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

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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.

DON’T BLAME GLOBAL WARMING ON COW FARTS …. NO MATTER WHAT OBAMA SAYS

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Regardless of what President Obama says, the truth is …

Another hoax from “settled science” bites the dust. 

Great News: Cow Farts Don’t Cause Global Warming

“In the past environmentalists, from Lord Stern to Sir Paul McCartney, have urged people to stop eating meat because the methane produced by cattle causes global warming.

However a new study found that cattle grazed on the grasslands of China actually reduce another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.

Authors of the paper, published in Nature, say the research does not mean that producing livestock to eat is good for the environment in all countries. However in certain circumstances, it can be better for global warming to let animals graze on grassland.”

Source

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).

DIASPORA PSYCHOSIS ….

…. Or why Palestinians do not have a peace partner

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First, from the Diaspora itself …

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Moving on to Hebron …

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The extremists in our midst …

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All summed up by our very own Psycho Gal …

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Foxman simplifies matters by bringing up the Pollard case …

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And Kerry sees a possible solution?

He is as wacko as all of the above!

RABBIS AGAINST RACISM SPEAK OUT

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In recent years, Eliyahu sought to keep Arabs from moving into Safed, whose local college has some 1,500 Arab students. He said that selling or renting homes to Arabs “is prohibited by Jewish law.”

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Over 1,000 rabbis urge Jerusalem mayor not to pick Islamophobe for chief rabbi

Rick Jacobs, Julie Schonfeld, Asher Lopatin and Debra Waxman among signatories who say choice of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, now chief rabbi of Safed, would send ‘message of divisiveness and intolerance.’

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Shmuel Eliyahu

Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed. Photo by Nir Kafri
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Over 1,000 liberal Diaspora rabbis have appealed to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat not to appoint Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu as the capital’s chief Sephardi rabbi, citing his history of anti-Arab remarks and rulings. Reports are that Barkat is leaning toward Eliyahu for the appointment, which is being fought over by Jerusalem’s Orthodox Jewish powers.

Prominent among the rabbis signing the letter were Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Conservative Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, liberal Orthodox Rabbi Asher Lopatin, Reconstructionist Rabbi Deborah Waxman and Rabbi Brian Lurie, president of the New Israel Fund.

The letter notes that Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, “made a halakhic ruling barring Jews from renting apartments to Arabs, opposed military service for women, characterized Arabs and Muslims in racist and humiliating terms, while the attorney general said his candidacy for [Sephardi] chief rabbi was inappropriate.”
The rabbis told Barkat that appointing Eliyahu to the post would “send a message of divisiveness and intolerance” from Jerusalem.

In recent years, Eliyahu sought to keep Arabs from moving into Safed, whose local college has some 1,500 Arab students. He said that selling or renting homes to Arabs “is prohibited by Jewish law.”

On one occasion he was quoted as saying, “The Arab society has an agenda; they want to Islamicize the world. Arab society is, generally and without generalizations, a violent society.”

Another time he came out against girls serving in the army, saying it puts them “into inappropriate situations that harm their faith, emotions and often, sadly, their bodies.”

Eliyahu’s late father, Mordechai, was chief Sephardi rabbi of Israel and later a spiritual leader to many extremist settler youth, delivering a eulogy at Meir Kahane’s funeral.

 

Written FOR

 

ZION GONE BONKERS ~~ CALLS DERSHOWITZ AN ANTI SEMITE

The following is almost amusing ….

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“If you don’t want people like me defending Israel,” he told them, “then you’re in serious trouble.”

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In Philly, rightwing Zionists call Dershowitz anti-Semitic for opposing settlements

ZION AGAINST POLLARD’S PARDON

 Surly a strange turn of events …

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Pollard “copied, delivered and sold scientific, technical and military information about U.S. ship positions, aircraft stations, tactics and training operations; classified analyses of Soviet missile systems, three separate categories of daily message or cable traffic and intelligence on military hardware still in development at the time. The information he shared revealed the way in which the United States collected intelligence, revealed the names of human sources and exposed the identities of numerous U.S. intelligence officers and analysts.”

For all this, Pollard was handsomely paid, with the promise of more. And even when pleading guilty, he never expressed remorse.

