There are now 18 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons
GAZA – The media and press teams that try to cover the Israeli violence in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip are facing escalating violations at the hands of the Israeli army and Palestinian security forces.
The Palestinian Radio and Television Stations Union documented in its report for January, 2016, more than 45 violations against journalists and media correspondents.
This includes arrests, extension of detention, direct assaults in the field, and prevention from media coverage, in continuous attempts to distort the truth about the Israeli terror against Palestinians.
According to the Union, the arrests, detentions, extension of detentions, summoning to investigations, and breaking into houses during January reached 10 cases.
The Israeli forces arrested the journalist Mujahid al-Sa’adi, correspondent of Palestine Today TV channel, and extended his detention three times so far in January.
In addition, Israeli soldiers arrested the sports journalist at al-Khalil radio channel, Mahmoud al-Qawasmi.
These violations also reached the journalists Mohammed Matar, Musab Shawer, and Abd al-Karim al-Ouiui. In January, the Israeli forces brutality against journalists in the field increased, as the media crews attempted to cover the Palestinian weekly protests.
Nine Israeli assaults, that resulted in injuring two Palestinian journalists, were documented. Seven other press photographers choked on teargas.
Moreover, three cases of harassment and prevention from coverage were documented. Israeli forces also thwarted a press conference in Jerusalem, and a cultural meeting.
The house of Muhanned Halami was also blown up without media coverage. In respect to the incitement campaigns, 11 violations were documented.
The Israeli Shin Bet accused the Palestinian Authority’s media of inciting and encouraging the Palestinian individual operations against Israelis.
A European institute also accused ten journalists and bloggers of being agitators for supporting the Palestinian resistance in their writings.
Regarding the prosecution of journalists on cyberspace, two cases were documented.
Two Facebook pages were closed and a number of pro-Palestinian cartoons were deleted. The Palestinian journalist prisoner, Mohammed al-Qeiq, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 70 days, has suffered ten violations.
These include torture, forced-feeding, handcuffing to hospital bed, and intense presence of security in the hospital where he is staying to prevent his lawyers from talking to him, and continuing his administrative detention in the Israeli jails.
The report stated that there are now 18 Palestinian journalists in the Israeli prisons.
According to the same report, a journalist, Ayman Al-Aloul, and an activist, Ramzy Herzallah, were summoned for interrogation by Gaza security forces who later released them after a brief detention.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority forces arrested Momen Abu Duheir and Nablus TV director Salim Swidsan.
PA forces also summoned for interrogation Abdullah Oda, threatened Riham Al-Omary, and assaulted Sami Saa’y.
The tunnels are a lifeline for those who live in the beseiged Gaza Strip as they are used to smuggle vital supplies
Director of Political-Military Affairs at Israel’s Defence Ministry Amos Gilad revealed today that the United States has contributed over $100 million to an Israeli-US technology research project aimed at identifying and locating tunnels on the Gaza Strip border.
In an interview with Army Radio this morning, Gilad stated that intelligence information suggests that there are no such tunnels leading into Israeli territory at the moment.
Defence Ministry official Shalom Gantzer dispelled the fears of Israelis living around the Gaza Strip who have claimed to hear digging noises under their houses, saying that these noises are coming from an electric generator.
Israel’s Channel 10 showed interviews on Saturday with those living near the Gaza border area who had recorded the noises with their mobile phones. They claimed that these noises were the sounds of tunnels being dug from Gaza.
In a past interview with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, Morgan Freeman dropped a bombshell that sent ripples through the race-focused crowd everywhere.
As Wallace attempted to paint him as a radical for his views, in only a few brief moments, Morgan Freeman laid waste to stereotypes, and worked wonders for bridging the racial divide in America.
The Israeli government has vowed to launch an “electronic war” against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, including monitoring, tracking and thwarting their activities in cyber space, as well as attacking it with “special sophisticated tools”.
Israel Hayom newspaper reported: “Israel is facing a campaign to de-legitimise it. It penetrates into a certain extent; up to the secretary-general of the United Nations,” noting that it is a new battle in its “own stadium: the cyber space”.
