As he sat in prison he dreamt of seeing the end of apartheid both in South Africa and Israel. Half of the dream has been fulfilled.
Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
REMARKS BY NELSON MANDELA IN CAPE TOWN ON 11 FEBRUARY 11, 1990 AFTER HIS RELEASE FROM VICTOR VERSTER
NELSON MANDELA’S ADDRESS TO RALLY IN CAPE TOWN ON HIS RELEASE FROM PRISON
11 February 1990
Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans.
I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all.
I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
On this day of my release, I extend my sincere and warmest gratitude to the millions of my compatriots and those in every corner of the globe who have campaigned tirelessly for my release.
I send special greetings to the people of Cape Town, this city which has been my home for three decades. Your mass marches and other forms of struggle have served as a constant source of strength to all political prisoners.
I salute the African National Congress. It has fulfilled our every expectation in its role as leader of the great march to freedom.
I salute our President, Comrade Oliver Tambo, for leading the ANC even under the most difficult circumstances.
I salute the rank and file members of the ANC. You have sacrificed life and limb in the pursuit of the noble cause of our struggle.
I salute combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe, like Solomon Mahlangu and Ashley Kriel who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom of all South Africans.
I salute the South African Communist Party for its sterling contribution to the struggle for democracy. You have survived 40 years of unrelenting persecution. The memory of great communists like Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer and Moses Mabhida will be cherished for generations to come.
I salute General Secretary Joe Slovo, one of our finest patriots. We are heartened by the fact that the alliance between ourselves and the Party remains as strong as it always was.
I salute the United Democratic Front, the National Education Crisis Committee, the South African Youth Congress, the Transvaal and Natal Indian Congresses and COSATU and the many other formations of the Mass Democratic Movement.
I also salute the Black Sash and the National Union of South African Students. We note with pride that you have acted as the conscience of white South Africa. Even during the darkest days in the history of our struggle you held the flag of liberty high. The large-scale mass mobilisation of the past few years is one of the key factors which led to the opening of the final chapter of our struggle.
I extend my greetings to the working class of our country. Your organised strength is the pride of our movement. You remain the most dependable force in the struggle to end exploitation and oppression.
I pay tribute to the many religious communities who carried the campaign for justice forward when the organisations for our people were silenced.
I greet the traditional leaders of our country – many of you continue to walk in the footsteps of great heroes like Hintsa and Sekhukune.
I pay tribute to the endless heroism of youth, you, the young lions. You, the young lions, have energised our entire struggle.
I pay tribute to the mothers and wives and sisters of our nation. You are the rock-hard foundation of our struggle. Apartheid has inflicted more pain on you than on anyone else.
On this occasion, we thank the world community for their great contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. Without your support our struggle would not have reached this advanced stage. The sacrifice of the frontline states will be remembered by South Africans forever.
My salutations would be incomplete without expressing my deep appreciation for the strength given to me during my long and lonely years in prison by my beloved wife and family. I am convinced that your pain and suffering was far greater than my own.
Before I go any further I wish to make the point that I intend making only a few preliminary comments at this stage. I will make a more complete statement only after I have had the opportunity to consult with my comrades.
Today the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organisation and people can only culminate in the establishment of democracy. The destruction caused by apartheid on our sub-continent is in- calculable. The fabric of family life of millions of my people has been shattered. Millions are homeless and unemployed. Our economy lies in ruins and our people are embroiled in political strife. Our resort to the armed struggle in 1960 with the formation of the military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe, was a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid. The factors which necessitated the armed struggle still exist today. We have no option but to continue. We express the hope that a climate conducive to a negotiated settlement will be created soon so that there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle.
I am a loyal and disciplined member of the African National Congress. I am therefore in full agreement with all of its objectives, strategies and tactics.
The need to unite the people of our country is as important a task now as it always has been. No individual leader is able to take on this enormous task on his own. It is our task as leaders to place our views before our organisation and to allow the democratic structures to decide. On the question of democratic practice, I feel duty bound to make the point that a leader of the movement is a person who has been democratically elected at a national conference. This is a principle which must be upheld without any exceptions.
Today, I wish to report to you that my talks with the government have been aimed at normalising the political situation in the country. We have not as yet begun discussing the basic demands of the struggle. I wish to stress that I myself have at no time entered into negotiations about the future of our country except to insist on a meeting between the ANC and the government.
Mr. De Klerk has gone further than any other Nationalist president in taking real steps to normalise the situation. However, there are further steps as outlined in the Harare Declaration that have to be met before negotiations on the basic demands of our people can begin. I reiterate our call for, inter alia, the immediate ending of the State of Emergency and the freeing of all, and not only some, political prisoners. Only such a normalised situation, which allows for free political activity, can allow us to consult our people in order to obtain a mandate.
The people need to be consulted on who will negotiate and on the content of such negotiations. Negotiations cannot take place above the heads or behind the backs of our people. It is our belief that the future of our country can only be determined by a body which is democratically elected on a non-racial basis. Negotiations on the dismantling of apartheid will have to address the over- whelming demand of our people for a democratic, non-racial and unitary South Africa. There must be an end to white monopoly on political power and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratised.
It must be added that Mr. De Klerk himself is a man of integrity who is acutely aware of the dangers of a public figure not honouring his undertakings. But as an organisation we base our policy and strategy on the harsh reality we are faced with. And this reality is that we are still suffering under the policy of the Nationalist government.
Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on our people to seize this moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted. We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax our efforts now would be a mistake which generations to come will not be able to forgive. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon should encourage us to redouble our efforts.
It is only through disciplined mass action that our victory can be assured. We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you too. We call on the international community to continue the campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. To lift sanctions now would be to run the risk of aborting the process towards the complete eradication of apartheid.
Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. Universal suffrage on a common voters’ role in a united democratic and non-racial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony.
In conclusion I wish to quote my own words during my trial in 1964. They are true today as they were then:
‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’
En route to Israel (Photo: EPA)
Hundreds of Gazans launch flotilla over naval blockade
Hundreds of Palestinians launched protest flotilla in protests of Israel-Egyptian blockade of Gaza but fail to make it to Israel
Israel eased the blockade somewhat in 2010 after an Israeli commando raid on a ship in an activist flotilla bent on reaching Gaza left nine Turks dead and raised an international uproar, but Palestinians say the gestures were not enough.
On Monday, Gaza’s Coalition Intifada group said about 200 youths boarded fishing boats heading out of Gaza City toward the fishing zone boundary, before returning to shore. Organizers said some boats crossed the six-mile maritime limit.
Palestinian fishermen say they cannot meet demand in Gaza due to Israeli-Egyptian naval blockade on the territory and limit of six nautical miles (11 km) in which they can take out their boats off shore.
“We have sent a message of solidarity with the fishermen and a message to the world that they must act to end the Gaza blockade,” said Shorouq Mahmoud, the group’s spokeswoman.
Palestinian activist (Photo: Facebook)
An Israeli military spokeswoman said none of the boats breached the fishing zone limit.
Israeli forces have regularly shot at Gaza boats seen as trying to breach the blockade.
The full, translated text of Israel’s Prawer Plan (Click)
Call Prawer Plan by its real name: ETHNIC CLEANSING!
Solidarity saved me from the Nazis; that’s why I fight Israeli apartheid
“Never again for humankind” means supporting Palestinian resistance to Israel’s Prawer Plan.
We hear disturbing reports this year from southern Israel. The Israeli government proposes to relocate some 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their present homes to government-approved townships. This is called the Prawer Plan, and Israel’s parliament approved it by a three-vote majority in June.
The Prawer Plan would destroy 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) region and extinguish Bedouin claims to land seized from them after the foundation of Israel. The government denies basic services to these villages. Right beside them, in many cases, are new, modern, fully serviced communities for Jewish settlers.
Supporters of the Prawer Plan say that it will compensate the Bedouin for their lost lands and improve their economic status. Unconvinced, the European Parliament has condemned the plan and demanded its withdrawal. So has the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Office for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.
This plan has not been negotiated with the Bedouins and does not have their agreement. It is to be imposed on them. Many have called it ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic cleansing has been defined by the UN Security Council as the forcible removal by one ethnic or religious group of another such group in a geographic area. When I think of ethnic cleansing, I recall my own experience in France under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
Six months before I was born, the French government of the time passed laws excluding Jews from the civil service, education, the media and other professions. They repealed the law against anti-Semitism and started a massive anti-Jewish hate campaign. Large numbers of Jews were rounded up and put in concentration camps.
Much of France was then under Nazi occupation, but the Nazis didn’t ask for these measures. The French authorities volunteered and did it on their own. But soon the Nazis got into the act. They had a vast project — to clear 10 million Jews out of all European countries — not to deport but to exterminate them.
Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale.
The French police handed over to the Nazis tens of thousands of Jews and other French people to be sent to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where they were almost all slaughtered. French authorities tore children from the arms of their mothers, and handed over the mothers to be exterminated.
Then, weeks later, the children were packed into a death train and sent to Auschwitz to also to die there. Among the adult victims was my mother, killed in Auschwitz in 1943.
The Nazis’ goal was to round up, deport and massacre all the Jews in France — as was being done across Europe. The Nazis documented the names, date of birth, country and towns of origin. I know the date and number of the convoy that took my mother to Auschwitz and the day she died there. It was as though they collected human trophies.
Wave of revulsion
But amid this terrible slaughter, an inspiring thing happened. There was a wave of revulsion in France against the treatment of the Jews. Both spontaneously and through organizations, French people made arrangements to protect them.
Altogether, three-quarters of the French Jews escaped the Holocaust. Some 10,000 Jewish children left their families and were hidden. I was among them.
