Yes, India, Israel uses water as a weapon

For the past couple of nights I’ve noticed a new commercial on English language television in India. It seems that Israel is currently promoting tourism on occupied land while hiding their reality of their almost 70-year long colonisation of the land. It seems that now that Indians no longer have a stamp in their passport preventing them from travelling to the world’s 2 apartheid states–South Africa and Israel–they’re pushing tourism, making it appear as if it were any European country. It was shocking to see such a commercial, knowing how many Indians will fall for it, travel there, and never even have a glimpse of what life is like for Palestinians in historic Palestine or the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Here is my response to a similar piece in The Hindu a couple of years ago).

Of course, one would expect that an Israeli agency would promote its own tourism. But what’s even more shocking is that an Indian environmental organisation would fall for such propaganda. And that’s what seemed to happen with India Water Portal. Their piece was lazy–relying solely on the Israeli embassy for their misinformation. And the Indians who published this piece are too enamoured with the mythology of Israelis making the deserts bloom, they credit them with inventions like drip irrigation, which Indians were doing for hundreds–if not thousands–of years before the colony of Israel existed. They seem to be completely oblivious to the realities in Palestine, too, and the way that water is used as a tool of apartheid. Perhaps if they realised, Indian passports would once again be prohibited from entering Israel (wishful thinking, I know).

What bothers me about false reporting on water in India is that so many Indians–Indians who I expect to know better–will repeat this fib about Israel being some agricultural, water genius nation that India should look to as a model. And the Indian government is indeed stepping up its work in that area with collaborative ventures in the agricultural sector.

Israel’s water lies go far back to their early colonisation in the 1940s, but after they accelerated the colonisation of the West Bank, the theft quickened, as Charlotte Silver explains:

The Israeli military has governed all sources of water in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 and 1974, respectively. Originally gained by military conquest, its control has subsequently been affirmed through the Oslo Accords and, increasingly, the work of the Palestinian Authority and international NGOs. 

vp palestine water infographic

In Gaza, because of the ongoing siege of the world’s largest open air prison, the water situation is even worse than in the West Bank, which is why the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has been actively involved in helping to create solutions to the lack of drinking water:

In the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli Occupation systematically denies Palestinian adequate quality and quantities of water. Palestinian communities inside the state of Israel have less access to water than their Jewish counterparts, as well. Water is diverted from Palestinian resources the West Bank (and previously in Gaza) to illegal Israeli settlements and into Israel. Israel denies materials, fuel, and permits to sustain and expand water systems. Military attacks predictably—and often deliberately—destroy wells, water tanks, pipes, treatment plants, and sewage systems. Widespread poverty prevents people from purchasing clean water or repairing their wells and plumbing. The health and well being of virtually every Palestinian child and adult is affected by the shortage of clean, safe water.

The water crisis in Gaza is extreme. When the state of Israel was established in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes in what is now southern Israel to the small and arid Gaza Strip. At the same time, Israel cut off access to water sources around Gaza. The only source available, the Gaza Aquifer, could not support the huge and sudden rise in population, and the water it generates has been steadily deteriorating for more than sixty years. It is currently estimated that 95% of water from the Gaza Aquifer is unfit for human consumption.

It’s pretty simple to surf the Internet and figure out the truth about water in Palestine and Israel’s role in siphoning it for their swimming pools when Palestinians barely get enough to drink, cook, and bathe with. Even Israel’s Ha’aretz has reported on the way Israel creates thirst in Palestinian communities as has the Economist. Amnesty International has published reports on Israel’s use of water as a tool of their apartheid regime.

What will it take for Indians to understand the truth, the reality of what really goes on with water in Palestine? Perhaps a trip, but not to Israel; one to the occupied territories where tourists also get first-hand experiences with inequity and water as well as all the other visible and less visible forms of apartheid.

daily-water

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how about no voice!

here is a group i would love to silence. it is called “one voice.” i say: how about no voice! apparently it is old, but someone tweeted it today so i just learned about it. this group is quite skilled in masking who they really are about (this is the first clue that it is a hardcore zionist organization dedicated to preserving the racist, zionist, colonist, terrorist state). to start with the term “one voice” is a sort of euphemism, i think, for some sort of unified solution and masks their goal of continuing the zionist colonization of palestinian land. you can get some idea of who they are from their faq page:

How is OneVoice different from other ‘peace’ groups?