It quoted the Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, as saying that the statements of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, during which he called for ending the occupation of the Palestinian territory, contributes to “distorting Israeli image globally”.
During the Cyber Tech Conference 2016, held in Tel Aviv, Erdan added: “BDS should be forced to defend themselves and not to attack Israel,” noting that his government has allocated more than 100 million shekels ($25 million) for its “electronic war”.
The head of the Institute for National Security Studies, General Amos Yadlin, said: “The most dangerous country in the Middle East is the state of Facebook.”
“Those who will lead the United States in 20 years’ time are learning today in universities where anti-Israel propaganda exists.”
Israeli arms company Elbit Systems and US military contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) have won a £500-million contract to provide aircraft training for the UK military.
The Affinity venture, in which the two are partners, will provide fixed wing training for sections of the UK Armed Forces concerned with aviation.
Affinity’s component is part of a larger deal led by Ascent Flight training and worth £1.1 billion. Ascent is itself a fifty-fifty venture between international arms firms Babcock and Lockheed Martin.
The aim is to deliver flight training up to the year 2033 in line with the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS).
In a statement, Ascent’s director Paul Livingston said: “The award of these contracts marks a key milestone for the fixed wing element of UKMFTS. Modern training aircraft selected specifically to meet the bespoke needs of the UK’s Armed Forces will deliver optimized training alongside high tech simulators and classroom trainers.”
Ministry of Defence (MoD) Procurement Minister Phillip Dunne said the deal was “fantastic news for the future of our military aircrew” and would provide them with “a modern training system which will equip them to deliver on the front line.”
Elbit Systems are well known for their range of drones and the firm is of particular concern among human rights groups.
According to a report by the charity War on Want, the MoD awarded a £1-billion contract to Elbit and its UK partner Thales to develop the Watchkeeper drone. The model is now in service with the military.
The charity argues that Watchkeepers are field tested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“Israeli companies such as Elbit will often boast of their competitive advantage in the global arms market due to their extensive ‘testing’ of their weaponry in ‘real life’ situations,” the report says.
Hillary Clinton has written a letter to Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban (left), pledging to speak out publicly against the BDS campaign aimed at Israel
American billionaire George Soros donated $6 million to a super-PAC financing US Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton last month, a report says.
Soros has now provided a total of $7 million in this election cycle to Priorities USA Action, a super-PAC which raised $41 million on behalf of Clinton in 2015, according to the committee’s statement issued on Sunday.
The super-PAC raised $25.3 million during the last 6 months, and Soros’s contribution accounted for almost a quarter of its funding haul.
Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media tycoon, and his wife Cheryl have contributed a total of $5 million to Clinton’s super-PAC.
Clinton has written a letter to Saban, pledging to speak out publicly against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign aimed at Israel.
Wealthy individuals, who are restricted by law from giving large amounts directly to candidates’ campaigns, donate to political action committees, commonly known as super-PACs.
American billionaire George Soros has contributed a total of $7 million to Hillary Clinton’s campaign so far
In the 2010 Citizens United case ruling, the US Supreme Court allowed unlimited independent spending by corporations in elections.
According to a study published by the New York Times, wealthy individuals and corporations have begun to replace powerless people as direct beneficiaries of the US political system and the Constitution.
Clinton is maintaining a slim lead over Senator Bernie Sanders in Iowa, according to a poll released on Saturday.
Clinton beat out rival Sanders in the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll. She has 45 percent support, with Sanders at 42 percent.
On Saturday, The New York Times endorsed Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination, a potential boost for the candidate two days before the Iowa caucuses.
Times editors wrote that they chose Clinton over her main rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, due to her experience and policy ideas.
The editorial board described Clinton as “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.”
Israeli forces blocking the entrance to the Palestinian market
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Saturday, 30th January 2016, large groups of settlers, accompanied by heavily-armed soldiers, entered the Palestinian market at night and took it over for about an hour during night-time in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).