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Don’t Pardon Jonathan Pollard

Editorial FROM

GETTY IMAGES
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It’s not clear whether the idea was leaked by the Obama administration or advanced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But the very suggestion that convicted spy Jonathan J. Pollard may be released from his North Carolina prison as part of an effort to resuscitate the flailing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations has accomplished something rare in Mideast disputes:

It has united people on the right, on the left and in the middle. In condemnation.

Nobody seems to think that it’s a wise idea to sew Pollard into the fraying fabric of these negotiations. We agree. We side with those who further believe that, while he may deserve release on humanitarian grounds, pardoning this convicted, unrepentant spy is similarly unwise.

There’s a déjà vu quality to the swirling rumors, harkening back to 1998, when then President Bill Clinton was prepared to release Pollard during the Wye River summit at the urging of then Prime Minister Netanyahu. But American intelligence officials vehemently protested and, when the CIA chief threatened to resign, the deal was scuttled.

A dispassionate examination of Pollard’s case makes it clear why those intelligence officials reacted the way they did. As Dafna Linzer wrote yesterday on msnbc.com: “The U.S. government wasn’t exaggerating when it claimed in court that ‘the breadth and scope of classified information compromised by Mr. Pollard is among the greatest of any espionage operations uncovered by federal authorities.’”

Pollard was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison after pleading guilty to giving U.S. military and intelligence secrets to Israel. Since he was caught spying for an ally, since he is now old and sickly, his supporters in the U.S. and Israel have maintained a consistent, determined campaign for his freedom, painting him as a victim of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist politics.

He is older and, evidently, unwell. He has served time for decades. He certainly deserves consideration for early release on humanitarian grounds before his next chance for parole.

But a pardon wipes the slate clean, effectively announces that it was all a mistake, he did no wrong, and he is excused. That is a far more problematic statement.

American intelligence officials contend to this day that Pollard did more than simply give Israel a stack of documents that, by his own estimation, would have measured six-by-six feet and stood ten-feet high. According to internal government documents cited by msnbc.com, Pollard “copied, delivered and sold scientific, technical and military information about U.S. ship positions, aircraft stations, tactics and training operations; classified analyses of Soviet missile systems, three separate categories of daily message or cable traffic and intelligence on military hardware still in development at the time. The information he shared revealed the way in which the United States collected intelligence, revealed the names of human sources and exposed the identities of numerous U.S. intelligence officers and analysts.”

For all this, Pollard was handsomely paid, with the promise of more. And even when pleading guilty, he never expressed remorse.

But since he has become a cause celebre for many Israeli and American Jewish leaders — why, even Gilad Shalit, who suffered for years as a prisoner in Gaza, recently pleaded for his release — his name is now bandied about as some sort of sweetener to counteract the distinct souring of negotiations in the last few days.

Tying this complicated spy case to the fate of the two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all wrong. Worse, it inserts the United States directly into what ought to be, indeed must be, a bilateral agreement. The U.S. can be the mediator, the nudge, the guarantor and, probably, the banker if such an agreement ever comes to pass. But it should not be offering its own concessions.

In the end, as Secretary of State John Kerry is learning the very hard way, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have to want to resolve this conflict. Pardoning an American who spied will not hasten that day. Unfortunately, it’s not clear what will.

 

‘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).

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Boteach stops reporter from videotaping Columbia University debate

BACKROOM BLACKMAIL WILL FREE POLLARD

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Convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard will be freed from a US jail before Passover, which begins April 14, a senior Israeli source familiar with ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinians said Tuesday. The deal would also see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released by Israel and the Palestinians agreeing to extend talks into 2015. 

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The shame of it all!

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Israeli source: Pollard to go free in return for hundreds of Palestinians

Source says spy to be released before Passover; Kerry meets with Netanyahu as talks teeter on brink of collapse, said set to return Wednesday for Abbas meeting.

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Convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard will be freed from a US jail before Passover, which begins April 14, a senior Israeli source familiar with ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinians said Tuesday. The deal would also see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released by Israel and the Palestinians agreeing to extend talks into 2015.

The steps are part of a new proposal by Secretary of State John Kerry to resuscitate the US-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the details of the proposal, published Tuesday by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Israel will expand the currently on-hold fourth and final release of Palestinian prisoners from 26 to several hundred, including senior Palestinian officials jailed in Israel. The four releases, each of 26 long-term prisoners involved in deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis, were a goodwill gesture by Israel announced at the start of the talks last summer.

