Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘(BDS)

Good progress in Boycott, Sanction and Divest Israel businesses in the West Bank

This Palestinian movement, along with all movements confronting apartheid and racism and colonial powers exploitation, has earned a victory in Germany judicial system

الوليد خالد يحيى (Al walid Khaled Ya7ya)

كاتب صحفي

انتصار جديد تحققه حركة مقاطعة “إسرائيل” وسحب الاستثمارات منها “BDS ولكن هذه المرّة في أروقة المحاكم الألمانيّة،

يُضاف إلى سلسلة من الانتصارات الماديّة والمعنويّة التي تحققها الحركة في الميادين الاقتصاديّة والثقافيّة والأكاديميّة حول العالم.

وأفضى قرار لمحكمة في العاصمة برلين يوم 3 آب/ أغسطس الجاري، إلى تبرئة النشطاء ماجد أبو سلامة، وروني باركان وستافيت سيناي، من تهمة “الاعتداء” التي كانت صلب موضوع دعوة رفعتها إحدى منظمات اللوبي الصهيوني في ألمانيا، إثر رفعهم شعاراتـ وصراخهم بهتافات،

خلال مشاركة عضو الكنيست “أليزا لافي” في ندوة حول حقوق المثلييين بجامعة هومبولت في حزيران/ يونيو 2019، حيث تعتبر مشاركتها في وعي المُقاطعة تجميلاً لصورة كيان عنصري استعماري احلالي.

كسب معركة ضد اللوبي الصهيوني

انتصار قانوني على دعوة اللوبي الصهيوني، عزز “حشره في الزاوية الضيّقة” وهو تعبير الناشط في حركة المقاطعة ماجد أبو سلامة، دلل به في حديث لـ” بوابة اللاجئين الفلسطينيين” على أهمية هذا الانتصار على جماعات الضغط الصهيونية، التي يشهد نشاطها المعادي لحركة المقاطعة في ألمانيا، تكاثفاً مدعوماً بميزانيات وخطط وإمكانيات، سخّرها كيان الاحتلال ضد الحركة، التي باتت تمثّل خلال السنوات الأخيرة، مصدر قلق كبير يعكس الصورة الحقيقية لنظام  ” الابارتايد” الإسرائيلي.

ولأنّ أليزا لافي أيضاً، هي مسؤولة اللجنة الأوروبيّة التي تعمل ضد حركة المُقاطعة في أوروبا والعالم، ويسخرّ لها كيان الاحتلال ميزانيّة تقدّر بملايين الدولارات، أكسب ذلك الانتصار القانوني على الدعوةِ الصهيونية، قيمة مُضافة، فالزاوية تضيق بالفعل، وفق الناشط سلامة الذي قال: إنّ “حركة المُقاطعة باتت تشكّل خطراً حقيقياً على صورة إسرائيل في العالم، واستطاعت خلال سنواتها الـ15 الأخيرة، تكبيد دولة الاحتلال خسائر بمليارات الدولارات، وتجريدها من الكثير من الاستثمارات، وإفقادها الكثير من التعاون الأكاديمي والثقافي والفنّي”.

“إسرائيل دولة مُلاحقة من كل الشعوب الحرة”

التضييقات على حركة المُقاطعة تُعزز صحوتها

ويعتبر الناشط ماجد أبو سلامة، أنّ جملة التضييقات التي تتعرّض لها حركة المقاطعة من قبل اللوبي الصهيوني الفاعل في أوروبا، تُعزز من صحوتها، وتدفع المزيد إلى الانضام إليها والتفاعل معها، وهو ما انعكس خلال مجريات المُحاكمة، التي شهدت تجمّعاً لمئات الناشطين من الفلسطينيين والعرب والمتضامنين الأجانب،

وبعضهم قَدِموا من عدّة دول أوروبيّة للوقوف إلى جانب النشطاء خلال مُحاكمتهم، مُضيفاً :” هذا يدلل على أنّ اسرائيل دولة مُلاحقة من الشعوب الحرة في كل أنحاء العالم، فالطلبة بالجامعات يصوتون ضد أي علاقة لجامعاتهم مع إسرائيل، و في محاكمتنا كان من اللوبي الصهيوني 7 أشخاص، بينما معنا وقف أكثر من 150 ناشطاً من أحزاب ومجموعات حقوقية ألمانيّة، والكثير من النشطاء المتضامنين الذين جاؤوا من دول اوروبية متعددة للوقوف معنا ضد المحاكمة”.

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دفعة أمل والمزيد من القوة والشجاعة والإصرار على مواصلة النضال في ظل التضييق الاستثنائي على نشاط حركة المُقاطعة، هو ما أعطاه هذا الإنجاز القانوني للحركة، فحجم الضغط على النشاط الداعم للحق الفلسطيني في ألمانيا، لا يقتصر فقط على  حكومة الاحتلال،

بل إنّ الحكومة الألمانيّة باتت تعمل كـ”دولة ثانوية” لحكومة الاحتلال وفق الناشط أبو سلامة، من خلال تضييقها على الجالية الفلسطينية والعربيّة وكل صوت حر يحاول أن يدافع عن حقوق الشعب الفلسطيني ويعرّي الاحتلال “هذا الانتصار القانوني ضيّق على اللوبي الصهيوني، وهو كان بمثابة دعوة لشعبنا الفلسطيني والجالية العربية هنا وكل حر،

أنّ يستغل الميزات الموجودة عنده، وأن يخصص وقتاً للقتال والنضال من أجل حقوق شعبنا المسلوبة” حسبما أضاف.

لسنا مُتهّمين إنّما نُلاحق مجرمي الحرب

ولعلّ ما يُلفت الانتباه في هذه المُحاكمة للنشطاء، ويبرز جانباً آخراً لأهميّة نتيجتها، يكمن أيضاً في تحويلهم لها إلى محكمة لمجرمي الحرب الصهاينة، وفضح جرائمهم وتعريتهم ومُلاحقتهم، لا سيّما أنّ أليزا لافي واحدة من مجرمي الحرب الصهاينة المسؤولين عن جريمة العدوان على قطاع غزّة عام 2014 والتي أفضت إلى مجازر ضد الإنسانيّة، بشغلها حينذاك منصب عضو “لجنة الدفاع” التي أقرّت العدوان.

“لم نتعامل مع المحكمة بصفتنا متهمين بل سلطنا الضوء على جرائم الاحتلال”

يقول أبو سلامة لـ”بوابة اللاجئين الفلسطينيين”: “نحن تعاملنا مع المحكمة ليس بصفتنا متهمين، نحن رفضنا أن نتحدث عن مسألة اعتراضنا أو دخولنا على ندوة اللوبي الصهيوني في ألمانيا، في محاولة منا لتسليط الضوء على جرائم هذه المجرمة، وتسليط الضوء على صورة اسرائيل المجرمة المنتهكة لحقوقنا بشكل مستمر السارقة لأراضينا،

ولنؤكد على أنّ هذه المقاومة و الثورة مستمرة” مُضيفاً: “نحن معنيون أنّ يشعر هؤلاء المجرمون بالخوف والتوتر، وأن يشعروا بإحساس أهلنا بكل فلسطين، هذا الإحساس الذي نحاول أن نعززه ونحيط به الصهاينة”.

