More than 70 American intellectuals called for a targeted boycott of all goods and services from Israeli West Bank settlements.

This picture taken on June 5, 2015 shows people walking past a sign painted on a wall in the town of Bethlehem in the south of the Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank on June 5, 2015, calling for a boycott of Israeli products coming from illegal settlements. (Photo by AFP)

This picture taken on June 5, 2015 shows people walking past a sign painted on a wall in the town of Bethlehem in the south of the Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank on June 5, 2015, calling for a boycott of Israeli products coming from illegal settlements. (Photo by AFP)

70 American Intellectuals Call for Boycott of Israeli Settlements

More than 70 American intellectuals called for a targeted boycott of all goods and services from Israeli West Bank settlements.

The boycott call, an open letter, was published in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books, which is dated Oct. 13.

Among the signers are Bernard Avishai, Peter Brooks, Peter Beinhart, Todd Gitlin and Martin Sherwin.

The letter said the signatories “oppose an economic, political, or cultural boycott of Israel itself as defined by its June 4, 1967, borders,” which they refer to as the “so-called Green Line.” This boundary, according to the letter writers, “should be the starting point for negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian parties on future boundaries between two states. To promote such negotiations, we call for a targeted boycott of all goods and services from all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, and any investments that promote the Occupation, until such time as a peace settlement is negotiated between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.”

The letter also calls on the U.S. government to remove Internal Revenue Service tax exemptions from West Bank entities and to exclude the settlements from Israeli trade benefits.


 U.S. Donors Gave Settlements More Than $220 Million in Tax-exempt Funds Over Five Years

U.S. Donors Gave Settlements More Than $220 Million in Tax-exempt Funds Over Five Years

T’ruah’s new campaign asks the Jewish National Fund to be fully transparent about where American Jewish donations are being spent, and to stop using these donations on projects in the settlements.

“People who are putting their dollar bills in a JNF (box), or writing a check to buy a tree, might want to know that instead of buying a tree in Israel … that their money might be going to developments in the settlements which block peace,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s executive director.

Jewish National Fund Gives $530K From American Donors to West Bank Settlement

The Jewish National Fund’s American fundraising arm gave $530,000 to a visitor’s center in a West Bank settlement, according to a new disclosure by the JNF, which has been under pressure from the left-wing rabbis’ group T’ruah to list its donations to the West Bank.

The $530,000 grant to a museum and visitor’s center in Kfar Etzion is the only West Bank project listed in the new disclosures. While JNF’s American arm has long acknowledged funding the center, the size of the grant has not before been publicly available.

T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights group, has for years campaigned to demand details from the JNF on funds it sends to the West Bank, creating a a series of web videos and a write-in campaign demanding a full accounting of JNF spending.

“People who are putting their dollar bills in a JNF (box), or writing a check to buy a tree, might want to know that instead of buying a tree in Israel … that their money might be going to developments in the settlements which block peace,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s executive director.

JNF has said in the past that it makes grants to the occupied West Bank. But since 2008, American charities have not been required to reveal the recipients of their overseas grants, and in recent years the JNF’s public tax returns have not spelled out how its money is spent in Israel.

The charity behind the iconic blue donation boxes that litter Hebrew schools and synagogues across the United States, the JNF in Israel played a key role in the creation of the Jewish state, and still owns a large share of all Israeli land. The American fundraising arm’s reputation as a centrist Israel development charity, however, has taken a hit in recent years, amid attention to the Israeli organization’s role in the displacement of unrecognized Bedioun villages, and questions about its involvement with the West Bank settlement project.

T’ruah’s campaign has sought to quantify how much of the American fundraising arm’s money has gone to West Bank settlements.

Now, in recently-released tax returns for the fiscal year ending last September, the American group has listed the recipients of nearly all of the $29.7 million in grants that group sent to Israel that year.

Nothing in the new documents appears to directly contradict the JNF’s earlier accounting of its West Bank activities. Aside from the grant to the visitor’s center, called the Gush Etzion Foundation, no other projects listed explicitly and directly benefit West Bank settlements.

In a press statement, T’ruah raised questions about $290,000 attributed in JNF’s the tax documents to “general afforestation,” noting that the group doesn’t say whether those trees were planted in Israel or in the West Bank.

T’ruah also pointed to $250,000 that went to a group called Face of Israel, which doesn’t have a functioning website. And T’ruah noted that JNF reported giving $33,000 to a U.S.-based group called Friends of Ir David, which funds the Israeli organization Elad, which is engaged in settlement activity in East Jerusalem.

A spokesman for JNF did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a JNF spokesman said that the organization “will not be intimidated by those who claim to have a higher moral authority while dismissing and belittling the good work that U.S. Jewry performs for the land and people of Israel.”


Even worse than it was before ….

78% of Israeli Jews favor extending Israeli sovereignty over Maale Adumim. Land of Israel Lobby to propose annexation bill this summer.


Israel to annex Maale Adumim?

A whopping 78% of Israeli Jews say they support the annexation of Maale Adumim even without a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority, along the same lines as Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.

The vast majority of respondents favored annexation even if Israel would be pay a steep political cost for the move, with 70% of Israeli Jews saying sovereignty should be applied to Maale Adumim regardless of the consequences.

The poll also found that 88% of Israeli Jews believe that residents of Maale Adumim deserve the same rights and benefits enjoyed by other citizens of the State of Israel, and therefore Israeli law should be fully applied to the area.

The Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset, which includes 20 MKs from various right-wing and religious parties, has pledged to draw up a bill for the annexation of Maale Adumim during the upcoming summer session.

“The consensus view in the public is that Maale Adumim is an inseparable part of Israel,” a statement by the Land of Israel Lobby said, “and it has even become part of the political consensus from right to left, and it is clear that Maale Adumim will remain under Israeli control in any future status arrangement. The Land of Israel Lobby will work within the new coalition framework to advance legislation extending Israeli sovereignty over Maale Adumim.”

Lobby chairman Yoav Kish (Likud) said there were precedents for the move, citing Israel’s 1967 annexation of eastern Jerusalem and 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.

“Just as the State of Israel did in the past in Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights, we must do so also today – the idea of applying sovereignty over Maale Adumim enjoys overwhelming support among the Israeli public that crosses party lines. We will work to realize the public’s will.”




Image by Carlos Latuff

Haaretz reports that Goldman Sachs has a "clear pattern" of giving to Israeli settler and rightwing groups through their Charitable Gift Fund. And Hillary Clinton hasn't criticized the banking firm that helped propel the 2007 collapse.

Haaretz reports that Goldman Sachs has a “clear pattern” of giving to Israeli settler and rightwing groups through their Charitable Gift Fund. And Hillary Clinton hasn’t criticized the banking firm that helped propel the 2007 collapse.

Goldman Sachs is funding Hebron settlers

Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins FOR

For years American taxpayers have been bankrolling Jewish-only illegal settlements in the West Bank with hundreds of millions of dollars funneled through tax-exempt non-profit organizations (we’ve covered the issue on Mondoweiss since 2009). One of the organizations which is a frequent recipient of these donations is the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund which supports Hebron’s settler community.

Haaretz reports that Goldman Sachs has a “clear pattern” of giving to Israeli rightwing groups through their Charitable Gift Fund, including the notorious Jewish zealots in Hebron. 

From the article “Why Is Goldman Sachs Funding the Violent, Racist Jewish Settlers of Hebron?“:

So why did Goldman Sachs Charitable Gift Fund, a foundation connected to the world’s most powerful investment bank and run by Goldman Sachs’ top executives, donate $18,000 to the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund that bankrolls this humanitarian nightmare?

On their IRS tax records, Goldman Sachs Charitable Gift Fund declared the purpose of the gift was “International Humanitarian Program” to needy Hebron families. With revenues of $2,250,000 the Hebron Fund can deliver from hunger quite a few of the 700 Jewish settlers of the city.

Grants to the Hebron Fund are not an isolated occurrence. There is a clear pattern in the Fund’s giving to Israel rightwing groups or their American fronts. In 2012-2013 they gave $708,000 to the American-Israel Education Foundation, AIPAC’s educational arm; $15,000 to the American Jewish International Relations Institute, a right wing organization which “monitors, tracks, and combats anti-Israel voting patterns at the United Nations”; and $6,100 to the American Friends of the Likud Party.

Though the case of granting money to the Jewish community of Hebron is particularly striking, we should see the funding of the Hebron settlement as only one example in the context of hundreds of millions of dollars backing the full range of West Bank settlements.

