A PALESTINIAN AND AN ISRAELI EXPLAIN WHY ISRAEL FEARS THE BOYCOTT

Would justice and equal rights for all really destroy Israel? Did equality destroy the American South? Or South Africa? Certainly, it destroyed the discriminatory racial order that had prevailed in both places, but it did not destroy the people or the country.” ~Omar Barghouti 

“The answer is clear. On the very day that nonviolence becomes Palestine’s official policy, Israel’s violent occupation policy is over. The current hysteria over boycotts and sanctions testifies to this.” ~Avraham Burg 

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Why Israel Fears the Boycott
By OMAR BARGHOUTI
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JERUSALEM — IF Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail because of Israel’s continuing construction of illegal settlements, the Israeli government is likely to face an international boycott “on steroids,” as Mr. Kerry warned last August.These days, Israel seems as terrified by the “exponential” growth of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (or B.D.S.) movement as it is by Iran’s rising clout in the region. Last June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively declared B.D.S. a strategic threat. Calling it the “delegitimization” movement, he assigned the overall responsibility for fighting it to his Strategic Affairs Ministry. But B.D.S. doesn’t pose an existential threat to Israel; it poses a serious challenge to Israel’s system of oppression of the Palestinian people, which is the root cause of its growing worldwide isolation.

The Israeli government’s view of B.D.S. as a strategic threat reveals its heightened anxiety at the movement’s recent spread into the mainstream. It also reflects the failure of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s well-endowed “Brand Israel” campaign, which reduces B.D.S. to an image problem and employs culture as a propaganda tool, sending well-known Israeli figures around the world to show Israel’s prettier face.

Begun in 2005 by the largest trade union federations and organizations in Palestinian society, B.D.S. calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were forcibly displaced and dispossessed in 1948.

Why should Israel, a nuclear power with a strong economy, feel so vulnerable to a nonviolent human rights movement?

Israel is deeply apprehensive about the increasing number of American Jews who vocally oppose its policies — especially those who are joining or leading B.D.S. campaigns. It also perceives as a profound threat the rising dissent among prominent Jewish figures who reject its tendency to speak on their behalf, challenge its claim to be the “national home” of all Jews, or raise the inherent conflict between its ethno-religious self-definition and its claim to democracy. What I. F. Stone prophetically wrote about Israel back in 1967, that it was “creating a kind of moral schizophrenia in world Jewry” because of its “racial and exclusionist” ideal, is no longer beyond the pale.

Israel is also threatened by the effectiveness of the nonviolent strategies used by the B.D.S. movement, including its Israeli component, and by the negative impact they have had on Israel’s standing in world public opinion. As one Israeli military commander said in the context of suppressing Palestinian popular resistance to the occupation, “We don’t do Gandhi very well.”

The landslide vote by the American Studies Association in December to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, coming on the heels of a similar decision by the Association for Asian-American Studies, among others, as well as divestment votes by several university student councils, proves that B.D.S. is no longer a taboo in the United States.

The movement’s economic impact is also becoming evident. The recent decision by the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM to divest from the five largest Israeli banks because of their involvement in occupied Palestinian territory has sent shock waves through the Israeli establishment.

To underscore the “existential” danger that B.D.S. poses, Israel and its lobby groups often invoke the smear of anti-Semitism, despite the unequivocal, consistent position of the movement against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. This unfounded allegation is intended to intimidate into silence those who criticize Israel and to conflate such criticism with anti-Jewish racism.

Arguing that boycotting Israel is intrinsically anti-Semitic is not only false, but it also presumes that Israel and “the Jews” are one and the same. This is as absurd and bigoted as claiming that a boycott of a self-defined Islamic state like Saudi Arabia, say, because of its horrific human rights record, would of necessity be Islamophobic.

The B.D.S. movement’s call for full equality in law and policies for the Palestinian citizens of Israel is particularly troubling for Israel because it raises questions about its self-definition as an exclusionary Jewish state. Israel considers any challenge to what even the Department of State has criticized as its system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens as an “existential threat,” partially because of the apartheid image that this challenge evokes.

Tellingly, the Supreme Court recently rejected an attempt by Israeli liberals to have their nationality or ethnicity listed simply as “Israeli” in the national population registry (which has categories like Jew, Arab, Druse, etc.). The court found that doing so would be a serious threat to Israel’s founding identity as a Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Israel remains the only country on earth that does not recognize its own nationality, as that would theoretically avail equal rights to all its citizens, undermining its “ethnocratic” identity. The claim that B.D.S., a nonviolent movement anchored in universal principles of human rights, aims to “destroy” Israel must be understood in this context.

Would justice and equal rights for all really destroy Israel? Did equality destroy the American South? Or South Africa? Certainly, it destroyed the discriminatory racial order that had prevailed in both places, but it did not destroy the people or the country.

Likewise, only Israel’s unjust order is threatened by boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights activist and the author of “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.”

SOURCE

What’s wrong with BDS, after all?

