Archive for the ‘civil rights’ category

Hebron in Israel? Facebook’s curious Palestinian geography problem

June 21, 2019

This morning while browsing Facebook, I happened to see that a friend had been tagged in a photo in ‘Beit Lehem, Israel’. This, I though was curious. After all, Bethlehem is in Israeli-occupied Palestine, not in the Apartheid State of Israel.

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Maybe, I thought, this was a mistake tag and was actually referring to Beit Lehem HaGlilit (Bethlehem of the Galilee), a once-Palestinian town ethnically cleansed in 1948 and taken over by Israel farmers. But no, clicking on the ‘Beit Lehem, Israel’ link brought me to a page with a map of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. So, Facebook would have us believe that Bethlehem, or ‘Beit Lehem’, is not in Palestine, but in Israel.

Yet Facebook wants to have its colonial cake and eat it too, as it also lists – as a separate location – ‘Bethlehem, West Bank‘. West Bank mind, not ‘Palestine’. Indeed, Palestine doesn’t appear anywhere on Facebook city locations, as we shall see.

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I next searched for ‘Hebron’, and sure enough, there was both ‘Hebron, Irsael‘ and ‘Hebron, West Bank‘. Hebron is the largest city in the occupied West Bank, and is an Apartheid city par excellence, were the lives of over 200,000 Palestinians are dominated by the presence of around a 1,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the middle of the city, and a further 1,000 Israeli occupation soldiers who ensure Palestinians are utterly subjugated.  There are separate paths for Jews and Arabs, Palestinian shops have been forced to close down, the Ibrahimi Mosque has been partitioned, and settler and military attacks on Palestinian civilians are frequent. As a report on the +972 Magazine website puts it:

Hebron’s Jewish settlers have become notorious for violently harassing their Palestinian neighbors, all under the watchful eye and acquiescence of the IDF. Some Palestinian residents in the seam zone on and around Shuhada Street have literally built cages around their homes to protect themselves from the violent settlers. The souk in Hebron’s Old City is covered by metal netting to catch the bricks, urine and other objects Jewish settlers regularly throw onto Palestinian merchants and passersby.

By allowing Hebron to be listed as being in Israel, Facebook is not only acquiescing in such atrocious behaviour and violations of international law, it is actually helping to normalise them.

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In some respects, Hebron an Bethlehem are lucky. They, at least, get the designation of being in the West Bank. With the exception of Jericho, no other Palestinian city – whether the current de facto political capital Ramallah, the major cities of Nablus, Qalqilyah, Jenin or Tulkarm, or Gaza City with its population of 750,000 – gets any such designation. Instead, each is merely listed as a “City”, presumably existing as independent entities in some geographical ether. The same goes for Madjal Shams, the large Druze city in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, which international law recognises as being part of the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.

So what about Jerusalem? Unsurprisingly, ‘Jerusalem’ is listed as being part of Israel – with an image of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in the Israeli occupied part of the city to illustrate it. Curiously, however, also listed is ‘East Jerusalem‘ (this too exists in the same Facebook geo-ether as other Palestinian cities) – yet its picture is not of any of the most iconic images of the Old City – such as the above mentioned mosque – but simply a map.

Finally, what of the more than 200 other illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine and occupied Syria? It turns out that Facebook can’t make up its mind. Some, such as Ariel, Har Homa, and Gilo are listed as being inside Israel, while others such as the huge settlements of Ma’ale Adummim, Kiryat Arba, Beitar Illit, and Modi’in Illit, right down to the tiny Niran all exist as merely “cities” in undetermined locations.

A final Facebook geography fail is that while Israel not only exists as a ‘country location’, its entry comes illustrated by a satellite map of all of historic Palestine which does not delineate between the Apartheid state of Israel and the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories. Nice!

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Undoubtedly Facebook will claim that it is merely working off third party data like Wikipedia and its own algorithms to compile this data. But this is a nonsense – we all know that algorithms are not neutral, they reflect the values of those who program them. When it comes to such a contested and controversial situation as the Palestine-Israel question, Facebook in fact has a special responsibility to accurately reflect international law – not to merely draw arbitrary borders as it sees fit.

