Spot the Difference: A Holiday-Photo Guide to Israeli Apartheid


So how do you know if you’re in an apartheid state? Well, if you can look at a building, street or neighborhood with no people on it or in it and tell, just from looking, which of two groups lives there then you’re standing in an apartheid state. This is the case in Israel/Palestine and this blog will explain using photographs from my recent holiday in the area how to spot the difference between Israeli homes and neighborhoods and Palestinians homes and neighborhoods.

Take the photograph at the top of the page, which was taken in East Jerusalem, the area of Jerusalem that the UN considers part of Palestine but that Israel has been occupying, along with the rest of the West Bank, since 1967. The first thing you’ll probably notice about the picture is the big wall dividing the two communities. Before I went to the area, I naively assumed that the walls were to separate Israel from Palestine, for the “security” of Israelis. In fact, they are built by Israel on what is, according to the UN, Palestinian land and either divide Palestinians from Palestinians in order to make their lives as difficult as possible in the hope that they’ll leave the area or, like in the picture above, they divide Palestinians from Israeli settlers. Settlers are Jews from around the world who are paid, or heavily subsidised, by the Israeli State to live on land taken from the Palestinians.

The first way of telling which side is the Israeli settlement and which is Palestinian is the presence of the digger which is building a new Israeli home. For Palestinians, buildings (prisons excepted) aren’t built, they’re just destroyed. The second way of telling is that if you look closely at the far side, you’ll see little black boxes on top of each Palestinian block of flats. These are for storing water. The Israeli homes don’t have them because Israel controls the vast majority of the region’s water. The wells and water sources in the West Bank, the area the international community considers Palestine, have been seized by the Israeli military and exploited by Israeli water companies. These companies provide Israelis with running water at reasonable rates all year round. Palestinians receive water only haphazardly and the supplies are liable to be turned off at any time. As they need water, (it’s really hot), they are forced to pay for water to be brought in on a lorry, at extortionate rates, and to store the water in these black tanks. As a Palestinian Christian man said to me “we have to buy back the water that they have stolen from us”. According to Amnesty International, Israelis use 300 litres of water a day while Palestinians use only 70. The 0.5 million Israeli settlers in the West Bank use more water than the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. Israeli areas have swimming pools and gardens. Palestinians have these black tanks.

Another way of telling is the quality of the neighborhood and it’s public services. On the far left, you can see a nice well-tarmacked road. On the right, there are dirt tracks or no roads at all. This is because Jerusalem has an Israeli-Jewish Mayor. Although Palestinians and Israelis pay the same taxes, this Mayor spends 88% of his budget on West Jerusalem, the Israeli part of Jerusalem. Thus West Jerusalem has public toilets, regular bin collections, parks, leisure facilities,street lights and good public transport. Palestinian neighbourhoods are full of rubbish piled up, they’re dark at night with no street lamps, the roads have pot holes. If you didn’t know about the political situation you would think that the Palestinians don’t care about their own neighbourhood. You’d think they were lazy, dirty, animalistic people. This is exactly how they are painted by Israel but it’s a lie. They are forced into squalor and then blamed for that squalor.

bedouin camp

The picture above was taken deep in the Palestinian West Bank. In the Jordan Valley, near Jericho which irrelevantly but interestingly is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world and also the city furthest below sea level (unless you believe in Atlantis). In the foreground is a Palestinian “refugee camp” which has been there since these Palestinians were forced from their homes in 1948. They live in shacks and struggle for food, water and access to medicine. In the background is the Israeli settlement placed, as a lot of them are, on a hill in order to dominate the landscape. Even from this distance you can tell where you’d rather live and where the money is spent. We met the leader of this camp who told us that William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, came to visit the camp. He had the photo below up on his wall to prove it. Hague was shown this view of the settlement, which is illegal under international law, and he saw the contrast between the poverty of the camp and the luxury of that settlement. He said he had read about the settlements but it was good to see with his own eyes. The camp leader (the man pointing) was hopeful that, having seen the evidence, this important British man  would help them but the British government continues to trade with and support Israel.


Sometimes settlements are even easier to spot. The houses pictured below are settlers’ houses in the heart of East Jerusalem, Palestinian Jerusalem. Settlers aren’t shy about making themselves known and, with the backing of the occupying army, they don’t need to be. Palestinian flags, on the other hand, are a rarity, even in Palestinian neighborhoods. Palestinians don’t want to make themselves targets for the settlers or Israeli soldiers. Recently, there has been a sharp rise in the (always high) number of cases of vandalism and assault on Palestinians by Israelis in Jerusalem and the West BankNobody has so far been prosecuted and I highly doubt they ever will be.

israeli settlers housesettler 2settle 3

The picture below is a clear example of apartheid. It’s from the large Palestinian town of Hebron. Below the wire is the main market street where the Palestinians try and scrape a living. Above the wire live a few settlers, as marked by the Israeli flag. The wire has been put there by the Palestinians to guard against the barrage of rubbish, glass and stones which the settler family throw down at them. They have also been known to throw urine and acid. The man at the top of the photo is an Israeli soldier who’s job it is to protect the settlers from the Palestinians they are terrorizing.