We are dedicated to conflict resolution. Israelis and Palestinians at a grassroots level want to find a resolution to this conflict and agree in broad terms on the parameters for that resolution. They do not necessarily like or love each other, but they recognize that to guarantee their own freedom, security, and viability, they have to assure the same for the other side. We are committed to mobilizing people behind this belief to effect real change. We are a grassroots, non-partisan, joint Israeli-Palestinian organization – not imposing ideas from above, but helping people on the ground to find and frame their own answers.

Why do you believe in a two-state solution?

OneVoice does not have its own views on how a peace agreement should look – we are simply codifying the views of the masses, and building off of the groundwork laid by past agreements and proposals, which are accepted by the majority of Israelis & Palestinians as the basis for negotiating a two-state solution. The vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, according to all major polls, agree that a two-state solution is the only way to end this conflict.

Is it really a parallel movement? Are both sides really represented?

This is the most commonly asked question by people on both sides. Each side perceives that the other lacks a contingent of moderates willing to lead their people to compromise. Exactly the same amount of money goes into programming in Israel as it does in Palestine.

What many people are unable to see, which we uniquely can, is that whether on the left or on the right, Israeli or Palestinian, the overwhelming majority on each side would choose co-existence and mutual respect over co-extermination and mutual ruination. In spite of any apprehension or skepticism they share, they ultimately express a commitment and desire to participate with us.

Is this an attempt to impose a Western solution on a uniquely Middle Eastern problem?

The OneVoice solution is coming from the Middle East; it is not being imposed on anyone. Hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis were involved in its inception and now more than 600,000 are members. OneVoice is shaped according to what people who live in the region believe will work. In this regard, we provide a neutral gateway towards consensus that is not linked to any existing entrenched power. OneVoice is a non-biased, grassroots platform that derives its legitimacy from popular participation.

first of all, the notion that this is some sort of grassroots movement that palestinians support is 100% hooey. sure, maybe they have a few collaborators on board (read: those who support american-zionist colonialism here), but that does not mean that the majority of palestinians support this initiative. i can tell you point blank: they do not. there is no clear position on the most important issues, like the right of return, for instance, and they treat palestinians here as if these are only people who live in the west bank–not in 1948 palestine, not in refugee camps in lebanon, jordan, syria, not in the diaspora. of course they cannot because if they were to do so they would have to deal with the right of return. and they do not.

but what is most telling, i think, is the page that lists the board members. the “honorary board” lists palestinians who normalize and who are completely discredited and disrespected among palestinians like saeb erakat. he is as bad as his cohorts on this list like zionnazis martin indyk and dennis ross. it also lists jim zogby who, like ziad asali who sits on the trustees advisory council, do a great job promoting the zionist agenda in the u.s. the rest of the names, one can safely assume, are there to do the zionists’ bidding to ensure that palestinian refugees never have the right of return and that their bantustan situation will continue to increase. make no mistake about it: if indyk and ross are on board we can expect a disastrous outcome for palestinians. period.

then you look at their “parners” page you will notice that they have all sorts of organizations that masquerade as “neutral,” but are really fronts for zionist propaganda–organizations like middle east web as well as arab american organizations that are complicit with the zionist agenda in the u.s. like american task force on palestine. and, perhaps, the real clue is in the organizations that promote normalization (read: force palestinians to be as submissive as possible in their own oppression so zionists can steal more land and murder more palestinians); these groups include: the geneva initiative and ipcri.

how these groups got on the website is another question–whether they support its work or not, for instance. apparently, when the organization began they just put various groups on the website without asking for permission first. they did this with the middle east children’s alliance (meca), and as soon as people at meca found out and requested that they remove their name and logo. apparently, they did not understand that meant meca was not interested in their so-called “peace” initiative and someone at this “one voice” group asked them to send out some email to meca’s list. when they said no, meca got this email, which i quote with permission:

Dear XXXX,

Thank you for your elaborated answer. I find it hard to understand why would you choose not to support an organization that calls for a non violent solution based on 2 states and rapid negotiations, but I guess it is your choice.

