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Israel’s (24-7) War on Palestine Rights Movement Advances Anti-boycott Legislation, Torpedoes Events

By Alison Weir. July 14, 2017

An Israeli newspaper reports that a special office in Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs is advancing anti-boycott, pro-Israel legislation around the world.

Israel’s Ynet News reports: “The State of Israel is waging one of its most important and difficult battles: The war on delegitimization and on the boycott movement.”

The Ministry has mapped 150 entities and has implemented what it calls a “combat doctrine” against them.

According to Ynet, the ministry has created a $70 million unit that works “24-7” to monitor and counter activism in support of Palestinian rights.

The unit, named “The Battle,” has worked to advance legislation, torpedo events, block bank accounts, thwart funding, and organize counter protests. It has also placed agents in Israeli embassies around the world.

The Ministry’s Director-General Sima Vaknin-Gil says that in order to win, Israel must “must use tricks and craftiness.”

According to Ynet, the office monitors “all protests, conferences, publications calling for an anti-Israel boycott and international bodies’ boycott initiatives. It then transfers the information to the relevant people to provide a proper response to these activities, whether through a counter-protest or through moves to thwart the initiative behind the scenes.”

Israel’s justice department has agreed to exclude the unit from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information, states:

“Since the ministry began leading the war on the boycott movement, boycott organizations have been under constant pressure.

“Legislation is being advanced in Israel and in the world, the organizations are under financial pressure which includes closing bank accounts and thwarting donations, and the hypocrisy of bodies disguised as ‘human rights organizations’ is being exposed.

My policy of moving from the defense to the offense has proved itself, but there’s a lot more to be done.”

Numerous anti-boycott, pro-Israel bills are making their way through U.S. governmental bodies.

The U.S. Congress passed anti-boycott legislation in 2015, at least 22 state legislatures throughout the country have enacted anti-boycott bills, and anti-boycott legislation in other states is in process.

In addition, legislation calling criticism of Israel “anti-Semitic” is being advanced at both the federal and state levels, and similar regulations are being adopted on college campuses. Related laws and resolutions are also being promoted internationally.

Israel’s 24-7 ‘War’ on Palestine Rights Movement Advances Anti-boycott Legislation, Torpedoes Events

The 29th floor of Tel Aviv’s Champion Tower is the nerve center of a 24-7 ‘war’ against Palestinian rights supporters around the world. Israeli agents working behind the scenes advance legislation, torpedo events, organize counter-protests, close bank accounts.

The Director says: ‘In order to win we must use tricks and craftiness.’


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

Israeli efforts to influence events in the U.S. are not new. In 1994 a former Mossad agent described on C-Span how the Mossad used pro-Israel organizations to plant claims that individuals critical of Israel are “antisemitic.”

In 1963 Senator William Fulbright discovered that Israel had given more than $5 million ($40 million in today’s dollars ) to organizations and individuals in the U.S. to influence public opinion in favor of Israel.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

UN: Israel Killed 15 Journalists in Summer 2014, “Purposefully” Targeting Many

This article is published in Mondoweiss.

The story of the 7 January 2015 storming of the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French publication with a history of racist, anti-Muslim caricatures, has inundated the Western media.

The attack, tragically leaving at least 12 dead, has been touted as a “free speech” issue by the first government in the world to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

(This framing has distorted the fact that it was torture at Abu Ghraib and the US war on Iraq that left 100,000s of civilians dead, not cartoons, that radicalized the impoverished shooters, sons of émigrés from Algeria, a country that was a French colony until the end of a bloody war of independence in 1962.)

The subsequent taking of hostages in a Parisian kosher supermarket by an acquaintance of the shooters was an even more despicable act, leading to the deaths of at least four. Both incidents are horrific tragedies, and deserve harsh condemnation.

Yet they have exponentially overshadowed equally tragic recent attacks on journalists.

In its November 2012 attack on Gaza, “Operation Pillar of Defense,” the Israeli government admitted that it was targeting journalists. This trend was revisited only months ago in Israel’s summer 2014 assault, “Operation Protective Edge,” an incursion that left 2,310 dead—over 1,500 of whom were civilians, including at least 500 children—and 10,626 wounded.

