First Of The Month — September 2021

“Amos Trust seeks to find creative ways to raise awareness, educate and challenge stereotypes by communicating the message and experiences of our partners and friends in the different areas within which we work.” Amos Director Chris Rose writes.

First Of The Month — September 2021

Change The Record
Full equal rights for everyone who calls Palestine and Israel home

Amos Trust works alongside a wide variety of partners to promote equal rights for Palestinians, to campaign against Israel’s *apartheid policies and to call for an end to the military occupation of the Palestinian territories.
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Introduction

We seek to find creative ways to raise awareness, educate and challenge stereotypes by communicating the message and experiences of our partners and friends in the different areas within which we work.

We seek to do this through our travel programme, by bringing partners to tour the UK and through our webinars, films and Taste Of Palestine cooking sessions. These activities also help us to keep abreast of the latest campaign developments and to motivate us to continue to stay involved.

As we find out about the injustices our partners experience, it generates an obvious need to respond and as Sister Helen Prejean says, “Outrage without an accompanying action turns into paralysis.”

We seek to give people opportunities to respond by:

  • financially supporting the work our partner projects are doing to address the human rights abuses and lack of opportunity they experience
  • signposting people to the campaigns we are involved in
  • giving opportunities to join in our activism activities

We are acutely aware that the long-term nature of the campaigns that we are involved in can leave people feeling bitter or worn out. It is imperative that we support people’s ongoing activism and commitment through things like our webinars and partner visits, but also through our Words of Hope programme and what we call the spirituality of resistance.
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Change The Record
amostrust.org/change-the-record

Change The Record is our umbrella for the advocacy campaigns and activism that we are involved in as part of our Palestine Justice work.

Change The Record logo

As we experienced in South Africa, if governments are refusing to recognise international law, and if there is no desire or ability to hold a country to account, then one of the most effective non-violent responses open to people is to pursue Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS).

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of BDS against Israel until it complied with international law and Palestinian rights. As Zoughbi Zoughbi from Wi’am in Bethlehem says, “we do not want to bring Israel to its knees, but to its senses.”

While we support the BDS campaign, we also need to focus on some of the worst aspects of how the Occupation and Israel’s apartheid policies are worked out on the ground.

We do this through our activism activities which combine campaigning and awareness-raising with acts of solidarity. The main two are our Home Rebuild programme and Run The Wall fundraiser. We also do it by joining with campaigning groups/partners in the UK and in Palestine on specific issues such as child imprisonment or the forced evictions of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem.

* Apartheid
We tended to avoid using the word apartheid. Israel had been carrying out apartheid policies for many years. ‘Hafrada’ is the Hebrew name given to the Wall — it means ‘Separation’. Israeli policies have not only separated people by their ethnic identity but also given vastly more resources and rights to one group than to the other.

We have always viewed our campaign for equal rights to be an anti-apartheid campaign but we avoided using the word as we did not want to spend time justifying its use when we could have been focusing on the abuses it encapsulates.

We believed, as South African author JM Coetzee said, that we should present the facts and let people “draw their own conclusions.” But the 2021 reports by Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch specifically stating that Israel is pursuing apartheid policies means that no further justification is required.

Protests

Protests matter. It matters that 100–200 thousand people are marching through London shouting, ‘Free, Free Palestine!’ Our press may focus on racists driving through Finchley yelling anti-semitic abuse, but crowds protesting in major cities does make headlines in many other places around the world and it is really important for Palestinians to see this happening.

Amos Trust's Director Chris Rose speaking to journalists in Palestine during the Just Walk To Jerusalem in 2017.

Amos Trust’s Director Chris Rose speaking to journalists in Palestine during the Just Walk To Jerusalem in 2017
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It is also really good for us to come together to make our voice heard, and most significantly, to be seen and heard by Whitehall — even if their policies would seem to suggest they are neither seeing or hearing — most politicians are keen to appease the voters. And it is also important, when major Christian denominations remain silent as the Israel Defence Force storms the Al Aqsa mosque, that someone in a dog collar stands outside Number 10 and says to the crowds how wrong such attacks are.

