Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘sanctions

Has Covid-19 changed this notion of “Moral Entity”?

Note: Repost of 2011 article “A moral entity? What are multinational corporations?”

Even developed States are hostage to mega multinational financial “entities” and subordinated to their dictat.

Follow the money trail” is the principal rule for investigating criminal activities of mafia, dirty politicians, money launderer, and cases of conflict of interests in public institutions dealing with private enterprises.

“Follow the money trail” is a valid guiding rod to investigating how current deteriorating moral values and ethical conducts are making inroads into our societies and taking ascendency over well-tested sets of values.

Any sane thinking individual can find a direct link between how financial multinationals function and their corresponding predominant value system.

Financial multinationals are disseminating, by their global branches, and their affiliation with other companies and media, by their close cooperation with political organizations and States governing bodies, the value system and ethical standards that promote their interests (shareholders) and mentality of financial profit by all means.

As one State erect barriers to influx of unnecessary products and product competing with its autonomy, economic and financial security, and preserving its scarce resources, you find multinational companies vigorously push forward, dislodge the barriers and exploit resources of weaker nations.

Financial multinationals and multinational enterprises bribe their way and threaten with the heavy stick of their original powerful nations to impose their will and interests with makeshift contracts, not even valid in any serious court of justice.

Ironically, while a financial multinational threatens with embargo and sanctions, supported by its powerful government, it really don’t give a damn of the citizens of its original country: Money and profit have no restrictive citizens or smelling race. Money and profit  have no standard particular social value.

Who control a multinational corporation?  You might reply:

“He is the appointed General Director by the elected board members.”  Who control the board of directors?  You might say: The shareholders.  And you carry on your excuses for exploiting people and nations on the premise that shareholders invested for profit and they are generally not aware how the corporation do business on their behalf.

There are figure-head shareholders who elect nobody, and shareholders extending their voting rights to a third-party, and super electing body or “club of the old money

For example, you say this dictator control this State, and who control the dictators?  You might say the bondholders or the multinational financial institutions controlled by the club of old money.  And you ask: “who are these clubs of old money?”

And you start reading biographies of these old crooks who “whitened their money in highway-robbery schemes” and how their inheritors legitimately resumed the same crooked behavior:

They were elected to political offices and they finance election campaigns, and fund lobbies for special interest laws.

A “moral entity”?

Time to start redefining what a moral entity means.

It is time to get outraged big time and return the power and rights to the people.

Economic boycott of Israel settlers: The terror of Israel state of affairs

Note: A re-edit of 2014 article “Why Israel Fears the Boycott”? By OMAR BARGHOUTI published this JAN. 31, 2014 SundayReview

The UN declared recently that 68 companies, among them 18 foreign companies, are doing business with Israel illegal settlements in Palestine West Bank.

“If Israel continue construction of illegal settlements, the Israeli government is likely to face an international boycott “on steroids,” as Mr. Kerry warned last August 2014.

These days, Israel seems as terrified by the “exponential” growth of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (or B.D.S.) movement as it is by Iran’s rising clout in the region.

Last June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively declared B.D.S. a strategic threat. Calling it the “delegitimization” movement, he assigned the overall responsibility for fighting it to his Strategic Affairs Ministry.

But B.D.S. doesn’t pose an existential threat to Israel; it poses a serious challenge to Israel’s system of oppression of the Palestinian people, which is the root cause of its growing worldwide isolation.

The Israeli government’s view of B.D.S. as a strategic threat reveals its heightened anxiety at the movement’s recent spread into the mainstream.

It also reflects the failure of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s well-endowed “Brand Israel” campaign, which reduces B.D.S. to an image problem and employs culture as a propaganda tool, sending well-known Israeli figures around the world to show Israel’s prettier face.

Begun in 2005 by the largest trade union federations and organizations in Palestinian society, B.D.S. calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were forcibly displaced and dispossessed in 1948.

