IF YOU THINK G M O’s ARE BAD …. LOOK AT THIS

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism). GMOsare the source of medicines and genetically modified foods and are widely used in scientific research and to produce other goods.

The following might be even worse …

A product designed and developed by an Israeli student that can prolong the life of fruit and vegetables for months will soon be launched onto the market.

“Strawberries, for example, usually go bad after three days, and yet we can keep them good for consumption for another four or five days. At the other extreme, there are things like eggplant and potatoes that last weeks.

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Israeli-Owned Innovation to Keep Fruit and Vegetables Fresher for Longer

20-year-old Amit Gal-Or from Ra’anana, who now lives in Shanghai, established Phresh, which has developed a powder composed of essential oils which can preserve produce for 3 times longer than usual.

A product designed and developed by an Israeli student that can prolong the life of fruit and vegetables for months will soon be launched onto the market.

A product designed and developed by an Israeli student that can prolong the life of fruit and vegetables for months will soon be launched onto the market.

Twenty-year-old Amit Gal-Or from Ra’anana, who now lives in Shanghai, established his Phresh company in 2015 when he decided to use old technology and Israeli research to benefit individual households.

The technology originated in research from over a decade ago at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev when an Israeli scientist sought ways to use oils to create organic preservative properties, Gal-Or explained to Tazpit Press Service (TPS)

“These oils have been known about for thousands of years, but they are very volatile and evaporate very rapidly so their effectiveness disappears very quickly. The researchers wanted to transform the preservative properties into a liquid or powder and then release it very slowly and therefore multiply its effectiveness,” he said.

Gal-Or and his team then set about combining past research to create a powder that does not need to be sprayed or applied to the produce to provide protection. Instead, the powder dissolves piecemeal and can preserve the produce for up to three times longer than usual. Using these powders for the household simply “made sense,” Gal-Or said.

“Strawberries, for example, usually go bad after three days, and yet we can keep them good for consumption for another four or five days. At the other extreme, there are things like eggplant and potatoes that last weeks. We can expand their life by months. Then you have everything in between,” he added.

Gal-Or said that Phresh will soon be launching an intensive e-commerce campaign and that the product is already expanding from China, where Gal-Or lives, into the United States, Europe, Japan, and Israel.

Phresh is raising funds to complete the building and delivery of a healthy organic solution that prevents fruits and vegetables at home from spoiling. Phresh’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is at . At this stage, the first Food Protectors items are only available through Kickstarter till March 23, 2016.

 

Source

GOING BEYOND CHUTZPAH

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Does Israel want the Palestinians to thank her for not exterminating them once and for all? 

Needless to say, this is a classical example of “going beyond Chutzpah” 

By Khalid Amayreh in Jerusalem

Khalid Amayreh challenges Jews to abide by the tenets of their religion:

 

Like apartheid South Africa did to Justify its repulsive approach toward its majority black citizens, Israel is making all sorts of similarly despicable arguments to justify its decades-old evil occupation  and systematic persecution of Palestinians. 

As some of us remember, the apartheid South African regime had argued that black South Africans ought to be grateful to the White regime for giving them employment and enabling them to have a semblance of decent life. 

The White regime’s PR machine would shamelessly argue that “Our black citizens have a higher standard of living than other fellow black people anywhere in the continent.” 

When I was studying in the states in the 1980s, I remember a visiting high ranking official from the apartheid regime boasting about the high living conditions enjoyed by blacks in South Africa in comparison to the rest of the continent. 

“Ask them (South African black majority): would they prefer to live in South Africa or in Zimbabwe,” the official said. 

What is wrong with this argument is that it doesn’t really distinguish between humans and animals. In the final analysis, humans, unlike animals, don’t live by bread alone. They are also entitled to freedom and dignity. This is the crux of the matter which fascist and racist regimes love to ignore. 

Today, apartheid Israel is making virtually the same arguments to justify and defend its manifestly criminal treatment of the Palestinians. 

Thus, whenever Israel’s sinister occupation is criticized, we see that big-mouthed Israeli officials and professional hasbara liars try to make black look white and the white look black by claiming that Palestinians are better off than most other Arabs. 

Now, as the BDS movement is gaining momentum to the chagrin of the Israeli establishment, Israeli officials and other hasbara mouthpieces are becoming more brazen in their defensive but mendacious discourse. 

And, yes, as usual, lying is their modus operandi. 

They are saying the Palestinians ought to be thankful to Israel for not treating them like Bashar Assad or Abdul Fattah Sissi are treating their own peoples. 

One Zionist pundit wrote recently that were Israel to follow Arab rules, all Palestinians would have been expelled from “the Land of Israel along time ago.” 

Needless to say, this is a classical example of “going beyond Chutzpah” 

After all, since when the Hitler of Damascus, who murdered half a million of his own people, and the virulent tyrant of Cairo, who usurped power from the only truly democratically elected regime in Egypt’s history, were role models for the world to be followed or emulated? 

So, Israel, “the purported light upon humanity” wants the Palestinians to thank Israel for murdering their children on the spot in the West Bank, and not burning them alive by way of dropping barrel bombs on their homes and schools as Assad is doing in Syria. 

Yes, Israel would like to see the Palestinians “thank” her for conducting slow-motion genocide whereas “human-rights unfriendly states” would pursue fast-motion genocide” and get rid of the problem once and for all. 

But it is only sick and depraved minds that are capable of making such nefarious   arguments. 

Otherwise, we should thank the Iberians Catholics for not playing by the rules of Old Testament and exterminating every Jewish man, woman and child during the inquisition!! (Israelis are embarrassed when explaining the Tsfarad Geroush” (the Spanish inquisition” because it reminds them of something they don’t like to remember, namely the golden age Jews had undergone in Islamic Spain!!! 

According to the morbid logic we hear from some Israeli officials, we should also thank the Nazis for building the concentration camps relatively later in the course of the Second World War, because had these death camps been established earlier, a greater number of Jews would have perished. 

Yes, sickening arguments are only the product of sick minds. 

