Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ali Abunimah

Is there any limit to opinion expression? Like inciting to murder? Electronic Intifada
Palestinians in Occupied Territories reading dailies Hatem Omar / Maan Images

Ali Abunimah submitted to Electronic Intifada on August 8 under “New Guardian team member openly incited Israel to murder Alice Walker and others”:

In a sad sign of its deterioration, The Guardian has hired a new contributor who openly called on the Israeli army to kill Americans sailing to Gaza, including Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker and Kindertransport refugee Hedy Epstein.

In a statement on its website the newspaper says:

Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.

“We are pleased to have Josh join the Guardian,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the Guardian US. “He brings an important perspective our readers look for on issues concerning US politics,” added Gibson.

Calls for murder

Apparently, one of those “perspectives” is that those who disagree with Treviño should be brutally murdered.

In June 2011, as several dozen Americans, including Walker and Epstein attempted to set sail from Greece to Gaza, to break Israel’s blockade along with boats from other countrie.  Treviño tweeted:

“Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.”

When challenged about his apparent call on Israel to kill fellow Americans, Treviño doubled down, affirming “Sure, if they adhere to our enemies. Flotilla participants do.”

@jstrevino Low awareness. Short of public polling on Dogan specifically, you don’t know enough to make claims about “most” Americans

Guardian expansion in US

The Guardian has long held a reputation as a progressive and reputable publication. However the laundering of someone who regards murder as an acceptable form of dealing with people whose opinions he rejects, suggests the once venerable newspaper has abandoned any such pretense.

The Guardian which is suffering massive financial losses is currently undertaking a risky expansion into the US market and perhaps hopes sensationalism, racism and calls to murder will help it find favor with American audiences.

It also shows that calling for violence against opponents is no bar to advancement in the “liberal” Guardian, as long as the victims are standing in solidarity with Palestinians.

Update 18 August 2012: The Guardian responds

I wrote to the Guardian asking for a response to this post as well as other questions. I included their responses in an analysis I wrote for Al Jazeera that was published today: “What’s gone wrong at The Guardian?

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How Israel and its partisans work to censor the Internet

By Alison Weir 

How Israel and its partisans work to censor the Internet

YouTube’s email claimed we had somehow violated their long list of guidelines but did not tell us which one, or how. It simply stated:

“Your video ‘Ahmad Nasser Jarrar’ was flagged for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it violates our guidelines. We’ve removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike, or temporary penalty, to your account.”

Such a penalty is not public and does not terminate the channel.

Three days later, before we’d even had a chance to appeal this strike, YouTube suddenly took down our entire channel. This was done with no additional warnings or explanation.

This violated YouTube’s published policies.

YouTube policies say there is a “three-strike” system by which it warns people of alleged violations three times before terminating a channel. If a channel is eventually terminated, the policies state that YouTube will send an email “detailing the reason for the suspension.”

None of this happened in our case.

We submitted appeals on YouTube’s online form, but received no response.

Attempts to find a phone number for YouTube and/or email addresses by which we could communicate with a human being were futile.

YouTube’s power to shut down content without explanation whenever it chooses was acutely apparent.

While there are other excellent video hosting sites, YouTube is the largest one, with nearly ten times more views than its closest competitors.

It is therefore enormously powerful in shaping which information is available to the public–and which is not.

We spent days working to upload our videos elsewhere, update links to the videos, etc.

Finally, having received no response or even acknowledgment of our appeal from YouTube, we decided to write an article about the situation.

We emailed YouTube’s press department a list of questions about its process. We have yet to receive any answers.

Finally that evening we received an email with good news:

“After a review of your account, we have confirmed that your YouTube account is Not in violation of our Terms of Service. As such, we have un-suspended your account. This means your account is once again active and operational.”

Our channel was visible once more. And YouTube had now officially confirmed that our content doesn’t violate its guidelines.

Ultimately, the YouTube system seems to have worked, in our case.

Inappropriate censorship was overruled, perhaps by saner or less biased heads. In fact, we felt that there might at least be one positive result of the situation—additional YouTube employees had viewed our videos and perhaps learned much about Israel-Palestine they had not previously known.

But the whole experience was a wakeup call that YouTube can censor information critical of powerful parties at any time, with no explanation or accountability.

Israeli soldiers paid to “Tweet, Share, Like and more”

Israel and partisans of Israel have long had a significant presence on the Internet, working to promote the Israel narrative and block facts about Palestine, the Israel lobby, and other subject matter they wish covered up.

Opinionated proponents of Israel post comments, flag content, accuse critics of “antisemitism,” and disseminate misinformation about Palestine and Palestine solidarity activists. Many of these actions are by individuals acting alone who work independently, voluntarily, and relentlessly.

In addition to these, however, a number of orchestrated, often well-funded projects sponsored by the Israeli government and others have come to light. These projects work to place pro-Israel content throughout the Internet, and to remove information Israel doesn’t wish people to know.

One such Israeli project targeting the Internet came to light when it was lauded in an article by Arutz Sheva, an Israeli news organization headquartered in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

The report described a new project by Israel’s “New Media desk” that focused on YouTube and other social media sites. The article reported that Israeli soldiers were being employed to “Tweet, Share, Like and more.”

The article noted, “It is well known nowadays that what happens on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has great influence on events as they occur on the ground. The Internet, too, is a battleground.” It was “comforting,” the article stated, to learn that the IDF was employing soldiers whose job was specifically to do battle on it.

Israeli students paid to promote Israel on social media

Screen shot from a video about student program to spread pro-Israel content on the Internet and social media.

Another project to do battle on the Internet was initiated in 2011 by the 300,000-strong National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS). The goal was “to deepen and expand hasbara [state propaganda] activities of students in the State of Israel.”

Under this program, Israeli students are paid $2,000 to work five hours per week to “lead the battle against hostile websites.”