PS. Children not living under occupation are also bedwetting and have nightmares, whether it is because of missiles flying over their heads and on their houses for the last 7 years or because of suicide bombers and terrorism. Life and the reality in the Middle east is not as one sided as you portray. The apartheid analogy is nothing more then a propaganda tool, that has nothing to do with reality, and is used to take advantage of peace-seeking people, with historical guilt, by demonizing Israel and the Israelis. What you see in the media is only the bloody stories that sell. They are not always true, and more importantly they are far from being all the story or even a big part of it.

Yours,
Sefi Kedmi

typical zionist answer: the think that the bias is against the them. yet another way of deflecting attention from the reality of their daily thieving and murderous colonial project. ben white had an excellent critique of this pseudo-“peace” initiative in the guardian two years ago, which is worth reading:

We’ve had Live 8 and Live Earth, and this week, albeit on a smaller scale, we almost had One Million Voices. Organised by the OneVoice group, the declared aim was to bring together Palestinians and Israelis in simultaneous events in Tel Aviv, Jericho, London, Washington and Ottawa to voice support for the “moderates” and call for a negotiated two-state solution.

The plans fell through, amid bitter claim and counter-claim, as artists lined up for the Jericho event cancelled, and the Tel Aviv concert followed suit. This followed grassroots pressure by Palestinians who objected to what they see as yet another attempt to promote a false peace that fails to address the structural injustices driving the conflict.

Indeed, despite the peace rhetoric – and the claim that they represent a unique popular call – OneVoice’s approach suffers from the same flaws that have bedevilled official “peace” efforts from Oslo to the Quartet. Such errors were amply demonstrated in Seth Freedman’s column, which implied that the main obstacle to peace is the “extremism” that exists on both sides.

This interpretation of the situation in Palestine/Israel is only possible through a heavy airbrushing of history and a fundamental misreading of the present. Strikingly, the Tel Aviv concert was scheduled to take place in Hayarkon Park – the same location where, almost 60 years ago, the Palestinian village of Jarisha was wiped off the map by Jewish armed forces.

Its residents shared the same fate as almost 800,000 other Palestinians, expelled from what became Israel and prevented to this day from returning home, their land confiscated. Yet official OneVoice material gives the impression that the conflict only began 40 years ago, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).

Condemning the “extremist minority” of both sides sounds laudable. Of course, “both sides” use violence, and of course, there is hatred and religious extremism among both Palestinians and Israelis. The crucial point, however, is that Israel has all the power. Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, not the other way round. Palestinian cities are besieged by a modern, hi-tech Israeli army and subjected to closure, raids and bombardment – not the other way round.

Zionist colonisation is not the preserve of a fanatical fringe in Israel – it is fundamental to the state’s identity and practice. As Martin Luther King said: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Since Israel continues to show no intention of relinquishing its role as colonial overlord, it’s no good to condemn “both sides”, as if there is equality between occupier and occupied.

Unsurprisingly, those with intimate firsthand experience of this apartheid are under no illusions about the usefulness of toothless “peace processes”. Earlier this week, the UN human rights envoy for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, condemned the Quartet for failing to safeguard Palestinian rights. The BBC’s Tim Franks noted that many diplomats and officials based in the region “would agree with Mr Dugard’s political analysis” yet refrain from agreeing publicly.

The language of moderation is all the rage, from OneVoice to Condoleezza Rice, from the aborted peace concerts to the forthcoming November peace conference. It’s a seductive dichotomy; on the one side are those who light the flame of peace, who strive for a “mass awakening” to the “forces of light and friendship and love”. On the other side are the extremists who threaten, smear and mislead; they are wickedly intransigent – they stifle, snuff out hope and burn flags.

But what is a “moderate”? In recent times, “moderate” has been applied to some rather unlikely characters in the Middle East. For the US, UK and Israeli governments, these include states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. None of these permit much genuine freedom of expression; all of them oppress opposition movements. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

It seems “moderation” has nothing to do with whether you refrain from the torture of political activists or the flogging of “deviants”, and everything to do with your obedience to US policies and Israeli interests. That is what unites the Saudi royals, the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king.

