The Empire State Building lit in the colors of the South African Flag to observe the passing of Nelson Mandela, New York City, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.AP
A man holds up candles to a mural in Harlem depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela on Dec. 5, 2013. (credit: Getty Images)
The marquee at the historic Apollo Theater announces the death of former South African President and civil rights champion Nelson Mandela, on December 5, 2013. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Tribunal Issues Landmark Verdict against Israel for Genocide ~ Yoichi Shimatsu, Global Research.
To a crowded courtroom on the late afternoon of November 25, presiding Judge Lamin Mohd Yunus announced the verdict by an international panel of seven jurists:
“The Tribunal is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the first defendant, (General) Amos Yaron, is guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide, and the second defendant, the State of Israel, is guilty of genocide.”
- In contrast to other non-official courts of conscience on Palestinian rights, for example, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (New York 2012), the prosecution in Kuala Lumpur took a step beyond war crimes and crimes against humanity to the higher and broader charge of genocide.
- The decision was rendered during the ongoing commission of the alleged crime by the defendant, rather than after the fact as in earlier genocide cases.
- Instead of limiting its ruling to individuals who ordered genocidal actions, the jurists also charged the state as a defendant.
- As a consequence, this case breaks the tradition of immunity of nation-states from criminal prosecution under international law.
- The decision introduces a legal basis for international action to protect minorities from genocide as a lawful alternative to the current response of so-called humanitarian intervention, invasion, occupation and regime change, which have often been as illegitimate and more destructive, and in some cases as genocidal as the original violation being punished.
The Kuala Lumpur Tribunal based its momentous decision on the 1948 Genocide Convention, which prohibits and punishes the killing, causing of harm and deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a group of people, targeted for their ethnicity, religion or race. In instances of genocide, these criminal acts are done with the specific intent of destroying as a part or in whole of the targeted group, as in this plight the Palestinian people.
The defendants, Gen. Yaron and the Israeli State , through its representatives, refused to accept the Tribunal summons and appear in court.
Prominent Israeli legal scholars also refused invitations to serve as defense counsel. The Tribunal therefore appointed an Amicus Curae (defense counsel, referred to by the Latin term for “friends of the court”), including attorneys Jason Kay Kit Leon, Larissa Cadd, Dr. Rohimi Shapiee and Matthew Witbrodt, to defend the accused. Even absent Israeli participation, the defense proved to be forceful and often made heated remarks in Israel’s defense, especially during the cross-examinations of expert witnesses.
Why Not New York , London , Paris or Berlin
One point to note is that the sponsoring Kuala Lumpur Commission on War Crimes and its associated international Tribunal is unrelated to Malaysia and its legal system, aside from the participation of some Malaysian jurists and citizens in its proceedings. Malaysian laws are in many areas quite different from and sometimes in diametric opposition to the legal opinions of the international Tribunal. The independence of this “court of conscience” allows an approach to international law unconstrained by local norms, but this also means that the Tribunal lacks an enforcement capability.
That the first-ever Tribunal to prosecute Israel for genocide was initiated in Southeast Asia offers some indication of the continuing sensitivity within the traditional “center” of international law, Western Europe and North America, toward the circumstances behind Israel’s creation.
The Kuala Lumpur proceedings are bound to raise controversy and discomfort, especially among a reluctant West, since the historical motive behind creating a modern Jewish state in 1948 was largely a response to the abandonment of European Jewry to the pogroms and extermination program of the Third Reich, which in its early stages went unopposed by Western governments and prominent opinion leaders in the Atlantic community.
The courage to finally confront Israel after nearly seven decades of eviction and merciless brutality against the Palestinian people was summoned not by the Atlantic community but in faraway Southeast Asia , where a law case could be pursued with critical distance, logical dispassion and an absence of historical complicity. In short, an evidence-based fair trial found Israel to be guilty of genocide.
Why then was Israel singled out by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission on genocide charges before its Tribunal, when many other states have gone unpunished? Chief prosecutor Gurdial Singh explained:
“Other settler states, for example Australia, have offered compensation and apologized for the dispossession and harm to their indigenous populations, while Israel remains unapologetic and continues its campaign of destruction against Palestinians and to make their conditions unlivable inside and outside its borders.”
In contrast with previous special courts involving genocide charges, this Tribunal left the time frame of events open-ended, by starting just before the creation of the State of Israel until the present and, presumably, into the future until Israel ceases its expansionist campaign against the Palestinians and offers instead justice and reconciliation. By comparison in prior cases invoking the Genocide Convention, including those against former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Sierra Leone, the mass killings of civilians were perpetrated within a short time-frame by political leaders of the then-governing regime or by a major political faction.
The Kuala Lumpur Tribunal asserted that the modern Jewish state, in contrast to other cases, had since even before its inception pursued a genocidal program as a consistent feature and indeed a foundation of state policy. Therefore, genocide in the Israeli case cannot be solely attributed as the isolated action of a leader, political party or elected government but remains the responsibility of the state itself.
