how to become a colonist in palestine

al jazeera’s jacky rowland shows her producer going undercover to buy a jewish-only home in occupied palestine. very interesting footage and story:

one thing she left out, however, about this company rowland investigates. the company, anglo-saxon real estate (just a little hint there about the type of jews they are looking for as neighbors), is a subsidiary of israeli terrorist colonist lev leviev diamond billionaire’s company africa-israel. for an understanding of the colonial relations between the zionist entity’s lev leviev and africa click this link to see my earlier post about it. here is what his “real estate” firm says about their business of stealing land (though of course they don’t acknowledge it as such):

Anglo-Saxon is a firm company operating according to the franchise method that deals with all types of real estate marketing and brokerage: lands, apartments, luxury apartments, houses, industry buildings, offices, commercial grounds, warehouses, stores, etc. The chain is owned by Africa-Israel LTD. The chain includes 52 offices throughout the country, spread from the suburbs of Haifa in the north to Eilat in the south, including sales offices in various construction sites throughout the country. Anglo-Saxon is the strongest brand in this industry, well-known to about 85% of the potential customers in Israel. The company applies the most advanced working methods in the industry. The job of the chain’s management is to supply these branches and offices with an infrastructure of means and tools that should help them meet their business objectives. This finds its expression in many aspects, such as marketing, various means of public relations and advertisement, infrastructure of training and organizational development, a School for Real Estate and Courses for Real Estate Dealers and Consultants, of the leading ones in the industry, as well as development of internal communication channels within the chain, development of data bases, and more.

one of these colonists hit a palestinian today with her car, though i don’t believe this terrorist will be killed for using her car as a weapon…:

A Palestinian teen was injured when an Israeli settler rammed her with his car near the southern West bank city of Hebron on Thursday morning.

Local sources said the settler fled the scene before Israeli military and police arrived at the location.

Hind Alemor, 15, sustained cuts and bruises and was moved Hebron city hospital for treatment, medical sources reported. She comes from the village of Yatta near Hebron city, the sources added.

dividing and ruling until there is no one left to divide, nothing left to rule

more and more in my daily life here, my conversations with students and friends, and my observation of the political situation around me that if something is not done soon, if there is not significant unity (among the people, i mean, not in terms of political parties that meet no one’s needs) and resistance palestinians will be removed to jordan. jordan would be the palestinian state that the zionists have always been pushing for. i have posted here in other posts videos of them saying that “palestine is jordan.” they don’t make any secret about this. the thing is that all of their crimes are so patently obvious, written about in the memoirs of israeli terrorists’ from david ben-gurion to ariel sharon. and they widely announce their criminal acts in their media. and there are of course many historians who have documented these crimes: crimes of massacre, of land theft, of ethnic cleansing.

i’ve been reading jonathan cook’s brilliant new book disappearing palestine and one of the many things he documents here are the ways in which patterns of colonialism and its controlling regimes were first in place in 1948 palestine later became the practice in 1967 palestine. he quotes raja shehdeh’s memoir, palestinian walks, who made an important observation about the fact that palestinians in the 1967 territories should have taken their cue and learned their lessons from their kin in 1948 palestine:

They would tell us: “You don’t know a thing about Israel. We can tell you what is coming: land expropriations, biased zoning that will strangle your towns, and unfair taxation that will impoverish you.” And we would look with condescension at them and think they had lived for so long under Israel that they had become colonized unable to think beyond their narrow claustrophobic reality. (83)

cook documents this reality in the aftermath of an nakba and an naksa. one of the first colonial bits of business the zionists had to attend to given that they did not succeed in ethnically cleansing all of historic palestine was to figure out how to control the population:

Israel worked quickly to “de-Palestinianize” the minority, who were officially referred to as either “the minorities” or as “Israeli Arabs.” State policy was to encourage group identification at the sectarian and ethnic levels–in a classic strategy of divide and rule–by accentuating communal differences. In 1949, for example, the Education Ministry was advised to “emphasize and develop the contradictions” between the Druze, Christian and Muslim populations to diminish their Arab and Palestinian identities. (31)

these were the first steps of divide and rule, common to all colonial regimes. the second step was no more unique:

Severe restrictions on the minority’s freedom of movement did offer many benefits, however, even if most were unrelated to security. Any danger of relations developing between Palestinian and Jewish populations could be averted by isolating the minority; expulsions of Palestinians from areas intended for Jewish settlement were made easier; Palestinian workers could be prevented from competing for jobs with Jewish workers; and the minority’s votes could be bought by the governing party through its powers of patronage. But the two most important benefits to the state related to land. First, by exploiting the need of travel permits to work and see family, the military government was able to recruit an extensive network of informers and collaborators who helped in altering the authorities to attempts by the external refugees to “infiltrate” and return to their villages. And second, having confined most Palestinian citizens to their communities, the military government was able to carry out unopposed the confiscation of large tracts of outlying farming land. (36)

you get the picture? palestinians in 1948 palestine have lived in these bantustans for 61 years. they have lived through the imprisonment inside ghettos, while their land continued to be confiscated. they have lived through this system of huge numbers of its population becoming collaborators with the israeli terrorists. this has been the blueprint for the west bank and gaza as well. but also, like in 1948, israeli terrorists wanted to ethnically cleanse the west bank and gaza as they had done in 1948 palestine. during an naksa there were 250,000–1/4 of the population in the west bank and gaza–fled in terror. cook cites the israeli terrorists who planned this ethnic cleansing as they had done consistently over the decades:

A quarter of a century later, the president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, admitted that he had secretly organized the expulsion of 200,000 Palestinians as the first military governor of the West Bank. Men aged between 20 and 70 were rounded up and put on buses to take them to the border with Jordan. In a separate interview, Uzi Narkiss, who was in charge of the Central Command in 1967, alluded to the same, or related expulsions: “The number began with 600 and 700 persons a day, and then it began to decline until it reached a few scores, and after two or three months the operation stopped. (51)

through much of the book cook traces the developments of various strains of zionist thinking in the zionist entity’s regime. one of the issues they went back and forth on, with essentially the same results in practice, was whether they wanted “separation” (= apartheid) or “transfer” (= ethnic cleansing). of course in the end they have done both. but always in the most surreptitious ways possible so as not to upset the international community, to always make it seem as if they have a veneer of abiding by international law, all the while behaving criminally at every level. and we can see the seeds of forcing all palestinians into jordan and egypt respectively–which remain in israeli terrorist discourse–in the blueprint for what they wanted to do–and did–with their newly conquered territories of palestine in 1967. we can see this on the economic level (which is why boycott is essential) and we can see this on the level of land and people. cook lays out the roots of moshe dayan and yigal allon’s plans for the region starting with allon:

Agricultural settlements “camouflaged as military strongpoints” would be erected on the annexed land, while the Palestinians inside their enclaves would live autonomously under what Allon called “home rule.” He argued that “the integration of civilian settlement in the defense plan, especially for outlying locales and the vulnerable regions, will provide the state with permanent advance outlooks.” The settlers could stop a surprise attack or at least “delay the enemy’s progress until the army takes control of the situation.” The result would be “the Whole Land of Israel strategically and a Jewish state demographically.”

Moshe Dayan, the defense minister, proposed an alternative strategy: Israel would take control of the mountain ridge above the Jordan Valley, the spine of the West Bank and the location of its water aquifers and major cities, creating five large army bases next to which would be built civilian settlements connected to Israel by roads. The two nationalities–Israelis and Palestinians–would live side by side, connected to different countries, with the Palestinians remaining Jordanian citizens. The goal of Dayan’s plan, unlike Allon’s, was to break up the continuity of Palestinian areas so that the inhabitants would never be in a position to unite and demand independence. Then, he hoped, Israel would be able to win over the Palestinians by offering them employment servicing the economy of the settlements, or, as he expressed it, “bind[ing] the two economies so that it will be difficult to separate them again.” Over the next decades the settlement project would draw on both plans for inspiration. (57-58)

what is laid out above is essentially what happened in 1948 palestine as well. the way that colonies were built as well as the way that palestinians their were prevented from having their own economy so that they were forced into a service sector serving the colonial regime, though not in some ways as much as in other colonial regimes. partially this is because continual plans of expulsion have always been on the devious minds of israeli terrorists, for instance cook cites the prime minister levi eshkol after 1967 to force palestinians to be expelled to iraq and jordan (59). dayan, also worried about the demographic bomb of palestinians because of the people living in the newly conquered territory, had a solution called “creeping annexation.” here is cook explaining this plan:

The solution, in Defence Minister Dayan’s view, was “creeping annexation.” If it was carried outwith enough stealth, the illegality of Israel’s actions under international law would go unnoticed and the army would also have the time and room to “thin out” the Palestinian population. As Dayan observed in the early 1970s, creeping annexation would give the Palestinians a blunt message:

You shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave–and we will see where this process leads…In five years we may have 200,000 less people–and that is a matter of enormous importance.

(59)

just as the quoted bit from raja shehdeh’s memoir above points out the warning from palestinians in 1948 to palestinians in 1967, slowly but surely the same schemes emerged here. under the euphemism of “civilian administration,” for instance, which is really the colonial military administration for the west bank, the zionists have been able to control palestinian life in every imaginable way just as they had done previously in 1948 palestine:

In this way, the Civil Administration was able to control and manage the details of Palestinian life, such as seizing most of the West Bank’s substantial water resources; restricting the import and export of agricultural produce to favour Israeli producers by creating a captive Palestinian market; banning political meetings and the publication of newspapers to prevent dissent; holding Palestinians without trial in “administrative detention”; levying special taxes, the proceeds of which are unaccounted for but impoverish Palestinian society; and withholding money from organizations Israel defines as hostile, also exploited as a way to retard the emergence of civil society. Much like the earlier military rule inside Israel, the immediate benefit to Israel of these controls was to recruit a large class of Palestinian collaborators who depended on favours from the military administration to survive the deprivations of occupation. (63)

these are more ways in which israeli terrorists seek to divide the palestinian people. they do it physically by eroding the continuity of the territory and they do it by dividing the people on a social level so as to erode trust and defy unity. meanwhile the fact that the zionist entity is unified when it comes to devising ways to remove palestinians from the land, oftentimes through economic means (again: boycott! need i say it again?) through an apartheid system:

Shmuel Toledanao, a former Labor Party government adviser on Arab affairs, observed in 1977: “All the economic positions in this country are filled by Jews, the Jews control all the banks, all the corporations. In politics and the Histadrut, they have all the power.” (103)

of course, the zionist entity’s support for apartheid stretches way back, which cook documents including their cooperation on nuclear arms (funnily enough barack obama only ever seems to mention the possibility of iran obtaining nuclear weapons in the region without ever acknowledging that the zionist entity is the only one to already have them on hand). cook explains the recent evolution of apartheid thinking, planning, and acting in the israeli terrorist regime as well:

Apartheid’s abiding influence on Sharon’s thinking was explained by Avi Primor, vice-president of Tel Aviv University, in September 2002. He noted that Sharon and his generation of generals had always harboured an especial fondness for South Africa’s solution to its own demographic problem: a series of sham black homelands known as Bantustans. In these small homelands, termed “independent states” by white South Africans, the country’s black population was supposed to exercise its political and civil rights. Writing two ears after Camp David, when construction of the wall was just beginning, Primor argued that Israel was intending to establish, in line with apartheid policies, a set of bogus homelands for the Palestinians:

A process is under way establishing a “Palestinian state” limited to the Palestinian cities, a “state” comprised of a number of separate, sovereign-less enclaves, with no resources for self-sustenance. The territories of the West Bank and Gaza remain in Israeli hands, and its Palestinian residents are being turned into “citizens” of that “foreign country.”

