on the limits of solidarity

last month two comrades in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (bds)–omar barghouti and haidar eid–both of whom i respect a great deal–wrote a statement about the gaza freedom march asking them to adopt a statement of context that addressed palestinian needs and demands rather than impose an american idea of those needs and demands on palestinian people (i quoted it and wrote about it here). a few weeks ago haidar and omar released a new statement saying that the gaza freedom march organizers had adopted their statement and they are now requesting people to endorse the march (click here to endorse it):

Dear supporters of just peace and international law,

We are writing to invite you to endorse the Pledge of the Gaza Freedom March, a creative initiative with historic potential organized by the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza. The March is aimed at mobilizing active and effective support from around the world for ending Israel’s illegal and immoral siege on Gaza, currently the most pressing of all Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian rights. To endorse the Pledge, please click here and enter your name — or your organization’s name — in the box provided at the bottom.

Also reproduced at the end of this letter, after the Pledge, is the organizers’ Statement of Context which provides the necessary Palestinian context of the siege, namely Israel’s occupation, its decades-old denial of UN-sanctioned Palestinian rights, and Palestinian civil resistance to that oppression.

The Gaza Freedom March has won the endorsement of a decisive majority in Palestinian civil society. Aside from the Islamic University of Gaza, Al-Aqsa University, and tens of local grassroots organizations, refugee advocacy groups, professional associations and NGOs in Gaza, the March was endorsed by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC)*, a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organizations, trade unions, networks and professional associaitions, including all the major trade union federations, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and the largest network representing Palestinian refugees. Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, representing the most prominent Palestinian NGOs inside Israel, has also endorsed.

The March, planned for January 2010, to commemorate Israel’s illegal war of aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in occupied Gaza, is expected to draw many prominent figures and massive activist participation from across the world. The organizers have shown exceptional moral courage and a true sense of solidarity in drafting the Pledge and the Statement of Context. We salute them all for their principled and consistent commitment to applying international law and universal human rights to the plight of the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza. We deeply appreciate their solidarity with our struggle for freedom and our inalienable right to self determination.

Anchored solely in international law and universal human rights, the Gaza Freedom March appeals to international organizations and conscientious citizens with diverse political backgrounds on the basis of their common abhorrence of the immense injustice embodied in the atrocious siege of 1.5 million Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees.

With massive participation of internationals, led by prominent leaders, alongside Palestinians in Gaza the world can no longer ignore its moral duty to end this criminal siege, and Israel can no longer count on its current impunity to last long. We strongly urge you to endorse the Pledge and to help secure more endorsements.

Haidar Eid (Gaza)
Omar Barghouti (Jerusalem)

* The BDS National Committee, BNC, consists of: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine (all major political parties); General Union of Palestinian Workers; Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions; General Union of Palestinian Women; Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO); Federation of Independent Trade Unions; Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Union of Palestinian Farmers; Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Initiative (OPGAI); Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW); Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba; Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ); Coalition for Jerusalem; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations; Palestinian Economic Monitor; Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps; among others …

Endorse the Gaza Freedom March! Sign the Pledge Below!

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law that has led to mass suffering. The U.S., the European Union, and the rest of the international community are complicit.

The law is clear. The conscience of humankind is shocked. Yet, the siege of Gaza continues. It is time for us to take action! On January 1, 2010, we will mark the New Year by marching alongside the Palestinian people of Gaza in a non-violent demonstration that breaches the illegal blockade.

Our purpose in this March is lifting the siege on Gaza. We demand that Israel end the blockade. We also call upon Egypt to open Gaza’s Rafah border. Palestinians must have freedom to travel for study, work, and much-needed medical treatment and to receive visitors from abroad.

As an international coalition we are not in a position to advocate a specific political solution to this conflict. Yet our faith in our common humanity leads us to call on all parties to respect and uphold international law and fundamental human rights to bring an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967 and pursue a just and lasting peace.

The march can only succeed if it arouses the conscience of humanity.

Please join us.

The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza
For more information, please see the Statement of Context
For a list of endorsers, please click here.

STATEMENT OF CONTEXT

Amnesty International has called the Gaza blockade a “form of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Human Rights Watch has called the blockade a “serious violation of international law.” The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk, condemned Israel’s siege of Gaza as amounting to a “crime against humanity.”

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has said the Palestinian people trapped in Gaza are being treated “like animals,” and has called for “ending of the siege of Gaza” that is depriving “one and a half million people of the necessities of life.”

One of the world’s leading authorities on Gaza, Sara Roy of Harvard University, has said that the consequence of the siege “is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely by Israel, but with the active complicity of the international community, especially the U.S. and European Union.”

The law is clear. The conscience of humankind is shocked.

The Palestinians of Gaza have exhorted the international community to move beyond words of condemnation.

Yet, the siege of Gaza continues.

Upholding International Law

The illegal siege of Gaza is not happening in a vacuum. It is one of the many illegal acts committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories it occupied militarily in 1967.

The Wall and the settlements are illegal, according to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

House demolitions and wanton destruction of farm lands are illegal.

The closures and curfews are illegal.

The roadblocks and checkpoints are illegal.

The detention and torture are illegal.

The occupation itself is illegal.

The truth is that if international law were enforced the occupation would end.

An end to the military occupation that began in 1967 is a major condition for establishing a just and lasting peace. For over six decades, the Palestinian people have been denied freedom and rights to self-determination and equality. The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced out of their homes during Israel’s creation in 1947-48 are still denied the rights granted them by UN Resolution 194.

Sources of Inspiration

The Gaza Freedom March is inspired by decades of nonviolent Palestinian resistance from the mass popular uprising of the first Intifada to the West Bank villagers currently resisting the land grab of Israel’s annexationist wall.

It draws inspiration from the Gazans themselves, who formed a human chain from Rafah to Erez, tore down the border barrier separating Gaza from Egypt, and marched to the six checkpoints separating the occupied Gaza Strip from Israel.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the international volunteers who have stood by Palestinian farmers harvesting their crops, from the crews on the vessels who have challenged the Gaza blockade by sea, and from the drivers of the convoys who have delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza.

And it is inspired by Nelson Mandela who said: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. … I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

It heeds the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who called his movement Satyagraha-Hold on to the truth, and holds to the truth that Israel’s siege of Gaza is illegal and inhuman.

Gandhi said that the purpose of nonviolent action is to “quicken” the conscience of humankind. Through the Freedom March, humankind will not just deplore Israeli brutality but take action to stop it.

Palestinian civil society has followed in the footsteps of Mandela and Gandhi. Just as those two leaders called on international civil society to boycott the goods and institutions of their oppressors, Palestinian associations, trade unions, and mass movements have since 2005 been calling on all people of conscience to support a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel fully complies with its obligations under international law.

The Freedom March also draws inspiration from the civil rights movement in the United States.

If Israel devalues Palestinian life then internationals must both interpose their bodies to shield Palestinians from Israeli brutality and bear personal witness to the inhumanity that Palestinians daily confront.

If Israel defies international law then people of conscience must send non-violent marshals from around the world to enforce the law of the international community in Gaza. The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza will dispatch contingents from around the world to Gaza to mark the anniversary of Israel’s bloody 22-day assault on Gaza in December 2008 – January 2009.

The Freedom March takes no sides in internal Palestinian politics. It sides only with international law and the primacy of human rights.

The March is yet another link in the chain of non-violent resistance to Israel’s flagrant disregard of international law.

Citizens of the world are called upon to join ranks with Palestinians in the January 1st March to lift the inhumane siege of Gaza.

when the announcement for the march went out i wrote a critique of it, particularly about the racist way in which it seemed to be run (epitomized by the march’s first poster which featured no palestinians and just one white man–norman finkelstein). if you read that earlier post you will not be surprised to learn that with the gaza freedom march’s adoption of a palestinian platform–rather than an american platform pushed on palestinian people–finkelstein withdrew his support. here is what pulse media reported he said in response:

Norman Finkelstein’s withdrawal statement:

The original consensus of the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza was that we would limit our statement to a pair of uncontroversial, basic and complementary principles that would have the broadest possible appeal: the march to break the siege would be nonviolent and anchored in international law.

I agreed with this approach and consequent statement and decided to remove myself from the steering committee in order to invest my full energies in mobilizing for the march. During the week beginning August 30, 2009 and in a matter of days an entirely new sectarian agenda dubbed “the political context” was foisted on those who originally signed on and worked tirelessly for three months.

Because it drags in contentious issues that—however precious to different constituencies—are wholly extraneous to the narrow but critical goal of breaking the siege this new agenda is gratuitously divisive and it is almost certain that it will drastically reduce the potential reach of our original appeal.

It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition’s statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration.

In addition the tactics by which this new agenda was imposed do not bode well for the future of the coalition’s work and will likely move the coalition in an increasingly sectarian direction. I joined the coalition because I believed that an unprecedented opportunity now exists to mobilize a broad public whereby we could make a substantive and not just symbolic contribution towards breaking the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza and, accordingly, realize a genuine and not just token gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

In its present political configuration I no longer believe the coalition can achieve such a goal. Because I would loathe getting bogged down in a petty and squalid public brawl I will not comment further on this matter unless the sequence of events climaxing in my decision to resign are misrepresented by interested parties.

However I would be remiss in my moral obligations were I not humbly to apologize to those who, either coaxed by me or encouraged by my participation, gave selflessly of themselves to make the march a historic event and now feel aggrieved at the abrupt turn of events. It can only be said in extenuation that I along with many others desperately fought to preserve the ecumenical vision that originally inspired the march but the obstacles thrown in our path ultimately proved insurmountable.

problems still remain with the new statement of context. it is far from perfect. it represents, however, a significant compromise, and, more importantly, acknowledges the necessity of abiding by palestinian civil society’s goals as guided by international law. three activists, gabriel ash, mich levy and sara kershnar, authored a very important critique of this new context in electronic intifada that is worth considering for activists invested in justice for palestinian refugees and for palestine more generally:

Changing course is never easy. It would have been far better had this discussion taken place before the call went out. That, however, is a lesson for the future. The compromise led a few of the organizers to leave in anger and recriminations. Some argued that the new context document is “sectarian” and will severely damage the potential of the march. While disputes are inevitable in every political endeavor, we call on all parties to cast aside differences and arguments, to respect the compromise and unite on our common objective, ending the siege of Gaza. What is important now is getting the best and most effective march possible.

We see the context document as a thoughtful attempt to bring together for this march those of us who support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and the full objectives of Palestinian liberation — including the right of return and full and equal rights for Palestinians living in Israel — with those activists whose support for lifting the siege of Gaza is largely humanitarian. Contrary to misrepresentations, the context document does not require marchers to adhere to BDS. But as the march puts nonviolence on its banner and claims inspiration from nonviolent Palestinian resistance, it cannot, without being offensive, ignore the increasing presence and far-reaching international impact of BDS as a Palestinian campaign of nonviolent resistance that is endorsed by all factions, including Fatah and Hamas, as well as more than 100 civil society associations. The growing support for BDS among prominent Western figures and mainstream organizations belies the claim that the mere mention of it is divisive.

Nor does the document commit the marchers to support the Palestinian right of return. It does commit the marchers to recognize the Palestinian Nakba and the historical fact that the refugees’ right of return, recognized by UN resolution 194, has been denied. These refugees make up 75 percent of the population of Gaza and are the recipients of this march’s solidarity. To recognize this history does not compel one to agree to any specific resolution of the conflict. But refusing to recognize it denies the history of the Palestinian people, a denial that is inconsistent with any form of solidarity.

The new document’s only demand is the end of the siege of Gaza. There are no other demands. Nothing in it prevents activists committed to a “two-state solution” and a “Jewish state” from participating. We therefore strongly object to representing the new language as an attempt to limit the scope of the march. We take strong offense at the attempt to label the recognition of the concerns of Palestinian liberation within the context of a solidarity action as “sectarian.” We seriously doubt that the number of individuals willing to fly to Egypt and then march in Gaza, yet who refuse to recognize the history of Gaza, is very large.

We are also heartened by the addition of non-governmental partners in Gaza. As soon as the context statement was added, endorsements came from the University Teachers’ Association in Palestine, Palestinian Student’s Campaign, al-Aqsa University, Arab Cultural Forum-Gaza and al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information-Gaza. We are also encouraged by the addition of the International Solidarity Movement and support from members of the South African Palestine solidarity community. The elected government of Gaza has also endorsed the march and will now hopefully increase its assistance.

In supporting this compromise, we are mindful of the original aim of the organizers for large and “ecumenical” participation. We share that goal. However, our conversation would benefit from honesty about the meaning of “ecumenical.” It never means “everybody.” We don’t just want the maximum number of marchers; we want the maximum number that can be achieved without compromising the visions of the diverse organizers and solidarity groups participating in this particular project.

Where should the line be drawn? This is a difficult decision that haunts every political struggle and always requires deliberation, negotiation and compromise. It is misleading to frame the debate as one between those who want maximum participation and those motivated by ideology, in particular when this framing aims to delegitimize the concerns of Palestinian activists representing significant sections of Palestinian grassroots organizing. We all have political lines that we won’t cross. The lines drawn by those at the very heart of the struggle deserve our particular respect.

We now have a fair and inclusive basis for organizing the march, open to proponents of radically different political visions yet respectful of all, and in particular, respectful of Palestinian history and struggle. We must now all strive to make this march as big and as successful as possible.

but this march and is organizing, as well as the organizing around bds, has made me think a lot about what it means to act in solidarity with palestinians, or any group of people for that matter. i recently received an email from a dear friend who decided, after years of trying to persuade him, to join the academic boycott. he signed the statement, but he is still ambivalent about it as a tactic. why? because noam chomsky has not come out in support of it. and this makes me wonder a lot about why chomsky would be the one to defer to? chomsky, like norman finkelstein, are two scholars whose work i admire a great deal. their thinking and writing has influenced me tremendously over my the course of my life. but in the end there are too many barriers for me to fall in line with their thinking: particularly the fact that neither one has signed on to bds andthat neither one supports the right of return for palestinian refugees. here, for example, is chomsky speaking on the subject of sanctions in an interview with christopher j. lee:

Safundi: So you would apply “apartheid” to that broader situation?

Chomsky: I would call it a Bantustan settlement. It’s very close to that. The actions are taken with U.S. funding, crucially. U.S. diplomatic, military, and economic support are crucial. It cannot be done without that.

Safundi: And that is similar to U.S. support for South Africa during the apartheid period through the 1980s.

Chomsky: Yes. As I’m sure you know, the Reagan Administration-which is basically the current people in power, including people like Colin Powell-found ways to evade Congressional restrictions so that they continued to support the apartheid administration, almost until the end.

Safundi: Connected to that…

Chomsky: In the case of Israel, they don’t have to hide it because there are no sanctions.

Safundi: That’s my question. One of the important tactics against the apartheid government was the eventual use of sanctions. Do you see that as a possibility?

Chomsky: No. In fact I’ve been strongly against it in the case of Israel. For a number of reasons. For one thing, even in the case of South Africa, I think sanctions are a very questionable tactic. In the case of South Africa, I think they were [ultimately] legitimate because it was clear that the large majority of the population of South Africa was in favor of it.

Sanctions hurt the population. You don’t impose them unless the population is asking for them. That’s the moral issue. So, the first point in the case of Israel is that: Is the population asking for it? Well, obviously not.

But there is another point. The sanctions against South Africa were finally imposed after years, decades of organization and activism until it got to the point where people could understand why you would want to do it. So by the time sanctions were imposed, you had international corporations supporting them. You had mayors of cities getting arrested in support of them.

So calling for sanctions here, when the majority of the population doesn’t understand what you are doing, is tactically absurd-even if it were morally correct, which I don’t think it is.

The country against which the sanctions are being imposed is not calling for it.

Safundi: Palestinians aren’t calling for sanctions?

Chomsky: Well, the sanctions wouldn’t be imposed against the Palestinians, they would be imposed against Israel.

Safundi: Right…[And] Israelis aren’t calling for sanctions.

Chomsky: Furthermore, there is no need for it. We ought to call for sanctions against the United States! If the U.S. were to stop its massive support for this, it’s over. So, you don’t have to have sanctions on Israel. It’s like putting sanctions on Poland under the Russians because of what the Poles are doing. It doesn’t make sense. Here, we’re the Russians.