Genocide as Response
The specific intent of Israeli state policy, since even before the founding of Israel, was discussed in a live-video transmission by expert witness Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian at University of Exeter in the UK and the director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies. His research has revealed that a planning group of top-ranking Jewish military leaders in the Haganah militia, led by David Ben Gurion (who later became Israel’s first prime minister) devised an ethnic-cleansing program to rid the future Israel of its Arab predecessors. Called Plan Dalet (the letter “D” indicating the fourth plan of a colonialist agenda) was to be activated as soon as the British suspended the Palestine Mandate.
With the declaration of Israeli statehood in 1948, a coordinated armed campaign by Israeli military forces and paramilitary units against hundreds of Palestinian urban neighborhoods and rural villages led to the flight of an estimated 700,000 refugees from Palestine and parts of neighboring Trans-Jordan, including Jerusalem . Although the Israeli intent was intended to intimidate the Palestinians into relocating outside the borders, but before long village populations that refused to flee were mass murdered.
The forcible deportation of indigenous inhabitants from their homes and land was a criminal act of ethnic cleansing, Pappe said. That policy, however, soon metamorphosed into a systematic campaign to destroy Palestinians, that is, genocide. Under cross-examination by defense team, the historian explained, that as an Israeli citizen and son of Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi-ruled Germany , it is morally, ethically and historically inconsistent to condemn the genocide against Jews while endorsing a new one against Palestinians.
Cumulative Record of Crimes
The Israeli record of massacres, extrajudicial killings and daily harassment of Palestinian comprises a continuum of criminal behavior over the past 67 years. Given the overwhelming evidence, the prosecution team therefore decided to focus on key cases, which were extensively reported in the news media and/or were subject of investigations. These included:
- the September 1982 massacre of Palestinians, mainly women and children, at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in a southwest district of Beirut, Lebanon;
- lethal firing of teargas canisters and “rubber” bullets by Israeli Defense Forces that resulted in the deaths of unarmed civilians during the Intifada campaigns and subsequent protests; and
- intensive and indiscriminate aerial bombing and artillery shelling of civilian quarters in the Gaza Strip in 2008.
Among the witnesses who testified in person or via video transmission included:
- a former university student who was shot without warning at a peaceful protest by an Israeli sniper firing a fragmentary bullet that caused extensive and permanent damage to his internal organs;
- a Christian resident of the West Bank who was repeatedly imprisoned and tortured on grounds of subversion;
- a female resident of Nablus who suffered mental anxiety due to her imprisonment and subsequent social ostracism; and
- two men from the Al Sammouni clan of Gaza, which lost 21 family members, mainly children and women, in an Israeli commando raid on their home.
- a Palestinian physician who conducted studies on the psychological trauma inflicted, particularly on children, as result of constant intimidation, massive violence and state terror during and following the second Intifada;
- Expert witness Paola Manduca, an Italian chemist and toxicologist, who found extreme levels of toxic contamination of the soil and water across the Gaza Strip caused by Israeli weapons made of heavy metals and cancer-causing compounds.
Professor Pappe said that the mass killing of defenseless civilians trapped without avenues of escape within a cordon or enclosure is clear evidence of genocidal policy, as happened inside the Beirut refugee camps surrounded by Israeli tanks and hostile Phalangist militiamen and inside Gaza cities that are ringed by a wall-fence.
For the Beirut atrocity, Israeli Defense Force commander General Amos Yaron was charged in absentia for crimes against humanity and genocide. Among the witnesses who testified in person on the Camps Sabra and Shatilla events were:
- Chahira Abouardini, a widow whose husband and three children were murdered by Israeli-allied militiamen at Camp Shatilla, provided a graphic account of the carnage, describing piles of bullet-riddled bodies and, in one case, of a pregnant women whose belly had been slit open and with her dead unborn child left on top of her corpse. She recounted how refugees were rounded up from their homes and lined against walls for summary execution by automatic weapons fire.-
- Dr. Ang Swee Chai, a London-based Singaporean surgeon and medical volunteer at the time at a hospital run by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, with the aid of the International Committee of the Red Cross, testified that another Beirut hospital had been bombed by Israeli jets, all Palestinian facilities including schools and hospitals were deliberately destroyed by artillery barrages and explosive charges, and ambulances were intercepted and their drivers shot dead. She stated that an Israeli observation post positioned in the 7-storey Kuwaiti Embassy, located on a hilltop, had an unobstructed view of the refugee camp, indicating that the Israeli forces were directing a joint operation to exterminate the refugees left behind under the international plan to withdraw the PLO from Lebanon . In her forensic investigation of the bullet wound that injured a male nurse at her hospital, Dr. Ang determined that the sniper fire had come from the Israeli-occupied Embassy building
Considering the Israeli checkpoints on roads and its vantage points, Brigadier General Amos Yaron as field commander of the Beirut incursion and occupation, had effective control over the camps. His close liaison with the local militia leader meant that Yaron had condoned the 36-hour rampage by militiamen, which led to an estimated 3,500 civilian deaths. No orders were issued to prevent the one-sided violence, prosecutor Aziz Rahman argued before the Tribunal. A 1983 special commission report, under its chairman Nobel Laureate Sean MacBride, concluded that Israel had “complicity in genocide”. Research findings gathered since then indicate that Yaron was not merely complicit but held personal responsibility for the massacre.