Many of the acts we call solidarity, are acts of protest and it’s a fine line between the two. As the American Politician and Civil rights campaigner John Lewis said it’s about making some “good noise and getting into good trouble” whether that be student sit-ins or campaigning outside an arms fair.

Protest and acts of solidarity can also give activists a reset and can recharge their batteries. When I was cycling with the Big Ride for Palestine — as we rode out of Bristol, there were loads of people tooting horns, showing the victory sign and shouting “Free, Free Palestine!” It was not only a great encouragement but also got me thinking about all those freedoms for which we the stand alongside the Palestinian people.

One Free Ain’t Enough

Free Free Palestine
Free Free Palestine
Free Free

I thought Freedom would be enough
That if Palestine was free
Then we could pack up and go home.
Job done.
But that seems further away each year
More like a pipe dream.
An incentive to keep us going
When the end game has all but been played out

Maybe the chant is right,
One Freedom is not enough

We need to
Free - Free Palestine
Free - Free Palestine
Free

Free Palestine from Walls and Checkpoints
Free Palestine from Apartheid Rule
Free Palestine from Settler Colonialism
Free Palestine from Corrupt Governments
Free Palestine from the Peace process
Free Palestine from the Two state solution
Free Palestine from the West’s machinations
Free Palestine from anti-semitic smears and terrorist stereotypes

Palestine
Free from the River
To everywhere
Palestine
Free to imagine a future,
Palestine
Free from fear
Palestine
Free to choose
What free means

Palestine
Free, Free, Palestine

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
amostrust.org/bds

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. We have, with other activists, been involved in the BDS campaign since then and have over the last 16 years called for the boycott of and divestment from a range of companies, including Caterpillar, Veolia, G4S, Hewlett Packard and Peace Oil.

A roll of Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions stickers

We are currently committed to four aspects of the BDS movement which we believe hold the most relevance to us today
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Some of the wins have been spectacular. The recent decision by Ben and Jerry’s to stop selling their Ice cream in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, was not only a great result for those who have campaigned for years against them, it was a significant step in delegitimising the occupation and created furore in Israel and significantly more coverage than the Pegasus spyware scandal.

We are currently committed to four aspects of the BDS movement which we believe hold the most relevance to us today, these are:

  • supporting the cultural boycott
  • supporting the boycott of Puma
  • supporting the Investing for Peace call for Morally Responsible Investment
  • supporting the call to stop arming Israel

Cultural Boycott
amostrust.org/cultural-boycott

Amos Trust was founded by singer-songwriter Garth Hewitt, and works closely with a number of musicians, playwrights, artists, filmmakers and writers and those who work for and in cultural institutions.

An illustration of a character playing an electric guitar in front of the Israeli Separation Wall

Thousands of artists across the world refuse to perform in Israel, including Lauryn Hill, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein and Angela Davis
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As Israel overtly uses culture as a form of propaganda to justify its actions, Palestinian anti-apartheid activists PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), have called on international artists, writers, cultural institutions and those who work for them to join the cultural boycott of Israel.

As the Artists for Palestine UK pledge states: “To accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

Today, thousands of artists across the world refuse to perform in Israel, including a host of global superstars such as Roger Waters from Pink Floyd (below), Lauryn Hill, Chuck D, Talib Kweli, John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Iain Banks, Judith Butler, Naomi Klein, Ken Loach, Angela Davis, Mira Nair, Mike Leigh and many others.

Roger Waters from Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters
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In May 2021, over 600 musicians signed the Musicians for Palestine open letter which asked the signatories to, “refuse to perform at Israel’s complicit cultural institutions.”

It stated:
“As musicians, we cannot be silent. Today it is essential that we stand with Palestine... Complicity with Israeli war crimes is found in silence, and today silence is not an option.

Silence is not an option as the brutal Israeli bombardment of a besieged Gaza claimed more than 245 lives in recent weeks. Silence is not an option as residents of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied Jerusalem are continuously forced out of their homes. Silence is not an option as millions of Palestinian refugees are denied their collective right of return.