Primor was not alone in noting Sharon’s affection for the Bantustans. The influential journalist Akiva Eldar reported that Sharon had long dreamt of an independent state of “Hamastan” in Gaza. “In his house, they called it a bantustan, after the South African protectorates designed to perpetuate apartheid.” Eldar pointed out that Massimo D’Alema recalled a meeting a few years before Sharon was elected prime minister in which he confided that the Bantustan model was the right one for the Palestinians. What appealed to him was the fact that the Bantustans were designed not only to separate the white minority from the black majority to the latter’s detriment, but also to divide the blacks from each other, isolating them in a series of separate and potentially antagonistic “states.” Following Camp David, Eldwar added, the Israeli leadership had agreed on a programme to cantonize the Palestinians, breaking up the putative Palestinian state into a series of disconnected ghettoes:

Alongside the severance of Gaza from the West Bank, a policy now called “isolation,” the Sharon-Peres government and the Olmert-Peres government that succeeded it carried out the bantustan program in the West Bank. The Jordan Valley was separated from the rest of the West Bank; the south was severed from the north; and all three areas were severed from East Jerusalem. The “two states for two peoples” plan gave way to a “five states for two peoples” plan: one contiguous state, surrounded by settlement blocs for Israel, and four isolated enclaves for Palestinians. (105-106)

the map i posted the other day, which you can see below or by clicking this link, shows that these plans have largely been successful. in other words there are these islands in which palestinians are separated from one another, from their land, from any possibility of uniting and meeting and organizing successful resistance strategies. but, of course, they need help enforcing that in these little walled in ghettos in which we live. this is, of course, the job of the palestinian authority. here is what cook has to say about how this evolved as yet another mechanism of colonial divide and rule:

Israel derived a major benefit from Arafat’s presence in the territories. In his new role as head of the Palestinian Authority he represented only a fraction of the Palestinian population: those living int he West Bank and Gaza. His other role, as head of the PLO, in which he represented all Palestinians, including those inside Israel and in the refugee camps of the Middle East, was fatally compromised by his return on Israel’s terms. Using the Oslo process, Israel successfully marginalized the question of justice for the entire Palestinian people by concentrating on the far more limited question of justice for Palestinians living under direct occupation.

His power entirely dependent on Israeli goodwill, Arafat’s task as leader of the Palestinian Authority would soon become clear: to enforce Israel’s security in the West Bank and Gaza, just as dozens of other Arab rulers had done before in their own territories on behalf of Western colonial powers. He was, in essence, Israel’s security contractor. (111)

we know what happens inside 1948 palestine when palestinian leaders refuse to do the dirty work of israeli terrorists: they get expelled. azmi bishara is exhibit a on this one. but there are countless others, less famous, less discussed. cook also discusses the ways in which the pa became further fragmented through the entrance of the united states as another layer of colonialism in palestine–a kind of neocolonialism here–that actively created further fragmentation between fatah and hamas. the u.s.-israeli terrorist boycott of the democratically elected hamas government and the infighting it created was what they both hoped would lead to a civil war here as cook explains:

A leaked report from Alvaro de Soto, the retiring UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, highlighted the American mood as Hamas and Fatah prepared to meet in Mecca over forging a national unity government:

The US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, so much so that, a week before Mecca, the US envoy [David Welch] declared twice in an envoys meeting in Washington how much “I like this violence,” referring to the near-civil war that was erupting in Gaza in which civilians were being regularly killed and injured because “it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas.”

In June 2007 the unity government collapsed when Hamas launched what it claimed was a pre-emptive strike in Gaza against a coup planned by forces loyal to Fatah strongman, Mohammed Dahlan. According to Hamas, Dahlan, who had been cultivated by US officials for several years, was plotting with Washington to overthrow the elected government. Hamas was widely condemned for its violent actions, though six months later its claims that it had foiled a Fatah coup were finally confirmed. Drawing on official US documents, an article in Vanity Fair revealed that the White House had been conspiring with Hamas to topple the Hamas government. (113-114)

so the divide and rule has been increasingly cultivated not only by the zionist entity, but also by its partner in crime, the u.s. but while they are actively working towards these facts on the ground that separate palestinian people, they are also still conspiring to figure out methods of mass expulsion. on the one hand the geography of little ghettos across all historic palestine, where palestinians are locked inside, this is not enough for the israeli terrorists. thus, cook cites yet another renewed plan to expel palestinians to jordan:

Reuven Pedatzur, a leading scholar on Israel’s strategic policies in the Middle East, noted similar developments in summer 2007. He reported that senior figures in the Jordanian regime were considering a “confederation” between Jordan and the Palestinians. If Israel agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state, they argued, the two neighbours could be run by a federal government presided over by the Jordanian king. Joint security services would also come under the control of the federal government–a move designed to placate both Israeli and Jordanian concerns about the creation of a Palestinian army on their doorsteps. Pedatzur pointed out that a former Jordanian prime minister, Abdel Salaam Majali, apparently with the blessing of the late Hussein’s son, King Abdullah, had been sounding out support in the US for a plan. Amman was reported to have shown renewed interest because it feared that the simmering tensions between Fatah and Hamas might eventually spill over into Jordan: either parallel struggles might develop inside its own borders among the Palestinian population there or fighting int he West Bank might lead to a large exodus of refugees pouring across the Jordan River. (119)

whether palestinian refugees have yet another exodus or not, this plan is clearly one designed to remove any possibility of palestinians receiving any form of justice on their land, on their terms. once again we have jordan conspiring about the status of palestinians with the zionists and their partners in crime behind the backs of palestinians. in the meantime, because of palestinians being forced into their isolated bantustan ghettos they are mostly prohibited from working inside the zionist entity as they used to do. no longer a slave labor market for the zionists they are now merely a captive market (again: boycott!):

But Israel’s other main economic relationship with the Palestinians has not been shed so easily. Until very recently Israel continued to rely heavily on the economic benefits of exporting its goods and produce to a captive market of nearly 4 million Palestinians under occupation. In 2006, for example, some 6 percent of all Israel’s exports–excluding diamonds–went to the territories, a trade worth some $2 billion, making the Palestinian Authority Israel’s second biggest customer after the United States. According to Ilan Eshel, head of the Israeli Fruit Growers’ Association, 10 per cent of all Israeli fruit was exported to Gaza, usually third-class produce that could not be sold elsewhere. (123)

all of these economic, social, and political divisions have the same constant effect whether expulsion or separation. they all work towards the same colonial goal of the zionist entity: to remove palestinians from their land, to make it impossible to ever have any semblance of a state, even if that state were the west bank (but, of course, the west bank is only a small fraction of palestine). there is much more in his book, i strongly recommend this and all of cook’s books. interestingly, on al jazeera’s “inside story” yesterday kamal santamaria addressed some of these issues with his guests, particularly my colleague abdul sattar qassem (he also had an israeli terrorist professor named gerald steinberg and an egyptian man hassan issa who seems to be in cahoots with the zionist). santamaria is a good interviewer, but abdul sattar is especially worth watching and listening to as always.

what you see in the above program is abdul sattar giving you some sense of the fact that there is no state possible, no state in existence. he says what we have is a palestinian “entity.” or more accurately entities given the bantustanization of palestine. moreover, those who have been following the words of israeli terrorist in chief benyamin netanyahu know that rather than talking about a palestinian state now he talks about a palestinian economy (review above for what that will mean for palestinians: in short a captive market). this is the reality. and this reality must be dealt with in a way that alters the discourse so people cannot be deluded into wasting their time on any more bogus so-called “peace processes” which invariably create more of the same apartheid and expulsion of palestinian land and people respectively.

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.

ketir bds news!

the blog pulse posted an important message from the students for justice in palestine the other day about the situation at hampshire college. hampshire college is seeking support in the form of writing about their historic work to divest from the terrorist state of israel:

Dear Supporters,

Over the last 24 hours, there has been a huge response from students, parents, journalists, activists, public figures, political organizations, and individuals such as yourselves from across the country and the world congratulating us for our historic achievement this week. We are impressed and heartened by your passion in supporting us in this exciting campaign.

There have been many developments since SJP went public with the divestment, so it might be hard to keep track of the flurry of updates that have been published all over the internet. Please visit our website for the most recent statements (http://www.hsjp.org/). Also, Phillip Weiss’s blog (http://www.philipweiss.org/) is a particularly good resource, as he’s been following the events closely.

Your support so far has been so helpful, especially since we’ve been working non-stop since we broke the news. There’s so much more to be done, so we’ve come up with a few specific ways to demonstrate your solidarity with SJP and the movement. Here they are—

1) E-mail the administration and the President to voice your concern over their refusal to own up to the divestment decision. Express your disappointment that President Hexter has done nothing to condemn Alan Dershowitz’s threatening phone calls to SJP’s spokespeople (see update on website). Forward your letters of congratulations that you sent to us to them too. Make sure they know that divestment is not just a college—it’s a movement!

A script is attached to the end of this e-mail as a guide if you would like to use it.

Contact:

Ralph Hexter (President): rhexter [at] hampshire.edu

President’s Office: 413-559-5521

2) Hampshire’s endowment is very small which means that most of the college’s year-to-year operating budget comes from tuition fees. For those who have donated, your contributions are greatly appreciated and important as the school is already in a troubled financial state. What we would like you to do for now is e-mail us every time you make a donation with the amount and your name so we can keep track of the funds and the support network.

3) Contribute to our video series, “Voices of Divestment.” We are trying to show the world that this isn’t about a small group of activists, but a wide range of people from all different walks of life. We would like you to make short 30-second to 1-minute clips and send them to us by uploading the video to youtube and emailing us the link.

Keep them informal, but stay passionate! Improvise. We want to hear why you support divestment in your own words.

Check out existing videos here: http://www.hsjp.org/voices-of-divestment/

Or alternatively: http://voicesofdivestment.wordpress.com/

4) Build momentum! This isn’t just about us; we’ve been getting a lot of e-mails about help & advice for starting similar BDS campaigns at other schools, and this is one of the most important ways you can help. If the BDS movement spreads rapidly, it will become clear to the public & the media that this is not just a local administrative dispute, but that we have finally reached a critical threshold in the United States.

Many groups and individuals have contacted us asking about going on speaking tours and giving trainings for campus divestment movements. We are very excited about the prospects of helping to spread divestment to many campuses and are investigating the logistics of how to make this happen. For now if you are interested in hosting us for a speaking tour in some capacity, please email us at HampshireSJP [at] gmail.com with the subject “SPEAKING”.

http://www.hsjp.org

the first issue they are facing are attacks from the usual suspect–alan dershowitz, which can be read if you follow the link below–but also the appearance that hampshire college is seeming to stray from its initial argument about why they divested:

Hampshire officials acknowledge they initiated a review of the specific State Street fund in question in response to a petition from Students for Justice in Palestine. However, Hampshire maintains that it transferred assets to another fund after finding much broader violations of its policy on socially responsible investing, including unfair labor policies, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing and unsafe workplace settings. In all, Hampshire says it found more than 200 companies in the fund that fell short of its standards. “[T]he decision expressly did not pertain to a political movement or single out businesses active in a specific region or country,” the college’s statement says.

