on visas

so i have been getting settled in amman. i have moved yet again. hopefully this will be the last time for a while. it was a very difficult decision for me to leave palestine, though it is one i made some time ago. ultimately, one of my prime motivations for leaving the u.s. was not not be a taxpayer there any longer so as not to contribute to the u.s. machine of death, theft, destruction in palestine, iraq, afghanistan, pakistan, we can add honduras now, who knows where we’ll have to add next. ultimately i knew that i could not stay in palestine forever given that foreigners (i.e., not palestinians; read: zionist colonist terrorists) control the borders and they get to play a game with the lives of all people who cross over into palestine whether they are originally palestinian or not. i’ve long heard stories and received emails–some from friends and comrades, others from complete strangers–about being denied entry. about being allowed limited entry, in terms of time. about three weeks before i left a friend of mine left for amman to renew her visa. she’s finishing up research for her dissertation and living in ramallah. she came back and said she had only a few days and she had to leave again. not only could she only stay one week (in lieu of the normal three month visa granted to foreigners at the malak hussein bridge), but she was granted a west bank only visa. this was the first time i had heard of such a thing. but it turns out that it was quickly becoming a phenomenon. and there have been a number of articles written about it since:

new west bank-only visa stamp from the zionist terrorist colonists
new west bank-only visa stamp from the zionist terrorist colonists

first there was an article by toufic haddad laying out this issue in the faster times:

“Palestinian Authority only” greatly restricts this freedom of movement, and thus undoes the former arrangement. It essentially precludes travel to areas of pre-1967 Israel, as well as to Israeli controlled areas in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem….

Israel exercises full control over 59 percent of the West Bank – areas known as “Area C.”

It further exercises security control over an additional 24 percent of the West Bank (Area B) with the Palestinian Authority [PA] in control of civil affairs there.

The only area which the PA nominally controls in full, and which a holder of this stamp is thus presumably eligible to travel to, is Area A. The latter comprises the remaining 17 percent of the West Bank.

Area A however is not composed of one territorial unit, but is divided into thirteen non-contiguous areas….

Israel’s travel restrictions to PA areas are somewhat contradictory. Visitors can seemingly travel to Area As but must do so by crossing Israeli controlled areas (Area C). This means that visitors have the right to hop between different Area A ‘islands’, but can’t be caught in between.

Moreover, the very restriction on travel is equivalent to a country issuing a visa to a specific area of its country, but not to the whole country. A parallel might be the U.S. issuing a visa only to majority-black Harlem in Manhattan, or the Mashantucket Pequot reservation in Connecticut.

This happens to violate the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (also known as “Oslo II” or “Taba”) which states that “Tourists to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from countries having diplomatic relations with Israel, who have passed through an international crossing, will not be required to pass any additional entry control before entry into Israel.” (Annex 1, Article IX “Movement Into, Within and Outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” 2 (e))

later the palestine chronicle reported that an official decision had been made about these new visa rules:

Israel’s tourism ministry on Monday slammed the interior ministry for enacting new restrictions that would prevent foreigners from visiting both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The measure, which was quietly enacted earlier this year, forces arriving visitors to choose between a visa for Israel and one for the Palestinian territories, potentially preventing them from traveling to both.

“This decision taken by the interior ministry causes significant damage to Israel’s image and to incoming tourism for those tourists who visit the holy sites in the Palestinian Authority,” the tourism ministry said in a statement.

It demanded that the matter be discussed in the Knesset, or parliament, which is currently on summer recess.

A spokeswoman for the interior ministry would not immediately comment.

The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has posted a message on its website informing travelers of the new visa stamp being issued at Ben Gurion Airport and the Allenby crossing with Jordan that permits travel only in the West Bank.

“Anyone indicating that they either have connections to the West Bank or are planning to travel to the West Bank may get this stamp, which does not permit them to enter into (or, in the case of Ben Gurion, return to) green-line Israel,” it says.

in most countries, like here in jordan, when you are hired as a foreigner they don’t make you live as a tourist leaving the country every three months as the foreign zionist terrorist colonists do. people who work in palestine–some of whom are palestinian with foreign passports–have to do that. they have to leave every three months. i got lucky in that an najah university was able to get me a six month visa for my last semester. but that is also at the whim of what the zionists decide and completely random. there was no telling if i’d ever be able to get one again. and as the piece above makes clear it is possible that if i received a visa i’d have to decide which side of the zionist drawn green line would i be on. of course it would be on the side with the west bank. that would mean i would not be able to visit the u.s. consulate if i needed anything, nor would i be able to go to the zionist terrorist colonist interior ministry if i wanted to challenge such a thing because all such offices are in al quds, which has been annexed and stolen by them. but i also experienced this sort of visa issue this summer. i was having coffee with a friend in al quds and her friend called from qalandia checkpoint. he was palestinian canadian, originally from yaffa, visiting palestine for the first time. the zionist terrorist colonists at the checkpoint tore up his visa, which was on a separate paper inside his passport, because since he flew into their airport on the occupied land of lydd, he could no go back to “israel.” they said he left and went to another country so he could not return. we went to qalandia to pick him up and smuggle him out so he could challenge this, get a new visa, and report it to the canadian embassy (though unlike the americans, the canadians have offices in the west bank).

then last week a european woman (she did not identify herself exactly, but i have a feeling she is irish and that i have seen her before) emailed me to tell me that she could not get back into palestine at all. she said she was also a professor, although at bethlehem university, and that she was denied entry altogether. the chronicle of higher education ran a piece last week documenting the effect of the visa situation in palestine on academics by matthew kalman (thanks aneil) and i think the irish woman in the piece is the one who emailed me:

Israel has clamped down on the movement of foreign academics teaching at Palestinian universities in the West Bank, barring some from entering the region altogether or stamping “Palestinian Authority only” in the passports of others, preventing them from entering Israel.

An English-language instructor from Ireland who taught for several years at the Arab American University, in Jenin, was refused entry on August 23 when she returned to the West Bank to take up a new position at Bethlehem University and is now unable to teach. A Canadian instructor of Iranian descent was given the “Palestinian Authority only” stamp when he arrived on Sunday to teach at the Arab American University’s English Language Center. A British lecturer in Middle East politics had to cancel a planned lecture at Birzeit University this year after she was denied entry by Israeli immigration officials.

The Irish instructor, who asked not to be named, said she had been teaching English at the Arab American University since 2007. Although the Israeli authorities refused to issue her a work permit, in the past they had always accepted her employment contract and extended her tourist visa to the contract’s end date.

She left the West Bank for Jordan on August 20 and returned via the Allenby Bridge, which connects the West Bank with Jordan, on August 23, with 11 days left on her visa.

“I was due to take up a new position at Bethlehem University on August 24. I had a letter from the university on official paper, but it was all very different this time,” she told The Chronicle from Jordan, where she was stranded. “I was kept waiting for four hours and then the immigration officer started screaming at me about a lack of work permit.”

After lengthy interrogation by a plainclothes security officer and an Israeli Ministry of the Interior official, she was photographed, fingerprinted, and told her request to enter was denied.

“It is greatly to be regretted, she was a valued employee,” said Graham Stott, chair of the department of modern languages at the Arab American University.

Mr. Stott said several lecturers who were allowed in were issued visas restricting them to the Palestinian Authority areas only.

“For some the restrictive visa is not problematic because they are here to work in Jenin, and they are quite happy to leave via Jordan and so it doesn’t really affect them. For others who had planned to visit Israel it seriously compromises their position and their ability to do research,” Mr. Stott said.

Information for travelers posted on the Web site of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem confirms the recent change in policy.

“Anyone indicating that they either have connections to the West Bank or are planning to travel to the West Bank, may get this stamp,” which does not permit them to enter into or return to Israel. “The Consulate can do nothing to assist in getting this visa status changed,” the Web site states. It is not clear when or why the new visas were introduced. The Israeli Defense Ministry directed all inquiries to the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the territories. A spokesman for the coordinator directed inquiries to the country’s Interior Ministry, where a spokesperson did not return calls seeking comment.

The new visa being stamped in tourists’ passports has been criticized for unfairly limiting the movements of visitors with Palestinian relatives or friends, whose first stop may be the West Bank but who intend to visit Israel as well. Many Americans of Palestinian origin but who lack Palestinian passports have been turned back on arrival at Ben Gurion Airport and told they can enter only from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge.

Hanadi Abu-Taha, administrative assistant at the Arabic-language-teaching program at Birzeit University, told The Chronicle that two American students and one Japanese student were turned back at the Jordanian-Israeli border at the end of August.

“None of them is from a Palestinian background. Students who came through Ben Gurion Airport managed to enter, but those who came through the land crossing from Jordan were refused. We don’t know why,” Miss Taha said.

“Because of the visa problems we have shortened the semester from four to three months, which is the length of the Israeli tourist visa. It is causing major disruption,” she said.

Toufic Haddad, a Palestinian-American activist who revealed the new policy on his blog in early August said the new visa was a violation of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Agreement (known as the Oslo II Accords), which allows for most foreign tourists to pass from the West Bank and Gaza Strip into Israel.

“Most visiting faculty have been granted a one-year single-entry visa if they are associated with an educational institution, but some haven’t,” said Salwa Duaibis, coordinator of the Right to Enter Campaign, a group advocating unfettered access to the Palestinian Authority areas. “I have a feeling there isn’t much effort put into making sure the regulations are understood by the police at the border.”

Ms. Duaibis said that foreign students enter on tourist visas and can be forced to leave after three months. “Universities cannot plan their academic year properly and neither students nor professors can rely on the arrangement 100 percent,” she said.

here is also a report by sherine tadros on al jazeera about this growing problem in palestine, especially for people who are palestinian foreign passport holders or who have familial ties to palestinians in the west bank:

i haven’t tried to go back yet since i left a month and a half ago. but i hope that i can at least get in so i can go to deheishe. for those who are already dealing with being denied a visa by the foreign occupier, i strongly recommend you check out the right to enter campaign’s website, as mentioned above in the chronicle article. they are very helpful and they have a lot of new resources on their website about this new way of the zionist terrorist colonists creating new facts on the ground. and these facts, jonathan cook reminds us in electronic intifada, are a kind of gazification of visa rules in the west bank:

In an echo of restrictions already firmly in place in Gaza, Israel has begun barring movement between Israel and the West Bank for those holding a foreign passport, including humanitarian aid workers and thousands of Palestinian residents.

The new policy is designed to force foreign citizens, mainly from North America and Europe, to choose between visiting Israel — including East Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed illegally — and the West Bank.

The new regulation is in breach of Israel’s commitments under the Oslo accords to Western governments that their citizens would be given continued access to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel has not suggested there are any security justifications for the new restriction.

Palestinian activists point out that the rule is being enforced selectively by Israel, which is barring foreign citizens of Palestinian origin from access to Israel and East Jerusalem while actively encouraging European and American Jews to settle in the West Bank.

US diplomats, who are aware of the policy, have raised no objections.

Additionally, human rights groups complain that the rule change will further separate East Jerusalem, the planned capital of a Palestinian state, from the West Bank. It is also expected to increase the pressures on families where one member holds a foreign passport to leave the region and to disrupt the assistance aid organizations are able to give Palestinians.

According to observers, the regulation was introduced quietly three months ago at the Allenby Bridge terminal on the border with Jordan, the only international crossing point for Palestinians in the West Bank. Israeli officials, who control the border, now issue foreign visitors with a visa for the “Palestinian Authority only,” preventing them from entering Israel and East Jerusalem.

Interior ministry officials say a similar policy is being adopted at Ben Gurion, Israel’s international airport near Tel Aviv, to bar holders of foreign passports who arrive via this route from reaching the West Bank. Foreign citizens, especially those with Palestinian ancestry, are being turned away and told to seek entry via the Allenby Bridge.

Gaza has long been off-limits to any Palestinian who is not resident there and has been effectively closed to Israelis and most foreigners since early 2006, when Israel began its blockade.

and that is what an apartheid visa system looks like.

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

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

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

–Frantz Fanon, “A Dying Colonialism”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A BDS Victory

Enter the story of Veolia and the light rail.

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

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

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

Said an exultant Omar Barghouti, a BDS founding member:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carbohydrates are divided into two broad categories:

simple carbohydrates,

e.g. glucose,

fructose (fruit sugar),

lactose (milk sugar),

sucrose (table sugar) etc.

complex carbohydrates,

e.g. starch

cellulose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

the latest on gaza

a few weeks ago there was a very important post on kabobfest entitled “stop saying free gaza.” it began like this:

Gaza is not a different country than Palestine; its plight is not isolated from that of the West Bank, Palestinian-Israelis, or Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora. So stop changing your banners and placards from “Free Palestine” and “End Apartheid” to “Free Gaza.”

Palestinians and their supporters alike have fallen in a simple trap set in the sideshow of Israel’s Attack on Gaza earlier this year. Israel has consistently tried to separate segments of the Palestinian society and find ways to foster distrust among them.

you should read the whole post, but it ended like this:

So, next time you carry a “Free Gaza” sign, think. Are you taking the side of one of the segments Israel forced? Has the rest of Palestine been freed? How much of the story are new solidarity recruits learning from you pushing this new branding campaign? What are you going to do next time Israel commits a massacre in different city? Are you going to print new placards? What if the city name is hard to pronounce?