An announcement for the program (translated here into English) noted that “many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.” Students can work from the comfort of their own homes, points out the announcement.

“Students work in four teams: Content, Wikipedia, Monitoring and New Media,” according to the program description.

It details the responsibilities for each team:

The content team is responsible for creating original content in a news format.

The monitoring team is responsible for “monitoring efforts while reporting and removing anti-Semitic [sic] content from social networks in a variety of languages.” (The program conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism; see below.)

The New Media team is responsible for social media channels, “including Facebook accounts in English, French and Portuguese, Twitter, YouTube channels, and so on.”

The Wikipedia team is “responsible for writing new entries and translating them into languages that operate in the program, updating the values of current and relevant information, tracking and preventing bias in the program’s areas of activity.”

This program sometimes claims it is working against antisemitism, but it conflates antisemitism with criticism of the state of Israel. This is in line with an Israel-backed initiative to legally define “antisemitism” to include discussing negative facts about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

Campaign to infiltrate Wikipedia

The pro-Israel organization CAMERA infiltrated Wikipedia for a time. (Illustration by Electronic Intifada.)

Several years ago, another project came to light that targeted Wikipedia. While manipulating Wikipedia entries doesn’t directly impact YouTube, it provides a window into some of these efforts to manipulate online content.

A 2008 exposé in the Electronic Intifada revealed: “A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia.”

While it is common and appropriate for individuals to edit Wikipedia entries to add factual information and remove inaccurate statements, this project was the antithesis of such editing.

As EI, reported, its purpose was “to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.”

Author Ali Abunimah reported that a source had provided EI with a series of emails from members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) that showed the group “was engaged in what one activist termed a ‘war’ on Wikipedia.”

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia.

CAMERA called for volunteers to secretly work on editing Wikipedia entries. It emphasized the importance of keeping the project secret. Volunteers were schooled in ways to elude detection. After they signed up as editors, they were to “avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time.”

They were also told to “avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a username that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name.”

CAMERA also warned them: “Don’t forget to always log inIf you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer’s IP address.”

A Wikipedia editor known as Zeq helped in the effort, telling volunteers: “Edit articles at random, make friends not enemies—we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint.”

He emphasized the importance of secrecy: “You don’t want to be precived [sic] as a ‘CAMERA’ defender’ on wikipedia that is for sure.”

Zeq recommended that they work with and learn from an independent, pro-Israel Wikipedia editor known as Jayjg, but directed them to keep the project secret even from him.

When this all came to light, Wikipedia took measures against such manipulation of its system and the CAMERA program may have ended.

If it did, others stepped into the breach. In 2010 two Israeli groups began offering a course in “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia entries.

The aim was “to make sure that information in the online encyclopedia reflects the worldview of Zionist groups.” A course organizer explained that the use of the word “occupied” in Wikipedia entries “was just the kind of problem she hoped a new team of editors could help fix.”

Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported: “The organizers’ aim was twofold: to affect Israeli public opinion by having people who share their ideological viewpoint take part in writing and editing for the Hebrew version, and to write in English so Israel’s image can be bolstered abroad.”

There was to be a prize for the “Best Zionist Editor”—the person who over the next four years incorporated the most “Zionist” changes in the encyclopedia. The winner would receive a trip in a hot-air balloon over Israel.

High tech millionaire Naftali Bennett, a right-wing minister close to the settler movement, describes the program:

The UK Guardian reports: “One Jerusalem-based Wikipedia editor, who doesn’t want to be named, said that publicising the initiative might not be such a good idea. ‘Going public in the past has had a bad effect,’ she says. ‘There is a war going on and unfortunately the way to fight it has to be underground.’”

Again in 2013, there was evidence of pro-Israel tampering with Wikipedia. Israel’s Ha’aretz reported that a social-media employee of NGO Monitor edited articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an allegedly biased manner. “Draiman concealed the facts that he was an employee of NGO Monitor, often described as a right-wing group, and that he was using a second username, which is forbidden under Wikipedia’s rules,” according to the paper.

Such actions have had an impact. A website critical of Wikipedia said in 2014 that there were “almost ten times as many articles about murdered Israeli children as there are articles about murdered Palestinian children,” even though at least 10 times more Palestinian children had been killed.

The website also pointed out: “While editors like Zeq (TCL) and CltFn (TCL) may get banned in the end, the articles they started remain.”

If YouTube reviewers and others use Wikipedia in their determination about whether content should be removed or not, these efforts to censor Wikipedia could adversely affect their decisions.

Social Media Missions for Israel

Title image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.

In 2017 yet another project to target Internet platforms was launched. Known as Act.il, the project uses a software application that “leverages the power of communities to support Israel through organized online activity.”

The software is a joint venture of three groups: Israel’s IDC University; the Israeli American Council, which works to “organize and activate” the half million Israeli-Americans who live in the U.S.; and another American group called the Maccabee Task Force, created to combat the international boycott of Israel, which it terms “an anti-Semitic movement.” Maccabee says it is “laser focused on one core mission—to ensure that those who seek to delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people are confronted, combatted and defeated.”

Image from Maccabee end of year report.

In addition, the project is supported by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry and Israel’s intelligence community. Its CEO is an eight-year veteran of Israeli army intelligence.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post reports that Act.IL is “a wide-ranging grassroots campaign app that lets individuals combat BDS in the palm of their hand” or, as we will see, from public computers in the US.

“Act.IL is more than just an app,” the Post article explains. “It is a campaign that taps into the collective knowledge of IDC students who together speak 35 languages, hail from 86 countries and have connections to the pro-Israel community all over the world.”

The article claims: “A platform like Act.IL offers world Jewry an opportunity to fight for one thing the majority can rally behind: Israel.” (This ignores the fact that there are many Jewish individuals who oppose Israeli policies.)

