… A Jerusalem Post report from 2010 featured some especially noxious remarks by Shas founder, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, likening non-Jews to donkeys whose job was to serve Jews in the days of the messiah. This Nana-Channel 10 report features video of the former chief rabbi’s original statements. Here are a few passages translated:
The Goyim were only created to serve us. If that wasn’t the case they [Goyim] would have no place in the world.
… Jews earn eternal life in the days of the messiah. Goyim don’t. Like all people, they must die. But they earn long life. Why? Think about someone’s donkey. If it dies, he loses it, the money. The same with a servant [ or "the one who serves you"]. You also lose money [when he dies]. That’s why Goyim are given long life so they may work well for the Jews.
… Why do Goyim exist? So that they work [for Jews]. They thresh, they plant, they harvest, while we [Jews] sit like effendi and eat [our fill]. That’s why Goyim were created.
The remarks are especially important in the context of the Israeli work force which is filled with poor migrant labor from around the world, but especially from Asia and Africa. Without this cheap, victimized work force, Israel’s economy (especially the agricultural sector) couldn’t function.
It’s no accident that some of the most virulently racist language attacking African refugees in Israel has come from the Shas interior minister and disciple of Rabbi Yosef, Eli Yishai. In this sense, Yishai is giving license to his followers to incite such hate through sermons like this one.
In the past few weeks the Post article, which had been publicly-accessible since publication, vanished. When clicked, the old link brought a reader back to the Post’s main page. There wasn’t even a Page Not Found message. Just gone. … Full article
- Top Rabbi calls for extermination of the Iranian people (revisionistreview.blogspot.com)
- Religious and Social Crises and Political Consequences (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Militants fighting against the Syrian government have fired at a civilian plane as it was preparing to take off from Aleppo airport.
A militant commander told Reuters on Friday that snipers from his brigade had hit the wheels of Syrian Airways flight RB201 a day before.
The commander, who gave his name only as Khaldoun, said the attack was a message to the government that all planes, either military or civilian, are within the militants’ reach.
It was the first direct attack on a civilian flight since fighting escalated between foreign-backed militants and government forces a few months ago.
Meanwhile, Palestinians are returning to their homes in Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus after government forces managed to clear the camp of militants.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil.
A recent UN report has revealed that militants from 29 countries have so far filtered into Syria to fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, most of whom are extremist Salafists.
The Syrian government has repeatedly said that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and that a very large number of the militants operating in the country are foreign nationals.
A group of Syrian rebels have been holding Lebanese civilians hostage for nearly seven months. The kidnappers keep issuing new demands, claiming they have captured “subversives from the Lebanese Hezbollah party.”
The hostages’ relatives deny the charges, saying those captured are elderly and poor, have families and are generally apolitical. They also expressed frustration at how Western mass-media has only aired the kidnappers’ side of the story.
During this seven-month period, the hostages were allegedly ‘killed by Assad’s bombs,’ but then miraculously ‘rose from the dead.’ The conditions of their release have been continually changing: First, the kidnappers turned down a $50 million ransom; they then demanded the families demonstrate against Hezbollah, and asked Hezbollah chief Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah to apologize to the Syrian people; finally, they suggested bartering their hostages for an Al-Qaeda leader.
But at the heart of this cloak-and-dagger saga are clues to how the Syrian captors managed to demand a ransom of $50 million after proclaiming Ankhar Kochneva, a Ukrainian-Russian journalist of Palestinian descent, to be a spy for three different countries simultaneously.
A bargain bus tour hijacked
On May 22, 2012, a group of Lebanese pilgrims on a bus were returning to Beirut from Mashhad, a city in northeastern Iran. Syria was relatively peaceful at the time. Some of the passengers were accompanied by their wives and daughters; one young man was chaperoning his elderly aunt.
In Aleppo province, their bus was stopped by a group of Syrian rebels who then abducted the passengers, claiming they were Hezbollah subversives who had illegally crossed the Syrian border.
The following passengers of the bus remain in captivity:
Ali Skheb, 63: Physically impaired, suffers from heart failure.
