ISRAEL’S PERPETUATION OF INJUSTICE IN PALESTINE

2014415153745673734_20

Israeli military courts: Masquerading as justice?

*

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.

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.

*

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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

TIME TO ONCE AGAIN CLEANSE THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS


CLEANSING THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS
*
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.
*
Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
**
Following this report dealing with the latest round of racism you will find a post from the archives that I reblog every Passover eve…
*
Just  one of many attempts to cleanse the land of Arabs ….
*

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.

*

Full report HERE
*
CLEANSING THE LAND OF BREAD AND ARABS
*

*
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.
 *
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.
 *
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.
 *
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….
 *
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.
 *
Christian Pilgrims from abroad, as well as local Christians are denied access to their Holy Sites. Where is the uproar against this?
 *
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.

‘KOSHER LUST’ AND RABBINICAL CENSORSHIP

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Last night Columbia University staged a debate about the conflict at which I was repeatedly stopped from videotaping by the organizer, Shmuley Boteach, the rightwing rabbi and self-promoter (who used the debate to push his book about sex in marriage, Kosher Lust).

*

Boteach stops reporter from videotaping Columbia University debate

LATUFF’S LATEST BDS SPOOF

 

Related Report

ZIONISTS CONTINUE TO USE THE WORD NAZI

Israel recently passed a law outlawing the use of the word nazi …. BUT it’s OK for zionists abroad use it …

*

*

Ohio State Hillel member calls Desmond Tutu a ‘neo Nazi’ for criticizing Israel

THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING TOURIST

This is the beginning of the nightmare.
*

‘Nobody knew where I was, nobody… I was simply disappeared’: An Italian tourist’s Ben Gurion nightmare

Andrea Pesce FOR
*

ben-gurion-airport

My name is Andrea Pesce, I am 44 years old and I’m an Italian citizen.

For 15 years I had the chance to visit Israel and Palestine, thanks to my former job (I used to be a travel agent) and also because I’m interested in the political situation over there. I travelled as a normal person, without any official role or mission.

Last December I have been in Israel and Palestine for one week. I always stayed in a hotel in the Old city of Jerusalem and I went for one day visit to Bethlehem (twice), Ramallah and Nablus, always as a tourist. During my visit in Bethlehem I had the chance to learn about a non-profit organization, named Tent of Nations, which follows a non-violent approach to the conflict.

Between January and February I contacted Tent of Nations staff, and planned a visit in March to volunteer over there. Then I bought an El Al air ticket, from Venice to Tel Aviv and back, departure 18th March, return 16th April.

This is the background to my story and I want to say also that I have never participated in any event, manifestation or whatever against Israel, or have written something or declared something against Israel. On the contrary, in 1999 I wrote a book issued by a Italian publisher, specialized in Jewish Literature and subjects, (Casa editrice La Giuntina) with an afterword by Amos Luzzatto, who at that time was President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.

Last 18th March, my day of departure, I arrived at Venice airport at 11 am, 3 hours before scheduled take off. For this kind of flight, there is an Israeli security staff interviewing passengers, according to an agreement between the Italian and Israeli governments. I waited around one hour, as Israeli staff are always allowed to pass Israeli passengers before me and other Italians waiting. Then one woman interviewed me, quite softly, but with some incredible questions like:

“You are going to stay one month away from home, isn’t your daughter sad because of this?”

There is no security reason behind this kind of question, not even to check if you get nervous because you have something to hide: it’s pure harassment, nothing more, nothing less.

I asked, “Why are you asking questions like this ? It’s too personal!”

She seemed to understand, and started to apologize.

Then I was told that my backpack had to be searched and that I cannot bring my camera (old fashioned) with me, it had to go in the hold. They checked everything, which included doing a body search on me.

Eventually they told me that maybe my baggage cannot arrive with me in Tel Aviv on the same flight: I complained a lot, saying that I had been waiting for two hours and I couldn’t understand why they waited so long. At the end they let me leave, I have to say, including my backpack.

During the flight I was tired but also happy: eventually everything was ok, and I was on the way to start my holiday and a wonderful life experience for one month in Israel and Palestine.

I couldn’t imagine what was waiting for me at Ben Gurion Airport.

Once I arrived, at passport control, I was told to wait in a corner of the hall, beside the “passport control office”. Several people were there already. I waited around one hour and then I had the first dialogue. It focused on what I was going to do during this month, I said “nothing special, I will go around”, ok, then wait again other half an hour, and then a second person interviewed me about my job, and what I was going to do it in Israel for one month, and I repeated the same answers again.

Then wait again around half an hour, and then the third interview with other people asking same questions, but in harder way, intimidating me and trying to scare me.

They argued that I was a liar because I didn’t say that somebody was waiting for me in Bethlehem, and that those who lie at the border will be not allowed to enter the country.

At that point I had been traveling for almost twelve hours, I was confused, tired and a little bit scared. But I had nothing to hide and I said, “check whatever you want, I’m a normal person, do what you have to do”. At that point it was pretty clear to me that they had read my emails and knew everything in advance.

Finally around 11.30 pm, I was interviewed by other people (they said they were from the Ministry of Internal Affairs) and after some minutes they told me that my entry was denied because I was a liar: I started to cry, more because of the stress itself, than for the final decision to reject me, even though it has been hard to me to accept the “destruction” of my travel, planned for months.

Andrea Pesci holding his passport with the Israeli "denied entry" stamp.

Andrea Pesci holding his passport with the Israeli “denied entry” stamp.

They started to laugh a little bit, saying that if only I said at the beginning I was going to volunteer they would let me in without any problem. But since I lied about it, I have to be rejected.

Until now, it was hard but not terrifying. But I  still couldn’t expect what I was in for.

Around 1 am they brought me in another airport room where my baggage has been searched again and I had a second body search. Then they took away my backpack, empty, because they said that it was detained for security reason. They gave me a big plastic bag to put all my belongings in.

Funny detail: the bag has a broken zipper.

They brought me back to the same hall, where I was told to not go around. I had to stay near their office.

Please note that I could only drink some water because another tourist gave me some coins to buy a bottle water from a machine. And security staff gave me a sandwich only because I asked for it. In the meantime every request I made — to have some water or to make a phone call to my embassy or simply to alert my hotel in Jerusalem that I couldn’t go there — was refused. And refused is not the right word: I was not a normal person anymore, I started already to be seen like a second class person. I want to say that for the very first time I really felt what racism is.

As they decided to send me back to Italy, the problem was how and when: flights to and from Venice are only once per week. So I was told that I was going to stay in a separate facility, waiting for the flight back to Italy.

This is the beginning of the nightmare.

The separate facility is a “migration facility”, as they call it, which is actually a sort of prison. Around five minutes by car outside of Ben Gurion Airport, I was transferred to this “house” surrounded by iron net, with bars on windows. I was told to leave everything in a room, including my mobile. Strange, but I definitely realised I was under arrest when I was told I could not bring a ballpoint pen with me to my “room”. But actually it was not a room, it was a jail. So around 3 am on the 19th March started my new life experience: being detained in a prison.

I cannot express my feelings exactly: maybe I can say that, having fallen deeply into a total irrational system, the only way to avoid becoming crazy, was to start to think in a completely different way. But it wasn’t easy.

The jail has soundproof doors, so you cannot ask for anything, not even scream. You can only beat the door until somebody, maybe, is willing to listen to you. But you already feel completely unsafe and you are scared even to ask, because you know that they can do everything with you, about you. I cannot say what I thought and felt during that night.