نسعى لملاحقة مجرمي الحرب

ماباتت تشكلّه حركة المقاطعة “BDS” على الكيان الصهيوني، لا يظهره فقط جحم الضغوطات التي تمارسها حكومة الاحتلال على نشطاء الحركة في كل أصقاع الأرض، وخصوصاً في أوروبا حيث تتواطأ بعض الحكومات معها بشكل جلي، إنّما أيضاً بما حققته من إنجازات موجعة، وتحقيقها خروقات كبيرة في الوعي العالمي، إزاء طبيعة كيان الاحتلال العنصريّة الإجراميّة.

بهذا الصدد، يقول ماجد أبو سلامة لـ”بوابة اللاجئين الفلسطينيين” إنّ أهم ما يميّز حراك المُقاطعة، ليس فقط مُقاطعة “إسرائيل” ومُقاطعة بضائع المستوطنات فحسب، بل لكونه حراكاً شاملاً يسعى لتكريس حالة المُقاطعة الاقتصاديّة عبر الحضّ على سحب الاستثمارات من كيان الاحتلال، وفرض عقوبات عليه، وإحداث أوسع نطاق من المُقاطعة الثقافية والفكرية والأكاديمية، فضلاً عن مُلاحقة مُجرمي الحرب وفضحهم.

وتنطلق فكرة النضال في صفوف الحركة، من أنّ فلسطين عنوان للحق والعدالة، وبالتالي :”نحن ننطلق من هذه الفكرة بصراعنا ضد كل من ينتهك العدالة وحقوق الإنسان وأي فعل إجرامي في دولة مثل دولة الابرتايد الإسرائيلي التي تتعامل بنظام عرقي عنصري” يقول أبو سلامة.

 ويشير إلى عدّة انتصارات حققتها الحركة من ضمن الكثير ومنها :” انتصار بجامعة ساوس في بريطانيا، وجامعة مانشستر التي سحبت كل استثماراتها من إسرائيل”.

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الكثير من الانجازات التي حققتها حركة المُقاطعة، جعلتها بمثابة “أكبر خطر استراتيجي على اسرائيل” وفق الناشط أبو سلامة، “وصارت خزّاناً للأمل والمقاومة، وأهم تفرّعات الثورة الفلسطينية في الداخل والخارج” حسبما أضاف.

BDS” نشاط فاعليته بوعيه ولا مركزيته

لا يتسّم نشاط حركة مُقاطعة ” إسرائيل” وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض عقوبات عليها “BDS” بالعشوائيّة، رغم اللامركزيّة في عملها، الذي يبدو أنّه أحد عوامل قوّتها وانتشارها، ويوفّر لمجموعاتها ونُشطائها، الحركيّة الميدانيّة الحرّة والمؤثّرة في أيّ مكان وكلّ زمان، يتقرر فيه القيام بنشاط ما ضد المصالح الصهيونية.

يوضح ماجد أبو سلامة لـ”بوابة اللاجئين الفلسطينيين” أسلوب عمل الحركة، لافتاً إلى أنّه يعتمد على الوعي والفهم والدراية لأهداف الحركة ومنطلقاتها التي يعرضها بيان الحركة المُقرّ سنة 2005، ويقول:” نحن شبكة من الناس الذين يعملون بشكل لا مركزي، ولنا إطار فعلي إداري يتتبّع سير الأنشطة” لكنّه يشير إلى أنّ الانضمام إلى المجموعة لا يحتاج إلى تقديم طلب أو الخضوع إلى هيكلية تنظيميّة، بل يكفي لأي إنسان حر أو مجموعة أو عائلة، أن تشكّل نفسها ضمن أفكار ووعي الحركة، وتبدأ بنشاطها في مكانها تجاه أي شركة أو مؤسسة تتعامل مع الاحتلال.

” حركة المقاطعة باتت تنتمي الى أسرة ضخمة في العالم”

ويضيف أبو سلامة، أنّ عدم مركزيّة الحركة، لا يعني أنّها حركة غير منظّمة، ويوضّح في هذا الصدد قائلاً:” إنّ في الحركة أجنحة تجتمع بشكل شهري، وكل جناح أو مجموعة، يضم عشرات الشبّان والفتياة وكبار السن من الناشطين اجتماعيّاً وسياسياً وحقوقيّاً حول العالم، ولدينا مئات المجموعات على مستوى أوروبا”.

ويلفت الناشط المقيم في ألمانيا، إلى أنّ حركة المقاطعة باتت تنتمي الى أسرة ضخمة في العالم، وصار لها شرعية من أحزاب ونقابات واتحادات في دول عديدة، مشيراً إلى تبني اتحاد العمّال في النرويج لوثيقة الحركة، والذي ممكن أن يكون ذلك خطّاً تسير عليه العديد من المؤسسات والمجموعات أن تتبنى الوثيقة وتعمل على أساسها.

حملاتٌ سنويّة تخوضها حركة المُقاطعة بشكل دوري، وتصب بشكل أساسي ضد الشركات التي تتعامل عسكريّاً مع كيان الاحتلال الصهيوني في مجال الأسلحة أو طائرات الاستطلاع وسواها من تقنيات تستخدم لأغراض حربيّة، إضافة إلى الشركات التي تتعاون مع الاحتلال في سرقة الأراضي والموارد الطبيعية الفلسطينية، أو التي تسعى لتجميل صورة الاحتلال فنيّاً وثقافيّاً.

BDS أبطلت بيع أكثر من 10 آلاف تذكرة لمهرجان يوروفيجن في تل أبيب”

ويشير الناشط أبو سلامة، إلى نشاط الحركة ضد تنظيم الاحتلال لمسابقة ” يورو فيجن” الفنيّة كأحد الأمثلة، وتمكّنت حينها من إبطال بيع أكثر من 10 آلاف تذكرة لحضور المهرجان الغنائي الأوروبي الشهير الذي أقيمت فعالياته في تل أبيب في أيّار/ مايو 2019.

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وينوّه كذلك، إلى حالة الوعي التي شكلّتها حركة المُقاطعة، من” خلال الناس الواعية بأهمية السلاح الفلسطيني الذي انطلق من فلسطين و تبناه كل حر في كل انحاء العالم” وفق أبو سلامة، لافتاً إلى أنّ ما تعمل وفقه الحركة من وعي كبير واستناد إلى معلومات ومعطيات وابحاث وتعميم الدراية بعملها وأهميّته لدى نشطائها، يشكّل لكيان الاحتلال اشكاليّة كبيرة.

ويختم حديثه مع موقعنا :” نحن بعلمنا نحاول أن نكون واضحين، وأن يكون هناك بحث وكمية معلومات ضخمة تمكّن من يناضل معنا من امتلاك وعي كافٍ، فحركة المقاطعة نضال واعي وهذا ما يخيف دولة الأبارتايد،

وعي يشترك به كل الأحرار، سواء الفلسطينيين الذين يحركهم انتماؤهم إلى فلسطين، أو الدوليين الذين يتحرّكون بايمانهم للفكرة ومركزيّة فلسطين في صراعنا الأممي ضد الاستعمار والإمبريالية والصراع من أجل إسترجاع الحق”.

University of Sydney academics back BDS, as Israel guns down protesters

Dozens of academics at the University of Sydney have declared their support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, reported the Australian.

According to the paper, the move comes as a response to the lethal crackdown by Israeli occupation forces on Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

The Australian notes that signatories to the BDS pledge say they “will not attend conferences sponsored by Israeli universities, participate in academic exchange schemes, or otherwise collaborate professionally with Israeli universities until the stated goals have been fulfilled.”

The BDS campaign, describes the paper, is an international movement “inspired by the success of boycotts in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa”.