As an analogy, Ralph Hexter, Hampshire’s president, said, “There might be a court case that the higher court sustains the ruling but the principles are entirely different. Not that we thought that way. This is not a policy decision; I can’t say that enough. The investment committee expressly rejected the idea that we were acting in any way [in regards to] a certain country or region or political position, but rather because it came to our attention — it happened to be through this [Students for Justice in Palestine] petition — that this fund contained many, many companies that were problematic, in a whole host of regions.”

Hexter acknowledged the court analogy was likely imperfect, and one imperfection is that when a higher court upholds a lower court’s ruling, but for different reasons, judges usually go out of their way to make the distinctions clear. That’s not quite what happened at Hampshire, at least initially. In the group’s press release, Students for Justice in Palestine quote Hexter as saying, during the February 7 board of trustees meeting when this was decided, “that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue to the attention of the committee.” Hexter said the quote was accurate.

“What I referred to was their good work at doing undergraduate-level research and bringing it to the appropriate subcommittee of the board. It didn’t rely on their work, but it’s the kind of praise that I think you give to students for using the processes of the college,” Hexter said. While he expressed disappointment in the students disseminating “such a partial and biased version” of what happened, he also pointed out, “Remember, they are students.”

“We reject in our actions any singling out of a country, we thought that’s entirely inappropriate and it never occurred to us that this would be taken as divestment from Israel because that wasn’t the question before us,” said Hexter. “We’re in an awkward position that people are claiming falsely what this is and all I can do is deny it…. I can tell you personally as president that I am definitely opposed to divestment from Israel.”

in response to these above statements made by hexter, students for justice in palestine at hampshire college issued the following statement, which reads in part:

On May 8, 2008 SJP presented a proposal to the Committee at Hampshire on Investment Responsibility (CHOIR), a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees’ investment committee. The proposal was to divest from six companies due to their activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. On May 16, 2008 SJP made the same presentation to the full Board of Trustees, urging them to divest from the six corporations. On August 26, 2008 CHOIR voted “to recommend to the investment committee that Hampshire College divest of the following six companies: Caterpillar, Terex, Motorola, ITT, General Electric, United Technologies based on full consideration of the presentation by SJP.” This is a direct quotation from the CHOIR meeting minutes.

After this recommendation, the Investment Committee made the decision to divest from the mutual fund that held these companies. On Feb 7, 2009, the Investment Committee informed the Board of Trustees of its decision to divest. The administration denies that the decision was made in response to any concerns about any particular “region” or “political movement;” however SJP was explicitly asked by the administration what companies to avoid in the future in terms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This fact illustrates that the Israeli occupation and SJP’s work were undoubtedly the primary reasons for the decision to divest.

Furthermore, the violations of the other 200 companies cited by the “statement of clarification” were only researched days before the investment committee’s decision to divest from the mutual fund. For eight and a half months the only specific companies in the State Street fund that were discussed were the six companies SJP targeted. These facts prove that the decision was made on the grounds of the six companies’ involvement in the occupation of Palestine. We can only assume the reason the Board and administration chose to depoliticize this decision is because of the volatile nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

At the time of SJP’s original proposal to the Board, the College’s policy on socially responsible investment had not been revised since 1994 and the Board was considering dissolving the committee on investment responsibility. It is clear that if SJP had not introduced its divestment proposal, the college would still be invested in the State Street mutual fund.

In sum, Hampshire College divested from the mutual fund for many reasons, yet the Palestine-Israel conflict was the most prominent reason behind divestment; the decision to divest was not outside of the context of SJP’s efforts. It does not matter if the Hampshire administration issues a public statement condemning the occupation; the Hampshire community understands how and why we came to divest.

Divestment from Apartheid South Africa did not prove politically popular in 1977 when Hampshire became the first college in the U.S. to take a stand. It is to be expected that the first of any movement faces great pressure and criticism. SJP is disappointed that the college is choosing to shy away from the political implications of its action rather than embrace this moment. Regardless, a week ago Hampshire College was invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today, the college is no longer complicit in the funding of this injustice. This is an irrefutable fact and a historical victory that calls for both celebration and support.

certainly there is overlap. there is a problem with investing in general. with corporations in general. they all have blood on their hands from different places, usually multiple places. the adalah campaign against lev leviev diamonds, as i have written about before, is one of many examples. this is why they make explicit these connections between blood diamonds in africa and the money from these diamonds financing israeli terrorist colonies in the west bank. you can see this in their chants in their recent protest. al jazeera’s josh rushing did an awesome job of showing the new momentum of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) campaign in the united states:

you can also see bill fletcher, one of our advisory board members for the us campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel, speaking eloquently about this growing movement in various other contexts, including the labor movement. you will also see rushing reporting about the recent growth of the cultural boycott targeting an israeli dance company currently touring north america:

People arriving at a performance by Israeli dancers’ in Chicago on Sunday were greeted by dozens of people protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza, the Chicago Progressive Examiner reported Thursday.

Palestine solidarity activists issued a call late last year for protest against the Tel-Aviv based Batsheva Dance Company following its announcement that it would tour the US and Canada between January and March of 2009.

The call for protest was launched in accordance with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which, in turn is modeled on the long campaign against South African Apartheid, the report said.

The Chicago chapter of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) began to organize resistance to a local Batsheva performance just as Israel ended Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. To promote the protest, grassroots communications outfit HammerHard MediaWorks came up with a slogan and graphic that tied the Batsheva to the suffering of Gaza’s residents.

According to the Chicago Progressive Examiner, people excited about the Batsheva performance for its artistic merits arrived at the Auditorium Theater on Sunday, and had to walk past a crowd of about 75 people, many of whom were wearing bandages smeared with fake blood to represent Palestinian casualties.

ISM’s Kevin Clark believes that his organization’s goal of convincing Batsheva patrons that supporting an Israeli entity made them complicit with the actions of the Israeli government was accomplished.

“We were chanting things like ‘this is no time for dancing,’ ‘you’re dancing on Gazans’ graves,'” he said, “and I could see people listening to us as they were standing in line in the theater lobby, and I saw a few – I’d say four or five – walk away without buying tickets.”

He added that others who didn’t leave were nevertheless affected. “I saw some people in tears. Obviously this was a really powerful militant action.”

Clark said the second major goal of the action was also accomplished. “We wanted to send the message to the Zionist community that there’s no safe haven. It doesn’t matter if it’s an artistic event, or athletic, or academic – you will have to deal with us and our call for justice,” he told the Chicago Progressive Examiner.

Batsheva has several more North American performances scheduled, and according to the report, similar protests are planned in Pittsburgh, Houston, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Vancouver, Canada

20090218-batsheva-protest-mn-clrpreview

for those wishing to organize a protest if this dance troupe comes to your city, check out nigel parry’s website where he has information, flyers, and materials you may download.

while many of us are working hard to support the boycott campaign, sari nusseibeh, president of al quds university, works hard to undermine those efforts. ma’an news reported–and i quoted it here a week or two ago–that al quds university (that bastion of normalization) would sever collaboration with israeli terrorist institutions. now nusseibeh is bragging not only about his normalization activities, but also about his collaboration with the most zionist university in the u.s., brandeis:

Mr. Nusseibeh, who has run Al Quds for 14 years, has created academic exchange programs with Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., as well as with George Washington University in Washington and universities in Israel, Sweden and Canada. The Bard program will offer the first joint degree.

“The radius of movement of most of our students does not exceed 40 miles,” Mr. Nusseibeh said as he sat in his East Jerusalem office one recent morning. “We need to help them see the world through different eyes.

“We do a lot of projects with Israel,” he continued. “I get criticism for it because many Palestinians want to boycott Israeli educational institutions. But the West Bank economy is 70 to 90 percent dependent on Israel. At least we should profit from their education. It is the one thing in my view we absolutely should not boycott.”

yes, it is difficult to unravel the ways in which the west bank economy is infested with israeli products. but this is the reason to boycott, not to submit. one of my friends told me the other day–a young friend who is a student at my university–that in the 1980s and 90s, before satellite dishes were widely available and affordable, all people had access to was israeli television and if they were lucky the jordanian station. she said growing up with almost entirely israeli cartoons and commercials left an indelible imprint in her mind about the superiority of all things israeli. she thinks this is why palestinians think israeli products are superior. this is the psychological warfare that they fight. in some ways i think it is worse than the military warfare they unleash on palestinians. and so we have still not succeeded in banning israeli products from an najah university, though we are continuing to work on this. meanwhile the students at edinburgh university have made some headway with boycott and other items in their occupation of their university:

We, the occupying students have secured the following…

• A complete end to Eden Springs bottled water on campus by the start of the next academic year (2009/10).

• An opportunity to bring our case regarding the university’s unethical investments directly to the University Court.

• Scholarships for 5 Palestinian students in Gaza to study at Edinburgh University, with consideration for fee waivers, reduced accommodation fees, travel allowances and visa support.

• A collaboration between the university management, student body and an NGO to collect various materials for shipping to Gaza and to fundraise for the implementation of this.

• A lecture and debate series, involving university staff and guest speakers, on various subjects relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict. There has already been interest in this from prominent scholars Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky.

and this is why the economic boycott is emerging in australia now:

Palestine solidarity activists in Sydney have launched a campaign targeting Max Brenner Chocolates, a 100% Israeli-owned company belonging to the Strauss Group, as part of the growing international boycott Israel movement.

The Strauss Group is the second-largest Israeli food and beverage company.

On the “corporate responsibility” section of its website, the Strauss Group emphasises the support it gives to the Israeli killing machine. Highlighting that it wants to “sweeten their special moment” the Strauss Group touts that, for more than 30 years, it has supported the Golani reconnaissance platoon, renowned for its murderous assaults on Palestinian civilians.

During Israel’s recent massacre in Gaza, a Ha’aretz article reported that the Golani platoon operated “in the sector in which the [Israel Defence Force] has seen the toughest battles with Hamas, the eastern part of Gaza City”.

According to the website of Adalah-NY, the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, Golani has also been involved in previous military operations in Gaza, in the massacres in the Jenin and Tul Karm refugee camps and the siege on Yasser Arafat’s Muqata compound in Ramallah.

It was also directly involved in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

Moreover, Adalah-NY reports that in November 2008, in a widely disseminated video, “members of the Golani Brigade filmed themselves forcing a captive, blindfolded Palestinian to sing humiliating songs, some of a sexual nature, and some about the Golani Brigade”.

and now it looks like we might have a sports boycott underway:

Israel’s leading female tennis player, Shahar Peer, was refused a visa for entry into the United Arab Emirates yesterday, as politics threatened the future of one of the world’s richest tennis tournaments.

The UAE does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and tournament organisers believe the decision to refuse entry to Peer was a reaction to the recent conflict in Gaza.

