Bangalore Bandh

I’ve finally arrived in Bangalore about a week ago. I went directly to Ayurvedagram, about forty minutes outside the city, for a relaxing retreat filled with gorgeous Kerala-style homes (see photo gallery below), where one stays, receives treatment, dines, and does yoga and meditation. It was an amazing way to begin my stay here.

When I returned to Bangalore I decided to venture out in an auto rickshaw by myself to run a few errands and see the city (see photo gallery below). I’m struck by all of the amazing colors surrounding me in people’s clothes and on Hindu temples, of course, but also the colors of homes and other buildings. It is also more green than I had imagined, especially given the size and population density of the city.  As I travel around and through this city most of the land seems to be occupied by either the Indian army (Bangalore was a garrison town for the British when they colonized India) or various foreign (and largely American) churches, which are actively proselytizing Indians, and as a result, are eroding the cultural landscape and traditional practices.  It’s like there are visible remnants from the colonial days of the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other. You can see this in various ways just in my neighborhood: the pork shop across the street from the mosque; the use of names like Nazareth (see photo below with name on house gate), Hebron, and even shalom, by evangelical Christians. I think I’ve seen even more churches in the past couple of days than I did when I lived in Accra, Ghana, which is a bit surprising.

Since I moved into my new home, I have spent time getting settled, unpacking. But my first full day in my new house, Saturday, was also a day that I could not leave the house because there was a bandh (or a strike) in Bangalore over water issues between Karnataka (the state where I now call home) and the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.  Just like in my former home countries of Palestine (see MECA’s Maia Project on this), Jordan, and Lebanon, India, especially where I am located, has serious water issues. Vandana Shiva’s book Water Wars details some of these problems, and here she is in the film Blue Gold talking about water issues related to another problem, which is Coca-Cola’s pollution of water sources in India:

Karnataka seems to be doing some interesting things to combat this problem of water shortage, including legislating that people have to have some kind of rain water harvesting system in their homes. We have one here. But even that is not enough. There are several systems (in fact each sink has three sets of faucets) that are used in the house to access water from the ground water system (where our rain harvesting feeds into) or the delivered water to the tank, which only happens three days per week. It’s a complicated system that I haven’t fully figured out yet.

Yesterday I had lunch with my family at Cholayil Sanjeevanam, which is an amazing Kerala-based Ayurvedic restaurant. If you click the above link and go to their Facebook page you’ll see photographs of the amazing lunch, called rajakeeyam, but the image below gives you an idea of the menu and the rationale behind it.

After the fabulous, delicious lunch we went to the Sunday farmer’s market, which is quite large (more photos in gallery below) and fruits and vegetables we brought home were divine.

on why coca cola should be boycotted (and no pepsi, etc. is not any better)

there was a great article about bds by sousan hammad in counterpunch last month, which begins with a great fanon quote and engages in an important analysis of the psychological complications involved when trying to educate palestinians about bds:

“An underdeveloped people must prove, by its fighting power, its ability to set itself up as a nation, and by the purity of every one of its acts, that it is, even to the smallest detail, the most lucid, the most self-controlled people.”

–Frantz Fanon, “A Dying Colonialism”

There is an echoing sentiment here in Ramallah that Israeli milk is more “tasteful” and “nutritious” than Palestinian milk. The same goes for wine, apples, dates, juice, and just about everything else…except for maybe olives. In fact, Palestinian shopkeepers even stock Israeli-made milk at the front of their store while Palestinian milk sits in a far-to-reach crate collecting dust in the corner.

Palestinians do this for two reasons: one is they truly believe their senses, the other, and possibly more understanding, is because selling Israeli products yield a much higher profit.

A recent study by the Swiss Development Center, an organization that aims to promote Palestinian products, found that Palestinians within the higher socioeconomic strata tend to buy more Israeli goods than those in the lower strata. In French colonial-Martinique, mothers would sing to their children in French instead of their native language because it was more “civilized” to speak the colonizer’s language.

Appropriating the colonialist brand seems to imply prestige – a product, perhaps, of the inferiority complex – but if you push this aside as a psychological epiphenomenon that is a result of colonialism and consider the economic dependency Palestinians are forced to live with, one way to overcome the subjugation of the colonialist-settler (thus racist and discriminatory) policies would be to boycott Israeli products. Besides forcing Palestinians to consume their own products, it would promote and develop a domestic industry and manufactured goods. If it takes a pyramid to list all the nutritional benefits of Palestinian produce, then onward with the label! Whatever it may be, the Palestinians must ascertain that they can have a functioning society without being indebted to Israel.

This is, essentially, what the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is about. Using Apartheid South Africa as a model, a coalition of Palestinian groups felt compelled to combat Israel’s economic power over Palestine, and, in 2005 the BDS movement was created.

Besides placing political pressure on corporations to divest from Israel, BDS focuses strongly on its consumer boycott efforts, which according to the BDS website, is to put “pressure on companies whose exports are linked to some of the most evident aspects of the Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

One of the many campaigns of BDS is to target stores that sell Israeli products and persuade them to stop stocking them. While much of the campaign is based on Israel’s exports to the West, activists here in the West Bank also try to deter Palestinian shopkeepers from selling produce that is grown in Israeli settlements. (Again, these yield more profit for Palestinians.) It is highly unlikely, though, that Palestinians will collectively and instantaneously dump their Israeli products for Palestinian manufactured goods and produce because an activist tells them so. They want to know if there is proof of sustainability.

A BDS Victory

Enter the story of Veolia and the light rail.

In 1902, Theodore Herzl wrote in his book, Altneuland, that the future of Jerusalem would be made of “modern neighborhoods with electric lines, tree-lined boulevards” and that Jerusalem would become “a metropolis of the 20th century”.

Materialized a century later as the Jerusalem light rail project, the father of Zionism’s idea of an electric-lined-boulevard is halfway in construction. When, and if, completed, the light rail will conveniently accommodate Jewish-Israelis, connecting West Jerusalem to Jewish settlements. The light rail travels through Palestinian neighborhoods, but makes no stops and as one Israeli blogger put it “…all the windows have been reinforced to be resistant to stones and Molotov cocktails.”

But officials are now facing a major setback: In June, Ha’aretz reported that Veolia, a French transportation company that was to operate the light rail post-construction, abandoned the project because of the “political pressure” it was facing: a direct implication of the BDS “Derail Veolia and Alstom Campaign”.

Said an exultant Omar Barghouti, a BDS founding member:

“Veolia’s reported intention to withdraw from the illegal JLR project gives the BDS movement an important victory: success in applying concerted, intensive pressure on a company that is complicit in the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, enough to compel it to withdraw from an illegal project. This may well usher in a new era of corporate accountability, whereby companies that are profiting from Israel’s illegal colonial and racist regime over the indigenous people of Palestine will start to pay a real price in profits and image for their collusion.”

The pressure from human rights activists and lawyers throughout Europe battered Veolia, costing it multiple contracts – a loss that amounted to more than $7 billion. From Stockholm to Bordeaux, companies dumped Veolia on account of its stake in a project that violates international law. Veolia, along with Alstom – the engineering enterprise behind the light rail – were taken to a French court by Association France-Palestine Solidarité along with attorneys from the PLO legal counsel. AFPS filed the complaint against Alstom and Veolia in 2007, arguing that the 8.3-mile project violates international law since East Jerusalem is not sovereign Israeli territory. “Our main argument is that the light rail project is intended to serve illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and thus it’s part of illegal settlement infrastructure and by being involved in project, the French companies are violating international law,” says Azem Bishara, an attorney with the Negotiation Support Unit in Ramallah.

When the Arab League organized a boycott of Israel after its colonization of Palestine in 1948, Arab countries refused to deal with Israel by boycotting their products, services and even refusing to allow Israelis into their country. Lebanon and Syria are the only countries that allegedly adhere to the boycott today, as they have yet to sign trade agreements with Israel. The Israeli Chamber of Commerce reported Israel was losing an average of 10 percent in export revenue per year when the boycott was in its prime. This spearheaded the fight by the American Jewish Committee to pressure Congress to pass an anti-boycott legislation. In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter, who now advocates the window-dressing of Palestinian national independence, signed a law that would impose a fine on American companies that cooperated with the boycott.

It seems safe to assume that this legislative effort by AJC indicated that it, at least, believed the Arab League boycott was having some effect.

Although it was with similar calculations and campaigning that U.S. and European companies pulled out of South Africa over 20 years ago, how do we know companies like Veolia won’t be targeted by anti-boycott Israeli investors? Whether or not Veolia goes through with its withdrawal, the question remains: is it really a victory? And how can an effective boycott promote economic independence so that Palestinian milk will no longer have to be in the dustbin of stores? These are questions the boycott campaign has to confront.

one of the products that is not mentioned in the above article is coca cola, which many palestinians insist is palestinian because the owner of the franchise is palestinian (zahi khoury) and because they bottle it in al bireh, which i’ve written about before. coca cola is one of the most evil companies in the world for so many reasons. but i was delighted to discover a wonderful critique of sonallah ibrahim’s novel the committee. ever since i read his novel zaat i became enamored with his politics and his writing style. i have been dying to read this novel for a while now and finally got around to it this week. (my form of escapism and procrastination all rolled into one delightful novel.) the egyptian narrator of the novel, who is under investigation by an anonymous, foreign, non-Arabic speaking committee described as “consist[ing] entirely of officers, some of whom sometimes wear civilian clothes, or it consists of civilians, some of whom sometimes wear military uniforms,” (111) to whom he reveals the following:

Since its advent, Coca-Cola has been linked with the major trends of the age, sometimes sharing to a large extent in their formation. The American pharmacist Pemberton synthesized it in Atlanta, famous as the capital of Georgia, the birthplace of the American president Carter and of the notorious Ku Klux Klan. This was during 1886, the very year in which the famous Statue of Liberty, that symbol of the New World, was completed.

As for the bottle, it was one product of an American “war of liberation.” Having vanquished the Indians, the United States plunged into the Spanish-American War in Cuba, which ended in 1899, with the proclamation of “independence” for Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. An American soldier, who, coincidentally, had the same name as the great American philosopher of the preceding century, Benjamin Franklin, saw a bottle of a carbonated beverage made from banana syrup. On returning home, he obtained bottling rights for a new product. The bottle’s shape varied until it finally stabilized in the universally recognized form of “a girl with an hourglass figure.”

It may have been Coca-Cola that first shattered the traditional image of the ad, previously a mere description of a product. Thus it laid the cornerstone of that towering structure, that leading art of the age, namely, advertising. Certainly, it broke the long-standing illusion of a relationship between thirst and heat through the slogan: “Thirst knows no season.” It was ahead of its time in the use of radio and neon for advertisements. it sponsored television shows, produced films, and backed new international stars and idols such as actors, the Beatles, and the pioneers of rock and roll, the twist, and pop.

Coca-Cola went through two world wars and emerged from them victorious. It sold five billion bottles during the seven years of World War II. Then it slipped into Europe under the wing of the Marshall Plan, which backed the war-weakened European currencies by means of American products and loans.

It then took its place as a leading consumer product along with Ford cars, Parker pens, Ronson lighters, but still kept its finger on the pulse of today’s ever-changing world. With the advent of the great age of installment plans, and neighbor competing with neighbor for the newest model car with the largest trunk, capable of holding enough groceries to fill the largest fridge, Coca-Cola marketed the family-sized bottle, the “Maxi.”

When the United States cooperated in a new “war of liberation” in Korea, Coca-Cola created the tin can, in order to parachute Coke to the troops. The image of an American opening a can with his teeth has become a symbol of manhood and bravery. However, the can’s importance is not limited to this image or the way in which it displaced the bottle during the subsequent Vietnam War, but is outweighed by something more significant. It inaugurated the age of the “empty”: a container to be discarded after its contents have been consumed.

Without doubt, the success of Coca-Cola goes back primarily to the excellence of the organizational structure it pioneered: the pyramid. The original company comprises the tip, and the independent bottlers and distributors come below it, forming the base. At first, this unique structure enabled it to obtain the necessary financing to saturate the American market. Later, it helped the company avoid Roosevelt’s campaign against monopolies and finally allowed Coca-Cola to infiltrate the world. In opening world markets, the company relied on establishing independent franchises headed by well-known local capitalists in every country. This practice produced astounding results. Most strikingly, the American bottle came to symbolize indigenous nationalism. (19-22)

coca-cola is a metaphor for colonialism, corruption, and consumption in the novel. and he shows precisely how deviously coca-cola (like all foreign franchises of american products) works to make people think that it is somehow “indigenous” because the product is produced locally. even though that product always has to send proceeds home to the u.s., and then, of course, they send them directly back to the zionist entity for investment (see post i linked to earlier on this). ibrahim shows how coca-cola came to invade egypt later in the novel:

As you have learned, your honors, this bottle entered our country at the end of the ’40s and beginning of the ’50s under the aegis of the vast advertising campaign that facilitated its spread to even the most remote villages and hamlets. Coca-Cola became a household word.

After the revolution, Coca-Cola’s popularity soon began to wane. I found out that the Doctor, among other factors, was responsible. To wit, he tried to compete by using a local beverage destined to succeed only for a short while.

However, the crushing blow fell at the beginning of the ’60s, when the Arab governmental agencies boycotting Israel discovered that Coca-Cola had given the Israelis bottling rights. As a result, Coca-Cola was blacklisted and barred from Arab countries. The market was wide open for the Doctor. (73-74)

ibrahim’s narrator gets even more specific in his indictment of coca-cola towards the end of the novel:

Many obscure phenomena are linked to the evolution of this well-known beverage.

For example, I read of a far-reaching crusade launched in 1970 in the United States over the mis-treatment of a quarter million migrant workers on farms controlled by Coca-Cola. I mean farms, not factories. This crusade spread to television and from there to Congress. Senator Walter Mondale, at that time a member of the Committee for Migrant Workers, summoned the president of Coca-Cola to answer officially, before the United States Senate, the accusations leveled against Coca-Cola.

Not three years later, the president of Coca-Cola participated in selecting that same Mondale for membership in the Trilateral Commission I told you about in our first meeting. Then he selected him as vice president to President Carter.

At the same time as Coca-Cola was accused of the theft of a handful of dollars from its workers, we read that it dedicated vast sums for charitable and cultural works ranging from an entire university budget to an important prize for artistic and literary creativity. It also presented a huge grant to the Brooklyn Museum in 1977 to rescue Egyptian pharaonic antiquities from collapse.

Coca-Cola, according to statistics for 1978, distributes two hundred million bottles of soft drinks daily throughout the world, leaving tap water as its only rival. So, now we see it sponsoring projects for the desalinization of sea water, relying on the Aqua Chem Company that I bought a few years ago, in 1970 to be precise.

These contradictions confused me, so I did several studies on Coca-Cola. Its policy was to remain committed to the two basic principles set down by its great founders. The first principle was to make every participant in the Coca-Cola enterprise rich and happy. The second was to restrict its energies to creating a single commodity: the well-known bottle.

But the winds of change that blew in the early ’60s forced a choice between the principles. In order not to sacrifice the first, Coca-Cola preferred to diversify its products. It began by producing other types of carbonated beverages, then extended its interests to farming peanuts, coffee, and tea. It had extensive holdings int hat same state of Georgia where it was founded. its farms neighbored those of the American president Carter, which perhaps was behind its involvement in public affairs, both domestic and international, and thus its policy of diversification grew all out of proportion.

Obviously, this policy couldn’t help but be successful. In this regard, it is sufficient to mention the return of the familiar bottle to both China and Egypt through the initiative in both countries of brave patriots, who acted on their principles.

However, this success produced a strange phenomenon. With modern methods and lower production costs gained by relying on poorly paid migrant workers, Coca-Cola became the largest producer of fresh fruit in the Western world. But, sadly, it found itself forced to dump a large portion of the yield into the sea to keep the world market from collapsing.

There was no solution to this problem except to continue diversifying. Coca-Cola exploited its great assets and expertise in the field of agriculture by sponsoring many nutritional programs in underdeveloped countries, among them a project to farm legumes in Abou Dhabi, undertaken by its subsidiary, Aqua Chem. Likewise, it extensively researched the production of drinks rich in proteins and other nutrients, thereby compensating consumers for the surpluses it had been forced to dump in the ocean. (124-127)

there is so much more to the novel, but i especially love the extended commentary on the evil, insidious inner workings of coke. and, of course, which was one of the first companies to move into occupied iraq and occupied afghanistan? coca cola. here is an article on coca cola’s war profiteering in afghanistan from 2006:

Coca-Cola has returned to war-torn Afghanistan with a gleaming $25m factory, calling the country a ‘missing link’ in its international business.

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai opened the 60,000sq-metre Coca-Cola bottling plant in capital city Kabul, more than a decade after civil war forced the soft drinks group out of the country.

It is a controversial and risky move for Coca-Cola at a time when violence directed against NATO forces in the country, including American soldiers, appears in danger of spiralling out of control.

Coca-Cola’s Kabul plant will be operated under franchise by local businessman Habib Gulzar, and is expected to focus on core carbonated soft drink brands such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite. Bottled water could be added in the future.

Selcuk Erden, president of Coca-Cola’s Southern Eurasia division, which will oversee Afghanistan, said: “Afghanistan was the missing link in our geography and we were following this country very carefully.”

The group said the country had the potential to be a strong emerging market for its drinks.

Critics have suggested Coca-Cola is not what Afghans really need right now.

Afghanistan is ranked as the fifth poorest country in the world by the United Nations. “The depth of poverty in Afghanistan is reflected consistently in all human development indicators, revealing a mosaic of a nation in need of sustained assistance,” a recent UN development report says.

and here is an article on coca cola’s war profiteering in iraq from the guardian by rory carroll:

Coca-Cola has returned to Iraq after an absence of nearly four decades, triggering a cola war in a lucrative but potentially hostile market.

Coke ended its 37-year exile last week by setting up a joint-venture bottling company to compete with Pepsi for 26 million consumers.

The upsides for Coke include a thirst-inducing climate and burgeoning Islamic conservatism which has banned beer and other alcoholic drinks in much of the country.

The downsides, besides Pepsi’s head start, are a raging insurgency and banditry which threaten supply routes, and a perception that Coca-Cola is linked to Israel and “American Zionists”.

Coke withdrew from Iraq in 1968 when the Arab League declared a boycott because of business ties to Israel, leaving Pepsi to dominate the Middle East market for soft drinks. The boycott ended in 1991, but sanctions and wars kept Coke out of Iraq.

After a trickle of Coca-Cola imports from neighbouring countries, the company is attempting a proper comeback by launching a joint venture with a Turkish company, Efes Invest, and its Iraqi partner HMBS, which will reportedly bottle the Coke in Dubai and distribute it across Iraq.

“A local bottling company will employ local people to do this,” a Coca-Cola spokesman said yesterday. “This happens in most of the 200 countries in which we operate around the world, despite the perception of us as an American company.”

The response in Baghdad yesterday was mixed. One drink wholesaler, Abbas Salih, said the initiative was doomed. “Coca-Cola does business with those who are shooting our brothers in Palestine,” he said. “How can we drink it?”

when i was searching for material on why coca cola is evil i stumbled upon this great article from 2004 that i had never found that encapsulates the numerous reasons why one should boycott coca cola by mohammed mesbahi, which is long, but well worth the read for its variety of issues (health, environmental, political, etc.):

Coca Cola was invented in the United States in 1886 as a medicine, rather than a drink, to stimulate the brain and the nervous system, from a mixture of coca leaves and kola nuts, sweetened with sugar, hence the name Coca Cola. It was not until 1893 that Coca Cola was sold and promoted as a drink. Gradually the cocaine was eliminated, but in order to maintain the stimulant effect caffeine was substituted.

Phosphoric acid (0.055%) is now added to increase the fizziness and zingy taste. This gives the drink a pH of 2.8, making it almost as acidic as lemon juice (pH 2.2), which is why more sugar has to be added in order for it to taste sweet. Weak acidic solutions will dissolve the calcium in teeth over a period of time and will also interfere with calcium metabolism. This is especially of concern to post-menopausal women, who are already have a tendency towards osteoporosis.

Stimulants and sugar are habit forming, and Coca Cola contains large quantities of both. It is now sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is a simple carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are divided into two broad categories:

simple carbohydrates,

e.g. glucose,

fructose (fruit sugar),

lactose (milk sugar),

sucrose (table sugar) etc.

complex carbohydrates,

e.g. starch

cellulose

High fructose corn syrup is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose and then processing the glucose to produce a high proportion (80%) of fructose. This is not natural fructose, as found in fruit, since fruit usually contains 50% fructose, 50% glucose and is absorbed into the blood stream slowly, because the fruit also contains high levels of fibre. The fructose in high fructose corn syrup is absorbed into the body rapidly and transformed into glucose by the liver. There is currently some concern surrounding the consumption of high levels of fructose because it seems to interfere with copper metabolism and with the formation of collagen and elastin, essential components of the growing body.

When we eat (or drink) a high dose of sugar (sucrose, glucose or fructose) our blood glucose level rises suddenly, producing a feeling of elation. However high blood glucose levels also stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, which causes the glucose to be removed from the blood stream and converted into fat. This results in low blood sugar, low energy, irritability and low mood. At this point, we crave the feeling of elation associated with the sugar. This is why soft drinks are habit forming.

When, on the other hand, we eat complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread, pasta, rice etc., the body breaks down these complex molecules gradually, over a period of several hours, into molecules of glucose. This glucose is released into the blood stream gradually, thus maintaining blood glucose at the level required by the body and brain for proper functioning.

Putting high quantities of sugar into drinks is an insidious way of introducing calories into people. People eating a chocolate bar are aware that they are consuming something fattening. People, especially children, consuming the same amount of calories in a drink are not. Regular consumption of drinks containing high levels of sugar lead to a gradual build up of stored fat and contribute to the rising levels of obesity in the West. Over-consumption of sugar causes over-stimulation of the pancreas. Over a period of many years, the pancreas loses its ability to produce adequate quantities of insulin. This leads to late-onset diabetes. Levels of late-onset diabetes have been rising steadily in the West over the past century.

Coca Cola, one of the world’s largest corporations, worth about ninety five billion dollars, owes much of its success to the massive marketing and advertising used to promote the product. It became a corporation early in the twentieth century and immediately began an aggressive advertising campaign throughout the US. The corporation used some advertising techniques of dubious morality, including funding the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry and suppressing a World Health Organisation Report on healthy eating. The report stated that soft drink consumption contributed to obesity. But possibly the policy which caused the most public outrage was that of paying schools to sell Coca Cola in vending machines. The corporation realised that if they could sell Coca Cola to children, by the time they finished school they would become confirmed Coca Cola drinkers and would continue to buy the drink for the rest of their lives. This strategy was so successful that Coca Cola rapidly became the most popular drink in the US.

Long before the US market had become saturated, the corporation decided to target the next place with money to spend on drinks, i.e. Europe, where they now sell thirty percent of their product. Vending machines in schools soon became common place, despite opposition from concerned parents and teachers. Under-funded state schools found it difficult to refuse the money offered by Coca Cola.

The imposition of permanent advertising in schools, in the form of vending machines, certainly justifies a boycott, and indeed some schools have organised them, in protest against the Corporation’s monopoly of products sold in school vending machines. Groups at Universities in the US and the UK are also running boycotts in protest against Coke’s human rights abuses. Berkeley, New York University, Harvard, Yale, Rutgers, Macalister and University College Dublin all have ongoing boycotts.

Coca Cola has a history of human rights abuse. “It is a fact that the soft drinks giant from Atlanta, Georgia collaborated with the Nazi-regime throughout its reign from 1933 – 1945 and sold countless millions of bottled beverages to Hitler’s Germany.” From Coca-Cola Goes to War, Jones E and Ritzman F.

While the corporation, back in the USA, was promoting Coca Cola as a morale booster for the US troops, their German representative, Max Keith was sponsoring Nazi events, including the 1936 Olympics and situating advertisements close to Nazi leaders at rallies. Sales of Coke in Germany went from zero in 1929 to 4 million cases in 1939. Coke became the most popular drink in Germany and in 1944 the company sold 2 million cases. When the Nazis began their invasions of Italy, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Norway Walter Oppenhof, Coca Cola’s German company lawyer, and Max Keith were employed by the Nazis’ Office of Enemy Property. They travelled with Nazi troops and were responsible for setting up Nazi Coca-Cola factories in expropriated soft drinks plants in countries occupied by the Nazis. They staffed these factories with kidnapped civilians. (See: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CLASS/AM483_95/projects/coke/coke.html ).

But Coca Cola’s association with fascist regimes is not confined to world war history.

In the 1970s workers at Coca Cola bottling factories in Guatemala were killed, in the 1980s Coke supported the Apartheid system in South Africa and in the 1990s they supported the brutal Abacha regime in Nigeria.

Currently SINAL TRAINAL, the Colombian workers’ union is promoting a world wide boycott in order to raise awareness of the intimidation, torture, kidnapping, illegal detention and murder of workers in the Coca Cola bottling plants in Colombia.