Of course, Hebron settlers aren’t the only ones experiencing Goldman largesse. Bernie Sanders has made an issue of the $675,000 Clinton received in speaking fees from the investment house just in 2013. And no wonder. Simon Head writes at the New York Review of Books that the connection raises important questions about potential corruption:

These long-running ties with Goldman have paid off for the Clintons. According to a July 2014 analysis in the Wall Street Journal, from 1992 to the present Goldman has been the Clintons’ number one Wall Street contributor, based on speaking fees, charitable donations, and campaign contributions, the three pillars of what I’ve called the Clinton System. As early as 2000, Goldman was the second most generous funder—after Citigroup—of Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, with a contribution of $711,000. In the early 2000s, Bill Clinton was also a Goldman beneficiary, receiving $650,000 from Goldman for four speeches delivered between December 2004 and June 2005. (The transcripts of these speeches do not appear to be currently available.)

By the winter of 2006–2007, however, Goldman and its CEO Lloyd Blankfein were becoming deeply involved in the collapsing housing bubble—and engaging in the practices that have since resulted in years of investigations and lawsuits….

As long as Clinton refuses to reveal the content of her Goldman speeches, the suspicion will remain that she has cast a blind eye on Goldman’s dark years and that her campaign pledge to “rein in Wall Street” cannot be taken seriously.


The consequences of Israeli occupation and anti-Palestinian discrimination for Israel’s economy are now coming faster than ever.

In this Nov. 22, 2010, photo, Palestinian women collect scrap timber in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone near the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim. Palestinian advocates contend that multinational companies will need to face "clear legal and moral liabilities" for operating in Israeli settlements. (Associated Press)

In this Nov. 22, 2010, photo, Palestinian women collect scrap timber in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone near the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim. Palestinian advocates contend that multinational companies will need to face “clear legal and moral liabilities” for operating in Israeli settlements. (Associated Press)

Israel ‘feeling heat’ over settlement businesses: Sam Bahour and Edward E. Thompson (Opinion)

The consequences of Israeli occupation and anti-Palestinian discrimination for Israel’s economy are now coming faster than ever. Like so many previous military occupations, Israel is starting to feel the heat of the international community. However, this heat is not of the political kind that Israel has become accustomed to deflecting, but rather the economic kind that has a mystical way of invoking action from the political echelon. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope the message is arriving loud and clear: It’s time for Israel to end its nearly 50-year occupation and allow Palestinians to live in freedom in an independent state.

The latest thoughtful criticism of Israel’s actions is a 162-page report titled “Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights.” Issued by the reputable, international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), the report documents how settlement businesses facilitate the growth and operations of Israel’s settlement enterprise, an enterprise deemed illegal by every country in the world, except Israel. These settlement businesses depend on and contribute to the Israeli authorities’ unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources.

Human Rights Watch’s director of the Business and Human Rights Division, Arvind Ganesan, noted that “Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources. The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with and in Israeli settlements.”
Speaking of the stone and marble industry, Ganesan said, “Every dollar of stone that settlement businesses extract and sell from the West Bank is a dollar taken from Palestinians. The bottom line is no settlement business should be operating and profiting from land and resources illegally taken from the Palestinian people.”

In light of the clear illegality of doing business with Israeli settlements, multinational companies will need to face clear legal and moral liabilities in continuing to do business as usual. However, for those firms that have been operating in the settlements, there is another option they can pursue to compensate for their past wrongdoings; they can redirect their business investments to the Palestinian economy and become a constructive element in helping Palestinians recover from the real economic damage caused by nearly half a century of military occupation.

Making such investment and business options materialize is exactly why we co-founded Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy (AVPE) as a tax-deductible organization based in Chicago, Illinois. As two Americans, one a retired Chicagoan and the other a Palestinian American from Youngstown, Ohio now based in Ramallah, we have witnessed firsthand the damage on the ground caused by Israel’s deliberate battering of Palestine’s economy. But we also have visited Palestinians’ firms, those keeping their businesses’ doors open despite all odds, and want to connect them to the U.S. market. After a year of operations, AVPE documented serious interest from Palestinian businesspersons interested in linking to American business partners.

Large-scale projects that global firms can surely relate to are taking shape. The first planned Palestinian city, Rawabi, is now witnessing its first tenants taking up residence and offers international high-tech firms the opportunity to locate their operations in the new Rawabi Tech Hub. From Dead Sea products that compete head on with similar products produced in illegal Israeli settlements to olive oil soap and Bethlehem greeting cards, Palestinians have products and services worthy of note.

This new HRW report is actually the second vital criticism that calls into question business as usual for Israel. The first was issued by the European Council on Foreign Relations and titled EU Differentiation and Israeli settlements (July 22, 2015). In this past report, Israeli banks, among other businesses, were a main target, given most have branches in settlements. The Israeli business community took note. With this new HRW report, they will take note again, and all indications are that the reports and actions against illegal business practices will continue until occupation comes to an end.

The World Bank estimated in 2013 that Israeli restrictions in Area C (the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control) cost the Palestinian economy $3.4 billion annually, approximately equal to 33 percent of Palestine’s GDP. Settlement businesses contribute to and benefit from unlawful and discriminatory policies that leave many Palestinians with no alternative but to work in Israel or settlements. As multinationals divest from illegal settlements, redirected economic activity can be a key component to further advance the Palestinian economy, while putting more Palestinians in jobs and giving them hope for a day when they will live in freedom and occupation-free.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian American businessman originally from Youngstown now living in Ramallah, where he is managing partner at Applied Information Management. He is a policy adviser at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network and chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy. Edward E. Thompson, a retired consulting psychologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, is the co-founder and president of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy.


Originally found AT



For the finest in settlement living try Airbnb Judea and Samaria

Image by Katie Miranda



Airbnb told to cease profiting from Israel’s war crimes

Airbnb, the popular travel website, is the target of a new campaign against its listings of accommodation in the settlements built by Israel in the occupied West Bank.

Five organizations launched a campaign called Stolen Homes on Wednesday calling on Airbnb “to immediately stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements, all of which were built on stolen Palestinian land and deemed illegal under international law.”

A petition notes that “through earning fees from settlement vacation rentals, Airbnb is directly profiting from the continuing occupation and dispossession of Palestinians.”

The petition is supported by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, American Muslims for Palestine,Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Palestinian Community Network and Codepink.

Earlier this month, +972 Magazine reported that not only does Airbnb list accommodation in Israeli settlements, but that without exception the listings do no mention that they are located on occupied land.

Settlement profiteering

The issue has since been covered in the Israeli and international media.

The California-based Airbnb has declined to comment, apart from releasing a short statement which read: “We follow laws and regulations on where we can do business and investigate concerns raised about specific listings.”

The Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) has denounced Airbnb. Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BNC, said recently that “Airbnb can and should immediately exclude all Israeli settlements from its offerings as a significant first step towards complying with its human rights obligations under international law.”

Also this week, Human Rights Watch released a report calling on international businesses to cease all cooperation with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Airbnb earns a 3 percent fee from its hosts and a further fee — usually 6-12 percent — from guests. So the company profits every time someone makes a reservation using its settlement listings.

Human Rights Watch this week argued that companies cannot mitigate their contribution to Israel’s human rights violations so long as they operate in settlements. It stated that companies must cease working with the settlements in order to honor their human rights obligations.

Sensitive to bad publicity?

As it promotes the concept of “community-driven hospitality,” Airbnb may be sensitive to publicity that harms the company’s reputation.

The company depicts itself as environmentally friendly and has claimed to care about people in need bylaunching a “disaster response initiative.”

The wider campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions has persuaded a number of firms to cease their activities in Israel and the occupied West Bank lately.

As Barghouti told Al Jazeera, “much larger corporations — of the caliber of Orange, Veolia and CRH — have been eventually compelled by BDS campaigning to end their complicity in Israel’s human rights violations after losing massive contracts.”

Airbnb is likely to come under a great deal of pressure until it ceases trying to profit from Israel’s illegal activities.

*Ryan Rodrick Beiler is a freelance photojournalist and member of the ActiveStills collective who lives in Oslo, Norway.

The Stolen Homes campaign is calling on Airbnb to stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler /ActiveStills)

The Stolen Homes campaign is calling on Airbnb to stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler /ActiveStills)


Image by Carlos Latuff

 Netanyahu responds to Ban Ki-moon’s criticism of the Israeli occupation

Netanyahu responds to Ban Ki-moon’s criticism of the Israeli occupation



Related FROM

Update: UN’s Ban Rejects Netanyahu’s Criticism: Count on Me to Speak Up

The United Nations says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stands by every word of his criticism of Israeli settlement-building this week and rejects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment that the remarks justify terrorism….

