Archive for the Arab Complicity Category

Statement on Jihad al-Murr’s Lawsuit against BDS Organizers in Lebanon

Posted in Actions in Lebanon, Arab Complicity, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Normalization, Take Action on October 24, 2011 by Marcy Newman

You may have heard of the Jihad Al-Murr lawsuit against the organizers of the boycott of the 2010 Placebo concert in Lebanon. If not, here’s a quick recap:

Samah Idriss, director of Dar al-Adab publishing house, received a court summons [recently] from Beirut’s commerce court. Idriss is implicated in a lawsuit for his involvement in a Lebanese boycott campaign against the British rock group Placebo last year. Jihad el-Murr, who heads the company that organized the event, filed the suit on 10 July 2011.

El-Murr is suing Idriss, as well as three other groups involved in the campaign: the Aidoun Refugee Rights Center, the Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, and the Global BDS Campaign in Lebanon. El-Murr, a self-described famous businessman from a prominent family, is demanding US$180,000 compensation for his company’s financial losses allegedly caused by the boycott campaign.

Jihad el Murr is suing these four organizations/campaigns on the grounds that, because we called for the boycott of Placebo’s concert in Lebanon because they had just performed in Israel, we are thus financially responsible for the smaller turnout at this 2010 concert than the number that went to the 2004 Placebo concert in Lebanon. The lawsuit may have been inspired by the recent anti-boycott law passed by Knesset – which can hold individuals/organizations that call for boycott to be financially responsible for any losses endured by a company/other even without that company proving that the statements have resulted in the loss. The lawsuit may also have been inspired by potential future plans by Jihad el Murr. Either way, the intent is clear: to silence the boycott movement, and to muzzle free speech.

So:

Are you opposed to this anti-boycott lawsuit?
Are you opposed to this attempt to stifle free expression?

If so, please read the statement below. If you agree to this statement, please sign your full name, address, profession, and organization (if any). Please sign your name either in the “comment” section below or email it directly to me at rania.z.masri[at]gmail.com

Note: if you live in Lebanon, you may choose to sign a statement declaring that you are a member of the Campaign to Boycott Zionist Supporters in Lebanon. If so, please state as such in your email or in your comment.

We, the undersigned, attest that we are members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. We attest that, consequently, we are defendants in the lawsuit against us by To You To See, represented by its manager Mr. Jihad Al-Murr, on the basis of our support for the boycott of the Placebo concert in June 2010 due to Placebo’s insistence on performing in Israel on the eve of the massacre against the Freedom Flotilla.

We, the undersigned, further declare our full stance in solidarity in the defense against this lawsuit. We shall regard this lawsuit as another platform and a new opportunity to consecrate our campaign to boycott supporters of zionist oppression and racism, and to emphasize our right to express what we see as just in the pursuit of this human right. We also stand in solidarity with all the other defendants in this case, including Samah Idriss of the Al-Adab magazine, the Refugee Rights Center – Aidoun, and the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon.
Sometimes the justice system is used to oppress free voices and to strengthen certain power structures. In this lawsuit,the justice system shall be first and foremost a platform to empower the values of justice and freedom in resisting injustice and oppression.

Unease over Jordan-Israel trade

Posted in Apartheid, Arab Complicity, Normalization, Profiting from Zionism on September 20, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Suha Philip Ma’ayeh, Foreign Correspondent

* Last Updated: September 19. 2010 10:49PM UAE / September 19. 2010 6:49PM GMT

ZARQA, JORDAN // Israel’s announcement last week that it planned to export 50,000 used cars to Jordan and Iraq created unease among Jordanian second-hand car dealers while advocates against normalising relations with Israel stepped up calls to boycott Israel-made goods and business dealings.

Since 2006, Jordan has imported nearly US$10 million (Dh36.7m) worth of earth-moving equipment, road-construction equipment, new lorries and cars from Israel, Nabil Romman, president of Jordan Free Zones Investors Commission, said. Each year the Zarqa Free Zone (ZFZ), the largest of five public duty-free zones in the country, imports an average of 120,000 used cars, 40,000 of which are sold to the local market.

But Badi Rafayaa, the head of the Professional Associations’ anti-normalisation committee, said Israel wants to dump old cars, which pollute the environment and cause traffic accidents.

“The move is a clear sign of the Zionist entity’s devious intentions towards Jordan and Iraq … We will cooperate with civil-society institutions and will prevent those plans,” he said.