Today, in its rabid reaction to the non-violent BDS movement, Israel and its hasbara shipyard dogs, from Sydney to California, are arguing that it is the BDS campaign, not the malignant occupation, that is hurting the Palestinians. That it is the BDS movement that is impeding the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, not the ubiquitous proliferation of settlements, inhabited by fanatic cutthroats who believe spilling more innocent blood would expedite and accelerate redemption and salvation!! 

I don’t what sort of Torah are those people reading and following: The Torah of Moses or the Torah of Satan? 

Well, in the Torah of Moses, Jeremiah 7:6, the God of Israel equated oppressing strangers living amongst Israelites with the greatest sin ever in Judaism, namely the unforgivable sin associating gods with God. 

And in Exodus 22:21: The Almighty commands the Israelites, telling them in straightforward manner” Do not mistreat or oppress a stranger, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” 

Don’t tell me I am being selective or quoting things out of context. For even the Talmud, who Orthodox Jews consider the verbal Torah, states that true Jews are not supposed to oppress non-Jews living in their midst: 

Let us consider the following Talmudic story which sums up the point I am trying to make: A heathen came to Shammai with the request to be accepted as a convert to Judaism on condition that he would be taught the whole of the Torah while he stood on one foot. The Rabbi drove him away with a yard-stick he was holding. The heathen then went to Hillel with the same request. Hillel said to the man what is hateful to yourself, don’t do to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary. “Go, learn it.” 

VIDEO ~~ SANDERS A NO GO IN ISRAEL

Israelis are not feeling the Bern in Jerusalem

By Dan Cohen For Mondoweiss

On Monday, April 11, 2016, I went to Jerusalem’s Zion Square to ask Israelis for their thoughts on Bernie Sanders, the Jewish-American presidential candidate.

No anti-Zionist himself, Sanders said this week that he would take a “more balanced position” while guaranteeing Israel’s security. Last week, he called Israel’s use of force in the 2014 assault on Gaza “disproportionate” and said that “a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed.”

Last week, Sanders confused the number of Palestinians injured with those killed in Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, saying, “I happen to believe … anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”

Despite qualifying his estimate, which was quickly corrected by his interviewer, Sanders was attacked by prominent Israel supporters and Hillary Clinton. Israeli Member of Knesset and former American accused Sanders Michael Oren of advancing a “blood libel,” and by MK Yair Lapid said he is promoting Hamas “propaganda and deception.” The Anti-Defamation League demanded that Sanders correct his misstatement.

Nearly all of the Israelis I spoke to had strong dislike for Sanders, and many disparaged him, even disqualifying him as a Jew.

Interestingly, that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had less support than Sanders, despite her pandering to American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) where she pledged to take the US-Israel relationship to the “next level.” Still polls show that Israelis prefer Clinton to Sanders and that Clinton and Donald Trump are tied in the race for president.

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Yet they they feel the love for Trump …

On Monday, April 11, 2016, Dan Cohen went to Jerusalem’s Zion Square to ask Israelis for their thoughts on the US presidential race and most Israelis he spoke to spoke fondly of Donald Trump. Trump’s brash speaking style resonated with them, and few seemed phased by his statements that he would be neutral on Israel/Palestine. Those who did preferred Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who has promised to be more pro-Israel than any other candidate.

FRIDAY’S TOON ~~ ISRAELI ARMS SALES DURING RWANDAN GENOCIDE TO REMAIN SEALED

Image by Carlos Latuff

Israeli "Justice" Denied Access to Records on Arms Sales to Rwanda During Genocide

Israeli “Justice” Denied Access to Records on Arms Sales to Rwanda During Genocide

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Click on link to read related post

Records of Israeli arms sales during Rwandan genocide to remain sealed

Supreme Court denies attorney’s petition to reveal defense exports to the African country, citing risk to national security, foreign relations

UPDATED POST ~~ VIDEO ~~ A JEW AND AN ARAB WALK INTO A BAR … AND THE REALITY IN ISRAEL TODAY

(See report below for today’s update)

From yesterday …..

We went out dressed in an Arab/Muslim and Jewish traditional outfit, walked hand to hand in public to see how people react.

The results are telling.

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Four ways Jews and Arabs live apart in Israeli society

The two communities have separate societies, attending different schools, living in different cities and espousing different political ideals

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Bezalel Smotrich, perhaps the most right-wing member of the current Knesset, caused a storm when he endorsed the idea that Arabs and Jew should be segregated in Israel’s maternity rooms.
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Smotrich was responding to a report on the Israel Broadcast Authority that several hospitals practice de facto segregation of maternity rooms — placing Jews with Jews and Arabs with Arabs. Such segregation is prohibited by law.

“There are mental gaps, and it’s more comfortable for both sides to be with themselves,” Smotrich, a member of the religious Zionist Jewish Home party, tweeted on April 5. “It’s really not racism.”

In a subsequent tweet he wrote that it’s “natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie next to someone who just gave birth to a baby, who may want to kill her baby 20 years from now.”

Smotrich’s remarks were panned by lawmakers from left and right, including Naftali Bennett, the leader of Jewish Home. Responding to Smotrich, Bennett tweeted a rabbinic passage about man being created in God’s image, adding, “Every man. Jew or Arab.”

Jews and Arabs are afforded equal rights under Israeli law. But in many ways, the two sectors live in separate societies — attending different schools, living in different cities, reading different newspapers and espousing different political ideals.

Unlike the prescribed, top-down segregation supported by Smotrich, much of this separation stems from longstanding structural factors like language, culture and religion.

“In most places, there’s no problem. The Arab population lives in totally Arab villages,” said Nachum Blass, a senior researcher at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies.

But the divisions between Israeli Jews and Arabs, who represent 20 percent of the population, have also contributed to economic disparities between them. And despite laws meant to prevent discrimination, Arabs point to studies showing persistent disparities in education, social services, income and political participation.

“There’s definitely discrimination in every aspect” of Israel’s education system, Taub said.

