The Jewish state of Israel in the Levant (JSIL) and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are different in many ways. The most fundamental difference is that the former is a recognized state and a member of the United Nations, while the latter is not recognized as a legitimate polity and is considered a political/military terrorist organization. However, the two share core characteristics that define them and by recognising these similarities observers may be able to make predictions about their futures.
Divine right to exist
Both JSIL and ISIS display what might be termed “self-defined righteousness.” Although Israel is a modern state, its politics and treatment of others (Palestinians) are based on religious concepts and principles that can be traced back to the first century BC and the teachings of Rabbi Hillel, someone who would be considered a fundamentalist today. He instructed Jews to have a religious and social identity separate from those of other people (tribes). Israel introduces itself to the international community as a Jewish state and, based on this interpretation of Zionist Judaism, is a home to Jews wherever they are in the world. In other words, it is a state which includes all Jews but excludes the indigenous people of Palestine, the Palestinians. It uses its interpretation of Judaism to deny Palestinians equal rights and prevent them from accessing their lands.
ISIS believes that it is enacting God’s will and defines itself as the force to enforce the Islamic moral code, religious rituals and law (Sharia). ISIS’ interpretation of Islam goes back to Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) who promoted the idea that Muslims are different from non-Muslims both in their way of life as well as in religious instruction. This notion of non-acceptance together with cultural differences led Ibn Taymiyyah’s followers to the practice of excluding others and in some cases putting them to death. This particular interpretation of Islam also means the rejection of other branches of Islam.
The form of righteousness practiced by ISIS leaders and Israeli politicians is also used to set apart the “good” people from the “bad” ones. The good are those who believe and support their respective political projects while the bad ones are those who stand against them. It is this stance that makes it permissible for Israel to inflict damage on the bad ones and reward the good. As such, the Palestinian people are depicted in the official Israeli narrative as the bad people who work hard to inflict damage on the good Israeli Jews.
Historically, the state of Israel was established on the self-proclaimed premise of the Zionist movement, that anti-Semitism and murder might surge again in the world. Thus, the resurgence of another wave of anti-Semitism will inflict another Holocaust on the world’s Jews. The Zionist movement took anti-Semitism and the Holocaust out of their historical context. In other words, the concepts were given an absolute ahistoric “religious” meaning. Consequently, the “Jews” started to become reified as an ethnic identity and Israel as a refuge for the world’s Jewry from harm.
For ISIS, one of the underlying reason for Muslims’ degeneration over the centuries is that too many people have strayed far from the fundamental principles of Islam. The role of ISIS is to establish an Islamic state ruled by the caliph. It considers itself to be the force that will revive true Islam and create a state in which all Muslims can live in under its interpretation of Islam. Similarly to Israel, where non-Jews are discriminated against, there is no place for non-Muslims to live as equal citizens in the so-called Islamic State.
Both JSIL and ISIS use the self-serving interpretation of religious texts to enact pragmatic politick. The Zionist narrative that gave birth to the state of Israel and is now its official ideology starts with the idea that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that God promised them the holy land. These two concepts of chosenness are ahistorical, unconditional, and self-limited. Thus, settler colonial expansion in Palestine beyond the 1948 borders is seen as the redemption of the biblically named Judea and Samaria for the Jewish people. Putting Palestinian communities under closure during Jewish holidays is usually disguised as a religious instruction and therefore not seen for what it is: a measure of control.
ISIS also claims it is justified in its actions; it considers itself the group fighting for God and enforcing the latter’s instructions on earth. The group’s interpretation of religious texts is based on its spiritual-political leaders’ rulings that place people into two main categories – believers in ISIS’ ideology are viewed as being on the right path for following the “correct” version of Islam while everyone else, including followers of other branches of Islam, is on the wrong path. Thus the expulsion or execution of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis in Mosul who refuse to convert or pay Jizya (a tax paid by non-Muslims) is introduced as a religious instruction that permits politically motivated discrimination.
Indiscriminate attacks on perceived “enemies”
International humanitarian law forbids parties in armed conflict from deliberately launching attacks against civilians but both Israel and ISIS carry out indiscriminate attacks against their enemies, and they cite similar justifications for such attacks, mainly operational reasons.