Activists attend a pro BDS march [Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr]

Nick Riemer, a senior lecturer in English and linguistics at the University of Sydney and a member of its BDS group, said “the response from fellow academics was encouraging” and expressed his hope that the pledge would spread to other Australian universities.

“People are already talking at Melbourne about the possibility of something like this,” he said.

According to the Sydney BDS website, some 40 academics have currently endorsed the pledge.

Read: Israel government moves to gag professors who back BDS

Note: Israeli snipers shot with live bullets Palestinians, marching every Friday, for their return to their previous villages and towns they were transferred from into Gaza, this vast open camp. Over 3,000 have been injured last month, mostly in the legs. Over 30 died.

The Insult: Six points toward clarification

Note: I watched the talk of Ziad Doueiri on ARTE, but didn’t have the opportunity to see the movie

 on 

Controversy has arisen in recent weeks over the 2017 film, The Insult [Qadiat raqm 23(Case #23)], Lebanon’s submission to the 2018 Academy Awards.

The film’s director, Ziad Doueiri, who also directed West Beirut [À l’abri les enfants] (Sheltered Children)] (1998), is a proponent of Israeli normalization, a political strategy by and large rejected by Palestinians and their allies because its position concerning the Israeli occupation of historic Palestine entails an unacceptable compromise with Zionism.

(Israel is a colonial State, created by our existential enemy the US Evangelical Zionists)

Normalization not only accepts a Jewish presence in the region–something to which most proponents of either the one- or two-state solution would agree–but consents to its continuation in the form of Zionist hegemony.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) supporters, who reject normalization, are calling for a boycott of The Insult, not only because, in line with normalization tactics, it was made with Zionist funding, but because Doueiri “previously lived and worked with Zionists while making [his 2012 film] The Attack (Mada Masr, 1 Feb. 2018), a pro-Israeli take on suicide bombers, and used an Israeli production company to help fund it (Dina Abumaria, 29 Oct. 2017).

For these activists, boycotting The Insult is consistent with the divestment aspect of the BDS Call.

The Insult presents us with a sophistical narrative structure.

Its story is self-consciously organized into multiple allegorical layers, the meaning and significance of which are intentionally obscured and bound up with specious reasoning that distorts and exploits the historical record.

In an attempt to counter the resulting confusion, I supply below six straightforward, interconnected analytic points regarding the film. 

These points are meant to underscore, through clarification, the dual fact that The Insult is a vehicle of Zionist propaganda (hasbara) and that director Doueiri has collaborated with Zionists in its making, in an effort to forward the normalization agenda which he evidently supports.

1) Although The Insult is structured as an allegory, the moral of its story turns on the Damour massacre of 1976, the film’s attribution of which to Palestinian forces, who were in fact operating in concert with the Lebanese left during an active military conflict–the Lebanese Civil War–is presented completely out of historical context.

In turn, the massive Israeli bombing of Palestinian-controlled Damour in 1982, eight months prior to the genocidal Sabra and Shatila massacre perpetrated by ultra-nationalist Maronites with Israeli approval and support, is never mentioned.

As a result, the Sabra and Shatila massacre implicitly becomes an understandable act of Maronite revenge for the Damour massacre, while Maronite collaboration with Zionism in this crucial context is downplayed.

By this tack, Palestinian refugees and ultra-nationalist Maronites are positioned as moral equivalents, while the right-wing view is retained of Palestinians as foreigners who are prone to instigate violence and who should therefore be deported from (or at least not permitted socio-economic integration into) Lebanon–rather than as loyal opponents of fascism who in fact struggled historically in solidarity with the Lebanese left against the disproportionately overwhelming violence perpetrated by Maronite ultra-nationalists and their Israeli allies during the period in question.

2) This positioning of the two main parties to the film’s narrative conflict as morally equivalent is easily belied by the film’s own dramatic structure, in which the right-wing Maronite character, protagonist Tony Hanna (Adel Karam), is portrayed as three-dimensional and psychologically complex, his personal struggle positioned at the film’s dramatic center, while the Palestinian character, antagonist Yasser Abdallah Salameh (Kamal El Basha), serves basically as his foil and as such is portrayed in a more simplified manner.

3) Likewise in typical hasbara fashion, The Insult reinforces the stereotypical view of excessive violence as somehow inherent to Arab men, and of an exotic passivity as inherent to Arab women.

Both Yasser and Tony are portrayed, albeit in differing ways, as irrational and unable to control their tempers, whereas their wives, Manal Salameh (Christine Choueiri) and Shirine Hanna (Rita Hayek), are portrayed as sympathetic and emotionally intuitive.

Likewise, the female attorney, Nadine Wehbe (Diamand Bou Abboud), who defends Yasser in a lawsuit brought against him by Tony, is portrayed as calm and receptive, while Tony’s male attorney, Wajdi Wehbe (Camille Salameh), is portrayed as verbally abusive and interruptive.

Similarly, a group of Palestinian males depicted protesting the trial outside the courthouse are depicted as immature and thuggish–in this instance as no better than the Maronite ultra-nationalist males with whom they spar; moreover, women play no role in such apparent political spectacles.

Together, these tactics serve to reinforce the moral equivalency discourse, in this instance along conventional gender lines, while naturalizing the film’s core conflict through racist ideology.

4) The Insult nonetheless purports a feminist sensibility, in that Nadine ultimately wins her legal case.  Yet the film’s feminism is  contradicted not only by the elements in point #3 above.

Nadine wins her case with the surreptitious help of Wajdi, who early on is revealed to be her father.  Wajdi’s male pride will not permit him to lose his case, so he decides to manipulate the proceedings, at once bringing about the “realization” of moral equivalence and the acquittal of his daughter’s client.

His paternalism not only reinforces patriarchy but a sense that the moral high ground belongs to the political Right:  Wajdi is a well-known litigator on behalf of the Maronite ultra-nationalist cause.

5) In line with this right-wing slant, when political-economic factors in The Insult‘s narrative conflict are raised, they serve merely as background for dissimulating the film’s Zionist undercurrents rather than for genuinely analyzing the situation in Lebanon. 

For example, we are given to know superficially that Tony is unemployed and cannot find affordable housing under neo-liberal conditions of urban gentrification, whereas Yasser works for a construction company that is actively facilitating that gentrification–a symptomatically unexplored allegorical reference to the situation of economically challenged Israeli settlers, on the one hand, and the Palestinians whom they are displacing, and who are often compelled, under such conditions, to work for Israeli construction companies, on the other hand, that is never made explicit in the context of the trial which comprises the film’s central drama.

 In effect, The Insult projects an Israeli predicament onto Lebanon–and resolves it ideologically in a direction amenable to Zionism and condescending, damaging–insulting–to Arabs.

6) None of the above is surprising.  At least two of The Insult‘s production companies, Cohen Media Group and Ezekiel Film Productions, are of dubious ideological-political origin. 

Both produce slick “world cinema” fare intended primarily for international film festival and art house audiences and not for populations indigenous to third and fourth world countries in which many of their films’ narratives are set.

Making films for distribution on the world cinema circuit is a common tactic of hasbara tactic, the aim of which is to persuade international audiences of the correctness of Zionist perspectives.

Cohen Media Group is a New York-based company whose founder, real estate magnate Charles S. Cohen, was awarded the 2002 Israel Peace Medal for having raised an all-time record $52.4 million in donations to the State of Israel Bonds, and was also honored for his “humanitarian” and community service by the pro-Zionist organization, B’nai Brith International.

Ezekiel Film Production’s main website is devoid of transparency, and its secondary website lists it as yet another U.S. company based in Los Angeles, where Cohen Media Group also has offices.