Jamil Saleh, 65: Spent the last 30 years working for Saad Hariri, known to be a major supporter of the Syrian rebels. Suffers from epilepsy and is prone to fainting fits. Recently underwent surgery for a spinal disc herniation.
Ali Abbas, 30: Owner of a hookah shop, who supports both himself and his younger brother. The brothers are parentless as well as homeless, and use their shop as living quarters. Ali suffers from epilepsy.
Hassan Arzune, 56: A street vendor who peddles sweets for Ramadan and owns a shop with a floor area of 1.5 sq. meters.
Hassan Hammud, 45: Painter and floor waxer, the proud owner of an antique stone-floor polisher that consists of an iron frame and a water tank. The kidnappers believe Hassan to be a specially trained sabotage and demolitions expert.
Muhammad Monzer, 22: Gas station attendant who borrowed money for the trip in order to accompany an elderly aunt, who dreamed of taking a pilgrimage.
Abbas Shuyab, 41: Pilgrimage broker who organizes bus tours to Iraq and Iran.
Abbas Hammod, 60: Retired Lebanese Army soldier, suffers from neurological disorders.
Ali Termos, 50: Works as a salesman in a small grocery shop.
It is possible the Syrian opposition is unable to distinguish either insurgents or rank-and-file Hezbollah party activists just from their outward appearances. However, few in Lebanon believes that the hostages are members of Hezbollah.
The kidnappers did their best to comply with the rules of Islam: They immediately released all the women – including wives, daughters and the aunt – and allowed those abducted to pray and fast freely.
The captors went as far as agreeing to a meeting between the hostages and two of their family members, who were allowed to make a video on how well the kidnappers were treating the abductees. In the footage, they were shown to be wearing casual clothes and sitting on sofas in broad daylight. They even released two hostages who appeared to be in bad health.
During the first month they ate canned tuna, boiled eggs on the second and chickpeas on the third. Later, their diet slightly improved.
The remaining captives are now confined a room with no windows.
Towards the end of Ramadan, online sources reported that Oqab Saqr, a Lebanese MP from the Hariri bloc, had allegedly received $50 million from Saudi Arabia to pay as ransom for the hostages. Mona Termos, the wife of one of the prisoners, went to the Saudi embassy to find out if the rumors were true.
“On that very day Abbas Nasr, an Al Jazeera correspondent, called me only to yell that I was to blame for disrupting a mission to release the prisoners,” Termos said. “Later, he came and said that I must go live on air to disprove that news. But I said it is up to the ambassador to do it.”
Three days later, the events took a new turn: “We were told that the location had been bombed, leaving four people dead, including my husband! Then the Lebanese Foreign Ministry started an inquiry, and the families took to the streets – and that’s when that information was refuted. Did they rise from the dead?” she said.
And two days after that, the kidnappers’ leader Abu Ibrahim confirmed to NewTV channel that he had been offered the $50 million. “Yes, they did offer $50 million but I refused to take it. It is a matter of principle rather than money,” NewTV quoted him as saying.
Ibrahim now communicates regularly with the media, which interviews him through Skype and the telephone, and even dispatches film crews from New York to record his statements.
Ibrahim’s first demand was for the release of the Lebanese hostages in exchange for Hussein Harmoush, an army defector and one of the founders of the rebel Free Syrian Army. He then demanded that Hezbollah chief Nasrallah apologize to the Syrian people and publicly support the rebels. Currently, there is no evidence suggesting that the pilgrims are connected to Hezbollah.
Ibrahim then called on the families to rally against Hezbollah in front of Beirut’s Syrian and Iranian embassies. The families fulfilled the demand, rallying at the embassies and writing letters to ambassadors. The Iranian embassy’s workers told them that 48 Iranian pilgrims were being held in a similar situation: They were abducted by Syrian rebels under the pretext that they were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards corps.
Nasrallah then addressed Lebanon, expressing support for the Syrian people and asking them to demonstrate what shape that support should take.
