Archive for June, 2010

A new phase of struggle is born

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Zionism on June 29, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Speech: Kevin Ovenden

June 28, 2010

Israel’s murderous assault on a flotilla of ships carrying solidarity activists and humanitarian aid to break the U.S. and Israeli-imposed siege of Gaza spurred outrage around the world–and catapulted the international movement in support of the Palestinian people to a new stage.

At the Socialism 2010 conference in Chicago, four voices from that movement discussed the future of the struggle for a free Palestine and a free Middle East at a forum attended by nearly 1,000 people.

Kevin Ovenden is a leader of the Viva Palestina movement that has organized three overland convoys to bring aid to Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing.

Kevin was on the lead ship of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, when it was attacked in international waters by Israeli commandos who killed at least nine people and injured many more. Along with other survivors, Kevin was detained and held in an Israeli prison in the Negev Desert until his release. He and Viva Palestina are working with other solidarity organizations to plan a new effort to break the siege this fall.

Protesters march in New York City for an end to the siege of Gaza following Israel’s massacre on the Mavi Marmara Protesters march in New York City for an end to the siege of Gaza following Israel’s massacre on the Mavi Marmara

“ALL CHANGED, changed utterly.” So wrote the great poet William Butler Yeats after the British suppression of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. After Bloody Monday in the Eastern Mediterranean, we can complete that couplet.

A new phase of struggle is born, but at a terrible, almost unbearable price: Nine of our brothers taken from us, scores more wounded by gunshots, their blood now lapping on the shores of Gaza. But their blood was not shed in vain, because the tide has turned, and we must seize this tide to make a lasting change in Palestine, the Middle East and around the world.

We remember all of them. I remembered them on the Monday night, bound in an Israeli dungeon in the Negev Desert, a place where any self-respecting friend of Palestine would be honored to spend just one minute.

I remembered the older man, one meter in front of me, shot through the leg. The man slightly younger than me, just to the right of me, shot through the abdomen. I remembered the photographer holding a camera, shot through the forehead, the high velocity bullet blowing away the back third of his skull, cradled by a friend of mine, Nicci Enchmarch, as the last few seconds of his life expired.

Series: Breaking the Siege

Read all the speeches from the Socialism 2010 public forum “Breaking the Siege of Gaza,” held June 18 in Chicago.

Putting the movement on the streets

All three of these men were shot from above. In all three instances, not one Israeli commando was in any immediate proximity. It’s completely unfeasible to claim that anyone was in fear of their life or in fear of violence when the shots rang out which gunned down those men.

The lies are falling apart, thick and fast. I could go through all the testimony and the evidence, and it will be accumulated not by the Israeli tribunal–the whitewash tribunal that they’ve set up in Tel Aviv.

There’s only one thing you need to know about this tribunal: the bona fide for its impartiality is that Israel has invited onto it a man called David Trimble, who is a representative of the Unionist establishment in the north of Ireland, which itself is complicit in covering up the massacre of 14 unarmed civilians on the streets of Derry–covering it up for 38 years.

There will be no truth, of course, from this inquiry, and we want an independent inquiry. But we do not have to wait for an independent inquiry, because the bold and blood-soaked facts are very straightforward. On the one hand, nine people dead. On the other, three or four roughed-up Israeli commandos. As you say on this side of the Atlantic, go figure. And millions of people around the world have already gone and figured.

That’s why Israel was on the back foot immediately after this massacre took place. But the enemy doesn’t rest, and they’re trying to get back onto the front foot. In particular, there is now a concerted effort to isolate, to denigrate, to calumniate against the government of Turkey, the people of Turkey and the civil society organizations of Turkey–in particular, the courageous IHH [Foundation for Humanitarian Relief] led by Bülent Yildirim.

In these circumstances, we as an international movement cannot allow the Turkish front to be isolated. That means that from California to Cairo, we must link arms together and all take a step forward into the front rank of this movement to propel it forward. This is what we must do now.

We cannot allow the propaganda that they’re putting about to gain currency. We need to refute them. We need to refute the slander that there is any affinity whatsoever between the mass, democratic, politically and civilly engaged but Islamist-inspired organizations in Turkey and the nihilist sectarians of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. We cannot allow any credence for their arguments whatsoever.

And we cannot allow the argument that the massacres on the Mavi Marmara were in any sense the responsibility of those of us who were aboard–that Israel was, in some sense, attacked.

Attacked by Ibrahim Bilgen, a 61-year-old father of six who was a candidate for mayor in forthcoming elections in his hometown? Attacked by 38-year-old Cevdet Kiliçlar, a brilliant photographer and journalist and father of two? Attacked? I’m reminded of what Malcolm X might have made of this–we didn’t land on Israel, Israel landed on us.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IT IS because we collectively defied and resisted Israeli terror that this event has had such an impact. Because of that, and because of something even more important–it was an event that connected with processes already underway for some time, reinforced those processes and opened up new possibilities for the movement.

The meaning of the massacre of the Mavi Marmara is that the miasma of defeat which has settled for far too long in the Middle East and on the minds of even many of us is finally lifting. And through the clearing fog, we can begin to see the steps that we can take forward to victory, and the ultimate victory for the Palestinian cause and the wider cause.

What are those processes? First, we know Israel’s hard, lethal power–we experienced it firsthand. But I must say in the names of the families at the gravesites of those who were buried on this Thursday and Friday after the massacre: We are not afraid. We weren’t afraid in Istanbul, and we’re not afraid in this room tonight.

And the reason we’re not afraid is that despite all the firepower and political capital, the legitimacy of the state of Israel has withered and wasted and is lower now than at any time since the inception of the Zionist entity 62 years ago.

There was a time, and some people in the audience are old enough to remember, when in many countries, even progressives–and in some countries, particularly progressives–saw the state of Israel as some kind of social-democratic outpost facing a sea of hostile, barbarous Arabism. A Sweden on the Eastern Mediterranean.

That visage is gone, and it’s been replaced by the faces of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman–and my God, what ugly faces they are.

The process has accelerated in the last four years. Israel’s invasion of Lebanon four years ago resulted in military and political defeat. It’s compensatory murderous attack on the people of Gaza 18 months ago resulted in a political defeat and did not achieve its military objective.

We now have a situation in the country where I come from, in Britain, as well as in Germany and in Australia, where many people who don’t really care that much about the Middle East are asking the question, “What’s in it for us in this relationship with a state that will forge the passports of our citizens in order to carry out an extra-judicial execution, thereby putting at risk any British passport holder who travels to Dubai?”