Another of the film’s production companies, Rouge International, is based in France and produces world cinema fare, as does Tessalit Films, which is listed as both based in France and as a Weinstein company with offices in New York City, as well as Scope Pictures, which is based in Brussels.

Insofar as the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rarely honors films from the Arab world on (prejudicial) account of their presumed anti-Zionism or that of their makers, it is little wonder that The Insult was selected for submission to this year’s competition. 

One wonders who will fund Doueiri’s next film project, which is rumored to be an all-out condemnation of BDS.

Comment:  Why Doueiri believed he needed to shoot a short section in Israel? Because in bad times, al tatbee3 shi thanaweh wa ma bte7rez al tafkeer? The fact that Israel (our existential enemy) allowed Ziad to shoot there means that he and the film serve its propaganda interests

Hundreds of British artists announcing:

We are culturally boycotting Israel

Some 700 British artists pledged to boycott Israel on Saturday in reaction to what they termed “the Palestinian catastrophe,” the British newspaper Guardian reported on Saturday.

The artists, who include Roger Waters, Brian Eno, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Richard Ashcroft, and others, pledged that they “will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel.”

Paul Meers shared this link

BDS Is a thing, and it’s happening, and it’s legal.

Latest initiative is a reaction to what they termed “the Palestinian catastrophe” in Gaza.
jpost.com
 “We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government,” the letter read

“Now we are saying, in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Ashkelon or Ariel, we won’t play music, accept awards, attend exhibitions, festivals or conferences, run masterclasses or workshops, until Israel respects international law and ends its colonial oppression of the Palestinians,” the letter reads.

The initiative is known as Artists for Palestine. A full list of the cultural figures who signed on to the boycott is available here.

Note: The boycott BDS of Israel products generated in Palestinian occupied territory is gaining widespread appeal and many governments are trying to enact laws claiming that BDS is illegal

 

“Defining political issue of our time”:

NYU grad student union overwhelmingly votes to boycott Israel over violations of Palestinian human rights

BDS is an international grassroots movement that uses peaceful economic means to pressure Israel into complying with international law and respecting Palestinian human rights. The campaign was called for by Palestinian civil society and by major trade unions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

NYU Graduate Student Organizing Committee is first private university labor union to support  ‪#‎BDS‬, as movement grows

Remi Kanazi shared this link

NYU Graduate Student Organizing Committee is first private university labor union to support BDS, as movement grows
t.co|By Ben Norton

Graduate students at New York University have overwhelmingly voted to boycott Israel in protest of its violation of Palestinian human rights.

Exactly two-thirds of voting members of the graduate student union the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, or GSOC-UAW 2110, supported a referendum on Friday that calls for New York University and United Auto Workers International to withdraw their investments from Israeli state institutions and international corporations complicit in violations of Palestinian human and civil rights.

At least 645 union members participated in the vote. An additional 57 percent of voting members pledged to uphold the academic boycott of Israel, refraining from participating in research and academic programs sponsored by institutions funded by the Israeli government.

The union says this “was an unusually large membership turnout, a testament to union democracy.” It explained in a statement that the vote took place after a period of “vigorous debate and engagement with the union among wide layers of graduate workers.”

“After months of mass mobilization and a four-day election, GSOC members have taken a clear stand for justice in Palestine,” explained Shafeka Hashash, a member of the union’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, caucus.

“This historic endorsement of BDS by GSOC at NYU occurs in the wake of growing momentum for the movement across university campuses and labor unions nationwide,” she added.

BDS is an international grassroots movement that uses peaceful economic means to pressure Israel into complying with international law and respecting Palestinian human rights. The campaign was called for by Palestinian civil society and by major trade unions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Graduate Student Organizing Committee is a labor union representing more than 2,000 teaching assistants, adjunct instructors, research assistants and other graduate workers at New York University, or NYU. It is the first recognized graduate worker union at a private university in the U.S.

The union says its referendum vote it sets “an important precedent for both solidarity with Palestine and for union democracy.”

“In addition to bringing material gains for their members, NYU graduate students are reclaiming the union as a political platform for social justice causes,” explained Maya Wind, an Israeli activist and Ph.D. student at NYU who is a member of the union.

“Through the recent mass mobilization for justice in Palestine we have taken a stand on one of the defining political issues of our time,” she added. “The referendum success is indicative of the traction the movement is gaining across university campuses, and increasingly among graduate students.”

The referendum also calls on NYU to close its sister program in Israel’s Tel Aviv University, which the union says violates its own non-discrimination policy.

A recent U.S. State Department report acknowledged the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel,” as well as the unlawful killings, excessive force and torture people endure at the hands of the Israeli military in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

The BDS movement is growing rapidly throughout the U.S. and the world.

In the past week, at least two major graduate student unions voted to endorse a boycott of Israel. The Graduate Employee Organization at the University of Massachusetts Amherst passed a BDS resolution by referendum, as well as the City University of New York Doctoral Students Council, which approved an academic boycott measure overwhelmingly via vote.

“The impact of NYU’s referendum will not only reverberate across private academic institutions where unionization efforts have gained momentum, but across the American academy more broadly,” GSOC said in a statement.

At least 8 major U.S. academic associations have voted to boycott Israel in protest of its violation of Palestinian human rights, including the American Studies Association, the American Anthropological Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies. Many of these votes had resounding majorities in favor.

Several national unions have also made similar votes, including the United Electrical Workers union.

Despite the democratic nature of these votes, the efforts have faced huge backlash.

Legislators around the U.S. are proposing bans on boycotts of Israel, which legal experts say is unconstitutional.

When the University of California system’s graduate student union voted to endorse the BDS movement by a landslide in 2014, Salon exposed how the small pro-Israel opposition derailed the democratic process with the help of a prominent law firm that has defended powerful multinational corporations like Wal-Mart, Amazon, Apple and Chevron. Under this pressure, the United Auto Workers International Executive Board nullified the vote, even while admitting that it was thoroughly democratic.

NYU’s graduate student union also says the UAW Local 2110 Executive Board “attempted to interfere with democratic elections to union leadership bodies.” GSOC condemned union executives for having “cracked down on their own membership” in an undemocratic manner.

Ph.D. student and union member Sean Larson told Salon the local executive executive board has disqualified a large number of candidates for the leadership election, “disputing our membership criteria eligibility and the eligibility for candidates to run in both elections.”

GSOC is pushing back against the backlash. “In the fight for social justice and against repression, the BDS movement and union democracy are natural allies,” the union affirmed in a statement.

“By empowering the members themselves to speak, the emerging movement for union democracy among graduate students is helping to lead these efforts. Rank-and-file democracy is the future of the labor movement, and the labor movement can secure a vigorous future for BDS in the United States.”

Ben Norton is a politics staff writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.
Note: The picture below is for a Jew wrapping himself in a plastic bag on a plane in order Not to get contaminated by impure passengers 

يهودي متعصب يسافر بكيس على متن طائرة، خوفاً من الاحتكاك بالناس وفقدان “طهارته”. الصورة نُشرت للمرة الاولى قبل ٣ سنوات.

Hauvick Habéchian's photo.

 

Anti-Zionism does Not equal anti-Semitism: People in the Near East are catalogued Semitic too by the racist Western colonial powers

Someone please tell Hillary Clinton and the University of California

U.C. is at it again, with its deceptive attempt to thwart criticism of Israel.

. Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016

Last summer there was a flurry of activity in the University of California system as U.C. regents were pressured to suppress criticism of Israel on U.C. campuses.