A point contested by the Amicus Curae defense team was that then Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, an official of superior rank, should have been prosecuted instead of Gen. Yaron. (The prosecution had earlier declined to serve notice on Sharon, who has been in a coma for many years and is unable to testify in hisown defense. Moreover, Yaron had wide sway of authority as field commander in a battle zone outside the borders of Israel .) Prosecutor Gurdial Singh pointed out that Israel not only failed to file criminal charges against Yaron and his subordinates but subsequently awarded and repeatedly promoted the general and his circle. Yaron was therefore found guilty as accused.
Responsibility of the State
International law has traditionally taken for granted the immunity of states from prosecution by a court in another country. There are several reasons for immunity of states, even for high crimes such as genocide and serious violations of various humanitarian codes.
- International law and the treaty system are based on the principle of equality among states, which are parties to and enforcers of international agreements. The criminal conviction of a state for serious crimes would automatically weigh against the accused party, thereby causing an imbalance in relations and introducing unfairness to the international system.
-The sovereignty of states is a fundamental protection against aggression or undue interference by a foreign state or alliance of nation-states.
- As argued by defense counsel Matthew Witbrodt, prosecution of and penalties imposed on a state would result in collective punishment of all of its citizens. (Since the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, the international community has tried to avoid forms of collective punishment, including heavy war reparations.)
On the other side of the coin, total immunity for the state can encourage violations of international law by dictatorial, racist and/or bigoted regimes. The absence of legal challenge by foreign courts therefore leaves few legitimate means to pressure the offending state. The more “peaceful” methods include economic sanctions, which can be interpreted as a type of collective punishment against a victimized citizenry.
With no legal recourse to counter mass atrocities, other states then must launch interventions through extralegal and often illegal strategies of covert warfare, proxy insurgencies or biased peacekeeping operations. The subsequent invasion and occupation by self-appointed saviors can be more harmful to the people, and to the principles of law, than the original violations of the offending regime.
Thus, quoting its opinion upon the verdict, a “reason the Tribunal wishes to reject the doctrine of absolute state immunity from prosecution in matters of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity is that the existing international law on war and peace, and humanitarianism, is being enforced in a grossly inequitable manner. Small, weak nations, mostly in Africa and Asia , are periodically subjected to devastating sanctions, military interventions and regime changes. At the same time, unbearable atrocities and brutalities are inflicted on the military weak nations of Latin America, Africa and Asia by powerful nations in the North Atlantic and their allies go unscrutinized and unpunished.”
The alternative to the law of the jungle applied by self-appointed unilateral powers or coalitions of the willing is the reform of international law to balance sovereignty with the responsibility of the state for high crimes such as genocide.
In its opinion on the ruling, the Tribunal therefore offered a rational method for limiting sovereignty in cases of gross crimes: “Where there is a conflict between two principles of law, the one hierarchically higher in importance should prevail. To our mind, the international law doctrine against impleading (suing) a foreign state, being lower than that that of the prohibition against genocide, resulted in the charge against the State of Israel.”
The Tribunal did not spell out how a genocide ruling can be enforced or provide a model for a reconstitution of state. Presumably and theoretically, the general effect of genocide-based restrictions on sovereignty would be to dissuade and deter state administrations from perpetrating mass atrocities with impunity. Under a legal standard for common action to stop genocide, a preventive intervention could then proceed under accepted rules of engagement and with safeguards against unwarranted violence by peacekeepers. When an inherently extreme policy in embedded in the constitution or state regulations, a lawfully grounded international authority could then abolish that state structure and reconstitute a legitimate state subject to a referendum. A legal process for constitutional change is far preferable to the current method of arbitrary regime change favorable to the interests of and politically subservient to an occupation authority. This remains hypothetical, showing only that the international community is yet to seriously consider the alternative to the present unlawful model.
Restriction of state sovereignty, as the Tribunal noted, is a new and evolving trend in international law. The U.S. permits its citizens to file lawsuits in federal court against states that harbor terrorists, and although this is covered under tort law, such cases inherently restrict the sovereignty of foreign countries. The European Union has also constrained the sovereignty of member states. Under the 1978 State Immunity Act, the British privy council ruled that vessels owned by foreign governments are subject to the same liability laws as commercial vessels.
As argued by the Tribunal panel in their opinion, “We find it rather mind-boggling when some courts can consider commercial disputes as a reason for not allowing a state to be shielded by the state immunity principle and yet strenuously protect such a state in cases of genocide or other war crimes. Human lives cannot be less important than financial gain.”
