PALESTINIAN KIDS CAUGHT ON VIDEO ‘PLAYING HOOKY’ ON THEIR WAY TO SCHOOL

A bit different than the way we did it ….

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As Rami walked away towards his school, three Israeli soldiers burst out of an alleyway, grabbed his arm, and detained him in the street.

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At approximately 7 am this morning, Rami Rajabi, a six-year-old child, was 20 meters away from checkpoint 29 when he threw several pebbles in al-Khalil (Hebron).

As Rami walked away towards his school, three Israeli soldiers burst out of an alleyway, grabbed his arm, and detained him in the street.

After approximately 20 minutes of pressure from locals and activists, the child was released and was taken home by a friend of his family.

EARTH DAY Vs. THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION IN NEW YORK

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On Earth Day, Activists Ask Zabar’s to Stop Selling Israeli Occupation Profiteer SodaStream

On Earth Day, 70 human rights activists gathered on New York City’s Upper West Side outside the iconic Zabar’s store, demanding that SodaStream home carbonation devices be removed from the shelves because they are made in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank (photos; video). The demonstration was coordinated by the NYC Coalition Against SodaStream, which is made up of Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, Jewish Voice for Peace NYC Chapter (JVP), Jews Say No!, and Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS.
In early April, the coalition began a series of actions at Zabar’s to raise awareness about SodaStream, after the store’s management did not respond to activists’ requests for a meeting. Over 1200 people so far have signed a petition asking Zabar’s to stop selling SodaStream, with 130 signatures collected this evening alone. On the busy Broadway sidewalk, people handed out postcards including to several Zabar’s workers encouraged petition-signing, and blew bubbles. Signs and chants played on Zabar’s high standing among food-lovers, such as “Bagels, lox, and a schmear! But get that SodaStream outta here!” One sign, based on a graphic by the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), addressed the issue of labor and political repression by pointing out that the number of Palestinians employed by SodaStream is 500, while the number of West Bank Palestinians  denied basic rights by occupation SodaStream helps sustain  is 2.6 million. With guitar accompaniment, activists sang “Soda Streamin’” to the tune of “California Dreamin’”: “Don’t buy oppression any more / Take settlements away / No more SodaStreamin’ / No more apartheid days.”

Adalah-NY’s Riham Barghouti explained that shoppers’ purchases of SodaStream products enables the continuation of the Israeli occupation and devastation of Palestinian land. “SodaStream’s main factory is built on an illegal Israeli settlement. And despite its greenwashed image as a supporter of environmental causes, SodaStream is actually helping to destroy Palestine’s environment through uprooting of olive trees, depletion of water resources, and the confiscation and pollution of the land,” she told the crowd. Donna Nevel of Jews Say No! spoke as a neighborhood resident, saying, “For those of us on the Upper West Side, Zabar’s has been an important institution in our community. We want to continue to love and support it. Zabar’s, do the right thing and stop selling SodaStream.”
Today’s demonstration comes on the heels of the environmental organization Earth Day Network’s decision to end its partnership with SodaStream in response to criticism on human rights grounds. In an earlier development, the actor Scarlett Johansson had been a longtime Ofxam Ambassador until her position as a Global Brand Ambassador for SodaStream led to widespread protests and, ultimately, the breaking of ties between her and Oxfam in January.


 

Some photos from the event …

Credit: Bud Korotzer

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For a photo gallery of the demo, click HERE

WHO NEEDS KERRY IF HAMAS SIGNED AN AGREEMENT WITH ISRAEL ….

Well, not quite, but with the Palestinian representative of Israel, Mahmoud Abbas …

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The very fact that Hamas and Fatah signed a deal strengthens Israel’s demand for rigid and all-encompassing security arrangements to be set in place. The agreement will also allow Israel to claim Abbas is responsible for the handy work of Hamas and unruly terror organizations, and if he cannot control them he will prove that he lacks the capability to implement any agreement reached with Israel. Such a situation will undoubtedly be manipulated to the political benefit of the Israeli right.

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Hamas wins, Abbas loses

 The unity agreement signed Wednesday is a lifeline for the Islamist organization struggling to ruling Gaza, and poses a threat to the development in the West Bank.

When one examines the articles of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, one can quickly understand that this is an old soup that has been reheated. The agreement the two sides signed was to implement previous agreements on internal Palestinian unity.

 The only significant difference to grant the current deal a modicum of gravitas is the rigid timeframe it stipulates: Five weeks to the formation of an interim government, and legislative elections six months after. But the agreements Fatah and Hamas reached in Cairo and Doha also set a timeframe – one that was never implemented.

A further sign that this is a tactical move, at least for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is that the agreement fails to include the release of security prisoners held by the respective parties in the Gaza Strip (Hamas) and the West Bank (Fatah). The deal also fails to outline which principles the Palestinian security bodies of both Hamas and the PA would operate; it is also unclear how these two bodies plan to merge their respective governing administrations. Those searching for additional signs that Abbas is hedging his bet may notice that, despite a laconic statement that the deal is not incongruent with peace talks, the Palestinian leader has made little public comment on its content. Only Hamas officials Ismail Haniyeh and Moussa Abu Marzook have elaborated on the unity agreement.

It is no wonder, because Hamas is the agreement’s biggest winner. The radical Islamist group controlling Gaza is currently facing a severe economic and political crisis, and is unable to meet the needs of the Strip’s 1.5 million residents. After it turned its back on Syria and Iran, Hamas also lost Egyptian support following the ascent of the current regime there, which views it as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and as a group that threatens Egyptian security. As such, General al-Sisi’s forces are actively destroying tunnel after tunnel connecting Gaza to Egypt, and only occasionally open the Rafah crossing.

The unity deal signed Wednesday gives Hamas international legitimacy, which could allow it to receive aid and donations to help it extract itself from the crippling crisis threatening both its rule and the wellbeing of Gaza’s people. Today, even Turkey and Qatar are fulfilling their pledge of sending aid to Gaza.

But even more importantly for Hamas, the deal makes Abbas the person responsible for the welfare of Gaza’s impoverished residents. The PA president is already footing the bill for Gaza’s gas stations – Israel, of course, supplies the gas itself. Abbas has also been paying the wages of Fatah-affiliated teachers in Gaza, who have been sitting idle since 2007.

But now Abbas is responsible for everyone. He will have to figure out how to raise funds from the Americans and Europeans – funds that will have to reach Hamas and other Gaza-based institutions.

Another perk for Hamas is that they and other Gaza groups such as Islamic Jihad will be offered membership in the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a move that could allow Hamas to take over the organization that is the legal representation of the Palestinian people. It is important to bear in mind that Abbas derives most of his legitimacy from the fact that he is the leader of the PLO. If Hamas manages to seize power of the organization, it will take on a new, militant tone.

Minimal gains

In contrast, Abbas and his Fatah party do not get that much out of this newfound unity. They get brownie points for actually reaching the deal, which is highly popular in the West Bank and the refugee camps. Abbas also gains an additional whip to wave at the Israelis and Americans regarding the renewal of peace talks.

 

Palestinians celebrate unity in Gaza (Photo: AFP)
Palestinians celebrate unity in Gaza (Photo: AFP)

One should note that, despite his statement on the lack of incongruence between the Hamas-Fatah unity and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian talks, if the conditions Abbas recently laid out for extending negotiations with Israel are met, he can still scupper this deal with Hamas just as he has done before.

Conversely, should Israel fail to meet his demands, he can blame them and the Americans for pushing him into the arms of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees. This aside, he has more to lose than to gain.

Abbas has good reason to be displeased with the agreement. He knows that any thaw in ties between him, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be a cause for concern around the world, specifically in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which are increasingly hostile towards the Muslim Brotherhood and their ilk.

But above all, the deal with Hamas poses a real threat to Fatah’s rule in the West Bank. Hamas could take over and drag the West Bank into a violent conflict with Israel, thus exporting the economic turmoil currently plaguing Gaza to the West Bank.

 

Israeli satisfaction

Israel has nothing to be sorry about. The deal between Hamas and Fatah gives Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon a PR win that can be used to paint Abbas and his men as terrorists in sheep’s clothing – a far cry from the dovish peaceniks they claim to be. The Hamas-Fatah merger goes a long way to giving weight to this claim.