Today, we speak together and demand justice, dignity and the right to self- determination for the Palestinian people and all who are fighting colonial dispossession and violence across the planet… Free Palestine!

Boycott Puma
amostrust.org/boycott-puma

The Boycott Puma Campaign seeks to put pressure on sportswear giant Puma to end their sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA).

The IFA, as documented by Human Rights Watch, includes 6 Israeli football clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Puma’s current and past exclusive licensees in Israel also have operations in illegal Israeli settlements.

The Puma sportswear logo sits next to an Israeli 'thumbs up' flag

We invite people to support Palestinian athletes in the call for a boycott of Puma
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Israel’s settlements contribute to serious human rights abuses and are a direct cause for restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, access to natural resources and the ability to build homes and conduct business. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016), reconfirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements, denouncing them as “flagrant violations” of international law.

The IFA has refused to take measures to end its complicity, despite being repeatedly condemned by UN advisors, elected officials, civil society and human rights groups and public figures.

As one of the world’s top athletic brands, Puma’s sponsorship brings international legitimacy to the IFA and de facto to the illegal Israeli settlements. This clearly flies in the face of the company’s devotion to universal equality. More than 200 Palestinian teams have called on Puma to end its support of Israel’s military occupation by terminating its sponsorship deal with the IFA.

In July 2018 it was announced that Adidas was no longer sponsoring the IFA following an international campaign and the delivery of over 16,000 signatures to Adidas headquarters.

We need to do this again. There is increasing momentum behind these calls. We invite people to support Palestinian athletes in the call for a boycott of Puma until it ends its support for Israel’s illegal land grabs.

People all around the world have found creative ways to pursue this call and if you would like to find out more about action you can take, please visit the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at palestinecampaign.org/campaigns/puma

Investing For Peace
Morally Responsible Investment
amostrust.org/investing-for-peace

In 2009, all the main Palestinian churches came together to form Kairos Palestine and to release a call to action — A Moment of Truth. In 2020, Kairos Palestine released a further call for decisive action entitled Cry For Hope

Graffiti on the Israeli Separation Wall reads, "We Are All Palestinians"

You can become involved with pressing denominations to change and to get involved in the wider Investing for Peace campaign
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Since 2009 we have worked closely alongside those responding to this call producing the UK response, A Time for Action. This campaign is now led by Sabeel Kairos and together with War on Want, Pax Christi and Christian Aid, focuses on ensuring that the companies that churches and similar groups procure from and invest in do not profit from, or advance the occupation.

It builds on the success Morally Responsible Investment campaigns with churches in the US, and calls for UK churches to:

  • fully disclose their lists of investments
  • identify which of these companies profit from the occupation of Palestine
  • put in place a new investment screen, or strengthen an existing one, to ensure that they exclude companies that profit from the occupation
  • divest from companies that are already in their investment portfolio who profit from the Occupation; or if they use corporate engagement, ensure this is time-bound, structured, and leads to divestment if companies do not change their policies/activities.

There has been significant progress made in the UK. The Quakers were the first denomination to state that it would not invest any of its centrally-held funds in companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine. This has recently been followed by the United Reform Church adopting 10 Resolutions on Israel/Palestine and the Methodist Conference commending a Cry For Hope to individual churches and also divesting from Caterpillar.

You can download the Investing for Peace booklet and visit the Sabeel Kairos website to see how you can become involved with pressing denominations to change and to get involved in the wider Investing for Peace campaign.

Stop Arming Israel
amostrust.org/stop-arming-israel

In May 2021, Israel bombed densely populated Palestinian residential areas, resulting in the deaths of over 250 people. Over a quarter of them were children. Palestinians inside Israel and in the West Bank took to the streets to protest the Occupation, the forced displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities and were met with live fire.

An illustration of three bombs falling with the words Stop Arming Israel written on the side.

