A first time visit to an anti-Israel event.

By richmillett
June 15, 2010

Guest post

With Israel, as ever, disproportionately in the news one activist goes to their first anti-Israel event and describes the experience:

“I attended the talk at Amnesty last Thursday evening for the book launch of Against the Wall: The art of resistance in Palestine. The book is a collection of photos of the artwork on Israel’s security fence.

Of many controversial points the book’s author, William Parry, showed a photo of a queue of Palestinians at a checkpoint near Bethlehem.

‘People are dying at checkpoints’, he then claimed.

The impression was of Palestinians dropping like flies at checkpoints from the trauma of waiting in line.

We then listened to two other speakers, one an artist and another, Jamal Juma speaking live on web cam from the West Bank. Juma is from “Stop the Wall” Campaign.

The talks were totally devoid of any smidgen of context as to what is really going on and why the security fence was built in the first place.

At the Q&A I had no intention of speaking out at all. I was there only to observe.

But then I thought back to my visit to Poland and how I had made a vow on the last day spent in Auschwitz never to walk in fear or shame around those who wish for our demise.

I also thought of all the wonderful Israeli friends and family I have here who have done nothing to deserve the blind hatred in this room. Am I going to sit here in silence, I asked myself?

When I was finally handed the microphone I repeated back to the author his statement about people dying at checkpoints and I asked if he had the statistics to back up his statement?

The panel looked blankly at each other and mumbled about statistics on some UN page.

I then asked whether we are talking one a day, one a week, one a month.

They looked baffled and asked Jamal on the live web cam.

Jamal didn’t seem to know either.

I then asked about the cause of deaths.

Up until this point they thought I was asking out of concern for this imaginary pile of corpses at checkpoints.

Suddenly the artist pointed his finger at me and asked whether I was daring to suggest it’s not terrible what’s going on there: ‘I think we all agree in this room it’s terrible.’

There was a rapture of applause from the audience who all looked at me in disgust whilst furiously shaking their heads in disbelief.

I shouted: ‘Yes, it’s terrible but he (William Parry) said they’re dying, so I’m asking about the deaths.’

How stupid of me to demand evidence. Facts? Evidence? How boring.”

For more:


Blacklisted Dictator

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 10:23

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Hi Richard,

Why do you have to be so rationally Jewish all the time, demanding evidence etc?

Can't you just be?

If you are told that they are dying like flies at a check-point, isn't that good enough for you? Why try and correct the narrative? Anybody would think that anybody is interested in the facts.


Tue, 06/15/2010 - 11:22

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Incidentally, I think Richard is quoting a friend, BD.
I saw this first on Richard's blog - which I recommend, along with Chas N-B's.

Blacklisted Dictator

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 11:27

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Might be worth identifying "the guest".


Tue, 06/15/2010 - 12:50

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“Just for the sake of clarity….

Where you state:
“The panel looked blankly at each other and mumbled about statistics on some UN page.”

Did they not in fact refer you to the website for the Website of the UN office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


and also the Red Crescent website as it lists all ambulance delays at checkpoints.”



Tue, 06/15/2010 - 14:14

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jon, a quick site-search for ambulances and deaths on both the un ocha and palestinian red crescent websites reveals nothing, except …

at http://www.palestinercs.org/humanitarian_Arch.aspx?cat_id=2 there is a complete list of all the 65 "Delays and Denial of Access of the PRCS Ambulances in the West Bank, 01 Oct. – 31 Dec. 2009"

strangely, the relevant columns (O and P) on the right-hand side cannot be seen
, but they are available for download from http://www.palestinercs.org/Reports/ViolationsOct-Dec2009.xls

where we can clearly see that in 3 months they claim 65 delays of prcs ambulances at israeli checkpoints, 51 for 20 minutes or less (and 36 for 10 minutes or less),

and (columns O and P) none involving "fatality" or "injury"

so (assuming, of course that those 3 months are representative) it seems that the oft-repeated claim of "people dying at checkpoints" (or because of them) is totally unfounded

so congrats to richmillett for standing up for the truth!


Tue, 06/15/2010 - 15:38

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A good place to start is here:


Look at the section marked checkpoints...


Tue, 06/15/2010 - 19:11

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jon, thankyou … you also seem to have found, as i did, that there were no references on the two websites you said richmillett should have tried

however, you have found something on the unispal (un system on the question of palestine) site, which (see homepage) "was established and is being developed by the Division for Palestinian Rights in response to successive General Assembly mandates"

the section you refer to says …

Palestinian civilians, particularly in the West Bank, have also died as a result of being unable to access medical treatment because of delays or obstruction at checkpoints. Since the beginning of the intifada, for example, 68 pregnant women have been unable to access hospitals and forced subsequently to give birth at checkpoints, resulting in the deaths of four women and 34 miscarriages.

The greatest number of deaths, resulting from denial of access to medical facilities occurred in 2001 and 2002 when 74% of the 46 deaths for this reason occurred. The number has dropped since then to between 0-4 deaths per year.

so unispal claim 34 deaths in 2001 and 2002 (combined), falling to about 0 now, as suggested by the palestinian red crescent report which i quoted above


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