Ban spoke out again Wednesday, telling a General Assembly committee that the Palestinians “watch as Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, expand and expand.”

The UN chief, who is in the final year of his term, also said that “you can count on me to speak up” to help achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t like U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speech to the Security Council criticizing the Israeli occupation on Tuesday.

From the Times of Israel article “Furious Netanyahu slams Ban Ki-moon for ‘stoking’ Palestinian terrorism“:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday accused the United Nations chief of “stoking terror” after Ban Ki-moon said, in connection with the wave of Palestinian deadly terror attacks, that it was “human nature to react to occupation.”

“There is no justification for terrorism,” Netanyahu said. “The Palestinian terrorists don’t want to build a state; they want to destroy a state, and they say that proudly. They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don’t murder for peace and they don’t murder for human rights.”

The UN has “lost its neutrality and its moral force, and these statements by the Secretary-General do nothing to improve its situation,” Netanyahu said in a furious video statement. Ban’s remarks, said Netanyahu, “stoke terror.”


Israel destroys homes for Bedouins, builds homes for Jews 

Image by Carlos Latuff


Israel confirmed on Thursday it was planning to appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the occupied West Bank, close to Jordan, a move likely to exacerbate tensions with Western allies and already drawing international condemnation.

The appropriation, covers 154 hectares (380 acres) in the Jordan Valley close to Jericho, an area where Israel already has many settlement farms built on land Palestinians seek for a state. It is the largest land seizure since August 2014.

“Israel is stealing land specially in the Jordan Valley under the pretext it wants to annex it,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Reuters. “This should be a reason for a real and effective intervention by the international community to end such a flagrant and grave aggression which kills all chances of peace.”

The United States, whose ambassador angered Israel this week with criticism of its West Bank policy, said it was strongly opposed to any moves that accelerate settlement expansion.

“We believe they’re fundamentally incompatible with a two-state solution and call into question, frankly, the Israeli government’s commitment to a two-state solution,” Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Wednesday.

In a development likely to further upset Europe, Israeli forces demolished six structures in the West Bank funded by the EU’s humanitarian arm. The structures were dwellings and latrines for Bedouins living in an area known as E1 – a particularly sensitive zone between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

“This is the third time they demolished my house and every time I rebuilt it, this time also I will rebuild it and I am not leaving here. If we leave they will turn the place into a closed military zone,” said Saleem Jahaleen, whose home was razed.


Stay tuned to #StopNora’sEviction for updates

Sign petition to stop eviction HERE

This short video highlights the struggle of Nora Sub Laban and her family to stay in their home in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Israel plans to evict them as soon as 14 December from the house they’ve lived in since 1953, so it can be taken over by a group of Jewish settlers whose aim is to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.

Three generations face imminent expulsion from Jerusalem home

The family has already faced two attempts this year by Israeli occupation forces and settlers to remove them from their home, which is steps from Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque.

“The simple fact is that our house in particular is being targeted because it is the last Palestinian household left in the building and the neighborhood. If we are evicted, Ateret Cohanim will have a huge property [in the Muslim quarter] that is only inhabited by Israeli settlers,” Nora’s son Rafat Sub Laban told The Electronic Intifada in March, referring to one of the settler groups that is spearheading the takeover.

“This case sits within a context where hundreds of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are at risk of forced displacement due to settler activities” in Jerusalem, the United Nations special rapporteurs on the right to housing and the human rights of Palestinians wrote last April.

Unsurprisingly, Israel’s legal system, rigged to favor the settlers, has failed to protect the family’s tenure in the house.

The video was released by the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) as part of the #StopNorasEviction campaign.

Almost 32,000 people have signed a petition calling on international agencies to pressure Israel to halt the eviction.

That may be the only hope, but time is running out.

“I’ve lived through my life watching my neighbors and family being slowly pushed out of the city,” Nora says in the video.

Now she and two generations of her family, including young children, face expulsion as well.

IMEU is asking people to stay tuned to the hashtag #StopNorasEviction and to its Twitter and Facebook accounts for more on its campaign to draw attention to the imminent eviction of the Sub Laban family.


During his meeting with Netanyahu in West Jerusalem, Kerry, probably out of naivety, asked the Israeli premier if there was still any possibility Israel could temporarily freeze the unrelenting settlement expansion in the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s reply came soon. “No, there will be no settlement freeze.”!!

Kerry’s half-hearted visit, another exercise in futility

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

The latest visit to Israel-occupied Palestine by US Secretary of State John Kerry this week is a clear-cut exercise in futility.

It is also inconceivable that Kerry himself had not realized the futility of his visit, even before it began.

I really feel sorry for the American tax-payers who get robbed by an administration whose policy in the Middle East is based on cheating the American people as well as pandering to a criminal racist state, 10,000 kilometers away, a state that teaches its people that non-Jews are virtual animals, created by God for a sole reason, namely in order to serve the Jews.

While in West Jerusalem, Kerry babbled the few usual platitudes which he and other American officials babble in such circumstances.

He called on both Israel and the Palestinians “the criminal and the victim” to exercise self-restraint. He also reiterated his country’s commitment to Israel’s security.

However, during his meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Kerry made no such commitment, as if only Israel, a nuclear power which also is in tight control of US domestic politics, deserved and needed security.

Kerry renewed his support for the two-state solution, giving the impression that such a solution was still possible or feasible, especially in light of the cancerous growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Needless to say, all meaningful observers now agree that this expansion of Jewish colonies has killed any realistic prospects for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

I don’t know why Kerry is still insisting on regurgitating this stale lie every time he comes to the region. Do his advisors not tell him that the two-state solution is dead?

Or Does he invoke the lie deliberately and knowingly in order to boost the morale of  the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and Sa’eb Ereikat in order  to  keep their futile day- dream alive, even if that dream is no better than chasing the mirage of  the desert?

I don’t know why Palestinian and Arab leaders continue to view Kerry and his boss in Washington as capable of recovering Palestinian rights from Israel’s criminal hands. Are these so-called leaders idiots or imbeciles? Haven’t they learnt from more than 60 years of experience with US policy in the region? Haven’t they internalized Walid Khalid’s iconic remark that “America is the ultimate tormentor of the Palestinian people?”

Indeed, if successive and more powerful administrations from Nixon’s to Bush’s couldn’t convince Israel to keep the purported two-state solution alive, is it logical to expect this impotent administration to do it?

After all, Obama has been standing silent, watching Bashar Assad murder nearly half a million of his own people rather passively, pretending that the slow-motion holocaust was occurring on a distant planet.

Similarly, the Obama administration is the same administration that has been watching Israel decapitate whatever chances there may have been for the establishment of a true Palestinian state.

In fact, the Obama administration, far from punishing Israel for its aggressive anti-peace policies, rewarded the criminal entity by providing it with the latest and most advanced aircraft in the American arsenal.

During his meeting with Netanyahu in West Jerusalem, Kerry, probably out of naivety, asked the Israeli premier if there was still any possibility Israel could temporarily freeze the unrelenting settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Netanyahu’s reply came soon. “No, there will be no settlement freeze.”!!

I don’t know if Kerry felt he had to apologize for having had the audacity to ask the question in the first place. He must have felt his utter insignificance vis-à-vis Netanyahu whose behaviors vis-à-vis Washington often gives the impression that the US is actually Israel’s vessel state.

But this is an old story which was explained in meticulous details by the late American Jewish author and intellectual Alfred Lilienthal in his book of the century, the Zionist Connection.

In fact, I invoked this story in order to remind a new generation of Palestinian leaders that things pertaining to the US, Israel and the Palestinian issue have effectively remained unchanged.

Israel remains the proverbial organ grinder and the US remains the proverbial monkey. (The adage goes “why speak to the monkey when you can speak to the organ grinder.”)

And, as we all know, the Palestinians remain the proverbial day-dreamer who cry out for justice, thinking that the two devils will eventually come to their senses and internalize the language of justice.

But they will not.


Is Israel denying that it is an occupying power? Is Israel denying that there are illegal Jewish settlements on lands stolen from Palestinians?

Is the continual cry of anti Semitism their only defense regarding the EU’s labeling of products made in these settlements?

Labeling of these products is NOT an endorsement of the BDS Movement, so what is it that Israel is really trying to hide?

 Jewish American activists unfurl banner in support of BDS at the Western Wall (Photo from Mondoweiss)

Jewish American activists unfurl banner in support of BDS at the Western Wall
(Photo from Mondoweiss)

The EU does not recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s presence in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. As such, goods from there cannot be labelled “Made in Israel” and should be labelled as coming from settlements, which the EU considers illegal under international law.