We have a situation now where some people in the United States are asking, and we should encourage more to ask, “What’s in it for the citizens of the United States for the billions of dollars to be voted through every year by Congress, to provide the very five bullets that were fired into the head of Furkan Dogan, an American citizen? What’s in it for people? What’s in it for you? What’s in it for the ordinary people in the United States?”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BECAUSE OF this, the movement has been growing. The convoy movement of organizations like Viva Palestina has become bigger and more effective over the last 18 months. So have individual ships going to Gaza, leading to the flotilla of six ships that was so brutally attacked. And the movement to isolate apartheid Israel in the way that apartheid South Africa was isolated through boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

It’s because this movement is growing that even in the Negev Desert, isolated as we were, we could explain to those who were perhaps more fearful, “Don’t worry, the truth will get out. We have friends, some of them we know, many of them we don’t, but they will take to the streets instantaneously.” And you did–you took to the streets instantaneously.

There’s another factor, and it’s that the geopolitical plates in the Middle East that have locked in place the oppression of the Palestinians for so long are beginning to shift.

Put simply, you didn’t have to be Henry Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski to know in 2003 that if you knocked out the Baathist regime in Iraq, that the Islamic Republic of Iran would gain in prestige and influence in the region. That was obvious. But it was also predictable that other powers or would-be powers would seek to step into the regional vacuum that was created.

And underlying all the contingent political events taking place is what’s happening with the state of Turkey and sections of Turkish capitalism–attempting to redefine its role inside the Middle East, not in complete opposition to the United States, but straining at the bonds of the embedded relationship between the Turkish state and the state of Israel, and between the Turkish state, through NATO, to the United States.

This is a process that isn’t moving simply in one direction. In 2003, the Turkish parliament voted, in what was a pivotal moment, not to allow the United States to use 14 airbases in Turkey to muster an invasion of Iraq from the north. It helped to concentrate the minds of the members of parliament in Turkey that there were hundreds of thousands of people protesting outside in the streets of Ankara.

It’s not that these state actors will deliver victory, but the actions of these states will create the fissures through which the struggle can emerge in order to win victories.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE MOVEMENT is at a turning point. The question is not whether the siege of Gaza will be lifted, but how long it will take and how it will be lifted.

How decisive this turning point is will not be completely in our hands. But a part of it is in our hands. This is the Sharpeville, the Soweto, of the Palestine solidarity movement. Not the Sharpeville and Soweto of the Palestinians. The Palestinians have seen more and more massive massacres every year–since Deir Yassin, through Black September, through Sabra and Shatila, through to the atrocities against the people of Gaza. Not of the Palestinians, but of the movement of us who stand with the Palestinians.

Brothers and sisters, comrades, we must change ourselves. All movements need activists, but we cannot simply be a movement of activists. We must become a movement of people, of social and mass democratic forces, above all in the Middle East, which can transform the lives of the Palestinian people.

People ask me whether there will be more flotillas and more convoys. There will be more flotillas and more convoys. Immediately after the month of Ramadan, around the middle of September, a gigantic international convoy organized by Viva Palestina will leave from London, heading through Europe, into the Near East, down to Aqaba, across the Sinai, and up to the Rafah crossing. Simultaneously, a bigger flotilla, representative of more countries, will muster in the Mediterranean, travel port to port, and aim to be off the coast of Gaza at the same time that we are at the crossing at Rafah.

Why? Why must this continue? Because of the direct challenge it presents to Israel and, it must be said, with those states that are complicit in the siege on the Palestinian people. Rafah is an Arab-Arab crossing. If Egypt opened the border to everything that Gaza needed, the siege would be ended.

So a combined pincer movement, and on that day, if not before, the siege will fall–the siege will be directly challenged, and the siege will fall.

And this can spur on the burgeoning movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, and create a climate of opinion in which no self-respecting person regards the apartheid state of Israel as any form of a legitimate entity in the 21st century.

This is what happened with apartheid South Africa. That climate of opinion created the circumstances in which a young shop worker in Dublin, Mary Manning, could refuse to serve a customer who wanted to buy South African produce. She was fired, there was a strike, and it became an international cause célèbre.

There are Mary Mannings out there in this city, in Britain, in Ireland and in other countries. We must create the circumstances in which they feel confident to act.

This is the Sharpeville and the Soweto. Remember, the apartheid abomination could murder 69 people in Sharpeville. It could gun down Hector Pieterson and hundreds of school students in Soweto. It could torture and execute our prince Steve Biko. But Nelson Mandela walked free. Apartheid did fall.

The siege will be lifted. The apartheid wall will fall. To Gaza, through Gaza, for Palestine–Free, sovereign, dignified!

Transcription by Rebecca Anshell Song

11 unions back campaign to boycott Israel

Posted in International BDS Actions, Labor Organizing on June 29, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Sun 27 Jun 2010

The international campaign for boycott, sanctions and divestment against Israel is starting to gain leverage in Australia, especially since the recent killings of nine Turkish solidarity activists.

Since the May 31 attack on the flotilla of peace activists who were attempting to break the siege of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid, several more trade unions have signed up to the boycott campaign.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union was the first Australian trade union to join the international boycott of Israel, even before the attack on the flotilla.

Now eleven Australian trade unions and regional trade councils have joined the boycott.

Mal Tulloch from the New South Wales CFMEU visited occupied Palestine earlier this year as part of a study tour to the Middle East organized by Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.

He spoke with 2SER’s Liz Cush – hear the interview here:

http://2ser.podomatic.com/entry/eg/2010-06-26T07_42_48-07_00

Turkey: All-Inclusive Boycott Of Israel

Posted in BDS Success, International BDS Actions on June 29, 2010 by Marcy Newman

By DAVID BEDEIN, Middle East Correspondent

Friday, June 18, 2010

JERUSALEM – The relationship between Israel and its long-standing friend in the region, which has deteriorated consistently over the past several months, has now reached a new low.

The Turkish ambassador to Israel, who was recalled to Ankara after the May 31 flotilla takeover, in which Israeli troops killed nine Turkish terrorists, has not been returned to Israel. According to current reports, he is not expected to return to Israel any time soon. The Turks are planning on lowering the level of relations so that they only have a “representative” in Israel.