JSIL, like ISIS, says that engaging in conflict in residential areas makes it difficult to avoid harm to civilians. Israel, which deems itself “superior” to others, says it launches military operations to prevent harm to its own people whose lives are worth much than those of “others.” ISIS believes it is on the right path and views everyone else as living in a state of sinfulness and, according to the group, sinners deserve to be put to death. Ultimately, ISIS and Israel attack civilians as part of their strategy to dispose of the natives and remove them from their lands. As such, in their quest for control of the land they both practice ethnic cleansing under a myriad of guises.In areas controlled by ISIS, in both Syria and Iraq, the group has carried out the mass executions of opposition militants captured by its forces and any person who assists its enemies is liable to be sentenced to death. Israel carries out a similar strategy of collective punishment against Palestinian resistance. It used it in its latest war on the Gaza Strip and during the so-called Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. Even when Israel states that its attacks are intended to kill only resistance fighters, its bombardment of residential areas always leads to the killing of civilians. These attacks are clearly designed to target and punish the combatants’ families and homes.
During Israel’s latest war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Israeli army intentionally converted 40 percent of the Gaza Strip into uninhabited land. The Israeli army displaced up to 500,000 Palestinians out of their neighborhoods. This is the same tactic ISIS has been using in vast swaths in Syria and Iraq. The latest incident is the ongoing fighting in Kobane, the Kurdish city under Syrian jurisdiction, where ISIS’ shelling of the city forced the majority of its citizens to be displaced.
Displacement, collective punishment, terrorism and ethnic cleansing in the name of God are but a few similarities between the two entities. It is worth considering how the state of Israel has embraced the legend of the Maccabees, a sect of Judaism which fought other Jews and foreign powers in the name of piousness and righteousness, and how it has incorporated it within the contemporary ethos. The Maccabees were fundamentalists who used violence against their enemies, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and carried out forced conversions much as ISIS does today.
Samer Jaber is a political activist and researcher. He is the managing director for Dar el-Karma Inc. for Media, Researches and Publication. He tweets at @Jerusalem_sbj
The French government has prosecuted a pro-Palestinian activist for disregarding the official ban on anti-Israel rallies during its recent offensive on the Gaza Strip, Press TV reports.
France has put the spokesperson of the New Anti-Capitalist Party on trial for his attempts to organize an “illegal demonstration” against the Israeli regime.
Meanwhile, several demonstrators held a rally on Wednesday to protest against the government’s prosecution of the pro-Palestinian campaigner.
“To incriminate the spokesman of a political party who is also a strong supporter of unions… is totally unjustified and unacceptable. We would like to know why the government singled him out,” said Patrick Picard, a member of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT).
France was heavily criticized by rights groups after it officially banned demonstrations against the Israeli regime’s deadly attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip in summer. Thousands of people defied the French government’s decision, saying it was a glaring breach of their constitutional basic right to demonstrate.
“This government made two decisions this summer: to support the extreme-right regime of Benjamin Netanyahu, which was in the process of massacring people in Gaza and then, … it tried to weaken the Palestinian solidarity movement here in France by claiming it was anti-Semitic and violent which we totally reject,” stated the national secretary of Left Front Party (PG), Eric Coquerel.
The French government has recently intensified the trend of prosecuting social activists who disagree with the unpopular policies of President Francois Hollande.
Fourth part of a documentary produced by Béatrice Pignède, with footage shot by Jonathan Moadab, Sylvia Page, Jean-Sébastien Farez and Saber Farzard. Music by Gilad Atzmon.
Click below for other segments of the documentary:
In New York City, the police are currently investigating hate crimes which occurred when the Israeli basketball team played in the city. At an arena where the team played, a Muslim woman was assaulted for wearing hijab and says she wants justice.
Outside of Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York City, friends and supporters of Nerden Mohsen Kiswani gathered to speak out about the recent incident, and say they want justice for what they call a “cowardly hate crime” perpetrated against her at Barclays Center earlier this month.