The vigorous and often well-founded arguments by the Amicus Curae team in defense of Israel were constructive criticism that greatly helped to focus the Tribunal on the complexities of international law. In heated courtroom debate, defense counsel Jason Kay Kit Leon opined that “the elephant in the room” was Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, for instance, the launching of unguided rockets at settlements, and that Israeli forces have acted in self-defense. The thrust of his claim was based on “In Defense of Israel” by Harvard law scholar and attorney Alan Dershowitz.
The jurists, however, accepted the prosecution argument. “It is our finding that much of the Palestinian-generated violence is not on Israel’s own territory, but from and on Israeli-occupied Palestinian land. Much of the violence perpetrated by Palestinians in a reaction to the brutalities of the vicious racism and genocide that is a tragic feature of Palestinian life.”
The opinion went further, by stating: “We also hold that the force of the IDF is excessive, totally disproportionate and a violation of international humanitarian law. The methods used are unspeakably inhumane and amount to war crimes.”
Earlier disputes within the Commission had led to a two-month adjournment of trial proceedings due to harsh and sometimes bitter accusations between participants. In the conflicted process, several judges recused themselves or were absent due to schedule conflicts and one prominent prosecutor resigned in protest of suspected tampering of the judicial panel. These controversies fortunately served to clarify rather than muddy the legal issues and court procedures, resulting in stronger arguments on both sides. Taking Israel to task is never an easy proposition.
Thereby, a stunning precedent in international law was achieved with the Tribunal’s unanimous decision to charge a state for the high crime of genocide. The arguments and verdict against the State of Israel will undoubted be a hotly debated test case for legal scholars over years to come. Since its Charter does not allow an appeal process, the case of “The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission Against the State of Israel” will stand as the nub of controversy for human-rights law and the principle of sovereignty for nation-states.
While citing several precedents, the strongest argument for implication of the state is outlined in the 2007 genocide case of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia , which covered the Sebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslms by Serb-dominated federal armed forces. As Canadian jurist John Philpot, who earlier served on the Rwanda Tribunal, pointed out following the reading of the verdict “Bosnia/Herzegovina clearly laid out the culpability of the state and thus served as the precedent for our judgment against Israel .”
According to the Bosnia/Herzogovina ruling, “Genocide is a international crime entailing national and international responsibility on the part of individuals and states” and “if an organ of the state, or a person or group whose acts are legally attributable to the state, commits any of the acts proscribed by Article 3 of the (Genocide) Convention, the international responsibility of that state is incurred.
A point to note: The Rwanda and Yugoslavia genocide cases, are considered by some legal experts to be flawed by the underlying covert and illegal factor of great-power interference. These cases were cited infrequently and judiciously by the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal, which exercised proper case in selection of appropriate passages, while relying on a much wider range of legal precedents in regard to liability of the state.
Critique: Going Beyond Reparations
Until this genocide ruling by the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal, offending states and their foreign sponsors have evaded responsibility while the entire burden of guilt has been placed on the individual agents of weak nation-states. Under the Tribunal ruling, both the core state apparatus – including the executive office, military command, intelligence agencies, supportive ministries and, in many cases, the judiciary and police – bear as much and, in some cases, more criminal responsibility for genocide as individual leaders or military officers.
Yet that is still insufficient when the primary responsibility should rest on powerful sponsor states that move from supporting the offending regime toward punishing its rebellious hubris. The nexus of powerful and ruthless states and global elites, with their machinery for war-making and arms production, creates the political state of siege, the economic strangulation and the covert weapons trade that prompt weaker states to perpetrate genocide.
Barely addressed in just one paragraph of the Tribunal opinion is the reality that powerful states oppose any dilution of their absolute state immunity with the unspoken objective of preserving their war-making powers. The dominant Atlantic allies have cited genocide solely as a pretext to expand their global domain though invasions under a broad and vague “responsibility to protect” principle and have imposed new constitutions on defeated adversaries authored by foreign legal scholars while guised as the ideals of domestic political revolutions. Meanwhile, their own genocidal state structures, centered in the national-security structure and military command, categorically reject any international controls over extralegal interventions operated under the cover of humanitarian operations.
Also, in limiting its call for remedial action to reparations from Israel , the Tribunal wasted a precious opportunity to demand full justice for the Palestinian nation. What is realistically required is an international peacekeeping force to guarantee the withdrawal of the Israeli miltary and police force from Palestinian territory until a domestic law-enforcement and security force can take over; the elimination of wall-fences, checkpoints and other barriers to the free movement of citizens; the return of occupied land in Palestine; financial restitution for the loss of lands and property inside the boundaries of Israel; and an official apology for the countless crimes committed.
