Tel Aviv University has imposed policies and procedures intended to restrict those Arab students who wish to organise Nakba commemorative events on campus. Palestinians remember the Nakba (Catastrophe) on 15th May every year, the date on which the state of Israel was created on their land.
According to a report in Haaretz newspaper, the presidency of the university has told the organisers of Nakba Day activities to provide the necessary funding for hiring at least six security guards from the university’s own security company to maintain control and order. The university wants to prevent any disturbances or riots during the ceremony scheduled for next week.
The event organisers must provide the required sum of money two days ahead of the proposed date of the programme, failing which it will be cancelled. The university has also banned the use of flags, banners and loud PA systems even though the Nakba Day commemoration has been approved by the students’ council, considered widely to be the first time such permission has been granted.
The organisers of the ceremony told Haaretz that the purpose behind the event is to introduce to non-Arab students the facts about the disaster that befell the Palestinians in 1948. In doing so, they also hope to influence Israeli public opinion and remind all citizens of the loss and human tragedy experienced by the Palestinians as a result of the Israeli occupation of their land.
There’s a good number of us who question holidays like Mother’s Day in which you spend more time feeding money into a system that exploits our love for our mothers than actually celebrating them. It’s not unlike any other holiday in America in that its complete commercialization has stripped away so much of its genuine meaning, as well its history. Mother’s Day is unique in its completely radical and totally feminist history, as much as it has been forgotten.
Mother’s Day began in America in 1870 when Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation. Written in response to the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, her proclamation called on women to use their position as mothers to influence society in fighting for an end to all wars. She called for women to stand up against the unjust violence of war through their roles as wife and mother, to protest the futility of their sons killing other mothers’ sons.
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”[Read the remainder of Howe's quote here]
The holiday caught on years later when a West Virginia women’s group led by Anna Reeves Jarvis began promoting it as a way to reunite families after the Civil War. After Jarvis’ death, her daughter began a campaign for the creation of an official Mother’s Day in honor of peace. Devoting much of her life to the cause, it wasn’t until 1914 when Woodrow Wilson signed it into national observance in 1914.
The holiday flourished, along with the flower industry. The business journal, the Florists Review, actually admitted to its desire to exploit the holiday. Jarvis was strongly opposed to every aspect of the holiday’s commercialization, arrested for protesting the sale of flowers, and petitioning to stop the creation of a Mother’s Day postage stamp.
Today we are in multiple wars that continue to claim the lives of thousands of sons and daughters. We are also experiencing a still-rising commercialization of nearly every aspect of life; the exploitation of every possible human event and emotion at the benefit of corporations.
Let’s take this Mother’s Day to excuse ourselves from the pressure to consume and remember its radical roots – that mothers, or rather all women, in fact, all people, have a stake in war and a responsibility as American citizens to protest the incredible violence that so many fellow citizens, here and abroad, must suffer through.
The thousands of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the devastating impact of post-traumatic stress disorder on our veterans are just the beginning of the terrible repercussion of war. As we saw last week an announcement of an extension of the military occupation of Afghanistan, let this mother’s day be a day after Julia Ward Howe’s own heart as we stand up and say no to 12 more years of war.
- Julia Ward Howe: Mother’s Day Tribute to Mothers and to Their Gifts Making All Possible: Peace (peoplesadvocacycouncil.wordpress.com)
After three years of discussions, the UN has agreed a document meant to protect local populations against land grabbing. It should help ensure the right to food.
When big investors buy up land, small farmers are often driven from the land that feeds them. On Friday (11.05.2012) the 128 countries in the UN Committee on World Food Security unanimously adopted policies to protect the local population.
The voluntary guidelines specify how soil and land use rights, fisheries and forests should be handled. They are intended to increase transparency in land investment, give residents a greater say and especially to strengthen the position of the local small farmers. Often, they have only informal land rights – and no official land titles.
“The key point is that all rights for people to use land and other resources should be recognized, and that these people have proof. And they cannot easily lose these rights overnight because someone else may have more money or more influence,” said Babette Wehrmann, responsible for climate, energy use and rights at the FAO.
