on why there is no (post) in colonialism

mr. fish
mr. fish

the obama administration is continuing with the age-old policies and practices of american racism at home and abroad. it was founded on these principles, and of course, just because the united states has its first african american president does not mean that this phenomenon will magically end. glen ford has a brilliant assessment of why the u.s. boycott of the united nations world conference against racism (durban 2) not only affects america’s racism directed at people around the world, but also at home in the u.s. he contextualizes this in relation to the other white colonial boycotters of the conference:

What a spectacle it was! Diplomats from the colonizing countries of Europe and the white settler regimes they founded rose in indignation in Geneva, Switzerland, last week, to denounce a Persian leader for racism. Envoys from France, Britain, Spain and Denmark, whose nations are responsible for orgies of rape and pillage that killed untold millions in the centuries-long European war against the darker regions of the planet, pretended that their sensibilities had been assaulted by a speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The irate Europeans joined with their brothers and sisters in historical genocide and mass murder, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden – kidnappers of nations, invaders, enslavers of whole peoples – who had boycotted the Geneva conference on racism, commonly known as Durban II. The world is stained with oceans of blood because of these Europeans, yet they have the nerve, the gall, to attempt to demonize the Iranian president for the words he spoke about Israel. Leading the sabotage of the conference was the United States, along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, of course, Israel – the European settler colonies that became nations on the bones and stolen land of previous inhabitants.

What a display of unbounded arrogance! Of the 15 nations that either boycotted or walked out of the anti-racism conference, in Geneva, only two – Poland and Finland – were not tainted by or products of colonialism and the slave trade. All the rest are complicit in the death of millions, and most continue to profit from their crimes.

The object of European and white settler anger, the Islamic government of Iran, has not attacked anyone in several hundred years. Its president told the conference that an entire nation was made “homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering … in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine.” Most of the world agrees with that assessment – just as most of the world considers the slave trade to have been a crime against humanity. But that verdict is not accepted by the governments of the nations that built fabulous wealth on commerce in genocide.

The walkout in Geneva was all but choreographed by the United States and its Zionist partners, who began subverting the conference from the moment Barack Obama was sworn into office. The U.S. and its allies made sure that President Ahmadinejad’s speech would get lots of corporate media attention. He was the only head of state to address the conference, that day; nobody else came.

In sabotaging Durban II, Barack Obama succeeded in avoiding coming to grips with grievances registered against the United States by delegates to the previous international anti-racism conference, in Durban, South Africa, eight years ago. The U.S. was supposed to report last week on progress made in fighting residential housing segregation, police brutality, the crimes associated with Katrina, and other American racial problems. But it was more important to Barack Obama to whitewash Israel. Now we know who serves whom.

here is more of glen ford in all his eloquence on laura flanders’ grit tv talking about durban 2 and american racism/racism in america:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Durban II and Race in America", posted with vodpod

john pilger weighs in on obama’s continuing racist imperial regime in dissident voice today:

In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not “persons”, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of “defense”, Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.

In Afghanistan, the US “strategy” of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the “Taliban”) has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely. Obama’s policy, one unchanged since the Cold War, is to intimidate Russia and China, now an imperial rival. He is proceeding with Bush’s provocation of placing missiles on Russia’s western border, justifying it as a counter to Iran, which he accuses, absurdly, of posing “a real threat” to Europe and the US. On 5 April in Prague, he made a speech reported as “anti-nuclear”. It was nothing of the kind. Under the Pentagon’s Reliable Replacement Warhead program, the US is building new “tactical” nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war.

Perhaps the biggest lie — the equivalent of smoking is good for you — is Obama’s announcement that the US is leaving Iraq, the country it has reduced to a river of blood. According to unabashed US army planners, as many as 70,000 troops will remain “for the next 15 to 20 years.” On 25 April, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, alluded to this. It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered — especially as the nation’s economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s principal economic adviser, is throwing $3 trillion at the same banks that paid him more than $8 million last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in.

more signs of change you cannot believe in is how obama has been dealing with the situation in somalia, which of course feeds into american stereotypes and racism. davey d did an interview with somali rapper k’naan for black agenda report that helps to dispel a lot of myths about somalia on a number of levels. for one thing k’naan mentions an important factoid in the first half of the interview: “somalia has had the longest anti-colonial war in the history of africa.” also interesting is a question davey d asks in relation to obama’s racial profiling of somali american youth returning to somalia to fight for their country against american-led proxy wars against somalia; davey d asks how somali american youth are treated in this regard as compared to israeli american youth who go back to the zionist entity to join their terrorist army. i feel like k’naan sort of side steps part of the issue given that he’s dealing with imperialist struggles over somalia in much of this interview and does not make that link to palestine, though i’m sure he is well aware of this given his music. in any case, here is the interview:

glen ford’s editorial this week on black agenda report adds some analysis to k’naan’s assessment of the imperialist nature of somali coast guards (what the west calls “pirates”):

It is impossible to discuss lawlessness in Somali coastal waters without confronting the U.S. and European role in destroying the rule of law in the country. The chief culprit is the United States, which encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia, in 2006, in order to depose the first government the country had had since 1991. Since the early Sixties, U.S. policy in Africa has been to sow chaos in those regions it cannot effectively control. The Somalis drove the Ethiopians out, much to the chagrin of Washington. With the increase in ship hijackings, the Americans and Europeans spin the situation as one in which they must impose order on Somalia – when, in fact, it is outsiders’ attempts to dominate Somalia that have led to such grave disorder.

We now learn that France and Spain, among the maritime powers most guilty of illegally poaching Somalia’s fisheries, have designated themselves as the guardians of the Somali coast. The French and Spanish have enjoyed a bounty of fishing off Somalia, with no Somali coast guard to keep them from taking as much as they want of the national resource. So, the biggest thieves of Somali fish choose themselves as protectors of the fisheries. France and Spain both base their fishing fleets in the nearby Seychelles Islands.

Any dispassionate observer would conclude that the French, the Spanish and the rest of the freeloaders are reverting to a kind of piracy of their own, like in the good old days when whites sailed the world and took what they wanted. But then, that’s a cartoonish way of looking at the world – or is it?

theatre of the oppressed festival

tonight i took some of my students from my drama class to see theatre of the oppressed, which is currently touring palestine. although i’ve taught drama classes for years and taken students to see plays–in ghana, palestine, and in the united states–i’ve never had the opportunity to see theatre of the oppressed live. i’ve only read about it and been very intrigued by the idea of it. here is a bit about the concept and its founding:

Theatre of the Oppressed was born in 1971, in Brazil, under the very young form of Newspaper Theatre , with the specific goal of dealing with local problems – soon, it was used all over the country. Forum Theatre came into being in Peru, in 1973, as part of a Literacy Program; we thought it would be good only for South America– now it is practiced in more than 70 countries. Growing up, TO developed Invisible Theatre in Argentina, as political activity, and Image Theatre to establish dialogue among Indigenous Nations and Spanish descendants, in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico… Now these forms are being used in all kinds of dialogues.

this is the second annual tour of theatre of the oppressed in palestine. there are several countries touring with their theatre troupes here: south africa, germany, bosnia & herzegovina, norway, sweden, and portugal. we saw the performance by house of azania today from south africa. they performed a piece called “who do you think you are?” which includes 8 interlinked acts, although we only saw 3 of them. given the way that theatre of the oppressed works i imagine that this is usual and given that they performed in nablus and had to return to ramallah tonight they had to leave before huwara checkpoint closed. they were performing oppression in a space of oppression after all.

theatre of the oppressed is unusual because the actors perform a scene that usually engages with a social problem of some kind. tonight they performed three such acts: one on ethnic cleansing, one on laborer’s rights, and one on xenophobia. the first one, on ethnic cleansing, was based on the group areas act, which later became the forced removal act, that forcibly removed black south africans from their land and their homes. here is a brief synopsis of that apartheid-era law:

The Apartheid Era was one of division and segregation based on the colour of one’s skin. The Group Areas Act of 1950 (Act No. 41 of 1950) was created on 27 April, the day that is today recognised as Freedom Day in the New South Africa. This act was created to split racial groups up into different residential areas of any given town or city.