Israel will be helpless when the discourse moves from who’s stronger/tougher/more resilient to a discourse on rights and values.
By Avraham Burg
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Talk of sanctions has been filling the air lately. Israelis, as always, are certain that the whole world is against us (psycho-national nonsense that will be more broadly discussed here in the future), and that all the world’s overt and covert conspiracies are focused solely on us – out of hatred and anti-Semitism, of course.Few notice the wonderful paradox whereby official Israel, together with mobilized world Jewry, fights the scourge of sanctions by whining and screaming anti-Semitism, Holocaust and Jew-hatred in chorus. Yet in the very same breath these exact same people utilize any possible tool to advance and intensify the sanctions against Iran, as they did against Hamas until recently. And with useful diplomatic hypocrisy they make every effort not to hurt Syria’s Bashar Assad too much, or Egypt, or another few corrupt targets of Israel’s foreign policy.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is gaining momentum and is approaching the turning point (rather slowly, it must be said) in which the civic action from below will meet the official policies of governments and parliaments from above, and sanctions against Israel will become a fait accompli. Israel’s finance minister is troubled by the economic consequences, while the American secretary of state is trying to protect us from international isolation. Research institutions are already mapping out their boycotts and sanctions while offering avenues for formulating appropriate Israeli policies. The media are also making their serious or frenzied contributions. Among all this talk, what is conspicuously missing is a real discussion of the ethical meaning of sanctions and their alternatives.

Personally I’m a man of dialogue and believe that a boycott – any boycott – is not a legitimate tool. When my prime minister leaves the room as the Iranian president is speaking, I can’t decide whether he’s an idiot or just being childish, but what’s clear is that he doesn’t represent me at all. I believe in peace and I have no doubt that proper (if pointed) dialogue with the Palestinians will in the end bring two achievements: peace, and the end to the boycotts, ostracism and isolation under discussion. It’s the same with the Iranians, and even with Danny Danon.

But those who don’t want peace, or who want it but don’t trust the partner, or who want and trust but don’t have the public courage to stand up to the enemies of peace among us, must ask themselves different questions altogether. It’s clear that there’s a connection between the diplomatic reality and its economic manifestations. It’s permissible – despite the evil and folly of that approach – to decide that it’s worth holding the occupied territories, if only because at this point the price of international isolation or the harm done to the pockets of Mr. and Mrs. Israeli is not so terrible. After all, in the end, national policy is a system of constantly balancing risks and rewards, and for now – they say – the risks are tolerable.

But everyone else – the political impotents or the merely indifferent – needs a different approach. Put yourselves for a minute in the Palestinians’ place and try to understand what Israel “allows them” and consider what you would do in their position. A violent Palestinian rebellion? No way! Totally out of the question, not least because it will be put down by a much more violent force. (It’s an undeniable fact that more innocent Palestinians have been killed by Israel than innocent Israelis killed by Palestinians). A diplomatic agreement? You’ve made Naftali Bennett’s rear end and Benjamin Netanyahu’s lost senses laugh. So then what? Nothing? Should they just say thank you and shut up? Would we remain silent and capitulate unconditionally if we were in their place?

Suddenly it turns out that the boycott movement is not just an annoying effort to hit Israelis in the pocket, but a bold and innovative attempt to achieve real diplomatic gains. And in the areas in which I firmly believe require dialogue and solutions: an end to the occupation, the destruction of the separation barrier, recognition of the rights and equality of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, and a solution to the refugee problem. It’s a local and international expression of a totally different type of Palestinian struggle, something new and not so familiar to us – nonviolent resistance. Is that also forbidden?

What emerges from all this is that of all the alternatives being suggested – as if anyone is asking us or has to care what we think – boycotts and sanctions are actually the most kosher. Silencing and repression are bad, and violence is worse. Compared to either method, nonviolent resistance and an unarmed popular uprising don’t sound so bad. The truth is that not all of their people are behind this (just like not all of our people support us), but the direction being outlined is clear, convincing and threatening. Deep down I’m convinced that the tough State of Israel has a response to any expression of force it may face. But it will remain helpless when confronted by a civil rebellion that moves the discourse from who’s stronger/tougher/more resilient to a discourse on rights and values. For this we have no answer.

What will the politicians and soldiers of the racist separation do on Hebron’s Shuhada Street, which is closed to Palestinians, if a thousand kids come with their bikes, soccer balls and cameras and ask to play on the street in front of their homes – a basic right of any normal child on any street in the world? What will be the response of the Sensible One if the parents of those children, along with hundreds or thousands of other people (me and my family among them) come to the wall of the Palestinian ghetto (known euphemistically as the separation barrier) and hold a vigil there before the international media, under clouds of tear gas, until it comes down?

The answer is clear. On the very day that nonviolence becomes Palestine’s official policy, Israel’s violent occupation policy is over. The current hysteria over boycotts and sanctions testifies to this.

Avraham Burg is former speaker of the Knesset.