Israel partisans around the world download the app, and then “in this virtual situation room of experts, they detect instances where Israel is being assailed online and they program the app to find missions that can be carried out with a push of a button.”

An organizer notes: “When you work together, with the same goals and values, you can be incredibly powerful in the social media landscape.”

Some missions ask users to report videos. Israeli government officials say that the Act.il app “is more effective than official government requests at getting those videos removed from online platforms.”

The project is led by former Israeli intelligence officers and has close ties to American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Another funder is the Paul R. Singer Foundation, funded by the Republican hedge fund billionaire.

The Forward calls Act.IL a new entry into the “online propaganda war” that “has thousands of mostly U.S.-based volunteers who can be directed from Israel into a social media swarm.”

According to the Forward, “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

The Forward reports: “Act.il says that its app has 12,000 sign-ups so far, and 6,000 regular users. The users are located all over the world, though the majority of them appear to be in the United States.

Users get ‘points’ for completed missions; top-ranked users complete five or six missions a day. Top users win prizes: a congratulatory letter from a government minister, or a doll of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister.”

Photo of group that participated in Act.IL training

Act.IL’s CEO, a veteran Israeli army intelligence officer, said the Israeli military and its domestic intelligence service “‘request’ Act.il’s help in getting services like Facebook to remove specific videos that call for violence against Jews or Israelis.” This according to the Forward report.

The officer later tried to walk back his statement, “saying that the Shin Bet [intelligence service] and the army don’t request help on specific videos but are in regular informal contact with Act.il. He said that Act.il’s staff is largely made up of former Israeli intelligence officers.”

Teens in American JCCs carry out missions assigned from Israel

New Jersey “Media Room,” a project of IAC New Jersey in partnership with Act.IL.

The project recruits Jewish teens and adults and sometimes operates out of local Jewish community centers, the Forward says. The paper describes one example:

“The dozen or so Israelis sitting around a conference table at a Jewish community center in Tenafly, New Jersey, on a recent Wednesday night didn’t look like the leading edge of a new Israeli government-linked crowdsourced online propaganda campaign.

“Tapping on laptops, the group of high school students and adult mentors completed social media ‘missions’ assigned out of a headquarters in Herzliya, Israel.”

In addition to the Tenafly “media room” another operates in Boston in cooperation with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. There are also regular Act.il advocacy-training sessions at The Frisch School, a Jewish day school in Paramas, New Jersey. Other media rooms are reportedly in the works, with one in Manhattan, hosted by The Paul R. Singer Foundation, scheduled to open soon.

The Forward reports: “In November, the Boston media room created a mission for the app that asked users to email a Boston-area church to complain about a screening there of a documentary that is critical of Israel. The proposed text of the email likens the screening of the film to the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, and calls the film’s narrator, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, a ‘well-known anti-Semite.’”

Photo of Boston Media Room published by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which states: “Media Room Ambassadors are students and adult mentors who are trained with the knowledge, skills, and tools to positively influence public discourse by developing pro-Israel social media campaigns.”

According to the Forward, Act.il also produces “pro-Israel web content that carries no logo. It distributes that content to other pro-Israel groups, including the Adelson-funded Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and The Israel Project, which push them out on their own social media feeds.”

The Forward predicts: “Initiatives in cyberspace seem likely to increase.”

Screenshot from video promoting the project, posted on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston website.

Israeli media report that the Israeli military “has begun scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies” to recruit for its ranks.

An Israeli official described the process: “Our first order of business is to search Jewish communities abroad for teens who could qualify, Our representatives will then travel to the communities and begin the screening process there.”

Israeli Government Ministry backs secret online campaigns

General Sima Vaknin-Gil told Israeli tech developers to “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel propaganda. As Israel’s Chief Censor, she said: ” “We censor information that is critical to our enemies, who have no capabilities like us, do not have a Jewish brain, and therefore our enemy relies to a large extent on open information…”

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is behind this and similar projects, has mobilized substantial resources for online activities.

Israel’s Ynet news reports that the Ministry’s director “sees it as a war for all intents and purposes. ‘The delegitimization against the State of Israel can be curbed and contained through public diplomacy and soft tools,’ she says. ‘In order to win, however, we must use tricks and craftiness.’”

The director, General Sima Vaknin-Gil, told a forum of Israeli tech developers at a forum: “I want to create a community of fighters.” The objective is to “curb the activities of anti-Israel activists,” and “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel content.

An Israeli report in December stated that the ministry has acquired a budget of roughly $70 million to “stand at the forefront of the battle against delegitimization, adopting methods from the fields of intelligence and technology. There is a reason why ministry officials define it as ‘a war on consciousness terrorism.’” [‘Delegitimization’ is a common Israeli term for criticism of Israel. See here for a discussion of the term.]

Ha’aretz article reports: “The Strategic Affairs Ministry’s leaders see themselves as the heads of a commando unit, gathering and disseminating information about ‘supporters of the delegitimization of Israel’—and they prefer their actions be kept secret.”

The article reports that the Ministry includes a job role entitled “Senior official—new-media realm,” responsible for surveillance and activities “in the digital realm.”

This individual head is responsible for analyzing social media and formulating a social media campaign against sites and activists who are deemed a threat to Israel.

Among the job’s responsibilities are:

“Analysis of the world of social media, in terms of content, technology and network structure, emphasizing centers of gravity and focuses of influence, methods, messages, organizations, sites and key activists, studying their characteristics, areas, realms and key patterns of activities of the rival campaign and formulating a strategy for an awareness campaign against them in this realm and managing crises on social media. That is, surveilling of activities mainly in the digital arena.”

Officials at the ministry are charged with “construction and promotion of creative and suitable programs for new media.”