Those kidnapped are occasionally allowed to call their families with a cell phone that has a Turkish number. Those who were freed from captivity and their visitors claim that the building where hostages are held is within sight of the Turkish border.
“The Turkish authorities could’ve easily found them. But they insist that they’ve no idea where the hostages are held. How do journalists find them then? They all get there across the Turkish border,” the relatives said.
A week ago, Ibrahim made a new demand to the relatives, asking them to rally to free both Hussein Harmoush and Syrian opposition member Tal al-Mallohi.
The families of the hostages expressed frustration at Ibrahim’s apparent hypocrisy in his attempts to free political prisoners. “Nobody should be imprisoned for his or her views, the more so women. Abu Ibrahim, you are committing the same deeds you say yourself you are against! How can I trust the Syrian revolution if you deprive innocent people of their freedom?” the pilgrims’ wives said. Western media have yet to report on their remarks.
NYT journalists traveled to Syria to investigate the hostage-taking and managed to make their way to Ibrahim, but did not contact the captives’ wives and daughters in Beirut. One of the journalists did eventually call the family of the hostages – not to interview them, but to inform them about a video published on the newspaper’s website containing new conditions for the hostages’ release. The relatives were told that the captors are now demanding that 200 political prisoners, including an Al-Qaeda leader from Jordan, be released from Lebanon’s prisons.
“Through a US newspaper they are demanding a release of an Al-Qaeda leader? And to release political prisoners in the Lebanon? But there are none in Lebanon!” the hostages’ family members said. “We are free to say whatever we want, and nobody will pay any attention to that. There are criminals, drug dealers, but no political prisoners. Everybody knows that.”
Abu Ibrahim has promised to clarify the demands, and to fax the names of the two prisoners that will be transferred to Lebanese authorities.
That message has yet to arrive.
The European Commission has withdrawn its request to review ACTA’s compatibility with the EU law in the European Court of Justice. The move virtually ensures the treaty will never be adopted in the Union.
The European Comission’s move was reported by MEPs from the Socialists and Democrats alliance.
“I welcome this news from the Commission today,” said S&D Euro MP David Martin, the author of the parliamentary report on ACTA, as cited by The Register. “The EU cannot be party to an agreement without European Parliament ratification. MEPs overwhelmingly rejected ACTA in July and I am pleased that the Commission has acknowledged this is the end of the road for ACTA in the EU thanks to the Parliament.”
The European Commission made the appeal to the court in July, after ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) had received a knockout blow from the European Parliament. At the time MEPs roundly rejected the treaty with 478 votes against, and only 39 in favour.
Even before that, in February this year the adoption of ACTA was suspended due to mass protests against it, with critics slamming the agreement for its breaches of human rights, that it would protect copyright at the expense of freedom of speech on the Internet.
Intended as a global treaty, ACTA started to be developed in 2007 as a means to target copyright and patent violations in a wide range of industries. ACTA has been signed by the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, South Korea and 22 EU member states.
Of all those countries, only Japan has ratified it so far. The treaty will come into force for the countries which ratified it when at least 5 more pass the relevant legislation.
Well, you probably don’t want to look at more than 60 different documented school shooters and stabbers who were on antidepressant drugs when they attacked innocent children in suicidal, violent outbursts. Not if your mind is already made up that “it’s the guns” and that yet another “gun control” law will suddenly fix things. It won’t. Nor will the congressional testimony of Dr. Peter Breggin on the dangers of SSRIs and the proven links to suicide and violent ideation interest you, as long as there is one factor, and one solution, and this sort of information doesn’t fit into your preconception.
If this latest psycho-killer boy, Adam Lanza, had stolen a car and run over 26 people, would the most glaring problem be not enough car regulations?
Or if he had chosen to run around with a chainsaw instead, would the call now be for more chainsaw control? Or would the focus have turned to just banning the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films?
Why do they do it?
More than a little evidence suggests that antidepressant medications, prescribed by psychiatrists – who have a vested stake in the public perception of this issue – are a contributing factor in the majority of such spree massacres. The drug corporations, which produce these medications and which pay for massive advertising campaigns on TV, in newspapers, on the radio and in magazines, certainly want their friendly press outlets to come up with a different culprit. However, the lengthy list of warnings, right on the labels of these drugs, is an indication that the links are real, not very well understood, and potentially catastrophic.