While the Western media has scrupulously tracked the Charlie Hebdo attack and subsequent hostage crisis for the scantest of updates, and while the calamity dominates discussions on social media—and also while the Fourth Estate ceaselessly speaks of ISIS’ heinous killings of Western journalists—both the press and popular culture continue to ignore August 2014 UN documents that inculpate Israel for engaging in very similar acts of terror.

The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a Geneva-based independent non-governmental organization aimed “at strengthening the legal protection and safety of journalists in zones of conflict and civil unrest or in dangerous missions,” carries special consultative UN status, conducting investigations on behalf of the body.

In its 28 August report, “90 journalists killed so far in 2014: a new step is required by the UN in order to combat impunity,” it notes that:

Israel and the Occupied Territory of the State of Palestine:

in the context of the operation “Protective Edge” launched by the Israeli forces on 8 July 2014 on the Gaza Strip, 15 journalists have been killed (some of them being purposely targeted), many others have been injured because of the shelling of their homes, 16 Palestinian journalists have lost their homes as a result of Israeli bombing and shelling, 8 media outlets have been destroyed, in addition the Israeli army deliberately disturbed the broadcasting of 7 radio and TV stations and websites (l), many journalists have been arrested by the Israeli forces.

Al-Aqsa radio, Sawt Al-Quds radio, Sawat Al-Sha’eb, Filistin Il-Yom TV and website, Al-Ra’ei website

In a more detailed document from the day before, “15 journalists and media workers killed during operation “Protective Edge”: the responsible have to be held accountable,” the PEC and the UN indicate that the houses of 16 journalists that were destroyed in Israeli attacks were “often purposely targeted.”

They also reveal that, of the eight Gaza media outlets Israel destroyed, five were deliberately bombed. Israeli forces shelled three headquarters of Al-Aqsa TV, where 325 employees worked, and “deliberately disturbed the broadcasting of 7 radio and TV stations and websites, and used these stations to broadcast inciting messages against the Palestinian resistance, as they did in their previous attacks on the Gaza Strip.”

Deliberate Attacks

The PEC states that the “Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists are the most dangerous, life threatening, and the most frequent” and asserts that it “denounces the harassment against journalists and media workers as well as the smear campaign of the Israeli diplomacy against foreign journalists falsely accused to work for Hamas that leads to a sneaky form of self-censorship.”

Most of the murdered journalists were in their twenties, with ages ranging from 21 to 59. All except for one, an Italian, were Palestinian.

The majority worked for local Palestinian media networks, although two Associated Press reporters were killed, including the only foreign reporter killed.

Some were wearing vests clearly marked “Press”; others were in media vehicles with “TV” plainly printed on the hood. In one case, a 21-year-old Palestinian photojournalist was taking pictures in the Al-Jineene neighborhood in Rafah when an Israeli drone shot him.

“The large number of targets and the way in which media organizations and journalists have been attacked by” Israeli forces, the UN statement reads, “suggest that a strategy has been finalized at the highest levels of the State of Israel. Targeting non-combatants is itself a war crime that, as such, must not enjoy impunity.”

The PEC concludes calling upon the UN to investigate “the violation of the fundamental freedoms and rights of journalists and media workers, with a particular attention on the violation of the rights of women journalists” and the UN Human Rights Council’s independent, international commission of inquiry “to investigate and identify those responsible for the crimes committed against media outlet, journalists and media workers.”

“Constant Pressures” on Journalists

In a footnote to this statement, the PEC draws attention to a French-language Algerian Huffington Post article that went completely ignored by the Western media (all translations mine): “TVE [Spanish Television] Journalist Yolanda Alvarez Attacked by Israel, Spanish Journalists Protest.”

