As-Sawia, Occupied Palestine – On the evening of the 10th September, unknown assailants broke into the As-Sawia Secondary School, forced open the door and set the school on fire. Bedouins living close to the school saw the fire and alerted the fire brigade. By the time it was put out, the principal’s office and teachers’ rooms were completely burned.
“We lost six computers, four printers, all the teachers’ books and materials, but most of all, the administrative documents and files of the students and about the school situation over the past years. The whole damage is around 140,000 shekels,” the principle Adnan Hussein told ISM. The school was closed for three days after the arson attack.
As in many schools in the occupied West Bank, the students and staff of As-Sawia Secondary School suffer from constant settler and military harassment. Three days before the arson, armed settlers who called themselves “security” from one of the nearby hilltop illegal settlements stood at the school gates. When the principal spoke to them, they claimed that children threw stones at the settler cars on their way to school.
The school is located by Road 90, which was paved in 1944 and runs across the West Bank. The road is used by Palestinians and by illegal settlers. The children have to walk alongside it to get to school in the mornings and to go home after school.
“Our school is suffering both for the settlers and the army,” explained Hussein. “We constantly have the army at our gates, checking ID’s and bothering children”
On the 3 September, armed settlers stopped in a car marked as the illegal settlement Eli’s “security” at the gate of the school. One of the settlers came out of the car, jumped over the fence and started following some of the children, who have finished their classes and were leaving for home. The principle approached the settler and told him that he is not allowed in the school with weapons, and the settler responded that he was looking for a child who threw stones and shouted at the settler car earlier.
After agreeing to move outside the school gate at the head teacher’s insistence, the settler with the machine gun was joined by another settler and they insisted that the boy in the red T-shirt was brought to them. They also wanted the head teacher’s mobile phone number so that they could call him in the future.
“I had a bad feeling that something horrible will happen and that they will start shooting,” related Hussien. “I left some teachers with the settlers and with other teachers went to escort children through another gate and send them home, when three soldiers appeared. I went to speak to them. I told them that they cannot be in school with their weapons and in their uniforms but they insisted that they wanted to speak to a boy in the red T-shirt for 10 minutes.”
The principal and staff stood between the soldiers and settlers and the pupils to protect them while they were leaving the school. By this time worried parents were at the gate and they took the children away.
Throughout 2013, the army entered the As-Sawiya 51 times and children and the staff had to put up with teargas, sound bombs and arrests of pupils.
Hussein explained, “It is a constant worry that the settlers and the army will come. It is hard enough to control 350 teenagers even in the countries where there is no occupation. It is not easy and we do what we can to try to do our best keep the education for our children going. We have no problem with Jewish people and I can say that many of them are nice and honest, but settlers are generally dangerous people. I know that people should be able to choose where they live, but that does not include taking someone else’s land without permission.”
Now that the dust has settled on the mutilated bodies of Palestinian men, women and children, the world seems able to ignore the desperate plight of those that survived. Apartheid Israel has accomplished its periodic ‘mowing of the grass’, the leveling of Gaza’s infrastructure, the destruction of schools, hospitals and mosques, and the killing of over 2,000 innocent, unarmed and defenseless Palestinians. Business for Israel now continues as usual, with IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) terrorists focusing their murders on innocent Palestinians in the West Bank. There, with complete impunity, they bulldoze homes, shoot unarmed teenagers, arrest and detain children, establish arbitrary checkpoints and steal land, all in violation of international law, law the international community doesn’t seem particularly interested in enforcing.
This is not meant to imply that Israel is ignoring Gaza. No, in violation of the cease-fire agreement, an agreement that apparently only the Palestinians have to abide by, IDF terrorists shoot Palestinian fishermen fishing within the very limited zone that Israel, again in violation of international law, permits them.
Not all countries of the world seem oblivious to Palestinian suffering. Cuba, Venezuela and Turkey have all sent aid to assist people deprived of food, water and shelter. But the U.S., which traditionally showers all kinds of aid on countries that do its bidding, but ignores or terrorizes those, such as Palestine, that don’t, has not responded.
