Zionism is incompatible with peace. (Tamar Fleishman/PC)
I tried to explore the long term plans of the ruling elite of Israel regarding the Palestinians. But since no Israeli government ever publicly revealed its long term vision other than maintaining the status quo, I sought to examine their thoughts through one of their surrogates, Caroline Glick. I read her book “The Israeli Solution” that has been published recently. Caroline Glick is a right wing Israeli and a strong supporter of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu policies. She is American born Israeli journalist, the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and she writes for the Israeli daily newspaper, Makor Rishon. In her book, she covers many topics that reflect the right wing Zionists views on Palestine, and she also promotes a one state plan in Palestine.
Glick argues that the two-state-solution is not acceptable because it falls short of meeting the Zionists’ goals. She writes: “The Jewish people’s rights to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria [West Bank]—as with their rights to the rest of the Land of Israel—are overwhelming from historical and political perspective.” She calls for creating an ethnic religious Jewish majority state that includes the West Bank “Judea and Samaria” and Jerusalem, but the one-state she is advocating does not include Gaza Strip and she rejects the refugees’ right of return.
Her plan offers Israeli citizenship and the right to vote to the Arab population of the West Bank neighborhoods. Glick claims that Gaza had been already an independent Palestinian state since Israel withdrew its military forces and removed its civilians from the Strip. She removed Gaza from the demographic equation and gave the Palestinians of the West Bank the option of moving to Gaza in the event that they prefer to live under Palestinian sovereignty. But she claims that Israel has the right to levy a maritime blockade of Gaza coast since it is a foreign entity governed by a terrorist organization that routinely engages in acts of war against Israel. She used a Machiavellian divide-and-conquer lie to exclude Gaza from her plan by creating fictional cultural differences between the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. She writes that the cultural affinity of the Palestinians in Gaza with Egypt is much higher than their cultural affinity with “Judea and Samaria.”
Glick states that once Israel annexes the West Bank it makes amends for the historic injustice that Jews there had suffered under the British regime which barred them from buying land! Glick ignored the November 2nd, 1917 infamous Britain’s “Balfour Declaration” that recognized the Zionist goal of establishing a Jewish home in Palestine, a country that was not a British land, its indigenous population never been consulted, and the Jews never constituted more than one percent of its population. Britain even allowed the Zionist leadership to dictate the text of the Declaration, and Britain executed it while occupying Palestine as a Mandate Power.
To support the feasibility of her one-state vision, Glick uses empirical analysis from a 2007 extensive official Israeli government study for expanding the state by absorbing all historical Palestine and maintaining Jewish majority. Based on this study, she concludes that demography is one of Israel’s greatest advantages if it decides to impose a one-state-solution. According to her book, Israel assembled a team of Israeli and American researchers to review the Palestinian population. The team was called American-Israel Demographic Research Group (ADRG). Its members included academic experts in forecasting models, demographics, and history, the former head of the civil administration in the West Bank “Judea and Samaria”, and experts in mathematical modeling. Findings compiled by the research team were presented to the leading US demographer Nicholas Eberstadt from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). It uncovered new demographic facts that had not been recognized in the past. Of the combined population of Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank, 67% are Jewish, 14% are Israeli Arab citizens living in Israel proper, 3% live in East Jerusalem, and 16% are the West Bank Arabs. The study shows annexing the West Bank would have less impact on Israel’s democracy than previously believed.
AIDRG presented to the Israeli government a step-by-step analysis of each zone in the West Bank, demonstrating that Israel can review the impact of dealing with each zone while considering territorial and security needs. Any decision made by the state was based on a rational discussion within the Israeli government and its AIDRG consultants. It was compared against alternatives for governing this same zone population by the Palestinian Authority, by a third party such as Jordan, or by intervention of the international community. Israel, according to this study can annex the West Bank gradually and retain its Jewish character.
