An Irish parliamentary committee on trade relations has come out in unanimous support of a ban on imports from illegal Israeli settlements, The Irish Times reported Wednesday.
The committee is about to write to the deputy head of government and the Foreign Affairs Minister Eamonn Gilmore to call for the implementation of the national ban.
A ban on Irish imports from illegal Israeli settlements is a significant step toward answering Palestinian civil society’s call for a global boycott of Israeli occupation. The call, issued in 2005, calls on individuals and groups to boycott products, companies and institutions that support the violation of Palestinian rights in Palestine.
The boycott movement also seeks to push groups to divest from corporations complicit in the repression of Palestinians, and to encourage states to place economic sanctions on Israel for discriminatory policy-making.
Israel has long history of subjugating indigenous Palestinians, starting with the creation of the state in 1948, when the few thousand Palestinians who were not expelled from their homeland were placed under nearly 20 years of military rule. Palestinians in territories occupied by Israel after 1967 remain under stifling and often lethal martial law.
A rapidly growing list of groups have heeded the call to boycott, including some major European labor unions and world-renowned artists. Several student unions in North America in recent months have voted in favor of having their universities divest from companies operating in Palestinian occupied territories. One French multinational, Veolia, is currently in financial dire straits after having lost large European contracts over illegal operations in the territories.
One Irish lawmaker, Senator Jim Walsh, suggested that Ireland completely implement the call to boycott. “In the background, we shouldn’t rule out banning all Israeli products,” said Walsh.
Another politician, Eric Byrne, urged the government to champion an EU-wide ban during Ireland’s presidency in the union next year.
“This new Irish parliamentary move should become a model to be emulated by all European lawmakers who claim to care about human rights and international law,” said founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Omar Barghouti.
Palestine’s boycott movement takes its cue from the South African campaign to boycott, divestment, and sanction the apartheid regime, which collapsed under the strain of economic and diplomatic pressures in 1994.
- Israel ‘Pillaging’ Palestinian Resources (ipsnews.net)
- EU states urged to label all West Bank produce separately (irishtimes.com)
- United Church of Canada defends decision to boycott Israeli products (presstv.com)
Fighting the enemy at times means fighting your erstwhile comrades-in-arms
The phenomenal success the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has had since it began in 2005 has attracted attention from all corners of the political spectrum — for better or for worse. Israel is scared. Israeli thinktanks have described BDS as a greater threat to Israel than armed Palestinian resistance. At the same time, at the forefront of the movement against what is now widely called Israeli apartheid are Jews — Israeli and diaspora. This is not surprising, as Jews have traditionally been active in “political mobilisation and opinion formation”, according to Benjamin Ginsberg.
So it should not be surprising if the BDS movement itself experiences turmoil. For several years now, the UK Palestinian Soldarity Committee (PSC) has conducted a policy of calling leading activists such as Paul Eisen, Gilad Atzmon and Israel Shamir — all Jewish — anti-Semitic for daring to point out that those who persecute Arab Muslims and Christians are not just Zionists but are invariably Jewish. That the Jews who have opted to take Israeli citizenship are increasingly racist, belligerent settlers who use their new identity to dispossess, terrorise and murder Palestinians, with the intent of forcing them to leave even the remaining 12 per cent of the land once called Palestine.
These Jews have given Judaism a bad name, causing some “good Jews” to critique their own religious heritage and even disown it, such as American highschooler and winner of the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr Writing Award Jesse Lieberfeld, who came to realise, “I was grouped with the racial supremacists… I was part of a delusion.” For these Jews, Judaism today had been perverted by Zionism. Paying tribute to Jesse, ex-Israeli Gilad Atzmon said, “Journeying from choseness is a life-struggle. From time to time you may feel lonely but you are never alone. Humanity and humanism are there at your side — for all time.”
Atzmon, born and bred in Israel, with holocaust victims in his family, is the latest victim of the UK PSC, which earlier ostracised Eisen for his Der Yassin Remembered group honouring martyred Palestinian Muslims and Christians of the 1948 Nakba, when thousands of Palestinians were killed and hundreds of thousands made permanent refugees.
After being ostracised, Eisen and Shamir dismissed the “gatekeepers” in the movement, and carried on with their analysis and organising from the sidelines, sidelines which are growing just as fast as, if not faster than the mainstream and are now firmly centred on popularising a one-state solution to solve the Palestine-Israel problem.