A recent quotation by U.S. President Barack Obama is interesting: “… we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us.” This seems to fit the situation in Palestine. At least hundreds of thousands, and, realistically, millions of people have been affected by Israel’s most recent genocidal activities, and the continued financial aid to that apartheid, racist nation has ‘economic, political and security implications’ for the U.S. A total of $3 billion is sent to Israel annually; Detroit, in bankruptcy, is scrambling to find one third of that amount to get through the year. Yet it receives no taxpayer money from the Federal government, as Israel gets $3 billion.
The political implications are beginning to be felt; more and more of the U.S.’s elected officials (this writer simply cannot bring himself to refer to them as ‘representatives’) are being pressured to look away from the money the Israel lobby grants them for their re-elections campaigns, and focus instead on human rights. This is not easy for these officials to do; such a view does not come naturally to them. Yet the political reverberations are beginning to be felt, and can only increase.
In terms of security implications, hatred for and hostility towards the U.S. grows with every bomb Israel drops on Palestine, with every home demolished, with every checkpoint established, with every unarmed youth shot to death. The U.S.’s elected officials ignore this at their peril.
Unfortunately, the quotation shown above was not said by Mr. Obama in reference to Palestine; it was said about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The president is right on top of this, because doing so in no way offends a powerful U.S. lobby. One can always take the high road when the bottom line isn’t negatively impacted.
Why, one might reasonably ask, does the U.S. ignore the political, economic and security implications of financing a regime that makes South Africa of a generation ago look almost benign? Why ignore some of the most horrific human rights violations being committed on the planet today? What benefit is there in parroting the blatant lie that Israeli oppression of a nation it illegally and brutally occupies is done for its ‘national security’?
The U.S. continues to proclaim that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. This is not surprising, since the U.S. has a very skewed idea of democracy, a concept it has never actually practiced. Yet it is a favorite buzz word, along with ‘freedom’, ‘liberty’ and a few others that officials love to toss around, knowing the lemming-citizens go wild for it. Say them in front of an American flag, with the hand on the heart, and the jingoistic tears will flow. Never mind looking at reality. Ignore the abject poverty in many parts of the U.S.; the suicides (an average of 22 per day) of veterans who have, ostensibly, fought for that ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ (what they were actually fighting for is a topic for another essay); the racism that is so obvious, and occasionally cannot be completely ignored, as in Ferguson, Missouri. Forget about the poor performance of U.S. students compared with those of any other industrialized nation, as schools struggle to hold onto qualified teachers in the face of increasing class sizes and reduced budgets, as military contractors make billions by producing more powerful tools to kill.
So, let us summarize. Israel, a country born through genocide, continues to commit this horrific crime, financed mainly by the U.S., the world’s self-proclaimed beacon of peace and freedom. With one of the most powerful military systems on the planet, it periodically bombs, in the name of its ‘national security’, a nation it occupies, that has no army, navy or air force. When this happens, elected officials of its main financier, the U.S., all echo Israeli talking points, disregarding completely the horrific human rights violations that are perpetrated on a daily basis, and those that are exponentially worse with carpet bombing. Additionally, the U.S. press, with few exceptions, ignores Palestinian suffering and focuses on Israeli inconvenience.
This is the work of the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ as financed by the largest pseudo-democracy operating in the west. Both are criminal regimes, looking only for power and wealth, at the expense of common decency. Both must be stopped, and it won’t be their governments, the United Nations or other governments that will stop them. As with all movements for human rights, it will be the will of the people around the world that, eventually, will no longer be able to be ignored.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel | September 10, 2014
The campaign, which started two years ago, asks for support from professionals from the academic and scientific field, and also from associations linked to this field, such as student’s and worker’s unions, research centres, professional associations, etc. From the 1,400 people who have signed the manifesto, 150 are professors, 850 are teachers and 200 are researchers. More than 52 associations linked to the academic field have also signed; among them there are research groups and University departments.