The AIDRG study discovered that the 1997 census done by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) was a “fraud”. The Palestinians had exaggerated their population figures by 50 percent, or 1.34 million according to the report. The flaw in the PCBS census was in the natural growth forecast projection of annual growth of 4.4 percent in the West Bank “Judea and Samaria” and 5.2 percent in Gaza between 1997 and 2003. Growth based on actual data from the Israeli records showed real growth of 1.8 percent in the West Bank and 2.9 percent in Gaza. The PCBS census also forecast that the Palestine Authority would experience receiving 236,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza between 1997 and 2003, but the official numbers tallied by Israeli border authorities was only 74,000.
Actions by successive Israeli governments in the occupied lands since 1967 suggest they are thinking in the direction of Glick’s Greater Israel plan: the establishment of a one Jewish majority state within the borders of the 1922 British Mandate and maintain its Jewish character. The 600,000 settlers that Israel has transplanted in the West Bank and Jerusalem with their networks of freeways, roads, electricity and water suggests that Israel is in the process of creating the state which Glick proposes.
Israel continues to build new settlements and expand the old ones. Palestinian’s homes and villages are being demolished because they were built without permits and permits are denied because the applicants are Palestinians. Israel drove more than 56,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites out of their city by denying them residence permits because they work outside the city municipality borders, and even prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque are disallowed by the military or interrupted by Jewish extremists under the protection of the Israeli security. Israel and Egypt have no intention to ease or lift the crippling economic blockade and siege on Gaza that has been destroyed multiple times and kept its inhabitants in absolute poverty. International donors convened in Cairo to raise funds for the reconstruction of the Strip following the third Israeli brutal assault in five years, but not to end the occupation and realization of Palestinian sovereignty, the main cause of violence. There is urgent need to rebuild Gaza now, but that does not compensate for the loss of thousands of innocent lives; and the aid is not even a temporary solution to the suffering of refugees of two wars living for decades under inhumane conditions. Until the occupation ends and the Palestinians live free in their country and a just solution for the refugees is reached, there will be a never-ending cycles of violence and destruction.
Israel insists that no concessions are possible on territorial or security issues, Jerusalem or the Palestinians’ right of return.Israel’s economy minister, Naftali Bennett said recently: “The idea that a Palestinian state should be established within the land of Israel has reached a dead end”. In his 2014 speech to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu denied that Israel was occupying Palestinians lands. He said, “The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. History, archaeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.” He also said on last July 11: “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” Israel’s Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon ruled out the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel in a speech at a cultural event recently in the South Sharon Regional Council.
In the mean time the Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders who lost credibility among their people promise to liberate their people from occupation and threaten to prosecute Israel in the International Courts while their security forces collaborate with the occupation forces to suppress any Palestinian resistance against the occupation. Members of the PA security force may even join the Israelis at the tightly monitored crossings to Gaza to prevent any possibility of allowing goods shipped to the starved people in the Strip that would threaten Israel’s security. Zionism is incompatible with peace and it is not easy for the Palestinians to be optimistic about the future when no one trusts a thing their leaders say!
- Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D. is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Basketball fans joined with human rights supporters in several U.S. towns to call for a boycott of Israeli sports teams, and to challenge what they call a ‘public relations tour’ by Israeli teams in the U.S. They gathered outside and inside the exhibition games to try to bring attention to the ongoing Israeli military occupation of Palestine.
In Cleveland, Ohio, dozens of protesters chanted and held signs outside the exhibition game last week, and a similar protest took place on Friday in Portland, Oregon.
According to organizers, “These teams represent the injustice and occupation of Palestine. While this team travels freely, Palestinian athletes are denied that same right.
“The Israeli basketball tour is a PR campaign to cover up the horrific massacre of the past summer that killed over 2,100 people in Gaza, including over 500 children. In some cities the games are being used as a fundraiser for the Israeli military. That is the same military that continues to occupy Palestine, kill indiscriminately, and deny Palestinian citizens the right to live freely and with justice.
“The image of the 4 young boys killed by Israeli bombs while playing soccer on the beach is Gaza is forever engraved in our hearts. We won’t let this tour be a smokescreen over the ongoing horror of the occupation of Palestine.