Nongovernmental organizations and government bodies have worked to promote a “shared society” in economic development, higher education and the labor market.

Here are four ways Jews and Arabs live apart in Israeli society.

Jews and Arabs attend separate schools.

Israel’s schools are separated by both religion and race. Jewish students attend either secular, religious or ultra-Orthodox schools, while the Arabs attend separate Muslim, Christian and Druze systems taught in Arabic. Of the 1.6 million total students in grades 1 through 12 last year, fewer than 2,000 attended the handful of joint Jewish-Arab schools.

The split education system, where students are taught in their own language and according to their own cultural norms, according to Blass, “answers the [Arab] community’s needs.” But it has also led to lower educational achievement among Arab Israelis.

In 2012, two-thirds of non ultra-Orthodox Jews qualified for university, as opposed to less than half of Arab students. Israel’s universities are more integrated, but Arabs make up a low proportion of students. In 2012, Arabs made up only 12 percent of bachelor’s degree students, and 4 percent of doctoral students, according to Sikkuy, an organization that aims to foster Jewish-Arab coexistence.

Jews and Arabs live in separate towns.

In addition to studying separately, Israeli Jews and Arabs mostly live in separate cities. Two of the country’s largest cities, Jerusalem and Haifa, have substantial Arab populations, but even those cities are often separated by neighborhood. Nearly all of Jerusalem’s Arab residents live in the eastern half of the city.

Aside from a handful of other mixed Israeli towns, most of the country’s cities are more than 90 percent Jewish or Arab. Though Arabs make up nearly 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry, the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Israel’s largest, is nearly 95 percent Jewish.

The Jewish-Arab division is also marked by economic gaps. Arab cities have higher poverty rates and, in general, worse municipal services than their Jewish counterparts. Eight of Israel’s 10 poorest towns are Arab. The richest 30 are Jewish.

“It’s not a problem in principle to live in different places,” said Rawnak Natour, co-director of Sikkuy. “There needs to be a possibility to live together, that there will be [cultural] symbols and the ability to encompass the different cultures.”

Their political leaders rarely work together.

Israel often points to its Arab-Israeli lawmakers as proof of the country’s democratic chops. Arabs hold 16 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, and the body’s third-largest party, the Joint List, is Arab. Arabs have also risen to the top of other branches of government, including sitting on Israel’s Supreme Court.

But Israeli Arabs’ political leadership perpetually sits in the Knesset’s opposition, and few politicians in the government are Arab, such that the two communities’ agendas rarely align. The only Arab in Israel’s political leadership is the deputy minister of regional cooperation, Ayoub Kara, who is part of the Druze minority.

Arabs are barely present in Israel’s mainstream media.

Lucy Aharish, the young Arab co-host of a morning show on a leading Israeli TV station, speaks accent-less Hebrew, has gained admirers for her forthrightness and was even honored with a role at the country’s official torch-lighting ceremony on Independence Day.

But she’s one of the few Arab faces and voices Israelis will see and hear on their TVs and radios. Israeli Arabs have their own active press, but they are vastly underrepresented in mainstream Israeli media, comprising fewer than 3 percent of total interviews on leading Israel stations in January and February, according to a study by Sikkuy and the Seventh Eye, a media watchdog.

The number drops even lower when it comes to news segments not directly related to Israeli Arabs. Aharish’s Channel 2, for example, spoke to only 11 Arabs out of more than 5,500 total such interviews in January.

“You have low representation, and the moment you have it, it’s about specific topics and a very specific framing, which is crime and the conflict,” Natour said. “The way they’re interviewed is a negative framework that perpetuates the stigmas about the Arab population in the state.”

THURSDAY’S TOON ~~ GOLDMAN SACHS FUNDS HEBRON SETTLERS

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.

VIDEO ~~ A JEW AND AN ARAB WALK INTO A BAR …

We went out dressed in an Arab/Muslim and Jewish traditional outfit, walked hand to hand in public to see how people react.

The results are telling.

quote-racism-is-a-refuge-for-the-ignorant-it-seeks-to-divide-and-to-destroy-it-is-the-enemy-of-freedom-pierre-berton-17016

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: IN DEFENSE OF BDS

Amnesty International is urging the Israeli government to end its threats and attacks against Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders, including leaders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

A European coalition is campaigning to protect the right to speak out in support of Palestinian rights. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler) / ActiveStills

A European coalition is campaigning to protect the right to speak out in support of Palestinian rights. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler) / ActiveStills

Amnesty condemns Israel’s threats against BDS activists

Amnesty International is urging the Israeli government to end its threats and attacks against Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders, including leaders of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Meanwhile, European civil society groups are launching a new campaign to defend freedom of speech from efforts to curtail it by Israel and European leaders allied with it.

“An escalation of acts of intimidation by the government and attacks and threats by settlers and other non-state actors have created an increasingly dangerous environment” for human rights defenders in Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Amnesty said on Tuesday.

The group expressed particular concern for the “safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti, and other boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists, following calls alluding to threats, including of physical harm and deprivation of basic rights, made by Israeli ministers.”

The threats were made at the “Stop the Boycott” conference held in Jerusalem on 28 March and attended by Israeli leaders as well as by EU and US diplomats.

“An especially alarming statement came from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in ‘targeted civil eliminations’ of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence,” Amnesty stated.

It noted that the term Katz employed “alludes to ‘targeted assassinations’ which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.”

Amnesty also condemned statements by Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erdan that activists including Barghouti should “pay the price” for their work, although Erdan denied he was calling for physical harm.

Similarly, interior minister Aryeh Deri threatened to revoke Barghouti’s residency permit.

“Slightly safer”

Amnesty described these statements as the most serious examples of “threats and intimidation” to date, and called on Israeli ministers to uphold human rights and avoid “inflammatory public remarks” against Barghouti and other human rights defenders.

Israel should also “withdraw [the] threat to arbitrarily restrict his freedom of movement and cancel his permanent residency in Israel,” Amnesty added.

Barghouti has welcomed Amnesty’s public intervention.

