H2 area which remains under full Israeli military control and is home to a few hundred ideological settlers who are living in illegal settlements protected by the Israeli military among 40,000 Palestinians.

Chopkicking the Apartheid Wall at Gilo Checkpoint
Chopkicking the Apartheid Wall at Gilo Checkpoint

Both talks promise to be eye opening and our activists will also share their personal observations and photos. While the statistics are typically devastating, the Palestinians living behind them are fighting back and resisting in myriad ways. We hope to discuss the harsh realities of military occupation but also to encourage you to visit the beautiful land and its amazingly hospitable people.

To provide some respite from what are sure to be very informative but at times frustratingly difficult discussion on the realities of the brutal occupation, we’ll also be presenting a special flamenco performance by the very gifted and classically trained Stan Olmstead. Stan spent time in rural Spain learning the art of folk music from a local community and he will also give a brief introduction to his craft by placing it in historical context; flamenco is said to have been born out of the fingers of peasants in southern Spain at a time in the Middle Ages when the region was very much a part of the Islamic world and home to Arabs, Jews, Christians and Gypsies alike.

As this year has been a pretty busy year with a number of talks, actions and events held by Palestine Peace & Solidarity – including one of our activists working on a medical aid delivery project in the besieged Gaza Strip, we’ll also review the year’s activities and together discuss our plans for 2014. We’ll be looking for conversation and creativity: we want to know what you want us to be working on in 2014 and also discover ways to get you more involved.

In other words, you better be there!

2014: UN declared Year of Solidarity with Palestinian People. By Carlos Latuff
2014: UN declared Year of Solidarity with Palestinian People. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff.

You can visit the Facebook event page here.  As we have limited seating, please RSVP by emailing with the subject line ‘PPS Year End Party [+ Your name, contact number]’.


The Unending Nakba – 65 Years is Enough!

Today marks 65 years since the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in which over 750,000 of its Palestinian inhabitants were driven from their homes and land, Palestinians whose familes had lived there for generation after generation. The Nakba or Catastrophe continues with the ongoing Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the illegal siege of Gaza that continues to strangle its people.

This graphic from Visualizing Palestine offers a visual representation of displacement, dislocation and loss of homeland through the forced exile of Palestinians.

Disappearing Palestine

As this Al Jazeera documentary shows, the plan to cleanse the land of its Arab inhabitants goes back at least to a conquering and war hungry Napolean but took shape through the Zionist project with British colonial support involving Jewish militias and terror groups.

The massacre at Deir Yassen is the most well known symptom of this violent history but the loss of Palestinian culture and heritage through the organized robbery of Palestinian books is violence of another form. As this excellent documentary from Al Jazeera shows, the fact that these books remain inside Israel in a library that most Palestinians cannot visit is symbolic of the ongoing Nakba.

A commemoration of a tragic event that is still unwinding in military occupation and apartheid must be fuled by tears, but there are many sources of strength and hope. It is to the struggle of some of the most oppressed people on the planet we share that we must turn our attention also. As sweat next to tears, the cries of resistance are as deep as the wounds. Here is a collection of poems read aloud in his own voice by Palestine’s late national poet Mahmoud Darwish to the music of Le Trio Joubran.

“If the Olive Trees knew the hands that planted them, Their Oil would become Tears.”  – Marmoud Darwish

And, finally, here is a selection from Fatma Kassem’s 2011 book, Palestinian Women: Narrative histories and gendered memory (Zed Books) in which she tells the story of the ongoing Nakba through the lived herstories of Palestinian women now living inside the State of Israel on what was once Palestinian land.  I shall let the author describe in her own words which are taken from the opening lines of her book:
“This book traces and documents the gendered memory and narrative histories of a group of ordinary urban Palestinian women who witnessed the events of 1948, when the State of Israel was founded. Importantly, these women have all remained on their homeland after it subsequently became Israel, the Jewish state. Told in their own words, these women’s experiences serve as a window for examining the complex intersections of gender, history, memory, nationalism and citizenship in a situation of ongoing colonization and violent conflict between Palestinians and the Zionist State of Israel. Known in the Palestinian discourse of nationalism as the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, this event and those that have followed since 1948 still exert a powerful influence on the present-day lives of these women – as women, as members of the broader Palestinian community to which they belong and as Israeli citizens. Examined from a sociological perspective, the unique experiences of these Palestinian women from the margins can shed more light on the multiple continuing effects of the Nakba.”