Even Time Magazine reported on links between prescription drugs and violence:
Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) … 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.
Venlafaxine (Effexor) … 8.3 times…
Fluvoxamine (Luvox) … 8.4 times…
Triazolam (Halcion) … 8.7 times…
Atomoxetine (Strattera) … 9 times…
Mefoquine (Lariam) … 9.5 times…
Amphetamines: (Various) … 9.6 times…
Paroxetine (Paxil) … 10.3 times…
Fluoxetine (Prozac) … 10.9 times…
Varenicline (Chantix) … 18 times… (Time)
As Dr. Breggin calls it on his website:
“Antidepressants cause emotional anesthesia and numbing or sometimes euphoria, providing a fleeting, artificial relief from emotional suffering. … In the long run, all psychiatric drugs tend to disrupt the normal processes of feeling and thinking, rendering the individual less able to deal effectively with personal problems and with life’s challenges. They worsen the individual’s overall mental condition and produce potentially irreversible harm to the brain.”
Breggin provided expert testimony and dire warnings to a congressional committee and cautioned against dispensing antidepressants to military personnel out of a very real fear of resulting violence by well-armed troops.
Even the FDA has had to impose stronger warnings on these “medicines” over the years, in response to the real world data. The 2007 update to the “Black Box” warnings, which are mandatory and included with all antidepressants says:
“Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk: Patients, their families, and their caregivers should be encouraged to be alert to the emergence of anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, mania, other unusual changes in behavior, worsening of depression, and suicidal ideation, especially early during antidepressant treatment and when the dose is adjusted up or down. Families and caregivers of patients should be advised to look for the emergence of such symptoms on a day-to-day basis, since changes may be abrupt. … Symptoms such as these may be associated with an increased risk for suicidal thinking and behavior and indicate a need for very close monitoring and possibly changes in the medication.” (FDA, emphasis added)
The United States abandoned its mentally ill citizens back in the 1980s. Now they live under bridges. I see them with their tent city near my favorite Chinese restaurant. The great shining city on the hill doesn’t give a damn who’s living outdoors now. The stigma about mental illness has worked its way through the rest of society, but not in the obvious way.
People don’t reject “treatment” as long as it’s a pill you can take, a brain fix-all. This convenience culture idea of the quick fix is what has lived on, and now psychiatric “treatment” consists primarily of trying various drugs on patients, having them report the way the drugs affected them, and then trying other drugs. Repeat ad infinitum. This guinea pig approach to psychiatry is what I have witnessed for many years, and with a variety of different psychiatrists. They no longer seek out the underlying traumas of patients, as in the old quaint days. It is all about the drugs today, and nothing else is even discussed.
Psychiatrists are corporate America’s drug pushers.
Banning Guns For Citizens?
Now I’m going to get a lot of hostile responses for bucking the knee-jerk hysteria about banning assault rifles that’s going around. It seems to me like this issue was custom-tailored to distract the nation from the “fiscal cliff” backroom betrayals currently gutting your Social Security and Medicare inside the centers of power. There are numerous massacres, unfortunately. The media volume generated by this particular one is like a tsunami and changes the top story away from the machinations of the White House and Congress, where their long-planned deal-making could potentially kill many, many more people than the occasional shooting spree. They actually do kill many, many more children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere… but that’s a different article.
I see no problem clamping down on high-capacity assault rifles. But I don’t for a second believe that’s going to change anything. What exactly can you do with an assault rifle, that you can’t do with a thousand other different kinds of guns? Reloading isn’t really that time-consuming or difficult. Multiple weapons are easy to obtain, especially if one is motivated enough and doesn’t care if they make it out alive. So how does that solve the problem?
Similarly, the “background checks” don’t catch spree shooters who don’t have criminal records and just one day snap. There’s nothing to check, and future-crime has not been wiped out yet.