In 1943, a resistance organization took charge of my care and placed me with a peasant family in Auvergne, a farming region in south-central France.
Last month I went back to Auvergne to learn how it was that I had been saved.
I spoke to many people who remembered those years. Auvergne at that time was a land of refuge, a poor region, but one where there was food and much work to be done.
Emma, one of my new friends in Auvergne, told me there were a dozen Muslim refugees from the Soviet Union in her village, conscripted into the Nazi army, and sent to France. They had deserted to join the anti-Nazi resistance.
There were the Roma — the French police rounded up and interned thousands of them. And there were thousands of Jewish refugees in Auvergne, old and young, seeking safety from arrest by French and German authorities.
I met a man who led his community in providing refuge. His name is Robert; he is now 91 years old. When he was 20 years old, he helped hide and protect 130 Jewish persons who had come to seek safety in his little town, Malzieu.
He was ready to lay down his life for them. He showed me an immense wooden wardrobe that he had pushed against a door, behind which there were Jews in hiding.
Spirit of solidarity
“How many of the Jews were denounced to the police?” I asked.
“None,” he said.
“So did everyone in Malzieu want the Jews to be there?”
“Not at all,” he said. “Some were anti-Jewish.”
“Why didn’t they denounce the Jews, then?” I asked.
“They may have had resentful thoughts, but they didn’t act on them. They would not act against the feelings of their community.”
So even the anti-Semites, through their silence, aided the resistance.
Recently, the Israeli government offered Robert the medal of the “righteous,” honoring Christians and others who saved many Jewish people. But Robert refused it. “I did nothing special,” he said, “Just the minimum that was my duty. And what we achieved, we did together, as a community.”
Robert exemplifies the tradition of universalism — a spirit of solidarity with all humanity. This is a proud Jewish tradition — the tradition of my family. In terms of Hitler’s Holocaust, its meaning is “never again” — but not just with regard to Jews. It means “never again for humankind.”
After the war, I was an orphan. I left France while still a child and crossed the ocean. Now I am a Canadian, proud of my new life here.
But Canada is now the world’s number one apologist for the Israeli government and its oppression of the Palestinians. What does the Holocaust tell me about the status of Palestine today — and the Prawer Plan?
Pattern of dispossession
The sinister Prawer Plan to extinguish Bedouin land rights fits into a pattern of Palestinian dispossession over the last century. It is only the latest step in a process of land theft that has been grinding on for seven decades.
When my parents were born, Palestine was a successful, diverse and tolerant society of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Meanwhile, eastern Europe — tsarist Russia in particular — was wracked by violence against Jews. Many fled the region, and some moved to Palestine.
Among them were my father, when he was a young boy, and his family. But guided by the Zionist movement, these refugees came not as immigrants, to enrich Palestinian society, but as colonial settlers, to displace it: a colonial project of ethnic cleansing.
This was not to my father’s liking, and he moved as a young man to France. Both he and my mother, and most of their Jewish generation in Europe, were skeptical of the Palestine settler project, and sought safety for Jews through social progress in Europe itself.
Step by step, the Zionist project took Palestinian lands, evicting and dispossessing the residents. Then Hitler’s war and Holocaust destroyed forever the Jewish homeland in Poland and neighboring countries. The Jewish survivors searched for a new homeland.
The Canadian government, with the support of many well-intentioned people, thought it proper to grant them a state in Palestine. It seemed only fair, given what the Jews had suffered.
Callously brushed aside
As for the Palestinians, they were callously brushed aside. Indeed the lie was spread that they did not even exist — Palestine was called “a land without people.”
Dispossessing and persecuting Palestinians became a way to atone for Hitler’s crimes. And so we had the Nakba, in 1948, when 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, victims of a new and terrible ethnic cleansing.
The process continues even today. Jewish settlements are imposed on the remaining fragments of Palestinian lands on the West Bank.
Palestinian refugees continue to endure forced exile. Israel wages repeated aggressive wars.
And the Prawer Plan targets remaining Bedouin lands.
And still, today, Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is often justified as necessary to prevent a “second Holocaust” against the Jews. What a lie! The very idea is a monstrosity.
It is the Palestinians who suffer mistreatment, often reminiscent of what Hitler imposed on the Jews. The real threat to Israel’s Jewish population comes from their own government’s cruelty, its apartheid policies, its land grabs, its theft of resources, its long-term drive for ethnic cleansing.
If we have learned one thing from Hitler’s crimes against the Jews, it is that ethnic cleansing, ethnic slaughter and genocide must be opposed today wherever it occurs — and above all in Palestine. To be true to the memory of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and of all Hitler’s victims, we must defend the Palestinians.
Make Israel accountable
We are building a united world campaign to get out the truth about Palestine. Palestinians must have the right to speak up. The media, manipulated by the elite who control Canada, pervasively confront us with a wall of silence. We face continual challenges to the rights granted to us by Canada’s Charter of Rights, free speech and assembly.
Defending the right to speak, discuss and voice an opinion is central to our efforts to defend the Palestinians.
During my trip to Auvergne last month, I was struck by the magical power of human solidarity, expressed in a varied and resourceful resistance movement that saved the lives of 10,000 Jewish children, including me. Let that same spirit of solidarity inspire us today in supporting victims of oppression here and worldwide, beginning in Palestine.
As a Jew, I say the Israeli government’s actions are not in my name. As Canadians, we must now tell the government of Stephen Harper that his support for Israeli apartheid is not in our name.
Stand up for the Palestinians. Demand that their right to return to their homelands is upheld; demand that they have equal rights in Israel; demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
Join the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — BDS. It is a nonviolent and democratic way to unite and make Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinians.
Let us call for an end to the Prawer campaign and the dispossession of the Palestinians. Palestine will be free!
*Suzanne Weiss is a Holocaust survivor and a Palestinian solidarity activist based in Toronto. This article is an excerpt from a talk given to a student meeting in London, Ontario, on 20 November.
P.S. From The Jewish Voice For Peace …..
Last week, the Anti-Defamation League put JVP on its list of top ten “anti-Israel” organizations.
But their attack seriously backfired.
More than 250 JVP supporters raised over $12,000 to help us fund our new Campus Liaison – one of the projects the ADL fears most.
We promised we’d send ADL President Abe Foxman a thank you note, and wanted to give you one last chance to add your name to it.
If you are proud of our organizing to hold Israel accountable to international law, or the way our Rabbinical Council reclaims justice traditions within Jewish community and ritual, click here to make sure the ADL knows it.
Their complicity with Israeli human rights abuses puts the ADL on the wrong side of history.
Click here to give $18 or even $36 now and add your name to our thank you card.
They did get one thing right. They described JVP as an organization with national impact that recruits grassroots supporters and influences the mainstream public debate about Israel.
And that’s all because of our amazing supporters like you.
Grassroots Fundraising Coordinator
Photos © by Bud Korotzer
Anonymous Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond’s Court Statement Upon Being Sentenced to 10 Years In Jail
Jeremy Hammond by freejeremy.net
Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Jeremy Hammond and I’m here to be sentenced for hacking activities carried out during my involvement with Anonymous. I have been locked up at MCC for the past 20 months and have had a lot of time to think about how I would explain my actions.
Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize the work of the people who have supported me. I want to thank all the lawyers and others who worked on my case: Elizabeth Fink, Susan Kellman, Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler, Margaret Kunstler, and Grainne O’Neill. I also want to thank the National Lawyers Guild, the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee and Support Network, Free Anons, the Anonymous Solidarity Network, Anarchist Black Cross, and all others who have helped me by writing a letter of support, sending me letters, attending my court dates, and spreading the word about my case. I also want to shout out my brothers and sisters behind bars and those who are still out there fighting the power.
The acts of civil disobedience and direct action that I am being sentenced for today are in line with the principles of community and equality that have guided my life. I hacked into dozens of high profile corporations and government institutions, understanding very clearly that what I was doing was against the law, and that my actions could land me back in federal prison. But I felt that I had an obligation to use my skills to expose and confront injustice–and to bring the truth to light.
Could I have achieved the same goals through legal means? I have tried everything from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never mind the rights of it’s own citizens or the international community.
My introduction to politics was when George W. Bush stole the Presidential election in 2000, then took advantage of the waves of racism and patriotism after 9/11 to launch unprovoked imperialist wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. I took to the streets in protest naively believing our voices would be heard in Washington and we could stop the war. Instead, we were labeled as traitors, beaten, and arrested.
I have been arrested for numerous acts of civil disobedience on the streets of Chicago, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I used my computer skills to break the law in political protest. I was arrested by the FBI for hacking into the computer systems of a right-wing, pro-war group called Protest Warrior, an organization that sold racist t-shirts on their website and harassed anti-war groups. I was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the “intended loss” in my case was arbitrarily calculated by multiplying the 5000 credit cards in Protest Warrior’s database by $500, resulting in a total of $2.5 million.My sentencing guidelines were calculated on the basis of this “loss,” even though not a single credit card was used or distributed — by me or anyone else. I was sentenced to two years in prison.
While in prison I have seen for myself the ugly reality of how the criminal justice system destroys the lives of the millions of people held captive behind bars. The experience solidified my opposition to repressive forms of power and the importance of standing up for what you believe.
When I was released, I was eager to continue my involvement in struggles for social change. I didn’t want to go back to prison, so I focused on above-ground community organizing. But over time, I became frustrated with the limitations, of peaceful protest, seeing it as reformist and ineffective. The Obama administration continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, escalated the use of drones, and failed to close Guantanamo Bay.
