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MP Candidate Gordon Gregory: Israel has ‘no reason to stop occupying’

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A few days ago, I wrote to my MP Louise Haigh and Tory candidate Gordon Gregory, my potential MP representative in the constituency of Sheffield, Heeley, urging them to #VotePalestine and make sure Justice for Palestine is on their agenda.

“I am a Palestinian researcher and educator, born and bred in Jabalia Refugee Camp in northern the Gaza Strip which has turned uninhabitable according to the UN, due to an uninterrupted Israeli cycle of violence against the Palestinians that manifist more extremely in besieged Gaza,” I wrote introducing myself. “After years of feeling alienated by British establishment, for once I see hope with the policies that the latest labour manifesto supported, most importantly the UN-recognised right of return for Palestinian refugees and arms embargo on Israel. Justice for Palestine is an extremely important issue for not only me and my family who remain in Gaza at the receiving end of Israeli violence and British complicity, but many people in our constituency,” I emphasised before I asked them to participate in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s online survey.

The response of Gordon Gregory, the Tory candidate for Heeley, came as a shock, stating in one way or another that he wouldn’t represent me, but represent Israel’s systems of colonial occupation and apartheid. Using classic Zionist justifications for its collective punishment of a stateless people, systematically dehumanised and stripped of their basic rights, Gregory blatantly argued that Israel has “no reason to stop occupying.”

Here was his email to me:

Dear Shahd,
Thank you for your email,
I empathise with the suffering of the people in Palestine, I know people in my church who volunteer there, but I so not see and easy solution.  A two state solution is impossible when Hamas has a stated aim of the destruction of Israel, and whilst the leaders refuse to accept the existence Israel and continue to attack Israel, what is Israel to do?
If the violence from Palestine stopped then the Israel would have no reason to attack.  But whilst attacks are continuing and the existence of Israel is not accepted, they have no reason to stop occupying.
It is a difficult situation and horrible for the people involved,
sincerely,
Gordon

Below is my response to Gregory’s email, which should also be in his inbox. I’m publishing it in fear of my words going unnoticed, following his outrageous response which basically declares that I’d penalised from his representation before government if he gets elected!

Dear Gordon,

Thanks for your response. However, although you started by a empathetic statement, the rest is really disappointing and contradictory. You exhibited a classical tactic of blaming the victim and normalising the unacceptable actions of an occupying power against a stateless population who are dispossessed, demeaned, dehumanised and incarcerated since 1948 Israel’s establishment on our ethnic cleansing, facilitated by the British. Your argument feeds into the normalisation of our unprecedented oppression, rationalised by Israel’s right to massacre and dispossess the Palestinians in the name of self-defence. This logic rather supports Israel’s right to oppression.

International law recognises the fundamental rights to self-determination, freedom and independence for the occupied, as well as the right to resist occupation, even through armed struggle if necessary. This applies to the Palestinians who are undergoing the longest standing colonial occupation of our modern history. Even if Palestinians were to “stop the violence” as you suggested and submitted to their enslavement and dehumanisation, Israel will never stop its uninterrupted violence which was devoted to break the Palestinians’ will for freedom and depress their aspirations for self-determination since its pre-state era, and Israel showed consistently and systematically ever since how it is willing to invest everything in its mighty power to do so.  It doesn’t take a genius to see who the underdog is, and that such an oppressive system, like South Africa Apartheid, is not sustainable.

How would you justify the illegal military occupation, constant harassment of Palestinians at military checkpoints and the Israeli consistent campaigns of house-demolitions and arbitrary detention? The brutal siege on Gaza, the systematic indiscriminate acts of “mowing the loan” in Israeli parlance as well as the brutal repression of Gaza’s Great March of Return peaceful protests? The ever expanding settlement project and the associated theft of land and ethnic cleansing campaigns (a flagrant violation of International Law and the 4th article of Geneva Conventions)? The systematic racist denial of Palestinian refugees to return to their dispossessed homes according to UN resolution 194 of 1949? Your response unfortunately jumped over too many details to conclude that Palestinians deserve Israeli occupation’s brutality for not passively taking it, which is a typical imperial and short-sighted analysis.

We’re on the verge of witnessing a humanitarian explosion in the besieged Gaza Strip, caused by 7 decades of colonial oppression and acts of collective punishments which is banned under International Law, and you loosely use Hamas’ Zionist card, Israel’s necessary bogyman, to justify Israeli crimes? I expect my MP representative to be more responsible than that. To your knowledge, Hamas was only founded in the late 1980s. Before that, Israel has always needed to demonise the Palestinian natives and manufacture justifications for its illegal and criminal practices dedicated to maintain its apartheid and settler-colonial structures at the expense of our erasure. If you ever humble yourself enough to put yourself in the place of a Palestinian child, punished from their cradle for their identity, you would realise that resistance to oppression is not only a natural response but also a duty.