EU Commission approves settlement product labeling

Products coming from Israeli factories in the West Bank, East Jerusalem. Gaza, and the Golan Heights will be labeled as ‘settlement products’; Foreign Ministry summons EU ambassador to receive reprimand.

Full report HERE


This is not the first time in history that products from occupied territories were labeled as such …. how quickly the world forgets …

The "Made in Occupied Japan" mark is seen on a postwar Japanese export.

The “Made in Occupied Japan” mark is seen on a postwar Japanese export.

On February 20, 1947 the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Japan issued the instruction SCAPIN 1535, stating that all export items must be identified with an engraving “Made in Occupied Japan”. This decree was repealed on December 5, 1949 through SCAPIN 2061. Many camera manufacturers continued to use the “Made in Occupied Japan” markings until 1951, even though they could have substituted it with “Made in Japan”. The latter became standard once the U.S. occupation of Japan formally ended in 1952. FROM

(As will the EU’s labeling of Israeli settlement products)

It’s as simple as that!


After a BDS attempt to ban Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu from the Rototom Sunsplash festival, it has become known that media mogul Oprah Winfrey also turned away a BDS request earlier this month.

Executives at the Oprah Winfrey magazine refused to receive activists who wanted her to reject Israeli diamonds.
The star had worn Leviev diamonds on the cover of O magazine’s May issue, the 15th anniversary edition. But the BDSniks smear Leviev with charges of stealing Palestinian land and committing human-rights abuses in Angola.

The star had worn Leviev diamonds on the cover of O magazine’s May issue, the 15th anniversary edition.


Denying the Israel-basher — kudos to Oprah and other principled stars

For years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has worked to make Israel an international pariah. Happily, it’s started seeing some serious pushback.

In Spain, Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu did indeed perform Saturday at the Rototom Sunsplash festival. The organizers re-invited him after they’d canceled — a disinvitation pushed by the BDS crew, which had insisted he endorse Palestinian statehood.

An international uproar forced the festival’s hand — after all, organizers (and BDSers) hadn’t insisted on a litmus test for any non-Jewish performers.

No less than Oprah Winfrey stood up to the thugs, too. A BDS “delegation” showed up at her magazine’s New York offices this month, carrying a letter urging Oprah to publicly reject Israeli jeweler Lev Leviev’s products.

The star had worn Leviev diamonds on the cover of O magazine’s May issue, the 15th anniversary edition. But the BDSniks smear Leviev with charges of stealing Palestinian land and committing human-rights abuses in Angola.

Neither Oprah nor her executives would even meet with the agitators. They even refused to accept the letter.

In October, New Jersey’s second-favorite native sons, Bon Jovi, will end their current tour in Tel Aviv — rejecting BDS pressure to cancel the concerts after the dates were announced in the spring.

Support for Israel even popped up in Paris this month. Mayor Anne Hidalgo dedicated an artificial beach to Tel Aviv — despite intense opposition from the BDS movement and its sympathizers in the French media.

Across the globe, too many in media, the arts and politics are happy to go with the flow and pile on Israel. It’s refreshing to see stars — especially American ones — standing up to the bullies by taking truly principled stands.

Bottom line is ….. BOYCOTT OPRAH!

Her Magazine

Her Cable Network

Show her that blood diamonds are NOT a ‘girls best friend!!

Photo © by Bud Korotzer

Photo © by Bud Korotzer


Photo © by Bud Korotzer

Photo © by Bud Korotzer


First, a look at an older post from the archives ….


How global real estate giant RE/MAX profits from stolen Palestinian land

Agents working for the US-headquartered real estate giant RE/MAX are promoting themselves as specialists in property built in Israel’s settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

The Colorado-based corporation which says it operates in nearly 100 countries was identified as responsible by a 2013 United Nations’ probe for how its Israeli franchises sell houses and apartments in the occupied West Bank.

Despite that criticism, many RE/MAX representatives are continuing to handle such property.

Shlomo Benzaquen, a RE/MAX agent, states on a website run by the company that his “area of expertise” includes a number of Israeli settlements.

He particularly recommends Kokhav Yaakov, Tel Zion and Adam (also known as Geva Binyamin) as “communities” which “offer tremendous value to young families and investors looking for high returns.”

In fact, all of these “communities” are Israeli settlements inside the West Bank and are illegal under international law. Their construction and growth violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying power from transferring its civilian population into a territory that it occupies.

The Electronic Intifada contacted Benzaquen by telephone, asking him why he is selling property built on illegally occupied land in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank.

“I don’t know what illegally occupied is,” he said. “I deal with Jerusalem. I’m not sure what you mean by East Jerusalem.”

Asked if he was familiar with the Fourth Geneva Convention, Benzaquen replied “I’m not getting into politics” before hanging up.

His colleague Hillel Weinschneider, meanwhile, says on a RE/MAX website that his “area of expertise” is Ramat Eshkol and Givat Hamivtar.

Both of those settlements are in occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel claims to have annexed in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

High prices

Scores of properties in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are currently listed as for sale on RE/MAX websites.

Some of them are on the market for high prices. RE/MAX is trying to sell a three-bedroom house in Jerusalem’s Old City for $1.7 million. According to RE/MAX, the house was “built over 600 years ago by the Turks.”

A video for the same property posted to YouTube by Benzaquen, states that the “light train is just nearby.” That is a reference to a tram network which connects Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem to other parts of the city.

The French corporation Veolia has faced years of criticism and activist campaigns for its large-scale involvement in building the Jerusalem light rail, which Palestinians see as a means of tightening Israel’s grip on their city.

RE/MAX’s Colorado headquarters did not reply to requests for comment.


The firm has generally kept silent when its activities have been highlighted by Palestine solidarity activists. It did, however, issue a terse statement last year.

The statement tried to distance the firm’s headquarters from its Israeli franchise and noted that RE/MAX had reduced the number of its offices in the West Bank.

It failed to acknowledge that many of the agents handling property in East Jerusalem and the wider West Bank are working from offices in West Jerusalem.

But the company seems to be sensitive to activist criticism that it is involved in selling homes in illegal settlements within the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Searches on the RE/MAX Israel website suggest the company may be engaging in deliberate obfuscation of its West Bank settlement listings.

An interactive map of present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank displays red dots showing where RE/MAX-marketed properties are located. This map conveys the impression that it does little or no business in the West Bank.


However, if one searches for the names of individual West Bank settlements, the true story becomes clear.

For instance, a search for “Ariel” results in a listing of 12 properties in that settlement in the northern occupied West Bank near Nablus. However, switch through to the “map view” of the same search result, and the red dots over Ariel have been removed.




Similar obfuscation is evident while searching for properties in the settlements of Maaleh Adumim, Gilo and French Hill.

The map is a key online marketing tool for RE/MAX Israel. Those who search for a property handled by RE/MAX Israel are immediately taken to this map.

RE/MAX still has agents based in Maaleh Adumim, one of Israel’s largest settlements in the West Bank.

The anti-war group Codepink has set up a campaign targeting RE/MAX over its property sales in Israeli settlements.

Jodie Evans, a founder of Codepink, argued that it was dishonest for RE/MAX to claim that its Israeli franchise was unconnected to the Colorado headquarters.

Bernard Raskin, director of RE/MAX Israel, attended the parent company’s annual convention in Las Vegasduring March.

Raskin was faced by protesters but he “was not backing down and stood his ground the entire time we were in Vegas,” said Evans.

“We can also say they lied in trying to distance themselves, because he had a huge presence and major influence in Vegas,” Evans added. “He was bossing the hotel security around.”

Additional reporting by David Cronin.



The city would cover 14,000 dunams (3,500 acres) of the Jerusalem Hills, encompassing the existing small towns of Tsur Hadassah and Mevo Beitar with 20,000 new housing units, just inside the Green Line dividing “Israel proper” from the West Bank.

Planners eye Jerusalem Hills as site for new city of 100,000

Israel Lands Authority plans town to be called Bat Harim, but Jerusalem municipality, greens aim to stop it.

By Nimrod Bousso IN
A construction site in Tsur Hadassah. Photo by Eyal Toueg

A construction site in Tsur Hadassah. Photo by Eyal Toueg

Jerusalem could be getting a giant satellite city in what is today verdant, rolling countryside.

The city would cover 14,000 dunams (3,500 acres) of the Jerusalem Hills, encompassing the existing small towns of Tsur Hadassah and Mevo Beitar with 20,000 new housing units, just inside the Green Line dividing “Israel proper” from the West Bank.