This initiative is part of an international campaign: Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) to Israel. This international calling is a non-violent strategy driven by the Palestinian Society in 2005. It is growing as an effective pressure strategy towards Israel, so that it respects Human Rights and International Law. Last year, the physician Stephen Hawking, the Nobel Peace Prize Desmond Tutu and four American academic associations adhered to the boycott. It’s important to emphasize that this demand is at an institutional level and not at an individual one. On the same line, the European Union has established a de facto boycott to all collaboration with Israeli research centres and Universities placed in the Occupied Territories.
The campaign will keep collecting signatures and foresees to support specific campaigns which will develop in different Spanish universities, such as the University of Vic and the University of Malaga, where the aim is to break ties with the Haifa University and the Tel Aviv University, respectively.
In Catalonia, activists from the above mentioned campaign, occupied on May 15th the Secretary of Universities and Research asking for transparency in all of the agreements signed last November when a delegation of businessmen, councillors and directors of research centres lead by Artur Mar travelled to Israel to tighten economic and academic ties with Israeli institutions.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) yesterday called to hold Israel accountable for its war in the Gaza Strip and to suspend the EU-Israel association agreement, the Anadolu news agency reported.
In a statement, the MEPs declared, “Israel’s direct targeting of civilians and its reckless cause of civilian deaths is a clear breach of international human rights law.”
Member of the Unitarian Left (GUE/NGL) parliamentary group, Martina Anderson said: “You cannot go on with an agreement after you have broken it.”
The European Union condemns the establishment of illegal settlements on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and considers it a violation of international law, but the association agreement with Israel is still valid.
Anderson stressed the Palestinians’ right to sovereignty, freedom and to live with dignity and respect and that they, as parliamentarians, should take responsibility otherwise they will become “partners in crime”.
Portuguese MEP, Marisa Matias said that suspending the association agreement with Israel is not a sufficient step, stressing on the need to apply an arms embargo and start working on a full ban of Israeli products produced in the occupied territories.
Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, former advisor to Palestinian negotiators, and author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (2013) and The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006).
Diana Buttu, Ramallah-based analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators, and Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.
Q – Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently announced a new diplomatic initiative calling on Israel to end its occupation within three years and to allow for the creation of a Palestinian state with borders based on the pre-1967 lines. If Israel refuses, or fails to negotiate in good faith, Abbas says the Palestinians will take action at international forums like the International Criminal Court.
How does this plan differ fundamentally, if at all, from Abbas’ previous strategy, and what is the likelihood that it will succeed, or at least advance the cause of Palestinian freedom in some way?
RK – “It appears that it would delay further the possibility of pressure on Israel by the International Criminal Court, and provide further opportunity for Israeli foot-dragging, prevarication and aggression, while settlement building and occupation continue. This Israeli government has never negotiated in good faith, and there is no proper forum or structure for a negotiation in any case, the Oslo process having been revealed as a device for strengthening Israeli occupation control and colonization of Palestinian lands.”
DB – “This plan does not differ, in any way, from previous failed plans put forward by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is one of the architects of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations process known as Oslo. As such, he appears to have only one plan — negotiations — and despite the indisputable fact that this process has failed to bring Palestinians any closer to their freedom after more than two decades, he continues to insist on returning to this same strategy.
“To be clear, Israel has no interest in reaching a fair and lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians, but does have an interest in resuming negotiations. Under the cover of ‘peace talks,’ Israel can continue to build and expand its illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land, and it can continue to maintain a brutal military occupation while at the same time reaping the benefits of increased trade and normalized international relations.
“Therefore, Abbas needs to change course and pursue a different strategy. Instead of demanding more negotiations, he should push the international community to isolate and ostracize Israel for its continued military occupation, colonization, and other violations of international law. This should take the form of advocating for sanctions and boycotts against Israel, and pushing for Israel’s isolation from the international arena. At the same time, he should mobilize large-scale nonviolent resistance on the ground in Palestine, something he has failed utterly to do up until now. Another three years of negotiations will only serve to provide Israel with yet more time to build more settlements, and make even further demands that Palestinians concede more of their territory to accommodate Israel’s criminal behavior.”