One regent in favor of such silencing played a trump card: He threatened to bring his particularly well-connected partner in to add muscle.

The regent was wealthy developer Richard Blum, his wife is Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Here is what Blum said in September:

I should add that over the weekend my wife, your senior Senator, and I talked about this issue at length. She wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want.

Students that do the things that have been cited here today probably ought to have a dismissal or a suspension from school. I don’t know how many of you feel strongly that way but my wife does and so do I.

So now a U.S. senator says she’ll use the power of her office to suspend undergraduates for speaking out against Israeli state policies?

Interesting read of her mandate.

Blum was particularly incensed because just a few months before, free speech and pro-Palestinian activists had won a victory.

As I wrote back then:

For a while it looked like on July 23 the regents of the University of California were going to adopt the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism and in some fashion or another put policies into place that would have a severe impact on what can and cannot be said about Israel on each of the 10 U.C. campuses, which together enroll some 230,000 students.

Those students, along with 190,000 faculty and staff, would all be constrained under the regents’ interpretation of the definition.

The decision would in fact be continuing a process that began in 2012, when the California House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism (HR35), and continued into this past spring, when the Senate passed a similar resolution (SCR35).

The stage was set, the momentum was there, activists and advocates on both sides were ready to march on the regents meeting in San Francisco and address the regents and U.C. president Janet Napolitano. (A former politician and a judge?

But just before the regents were to meet, it was announced that they had decided to drop the matter entirely and instead to have a discussion about “tolerance” in general at their meeting in the autumn.

Since the autumn there has been speculation as to what, exactly, the regents would vote on; how would “tolerance” be defined?

Well, now we know, and the document under discussion still shows the two main perspectives of the prior discussions. We see efforts to produce a broad and positive statement for tolerance, and also the fingerprints of those who wish to smuggle in a false and destructive equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, thereby making the University of California a place where any criticism of a certain state’s illegal policies is intolerable.

The manner in which this is done in the current draft is deceptive and underhanded.

In the main body of the text, the rightful condemnation of anti-Semitism is clear and unadorned: “In a community of learners, teachers, and knowledge-seekers, the University is best served when its leaders challenge speech and action reflecting bias, stereotypes, and/or intolerance.

Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination have no place in the University. The Regents call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and wherever they emerge within the University community.”

Fair and good.

But in the introduction to the document we find the proposal for tolerance when it comes to anti-Semitism presented this way: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

This portion of the document, separated from the section where the proposals appear, is couched as a “contextual statement.” Thus a casual reader could endorse the proposal itself while being unaware that the entire framing of the discussion of anti-Semitism is being used as a cover for silencing voices protesting state policies that might include, among other things, the continued demolition of Palestinian homes and the building of illegal settlements, which have been publicly condemned by the U.S. State Department and which are part of a Zionist project.

What this means is that if the U.C. proposal passes, the U.S. State Department can protest illegal settlements and the Occupation as a whole, but students and teachers in the U.C. system cannot.

This sleight of hand has been called out by both activist groups and mainstream news sources such as the Los Angeles Times.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom (disclosure—I am a member) states: “For the record, we wish to underscore that criticisms of Zionism are co-extensive with the history of Zionism and have from the start included Jewish voices from a variety of political and religious orientations. The inclusion of such a broad category as either intolerant or bigoted represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the political viewpoints critical of Zionism.

Many political positions, including those that favor Palestinian rights, statehood, and political self-determination, can be considered anti-Zionist although they comply with internationally accepted norms of human rights and principles of democratic self-governance.”

The Los Angeles Times editorial notes that the document

conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and says both are forms of discrimination that “have no place at the University of California.” It’s difficult to read that as anything other than a warning to those students or faculty members who have fundamental disagreements with the state of Israel. ..

The equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism might also make it easier to stigmatize protests against Israeli policies — particularly the treatment of Palestinians — even if they don’t actually oppose the idea of a Jewish state.

Pro-Palestinian activists on campus are right to fear that such a statement would target their advocacy even when it doesn’t involve anti-Semitic language or harassing behavior.

This issue is not a matter of splitting hairs; it goes to the heart of issues of free speech, and the exercise of power to suppress certain types of political expression while letting others flow freely.

What is most telling about this latest episode is the tactic being employed. Faced with substantial public pressure from grass-roots activists, the regents’ working group chose this back-door route to insert its insidious equation. Now it has been called out, and we should be watching carefully which way the regents will move.

What is happening in California might well serve as an index to how these issues will play out on the national scene.

The position of at least one of the two front-runners in the presidential elections is crystal clear. Hillary Clinton has consistently been one of Israel’s staunchest supporters.

What is most troubling, however, is the fact that she has come out vocally as someone who will, in her own words, make “countering BDS a priority.”

In a letter to potential donors she uses exactly the same equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism that we find in the U.C. document:

I am writing to express my alarm over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction [sic] movement, or “BDS,” a global effort to isolate the State of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges.  I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority.

I am seeking your advice on how we can work together—across party lines and with a diverse array of voices—to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel….

I am also very concerned by attempts to compare Israel to South African apartheid.

Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival.  Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world—especially in Europe—we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

And on Monday, in her appearance before AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Clinton doubled down on her support of Israel.  As CommonDreams reports:
During the address, Clinton vowed to take the U.S.-Israel relationship to “the next level”—a level which seemingly includes more war and imperialism, few, if any, rights for Palestinians, and definitely no economic boycotts of Israel….
Later, Clinton doubled down on her previous pledge to dismantle the growing international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, linking the campaign against Palestinian apartheid to anti-Semitism, saying “we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
In a statement to Common Dreams, Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that the speech “is a reminder of the current limits of the mainstream discourse on Israel, which rely on racist and Islamophobic tropes to justify unquestioning support for Israel.”

“From Democrats to Republicans, the message is the same,” Vilkomerson continued. “More arms for Israel, a stronger relationship between Israel and the U.S., no mention of Palestinian rights, and no recognition of the impossible contradiction of being both democratic and Jewish when the state is predicated on maintaining systems of unequal rights and rule by military occupation.”

This is deeply troubling, especially as the Palestinian cause has now been established as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our age.  Education on this issue therefore needs to be rigorous, debated, argued, in order for us to make informed decisions and take meaningful action.

The suppression of ideas is anathema to the university, but this is exactly what is being suggested by reputed leaders in education and politics, all under this deceitful equation.

 

 

How to Help the Palestinians: Join the Boycott, Divest and Sanction Movement

In the mid-19th century, influenced by the nationalism then sweeping much of the continent, some European Jews concluded that the remedy to centuries of persecution and pogroms in Europe and Russia was the creation of a nation state for Jews in Palestine.

Some of them subsequently began emigrating to the Holy Land, mainly from Romania, Bulgaria and then Russians. The first fertile piece of land was offered by the Ottoman Empire in 1868.

In 1874, there were about 14,000 Jews in Palestine (most of them local Jews, and the majority of the immigrants were from Yemen and Iraq), and about 426,000 Palestinians (far more populous than people living in Lebanon).
http://imeu.org/…

Since that time, the Palestinian people have been subjected to colonialism, ethnic cleansing, massacres and atrocities, terrorism, and dispossession, martial law, blockade, and occupation at the hands of first the early Zionists and then the state of Israel, with a big assist from many Western and Arab powers.