In the meantime, the White House has taken an intriguing position, for it appears willing to grant Hamas indirect and roundabout legitimacy, on condition that the unity agreement does not hinder continued talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The unified Palestinian government, the Americans say, will accept the principles of non-violence and recognition of Israel, as well as previous agreements, and thus Hamas will be saved from being forced to directly accept these conditions.

But the Americans have added one more demand, which is likely to tie Hamas and Abbas in knots, for the unified Palestinian government will have to actually make good on these conditions. Words will not be enough, and rocket fire will absolutely not do.

And so Israel can notch up another win. If the deal is actualized, Abbas will become personally responsible for every rocket fired from Gaza or bomb that goes off in Israel or the West Bank. This will reinforce Israel’s security demands as part of the framework deal being hatched, and allow Netanyahu and Ya’alon to keep elaborating on security demands.

The very fact that Hamas and Fatah signed a deal strengthens Israel’s demand for rigid and all-encompassing security arrangements to be set in place. The agreement will also allow Israel to claim Abbas is responsible for the handy work of Hamas and unruly terror organizations, and if he cannot control them he will prove that he lacks the capability to implement any agreement reached with Israel. Such a situation will undoubtedly be manipulated to the political benefit of the Israeli right.

Israel’s call to cancel the scheduled meeting between peace negotiators is part of a counter-measure to apply pressure to the US and Palestinians, and place the onus of the potential failure of the talks on Abbas, thereby exonerating itself. Everyone gets to play the blame game.

So while it seems that the unity deal appears signed and ready to go, there is no certainty that Abbas will actually follow through. On the other hand, it’s safe to assume that Hamas will be more than willing to make good on its part of the bargain, should its minimal demands be met. It’s fair to say that the implementation of the agreement hinges one thing – if Israel and the Palestinians reach a deal to extend talks.

If a deal is reached, then the unity agreement will evaporate as quickly as it came together. If no such deal is reached, Abbas will continue to work with Hamas until it all implodes, yet again.

Source

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

 

EARTH DAY CONFRONTS THE OCCUPATION

“The Earth Day Network is rightfully following the path of Oxfam by disassociating itself from SodaStream, a company that produces its water carbonating devices in an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory. Jewish Voice for Peace will continue campaigning against SodaStream in Seattle, New York, DC, Minneapolis, Boston, Portland ,and other cities across the U.S. to remind consumers that buying products manufactured in stolen land is neither ethical nor sustainable,” said Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace.

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Earth Day Network dumps SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson

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A previous version of the Earth Day Network website showed SodaStream logo.

The Earth Day Network, which promotes the annual Earth Day environmental consciousness initiative, has cut ties to a campaign launched by Israeli occupation profiteer SodaStream and endorsed by its spokesmodel Scarlett Johansson.

The screenshot above shows the SodaStream logo as it appeared previously on the Earth Day Network’s official sponsor page. On the current version of the page, the SodaStream logo is gone.

Here’s the press release from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:


Earth Day Network Cuts Ties with SodaStream After Palestinian Rights Groups Decry Greenwashing Campaign

21 April, Washington, DC – On the eve of Earth Day, groups working for Palestinian rights globally are celebrating Earth Day Network’s decision to end its partnership with SodaStream, whose main production factory is located in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Earlier this month, SodaStream, which markets its home carbonating devices as a green alternative to bottled beverages, announced the launch of an awareness-raising campaigncentered around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Several articles reported that this “Secret Continent” campaign was developed with Earth Day Network (EDN), which works with more than 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify, and mobilize the environmental movement.

Groups in the United States and abroad mobilized opposition to this partnership between EDN and SodaStream due to the company’s complicity in Israel’s military occupation, including the destruction that Israeli settlements have caused to the Palestinian environment.

In response, EDN’s logo has been removed from the Secret Continent website and EDNno longer lists SodaStream as a sponsor.

“This Secret Continent campaign is a clear example of SodaStream attempting to greenwash its complicity in Israel’s occupation through a public relations stunt. SodaStream appeals to customers by marketing itself as environmentally friendly, but a product manufactured in an illegal settlement on occupied land cannot be ‘green.’ We applaud Earth Day Network for listening to the thousands of concerned individuals who contacted them and sending the message that companies profiting from human rights abuses have no place in the global environmental movement,” said Ramah Kudaimi of theUS Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

PENGON, the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network, added: “We are happy to see that Earth Day Network cut ties with the Israeli settlement manufacturer SodaStream. Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise are not environmentally friendly. On the contrary, they are based on the pillage of our land and deplete and pollute our water resources. Over the last 40 years, Israeli occupation has cut hundreds of thousands of trees to make space for their colonization. We call on all environmental organizations and activists to stand with us against the Israeli occupation and its systematic large scale destruction of our land.”

This is the second major controversy this year involving SodaStream’s settlement factory. In January Oxfam International came under fire to drop Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson as a Global Ambassador after she became a Global Brand Ambassador for SodaStream. After an international campaign, Johansson resigned from her role with Oxfam.

“The Earth Day Network is rightfully following the path of Oxfam by disassociating itself from SodaStream, a company that produces its water carbonating devices in an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory. Jewish Voice for Peace will continue campaigning against SodaStream in Seattle, New York, DC, Minneapolis, Boston, Portland ,and other cities across the U.S. to remind consumers that buying products manufactured in stolen land is neither ethical nor sustainable,” said Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Since the 2005 call from more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups for the international community to engage in boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns targeting institutions and corporations complicit in Israel’s oppressive policies towards Palestinians, activists across the globe have been organizing under the slogan “Occupation is Not Green” to convince stores and consumers to boycott SodaStream.

“We congratulate Earth Day Network on doing the right thing by ending its collaboration with SodaStream. After the media firestorm surrounding SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson, and Oxfam, and now this dissolved partnership with Earth Day Network, SodaStream is going to have difficulty finding reputable individuals and groups to help whitewash and greenwash its ugly occupation profiteering,” said Nancy Kricorian of CODEPINK: Women for Peace.

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign in the occupied West Bank, added: “We thank the Earth Day Network for having canceled its cooperation with SodaStream and are grateful to all those people around the world that continue mobilizing to ensure the truth about SodaStream is no secret anymore.”

“While the illegal Wall and the settlements rob Palestinians of their land and resources and lock them up into economically and socially unsustainable enclaves, companies such as SodaStream ensure profitability of the Israeli settlement enterprise by exploiting Palestinian workers who are left without workers’ rights and without any viable alternative to make a living.”

Following a recent visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic condemned what she referred to as the “less visible forms of occupation,” which include toxic waste-dumping, the expropriation and diversion of fresh water sources, and the development of polluting industries close to Palestinian towns.

She called these Israeli governmental policies “truly shocking” and went on to say: “Palestine stands as an example of the link between environmental injustice and social and political injustice.

RACING FOR FREEDOM THROUGH THE WALLS OF PALESTINE

Graffiti transformed the lower part of the wall into a spray paint script: “More bridges, fewer walls”; “Make hummus not walls” and, “In my previous life, I was the Berlin Wall. The beer was better there.” The wall’s humor and wit dulled my sadness. I ran on.
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She Runs: The author warms up in Bethlehem before the race.

PHILLIP SMITH
She Runs: The author warms up in Bethlehem before the race.

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My Race Through Walls in Palestine Marathon

Journalist Discovers West Bank Race Is ‘Run for Freedom’

Race Day: As many as 3,200 runners took part in the second annual Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem on April 11.

PHILLIP SMITH
Race Day: As many as 3,200 runners took part in the second annual Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem on April 11.

By Tania Hass FOR

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“Getting out of Jerusalem isn’t tough,” said Tiviet Nguyen, the Vietnamese Israeli who sat behind me on the crowded bus full of Palestinian men. “The challenge is getting back in. But there’s a whole industry of taxis taking Israelis back from the West Bank. We’ll be fine.”