SOURCE
H/T To Sam Bahour

INTERNATIONAL CARTOONISTS ENDORSE BOYCOTT OF SODASTREAM

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The letter comes as SodaStream increasingly is targeted by an international boycott due to the presence of its primary factory in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The day before, headlines were made when actress Scarlett Johansson ended her seven-year relationship with the charity OxFam over disagreements stemming from her role as a paid spokesperson for SodaStream.
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CARTOONISTS TO DIRECTOR OF ANGOULEME FESTIVAL: DROP SODASTREAM
Over forty cartoonists protest sponsorship by Israeli settlement manufacturer
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FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2014– Over forty cartoonists and illustrators from a dozen countries around the world released an open letter today to Franck Bondoux, director of the International Festival of Comics at Angoulême, asking the festival to drop its relationship with the Israeli drink manufacturer SodaStream.
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Among those signing the letter were French cartoonists Siné, Baudoin, Carali, and Chimulus, Americans Joe Sacco, Eric Drooker, Ben Katchor, Peter Kuper, Matt Madden, Seth Tobocman and Sue Coe, as well as Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, Lebanese Mazen Kerbaj, Sudanese Khalid Albaih, Tunisian Willis From Tunis, Israeli Amitai Sandy, Brazilian Carlos Latuff,Spanish Elchicotriste, Italian Gianluca Costantini, and many more.
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The letter comes as SodaStream increasingly is targeted by an international boycott due to the presence of its primary factory in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The day before, headlines were made when actress Scarlett Johansson ended her seven-year relationship with the charity OxFam over disagreements stemming from her role as a paid spokesperson for SodaStream.
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The Angoulême International Comics Festival is the largest in Europe, and the second-largest in the world. The announcement that it would be sponsored this year by SodaStream drew immediate condemnation from French activists.
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The full text of the letter and list of signatories follows:
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Lettre ouverte à / Open letter to:
           Monsieur Franck Bondoux
                 Direction du Festival international de la bande dessinée
                  71 rue Hergé
                  16000 Angoulême
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Nous, dessinatrices et dessinateurs de tous les pays, sommes surpris, déçus et en colère de découvrir que SodaStream est un sponsor officiel du Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême.
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Comme vous le savez sûrement, SodaStream est la cible d’un appel international au boycott, pour sa contribution à la colonisation de terres palestiniennes, avec son usine dans la colonie illégal de Ma’ale Adumim, son exploitation de travailleurs palestiniens, et son vol de ressources palestiniennes, en violation du droit international et des droits humains.
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Angoulême a joué un rôle important dans la prise en compte de la bande dessinée comme une forme d’art depuis 40 ans. Il serait triste que SodaStream profite de ce festival pour essayer d’effacer ses crimes.
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Nous vous demandons de couper tous les liens entre le Festival et cette entreprise honteuse.
Cordialement,
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We, cartoonists and illustrators from all countries, are surprised, disappointed and angry to find out that SodaStream is an official sponsor of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.
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As you must know, SodaStream is the target of an international boycott call for its contribution to the colonization of Palestinian land, due to its factory in the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, its exploitation of Palestinian workers, and its theft of Palestinian resources, in violation of international law and contravening international principles of human rights.
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Angoulême has had an important role in the appreciation of comics as an art form for over 40 years. It would be sad if SodaStream were able to use this event to whitewash their crimes.
We ask you to cut all ties between the Festival and this shameful company.
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Sincerely,
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Khalid Albaih (Sudan)
Leila Abdelrazaq (USA)
Avoine (France)
Edd Baldry (UK/France)
Edmond Baudoin (France)
Steve Brodner (USA)
Berth (France)
Susie Cagle (USA)
Jennifer Camper (USA)
Carali (France)
Chimulus (France)
Gianluca Costantini (Italy)
Jean-Luc Coudray (France)
Philippe Coudray (France)
Marguerite Dabaie (USA)
Eric Drooker (USA)
Elchicotriste (Spain)
Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz (USA)
Ethan Heitner (USA)
Paula Hewitt Amram (USA)
Hatem Imam (Lebanon)
Jiho (France)
Ben Katchor (USA)
Mazen Kerbaj (Lebanon)
Lolo Krokaga (France)
Nat Krokaga (France)
Peter Kuper (USA)
Carlos Latuff (Brazil)
Lasserpe (France)
Lerouge (France)
Matt Madden (USA/France)
Mric (France)
Barrack Rima (Lebanon/Belgium)
James Romberger (USA)
Puig Rosado (France)
Mohammad Saba’aneh (Palestine)
Joe Sacco (USA)
Malik Sajad (Kashmir)
Amitai Sandy (Israel)
Siné (France)
Seth Tobocman (USA)
Eli Valley (USA)
Willis From Tunis (Tunisie/France)
Jordan Worley (USA)
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Si vous êtes dessinateur et que vous voulez vous associer à cette lettre ouverte, merci d’écrire à:lettertoangouleme@gmail.com
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If you are a cartoonist and you want to endorse this open letter, please write to:lettertoangouleme@gmail.com

ISRAEL ADMITS DEFEAT IN BOYCOTT

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There is only one way to end the Boycott …. END THE OCCUPATION!