By 7:00 am I was destroyed, I was imploring them to send me home. One man, never seen before just opened the door and screamed to me: “so you go tonight at 06.30 pm, okay or not ?!” I said “Okay, okay, please let me go, I didn’t do anything, I don’t even know why I’m here”. They say “Okay, you will go tonight”.

At that stage nobody knew where I was, nobody. I was simply disappeared.

At 9:00 am I was allowed to call the Italian embassy: an Italian official told me “once you are in that place we cannot do anything, you simply don’t exist for us if you are in that place”. She also expressed sympathy for what I was going through, but the fact I was leaving in the afternoon was decisive. She also called my wife in Italy, as I was not allowed to do it directly.

Then the wait for departure started: I was in another jail, alone, with the door open. But I couldn’t go out, and it’s hard to explain, but I was afraid to ask anything. When around noon they gave me some food (to consume it in the room, without any table, only sitting on the bed) I did ask for some water, they said “We will bring it to you.” They didn’t and I didn’t ask again.

All and all, during my 14 hours in the “migration facility” I had the chance to stay outside in the open courtyard for a total of around 40-45 minutes (in two visits during the morning, none in the afternoon).

Again: I cannot explain my feelings during the time between 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm, knowing that my flight was scheduled for 6:20 pm. I was scared to death that they wouldn’t let me go….

From Andrea Pesci's passport.

It the end, at 5:35 pm they did open the door, let me take my belongings (always in their plastic bag), transferred me to the airplane and let me go. My passport was delivered to me by an Italian officer at Milan airport, after it was handled to him by the El Al staff.

I won’t share anything about the fact that being flown to Milan cost me more fatigue, finding a hotel that night and then catching a train to Venice the next day (20th March).

Nobody, never, in those 24 hours, declared their identity or role to me (they all have a badge, but it’s not easy to read and you don’t’ have the courage to show that you want to know their name). In the end there is no written proof of what they did to me, not even the reason for my rejection and detention. Nothing, nothing at all. I only have a stamp on my passport saying “entry denied”.

The lessons for me at this moment are two questions:

  1. Why do you want me to hate you ?!
  2. If you can do this to me, what you can do to the Palestinians ?!

ISRAEL DECLARES WAR ON AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES

Israel’s War on American Universities

By Chris Hedges

*

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the AIPAC meeting on March 4 in Washington, D.C. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

 

The banning of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Northeastern University in Boston on March 7, along with a university threat of disciplinary measures against some of its members, replicates sanctions being imposed against numerous student Palestinian rights groups across the country. The attacks, and the disturbingly similar forms of punishment, appear to be part of a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to blacklist all student groups that challenge the official Israeli narrative.

Northeastern banned the SJP chapter after it posted on campus replicas of eviction notices that are routinely put up on Palestinian homes set for Israeli demolition. The university notice of suspension says that if the SJP petitions for reinstatement next year, “No current member of the Students for Justice in Palestine executive board may serve on the inaugural board of the new organization” and that representatives from the organization must attend university-sanctioned “trainings.”

In 2011 in California, 10 students who had disrupted a speech at UC Irvine by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren were found guilty, put on informal probation and sentenced to perform community service. Oren, an Israeli citizen who has since been hired by CNNas a contributor, has called on Congress to blacklist supporters of the campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and to prosecute those who protest at appearances by Israeli officials. Some activists at Florida Atlantic University were stripped of student leadership positions after they walked out of a talk by an Israeli army officer and were ordered by school administrators to attend re-education seminars designed by the Anti-Defamation League. Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (CSJP) was abruptly placed on suspension in the spring of 2011 and barred from reserving rooms and hosting events on campus. The university administration, before the ban, had a practice of notifying the campus Hillel in advance of any CSJP event. The suspension was eventually lifted after a protest led by attorneys for the CSJP.

Max Geller, a law student and a SJP member at Northeastern whom I reached by phone in Boston, accused the university of responding “to outside pressures,” including that of alumnus Robert Shillman, who is the CEO of Cognex Corp., and hedge fund billionaire Seth Klarman, both supporters of right-wing Israeli causes.

“To prohibit students from holding leadership roles and student groups simply because they engaged in a peaceful political protest is antithetical to the university’s mission to educate students,” he said. “It erases any pedagogical value disciplinary process might seek.”

“In the last year,” Geller went on, “I have received death threats, been publicly and unfairly maligned, and have been threatened with disciplinary measures. This has made engaging in speech about an issue about which I care deeply, both as a Jew and an American, a fear- and anxiety-causing prospect.”

Israel’s heavy-handed reaction to these campus organizations is symptomatic of its increasing isolation and concern about waning American support. The decades-long occupation and seizure of Palestinian land and the massive military assaults against a defenseless population in Gaza that has left hundreds dead, along with growing malnutrition among Palestinian children and enforced poverty, have alienated traditional supporters of Israel, including many young American Jews. Israel, at the same time, has turned into a pariah in the global community. If it were to become devoid of American support, which it largely buys with political campaign contributions funneled through groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel would be adrift. There are a growing number of banks and other companies, especially in the European Union, joining the boycott movement, which refuses to do business with Israeli concerns in the occupied territories. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking before AIPAC on March 4, surprisingly devoted much of his talk to attacking the nascent BDS movement, which he said stood for “Bigotry, Dishonesty and Shame.” He called for BDS supporters to “be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot.” He warned that “naive and ignorant” people are being recruited as “gullible fellow travelers” in an anti-Semitic campaign.

Israeli officials are also apparently attempting to infiltrate the BDS movement and are using subterfuge to link it to Islamic extremism, according to The Times of London. The Israeli government in addition is pushing censorious, anti-democratic bills in the state legislatures of New York, Maryland and Illinois that would impose financial sanctions on academic organizations that boycott Israeli institutions. Meanwhile, the United States and others enthusiastically impose sanctions on Russia for an occupation that is much less draconian than Israel’s long defiance of international law.

The ADL-designed indoctrination classes for university activists are, according to those who have been required to take them, shabby attempts to equate any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

“Myself and two other members of SJP were forced to attend the ADL-sponsored ‘diversity training’ course or we would have violated the terms of our probation and in turn we would be suspended and/or expelled,” said Nadine Aly, a Florida Atlantic student activist who with other activists walked out of a lecture given at the university by an Israeli army officer, Col. Bentzi Gruber, who had helped devise the rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead, the horrific attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. I reached her by phone at the Florida campus. “The very idea that the administration is implying that it is racist to criticize Israeli policy is ludicrous. We were put on ‘indefinite probation,’ banning us from holding leadership positions in any recognized student organizations, including student government, at the university until our graduation. I was stripped of my position as president of SJP as well as a student senator, and the former vice president of the SJP lost her position as a Student House representative. It is a shame that this university, like most universities, bows to the pressure of the Zionist lobby and wealthy Zionist donors, when they should be protecting the rights of their students.”

The persecution of scholars such as Joseph Massad and Norman Finkelstein who challenge the official Israeli narrative has long been a feature of Israeli intervention in American academic life. And the eagerness of university presidents to denounce the American Studies Association call for an academic boycott of Israel is a window into the insatiable hunger for money that seems to govern university policy. The current effort to shut down student groups, however, raises traditional Israeli censorship and interference to a new level. Israel seeks now to openly silence free speech on American college campuses—all of these student groups have steadfastly engaged in nonviolent protests—and has enlisted our bankrupt liberal elites and college administrators as thought police.