Talk about Gaza as only the latest example of Israel’s atrocities, not as if it’s a separate conflict. Soon it will be a year (seemingly eternity) without Israel attacking Gaza, the border with Egypt get’s opened and food flows, What will be your slogan for the cause du jour?

Unless we keep our eyes on Israel’s apartheid, Israel’s racism, and colonialism, we will not be able to drive a successful strategy. Israel will keep playing and toying with us with its distraction tactics, and we will happily follow without realizing the impact our emotional and myopic acts have on the larger picture.

i think it is important not to separate gaza from any other part of the struggle to free palestine. the struggle is the same. it is anti-colonial. it is about refugees and their right of return. period. but the struggle in gaza looks different to the outside world. and so they carry the banner of free gaza. this is why palestinians got together and released a statement critiquing norman finkelstein’s march on gaza, the thrust of which is as follows:

1- The statement fails to give any political context to this abstract siege, avoiding to even condemn Israel’s military occupation! The siege is not just about suffering and humanitarian needs. It is about occupation and denial of Palestinians refugees in Gaza , as well as everywhere else, their fundamental right to return. That is also illegal. 80 per cent of Gazans are refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948.

2) We feel that the statement ostensibly addresses internationals and urges them to perform this non-violent act in solidarity with Palestinians under siege in Gaza, but it also lectures us, indirectly, about non-violence. Obviously, no Palestinians have been involved in writing it!

3) Everyone who wants to breach the Erez checkpoint from the Gaza side, as this purports to do, must first enter Gaza ! And how do they plan to do that? Egypt , the most important local collaborator with the siege will have none of that.

4) The statement ignores THE most effective non-violent means of resistance to date: BDS! This intentional omission and focus on Gandhi non-violence as a “new” form of resistance that must be taught to us smacks of naiveté and presumptuous colonial pompousness. Forms of resistance are not mutually exclusive. The writers of the statement could have supported the growing BDS campaign in parallel to endorsing this idea of a non-violent march.

5) Such a march must be first explicitly led by the Palestinians in Gaza, as represented by political forces and other civil society organs, and second explicitly advocated by Palestinians. Before organizing international brigades of Gandhian activists to come to Gaza to march “alongside the people of Gaza,” how about asking us Palestinians in Gaza what we want!

6) Palestinians in Gaza as referred to twice as “the people of Gaza,” further entrenching the Israeli division of the Palestinians into THE Palestinians, meaning those in the West Bank, Israeli Arabs, some abstract refugees, and “the people of Gaza .” Jerusalemites are, of course, Israelis with some special problems! The people in Gaza are only indirectly referred to as part of the Palestinian people. Again, no people, no right to self determination. Only a humanitarian issue.

We, therefore, will endorse the statement only if these serious concerns are taken into consideration.

Signed by:

The One Democratic State Group

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Information

Friends for the Visually Impaired

Al-Aqsa University-Academic Cooperation Dept.

while gaza is not separate from the rest of palestine nor is its struggle for justice different, it is important to understand the different context in which colonization and ethnic cleansing occur in gaza. here is a recent video from journalist jordan flaherty and lily keber that gives some idea to the ongoing siege there:

because it has now been three years since the zionist entity’s siege on gaza began, the united nations ocha office recently released a report documenting how this extreme form of ethnic cleansing is affecting palestinians in gaza. a summary of the report reads in part (and full summary can be read here):

Following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel has imposed an unprecedented blockade on all border crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip. The blockade has ‘locked in’ 1.5 million people in what is one of the most densely populated areas on earth, triggering a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences. At the heart of this crisis is the degradation in the living conditions of the population, caused by the erosion of livelihoods and the gradual decline in the state of infrastructure, and the quality of vital services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education.

The blockade, now in its third year, has taken place alongside recurrent cycles of violence and human rights violations, stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Hamas’s rule over Gaza. The denial of Palestinians’ right to leave Gaza, or to move freely to the West Bank, particularly when their lives, physical integrity, or basic freedoms are under threat, is another key component of the current human dignity crisis. This denial had a devastating impact during Israel’s “Cast Lead” military offensive, launched on 27 December 2008, contributing to the significant loss of civilian life and the large number of seriously injured and traumatized people as a result.

The three week-long Israeli offensive also involved the widespread destruction of homes, infrastructure and productive assets. The ongoing restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through the crossings has limited the ability of all relevant actors to address the immense needs and challenges that emerged as a result of the most recent military offensive.

Over the past three months, Israel has allowed entry into Gaza of a small number of truckloads carrying goods previously prevented from entering, including limited construction, water, sanitation and education materials. While these are welcome steps, their actual impact when compared to the current level of needs in Gaza remains negligible.

This blockade has been characterized by the UN’s most senior humanitarian official, John Holmes, as a form of collective punishment on the entire Gazan population. The UN, the ICRC, many states and humanitarian organizations have repeatedly urged the Government of Israel to remove the restrictions on Gaza’s borders; to allow free access to agricultural areas within Gaza, and to allow unrestricted fishing in Gaza’s territorial waters. These are the urgent first steps needed to start the reconstruction of homes and infrastructure, the revival of the economy and the restoration of human dignity in Gaza.

and it has been just over six months since the intensity of the zionist savagery ended, and yet, of course, the zionists controlling the prison that is gaza have made it impossible to remove rubble and to rebuild, as sherine tadros reported on al jazeera a couple of weeks ago:

a story from irin news this week illustrates just one of the many palestinian casualties of this siege:

Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of As-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumours in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.

In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.

“He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that that is all As-Shifa has to offer.

According to a July 2009 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, Gaza doctors and nurses do not have the medical equipment to respond to the health needs of the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.

Medical equipment is often broken, lacking spare parts, or outdated.

WHO attributes the dismal state of Gaza’s healthcare system to the Israeli blockade of the territory, tightened in June 2007 after Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the West, seized control. The poor organization of maintenance services in Gaza compounds the problem, reports WHO.

and the medical issues are compounded by the problems related to the imposed malnutrition according to a recent electronic intifada article by eva bartlett:

According to the UN and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the trickle of goods entering Gaza now is just a quarter of that prior to the siege, the majority of which is limited to basic food aid items. The aid-dependent families have moved from a balanced diet to one consisting mainly of sugar and carbohydrates, lacking in vitamins and proteins.

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites an increase in growth-stunting malnourishment, now at over 10 percent of children, attributed to a chronic lack of protein, iron, and essential vitamins. The WHO further warns of increasing anemia rates: 65 percent among children below 12 months of age, and 35 percent among pregnant women.

The United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gaza’s Ard al-Insan center for nutrition, among various bodies, note the link between malnutrition and a deficiency of protein and vegetables in the diet.

An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) June 2009 report notes that the effects of a restricted diet also include “difficulty in fighting off infections, fatigue and a reduced capacity to learn.” The ICRC warns of the long-term ramifications on Gaza’s malnourished children.

while the zionist entity and its american collaborators are chiefly responsible for this siege, the regime in egypt is also responsible for collective punishment of palestinians. kabobfest had another important post on the ways in which egypt profits from the siege on gaza:

As The president of Egypt tours the States talking about many issues including the Palestinian question. And I’m getting into my second month of my visit to Gaza and cannot deny the sad effects of the siege on Gaza. Most aspects of life in Gaza have been negatively affected by this unfair siege. The price of food especially, vegetables and fruits have now surpassed prices in the United States, same thing for clothing, shoes and electronics. While the cost of living in Gaza soared due to the sanction and limitations on the movement of goods, wages and salaries are nowhere near the States. Yes, there are tunnels in Gaza, and they smuggle all sort of things through these tunnels. Items as large as fridges and as small as birthday candles flow through the tunnels to Gaza. But those tunnels only can bring so much and smuggling isn’t the cheapest way to supply a market. Thirty to Forty dollars is the charge to smuggle a bag of goods. While the people of Gaza struggle, the two Palestinian governments watch from the sidelines but claim to be there for the people. The guys in Ramallah help their people in Gaza and the guys in Gaza take care of their own, while the common man is left with nothing. In the meantime the Arab and Muslim nations stand by the people of Gaza but have done little to break the siege. This post does not come easy, in fact this subject I hope to be wrong on. Egyptians have led the fight to break the siege on Gaza but from where I stand the blockade is helping the Egyptian government on so many levels, here is how:

Economically: Goods in Gaza mainly come from Egypt and since Palestinians do not have many choices because the Israelis allow only humanitarian goods into the Strip (flour, sugar, milk, rice…etc.). That leaves plenty of needed material that has a market in Gaza. Items like fans, shirts, razors, shampoo, appliances, certain medications, cookies, potato chips, pencils and school bags, chairs, kitchen ware…etc. In the past these goods used to be imported from various countries such as China and India. Thanks to the embargo, Egypt now is the main supplier of these goods; Egyptian factories are now earning plenty of cash as they provide the needed goods. Egyptian businesses are also making a profit by playing the broker role between the Palestinian buyers and the international vendors. There are those who move the goods to Rafah and those who push it through the tunnels to the Palestinian on the other end. Did I also mention that all those transactions are paid in cash?

It’s Good for Business: If a Palestinian wants to leave Gaza the can be smuggles through a tunnel for the bargain price of two to three hundred dollars. But there is another way. A two thousand dollar pay off to an Egyptian General through his Palestinian front man and you’re on VIP list to get through the gate at the Rafah crossing; even if the crossing point is closed, one will be allowed into the land of milk and honey. This travel clearance even overrides a Hamas veto because they cannot risk angering the Egyptians. I guess this is sort of like the American service offered in select airport for busy travelers where they can skip long security lines by using the express lane for a fee. This is funny because when a Palestinians pointed out this corruption to an Egyptian official, the official suggested he too take advantage of it. Politically, the mess in Gaze serves as a model for not choosing the Islamist oriented policies. For sometime Egypt has tried to convince its people that Islamists are bad for business and bad for regional stability. But most of those arguments fell flat until the Hamas takeover in Gaza in June 2007. Obviously many parties have an interest in seeing Hamas fail to make the point “We might be bad, but they are worse”. Also by playing the broker between the Palestinaina Authority on the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza and Israel, Egypt gains regional credit for their active role in promoting “peace” and Arab unity.

and here is one of the many ways in which egypt’s complicity bears responsibility for palestinians in gaza who are forced to use tunnels to bring in much needed goods for their survival. ayman mohyeldin’s report on al jaeera highlights this complicity and the problem of the zionist-egyptian siege:

although there has not yet been enough significant international outcry over the complicity of egypt and the u.s. with respect to war crimes committed in gaza, there has been ongoing and persistent writing and reporting on the zionist entity’s role in those war crimes, the most recent of which is human rights watch’s report documenting how zionist terrorist colonist soldiers murdered palestinians carrying white flags. the report is important, because it is yet another piece of evidence, but at the same time it is problematic given the 1,400 murders the zionist entity committed in gaza. what is a bit more promising is the news that in zionist colonists who also hold south african citizenship are going to be prosecuted for committing war crimes in gaza:

Two South African organizations have called for 70 South Africans to be prosecuted for involvement in war crimes allegedly committed by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December and January.

The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance and the Media Review Network are also urging the immediate arrest of IDF Lt.-Col. David Benjamin, who is in South Africa attending the Limmud-SA educational conference this week.

The two NGOs are listed as complainants in an affidavit, called the Gaza Docket, which was handed last week to the South African National Prosecuting Authority and the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation.

It is supported by approximately 3,500 pages of evidence, including some submitted by Human Rights Watch on the “brutal military onslaught on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force.”

Some 70 South Africans are listed in the affidavit for prosecution as they had served in the Israeli army. Their names are withheld due to the fact that they are suspects. It is unclear if these people served in the IDF during Cast Lead and whether they retain their South African citizenship.

such reports and developments are clearly a threat to the zionist entity as jonathan cook reveals in an article in electronic intifada:

In a bid to staunch the flow of damaging evidence of war crimes committed during Israel’s winter assault on Gaza, the Israeli government has launched a campaign to clamp down on human rights groups, both in Israel and abroad.

It has begun by targeting one of the world’s leading rights organizations, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as a local group of dissident army veterans, Breaking the Silence, which last month published the testimonies of 26 combat soldiers who served in Gaza.

Additionally, according to the Israeli media, the government is planning a “much more aggressive stance” towards human rights groups working to help the Palestinians.

Officials have questioned the sources of funding received by the organizations and threatened legislation to ban support from foreign governments, particularly in Europe.

Breaking the Silence and other Israeli activists have responded by accusing the government of a “witch hunt” designed to intimidate them and starve them of the funds needed to pursue their investigations.

“This is a very dangerous step,” said Mikhael Mannekin, one of the directors of Breaking the Silence. “Israel is moving in a very anti-democratic direction.”