The Nakba must end. Palestinians will be free. Until then, those of us with the freedom to raise our voices against injustice must.

Right to Return – and Resist: PPS film screening solidarity night

To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Catastrophe (al Nakba) in which over 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1948 in what amounted to an ethnic cleansing of their land by armed Israeli forces, Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea held a screening of Paradise Now in our office in Hapjeong, Seoul on Monday, May 13 (two days ahead of Nakba Day). 

Our event was held as part of a number of events organized by the Asian Peoples’ Solidarity for Palestine (APSP) which includes public conferences, rallies, exhibitions, seminars and other events in a number of locations across the region including 15 cities in Afghanistan, India, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea. This regional initiative is a part of the “Global Campaign to Return to Palestine” organized by members of the network to address the issue of the right of return for the millions of refugees who remain unable to return to their family homes.

The film depicts the story of two Palestinian friends living in the West Bank who volunteer to take part in a suicide attack inside Israel. The story addresses the issues of violence and nonviolence, hope and hopelessness in the ongoing Palestinian struggle under Israeli military occupation. The film screening was followed by a group discussion about different forms of resistance and the meaning of the ongoing daily Nakba for Palestinians and we shared some Arabic salad and hummus and flatbreads together. Thank you to all those who attended and for your patience and interesting input into our discussion.

Palestine: the view from Korea (April 8)

* For those interested in getting involved with Palestine Peace & Solidarity in Korea, we meet weekly on Mondays at our office in Hapjeong at 7:30pm. Please email Tom @ for more information. We welcome you to join us! *

Another week of Israeli military violence

In its weekly report on the human rights violations in the occupied territories (March 28 – April 3), the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is reporting that Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian teenagers – cousins named Naji Balbisi (17) and Amer Nassar (16) – and wounded a third civilian in Anabta village, east of Tulkarem. Another two youths were wounded during an incursion into Hebron, one of 65 incursions carried out by the IDF over this period. The same report notes that in addition to firing at Gazan fisherman in order to confine them to the 3km nautical limit line it is imposing, Israel also carried out two air strikes on Gaza.

Palestine’s Children

April 5 was Palestinian Children’s Day. Rather than to celebrate young people and the joys of youth as it is elsewhere, Children’s Day in Palestine is used to highlight the conditions children exist in under Israeli military occupation. This year it falls shortly after a recent incident in which a number of youths were harassed and arrested by the IDF during their walk to school and at a time when some 236 youths remain in Israeli prisons according to Defence for Children International Palestine. Over at Electronic Intifada Adri Nieuwhof recently had this to report: “In February, the number of Palestinian children between 12 and 15 years who were detained by Israel rose from 31 to 39. Almost 60 percent of the 236 Palestinian child detainees of all ages have been unlawfully transferred to prisons inside Israel. Children were arrested and detained during the recent protests in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.”

UNICEF released its report last month on youths in Israeli military detention, writing that “in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights.”

Occcupation and resistance

In his latest piece on Palestine, Noam Chomsky writes about the “humiliation, degradation and terror” used by Israel to keep Gaza as the world’s largest open air prison following his first ever visit last year. He finishes his article with an ominous warning: “Unless the powerful are capable of learning to respect the dignity of the victims, impassable barriers will remain, and the world will be doomed to violence, cruelty and bitter suffering.”

Amira Hass has written an important article for Haaretz about the reality of resistance for Palestinains under the harsh Israeli occupation. She describes the act of stone throwing as an important part of the dialogueReuters photo of a protestor throwing stones during a clash with the IDF in Hebron on Feb 25, 2013 between the occupier and the occupied in which the latter responds by declaring their right to resist and their will to defy their oppressor. She suggests that classes on resistance should in fact be a staple of the curriculum in Palestinian schools. The Middle East Monitor is reporting that in response to her article, representatives of Jewish settlers wrote to the Jerusalem police demanding an investigation into whether she is inciting violence. Given the war mongering rISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-CONFLICT-ARABS-LAND-DEMOhetoric aimed at the Palestinian population that one can find in any typical Israeli newspaper, one can only hope that the police will laugh this one off. But it does raise interesting questions about the basic right to resist a brutal military occupation and how far nonviolent struggle can really go under such conditions. Check out this article over at Waging Nonviolence for an interesting look at evolving nonviolent Palestinian struggle.