Like me, Nguyen and her husband, Moshe Saraf, were headed to Bethlehem to participate in the second annual Palestine Marathon. Unlike me — I’m a Canadian tourist — they are Israelis, and it’s illegal for them to be there without a permit. But since Nguyen is involved with an organization that links Israelis and Palestinians, she’s familiar with the trip home.

I, on the other hand, was a little nervous about our destination. This was my first time in the West Bank. I’d been to Israel before, but this would be the first time I’d be seeing the separation barrier. Safety was also on my mind. I swallowed my fear, and asked Nguyen about her thoughts on peace.

“Peace begins on a ground level,” she said.

“If the people’s mentality changes,” Saraf added, “the government’s motives won’t matter.”

“You know,” Nguyen said, “just being here is a political declaration.”

I had made the trip so that I could witness and report what I saw. But as a Jewish journalist, the task was a little loaded. I was there to understand those on the other side of the wall.

My journey started three weeks earlier, when I joined a press trip to run the half at the Jerusalem Marathon. We toured the country and ate incredible food. Then we strapped on our sneakers and ran the hilly course, which passed Israeli highlights like the Knesset, the Zion Gate and Mount Scopus. More than 25,000 runners from 54 nations participated. Many of them raised funds for projects and charities. During my 13-miles race, I met runners from many different backgrounds, including a settler, Christians and Orthodox Jewish women. But I didn’t meet any Palestinian or Palestinian-Israeli runners. I felt like I was missing part of the region’s running story. So here I was, set to run the same distance. This time, I’d be the minority in unfamiliar territory.

The first Palestine Marathon launched last year, weeks after the United Nations Relief and Works Agency canceled the Gaza Marathon when Hamas banned women from running. In 2013, 650 runners participated. By the time I collected my registration package in April, 3,200 runners were expected.

Days before the race, news agencies reported on the Gaza-based Olympian who was barred from participating. The Olympian was among a group of runners denied travel permits out of the Hamas-ruled territory by Israel. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization because of the hundreds of Israelis killed by its attacks. As a result, most of the population cannot travel beyond Gaza’s borders.

It’s restrictions like those that led a Danish aid worker to come up with the marathon idea. “The idea came to me one day, as I was waiting in a checkpoint. Palestinians’ inability to move was what struck me the most,” said marathon co-founder Signe Fischer, who works for the Danish foreign ministry. She also co-founded the Right to Movement organization.

Fischer teamed up with Palestinian organizations and municipalities and created the first marathon with a focus on free movement for all people.

In an ironic turn of events last year, Fischer had to ask two Israelis to withdraw the night before the race. She and her co-organizers cited the Jewish runners’ safety as a concern. Israelis are not legally allowed in Palestinian-controlled areas without a special permit. Tears were shed as Fischer said, “It hurts to call someone and say you can’t run…. Now I know what it feels like to be an anti-Semite.”

A documentary film crew caught this scene and others leading up to last year’s race. I watched the film the night before the race, in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, in the shadow of the Church of the Nativity and the city’s only mosque. When the movie finished, runners scattered in the cool air to find warm beds. We were due back in the square — the race’s start and finish point — in a few hours. I needed to find Fadi Asiwat.

Asiwat was a 24-year old swimming coach and my home stay host. We met on a Facebook page for runners in East Jerusalem. When I posted to the page, asking about good places to stay, he offered a room. He was also running the half marathon the next morning.

As we drove to his home, Asiwat told me that before the wall, the drive to Bethlehem was less than 10 minutes. Twenty-five minutes into our ride, we crossed to East Jerusalem from the West Bank with a nod from the checkpoint guards. Asiwat said my fair skin and blue eyes probably helped us avoid a time-consuming check.

As we descended into the Jabal Al-Mukaber valley, Asiwat pointed out Jewish settlements and Arab villages facing each other on different sides of the hill. I asked if he had any Jewish friends. “I work with Jewish people at the pool where I lifeguard. I say hello to people on the street. We’re decent to each other,” he said. When I asked him if he’d mind if Israelis ran in the race, he was hesitant. “Yes, it’s about sports,” he said. “But every Palestinian has hurt in their heart. It would be hard.”

In my room, a fruit basket and a bowl of nuts awaited.

“Arab hospitality. You are always welcome,” Asiwat said, And with that, he wished me a good night.

The next morning, Manger Square was bursting with energy. Top 40 hits played loudly, as Danish girls in tank tops warmed up alongside women in hijabs. Young Palestinian men danced in a circle, shaking their shoulders in unison. Runners smoked cigarettes while stretching.

“Why are you here?” I asked the runners around me.

“It’s empowering to see so many women here,” said Niralee Shah, 24, an Indian woman who works at a technology company in Ramallah. “It’s really exciting.”

“The world sees us as terrorists, but we love peace, nature, animals,” said Musa Abo Sbaeh, 37, a social worker. “It’s also about freedom. I’ve never been to the sea. I don’t leave my house after 10 p.m. — I’m too scared of the Israeli police. So today I run for freedom.”

Soon all the runners were ushered to the starting area. A horn blasted. We took off. My motto for running the Jerusalem half marathon was “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.” Applying the motto once again, I slipped into a gentle stride.

The route first ran through the Aida refugee camp, which was established around 1950 by Palestinians from the Jerusalem and Hebron areas. Today, Aida is home to more than 4,700 people. UNRWA reports that it is severely overcrowded.

It is here that I first came face to face with the wall. Israelis call it the “security fence” and say it has resulted in fewer suicide bomb attacks. Palestinians call it the “apartheid wall” because of the impact it has had on their day-to-day lives. Regardless of its name, it’s imposing. With 26 feet of gray concrete, its purpose is unequivocal: to keep people contained and controlled. As I rounded a corner, an even taller tower loomed. At its top, small dark openings were visible. They were just the right size for the tip of an automatic weapon to follow, aim and fire. Immediately I was hit with sadness. I understand the Israeli desire for freedom from attacks, but I also was beginning to understand what it’s like to live under the physical threat of violence — and restriction — every day. It fosters a climate of distrust.

Graffiti transformed the lower part of the wall into a spray paint script: “More bridges, fewer walls”; “Make hummus not walls” and, “In my previous life, I was the Berlin Wall. The beer was better there.” The wall’s humor and wit dulled my sadness. I ran on.

After a loop through the Aida camp, we took a long stretch along Hebron Road. Young boys trailed me on their bicycles, yelling, “Yalla! Yalla!” I ran past a donkey munching on hay, men drinking tea, and fields of olive and fig trees. Groups of children extended their arms for high-fives. In the South, we passed another refugee camp. Dheisheh was initially built as a temporary shelter during the 1948 war. Today, multiple generations know it as their only home.

The six mile mark was in al-Khader, where the wall divides portions of farmland. Farmers were left unable to access parts of their land without a permit. Protests are ongoing. During the run, Palestinian boy scouts handed out orange slices. I rounded the turning point and headed to the finish line. Once I crossed, I collected my olive wood medal and stood shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other runners.

“The race shouldn’t be political, it should be more about healthy bodies,” said Frank D’hondt, a Belgian who works for UN-Habitat, an urban planning agency. “With all the eating and smoking, poor health is becoming a problem here. Occupation affects your ability to reach your potential.”

I reflected on the race, stretching while inhaling the cigarette smoke. After watching some more celebratory dances, I headed home.

On the way back to Israeli territory, I followed Palestinian men and women weaving through metal detectors and turnstiles at the more extensive checkpoint. After a brief interview with an Israeli guard, I was on the bus back to Jerusalem.

Soon I’d be having Passover dinner with my cousins in Jerusalem. These are relatives who served in the Israel Defense Forces, who build houses with safe rooms. In a few days, we would be gathering around the table to tell the story of enslavement and freedom. Freedom would be on my mind. So would walls — for what they protect and what they conceal. It’s about my family on one side, and the people I met on the other. And my freedom to see it all with the worn-out soles of my sneakers.

Tania Haas is a freelance journalist travelling the world and reporting on what she sees (and eats). Her work has been featured in Bloomberg News, CTV News Channel, The New York Times and USA Today. 