According to reports in Turkey, the $180 million dollar unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) deal that was signed with Israel has been cancelled. In keeping with the contract, Israeli teams had been in Turkey to train local teams to use the UAVs. Following the flotilla affair, the Israeli teams were called back to Israel, and the Turks claimed that by so doing Israel had violated the contract, rendering it null and void.

Other reports indicate that the Turks are considering prohibiting Israeli ships from docking in Turkish ports, impeding Israeli businesspeople, and discouraging Israeli tourism. Turkish officials are also contemplating filing suits against Israel with the International Court of Justice at The Hague and voting against Israel in various international forums.

“It is clear today that Erdogan only wants to worsen relations with Israel,” top Foreign Ministry officials said yesterday. “Stage by stage he is going to deteriorate them—all the way to severing relations.”

Israeli officials are afraid that Mr. Erdogan will search for an excuse to prompt a further deterioration in relations. They said that the Turkish prime minister has been coming under mounting domestic criticism for his actions. In the meantime, that criticism has been quite soft, but Israeli officials have been encouraged by the fact that many Turkish officials have said that they do not understand why Mr. Erdogan has downgraded relations, and that criticism might just stem the tide. Opposition figures in Turkey have charged that Mr. Erdogan has responded disproportionately and is joining forces with Iran. Other reports indicated that the Americans have sent the Turks very stern messages about their closer relations with the Iranians.

Italian Boycott Of Israel

Meanwhile, the boycott against Israel has expanded further and has begun to affect countries that are considered to be its friends. Italian government officials capitulated to Arab pressure and decided not to invite Israel to the conference of Mediterranean countries that is to be held in Milan in July, despite the fact that Israel is a member country of the forum. This decision has deeply angered the Israelis, who are pressuring the Italians to reverse the decision.

Israel’s banishment from the conference, which is to be attended by representatives of 26 countries, including Arab countries, was sponsored by Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Stefania Gabriella Anastasia Craxi. The Arabs said that they would make their participation contingent upon a refusal to invite Israel, and Ms. Craxi succumbed to the pressure. When Israeli officials tried to ask her to explain, she became evasive.

Ben-Eliezer: ‘I Don’t Believe In Boycotts As A Means Of Political Pressure’

Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has voiced his reservations about any counter Israeli initiative to boycott Turkish products. “We need to separate completely the issue of trade from political issues. We must not allow for trade to be politicized. I am not prepared to accept the use of boycotts as a means of political pressure,” said Mr. Ben-Eliezer in the course of a tour of northern Israel. Mr. Ben-Eliezer’s comments were made in reference to the statements that were made by Rami Levy, who has decided to remove all Turkish products from his supermarkets’ shelves.

Mr. Ben-Eliezer also said, “We must not translate our emotional tempest into steps that are liable to result in a worsening of the existing situation. This kind of deterioration will damage a lot of Israeli companies as well, which despite the crisis are still engaged in fertile commercial relations with Turkey.” Minister Ben-Eliezer said, “these kinds of steps—we know where they begin, but we can’t know how they are going to end.”

The industry, trade and labor minister called on local companies to set politics aside and to retract statements that have been aired in the course of the past day. “International trade is one of the principal bridges between countries and we have to do everything to preserve it. Furthermore, I believe that the way to restore routine relations passes through strengthening the commercial relations and the strong connection that has been built over many years between the members of the business communities in Turkey and Israel.”

Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Director General Sharon Kedmi formally addressed the directors of the major supermarket chains and asked them not to exacerbate the current situation. “I am turning to you with a request to address this issue responsibly and with deliberation and to distinguish between political processes and economic processes,” Mr. Kedmi wrote to the supermarket chain directors. “Undoubtedly, the recent events have elicited powerful emotions among the citizenry, but it is incumbent upon all of us to look ahead and to anticipate the severe repercussions of those actions, repercussions that are tantamount to a snowball that ultimately will be translated into most egregious economic damage to the citizens of Israel.”

Mr. Kedmi also wrote in his letter, “In the past number of days statements have been heard from various companies about boycotting Turkish products in Israel. Actions of that type have enormous economic repercussions given the fact, among others, that many companies that engage in fertile trade relations with Turkey, even in the shadow of the recent events, are liable to be damaged.”

The director general of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry also wrote that “as part of the processes of globalization, the old world orders have disappeared and the countries of the world are competing fiercely with one another. The State of Israel competes on that field every day, and damage to its trade relations with Turkey is liable to create a vacuum in which other countries will enter.”

David Bedein can be reached at bedein[at]thebulletin.us.

Call Rod Stewart to cancel upcoming concert in Israel

Posted in Cultural Boycott, Take Action on June 29, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Please take 30 seconds to ask Rod Stewart to cancel Israeli concert in support of Palestinian Boycott call

La version française suit…

Later this week, singer Rod Stewart is scheduled to perform a concert in Israel. Nevertheless, in 2005, Palestinian civil society called for cultural boycott of Israel until Israel respects its obligations under international law. Santana, Elvis Costello, The Pixies and other prominent performers have recently cancelled concerts in Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian call. Please send an email asking Rod Stewart to cancel his upcoming concert.

Please forward this email to anyone you think may want to participate.

Please click here to send your email to Rod Stewart.

More information

In 2005, over 170 Palestinian organizations sponsored a boycott call calling the international community to impose boycott and divestment campaigns on Israel. This boycott call is to apply “until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination” and fully complies with the precepts of international law.

Rod Stewart is an international performer who began his career in the 1960s. He has sold over 130 million records worldwide, and is one of the best selling British singers of all time. He was voted at #33 in Q Magazine’s list of the top 100 Greatest Singers of all time. On June 30, Rod Stewart is scheduled to perform a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Warmest regards,

The CJPME Leadership

CJPME Email – CJPME Website

***
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. CJPME’s work depends on donations to continue.

Please donate today either:

Via our on-line donation page

By printing and mailing in the CJPME donation form (11237 Frigon, Montreal, QC, H3M 2R6)

By calling our office at 438-380-5410

Prenez 30 secondes pour demander à Rod Stewart d’annuler son concert en Israël par soutien envers l’appel palestinien au boycott

Cette semaine, le chanteur Rod Stewart a prévu de donner un concert en Israël. Or, en 2005, la société civile palestinienne a appelé au boycott culturel d’Israël jusqu’à ce que ce dernier respecte ses obligations en vertu du droit international. Santana, Elvis Costello, The Pixies et d’autres artistes de renom ont récemment annulé des concerts en Israël en solidarité avec l’appel palestinien. Envoyez un courriel demandant à Rod Stewart d’annuler son concert à venir.