Israel will of course do whatever it can as long as the U.S. authorizes it. As soon as the U.S. tells it no, that’s the end. The power relations are very straight forward. It’s not pretty, but that’s the way the world works.

of course, chomsky has a point: in terms of bds the u.s. should be every bit the target. but not in lieu of the zionist entity, but rather in addition to it. but the fact that paestinians are calling for bds means that those of us who want to work in solidarity with palestinians should support that work. but the fact that some people think we should refer to two american jews on the matter of this is disturbing. would one defer to a slavemaster when abolishing slavery? would one defer to a nazi when fighting against concentration camps? would one defer to white southerners when resisting jim crow segregation in the u.s. south? i find this logic racist and deeply problematic. i’m not at all saying that the work of chomsky and finkstein is not important to read, to listen to, to consider. but i am asking people to consider the logic of looking to them as if they were the leaders of the palestinian people. if we’re looking for leaders we need not look beyond haidar eid and omar barghouti for starters. and there are thousands more where they came from.

on deleting madonna & other boycott news

although i tried to work it out so that my internet would be up and running by the time i got back to jordan, that has not turned out to be the case. i have tried two different companies here–one kuwaiti, one jordanian–and neither gives me a singal. the third and fourth option, well that’s my next post so you’ll have to wait to read about that. but all this is to day that for the next couple of weeks in particular, if you want to follow boycott news you should follow the u.s. campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel site via your news readers and twitter. many of you know that i also do that website; given that internet cafe time is challenging during ramadan (don’t forget to boycott those zionist terrorist colonist dates! ) for a number of reasons, on days when i can only manage a couple of hours that’s the blog i’ll be updating first.

but while i am on the subject of boycott i have a confession to make. since i was about fourteen years old i have had a secret love of madonna’s music. not all of it. not all of the time. but it was one of my closeted guilty pleasures in life. (i don’t have many.) over the past few years, enabled by the invention of mp3s and also the fact that i move so much, i no longer have any cds, just mp3 files of music i like (most of which is political). so, when macy gray had her event with the zionist terrorist colonist consolate in los angeles last year, i deleted her from my computer. likewise i did the same for madonna a few weeks ago. and here’s why:

1. During Monday’s whitewashing concert appearance in Tel-Aviv, Madonna made empty references to peace, before wrapping herself in the Israeli flag:

“I truly believe that Israel is the energy center of the world. And I also believe that if we can all live together in harmony in this place, then we can live in peace all over the world.”

Meanwhile in Gaza on Monday, fishermen were attacked by Israel “Defense” Forces for…fishing. Apparently, they failed to live “in harmony” well enough.

here is the above-referenced appalling video (if you can hold your cookies…) :

2. Any political malaise that she may have risked evoking among Israelis dissipated when she was handed an Israeli flag by one fan. Madonna used it to make her final parade on the stage draping herself in Israel’s national blue-and-white colours and displaying where her sympathies lie.

There was certainly none of the controversy she had aroused on her previous two stops, in Romania and Bulgaria.

In Sofia, the Orthodox clergy berated her for showing disrespect to Christianity. In Bucharest, she was booed for criticising discrimination against the Roma (gypsies) of Eastern Europe.

Midway through the show, breaking away from the carefully scripted performance, Madonna expressed her deep affection for Israel: “I shouldn’t have stayed so long away,” she told the adoring crowd. Her last concert here was in 1993.

The 51-year-old entertainer has long claimed a special bond with the Jewish state. For more than a decade, she’s been flirting with the Kabbalah, the essence of Jewish mysticism, and has even adopted a Hebrew name, Esther.

In the run-up to the first of her two shows, Israeli radio stations played Madonna hits round the clock. On Army Radio, a DJ quipped, “Tonight, Aunt Esther is playing at Yarkon Park.”

Brought up as a Roman Catholic, Madonna wrote in advance of her Israeli tour in an article for Israel’s best-selling newspaper, Yediot Achronot, that the study of Kabbalah helps her understand life better.

3. Madonna is reportedly spending the Sabbath eve at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home.

Y-Net reported Friday that Madonna will light the sabbath candles and will spend time with Netanyahu’s children at the official residence in Jerusalem.

The pop singer, who sold out two Tel Aviv concerts, this week toured Jerusalem’s Old City and Tsfat, the seat of Jewish mysticism in northern Israel.

and this is why i’m psyched about artists against apartheid’s new propabanda site (basically a s^(* list of musicians who don’t abide by the boycott):

The artists listed here have committed to performing in Apartheid Israel, in disregard of the Cultural Boycott of the State’s ongoing human rights violations, apartheid rule, and expropriation of land from indigenous inhabitants.

To cover its extreme racism, massacres, and flagrant violations of Human Rights and International Law, the Zionist State of Israel relies heavily on propaganda “Branding Efforts”, spending Millions of Dollars per year on public relations campaigns, and encouraging “whitewashing” events such as concerts by these International Artists:

Leonard Cohen
Sponsor: Israel Discount Bank (which also finances settlements on stolen Palestinian land)

MGMT

Madonna

Faith No More

Dinosaur Jr.

Lady Gaga

Kaiser Chiefs

Calexico

Depeche Mode

Pet Shop Boys

Macy Gray

Suzanne Vega

Steve Vai

These artists may be drawn by extraordinarily high performance fees, or the desire to “sing for peace”. However, the cultural effect of their appearance is to assist the Israeli ministries in their efforts to normalize of Israeli Apartheid, while disregarding the non-violent struggle for equal rights and justice in Palestine-Israel.

If you are an artist interested in coordinating with the non-violent resistance to colonialism and apartheid, please refer to the Guidelines for Applying the International Cultural Boycott of Israel recommended by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) before booking your tour.

i can proudly say i do not have a single mp3 song with any of the above apartheid supporting musicians.

and, the other big story on the boycott news front–with those adhering to it and respecting it, that is–is about the toronto film festival:

The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation

An Open Letter to the Toronto International Film Festival:

September 2, 2009

As members of the Canadian and international film, culture and media arts communities, we are deeply disturbed by the Toronto International Film Festival’s decision to host a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv. We protest that TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.

In 2008, the Israeli government and Canadian partners Sidney Greenberg of Astral Media, David Asper of Canwest Global Communications and Joel Reitman of MIJO Corporation launched “Brand Israel,” a million dollar media and advertising campaign aimed at changing Canadian perceptions of Israel. Brand Israel would take the focus off Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its aggressive wars, and refocus it on achievements in medicine, science and culture. An article in Canadian Jewish News quotes Israeli consul general Amir Gissin as saying that Toronto would be the test city for a promotion that could then be deployed around the world. According to Gissin, the culmination of the campaign would be a major Israeli presence at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. (Andy Levy-Alzenkopf, “Brand Israel set to launch in GTA,” Canadian Jewish News, August 28, 2008.)

In 2009, TIFF announced that it would inaugurate its new City to City program with a focus on Tel Aviv. According to program notes by Festival co-director and City to City programmer Cameron Bailey, “The ten films in this year’s City to City programme will showcase the complex currents running through today’s Tel Aviv. Celebrating its 100th birthday in 2009, Tel Aviv is a young, dynamic city that, like Toronto, celebrates its diversity.”

The emphasis on ‘diversity’ in City to City is empty given the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program. Furthermore, what this description does not say is that Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the city of Jaffa, Palestine’s main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population. This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries, including Canada. Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.

We do not protest the individual Israeli filmmakers included in City to City, nor do we in any way suggest that Israeli films should be unwelcome at TIFF. However, especially in the wake of this year’s brutal assault on Gaza, we object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf of what South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann have all characterized as an apartheid regime.

This letter was drafted by the following ad hoc committee:

Udi Aloni, filmmaker, Israel; Elle Flanders, filmmaker, Canada; Richard Fung, video artist, Canada; John Greyson, filmmaker, Canada; Naomi Klein, writer and filmmaker, Canada; Kathy Wazana, filmmaker, Canada; Cynthia Wright, writer and academic, Canada; b h Yael, film and video artist, Canada

Endorsed by:

Ahmad Abdalla, Filmmaker, Egypt

Hany Abu-Assad, Filmmaker, Palestine

Mark Achbar, Filmmaker, Canada

Zackie Achmat, AIDS activist, South Africa

Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, Filmmaker, Jerusalem

Anthony Arnove, Publisher and Producer, USA

Ruba Atiyeh, Documentary Director, Lebanon

Joslyn Barnes, Writer and Producer, USA

John Berger, Author, France

Dionne Brand, Poet/Writer, Canada

Judith Butler, Professor, USA

David Byrne, Musician, USA

Noam Chomsky, Professor, USA

Guy Davidi Director, Israel

Na-iem Dollie, Journalist/Writer, South Africa

Igor Drljaca, Filmmaker, Canada

Eve Ensler, Playwright, Author, USA

Eyal Eithcowich, Director, Israel

Sophie Fiennes, Filmmaker, UK

Peter Fitting, Professor, Canada

Jane Fonda, Actor and Author, USA

Danny Glover, Filmmaker and Actor, USA

Noam Gonick, Director, Canada

Malcolm Guy, Filmmaker, Canada

Mike Hoolboom, Filmmaker, Canada

Annemarie Jacir, Filmmaker, Palestine

Fredric Jameson, Literary Critic, USA

Juliano Mer Khamis, Filmmaker, Jenin/Haifa

Bonnie Sherr Klein Filmmaker, Canada

Paul Laverty, Producer, UK

Min Sook Lee, Filmmaker, Canada

Paul Lee, Filmmaker, Canada

Yael Lerer, publisher, Tel Aviv

Jack Lewis, Filmmaker, South Africa

Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK

Arab Lotfi, Filmmaker, Egypt/Lebanon

Kyo Maclear, Author, Toronto

Mahmood Mamdani, Professor, USA

Fatima Mawas, Filmmaker, Australia

Tessa McWatt, Author, Canada and UK

Cornelius Moore, Film Distributor, USA

Yousry Nasrallah, Director, Egypt

Rebecca O’Brien, Producer, UK

Pratibha Parmar, Producer/Director, UK

Jeremy Pikser, Screenwriter, USA

John Pilger, Filmmaker, UK

Shai Carmeli Pollak, Filmmaker, Israel

Ian Iqbal Rashid, Filmmaker, Canada

Judy Rebick, Professor, Canada

David Reeb, Artist, Tel Aviv

B. Ruby Rich, Critic and Professor, USA

Wallace Shawn, Playwright, Actor, USA

Eyal Sivan, Filmmaker and Scholar, Paris/London/Sderot

Elia Suleiman, Fimmlaker, Nazareth/Paris/New York

Eran Torbiner, Filmmaker, Israel

Alice Walker, Writer, USA

Thomas Waugh, Professor, Canada

Howard Zinn, Writer, USA

Slavoj Zizek, Professor, Slovenia

and if you want a real treat check out an amazing artist and musician who has an amazing vision and history. here is an interview with the incomparable harry belefonte and avi lewis on al jazeera’s fault lines:

yes, boycott works.

a couple of weeks ago i posted about the campaign to write to amnesty international in order to get them to comply with the boycott and pull out their funding of a leonard cohen concert in the zionist entity. well, it worked. here is the official statement reporting this victory from the palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel:

Amnesty International has announced today that it will abstain from any involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert in Tel Aviv and will not be party to any fund that benefits from the concert‘s proceeds. A number of media accounts had reported that Amnesty International was to manage or otherwise partner in a fund created from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel that would be used to benefit Israeli and Palestinian groups. Amnesty International’s announcement today followed an international outcry over the human rights organization’s reported involvement in the Leonard Cohen concert fund, and an earlier international call for Cohen to boycott apartheid Israel.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

A statement confirming Amnesty‘s withdrawal has now been posted on the Amnesty International website.

boycott, divestment, and sanctions is picking up steam in british unions as well as asa winstanley reported in electronic intifada a couple of weeks ago:

The international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has won several important victories in recent months. At this summer’s trade union conferences in Britain, BDS activists have made significant progress.

While the campaign has been building momentum in unions globally since the 2005 Palestinian call for BDS, Israel’s winter invasion of Gaza has spurred several trade unions and union federations in Britain and Ireland to pass motions more explicitly in favor of BDS. Several are calling for BDS for the first time.

Tom Hickey, a member of the University and College Union’s (UCU) national executive committee, said, “The question of the moral rightness or wrongness [of BDS against Israel] has effectively already been decided.”

Although the Trade Union Congress (the British union federation) has not yet passed a BDS motion, affiliated unions have begun taking up the Palestinian call themselves. So far this summer, the public sector union PCS, the UCU and the Fire Brigades Union have all passed strong motions explicitly calling for a general policy of boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli companies and government sanctions against the state.

Unions such as public sector union UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, USDAW and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have this summer passed softer motions calling for elements of BDS. These are usually calls for a boycott of settlement goods, or for the government to suspend arms sales to Israel. The CWU and others have condemned the infamous 13 January 2008 statement of the Israeli trade union federation in support of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which read: “The Histadrut recognizes the urgent need for the State of Israel to operate against the command and control centers of the organizational terror network …”

In addition, a report has been circulating on the Internet that the rail workers’ union, the RMT, has reversed an earlier policy of “solidarity not boycott” and passed a motion in favor of some sort of BDS policy at their July Annual General Meeting. The official AGM report has yet to be released to the general public, but the RMT’s media office confirmed the report was probably accurate. However, they did not return calls for official confirmation in time for publication.

and folks in ann arbor are taking the bds campaign to their local city council making important arguments about americans funding apartheid in palestine (not to mention occupations and massacres in afghanistan, iraq, and pakistan) rather than using those funds to rebuild cities like detroit where a majority african americans live. palestine think tank posted a video of their city council hearing (and you can use this model to do the same at your municipal level):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

there is also good news about a british bank, blackrock, divesting from the africa-israel company (that has a horrific record of land theft as well as massacres in palestine as well as in africa, as the name indicates):

When the British Embassy in Tel Aviv was looking for new premises and was offered the opportunity of occupying a building owned by the investment company Africa-Israel Investments, the ambassador refrained. The reason was that the company was also responsible for settlements on the occupied West Bank. Africa-Israel Investments’ main owner is Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev.

Now the UK bank BlackRock has followed in the footsteps of the ambassador.

The bank was for a while the second largest shareholder in the Israeli investment company. Africa-Israel Investments is, among other things, in on the construction of the settlement Ma’aleh Adumim (above). The construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian territory is in conflict with international law.

It was Norwatch who this past spring revealed BlackRock’s investments in the controversial company and how private investors in Norway could invest in the project by means of the fund BlackRock Emerging Europe.

This was possible through Norwegian insurance company Storebrand, Norwegian-Swedish bank Skandiabanken, and the Norwegian-Danish Danica Pensjon.

But after all 3 banks have taken action, the British bank has now announced its divestment from the Israeli company. This must have happened sometime between June and August, possibly as late as this week.

“We have received confirmation from BlackRock that Africa-Israel Investments no longer is part of their portfolio,” Johnny Anderson, Information Manager of Skandiabanken, confirmed to Norwatch. The confirmation of the divestment was sent to Skandiabanken the day before yesterday, on 18 August.

“The way I interpret the e-mail I have received, Africa-Israel is no longer to be found in any of BlackRock’s funds,” Anderson said.

The e-mail from BlackRock to Skandiabanken was sent after the Swedish-Norwegian bank had approached BlackRock with regard to the controversial Israel involvement. That is the first time that Skandiabanken had contacted BlackRock about the case. Also the bank Danica Pensjon end of last week contacted BlackRock about the matter, confirmed Geir Wik, Sales and Marketing Director of Danica Pensjon to Norwatch yesterday.

and the big surprise was to open my local newspaper the other morning, the los angeles times, where i found a prominent op-ed from a zionist terrorist colonist advocating the boycott of the zionist entity. the article is generally good, though this professor, neve gordon, still believes in zionism and his right to be a colonist on palestinian land. but given that he came this far, perhaps an acknowledgment that he does not have a right to land that once belonged to palestinians who are now refugees will be forthcoming. here is the op-ed:

Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push for an international boycott of Israel. Films have been withdrawn from Israeli film festivals, Leonard Cohen is under fire around the world for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv, and Oxfam has severed ties with a celebrity spokesperson, a British actress who also endorses cosmetics produced in the occupied territories. Clearly, the campaign to use the kind of tactics that helped put an end to the practice of apartheid in South Africa is gaining many followers around the world.

Not surprisingly, many Israelis — even peaceniks — aren’t signing on. A global boycott can’t help but contain echoes of anti-Semitism. It also brings up questions of a double standard (why not boycott China for its egregious violations of human rights?) and the seemingly contradictory position of approving a boycott of one’s own nation.

It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel. But today, as I watch my two boys playing in the yard, I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself.

I say this because Israel has reached a historic crossroads, and times of crisis call for dramatic measures. I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country’s future.

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews — whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel — are citizens of the state of Israel.

The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.

There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal.

The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.

The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state.

Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, “on the ground,” the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.

Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.

For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organizations from all over the world formulated the 10-point Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign meant to pressure Israel in a “gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity.” For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel in order to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not.

Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians — my two boys included — does not grow up in an apartheid regime.

nevertheless his op-ed is getting quite a bit of airtime in the zionist entity’s media. thus, yet another sign of their fear of how much the boycott campaign is working. there was one article in today’s ha’aretz in which the education minister slammed gordon. and los angeles jews seem to be foaming at the mouth as this second article in ha’aretz today shows that they want to boycott a university in the zionist entity (a win-win situation! ) there was yet another article responding to gordon’s piece in a zionist rag called the jewish journal, which takes the threats even further: to boycott he arabs.

gordon’s ben gurion university is no different than any other university in the zionist entity that participates in the production of knowledge that enables the colonization of palestine. recently soas authored a report on the extent of tel aviv university’s collaboration in the savaging of gaza (if you follow the link you can download the entire study):

As part of Tel Aviv’s centenary celebration, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London hosted a Tel Aviv University Special Lecture Series from January to March 2009.

Taking place in the midst of Israel’s war on Gaza — which had already mobilized SOAS students to organize a number of activities in solidarity with Gaza, including the first student occupation in the UK — students and a number of lecturers expressed their opposition to the lecture series.