Why should Israel, a nuclear power with a strong economy, feel so vulnerable to a nonviolent human rights movement?

Israel is deeply apprehensive about the increasing number of American Jews who vocally oppose its policies — especially those who are joining or leading B.D.S. campaigns.

Israel also perceives as a profound threat the rising dissent among prominent Jewish figures who reject its tendency to speak on their behalf, challenge its claim to be the “national home” of all Jews, or raise the inherent conflict between its ethno-religious self-definition and its claim to democracy.

What I. F. Stone prophetically wrote about Israel back in 1967, that it was “creating a kind of moral schizophrenia in world Jewry” because of its “racial and exclusion” ideal, is no longer beyond the pale.

Israel is also threatened by the effectiveness of the nonviolent strategies used by the B.D.S. movement, including its Israeli component, and by the negative impact they have had on Israel’s standing in world public opinion.

As one Israeli military commander said in the context of suppressing Palestinian popular resistance to the occupation, “We don’t do Gandhi very well.

The landslide vote by the American Studies Association in December to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, coming on the heels of a similar decision by the Association for Asian-American Studies, among others, as well as divestment votes by several university student councils, proves that B.D.S. is no longer a taboo in the United States.

The movement’s economic impact is also becoming evident. The recent decision by the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM to divest from the 5 largest Israeli banks because of their involvement in occupied Palestinian territory has sent shock waves through the Israeli establishment.

To underscore the “existential” danger that B.D.S. poses, Israel and its lobby groups often invoke the smear of anti-Semitism, despite the unequivocal, consistent position of the movement against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.

This unfounded allegation is intended to intimidate into silence those who criticize Israel and to conflate such criticism with anti-Jewish racism.

Arguing that boycotting Israel is intrinsically anti-Semitic is not only false, but it also presumes that Israel and “the Jews” are one and the same. This is as absurd and bigoted as claiming that a boycott of a self-defined Islamic state like Saudi Arabia because of its horrific human rights record, would of necessity be Islamophobic.

The B.D.S. movement’s call for full equality in law and policies for the Palestinian citizens of Israel is particularly troubling for Israel because it raises questions about its self-definition as an exclusionary Jewish state.

Israel considers any challenge to what even the Department of State has criticized as its system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens as an “existential threat,” partially because of the apartheid image that this challenge evokes.

Tellingly, the Supreme Court recently rejected an attempt by Israeli liberals to have their nationality or ethnicity listed simply as “Israeli” in the national population registry (which has categories like Jew, Arab, Druse, etc.). The court found that doing so would be a serious threat to Israel’s founding identity as a Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Israel remains the only country on earth that does not recognize its own nationality, as that would theoretically avail equal rights to all its citizens, undermining its “ethnocratic” identity.

The claim that B.D.S., a nonviolent movement anchored in universal principles of human rights, aims to “destroy” Israel must be understood in this context.

Would justice and equal rights for all really destroy Israel?

Did equality destroy the American South? Or South Africa?

Certainly, it destroyed the discriminatory racial order that had prevailed in both places, but it did not destroy the people or the country.

Likewise, only Israel’s unjust order is threatened by boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

A Palestinian human rights activist and the author of “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.”

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

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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

BDS Movement for Palestinian Rights Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO, Norway, Feb 2 2018 (IPS) – As a member of the Norwegian parliament, I proudly use my authority as an elected official to nominate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nominating the BDS movement for this recognition is perfectly in line with the principles I and my party hold very dear.

Like the BDS movement, we are fully committed to stopping an ascendant, racist and right-wing politics sweeping too much of our world, and securing freedom, justice and equality for all people.

Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and the American Civil Rights movement, the grassroots, Palestinian-led BDS movement is a peaceful, global human rights movement that urges the use of economic and cultural boycotts to end Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and international law.

Awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to the BDS movement would be a powerful sign demonstrating that the international community is committed to supporting a just peace in the Middle East and using peaceful means to end military rule and broader violations of international law.The BDS movement seeks to end Israel’s 70 years of military rule over 4.5 million Palestinians, including the devastating ten-year illegal siege collectively punishing and suffocating nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, the ongoing forcible eviction of Palestinians from their homes, and the theft of Palestinian land through the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

It seeks equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, currently discriminated against by dozens of racist laws, and to secure the internationally-recognized legal right of Palestinian refugees to return to homes and lands from which they were expelled.

Palestinian refugees constitute nearly 50% of all Palestinians, and they are being denied their right to return, (as of UN resolution 194) guaranteed by law to all refugees, simply because of their ethnicity.

The BDS movement’s aims and aspirations for basic human rights are irreproachable. They should be supported without reservation by all democratically-minded people and states.

The international community has a longstanding history of supporting peaceful measures such as boycotts and disinvestment against companies that profit from human rights violations. International support for such measures was critical in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the racist colonial regime in former Rhodesia.

If the international community commits to supporting BDS to end the occupation of Palestinian territory and the oppression of the Palestinian people, new hope will be lit for a just peace for Palestinians, Israelis and all people across the Middle East.

The BDS movement has been endorsed by prominent figures, including the former Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire.

It is gaining support from unions, academic associations, churches, and grassroots movements for the rights of refugees, immigrants, workers, women, indigenous peoples and the LGBTQI community. It is increasingly embraced by progressive Jewish groups and anti-racist movements across the world.

Eleven years since BDS’ launch, it’s high time for us to commit to doing no harm, and for all states to withdraw their complicity in Israel’s military occupation, racist apartheid rule, ongoing theft of Palestinian land, and other egregious human rights violations.

Awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to the BDS movement would be a powerful sign demonstrating that the international community is committed to supporting a just peace in the Middle East and using peaceful means to end military rule and broader violations of international law.

My hope is that this nomination can be one humble but necessary step towards bringing forth a more dignified and beautiful future for all peoples of the region.

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.

Israeli Gov’t Approves Plan To Punish People Who Disagree With Them

I Can See Palestine posted this Dec. 16, 2013:

The Israeli government has just passed a new law designed to punish people who disagree with them, a law which the attorney general and legal experts in the country say is both unconstitutional and a dangerous infringement on democratic freedom of expression within Israel.

The newly approved bill would impose a harsh new “tax” on any non-governmental organization whose managers expresses an opinion that conflicts with the currents policies of the Israeli government.

If even one manager of an NGO expresses support for the boycott of Israel, or for divestment and sanctions, or the trial of Israeli soldiers in international military courts for war crimes, or opposes Israel’s status as a “Jewish state,” any donation made to that NGO by a “foreign entity” would be taxed at a rate of 45%.

The approved version changed two clauses in the original proposal:

That a leftist nonprofit would be penalized even if only one member of its board violated one of the clauses for which sanctions are imposed, and that sanctions would be imposed on organizations working against “the Jewish-democratic identity of the state.” The latter clause would have included negating, even implicitly, Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, or calling for the separation of religion and state.

In an unusual move, it was agreed that the bill would be debated again by the ministerial panel after it passes its preliminary reading in the Knesset.

Under the revised bill, certain nonprofits that receive donations from a foreign entity would be required to pay a 45 percent tax on the contributions.

The law would apply to groups that work for or call on others to boycott Israel, stop investing in Israel, or impose sanctions on the state or its citizens. It would also apply to groups calling to prosecute IDF soldiers for war crimes, subsequently exposing such alleged acts, or calling to investigate them.

This means that the Israeli government has just passed a law declaring that they will effectively seize almost half of all funds donated to NGOs in Israel if their leaders do not toe the appropriate party line.

Freedom of expression in Israel is only for people who express the appropriate opinions, because… the safety and operational ability of the Israeli military depends on suppressing political dissent.