Meanwhile, groups like ISM, and Another Voice are condemned by Freedman and OneVoice as “extremists” out to “eradicate the other side”, and accused of making unnamed and unspecified threats. Yet these groups are committed to the defence of human rights and international law, and are made up of tireless Israelis, Palestinians and internationals. Their categorisation as “extremists” then, is actually a reflection of their refusal to accept sugar-coated apartheid or well-meaning platitudes that serve the status quo.

It may be an uncomfortable truth, but peace for both peoples comes no closer if the fundamental power disparity between Israel and the stateless, occupied and dispossessed Palestinians is obscured. Confronting the vested interests that perpetuate Palestine’s conquest may not win you awards from Jordanian monarchs or praise from the US state department; but it ultimately brings you a lot closer to peace.

as for kedmi thinking that apartheid does not apply, i think we would do well to look at omar barghouti’s recent article on the subject, which i quote from, in part, below:

Israel’s repressive and racist policies in the 1967-occupied Palestinian territory have been recognized as constituting apartheid by a host of opinion leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US president, Jimmy Carter, and former UN Special Rapporteur for human rights, Prof. John Dugard, among others. In the same vein, former Israeli Attorney General, Michael Ben-Yair, wrote in a 2002 article in Ha’aretz describing Israel’s regime in the OPT, “We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. … In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories….” [36]

However, the applicability of the crime of apartheid as defined in UN conventions to Israel itself has, for the most part, been either inadvertently glossed over or intentionally ignored as an explosive subject that has every potential to invite the vengeful wrath of powerful pro-Israel lobbies. Regardless, one cannot but examine the facts and analyze Israel’s system of governance accordingly.

The strongest argument given by — sometimes well-meaning — experts who dismiss the apartheid label for Israel is that the analogy between Israel and South Africa is not exact and, in many respects, Israel’s oppression is even more severe, demanding a different designation altogether. The problem with this argument is that it assumes, quite incorrectly, that apartheid is a South African trademark and, therefore, that every regime accused of practicing apartheid must be shown to be identical to South Africa’s apartheid regime of yesteryear. Apartheid, however, although brought to world attention and given its name by the racist regime in South Africa, has been recognized by the UN for decades as a generalized crime with a universal definition.

The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1976 defines apartheid [37] as “similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa” which have “the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them, in particular by means such as segregation, expropriation of land, and denial of the right to leave and return to their country, the right to a nationality and the right to freedom of movement and residence” (Article II). The similarity to South Africa is cited not as a condition but in recognition of its status as a historic precedent.

As a recent in-depth strategic position paper [38] published by the Palestinian BDS National Committee states, Israel’s origins, laws and policies against the Palestinian people fit to a large extent the definition of apartheid. The conceptual origins of Israel’s unique form of apartheid are found in Zionism, a racist European ideology that was adopted by the dominant stream of the Zionist movement (World Zionist Organization, Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, among others) in order to justify and recruit political support for its colonial project of establishing an exclusive Jewish state in historic Palestine. Political Zionists dismissed the indigenous population of Palestine as non-existent in the famous Zionist slogan of “a land without a people;” making this a self-fulfilling prophecy, Zionist forces forcibly displaced 750,000-900,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroyed hundreds of the depopulated Palestinian villages in an operation termed “cleaning the landscape” that lasted until 1960. [39]

Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people amounts to apartheid precisely because it displays many of the main features of the crime as defined by international law:

1. Racial discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people who became citizens of the State of Israel was formalized and institutionalized through the creation by law of a “Jewish nationality”, which is distinct from Israeli citizenship. No “Israeli” nationality exists in Israel, and the Supreme Court has persistently refused to recognize one as it would end the system of Jewish supremacy in Israel. The 1950 Law of Return entitles all Jews — and only Jews — to the rights of nationals, namely the right to enter “Eretz Yisrael” (Israel and the OPT) and immediately enjoy full legal and political rights. “Jewish nationality” under the Law of Return is extraterritorial in contravention of international public law norms pertaining to nationality. It includes Jewish citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether they wish to be part of the collective of “Jewish nationals,” and excludes “non-Jews” (i.e., Palestinians) from nationality rights in Israel.

2. The 1952 Citizenship Law [40] has created a discriminatory two-tier legal system whereby Jews hold nationality and citizenship, while the remaining indigenous Palestinian citizens hold only citizenship. [41] Under Israeli law the status of Jewish nationality is accompanied with first-class rights and benefits which are not granted to Palestinian citizens.