The Palestinians have tried every which way to halt and reverse their dispossession, as anyone would. They have tried revolts, rejectinga partition plan, terrorism, non-violent resistance, violent resistance, working with Israel, recognizing Israel , participating in peace processes, shunning Hamas, unifying with Hamas, maintaining quiet for Israel, non-violent protest, appealing to international bodies, appealing to international law. The result has been further dispossession and regularly-scheduled bouts of grass-mowing by Israel, which is where they find themselves today.

What can we as liberals do to help the Palestinians, and frankly, to try to protect ourselves from the blowback to our government’s pro-Israel policies? I do write to my representatives and the White House even though I’m probably just spitting in the wind. I believe it might helpful to let our reps know there are more of us out there.

However, due to domestic political considerations, until there is serious campaign finance reform in this country, I think it is unrealistic to expect US politicians to take any meaningful stand against Israel.

If we are interested in justice for the Palestinians, and safety from blowback from our government’s stand on Israel, then the only way forward is boycott, sanctions and divestment from Israel (BDS).

We the people are going to have to leave the US government behind on this one, just like we did in South Africa. You many recall that the US government clung to the SA apartheid government until the end.

What is BDS?

BDS is a call to global citizens to respond (non-violently) to Israel’s continued denial of Palestinian rights to freedom, equality, and self-determination through its ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation.

On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall of Shame in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.

The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

http://www.bdsmovement.net/…

BDS doesnt advocate for a one-state solution, or a two-state solution. It is rights-based, advocating for the human, civil and legal rights of Palestinians. The campaigns under the movement are: an academic boycott, a cultural boycott, a consumer boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

What Can you Do?

1. Personally boycott products from either the illegal Israeli settlements, or Israel, or both. You can read more at this link: http://www.bdsmovement.net/…
. The movement suggests:

Trying to boycott the products of every single company that participates in Israeli apartheid is a daunting task that has a slim change of having a concrete impact.It makes more sense to focus on optimal targets that are being targeted as part of national or international campaigns.

Consumer boycotts are most effective when part of a broader campaign against a particular product or aiming to pressure a retailer to stop selling a particular Israeli product.

That means we can focus on Ahava cosmetics, SodaStream, Eden Springs bottled water, Golan Heights wineries, Israeli Medjoul dates and other fruits and vegetables from the settlements, HP, Caterpillar, Volvo and Hyundai.

There is also an app available for smartphones call Boycott that lets you choose causes you want to participate in, and then lets you scan barcodes of products to tell you whether the product is aligned with your goals. Freeing Palestine is one of the causes you can sign up for.

2. Agitate for American businesses to stop profiting from the Israeli occupation.
http://www.whoprofits.org

3. Advocate for divestment from corporations doing business with either Israel, the settlements or both.
http://www.bdsmovement.net/…

4. Advocate for an arms embargo on Israel. There is a campaign on now. You can add you name to a list that includes Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú and Betty Williams as well as Noam Chomsky, Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, playwright Caryl Churchill, US rapper Boots Riley, João Antonio Felicio, the president of the International Trade Union Confederation, and Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions.
http://www.bdsmovement.net/…

5. Advocate for better coverage of the issue by the main stream media. I don’t believe there is an organization for this, but there should be. Fair.org is a progressive website that follows the media and currently has a lot to say about the coverage of this crisis. The key is to register your complaints with the media as they happen.

6. Advocate for your favorite artists to refuse to perform in Israel (politely) and encourage those who have already joined the boycott. This can be done on Twitter and Facebook.
http://www.bdsmovement.net/…

Successes in the last 18 months

July 23 2014 – The African Liturature Association joined the academic boycott.
http://electronicintifada.net/….

July 3 – Brighton, UK, Sodastream store shuts down after two years.
http://www.haaretz.com/…

June 20 2014 – Presbyterians voted to divest from 3 American business that profit from the occupation
http://www.nytimes.com/….

Feb 2014-Norway’s $810 billion sovereign wealth fund divested from two Israeli companies.
http://www.ft.com/….

The Dutch pension fund, PGGM, with over $210 billion in assets, announced it has divested from five Israeli banks, effective January 1, 2014.
http://www.reuters.com/….

December 15 2013 – The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) announced that it will join the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
http://www.dailykos.com/….

Dec 2013, American Studies Association endorsed the Association’s participation in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions
http://www.theasa.net/….

May 2013, Stephen Hawking joined academic boycott
http://www.theguardian.com/….

May 7th, 2013 – Oberlin College Student Senate endorses divestment resolution
http://electronicintifada.net/…

April 2013 – Association for Asian American Studies joined academic boycott
http://www.insidehighered.com/….

March 16th, 2013 – Mennonites Divest From Israeli Occupation
http://mcc.org/…

March 14th, 2013 – UC San Diego Students Vote to Divest (non-binding)
http://electronicintifada.net/…

March 9th, 2013 – The Netherlands calls on Retailers to Distinguish Between Israeli Produce and Produce Grown in Illegal Settlements
http://www.haaretz.com/…

Israeli Captains of Industry Fear Boycott
http://www.ynetnews.com/…

European Boycotts Begin to Bite Catching Israel’s Attention
http://www.csmonitor.com/…

The time is now. Please join us.

Will You Join BDS?

  • Yes 66%
  • No 33%

111 votes

 

 

Recognizing Palestine, BDS and the survival of Israel

Joseph Massad, in The Electronic Intifada, posted this 16 December 2014

141216-gaza-attacks.jpg

The horrors the Netanyahu government is visiting on the Palestinian people are unmasking the ugly reality Israeli liberals have tried for decades to conceal. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

What is happening in European parliaments?

In the last month and a half, the UK House of Commons, the Spanish, French, Portuguese and Irish parliaments have all recognized Israel’s eternal “right” to be a racist state via a much-touted recognition of an alleged Palestinian state within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the areas of Palestine Israel occupied in 1967.

These moves followed the lead of Sweden’s new center-left government which decided shortly after taking office to “recognize the State of Palestine” as part of the “two-state solution.”

As there is no Palestinian state to recognize within the 1967, or any other, borders, these political moves are engineered to undo the death of the two-state solution, the illusion of which had guaranteed Israel’s survival as a Jewish racist state for decades.

These parliamentary resolutions in fact aim to impose a de facto arrangement that prevents Israel’s collapse and replacement with a state that grants equal rights to all its citizens and is not based on colonial and racial privileges.

Unlike Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who believes he can force the world to recognize a greater racist Israel that annexes the territories Israel occupied in 1967 de jure, the European parliaments are insisting that they will only guarantee Israel’s survival as a racist state within Israel’s 1948 borders and on whatever extra lands within the 1967 territories the Palestinian Authority (PA) — collaborating with Israel — agrees to concede in the form of “land swaps.”

Denmark’s parliament and the European Parliament itself are the latest bodies set to consider votes guaranteeing Israel’s survival in its present form within the 1948 boundaries only.

Even neutral Switzerland agreed, upon a request from the PA, to host a meeting of signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention to discuss the 1967 Israeli occupation only. Expectedly, in addition to the Jewish settler-colony, the world’s major settler colonies — the United States, Canada, and Australia — are opposed to the meeting and will not attend.

These moves are unfolding as international support for the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has begun an accelerated move to the mainstream in the US and Western Europe.

Academic associations calling for support for BDS include the Association for Asian American Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the American Studies Association and the American Anthropological Association (which voted to defeat an anti-BDS resolution).

An exception is MESA, the Middle East Studies Association, whose members most recently voted to grant themselves the right to debate BDS, and in the process unwittingly granted the Zionists one full year to lobby and prepare to defeat a BDS resolution on which members may be asked to vote next year.