The campaign is reported to be the brainchild of the far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, currently facing corruption charges, but has the backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Early last month, Lieberman used a press conference to accuse non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, of replacing diplomats in setting the international community’s agenda in relation to Israel. He also threatened reforms to curb the groups’ influence.

A week later, Netanyahu’s office weighed in against Human Rights Watch, heavily criticizing the organization for its recent fund-raising activities in Saudi Arabia.

HRW has pointed out that it only accepts private donations, and has not accepted Saudi government funds, but Israeli officials say all Saudi money is tainted and will compromise HRW’s impartiality as a human rights watchdog in its treatment of Israel.

what i haven’t seen a full report on, including implications of ongoing war crimes, another to add to the list is the ongoing assault on palestinian farmers who live and farm the land near the ever-expanding “buffer zone” where zionist terrorist colonists use palestinian people for their target practice. sherine tadros report on al jazeera last month documented this:

but the farmers keep farming the land as yet another form of resistance in a space where so few options for resistance exist. likewise, this video which i keep meaning to post is a moving story about one of the rappers from the group palestinian rapperz (p.r.) whose father was murdered by palestinian terrorist colonists. here is casey kauffman’s report on al jazeera:

action alert: protest amnesty international & leonard cohen

this is from an open letter from pacbi (palestinian academic & cultural boycott of israel) in response to amnesty international’s support of leonard cohen’s ignoring the boycott. below is an action alert where you can protest this as well as more analysis of this issue:

The following open letter was sent to Amnesty International USA by the The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) on 30 July 2009.

In May, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called on singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen to heed the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and avoid complicity with Israel’s violations of international law by cancelling his planned September concert in Israel, particularly in view of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. Sadly, according to a 28 July article in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty International USA has agreed to cooperate with Cohen in dealing with Israel on the basis of business as usual. Amnesty International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund that will whitewash the money raised at Cohen’s concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for “peace.” Being one of the world’s strongest proponents of human rights and international law, you shall thus be subverting a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel’s violations of international law and human rights principles. We call on you to be true to your values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in Israel.

The Jerusalem Post report indicates that Cohen and his public relations staff, having been criticized for trying to normalize Israel’s occupation and apartheid, are trying to whitewash the concert in Israel by using Amnesty International USA’s good name. According to the article, “All of the net proceeds from Leonard Cohen’s 24 September concert at Ramat Gan Stadium will be earmarked for a newly established fund to benefit Israeli and Palestinian organizations that are working toward conciliation,” and the fund will be “sponsored by Amnesty.” Curt Goering, the senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the Jerusalem Post that, “We saw this as an exciting opportunity with potential to recognize, support and pay tribute to the Israelis and Palestinians who have been working for peace and human rights amid a difficult environment and insurmountable odds. I see our participation as complementary to what we do, even though this initiative is different from Amnesty’s ongoing work.”

Why we are calling on Amnesty to withdraw from the project

By supporting Cohen’s concert in Israel, Amnesty International is actively undermining a particularly successful effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel’s occupation and other violations of international law and human rights principles. We find this position by Amnesty particularly frustrating and puzzling given your call for an arms embargo against Israel following its atrocities in Gaza earlier this year, which your organization described as constituting war crimes.

Accepting funds from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel is the equivalent of Amnesty accepting funds from a concert in Sun City in apartheid South Africa. Profits earned through violations of human rights and international law are tainted and should not be accepted by any morally consistent human rights organization, particularly when this money is intended to be used to whitewash the very violations behind those profits.

Furthermore, your Israeli partners in this venture actively hinder efforts to achieve a just peace. The Peres Center for Peace, with its multi-million dollar annual budget and fifteen million dollar building, is listed incongruously by the Jerusalem Post as both a beneficiary of the fund and a member of the new fund’s board of trustees. The Peres Center has been denounced by leading Palestinian civil society organizations for promoting joint Palestinian-Israeli projects that are “neither effective in bringing about reconciliation, nor desirable” and that enhance “Israeli institutional reputation and legitimacy, without restoring justice to Palestinians, in the face of continued Israeli Government violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian human rights, including breaches of the Geneva Conventions.” A columnist in Israel’s daily newspaper Haaretz called the Peres Center patronizing and colonial, explaining that “Efforts are being made to train the Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and prepare it to survive under the arbitrary constraints imposed by Israel, to guarantee the ethnic superiority of the Jews.”

Your other indirect partner in this project, according to the Jerusalem Post, is Israel Discount Bank, a key sponsor of the Cohen concert. Who Profits, a project of Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace, reports that the Israel Discount Bank has branches in the settlements of Beitar Illit and Maale Adumim, has financed construction in the settlements of Har Homa, Beitar llit and Maale Adumim, and is a major shareholder in a factory in a settlement. Amnesty hardly needs any reminder that all Israeli colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory are not only illegal under international law but are considered war crimes in the Fourth Geneva Convention. Your intention to indirectly partner with a bank that profits from the occupation and to oversee a fund that uses some of that legally and morally stained money contradicts Amnesty’s founding principles and commitment to human rights.

The latest attempt by the Cohen team to find an alternative Palestinian fig leaf has also failed. The only Palestinian organization falsely reported in the Jerusalem Post article as being a partner in this project, the Palestinian Happy Child Center, has confirmed that it is not taking part. There is no Palestinian organization participating in this whitewash.

Background on the boycott

With the international community failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, Palestinian civil society has launched calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Endorsed by nearly sixty Palestinian cultural and civil society organizations and inspired by the South African anti-apartheid boycotts, PACBI calls on “the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.” These Palestinian calls have inspired a growing international boycott movement which gained added momentum following Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter.

In April, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and over 100 Israelis called on Leonard Cohen to cancel his planned September concert in Israel. Protests against Cohen’s plans to play in Israel were then held at Cohen’s concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities. Feeling the rising heat of the protests, Cohen tried to schedule a small concert in Ramallah to “balance” his concert in Israel. However, Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert. The Palestinian group that was supposed to host the Ramallah event cancelled its invitation to Cohen after realizing the adverse effects this would have on the boycott movement, which is widely supported by Palestinians. Reflecting the general mood in Palestinian society against any claimed symmetry between the occupying power and the people under occupation, a 12 July PACBI statement explained, “Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel’s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel. PACBI has always rejected any attempt to ‘balance’ concerts or other artistic events in Israel — conscious acts of complicity in Israel’s violation of international law and human rights — with token events in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

For all the above reasons, we strongly urge you to distance Amnesty International from this discredited project and its tainted money.

Signed:

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, American Jews for a Just Peace (US), Boycott from Within (Israel), British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI), Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK), US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel.

now TAKE ACTION:

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and groups around the world have been calling for months for musician Leonard Cohen to cancel his planned September concert in Israel. With the international community failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, Palestinian civil society has launched calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Ninety-three artists, writers and other cultural workers have signed onto the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Many dignitaries signed the “No Reason to Celebrate” pledge and refused to participate in any artistic or literary event during Israel’s year-long 60th anniversary celebrations.

Feeling the heat of the protests, Cohen and his PR staff tried to schedule a small concert in Ramallah to “balance” his concert in Israel. However, Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert and any claimed symmetry between the occupying power and the people under occupation.

Now Cohen and his PR staff are trying to whitewash the concert in Israel by using Amnesty International USA’s good name. According to a July 28th article in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund. The fund will launder the money raised at Cohen’s concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for “peace.”

In response, sixteen groups and coalitions issued a July 30th Open Letter to Amnesty International calling on Amnesty to be true to its values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in Israel. The groups noted that by supporting Cohen’s concert, Amnesty International is undermining a successful effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel’s occupation and other violations of international law and human rights principles. Amnesty International also is partnering in the initiative with Israeli institutions that undermine peace, including a bank directly involved in supporting Israeli settlement construction. The only alleged Palestinian partner has announced it is not taking part.

TAKE ACTION

Please email Amnesty International, calling on Amnesty to withdraw from support for Cohen’s concert. Amnesty International is recognized by many as defending human rights worldwide, so please be respectful and courteous in your message.

You can write and email your own letter, or use the sample letter below and email it, or send an editable form letter from here. For reference, here is the full Open Letter to Amnesty International.

If you send your own email, please email your letter to:

lcox[at]aiusa.org, cgoering[at]aiusa.org, ZJanmohamed[at]aiusa.org, ikhan[at]amnesty.org, msmart[at]amnesty.org, ccordone[at]amnesty.org, drovera[at]amnesty.org

-Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
-Curt Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
-Zahir Janmohamed, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA
-Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary General
-Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International (UK) Senior Director
-Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International (UK) Middle East Director, Research and Regional Programs
-Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International (UK) Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories)

If you email your own letter, please cc it to: noamnesty4israeliapartheidat]gmail.com so that we can keep track of the responses.

SAMPLE LETTER TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Dear Amnesty International,

I hold Amnesty International’s worldwide work for human rights and international law in high esteem. For this reason, I was very troubled to learn that Amnesty International has agreed to manage a fund that will disburse the proceeds from Leonard Cohen’s planned concert in Israel in September. I call on Amnesty International to be true to your values, distance yourself from efforts to normalize Israel’s occupation and apartheid, and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in Israel.

By supporting Cohen’s concert, Amnesty International will be subverting the worldwide movement to boycott Israel, a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel’s violations of international law and human rights principles. Accepting funds from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel is the equivalent of Amnesty accepting tainted funds from a concert in Sun City in apartheid South Africa.

Ninety-three artists, writers and other cultural workers have signed onto the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Many dignitaries signed the “No Reason to Celebrate” pledge and refused to participate in any artistic or literary event during Israel’s year-long 60th anniversary celebrations.

In his protest resignation from Amnesty International over this issue, Irish author and composer, Raymond Deane, wrote: “By assisting Cohen in his ruse to bypass this boycott, Amnesty International is in fact taking a political stance, in violation of the premise of political neutrality with which it so regularly justifies its failure to side unambiguously with the oppressed. Amnesty is telling us: resistance is futile, the voice of the oppressed is irrelevant, international humanitarian law is a luxury.”

Furthermore, the Israeli partners in the concert, the Peres Center for Peace and Israel Discount Bank, actively hinder efforts to achieve a just peace. A columnist in Israel’s Ha’aretz Daily called the Peres Center for Peace patronizing and colonial organization that is in the business of training “the Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and prepare it to survive under the arbitrary constraints imposed by Israel.” According to research by Who Profits, a project of Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace, Israel Discount Bank is deeply involved in supporting Israel’s settlement enterprise. Israeli settlements violate the very tenets of international law that Amnesty International works to uphold.

Finally, the only Palestinian organization falsely reported in the July 28th Jerusalem Post article as being a partner in this project, the Palestinian Happy Child Center, has confirmed that it is not taking part. There is no Palestinian organization participating in this whitewash.

Thank you for your attention to this vital human rights issue. I look forward to learning of Amnesty International’s withdrawal of its support for the Leonard Cohen concert in Israel.

Sincerely,
Your name

here is some more background information on leonard cohen from pulse media:

Artist, writer and activist, and friend of PULSE, Tali Shapiro on Leonard Cohen and Amnesty International.

I always talk about Israeli pacifists and their inability to see the barriers they place on the Palestinian road to justice, dignity, and human rights. Today I’d like to talk about a much more appalling occurrence; Amnesty International supporting Leonard Cohen’s breach of the boycott of Israel.

The Leonard Cohen Myth

Personally, it’s hard for me to understand the disillusionment of pro-Palestinian Leonard Cohen fans. In the history of his involvement with Israel, Cohen has always sided with Israel, or made statements of officially taking no sides, when his side was rather obvious:

I don’t want to speak of wars or sides … Personal process is one thing, it’s blood, it’s the identification one feels with their roots and their origins. The militarism I practice as a person and a writer is another thing. … I don’t wish to speak about war.

In case I’m misconstruing my information, I’ll repeat the quote I’ve embedded on my front page and have, personally, had no choice but to live by:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. (Desmund Tutu)

In Cohen’s most recent history, he is consistent. He refuses to take a side, thus siding with the oppressor. Cohen has received a letter from many organizations (originated with PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel), asking him not to preform in Israel. As response, typically trying to balance out a situation in which balance is not there to be found, Cohen decided to preform for the Palestinian Prisoners‘ Club Society. The Society declined to entertain Cohen’s notions of equality:

We are now pleased to announce that we have received confirmation from the Palestinian Prisoners‘ Club Society that they will not be hosting Leonard Cohen in Ramallah. A strong consensus has emerged among all parties concerned that Cohen is not welcome in Ramallah as long as he insists on performing in Tel Aviv, even though it had been claimed that Cohen would dedicate his concert in Palestine to the cause of Palestinian prisoners. Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel‘s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel.

The Problem with the International Centrist

As if all this wasn’t enough, Cohen was dead-set on clearing his conscious:

All of the net proceeds from Leonard Cohen’s September 24 concert at Ramat Gan Stadium will be earmarked for a newly established fund to benefit Israeli and Palestinian organizations that are working toward conciliation…

The above quote is taken from non-other than the very-Zionist Jerusalem Post. Here’s another quote from the same article:

Attempting to maneuver through the barbed wire of both Israeli and US tax laws to enable the organizations to benefit from the concert, Kory realized that an intermediary neutral vehicle would be required to facilitate the financial funneling. He approached Amnesty International for advice, and the concept of a special fund was raised.