On the other side of the world, in several South Indian states, including Kerala and Tamil Nadu, boycotts have been running for years, despite police repression, in protest against Coca Cola’s excessive water consumption, pollution of local wells and destruction of agriculture. The Corporation’s bottling factories have been pumping water from boreholes at such a rate that they have dried up the underground aquifers. They have also been distributing the sludge produced by the factory as fertilizer. It is true that this sludge does contain substances which fertilize the soil, but Exeter University analysed it for the Kerala Pollution Control Board and found that it contained dangerously high levels of toxic metals, including cadmium. These toxic metals leach into the ground water and are taken up by crops and therefore ingested by the local population. After the BBC aired a programme about this, Coca Cola was forced to stop dumping their toxic waste on the local population, but nothing was done to clean up the already polluted environment. The protest and boycott in India continue.

The Coca Cola Corporation owns four of the world’s most popular five soft drinks: Coca Cola, diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite.

Over the past five years, Coca Cola Corporation has realised that, as water resources dwindle worldwide, even more money can be made from selling bottled water. Their sales of water are growing exponentially. Brands include Bonaqua, Dasani (US) Kinley (India), Mount Franklin (Australia) Malvern (UK) and Ciel (Mexico), but soft drinks still account for 85% of their market (at the moment). They plan to expand massively in the bottled water market but most of their advertising will go into promotion of soft drinks. Soon Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle will be the three main corporations selling bottled water, an iniquitous market, often depriving people of their local source of spring water, and selling it back to them at unaffordable prices.

Max Keiser, investment activist, and Zak Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist, have formed a partnership to target Coca Cola by bringing down the value of its shares. Keiser has developed a system for measuring a corporation’s vulnerability to a boycott. He calls it the Karmabanque (KbQ) Index. The KbQ index 2004 tracks the share price of high-performing but socially and environmentally irresponsible corporations, assuming their shares had been sold short on the 1 January 2004. A short sale is a bet that a trader makes that a company’s share price will fall. The further the company’s share price falls, the more money the trader makes. Selling short stocks hurts corporations because it deflates their share price. The KbQ rating determines where a company appears in the index, and combines the amount of dissent directed at a company and its boycott vulnerability ratio (BVR). A company’s BVR indicates how susceptible its stock price is to a consumer boycott. In order to work out a corporation’s vulnerability, its market capitalization should be divided by trailing annual sales. Currently, ExxonMobil’s BVR is close to $1, whereas Coca-Cola’s is closer to $5. In other words the Coca Cola Corporation is five times more vulnerable to a boycott than ExxonMobil.

Coca Cola’s appalling human rights record, combined with its high boycott vulnerability ratio make it the ideal target for a boycott. This is why Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith have decided to launch a hedge fund, which will be used to buy Coca Cola shares. They will then sell the shares for less than they bought them for, which will bring down their value on the international stock market. They are relying on the continuing boycott of Coca Cola products to bring the share price down still further. They will then buy the shares at a lower price than they sold them for and sell them again for even less. All profits from this venture will be donated to the victims of Coca Cola in countries such as India and Colombia.

Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith say that for every 1,000 new boycotters, they will increase the size of the hedge fund by £5000. Goldsmith’s Ecologist Magazine will publicize the boycott and audit, track and publish the results. Keiser recommends that pressure groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth should decide what to boycott according to their Boycott Vulnerability Ratio.

There has been a history of Coca Cola boycotts in many parts of the world. But this is the first time that an investor has become actively involved in a world wide Coca Cola boycott. Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith deserve our support. There is every reason to hope that they will succeed in bringing down the market value of Coca Cola, but for that they need more people and organisations to join the boycott.

on strange bedfellows

there has been a very interesting war of words brewing on twitter the past couple days, which began in response to the egyptian regime’s crackdown on resistance against the zionist entity. what began as a war of words between the moral and just hassan nasrallah and the american-zionist tool hosni mubarak has been replicating itself on twitter. at the center of it was @waelabbas, an egyptian blogger, who was recently arrested and beaten up by the egyptian authorities (along with his mother). here is one screenshot of the argument:

picture-12

the tweets pictured above were his directed at particular people and written in general. you have to click on the various @ links to see the replies. the extreme venom this blogger was spewing at nasrallah and anyone else who supports him was deeply disturbing. nasrallah’s speech and what nasrallah was calling for is for arab support for palestinians in gaza, and more generally. but, of course, mubarak has shown his true colors. we know where he stands. there were other bloggers debating, however, in a way that seems more hopeful and helpful: mostly with respect to thinking about panarab unity in support of palestinians. 3arabawy is one such egyptian blogger. another such blogger is a socialist in egypt.

this resistance in egypt against the regime and in ways that supports arab unity more generally is important as egypt seems to be deteriorating daily into more and more of a tool of the zionist-american empire. today, for instance, they confiscated fuel from palestinians:

Egyptian sources reported on Tuesday that Egyptian border policemen located and confiscated 19.000 liters of fuel that were meant to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip via underground tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

The police arrested drivers of four trucks carrying fuel and is said to be chasing two other drivers who left their trucks and escaped.

The arrested drivers were identified as Samir Mohammad Suleiman, Nasser Abdul-Wahab, Al Dosouqy Mohammad Al Dosouqy, and Rashid Mohammad Hasan, the Maan News agency reported.

Also, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck the contained clothes meant to be sent to Gaza.

Sand was placed over the clothes for camouflage purposes. The police located the truck and arrested its driver, Adel Sbeih Oweidh.

Furthermore, the Egyptian police confiscated a truck filled with cement and was parked close to the entrance of a tunnel of the border with Gaza. The driver and others who were with him apparently escaped through the tunnel.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egyptian security sources said that two tunnels were located in the border area, in addition to the tunnel that was used for smuggling cement and concrete.

and now the egyptian zionist regime is harassing the families of those they have arrested because they are accused of working with hezbollah:

Families of Egyptian men detained on suspicion of plotting attacks against Egypt on behalf of the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been warned against meeting with rights lawyers, one of the lawyers alleged on Wednesday.

Officers from Egypt’s domestic intelligence agency, State Security Investigations, telephoned family members and warned them against attending a meeting with rights lawyers in the north Sinai town of al-Arish, according to Sayed Fathi, a lawyer with Cairo’s al-Hilali Foundation for Human Rights.

Fathi, who said he was seeking to represent some of the detainees, told the German Press Agency dpa that family members had planned to meet at the al-Arish headquarters of the leftist Tagammu Party, a local centre for opposition, on Tuesday night.

However, family members had cancelled the meeting following warnings from security officers not to attend.

In remarks published in the independent daily al-Masri al-Youm on Wednesday, Islamist lawyer Montasser al-Zayat said that a purported confession from his client, Lebanese national Sami Shehab, had been false.

i find it fascinating that the mubarak regime is so willing to attack people who are willing to risk their lives to help palestinians resist. but there are other bloggers like antoun issa who gives us a sense of the bigger picture including its shameful use of all that american aid that it never uses to help its own people, many of whom are impoverished:

Boasting a large population, and receiving more than US$2billion in US aid on an annual basis, Egypt should be leading the Arabs on every level. But it isn’t.

The vast majority live below the poverty line, and are hungry and restless. Falling into line with most Arab dictators, Mubarak has splashed his extraordinary wealth on resorts, villas, palaces and an extensive security service that is effectively keeping 80 million Egyptians from storming the Presidential Palace.

The infrastructure is crumbling, and to cut even further at the heart of Egyptian pride, the country’s natural gas deposits are being sold to arch rival Israel at a lower-than-market rate. Freedom is nonexistent, torture and kidnappings are rampant, and the Egyptian people are struggling to put food on their plates. The country’s middle class has dwindled.

To compare with another Arab dictator, such as Saddam Hussein, Mubarak is among the worst. For all his shortcomings, Saddam invested in the country’s infrastructure, and had developed Iraq long before Dubai’s first skyscraper. The Iraqi tyrant also ensured a healthy middle class kept the economy afloat, most of which currently reside in Syria and Jordan awaiting their return. Of course, Saddam wasn’t perfect, his treatment of Shi’ites and Kurds was abhorrent, but Iraq was, economically to say the least, a healthy state before his wild adventures brought the world crashing down upon him. Certainly, Iraq’s growing wealth, economically and militarily, was worrisome for all around it. Fortunately for Iraq’s alarmed neighbours, Israel had a buddy named the US, who successfully lured Saddam into Kuwait and destroyed him.

Mubarak, on the other hand, has showed no interest in developing Egypt’s economy nor investing in its people.

On the regional level, Egypt has gone from discreetly co-operating with Israel to taking public photo shots with Israeli leaders. Its public support of Israel against Lebanon in 2006, and again against the Palestinians earlier in the year riled the Arab public. Hizballah, Syria and Iran took advantage, and made sure every angry finger in the Arab and Muslim world was pointed squarely at Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and other angry dissenters in the country, took to the streets and joined the chorus of condemnation of Egypt’s suffocation of Gaza.

Mubarak, suddenly, felt paranoid. I noted in a lengthy feature piece during the Gaza War that public condemnation between Arab leaders is rare. Hizballah’s criticism of Mubarak during the war not only highlighted a change in dynamics, but also signalled a dangerous intent … Iran’s eyes are on Egypt. Well, at least that’s what Mubarak currently fears.

So when Egypt’s intelligence successfully captured Hizballah operatives, it was quick to point out Iran’s grand scheme to subject Arab Sunnis to Shi’ite domination as a justification for its alliance with the country most Arab Sunnis hate … Israel.

But Arab operators are everywhere in the Middle East, including those of non-state actors. Fatah, for example, was caught out spying on Saudi Arabia and Jordan on behalf of the US when Hamas took over its police compound in the Gaza counter-coup. It would be fair to say that Hizballah has been operating networks in fellow Arab countries for years, and most Arab regimes are aware of it.

Hizballah even has operatives in Israel, which prove useful during times of conflict when these cells provide the Shia movement with intelligence on IDF positions. Certainly, that was the case in 2006.

Egypt’s capture of Hizballah operatives, and its public parade, is more a PR stunt to take the heat off its back re Gaza. Nasrallah didn’t seem too concerned when he confirmed the capture over the weekend, calmly stating that Hizballah was providing arms to Hamas, has been doing so for a while, and will continue to do so.

However, the need of Egypt to parade this capture speaks volumes of its paranoia and insecurity. Mubarak knows he sits atop a boiling Egyptian bubble waiting to burst. He fears an Iranian-style and provoked revolution. No doubt, the Egyptian people are capable of it and are perhaps pondering means to depose of their highly detested leader.

Mubarak also knows that his succession plan to pass the presidency to his son, Gamal Mubarak, is a vulnerable point that can be exposed by his foes, domestic and regional. His succession plans have caused much anger in Egypt, and a persisting fear that Mubarak’s rivals may attempt a coup are mounting.

The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt stated during the Gaza War that they have no issue with Iran proselytising Shi’ite Islam. In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, has now cemented its links with Iran.

Is Hizballah trying to destablise Egypt? No, I don’t think so, and I believe the Egyptians know that too. What bothers Mubarak, however, is that Hizballah can destabilise Egypt, and have the team already placed on Mubarak’s turf, awaiting the orders.

when we compare how the egyptian regime deals with lebanese leaders like nasrallah to leaders from the zionist entity we see something quite different. they are unwilling to meet the most visible racist fascists in the zionist entity’s government, but not the others (all of whom are equally racist and fascist):

The hatchet is far from burial between Egypt and Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

In an interview with Russian television on Wednesday Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, warned that his country would not welcome Lieberman so long as his divisive positions remained unchanged.

“When a man speaks he must be aware that the words traveling from his brain to his tongue will have consequences,” said Aboul Gheit, speaking from Cairo.

“Therefore, we will work with the government of Israel but not through the Israeli foreign minister. I do not imagine that he will set foot on Egyptian soil so long as his positions, which we have seen before, remain as they are.”

to understand why lieberman is not any different from any other israeli terrorist politician one must read jonathan cook’s excellent assessment of the ways in which they all overlap (this is from an older article in electronic intifada):

Lieberman, a Russian immigrant, is every bit the populist and racist politician he is portrayed as being. Like many of his fellow politicians, he harbours a strong desire to see the Palestinians of the occupied territories expelled, ideally to neighbouring Arab states or Europe. Lieberman, however, is more outspoken than most in publicly advocating for this position.

Where he is seen as overstepping the mark is in arguing that the state should strip up to a quarter of a million Palestinians living inside Israel of their citizenship and seal them and their homes into the Palestinian ghettoes being created inside the West Bank (presumably in preparation for the moment when they will all be expelled to Jordan). He believes any remaining Arab citizens should be required to sign a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” — loyalty to a democratic state alone will not suffice. Any who refuse will be physically expelled from Israel.

And, as a coup de grace, he has recently demanded the execution for treason of any Arab parliamentarian who talks to the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories or commemorates Nakba Day, which marks the expulsion and permanent dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948. That would include every elected representative of Israel’s Arab population.

These are Lieberman’s official positions. Apparently unofficially he wants even worse measures taken against Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. In May 2004, for example, he told a crowd of his supporters, in Russian, that 90 per cent of the country’s Arab citizens should be expelled. “They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.” His speech could have had second billing with one by Adolf Hitler at a Nuremberg Rally.

Despite Lieberman’s well-known political platform, Olmert has been courting him ever since Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) upset the expected three-way struggle between Olmert’s Kadima party, Labor and Likud in the March elections. Lieberman romped home with 11 seats in the 120-member Knesset, making his party a sparring partner of both Likud and the popular religious fundamentalist party Shas.

According to opinion polls, [Lieberman] is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu. According to reports in the Israeli media, Lieberman has not joined the coalition until now because he has been playing hard to get, making increasing demands of Olmert before agreeing to sign up for the government. His hand has grown stronger too: according to opinion polls, he is now the most popular politician in Israel after Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party.

In the newly established post of Minister for Strategic Threats, Lieberman — the self-avowed Arab hater — will shape Israel’s response to Iran, leading the chorus threats being made by Israel that it is only a hair’s breadth from dropping bombs, possibly nuclear warheads, on Tehran. After that, he will presumably help the government decide what other “strategic threats” it faces.

While Olmert enthuses over Lieberman, most in the Labor party seem quietly resigned to his inclusion. Labor’s elder statesman and former leader, Shimon Peres, says he has no objections, so long as Lieberman does not challenge the core policies agreed by Kadima and Labor. This, of course, is precisely what Lieberman is doing — it was the price of the bargain he struck with Olmert. Lieberman wants no peace overtures to the Palestinians, and favours the hardline neoliberal economic policies pursued by Kadima.

On Wednesday the Labor leader Amir Peretz, a supposed socialist and former head of the Israeli trade union movement, accepted Lieberman’s entry to the coalition, as Olmert surely knew he would. In typical Labor style, Peretz bought off his conscience by insisting on a package of modest benefits for Arab citizens, the same Arab citizens Lieberman wants expelled. The last time the government made a similar promise to its Arab minority back in late 2001 — when the prime minister of the day, Ehud Barak, needed their votes — the $4 million pledge was broken immediately after the election.

So why are Israel’s politicians, of the left and right, so comfortable sitting with Lieberman, the leader of Israel’s only unquestionably fascist party? Because, in truth, Lieberman is not the maverick politician of popular imagination, even if he is every bit the racist — a Jewish Jorg Haider or Jean Marie Le Pen.

In reality, Lieberman is entirely a creature of the Israeli political establishment, his policies sinister reflections of the principles and ideas he learnt in the inner sanctums of the Likud party, a young hopeful immigrant rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ariel Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu and, of course, Ehud Olmert.

From their political infancy, the latter three were schooled in the minor arts of Israeli diplomacy: feel free to speak plainly in the womb of the party; speak firmly but cautiously in Hebrew to other Israelis; and speak in another tongue entirely when using English, the language of the goyim, the non-Jews.

But Lieberman, who arrived in Israel as a 21-year-old immigrant, was not around for those lessons. He imbibed nothing of the principles of hasbara, the “advocacy for Israel” industry that has its unpaid battalions of propagandists regularly assaulting the phone lines and email inboxes of the Western media. He tells it exactly as he sees it, even if mostly in Russian.

Inside the Likud party, his political training ground, that hardly mattered. He rapidly rose through the ranks to become director-general of Likud from 1993-96 and soon afterwards to head the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. For many years he was the darling of the Likud, a party that today exists in two halves: its original incarnation, once again led by Netanyahu; and the renovated, sleeker model, Kadima, founded by Sharon.

But it was in breaking from Likud and founding his own party, Yisrael Beiteinu, in 1999 that Lieberman finally found his voice outside the Likud’s smoke-filled rooms. The audience for his message was as untutored in the deceits of Israeli politicking as Lieberman himself.

Lieberman immigrated to Israel from Moldova in 1978, leading the vanguard of a wave of immigration from Russia and its satellite states that reached a peak in the early 1990s as the Soviet empire broke up. By the time most Russian speakers began pouring into Israel, Lieberman was already well ensconced in the Israeli political system.

Yisrael Beiteinu’s openly racist agenda spoke to the darkest instincts of the one million newly arrived Russian speakers. Many of them poor and struggling to adapt to Israeli culture, they live far from the prosperous centre of the country in their own neglected ghettos, Little Moscows, where the signs and street language are more than a decade later still in Russian. They feel little affinity for the Jewish state — apart from a loathing for everything Arab.

The state has found it easy to manipulate these immigrants’ emotions. They have little understanding of the historic reasons for Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, and like other Israelis learn almost nothing more at school. With no context for appreciating why the Palestinians might carry out suicide attacks, Russian speakers assume the Palestinians are simply the hate-filled barbarians as described to them by their politicians.

When young Russian men do three years of active duty in the occupied territories, all these prejudices are confirmed. One of the largest blocs of Israel’s citizen army, the Russians are assigned some of the toughest spots in the West Bank and Gaza, often their first experience of meeting “Arabs”.

When they return home, they find it hard to make sense of Israeli officialdom’s lip service in distinguishing between Arab citizens, who have some rights in the Jewish state, and the “Arabs” of the occupied territories, who have none. Many Russian speakers wonder why Israel does not simply kill or expel the lot of them.

And this is where Lieberman steps in. Because usefully this is exactly what he not only believes but also openly declares. Lieberman can tap the support of nearly a million voters, a huge reservoir of support for any prime ministerial hopeful trying to assemble the coalition needed to form a government under the fractious Israeli political system.

Neither Olmert nor Netanyahu can afford to say what is really on their minds: that they want to cleanse the region of as many Palestinians as they can manage — most certainly those in the occupied territories, and later the even bigger nuisance of the ones who have citizenship and undermine Israel’s Jewishness.

But instead they can let a Lieberman, the charismatic leader of a popular party who does dare to say these things, join the government with minimal damage to their own reputations.

They can also let him use the platform provided by a cabinet position to shape a new coarser political language in which ideas of expulsion and transfer become ever more mainstream. Until one day the policies Lieberman advocates, reflections of the values he imbibed during his long years spent in Likud, become acceptable enough that a Prime Minister — Olmert or Netanyahu or Lieberman himself — will be able to put them in the government’s programme.

Instead of using words like “disengagement”, “convergence” or “realignment”, Israel’s politicians of the near future may simply call for the expulsion of Arabs, all Arabs.

Even now they do little to conceal the fact that such thoughts are uppermost in their minds. Netanyahu, currently Israel’s most popular politician and the leader of the opposition, has repeatedly called the 1.2 million Arab citizens of the country a “demographic timebomb”. Back in 2002, for example, he told an audience of policymakers: “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens … We therefore need a policy that will first of all guarantee a Jewish majority.”

Unlike Lieberman, Netanyahu never spells out what policies he is advocating. But most Israelis understand that in practice, if he felt free to speak his mind, his platform would not look much different from Yisrael Beiteinu’s.

Olmert too uses code words readily understood by his Israeli audiences. In late 2004, in an interview with the Haaretz newspaper, he said: “There is no doubt in my mind that very soon the government of Israel is going to have to address the demographic issue with the utmost seriousness and resolve. This issue above all others will dictate the solution that we must adopt.” He added that he feared the Palestinians would soon be a majority in the area comprising both the occupied territories and Israel, and that then they could launch a “dangerous” struggle for “one-man-one-vote” similar to the one against apartheid in South Africa. He concluded: “For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state.”

What “solution” was Olmert referring to? Israelis know only too well. Every year since 2000 Olmert, Netanyahu, Peres and other senior policymakers have been meeting at the Herzliya conference, near Tel Aviv, to draw up ideas about how to deal with the demographic threat: the rapidly approaching moment when the Palestinians, either those with Israeli citizenship or the non-citizens living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, will outnumber Jews.

The solutions they have proposed have been similar to Lieberman’s. Both the disengagement from Gaza and the planned limited withdrawals from the West Bank came out of Herzliya. But so did a range of measures to deal with the country’s Arab citizens: land swaps to lose areas of Israel densely populated with Arabs in return for the settlements in the West Bank; loyalty oaths as a condition of citizenship; stripping the Arab population of their right to vote; and forcing all political parties to subscribe to Zionist ideals.

Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state.” These are not fanciful ideas; they are now firmly in the mainstream. Israel already has legislation requiring all parties running for the Knesset to support Israel remaining a “Jewish and democratic state”. Technically, the only non-Zionist parties — two Arab parties and the small joint Jewish and Arab Communist party — could quite legally be disqualified from all general elections under the current legislation. They expect that at some point in the near future they will be too.

The two previous prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, both secretly favoured land swaps in which large numbers of Arab citizens would be removed from the Jewish state. Barak proposed such a scheme at Camp David in the summer of 2000, as several participants later confirmed. And in February 2004 Sharon floated the same idea during an interview in the Maariv newspaper. When it caused a storm, he backtracked, but investigations by the paper revealed that he had been formulating a land swap for some time with his advisers and had even consulted the then Labor leader and his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, on its feasibility.

At the top of Lieberman’s list of demands before agreeing to enter Olmert’s coalition are major changes to Israel’s constitution, including the introduction of a presidential system to replace the current parliamentary system. Israel already has a President, currently Moshe Katsav, who is facing a string of rape and sexual harassment allegations, but the post is entirely symbolic.

Lieberman wants a president who has the authority to make major legislative changes, even constitutional ones, without having to make the backroom compromises to keep together the coalition governments that characterise Israel’s current political system. The president Lieberman has in mind would be more on the lines of an autocratic ruler.

Olmert is apparently sympathetic to Lieberman’s plans to change the political system. It is not difficult to understand why.

and yet somehow egyptian ministers think they are saving face when they say they won’t meet with lieberman, but they will meet with netanyahu. they are the same. the net result for palestinians is the same.

interestingly while the egyptians try to outzion the zionists, it seems that the world zionist organization is quite upset with coca-cola in egypt and is launching a boycott campaign of coca-cola there:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemns the Coca-Cola Company for continuing to engage in immoral behavior and refusing to rectify the wrong it has been perpetrating against a Jewish family, the Bigios. The ZOA calls on the public to boycott Coca-Cola products, and for Jewish members of the public to boycott the company’s kosher-for-Passover products during this Passover holiday.

The Bigios owned property near Cairo, Egypt since the early 1900’s; Coca-Cola had been leasing the property and contracting with the Bigios, until the property was illegally taken from the family by the Egyptian government in 1964 during a campaign of anti-Semitism. In 1979, the Egyptian government ordered that the Bigios’ property be returned to them, but the Egyptian courts refused to enforce the order. In 1994, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Egypt “purchased” the property when it was “privatized.” When the Bigios contacted Coca-Cola to remind the company of the family’s right to the property and requested to be justly compensated, top Coca-Cola officials cavalierly brushed the family aside.

The Bigios brought a federal court action against Coca-Cola in 1997. Since then, Coca-Cola’s lawyers have used numerous legal maneuvers to avoid reaching the merits of the Bigios’ case. All of their procedural objections have failed – twice in the U.S. Court of Appeals and once in the U.S. Supreme Court.

picture-13

ironically this is the reason many of us boycott companies like johnson & johnson, nestle, and yes coca-cola: because they are on the land of destroyed palestinian villages in 1948 palestine (as in photograph above). but those of us involved in boycott also boycott coca-cola. here is why (from the boycott campaign in lebanon):

According to Coca-Cola’s Hebrew web-site, Abe Feinberg’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) was granted in 1968 the license to sell Coke in Israel as a way to support the Zionist state, despite the losses that an Arab boycott of Coke would mean for the company.

Coca- Cola’s Hebrew web-site details how the company operates in Israel economically, socially, and politically, to enact a Zionist state.

Coca-Cola bought the Golan Heights Winery in 2002 and uses it to distribute wines throughout Europe.

Coca-Cola sponsors Israel’s national basketball team, “in which it invests great amounts of money annually” as well as Israeli national marathons, tennis competitions, etc.

While the local Israeli market is small and unable to generate significant tax revenue, approximately 40% or more of government expenditure goes to military. Thus, little money is left over for other social services. Social giving literally saves the state money.

In 2003, Coca-Cola paid $8.4 million to the Israel Land Administration for land on which to build a Coca-Cola factory in Askalan. To capture Askalan for Jewish-only settlement, 
Israelis ethnically-cleansed
 the Palestinian villages of 
Al-Khisas, Al-Jura, and 
Al-Ni’ilya of their 
5000+ inhabitants 
in Operation Yo’av 
on Nov. 4 -5, 1948. The inhabitants fled to Gaza, and their land was confiscated as national Israeli property.

Furthermore, in July 2002, Coca-Cola announced that, in return for millions of dollars in tax breaks from the Israeli government, it will build a new plant in Kiryat Gat where it will employ 700 more Israelis. Kiryat Gat is built on land of Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja whose inhabitants were expelled through force in 1949, in contravention of the Egyptian-Israeli armistice which guaranteed the safety of the residents and their property. By international law, the land still belongs to those Palestinians, but Coke paid the rent to the occupiers not the lawful owners.