Kiswani was attacked by a group of Israeli men as she watched the basketball game. She was targeted because she was wearing hijab. After she was attacked, the police seemed under-interested, and let her attackers escape. Amin Hussein, a Palestinian-American lawyer, said that the atmosphere inside of Barclays Center, with Jewish fans gathering to support the Israeli team, was very frightening.
Kiswani’s attorney, Lamis Deek, pointed out that the ring-leader of the group that assaulted her was Leonard Petlakh, a well known Zionist activist and college professor. At the press conference, it was pointed out that after the incident Leonard Petlakh claimed Palestine protesters had assaulted him, and his allegations were widely circulated in the press. However, the New York City Hate Crimes Task Force determined after investigation that no hate crimes against Petlakh had taken place.
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.
Grave of Sheikh Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam
A cemetery in Haifa where the body of the martyr Sheikh Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam is buried has been sold to a private construction company, sparking fears of the outbreak of a third Intifada.
Al-Qassam is considered one of the most important icons of Palestinian resistance. He was immortalised when he became the first to lay the foundations for organised revolution against the British Mandate’s forces and Zionist settlers in the mid-1930’s.
Hamas named its military wing the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in recognition of the heroic role he played in defence of Palestine.
The construction company noted that, according to their contract with the Israeli government, the area must be examined and the graves must be moved to another area.
Mustafa Bara, the lawyer representing Palestinians who are strongly opposed to the Israeli government’s decision, warned against taking this measure, as it would elicit harsh reactions from the Palestinian masses. The Palestinians consider this measure to be a violation of religious sanctity and hurtful to the feelings of the Palestinians who consider Al-Qassam, of Syrian origin, to be one of their most prominent historical leaders.
Israel Radio quoted Bara as saying that the Zionist government hasn’t properly estimated the extent and magnitude of the potential reactions to this step, noting that selling the cemetery may lead to a dangerous decline in relations between the Jewish people and Palestinian Israelis. He also called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be more sensitive to the issue.
The Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam cemetery has previously been attacked and desecrated by Jewish extremist groups. His tombstone was destroyed and anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans were also written on it.
Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari at the UN: “In Golan terrorists get paid ransom by Qatar with the help of Israel”.
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.
Bil’in, Occupied Palestine – On October 21st, Human Rights Defender Abdallah Abu Rahma was found guilty by an Israeli military court of “disturbing a soldier”.
“Demonstrating against the occupation cannot be a criminal offence. Finding Abdallah guilty only shows that the [Israeli] military force is a tool to perpetuate the occupation.” Stated Gabi Lasky, lawyer of Abdallah Abu Rahma, to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
Abdallah spoke to the ISM about his recent conviction. “Yesterday the military court ruled that I was guilty, showing once again that they stand on the side of the occupation, and not that of truth and justice.
I was arrested on the 13th of May 2012 in front of Ofer Military prison at a demonstration commemorating the Nakba and in solidarity with the prisoners, many of whom were on hunger strike. I was imprisoned in Ofer for 16 months a year earlier, for my role in the non-violent demonstrations in my village, Bil’in, against the Apartheid wall and settlements built on our land.
This time when I was arrested I was held for a few hours and released on bail, I was not summoned to court until the beginning of 2013, following the success of the popular committees in the construction of the Palestinians villages Bab Al Shams and Bab Al Manatir.”
Abdallah Abu Rahmah is the coordinator of the Bil’in popular committee, which began popular demonstrations against the Apartheid wall and settlements in January 2005. The route of the Apartheid wall originally planned to separate the village form 50% of its agricultural land. As a result of the village’s continued popular struggle, the route was changed and 25% of the village land was effectively annexed by the wall to the illegal settlement of Modiin Elite.
Hundreds of protesters have been arrested and injured by Israeli forces in Bil’in since the popular struggle in the village began. In 2009 during a demonstration, Bassam Abu Rahmah was shot directly in the chest with a high velocity tear-gas projectile, dying of his wounds minutes later. On Januray 1st 2011, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died of poisoning after inhaling excessive amounts of tear gas during the weekly demonstration the previous day.
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.