The result of this act was that the best, most developed areas were reserved for the white people, while the blacks, Indians, and coloureds were assigned to the more rural outskirts of the major metropoles. 84% of the available land was granted to the white people, who made up only 15% of the total population. The 16% remaining land was then occupied by 80% of the population. This led to overcrowding, diseases, shortage of food and funds and a host of other problems. The areas assigned to the black people were dubbed the Tribal Homelands.

Once the areas were defined, anyone living in the “wrong” area was required to move, or else be forcibly removed. However, of the 3.5 million people who were required to leave the homes they had established for themselves, only 2% were white. And this group were moved to better areas than where they had been living.

Establishing the non-white areas on the outskirts of the metropole or city centre meant that they had to travel vast distances to get to work. But it also meant that they were isolated from basic amenities, such as hospitals, police stations and other emergency services. This created a sense of chaos in the homelands, an independent attempt at dealing with issues as they arose. This was dangerous for the residents, and led to many riots, outbreaks, and even deaths.

The only exceptions made were for non-whites who worked within the white suburbs, such as domestic workers. These workers were often required to stay on the white boss’ premises to avoid the daily commute and they were issued with special permission to allow for this. However, none of their family members were able to live with or even visit them. If they were found on the premises, they could be charged and imprisoned. This led to the splitting of many non-white families due to secular demands.

The assignment of areas to the black people was based on their tribal grouping, the record of which was often incorrect. The plan was that each homeland would eventually form a citizenship, so that blacks could no longer be considered citizens of South Africa, thereby relinquishing them of their rights and responsibilities. Between 1976 and 1981, four homelands were developed. The black people that had once occupied South Africa now needed a passport to cross the borders of their homelands into SA.

The Group Areas Act also stipulated that non-whites were not allowed to own or run businesses within the white areas. This limited their growth and financial development considerably, as they were only allowed to work in their townships and homelands. Even there, they could not usually afford major enterprises and would try to survive off small supply stores or basic services run from a shack.

of course this first sketch resonated quite well with a palestinian audience given the 122 years of zionist colonization making palestinians homeless and landless. one of the characters in this scene–the man playing the husband–tells his wife before the police bang on their door “they can’t take our houses from us. we’ve been here for generations.” sound familiar?

they performed the scene and then as with the style of theatre of the oppressed they performed it a second time immediately after. it is in the second performance that we see how augusto boal intended to use theatre for political ends. because in the second time an audience member is asked to yell “stop” at a moment when they want to join the actors on the stage in order to intervene in the problem. each scene is already set up in a way that there is a conflict–in this case between the family and the police–that is going around in circles and they cannot resolve. the audience member’s job is to solve the problem in some way by changing the action on stage. multiple audience members may join in and this was the case in most of their scenes tonight. a student from an najah university (not one of mine) got up on stage in this one and took over in the husband’s role because she felt he was being too passive. unlike his character–who in the end was willing to leave their house without much of a fight–she refused to leave the house and follow the colonist police officer’s orders. others eventually came up on stage taking on the role of neighbors who joined together to scare the police away and state that they would refuse to leave their homes and land. the first two pictures below are from this scene.

dsc00031

dsc00040

the second scene was about laborers in south africa–particularly miners in the gold and diamond mines that made white south africans so very wealthy. the employer in this scene was unhappy with the workers because they sang while they worked. one of my friends got up on stage in this scene and staged a sit in for workers rights (next two photos).

dsc00049

dsc00055

the final scene acted out was on xenophobia, which has been a big problem in south africa with respect to africans from neighboring countries moving to south africa and south africans feeling like their jobs are being taken, crime is increasing, diseases are spreading (americans should be familiar with this sort of racism especially as it is directed at mexicans). i found this to be a challenging piece for the audience here, however. the context is something that palestinians are not familiar with inside palestine. certainly palestinians have been on the receiving end of this whether as workers in the gulf or as refugees in places like lebanon banned from 72 different professions. but it is next to impossible for foreign workers to come here to work (my “work visa,” for instance, does not come from the palestinian authority, but from the israeli colonists and technically it is still a tourist visa, just a longer one on which they stamp the words “not permitted to work” ironically enough given that my university applied for it on my behalf). but two of my students got up and tried to intervene in this one. they did a great job, but i just think that the lack of context made this particular social problem a difficult one to engage with here (photos below).

dsc00067

dsc00077

let’s talk about intolerance

tonight on al jazeera’s “inside story” sohail rahman started off with a question for his guests–my friend sayyed mohammad marandi as well as ramu damodaran and shai franklin–with a question about whether or not mahmoud ahmadinejad’s speech at the united nations world conference against racism hijacked the conference. he should have asked about the pre-conference hijacking of the event by zionists and their allies around the world who boycotted the conference. their attempt at controlling other nations and their discourse on racism is the real issue. but with rahman’s second question he was getting at one of the core issues here: he asked about intolerance to ahmadinejad in terms of free speech and also in terms of addressing racism itself. indeed, when we have intolerance for speech we don’t like–particularly when it addresses subjects like racism–we defeat the purpose of dealing with racism itself and are acting in an intolerant fashion. here is the episode:

given that zionism is racism, something that al jazeera knows all too well, i find it disturbing that they allowed a professional zionist like franklin on its show. this is like having a discussion about racism in united states and inviting a member of the ku klux klan to join in (and franklin on slavery in the united states and what he thinks the u.s. is doing is equally deceitful). because while i speak about intolerance in relation to speech we don’t like above, i do not include racist speech in that. i do not include speech that is used in order to demonize and eradicate a people, which is the essence of zionism. franklin characterized ahmadinejad’s speech as anti-jewish, in contradistinction to both ahmadinejad’s careful language to speak about zionism–not judaism or jews–and marandi’s on the show. but franklin is not so careful. like many zionists he prefers to blur the lines between jews and zionists in order to suggest that if you are anti-zionist then you must be anti-jewish or anti-semitic. here is the part of ahmadinejad’s speech he seemed to object to:

World Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religions and abuses religious sentiments to hide its hatred and ugly face. However, it is of great importance to bring into focus the political goals of some of the world powers and those who control huge economic resources and interests in the world. They mobilize all the resources including their economic and political influence and world media to render support in vain to the Zionist regime and to maliciously diminish the indignity and disgrace of this regime.

This is not simply a question of ignorance and one cannot conclude these ugly phenomena through consular campaigns. Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their political and international supporters and in respect with the will and aspirations of nations. Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism and to move towards reform in current international mechanisms.

There is no doubt that you are all aware of the conspiracies of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference. Unfortunately, there have been literatures and statements in support of Zionists and their crimes. And it is the responsibility of honorable representatives of nations to disclose these campaigns which run counter to humanitarian values and principles.