Plans for the proposed city of Bat Harim, which could one day be home to 100,000 people, are due to get their first hearing at a meeting of the Israel Lands Authority Council on Sunday.

But long before the first ground is broken, opposition to the planned city has already been quietly coalescing. The ILA and the Interior Ministry’s Planning Administration favor the idea, but the Jerusalem municipality, which is supposed to take over the area, is opposed.

The area is now under the jurisdiction of Yehuda Regional Council, but plans call for putting the area under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem, even though the capital lies two kilometers northeast of the region.

The area’s existing residents are fighting the idea as well. The Yehuda Regional Council, which would lose control of the area, is leading the battle, backed by residents of Tsur Hadassah and Mevo Beitar, who are loathe to give up their quiet small-town life for decades of construction and urban sprawl.

As it is, even while plans for Bat Harim are just getting started, plans have been approved to build 2,500 homes in Tsur Hadassah, which would double its population and turn the Jerusalem suburb into a small city in its own right.

Plans for about 1,000 of those units were presented a few months ago to a special committee created to speed building approvals to alleviating Israel’s housing crunch. There are also plans for 1,400 homes in Mevo Beitar.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who apparently has not been party to the plans, made known his opposition in a letter to Interior Minister Gilad Erdan and the director general of the ministry, Shuki Amrani, a month ago.

“I was disappointed and surprised to discover in recent months that the Finance Ministry, Housing Ministry, ILA and National Planning and Building Council have been advancing … in an aggressive way – irresponsibly and without coordinating with the Jerusalem municipality – a massive building program in the environs of Jerusalem and its metropolitan area,” he wrote, referring for Bat Harim.

Barkat said that after a slowdown last year in housing starts in Jerusalem, the pace had been recovering and there was no reason for officials to be looking for places outside the city to start massive building projects.

Barkat expressed concern that Bat Harim would destroy the green belt that now surrounds most of Jerusalem and undermine his efforts to keep people from leaving the city because of the high cost of housing and lack of jobs.

“We are talking about erecting a new neighborhood [Bat Harim] that would attract quality population away from Jerusalem and undermine our efforts to strengthen neighborhoods,” he said. “It’s unacceptable that outside forces that don’t understand the national strategy for Israel’s capital are operating over the head of Jerusalem’s mayor.”

In fact, an earlier plan for a new city back in 1999 was ultimately rejected in favor of increasing population density in Jerusalem. A city spokesman said Barket had not yet decided what he would do next to block Bat Harim.

The Interior Ministry had not responded by press time to the report of Barkat’s letter. But the ILA, Environmental Protection Ministry and the Society for the Protecting of Nature in Israel are attacking the plans as an unnecessary assault on open countryside, even as there is plenty of undeveloped land inside Jerusalem still available for development.

The SPNI, which estimates that Jerusalem still has land available to build 100,000 housing units, launched a campaign in February to stop the plans and is organizing a rally outside ILA Council meeting on Sunday.

“Expanding Jerusalem westward by developing an area unconnected geographically from the city will require huge infrastructure investment,” David Leffler, the Environmental Protection Ministry’s director general, said in a letter to Erdan and Amrani last week, calling on them to abandon the plan entirely.

For its part, the ILA says it has little choice but to open up new areas for development to meet the area’s housing needs. It estimates that the Jerusalem area needs 2,500 new homes to be built every year, or 50,000 over the next two decades.

“The solution is the p’nui u’vinui program [enlarging existing buildings] and urban renewal, and also through new cities,” the ILA said in a statement to TheMarker, saying the area slotted for Bat Harim is one of “relatively low environmental sensitivity.”

Despite the opposition, the ILA in October budgeted 1 million shekels ($250,000) for initial planning for Bat Harim by an outside architectural firm. Its proposals will be presented at Sunday’s meeting.

The SPNI contends that the entire process violates the law, noting that planning authorities have in the recent past rejected any attempt to develop the area. The decision to build a new city can only be made by the government, it contends.

“We are amazed that such an ambitious and significant planning undertaking can get underway solely because of an internal decision taken by the ILA,” said SPNI’s attorney Tal Tsafrir.



Let’s see how Bibi explains this to Congress …

Israeli authorities on Sunday ordered 83-year-old Palestinian grandfather Ayyub Shamasnah and his family to voluntarily evacuate their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah before next Sunday in compliance with a final supreme court decision.

Israel orders Palestinian family to evacuate Sheikh Jarrah house

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Israeli authorities on Sunday ordered 83-year-old Palestinian grandfather Ayyub Shamasnah and his family to voluntarily evacuate their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah before next Sunday in compliance with a final supreme court decision.

Shamasnah lives with his wife, 75, children and grandchildren in a two-room, 65-square-meter house targeted by Jewish settlers who have already evicted several Palestinian families.

The family moved to Sheikh Jarrah after they were displaced from Qatanna village in northwest Jerusalem during the creation of Israel in 1948. They initially paid rent to Jordanian authorities, who were responsible for East Jerusalem until 1967 when Israel occupied the city.

Since 1968, the family has paid rent to Israeli authorities as protected leaseholders.

In 2011, the Israeli government’s Custodian for Absentee Property started legal proceedings to evict the Shamasnah family, claiming their rental contract expired in 2008. In May 2013, an Israeli court postponed the eviction until further discussions.

The court suggested during a hearing in May that the family could remain in the property until the elderly parents die, but settlers who are targeting the property once the family is evicted refused the proposal, according to the owner’s son Muhammad.

Speaking to Ma’an Sunday, Muhammad said that the Israeli supreme court decided in August 2013 that his family should evacuate the property before Jan. 3, 2015 to be delivered to the Israeli settlers.

“Thus, the family received a letter last Thursday from the settlers’ lawyer demanding that they comply with the court decision, or otherwise they will be evacuated by force.”

According to Muhammad, the Israeli authorities claim that the house was a Jewish property before 1948, and after the Palestinian Nakba all Jewish properties were entrusted to the Jordanian government’s Custodian for Absentee Property.

Then after the annexation of Jerusalem in 1967, the properties were entrusted to Israeli government’s Custodian for Absentee Property.

He added that his father had paid rent to both the Jordanian and Israeli authorities as protected leaseholders.

Then in 2011, he added, the family was surprised with the Israeli government’s Custodian for Absentee Property starting legal proceedings to evict the family claiming their rental contract expired in 2008.

In response, the family submitted court documents which proved they paid rent according to a contract signed in 1977. The family also submitted evidence that they had lived in the house since 1972, but “failed to give evidence they had lived in the house before 1968.”




Mike Huckabee is already on the campaign trail for the next US Presidential election. Following is a video captured in a West Bank winery where he obviously was seeking the votes of Americans living in the area … hopefully the rest of you will remember this at the Republican Primary.

Dancing with and for the occupation

Dancing with and for the occupation 

Former Arkansas governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee showed off his Hasidic dancing skills during a trip to Israel.

Huckabee visited the Psagot winery, in the Binyamin Regional Council, on Tuesday and played among other songs the famous “Hava Nagila” song. During the event, he was also recorded dancing with Singer Yonatan Razel to a rousing hassidic tune.


Every day is Friday the 13th in Palestine

Every day is Friday the 13th in Palestine

The following is from the archives. As the cold winds blow in Jerusalem, the report is as valid today as when it was originally posted.
Freezing cold winds, rain and threats of snow is what Jerusalem is experiencing today. That’s fine for those living in homes or apartments, but what about those living in tents or on the street? Even worse than the storm itself are the ongoing illegal activities of zionism in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, Sheik Jarrah in particular. The evictions from private homes continue due to the implementation of lebensraum; Israel’s ‘final solution’ in motion … a policy that is supposedly opposed to by the West and the EU, but still in motion nevertheless.
For some background on this almost forgotten struggle, I present here a five year old Op-ed from The New York Times; … nothing has changed.

Not all Israelis agree with this policy. For over a year, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Israelis and Palestinians have been gathering in Sheik Jarrah on Fridays to protest the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. Israeli courts have deemed these nonviolent demonstrations to be legal, but this has not stopped the police from arresting protesters.

In a cruel historical twist, nearly all of the Palestinians evicted from their homes in Sheik Jarrah in the last year-and-a-half were originally expelled in 1948 from their homes in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbieh. In the wake of the Six-Day War, Israeli courts ruled that some of the houses these Palestinian refugees have lived in since 1948 are actually legally owned by Jewish Israelis, who have claims dating from before Israel’s founding.


Who Lives in Sheik Jarrah?