Around this time last year, parliamentary records show, the retired property developer and hugely generous Labour party donor, Sir David Garrard, had given a modest £60,000 towards the party’s election campaign for 2015. It came in addition to around half a million he had already given since 2003.
Fast forward to 16 June of this year, Garrard hosts a Labour Friends of Israel event, at which Labour leader Ed Miliband is the main speaker. The prime minister hopeful had, the year before, proclaimed that he was a Zionist. The lobbying group he addressed boasts dozens of Labour peers and MPs amongst its membership, including the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.
Despite the atrocities being committed as Miliband spoke – a few thousand miles away during “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza, he made not one mention of the Palestinian casualties in his speech, though he did take time to note Israel’s own losses. By that point, 172 Palestinian lives had been taken, and over 1,200 were wounded. The newspapers were in outcry, but from Miliband – performing before his party donors – silence.
That same day, the silence was rewarded. Garrard transferred a whopping £630,000 to the Labour party accounts, over ten times his donation from the previous year.
It was a near identical episode to David Cameron speaking in 2009, back when he too was hoping to take office as prime minister.
At a well-attended Conservative Friends of Israel annual fundraising lunch held in London, he again made no mention of the Palestinian lives that had been lost, this time as part of “Operation Cast Lead”. Not one mention. In that war, 1,370 Palestinians had died. At the time, a leading British journalist wrote: “I found it impossible to reconcile the remarks made by the young Conservative leader with the numerous reports of human rights abuses in Gaza. Afterwards I said as much to some Tory MPs. They looked at me as if I was distressingly naive, drawing my attention to the very large number of Tory donors in the audience.”
No other foreign nation is as well represented in the campaign finances of British elections as Israel. In fact, no other nation comes close – and money linked to pro-Israel donors is a single interest influence akin to that of the trade unions (the largest democratic organisations in the country) or indeed the megabucks flowing in from City financiers.
And with that money, war crimes are being glossed over, rules bent, and our hard-won democracy warped by foreign interests.
The money is already pouring in.
In April, the Conservative Branch for Brigg & Goole, the constituency of Andrew Percy MP, received £6,000 from a notable pro-Israel supporter, Lord Stanley Fink. During the recent conflict, Percy attended an Israeli military briefing about the Iron Dome missile defence system – later glibly observing that “Israel acts as we would” in response to the mass civilian casualties being inflicted by the IDF.
Percy is, like 80 per cent of his colleagues, a member of Conservative Friends of Israel.
On the same day, £3,000 dropped into the bank account of the Conservative party in Harrow East. Their MP, Bob Blackman, also visited Israel during “Operation Protective Edge”. The money also came from Lord Fink.
And the pro-Israel peer pulled off a democracy-warping hat-trick that day – £3,000 for the Conservatives in Brighton & Kemptown, home to Conservative Friends of Israel linked Simon Kirby MP.
Over and above his backing of individual MPs, Lord Fink has also contributed over £60,000 to the Conservative Central Party accounts since July last year, and his total donations to the Conservatives over the years are now nearing £3 million.
Lord Fink is a staunch supporter of Israel – telling the Jewish Chronicle in 2009 that he shared similar views to Lord Michael Levy, Tony Blair’s aide who had close ties with Israeli political leaders. Levy’s son, Daniel, served as an assistant to the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and to Knesset member Yossi Beilin.
Elsewhere, Lord Fink has been a “loyal donor” to Just Journalism, a now defunct group organised by the pro-Israeli Westminster think tank the Henry Jackson Society. Just Journalism claimed to be correcting “media bias” against Israel but instead acted as a pro-Israel “flak” group aggressively criticising any British publication who queried Israel’s human rights record, including the Guardian and the London Review of Books. The group folded in 2011.
Lord Fink is also a member of the Jewish Leadership Council (more on their influence later).
In March, the Conservative Branch in Poplar & Limehouse received £3,000 from another pro-Israel funder – Sir Michael Hintze. Hintze was ranked by Forbes in 2014 as the 1,016th richest person in the world, with a net worth of approximately $1.8 billion.
The constituency he has plugged money into is a swing seat; a six per cent change would depose incumbent Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick (a member of both Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine).