Likewise, Coca-Cola’s investment in the Golan Heights Winery helps make the occupation economically viable and put economic pressure on the Israeli government not to return the Golan to Syria. Thus, Coca-Cola helps build “facts on the ground” intended to preclude return of occupied lands to the rightful owners.

On October 11th 2001, Coca-Cola hosted at its headquarters in Atlanta, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Eagle Star Awards Gala at which awards were given out by Israel’s Economic Minister to North American companies that had invested in Israel. In turn, Coca-Cola USA was 
itself honored by the
 Israel Economic Mission 
at the Israel Trade 1997 
Award Dinner.

Money received from licensees is given by Atlanta headquarters to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, a branch of the United Jewish Charities (UJC). Coca-Cola USA’s donations to the UJC are made by the corporation, not its individual employees. Part goes to finance lobbies that are “strongly proactive and vocal in support of Israel,” and to “send solidarity missions to Israel, allowing thousands of North American Jews to show their support … speaking out on Israel’s behalf when they return.” And “part goes to meet overseas needs through our partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC). These dollars help build the Jewish homeland and 
rebuild strong Jewish communities in over 60 countries around the world….” “Assisting immigration to Israel claims a significant portion of JAFI’s budget, with services such as pre-immigration preparation, absorption centers…and resettlement programs. “JDC also works to help strengthen the social service system as a whole … by offering leadership and management training programs …”

Thus, while Palestinians are denied the right of return and social equality by Israel, money donated by Coca-Cola USA enables Jews to live in Israel as if they really were “the chosen people.”  

“…the Jewish Agency for Israel [has been a] full partner in setting up and supporting the Confrontation Line communities, rescuing Jews from countries in distress and helping them settle in the region…” Since 2000, “Recognizing the urgency of the [post-withdraw] situation, the Jewish Agency has already contributed to the rural settlers of the Confrontation Line by forgiving $40 million in debts.”

if those are not enough reasons to boycott coca-cola (and this is aside from the horrible health consequences from drinking such beverages) i don’t know what is. but there is more. because palestinians think that coca-cola is palestinian because a palestinian businessman set up coca-cola in al bireh here. however here are some startling facts that palestinians should consider before they purchase coca-cola products (aside from the fact that portions of the proceeds go to the same exact places as stated above after giving its portion of the proceeds to its u.s. owner):

Until 1998, Israeli company Central Bottling Company owned the license for marketing Coca-Cola throughout Palestine. Zahi Khoury led Palestinian investors in buying the license for marketing Coca-Cola products in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in 1998 re-designed the National Beverage Company located in Betounia Industrial Park to produce Coca-Cola products.

The venture cost $20 million. The contract gave Coca-Cola International 15% ownership of the venture and the Palestine National Authority another 15%.

Moving the management of sales to Palestinian to a Palestinian businessman was seen to be in Coca-Cola’s best interests according to Ian Shackleton, Coca-Cola’s Israel manager because, “Sales to the territories have dropped over the past few years, with the decline beginning already from the [1988] Intifada.”

The opportunity for Coca-Cola was not only in Palestine but in the Arab world at large, which had been boycotting Coca-Cola until 1993 for its support for Israel. As it looked to invest $200 million in Arab regional ventures to surpass Pepsi in regional popularity, Coca-Cola needed Palestinians to overcome the long popular objections to the company. However, the venture implicates Palestinians in an important political compromise because East Jerusalem remains under the jurisdiction of the Israeli supplier. In this act, a private company has imposed a political vision that counters international agreement about the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem. Indeed, this act should be seen as part of Coca-Cola’s wider corporate support for Israeli occupation.

Some questions to consider: Prior to being purchased by Coca-Cola the factory in Ramallah was the site of production for Club refreshments. How many workers were employed by it? How many local competitors are there to Coca-Cola now (beyond the toot, jallab, and other refreshments producers) — we have heard of Star Cola as one locally made competitor? Do you have a sense of how many people they employ? In terms of Palestinian economic productiveness, what would be wrong with people simple switching to these products and their eventually hiring people formerly employed by Coca-Cola?

these are strange bedfellows here with respect to the boycott coca-cola campaign to be sure. but if the zionists want to help us boycott coca-cola more power to them. and there are so many more reasons to boycott coke for its horrible practices in other parts of the world. see killer coke’s website for more of these reasons.

and just to be sure that i am not picking on egypt, but rather its refusal to help palestinians and its collaboration with the zionist-american regimes, clearly jordan is acting up today too:

A Jordanian court sentenced three Jordanians to five years in prison for conducting espionage for Hamas on Wednesday.

A Jordanian judicial source said that Thabet Abu Al-Haj, 37, Azzam Jaber, 36, and Salim Al-Husani, 27, were accused of collecting information about Jordanian military and government installations for Hamas.

The three were convicted of spying on military posts along the Israeli border and the Israeli embassy in Amman.

The court reduced what was originally a ten year sentence, taking into consideration that the three are relatively young and have families.

Two other suspects, Muhammad Al-Khujah, 43, and Taleb Abdallah, 46, were charged in connection to the same activities, but were released in early October.

The five were arrested by Jordan between early August and 25 September 2007. The public prosecution also accused them participated in military and security training in a neighboring country.

The Islamic Front, the political wing of Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan claimed that four of the men were affiliated with the movement.

and the zionists are trying to get in on the action today too by claiming that israeli terrorists who smoke marijuana are supporting hezbollah:

The Israeli Anti-Drug Authority launched an ad campaign linking smoking marijuana with support for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

In one poster, Nasrallah’s head appears rising like a genie on smoke from a bong.

The poster reads: (In red) “Nasrallah aims at destroying Israel entirely.” The campaign is based on the allegation that Hizbullah funds its activities in Lebanon and alleged activities in Palestinian areas through drug trafficking.

In white font the poster reads: “Hizbullah has the obvious purpose of flooding Israel with venom which forms a strategic danger against Israel. We should not give him the chance to destroy Israel and we should counter drugs internally and externally.”

Hizbullah is the Lebanese resistance group thought to be responsible for forcing Israel to end its decades-old occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000. In 2006 Israel launched an unsuccessful war against organization after it seized two Israeli soldiers.

zionism is discrimination is oppression is racism is apartheid.

as i watch the protests flaring in moldova, avigdor lieberman’s home country who is the foreign minster of the zionist entity, i keep thinking what a great time it would be for him to go home. back to where he came from. he wants “transfer” for palestinians in 1948. what about a transfer for him back to his homeland? i was thinking about this as i read ahmad tibi’s utterly brilliant op-ed in the new york times today. tibi is a member of the knesset and increasingly becoming the next azmi bishara. (hopefully not the same outcome of forced exile from his homeland.) i had forgotten where exactly lieberman came from. in any case, here is tibi’s op-ed in full because he explains the situation in 1948 palestine so beautifully and clearly, especially for an american audience:

The right-wing coalition of the new Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, does not bode well for Palestinians in Israel. With the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister, the extremists are going after the indigenous population and threatening us with loyalty tests and the possibility of “transfer” into an area nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu’s intransigence vis-à-vis Palestinians in the occupied territories is certainly cause for concern. No less concerning is what the Netanyahu-Lieberman combination may mean to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

This government, particularly with Lieberman as foreign minister, should be boycotted by the international community, just as it once boycotted Jörg Haider, the late Austrian far-right politician who won global notoriety for his anti-immigrant views.

Lieberman, in one of many outrageous comments, declared in May 2004 that 90 percent of Israel’s Palestinian citizens “have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.”

But my family and I were on this land centuries before Lieberman arrived here in 1978 from Moldova. We are among the minority who managed to remain when some 700,000 Palestinians were forced out by Israel in 1948.

Today, Lieberman stokes anti-Palestinian sentiment with his threat of “transfer” — a euphemism for renewed ethnic cleansing. Henry Kissinger, too, has called for a territorial swap, and Lieberman cites Kissinger to give his noxious idea a more sophisticated sheen. Lieberman and Kissinger envision exchanging a portion of Israel for a portion of the occupied West Bank seized illegally by Jewish settlers.

But Israel has no legal right to any of the occupied Palestinian territories. And Lieberman has no right to offer the land my home is on in exchange for incorporating Jewish settlers into newly defined Israeli state borders. We are citizens of the state of Israel and do not want to exchange our second-class citizenship in our homeland — subject as we are to numerous laws that discriminate against us — for life in a Palestinian Bantustan.

We take our citizenship seriously and struggle daily to improve our lot and overcome discriminatory laws and practices.

We face discrimination in all fields of life. Arab citizens are 20 percent of the population, but only 6 percent of the employees in the public sector. Not one Arab employee is working in the central bank of Israel. Imagine if there was not one African-American citizen employed in the central bank of the United States.

Israel is simultaneously running three systems of government. The first is full democracy toward its Jewish citizens — ethnocracy. The second is racial discrimination toward the Palestinian minority — creeping Jim Crowism. And the third is occupation of the Palestinian territories with one set of laws for Palestinians and another for Jewish settlers — apartheid.

A few weeks ago, Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party led the charge in the Israeli Knesset to ban my party — the Arab Movement for Renewal — from participating in the elections. Netanyahu’s Likud also supported the action. The Supreme Court overturned the maneuvers of the politicians. But their attempt to ban our participation should expose Israel’s democracy to the world as fraudulent.

Lieberman’s inveighing against Palestinian citizens of Israel is not new. Less than three years ago, he called for my death and the death of some of my Palestinian Knesset colleagues for daring to meet with democratically elected Palestinian leaders. Speaking before the Knesset plenum, Lieberman stated: “World War II ended with the Nuremberg trials. The heads of the Nazi regime, along with their collaborators, were executed. I hope this will be the fate of the collaborators in this house.” Lieberman now has the power to put his vile views into practice.

We call for more attention from the Obama administration toward the Palestinian minority in Israel. It is a repressed minority suffering from inadequately shared state resources. The enormous annual American aid package to Israel fails almost entirely to reach our community.

Between Netanyahu and Lieberman, the Obama administration will have its hands full. Make no mistake that Netanyahu and Lieberman will press the new administration hard to accept Israeli actions in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — as well as discriminatory anti-Palestinian actions in Israel itself. Settlements will grow and discrimination deepen. American backbone will be crucial in the months ahead.

the bold above is mine. it highlights the simultaneous forms of discrimination, racism, and apartheid that exist for palestinians, oftentimes overlapping depending on one is at any given moment. one clear cut example of this is banning of palestinian employees from railway jobs as jonathan cook reports for electronic intifada:

A decision by Israel’s state-owned railway company to sack 150 Arab workers because they have not served in the army has been denounced as “unlawful” and “racist” this week by Arab legal and workers’ rights groups.

The new policy, which applies to guards at train crossing points, is being implemented even though the country’s Arab citizens — numbering 1.2 million and nearly one-fifth of the total population — have been exempt from serving in the military since Israel’s establishment.

Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, complained to Israel Railways and the attorney general last week, arguing that the move was meant “to cleanse the railways of Arab employees.”

“It is an especially grave matter as this is a public company whose operations are meant to benefit all citizens,” he said.

these are some of the many reasons why boycott is called for. why more people are joining in to resist this blatant racism that exists in the zionist entity. salim vally a south african professor who was actively involved in the academic boycott of south africa under apartheid has a very important essay that he published this week in links: the international journal of socialist renewal that builds on some of the things that tibi says in his piece above. here is what vally says, in part, but it is definitely worth clicking on the link and reading it in full:

The Palestinian struggle does not only exert a visceral tug on many around the world. A reading of imperialism shows that apartheid Israel is needed as a fundamentalist and militarised warrior state not only to quell the undefeated and unbowed Palestinians but also as a rapid response fount of reaction in concert with despotic Arab regimes to do the Empire’s bidding in the Middle East and beyond.

Over the years this has included support for the mass terror waged against the people of Central and South America and facilitating the evasion of international sanctions against South Africa. Besides providing a ready supply of mercenaries to terrorise a populace — whether in Guatemala, Iraq or New Orleans — Israel also lends its expertise of collective punishment and mass terror. We have to recognise that the foundation of the Israeli economy was founded on the special political and military role which Zionism then and today fulfils for Western imperialism. While playing its role to ensure that the region is safe for oil companies it has also carved out today a niche market producing high-tech security essential for the day-to-day functioning of New Imperialism.

The unrestrained hand of US imperialism and its support for barbarism whether in Iraq or Palestine should hasten our actions. In Gaza, 80 per cent of the population live in poverty and close to a million people have no access to fresh water, electricity and other essential services. Close to 70,000 workers have lost their jobs in the siege of Gaza. The killing of Palestinians continues on a ferocious basis — daily missiles are launched from US-made helicopters and fighter jets. These cowardly war crimes are carried out with impunity — no longer even meriting a mention in the mainstream press….

First, it took a few decades of hard work before the boycott campaign made an impact. Despite the impression given by many governments, unions and faith-based groups that they supported the isolation of the apartheid state from the outset this is just not true. Besides the infamous words of Dick Cheney, when as a senator he called for the continued incarceration of Nelson Mandela because he was a “terrorist” quite late in the day, and the support given by US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Thatcher, together with regimes like dictator Pinochet’s Chile, Israel and others, most powerful institutions, multilateral organisations and unions were hesitant for many years to fully support the campaign. The Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) was formed in 1959 and the first significant breakthrough came in 1963 when Danish dock workers refused to off-load South African goods.

The rise of the AAM must be seen in the general effervescence of liberation struggles and social movements in the turbulent 1960s/early 1970s and in the context of, whatever our opinion was of the USSR and its motivations, a counterweight to the US hegemon. This, together with the viciousness of the pro-Israeli lobby, its opportunistic reference to the Holocaust and anti-Semitism and the post-9/11 climate of fear, silencing dissent and Islamophobia, makes the task of isolating apartheid Israel more difficult. Despite these seemingly daunting obstacles the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel is gaining momentum and already some significant gains have been made. Gains which would’ve been difficult to imagine just a few years ago.

Second, arguments opposed to the boycott related to the harm it would cause black South African themselves and the need for dialogue and “constructive engagement” were easily rebuffed by lucid and knowledgeable arguments. The South African regime, like the Israeli regime today, used “homeland’’ leaders and an assortment of collaborators to argue the case for them. Careful research played an important role in exposing the economic, cultural and the armaments trade links with South Africa to make our actions more effective as well as to “name and shame” those who benefited from the apartheid regime.

Third, sectarianism is a danger that we must be vigilant about and principled unity must be our lodestar. Some in the AAM favoured supporting only one liberation movement as the authentic voice of the oppressed in South Africa. They also aspired to work largely with “respectable” organisations, governments and multilateral organisations and shunned the much harder and patient linking of struggles with grassroots organisations. In the UK for instance as elsewhere this sectarian attitude resulted in debilitating splits. The biggest chapter of the AAM in London, which supported the anti-imperialist struggle in Ireland and was part of the “Troops Out Movement’’, were ostracised by the official AAM. The latter was also keen not to annoy the British government by taking a stronger stance against racism in Britain.

The healthy linking of struggles against racism, in support of the indigenous people and workers in North America with the Palestinian struggle that I have witnessed must be lauded. At a huge Palestinian solidarity rally in South Africa recently members of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee were asked by officials from the Palestinian ambassador’s office to pull down the flag of the Western Sahrawi Republic because they feared this would alienate the ambassador of Morocco. We refused this request much to the glee of Polisario Front supporters present.

Fourth, the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions must be in concert with supporting grassroots organisations in Palestine as a whole and in the Palestinian diaspora. This can take many forms and shapes including “twinning’’ arrangements, speaking tours, targeted actions in support of specific struggles and concrete support.

jonathan "zapiro" shapiro

there was a report on cnn of all places that featured jonathan shapiro or “zapiro” who is a jewish south african cartoonist (one of his cartoons is pictured above). in the piece he tells the reporter: “i’ll tell you something. i’ve said it many times and i’ll say it again. it’s been harder as a jewish south african who sees himself as contesting the mainstream jewish view on israel and on political zionism than it ever was being a white south african being involved in the struggle. that’s how hard it is. it’s actually harder.”you can watch the video by clicking on this link.

why is it harder to be critical of apartheid in south africa than apartheid in palestine? because there is no equivalent of anti-semitism when dealing with racism. racism is just racism. zionism, of course, is racism too, but when you say that in the united states you are called anti-semitic. case in point: the archbishop desmond tutu is facing renewed criticism again from the anti-defamation league (that bully of a zionist entity in the u.s.) because he is now on the advisory board the academic & cultural boycott of israel:

Citing his long history as a strident critic of Israel and his vocal support for anti-Israel boycotts, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said that Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a “poor choice” to deliver the commencement addresses at Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Desmond Tutu is a poor choice for commencement speaker,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “His statements about Israel have time and again conveyed outright bigotry against the Jewish homeland and the Jewish people, and his deepening involvement in the anti-Israel boycott effort should have raised a red flag. This is not someone to be held up as a model or awarded an honorary degree, given his history of bombastic rhetoric and unceasing support for the anti-Israel boycott effort.

“It is one thing to give him a platform to speak on campus; it is quite another to confer an honorary degree on an individual who actively promotes academic boycotts,” Mr. Foxman added.

In a letter to Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon, President of Michigan State University, the League called on the university to reconsider the invitation extended to Archbishop Tutu unless he “publicly repudiates” his support for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

“Archbishop Tutu has unequivocally endorsed an academic boycott based on ideas that are anti-Semitic and should be anathema to any institution of higher learning truly committed to academic freedom,” the League said it its letter to MSU. ADL sent a similar letter to Dr. Holden Thorp, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The League noted that MSU’s president and UNC’s chancellor were among more than 200 U.S. college and university presidents who issued, in July 2007, an unequivocal statement against university-led boycotts.

Archbishop Tutu is a participant in the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). The campaign prominently includes Bishop Tutu as a member of its Advisory Board, whose formation was announced on March 30. The USACBI refers to Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestine and its apartheid system” and calls for the “complete academic and cultural boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

for those not in the know the adl’s name, like all zionist names, is a euphemism: it has nothing to do with fighting against defamation: it in fact is the reverse. it defames. period. what they don’t want you to speak about is the racism inherent in the zionist entity. a recent interview with hatim kanaaneh, who blogs at a doctor in galilee, sheds some further light on this sort of racism that adl not only doesn’t speak out against: it is full heatedly in support of in every way. here is some of what dr. kanaaneh has to say:

Dr. K: Discrimination is a built-in part of life and the laws of the country. Remember that what we are dealing with here (and the basic issue of contention in the conflict between Zionism and all of us native Palestinians) is a conflict over land.

As a Palestinian I am disqualified by law from equal access to land ownership or use. This is given a deeper expression in the form of the Law of Return granting any Jewish person anywhere in the world automatic citizenship with all the benefits that accrue with it of access to land, housing, financial and social assistance, and to the symbols of the state while no Palestinian who is not born here can dream of ever becoming a citizen.

Recently laws were passed specifically to prevent our children from marrying other Palestinians and from the right to bring their spouses under the standing laws of family unification applicable to Jewish citizens.

The absolute majority of land we, the Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel since its establishment in 1948, once owned has been confiscated for the benefit of our Jewish co-citizens through a maze of some three dozen laws specifically designed for the purpose. Were it not for the 1976 uprising that has come since to be commemorated as Land Day, we would have lost the remainder. We, nearly one-fifth of the total population of Israel, now own about 3 % of its land. After all, we are dealing with what has been defined by Zionism as “the land of Israel” in an ethnic sense, a definition that excludes us, Palestinians. The last stroke in the continuing saga of disenfranchisement is the requirement from us to pledge allegiance to Israel as the state of the Jews. And once we take such an oath, it would be up to the same racist crowd to define what constitutes a breach of it, a process inevitably leading to our expulsion one way or the other.

Beyond such basic discriminatory laws the whole official system and all Zionist civilian structures, many of which are legally entrusted with state-level powers and duties, are imbued with a sense of messianic zeal. Our experience with such bodies is not unlike a preview of the current practices in the Palestinian Occupied Territories where Palestinians are not allowed to drive on roads for settlers. The multitude of new settlements, named ‘Mitzpim’, or hilltop lookouts, are intended to guard the land in Galilee from us, its indigenous population, and they are surrounded by barbwire and interconnected by special roads that bypass our villages. True, we were not prevented from using those roads, but they were of little use to us because they led only to the various settlements.

At the practical level this translates into set rules and regulations that exempt Palestinians like me from all sorts of benefits if they are not openly anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian. Much of this is practiced under the blanket justification of security, the holiest of all holy cows in the country….

Another area in which this phenomenon is evident is the differential implementation of the law. Take, for example, the practice of house demolition within Israel. Mind you, we are not speaking here of the savage collective punishment practiced by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. We are speaking of the practice of demolition of homes built without permit within Israel proper.

In absolute numbers there are more illegally constructed structures in Jewish communities, but the demolition is practiced almost exclusively against Arab home owners. The basis for the construction of homes without permit is also rooted in discriminatory practices in the laws of zoning which in many cases have retroactively criminalized all residents of many villages whose existence predated the state, itself. Such “Unrecognized Villages” are frequently the site of home demolitions.

The cumulative end result of all the openly discriminatory laws, the hidden disadvantages, and the differential application of the rules and regulations are clearly seen in comparative figures from officially published data of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.

what dr. kanaaneh mentions in the excerpt above–and more thoroughly in the full interview you can read if you click the link above–is the sort of racism that palestinians in 1948 experience. for instance today in naqab palestinians had their farmland destroyed by israeli terrorists:

For the second consecutive day, the Israeli Lands Department and police forces continued on Monday to plough and demolish groves owned by residents of unrecognized Arab villages in the Negev.

On Sunday, demolition was concentrated on lands owned by the Turi family in the Al-Araqib area, and on Monday it was concentrated in different parts of Ar’ara in the Negev. Parts of the lands demolished on Monday are owned by Abu Mqeirih family in eastern Ar’ara.

The director general of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, Atwah Abu Freih, said, “We are surprised at this frivolous behavior of the Israeli Lands Department, demolishing lands of people who owned that land before the creation of Israel.

“Furthermore, Israeli military patrols from the Ministry of Agriculture have been chasing cattle owners, depriving them of pasture for their herds unless they register and pay taxes. To make it more difficult in light of a drought this year, they ploughed and demolished fields of wheat and barley,” Abu Freih added.

just like in 1948, of course, palestinians in the west bank experience the same treatment. the difference is those in places like khalil get a tad bit more media attention. ma’an news, for instance, reported on one man in khalil who has suffered the same fate as his kin in 1948 palestine:

Abu Mohammad Al-Hreini stands on a hill near his house in the Al-Musafer area to the south of Hebron, pointing at his land.

“That’s my land that was confiscated and now it lies behind the separation wall and I’m prevented from reaching it; it was confiscated forever,” he explains.

Al-Hreini and other residents are in mourning because their agricultural farmland were confiscated to construct the wall, which Israel maintains is for security. But these Palestinians are afraid of being expelled from the area as a pretext for preserving the settlements located south of the Hebron governorate.

“We live in a constant state of fear, where we hear a new Israeli plan every day that threatens our future in this area,” says Al-Hreini.

He adds, “Hundreds of dunums were confiscated from the Masafer Yatta area, close to the Suseya settlement, which in fact was constructed on our own agricultural land.” He explains that they cannot even sleep, since Israeli forces keep patrolling the area to force them to leave.

Israeli authorities confiscated 500 dunums of his own farm for the sake of constructing the wall.

According to Al-Hreini, the residents of the area suffer from water contamination coming from the settlements and they are also imposed to continuous violations by soldiers and settlers.

On the other hand, anti-settlement organizations warned of Israeli plans to isolate the Al-Masafer area from Hebron governorate, in an effort to expel the residents to join the area with neighboring settlements

and apparently even americans traveling on formal delegations can be accosted by, though not attacked, israeli colonist terrorists as ma’an news reported today:

Armed Israeli settlers prevented a delegation from the US Consulate from approaching a settlement near Nablus on Monday, according to diplomatic officials.

In a telephone call to Ma’an, a spokesperson for the US Consulate to Jerusalem said that officials were near the Hioval settlement, close to the Nablus-area village of Qaryut, when armed settler guards stopped the delegation.

According to the American officials, the visit was a routine and periodic trip to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the visit was previously scheduled.

Ghassan Doghlus, the head of the village’s local council, told Ma’an that settlement guards stopped the American delegation from entering the area.

“The guards prevented the delegation from getting close to the settlement and the nearby lands that were confiscated; the guards pointed their arms at the delegation, forcing them to leave the area,” he said.

Another spokesperson for the US Consulate in Jerusalem, Michaela Sweitzer-Blum, confirmed that armed Israeli settlers did confront an officer from the US Consulate back from the edge of the settlement.

“They [the US delegation] did meet up with some armed guards from a local outpost,” she said of the incident.

i am glad that a formal american delegation had to deal with this. those of us who live here deal with it every day. i wish they experienced worse so they would know how it really is. i hope that obama experiences the same when he comes in june. maybe then they will listen to palestinians and support them in liberating their land. (okay, it’s late, i’m entitled to dream a bit.) in any case, dear nora barrows-friedman wrote a great piece for ips that is hot off the press on the subject that shows what the people whose houses are being demolished and whose houses are threatened with demolition want:

Nasser Al-Ghawei tells IPS from inside the Al-Kurd tent in Sheikh Jarrah that earlier this year Palestinian families felt relief when the Turkish government, dismayed at Israel’s brutal actions in Gaza, decided to release documents from the Ottoman-era archives that prove Palestinian-Arab ownership of the land. “We took these papers back to the court to prove that this is Arab land,” Al-Ghawei says. “And the decision was negative.”