The student union overwhelmingly passed a motion criticizing the lecture series’ attempt to whitewash Tel Aviv’s colonial past and present and called for the end of SOAS’s collaboration with Tel Aviv University (TAU) in hosting the series on the grounds of its role in giving key legal, technological and strategic support for maintaining and expanding Israel’s colonial occupation. The School’s Director, Professor Paul Webley, opposed the cancellation and defended the continuation of the lecture series by invoking a prerogative of freedom of speech and citing the pedagogic value of diversities of opinion. Conspicuously absent in the Director’s defense was any engagement with the nature and scope of TAU’s research portfolio.

In response to the director’s failure to acknowledge the serious implications of collaboration with TAU that undermined the reputation, integrity and fundamental ethical principles of SOAS, the SOAS Palestine Society prepared a briefing paper for him and the Governing Body outlining TAU’s intensive, purposive and open institutional contributions to the Israeli military. While the signatories of the briefing paper recognized the importance of freedom of speech, they were also keenly aware of the need to uphold the rights of the oppressed and expressed that no right reigns absolute over the fundamental right to life. It is precisely therefore that it is wholly untenable that partnerships with institutions facilitating, advocating and justifying ongoing war crimes can be legitimized with recourse to an ideal of academic freedom.

compare soas to harvard university’s invitation to a bona fide war criminal of the zionist entity last month as maryam monalisa gharavi and anat matar wrote in electronic intifada last month:

On 9 July Harvard University’s Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) invited Colonel Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, former Israeli military legal adviser, to their online Humanitarian Law and Policy Forum. The stated aim was to bring “objective” discussion to the principle of distinction in international humanitarian law, or what the forum organizers called “combat in civilian population centers and the failure of fighters to distinguish themselves from the civilian population.”

Although billed as a lecturer in the Law Faculty at Tel Aviv University — and therefore as a detached humanitarian law analyst — Colonel Sharvit-Baruch was in fact deeply involved in Israel’s three-week onslaught in Gaza in December and January, that counted its 1,505th victim found under rubble earlier this month. With the devastating operation condemned and mourned worldwide, many asked why a ranking member of an occupying army that flouts its legal obligations should herself receive safe havens at two major universities.

What troubled many of the 200 or so participants who “attended” the talk via a virtual chatroom was that Sharvit-Baruch was cut off from public or legal scrutiny as she relayed her PowerPoint presentation. Questions were posed by the moderators, sanitized of any critical content. Yet the indisputable fact is that the army for which Sharvit-Baruch worked has been accused by all major human rights organizations of committing war crimes in Gaza. Some wondered why Sharvit-Baruch was being given the opportunity to offer a carefully prepared presentation unchallenged in an academic setting, rather than giving testimony to a tribunal or inquiry such as that being conducted Judge Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist heading an independent fact-finding mission into human rights violations during Israel’s attack at the request of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Since the event organizers did not ask pointed questions about Colonel Sharvit-Baruch’s actual role in Gaza, it is worth doing so here. As head of the International Law department (ILD) at the Israeli Military Advocate General’s office, Sharvit-Baruch is known for green-lighting the bombing of a police graduation ceremony in Gaza that killed dozens of civil policemen. This was no ordinary airstrike. It was premised on a legal sleight-of-hand: that even traffic cops in Gaza could be considered “legitimate targets” under international law. In a conversation with conscripts at a military prep academy in Israel, school director Danny Zamir noted, “I was terribly surprised by the enthusiasm surrounding the killing of the Gaza traffic police on the first day of the operation. They took out 180 traffic cops. As a pilot, I would have questioned that.”

Further, the Israeli army used heavy artillery and white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza, against the UNRWA’s headquarters and a UN school in Beit Lahiya. As reported by Judge Goldstone, Gazans trying to relay their civilian status were also hit. Even though the Israeli military tried several times to deny its use, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on white phosphorous use in Gaza quotes an unnamed Israeli official: “at least one month before [white phosphorus] was used a legal team had been consulted on the implications.” HRW found that “in violation of the laws of war, the [Israeli army] generally failed to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm” and “used white phosphorus in an indiscriminate manner causing civilian death and injury.”

Such reckless disregard for the lives of civilians and pathological cover-ups of military operations are recognized by many Israelis within the system itself. According to one Israeli jurist speaking to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the ILD is considered “more militant than any other legal agency in Israel, and willing to adopt the most flexible interpretations of the law in order to justify the [Israel army’s] actions.” Although the ILD personnel “are now very proud of their influence upon the combat” in Gaza, human rights groups have stated that “residents weren’t advised then as to which places were safe, and the roads by which they fled were bombed and turned into death traps.”

One of the most indelible perspectives about Israel’s legal gymnastics to justify its actions comes from Colonel Sharvit-Baruch’s predecessor, Daniel Reisner. “What is being done today is a revision of international law,” Reisner has said, “and if you do something long enough, the world will accept it. All of international law is built on that an act which is forbidden today can become permissible, if enough states do it.” In expressing how the ILD moves forward by turning back the pages of legal jurisdiction, Reisner says, “We invented the doctrine of the preemptive pinpoint strike, we had to promote it, and in the beginning there were protrusions which made it difficult to fit it easily into the mold of legality. Eight years later, it’s in the middle of the realm of legitimacy.”

Sharvit-Baruch herself explained her vision of international law at a presentation for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: “International law is developed according to practices. It changes based on what is happening in the field. These laws must be based on precedents, what already exists. There is flexibility in every law.” By this law of flexibility, the more aberrations of international law a state can legitimize, the more hoary actions it can continue to execute and justify.

Since the attack on Gaza, numerous testimonies of Israeli soldiers published in Israel, have corroborated the accounts of Palestinian witnesses and human rights organizations that serious war crimes were endemic.

Despite the blunt admissions of Israeli soldiers widely published in the Israeli press, it was clear from her calm presentation that Sharvit-Baruch and her cohort live in their own rhetorical universe where even language is assaulted. In the Colonel’s own terminology, non-existent vocabulary in international law such as “capacity builders” and “revolving doors” is coined to pass over accepted terms such as “civilians” and “non-combatants.” Like the US government’s “torture memo” authors — who in contrast to Israel’s were not uniformed ranking members of the army — the Israeli military attempted to reclassify a “civilian” in a manner making it easier to strip them of protections provided by international humanitarian law. “Architecture of words,” said one participant

Despite all this, by her own standards, Sharvit-Baruch and her team could not be faulted for their efficiency: in Gaza, banning all media from entering; assaulting the population with air missiles, sniper ground troops, and white phosphorus; condemning all criticism of military actions as contrary to state security; keeping a chin above the law; attaining a teaching position at Tel Aviv University and finally a prestigious opportunity to address Harvard students and faculty.

but in england they are far more advanced than the united states when it comes to responding to war crimes against palestinians. consider the new (albeit partial) arms embargo against the zionist entity as a penalty for its war crimes in gaza as ian black reported in the guardian:

Britain has revoked export licences for weapons on Israeli navy missile boats because of their use during the offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The licences apparently covered spare parts for guns on the Sa’ar 4.5 ships, which reportedly fired missiles and artillery shells into the Palestinian coastal territory during the three-week war, which started in late December.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, shrugged off what he called one of “many embargoes”. The foreign office in London insisted the rare move did not constitute an embargo but was the application of normal UK and EU export licensing criteria. Still, it linked the decision directly to Operation Cast Lead – the Israeli codename for the attacks – and described it as similar to action taken against Russia and Georgia after their conflict last year.

A spokesman for Amnesty International, citing the “weight of evidence” that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, said: “It’s a step forward but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.”

Israel’s defence ministry made no comment but Lieberman told state radio: “We’ve had many embargoes in the past. This shouldn’t bother us.”

Israel gets the bulk of its military requirements from the US, more than 95% according to some estimates. The UK accounts for less than 1% or about £30m worth of exports a year.

but there is also more bds activism emanating from the zionist entity itself, particularly in the queer community as the monthly review zine reported today:

Contrary to the mediated attempt to describe Israel as a force of liberation and progress, we see objecting to apartheid Israel as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people, including LGBTQ Palestinians. LGBTQ Palestinians are not going to be “saved” by a so-called gay-friendly Zionist state. Organized LGBTQ Palestinians reject the myth of Israel as an “oasis of tolerance.”

We are disturbed by the cynical manipulation of these deaths to bolster support for the Israeli state and its violent policies. When Israeli politicians say that this is an unprecedented level of violence, and promise to create safety for LGBTQ people in Israel, they are using the promise of safety to hide the violence and domination that is foundational to the Israeli state. When Zionist groups emphasize the growing gay nightlife in Tel Aviv, they are using the illusion of safety to draw support and funding to Israel from liberal queer and Jewish people around the world. We reject these lies, as well as the manipulation of our communities for profit and to increase military and political support for Israel.

Just as we reject the lie that Zionism is premised on the safety of Jews, we reject the lie that Israel prioritizes and values the safety of LGBTQ citizens of Israel. The safety Israel claims to extend to LGBTQ people is false; we do not accept an illusion of safety for some at the expense of self determination for others. No matter who Zionism claims to save or value, nothing can justify the targeting, suppression and oppression of the Palestinian people.

We call on LGBTQ communities to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israeli violence. Putting words into action, we call on LGBTQ communities across the world to endorse the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with full international law, including an immediate end to the occupation and colonization of Palestine, a dismantling of the wall, an end to war crimes against the people of Gaza, and for the Palestinian Right of Return.

Specifically, we call on these communities to boycott international LGBTQ events held inside of Israel; to abstain from touring Israel as is marketed to LGBTQ people — with the exception of solidarity visits to Palestine; and to counter and boycott the promotion of Israeli LGBTQ tourism, and Israeli cultural and academic events in the countries in which we reside — unless they are in clear and undivided solidarity with Palestine. By these actions, we show a commitment to justice and humanity consistent with our outrage against this hateful and deadly attack that occurred in Tel Aviv.

This statement was drafted by members of the following organizations:

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Toronto
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

and

The following BDS activists from Israel:

Ayala Shani
Edo Medicks
Emily Schaeffer
Hamutal Erato
Leiser Peles
Liad Kantorowicz
Moran Livnat
Nitzan Aviv
Noa Abend
Rotem Biran
Roy Wagner
Segev (Lilach) Ben- David
Sonya Soloviov
Tal Shapira
Yossef/a Mekyton
Yossi Wolfson
Yotam Ben-David

these actions are all essential in promoting the reality that bds is the only thing that is breaking the zionist entity and that will continue to help it fall to its knees. faris giacaman’s brilliant piece in electronic intifada illustrates precisely why bds is the best mode of solidarity among activists who are against apartheid in palestine:

Upon finding out that I am Palestinian, many people I meet at college in the United States are eager to inform me of various activities that they have participated in that promote “coexistence” and “dialogue” between both sides of the “conflict,” no doubt expecting me to give a nod of approval. However, these efforts are harmful and undermine the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel — the only way of pressuring Israel to cease its violations of Palestinians’ rights.

When I was a high school student in Ramallah, one of the better known “people-to-people” initiatives, Seeds of Peace, often visited my school, asking students to join their program. Almost every year, they would send a few of my classmates to a summer camp in the US with a similar group of Israeli students. According to the Seeds of Peace website, at the camp they are taught “to develop empathy, respect, and confidence as well as leadership, communication and negotiation skills — all critical components that will facilitate peaceful coexistence for the next generation.” They paint quite a rosy picture, and most people in college are very surprised to hear that I think such activities are misguided at best, and immoral, at worst. Why on earth would I be against “coexistence,” they invariably ask?

During the last few years, there have been growing calls to bring to an end Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people through an international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). One of the commonly-held objections to the boycott is that it is counter-productive, and that “dialogue” and “fostering coexistence” is much more constructive than boycotts.

With the beginning of the Oslo accords in 1993, there has been an entire industry that works toward bringing Israelis and Palestinians together in these “dialogue” groups. The stated purpose of such groups is the creating of understanding between “both sides of the conflict,” in order to “build bridges” and “overcome barriers.” However, the assumption that such activities will help facilitate peace is not only incorrect, but is actually morally lacking.

The presumption that dialogue is needed in order to achieve peace completely ignores the historical context of the situation in Palestine. It assumes that both sides have committed, more or less, an equal amount of atrocities against one another, and are equally culpable for the wrongs that have been done. It is assumed that not one side is either completely right or completely wrong, but that both sides have legitimate claims that should be addressed, and certain blind spots that must be overcome. Therefore, both sides must listen to the “other” point of view, in order to foster understanding and communication, which would presumably lead to “coexistence” or “reconciliation.”

Such an approach is deemed “balanced” or “moderate,” as if that is a good thing. However, the reality on the ground is vastly different than the “moderate” view of this so-called “conflict.” Even the word “conflict” is misleading, because it implies a dispute between two symmetric parties. The reality is not so; it is not a case of simple misunderstanding or mutual hatred which stands in the way of peace. The context of the situation in Israel/Palestine is that of colonialism, apartheid and racism, a situation in which there is an oppressor and an oppressed, a colonizer and a colonized.

In cases of colonialism and apartheid, history shows that colonial regimes do not relinquish power without popular struggle and resistance, or direct international pressure. It is a particularly naive view to assume that persuasion and “talking” will convince an oppressive system to give up its power.

The apartheid regime in South Africa, for instance, was ended after years of struggle with the vital aid of an international campaign of sanctions, divestments and boycotts. If one had suggested to the oppressed South Africans living in bantustans to try and understand the other point of view (i.e. the point of view of South African white supremacists), people would have laughed at such a ridiculous notion. Similarly, during the Indian struggle for emancipation from British colonial rule, Mahatma Gandhi would not have been venerated as a fighter for justice had he renounced satyagraha — “holding firmly to the truth,” his term for his nonviolent resistance movement — and instead advocated for dialogue with the occupying British colonialists in order to understand their side of the story.

Now, it is true that some white South Africans stood in solidarity with the oppressed black South Africans, and participated in the struggle against apartheid. And there were, to be sure, some British dissenters to their government’s colonial policies. But those supporters explicitly stood alongside the oppressed with the clear objective of ending oppression, of fighting the injustices perpetrated by their governments and representatives. Any joint gathering of both parties, therefore, can only be morally sound when the citizens of the oppressive state stand in solidarity with the members of the oppressed group, not under the banner of “dialogue” for the purpose of “understanding the other side of the story.” Dialogue is only acceptable when done for the purpose of further understanding the plight of the oppressed, not under the framework of having “both sides heard.”

It has been argued, however, by the Palestinian proponents of these dialogue groups, that such activities may be used as a tool — not to promote so-called “understanding,” — but to actually win over Israelis to the Palestinian struggle for justice, by persuading them or “having them recognize our humanity.”

However, this assumption is also naive. Unfortunately, most Israelis have fallen victim to the propaganda that the Zionist establishment and its many outlets feed them from a young age. Moreover, it will require a huge, concerted effort to counter this propaganda through persuasion. For example, most Israelis will not be convinced that their government has reached a level of criminality that warrants a call for boycott. Even if they are logically convinced of the brutalities of Israeli oppression, it will most likely not be enough to rouse them into any form of action against it. This has been proven to be true time and again, evident in the abject failure of such dialogue groups to form any comprehensive anti-occupation movement ever since their inception with the Oslo process. In reality, nothing short of sustained pressure — not persuasion — will make Israelis realize that Palestinian rights have to be rectified. That is the logic of the BDS movement, which is entirely opposed to the false logic of dialogue.

Based on an unpublished 2002 report by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last October that “between 1993 and 2000 [alone], Western governments and foundations spent between $20 million and $25 million on the dialogue groups.” A subsequent wide-scale survey of Palestinians who participated in the dialogue groups revealed that this great expenditure failed to produce “a single peace activist on either side.” This affirms the belief among Palestinians that the entire enterprise is a waste of time and money.

The survey also revealed that the Palestinian participants were not fully representative of their society. Many participants tended to be “children or friends of high-ranking Palestinian officials or economic elites. Only seven percent of participants were refugee camp residents, even though they make up 16 percent of the Palestinian population.” The survey also found that 91 percent of Palestinian participants no longer maintained ties with Israelis they met. In addition, 93 percent were not approached with follow-up camp activity, and only five percent agreed the whole ordeal helped “promote peace culture and dialogue between participants.”

Despite the resounding failure of these dialogue projects, money continues to be invested in them. As Omar Barghouti, one of the founding members of the BDS movement in Palestine, explained in The Electronic Intifada, “there have been so many attempts at dialogue since 1993 … it became an industry — we call it the peace industry.”

This may be partly attributed to two factors. The dominant factor is the useful role such projects play in public relations. For example, the Seeds of Peace website boosts its legitimacy by featuring an impressive array of endorsements by popular politicians and authorities, such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, George Mitchell, Shimon Peres, George Bush, Colin Powell and Tony Blair, amongst others. The second factor is the need of certain Israeli “leftists” and “liberals” to feel as if they are doing something admirable to “question themselves,” while in reality they take no substantive stand against the crimes that their government commits in their name. The politicians and Western governments continue to fund such projects, thereby bolstering their images as supporters of “coexistence,” and the “liberal” Israeli participants can exonerate themselves of any guilt by participating in the noble act of “fostering peace.” A symbiotic relationship, of sorts.