“I already feel slightly safer, having received this clear position by Amnesty International,” Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada.

“It not only criticizes the Israeli government’s intimidation and violent threats against me and my BDS colleagues, it defends our right to engage in the nonviolent BDS movement to defend the rights of the Palestinian people under international law,” Barghouti added.

Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, also renewed his call for Israel to be isolated.

“The UN and all states must strongly reject Israel’s well-oiled attempts to delegitimize the BDS movement and support our right to BDS,” he said. “The most effective way for them to hold Israel’s regime of oppression accountable for its grave crimes against the Palestinian people is through imposing sweeping sanctions on it similar to those adopted against apartheid South Africa.”

In contrast to Amnesty’s stance, Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the top EU envoy in Tel Aviv who participated in the Stop the Boycott conference, has refused to condemn the Israeli threats.

Legislating silence

Amnesty noted that the threats against BDS activists come in the context of a broad assault on Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders by government and non-state actors aimed at suppressing freedom of expression and assembly.

Incidents mentioned by Amnesty include the death threats against Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, the Palestinian whofilmed the point-blank execution of a Hebron youth by an Israeli soldier on 24 March; the series of death threatsagainst the staff of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq; the arrests of Hebron anti-settlement activistsIssa Amro and Farid al-Atrash; the imprisonment of Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar and “vicious” invective and threats directed at Breaking the Silence, an Israeli group that collects and publishes anonymized confessions of abuses by Israeli soldiers.

Amnesty also pointed out that in recent years, “the Israeli authorities have passed a number of laws that restrict the space for opposition to Israeli government policies and actions.”

Currently making their way through parliament are additional laws “that appear to be aimed at curtailing freedom of expression and freedom of association,” Amnesty stated.

These include the so-called transparency bill, a measure seen as an attack on groups critical of Israel’s human rights record.

Another is the “Loyalty in Culture” bill which would give the government the power to retroactively withdraw funding from cultural activities that “contravene the principles of the state.”

The right to BDS

This week a coalition of European civil society groups launched a new campaign to support freedom of speech and political action for Palestinian rights.

The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) is calling on human rights organizations, civil liberties groups, social movements, trade unions and political parties to sign a petition to the European Union “opposing government-led attacks on free speech and civil liberties that are being implemented in order to undermine civil society’s human rights initiatives in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

“As Israel is increasingly unable to defend its regime of apartheid and settler colonialism over the Palestinian people and its regular massacres of Palestinians in Gaza, it is seeking supportive governments in Europe and the US to undermine free speech as a way of shielding it from criticism and measures aimed at holding it to account for its gross violations of international law,” ECCP states, citing recent repressive acts by authorities in the UKand France, as well as the threats by Israeli ministers.

“Regardless of their position on BDS, human rights organizations and citizens of the world who care about civil rights and human rights have to take a clear stand to defend the right to advocate for BDS as a matter of conscience and free speech and a nonviolent means of civil society to advocate the fundamental rights of the Palestinians,” ECCP adds.

#IsraelToday ~~ THE NEXT GENERATION — THE MIGHT OF THE RIGHT

A new poll has found that youth in Israel are increasingly right-wing in their political opinions, and are overwhelmingly Zionist and loyal to their country.

 Right climbs to 70+ seats in new Knesset

Right climbs to 70+ seats in new Knesset

Poll: 59% of Israeli youth are right-wing

Survey finds 82% of high-schoolers say there’s no chance of a deal with Palestinians, half oppose having Arab MKs.

A new poll has found that youth in Israel are increasingly right-wing in their political opinions, and are overwhelmingly Zionist and loyal to their country.

The survey, conducted by the New Wave Research institute for Israel Hayom and published in part on Wednesday, asked 11th and 12th graders to define their political position.

A full 59% defined themselves as right-wing, while another 23% said they were centrist, and only 13% identified as leftist. Another 5% said they have no position.

A whopping 82% said there is no chance of reaching a deal of some sort with the Palestinian Arabs, indicating their disillusionment with the peace process that has regularly led to waves of Arab terrorism.

When asked if Arab citizens of Israel need representation in the Knesset, 48% said they do not, while 52% said they do.

In a question relating to the recent case of a soldier who shot a wounded Arab terrorist, the students were asked if they thought a soldier should be put on trial for shooting a neutralized terrorist.

A resounding 60% said such a soldier should not be tried, while 30% supported the trial and 10% said they did not know.

Zionism appears to be strong according to the poll, which found that 89% said they see their future in Israel, and 85% said they love the state.

Of the high-schoolers 88% said they are preparing to enlist in the IDF, with over half saying there is no more ethical army in the world, and 65% believe in the sentence “it is good to die for our country,” which is a quote from Joseph Trumpeldor.

Another finding was that 75% of the students appreciate or greatly appreciate their teachers.

FROM

REMEMBERING THE TERROR THAT LED TO JEWISH STATEHOOD

#DeirYassinMassacre let us remember the innocent lives lost to terror

#DeirYassinMassacre let us remember the innocent lives lost to terror

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Palestinians mark 68th anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre

Palestinians on Saturday marked the 68th anniversary of the massacre of more than 100 Palestinians civilians carried out by Zionist paramilitary groups in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 prior to the establishment of Israel.

Deir Yassin has long been a symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians because of the particularly gruesome nature of the slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the small village west of Jerusalem.

The number of victims is generally believed to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254, out of a village that numbered around 600 at the time.