Q – According to reports, Israel is refusing to send negotiators to Cairo for follow-up talks to ease its blockade of Gaza and to address other issues, as stipulated in the ceasefire agreement that ended its latest bloody military assault on the occupied and besieged coastal territory last week. If Israel refuses to abide by its word to discuss a loosening of the siege and other matters, what avenues of redress do Palestinians have, and does Israel’s continued intransigence make another war in Gaza inevitable?
RK – “If occupation and settlement continue, and in the absence of international efforts to call Israel to account for its violations of UN Security Council resolutions and international law, there will unfortunately inevitably be more violence. The Palestinians should be actively seeking to reunite their national movement, agreeing on a consensus strategy involving popular mobilization, and expanding international and regional support for their cause in order to put pressure on Israel, which has managed to maintain the status quo of occupation and colonization of Palestinian land for nearly five decades now.”
DB – “Israel has no incentive, whatsoever, to resume discussions over Gaza. Unlike its negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in which a resumption of talks provides Israel with the opportunity to expand its settlement enterprise without international repercussions, Israel is under no pressure to open Gaza. Rather, Israel has been allowed to maintain a seven-year blockade of Gaza, deny Palestinians freedom of movement and the ability to import and export goods, and deny Palestinians access to their fishing rights without any reaction from the international community. Israel has reneged on previous promises to open a seaport and airport in Gaza and to open the crossing points. Yet, it has done so with impunity.
“Given that no people can be expected to sit idly by while being denied their freedom, caged in an open-air prison, and targeted by repeated military attacks, sadly it will only be a matter of time before yet another war in Gaza breaks out. This is why Palestinians have been urgently pressing for the international community’s involvement, and highlights the necessity of a comprehensive approach to address Israel’s military occupation and denial of Palestinian rights and freedoms.”
Q - On Sunday, the Israeli government announced plans to expropriate almost 1000 acres of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank near Bethlehem, in what is reportedly the largest Israeli land grab in three decades. In response, the international community, including the United States and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, condemned the move, with the latter pointing out that all settlement activity is “illegal under international law and runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-state solution.” Even before this latest large-scale Israeli theft of Palestinian land, a growing number of observers had concluded that the two-state solution, which is predicated on the creation of a Palestinian state in territories that Israel continues to aggressively colonize, was dead. What, if any, impact do you think this move will have on the situation on the ground, Abbas’ new diplomatic initiative, and prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict?
RK – “Israel has long since buried the two-state solution with its colonization efforts all over occupied Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly publicly stated that Israel will never give up its control of these territories. It is unclear what more he could do to drive a stake through the heart of the two-state solution, so far without provoking any serious international or regional reaction. The Oslo paradigm is dead, and we seem to be in a new phase, but neither Palestinian and Arab leaders, nor the US and Europe, have yet reacted in an appropriate way, which would be to finally hold Israel responsible for its actions and to impose serious sanctions on this serial violator of international law and norms.”
DB – “Israel cannot claim to favor a negotiated settlement or to support the two-state solution while also expropriating Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements. While Israeli actions like settlement building are blatantly illegal, the international community has failed to hold Israeli leaders accountable or to censure Israel in any way, apart from the occasional toothless verbal condemnation. Unfortunately, Abbas’s ‘new’ diplomatic initiative will only serve to provide Israel with more time to build and expand more settlements while the world sits, watches, and does nothing. Israel killed the two-state solution a long time ago, aided and abetted by the international community’s apathy and inaction. One can only hope that this latest large-scale theft of Palestinian land will lead to a shift in international thinking, forcing world leaders to realize that the only way forward is to hold Israel accountable for its illegal actions — rather than demanding a return to useless, counterproductive negotiations.”
For further reference, see our recently released expert Q&A: Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch on Being Denied Entry to Gaza, and our recently released fact sheets, Putting Palestinians “On a Diet”: Israel’s Siege & Blockade of Gaza and The Children of Gaza: A Generation Scarred & Under Siege.