Published: April 30, 2010
AS a boy, I lived in Sheik Jarrah, a wealthy Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Annexed by Israel in 1967 and now the subject of a conflict over property claims, my former home has come to symbolize everything that has gone wrong between the Israelis and Palestinians over the last six decades.

Despite talk of a slowdown in Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, Jerusalem’s mayor, toured Washington earlier this week and told officials that the expansion into Arab neighborhoods is going ahead at full speed.

As a result, “The battle line in Israel’s war of survival as a Jewish and democratic state now runs through the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” writes David Landau, the former editor of the Israeli daily Haaretz. “Is that the line, at last, where Israel’s decline will be halted?” I hope so.

My family lived in Israel from 1956 to 1958, when my father, an American diplomat, was stationed in East Jerusalem. We lived in the Palestinian sector, but every day I crossed through Mandelbaum Gate, the one checkpoint in the divided city, to attend school in an Israeli neighborhood. I thus had the rare privilege of seeing both sides.

At the time Sheik Jarrah was a sleepy suburb, a half-mile north of Damascus Gate. One of my playmates was Dani Bahar, the son of a Muslim Palestinian and a Jewish-German refugee from Nazi Europe. Before the establishment of Israel in 1948, such interfaith marriages were uncommon, but accepted. Another neighbor was Katy Antonius, the widow of George Antonius, an Arab historian who argued that Palestine should become a binational, secular state.

The Sheik Jarrah of my youth is gone; Mandelbaum Gate was razed by Israeli bulldozers right after the Six-Day War in 1967 that united Jerusalem. But the city remains virtually divided. Few Jewish Israelis venture into Sheik Jarrah and the other largely Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and few Palestinians go to the “New City.”

Today East Jerusalem exudes the palpable feel of a city occupied by a foreign power. And it is, to an extent — although much of the world doesn’t recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to halt the construction of new housing units for Jewish Israelis in the Arab neighborhoods. “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” he recently told an audience in Washington.

Not all Israelis agree with this policy. For over a year, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Israelis and Palestinians have been gathering in Sheik Jarrah on Fridays to protest the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. Israeli courts have deemed these nonviolent demonstrations to be legal, but this has not stopped the police from arresting protesters.

In a cruel historical twist, nearly all of the Palestinians evicted from their homes in Sheik Jarrah in the last year-and-a-half were originally expelled in 1948 from their homes in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbieh. In the wake of the Six-Day War, Israeli courts ruled that some of the houses these Palestinian refugees have lived in since 1948 are actually legally owned by Jewish Israelis, who have claims dating from before Israel’s founding.

The Palestinians have stubbornly refused to pay any rent to these “absentee” Israeli landlords for nearly 43 years; until recently, their presence was nevertheless tolerated. But under Mr. Netanyahu, a concerted effort has been made to evict these Palestinians and replace them with Israelis.

This poses an interesting question. If Jewish Israelis can claim property in East Jerusalem based on land deeds that predate 1948, why can’t Palestinians with similar deeds reclaim their homes in West Jerusalem?

I have in mind the Kalbians, our neighbors in Sheik Jarrah. Until 1948, Dr. Vicken Kalbian and his family lived in a handsome Jerusalem-stone house on Balfour Street in Talbieh. In the spring, the Haganah, the Zionist militia, sent trucks mounted with loudspeakers through the streets of Talbieh, demanding that all Arab residents leave. The Kalbians decided it might be prudent to comply, but they thought they’d be back in a few weeks.

Nineteen years later, after the Six-Day war, the Kalbians returned to 4 Balfour Street and knocked on the door. A stranger answered. “He was a Jewish Turk,” Dr. Kalbian said, “who had come to Israel in 1948.” The man claimed he had bought the house from the “authorities.”

That year the Kalbians took their property deed to a lawyer who determined that their house was indeed registered with the Israeli Department of Absentee Property. Under Israeli law, they learned, due compensation could have been paid to them — but only if they had not fled to countries then considered “hostile,” like Jordan. Because in 1948 they had ended up in Jordanian-controlled Sheik Jarrah, the Kalbians could neither reclaim their home nor be compensated for their loss.

The Kalbians eventually emigrated to America, but their moral claim to the house on Balfour Street is as strong as any of the deeds held by Israelis to property in Sheik Jarrah.

If Israel wishes to remain largely Jewish and democratic, then it must soon withdraw from all of the occupied territories and negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. And if not, it should at least let the Kalbians go home again.

Kai Bird is the author of “Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978.”


Photo © by Bud Korotzer

Photo © by Bud Korotzer

The annual demonstration in front of Leviev’s Jewelry store quickly turned into a celebration when it was learned that the shop had locked it’s doors and emptied its showcases …. but this didn’t stop ‘Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach from taunting the would be demonstrators … caught on video

Adalah NY issued the following statement about the video …

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach taunted a crowd of human rights protesters in front of the seemingly closed and emptied flagship Leviev diamond store on Madison Avenue. Leviev’s companies have built thousands of Israeli settlement homes and have been accused of abusing and torturing Angolan diamond miners.

Boteach stood in front of the empty Leviev store and began shouting. “Israel,” “Down with Hamas,” “Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” “Down with the Palestinians.” He suddenly stopped and complained that he was being videotaped. Police told Boteach to leave as he was drowned out by chants of, “How fancy, how pretty, Leviev out of New York City.” Boteach was accompanied by a young man wearing a scarf for the notoriously racist Beitar Jerusalem football team. Boteach has expressed his support for Hebron’s notoriously violent and racist settlers. 

Neighboring store owners told the protesters that the Leviev store had closed and the space had been sold, but it was impossible to confirm this. Human rights advocates have protested at Leviev’s store since 2007.

And here’s the ziolies he wrote on his Blog

The coming boycott of Jewish businesses

Shmuley Boteach

I saw a nasty thing walking with my children in New York City on the Sabbath. On Madison Ave in the mid-sixties, we saw a group of people, chanting, singing.

Was it Christmas carolers? As we got closer we saw it was a protest. An anti-Israel protest.

But this one was not outside an Israeli Consulate or Embassy. It was outside a commercial, retail store. A diamond store. Owned by Lev Leviev, the Israeli billionaire businessman and philanthropist.

“Glitz and glam. He steals Palestinian land.”

I was appalled. I got closer. The protesters were accusing Leviev, a private Jewish citizens, of stealing Palestinian land, persecuting Palestinians, and supporting an imperial Israel.

I asked the protesters who Leviev was and why they were protesting him. Was he Israel’s Prime Minister or Foreign Minister? At least the Ambassador. How else to explain why they would be protesting outside a business simply owned by a Jew.

They told me he was an Israeli who supported Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians. He was a known, high-profile Jewish businessman. They were there to make sure no one bought his products.

I had had enough. I raised my hands into the air, in the mist of the protest, and said loudly, “Long Live Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The only country in that dark region that is a bastion of liberty and human rights. A place where Palestinian women need never fear honor killings. A place where Israeli Arabs have more guaranteed rights than any Arab nation. A place where gay Palestinians need not fear being shot in the head on false charges of collaboration. A place where Arabs can protest publicly, just like all of you, and not be shot. Long live righteous and majestic Israel.”

Instantly, all the protestors forgot about Leviev and turned their ire toward me. I was now the devil. They were shouting at me, abusing me. “F—ck off. Go F—ck yourself.”

I got louder.

“How revolting of all of you to protest a business because it’s owned by a Jew.” What is this? Nuremberg 1934? Absolutely reprehensible.

My kids were now engaged in the fight, singing “Am Yisrael Chai. The Jewish people are alive and well.” We were louder than the protestors.

I started saying “Down with Hamas which allows honor killings of innocent Palestinian women. Down with Hamas that slaughters innocent Palestinian gay men. Down with the Palestinian…. ” and I was about to say “… Authority for refusing to go to elections in 10 years and creating a dictatorship, robbing the Palestinian people of their freedom” when I saw that someone was filming me on the Sabbath.

The police came over, trying to quell the confrontation. They have a permit, he said. They have the right to protest.

God bless America. I respect their right for public demonstration. But I also respect my right to write this in a column.

Jews of the world. Wake up. There has never been an assault on us like this in our lifetimes. And we are allowing it. Through our timidity and through closing our eyes and pretending not to see, it’s growing. Our enemies are arraying against us. They have substituted anti-Semitism for Anti-Israelism. But it’s the same sentiment.

Jew-hatred, pure and simple.

This holiday season the world’s anti-Semites are giving thanks for the existence of the State of Israel. If not for Israel they would not have camouflage for their Jew-hatred. Israel has given them cover. It’s not the Jews we hate, but just the Jewish state. It’s not because we have an inherent dislike of Jews. We just hate occupation.