 

 The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

 

BDS MUSICAL WALKING TOUR AGAINST APARTHEID

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On a sunny day, 100 New Yorkers marched through crowds of shoppers on Broadway in lower Manhattan today, chanting, singing and carrying signs calling for a boycott of Israel. The protesters stopped to sing boycott songs at Ricky’s, Best Buy, Crate and Barrel and Staples, stores that sell the Israeli settlement products Ahava and SodaStream, and at Israeli-owned businesses Aroma Espresso Bar and Max Brenner, both of which have ties to Israel’s military occupation.

The protest, organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by a number of Palestine solidarity groups in New York, was one of many events held in New York City this year as part of the 10th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week. It came during a period when the growing power of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel has broken through to the mainstream public in the US, with substantial media attention, the US Secretary of State warning of its growth, and Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu focusing his AIPAC speech on demonizing the movement for human rights, and mobilizing opposition to it.

Noting that the protest fell on International Women’s Day, Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY told the marchers, “Today we remember and honor all of the women, including Palestinian women, who are struggling for justice, for peace, for equality, for the right to live in dignity and for self-determination. And we call on people of conscience from around the world to carry out boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel until it respects the rights of Palestinians currently living under Israeli military occupation, as second-class citizens in Israel and as refugees, denied their right of return to their homes.”

The Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a New York-based radical marching band, provided musical accompaniment as the protesters sang popular songs with rewritten lyrics about products and businesses profiting from Israel’s apartheid regime. To the tune of We’re Not Gonna Take It, the marchers sang, “We’re not gonna buy, no we ain’t gonna buy it, we won’t buy apartheid any more.” Outside Ricky’s they sang, “Oh Ricky’s what a pity, you don’t understand, you’re selling dirty goods, cause Ahava’s stealing land.” As the protesters marched up Broadway amidst throngs out enjoying a sunny, warm respite from a long, cold winter, they chanted, “Shoppers take a stand, no excuse for stealing land;” and “They whitewash, we protest.  Boycott, sanction and divest.”

Outside Crate and Barrel, Sherry Wolf of Adalah-NY told the protesters, “By operating in a settlement, SodaStream directly sustains Israel’s illegal and discriminatory settlement policy. Also, far from being environmentally friendly, SodaStream contributes to pollution, as the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim dumps more than 1100 tons of waste daily into a landfill in occupied Palestinian territory.”

The protest was organized in support of the Palestinian-led, international BDS movement, a non-violent initiative to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian human rights that is modeled on the international movement that helped to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Adalah-NY organized a similar musical walking tour in 2010.

For photos of the protest CLICK HERE

For the songbook and chants from the protest CLICK HERE

ISRAEL’S PERPETUATION OF INJUSTICE IN PALESTINE

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Israeli military courts: Masquerading as justice?

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If night arrests of Palestinian youths go on, it will confirm the military courts are intended to perpetuate injustice.

Israel’s chief military prosecutor for the West Bank, Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Hirsch, declared in February that a new pilot programme would soon be implemented to provide an alternative to arresting Palestinian children from their homes at night. The pilot programme will rely on written summonses demanding Palestinian children appear for questioning at Israeli interrogation centres in the occupied West Bank.

A summons process, if implemented throughout the occupied West Bank, could potentially reduce the number of Palestinian child detainees that experience violence during their arrest, transfer and interrogation. While this could lead to practical improvements to the Israeli military detention system, recent evidence suggests that it may do little to stem violence and abuse of Palestinian child detainees by Israeli forces.

In February 2014, several Palestinian children living near the West Bank city of Nablus were summoned via mobile phone to report for questioning at an Israeli interrogation and detention centre located closeby.

Upon arrival, the teens were taken into Israeli military custody, interrogated without access to a lawyer, bound and blindfolded. Though not arrested during a night raid, they were strip-searched, subjected to physical violence, and verbal abuse during transfer and interrogation. Their parents were not informed where they were being taken.

International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort. Yet over half of Palestinian children were arrested during night raids in 2013. Once arrested, parents rarely know where their child is taken and pre-trial detention is the norm in Israeli military courts.

Ill-treatment begins during night arrests. Palestinian children describe waking to the sound of heavily armed Israeli soldiers banging on their front door between midnight and 5am. Soldiers enter, often ransacking the home as they conduct a search and demand identification. Children are promptly blindfolded and have their hands painfully tied with plastic cords before being placed in the back of an Israeli military vehicle. Several hours after their arrest, children arrive at an interrogation centre alone, sleep-deprived and often bruised and scared.

Last year, three in four Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank endured physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation, according to documentation collected by Defence for Children International Palestine .

Despite repeated calls to end night arrests and ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention, Israel has persistently failed to implement practical changes to stop violence against child detainees.

Up until now the Israeli military’s resistance to implementing a summons process for Palestinian minors, or other practical changes to address violence and abuse, must be attributed to an inherent conflict within the military court system and not solely to ” operational ” concerns.

Night arrests frighten, threaten and intimidate Palestinian families and communities throughout the occupied West Bank, particularly ones that organise weekly protests or are located near illegal Jewish settlements.

Arresting children from their homes in the middle of the night, ill-treating them during arrest, transfer and interrogation, and prosecuting them in military courts that lack basic fair trial guarantees, works to stifle dissent and control an occupied population.

A summons process, while it presents an alternative to night arrests, undoubtedly falls short in achieving certain “control” objectives. Indeed, eliminating night raids as the default process for arresting Palestinian children can potentially reduce vulnerability to violence, but further operational changes must be implemented and the current regime of impunity for violence against children must be challenged.

Does the military court system exist to administer justice or is it a tool of the occupation that acts to legitimise control of the Palestinian population?

There has never been much of a case for the former, as Israeli military law only applies to the Palestinian population even though Israeli settlers live in the same territory.

The pilot summons process may force Israeli officials to address the competing objectives inherent in this question. If night arrests of Palestinian children continue, it will all but confirm the military courts are intended to plainly masquerade as a justice system that perpetuates injustice.

Brad Parker is a staff attorney and international advocacy officer with Defence for Children International Palestine , an independent child-rights organisation dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. DCI-Palestine provides free legal assistance to children, collects evidence and conducts advocacy targeting various duty bearers.

THE PASSION OF VANUNU

passion-of-vanunu

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Vanunu committed a crime and served his time …. 

BUT …..

The harassment continues and it’s time to stop!

 

Vanunu has repeatedly said he had revealed all he knew about Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal, and his lawyers have also noted the information he exposed in the 80s has now long become public knowledge.

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Amnesty International: Lift ‘ludicrous, vindictive’ restrictions on Vanunu

Human rights NGO says restrictions on former Israeli nuclear technician are ‘arbitrary, unnecessary’; Vanunu spent 18 years in prison for disclosing information on Israel’s alleged atom program to British press.

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Amnesty International is calling on Israel to lift “ludicrous” and “vindictive” restrictions imposed on whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu that “arbitrarily infringe on his freedom of movement, expression and association,” a statement released on Wednesday said.

Vanunu, a former nuclear technician at the Dimona reactor, spent 18 years in prison for disclosing information to British newspaper The Sunday Times about Israel’s alleged nuclear program in 1986.

Following his release from prison in 2004, he was placed under police supervision and was the subject of a number of restrictions on his speech and movement, placed in order to prevent him from revealing further information about Israel’s alleged nuclear program.

Among other things, Vanunu is banned from leaving Israel and participating in internet chats, and must request permission to speak to any foreign nationals, including journalists.

He was arrested several times for violating these restrictions, and imprisoned again in May 2010 for attempting to leave the country, and giving interviews to foreign journalists.

“The restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu are arbitrary, unnecessary and have no grounds in international law. The continuing restrictions on his liberty have placed a severe strain on his mental and physical health and should immediately be lifted,” Avner Godron, Senior Policy Adviser at Amnesty International, said.

Vanunu has repeatedly said he had revealed all he knew about Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal, and his lawyers have also noted the information he exposed in the 80s has now long become public knowledge.

His lawyers have repeatedly appealed these restrictions and consequent arrests that followed breaches of these restrictions, to no avail.