In other words, trooper Cohen maneuvered through the barbed wire with the assistance of the Amnesty International brigade. How poetic. How utterly embarrassing for Amnesty International to be portrayed favorably by the Jerusalem Post.

I understand big groups like Amnesty International have to be diplomatic and must exercise impartiality, and quite frankly I respect the ability to do so. However, being diplomatic doesn’t mean endorsing pseudo-diplomatic initiatives, especially when they are completely avoidable, as in the case of Leonard Cohen.

To refrain from repeating myself, here’s my own attempt at diplomacy, that I sent to Amnesty International (at the event of a response, I will update):

Hello Amnesty International,

I’m a big supporter of Amnesty International and a regular donation contributor. As an Israeli citizen- who opposes the occupation and violence wreaked by my government, army and countrymen on the Palestinian people, and supports the international movement to boycott Israel- I am appalled that Amnesty USA might break the boycott efforts. The international community has set the terms for the Palestinian struggle and rightfully made it clear that no violence will be tolerated. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has done a wonderful job in stating the terms of the BDS campaign- I don’t have to tell you what a huge commitment to a long-term strategy of non-violence that is. Terms which seem very fair and have been accepted around the world as the guidelines for this world-wide initiative.

When Leonard Cohen decided to come to Israel, PACBI made themselves clear, once again, that it is unacceptable, under the guidelines of a cultural boycott. As I’m sure you know, Cohen tried to appease PACBI by scheduling a show in Ramallah, which PACBI rejected. There is no need to be balanced in a situation that balance doesn’t occur. Had Cohen canceled in Israel he would have been making a meaningful statement and propelled the boycott movement by sheer power of his fame. Performing in both Israel and the Occupied Territories is a wishy-washy peace-faking statement, the kind that Israeli “peace” groups have been making, in order to stroke their own sensibilities, meanwhile marginalizing the other organizations (Palestinian, Israeli and International), who believe in the importance of keeping one’s stand, when it comes to the BDS initiative. “Peace” is a word that has lost all meaning in Israel, we demand human rights instead.

To find that Amnesty International might support this damaging endeavor is shocking, for me, but I take it you decided upon it with the best of intentions. Since I don’t expect you to understand the inner workings of the Israeli Center-Left and its psychological motives, I urge you to consider simple facts: Leonard Cohen preforming in Israel breaches the cultural boycott and normalizes the occupation. This is not something that should be supported by Amnesty International. It is morally wrong and diplomatically wrong. The boycott movement must stick to a standard of “no business as usual”, in order to be effective. I urge you to reconsider.

Awaiting your reply,
Tali Shapiro

What’s Wrong with Balance?

If some of you are wondering how donating the proceeds of the concert to both Israeli and Palestinian organizations is a “damaging endeavor”, here’s PACBI’s words:

PACBI has always rejected any attempt to “balance” concerts or other artistic events in Israel–conscious acts of complicity in Israel‘s violation of international law and human rights–with token events in the occupied Palestinian territory. Such attempts at “parity” not only immorally equate the oppressor with the oppressed, taking a neutral position on the oppression (thereby siding with the oppressor, as Desmond Tutu famously said); they also are an insult to the Palestinian people, as they assume that we are naive enough to accept such token shows of “solidarity” that are solely intended to cover up grave acts of collusion in whitewashing Israel‘s crimes. Those sincerely interested in defending Palestinian rights and taking a moral and courageous stance against the Israeli occupation and apartheid should not play Israel, period. That is the minimum form of solidarity Palestinian civil society has called for.

And some wonderful words from Irish composer and novelist Raymond Deane:

What could any reasonable person have against “programs for peace”?… By assisting Cohen in his ruse to bypass this boycott, Amnesty International is in fact taking a political stance, in violation of the premise of political neutrality with which it so regularly justifies its failure to side unambiguously with the oppressed. Amnesty is telling us: resistance is futile, the voice of the oppressed is irrelevant, international humanitarian law is a luxury.

In my words: I’ve long covered the problematic programs and people that dare call themselves “peacemakers”. I’m thought of as the extreme of the extreme, in Israel, but if asking for unconditional human rights is extreme, then I am a proud extremists. Many on the self-proclaimed Left are easy to spot, their key phrase is:

They deserve human rights/freedom/their own country, but…

This “but” is a fearful one, rooted in a deeply ingrained and denied racism. The people who say this are well aware of Israel’s crimes- past and present, and yet still afraid of what may happen, once we let the “two legged beasts” out of their cage, whether they call Palestinians that, or not. In my journey of discovering the truth behind Israel, I’ve realized some things are not negotiable. That is human rights and as a result, this boycott.

Learning from the Cohen/Amnesty Debacle

As the Zionist propaganda machine goes into overdrive, we may find new claims, resulting in the Cohen/Amnesty debacle. For now, Israelis are generally unaware of the international boycott against their state, already underway. Last time I observed any mention of this in the mainstream media was during Cast Lead, when Channel 10 aired the typically condescending and ignorant Before you boycott Israel! video. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find this article in their archives.) Nothing more responsible than your main stream media instilling blind confidence in you, when an international boycott of your country is rapidly developing.

I can’t predict the creativity of the Zionist mind, but I’m expecting that when the boycott is finally made clear to Israelis, the first rebuttals will be that nothing is enough for those “demanding” Palestinians, and even when the “reasonable” and “unbiassed” offer to give a little to both sides is made, they still “demand the whole arm”. These kinds of underhanded remarks are exactly why I decided to document the Cohen/Amnesty incident.

There should be no questions as to what the boycott’s goals or guidelines are. Some areas are unclear to many, and these cases should be studied. But to those who are unclear, I direct you again to PACBI, who are the Palestinian voice on the issue of the boycott, and have articulated their terms thoroughly. When in doubt, contrast and compare your specific case to their statements. Implementing a boycott on Israel isn’t as hard as Zionist propaganda would like you to think. The best way to deal with the occupation army is to arm yourself with knowledge.

and one more letter/analysis from pulse media:

Renowned Irish composer and novelist Raymond Deane on the reasons why he has chosen to resign from Amnesty International. We encourage readers to follow Deane’s example.

When I first – and belatedly – began fretting about human rights and political injustice in the wake of the 1990-91 Gulf War, I joined Amnesty International and started writing letters and cards to political prisoners and to a variety of Embassies.

Although I was subsequently drawn deeply into activism of a more explicitly political nature – particularly on the Israel/Palestine issue – I retained my Amnesty membership out of residual respect for the organisation, but also because I wished to be in a position to say “as an Amnesty member myself, I completely disagree with the organisation’s stance on…” (fill in the dots as appropriate).

On 30th July I read the “Open Letter to Amnesty International” from 10 admirable organisations involved in seeking justice for the Palestinian people, ranging from PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) through the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign to the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. This letter was prompted by Amnesty’s decision to sponsor “a new fund that will whitewash the money raised at [Leonard] Cohen’s concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for ‘peace.’”

What could any reasonable person have against “programs for peace”? Well, one answer is that these include the Peres Center for Peace, described by the Israeli paper Ha’aretz as a “patronizing and colonial” organization that trains “the Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and… to guarantee the ethnic superiority of the Jews”, and the Israel Discount Bank, which has branches in three illegal Jewish settlements and hence functions in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Another answer is even simpler: Leonard Cohen should heed the call from the oppressed Palestinian people not to perform in Israel until that state dismantles its apartheid structures and complies with international law and international humanitarian law, ends the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territories, and concedes the inalienable Palestinian right of return. By assisting Cohen in his ruse to bypass this boycott, Amnesty International is in fact taking a political stance, in violation of the premise of political neutrality with which it so regularly justifies its failure to side unambiguously with the oppressed. Amnesty is telling us: resistance is futile, the voice of the oppressed is irrelevant, international humanitarian law is a luxury.

I was one of the organizers of the protests held outside Leonard Cohen’s four recent Dublin concerts (19th, 20th, 22nd, 23d July) in which we called upon the singer not to perform in Tel Aviv, using the text of his 1960s classic “Please don’t pass me by” to deliver a demand for solidarity and engagement with the Palestinian people and against their oppressor, the Zionist Israeli state.

I used to be a Cohen fan. Should Cohen continue with his plan to perform in Israel on 24th September next, I shall consign my Cohen albums to the charity shop, although I’ll do so with considerable grief and disillusionment. It is with similar feelings that today I have sent the following message to the Irish branch of Amnesty International:

To whom it conferns: I am terminating my membership of Amnesty. The last straw has been Amnesty’s decision to support a cynical scheme dreamt up by Leonard Cohen’s PR department to whitewash the fact that he is ignoring the call from Palestinian civil society to respect the cultural boycott of Israel. While I respect Amnesty’s policy of not supporting particular political positions and not itself participating in boycott campaigns, on this occasion it is actively supporting actions that undermine a boycott campaign supported by the Palestinians themselves, and doing so by lending support to Israeli organisations the raison d’etre of which is to seek “conciliation” without an end to oppression.

Sincerely – Raymond Deane.

now it is your turn!

انا اصلي نن…

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before i left palestine a dear friend of mine gave me a beautiful silver necklace she had made for me. it says: فلسطين لاجئين 194. i think that this necklace has made more people in jordan offer up where they are originally from. ever since i crossed the border into jordan the other day i hear from everyone i meet, انا اصلي من… the first person was the manager of the taxi shop on the sheikh hussein bridge. he is originally from beesan, the palestinian village closest to this crossing point. the next person was the man working the front desk at the hotel. he’s from iraq al manshiya. next my new landlord who is from halhul. and then the cook at the hotel who is from dawayima. and then the taxi driver who is from ramallah. this is the first time i’ve been in jordan and have had so many people offer up where they are from, where they belong, where they long to return so quickly.

zakariya's mosque still standing
zakariya's mosque still standing

a few days before coming here a dear friend of mine who is writing a memoir about his life with another dear friend of mine had a meeting in deheishe refugee camp with his uncle, his mother’s brother, to hear more about his village and his mother’s family’s history. i was in al quds, where he lives, and told them i was going back to deheishe and could drive them if they wanted. but i told them i had to run an errand on the way–an errand that would lead us to drive past his mother’s village of zakariya on the way. they decided to come with me and to take some time to visit his mother’s village. my friend has been past it many times over the years, but he’s never gone inside the zionist terrorist colony that now exists on his mother’s land.

a view of zakariya, palestine with the mosque still in the center of the village
a view of zakariya, palestine with the mosque still in the center of the village

i have been to zakariya with kids from deheishe refugee camp in the past so i knew where the mosque was and the one remaining palestinian home and the school that were not destroyed. we drove around for a bit, but he was clearly uncomfortable being there and so we did not stay long. as we drove out of the village i noticed that the sign, which used to say the name of the village in arabic, english, and hebrew had the arabic scratched out (mind you, it was the transliteration of hebrew and not the original name of the village, but it was arabic nonetheless). only one week ago when we were at camp with the kids that arabic was on the sign. now it is not. it seems that vigilante colonists are taking action in relation to the new initiative to make all signs in palestine only have transliterations from the hebrew whether in arabic or in english. i wrote about this new racist apartheid project on the part of the zionist entity last week, but here is an update from imemc:

In a recent and bold move by the Netanyahu government, the Arabic names of cities within Israeli borders and Jerusalem are being changed to Hebrew.

The Israeli Minister of Transport has been charged with the task of erasing the Arabic names in Israel, in what has been condemned as a bigoted attempt to deconstruct the Palestinian legacy, especially in Jerusalem. The Arabic name of Al Quds is also set to be changed, as is Nazareth, and other cities within Israel.Palestinian Chief of Justice has responded by declaring this as a means of erasing the Arab identity in Jerusalem and greater Israel. The Chief Justice and Chairman of the Commission in Support of Islamic and Christian Sanctities in Jerusalem has made similar statements, and calling it an act of racism. In addition to these implications, it is against international law to make such changes to a city that is still contested territory. From the creation of the Israeli state, Jerusalem has been a heavily contested area, subjected to many changes, land confiscation, home demolitions, evacuations, and settlements to cut the city off from its Palestinian heritage.

ethnic cleansing courtesy of zionist terrorist colonists
ethnic cleansing courtesy of zionist terrorist colonists

my friend jen marlowe wrote a piece about this for world focus, where she shares some of the history she heard later in deheishe camp that day:

Less than an hour later, we were sitting in Deheisheh Refugee Camp, talking with Sami’s uncle Mustafa, two years younger than Sami’s mother. We asked Mustafa to fill in the missing gaps of his sister’s story, and he was more than happy to oblige. Sami and I learned the details of how his grandfather died fighting the British in 1939 and the attacks that pushed out the residents of Zakariyya.