The unit works to keep its activities secret from the public. For example, a program to train young Israelis for activities on social media was exempted from publishing a public bid for funding. Similarly, the ministry’s special unit against delegitimization, “Hama’aracha” (The Battle), is excluded from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

The 29th floor of Tel Aviv’s Champion Tower is the nerve center of a 24-7 ‘war’ in which Israeli agents working behind the scenes advance U.S. legislation, torpedo events, organize counter-protests, & close bank accounts.. The Director says: ‘In order to win we must use tricks and craftiness.’

Its activities reportedly include a “24/7 operations room monitoring all the delegitimization activities against Israel: Protests, conferences, publications calling for an anti-Israel boycott and international bodies’ boycott initiatives. The operations room will transfer 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.”

Other programs include a 22-million-shekel project to work among labor unions and professional associations abroad “to root out the ability of BDS entities to influence the unions,” and a 16-million-shekel program focused on student activities throughout the world.

Israel’s UNIT 8200

Photo from article about Unit 8200 on Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre website.

Another Israeli entity that plays a role in covert Internet activity is the Israeli military’s legendary high-tech spy branch, Unit 8200. This unit is composed of thousands of “cyber warriors” primarily 18 to 21 years of age; some even younger. A number of its graduates have gone on to top positions at tech companies operating in the U.S., such as Check Point Software (where the spouse of the Jewish Voice for Peace head is employed as a solutions architect).

In 2015 Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced plans “to establish a special command to combat anti-Israel incitement on social media.” The command would operate under the foreign ministry’s hasbara [propaganda] department and would especially recruit from graduates of Unit 8200.

An article in the Jewish Press about the new command reports that Unit 8200 “has developed a great reputation for effectiveness in intelligence gathering, including operating a massive global spy network. Several alumni of 8200 have gone on to establish leading Israeli IT companies, including Check Point, ICQ, Palo Alto Networks, NICE, AudioCodes, Gilat, Leadspace, EZchip, Onavo, Singular and CyberArk.”

Check Point Software headquarters in Tel Aviv. Founded by a former Unit 8200 member, it also has offices throughout the U.S. Israeli tech companies sometimes assist in online spying efforts.

Numerous Israeli tech companies, many of them headed by former military intelligence officers, assist in these online spying efforts, sometimes receiving Israeli government funding “for digital initiatives aimed at gathering intelligence on activist groups and countering their efforts.”

According to the ministry’s statement, among the Command’s activities is finding videos with inflammatory content and issuing complaints to the relevant websites.”

To be clear, this is an occupying military working covertly to achieve censorship of reporting on its atrocities.

YouTube & Google officials meet with Israeli Minister

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaking to the Israel Collaboration Network’s Israeli Women in Tech Group on August 25, 2016.

Major Internet companies have reportedly been cooperating in this effort.

In 2015 Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that she had visited Silicon Valley and met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google’s Director of Public Policy (it is unclear whether this was was Jennifer Oztzistzki or Juniper Downs; Hotovely’s announcementreferred to “Jennifer Downs”).

“At the end of the meeting,” Israeli media reported, “it was agreed that Google would strengthen bilateral relations with the Foreign Ministry and build a collaborative work apparatus.”

Another Israeli news report about the meeting states: “…it was agreed that the companies would strengthen ties with the Foreign Ministry and build a regular mechanism of control to prevent the distribution of those incendiary materials on the network.”

Google, which owns YouTube, denied the Foreign Ministry’s report. The Ministry accordingly “clarified” its statement somewhat, but continued to say that Israeli officials would be in “regular contact with Google’s employees in Israel who deal with the problematic materials.”

Such officials often have close ties to Israel. For example, Facebook’s Head of Policy in Israel,Jordana Cutler, had previously been employed for many years by the Israeli government. (More about Facebook can be found here.)

The Linkedin page for Facebook’s Jordana Cutler

The meetings seem to have had a significant effect.

In 2016 Fortune magazine reported: “Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israeli requests to delete content that the government says incites Palestinian violence, Israel’s Justice Minister said on Monday.”

More recently, the Israeli Ministry of Justice said that its cyber unit handled 2,241 cases of online content and succeeded in getting 70 percent of it removed.

According to a 2017 report, Google, in its capacity as the operator of Youtube, announced that it was updating the steps it was already taking on this score.

Among other things, Google said it would increase the number of members of the “Trusted Flagger program,” which enables certain organizations and government agencies to report content. It also said it would “increase support for NGOs and organizations working to present a ‘corrective voice.’”

Given the record of infiltration and orchestrated activities described above—many financed by a combination of certain influential billionaires and the Israeli government itself—it’s hard to imagine that Israeli organizations and partisans are not thoroughly embedded in this program. In fact, one of the NGOs already working with YouTube as a “trusted flagger” is the Anti-Defamation League, whose mission includes ‘standing up for Israel.’

Anti-Defamation League celebrates Israel at 2017 New York City parade.

A leaked secret January 2017 ADL strategy paper detailed how to counter the pro-Palestine movement. Among its many strategies were some focused on the importance of efforts in cyber space.

The paper was produced in collaboration with the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank, and included an endorsement by Sima Vaknin-Gil, who stated that “the correlation between the Ministry’s mode of operation and what comes out of this document is very high, and has already proven effective… ”

Strategy paper about how to counter the Palestine solidarity movement. (Full document posted here.)

The document’s executive summary noted: “Cyberspace, broadly defined, stands out as a crucially important arena (for monitoring and counter and pro-active strategies) which requires more resources and attention due to its current influence, rapid growth and growing complexity.”

The paper called for “a mix of policy advocacy and industry engagement with corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter in a manner consistent with the ADL Center for Technology and Society and its Anti-Cyberhate Working Group.”

An illustration in the ADL-Reut working paper on improving Israel advocacy. It noted: “While the pro-Israel network increasingly is active in this domain, much more can be done.”

The paper also recommended: “‘Bottom-up efforts’ of crowd-sourcing to enhance the adaptive capacity of the pro-Israel network.”