The groups protesting the games say that they are calling for a boycott of Israeli sports teams and events to call for freedom, justice and human dignity for the Palestinian people, who are living under an Israeli military occupation.
In Cleveland, the exhibition game was accompanied by a fundraiser for the Israeli military – the only foreign military that is allowed to hold fundraisers in the U.S., and accept direct contributions from U.S. citizens.
The Cleveland basketball team, the Cavaliers, recently hired as its head coach David Blatt, who came to the job after serving as head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv (the team featured in the exhibition game). Blatt called the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza that killed over 2,100 people, including 500 children, “Israel’s most justified war”.
The Ohio basketball boycott action follows an ongoing controversy at the University of Illinois, in which a professor who expressed support for Palestinian equal rights on Twitter was denied employment. Recent releases of documents related to the case show a close relationship that could constitute a conflict of interest between members of the university and Zionist leaders in the community. The documents also revealed that the University President lied about the sequence of events in the case.
The department store chain Macy’s has stopped carrying Israeli settlement products of SodaStream, according to the Wall Street Journal. Macy’s has been targeted the past year by pro-Palestinian activists, who have called on it and other major chains to stop carrying the SodaStream home carbonation system and soda flavourings due to the company’s role in the military occupation of Palestine.
This news comes amidst sinking share prices of the company, which earlier this month announced preliminary results for the fourth quarter. It projected $125 million in revenue in the quarter and operating income of $8.5 million. That’s well short of the $154.4 million of revenue and $17.6 million in operating income expected by analysts. In the third quarter of last year, the revenue was about the same, but operating income of $18 million was more than double what it expects this year. Its shares have dropped by 45% so far this year.
Jim Charnier, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt, told the Wall Street Journal that he had been expecting a poor quarter when he learned early in September that Macy’s had stopped carrying SodaStream and saw other negative figures from the market.
Macy’s did not respond to questions by North American activists concerning SodaStream.
For more than a year, religious and human rights organizations throughout the United States have urged Macy’s, Target and other corporations to de-shelve SodaStream products because of the company’s complicity with Israel’s occupation and settlements. SodaStream products are largely manufactured in the West Bank Mishor Adumim settlement industrial zone.
“We are very disappointed in our recent performance,” said Daniel Birnbaum, Chief Executive Officer of SodaStream. “Our U.S. business underperformed due to lower than expected demand for our soda makers and flavors which was the primary driver of the overall shortfall in the third quarter. While we were successful over the last few years in establishing a solid base of repeat users in the U.S., we have not succeeded in attracting new consumers to our home carbonation system at the rate we believe should be achieved. The third quarter results are a clear indication that we must alter our course and improve our execution across the board. We have already begun a strategic shift of the SodaStream brand towards health & wellness, primarily in the U.S., where we believe this message will resonate more strongly with consumers….”
SodaStream states that calls for boycott are indeed a “risk factor” and a cause for “rising political tensions and negative publicity”, although this official notice makes no mention of boycott. However, the company has declared in the past that moving its factory out Mishor Adumim would require the expenditure of resources and, more importantly, “limit certain of the tax benefits for which we are currently eligible.” These benefits stem from the fact that the Israeli government provides economic incentives, including tax deductions, for businesses operating in West Bank settlements.
John Lewis in the UK had been the latest retailer to stop stocking SodaStream products and protests forced a SodaStream store in Brighton, UK, to close recently. SodaStream also had to deal with a public relations headache early this year when the U.K. charity Oxfam criticized its brand ambassador Scarlett Johansson for working with the settlement company. Johansson stepped down from her role with Oxfam and defended the company.
Soros Fund Management, the family office of the billionaire investor George Soros, also sold its stake in SodaStream this past August.
“Soros Fund Management does not own shares of SodaStream,” Michael Vachon, a spokesman for the fund, told The National, declining to comment further on when and why it sold the shares.