Among some local dealers, concern about Israel’s intentions were of a monetary nature.

“They are going to be 50,000 cars, a hard blow to my business and to the market,” said Mohammad Kabaireh, general mamager of Al-Safa Car Trading at the ZFZ, which imports used cars from South Korea. “In the past five years, we used to sell up to 50 cars in two months, and now I have cars [stuck] in the showrooms from the past seven and eight months. Any cars that enter Jordan are bound to create competition.”

Kamil Nino, an American-Jordanian investor, has sold luxury cars imported from the United States in the ZFZ since 2007.

“If the cars compete with my cars as a line, this would result in an unfair competition,” he said. “Definitely the prices will fall especially since shipping costs are much lower because of the proximity between Jordan and Israel. We pay an average of $2,000 to ship a car from California to the ZFZ, but shipping from Israel will be a fraction of the price. This would kill our prices … For now, I have just asked my brother in the US to put the car exports to Jordan on hold.”

However, other car dealers shrugged off concerns about competition. “Imports of older cars manufactured before 2009 would not affect our business,” said Ahmad, who did not want to reveal his last name. He sells cars in Jordan and also exports them to Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. “In fact, we export to Arab-Israeli car dealers. Just two months ago, we exported 200 Hyundai cars there,” he said.

Mohammad Bustanji, another car dealer, said he doubted used-car imports from Israel would affect his business since he also deals with mostly with new cars and late-model used ones. He added that he thought the cars from Israel would not make their way to many showrooms because of political reasons.

“I doubt any car dealer would dare to purchase the cars,” he said. “Once the cars enter the market from Israel, it would be difficult for customers to tell where they come from, but it will not be difficult in the zone to find out who would purchase these cars. In this case dealers would not even greet him. We are against the move, first and foremost because the cars would come from Israel.”

Mr Romman of the investors commission said cars imported from Israel would not then be shipped to Iraq because they will be older models. Four years ago, Iraq started requiring imported used cars to have been manufactured within two years.

“While Israel places higher specifications on cars, the ones that enter the zone can be of better quality and would present a business opportunity for many dealers here,” he said.

smaayeh[at]thenational.ae

Are Arabs swimming with or against the BDS tide against Israeli Apartheid?

Posted in Apartheid, Arab Complicity, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Profiting from Zionism, What You Can Do, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on July 21, 2010 by Marcy Newman

July 2010 by Mohannad El-Khairy

Charles C. Boycott seems to have become a household word because of his strong sense of duty to his employer. An Englishman and former British soldier, Boycott was the estate agent of the Earl of Erne in County Mayo, Ireland. The earl was one of the absentee landowners who as a group held most of the land in Ireland. Boycott was chosen in the fall of 1880 to be the test case for a new policy advocated by Charles Parnell, an Irish politician who wanted land reform.

Any landlord who would not charge lower rents or any tenant who took over the farm of an evicted tenant would be given the complete cold shoulder by Parnell’s supporters. Boycott refused to charge lower rents and ejected his tenants. At this point members of Parnell’s Irish Land League stepped in, and Boycott and his family found themselves isolated without servants, farmhands, service in stores, or mail delivery.

Boycott’s name was quickly adopted as the term for this treatment, not just in English but in other languages such as French, Dutch, German, and Russian.” This excerpt from The American Heritage Dictionary is so fitting it can be directly applied to today’s global Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli Apartheid, born in 1948 in what primarily began as a land issue between Zionist colonizers and the indigenous Palestinian people.

Why BDS against Apartheid Israel matters

In 1950, when the disposition of Palestinian lands was placed under the Jewish National Fund (JNF)’s Settlement Department, a law was passed in 1953 granting the agency independent status as landowner for the Jewish state. According to Israeli professor Ilan Pappe, that law and others like it (like the Law of the Land of Israel) stipulate “the JNF wasn’t allowed to sell or lease land to non-Jews. The Knesset passed a final law in 1967, the Law of Agricultural Settlement, prohibiting the subletting of Jewish-owned land to non-Jews.

The law also prohibited water resources from being transferred to non-JNF lands.” With Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, the successive Judaization of Jerusalem by all Israeli governments, and the total control of border, water, and air space around the Gaza Strip, it is safe to say that, realistically speaking, the Zionist takeover of Historic Palestine has indeed reached its 100th percent.