The Deir Yassin massacre was led by the Irgun group, whose head was future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, with support from other paramilitary groups Haganah and Lehi whose primary aim was to push Palestinians out through force.
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Records of the massacre describe Palestinian homes blown up with residents inside, and families shot down as they attempted to flee.
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The massacre came in spite of Deir Yassin resident’s efforts to maintain positive relations with new Jewish neighbors, including the signing of pact that was approved by Haganah, a main Zionist paramilitary organization during the British Mandate of Palestine.
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An Israeli psychiatric hospital now lies on the ruins of Deir Yassin, the remainder of which was reportedly bulldozed in the 1980s to make way for Jewish housing and incorporated as a neighborhood of Jerusalem. Streets of the neighborhood hold names of Irgun militiamen who carried out the massacre.
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The massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of attacks on countless Palestinian villages, part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups to strike fear into local Palestinians in hopes that the ensuing terror would lead to an Arab exodus, to ensure only Jews were left in the “Jewish state.”
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Thus the attack on Deir Yassin took place a month before the UN Partition Plan was expected to be carried out, and was part of reasons later given by neighboring Arab states for their intervention in Palestine.
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The combination of forced expulsion and flight that the massacres — what would later become known among Palestinians as the Nakba, or catastrophe — precipitated left around 750,000 Palestinians as refugees abroad. Today their descendants number more than five million, and their right to return to Palestine is a central political demand.
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The anniversary of the deadly razing of the village comes as modern day Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank continue to fight for their livelihood in the face of illegal Israeli settlement expansion, widespread detention campaigns, extrajudicial executions by Israeli forces, and a surge in housing demolitions — most recently leaving 124 Palestinians homeless in a single day.
The 97 known victims of the Deir Yassin Massacre committed by Zionist Terrorist  in Palestine

The 97 known victims of the Deir Yassin Massacre committed by Zionist Terror in Palestine

FROM

TOOSDAY’S TOONS ~~ THE MERCHANT OF CAIRO

Images by Carlos Latuff

Cartoon of the Day: al-Sisi, Merchant of Cairo

Cartoon of the Day: al-Sisi, Merchant of Cairo

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Cartoon of the Day: Saudi King Salman visit to Egypt See THIS

Cartoon of the Day: Saudi King Salman visit to Egypt
See THIS

SAVE OUR CHILDREN BY SUPPORTING BDS

Don’t buy Israeli products.

Don’t allow Israeli firms to operate in your respective country.

Don’t invest in Israel. 

This is the very least you could do to save the Palestinian people from the clutches of diabolical Zionism.

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To the Peoples of the world: Please don’t kill our children 

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

In the past few months, especially since the beginning of the current wave of Palestinian resistance against Israel’s enduring brutal military occupation, about six months ago, the Israeli army and other security forces adopted a decidedly murderous policy against Palestinians, especially children. 

A shoot-to-kill policy was adopted by the Israeli political and military leadership, apparently for the purpose of terrorizing and “deterring” the Palestinian populace.   Consequently, dozens of young Palestinians were needlessly murdered on the streets of the West Bank on the pretext that some of the victims may have put the life of Israeli soldiers at risk. 

In some incidents, soldiers fired additional bullets at the heads of the already completely “neutralized” Victims. 

In the Israeli army lexicon, this is done for the purpose of verifying their death. 

The gruesome killings leave no doubt as to the nefarious behavior of the murderous soldiers. 

Israel has no credible justice system when it comes to dealing with the Palestinians. 

Jewish religious laws don’t ascribe real humanity to non-Jews in general. This disgusting mindset is applied to the fullest when dealing with the Palestinians. 

Occasionally, Israel does some PR work to mitigate anger wit regard to a specific crime that had its way to the world media, especial the social media. 

Israeli Hasbara would cite alleged extenuating circumstances such as claiming the murdering soldiers were under mental pressure, thought they were about to get killed or didn’t really intend to murder the Palestinian victim!! 

However, when protests get quieter and the specific crime fades away from memory, the specific murderer is shamelessly exonerated of any wrong-doing, celebrated as a hero, and given citations for valor. 

This shows that that Israel effectively encourages its soldiers to murder innocent Palestinians on the spot if there is the slightest suspicion that they might be planning to hurl a stone toward the soldiers or stab them with a small and virtually innocuous kitchen knife. 

In many verified instances, the murderous soldiers hastened to place a knife they carry with them, near the already murdered Palestinian lying on the ground. 

The purpose of this criminal behavior is to give the impression that the victim had sought to stab and kill Israelis. 

More to the point, Soldiers patrolling the streets of the West Bank receive hair-raising instructions, illustrating the evilness and brutal ugliness of the Israeli mentality. 

They are commanded to shoot first and ask questions later. . Of course we can all imagine how a young soldier would behave vis-à-vis the Palestinians, having been indoctrinated in school and synagogue that the life of a non-Jew in general and a Palestinian in particular has no sanctity because, according to the Talmud, he is not a bona fide human being.” 

Such soldiers are raised to be “Born to kill murderers.” That is why they murder children and innocent civilians without the slightest compunctions. They even would celebrate the murder with their comrades and superiors! 

As to the victim, he or she is treated as another number rather than a human being. 

Not only that, his home is often demolished in the quiet hours before dawn, relatives arrested and harassed. Israel has even threatened to deport families of Palestinians involved in the current mini-intifada to the Gaza Strip or elsewhere. The timeless principle of “innocent until proven guilty” has no existence in Israel, especially as far as Palestinians are concerned. 

Today, Israel is having a free season on helpless and unprotected Palestinians. Israel is ganging up on the Palestinians in what seems to be slow-motion annihilation. 

I am not saying that Israel is carrying a holocaust similar to the German holocaust 70 years ago. 

But even the German holocaust lasted for 3 years whereas the Palestinian plight has been going on for nearly 70 years. 

By the end of the Second World War, the West rose up to help the Jews by establishing a state for them at the expense of the native Palestinians. 

However, the international community is effectively abandoning the Palestinian people, granting evil Zionism a carte blanch to further torment the Palestinians and uproot them from their own ancestral homeland. 

This is why the peoples of the world must intensify their boycott and sanctions against the apartheid entity. 

So, we say to the peoples of the world, in all solemnity and seriousness: 

Don’t buy Israeli products.

Don’t allow Israeli firms to operate in your respective country.

Don’t invest in Israel. 

This is the very least you could do to save the Palestinian people from the clutches of diabolical Zionism. 

We are not making this outcry because we are anti-Jewish, God forbid. 