It should be recognized that boycotting such a session as an outstanding international capacity is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism. In defending human rights, it is primarily important to defend the rights of all nations to participate equally in all important international decision making processes without the influence of certain world powers.

all of ahmadinejad’s statements above are facts. he is not speaking of an anti-jewish conspiracy as franklin would have us believe. rather, he is discussing the reality that many of us are up against when we try to fight zionism and its colonial rule over palestinian land. indeed, the very fact that zionists have such control is connected to the fact that so many powerful ex/neo colonial rulers walked out of the durban 2 conference in geneva. it is related to why it is so difficult to challenge the dominant deceitful narrative about palestine in the media. these are facts. one perfect example is a headline today by roger boyes in the times online reads “israel: iran trying to do ‘what adolf hitler did to jewish people'” and concludes by stating:

“Israel can never live with the idea that Iran will hold a nuclear bomb because we have heard what the President of Iran and other leaders there have said: that Israel has no right to exist and that Israel should be wiped off the map and that they will do everything to destroy Israel.”

first: read my post the other day about the zionist entity’s plans to wipe iran off the map. second: this extreme hyperbolic rhetoric is a complete misrepresentation of the truth. what anti-zionists want–from ahmadinejad to myself–is the end of a jewish state. we want palestinian refugees to return to their homes. but zionists don’t want to talk about the historical context or these political rights or the racism that keeps them from allowing palestinians to finally receive some justice. so instead they continually pervert reality and make claims to distract us from the facts. in the end what this does is continues to promote intolerance. the bloggers at pulse contextualize this gross misrepresentation of ahmadinejad:

Ahmadinejad has a habit of upsetting the West, this time outrageously explaining how Palestine WAS wiped off the map. Only to be followed by a shameful shower of Nakba deniers walking out in disgust.

The Iranian president was famously misquoted as saying he wanted Israel wiped off the map, a phrase repeated often and attributed to him incorrectly. It was repeated so often in Israel that it became lexicon and one cabinet minister, Meir Sheetrit, slipped up, revealing his true feelings when he said ”we must take a neighbourhood in Gaza and wipe it off the map”. A year later and more than ONE neighbourhood has disappeared.

of course the racism of wiping palestinians off the map is not allowed to get talked about. if you do you are racist. how’s that for intolerance?

but the most interesting development in relation to ahmadinejad’s speech is the response to it by palestinian civil society asking him to put his money where his mouth is:

Palestinian civil society groups called on Tehran to cut ties with two French companies profiting from work in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took center stage as a critic of Israel at a UN conference in Geneva, the Palestinian Campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) criticized Iran for business ties with Veolia Environment and Alstrom.

According to the Tehran Times, the Tehran Municipality is involved in negotiations with Veolia Environment for the development of the city’s urban transport system.

Alstom has a headquarters in Tehran and received a number of large contracts, including a 192 million euro contract with Iran’s state railways in 1999 and a larger 375 million euro contract to supply 50 turbo compressors to Iran in 2002.

The two firms are the investors behind the Citypass consortium that won a 2002 tender issued by Israeli authorities for a light rail line that connects Jerusalem to settlements in the occupied West Bank. The consortium is responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of the system for a 30-year period.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) called on Tehran to “take the necessary steps to ban Veolia and Alstom and their subsidiaries from any contracts and operations in the country.”

Veolia and Alstom have already been targeted for boycott in countries across Europe. In 2006 the Dutch ASN Bank decided to exclude Veolia from its portfolio on account of the firm’s actions in occupied Jerusalem. In 2008, the company lost its bid to for a contract with Stockholm for eight years, worth 3.5 billion euro, partially due to a strong public sentiment against the company due to its involvement the Jerusalem rail project.

Later, the Swedish national pension fund AP7 blacklisted Alstom, partially for its Jerusalem involvement.

Less than a week ago Veolia lost a contract worth 750 million euro in Bordeaux, France after to pressure from pro-Palestine activists.

zionism is discrimination is oppression is racism is apartheid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jonathan "zapiro" shapiro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

picture-1

if you feel like banging your head against the wall…

you can spend the next 30 minutes with this episode of al jazeera’s inside story. normally maryam nemazee is okay when interviewing her subjects, but given her background in investigating particular topics i find it strange that she ignored things like the israeli terrorist state’s possession of nuclear weapons. her guests are dan schueftan, an israeli terrorist professor from haifa university who makes me ill and who should be banned from al jazeera i feel; amer hamzawi; and robert fisk, who did a horrible job responding to nemazee’s questions–especially in the 2nd half when he had a golden opportunity to challenge the mofo on nuclear weapons. here is a sample of that nutcase israeli terrorist said:

you’re misrepresenting the issues here because when we’re speaking about the arab peace initiative, israel responded to it saying it had very positive elements in it and israel is willing to negotiate it. the problem is what the arab states are saying is that israel will have to accept refugees according to 194 and then they want to sign on the dotted line before negotiations even start. the real issues in the middle east have very little to do with the palestinians. palestinians are a negligible issue. everyone deals wtih it. the real problem is the nuclearization of iran. everybody in the region is concerned about it. for egypt it’s a major threat. the whole region may become nuclear after the iranians become nuclear.

point one: yes, this is true. the israeli terrorists should be forced to sign any agreement BEFORE negotiations start, though the arab initiative is flawed. not only that but they should show us they actually will make good on their signature. unfortunately, racist white south africans keep their word better than zionist colonists. we know from every single second of the last 122 years that zionists/israelis never tell the truth and their words can never be honored.

fisk responds to this nimrod by saying that the real issue is pakistan with regards to the nuclear threat. which leads me to point two: fisk completely ignores the nuclear issue. the real threat is not pakistan it is the israeli terrorist state. period. many of us have known this for a long time because we read credible sources. others (read: the u.s.) find this information to be somehow new:

But JOE 2008 also departed from the norm in U.S. Government documents by identifying Israel as a nuclear weapons state.

“In effect, there is a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east,” JOE 2008 stated (pdf, at page 37) in a discussion of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The unusual reference to Israel’s nuclear status was noticed by Amir Oren in Ha’aretz, who explained that “Israel’s nuclear program is rarely, if ever, explicitly mentioned in public, unclassified U.S. official documents.” See “U.S. Army document describes Israel as ‘a nuclear power’,” Ha’aretz, March 8.

and on a related note, point 2.5, the real danger with respect to pakistan is not nuclear weapons (though they should be banned everywhere to be sure), but rather the united states of terrorism. david sanger and eric schmitt report in the new york times that it seems likely the u.s. war in pakistan will not only continue, but expand:

But some American officials say the missile strikes in the tribal areas have forced some leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda to flee south toward Quetta, making them more vulnerable. In separate reports, groups led by both Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in the region, and Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, a top White House official on Afghanistan, have recommended expanding American operations outside the tribal areas if Pakistan cannot root out the strengthening insurgency.

Many of Mr. Obama’s advisers are also urging him to sustain orders issued last summer by President George W. Bush to continue Predator drone attacks against a wider range of targets in the tribal areas. They also are recommending preserving the option to conduct cross-border ground actions, using C.I.A. and Special Operations commandos, as was done in September. Mr. Bush’s orders also named as targets a wide variety of insurgents seeking to topple Pakistan’s government. Mr. Obama has said little in public about how broadly he wants to pursue those groups.

A spokesman for the National Security Council, Mike Hammer, declined to provide details, saying, “We’re still working hard to finalize the review on Afghanistan and Pakistan that the president requested.”