N’oubliez pas de faire suivre ce courriel à tous ceux qui selon vous pourraient être intéressés à participer.

Cliquez ici pour envoyer votre courriel à Rod Stewart.

Plus d’informations

En 2005, plus de 170 organisations palestiniennes ont parrainé un appel au boycott demandant à la communauté internationale d’appliquer un boycott et des campagnes de désinvestissement contre Israël. Cet appel au boycott est de rigueur « jusqu’à ce qu’Israël respecte son obligation de reconnaître au peuple palestinien son droit inaliénable à l’autodétermination » et se conforme entièrement aux préceptes du droit international.

Rod Stewart est un artiste de renommée internationale qui a commencé sa carrière dans les années 1960. Il a vendu plus de 130 millions de disques dans le monde entier et est l’un des chanteurs britanniques ayant le plus vendu à travers le temps. Il a été élu au n° 33 de la liste des meilleurs chanteurs de tous les temps par le Q Magazine. Le 30 juin, le chanteur Rod Stewart a prévu de donner un concert à Tel Aviv.

Sincères salutations,

La direction de CJPMO

Courriel CJPMO – Site Web CJPMO

***

Canadiens pour la justice et la paix au Moyen-Orient (CJPMO) est une organisation séculière, sans but lucratif, regroupant des hommes et des femmes d’horizons divers qui œuvrent pour que la justice et la paix renaissent au Moyen-Orient. Le travail de CJPMO dépend de vos contributions pour continuer.

Workers Stand Against Israeli Apartheid

Posted in BDS Success, International BDS Actions, Labor Organizing on June 27, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Workers Stand Against Israeli Apartheid 48 min. 2010 Labor Video Project In a historic labor/community protest on June 20, 2010, more than five hundred people joined picket lines in the Port of Oakland SSA terminal to call on ILWU Local 10 and ILWU Local 34 members not to cross the picket lines and work the Israeli Zim ship Shenzhen. The call for a labor boycott was in response to the criminal attack by Israel on the aid flotilla going to Gaza and the ongoing blockade of Gaza. The longshore workers refused to cross the picket line and the protesters as a result were successful in stopping the work on the SSA terminal for 24 hours halting the ships departure until the following day. This labor documentary shows the link and continuity of this action with the 1984 apartheid picket of a ship from South Africa. ILWU workers and others make comparison of these pickets and also why they consider Israel an apartheid regime. Footage of this action and the action today provide a striking connection over 26 years. The port boycott picket was also endorsed by the Oakland Education Association OEA and the San Francisco and Alameda Central Labor Councils. Many bay area trade unionists who joined the picket line speak out on this issue and why they have taken a stand. Additional Footage by Oriana Bolden www.reelchange.org John Parulis http://brightpathvideo.com Marty Conlisk www.laborbeat.org For further videos go to: ILWU10 EB Member Heyman Supports Swedish Porworkers Union Boycott Of Israeli Ships/Cargo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64aqrjNOqds Transport Workers Solidarity Committee TWSC www.transportworkers.org Production Of Labor Video Project P.O. Box 720027, San Francisco, CA 94172 laborvideo.blip.tv or www.laborvideo.org

Swansea City Council resolve to exclude Veolia from future contracts

Posted in BDS Success, International BDS Actions on June 27, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Breakthrough! On 17 June Swansea City Council passed a resolution to exclude Veolia from all future contracts. Swansea is the second largest city in Wales. This is highly significant. It is the first time that a council in UK has passed such a resolution. To our knowledge the only local authorities in Europe to pass similar resolutions are Irish: Dublin recently, and perhaps Sligo and Galway earlier.

This is the text as it appeared on the agenda and was passed by the full council unamended:

Notice of Motion from Councillors M. Hedges, D. Phillips, A. Lloyd, J Burtonshaw, J. Miles, R. Stewart, C. Thomas, C. Richards, B. Lloyd, R. Francis-Davies, E. Kirchner, M. Child:

“The UN not only does not recognise Israel’s annexation and occupation of East Jerusalem, but has repeatedly stated its view that the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank contravene international law, and it has demanded that Israeli settlement activities and occupation should not be supported. The international trading company, Veolia, is a leading partner in a consortium seeking to build a light railway system linking Israel to illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, a project that clearly not only contravenes UN demands but is in contravention of international law.

This Council therefore calls on the Leader & Chief Executive not to sign or allow to be signed any new contracts or renewal of any existing contracts with Veolia or any other company in breach of international law, so long as to do so would not be in breach of any relevant legislation.”

The motion was put up by the Labour Party group and was narrowly passed 19 – 18 with some Liberal Democrats voting against and most abstaining. Swansea Palestine Community Link are in touch with councillors on this and hope to generate local media interest.

Sabeel DC Boycotts Israeli-made Ahava Products in Sliver Spring, MD Protest

Posted in Apartheid, International BDS Actions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on June 26, 2010 by Marcy Newman

On Saturday, June 26, 2010, human rights activists staged a protest action in front of Ulta Cosmetics Salon, in Silver Spring, MD, just north of Washington.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sabeel DC Boycotts Israeli-made Ahava Products …, posted with vodpod

Petition: A World United for the Freedom of Humanity…Freedom of Palestine

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Take Action, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on June 26, 2010 by Marcy Newman

By Mohamed Khodr • Jun 23rd, 2010 at 19:00

[Author’s Note: I urge all worldwide citizens who read this petition to please consider signing it to provide a voice for the voiceless Palestinians and to disseminate it as widely as possible urging others to do the same. Thank you for your humanity.]

This Petition will be presented to the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon, Members of the U.N. Security Council and Governments and Organizations in respective nations of Signers.

PLEASE SIGN PETITION AT:

http://www.petitiononline.com/pal0610/petition.html

“Brothers in suffering, brothers in resistance, brothers in ideals and conviction. It is now our duty to further strengthen this bond in order to secure this hard-won freedom for future generations.”
–Guy Verhofstadt , former Prime Minister of Belgium

We The People, citizens of the world sharing a common planet, sharing the fate and destiny of life and death, sharing a globe decorated by the gifts of air, land, and sea, sharing the joys and sorrows of our fellow man and woman, hereby declare our freedom from fear, our freedom from all greedy, subjugating, occupying, and oppressive forces, our freedom to declare, resist, and fight by all means necessary man’s evil toward fellow man without fear of consequences.

