The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) summarises its aims in this way:
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) campaigns for justice for the Palestinians. We also advocate for Palestinians’ civil, political and human rights, in accordance with international law.
Here is the Palestinian National Charter’s definition of a Palestinian:
“those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from it or stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father – whether in Palestine or outside it – is also a Palestinian.”
The Palestinian National Bureau of Statistics estimates that there are 11.2 million Palestinians worldwide.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) declares:
In Syria, UNRWA is mandated to provide health, education, and relief and social services to more than 486,000 Palestine refugees living in nine official and three unofficial camps. While Palestine refugees enjoy many of the rights of Syrian citizens, including access to social services provided by the Syrian government, development indicators reveal that they lag behind the host population in key areas, such as a higher infant mortality rate and lower school enrolment figures. Palestine refugees in Syria, like all Palestine refugees, remain a vulnerable population and live in uncertainty with regard to their long-term future.
Most of the Palestine refugees who fled to the Syrian Arab Republic in 1948 were from the northern part of Palestine, mainly from Safad and the cities of Haifa and Jaffa. A further 100,000 people, including Palestine refugees, fled from the Golan Heights to other parts of Syria when the area was occupied by Israel. A few thousand refugees fleeing war-torn Lebanon in 1982 also took refuge in Syria.
The PSC exists to campaign for justice for Palestinians.
On Sunday, the forces of the President of Syria bombed a Palestinian refugee camp, killing 25 people. The Independent reported:
Syrian forces and tanks gathered outside the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in the capital Damascus today, after at least 25 people were killed in an airstrike on a mosque in the camp on Sunday.
The upsurge in violence prompted a rare intervention by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who warned the Syrian administration not to drag the 500,000-strong Palestinian population in Syria into the now 21-month old civil war.
Here is the response of the PSC:
Terrible loss of life at al-Yarmouk camp
We support the rights of Palestinians wherever they are. As solidarity org we dont take sides in Palestinian politics or region.
We condemn bombing, hence description of loss of life as terrible. It is for Syrian people to determine their future.
Here you can see – no condemnation of the bombing, just condemnation of ‘bombing’. They describe loss of life as ‘terrible’, with no condemnation of President Assad, no calls for a boycott of Syria, and no protest outside the Syrian embassy.
They claim not to take sides in Palestinian politics, but surely a condemnation of President Assad’s deadly campaign against his own citizens, and also now his attacks against Palestinian refugees, is not taking sides. They also claim not to take sides in the ‘region’ – if so, then how would the PSC explain its implacable hostility to Israel, which is definitely ‘in the region.’
It is interesting how strongly the PSC feels about Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, compared to its ambivalence over the plight of Palestinians in Syria, and its reluctance to take sides against Assad.
The PSC Twitter account proved too much for Chris Doyle, of the Council for Arab-British Understanding. Doyle tweeted the PSC:
One cannot condemn Israel for bombing camps in Gaza and fail to condemn Assad for bombing camps in Syria.
<> The PSC and CAABU frequently lobby Parliament together, on behalf of the Palestinian cause.
I wonder whether CAABU will continue to work with the PSC in good faith (my guess is that it probably will).