In a May filing with the US markets regulator, the fund said it had bought 550,000 shares of SodaStream during the first quarter. Bloomberg reported that the fund acquired the shares for $24.3 million, with the new holding making up 0.3 per cent of the fund’s $9.3 billion stock portfolio.
“After pressure from Soros partners in the region and the world, they dropped SodaStream and promised, in private letters so far, to issue guidelines similar to those adopted by the EU to prevent any investment into companies that sustain the Israeli occupation and settlements in particular,” said Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian activist and co-founder of the BDS movement.
The activist group Adalah-NY continues its campaign against SodaStream following the decision by Macy’s, and at the end of October will visit New York stores that stock and sell SodaStream, letting owners and managers know why they should stop. Adalah-NY notes that this planned week of visits will be used to develop its future NYC-based campaign against SodaStream.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The land research center said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) established fake graves in Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque, as part of feverish steps to Judaize the Arab history and identity of the holy city.
In a report released on Friday, the center stated that Zionist settler groups in cooperation with the nature and parks authority planted tombs built of stone on a tract of Palestinian land located between Silwan district and the Umayyad Palaces area, south of the Aqsa Mosque.
It noted that the tombs, engraved with the Star of David, were made look like age-old ones and presented to tourists as Jewish graves built before 1948.
“Such step confirms once again that the occupation state is seeking on purpose to fake the history of Jerusalem in violation of the international norms and laws that demand it not to make changes to any land under its occupation,” the center underlined.
The center also warned that creating fake graves enables Israel to seize more areas in east Jerusalem.
The Anadolu news agency reported a statement for Zoabi saying she had informed the Israeli police of her plan to appeal to the Israeli court against the “arbitrary” banning of women from entering the mosque.
She did not disclose with which court she was planning to file the appeal, but the process starts by filing an appeal to the magistrate court, then to the district court then to the High Court.
Zoabi described Israel’s ban on Palestinian women entering Al-Aqsa Mosque as a “dangerous precedent”, noting that the reason behind banning them is their role in “facing the settlers’ desecration of the mosque” in recent months.
For more than two months, Israeli police have banned women from entering the mosque from time to time. “They [Palestinian women] formed the front defence line against the Israeli violations and aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Zoabi said.
The Knesset member said she had sent a written letter to the Israeli Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich informing him of the “violations” committed by the Israeli police and Israeli border guards against women around and inside the holy site.
She noted in her letter that the violations and aggression on Palestinian women and banning them from entering into the mosque “undermines and ignores” their freedom. She also stressed that the lack of punishment against aggressors is a “green light” for more violations.
For about two months, the Israeli settlers, including extremist officials such as Knesset Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin have stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on almost a daily basis.
Palestinians remain inside the mosque trying to prevent such aggressions, but the Israeli police and occupation forces took measures to secure the settlers including preventing women and men under the age of 50 from entering Al-Aqsa’s grounds.
Yesterday, 20 Palestinians, including women, were wounded in clashes in the mosque and seven others were arrested, including minors.
It costs four dollars to visit the archaeological site of Susiya in the southernmost part of the West Bank. For your four dollars you can view an ancient Jewish city, supposedly once home to 3,000 people which peaked in the years 400 to 800 CE, the late Talmudic, mid-Byzantine, and early Arab eras. The Jewish inhabitants are estimated to have disappeared some 1,200 years ago, according to the Center for Educational Tourism in Israel.
Father and son, Muhammad and Nasser Nawaj’ah, paid their four dollars, not to marvel at the century’s old synagogue or the ancient water system but to reminisce- Mohammed was born in one of the cave dwellings as was his son. The area is now devoid of any signs of the Palestinian village that existed until the late 1980’s but it is still infused with memories of both their childhoods, of the community’s traditional way of life and of a far more stable time.