The lack of results from such initiatives is not surprising, as the stated objectives of dialogue and “coexistence” groups do not include convincing Israelis to help Palestinians gain the respect of their inalienable rights. The minimum requirement of recognizing Israel’s inherently oppressive nature is absent in these dialogue groups. Rather, these organizations operate under the dubious assumption that the “conflict” is very complex and multifaceted, where there are “two sides to every story,” and each narrative has certain valid claims as well as biases.

As the authoritative call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel makes plain, any joint Palestinian-Israeli activities — whether they be film screenings or summer camps — can only be acceptable when their stated objective is to end, protest, and/or raise awareness of the oppression of the Palestinians.

Any Israeli seeking to interact with Palestinians, with the clear objective of solidarity and helping them to end oppression, will be welcomed with open arms. Caution must be raised, however, when invitations are made to participate in a dialogue between “both sides” of the so-called “conflict.” Any call for a “balanced” discourse on this issue — where the motto “there are two sides to every story” is revered almost religiously — is intellectually and morally dishonest, and ignores the fact that, when it comes to cases of colonialism, apartheid, and oppression, there is no such thing as “balance.” The oppressor society, by and large, will not give up its privileges without pressure. This is why the BDS campaign is such an important instrument of change.

for those who feel inspired to carry on the bds campaign there is a new campaign to initiate. you can start with locating where wine from the zionist entity is sold, which is, of course, made from stolen grapes in from occupied palestine and syria:

Israel exports roughly $22 million dollars worth of wine a year, according to the Central Statistics Bureau.

Founded in 2002, the family-owned Pelter winery in the Golan Heights benefits from the cool climate and water-rich soil of the plateau, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981 – a move rejected by the United Nations.

Sam Pelter, whose son Tal founded the winery after extensive wine-making studies in Australia, says he combines Australian techniques and technology with Golan grapes. His wines sell at $18-$50 a bottle and are sold in the United States and Europe.

Some 18-20 percent of Israeli wine comes from the Golan, according to wine critic Rogov, though wines made on disputed land can sometimes invite controversy.

Last December, Syria protested to UN leaders that Israel had distributed Golan wine as year-end holiday gifts to UN staff. In 2006, Israel complained that Sweden was labelling Golan wines as coming from Israeli-occupied Syrian territory.

Israeli settlers also make wine on Arab land in the West Bank, sometimes drawing boycotts by peace activists.

Political sensitivities have not stopped Pelter’s wines making a splash abroad.

more reasons to boycott the zionist entity

last week palestinian university students in gaza showed extraordinary solidarity by coming together and authoring a boycott statement. if only palestinian students in the west bank could show the same moral courage to come together for such a document:

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) calls upon freedom-loving students all over the world to stand in solidarity with us by boycotting Israeli academic institutions for their complicity in perpetuating Israel’s illegal military occupation and apartheid system. We note the historic action taken by thousands of courageous students of British and American universities in occupying their campuses in a show of solidarity with the brutally oppressed Palestinian people in Gaza. We also deeply appreciate the decision by Hampshire College to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. Such pressure on Israel is the most likely to contribute to ending its denial of our rights, including the right to education.

In this regard, we fully endorse the call for boycott issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, PACBI, in 2004.[i]

We emphasize our endorsement of the BDS call issued by more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in July 2005.[ii]

We also support the Call from Gaza issued by a group of civil society organizations in the second week of the Gaza Massacre (Gaza 2009).[iii]

Our goal, as students, is to play a role in promoting the global BDS movement which has gained an unprecedented momentum as a result of the latest genocidal war launched by Israel against the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. We address our fellow students to take whatever step possible, however small, to stand up for justice, international law and the inalienable rights of the indigenous people of Palestine by applying effective and sustainable pressure on Israel, particularly in the form of BDS, to help put an end to its colonial and racist regime over the Palestinians.

We strongly urge our fellow university students all over the world to:

(1) Support all the efforts aimed at boycotting Israeli academic institutions;

(2) Pressure university administrations to divest from Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies;

(3) Promote student union resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form;

(4) Support the Palestinian student movement directly.

To break the medieval and barbaric Israeli siege of Gaza, people of conscience need to move with a sense of urgency and purpose. Israel must be compelled to pay a heavy price for its war crimes and crimes against humanity through the intensification of the boycott against it and against institutions and corporations complicit in its crimes. As in the anti-apartheid struggle in solidarity with the black majority in South Africa, students concerned about justice and sustainable peace have a moral duty to support our boycott efforts.

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)

Endorsed by:

* Progressive Student Union Block;
* Fateh Youth Organization;
* Progressive Student Labor Front;
* Islamic Block;
* Islamic League of Palestinian Students;
* Student Unity Block;
* Students Affairs (University of Palestine).

[i] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869
[ii] http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52
[iii] http://www.odsg.org/co/index.php/component/content/article/1100-a-call-from-gaza.html

if you need more reasons why you should boycott, try this one (thanks dina):

The Carmel Academic Center in Haifa shut down the concentration in accounting within its Department of Business Administration because a majority of the students applying were Palestinian citizens of Israel. This was revealed in a news item reported on Israeli news Channel 10 on 24 May (in Hebrew only).

or this one (thanks josie):

Despite strong objections from the Committee of University Heads, individual academics and the human rights organization Gisha, the High Court of Justice on Monday accepted the army’s non-security related criteria for granting Palestinian post-graduate students permits to enter Israel to study at Israeli universities….

At the urging of the court, the army also presented criteria for investigating applications from other Palestinians who had been accepted for studies in Israel as an exception to its overall policy not to consider entry requests except for humanitarian reasons.

The criteria included the following:

• Only PhD and Masters students will be considered and only if there is no practical alternative to studying in Israel

• Preference will be given to applicants to programs focusing on regional cooperation or developing coexistence and regional peace. The Education Ministry must testify as to the nature of the program

• Palestinians will not be allowed to study professions that have the potential to be used against Israel.

• The applicant will have to provide the army with a detailed request from a recognized academic institution explaining the grounds on which the institution wants him to study there

• There will be no further examination if the applicant has a security or criminal record.

• The army will take into account the age of the applicant and his personal status.

• The army, at its own discretion, may refuse to consider an applicant even if the student meets the above criteria.

The court added, however, that whenever the army rejects a Palestinian student’s entry request on the grounds that he has not met its criteria, the Palestinian student may petition the High Court against the decision.

“We are being forcibly prevented from accepting students who can make a decidedly valuable contribution to higher education in Israel,” Hebrew University Law Prof. Alon Harel said, following the court ruling.

“I call upon the court and the defense establishment to respect academic freedom. The decision whether or not to accept a student must be the exclusive decision of the university, while the military should be limited to performing a security check.”

and here are some even better reasons from omar barghouti in an interview with ali mustafa in electronic intifada:

AM: One of the most contentious aspects of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign is the academic boycott. Can you clarify exactly what this means and why Israeli academic institutions are, as you argue, such a fundamental extension of the Israeli state and state policy?

OB: The academic boycott, which was called for by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in 2004, is an institutional boycott — so it’s a call to every conscientious academic and academic institution to boycott every Israeli academic institution because of their complicity in perpetuating Israel’s occupation and other forms of oppression … Complicity in the case of Israel is different than academic complicity elsewhere. In Canada, for example, your biggest universities are certainly complicit in Canadian policy, especially since they’re all state-funded universities exactly like in Israel … But what’s different is that in Israel, they are in full organic partnership with the security/military establishment — so that most of the weapons developed by the Israeli army are done through the universities, most of the research justifying the repression of the Palestinians and denial of Palestinian rights is done by academics in the universities in academic programs; many of the colonization projects that are considered by international law to be war crimes have been produced by universities. The wall [in the West Bank] for example was produced in an academic environment; an academic at Haifa University claims that this is his brainchild and there is no reason not to believe him because he has produced other projects that were terribly involved in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians even inside Israel. At every level there is a very deep, entrenched complicity between the Israeli academia and the security/military establishment.

Also, all Israeli academics, like all Israelis within a certain age group, with some exceptions, serve in the occupation reserve army. They serve as occupying soldiers part-time every year, three months every year … You go and leave academia, your research, you leave everything, and you serve at a checkpoint or worse — so you’re either participating in committing human rights violations or war crimes, or at least you watch them with total apathy — in both cases you’re very complicit even at an individual level; the universities not only tolerate that, they promote that — this is part of the system. Despite this, we are not calling for boycotting individual academics but institutions. The only reason why our boycott is not individual is because otherwise it would be McCarthyist — it would involve some form of McCarthyism or political test: who is a good academic, who is bad, and who decides? And we don’t want to get into that because it’s a very troubling prospect to have political tests and in principle, we are against political tests, so that’s why we have an institutional boycott.

AM: One common argument against the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign is that dialogue is more constructive than boycotts. How would you respond?

OB: That’s wrong factually and wrong logically. Factually, there have been so many attempts at dialogue since 1993 when the so-called peace process was announced at Oslo. There were many dialogue organizations and initiatives established; it became an industry — we call it the peace industry. You could get rich very fast by getting involved in one of those dialogue groups and you get to travel to Europe and stay in fancy hotels and get a lot of money in return, but otherwise it produces absolutely nothing on the ground. The main reason is because it’s morally flawed and based on the false premise that this so-called conflict is mainly due to mutual hatred and, therefore, you need some kind of therapy or dialogue between those two equivalent, symmetric, warring parties. Put them in a room, force them to talk to one another, then they will fall in love, the hatred will go away and you will have your Romeo and Juliet story. Of course, this is deceitful and morally very corrupt because the conflict is a colonial conflict — it’s not a domestic dispute between a husband and wife — it’s a colonial conflict based on ethnic cleansing, racism, colonialism and apartheid. Without taking away the roots of the conflict you cannot have any coexistence, at least not ethical coexistence.

There are many other issues related to this dialogue industry in that you don’t have dialogue between asymmetric parties, you have negotiations. To have a dialogue you have to have a certain minimal level of a common denominator based on a common vision for the ultimate solution based on equality and ending injustice. If you don’t have that common denominator than it’s negotiation between the stronger and weaker party and, as I’ve written elsewhere, you can’t have a bridge between them but only a ladder where you go up or down not across … I call this the master/slave type of coexistence … A master and a slave can also reach an agreement where this is reality and you cannot challenge it and you make the best out of it. There is no war, no conflict, nobody is killing anybody, but a master remains a master and the slave remains a slave — so this is not the kind of peace that we the oppressed are seeking — the minimum is to have a just peace. Only with justice can we have a sustainable peace. So dialogue does not work — it has not worked in reality and cannot work in principle. Boycotts have worked in reality and in principle so there is absolutely no reason why they cannot work, because Israel has total impunity given the official support it gets from the west in all fields (economic, cultural, academic and so on). Without raising the price of its oppression, it will never give up; it will never concede on any of our right

for these and many other reasons please sign this petition to protest the university of california, davis’ study abroad program in the zionist entity, which would necessarily mean being complicit in zionist terrorist war crimes:

To: Dr. Eric Shroeder Summer Abroad faculty Director, Dr. Jean-Xavier Guinard Associate Vice Provost, and Dr. William Lacy Vice provost at the University of California Davis

From: The EAP Equality Coalition

Date: June 1, 2009

As University of California students, faculty, and people of conscience, we strive to uphold the Principles of Community whereby “We affirm the inherent dignity in all of us, and strive to maintain a climate of justice.” In light of these principles supporting equality and justice, we find the recent inception of the new Summer Abroad to Israel program morally objectionable.

Given that the university also shares our commitment to uphold “the highest standards of civility and decency towards all,” we are dismayed that UC Davis established the program with Israel, which required the university to make recommendations that nullified even the US Department of the State’s (DOS) Travel Advisory.

We are deeply troubled that UC Davis decided to make an exception for the program in Israel, and did so in the wake of Israel’s war on Gaza in winter 2008-09. UN special investigators on human rights offer compelling evidence that “Israel’s latest offensive in Gaza violates international humanitarian law,” and requires an independent investigation into whether it involved war crimes.

Numerous UN-protected Palestinian schools and universities were bombed by Israeli missiles in the recent war on Gaza. We are very dismayed that the university has continued a program with Israel in the wake of these recent attacks, that have been condemned by the international community. Even though this program was planned before the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza that caused the deaths of 1500 people, once this massacre became public, the university should have revoked its approval of the program.

Continuing the Study Abroad in Israel suggests the university’s condoning of the Israeli massacres and sanctioning of the Israeli state’s ongoing policies of discrimination toward non-Jews. Israel’s long-standing pattern of human rights violations includes the exploitation, annexation, and illegal settlement of Palestinian territories, as well as segregation of and discrimination toward Palestinians in the occupied territories and inside Israel. The location and structure of the program in Israel hinder an unbiased representation of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict; indeed they reinforce a limited and narrow understanding of these issues.

We understand that the university is going through extreme precautions to ensure the inception of this program by forwarding the names of enrolled students to the Israeli consulate in San Francisco to ensure their proper passage through Israeli airports and checkpoints. Israeli military personnel will also apparently accompany UC students during their outdoor endeavors. Although doing this may provide an illusion of protection for the students, it does not guarantee their safety, especially those suspected of being Arab or Muslim, in a state that practices systemic racial discrimination, as illustrated by the DOS warning: “American citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab or Muslim origin are likely to face additional, often time-consuming, and probing questioning by immigration and border authorities, or may even be denied entry into Israel.”

In fact, these measures only compromise the freedom of education of the participants. The military presence also serves to romanticize the notion of the Israeli Defense Force as a protective state entity that ensures human security, when in reality the IDF is currently under numerous investigations for consistently attacking innocent civilians, including children and students, and violating international human rights law. The impact of the “security wall,” the closures of roads and restrictions on travel, the demolition of homes, the destruction of trees, all impact the mobility and livelihood of Palestinians and violate their human rights, including their right to education, and consequently make a mockery of the notion of academic freedom for students and scholars.

These extreme measures of providing military escort also violate the philosophy of the EAP. Study Abroad programs strive to provide “opportunities to discover, learn about and engage with other cultures to challenge our students to rethink the way they look at the world”; however, normal Israeli citizens do not walk around Israel with military protection. Therefore, by having the inevitable military presence in the program, students experience an education that is embedded with the military, and that limits their understanding of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. By continuing this program, the university transgresses core standards of equality, justice and precedence.

The University of California has a historic pattern of divestment from South Africa in 1986 because of systematic racism against black Africans, and again in 2006 from Sudan, due to issues of transnational displacement and ethnic cleansing. Now in 2009, the UC should divest from Israel because Israel also enforces systemic discrimination against Palestinian citizens in Israel, and is accused of ethnic cleansing and war crimes against the Palestinians in the occupied territories. By supporting this program the university fails to uphold its own statements of values.

Given UC Davis’s commitment to the “Principles of Community,” where the university pledges to “affirm the inherent dignity in all of us, and…strive to maintain a climate of justice…and confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination, including those based on race, ethnicity, gender,” it becomes morally contradictory and compromising to have a Study Abroad program in Israel. Therefore, in light of this evidence, it is ethically incumbent on EAP officials to reconsider the inception of the Summer Abroad program in Israel, and to terminate it forthwith.

and finally a salute to the guerrilla activists who have been busy campaigning in the bay area by altering zionist colonist terrorist study abroad programs trying to lure american students to their universities. you can read more about the campaign and see more images on the us campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel website.

original billboard
original billboard
modified billboard
modified billboard

boycotting study abroad programs in the zionist entity

bluestar-update1

last month i blogged about california faculty resisting study abroad programs between american universities and those in the zionist entity. now, apparently, some american professors who believe that massacring and ethnic cleansing are appropriate behaviors are trying to encourage their students to learn these behaviors at zionist universities. here is an email detailing this position:

IN SUPPORT OF the University of California’s Decision to Re-open the Education Abroad Program in Israel

We, the undersigned, support UC’s decision to reopen its Education Abroad Program (EAP) in Israel. The original decision in 2002 to close the program was based on security concerns, which have now been significantly reduced. A number of UC faculty have petitioned to have this decision rescinded due to Israeli restrictions on the operation of Palestinian educational institutions and subject to investigation of Hebrew University’s discriminatory policies towards Arab students. We the undersigned urge the university to stand by its decision.

*The petition requesting that the EAP not be re-opened in Israel must be placed in the context of a larger, on-going political struggle to isolate Israel diplomatically, educationally, culturally and economically. It is part of a strategy to characterize Israel as an apartheid state and to boycott Israel in the same manner that was done to the apartheid South African regime. * The two are not the same. Israel has granted its Arab residents citizenship and now faces a partition of the land between two peoples. South Africa confronted the challenge of extending citizenship to all its residents.

Although we regret the restrictions and disruptions to which Palestinian educational institutions are subject and those to which Israeli Arab, Palestinian, and potentially American students of Arab background may be subject within Israel, it is critical to place these restrictions in the context of a history of violent attacks against which Israel has a right to protect itself, indeed attacks that caused the closure of the EAP program in the first place.