Around this time, I was following the work of groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous. It was very inspiring to see the ideas of hactivism coming to fruition. I was particularly moved by the heroic actions of Chelsea Manning, who had exposed the atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. She took an enormous personal risk to leak this information — believing that the public had a right to know and hoping that her disclosures would be a positive step to end these abuses. It is heart-wrenching to hear about her cruel treatment in military lockup.
I thought long and hard about choosing this path again. I had to ask myself, if Chelsea Manning fell into the abysmal nightmare of prison fighting for the truth, could I in good conscience do any less, if I was able? I thought the best way to demonstrate solidarity was to continue the work of exposing and confronting corruption.
I was drawn to Anonymous because I believe in autonomous, decentralized direct action. At the time Anonymous was involved in operations in support of the Arab Spring uprisings, against censorship, and in defense of Wikileaks. I had a lot to contribute, including technical skills, and how to better articulate ideas and goals. It was an exciting time — the birth of a digital dissent movement, where the definitions and capabilities of hacktivism were being shaped.
I was especially interested in the work of the hackers of LulzSec who were breaking into some significant targets and becoming increasingly political. Around this time, I first started talking to Sabu, who was very open about the hacks he supposedly committed, and was encouraging hackers to unite and attack major government and corporate systems under the banner of Anti Security. But very early in my involvement, the other Lulzsec hackers were arrested, leaving me to break into systems and write press releases. Later, I would learn that Sabu had been the first one arrested, and that the entire time I was talking to him he was an FBI informant.
Anonymous was also involved in the early stages of Occupy Wall Street. I was regularly participating on the streets as part of Occupy Chicago and was very excited to see a worldwide mass movement against the injustices of capitalism and racism. In several short months, the “Occupations” came to an end, closed by police crackdowns and mass arrests of protestors who were kicked out of their own public parks. The repression of Anonymous and the Occupy Movement set the tone for Antisec in the following months — the majority of our hacks against police targets were in retaliation for the arrests of our comrades.
I targeted law enforcement systems because of the racism and inequality with which the criminal law is enforced. I targeted the manufacturers and distributors of military and police equipment who profit from weaponry used to advance U.S. political and economic interests abroad and to repress people at home. I targeted information security firms because they work in secret to protect government and corporate interests at the expense of individual rights, undermining and discrediting activists, journalists and other truth seekers, and spreading disinformation.
I had never even heard of Stratfor until Sabu brought it to my attention. Sabu was encouraging people to invade systems, and helping to strategize and facilitate attacks. He even provided me with vulnerabilities of targets passed on by other hackers, so it came as a great surprise when I learned that Sabu had been working with the FBI the entire time.
On December 4, 2011, Sabu was approached by another hacker who had already broken into Stratfor’s credit card database. Sabu, under the watchful eye of his government handlers, then brought the hack to Antisec by inviting this hacker to our private chatroom, where he supplied download links to the full credit card database as well as the initial vulnerability access point to Stratfor’s systems.
I spent some time researching Stratfor and reviewing the information we were given, and decided that their activities and client base made them a deserving target. I did find it ironic that Stratfor’s wealthy and powerful customer base had their credit cards used to donate to humanitarian organizations, but my main role in the attack was to retrieve Stratfor’s private email spools which is where all the dirty secrets are typically found.
It took me more than a week to gain further access into Stratfor’s internal systems, but I eventually broke into their mail server. There was so much information, we needed several servers of our own in order to transfer the emails. Sabu, who was involved with the operation at every step, offered a server, which was provided and monitored by the FBI. Over the next weeks, the emails were transferred, the credit cards were used for donations, and Stratfor’s systems were defaced and destroyed. Why the FBI would introduce us to the hacker who found the initial vulnerability and allow this hack to continue remains a mystery.
As a result of the Stratfor hack, some of the dangers of the unregulated private intelligence industry are now known. It has been revealed through Wikileaks and other journalists around the world that Stratfor maintained a worldwide network of informants that they used to engage in intrusive and possibly illegal surveillance activities on behalf of large multinational corporations.
After Stratfor, I continued to break into other targets, using a powerful “zero day exploit” allowing me administrator access to systems running the popular Plesk webhosting platform. Sabu asked me many times for access to this exploit, which I refused to give him. Without his own independent access, Sabu continued to supply me with lists of vulnerable targets. I broke into numerous websites he supplied, uploaded the stolen email accounts and databases onto Sabu’s FBI server, and handed over passwords and backdoors that enabled Sabu (and, by extension, his FBI handlers) to control these targets.
These intrusions, all of which were suggested by Sabu while cooperating with the FBI, affected thousands of domain names and consisted largely of foreign government websites, including those of XXXXXXX, XXXXXXXX, XXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXX, XXXXXXXX, XXXXXXX and the XXXXXX XXXXXXX. In one instance, Sabu and I provided access information to hackers who went on to deface and destroy many government websites in XXXXXX. I don’t know how other information I provided to him may have been used, but I think the government’s collection and use of this data needs to be investigated.
The government celebrates my conviction and imprisonment, hoping that it will close the door on the full story. I took responsibility for my actions, by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?
The U.S. hypes the threat of hackers in order to justify the multi billion dollar cyber security industrial complex, but it is also responsible for the same conduct it aggressively prosecutes and claims to work to prevent. The hypocrisy of “law and order” and the injustices caused by capitalism cannot be cured by institutional reform but through civil disobedience and direct action. Yes I broke the law, but I believe that sometimes laws must be broken in order to make room for change.
In the immortal word of Frederick Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
This is not to say that I do not have any regrets. I realize that I released the personal information of innocent people who had nothing to do with the operations of the institutions I targeted. I apologize for the release of data that was harmful to individuals and irrelevant to my goals. I believe in the individual right to privacy — from government surveillance, and from actors like myself, and I appreciate the irony of my own involvement in the trampling of these rights. I am committed to working to make this world a better place for all of us. I still believe in the importance of hactivism as a form of civil disobedience, but it is time for me to move on to other ways of seeking change. My time in prison has taken a toll on my family, friends, and community. I know I am needed at home. I recognize that 7 years ago I stood before a different federal judge, facing similar charges, but this does not lessen the sincerity of what I say to you today.
It has taken a lot for me to write this, to explain my actions, knowing that doing so — honestly — could cost me more years of my life in prison. I am aware that I could get as many as 10 years, but I hope that I do not, as I believe there is so much work to be done.
Stay strong and keep struggling.
ADC Asks Coachella Valley High School “Arabs” To Reconsider Mascot, Name
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | November 6, 2013 – Recently, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) expressed direct concern to the Coachella Valley Unified School District, over the use of “Arab” as the team name and mascot for the Coachella Valley High School (CVHS), located in Thermal, California.
The CVHS mascot, the “Arab” depicts a man with a large nose, heavy beard, and wearing a Kaffiay. This imagery is plastered and advertised all over CVHS’s athletic facilities and at sporting events. At CVHS sporting events, a student dressed as the “Arab” is present. During half-time shows at sporting events, the “Arab” performs, while a female dressed as a belly dancer entertains the mascot by dancing for him. The attendees and participants at these sporting events clearly show orientalist stereotyping of Arabs.
ADC communicated with Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Darryl S. Adams and CVHS Principal Victor Uribe, and expressed concern with CVHS and the school district permitting and endorsing this imagery about Arabs and Arab Americans. ADC also contacted Coachella Valley Unified School District Board Members, and expressed our community’s concerns.
The ADC letter sent to CVHS Principal and the school district can be read here.
ADC understands that CVHS is located in a city once home to a large Arab population working in the establishment of the date palm industry in the 1920s. However, the imagery associated with the CVHS mascot, the “Arab” is far removed from recognition with any historical reference. Furthermore, there are alternative ways to recognize Coachella Valley’s history than the ethnic stereotypical depiction of the “Arab” by CVHS. The continued use of the “Arab” mascot perpetuates demeaning stereotypes of Arabs and Arab Americans. CVHS gross ethnic stereotyping cannot be tolerated.
ADC President Warren David stated, “ADC is and has been at the forefront of fighting stereotypes and defamation since inception. The negative image portrayed by the dipiction of the Coachella Valley mascot is a disgrace and unacceptable to all who respect an accurate image of Arabs.”
ADC has been contacted by Dr. Darryl S. Adams, Superintendent of the Coachella Valley Unified School District, and further communication to resolve the issue have been scheduled. ADC has launched a petition asking the school district to consider changing the team name and mascot.
Author Ben White speaking at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in New York City. (Image via russelltribunalonpalestine.com)
Brooklyn College is once again on the defensive from local pro-Israel forces.
Brooklyn Democrats have harshly criticized the school and academic departments over an event featuring Ben White, an author and activist who is critical of Israel. He is set to speak at the school November 14.
The fracas comes nearly a year after Brooklyn College found itself at the center of a storm over the school’s hosting of an event featuring proponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Like last year’s controversy, this year’s features ardent supporters of the state of Israel accusing the speaker of anti-Semitism and the school’s departments of supporting the event, which will feature White arguing that Israel is an apartheid state.
“It is predictable and unfortunate that defenders of Israeli apartheid seek to smear me as an individual in order to distract from the ongoing violations of international law and Palestinian human rights,” White told me in an e-mail. “I oppose anti-Semitism as a form of racism, and in fact, it is precisely because of opposition to racism that I am in solidarity with the Palestinians’ struggle for their basic rights in the face of Israeli policies of systematic discrimination.”
Members of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter at the school are the ones organizing the event. The Political Science Department and the Sociology Department have agreed to co-sponsor the event, though the school says that does not connote endorsement of the speaker and the event.