But then they call each other on their IPhones, even though they’re made in China which has been occupying Tibet since 1950.

But only a weak community would give these haters a fig leaf to cover over their clear bigotry, prejudice, and hatred.

My kids were flabbergasted that a private Jewish business could draw major accusations of Palestinian persecution. It suited the protesters well that it was a diamond dealer. Perfect stereotype.

But who would be next? Which Jewish business would they target next?

A few hours later we went to the Chabad public Menorah lighting outside the Plaza hotel on 5th Ave. There was a small protest against Israel there was well. Joining the protest was a 20-something man who told us all that the Jews owned all of 5th Avenue. He pointed across the street at the famous Apple 5th Avenue store. “Apple is owned by Jews.”

I looked at him.

“Um, erg, hmmm. Did you know that Steve Jobs was the son of an Arab-American? So how does that square with the Jews owning Apple?”

“Well the Jews bought it from Jobs with the endless money they have.”


I thought to myself, Is there no respite from all this Jew-hatred? Can we not get away from them even at a Menorah lighting?

The other day Harvard University kicked out SodaStream from their cafeteria for the terrible sin of employing hundreds of Palestinians at a plant in Maale Adumim that treats Arabs as the absolute equals of their Israeli counterparts. Without SodaStream these Palestinian families would be destitute. But Palestinian activists at Harvard, animated by hatred of Israel over love for Palestinian lives, demanded a boycott and the caterer capitulated.

And so it goes. Jewish timidity in the United States is allowing more and more of these outrages to take place.

I wonder if we recognize the seriousness of what’s happening or will it engulf us before we take decisive action?

What is needed is an immediate move to organize Jewish students on campus to respond publicly to the anti-Israel onslaught at Universities. We need public demonstrations against Israel-hatred, anti-Semitism, and in favor of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Jewish students should not just be fighting BDS but should be going on offense to push through resolutions in the City Councils sanctioning Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for not holding elections in a decade and transforming Palestinian society into dictatorships.

Organizations who dare hold ordinary Jews responsible for actions in the Middle East – which would be the equivalent of protesting an Arab-owned department store in Detroit for the butchery of Bashar Assad in Syria – should themselves be targeted for public demonstrations, calling them what they are: anti-Semites.

And let’s honor those brave individuals who have stood up to BDS.

Every June our organization hosts the International Champions of Jewish Values Gala Awards Dinner in New York. Last year the Hollywood celebrity we honored was Sean Penn for his unrivaled bravery in going to Bolivia and rescuing the life of a Jewish businessman who had been wrongly incarcerated.

The year before we honored my dear friend Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Muslim, for his tireless efforts to promote the value of human life by getting us all to live more healthy lives and for his continued friendship with the Jewish people. A few months after the award we hosted Mehmet and his family in Israel.

This year we intend to honor Scarlett Johannson for standing up to the pressure to abandon SodaStream, a company that is a model of Arab-Israeli brotherhood and fraternity.

Scarlett, if you’re out there, please come to New York and accept. The dinner is on 3 June, 2015.

As far as Leviev goes …. DesertPeace adds 

The bastard can run but he can’t hide! Wherever he is doing his dirty business we will find him!!

Photos from the protest © by Bud Korotzer












Palestinian officials say the growth of Israeli settlements – there are now 22 around Bethlehem – is steadily strangling access, prompting tourists to stay away.


The Occupation would even keep Mary and Joseph from entering Bethlehem today

The Occupation would even keep Mary and Joseph from entering Bethlehem today

Israeli settlements squeezing Palestinian tourism, officials say

Palestinian tourism expert says $1.4 billion lost every year, as roads for settlers, border controls and administrative issues seriously hinder local industry.


Standing on the monumental hillside south of Bethlehem where King Herod the Great was buried more than 2,000 years ago, Fadi Kattan stretches out his arm to point out the nearby Israeli settlements of Tekoa and Nokdim.

“That’s part of the problem,” says Kattan, a Palestinian tourism expert, explaining the obstacles hindering the growth of the local industry in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Because of the roads Israel builds mainly for Jewish settlers, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in Nokdim, Palestinian areas are frequently cut off, making them less accessible to tourists, he says.

Then there is Herodium, a major attraction administered by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority. The income flows to Israel, not the Palestinians. The same goes for Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, which is also in the West Bank.

Christmas festivities in Bethlehem (Archive photo: Reuters)
Christmas festivities in Bethlehem (Archive photo: Reuters)

Perhaps most challenging, Palestinian tour operators cannot easily tap into the 300 million Arabs living in nearby countries since very few of them can readily visit the West Bank, whose borders are controlled by Israel.

“When you add it all up, the movement and access problems and everything else, we are losing $1.4 billion a year,” says Kattan, estimating that current revenue of $460 million a year would be nearer $1.8 billion if locals had full control.

It is an issue that comes to the fore every year in the run-up to Christmas, when tens of thousands of religious tourists make their way to Bethlehem, other parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem to celebrate the birth, life and death of Jesus.

To highlight the increasing strain Bethlehem and surrounding towns are under, Palestinian officials took a group of foreign journalists on a guided tour of the area this week.

The ruins at Herodium (archive photo)
The ruins at Herodium (archive photo)

Underscoring how sensitive the topic is, the Israeli tourism ministry is taking journalists on its own tour of Nazareth and other Christian towns in Israel on Sunday, and the Israel Project, a pro-Israel lobby, has organised another media tour two days later covering Christian churches.

When it comes to Bethlehem, a city of 25,000 just five miles south of Jerusalem, the critical issue is getting foreign tourists past Israel’s separation wall and checkpoints and convincing them to stay the night.

Many now choose to stay in Jerusalem and make a day trip. Palestinian officials say the growth of Israeli settlements – there are now 22 around Bethlehem – is steadily strangling access, prompting tourists to stay away.

“We can’t have real development in this sector until the occupation ends,” said Rula Ma’aya, the Palestinian minister of tourism, decrying the pressure on overnight stays.

Figures show overnight stays are up 9% this year from last year, but officials say the number remains far below what it should be and the overall revenue is down.

While visitors from Russia, Poland and Italy – the top three – tend to stay the night, Americans, who spend more, are more likely to stay in Jerusalem, with the revenue going to Israel.

“In history, Bethlehem and Jerusalem were always twin cities,” said Ma’aya. “Now, Bethlehem is being isolated.”


Boycott RE/MAX Week of Action

SHAME on RE/MAX! While Palestinian homes and olive groves are bulldozed to make way for new settlements, Israeli RE/MAX agents are doing business in all the major West Bank settlements, including Adam, Beit Arye, Beit El, Giva’at Ze’ev, Ma’ale Adumim, Oranit, Salit, Sha’arei Tikva and Zufim.

In occupied East Jerusalem, the company markets and rents properties in the settlement neighborhoods of Gilo, Har Homa, Ramot, French Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev. The settlement properties cater to young Israeli couples and first-time buyers by offering less expensive suburban real estate.

Through REMAX you can find —for a cool $1 million—a 4,000 square-foot villa just minutes from Jerusalem, “at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac” in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumin with balconies, high quality materials, and swimming pools for example.


Boycott RE/MAX protests flood the US during Week of Action

Ben Norton FOR

While temperatures cooled, the first week of December saw a tremendous kindling of the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement, as Palestinian solidarity activists across the US flooded RE/MAX offices, demanding that the real estate giant cease its activities in illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

RE/MAX is one of the largest real estate corporations in the world. RE/MAX International, based in the US, with headquarters in Denver, Colorado, oversees more than 100,000 agents in over 7,000 offices in almost 100 countries. Realtor Magazine has consistently ranked numerous RE/MAX franchises in its annual list of Top 100 Companies.

Several of RE/MAX’s Israeli franchises sell property in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the French Hill, Armon HaNatziv, and Pisgat Ze’ev. The office of RE/MAX Israel’s Atid franchise is itself located in Maale Adumim, a major illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. RE/MAX Israel agents openly admitthat many of the homes they sell can only be owned by Jewish people.

A screen grab from RE/MAX Israel’s website shows a map of some of the settlement houses it markets.

The United Nations published a report in 2013 indicating that RE/MAX LLC, the US-based parent company, can be “held accountable” for the crimes of RE/MAX Israel, over which it “has constant interaction and influence.” Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventionmandates that the “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies,” and UN Security Council Resolution 446explicitly states that Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, in which RE/MAX Israel is operating, “have no legal validity.”