An Israeli lawyer representing the settler group offered Al-Ghawei and his 16 other family members 17 million dollars to leave their home. “Seventeen million dollars cannot pay for my memories. I was born in this house…This is my identity,” Al-Ghawei says.

The European Union describes Israel’s military and court actions in occupied East Jerusalem as discriminatory, and recognises a “clear Israeli intention to turn the annexation of East Jerusalem into a concrete fact.” A more subdued response to Israel’s continued occupation and colonisation of East Jerusalem has come from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently called Israel’s house demolition orders there “unhelpful, and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the ‘road map’.”

Under international law, the military occupation, settlement construction and accelerated annexation of Palestinian neighbourhoods and villages in East Jerusalem is illegal.

Jimmy Johnson, international coordinator with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, tells IPS that the only recourse that remains to end this battle in Sheikh Jarrah for the Palestinian residents is international pressure. “Most effective in the short term is trying to raise international pressure, especially on the United States. As long as the U.S. is backing Israel, relatively unconditionally, it doesn’t matter so much if Sweden or Brazil or India wants to pressure Israel directly. But if you can get the U.S. to switch its policies, especially in response to international pressure, that’s when we can begin to see some change here.

“Inside the Israeli bureaucracy, there is no more recourse left,” Johnson says. “International pressure is the only way that the Hanoun family and other families won’t be evicted from their houses.”

read the rest at the above link. meanwhile the theft continues. and the zionists are grasping at straws. now they have stolen a part of the old city in al quds to try to pretend that they belong on this land. yet another theft. yet another ridiculous fight over archaeology that never proves anything. they should stick to the stories in the bible. those mythological tales are as good as any story they fabricate about so-called evidence of their presence here. and even if it proved they were here eons ago that does not give them to live on a land that does not belong to them. in any case here is zeina awad’s report for al jazeera on the subject:

for those of you boycotters out there–or those of you who are convinced by the daily shreds of evidence i offer as to why you should boycott–here is a new website (new to me, that is) that i stumbled upon the other day. it is called karma banque and it is a website that is devoted to targeting corporations in the u.s. stock exchange that should be boycotted. the companies here are not here necessarily because they are zionist and support israeli terrorism per se. but the beauty of it is that the same companies that do that–coca cola, starbucks, mcdonald’s, microsoft and pepsi are on the list because of other sorts of criminal behavior. click the link above and check it out.

picture-1

yes, boycott works.

i often feel annoyed when i get certain responses to the boycott campaign. here are a few such typical responses:

1. it’s too hard, there are too many companies to boycott (the whiney response)

2. i cannot give up my (insert your favorite product here, e.g., coca-cola) (the lazy response)

3. it doesn’t work, it has no effect (the pessimistic response)

of course we know that it does work. it worked in south africa on many levels as the amazing bill fletcher laid out last week in an interview on radio intifada. his life-long work in labor, anti-racist, and anti-apartheid organizing as well as palestinian liberation organizing is discussed in this interview, which gives us a sense of the possible and the probable.

but there is also increasing, tangible evidence of the fact that it is indeed working as in rachel shabi’s report in the guardian this week:

Israeli companies are feeling the impact of boycott moves in Europe, according to surveys, amid growing concern within the Israeli business sector over organised campaigns following the recent attack on Gaza.

Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

“There is no doubt that a red light has been switched on,” Dan Katrivas, head of the foreign trade department at the Israel Manufacturers Association, told Maariv newspaper this week. “We are closely following what’s happening with exporters who are running into problems with boycotts.” He added that in Britain there exists “a special problem regarding the export of agricultural produce from Israel”.

in london, in particular, the boycott movement is getting rather creative as in this story from indymedia about their economic boycott israeli apartheid campaign:

Londoners converged towards Tesco supermarkets in West London in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Avocados, pomellos, cherry tomatoes, herbs and dates grown in Israel and on illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank were trapped in baskets and trolleys in order to disrupt the sale of such produce and symbolise the need for clear international action against illegal Israeli settlements and Israeli war crimes in the region. Leaflets were placed on the empty shelves explaining the role of Israeli goods in funding Israeli settler colonialism and state violence.

Tesco, and most supermarkets in Britain, stock and sell Israeli goods including produce from illegal Israeli settlements implanted in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Some of this settlement product is misleadingly labelled ‘West Bank’ leading many customers to believe they are buying Palestinian produce, while some is labelled ‘made in Israel’ even though the settlements are clearly colonial entities outside of Israel’s internationally recognized borders.

criminal-israeli-goods

but here in the above boycott action i continue to be frustrated by these western acts of solidarity that define palestine as only the west bank and gaza. this is a very small fraction of palestine. there are many israeli colonial companies occupying the land of destroyed palestinian villages and that profit off of this land theft and ethnic cleansing. these companies must be boycotted as well–and this includes those american and european companies doing the same thing here. all of this is occupied land. all of these companies must be boycotted.

there is also excellent news coming from the u.s. campaign to end the occupation in the monthly review zine about success with the boycott motorola campaign:

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and allied organizations participating in a national boycott campaign against Motorola welcomed news that Motorola Israel Ltd. has sold its Government Electronics Department, which made several products that enable Israel’s military occupation of and human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The reported sale of the Motorola Israel department occurred just two days after a globally-coordinated day of action to promote campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and corporations that profit from its human rights abuses of Palestinians. This day of action and the growing global BDS movement were inspired by the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for BDS campaigns targeting Israel, similar to campaigns targeting South Africa’s apartheid regime during the 1970s and 1980s.

this is excellent progress and needs to continue to build momentum because while people around the world are actively working to pressure the zionist entity in order to turn it into a pariah state, its partners in crime, mainly the united states, continue to support israeli terrorism as can be gleaned from this amnesty international report:

A massive consignment of US munitions was delivered to Israel in recent weeks, according to information revealed by Amnesty International. The organization received information that the Wehr Elbe, a German cargo ship, chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command, docked and unloaded its cargo of reportedly over 300 containers at the Israeli port of Ashdod, just 40km north of Gaza by road on 22 March.

The German ship left the USA for Israel on 20 December, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza. It was carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20 feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tons.

Asked about the Wehr Elbe, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Amnesty International that “the unloading of the entire US munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod [Israel] on 22 March”. The spokesperson said that the shipment was destined for a US pre-positioned ammunition stockpile in Israel. Under a US-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.

clearly the u.s. and the zionist entity alike have a history of violating international law as george bisharat makes clear in this electronic intifada article:

Israel’s campaign to rewrite international law to its advantage is deliberate and knowing. As the former head of Israel’s 20-lawyer International Law Division in the Military Advocate General’s office, Daniel Reisner, recently stated: “If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries … International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal molds. Eight years later, it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”

In the Gaza fighting, Israel has again tried to transform international law through violations. For example, its military lawyers authorized the bombing of a police cadet graduation ceremony, killing at least 63 young Palestinian men. Under international law, such deliberate killings of civilian police are war crimes. Yet Israel treats all employees of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as terrorists, and thus combatants. Secretaries, court clerks, housing officials, judges — all were, in Israeli eyes, legitimate targets for liquidation.

Israeli jurists also instructed military commanders that any Palestinian who failed to evacuate a building or area after warnings of an impending bombardment was a “voluntary human shield” and thus a participant in combat, subject to lawful attack. One method of warning employed by Israeli gunners, dubbed “knocking on the roof,” was to fire first at a building’s corner, then, a few minutes later, to strike more structurally vulnerable points. To imagine that Gazan civilians — penned into the tiny Gaza Strip by Israeli troops, and surrounded by the chaos of battle — understood this signal is fanciful at best.

Israel has a lengthy history of unpunished abuses of international law — among the most flagrant its decades-long colonization of the West Bank. To its credit, much of the world has refused to ratify Israel’s violations. Unfortunately, our government is an exception, having frequently provided diplomatic cover for Israel’s abuses. Our diplomats have vetoed 42 UN Security Council resolutions to shelter Israel from the consequences of its often illegal behavior.

there are so many ways in which the israeli terrorist state violates laws. not only by bombing and murdering palestinians, but also by the way it continues to steal land and destroy palestinian homes every day. a new report details this staggering history, though only in recent years, although this has gone on since the late 19th century:

At least 19,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israel, Limes magazine, the Italian geopolitical review publication, reported on Tuesday….

The article breaks down the numbers as follows:

In 5% of cases, demolition is defined as punitive, the magazine said.

In 35% of cases the demolitions were based on home owners lacking proper permits. The magazine reminds its reader, “is important to remember that very often the Palestinians have no other choice but to build illegally because obtaining permits has become almost impossible.” It also notes that 95% of permit applications made in 2000-20007 were denied.

According to the publication, 65% of the demolitions were described as “military,” defined as “homes razed to the ground by the Israeli army during military operations.”

For 2009 data, the magazine quotes the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which puts the number of homes demolished since January at 32.

The article concludes that the issue of house demolitions is destined to become “An increasingly central issue not only within the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but also in the international context and is likely to destabilize even the most solid alliances that Israel has with some long-time friends, first of which is the United States.”

these reports are often written by various international agencies and ngos, though they rarely amount to anything because there is not the pressure applied to the regime after the evidence is collected and documented. for instance a new report about the illegality of israeli colonies in al quds:

A confidential report from the European Union, dated March 7th, recently leaked to the media accuses Israel of “using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank Separation barrier to actively pursue the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.”

Recently, Israeli officials announced plans to demolish over 2,000 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, an announcement that was met with anger and outrage from the Palestinian residents, many of whom have lived in East Jerusalem for scores of generations. The new report acknowledges the recent increase in settlement expansion and the plans of the newly-formed Israeli government for the destruction of whole neighborhoods of Palestinian homes at an even greater rate.

The new Jerusalem mayor has announced plans to destroy huge swathes of Palestinian homes and replace them with a Disney-like biblical theme park for tourists. Most affected are the Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods.

The EU report cites Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory….” Neither shall “The Occupying Power….deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” In addition, numerous UN resolutions established “no legal validity” for settlement building or for East Jerusalem’s annexation.

Yet settlement expansions continue at a “rapid pace” – in the past year alone plans for nearly 5500 new units have been submitted for public approval of which 3000 have already been approved.

The rapid takeover of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem has been taking place largely without international outcry, despite the illegality of the expansion under international law and the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

just as bisharat discusses in the article quoted above, the zionists always ignore such reports because they can: no one ever does anything to stop them from murdering and stealing and rendering palestinians homeless refugees. here, for example, is a colonial court ruling:

A petition presented by a Palestinian homeowner from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was rejected by an Israeli court on Wednesday, a decision which will allow home demolitions to move forward.

The homeowner, Darwish Hijazi, presented his home ownership documents to the Israeli court, but the judge rejected the documents. Israeli settlers moved onto Hijazi’s property several years ago, and he was unable to get rid of them or stop them from taking over his land and moving into his home.

Now, despite being the original homeowner and long-time resident, it is Hijazi who will be forced to move to allow the Israeli settlers, who took over parts of his home using violence and force, to remain.

whether it is their so-called “justice system” or the israeli colonists themselves, along with their terrorist army or police, they continue to terrorize palestinians attempting to provoke various methods of ethnic cleansing: just as in 1948 and every day since then. this is what happened in al quds this weekend:

Dozens of Israeli settlers backed by police took over a Palestinian house in the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday morning.

Ma’an’s correspondent observed settlers raiding the house of Naser Jaber, in the As-Sa’diyeh neighborhood of the Old City. A scuffle took place between the owner and the settlers before police intervened, allowing the settlers to take control of the house and sending the owner away.

Israeli police then imposed a neighborhood lockdown, prohibiting residents from entering or leaving their homes. Several youth were seized during ensuing clashes in the tense half hour between the arrival of the settlers and the total closure of the area.

Jaber went immediately to the court to put forward his case, saying he was going to demand the removal of the settlers from his residence, which is home to eight. Jaber noted that the small area of the Old City is home to seven other families and said there had been a repeated settler presence in the area over the past months.

Also on Thursday the the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality demolished a shop near the Shmidt School, on Nablus road, just outside of the Old City. The municipality claimed that the shop was built without permits.

Separately, personnel from the Jerusalem Municipality went to the Jerusalem-area village of Al-Issawiya, and handed out several demolition warnings. The men surveyed the area in preparation for the demolitions.

in khalil they are doing the same thing:

Settlers in Hebron took over four shops on Ash-Shuhada Street in the Old City market in the area abutting the illegal Israeli settlement of Abraham Avinu.

Several Ash-Shuhada Street shops were ordered closed in 1994 following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. The street is a market road roughly parallel north of the Old City. Access to the street was totally restricted in 2000, so only residents of the area could enter the zone.

Recently pressure from locals and international NGOs have allowed some shops in the area to re-open, although the decision was met with anger and protests from Hebron’s 700-strong settler population, some who live in occupied homes and trailers just north of the street.

The shops occupied by the settlers Friday belong to Azzam E’wewi, Baha E’wewi, Hussam Bader and Muhammad Qawasmi. The shops have been closed since 1994.

and near where i live in nablus more land is set to be confiscated as well:

Israeli authorities issued orders to confiscate more than one thousand dunums of Palestinian lands of the village of Qaryut south of Nablus, head of the villages and municipal affairs office in Nablus Ghassan Daghlas said on Thursday.

On the land a road will be constructed linking the three illegal settlements, He noted that “this decision aims at to construct a three kilometer road to link the Israeli illegal settlement of Shilo, and the illegal settlement outposts of Hayovel and a second known locally as the “Qaryut” outpost.

Daghlas noted that Israeli bulldozers had been surveying the area for days, and that there seemed to be a coordinated effort between soldiers and settlers, who constructed a road barrier near the village of Der Sharaf, while military crews expanded the Yitzhar road after confiscating Palestinian lands adjacent to it.

The village representative also mentioned that several home demolition orders were served in the past weeks in the nearby villages of Tana and At-Tawila, both south of Nablus.

Head of the village council of Qaryot, Abed An-Naser Badawi, told Ma’an that “the settlers along with the soldiers blocked the southern entrance of the village and began to confiscate the land.” The day before he said settlers distributed written orders saying the land would be confiscated.

Qaryot village has a population of more than 2700 people is surrounded with a number of Israeli settlements.

and, of course, israeli terrorists do not only steal land; they steal people too. in khalil there is a new report on the numbers of palestinians kidnapped:

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) in Hebron district stated in its monthly report that the Israeli army have kidnapped more than 101 Palestinians in several invasions in the province since last March.

Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the PPS said “Among the detainees, one woman, 11 patients, 4 children and 17 students, and 12 detainees had been transferred to administrative detention”.

Najjar added that the army kidnapped 361 residents in Hebron since the beginning of this year, including 91 who were kidnapped in February.

“Israeli soldiers committed during the arrests several illegal violations against the prisoners and their families. This included beating them with rifle-butts, vandalising and demolishing their homes, detaining family members in one room, looting money and confiscating documents, computer equipment and mobile phones.” Najjar stated.

Najjar called for human rights institutions and the international community to intervene for the protection of the Palestinian people from the illegal Israeli practices.

likewise in jenin there was an invasion yesterday in which several palestinians were kidnapped:

The Israeli military kidnapped Thursday morning 12 residents, including elders and children, in a village near Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank.

Eyewitnesses reported that more than 20 military vehicles stormed the village at two after midnight on Thursday, surrounded a neighborhood after closing all entrances, and prevented people from leaving, and even barred from going to dawn prayers at the local mosque.

The residents said that soldiers raided homes, forced dozens out, searched the buildings and deliberately destroyed their contents.

A citizen said that the soldiers occupied his house for several hours, and after searching it they kidnapped his 15-year-old son and took him to unknown destination.

The resident added that soldiers took several young men to the main village square and interrogated them before kidnapping a number of residents.

these are just a few more reasons to continue and expand the boycott movement. do you really need that bottle of coca cola?

more on the real international criminals

i posted some writings by ketih harmon snow a week or so ago on sudan, the congo, and rwanda while thinking through who counts as a war criminal in light of the international criminal court’s (icc) arrest warrant for omar al bashir. snow has a new piece in the san francisco bay view that is directly related to why the icc is after the wrong guy:

First note that the ICC can now be viewed as a tool of hegemonic U.S. foreign policy, where the weapons deployed by the U.S. and its allies include the accusations of, and indictments for, human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. To understand this, we can ask why no white man has yet been charged with these or other offenses at the ICC – which now holds five Black African “warlords” and seeks to incarcerate and bring to trial another Black man, also an Arab, Omar Bashir.

Why hasn’t George W. Bush been indicted? Or what about Donald Rumsfeld? Dick Cheney? Henry Kissinger? Ehud Olmert? Tony Blair? Vadim Alperin? John Bredenkamp?

Following on the heals of the announcement that the ICC handed down seven war crimes charges against al-Bashir, a story broadcast over all the Western media system and into every American living room by day’s end, President al-Bashir ordered the expulsion of 10 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Darfur under the pretense of being purely “humanitarian” organizations.

What has not anywhere in the English press been reported is that the United States of America has just stepped up its ongoing war for control of Sudan and her resources: petroleum, copper, gold, uranium, fertile plantation lands for sugar and gum Arabic – essential to Coke, Pepsi and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. This war has been playing out on the ground in Darfur through so-called “humanitarian” NGOs, private military companies, “peacekeeping” operations and covert military operations backed by the U.S. and its closest allies.

However, the U.S. war for Sudan has always revolved around “humanitarian” operations – purportedly neutral and presumably concerned only about protecting innocent human lives – that often provide cover for clandestine destabilizing activities and interventions.

Americans need to recognize that the administration of President Barack Obama has begun to step up war for control of Sudan in keeping with the permanent warfare agenda of both Republicans and Democrats. The current destabilization of Sudan mirrors the illegal covert guerrilla war carried out in Rwanda – also launched and supplied from Uganda – from October 1990 to July 1994. The Rwandan Defense Forces (then called the Rwandan Patriotic Army) led by Major Gen. Paul Kagame achieved the U.S. objective of a coup d’etat in Rwanda through that campaign, and President Kagame has been a key interlocutor in the covert warfare underway in Darfur, Sudan.

During the presidency of George W. Bush, the U.S. government was involved with the intelligence apparatus of the Government of Sudan (GoS). At the same time, other U.S. political and corporate factions were pressing for a declaration of genocide against the GoS.

Now, given the shift of power and the appointment of top Clinton officials formerly involved in covert operations in Rwanda, Uganda, Congo and Sudan during the Clinton years, pressure has been applied to heighten the campaign to destabilize the GoS, portrayed as a “terrorist” Arab regime, but an entity operating outside the U.S.-controlled banking system. The former campaign saw overt military action with the U.S. military missile attacks against the Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (1998): This was an international war crime by the Clinton administration and it involved officials now in power.

The complex geopolitical struggle to control Sudan manifests through the flashpoint war for Darfur and it involves such diverse factions as the Lord’s Resistance Army, backed by Khartoum, which is also connected to the wars in the Congo and northern Uganda. Chad is involved, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Germany, the Central African Republic, Libya, France, Israel, China, Taiwan, South Africa and Rwanda.

There are U.S. special forces on the ground in the frontline states of Chad, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the big questions are: 1) How many of the killings are being committed by U.S. proxy forces and blamed on al-Bashir and the GoS? And 2) who funds, arms and trains the rebel insurgents?

United States Agency for International Devastation

Rebels? Insurgents? The drumbeat of Western propaganda portrays the conflict as a one-sided affair: a “genocidal counter-insurgency by the GoS” – in the words of Eric Reeves – versus the good Samaritans of the “humanitarian” NGO community … and throw in a few (non-descript) rebels.

“Sudan ordered at least 10 humanitarian groups expelled from Darfur on Wednesday after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the country’s president,” wrote Associated Press reporter Ellen M. Lederer. “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the action ‘represents a serious setback to lifesaving operations in Darfur’ and urged Sudan to reverse its decision, U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.”

However, when Ban Ki-moon met with Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame recently, he never called for Kagame’s arrest, no matter the findings of two international courts of law that have issued indictments against top RPA officials. Instead Ban Ki-moon praised Kagame and called for African countries to hunt down and arrest Hutu people purportedly involved in the now specious “genocide” in Rwanda in 1994.

The non-governmental aid groups ordered out of Darfur by President al-Bashir on March 4 were Oxfam, CARE, MSF-Holland, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, Action Contre la Faim, Solidarites and CHF International.

Of course, the Western media is all over the expulsion of any big “humanitarian” moneymaker from Darfur – the moral outrage is so thick you can almost wipe it. The NGOs and the press that peddles their images of suffering babes complain that hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees will now be subjected to massive unassisted suffering – as opposed to the assisted suffering they previously faced – but never asks with any serious and honest zeal, why and how the displaced persons and refugees came to be displaced or homeless to begin with. Neither do they ask about all the money, intelligence sharing, deal making and collaboration with private or governmental military agencies.

Large “humanitarian” NGOs (and “conservation” NGOs) operate as de facto multinational corporations revolving around massive private profits and human suffering. In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Darfur these NGOs also provide infrastructure, logistical and intelligence collaboration that supports U.S. military and government agendas in the region. Most are aligned with big foundations, corporate sponsors and USAID – itself a close and long-time partner for interventions with Africom and the Pentagon.

Refugees and displaced populations are strategic tools of statecraft and foreign policy just as “humanitarian” NGOs consistently use food as a weapon and populations as human shields. The history of the U.S. covert war in South Sudan is rich with examples of the SPLA and its “humanitarian” partners, especially Christian “charities,” committing such war crimes and crimes against humanity. (See: Keith Harmon Snow, “Oil in Darfur? Special Ops in Somalia?” Global Research, Feb. 7, 2007.)

CARE International has received funding from Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest and most secretive producer of weapons of mass destruction, and both CARE and Save the Children are tied up with weapons and extractive industries in other ways. A peak at the board of directors of Save the Children makes it clear why the U.S. media is so devoid of truth about Darfur.

Similarly, the International Rescue Committee does not work with refugees, per se, but serves as a policy and pressure group involved in funneling private profits from the West back to the West. The IRC has also been cited for involvement in military operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it has deep ties to people like Henry Kissinger.

The AID (read: misery) industry in Sudan was by the mid-1990s the largest so-called “humanitarian” enterprise on the planet, Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) – a form of managed inequality and a temporary and mobile economy of white privilege, adventurism and, of course, good will (sic). The misery industry shifted its focus from South Sudan to Darfur after a pseudo peace “treaty” was organized to end the decades old war between the SPLA and GoS; the U.S. and Israel backed the SPLA from 1990 onward and continue to do so at present. The result of more than 12 years of illegal U.S. covert low-intensity warfare in Sudan resulted in the creation of the independent and sovereign state of South Sudan in circa 2005 – a state dominated by Jewish and Christian faith-based interests and Western multinational corporations.

Much of the AID infrastructure in Sudan has at one time or another been used as a weapon through the use of human shields, food deliveries to refugee populations inseparable from insurgents and shipments of weapons by “humanitarian” NGOs. This is both incidental and deliberate policy. Christian “relief” NGOs played a huge role in supporting the covert Western insurgency in South Sudan. One notable “humanitarian” NGO involved in weapons deliveries was the Norwegian People’s Aid (known affectionately in the field as the Norwegian People’s Army).

In Darfur, Sudan, the U.S. government agenda is to win control of natural resources and lever the Arab government into a corner and, at last, establish a more “friendly” government that will suit the corporate interests of the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Israel.

Several major think tanks – read: propaganda, lobbying and pressure – behind the destabilization of Sudan include the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, Center for American Progress, Center for Security Policy, International Rescue Committee and International Crisis Group. Individuals from seemingly diverse positions of the political and ideological spectrum run these organizations, which are ultra-nationalist capitalist organizations bent on global military-economic domination.

The former Clinton officials most heavily focused on the destabilization of Sudan include Susan Rice, Madeleine Albright, Roger Winter, Prudence Bushnell, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Anthony Lake and John Prendergast. Carr Center for Human Rights co-founder Samantha Power, now on the Obama National Security Council, has helped to whitewash clandestine U.S. involvement in Sudan.

John Prendergast has continued to peddle disinformation disguised as policy and human rights concerns through the International Crisis Group (ICG) and through its many clone organizations like ENOUGH, ONE and RAISE HOPE FOR CONGO. Prendergast has been a pivotal agent behind the hijacking of U.S. public concern and action through the disingenuous – and discredited – SAVE DARFUR movement.

Other notable agents of disinformation on Sudan include Alex de Waal and Smith College Professor Eric Reeves. It is through these and other conduits to the corporate U.S. media that the story of “genocide” in Sudan is cast as an Africa-Arab affair devoid of Western interests.