Ah, the nuclear option – ban all the guns. That’s next.
There’s an interesting idea. With 300,000,000 guns in America, it should be no problem to just collect them all. Criminals would be first to line up at the weapon depository and rape scan center. Once the criminals are disarmed, things will go smoothly.
Some suggest that the population doesn’t need to be armed, as an armed rebellion against a tyrannical regime is futile. That’s a selective reading of history (and of the Bill of Rights), but even granted it was true, weapons are useful for self-defense from whomever. They can be indispensable in times of chaos or collapse. We do retain the right to defend ourselves, but apparently a lot of liberal/left types would make that technically impossible, by forcibly disarming everyone who complies.
Oh, no doubt, you could be re-armed by enlisting in some civilian human-drone force, as Obama first proposed back in 2008. Selective service in some organized policing force or military unit in order to graduate from high school was a wet dream proposal of the current president’s. There explains the “450 million rounds of 40 caliber” hollow-point ammunition that the Department of Homeland Security just ordered. Perhaps forced teenage DHS police labor can replace professional local police forces, which can be laid off in order to enact even more budget cuts around the nation. There’s a great idea.
But guns are here to stay. They aren’t going anywhere. America is an “armed madhouse” as Greg Palast phrased it, so perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the “mad” part of the equation.
No large scale, long term, socio-political movements have emerged to challenge the bi-partisan dominant classes. For a brief moment the “Occupy Wall Street” movement provided a platform to denounce the 1% super-rich but then faded into memory.
Questions arose whether in the midst of prolonged hardship people would turn to religion for solace and escape into spiritual pietism. The question this essay addresses is whether religion has become the ‘opium of the people’ as Karl Marx suggested or whether religious beliefs and institutions are themselves in crisis, losing their spiritual attraction in the face of their inability to resolve the everyday material needs of a growing army of impoverished, low paid, unemployed and contingent workers and a downwardly mobile middle class. In other words are major religions growing and prospering in our time of permanent economic crises and perpetual wars or are they on the down-slope part and parcel of the decline of the US Empire?
According to the latest data as of 2008 the biggest religious group is Christianity with 173.402 million members representing 76% of the adult population followed by Judaism with 2.680 million representing 1.2% of the adult population; followed by Eastern religions 1.961 million and representing .9% and Muslims 1.349 million representing .6% of adults. The second most populous group after the Christians are those adults who state they have ‘no religion’ 34.169 million or 15%.
The dynamic trends over time show a declining percentage of adults who are Christians: between 1990-2008 they dropped from 86.2% to 76%; Jews have declined from 1.8% of adult population in 1990 to 1.2% in 2008 and Eastern religion is growing from .4% of adult population to .97% of population. Likewise, the percentage of Muslims in the adult population has grown from .3% in 1990 to .6% in 2008. The percentage of non-religious adult population has increased from 8.2% in 1990 to 15% in 2008.
While both practitioners of Christianity and Judaism, as a percentage of the adult population, have declined, there is a sharp divergence in terms of numerical change; between 1990 and 2008 the number of Christians has increased by 2,218 million while the number of Jews has declined by 457 thousand. Judaism is the only one of the major and minor religions to decline in absolute numbers.
The combined number of Eastern and Muslim religious affiliates now exceeds Judaism by 630,000 believers about 30%. Jews today represent only 1.2% of the adult US population compared to 1.5% for Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. The gap between Christians and non-religious US adults has narrowed over the past 20 years: from 86.2% to 8.2% in 1990 to 76% to 15% in 2008. Among Christians the biggest decline is among ‘mainline protestant churches’ (Methodists, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian/ Anglican and United Church of Christ) from 32.8 million in 1998 to 29.4 million in 2008; and among “unspecified Protestants” from 17 million to 5.2 million. The biggest increases are among “non-denominational Christians” rising from 194,000 to 8.03 million believers in 1990-2008, unspecified Christians from 8.1 million to16.4 million and Pentecostals up from 5.7 million in 1990 to 7.9 million in 2008. Catholic and Baptists grew in numbers but barely held their own as a percentage of the adult population.