From the lands as far north as the Safad District down to the southern Bersheebian desert (commonly referred to 1948 Palestine in Palestinian lingo); from the Northern areas of Jenin to the southern regions around Hebron (in the militarily occupied West Bank); and from the stolen Golan Heights to the largest open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip; what Israel has managed to achieve is the total invasion of Palestine. With the current Netanyahu government’s complete disregard of American “demands” to halt settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, even more land annexations, more settlement buildings, and more “Jews-only” highways are planned, on more of this stolen land. One can almost hear Charles C. Boycott shivering in his grave.

The Israeli economy, unlike others that are to a certain degree self sufficient, is innately on life support. While Israeli leaders pride themselves for having made “the desert bloom” and having exported the greatest minds and breakthroughs in modern science and technology, it is without a doubt the world’s money pouring into Israel that has enabled it to achieve its relative successes. Taking only American aid as an example, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a conservative estimate of total US aid to Israel puts the figure at a total $114 billion since 1949. Having not counted the total cost of Israel to the United States, Washington DC-based economist Thomas Stauffer outlined in the same source that “total identifiable costs come to almost $3 trillion [with] about well over half ($1.7 trillion) [arising] from the US defense of Israel, where most of that amount has been incurred since 1973.” He adds that support includes special trade advantages, preferential contracts, and aid buried in other accounts.

Furthermore, approximately 275,000 American jobs each year are lost due to the American government’s regular pay-outs to Israel. Cumulatively, even excluding all of these extra costs, America’s aid to Israel from fiscal years 1949 through 1998, and the interest the US paid to borrow this money, has cost US taxpayers $134.8 billion (not adjusted for inflation). In other words, according to “If Americans Knew,” an independent research and information/dissemination institute, by the end of October 1997 the nearly $15,000 every one of the 5.8 million Israelis received from the US government had cost American taxpayers over $23,000 per Israeli.

To understand to what extent Israel’s economy is on life support, one should simply factor in Canadian, European, and the rest of the world’s financial dedication to the apartheid regime in the holy land. Therefore divesting from the Israeli economy not only weakens a racist system, it saves almost every citizen living in the developed nations thousands of dollars a year. To sanction, in the context of international relations, is to penalize in the form of moral, diplomatic and economic pressure to ensure compliance or conformity for violating a moral principle or international law.

Well, the apartheid state of Israel is by no means a stranger to violating international laws. It has breached international conventions, UN resolutions, and human-rights declarations and infringed basic legality issues with its occupation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (such as the restriction and prevention of their movement.)

More recently, Israel has not declared war on Hamas or the Gaza Strip because it would have to legally comply with more international rules of engagement, and thus treat the Palestinians in Gaza more humanely than it does today. As Israel’s recent attacks on the humanitarian aid flotillas to the Strip have shown, for a blockade to be legal under international maritime law, it must be approved by the UN Security Council. The Gaza blockade was not approved by the Security Council. A blockade therefore does not legitimize the Israeli Army’s boarding of the flotilla ships in international waters when the blockade itself is considered illegal. Let us explore another one of these international violations: Israel’s apartheid wall in occupied Palestine.

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice in the Hague issued a five-point press release announcing that “the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law.” By 14 votes to one, “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease … the works of construction of the wall being built in the OPT, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle … the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective … all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto.” By 14 votes to one, “Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the OPT, including in and around East Jerusalem.” By 13 votes to two, “all states are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; all states parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949, have in addition the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.” And finally by 14 votes to one, “the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion.”

Yet Israel continues to build its apartheid wall for “security” reasons. Stop the Wall is a coalition of Palestinian non-governmental organizations and popular committees that mobilize and coordinate efforts on local, national and international levels with the aim to dismantle the apartheid wall and resist Israeli occupation and colonization. It states that upon completion the wall will de facto annex approximately 46 percent of the West Bank (itself 22 percent of historic Palestine) and isolate communities in bantustans, ghettos, and military zones. In fact, the complete isolation of certain villages has already taken place. In the case of Qalqilya north of the West Bank, Israel’s concrete wall surrounds the entire village from all sides, literally caging its inhabitants and restricting their movement into and out of their village to just one gate guarded by an Israeli Occupation Forces.

