Nakba 2011 – The right of return.

15 05 2011

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba.

*Nakba – “The catastrophe”
1948 was the year that the Israel state was established by expulsion and disposition of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and their lands, and more than 500 villages were depopulated and later completely destroyed.

Events around the world saw Palestinians demanding their right of return to Palestine through protests. People in Lebanon and Syria marched to the borders with nothing but voices and flags and in return were met with bullets.

21 peope have died so far today and who knows how many more injured.
10 in Lebanon, 8 in Syria, 2  in Gaza and 1 in the West Bank. It is become known as ‘Bloody Sunday’
Source – Gaza TV News

In this video, Palestinians are waving flags in Tel Aviv for the first time since 1948.

Another video showing Israeli army shooting at Palestinians at the Gaza border. A brave girl continues to wave the Palestinian flag.


Vittorio Arrigoni – The Fallen Hero, R.I.P

16 04 2011

1975 - 2011

For the past 10 years Italian ISM volunteer, Vittorio Arrigoni has been a pro Palestine peace activist with the last two years living in Gaza.

Direct Youtube link

Tattoo reads Resistance in Arabic.

On 14th April he was kidnapped, held hostage and threatened with execution for the following day by a small Salafist Jihadists group if Hamas doesn’t answer their demands of releasing their Salafist leader whom Hamas arrested last month. However, the group didn’t wait for the deadline they had given and had murdered him within hours, (as far as I know at the moment it’s a suspected hanging as cause of death). May I add, Vittorio’s heart was more Palestinian than his killers. His killer’s do not represent Palestinians.

Mourners gathered in Gaza and the West Bank to pay their respects to a courageous, pure hearted, dedicated humanitarian. He will be remembered forever for his work by all. My sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and to all those he touched, a true definition of a hero, a fallen hero. May God bless his soul and Rest In Peace.


(BAPD) – My time in Palestine.

15 05 2009

This is the first time I’m taking part in something like this and I have been racking my brains trying to decide on what to write for Blog About Palestine Day. There is so much to choose from… History.. Culture.. Embroidery.. The people.. The list is endless and then it hit me, what better way to write about Palestine day than my own personal experience.. Firstly today is BAPD because it marks the Nakba – 61 years off exile and occupation.

*Nakba – “The catastrophe”
1948 was the year that the Israel state was established by expulsion and disposition of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and their lands, and more than 500 villages were depopulated and later completely destroyed.

My time in Palestine.
When I was around 14 years old I first went to Palestine with my dad and my sister. The first place I visited and also stayed was with my aunt in Bethlehem. Their house sat among farmland with one of my cousin’s house opposite. My first memory was my first day of arrival, I’m laying down suffering from travel sickness and my cousin comes running in excitedly.. Leila Leila ta3lii shoofi meaning come and look. So I got up and followed her to be greeted by a slaughtered goat needless to say it was slaughtered for that days dinner, which saw me going back to the room feeling worse.
I, my sister and some cousins used to walk along to the lands containing vine and olive trees which belong to my family taking with us a donkey, yes a donkey. We picked grapes from the vine trees, roamed the land laughing and having fun. At night time we took our farahsat – mattresses to the roof to sleep in the cool air under the stars and mistakenly placed our farashat right in the middle of the roof forgetting we would be waking up to the heat off the morning sun burning down on us.

Surbaher is another place where we stayed, in the house belonging to my dad’s cousin, Surbaher is also the village that my family originate from. A road on a slope with buildings on each side from top to bottom that house various members off extended and distant relatives.
Family members also came from Jordan to spend time with us in Bethlehem and Surbaher, and we also enjoyed big family trips to the beach in Jaffa, smaller family trips into Jerusalem exploring the capital and all it has to offer. Hanging out with my sister, first and third cousins playing pranks on unfortunate family members kept us laughing constantly.

On the sadder side of my trips to Palestine every where we went there were Israeli control checks, soldiers occupying every corner, outside al-aqsa (dome of the rock) an innocent male passer by getting beaten by Israeli soldiers that my aunt intervened saying he’s her son to stop and leave him alone, my dad pointing out the cave that he and my family had to take shelter under while under attack, demolished homes, everything run by occupiers.. It’s endless.

Among the many memories I have… Walking along the beaches of Eilat and Jaffa, exploring the souq’s – markets of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, climbing the spiral steps to the bell tower off the church overlooking Jerusalem, entering al-aqsa seeing the bloodied clothes of martyrs and wondering through the dome of the rock taking in all its beauty, the bomb scare at the airport which was caused by my sister forgetting to pick a bag up, travelling through all the borders, picking grapes, long night time walks throughout Bethlehem and spending wonderful quality time with my family especially my cousins and my third cousins in Surbaher.. Made Palestine alive to me, Palestine lives in the hearts of all Palestinians whether half Palestinian like me or full Palestinian.. The Zionist’s can take all they want but they can’t take our memories and one day Palestine will be returned to the Palestinians.