Analysis of Religious Trends in Political-Economic Context
Contrary to most observers and pundits, the economic crisis has not led to an upsurge in religious memberships or identification – the search for ‘spiritual consolation’ in a time of economic despair. The mainline churches and synagogues do not attract or even keep membership because they have little to offer in material solutions to their members in time of need (mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcies, unemployment, losses of savings, pensions or stocks). Contrary to some pundits even the more otherworldly, apocalyptic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Born Again Churches while increasing their number have failed to attract a larger percentage of the adult population over the past 20 years; in 1990 they had 3.5% of adults and in 2008 4.4% an increase of .9%.
The crises decade has had several major impacts – it severely weakened religious identity with any specific denomination, it increased religious uncertainty and vastly increased the number and percentage of adult Americans who are no longer religious. Between 1998 and 2008, the percentage of adults in both categories doubled from 10.5% to 20.2%; the numbers increased from 18.34 million to 46 million. It would appear that most of the ‘non-religious’ are drawn from former mainline Christians and Jews.
The rise of non-religious adults between 1990-2008 cannot be related to greater education, urbanization and exposure to rationalist thought which has more or less remained the same over the two decades. What has changed is the rising discontent over declining income among wage and salaried workers, the vast increases in inequality, the perpetual wars and the public discredit of the principle political and economic institutions – Congress is viewed negatively by 78% of Americans, as are banks, especially Wall Street. The religious institutions and religious faith is increasingly seen as irrelevant at best and complicit in the decay of American living standards and workplace standards. Despite the dramatic increase in ‘non-religious’ Americans close to 75% still claim to be believers of one or another version of Christianity.
The crisis in Judaism is far more severe than even the ‘mainline Christian’ churches. Over the past 20 years the number of adult Jews has declined by about 15%, over 450,000 former Jews ceased to identify as such. Some of the political economic causes for the flight from Judaism may be similar to the Christians. Others may be more specific to Jews: over 50% of Jews marry outside of the synagogue with non-Jews, cause and consequence of ‘defection’. Others may convert to other religions – Oriental or Christian. Some Jewish neo-conservative rabbis and ideologues rant about the threat of ‘assimilation’ being the equivalent of ‘genocide’. Most likely most former Jews have become ‘non-religious’ or secular and some of the reasons may vary. For some, Old Testament bloody tales and Talmudic rulings do not resonate with modern rational thought. Political considerations may also contribute to the sharp decline in self-identifying Jews: the ever tighter links and identity of Israel with Jewish religious institutions, the Israeli flag waiving and unconditional support of Israeli war crimes has repelled many former parishioners, who quietly retire rather than engage in a personally costly spiritual struggle against the formidable pro-Israel apparatus embedded in the inter-locking religious-Zionist networks.
The religious crises, the decline in belief and institutional affiliation, is intimately related to the moral decay in US public institutions and the precipitous decline of living standards. Among Christians the decline is incremental but steady; among Jews it is deeper and more rapid. No ‘alternative religious’ revival is in the horizon. The more fundamentalist Christian groups have responded by becoming more politically involved in extremist movements like the Tea Party demonizing public spending to ameliorate social inequities or have joined Islamophobic pro Israeli movements – precisely as increasing numbers of ex-Jews depart!
The secular or non-religious adult population has yet to organize and articulate a program in contrast to the fundamentalists, perhaps because they are too disparate a social category – in terms of socio-economic and class interests. ‘Not religious’ tells us little about what is the alternative. The shrinking percentage of religious believers can have several outcomes: in some cases it can lead to a hardening of doctrine and organizational structures ‘to keep the faithful in line’. In others it has led to increasing politicization, mostly on the extreme right. Among Christians it means insisting on literal readings of the Bible and anti- evolutionism; among Jews, the shrinking numbers are intensifying tribal loyalties and more aggressive fundraising, lobbying, and unconditional support for a “Jewish State”, purged of Palestinians, and more punitive witch-hunts against critics of Israel and Zionism.