“I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.”
Eugene Debs

Thus we unite in words, but more importantly in actions, to solemnly declare our full commitment to the liberty, freedom, equality, and most importantly, justice and peace for all mankind. We will not rest until every child is born free, lives free, and dies free.

We commit ourselves to the democratic principle that all men, women, and children are created equal in the eyes of God and humanity and are endowed with the inalienable rights to life, liberty, freedom, justice, honor, dignity, and respect. No people or nation shall be permitted to live arrogantly and act with impunity, denying freedom and justice to others and defying the will and laws accepted by all mankind.

We The People of the world reject and will resist any political, economic, or military power that seeks to oppress peoples while thieving their lands and resources to the benefit of the few, the elites, the greedily corrupt corporate dominated governments who utilize their military might to declare their right to the lands and wealth of weaker nations.

History is replete with powerful empires invading and enslaving peoples with an arrogance and sense of supremacy that the lives of the subjugated people are expendable and subordinate to their goals of economic thievery. But history has always shown that all empires crumble when the masses rise up in rebellion and resistance to reclaim their freedom from oppression.

As Napoleon stated:

“There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.”

We The People, in total recognition that the most catastrophic tragedy in modern history inflicted upon innocent natives is the illegal theft of a land, Palestine, and the forceful ethnic cleansing of two thirds of its people and destruction of hundreds of their villages to establish the State of Israel allegedly as a safe haven for the persecuted European Jews.

England gifted Palestine, a land it did not own or occupy, to Jews in a simple 68 worded letter, the Balfour Declaration, sent to a rich English Jewish banker, Lord Rothschild, in 1917. President Truman in 1948 recognized the newly established State of Israel within 6 minutes of its declaration of “independence” (from whom?).

“It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”
–Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot (Israeli Newspaper), July 14, 1972 (Cited in Nur Masalha’s “A land Without A People” 1997, p98).

Millions of Palestinians are now the largest refugee population in the world living in refugee camps run by the United Nation Organization, UNRWA, as dispossessed refugees in their own land and in a Diaspora in neighboring Arab countries and around the world. They have been refugees for 62 years while the world remains silent as Israel continues to expropriate and settle their remaining lands in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, all with the aid and protection of the United States, a superpower shackled by the powerful Pro Israeli lobbies and media.

World Governments maybe silent but we citizens of the world will “never again” be silent as Israel, the most condemned nation on earth by hundreds of U.N. Resolutions, the International Criminal Court, and Human Rights Organizations, continues to commit war crimes against Palestinian civilians, acting with total impunity and protection from its hostage supporter, the United States.

We The People, the signers of this petition from around the world today declare that words and silence are no longer an option, no longer a policy or behavior worthy of our humanity and our beloved values of brotherhood, justice and equality for all mankind.

We will join each other with dedicated courageous hearts and hands in an unrelenting worldwide massive movement and resistance against any government that adopts a direct or indirect policy of supporting Israel’s illegal occupation due to domestic or international pressures.

We will unite and coordinate our actions through world wide organizations supporting humanity’s goal to finally end Israel’s Occupation and establish the Free State of Palestine within the 1967 borders. We will work through all means of communication, primarily through the Internet: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and websites.

This will be the first peaceful Internet Revolution and overthrow of a colonial power in history.

We should begin by educating ourselves on the Palestinian issue then launch massive educational campaigns in our respective communities and countries.

In democratic nations we must launch a voter registration campaign to ensure that politicians are held accountable for any action supportive of Israel.

In the United States most minorities are not registered to vote or don’t vote. Given that minorities will become the majority of the American population in 40 years, their votes and future political clout will impact America’s support of Israel and its foreign policy based on militarism. Voter registration, not money, is the key to free all humanity from the industrial-military-media complex that has whittled our intellect and replaced it with Pavlovian consumerism.

All of us must match if not surpass Israel’s massive and well coordinated public relations machine that quickly feeds the lies and propaganda to its supportive western media. In every nation Pro Peace and Pro Palestinians organizations and activist websites must develop massive email lists to rapidly disseminate information requiring a rapid response from its listserves with emails, phone numbers, and faxes on whom to contact. Israel kills with bullets and supports its massacres with powerful media sound byres and talking points.

We must not allow our governments or institutions to serve Israel’s interests above our own national interests. In the U.S., Congress eagerly sends billions of dollars to Israel while denying unemployment benefits, preventing the loss of hundreds of thousands of teachers, and feeding America’s hungry children.

We will educate our peoples to totally boycott and divest from companies, corporations and their subsidiaries, academic institutions, labor unions, or any organization that directly or indirectly invests or does business with Israel, especially in the Arab and Muslim world.

We shall commit ourselves to participate and strengthen the already existing Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions campaigns against Israel.

(see: http://bdsmovement.net/, http://www.bigcampaign.org/, http://www.jai-pal.org/content.php?page=173, http://boycottisrael.info/, among many other campaigns)

We shall boycott and cancel all paid subscriptions to any and all media that is biased against the Palestinians and Pro Israel in its reporting and editorials. News is easily accessible through television, radio, and the internet.

We the People, vow to establish November 29 as an annual worldwide day of protest against Israel’s illegal theft and occupation of Palestinian and Syrian land. This November 29 will be the 63rd anniversary of the war crime known as U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 passed November 29, 1947, that illegally partitioned Palestine, giving European Jews 55% of Palestine although they constituted one third of Palestine’s population, and 45% to Palestinians who comprised two thirds of Palestine’s population, notwithstanding that all of Palestine, except 6%, was their land in 1947.

Contrary to western governmental lies and propaganda the Palestinians in 1988 agreed to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to accept a Palestinian nation along the 1967 borders, a mere 22% of their previous homeland (now they own less than 14% of Palestine due to illegal settlements, military bases, the Apartheid Wall, and military buffer zones.)

Hamas on several occasions has repeatedly stated it will accept a Palestine state along the 1967 borders, including in a letter carried to President George W. Bush.

See: http://sabbah.in/bnx691
and
http://sabbah.in/bHkqi9
and
http://sabbah.in/buHrLH

The Arab League’s Peace Proposal of 2002, reiterated in 2007, offered Israel a Pan Arab peace proposal that recognizes and normalizes all relations with Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands. Israel has never been interested in Peace thus rejecting this extraordinary plan.

For 2,600 years whenever Jews were given an opportunity to return to Palestine, the vast majority preferred living outside the “Promised Land”.