London Gay Pride – A Reminder Why We Need Pride

The London Gay Pride march is this Saturday, the 29th of June.

Pride is many things: a carnival to rejoice in being fabulous; an opportunity to pick up that guy/girl of your dreams; just a great excuse to get drunk. However, we often forget what Pride is really about. These reasons are threefold.

Firstly, we come together to remember the sacrifices our brothers, sisters and otherwise defining siblings made to get us here. Members of the LGBTIQ* community have been persecuted throughout recorded history in one way or another. The constant threat of violence plagued their lives, be it domestic or in public, from common assault to rape to murder. As our community began to form into tighter groups to call for decriminalisation, police tactics became more brutal. We will never know just how many LGBTIQ* people were injured, killed or otherwise silenced during these periods. What we do know, however, is that this didn’t stop them. Pride marches take place around the world at the end of June to remember the Stonewall Riots, the turning point in the battle for rights, which birthed a movement bringing rights to LGBTIQ* people, even if only some rights for some of our community. We also remember the members of our community who slowly wasted away because governments decided that the AIDS pandemic was only about our community, and that it wasn’t worth fighting. We thank them for using their last months, weeks and days to raise awareness and make treatment and prevention avaliable to everyone. To not celebrate Pride is to ignore these sacrifices that let us come together to have this movement.

Secondly, we come together to speak up for other members of our community who don’t share the same rights as ourselves. Violence for people who openly identify as LGBTIQ* is still an everyday occurence in many parts of the world, and our country is no exception. We can demonstrate this through the horrific statistics compiled by the team behind the Transgender Day of Rememberence, who attempt to document the murders of trans* members of our community around the globe (see for more information). There are countries where homosexuality and defining as transgendered is illegal. Indeed, it carries the death penalty in some parts of the world. When we come together, we can use our collective voice to show solidarity with our siblings, but also to call on our own government to stop turning away LGBTIQ* asylum seekers who flee to the relative safety of our less than prefect society, and to put pressure on other countries to move to greater equality and more rights. To not do so is to abuse our own priviledge. The fight in every corner of the world is not over until every person enjoys the right to be who they are and to love who they love.

Finally, we celebrate Pride to acknowledge that there are still gains that must be won in our own countries. There will be people this year who say “what is the point of Pride now you can get married, you’ve got equality”. We have to stand up and say that this is not the end of our fight. Trans* people still face barriers to their healthcare, both in the process of transitioning and in everyday health matters. Young LGBTIQ* people are all to often ignored in school sex education. Most of all, our community still faces everyday discrimination, in our workplaces, educational establishments or just on the street. Full equality is the breaking down of every last barrier. There aren’t barriers still left, so much as an institutional Berlin Wall. Our job at Pride is to say we don’t buy it, and to tell everyone that we’re going to keep fighting.

These three reasons are why the London Young Greens are going to be at Pride this year, and we hope you are going to be too.

Below is a press release from the Federation of European Young Greens, which demonstrates the above reasons. Read and remember, the fight is not over.

Paul Cohen
Co-chair of the London Young Greens



On Saturday, 22nd of June the first Pride week in Skopje “Silence=Death” started and it started with violence. The violence in the social media started the same moment the Pride week was announced. On the opening day, Saturday, the threats on social media turnt into physical attacks.

All of this violent attacks were preceeded by days of social media hate speech and calls for organized violence towards the pride week organizers and LGBTI community. This violence was preceded the very same day by so called anti-gay parade protest initiated on facebook and followed by NAZI symbols and hate speech against LGBTI people.Only around 20 people were on that protest, however, after they left their gathering place (the main Church in the city) they went on the square where they have severely beaten up a minor and commiting a hate crime on the ground of religion and ethnicity. Later that day on the opening event in the LGBTI Support Centre, while the opening event was happening, around 40 masked people attacked the LGBTI Support centre,throwing stones, glass bottles and metal bar at the centre and the LGBTI activists, with the attention to destroy everything no matter the consequences. During the attack one policeman was hurt and the attack created fear and panic among the participants and guests.

“Even though this is not the first attack of the LGBTI Centre, it is the first one committed in the presence of people and during an event, hence it is our opinion that the intolerance towards the LGBT community is increasing” says Slavco Dimitrov, executive director of the Coalition “Sexual and health rights of marginalized communities”, organizers of the Pride week.

The Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) is condemning the violence and hate speech against the LGBTI people in Macedonia. We support Macedonian activists demands that the Ministry of Interior undertakes all the measures necessary to identify and arrest the perpetrators and also to work on prevention on homophobia and hate crimes. We also ask representatives of Macedonian government to condemn the violence publicly and start undertaking measures for promotion of the rights of LGBTI people, in stand of spreading homophobia in public speeches and policies. We ask representatives of the European Union to express political support and pressure the Macedonian government to swiftly elucidate the attacks.