The failure among academics to stand up for the right of these student groups to express dissenting views and engage in political activism is a sad commentary on how irrelevant most academics have become. Where, in this fight, are the constitutional law professors defending the right to free speech? Where are the professors of ethics, religion and philosophy reminding students about the right of all to a dignified life free of oppression? Where are the Middle Eastern studies professors explaining the historical consequences of Israel’s violent seizure of Palestinian land? Where are the journalism professors defending the right of dissidents and victims to a fair hearing in the press? Where are the professors of queer and gender studies, African-American studies, Native American studies or Chicano studies acting to protect the voices and dignity of the marginalized and oppressed?

This assault will not end with groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine. The refusal to hear the cries of the Palestinian people, especially those 1.5 million—60 percent of them children—who are trapped by the Israeli military in Gaza, is part of the wider campaign by right-wing operatives like Lynne Cheney and billionaires such as the Koch brothers to stamp out all programs and academic disciplines that give voice to the marginalized, especially those who are not privileged and white. Latinos, African-Americans, feminists, those in queer and gender studies also feel this pressure. Under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, books by leading Chicano authors have been banned from public schools in Tucson and elsewhere in Arizona on the ground that such ethnic studies promote “resentment toward a race or people.” It is language similar to what Ambassador Oren has used to justify his call for criminal prosecutions of BDS activists—that they are advancing “bigotry.” The neoconservatism that grips Israel has its toxic counterpart within American culture. And if other marginalized groups within the university remain silent while Palestine solidarity activists are persecuted on campuses, there will be fewer allies when these right-wing forces come for them. And come they will.

Those of us who denounce the suffering caused by Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians and who support the BDS movement are accustomed to sleazy Israeli smear campaigns. I have been repeatedly branded as an anti-Semite by the Israeli lobby, including for my book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.” That some of these dissident voices, such as Max Blumenthal, who wrote “Goliath: Fear and Loathing in Greater Israel,” one of the best accounts of contemporary Israel, are Jewish does not seem to perturb right-wing Israeli propagandists who see any deviation from the Israeli government line as a form of religious heresy.

“I have been on tour discussing my book, ‘Goliath,’ since October 2013,” said Blumenthal, with whom I spoke by phone.  “And on numerous occasions, Israel lobby groups and pro-Israel activists have attempted to pressure organizations into canceling my events before they took place. I have been slandered by teenage pro-Israel students, prominent magazine columnists and even Alan Dershowitz as an anti-Semite, and my family has been attacked in right-wing media simply for hosting a book party for me. The absurd lengths pro-Israel activists have gone to stop my journalism and analysis from reaching a wide audience perfectly illustrate their intellectual exhaustion and moral poverty. All they have left is loads of money to buy off politicians and the unlimited will to defend the only nuclearized apartheid state in the Middle East. As young Arabs and Muslims assert their presence on campuses across the country and Jewish Americans reel in disgust at Netanyahu’s Israel, we are witnessing pro-Israel forces wage a fighting retreat. The question is not whether they will win or lose, but how much damage they can do to free-speech rights on their way towards a reckoning with justice.”

“It would be heartening if prominent liberal intellectuals would agree with all of my conclusions, or would accept the legitimacy of BDS,” Blumenthal went on. “But the only reasonable expectation we can hold for them is that they speak up in defense of those whose free-speech rights and rights to organize are being crushed by powerful forces. Unfortunately, when those forces are arrayed in defense of Israel, too many liberal intellectuals are silent or, as in the case of Michael Kazin, Eric Alterman, Cary Nelson and a who’s who of major university presidents, they actively collaborate with fellow elites determined to crush Palestine solidarity activism through anti-democratic means.”

Hillel chapters, sadly, often function as little more than Israeli government and AIPAC campus outposts. This is true at Northeastern as well as at schools such as Barnard College and Columbia. And university presidents such as Barnard’s Debora Spar see nothing wrong with accepting Israel-lobby tours of Israel while Palestinian studentsmust risk imprisonment and even death to study in the United States. The launching of campuswide defamation campaigns from supposedly religious houses is a sacrilege to the Jewish religion. In seminary I read enough of the great Hebrew prophets, whose singular concern was for the oppressed and the poor, to know that they would not be found today in Hillel centers but would instead be protesting with SJP activists.

The campus Hillel centers, with lavish budgets and gleaming buildings on campuses often situated in centers of urban blight, offer running events, lectures and programs to promote official Israeli policy. They arrange free trips to Israel for Jewish students as part of the “Taglit Birthright” program, functioning as an Israeli government travel agency. While Jewish students, often with no familial connection to Israel, are escorted in these well-choreographed propaganda tours of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who remain trapped in squalid refugee camps cannot go home although their families may have lived for centuries on what is now Israeli land.

Israel has for decades been able to frame the discussion about the Palestinians. But its control of the narrative is coming to an end. As Israel loses ground it will viciously and irrationally attack all truth tellers, even if they are American students, and especially if they are Jews. There will come a day, and that day will come sooner than Israel and its paid lackeys expect, when the whole edifice will crumble, when even students at Hillel will no longer have the stomach to defend the continuous dispossession and random murder of Palestinians. Israel, by ruthlessly silencing others, now risks silencing itself.

Chris Hedges will deliver a lecture sponsored by the Northeastern University Political Economy Forum at 6 p.m. March 25 at West Village F, 20, 460 Parker St. in Boston.

 

Written FOR

MEDEA BENJAMIN TELLS WHY SHE NEVER MADE IT TO GAZA

Why I didn’t make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day
Medea Benjamin

Egypt

Medea Benjamin’s cell in Cairo, Egypt (photo: Code Pink)

When I boarded the plane to Cairo, Egypt, to make sure everything was in place for the women’s delegation headed to Gaza, I had no reason to think I’d end up in a jail cell at the Cairo airport and then violently deported.

The trip was in response to a call from women in Gaza to CODEPINK and other groups asking us to bring 100 women from around the world to Gaza for March 8, International Women’s Day. They wanted us to see, first-hand, how the seven-year Israeli blockade had made their situation intolerable. They talked about being unable to protect themselves and their families from frequent Israeli attacks and how the closing of the borders with both Israel and Egypt has made it impossible for them to travel abroad or even to other parts of Palestine. They wanted us to witness how the shortages of water, electricity, and fuel, coupled with severe restrictions on imports and exports, condemn most of the 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza to a life of misery.

So we helped put together a 100-women delegation with representatives from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the United States. The delegates, who ranged in age from 18 to 84, included Nobel Peace Prize winners, doctors, writers and students. We were also bringing hundreds of solar lamps and boxes of medical supplies for the women.

The only ways to enter Gaza is by land–either via the border with Israel or Egypt. Israel restricts entry to non-governmental and official delegations, so our only option was to go through Egypt. CODEPINK had already organized eight delegations to Gaza via Egypt since 2008, so we thought we knew the ropes. We had organized these delegations during Mubarak’s reign and after the revolution, but not since the July 2013 coup that toppled the government of Mohamed Morsi.

As in the past, we furnished the Foreign Ministry and the local Embassies with all the information they requested to get the delegates the necessary permits to cross the Sinai (which has become a dangerous place) and cross into Gaza. They said as long the situation was not too dangerous in the Sinai, they would help us get safely to the border. Otherwise, we would celebrate International Women’s Day together in Cairo.

I went early, on March 3, as part of the logistics team. When I arrived at the airport in Cairo, I was taken aside and put in a separate room.  First I was told “no problem, no problem, just checking the papers, just 10 minutes.” After 5 hours I realized that there was, indeed, a problem, as I was taken to a jail cell at the airport. Never once was I told what the problem was. Thank goodness I had hidden my phone and was able to get the word out about my plight over Twitter. Friends and family started immediately contacting the US Embassy for help.