In 1992, human rights researchers Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal established the London-based NGO African Rights. In August 1995, African Rights published “Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance,” one of many pivotal “human rights” reports that falsely represented events in Rwanda, set the stage for victor’s justice at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, and began the process of dehumanizing millions of Hutu people and protecting the true terrorists: Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, the Rwandan Patriotic Army and their Western backers.

the article is much longer and should be widely read, especially as he gets into various aspects of international and american complicity in sudan and the region more generally. and as referenced in the snow piece, sudan is hardly the only country the u.s. is complicit in not only creating massive war crimes and crimes against humanity, but also in blaming their proxies, letting them take the fall. there was a demonstration this week in washington dc calling for hands off sudan–here is the crux of what the demonstrators were asking for:

A true solution to the crisis cannot come from the imperialist nations who seek only to exploit the Sudanese land and people. It must come from the people of the region who have the right to determine their future without the interference of the former colonizing powers. Hands off Sudan!

but it is not just in sudan that we need to halt american imperial interests. in the congo this is true too, though in different ways. ann garrison, also writing in the san francisco bay view this week offers somewhat of a blueprint on why we should act and what we should do to stop the u.s. involvement in the congo:

The stakes in the Congo War are enormously high. They include:

1) War itself, because, again, the Congo war is, above all, a war for cobalt, the mineral most essential to the manufacture of modern weapons of war. Cobalt is required to build jet fighter bomber engines, missiles, including nuclear missiles, battleships, including our nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, and virtually all modern industrially manufactured weapons of war, except perhaps biological and chemical weapons.

Cobalt is essential to the manufacture of anything requiring high grade steel.

Shocks in cobalt’s supply and price during the 1970s and early ‘80s led to a 1982 Congressional Budget Office document warning that the U.S. would have to be prepared to go to war to secure cobalt reserves so as to secure the power to manufacture for war, especially in time of war.

2) An ongoing African holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Congolese people. Six million have died, according to widely acknowledged sources including the International Relief Commission and the U.N. Forty-five thousand Congolese continue to die every month, with no end in sight; many die in refugee camps of starvation and easily curable disease, and one third of these are children.

3) Barack Obama’s legacy, and our legacy, as the Americans who elected him. Will our legacy be an ongoing African holocaust, another 6 million African Congolese lives? Will it be the expansion of Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, throughout Africa and the further plundering of Africa’s resources?

Some, including Black Agenda Report editor Glen Ford, say that Barack Obama is “U.S. corporate empire in Black face” or that corporate America desperately needed a Black face now. This is arguable, especially given that, in 2007, Africa surpassed the U.S. wartorn Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports.

However, though huge corporations generously filled Obama’s campaign coffers, so did many everyday Americans, who also organized and rallied for Obama with high hopes of peace and change. Many now at least seem to have a place at the table that they didn’t have before.

garrison offers various things you can do, but the last one is the one that i think is the most important:

4) Call on Barack Obama to close the U.S. military base in Kigali, Rwanda, and end all U.S. military support to its authoritarian African puppet regimes, including those of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame and now Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

to be sure more activism and pressure needs to be put on the u.s. not on african leaders. as i have said before, we need to get to the root of the problem and the root is clearly american imperialism. and it is not only in africa, of course. it is also in iraq and afghanistan. jeremy scahill asks some important questions on alternet about the ways in which obama is funding mercenaries like blackwater, which is one of the u.s. imperial arms:

For those already outraged at the AIG bonus scandal, here is a fact that should add more fuel to the fire: The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May. I reviewed Blackwater’s recent transactions with the Obama State Department and discovered a $45 million payment to Blackwater on February 4, 2009 for “protective services-Iraq.” It is described as a “funding action only.” Here is the interesting part: The estimated “Ultimate Completion Date” is 5/07/2011.

The Washington Times (as described below) reported on a $22 million payment to Blackwater on February 2. Combined with the $45 million payment I discovered, that’s nearly $67 million in 72 hours. Not bad for a company supposedly going down in flames.

With the U.S. economy in shambles and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and keep their homes, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton need to explain to U.S. taxpayers how they justify these mega-payments to a scandal-plagued mercenary company. (At the very least, someone should ask Robert Gibbs about it).

george bush’s recent trip to canada seems to have proved unsuccessful in terms of arresting him for beginning and continuing some of these american war crimes. but the problem is that those imperial war crimes that the u.s. foments in africa are always left off the list. americans, canadians, etc. always want to protest iraq and afghanistan as if it is disconnected from the u.s. so-called “war on terror” that it claims it is fighting in africa (read: theft of natural resources among other things). in any case, it seems canadians offered some decent protesting, though it would have nicer if someone arrested him…:

Welcoming Bush to Calgary will be a rally and protest, the culmination of a week-long campaign organized by The People vs. Bush, a committee of peace, labor, social justice and environmental groups. The events also included a mock war crimes trial on Saturday (Bush was convicted), and a public forum outlining the case for investigation and prosecution.

Ahead of the visit, a group called Lawyers Against the War sent a letter to the RCMP war crimes section requesting the police force bar Bush from entering Canada, citing torture and other war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay committed under his watch.

“We are now very sure that the crimes were committed,” said Gail Davidson, author of the letter and co-founder of the Canadian-based international organization of jurists. “The Bush administration planned, authorized, directed and funded those crimes.”

and it seems that canadians threw their shoes at bush, though like muntadher al zaidi, they missed:

Three Canadians were arrested and others threw shoes in protest against George W. Bush on Tuesday when he gave his first post-presidential speech in western Canada’s oil patch.

The footwear was tossed at an effigy of the 43rd US president outside a Calgary conference center where Bush was to speak to some 1,500 people at a luncheon, said Colette Lemieux of the Canadian Peace Alliance.

no one was arrested, but i wonder when the real criminals will be behind bars so we can free the current prisoners. everywhere. whether they are imprisoned by colonialism and imperialism or by racism and hegemony.

on buying local, branding, & boycott

dsc099981

this is how i often buy my milk, yogurt, and labne. a lovely man from a nearby village comes to my neighborhood every morning with his donkey. he shouts “laban” and you know he is here (there is a helpful echo that means his voice carries through the buildings). as a part of boycotting i try to support local farmers as much as possible. this means that i always ask questions about where the food is grown–the exact village–before i buy it. unfortunately, this means the huge fruit and vegetable market in downtown nablus is off limits. most of their food is from the colonizing israelis. but there are fruit and vegetable stands in the old city of nablus who only sell baladi produce. finding baladi food is not difficult, it just means entering into conversations with the merchant. but, of course, i always prefer to buy local. to support the fellaheen as much as possible.

my friends anne and jesse who live in shefa amr have a great new blog about living in 1948 palestine. they, too, work really hard to boycott israeli colonial products even while living in their midst–a difficult task to be sure, but one they have found ways around. it is worth reading their whole post, but here is the part relevant to what i’m talking about:

We are continuing to look for ways to eat locally produced food in Palestine. Of course because it supports farmers and the local economy and tastes better, but also because we spend less money on Israeli products. There is one Israeli dairy company, TNUVA, which accounts for 70% of the dairy products bought in Israel. Milk, eggs and cheese. All commodity production. All grain feed. Full of hormones and antibiotics. Imagining a cow’s stomach twisting around its other organs in order to digest corn feed, all while living in a CAFO is not the dairy industry I want to support. When we first arrived, we simply avoided milk and bought cheese from a small Palestinian producer in a nearby village. Then we discovered the ease to which we could find Helib Baladi (literally, milk from the country) at a nearby butcher. So every week we pick up a few liters of fresh sheep’s milk. We get to know the butcher and circumvent the Israeli commodity system.

this is the sort of thing we need to be focusing on: buying local. of course, i have a hierarchy when i shop. 1) local palestinian products; 2) palestinian products from companies; 3) arab products; 4) european products; 5) american products. living here, i never have and have never needed to buy anything from israeli colonists. there are people working on boycott at the institutional level, and while i support these efforts, i remain suspicious given that all the big palestinian businessmen have interests in the palestinian authority. but here is some news about organizing in qalqilia from ma’an:

The Palestinian Popular Committee for boycotting Israeli products visited the West Bank city of Qalqiliya to promote its renewed campaign.

The campaign recently redoubled its efforts in the northern West Bank, in hopes of convincing 50 localities to participate in the boycott. The strategy of the boycott is to deprive the Israeli occupation of economic support by refusing to buy its products.

Members of the Committee visited offices of the ministries of Religious Affairs and Education. They met with director of the Ministry of Education office in Qalqiliya, Yousif Uda and agreed with him that schools organize activities to explain about divestment.

They also visited the union of pharmacists and met with its head Raed Wilwil. Another visit was paid to the union of physicians. According to members of the committee, all expressed willingness to cooperate with the campaign.

Representatives of the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) in Qalqiliya welcomed the campaign and applauded the organizers from represent six local organizations:

1 – Agricultural Relief represented in the campaign by Khalid Mansour.
2 – Youth Development Society represented by Walid Jibreel.
3 – Union of farmers represented by Amjad Omar.
4 – Union of Savings and Loans Societies represented by Wafa Juda and Basima Shawahna.
5- Rural women development society represented by Nihaya Abu Ruweis and Raghda Sabri.
6 – Agricultural Charity represented by Ammar Huwari and Mahmoud Younis.

the educational aspects are so essential and i cannot stress this enough. i went to a market near the university after school because i often buy my groceries there during the week. the market has way too much stuff from israeli colonists for my liking and i comment on that every time i go. but they also have unique stuff i cannot find anywhere else like masafi juice, which i love because it has no sugar in it. normally the water is just palestinian water. i don’t drink bottled water so i don’t usually focus on it when i shop, but today i noticed they had two new brands: ghadeer from jordan and an israeli colonial water product. i don’t really see why we need to be importing jordanian water given that there are two palestinian companies bottling water. (and in general i don’t see the point of drinking bottled water here in the first place.) but i was so pissed when i saw the israeli colonial water. i asked why they added this product to their stock and the clerk told me, “it’s not israeli, it’s from a settlement.” mish ma’oul! as if that is somehow better?! i was so shocked i didn’t know what to say.

the other day pulse published a video on their blog from europalestine about a new french initiative that should be duplicated in every city–including here in palestine! watch the video below and see this amazing demonstration:

Viva la France … EuroPalestine activists take it to the supermarket aisles. The solidarity whistling of this boycott army will put a smile on your face. Never mind not understanding French. The actions are loud and clear.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "ACTION BOYCOTT ISRAEL", posted with vodpod

but i want to just say that this philosophy of buying local is not specific to palestine. it is something that people should do everywhere for health reasons, for economic reasons, and yes, for political reasons. trying to stay away from corporate, capitalist greed by any means necessary is always the best way of operating in every situation. here is an article by andrea whitfil on alternet that is important reading for american socially and environmentally conscious consumers. it seems that many of the brands that we know and love have been gobbled up by bigger corporations. her article should be read in full, but here are the main disturbing findings:

Needless to say, I was shocked when I recently found out that Burt’s Bees is now owned by Clorox, a massive corporate company that has historically cared very little about the environment, but whose main industry is directly associated with harmful chemicals, some of which require warning labels for legal sale.

Clorox; yes, that’s right — the bleach company with an estimated revenue of $ 4.8 billion that employs nearly 7,600 workers (now bees) and sells products like Liquid-Plumr, Pine-Sol and Armor All, a far cry from the origins of Burt….

Well, no more. My bathroom assessments will never be the same. Tom’s of Maine is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, a massive, tanklike company with an estimated 36,000 employees and revenue of approximately $11.4 billion. Its big products include: Ajax, Anbesol and Speedstick….

In the dairy section sit many flavors of Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt. I knew its socially conscious CEO, Gary Hirshberg, had created major organic brand recognition to become the No. 1 seller of organic yogurt in the United States, but since then Danone, the French conglomerate (which also owns Brown Cow), acquired a majority holding in Stoneyfield. This is the same Danone that had to recall large quantities of its yogurt in 2007 after it was found to contain unsafe levels of dioxins. (In an interesting twist, the still-active Hirshberg sits on the board of Dannon U.S.A. Unlike most of the early entrepreneurs, who took the dough and left the scene, Hirshberg is still involved. )

Meanwhile, I learned that Horizon Organic milk was bought out by the largest diary company in the U.S., Dean Foods Co., in 2005.

Next I ventured to the juice section. Drinking Odwalla juices was an expensive habit I had justified for years because of its healthy California brand. The ubiquitous refrigerators in thousands of stores should have given it away that Odwalla wasn’t the small company it once was. It is now owned by Coca-Cola. Almost as soon as Coca-Cola bought the company, back in 2001 for $181 million, it stopped selling the fresh-squeezed OJ that had made Odwalla famous and popular among the healthy set. With its massive distribution system, fresh squeezed wouldn’t last the days and weeks the juices are in transit or on the shelf.

Not to be outdone (although it took it a while), Pepsi bought Naked Juice in 2006 for $450 million, in order to compete with Odwalla. Smuckers, the brand we are told is the “brand we can trust”, grabbed several juice mainstays from the health food store shelves: After the fall — R.W. Knudsen and Santa Cruz Organic.

Turns out that Coca-Cola also owns Glaceau, the company once known for its “fresh new approach to bottled water that is inspired by nature and enhanced by science.” Glaceau is the maker of Vitamin Water, Fruit Water, Smart Water and Vitamin Energy — all bottled waters that are adorably marketed and loaded with sugar. It’s no wonder Coca-Cola was slapped with a lawsuit in 2006 for making deceptive and unsubstantiated health claims in its Vitamin Water marketing strategies; they are selling glorified sugar water….

And as Michael Blanding notes on AlterNet, “In fact, many times bottled water is tap water. Contrary to the image of water flowing from pristine mountain springs, more than a quarter of bottled water actually comes from municipal water supplies. The industry is dominated by three companies, who together control more than half the market: Coca-Cola, which produces Dasani; Pepsi, which produces Aquafina; and Nestle, which produces several “local” brands, including Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park, Ozarka and Calistoga. Both Coke and Pepsi exclusively use tap water for their sources, while Nestle uses tap water in some brands….

Over in the breakfast aisle, my friend was a bit apoplectic when we learned that the “super healthy” Kashi cereals, the favorites of millions of healthy breakfast eaters, was bought in July 2000 for an “undisclosed sum” by Kellogg’s, the 12th-largest company in North American food sales, according to Food Processing. I picked up a box of Kashi’s “Go Lean Crunch” and searched every word; not one mention of the fact that Kellogg’s owns them. That change was rally below the radar. In 2004, Kraft Foods, known for processed cheeses and Kool-Aid, bought the natural cereal maker Back to Nature. Kraft is a subsidiary of Altria, which also owns Philip Morris USA, one of the world’s largest producers of cigarettes….

A little more digging shows that General Mills owns Cascadian Farm; Barbara’s Bakery is owned by Weetabix, the leading British cereal company, which is owned by a private investment firm in England; Mother’s makes it clear that it is owned by Quaker Oats (which is owned by PepsiCo); Health Valley and Arrowhead Mills are owned by Hain Celestial Group, a natural food company traded on the NASDAQ, with H.J. Heinz owning 16 percent of that company.

After the Kashi news, I wondered what was next? I didn’t have to go any further than the organic chocolate aisle of my favorite deli to find Green and Black’s organic chocolate was taken over in 2005 by Schweppes, the 10th-largest company in North American packaged-food sales. And even more surprising to chocolate lovers is that Dagoba Chocolate, which had a little cult chocolate following for a while, is surprise, surprise, owned by Hershey Foods….

just a reminder: many of these american products should be boycotted because they heavily invest in israeli terrorism. those companies, which have now swallowed up companies many progressives and radicals may purchase, should be added to the boycott list. kraft (phillip morris, malboro cigarettes), nestle coca cola, pepsi, all bolded above.

one other interesting tidbit on the level about the way that israeli colonialism infests the palestinian economy. a friend told me today that a friend of hers who is a tax inspector was looking at a shipment on a truck. that shipment had on it products made here in nablus and was heading to some unknown israeli colonial location. what was on this truck? the uniforms for israeli terrorists. yes, that’s right, it seems that at least some of those uniforms are sewn right here in nablus.

and it seems that the israeli colonists are trying to be clever now as they grow more aware of the boycott here. those of us working on the boycott got our university cafeteria to stop using israeli colonial ketchup. they switched to a brand from oman. however, this week there was a new brand. it had hebrew writing on it so i complained. they told me, “no, this is from ramallah.” so i looked at the back and sure enough, in english, it said it was made in bil’in, a village near ramallah. today my friend and tried calling the numbers–both a land line and a cell phone line–to see if it is really made in palestine, or just packaged here, or what. neither number works.

on american crimes & the international criminal court

khalil bendib
khalil bendib

one of the many reasons i love flashpoints so much and listen to the podcast every day is because they are the only news source in the u.s. that reports on news that no one else does and from a point of view that no one else shares. take, for instance, the recent interview dennis bernstein did with keith harmon snow. snow is a journalist who covers africa and provides a context for the situation in the congo and sudan that you will never read or hear in most other american news sources. snow has a website where some of his writings and other interviews are archived. i think it is especially important to consider his views in light of the international criminal court’s indictment of omar al-bashir:

The ICC on Wednesday indicted al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which included murder, rape and torture.

The three-judge panel said it had insufficient grounds to consider charges of genocide, though the ICC said the non-inclusion of a genocide charge could change “if additional evidence is gathered by the prosecution”.

The US administration, which has imposed sanctions against Sudan, welcomed the ICC’s decision.

The UK and France have also been in favour of the warrant while the EU has urged Khartoum to fully co-operate with the ICC.

But their support has added fuel to the fire of those who see the ICC’s decision as “neo-colonialist”.

“They do not want Sudan … to become stable,” Mustafa Osman Ismail, an adviser to al-Bashir.

“The court is only one mechanism of neo-colonialist policy used by the West against free and independent countries.”

i was thinking about this court case and the charge of neo-colonialism yesterday in my postcolonial literature class. my students are reacing cinua achebe’s things fall apart. we are still discussing the first half of the novel, before the british colonists arrive in nigeria and begin to destroy the traditional society. one way they do this is by building prisons, of course. the last passage my students and i discussed was the part where the protagonist, okonkwo, is exiled for seven years because he accidentally killed someone in his father’s village where he lives with his wives and children. the punishment is for them all to go to his mother’s village for 7 years. here is a passage where one of the village elders, uchendu, in okonkwo’s mother’s village offers some context on this punishment:

“Why is Okonkwo with us today? This is not his clan. We are only his mother’s kinsmen. He does not belong here. He is in exile, condemned for seven years to live in a strange land. And so he is bowed with grief. But there is just one question I would like to ask him. Can you tell me, Okonkwo, why it is that one of the commonest names we give our children is Nneka, or ‘Mother is Supreme?’ We all know that a man is the head of the family and his wives do his bidding. A child belongs to its father and his family and not to its mother and her family. A man belongs to his fatherland and not to his motherland. And yet we say Nneka–‘Mother is Supreme,’ Why is that?”

There was silence. “I want Okonkwo to answer me,” said Uchendu.

“I do not know the answer,” Okonkwo replied.

“You do not know the answer? So you see that you are a child. You have many wives and many children–more children than I have. You are a great man in your clan. But you are still a child, my child. Listen to me and I shall tell you. But there is one more question I shall ask you. Why is it that when a woman dies she is taken home to be buried with her own kinsman? She is not buried with her husband’s kinsmen. Why is that? Your mother was brought home to me and buried with my people. Why was that?”

Okonkwo shook his head.

“He does not know that either,” said Uchendu, “and yet he is full of sorrow because he has come to live in his motherland for a few years.” He laughed a mirthless laughter, and turned to his sons and daughters. “What about you? Can you answer my question?”

They all shook their heads.

“Then listen to me,” he said and cleared his throat. “It’s true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother’s hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say that a mother is supreme.” (137-139)

i bring up achebe in this context as a way of thinking about what justice means. to show that there were community-based systems of justice prior to european colonial or neo-colonial powers destroying the americas, africa, asia, australia. okonkwo going to his mother’s village was not just about punishment. it was about him going to a place where he would be nurtured and have time to reflect about what he did. but the european system of punishment by imprisonment, which they exported along with colonialism around the planet has destroyed so much of more traditional ways of dealing with justice.

the other issue with the case of sudan, which one gets a sense of if you read snow’s writing and listen to the flashpoints episode i linked to above, is that the problem of sudanese people being murdered and massacred is an american one. it is a neocolonial problem to begin with. the international criminal court claims that bashir is responsible for various war crimes, but it does not get at the root of the problem:

Laurence Blairon, a spokeswoman for the ICC, said al-Bashir was accused of “intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Sudan; murdering, raping, torturing, forcibly transferring large numbers of the population and pillaging their property”.

“Omar al-Bashir’s official capacity as a sitting head of state does not exclude his criminal responsibility, nor does it grant him immunity from prosecution,” she said.

He is the first sitting head of state to be ordered to face the tribunal since it began work in 2002.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor who called for an arrest warrant to be issued in July last year, said that al-Bashir must be arrested “to stop him from destroying evidence and committing new crimes”.

“It is time to protect the victims, to stop bombing civilians, to stop rapes, to stop the crimes,” he said after the judges’ decision was announced.

to get at the root of the problem one needs to look to journalists like snow. and the root of the problem is not limited to the borders of sudan nor is it limited to the u.s. as the only culprit in maintaining neocolonial rule in africa as snow explains in “darfurism, uganda, and the u.s. role in africa”:

The role of Yoweri Museveni and his “government” in service to the Western economic neoliberalism and the shock doctrine of deconstruction and chaos is greatly misunderstood and deeply camouflaged by simplified establishment narratives like those above. Bush and Museveni discussed the U.S.-Uganda military relations and bilateral involvement in the ongoing wars in Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo). The “partnership to combat malaria and HIV/AIDS” is camouflage language for military vaccination and bio-warfare programs involving pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, USAID, and “humanitarian” philanthropies. A vaccine for malaria was developed for the U.S. military some time ago and this is shared only with certain U.S. client state partners, though “clinical trials” have been undertaken in public using African “volunteers.”

Museveni and Bush certainly discussed America’s escalating war in the Sahara desert, expanding petroleum operations across the region, U.S. Special Forces deployments and newly identified uranium resources in Uganda. Maybe they discussed the March 1, 1999 killing of eight foreign tourists at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a story that has not yet been critically unpacked. The “development plan for northern Uganda” is euphemistic language for the ongoing depopulation and massive natural resource extraction that today proceeds in northern Uganda in parallel with the genocide of the Acholi people and Uganda’s militarization in support of covert programs in Sudan and Congo.

The Darfur conflict rides along the fault line of continental warfare spread from Niger to Djibouti and Somalia, and from eastern Congo and Rwanda, through Uganda and Sudan, to Eritrea and the Red Sea. Congo is at war with Uganda and Rwanda. Ethiopia is at war with Somalia, and poised to reinvade Eritrea: there are massive troop build-ups on both sides of the Eritrean-Ethiopia border. Ethiopia, Uganda and Chad are the three “frontline” states militarily destabilizing Sudan. Uganda is internally and externally at war, has intervened secretly in Burundi, and the Ugandan military recently re-occupied towns in eastern Congo over petroleum. Rwanda is fighting in Eastern Congo, meddling in Burundi, and has some 2000 troops in Darfur. Burundi is militarily involved in Congo and soon to be in Somalia. Khartoum backs guerrilla armies in Uganda, Chad and Congo.

The U.S. is all over the place, with both covert and overt military programs. France, England, Canada, Belgium, Libya, Israel and China are all involved. All these conflicts are intertwined, and the targeted populations have allegiances and alliances that are dictated by the pre-colonial boundaries and trade that existed prior to the demarcation of colonial interests that occurred at the Berlin Conference of 1885 under the imperial doctrine of divide and conquer. In 1885 “Soudan” was synonymous with “Sahara” and “Darfur” was the center of power. Conflict involving U.S. covert forces and nomads in Niger and Nigeria, for example, impacts Sudan: the history of the Sahara revolves around the trans-Saharan influence of the Mahdi. In 1875 the Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad, led the indigenous resistance against Britain. ‘Abdallah at-Ta‘ishi, the Mahdi’s “Khalifah” or successor, who took over as leader of the independent Sudan when the Mahdi died in June 1885, was a native of Darfur. People from Nigeria to Somalia today remember the Mahdi.

snow goes on to connect the corporations and ngos profiting from the ongoing war and “peace” operations in the region, including profiting off of refugees:

On October 24, 2007, the United Nations awarded Lockheed-Martin subsidiary Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE) a $250 million no-bid contract to provide “infrastructure” for the United Nations “peacekeeping” missions now unfolding in Sudan (Darfur), Somalia, and Chad/Central Africa Republic. The newly announced contract is to build five new camps in Sudan’s Darfur and Kordofan regions for 4,100 U.N. and African Union (A.U.) personnel. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest and most secretive aerospace and defense corporation.

This is not Pacific Architects and Engineers’ first contract in Darfur, or in Africa’s “peacekeeping” missions, and PAE is not the only private military company involved. PAE won the contract for staffing the deeply compromised “Civilian Protection Monitoring Team” (CPMT) in Sudan under a U.S. State Department contract. In 2004 the CPMT office was being run by Brigadier General Frank Toney (retired), who was previously the commander of Special Forces for the United States Army; General Toney organized covert operations into Iraq and Kuwait in the first Gulf War.