“Ben White is not just anti-Israel, he is also an anti-Semite,” state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an influential Orthodox Jewish politician who got into hot water for wearing blackface as part of a Purim costume, told the website Matzav.com. “Brooklyn College’s continued co-sponsorship of anti-Israel hatefests is abhorrent.”
Fueling the outrage at Brooklyn College is the claim that the departments are “supporting” the event, though the claim rests on a misunderstanding of new Brooklyn College policies on student events.
The first salvo in the campaign against White and Brooklyn College came on November 4, when New York Daily News reporter Reuven Blau published a piece calling White “a controversial author who has likened Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi Holocaust is bringing his act to Brooklyn College.”
“It’s unfortunate that Brooklyn College seems to be consistent in sending a message to their Jewish students that they are not respected on campus,” Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield told the Daily News.
The reporter, Blau, charged that White defended “Iranian hatemonger” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and that White has “defended anti-Semitic comments made by the former German politician Jurgen Mullemann, who likened the Israel’s policies to those of the Nazis.” The proof offered up is White’s 2007 statement that “Palestinians…in the name of a social-democratic experiment, had to endure massacres, death marches and ethnic cleansing.”
In 2009, White explained that his 2006 piece on Ahmadinejad was “critiquing the mainstream analysis of some recent remarks by Ahmadinejad, and the politicised context in which they were being framed.” He went on to say, “I make no bones about it – Ahmadinejad is either a Holocaust denier himself, or cowardly encourages those who are (and probably both).”
Joining the campaign against White is state Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, who sent a letter to the interim chancellor of the City University of New York, a system Brooklyn College is a part of. “Publicly funded institutions do not have the right to spew hatred without permitting an equal response,” he wrote, according to the website SheepsheadBites.com.
But it’s the claim that the college is “supporting” the event that is driving the story. Alan Dershowitz, the pro-Israel attorney, told the Daily News that “If these departments deny they are taking sides, I challenge them to ‘support’ a speech by me on the Mideast.” Dershowitz’s criticism that academic departments are “supporting” the speech is rooted in new guidelines disseminated by the college on student events, likely drawn up in response to last year’s torrent of criticism over an event on BDS.
Under the new draft guidelines–whether it is the official policy of the college is unclear–the word “supporter” takes the place of what used to be known as “co-sponsor.” A “supporter,” the new guidelines explain in a footnote, is the “preferred term that is used at Brooklyn College to describe the type of assistance provided in a manner that was previously described as a ‘co-sponsor,’ meaning the group lends its name only for the purpose of encouraging attendance at the event.” To a lay person, though, “supporter” means something much different.
The Brooklyn College Political Science Department released a statement clarifying that they “decided explicitly to co-sponsor these events; it is not a ‘supporter,’ advocate, champion, or endorser of these events and the views that will be expressed there.”
The college released a similar statement from Director of News and Information Keisha-Gaye Anderson, who also said, “Brooklyn College will continue to support the right of student clubs to host programs of interest to them, including those that may be controversial.” The statement also emphasized that “there are a number of scheduled and proposed events this semester hosted by the Israel Club.”
Those explanations, though, are unlikely to tamp down the furor over White’s talk.
Both Hikind and Dershowitz are no stranger to campaigns targeting those critical of Israel–especially at Brooklyn College. Last year, they led the charge against Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, who spoke at the college on BDS. The event went on as planned despite calls to cancel it and threats from a City Councilman to cut funding for the college.
But it was marred by controversy over the fact that four Jewish students were tossed out of the event. A report by a law firm and CUNY concluded that there was no anti-Semitism in the decision to toss them out–despite the claims from Israel advocates–though there was no justification for the tossing either.
Protesters gather around the world for Million Mask March
Demonstrations in more than 400 cities were planned to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day, with Russell Brand at a London protest
- Ben Quinn
Jewish student receives death threats over Palestine solidarity work
Northeastern students walked out of an event featuring Israeli soldiers in April.
A Jewish member of Students for Justice in Palestine at Northeastern University in Boston has received death threats ostensibly because of his involvement in Palestine solidarity activism and outspoken criticism of Zionism.
The threats come as Zionist groups warn of legal complaints against the university, alleging campus “anti-Semitism” — despite an ever-growing record of failure to support these kinds of accusations.
First reported on 18 September by CBS Boston, an anonymous group of Jewish students publicly accused Northeastern University of “an atmosphere of intimidation of those who are supportive of Israel, or an official indulgence of anti-Semitism” (“Jewish students claim discrimination by Northeastern professors,” WBZ-TV, 18 September 2013).
When the story reached the student daily newspaper eight days later, the alleged perpetrators were, predictably, Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine and a handful of faculty members who dared to criticize the ongoing Israeli colonization of Palestine.
In a letter written in July, the Zionist Organization of America states that if Northeastern University does not address the “hostile environment” faced by Jewish students, then it would risk losing its federal funding — citing guidelines mandated under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (“ZOA letter to President Aoun,” 5 July 2013 [PDF]).
Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects students from racial and ethnic discrimination at federally-funded educational institutions. Israel-aligned groups and individuals have claimed that Jewish students face anti-Semitism, harassment and intimidation because of activism by Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim student groups, and have filed claims with the Department of Education alleging violations of Title VI.
Even though legal campaigns to coerce censorship of Palestine solidarity activism on campus — through Title VI complaints — have been dismissed from the University of California system to Columbia University so far, well-funded Zionist organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) continue to pose real threats to free speech and academic freedom.
This latest manifestation of “lawfare” by Israel advocacy groups appears to differ from some previous attempts to stifle debate.
Specifically, the campaign’s focus on disbanding Students for Justice in Palestine while the student organization’s status on campus remains in peril could potentially deliver these powerful pro-Israel forces a victory without necessarily succeeding in challenging Northeastern’s funding under Title VI.
As the ADL and ZOA continue to pressure Northeastern president Joseph Aoun and other administrators, the university’s ignominious record of silencing advocates of Palestinian and Muslim rights on campus calls into question its ability to fairly evaluate these slanderous accusations.
As The Electronic Intifada reported last August, Northeastern administrators officially sanctioned Students for Justice in Palestine last semester for silently walking out of an event featuring Israeli soldiers. The event was hosted by Huskies for Israel, the on-campus Israel advocacy group.
Despite widespread condemnation by the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights and local union and civil rights groups, Students for Justice in Palestine at Northeastern remains under administrative probation with all funding derived from the student activities’ fee indefinitely suspended.
The provisions of the administration’s sanctions against SJP included a grotesque, enforced normalization charade disguised as a “leadership council” with campus Zionists. Though the university describes these monthly councils as chances for collaboration with other like-minded student organizations, the inclusion of dialogue sessions with Huskies for Israel seems to be an underhanded attempt to tame and limit discourse around Israel-Palestine.
Furthermore, the administration has demanded from SJP the production of a “civility statement” through these problematic leadership councils that is to govern all future political advocacy. Neither Huskies for Israel nor any other student group on campus has ever been forced to comply with such anti-democratic measures.
In addition, the Boston-based (and Orwellian-named) Americans for Peace and Tolerance is supporting the ADL/ZOA effort, which has for years launched inflammatory campaigns against supposed “Islamic extremism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism” at Northeastern University. Americans for Peace and Tolerance has conflated these three divergent phenomena as indistinguishable.
Among Americans for Peace and Tolerance’s many targets was Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, who was removed from his post as Muslim chaplain of the Spiritual Life Center last September despite more than 15 years of service to Northeastern University.
Faaruuq’s advocacy on behalf of Muslim political prisoners Aafia Siddiqui and Tarek Mehenna and consistent opposition to unjust “War on Terror” policies drew a vitriolic response from Americans for Peace and Tolerance’s president Charles Jacobs.
Emboldened by the administration’s unprincipled appeasement, Americans for Peace and Tolerance has since intensified its efforts against Northeastern faculty and students who fail to meet its pro-Israel requirements.
Shortly after the administration fired Faaruuq, Americans for Peace and Tolerance released a fear-mongering video titled “Anti-Semitic Education @ Northeastern University” targeting NU professors Denis Sullivan and M. Shahid Alam.
Sullivan, a professor of international affairs and the director of the university’s Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development, is perhaps Americans for Peace and Tolerance’s most consistently attacked individual due to his support of a one-state solutionin Israel-Palestine, and his criticism of Israel’s apartheid policies.
Alam, an economics professor, has has also been subjected to a series of publicationsand videos by Americans for Peace and Tolerance. He has been vilified for his participation in Students for Justice in Palestine’s 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week — a series of Palestine awareness-raising activities and events held each year in universities around the world — and other declarations of support for Palestinian liberation.
The ZOA’s recent letter to Aoun singles out both Sullivan and Alam and demands their immediate dismissal.
Litany of violent threats
While the campaign has succeeded in compelling the administration to sanction Students for Justice in Palestine, the Islamic Society of Northeastern University’s funding and “Islamic extremism” has been targeted by not only Americans for Peace and Tolerance, but also right-wing Islamophobic blogger Pamela Geller.
More gravely, due to witch-hunting on the Americans for Peace and Tolerance-controlled Facebook page “Exposing Islamic Extremism at Northeastern University,” Jewish Students for Justice in Palestine member Max Geller (no relation to Pamela) has received a litany of violent threats in the last few days, along with accusations of being a “self-hating Jew” and a “terrorist sympathizer.”
One commenter on the page who identified himself as a former marine, for instance, wrote of Geller, “I would seriously introduce that kid to the inside of an ambulance.” Geller told The Electronic Intifada that private messages were even more explicit and included death threats.