At the same time, it urged:

“Strengthening pro-Israel organizations that mobilize and coordinate a network of ‘nodes’ e.g. Jewish Community Public Affairs (JCPA) and its network of Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRCs) in the USA; Hillel, which is present in nearly five hundred locations in the U.S. and globally; the Israel Action Network (IAN) that reaches nearly 160 federations in the U.S.; or the Jewish Congress (WJC) that represents dozens of Jewish communities around the world.”

The detailed, 32-page document reported that in recent years “a massive investment of resources and talent” had been directed against the pro-Palestine movement.

One of the results, the paper said, was to create a “world-wide pro-Israel network.” It was this network that the report wished to mobilize. One of the paper’s concerns was that since Israel’s 2014  attack on Gaza “a growing number of Jews have become more critical of Israel.”

The document recommended a degree of stealth, noting: “high-visibility response by the pro-Israel side can be counterproductive.”

What this means

Nevertheless, despite all these forces arrayed against information about Palestine reaching the American public, our channel is back up on YouTube. In fact, we’ve just uploaded a new video:

This one is about the death of a nine-year-old boy. [Perhaps the Israeli government would consider this incitement to Palestinians to rebel against occupation; we see it as incitement to the world in general, and Americans in particular, to care.]

In other words, Israel’s efforts at censorship don’t always succeed.

But sometimes they do, and other YouTube users have not always been so fortunate. For example, YouTube has terminated several Palestinian news organizations.

One was the al-Quds network, which, according to a report in Middle East Eye, “relies on young reporters and volunteers using phones and other digital devices to cover local news across the Palestinian territories.” They would often report Israeli soldiers committing various human rights violations.

Its YouTube channel was terminated in 2011, and its editor says they had to “to create a new channel from scratch.” By 2017 its new channel had gained almost 10 million views before it was suddenly suspended without warning again last October. It now, however, appears to have a YouTube channel in operation.

According to the MEE report, YouTube also suspended the Filisten al-Youm TV channel last August, and in 2013, apparently following complaints by the Anti-Defamation League, YouTube closed down Iran’s PressTV channel. (A Press TV YouTube channel now also appears to be available again.)

Palestinian social media users risk even greater consequences.

The Israeli government has arrested Palestinians for videos, poems, and other posts it dislikes. A 2016 report estimated that “more than 150 arrests took place between October and February 2016 based on Facebook posts expressing opinions on the uprising. A recent video posted on social media led to the imprisonment of a 16 year old girl, her mother and cousin.

In addition, Palestinian access to social media is somewhat controlled by Israel. As a Huffington Post article reports, ”Palestinians’ digital rights and access to the Internet are compromised in very basic ways, because Israel controls the infrastructure and services of Palestinian telecommunication companies in the West Bank.”

While the situation has greatly improved in recent years – the Israeli government finally announced in 2016 that it would allow Palestinians in the West Bank to access 3G wireless networks, making this one of the last regions in the world with such access after years of Israeli restrictions – it is important to remember the enormous power Israel wields over this largely captive population.

While Israel is able to organize entire campaigns to filter and flood social media, its immense control over Palestinians impedes their access to the same media.

Given these facts, it is extremely important for people to search out information for themselves, go directly to our websites and others, subscribe to diverse email lists, and not rely on social media for information. [Please subscribe to our news posts here.]

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others are private companies. In the end, they have the power to censor information, and they periodically do so. For a few days, we felt acutely what that was like. If Facebook had joined the ban, as has happened with others, we would have been even more cut off from what is essentially today’s “public square.”

The Internet and social media give us far more access to information and tools for communication and activism than ever before, but they, too, can be controlled—and they are.

It is up to us, as always, to overcome.

#

Our videos are also being uploaded to Daily Motion, Vimeo, and BitChute, and many are already on ournews blog, Timeline, and main website, where all of them will eventually be available.


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.” 

The section on the ADL was expanded on March 9. The ADL-Reut is posted here.

UN blames Palestinians for electricity crisis Israel caused in Gaza

A senior UN official is blaming Palestinians for the severe suffering Israel is inflicting on residents of the Gaza Strip with its decision to drastically curtail electricity supplies to the territory where most households already have no more than about three hours of power each day.

Robert Piper, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories, acknowledged on Wednesday that without immediate action the electricity crisis will bring about the “collapse of vital life-saving, health, water, sanitation and municipal services.”

Health services, including vital surgeries, have already faced severe cuts and disruptions since the crisis worsened in April.

UN parrots Netanyahu

But Piper is echoing the Israeli line that Palestinians themselves are to blame.

His statement calls “upon the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel to put the welfare of Gaza’s residents first and to take the necessary measures to avoid further suffering” – as if all these bodies are equal in their power and responsibility.

Piper adds: “Early this week, the Israeli cabinet agreed to a reduction in the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, following a decision by the Palestinian Authority to reduce its monthly payments for that supply by 30% ”

Piper warns that “[i]f, as a result of the Palestinian Authority’s instructions, this decision is implemented the situation will become catastrophic.”

Electricity would then go down to about two hours per day for most people in Gaza.

But Piper’s absurd formulation that the Palestinian Authority is giving “instructions” to a vastly more powerful military occupier follows the line put out by Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister claimed that the power crisis in Gaza was an “internal Palestinian matter” resulting from “an argument between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”

“Hamas demands that the PA pay for electricity and the PA refuse to pay,” Netanyahu said.

Palestinians protest against electricity shortages in Gaza City in January, one of the ongoing and worsening effects of Israel’s 10-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. Ashraf Amra APA images

Israel is responsible

There is a dispute between Hamas, which rules the interior of Gaza, on the one hand, and the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, on the other.

But the PA’s request to Israel to cut Gaza’s electricity supply is part of Abbas’ broader ongoing effort to pressure the population in Gaza and force Hamas out of power.