The bill was pushed by Jewish Home, which insists that it will protect Israeli soldiers from “immoral legal claims,” and insisted that not cracking down on the NGOs harms the military’s “operational ability.”

The Israeli attorney general has said the bill infringes on a number of the constitutional rights enshrined into Israel’s Basic Laws, such as freedom of expression and freedom of association.

AG Yehuda Weinstein says that the “tax hike” on NGOs is really a de facto fine designed to cut donations to the non-profits in question in ways which would harm freedom of expression in Israel.

“Limiting donations and harming non-profit organizations’ free speech, and in general harming human rights is something done by a group of countries that it is doubtful that Israel wants to join,” said Weinstein. He added that even if the purpose of the bill was proper, which he said he doubted, it exceeded any sense of proportion because of the serious ramifications it was likely to cause.

The issue of proportionality is important because under Israeli law the state may undertake an act that harms a right in one of Israel’s Basic Laws if it is consistent with the values of the State of Israel, intended for a proper purpose and the harm done is proportionate.

This issue of “proportionality” in keeping the values of the State of Israel is incredibly important because one of the State’s most fundamental tenets is its Jewish identity.

If the state feels there is anything which “threatens” that identity, such as calls for the separation of church and state or marriages between members of different faiths, then it may make whatever laws necessary to stop the practice, regardless of how it violates the democratic and human rights which Israel claims to uphold.

Former Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak had this to say about the Israeli government’s violation of constitutional rights in relation to marriage equality in his forthcoming book “Human Dignity: The Constitutional Right and its Derivatives”:

“Anyone who is unable to marry according to religious law, and anyone who does not want to marry according to religious law for their own reasons, cannot marry in Israel.

Civil marriage is not recognized in Israel. This state of affairs violates the constitutional right to marry…The present law does not only violate the constitutional derived right to marriage, but it also often violates the derived right to freedom of conscience and freedom from religion.

A law that prevents two members of the same gender from entering a relationship of couplehood is a violation of the human dignity of each partner.”

These people who are refused the right to marry include the hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who have entered the country under the Law of Return, but who are not considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. This religious body is notorious for its attempts to be the sole arbiter of “who is a Jew,” not only in Israel but in the diaspora as well.

Then, of course, there is the gross violation of both the Basic Laws and international law with the practice of administrative detention, where individuals from asylum seekers to Palestinian residents (including children) are held without trial for extended periods of time.

Administrative Detention

The Israeli Supreme Court recently overturned a law which allowed the detainment of asylum seekers for up to three years without trial on the basis that it was “unconstitutional,” as it violated a basic law enshrining human dignity and freedom.

“In the opinion of all nine justices on the panel, the period of three years’ detention as stated in the law is unconstitutional,” judge Edna Arbel wrote.

Despite the unconstitutionality of their actions, the Israeli government seems to prefer to legislate first, then force people to go through the court system to change unconstitutional laws. This process is lengthy, expensive in time and money, and allows the Israeli government to continue violating human rights while the cases drag on.

Monetary punishment of people that disagree with the government is yet another mark against the government of Israel.

 

 

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).

Any predictions on “Arab Awakening”? Saudi Arabia be next? And Robert Fisk

Can anybody predict which way the ‘Arab Awakening’ (the title of George Antonius’ seminal work of 1938) will turn this yea?.

Apparently, everyone is predicting, and going strong in their convictions.

Is it better never make predictions in the Middle East?  Then where’s the fun otherwise?

Andrew Bossone wrote: yeah, yeah, you don’t like Fisk… I was in Syria in March 2011 (before the upheaval started) and I was talking with some friends and I insisted that Saudi Arabia would be the last country in the region to fall.

The Syrian guys said no way, Syria would be the last country to go.

Well the next week the uprising started. I still hold to my position about Saudi, in contrast with Fisk.

But Robert Fisk has ventured a very tentative punt or two…

Robert Fisk published in The Independence on Dec. 31, 2012 under: “Could Saudi Arabia be next?”