We are making these modest demands because buying Israeli products and doing business with Israel enable the apartheid entity to have more bullets to kill our children. 

Please, don’t kill our children.

YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS RACISM IN ISRAEL

Some 49 percent of Israeli Jews told Israel’s Channel 2 that they would not live in the same building as Arab families, compared to 42 percent who said they would be willing. Nine percent said they were not sure.

report-card

49% of Israelis Wouldn’t Live in Apartment Building With Arabs 

While most Israelis oppose separation of Jews and Arabs in hospitals, nearly half of Israeli Jews would not live in the same apartment building as an Arab family, a survey found.

Some 49 percent of Israeli Jews told Israel’s Channel 2 that they would not live in the same building as Arab families, compared to 42 percent who said they would be willing. Nine percent said they were not sure.

The survey broadcast on Saturday comes after Jewish Home lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich said last week that Arab and Jewish mothers in Israel’s maternity wards should be placed in separate rooms. His statement followed an Israel Radio report that some Israeli hospitals acquiesce to requests to separate Arab and Jewish patients.

Eighty-two percent of Jewish-Israeli respondents said they would let an Arab doctor treat them, while 13 percent said they would not.

Some 34 percent of Jewish respondents said they supported segregation between Jewish and Arab women in hospital maternity wards, and 61 percent said they should not be separated.

The survey was conducted on April 7 among 505 Hebrew-speaking respondents.

From the archives ….. my own personal experience …

REMAX AND RACISM (IT’S NOT ONLY THE RABBIS)

I live near the university in Jerusalem in a fairly mixed and tolerant neighborhood. Most of the residents here own there own apartment, but there is a sprinkling of renters as well. Many of the renters are students who pile themselves into the flats opting out of taking up residence in the university dorms.
 
Having a spare room, I always rented it out to students. That’s how the following saga began about fifteen years ago….. I ‘dared’ to rent out a room to an Arab law student. I am not what you could call your ‘normal’ landlord, you live in my home, you become part of my family. A simple fact of my way of life. This case was no different, in fact let me give a little background info as to how this came about…
 
Fifteen years ago a neighbour came rushing down to my apartment to inform me that my solar boiler on the roof was leaking. I ran up to check it out and sure enough, she was right. I went out to the front of the building to see if water was running down the side. In front of my window two young men were sitting on the grass reading the newspaper. I greeted them and we started talking, one lived in the building next door, the other in the university dorms. I invited them in for coffee and when they told me their names I realised that they were both Palestinians, one was Hassan, the other was Azmi.
 
Azmi turned out to be a most interesting young man and a friendship was sparked, one that has lasted through two intifadas and much turmoil in the country we live in. About a month after we met I found a note on my door when I returned home from work … it simply said, ‘please call me’, which I did. Azmi wanted to know if he could come over to discuss something. He arrived and was silent…. I told him I thought he wanted to discuss something. He replied that he did, but it was a stupid idea that wouldn’t work. I insisted that he let me be the judge of that, so he proceeded…. he said that the school term was over and he had to move out of the dorms. Although he knew me for such a short period he had the idea that we might be able to live together in the same apartment…. but ended the thought with “but I know that would be impossible…. you are a Jew, I am a Muslim, these things just don’t happen”. I looked at him with a look that said “that’s ridiculous”! I told him that the only problem of him moving in with me was that I would not be his landlord, he would become a son to me. He had no problem with that and before the sun set that day he was all moved in.
 
This is not to say that others didn’t have problems…. not all of my neighbours were that keen on having an Arab living in such proximity to them. The first indication of this was a visit from an upstairs tenant. She heard Arabic spoken in the hallway and wanted to know if I knew anything about it… I told her the Arabic was a language commonly spoken by Palestinians so it was probably people visiting someone in the building …. even more likely, visitors to someone that lives in my apartment. The neighbour was speechless, which was welcome considering the alternative.
 
Then the fun started…. the very basis for this post….
Azmi became a lawyer after graduation and set up a private practice in East Jerusalem. Lawyers get mail…. lots of mail, so his name was added to my mailbox. About a year later there was a knock at my door, it was a sales agent from Remax, a real estate company. She had a ‘problem’ and proceeded to tell me about it. There was an apartment for sale in my building and she was handling it, but because there was an Arab name on my mailbox, three prospective buyers refused to even enter the building to see the apartment. She requested that I do something about it, which I promised I would…. the very next day five other Palestinian families living in my building put their names on their mailboxes. Problem solved!
 
The nerve of that woman….. an employee of an American firm that franchises their operation in Israel attempting to get me to play racist …. no way no how! This was not the first incident of Remax’s role in the ethnic cleansing of Israel, another example can be seen in THIS link from an earlier post. My way of life is uncompromisable despite efforts by outfits such as Remax.
 
That wasn’t the end of my involvement with Remax … five years ago Azmi wanted to rent an apartment of his own for his growing family, a wife and three children. There was one for rent right above my apartment, an ideal situation for all of us. The rental was being handled by Remax. The manager of the local branch was not keen on getting the reputation of being the sole real estate company in the area that rents to Arabs. The only way they would agree to rent the premises to Azmi was if I agreed to have the lease put in my name, which we did. I guess we could have taken the firm to court and made a case out of that, but we wanted to remain in the same building as a family and so we did not make an issue of this.
 
I was reminded of all of the above because after 15 years, I had to have my solar boiler replaced today. This, just days after the latest tirade of rabbinical racism.  Nothing and no one can change my lifestyle and principles. Racism is as alien to me as those that spout it out. If no one listens, they are defeated …. AND THAT THEY WILL BE!
 
The rabbis threatened that “Anyone who sells (property to a non-Jew) must be cut off!!” , Remax endorsed that position years ago. As far as I am concerned, both are cut off from my way of life!
Hopefully others will follow our example, a road that can and will lead to a permanent peace in this Godforsaken land they call the ‘Holy Land’.
 

MONDAY’S TOON ~~ ANTI SEMITISM MY EYE!