At 8am, 5 plain-clothed men with handcuffs came into the cell, looking very ominous. One said, “Come with us, we’re putting you on a plane and deporting you.” I was scared to go with them and I had just received a message that someone from the US Embassy was just ten minutes away.  I politely asked if I could wait for an embassy official or if I could call the Foreign Ministry to straighten out what must be a miscommunication.

Instead, the men grabbed me, threw me on the ground, put their knees into my back, yanked my arms back so violently that I heard the pop of my arm coming out of my shoulder, and put two sets of handcuffs on me. I was screaming from the pain so they took my scarf, stuffed it in my mouth, and dragged me through the halls of the airport to a waiting Turkish Airline plane.

I was in such agony from a dislocated shoulder—you could see the bone just sticking up in the air—that the airline personnel refused to let me on and insisted that the Egyptians call an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, the doctor immediately gave me a shot to ease the pain and insisted that I had to go to the hospital. By this time there were about 20 men on the tarmac, arguing about what to do with me while the Turkish plane with 175 people on board was prevented from taking off. After about an hour of fighting, the Egyptian security prevailed: I was not allowed go to the hospital but was forced to board the plane, with the two men who most abused me sitting on either side of me.

Medea Benjamin displays ‘the violence inherent in the system.’ (Photo: Code Pink)

Medea Benjamin, upon her return home (Photo: Code Pink)

As soon as we were in the air, the stewardess asked if there was a doctor on the plane.  Finally, a stroke of luck! Not only was there a doctor, but he was an orthopedic surgeon. He created a makeshift operating bed in the aisle of the plane and got the stewardesses to assist. “Usually I’d put you out before doing this, so I warn you this will be painful,” he said as he manipulated my arm back into its socket. Once we got to Turkey, I went to a hospital for further treatment before flying back home. My doctors here say it will take months of physical therapy before I can recover full use of my arm.

Along with the physical trauma, I am left with many unanswered questions:

* Why didn’t the US Embassy in Egypt ever help me during this 17-hour ordeal, especially when I made it clear I was in danger? When questioned by a journalist at a State Department briefing, spokeswoman Jen Psaki falsely claimed that the Embassy had provided me with “appropriate consular assistance.” I have since lodged a complaint about the lack of assistance, and you can send a message to the State Department, too.

*If the Egyptian officials were so brutal to me– a petite, 61-year-old American woman who has dedicated her life to peace–what are they doing to their own citizens and others languishing in their prisons? And why is Secretary Kerry considering a resumption of US military aid to this brutal regime? According to a recent Amnesty International report, the current human rights situation is characterized by repeated excessive use of force by the security forces, leading to the death of hundreds of protesters; increasingly severe restrictions on freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression, as well as academic freedoms; the arbitrary imprisonment of protest leaders, university students, journalists and others; and a failure to protect vulnerable groups, including minorities and women. Take a minute to send a message to the Egyptian embassy in the US and tell them to end the government’s brutal crackdown on peaceful citizens.

*Did Israel put the pressure on Egypt to do a last-minute about-face to keep us out of Gaza? In the end, only 17 of our members made it into Cairo (but not to Gaza) and the rest were deported from the airport. The question of Israeli influence is one we’ll probably never have answered, but during the very time we were supposed to be there, rocket fire was exchanged between militants from Gaza and the Israeli army. This shows the vulnerability of the women of Gaza, caught between the Israeli siege, Egyptian blockade, and internal extremists. That’s why it was so important for us to go there, to show our solidarity with the civilian population. But that will have to wait until Egypt no longer deems peace activists to be a threat to their national security.

As long as the world ignores the ongoing siege of Gaza, almost 2 million people will continue to languish in the world’s largest open-air prison. If Secretary of State Kerry wants the US to be a meaningful peace broker and to reach an agreement that includes dignity and human rights for the Palestinians, he can no longer continue to support military aid to the perpetrators of the blockade: Israel and Egypt.

 

Written for Mondoweiss

BDS AND THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY

The use of name-calling like “anti-Semites” and “delegtimizers” is problematic for a number of reasons, not only because its claims are untrue, but also because it takes the focus off the real issue at hand – whether and how Israel is, in fact, violating international law and basic human rights principles – and, instead, recklessly impugns the characters of those advocating for Israel to be held accountable.

*

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and the American Jewish Community

 Donna Nevel*

*

Photo credit: Jewish Voice For Peace

*

Many American Jewish organizations claim to be staunch supporters of civil and human rights as well as academic freedom. But when it comes to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, they make an exception. In their relentless opposition to BDS, they leave even core principles behind.

The Palestinian-led call for BDS, which began in 2005 in response to ongoing Israeli government violations of basic principles of international law and human rights of the Palestinian people, is a call of conscience. It has strengthened markedly over the last few years among artists, students, unions, church groups, dockworkers, and others. Media coverage of endorsers of the boycott has gone mainstream and viral. Recent examples include Stephen Hawking’s refusal to go to Jerusalem for the Presidential Conference, the successful campaign surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s support for Soda Stream and its settlement operation, and the American Studies Association (ASA) resolution that endorsed boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Alongside BDS’s increasing strength have come increasingly virulent attacks on, and campaigns against it. These attacks tend to employ similar language and tactics – as if the groups are all cribbing from the same talking points – including tarring BDS supporters as “anti-Semitic” and “delegitimizers.”

These attacks simply don’t address or grapple with the core aspirations or realities of BDS. As described by Hanan Ashrawi, executive committee member of the PLO, in a recent letter in the New York Times, BDS “does not target Jews, individually or collectively, and rejects all forms of bigotry and discrimination, including anti-Semitism.” She goes on to explain that “B.D.S. is, in fact, a legal, moral and inclusive movement struggling against the discriminatory policies of a country that defines itself in religiously exclusive terms, and that seeks to deny Palestinians the most basic rights simply because we are not Jewish.”

The use of name-calling like “anti-Semites” and “delegtimizers” is problematic for a number of reasons, not only because its claims are untrue, but also because it takes the focus off the real issue at hand – whether and how Israel is, in fact, violating international law and basic human rights principles – and, instead, recklessly impugns the characters of those advocating for Israel to be held accountable.

Criticisms, even extremely harsh ones, of the Israeli state or calls to make a state democratic and adhere to equal rights for all its citizens are not anti-Semitic. Rather, anti-Semitism is about hatred of, and discrimination against the Jewish people, which is not anywhere to be found in the call for BDS, and these kinds of accusations also serve to trivialize the long and ugly history of anti-Semitism.

Most recently, the anti-BDS effort has moved to the legislative front. A bill, introduced in the New York State Assembly last month, would have trampled academic freedom and the right to support BDS in its quest to punish the ASA and deter any who might dare to emulate its endorsement of the academic boycott. Those supporting the bill were opposed by a broad coalition of education, civil rights, legal, academic, and Palestine solidarity organizations, as well as Jewish social justice groups. The bill was withdrawn, but a revised version has been introduced that is designed, like the original, to punish colleges that use public funds for activities related to groups that support boycotts of Israel, including mere attendance at their meetings.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) worked closely with the sponsors of the New York bill.

Like the JCRC, rather than engaging in substantive debate about the issues raised in relation to BDS, the Israeli government and many Jewish communal organizations choose, instead, to try to discredit and derail the efforts of those supporting BDS.

For example, as recently reported by Ha’aretz, the Israeli Knesset is debating how to continue to counter BDS efforts across the globe, that is, “whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through quieter, diplomatic channels.” It is also considering what the role of AIPAC might be in introducing anti-boycott legislation and how to best bolster military surveillance–which has significant funding behind it–against supporters of BDS.