This is a continuation of the siege policy implemented by Israel that began 10 years ago, when Hamas took complete control over Gaza. Hamas’ move foiled a US-backed coup by militias aligned with Abbas, that was meant to deprive Hamas of the power it had won as the victor in Palestinian Authority elections the year before.

But the events of 2007 left Palestinians living under Israeli occupation divided between Abbas’ Western-backed PA in the West Bank and Hamas in besieged Gaza.

None of this changes the fact that Israel, as the occupying power in Gaza, is legally fully responsible for the welfare of the population there.

Israel claims that it is no longer the occupying power in Gaza since it withdrew its settlers and soldiers from the interior of the territory in 2005.

But this position has been rejected by the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United States and the European Union, which all maintain that Gaza remains occupied because Israel still exercises “effective control” over the territory despite the redeployment of its forces to the perimeter.

In a statement in May, Piper himself acknowledged that Israel is the “occupying power” in Gaza – a fact curiously omitted from his statement on Wednesday.

The Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects the rights of civilians under military occupation, requires Israel to use all means at its disposal to ensure adequate medical services, public health and other basic necessities of life.

The convention is explicit that relief provided by other sources “shall in no way relieve the occupying power of any of its responsibilities” to ensure public health, medical care and hygiene.

Breaches of the convention and other violations of the laws applicable to armed conflict are war crimes under the the founding statute of the International Criminal Court.

Shocking UN complicity

While it is hardly surprising that Israel tries to shirk these responsibilities, it is shocking that a senior UN relief official is assisting Israel to evade its obligations by blaming the victims.

Sadly, this is only the latest example of the UN’s blatant anti-Palestinian bias and complicity in Israel’s abuses, occupation and the siege of Gaza.

Last year, The Electronic Intifada revealed that UN officials received legal advice that the UN-backed “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism” is illegal and violates the very “right to life” of the Palestinian people.

The UN-brokered agreement was supposedly meant to facilitate reconstruction after Israel’s devastating 2014 assault on Gaza, but only reinforced and gave a UN stamp of approval to Israel’s control over the lives of the territory’s two million people.

Blackmail

Egypt’s military regime, which supplies some electricity to Gaza, is reportedly offering to provide more in exchange for Hamas handing over wanted men, a blackmail attempt that uses the lives of Palestinian civilians as bargaining chips.

“Israel is not just a service provider, responding neutrally to a client’s request,” Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that monitors the blockade of Gaza, reminded Israeli officials this week. “Given its extensive control over life in the Strip, Israel is responsible for enabling normal life for its residents.”

It ought to be UN officials who are clearly warning Israel to abide by its legal obligations and calling for accountability if it refuses to do so.

Robert Piper has chosen instead to help Israel cover up its crimes.

Sanction all Israeli settlement goods and services, Amnesty demands

Human rights organizations are finally catching up with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to make Israel pay a price for its crimes against humanity.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International said that all states “must ban Israeli settlement products to help end half a century of violations against Palestinians.”

“The international community must ban the import of all goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements and put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fueled mass human rights violations against Palestinians,” Amnesty stated.

The group announced it was launching a campaign to mark this week’s 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, to urge governments to take this long overdue step.

Lawns and swimming pools

For decades, the world has stood by as Israel has destroyed Palestinians’ homes and plundered their land and natural resources for profit,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said. “While the Palestinian economy has been stunted by 50 years of abusive policies, a thriving multimillion dollar settlement enterprise has been built out of the systematic oppression of the Palestinian population.”

Shetty described a “discriminatory and criminal settlement policy that enables Israeli settlers to live on stolen land in homes with irrigated lawns and swimming pools, while Palestinian communities on their doorstep are deprived of access to enough clean water or electricity to cover their basic needs.”

“Israel has made it abundantly clear that maintaining and expanding settlements takes priority over respect for international law,” Shetty added. “It’s time for the world to send a clear message that it will no longer tolerate the Israeli authorities’ blatant disregard for international law.”

Amnesty’s statement comes more than a year after Human Rights Watch called on businesses to end all activities in or with Israeli settlements.

Human Rights Watch also urged governments to withhold aid to Israel.

Amnesty’s position arguably goes further, by urging governments to ban the importation of settlement goods outright.

This is in line with a growing consensus among international law experts and jurists that trade with Israeli settlements violates international law.

But campaigners face strong opposition from governments that continue to support trade with settlements.

European complicity

The 28-member European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner, has imposed minimal requirements that goods from settlements be accurately labeled.

But the EU’s top envoy in Tel Aviv last year declared that settlement products were still “welcome” in European markets.

Emboldened by such complicity, Israel continues to aggressively expand its colonies on stolen Palestinian land, all of which are illegal under international law.

“It is utterly shocking that, since the occupation began 50 years ago, there has been virtually total impunity for the decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Amnesty’s Shetty said.

The group’s endorsement of a total ban on settlement goods is a welcome, if belated, step in bringing Israel and the governments complicit with such crimes to account.

Woman arrested in France for T-shirt critical of Israel

Undeterred by arrest of an activist at march days earlier, members of BDS France wear “illegal” t-shirts calling for the boycott of Israel, during a protest outside Airbnb’s office in Paris on 10 March. (Courtesy of BDS France)

France has ratcheted up its draconian repression of free speech about Palestine with the arrest of a woman for wearing a T-shirt supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The activist was taking part in a march for International Women’s Day in Paris last Sunday when undercover police swooped in and detained her for wearing a piece of clothing with the words “Boycott Apartheid Israel” printed on it.

According to the newspaper L’Humanité, officers from the Renseignements Généraux, the intelligence service of the French police, were involved in monitoring the demonstration in which numerous social justice and leftist groups took part.

France remains under the state of emergency severely limiting public freedoms that was declared after last November’s atrocities by suspected Islamic State extremists who killed 130 people in Paris.