Zakariyya holds a prominent place in Mustafa’s house in Deheisheh and in his heart. A 1921 photograph of the old school (now convenience store) with students sitting cross legged outside is framed on a shelf. A map of Zakariyya is on the wall, with the former houses indicated and a code to decipher which areas were inhabited by which families.

Mustafa spoke not only about his memories of losing Zakariyya. He spoke about a more recent pain as well. His older sister, Sami’s mother, had been struck two times with brain tumors. The first was in 1977 when Sami was fifteen years old. She received a life-saving surgery. Mustafa came to the hospital in Jerusalem every day. He fed her daily, tenderly. She would eat only from his hands. The second tumor took root in her brain in 2007. But this time, Mustafa could not feed his sister as she lay on her death bed in Jerusalem. The Israeli military would not issue him a permit to visit her.

Mustafa and Sami sat in silence as I digested this information. The evening call to prayer sounded from a nearby mosque in the camp. It was time to wrap up the interview. I had one final question. “Did you realize in 1948 that you were leaving Zakariyya for good?”

Uncle Mustafa’s eyes glistened slightly, both from the memory of his beloved home and the fresh loss of his sister.

“Until now I don’t accept that I left for good. As long as I am alive, I have hope that I will someday return.”

Those who were forced to leave their homes will always be filled with longing to return to them. Acknowledgment and empathy are natural responses. But Mustafa’s yearning seems to be met with something other than empathy by the current residents of Zakariyya. With fear, perhaps? Dismissal? Contempt? Whatever it is, it permits the ancient mosque of the historic village to dilapidate to the point of ruin. It permits the Arabic word “Zakariyya” to be scratched out on the entrance’s sign. As if by scratching out the name, somehow the existence of Zakariyya and its people will themselves be erased.

Mustafa’s very presence, however, is a form of resistance to this deletion. Sami’s uncle sits surrounded by memories and remembrances of his home, waiting in quiet dignity for his longing and his claim to be acknowledged rather than erased.

one of the most amazing things mustafa gave sami was a map of the village of zakariya. a group of refugees from the village got together and mapped out where exactly everyone lived in their village and color coded it by family and listed the names of the families on it. i took a photo of it and posted it below. it is amazing and i hope that by spreading this around others can do the same for history’s sake and for claiming their land when they return to their villages.

a map of zakariya village
a map of zakariya village

the erasure of the village via nightly murders of palestinians in zakariya, something that ultimately forced them to flee to places like ramla inside 1948 palestine where some are internal refugees, as well as to refugee camps like deheishe, was one level of ethnic cleansing. but of course this is ongoing with the new laws forcing the word nakba that describes this history to be cleansed from textbooks:

The Israeli government decided on Wednesday to remove the term ‘Nabka’ from school textbooks. Israel’s education Ministry said that using term Nakba or catastrophe to describe the creation of Israel is inconceivable.

Approximately 700.000 Palestinian were expelled and displaced by Jewish arm groups and hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed in 1948 and the state of Israel was declared on Palestinian lands.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that using the word Nakba in Arab school is considered as spreading propaganda against Israel. The decision to bar using ‘Nakba’ in textbooks was made despite the fact that it is only used in Arab schools in Israel.

It was introduced into textbooks in Arab schools in 2007 when the Israeli Education Ministry was headed by Yuli Tamir, member of the Labor Party. The textbooks that contains the term Nakba was intended to be studied by children aged eight and nine.

Yisrael Twito, spokesperson of the current Israel Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar, said that the ministry studied the issue and decided that using the term Nakba to described ‘Israel’s independence’ should be removed.

The term Nakba was not used without presenting the Israeli side of it, the text reads ‘the Arabs described the war of 1948 as the Nakba – catastrophe, loss and humiliation, and the Jews calls it the war of independence’, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. Arab member of Knesset, Jamal Zahalka, stated that the Arabs will not accept to be gagged by laws that aims at controlling their feelings, beliefs and history.

‘We will not accept to be silenced, we will continue to shout out loud, their independence is our catastrophe’, Zahalka stated, ‘We will always oppose Zionism, and we will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state’.

The new law was approved by 38 members of Knesset, while 14 voted against it. It also bars any institution that receives government funding in Israel from commemorating the Nakba, or financing related activities.

and it gets worse. now, as jonathan cook reports in electronic intifada, palestinians are going to be forced to study the zionist entity’s anthem, yet another method of ethnic cleansing one that is an attempt to cleanse the minds of palestinian youth:

A leading Arab educator in Israel has denounced the decision of Gideon Saar, the education minister, to require schools to study the Israeli national anthem.

Officials announced last week that they were sending out special “national anthem kits” to 8,000 schools, including those in the separate Arab education system, in time for the start of the new academic year in September.

The kits have been designed to be suitable for all age groups and for use across the curriculum, from civics and history classes to music and literature lessons.

The anthem, known as Hatikva, or The Hope, has long been unpopular with Israel’s Palestinian minority because its lyrics refer only to a Jewish historical connection to the land.

Saar’s initiative is widely seen among Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens as a further indication of the rising nationalistic tide sweeping policymakers.

Last week the ministry also announced that textbooks recently issued to Arab schoolchildren would have expunged the word “nakba,” or catastrophe, to describe the Palestinians’ dispossession at Israel’s founding in 1948.

Hala Espanioly, who chairs the education committee of the Arab minority’s supreme political body, the Higher Follow-Up Committee, told the Israeli news website Ynet: “If there is an attempt to force the Hatikva anthem on Arab schools and Arab pupils, it will be akin to a kind of attempted rape of their identity.”

The issue of the national anthem, based on a 120-year-old poem by Naftali Hertz Imber and an ancient folk melody, has been a running sore between Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations for decades.

Arab citizens are unhappy with its heavily Zionist lyrics, which speak of how the “soul of a Jew yearns” to return to Zion, as well as referring to “The hope of two thousand years, To be a free nation in our land.”

In 2005 some legislators were outraged when an Israeli parliamentary committee considered, among possible constitution changes, revising the anthem’s lyrics from “the soul of a Jew'” to “the soul of an Israeli.” The change was not approved.

Saar, then an ordinary politician, led the opposition to changing the lyrics: “In two words: definitely not. I wouldn’t make any changes to Hatikva. It would be a compromise on the state’s identity.”

The refusal of prominent Arabs to sing the anthem in public has provoked several notable controversies.

The most high-profile concerned Raleb Majadele, of the Labor party, who was appointed Israel’s first Arab cabinet minister in 2007. In an interview he said that, though he always stood during Hatikva, he drew the line at singing it.

He later defended his position to Israeli radio: “Where is it written that a person appointed to be a cabinet minister in Israel must stop being an Arab, and turn into a member of a different religion and ethnicity?”

Arab players in Israel’s national football squad have also admitted being uncomfortable during the playing of the anthem before games. TV broadcasts often zoom in to show that their lips are not moving.

Abir Kupty, today an elected official with the Nazareth municipality, produced one of Israeli TV’s most talked-about moments four years ago when she was filmed sitting down when the anthem was played. She was the only Arab contestant in a reality show to find Israel’s future leaders.

Kupty said: “This decision by the education ministry is part of the current hysterical right-wing mood in Israel. They hope they can erase our Palestinian identity by making us love the anthem.”

She added that Arab pupils were already deprived of the chance to learn about their own history, culture and identity. “The curriculum in Arab schools is heavily controlled by Jewish officials and by the security services.”

Sofia Yoad, the education ministry’s director of curriculum development, said the anthem kits included a book and two CDs containing 40 historic recordings of Hatikva, including it being sung in a concentration camp and at the Declaration of Independence.

“It is very important to learn about the national anthem even if pupils are not Jewish,” she said. “After all, this is the story of a country’s independence.”

Astrith Baltsan, a pianist who researched and wrote the book over three years, said she had originally been commissioned to produce it for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations last year.

But when Saar saw it, she said, he had been keen to use it in all schools. She added that, when she played the anthem at a ministry launch party last week, even the Arab schools inspectors stood. “When you know the story of the anthem, you show it respect,” she said.

The Higher Follow-Up Committee, a national political body representing Israel’s Arab minority, has staunchly opposed the use of the kits. It wrote last week to Saar, warning that the initiative would “only deepen the alienation of Arab students and teachers.”

Figures released by the education ministry this month show that only 32 percent of Arab students passed their matriculation exam last year, compared to 60 percent of Jewish students. The pass rate was a dramatic drop from the 50.7 percent of Arab pupils who matriculated in 2006.

Yousef Jabareen, head of Dirasat, a Nazareth-based organization monitoring education issues, blamed the poor results on growing cultural bias in the Israeli education system as well as severe budgetary discrimination.

He said the increasing weight placed on Jewish heritage and Judaism lessons put Arab pupils at a severe disadvantage, and that further alienation was caused by the state’s refusal to allow the Arab education system any autonomy in selecting its own curriculum.

A report published in March, he added, showed that the government invested $1,100 in each Jewish pupil’s education compared to $190 for each Arab pupil. There was also a shortfall of more than 1,000 classrooms for Arab students.

Jabareen pointed out that a committee appointed last year by the dovish previous education minister, Yuli Tamir, had recommended curriculum reforms to encourage a “shared life” and common values among pupils, including more frequent encounters between Jewish and Arab students.

In April Saar quashed the committee’s report.

Opposition to the study of Hatikva is shared by ultra-religious Jews known as the Haredim. They believe the anthem should include a reference to God in the lyrics, and have proposed an alternative entitled HaEmunah.

prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons within prisons

holding an american passport, having the privilege of white skin, and living in palestine means that one needs to be conscious of these privileges and also use them strategically to support palestinians. the summer camp last week was one example of using my white privilege to help palestinian refugees learn about their villages and use that knowledge and experience to imagine how to fight for their right of return. i think this is urgent for this generation to be given as many tools as possible to fight for this right and to acquire knowledge from their elders and their own experiences as the risk of losing the generation that holds first-hand memories. one of the youth on the trip has an 89 year old grandfather who recalls acutely every last detail of his village beit ‘itab. part of the next phase of this project is to get the youth to record the oral histories of their elders as well as to use that history as another tool to fight for their right of return. i use the word “project” advisedly. it is not some little program that we are working on here that is temporary or fleeting. it is something that we are hoping to project into the future to help this generation realize their right of return. to break out of their prisons in the refugee camps, in their bantustan cities and villages. to take their land back.

i taught my indigenous american class last night in deheishe, in which some of the same youth from camp are students, and i started to worry a bit about the upcoming delegation. first, here is a description and a way you can support the project by donating to the middle east children’s alliance:

The Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine, the first-ever delegation of its kind, is scheduled for August 2009. Youth leaders from grassroots indigenous groups in the US, namely Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG) Magazine, Huaxtec, and Native students at Haskell University, will travel to Palestine at the invitation of five Palestinian youth centers. After more than two years of communicating through the internet, these young people will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from each other by sharing tools of empowerment and education.

The trip to Palestine is part of an ongoing process to connect the shared experiences of Indigenous peoples across the world, to build solidarity, justice and peace. The group will create print media, blogs, a Native/Palestinian music CD, video, photo essays, poetry and other forms of media to share their stories and involve their communities in building a national and international movement for indigenous rights.

i think that this project is hugely important as global indigenous solidarity is necessary. i think the youth can learn a lot from each other. at the same time one of the differences between indigenous youth in the americas and in palestine is time–a few hundred years difference. and i worry that the palestinian youth will look to the american indian youth and see this as their fate: four hundred years of living in refugee camps, of removal from their land, of imprisonment.

one of the more well known american indian political prisoners is up for parole again. leonard peltier, jeremy scahill reminds us, has the possibility of being released from prison in a couple of weeks:

“I AM but a common man, I am not a speaker but I have spoken. I am not all that tall, but I have stood up. I am not a philosopher or poet or a singer or any of those things that particularly inspire people, but the one thing that I am is the evidence that this country lied when they said there was justice for all… I am just a common man and I am evidence that the powers that put me here would like to sweep under the carpet. The same way they did all of our past leaders, warriors and people they massacred. Just as at Wounded Knee, the Fifth Cavalry sought its revenge for Custer’s loss and massacred some 300 Indian men women and children, then gave out 23 Medals of Honor and swept the evidence of their wrongdoing aside… I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this prison. And I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life in some prison of the mind, heart or attitude. I want you to enjoy your life.

If nothing else give somebody a hug for me and say, ‘This is from Leonard.’”

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

NOTE: Read Leonard Peltier’s full June 26 statement. Peltier is up for parole on July 28. His supporters and friends have launched a letter-writing campaign to support his release from prison after 34 years.

americans, like their zionist allies, love to lock people and communities up in prisons. they have this, among other things, in common. there are over 11,000 palestinian political prisoners languishing in zionist terrorist colonist jails, among them are some more well-known political leaders and figures. last week the campaign to free ahmed sa’adat issued a letter calling for his release as well as all the other political prisoners:

Dear Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon;

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call upon you to immediately take action in defense of the lives, health and rights of the over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners held inside Israeli occupation jails. This number includes numerous elected members of Palestinian Legislative Council, among them Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Marwan al-Barghouthi, Fateh leader; Abdel-Aziz Dweik, Hamas leader and President of the Council, just freed after three years in prison, and dozens of other elected political leaders, in addition to thousands of other Palestinian activists, union members, community organizers, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.

