Palestinian ambassador to UK wades into Balfour train advert row

Updated 31 October 2017
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Palestinian ambassador to UK wades into Balfour train advert row

LONDON: The Palestinian Ambassador to the UK has hit out at a move by London transport chiefs to block an advertising campaign pegged to the anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
The campaign was intended to be featured on major metro stations across the capital to coincide with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the now infamous document announcing British support for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine in 1917.
Transport for London (TfL) rejected the posters, which showed life in Palestine before and after the establishment of Israel – contrasting peaceful street scenes with images of refugee camps and destroyed buildings. TfL said the images “did not comply fully with our advertising guidelines.”
Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian on Tuesday wrote to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to express his concerns about the decision.
“This overtly rough-handed attempt by TfL to silence our voice has forced me to re-consider the attitudes of the Mayor’s office to the Palestinian Mission,” he wrote in extracts of the letter seen by Arab News.
“In fact, it demonstrates a deep lack of respect and understanding of our legitimate right as people to self-determination and to the freedom to tell our story in London, a global capital, which routinely gives a platform to all voices and to everybody’s story.”
The photographs show quotidian life in the streets of Palestine before the creation of Israel in 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee.
“100 years ago a developing, increasingly progressive society was stamped out at the stroke of 67 words. Today the legacy of the British government’s broken promise still continues,” the posters read.
The posters are part of a campaign called Make it Right, which seeks to educate British citizens about the Balfour Declaration and what is claimed to be the historical responsibilities the UK has to Palestinians.
While known as a seminal document in the history of the creation of the Israel, the letter Lord Arthur Balfour penned emphasized that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
The stark images in the Make It Right campaign, however, aim to highlight the Palestinian case that the bargain has not been upheld equally.
Still, preventing open debate around the subject is not the answer according to Yossi Mekelberg, a professor of international relations at Regent’s University in London.
“We have to adhere to freedom of speech,” he said.
While he had not seen the images, Mekelberg said unless “there was good reason to think this would create a public disturbance and riots would start on the Underground (train network),” they should have been permitted.
Hassassian’s letter to Khan, however, stressed the images in the rejected advertisements were far from objectionable and said the move was a sign of bias at TfL.
“Our campaign is very simple and factual in content. Its images are neither disturbing nor controversial. The fact that a campaign such as this, which aims to give voice to the Palestinian narrative was summarily suppressed, demonstrates the ugly reality that there may be respect for diversity for all in the capital, under your stewardship, but not for the Palestinians,” he wrote.
The ambassador also raised the matter with Alistair Burt, the minister of state for the Middle East, on Monday.
At the time of publishing, the Palestinian Mission had not received a response from the mayor’s office.
Last November, another poster drawing attention to the Balfour Declaration was approved by the TfL and displayed at Westminster station.
It was not immediately clear why that one was permitted while this latest campaign was rejected. TfL said only that the former campaign had a “different” design.
While the new posters will not be appearing on the London Underground train network, they will be displayed on taxis in the capital.
A representative from the Palestinian Mission said the taxi advert campaign was set to launch on Monday.


Archeologists discover pregnant woman with fetus in Ancient Egyptian burial site

Updated 2 min 2 sec ago
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Archeologists discover pregnant woman with fetus in Ancient Egyptian burial site

  • The woman was found in a grave-pit, inside a small cemetery, with the skeletal remains of the unborn baby still in her stomach
  • The grave in Kom Ombo, in Aswan province, is more than 3,500 years old

CAIRO: An Italian-American mission has discovered an ancient tomb containing a pregnant woman and her fetus during an archaeological dig in southern Egyp

The woman was found in a grave-pit, inside a small cemetery, with the skeletal remains of the unborn baby head facing down still in her stomach, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said.

The grave in Kom Ombo, in Aswan province, is more than 3,500 years old, Dr. Mostafa Waziri, the General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said on Wednesday. 

The study found the woman was around 25 years old when she died, and her death could have been due to a problem with her pregnancy.

That the baby was positioned head-down, meant the team believed the mother and child could have died during childbirth.

“There’s something very poignant and quite sweet about it, but also very sad,” Nigel Hetherington, an Egypt-based archaeologist and heritage consultant said about the find.
The find was made by the Aswan-Kom Ombo Archaeological Project (AKAP), led by Yale University and University of Bologna. The project has investigated selected areas in the Aswan-Kom Ombo region since 2005.

Preliminary analysis of the mother’s corpse also revealed that the woman’s pelvis was misaligned, which could have been a fracture that hadn’t healed properly.

Waziri said the injury could have been the cause of the labor problems.

The skeleton in the grave pit was found wrapped in a leather burial shroud.

There were also two pottery vessels in the grave – one a small jar, the other a fine bowl that appeared to have once been polished in red on the outside, and black on the inside, a Nubian style; this kind of vessel was popular in nomadic communities. 

The vessels were presumed to be offerings carried into the woman’s afterlife. This was why ancient Egyptians tended to pray to female deities like Hathor, Taweret, and Bes.

The archaeological mission also found numerous unfinished ostrich eggshell beads and black fragments, which Dr. Waziri also speculated was an offering.

Scholars think that beads were being offered to the woman because she could have been a bead maker for a living.

“The beads were common, but they were for the burial for the poor, since they weren’t gold beads, it makes sense,” Ahmed Salah, an Egyptology graduate from the American University of Cairo, told Arab News.

Kom Ombo is about 48 kilometers north of Aswan, east of the Nile River.

Recently, three tombs of cats were also found at a pyramid complex in Saqqara, Egypt, as well as four other sarcophagi at Khufu-Imhat’s site.

Egypt Ministry of Antiquities has been revealing many ancient Egyptian discoveries recently.

Egypt is trying to boost tourism, which is on the rise after significantly dropping since the 2011 Arab Spring.