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“In any case, the boycott is a phenomenon that is derived from the real issue, which is the construction in the settlements. As long as Israel continues to build, this phenomenon will persist and it will be difficult to prevent it without handling this political issue. There is no way to explain to the Europeans why the settlements are good, and why they should buy products produced beyond the Green Line.” 

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Foreign Ministry: We can’t fight against European boycotts 

Diplomacy has limited tools to combat boycotts initiated by commercial companies, says Foreign Ministry official: ‘As long as Israel continues to build (in settlements), Europe will continue to ban’

Attila Somfalvi  FOR

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Warnings made by US Secretary of State John Kerry regarding imminent boycotts against Israel remind the diplomatic sphere of one of its most challenging threats.

Scandinavian banks have already added Israeli companies that operate beyond the Green Line to a list of businesses that should not be traded with, and against the backdrop of this blacklisting, a Foreign Ministry official admitted that “we cannot prevent this phenomenon.”

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem is closely following developments in Europe, claiming that Israeli diplomacy has limited tools to deal with commercial firms that choose to sever ties with Israeli entities.

“We cannot truly fight against the will to boycott us,” said the Foreign Ministry official. Following the announcement of Danish bank Danskebank in regards to pulling out its investments in several companies, including Israeli firms, an inquiry conducted by the Israeli embassy in Copenhagen revealed that the Danish bank has no investments with any body related to Africa-Israel Investments Limited (AFI).

“There is a boycott fashion in Europe against Israel, but we’re still not talking about a trend,” the Foreign Ministry official noted. “In any case, the boycott is a phenomenon that is derived from the real issue, which is the construction in the settlements. As long as Israel continues to build, this phenomenon will persist and it will be difficult to prevent it without handling this political issue. There is no way to explain to the Europeans why the settlements are good, and why they should buy products produced beyond the Green Line.”

Israeli companies on Danish bank Danskebank's blacklist
Israeli companies on Danish bank Danskebank’s blacklist

 

The Foreign Ministry was supposed to present data regarding boycotts in a cabinet hearing that was canceled last week; the ministry was also set to demand from the cabinet to separate the boycotts initiated by government and countries to the battle against pro-Palestinian organizations and commercial entities. In a yet-scheduled ministerial meeting on the matter, Foreign Ministry officials are expected to stress that the two should not be confused.

“There is no way to explain the fundamental issue that troubles even our most prominent companies in the world. It is impossible to face the subject of boycotts while not facing the subject of settlements. That is the truth,” said the Foreign Ministry official.

However, not everyone in the Israeli diplomatic field agrees with this analysis, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is certain that the issue of settlements is only an excuse for those who seek to boycott Israel. Lieberman believes that due to the process of “Islamization” in Europe, along with its severe economic crisis, European countries are working towards boycotting Israel in order to gain Arab funds.

Officials within the Foreign Ministry further warn, however, that as long as Israel ignores warnings made by both its allies and critics, the anti-Israel wave will increase.

Israeli diplomats in embassies in Europe have identified a negative trend that is on the rise, and a tendency to present a caring front towards Palestinians. “There are companies that decide to boycott Israeli companies because they want to be part of this wave,” a Foreign Ministry source said. “In fact, it is almost impossible to do anything against it.”

Amid dealing with dangers of boycotts, the war between the Foreign Ministry and Yuval Steintz’s Ministry of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs is heating up. Steinitz demands that millions of shekels will be allocated to his office, so that he can deal with the boycott against Israel, but the Foreign Ministry rejected his plans. “This office only intensifies the problem. They already received many millions, and nothing happened. Those who think they can fight boycott are using the wrong terminology. We know how to operate in the political arena against governments and earn achievements. Regarding the boycott, this is not the way.”

And how are the economy-related ministries dealing with the boycotts? Finance Minister Yair Lapid warns against the escalation of the boycott, and in simulations that the ministry conducted in preparation for possibilities of intensification of economic bans, a dire picture for Israeli economy was painted. The Economy Ministry is also closely following the matter, but at this stage refuse to get anxious.

OPEN LETTER FROM NEW YORK JEWS TO MAYOR ~~ ‘AIPAC DOES NOT SPEAK FOR US’

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An Open Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio:

We are Jewish residents of New York who read, in the leaked transcript of your private speech to a meeting of AIPAC leaders, the following:

“City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily ’cause that’s my job.”

We understand that the job of mayor of New York is a complex one that often calls for your participation on the international stage, and we would not presume to define your job for you. But we do know that the needs and concerns of many of your constituents–U.S. Jews like us among them–are not aligned with those of AIPAC, and that no, your job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding when they call you to do so. AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us.