According to Max Geller, this is simply another manifestation of Charles Jacobs’ pattern of targeting, defaming, and intimidating members of the Northeastern University community and others in Boston in an effort to compel silence on Israeli human rights abuses — which the young activist defiantly refuses to accept.
Even still, over the phone Geller expressed concern after recent messages he received extended these threats to his family, and displayed knowledge of his home address. As the vicious threats continue to be directed at him and his loved ones, it is increasingly probable that Americans for Peace and Tolerance has put the SJP activist in real jeopardy.
This recent, ironic twist to the assertions by the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America and Americans for Peace and Tolerance of a “hostile campus climate” for Northeastern University’s Jewish students is sure to be lost on those now threatening legal action.
While recent victories against Zionist legal intimidation are cause for hope, the particularly strong and well-funded campaign in Boston against Students for Justice in Palestine, the Islamic Society of Northeastern University, and members of the Northeastern faculty will require a combined, determined effort to thwart.
Lacking an administration with the courage and integrity to defend students’ rights and academic freedom, it will be up to Northeastern University student activists and their supporters to keep closed a pandora’s box of repression on US campuses.
The precedent threatened by the Anti-Defamation League and Zionist Organization of America’s legal complaint to the Department of Education make this active, developing situation potentially disastrous not only for Palestinian solidarity activism and free speech at Northeastern University, but throughout the country.
Conversely, a resounding defeat for Zionist lawfare in Boston could finally sound the death knell for this cynical and perverse manipulation of American civil rights law.
As Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine remains steadfast in its commitment to advocate for Palestinian liberation on campus and braces for a long fight against censorship and repression, it is incumbent upon all those who believe in justice and civil liberties to join the chorus of resistance to Zionist bullying tactics in the US, and to Israeli apartheid in Palestine.
*Ryan Branagan is a Northeastern MA student in Middle Eastern history and serves on the executive board of NU Students for Justice in Palestine
A Dump Veolia Coalition graphic celebrates victory.
Palestine activists score big win as Veolia pulls out of St. Louis
Palestine solidarity activists in St. Louis, Missouri are celebrating victory after Veolia Water North America withdrew from a $250,000 contract to consult with the city’s water division.
Chicago-based Veolia Water North America is a subsidiary of the French municipal services multinational Veolia which has been a target of global protests and boycott calls because of its participation and profiteering in Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
Veolia’s withdrawal was the “dramatic conclusion” to a one-year activist effort to defeat the contract, the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) said in a 31 October statement.
The company’s pullout “was a major victory for a group called the Dump Veolia Coalition, which has protested the contract throughout the year,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatchacknowledged.
PSC was in the forefront of the campaign and helped form the Dump Veolia Coalition.
As well as PSC, the Dump Veolia Coalition includes St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace, Organization for Black Struggle, Missouri Muslims for Civic Engagement, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice and several environmental organizations such as Sierra Club, Eastern Missouri Group and Missouri Coalition for the Environment.
Elected representatives listened
“For more than three years, Veolia attempted to secure a contract with St. Louis, defying the will of the local community through aggressive lobbying, bullying, political interference, back-door deals and outright contempt for democratic involvement,” the Dump Veolia Coalition said in a 29 October statement.
“When public opposition denied Veolia the necessary votes to pass the contract through normal channels, the mayor attempted to circumvent the democratic checks and balances by claiming the contract did not need approval through traditional means and threatened to sue the city comptroller if she did not sign it.”
The coalition thanked city councillors “for listening to constituents’ concerns and standing up for transparency, accountability, democratic processes and the will of the people by introducing a resolution to remove funds allocated for Veolia in the city’s budget, the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, prompting Veolia to withdraw.”
“Not worth it”
In a statement announcing Veolia’s withdrawal, Mary Ellen Ponder, deputy chief of staff to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, all but admitted the company had pulled out as a direct result of the stiff opposition:
Unfortunately, the passage of a year has had a greater impact than just lost time. Veolia Water, the firm that was legitimately selected per ordinance, to help improve the Water Division’s level of efficiency, has decided our business is not worth it. It is not worth the damage to their business. Veolia will not go forward with the contract they were legitimately awarded. Frankly, they can’t be blamed.
In another recent sign that Veolia is feeling the grassroots pressure, Alan Moldawer, executive vice-president of its subsidiary Veolia Transportation, US recently lashed out at the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement with a number of false accusations.
Moldawer was reacting to a campaign to exclude his company from a public transit contract in Sonoma County, California.
PSC said that activists had successfully turned the Veolia contract into an election issue for the mayor earlier this year.
The video above shows the mayor during an election event as PSC members press him over Veolia’s abuses.
“While Mayor Slay handily won the mayoral election, the Dump Veolia campaign put his office and Veolia on the defensive and forced both to expend considerable political clout and resources,” PSC said in its statement.
Fruits of coalition work
PSC stresses that the victory in St. Louis was the result of working in a coalition that addressed local environmental and social justice concerns as well as Veolia’s appalling human rights record in Palestine.
Its statement details many of the milestones in its extraordinary campaign and concludes:
As the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee celebrates this victory over occupation profiteer Veolia, we wish to thank the many coalition partners and St. Louis citizens who supported the Dump Veolia campaign. While we came to this issue because of Palestine, we soon learned of the many troubling aspects of Veolia’s business practices including privatization of public resources, labor abuses, corruption, environmental degradation and interference in democratic processes. This is a huge win for BDS in North America and a triumph for the people of St. Louis.
Israel Philharmonic patrons perturbed by musical protest at NY fundraiser
October 29, New York, NY – Outside Manhattan’s normally staid Lincoln Center cultural complex tonight, 50 New Yorkers delivered a clear message rejecting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) deliberate use of art to whitewash Israel’s systematic and brutal repression of the rights of the Palestinian people. The IPO, which was holding a fundraising concert, calls itself “Israel’s musical ambassador throughout the country and the world” and helps to project a positive image of Israel, diverting attention from Israel’s human rights abuses, as part of the Israeli government’s “Brand Israel” initiative.
Many of the well-dressed patrons, who had paid up to $5000 apiece for tickets to the IPO concert at the Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, looked disturbed to encounter a radical marching band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra (RMO), and a crowd of protesters with chants that included, “Your orchestra is classy, your piano is so grand, we’d love to have you play for us when you stop stealing land;” and “Oboe, trumpet and bassoon, apartheid is out of tune.”
Other passers-by read the literature being distributed by protesters and, in some cases, took up signs and joined the demonstration. Eight dancers in a second floor Alice Tully Hall studio with floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the protest, inspired by the RMO’s renditions of “Which Side Are You On?” and “We Shall Not Be Moved,” treated the crowd to an impromptu dance performance.
Daniel Strum of Adalah-NY explained, “Culture in the service of the Israeli government, that denies Palestinians basic rights, including their right to cultural expression, should be protested and boycotted.” American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra calls the IPO “Israel’s finest cultural emissary” and notes that “[t]he goodwill created by these tours…is of enormous value to the State of Israel.” An Israeli Foreign Ministry official explained the government efforts to rebrand Israel that the IPO supports to the New York Times in 2009 saying, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits…This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”
Yasmine Megahed from Adalah-NY said, “The IPO’s use of classical music to support government militarization is wrong. More and more people are rejecting the Brand Israel strategy, and joining the growing movement to boycott Israel.” An October news report explained that the IPO receives 14 percent of its funding from the Israeli government. In the same piece, Julian Rachlin, the IPO’s conductor for tonight’s performance, lamented that there is not more government funding but simultaneously affirmed his support for Israel’s militarization, explaining that “most of the [government’s] money goes to the army, and rightly so.” While IPO conductor Zubin Mehta expressed concerns about some Israeli government policies in a 2012 interview, the IPO’s support for the Israeli government and military has not wavered since 1948. The IPO was also the target of lively NYC protests at performances in 2011 and 2012.
On October 27th, the same New York groups protested outside the performance of Israeli musician Idan Raichel at the Beacon Theatre. Raichel is another self-proclaimed propagandist for the Israeli government and its apartheid policies towards the Palestinian people. The peaceful, spirited protest of chanting and singing was met by hostility and racism from many concert-goers.
The groups organizing tonight’s protest are part of the growing international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, to pressure Israel to end its human rights abuses. The Palestinian-led BDS movement is a nonviolent campaign for Palestinian rights inspired by the international boycott campaign that helped to abolish apartheid in South Africa.
For more photos of the protest: http://adalahny.org/photo-gallery/1094/pictures-israel-philharmonic-orchestra-protest-oct-29-2013
Taking Apartheid Apart
|IS ISRAEL an apartheid state? This question is not going away. It raises its head every few months.
The term “apartheid” is often used purely for propaganda purposes. Apartheid, like racism and fascism, is a rhetorical term one uses to denigrate one’s opponent.
But apartheid is also a term with a precise content. It applies to a specific regime. Equating another regime to it may be accurate, partly correct or just wrong. So, necessarily, will be the conclusions drawn from the comparison.
RECENTLY I had the opportunity to discuss this subject with an expert, who had lived in South Africa throughout the apartheid era. I learned a lot from this.
Is Israel an apartheid state? Well, first one must settle the question: which Israel? Israel proper, within the Green Line, or the Israeli occupation regime in the occupied Palestinian territories, or both together?
Let’s come back to that later.
THE DIFFERENCES between the two cases are obvious.
First, the SA regime was based, as with their Nazi mentors, on the theory of racial superiority. Racism was its official creed. The Zionist ideology of Israel is not racist, in this sense, but rather based on a mixture of nationalism and religion, though the early Zionists were mostly atheists.