Israel’s alleged violations of human rights are being unfairly singled out. Why are our colleagues who demand an end to EAP with Israel not also demanding an end to the present exchange programs with China — which violently suppresses Tibetan efforts to achieve even a modicum of self-determination and brutally crushes all efforts to democratize its society, or Russia — which invaded Georgia and conducted a war of suppression in Chechnya in which tens of thousands have lost their lives? To select out Israel which withdrew from Gaza, allowed the election of a Hamas government which calls for Israel’s destruction and that then went on to mount a concerted campaign of targeting Israeli civilians with suicide bombings and low-grade rockets, would be most unfair.

We do believe it is incumbent upon our university to assiduously protect the rights of our students who travel under its auspices abroad. But we believe that these efforts apply equally to any student of any group liable to suffer discrimination, harassment, not to mention detention and interrogation in any country where the University of California has an educational program.

Benjamin J. Cohen, Professor of Political Science, UCSB
Edwin M. Epstein, Professor Emeritus, International and Area Studies and Haas School
of Business, UCB
Claude Fischer, Professor of Sociology, UCB
Roger Friedland, Professor of Religious Studies and Sociology, UCSB
Thomas B. Gold, Associate Professor, Sociology, UCB
Ron Hassner, Assistant Professor, Political Science, UCB
Richard Hecht, Professor of Religious Studies, UCSB, Director, EAP, Hebrew
University, Jerusalem, 1982-1984
Estie Sid Hudes, Statistician, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, UCSF
David Levine, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law
Ann Swidler, Professor of Sociology, UCB
David Vogel, Professor, Haas School of Business, Department of Political Science, UCB
Maurice Zeitlin, Professor of Sociology, UCLA

and it seems that this is something that is being advertised at bus stops and in other public places around california as in the image below:

img_0451

therefore, friends of mine created a counter campaign and are putting up images in response (see image at the top and image below of this poster at a california bus stop):

billboard

here is their statement about the guerrilla poster campaign:

Guerrilla Ad Campaign Replaces Study In Israel Billboards

Students and community members near the UC Berkeley campus were surprised one weekend to see a series of bus shelter billboards asking, “What country uses live ammunition against unarmed children?” Below a photo of identically dressed schoolboys in front of a barbed wire fence is the answer: Israel.

The guerrilla ads replaced ads which also featured photos of groups of people, beneath the headline, “Study in Israel? You’d like it here.” The ad campaign was part of an intensive campaign to promote study in Israel at California universities. The University of California recently reinstated a study abroad program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, after years of strong lobbying from pro-Israel students and professionals. The program was suspended seven years ago based on concerns that the area was too dangerous.

“It’s ironic that the University of California has decided the area is less dangerous now than seven years ago, when 1,400 Palestinian civilians were killed by the Israeli government in Gaza just four months ago,” said one of the creators of the alternative ad campaign, who prefers to remain anonymous. “2009 has already been the deadliest year for Palestinians since the Second Intifada began in September 2000.”

The replacement poster took a satirical tone, reading in part:

“For over eight years, Israel has been under siege. Unarmed Palestinian children have led the attack by crossing Israeli checkpoints, intimidating Israeli troops and provoking gunfire. Acting with extreme restraint, Israelis have killed no more than 1,100 children and seriously wounded only 4,000. Israeli troops have arrested over 6,000 children, but only 80% have been tortured….

“With your continued support we can do better. The U.S. government gave us $5 billion last year, but your additional contributions will help us arrest every Palestinian child, torture 100% of detainees, and rid ourselves of the menace of international human rights workers once and for all. In these tough economic times, think of Israel on April 15th and give generously.”

The poster made its first appearance on March 29, which is observed as Land Day by Palestinians all over the world. Land Day commemorates events of 33 years ago, when Israeli security forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel and injured many others. The young people were killed while protesting ongoing Israeli expropriation of Palestinian land for Jewish-only settlements.

The Study in Israel billboards were carefully designed to appeal to the U.C. system’s multicultural student body. One featured a group of Southeast Asians and another a women in hijab (traditional Muslim headcovering). One of the artists behind the alternative campaign finds this portrayal of Israel as a society that is welcoming to people of all cultures particularly troubling. “Not only is Israel an apartheid state, where Palestinians – whether they wear hijab or not – do not have equal rights with Jewish citizens, but Muslims who attempt to travel there as tourists or students are very likely not even to be allowed into the country,” the artist observed.

While the guerrilla ads are not affiliated with any organization, www.stopthewall.org, www.bdsmovement.net and www.whoprofits.org are excellent sources of information.

meanwhile, as if we needed yet another reason to boycott israeli terrorist universities a friend of mine is under attack at his university. here is the statement about his case from electronic intifada:

The impressive growth of the Palestinian civil society campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, particularly after its criminal war of aggression on the occupied Gaza Strip, is testimony to the morality and consistency of ordinary citizens and civil society organizations around the world concerned about restoring Palestinian rights and achieving justice for Palestinians.

The most recent achievement of the Israel boycott movement was the adoption of BDS — nearly by consensus — by the Scottish Trade Union Congress, following the example set by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

In despair over their evident inability to stop or even hold back the growing tide of BDS across the globe, Israel apologists have resorted to an old tactic at which they seem to excel: witch hunts and smear campaigns. A self-styled McCarthyist academic monitor group in Israel has launched a petition calling for the expulsion of Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), from Tel Aviv University, where he is enrolled as a doctoral student. The Israeli campaign urges the university administration to expel Barghouti due to his leading role in the BDS movement that calls for boycotting Israel and all institutions complicit in its occupation and apartheid.

To date, more than 65,000 persons have reportedly signed this right-wing Israeli petition that depicts Barghouti as an “especially strident and persuasive voice” against Israeli colonial and racist policies. Several media columns by Zionist journalists in Israel and the United Kingdom, among others, have tried to use the “revelation” that Barghouti, “now enrolled” at an Israeli university, is politically inconsistent for calling for the boycott of all Israeli academic institutions while he is a student at one of them. Other than the clear dishonesty and underhandedness of these same media in presenting the case as if Barghouti has just — or recently — enrolled in an Israeli university despite themselves having reported years ago that he was already enrolled then, the reports have made some glaring omissions about the Israeli apartheid context, the widely endorsed criteria of the PACBI boycott, and the system of racial discrimination in Israel’s educational system against the indigenous Palestinians.

While consistently calling upon academics around the world to boycott Israel and its academic — and cultural — institutions due to their entrenched collusion in the state’s colonial and apartheid policies, PACBI has never called upon Palestinian citizens of Israel and those who are compelled to carry Israeli identification documents, like Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem, to refrain from studying or teaching at those Israeli institutions. That would have been an absurd position, given the complete lack of alternatives available. Successive Israeli governments, committed to suppressing Palestinian national identity in their pursuit of maintaining Israel’s character as a racist state, have made every effort possible to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian university inside Israel. The only choice left to Palestinian students and academics in Israel, then, is to go to an Israeli university or leave their homeland to pursue their studies or academic careers abroad — often not possible due to financial or other compelling reasons. In fact, the Israeli authorities have consistently worked to strip Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem of their Israeli ID cards and thus their residency rights while they study abroad, thereby prohibiting them from returning.

Palestinians in Israel are treated as second-class citizens in every vital aspect of life and are subjected to a system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination,” as admitted even in US State Department reports on human rights. In the field of education this discrimination is dominant throughout the system, as the following conclusion from a ground-breaking Human Rights Watch study published in 2001 states:

“The hurdles Palestinian Arab students face from kindergarten to university function like a series of sieves with sequentially finer holes. At each stage, the education system filters out a higher proportion of Palestinian Arab students than Jewish students. … And Israel’s courts have yet to use … laws or more general principles of equality to protect Palestinian Arab children from discrimination in education.”

Palestinians, like any people under apartheid or colonial rule, have insisted on their rights, including their right to education, even if the only venues available were apartheid or colonial institutions. Nelson Mandela studied law at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, one of the most notorious apartheid institutes then. Similarly, leaders of the anti-colonial resistance movement in India and Egypt, among many other countries, received their education at British universities at the height of the colonial era.

PACBI has always made a distinction between the forms and range of academic boycott it urges the world to adopt and what Palestinians themselves can implement. The former have a moral choice to boycott Israeli universities in order to hold them accountable for their shameful, multifaceted complicity in perpetuating the occupation and racist policies of the state; the latter are often left with no choice but to use the services of the oppressive state, to which they pay taxes.

Finally, we stress that it is precisely PACBI’s five-year-old record of moral and political consistency and the growing influence of its principles and the campaigns it and its partners have waged around the world that have provoked Zionist anti-boycott forces to try, yet again, to rehash old attacks of inconsistency, failing to understand or intentionally and deceptively ignoring the boycott criteria set by PACBI. We urge all academics, academic unions, cultural figures and cultural associations to adopt whatever creative form of BDS their context allows them. This remains the most effective and morally sound form of solidarity with the Palestinian people in our struggle for freedom, dignity, equality and self determination.

notes on complicity

i was in the midst of writing an article with a colleague from gaza today. we are working on a project to help his university, which israeli terrorists bombed on december 28th. of course, they bombed the islamic university of gaza with american bombs and american f-16s. i had read a blog talking about israeli academic complicity in its military-terrorist complex when rania and i were writing our articles about boycott last month. the blog had a post about the complicity between tel aviv university and the israeli terrorist army. he quoted an article from a publication at tel aviv university, which i assumed would be written in hebrew so i did not bother looking for the original until today. i was amazed to find out that it was indeed published in english. interestingly, the article in question, gil zohar’s “lifting the veil of secrecy,” published in the winter 2008/2009 issue of tel aviv university review doesn’t just show how israeli terrorist universities produce knowledge that create massacres on the ground in gaza and elsewhere in palestine–it also tells us about american collaboration in that process at israeli terrorist universities as well:

…Tel Aviv University is at the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge. While much of that research remains classified, several facts illuminate the role of the university. MAFAT, a Hebrew acronym meaning the R&D Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense, is currently funding 55 projects at TAU. Nine projects are being funded by DARPA–the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense.

i was wishing i could have double checked something in naomi klein’s the shock doctrine, but i brought it back to my big boxes ‘o books in amman last month. i recalled that she also made a specific argument about israeli terrorist universities and then i found this from a 2007 article she published in the nation:

It’s no coincidence that the class projects at Ben Gurion that so impressed [Thomas] Friedman have names like “Innovative Covariance Matrix for Point Target Detection in Hyperspectral Images” and “Algorithms for Obstacle Detection and Avoidance.” Thirty homeland security companies were launched in Israel in the past six months alone, thanks in large part to lavish government subsidies that have transformed the Israeli army and the country’s universities into incubators for security and weapons start-ups (something to keep in mind in the debates about the academic boycott).

picture-1

if you read klein’s full article above you will begin to see how deeply enmeshed american and israeli terrorist projects are a joint effort, a joint effort housed in many of the universities in the zionist entity. and i’m thinking that texas a&m university should be added to the list of institutions to boycott (see above photograph though it should be noted that the canada-israel chamber of commerce is also a partner in the above seminar, but it got cut off from the screen shot i took). apparently some company called chameleon associates is hosting an executive seminar, in cahoots with texas a&m university and their israeli terrorist partners (from which the above logo was taken):

BEHIND THE SCENES SEMINAR OF ISRAEL’S COUNTER-TERRORISM AND SECURITY OPERATIONS

February 21 – February 28, 2009

Chameleon Associates LLC is pleased to present a one-of-a-kind security seminar to law enforcement, military and security professionals from around the world.

This seminar provides attendees with an inside look into the security operations of some of Israel’s most secured facilities and protected environments. Attendees will meet with top Israeli security and law enforcement officials and will learn first hand how Israel developed and maintains some of the world’s best counter-terrorism and security systems.

Some of the facilities and locations visited in the seminar include mass-transit hubs, airports, seaports, border crossings, government facilities, critical infrastructures, shopping malls, corporate facilities and more.

certainly there are deep ties between israeli and american academic institutions in ways that continue to render “scientific” their pursuit of knowledge, their pursuit of new ways to murder and torture palestinians, arabs, muslims. the most recent collusion between israeli military and academia, which i wrote about in an earlier blog is the appointment of pnina shavrit-baruch, an israeli terrorist war criminal, to a position as a law professor at tel aviv university. apparently what little dissent there was, was squashed by the government and as jonathan cook explains plans are moving forward:

But despite the protest at Tel Aviv University, most academic staff in Israel supported Col Sharvit-Baruch’s appointment, said Daphna Golan, a programme director at the Minerva Center for Human Rights at Hebrew University. “I think even Prof Ganz has been frightened into silence by the backlash.”

The episode, she said, highlighted the intimate relations between the army and universities in Israel, as well as the dependence of the universities on army funding.

She noted that there were many special programmes designed to favour army and security personnel by putting them on a fast track to degrees.

“Most of the professors in the country’s Middle East departments — the ‘experts on Arabs’ who shape the perceptions of the next generation — are recruited from the army or the security services,” she added.

Omar Barghouti, a co-ordinator of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said Col Sharvit-Baruch’s employment was a further indication of the “organic ties” between Israeli institutions and the army.

“This just adds one more soldier to an already very long list of war criminals roaming around freely in Israeli universities, teaching hate, racism and warmongering, with impunity,” he said.

He noted that calls for an academic boycott were growing in the wake of the Gaza offensive.

Al-Quds University, with campuses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, severed its contacts with Israeli universities last week. It had been the last Palestinian university to maintain such ties.

At the same time, a group of US professors announced that they were campaigning for an academic boycott of Israel — the first time such a call has been heard in the US.

Mr Barghouti said an “unprecedented” groundswell of popular opinion was behind new campaigns in countries such as Australia, Spain, Sweden, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.

notice how little dissent there is? of course this is also because 94% of their population supported the aggression on gaza. what is shocking to me about these new developments or new articles is not the fact that there is this deep complicity between the u.s. military, the israeli terrorist war machine, and israeli academia. what is shocking is how they are so blatant about these linkages now. because they can massacre anyone they like in lebanon or gaza or akka or jenin and it doesn’t matter: no one is spared (except for animals in zoos–see yesterday’s post for that one). too, i find it ironic that so few people around the world agree to boycott israeli academia and the terrorists it harbors given the continuous assault on human life that these universities create in addition to the way that they always target educational institutions.

they also target other sorts of installations. american government and military installations. recall they did this in an infamous incident on 8 june 1967 when israeli terrorists struck the uss liberty. that story, like most involving acts of israeli terrorism, has been covered up again and again. likewise, how many of you out there heard that israeli terrorists bombed the house of the only u.s. state department employee in gaza? esam is the only representative of the u.s. consulate in jerusalem who is based in gaza. esam and his family are now living in his office. below are photographs of his house sent to me by a friend who knows him:

dsc09714

us-consulate-house-5-gaza

us-consulate-house-2-gaza

while esam is still sleeping in his office radi abed rabbo is dealing with the trauma of having been forced to be a human shield for israeli terrorists as hoda abdel hamid reports for al jazeera:

yet another host of reasons that it’s great to see people mobilizing the israeli terrorist elections tomorrow:

The Ahrar Al-Jalil Brigades, an unknownand self-proclaimed Palestinian militant group based in Israel called on Palestinians inside Israel on Monday to boycott Israeli elections scheduled to take place Tuesday.

The group said in a statement, “Participation in Knesset elections means approval and recognition of the legitimacy of this Zionist state which has been committing atrocities against our people.”

this is why so many are mobilizing for boycott, divestment, and sanctions. here are a few new items on that front like in malta:

We also request all organizations and people of good will in Malta to pressure the Maltese government, Members of European Parliament and prospective MEPs, and the various authorities within the EU to show their true commitment towards a just peace in Palestine by avoiding products and services (like tourism) provided by companies implicated in the occupation and human rights violations, and to choose services and goods, like fair trade products, provided by communities in occupied Palestine.

or this bangladeshi writer details (if you click on the link and read the entire piece) the american companies you should boycott because they are complicit in israeli terrorism:

South Africa, the original apartheid state, was brought to its knees by an economic boycott against its policies. Yes, Bangladesh is a small country and far from the Middle East; but our imports are bought with the same American dollars that support the Israeli economy, and we should utilise them intelligently.