Upcoming actions

Coming up on April 17 this month is Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. PPS will be taking action to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians illegally imprisoned inside Israel and those facing torture and other human rights violations in administrative detention. Two days before, on April 15, South Korean peace groups will converge in Yeouido to demand that both North and South Korea – which of course includes the U.S. – lay down their weapons and choose dialogue over war. You can find out more about the event here.

Parting note

Finally, and on a side note, I recently watched an excellent Al Jazeera documentary on the pillage of Palestinian books that occurred during the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes at gunpoint by Israeli forces. While many of you will know the history well, it is very interesting to consider the loss of culture represented by these books which now sit inside Israel and can be read by any Israeli while their original Palestinian owners cannot access them. I highly suggest you take the time to watch this to understand the cultural and intellectual impact of Palestinian displacement.

Palestine: the view from Korea (April 1, 2013)

* For those interested in getting involved with Palestine Peace & Solidarity in Korea, we meet weekly on Mondays at our office in Hapjeong at 7:30pm. Please email Tom @ for more information. We welcome you to join us! *

Cultural Resistance

Freedom Bus activist arrested in South Hebron Hills - from
Freedom Bus activist arrested in South Hebron Hills – from

Palestinian artists, activists and community leaders recently joined with international activists to carry out a 9-day “Freedom Bus Tour” of “cultural resistance” in Area C in the occupied West Bank which remains completely under the control of the Israeli military. The tour, which was coordinated by the Freedom Theater operating in Jenin Refugee Camp, was extended to 13 days to conclude on Land Day.  One international participant from the U.S. was arrested by the IDF when the tour party entered the South Hebron Hills on March 29.

Land Day (March 30)

Palestinians from Sakhnin in the Galilee commemorate Land Day - from
Palestinians from Sakhnin in the Galilee commemorate Land Day – from

The 30th of March is Land Day which marks the day in 1976 when 6 Palestinians living in Israel were shot and killed and hundreds arrested and injured by Israeli forces during a protest against the illegal appropriation of Palestinian land in the northern Galilee to build Jewish-only settlements. Al Jazeera is reporting that a dozen people were injured in the demonstrations which were met with tear gas and rubber bullets by the IDF. Last year one protestor was killed after being shot in the head by the IDF but this year no deaths have been reported.

Palestine Peace & Solidarity in Korea is still finalizing plans for its Land Day action which will take place this week and focus on the calling on Hyundai to ensure that its construction equipment is no longer used for the illegal destruction of Palestinian homes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Casualties of Apartheid and Occupation

In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 21- 27 March 2013, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that Israeli forces continued to employ excessive force against peaceful protests in the occupied West Bank. Over the reported period, the IDF carried out a total of 37 incursions into Palestinian communities, injured 4 protestors and abducted 26 civilians (including 6 children) in the occupied West Bank.

Five members of Hamas including an acting member of parliament were arrested in their homes in Hebron by the IDF at dawn on March 27, most likely for their suspected connection to an Islamic militant group. The IDF has carried out 50 such arrests in the last few months. Palestinians living under the authority of the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority continue to face restrictions on freedom of expression. Journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh from Bethlehem was sentenced on March 29 to one year’s imprisonment for “harming his Excellency the President” after comparing Palestinian Authority President Abbas to a French spy in a Syrian television show. He is the second Palestinian journalist to be imprisoned on such charges this year.

The incriminating photo that was displayed on Facebook comparing PA President Abbas to a TV character.
The incriminating photo that was displayed on Facebook comparing PA President Abbas to a TV character.

The Rafah tunnels providing a lifeline to many Gazans continue to prove hazardous for workers under the ongoing Israeli military siege of the Gaza Strip. One tunnel worker was killed and another two sustained injuries when the tunnel they were working in collapsed on March 28.

A tunnel between Rafah, Gaza and Egypt. These provide a lifeline for many Gazans living under the Israeli blockade.
A tunnel between Rafah, Gaza and Egypt. These provide a lifeline for many Gazans living under the Israeli blockade.