The story notes that the “Spanish press is unanimous in supporting Yolanda Alvarez, TVE correspondent in Jerusalem, victim of virulent attacks by the Israeli embassy in Madrid.” It also stated that Alvarez’ Twitter page was “full of tweets of support coming from journalists or associations of journalists that spoke of the intimidation and the threats from the Israeli embassy.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that, according “to the testimonies of other journalists and media, the Israeli embassy in Israel maintains an attitude of permanent intimidation of Spanish journalists.” RSF denounced the “constant pressures” Israel put on journalists, and asked that Israel stop using “its diplomats as agents of pressure and propaganda.”

US media networks also pressured their own journalists not to present Israel’s attack in a negative light.

NBC went so far as to pull Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza, a veteran reporter who garnered international praise as one of the only two foreign journalists who had been in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, in which Israel barred journalists from entering Gaza as it, in the words of Human Rights Watch, “repeatedly exploded white phosphorus munitions in the air over populated areas, killing and injuring civilians, and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital.”

Institute for Policy Studies analyst Phyllis Bennis pointed out the irony that, as Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza, NBC “pulled the reporter who has done more than any other to show the human costs of the conflict there.” Because of popular pressure, Mohyeldin was eventually reinstated, yet there were numerous other incidents of the same forms of censorship and pressure occurring.

The Second-Worst Year for Journalists

In its 2014 census on jailed journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) revealed that 2014 was the second-worst year for jailed journalists since it began the annual census in 1990. Internationally, over 220 journalists are imprisoned, 60% of whom are held on anti-state charges of terrorism or subversion.

This comes in a close second to 2012, in which 232 journalists were imprisoned—although the 2014 figure may actually be higher, as the report excludes journalists being detained by nonstate actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney warned the “targeting of journalists has been increasing to alarming proportions,” indicating that journalists “are now losing the protected observer status that they had, and now they’ve become the story rather than being the witness to the story to some groups.”

Only some of the stories about these persecuted journalists are told, nonetheless. Much of the Western media is speaking of the Charlie Hebdo shooting as a “Free Speech” issue, yet ignores Israel’s persistent .

Explicit violent repression of journalists is not new behavior for Israel. In 2008, Israeli forces killed 23-year-old cameraman Fadel Subhi Shana’a. In the same year, Israel arrested award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer and brutally tortured him—a common practice. In 2004, Israeli occupation forces killed 22-year-old journalist Mohammed Abu Halima.

There are countless more of such stories, of such tragedies. Yet these tragic stories are not told in the Western media. The countless nameless faces of the now forgotten journalists are only nameless and forgotten because they were ignored.

UPDATE, 27 January 2015:

Journalist Dan Cohen tweeted a picture of a poster in Gaza commemorating the journalists killed in Gaza in Israel’s Operation “Protective Edge.” (Some sources have reported that 17 journalists were killed, yet the UN report left it at 15, so I used that figure in this piece.)

It’s a privilege to report through Mondoweiss’: risks of working as a foreign-based journalist in Palestine

FeaturesIsrael/Palestine Israel Fear The Truth: We Report It

Foreign journalists and reporters who have an Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) card have to comply with Israeli government gag orders, and have to submit their work for review and/or censorship before publishing

Tova Perlmutter on July 1, 2017

MEET “ALAA,” A JOURNALIST who has covered events in Israel/Palestine for Mondoweiss.

Alaa is of Palestinian descent, but she is an American citizen and, as she puts it, doesn’t “look Arab.”

This gives her a particular perspective on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian journalists. Alaa agreed to answer my questions about her experiences reporting in Israel/Palestine but requested that we not use her real name. This could put me in a very difficult situation as far as visas go.

I am here precariously, and anyone working in the country answering questions along these lines risks being kicked out for good.

One entire side of my family lives in the West Bank so risking my access to the country by using my real name with this interview is more than I am willing to do.

While other stories in our series “They Fear The Truth: We Report It” have described direct violence against journalists, Alaa provided more information about Israel’s efforts to control reporting using legal requirements, surveillance, censorship and restricted access.

Every example of clampdown on journalists is further evidence that the work Mondoweiss presents daily, from hundreds of brave reporters and photographers, makes a real difference. As a reader-supported nonprofit, we are able to pay Alaa and other dedicated, talented reporters only because of contributions from people like you.