The economic boycott of South Africa was about more than boycotting South African products; it also targeted multi-nationals that invested in (and thus economically supported) the apartheid state. Bangladesh already disallows direct imports from Israel through its import policy; but Bangladeshi consumers have yet to take action against multi-nationals that have the dubious distinction of directly supporting Zionist land grabbing, or receiving Israeli government awards recognising their investments in Israel.

and the church of england divested from caterpillar:

Over this weekend, 7th and 8th February, the Church of England clarified their position on their investments in companies profiting from the illegally occupied Palestinian territories and now wish to make clear that late last year they removed over £2.2 million in Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and heavy plant equipment are been used to destroy the homes of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

finally while speaking of complicity…i mentioned the egyptian kidnapping of philip rizk yesterday. there are two petitions you can sign to demand his release:

PETITION FOR THE RELEASE OF PHILIP RIZK

Release Philip Rizk

on solidarity & not forgetting gaza

coffin counter
coffin counter

this is going to be a quick hodge-podge post because tam tam and rania are conspiring against me to make me sleep. they are talking behind my back about this. hmmmm. and rami sends me email messages at 4 am telling me to go to sleep when clearly he is wide awake, too. anyway, muna sent me this coffin counter. the graphic is interesting, though it appears to be a bit slow in keeping up. also from dear muna–an important demonstration planned for sunday in beirut:

الأمهات في لبنان يعزين أمهات غزة

قدّمن المواساة والعزاء لأمهات وعائلات غزة

مع أطفالكنّ

مع شموعكنّ

مع يافطاتكنّ

باللباس الأسود

تضامنّ مع أخواتكنّ في غزة

المكان: كورنيش رملة البيضاء
الزمان: يوم الأحد 18 كانون الثاني، 5 – 7 مساءً

– منى، لبنى، ريما، رملة، مزنة، مها، ربى، أمال، هبة، ألين، نجوى، صونيا…
———————————————————————–

Mothers in Lebanon:
Join us to offer your Support and Condolences
to the mourning mothers and families in Gaza

Come with Your Children

Hold a Candle

Make a Banner

Wear Black

Take a Stand

Place: Ramlet Al-Bayda Corniche
Date: Sunday 18 January, 5 – 7 PM

– Aline, Lubna, Maha, Muna, Ramla, Ruba, Rima, Najwa, Hibah, Amal, Muzna, Sonya…

and more beirut events for gaza from baha’a:

FRIDAY January 16th: Talk-In; AUB Main Gate; 1:00-3:00; to be followed by a protest march to the ESCWA sit-in

SATURDAY January17th: Gaza-Present: Sight & Sound Performance; Massrah al-Madina; 1pm

SATURDAY January 17th: “Karakeeb” fund-raising children’s play (Save the Children- Sweden); Massrah Dawwar al-Shams; 4pm. Tickets on sale at the theatre @ LL20,000 & 30,000. (tel:01-381290)

SUNDAY January 18th: Gaza-Present: Sight & Sound Performance; Ain el-Mreisseh; 2pm

SUNDAY January 18th: National Palestinian Theatre play “Afoul al-Qamar”, Massrah Dawwar al-Shams; 6:00-8:00 (open invitation)

MONDAY January 19th: Performance by “Ushshaq al-Aqsa” Troupe, “Jaffra” Troupe, & Qassem Istambouli (open invitation); Massrah Dawwar al-Shams; 6:00-8:00 (open invitation)

MONDAY January 19th: Gaza-Present: Sight & Sound Performance; Mar Elias; 6pm

TUESDAY January 20th: Public Talk by Dr. Rita Giacaman – Birzeit University on the situation in Gaza and the reaction on the West Bank; T-Marbouta; 7pm,

WEDNESDAY January 21th: May Nasr & “Ushshaq al-Aqsa” Troupe in fund-raising concert, AUB Bathish Hall (West Hall), 6:30. Tickets available in front of West Hall @ LL10,000.

all of these actions, of course, are so that we remind gaza that we are with them. that we stand in solidarity with them. the same goes for boycott actions that are spreading like wildfire around the world. the variety of voices being lent to palestinian solidarity right now should put the bulls*&^ arab league and arab summit and leaders to shame, even in spite of qatar and mauritania severing ties today with the zionist entity (though it took them 21 days and 1,069 martyrs and 5,1015 wounded palestinians before they acted). or bashar al assad calling for cutting relations with the israeli terrorist state all the while he negotiates with them behind closed doors, and sometimes open doors. but these are heads of state. we don’t expect such people to act with a moral compass.

but in nepal, as rami blogged, farmers are in solidarity with gaza. they don’t need political meetings in fancy hotels where they hash out points and jockey for power. they stand up for what is just and moral because it is just and moral:

All Nepal Peasants’ Federation lodges strong protest against Israeli inhuman killing of Palestinian people condemning the military attack on Gaza and calls upon to stop immediately all acts of aggression, blockade of all types and inflicting suffering upon innocent civilian population.

ANPFa believes that military attack can never be a solution of the problem. The slaughter resumed after a brief truce only fuels further the conflict and it quashes hopes of peace for Palestinian people.

We also call upon the conflicting parties to sit on peaceful dialogue and solve the problems politically.

We hereby call on the international community to immediately deploy an international peace-keeping force bringing an end to the attack, protect innocent civilians and alleviate the escalating inhuman crisis in Gaza.

We urge the international community to press for immediate resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine based on the Arab Peace Initiative as the only way of bringing peace in the region.

though we do have turkey speaking out (anyone for bringing back the ottoman empire? or at least those open borders…?):

Turkey’s prime minister on Friday said Israel should be barred from the United Nations while it ignores the international body’s calls to stop fighting in Gaza.

“How is such a country, which does not implement resolutions of the UN Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN [headquarters]?” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

this is one of the ways pressure can be exerted on the zionist entity–by pushing for them to be removed from the UN–permanently. but also on the local level you can do what people in cambridge have been doing for years now to work for divestment on the local level. that work, which of course includes grassroots educational work, led to a recent decision (which i don’t agree with politically at all; it is just nice to see an american city council taking up this issue of palestine and at least acting in solidarity, even if that solidarity is a bit misguided):

The Cambridge City Council today convened a public hearing on a bold and timely resolution regarding the situation in Gaza, with eloquent comments by many residents of Cambridge and heartfelt deliberations by City Council Members.

Summary of original resolution: “That the Cambridge City Council go on record recognizing the grievous impact of the loss of lives in the conflict on families and communities, mourning those lives on both sides of the conflict, condemning the attacks and invasion of Gaza by the Israeli military and the rocket attacks upon the people of Israel, and call for an immediate end to all attacks on civilians on both sides.”

The resolution was proposed by Councillor Marjorie Decker and Mayor Denise Simmons, and drafted with the support of the Cambridge Peace Commission .

In an unprecedented decision after the 3-hour hearing, the Council voted to adopt the resolution with 8 members voting in favor and 1 voting present. It included a last minute amendment requesting a long-term negotiated truce between both parties and support for a 2-state solution.

Read the full text of the original Gaza resolution (Cambridge City Policy Order Resolution O-15, January 12, 2009). The amended resolution will be posted online soon.

This landmark resolution should encourage many others around the country to propose similar actions in their own city councils and have congressional representatives finally take notice of the injustice and bias in US foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly regarding the devastating siege of Gaza.

Please show your support by thanking members of the Cambridge City Council for their bold and courageous action for an end to the siege in Gaza and a just peace in the region. Contacts for council members can be found here: http://www.cambridgema.gov/ccouncil.cfm

what is even better is the news that jordanian farmers are acting in solidarity with people in gaza:

Fruit growers disappointed by canceled orders from abroad, leaving produce to rot in warehouses, Yair Hason, YNet 01.16.09 – Fruit growers in Israel have reported delays and reductions in orders from abroad since the military operation in Gaza was launched, due to various boycotts against Israeli produce.

Farmers say much of their produce is being held in warehouses due to canceled orders, and fear a sharp decrease in fruit exports to countries such as Jordan, Britain, and the Scandinavian countries.

“We export persimmons, and because of the fighting a number of countries and distributors are canceling orders,” Giora Almagor, of the southern town of Bitzaron, told Ynet. He said some of the produce had already been shipped while some was awaiting shipment in warehouses.

Almagor said a large number of cancellations came from Jordan.

“The produce stays packed in warehouses, and this is causing us massive losses,” he said.

“The longer the fruit waits in storage after sorting, the more its quality decreases. We also have to pay for cooling the merchandise that should have already left, and the cost in considerable,” he added.

Ilan Eshel, director of the Organization of Fruit Growers in Israel, said Scandinavian countries have also been canceling orders.

“It’s mostly Sweden, Norway, and Denmark,” he said. “In Scandinavia the tendency is general, and it may come to include all of the chains.”

Eshel says the boycott did not exist before the Gaza offensive was launched.

“It’s getting worse, and more voices can be heard calling to boycott Israeli merchandise,” he said. “Until the operation began we had excellent business, though the economic recession in Europe was causing a slight fall in the market.”

He added that winter was an especially difficult season to be unable to export fruit, because the avocado, persimmon, and citrus markets are at their height.

starbucks-david

and in beirut activists have been targeting starbucks as part of their gaza solidarity work:

Over the past week, pro-Palestinian activists have staged protests outside several branches of the popular coffee chain Starbucks in Beirut, accusing the company of supporting Israel and Zionism. On Tuesday, protesters closed down the Starbucks store in Beirut’s Hamra district. On Thursday, demonstrators took to the Starbucks branch in Beirut’s Verdun neighborhood where they were greeted by riot police.

british academics have written an open letter, published in the guardian, calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions:

We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.

We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

in london students also took action in solidarity with gaza at the prestigious london school of economics:

More than 40 students were continuing their sit-in at the London School of Economics today in protest at the conflict in Gaza.

A rally was due to take place this afternoon attended by veteran politician Tony Benn and anti-war campaigner Lindsey German.

The students are demanding that LSE director Howard Davies issues a statement condemning Israeli violence on Gaza.

The protest began last night when a group of students entered the LSE’s Old Theatre in central London and occupied the stage.

In a statement the students said: “LSE is an institution founded on the Fabian values that were the precursor of the human rights agenda of modern politics.

“LSE must restate those values and condemn state criminality. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of humanity.”

at georgetown university (thanks tam tam) sohrab ghassemi authored a strong statement in the student newspaper, addressed to university president
degoia:

The situation in Gaza is one which should shock the conscience of the world and the conscience of our university. We take heart in the fact that we attend a Jesuit institution that has a great tradition of being a voice for justice in the world. President DeGioia, we call on you to lead our community by again upholding our institution’s Jesuit tradition of standing for social justice in the face of the massacres of innocent civilians in Gaza.

We call on you, as the leader of an educational institution, to condemn the destruction of the educational infrastructure in Gaza. We ask you to issue a statement condemning the massacres in Gaza, calling for an immediate and total cease-fire and expressing especially your deep concern for the educational and religious institutions and civilian life of Gaza.

Over 400 Georgetown students, faculty and staff have signed in support of this letter. The following on-campus groups have also endorsed it: the Georgetown chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, the Pakistani Students Association, Georgetown Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Students Association, the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and Our Moment.

in lebanon i helped rania and rami write a statement supporting the academic boycott campaign yesterday; rami posted the draft which we are using to collect signatures of professors in lebanon. so far the signatures are not coming as quickly as one would hope, but here is the statement we drafted:

Statement of Academics in Lebanon

In this latest onslaught against Palestinians, Israel has attacked a university, the Ministry of Education, schools across the Gaza Strip, and several UNRWA schools. Such attacks against learning centers are not unique for Israel. Most particularly since 1975, Israel has infringed upon the right of education for Palestinians by closing universities, schools and kindergartens, and by shelling, shooting at, and raiding hundreds of schools and several universities throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.

Nor have these attacks been limited against Palestinians. As academics in Lebanon, we are all too familiar with Israeli onslaughts against educational centers. In its latest assault, in 2006, for example, Israel destroyed over 50 schools throughout Lebanon, and particularly schools designed for the economically disadvantaged in the South.

We thus stand, as academics in Lebanon, in urging our colleagues, regionally and internationally, to oppose this ongoing scholasticide and to support the just demand for academic boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Specifically, we ask our colleagues worldwide to support the call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to comprehensively and consistently boycott and disinvest from all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, and to refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joining projects with Israeli institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.

We further call on the enforcement of Lebanese anti-normalization laws with Israel, and thus for the prosecution of individuals and institutions in Lebanon that violate those laws and conduct collaborations, associations or investments in Israel or with Israelis.

We salute the recent statement by the Scottish Committee for the Universities of Palestine calling for a boycott of Israel, the letter signed by 300 Canadian academics to Canadian Prime Minister Harper asking for sanctions against Israel, and the appeal by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee supporting a ban on collaborations between Canadian and Israeli universities.

to sign the above statement email rania at rania [at] ourwords.org

the response to the lebanon document has not been good so far. and i should say that this was true in 2006, right after the israeli invasion of lebanon when we tried to garner support for the boycott then. the apathy here and the desire to collaborate with israeli terrorist academics whose institutions fund and produce the knowledge for massacres of palestinians and lebanese is appalling to say the least. but in lebanon it is also illegal, though that law is not enforced as it should be. and our activism around this died down because only 6 months after our post-war organizing the lebanese army started a war against the palestinian refugee camp nahr el bared. it is one war after another. and usually palestinians bear the brunt of the assaults. it is not that we forget here about these atrocities and war crimes, but we move on. and this is what is challenging. zionists around the world never let us forget what happened to them during world war ii. and yet since world war ii people here in lebanon, syria, palestine have continuously suffered at the hands of those who suffered in europe. people here continue to pay the price though they had nothing to do with european anti-semitism. but war upon war upon war, massacre upon massacre upon massacre: these crimes are all worse than anything that happened in world war ii. why? because these israeli terrorists know better. because they are doing what was done to them. there is a great photo essay comparing the warsaw ghetto with the gaza ghetto that makes this point visually. but this is also worse because it is live on television. we watch, we read, we know. and still the carnage continues. the world that never forgets jewish suffering always forgets palestinian and arab and muslim suffering. even as it happens. they forget. they forgive. ehud olmert bombs a united nations building, he apologizes, is forgiven, and goes on to bomb hospitals, homes, children. this is why we should heed as’ad’s call and never forgive, never forget.

we should never forgive israeli or american terrorists who are in cahoots with these war crimes 100% as the guardian demonstrated today with respect to the american-made white phosphorous as does this report on al jazeera makes clear as well:

likewise this report by shirene tadros on al jazeera shows the american-israeli terrorism produced by american-made white phosphorous directed on the tar al hawa area of gaza:

all of those who do not sign statements, who do not act, who sit in the comfort of their little academic offices or wherever else they work and choose not to do something about these massive war crimes are complicit in them as i have said many times before. likewise, a professor friend in gaza sent this to me today, which is now posted on electronic intifada beseeching us to all act, to do something to support palestinians in gaza and across the world:

المقاطعة ، وسحب الاستثمارات ، والجزاءات : دعوة من غزة

يتزايد النداء عالمي لمقاطعة و سحب الاستثمارات و الجزاءات من اسرائيل

مع تزايد عدد القتلى في قطاع غزة في كل ساعة ، والصمت والتواطؤ. يتحتم
على المواطنين المعنيين لمطالبة حكوماتهم باتخاذ إجراءات فورية لوقف
الإبادة الجماعية الاسرائيلية في غزة.

اكتب اليوم النموذج وطالب ب :
1. إن مجرمي الحرب الإسرائيليين استدعوا أمام المحكمة الجنائية الدولية
أو محكمة خاصة لجرائم الحرب التي ارتكبت في غزة. (ذكر ممثلكم أن التحقيق
أو الملاحقة أو تسليم المسؤولين عن جرائم الحرب هو واجب جميع الأطراف
المتعاقدة في اتفاقيات جنيف.)
2. و ردا على الانتهاكات الجسيمة للقانون الإنساني الدولي والقانون
الدولي لحقوق الإنسان التي ارتكبتها اسرائيل، ان تنهي دولتكم كل
الاتفاقيات التجارية والعلاقات الاقتصادية مع إسرائيل ، بما فيها الاتحاد
الأوروبي اتفاق الشراكة مشروطاً بالانضمام إلى حقوق الإنسان والمبادئ
الديمقراطية
3. إن تقطع دولتكم العلاقات الدبلوماسية مع اسرائيل.

لقد كانت الاحداث الجارية في غزة متوقعة و محشوداً لها من قبل الاسرائيلي
البروفيسور ارنون سوفير ، رئيس قوات الدفاع الاسرائيلية كلية الدفاع
الوطني. البروفيسور سوفير وضح النتائج المرجوة في اسرائيل الى انسحاب
احادي الجانب من قطاع غزة في مقابلة مع صحيفة جيروساليم بوست (24 مايو
2004) :

جيروساليم بوست : كيف ستظهر المنطقة في اليوم الذي سيلي الانسحاب احادي
الجانب؟

– أولا وقبل كل شيء، بدلا من دخول غزة على غرار ما فعلنا الأسبوع الماضي،
سنقول للفلسطينيين في حال اطلق و لو صاروخ واحد فوق السور ، سنقوم
باطلاق النار 10 مرات اضعاف بالمقابل. والنساء والأطفال سيقتلون ، وسيتم
تدمير المنازل. بعد المرة الخامسة من مثل هذه الحادثة ، لن تسمح الأمهات
الفلسطينية لزوجهن اطلاق صواريخ القسام ، وذلك لأنهن سيعرفن ماذا
ينتظرهن.