Living under military occupation is something you will never understand as you were never at the receiving end of this uninterrupted aggression. In fact, Britain was historically the perpetrator of such colonial occupations. The aggression we endure now is Britain’s responsibility which started with 1917 Balfour Declaration which ignored Palestine’s indigenous population and continues to do so in other means whether by welcoming war criminals for official visits or continuing to license arms sales for Israel so they ‘battle-test’ them on us. It would only be logical that you correct what your country committed against us since 1917 but I understand how entrenched imperial and colonial thinking is, and it takes active unlearning and searching within one’s soul to be liberated from such attitudes.

As a refugee and a survivor of many Israeli systematic campaigns of mass murder and destruction, I don’t expect you to understand the colonised perspective but I appeal to your conscience to do the right thing when it comes to Palestine given its urgency! Stop Arming Israel. We want to live in a world where all lives matter and justice and equality prevails.

Best,

Shahd

Shahd Abusalama

Shahd Abusalama is a PhD student on Palestinian cinema at Sheffield Hallam University, born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp, northern Gaza, Palestine. She is an artist, activist, the author of Palestine from My Eyes blog, and a co-founder of London-based Hawiyya Dance Company. Follow her on Twitter at @ShahdAbusalama.

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19 Responses

  1. Citizen on December 11, 2019, 11:28 am

    Amazing how easily politicians ignore facts, eh?

  2. eljay on December 11, 2019, 1:09 pm

    Mr. Gregory’s Zionist “logic” in brief: Those women chained in the basement need to lie back and enjoy the ride. They have only themselves to blame if they lash out and, in response, are beaten.

    Zionists are truly hateful and immoral people.

  3. brent on December 11, 2019, 4:07 pm

    Shahd, you’ve written passionately and eloquently… it’s painful to read. I wonder about the impact on Gordon. Will he say, I hear your pain? Will he ask you to respond to the concerns he expressed? Will he agree you have the right to use violence to prevail upon the injustice, to right the wrong? If so will he agree it is prudent or constructive to exercise that right under current circumstances?

    Gordon has a superficial understanding or he would not have written, “If the violence from Palestinians stopped then Israel would have no reason to attack.” (more likely the opposite) He’s buying the very common perception that Israelis yearn for peace while the Palestinians refuse their existence and employ violence to expel them. Not taking into account that Israel provided Hamas their first weapons precisely because violence enables objectives. Gordon’s analysis also tacts the position of the majority of American politicians and complicates efforts to effect political change here.

    Gordon says, “whilst attacks are continuing and the existence of Israel is not accepted, they have no reason to stop occupying.” Is that not his way of saying “attacks” are standing in the way of his support toward bringing an end to what he identified as a horrible situation? You seem to be talking past each other. He says to stop the attacks while you say stop arming Israel.

    The goal, “a world where all lives matter and justice and equality prevails” would be better served by hearing each other. Both concepts seem prudent to me. Israel needs a wake-up call and Palestinians the same as there are more powerful ways to resist.

  4. MHughes976 on December 11, 2019, 5:34 pm

    Mr. Gregory speaks for majority opinion in the UK, I think. Those who think like that also think that their opinions are common sense. Corbyn is being ground into the dust (it seems) because of he once – he has been very reticent in recent years – thought and spoke rather differently. This process reflects how most people think of the matter and of how powerful the accusation of anti-Semitism is. The ascription of good will and good faith to Israel, even to Netanyahu’s Israel, seems totally normal. We have an uphill struggle on our hands.

  5. Misterioso on December 12, 2019, 9:30 am

    Attention, Gordon Gregory:

    Your inexcusable and gross ignorance of the causes and nature of the conflict between “Israel” and the native Palestinians is beyond words.

    Here’s just one example of the horrors Palestinians face under the brutal boot of Zionists:

    https://www.juancole.com/2019/12/systematic-palestinians-detention.html

    “The Systematic Torture of Palestinians in Israeli Detention” by Yara Hawari, Informed Comment, Dec. 5/19

    EXCERPT:
    The recent case of Samer Arbeed highlighted once again the systematic use of torture against Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. Israeli soldiers arrested Arbeed at his home in Ramallah on September 25, 2019. They beat him severely before taking him to Al Moscobiyye detention center in Jerusalem for interrogation. Two days later, according to his lawyer, he was hospitalized as a result of severe torture, and lay in critical condition for several weeks. A judicial body had authorized the Israeli Secret Service, the Shin Bet, to use ‘exceptional methods’ to extract information in this case without going through the courts. This led Amnesty International to condemn what happened to Arbeed as ‘legally-sanctioned torture.’

    “In August 2019, shortly prior to Arbeed’s arrest, the Israeli occupation forces began a targeted campaign against Palestinian youth and arrested over 40 students from Birzeit University. The arrests increased after Arbeed’s detention and, as many of the students have been denied access to lawyers, it is expected that many have also been subjected to torture.

    “The above actions are nothing new. Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) has been systematically torturing Palestinians using a variety of techniques. And though many countries have incorporated the prohibition of torture into their domestic legislation (despite it remaining a widespread practice under the guise of state security), Israel has taken a different course: It has not passed domestic legislation prohibiting torture’s use, and its courts have allowed for torture to be used in cases of ‘necessity.’ This has given the ISA free rein to use torture extensively against Palestinian political prisoners.