The High Court of Justice ruled in December to uphold the restrictions imposed on Vanunu. These restrictions are due for renewal next month.

 

Source

NOT LEARNING THE LESSONS OF HISTORY ….

…. MAKES IT EASY TO REPEAT THE MISTAKES

 

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800px-Stroop_Report_-_Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising_06b

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Seventy one years ago today there was an uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. Today, the same is happening in the Ghetto we know as Gaza …

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palestine3

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“What else is Gaza but a Warsaw Ghetto? When the people, the heroes, of the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, who decided they’d rather die on their feet, than live on their knees, desperate for food and water, rose up and tackled their besiegers – those who were keeping them in that Warsaw Ghetto – they were rightly hailed and are remembered in historyas freedom fighters, as heroes. Yet the Palestinians, when they rise up out of their Warsaw Ghetto, are called terrorists in your country, and in my country, never mind in the country that is doing the besieging.”

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Comparative Holocausts in photos …

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This photo essay was put together by the head of the Norweigan Embassy in Saudi Arabia. It origanilly appeared on MWC News.

THE GRANDCHILDREN OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS FROM WORLD WAR II ARE DOING TO THE PALESTINIANS EXACTLY WHAT WAS DONE TO THEM BY NAZI GERMANY …

 

BUILDING WALLS & FENCES TO KEEP PEOPLE IN PRISON

Hitler Yesterday ~ Israel Today










CHECK POINTS NOT TO ALLOW PEOPLE BASIC FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT









ARRESTS & HARASSMENTS









DESTROYING HOMES & LIVELIHOODS



GIFTS (WITH LOVE) FROM THE CHILDREN OF PEACE-LOVING & CIVILIZED COUNTRIES












THE CLASSIC PROPAGANDA MACHINE – YOU WILL FIND THE PICTURE IN BLACK & WHITE IN ALL AMERICAN AND SOME OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES HISTORY BOOKS, ENCYCLOPAEDIAS, LIBRARIES, MUSEUMS… THAT DEPICTS A YOUNG JEWISH BOY WITH HIS HANDS UP WHILE NAZI TROOPS POINT THEIR GUNS AT HIM AND HIS FAMILY IN ORDER TO EXPEL THEM FROM THEIR HOMES… (IT’S SUPPOSED TO MAKE YOU SYMPATHIZE WITH THE VICTIMS & TO SUPPORT THEIR CAUSE FOR JUSTICE & A HOMELAND)
THE ISRAELIS PRACTICE THE SAME TACTIC



SPEAK OUT NOW BEFORE ALL OF PALESTINE BECOMES A CLOSED MILITARY ZONE

Nabi Saleh is a small village of 500 inhabitants, located near Ramallah. It’s an essential component of the Popular Struggle Committee, and one of the most active resistant villages in the West Bank. Since 2009, every Friday, they stage non-violent demonstrations against the Israeli occupation.

On Saturday the IDF declared Nabi Saleh ”closed military zone”, not allowing anyone to get in or out of the village and carrying out violent actions against the residents.

They are now under siege.

The village of Nabi Saleh stays steadfast but calls for NGO’s, human rights organisations/defenders to spread the news, monitor the situation and support them as much as possible.

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

nabi-saleh-village-under-siege-of-idf

REMEMBERING AN ‘OSLO CRIMINAL’

Gideon Levy at his best ….

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Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.

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Shalom, ‘Oslo criminal.’ Late diplomat Ron Pundak was a peace hero

Alas, this great diplomat is now a ghost, just as another desperate attempt to blow life into the peace process is set to give up the ghost.

By Gideon Levy
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Ron Pundak.

Ron Pundak. Photo by Nir Keidar
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He was an “Oslo criminal,” perhaps the “Oslo criminal.” In a country where war criminals are heroes and peace heroes are criminals, Ron Pundak was a different sort of hero.

With the exception of Uri Avnery, who at 90 has just published the first part of his fascinating Hebrew-language autobiography — “Optimistic,” he titled it — Pundak was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. He was an incorrigible optimist where peace was concerned, and no less an optimist about his long, cursed illness. A man full of hope who is no more.

Pundak was the youngest, and nearly the last, of the believers in peace. After him, the abyss. He wanted peace for peace’s sake, without pathos or guilt. Simply peace.

He wasn’t anti-Israel; he was a Zionist and a lover of Israel. He wasn’t an Arab-lover; he was clearheaded, one of the last few who still met with Arabs and saw them as equal human beings. Nor was he a romantic.

His dreams were realistic, even if they fit a reality much saner than the crazy one we’ve created here. Pundak didn’t miss a single initiative. He came to peace from a very patriotic place. The fire that burned in his soul was ignited not by injustice to the Palestinians but by the future of the country he loved and that never repaid him for his labors.

Fire? Pundak was a cool man, as befits someone who grew up in a Nordic home, a Scandinavian-Israeli. His father Herbert (later Nahum) was perhaps the only journalist in history to be the editor of two newspapers in two countries at the same time — Denmark’s Politiken and Israel’s Davar Hashavua. (And he also worked for the Mossad at one point.)

He and his wife Susie have now lost their second son. Their eldest, Uri, the great hope of Tel Aviv’s Ironi Aleph High School graduating class of 1970, died in the Yom Kippur War.

I remember Ron on the beach of the legendary Sinai resort Aqua Sun, another province of dreams that is no more. Only once did he join his sister Michal and the special group that vacationed there regularly. Not once during his stay did he take off his safari jacket or obligatory moccasins.

Ron didn’t like the sun and sand. Maybe it was no coincidence that two of the main Oslo architects, Pundak and Yair Hirschfeld, of Danish and Austrian descent, respectively, weren’t your typical backslapping Israelis.

Something went wrong with their Oslo. To his dying day, Pundak remained convinced that the problem was the execution, not the plan or vision. In his Hebrew-language book “Secret Channel” — like another work he published in 2013 presumably knowing his days were numbered — he describes the incredible, rocky path that he, Hirschfeld, Yossi Beilin, Uri Savir and a handful of others traversed on their way to Oslo. It was from there to the White House Rose Garden for the signing ceremony, to which Pundak was not invited.

Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.

Once, at a modest birthday celebration that Beilin held for Shimon Peres in his home, in a corner near the stairs, Ron sat on the floor — pale, bald, weak and clearly in pain. Even then he didn’t complain. I’ll never forget that sight. On April 11, 2013, one year before his death, Ron, with chilling precision, texted me: “Your op-ed should have been the front-page lead.” The op-ed was titled “A letter from a ghost.”

Now Ron is dead, a ghost, just as another desperate attempt to blow life into the moribund peace process is set to give up the ghost. The man who wrote in his book, without even a touch of cynicism or desperation, “Fundamentally, the chance for a peace agreement remains,” would surely find fragments of hope even in these dark days. Now Ron won’t speak either. No one will speak of peace in Israel anymore.

ANTI SEMITISM IS THE FORCE BEHIND BDS

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Life could be so simple if you are stupid!

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“There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there,” Johansson told Vanity Fair, in an interview for the cover of their May edition.

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Johansson: Anti-Semitism behind criticism of SodaStream endorsement

American Jewish actress came under fire for promotion of Israeli company with factory in West Bank settlement.

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American Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson believes anti-Semitism is to blame for much of the fire she drew earlier this year over her endorsement of Israeli company SodaStream, which operates a factory in the West Bank.

“There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there,” Johansson told Vanity Fair, in an interview for the cover of their May edition.

Johansson resigned from her position as ambassador for Oxfam in January, after the organization contested the actress’ promotion of SodaStream due to the company’s West Bank factory. She said at the time that she was stepping down from the role because of a “fundamental difference of opinion.”

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Her decision to disconnect from Oxfam won her praise from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who wrote in a Facebook post: “I would like to express my support for actress Scarlett Johansson, who took a brave stand against immoral hypocrites.” She also received support from the World Jewish Congress.

SodaStream employs Palestinian and Israeli workers at its plant in the Ma’aleh Adumim insdutrial zone. It says the factory offers a model of peaceful cooperation, but Israel’s settlements are deemed illegal under international law and are condemned by Oxfam, which has a large operation in the region.