Last year, Peer became the first Israeli tennis player to take part in a tournament in an Arab country at an event in Doha, Qatar. “I really got a warm welcome from the tournament,” she said at the time. “When you go on the court you don’t think about politics. You just want to play your tennis.”

we need to see more of this sort of action, however, uae, if they really want to help, can also close down its lev leviev diamond store. and it would be nice to get qatar on board while we’re at it.

for those who need reminding on why bds is so necessary here is a rundown of what israeli terrorists did today in palestine:

At least 30 Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by Israeli troops during morning invasions, targeting towns and villages near the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, Palestinian sources reported.

Thirteen of those kidnapped were taken from al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah city. Witnesses reported that Israeli troops invaded the camp, searched homes and took 13 men away.

Meanwhile, nine civilians, among them two brothers, were kidnapped during similar home invasions the Israeli military carried out in al-Jalazon refugee camp, also located in Ramallah city. Local sources said there are 130 civilians from al-Jalazon refugee camp that are still locked up in Israeli detention.

Seven civilians were kidnapped during pre-dawn house to house searches the Israeli military carried out in the village of Abu Shikhadem, to the north of Ramallah city, local sources reported.

Another man was also kidnapped during Israeli invasions, targeting the town of Silwad, north east of Ramallah city.

The Israeli military kidnapped four Palestinian civilians during pre-dawn invasions, targeting the northern part of the West Bank on Monday.

Palestinian sources said that Israeli troops invaded the city of Jenin and searched a number of homes before taking two men to unknown locations.

Meanwhile in Nablus, Israeli troops searched two homes during a dawn invasion, kidnapped two young men and took them to a nearby military camp, local sources reported.

and on the mountain behind deheishe refugee camp in beit lahem, on the occupied land of the village of khader, israeli terrorists stole morel and today:

Israel has taken control of a large area near a prominent settlement in the Palestinian West Bank, paving the way for a possible construction of 2,500 settlement homes, officials have said.

Mayor Oded Revivi said on Monday that the Israeli military designated 425 acres near Efrat, a settlement of about 1,600 families south of Jerusalem, as so-called
state land two weeks ago.

Revivi said Efrat plans to build 2,500 homes on that land, but government approval would still be needed before construction begins, a process that could take years.

Eventually, Efrat is to grow to a city of 30,000 people, he said.

The settlement is situated in one of three settlement blocs Israel expects to hold on to in any final peace deal.

Revivi said nine appeals, eight of which were rejected and one was upheld, had been filed by Palestinian landowners.

and in gaza palestinians are still suffering from the wounds of white phosphorous as hoda abdel hamid reports on al jazeera:

but palestinians are moving forward with their plans to pursue war crimes in an international court as well, though there are a number of obstacles they still have to confront:

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The Palestinian foreign minister urged the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor on Friday to start an investigation into whether Israel committed war crimes during its offensive in Gaza.

Riyad al-Maliki told reporters after meeting Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that he was confident the court would act after evaluating the Palestinian Authority’s petition.

“Today we have come to deliver to the prosecutor a set of documents that show that Palestine as a state has the validity to represent its case to the court,” Maliki said.

“We’ve come to ask for justice and to ask for an investigation into the crimes committed by the Israelis and Israeli army in Gaza recently,” he said. “We expect the prosecution to take actions.”

The Israeli army waged a three-week war in Gaza against Hamas militants at the turn of the year, but Israeli officials deny accusations of war crimes arising from the fighting.

Last week Moreno-Ocampo’s office said it had started a “preliminary analysis” to establish whether Israel committed war crimes, after receiving 210 communications from individuals and non-governmental organizations regarding events in Gaza.

The prosecutor has said that the preliminary analysis does not necessarily mean an investigation will be opened.

The ICC can investigate alleged war crimes in the territory of a state party, if the U.N. Security Council — where the United States has veto power — refers a situation to the court or if a non-state party voluntarily accepts the jurisdiction of the court.

Israel and the United States are not among the 108 countries that have signed the Rome Statute creating the court, but that would not prevent the ICC from launching an investigation.

The Palestinian Authority has recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC, in a move designed to allow investigations of alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories.

the bomb & the ballot & the boycott

arab-cartoon-israeli-election-campaign

my friend omar sent out an email with his assessment of the israeli elections yesterday. i think it is quite smart and apt. he lays out the reality of the situation in spite of the media–even al jazeera–using ridiculous words like “hardline” or “ultra nationalist” or “center” to describe the extreme racist and fascist political parties, all of which participate in their colonial terrorist project in palestine. as’ad has this to say about the american media rhetoric about israeli elections:

It is quite hilarious to watch American media references to the Israeli elections and the competing parties. So if a fascist party is competing with an ultra-fascist party, they make the fascist party “a centrist” or “moderate”. The beyond-fascist party of Lieberman is described merely as “right-wing” in the New York Times. Do people know that the the party of Lieberman is more popular in Israel than the the Labor party–not that the Labor party does not share the same racism and terrorist ideology that penetrate deep into the various parties of Zionism. But Kadima (which is described as “centrist” in Wikipedia) and Likud both are descendants of revisionist Zionism and the ideas of Vladimir Jabotinsky who believed that a nation is defined by its “racial recipe”. But note how US media struggle to beautify the ugliness of Israeli politics (and wars).

and here is what omar says:

According to the almost official results of the Israeli elections, reproduced below, the fanatic-to-fascist right was the biggest winner in Israel. A proper death certificate for the Israeli Zionist “left” should finally be issued — 61 years late!

Here is a breakdown of the results for all Israeli parties, categorized into groups according to their respective positions towards international law and basic human rights. Only these universal criteria should be used in Israel and anywhere else to decide who is right, who is left and who is ultra right, etc. The common Israeli designations of “left,” “right” and “center” to describe Labor, Likud and Kadima, respectively, are completely inaccurate and intentionally misleading, as they steer away from any objective criteria in distinguishing left from right. Still, unfortunately, these meaningless Israeli labels are parroted, verbatim, by commentators, even progressive ones, without any reflection on their accuracy or relevance.

By any objective standard, the election results must reveal the following accurate categories:

Ultra Right: (parties that openly adopt racist or fascist platforms calling for forcible displacement, or ethnic cleansing, of the indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, based on diverse conditions that depend on the specific party in question; justify and/or commit war crimes and grave violations of international law; reject UN resolutions and international law as THE basis for a just peace; reject all three basic Palestinian rights enshrined in international law: (1) FULLY ending the occupation and withdrawing to the 1967 borders, as per UNSC Res. 242, including withdrawal from occupied east Jerusalem; (2) the UN-sanctioned rights of the refugees to reparations and return to their homes of origin; and (3) the right to full equality inside Israel and ending institutional racism against all “non-Jewish” citizens of the state):

Yisrael Beitenu: 15 Knesset seats
National Union: 4
Shas: 11
Jewish Home: 3
Likud: 27
Kadima: 28
—————————
TOTAL (Ultra right): 88 seats (73% of the total seats in the Knesset or 80% of Jewish seats in the Knesset)

Right: (parties that conform to the Ultra-Right principles above with the exception of calling openly for ethnic cleansing as a political platform. There are exceptions, of course, whereby several key Labor leaders have occasionally called for ethnic cleansing, but it was not translated into part of their program or a consistent policy, unlike the parties of the Ultra-Right above)

Labor: 13
United Torah Judaism: 5
Meretz: 3
—————————-
TOTAL (Right): 21 seats (16% of total or 19% of Jewish seats)

Center: (parties that support a FULL withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territory, but oppose equality for all the citizens of the state and the right of return. It may be generous to call them center, but …)

NONE

Left: (parties that support a FULL withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territory, equality for all the citizens of the state, and the right of return. These parties are committed to a two-state peaceful solution based on international law and universal human rights principles)

United Arab List: 4 (an entirely Palestinian party — politically on the left, but socially on the right)
Hadash (communists): 4 (note that less than 1% of Israeli-Jews voted for it, so it can statistically be regarded as a Palestinian party)
Balad (national democrats): 3 (entirely Palestinian)
—————————–
TOTAL (Left): 11 seats (9% of total)

It is very important to note that, from initial news reports, it seems that half the Palestinian public in Israel BOYCOTTED the elections, the widest such boycott in history. This means that all the above Palestinian parties represent less than half of the Palestinian voters in Israel!

Main conclusions:

(1) The Israeli Jewish public has voted predominantly for the ultra right (including a huge increase in support for the fascist right)

(2) The Israeli Jewish (Zionist) left does not exist (as predicted) as a political force in Israel

(3) The ONLY left parties in Israel are entirely Palestinian

(4) There is a Jewish consensus in Israel (with the exception of a few brave, principled individuals and tiny anti-Zionist groups) AGAINST all the basic requirements for a just peace as laid out in UN resolutions and supported by most world governments

(5) For the first time in the history of Knesset elections, it is reported that Palestinian voters have shunned Zionist parties to an unprecedented level, opting for Palestinian parties instead.

What’s to be done?

A paradigm shift from the defunct, immoral, and now impossible, two-state solution to the democratic, single state solution is NOW called for more than ever. Only by rejecting all forms of racism, apartheid, ethnocentrism, religious fundamentalism and colonialism, and by embracing FULL equality and democracy, including the right of return of the refugees, can we create a just and sustainable peace.

The call for a two-state solution has truly become a smokescreen to cover up and legitimize continued occupation, colonization and Zionist apartheid.

all i have to say to that is: word!

to see what an israeli thinks of the mainstreaming of israeli racism and fascism you should read gideon levy’s take on the election (though he write this a couple of days ago):

Now the instigator of the new Israeli racism will apparently become the leader of a large party once again in the government. Benjamin Netanyahu has already pledged that Lieberman will be an “important minister” in his government. If someone like Lieberman were to join a government in Europe, Israel would sever ties with it. If anyone had predicted in Kahane’s day that a pledge to turn his successor into an important minister would one day be considered an electoral asset here, they would have been told they were having a nightmare.

But the nightmare is here and now. Kahane is alive and kicking – is he ever – in the person of his thuggish successor. This is not just a matter of disqualifying Yisrael Beiteinu; it is not even a matter of this party’s growing strength to terrifying proportions, becoming the fulcrum that will decide who becomes prime minister. This is a matter of legitimization. All society bears responsibility for it.

Kahane was ostracized; Lieberman is a welcome guest in every living room and television studio. Imagine: Ehud Barak does not rule out a coalition with him; Uzi Landau, considered a “democrat,” is now Lieberman’s number two; a former senior ambassador and a retired police major general also adorn the list. Did we know that Israel was being represented in Washington by an avowed racist in the person of Daniel Ayalon? Did we know that former Border Police chief and deputy police commissioner Yitzhak Aharonovich was one, too? They have come out of the closet, these racists, breaking out of the heart of the establishment to the despicable right, and the attitude toward them has not changed a bit.

Lieberman and his soldiers are borne on the tides of hatred for Arabs, hatred of democracy and the rule of law, and the stink of nationalism, racism and bloodthirstiness. These have turned, horrifically, into the hottest electoral assets on the market. Like all others of his political ilk, he cynically fans these base urges, particularly among the weaker classes, the rejected, the poor and the immigrants. But not just there. Many young people, among them brainwashed soldiers, will give him their vote, and no one ostracizes them. He chose an easy, relatively weak target, Israel’s Arabs, and sets his supporters on them. But his doctrine has seeped in much deeper than that.