American Jewish communal organizations have also expended massive resources and energy in their campaigns to demonize endorsers of BDS. The Israel Action Network (IAN)–which describes itself as “a strategic initiative of TheJewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), created to counter assaults made on Israel’s legitimacy”–has funded the anti-BDS effort to the tune of at least six million dollars over a three-year period.

The IAN website characterizes supporters of BDS as “delegitimizers”and says that, in order to gain support from “vulnerable targets,” which include “college campuses, churches, labor unions, and human rights organizations,” delegitimizers utilize Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) tactics, “the same tools used to isolate and vilify apartheid South Africa, Iran, or Nazi Germany. BDS activists, IAN continues, “present distortions, fabrications and misrepresentations of international law in an attempt to paint Israel with the same brush.”

In another example of name-calling without any substance, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) July 2013 report attacked Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), featuring ad hominem accusations (JVP “intentionally exploits Jewish culture”), rather than discussing JVP’s actual positions. (A JVP report on the ADL points out that the ADL not only targets JVP but is well-known for its long history of spying on Arabs and supporters of the Palestinian movement.)

On the charge of anti-Semitism, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in its call to fight the BDS movement, urges it supporters to “learn the facts behind this hypocritical and anti-Semitic campaign,” and the ADL’s Abe Foxman echoed those same sentiments: “The BDS movement at its very core is anti-Semitic.” And most recently, in his speech to AIPAC, Prime Minister Netanyahu, after shamelessly drawing upon classic anti-Semitic imagery of Jews to speak of supporters of BDS, says: “So you see, attempts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, the most threatened democracy on earth, are simply the latest chapter in the long and dark history of anti- Semitism.”

The demonization of BDS is not only the domain of the Israeli government and the mainstream Jewish community. The self-declared liberal J-Street, in its seemingly relentless quest to stay under the Jewish “tent,” has also jumped on the anti-BDS bandwagon, sometimes in partnership with the IAN, which (precisely because J Street is positioned as a peace group) proudly documents its relationship with J Street in fighting BDS. Discussing how J Street is gaining acceptance in the mainstream Jewish community, JCPA’s CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow points to “its role in pushing back against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement…”

Further, the refusal of both liberal land mainstream Jewish groups to discuss substantive issues around Israel’s actions or BDS also reveals itself in language that admonishes BDS as being “beyond the pale.” Recently, for example, asreported by the director of JVP in an op-ed in the Forward, the director of the JCRC of Greater Boston, who has a history of involvement in liberal organizations, explained that “any organization that supports BDS…doesn’t belong at the communal table. In fact, he was referring specifically to Jewish Voice for Peace. He evenarguedthat opening the public conversation to BDS is roughly akin to welcoming the Ku Klux Klan.”

This attempted silencing of those simply discussing BDS plays out even in seemingly minor local skirmishes. For example, last year, the liberal rabbi of a large New York City synagogue cancelled the synagogue’s facilities-usage contract with a group of Jews who, he feared, might, on his premises, discuss BDS. That, he said, would be “beyond the pale.”

These attacks against BDS appear to be an almost desperate reaction to the increasing successes of BDS, not only in the world at large, but also within the broader Jewish community itself. Respected members of the liberal Jewish community as well as a few liberal Zionist groups that were vehemently anti-BDS are now calling for boycotts against products made in the settlements and are engaging with the issue publicly. Further, the mission and vision of groups like Jews Say No and Jewish Voice for Peace – “a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights” – are resonating with increasing numbers of Jews who support BDS as a natural outgrowth of their commitments. And that movement is growing in partnership with the broader Palestinian-led movement for justice.

How should the rest of the Jewish community respond? Ad hominem attacks on BDS just will not do. It is time for BDS opponents to take a deep breath. Consider this: BDS is a principled response to Israel’s actions and behavior as an occupier. It is a profound call by Palestinians – and supporters world-wide–for justice. It is not BDS that should be opposed, but, rather, the very policies and practices that have made BDS necessary.

*Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, is a long-time organizer for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine. She was a co-coordinator of the 1989 landmark Road to Peace Conference that brought PLO officials and Knesset members together to the US for the first time. More recently, she was a founding member of Jews Say No!, is a member of the board of Jewish Voice for Peace, and is on the coordinating committee of the Nakba Education Project, U.S.

Written FOR

URGENT APPEAL FROM MEDEA BENJAMIN AND CODEPINK

Medea welcomed home by loved ones at the airport in DC

*


The remaining delegates waiting to go to Gaza, trapped in the Cairo airport.

*

Send this letter to the Egyptian government with our demands

and

Sign this petition to the Egypt Desk at the State Department

Just the other day I hopped on a plane to Egypt, eager to join the international delegation of 100 women headed to Gaza for International Women’s Day. Little did I know I would be stopped at the Cairo airport, detained, held overnight in a cell, then in the morning brutally assaulted by Egyptian authorities. They threw me to the ground, stomped on my back, handcuffed me so tightly they dislocated my shoulder, and then deported me to Turkey.

Now the Egyptian authorities are blocking most of the remaining delegates from entering Egypt and traveling to Gaza. It has been frustrating and disappointing for us, but we cannot forget that almost two million Palestinians remained trapped in Gaza while the Egyptian Rafah border remains closed or tightly controlled.

What happened to me was traumatizing, but is minor compared to what Egyptian activists are going through, including women. Thousands of peaceful Egyptian demonstrators have been killed or jailed by the Military Junta since the July 2013 military coup.

Here’s how you can take action:

Despite frantic calls to the US Embassy during my 17-hour ordeal, they NEVER even got in touch with me. It is appalling that not only did the US government fail to intervene when an American citizen was being beaten, but that our government continues to send billions of US taxpayer dollars in military aid to the illegitimate and abusive Egyptian government.

Sign this petition to Egypt Desk at the State Department, then call them (202-647-4680). Demand to know why they did not assist a peaceful US citizen who was being abused by the Egyptian authorities, and let them know you want an immediate end to US military aid to Egypt.

Thanks for all you do for peace and justice,
Medea Benjamin, Co-founder, CODEPINK  

EGYPT OFFICIALLY UNDER ISRAELI CONTROL

*

First read THIS from HaAretz ….

*

If you still have doubts about the heading of this post read on …

*

CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

 

On the night of March 3, 2014, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK Medea Benjamin was on her way to Egypt to join an international delegation of women going to Gaza when she was detained by border police in the Cairo airport, held overnight in a cell, and then brutally tackled (her arm badly injured), handcuffed, and deported to Turkey. During her time in the detention cell she had access to a cell phone, from which she contacted colleagues at CODEPINK about the poor conditions of the cell and chronicled her ordeal via Twitter. When the Egyptian police removed her from the detention center, they used such excessive force she sustained a fracture and torn ligament in her shoulder.

 

Calling from Istanbul, Benjamin gave the following statement: “I was brutally assaulted by Egyptian police, who never said what I was being accused of. When the authorities came into the cell to deport me, two men threw me to the ground, stomped on my back, pulled my shoulder out of its socket and handcuffed me so that my injured arm was twisted around and my wrists began to bleed. I was then forced to sit between the two men who attacked me on the plane ride from Cairo to Istanbul, and I was (and still am) in terrible pain the whole time.” Doctors in the Cairo airport said she was not fit to travel because of her injury, but the authorities forced her to board anyways.

 

She is currently in Istanbul, Turkey, receiving medical attention at a hospital before she returns to the US. It is still unclear why the Egyptians deported her. Medea’s colleagues at CODEPINK are appalled by the unnecessary use of force by Egyptian authorities.