Ma’an also said that Israel would agree to a “quiet freeze” in settlement construction in the West Bank, although not in Jerusalem, which would hold until the end of this year.

Kerry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday morning for the second time in less than 12 hours, in an effort salvage the stalled peace talks.

Kerry broke into his travel schedule on Monday for a flying visit to Jerusalem and headed back to Europe again after his early morning discussions with Netanyahu.

A Palestinian official said Kerry might return to the region once more late Wednesday to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Their scheduled late-night meeting Monday was cancelled after the Netanyahu talks dragged on too late, US officials said, with Kerry instead meeting at his Jerusalem hotel with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The negotiations appeared on the brink of collapse at the weekend, when Israel chose not to press ahead with the promised release of the 26 Palestinian prisoners. Israel wanted assurances the Palestinians would not abandon the talks, when the initial deadline for an accord expires on April 29.

 

 

Source

 

LAND DAY IN PALESTINE ~~ THE ONGOING PROCESS

Israel continues to steal land from Palestinians and to displace them in every part of historic Palestine from the north, to the occupied West Bank, to the Naqab (Negev) in the south.

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What is Palestine’s Land Day?

Palestinians display a map of historic Palestine during a rally in the northern Gaza Strip to mark Land Day, on 30 March 2014. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

On this day in 1976, thousands of Palestinians marched in towns and villages across theGalilee region, in the north of present-day Israel, to protest Israel’s expropriation of vast tracts of land as part of its openly declared policy to “Judaize” the area at the expense of the indigenous population.

No Zionism without “evacuation” and “confiscation”

“Following the Zionist tenets, Israel has systematically and callously followed an intricate and continuous process of Arab land expropriation through the promulgation of new laws, the circumvention of existing laws, harassment and duplicity. Recognizing the naked truth, Y. Ben-Porat, a known ‘hawk’ wrote ‘One truth is that there is no Zionism, no settlement, no Jewish state without evacuation of the Arabs and confiscation and enclosure of their land,’” anthropologist Khalil Nakhleh wrote in The Journal of Palestine Studies in 1976.

Frustration and anger at Israel’s land theft from, and discrmination against, Palestinian citizens of Israel had been mounting for years.

Nakhleh adds: “To protest against the essence of this process and orders for new expropriations, the Arab population declared a general strike for 30 March 1976. In an effort to preempt the strike, army and border police, including armored units, were dispatched to the most affected Arab villages. Violent confrontations ensued, and left behind six Arabs killed, tens wounded and hundreds arrested. March 30 was commemorated as Yawm al-Ard or the Day of the Land.”

Israeli violence

“On that day, quiet demonstrations in the villages of Sakhnin, Arabeh and Dir Hanna were confronted by an aggressive police and army presence which later turned on them in violent confrontations,” historian Ilan Pappe writes in his book The Forgotten Palestinians.

Already, on 28 March, “the Minister of Police declared that his forces were ‘ready to break into the Arab villages’ – he used the Hebrew word ‘lifroz,’ which is usually employed to describe assaults on enemy lines and bases,” Pappe explains.

Pappe gives the names of those killed as Khayr Muhammad Yasin from Arabeh, Raja Hussein Abu Riya, Khader Abd Khalil and Khadija Juhayna from Sakhnin, Muhammad Yusuf Taha from Kafr Kana and Rafat Zuhairi from Nur Shams refugee camp, who was shot in Taybeh.

Turning point

The Day of the Land – or Land Day – marked a turning point as the first mass mobilization by Palestinians within Israel against internal colonialism and land theft.

Its commemoration is a reaffirmation that the Palestinians who remained in the areas on which Israel was declared in 1948 are an inseparable part of the Palestinian people and their struggle.

Land Day continues to resonate with Palestinians everywhere because it does not just mark a past historical event, but draws attention to Israel’s ongoing violent, settler-colonial process of “Judaization.”

Israel continues to steal land from Palestinians and to displace them in every part of historic Palestine from the north, to the occupied West Bank, to the Naqab (Negev) in the south.

Resources

To mark Land Day, The Journal of Palestine Studies has made available several articles from past issues, including Khalil Nakhleh’s, quoted above.

These articles recall the history of Land Day, how it was seen in the context of the Palestinian reality in its time and in the decades since.