Mondoweiss: What challenges have you faced as a foreign-based reporter in entering or residing in the Palestinian territories?

Alaa: Israel’s approval of visas for those working in the West Bank is complicated and inconsistent. Every time I leave the country I fear that I will not be allowed back in, even if I have a visa that has a long expiry date. Once I flew in with nine months left on my work visa, and at the airport my work visa was canceled and I was given a three-month tourist visa. Other times the work visa has been honored. I never know if my visa will be revoked, making me scared to leave the country. I am also held for hours and questioned every time I enter or leave.

Mondoweiss: Can you describe legal controls the government exerts on your reporting once you’re in Israel/Palestine? An Israeli soldier restrains a journalist during a demonstration demanding free movement of journalists and Palestinians at the Qalandia checkpoint July 17, 2013.

Alaa: Israel requires journalists to register and obtain a Government Press Office (GPO) card. I have not been able to obtain a GPO card, so I am unable to report within Israel. This limits my work, of course, since so many stories have elements on both sides of the Green Line.

On the other hand, journalists who have a GPO card have to comply with Israeli government gag orders, and sometimes they have to submit their work for review and/or censorship before publishing. That’s written explicitly in the GPO requirements, and is true even if you report for the New York Times or other mainstream outlets.

Mondoweiss: So the lack of a GPO prevents you from reporting within Israel. Do you have greater journalistic freedom when you’re in the West Bank?

Alaa: Officially, a GPO card is not required in the West Bank. Many times, though, while covering stories in the West Bank, I’ve been denied access or detained by Israeli soldiers demanding I show a GPO card. In one case when I pointed out the law doesn’t require a press card in the West Bank, the soldier holding me said this was a closed military zone and so it was now required.

I asked when it had been declared a closed military zone and he said he had declared it himself right now as he was speaking to me. He then threatened to check all the other journalists’ credentials and make anyone without a GPO card leave. I knew the others did not have GPO cards—most were Palestinian citizens and at much greater risk than I. So I kept silent, and he released me on condition that I leave the area.

Not only was I prevented from covering the news, but everyone present saw that an ordinary soldier took upon himself the authority of “declaring a closed zone”—and was ready to impose collective punishment to quash any challenge. Talk about a chilling effect on the press!

This kind of incident leads to effective self-censorship. Even if you are working in the West Bank, Israel still has to approve your visa, so journalists are careful not to write something—for publication or even on social media—that could get them kicked out of the country and/or banned for five or ten years. We censor ourselves even in phone conversations.

The paranoia is palpable because of Israel’s reputation as an all-knowing, all-seeing, security power. (Just paranoia: Israel doesn’t know much, and fakes knowing by harassment tactics)

Mondoweiss: What other experiences have you had where Israel’s forces prevented you from practicing your profession as journalist? Israeli soldiers close a barrier blocking the road at the West Bank Al-Fawwar refugee camp, July 3, 2016.

Alaa: Israel often closes down villages, and journalists are not allowed to go through these blockades. On occasion, my driver and translator have sneaked me in illegally. As Palestinian citizens, they are taking a much greater risk than I am. I respect immensely their choice as it reflects their dedication to the journalistic mission of informing the world. Once when I was leaving a closed village, the way we had sneaked in was blocked. After a while we realized the only way out was a dirt path guarded by Israeli military.

We stopped the car a couple hundred meters away as the soldiers yelled. They pointed their guns at the car and gestured for us to retreat. I slowly got out of the car, with my hands in the air. I stood there, screaming “American” and “English” at the top of my lungs. Finally, the soldiers called me over. I pretended I didn’t know I was not allowed in the village. Eventually, they let us go.

Mondoweiss: Have you ever been frightened while doing your job by elements of Israeli society other than the government?

Alaa: Once I was interviewing a Palestinian with my translator in Hebron when a settler walked up with a large dog and an M16 slung on his shoulder. He asked what we were doing, and I said we were about to leave. I could see the person I was interviewing was scared. Settlers are not often held accountable when they commit violence.