 

In response to a call from the women of Gaza, Benjamin was traveling through Egypt to be a part of the CODEPINK contingent of an international coalition of 100 women traveling to Gaza to witness the hardships facing the 1.7 million residents, deliver humanitarian aid, and call attention to the need for a longer-term strategy to achieve peace and justice for Palestinians.

 

From a CodePink Press Release

THE LATEST HIPHOP FROM GAZA

… CHORUS …

The noise in our country is endless
We live and die, sticking out till the end
The noise in our country is endless
We live and die, stick it out till the end.

*

Report on the above can be read HERE

TARGETING BDS AT AIPAC

In an attempt to gain favour among American zionists, Netnyahu lauched his most brutal attack against the BDS Movement at AIPAC’s annual meeting … declaring that BDS is the greatest threat facing Israel today. Could this mean that Iran is no longer on his agenda?

*

In recent months, top ministers in Netanyahu’s government have repeatedly declared that BDS is the “greatest threat” Israel faces.

*

At AIPAC, Netanyahu launches “desperate” attack on BDS movement

 Ali Abunimah

BDS movement “will fail,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cheering AIPAC delegates. (Screenshot)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today launched a frontal assault on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

“One movement that’s definitely on the wrong side of the moral divide is the movement to boycott Israel, the so-called BDS,” Netanyahu told the cheering delegates, in his keynote speech to the annual gathering of the powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC in Washington, DC.

“That movement will fail,” Netanyahu predicted.

While claiming that people were “flocking to Israel” for its technology from all over the world, Netanyahu warned, “I don’t want you to get complacent – because the fact that they’re going to fail doesn’t mean that the BDS movement shouldn’t be vigorously opposed.”

“Anti-Semites”

Netanyahu proceeded to defame supporters of Palestinian human rights in the crudest terms: “Throughout history, people believed the most outrageously absurd things about the Jews, that we were using the blood of children to bake matzos, that we were spreading the plague throughout Europe.”

Those who support BDS today are just as bad, Netanyahu asserted: “Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot. They should be exposed and condemned. The boycotters should be boycotted.”

This speech is Netanyahu’s highest profile attack on BDS, although last summer, he put responsibility for fighting against the movement for Palestinian rights into the hands of the “Ministry of Strategic Affairs.”

Israel is also placing dedicated anti-BDS operatives in its foreign embassies.

In recent months, top ministers in Netanyahu’s government have repeatedly declared that BDS is the “greatest threat” Israel faces.

Desperate

Responding to his remarks, Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, the Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement, said in an emailed statement:

“Netanyahu’s desperate attack on the BDS movement comes as European pension funds are blacklisting Israeli companies and banks, as Israeli concert organizers find it increasingly difficult to persuade artists to perform in Israel and as governments begin to take action to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law.”

“At its core, the BDS movement is a movement against Israel’s systematic discrimination and apartheid policies. The BDS movement is opposed, as a matter of principle, to all forms of discrimination, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia. The world is growing increasingly weary of Israel’s attempts to conflate criticism of its violations of international law with anti-semitism.”

Ziadah is right. It’s hard to see how people who are not already on board with Netanyahu will be swayed by his invective.

If Israel’s only answer to people all over the world who are horrified by its oppression of Palestinians and ongoing theft of their land, is to call them “bigots,” then Netanyahu should fully expect the BDS movement to grow.

 

Written FOR

ISRAELI OCCUPATION REACHES THE SOCCER STADIUMS

Sports represent escape, joy and community, and the Palestinian national soccer team, for a people without a recognized nation, is a source of tremendous pride. To attack the players is to attack the hope that the national team will ever truly have a home.

*

After Latest Incident, Israel’s Future in FIFA Is Uncertain

Dave Zirin*

*

Palestinian national team

The Palestinian national soccer team, a source of pride for many, has been under attack by the Israeli state. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

*

Their names are Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17. They were once soccer players in the West Bank. Now they are never going to play sports again. Jawhar and Adam were on their way home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31 when Israeli forces fired upon them as they approached a checkpoint. After being shot repeatedly, they were mauled by checkpoint dogs and then beaten. Ten bullets were put into Jawhar’s feet. Adam took one bullet in each foot. After being transferred from a hospital in Ramallah to King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, they received the news that soccer would no longer be a part of their futures. (Israel’s border patrol maintains that the two young men were about to throw a bomb.)

This is only the latest instance of the targeting of Palestinian soccer players by the Israeli army and security forces. Death, injury or imprisonment has been a reality for several members of the Palestinian national team over the last five years. Just imagine if members of Spain’s top-flight World Cup team had been jailed, shot or killed by another country and imagine the international media outrage that would ensue. Imagine if prospective youth players for Brazil were shot in the feet by the military of another nation. But, tragically, these events along the checkpoints have received little attention on the sports page or beyond.

Much has been written about the psychological effect this kind of targeting has on the occupied territories. Sports represent escape, joy and community, and the Palestinian national soccer team, for a people without a recognized nation, is a source of tremendous pride. To attack the players is to attack the hope that the national team will ever truly have a home.

The Palestinian national football team, which formed in 1998, is currently ranked 144th in the world by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). They have never been higher than 115th. As Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril al-Rajoub commented bluntly, the problems are rooted in “the occupation’s insistence on destroying Palestinian sport.”

Over the last year, in response to this systematic targeting of Palestinian soccer, al-Rajoub has attempted to assemble forces to give Israel the ultimate sanction and, as he said, “demand the expulsion of Israel from FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.” Al-Rajoub claims the support of Jordan, Qatar, Iran, Oman, Algiers and Tunisia in favor of this move, and promises more countries, with an opportunity at a regional March 14 meeting of Arab states, to organize more support. He has also pledged to make the resolution formal when all the member nations of FIFA meet in Brazil.

Qatar’s place in this, as host of the 2022 World Cup, deserves particular scrutiny. As the first Arab state to host the tournament, they are under fire for the hundreds of construction deaths of Nepalese workers occurring on their watch. As the volume on these concerns rises, Qatar needs all the support in FIFA that they can assemble. Whether they eventually see the path to that support as one that involves confronting or accommodating Israel, will be fascinating to see.

As for Sepp Blatter, he clearly recognizes that there is a problem in the treatment of Palestinian athletes by the Israeli state. Over the last year, he has sought to mediate this issue by convening a committee of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to see if they can come to some kind of agreement about easing the checkpoints and restrictions that keep Palestinian athletes from leaving (and trainers, consultants and coaches from entering) the West Bank and Gaza. Yet al-Rajoub sees no progress. As he said, “This is the way the Israelis are behaving and I see no sign that they have recharged their mental batteries. There is no change on the ground. We are a full FIFA member and have the same rights as all other members.”

The shooting into the feet of Jawhar and Adam has taken a delicate situation and made it an impossible one. Sporting institutions like FIFA and the IOC are always wary about drawing lines in the sand when it comes to the conduct of member nations. But the deliberate targeting of players is seen, even in the corridors of power, as impossible to ignore. As long as Israel subjects Palestinian athletes to detention and violence, their seat at the table of international sports will be never be short of precarious.

* Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming book “Brazil’s Dance with the Devil” (Haymarket)

 

Written FOR

THE VIDEO AIPAC IS TRYING TO HIDE FROM YOU

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

*

Isn’t it bad enough that AIPAC controls Congress? Now they want to control YouTube as well …

*

Is AIPAC trying to stop you from seeing this video?