In 1986 the Palestinian residents were forcibly evicted to make way for the archaeological park. Today they live close by and continue to face the threat of eviction. In a 2011 short film Nasser and Muhammad are shown returning to their previous homes 25 years after they were displaced. Their first journey back is short-lived with the Israeli soldiers seeming keen to escort the pair out of the site. Nasser interjects: “Excuse me soldier, we bought a ticket so we could see our home.” In contrast, shortly before the army arrived, the father and son had watched an Israeli explanatory video stating: “Only traces remain (of the Jewish civilization) in these silent ruins, but they are engraved in stone.” The ruins have been used to invoke a present day Jewish connection with the land, and in the process, there is an attempt to erase any Palestinian connection to it.
Yonathan Mizrachi from Emek Shaveh, an Israeli NGO that seeks to unpick the role archaeology plays in the Israel/Palestine conflict says it is about reinforcing identity. “Archaeology is being used to emphasise a specific narrative, one side of the conflict. The question “who was here before?” is central to this conflict. This says: “my roots are older than yours.'”
According to the NGO, in the Eighth and Ninth centuries, a mosque was built on the remains of the ancient synagogue found in Susiya. The presence of the mosque on top of the synagogue raises interesting questions, none of which are addressed and could greatly enhance understanding of Susya’s place in the cultural and social space of the South Hebron Hills.
There are many similar examples of archaeology being recruited to assert ownership, such as in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. Silwan is the site of the “City of David,” an archaeological attraction tempting scores of tourists and pilgrims every year. Visitors travel from across the globe to marvel at the artefacts and caves, admiring the picturesque views.
According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, 65% of Palestinian owned homes in Silwan have demolition orders ,with lack of building permits predominantly cited as the justification, yet only 20 such permits have been issued since 1967 and permission to build an extra floor has to travel though a total of 11 Israeli ministries. Currently a plan is underway to create “green zones” in the area which will displace 1,200 residents.
“It (the archaeological site) gives settlers the legitimisation to live there,”.Mizarchi noted. He added: “The City of David succeeded in creating a new identity of Silwan.”
Herodion, Herod the Greats monumental palace built around 23-20 BC and perched on the highest hill in the area, is another example. From the top of the site, the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the West Bank, which lies just 5km away, is clearly visible. On approach you must drive past a military base and pay an entrance fee to an Israeli man whose desk sits in a shop selling “I love Israel” and “Visit Israel” t-shirts.
Memo visited the site and asked some of the tourists, who shuttled off buses run by Israeli tour companies, where they believed they were. Most were unsure. One woman from the US remarked, “Judging from the Israeli soldiers and the Hebrew, I would say Israel.” While her husband walked away muttering Israel defiantly, the woman returned and said in a whisper, “I suppose we are where the person with the biggest weapons wants to tell us we are. That’s not right, but I think that’s how it is.”
We are increasingly seeing archaeology recruited by the Israeli government and settlers to demonstrate connection and roots of the Jewish people to Palestinian land, asserting ownership, and attempting to simultaneously wipe away traces of Palestinian ownership. This is not the way it is meant to be assures Yonathan. He notes: “Think about Jerusalem; there are many cultures, civilisations, religions, all part of the history of Jerusalem. It should open your mind; it is a story of difference. It is not the story of one people.”
|This photo was taken in a supermarket in Gilo – an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem – by an activist who documented the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the settlements of Gilo (pop. 28,980), Pisgat Ze’ev (pop. 39,748) and Ma’ale Adumim (pop. 35,673), and in the industrial park of Mishor Edomim, which services Ma’ale Adumim.|
Ben & Jerry’s Caters to Illegal Israeli Settlements
In August, 2011, an Israeli Jewish activist working with us contacted Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel, by e-mail and telephone, and confirmed that the company delivers ice cream to Israeli settlements in the occupied territory. Here is an e-mail communication, translated into English, between an employee at the factory and the Israeli activist, discussing arrangements for an ice cream cart to travel to the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim:
B&J Employee: Thanks for writing. Our ice cream cart comes with 5 flavors to choose from, glasses, wafers, ice cream toppings, 2 stewards and all accessories. The cost for 250 people (free distribution); 3,500 [NIS (Israeli Shekels), or $919 US] including VAT. Attached is a list of flavors. I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Activist: Is there an extra cost that relates to the distance of your factory to the location of the party? i.e., is there an extra cost because the event is held in Ma’ale Adumin? I’m sorry about the need for detail but it’s necessary for our accounting department.