There is no question as to how immensely successful the Block the Boat protest at the Port of Oakland, led by Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and arranged with the help of countless organizations, was. Unless you are a supporter of Israel or a journalist at the Oakland Tribune. Thousands of protesters, including an estimated 5,000 who marched on the Port of Oakland on August 16, prevented the Zim Piraeus from unloading by keeping workers from crossing their picket line to enter the port for an historic four days, making it “the longest blockade of an Israeli ship” according to AROC.
The Oakland Tribune, Haaretz, and a number of other outlets, reported that the Israeli-owned Zim Piraeus unloaded its cargo after “delays” but after speaking to a number of distributors whose cargo was being transported by Zim Piraeus I found this to be unmistakably false and misleading.
According to a document from PIERS, a database of US international trade which provides maritime logistics, at least 23 companies are clearly listed as having goods aboard Zim Piraeus – ranging from cucumber pickles and sparkling wine to ceramic tiles and solar swimming pool heaters – with some goods originating in Israel. Though building materials and agricultural produce were listed by PIERS it should be noted that Zim Integrated Shipping Services imports ammunition “manufactured by Israel Manufacturing Industries by Federal Cartridge (Federal Premium Ammunition)” which makes defense ammunition used by U.S. law enforcement and has a weapons contract with the Department of Homeland Security. Federal Premium Ammunition is a subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems, which produces Bushmaster autocannons used by U.S. forces and NATO, the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (an air-to-surface missile), Hellfire missile upgrades, and provides other weapons services to the US military and allies. The import report for Zim shows that the ammunition originated in Israel, at the Port of Haifa and arrived at the Port of Savannah in Georgia.
Zim’s first ship, the Kedmah, was purchased in 1947, before the creation of the State of Israel, and would carry thousand of immigrants to Palestine. In 1948 Zim ships would carry arms and ammunition used to carry out the Nakba, and according to a video published online by Zim Integrated Shipping Services “Zim would play this crucial role every time Israel faced conflict.” Ze’ev Shind, a key Mossad activist who would become managing director of Zim Israel Navigation Co., president of the American-Israel Shipping Co., and Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Defense was a principal figure organizing immigration to Palestine, according to The Canadian Jewish Chronicle. The role of Zim in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is well documented, even by Zim sources.
Esteson Co., a direct food and beverage importer and distributor in California, posted on their Facebook page that their “garlic is now rotting on its way to Russia to be offloaded unto (sic) another vessel,” and when contacted for comment it was mentioned that a container of Zeos beer never arrived due to the Port action. All in all, Esteson Co. has not received any of their products as of September 3.
Good Stuff Distributors, located in San Francisco, California, told Al-Akhbar English that not only did they not receive their shipment of Zadona cucumber pickles as of September 3 they do not know where the cargo is and are still waiting to hear from Zadona as to where the items are. A spokesperson for Good Stuff Distributors informed Al-Akhbar English that not only were they unaware of Zim’s ties to Israel they have made it clear to Zadona, of Sinokrot Food Company, that they are to “find another vessel” as Good Stuff Distributors will no longer be using Zim.
Alfa Omega Co., which has trading partners in France, Spain and Greece, disclosed to Al-Akhbar English that their business was “greatly affected”, as they did not receive any of their products, including olives. The spokesperson was clearly unhappy, stating that the targeting of Zim by the Block the Boat protesters, specifically, is the reason that they will now look for another vessel to use for their products, despite having worked with Zim “for years”.
The sales and marketing manager at Carmichael International Service, a customs broker and freight forwarder with laminated glass aboard Zim Piraeus, told Al-Akhbar English that customers did not receive their products as of September 3, but it was due to “delays” and “port congestion,” which is undoubtedly a brazen spin on what transpired at the Port of Oakland. When examining the vessel schedule for the Zim Piraeus, dating back to July and after August 20, we find that there are no analogous delays as there was in Oakland as the vessels usually left the same day or a day after, unlike at the Port of Oakland where the “delay” was at least four days long.