ثانيا ، عندما يعيش 2.5 مليون شخص في قطاع غزة المغلق، فإنها ستكون كارثة
إنسانية. هؤلاء الناس سيصبحون اكبر الحيوانات مما هم عليه اليوم ،
بمساعدة من جنون الإسلام الأصولي. الضغط على الحدود سيكون مروعا. انها
ستكون حرب مروعة. هكذا ، إذا كنا نريد أن نبقى على قيد الحياة ، علينا أن
نقتل ونقتل ونقتل. طوال اليوم ،و كل يوم… وإذا لم نقتل، فلن يصبح لنا
وجود… الانسحاب احادي الجانب لا يضمن “السلام” — إنه يضمن دولة
صهيونية يهودية مع أغلبية ساحقة من اليهود…
جيروساليم بوست : تحويل التبرعات؟

ارنون سوفير : نعم. وقطاع غزة سيكون كارثة و سيكون أبعد من قدرتنا على
تقديم المساعدة. ولا بد أن تكون هناك نطاق واسع من المعونات الدولية.
سيكون على الولايات المتحدة الضغط على مصر للتنازل عن الأرض.
وفي الآونة الأخيرة، قال ماتان فيلناي ، نائب وزير الدفاع الإسرائيلية،
لراديو الجيش الاسرائيلي خلال عملية “الشتاء الساخن” (29 فبراير 2008 ) :

انها ستجلب على نفسها اكبر المحرقة لاننا سوف نستخدم كل قوتنا للدفاع عن
انفسنا.
في الأيام التي أعقبت هذا البيان ، 107 فلسطينيا لقوا مصرعهم. أخفق
المجتمع الدولي في اتخاذ إجراءات. هذا التقاعس ، تليها تصريحات أوروبية
عن نوايا لرفع مستوى الاتفاقيات التجارية مع إسرائيل ، كان بمثابة الضوء
الاخضر للمجازر الحالية.

الكولونيل الاحتياطي يواف غال ، وهو رائد في سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي، قال
لراديو الجيش الاسرائيلي خلال عملية “ممثلون الرصاص” (11 يناير 2009) :
وأعتقد أنه كان ينبغي أن تكون أقوى! درسدن! درسدن! إبادة مدينة! على كل
حال ،قيل لنا أن وجه الحرب قد تغير. لم تعد

كما هي عليه من تقدم الدبابات أو تنظيم عسكري. […] هي أمة بأكملها ، من
السيدة المسنة للطفل ، هذا هو الجيش. هده أمة تخوض حربا. وأنا ادعوهم
بالأمة ، على الرغم من أنني لا أراهم كالواحد. فهو قتال أمة لأمة. قتال
المدنيين للمدنيين. اقول لكم أننا […] يجب أن نعرف […] أن الأحجار لن
تلقى علينا! أنا لا أتحدث عن الصواريخ — ولا حتى الحجر سوف يلقى علينا.
لاننا يهود. […]؛أريد العرب أن يلذوا بالفرار من غزة إلى مصر. هذا هو
ما أريد. أريد لتدمير المدينة ، وليس بالضرورة الأشخاص الذين يعيشون
داخلها.
لوضع حد لإفلات إسرائيل من العقاب ندعو المجتمع المدني لدعم الحملة
الفلسطينية للمقاطعة دولية ، سحب الاستثمارات و الجزاءات ضد اسرائيل.

الموقعون
مجموعة الدول الواحدة الديمقراطية — غزة
رابطة مدرسي الجامعات في فلسطين — غزة
المنتدى الثقافي العربي — غزة

التي أقرتها
اللجان الشعبية ضد الجدار والمستوطنات — في الضفة الغربية

With the death toll in Gaza growing hourly, silence is complicity. It is imperative for concerned citizens to demand that their governments take immediate action in order to stop Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Write your representative today and demand:

1. That Israeli war criminals be brought before the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal for war crimes committed in Gaza. (Remind your representative that the investigation, prosecution or extradition of those responsible for war crimes is an obligation of all high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions.)

2. That in response to Israel’s severe breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, your state terminate all favorable trade agreements and economic relations with Israel, including the EU Association Agreement which is conditional upon adherence to human rights and democratic principles.

3. That your state cut all diplomatic ties with Israel.

The current events in Gaza were predicated and advocated for by Israeli Professor Arnon Soffer, Head of the IDF’s National Defense College. Professor Soffer spelled out the desired results of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in an interview with the Jerusalem Post (24 May 2004):

Jerusalem Post: How will the region look the day after unilateral separation?

…First of all…. Instead of entering Gaza like we did last week. We will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed. After the fifth such incident, Palestinian mothers won’t allow their husbands to shoot Kassams, because they will know what’s waiting for them.

Second of all, when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day…If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist…Unilateral separation doesn’t guarantee “peace” – it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews…

Jerusalem Post: Voluntary transfer?

Arnon Soffer: Yes. And Gaza is going to be such a disaster that it will be beyond our capacity to help. There will have to be large-scale international aid. The US will have to pressure Egypt to cede land.

More recently Matan Vilnai, Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, told Army Radio during “Operation Hot Winter” (29 February 2008):

They will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.

In the days following this statement, 107 Palestinians were killed. The international community failed to take action. This inaction, followed by European declarations of intentions to upgrade their trade agreements with Israel, served as a green light for the current atrocities.

Reserve Colonel Yoav Gal, an Israeli Air Force pilot, told Army Radio during “Operation Cast Lead” (11 January 2009):

I believe that it should have been even stronger! Dresden! Dresden! The extermination of a city! After all, we’re told that the face of war has changed. No longer is it the advancing of tanks or an organized military. […] It is a whole nation, from the old lady to the child, this is the military. It is a nation fighting a war. I am calling them a nation, even though I don’t see them as one. It is a nation fighting a nation. Civilians fighting civilians. I’m telling you that we […] must know […] that stones will not be thrown at us! I am not talking about rockets – not even a stone will be thrown at us. Because we’re Jews.[…] I want the Arabs of Gaza to flee to Egypt. This is what I want. I want to destroy the city, not necessarily the people living within it.

In order to end Israel´s impunity we call on civil society to support the Palestinian campaign for an international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Signatories,
The One Democratic State Group – Gaza
University Teacher Association in Palestine – Gaza
Arab Cultural Forum – Gaza

Endorsed by,
Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements – West Bank

if you need further reasons why you must act watch this video that is a montage of all the israeli terrorist propaganda circulating in the media in the u.s., and i’m sure around the world, as compared to the facts on the ground that most journalists are not privy to given the fact that israeli terrorists like to ban people from witnessing their war crimes and massacres:

why is it that so many disparate groups are speaking up and acting out? (as opposed to world leaders who breathe a lot of hot air and don’t to anything…) for those of you who like to just sit on your asses and put your name to a simple petition and feel like you did something, here are a few you can sign:

amnesty international: Tell Congress to help humanitarian workers get into Gaza and to suspend all transfers of weapons to Israel

stop the bloodshed petition to the united nations: The world cannot allow the bloodshed in the Middle East to continue. Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed and wounded, almost 1 million made homeless, and a catastrophic larger conflict is possible. We call on US President, UK Prime Minister Blair and the UN Security Council to support UN Secretary-General that call for an immediate ceasefire.

avaaz.org: Petition to the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League and the USA: We urge you to act immediately to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, to protect civilians on all sides, and to address the growing humanitarian crisis. Only through robust international action and oversight can the bloodshed be stopped, the Gaza crossings safely re-opened and real progress made toward a wider peace in 2009.

okay and now it is 3:48 am and i have to meet baha’a in 4 hours…must sleep. tisbah ala watan ya tamara… mwah!

الصمود في غزة

gaza graffiti on wall outside my old apartment in hamra
gaza graffiti on wall outside my old apartment in hamra

i keep thinking about safa joudeh. the last two days since i read and blogged her words from electornic intifada:

We have fled for too long, Gaza is our last refuge and our home after we were displaced from what is now called Israel. All this happened 60 years ago. What more could they want? We have nowhere left to go. They have disregarded every single international law there is. Now is the time to defend ourselves, now is the time for resistance.

i found her online and i asked her what we can do for her–those who want to support the resistance from beirut or nablus. those who would come to fight in the resistance if we could, but are unable to get there. i was somewhat surprised by her answer, but i think it is important to really think about what she says:

It’s wonderful to hear about the demonstrations being organized and here in Gaza knowing what’s going on in the rest of the world and that people are outraged is truly a huge source of comfort. At this point we feel so helpless, I for one wish that there was more I can do than write! but I think raising awareness is very important and that gives me comfort. And I think that would be the best thing people outside can do to help.

she wants us to write. to raise awareness. to demonstrate. demonstrate so that it makes the media. so that they see it in gaza. to show them that we care. so simple. but we must do this every day. and we must organize and do this in numbers big numbers. like hezbollah: yesterday they got 20,000 people into the streets of nabatiya to march for gaza. yesterday the communists and pflp, who seem to be doing most of the organizing in beirut, got about 20 people to protest in front of the egyptian embassy (well, a few blocks away because the internal security forces [isf] has the street cordoned off with barbed wire) and today in the pouring rain we had maybe 1,000 people at a march from barbir to downtown. but more on that later.

gaza coffins, hamra street, beirut
gaza coffins, hamra street, beirut

last night some dear friends got together to discuss what we could do, how we could not only support palestinians in gaza, but their resistance, their stadfastness, their الصمود. one of my friends told a story about an ‘azza he went to once for a friend whose relative had died. at the time my friend did not think much about the act of going to the ‘azza to pay his condolences for his friend; it is a normal thing people do. but he later learned how much it meant to his friend. after this ‘azza the friend later told my friend that he had divided his friends into two camps: those who paid their condolences and those who did not. something with this clicked with me instantly. i remember when my mom died in my senior year of college. i was very struck by people’s responses to this. those friends who wrote me letters, who called, who came to the funeral indeed were people i remained closed to. those who did nothing i never spoke to again. it is very clear what we need when people we love die: we need to know that people are standing with us; we need to know that people will that there are people who will help us to get through those difficult times. this is the bare minimum that we can do. to lend our emotional support to the palestinian people in gaza. to show them that we are with their armed struggle against zionist colonizers and terrorists 100%. too, after loved ones die, after palestinians in gaza become martyrs we have practical questions of how we can help prepare them to carry on this revolution to liberate palestine. and we need to convince people in lebanon of this issue as much as we need to convince those palestinians that their support should be with the people not with the cia-controlled palestinian authority.

this is why we must remember the martyrs and name them and not forget them and honor their death in a dignified way. in solidarity. the latest massacre figures are as follows:

Twenty three Gazans have been killed since midnight Sunday morning and dozens injured by new weapons that ensure the incineration of buildings and people hit by the explosives.

The Israeli Phosphoric bombs have not yet been used in the Gaza offensive.

The total for the 16 days of Israeli strikes and ground fire is now 875 killed, 3,620 injured and 411 seriously wounded.

and there are now 50,000 internally displaced people (idps) in gaza. so the subject of conversation in beirut, among friends of mine, is focused on what we can do from here: how can we support the steadfastness, the resistance from here? how can we place pressure on external players who have blood on their hands for participating in this massacre either by arming the israeli terrorists (the united states) or by closing the borders and now helping palestinians who wish to flee (egypt) or by those in collusion with this american-israeli massacre on the political level (jordan, saudi arabia). this pressure is important for the long-term struggle. and we identified 3 levels of this struggle that need to be dealt with and supported:

1. the military struggle (which those of us outside cannot really help with)

2. putting pressure on external players (boycott, divestment, sanctions, protests)

3. supporting the psychological steadfastness of the palestinians in gaza (protests, writing, educating)

in all of these levels we need to be highly visible. it needs to be done well. to be coordinated without factionalism. but the third element–to which the second one is related–is important because we don’t want palestinians in gaza to become a defeated people. we want them to see the support and continue their resistance. to know that it is worth it. this is why even the propaganda that we see on television stations like al manar (which you can watch online) is important.

another important thing my friend mentioned in our discussion is that what is happening in gaza is symptomatic of the arab world so we need a systemic response to it. even if we were capable of smuggling weapons from here, it would be a bandaid response to a larger, regional problem. what is needed, what they don’t have is support from the arab world. obviously, the people of the arab world support the people of gaza; but we need new governments in these complicit states that reflect the will of the people not these regimes we see in jordan and egypt that are in collusion with the united states. we need to put pressure to halt all normalization with the zionist entity so that we can truly liberate palestine. the armed resistance in gaza is not a problem as kabobfest observed last week and angry arab observed yesterday: in 1967 the region was defeated in 6 days. we are now into day 16 and palestinians are not defeated in the least.

jordanian flag painted over with red...
look closely at the flag: jordanian flag painted over with red…

one reason it was important for us to have this discussion last night, and why many of my friends are continuing to have such discussions here, is because we need to figure out how we can act in ways that would be powerful and effective. so that the media comes to the protests, so that people in gaza see us on television and know that we are here for them, with them. we need to think how people can best be mobilized. and this question came up because we went to a protest yesterday at the egyptian embassy and it was only sparsely attended. there were about 20 people there. we couldn’t get nearly close enough as all the streets in a one-block radius around the embassy are blocked off with barbed wire. some of the protesters brought pictures from the massacre in gaza and affixed them to the barbed wire (oddly: al jazeera english, which showed images from our demonstration yesterday, said that we put this barbed wire there: we did not! the internal security forces put it there so that we could not get close enough to the embassy as they did in yemen). this demonstration, like the one i went to today, was organized by the various leftist and communist parties in lebanon and from the palestinian refugee camps here. but yesterday there were 3 protests: this one at the embassy, a candlelight vigil in sassine square in ashrafiyeh, and a mass at an ‘aoun affiliated church in ashrafiyeh which had around 250 people in attendance.

dsc00039

on a side note: we went to buy flags for the protest at a shop in hamra yesterday. once we got there and we saw the sun shining on the red of the flag we noticed that the flag shop sold us jordanian flags with the white star painted over in red to make it a palestinian flag. anyway, these protests at the egyptian embassy are daily, which may be one reason for the sparse attendance. so we are trying to think about how to best connect people. the people are too divided–even among the left here. there are multiple meetings every day. there are too many protests. we need one big one every day. like an ‘azza, in a central place, like in the cemetery outside shatila refugee camp where people from mar elias refugee camp, bourj al barajneh refugee camp, and the christian, shi’a, and sunni neighborhoods nearby can easily get to. where we can maybe get at least 1,000 people every day to attend, to mourn for 40 days. to show solidarity with the people of gaza. an on-going vigil. it must be centrally located. this is more important than the nightly vigil at the united nations escwa building downtown, the spaces of the elite, rich people. and we need to duplicate the work of the people in bourj al barajneh camp that has the phone bank to call people in gaza to let them know we are with them 100%. every day.

the key is this: the focus must be on the palestinian people of gaza. this is not and cannot be about people’s egos, their desire for power or fame or control of one political party or another, which is what it sort of seems like to me at the moment.

egyptian embassy in the distance
egyptian embassy in the distance

on a related note my friend also had an important thing to say about the political parties with which we align ourselves. we expect that whatever party we belong to meet our ideological perspective 100%. and if it doesn’t we tend to not want to involve ourselves. for instance, there are things about hezbollah or hamas that i do not agree with, but their resistance is strong and steadfast and i support both in this 100%. but this is again related to questions i posed the other day when thinking about resistance. my friend said: we work at places, spend 8 hours a day at such places, that we do not agree with institutionally, politically. maybe we agree with our places of employment 20%. and yet we work there. so why is it that we are not willing to work with those political parties with which we agree maybe 80%? such thinking forces us to divide, to factionalize and this weakens our resistance and our ability to support people in gaza.

barbir to downtown march
barbir to downtown march

today’s demonstration, though, was better in some respects as there seemed to be around 1,000 people. we met in barbir and marched to downtown in the pouring rain and hail. but people did not seem to run for shelter and abandon the demonstration. we marched in our soaking shoes, socks, pants in spite of the weather. but again, just one political orientation: just leftists. where are the others? why can’t we join forces with hezbollah and ‘aoun, for instance, and make our voices louder and stronger. sure al jadeed television and al jazeera and al manar television will cover these events, but the bigger we are the more support we lend to the people of gaza and that should be our overall goal. we should not forget this.

marching in the rain
marching in the rain

as for other forms of resistance: boycott, divestment, sanctions and a total cessation of any form of normalization with israeli terrorists should be demanded by people all over the planet. not just the arab world. just as i divided the world into two parts after my mom died: those who stood with me and those who ignored me, i feel the same way now. those who normalize and those who don’t. those who stand steadfastly with palestinian resistance and those who do not. there is no space for a gray area now. we should follow norway’s example, for instance, in their boycott plans:

Norway has been the site of a flurry of Palestine solidarity activism and BDS initiatives over the past week, as tens of thousand of people have called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Oslo, and major trade unions are mobilizing in support of a comprehensive boycott and divestment campaign.

Demonstrations have now been held in at least 28 cities:

Oslo, Stavanger, Sandnes, Fredrikstad, Trondheim, Hamar, Sortland, Namsos, Arendal, Norheimsund, MosjÃen, Bergen, Sarpsborg, TÃnsberg, Harstad, TromsøKristiansand, Notodden, VadsøMoi Rana, Alta, Kirkenes, RÃros, Volda, Halden, GjÃvik, Lillehammer, Selbu.

The numbers of participants have never been bigger.

Union activities:

POLITICAL STRIKE: Thursday ALL trains in the whole of Norway, and all trams and subways in Oslo, will stand still for two minutes as a result of a political strike organized by the Norwegian Locomotive Union and the Oslo Tram Workers Union in protest of the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

A large selection of Norwegian trade unions and organizations has endorsed a new campaign for the withdrawal of all State investments in Israel. The call is endorsed by so far 6 of the largest national trade unions.

The Union of Trade and Office Workers calls on all members to ask their employers to remove Israeli products from stores. The union is the by far largest union of workers in all types of private and public stores in Norway.

The confederation of Norwegian Trade Unions (LO), with apr. 1/5 of the whole Norwegian population as members, condemns the Israeli bombing and invasion in Gaza and calls for demonstrations.

