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A talk to WSPSC by Dr Christos Giannou, Guildford 3 May 2016

Dr Giannou worked in Lebanon for the Palestine Red Crescent between 1980 and 1990 and was director of the only hospital in the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp during two years of uninterrupted siege in 1985-88. Later he became Head Surgeon of the International Committee of the Red Cross and retained his interest in Palestinian developments.

In an extraordinary coincidence, he had just met again the previous day one of his patients during the siege, Fatima Hilo whom he had treated in Shatila when she was 14, and she came with him to the talk. Fatima is a journalist and film maker based in London. Tennyson’s ballad The Lady of Shalott is about a woman confined in a tall tower who survived and escaped, choosing to join the land of the living. Were he writing today he might have called it The Lady of Shatila

A few dates for your diary:

Saturday 7 May:  Our next leafleting session will be this coming Saturday in Godalming.  We'll meet at Waitrose cafe at 10.30 am and then leaflet outside Waitrose and along the High Street.  Please join us if you can.
Thursday 12 May:  Next Branch Meeting to plan our forthcoming activities.  Please see the attached agenda and note also the change of venue as the room we normally use is not available this day.
Saturday 4 June: Hewlett Packard Boycott Day - details to follow.
Tuesday 14 June: Showing of the film Open Bethlehem in Guildford.  We are very pleased that the director of the film, Leila Sansour, will also attend.

Public Meeting in Guildford with Dr Christos Giannou

Tuesday May 3rd 2016, 7.30pm
St Nicolas Church Hall, Bury Street, Guildford GU2 4AW

Chris Giannou, a leading Canadian battle-surgeon expert, spent a horrific year as the only doctor in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut during its siege in 1985/6 by Shiite militias. His book “Besieged” gives an account of it.

 Over the past few months the mainstream media have been awash with stories of anti-Semitism whether in the Labour Party, on student campuses, or within the Muslim community. Although these stories have highlighted a handful of incidents of real anti-Semitism, many have conflated anti-Semitism and anti Zionism or equated criticism of Israel and activism for the Palestinians with anti-Semitic views. These accusations are part of a systematic attempt to close down debate and to shield Israel from criticism and political action in response to its treatment of Palestinians. Here is an excellent article by Ben White which exposes this agenda .


Other aspects of this campaign are the pressure on universities to ban speakers who oppose Israeli policies. For instance in 2015 the Board of Deputies of British Jews lobbied to have an international Conference at Southampton University on Zionism and International Law closed down. Under pressure the University postponed the Conference citing Police advice that the safety of attendees could not be guaranteed. Another thrust is the recent coordinated and malicious attacks by Jewish groups against the new President of the NUS Malia Bouattia. According to the Guardian (22/04/16) the new President of the NUS Malia has also come under attack from 50 heads of Jewish university societies because of her views on Zionist politics. One of them said ".. when someone attacks Zionism they're indirectly attacking Judaism as a religion because the two go hand in hand". Is this not indirect anti-Palestinianism?


PSC had a full page advert in the Guardian on 22nd April 2016, rerun in The New Statesman, highlighting our right to Protest. See link here .


Last week Zac Goldsmith had an interview with JTV in which he not only described Israel as "a shining light in an area of darkness" but described BDS as a cover for "a much older form of hatred", clearly meaning anti-Semitism: see link here . Ben Jamal of Kingston & Richmond PSC has written to Zac asking him to reconsider and withdraw these remarks.


PSC as an organisation has the commitment to anti-racism as its core. Israel is embarked on a clear strategy, utilising its allies across the world, to reframe us and all human rights activists campaigning on this issue as extremist, racist and divisive. We must challenge this but also not be deterred in our campaigning work. These attacks are occurring because Israel has identified BDS as its key strategic threat, because of the successes of the campaign.


Thank you all for your continued support and activism on behalf of the people of Palestine.


West Surrey PSC were in Guildford last Saturday leafleting.