Even the Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies — which had insistently refused in April 2011 to host and sponsor a talk and book-signing by Omar Barghouti, and instead hosted a speaker on 4 April 2013 (in a closed, invitation-only event) who attacked Barghouti in an attempt to delegitimize PACBI — reversed course recently and invited Barghouti himself to deliver a lecture this month. Barghouti is a co-founder of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

What do all these moves mean?

Israel’s liberal racists exposed

The context of these steps has to do with the recent conduct of the Netanyahu government whose impatience is exposing Israel’s liberal racist politicians — those who prefer a more patient approach to achieving the very same racist political goals — to embarrassment.

The situation has become so untenable that ardent American liberal Zionists led by none other than Michael Walzer, emeritus professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, have felt compelled to act.

Walzer, notorious for justifying all of Israel’s conquests as “just wars,” and a group of like-minded figures calling themselves “Scholars for Israel and Palestine,” recently called on the US government to impose a travel ban on right-wing Israeli politicians who support annexation of what remains of the West Bank.

Whereas successive Israeli governments have shown an unyielding determination to strengthen Israel’s right to be a racist state over all of historic Palestine, they have done so through the ruse of the “peace process,” which they were committed to maintaining for decades to come without any resolution.

This strategy has worked very well for the last two decades with hardly a peep from the Palestinian Authority, which owes its very existence to this unending “process.”

More recently, Hamas’ political leadership, especially the branch in Qatar, where the group’s leader Khaled Meshal is based, has also been looking for the best way to join this project.

But as the ongoing Netanyahu policies of visiting horrors on the Palestinian people across all of the territories Israel controls — policies that have exposed the “peace process” for the sham it always was as well as Israel’s claim to being “democratic” as a most fraudulent one — the international consensus that Israeli liberals have built over the decades to shield Israel’s ugly reality from the world has been weakened, if not threatened with collapse altogether.

Israeli liberals realize that what Netanyahu is doing is threatening their entire project and the very survival of Israel as a racist Jewish state. It is in this context that European parliaments are rushing to rescue Israel’s liberals by guaranteeing for them Israel’s survival in its racist form through recognizing a nonexistent Palestinian state “within the 1967 borders.”

It is also in this context that European governments in the last year or so have begun to speak of BDS as a possible weapon they could use to threaten the Netanyahu government if it continues in its refusal to “negotiate” with the Palestinians (the Europeans use of the threat of BDS is limited to a threat of boycotting only the products of Israeli colonial settlements in the occupied territories), that is, to maintain the illusion of an ongoing “peace process.” Herein lies the dilemma for those who support BDS.

BDS: A means or an end in itself?

The Ramallah-based PACBI has always been clear that BDS is an instrument, a means to be used to achieve strategic goals — namely an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands during and since 1967, an end to Israeli institutionalized racism inside the 1948 boundaries of Israel and the return of the Palestinian refugees to their lands and homes.

In recent years, however, BDS has been transformed from a means to an end unto itself. Many of those in solidarity with the Palestinians have begun to articulate their positions as ones that support BDS as a goal rather than a means.

The recent votes by academic organizations are a case in point. While three academic organizations that voted for BDS have declared their support for the end of the 1967 occupation, only two, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) and the Association for Asian American Studies, explicitly opposed the racist policies of the state of Israel against its own Palestinian citizens.

Only NAISA’s resolution questioned Israeli racist laws and structures. The American Studies Association, by contrast, only cited the occupation of the 1967 territories, while the Modern Language Association merely censured Israel for denying Palestinian academics and students their academic freedom without condemning the occupation or Israeli state racism. MESA’s resolution did not even mention any of the goals of BDS at all.

While these resolutions are a step in the right direction, and in many cases are the result of long and fierce battles waged by members deeply committed to all Palestinian rights, they mostly fail to articulate positions that accord with all the explicit goals of BDS.

Indeed, not one of these organizations mentioned the third goal of BDS, namely the right of the Palestinian refugees to return, which Israel continues to deny in defiance of UN resolutions and international law in order to safeguard a Jewish majority in the country.

As European politicians have recognized, BDS can now be used as a means to achieve ends that those who adopt it can decide on. Palestinians’ monopoly on decision-making through PACBI and the Boycott National Committee and on determining the goals of BDS is not guaranteed.

Different parties, declaring solidarity with the Palestinians, can and do dismiss PACBI altogether as only one of many international organizations that support BDS, arguing that each supporter of BDS can determine on their own whatever goals they deem fit.

In short, the expanded support of BDS in the US and Europe is not necessarily an expanded support for the goals of ending Israeli racism, Israel’s occupation and the Palestinian refugees’ exile, but rather simply support for the use of BDS as a means to achieve whatever the party using it determines as the sought-after goal.

As I have written and explained since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords, all the “solutions” offered by Western and Arab governments and Israeli and PA liberals to end the so-called “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” are premised on guaranteeing Israel’s survival as a racist Jewish state unscathed. All “solutions” that do not offer such a guarantee are dismissed a priori as impractical, unpragmatic and even anti-Semitic. The recent attempts to co-opt BDS for that very same goal are in line with this commitment.

This explains the sudden downgrading of the threat of BDS from something that is untouchable by European and American officials and liberal academics and activists — who understood its ultimate goal as one that not only refuses to guarantee the survival of Israel as a racist state, but also aims specifically to dismantle all its racist structures — to something increasingly safe to adopt by most of them, as it now can be used to secure Israel’s survival.

Palestinians and their supporters must be vigilant about this co-optation of BDS, and must recognize that with the achievement of mainstreaming also come serious risks. Unless they reaffirm that support for BDS is support for the explicit goals that PACBI had initially set, then this recent and apparent “transformation” in attitudes, which in fact is no transformation at all, will usher in a slippery slope — the end goal of which is, alas, too familiar for Palestinians to revisit yet again.

Due to the continued absence of an independent, representative and unified Palestinian liberation movement capable of articulating a coherent strategy and leading the struggle for liberation, BDS will continue, contrary to PACBI’s stated goals, to be utilized at best as a “threat” to Israel to end its 1967 occupation.

This is nothing short of a smokescreen to perpetuate Israel’s other forms of colonial control over historic Palestine and the Palestinians and to preserve its institutionalized and legal racism.

Rather than call on the international community to adopt BDS without an explicit commitment to its goals, Palestinians must insist that those in solidarity with them adopt BDS as a strategy and not as a goal, in order to bring about an end to Israel’s racism and colonialism in all its forms inside and outside the 1948 boundaries.

Otherwise, BDS can and will be used to strengthen the Jewish settler-colony and the Israeli liberal project that backs it.

Joseph Massad is professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. His latest book is Islam in Liberalism (University of Chicago Press).

Israeli play expelled from Edinburgh venue as Scots protest against Gaza attack

 

(Mohammed Asad / APA images)

 

Sarah Irving posted on Thu, 07/31/2014

gazachildren.jpg

A family evacuates its home in response to Israeli air strikes on Gaza City yesterday; campaigners in Scotland say there is widespread revulsion against the attacks on Palestinians.

(Ezz al-Zanoun / APA images)

Campaigners in Scotland have succeeded in pressuring the organizers of an arts festival into removing the Israeli state-funded Incubator Theater Company from a city center venue in Edinburgh.

Protests against Incubator’s play, a “hip-hop opera” titled The City, began with a letter signed by over fifty of the most high-profile artists and writers in Scotland, including the Scots Makar (poet laureate) Liz Lochhead.