The Conservatives have their own reasons for targeting the seat, using the youthful ex-banker and Tower Hamlets councillor Tim Archer. The Respect party are running George Galloway, and he could split the Labour vote, opening the way for a Conservative win. George Galloway also happens to be the most outspoken critic of Israel in British politics.
British-Australian Hintze is not a man the Conservatives would want to annoy. Since July of last year, he has donated just over £1.5 million to the party (the figure is doubled if you look back to 2002).
Current Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP received nearly £40,000 in 2008 and 2009 directly from Hintze. Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Theresa May MP, David Davis MP and David Willets MP have also been subject to his financial largesse.
But the first politician Hintze backed in the Conservatives was Dr Liam Fox MP, with a £10,000 gift back in January 2007.
Fox then rose to become Secretary of State for Defence, before being disgraced when it was revealed he had allowed his close friend Adam Werrity access to the Ministry of Defence and to travel on official visits (despite not being a government employee).
Hintze was implicated because he had allowed Fox a desk in his London office as part of a £29,000 donation to Fox’s controversial charity – Atlantic Bridge – another pro-Israel lobbying organisation. Hintze served on its Executive Council.
Adam Werrity, who had been best man at Fox’s wedding in 2005, was later appointed UK Executive Director of Atlantic Bridge and played a key role in its operations.
In late 2011, “multiple sources” told the Independent on Sunday that Werrity had used contacts developed through Atlantic Bridge to arrange visits to Iran, meeting with opposition groups in both Washington and London, and had even been debriefed by MI6 about his travels.
The newspaper described the activities as “a freelance foreign policy” with Werrity seemingly “acting as a rogue operator”.
It was also revealed that Werrity was capable of arranging meetings “at the highest levels of the Israeli government”, and that Mossad had, bizarrely, believed Werrity to be Fox’s chief of staff.
The Guardian also raised the possibility that Werrity and Fox could have been operating a “shadow foreign policy,” using Atlantic Bridge as a cover organisation. The charity was investigated by the Charities Commission in 2011 and shut down.
Another patron of Atlantic Bridge, alongside Hintze, was Michael Lewis, ex-chairman of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM).
That lobbying group describes itself as a “British organisation dedicated to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in Britain”. It was reported that Michael Lewis had paid for some of Werrity’s trips to Israel, charges he later denied.
Fox’s resignation was forced over the scandal – although true to Westminster form – no scandal is too much, in fact, he is already back, having politely refused a role as foreign secretary in July but now planning a new career as a backbencher.
Reviewing the Electoral Commission records for 2014, the pro-Israel donor Michael Lewis has popped up again. In March, he wrote another cheque for £10,000, to none other than Liam Fox.
In the past, Lewis has also backed William Hague – to the tune of £5,000. Hague later became foreign secretary.
According to Peter Oborne, now chief political commentator for the Telegraph, Michael Lewis’s baby BICOM is “Britain’s major pro-Israel lobby”.
In a searing expose for Channel 4 in 2009 and later a pamphlet calling for transparency from the Israel lobby, Oborne showed how BICOM was funded by a Finnish billionaire whose father made a fortune selling Israeli arms.
Chaim “Poju” Zabludowicz, who the Sunday Times ranked as the 57th richest individual in Britain with a net worth of over £1.5 billion, founded BICOM in 2001 and is its chairman.
Zabludowicz is also a member of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, a charity whose website claims it has three strands of work – “Supporting Israel”, “Connecting with Israel” and “Engaging with Israel”.
Since 2009, Zabludowicz has given approximately £125,000 to the Conservative party, either directly to party central, or to the party operating in Finchley and Golders Green, Harlow, Watford or Burton.
Zabludowicz is also a member of the Jewish Leadership Council – primarily concerned with philanthropic and educational matters within the British Jewish community, but who in June 2011 also met with the government to discuss the Middle East (BICOM attended the meeting too), and again in January 2012.