Submitted by Ali Abunimah
*

YouTube shut down the account that posted the original video. A new copy of the video should has appeared online and is viewable above. CODEPINK tweeted the new instance of the video:

*

See Tweets at SOURCE

*

Original post

The anti-war campaign group CODEPINK says the powerful Israel lobby organizationAIPAC is threatening to sue it over this video clip, a satirical version of an AIPAC policy conference promotional video.

“On 25 February, an AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] member called a CODEPINK staffer threatening legal action in response to a controversial video clip that he alleges was made by the peace group CODEPINK,” a CODEPINK press release states.

The video features real footage from AIPAC conferences interspersed with images of Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights, and voiceovers from supposed conference-goers.

One of the voices says “It’s exciting to see so many people together who understand that sometimes you have to violate other people’s human rights if you want to take their land.”

CODEPINK does not say if it made the video but the group’s co-founder Medea Benjamin commented:

It is absurd for AIPAC to threaten legal action over such an obviously satirical video. It is interesting that they are reacting so strongly to the clip, though. Perhaps it’s because the content is really an accurate reflection of AIPAC’s dangerous foreign policies. AIPAC does, in fact, advocate for bombing countries such as Iran and Syria; it fails to condemn Israel’s continued building of settlements and its human rights abuses against Palestinians; and it lobbies Congress to send billions of taxpayer dollars to Israel to continue the occupation of Palestine. … What are they trying to hide by silencing this video?”

CODEPINK spearheads annual protests at AIPAC’s policy conference. The Electronic Intifada sent an inquiry to AIPAC’s media office and this post will be updated if a response is received.

VIDEO // SEE DAILY LIFE IN GAZA THROUGH PALESTINIAN EYES

This short Photo Documentary shows the life of the Palestinians through the eyes of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Photos: Ezz Alzaanon from Gaza.

Thanks to everyone who worked to make this little film available for people to see life in Gaza.

*

Now, Look Into My Eyes!

WHY IS ISRAEL SO AFRAID OF CRITICISM?

Robust democracies do not just tolerate criticism; they welcome it as a part of freedom of expression.

*

Why does Israel feel threatened by humanitarian workers?

Anne Irfan *

Humanitarian workers habitually find themselves unwelcome, detained or turned back at Israeli-controlled border crossings. (Joe Goldberg)

The Israeli detention of and denial of entry Western activists, academics and humanitarian workers sympathetic to Palestinians has received particular attention in recent years, following the targeting of high-profile figures including Richard FalkNorman Finkelsteinand Noam Chomsky.

During the first week in February, I was on the receiving end of Israeli detention practices myself when I attempted to enter the occupied West Bank from neighboring Jordan via theAllenby Bridge border crossing.

Once on the Israeli-controlled side of the crossing, I was detained and interrogated for 12 hours before being denied entry and sent back to Amman. I have been given a five-year ban on entering Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli authorities also detained and interrogated my friend and fellow traveler, who had never previously visited the region.

For those who follow events and developments in Palestine, my experience will be unsurprising; stories of random and unexplained clampdowns are depressingly familiar.

The opacity, lack of due process and disregard for human rights that characterize Israeli detention practices also typify the occupation authorities’ actions in the West Bank (including occupied East Jerusalem) and Gaza.

If the Israeli government will openly flout countless UN resolutions, it is hardly going to care about a traveler’s right to privacy.

Nevertheless, the nature and manner in which I was detained and interrogated remain of value for what they reveal about the Israeli occupation and how it continues to operate in 2014.

Opacity

Most fundamentally, the Israeli detention of “undesirable” travelers provides a terrifying insight into the daily lives of millions of Palestinians, who go without the protections of a Western passport.

For all the fear and horror of my experience, I ultimately knew that the worst thing the Israeli authorities could do was detain and eventually deport me.

Palestinians have no such guarantee.

Moreover, during my detention and multiple interrogations I came face-to-face with the impunity and unaccountability of the system, maintained by way of total opacity.

On a superficial but symbolic note, all the Israeli occupation personnel wore badges with information in Hebrew only — a language which the majority of detainees and travelers through this crossing will not be able to read. We were given no information or explanations as to what was happening.

No recourse

When I was eventually informed that I had been denied entry, one reason given was “some information we found.” My request for further details was denied.

As anyone who has passed through a checkpoint in the West Bank will know, this impunity and arbitrariness is a central part of how the occupation works, and how it continues to exert power.

The time one has to wait, and whether or not one is allowed through, can all too often depend on the mood and character of whoever is on duty.

Entry can be denied with no reason and if this happens, there is no recourse.

My detention was also indicative of Israel’s increased targeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

I have previously volunteered in Bethlehem in a program organized by a British NGO; more recently I worked for the London-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

My interrogators questioned me about this work at length, fixating particularly on pushing me to provide the names and contact details of Palestinians I knew in the West Bank (disappointingly for the Israeli staff, I was unable to oblige as nearly all the Palestinians I know are in the diaspora).

They were also interested in my journalistic work, asking me about the articles I have previously written for The Electronic Intifada.

While I had thought that a state facing a supposedly serious security threat might have a better use for its resources than interrogating a London-based humanitarian worker, it was interesting to discover just how gravely any work with Palestinians is regarded.

Unsurprisingly, my current employment with a poverty-relief organization that operates in sub-Saharan Africa was of little interest.

Strategic clampdown

On a similar note, the detention of international humanitarian workers is part of a strategic clampdown on non-violent activism. It was clear from how I was treated that the border staff did not believe I posed a physical threat.

I was frisked but not strip-searched and my belongings only went through the normal security checks. Although I was detained, interrogated and watched, I was not closely physically guarded.

Most of the time I was able to walk around the “waiting room” and go to the bathrooms without a guard accompanying me. My friend, who was also interrogated, was not searched at all throughout the detention period.

After 12 hours the Israelis announced that she was allowed to enter, although she chose to return to Jordan too.

This treatment is inconsistent if the border staff genuinely believed that I might pose a physical threat. It would appear that the intellectual threat is of greater concern.

Insecurity

Finally, the behavior of the Israeli border staff towards Westerners of Arab descent can be seen as a microcosm of the broader disregard with which Israel now routinely treats its international relations.

As a UK citizen, I remember the controversy that hit the headlines four years ago when it emerged that members of Mossad had carried out assassinations in Dubai on British passports, using identities stolen from people traveling through Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv (“Britons queued at Ben Gurion airport as Israeli officials cloned passports,” The Guardian, 24 March 2010).

The incident sparked unprecedented fury, with the then foreign secretary David Miliband issuing a strongly-worded statement and expelling an Israeli diplomat from London (“Britain expels Israeli diplomat over Dubai passport row,” BBC News, 23 March 2010).

After this, the Foreign Office issued new guidelines advising Britons not to part with their passports when entering through Israeli-controlled frontiers (“Don’t hand passport to officials, FCO tells Britons travelling to Israel,” The Guardian, 24 March 2010).

Notwithstanding the diplomatic row with a supposed ally, identical policies continue to operate in Israel.

Despite the ostensible show of strength that is central to detention practices, what my experience has ultimately revealed is the insecurity that lies at the heart of the Israeli state.

Robust democracies do not just tolerate criticism; they welcome it as a part of freedom of expression.

We are all used to hearing that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East,” according to a whole range of definitions. For now at least, those definitions continue to be stretched to the point of being unrecognizable.

*Anne Irfan holds a masters degree in Middle Eastern history. She is based in London and works in international development.

 

Written FOR

HIGHER EDUCATION COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH …

… If you are a Palestinian

*

I risked imprisonment and death in order to study at Washington University.

Last summer I was thrilled to learn that I had earned admission and a scholarship to the Brown School of Social Work. But I almost could not be here – for one reason.

I am a Palestinian from Bethlehem.

