Polish Palm Tree Dons Palestinian Scarf Against Government Meeting in Occupied Jerusalem

Polish Palm Tree Dons Palestinian Scarf Against Government Meeting in Occupied Jerusalem

For immediate Release

Thursday February 24th 2011

Today, Palestinian and Polish activists tied a giant traditional Palestinian scarf (Kuffeyah) around the iconic Palm sculpture in Jerusalem Avenue, central Warsaw.

The palm, which dominates Warsaw’s city-scape and appears on post-cards was created by Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska. Rajkowska is known for her advocacy for Palestinian human rights and work in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

The action is a response to the top-level meeting between Israel and Poland, taking place not in Israel’s diplomatic capital Tel-Aviv but Jerusalem – the Eastern part of which is recognised by the EU and United Nations as occupied territory. East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents have been subject to a violent eviction campaign by Israeli-state sponsored settlers and home demolitions for decades.

The meeting between the two governments includes Prime Ministers Benjamin Netenyahu and Donald Tusk as well as senior representatives from the Ministries of Culture, Defence, Intelligance and Foreign Affairs.

Poland, often described as Israel’s unofficial ambassador in Europe, seeks to upgrade military, research and development, and cultural ties with Israel.

Human Rights activists of the Polish Solidarity Campaign with Palestine have called the meeting a normalisation of occupation and apartheid.

It has also said that Israeli companies operating in Poland such as Egged, Eden, Elbit, and Rafael and the majority Israeli construction company owned  ASBUD are aiding and abetting war crimes and that their contracts should be cancelled until they cease to perpetuate Israel’s illegal occupation.

Artist and creator of the Palm Joanna Rajkowska said:

“The Palm has always been on the side of those who are absent, deprived of their voice or spoken for by others who have no legitimacy to do so. She has been a Jewish woman, a nurse, and a victim of climate change and right-wing governments in Poland.

This time she is the voice of opposition to the illegal annexation of Jerusalem and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine which the Polish government appears to encourage.

The Palm has always been and always will be a voice speaking up for all emancipatory and liberation movements. In this turbulent time for the Middle Meast, the Palm firmly stands on the side of radical democracy.”

In July 2011 Poland will take over presidency of the European Union.

Contact

Ewa Jasiewicz 511 162 549 (Kampania Palestyna)
Ala Qandil 533 277 207 (Kampania Palestyna)

www.kampania-palestyna.pl

Notes

This was an action entirely planned and carried out by Polish and Palestinian women activists

Italy and Germany are the only other countries to have had such meetings in Jerusalem.

Since 1967, around 2,000 homes have been demolished in East Jerusalem. According to official statistics, from 2000 – 2008 the Israeli authorities demolished more than 670 East Jerusalem homes. The number of outstanding demolition orders is estimated at up to 20,000. (Source, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions)

Between 2001 and 2009, 37 percent of all settlement housing units in the occupied Palestinian territory were located in East Jerusalem, reports the EU. (OCHA December 2010)

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reiterated last week that “the EU does not recognize” the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel, meaning structural changes to the territory are illegal under international law. (Ibid)

Palestinian human rights organisations: Aldameer, Addameer, Al Haq, Defence for Children International, Jerusalem Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Ramallah Centre for Human Rights, Womens Centre for Human Rights and Counselling, and Ensan Centre for Human Rights have sent a joint letter calling on the Polish Government to undertake its’ responsibilities to abide by EU and international law.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, Donna Baranski Walker, Awarded Medal of Gratitude by Poland in 2010 and founder of the Rebuilding Alliance, and Israeli academics, lawyers and activists from Boycott from within group have also written to the Polish government to contest the Jerusalem meeting.

See www.kampania-palestyna.pl for more details