Around 9:30 pm, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements throughout al-Khalil gathered at Bab al-Baladiyya, from where they walked into the Palestinian souq, the market, surrounded by heavily-armed Israeli forces. The group of more than 50 settlers started a ‘tour’ of the Palestinian market, with Israeli forces ‘guarding’ them throughout the Palestinian market. Palestinian residents were not allowed to pass and forced to wait at a distance, with soldiers repeatedly pointing the lasers from their guns at them to indicate they have to stop. A walk home at night though, for some Palestinians took almost an hour, instead of the usual 10 minutes.
This kind of ‘settler tour’ through the Palestinian market used to take place regularly on Saturday afternoons. During the ‘tour’ Palestinians are often denied to pass, stopped, ID-checked and detained. In the recent months, no ‘settler tours’ took place, but last week they started again with a nightly-tour at 11pm. For the Palestinian residents of the souq, these tours have become a regular form of intimidation and harassment in the past.
Sadly, over the last seventy years Israel has had many successes at the expense of the Palestinian people. But the one success that is the most remarkable is getting Palestinians and the world to buy into the notion that the occupation of Palestine began in 1967, and that therefore, the solution to the Palestinian question is what is known as the two State Solution. This is a manipulation of reality that would make any magician proud.
It has become completely acceptable to disregard the fact that the vast majority of Palestine has been occupied since 1948. Mentioning the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the eradication of Palestinian towns and villages, mosques and churches, schools and homes is now considered radical. Forty-nine years of occupation is the claim one hears over and over again, the fiftieth anniversary of the occupation is upon us, people say, and hard as I try, when I add forty-nine to the year 1948 I do not come up with 2016, but rather 1997.
There is almost complete disregard by the international community for the crimes committed by the Zionists between 1948 and 1967. The erasure of the fact that these were years marked by dispossession, massacres, and unspeakable abuse of human rights by Israel, is a truly impressive magic trick. Two small areas within Palestine that were drawn by Israel and left out of the boundaries of Israel in 1948, i.e. the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, have become recognized as Palestine. But that is not all. Not a single inch of the West Bank or the Gaza Strip is under Palestinian sovereignty. All of the Palestine, from the River to the Sea is controlled by Israel.
So when European countries recognize Palestine they too are behaving like fools in a magic show, happy to be part of the illusion of some great master of deceit. And indeed, as the world is led by the nose, fooled by the illusion of a Palestine that exists, Israel, the master of deceit, continues to shrink what little is left of Palestinian life and no one stands up to admit that the emperor has no clothes! There is no Palestinian state, there is no Two State Solution, there is no West Bank, and there is not a single inch of Palestinian sovereignty anywhere in Palestine.
“OPT” has become a rather well known acronym, used to describe the Occupied Palestinian Territories. But when we ask people to see those territories on a map, all we see is what used to be the West Bank, an area that Israel created in 1948 and then eliminated in 1967, and the Gaza Strip which exists only as a concentration camp in which Israel is allowed to commit genocide, as the world looks the other away and pretends not to see.
This begs the following questions: If the OPT are limited to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip then where are the Un-occupied Palestinian territories? Are there Palestinian territories that are not occupied? If such territories do exist, can someone please point them out on a map? Because every map I look at and every inch of Palestine that I visit is occupied. Another term that is used a great deal in connection to Palestine is “settlements.” Sometimes they are called, “illegal settlements.” Both refer largely to the Israeli colonies built in the West Bank. There is talk of “settlement expansion,” “settlement blocks,” etc. Again, this begs a question: what is the difference between the Jewish settlements in those areas and the ones built in Al-Jaleel or the Naqqab? What about the settlements built around Jerusalem or the one near Yaffa known as Tel-Aviv?
Israelis who live on Palestinian land that was stolen in 1948 like to see themselves as authentic Israelis, good liberal minded people and God forbid they are not settlers. Settlers are those “other” Israelis who live on lands that were stolen from Palestinians in 1967. But what is the difference? All of Palestine was stolen by force, and with very few exceptions, all Israeli cities and towns, villages and farms were built on land that was stolen, which makes them all illegal settlements. Once again the master of deceit is leading us all by the nose to see the world as Israel wants us to see it and there is no one to cry out: “the emperor has NO clothes!”