Furthermore, the continuity of genocide perpetrated by the core state structure and abetted by the complicity of much of the Israeli population demands that the offending state must be reorganized under a new constitution free of religious bias and racial discrimination to ensure legal norms that prevent a repetition of genocide. This objective should require an international occupation of Israel in event that powerful elements in Israeli society refuse to comply with international law. Israel should be spared the violence unleashed against the Third Reich, but stern justice and strong rule of law are nonetheless required in situations of ideological conformity based on the goals of genocide.
Courage and Wisdom
Whatever its few shortcomings, the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal demonstrated immense courage, foresight and wisdom in leveling the long-overdue charge of genocide against the State of Israel. The Tribunal correctly framed genocide in the context of international law rather than merely as a localized violation. The verdict along with the sophisticated judicial opinion provides an important initiative toward deterring the great powers from promoting and exploiting genocides among weaker nations and victimized peoples.
The Tribunal verdict raised not only a legal challenge to supporters of the Zionist cause in the United States and Europe but also appealed to universal moral principles in the tradition of high-minded rhetoric. “Much as we condemn violence and pray for peace, it must be stated that no power on Earth can douse the flame of freedom from the human spirit. As long as there is suppression, there will always be people prepared to die on their feet rather than live on their knees.”
The precedent-setting decision by the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal is a giant step forward not only for dispossessed Palestinians but also for humanity as a whole.
Author: Yoichi Shimatsu, an East and Southeast Asia focused journalist, is former editor of The Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo.
Testimony by Dr. Ilan Pappe on Genocide in Palestine by Israel
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal Hearing on Palestine–Testimony by Dr. Ilan Pappe.
On November 22, 2013, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) went into the third day of the hearing on genocide and war crimes charges against the State of Israeland Amos Yaron, a retired Israeli army general.
The tribunal heard the testimony of renowned historian and socialist activist, Prof Ilan Pappe, who informed the tribunal about the systematic ethnic cleansing via expulsion and killing of the Palestinians from their homeland since 1948. Three witnesses from West Bank also gave an account of their trials and tribulations under the Israelis.
The testimony of Dr. Pappe was an interesting and revealing account of the Israeli leadership strategy to rid the Palestinians from their homeland since the 1940s. He testified that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s leaders then.
He testified that the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 constituted ethnic cleansing, as the Zionists movement was not concerned with the native people. He revealed that it was as early as in the 1940s when it began deliberating the fate of the indigenous people of Palestine and that they wanted to take over Palestine with as little Palestinians in it by having them leave voluntarily or be forced out.
He further revealed that from 1948 until 1949, the plan was enforced by Israeli forces to cleanse villages and towns of Palestinians by encircling the villages/towns from three flanks to intimidate the residents into leaving by leaving one flank open. Some 530 villages were wiped out physically. Under the partition plan, 56% of the land was to be handed to Israel wherein the 2/3 of the population was Palestinians. In the end, 93% of the land came under the control of Israel and 750,000 Palestinians were left out as refugees in neighbouring countries, in Gaza and West Bank. After the 1967 war, Gaza and West Bank were occupied.
He added that having taken over most of Palestine territories, the policy changed from expelling to destroying the Palestinians. Hence, the Sabra & Shatilla massacre was an attempt to destroy Palestinians in Lebanon.
He told the tribunal that the use of military action against Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank was considered genocidal against people who cannot defend themselves. Military operations such as Summer Rains, Autumn Clouds, and Cast Lead were just to kill the Palestinians and destroy the economy, culture and their spirit.
In cross-examination by Amicus Curiae Jason Kay, Prof Pappe agreed that his view of history is a minority view and that while he is grateful that the Zionist movement had saved his parents from the Nazi holocaust for which he is grateful; however, the moral way is to live together with the Palestinians, not expel and kill them.
Original post AT
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
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
Tunisian player refuses to play against an Israeli
Tennis: Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri has given a walkover against Israel’s Amir Weinstraub, as he was asked to do by the Tunisian Tennis Federation. The news was confirmed by Tunisia’s state agency.
Malek Jaziri was drawn to play Amir Weintraub in the Quarterfinal of ATP Challenger Tennis tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. But he was sent an email by his country’s federation, which barred him from playing.
Tunisia’s state news agency says the national federation sent an email to Jaziri that stated “you are ordered not to play against the Israeli player.”
Muslim players have refused to play their Israeli opponents in many sports in the past.
Pink Floyd star’s new Israel boycott letter to “family of Rock and Roll”
Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.
Pink Floyd star Roger Waters has today published a long-awaited open letter calling on his fellow musicians to boycott Israel.
The letter explains that Waters has been part of the boycott, divestment and sanctionsmovement for seven years, and has been mulling the letter over for some time.
He condemns Israeli human rights violations and explains the reasons to act:
Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments [to act] … it falls to civil society and conscientious citizens of the world, to dust off our consciences, shoulder our responsibilities, and act. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel … proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel …
In an exclusive interview with The Electronic Intifada’s David Cronin back in March, Waters revealed he had been drafting the letter.