Between 1880 and 1925, about 2,378,000 European Jews preferred immigrating to the United States while less than 40,000 Jews chose Palestine. Jobs and wealth have always surpassed their claim to Palestine. The situation exists till this day where more Jews live outside of Israel than inside with the greatest majority being in the United States.

[See: http://sabbah.in/92Clvx ; ‘Encyclopedia Judaica]

We the People, in truth and courage will never stop our words and actions until a Palestinian child can enjoy all the freedoms, rights, privileges, and citizenship conferred upon him/her by his/her own independent State of Palestine with its capitol in East Jerusalem.

Palestinians will for the first time in 100 years learn to smile again, to laugh, to play, and finally to sleep in peace without fear and nightmares.

Our journey is long, difficult, and faces many obstacles, but it shall begin with a first step, your caring signature on this petition.

God bless all who sign this petition who love freedom for themselves and for all humanity.

Dr. Mohamed Khodr
U.S.A.

“Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore, (individual citizens) have the duty to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
~ Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, 1950 ~

(Please visit this site: http://sabbah.in/cUUvVh to read Zionist’s deliberate policy of ethnically cleansing Palestinians.)

Mohamed Khodr is a political activist who frequently writes on the plight of Palestinians living under the brutal occupation of Israel, U.S. Foreign Policy, Islam, and Arab politics

بلى، من حقّنا مقاطعة الأبارتهايد الصهيوني!

Posted in Actions in Lebanon, Arab Complicity, Cultural Boycott, Normalization on June 26, 2010 by Marcy Newman

ارتفعت في بيروت أصوات تطالب D.J. Tiesto بإلغاء حفلته الإسرائيليّة، عشيّة زيارته إلى لبنان. هل خطاب المقاطعة شعبويّ وعنيف، كما يؤكّد فرسان الليبراليّة؟

سماح إدريس*

«لقد استجاب فنّانون كثيرون، وفرقٌ فنيّةٌ عديدة، نداءَ المجتمع المدنيّ الفلسطينيّ عام 2005 من أجل مقاطعة إسرائيل وسحبِ الاستثمارات منها وفرضِ العقوبات عليها، بسبب احتلالها، وممارستِها التمييزَ العنصريّ (الأبارتهايد)، وحرمانِها [اللاجئين] الفلسطينيين حقَّهم في العودة إلى بيوتهم على ما تنصّ قراراتُ الأمم المتحدة نفسُها. بيكسيز، وغوريلاز ساوند سيستم، وألفيس كوستللو، وغيل سكوت ــــ هيرون، وكارلوس سانتانا، وبونو/U2، من بين آخرين، امتنعوا عن تقديم عروضهم في الكيان المغتصب».
هذا ما جاء في رسالةٍ وجّهتْها أخيراً مجموعةٌ من الناشطين (مجلة «الآداب»، و«حملة مقاطعة داعمي إسرائيل»، و«الحملة اللبنانيّة لمقاطعة الصهيونيّة»، و«حملة مقاطعة إسرائيل وسحب الاستثمارات منها وفرض العقوبات عليها ــــ لبنان»، و«الطلبة السوريّون القوميّون الاجتماعيّون»، وقطاع الشباب والطلاب في «حركة الشعب»، و«اتحاد الشباب الديموقراطيّ»، و«مركز حقوق اللاجئين ــــ عائدون») إلى دي. دجاي. تييسْتو، القادم إلى لبنان لإحياء حفلة فنيّة في 3 تمّوز (يوليو)، تدعوه فيها إلى الاقتداء بالفنّانين والفرق الموسيقيّة أعلاه، والامتناع عن تقديم عرض فنيّ في دولة الإجرام الصهيونيّ عشيّة سفره إلى لبنان.

وعزت الرسالة طلبَها إلى أنّ عرض تييسْتو هناك سيُعتبر «دعماً تحتاجه هذه الدولةُ لمواجهة عزْلتِها العالميّة المتصاعدة»، ولا سيّما بعد الجريمة التي اقترفتْها في عرض المياه الدوليّة ضدّ أسطول الحريّة. ولخّص معدّو الرسالة أبرزَ جرائم إسرائيل في لبنان منذ 1948 (قتل، وتهجير، واحتلال، ومنع فلسطينيي لبنان من العودة إلى ديارهم في فلسطين خلافاً لقرارات الأمم المتحدة، وسرقة مياه وزرع قنيبلات عنقوديّة…).

وبعدما أكّدوا «تقديرَهم» لفنّ تييستو، صارحوه بأنّ لبنانيين كثراً لا يستطيعون الاستمتاعَ بهذا الفن، حين يروْن صاحبَه يتجاهل عذاباتهم الناجمة عن عدوان إسرائيل المتكرر على أرضهم وانتهاكها حقوقهم. وأنهوا الرسالة بالجملة الآتية: «إننا نحثّكم، يا دي. دجاي. تييسْتو، على ألا تسمحوا بتحويل فنّكم إلى وسيلة لتبييض صفحة جرائم هذه الدولة المارقة».

هذه الرسالة كانت نتيجة سلسلة لقاءات عقدها هؤلاء الناشطون، واتفقوا فيها على أن يتبنّوا السبيلَ الأخلاقيّ الذي اعتمدتْه «حملةُ مقاطعة إسرائيل وسحبِ الاستثمارات منها وفرضِ العقوبات عليها»، وهي حملةٌ أطلقها المجتمعُ المدنيّ الفلسطينيّ بغالبيّة قواه ومؤسّساته عام 2005 وأصبحتْ عالميّة التأثير. يُذكر أنّ هذا السبيل قد بات جزءاً من اللغة السائدة لدى عشرات الآلاف ــــ طلاباً وأكاديميين ورياضيين وموسيقيين وعمّالَ مرفأ وأتباعَ كنائس… ــــ وخصوصاً في جنوب أفريقيا وإيرلندا وبريطانيا وكندا وفرنسا وإيطاليا. كما أنّ شخصيّات عالميّة، من وزن كبير الأساقفة دزموند توتو، جَهرتْ بتأييدها للمقاطعة وسيلةً نضاليّةً مدنيّةً لإنهاء الظلم وإحقاق العدالة.