Between 1948-1967 Israel gained legitimacy by committing horrendous crimes and creating what they call “facts on the ground.” The 1967 conquest of the West Bank and Gaza, in which Israel completed the occupation of Palestine, shifted the focus from the territories Israel occupied in 1948 to the newly occupied territories. Now, for the past five decades Israel has been creating “facts on the ground” in those areas, which are now known as “Judea and Smaria.” But every magician, every thief and certainly a master of deceit of such proportions has to have accomplices.
Few people can actually claim not to know what Israel is doing. The international diplomatic corps is fully aware of what takes place in Palestine. The CIA and the US State Department are fully aware of every trick and every crime committed by Israel. Each and every US administration as well as the European governments has been complicit in the crimes committed by Israel. However, it is time for the rest of the world to wake up and end the illusion. The illusion that Israel has legitimacy, the illusion that Israel is somehow the answer to the holocaust and to anti-Semitism, and the illusion that some parts of Palestine are occupied while others are not. It’s time to call out loud and clear that all Israeli settlements everywhere are illegal and just as in the tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the emperor had no clothes, Israel too has no legitimacy.
According to prominent Italian publication L’Espresso, more than 160 Italian academics came out in support of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The petition, reportedly the first large-scale BDS effort from Italian academia, said it was “a response to the known and well-documented complicity of Israeli academic institutions with Israeli state violence and the total lack of serious condemnation on their part since the foundation of the State of Israel.”
The BDS campaign specifically targeted Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa, for its prominent role in the Israeli military-industrial complex, and called on Italian universities to sever ties with the institution.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri welcomed the move on Saturday, saying the petition “illustrates the increasing state of isolation the occupation suffers as a result of its crimes.”
Israel has been struggling to tackle a growing Palestinian-led boycott campaign which has had a number of high-profile successes abroad in both academic and artistic fields.
The BDS movement aims to exert political and economic pressure over Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in a bid to repeat the success of the campaign which ended apartheid in South Africa.
In recent years, some 1,200 academics in Spain, 343 British professors and lecturers and more than 200 South African academics have publicly come out in support of BDS.
TUBAS – Israeli forces late Friday confiscated trucks and equipment being used to build a new agricultural road in the Palestinian village of Khirbet al-Dir in the northern Jordan Valley.
The head of a local council in the occupied West Bank village, al-Maleh Arif Daraghmah, told Ma’an that military forces had seized the equipment, without citing a reason for its removal.
Daraghmah added that days before, Israeli forces had ruined dozens of acres of agricultural land and roads while carrying out military drills in the area.
A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) told Ma’an: “Yesterday evening, two trucks, JCB and an excavator, were confiscated as they were used for illegal road building adjacent to Mehoula in Area C.”
The Jordan Valley — occupied with the rest of the West Bank in 1967 — is in Area C, under full Israeli military and administrative control, and residents of the area face a constant threat of destruction of structures and property.
Threats of displacement for the thousands of Bedouins living in the area have reportedly increased dramatically since 2012, notably the use of Israeli military training exercises as a means of forcible displacement.
Rights groups argue that Israel aims to fully annex the strategic area of land and is unlikely to return the occupied area to Palestinians.
Israeli media reported earlier this week that the Israeli government announced that it may revoke the closed military zone status of a number of land plots in the Jordan Valley, supposedly returning the land to their original Palestinian owners after decades of confiscation.
The news came several days after COGAT announced that plans to declare 1,500 dunams (370 acres) of land in the Jordan Valley as “state land” were in their “final stages.” The move will be the largest declaration of “state land” by Israel since August 2014.
Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest in Nabi Saleh village, near Ramallah, and shot an international activist with a live round, while many protesters suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
Morad Eshteiwy, coordinator of the Popular Committee in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, said the activist was shot in the leg, and was moved to a local hospital for treatment. He added that many protesters suffered severe effects of tear gas inhalation, after the soldiers used excessive force.
The army surrounded the village, fired many gas bombs, live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets.
Eshteiwy added that, for the second time in one week, the soldiers sealed the main entrance of the village, forcing hundreds of Palestinians from nearby villages and towns, to take longer, unpaved roads.
Also on Friday, dozens of protesters suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly nonviolent protest in Bil’in village, near Ramallah.