Lieberman is the voice of the mob, and the mob craves hatred, vengeance and bloodshed. A useless war in which hundreds of children were killed was received here sympathetically, if not happily. The parties from the right and center have tried to disqualify the Arab parties; these lists are also excluded ahead of time in every political calculation. And Arab students cannot rent an apartment.

of course the united states jumps at the chance to work with “any government” formed in the zionist entity regardless of whether it is racist or fascist. in europe, people are not so sure and are alarmed at the rise of the right wing and fascism in the zionist terrorist state. perhaps they remember what colonialism and fascism breed as this is a european invention. but barack obama and his administration will work with such people. and as intelligent as he is, he dodged a very pointed question from helen thomas yesterday at a press conference about the only country in the region to house nuclear weapons:

of course, we know from mordechai vanunu and others that it is israel that harbors nuclear weapons. and grant smith explains that obama’s evasion and refusal to deal with thomas’ question enables u.s. to violate its own laws:

Fortunately, Americans don’t need Barack Obama to “speculate” on what former President Jimmy Carter already confirmed on May 25, 2008: Israel possesses an arsenal of at least 150 nuclear weapons. Why does Obama trot out the discredited policy of “strategic ambiguity” – in which Israeli and U.S. officials officially refuse to confirm or deny the existence Israeli nuclear weapons – at this early moment? For one reason alone: to break the law. The 1976 Symington Amendment prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards. Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). If U.S. presidents complied with the Symington Amendment, they would not deliver yearly aid packages to Israel totaling billions of dollars. Presidents make-believe that Israeli nuclear weapons don’t exist so Congress can legally continue shoveling the lion’s share of the U.S. foreign aid budget to Israel. But this thin pretense is now over. Since Carter’s revelation, press outlets such as Reuters chat openly about how Israeli’s nukes mean that it does not qualify for U.S. aid. But like Harry Markopolos incessantly nagging the SEC about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, fourth-estate and nuclear-activist calls for compliance continue to be rebuffed by government agencies. Denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about Israeli nukes has always been an integral tactic in preserving this hoary old ruse.

john pilger knows who the real terrorists are and is clear on what obama’s evasions and silences will mean for the region:

What the childish fawning over Obama obscures is the dark power assembled under cover of America’s first “post-racial president”. Apart from the US, the world’s most dangerous state is demonstrably Israel, having recently killed and maimed some 4,000 people in Gaza with impunity. On 10 February, a bellicose Israeli electorate is likely to put Binyamin Netanyahu into power. Netanyahu is a fanatic’s fanatic who has made clear his intention of attacking Iran. In the Wall Street Journal on 24 January, he described Iran as the “terrorist mother base” and justified the murder of civilians in Gaza because “Israel cannot accept an Iranian terror base (Gaza) next to its major cities”. On 31 January, unaware he was being filmed, Israel’s ambassador in Australia described the massacres in Gaza as a “pre-introduction” – dress rehearsal – for an attack on Iran.

For Netanyahu, the reassuring news is that Obama’s administration is the most Zionist in living memory – a truth that has struggled to be told from beneath the soggy layers of Obama-love. Not a single member of Obama’s team demurred from Obama’s support for Israel’s barbaric actions in Gaza. Obama himself likened the safety of his two young daughters with that of Israeli children while making not a single reference to the thousands of Palestinian children killed with American weapons – a violation of both international and US law. He did, however, demand that the people of Gaza be denied “smuggled” small arms with which to defend themselves against the world’s fourth largest military power. And he paid tribute to the Arab dictatorships, such as Egypt, which are bribed by the US Treasury to help the US and Israel enforce policies described by the United Nations Rapporteur, Richard Falk, a Jew, as “genocidal”.

It is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth. “In the time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

all of these israeli terrorist leaders who will be running the next colonial government there are war criminals–like all of their predecessors. but the difference now is that there is movement on prosecuting them at the hague as conn hallinan explains in his article “gaza: death laboratory”:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann would coordinate the defense of any soldier or commander charged with a war crime. In any case, the United States would veto any effort by the UN Security Council to refer Israelis to the International Court at The Hague.

But, as the Financial Times points out, “all countries have an obligation to search out those accused of ‘grave’ breaches of the rules of war and to put them on trial or extradite them to a country that will.”

That was the basis under which the British police arrested Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

“We’re in a seismic shift in international law,” Amnesty International legal advisor Christopher Hall told the Financial Times, who says Israel’s foreign ministry is already examining the risk to Israelis who travel abroad.

“It’s like walking across the street against a red light,” he says. “The risk may be low, but you’re going to think twice before committing a crime or traveling if you have committed one.”

the national lawyer’s guild recently returned to the u.s. from their fact-finding mission in gaza and have reported on their findings of israeli terrorist war crimes. here is another one of the many war crimes israeli terrorists committed in gaza as the extraordinary barbara lubin reports:

It’s not so far from from what you reported because the victims are the same…the story happened in Bourij Camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip. The Israelis called the woman Manal Albatran and told her that they wouldn’t kill her or her husband Hussein Albatran, instead they would make them die of sadness because they would kill her children. The next day they shot her house with a rocket killing her and 5 of her children.

The dead:

Manal Albatran 30 years old
Walaa Albatran 12 years old
Islam Albatran 11 years old
Belal Albatran 10 years old
Ezzeldin Albatran 8 years old
Ehsan Albatran 7 years old

The father who is an employee at an UNRWA school and the youngest child were saved.

i could go on and on for pages and pages documenting these war crimes. you can also hear an excellent report on flashpoints about the imminent war crimes trial facing israeli terrorist leaders. but the crimes continue through the trauma that plagues palestinians in gaza who still do not feel safe. i wonder if or when they ever will.

while we wait for these people to be served justice the boycott continues to grow every day:

in sweden a sports boycott seems to be emerging:

Between 6-8 March the Swedish national team in tennis will face off against Israel in Malmo, Sweden. We cannot accept this. We demand that the Swedish Tennis Federation act in accordance with the rules of the Swedish National Association of Sports concerning international sports competitions:

“Sports exchange in the form of competition or event shall not take place if a country which in sports-related issues is guilty of discrimination against anyone because of ethnic origins, gender, sexuality, handicap, religion or political commitment or if a country is the object for a binding UN-sanction.”

Through the ongoing occupation Israel is denying the Palestinian people the right to live in peace and to practice sports. Therefore we are demanding: no sports exchange with an occupation force – stop the war and boycott Israel!

We demand that the match shall be stopped. We don´t want Israel to play in the Davis Cup 6-8 mars in Malmö, Sweden.

in brussels it seems as if a cultural boycott needs to be in the works:

An exhibit titled “The White City Tel Aviv”, which was set to open in Brussels next week, has been postponed by the Belgian organizers in response to IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The hosts – the board of directors of the International Centre for Urbanism, Architecture and Landscape (CIVA) – informed the Tel Aviv Municipality three days ago of their decision to postpone the exhibit due to their belief that it would be “better appreciated at a different time.”

and mauritania closed its israeli embassy:

The head of Mauritania’s military junta says the West African country has closed its embassy in Israel.

Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz made the announcement late Tuesday.

in ireland trade unionists are launching a boycott campaign:

Trade unionists are to launch a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a major campaign to secure a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, Stormont heard today.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) launched a report on Israel and Palestine compiled by senior members who visited the troubled region.

and in new york adalah continues its protest against leviev diamonds:

Fifty-five New York rights advocates called today on the city’s shoppers to boycott Israeli diamond mogul and settlement-builder Lev Leviev. The pre-Valentine’s Day protest was the 13th demonstration held in front of Leviev’s Madison Avenue jewelry store since it opened in November, 2007. Many New York shoppers paused to look at the heart-shaped signs and a Dating Game skit featuring a protester playing Leviev, and to listen to the noisy chants and the song “Lev’s Diamonds are a Crime’s Best Friend.”

The protesters oppose Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law, as well as his abuses of marginalized communities in Angola, Namibia and New York. Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY explained, “The campaign to boycott Leviev is part of a growing international movement to boycott Israeli businesses due to their involvement in human rights abuses. We had more people protesting today and the boycott movement is growing worldwide due to outrage over Israel’s attack on Gaza, which killed approximately 1300 Palestinians, over 400 of whom were children.”

tis the season to boycott

bethlehem-cartoon-mary-joseph-israeli-soldiers

it is christmas again. or christmas eve anyway. a time when most americans over-consume, and over-eat. though it seems like many americans are not able to do the former as a result of the recession. and i think that is a good thing. americans who are more secular and christian, like my grandma, see it as a time to spend with family, eat lots of sweets(though if you are my grandma your diet consists almost entirely of chocolate year round), and give/receive gifts. americans who are more religious i imagine spend time in church and perhaps they read the bible (i don’t really know any such people so i’m assuming here…) but relatively few of either secular or religious american christians will spend any amount of time thinking about palestine, where jesus was born and whose birth they are supposedly celebrating tonight and tomorrow. certainly they may sing christmas carols that have allusions to palestine–such as that song with the line in “the little town of bethlehem”–but i imagine few will think about where bethlehem is and what is happening in bethlehem today to the christians and muslims who live there. here is one example of what is happening now in bethlehem–exile, house demolitions, an illegal apartheid wall, illegal and increasing israeli settlements, as nour odeh reports on al jazeera:

mazin qumisiyeh also describes this process of ethnic cleansing by illegal settlements in bethlehem:

When I look out the balcony of the faculty lounge at Bethlehem University, I hear the constant hammering of the construction in the settlement that separates us from Jerusalem and I see Israeli settlements built on Palestinian lands surrounding Bethlehem on three sides. Every two weeks, Jewish settlers “visit” the hill on the fourth side (called Ush Ghrab) that they have set their eyes on. Yet, I hear the U.S. media is focused on other things, including the weighty matter of dodging shoes.

me & divy in front of the entrance to bethlehem
me & divy in front of the entrance to bethlehem

likewise the apartheid wall that is choking bethlehem is another form of forcing exile on palestinians as the economy is deeply affected by this. the system of the apartheid wall and its corollary checkpoints are also forcing palestinians to leave palestine:

Bethlehem has also been badly affected by Israel’s separation barrier causing widespread economic hardship among both Muslims and Christians. Yusuf Nassir 57, is looking for a way to emigrate. “The problem is that we are a minority and minorities always suffer in times like these. My house was attacked [by Muslims] over nothing. There was a dispute between a Muslim and a Christian boy, this turned into a communal fight and then around 70 men turned on us. My sister got injured. She said to me ‘you must leave for the safety of your family’, but finding the money is not easy,” he says. “I have also had Israeli soldiers fire at me, once when I was driving a car. The bullet missed me by about 25 centimeters.