As it snakes its way into the Occupied Territories, the wall will eventually be 760 kilometers long – three times longer than the 1967 Green Line separating Israel and the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government proudly claims that it has “worked” to prevent suicide missions from entering Israel.Instead of addressing and eliminating the root causes of extremism, namely its oppressive and illegal policies of theft, occupation, genocide, racism, destruction, and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Israel’s security/fear card is once again dealt to its own people and the wider international community as a smokescreen tool to annex more Palestinian lands and further the oppression of the Palestinian people.

How BDS against Apartheid Israel works –– a case example

To boycott, divest, & sanction Israel is thus legitimate. Enabling its legitimacy is the global BDS movement for Palestine. Since its official call to action in 2005, hundreds of organizations worldwide have made BDS against Israel their choice for legal, ethical, humanitarian reasons. From pension funds and supermarket chains in Europe to workers’ unions and universities in North America, their demands for justice and equality for Palestinians have emphasized the ethical DNA built into the movement’s goals. One particular dimension that has proven its utmost resilience is the revival of BDS campaigns through various university student groups in the United States.

Countless universities across the US have been responding to the 2005 campaign call for boycott, divestments, and sanctions against Israel. Hampshire College, being the first US university to divest from apartheid South Africa in 1977, was also the first to divest from apartheid Israel in February 2009. Since then, over 20 universities have launched or are in the process of launching similar campaigns calling for divestments from corporations benefiting from Israeli occupation, war crimes, and human-rights violations. University of California (UC) Berkeley was the first of the California Universities to pass the historic SB 118 divestment bill with a 16-4 vote until it was undemocratically vetoed a week later by its president Will Smelko; according to UC Berkeley student sources, Smelko was “was pressured by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful Zionist lobby in Washington DC, with threats of being black-listed from grad-schools and career opportunities.”

UC San Diego also presented a similar resolution and now over 20 other universities across the United States are preparing the same. It is imperative to note the following: given Corporate America’s zionized nature, many of these students, teachers and academic professionals are risking their careers by making BDS their choice on ethical grounds. Even more so, in reaction to the Arab League’s boycott in the 70s, antiboycott laws in the United States have been enacted to further the agenda of SIGs (Special Interest Groups).

One can be fined, have export privileges revoked, or even imprisoned, if they do not comply with a request for a boycott that the US government does not sanction. Even though there were major boycott efforts of apartheid South Africa and more recently of Sudan, this law has primarily only been enforced against companies that comply with requests for boycotts against or divestment’s from apartheid Israel. Despite all these constraints, American college students are managing, quite astonishingly, to organize and demand their universities to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel for its unlawful behavior against the Palestinians.

So far, these universities include Hampshire, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Michigan, the University of Arizona, and Evergreen State College. Dozens more are expected to be announced in the coming year.

The impediments to BDS in the Arab world

Whilst BDS has shown immense progress globally, the state of Israel is finding new opportunities and new markets in its own backyard. On February 27, 2010, the BBC reported an Egyptian Supreme Court decision overturning an earlier ruling by a lower court banning natural gas sales to Israel. The decision now requires Egypt to make clear the quantity of gas it exports to Israel and how much it charges.

According to the report, “lawyers had argued that the gas was being sold at preferential rates. Egypt’s gas trade with Israel is controversial as many Egyptians are opposed to links between the two countries – despite a 1979 peace deal.” This is revealing, as the Egyptian government is clearly not representing the will nor the demand of its people.

In fact, only a week earlier the Associated Press ran a story on the increasing shortages of cooking gas for low-income neighborhoods in Egypt: “[Egyptian] Authorities [are] scrambling to find a solution and has once again fueled criticism that the government … is unable to deal with the problems of its people. The
report says “the government … has blamed bad weather, which it said forced ports to close this month, delaying gas shipments,” but given the Supreme Court’s ruling the week after, it’s that the Egyptian government cares more about Israel than it does for its own citizens.

Israel also enjoys the benefits of free trade agreements with the Kingdom of Jordan. In Article 7 of its peace treat signed in 1994 with the Hashemite state, the aim is to promote economic cooperation by removing “discriminatory barriers and terminating economic boycotts.” Indeed, with the establishment of Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) throughout the kingdom, some factories are partially owned by Israeli businesses now employing almost 15,000 Jordanians, according to Jordanian government sources. The QIZs now supply (i.e. render dependent) the Jordanian economy with $500 million worth of exports to the United States, which can revoke the agreement at any time. An October 25, 1995, statement made by Israel’s Trade Ministry on the Israel-Jordan trade agreement clearly outlines the facilitation of Israeli products “enjoy[ing] import preferences to Jordan.