Cynara Worldwide Sourcing Inc., located in Fresno, California, said that all products on the Zim Piraeus were not only never unloaded but that they were sent to Shanghai and they wouldn’t receive them until at least the end of the month. As a result of Block the Boat, the spokesperson told Al-Akhbar English that they have put an immediate halt to “everything on Zim” and will now be looking for other vessels they can use.
The most curious case in regards to Block the Boat is that of American Metals and Chemicals, located in Hollywood, Florida. A representative told Al-Akhbar English that they did not receive their shipment of alkyl sulfonic acid, and that the cargo was diverted to Russia. When asked who they were contacted by the representative stated that a letter was delivered from an attorney’s office, though they could not find the letter at the time of the phone call so as to disclose which office. The letter stated, in part, that their shipment was “turned away because of the strike” at the Port of Oakland. There was also a follow up telephone call from the same office, letting them know that their products were being diverted.
The remaining consignees listed as having cargo delivered to the Port of Oakland by the Zim Piraeus during the Block the Boat campaign were contacted by Al-Akhbar English but did not immediately return calls for comment on the whereabouts of their goods – based on what was revealed by the 6 companies that did supply information it is not difficult to assume that they faced comparable circumstances. Regardless, Block the Boat was not only successful in keeping the Zim Piraeus from unloading the aforementioned cargo but due specifically to this action a number of companies are now either putting a hold on all products using Zim vessels or reconsidering using Zim, which is not only contrary to what the media has reported but an impressive achievement for the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar said on Monday that the United States is a partner to the Israeli occupation and its crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to the Palestinian Al-Quds television, he said: “We mean the US administration, not the American people, who took to the streets in large rallies against Israel’s crimes.”
He explained that lifting the Israeli siege of Gaza is not a demand, but a right. “We have the right to exist and lifting the siege is one of our rights,” he said, “it has to be lifted without a price.”
Regarding the Israeli soldiers who were abducted during Israel’s latest invasion of the Gaza Strip, he said their price is the release of the Palestinian prisoners. “This is our policy, which the enemy knows very well,” he said.
He continued: “There are two kinds of prisoners: MPs, former ministers, Hamas leaders and those prisoners freed in previous swaps; and the prisoners who are spending long terms in Israeli jails.”
The first kind should be released without a price, he asserted, while “the Israeli prisoners in our hands” are the price for the second kind of prisoners.
He also spoke about the seaport and airport that Hamas insisted on during the ceasefire talks in Cairo. “The airport was built during the time of late Yasser Arafat, but the occupation forces demolished it,” he said. “It is our right to rebuild it.”
“The seaport was supposed to be built in Gaza’s central port, but the occupation forces have stopped any positive measures from happening in the Strip, including the seaport,” he explained. “The Palestinian Authority was too weak to defend establishing the seaport. It is our right, which we seek to achieve. Whoever attacks us, we will attack them.”
Al-Zahar stressed that the Israeli occupation has to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court (ICC). If the Palestinian Authority does not carry out this mission, individuals in Europe and Latin America and every free country should pursue Israeli criminals at the ICC.
He concluded by comparing negotiations and resistance as methods to gain Palestinians rights. “There are diplomatic negotiations, which supporters think will gain a Palestinian state,” he said. “However, they have now failed and its supporters warn that they are going to join international organisations if negotiations are not revived.”
Meanwhile, he said the resistance programme is more “successful” and it insists on not making any concessions on Palestinians’ rights.
Below are five points that campaigning organisations and individuals should be using in all discussions and correspondence with their political representatives. This is UK-specific as DFID wants to play the leading role in co-ordinating the reconstruction of Gaza. The five point action plan relies on international law and the UK’s responsibility as a signatory of the IV Geneva Convention.
Next month there is a donors’ conference in Cairo and it is vital that British voters start pressuring their MPs as soon as possible. An online petition issued by a coalition of civil society organisations (such as Oxfam, War on Want, PSC, JFJFP, etc) which individuals can sign is also a powerful tool to exert political pressure.