Written FOR

REVISITING A POWERFUL POEM ~~ “A JEW TO ZIONIST FIGHTERS, 1988″


GI SPECIAL 6A14-3

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A Jew to Zionist Fighters, 1988

By Erich Fried



What do you actually want?
Do you really want to outdo
those who trod you down
a generation ago
into your own blood
and into your own excrement
Do you want to pass on the old torture
to others now
in all its bloody and dirty detail
with all the brutal delight of torturers
as suffered by your fathers?
Do you really want to be the new Gestapo
the new Wehrmacht
the new SA and SS
and turn the Palestinians
into the new Jews?
Well then I too want,
having fifty years ago
myself been tormented for being a Jewboy
by your tormentors,
to be a new Jew with these new Jews
you are making of the Palestinians
And I want to help lead them as a free people
into their own land of Palestine
from whence you have driven them or in which you plague them
you apprentices of the Swastika
you fools and changelings of history
whose Star of David on your flags
turns ever quicker
into that damned symbol with its four feet
that you just do not want to see
but whose path you are following today

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From 1952 to 1968 he worked as a political commentator for the BBC German Service. He translated works by ShakespeareT. S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas. In 1962 he returned to Vienna for the first time.

Born to Jewish parents Nelly and Hugo Fried in Vienna in 1920, he was a child actor and from an early age wrote strongly political essays and poetry. He fled to London after his father was murdered by the Gestapo after the Anschluss with Nazi Germany…  He arranged  for his mother to leave Nazi occupied Austria, as well as helping many other Jews to come to the UK. He joined Young Austria, a left-wing emigrant youth movement, but left in 1943 in protest at its growing Stalinist tendencies.

He published several volumes of poetry as well as radio plays and a novel. His work was sometimes controversial, including attacks on the Zionist movement and support for left-wing causes. ..The composer Hans Werner Henze set two of Fried’s poems for his song-cycle Voices (1973).

In 1982 Fried regained his Austrian nationality, retaining  the British nationality he had adopted in 1949. He died of intestinal cancer in Baden-BadenWest Germany, in 1988 and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

An Austrian literary prize is named after him  the Erich Fried Prize.

He married three times and had six children

 

WHY LAND DAY STILL MATTERS TO ‘A PEOPLE WITHOUT A LAND’

land-day-2011

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Why Land Day still matters

Today, with no resolution in sight to the historic injustices inflicted upon them, Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere use this day to remember and redouble their efforts for emancipation.

By Sam Bahour and Fida Jiryis

Every year since 1976, on March 30, Palestinians around the world have commemorated Land Day. Though it may sound like an environmental celebration, Land Day marks a bloody day in Israel when security forces gunned down six Palestinians as they protested Israeli expropriation of Arab-owned land in the country’s north to build Jewish-only settlements.

The Land Day victims were not Palestinians from the occupied territory but citizens of the state, a group that now numbers over 1.6 million people, or more than 20.5 percent of the population. They are inferior citizens in a state that defines itself as Jewish and democratic, but in reality is neither.

On that dreadful day 38 years ago, in response to Israel’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of acres of Palestinian land for “security and settlement purposes,” a general strike and marches were organized in Palestinian towns within Israel, from the Galilee to the Negev. The night before, in a last-ditch attempt to block the planned protests, the government imposed a curfew on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur’an, Tamra and Kabul, in the Western Galilee. The curfew failed; citizens took to the streets. Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those in the refugee communities across the Middle East, joined in solidarity demonstrations.

Palestinians from the Galilee town of Sakhnin commemorating Land Day, March 30, 2013. (Photo by: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, about 100 wounded and hundreds arrested. The day lives on, fresh in the Palestinian memory, since today, as in 1976, the conflict is not limited to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip but is ever-present in the country’s treatment of its own Palestinian Arab citizens.

The month following the killings, an internal government paper, written by senior Interior Ministry official Yisrael Koenig, was leaked to the press. The document, which became known as the Koenig Memorandum, offered recommendations intended to “ensure the [country’s] long-term Jewish national interests.” These included, “the possibility of diluting existing Arab population concentrations.”

Israel has been attempting to “dilute” its Palestinian population − both Muslims and Christians − ever since.

Thirty-eight years later, the situation is as dire as ever. Racism and discrimination, in their rawest forms, are rampant in Israel, and are often more insidious than physical violence. Legislation aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Israel is part of public discourse. Israeli ministers do not shy away from promoting “population transfers” of Palestinian citizens − code for forced displacement.