Source

DON’T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM …. DIVEST FROM HEWLETT-PACKARD NOW!

In this video, members of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Rabbinical Council call for divestment from occupation profiteer Hewlett-Packard.

It is part of JVP’s “Hewlett-Packard: Harming Peace” campaign.

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In Passover message, rabbis call for divestment from Hewlett-Packard

HOW ISRAEL PROFITS FROM AMERICA’S ‘BORDER POGROMS’

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

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How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”

Gabriel Schivone *

Bill approved by Senate and stalled in the House guarantees more deaths along the US-Mexico border and huge payouts to Israeli contractors whose military technology has been “battle-proven” on Palestinians living under occupation.

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The militarization of the US-Mexico border is a lethal and lucrative business. (sarah-ji/Flickr)

Im/migrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.

But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.

Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.

But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?

Quite a lot, actually.

“Border security on steroids”

Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.

Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.

A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).

The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.

Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.

No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.

Israel and the “homeland security” industry

Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.

Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.

During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.

In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).

Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).

The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.

Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy

Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.

On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).

But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).

In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).

Two decades of border militarization

Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.

President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).

In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”

This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.

Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.

Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.

Border death rate doubles

A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).

As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.

But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”

In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.

More drones

One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.

Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”

As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.

A new military occupation

The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.

In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.

The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.

Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.

Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.

The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”

Israel benefits either way

Whether or not Congress passes the reform bill, Israel will benefit from any security legislation subsidized through the emerging border-security complex. Even without anticipated reform boosts in funding, for instance, Congress passed its 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act earmarking some $351 million for “border security fencing, infrastructure and technology” through 2016 — nearly half of which DHS dished out right away for Elbit’s Peregrine contract.

The first time Elbit won a major border enforcement contract was in 2006, subcontracted by leading US firm Boeing for “virtual fence” technology. The contract was part of theGeorge W. Bush administration’s “Secure Border Initiative.” Security-based programs continue to be funded, and appear likely to increase, so long as US policy remains fixed on border militarization.

More broadly, Israeli access to the gargantuan US defense industry is mutually serving. Grateful for its own piece of the pie, the Arizona state legislature observed in a unanimous 2012 resolution: “Israel receives vital military and security assistance from the United States, much of which, in turn, is spent here in Arizona with its defense contractors” (“Arizona-Israel bill raises some unsettling questions,” The Arizona Republic, 25 March 2012).

Israel’s security merchants eagerly hope US immigration reform passes; if not, they’ll look out for the next gravy train.

“Not 1 More” deportation

On 11 October 2013, I and others in Tucson, Arizona kicked off the first of many efforts to shut down Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The actions have been cropping up across the country, known as the “Ni Uno Mas/Not 1 More” campaign.

Early that October morning, a group of us stopped two deportation buses — run by British security giant G4S, a major Israeli contractor in the occupied Palestinian territories — off the I-10 freeway and locked our arms into devices around the buses’ front tires.

The prison vehicles were on their way to the downtown federal courthouse (around whose front gates a group of six others locked their arms) to dump their newly captured “human cargo” into a mass prosecution program called Operation Streamline.

But the buses never made it to their destination that day, sparing 72 detainees from a ghastly show trial that epitomizes the inhumanity of current US immigration and border enforcement policies.

Every day, Operation Streamline takes approximately seventy apprehended migrants and gives them criminal records and often lengthy jail sentences. The US government does this instead of processing undocumented migrants’ cases through civil or administrative immigration courts, a long-established legal practice in such situations.

Thanks to such industrial-scale prosecutions, Latin@s now represent more than half of all those sentenced to federal prisons.

As of 2012, more than 200,000 people have been prosecuted through Streamline-related enforcement throughout the Southwest and US interior since the program’s onset in 2005 — with 74,000 prosecutions in Tucson alone since January 2008.

The “triggers” contained in S. 744 would expand Streamline by 300 percent.

Since October, civil disobedience actions — many of them nationally-coordinated, involving both non-citizen and citizen activists alike — have spread all over the United States. Tactics range from blocking deportation buses to shutting down ICE offices, facilities and jails.

Immigrant youth climbed up on ladders in Fresno, California, to block deportations from the city jail.

In New Jersey, snow fell on activists as they lay on their backs, locked together, blockingthe entrance of a detention center in Elizabeth.

There have been similar efforts in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Tacoma, Austin and Washington, DC, among other cities.

In Arizona on 17 February, outside Eloy Detention Center, family members of detainees — some imprisoned for years — began a two-week hunger strike.

The longer the possibility of immigration reform is delayed, the greater the levels of social indignation may escalate.

With these actions, im/migrant justice advocates have created a “left flank” to dramatize the human voices and stories left out of “immigration reform” debates. Such efforts can potentially pull the liberal-rightist agenda, crystallized in S. 744, away from the current path of more mass death in the deserts and higher family separations in the cities.

As Israeli war profiteers and their US paymasters act as the syringe for the deadly “steroids” injection into efforts at immigration reform, im/migrant and Palestinian justice advocates can and must strengthen their resistance to these injustices — from Palestine to Arizona.

*Gabriel M. Schivone is a youth organizer with UNIDOS indigenous ethnic studies group in Tucson, Arizona and an ad hoc steering committee member of National Students for Justice in Palestine.

Written FOR

A RABBI’S RESPONSE TO ISRAELI CHECKPOINTS

We are reminded and enjoined many times in the Torah, and with particular relevance as Passover approaches, to love theger, the other, to look after the needs of widows and orphans, those less fortunate than us, because we know in our kishkes, deep in our innards, what it feels like to be oppressed. It is our obligation. Nowhere is it written that the ger has to love us.

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A Jewish response to Israeli checkpoints

The Israeli army restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement for the sake of security. How can we strike a balance between serving one people’s freedom at the cost of another’s?

By Rabbi Yehoshua Looks / Jewish World blogger

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Palestinian workers from Hebron at Tarqumiya Checkpoint

Palestinian workers from Hebron at Tarqumiya Checkpoint. Photo by Emil Salman
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When I, as an Israeli Jew, approach a checkpoint in a vehicle, I may have to wait, I may have to answer some questions, I may have to open the trunk for inspection; all before I pass through on my way to my destination. The feeling I have is of minor inconvenience balanced by acceptance of a reasonable price to pay for security.

That is not the case for Palestinians living outside the 1967 borders.

I met Sam Bahour last month whilst on an Encounter trip to Bethlehem, where he related his story. Bahour was born in Youngstown, Ohio, to a Lebanese-American mother and a Palestinian father who immigrated to the United States in 1957. His father and generations before in his family were born in Palestine, on land in Al-Bireh, next to Ramallah. Bahour has a degree in computer technology from Youngstown State and an MBA from a joint program between Northwestern University and Tel Aviv University.

Since relocating back to his ancestral home, he has been part of a group that founded Palestine Telecommunications Company. As a businessman coordinating telecommunications networks in the region, Bahour depends on face-to-face meetings with clients and contacts, traveling back and forth between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Initially and for 15 years, as an American citizen, Bahour traveled in and out of Israel on his U.S. passport with a tourist visa. He would periodically have to leave the country and return to renew his status. He married a Palestinian woman and they built a home in Al-Bireh, where they have two daughters. In 2006, his passport was stamped with “last permit” which left him with an impossible choice: leave or overstay his visa. With the help of Israeli friends, Bahour joined the Campaign for the Right to Enter and succeeded in making his case for permanent residency, which the Israel Defense Forces ultimately granted.

In an article for Cleveland.com, Bahour writes:

“[A]s a U.S. citizen who for 15 years traveled at will, I was now, for Israeli purposes, classified as a Palestinian. The day I was given my ID card, I lost my freedom of movement. Today, the only way to get to Jerusalem, Israel or my Israeli alma mater, Tel Aviv University, is to make a request to the Israeli military for a permit, which is rarely granted.”

Bahour told us he has diabetes, the side effects of which make waiting in line for up to several hours under cramped conditions particularly uncomfortable. After he crosses the checkpoint by foot, someone has to wait to pick him up or he has to take public transportation.