“But it is the wall which has destroyed my business. I now owe $120,000 in back rent. I have had to sack staff, and other businesses around here have had to do the same. This just adds to the unemployment and social problems here.”

this excerpt above from england’s independent newspaper gives a far more accurate picture of the economic conditions facing palestinians everywhere, including bethlehem. while tourists may be coming to see the church of the nativity, most of these tours are organized by israeli companies and the tourists are shuttled in and out of bethelehm so fast they don’t have enough time to shop or even eat a felafel sandwich (which is a shame because afteem felafel sandwhich shop across from the church is one of the best places for felafel in the world). not surprisingly, though, the ever clueless new york times published a piece yesterday talking about the economy improving here:

It might seem obvious that in the days leading up to Christmas this city, which lives in the hearts of Christians worldwide, would become a tourist magnet. But only six years ago the Church of the Nativity was the site of a five-week standoff between Israeli troops and armed Palestinian militants. Even today, to get into Bethlehem requires passing through an Israeli checkpoint under the shadow of the enormous Israeli separation wall.

Yet there are more tourists in Bethlehem this year than at any time in a decade, and their presence signals something beyond the Christmas spirit: life for West Bank Palestinians, oppressive and challenging though it remains, seems to be making substantial, if fragile, improvement.

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials report economic growth for the occupied areas of 4 to 5 percent and a drop in the unemployment rate of at least three percentage points. The Israelis report that in 2008 wages here are up more than 20 percent and trade by 35 percent. The improved climate has nearly doubled the number of tourists in Bethlehem and increased them by half in Jericho.

It is not just tourists. The Bethlehem Small Enterprise Center, financed with German aid, has been open for eight months and busy, helping printers improve their software and olivewood craftsmen their marketing.

“It has been the best year since 1999,” noted Victor Batarseh, mayor of Bethlehem. “Our hotels are full whereas three years ago there was almost nobody. Unemployment is below 20 percent. But we are still under occupation.”

And all this in a year when the global economy has been sinking at an alarming rate.

if an american journalist can’t get it right i expect even less from the average christian american (though to be fair this is ethan bronner and his reports can be largely characterized by how out of touch he is with reality on the ground). i imagine relatively few american christians will also spend the next twenty-four hours thinking about the road from nazareth to bethlehem as bbc journalist aleem maqbool recently did. he traveled on foot and donkey from nazareth to bethlehem and wrote and filmed his experiences, which you can see on the bbc website. but he ran into some troubles that i don’t think jesus ever encountered:

After a wait at the checkpoint, I was happy to be told that I would be allowed to pass. However, the Israeli authorities informed us that our donkey did not have the correct paperwork. Donkey number two would have to be left behind.

I would like to think her stubborn resistance to getting into the animal trailer was because she wanted to stay with me. However, I have a feeling it was more the prospect of a bumpy ride home.

For those Palestinian farmers in the West Bank who have land on the “wrong side” of the barrier (in many places it runs well inside West Bank, leaving Palestinian land outside), such bureaucracy can really impact on working life. Many farmers have given up tending their land in these circumstances.

Two donkeys down, I crossed into the West Bank alone.

The Israeli government says the barrier, and the checkpoints, are necessary for the security of its citizens – to keep potential Palestinian bombers out. It is one of the main reasons given for the massive decrease in the number of suicide bombings in Israel.

But the Israeli army has also arrested and killed hundreds of people it suspects of militancy, in regular raids on West Bank towns and cities.

bethlehem

and here is what we can imagine evangelical zionist christians to be doing today and tomorrow–totally ignoring history and even their own religious books in order to facilitate the zionist regime’s redrawing the map:

For the first time this year, yuletide celebrations in Christ’s birthplace will be streamed live on the internet – and if you’re busy feasting on turkey or watching the Queen’s speech you can revisit the scene a couple of days later when it is repeated.

The online broadcaster IPrayTV.com, which says it wants to strengthen Christian ties with “Israel and the Holy Sites”, has mounted a permanent camera in the Franciscan section of the Church of the Nativity.

The broadcaster, founded by a pro-Israeli evangelical, has also placed a camera overlooking Manger Square in the centre of the Palestinian town.

apparently to these christians bethlehem is in israel now (see map above). it’s not, of course, though the illegal settlements strangling the city are trying to make it become one (as seen in the video from al jazeera posted above). i wonder if these same christians think that it is “christian” (whatever that means) to behave in the murderous way the zionist state behaves every day. as some of these people are fond of saying: what would jesus do? what would he do, for instance, if he were to know that the people in gaza had to shut their bakeries down again once more?:

Bakeries’ owners in Gaza announced today they have shut down doors before residents due to their inability to get cooking gas and wheat to make bread.

Abdelnaser aL-Ajrami, head of the bakeries society in Gaza, stated to media outlets that more than 27 bakeries out of a total of 47 in Gaza city, have been shut down completely due to lack of cooking gas and wheat, as Israel closes commercial border crossings for almost two months now.

” the current crisis is increasingly becoming crippled as there are only 400 tons of wheat left at Gaza’s seven windmills”, he explained.

aL-Ajrami made clear that the said quantities will be distributed at the bakeries for the next four days, maintaining that there have been relentless efforts to ensure the needed cooking gas.

Last month , Israel imposed a restrictive closure on Gaza’s commercial crossings following a series of Israeli army attacks on Gaza Strip. Gaza-based resistance factions responded with homemade shells fire.

According to petroleum officials in Gaza, Gaza’s 1.5 million residents need at least 350 tons of cooking gas on daily basis.

i’d like to think that jesus would find a way to resist this inhuman behavior by calling for a boycott of the zionist regime. for if jesus were still alive he’d be either living behind that apartheid wall or living as a third-class citizen in 1948 palestine. either way i don’t think he would be silent about what the zionists have done and do. the most recent update on a company on the boycott list is l’oreal cosmetics:

In this holiday season, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, BNC*, calls upon people of conscience all over the world to boycott all the products of the French cosmetics giant, L’Oreal**, due to its deep and extensive involvement in business relations with Israel, despite the latter’s continued occupation and apartheid policies against the indigenous Palestinian people.

L’Oreal’s operations in Israel began in the mid-1990s, motivated in part by political considerations. Since then, L’Oreal Israel, the company’s subsidiary in Israel, has operated a factory in the Israeli town of Migdal Ha’emek in the Lower Galilee. The settlement of Migdal Ha’emek was established in 1952 on lands belonging to the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of al-Mujaydil, whose original inhabitants are still denied the right to return to their homes. Like almost all other Jewish settlements built in the midst of Palestinian villages in the Galilee, inside Israel, Migdal Ha’emek discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, denying them the right to buy, rent or live on any part of the town, simply because they are “non Jews.”

L’Oreal Israel manufacturers a line of products using Dead Sea minerals under the name “Natural Sea Beauty” that is exported to 22 countries. It should be noted that one third of the western shore of the Dead Sea lies in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. While the entire shore and its resources are systematically closed to Palestinians by Israeli military occupation and apartheid practices, Israel exploits the Dead Sea for international tourism, mining, and improving its image.

L’Oreal’s activities in Israel are not, however, limited to L’Oreal Israel. While Palestinian academics and students in the occupied territories and Israel are systematically impeded by Israeli occupation roadblocks and other oppressive measures from conducting normal academic life and research, L’Oreal awarded a $100,000 “lifetime achievement” award to a scientist at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science in July 2008. The Weizmann Institute, since its establishment, has been a major center for clandestine research and development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on behalf of Israel’s military establishment with which it has close ties. It is, therefore, one of many academic institutions in Israel that are in collusion with the state’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights, and which are targeted for academic boycott by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

The chairman of L’Oreal Israel is Gad Propper who is the founding chairman of the Israel-EU Chamber of Commerce, and has also been heavily involved in promoting trade between Israel and Australia and New Zealand. The French government has recognized the important role that L’Oreal’s Israeli operations play in the company’s global business by awarding Propper France’s highest civilian honor, the Legion d’honneur earlier this month. “The award was in recognition of Propper’s contribution to the global success story” of L’Oreal, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

In 1994, L’Oreal bought a 30 percent stake in Propper’s company Interbeauty, from which L’Oreal Israel was created. Since then Israel has become L’Oreal’s commercial center for the entire Middle East.

POLITICAL MOTIVATIONS FOR L’OREAL’S ISRAEL INVESTMENTS

In 1995, L’Oreal agreed to pay $1.4 million to the US government to settle charges that it had cooperated with the Arab League’s official boycott of Israel. The company was accused of providing information in the 1980s about its US subsidiaries’ ties to Israel, to the now effectively inactive official Boycott Office of the Arab League. The company denied that it had broken US laws designed to prevent American firms from cooperating with the official Arab boycott of Israel, but mounted a campaign to placate Zionist critics by emphasizing its desire to invest in Israel.

Following the settlement, then chairman of L’Oreal, Lindsay Owen-Jones, apologized for the company’s actions in a letter to the US-based pro-Israel lobby group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

According to the ADL, Owen-Jones thanked the pro-Israel group “for its support of L’Oreal’s business and community service activities in Israel,” and assured the ADL that “The forward-looking approach that you have taken is an encouragement to L’Oreal and other companies that are already involved in Israel to expand their involvements till further.”

One of L’Oreal’s most well-known global brands, The Body Shop, boasts that one of its core values is “We’ve never been afraid to champion the vulnerable and the disadvantaged, and we continue to campaign for social justice and human rights.” Yet its parent company’s deep politically-motivated and profit-driven involvement with Israeli apartheid indicates, if anything, a flagrant disregard for the human rights of Palestinians and a disservice to justice and peace.

Business-as-usual should not continue with a state that has not only practiced apartheid and colonial rule against an indigenous population for decades, but is also, today, committing grave and persistent war crimes described as “a prelude to genocide” by Richard Falk, a prominent Princeton international law professor and UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT.

Under these circumstances L’Oreal’s vast investment in Israel amounts to complicity in severe abuse of human rights, to say the least; it should be stopped at once.

al mujaydil, the palestinian land that l’oreal occupies, is in the district of nazareth, the district where jesus came from. yet another reason i suspect jesus would boycott this company (and all others supporting the zionist regime).

there are many other american and european companies to boycott, of course, many of which i’ve written about here. and there are links in the side bar to learn more about that. but given that it is christmas i thought it would be nice to end with boycott christmas carols, from adalah new york, against the israeli diamond billionaire who builds illegal settlements in the west bank and who recently opened a shop in dubai. this is a little more of the sort of christmas spirit that i can get into…

diamonds are not this girl’s best friend

africa-diamonds-mapI don’t like diamonds. Or gem stones of any sort. I am reminded of this every day whenever I glance at my hand and see a diamond ring. I wear this only because it was my mother’s wedding ring and seeing it on my hand reminds me of when these rings were on her hand. Although I don’t need a visible reminder of her by way this ring or a photograph, it comforts me to think of her and to see her hand in/on mine when I wear this ring even as I wish there were no diamonds on it. It’s not just what they represent politically. I also don’t like ostentatious displays of wealth more generally. It always reminds me of what that money spent on a fancy car, outfit, house could otherwise be spent on: who could it have fed? How many others could it have housed?

The issue of diamonds–as well as so many other natural resources–is deeply connected to ongoing war and neocolonialism in places like Africa. If you connect the dots you can visibly see the relationship between diamonds (the theft of African natural resources), wars and conflicts in Africa, neocolonial control in the form of globalization, colonialism in Palestine, and the desperate need for a real boycott movement to work together in solidarity across these issues. For instance, in the past couple of weeks the Friends of the Congo and Adalah New York have worked to raise awareness and protest two seemingly separate issues: the war in the Congo and diamond trafficker/Israeli illegal settlement builder Lev Leviev. But in reality they are deeply connected and should be if a larger human rights, progressive, anti-racist movement is to be built.