No other officials would talk on the record about the issue, citing the administration’s continuing internal deliberations and the politically volatile nature of strikes into Pakistani territory.

“It is fair to say that there is wide agreement to sustain and continue these covert programs,” said one senior administration official. “One of the foundations on which the recommendations to the president will be based is that we’ve got to sustain the disruption of the safe havens.”

the point of the show was actually avigdor lieberman who is slated to become the zionist entity’s next foreign minister. here is what one palestinian in 1948 asks us to do about this:

Ahmed Tibi, an MP with the United Arab List, urged the European Union to boycott Lieberman if he becomes foreign minister. “I urge European foreign ministers not to recognize this fascist who advocates the expulsion of Arabs,” he said.

here is what fisk has to say about lieberman in the independent yesterday:

Only days after they were groaning with fury at the Israeli lobby’s success in hounding the outspoken Charles Freeman away from his proposed intelligence job for President Obama, the Arabs now have to contend with an Israeli Foreign Minister whose – let us speak frankly – racist comments about Palestinian loyalty tests have brought into the new Netanyahu cabinet one of the most unpleasant politicians in the Middle East.

The Iraqis produced the hateful Saddam, the Iranians created the crackpot Ahmadinejad – for reasons of sanity, I leave out the weird ruler of Libya – and now the Israelis have exalted a man, Avigdor Lieberman, who out-Sharons even Ariel Sharon.

A few Palestinians expressed their cruel delight that at last the West will see the “true face” of Israel. I’ve heard that one before – when Sharon became prime minister – and the usual nonsense will be trotted out that only a “hard-line extremist” can make the compromises necessary for a deal with the Palestinians.

This kind of self-delusion is a Middle East disease. The fact is that the Israeli Prime Minister-to-be has made it perfectly clear there will be no two-state solution; and he has planted a tree on Golan to show the Syrians they will not get it back. And now he’s brought into the cabinet a man who sees even the Arabs of Israel as second-class citizens.

i agree with angry arab on this one, not fisk:

Lieberman=Peres=Livni=Rabin=Ben Gurion=Begin=Sharon=the rest of the Zionist gang

but what really pissed me off is what fisk says in the episode about palestinians giving up on un resolution 194. nope, sorry to inform you, robert, but they have not given up this right. nor is it for you to say what rights they do and do not give up. i thank god that they have never given up this right and i hope that they never do. indeed, while i agree with as’ad on the fact that every leader of the israeli terrorist state has been an extremist terrorist, the difference with lieberman is he is more vocal about it. but what i hope this does is energize a new base, a new liberation movement that ends the zionist entity once and for all. lieberman in office, if he outrages people enough, i hope would once again lead this region to stand up not only to the colonial regime here, but the neo-colonial regimes in the rest of the region.

as long as whatever israeli terrorist that is in power of colonized palestine helps to embolden the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, i’m all for it. apparently the zionist terrorists are looking so bad right now that they are “rebranding” themselves because of the ever expanding boycott movement as the zionist shmuck ethan bronner reports in the new york times:

Israel, whose founding idea was branded as racism by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and which faced an Arab boycott for decades, is no stranger to isolation. But in the weeks since its Gaza war, and as it prepares to inaugurate a hawkish right-wing government, it is facing its worst diplomatic crisis in two decades.

Examples abound. Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey. Mauritania has closed Israel’s embassy.

Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely. A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza. “Israel Apartheid Week” drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers. And even in the American Jewish community, albeit in its liberal wing, there is a chill.

and let’s actively work to make this process continue. we must mobilize…it’s the only solution if you want to stop banging your head against the wall. the zionist entity is clearly worried and spending millions of dollars because of that. so while we work on bds, insha’allah we can bankrupt them too.

the savagery on gaza continues…

yes, israeli terrorists continue their bombing of gaza:

Israeli warplanes killed four Palestinians in two separate airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Three were killed in an airstrike in the east of Al-Maghazi Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip in the second strike.

A spokesperson for the Al-Quds Brigades, Abu Ahmad, said a brigades member, Wasim Mansour, and an NRB member were killed immediately. The NRB (National Resistance Brigades) man was identified as Mahmoud Hammad, who fought under the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

A third man, also affiliated with Islamic Jihad, died later at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in the Central Gaza Strip. He was identified as Ibrahim Bamba. A fourth was said to be seriously wounded.

According to Abu Ahmad, an Israeli reconnaissance plane monitored a group of fighters advancing toward the eastern border of Gaza. The plane then launched two missiles at the group. The operation was to have been a joint effort with the NRB and Al-Quds Brigades.

and there are promises of more:

The Israeli military is preparing a “harsh attack on Gaza,” in response to homemade rockets that are continuously fired into Israel by Palestinian fighters, multiple Israeli news sources reported on Friday.

“The army is preparing to carry out a huge and harsh attack at any moment, which is required to stop firing projectiles on Israel,” said one report, quoting senior military sources.

Last Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed a “painful response” to the homemade projectiles that Israel failed to stop with its three-week war on the Gaza Strip in December and January. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the offensive.

Israel holds Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, totally responsible for the projectiles, which are fired by a variety of Palestinian armed factions.

Palestinian fighters fired three more projectiles into Israel on Thursday night in response to the killing of four fighters in the preceding 24 hours.

and in response to this there was a lovely protest against sweden’s davis cup because israeli terrorist tennis players were competing (yes, they too, like all israelis are soldiers who participate in the wanton murder and destruction) as al jazeera’s emma hayward reports:

given this context i cannot fathom how one can think about rebuilding, but we are talking about palestinians, palestinians who are steadfast and resilient. masha’allah. here is the latest episode of “focus on gaza” with imran garda of al jazeera which discusses some of the obstacles to rebuilding:

one obstacle, of course, is the united states, which is forever imagining new ways to punish palestinians. here’s the latest sadistic scheme they’ve conjured up:

A new initiative by members of the United States Congress seeks to condition the transfer of the $900 million for the Palestinians on an end to rocket fire on Israel from Gaza, and the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged the $900 million during a conference in Egypt this week to raise money for Gaza reconstruction, in the wake of Israel’s three-week offensive aimed at halting rocket fire on its southern communities.

Shalit has been held captive in Gaza since June 2006, when he was snatched from his army base in a cross-border raid from Gaza.

The proposal followed a meeting on Capitol Hill between Noam Badin, the director of the communications center in Qassam-battered Sderot and several members of Congress and their advisors.

After the meeting, Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada drafted a petition to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which demanded that the financial aid be delayed for as long as the rocket fire continues and Shalit remains in captivity.

