Pride

Pride_by_Josh Jones

Bedouin children in the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The children of this valley are put at constant risk by the live-fire exercises that Israeli military conduct in the area. Their mother told me how soldiers would set off explosives of all sorts, from gas bombs to sound grenades, on the hill pictured behind. The ground is then left dangerous, as many explosives remain undetonated.

These children remain strong, and the older brother insisted I try riding his horse – which I did, bareback, for the first time in my life.

Thanks for dropping by – all comments are appreciated.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Milking

Milking_by_Josh Jones

While visiting the home of some Bedouin farmers in occupied Palestine, I was invited to try milking a sheep.

I was rubbish. Honestly, it’s harder than it looks. And it really feels funny, like a warm furry water balloon.

Later that evening, the farmers treated us to gallons of hot, sweetened goat’s milk. We left after nightfall, disturbed by their stories and humbled by their generosity.

A popular photo of mine depicts this boy and his little sibling, and can be found here.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Strength

Strength

Kalim, local councillor, shows me the positions in which he and other inmates of the prison were forced to stand for days on end.

This building was built by the British during the Mandate control of Palestine, and was later used by the Israeli military as a prison. In the late 90’s, the Israeli military pulled out, and most of the buildings have since been renovated. The building is now a community centre for local groups, arts and theatre.

Some of the cells and torture chambers, such as this one, lie hidden behind locked doors. They have been left to fall into disrepair, but significantly not demolished. Graffiti on the wall mimics the ‘agony position’, a sort of half-crouch, which the prisoners – almost all of them incarcerated for political reasons – were forced to endure. Kalim spent seven years, from the mid eighties to the early nineties, mostly in this jail.

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Twenty-four hours before, I was eating ice-cream in a water park. The smell of water is intoxicating in the Jordan valley – so many rivers have run dry because of climate change and Israeli water diversion, that to catch the moist scent of humid air always brings out smiles and gasps of pleasure. The owners of the park, five brothers, had given us the warm greetings we had become accustomed to in Palestine, and within minutes we were stuffing ourselves with shockingly sweet bubble-gum ice cream.

On the table we spread out a souvenir from Jerusalem: a map of Palestine and Israel, showing the Israeli ‘security wall’ that surrounds and divides much of the West Bank. Pink splotches represented Israeli settlements, and checkered pink showed the settlements of Gaza that were abandoned in 2006. Dotted, intangible lines marked the theoretical boundaries between Israel and Palestine, which now lie well neglected.

Somewhat dizzy from ice-cream, I sat admiring place-names. One of our group, with a air of sadness and of hope, indicated with a sweeping hand from East to West, from occupied Palestine to the coast of the Meditteranian, ‘One day. All this.’ His suggestion was that Palestinians might regain the land that was given away by the British to form the state of Israel. Kalim shook his head. ‘Not even that’, he said, ‘Let them keep their land.’ We fell silent. He was calm and spoke as though from a great depth. He said: ‘Just for us to be left alone.’

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I thought I knew what strength was before I came to Palestine. Really. I thought that if you could take a blow and not flinch, you were strong; that if you could risk your life in order to save what you loved the most, you were strong. That strength is about fighting for what you believe in.

I have met strong people, and by example they have shown me I was wrong. They do not fight; they do not take up the knife or gun, they do not preach violence or hatred. They have endured immeasurable suffering.

They are strong because in spite of their experience, in spite of every low feeling telling them to tear apart their oppressors, they have kept their humanity. They are still kind. They are, I can say for sure, the most peaceful people I have ever met. I see now that any old fool can pick up a gun and fight. It takes real strength to preserve your humanity.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Strength II

Strength_II

Khalim is sitting in the courtyard where he and other Palestinian political prisoners were kept chained and hooded. He explained how he was commonly kept awake there for a number of days; soldiers would pour freezing water over anyone who appeared to fall asleep. The courtyard was abandoned by the Israeli military, and has since been left untouched.

This courtyard is a part of a large prison, most of which has been renovated and turned into a community centre. This photo is the second of two, and the first is accompanied by some of my thoughts. You can read it here.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Al-Aqaba

Al_Aqaba

A man of Al-Aqaba, a village in the Tubas region of Palestine, shows us the demolition orders for the school, nursery, clinic and mosque that he helped to found.

If the orders are not challenged in court, which is a lengthy and expensive process, then all the buildings in the village will be razed by Israeli military bulldozers.

I should add something personal here to help the reader digest this, but honestly, I don’t know what to say.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Father

Father

A man of the village of Furush Beit Dajan stands before the mud brick structure that he and his family were forced to live in after their home was demolished. Having destroyed their home, the Israeli civil service have prohibited the family from making any repairs to the dilapidated farm buildings they now have to inhabit.

He told me how one of his sons, aged five, was recently bitten by a poisonous snake while he slept. The snake had entered through one of the many holes in the building. The father rang the hospital but on hearing his location, the person on the end of the phone said, ‘Sorry, no Arabs.’

The father attempted to drive his son to the nearest emergency hospital, at Nablus, but was blocked at an Israeli military checkpoint and forced to return home. His son died later that night.

I cannot imagine how someone can retain their sense of humanity after such an incident. As we sat over sweet Palestinian tea, the father told me he did not want retribution. ‘All I want is the right to build, and access to water and electricity’, he said.