The founders of Zionism always rejected accusations of racism as absurd. It’s the anti-Semites who are racist. Zionists were liberal, socialist, progressive. (As far as I know, only one Zionist leader had openly endorsed racism: Arthur Ruppin, the German Jew who was the father of the Zionist settlements in the early 20th century.)
Then there are the numbers. In SA there was a huge black majority. Whites were about a fifth of the population.
In Israel proper, the Arab citizens constitute a minority of about 20%. In the total territory under Israeli rule between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the numbers of Jews and Arabs are roughly equal. The Arabs may by now constitute a small majority – precise numbers are hard to come by. This Arab majority is bound to grow slowly larger as time passes.
Furthermore, the white economy in SA was totally dependent on black labor. At the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip in 1967, the Zionist insistence on “Jewish Labor” came to an end and cheap Arab labor from the “territories” flooded Israel. However, with the beginning of the first intifada this development was stopped with surprising speed. Large numbers of foreign workers were imported: Eastern Europeans and Chinese for the building trade, Thais for agriculture, Philippinos for personal care, etc.
It is now one of the main jobs of the Israeli army to prevent Palestinians from illegally crossing the de facto border” into Israel to seek work.
This is a fundamental difference between the two cases, one that has a profound impact on the possible solutions.
Sadly, in the West Bank, the Palestinians are widely employed in the building of the settlements and work in the enterprises there, which my friends and I have called to boycott. The economic misery of the population drives them to this perverse situation.
In Israel proper, Arab citizens complain about discrimination, which limits their employment in Jewish enterprises and government offices. The authorities regularly promise to do something about this kind of discrimination.
On the whole, the situation of the Arab minority inside Israel proper is much like that of many national minorities in Europe and elsewhere. They enjoy equality under the law, vote for parliament, are represented by very lively parties of their own, but in practice suffer discrimination in many areas. To call this apartheid would be grossly misleading.
I ALWAYS thought that one of the major differences was that the Israeli regime in the occupied territories expropriates Palestinian lands for Jewish settlements. This includes private property and so-called “government lands”.
In Ottoman times, the land reserves of the towns and villages were registered in the name of the Sultan. Under the British, these lands became government property, and they remained so under the Jordanian regime. When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, these lands were taken over by the occupation regime and turned over to the settlers, depriving the Palestinian towns and villages of the land reserves they need for natural increase.
By the way, after the 1948 war, huge stretches of Arab land in Israel were expropriated and a wide array of laws enacted for this purpose – not only the “absentee” property of the refugees, but also lands of Arabs who were declared “present absentees”’ – an absurd term meaning people who had not left Israel during the war but had left their villages. And the “government lands” in the part of Palestine that had become Israel also served to settle the masses of new Jewish immigrants who streamed into the country.
I always thought that in this respect we were worse than SA. Not so, said my friend, the apartheid government did exactly the same, deporting Blacks to certain areas and grabbing their land for Whites Only.
I ALWAYS thought that in SA all the Whites were engaged in the fight against all the Blacks. However, it appears that both sides were profoundly divided.
On the white side, there were the Afrikaners, the descendents of Dutch settlers, speaking a Dutch dialect called Afrikaans, and the British who spoke English. These were two communities of roughly equal size who disliked each other intensely. The British despised the unsophisticated Afrikaners, the Afrikaners hated the effete British. Indeed, the apartheid party called itself “nationalist” mainly because it considered itself a nation born in the country, while the British were attached to their homeland. (I am told that the Afrikaners called the British “salty penis”, because they stood with one foot in SA and with the other in Britain, so that their sexual organ dipped into the ocean.)
The black population was also divided into many communities and tribes who did not like each other, making it difficult for them to unite for the liberation struggle.
THE SITUATION in the West Bank is in many ways similar to the apartheid regime.
Since Oslo, the West Bank is divided into areas A, B and C, in which Israeli rule is exercised in different ways. In SA, there were many different Bantustans (“homelands”) with different regimes. Some were officially fully autonomous, others were partly so. All were enclaves surrounded by white territories.
In certain respects, the situation in SA was at least officially better than in the West Bank. Under SA law, the Blacks were at least officially “separate but equal”. The general law applied to all. This is not the case in our occupied territories, where the local population is subject to military law, which is quite arbitrary, while their settler neighbors are subject to Israeli civil law.
ONE CONTENTIOUS question: how far – if at all – did the international boycott contribute to the downfall of the apartheid regime?
When I asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he answered that the effect was mainly moral. It raised the morale of the black community. My new friend said the same – but applied it to the Whites. Their morale was undermined.
How much did this contribute to the victory? My friend estimated: about 30%.
The economic effect was minor. The psychological effect was far more important. The Whites considered themselves the vanguard of the West in the fight against communism. The ungratefulness of the West stunned them. (They would have wholeheartedly subscribed to the promise of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, that the future Jewish state would be the vanguard of Europe and a wall against Asiatic – viz. Arab – barbarism.)
It was no accident that apartheid broke down a few years after the collapse of the Soviet empire. The US lost interest. Can this happen in our relations with the US, too?
(By the way, young South African blacks who were sent by the African National Congress to the Soviet Union to study were shocked by the racism they met there. “They are worse than our Whites,” they commented.)
THE AREA where the boycott hit the apartheid people the most was sports. Cricket is a national obsession in SA. When they could no longer take part in international competitions, they felt the blow. Their self-confidence was broken.
Their international isolation forced them to think more deeply about the morality of apartheid. There was more and more self-questioning. In the final elections after the agreement, many Whites, including many Afrikaners, voted for the end of apartheid.
Will a boycott of Israel have the same effect? I doubt it. Jews are used to being isolated. “The whole world against us” is, for them, a natural situation. Indeed, I sometimes have the feeling that many Jews feel uncomfortable when the situation is different.
One huge difference between the two cases is that all South Africans – black, white, “coloured” or Indian – wanted one state. There were no takers for partition. (David Ben-Gurion, a great advocate of Palestine-style partition, once proposed concentrating all the Whites in SA in the Cape region and establishing there an Israel-style white state. No one was interested. A similar proposal by Ben-Gurion for Algeria met the same fate.)
In our case, a large majority on each side wants to live in a state of their own. The idea of a unified country, in which Hebrew-speaking Jewish Israelis and Arabic-speaking Palestinians will live side-by-side as equals, serving in the same army and paying the same taxes does not appeal to them at all.
APARTHEID WAS brought down by the Blacks themselves. No crypto-colonialist condescension can obscure this fact.
The mass strikes of African workers, on whom the white economy depended, made the position of the ruling Whites impossible. The mass uprising of the Blacks, who displayed immense physical courage, was decisive. In the end, the Blacks liberated themselves.
And another difference: in SA there was a Nelson Mandela and a Frederik de Klerk.
And the response ….
Does Uri Avnery know so little about Israel?
One of my concerns about Uri Avnery is that, whatever the good work he has done as a journalist and peace activist, especially in regard to the occupied territories, he still has an ability to write utter nonsense when it comes to what is happening inside Israel. It is difficult to know whether this is simple ignorance or a bad case of ideological blinkers. But it is also hard to believe a man who has studied his own society for so long can really know so little about what is going on there.
There is a lot to challenge in his latest piece, on the comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa, but the following paragraph really assaults the intellect:
On the whole, the situation of the Arab minority inside Israel proper is much like that of many national minorities in Europe and elsewhere. They enjoy equality under the law, vote for parliament, are represented by very lively parties of their own, but in practice suffer discrimination in many areas. To call this apartheid would be grossly misleading.
I’d love Avnery to point out the European state where, like Israel, 93 per cent of the land has been nationalised for one ethnic group (Jews) to the exclusion of another ethnic group (Palestinian Arabs). Or where vetting committees operate by law in hundreds of communities precisely to prevent one ethnic group (Palestinian Arabs) from living in these communities.
Or the European state, like Israel, where two separate citizenship laws exist – the Law of Return (1950) and the Citizenship Law (1952) – which are designed to confer rights on members of an ethnic group (Jews) who are not actually yet citizens or present in the state, privileging them over a group (Palestinian Arabs) who do have citizenship and are present in the state.
Or a European state that has 55 laws that explicitly discriminate based on which ethnic group you belong to.
Or a European state that, like Israel, defers some of what should be its sovereign powers to extra-territorial bodies such as the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund whose charters obligate them to discriminate based on ethnic belonging.
Or the European state that denies its citizens access to any civil institutions on personal status matters such as marriage, divorce and burial, requiring all citizens to submit to the whims and prejudices of religious leaders.
Or a European state which does not recognise its own nationality, and where the only way to join the dominant national group (Jews) or to immigrate is through conversion.
I’d be surprised if he could find one European state that has a single one of these characteristics. Even if he could, it would not have more than one of those characteristics. Israel has them all and many more.
Now tell me Israel discriminates against Palestinian Arab citizens the way European states do against their minorities.
Over 30 New York human rights advocates protested outside the performance of Israeli musician Idan Raichel at the Beacon Theatre this evening, calling Raichel “a self-proclaimed propagandist for the Israeli government” and its brutal, apartheid policies towards the Palestinian people. The peaceful, spirited protest of chanting and singing was met by hostility and racism from many concert-goers.
A number of Raichel’s fans began shouting obscenities and making vulgar gestures at the protesters, in two cases mocking the religious garb (video) some Muslim women wear (the headscarf, or hijab). One aggressive male fan repeatedly told a female protest chant leader, “You should die!” Another went out of his way to walk up to two female protesters and toss a lit cigarette between them. In contrast, one passer-by read an explanatory flier and then joined the protesters, adding her voice to chants such as, “Voice of peace? That’s a lie! Idan plays while people die,” and “Musicians must take a stand, no excuse for stealing land.”