We believe that UK government sales to Israel are in clear defiance of its own export guidelines
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The bombings are no longer making headlines, but the violence continues. Palestinian homes are still being destroyed in a systematic campaign backed up by opaque legal papers and implemented by Israeli armed forces, who accompany the bulldozers to the demolitions. Palestinians protesting land theft and rights violations still face arbitrary arrest, assault, injury and even death at the hands of Israeli forces.

This systemic violence is made possible by the complicity of governments around the world. The UK government continues to approve exports of UK-made weapons and military technologies sold to and used by Israeli armed forces. The UK also holds joint training with Israeli military forces and welcomes Israeli arms companies to set up shop here in the UK.

We believe that government sales to Israel are in clear defiance of its own export guidelines, and that it is vital that we listen to and act upon the Palestinian civil society call for a military embargo.

As with the other aspects of the BDS Call, we are not the experts on this issue which has been led by Campaign Against the Arms TradePalestine Solidarity Campaign and War on Want. We specifically recommend War on Want’s, Stop Arming Israel campaign

Our Activism

Israel’s illegal Wall, military checkpoints, Jewish-only roads and settlements form part of an infrastructure of control designed to obstruct every aspect of Palestinian life. A system of apartheid that forces indigenous Palestinian families from their land, robs Palestinians of natural resources, denies Palestinians their right of movement and forms what Jeff Halper from ICAHD (The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions), describes as a ‘matrix of control’ that dominates every aspect of daily life.

Our activism focuses on two aspect of this — Israel’s Home Demolition programme and the impact of the Separation Wall.

Amos’ Home Rebuild Programme
Rebuilding Homes — Rebuilding Hope
amostrust.org/home-rebuilds

For the last 10 years we have been rebuilding Palestinian homes that have been destroyed by the Israeli Defence Force. These homes are all on the West Bank on land owned by Palestinians, which was either annexed by Israel in 1967 to form part of Greater Jerusalem or is in Area C, which represents over 60% of the West Bank and under the Oslo accords, comes under full Israeli Control.

A demolished home in Palestine's West Bank

A demolished Palestinian home on the West Bank
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In both of these areas it is almost impossible for Palestinians to build on their own land, over 98% of permit applications are refused by Israel. The consequence is that these families have no choice but to build without permission. At the same time, Israel is pressing on with settlement expansion plans across the West Bank. Since 1967, Israel has authorised settlement housing for over 750,000 Jewish Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — which is a clear breach of International law.

While Israel justifies the demolition of Palestinian homes because they lack building permits or they pose a security threat — the reality is very different. Home demolitions are typically used to pave the way for Israel’s ‘Matrix of Control’ — (expanding the settlements, building Israeli-only bypass roads or constructing the Separation Wall), to make it apparent to Palestinians that the land is wanted without the indigenous Palestinian population. 


Over the last two years, the incidences of Palestinian home and property destruction by the Israeli Defence force has risen and has now reached some of the highest levels seen in the last 20 years. There have also been concerted efforts to evict Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, especially in the Sheik Jarrah and Silwan areas, and a wave of settlement expansion.

It has also become harder for Palestinians to build in Area C and East Jerusalem with the introduction of a new legislative framework to speed up the demolition process and to penalise those building. The greatest impact of all is upon the families whose homes are destroyed and the thousands of others who have been served a demolition order.

“Our house was demolished on 4 September 2018. It was not just the demolition of a house built with stones, but the demolition of every hope and dream built with every stone. Nothing is harder than being here and not being able to do anything. To see 400 soldiers and three bulldozers demolishing your home in the middle of the night without any reason — nothing is harder than that.” Lolo – whose home was rebuilt in 2019

More than 100 Amos volunteers have raised funds and travelled to the West Bank to provide the labour to rebuild these homes. These volunteers work alongside local builders and are greeted so warmly. But it is not a task undertaken lightly. Hearing the stories from the families and sharing their words when they come back to the UK is a serious responsibility for Amos and the volunteers. And they have inspired many, many more to give and to lobby their MP’s when the houses have been threatened.

The six homes we have built are still standing although none of them are safe from the injustice and threats of the Occupation, and our partners Holy Land Trust and HIRN work closely with local lawyers to preserve the houses and to obstruct and delay the threats of demolition. The most recent of these was served with a demolition order before the work had been completed. The house is still under threat although the work has finished and the family have moved in.