Atzmon continued to lock horns with the UK PSC establishment, hoping to change it, though it is dominated by the likes of Tony Greenstein with his J-Big (Jews boycotting Israeli goods). No doubt Atzmon’s Sabra heritage steeled him for battle with those supporters of the Palestinians who see the movement as more a way to fight anti-Jewish sentiment (caused by Zionism) than to actually achieve victory for the Palestinians. He decided to write an analysis of his Jewish heritage and how it was transformed over the past century entitled The Wandering Who? (see Al-Ahram Weekly “Jezebel’s Legacy”). His book became a bestseller and he has been touring America and Europe regularly, speaking out bravely and making his gilad.co.uk a must read for all who care about both Palestine and “the plight of the Jews”.
Jewish intellectuals such as Ilan Pappe are following Atzmon’s footsteps and leaving Israel, disgusted with the cynicism and duplicity of the entire Israeli establishment. Atzmon has attracted many admirers — too many, it seems — from among the more mainstream critics of Israel. Richard Falk and John Mearsheimer — both Jewish — endorsed Atzmon’s book, Mearsheimer recommending that the book “should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike”.
On 13 March, near the end of Atzmon’s latest tour of the US speaking to pro-Palestinian groups, Electronic Intifada editor Ali Abunimah published a letter at the US Palestinian Community Network (PCN) signed by 23 Palestinian activists, including Columbia University professor Joseph Massad and Omar Barghouti, a founder of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Committee for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (currently doing an MA in philosophy at Tel Aviv University). The letter called for “the disavowal of the racism and anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon”. Abunimah effectively excommunicated Atzmon from participating in pro-Palestinian activities of the US PCN, as he was by the UK PSC. Atzmon wound up his tour the next day with an interview with (Jewish) history professor Norton Mezvinsky of Connecticut State University, at Washington’s Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, where he rebutted the charges against him.
But just as Muslims are loudly called on to disown Islamic terrorists such as Al-Qaeda, so must Jews disown their own Judaic terrorists, reasons Atzmon, who has been leading the way in this politically-incorrect battle. Now that the dust has settled, and support for Atzmon has poured in, the letter in retrospect looks like an exercise in hasbara gone wrong. Conspicuous in their absence among signatories are leading Israel critics Noam Chomsky, Norman Finklestein, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, The Progressive’s Matt Rothschild, Tikkun’s Michael Lerner, and US Congress hopeful Norman Solomon.
It is possible to critique Atzmon for downplaying the imperialism behind Israel’s founding and support, which Abunimah does: “Our struggle is with Zionism, a modern European settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new European societies on their lands.” However, there is nothing wrong with critiquing the problem from a cultural point of view, and the guilty culture just happens to be Jewish. Sadly, there is more than one way to skin the Palestinian cat.
Shamir took the debate a logical step further by posing the question, “To disavow or debate Abunimah”. He was attacked by Abunimah a decade ago, when he “hunted me out of the pro-Palestinian movement, saying that without Shamir, they will win sooner.” After a decade of unrelenting Israeli crimes, Shamir advised Massad, Barghouti and other Arab signatories, “Our Arab brothers will do well if they will stand out of this debate: let the Jews fight out the battle for their identity. As it happens, Gilad is their strongest champion on the Jewish side, they should cheer, not discourage him.”
Perhaps what prompted the letter was fear that BDS was just not mainstream enough. This was the implication behind a dismissal of BDS by Finkelstein, who just a few weeks before the Abunimah screed, called BDS a “cult” and admonished Palestinians to limit their struggle to the “two-state solution”. While himself exposing the “cult” of the holocaust, calling it an “industry” used to promote Israel’s aggressive colonial agenda, Finkelstein disappointed many admirers by suggesting that BDSers are conspirators intent on wiping poor Israel off the tattered old colonial map. “What is the result? There’s no Israel!”
But ironically, Atzmon and Finkelstein are on the same side this time. They are both pro-Palestinian activists and believers in free speech and open debate, not afraid to point the finger at machinations of their co-religionists. Before writing his ill-fated missive, Abunimah, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israel-Palestine Conflict, would have done well to ponder Atzmon’s defence of Finkelstein’s criticism of BDSers for their cultishness. “Finkelstein’s criticism of the solidarity movement is largely valid. The recent expulsion of Palestinians and academics from the UK PSC proves that we aren’t just dealing with a ‘cult’ discourse as Finkelstein suggests, far worse, we are actually dealing with a rabbinical operation that exercises the most repulsive Judaic excommunication tactics.”