3. The Israeli Status Law of 1952 authorizes the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency and its subsidiaries, including the Jewish National Fund, to control most of the land in Israel, for the exclusive benefit of Jews. In 1998, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CESCR, expressed [42] grave concern about this law and stated that large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination, because these agencies by definition would deny the use of these properties to non-Jewish citizens of the State.

4. Return of Palestinian refugees and Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs), as required by international law, has been prevented by means of force and legislation on racist grounds. Simply because they are not Jews, Palestinian refugees were excluded from entitlement to citizenship in the State of Israel under the 1952 Citizenship Law. They were “denationalized” and turned into stateless refugees in violation of the law of state succession. Their land and other property were confiscated by the State. The approximately 150,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 Nakba were placed under a military regime (1948 – 1966) similar to the regime currently in place in the OPT.

For decades, racial discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel in every vital aspect of life has been the norm. From land ownership to education to health to jobs to housing, the indigenous Palestinians have been denied equality by the State’s laws and policies. For instance, they are not allowed, to buy or rent land in about 93% of the state lands of Israel. [43] To this date, polls consistently show overwhelming majorities of Israeli Jews standing in opposition to full equality with the indigenous Palestinians in the state. [44] So the fact those Palestinians can vote, unlike their black African counterpart under South African apartheid, becomes almost a formality, a tokenism of sorts, clearly designed to project a deceptive image of democracy and fend off well-justified accusations of apartheid. [45]

Even in cancer research [46], Israeli apartheid is strongly present. In June 2001, the Health Ministry published a map of the geographical distribution of malignant diseases in Israel during the years 1984-1999. The report did not include a single Palestinian community in Israel, with the exception of Rahat, ostensibly due to “budgetary problems.” This research is particularly important because, in Israel, only when a correlation is shown between the presence of polluting sites and the incidence of malignant disease is it possible to prevent installation of new hazards, or demand tighter environmental standards. By intentionally omitting Palestinian towns in its extensive cancer mapping, the Health Ministry has indirectly given a green light to polluters to relocate to Palestinian towns inside Israel — not to mention in the OPT. The results of such health apartheid are ominous. In the past three decades the rate of malignant diseases in the Palestinian population in Israel has risen 3 to 4 times higher than among the Jewish population. A spokesperson for the Israeli Center against Racism commented, “The report has produced two different groups. One, an overprivileged group, whose lives are dear to the state and to the Health Ministry; a second, whose lives are of no importance to the state.”

This discrimination must be seen in the wider context of Israel’s perception of Palestinians by leading Israeli politicians, intellectuals, academics and mass media outlets as a “demographic threat” that needs to be dealt with resolutely; thus the rise of openly fascist parties in the recent parliamentary elections. Echoing a popular view in Israel, a ranking academic, Major General (reserve) Shlomo Gazit from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, preaches: “Democracy has to be subordinated to demography.”[47] And now, the fanatic right Israeli leader, Avigdor Lieberman, and his supporters are saying democracy has to be subordinated to loyalty to Jewish supremacy.

The complicity of Western governments in all this horrific violation of international law and basic human rights has led many analysts to view the role of the West as profoundly flawed, both morally and legally. The comprehensive impunity enjoyed by Israel has allowed it to project itself and to act as an uncontrollable “mad dog” — an image advocated by Moshe Dayan decades ago and endorsed most recently by Israeli military historian, Martin Van Creveld [48] — in an attempt to make the Palestinians submit to its colonial will, to accept slavery as fate.

This criminal impunity and categorical denial of rights, more than anything else, were the main motivation behind the Palestinian BDS campaign.