“My crystal ball broke long ago. But predicting the region has an honourable pedigree.

“An Arab movement, newly-risen, is looming in the distance,” a French traveller to the Gulf and Baghdad wrote in 1883 (not 1983), “and a race hitherto downtrodden will presently claim its due place in the destinies of Islam.”

A year earlier, a British diplomat in Jeddah confided that “it is within my knowledge… that the idea of freedom does at present agitate some minds even in Mecca…”

So let’s say this for 2013:

1. The “Arab Awakening” will continue, the demand for dignity and freedom – let us not get tramelled up here with “democracy” – will go on  ravaging the pseudo-stability of the Middle East, causing as much fear in Washington as it does in the palaces of the Arab Gulf.

2. On the epic scale of history, that much is certain.

3. At the incendiary core of this discontent will be the claims of a Palestinian State that does not exist and may never exist and the actions of an Israeli state which – through its constant building of colonies for Jews and Jews only on Arab land – ensures that “Palestine” will remain only an Arab dream.

If 2012 is anything to go by, the Palestinians themselves face the coming year with the knowledge that:

1) neither the Americans nor the Europeans have the guts to help them, because

2) Israel will continue to act with impunity, and

3) neither the Obamas nor the Camerons nor the Hollandes have the slightest interest in taking on the Likudist lobby, which will scream “anti-semitism” the moment the minutest criticism is made against Israel.

4) Add to this the fact that Mahmoud Abbas and his utterly discredited regime in Ramallah will go on making concessions to the Israelis.  If you do not believe me, read Clayton Swisher’s The Palestine Papers – even when there are no more concessions to make.

Hamas and Khaled Meshaal will go on denying Israel’s right to exist, allowing Israel to falsely claim that it has “no one to talk to”. And preparing for the next Gaza war and the subsequent cowardly request from the West which will “urge restraint on both sides”, as if the Palestinians possess Merkava tanks, F-18s and drones.

A third Intifada (mass disobedience movement)? Maybe.

An approach to the International Court to condemn Israel for war crimes in building Jewish colonies on other people’s land? Perhaps. But so what?

The Palestinians won an international court case which condemned the building of Israel’s apartheid/security wall – and absolutely nothing happened.

That’s the fate of the Palestinians.

They’re told by the likes of Tom Friedman to abandon violence and adopt the tactics of Gandhi. And when they do, they still lose, and Friedman remains silent.

It was, after all, Gandhi who said that Western civilisation “would be a good idea”.

So bad news for Palestine in 2013.

How about Iran?

The Iranians understand the West much better than we understand the Iranians – a lot of them, remember, were educated in the United States.

And they’ve an intriguing way of coming out on top whatever they do. George Bush (and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara) invaded Afghanistan and rid the Shia Iranians of their Sunni enemy, whom they always called the “Black Taliban”.

And Bush-Blair invaded Iraq and got rid of the Islamic Republic’s most loathsome enemy, Saddam Hussein. Thus did Iran win both the Afghan and the Iraqi war – without firing a shot.

There’s no doubt that Iran would fire a shot or two if Israel/America – the two are interchangeable in Iran as in many other Middle East countries – were to attack its nuclear facilities.

However, Israel has no stomach for an all-out war against Iran – it would lose – and the US, having lost two Middle East wars, has no enthusiasm for losing a third.

Sanctions – and here is Iran’s real potential nemesis – are causing far more misery than Israel’s F-18s. And why is America threatening Iran in the first place? It didn’t threaten India when it went nuclear.

And when that most unstable and extremist state called Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons, no US threat was made to bomb its facilities.

True, we’ve heard that more recently – in case the nukes “fell into the wrong hands”, as in gas which might “fall into the wrong hands” in Syria; or in Gaza, for that matter, where democracy “fell into the wrong hands” the moment Hamas won elections there in 2006.