In its treatment of Palestinian cities and Israeli settlements – all of which are illegal and war crimes under the Geneva conventions – Facebook is actively aiding the normalisation of  gross violations of human rights and international law. It is helping to entrench Israel’s decades-long colonial occupation of Palestine and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. It is erasing Palestinain historical, cultural and national connections to their own homeland. It is literally wiping Palestine off the map.

And Facebook wants to lecture people about ‘fake news’?

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Audio of Public Meeting: The Right to Protest

September 21, 2018

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Below is the audio of a public meeting on the topic of ‘The Right to Protest’ hosted by the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee. It was held in the Teachers’ Club in Dublin on 7th September 2018.

LISTEN: Download the MP3 here (hosted by Archive.org)

The speakers were Liam Herrick (Executive Director Irish Council for Civil Liberties) and Malachy Steenson (human rights activist and lawyer), and the chair was Diarmuid Breatnach of the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee.

The Dublin Anti-Internment Committee is independent of any political party, and has been campaigning for years on abolition of internment of political activists, but also on occasion for the rights of political prisoners and framed individuals.

LISTEN: Download the MP3 here (hosted by Archive.org)

The Derry Civil Rights Song – 7″ Single from 1968

January 11, 2015

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Once upon a time this blog was about vinyl records. That was a long time ago, but occasionally I still post the odd… oddity. I came across this the other day while digging in the crates. A topical song by a group called The Moonlighters (presumably a reference to Captain Moonlight, rather than working two jobs) concerning an incident in the north of Ireland on 5th October 1968 which saw a violent attack by British state police on a civil rights march in Derry. If you’re interested in the historical background to the song, check out the CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) page here.

Regarding the song itself, I can’t find much – ‘The Moonlighters’ throws up only one reference on Discogs.com, and that’s to this same release. Billboard magaizne from 7th December 1968 says the following “Gerry Devin’s Monaghan-based Shamrock label released “The Derry Civil Rights Song,” promoted [sic] by the incidents of Oct. 5 when marchers and police clashed on the streets of Derry. It is by a folk group, the Moonlighters. . .”

monnlite1It would appear they were an ad hoc folk group formed for the specific purpose of releasing this single, which was released at some stage in November 1968, within in two months of the attack on the marchers. According to Discogs.com, Shamrock Records only released four other singles in its lifespan, though the IrishRock.org says of it that it was “active from the 60s onwards. Many colour vinyl releases. Similar to Glenside Records in content.” Of Glenside Records, IrishRock.org says it produced “a high incidence of very old fashioned renditions of folk ballads, with a high kitsch and sentimentality factor, and is probably of little interest to most collectors.”

The B-Side is a jaunty selection of Irish reels (instrumental songs for folk dancing to); The Sally Gardens, The Bag O’ Spuds and The Copperplate.

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I couldn’t find an upload (either video or audio) anywhere, so I’ve stuck it up on YouTube and TinyUpload (in MP3 format).  So here’s the song and its B-side. The lyrics (as best as I can make out) are posted below.


Download MP3


Download MP3

The Derry Civil Rights Song
(1968, Written by J. Doherty – Performed by The Moonlighters)

It was the fifth day of October and the sun was beaming down
And the people had assembled to march in Derry town
The police were there in hundreds and on mercy they did frown
As they freely used their batons that day in Derry town.

They’d assembled at the station as all free people might
And they peacefully marched up Duke Street as was their civil right
The police had formed a barricade and they told them turn around
Then they batoned men and women on the streets of Derry town

Oh come on ye Ulster policemen for its you that are to blame
Oh come on ye Ulster policemen you should hang your heads in shame
The shame that will go with you though you told the wide world round
How you freely used your batons on teh streets of Derry town.

Take heart you Derry people all the world knows of your plight
And that government in Stormont that denies you civil rights
The day is fast approaching when these men they must stand down
On that day we’ll march triumphant through the streets of Derry town