Palestinian prisoners suffer in conditions that violate international standards and norms, and are imprisoned because they refuse to accept a brutal occupation of their land and their people. Ahmad Sa’adat recently waged a nine-day hunger strike in protest of the policy of isolation and solitary confinement that has recently been escalated against Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian prisoners have been denied family visits, at times for years, denied access to all books and magazines, and denied even communication with their fellow prisoners in the isolation units. Palestinian prisoners, including Sa’adat, are currently denied necessary health care and medical treatment.

Palestinian prisoners are placed into isolation because they are national leaders and because the Palestinian prisoner movement has been an inspiration to all Palestinians and all who struggle for freedom. Ahmad Sa’adat’s hunger strike has sparked thousands of people around the world to appeal for his release, as a living example who symbolizes the steadfastness and strength of the Palestinian prisoners amid isolation and dire conditions, and it must compel all of those outside the prisons to act. Many Palestinian and international human rights and social justice organizations have called for the release of Sa’adat and to ensure the safety of his life and health, as well as for freedom and protection for all Palestinian prisoners.

The fate of these 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners is a fundamental issue of justice. Palestinians, in Palestine and in exile, are denied their rights – to return home, to self-determination, and to freedom, and those who seek to secure those rights are subject to imprisonment, whether within the open-air prisons of Gaza under siege or the walled-in West Bank, or the jails of the occupation. The silent, and at times, active, complicity of international agencies, particularly the United Nations, in the denial of Palestinian rights must not continue.

We call upon you to uphold your responsibilities and exert all pressure to end torture, cruel and inhuman treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and to free every Palestinian political prisoner from Israel’s occupation jails.

Sincerely,
http://www.freeahmadsaadat.org/
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat

the number of palestinian political prisoners grows every month with the zionist terrorist forces’ nightly raids into palestinian refugee camps, villages and cities. here is a report on the month of june alone:

The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees reported that the Israeli army kidnapped more than 380 Palestinians in several parts of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the month of June.

The ministry added that the army also kidnapped four Egyptians in the Negev after claiming that they crossed the border and entered a military base.

Hundreds of Palestinian workers were also detained in the Green Line as the Israeli Police claimed they were working there without permits.

Riyadh Al Ashqar, head of the Media Department at the Ministry, stated that last month witnessed a significant escalation in Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and that the soldiers kidnapped sixteen fishermen.

He added that Israeli security personnel interrogated the fishermen and tried to blackmail them by telling them that they would be allowed to fish in Gaza’s territorial waters should they collaborate and spy for Israel in Gaza.

The minister added that, for the first time, soldiers detained a four-year old child, identified as Mohammad Mousa, after claiming that he hurled stones at police vehicles in Jerusalem. 31 residents, including three children below 12, were detained in Hizma village, near Jerusalem.

The army also kidnapped three women, and tortured one of them at the Atara roadblock, north of Ramallah.

The tortured woman was identified as Nahed Farhat, from Ramallah; the soldiers kicked her, dragged her on the ground and punched her before blindfolding and cuffing her, and took her to a detention facility.

Soldiers also broke into the home of female legislator, Dr. Mariam Saleh, searched the property and kidnapped her son Salah after kicking and punching him and his brother.

Troops confiscated the legislator’s mobile phone and some private documents.

In its report, the Ministry said that Israeli courts issued more than 220 administrative detention orders and imposed high fines on dozens of detainees.

Troops broke into several detention facilities, searched the rooms and attacked a number of detainees.

mohammed ballan compiled a list of some of the palestinian political prisoners’ names, which jasmin ramsey at pulse media reported. however, this is just a small fraction of their names, names that must be spoken, remembered, and the demand for their release must be fought for:

It is also imperative to note that these name are only roughly 200 names when in fact there are over 11, 000 in Israeli prisons. Unfortunately, there is no transparency, and the names of these prisoners remain elusive due to the nature of their imprisonment. No human rights organizations or governmental organizations have access to all of the names and identities of these Palestinians. Although they may be erased from our regular world, we will not forget their existence and let them run through the pages of history.

It should also be noted that of those Palestinians detained, only a minor proportion have actually committed acts of “terrorism” (as defined by Israeli law) or orchestrated attacks against the Israeli civilian and military infrastructure of occupation.

For some of the sources used to compile these names, please visit:

http://addameer.info/
http://sumoud.tao.ca/?q=
http://www.miftah.org/Doc/Factsheets/Miftah/English/Prisoners.pdf
http://palestinianprisoners.blogspot.com/

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS:

10,000 men, 1500 women, 500 children under 12 yrs old.

Mainstream media coverage, including Israeli/Arabic/Palestinian/Western news stations: 0.00 minutes, 0 news articles

Names (a mere fraction of them)

Abdullah Hussein Abdullah Odeh
Samah Abdullah
Muhammad Ouni Muhammad Daadou
Amin As’ad Mustafa Salim
Mahmoud Shukri Abd al-Karim Hamshari
Ali Kamal Hussein Abu Salim
Muhammad Saleem Shaheen
Azzam Yusuf Mahmoud Yasin
Roulan Tawfiq Abdullah Dighlis
Nahed Taysir Tawfiq Abu Diyak
Mu’in Mustafa Musa Feshafesha
Muhammad Bassam Tawfiq Walway
Muhammad Amin Ahmad Yunus
Nadel Khalil Ahmad ‘Aalouna
Adam Ghazzan Ahmad Harami
Khadeer Ali Muhammad Bisharat
Mahmoud Radwan Mahmoud Musleh
Samed Muhammd Hassan Asleem
Ehad Mansur Ibrahim Khleelya
Muhammad Saleh Suleyman Mardawi
Saleh ‘Amer Swey’ad S’aida
Amin Abd Muhammad ‘Arbash
George Ghabi Yusuf Bihnan
Ghassan Nu’man Mahmoud Taha
Jibr ‘Ouda Ali Mukhamra
Nitham Mustafa Sawafta
Samer Mahmoud Karim Haimouni
Ibrahim Muhammad Khalil Dababsa
Khalil Suleyman Khalil Jrouf
Ashraf Hussein Mahmoud Abu Ghlass
Tamer Badr Qubtan Abu ‘Arqoub
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad ‘Oud
Tawfiq Abd al-Qader Talib Omar
Ziyad Hassan Abd al-Jalil Kahla
Ayman Yaser Khalil ‘Amru
Imad ‘Ezat Muhammad Awlad Muhammad
Mustafa Sawafta
Muhammad Zuhdi Abd al-Rahman Mahfoudh
Muhammad Ahmad Abd Quttamsh
Amru Hassan Muhammad ‘Amru
Osama Muhammad Suleyman Sabateen
Najeh Yusuf Muhammad ‘Amru
Mu’mmar Muhammad Khalil Ta’amra
Ouda Ismail Muhammad Za’anouna
‘Asem Mahmoud Abd al-Rahim Salama
Amna Mouna
Bedran Abd al-Qader Ibrahim Badir
Ahmad Hassan Ahmad Shaqura
Amin Sarhi Salama Abu Mandil
Hussam Suleyman Mustafa ‘Arouq
Omar Mustafa Muhammad Omar
Fadi ‘Essam Sha’ban Saleem
Jum’a Qader ‘Atiya Abu Farha
Mundhir Mahmoud Muhammad Abu Zaghreet
Ala’ Rubhi Hussein Saleh
Muhammad ‘Ayed Muhammad Rub’i
Ghada Jasser
Nayef Ahmad Abd al-Fatah Butran
Khawla Zeitawi
Khaled Ramadan Tawfiq Ismail
Sa’di Mahmoud Hassan ‘Ouda
Ahmad Mahmod Muhammad Saleh
Haitham ‘Asmat Reja’i Zahran
Muhammad Ahmad Fraj Asleem
Asma’ Hussein
Samar Subaih
Bara’ Subaih
Fadi Husni ‘Oud Abu ‘Aoun
Abdullah Qa’dan Khidr Sa’ad
Mutleq Saleh Qassem Bani Jaber
Rasheed Muhammad Rasheed ‘Aql
Ahlam Jawhar
‘Isa Ahmad Amin Abu Eid
Murad ‘Ezzat Muhammad Qassem
Haitham Muhammad Ahmad Baradi’iya
Muhammad Ahmad Shehadeh Farhan
Muhannad Abd al-Fatah Mahmoud Hatataba
Suad Ghazal
Ahmad Mustafa Ali ‘Araj
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Abu Jheesha
Ibrahim Mufleh Saleh Abu Jheesha
Muhammad Abd al-Karim Ismail Hameedan
Abdullah Hassan Ahmad Qandil
Muhammad Na’eim Nimr Muhammad
Manal Ghanem
Nor Ghanem
Khayri Nasr Yusuf Wahdan
‘Asem Ahmad Muhammad ‘Isa
Hani Mahmoud Hussein Taneena
Nadeem ‘Aoud Mahmoud Smara
Sa’ad al-Din Muhammad Abd al-Majid Hassoun
Muhammad Ibrahim Ismail Abu Ismail
Sana ‘Amer
Rafet Suleyman Hussein Radaideh
‘Ouni Yusuf Mahmoud Omar
Rasem Suleyman Abu Rayhan
Sameeh ‘Isa Abd al-Haroush
Ismail Hassan Ali Jabour
Jibril Hassan Hassan Jabour
Imad Yunus Suleyman Jabour
Tawfiq Ahmad Za’al Jabour
Arafat Mahmoud Muhammad Abd al-Aziz
Ayman Munir Tawfiq
Sa’eed Wajia Sa’eed Al-Outban
Na’el Saleh Abdullah Barghouti
Fakhri ‘Asfour Abdullah Al-Barghouti
Akram Abdulaziz Sa’eed Mansur
Muhammad Ibrahim Mahmoud Abu Ali
Fu’ad Qassem Aeafat Al-Razem
Ibrahim Fadl Nimr Jaber
Aseel Al-Hindi
Hassan Ali Nimr Salama
Uthman Ali Hamdan Musleh
Sami Khaled Salama Yunus
Karim Yusuf Fadl Yunus
Maher Abd al-Latif Abd al-Qader Yunus
Salim Ali Ibrahim Al-Kayl
Hafedh Nimr Muhammad Qundus
Majd Al-Kokhen
‘Isa Nimr Jibril Abdrabo
Muhammad Abd al-Rahim Sa’eed Mansur
Ahmad Fareed Muhammad Shehadeh
Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Nasr
Rafe’ Farhoud Mahmoud Kraja
Talal Yusuf Ahmad Abu Al-Kabash
Ziyad Mahmoud Muhammad Ghneimat
Mustafa ‘Amer Muhammad Ghneimat
Khalid Sa’adi Rashed Abu Shamt
Uthman Abdullah Mahmoud Bani Hussein
Heza’ Mahmoud Heza’ Al-Sa’adi
Bashir Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
‘Asem Mahmoud Ahmad Wali
Seitan Nimr Nimr Wali
Sidqi Suleyman Ahmad Al-Muqt
Hani Badwi Muhammad Sa’eed Jaber
Muhammad Ahmad Abd al-Hamid Al-Tus
Nafidh Ahmad Talib Herz
Fayez Mutawwa’ Hmad Al-Khour
Azi Jum’a Muhammad Al-Nams
Ahmad Abdurrahman Hussein Abu Haseera
Muhammad Misbah Khalil ‘Ashour
Nour Al-Hashalamoun
Walid Nimr As’ad Diqqa
Muhammad Abd al-Hadi Muhammad Al-Husni
Tawfiq Ibrahim Muhammad Abdullah
Mustafa Mahmoud Musa Qar’ushi
Marian Saleh
Rashda Hamdan Muhammad Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Nayef Hamdan Abu Mikh
Ibrahim Abd al-Razeq Ahmad Beyadsa
Ibrahim Mustafa Ahmad Baroud
Ali Badr Ragheb Musulmani
Fawaz Qadhem Rashda Bukhtan
Khalid Ahmad Dawoud Muheisen
‘Asem Saleh Ali Jundal
Wasfa Ahmad Abd al-Qader Mansur
Aladdin Ahmad Reda Al-Baziyan
Ahmad Ali Hussein Abu Jaber
Abd al-Latif Ismail Ibrahim Shaqir
Afu Misbah Nufal Shaqir
Saleh Muhammad Yusuf Al-’Abd
Tareq Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Abd al-Nasser Dawoud Mustafa Al-Hlees
Ibrahim Hussein Ali ‘Elyan
SamirIbrahim Mahmoud Abu Ni’mah
Hazem Muhammad Sabra ‘Asilia
Hamza Nayef Hassan Zayed
Samer ‘Asem Salem Al-Mahroum
Abdurrahman Fadl Abdurrahman Al-Qeeq
Khaled Muttawa’ Muslim Al-Ja’eedi
Ahlam Al-Tamimi
Aziz Dweik
Maryam Saleh

part of the point of compiling a partial list of the names of palestinian political prisoners is related to the utter lack of media attention palestinian political prisoners get in the international media. last week when the free gaza movement’s boat was captured by zionist terrorist colonists and twenty one internationals were imprisoned, the media story focused on them because the media is not interested in covering the imprisonment of the indigenous fighting to free their land. in response, they produced this video about palestinian political prisoners and the 1.5 million palestinians imprisoned in gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison:

cynthia mckinney was one of those jailed by the zionist terrorist colonists and she wrote “letter from an israeli jail,” the title of which, of course, alludes to martin luther king’s “letter from a birmingham jail,” which reads in part:

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

part of the context of those prisoners, who were refugees seeking asylum, mckinney writes about in her letter was reported on last week by irin news:

Some 15,000 mainly African asylum-seekers in Israel have put the regulatory, security and welfare response under strain, according to the Interior Ministry and UNHCR.