Reason for the protest … (click on images to enlarge)
The Protestors …
Photos © by Bud Korotzer
J Street Students Speak Out On Being Shut Out of Jewish Debate at Berkeley
Student Union Bars Dovish Group at California Campus
By Shayna Howitt and Elon Rov
The recent decision by the Jewish Student Union at the University of California, Berkeley to reject an application for membership from J Street U points to a deep problem in the American Jewish community.
As leaders of J Street U at Berkeley who love Israel but worry about its future, we found this decision strange and disturbing. The clear message was that merely because we are concerned enough and intellectually curious enough to question some of Israel’s policies and practices, our group has no place under the pro-Israel tent. It forced us to question the limits our community has set on acceptable pro-Israel discourse.
We are both the product of years of Jewish education from Jewish Day School to summer camps where we were taught that Jewish values are inexplicably linked to concepts of human equality and social justice — indeed that concern for justice was one of the gifts Judaism has given the world.
During many trips to Israel, we have explored every corner of the country. Unlike some of our peers who stick to the regular tourist spots, we have also visited the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where we were challenged by our Israeli and Palestinian peers to examine the meaning and the daily reality of the occupation. We believe that speaking honestly about these experiences makes a serious contribution to the conversation around Israel at UC Berkeley.
Our experiences inspired us to become leaders in J Street U, the campus arm of J Street which promotes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a goal which is the official policy of the Israeli government and supported by a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians as well as American Jews.
The JSU, a Hillel supported umbrella organization, is supposed to unify all Jewish students. How then can it reject a vibrant, growing, enthusiastic movement like J Street U? Are our views so threatening, so radical? No, they are shared by the vast majority of American Jews and by a wide consensus of opinion in Israel itself. JSU’s rejection of J Street U’s membership is designed to drive students away — and is already doing so.
At a time when attachment to Israel among younger members of our community is weakening, as demonstrated by the recent Pew Research Center poll of American Jews, one would think that J Street U would be welcomed into the pro-Israel fold at Berkeley. Do they have so many friends, so many supporters that they can afford to turn us away?
Since the founding of our chapter, we have hosted many events aimed at educating Jewish students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and encouraging them to advocate for peace. Some of these students were first introduced to Berkeley Hillel, the center for Jewish life on campus, by attending a J Street U meeting.
Unfortunately, the leaders of the JSU are merely copying many of their elders, the so-called leaders of our community, so many of whom insist on a similar standard of ideological purity and discourage honest discussion about Israel. As Jews, we are raised and educated to question and discuss, but then are told that Israel is off-limits.
Who loses from this? Everyone. Israel loses the dedicated and critical supporters it so desperately needs. The Jewish community loses a generation of future leaders, alienated by the code of silence imposed on them. The JSU loses, too. Its withdrawal into its own narrow shell leaves campus discussions on Israel to be dominated by extremists.
Berkeley Hillel understands what’s at stake and we will work with our Hillel leaders to transform the JSU into a place of pluralism and we will continue to engage with Jewish students. We will host coffee talks, movie screenings, and challenging discussions. We will continue to advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We will demonstrate that Berkeley’s Jewish community is strong enough to welcome a diverse range of voices. Eventually, even JSU will get the message.
Shayna Howitt is national co-chair for communications of J Street U. Elon Rov ‘14 is co-chair of J Street U at Berkeley.
“Disappearing Palestine” ad banned by Toronto Transit Commission.
Toronto transit bans “Disappearing Palestine” ad claiming risk of anti-Jewish violence
The ad, sponsored by Canadians for a Just Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), is similar to others that have appeared in cities all over North America – including Vancouver.
CJPME has said it is ready to appeal the censorship of the ad all the way to Canada’s Supreme Court.
The centerpiece is a series of four maps that show the loss of control of Palestinian land to the Zionist movement and Israel between 1946 and the present.
The ad also states: “This is unfair. It is also illegal under international law.”
It includes an image of a Palestinian schoolgirl standing amid rubble resulting from an Israeli air attack in Gaza.
The copy of the ad shown above was provided to The Electronic Intifada by CJPME.
“Could advocate for violence.”
But TTC spokesman Brad Ross said that the transit body did not accept that Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land was either “unfair” or “illegal.”
“Making that statement may cause some … to then target Israelis and/or Jewish people. Some may view it as discriminatory, [and] could advocate for violence or hatred against Israel or the Jewish people,” Ross told The Toronto Star.
“There is no finding in our legal opinion of illegality around loss of land under international law … no court, no tribunal has ruled on loss of land being illegal,” Ross added.
B’Nai Brith, one of Canada’s most prominent anti-Palestinian organizations, issued a statement “congratulating” TTC for banning the ad.
Echoing the language used by the TTC itself, B’Nai Brith claimed that the ad was “misleading and inaccurate and could lead to hatred or violence against supporters of Israel and the Jewish community in particular.”
By conflating criticism of Israel and its policies with criticism of Jews, TTC seems perhaps unwittingly to be promoting anti-Semitic canards that Jews are collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.
B’Nai Brith has a history of censorship and supporting intolerance.
Last summer, Canada’s leading LGBTQ publication Daily Xtra revealed that B’Nai Brith had teamed up with Charles McVety, one of Canada’s most outspoken anti-LGBTQ campaigners, in an effort to persuade the city to defund Toronto Pride.
B’Nai Brith was incensed that Toronto Pride had not banned Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from marching in the parade.
CJPME has issued an action alert saying that the group “is ready to appeal this decision to the highest levels – including the Supreme Court.”
It urged the public to contact the TTC and send a message protesting the ban of the “Disappearing Palestine” ad:
The ads are both fair and accurate. Israel’s building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories indeed does clearly violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and UN Security Council Resolution 465 (1980). All of these laws forbid occupying powers, such as Israel, to transfer their civilians to the territories that they militarily occupy. Why are TTC staff denying that this is the case?
CJPME also alleged that it has faced obstruction and discrmination in trying to place the ads.
According to its website, it sent proposed designs of the ads to two transit authorities in June.
“Sadly, through various strategies over the summer, the transit companies and ad agencies have tried to prevent the ads from being posted. Designs were ‘lost,’ employees told to ‘drop the ads,’ emails and calls ignored.”
CJPME said that in September its lawyer “sent a letter to the TTC demanding that the transit authority respect CJPME’s constitutional rights to post the ads,” but instead it was notified on 21 October that the ad was rejected.
Illegal and ongoing land confiscation
TTC’s extraordinary finding runs wholly against international law, and even the nominal policies of Canada’s extremely pro-Israel Conservative government.
It also seems to go far beyond the organization’s remit of providing public transport to Toronto.
Numerous UN Security Council Resolutions, including, for example, Resolution 465, state clearly that Israel’s annexation and colonization of Palestinian land occupied since 1967 is illegal.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in the Hague found that the wall Israel has built in the occupied West Bank and its associated regime of land confiscation, is illegal and must be removed.
Moreover, when Israel was established in 1948, it conquered about twice the amount of land allocated to a putative Jewish state under UN resolution 181, a resolution which was never lawfully implemented.
The property rights and right of return of Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948, and their descendants, have been reaffirmed by overwhelming majorities in the UN General Assembly annually.
The Canadian government states that “Canada does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem.”
The government also reaffirms its support for Resolution 465, among others, confirming the illegality of Israeli colonization and settlement.
Recently, more than ninety Canadian writers took a public position against Israel’s ongoing evictions of Bedouins from their lands in the south of present-day Israel.
In August, Human Rights Watch called on Israel to halt the forced displacement of Bedouins which is carried out “based on discriminatory laws and rules, and without respect for the Bedouins’ dignity or the country’s human rights obligations.”
Some 40,000 more Bedouins, nominally citizens of Israel, currently face expulsion under Israel’s Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse and “Judaize” their traditional lands.
These are facts, but they are ones Toronto’s transit authorities do not want riders to know.
- ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Friends of Sabeel-North America
- If Americans Knew/Council for the National Interest
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- Muslim Public Affairs Council
- Neturei Karta
- Students for Justice in Palestine
- U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
ADL’s Statement …..
ADL Lists Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups in America in 2013
New York, NY, October 21, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued a list of the Top 10 most influential and active anti-Israel groups in the United States. Each of the selected groups, according to ADL’s research, is “fixated with delegitimizing Israel” and has demonstrated the ability to reach new segments of the American public with a hostile and misleading narrative about Israel.
“The Top 10 anti-Israel groups are the most significant players in the domestic anti-Israel movement today,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The groups are fixated on delegitimizing Israel and convincing the American public that Israel is an international villain that deserves to be ostracized and isolated.”
The Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups, as identified by ADL, are:
- ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Friends of Sabeel-North America
- If Americans Knew/Council for the National Interest
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- Muslim Public Affairs Council
- Neturei Karta
- Students for Justice in Palestine
- U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
In compiling the list, ADL considered various criteria, including the groups’ ability to organize, sponsor and endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel; their sponsorship of and participation in anti-Israel rallies, panel discussions or conferences; and their ability to pursue anti-Israel policy initiatives and lobbying efforts against Israel. Information on each of the groups, as well as a description of their tactics, is available in the full report on the League’s web site.
