Today is the funeral of Yacoub Abu Qian, the Palestinian schoolteacher murdered by Israeli police during the demolition of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran last week.

Meantime, this: Sir Desmond Swayne accuses Government of ‘significant shift’ on Israel after silence on Bedouin village demolition

Swayne, a decorated former soldier, asked the Government’s spokesperson about the Backbench Business Committee’s decision not to schedule a debate on settlements “and the destruction of Umm al-Hiran,” a Bedouin village.

He said: “Is there a possibility of a Government statement on what appears to be a significant shift in Government policy over recent days as we cosy up to the incoming American Administration in granting complete impunity to Israel?”

Source: Senior Tory accuses May of giving Israel ‘impunity’


Although I’m fast losing count of the names and number of Palestinians executed in the occupied Palestinian Territories over the past few weeks, this news story / obituary from Muftah about Hashem Azzeh lodged itself in my consciousness when I first read it a couple of days ago, and has stayed put ever since. Amid the insanity of summary executions, Washington Post claims of Palestinian blood lust, maps published then hastily withdrawn by MSNBC after a furore from the usual subjects, and Bibi’s latest lunacy, this man’s unwavering decency and courage stopped me in my tracks.

A few years ago, when my sister was very ill with breast cancer I had a conversation with my American step-mother about the horrors of that disease to which she had lost several close friends. In a moment of bitter, ghoulish humour, we joked about whose suffering we would be less moved by than that of the remarkable women we knew who’d been affected by it. Of course, we’d never wish such a fate on anyone but the news of this man’s horrific death brought to mind how we choose to live, who we choose to be and what we leave behind. It strikes me that Hashem Azzeh squeezed every drop of decency and humanity out of the indecent hand he was dealt.

To the mainstream media in this country, Hashem Azzeh is just another dead Palestinian. Fortunately, those of us with the energy to navigate the rabbit’s warren of alternative news sites online have the privilege of getting to know him a little, posthumously.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Hashem was not someone who could be cowed or silenced by fear. Even after being sentenced by the IDF to house arrest for several years, a punishment that caused him to lose his medical job with the UN, Hashem did not stop advocating for the liberation of his people.

He managed a psychological support group for members of his community, encouraging them to speak about the trauma that was a part of their daily lives. Together with his wife, Nisreen, he created a social enterprise for Hebron’s young Palestinian women, helping them to learn skills and earn money to support themselves and their families.”

Read more here: IDF Kills Hebron Peace Activist, Hashem Azzeh

In killing Hashem Azzeh, the Israeli government has undoubtedly removed a thorn from its side. But Hashem’s work does not end with his life.

This morning I woke up to find in my inbox an email from a human rights group urging me to contact the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding the Israeli attack on an aid flotilla headed for Gaza. Ordinarily, I would click straight through. Today I decided not to bother.

As a lifelong supporter of social and political justice for the oppressed and disenfranchised around the world, I’ve always added my voice to those of other like-minded individuals and organisations who speak out about atrocities such as this one. I have written letters and emails, attended demonstrations, made phone calls. These activities reflect the values I grew up with, and they’re the values people around the world ascribe to Canada.

I’ve lived in the UK for several years now, but my family is still in Canada and I return often. These days, I barely recognise the place. The contempt in which the Harper government holds Canada’s historical commitment to decency and human rights is on vivid display each day in the political thuggery and racism with which they pollute the Parliament of my country. This thuggery is enabled by the moral cowardice of the putative ‘opposition’ parties who are unfazed by Israeli aggression and Canada’s complicity in it. And it’s reflected in an utterly supine media whose relentlessly biased coverage lays the groundwork for equivocation and obfuscation when grotesque horrors like this flotilla attack occur. Tuesday’s convoluted editorial headline in The Globe and Mail – ‘Disproportionate force feeds propaganda against Israel’, whereby the ‘real’ story is propaganda against Israel rather than its own criminal behaviour – is just the latest example of this exercise in spin. The fact that the paper runs unchallenged the ludicrous and implausible claims generated by the IDF’s PR department is simply insult and injury in equal measure.

Left unchecked, the legacy of this government will be to squander irrevocably Canada’s good standing within the international community. The thing we seem to forget is that Canada belongs to Canadians, not to Stephen Harper. We’re the only people who can rescue our own history. It’s time we all reached for our lifebelts.