No Open House

In October 2014, peace and social justice organization CODEPINK launched the Boycott RE/MAX: No Open House on Stolen Land (or No Open House, for short) campaign. At the end of November, No Open house launched its official website, BoycottREMAX.org. The website includes answers to frequently asked questions, a campaign timeline and tactics, a newsletter, links to further reading materials, and a wide array of resources, including shareable memes, protest chants, and a draft of a letter to send to RE/MAX.

CODEPINK says its goal in launching the campaign is to pressure RE/MAX “to cut its ties with franchises involved in the sale or rental of settlement properties.” Sophia Armen, National Coordinator of the Boycott RE/MAX: No Open House on Stolen land, explained the “campaign is a call for people of conscience to address the complicity of RE/MAX corporation in heinous violations of international law. It is our duty, as people concerned with justice, to be in solidarity with Palestinians and to address how these large corporations are profiting off continuing displacement, dispossession and death in Israel/Palestine.”


In October 2014, CODEPINK sent a letter to RE/MAX co-founder and Chairman of the Board Dave Liniger. The RE/MAX executive never responded. Overall, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin says, RE/MAX has been largely unresponsive and dismissive. In the summer of 2014, CODEPINK began working on building a coalition with Palestinian solidarity groups around the country, including countless chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace, and a variety of social justice, peace, anti-war, and leftist organizations.

By October, CODEPINK made a national call for a Week of Action, to be held from 29 November to 5 December. Activists from over 15 major cities organized demonstrations outside of local RE/MAX offices. CODEPINK organizer Desirée Fairooz says the strategy of activists targeting local RE/MAX franchises “is the only way to express solidarity with this campaign in their own hometowns,” noting it is not clearly feasible for everyone to travel to the Denver headquarters to protest. Fairooz says she hopes local protests will inspire franchises to tell “LLC ‘Make it stop!’, thereby pressuring LLC to close operations in Occupied Palestine.”

On 21 November, Rich Forer, author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, delivered a petition with over 4,000 signatures to the RE/MAX headquarters in Denver, Colorado, requesting that Chairman Liniger “stop RE/MAX Israel’s illegal sales of Jewish-only settlement homes on Palestinian land.” In the early December Week of Action, activists throughout the country delivered this petition to local RE/MAX offices.

Boycott RE/MAX Week of Action

No Open House protesters in Dallas, Texas on 29 November  CREDIT: Facebook

On Saturday, 29 November, three Boycott RE/MAX demonstrations were held, thousands of miles apart. Activists from a variety of groups, including CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, and more gathered in Dallas, Texas; Strongsville, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland; and Somerville, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, to protest outside of RE/MAX offices. Those in Strongsville and Somerville stood outside for hours in below-freezing weather. Cleveland-based activist Toni Ann Rozsahegyi said she helped organize the action because she feels “it’s important to raise awareness of the fact that companies like RE/MAX break international law and impede the peace process for profit.”

No Open House protesters in Los Angeles, California on 1 December   CREDIT: Facebook

On Monday, 1 December, Palestinian solidarity activists in Los Angeles demonstrated in front of a RE/MAX office, holding signs reading “RE/MAX, stop making money off violating law,” “RE/MAX sells ILLEGAL settlements,” “RE/MAX, stop selling stolen land,” “RE/MAX, every settlement is an obstacle to peace,” and more.

No Open House protesters in Denver, Colorado on 2 December   CREDIT: Facebook

No Open House protesters in Boston, Massachusetts on 2 December   CREDIT: Facebook

On  Tuesday, 2 December, activists from CODEPINK Greater Boston, the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, United for Justice with Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, and more held a demonstration outside a RE/MAX office in Boston. Organizer Hayat Imam said she “salute[s] CODEPINK for putting out the call for actions against RE/MAX to demand that they stop the sale of houses on stolen Palestinian land by their franchisee RE/MAX Israel” and feel[s] good about the fact that our action is the opening salvo of the boycott in Boston.” Imam explains the activists made an appointment with RE/MAX and organized a representative “delegation” of individuals “who had just been to Palestine so they could talk about the first hand conditions there” to hand a letter to the RE/MAX Chair.

Coalitions of protesters also gathered in both Chicago and Denver. Pat Hunt, an organizer in the former, insisted that “it’s our responsibility to shine a light on the illegal settlements and” on RE/MAX Israel’s illegal profiteering. “We need to keep the pressure on companies that participate in apartheid and let them know we will not tolerate it,” Hunt said.

On Wednesday, 3 December, Palestinian human rights advocates protested in San Francisco and Washington, DC. Activists in the nation’s capital were joined by Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

Falk spoke about the importance of pressuring RE/MAX to end its illegal activities and addressed the the illegality and immorality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

We are here today to bring pressure on RE/MAX to comply with international humanitarian law, to cease engaging in commercial activities with the settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And we have made every effort to engage the officers of RE/MAX in a constructive dialogue, which they have refused to engage in, presumably because they have no response to make. And we are disappointed that they won’t even physically receive our petition.

It is a shame that the interests of the market take precedence over the interests of people and the well-being of people and a common sense of morality. …

To establish a settlement of the occupying power’s people in an occupied society is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. And this has gone not for just a few months, or even a few years, but more than 47 years. …

And RE/MAX, in the mean time, will feel the costs of continuing to deal with these unlawful settlements. They really are making a sustainable peace between these two peoples a real impossibility. So it’s not just a matter of violating a particular provision of law; it’s subjecting the Palestinian people as a whole to the daily ordeal of living under this prolonged occupation that’s gone on longer than any other comparable situation in recent history.

It is a scandal that the international community has allowed this to go on for so long.

DC-based CODEPINK organizer Anna Kaminski addressed the need to make realtor allies in the Boycott RE/MAX movement. “While local franchises indeed have nothing to do with RE/MAX Israel, this visibility of protests helps to mount pressure on headquarters which has the power to halt operations in any franchise at any time,” she said. Protesting local RE/MAX branches “can also help individual franchises learn more about what their company is doing overseas and realtors can use the opportunity to learn more about the conflict and how their company violates international law. Realtors can then use their concern regarding a boycott to help mount pressure on RE/MAX HQ.”

Only miles away, on the same day, in Olney, Maryland, activists gathered outside of a RE/MAX office, holding signs reading “RE/MAX Israel complicit in theft of Palestinian homes,” “Stolen land not for sale,” and “RE/MAX profits – Palestinians suffer.”

No Open House protesters in Olney, Maryland on 3 December   CREDIT: Facebook

On Thursday, 4 December, activists woke up bright and early to protest RE/MAX in Houston, Texas, in what was the second Boycott RE/MAX demonstration in Texas in five days.

On Friday, 5 December, the country saw its largest flood of Boycott RE/MAX protests. Activists gathered outside of a RE/MAX office in Rochester, Minnesota. Just two days after one demonstration, San Francisco Palestinian human rights activists got together for another.

UCSB SJP members meeting with RE/MAX representatives  CREDIT: Facebook

Miles away, in Ventura, California, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Students for Justice in Palestine met with RE/MAX representatives, asking the workers to pressure their company to stop its operation in illegal settlements. The students also connected the struggle of indigenous Palestinians against Israeli colonization to that of immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border, as well as to the struggle of black Americans in Ferguson and across the US, protesting police brutality and structural racism in the Justice System. Anumita Kaur, a UCSB SJP organizer, spoke of what she sees as the importance of the BDS movement, explaining that, as “students at the UC, our tuition money is invested in corporations profiting off of Israeli apartheid and occupation—we are not okay with this.”

In Portland, Oregon, protesters assembled in freezing weather. They made cardboard props of RE/MAX apartment complexes, emblazoned with the word “stolen,” and stood next to mounds of snow. Portland-based CODEPINK organizer Lisa Savage explains they scheduled the demonstration to coincide with evening commute traffic and to be end when a Black Lives Matter civil rights march began, which many of the Palestinian solidarity activists then joined.

No Open House protesters in Portland, Oregon on 5 December   CREDIT: Lisa Savage

SJP activists in NYC RE/MAX offices  CREDIT: Facebook

New York City held the fifth demonstration on this day. Members of Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, and many others flooded New York RE/MAX offices, asking the offices to convey to RE/MAX International that RE/MAX Israel’s illegal sales must cease immediately.

No Open House’s Week of Action marked just the beginning of the Boycott RE/MAX campaign, and it marked it with a bang. Activists around the country showed great enthusiasm and took great initiative, organizing more than 20 demonstrations. Noteworthy was the community-based nature of all these protests, demonstrating that the Palestinian solidarity movement is a true grassroots movement, and that this grassroots movement is growing rapidly. While the chill of winter begins to fill the air, this new phase of the BDS movement is just heating up.

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