“What caused me to write this public letter was an affair where Stevie Wonder was hired to play a gala dinner for the Israeli Defense Forces,” he said, recounting how he and others wrote to Wonder asking him to cancel – which he eventually did.
The interview went viral at the time, gaining the attention of Rolling Stone, among others.
By April the letter had yet to appear and, following an interview with The Huffington Post that Waters says was “misinterpreted,” several media reports claimed Waters was “reconsidering” his position on boycotting Israel.
Waters wrote on Facebook soon afterwards that he had only meant he was considering the text of the letter, and not “my position on the Israel/Palestine issue” overall.
The publication of this letter today makes Waters’ position in favor of on the boycott of Israel clear – in support of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
18th August 2013, Warsaw To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll
Nigel Kennedy the virtuoso British violinist and violist, at The Recent Promenade Concerts at The Albert Hall in London, mentioned that Israel is apartheid. Nothing unusual there you might think, then one Baroness Deech, (Nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement. Baroness Deech produced not one shred of evidence to support her claim and yet the BBC, non political, supposedly, acting solely on Baroness Deech’s say so, suddenly went all 1984 on us. Well!! Time to stick my head above the parapet again, alongside my brother, Nigel Kennedy, where it belongs. And by the way, Nigel, great respect man. So here follows a letter last re-drafted in July.
25th July 2013 To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll.
In the wake of the tragic shooting to death of un-armed teenager Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer Zimmerman, yesterday, Stevie Wonder spoke at a gig declaring that he will not perform in the State of Florida until that State repeals its “Stand your ground” Law. In effect he has declared a boycott on grounds of conscience. I applaud his position, and stand with him, it has brought back to me a statement I made in a letter I wrote last February 14th, to which I have referred but have never published.
The time has come, so here it is.
This letter has been simmering on the back burner of my conscience and consciousness for some time.
It is seven years since I joined BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) a non violent movement to oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. The aim of BDS is to bring international attention to these Israeli policies, and hopefully, to help bring them to an end. All the people of the region deserve better than this.
To cut to the chase, Israel has been found guilty, independently, by international human rights organizations, UN officials, and the International Court of Justice, of serious breaches of international law. These include, and I will name only two;
- The Crime of Apartheid: The systematic oppression of one ethnic group by another. On 9 March 2012, for instance, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to end its racist policies and laws that contravene the prohibition against racial segregation and apartheid.
- The Crime of Ethnic Cleansing: The forcible removable of indigenous peoples from their rightful land in order to settle an occupying population. For example, in East Jerusalem non Jewish families are routinely physically evicted from their homes to make way for Jewish occupants.
There are others.
Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments, or the United Nations Security Council to put pressure on Israel to cease these violations, and make reparations to the victims, it falls to civil society and conscientious citizens of the world, to dust off our consciences, shoulder our responsibilities, and act. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel, to shed light on these problems and also to support all our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Israel who are struggling to end all forms of Israeli oppression and who wish to live in peace, justice, equality and freedom.
I am writing to you all now because of two recent events.
1) Stevie Wonder. Word came to me, the first week of last December that Stevie Wonder had been booked to headline at a gala dinner for the Friends of The Israeli Defence Force in LA on 6th December 2012. An event to raise money for the Israeli armed forces, as if the $4,300,000,000 that we the US tax payers give them each year were not enough? This came right after The Israeli defence Force had concluded yet another war on Gaza, (Operation Pillar of Defence), according to human rights watch, committing war crimes against the besieged 1.6 million Palestinians there.
Anyway, I wrote to Stevie to try to persuade him to cancel. My letter ran along these lines, “Would you have felt OK performing at the Policeman’s Ball in Johannesburg the night after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 or in Birmingham Alabama, to raise money for the Law Enforcement officers, who clubbed, tear gassed and water cannoned those children trying to integrate in 1963?” Archbishop Desmond Tutu also wrote an impassioned plea to Stevie, and 3,000 others appended their names to a change.org petition. Stevie, to his great credit, cancelled!
2) Earlier that week I delivered a speech at The United Nations. If you are interested you can find this speech on you tube.
The interesting thing about these two stories is that there was NOT ONE mention of either story in the mainstream media in the United States.
The clear inference would be that the media in the USA is not interested in the predicament of the Palestinian people, or for that matter the predicament of the Israeli people. We can only hope they may become interested as they eventually did in the politics of apartheid South Africa.
Back in the days of Apartheid South Africa at first it was a trickle of artists that refused to play there, a trickle that exercised a cultural boycott, then it became a stream, then a river then a torrent and then a flood. (Remember Steve van Zant, Bruce and all the others? “We will not Play in Sun City?”) Why? Because, like the UN and the International Courts of Justice they understood that Apartheid is wrong.
The sports community joined the battle, no one would go and play cricket or rugby in South Africa, and eventually the political community joined in as well. We all as a global, musical, sporting and political community raised our voices as one and the apartheid regime in South Africa fell.