Out there it seemed to make sense, but having returned to Britain I am more and more bemused by the stoic humanity of the people I met in Palestine.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Precious

Precious

Woman and her grandchild, in a small Bedouin tent in the West Bank, Palestine.

The soldiers from the nearby Israeli settlement use the crop fields around these tents for live-fire exercises. I spoke to a woman in the next tent who had been shot in the head by a rifle bullet while picking herbs in the middle of the day. She had survived with fifteen stitches.

I asked the woman pictured if she or her family had had a similar experience. ‘The bullets fly over our heads’, she said, ‘but so far, God has been kind.’

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008

London G20 Protests Demand Real Change

Graffiti on the Bank of England reads ‘People will stop robbing banks when banks will stop robbing people’
Photo © Josh Jones

1st April, 2009: Thousands of protesters gathered in London today to demand real results from this week’s G20 summit. Organisations including Stop The War, Climate Camp, CND and several Anarchist groups were joined by a huge number of non-affiliated UK citizens in protests across The City, London’s financial centre.

Continue reading “London G20 Protests Demand Real Change”

The database with your name in it: Police, protesters, and the press

A new report by The Guardian discloses what campaigners and peaceful protesters have known for decades: that the UK police are keeping details of thousands of peaceful protesters, whether or not they have been involved in illegal activity. It also shows the deliberate targeting of journalists and photographers by police surveillance teams.

Phototerrorism in the UK

Attacking a police oficer II
At last week’s Free Education protest, London.
Image © Josh Jones.

6th Mar, 2009: A new law has been passed which allows UK police to arrest individuals for photographing police officers, and confiscate their equipment. Section 76, introduced this year, makes it illegal for anyone to take or distribute photographs of Police or armed forces ‘which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.

This comes as alarming news in the context of the UK police force’s abuse of anti-terror laws every year since 2001. In Brighton, Sussex police enacted a widespread suppression of a peaceful protest, using anti-terrorism laws to make arrests.

The laws also allow police to further suppress democratic journalism. Last year, Somerset & Avon police had to apologise for the the violent arrest of a plumber who photographed a police van going the wrong way up a one way street. Now, such an apology would not be necessary, and the onus would be on the plumber to prove that he was not going to use the image for terrorist purposes.

Free Education Demo takes London

USSU at Free Edu Demo BW 25-02 - Josh Jones
Sussex University students take up the call to action.
Image © Josh Jones.

27th Feb, 2009: Over a thousand students gathered in London this week to protest against the UK government’s controversial ‘top-up fees’.

Since 2006, students at universities in England and Wales have had to pay over £3,000 a year for their courses, while international students pay around £9,000 a year. The government is now considering raising the maximum price for top-up fees to £6,000 a year for domestic students.

The demonstration brought students from around the country together to demand that the government scrap the fees altogether and reinstate free education for all. Delegations from universities as far and wide as Essex, Manchester, and Sussex travelled to the capital armed with banners, slogans, and high spirits. The march ended outside the London School of Economics, recently home to one of the thirty student sit-in occupations taking place across the country.

The march brought parts of London to a standstill, but the biggest effect that I perceived was on the protesters themselves. While police lines prevented the march from protesting outside Parliament, the sense of unity and common purpose among those present served to strengthen the resolve of the movement. It seems this was only the start of what is set to be a long and determined campaign.

Students maintain occupation of Sussex University

Press and Publicity working groups
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25th Jan, 2009: After five days of occupation, the students at Sussex University have entered negotiations with management. Meanwhile, other occupations across the country are sending their support and swapping advice and information.

Sussex Students hold Occupation for Gaza

23rd Jan, 2009: Students of Sussex University, UK, have made a symbolic occupation of lecture hall Arts A2 to show their support for the sufferers in Gaza and to call upon the University to take positive action.

The occupation started on Tuesday evening and has continued to hold a peaceful presence, allowing lectures to continue with minimal disruption. The demands that the occupiers have agreed on can be read on the facebook page or the blog.

It comes at a time when similar occupations are being held at Universities across the UK, including Warwick, Essex, Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan and others.

See the facebook group:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46788527758

Regular updates can be found on the blog:

http://sussexoccupation.blogspot.com

London Calling for a Free Palestine

Protesters in London demand UK action.
Image © Alex Mannion-Jones.

10th Jan, 2009: Protesters in London heard a diverse range of speakers call for peace in Gaza today. Leaders at the Muslim Council of Britain stood alongside Jews for Justice, Amnesty spokesperson Annie Lennox, and dozens of other UK-based social, religious, and human-rights groups, in the capital’s biggest mass demonstration since 2003.

UK citizens show solidarity with Palestine: Gaza demonstration in London attracts 50,000 protesters

The Palestinian flag waves outside the houses of parliament.
Image © Josh Jones.

3rd Jan, 2009: Thousands gathered in London today to protest the Israeli bombing of Gaza. Speakers demanded that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown use all our nation’s diplomatic and economic leverage to ensure Israel’s assault on the Palestinian territory ends immediately.

After a bill of rousing speakers, the protest officially ended, but thousands more marched to the Israeli Embassy to continue their protest. Fights broke out as police pushed back the crowd, but otherwise the day passed peacefully.

The number of protesters was almost overwhelming, and their passion encouraging. I only hope we have made a difference by coming out in such numbers; I only hope our government will listen to its people.

Metropolitan police arrive in great force to protect the Israeli Embassy. Image © Josh Jones.