‘We must campaign for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, and to also boycott goods and services to break the Israeli siege of Gaza,’ film director Ken Loach told the Gaza Conference of over 300 people in London on Wednesday.
‘Their behaviour is unacceptable is the message to them,’ Loach said at the event, part of the Palestinian Memorial week in the capital.
Condemning Israel as an apartheid state in international law, Loach urged the audience to pressurise the way broadcasters treated the Gaza issue with ‘equivalence’, reporting one Israeli bomb followed by a Palestinian rocket.
‘You cannot equate the violence of the oppressor with the violence of the oppressed.
‘People have the right to resist,’ Loach continued, against the clear Israeli aims, quoting Ben Gurion in 1938 who said: ‘We shall expand to the whole of Palestine.’
Loach said: ‘We have to campaign for a proper appraisal by journalists and broadcasters and pressurise them every time we see that happen.’
An Israeli state-sponsored film was withdrawn from the Edinburgh festival due to the cultural and academic boycott campaign, he concluded.
Afif Safiya, former Palestinian ambassador to the UK and Russia, said: ‘The Palestinian people have won the battle for public opinion.
‘It is Israeli government policy to acquire as much Palestinian geography as possible and is an ongoing process.
‘The Palestinian nation is against racism, especially anti-semitism, but we have been denied our existence.
‘We are wounded and bleeding but unbowed and undomesticated.
“Because of the ferocity of the Israeli oppression, European public opinion is standing with the Palestinians.
‘There should be one PLO, one state, and one solidarity movement.’
Safiya concluded by demanding: ‘Will the international community respect its obligations to the Palestinian people?
‘There is a state missing that needs to be created for the Palestinian people.’
Middle East expert Peter Eyre accused Israel of war crimes for using uranium-based weapons supplied by the US and also manufactured in Israel itself.
He said: ‘Gaza is being used as a test bed for US and Israeli advanced weapons.
‘Uranium-based weapons are a Weapons of Mass Destruction, are indiscriminate and have contaminated Gaza and Israel itself, which now has one of the highest rates of cancer in the world.’
He warned of the presence in the Middle East of MOABS, (Mother of All Bombs) bunker bombs capable of penetrating 200 feet underground before detonation and that their use against Iranian nuclear installations would contaminate the entire region with millions of depleted uranium nano particles within days and the whole world in three weeks.
He said: ‘Women in Faluja and Basra in Iraq are petrified at giving birth now due to the birth deformities caused by depleted uranium weapons in Iraq.
‘South Lebanon is also contaminated by Israeli depleted uranium which has a half life of 4.5 billion years and once people are poisoned, it will be passed on to their children.’
Eyre’s slide show revealed potentially vast oil and gas fields off the coast of Gaza which could provide billions of dollars to Gaza-Palestine but that the West Bank had no coastline.
‘The Palestinian Authority gave Israel and NATO permission to control the sea offshore from Gaza which has decimated the fishing industry, the only source of protein for Gaza.’
Eyre continued: ‘Israel is already “stealing” gas from a field on the offshore boundary between Israel and Gaza.’
Eyre concluded: ‘As the public, it is our duty to stop the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction.’
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn defended the right under international law to prosecute war criminals and condemned the government’s intention to change the law to abolish it.
He said: ‘Tomorrow I am going to Gaza with a delegation of over 60 British and European MPs because the Israeli government has claimed that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza even after the Judge Goldstone report revealed it.’
He condemned the UK government’s absence from the UN vote on the Goldstone report as worse than voting against it.
He continued: ‘Lawyers sought an arrest warrant against the Israeli minister Livi, as General Pinochet was arrested in the UK under international law because universal jurisdiction applies.
‘However the Foreign Secretary, Prime Minister, Foreign Office and their media machine said they would change the law.
‘But I am determined to keep international jurisdiction to prosecute war criminals from anywhere in the world.
‘The right of return is also enshrined in international law.’
Corbyn concluded: ‘There is not going to be any peace with a people in prison.
‘There must be recognition of Palestine and our job is to break the siege of Gaza.’
Ewa, an International Solidarity Movement witness from Gaza, showed a video of ambulance medics being shot by Israeli troops while trying to retrieve a Palestinian corpse from a Gaza street.
She appealed to the audience, saying: ‘Get behind the boycott campaign.
‘We need to stop the reproduction of the occupation with a comprehensive sporting, cultural, governmental boycott of the Israeli state.
‘But it is not an issue of boycotting shekels. Israel is funded by US dollars.
‘We need to divest from all Israeli corporations.
‘We need to overthrow capitalism all over the world.’
Liberal Democrat peer Jenny Tonge said: ‘We are going to Gaza tomorrow, 55 MPs.
‘The obscenity of Gaza; people have no escape.
‘The obscenity of Gaza is just a holiday flight away and is a blot on all our consciences.
‘We have a general election soon. Can we forget our problems and make Gaza an issue in this campaign. It must be solved.
‘Do not cast a vote for any candidate who will not pledge to work towards this goal.’