Israel does not have a refugee law, despite being a signatory to the 1951 refugee Convention.

However, regulations can allow asylum-seekers to work, and grant temporary protection and non-refoulement (a commitment not to force people back to where they came from).

About 200-300 asylum-seekers arrive each month, mainly overland from Egypt, according to the Immigration Authority and NGOs.

The UNHCR local office reports 14,766 asylum-seekers in Israel, while the Refugee Rights Forum (RRF – eight NGOs active in promoting the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel) suggests a number over 17,000.

The difference may in part be explained by the fact that UNHCR does not count asylum-seekers who are no longer in touch with them, according to William Tall, a UNHCR representative in Israel.

In the run-up to the handover of the RSD process to the Interior Ministry on 2 July, UNHCR has helped train 25 immigration officers who will begin work in July.

what happens with palestinian political prisoners–when internationals and asylum seekers are perhaps far from view–is something mckinney did not witness. in electronic intifada, jonathan cook reported on the most recent reports of the routine torture of palestinians, including youth, inside zionist terrorist colonist jails:

Despite the 1999 court ruling, a coalition of 14 Israeli human rights groups known as United Against Torture concluded in its latest annual report in November that Israeli detention facilities are still using torture systematically. Israeli doctors are also being relied on to treat the resulting injuries.

Last week, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a joint report examining hundreds of arrests in which Palestinians were bound in “distorted and unnatural” ways to inflict “pain and humiliation” amounting to torture.

The report noted instances where prisoners, including a pregnant woman and a dying man, were shackled while doctors carried out emergency procedures in a hospital.

According to the report, the doctors violated the Tokyo Declaration, the key code of medical ethics adopted by the WMA in 1975 that bans the use of cruel, humiliating or inhuman treatment by physicians.

Ishai Menuchin, the head of PCATI, said his group had been lobbying strenuously against Israeli doctors’ complicity in torture since it issued a report, “Ticking Bombs,” in 2007, arguing that torture was routine in Israel.

PCATI highlighted the testimonies of nine Palestinians who had been tortured by interrogators. The report also noted that in most cases Israeli physicians treating detainees “return their patients to additional rounds of torture, and remain silent.”

In June last year, PHR-I drew the IMA’s attention to two cases in which the attending doctor failed to report signs of torture on a Palestinian.

Anat Litvin of PHR-I told the IMA: “We believe that doctors are used by torturers as a safety net — take them out of the system and torture will be much more difficult to enact.”

The groups stepped up their pressure in February, writing to Avinoam Reches, the chairman of the IMA’s ethics committee. They demanded that his association investigate six cases of doctors who failed to report signs of torture.

In one case, a prison doctor, under pressure from interrogators, agreed to retract a written recommendation that a detainee be immediately hospitalized for treatment.

Reches promised to conduct an inquiry. However, last month the two human rights groups criticized him for failing to investigate their claims, accusing him of holding only “amicable and unofficial” conversations over the phone with a few of the doctors concerned.

“We have sent to the IMA many testimonies from victims of torture who were referred to doctors for treatment,” Dr. Menuchin said. “But the IMA has yet to do anything about it.

“A significant number of doctors in Israel, in detention facilities and public hospitals, know torture is taking place, but choose to avert their gaze.”

This month, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section issued a report on the torture of Palestinian children, noting that in several of the cases it cited, Israeli doctors had turned a blind eye. A boy of 14 who was beaten repeatedly on a broken arm reported the abuse to a doctor who, he said, replied only: “I had nothing to do with that.”

The report stated that the group “has not encountered a single case where an adult in a position of authority, such as a soldier, doctor, judicial officer or prison staff, has intervened on behalf of a child who was mistreated.”

Campaigners against Dr. Blachar’s appointment as the head of the WMA say its Israeli sister association’s inaction on torture is unsurprising given its chairman’s public stance.

Derek Summerfield of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “The IMA under Dr. Blachar is in collusion with the Israeli state policy of torture. Its role is to put a benign face on the occupation.”

Dr. Blachar told the Israeli website Ynet last week that such criticisms were “slanderous,” saying he and the IMA denounced all forms of torture.

The WMA, with nine million members in more than 80 countries, was established in 1947 as a response to the abuses sanctioned by German and Japanese doctors during the Second World War.

In 2007, the WMA’s general assembly called on doctors to document and report all cases of suspected torture.

the defence of children international advocates on behalf of the children who are arrested and tortured every month by zionist terrorist forces. here is a recent video they produced to illustrate their predicament:

dci’s most recent urgent action is for wa’ad arafat mustafa al-hidmy and below is information about how you can take more action on his behalf. he is but one child prisoner, but his situation is indicative of the hundreds of palestinian children languishing in zionist terrorist colonist prisons:

Name Wa’ad Arafat Mustafa al-Hidmy
Age at arrest 16
Occupation Student
Place of residence Surif, Hebron, Hebron, OPT
Date of arrest 28 April 2008
Charge No charge
Place of detention Ofer Prison

UPDATE: July 2009

21 September 2009 Possible release date
21 June 2009 Fifth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 March 2009 Fourth administrative detention order (3 months)
26 November 2008 Third administrative detention order (4 months)
27 August 2008 Second administrative detention order (3 months)
6 May 2008 First administrative detention order (4 months)
28 April 2008 Date of arrest

Background information

Wa’ad was arrested from the family home in the village of Surif, near Hebron in the West Bank, at 3:00am on 28 April 2008. He was asleep at the time and woke to the sound of Israeli soldiers banging on the front door.

The soldiers entered the house and after identifying Wa’ad, tied his hands behind his back with plastic cords and took him out of the house to a waiting jeep where he was blindfolded. Wa’ad was placed on the floor of the jeep and told to ‘shut-up’. During the drive to the settlement of Karmi Zur, soldiers in the back of the jeep placed their legs on Wa’ad’s body. On arrival at the settlement Wa’ad was asked some questions about his health before being transferred to Etzion Interrogation and Detention Centre, near Bethlehem. In an affidavit given to lawyers for DCI-Palestine in June 2009, Wa’ad recalls that: ‘I did not know why they were arresting me. I started to wonder whether I had done something wrong without knowing.’

Two days later, Wa’ad was transferred to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, where he was interrogated by a policeman in blue uniform. During the interrogation the policeman told Wa’ad that he had been informed by a third person that Wa’ad had participated in a demonstration organised by Islamic Jihad, an organisation banned by the Israeli authorities. Wa’ad could not recall there being any demonstrations organised by Islamic Jihad where he lived during the previous year and that in any event, he had not participated in any of their demonstrations. Wa’ad recalls that the interrogation only lasted around five minutes.

Several days later a prison officer handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that it was an administrative detention order for six months. Wa’ad recalls feeling depressed because ‘I was expecting to be released because I had not confessed to anything and I had not done anything.’ Two days later Wa’ad’s order was reviewed by the Administrative Detention Court and reduced to four months.

Months passed, and in August, three days before the expiry of the first order, a prison officer again handed Wa’ad a document written in Hebrew and informed him that he had been given a second administrative detention order for four months – ‘I became anxious, but felt helpless. I was expecting to be released after the expiry of the first order but this new order surprised me.’ Several days later the Court reviewed the second order and reduced it to three months.

Wa’ad recalls becoming nervous in the week before the expiry of the second order – ‘I was afraid that the order would be renewed again.’ Two days before the expiry date, Wa’ad was issued with a third administrative detention order for four months, which was confirmed by the Court.

‘I feel a great injustice because of this detention that, according to what I understood from the lawyer and judge, is based on confidential material. I do not know the real reason behind my detention because I cannot remember doing anything that would put the security of the state at risk.’

In March 2009, a few days before the expiry of his third order, Wa’ad was issued with a fourth administrative detention order, for four months, which was later reduced to three months by the Court – ‘I did not know what to do in such a situation. I became unstable and unsure when I would be released. Such a situation is driving me crazy.’

On 14 June 2009, nearly 14 months after his arrest, Wa’ad was visited for the first time by his parents. Up until this time, they had been denied a permit on unspecified security grounds, and only his younger siblings had been allowed to visit him. During the 40 minute visit, Wa’ad recalls telling his parents that he was ‘certain’ to be released on 25 June. However, on 21 June 2009, Wa’ad was issued with a fifth administrative detention order for three months – ‘now I am extremely depressed and do not know what to do.’

Wa’ad was imprisoned once before in September 2005 for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and has a 20 year-old brother who is also being held in administrative detention in the Negev, inside Israel.

Wa’ad will lodge an appeal against the issue of his fifth administrative detention order.

Administrative detention

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial and is often based on “secret evidence.” Israeli Military Order 1591 empowers military commanders to detain Palestinians, including children as young as 12, for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” The initial six month period can be extended by additional six-month periods indefinitely. This procedure denies the detainee the right to a fair trial and the ability to adequately challenge the basis of his or her detention.

There are currently at least 449 Palestinians being held by Israel without charge or trial in administrative detention, of which six were under 18 when they received their order. For more information visit the DCI-Palestine website at Freedom Now.

Recommended action

The detention of a child in these circumstances does not conform to Israel’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Please send Urgent Appeals to the Israeli authorities urging them to:

* Immediately cease the practice of holding persons under the age of 18 in administrative detention; and
* Immediately and unconditionally release Wa’ad from administrative detention, or charge him with a recognisable criminal offence and promptly try him in a proper court of law with internationally accepted standards for a fair trial. Any further action should take into consideration the fact that Wa’ad has now been detained without charge since April 2008.

Appeals to:

Prime Minister,
Office of the Prime Minister,
3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem, 91919, Israel,
Fax: +972- 2-651 2631,
Email: rohm[at]pmo.gov.il, pm_eng[at]pmo.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Ehud Barak
Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Email: minister[at]mod.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Justice, Fax: + 972 2 628 7757; + 972 2 628 8618

Attorney General, Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367

there are prisons within prisons within prisons in palestine because of the zionist terrorist colonists occupying palestinian land. and for those occupying palestine even a five-month-old baby is a threat who cannot be released from the prison that is gaza as was the case last week:

Israeli forces at the Erez crossing stopped a 5-month old baby from crossing into Israel. His mother and five-year old sister both had a permission to leave the Strip, so the 5-year old girl could receive medical treatment in Israel.

As Israeli troops refused the infant to enter Israel, the mother and both her children were forced to turn back home without receiving medical treatment and might be unable to receive another permission to enter Israel.The five-year old girl needed medical help in Israel, as doctors in Gaza were unable to diagnose why the girl has been suffering from chronic fevers.The mother decided to take her baby with her, because she didn’t know how long the treatment would take, assuming that a five-month old infant didn’t constitute any threat for the state of Israel.The permits the mother and her daughter received were only valid on Tuesday and they had a hospital appointment for Tuesday afternoon in the Al-Maqased hospital in Jerusalem.

palestinians in gaza are particularly trapped as are people like natalie abou shakra who has been trying to return home to lebanon, but has been having to confront the egyptian regime who is keeping her trapped inside the prison that is gaza. and for those palestinians from gaza who manage to leave and try to return, mohammed omer’s story is an example of what they will face upon trying to return home:

June 26, 2008 is a day I will never forget. For the events of that day irrevocably changed my life. That day I was detained, interrogated, strip searched, and tortured while attempting to return home from a European speaking tour, which culminated in independent American journalist Dahr Jamil and I sharing the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize in London — an award given to journalists who expose propaganda which often masks egregious human rights abuses.

I want to address the denials from Israel and the inaccurate reporting by a few journalists in addition to requesting state of Israel to acknowledge what it did to me, prosecute the members of the Shin Bet responsible for it and put in place procedures that protect other journalists from such treatment.

Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine.

After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain — and a search for justice.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the agency responsible for controlling Israel’s borders in an June 29th article by Mel Frykberg for the Inter Press Service stated, “the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.”