Up to 83 million hectares of land have been sold or leased to investors since 2000 – especially in Africa. The International Land Coalition, an alliance of non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, operates a website on which land investments can be followed. However, because many deals are not disclosed, the land-matrix database is far from complete, the ILC’s Michael Taylor says. Even so, some trends can be identified: African countries are of particular concern, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Targeted investments in countries with weak legislation
These countries are particularly vulnerable “because they have weak policies and weak land ownership legislation. The international investors sought out the most vulnerable countries where it was worthwhile to invest because of the fertile ground,” says Frank Brassel, rural development expert at Oxfam.
According to the country matrix the major investors include India, China and the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Even these countries have now agreed to the voluntary guidelines.
The ILC sees more risks than opportunities for local people in the land deals that are currently being negotiated, Taylor said. It would make most sense for investors to work with small farmers. Many countries are now worrying about new approaches to strengthen farmers’ rights, Taylor says.
“Countries such as Madagascar and Ethiopia have begun to issue certificates to confirm the ownership of land, and while they are not the same as a (legal ownership) title, they still ensure ownership of the land and only cost a fraction of the price,” says Taylor. “In Madagascar, the cost for a small farmer who wants to certify his land has fallen from 600 dollars to 15 dollars, or about 12 euros.”
This certificate assures the farmers that they can continue to cultivate “their” land. Because if big investors oust the local population, they lose twice: First, they can no longer grow anything, and second, the products are then mostly exported. So-called “flex crops” are especially popular – plants such as palm oil, soya beans and sugar cane – that can be sold according to market demand as a biofuel or food, says Taylor.
Local farmers are often forced off their land
And it would be a mistake to think that investors are looking for idle land, says Kerstin Nolte, an expert on land grabbing at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA).
“Investors are, of course, looking for land that is very fertile and is close to infrastructure. And that is usually populated,” says Nolte. “This means that it often involves expulsions.”
Nolte traveled to Zambia, Kenya and Ghana for field studies. In Zambia, traditional local authorities decide which family cultivates which piece of land.
“When the chief performs his role well in the traditional sense, then he will negotiate with the investor and consult with his people. These chiefs are only slightly better off, which means they do not have very much money, property or land” Nolte said. “That means the system is very susceptible to corruption, both because there’s no one monitoring the chief and because there are a lot of money or valuables coming in from the outside.” Nolte says that this has led to much communal land in Zambia being transferred to commercial agriculture.
The rapid growth of land grabbing in recent years has depended in particular on the fact that food prices have risen dramatically since 2007. “This has led to two major groups seeing that it pays to invest in land: the first are the Gulf countries and emerging economies such as China and India. They want to secure their future food supply by buying or leasing huge areas of land in weaker countries,” Brassel said.
“The other group is traditional investors, who have also seen that it pays to invest in land, for food and for biofuel, as both promise to be lucrative businesses for the future.”
The largest land grabbers are not necessarily foreign investors. “We hear from our member organizations working in countries such as these it is the local elites who are responsible for the largest land scarcity. The cumulative effect of many people acquiring small plots of land for speculative purposes may be greater than that of two investors who purchase vast areas of land,” Taylor said.
The experts agree the voluntary guidelines of the UN member states are now an important first step to strengthen the situation of the local population and create more transparency. The guidelines can help to set a certain standard for the local population.
Although they are voluntary, the guidelines could put a lot of positive developments into motion, Brassel says. Oxfam has seen positive effects of the 2004 voluntary guidelines for the human right to food, he says. Even so, Oxfam would have liked to expand the newly adopted guidelines against land grabbing. “We should have not only applied the guidelines to land, but also to water resources,” he said.
“We would have liked a statement at the beginning that says, in the next three years we will have a moratorium on large land investments to be able to apply these guidelines on-site in the most affected countries first.”
The protection of small farmers now depends on the extent to which the individual states consider the voluntary guidelines to be binding.