Sincerely yours,

Ruth J. Abram
Karen R. Adler
Arlene Alda
Anita Altman
Esther Ann-Asch
Emanuel Ax
Peter Beinart
Andrew Berger
Loren Bevans
Martin I. Bresler
Kenneth David Burrows
Howard Clyman
Rabbi Rachel Cowan
Barbara Deinhardt
Barbara Dobkin
Eugene Eisner
Laurel W. Eisner
Daniel Engelstein
Eve Ensler
Danny Goldberg
Sally Gottesman
Linda Gottlieb
Laurence Greenwald
Jane Hirschmann
Erica Jong
Peter A. Joseph
Alice Kessler-Harris
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Gil Kulick
Martha Weinman Lear
Bobbie Leigh
Jonathan Leigh
Alan H. Levine
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon
Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark
Donna Nevel
Kathleen Peratis
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Bertrand B. Pogrebin
Michael Ratner
Anne Roiphe
Betty Rollin
Al Ruben
Marlene Sanders
James Schamus
Dan Silverman
Beverly Solochek
Carla Singer
Rabbi Felicia Sol
Alisa Solomon
Gloria Steinem
Herbert Teitelbaum
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Rabbi Burton Visotzky
Peter Weiss
Jack Willis
Eugenia Zukerman

Originally posted AT

ONLY ISRAEL CAN END THE BOYCOTT AGAINST ITSELF

Israel’s future is one of increasing isolation. The Zionists recognize this possibility and that is why they are kicking and screaming. They even want to outlaw aspects of the boycott effort. It might be easier if they joined the 21st century by giving up their racist ambitions. However, ideologues rarely give up their ideologies willingly, so we will all have to do this the hard way.

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Free Palestine boycott Israel

 Academic boycott of Israel  

Whose academic freedom are we talking about?

By Lawrence Davidson

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The controversy that broke out over the American Studies Association’s (ASA) December 2013 vote to adopt an academic boycott of Israelwas inevitable.

The ASA’s academic boycott is a just a part of a much larger effort – the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – which has been growing worldwide over the last decade. In fact, the movement’s progress in the United States has been relatively slow, but this is changing, and the ASA controversy is an indicator of this shift. That being the case, the reaction on the part of Zionist supporters of Israel in and out of academia came as no surprise.

Media smear

On 5 January 2014 the New York Times reprinted a piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education more or less summarizing the reaction to the ASA move. It noted that “the presidents of more than 80 United States colleges have condemned the vote”. In addition, five of these institutions of higher learning “have withdrawn from ASA membership”. The Chronicle piece concludes that the ASA has become “a pariah of the United States higher-education establishment”.

That is a rather premature judgment. There are roughly 4,500 colleges and universities in the US. Being condemned by the administrations (which is not the same as the faculties and student bodies) of 80 represents condemnation by less than 2 per cent. Over one hundred institutions of higher learning have ASA membership. Losing five is again a small percentage. All of this hardly makes the ASA a “pariah”.

There are also other ways of judging the impact of the ASA action. If one goal of the ASA boycott move is to stimulate debate about Israeli behaviour and policies within a society (the US) that has long been dominated by Israeli propaganda, then the move is certainly a success. It has brought to the surface many statements and charges that demonstrate just how decontextualized attempts to defend Israeli behaviour are. If insightful counterarguments are spread about because of the ASA resolution, then the “pariah” has done quite well.

Charges and responses

Let’s take a look at some of the public charges and possible responses:

Damaging academic freedom

- Carolyn A. Martin, President of Amherst College: “Such boycotts threaten academic speech and exchange, which is our solemn duty as academic institutions to protect.”

- Molly Corbett Broad, President of the American Council of Education: “Such actions are misguided and greatly troubling, as they strike at the heart of academic freedom.”

 

Response: It is hard to argue against the ideal. Everyone associated with higher education does, or should, value academic freedom and the free flow of ideas. The problem is, people such as Dr Martin and Dr Broad, and many others, are directing their criticism at the wrong party. The ASA resolution, which one suspects has not been read by many of its critics, is not directed against individual scholars, researchers or teachers. It is quite explicitly directed againstIsraeli institutions – institutions that have abetted in the destruction of the Palestinian right of academic freedom for decades. The Israelis have just done this largely out of sight of the American academic community, to say nothing of the American people.

The fact is that the Israeli government, assisted by many of the country’s academic institutions, runs an illegal occupation that has long impeded education in the occupied Palestinian territories. One wonders just how aware of this historical fact are those who criticize the ASA. The facts in this regard are not a secret, although one does have to go out and look for them. Just do a thorough online search of the subject and all kinds of reports, analyses and documents show up. For instance, here is a link to a report about the complicity of Israeli universities in maintaining the occupation. Here is another on the impact of occupation on Palestinian education, and yet another on the struggle for Palestinian academic freedom.

It should also be mentioned that the Israeli government is embarked on an effort toenforce its own version of history on Palestinian schools. This may soon appear as an Israeli priority in its ongoing negotiations with the Palestine Authority. And, right now in the US, the Zionist student organization Hillel has laid down rules restricting any free discussion about Israel in their chapters on American college campuses. These facts should raise questions about the sincerity of Zionist concern over academic freedom and the free flow of ideas. It is policies and actions such as these, which have multiplied themselves out many fold, that are part of the context of the BDS movement and the action taken by the ASA.