The statement is wholly inaccurate and impossible on two counts. First, because I’m Palestinian, I am unable to enter Israel or leave Gaza, even through the Rafah border with Egypt, without Israeli permission, something quite difficult to get. Each time I’ve left Gaza for speaking tours required substantial lobbying and political maneuvering by several governments. In 2006, it was the American governments who ultimately won my visa. In 2007 the Dutch Parliament invited me back to speak to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and in 2008 when it was announced I won the Martha Gellhorn Prize, several European countries requested Israel grant me a visa but it was MP Hans Van Baalen of the Netherlands who, with great efforts, secured and guaranteed my passage out of Gaza and Israel, as well as the return for both the 2007 and 2008 trips on the condition I travel and be escorted by members of the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv while within Israel or the occupied West Bank. Therefore I was under diplomatic escort with the full knowledge of the Israeli government when I arrived at Allenby on June 26th. In fact Israeli security had blocked my re-entry for four days, causing me to miss a family wedding and wait in Jordan.

Secondly Dvir’s claim that the IAA didn’t know I was a journalist is proved false by the actions of the Shin Bet and border police. During the interrogation an Israeli security personnel searching my belongings repeatedly asked ‘Where’s the money from the prize, Mohammed?’ The prize is only given to journalists. Not only were they fully aware I am a journalist. They knew exactly how much I received, for what and where.

Dvir further perjured herself when she claimed, “We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.” Her denial shocked a Dutch diplomat in Tel Aviv who had confirmed with the state permission for me to cross on June 26. Again, I was traveling under diplomatic escort and when I asked to phone the escort — waiting on the other side of the terminal — Shin Bet’s response was they knew and didn’t care.

While not admitting that the interrogation and torture took place, Divr then dismissed any actions by the Shin Bet as out of her department’s control: “I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behavior of the Shin Bet.” But the Israeli Airport Authority, Divr’s department, like most port authorities, is responsible for border security and those who enforce that security in Israel are members of the army and the Shin Bet.

Unfortunately Dvir’s diversions were just the beginning. In the days following my detention and torture, the Israeli Government Press Office acknowledged that despite traveling under diplomatic escort I was searched “due to suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements and had been asked by them to deliver items to Judea and Samaria (Occupied West Bank).” This has been mentioned and quoted in different papers. Like everyone else entering, my bags were x-rayed and cleared multiple times excluding the possibility I was carrying some type of contraband. And I was traveling in the Dutch Embassy’s car directly to Erez crossing with Gaza , as communicated to the Israeli authorities. There was zero possibility of me delivering ‘items’ to anyone.

Confronted with the medical reports and injuries including bruised ribs Israeli officials told the BBC on July 1, 2008 that, “He lost balance and fell, for reasons unknown to us,” other officers suggest, “Mr. Omer had a nervous breakdown due to the high temperature.”

Despite the attempts at denials, the emergency medical technician who sat in the back of the ambulance with me reported, “We noted fingerprints on his neck and chest,” the type bruising caused by excessive force often used in forensics to identify an attacker.

When Associated Press reporter Karin Laub called me on my cell phone for an interview after my ordeal, I detailed how I was stripped and held at gunpoint. Her reply? “Go on,” she stated. “This is normal about what we hear happening at Ben Gurion Airport. It’s nothing new.”

Torture, strip searches and holding award winning journalists or any other human beings at gun point is normal at Israel ’s largest airport? Ms. Laub’s apathy continued. In her article for the Associated Press on June 29th she wrote that she interviewed “Dr. Husseini who claims there were no signs of physical trauma.”

There’s only one problem with this. This Dr. Husseini never treated me. The Minister of Health in Ramallah confirmed that Husseini never made any such statement to the AP reporter. For reasons known only to her, Ms. Laub appears to have fabricated this comment and purposely ignored the medical reports and the statements by the attending paramedics — counter to journalistic ethics and standards upheld by the Associated Press. Despite this, no independent investigation took place.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem correspondent for the Los Angles Times, Ashraf Khalil, conducted an investigation into my case and noted in his article on November 3, 2008, that my medical records describe: “Tenderness on the anterior part of the neck and upper back mainly along the right ribs moderate to severe pain,” and “by examination the scrotum due to pain varicocele (varicose veins in the spermatic cord) at left side detected and surgery was decided later.” Fevers and falls do not cause such distinctive marks. Kicks, punches and beatings do. Continuing Khalil explains that, “Paramedic Mahmoud Tararya arrived in a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance and said he found Omer semiconscious with bruises on his neck and chest. Tararya said Israeli security officers were asking Omer to sign “some sort of form written in Hebrew. The paramedic said he intervened, separated Omer from the soldiers and loaded him into the ambulance, where he remained semiconscious for most of the trip to a hospital.”

Khalil notes in his article that Richard Falk, the U.N. human rights official wrote to Verhagen, the Minster of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and stated: “I have checked out Mr. Omer’s credibility and narrative of events, and I find them fully credible and accurate.”

Recovering mentally and physically from torture and interrogation is far from easy. This should not happen to anyone. My objective is for my case to focus attention on universal human rights, the right of freedom of expression and freedom of movement. There are places in this world where these freedoms do not exist. Israel insists it is not one of those places, but both the government and the complicity of individual journalists in covering up what they did to me prove otherwise. Ironically, the day the Shin Bet chose to detain, interrogate and torture me — June 26 — is the date set aside by human rights groups as the International Day Against Torture.

the situation with gaza, while different from the west bank, 1948 palestine, and palestinian refugees outside of the region can be solved–indeed all of the above problems can be solved with the same solution: the right of return for palestinian refugees. when palestinian refugees are granted the right of return there will be no more problems with the zionst terrorist colonists putting palestinians in prison. there will be no more problems with them controlling the borders and torturing palestinians. this is what palestinians want and this boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) is one of the main methods they are using to seek this desired and long overlooked right. in the last month or two i’ve been trying to seek new signatures for the u.s. campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel. i had an email conversation with norman finkelstein, whose academic work i admire so much and whose work has been fundamental my own research project. he told me that he speaks about bds when he gives talks, but that he thinks ending the siege of gaza is more urgent. while i agree that the situation in gaza is urgent, i also think that the underlying core issue is the right of return given that the majority of the population in gaza are refugees for starters. ending the siege of gaza is necessary, but it is only a small part of the solving the problem. the larger issue is liberating palestinian land and fighting for the right of all palestinians to return to their homes and land. period. he asked me if i would help organize a protest in the west bank in coordination with his new year’s convergence on gaza and i told him that i would share the information, but that the people i know would rather energy be spent on bds and and right of return. and then i saw the new facebook group for the march and changed my mind. below is the image associated with the group:

n99488432247_4846

i do not know if norman helped to create this image or agreed to it. but this image is highly offensive to me. to me this image says that this march is about norman and not about the people of gaza who are featured only as silhouettes in the background below the white man who is the only subject featured prominently in this image. it reminded me of his talk in shatila refugee camp in lebanon a couple of years ago when he said, one the one hand, that it is up to palestinians to decide their own fate, but on the other hand that they should agree to a two-state solution and give up the right of return to their original homes and land. the people in the camp were incredibly irate as you might imagine. it seems that when norman was in gaza a couple of months ago at least some people had a similar reaction to his discourse as an activist, though not as a scholar. natalie abou shakra has two posts about this in relation to the march as well. the first one is entitled “the white man teaches the native”:

SO, did I not tell you about Mr. Finkelstein’s discovery of civil resistance and suddenly teaching the Palestinians… “how to fight”?
Off the record, Mr. Finkelstein: the first twenty years of the Palestinian struggle was a civil, non-violent resistance. After 1967, Palestinian civil resistance went hand in hand with armed struggle…
What a disappointment:

and here is her second post entitled “tarzan in africa”:

So, Norman Finkelstein visited the Gaza Strip around a month ago with the Code Pink delegation that came in via the Rafeh Crossing.

Norman Finkelstein in “my” opinion is an excellent researcher, his books on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are widely read…
But, when Norman Finkelstein visited Gaza, “I” [and many other Palestinian intellectuals and political analysts] were… dissapointed.

Norman Finkelstein spoke to Hamas officials in Gaza, and told them “what they have to do,” to… “turn down the rhetoric,” and accept the two-prison- oops- I mean the “two-state” solution.

Norman Finkelstein decided to call for a breaking of the siege by US citizens coming into Gaza marching to the Beit Hanoun Crossing [known as Erez Crossing on the Israeli side]. So, Norman Finkelstein comes to Gaza for… four days and he: takes on the leadership of the Palestinian civil resistance.

Now… don’t get me wrong. “We” welcome any initiative to break this medieval, hermetic siege on Gaza. I mean, if Norman Finkelstein is capable of organizing a march that can manage the oppressive, totalitarian, dictatorial Egyptian regime, open the Rafeh Crossing, break the Apartheid wall, then go to “Erez” to break the siege- we support him!

However, the siege is part of a political umbrella.

The BDS movement shows nowhere on the radar of Norman Finkelstein.

Norman Finkelstein did not show any support for the inalienable right of return for the six million refugees, the core of the… “conflict.”

Norman Finkelstein did not admit to the fact that the two-prison solution is a… racist solution, a 19th century idea which does NOT support the INALIENABLE right of return.

Norman Finkelstein: Israel is an occupation; it is the longest occupation the 20th century has witnessed, of the WB and GS, it is a colonization, and is an Apartheid; against the 1948 indigenous population, not to mention its Bantustanization of the GS and WB.
In the last genocidal war against the Palestinians, more than 93% of the Israeli citizens supported war crimes in Gaza. “Israel now looks very much like Germany in the 1930s” says Gideon Levy from Ha’aretz.

“I” mean: who supported a two state solution in Apartheid South Africa? A state for the Black and a state for the… White?
Norman Finkelstein must choose a side: with oppression or against oppression.

Uri Avnery, Peace Now, patronizingly will reply back saying he accepts the return of only… 20,000 refugees. He is anti-BDS and anti-ROR [right of return]. He is… a “leftist” Zionist… from when does the “left” accept a … religious state? [or state to begin with]. He is like the “master” who decides. “I” mean… am “I” stupid? How can a democratic state exist when it has a… religious identity?! I must be really stupid here Uri, I mean… for me not to understand your “democracy.”

Israel must transfer to a secular, democratic state a la South Africa.

Meaning: a state for ALL of its citizens disregarding gender, race or religion.

I mean… I am really dissapointed with Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Gaza.

As soon as PACBI was founded in 2004, the Knesset formed a committee which included Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu, with Uri Avnery behind the curtains, to counteract it.

The worst thing to hear right now is…”let the Palestinians decide what their fate will be.” Really? Was that the case with South Afica? The BDS and One Democratic state are UNIVERSALISTIC in their slogans: social justice, secularism, democracy…

In South Africa, no one said okay for Bantustans!

When Norman Finkelstein came forward after an ISM Gaza talk in the Commodore Hotel in the port area in Gaza, he said “gather up students from the US group, and let them get on the borders with cameras- let’s see if their [Israeli soldiers] are going to shoot when America is watching!”

Norman… you completely neglect the Palestinian civil resistance that existed since… 1936. Yes, I assure you. We, Arabs did have that going on. But, will the White man ever challenge his standards of “us”?

If Norman Finkelstein flirts with Zionism… then?

here is one of the many examples of why the situation in gaza needs to be dealt with in a way that recognizes the issue of the right of return that would help all palestinians in the long-term. abd al-rahman talakeh was arrested for “infiltrating” his own land, though he was born as a refugee in gaza. this news item illustrates the way in which prisoners, gaza, and the right of return is all connected and why the right of return is the only solution to all of the above problems:

A Palestinian from Gaza was indicted in an Israeli court on “terrorism” and “infiltration” charges Sunday, according to the country’s Prime Minister’s Office.

In a statement to Ma’an, Israel claimed that the Palestinian refugee, Abd Al-Rahman Talalkeh, was arrested in the Negev desert on 1 June after having left Gaza and entered Israel via the Sinai Peninsula.

He was indicted at a Beersheba court in the Negev, which was both the target of the alleged “infiltration” as well as the prior residence of 16,000 refugees who pre-Israel Zionist militants expelled to the An-Nuseirat camp in Gaza, where Talkalkeh was born in 1984.

Israel alleged that the young Palestinian said he received military training by the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, intended to establish “a terrorism infrastructure inside Israel,” and was well-versed on the use of a variety of weapons.

The Popular Resistance Committees did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

but the issue with norman finkelstein reminds me of why it is important to listen to those you work with so that you are not imposing your will on them, so that you are working in solidarity to help people realize their goals and rights and dreams. naomi klein, who has been speaking out on bds recently, including when she was just here also shows the limits of even those supporting boycott. although i also love her writing, i was quite disturbed when i saw her talking in bil’in and when she somehow managed to rationalize the fact that she was wearing shoes made in the zionist terrorist colonist regime. i mean, does one really need shoes that are identical to birkenstocks? is that really so hard to boycott? here she is rationalizing away:

unlike klein i think that boycott must be across the board. no exceptions. right of return. no exceptions. i wish that these white folks who are famous, who have a wider audience would get behind these two fundamentally important aspects of palestinian resistance. they have the power to influence so many people and i think that listening to refugees and to the larger civil society in palestine is the only way to act as foreigners, as white people who want to see rights realized in palestine. is that really too much to ask?