    “This policy brief focuses on the use of torture in Israeli detention (both upon arrest and in prisons), tracing its historical as well as most recent developments. Building on the work of various Palestinian organizations, the brief argues that the practice of torture, embedded in the Israeli prison system, is systematic and legitimized through domestic law. It outlines clear steps for the international community to hold Israel to account and bring an end to these violations.”

  6. Vera Gottlieb on December 12, 2019, 9:51 am

    So tiring…the usual Zionist bs! And if israel treated Palestinians like people, and not like dogs, Palestinians would have no reason to rebel. Typical Brit…after all, let us now forget the Britain was an expert at “occupation”.

  7. JulianaFarha on December 12, 2019, 1:31 pm

    Is this guy likely to win? And did Louise Haigh reply?

    • MHughes976 on December 13, 2019, 2:23 pm

      The glad news is that he didn’t win. But that’s not very much good news from the UK today.

      • MHughes976 on December 13, 2019, 5:33 pm

        Our election overall result is, I say without joy, a mighty triumph for Israel and Zionism. Every progressive leader round the Western world will read of Corbyn’s fate. Every activist who is about to say something about Palestine will think twice, maybe swallow hard and decide to talk about healthcare or climate change.

      • RoHa on December 13, 2019, 11:52 pm

        I think the vilification campaign will be the warning. I’m not sure how much effect it had on the election result.

        From this side of the world, it looks to me as though Brexit was the key issue. For some reason, Corbyn simply could not place himself as an enthusiastic Brexiteer.

        I note that both Labour and Tory remainers lost their seats.

      • echinococcus on December 14, 2019, 3:15 pm

        RoHa,

        I think it will be exceedingly hard to extricate from each other the respective roles of 1) Corbyn’s treason to his promise to a prompt exit without a second vote, and 2) Corbyn’s treason to his working-class base by abjectly capitulating to the Blairite varmint’s, accepting Zionist racism and expelling party comrades.

        Who in his right mind votes for such a candidate, ever? But then the same thing may be asked of almost all US voters, too.

      • RoHa on December 14, 2019, 8:36 pm

        “Corbyn’s treason to his working-class base ”

        The Labour Party stopped paying attention to the working class years ago. I was in Britain at the time and saw the party being taken over by the artsie-fartsies. When John Smith “had a heart attack”, the party was becoming Blairite.

      • echinococcus on December 15, 2019, 12:45 pm

        RoHa,

        But Corbyn qua Corbyn had a strong working-class base, his job being that of gathering said base back to the now degenerate fold. And, of course, delivering it to the dogs.

  8. Talkback on December 12, 2019, 2:21 pm

    Wow, Israel is far ahead when it comes to technology and AI. Gregory almost doesn’t sound like a Zionist propaganda bot. Allthough they have to do something about his face. His smile looks to artificial.

    Btw. how can someone maintain a belligerent occupation without violence against the occupied people even if they don’t resist at all?

  9. Elizabeth Block on December 12, 2019, 5:39 pm

    I once asked Margaret MacMillan, the distinguished historian (“1919” and other books), whether she thought that if the Palestinians had adopted nonviolent resistance from the beginning, and stuck to it, they would have gotten anywhere. She said no.

    The real reason Israel has no reason to stop occupying is that no one is prepared to force it to do so. As long as Washington keeps writing the cheques, it will go right on. Why should it stop?

    • Talkback on December 13, 2019, 9:49 am

      Exactly. Palestinian non-violence will lead to nothing. (India wasn’t non-violent either). But the problem is that Israel has no consciousness at all when dealing with Nonjewish protesters or even those who legitimately attack Israeli forces. Israel has resort to terrorizing every Palestinian through collective punishment, extrajudicial killings and its killings of civilians, including the elder, women, children and even journalists and medics. It basically violates almost every humanitarian rule that was established during the Nuremberg laws and sometimes even worse, including the nightly abductions of children and torturing them. It treats the Nonjews of Palestines as subhumans. Sometimes based on ideology, other times on religions and all of the times, becaus its perpertrators are not human(e) at all. And as long Palestinians will use violence against Israel, even it is legitimate violence against its military, Israel will always have an opportunity to distract from the real reason it will never end the occupation.

      Israel-Palestine: the real reason there’s still no peace
      The possibility of a lasting deal seems as far away as ever – and the history of failed negotiations suggests it’s largely because Israel prefers the status quo
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/16/the-real-reason-the-israel-palestine-peace-process-always-fails

      • RoHa on December 14, 2019, 1:07 am

        “India wasn’t non-violent either”

        Indeed. The importance of non-violent resistance in India is generally exaggerated.

        But the situation was quite different from that if the I/P situation. Three important differences.

        1. The British had political and economic control over India, but there was no wish to drive out the Indians and take the land.

        2. The British people regarded Indians as allies rather than enemies. (Indian troops had defended Britain in both world wars. Indians had been elected as MPs.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_minority_politicians_in_the_United_Kingdom#List_of_ethnic_minority_Members_of_Parliament)

        3. Both the USA and the USSR were keen to break up the British Empire, and so supported the independence movement.

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