As Bahour finished relating his story, he expressed his frustration with the marathon of just living. In conclusion, he challenged the group I was with to “be Jewish.”

What did he mean?

“Palestinians and Israelis are bound by religion, history and fate to live on the same land,” he explained to me in a phone conversation after the trip. “That ‘living’ must be decoupled from the notion that either side has the exclusive right to dominate the other. It is in this spirit that I work day in and day out to help my people see the future through a lens free from occupation and to help Jews whom I cross paths with to see the present as inseparable from Judaism’s pillar of social justice.”

My wife Debbie, our three children and I arrived in Israel in 1996, within a year of when a Jew had assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This was also a time when Palestinian suicide bombers were regularly blowing themselves up on buses along with innocent bystanders. Our family knew people who were killed in attacks. Our girls’ schoolmates and immediate family members of their classmates were murdered.

With the completion of the security fence separating Jerusalem from the West Bank, our lives regained a sense of normalcy, which we highly value and for which we have much gratitude.

From a Jewish perspective, how are we to balance the competing values of protecting ourselves and safeguarding the needs and rights of the other who dwells among us? Where does reasonable security end and the degree to which we can restrict the movement of another people begin?

The principle of din rodef, as presented in the Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, allows for preventing and even in extreme cases killing someone who is pursuing you. The Rambam, Maimonodes, is firm that to take the life of someone who could have been stopped with lesser means is murder. Even without a Sanhedrin (Supreme Court from Temple times) to enforce din rodef, from a Jewish values perspective, the implication is very clear: We are responsible to only do what is required to protect ourselves – and no more.

We are reminded and enjoined many times in the Torah, and with particular relevance as Passover approaches, to love theger, the other, to look after the needs of widows and orphans, those less fortunate than us, because we know in our kishkes, deep in our innards, what it feels like to be oppressed. It is our obligation. Nowhere is it written that the ger has to love us.

I am troubled that I do not have satisfactory answers to my questions. However, as at our Passover Seders, sometimes the questions are more important than the answers.

For a moment though, think about approaching a checkpoint. Imagine what it might feel like not to be in one’s car but on foot, to wait, be interrogated, perhaps wait some more, all the time wondering when or even if you will come out the other side. And then, contemplate whether this is really what we need to live securely.

Rabbi Yehoshua Looks is COO of Ayeka, a teacher and a freelance consultant to non-profit organizations.

Transmitted by Sam Bahour, Written FOR

HOW ZIONISM HAS DISTORTED JEWISH LIFE IN AMERICA

In Israel itself, there is a growth of racism, there is a growth of religious extremism. The book The King’s Torah was a bestseller. This is a book that said Jews and non-Jews are basically different in nature, Jews are much closer to God than non-Jews, who are referred to as uncompassionate….

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One of the best speeches at the National Summit to Reassess the Special Relationship between the U.S. and Israel last month was by Allan Brownfeld. The summit has now posted the speech in video and transcript. Here are extended excerpts. –Ed.

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Zionism has distorted American Jewish life

TIME TO ONCE AGAIN CLEANSE THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS


CLEANSING THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS
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Jewish mothers used to go into a cleaning frenzie a week or so before the Festival of Passover. All traces of leaven (chametz) had to be removed from the home before the onset of the holiday. Modern folk have determined that dust is not chametz, so there is less madness involved in the cleaning process, but Israel has added a new dimension to the situation; Arabs must be removed as well as the leaven.
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Following this report dealing with the latest round of racism you will find a post from the archives that I reblog every Passover eve…
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Just  one of many attempts to cleanse the land of Arabs ….
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Thousands of East Jerusalem Arabs without water

Security barrier leaves Shuafat refugee camp in legal no-man’s land; population growth, ‘pirated’ pipes overwhelm water infrastructure.

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Full report HERE
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CLEANSING THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS
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My maternal grandmother was a simple Shtetel Jew. She came from a place not much different than the small town portrayed inFiddler on The Roof.
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Traditionally the womenfolk from those areas were uneducated in matters of anything other than home making and child raising, while the menfolk studied their Holy Books for hours on end. Life was simple for them, and they themselves were basically a very simple folk.
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I remember my grandmother going through the frenzie of cleaning the house this time of year…. the traditional Passover cleaning. All traces of leaven had to be removed from the home before the start of the Holiday. To her, that process included the removal of any trace of dust or smears on the window panes. The house sparkled when she was finished. Most of our non Jewish neighbours were going through the same process, but simply called it ’spring cleaning’, ridding the house of all unwanted matter, including broken furniture and junk.
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I remember asking my grandmother why she was going through such a frenzie…. her answer was simple and to the point…. “If a Jew eats bread during Passover he will die!” That was what she was taught, that’s what she taught us….
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In Israel today, things are not much different than life in the Shtetel when it comes to Passover preparations. But today there is a growing number of non observant Jews as well as a growing number of non Jews. This is a threat to the lifestyle of the self imposed Shtetel Jew living here today.
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Christian Pilgrims from abroad, as well as local Christians are denied access to their Holy Sites. Where is the uproar against this?
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Where is the uproar against the Neanderthal rabbis that have recently called for the expulsion or the genocide of the Palestinians? WHERE??? As in previous years, the Palestinians living on the ‘other side’ of the great wall of apartheid will be sealed in for the duration of the Holiday (8 days), literally making the State of Israel Arabrein for that period of time. Where is the uproar against this? WHERE???
Israel does need a cleansing… a good one; not only of bread during the Holiday season but also of hatred. Both are violations of the Holy Teachings.

SODASTREAM GOES FLAT DUE TO BOYCOTT

Screen-shot-2014-02-03-at-2.33.53-PM

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Good news from Omar Barghouti

SodaStream share price drops 14% in first quarter 2014

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So much for the Scarlett “charm,” SodaStream’s millions spent on propaganda and PR, and its lies about BDS not affecting its performance…. This may go down as one of the worst corporate PR campaign of all times!

 

As the article below mentions, “SodaStream surely didn’t want customers debating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while brewing up carbonated canisters of cherry cola. Although the West Bank factory has existed for years, the Johansson deal pushed it further into the spotlight.”

 

Corporations operating in Israel’s illegal colonies or otherwise profiting from Israel’s occupation and violations of international law are starting to pay a much heavier price for their complicity in human rights violations. This is now an indisputable fact.

 

Are G4S, CAT, Volvo, Hyundai, Ahava, Mekorot, Mehadrim, Israeli banks and the rest of complicit companies getting the message?

 

Omar

 

 

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/04/02/3-consumer-stocks-investors-returned-in-the-first.aspx

 

SodaStream’s (NASDAQ: SODA  ) 14% share price drop came from a new competitor and a public relations disaster.

SodaStream’s competition brews as controversy bubbles 


SodaStream hired Avengers star Scarlett Johansson as the company’s first celebrity spokesperson and the actress starred in a cheeky “banned from airing” Superbowl commercial. However, the partnership took a complicated turn in the press after Johansson’s role as an ambassador for Oxfam — a global poverty and human rights charity — led to questions about SodaStream’s large factory in the controversial West Bank. Johansson stepped down from Oxfam and stayed with SodaStream.

Personal political beliefs aside, SodaStream surely didn’t want customers debating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while brewing up carbonated canisters of cherry cola. Although the West Bank factory has existed for years, the Johansson deal pushed it further into the spotlight.

THE BOYCOTT CAN BECOME ISRAEL’S ‘WAKE UP CALL’

Many Israelis are shielded from the occupation. To those soaking up the sun on a Tel Aviv beach or working in a hi-tech hub in Haifa, Gaza and the West Bank feel like another planet. The daily grind experienced by more than 4 million Palestinians living under military occupation just a few dozen miles away barely registers. A boycott – whether it’s the ending of academic links; the refusal of artists to perform; the divestment of international companies for reputational reasons; or a consumer rejecting Israeli produce in the supermarket – has the potential to jolt Israelis from this somnolence.