Israel’s Diplomatic Wars of Aggression
Israel these days seems to be increasingly at odds with a good portion of the rest of the world. In just the past few months it has quarreled with:
- Spain over arrest warrants issued for Netanyahu and six other Israeli officials for the 2010 attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla;
- Sweden over comments by its foreign minister who has called for an investigation into extrajudicial executions of Palestinians;
- college campus student groups supporting the BDS movement;
- academic associations who have issued calls for academic boycotts of Israeli universities;
- Brazil over its refusal to recognize an Israeli ambassador who hails from the right-wing Israeli settler movement;
- The EU over labeling of products from Israeli settlements.
- The UN over Ban Ki-moon’s recent criticism of the settlements
And really, if truth be known, Israel is probably not too happy just now with Italy either, which recently received Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on a state visit, resulting in a number of agreements between the two countries’ energy sectors as well as cooperation on a future high-speed rail project. Naor Gilon, the Israeli ambassador to Italy, complained that Rouhani was being treated like “the king of the world.”
War with Sweden
All in all, Gilon’s comments would have to be viewed as rather tame, however–at least by comparison. For some of the statements issuing from Israelis now, particularly those aimed at Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, are positively chilling in their level of malice expressed, and frankly it might behoove the Swedish official to consider hiring a bodyguard at this point, if she hasn’t already done so.
As I noted in an article five days ago, Wallström is now regarded in Israel as “public enemy number 1” (the Jerusalem Post’s words, not mine) because of remarks she has made critical of Israel, including a recent call for an investigation into extrajudicial killings of Palestinians.
Now it seems there may be those in Israel hankering for the foreign minister’s blood–literally. If you haven’t read my article, Swedish Media Target Country’s Foreign Minister Following Her Remarks on Israel, I suggest you do so as it will place what follows into greater perspective. One day after posting that article, I became aware of two other articles, one by blogger Richard Silverstein and the other by Jonathan Ofir and posted at Mondoweiss, both of which discuss what appears to have been a scarcely veiled threat on Wallström’s life by a former Israeli official.
The comment was made by Zvi Zameret, a former official in the Israeli Ministry of Education, in an op-ed piece he wrote for an Israeli newspaper owned by Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. In the article, Zameret waxes lyrical on the 1948 assassination of Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, and then goes on to suggest that Wallström might meet a similar fate. Here is a bit from Silverstein’s commentary on the matter:
Zvi Zameret, the former director for instruction for the Israeli education ministry has written an op-ed in Makor Rishon, Sheldon Adelson’s pro-settler newspaper, praising the 1948 assassination of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte by Yitzhak Shamir’s Lehi gang. Zameret accuses Bernadotte of being an anti-Semite and claims that his views originated in a Swedish society that was suffused with this perspective. He claims that ridding the world of the Swedish Count was necessary to protect Israel’s new existence.
He wends his way through a long historical discourse involving material already well-known related to Bernadotte’s proposals, which were rejected by Arabs and Jews alike. Then he brings us up to the present day by alleging that remarks of the current Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, demanding that Israel be held accountable for the 160 Palestinians killed over the past two months in the latest Intifada, stem from the same well of Swedish anti-Semitism.
Silverstein says Zameret “hints that Wallström herself should share a similar fate to Bernadotte” and then gives us a direct quote from his article as per its English translation:
“What do the things I have mentioned attest about Bernadotte? [They indicate] covert anti-Semitism, ignorance and arrogance, collaboration with senior elements in Israel [Hebrew University President Judah Magnes] and interests that play a decisive role. Has anything changed in the Swedish DNA in the decades following Bernadotte’s death? Nothing has changed.
The Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, in the covert anti-Semitism which characterizes her, along with her ignorance and arrogance, and anticipation of the interests of her future Muslim voters–she too is attempting to battle against the basic foundation of the State of Israel. I am certain that her intentions will be defeated, just as were those of the disreputable Count Bernadotte.