* Surbaher – Is located in the East of Jerusalem, and unfortunately its town is one of many that has been crossed by the segregation wall.



* Bethlehem – In Arabic Bethlehem is pronounced Beit lahem literally translates to House of meat.  Also the birth place of Jesus.


Meeting George Galloway

15 04 2009

On Easter Sunday the Palestinian forum of Britain held a Palestine day in Kensington town hall, London. There were speakers, activities and selling goods all raising money for Palestine.

Whilst there I went to purchase the Viva Palestina CD (Thankgod I hadnt yet ordered it from the website lol) when I got there George Galloway’s wife told me if I waited till after his speech he will be out to sign the cd’s. So I decided to go listen to his speech and then buy the cd. As soon as he finished I told my sister Yalla let’s go before there’s a big queue! haha we were the first ones there, while we waited we chatted to his wife who is very nice and met his little son, his daughter, 2 grandkids and his son in law.
As we waited more and more people came over and pushing in front of another, when George Galloway came out we shook hands and he signed our cd’s. We waited calmly and patiently unlike the other people and his son in law told George Galloway.. These two girls were the first two here and they have waited very calmly and patiently.. to which George Galloway replied.. They are lovely girls 🙂 (yes that comment made us happy lol) Then we had our photo taken with him. I really feel so happy to have met such a wonderful man, who is an inspiration to all 🙂

Going back to the speech George Galloway mentioned that the account has been frozen which is holding the money for Gaza which was raised through Viva Palestina, so he is still trying to get money to Gaza and another way was buy selling the Viva Palestina album so whether your in the UK or Overseas go to the website and buy it. Click on the link to read the letter George Galloway wrote to the Charity Commission
He also said there is another Aid convoy leaving USA in July on 4th July and in his words.. What better day then independance day!. Also another one from Venzula. George Galloway said that he will do these convoy’s every month.

Palestine day event.

Palestine day event

Viva Palestina – The album

21 03 2009

Viva Palestina – The album featuring Drew McConnell from Babyshambles, Lowkey, Celt Islam and more . . .
On sale from March 30th 2009.
only £9.99
including postage and packing
Discounts – 2 for £17.49 – 3 for £24.99

Don’t miss Viva Palestina – The Album.
Pre-order your copy now. Special discount if you buy more than one – so why not stock up for Birthday, Eid or Christmas presents.

All proceeds go to Viva Palestina – taking solidarity with Palestine into the future.

click on the link for more info! and there is an option for oversea sales to

Volunteers leave Gaza..

21 03 2009


They have gone. The ‘angels’, some called them ‘saviours’, but in reality just ordinary men and women who took part in an extraordinary act – and in doing so brought hope and put smiles on the faces of thousands of Gaza children have all finally left.

All that remains in Gaza is the aid they left behind – the right-hand drive vehicles including many ambulances, now roaming the streets of Rafah, Khan Younes, Beit Hanoun and Gaza City – and the memories.

The memories of those heroes, from all walks of life, who crossed continents to reach them, of the jokes and laughter they shared, of the tales of suffering they found the courage to speak about to their guests.

At the Rafah crossing, where they numbered in excess of sixty five, they were inconsolable. Some of them sobbing, whilst others were speechless, sitting at the back of the coach on the way to Cairo, reflecting on what they have just witnessed and left behind.

After a long wait, they all headed for Al Arich, the scene of their final push towards Rafah barely a week ago. More waiting was to follow until transport was finally arranged and their journey home began.

Yet things are never that easy. Last night, some of our team spent several hours in the unscheduled company of scores of armed Egyptian police at the side of the road. But the waiting, tense at first, was relieved with the arrival of food and tea, brought by the Libyan drivers from the convoy. More police then arrived with a van full of plastic chairs, so at least they could all sit down as they waited for ‘instructions’! In the end common sense prevailed and our team joined the Libyans in their compound for the evening.

Contacts have been established, money was pledged or handed over for a multitude of projects by Viva Palestina.

Whilst world leaders are pledging billions for Gaza there remain disagreements on who should take charge of the reconstruction. Viva Palestina have started the process, George Galloway and the team walked the walk.

It took one man to show the way and open the door for other brave men and women to reach this besieged concentration camp known as the Gaza Strip.