What needs to be done is a movement that links the growing mass of rational non-religious people with the vast majority of American wage and salaried workers, experiencing declining living standards and the rising costs (material and spiritual) of imperial wars. Some religious individuals and even denominations will be attracted to such a movement others will attack it for sectarian and political reasons. But as a non-religious morality links individual and political crises to social action, so can the political community create the bases for a new society built on secular needs and public ethics.
South Africa’s ruling party has officially endorsed Palestine’s Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel, making it the first major non-Muslim political faction to throw its weight behind the nonviolent resistance movement.
The African National Congress issued a resolution in support of the boycott campaign making it a part of its official policy, and specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.”
A press release issued by activist group BDS South Africa called the move “the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.”
Previous moves to support Palestine’s nonviolent resistance movement from state actors have restricted their backing to the boycott of Israeli settlements, shying away from targeting the Jewish state. In September, the Irish parliament voted to ban Israeli settlement imports. Earlier this month, an Israeli newspaper reported that the EU was looking into boycotting settlement goods, after Israel defied calls to stem construction of the illegal houses.
Another clause of the resolution lashed out at Israel’s mistreatment of Africans, which culminated in the mass deportation of South Sudanese this year: “The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union.”
The move is the latest in a series of actions by the ANC to pressure Israel into ending the Jewish state’s racist policies, particularly against indigenous Palestinians.
This August, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim advised South Africans not to travel to Israel “because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people.”
Palestine activists have long worked to draw attention to parallels between South Africa’s apartheid period and Palestinian repression under Israel’s ethno-religious-exclusive government system. Palestine’s BDS movement is said to be largely inspired by South Africa’s own boycott movement, which is credited with playing a major role in dismantling apartheid in that country in 1994.
South African Apartheid was declared official policy in 1948, the same year the state of Israel was created and thousands of Palestinians were expelled or put under martial rule.
In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. The launch followed a historic ruling at the International Court of Justice that Israel’s apartheid wall, which greatly restricts movement in the West Bank and expropriates large swathes of Palestinian land, be demolished.
The BDS movement has garnered support from activists and labor unions worldwide, as well as from a growing list of artists, including Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Santana, Cat Power and the late Gil Scott Heron.
Full BDS South Africa Press release
MEDIA RELEASE: S. Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, reaffirms boycott of Israel resolution
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), at its 53rd National Conference, reaffirmed a resolution supporting the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.
In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign (ISC Declaration, page 2, point 10).
Today, Lindiwe Zulu (member of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee and special advisor to President Jacob Zuma) announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement, as captured in Resolution 39 (b), of the ANC’s October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) and all its resolutions, which includes a resolution on BDS. Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.
In addition, the ANC adopted resolution 35 (g) that specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.” In 2005 Palestinian civil society issued a call to the international community for a program and campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to be applied against Israel as a way to pressure Israel to end its violations of international law, respect Palestinian human rights and engage in fair negotiations for a just peace.
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa welcomed today’s decision: “This reaffirmation by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. The ANC has now taken its international conference resolutions, and officially made it the policy of the ANC. We look forward to working with the ANC and specifically the ISC steering committee to expedite its implementation.”
Another hard-hitting decision on Israel that was adopted by the ANC was resolution 35 (j): “The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union”. In June this year Israeli anti-African protests turned into full-fledged race riots. Israeli racism and xenophobia against Africans is shared and even encouraged by Israeli politicians including the Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said: “If we don’t stop their [African immigrants’] entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence…and threatens the social fabric of society.” Israel’s Minister of Interior, Eli Yishai, has said that African immigrants “think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” And the Israeli parliamentarian, Miri Regev, has publicly compared Sudanese people to “a cancer”.
Finally, in a blow to the Israeli lobby, the ANC also adopted resolution 35 (c) stating: “The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.” In the build up to the ANC’s National Conference the Israeli lobby, including the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, demanded a “balanced” and “nonpartisan” rather than a decisive and solidarity role by the ANC in the Palestinian-Israeli issue.
ISSUED BY MBUYISENI NDLOZI FOR BDS SOUTH AFRICA