B&J Employee: Yes, the cost of transportation is 250 [NIS (Israeli Shekels), $65 US]. This is because we come from Be’er Tuvia (near Kiryat Malachi) to Ma’ale Adumim.
Israeli Settlements are Illegal Under International Law
Israel’s settlements in the Palestinian Territory violate Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which declares that “the Occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The commentary to the Convention states that this provision was intended “to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territory. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.”
Transfer of settlers to occupied territory by an occupying power is also an international war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the UN Security Council and General Assembly, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and most legal scholars have concluded that Israel’s settlements in the oPt contravene international law. The International Court of Justice declared in a 2004 decision that “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”
Ben & Jerry’s business in illegal Israeli settlements also violates its obligations under the U.N.’s “Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises,” which asserts that corporations “shall not engage in nor benefit from war crimes, [or] crimes against humanity…” nor take actions that obstruct or impede economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
[Citations for the references above are in Our Report on Ben & Jerry’s business practices in the occupied Palestinian Territory.]
|The Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal distributes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at stores both in Israel and in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory.
The map at left, with dots denoting the locations of their stores, was displayed in their store in Mishor Adumim (an industrial zone that services one of Israel’s largest settlements, Ma’ale Adumim). Notice that it depicts Israel and occupied Palestine as one state. Palestinians under occupation are not allowed to enter most Israeli settlements, so the supermarkets in those places only sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to Jewish settlers.
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel Calls on Ben & Jerry’s to:
Until Israel ends its occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands in compliance with international law:
- End the marketing, catering and sales of Ben & Jerry’s products in Israel and Jewish-only settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
- Stop manufacturing ice cream in Israel.
- Issue a statement (a) calling on Israel to end its occupation and settlement enterprise and (b) appealing directly to other socially responsible companies to do likewise and to cease business operations in Israel and its illegal settlements.
Click here to send a message to
Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont.
Tell Ben & Jerry’s that its complicity in Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlements is wrong and must stop!
Boycott Divestment & Sanctions:
In Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel’s opposition to Ben & Jerry’s business practices in Israel and occupied Palestine is motivated by the grave human rights abuses being committed by the State of Israel. We are are also aware that in 2005 Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with three rights codified in international law.
- End Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle its separation wall;
- Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations Resolution 194.
|Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim, said in an interview:
“My mantra that I’ve repeated a hundred times since starting at Ben & Jerry’s is: ‘Change is a wonderful thing,’…. The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business. Historically, this company has been and must continue to be a pioneer to continually challenge how business can be a force for good and address inequities inherent in global business.”
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel agrees: The world – including Israel-Palestine
ANKARA – Kurds are not going to fight alongside Turkey against Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria, Syrian Kurds leader Salih Muslim said in an interview with the Hurriyet newspaper Monday.
“Do you want us to fight against them in Damascus and be a soldier there instead of you? We will not do that. We have stopped being soldiers for others, which Kurds have done throughout history,” he said as quoted by Hurriyet.
Salih Muslim also commented on the situation in the Syrian border town of Kobani, which has been under attack by Islamic State (IS) militants for weeks now. Kurds living in the city have repeatedly asked Turkey for help, however Ankara has refused to intervene in the conflict.
“They [Turkish authorities] do not need to give anything else but anti-tank weapons if they really want to help our people in the region,” he stated.
The Kurdish leader added that he will see a single-sided establishment of buffer zones in northern Syria proposed by Turkey as an occupation. However, he stated that if the zone is established in accordance with international agreements, then he would not raise any objections.
For the past several weeks, the IS militants have besieged Kobani, one of the largest towns in the Kurdish region of Syria bordering Turkey. More than 400 people have died in clashes between the IS and Kurdish fighters in Kobani, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Some 200,000 refugees have crossed into Turkey to flee the IS threat.