Bernadotte was assassinated by Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang, the same Jewish terrorist group that carried out the Deir Yassin massacre. Zameret’s glorification of his murder doesn’t seem entirely lucid or rational–during World War II Bernadotte negotiated the release of 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps, including a large number of Jews. After the war, he became the UN Security Council’s unanimous choice, in a vote on May 20, 1948, to try and mediate a settlement in the Palestine-Israeli conflict.
His murder took place September 17, 1948, carried out by a four-man team of assassins. The Stern Gang had been around since 1940. Its stated goal was to terminate the British mandate in Palestine and set up a “new totalitarian Hebrew republic,” and one of its members, Yithak Shamir, ended up becoming an Israeli prime minister. It was Shamir, in fact, who ordered Bernadotte’s assassination. The man who actually pulled the trigger, Yehoshau Cohen, later became a close confidante of David Ben Gurion and was never charged in the case.
In October of 2014, shortly after Wallström took over as foreign minister, Sweden became one of the first Western countries to recognize Palestinian statehood. Wallström called it “an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination” and added that “We hope that this will show the way for others.”
In November of last year, shortly after the Paris terror attacks, Wallström suggested that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians could be helping to fuel terrorism. She followed that up with a comment in December about Israeli “extrajudicial executions,” and this month called for an investigation of Israel.
“Whether Zameret advocates Wallstrom’s demise explicitly or implicitly is hardly important,” comments Silverstein. “Even if you accept the argument that he isn’t explicit, clearly the reason Bernadotte failed in his mission is that Jewish terrorists assassinated him. When you say you wish her intentions to be defeated just as his were, the line between murder and political defeat becomes exceedingly murky.”
Boycott Sweden! say Israeli Mayors
But of course it isn’t just Zameret. Lots of people in Israel despise Wallström and have “vociferously attacked her contentious words,” as an article here puts it. And this apparently applies to a good many Israeli officials. The same article goes on to give us the low-down on a “boycott movement” launched by 15 Israeli mayors and aimed at Sweden. The mayors were planning to attend a conference in the Scandinavian country in March, but recently announced they have cancelled, while former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also called for a boycott of Ikea.
War With Spain
In November of last year, a Spanish judge issued arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and six other officials in connection with Israel’s 2010 raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a violent episode in international waters which resulted in the deaths of 10 people.
The warrants were issued by Judge Jose de la Mata, and in effect meant that should any of the seven officials set foot on Spanish soil they would be subject to arrest.
“Spain is just the latest member of the international community to accuse Israel of war crimes and pursue Israeli officials over the affair,” the Jerusalem Post reported at the time. And that is indeed correct. Both South Africa and Turkey had previously issued similar warrants.
Predictably, the Israeli government expressed hostility and outrage.
“We consider it to be a provocation,” said an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson. “We are working with the Spanish authorities to get it cancelled. We hope it will be over soon.”
What do you suppose the words “working with Spanish authorities” might imply? Did it include issuing threats? Whatever it was, it took only two months to accomplish. The arrest warrants were in fact cancelled, according to a report published January 13 by the Adelson-owned Israel Hayom newspaper.
War with Brazil
Brazil, on the other hand, seems to be showing a little more resilience. According to a report here, “Israel and Brazil remain at loggerheads five months after Brazil refused to recognize Israel’s appointment of a right-wing settler as its next envoy to the South American country.”
“Settlers are Zionist agents that the world cannot accept, they steal others’ land, they are an insult to Brazil, to the government, and to millions of Brazilians with roots in the Arab world,” said Brazilian parliament member Carlos Maron.
Maron isn’t alone. A group of 40 retired Brazilian diplomats signed a statement against the appointment of Dani Dayan, who lives in the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Shomron, in the Occupied West Bank. Dayan is an advocate of the settler movement and has made no secret of his views, having widely published articles in the mainstream media, including the New York Times.
“We consider it unacceptable that the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has publicly announced the name of the person he intended to appoint as his country’s new Ambassador to Brazil before submitting it, in accordance to the norm, to our Government,” said the diplomats. The announcement of Dayan’s appointment was reportedly posted initially on Twitter rather than being communicated directly to the Brazilian government.