Maybe we are at the tipping point now with Israel and Palestine. These are good people both and they deserve a just solution to their predicament. Each and every one of them deserves freedom, justice and equal rights. Just recently the ANC, the ruling party of South Africa, has endorsed BDS. We are nearly there. Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.
Boycott Israel Front Opens in Europe Supermarket Aisles
Dutch Giants Shun Products From Settlements
Two weeks ago, the Dutch public learned of what appeared to be an unprecedented victory for European advocates of boycotting Israeli products. Four major supermarket chains reportedly declared a boycott of products from the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
But the “victory,” as some activists in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement called it, was short lived.
Days later, the international supermarket chains Aldi and Hema, along with the smaller Hoogvliet and Jumbo chains, distanced themselves from the boycott they were said to be enacting. According to the companies, the reports owed to a corporate error or inaccurate reporting.
Yet spokespeople for the four chains also acknowledged that their stocks currently include no products from Israeli settlements.
That allowed both Israel’s supporters and its critics to claim victory in a fight that is quickly spreading across the continent, as various European groups have sought to use their economic power as leverage to oppose Israeli settlements they consider illegal.
“The chains’ hurried about-face proves the failure of attempts by anti-Israel groups to single Israel out for criticism in the supermarket,” said Esther Voet, director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, a pro-Israel lobby group based in The Hague.
But Sander Becker, a reporter for the Trouw daily, which broke news of the supposed boycott, said the affair may have exposed the existence of a “silent boycott” in which stores keep settlement products from the shelves but don’t admit to what they are doing.
Companies may “shun products from settlements while publicly claiming it’s because of ‘price, quality and availability’ — the three harmless [parameters] stipulated in statements by all the supermarket chains,” Becker said.
Becker’s report was based on a document published in April by a research agency called Profundo at the request of several Dutch NGOs critical of Israel.
Titled “Dutch economic links with the occupation,” the report said Hoogvliet, Aldi and Jumbo admitted to instructing Israeli suppliers to refrain from sending goods produced in the settlements. Dutch media later reported that Hema made similar requests.
A spokesperson for Profundo told JTA the report is accurate and that statements were based on answers to its questions. But a spokesperson for the Dutch subsidiary of Aldi, a German chain with stores in 18 countries, told JTA the statement on the boycott was “a false representation of reality” caused by “a mistake in the answers provided” to Profundo.
Aldi “has no policy on products from the West Bank and the Golan,” the spokesperson said.
Hema, a large Dutch supermarket chain with branches in five European countries, also denied a boycott policy. Jumbo and Hoogvliet issued statements saying politics play no role in decisions about what products to stock.
“We have Israeli wines on sale, none of which are produced in the occupied territories,” a Hema spokesperson said.
Trade between Israel and the European Union totaled approximately $39 billion in 2011, with Israeli exports accounting for 41 percent of the total. Settlement goods constituted only “a small fraction” of the amount, according to the Irish government.
The limited availability of settlement products in Europe means that boycotting them would lead to little loss of revenue for Israeli companies. But even if not damaging economically, Jerusalem views the moves against the settlements with alarm, fearing their spread could lead to further isolation.
Yet Israel has been helpless to do much about it. Despite intense protests by senior Israeli officials, the labeling movement is spreading, even in countries that are traditionally sympathetic to Israel.
In March, the Dutch government advised local supermarket chains to label any product from the territories lest customers be “misled.”
Last month, the European Commission, a body of the European Union, issued new guidelines prohibiting its organs from awarding grants or other incentives to institutions and other parties from settlements.
The EU also is pushing through new rules to ensure products from the settlements are labeled as such. Some goods already are labeled in British, Danish and Swiss supermarkets.
EU foreign policy chef Catherine Ashton said the new rules will be released sometime this year. Boycotts by major retailers, however, are very rare in Europe. One exception — a move last year by Britain’s fifth-largest chain store, the Co-operative Group, to boycott goods produced in the settlements — caused an uproar.
But Pieter van Oordt, an importer of Israeli products to Holland, says the supermarket affair ultimately may benefit Israel.
“I don’t know what made the supermarkets declare a boycott, but I think their retractions are a reaction to a strong sentiment of popular discontent and a lot of angry emails,” he said. “I expect they’ll think twice next time around.”
Palestinian in Hiroshima*
No anti-Semitic intent!
For once the ADL hit it right on the head!!
The Israeli media sees it differently as can be read in THIS report.
Also see my post from last night HERE.
Enjoy the following …. take note what it means to be a pig, than ask yourself if that is not the same meaning as being a zionist
Gazans, leftwing activists plan to sail in September from Gaza to Europe, carrying local produce; project’s goal is to raise awareness to Gaza naval blockade, organizers say
Canadian and European activists staying in Gaza are planning to launch a flotilla which will carry Gazan produce and textiles from the strip to Europe. The vessel, currently a fishing boat, is being converted to a cargo ship, and organizers are planning to set sails in the near future.
