Better news from Brussels, it seems
IT looks like the United Nations Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, UNISPAL, will be able to go ahead with its conference in Brussels this week after all.
The Israeli government had called on the European parliament not to allow the conference to be held on its premises. An international campaign was reportedly being mobilised.
Israel expects European Parliament to do as it is told http://randompottins.blogspot.com/2007/8/israel-expects-european-parliament-to-html
But apart from giving some nutty North American websites something to get excited over, it does not seem to have got very far. We don't know what strings Israel's diplomats and assets were pulling behind the scenes, but meanwhile some quite different Jewish voices made themselves heard:
European Jews for a just Peace
P.O. Box 59506 1040 LA Amsterdam The Netherlands
To the President of the European Parliament
Mr. Hans-Gert Pöttering
Rue Wiertz 60
22 August 2007
Mr. President of the European Parliament,
As has been widely reported the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (UNISPAL), founded in 1975, is to hold an International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace at the European Parliament in Brussels on 30 and 31 August 2007.
Various important topics are to be discussed at the Conference, among them
reports on the effects of the Israeli occupation on the population of East
Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the findings of a delegation of the European Parliament which visited the region, several workshops and the
strengthening of campaigns to end the occupation, including the grassroots
campaign against the Wall, nonviolent demonstrations in Bil’in and elsewhere in the West Bank and the improvement of the European contribution to
international attempts to end the Israeli occupation and thus create an
atmosphere for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
We are aware that for several weeks the Delegation of Israel has been trying to
persuade the European Parliament not to provide rooms for this Conference by
saying that the purpose of the Conference is to adopt one-sided judgments
The European Jews for a Just Peace, a European federation of Jews in 10
countries, citizens of Europe and members of civil society, believe that outside
interference concerning the holding of this Conference on the premises of the
European Parliament by a State which is not a member of the European Union is untenable. We hold that the United Nations Committee, which has existed for decades, has every right to hold the meeting in the rooms of the European
Furthermore, as concerned EU citizens and as Jews, we support any and all
efforts made by the European Parliament to end the Israeli occupation of
Palestinian land, which would bring a just solution to this terrible conflict and
further the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Accept, Sir, the assurances of our highest consideration.
European Jews for a Just Peace
European Jews for a Just Peace is a federation of Jewish Peace groups working and campaigning in 11 European countries.
An old friend in Glasgow, Ruth, (incidentally an Israeli), forwarded my blog on this issue (as well as on the Palestinian under-19 football team) to her MEP, David Martin, and has forwarded me his reply:
Thanks for that, yes I was aware of this seminar and as far as I know it is going ahead.
All the best
I have not been able to find anything more definite, but nor have I seen anything saying the conference was off. Best wishes to those who have spoken up for this conference, and I hope it is a success. I don't know how much good will come from it, but if it is happening in a rebuff to the Israeli government and its lobbyists that is good in itself. Seems they were less successful than in having the Palestinian football players banned from Britain. On which I gather more will be yet heard.