[These include] plywood, tires, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, electronic components, medical equipment, communications equipment, locks and safes and other products.” While the QIZs and free-trade agreements are being portrayed as positive initiatives “furthering peace and economic advancement” between Israel and Jordan, the reality is that Israel and its businesses greatly benefit from the cheaper labor in Jordan. The minimum wage rate in Israel is 3,850 new shekels/month (almost $1,000), while in Jordan it is 110 Dinars/month (approximately $155/month). That’s almost an 85 percent saving for Israeli firms. Israeli companies are thus taking advantage of the political standoff with the Arab states by developing new economic ties with the Arab world to solidify its apartheid regime in Palestine. These are the broader outcomes of the peace treaties signed with Egypt and Jordan.

There is a much more explicit Arab impediment to the global BDS movement, and its consequences can be directly felt in a particular Palestinian village in the West Bank; that village is Bil’in. Bil’in is situated approximately 15 kilometers north-west of Ramallah. Like in so many other towns across the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces are building the apartheid wall right through it to annex more Palestinian lands, separate more Palestinian families, build more illegal Israeli settlements, with the ultimate goal to disenfranchise and ethnically cleanse the indigenous people from their country. The driving force behind this ethnic cleansing is Lev Leviev, a multi-billionaire Israeli businessman originally from Uzbekistan. His net worth is estimated at roughly $1.5 billion following the global financial crisis. His publicly listed investment firm,
Africa Israel Investments, has operations in the jewelery real-state, telecom, energy, and fashion industries in Israel and around the world. His take-over of the Angolan diamond industry from De Beers rendered him an infamous enabler of blood diamonds.

Adalah, a grassroots organization based in New York aiming to end US and US-sponsored Israeli aggression in the Middle East, defines Leviev’s business: “Africa-Israel has built housing units on occupied Palestinian lands in such settlements as Mattityahu, east on the land of the village of Bil’in, and in the settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim.

[Leviev] owns and builds settlement homes in … Zufim on the land of the village of Jayyous.” Yet the story of Bil’in, along with its sister villages of Ni’lin and Jayyous further westward, has a dark connection with one of the glitziest cities in the Arab world: Dubai. As Leviev planned to expand his jewelery branches in the Emirate, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development officially did not grant his company a trade license to operate in the city citing that they were “aware of these reports and have not granted a trade license to any business of this name,” as reported on April 29, 2008, in Gulf News. However, with the help of a local Palestinian Zionist businessman named Aref bin Khadra, Leviev managed to offer his products through bin Khadra’s Levant jewelery chains in al-Qasr and Atlantis hotels, as well as in Dubai Mall. Leviev Jewelries are prominently displayed for the local Arabs and tourists to purchase. And purchasing Leviev diamonds directly help increase Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.

“For me, Israel, [occupied] Jerusalem and Haifa are all the same. So are the [Syrian] Golan Heights. [What] to decide [on] the future of Jerusalem? It belongs to the Jewish people. What is there to decide? Jerusalem is not a topic for discussion,” Leviev once said to an Israeli newspaper shortly before the Gulf News report. Another reason impeding the global BDS movements in the Arab world is the state of the Arab psyche.

As a result of booming economies prior to the global financial crisis, young middle to upper-class Arabs, particularly those living the Gulf, bathed in artificially enhanced mode-de-vies. The Palestinian communities, both in and outside the region, are not immune to these comfort zones. Whilst the overall impression of Israel is naturally built-in anger, reactionary generalizations against the Jewish people, and never-ending rhetoric of longing for a dispossessed land, grass-roots initiatives, pro-active political lobbying, and subsequent government support are minimal, if not totally absent. A worrying trend within the Arab mindset is the normalization of the conflict with apartheid Israel.

Sending money to various charities or the development of certain projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do have their positive effects, but they are not enough. Local and expat Arabs have become so detached from the realities of what daily life is like in the occupied Palestine that it has become a form of silent collusion. This sense of political detachment is a direct result of the governments’ inability and refusal to exert political, diplomatic, economic, and strategic pressure on the apartheid state of Israel. Thus a vicious circle emerges as a result of this lack of government and public involvement in further isolating Israel economically. To break this vicious circle, personal initiatives are needed and have actually started.