Since 9 July 2005, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions have been advocated by virtually the entire Palestinian civil society everywhere as an effective form of solidarity that has a real potential to bring about an end to Western complicity with Israel and, therefore, to Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid. During and ever since Israel’s criminal war on Gaza, Palestinian civil society has stood more united than ever in urging people of conscience all over the world to hold Israel accountable for its crimes by treating it as South Africa was under apartheid rule. In response, unions, academic groups, faith-based organizations, political parties, social movements and others have adopted creative, context-sensitive and sustainable BDS campaigns, from South Africa to Norway, from Australia to Canada, from Britain to Venezuela, and even from the podium of the President of the UN General Assembly. [49]

Israel’s state terrorism in Gaza, enabled by virtually unlimited support from the US and Western governments in general, was a key catalyst in spreading and deepening BDS around the world, prompting advocates of Palestinian rights to feel that our South Africa moment has finally arrived. Israel is now widely perceived, at a grassroots level, as an international pariah that commits war crimes with impunity and that needs to be held accountable to international law and basic principles of human rights.

for readers who are too racist to take the word of a palestinian, how about a jewish south african man who lived through apartheid in south africa and who has witnessed it in palestine as well? ronnie kasrils also published a piece this week comparing the two regimes:

It is by no means difficult to recognize from afar, as Verwoerd had been able to do, that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. Verwoerd’s successor, Balthazar John Vorster visited Israel after the 1973 October War, when Egypt in a rare victory regained the Suez Canal and Sinai from Israel. After that Israel and South Africa were virtually twinned as military allies for Pretoria helped supply Israel militarily in the immediacy of its 1973 setback and Israel came to support apartheid South Africa at the height of sanctions with weaponry and technology – from naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes to assistance in building six nuclear bombs and the creation of an arms industry.

For the liberation movements of southern Africa, Israel and apartheid South Africa represented a racist, colonial axis. It was noted that people like Vorster had been Nazi sympathizers, interned during World War II – yet feted as heroes in Israel and incidentally never again referred to by South African Zionists as an anti-Semite!. This did not surprise those that came to understand the true racist nature and character of Zionist Israel.

Time and space does not allow further elaboration, but it is instructive to add that in its conduct and methods of repression, Israel came to resemble more and more apartheid South Africa at its zenith – even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents, collective punishment and the aggression against neighboring states.

Certainly we South Africans can identify the pathological cause, fuelling the hate, of Israel’s political-military elite and public in general. Neither is this difficult for anyone acquainted with colonial history to understand the way in which deliberately cultivated race hate inculcates a justification for the most atrocious and inhumane actions against even defenseless civilians – women, children, the elderly amongst them. In fact was this not the pathological racist ideology that fuelled Hitler’s war lust and implementation of the Holocaust?

I will state clearly, without exaggeration, that any South African, whether involved in the freedom struggle, or motivated by basic human decency, who visits the Occupied Palestinian Territories are shocked to the core at the situation they encounter and agree with Archbishop Tutu’s comment that what the Palestinians are experiencing is far worse than what happened in South Africa, where the Sharpeville massacre of 69 civilians in 1960 became international symbol of apartheid cruelty.

for those of you who want to know what palestinians want and what serves their interests you can check out these websites:

one state democratic group

and

global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement

PS: i meant to post this last night but it slipped my mind. the reason this old organization is on my mind now is because it is in the news:

Sir Paul McCartney officially joined the International Board of Advisors of the OneVoice movement, a grassroots organization aiming at broadcasting the views of what it calls the “overwhelming majority” of moderates in both Israel and Palestine.

The Board of Directors already includes actors Danny DeVito and Jason Alexander, as well as international dignitaries and political figures like Dennis Ross.

McCartney met with OneVoice Israel Chairwoman Irit Admoni Perlman during his visit to the region in September and was later asked to join the board, according to the statement.

“They told me that the vast majority of people in both societies are moderates and simply want a better life for their families and themselves,” a statement from the organization quoted McCartney as saying, “This gave me great hope that, one day, people like them will help to bring about a peaceful resolution to the troubles in the area. I am, therefore, happy to lend my support in this way to the cause of peace.”

notice that not only did mccartney ignore the boycott and come to the israeli terrorist state, but he also ONLY met with an israeli terrorist, not any palestinians. but his group represents both sides–as if there can be two sides when you have the colonizer and the colonized.

building momentum against israeli apartheid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlanta, GA

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

Brattleboro, VT

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

Marlboro, VT

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

New York, NY

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

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

Washington D.C.

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

Harrisonburg, VA

FRIDAY March 13th, 2009 – 7pm

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

Portland, ME

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

Lewiston, ME

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

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

للنشر الفوري: 3 آذار 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**For Immediate Release**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full list of locations is as follows:

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

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

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

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