The Norwegian Church has protested Israels invasion of Gaza and was, according to media, “called to the carpet” by the Israeli ambassador.

22.000 supports the Facebook-group demanding the ambassador to be expelled from Norway. The Facebook-group has got attention in all major newspaper and was hacked by a Zionist hacker-group but is now back on track.

31% of Norwegians supports the boycott of Israel, in a survey by the pro-Israel tabloid VG today. The question was politically charged “Do you support the Socialist Left’s boycott of Israel?” If not mentioning the Socialists the number would probably be much higher. The vast majority in all groups in the survey is against the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

likewise, in canada we are seeing increased workers mobilize in solidarity with palestinians in gaza through boycott:

On behalf of the 56,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, I am writing to demand that the Canadian government condemn the military assault on the people of Gaza that the state of Israel commenced on December 26th, 2008.

Canada must also call for a cessation of the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza, which has resulted in the collective punishment of the entire Gaza population.

Canada must also address the root cause of the violence: Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Israel’s current actions are totally out of proportion with any notion of self-defense. Israel’s actions are resulting in the massacre of people in Gaza.

Israels action will not bring peace to the region. they will result in Israel being less secure.

Professor Richard Falk, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied territories, has characterized the Israeli offensive as containing “…severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regards to the obligations of an occupying power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”

CUPW strongly urges the Canadian government to condemn the serious violations of humanitarian and international law by the state of Israel.

The Israeli Government’s siege and military incursions into Gaza are not isolated events. It is a direct result of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine and the refusal of the Israeli government to abide by numerous United Nations security council resolutions.

Therefore, as a longer term strategy, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is asking your government to adopt a program of boycott, divestment and sanctions until Israel recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and complies with international law, including the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Yours truly,

Denis Lemelin
National President

cc.
Michael Ignatieff, Liberal Leader
Jack Layton, NDP Leader
Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Quebecois Leader
Ken Georgetti, Canadian Labor Congress

and in egypt we see more action on the front of destabilizing its normalizing relations with the zionist terrorist regime:

90 members of the Egyptian parliament have asked for accelerating the endorsement of a draft law banning the sale of natural gas to Israel in the light of the latter’s “criminal aggression on the Gaza Strip”.

The request signed by 90 MPs asked for respecting the Egyptian state court’s ruling that banned such exports.

They also asked for canceling the minister of petroleum’s decision in 2005 that approved the signing of a deal allowing the export of gas to Israel.

MP Hussein Ibrahim, Muslim Brotherhood deputy, said that he tabled a proposal to this effect in the past parliamentary session but it was delayed and he was now insisting on putting it to vote in the current session.

Signatories to the request, tabled with the parliament speaker, said that they would not tolerate witnessing Egyptian gas and petroleum being exported to Israel at a time it was using it in killing Gaza children.

burning the israeli terrorist flag
burning the israeli terrorist flag

likewise academics must stop their normalizing relations with israeli professors and institutions who are complicit in israeli state terrorism (all israeli universities are state run institutions that produce the knowledge that enables their genocidal practices and policies and there has NEVER been a single israeli academic body to condemn this behavior). dear rania and i wrote an article for the chronicle of higher education last week, addressed to our academic colleagues in the united states, but they ignored it and refused to publish it. it is now on dissident voice. i encourage you to read it in full (as well as rania’s updating of it on her blog), but here is what we are demanding:

We urge our fellow academics to not only support this statement in theory, but also in practice by pushing for academic boycott on your campuses as you return to classes this week. Supporting the human rights of Palestinians is not anti-Semitic; it is about human rights: Palestinian human rights. If this were any other captive population besieged for seven days with US-made materiel, we would be outraged and acting. So we are asking you to act now. It is our tax dollars at work that enables this massacre to take place. Let us work for justice, for consistency. Let us make apartheid, in all its forms, only present in history books.


the blog south lebanon also republished the piece;
we hope others will not only follow in getting the word out, but alter their behavior institutionally and personally. i refuse to subscribe to the belief that freedom of speech is more important than the palestinian people who are being slaughtered.

canadians have been active on this academic boycott front for a while now and are renewing that work, though shamefully american academics are not in the same way:

CUPE Ontario’s university workers committee will bring a resolution to its annual conference supporting a ban on Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities as a protest against the December 29 bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza.

“In response to an appeal from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, we are ready to say Israeli academics should not be on our campuses unless they explicitly condemn the university bombing and the assault on Gaza in general,” said Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario. “It’s a logical next step, building on policy adopted by our provincial convention in 2006.”

Resolution 50, adopted in May 2006, supported boycotts, divestment and sanctions aimed at bringing about the Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and a just peace in the region.

“Clearly, international pressure on Israel must increase to stop the massacre that is going on daily,” said Janice Folk-Dawson, chair of the CUPE Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee, whose conference is scheduled for February. “We are proud to add CUPE voices to others from around the world saying enough is enough.”

Ryan and other CUPE representatives will join in the demonstration against the Israeli assault on Gaza at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, January 3 at Dundas Square in Toronto.

likewise, the palestinian academic and cultural boycott of israel wrote a letter this week to soas for its normalizing relationship with tel aviv university in the midst of this horrific genocide on gaza:

Dear Professor Paul Webley,

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is gravely concerned that the School of Oriental and African Studies will be hosting the Tel Aviv University Special Lecture Series marking Tel Aviv’s centennial (January 12th-March 16th).

At a time when the Israeli government is unleashing the full force of its military might in an all-out war against an essentially defenceless population in the occupied Gaza Strip, celebrating Tel Aviv while Gaza burns is morally repulsive. It is an indefensible position for an academic institution to take while a population, over half of whom are children, are subject to daily attacks that are widely recognized as violating international humanitarian law and basic human rights.

Tel Aviv is not a ‘White City on the Dunes’ promising a ‘Mediterranean Dream’ as the titles of two lectures in the Lecture Series would have us believe. Rather, as the seat of Israeli political and economic power, Tel Aviv houses the masterminds of Israel’s longstanding policies of ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and military subjugation. It is hence more emblematic of apartheid and colonial rule than any other Israeli city.

Tel Aviv is a city in colonial denial. Its very existence and expansion are products of the Zionist project of erasing the physical presence of the Palestinians, their culture, heritage and memory. The adjacent Palestinian city of Jaffa and numerous villages were emptied of their indigenous inhabitants to make way for the ‘White City’. This fact is conspicuously absent from the Special Lecture Series and thus renders the lectures no better than political propaganda on behalf of Israel and its ongoing project of colonial dispossession.

It may be claimed that as an academic institution, Tel Aviv University stands apart from all this. But it is important to stress that the university was built on the lands of the Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwannis, a village largely destroyed in 1948 and its inhabitants ethnically cleansed and forced to flee for their lives. The “Green House”, the former home of the head of the village, is one of the few original buildings of the village that remains and currently serves as a restaurant for university faculty. The President of Tel Aviv University refused to acknowledge its history and objected to the posting of a sign on the “Green House” that would explain its origin. The campaign to pressure the university to recognize its history has been led by the Israeli organization Zochrot. [1]

The university not only refuses to recognize its past, but is also an integral part of Israel’s brutal occupation and apartheid regime imposed on the Palestinians, including the current savage bombardment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. Typical is the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), an external institute of Tel Aviv University, which boasts in its mission statement of its “strong association with the political and military establishment”. Advising governmental decision makers and public leaders on important “strategic issues”, it is no stretch of the imagination to suppose that the INSS has played a direct or indirect role in the current Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

In common with all other Israeli academic bodies and institutions, Tel Aviv University has never taken a public stand against the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, or criticized the closure of Palestinian universities which are part of a longstanding assault on Palestinian education. Unsurprisingly then, no voice was heard from Tel Aviv or any other academic institution in Israel condemning the bombing of the campus of the Islamic University in Gaza on December 28th, 2008. In addition to Palestinian academics, we know that a significant number of their international and UK colleagues are shocked at the deafening silence emanating from the Israeli academy. As the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees asked in their recent statement [2], are Israeli universities willing to call for an end to the occupation? Are Israeli academics going to speak out in support of freedom of education and call for an end to their government’s assault on Palestinian education? Are they going to cut their organic and deep-rooted ties with the military-security establishment? Or are the members of the academy dutifully preparing for the reserve call-up just approved by their government, ready to serve in the death squads committing what international human rights organisations have described as war crimes?

While some may claim that an academic institution such as SOAS, should remain above ‘political frays’ and provide instead a neutral forum for the open exchange of ideas, hosting such an event, and particularly as Gaza is being decimated by Israel, is to support and acquiesce in Israel’s vicious and illegal actions. We urge the administration of SOAS to cancel the Special Lecture Series to avoid being held complicit in whitewashing Israel’s grave violations of international law, to take a minimal stand in solidarity with your Palestinian colleagues, and in response to the call issued by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, BNC, urging international civil society “not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel’s massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights.”[3] We agree with the statement’s conclusion that “without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians, burying any prospects for a just peace under the blood and rubble of Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem.”

SOAS has the opportunity to uphold ethical principles and the universality of human rights by cancelling this ill-conceived propaganda exercise, thereby contributing to bringing about the conditions for a just and lasting peace for Palestine and the entire region.

Sincerely,
PACBI
www.pacbi.org

likewise in scottland there is a call for boycott:

SCOTTISH COMMITTEE FOR THE UNIVERSITIES OF PALESTINE

Press release: 1-00 pm / 4th January 2009 – Glasgow

As evening closed in on Saturday 3rd January 2009 F-16 fighter planes
 renewed their bombing of one of the most densely populated areas of land in the world, killing more Palestinian civilians. In seven days Israel has killed over 500 Palestinians and injuring thousand of innocents. And now it has embarked on a full scale ground invasion.

We note and deplore the failure of the UN Security Council to condemn the Israeli massacre of Gazans in the Strip; the international body has proved itself a farce by once again colluding in the US-EU-Israeli effort to thwart peace. In these circumstances we call for all members of Scottish civil society to support all demonstrations against this atrocity, to join lobbies and write to representatives, and to contribute to medical aid through various organisations. We seriously urge the BBC to speak out against the Israel’s concealment of its atrocities, away from the world’s media. Again Israel defies international law and its own legal system. We say this is not the action of a democracy! Journalists and media organizations must therefore make formal objections to this ban. Israel cannot be allowed to conceal its war crimes.

We call for a boycott of Israel and for ordinary people to participate in peaceful actions everywhere opposing actions of the Zionist state and express real support for the Palestinian people. We also demand that the UK government withdraw its ambassador in Tel Aviv immediately and cease diplomatic relations until Israel starts conforming to the norms of international relations. A country that spurns diplomacy as an option for resolving its disputes must not benefit from the legitimacy that diplomatic recognition confers.

Israel must withdraw from the Gaza Strip immediately. The bombing and ground operation must cease without delay; and the border crossing with Egypt must be opened forthwith. There is no justification for withholding food, water, power and essential services to 1.5 million civilians. International observers and the press must be allowed into Gaza and, finally, the Scottish civil society must respond to the call issued by their Palestinian counterparts in adopting the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign and generate international pressure where the multinational institutions have been remiss. Israeli institutions and produce must be rejected. We urge shoppers to look for replacement goods from peaceful states.

For further information and contacts who may be interviewed please contact:

Keith Hammond

Notes:

The Scottish Committee for the Universities of Palestine is a committee of academics and similar professionals, established in 2008 as a sister organisation to the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP). The Scottish Committee is committed to furthering the boycott of the state of Israel. We aim to popularise amongst in Scottish universities and broader civil society the humanitarian consequences of Israel’s war policies. We aim to highlight the racist state of Israel’s systematic destruction of Palestinian universities and schools, hospitals, and municipalities. We work towards an end to the Israeli occupation, meaningful peace in the dismantling of the apartheid wall, the checkpoints and illegal settlements; and we campaign to further the building of a free state of Palestine.

i know it is a lot to ask of americans to think about palestinians as human beings (just look at the white house’s response to the death of its f(*&^%$ cat compared to the 857 palestinians in gaza as one example) whose rights and lives are more important than their precious positions in corporations or universities. this is why i had naievely thought that israeli terrorists targeting not only universities and schools, but united nations unrwa schools housing palestinian idps might just get their attention and force them to change their point of view. but clearly this is not the case as of yet. nevertheless, it is worth reading ameer ahmad and ed vulliamy’s piece in the guardian today on what they call scholasticide:

A new word emerged from the carnage in Gaza this week: “scholasticide” – the systematic destruction by Israeli forces of centres of education dear to Palestinian society, as the ministry of education was bombed, the infrastructure of teaching destroyed, and schools across the Gaza strip targeted for attack by the air, sea and ground offensives.

“Learn, baby, learn” was a slogan of the black rights movement in America’s ghettoes a generation ago, but it also epitomises the idea of education as the central pillar of Palestinian identity – a traditional premium on schooling steeled by occupation, and something the Israelis “cannot abide… and seek to destroy”, according to Dr Karma Nabulsi, who teaches politics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. “We knew before, and see more clearly now than ever, that Israel is seeking to annihilate an educated Palestine,” she says.

The Palestinians are among the most thoroughly educated people in the world. For decades, Palestinian society – both at home in the West Bank and Gaza, and scattered in the diaspora – has put a singular emphasis on learning. After the expulsions of 1948 and after the 1967 occupation, waves of refugees created an influential Palestinian intelligentsia and a marked presence in the disciplines of medicine and engineering across the Arab world, Europe and the Americas.

“Education is the most important thing – it is part of the family life, part of your identity and part of the rebellion,” says Nabulsi. “Everyone knows this, and in a refugee camp like Gaza, every child knows that in those same schooldesks sat your parents and your grandparents, whose tradition they carry on.”

Schooling and university studies are the fabric of life despite, not because of, circumstances: every university in the occupied territories has been closed down at some point by Israeli forces, many of them regularly. However, the closures and arrests of students (more than 300 at Birzeit university in Ramallah, says Nabulsi) only strengthens the desire to become educated.

In the current offensive, Israel began attacking Gaza’s educational institutions immediately. On only the second and third day of air attacks last week, Israeli planes wreaked severe damage in direct strikes on Gaza’s Islamic University. The main buildings were devastated, destroying administrative records, and, of course, ending studies. The Ministry of Education has been hit twice by direct hits from the air.

The Saturday of the ground invasion was the day on which most students in Gaza sit their end-of-year examinations. In the majority of cases, these had to be abandoned, and it remains unclear whether they can or will be sat again. Other schools were also attacked – most notoriously the UN establishment in the Jabaliya refugee camp where at least 40 people were massacred on Tuesday.

On Sunday, another Israeli air strike destroyed the pinnacle of Palestinian schooling, the elite and private American International School, to which the children of business and other leaders went, among them Fulbright scholars unable to take up their places in the United States because of the Israeli blockade. Ironically, the same school was attacked last year by a group called the Holy Jihad Brigades, and has been repeatedly vandalised for its association with western-style education.

The school was founded in 2000 to offer a “progressive” (and fully co-educational) American-style curriculum, taught in English, from kindergarten to sixth form, and was said by the Israelis to have been the site, or near the site, from which a rocket was fired. A night watchman was killed in the destruction of the building.

The chairman of its board of trustees, Iyad Saraj, says: “This is the most distinguished and advanced school in Gaza, if not in Gaza and the West Bank. I cannot swear there was no rocket fired, but if there was, you don’t destroy a whole school.” He adds: “This is the destruction of civilisation.”

The school has no connection to the US government, Saraj says, and many of the 250 who graduate from it each year go on to US universities. “They are very good, highly educated open-minded students who can really be future leaders of Palestine.”

Young Palestinians playing in Daniel Barenboim’s celebrated East-West Divan Orchestra – which this week again brings Palestinian and Israeli musicians together to play a prestigious concert in Vienna – say that music schools in their communities and refugee camps are “not just educating young people, but helping them understand their identity”, as Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, a violinist based in Nazareth, puts it, adding: “And the Israelis are not necessarily happy with that.”

Ramzi Aburedwan, who runs the Al-Kamandjati classical music school in Ramallah, argues: “What the Israelis are doing is killing the lives of the people. Bring music, and you bring life. The children who played here were suddenly interested in their future”.

In a recent lecture, Nabulsi at St Edmund Hall recalled the tradition of learning in Palestinian history, and the recurrent character of the teacher as an icon in Palestinian literature. “The role and power of education in an occupied society is enormous. Education posits possibilities, opens horizons. Freedom of thought contrasts sharply with the apartheid wall, the shackling checkpoints, the choking prisons,” she said.

This week, following the bombing of schools in Gaza, she says: “The systematic destruction of Palestinian education by Israel has countered that tradition since the occupation of 1967,” citing “the calculated, wholesale looting of the Palestinian Research Centre in Beirut during the 1982 war and the destruction of all those manuscripts and archived history.”

“Now in Gaza,” she says, “we see the policy more clearly than ever – this ‘scholasticide’. The Israelis know nothing about who we really are, while we study and study them. But deep down they know how important education is to the Palestinian tradition and the Palestinian revolution. They cannot abide it and have to destroy it.”

again, i must ask: what are you doing? what are you going to do? what sacrifices are you willing to make to support the palestinian people in gaza?