BDS going forward

One such initiative is the Oyooni Mobile Eye Clinic in Palestine. Founded by Kuwait-born Palestinian Doctor Ali Dabbagh, whose general practice spans more than two decades predominantly dedicated to the field of medical ophthalmology, Oyooni is a non-profit organization that raises funds to directly purchase equipment used for eye treatments of Palestinian children, for no charge. At a Pecha Kucha presentation session held in Dubai on May 26, 2010, Dr. Dabbagh posed the question: “Have we become so cocooned in our comfort zones, be they what they may, due to complacency, vanity, guilt, greed or simply guileless?” The reasoning behind simply donating money to the people of Palestine has become somewhat of a “guilt tax.” Dr. Dabbagh puts it this way: “Life has been turned from being rightsbased to aids based.” Addressing the rights of the Palestinians thus means joining in and empowering the call for global BDS movement against the Israeli apartheid regime.

UCSD student Leena Barakat put the answer so succinctly following her university’s announcement for BDS against Israel: “What does it mean to be a Palestinian? A Palestinian is not defined by race, or by religion, or by place of origin, but by the will to resist inhumanity, the will to resist injustice, and the will to resist racism. ‘Palestinian’ means the will to sacrifice for the sake of the other, to give for the sake of a better future for all, to resist for the sake of a better living for future generations. So, with that said, how many of you have just become Palestinian?”

The questions thus remain: Why is Leviev operating in the Middle East when several global pension funds and investment banks in Europe and the United States have divested the Africa-Israel stock from their portfolios? Why are Arab governments allowing Leviev and other Israeli companies to even access Middle Eastern markets in the first place? More recently, during both the Gaza massacre of 2008/09 and the flotilla massacre of 2010, why haven’t the Jordanian and Egyptian governments recalled their ambassadors from Israel like Sweden, Spain, Turkey and Greece; let alone halt/cancel all economic treaties and relations that anyway do more harm than good to their people? Why is the Arab world being up-started by other nations like Turkey when it comes to confronting Israel’s daily crimes against Palestinian humanity? Isn’t it high time for Arab governments, corporations, universities, and citizens to come together, watch, learn, and extend their arms in solidarity with the global BDS momentum taking place around the world?

The legitimacy to boycott, divest, and sanction the apartheid state of Israel rests. Following the indiscriminate killing of aid activists onboard the flotilla ships to Gaza by Zionist forces this past week, and out of respect for those who have sacrificed their lives to bring much needed aid to the people of Gaza, it is now time for us, the Arab world, to embrace BDS and take to the next level. Indeed we must not only swim with the global tide against apartheid Israel; we must lead it.

Mohannad EL-Khairy is a Palestinian residing in Dubai after living and studying in Canada for 18 years. He currently works in the financial sector and maintains a blog entitled Money & Mud Uncensored

Jordanian workers urged not to handle Israeli goods

Posted in Anti-Normalization, Apartheid, Arab Complicity, International BDS Actions, Zionism on July 12, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Mohammad Ben Hussein, Jordan Times
11 July 2010

AMMAN – The national anti-normalisation committee on Saturday called on labourers across the Kingdom to reject companies that handle Israeli goods.

In a letter addressed to the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) released yesterday, the committee urged workers to reject any ships or airplanes carrying goods originating from Israel. The letter, signed by Hamzah Mansour, Islamic Action Front secretary general and president of the national anti-normalisation committee, encouraged Jordanian workers to emulate a number of trade unions across the world that have refused to receive Israeli ships following the attack on the Gaza-bound interna?ional aid flotilla.

“Workers should stop moving Israeli goods by land, sea and air and refuse to deal with ships that travel to Israel,” he said in a letter sent to the GFJTU.

Mansour said workers should be more active in anti-normalisation efforts, urging them to drum up support to end ties with Israel, which he said “represents a great danger to Palestine and Jordan”.

Last month, Swedish dockworkers launched a week-long boycott of cargo to and from Israel following the deadly attack on the aid flotilla.

Reports indicated around 1,500 members of the Swedish Dockworkers Union launched the boycott because of the attack on the aid convoy and the continued siege on the coastal enclave.

Mansour said Jordanians should be at the frontline to confront Israel’s “agenda in the region”.

“We are supposed to be spearheading the anti-Israel campaign. People from across the world already know Israel’s plans in the Arab and Muslim worlds, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, which suffer from occupation,” he added, stressing that Jordan serves as an ideal place to “stand up to Israel and its plans to infiltrate Arab society”.