Pratap Chaterjee reported in 2004 how “Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Bittrick, the deputy director of regional and security affairs for Africa at the State Department, flew to Ethiopia to hammer out an agreement to support African Union troops by committing to provide housing, office equipment, transport, and communications gear. This will be provided via an ‘indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity’ joint contract awarded to Dyncorp Corporation, and Pacific Architects & Engineers (PAE) worth $20.6 million.” PAE also set up MONUC operations in Congo, and continues to operate there; the total PAE involvement includes numerous intermediary contracts. In 2002 PAE/Daher won a $34 million air-services follow-on contract amidst complaints of a “lack of transparency and irregularities in the procurement system…confirmed by the bidding of the air-service contract with PAE/Daher.” Daher International is a French aerospace and defense corporation.

Meanwhile, the “Save Darfur” advocates pressing military intervention in Darfur as a “humanitarian” gesture have escalated pressure in the face of mounting failures, including allegations that millions of “Save Darfur” dollars fundraised on a sympathy for victims platform have been misappropriated.

But the players, the private military companies, the arms dealers—and a handful of missing SRAM missiles armed with nuclear warheads dumped by an American B-52 before it crashed—are mostly unknown to the general public. These covert wars all involve different propaganda strategies to provide cover and deflect attention through “perception management”—managing the perceptions, stereotyping and creating false belief systems—of the North American and European public.

The numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons across the region are staggering and they are indicative of a cataclysmic regional crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. This is not because refugees, insurgency and guerrilla warfare are inherent to Africa: refugees and IDPs are big business for white systems of power that maintain structural violence based on profits and the globalization of poverty, terror and war. The numbers are staggering, and these are not merely statistics, they are about suffering human beings.

United Nations agencies report some 4,700,163 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan—2,152,163 in Darfur and 2,276,000 in Northern Sudan—with some 686,311 refugees out of Sudan.

in addition to multi-national, u.s.-based corporations and military involvement in sudan, what i think is really important about snow’s writing is his unpacking of the so-called “save darfur” movement, a movement that in the u.s. is largely controlled by zionists who enjoy altering the reality into a fabricated narrative of arabs/muslims attacking black africans as if sudan can be untied in such a tidy package. of course they always fail to report the fact that many refugees from darfur seeking refuge in the zionist entity are immediately imprisoned (search my blog you will find numerous such reports here). here is what snow says on the “save darfur” organization and related constructed narratives about mass murder and genocide in africa:

“Save Darfur” is the predominant propaganda front running on Africa and it has overwhelmed the public consciousness with deceptions. In this establishment narrative Arabs on horseback, the Janjaweed, backed by the Sudan government seated in Khartoum, are the purveyors of genocide. This mirrors the establishment narrative of Rwanda, 1994, which said that the Hutus and the nasty Interahamwe militias committed genocide against the Tutsis in 100 days of killing with machetes. The Rwanda genocide narrative—combined with the narrative about “humanitarian” intervention in Yugoslavia, where the final blow to dismember the country came with the NATO bombing campaign—set the stage for the Darfur genocide narrative.

All over the United States, Britain and Canada advocates and activists who claim to be concerned about human rights, and even those who otherwise would not get involved, have supported the “Save Darfur” movement, a political movement similar to the anti-Apartheid movement mobilized against South Africa in the 1980’s. The “Save Darfur” movement has resulted in a huge outpouring of funds, and it has mobilized support from people in all walks of life, and across the political spectrum, on the “never again” platform of “stopping genocide.”

Hollywood personalities dubbed “actorvists,” including Mia Farrow, Don Cheadle and George Clooney, have helped to whip up the “Save Darfur” hysteria. From Elie Wiesel to Barak Obama, people are “outraged” by genocide that the Bush Administration, we are told, is reluctant to stop. And it is hysteria, in the true definition of the word, but it did not simply rise out of a sudden concern for a bunch of Africans in some far-off God-forsaken place (as it is portrayed).

At a “Voices for Darfur” fundraiser held on October 21, 2007 at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, for example, the local chapter of the Congregation B’Nai Israel Darfur Action coalition, raised over $14,000 for “humanitarian” aid to Darfur. The B’Nai Israel Save Darfur Coalition had a broad array of public and organizational support, including other Jewish organizations, Smith College, Northampton Mayor Claire Higgins, Massachusetts’ Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representative Peter Kocot. The campaign organizers claim that “more than 90% goes to direct-on-the-ground AID.” Working with big humanitarian groups like Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children, it is impossible that 90% of funds will hit the ground in Darfur.

Behind the “Save Darfur” movement are fundamentalist organizations and think tanks with a deeply nationalistic, militaristic, religious fundamentalist agenda. The Center for Security Policy, for example, supports the “star wars” Strategic Defense Initiative, Homeland Security—which is nothing more than expanding militarism and emasculated public rights—and the Biometric Security Project. The BSP centers around emerging biological technologies that will be used to register, identify, monitor, track and control each and every U.S. citizen. They call it “identity assurance,” it involves state-of-the-art recognition equipment, sensors and security technologies, and it is a central component of the evolving national security and “counter-terrorism” apparatus.

The Center for Security Policy is the nerve center of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus, a deeply nationalist, neoliberal think-tank and flak organization promoting the all-out attack against non-cooperative governments—dubbed “rogue states”—peripheral to Western economic control. These, of course, are primarily Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. Zimbabwe is a special case that has joined the list to some degree. What these states have in common is that they are all targeted for divestment by the Center for Security Policy brainchild, www.divestterror.org. Sudan is another of the “rogue states” targeted.

The establishment narrative on Darfur motivates U.S. citizens to take action to “Save Darfur,” thus facilitating popular support for heightened U.S. military involvement. The truth is that the United States military is already there, in its various incarnations, and the United States is involved in atrocities.

the u.s. is already there in various ways, both in sudan, and in the region as snow delves into the related issue, the congo, which of course american zionists don’t want to touch because they can’t create some sort of arab/muslim versus black african narrative, which they love doing because it makes them look like they care about human rights and which they always use to deflect attention from the war crimes they support against palestinians. i’m not quoting all of snow’s article here so i hope people will click on the initial link at the top of the story to read it in full, but here is some of what he says on the u.s. in uganda and the congo (zaire):

The forced displacements of Acholi people began with Museveni’s ascension to power in 1986, but major forced displacements occurred throughout the 1990’s and again in 2002-2003. However, there was a massive displacement operation in 1996 that appears to have been coordinated in part with the planned U.S. invasion of Zaire from Northern Uganda and Rwanda.

The UPDF Army barracks at Masindi and airstrip at Gulu, both in Northern Uganda, served as the staging grounds for the U.S. invasion of Zaire. The Museveni government organized the closure of northern Uganda in October 1996 ostensibly because of heightened LRA attacks. The UPDF, in chronological coincidence with the U.S. invasion, forced hundreds of thousands of Acholis into concentration camps in the fall of 1996, often by bombing and burning villages and murdering, beating, raping and threatening those who would not comply.

According to testimony from eyewitnesses, on Oct 26, 1996 the top Ugandan brass behind the invasion of Zaire met at the village of Paraa, in the Murchison Falls National Park, near Lake Albert, in the Gulu District. At the meeting were: [1] UPDF Brigadier General Moses Ali—Idi Amin’s right hand man who later became Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Disaster Preparedness, and Deputy Prime Minister in the Museveni administration; [2] Museveni’s half-brother Salim Saleh; [3] then Colonel James Kazini; and [4] Dr. Eric Adroma—head of Uganda National Parks. Salim Saleh is perhaps the leading agent of terror in the UPDF Zaire/Congo wars, but both Saleh and commander James Kazini led UPDF troops involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide involving millions of people in Eastern Congo (1996-2007).

The meeting was ostensibly about security and it was announced that due to a recent LRA rebel attack at Paraa, the UPDF would be placing parts of Northern Uganda off limits to all non-military personnel. (LRA rebels committed the Paraa attack; UPDF troops arrived on the scene quickly and looted bodies but did not pursue the LRA.) The main road from Karuma to the border town of Pakwach was thereafter closed. This road apparently served as a primary transport route for Ugandan and non-Ugandan military—including black U.S. Special Forces—who invaded Zaire.

On November 6, 1996, Bill Clinton was re-elected. Around 10 November 1996 an armored 4×4 Humvee (HUMMWV)—heavily rigged with sophisticated communications equipment inside and out—was encountered carrying two black U.S. special forces in the Murchison Falls region: the soldiers were wearing UPDF uniforms. Two busloads of black U.S. Special Forces were encountered at a UPDF checkpoint on the Karuma-Pakwach road; wearing civilian clothes, with duffel bags, the muscled and crew cut “civilians” showed U.S. passports and claimed they were “doctors” heading to the tiny Gulu hospital. From November 21-23 Boeing C-130 military aircraft passed over the region every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, heading both north and south. The C-130’s apparently landed at Gulu airstrip—closed by the Museveni government for a two-week period—and offloaded military equipment then moved by roads—closed by the UPDF—to the border. Some C-130’s were charted on a course believed to take them to Goma, Zaire. From mid-November to February 1997 access to northwestern Uganda regions was highly restricted. On 1 March 1997 another wave of C-130’s passed over the region. The UPDF used the LRA threat as cover for massive military operations involving the invasion of Zaire for the United States of America.

The in-country U.S. Ambassador to Uganda at the time was E. Michael Southwick (October 1994-August 1997). Oil surveys began in 1998 and the entire Northwestern Uganda region is now designated as oil concessions controlled by Heritage Oil and Gas, Hardman Oil and Tullow Oil, three Anglo-American companies connected to British mercenary Tony Buckingham (founder of he mercenary firms Sandline International and Executive Outcomes) and his partners. Nexant, a Bechtel subsidiary, is involved with the trans-Uganda-Kenya pipeline. South African firm Energem—tied to Tony Buckingham through Anthony Texeira, the brother-in-law of Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba—is also involved. Another Energem and Buckingham affiliated company tight with the Museveni regime is Branch Energy, involved with the oil pipeline and mining in Uganda.

On September 5, 2007, UPDF troops—and rebels reportedly aligned with Jean-Pierre Bemba—had occupied the Congo’s oil- and gold-rich Semliki Basin on the western shores of Lake Albert. Heavily armed foreign forces occupied the villages of Aru, Mahagi, Fataki, Irengeti and the Ruwenzori mountains. The international press and the United Nations Observers Mission in Congo (MONUC) remained completely silent about the Ugandan incursions. By September 8, 2007, Ugandan troops were heavily massed on the Congo border while Kabila and Museveni were signing oil and gold sharing agreements in Tanzania. UPDF forces and “rebel” troops alleged to be Bemba’s remained in Congo as of October 25. The MONUC information offices were claiming by mid-October that UPDF had pulled out, but Congolese citizens in eastern Congo continued to report a significant UPDF military occupation.

The China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company is also involved in the Uganda-Kenya pipeline, offering an interesting comparison for people concerned about China’s involvement in atrocities in the Darfur region. And, after much scrambling, Libya was cut out of the Kenya-Uganda pipeline deals. The petroleum sector in Libya involves U.S., Canadian and European companies.

Uganda’s representation at the International Criminal Court exploring war crimes in Congo has included at least two very high-profile lawyers from Foley Hoag LLP, an influential Washington law firm deeply entrenched in the proliferation of the mainstream narratives and the victor’s justice doled out—through the ICTY and ICTR tribunals—on Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Pentagon seconded its lawyers from the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corp to the ICTR to “try” those unfortunate “enemies” both arbitrarily and selectively accused of genocide.

The people most responsible for atrocities in the region—unprecedented human bloodletting, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide—are protected. These include Yoweri Museveni, Salim Saleh, Paul Kagame, James Kazini, Moses Ali, James Kabarebe, Taban Amin, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Laurent Nkunda, Meles Zenawi…a long list of people whose culpability is without question, many of whom have been named for atrocities again and again. U.S. Special Operations forces know what happened and should be deposed under oath in a legitimate International Criminal Court, which at present does not exist, and is not in the making. Ditto for Madeleine Albright, Anthony Lake, Thomas Pickering, Susan Rice, John Prendergast, General William Wald, General Frank Toney, Walter Kansteiner, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Holbroke, Roger Winter, Frank G. Wisner, Andrew Young…another short list.

Foley Hoag LLP is also tied to the U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council. On May 6, 2002 in Washington D.C. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and wife Janet were special guests at U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council event sponsored by members Coke, Pfizer and Chevron-Texaco. Museveni also met with President Bush at the White House. Coke director Kathleen Black is a principle in the Hearst media empire, while Coke directors Warren Buffet and Barry Diller are directors of the Washington Post Company, and these are the media institutions that whitewash client regimes, corporate plunder and Pentagon actions. Of course, Coca Cola covets the gum Arabic potential of Darfur, and Coke is a client of Andrew Young’s PR firm Goodworks International. Uganda’s image is sanitized by one of the world’s largest PR firms, London’s Hill & Knowlton. In 2005 Uganda spent some $700,000 on a Hill & Knowlton contract to facilitate and “encourage dialogue between the Ugandan government and people like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, Oxfam.”

susan rice, of course, is barack obama’s representative to the united nations. so you can imagine how more cover ups and covert–perhaps overt–killing will continue with the help of the u.s. in africa. snow has much more to say about american complicity in rwanda and fabricating that narrative, too, as well as covert operations continuing in somalia and in ethiopia where the u.s. is also complicit in genocide that no one talks about in the u.s., though snow does:

The Ogaden, Oromo and Anuak regions of Ethiopia have seen massive military occupation and state repression. The Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi has perpetrated mass starvation and scorched earth policy in the region. There has been very little international media coverage and most is favorable the Zenawi regime or pressing the upside-down stories about “relief” and “starvation” that serve the Western “humanitarian” business sector. The Ogaden basin is a bloodbath today. Applying the same legal standards as in Darfur, all three Ethiopian regions qualify as ongoing genocides against indigenous people. Failure to apply the genocide standards constitutes genocide denial.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1778 (2007) on 25 September 2007 established the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). According to the U.N.’s October 2007 Expression Of Interest, “[i]n it’s Presidential Statement of 30 April 2007, the Security Council requested the Secretary General to ‘immediately begin appropriate contingency planning for a United Nations mission to Somalia’. At this early stage it is planned to have a U.N. logistics base at Mombassa, Kenya to support the main supply line from Mombassa to Kismayo, Mogadishu and Hobyo, which will serve as secondary logistics bases in Somalia. At this early stage the number and location of these sites is unknown, but it is envisaged that approximately 24,000 personnel may be required.”

Ethiopia’s war in Somalia has taxed the government drawing widespread criticism. The U.S. is pressing for an African Union mission as a proxy force to replace the Ethiopian troops and further U.S. interests. Mombasa, Kenya is a U.S. military port. The U.S. war in Somalia is ongoing. More than 100 U.S. military “trainers” supervised “combat training” of two Burundian “African Union” battalions (1700 troops) in Bujumbura, Burundi, in advance of their deployment in Somalia expected in November 2007. French military also provided training, while the U.S. and France both are providing logistical and telecommunications support. Burundian troops are also in Darfur. On November 28, 2004, the Bush White House issued a document announcing a cooperative agreement with Burundi, Guyana and Liberia preventing the International Criminal Court from proceeding against U.S. personnel operating in these countries.

In March 2007 the Pentagon deployed an additional 150 SOCOM Forces in Uganda. The troops were part of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn-of-Africa, an “anti-terrorist naval force” deployed around the Horn of Africa with support points in Bahrain and Djibouti. Ugandan sources divulged that the SOCOM troops would be dispersed “around the country” to “support UPDF troops” and “provide support to distribute humanitarian aid.” It was openly reported that the SOCOM are “possibly training the South Sudanese army, which has just signed an agreement for this with its Ugandan counterpart, strengthening Ugandan capacity to fight terrorism.” The U.S. military has also modernized the old Entebbe airport for UPDF operations, and the Entebbe airport supports a small but permanent U.S. military contingent.

It is believed that U.S. SOCOM troops are operating in blood-drenched Eastern Congo. Ugandan opposition sources have reported that SOCOM forces in UPDF uniforms have joined the more than 2000 Pentagon-trained UPDF forces sent by Museveni to Somalia. The UPDF troops operating in Somalia behind a “peacekeeping” propaganda front have been accused of widespread atrocities. More than 1000 people die daily in Eastern Congo where fighting since 1996 has claimed at least 7 million lives. The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen multiple genocide campaigns, and multiple genocide denials are ongoing.

SOCOM forces have been openly reported in Niger, where operations are billed as “humanitarian” and “human rights” training of Nigerien troops. But the insurgency and “rebellion” by the Tuareg and Toubou nomads has always been about uranium and depopulation: Canadian and Chinese companies have recently gotten involved but Esso (Exxon), Japan and French corporations were exploiting the Agadez and Air regions in the 1970’s and 1980’s (at least), dumping radioactive sickness and social devastation on another indigenous population. Niger is the poorest country in the world. Yet another genocide?

Exxon, Elf and Hunt Oil are in Niger for oil. Barrick Gold is also in Niger, and in Guniea, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mali; through their partnership with Anglo-Ashanti, Barrick is responsible for atrocities and plunder in eastern Congo. Directors of the G.H.W. Bush-connected Barrick Gold include former U.S. Senator Howard Baker (R-TN), whose wife, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, has been an outspoken advocate for immediate action on Darfur.

“I was in the Senate at the time of Rwanda,” said Kassebaum Baker at a speech in 2006 where discussed Darfur. Kassebaum Baker served as chairwoman of the Foreign Relation Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs. “We were all aghast at what was taking place there [Rwanda], but I must say no one really knew what to do about it,” Kassebaum Baker said.

The Bakers are on the advisory board for the nationalist think-tank Partnership for a Secure America—another policy-formulating-perception-management-force behind the “Save Darfur” movement—along with a stellar cast of corporate executives involved in war and plunder in Africa. Most notable of these are Frank G. Wisner, Richard Holbroke, Anthony Lake, Thomas Pickering, Carla Hills and Sam Nunn. Wisner was also on the National Security Council under Clinton, along with the International Crisis Group (ICG) Special Advisor and ENOUGH co-chair John Prendergast. Wisner’s co-directors of the American International Group include: Marshall Cohen, a director of the Bush-connected Barrick Gold Corporation; Clinton Cabinet members William Cohen and Richard Holbrooke; and Carla Hills, NAFTA negotiator and director of Chevron-Texaco and the ICG. Partnership for a Secure America advisory board members Zbigniew Brzezinski, Pickering, Hills, and Kassebaum Baker are all on the Board of Trustees for the ICG—International Crisis Group—the leading flak organization pressing the “Save Darfur” and Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda) narratives.

George Soros founded the International Crisis Group in 1995 and serves on the ICG executive committee, another who’s who of establishment people entrenched in the production of militant establishment narratives and structural violence. The Crisis Group think-tank is funded by Soros’ philanthropy think-tank the Open Society Institute, and it pushes the rhetoric of “peace” and “democracy” through hegemonic policy instruments advocating direct “humanitarian” [read: military] intervention. The Crisis Group executives have numerous interlocking ties with the International Rescue Committee, a Kissinger-connected flak organization. Other Crisis Group executives include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Wesley K. Clark, who led the NATO deconstructive bombing of Yugoslavia, and Joanne Leedom-Ackerman—a director of Human Rights Watch.

George Soros is also an emeritus director of Refugees International, another “humanitarian” NGO behind the massive suffering in Africa. Other Refugees International directors emeritus include Judy Mayotte, an executive boardmember of the International Rescue Committee, Frank G. Wisner, and Richard Holbrooke. The current president of Refugees International is Kenneth H. Bacon, who, prior to his appointment in 2001, had worked for seven years as assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S Department of Defense. Beyond the global presence of RI in hot spots like Afghanistan and Iraq are their permanent missions in Somalia, Central Africa Republic, Rwanda, Uganda, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad, South Sudan and Darfur. Refugees International profited from the RPF/A forced exodus of refugees from Rwanda in 1994, and their involvement in the international war crimes behind the destruction of the Hutu refugee camps in Eastern Zaire, shelled by the RPF/A in 1996 as the U.S. opened its war there, or the subsequent genocidal massacres of Hutus, have never been investigated.

Refugees International joined the Save Darfur Coalition in April to rally against the genocide in Darfur. According to the RI Annual report for 2006, “[o]ur supporters joined the tens of thousands of human rights activists, movie stars, athletes and politicians who converged on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, to show the world that we will not stand idly by while genocide unfolds.”

and, yet, of course not only do americans stand by while massacres and genocide happens, they help to make it happen. again and again and again. oftentimes this is the work of usaid (why, despite offers i sometimes receive, i have always refused to work with any project or to profit in any way from groups or organizations receiving usaid funds). this is also part of the un-reported context of bashir throwing out international ngos for their collaboration with the icc. of course wherever u.s. supports genocide and massacres it’s “old friend” the terrorist state of israel cannot be far behind as snow explains:

Darfur is another epicenter of the modern-day international geopolitical scramble for Africa’s resources. Conflict in Darfur escalated in 2003 in parallel with negotiations “ending” the south Sudan war. The U.S.-backed insurgency by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the guerilla force that fought the northern Khartoum government for 20 years, shifted to Darfur, even as the G.W. Bush government allied with Khartoum in the U.S. led “War on Terrorism.” The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)—one of some twenty-seven rebel factions mushrooming in Darfur—is allied with the SPLA and supported from Uganda. Andrew Natsios, former USAID chief and now U.S. envoy to Sudan, said on October 6, 2007 that the atmosphere between the governments of north and south Sudan “had become poisonous.” This is no surprise given the magnitude of the resource war in Sudan and the involvement of international interests, but the investigation should center on the involvement and activities of USAID officials Andrew Natsios, Roger Winter and Jendayi Frazer.

Roger Winter, USAID chief in Khartoum today, is directly linked to the Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army and U.S. military campaign that destabilized Rwanda and decapitated the leadership of Rwanda and Burundi. USAID’s affiliations with the Department of Defense are now openly advertised with the propaganda peddling AFRICOM—the Pentagon’s new Africa Command. AFRICOM combines U.S. CENTCOM, PACIFICOM and EUCOM operations in Africa; it is nothing new, merely the consolidation and expansion of widespread and ongoing involvement.

Darfur is reported to have the fourth largest copper and third largest uranium deposits in the world. Darfur produces two-thirds of the world’s best quality gum Arabic—a major ingredient in Coke and Pepsi. Contiguous petroleum reserves are driving warfare from the Red Sea, through Darfur, to the Great Lakes of Central Africa. Private military companies operate alongside petroleum contractors and “humanitarian” agencies. Sudan is China’s fourth biggest supplier of imported oil, and U.S. companies controlling the pipelines in Chad and Uganda seek to displace China through the U.S. military alliance with “frontline” states hostile to Sudan: Uganda, Chad and Ethiopia.

There are claims in the Arab community that Israel provides military training to Darfur rebels from bases in Eritrea, but insiders in Eritrea dispute this. However, Israel has a deep history of intelligence and military relations with both Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Israel reportedly has a naval and air base on Eritrea’s Dahlak and Fatma islands, from which German-made Dolphin-class submarines patrol the Red Sea with long-range nuclear cruise missiles. Eritrea reportedly serves as Israel’s outpost for spying on enemies Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan.

Africa Research Bulletin in 1998 reported that Israel had military bases in Eritrea on the Dahlak islands and in the Mahal Agar Mountains near Sudan. They also reported a communications listening station and that Mossad, the Israeli secret service, “is operating a string of previously top secret outposts in the Horn of Africa” used to monitor hostile states and service Israeli submarines operating in the area.

One source in Eritrea claims that reports about Dahlak Island and Israeli training bases are “old, dried-up bulls*&^. No foreign bases in Eritrea, not now, not ever, especially Israel. We have normal relations with Israel, but even trade matters have decreased dramatically. The charges of a base in Dahlak are old, going back over ten years. There are remnants of an old U.S., then Soviet base in Dahlak, but Dahlak these days is a marine preserve.

An intelligence insider in Washington D.C. reports that a journalist who wrote an article for Vanity Fair on the Israeli subs with nuclear cruise missiles had confirmed the base in Dahlak; the journalist wrote Jane’s Intelligence Weekly, “so he had good sources.” The source reports that Vanity Fair killed the story so as to not upset its Jewish advertisers, Bergdorf, Goodman and Saks.

In May 2003, the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) hosted an Eritrean delegation aboard the CJTF-HOA amphibious Joint Command ship the U.S.S. Mount Whitney. The Eritrean delegation included President Asaias Afwerki, Minister of Defense, Gen. Sebhat Ephraim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ali Said Abdell, top commanders of Eritrean ground, naval and air forces and commanders of operational zones from across the country. The CJTF-HOA’s Major General John F. Sattler and Isaias Afwerki initially met in Asmara in early January of this year, following previous visits to Eritrea by the commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks in March 2002 and U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2002. The following day, Maj. Gen. Sattler and members of the CJTF-HOA staff were hosted ashore by General Sebhat Ephraim for visits to Massawa Naval Base and Dahlak Island, as well tours of Beka and Hawakil islands.

Israel has strengthened ties with the regime in Chad, from which more weapons and troops penetrate Darfur. The refugee camps have become increasingly militarized. There are reports that Israeli and U.S. military and intelligence operate from within refugee camps in Darfur. Israel is all over the Sahara, from Burkina Faso to Ethiopia and Uganda. Israel’s clandestine actions are partly funded by Israeli-American diamond magnates involved in Angola, Sierra Leone, C.A.R. and Congo, especially Dan Gertler (G.W. Bush’s unofficial Ambassador to Congo), Beny Steinmetz, Nir Livnat, Lev Leviev and Maurice Tempelsman.