“Finkelstein is correct when he suggests that the achievements of the solidarity ‘cult’ operations are pretty limited,” continues Atzmon. He looks beyond the gatewatched BDSers and the larger-than-life critics such as Chomsky, Finkelstein and himself — two-state or one — and predicts “that the solidarity movement is already a mass movement … that the Palestinians and the Arabs will liberate themselves.”
The Lobby is no doubt patting itself on the back, having through obvious pressure on prominent activists helped to weaken its foes for the nth time. This tactic is part of the age-old strategy by those in power of “divide and conquer”. Just as Britian and then the US and Israel have worked to divide up the Muslim world to weaken and control it — even mobilising “Islamic terrorists” (not to mention “Judaic terrorists”) in their schemes — so the domestic representatives of imperialism do the same on the homefront, manipulating soft anti-Zionists.
The tactic was used in the Cold War, using liberals and ex-Communists to isolate Communists from movements critical of imperialism. Now as then, it is necessary not to boycott each other, but to work together without responding to provocation. It is to be expected that the bad guys are going to infiltrate progressive movements and try to split them.
When Saudi Prince Faisal grilled Hamas Chief Khaled Meshaal about his alliance with Iran, the Hamas chief explained: “Yes, we have relations with Iran and will do so with whoever supports us. We are a resistance movement, open to the Arabs, to the Muslims and to all countries in the world, and we are not part of any agenda for regional forces.” BDSers may have their differences, but the goal is the liberation of Palestine. Let a hundred flowers blossom.
- Engaging Gilad Atzmon (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Who Is Gilad Atzmon… and, Who Are We? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The unfortunate division over Gilad Atzmon – Alison Weir – thanks to BB (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
- Cynthia McKinney Interviews Gilad Atzmon about Israel, Zionism, and Jewish Identity Politics (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Leading Global March to Jerusalem organizers embrace Gilad Atzmon (gm2j.co)
A Paris university has withdrawn permission for a Palestine solidarity conference at the behest of the Zionist lobby.
In a statement issued today, the authorities at the University of Paris 8 said that the title of the conference – “Israel: an apartheid state?” – was “of a strongly polemical character.” Because there had been strong reactions to its theme, the university predicted there could be a “serious risk posed to public order” if the event scheduled for 27 and 28 February went ahead.
The complaint against the conference was made by the representative council for Jewish organizations in France, or CRIF as it’s better known. It had objected to the participation of Omar Barghouti, coordinator of the Palestinian campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Boycott Israel “shock”
Barghouti’s presence in Paris would be “shocking”, according to CRIF, because the ideas that he espouses have “been found on several occasions to constitute an offence of incitement to discrimination.”
CRIF’s claim is misleading. While a number of BDS activists have been accused (ridiculously) of flouting French laws on racism, there have also been important rulings that uphold the right to urge a boycott of Israel. In December last, a court in the eastern city of Mulhouse acquitted 12 campaigners who had urged customers of the supermarket Carrefour not to buy Israeli goods.
I was also one of the invited speakers for the conference, which was part of , a series of debates and actions on university campuses throughout the world. The group behind the event, Collectif Palestine Paris 8, wasn’t consulted ahead of the university’s decision to ban it.
This isn’t the first time that CRIF has attempted to muzzle criticism of Israel on French campuses. Last year it strong-armed the authorities at the École normale supérieure (ENS), another Paris college, into forbidding a Palestine solidarity discussion. The big cheese at the ENS succumbed to the pressure but were rebuked for doing so by the French Council of State, which answers government queries on legal issues. By refusing to allocate a room to debate Israeli apartheid, the ENS didn’t respect the freedom of assembly and expression of its students, the Council found.
The “miracle” of Israel
Earlier this month, CRIF underscored its political clout, when Nicolas Sarkozy addressed its annual dinner. The president used the platform to call Israel a “miracle,” marvelling at how “from the debris [of the Holocaust], a democracy has been born.”
On his best behavior now that he is seeking re-election, Sarkozy saluted the “courage” of Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who he has called a “liar” in private conversations with Barack Obama (that were overhead by journalists).
Anyone who has been following events in that “miracle” called Israel will know that Netanyahu and his foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman are waging a war of attrition against civil liberties. Aspects of that war have been exported to France, where calling out Israel as an apartheid state is considered a threat to public order or, worse, a crime.