The Islamic State is a Sunni jihadist group that has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, it launched an offensive in Iraq, seizing vast areas in both countries and announcing the establishment of an Islamic caliphate on the territories under its control.
There is good news and bad news of late for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. On the one hand, companies such as Veolia, willing partners in the occupation, are losing out on mega-contracts. Despite plans to withdraw from Israel, the French company just lost a $750 million contract to provide waste management services to Kuwait City. Pleasing for BDS was the explicit reference to Veolia’s association with Israel and a head nod to their campaigning efforts. It comes on top of nearly $24 billion in lost contracts, seemingly over support for Israel.
Likewise G4S are suffering setbacks. Earlier this year, Bill Gates announced a massive divestment, while a report over the summer (by the Financial Times) suggested they would soon end their activities in Israel. Campaigners are rightly cautious – the company have gone back on their word in the past.
Companies like G4S and Veolia are the traditional bogeymen of leftist, progressive, anti-war or anti-globalisation movements. They are big targets, household names, transnational corporations that everyone can relate to – and when I say everyone, I mean the general public, not activists.
I can go down to my local train station and see a G4S security van parked outside. I see a Veolia truck pass my house once a week to collect my rubbish. Companies like Hewlett Packard advertise on television.
With such high profile and controversial brands, in some ways – isn’t this the easier end of the campaign?
After all – how many households would sign a petition against Serco? Quite a few, most people have heard of them.
But what then? There are thousands of British companies trading with Israel. Their names, headquarters and management are constantly changing – the past 12 months alone saw 37 acquisitions, mergers and IPOs of those companies. There are hundreds of thousands more trading from other countries. A tiny proportion are household names.
Raising awareness of each of these companies requires disproportionate effort by a small number of time poor activists.
The BDS movement has put itself into a massive fight. And though there are some successes, figures released this week show that UK-Israel trade actually grew by 28 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2014, now amounting to £2.5 billion. There may be successes here and there, but the machine of modern commerce is an extremely hard one to slow.
And despite the popular narrative of “well, it worked in South Africa”, the uncomfortable truth is that many economists and historians disagree.
“Perversely, South African businesses reaped at least $5 billion to $10 billion in windfalls as Western firms disinvested at fire sale prices between 1984 and 1989,” noted Thomas W. Hazlett, now at George Mason University. The political effect of the sanctions movement saw the white power elite retrench. Apartheid policies worsened – the police and military cracked down even harder.
In truth, the collapse of Soviet Communism, populist black movements in South Africa, white supremacists working with blacks rather than oppressing them, just to keep their families fed – led to the fall of apartheid. It’s nice to think the West played the lead role, but in truth, South Africa did a lot of it itself. Its role is, somewhat patronisingly, rarely acknowledged.
As the BDS movement has grown stronger – the domestic politics of Israel is tipping to the hard right. Attacks on Gaza are becoming more frequent. Knesset hard-liners have advocated genocide against Palestinian mothers, or published detailed plans on their Facebook pages about how the entire population of Gaza should be deported. Attacks on journalists, artists and pro-war activists by far right extremists are on the increase. The Israeli media propagates an us-and-them attitude to not only the Arab world, but also their detractors in the West. Are we already seeing what really happened in South Africa play out? Are the worst parts of Israeli society becoming stronger?
The campaign has some positives with regards solidarity, it contributes to educating the public – but ultimately, we don’t know whether it will make things worse and, as a pro-sanctions or boycott movement, it doesn’t yet have a successful precedent or contemporary model for success – just look at North Korea, Iran, Russia or indeed the porous Arab boycott against Israel.
But aside from the uncertain and potentially dangerous side-effects of BDS, we are ignoring the bigger problem. The crux of bringing the Israeli hawks to heel isn’t so much about corporate investments – it’s about political money, dripping from the campaign coffers of Western politicians bribed and briefed by Jerusalem cronies.