I would like to ask all civil society organisations and individuals in the UK to read this, share it and help implement it as a campaign. There is a general election in the UK next year, let’s work now to make Palestine a key issue for MPs, especially the issue of the Blockade.
- UK taxpayers should not subsidise Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Taxpayers financially support the work of DFID in assisting in the rebuilding efforts, but Israel should reimburse all of DFID’s costs. DFID should send an itemised assessment, or the UK government should send a similar bill, to the Israeli government. The bill should clearly state that the UK government is issuing it as part of third-state responsibility to ensure accountability and prevent impunity for international law violations. The UK is obligated as a third state party, party to IV Geneva Convention, to demand from the violator to make reparations, compensation.
- Taxpayers should demand that the UK government makes public the complete list of all UK-funded projects destroyed and/or damaged and/or setback and/or delayed by Israel’s war on Gaza. This should also apply to the West Bank and East Jerusalem demolitions. This includes DFID funding of INGO’s who partner with local NGO’s, not just direct DFID funding.
- Should Israel refuse to pay for the damages or for DFID’s reconstruction projects, then the UK and EU should impose a Gaza reconstruction tax on all Israeli imports. The fees collected will go towards a Gaza Reconstruction Fund.
- DFID projects must be aimed at empowering the local Palestinian economy (local means all of Palestine). Israel should not profit from its violations, ie, its markets should be excluded from or be of last resort for providing materials for reconstruction projects.
- Reconstruction should not be done by accommodating the Blockade or any other illegal action. (That means continuing to use Israeli controlled crossings at the restricted rates of the Blockade which simply perpetuates the Blockade.) Ending the blockade means ending Israeli control of all imports. The current paradigm needs to be changed through international political action: Gaza needs an autonomous crossing not controlled by Israel, for example, an international seaport. The EU proposal for a Cyprus corridor is a good first start and should be supported by the UK and EU.
Israel on Thursday approved a further stage in plans to build a nine-story Jewish seminary in the heart of a densely-populated Palestinian neighborhood near Jerusalem’s Old City.
According to the Peace Now settlement watchdog, the committee threw out an appeal tabled by a left-wing council member and approved a new stage in plans for a tower block in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied east Jerusalem.
Should the plans be approved by the district planning committee, construction could begin within the coming year, Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told AFP.
“It might take six months to a year until it gets final approval for them to start building,” she said of the plan which was tabled in February.
The building will be used as a yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, for ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian residential neighborhood located to the north of the Old City.
Located on the road which links the Old City to Mount Scopus, the area is considered a strategic location and illegal settlement groups have made persistent efforts to take control of its land.
Israel captured east Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, indivisible” capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.
Both the Palestinians and the international community consider all Israeli construction on land seized in 1967 to be a violation of international law.
This has not stopped Israel from continuing its policy of illegal settlement in east Jerusalem and the West Bank over the years.
What better confirmation of the manifest failure of the philosophy of foreign interventionism than the renewed U.S. bombing of Iraq?
Just think: All those hundreds of thousands of dead, maimed, detained, and tortured Iraqis, along with those who lost their homes, businesses, and savings. They were all bombed and shot by U.S. troops for nothing. All those Iraqis suffered and died for nothing.
The same holds true, of course, for U.S. soldiers who died or came back maimed or all screwed up in the head. The ones who lost their lives died for nothing. The ones who came back physically handicapped or mentally disturbed are suffering for nothing.
How can anyone still be an interventionist after what has happened in Iraq?
But everyone is expected to continue playing the game. We’re supposed to just keep praising those brave troops who went to Iraq to defend our freedoms and to help the Iraqi people. Never mind that the results of their intervention have turned into a total failure and fiasco.
Let’s first keep in mind one central truth, a truth that interventionists don’t like talking about: In the Iraq War, the U.S. troops were the aggressors. It was Iraq that was the defending power.
A war of aggression, which the U.S. was waging on Iraq, was condemned as a war crime at Nuremberg.