Berkley, a Jewish politician well-known in Congress for her support of Israel, backed the Israeli operation in Gaza during December and January, and even told Haaretz that maybe Israel had been too tolerant.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood said last week that $300 million of the total sum pledged by the U.S. would go to meet “urgent” humanitarian needs in Gaza.

hip hop for gaza

gaza-hip-hop

last week when there was a strike i was not able to get to the hip hop for gaza concert in ramallah. but the following night was my dear friend ayah’s birthday. it was a sunday, and i had school that day and on monday as well, but she had asked if i would come down for her birthday, so i decided to surprise her. i left right after school last sunday and got to beit lahem around 6 pm. the hip hop gaza concert was the same night in beit lahem so we all went to the concert.

dsc09999

the concert featured a number of rappers from outside palestine and in each location it toured there were local rappers. the show opened and closed with rappers from deheishe refugee camp who were the highlight of the show. the group g-town from the refugee camp shufat in al quds was also fabulous (i hear they are giving another beit lahem concert for international women’s day in beit lahem tomorrow). you can click on the hip hop for gaza link above and download some of their music as well as the music of other rappers from jenin and al quds.

dsc00017

dsc00020

one of the rappers who performed was an iranian rapper from sweden, behrang miri, who had a fabulous song that he sang with a sample of “weyn ‘a ramallah.” the patriarch, a palestinian rapper who lives in the san francisco bay area, also performed. and there was a terrific iraqi rapper from the uk, low key. so did a somewhat hoarse shadia mansour, a palestinian rapper from the uk. she has a great new song with the rapper, narcycist, called “al hamdulilah,” which was recorded with a “gaza remix” recently, which i posted at the time from the narcycist’s blog. he has a link where you can download it.

the concert turnout was sparse, possibly because it was freezing cold. if it had been held in deheishe refugee camp instead of in a catholic church downtown i think it would have been packed in spite of the cold. but such is the racism here: if it were held in the camp no one from beit lahem would come. and because it was in beit lahem only a few people from the camp went. at one point towards the end of the show we lost electricity and it was great because everyone was unfazed. they just started freestyling and it was great.

my favorite song of the night was the one from deheishe, though. it was a song that this group of teenage rappers wrote called “tatbeee3,” which you can download from the hip hop for gaza site as well. it was a wonderful song about anti-normalization with israeli terrorists. after the concert we all went out for cake and sheesha at the citadel in the old city in beit sahour. the rappers from deheishe came, too. they were sitting at the other end of the table, though, so i did not notice when/what they ordered. when drinks came to the table, however, i was a bit shocked. one of rappers who created and sings this song that is against normalization had ordered an israeli orange juice (everyone else was drinking fresh lemonade with mint). so, of course, i asked him how someone who sings against normalization can normalize with their juice. it was really fascinating because he had not thought about it. normalizing when it comes to economic choices are so normalized that even people who are politically and philosophically against it make unconscious choices.

yet another reason why we need more education about the relationship between boycott, divestment, and sanctions and resistance… just like rap music is increasingly a form of resistance, so too is bds, but we need to do more work on this. there is so much work to be done…

get out of your chair and boycott

move over women’s history month…march has a new and improved form of educational and activist energy to it now. as march is now boycott divestment and sanctions (bds) month. read below to see how you can participate:

Join the US Campaign and our allies around the world in a month of action supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel’s military occupation. March offers many opportunities for action, including Israeli Apartheid Week (March 1-8), Rachel Corrie Remembrance Day (March 16) and Global BDS Action Day (March 30). We also urgently need to support Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine’s recent victory winning campus divestment from Israeli Apartheid.

Two weeks ago, Hampshire College announced that it was divesting from a mutual fund which has holdings in six corporations that support Israel’s military occupation. Now Hampshire’s administration is caving to pressure from Alan Dershowitz and trying to reinvest in two of these corporations – Motorola and Terex. Write to Hampshire College’s President, Ralph Hexter, and tell him to stand strong for divestment. Click here to send him an email! Click here to organize locally for our national boycott of Motorola.

Israeli Apartheid Week: March 1-8

Educate your community about the apartheid conditions in Israel/Palestine and come together to take action for justice. Learn more about our anti-apartheid framework by clicking here. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing to observe Israeli Apartheid Week by clicking here, or click here to post your own events.

Rachel Corrie Remembrance Day: March 16

Honor the life and legacy of Rachel Corrie, a young American peace activist who was killed by an Israeli soldier who ran her over with a Caterpillar bulldozer. Celebrate Rachel’s life by continuing her struggle for justice for the people of Gaza and an end to home demolitions. Click here to learn more about Rachel Corrie Day. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing to remember Rachel Corrie by clicking here, or click here to post your own event.

Global BDS Action Day: March 30

The World Social Forum has called for a Global BDS Action Day to coincide with Palestinian Land Day – the annual commemoration of the 1976 Israeli massacre of Palestinians struggling against land expropriation in the Galilee. Take action to isolate the corporations supporting the continued expropriation of Palestinian land and occupation of Palestinian people. Find out what other US Campaign groups are doing on Global BDS Action Day by clicking here, or click here to post your own event.

Action Ideas

1) Support Divestment at Hampshire College

Send an email to the Hampshire College president asking him to insist on truly socially responsible investment, including divesting from Motorola and Terex, two corporations which directly profit from human rights abuses and violations of international law.

2) Become a local Hang Up On Motorola Organizer

Help grow the BDS movement by joining over 200 groups and individuals around the country in boycotting Motorola until it stops supporting Israel’s military occupation. Click here to sign our pledge not to buy Motorola products until Moto respects Palestinian human rights. Learn more about the Hang Up On Motorola boycott by clicking here or click here to order your own organizing kit. You can also join our Motorola Facebook group by clicking here.

3) Start a Divestment Campaign

Show corporations that profiting from human rights abuses and apartheid are never acceptable. Learn more about divesting from Caterpillar and other corporations supporting Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. Click here for general divestment information.

4) Support Coordinated Shareholder Meeting Action

March Is Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Make a tax-deductible donation to support our activities around the Motorola and Caterpillar shareholder meetings. We have an inside-outside strategy for both shareholder meetings that will include advertising, media outreach, and introducing shareholder resolutions focusing on human rights. Make these plans reality – click here to support the US Campaign’s BDS campaigns.

of course an important component of boycotting is buycotting, which is why i have a section of links in the sidebar of ways to get around products from or supporting the zionist entity. and it seems that in the united kingdom buycotting palestinian olive oil is taking off:

In an unintended consequence of Israel’s offensive in Gaza last month, sales of Palestinian olive oil in Britain are soaring, importers have said.

The devastating conflict, in which 1,300 Palestinians were killed, has prompted a surge in demand for the product in apparent sympathy for the Palestinians. Equal Exchange, a seller of Fairtrade products, reported a threefold increase in sales of olive oil from the West Bank in January compared with a year ago.

“We have run out of one-litre bottles and we expect sales to double to 400 tonnes this year compared to 2008,” said Barry Murdoch, the sales director of Equal Exchange.

The company Zaytoun, also established to sell Palestinian olive oil in the UK, reported a fourfold rise in sales last month instead of the usual post-Christmas lull. Zaytoun, established by two Britons, Heather Masoud and Cathi Pawson, takes its name from the Arabic word for olive.

and the sports boycott is still trying to rear its head, but unfortunately, there are still too many inconsistencies. nevertheless, at least there are some repercussions from protesting and pressure:

The Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel will go ahead as planned — without spectators in the southern city of Malmo — after an attempt to move the venue to Stockholm fell through.

Swedish organizers on Tuesday cited security concerns for the closed-door policy because anti-Israeli demonstrations are expected during the best-of-five series on March 6-8. But the volley of words between the two Swedish cities, which comes after the United Arab Emirates stopped an Israeli player from a tennis tournament in Dubai, has an unmistakable political dimension.

however, it seems that dubai has lost its nerve with respect to a consistent policy in line with boycott:

Only vigilant spectators would have spotted the armed guards, the absence of any Arabs among the line judges and the fact that the umpire was barred from mentioning the nationality of the surprisingly unflustered player in the dark Fila tennis shirt, Andy Ram.

It was 28-year-old Ram’s nationality that made this match far from ordinary. His appearance in Dubai, the first ever by an Israeli, would have been unthinkable just a week ago when his compatriot Shahar Peer was barred from entering the United Arab Emirates in a decision that provoked an international storm of outrage.