The play was on the program for the Edinburgh Fringe, reputedly the world’s largest arts festival.

Other signatories to the open letter calling for a boycott of Incubator included novelist and painter Alasdair Gray and playwright David Greig.

A daily picket of a pop-up theater organized by Underbelly, the festival’s promoters, had been planned.

The demonstrations were called by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other Palestine solidarity groups.

But Underbelly announced after just one protest that it was removing Incubator from its listings.

A spokesperson for the promoters was quoted on STV, a news website, as saying:

“Earlier today, after discussions between Underbelly, Incubator Theater, the University of Edinburgh and Police Scotland it was agreed that future performances of The City at the Reid Hall would be cancelled. Today’s performance of The City went ahead as planned, but the logistics of policing and stewarding the protest around the Reid Hall … make it untenable for the show to continue.”

However, Underbelly also stated that it would be trying to find Incubator an alternative venue for its planned month-long run at the Fringe.

Albie O’Neill, a spokesperson for the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the level of public support for the protest against Incubator was “overwhelming” and that it reflected the “revulsion over what is happening in Gaza.”

 

Nine brands you can start boycotting

Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) are big news in 2014.

If Scarlett Johansson’s Sodastream fiasco didn’t grab your attention, perhaps the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli universities did, or Netanyahu’s increasing talk of million-dollar PR campaigns, legal offensives and diplomacy efforts to counter the BDS threat.

Opinion pages are filled with debate.

John Kerry has warned Israel that it could be facing a delegitimization campaign “on steroids” and voices from all sides are speculating that a boycott movement against Israel could be about to break into the mainstream.

But what would that actually mean in supermarkets and shopping baskets?

The BDS campaign covers all Israeli products: It’s a broad tactic aimed to pressure the state itself to change. But it also reserves a special focus for companies that are actually involved in — and make hefty profits from — occupation policies.

These organizations may be forced to pay attention to the boycott very soon — and they may not be the ones you’d expect.

1. Sodastream

Via: AP

Thanks to Scarlett Johansson’s recent adventure in international politics, most of us now know about Sodastream’s role in perpetuating the occupation of the West Bank.

The fizzy drinks makers are produced in Ma’ale Adumim, one of the many illegal Israeli settlements that cuts through Palestinian land, seizing resources and making the development of an independent Palestinian economy look impossible.

“The Israeli army forcefully expelled 200 Palestinian families from their homes to make space for the construction of Maale Adumim,” says Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the BDS National Committee. “Recently, it announced a plan to expel another 2,300 Palestinians to make way for the settlement’s growth.”

2. Jaffa Oranges

Via: AP

Brands like Carmel Agrexco and Mehadrin, which export the famous Jaffa brand of oranges, make big profits from farming on Palestine’s land.

Many of the companies’ fruits and vegetables — which include avocados, sweet potatoes and pomegranates — are grown and packaged in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, where 94% of land is under direct Israeli control.

As well as violating international law, commercial farming in the area deprives Palestinians of agriculturally-rich farmland and seriously limits access to water, which local people are often forced to buy by the tank at vastly inflated prices.

3. Ahava

Via: AP

Ahava means love in Hebrew, but the story behind is unromantic.

The company’s major factory — and its plush visitors’ centre — is based in Mitzpe Shalem, a settlement in the occupied West Bank that also owns 37% of the brand.

The location gives Ahava privileged access to the minerals and mud of the Dead Sea, which form the big-selling ingredient in their face masks, body scrubs and moisturisers.

The company makes about $150 million a year from the sale of these miraculous products while Palestinians continue to be effectively barred from utilising the resources of the Dead Sea.

4. Golan Heights Wine

Via: AP

According to its website, this winery is located in Israel’s prime location for world-class vineyards.

However, that place is the Golan Heights: occupied territory seized from Syria in the War of 1967. Then, most of the 140,000 Syrians that lived in the Golan were displaced and have not been allowed to return, and today the area is home to some 20,000 settlers.

Although the Golan Heights Winery is one of Israel’s biggest exporters, it’s far from the only producer of settlement wine.

The Carmel, Tshibi and Barkan wineries all own vineyards in the Golan Heights, while Teperberg 1870 and Binyamina operate in the West Bank.

5. Victoria’s Secret

Via: AP

Victoria’s Secret is targeted by BDS campaigners because of where the brand sources its fabrics.

America’s largest brand of lingerie gets its textiles from Delta Galil Industries, a company with a warehouse in the Barkan Industrial Zone, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

It also runs stores in Ma’aleh Adumim and Pisgat Ze’ev — both in occupied territories.

Settlements like these destroy the contiguity of a future Palestinian state and are widely considered to be the biggest obstacle to the success of the peace process.

Victoria’s Secret, however, is not the only company to buy its materials from the settlement industry: Delta Galil also supplies to companies like Walmart, Calvin Klein, Nike and Columbia, among others.

6. Sabra Hummus

Via: AP

Food appropriation is a big deal in the Middle East, where the adoption of falafel and hummus as Israel’s national snacks is a point of contention for Palestinians.

Sabra, however, is a BDS target for other reasons: The USA’s top hummus manufacturer is owned by Strauss Group, an Israeli company with strong ties to the IDF.

The corporation has “adopted” the Golani Brigade, an “elite unit” of the Israeli Army with a reputation for bad behavior that ranges “from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians,” according to Haaretz.

Golani troops were on the front line in Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-9 assault on Gaza which killed some 1,400 Palestinians.

Strauss, apparently, provided the lunches, exclaiming on its website that it provides “food products” for missions and “personal care packages for each soldier.”

After U.S. BDS groups targeted Sabra in 2010, Strauss removed the wording from its Corporate Social Responsibility pages. But it has said nothing of withdrawing its support for IDF troops.

7. Medjool Dates

These super-sweet dates are a Palestinian staple, traditionally eaten to break the Ramadan fast.

But today, over half the global harvest of medjool dates is produced by Israel, often on settlements in Palestinian land and especially in the Jordan Valley.

There, illegal labor practices have been recorded on a significant scale.

In 2008, 7,000 Palestinian children were found to be working on settlement date farms. What’s more, the provenance of settlement dates is often concealed with a “produced in Israel” label — Hadiklaim, one of the biggest settlement producers, markets its products under the brand names Jordan River, Jordan River Bio-Tops and King Solomon.

8. Eden Springs Water

Much of Eden Springs’ bottled water — which is widely marketed to universities, local authorities and other institutions — comes from the Salukia spring in the Golan Heights.

Israel’s occupation of the Golan has been condemned by the U.N., and, as Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reminds us, international law only gives occupiers a limited right to use the water resources of occupied territory.

Despite that, settlers in the Golan can use as much as 17 times more water per capita than the area’s other inhabitants — a state of affairs that is not helped by the commercial exploitation of springs.

9. Hewlett Packard

Hewlett Packard’s slogan is a predictably Silicon Valley coinage: “If you’re going to do something, make it matter.”

For Palestinians, however, some of the things HP does matter more than others. The firm owns EDS Israel, which supplies the computer systems of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and produces hi-tech equipment like the Basel System, a biometric permit system that controls the movement of Palestinian workers through checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank.

HP equipment is used by Israeli prisons and the army, and the company has also invested in the technological development of illegal settlements, taking part in the Smart City project in Ariel.

Bethan Parry

Bethan is a writer and editor currently based in Palestine and Israel. She’s written for a range of publications in the US, UK and Middle East, was previously a staff writer for The Day, where she wrote analysis on everything from fiscal policy …


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