The young woman was taken to Paris’ 3rd district police station for questioning.

Hundreds of marchers halted their procession and demonstrated loudly outside the police station for an hour until she was released, as a video posted on Facebook and this clip tweeted by a march participant show:

Political repression

The woman has been summoned back to the police station for questioning at 2pm on Monday on suspicion of “inciting hatred by reason of [national] origin, through writing,” according to L’Humanité.

Supporters are planning to demonstrate outside the police station at that time.

The feminist collective 8 Mars Pour TouTEs denounced the arrest and pledged support for the activist and for the BDS movement.

The arrest was evidence of the “criminalization of political struggles,” the group said, vowing to mount strong solidarity in response to “the police state and political and racist repression.”

The left-wing grouping Ensemble has condemned the arrest, describing it as a consequence of the “security climate” in France.

The Palestine solidarity group BDS France noted that the day after the arrest, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told a dinner hosted by the Israel lobby group CRIF that “anti-Zionism is nothing more than a synonym for anti-Semitism and the hatred of Israel.”

“Today, politicians who support the Israeli apartheid regime are out of arguments,” BDS France said in a statement.

“They conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and terrorism, and take all the Jews of the world hostage, stubbornly insisting that they become accomplices of the war crimes and apartheid of a state which is foreign to them,” BDS France added.

The campaign group said that with the growing global success of BDS, “a nonviolent, anti-racist citizen movement for the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people,” Israel and its allies in the French government had no recourse but to try to smear it as anti-Semitic.

Court rulings and government decrees have outlawed calls to boycott Israeli goods, prompting defiance from French civil society.

Undeterred

BDS France is also vowing not to fold under government repression.

On Thursday, dozens of activists handed in an international petition at the Paris offices of Airbnb to protest the company’s profiting from the renting out of vacation homes in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

As the photos published by BDS France show, the activists were proudly wearing their “Boycott Israeli Apartheid” T-shirts.

On Saturday, activists will hold rallies all over France against the state of emergency. An action alert from BDS France urges supporters to wear their T-shirts at those marches too.

End all business in Israeli settlements, says Human Rights Watch

Palestinian working in settlement factories receive $2 per hour, a third of Israel’s minimum wage.

Human Rights Watch is calling on all corporations to completely end their business activities in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem.

In a report published Tuesday, the New York-based group is also urging governments to withhold aid to Israel.

“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources,” Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights division at Human Rights Watch, said in a press release.

“The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with and in Israeli settlements,” Ganesan added.

The report, “Occupation, Inc.: How Settlement Businesses Contribute to Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Rights,” will likely enrage Israel.

It will also prove a useful tool for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to explain to companies why they must end their complicity in Israel’s crimes.

This is the case even though Human Rights Watch insists it is “not calling for a consumer boycott of settlement companies, but rather for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities by ceasing settlement-related activities.”

According to the report, more than half a million Israelis live in 237 settlements across the occupied West Bank.

The only way is out

With its sweeping new recommendation, Human Rights Watch is departing from its earlier position that firms could “mitigate” the damage of doing business in settlements without necessarily pulling out completely.

Human Rights Watch now concludes that “the context of human rights abuse to which settlement business activity contributes is so pervasive and severe” that companies must end all activities in the settlements, including construction of housing or infrastructure and providing services such as waste disposal.

“They should also stop financing, administering, trading with or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure,” the report states.

The 162-page report examines in detail the ways businesses benefit from and contribute to Israel’s grave abuses of Palestinian rights, sometimes amounting to war crimes.

These include: benefitting from Israeli discrimination which allows companies to exploit Palestinian resources and workers; benefitting from and participating in the theft of land from Palestinian individuals and communities; assisting Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian economy; and making the settlements more viable by providing them with services and paying taxes to their municipalities.

Crushing Palestinian development

Israel’s colonization is also predicated on favoring development in Jewish settlements while actively suppressing Palestinian economic opportunities.

The report provides a strong refutation to frequent Israeli claims that settlement businesses should be tolerated or even celebrated because they provide employment and development for Palestinians.

It cites, for instance, a World Bank estimate that the Palestinian economy could generate an additional $3.4 billion – a 35 percent boost in GDP – if Israel lifted its discriminatory restrictions on Palestinian economic activity.

Similarly, economists have estimated that up to 200,000 jobs would be created if Palestinians were allowed to farm the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley, most of which Israel has seized for the exclusive use of settlers.

Near the Bethlehem-area village of Beit Fajjar, Human Rights Watch says, Israel has refused to license Palestinian-owned quarries and constantly harasses businesses by confiscating their equipment.

As a result of such policies, jobs are scarce.

Ibrahim, a local worker, told researchers that “If I would find work in Beit Fajjar, I would leave the settlements in the morning.”

By contrast, Israel has licensed a dozen Israeli-run quarries on confiscated Palestinian land.

One of them, Nahal Raba, is run by the German company HeidelbergCement, helping Israel violate international law that prohibits the theft of resources from an occupied territory.

Stealing land

In a case study of a 96-unit development in the Ariel settlement, the report cites the role of the US-based global real estate franchise RE/MAX and an Israeli bank in financing, marketing and profiting from the illegal colonization of Palestinian land.

It also describes the devastating impact Ariel and its ever-growing extensions has had on the villages whose land has been stolen for their development.

By supporting such housing developments, the report states, firms like RE/MAX and the Israeli bank “help the illegal settlements in the West Bank to function as viable housing markets, enabling the government to transfer settlers there.”

This transfer is a crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Human Rights Watch does not name the bank in its case study, stressing that the companies profiled in the report are examples among hundreds doing business in the settlements.

However the official marketing brochure for Green Ariel, the development mentioned in the report, offers mortgages from Mizrahi Tefahot Bank.

This is one of 5 big Israeli banks from which several major pension funds have recently divested because of their role in financing settlements.

