This weekend saw the beginning of Welcome to Palestine, an initiative aimed at bringing solidarity activists from around the world together in Palestine for a series of conferences, social events and solidarity work such as help in building a school in Bethlehem. Three activists from York participated in the event – or at least intended to. The activists, Terry Gallogly, Mary Watson and Carol Pearman, are members of the York Palestine Solidarity Campaign and had aimed to help break the isolation faced by Palestinians as a result of the Israeli occupation and blockades.
Prior to the start of the event, activists from across Europe – including the York delegation – reported having had their tickets cancelled at the last minute on the orders of the Israeli government (letter from the Israeli government to the airlines, letter from Jet2 to customers). Activists at Manchester airport staged an impromptu protest against both their being denied travel and Jet2 refusing to refund their tickets, a decision on which the airline later backed down. In Israel, meanwhile, 40 pro-Palestine activists were arrested at Ben Gurion airport.
Updates can be found at WelcomeToPalestine.info and the #airflotilla2 blog and Twitter feed. Leehee Rothschild, an Israeli anarchist who spoke in York last September, has also been providing ongoing coverage on Twitter.