Original title: Committee urges workers to reject companies that deal with Israeli goods

Source: http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=28197&searchFor=Hamzah%20Mansour

What’s Music Got To Do With IT

Posted in Actions in Lebanon, Apartheid, Arab Complicity, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Cultural Boycott, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on July 8, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Maya Mikdashi

The arguments have become familiar. We want to enjoy life; music is not political; dancing should unify us, not divide us. We can’t keep being the sacrificial lamb of the Palestinian cause. Aren’t you Lebanese? Are you an Islamist? Don’t you like rock and roll music, coca-cola, and dancing under the stars at open-air raves? Aren’t you for the freedom of expression? Are you (gasp) intolerant?

The questions that the debate whether we, in Lebanon, should join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel engenders have nothing to do with liking music, being fanatical, or censorship. The issue is not a band that played a concert in Tel Aviv, had a stopover in Cyprus, and continued on to Beirut. It is not that this same band performed the week the Israeli state attacked a flotilla of peace activists trying to break the criminal blockade of Gaza, an area of land that is home to over 1.3 million Palestinians and has been placed under siege for over three years. The question is not whether or not we can, or should, empathize with Palestinians living within a settler colony. The question is not if we have to be political. The question is: Can we afford not to be political? Can we absolve ourselves of responsibility towards each other as citizens and residents of Lebanon, as Arabs, or as human beings in the name of music and a good time? And if and when we do absolve ourselves of responsibility, what kind of politics are we engaging in? When we surrender politics to the politicians, what are we doing?

The political permeates every aspect of our lives. From the moment we wake up in particular neighborhoods in, for example, Beirut to the moment that our maid brings us our evening snack and puts our children to sleep, we are engaged in politics. This engagement continues as each of us drives in his or her car to locations that are close by, when we pass by the myriad unkempt children and disabled adults standing in highways selling their sadness, maneuver through a security checkpoint in a politician’s neighborhood, and as we sweat in long pants during the hot summer in a failed attempt to avert the unwanted verbal and physical advances of men on the Manara who know they are not accountable to anyone. Politics is about the struggle over life, how we live it, where we live it, who gets to live a livable life, and who gets to live. We are political because we are alive. Depoliticization is a political process, it is a tactic of a power that aims to separate the messiness of shared life into compartments such as “culture,” “government,” “economy,” “personal life,” “government,” and, my personal favorite, “civil society.” Once segregated into neat, independent packages, we are told that our “political” involvement begins, and ends, at the level of government. Depoliticization comes with neoliberalism, an ideology that masks its praxis being claims to be a “way of life.” The idea that Liberalism is a way of life or that it is simply “good values” has historically fuelled capitalist expansion, colonialism, and the imperial notion that western history is at once the telos and the unfolding of world history. More recently, neoliberalism has been the ideology driving the perversion of human rights discourse to justify the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the banning of the headscarf in France, and the reinvigoration of authoritarian regimes in the Arab world.

One does not have to engage in an ideological analysis to see that art, and in this case, music, is anything but apolitical. When U2 announced that it would not play any concerts in apartheid South Africa, they were making a statement. When Elton John refused to heed to the boycott of South Africa and played concerts in that country, he was also making a statement. Playing a concert in an apartheid state is a statement. When international artists perform in Israel after a BDS campaign has been launched and after they have been asked to join it in solidarity with the oppressed, their performance lends legitimacy to a political regime that openly calls for the continued occupation of Palestinian lands, legal and infrastructural apartheid, and the expulsion of indigenous populations outside the state’s borders. Perhaps musicians who play venues in Israel today are ignorant about the political situation. But is ignorance an excuse? Today, people with access to information have to consistently choose to remain ignorant of current events. Furthermore, ignorance about structural oppression, ongoing settler colonialism, and apartheid, is a luxury of power that contributes to violence against those that are not powerful. Neutrality in the face of gross inequality and oppression is the most insidious form of partisanship towards the powerful. Every act of boycott is a statement against the status quo.