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A boycott can jolt Israelis from their somnolence on Palestine

In Tel Aviv or Haifa, the occupied territories are another planet. But if Israelis feel economic pain, they will demand change from within
By Harriet Sherwood IN
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TEL AVIV DAILY LIFE

‘To those soaking up the sun on a Tel Aviv beach or working in a hi-tech hub in Haifa, the daily grind experienced by more than 4 million Palestinians barely registers.’ Photograph: Eitan Hess-Ashkenazi/AP
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The Rolling Stones have confirmed they will play a gig in Tel Aviv in June as part of their 14 On Fire tour. Inevitably, they are already under pressure to cancel their appearance in “apartheid Israel” by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,a campaign that has had mixed success. The academic rock star Stephen Hawking and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters are firmly in the boycott camp, while the author Ian McEwan and the musician Alicia Keys have resisted pressure to pull appearances.

But there’s little doubt that the drive for a boycott of Israel in protest at its 47-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza is gathering steam. The latest body to back a boycott is Riba, Britain’s leading architectural association, which last month called on the International Union of Architects to suspend Israeli membership on the grounds of “complicity in the construction of illegal settlements and other violations of international law”. The boycott movement was boosted earlier this year by publicity surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s endorsement of SodaStream. How many people before then even knew that SodaStream was based in Israel, let alone that its main manufacturing plant was in a West Bank settlement?

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, performed a similar service when he warned Israeli leaders of the consequences of a failure of current peace talks. “The risks are very high for Israel,” he said. “People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure.”

Kerry is right: more people are now talking about boycotting Israel than ever before. The issue is gaining traction even among US academic bodies, previously thought impervious due to the oft cited “unbreakable bond” between the two countries.

Israel is angered by the boycott calls, and alarmed at the movement’s momentum. The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, recently launched an attack on Europe and its dark history. “I think the most eerie thing, the most disgraceful thing, is to have people on the soil of Europe talking about the boycott of Jews. In the past, antisemites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state … the boycotters must be exposed for what they are. They’re classical antisemites in modern garb.”

This is a serious charge, and one that causes deep discomfort to many who want to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government over its policies towards the Palestinians, but who also vigorously oppose antisemitism in any form. Opposing the occupation does not equate to antisemitism or a rejection of Jews’ right to, and need for, a homeland. The repeated accusation of antisemitism does not make it true, however frequently it is levelled by those who defend Israel unconditionally.

But this is not to say that there is unity within the boycott movement. Many draw a distinction between a settlement boycott – rejecting goods originating in Jewish colonies in the West Bank; cutting ties with settlement-based institutions; or demanding international companies divest from enterprises with links across the “green line” – and a boycott of Israel itself.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has made his position clear. “We do not support the boycott of Israel. But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements,” he said in December.

Critics of Israeli policies who oppose a boycott of Israel itself argue that ordinary citizens should not be penalised for the government’s actions; that dialogue with academic, business and cultural bodies is more productive than shunning them; and that the shameful history of boycotting Jews makes this option impossible to contemplate. But others – increasingly frustrated by Israel’s intransigence, the dismal prospects for the peace process, and the failure of the international community to back up critical words with meaningful actions – say that only when Israeli citizens and institutions feel the consequences of their government’s policies will they force change from within.

Many Israelis are shielded from the occupation. To those soaking up the sun on a Tel Aviv beach or working in a hi-tech hub in Haifa, Gaza and the West Bank feel like another planet. The daily grind experienced by more than 4 million Palestinians living under military occupation just a few dozen miles away barely registers. A boycott – whether it’s the ending of academic links; the refusal of artists to perform; the divestment of international companies for reputational reasons; or a consumer rejecting Israeli produce in the supermarket – has the potential to jolt Israelis from this somnolence.

Of course, there’s a risk of such pressure entrenching Israel’s stance. But Israel frequently proclaims itself to be the only true democracy in the Middle East. Should its citizens demand an end to policies that have brought them economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium, their government will surely be forced to take notice.

J STREET AND THE END OF ZIONISM

It’s time to bite the bullet. We of the critical (non/anti/post-Zionist) Israeli peace camp understand why a liberal Zionist organization like J Street could never consider, let alone accept, the end of the two-state solution. You say it yourselves: the end of the two-state solution is the end of Israel as a Jewish state; it marks the end of Zionism.

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An open letter to J Street: Let’s talk

Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street

Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street

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It’s time to bite the bullet. We of the critical (non/anti/post-Zionist) Israeli peace camp understand why a liberal Zionist organization like J Street could never consider, let alone accept, the end of the two-state solution. You say it yourselves: the end of the two-state solution is the end of Israel as a Jewish state; it marks the end of Zionism.

We understood why you can’t go there – but the luxury of picking the solution you like regardless of its relevance and do-ability is no longer an option. In light of the collapse of the Kerry initiative (and it has finally collapsed, no matter if Abbas can be persuaded not to go to the UN), you cannot continue to deny the collapse of the two-state solution upon which it was built. That was not a failure of Kerry or of “negotiations” or of “both sides” or even the failed Oslo negotiators like Martin Indyk that you and the American government continue to parade that brought about that result, it was a conscious, deliberate and explicit policy of all successive Israeli governments since 1967 to eliminate a two-state solution.

You might be right that most Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs want a two-state solution. You are right that this is the only way a “Jewish” state can be salvaged. But you hit up against three insurmountable facts of life: (1) No Israeli government – and certainly not the current one – has ever seriously considered a genuine two-state solution, and in fact all have worked assiduously (and successfully) to create “facts on the ground” that prevent the establishment of a truly sovereign and viable Palestine state; (2) the Israeli public has no idea what it means by “two-state solution” and simply does not care; what we call the “occupation” has been rendered a non-issue in Israel and Israeli Jews will not pro-actively overthrow it; and (3) as long as Israel has Congress in its pocket – which it does despite your best efforts – it can thumb its nose at the Administration, the Europeans, the UN, international law, liberal Jewish values and J Street alike, or so it thinks.

The end of the Kerry initiative is a big thing. It represents that fateful juncture that we of the critical left have been speaking of for years: in the next few weeks, perhaps days, Israel will have irrevocably abandoned any opportunity for a just peace with the Palestinians for apartheid or, worse, for the warehousing of Palestinians in permanent ghettos. Israel will unilaterally annex the “settlement blocs,” up to 30-40% of the West Bank, arguing that “there is no partner for peace,” we need to ensure our security and, besides, 95% of the Palestinians live under Palestinian Authority rule in Areas A and B (38% of the West Bank truncated into 70 enclaves) and Gaza. Whether the PA remains as a collaborationist regime or leaves the scene makes no difference. The Occupation is over. Will J Street finally admit that apartheid has arrived, or will it try to make the best of a Palestinian bantustan as a “good enough” two-state solution?

In light of the struggle for a truly just peace between Israelis and Palestinians, of which the two-state solution was merely a diversion, I would suggest that we view the end of the Kerry initiative as a good thing. Finally the fog of the two-state solution is lifted. We finally see reality: naked, raw occupation and apartheid with no pretense of two equal “sides” or genuine negotiations. Now where do we go from here?

If J Street can learn anything from its years of existence, it is that you cannot simply assert a political position. You cannot promote “solutions” like that of two-states merely because you cannot entertain anything else. If there is no more connection between your political stands and the political facts on the ground, your stands have to change whether or not you want to “go there.” In the end, if J Street really wants to salvage something of worth from the rubble of the two-state solution, it must acknowledge what was apparent to everyone on April 1, 2014: Israel itself and no one else turned Israel/Palestine into one indivisible state.

Why am I writing this open letter to you-all of J Street, an oganization that would never allow people like me into its tent? Because a post-two-state-solution J Street could help bridge the gap between critical and liberal supporters of a just and lasting solution. Join with us, critical Israelis, Palestinians and others, in convening a meeting of minds on the one question remaining before us all: now that the two-state solution is gone, where are we headed? This is a question made urgent by the collapse of the Kerry initiative. It is of relevance not only to post-PA Palestinians who must now provide us with leadership, but of anyone concerned with securing a place for Israeli Jews in what will be a common country.

The new chapter opening before us will be infinitely more difficult and challenging than obtaining a two-state solution would have been, but so be it. Israel made its choice. This is the historical moment. Can we all rise to the occasion?

(Jeff Halper is the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

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