Damaging institutional reputations and solvency

- William G. Bowen, former President of Princeton University and President Emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: “Boycotts are a bad idea… It is dangerous business… for institutions to become embroiled in these kinds of debates. The consequences for institutions are just too serious.”

Response: What might this mean? I don’t think that Dr Bowen is implying that what the ASA did is “dangerous” because it allegedly put the institution on the wrong side of a moral question. Here is another possible answer:

- Leon Botstein, President of Bard College: “Calls from alumni to take a stand against the boycott had played a role [in Bard College’s withdrawal of its institutional membership in the ASA]… I recognize that the American Jewish community is disproportionately generous to American higher education. For the president of an institution to express his or her solidarity with Israel is welcomed by a very important part of their support base.”

Response: Dr Botstein is suggesting that if one wants to know why “the presidents of more than 80 United States colleges have condemned the vote”, one should follow the money, and not necessarily the ideal of academic freedom.

Promoting anti-Semitism

- Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard University, on the Charlie Rose show of 10 December 2013: “I regard them [boycott efforts against Israel] as being anti-Semitic in their effect if not necessarily in their intent.” That is because these efforts “single out Israel”.

Response: Dr Summers can say this only because he and other Zionists take the position that Israel and the Jews are one. This is factually wrong. There are many Jews in the US (and elsewhere) who do not identify with Israel and, in fact, a good number who publicly oppose Israeli behaviour and the notion of a Jewish state. As to the singling out of Israel, it is certainly warranted given the influence Zionist supporters exercise over US politicians and foreign policies and the resulting inordinate amount of aid and assistance given to Israel.

Conclusion

A lot more has been written about the ASA position, and below I list a small number of articles in support of the academic boycott position by thoughtful Americans.

- Henry Siegman, former director of the National Jewish Congress, “There is no bigotry in the boycott.”

- M. J. Rosenberg, former longtime aide to various congressmen and  senators,Propaganda vs. History.

- Joan W. Scott, scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J.“Changing My Mind about the Boycott.”

- Eric Cheyfitz, Professor at Cornell University, “Why I Support the Academic Boycott of Israel,” 

- Sydney Levy, Director of Advocacy for Jewish Voices for Peace, “Academic Freedom.”

If the academic freedom of Palestinians was not being destroyed as part of an overall policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, there would be no need for an institutionally centred academic boycott of Israel. As it is, however, the Zionists, in their relentless drive to create a Jewish-only state in historic Palestine, have created the conditions for resistance, and the boycott in its many forms is part of that effort. It is not going to go away.

Israel’s future is one of increasing isolation. The Zionists recognize this possibility and that is why they are kicking and screaming. They even want to outlaw aspects of the boycott effort. It might be easier if they joined the 21st century by giving up their racist ambitions. However, ideologues rarely give up their ideologies willingly, so we will all have to do this the hard way.

 

Source

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR JUSTICE AT GAZA’S BORDER CROSSING

New Yorkers stage protest to demand the opening of Rafah Crossing

Organised by Brooklyn for Peace and co-sponsored by 20 local solidarity organisations, the protest called upon the Egyptian authorities to “stop doing Israel’s dirty work”

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NYC Peace and Justice groups protest against Egypt
and its restrictions at the Rafah
Border Crossing

 

 

With shouts of “Egypt! Don’t be Israel’s prison guards!” a diverse coalition of peace and human rights groups gathered on the afternoon of Saturday January 4th 2014 to call attention to the plight of the people of Gaza. In front of the Egypt Consulate, 1110 Second Avenue between 58-59 Streets, New York City, scores demonstrators met, despite freezing temperatures, to call for a permanent opening of the Rafah Border Crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Also see THIS REPORT from the Middle East Monitor

ISRAELI LEADERS FEEL THREATENED BY THE BOYCOTT

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It’s clear that where the so-called “international community” of governments has done nothing but coddle and appease Israel, international grassroots activism is at last making its most intransigent and racist leaders feel some pressure.

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Boycott “greatest threat” facing Israel, leaders say

 Ali Abunimah

Tzipi Livni (left), says Israel is living in a “bubble.” (Matty Stern / US Embassy Tel Aviv)

While Israeli hasbara (propaganda) initiatives continue to bravely deny that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is having any impact, two statements from prominent politicians indicate otherwise.

Israeli justice minister and war crimes suspect Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the moribund negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, told a conference last week that Israel was living in a “bubble.”

Boycott advancing “exponentially”

“Livni said that a country usually only finds out the cost of living in a bubble after it bursts, such as in the case of South Africa,” Ynet reported.

Noting that there was a growing international movement focused particularly on boycotting Israel’s illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank, Livni warned, “It won’t end there. The boycott is moving and advancing uniformly and exponentially … Those who don’t want to see it, will end up feeling it.”

Livni said that Israel was turning itself into “a lone settlement in the world.”

“Greatest threat”

Livni nominally supports a “two-state solution,” including the transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel to a Palestinian bantustan in a fraction of the West Bank.

But at the other side of Israel’s extremely narrow political spectrum, there is agreement about the threat of BDS.