The settler walked on to speak to the soldiers up the street at the checkpoint where we needed to exit. Once he had left, the three of us headed to the checkpoint. The soldiers detained my translator and me, took our I.D.s and questioned us for a while.

When they let us go, one of the soldiers yelled obscenities at the Hebron resident we had been interviewing. Another time, I was reporting a story about foreign workers in northern Israel. The conditions were absolutely horrible, the workers lived like animals. During the interview, one of the Israeli farm owners came driving by, and we all ran and hid.

Partly, we were frightened that this private citizen—like so many in Israel—might be carrying a machine gun, and might use it. Mostly, though, we were concerned with getting the workers in trouble with their employer. As it turned out, the owner drove away without seeing us. This is just another example, though, of how the typical concerns of an investigative journalist are magnified by the pervasive violence of Israeli society.

It is hard to focus on your reporting when you know the limits of the rule of law when it comes to violence against Palestinians and others considered “less than.”

Mondoweiss: How does your identity as a Palestinian affect your life and work?

Alaa: I have a sort of in-between status. On the one hand, I actually am Palestinian and my name, history and family connections can make me vulnerable. On the other hand, my appearance gives me free passage in many cases—I’m what you might call “white-looking” and when my name isn’t checked I definitely don’t get hassled as much as people who can’t pass as non-Palestinian.

One time I stumbled into an anti-Arab protest in Jerusalem. People were screaming death to Arabs, waving Israeli flags, and holding racist signs. It was bizarre and yes, a bit scary. I pass for non-Arab, but I knew that if for some reason I was identified as an Arab, things could go bad quickly. So that’s a pretty ordinary example of how my identity can put me at risk even when I’m not covering the conflict.

On a more mundane level—but one that affects me every day—I am subject to the same material restrictions as other Palestinians living in the West Bank. For example, we do not have access to cellphone data. This means I can only access the internet through wifi, and that definitely limits my ability to report in a timely manner.

Mondoweiss: Thanks so much for sharing these glimpses of your world. Are there other aspects of your work as a journalist in the West Bank that you would like Mondoweiss readers to understand?

Alaa: I think that when you’re far from Israel/Palestine it can be easy to forget how far the invasion and destruction of basic, fundamental rights has gone. Even while experiencing these constraints on freedom of the press ourselves, those of us here on the ground start to accept as obvious and mundane the challenges we have to face.

It often feels like little things, normal and everyday. But it’s not, and we can’t let ourselves take these restrictions for granted. I am grateful every day that Mondoweiss continues to spread the news about human rights violations in Israel/Palestine.

For me, it’s a privilege to report through Mondoweiss, where I know that thoughtful people see the information I work hard to obtain for them. I would just like to close by asking readers to continue supporting the essential outlet that Mondoweiss provides for accurate news coverage from territories where the authorities are working very hard to prevent accurate information from getting out.

The name you chose for the current campaign rings very true to me. They fear the truth–we report it. I urge those who value the truth to contribute so we can keep defying censorship and awakening the world to injustice.

Senior Israeli Rabbi Calls for the Mass Execution of Palestinians

Shmuel Eliyahu has a long history of hate speech.

Senior Israeli Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu believes the Israeli army should stop arresting Palestinians and execute them instead.

“It must execute them and leave no one alive,” Eliyahu wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday, according to Defend Democracy Press.

Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of the city of Safed, has a record of making racist remarks about Arabs and Muslims. He once said Israel should take “revenge” against Arabs, and that Palestinians, whom he once labeled enemies of Israel, must be “destroyed and crushed in order to end violence.”

In a previous Facebook post, Eliyahu argued Palestinians who are arrested should not be kept alive.

“If you leave him alive, there is a fear that he will be released and kill other people,” he wrote. “We must eradicate this evil from within our midst.”

In 2012, Eliyahu was accused of making racist remarks after calling Arab culture “cruel” and saying Arabs have “violent norms” that have “turned into ideology.”

The charges were later dropped by the Israeli Justice Ministry amidst speculation that journalists had misrepresented his words.

On a separate occasion, Eliyahu claimed that Arabs steal Jewish farm equipment in an attempt to blackmail Palestinian farmers.