- [Dublin, Israeli Apartheid Week 2012] Boycott Israeli Goods demo (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- [Cork, Israeli Apartheid Week 2012] Boycott Israeli Goods Demonstration (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Officials suspect French megabank BNP Parisbas pulled out of Israel due to boycott pressure (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Yesterday I wrote to University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, asking her to condemn a vile and inflammatory attack by Professor Ruben Gur on the University’s own students.
The unchecked inflammatory rhetoric by opponents of the conference, especially Professor Gur, is making students and conference participants feel unsafe.
Most disturbingly, Gur singled out Jewish students and speakers, calling them “capos” at Nazi extermination camps. “Capo” or “kapo” is the term for a concentration or death camp inmate who collaborated with the Nazis.
It would seem that Gutmann has no problem with such anti-Semitic attacks as long as the Jews being singled out in this despicable manner are deemed to be supporters of equal rights for Palestinians.
And Gutmann has failed to speak out even as pro-Israel groups are bringing a violence and torture advocate to campus to counter the BDS conference.
Failing to stand up to violent rhetoric
While I’ve had no response to my letter – 24 hours after sending it and confirming it was received by telephone – Gutmann wrote a public letter in the campus newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian reiterating her opposition to BDS and adding this weak sauce:
Since its founding more than 270 years ago, Penn has stood for the free exchange of ideas. That concept is central to our mission, and is one that cannot be compromised if we are to uphold our standing as a great university.
Amid the passion that many feel around this weekend’s events, we urge you to focus on the one thing we cannot afford to lose: the great tradition and enduring gift of Penn’s founders – the chance to speak our minds freely.
These banalaties are an inadequate response to one of Penn’s faculty members denouncing Jewish students as “capos” and Nazis just because he disagrees with them.
Members of PennBDS, the campus group organizing the conference, responded to Gur’s hate speech in a letter of their own:
We read with some shock the opinion piece you published yesterday by Penn Professor Ruben Gur. With no evidence whatsoever, and in direct contradiction to everything we’ve ever said or written, Gur designates our student group “genocidal” and equates our upcoming conference with Nazi anti-Semitism. He labels our Jewish participants and organizers “Capos” and (in the same breath that he scolds us for describing Alan Dershowitz as an “Israel apologist”) compares Palestinian human-rights activist Omar Barghouti with Adolf Hitler.
Gutmann too should condemn Gur’s inciteful hate speech in clear terms. Instead, on that point, she has so far chosen silence.
Perhaps people should email or call President Gutmann (215-898-7221) to make sure she gets the message that she needs to stand up for her students against vile and discriminatory rhetoric from professors, and ensure the campus is safe for them to exercise their rights.
And yet President Gutmann and the University of Pennsylvania administration seem to take a surprisingly lax view.
A question that should perhaps be investigated is whether Gutmann’s failure to protect students – especially Jewish students – against the kind of intimidation and hate speech by Professor Gur amounts to a violation of their civil rights under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Singling out Jews
Professor Gur is not the only one attacking the BDS conference and singling out Jews for special opprobrium. In The Jewish Exponent, Bryan Schwartzman writes:
More than a third of the listed speakers are Jewish, including Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.
This ominous sentence – where Schwartzman ‘counts the Jews’ – echoes Gur’s singling out of Jews as “capos.”
Bringing a violence advocate to campus
Not only is the University of Pennsylvania failing to stand up for its students rights, but increasing the heated atmosphere by bringing a notorious advocate of violence and torture onto campus to speak against the BDS conference. His name is Alan Dershowitz.
To counter the Penn BDS event, local pro-Israel groups including Hillel and the Philadelphia Jewish Federation have summoned the famed trial lawyer and Harvard University professor of law Alan Dershowitz to campus to keynote a Feb. 2 event: “Why Israel Matters to You, Me, and Penn: A conversation with Alan Dershowitz.” Penn’s Political Science department – which has pointedly refused to co-sponsor the BDS conference – will co-host Dershowitz’s lecture, where the professor has vowed to explain why he considers BDS to be one of the most “immoral, illegal and despicable concepts around academia today.”
The support Dershowitz received from the university and from pro-Israel groups that claim to abhor violence is ironic in light of Dershowitz’s record. Indeed, Dershowitz is an open advocate of torture who has urged Israel to destroy entire Palestinian villages, attack civilians and bulldoze their homes.
It’s really past time for the University of Pennyslvania to show some responsibility, stop pandering to the political agendas of outside groups, and stand up for the safety and rights of its own students.