African Union (A.U.) forces in Darfur include Nigerian and Rwandan troops responsible for atrocities in their own countries. Ethiopia has committed 5000 troops for a U.N. force in Darfur. A.U. troops receive military-logistic support from NATO, and are widely hated. Early in October 2007, SLA rebels attacked an A.U. base killing ten troops. In a subsequent editorial sympathetic to rebel factions Smith College English professor Eric Reeves espoused the tired rhetoric of “Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency war in Darfur,” a position counterproductive to any peaceful settlement. To minimize the damage this rebel attack has done to their credibility Reeves and other “Save Darfur” advocates cast doubt about the rebels’ identities and mischaracterized the SLA attackers as “rogue commanders.” However, there is near unanimous agreement, internationally, that rebels are “out of control,” committing widespread rape and plundering with impunity, just as the SPLA did in South Sudan for over a decade.

Debunking the claims of a “genocide against blacks” or an “Islamic holy-war” against Christians, Darfur’s Arab and black African tribes have intermarried for centuries, and nearly everyone is Muslim. The “Save Darfur” campaign is deeply aligned with Jewish and Christian faith-based organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. These groups have relentlessly campaigned for Western military action, demonizing both Sudan and China, but they have never addressed Western military involvement—backing factions on all sides.

Christian and Jewish involvement in the “Save Darfur” campaign centers on a long-running but deeply manipulative narrative about slavery and genocide in South Sudan. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum furthered the establishment narrative about Darfur in keeping with the genocide theme; no one ever examines the interests behind the Holocaust Memorial Museum (e.g. Bob Dole), it is merely some apolitical institution with the championing of supposed “universal” human rights of all people everywhere as its raison d’etre. The new political and propaganda doctrine that uses “genocide” as a political tool is morally ambiguous, it attacks the crimes of some and passes over the crimes of others. It uses as its universal principle the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its complementary covenants and proclamations. On the one hand, however, this involves genocide inflation, and on the other hand genocide denial. But the USA—with good Christian and Jewish foot soldiers—is always the final arbitrator: global cop, judge, jury, executioner, surgeon and savior all in one.

Christian organizations involved in Sudan for years include Servant’s Heart and Christian Solidarity International. On Servant’s Heart’s “Board of Reference” is British Baroness Caroline Cox, who is also closely affiliated with Christian Solidarity International (CSI)—one of the main Christian allies of the SPLM/A war in southern Sudan. The propaganda system advocates in favor of the “rebels” in Darfur using a handful of techniques developed in their propaganda campaign behind the “rebels” in South Sudan. Rebels are supported partly by never mentioning them, partly by decrying abuses against them, partly by providing sympathetic one-sided accounts of Khartoum government attacks, and partly by defending their excesses if and when—infrequently—the rebel abuses come to light.

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) in 2006 issued press releases claiming that the Lebanese organization Hezbollah “is using Christian villages to shield its military operations in violation of international law.” These reports appear to be fabrications to begin with and the CSI accusation a projection of their own involvement with the SPLA in South Sudan, where the SPLA for over a decade used the civilian population as human shields, used the Western AID apparatus (Operation Lifeline Sudan) as cover for military support, and used food as a weapon. If Hezbollah did this during the recent U.S.-Israeli invasion they [Hezbollah] certainly learned it by studying SPLA (CSI) tactics in Sudan. Thus we have twisted triple-standards where the establishment propaganda accuses Hezbollah of violating international law, but the SPLM/A—and the “rebel” groups in Darfur—while doing exactly the same thing, are never anything but poor, defenseless Christians under attack in a “genocidal counter-insurgency” run out of Khartoum government.

Who are the rebels in Darfur? Where do they get new uniforms and modern weapons? With the establishment propaganda on Rwanda and the invading Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army from 1990-1994, all abuses were covered up, the government of Juvenal Habyarimana was blamed for everything, and the “rebels”—backed by Washington, partnered with the Pentagon—were never exposed for atrocities and scorched earth attacks. It was the same with the establishment propaganda that covered for the SPLA: their role in committing and provoking atrocities in South Sudan from 1983 to 2003 has been greatly misrepresented and mischaracterized by virtually every popular source cited in the western press. No one has pressed this line more than Dr. Eric Reeves, the Smith College English professor and most widely cited “expert” behind the establishment narrative to “Save Darfur.”

There is growing dissent within the “Save Darfur” movement as more supporters question its motivations and the Jewish/Israeli link. “Save Darfur” leaders have been replaced after complaints surfaced about expenditures of funds. Many rebel leaders reportedly receive tens of thousands of dollars monthly, and rebels emboldened by the “Save Darfur” movement commit crimes with impunity. There is a growing demand to probe the accounts of “Save Darfur” to find out how the tens of millions collected are being spent due to allegations of arms-deals and bribery—rebel leaders provided with five-star hotel accommodations, prostitutes and sex parties.

all of the above, and what snow sums up below, is what he calls “darfurism”:

It is clear that the violence is Africa’s hotspots has “spiraled out of control” by design: chaos and destabilization are provoked by international actors, intelligence operatives, SOCOM forces and PMCs, who then leverage the “need” for further Private Military Corporate involvement. These agents operate with zero accountability and zero transparency. Diplomats, state department officials, United Nations functionaries and their highly paid lackeys stand around wringing their hands declaring: “What is to be done?” With PMCs pressing to secure $100-200 million contracts to “support” MONUC, it is no wonder that Africa is engulfed massive white-on-black terrorism, the spectre of continental genocide.

“Save Darfur” is today the rallying cry for a broad coalition of special interests. Advocacy groups—from the local Massachusetts Congregation B’Nai Israel chapter to the International Crises Group and USAID—have fueled the conflict through a relentless, but selective, public relations campaign that disingenuously serves a narrow policy agenda. These interests offer no opportunity for corrective analyses, but stubbornly press their agenda, and they are widely criticized for inflaming tensions in Darfur. This is what we might call Darfurism.

The latest Lockheed Martin contract with the United Nations illustrates the latest stage in the transformation of international conflict whereby military-industrial giants are openly engaged, rather than clandestinely, as has been previously the case. This development parallels the rise of Darfurism— a mass movement in the West designed to channel popular sympathy and agitate people to act on a cause they know nothing about, but think they do. Darfurism is a pathological mix of fear, patriotism, social immaturity, opportunism and unconsciousness akin to fascism. Under the current climate of apathy, fear and public opinion, anything goes, and warfare involves humanitarian agencies as active players in the mix. Like the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum they are seen as neutral, described as apolitical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The United Nations and African Union serve as pseudo-privatized military forces backing a hegemonic, corporate, political and economic agenda. Someone who produces both the danger and, at a price, the shield against it is a racketeer. The future has arrived, and it uses human rights institutions, the label of genocide and accusations of atrocities, and the ever-expanding international AID and charity industry—operating out of pure profit motives—as pivotal elements in the Western portfolio of soft and hard weapons used to further the prerogatives of Empire and clear the land for absolute corporate exploitation.

all of the above is to say that whether we are looking at iraq, afghanistan, palestine, lebanon, the congo, somalia, sudan, ethiopia, rwanda, etc. the common thread that unites them all is the terrorism of the united states and often its partner-in-crime the terrorist state of israel. if we really want to get at the root of any of these problems and really look to an international criminal court to try and prosecute the war criminals we need look no further than these two terrorist regimes (and i would include the obama administration; clearly if you look to the names of americans above, the same people are continuing the same work). you can see the genocidal work of several different american administrations in the quotations from snow above. this is not a democrat or republican crime. it is an american crime.

of course there are many people talking about the hypocrisy of trying bashir and not george bush and dick cheney. of course all americans are complicit in the obvious war crimes in afghanistan and iraq–not to mention the related american infrastructure in its secret cia prisons around the world–its prison on baghram airforce base, guantanamo, abu ghraib, and all of its crimes within its borders. but as snow makes it clear america’s crimes are far more global than that. they have so much blood on their hands i don’t think all the water in the world could wash it away. and yet complicit in these war crimes, including all of congress, senator patrick leahy is supposedly conducting what he calls a “truth” commission, which will be anything but that. because to really get at the truth we would need to arrest and try all of the american officials responsible for these war crimes that they commit around the world. leahy would likely be one of the numerous americans included as all of congress–sans perhaps one or two members–are responsible. thus, it would seem to absolve themselves, and make it appear like they have a democracy that examines their own crimes they are holding a “commission” of some sort that will get the “truth” out (not!) and, of course, regardless of what comes out, no one will be held responsible. here is what leahy said in the huffington post:

But there’s still more we don’t know, and more we must uncover, about the misdeeds of the past eight years.

That is why I proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney administration. These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.

I have set up a petition at BushTruthCommission.com, and I hope you will sign it to urge Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney administration’s abuses. We already have over 7,000 signatures, but we need to hit 10,000 signatures — or more — by next week, to build momentum behind this idea.

to get a sense of these war crimes–and they way they are already being continued by the obama administration–you need look no further than to the always brilliant jeremy scahill who was on democracy now! this week discussing obama’s so-called troop withdrawal from iraq. as with the situation in africa, american military and corporate interests always reign supreme regardless of who is in power:

Well, see, one of the issues I have here is, going back to this issue of what if the wrong people win an election, the Iraqi people have a right to choose leaders that are hostile to the United States, that are hostile to US corporate aims in the Middle East, more broadly, and in Iraq, specifically. And I think that US history has shown that when the wrong people win elections, the US will intervene militarily, overtly, covertly, behind-the-scenes, in front of the world public. And I think that the fact that Thomas Ricks, one of the most well-informed journalists covering this war, has indicated that it’s very likely that a leader will emerge in Iraq that is hostile to US interests, that is close to Tehran and is not going to be someone that’s perceived by the United States to be a friend—so the fact is that the Maliki government could be substantially weakened by indigenous forces within Iraq, and the Obama administration could step in and say, “We’re going to defend this flailing regime.”

What I found very disturbing about Obama’s speech, among other things, was the fact that he officially co-signed Bush’s major lies on Iraq. When he talked about the mission of US troops in Iraq, he said, “I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime, and you got the job done.” I’m sorry, Mr. Obama, the troops were sent to Iraq on the lie of weapons of mass destruction. And he co-signed that Bush administration lie.

He also said, “We will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life. That is your achievement,” he said to the US troops. “That is the prospect that you have made possible.” Again, no, not a better life. We’re talking about upwards of a million Iraqis that have been killed, their lives decimated, 20 percent of the country either in need of desperate medical attention, internally displaced, another 20 percent living outside of the country. And this has been an utter mess. And he talks about a better future. Iraq has never been in more shambles than it has been over the course of the US military occupation.

scahill continues on the theme of the democratic party being just as problematic and criminal as their republican counterparts:

Right. Well, first of all, yeah, you look at Obama’s top allies, it’s people like John McCain, it’s people like Mitch McConnell, who praised Obama for implementing the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy at the end. And, I mean, some of this is partisan politics. And, please, the Republicans have no credibility on this. I mean, if we can be critical of Barack Obama, I mean, the Republicans are just merciless criminals when it comes to, you know, US policy in Iraq and toward the world, more broadly.

But the fact that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer all acted like astonished that there’s going to be 35,000 to 50,000 troops in a residual capacity in Iraq and were criticizing this, I mean, this is a classic example of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party when it comes to foreign policy and what’s been wrong with this party for a long time. And that is that when it actually mattered, when Pelosi or Reid could have said to candidate Obama, “Back off that residual force,” as many activists were calling for, they were deafeningly silent. We were at the Democratic convention, Amy, walking around, trying to find anyone to criticize that aspect of the Obama policy, and not even antiwar Democrats, who were firmly against the war from the beginning, would dissent from the policy positions of the dear leader. This is cult activity, when you refuse to go after someone to try to criticize their policies when it matters and then later act like you’ve been hoodwinked. They knew exactly what was going on.

moreover, scahill shares with us not only the problem of keeping the american embassy in place, as it is every bit as much of the problem as the soldiers who are occupying iraq, but also that it was built with what he identifies as slave labor:

JEREMY SCAHILL: Can I say something about what—about this issue first? I mean, on the issue of the US embassy, I think that the Obama administration should turn it over to the Iraqi people and let them decide what they want to use that massive city within their city for. And the fact is that—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about like a four mile square area in downtown Baghdad.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, you’re talking—yeah, you’re talking about a small city unto itself that’s going to have 1,200 employees and hundreds of CIA operatives, was the initial plan for it. And all these people are going to necessitate deadly and lethal security. So that would be a real message of change to send to the Iraqi people, to say this was an embassy built on slave labor as part of an illegal occupation of your country—

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you say “slave labor”?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Because there were people that were brought in. It was essentially indentured servitude. There were people that were brought in from other countries that worked on the construction of that project, much like Africans abducted from the African continent and brought here as slaves, they and their descendants were building the White House in this country. Here we are, years later, with the US government having the embassy built largely on labor that was forced labor or dramatically underpaid labor by people that were essentially forced by their economic conditions or by being taken into the country under false pretenses to participate in the construction of that embassy. And this is the subject of a major congressional investigation that I don’t know is going to go anywhere now that Obama is in the White House.

But on the issue of the contractors, I mean, what you asked Obama about a year ago is very, very important, because Obama said in his answer to you that he didn’t want to draw down contractors at a faster rate than he drew down US troops. So, even when Obama is talking about 50,000 troops remaining in the country, presumably that would mean 50,000 contractors to support them. So we’re always talking about deflated numbers when we hear them come out of the mouths of administration officials.

perhaps all of this can put the claims made by the terrorist states of the u.s. and israel into context in a way that can show how outrageous claims made against iran are. consider this statement about hillary clinton from the left i on the news blog:

Hillary Clinton, projecting:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.”

Right. The U.S. is trying to get the entire world lined up behind an economic blockade of Iran, repeatedly threatens Iran with “all actions being on the table,” and they’re the ones trying to “intimidate” others? This is beyond parody.

or how about this quip from left i on another recent ironic hillary statement:

In yet another example of the pot calling the Corning Ware black, Hillary Clinton has accused Iran of “interference” in Palestine. Was she claiming that Iran was arming Hamas? No. Was she even talking about the 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid that Iran has attempted to send to Gaza, only to be turned back by Egypt? No again. No, her idea of “clear interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinian people” was a speech by Ayatollah Khamenei in which he warned that compromising with Israel was a mistake. And what radical solution was he advocating? Armed uprising? External invasion by the Arab masses? No, he “called for holding a referendum by Jews, Christian and Muslims in Palestine to determine the future of the country.” Calling for a democratic election! How dare he interfere in that way!

The U.S. which is busy upping the arms it sends to Fatah to help them suppress Hamas, actively participates in and supports the blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, supplies three billion worth of military and other aid to Israel every year to subjugate the Palestinian people, runs diplomatic interference for Israel in the U.N. while it tries to wipe Hamas from the map, and will not even condemn Israel’s ban on the shipment of 90 tons of pasta to Gaza and will not even agree publicly that macaroni is not a “dual-use” item (!), that is not the kind of “interference” in Palestinian affairs Clinton had in mind.

these are some of the many reasons why some palestinians are acting in solidarity with sudan. here the hypocrisy and complicity is so painfully obvious. to the rest of the world it will get termed terrorism because of who controls the narrative and the media. here is what haneyya had to say about it:

The Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya on Wednesday strongly denounced the international criminal court for issuing an arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, saying that this decision is politicized par excellence ignoring the real war criminals in the world.

Spokesman for the government Taher Al-Nunu said in a press statement received by the PIC that the justice of the international community reflects the American will and ignores the real war criminals in Israel who committed atrocities against the Palestinian people.

apparently hamas is now sending a delegation to sudan to support bashir. what is really needed, however, is some serious analysis of these interconnections, of these conflicts, of mass killings, of genocide and massacre to see the corporate and state interests involved–all neocolonial and colonial in their nature. and this is what needs to be prosecute. this is the root of the problem and without that we will only ever have the same scenario again and again by the same european/american/israeli state terrorism and continuing colonialism around the world.

building momentum against israeli apartheid

carlos latuff
carlos latuff
many of you know that it is now israel apartheid week around the world and also here in palestine (i will paste in the information about events in palestine below because the link here to the apartheid website does not seem to be updated yet). there are all kinds of things you can and should do this week–and i would say every single day–to help support this week of educational events (and stuff coming up for yom al ard at the end of the month). the palestinian boycott divestment sanctions (bds) movement created this lovely little pdf for people who want to know what else they can do. click here for the document.

and the boycott of israeli products (though, unfortunately, not american products: please, someone tell me, why/how people can be so willing to give up their lives, to fight and die in order to liberate their land, but they still cannot sacrifice the 2-3 minutes the flavor of coca cola on their tongues. seriously: i want to know the answer to this question because it keeps me up at night. it bothers me that much) is taking off in palestine, it seems. i say “it seems,” because i am very cynical about how this is being framed and who is doing the framing. it is the palestinian authority that seems to be taking the lead here, but i bet that if we went into the offices of these folks we’d find all things israeli. but if they want to coopt this campaign and push their fatah-normalizing followers to boycott too, the more the merrier. here is what was reported late last week:

Buying Palestinian products is a patriotic act of resistance which plays a major role in helping the Palestinian people stay steadfast on their land, said Head of Palestinian Presidential Bureau Rafiq Al-Huseini Saturday.

Al-Huseini spoke at a conference where the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced an initiative to support the production and improvement of Palestinian products as part of a boycott of Israeli goods as well as an effort to strengthen the local economy.

Such an action, he said, “is a peaceful means of countering Israeli settlement plans; it is also something ordinary people can easily participate in.”

The initiative aims at enhancing Palestinian products by improving quality, reducing price and increasing the ability of Palestinian producers to compete against world products both at home and abroad.

“Our vision is to have national products capable of competing in internal and external markets,” Al-Huseini said. “We also aim at strengthening consumer loyalty to Palestinian brands,” he told assembled politicians and businessmen in the Ramallah government compound on Saturday.

Palestinian minister of the Economy Kamal Hassuna said supporting national products was a moral duty, noting that the caretaker government had, from the “beginning, worked to support the private sector through new legislations.”

Head of the Union of Palestinian Industries Basim Khouri, said the union endeavored to increase the portion of national products in the local market by providing high-quality products meeting international standards at competitive prices.

Representative of the Palestinian investment fund Jamal Haddad described supporting national products as a pillar of the Palestinian resistance against occupation because it frees the Palestinian people from dependence on Israeli products and supports local business owners.

and for those of you who think that making responsible choices when you go shopping doesn’t have an effect on the israeli terrorist regime, think again and read what shir hever has to say about it:

Although the Israeli economic media doesn’t concern itself with the moral dimension of the attacks on Gaza, the economic dimension of recent events have created a rising level of concern. In order to demonstrate this trend, here are summaries of four articles that appeared in the Israeli The Marker magazine for economic news:

1. On 2 February, Guy Grimland warned about a growing phenomenon of boycott of Israeli high-tech companies, and several Israeli companies received letters from European and U.S. companies explaining that they cannot invest in Israel for moral reasons.

2. In 3 February, Nehemia Strassler, one of Israel’s most famous economic correspondents, attacked the Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Eli Yishai, for calling on the Israeli military to “destroy one hundred homes in Gaza for every rocket that falls in Israel.” Strassler had nothing to say about the Palestinians living in these homes or about the loss of life, but he warned:

“[the minister] doesn’t even understand how the operation in Gaza hurts the economy. The horror sights on television and the words of politicians in Europe and Turkey change the behavior of consumers, businessmen and potential investors. Many European consumers boycott Israeli products in practice. Intellectuals call for an economic war against us and to enforce an official and full consumer boycott.

Calls are heard in board meetings of economic corporations to boycott trade relations with Israel. So far deals were cancelled with Turkey, the UK, Egypt and the Gulf States, and visits by economic delegations were cancelled. It’s much easier now to switch providers while abandoning Israeli providers. Many company boards are required to take wide considerations into account with regards to the good of society and the environment, and they put political considerations in that slot as well.

Of course there is an economic cost to severing diplomatic ties. Qatar cut its trade relations with Israel, Venezuela and Bolivia cut diplomatic relations. Mauritania recalled its ambassador and the relations with Turkey worsened considerably—and this bad ambiance seeps into the business sector decisions. Here, just yesterday Dudi Ovshitz, who grows peppers for export, said that ‘there is a concealed boycott of Israeli products in Europe.'”

3. On 6 February, Shuki Sadeh wrote about even more companies that have decided to boycott relations with Israel. A Turkish company demanded that Israeli companies sign a document condemning the Israeli massacre in Gaza before they can offer their services for it. Sadeh quoted Naomi Klein’s recent call for boycott, the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott and Israeli organizations that support the boycott and provide information for the global BDS movement. Sadeh’s article also had concerned quotes by Israeli businessmen who demanded government intervention to protect them from the growing boycott.

4. In 11 February, Ora Koren reported that the Israeli business sectors feel the effects of the attack on Gaza. She reported that Israeli businessmen in Turkey are hiding their names so that the local BDS organizations won’t learn about their activities, and that the situation is even worse in the UK.

These four articles are a sign that there is a shift in the effectiveness of the BDS movement against Israel, and that if the momentum is maintained and strengthened, Israeli businessmen may decide to move their headquarters away from Israel, or to begin to put pressure on the Israeli government to begin respecting international law, and ending the occupation.

reporting on israel apartheid week in canada, mel frykberg gives us some context for bds not only because of the israeli terrorist state’s action at “home,” but also for their complicity in apartheid south africa itself:

In the wake of the BDS campaign, critics of Israel have lashed out at what they see as parallels between South Africa’s former apartheid system and Israeli racism.

They point to Israel’s discriminatory treatment of ethnic Palestinians within Israel who hold Israeli passports, and the extensive human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied territories by Israeli security forces.

During the apartheid era, ties between Israel and South Africa were extremely strong, with the Jewish state helping to train South Africa’s security forces as well as supplying the regime in Pretoria with weapons.

Meanwhile, Toronto, where the Israel Apartheid Week movement was born, will hold forums, film shows, cultural events and street protests to mark IAW week. One of the guest speakers is former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils.

Kasrils is no stranger to controversy. His parents fled from Tzarist Russian pogroms carried out against Jews, and immigrated to South Africa at the beginning of the last century.

During white rule, as a member of the African National Congress (ANC), working both in exile and underground in South Africa, he was reviled by many white South Africans as a “terrorist”.

He has also been labelled a self-hating Jew by many Israelis and South African Jews due to the strong stand he and the ANC have taken against Israel’s policies.

and today we have great news from the united kingdom. they are making the moral choice not to accept office space in the man who has african and palestinian blood on his hands, lev leviev (now if we can only get the uk to sanction the zoinist regime then we’d be getting somewhere, but i suppose that is too much to ask. i mean, where would the zionist entity be without their british friends?):

The British embassy in Tel Aviv has stopped negotiations to lease a floor in Africa-Israel’s Kirya Tower because of the company’s role in West Bank settlement construction.

The British embassy had been expected to move from its current Hayarkon Street location into the office tower on the corner of Kaplan and Begin. The lease would have cost $162,000 a year, the British press reported.

Africa-Israel is owned by Lev Leviev, a tycoon who recently left Israel and settled in Britain.

jamal juma’ has an article in electronic intifada this week encouraging us on to continue our actions, to build on this momentum with bds as civil society, but his reference to latin america is an important reminder that one of the reasons for bds is that we, as civil society members need to use boycott and divestment pressure to encourage governments to sanction the zionist entity:

Latin America, on the other hand, is the only region wherein popular anger was more or less reflected in official discourse and action. It is no coincidence that Bolivia and Venezuela, the two countries in the region that cut diplomatic ties with Israel, are also the two states whose governments operate, both in principle and in practice, according to the needs of the majority.

Palestine has developed into a global litmus test for democracy. While more progressive states in Latin America stood up for Palestine and BDS, repressive Middle Eastern regimes did their best to crush popular mobilization. The EU governments stood somewhere in the middle, giving further proof of their special form of “democracy” wherein people are allowed to express their opinions but not influence government decisions.

Regardless of governmental political leanings, the mobilizations evidence a considerable and growing popular support for the Palestinian people. Yet, these protests, while encouraging, do not guarantee longer-term political gains. The most recent and sobering example of this were the record numbers of people who turned out to protest the most recent invasion of Iraq and the subsequent problems that have plagued the creation of an effective anti-war movement.

Instead, we should look to the concrete BDS victories that followed Gaza as evidence of lasting political change. The actions of South African workers and Latin American social movements, to mention only a few examples, represent not only anger over Gaza, but also its effective channeling into an organized movement that far predates this most recent atrocity. They indicate that we have managed to build, in a short period of time, an effective focal point for uniting international solidarity and support for the Palestinian cause.

i get impatient with those organizing in the u.s. very easily, one of the many reasons i left the country, because there is still so much educational work to be done before people can see why bds is necessary. i wish that students in american universities, for instance, would work to occupy their institutions and divest now rather than educating, but at the same time i suppose it is important to remember that the students at hampshire college worked on their campaign for 2 years before getting to where they are now. and the research one needs to do in order to discover what israeli and american and european companies that invest in the israeli terrorist state takes a long time. thus, columbia university seems to be on the right path as david judd reports:

Students at Columbia University are taking up the fight for Palestinian rights and have begun organizing around a set of demands for the university’s divestment from Israel.