Why Greens should fight the Arms Fair this September

By Joe Lo

For us, the Green Party has 4 key principles: peace, democracy, environmental survival and social justice. The arms trade represents the ultimate affront to all four and, in September, the arms trade, in all it’s blood-drenched finery, will come to London for the DSEI arms fair, one of the biggest in the world. The Green Party has led the fight in parliament against the arms trade and, in September, we should be on the streets of East London, with the Stop the Arms Fair Coalition, to meet it.

So why does the arms trade violate these principles? Well, with peace, it’s obvious. Some would argue that “guns don’t kill people, humans do”. Welsh comedy rappers, Goldie Looking Chain, would be more specific in arguing that “guns don’t kill people, rappers do”. While there’s an element of truth in this, there’s also significant evidence that the availability of weapons is likely to intensify, deepen and prolong conflict. Particularly in the era of modern wars that are increasingly fought by multiple, non -state actors who often have more to gain from conflict and the economic opportunities it presents than from peace. The availability of arms in Libya was a significant factor in causing the recent conflict in neighboring Mali. Syria could be the same. In 2011, 8 out of the 55 countries represented at DSEI were involved in major conflicts. Some of them, like India and Pakistan, are in conflict with each other. More simply though, there is a powerful truth in the argument that every bullet that kills a human being, is produced and sold somewhere, and, wherever that is, it can be resisted.

Secondly, democracy. As the Arab Spring showed, humans have a universal urge to control their own lives, to live in democracies. It is only the entrenched power of ruling elites that can prevent them. Power comes from arms and many of those arms are sold at DSEI. As I write this, Turkish citizens are being killed by security forces. Turkey is regarded as a “priority market” for weapons sales by the British government and came to the 2011 DSEI fair. Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia also attended that fair and subsequently used weapons against their own citizens to suppress democracy.

Thirdly, the environment. This argument is less obvious. Like many big businesses with image problems, the arms trade goes to great lengths to appear environmentally-friendly. The appearance of “carbon-neutral” bullets in 1999 grew widespread mockery. In fact, the environment may have the most to gain if the arms trade were to wither away. The millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money that is used to subsidise the arms trade could be pumped into a Green New Deal instead. Jobs may be lost in the arms trade but many more would be gained as renewable energy is a more labour-intensive industry. Supporters of the arms trade often argue that it helps protect our nation from it’s enemies. Firstly, it doesn’t. In some cases it literally provides ammunition for our enemies, (for example when a company part-owned by Britain’s BAE Systems sold missiles to General Gadaffi). Secondly, climate change is far more of a threat to our security than any enemy that could be defeated with conventional weapons. Despite this, successive British governments have pumped money into arms whilst only paying lip service at best to renewables. In 2011, the government spent 30 times more on research and development into arms than into renewables.

Finally, social justice. Both at home and abroad, the arms trade tramples over fairness. As mentioned above, it soaks up public money that could be used to raise the minimum wage or build houses for the homeless. It maintains these subsidies through lobbying. The former Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, said “In my time I came to learn that the Chairman of British Aerospace appeared to have the key to the garden door to Number 10. Certainly I never once knew Number 10 to come up with any decision that would be incommoding to British Aerospace“. Overseas, British arms companies are less subtle, often simply bribing corrupt public officials for contracts. In 2011, BAE Systems allegedly bribed the Attorney General of Tanzania to persuade him to buy an Air Traffic Control System. The system was sold at ten times the cost it should have been and, more importantly, Tanzania doesn’t have an air force so has no need for a military air traffic control system.

All this means that the DSEI arms fair simply must be stopped. What’s more it can be stopped. A similar fair in Australia was prevented from going ahead in 2008 by direct action, lobbying and mass protests. The Stop the Arms Fair Coalition is a broad, energetic and radical non-violent campaign group that is making huge strides towards making the Arms Fair impossible to run, or at least to renew. Green Party members should be at the forefront of the campaign, fighting for justice as strongly as we always have done. If the arms trade is stopped, it will be a huge step towards creating the kind of society we want to see.


EVENT: Young Greens Present: Will Kaufman’s “Woody Guthrie: Hard Times and Hard Travelin”

Will Kaufman’s WOODY GUTHRIE: HARD TIMES AND HARD TRAVELIN’ is a captivating “live documentary”, with songs of Woody Guthrie played live and dramatised in the context of the American 1930s – the Dust Bowl, the Depression, the New Deal and the state of popular music itself.


The Witch May be Dead but the Wizards are at Work

As I sign into my Facebook account last week, I am assailed with statuses about the death of Margaret, Maggie, The Iron Lady, Thatcher The Milk Snatcher, Attila The Hen- pick your favourite. A quick look on the Metro Online directs me to a list of tweets about her death- cherry picked for their forlorn tone- by the PM, Boris and Lord Sugar (his tweets suggest they select politically correct tweets over correctly spelled ones). Continue reading “The Witch May be Dead but the Wizards are at Work” »