غير أنّ بعضهم في لبنان ما زال مصرّاً على تصوير خطاب المقاطعة كأنه خطابٌ تهديديّ وقرْوسطيّ. فمَن «هدّد» فرقةَ «بلاسيبو» في لبنان يا د. منى فيّاض (ملحق النهار، 21/ 6/ 2010)؟ هل هدّد أحدٌ ألفيس كوستللو كي يمتنع (مشكوراً) عن إحياء حفلته في الكيان الغاصب، ثم نسي أو تناسى أن يهدِّد زوجتَه ديانا كرال التي لم تمتنعْ إلى هذه اللحظة عن إلغاء حفلتها هناك (ونرجو منها أن تفعل)؟!

وأين «الديماغوجيّة» و«الشعبويّة» يا أستاذ حازم صاغيّة (موقع «لبنان الآن»، 14/ 6/ 2010) بعدما وثّقنا توثيقاً جيّداً دعمَ جاد المليح لإسرائيل («الأخبار»، 2/7/2009) بعيداً عن صورته العسكريّة الشهيرة التي قد تكون «مركّبة»؟ ألم يشتركْ في حملة تضامن مع والد الجنديّ الإسرائيليّ الأسير جلعاد شاليط في مناسبة مرور 850 يوماً على أسره، وأغفل الحديثَ عن آلاف المعتقلين العرب في السجون الإسرائيليّة؟ ألم يدعُ فنّاني العالم إلى زيارة إسرائيل، بما يعنيه ذلك من تحدٍّ لنداء المقاطعة العالميّ، ومن ضخٍّ لملايين الشيكلات في الاقتصاد الإسرائيليّ؟ ألم يقلْ لجيل سيتروك في 14/ 3 /2008 إنّ إسرائيل التي خبِرها شعبُنا دمويّةً أبارتهايديّةً، «مجتمعٌ صحّيّ جداً، ومتوازنٌ، وحيّ»؟

الطريف حقاً أنّ الآية انقلبت اليوم في بعض الخطاب الثقافيّ العربيّ. ففيما ناشطو المقاطعة أمثالنا، من القومجيين والخشبيين والديماغوجيين والتوتاليتاريين و«فرسان مكافحة التطبيع» (والتسمية هي لحازم صاغيّة الذي يمكن وصفُه بأنّه «كبيرُ فرسان مكافحة مكافحة التطبيع»)، يوثّقون دعاويهم جيّداً، نجد ما يسمّى «أنصارَ الحريّة والبحث العلميّ» أشبهَ ما يكونون بمثقفي الأنظمة العربيّة: يرمون بالتهم جزافاً، ويطْردون المختلفين عنهم من ملكوت مسلّماتهم ويقينيّاتهم. وحين يريدون أن يوهموا الناسَ بعلميّتهم في مقاومة المقاطعة، لا يتجاوزون قراءةَ الصفحتين الأولييْن من ويكيبيديا عن «البويْكوتاج»، رغم أنّ الإنترنت يعجّ بمئات الدراسات المعمّقة عن المقاطعة الأكاديميّة والثقافيّة، وخصوصاً تلك التي يكتبها المثقفون الفلسطينيون أنفسُهم من أجل مخاطبة العالم.

تريدون مكافحة مقاطعة إسرائيل يا سادة؟ إذاً، قبل أن تقذفوا بآرائكم خبطَ عشواء، اقرأوا تجاربَ المقاطعة الناجحة في الهند، وجنوب أفريقيا، والولايات المتحدة (الحقوق المدنيّة). ثم اقرأوا روّادَ فكر مقاطعة إسرائيل اليوم: عمر البرغوثي (فلسطين)، وروني كاسريلز (جنوب أفريقيا)، وكول كيليبردا (كندا)،

وسوزان بلاكول، وديريك سمرفيلد، وهيلاري روز وبتي هنتر (بريطانيا)، وسوندرا هيل (الولايات المتحدة)… بل اقرأوا الباحثيْن الجامعيّيْن الإسرائيليّيْن، الداعييْن إلى مقاطعة إسرائيل، إيلان بابيه ونيف غوردون. وكلُّ هؤلاء تقريباً نُقلتْ مقالاتُهم إلى العربيّة، وهي منشورة إلى اليوم على موقع مجلة «الآداب».

لربّما ظنّ أعداءُ المقاطعة أنّ «التهديد» كامنٌ في نيّة بعض أنصار المقاطعة رفعَ دعوى على منظّمي هذه الحفلات في لبنان استناداً إلى قانون المقاطعة لعام 1955 (المادّة الأولى) وقانون العقوبات (المادة 285) إذا لم يستجب المنظّمون اللبنانيون شكواهم. مهما يكن الأمر، فإنه من غير المفهوم لماذا قرّر بعضُ «أنصار الحريّة» المستجدّين أن يستخفّوا بأفضلِ ما في القانون اللبنانيّ (أيْ مقاطعة إسرائيل)، فيما حرصوا على وجوب «تحكيم القانون في ألسنةٍ أفلتتْ من عقالها» (الحياة، 9/2/2008) ــــ والمقصود، تحديداً، لساني الذي سبق قبل أعوام أن «أفلت من عقاله» في «قدح وذمّ» أحد أصدقاء كبير فرسان مكافحة مكافحة التطبيع، ألا وهو كبيرُ مستشاري رئيس العراق فخري كريم.

لأدعياء حريّة التعبير والانفتاح أن يكتبوا ما شاؤوا. ولأنصار العدالة أن يسلكوا طريقَ مقاطعة الأبارتهايد الصهيونيّ التي باتت منذ بضعة أعوام سالكةً على كلّ الخطوط.

* رئيس تحرير مجلة «الآداب»

«أعظم D.J»

ولد الهولندي تييستو (اسمه الحقيقي تييِس فيرفست) عام 1969 ويُعد حالياً من أبرز الـ D.J والمنتجين على الساحة الإلكترونية الموسيقية. في عام 1997، أسّس شركة «بلاك هول» للإنتاج الموسيقي حيث بدأ يصعد نجمه كـ«أعظم دي دجاي على الكوكب».

وعن الشركة، أصدر ألبومات عدّة أوّلها «في ذاكرتي» (2001) و Just be (2004) و«عناصر الحياة» (2007)

عدد السبت ٢٦ حزيران ٢٠١٠ | شارك

World must deny legitimacy to Israel

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on June 25, 2010 by Marcy Newman

KADER ASMAL: COMMENT – Jun 25 2010 13:45

The world worked together to help bring apartheid to an end, writes Kader Asmal. So why allow it to live on in Israel/Palestine?

In 1980, I served on a commission of enquiry into reported violations of international law by Israel following its invasion of Lebanon. We spent 22 days in Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding areas. The devastation in Lebanon was quite overwhelming. Bombings were carried on while we were there; whole new blocks of flats in Beirut were destroyed simply because they were there. The noise, the dust and the sound of bullets were ceaseless.