The issue with Lev Leviev is three fold: his trafficking in blood diamonds, his continual financing of illegal settlements in Palestine, and his opening of a store in Dubai in spite of the fact that it is illegal for an Israeli business to function in the United Arab Emirates:

Adalah-NY has learned that the jewelry of Israeli billionaire and settlement-builder Lev Leviev will be on sale at this week’s gala opening of the luxury hotel Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Despite Leviev’s on-going construction of Israeli settlements and claims by United Arab Emirates officials that Leviev would receive no license to sell his jewelry there, the New York-based human rights coalition Adalah-NY has confirmed that Leviev’s jewelry will be on sale at the Atlantis branch of the Levant Jewelry chain on the fabled Palm Jumeirah island.

Adalah-NY has also heard from a Dubai source that Leviev will attend the grand opening events in person, but the group has been unable to corroborate this report. A press release on the Atlantis web site claims that the opening gala, set for November 20-21st, “will culminate in a giant fireworks display,” and that guests will include “prominent CEO’s, business leaders, politicians, actors and musicians and members of the Dubai Royal family.”

Adalah-NY has obtained photos of Leviev jewelry prominently displayed in the windows of the Levant store at the Atlantis, with Leviev’s name and logo prominently printed on display cases. Leviev’s jewelry and logo are featured at the Levant store at the Al Qasr Hotel. Leviev notes Dubai as a store location on the front of his Madison Avenue boutique in New York, and in recent Leviev ads in the New York Times.

Prior to an advocacy campaign by Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, Leviev had announced plans to open in Dubai two Leviev stores and sell his products in a third store in partnership with his local partner, Arif Ben-Khadra, who is of Palestinian-Moroccan origin. Subsequently, in an April 30 article in Dubai’s Gulf News, Ali Ebrahim, Deputy Director General for Executive Affairs in Dubai, said Leviev would not be able to do business in Dubai. “We are aware of these reports and have not granted a trade licence to any business of this name. If such an application does come to us we will deal with it accordingly,” said Ebrahim. Further, Ebrahim told the paper that Israeli citizens were not allowed to do business in Dubai, and that “precautionary measures” made sure of that. Ebrahim further implied Leviev would not be able to do business through a localpartner. “There are no loopholes,” he said. “We check backgrounds of businesses that apply.”

Leviev built his enormous fortune trading diamonds with Apartheid-era South Africa. His company mines diamonds in partnership with the repressive Angolan government. New York Magazine reported in 2007 that in Angola, “A security company contracted by Leviev was accused… of participating in practices of ‘humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.’” Also, according to the diamond industry watchdog Partnership Africa Canada, Angola and Leviev have failed to fully comply with the Kimberley Process.

In the West Bank, Leviev’s companies build Israeli-only settlements such as Ma’aleh Adumim, Mattityahu East and Zufim on stolen Palestinian land. According to Stop the Wall, Leviev is currently expanding Zufim settlement by 45 housing units on land owned by the village of Jayyous (see photo). Jayyous continues to hold non-violent protests against the confiscation of their land. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. UNICEF and Oxfam have both rejected support from Leviev due to his human rights violations, and the British government is under pressure to pull put of a deal to rent their new Tel Aviv Embassy from him.

Daniel Lang/Levitsky of Adalah-NY stated that “Dubai claimed that it has closed all the loopholes, but we have seen that to be glaringly false. Leviev jewelry will be prominently displayed and sold at a major hotel in Dubai. By allowing such a blatant contravention of its own laws, Dubai has made a mockery of its promise to boycott Leviev. The villagers of Jayyous and Bil’in, on whose stolen land Leviev’s settlements sit, will be saddened and outraged, as will be human rights advocates worldwide.”

The issue with the Congo is multiple though the campaign last month focused on the lack of media coverage and the war over Coltan, yet another natural Congolese resource that various western corporations exploit, which has in turn fomented this war:

The Congo is the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today where nearly 6 million people have died since 1996, half of them children 5 yrs old or younger and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped all as a result of the scramble for Congo’s wealth. The United Nations said it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two. However, hardly anything is said about it in the media. Can you imagine 45,000 people dying each month and hardly a peep from anyone in the age of the Internet? This is literally what has happened and continue to happen in the Congo. There is a media white-out about Congo and no worldwide resolution to end the conflict and carnage there.

There is a very exciting development among students throughout the globe. In October 2008, students from the US, Canada, England, Belgium, Germany, France, Brazil, Jamaica, Norway, Korea, Ghana, Mali, South Africa, Columbia, etc. etc will organize events (films, lectures, demonstrations, and more) on their respective campuses dealing with the Congo situation. We are calling it “Break the Silence” Congo Week where at least 100 countries and 1,000 university campuses will participate in a week of activities in solidarity with the students of the Congo.

The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise awareness about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on behalf of the people of the Congo.

The Cell OUT is an organized cell phone usage boycott from 12pm – 6pm on October 22nd to bring awareness of the Congo conflict over the natural resources. Coltan, used in many electronic devices has caused many Congolese people to be killed since 1996.

Why?

– Nearly 6 million people have died in the Congo since 1996 due to a scramble for Congo’s spectacular natural resources.

– Coltan is a key source of the conflict in the Congo. It is a mineral widely used in numerous electronic devices such as cell phones and game consoles (Microsoft X-Box and Sony Play Station) and is mined illegally in the Congo by rebel militia and foreign forces then sold to multinational corporations.

– The boycott is to bring awareness to the war in the Congo, which started in 1996 and continues to this day with 45,000 people dying each month till today. We would like to invite organizations on college campuses and in the community to support us in our endeavor to raise awareness about the atrocities taking place in the Congo.

The video below “Welcome to the Congo” by spoken word poet/hip hop artist Omekongo Dibinga shows that it is not just Coltan, however. It is diamonds, gold, and other natural resources that have led to this ongoing war and to the corporate media’s silence on the subject:

While all of these mineral resources and the continual raping of Africa by the West is a crime against humanity, I want to focus on diamonds here because I see the potential in a global solidarity/boycott campaign by linking the Zionist state and its complicity with the war, rape, and pillage that is ongoing in the Congo and bleeds into other parts of Africa as well. Here are some of those links between the Zionist state, it’s partner-in-crime the U.S., and their thirst for diamonds as it is connected to war in the Congo, Angola, and the region:

Artisanal diamond miners in Angola called artisanos or garimpeiros are forced into ‘illegal’ mining because Angola’s mining security companies push people off their own land. While agriculture and commerce in the region require the direct authorization of the Provincial Governor, not one artisano has been granted a license for diamond exploration or subsistence agriculture. The ‘legitimate’ government of Angola forces desperate people to resort to ‘illegal’ activities to survive but according to Rafael Marques, garimpeiros contribute more to the profits of some of the state diamond mining firms than big industrial operations.

Three private military companies (PMCs) have been targeting garimpeiros in Angola. The mercenary firms Alfa-5, Teleservices, and K&P Mineira defend Angola’s big name diamond firms like Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro (Sodiam), Sociedade Mineira de Cuango, and Sociedade Mineira Luminas. Human rights researcher Rafael Marques has recently documented more than 50 cases of PMCs arresting, beating and torturing garimpeiros. They stop garimpeiros from fishing in their rivers, growing their own food, or living traditional lives; they have forced sexual relations on family members, including same-sex rape and sodomy.

The PMCs operate behind Angola’s public diamond company, Endiama, and have exclusive rights to Angola’s diamonds. Endiama owns 99% of shares in Sodiam, which has a joint venture with Lazare Kaplan International (LKI) of the Israeli-American Maurice Tempelsman family.

Sodiam works with the Russo-Israeli Lev Leviev Group. Endiama owns part of Alfa-5, one of the PMCs that exploit and torture garimpeiros. Alfa-5 and K&P Mineira provide security for ASCORP—the Angola Selling Corporation—another Angolan monopoly.

One of ASCORP’s controlling investors, Lev Leviev, runs a global commercial empire that includes: Leviev Group of Companies; Lev Leviev Diamonds; Africa-Israel (commercial real estate in Prague and London); Gottex (swimwear) Company; 1,700 Fina gas stations in the Southwest U.S.; 173 7-Elevens in New Mexico and Texas; a 33% stake in Cross Israel Highway (Israel’s first toll road); and more. Leviev partner Arcady Gaydamak, an arms dealer, also reportedly works with Danny Yatom, a former MOSSAD (Israeli secret service) chief and security advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Leviev is connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to Sandline International, a U.K./South African mercenary firm operating in the war-torn areas of Eastern Congo and Uganda.

While participants in the Kimberley Process complained of the criminality of UNITA, the infamous rebels once supported by the CIA, but they gave the “legitimate” Dos Santos government a sparkling bill of health. Angola exemplifies the process whereby an international certification scheme enforced by the United Nations rubber stamps boxes of rough stones according to their ‘country of origin.’ Stamped ‘Angola’ the public is assured that these diamonds are now ‘conflict free,’ because these nations are members of the Kimberley certification.

The Kimberley Process was partially instituted through the work of Robert Rotberg at Harvard University. Maurice Tempelsman chairs the International Advisory Council at the Harvard AIDS Institute (HAI) of the School of Public Health. Rotberg and Tempelsman shared a panel at the Council on Foreign Relations with people like Walter Kansteiner, National Security under Bill Clinton and current director of a gold company involved in Congo’s bloody eastern zone.

Maurice Tempelsman was for decades the unofficial ambassador to Congo/Zaire; Dan Gertler has usurped that role. In 2000 Gertler was named Honorary Consul to the Congo. Beny Steinmetz may be the biggest De Beers “sightholder”. Africa Confidential called President Kabila’s 2003 visit to the Bush White House a “coup” for Gertler and Steinmetz. Gertler’s best friend is Brooklyn-born Chaim Leibowitz, a personal friend of Condoleeza Rice.

Tempelsman and Steinmetz bought diamonds from both sides during Angola’s thirty-year war. Israeli diamond tycoons Gertler and Leviev are reportedly jockeying for power with Isabel Dos Santos, the high-rolling diamond-studded daughter of the President of Angola.

The Israel Diamond Exchange in Tel Aviv, which today brings Israel $13 billion annually in commerce, and is the country’s second-largest industry. Israel buys some 50% of the world’s rough diamonds, and the U.S. buys two-thirds of these.


Diamonds are Israel’s top export.
In 2005 figures, exports to the EU totaled $10.7 billion in 2004, including $2.5 billion in diamonds (23.3%); exports to the US totaled $14.2 billion in 2004, including $7.3 billion in diamonds (51.4%); exports to Asia totaled $7.1 billion in 2004, including $3.2 billion in diamonds (45.0%); exports to the rest of the world totaled $6.6 billion in 2004, including $800 million in diamonds (12.1%).

Dan Gertler’s grandfather, Moshe Schnitzer, is known in Israel as “Mr. Diamond,” founder of the Israel Diamond Exchange in Tel Aviv. Moshe Schnitzer’s son and Dan Gertler’s uncle is Shmuel Schnitzer, Vice-Chairman of the Belgian-based World Diamond Council—the entity that promotes the false image of “clean” or “conflict-free” diamonds.