The students’ demands, released on March 2, include full disclosure of Columbia’s budget and endowment, a public forum on divestment, partnership with a Palestinian university, scholarships for Palestinian students and statements of support for Palestinian academic freedom and self-determination.

Students plan to host a forum on March 4, on “Columbia University’s Relationship to Palestinian rights.” A rally in front of the administration building is planned for the next day.

This comes just two weeks after more than a hundred Columbia University faculty members signed a letter demanding that the university’s president take a stand for academic freedom in Palestine.

at columbia university and elsewhere along the east coast my dear friend ziad abbas, who is a refugee from the village of zakariya in 1948 palestine though he grew up in deheishe refugee camp, is starting his speaking tour this week for israel apartheid week and i strongly encourage people to attend. he is inspirational and amazing in every way:

Ziad Abbas, a Palestinian refugee and journalist from Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, is the cofounder of the Ibdaa Cultural Center. Ziad has worked with Palestinian and international media and has participated in the production of several documentary films. He recently completed his M.A. in Social Justice from the School for International Training (SIT). Currently on leave from the Ibdaa Cultural Center, Ziad works with Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), a non-profit organization which provides humanitarian aid to children in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. The tour will help support MECA’s efforts in Gaza.

Atlanta, GA

TUESDAY March 3rd, 2009 – 7pm
Testimony, Apartheid and Resistance
Harland Cinema
Dobbs University Center/Drawer B
Emory University
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA welcome!!
Contact Saba at skhali3(at)emory.edu or Atasi at atasi.das(at)gmail.com
Sponsored by Emory Advocates for Justice in Palestine

Brattleboro, VT

WEDNESDAY March 4th, 2009 – 6:30 pm
International Center (IC) 101
SIT Graduate Institute
1 Kipling Road
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations welcome!!
Contact Jennifer at Jennifer.McClearen(at)sit.edu or Atasi at atasi.das(at)gmail.com

Marlboro, VT

THURSDAY March 5th, 2009 – 7pm
Ragle Hall
Marlboro College
2582 South Road
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA welcome!!
Contact Mikaela at mikaela_sims(at)wsesu.org

New York, NY

TUESDAY March 10th, 2009 – 6:30pm
Silver Center, Room 703
New York University
31 Washington Square Place
(btwn Greene St. & Washington Square East)
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Morgan at morgan.l.brennan(at)gmail.com or Atasi at atasi.das(at)gmail.com

WEDNESDAY March 11th, 2009 – 7:30pm
Columbia University
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Shaina at srl2127(at)columbia.edu

Washington D.C.

THURSDAY March 12th, 2009 – 7pm
Busboys @ 5th & K.
1025 5th Street NW, DC
(202) 789-2227
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Vera at vera.leone(at)gmail.com

Harrisonburg, VA

FRIDAY March 13th, 2009 – 7pm

Strite Conference Room in the Campus Center (main building in center of campus)
Eastern Mennonite University
1200 Park Rd
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Suzi at suzi(at)clementinecafe.com

Portland, ME

SUNDAY March 15th, 2009 – 7pm
Meg Perry Center
644 Congress St.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!
Donations to MECA are welcome!!
Contact Dan at fugedaboutit(at)gmail.com

Lewiston, ME

MONDAY March 16th, 2009 – 7pm
Bates College
Location: TBA
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Donations to MECA welcome!!
Contact Samy at sqarmout(at)bates.edu or Grif gpeterso(at)bates.edu

finally, for those who are in palestine, here is the list of events for israel apartheid week–in arabic followed by english–that you can attend in refugee camps and universities throughout the west bank:

للنشر الفوري: 3 آذار 2009

بيان صحفي صادر عن اللجنة الوطنية الفلسطينية لمقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها، وفرض العقوبات عليها

الجامعات ومخيمات اللاجئين في الضفة الغربية المحتلة تطلق حملة فعاليات أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي (2 – 9 آذار 2009)

يصادف هذا الأسبوع والممتد من الثاني من آذار وحتى التاسع منه، الدورة الخامسة لأسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي، والذي يعقد في أكثر من أربعين موقعاً في العالم. وقد امتد هذا الأسبوع إلى فلسطين المحتلة، حيث ان هذه هي السنة الثانية التي ينظم فيها هذا الأسبوع في عدد من الجامعات والمخيمات الفلسطينية في الضفة الفلسطينية المحتلة. ويتضمن أسبوع الفصل العنصري لهذا العام سلسلة من الفعاليات المتنوعة، تشمل المحاضرات والعروض الثقافية، وعروضاً للأفلام الوثائقية وتنظيماً للمعارض، إضافة إلى تنظيم التجمعات والمظاهرات والنقاشات التي تهدف إلى تسليط الضوء على نظام الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي، وزيادة الدعم لحركة التضامن المحلية والعالمية الداعية لمقاطعة إسرائيل وفرض العقوبات عليها حتى تذعن للقانون الدولي وقرارات الشرعية الدولية ذات الصلة.

ينظم أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي لهذا العام في فلسطين المحتلة تحت عنوان: لنقف صفاً واحداًُ مع غزة، التي تعرضت وسكانها الفلسطينيين إلى هجمة إسرائيلية متوحشة مع بداية عام 2009، أدت إلى استشهاد 1400 معظمهم من السكان المدنيين، والتي ترافقت مع حالة من السخط العالمي الشعبي على المجازر الإسرائيلية، تمثلت في التضامن غير المسبوق مع الشعب الفلسطيني وفي المطالبة بمقاطعة إسرائيل وفرض العقوبات عليها.

هذا وتنظم فعاليات أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي في عدد من الجامعات ومخيمات اللاجئين الفلسطينيين في الضفة الغربية المحتلة، وستأخذ هذه الفعاليات عدة أشكال نضالية سلمية ضد نظام الابرتهايد الإسرائيلي. ورغم انه قد درج استخدام أسبوع الفصل العنصري الإسرائيلي إلا أن الفعاليات ستستمر خلال شهر آذار، وستتكلل بمسيرة جماهيرية بتاريخ 30 آذار 2009 الذي يصادف يوم الأرض. هذا وستنظم مجمل الفعاليات الجماهيرية لهذا اليوم تحت عنوان: مقاطعة إسرائيل وفرض العقوبات عليها. وسترفع الفعالية المركزية شعار:
لنجعل يوم الأرض يوم مقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها.

لقد أصبح أسبوع الفصل العنصري منذ انطلاقته في العام 2005، احد أهم الأنشطة على أجندة التضامن العالمي مع القضية الفلسطينية. ففي العام المنصرم، شاركت 25 مدينة عالمية في الأنشطة والفعاليات المختلفة المنبثقة، إلى جانب مشاركتها في إحياء الذكرى الستين للنكبة الفلسطينية. إن الحضور والمشاركة في فعاليات أسبوع مقاطعة إسرائيل، تعتبر عوامل أساسية للتواصل مع الحركة المحلية والعالمية المتصاعدة الداعية لمقاطعة إسرائيل، وتساعد على فهم طبيعة ومضمون نظام الابارتهايد والاستعمار الاحلالي، والاحتلال الإسرائيلي العدواني.

وفيما يلي قائمة بالمواقع المشاركة في الأسبوع في الضفة الغربية:
القدس: جامعة القدس (ابو ديس)، مخيم شعفاط.
رام الله: جامعة بيرزيت، مخيم الجلزون.
بيت لحم: بيت ساحور، مخيم عايدة.
الخليل: مخيم الفوار.
جنين: الجامعة الامريكية، مخيم جنين.
اريحا: جامعة القدس المفتوحة، مخيم عقبة جبر.
نابلس: جامعة النجاح الوطنية، مخيم بلاطة.
طولكرم: جامعة القدس المفتوحة، كلية خضوري، مخيم نور شمس.
طوباس: مخيم الفارعة

للمزيد من التفاصيل الرجاء التواصل مع: محمد جيوس، الحملة الشعبية لمقاومة الجدار (0599649815)،
وللمزيد من التفاصيل حول الفعاليات في مخيمات اللاجئين الرجاء التواصل مع: حازم سليمان، مسؤول التواصل في بديل/ المركز الفلسطيني لمصادر حقوق المواطنة واللاجئين: (2747346+)، أو (2777086+)، ومباشرة على: info [at] bdsmovement.net

**For Immediate Release**

“Israeli Apartheid Week” Taking Place in Universities and Refugee Camps
Across the Occupied West Bank

March 2nd – March 8th 2009
Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, Nablus, Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Tubas
For a detailed list of events, please see: http://apartheidweek.org

BDS National Committee (BNC), Occupied Palestine, 26 February 2009 – The fifth international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) – occurring in over 40 cities in Palestine and worldwide – will be held across the West Bank from 2-8 March 2009.

This is the second consecutive year IAW is hosted in the West Bank. The week will feature lectures, film screenings, art and photography exhibits, cultural events and demonstrations aiming at deepening the apartheid analysis of Israel, while gathering support for the growing local-Palestinian and international movement for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel complies with international law.

The theme of this year’s IAW is “Standing United with the People’s of Gaza” – a focus which comes in the wake of the brutal Israeli military attacks on the people of Gaza in early 2009. Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the assault, more than 5,000 injured, and 14, 000 homes were totally or partially destroyed. Apartheid week will build upon the widespread protest and indignation witnessed during Israel’s assault and seek practicable ways to hold Israel accountable.

Campus and refugee camp boycott campaigns will be launched and developed during the week, in the lead-up to the 30 March (Land Day) BDS global day of action.

Since its initial launch in 2005, IAW has grown to become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar. Last year, more than 25 cities around the world participated in the week’s activities, which also commemorated 60 years since the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homes and land in 1947-1948. Attending IAW is important for anyone interested in understanding and connecting with the rising student and youth movement in the West Bank that has taken a pivotal role in organizing and mobilizing against Israeli apartheid, occupation and colonialism.

The full list of locations is as follows:

Jerusalem: al-Quds University (Abu Dis), Shu’fat Refugee Camp
Ramallah: Birzeit University, Jalazon Refugee Camp
Bethlehem: Beit Sahour and ‘Aida Refugee Camp
Hebron: Fawwar Refugee Camp
Jenin: Arab-American University, Jenin Refugee Camp
Jericho: al-Quds Open University, Aqabat Jabr Refugee Camp
Nablus: al-Najah University, Balata Refugee Camp
Tulkarem: al-Quds Open Unversity, al-Khadouri Collge, Nur Shams Refugee Camp
Tubas: Far’a Refugee Camp

For media contacts and inquiries, please contact:
For campus initiatives:
Mohammad Jayyousi, Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, +972-599649815

For initiatives in the refugee camps:
Hazem Suleiman, Badil Resource Center +972-2-277-7086

Please, direct email inquiries to: info [at] bdsmovement.net

more bds wrap up

i’m bummed that i haven’t had time to blog for the past couple of days because there is such exciting boycott, divestment, and sanctions news going on. but i’m visiting friends in deheishe refugee camp this weekend and so short on time. so i’ll just post some updates with links below…

the most exciting news, of course, is that the students of new york university have followed their colleagues in the united kingdom and the university of rochester and hampshire college and they have occupied their university. it seems from their blog that the university is being extremely harsh and cracking down on them at present. but they must be supported and commended. their statement is utterly brilliant. it reads:

NYU is the latest university to join a wave of global student occupations in the name of student empowerment. The Kimmel Center for University life is official a reclaimed space.

Demands

We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.

2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.

3. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.

4. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.

5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publicly affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publicly affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.

6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.

7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.

8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:

a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.

b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.

9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.

10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.

11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.

12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.

13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

SOLIDARITY STATEMENT

We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student occupations in Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future occupations to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of Palestine.

from their website it seems as if they have already ended their occupation, which is disappointing as it does not seem as if their demands have been met. stay tuned.

there is also hope that a sports boycott is burgeoning with the recent news of an israeli terrorist tennis player being banned from playing in dubai. will on kabobfest shows why this is necessary and why sports are indeed political:

I want to add a more forceful argument after Abou Mack’s post on this subject. While he has doubt about a sports boycott, I am fully supportive, in principle and in this case in particular.

1. The star tennis player joined the Israeli military in 2005 and went through basic training.

2. Her induction was used for PR purposes by the military.

3. She served in the “IDF program for outstanding athletes.”

4. The Israeli military is a belligerent occupying force that has violated international law consistently in various forms since its inception.

5. By willingly serving and putting hr public image to the military’s use, she abetted violations of international law.

6. The Israeli military recently killed more than 1000 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians.

7. There is an active, organized boycott movement that makes clear demands and is part of a political program. It was launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

8. She has shown no understanding for why people would be angry to see a former IDF soldier after the Gaza offensive. Her statement claims she is a victim of discrimination. She has not made any comment regarding the immobility of Palestinian athletes living under the occupation forces she served for.

kim peterson on dissident voices offers more context on the sports boycott, in which he says, in part:

At the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, 26 nations boycotted the inclusion of Aotearoa (New Zealand) for maintaining sporting relations with the the apartheid states of Rhodesia and South Africa.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that segregation on a state’s Olympic teams was wrong. South Africa was expelled by the IOC in 1970.

It is a widely held view that Israel is an apartheid state. A distinction has been made between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid, in that the latter is more insidious, being premised on committing genocide. The recent slaughter in Gaza is but another demonstration of the genocidal intent of the Zionists.

The Palestinian Sports Foundation, Atlas, accused apartheid-state Israel of targeting Palestinian athletes, a violation of the IOC Charter.

Tennis Principles

Tennis was not so stringent against sporting links with apartheid regimes. It did ban South Africa from international play in 1970 Davis Cup, which re-instated South Africa won in 1974, after India refused to play it in the final. South Africa was again barred from team competition, but individual South Africans were allowed to play on the pro tours.

The WTO chairman voiced concern about fair treatment for Peer.

Peer said in a statement to the AP, “I am very disappointed that I have been prevented from playing in the Dubai tournament. I think a red line has been crossed here that could harm the purity of the sport and other sports. I have always believed that politics and sports should not be mixed.”

Unfortunately, Peer is, indeed, a victim here. Nonetheless, one wonders what Peer believes about human rights for Palestinians, victims of her country’s government’s racist policies. What does she think about the fact that Israeli Jews are living on land that they violently dispossessed the indigenous Palestinians of? What does she think of the red line that Israeli Jews crossed when they invaded and slaughtered Gazans?

What has priority: that a person is not barred from playing a game or that Palestinians are not barred from living in peace and dignity? Does justice for Peer, the individual, take precedence over the fate of an entire people? Peer has an opportunity, few people are so meaningfully presented in life, to sacrifice her love of playing tennis to bring attention to the plight of an oppressed people. Her silence about the plight of Gazans and her right to play tennis speak loudly.

and for some analysis of why the israeli terrorist dance company is being boycotted on its tour here is an article from the editor of the dance insider by paul ben-itzak:

So Ohad Naharin, rather self-servingly and — for someone who claims the mantle of artist to confer on himself a sort of moral immunity — cynically, thinks that “it’s not really going to make a difference to boycott a dance company.” A month and a half and 1,000 victims ago, I pointed out that the question was not whether a dance company should be singled out for boycott, but whether a dance company should get a get-out-of-boycott free card. What’s so special, after all, about Ohad Naharin and Batsheva that they should merit such an exemption? Has Naharin, all of whose company, including himself, have served in the Israeli army, voiced any kind of objection to what his country has wrought that would lead us to believe he’s not among the 90 percent of Israelis who supported those actions? No. But today, in the context of a PR campaign that seeks to distort the cruel Israeli reality by distracting us with images of (largely feminine) beauty, I would say that not only is Batsheva guilty of doing nothing to oppose its country’s violence, but as a government-sponsored self-proclaimed ambassador of Israel, it is culpable in Israel’s campaign to (literally) white-wash its bloody image. “I think artists belong to a group of people who don’t represent the ugly side of Israel,” Naharin says. Exactly. And this image is a lie. This is not America, where roughly 50 percent — sometimes more, sometimes less — opposed the Bush government’s illegal and murderous war on Iraq, and where numerous artists didn’t just impotently wring their hands about the violence on both sides but risked their careers to publicly denounce their own government’s actions. This is Israel, where 90 percent — *90 percent*! — supported a policy in which civilians, including on internationally protected grounds, including women, children, and non-combatant men, were targeted and killed. (You aim at an obviously civilian facility, car, or home; you fire lethal weapons at it; you block medical aid from getting to the survivors — voila, you’re targeting civilians.) And where Ohad Naharin has not publicly denounced his country’s actions. Brand Israel? I say that today, the Israel brand has come to represent genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and anything but Jewish values, never mind the Israeli rabbis who try to justify the killing of Arabs. I say that Israel and its ambassadors, including the ‘artistic’ ones like Ohad Naharin and his company, are now branded with the mark of Cain. I say, let’s boycott this company and make it and any other representative of its country — no matter how superficially beautiful — a vagabond and a fugitive on the Earth until it stops slaying its brother.

and here is an example of something that must be boycotted:

Quite extraordinarily, the Science Museum in London and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry have both been made available (on 3 and 5 March respectively) for an event called “Israel Day of Science”. The museums argue they are not sponsoring the event, but have merely hired out their premises. This subtle distinction is unlikely to be appreciated by the many thousands of all ages and faiths who have repeatedly taken to the streets round the country to protest against Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

The event is promoted by the Zionist Federation and is designed to showcase the scientific achievements of seven Israeli universities. But all of these are complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry so recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza. To take just one example, Tel Aviv University, in its most recent annual review, states that “the Israel ministry of defence is currently funding 55 projects at TAU”, which “is playing a major role in enhancing Israel’s security capabilities and military edge”. The head of TAU’s security studies programme was a former director of the R&D directorate of the Israel ministry of defence. He holds the rank of major-general in the Israel Defence Forces and is a member of the Knesset.

and adalah is calling for a lev leviev diamond boycott at the oscars coming up:

Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation-NYC (JATO-NYC) have called on 16 Hollywood PR firms and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to ensure that no stars wear Leviev diamonds at this Sunday’s Academy Awards. In a two week campaign involving letters and dozens of phone discussions with PR firms, the groups drew attention to Leviev’s violations of human rights and international law in the occupied West Bank where his companies build Israeli settlements, and in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia. Leviev reportedly controls one third of the world’s diamond mines.

The 16 PR firms contacted include six firms representing the ten nominees for best actress and best supporting actress, and representatives for many other female stars. The PR firms acknowledged receiving the Adalah-NY/JATO-NYC letter, and a number of the firms said the letter had been circulated among their senior staff. In a February 18th phone call with Adalah-NY, a press spokesman for the Oscars also said they had received Adalah-NY and JATO-NYC’s letter, but had no comment on the letter’s appeal to ban Leviev’s jewelry, or the groups’ assertion that “the presence of Leviev jewelry at the Academy Awards would taint the events with complicity in Leviev’s companies’ egregious” human rights violations.

queer activists in san francisco are also calling for boycott of the tel aviv film festival:

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), a San Francisco Bay Area solidarity group, is calling on international Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer filmmakers not to participate in the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival this June. QUIT!’s call for filmmakers to respect the cultural boycott of Israel initiated by more than 100 organizations of Palestinian civil society. The call has been joined by members of South West Asian and North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ) and a founder of Trikone, the largest South Asian LGBT organization in the world.

all of this solidarity is amazing and glen ford expresses it beautifully in his article on black agenda report this week:

African Americans must take a leadership role in the movement to boycott and disinvest in Israel, both for reasons of elemental justice and to defend our own people from the raging rightwing, corporate assault, of which the pro-Israel lobby is an integral component. If solidarity with Palestinians who suffer the aggressions of a regime as fundamentally racist as apartheid South Africa is not a compelling enough reason – and it surely is – then self-defense against Zionist subversion of domestic Black politics should move us to action. There can be no prospect of global peace or domestic progress while Israel runs amok in the Mid-East and its operatives wreak havoc in the African American political arena.

The moral imperative to answer the call “to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era,” is overwhelming – so much so that failure to act amounts to a kind of self-mutilation, a defiling of one’s legacy. Every iota of African American past and present existence tells us that no people can be allowed to superimpose themselves, their history, their supra-national rights on another people and their land, thus negating the Other’s humanity – the essential facts of Zionism.

“There can be no prospect of global peace or domestic progress while Israel runs amok.”

1948 saw the creation of civilization’s greatest document to date – possibly the founding document of the truly modern era – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The year also witnessed the founding of a state based on the antithesis of those values: Israel.

Both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tapped the deep reservoirs of the Declaration in their struggle for African Americans’ human rights, and both understood the indivisibility of freedom. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” wrote Dr. King in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Malcolm counseled Black activists that “if they would expand their civil rights movement to a human rights movement it would internationalize it.”

and for those who need reminding about why bds is essential here are some of israel’s latest terrorist acts:

Israeli police and soldiers uprooted more than 100 newly-planted olive trees from privately-owned Palestinian land in the West Bank village of Al-Jab’a, southwest of Bethlehem.

According to witnesses, between 10am and noon on Thursday, Israeli personnel uprooted each of the young trees individually, along with plastic protective tubes and wooden stakes.

Israeli jet fighters bombarded on Thursday midday areas along the Gaza-Egypt border, Palestinians sources reported.

The Israeli Army stated that the attacks targeted underground tunnels at the border line, Palestinian sources reported no injures.

Hours after the Israeli cabinet decided not to enter a truce deal with Gaza-based resistance factions, Israeli tanks rolled into eastern Gaza city and opened heavy random fire on Palestinian residents in southern Rafah city.

The Al Qassam brigades, armed wing of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, said in a statement emailed to media outlets, that its fighters clashed with Israeli tanks advancing into the eastern parts of Gaza city, with no causalities reported.

Also on Thursday morning, Israeli tanks opened heavy and random fire on Palestinian residential areas in Rafah city, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that Israeli tanks, stationed near the Kerem Shalom crossing, opened fire abruptly into the area; no injuries were reported.

Israeli media sources reported earlier on Thursday that an Israeli army unit on the Gaza-Israel border line in southern Gaza, spotted, wounded and arrested a Palestinian, while he was attempting to plant an explosive device near the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Israeli troops seized seven Palestinians from Nablus and the village of Asira Ash-Shamailya, north of the city, on Thursday.

and while the world focuses on one israeli terrorist who remains in gaza as some sort of deal breaker for ending the siege of gaza, check out the latest information about palestinian child political prisoners:

Palestinian researcher, specializing in detainees’ affairs, Awni Farawna, stated that the Israeli Army has kidnapped a total of 7,600 Palestinian children, males and females, since the year 2000; 246 children are still behind bars.

At least 200 of the kidnapped children were detained under administrative detention, without charges or trial. Some of the children were as young as 12 years old.

One detainee is now 13 months old as he was born behind bars. His mother, Fatima Al Zoq, was kidnapped while pregnant, and gave birth in prison while she was handcuffed and her legs were tied to the hospital bed.

Farawna stated that Israel’s targeting of children is a policy that targets childhood and a healthy growth, and expressed concern over the fate of the detained children as they are subjected to different sorts of violations, including torture and isolation, which affects their growth, physical and psychological conditions, in addition to affecting their education.

Hundreds of children were cut off schools due to being imprisoned; hundreds of detainees were kidnapped when they were children and grew up behind bars. Many of them have spent more years behind bars than with their families.

Several detained children were sexually abused and violated by interrogators and soldiers, while a number of Israeli prisoners, held for criminal violations, also attacked them.

Farawna stated that international law and treaties regarding children forbid barring children from their freedom, forbid torturing and violating them, and call for providing them with a healthy environment, education, mental and physical care, and calls for providing them with the needed recreation.

On the ground, Israel is ongoing with kidnapping Palestinian children, imprisoning and torturing them. At least 93 percent of the detained children were tortured, physically and mentally, and were forced to sign confessions which were used later on in Israeli courts.

Farawna added that the detained children are treated by the soldiers and the interrogators as adults, which comes in direct violation of international law and international human rights.

Many children were arrested more than one time before they reached the age of 18; others were kidnapped as children, and grew up to be young men and women while they were in prison.

Several children who grew up in prison and were released later on are having difficulties in coping with the outside world; some became violent and tend to seek vengeance.

Some of the abuse practices against the detained Palestinian children are in the form of sexual harassment, threat of rape, forcing them to undress and having pictures taken of them naked, and threats of more harm if they do not become collaborators with the occupation.

Farawna demanded international human rights groups to intervene and put pressure on Israel in order to oblige Israel to comply with international law and the fourth Geneva Convention.

He said that the children should be back in school, not in cells, and that the daily violence they witness, the arrest of their parents, the death and destruction they witnessed before being kidnapped, is also affecting their growth and behavior.

The ongoing Israeli violations are creating a generation of Palestinians who seek vengeance, a generation that is willing to join the resistance at an early age, a generation of youths who have nothing more to lose after the occupation took their childhood, tortured and abused them, in addition to imprisoning them for extended periods.

The Israeli military says that 10 Palestinians were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.

Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided several areas in Nablus, including the Old City, detaining Mahmoud Taher Samaro, Na’el Khamis Awad and Ashraf Al-Qurdy, 22.

In Asira Ash-Shamailya, local sources said that Israeli troops seized three residents after raiding their houses: Ala Awwad Ash-Sholi, 31, Ammar Jarar’a, 25, and Ubay Hamadneh, age unknown.

Marwan Mahmoud Hassan Hamdah, 25, was detained from Al-Ain refugee camp, in the west of Nablus.