“The minute you make room for Arabs among Jews, it takes five minutes before they start to do whatever they want,” he said.

Tensions have been heightened recently in occupied Palestinian territory as a result of the restrictions placed on Palestinian worshippers entering the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.

As many as 300 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October 2015. 

Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet.

She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College’s student newspaper. Follow her at @celisa_mia.

Jewish diaspora angry as Netanyahu scraps Western Wall mixed prayer plan

Decision to abandon landmark deal described as a ‘slap in the face’ and prompts charity to cancel gala event with Israeli PM

A high-profile body that liaises between Israel and the Jewish diaspora has reacted with fury at a decision by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to in effect abandon a plan to allow men and women to pray together at the Western Wall.

The Jewish Agency has cancelled a gala dinner with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and is to discuss the ramifications of the decision at a meeting this week.

The Israeli cabinet decided on Sunday to scrap a compromise agreement made 17 months ago, which was intended to resolve a battle lasting more than a quarter of a century over equal rights for women praying at the Western Wall. (In 1967, both genders prayed together)

Netanyahu came under intense pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties in his coalition government and the religious authorities that manage the site, the holiest place that Jews can pray.

The plan would have created a new area for worship at the Western Wall for men and women to pray together. At present, prayer areas are segregated, with a small stretch of the wall of the ancient temple reserved for women.

The deal, made in January 2016, was welcomed by liberal and reform Jews, and the feminist group Women of the Wall, which has mounted monthly protests at the Old City site since 1989. The gatherings frequently ended in physical tussles and arrests.

Women of the Wall also demanded an end to ultra-Orthodox bans on women praying aloud, reading from the Torah and wearing traditional prayer shawls, known as tallit.

The compromise followed three years of intense negotiations between liberal Israeli and American Jewish groups and the Israeli authorities and was seen as a significant breakthrough in promoting religious pluralism in Israel, where ultra-Orthodox authorities govern almost every facet of Jewish life. (If this lame issue needed such intense negotiation, what the Palestinians should expect from the right parties in Israel?)

But opposition from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious establishment has prevented the agreement from being implemented

Speaking after Sunday’s announcement, Moshe Gafni, the leader of the ultra-religious United Torah Judaism party, said: “We are happy about this, and thank the holy one, blessed is he, on this great success.”

But Anat Hoffman, the chairwoman of Women of the Wall, accused Netanyahu of reneging on a “historic” agreement with liberal Jewish denominations.

“This is a bad day for women in Israel,” she wrote on Facebook.

“The Women of the Wall will continue to worship at the women’s section of the Western Wall with the Torah scroll, prayer shawls and phylacteries until equality for women arrives at the wall as well.” (If there is No equality in praying, what kind of liberal and democratic system are we talking about?)

Natan Sharansky, a former government minister and chairman of the Jewish Agency, who helped broker the original deal, said the move was a “deep disappointment”.

The agreement would have established “a dignified space for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall,’’ Sharansky said. “[The] decision signifies a retreat from that agreement and will make our work to bring Israel and the Jewish world closer together increasingly more difficult.”

The Jewish Agency’s board of governors, which is meeting in Jerusalem this week, said: “In light of [Sunday’s] decisions by the government of Israel, the board of governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel will be changing its entire agenda for the remaining two days of its meetings in Jerusalem, in order to address the ramifications of these decisions.

“The scheduled dinner with the participation of the prime minister has been cancelled.”

A ceremony to mark the opening of the board of governors at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on Monday was also cancelled

Salai Meridor, a former head of the Jewish Agency and former ambassador to the US, said the decision was “a slap in the face to world Jewry” and the Western Wall “belongs to all Jews”.

The American Jewish Committee said the decision would weaken ties between American Jewry and Israel.

“The Kotel [Western Wall] belongs to all Jews worldwide, not to a self-appointed segment,” said its chief executive, David Harris. “This decision is a setback for Jewish unity and the essential ties that bind Israel and American Jews, the two largest centres of Jewish life in the world.”