The project’s goal, the activists say, is to raise public awareness to the strife of the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Charlie Anderson, a Swedish activist who was on board the Gaza-bound Estelle last year, told Ynet that the group was planning to launch the flotilla in September and that the activists were not concerned that the Israeli Navy would stop the boat.
Converted to cargo ship
“If it does,” Anderson said, “it will find it very difficult to explain to the world why it’s stopping a Gaza cargo ship carrying civilian products meant for Europe.”
International activists as well as Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are to take part in the project, which was named “Gaza’s Arc.”
Mahfouz Havriti, one of the Palestinians in the project, stressed that the project’s activists had nothing to do with Gaza’s Hamas government.
“This is a civilian, independent project, whose aim is to raise public awareness to the issue of Gaza’s maritime blockade and the activists have no intention of confronting with the Navy in case it tries to stop the shift.”
This will not be the first time that the Palestinians try to break the naval blockade the Gaza Strip is under. Two months ago, Hamas thwarted a project, run by leftwing activists who initiated the sailing of several fishing boats scheduled to sail from the strip.
According to the IDFSpokesperson’s Unit, “The IDF… is pursuing its mission to secure Israeli borders, including Israel’s naval border. We will of course not specify military operations on the matter.”
Mandela, help to fight us
against farmers who despise us
Our freedom fighters are already on the road
We sleep in the mountains, in the bitter cold.
Oh, what is this life best people?
Help, our people will perish!
Javelin calls you to battle,
farmers from killing our people.
June 27, 2013 at 09:46 (Action Alert, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Collective Punishment, DesertPeace Exclusive, Dictatorship, Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Evictions, International Solidarity, Israel, Occupation, Palestine, zionist harassment)
The Prawer Plan is an attack on Bedouin People, and on universal human rights
photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
So we’re asking you to send a message to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren: we are appalled by the Prawer Plan, and all it represents.
From the years I lived in Israel, I remember visiting “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev that had been destroyed multiple times.I remember children and grandmothers sitting near the rubble of their homes, and especially the young man who had been called to serve in the Israeli Army – on the very day his home had been destroyed.
The Prawer Plan threatens that level of destruction on an unprecedented scale.
It is appalling that transfer based on nothing more than ethnic identity is even under consideration.
And if our government is going to offer unconditional support to Israel, we need to send that message to Ambassador Oren, Israel’s official representative to the U.S.
Send email to ….
Ambassador Michael Oren
Victory! United Methodist Conferences, representing thousands of churches, vote to Divest!
Big news! United Methodist annual (regional) conferences in New England, Minnesota, Pacific Northwest and Upper New York voted this month to divest from companies involved with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land including Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard, and General Electric. They joined conferences in West Ohio, New York, Northern Illinois, California Nevada and California Pacific which have already taken similar action. This brings the total to nine regional bodies representing thousands of churches nationwide!
And that’s not all! At least five other conferences — Virginia, Rocky Mountain, North Central New York, Baltimore Washington, and Detroit — have called on the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to divest its millions of dollars in holdings in companies that profit from the occupation. Two more conferences, Susquehanna and Eastern Pennsylvania, established official task forces to examine the issue.
Wait — there’s more! In March, the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. unanimously decided that — effective immediately — it will not invest knowingly in companies involved in the Israeli occupation.” They adopted the investment screendeveloped by the American Friends Service Committee, which includes the aforementioned companies and more than two dozen others. And last year, Friends Fiduciary Committee, which handles investments for hundreds of Quaker institutions, divested from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Veolia Environment.
These major divestment victories are critical with Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion and ever-worsening attacks on Palestinian men, women, and children. Just yesterday, the Israeli Knesset approved the first reading of the Prawer Plan, a blueprint for displacing 40,000 Bedouins.
Last year, hundreds of people like you around the world mobilized to support member group, United Methodist Kairos Response, in its efforts to align the church’s words with its actions by divesting. While divestment didn’t pass at General Conference, these recent votes show unequivocally that the tide is turning, church by church, conference by conference, from the ground up. Congratulations to all who have played a role in these efforts!
Are you also part of a faith community and interested in pursuing boycott or divestment? Check out the Interfaith Boycott Coalition and sign the petition “Thirsty for Justice” to be connected with ongoing efforts today!
Krivine, who was the president of the Israel Tennis Association until his death in 2005, aimed through the foundation to introduce Israeli Arab children to tennis, and through tennis to introduce Jewish and Arab children to each other. Every year the foundation runs inter-school tennis and games programs for Arab and Jewish children.
“I thought that the concept was fantastic so I decided to get involved,” said Richard. “I haven’t been back to visit to school since the beginning, so I’m very excited to take the opportunity while I’m here to see what’s been done and maybe hit some tennis balls with the kids.”“It’s really a lovely idea, Arab and Jewish children playing together. And they actually play doubles together and need to rely on and trust each other. It bodes well for the future.”