The tight security was part of an apparent attempt by the organisers to justify their earlier, much-criticised decision – for which they were fined a record $300,000 by the Women’s Tennis Association. The UAE authorities had claimed Peer was denied a visa for fear of antagonising fans following the recent attacks in Gaza.

the palestinian futball association, in keeping with palestinian civil society, is asking for the sports boycott to take hold:

In a statement today Jibril Rajoub, the head of Palestinian Football Association, has stated that the international community should boycott Israeli athletes, as long as Israel does not allow the Palestinian sports movement to function normally. He noted that Israeli authorities have hindered travels of Palestinian athletes to take part in functions.

“There is a need for the international community to review its policies towards Israel. No Israeli sportsperson should be hosted if Israel does not agree to free Palestinian sport from suppression and injustice,” said Rajoub.

on the academic front we have a new american college seeking to divest from the zionist entity, haverford college. here is their statement, created by haverford alumni:

We, the undersigned alumni and associates of Haverford College, deplore the ongoing atrocities and injustices committed by the State of Israel against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. Acknowledging that Haverford’s divestment from South Africa had a positive impact on ending apartheid, we demand that Haverford College divest fully from any entity that contributes to or supports the apartheid in Israel/Palestine. Divestment targets include:

* U.S. companies doing business in Israel;
* companies that manufacture or sell military equipment used by Israel;
* Israeli companies;
* any other holdings that financially support or sustain Israeli state sponsored apartheid.

In solidarity with those living under an unjust occupation, we pledge to continue this campaign until Haverford acts in accord with its Quaker tradition and invests in peace.

meanwhile in canada students continue to face stiff penalties for their anti-israel apartheid week activities (read below to see what you can do to help):

Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University (SAIA York) received notice of a 30-day suspension, a $1000 fine and an individual fine of $250 for the student signatory for the group. In explaining these measures, York University administration cites a demonstration organized in solidarity with students in Gaza, stating that “your club actively participated in a rally in Vari Hall on February 12, using various sound amplification devices and other noise making instruments.”

The University alleges that ‘sound amplification’ disrupted classes but fails to note that SAIA York quickly moved the rally away from Vari Hall in order to deliver a letter to the University administration. It should also be noted that the maximum monetary penalty has been imposed by the administration without following the verification process outlined in the university’s “Student Code of Conduct”. In doing so, the administration has violated its own procedures. Furthermore, the university has repeatedly failed to respond numerous complaints filed by SAIA members and their community allies over racist and sexist commentary directed at them by members of pro-Israel advocacy organizations present on that day

These discriminatory and punitive measures come a week prior to the scheduled launch of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) at York University on March 3-8 (www.apartheidweek.org). Pro-Israel organizations have applied immense, coordinated and nation-wide pressure to shut down IAW, including placing full-page advertisements in national newspapers calling on universities to prevent IAW from occurring. The repressive activities of the York administration must be clearly seen in this light.

It is shocking to see university administrations respond to these racist calls to stifle free speech and student organizing around Israeli Apartheid. At Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, university administrations have banned the IAW poster. At the University of Toronto, University President David Naylor has recently been exposed through a Freedom of Information Request to have personally been involved in shutting down a Palestine solidarity event on campus. [see the articles listed below for further detail on this repression].

The attempt by the pro Israel organizations to prevent IAW from occurring is full confirmation that the debate against Israeli Apartheid has been won. In the wake of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, student and public opinion is clearly on the side of justice. Israel is now understood as an apartheid state and the only response of pro-Israel organizations is to harass and repress student organizing. They will fail.

** Please email and phone the following individuals in protest against these repressive measures.

Robert J. Tiffin (Vice President Students)
rjtiffin [at] yorku.ca
+1 416 736 5955

Mamdouh Shoukri (University President)
mshoukri [at] yorku.ca
+1 416 736 5200

** Further Links:

1) Carleton Students Against Israeli Apartheid
http://carleton.saia.ca

2) Exposed: University of Toronto suppresses pro-Palestinian activism
By Lisa Schofield, February 18, 2009
http://www.rabble.ca/news/exposed-university-toronto-suppressed-pro-palestinian-activism

3) Academic Freedom Threatened in Ontario Universities
By Margaret Aziza Pappano
http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/bullet187.html

4) Israeli Apartheid Week Schedule
http://www.apartheidweek.org

Sample letter to send to York University administration (mshoukri [at] yorku.ca, rjtiffin [at] yorku.ca):

President Mamdouh Shoukri,
Vice President Robert Tiffin,

I was shocked and appalled to learn that the student group, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) was penalized for holding a demonstration on campus in solidarity with the students in Gaza. One would expect that an academic institution like York University would condemn the destruction of Palestinian academic institutions by the Israeli army. Instead, York University is banning protest, and penalizing students for demonstrating against such crimes.

It is a shame that an institution which is built on the principle of freedom of expression, and that the senior administration which is entrusted with upholding freedom of speech, are restricting speech and penalizing students engaged in legitimate protest. This reflects badly on York University’s reputation.

It seems that York University is bowing under the pressure by external pro-Israel advocacy groups who are working hard to silence any voice that supports the Palestinian cause. It is sad to see that the administration is not providing protection to the students expressing their views and feelings against Israel’s crimes.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your problematic position and cancel the fines. I also strongly urge you to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom, and to allow students to express themselves freely without the influence of external pro-Israel lobbying groups. This is your duty even if you do not agree with views expressed.

Sincerely yours,

[——-]

meanwhile on the other side of the atlantic, another university is occupied for divestment & boycott!:

Our demands are as follows:

1. That the University of Plymouth issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza strip. The University should officially denounce the attacks on civilians, the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the targeting of academic institutions, hospitals, places of worship and international peace keeping facilities.

2. That the University of Plymouth cease to invest directly or indirectly in companies complicit in human rights abuses in the Gaza strip and internationally.

3. That no Israeli goods or goods produced by companies that have directly funded the State of Israel be sold on campus.

4. That the University of Plymouth provide complete financial scholarships for six students from Gaza University which has been bombed by the Israeli military.

5. That any surplus educational resources available to the University of Plymouth are provided to Gaza University and that the shipping of these resources be fully paid for by the University of Plymouth.

6. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation. All those involved will be guaranteed free movement in and out of the occupied space, with open access to electricity and internet.

We await your response to organise a formal meeting between delegates of our occupation and with university management to negotiate these demands.

To keep up with things as they progress, check out our blog at: http://plymouthunioccupation.blogspot.com/

For more information, email plymouthunioccupation [at] gmail.com

stephen lendman has an article out that details at length why the terrorist state of israel should be boycotted. it begins as follows (click link to read the rest):

Enough is enough. After 61 years of Palestinian slaughter, displacement, occupation, oppression, and international dismissiveness and complicity, global action is essential. Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won’t do it, so grassroots movements must lead the way.

In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: “The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure – in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”

In July 2008, 21 South African activists, including ANC members, visited Israel and Occupied Palestine. Their conclusion was unanimous. Israel is far worse than apartheid as former Deputy Minister of Health and current MP Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge explained:

“What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.”

Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, went further: “When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. It is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.”

enough choices/reasons to get up off your asses and do something?

the congo, palestine, and colonialisms

about a month ago i learned about a new blog called stealth conflicts. on it a blogger named virgil hawkins covers the uncoverable–the news stories about conflicts that the media only rarely produce stories about. what first caught my eye was a note someone posted in facebook with the following entry from this blog:

Forget the series of Christmas massacres by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in eastern DRC that left more than 400 dead (including more than 45 killed in a church) and the coalition of countries in the region trying to hunt them down. Forget the deadly clashes with Congolese rebels poised to take over the city of Goma. Forget Somalia, where the Ethiopian forces that invaded (with US assistance) two years ago are being forced by local resistance forces to pack and leave. Forget all of these conflicts, because violence has broken out again in Israel-Palestine.

The latest conflagration of violence in Israel-Palestine continues to dominate international news around the world. The details of who is attacking who with what, how many people have died (down to single digit figures), and how many of them were women and children, together with in-depth political analysis and a touch of humanitarian concern are all fed through the newspapers, television, radio and internet news outlets on a daily basis. And all with the utmost care to avoid displeasing lobby groups that will rain down thousands of e-mails, telephone calls and letters (flak) upon the unfortunate media corporation suspected of even the slightest bias (and possibly revoke their advertising contracts).

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a ‘chosen’ conflict. It always is. It has the rare privilege of being the focus of saturated attention every time there is a conflagration (despite the fact that the conflict is not occurring in a ‘white’ Western country, and despite the fact that the USA is not a direct belligerent in the conflict – always sure factors for a conflict to attract soaring levels of attention). Explaining why this is so would take a book or two, but let’s just scratch the surface here. Politicians in much of the Western world obsess about the issue, largely because a significant amount of their election campaign contributions seem to depend on their favourable attention in many cases. Politicians in much of the Muslim world do likewise, because standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of Israel is much more popular than standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of anyone else. The fact that the conflict region is considered the ‘Holy Land’ by Muslims, Jews and Christians helps cement this process.

For media corporations, providing saturation coverage of the conflict is nothing short of automatic. What is considered important by media corporations is based largely on what the policymakers at home consider to be important, almost by default. Keeping reporters close to those making foreign policy at home is much cheaper than sending them all over the world to independently gather news. In the competitive media business, budgets are better spent on packaging and presenting news than actually gathering it. Furthermore, for media corporations that have little newsgathering capacity (and oddly, even for those that do), the news value of a story is often determined by what leading media corporations (like the New York Times) think it should be. In this environment of follow-the-leader (policymakers and leading media corporations) and pack journalism, having a reporter in Africa is optional, having one in Israel-Palestine is not. Once the reporter is stationed there, ‘fresh’ coverage of the issue on demand is cheap and easy (far more so than actually sending someone to far-away and logistically challenging Africa to cover something after it happens).

Because of the combination of follow-the-leader, pack journalism, and lack of newsgathering capacity, this state of affairs can be seen spreading to the rest of the world as well. Japan has no cultural or religious affinity with Israel-Palestine, and its politicians are not reliant on campaign contributions from pro-Israeli lobby groups, yet its media corporations follow the Western leaders in devoting heavy coverage to the issue. Even locally-focused news programs that rarely have any time for foreign affairs issues make sure to include news of the latest conflagration in their bulletins. With little budget for foreign newsgathering, Zambia’s leading newspaper (the Post) buys its world news from foreign news agencies. The result is that it gives more coverage to the situation in Israel-Palestine than it does to the eight countries on Zambia’s border combined. In the year 2004, for example, it devoted 9 percent of its foreign coverage to Israel-Palestine, but only 4 percent to all of Zambia’s eight neighbours.

On top of this, things have always been this way, so they tend to stay that way. Israel-Palestine has always been considered important, and ‘important’ people think it is, so it must be important. Groups (interest/lobby) and individuals with a special interest in the conflict in Israel-Palestine are also well-positioned to continue the process of drawing copious amounts of attention to the conflict, in political spheres and in the ownership of prominent media corporations. Africa, on the other hand, has not been considered important (for a variety of separate reasons that will be dealt with in another post), and therefore no one knows about it, and therefore it is not important. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The public, who remain largely at the mercy of the media corporations in obtaining morsels of information about the outside world, seem to end up with the same distorted view of the world. In a simple classroom survey conducted of 37 Australian university students (studying in a course on war and peace no less) in 2003, the conflict in Israel-Palestine was the most common answer (9 respondents) to the question of which conflict in the world they thought had been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War. Only one of the 37 could even name the conflict in the DRC as one of the world’s deadliest conflicts, and that was at third place behind Israel-Palestine and Afghanistan. In a similar survey conducted of 151 university students in Japan in 2008, not a single one could name the DRC as the world’s deadliest conflict. Fourteen students, on the other hand, thought that the conflict in Israel-Palestine was world’s deadliest, coming in at third place behind Iraq and Kosovo.

This is despite the fact that the virtually unknown conflict in the DRC is 1,000 times deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. And I don’t mean that figuratively, it is literally 1,000 times deadlier – the death toll from conflict in the DRC since 1998 is roughly 6 million, while the death toll from conflict in Israel-Palestine since 2000 is roughly 6 thousand. At least 38 conflicts since the end of the Cold War have been deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. Put simply, while these surveys are limited in their scope, they suggest that collectively, the general public has no idea about the state of conflict in the world. Their perspective on which conflicts are the largest and deadliest is so skewed that the reality is unrecognizable. But who can blame them, considering the horribly unbalanced diet of media they feed on. I invite you to try out simple surveys like this (“Which conflict in the world do you think has been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War?”) with those around you.

In some ways, I almost regret writing this post, because I am becoming part of the very bandwagon that I am discussing – by writing about why the issue is important, I am inadvertently boosting the attention it receives… But some discussion of the issue of ‘chosen’ conflicts is also necessary in order for the discussion of ‘stealth’ conflicts to make sense.

i quote his blog entry in full, which i think i have quoted from before, because it raises some really important points that bear repeating. i do not write about the conflict in the drc as often as i would like to, though i do follow the news from the congo as best i can. it is not that i think the conflict doesn’t need more people writing about it, it is just that living in palestine means that you are constantly confronted with israeli terrorism every day and this affects, if not me, certainly my students, friends, people i care about. it is hard sometimes to think of the way hawkins talks about the coverage of palestine in the world media because most of it is a distorted, warped view of reality. but i also think it should not be about covering one story and not the other; i think both should be covered vigorously. and there are many parallels to both, particularly western interests in maintaining colonial or neocolonial powers over these two countries. here is a video that hawkins made raising some of these same questions about why we know so little about the conflict in the drc.

kambale musavuli of friends of the congo wrote an article in the san francisco bay view news this week about the neocolonial interests in the congo in ways that should wake up americans and europeans alike in ways akin to palestine. with both conflicts we are fueling the bloodshed through state and corporate neocolonial policies, though as hawkins shows in his film and article this is way off the radar screen. too, a friend of mine who is a photojournalist and who goes to the congo regularly, and who has also covered palestine, once told me a story about congolese people asking about palestine. after he told them about it they all thought that it sounded like their situation; the people told him that this is just like what rwanda is doing to the congo. here is musavuli’s assessment:

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London’s staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda’s support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda’s aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo’s wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda’s role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.

The report “found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces” to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo’s exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of their aggression against the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda’s CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo’s resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground – land appropriation, theft of cattle and other assets – to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen’s “Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?” in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila’s government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, “Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product.”

He adds, “The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away.” Continuing his argument, he believes that “the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania.”

Cohen’s first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda’s looting of Congo’s natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain’s implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which in turn they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni’s son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, who have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers’ support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda’s recent so-called “house arrest” of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo’s importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.

Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo.

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo’s wealth and devastation of its peoples.

i have been thinking about the congo this week quite a bit, partially because i am teaching joseph conrad’s the heart of darkness in my postcolonial literature class. of course, i am teaching it in historical context of colonialism in the congo, but also in relation to current events there. and we will return to the congo when i end the semester with raoul peck’s biopic film lumumba. it is striking to reread this novel after decades–i think i first read this in junior high school and i don’t recall having read it since. the character kurtz is described by marlowe in a way that i think is especially significant given the tight focus of the story on two men. he is described by marlowe as:

The original Kurtz had been educated partly in England, and–as he was good enough to say himself–his sympathies were in the right place. His mother was half-English, his father was half-French. All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by-and-by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. (124)

the point here that i think is interesting is that he was made by all of europe. this is not because his parents came from different countries. this is because the savagery with which he loots and rapes the land and the people of the congo came from his upbringing in europe. his sense of his superiority. his racism. his capitalist drive. these are the forces that feed colonialism and imperialism and they come from europe. the quest for power, fed by greed and racism is what fuels every colonial project whether in the congo or in palestine. and these colonial ideologies about conquering the americas, australia, africa, asia also fed into zionist ideology. abayomi azikiwe wrote an essay recently entitled “pan-africanism and palestine solidarity – a history of anti-imperialist struggle” in which he lays out some of these parallels:

Throughout the negotiations involving the Zionist proposals for white penetration into Africa and Asia, Theodore Herzl, in the manner of 19th century imperialist thinkers, spoke of imperialism and colonialisation as a ‘noble activity destined to bring civilization to the “backward races”.’ Viewing the Jewish state with occidental white binoculars, he asserted that this state is designed to ‘form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.’

African territories were strongly considered as a ‘homeland’ for the Zionist state. This contradicts the proclaimed scriptural basis for the colonisation of Palestine. Zayid states that ‘in their search for a location for the Zionist enclave, to be created, a variety of options were explored including Uganda (east Africa), Tripolitania in Libya (north Africa), Cyprus (Mediterranean), Madagascar (off the southeast African coast), Congo (in central Africa) and Palestine.’

Joseph Chamberlain, the British racist theoretician told Herzl that ‘I have seen a land for you on my recent travels, and that is Uganda. It is not on the coast but the climate of the interior is excellent for Europeans. Though Herzl strongly favored Uganda as the location for the Jewish state, the committee, appointed by the World Zionist Congress to explore the area, found it unsuitable.’

the quote taken above is from a much longer article, which i highly recommend. it shows how various anti-colonial liberation movements came to support palestinian liberation not only because they were fighting the same struggle, but also because the zionist colonists in palestine helped to fund colonialism in countries like south africa. it also details a similar trajectory for african americans coming to support palestinian liberation. while, of course, i welcome this, and want to see more of this, i also think that it cannot and should not be unidirectional.

look at these two stories from relief web yesterday, for instance, that reported on new refugees from the congo and from gaza:

The number of Congolese refugees who have sought safety in South Sudan since attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) last year has now surpassed the 15,000 mark.

UNHCR staff late last week accompanied local South Sudanese authorities to Lasu, a sparsely populated village in Central Equatoria State where they found the population of Congolese refugees had swelled from 2,000 to approximately 6,000. Most of them fled from the DRC town of Aba, which has been attacked several times since January, the latest last week. Lasu is 45 km from the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

At least 100,000 people, including up to 56,000 children, remain displaced with many continuing to take shelter in tents or crowding into remaining homes with other families, one month since the Gaza ceasefire was declared.

and, of course, there are conflicts that are in the news daily, but perhaps because of compassion fatigue they seem not to matter to people any more. obama says that he’s sending 17,000 new troops to afghanistan. he says this on the same day that new casualty figures for afghans is released:

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s escalating conflict have increased by 39 per cent over the last year, hitting their worst-ever level, according to a United Nations report.

A total of 2,118 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2008, the deadliest year since US-ousted the Taliban in 2001, the world body said in a report released on Tuesday.

meanwhile, israeli terrorists continue to bomb and shoot at palestinians in gaza:

A woman is dead and another person injured after Israeli warplanes launched several strikes on the border area between Egypt and Gaza Wednesday morning.

Warplanes launched missiles at underground smuggling tunnels, in addition to a security compound of the de facto government in Khan Younis, a city in the south of Gaza. A mosque was also destroyed in Khan Younis

The woman, 70-year-old Huda Abu Tahla, suffered a heart attack when missiles struck near her home, according to the executive director of the Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Muhammad Subih.

Missile strikes destroyed seven smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Route, the zone along the Egypt-Gaza border. Israeli sources said the strikes were a response to recent projectile attacks launched by into southern Israel from Gaza.

Separately, Palestinian medical sources said a Palestinian farmer was moderately injured by Israeli fire in Al-Farahin area, east of Khan Younis near the border with Israel.

and here in the west bank palestinians continue to be kidnapped every day, in increasingly high numbers while israeli terrorists keep teasing us with talk of prisoner release (clearly they want to boost the numbers inside before any such release might happen):

In a third consecutive day of mass arrests Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank town of Jayyus near Qalqiliya early morning Wednesday and seized 65 Palestinian youth in an ongoing military operation.

Israeli soldiers declared the town a “Closed Military Area” and barred journalists from entering. A curfew has been imposed, trapping residents in their homes.

Soldiers told the families of those detained that they were “wanted” by Israeli intelligence….

According to Israeli sources the village was raided in a sweep for illegal weapons. An army spokesperson told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, that forces were operating in the town following a rise in the number of incidents involving the throwing of stones at Israeli vehicles.

Eight of those taken were identified as:

Sakhr Shamasnah,
Jabir Shamasnah,
Kamal Shamasnah,
Adli Shamasnah,
Anwar Aarif,
Mahir Aarif,
Muhammad Bilal and
Hamadah Nimir

The residents of Jayyus organize a weekly demonstration against the construction of the separation wall on village land. Foreign activists frequently attend the events and Israeli soldiers regularly invade the town and harass its residents following the departure of the activists.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Wednesday morning apprehended two Palestinian university students from the northern West Bank town of Far’un, south of Tulkarem.

Soldiers stormed the town at dawn, ransacking a residential building and seizing two students at the Palestine Technical University.

Two of the students detained were identified as 22-year-old Sami Al-Jaroushi, affiliated with Fatah, and 20-year-old Fawzi Qarqur, apparently a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

and because israeli terrorists didn’t have enough blood on their hands for today, they decided to invade lebanon, too:

Witnesses heard the sound of four consecutive explosions accompanied by gunfire and overflights by helicopter gunships over the Arqoub region in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms.

The state-run National News Agency said an Israeli force had earlier in the day crossed the barbed wire at the southwestern edge of the border town of Ghajar.

The 19-member Israeli force conducted a two-hour search of the area, NNA said.

ah, yes, colonialism is alive and well here in palestine. in the congo. in afghanistan. in iraq. and so many other places around the world. but what i want to know is when can we connect these liberation struggles and fight for the as one? the corporations and states fueling these colonial projects overlap. so should our political solidarity.

ketir bds news!

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

Dear Supporters,

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

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

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

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

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

Contact:

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

President’s Office: 413-559-5521

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.hsjp.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20090218-batsheva-protest-mn-clrpreview

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

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

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

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

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

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

We, the occupying students have secured the following…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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