In addition to their national impact and influence, many of the groups included in the list are known to employ rhetoric that is extremely hostile to Israel, Zionists and/or Jews. Examples of this include:
- Allegations that Israel or Jews control the U.S. government or the media;
- Offensive parallels to the Holocaust by comparing Israeli leaders to Nazis or describing Gaza as the “new Auschwitz;”
- Calls for the dismantlement of the state of Israel;
- Expressions of support for terrorist groups that seek Israel’s destruction.
“The list represents the worst of the worst anti-Israel groups,” said Mr. Foxman. “They lob any and every accusation against Israel, including charges of Nazi-like crimes, ‘apartheid’ policies, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide. Their accusations are rarely, if ever, balanced with an acknowledgement of Israel’s repeated efforts to make peace with the Palestinians, or the legitimate terrorism concerns faced by Israeli citizens.”
ADL issued its first list of Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups in 2010 in the wake of the 2008-2009 war in Gaza. Since then, major shifts in the Middle East, as well as more aggressive efforts to delegitimize Israel through the BDS campaign, have resulted in a significantly altered domestic anti-Israel movement.
New to ADL’s list of the Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups are American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, Neturei Karta and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Despite MPAC’s positive role in the civil rights, counterterrorism and interfaith communities, the group’s involvement in anti-Israel campaigns and its leadership’s consistent use of anti-Israel rhetoric is extremely troubling.
Once again, the Jewish anti-Israel group “Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP) made the ADL list. The group’s leaders and members of its Rabbinical Council are regularly invited to major anti-Israel events and conferences, and the group claims that its Jewish nature gives it a “particular legitimacy in voicing an alternative view.” ADL further noted in its report that JVP “intentionally exploits Jewish culture and rituals” in an effort to convince other Jews that opposition to Israel does not contradict, but is consistent with, Jewish values.
Anti-Israel groups no longer ranking in the Top 10 have, for various reasons, scaled down the type of activity that merited their inclusion in the original report. They include The International Solidarity Movement, Al-Awda, the Muslim American Society, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Mondoweiss adds …..
Two days ago the Anti-Defamation League, which is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, issued a list of the top ten “anti-Israel” organizations in the U.S. This shocking sh*t-list (PDF here) includes Jewish Voice for Peace, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and CODEPINK and suggests that the groups are anti-Semitic.
In addition to their national impact and influence, many of the groups included in the list are known to employ rhetoric that is extremely hostile to Israel, Zionists and/or Jews. Examples of this include:
Allegations that Israel or Jews control the U.S. government or the media; Offensive parallels to the Holocaust by comparing Israeli leaders to Nazis or describing Gaza as the “new Auschwitz;” Calls for the dismantlement of the state of Israel; Expressions of support for terrorist groups that seek Israel’s destruction.
Now the New Israel Fund and J Street issued a statement deploring the list as “shortsighted and unproductive” for “lumping organizations which truly oppose Israel’s right to exist with others that harshly criticize Israeli government policy.”
Note that the recent Pew findings, which have rocked the Jewish world, figure in the liberal Zionist groups’ appeal for dialogue with, not denunciation of, those supporting BDS.
However, examining the individual reports on the 10 groups, it becomes clear that the “sin” of several does not go much beyond support for the BDS movement or partnering with those who do. For instance, the indictment of “CODEPINK” reads: “CODEPINK’s objective is to reduce U.S. support for Israel and end U.S.-led wars and military campaigns in the Middle East and elsewhere. Though some of its initiatives have little to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (e.g. opposition to U.S. drone strikes, the closing of Guantanamo Bay), four of the 12 “Issues” listed on its website are about Israel, including a call for BDS against Israel and advocacy on ending U.S. aid to Israel.”
Meanwhile, the ADL admits that the Muslim Public Affairs Council explicitly recognizes Israel and supports a two-state solution, but partners with groups in the BDS movement. This is guilt by association and an unfair indictment of an organization that seeks dialogue with our community.
Issuing such blanket denunciations is ultimately self-defeating. Indeed, such condemnations have been issued, and are occasionally still issued, against our own organizations by various self-appointed guardians of ideological purity, who often turn out to be fronting an ultra-nationalist, pro-settlement agenda in Israel. That’s why we believe so strongly in open debate, why we do not launch guerrilla media campaigns against those who oppose our progressive values and why we must speak out when other organizations, including those with whom we profoundly disagree, are smeared with the same tactics.
We have the deepest respect for the ADL and the important role it has played in combatting anti-Semitism and racism in the United States. It should continue to do this by cataloging and drawing attention to specific cases wherever they occur. It should however be wary of devaluing the reality of anti-Semitism by applying the charge broadly against political organizations whose aims and tactics it disagrees with or suggesting that vigorous criticism of Israeli policy equates to anti-Semitism. And it should be careful not to further alienate the majority of American Jews who, as the recent Pew survey demonstrates, care deeply about Israel, but are no longer convinced that Israel or the Palestinians are sincerely searching for peace.
There is room for an important debate about BDS, a debate we believe we can win and are winning. We can and should discuss the contours of a final negotiated settlement, Israel’s future as a democracy and the complexities of Israel-Diaspora relations.
This list makes no contribution to those debates. We hope that 2013 is the last year it is issued.
Jacob Bender Is First Jew To Lead Chapter of Muslim Advocacy Group CAIR
Philly Activist Faces Hostilty From Jewish Establishment
By Nathan Guttman
Jacob Bender is set to be the voice of Philadelphia-area Muslims, to take on discrimination they encounter in workplace and in the public sphere, and to fight expressions of hate.
And his Jewish faith, Bender believes, can only help him do the job effectively.
“The Muslim community is under attack from Islamophobic forces, and it is the obligation and responsibility of people of good will to stand up and say this is a bigoted attack,” Bender said. “This is fully in keeping with my life goals.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations’ Philadelphia branch announced the appointment of Bender as its executive director October 15. Bender is the first Jew, and the first non-Muslim, to serve as director of a CAIR branch.
“The needs of the Muslim community are really the needs of any minority community in the United States,” said Iftekhar Hussein, chairman of CAIR-Philadelphia’s board of directors. “Jacob, being Jewish, understands that from his own background.”
An activist on Jewish-Muslim interfaith issues who has been involved in the past on the progressive end of Middle East peace advocacy, Bender will face two entirely different sets of expectations in his new position.
He will meet a local Muslim community expecting a non-Muslim to represent its needs just as well as would a member of their own faith.
He will also face a national Jewish leadership that has all but deemed CAIR off-limits for any dialogue.
In a lengthy document published in 2006, the Anti-Defamation League accused CAIR of holding extreme positions on Israel and of having links to individuals and groups that expressed support for terror organizations.
Jewish groups have also pointed in the past to the fact that CAIR was initially named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of the Holy Land Foundation, an American-based charity charged with raising funds for Hamas. But in 2012 a circuit court ordered that the reference to CAIR be expunged.
“CAIR is far off the radar screen of the Jewish community,” said Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “The Jewish community looked at their record and said, ‘We won’t work with this group.’”
While no official policy has been adopted, the Jewish community has excluded CAIR from all joint interfaith activities with the Muslim community and has focused on ties with the Islamic Society of North America and with local mosques and imams.
CAIR and Bender reject the Jewish organizations’ claims that the group is in any way extreme. “There will always be those who will try to demonize other groups,” Bender said. “As someone who has long supported Palestinian rights and was critical of the policy of occupation, I find no contradiction between my long-stated opinions on the Middle East and those of CAIR.”
Israel is not a top issue for CAIR, especially its branches, which tend to deal more with countering discrimination against Muslims within the local community. Still, for many in the Jewish community, the Arab-Israeli issue is viewed as the key obstacle distancing CAIR from the American Jewish establishment.
Could having an American Jew in a leadership position bridge the divides between the two sides? Most respond with a mix of hope and skepticism.
“There’s always potential for change,” Hussein said, while noting that building ties with Jewish organizations wasn’t the motivation behind hiring Bender for the post. “Those who are not in contact with CAIR should come to the table and understand that we are a civil rights organization.”
Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement to the Forward that “time will tell.” Bender’s Jewish faith, he said, does not necessarily matter. “Unfortunately, there are Jews who are anti-Jewish and anti-Israel,” Foxman added, “but we will wait and see.”
Bender’s interest in the Muslim community began after the 9/11 terror attacks. A video and television producer, he began organizing interfaith meetings and speaking out against expressions of Islamophobia that have increased following the attacks.
In 2009, the documentary he directed, “Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Ours,” was released. The film is “about Jews, Muslims and Christians struggling against the hijacking of their religions by extremists,” Bender wrote in a short description accompanying the movie.
The film focuses on two historical contemporaries from medieval Spain: the Jewish philosopher Maimonides and the Muslim thinker Averroes. Through these two profiles, Bender sought to challenge “the propositions that there is an inevitable ‘clash of civilizations’ between the West and the Muslim world.”
For the past two years, Bender has been traveling with the movie to Jewish and Muslim communities nationwide, speaking about the need for greater interfaith understanding. In the 1980s Bender was active in several Jewish progressive organizations advocating a two-state solution. He later served as executive director of the American Friends of Meretz, the left-wing Israeli political party.
His job at CAIR-Philadelphia, one of a network of 20 independent chapters across the country, will focus primarily on countering anti-Muslim discrimination. In recent years the chapter has been among the key groups fighting against anti-Sharia laws proposed in Pennsylvania. It has spoken out publicly against anti-Muslim stereotypes following the Boston marathon bombing.
Bender’s background in filmmaking and public speaking, the group’s lay leaders noted, made him fit for the role of a spokesman for the organization and for Muslim civil rights.
“I’ve never had any question or negative feeling about CAIR ever since I came in contact with them,” Bender said. “I’ve never encountered any anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic sentiment. The opposite is true.”