Image by Carlos Latuff

An exclusive Latuff cartoon on Israel lobby outrage over Sanders’ comments on Israel’s 2014 massacre of Gaza civilians.

 Israel lobbyists distract from Gaza atrocities by accusing Bernie of anti-Semitism

Israel lobbyists distract from Gaza atrocities by accusing Bernie of anti-Semitism

Sanders Gets it Mostly Right on Gaza, but Cheerleaders for Israeli Brutality Attack Him Anyway

In an interview with the New York Daily News, a tabloid owned by ultra-Zionist multi-billionaire Mort Zuckerman, Sen. Bernie Sanders held forth on Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip. “My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been,” Sanders declared. He then overstated the civilian casualty toll, asserting that “over 10,000 people” were killed by Israel.

Sanders’ comments infuriated the pro-Israel lobby, provoking former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren to accuse him of a “blood libel,” referring to the false rumors of Jews kidnapping and cooking gentile babies  spread to justify pogroms and anti-Semitic repression. The Anti-Defamation League joined the festival of outrage, demanding Sanders apologize for his comments. When Sanders visited his childhood home in Brooklyn, he was met with protests by right-wing allies of the Israeli settler movement including New York State Assemblymember Dov Hikind, an unrepentant former member of the violent extremist Jewish Defense League.

While Israel lobbyists like Oren were determined to extract a display of contrition from the Democratic presidential challenger, it’s hard to imagine they would want to acknowledge the real toll of Israel’s 51-day-long assault, from the 551 children killed to the Associated Press’s finding that Israel killed 844 Palestinian civiliansin airstrikes on their homes to the fact that a whopping 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by Israeli violence.

Indeed, Sanders’ comments about the leveling of apartment houses and bombing of hospitals were absolutely accurate. When Israel shelled a UN-run shelter for displaced civilians in Gaza on August 2, 2014, US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki declared, “The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least 10 more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed.”

The pro-Israel lobby played a critical role in the blood-drenched assault on Gaza in 2014, ensuring full-throated political support from American lawmakers and military backing from the Obama administration. Its accusations of blood libel represent the height of moral hypocrisy. Israeli propagandists like Oren — who was an active, uniformed participant in Israel’s 2008-09 invasion of Gaza — point an accusing finger at Sanders with one hand, and pull the trigger on a besieged, occupied population with the other.

START THE WEEK WITH A NEW TOON ~~ THE ISLAMOPHOBIC COURTROOM

Image by Carlos Latuff

Toon of the Day: Double Standards in the Application of the Law

Toon of the Day: Double Standards in the Application of the Law

POTUS HOPEFUL STEALS, CHANGES AND TWEETS ONE OF OUR TOONS

The Original …

Image by Carlos Latuff

Original toon I made for Middle East Eye A candidate should know about copyright laws

Original toon I made for Middle East Eye.  A candidate should know about copyright laws

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The Trump Revision

Donald Trump on Friday retweeted a photoshopped political cartoon that was originally produced for Middle East Eye.

The aspiring Republican presidential candidate shared an image showing him wagging a finger towards Syrians fleeing war, telling them that they cannot enter the United States and stating: “Saudi Arabia has plenty of room for you.”

Trump’s tweet has since been re-shared nearly 4,000 times.

See the Twitter Page HERE

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Aside from the copyright issue, what’s more disgusting is changing the meaning of a toon about the Syrian refugee crisis for an anti-immigrant agenda

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Hillary wouldn’t dare do the same ….

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#PanamaPapers ~~ SNOWDEN CALLS ON CAMERON TO RESIGN

Image by Carlos Latuff

#PanamaPapers ~~ TOON OF THE DAY — AIRING THE LAUNDRY

Image by Carlos Latuff

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#IsraeliApartheid ~~ FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE

“It’s natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie next to someone whose baby son might want to murder my son.”

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GLEN_ApartheidIsrael

Far-Right Israeli Lawmaker Openly Backs Maternity Ward Apartheid

A far-right Israeli politician has been admonished by his party and roundly condemned by commentators after suggesting Jewish and Arab women should be separated in maternity wards in apartheid-style segregation.

Betzalel Smotrich, a 36-year-old member of parliament from the Jewish Home party, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, is an ultra-nationalist settler who is frequently outspoken on issues of religion and the Palestinians.

However, his comments on Monday went further than in the past, putting him at the fringe of the fringe and drawing censure from a wide spectrum of commentators as well as the head of his own party. He also received messages of support.

“My wife really isn’t a racist, but after giving birth she wants to rest and doesn’t want those mass parties that are the norm among the families of Arab women after birth,” Smotrich said on Twitter, joining a debate about hospital practices.

“It’s natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie next to someone whose baby son might want to murder my son,” he added.

Israel is in the midst of a fevered discussion over religion and identity that ultimately boils down to whether it can remain Jewish and democratic in the long-run.

At the same time, the failure of decades of effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and a months-long campaign of violence targeting Jews has provoked anger and frustration on both sides, with more incendiary, racist language.

A survey by the Pew Research Center last month underlined the growing divisions, both among Jews and between Jews and Israel’s 20 percent Arab population. Nearly half of the Israeli Jews surveyed said they were in favor of expelling Arabs from Israel.

Smotrich has in the past referred to the need to separate from the Palestinians, a view shared by those in the ultra-nationalist-religious camp represented by Jewish Home.

But the party leader, Naftali Bennett, said Smotrich had gone too far, overstepping the boundaries in a country that sees itself as pluralistic and democratic, even if Jews and Arabs live very separate lives and Arabs complain of discrimination.

“The national camp is not hatred of Arabs,” Bennett said at a party conference, going on to quote from the Talmud, rabbinical writings that interpret the bible, about how all human beings – Jews and Arabs – are created equal.

“Everyone has a unique soul, a family, a desire to live in dignity,” he said. “We are opposed to divisive discourse among the people and hatred of the other.”

“BLATANT RACISM”

While Bennett’s words were largely emollient, perhaps in an effort to hold together his party, which has eight members in the Knesset but with different ideological streams, commentators of the left and the right were far less restrained.