The cabinet decision came before a deadline set by Israel’s high court of justice on Sunday for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the agreement.

Thousands of Jews pray every day at the site, the last remnant of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, pushing scraps of paper bearing handwritten prayers into the cracks between stones.

The wall also attracts thousands of tourists and international dignitaries, with Pope Francis, Donald Trump and Madonna among global figures who have visited.

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis strictly govern Jewish practices in Israel such as weddings, divorces and burials.

The ultra-Orthodox religious establishment sees itself as responsible for maintaining traditions through centuries of persecution and assimilation, and it resists any inroads from liberals it often considers to be second-class Jews who ordain women and gay people and are overly inclusive toward converts and interfaith marriages.

Note 1: Saudi Kingdom cannot appreciate any Israeli policy Not satisfying gender discrimination and contemplate full support to Israel. Kushner demanded this restriction too.

Note 2: Erecting new settlements by American Jews are matters of doing business and illegal tax dodging on lands robbed from Palestinian owners

Israel boycott restrictions thrown out by UK’s High Court

Asa Winstanley Activism and BDS Beat 22 June 2017

The High Court in London ruled on Thursday that the Conservative government acted unlawfully in trying to prevent local councils in the United Kingdom from divesting from firms involved in Israel’s military occupation.

The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in March, and was supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

”We couldn’t be happier that this right has been upheld by the court,” said PSC Director Ben Jamal.

Recent UK polling showed that two in five people consider BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – a reasonable Palestinian response to Israel’s crimes.

“Today is a victory for Palestine, for local democracy and for the rule of law,” PSC Chair Hugh Lanning, said. “Absolutely everyone has a right to peacefully protest Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.”

In a judicial review published on Thursday, judge Ross Cranston overturned part of a guidance document issued in September by local government minister Sajid Javid.

The court ruled that the government had acted improperly by seeking to use pension law to pursue its own foreign and arms industry policy.

Freedom to protest

Jamie Potter, one of PSC’s lawyers, said, “this outcome is a reminder to the government that it cannot improperly interfere in the exercise of freedom of conscience and protest in order to pursue its own agenda.”

The full ruling can be read below.

The minister’s guidance had stated that local authorities must not use “pension policies to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defense industries … other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government.”

Although the document did not specifically name Israel, it was part of a series of measures, launched at a press conference in Jerusalem, explicitly intended to target BDS campaigners.

Although the government trailed it to the media as a “BDS ban”, legal analysis of the new documents showed there was nothing new in them “aside from some overblown rhetoric clearly intended to scare campaigners.”

BDS gets the goods

Local government bodies in the UK have for years been urged by Palestine solidarity campaigners to divest from companies that are involved in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

French multinational Veolia withdrew from most Israeli businesses in 2015 after being the focus of a years-long BDS campaign.

Municipalities around the world had dropped it from contracts worth more than $14 billion, according to the BDS National Committee.

Veolia lost contracts with public bodies in London, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Canterbury, East Sussex and Winchester as a result of BDS campaigns.

Councils in Tower Hamlets, Leicester, Swansea and Bristol are among those that have passed resolutions in support of BDS or condemning companies involved in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

The peace process industry keeps the Israeli-Palestinian conflict running

Ben White. Monday 19 June 2017 #Occupation

Rather than admit their methods haven’t worked, pundits and scholars – often participants in unsuccessful peace talks themselves – push tired approaches that only keep Palestinians occupied

At an April conference in Washington DC held by the Middle East Policy Council, University of Pennsylvania-based political scientist Professor Ian Lustick had some strong criticism for what he described as “the continuous merry-go-round of American-orchestrated negotiations”.

After analysing the interests and roles played by the Israeli government, the US government, and the Palestinian Authority, Lustick turned his attention to a “fourth player” – what he called “the peace process industry“.

This industry, according to Lustick, is made up of “legions of pundits, scholars, commentators, funders and conference organisers”, whose “speculations, warnings, maps and advice fill the newspapers, blogging sites and airwaves”.