In June 2002, as the Kimberley Process was unfolding, Daniel Horowitz, CEO of IDH Diamonds, gave a speech at the 3rd World Diamond Conference titled “Rough Diamonds in a Brave New World.” IDH works with Endiama, BHP-Billiton and De Beers, another of the big diamond cartels.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it would be irresponsible to circumvent the fact that it is highly problematic, if not unfeasible, to work out a system in order to control the flow of rough diamonds around the world,” Horowitz said. “The reality is that once diamonds are mined there is almost nothing one can do in order to prevent them from reaching the market. No certification scheme can truly be reliable, not only because war-torn areas are by definition disorganized, but mainly because it is intrinsically impossible to distinguish between good and bad diamonds. Misguiding traders and consumers with untrustworthy guarantees would inevitably be demystified over time. As opposed to this, it is critical to publicize that the mainstream diamond trade is legitimate. It needs to be said again and again that conflict diamonds are an irrelevant portion of world production. And as far as humanitarian issues are concerned, the added value the industry generates worldwide particularly benefits the developing world.”

Angola remains a war-torn country selling billions of dollars worth of diamonds annually. In the past four years the government of Angola has waged a permanent war against poor people, destroying thousands of homes and taking the land in mass forced evictions. People were beaten, tortured and arbitrarily arrested. At least 1000 people die in eastern Congo every day.

Millions of blood diamonds from past and current wars remain locked in the vaults of the Belgian, Russian, New York, London and Israeli diamond bourses to insure the artificially high, monopoly-fixed, prices of diamonds.

Rafael Marques outlined cases torture, brutalization and assassinations—cases of personal brutality he investigated—that characterize diamond mining by state firms in Angola today.

“Should one, after this brief explanation,” Marques asked, “say that the extraction of diamonds in Angola is OK? What the Kimberley Process, which was designed to drive blood diamonds out of the market, is doing is to rinse the blood from the gems, extracted in [Angola] and certify them as clean.”

What is even more disturbing is that the Zionist state will be leading the Kimberley Process, a process which it clearly circumvents as the article above makes clear:

Israel was elected deputy chairman of the Kimberley Process for the coming year by the Sixth Plenary of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, currently being attended in New Delhi, India, by more than 70 member countries. This means that Israel will become chairman of the KP in 2010. This development comes in the wake of the recent election of two Israeli Diamond Industry leaders—Avi Paz and Moti Ganz—as presidents of the World Federation of Diamond Boursesand International Diamond Manufacturers Association, respectively.

Of course, the Zionist state is expert at avoiding, disrespecting, and violating international law. We see that here in Palestine every day. But what is useful is for people to understand that Israelis export this practice in their economic, political, and military dealings with other states as well. Consider UN Resolution 1803 from 1962, which says in part,

1. The right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well-being of the people of the State concerned.

2. The exploration, development and disposition of such resources, as well as the import of the foreign capital required for these purposes, should be in conformity with the rules and conditions which the peoples and nations freely consider to be necessary or desirable with regard to the authorization, restriction or prohibition of such activities.

3. In cases where authorization is granted, the capital imported and the earnings on that capital shall be governed by the terms thereof, by the national legislation in force, and by international law. The profits derived must be shared in the proportions freely agreed upon, in each case, between the investors and the recipient State, due care being taken to ensure that there is no impairment, for any reason, of that State’s sovereignty over its natural wealth and resources.

Those who care about the war in the Congo and neighboring states, the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Palestine should see these connections and find a way to work in solidarity. To build a significant boycott movement against these forms of colonialism. There is something lacking in this sort of solidarity, which Bill Fletcher makes clear in this tidbit of an talk on the relationship between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid. Activists interested in building a solid pro-Palestinian movement in the U.S. would do well to listen to Fletcher’s words and heed his advice:

more hunger, more war

in gaza right now there is darkness. it is cold, it is raining. and there is no light. there is no food shipment nor any fuel shipment. this is zionism. this is terrorism. (they are one in the same.)

Israel went back on a pledge to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, turning away critical deliveries of fuel and food at the borders for the seventh consecutive day.

In reneging on its pledge, Israel blocked delivery of United Nations food aid intended for 750,000 Palestinians.

Gaza was plunged into darkness as the territory’s only power plant shut down at 6:00pm local time due to a lack of fuel. Just before dark, Palestinans went into the streets in a frantic search for candles and bread.

and there is war. a brutal siege compounded by israeli terrorist forces attacking palestinians. notice that the palestinians fire qassam rockets in response to those attacks. notice that palestinians die; israelis are rarely injured:

Hamas, and other militant groups, began firing rockets into southern Israel and have continued over several days. Israeli troops then killed four Hamas gunmen in Gaza in an attack yesterday, and Palestinian militants responded by firing several rockets this morning into southern Israel.

“The UN has been very clear that we should not hand the agenda over to those who fire rockets,” said John Ging, head of Gaza operations for UNRWA.

“They shouldn’t dictate whether the crossings are open or not for the civilian population here.”

Israel’s deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, suggested the ceasefire might yet continue. “Without a doubt, it is faltering, but it isn’t over,” he told Israel Radio.

Earlier this week the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, travelled to an army base near Gaza and warned another military confrontation was coming.

“The question is not whether there will be a confrontation,” he said, “but when it will take place, under what circumstances, and who will control these circumstances.”

in the congo, too, there is war and refugees and internally displaced people are struggling to get food. amnesty international has a letter you can send to condoleeza rice about the situation in the congo:

More than 250,000 civilians displaced by recent fighting:

Ask Secretary Rice to support UN peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo

UN peacekeepers remain the last hope for hundreds of thousands of affected civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly women and children. The current force is thinly stretched and cannot effectively enforce its mandate of stopping attacks against civilians and protecting humanitarian operations.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the spiraling crisis in the Congo. (…) We urge the Congolese Government, rebel leadership and the neighboring governments to take all possible measures to prevent human rights abuses by troops under their command. We condemn all attacks on innocent civilians and urge all parties to the conflict to ensure that such attacks cease. The cycle of violence and impunity must be stopped.”

Powerful statement. The U.S. State Department issued it more than 10 years ago, in August 1998. It did not prevent what became known as “Africa’s first world war” (1998-2003), which was centered in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and involved several neighboring countries.

Today, the humanitarian and human rights crisis in eastern DRC will again spiral out of control – if we do not act now.

At least 250,000 civilians have been displaced by the recent fighting, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from this and previous rounds of conflict to well over one million. Many IDPs remain out of the reach of aid workers, and some humanitarian operations have been suspended because of the fragile security situation. There is a high risk that the situation will escalate into a regional conflict.

Amnesty International works continuously on addressing the underlying causes of conflict, trying to end impunity for perpetrators of the most egregious human rights violations. But, our priority now is to protect civilians through reinforcing the capacity of the UN’s peacekeeping mission (Mission des Nationa Unies en République Démocratique du Congo, MONUC).

A few hours ago, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, briefed the Security Council and stressed the difficulties facing the UN peacekeepers. Now, members of the Security Council must act to strengthen the peacekeepers’ capacity.

We must act to guarantee that hope for civilians becomes a reality, not a sound bite. Ask Secretary Condoleezza Rice for her support to strengthen UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

there is also an avaaz petition you can sign about the congo (notice how no such petition exists about gaza…)

The people of Congo need our help. In recent weeks over 200,000 people have been driven from their homes, and murder and rape are rife. The United Nations peacekeeping mission to Congo has not intervened to protect civilians. As this email is sent, families are running for their lives, stuck between the brutal violence of both the rebels and the Congolese army, without food or shelter – their only refuges are crowded camps which now face epidemics of disease. This is a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions.

All actors need to support better diplomacy, but only Europe can deploy a well-equipped, neutral protection force to be on the ground in two weeks – and European foreign ministers meeting earlier this week blinked, failing to act. If they send a neutral force to the region to protect civilians who are desperately in need, and help put real pressure on Congo and neighbouring countries with UN and African officials, this humanitarian crisis could be addressed and a lasting peace made possible.

The lesson of the genocide in Rwanda was — step in before it’s too late — politicians seem to have forgotten that. The people of eastern Congo need us now. We need to put overwhelming pressure on European and global leaders to step up, so please follow the link below to take action yourself and forward this email to friends and family — we’ll be delivering the campaign later this week to decision-makers and in newspapers. The situation is deteriorating by the day. The more of us take action, the more leaders will feel that their citizens and people around the world expect them to respond and protect the Congolese people. Sign the petition here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

The recent clashes between General Nkunda’s militias and the Congolese army are the latest in a place where the population has been attacked and terrorised for years by armed groups. Over five million people have been killed. It’s been termed ‘Africa’s world war’, with Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia all getting involved. The fighting is fed by a lethal war economy based on the extraction of minerals such as coltan, cobalt, diamonds and gold, to which we’re all connected through the worldwide market.

Violence is escalating and allegations abound of Angolan and Zimbabwean troops fighting alongside the Congolese army — Congolese army soldiers committing atrocities and working with militias including the Rwandan Hutu Forces, some of whose leaders were responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide — and the Rwandan army supporting General Nkunda to muscle the Congolese government to fulfill its commitment to demobilise these same Hutu militias. So it is no surprise that African-only diplomacy is faltering, and that there is a need for an external, neutral force. We cannot let the best chance to stop the terror in Congo slip by as leaders turn their backs — Congo needs concerted engagement now. Let’s flood European and global leaders with requests for action. Sign the petition and please send it to your friends and family:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

The United Nations mission (MONUC) is in Congo to keep the peace between this web of armed groups, but recently it has made clear statements that it cannot protect civilians. We have heard reliably that MONUC are desperate for a rapid EU bridging force to do what they can’t and start restoring international legitimacy, which has been lost through overstretch and perceptions of taking sides — UN troops have fought alongside the Congolese army and are even accused of sheltering pro-government militias.

To have a credible and effective force the United Nations mission will soon have to be reformed and redeployed. In the longer term, the international community needs to be a strong and honest broker to ensure implementation of peace agreements and confront the underlying issues feeding this war. If Europe sends a short-term, neutral force to the region now to protect civilians, it can start to change the terms of this brutal game — providing a basis both to defend the defenceless and to apply political leverage to all sides. Click below to sign the petition:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/global_action_on_congo/

PS: Campaigning around force deployments is never easy and we take it extremely seriously and case by case — Avaaz is also campaigning for withdrawal from Iraq. We are calling for this time-limited protection force in Congo because it is essential both to protect civilians who are being raped and murdered, and to support an honest-broker political effort. We have taken extensive advice and a poll of Avaaz members showed overwhelming support for this campaign.

For a report on Avaaz’s campaigning so far, see: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/report_back_2

PSS: Here are links to sources for this alert:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article5126970.ece

http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=18960

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/10/congo-kiwanja-un-goma-angola-laurent-nkunda-war-crimes-fighting

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/congos-tragedy-the-war-the-world-has-forgotten-14023616.html

http://www.monuc.org/news.aspx?newsID=18996

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2008/081107_Mulet.doc.htm