Ayelet Shaked, chair of the Habayit Hayehudi party, warned that a “two-state solution” would be “national suicide,” The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday.

Habayit Hayehudi, with 12 seats in parliament and a member of the ruling coalition, calls for outright annexation of the entire West Bank.

Shaked called “for an Israeli response to the cultural and academic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, saying it was the greatest threat faced by the country,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

It’s clear that where the so-called “international community” of governments has done nothing but coddle and appease Israel, international grassroots activism is at last making its most intransigent and racist leaders feel some pressure.

 

Written FOR

BOYCOTTING FROM WITHIN IN ISRAEL

Truly a show of International Solidarity

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At least 150 Israeli academics and authors, and another 150 American and British television and film professionals, also threw their support behind the boycott.
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Three Israeli Actors Refuse to Star in West Bank Performance

 

Three Israeli stage actors asked to be excused from performing in a play staged at a cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

The cast members, employees of the Cameri and Beit Lessin theaters, will be replaced by understudies for the performances of the acclaimed play “Best Friends” taking place in Ariel in the northern West Bank, the theaters said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

The Cameri said in its statement that is respects the political views of its employees.

“The theater does not force its actors to perform in Ariel. Those who are not interested are replaced by their colleagues. The Cameri Theater chose to allow its actors to exercise their freedom of expression and follow their conscience,” the statement said.

The Ariel cultural center, which cost more than $10 million, was built with public funds and inaugurated in November 2010. More than 50 Israeli theater professionals signed a petition in advance of its opening saying that they would not perform in the Ariel center. At least 150 Israeli academics and authors, and another 150 American and British television and film professionals, also threw their support behind the boycott.

Several major Israeli theaters have staged productions at the Ariel center. Ariel is one of the largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

BRINGING BETHLEHEM TO LONDON ~~ WALL AND ALL

St. James’ Church in central London unveiled an eight-meter-high replica of the Israeli-built concrete wall that entirely surrounds the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
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London church blocks its facade with replica of Israeli wall around Bethlehem

IN PHOTOS ~~ BRAVING THE COLD AND SNOW TO PROTEST BLOOD DIAMONDS AND OCCUPATION

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Due to the freezing weather in New York only a few were expected at Leviev’s to protest his support of the Occupation, but scores showed up. Below are the photos taken yesterday ….

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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ISRAEL SUCCUMBS TO WORLD PRESSURE AND DUMPS PRAWER PLAN

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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The Prawer Plan will soon be history thanks to pressure from around the world. Proof that it pays not to remain silent!
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Begin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted his recommendation to permanently terminate the current version of the bill, after citing the undeniable opposition from across the political spectrum.
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Bill to displace Israel’s Bedouin to be scrapped, Prawer architect says

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The Bill for Arranging Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, more commonly known as the Prawer Plan, has been scrapped, former minister and drafter of the plan Benny Begin announced at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday (Haaretz report).

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Palestinians and Bedouins from the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert in a mass solidarity demonstration in Rahat against the “Prawer Plan”, June 28, 2013. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)
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The bill, first introduced in 2011, is a government plan to forcibly relocate some 40,000 Bedouin citizens living in dozens of “unrecognized” villages in Israel’s Negev desert, which the government has never agreed to recognize or provide services to. The plan has drawn heavy criticism from both Bedouin citizens and human rights groups. In recent months it has also been the source of wide-scale protests across Israel and Palestine. The police suppression and violence that took place at those protests grabbed the attention of mainstream Israeli media.

At a press conference held at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Begin said: “Right and Left, Jews and Arabs, joined together – at the expense of many Bedouin who are in crisis – to rile things up to a boiling point for their own political gain.”

Begin condemned all those who opposed the bill, adding, “we did the best we could, but sometimes you must face reality.”

Begin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted his recommendation to permanently terminate the current version of the bill, after citing the undeniable opposition from across the political spectrum.

While today’s news will at the very least delay the State’s plan to implement the largest displacement a Palestinian population since 1967, there is little reason for celebration. It it will only be the end of the current version, which  was in jeopardy mostly due to concerns from right-wing MKs that it was “too generous” to the Bedouin.  It is probable a revised bill will be drafted that will in all likelihood not be any better as far as Bedouin claims. There were many flaws to both the content and form of the bill, but by far the most blatant was the fact that no one from the Bedouin community has been consulted or involved in the process – even after an alternative master plan was submitted.

Earlier this week, coalition leader Yariv Levin specified inferred as much when he said that a revised bill should be drafted and that “whoever won’t agree should be forcefully placed in the areas allotted to Bedouin. The agreement to join the generous outline should be limited in time, and it should be determined that the lands would only be leased to the Bedouins, not registered with the Land Authority as their property.”

In response to the announcement, Rawia Aburabia, an attorney with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and a Bedouin citizen, stated that the Israeli government now “has an opportunity to conduct real and honest dialogue with the Negev Bedouin community and its representatives. The Negev Bedouin seek a solution to the problem of the unrecognized villages, and a future in Israel as citizens with equal rights.”

