There was a double-event at the Mother Earth Hall in Grand River North West on Friday evening 1 August in support of the people of Palestine.
LALIT organized a “teach-in” on the new situation in Palestine, with the collaboration of the Centre Idriss Goomany and the Confederation of Private Sector Workers, and afterwards the Film Club that meets at LPT, Fim-Klib, held a showing of the new Sylvie Leclezio documentary for Australian TV, “Stone Cold Justice: Zionist Terrorizing Children”, with the cineaste presenting the film in person.
But the planned events were preceded by an event staged by the police. Outside the LALIT headquarters were banners saying respectively (in translation): “USA: Responsible for Genocide in Gaza”, “Boycott Israel!”, “Free Gaza”, “Long live Palestine” and “Isolate Israel”. Everything was in order. When suddenly a police jeep pulled up and two officers began to take down the banners, one at the GRNW roundabout and one on the wall of the LALIT headquarters. LALIT members Alain Ah-Vee, Ram Seegobin, Lindsey Collen, Ragini Kistnasamy and Rajni Lallah came out and stopped the police officers, saying the banners were perfectly legal, and also reasonable. The police officers said they had orders. Dozens of other people who had come for the “teach-in” came out from the upstairs hall while the confrontation went on. Half the people present were women. A third police officer was dropped off by a Rapid Intervention car. Soon two Riot Police Jeeps arrived and parked in the National Car Centre next door. Already, the incident, which was at rush hour on the main road, caused a traffic jam as motorists, lorry drivers and motor-cycles slowed down either to see what was happening or to show support for LALIT against the police. But, eventually orders were received by the police present not to go ahead, and to avoid challenging the LALIT banners or arresting anyone. For many present, it was their first experience of how to confront the police.
The “teach-in” then went ahead, with a skeleton guard on the banners.
The packed Hall was laid out in two half-circles, with two moderators on each of the sides where the half-circles met: Alain Ah-Vee and Reeaz Chuttoo, Imran Dunnoo and Kisna Kistnasamy. Alain Ah-Vee situated the context, in particular, the need to go beyond seeing only the humanitarian aspect every time there is a crisis time, or going into the convolutions of religious conflict. Neither of these addresses the source, nor the possible resolution. The four issues being concentrated on, Alain Ah-Vee suggested were: the need to stop the US role as supplier of weapons to Israel and then ridiculously posing as peace broker; the role of Israel as anachronistic colonizer; the contradiction for Israel of posing as a “democratic” state and being a religious one; and the genuine problem of a European and ex-Soviet problem of anti-semitism being externalized on to Palestine.
Then, one by one, those present gave their opinions, points of view, and analyses. A resolution was taken to have a strategy meeting. This was planned.
After a half-hour break around samousas and “gato banann”, panakon, tea and coffee, the second part started. Sylvie Leclezio presented her film. She said the aim of their team was to highlight the different treatment given to young people under Israeli jurisdiction, whether in Settlements or in Palestinian villages. She said their team aimed at a certain degree of objectivity, as journalists. But, the film itself is a hard-hitting indictment of the double-standards of the Israeli army and State. The feeling of the film, however, is a poignant one, because it moves, with fine sensitivity, into the experience of three adolescents and a 5-year old boy arrested by the Israeli army: the intentional terror inflicted in order to get “confessions” (not unlike the torture meted out by the Radooa team in Mauritius). The confessions the police wanted were for “throwing stones”. An entire State apparatus descends on these children. The trauma they suffer is shown without sentimentality, but with deep sentiment. And this is what stays in your mind, after seeing the film. You are also left with the deepest respect for the lawyers (an Australian man and an Israeli woman) whose lives are dedicated to defending the children, and for the YMCA man who helps re-give the youngsters who have suffered this trauma, against all the odds, their love of life. The film clearly shows the State apparatus of Israel as the thinking, the acting, and the covering up of these crimes against children. Clearly not the Israeli people.
During question time, she said that they had found that increasingly ordinary people in Palestine were no longer in favour of the “two-state solution”, which settlements (colonies) had not only made non-viable, but had been designed according to an Israeli woman in charge of planning colonization, to make a Palestinian state not viable.
Present, again with a full Hall – some people having had to go home after the first event because of transport problems, and others only arriving for the second because of the time they finish work – were people from all areas, all walks of life, and different social classes. Always loyal to the Palestinian cause, former President of the Republic, Cassam Uteem, with a young family member, was amongst those present.
Afterwards, everyone shared a huge vegetable soup and ate a “dipin mezon”.