Israel’s adamant demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a “Jewish state” leaves them in a situation of having to inherently negate their own existence and accept the situation of inferiority in their own land. Recent efforts in the Knesset to link loyalty to citizenship threaten to target organizations and individuals who express dissent and even the revocation of citizenship, a practice unheard of in other countries.

Budgets for health and education allocated by the Israeli government to the Arab sector are, per capita, a fraction of those allocated to Jewish locales. Although hundreds of new Jewish towns and settlements have been approved and built since Israel’s creation, the state continues to prevent Arab towns and villages from expanding, suffocating their inhabitants and forcing new generations to leave in search of homes. Palestinians living in Israel are heavily discriminated against in employment and wages.

The message is clear: Israel has failed, abysmally, in realizing its oft-cried role as “the only democracy in the Middle East” with such discriminatory policies and a culture of antagonism and neglect vis-a-vis a fifth of its citizens. The original Land Day marked a pivotal point in terms of how Palestinians in Israel − living victims of Israel’s violent establishment − viewed their relations with the state. Today, with no resolution in sight to the historic injustices inflicted upon them, Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere use this day to remember and redouble their efforts for emancipation.

Memorial commemorating the deaths during the events of 1976. Annual Land Day commemoration in Sakhnin, March 30th, 2007. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The names of the six victims of Land Day are written on the front of a monument in the cemetery of Sakhnin, accompanied by the words: “They sacrificed themselves for us to live … thus, they are alive − The martyrs of the day of defending the land, 30 March 1976.” On the back of the monument are the names of the two sculptors who created it: one Arab, one Jewish. Maybe it is this joint recognition of the tragedy of Palestinians that is required in Israel to get us beyond the chasm of denial.

For our part, as second-generation Palestinians born and raised outside Palestine who have decided to return to live in this troubled land, we view Land Day as an ongoing wake-up call to Israeli Jews and Jewry worldwide to understand that land, freedom and equality are an inseparable package − the only one that can deliver a lasting peace to all involved.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian business consultant from the Palestinian city of El Bireh. He blogs at www.epalestine.com. Fida Jiryis is a Palestinian writer from the Arab village of Fassuta in the Galilee. Her website is www.fidajiryis.net. Sam and Fida were both born in the Diaspora and relocated to their family’s hometowns in Palestine and Israel, respectively.

 

 

Written FOR

LATUFF’S LATEST BDS SPOOF

 

Related Report

TURKEY GOING ALL THE WAY TO DESTROY FREEDOM

Image ‘CopyLeft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Turkey defends YouTube ban

After company refused to take down problematic recordings, Turkish FM defends move to block service, citing need to defend national security.

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Full AP Report HERE

 

TWO OF THE LATEST BDS VICTORIES

King’s College students union backs boycott of Israel

Students’ union votes to support BDS campaign against ‘Israeli products, companies or institution’ that ‘profit for the violation of Palestinian rights.’

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King's College, London.

The entrance gate of King’s College in London. Photo by Dreamstime
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The King’s College London Student Union (KCLSU) passed amotion on Tuesday night to back the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli products, companies and institutions “that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights.”

The motion, which passed by 348-252, says that a call for sanctions “is to ask the global community to recognise Israel’s violations of international law and to act accordingly as they do to other member states of the United Nations.”

The College’s Israel Society, comprising of “Jewish students and/or proud members of the wonderfully diverse King’s College London student community,” had earlier said it was “greatly disturbed by the thought that our university – let alone any university – dedicated to the pursuit of truth and knowledge, could be called on to ban cooperation with the universities and cultural groups of any other country.”

“We appreciate and admire the motion’s proposers desire to see a peaceful outcome to conflict in the Middle East,” they said, “but peace is not achieved by making Israel a pariah state – or destroying the Jewish state altogether.”

The King’s College London administration released a statement after the vote in which it distanced itself from the decision. “King’s College London does not support or engage in boycotts of academic institutions,” it said, adding the KCLSU is “constitutionally separate from, and independent of, King’s College London.”

Meanwhile, an Israel divestment resolution was narrowly passed a second time by the student government of Chicago’s Loyola University on Tuesday, while a similar resolution was defeated at the University of Michigan.

Source

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And the second victory ….

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Divestment wins again at Loyola, goes down fighting in Michigan

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