In particular, Lustick highlighted the role of this industry’s “two-state solution proponents”, who, “given the choice between a vanishingly small chance of success and having to develop and adapt an entirely new framework for pursuing values of justice, peace and equality and democracy in this domain, they prefer continuing the fight”.

He added: “It is far easier to raise funds, preserve institutions and promote careers by describing a closing window of opportunity for two states than to ever admit that in fact a window is closed.”

The result is that “both protagonists and observers [are discouraged] from thinking beyond the outworn categories of two states to imagine other possibilities”. (I tend to disagree: first a 2 State settlement and then opening new windows to the process)

Sample study

This peace process industry hides in plain sight. Its members maintain a high-profile public presence, but one whose role and influence is framed as independent and technocratic.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

In five pieces published over three weeks in May by The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Politico, CNN and Reuters, 16 regional analysts were cited on 22 occasions.

Dennis Ross and David Makovsky were both cited in three of the five articles – the pair are colleagues at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

Career diplomat Aaron David Miller and former US envoy to Israel Dan Shapiro were quoted in two of the five pieces.

Together, Ross, Makovsky, Miller and Shapiro constituted almost half of the total 22 expert contributions.

Other analysts cited include Ronald Reagan and George W Bush-era official Elliott Abrams, veteran US diplomat and expert Martin Indyk, and former Israeli military and diplomatic figures like Gilead Sher and Amnon Reshef.

Of the 22 times that an expert was quoted, only three were Palestinian: Jibril Rajoub, Hanan Ashrawi (the sole woman of the 22), and Hani al-Masri.

Taking these five articles as a whole, written in the context of President Donald Trump’s Middle East tour, we notice the following:

First, Palestinian voices are marginalised, or sometimes absent entirely;

second, readers are not informed of the analysts’ own personal views; and

third, many are commenting on a “peace process” in which they themselves have been (unsuccessful) participants.

Makovsky (a US-Israeli dual national), for example, worked as senior advisor to the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under secretary of state John Kerry.

That special envoy was Martin Indyk, who took a break from Brookings to take up the role, before returning in 2014.

Ross, too, is a former US negotiator (albeit one who believeswe need to be advocates for Israel”).

‘The most spectacular deception’

This revolving door between think-tanks and government is a key element in sustaining the tired approaches and bankrupt frameworks that have helped keep the Palestinians occupied, colonised and dispossessed – at no significant cost to Israel with respect to consequences or sanctions.

The structure of the peace process imposes “mutual obligations” of “both sides” – Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – despite the fact that the former is a powerful, occupying state, and the latter is an interim, autonomous entity for the occupied population.

The peace process industry experts play a key role in talking up or echoing the latest demands of the PA fashioned by Israel the US or others, whether it’s “reform” of security services or financial institutions, or ending “incitement” in the media and the education system.

In turn, Israel is urged to adopt tokenistic gestures such as economic “confidence-building measures”, issue more work permits to enter the pre-1967 lines, or lift some of the restrictions on Palestinians’ usage of territory in “Area C” of the West Bank.

Writing a decade ago in the London Review of Books, Henry Siegman described “the Middle East peace process” as possibly “the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history.”

Last month, writing in The New York Times, former Palestinian negotiator excoriated a peace process that has produced “no progress” after “more than two decades.” She continued:

I spent several years involved on the Palestinian side of the negotiations and can attest to their futility…When we spoke of international law and the illegality of settlements, Israeli negotiators laughed in our faces. Power is everything, they would say, and you have none.”

During a recent seminar at Queen Mary University London, Palestinian author and academic Ghada Karmi told attendees: “We must stop talking about Palestine, and do something about Israel.”

( The western societies that were pressured to hide their racist and apartheid penchants publicly, vent their rage by openly supporting Israel policies without any limitation in “”free expression” rights)

Such a course of action is unlikely, however, so long as the “peace process” merry-go-round continues, ably assisted by its industry of experts, providing Israel cover for permanently-temporary occupation.

– Ben White is the author of  Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide and Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy. He is a writer for Middle East Monitor and his articles have been published by Al Jazeera, al-Araby, Huffington Post, The Electronic Intifada, The Guardian’s Comment is Free and more.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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