Lebanese event organizers who invite artists that perform in Israel are not breaking any laws. But they are making a statement as to the normalization of ties with Israel and they are not supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions initiative. People who want to attend these events are entitled to spend their leisure time however they want. But they too are making a statement as to the normalization of Lebanese ties with Israel and they, too, are choosing to not support the BDS campaign. If the choice for artists is between profiting monetarily from apartheid oppression and making a statement by not performing in Israel, for patrons, the choice is between allowing those who profit monetarily from apartheid to continue to profit monetarily from your own money. The calculations are simple. If enough people decide that they will not patronize performances by artists who also perform in apartheid Israel, either the event organizers will need to cater to this new reality or, imagine, we could actually force international artists to choose to either play in Lebanon or in Israel. Imagine Lebanon being “happening” enough to be a rival of Israel in terms of what is known as the “cultural scene” or the “summer circuit.” Imagine us being more effective than the hollow regimes that rule the Arab Middle East.

When I engage in an act of boycott against DJ Tiesto, I am also making a statement that I refuse to entrust the entire arena of politics, and the question of Lebanon’s relationship with Israel, to politicians that I know are corrupt, sectarian, and inefficient. I am making a statement that I refuse to normalize ties with a state that has invaded my country three times in the years that I have been alive, displaced over a million of my fellow citizens and destroyed tens of thousands of their homes as recently as 2006, and denies the right of return to over 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. I do not have a gun. I do not have a political party. I have a choice; to allow artists who break the boycott to profit from me or not. I make that choice because I cannot accept the logic that my life, or a Palestinian life, is worth less than an Israeli life. I make that choice because I refuse racism and the violence that it licenses.

My decision to boycott musicians who do not adhere to the BDS campaign is not because I am anti- Israel or because I am pro-Palestine. You can blame Palestinians for all of Lebanon’s problems and still take a stance against apartheid. If you are against the logic of racism and its articulation as settler colonialism, then you are also against apartheid. Apartheid is a technology of rule that has been operationalized in many different countries in different historical contexts, and will continue to be operationalized as long as it continues to be normalized. We should be demanding that artists refuse to be complicit in this system. Boycotts work. Today, sixteen years after the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa, we should not expect less of the world. And we definitely should not expect less of ourselves.

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

Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites

Posted in Apartheid, Arab Complicity, Normalization, Take Action on June 12, 2010 by Marcy Newman

June 12, 2010

Hugh Tomlinson

Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.

The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.

The targets lie as far as 1,400 miles (2,250km) from Israel; the outer limits of their bombers’ range, even with aerial refuelling. An open corridor across northern Saudi Arabia would significantly shorten the distance. An airstrike would involve multiple waves of bombers, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest.

Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit agreement to the raid from Washington. So far, the Obama Administration has refused to give its approval as it pursues a diplomatic solution to curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Military analysts say Israel has held back only because of this failure to secure consensus from America and Arab states. Military analysts doubt that an airstrike alone would be sufficient to knock out the key nuclear facilities, which are heavily fortified and deep underground or within mountains. However, if the latest sanctions prove ineffective the pressure from the Israelis on Washington to approve military action will intensify. Iran vowed to continue enriching uranium after the UN Security Council imposed its toughest sanctions yet in an effort to halt the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, which Tehran claims is intended for civil energy purposes only. President Ahmadinejad has described the UN resolution as “a used handkerchief, which should be thrown in the dustbin”.

Israeli officials refused to comment yesterday on details for a raid on Iran, which the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has refused to rule out. Questioned on the option of a Saudi flight path for Israeli bombers, Aharaon Zeevi Farkash, who headed military intelligence until 2006 and has been involved in war games simulating a strike on Iran, said: “I know that Saudi Arabia is even more afraid than Israel of an Iranian nuclear capacity.”

In 2007 Israel was reported to have used Turkish air space to attack a suspected nuclear reactor being built by Iran’s main regional ally, Syria. Although Turkey publicly protested against the “violation” of its air space, it is thought to have turned a blind eye in what many saw as a dry run for a strike on Iran’s far more substantial — and better-defended — nuclear sites.

Israeli intelligence experts say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are at least as worried as themselves and the West about an Iranian nuclear arsenal.Israel has sent missile-class warships and at least one submarine capable of launching a nuclear warhead through the Suez Canal for deployment in the Red Sea within the past year, as both a warning to Iran and in anticipation of a possible strike. Israeli newspapers reported last year that high-ranking officials, including the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have met their Saudi Arabian counterparts to discuss the Iranian issue. It was also reported that Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, met Saudi intelligence officials last year to gain assurances that Riyadh would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets violating Saudi airspace during the bombing run. Both governments have denied the reports.

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