 

I risked imprisonment by Israel and death to study in the United States

Murad Owda *

Israel’s wall around the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem restricts the basic freedom of thousands of Palestinians every day.

(APA images)

I risked imprisonment and death in order to study at Washington University.

Last summer I was thrilled to learn that I had earned admission and a scholarship to the Brown School of Social Work. But I almost could not be here – for one reason.

I am a Palestinian from Bethlehem.

I needed to go to the United States consulate in Jerusalem to apply for my visa. Bethlehem is only six miles from Jerusalem, but it is extremely difficult to get there because less than a decade ago Israel built a giant wall between the cities.

I went through the proper bureaucratic channels to apply to enter Jerusalem. The Israelis denied me permission – on four separate occasions. They claimed I was a security threat – but offered no explanation why. I have never committed any crime or been to jail.

When I explained the situation to the American officials they told me that’s not their problem. In order to apply for a visa I needed to be at their consulate at 10AM on 16 July.

So I had to sneak around like a criminal, evading soldiers. I went miles away to find a small opening. I went through hills. I went through thorn trees. I crawled through a sewage pipe – knowing that others caught in such pipes have suffocated to death after Israeli soldiers discovered them and shot tear gas into the pipes or sicced dogs on them.

When I arrived in Jerusalem I washed myself with a bottle of water, covered my cuts and bruises with an extra pair of clothes I had in a backpack and went into the consulate to talk with the American officials. Then I immediately hid in a friends’ house for three days, not daring to go outside.

I made it here. I’m lucky – thousands of other Palestinians who want to study aren’t so lucky. That’s why it upset me to read that Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton recently condemned the American Studies Association’s (ASA) endorsement of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Although an extremely limited boycott, which only targets institutions and not individual academics, Wrighton stated that he was “deeply troubled and dismayed” because “the boycott directly violates academic freedom.”

What about my academic freedom? What about the tens of thousands of Palestinian children and teachers whose movement to and from their schools is impeded by the Israeli military?

Forget academic – what about basic freedom? Israel made my family stateless refugees in 1948 until now. It steals our lands. It steals our water. It denies us freedom of movement. It taxes us without representation. It subjects us to arbitrary violence and detention without any meaningful due process. It allows fanatical, armed religious settlers to torment us and applies a separate code of law to Palestinians than it does to Jewish Israelis.

Why is Chancellor Wrighton unconcerned about violations of both my academic rights and my basic human rights, but he is “deeply troubled and dismayed” that perhaps a handful of Israeli academics may have to pay for their own airplane tickets if they decide to participate in an ASA conference?

I commend the ASA for heeding the call of the Palestinian people for boycott, divestment and sanctions against institutions that are complicit in sustaining the Israeli system of ethnic discrimination and domination.

This nonviolent movement helped change the unjust apartheid system in South Africa – and it can also support our struggle to end apartheid in Palestine so that all can enjoy equal rights, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.

*Murad Owda is from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, Palestine, and an MSW student at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Written FOR

ZIONISTS UNSETTLED BY UNSETTLED ZIONISM

(Jeff Haynes / Agence France Presse

 

While demanding that Zionist political ideology not be questioned, J Street has long opposed key Palestinian rights and promotes anti-Palestinian views among its youth wing, including the view that refugees are a “demographic threat” and must be excluded from their native land on the sole grounds that they are not Jews.

*

J Street attacks Presbyterians over study guide questioning Zionism

 Ali Abunimah

The Israel lobby group J Street has launched a blistering attack on the Presbyterian Church USA over its new study guideZionism Unsettled, claiming that the publication promotes “polarization” and “intolerance.”

Zionism Unsettledpublished last month by the church’s Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), is a 74-page study guide examining the role Zionism and Christian Zionism have played in shaping attitudes and events in Palestine and its region.

It is intended to help church congregations and others to learn and talk about Zionism and the devastating impact the practice of the ideology has had on Palestinians, as The Electronic Intifada previously reported.

J Street “deeply offended”

In a statement yesterday, J Street said it was “deeply offended” by Zionism Unsettled, asserting that “one has to question the IPMN’s motives in publishing this ‘resource.’”

J Street claimed the guide’s authors “had no intention of encouraging thoughtful reflection on Zionism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or Jewish perspectives on Israel. Instead, reductive and divisive thinking of this kind exacerbates polarization and intolerance, both of which are not in short supply in this conflict.”

J Street protested that the guide “offensively intimates that Zionism is racist, pathological and the very root of the conflict in the region.”

“An approach that belittles or demeans Jews, Israelis or Palestinians makes no contribution to ending this conflict,” J Street concludes.

While demanding that Zionist political ideology not be questioned, J Street has long opposed key Palestinian rights and promotes anti-Palestinian views among its youth wing, including the view that refugees are a “demographic threat” and must be excluded from their native land on the sole grounds that they are not Jews.

“Anti-Semitic”

While J Street does not outright accuse Zionism Unsettled’s authors of anti-Semitism, its angry attack is scarcely more temperate than the Anti-Defamation League, which claimedthat the study guide “may be the most anti-Semitic document to come out of a mainline American church in recent memory.”

Both of these approaches reflect an extreme intolerance for any diversity of opinion about Zionism, especially among Jews.

Rabbi Brant Rosen, author of Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity, has voiced strong support of Zionism Unsettled.

“As a Jew, I’m especially appreciative that while [Zionism Unsettled] is strongly critical of Zionism, it doesn’t flinch from extensive Christian self-criticism,” Rosen writes at his blog.

Rosen is a contributor to a longer, forthcoming book – Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land – on which Zionism Unsettled is based.

Rosen, co-chair of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace, continues: “The guide is particularly candid in its examination of the oppressive legacy of the post-Constantinan Church, replacement theology – and Christian anti-Semitism in general.”

Critique of “extremist elements”

Donald Wagner, National Program Director of Friends of Sabeel–North America, responded to J Street’s attack with an invitation for renewed dialogue.

In an email to The Electronic Intifada, Wagner, an ordained Presbyterian minister, says that J Street’s response “is what we might expect from CAMERA, AIPAC, and other extremist groups, but not from an organization that strives to position itself as an alternative to these purveyors of the tired old anachronistic diatribes.”

Wagner adds that Zionism Unsettled is “a critique of the extremist elements of political Zionism, including those of [Christians United for Israel founder] Rev. John Hagee that have crept into our Evangelical communities or their liberal models that we find in our mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic denominations.”

“As a Presbyterian who contributed to this new study guide, I’d like to challenge J Street to a more thoughtful, honest, and open public conversation of the difficult and complex issues it raises – but only after J Street’s leaders have actually read the document.”

Wagner’s suggestion that J Street leaders had not even read the document they are condemning is understandable given the fact that Zionism Unsettled addresses in detail all the points J Street raises in its statement.

Ecumenical deal

Wagner urged that “It is time for us all to face up to the dangerous tendencies within political Zionism and the Christian Zionists who prefer to excuse the human rights abuses perpetrated on Palestinians daily and in doing so actually negate the spiritual and moral claims of justice that we share as faith communities.”

A “dialogue of justice” will be difficult, Wagner says, but would be preferable to “the so-called ‘ecumenical deal,’ where large dinners and polite discussions abound but where equal justice for Palestinians and Jews is off the table.”

“We look forward to hearing from J Street and will welcome a new dialogue with you,” Wagner urges.

It will be interesting to see whether J Street is capable of rising to that challenge, especially as the Presbyterian Church USA heads into another debate and vote on divestment from Israel occupation profiteers at its general assembly this summer.

Written FOR

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,068 other followers