Second, the U.S. government’s war on Iraq was also illegal under our form of constitutional government. President Bush was required by the law of the Constitution to secure a declaration of war from Congress before waging war on Iraq. He refused to do that and instead, on his own initiative, launched a war of aggression with his military and CIA forces.
Third, U.S. officials justified the killing of Iraqis by using a cost-benefit analysis. They said that by killing x number of Iraqis, U.S. forces would be bringing into existence a free and democratic Iraq for the survivors, which, it was said, would serve as a model for the rest of the Middle East.
Where is the morality in killing and maiming people based on a cost-benefit analysis?
Through it all, there was never one iota of genuine remorse for all the Iraqis that were being killed, maimed, tortured, or destroyed in the purported aim to bring the good society to Iraq.
Equally telling, neither the Pentagon nor the CIA ever put an upward limit on the number of Iraqis who could be killed in the quest to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. Any number of Iraqi dead, no matter how high, would be considered “worth it.”
Interventionists are pointing out the evil nature of the Islamic State, the group that is threatening to oust the U.S.-installed regime in Bagdad from power. But simply because one group is evil doesn’t necessarily mean that the term cannot also be applied to what the U.S. government has done to Iraq, especially given it was the U.S. government’s war on Iraq, along with its other Middle East policies, that unleashed the furies that have given rise to the Islamic State.
How can an unlawful and unconstitutional war of aggression, a type of war condemned as a war crime at Nuremberg not be considered evil?
How can a war in which people are being killed and maimed based on a cost-benefit analysis not be considered evil?
Indeed, think back to the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government enforced against Iraq for more than ten years. When “Sixty Minutes” asked U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madelyn Albright whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the U.S. sanctions had been “worth it,” she responded that while the choice was a difficult one, the deaths were in fact worth it.
How can those deadly sanctions — indeed, how can such a horribly callous mindset — not be described as anything but evil?
Or think back to the Persian Gulf War, when the Pentagon ordered the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants, knowing that such destruction would bring infectious illnesses in its wake? And it did. That’s what helped kill all those children, given that the sanctions prevented Iraqi officials from repairing those water and sewage treatments plants that the Pentagon had destroyed.
How can such a thing not be described as evil?
The problem, of course, is that all too many Americans can easily see the evil in other people’s actions but are unable to see the evil in their own government’s actions. That’s because in their minds they’ve raised the federal government to the level of an idol, one that can do no wrong, especially since it operates through courageous American troops and CIA agents who are always defending our freedoms in whatever they do, including waging wars of aggression against Third World countries that have never attacked the United States, killing innocent children with brutal sanctions, or killing people in a cost-benefit analysis intended, supposedly, to bring the “good life” to the survivors of the onslaught.
If the Iraq fiasco has taught us anything, it is that evil means produce evil results. Just ask anyone who is now calling on the U.S. national-security state to drop more bombs on Iraq in order to combat evil.
The decision was made unanimously by the participants of the union’s General Assembly meeting which was held at the Ryerson University, Toronto, and affects all 300,000 members.
Anna Goldfinch, a member of the union’s Board of Directors, said the decision to include the boycott of Israel, divestment and the application of sanctions was taken to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The President of the Students Union of the University of Ryerson, Rajean Hoilett said Israel had committed war crimes against the Palestinian people, and the Canadian universities that maintain relations with Israel also engage in war crimes.
US activists blocked an Israeli cargo ship from unloading at a California port for the third day in a row in protest of the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, organizers of the action reported late Monday.
The vessel, owned and operated by Israeli company Zim Shipping Services, has been trying to unload Israeli cargo in the port of Oakland since Saturday.
Thousands of protesters prevented the ship from unloading on Saturday, with the cooperation of dock workers who refused to unload the boat.
The ship has failed to unload its cargo despite attempting various tactics, including delaying its arrival time until the early morning hours. About a dozen activists continued to hold off the ship early Monday morning, according to activist sources.
One activist who spoke to Al Jazeera said the organizers were thinking of making the block a regular action, as Israeli ships arrive in the port every Saturday.
The blockade is supported by the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Unions, a group which also stood against the South African apartheid regime in 1984.