Ben Caspit, writing in the popular Ma’ariv paper, said Smotrich and his supporters were akin to “Judeo-Nazis.”

“No, Smotrich is not a Nazi, but he is a Jew who has come as close as possible to this questionable title,” he wrote.

“A hair’s breadth away. He does not demand to set up concentration camps and to build gas chambers, but he does have a racist ideology.”

Politicians from the right, the center-right and the left offered similar condemnations, although Netanyahu stayed silent. Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament and a gynecologist, expressed his outrage.

“It is a blatant racist comment… and many Israelis are angry at Smotrich for holding the mirror of racism in front of them,” he told the Israeli news site Ynet.

“As a doctor, if Smotrich or his wife needed medical help from me, I would give it without hesitation. I have treated many racists in the past.”

On social media, Smotrich received support from those in the ultra-nationalist-religious camp who share his views. But his wife, Revital, gave him the clearest backing.

“It isn’t pleasant for me to lie next to Arab women,” she told Israel’s Channel 10 television, referring to her experiences giving birth in hospital. Asked if she would have a problem if an Arab doctor delivered her baby, she replied: “The moment of birth is a sacred moment, a pure moment. It’s a moment that is very Jewish. I’d be very pleased if Jewish hands were to touch my baby the moment it enters the world.”

#BDS ~~ WHY THE CULTURAL BOYCOTT IS GROWING

Israeli government is no “Champion” of freedom of expression

Over 100 Writers, Including Pulitzer Winners Junot Díaz, Richard Ford, and Alice Walker, and Award-Winning Author Louise Erdrich, Call on PEN American Center to Reject Israeli Government Sponsorship

PEN Refusing to Drop Sponsorship, According to a
Letter to its Members

New York, NY, April 5, 2016 – In a letter made public today over 100 writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Junot Díaz, Richard Ford, and Alice Walker, and award-winning author Louise Erdrich, have called on the PEN American Center “to reject support from the Embassy of Israel” for PEN’s annual World Voices Festival. The seven-day Festival takes place from April 25 to May 1 in New York City. In promotional materials, PEN lists the Israeli Embassy as among the “Champions” of the Festival, and as a sponsor of one of the Festival’s panels.

The letter asserts, “It is deeply regrettable that the Festival has chosen to accept sponsorship from the Israeli government, even as it intensifies its decades-long denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people, including the frequent targeting of Palestinian writers and journalists.” The letter was sent to PEN privately on March 29 by Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, with 62 individual and 11 organizational signatories. The list of signers has since grown to more than 100 individuals.

In addition to Díaz, Erdrich, Ford and Walker, other prominent writers who have signed the letter include Palestinian writer Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh, whose imprisonment without charge by the Israeli government was criticized by PEN International; writer and activistAngela Davis; American writers Russell Banks, Deborah Eisenberg and poet Eileen Myles; Palestinian-American novelists Susan Abulhawa and Randa Jarrar; former President and Vice President of English PEN Gillian Slovo and Kamila Shamsie; Egyptian British author Ahdaf Soueif; and South African writers Dr. Don Materra,Ronnie Kasrils and Breyten Breytenbach. Thirteen participants at the World Voices Festival have signed the letter, including Laura Flanders, Saleem Haddad, Laila Lalami, Solmaz Sharif, Yuri Herrera, Jordan Camp, Christina Heatherton, Arun Kundnani, Maaza Mengiste, Burhan Sönmez, Francisco Goldman, Jennif(f)er Tamayo, andLinh Dinh. Two other participants signed the letter and withdrew from the Festival.

Author Alice Walker commented, ”I signed the letter because, as a PEN member, I want this organization that is supposed to be a champion of writers’ rights to stand up for Palestinian writers, academics, and students who are suffering under a repressive Israeli regime that denies their right to freedom of expression. The last thing PEN should be doing is partnering with and promoting a government that denies Palestinians basic human rights.”

The letter is the latest effort to expose Brand Israel, a government public relations initiative launched in 2005 that uses cultural productions to distract from Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights. Following a major Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009, the deputy director general for cultural affairs at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairsexplained to The New York Times, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits… This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”

A few hours after the letter was sent to PEN American Center, the organization emailedsome of its members, justifying its decision to maintain Israeli government funding by citing a policy against subscribing “to cultural boycotts of any kind” and the need to “promote dialogue.”

“Even if PEN opposes all forms of boycotts, PEN should have policies and ethical standards in place forbidding partnerships with significant human rights abusers,” saidMarilyn Hacker, Recipient of PEN Voelcker Award for Poetry and PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. “On that basis alone, PEN should rule out a partnership with the Israeli government.”

Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, added, “We are disappointed and concerned that PEN is choosing to stand with Israel’s repressive government rather than with a civil society initiative for freedom and human rights. PEN’s response avoided the issues we raised. We focused on PEN’s partnership with the Israeli government and explicitly said we are not calling to boycott or deny the freedom of expression of individual Israeli writers. For years, Palestinians have been told to engage in ‘dialogue,’ but the stronger party, Israel, has used ‘dialogue’ as a smoke screen behind which it ramps up repression and denies Palestinians’ their fundamental rights.”

Novelist Ru Freeman, editor of an anthology on Palestine, Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine, commented, “PEN American Center’s leadership has repeatedly tarnished the World Voices Festival by accepting the sponsorship of an occupying force that oppresses our Palestinian peers, and refused to speak out against that oppression. The board of PEN should recognize that this violates the foundational principles of the organization. PEN has the resources to fund the participation of Israeli writers—which we support—without compromising its principles by associating with an apartheid government.”

PEN American Center, the Festival organizer, is a US branch of the writers’ freedom of expression organization PEN International. In 2015, over 200 writers wrote to PEN American Center criticizing the organization’s decision to give a freedom of expression award to the magazine Charlie Hebdodue to its racist content. Controversy has also arisen in past years over Israeli government sponsorship of PEN’s World Voices Festival.

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