Khalid Amayresh wrote ‘I salute you for challenging the forces of hypocrisy and moral duplicity back in Britain who instead of calling Israel a criminal state ruled by an evil clique of war criminals, by its real name, hasten to blame the helpless victims for surviving the recent genocide in Gaza and clinging to life, dignity and freedom.’

‘I salute you for being a “non-conformist”, because in a world overwhelmed by hypocrisy, immorality, human depravity, unethical expediency, and repulsive political correctness, it takes a true non-conformist to uphold true human values. And above all, I salute you for exposing and putting to shame the treacherous Arab leaders who played their fiddle while Gaza was burning’. The same is true of everyone who made this convoy possible.

Tonight Gaza reflects, stronger, with some more hope and belief than before. Viva Palestina was our lifeline for Gaza injecting love and hope into the veins of Palestinians. Tonight Gaza reflects on the ‘angels’ who came to town and they know that angels always come back.

Farid Arada (additional reporting by Clive Searle)

please click on this link to read more on the time they spent in Gaza

Proud Brits

21 03 2009

From the Yvonne Ridley reports on Viva Palestina


By Yvonne Ridley

I’VE never been a huge flag-waving fan of the Union Jack because to me it was largely a symbol of the old British Empire and all the bad things it once represented in terms of occupation, slavery, tyranny and imperialistic wars.

1966 changed my view to a certain extent when ‘we’ won the World Cup. It was one of those defining moments where we were all proud to be British.

As young as I was, I remember my mum remarking with glee: “Two World Wars and one World Cup” as she jigged around the front lounge with my late father – the old black and white box in the corner flickering monochrome scenes of jubilation from Wembley Stadium. In the final, almost agonising moments of extra time Geoff Hurst had just powered home his third goal to give England a 4-2 victory over Germany.

Apart from that historic occasion, I can’t really remember the urge to pick up the Union Jack again declaring to the world: “I am proud to be British”.

As Leo Tolstoy once remarked, such patriotism in its simplest form is nothing more than a “means of obtaining for rulers their ambitions” as well as a sign from us lesser mortals as our “slavish enthralment to those in power”.

So it was rather a peculiar feeling when I watched several members of Viva Palestina cloak themselves in the Union Jack for the final stages of our 5,000 mile journey from London to Gaza.

In truth, the British flag was flown throughout our marathon journey across nine countries and the message was loud, proud and clear at each border crossing: “We are British, the convoy is British and we support the Palestinian people.”

The last time a convoy bearing British flags had crossed North Africa in such a size, was the Second World War when the Nazis were being chased by the noble Desert Rats.

Our arrival in Morocco, and throughout the Maghreb, attracted the same initial reaction from the powers that be – all assumed the Viva Palestina Brits would be white, fair-haired and clean shaven so imagine their surprise when they saw in large numbers olive skins, hijabs, long black beards and Islamic dress. We might have looked more Tora Bora than Twickenham, but every one of us was a British passport holder, and proud to be so because what we were doing was exceedingly British.

If being British is about promoting equality, justice and fair play with the stronger person going to help the weaker then our convoy was red, white and blue through and through. We were representing the very best of British and on those grounds I felt proud to join in the flag waving. As I said before, I really can’t remember such a burst of spontaneous patriotism since 1966.

Viva Palestina was never just about 100 vehicles laden with humanitarian aid and 300 people led by George Galloway, MP. The reality is tens of thousands of British people were stakeholders in Viva Palestina having invested anything from a few pounds, to a shed load of money to help those living in war torn Gaza.

And so, when our very British convoy arrived in Gaza, we were also carrying the hopes, expectations and salutations of countless British people, of faith and no faith, who wanted to show the world that good, humanitarian things come out of the UK for Palestine.

The bombs and bullets and other weapons the British Government gives to Israel to use on the women and children of Palestine is not done in our name.

We cannot stop Gordon Brown from helping to arm the fourth largest army in the world, a military force which is currently being investigated for war crimes following the deaths of more than 1400 civilians.

But we can help repair the view the outside world holds on what it is to be British.

And just a few days ago 300 citizens, waving their Union Jacks, rolled in to Gaza to show the people of Palestine the real face of Britain.

What we did and what we achieved was done in the name of millions across the world.

The welcoming smiles on the faces of the Palestinians made me proud20to be part of the Viva Palestina convoy, proud of every man and woman on that convoy.

And that is something Gordon Brown will never be able to experience about his own convoys to the Middle East. Perhaps it is he who needs a lesson in what it is to be British.

Now pass me that Union Jack, please. Viva Palestina!

* British-born journalist Yvonne Ridley and Scottish award-winning film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani were on board the convoy from the beginning and are making a documentary charting the historic event.