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ DON’T QUENCH YOUR THIRST WITH THE WATERS OF APARTHEID

New Yorkers braved the wet and cold yesterday to once again protest the occupation of Palestinian lands, this time at Target, one of the outlets selling SodaStream products …. Our roving photographer was there and sent the following photos.
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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORK LIGHTS UP TO HONOUR MANDELA’S MEMORY

 

 

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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

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A man holds up candles to a mural in Harlem depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela on Dec. 5, 2013. (credit: Getty Images)

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People Around The World React To News Of Nelson Mandela's Death

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)

IN LANDMARK VERDICT, ISRAEL FOUND GUILTY OF GENOCIDE ON ALL COUNTS

 Israel GUILTY of Genocide: Tribunal issues landmark verdict!
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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.”

The landmark ruling against Israel for its genocide against the Palestinian people rendered by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal is significant for several reasons:

-          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 Israel

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.

 Killing Fields

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.

Restricting Sovereignty

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.”

Internal Disputes

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.

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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.

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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.

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Original post AT

PALTOONS BY LATUFF // DAYS OF RAGE AND SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE

All Images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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UN declares 2014 the ‘Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’

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Buy Gifts From Palestine ~~ List of Online Stores Selling Palestinian Products
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Palestine Shop Palestine – Ships Internationally A small family business located in Palestine, selling products globally to support the Palestinian cause, to provide fundamental support for hundreds of women and families, and to introduce the Palestinian culture and folklore into homes world wide. PayPal. Ships globally. http://palestine-shop.net/shop/
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Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children – Online Botique Palestine – Ships Internationally (Express shipping only) Unique hand-crafted products made by deaf women and men in the Gaza Strip. Your purchases on our secure web site will help to provide jobs and much needed hope for hundreds of needy deaf persons and their families. http://www.atfaluna.net/crafts/index.php
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Canaan Fair Trade Palestine – Ships to US & Canada (All items by the case only) A social entrepreneurship firm dedicated to artisan quality products based in Jenin, Palestine. The company sources its agricultural food products from a network of 49 cooperatives organized in the Palestine Fair Trade Association with the membership of over 1700 farm families. https://www.canaanusa.com/shop/ http://www.canaanfairtrade.com/
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Sunbula Palestine – Ships Internationally (Express shipping only) A nonprofit Fair Trade organization that supports Palestinian craft producers — women‘s groups, artisan cooperatives and disabled people‘s organizations. http://www.sunbula.org/
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Palestinian Pottery Palestine – Ships Globally (email for prices and ordering info) Original and authentic Palestinian Pottery is sold only at our factory and retail outlet on 14 Nablus Rd. East Jerusalem( and now on our web site). http://palestinianpottery.com/
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Gifts to Palestine Palestine – Delivers to all West Bank cities and villages including Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus. Gifts to Palestine only deals with Palestinians vendors located in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Our mission is to support Palestinian merchants and products, and we try to incorporate as many local-made items as possible. http://www.giftstopalestine.com/
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‘NEVER AGAIN’ MEANS JUST THAT!

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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.
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Solidarity saved me from the Nazis; that’s why I fight Israeli apartheid

Suzanne Weiss*
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Palestinian women shout during a demonstration

“Never again for humankind” means supporting Palestinian resistance to Israel’s Prawer Plan.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

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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.

Slaughter

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.

It welcomed refugees from Italy, from Spain, from German-occupied regions. It welcomed French young men, who the government was trying to round up and ship to Germany to do forced labor.

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.

The Gaza Strip is cruelly blockaded. Palestinians in Israel suffer legal discrimination.

Palestinian refugees continue to endure forced exile. Israel wages repeated aggressive wars.

And the Prawer Plan targets remaining Bedouin lands.

Monstrosity

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.

 

Written FOR

THANK YOU ABE FOXMAN // PHOTO ESSAY

Since the ADL issued its new SHIT List a few weeks ago, support for the organisations named has more than doubled. Thank you Abe Foxman!
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P.S. From The Jewish Voice For Peace …..

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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.

Sincerely,
Ari Wohlfeiler
Grassroots Fundraising Coordinator

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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BEING A (JEWISH) ANTI ZIONIST COULD END IN DEATH

zionist dragon bones

 

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Here’s one for ‘The Museum of Tolerance’ …
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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.
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Jewish student receives death threats over Palestine solidarity work

Ryan Branagan* 
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Northeastern students walked out of an event featuring Israeli soldiers in April.

 (Tess Scheflan /ActiveStills)

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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.

Inflammatory campaigns

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.

Fear-mongering

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

Written FOR

ONE SMALL STEP FOR BDS, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND

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A Dump Veolia Coalition graphic celebrates victory.

 (St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee)

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Palestine activists score big win as Veolia pulls out of St. Louis

 Ali Abunimah 
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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.

“Major victory”

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.

Election issue

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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.

 

Written FOR

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ BOYCOTTING THE SOUNDS OF APARTHEID

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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

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