The Jewish Leadership Council, whose members also include pro-Israel Tory funders such as Lord Stanley Fink, and Tony Blair’s controversial man in Israel Lord Michael Levy, have taken it upon themselves to vigorously defend Israeli leaders from the principles of universal jurisdiction – which proves a great example of how influential the lobby is ,how intent the lobby is on insulating Israel from legal redress, and exactly why British voters should be wary of how much money the lobby is pumping into our elections.
In a celebratory post in 2011, on their own website, the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) explained that two years ago, they had “commissioned a legal opinion from Lord Pannick QC which recommended a change in the law. We wanted to protect universal jurisdiction itself, a vital innovation that grew out of the Holocaust, while preventing it from being abused.” (“Preventing it from being abused” roughly translates to “being applied to Israel”).
Following an arrest warrant being issued for Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, the group said: “We immediately sent our legal opinion to the government and opposition and worked with Conservative Friends of Israel, Labour Friends of Israel and Liberal Democratic Friends of Israel to begin generating support for this law change.”
“Within a few days, Gordon Brown had publicly promised to change the law as soon as possible,” the JLC bragged.
The Conservative party had already placed an advert in the Jewish Chronicle promising to change the law if they were elected. In 2011, the universal jurisdiction laws of the United Kingdom were changed, with arrest warrants now requiring the assent of the Attorney-General before they could be issued for alleged war criminals.
This was just as the pro-Israel lobby wanted. Rather than facing arrest when visiting the UK, Israeli politicians, generals and other war criminals can now feel assured that warrants would first have to pass through the Attorney-General, who is none other than Jeremy Wright MP, who is of course, another member of Conservative Friends of Israel.
By Doug E. Steil | Aletho News | October 20, 2014
It is an established and well-known fact, at least among the many hundreds of thousands of health care professionals and local politicians tasked with securing public health in the United States, that the legal jurisdictional responsibilities for dealing with potential or actual pandemic emergencies lie at the state level, not with any agency or department of the federal government. Thereby, the Governor of a particular state of the Union leads the chain of command in such instances, as in the recent Ebola outbreak in Texas, which subsequently spread beyond the initially impacted individual, who has subsequently died.
Elaborate procedures for dealing with such contingencies were developed years ago, and implementing the appropriate procedures, in case a disaster strikes, have been rehearsed periodically. Therefore, alleged Incompetence, such as not knowing exactly what to do in such a situation, cannot be a credible explanation or excuse.
As the Washington Examiner revealed on October 17th — though they did so rather cryptically so one needs to “read between the lines” — the primary issue in the recent public debacle, involving Texas Governor Rick Perry’s failure to assume his legal mandate to combat the widening Ebola outbreak, is simply a matter of where his priorities lie. Since this turns out to be rather embarrassing, though, it is not being trumpeted to the general public.
You see, Rick Perry wants to run for the office of President. As anybody following US politics knows, this endeavor requires “currying favor with” (i.e. conspicuously prostrating oneself before) the Zionist Power Configuration, in hopes of obtaining the necessary funding to run a successful public relations campaign, so as to distract the electorate with trivial wedge issues. Since he has already done the obligatory “Wailing Wall Ritual,” which has long ago already become a transparently ridiculous cliche, organizers apparently felt a variation on this theme of obeisance to the prevailing Power Establishment was appropriate for future fundraising events.
Whereas a visit to Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall may evoke some religious sympathies, a visit to the infamous Auschwitz I camp, with the often depicted words “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” at the gate, will likely trigger more powerful emotions. So that was the plan. The photos of Perry posing before the gate would be available to be released at the most opportune time during campaign season. However, at least one image did leak out into the public domain prematurely. (Note that the proper way to visit the Auschwitz I camp, which the holocaust industry propagandists have declared a “holy” site, appears to entail keeping both hands in your pockets, unless you have to hold an umbrella with the other one.)
Not until this all-important photo opportunity was completed did it become relevant for the Governor of Texas to cancel the rest of his trip and fly back to deal with the Ebola crisis, for which he must ultimately take responsibility. One might imagine that partisan Democrats could make a big issue of Perry’s photo stunt at Auschwitz, except in this case they all play the same cynical game. So there is the main message, clear as day: The general population can wait, as a deadly virus threatens to go out of control, because Rick Perry has much more important things to attend to first.