We are committed to rebuilding Palestinian homes and to creating facts on the ground, even when there are so many barriers that seek to prevent this and even when the cost, for all those involved, can be so high. But as Lolo said, “When I saw the new house, I thought that’s my home, just like a dream. Beautiful.”

Run The Wall
amostrust.org/run-the-wall 

Work began on the Israeli Separation Wall in 2002. When it is completed it will be 750km long. The Wall — also known as the Apartheid Wall, the Separation Barrier, or Security Fence — has had a devastating impact upon Palestinians. It cuts deep into the Palestinian West Bank, 85% of it will be built on Palestinian land, it denies communities access to their land and denies them the right to movement. It is the construct on which Israel’s matrix of control is built.

Participants of the Palestine Marathon running passed the Separation Wall in Bethlehem.

In urban areas (such as around Bethlehem), the Wall is made of 8-metre-high concrete panels. Elsewhere it is a combination of electric fences, razor wire, military access roads, bypass roads, watch towers and settlement blocks.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN judiciary organ, issued an advisory opinion that deemed Israel's Separation Wall, along with its associated regimes, were illegal and in violation of international law. They further stated that it should be dismantled and compensation given to the Palestinians affected.

“The point I am trying to make is different. It’s that what connects all these walls is a problem you cannot solve through negotiation, so you build a wall and make the problem worse. It is a statement that is inherent in the building of all these walls — whether it is for economic reasons, to separate Catholic and Protestant, Sunni and Shias — it marks the problem as insoluble.” Photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer, whose work focuses on the Impacts of Walls, and especially the Separation Wall. 

The Wall has, and will continue, to deny any chance of effective dialogue and has ensured that for most young Palestinians living on the West Bank, the only Israeli they will meet will be a settler, an IDF soldier or security official. For those in Gaza, it will only be IDF members.

To mark the 20th anniversary since the beginning of construction of the Separation Wall (2022), and ICJ ruling in 2004, we will be undertaking a series of events that will focus on the impact of the Separation Wall.

We will be looking to build upon the success of our 2021 Run The Wall fundraiser by carrying out further runs in 2022 and beyond with our Palestinian friends Right To Movement and runners/walkers from around the world. 

We will also be focusing on the Wall this Christmas as we invite our partners Alrowwad Cultural Centre in Bethlehem to join us on our carol tour of the UK. We will be asking them to talk about the impact of the Wall on the children and young people who live in Aida Camp, which is bordered by it on two sides.

We will also be joining with Palestinian NGO, Stop The Wall, as they call for a World Without Walls, and will be looking at developing exhibits and installations to draw attention to the need to dismantle the Wall.

Joint campaign activities

We are delighted to work alongside a wide variety of advocacy groups and to join in united advocacy activities or to amplify other organisations’ calls. We also seek to publish the joint letters/statements that we sign up to on our blog — the most recent of which is associated with the forthcoming COP26 Climate Conference. 



Stop The Wall has launched a call for action to hold the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to account, on the basis that the struggles for environmental, social, racial, economic and political justice are intertwined. Specifically, to:

  • counter greenwashing promoted by the JNF
  • call for JNF’s charitable status within the UK to be rescinded
  • oppose any attempts by the JNF to gain official recognition by the COP, the United Nations or other institutions
  • demand that the JNF is held accountable for its violations of human rights and under international law.

Finally

We will be posting updates on all of these campaigns across our social media channels and in our Words Of Hope Enews which we send out every week.

We believe that such a wide cross-section of campaigns is necessary to ‘Free, Free Palestine!’ and we encourage people to find within them, those activities that they wish to pursue.
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A Little More... 

More First Of The Month
Older editions of our First Of The Month essays are available to read and download here. 

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Online reflection
Join us every Tuesday at 5pm for ‘Words Of Hope’ — our online reflection. Simply click here to join us a few minutes beforehand.

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EC4N 7HB
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