Now that Obama has entered his drone-happy second presidency, we’re going to hear more about those wonderful unpiloted bombers which have been ripping up bad guys and civilians for more than four years.

One day, one of these machines – though they fly in packs of seven or eight – will hit too many civilians or, even worse, will contrive to kill westerners or NGOs.

Then Obama will be apologising – though without the tears he expended over Newtown, Connecticut. (As Israel apologized to the UN for killing Lebanese refugees in a UN compound in Qana)

And here’s a thought for this year.

The gun lobby in the States tells us that “it’s not guns that kill – it’s people”.

But apply that to drone attacks on Pakistan or Israeli bombardments of Gaza and the rubric changes.

It’s the guns/bombs/rockets that kill because the Americans don’t mean to kill civilians and the Israelis don’t wish to kill civilians.

It’s just “collateral damage” again, though that’s not an excuse you can provide for Hamas rockets.

So what’s left for 2013?

Bashar Assad, of course. He’s already trying to win back some rebel forces to his own ruthless side – an intelligent though dangerous tactic – and the West is getting up to its knees in rebel cruelty. Yes, Assad will go. One day. He says as much.

But don’t expect it to happen in the immediate future. Or Gaddafi-style. The old mantra still applies.

Egypt was not Tunisia and Yemen was not Egypt and Libya was not Yemen and Syria is not Libya.

And Iraq?

Its own latent civil war will go on grinding up the bones of civil societ,y while we largely ignore its agony. There are days now when more Iraqis are killed than Syrians, though you wouldn’t know it from the nightly news.

And the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, where the first Arab awakening began?

Where, indeed, the first Arab revolution – the advent of Islam – burst forth upon the world.

There are those who say that the Gulf kingdoms and Emirates will remain secure for years to come. Don’t count on it.

Watch Saudi Arabia. Remember what that British diplomat wrote 130 years ago. “Even in Mecca…”

In summary:

Syria

‘Yes, Assad will go. One day. He says as much. But don’t expect it to happen in the immediate future.  Or Gaddafi-style.’Israel and the  Palestinian territories

Israel and the Palestinian territories

‘Hamas and Khaled Meshaal will go on denying Israel’s right to exist – thus allowing Israel to falsely claim that it has “no one to talk to” – until the next Gaza war.’

Iran

‘Israel has no stomach for an all-out war against Iran – it would lose – and the United States, having lost two Middle East wars, has no enthusiasm for losing a third.’

Saudi Arabia

‘There are those who say that the Gulf  kingdoms will remain secure for years to come. Don’t count on it. Watch Saudi Arabia.’

Iraq

‘Its own civil war will go on grinding up the bones of  civil society while we largely ignore its agony.’

US

‘Now that Obama has entered his drone-happy second  presidency, we’re going to hear more about those wonderful  unpiloted bombers

Andrew Bossone disagrees that Saudi Arabia absolute monarchy will be next to be swept by the Arab Awakening…Why?

The Saudi governments (absolute monarchy) have suppressed previous uprisings (with American support) starting in the 1930’s. It also suppressed the revolts in Yemen and Bahrain most recently, and had a hand elsewhere.

So I just don’t see Saudi going anywhere for a long time.

My position is Saudi Arabia has built-in a tight-proof military uprising system: The “saudi citizens” don’t have to join the army  or encouraged to get military trained for the “defense” of the Kingsdom. The western nations are supposed to do this job, and paid handsomely for cracking down on any serious militaty activities.

Remenber how the French were asked to directly chase out the uprisers in Mecca a decade ago, a liberate the” haramein”.

Saudi Arabia refrain from directly engaging its own “army”, even for defending its borders, such as in Yemen…

The officers are from this extended Saudi clan family, about 5,000 cousins, and most of the soldiers are foreigners.

Iraq is a goner: Iran, the USA, and Saudi Arabia are not interested for the central government to reconstitute a viable army. De facto autonomous partition to four provinces.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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