The statement continues:
This rupture with a diplomatic practice seems to have been on purpose, an attempt to establish facts, since the appointed, Dani Dayan, between 2007 and 2013, was the President of the Yesha Council, responsible for the settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal by the international community, and has already declared himself contrary to the creation of the Palestinian State, which counts on the support of the Brazilian Government and was already recognized by over 70% of the UN member States.
Reportedly a group of 200 Brazilian academics have also endorsed a boycott of Israel. Netanyahu has refused to withdraw Dayan’s nomination or to appoint someone more acceptable to the Brazilians. If the Brazilian government stands its ground, it will mean a de facto end to diplomatic relations between the two countries.
War with the EU
On January 18, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council reaffirmed requirements that export products from the Israeli settlements be labeled as such. More or less as with Sweden, Spain, and Brazil, the EU’s action has prompted cries of Israeli outrage. Netanyahu pronounced his unwillingness to “accept the fact that the EU labels the side being attacked by terror,” while ‘Justice’ Minister Ayelet Shaked called the EU measure “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.”
Likewise, opposition party leader Isaac Herzog (supposedly a liberal) compared it to the “Zionism equals Racism” resolution passed by the UN in 1974, while Yair Lapid, another opposition party member, denounced the EU for “capitulating to the worse elements of jihad.”
War Against the BDS Movement
In summer of 2015, ‘Justice’ minister Shaked announced she was preparing lawsuits against BDS activists. The announcement was reported at the time by the Times of Israel in a story which also mentions that Shaked has expanded one of the departments within her ministry in order to “push ahead with the program as soon as possible.”
Ministry officials believe that legal circumstances present the option of suing activists for damaging Israeli trade, and for discrimination and racism, based upon laws as they currently exist in various countries, the report said.
So far as I’m aware, no lawsuits have been filed against individual activists, however Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home Party, seems to be generally in support of the idea of striking back in some manner at the BDS movement.
“Let it be clear to any company or organization that’s considering boycotting us: We will hit back. We will attack our attackers. We will boycott our boycotters,” Bennett said.
“The boycott weapon is a double-edged sword,” he added. “If you’re thinking of boycotting Israel, keep in mind that there are tens of millions of Israel supporters around the world — Jews and non-Jews — with considerable buying power and boycott power. Whoever boycotts Israel will be boycotted. Whoever hits Israel, will be hit back. We will no longer remain silent.”
Bennett’s comments about the “tens of millions of Israel supporters around the world” are perhaps salient. Also last summer, Adelson hosted an anti-BDS summit in Las Vegas with the aim of establishing and funding “successful strategies for countering the wave of anti-Israel activity on college campuses.” Held at the billionaire’s Venetian hotel on the Vegas strip, the conference was attended by a number of wealthy Jews, including Haim Saban.
“The key decision reached at the conference was that there would be a concerted effort to curtail BDS,” reported the Jerusalem Post.
Though Netanyahu did not attend, a letter from him was read aloud to the conference participants. “De-legitimization of Israel must be fought, and you are on the front lines. It’s not about this or that Israeli policy. It’s about our right to exist here as a free people,” the letter stated.
Reportedly the Israeli government intends to allocate NIS 100 million, or roughly $25.2 million, to the anti-BDS effort.
War Against Academic Associations
At a business meeting held in November, members of the American Anthropological Association voted overwhelmingly (88.4 percent) in favor of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. A similar measure was passed that same month by the National Women’s Studies Association Executive Committee. These aren’t the first boycott actions taken by academic organizations in the US. The American Studies Association, The Association for Asian American Studies, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association have all passed academic boycott measures against Israel. And this is just in the US.
Measures have also been passed by academic organizations in Brazil, South Africa, Canada, the UK, and, of course, in Palestine, and probably elsewhere. And perhaps most recently a group of 71 British doctors have called upon the World Medical Association to expel the Israeli Medical Association. The physicians have accused Israeli doctors of “medical torture” on Palestinian patients and want to see a ban on joint projects with Israeli universities.
On January 20, the Science and Technology Committee of the Israeli Knesset held a meeting to discuss the issue (H/T Helvena). A press release on the discussion which took place can be found here on the Knessett’s website. One of those who gave input at the meeting was Peretz Lavie, president of Technion, or the Israeli Institute of Technology.