“I don’t sell to Arabs”

Businesses financing, selling and promoting settlements are also active participants in Israel’s officially endorsed system of anti-Palestinian racism.

“Given the character of settlements as almost exclusively Jewish and the rules that effectively bar Palestinian residents of the West Bank from living there, agents selling property there effectively contribute to discrimination against Palestinians,” Human Rights Watch states.

The report cites Israeli sources confirming that separate and unequal development is the raison d’etre of the settlement enterprise; the government-backed World Zionist Organization Settlement Division has said, for instance, that colonization of the West Bank is aimed at “strengthening Jewish settlement in the country’s periphery.”

“I don’t buy from or sell to Arabs. It’s not racism, I just prefer not to deal with [them],” one RE/MAX agent who lists settlement properties in occupied East Jerusalem told Human Rights Watch.

It seems clear that such agents work a discriminatory system both knowingly and willfully.

Exploiting workers

Human Rights Watch also focuses on an Israeli company that produced bed linens for a US retailer in the Barkan Industrial Zone, a West Bank settlement built on land confiscated from Palestinian owners.

It is one of approximately 20 Israeli-run industrial zones in the occupied West Bank where companies can move to avoid environmental regulations.

This company paid Palestinian workers much less than the Israeli minimum wage, taking advantage of the fact that Israel’s labor laws have not been enforced for Palestinian workers in the settlements.

Palestinian women received $2 per hour and said they did not receive vacation, sick days or overtime.

Human Rights Watch did not name the company “because it has since relocated from Barkan to Israel.”

However, the description provided fits a company called Royalife, which markets its linens through the US retailer Pottery Barn.

Hani, a Palestinian university student from Salfit village, worked at a factory in Barkan making Hanukkah candles.

He told Human Rights Watch that he worked 12-hour shifts with a single 30-minute break.

He received $2 per hour, a third of Israel’s minimum wage.

The fact that Palestinian workers are totally dependent on Israeli occupation authorities for work permits makes it all but impossible for Palestinians to effectively challenge these abusive conditions.

Human Rights Watch says the reality belies claims by settlers and their supporters that places like Barkan are models of “coexistence” that build “bridges to peace.”

This kind of pro-settlement propaganda is regularly promoted by liberal Zionists in the US, including Jewish Daily Forward editor Jane Eisner.

In defending Sodastream’s settlement factory, Eisner’s newspaper insisted that the company was providing “well-paying jobs” for Palestinians and was not “profiting from the occupation.”

But such “rosy sentiments ignore the deeply discriminatory environment in which settlement businesses operate, and Palestinian workers’ vulnerability to abuse,” Human Rights Watch states.

Withhold aid to Israel

Among its recommendations, Human Rights Watch urges states to “avoid offsetting the costs of Israeli government expenditures on settlements by withholding funding given to the Israeli government in an amount equivalent to its expenditures on settlements and related infrastructure in the West Bank.”

Given the billions it is estimated to spend on settlements, that would all but wipe out aid to Israel.

This call for cutting aid is not likely to please the Obama administration, which regularly boasts that no US administration has been more generous to Israel.

Before he leaves office next January, President Barack Obama hopes to conclude a deal that could see annual US military subsidies to Israel boosted by up to 50 percent.

And while the European Union recently took the minimal step of requiring accurate labeling of settlement goods, the 28-member bloc has continued to generously fund Israel, including its military research and its settlements.

Indeed, staunch Israeli allies, including Greece’s left-wing Syriza government, are actively trying to undermine the already weak labeling policy.

Amid such destructive complicity, the call by Human Rights Watch to end all settlement business is a welcome, if belated, move in the right direction.

It provides a clear endorsement and boost for those who have been working for years to bring real and effective pressure on Israel and its accomplices to end their crimes.

 

Alice Walker disinvited from University of Michigan over ‘Israel comments’

110617-alice-walker.jpg

Alice Walker speaks in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

(Lazar Simeonov / TEDxRamallah)

Calling the withdrawn invitation “Censorship by Purse String,” Walker wrote, “Such behavior, as evidenced by the donors, teaches us our weakness, which should eventually (and soon) show us our strength: women must be in control of our own finances. Not just in the family, but in the schools, work force, and everywhere else. Until we control this part of our lives, our very choices, in any and every area, can be denied us.”

Walker is listed as one of the speakers represented by the American Program Bureau agency.

Alice Walker not “optimum choice”

Gloria D. Thomas, director of the Center for the Education of Women, acknowledged that Walker had been disinvited, but said that the matter was a “misunderstanding.” In an email to The Electronic Intifada, Thomas wrote:

The [Walker’s] blog was a result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. As director of the Center for the Education of Women (CEW), I decided to withdraw our invitation because I didn’t think Ms. Walker would be our optimum choice for our 50th anniversary.

Our 50th anniversary funding is assured. All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech. In fact, in a conversation with one of Ms. Walker’s friends/representatives, I indicated that I would be willing to speak with other units around campus to serve as a possible co-sponsor for a lecture by Ms. Walker in the near future.

Asked if a speaker had been chosen to replace Walker, Thomas wrote, “No contract has been signed yet. This information will be made available on our website once the contract is confirmed.”

Walker: supporter of Palestinian rights

In recent years, Walker has become increasingly outspoken in her support of Palestinian rights, sometimes likening Israel’s abuses to the Jim Crow racist system she grew up with in the southern United States.

Walker has written about her visit to Gaza, and participated in the June 2011 solidarity flotilla that attempted to reach the territory besieged by Israel, which led to her beingdemonized by the Israeli army.

Her position on boycott has also been deliberately distorted by Israeli media.

Walker has campaigned for other artists, most recently Alicia Keys, to respect the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

In her letter to Keys, Walker wrote:

I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own.

Could Walker, one of the most celebrated figures in American letters, now be paying the price of refusing to be silent about Palestine?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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