- U.N. adopts norms against ‘land grabbing’ (thehindu.com)
- Colombia: ‘Carbon credit’ scheme a cover for land grab (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- World Bank helps corporations with land grabs in Africa: Environmental groups (rawstory.com)
Two apparent US drone attacks killed at least 10 people in Yemen on Saturday, while Yemeni government forces killed 15 others in a new offensive against insurgents, local and military officials said.
Two air strikes destroyed three vehicles and killed 10 people in the eastern oil-producing Maarib province and near the border of the southeastern Shabwa province, the Defence Ministry website said, without elaborating.
Yemen and Washington do not acknowledge US drone attacks as they undermine the idea of Yemeni sovereignty.
The government claimed those killed were militants but provided no evidence for this.
Local officials told Reuters the strikes were believed to have been carried out by US drones and up to 12 people were killed, including an Egyptian and two Saudis.
It was the latest in a series of reported drone attacks on militants in the south of the impoverished Arab country who exploited mass protests last year against then-President Ali Abdallah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory, including Zinjibar, the capital of restive Abyan province.
Last week, the US Defense Department said Washington had resumed training Yemeni armed forces, after a suspension during the political upheaval that ousted Saleh.
In a sign of growing lawlessness after more than a year of unrest, Bulgaria’s ambassador to Yemen escaped with minor injuries on Saturday after masked gunmen opened fire on his car in the capital and tried to kidnap him, a Western diplomat said.
US officials said this week they had thwarted a plot by the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to arm a suicide bomber with a non-metallic device, an upgraded version of the “underwear bomb” carried onto an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says there is no need to take up arms against Israel in order to destroy it.
Criticizing the regional countries for buying billions of dollars worth of weaponry from certain powers, Ahmadinejad said, “If their objective for buying these weapons is to fight with the Zionist regime (Israel), they should know that a war is not necessary for destroying the regime.”
“If the regional countries cut their ties with the Zionists and give the Zionist regime (Israel) a small frown, this fabricated regime will be over,” President Ahmadinejad added.
The Iranian chief executive made the remarks in the city of Kashmar in the eastern province of Khorasan Razavi on Saturday.
The president also criticized certain regional rulers for spending their oil revenues on USD 60 billion worth of [Western] arms.
In December 2011, the US formally announced a USD 30-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia which included the sales of F-15 fighter jets to the Arab monarchy.
The deal is part of a multi-year arms agreement between Washington and Riyadh, unveiled in October 2010, which is worth a whopping USD 60 billion overall.
The Iranian president also slammed the massacre of Afghan civilians at the hands of the US military forces stationed in Afghanistan.
In a May 10 press release, the staunchly pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it “will convene a new working group on cyberhate that will bring together Internet industry leaders and others to probe the roots of the problem and develop new solutions to address it head-on.”
According to the ADL statement, the establishment of a “Anti-Cyberhate Working Group” was approved by the Task Force on Internet Hate at a May 7 meeting held at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society in Palo Alto, California. The task force was created by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA).
“Internet hate continues to have a global impact on civil society and a transparent process to respond to it will lead to reviewability and consistency,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “We welcome the commitments of Google and Facebook to participate in this dialogue to combat online hate speech, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. Working alongside the Internet’s leaders will allow for the development of industry standards that balance effectiveness with respect for the right to free speech.”
The ICCA Task Force is co-chaired by Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, who is charged with countering antisemitism. A member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, Edelstein lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, which he sees as part of “Greater Israel.” As far as the Israeli minister is concerned, however, those who dare to nonviolently oppose Israel’s ongoing colonization of Palestinian land are motivated only by hate. According a report on Edelstein’s anti-Arab racism, he told delegates at a 2009 international conference on “combating antisemitism”:
We must repeat again and again these basic facts – TO BE ‘anti-Israel’ IS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC. TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL, ISRAELI PROFESSORS and ISRAELI businesses, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism! Anti-Israel hysteria is anti-Semitic hysteria. They are one and the same. [Ed: Upper case letters in the transcript]
If this is what is meant by “cyberhate,” perhaps the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement should consider targeting Google and Facebook for their apparent willingness to collaborate in the defense of the Israeli occupation.
- The Old News of ‘New Anti-Semitism’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)