The funding is mysterious, ambiguous and seemingly unimpeachable, protected by anti-Semitism laws which forbid honest discussion of it, or by hasbara attack dogs who discredit any journalist or academic who speaks out.
But imagine the tabloid outcry if hundreds of millions in “Muslim” donations began pouring in to Western politics, Muslims with strong interests in the domestic or foreign policies of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Iran.
You don’t have to imagine – last month Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (and Norway) were caught funding influential foreign policy think tanks in Washington. And there was an outcry.
But many feel uncomfortable taking on the Israeli lobby – because it’s scary. It comes with great risk – people have lost their jobs, careers and reputations. Nobody likes to be labelled an anti-Semite, which is their preferred mode of attack.
Assuming for a moment that South African white supremacists had actually wanted to continue with apartheid, if they had had the financial resources and strategic nous to invest millions into Washington and Westminster, a boycott campaign would have stood almost no chance of success.
Campaigning against corporate involvement in morally dubious interests should not be stopped. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if Western corporations, pension funds, or governments invested in arms deals with dodgy regimes, or became complicit in mass human rights abuses, and nobody knew about it.
But we should recognise the limits of the BDS movement – both by recognising that the “low-hanging fruit” of corporate targets – international corporations who are already disliked by the public, may only be the warm-up, by better understanding what really happened in South Africa, and by asking – are we really attacking the root of the problem?
BDS, in some ways, detracts from directly dealing with the real problem: the foreign policy of the West has been seriously corrupted by Israeli influence, almost wherever you look.
Dismantling “the Israel lobby” is a tougher fight, but it’s a far more important one.
If we are over-awed by the challenge, or if indeed the BDS movement was itself a function of an inability to crack the lobby directly, there may still be cause for optimism. Removing big money from politics, in general, is an extremely populist movement.
There are very few Westerners who want the status quo to continue, for big corporations and foreign interests to hold such sway on our democracies – on any issue. You don’t have to be pro-Palestinian to recognise this.
A broader coalition of groups, from charities, to environmental campaigners, to trade unions, to newer organisations like Change.org and 38 Degrees could be the key. The influence of the Israel lobby isn’t a unique problem. Perhaps by looking to other marginalised groups who face similar challenges, the pro-Palestinian campaign can find yet more life.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Today in al-Khalil (Hebron), as part of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, thousands of settlers and Zionist tourists descended upon the city. The Israeli military presence in Hebron, which is already a large and oppressive part of everyday life, greatly increased.
Hebron is the only city in the West Bank where there is an illegal settlement in the heart of the city. It is split into H1 and H2, H1 under Palestinian Authority Control, and H2 under Israeli military control.
This morning, in both the Salaymeh and Qeitun neighbourhoods, the checkpoints designating the end of H1 were extended further into Palestinian territory.
Israeli soldiers drove between Salaymeh and Qeitun, entering houses, hiding in alleyways, and aiming their guns at passing schoolchildren and other people in the area.
In the afternoon, the army presence was just as heavy, with children walking home past heavily armed soldiers.
In H1, Bab al-Zawiye (the centre of Hebron), Israeli forces partially closed the road to allow settlers and Zionist tourists through the checkpoint to visit a religious holy site.
They were escorted by approximately 45 Israeli border police and soldiers. Several Palestinian shops were forced to close for several hours, to allow the setters and tourists to pass.
The Ibrahimi mosque and nearby checkpoint was also closed today, with all Palestinian shops in the area forced to close with it.
HEBRON – Israeli soldiers raided a private Palestinian home in Hebron on Sunday morning and turned the third floor of the house into a military post, the owner said.
Salim al-Salayma told Ma’an that Israeli troops broke into his house in the al-Baqaa neighborhood in eastern Hebron and locked him and his 17 family members on the first floor.
While the family was locked on the first floor, al-Salayma said, Israeli soldiers brought military equipment to the third floor, turning it to a military post.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Israeli forces regularly occupy the homes of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank located in what they deem sensitive areas to conduct surveillance and enforce control.