David Horowitz Spreading his hate on campus:
- Gilad Atzmon : The Zionist Caricature (middleeastatemporal.wordpress.com)
The participation of Arab officials and institutions at a major Israeli security conference has drawn staunch criticism from Palestinian and human rights activists.
The annual Herzliya conference, which includes high-profile guest speakers focusing on Israel’s major security challenges, invited a number of key Arab speakers, including Jordan’s Prince el Hassan bin Talal and senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.
Omar Barghouti of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel slammed Arab involvement at the conference as “an act of complicity in the promotion of Israeli occupation and apartheid.”
The conference, which is being held for the 12th year, aims at enhancing Israel’s national security through developing the country’s military and intelligence fields.
“The participation of any Arab speaker…[is] a move that undermines our struggle for freedom and our right to return and self-determination,” Barghouti said.
The conference is being held under the name of “In the Eye of the Storm: Israel and the Middle East” and will be attended by Israeli and international speakers as well as several Arab political, business and academic figures.
Some of the most prominent participants also include Salman Shaikh, Director of the Brookings Doha Center, and Riad al-Khouri, a member of the International Council of Quest-scope in Amman as well as others.
“The Palestinian civil society calls on all Arab participants to immediately withdraw from the Herzliya conference and respect the demands of the majority of the Palestinians who fully support the BDS campaign,” Barghouti added.
Herzliya’s website listed Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) chief negotiator, as a speaker at the conference, but an official source told al-Akhbar that he was never invited to the conference and therefore will not be attending it.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official was the only member of the PLO to be invited to the Israeli conference, but declined the invitation.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Embassy in Lebanon – who also wished to remain anonymous – declined to confirm who of the PLO was invited and would attend.
However, sources in Ramallah told Barghouti that Erekat had been invited to the conference, but withdrew following pressure from the Palestinian civil society.
“If true, this would crucially deny other Arab participants their Palestinian excuse,” Barghouti said.
“We hope that all Arab – and international – participants will withdraw from this shameful conference. Raising awareness about this form of Arab complicity is a key goal of our campaign.”
BDS campaigners aim to increase Israel’s international isolation and raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians suffering under Israeli military occupation.
“Our campaign for a boycott of the Herzliya conference is based on this meeting’s singular importance in building Israel’s strategy, especially in the security and military fields, to enhance its oppressive system of settler-colonialism, occupation and apartheid,” he explained.
Barghouti said Israel is “keen to display” the Arab officials and figures at the conference since it “boosts its propaganda efforts and cover up its increasingly isolated regime.”
The BDS activist also condemned the participation of the Brookings Doha Center, whose director is participating in the event despite the institution working to cement itself in the Arab world.
An “academic endeavor should never justify complicity in covering up grave violations of human rights and international law,” Barghouti said.
“At a time when BDS is achieving spectacular successes and turning Israel into a world pariah, these Arab participants are knowingly colluding in Israeli propaganda efforts, siding with the wrong side of history.”
Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Doha Center failed to respond to an interview request before this story was published.
2. Dr. Saeb Erekat: Chief Palestinian Negotiator for “the Process of Settlement” with the Zionist entity since 1996 and senior member of the Palestinian-”Israeli” negotiations, which accomplished “the Oslo Accords” in 1993. On the 12th of February, 2011, he made his resignation to the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas after “the Process of Settlement” had reached a dead end. Seldom has Erekat missed membership in the negotiations of Palestinian delegations with the representatives of the “Israeli” Occupation. In the Conference he is addressing the recent developments of the Palestinian-”Israeli” relations entitled:
“THE RISE OF POLITICAL ISLAM ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST: ARAB SPRING OR ISLAMIST WINTER?”
“THE RISE OF POLITICAL ISLAM ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST: ARAB SPRING OR ISLMAIST WINTER?”
“POST ASSAD: WHAT NEXT FOR SYRIA AND LEBANON?”
“GOVERNING “ISRAEL’S” ECONOMY: SOCIAL JUSTICE VS CAPITALISM”
8. Nahed Khazem: Mayor of the Shafa Amr (Shfaram) Municipality in the Western al-Jalil (Galilee) in the north of occupied Palestine; is well known for his cooperation and good terms with the Zionist-government ministers, particularly with the Culture Minister Gideon Saer. Khazem also participates in merging Arabs with “the “Israeli” community” in the Galilee Region. He is lecturing on:
- Palestinians for Dignity: Saeb Erekat, Go Home (alethonews.wordpress.com)