And then, after our preliminary work had been done, there were the Sabra and Shatila massacres of hundreds of defenceless refugees, shot dead by the Israeli surrogates, the Phalange. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had been expelled from Lebanon. Golda Meir had said coldly that there was no such thing as a Palestinian. Now the visible signs of such people had to be destroyed, as with the famous Palestine Library in Beirut and the hospital records in the West Bank.

Israel Shahack, head of an Israeli civil-liberties body, drew my attention to the similarities between Israel and apartheid South Africa: “You see,” he said, “the West Bank and Gaza are our bantustans, reserves of labour for Israel but no freedom of labour.”

The Palestinians have been betrayed by those who believe in the legal system that holds the world together and they have been betrayed by their neighbours, who bought peace from Israel. The European Union grants Israel the enormous advantage of preferential trading status through the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and billions of American dollars in “aid” allows Israel to have the most technologically advanced army and counter-intelligence agency in the world.

It is time to delegitimise this entity. We did that to the apartheid government in South Africa, and the same must happen to Israel. We spent years trying to isolate South Africa, and the campaign grew to embrace a worldwide call for state-ordained boycotts, including military, economic, sporting, academic and cultural sanctions. These campaigns stirred the conscience of the world.

Today, in Israel, non-Jewish nationals have no right to return. Non-Jews are severely restricted in owning land in Israel and in the occupied territories. There is no freedom of movement for Palestinians, who can also lose their residence rights for the slightest reason. There is no right to assembly without the permission of the police. Israel, as the occupying power, has appropriated nearly 30% of the West Bank and destroyed the cohesiveness of East Jerusalem by building Israeli homes.

Every tenet of freedom and equality is violated by Israel, not only in the occupied territories but also in relation to their attitude to Palestine. Today the West Bank and East Jerusalem are home to nearly half a million Israeli settlers who are subject to Israeli and not Palestinian law. Special “Israeli-only” roads join these settlements together and to Israel. There are more than 600 checkpoints in the West Bank, where Palestinians need identity cards to travel from one village to another. Israel has imposed a matrix of controls that surpasses the restrictions once imposed by South Africa’s apartheid regime on the black population.

With the construction of its “apartheid wall”, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICC) in 2004, Israel has not just annexed a further 10% of Palestinian land but has divided the West Bank into increasingly watertight ghettos.

A look at a map of the West Bank reveals that, in reality, it is now part of greater Israel. There are two classes of people living in this territory: Jews who have rights and privileges and non-Jews who have neither. This is apartheid, and has been identified as such by former American president Jimmy Carter, among others. Given that the world worked together to help bring apartheid to an end, why allow its persistence in Israel/Palestine?

The United States perceives Israel as a strategic ally. Furthermore, the Israeli lobby is by far the most powerful on Capitol Hill. The EU is paralysed by the genocide committed against Europe’s Jews in the 1940s. This turns the Palestinians into scapegoats for Europe’s past crimes, while equating the Israeli state with the Jewish people, many of whom worldwide passionately oppose its policies.

With no external pressure to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians, domestic pressure in Israel for peace has become muted. Israel will not voluntarily relinquish control of the Palestinian territories, extend equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, or negotiate a just resolution to all outstanding issues if there are no negative consequences for maintaining the status quo.

Whenever an opportunity for negotiation arises, Israel derails it with a provocative act. In December 2008 and January 2009, the Israeli military onslaught on Gaza, named Operation Cast Lead, left 1 400 Palestinians civilians dead, including 116 women and 313 children. At no time in the history of apartheid did the racists use tactics such as those used by the Israelis: aerial strafing of built-up areas; tanks and cannon against houses; the destruction of water and sanitation works

In addition to the fatalities and injuries, tens of thousands of Palestinians were left homeless. Israel tightened the illegal blockade on Gaza in place since June 2007, preventing assistance being rendered to casualties and the importation of materials to rebuild Gaza. Nearly 20 000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are in Israel’s prisons.

In April 2009 the United Nations Human Rights Commission established an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international human-rights and humanitarian law during Operation Cast Lead. It was led by Richard Goldstone, a former member of the South African Constitutional Court and chief prosecutor with the international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

In September 2009 the Goldstone Report was released. It accused both the Israeli Defence Force and Palestinian militants of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. It recommended that Israel and Hamas carry out independent, credible investigations, and that the allegations be brought to the ICC if they didn’t. The Israeli government rejected the report’s findings; Hamas first rejected and then embraced it.

The most damning of the report’s findings is paragraph 1886 of its conclusions:

“The Mission recognises that not all deaths constitute violations of international humanitarian law. The principle of proportionality acknowledges that, under certain strict conditions, actions resulting in the loss of civilian life may not be unlawful. What makes the application and assessment of proportionality difficult in respect of many of the events investigated by the Mission is that deeds by the Israeli armed forces and words of military and political leaders prior to and during the operations indicate that, as a whole, they were premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed not at the enemy but at the ‘supporting infrastructure’. In practice, this appears to have meant the civilian population.”

In October 2009 the UN General Assembly endorsed Goldstone’s findings, as did the EU Parliament on March 10 2010 — and on March 22 the EU Foreign Affairs Council voted to enhance the EU/Israel Association agreement, providing Israel with even more favourable trading conditions!

It would appear that if there is a contest in EU policy between human rights and economic benefit, human rights come off worse. Yet the EU recently cancelled a trade agreement with Sri Lanka on human-rights grounds. The only logical conclusion is that Israel has impunity because of Europe’s past crimes. The moral question remains: Why must the Palestinian people pay with their lives and freedom to ease the consciences of Europeans?

Now we must engage in a “legitimacy war”. Doubt must be cast on several dimensions of Israel’s legitimacy, its status as a moral and law-abiding actor, as an occupying power, and with respect to its willingness to respect the UN and abide by international law. No more impunity. Israel’s leaders must be held to account.

The Goldstone report lends weight to calls from around the world to disrupt normal relations with Israel: by boycotting cultural and academic activities, by disrupting trade relations through disinvestment, or by refusing to load and unload ships and planes carrying cargo to or from Israel, and by pressing governments to impose economic sanctions.

It is up to all of us dedicated to peace and justice to do all we can to help the Palestinians prevail in the legitimacy war and bring their long ordeal to an end.

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