“We have no complaints against the global academic leadership; our problem is the campuses,” Lavie said. “Initially it was insignificant campuses, but it quickly spread to leading campuses in the United States.”
When Lavie says he has “no complaints against the global academic leadership” he is probably referring to the Association of American Universities, which on January 14, in response to the vote by the Anthropological Association, re-issued an earlier statement in opposition to academic boycotts. The AAU is an organization whose leadership consists of the presidents and chancellors of the 60 universities (in both the US and Canada) that are its members. Membership is by invitation only. The group’s statement opposing boycotts was initially released in 2013 in response to the boycott actions taken by the American Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies associations.
The group’s re-release of that canned statement from more than two years ago was described by the Jerusalem Post as “a blow to the BDS movement.”
“Students who are exposed to this activity will be the next generation’s senators, and therein lies the great danger in the long term,” Lavie went on in his testimony before the Science and Technology Committee.
“In its report, the American Anthropological Association referred to us as universities of apartheid and decided to conduct a survey on whether the Israeli academia should be boycotted. We have to reach all 12,000 members of the Association. It is a symptom, and if we do not act now, it will spread. There must be one entity that will concentrate all the efforts related to this issue,” he added.
Another person who gave testimony was Ze’ev Feldman of the Israel Medical Association. It was Feldman who informed the committee of the recent statement by the 71 British doctors.
”The sword of the boycott is being raised on the Israeli scientific-medical community,” he said.
Ariel University Chancellor Yigal-Cohen Orgad asserted that Israel has “a real problem with governments, including western governments that encourage boycotts,” while Professor Zvi Ziegler warned, “We are unable to stop anyone with our meager resources.”
Several committee members are also quoted, including Chairman Uri Maklev:
“There is no doubt that the academic boycott phenomenon is expanding and is connected to the financial and consumer boycotts on Israel. Economic and commercial boycotts are associated with politics, but an academic boycott by educated and moderate people has a very strong effect.”
But rather than calling for an end to the settlements, most of the committee members seemed to be of the opinion that the Israeli government needed to devote more resources to fighting the boycott movement. The one exception to this was Arab Knesset member Basel Ghattas:
The world considers the settlements to be illegitimate. You can think differently from the entire world, it is your right, but it is also the world’s right to take measures in order to force you to establish two states.
War with the UN
On October 1, 2015, Netanyahu gave a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that was marked by a 45-second segment during which he paused and projected hostile glares out at those present:
On January 26, 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon broke the UN’s “deafening silence” and, in a rare display of courage, issued a scathing criticism of Israel’s settlement policies.
Progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise.
Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community. They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.
I am deeply troubled by reports today that the Israeli Government has approved plans for over 150 new homes in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
This is combined with its announcement last week declaring 370 acres in the West Bank, south of Jericho, as so-called “state land”. These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead.
The inevitable furious response came quickly, with Netanyahu excoriating the UN chief for helping to “stoke terror.”
“There is no justification for terrorism,” he said. “The Palestinian terrorists don’t want to build a state; they want to destroy a state, and they say that proudly. They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don’t murder for peace and they don’t murder for human rights.”
He went on to assert that the UN has “lost its neutrality and its moral force, and these statements by the Secretary-General do nothing to improve its situation.”
A Lack of Imagination?
Perhaps most striking in all this is the Israeli lack of imagination–or at least that is one way of looking at it. Nowhere in his hostile comments aimed at his various enemies on the global stage does Netanyahu give the slightest indication of having once thought about halting the settlements and pulling back to Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 borders. Ditto with the other Israeli officials quoted above, with the lone exception of the Arab Knessett member. It is almost as if the idea has never even occurred to them.
If that is the case, one could perhaps ascribe all of this to a lack of imagination. Certainly at this point, after 68 years of oppression, it probably does indeed require considerable imagination to conceive of how the two peoples could live at peace. But of course it wasn’t always so. And had Israel, starting in 1967, respected the people of the West Bank, and above all else respected their space rather than crowding them in with settlements and walls and soldiers, a peaceful resolution to the conflict probably could have and would have been achieved by this time.
Yet even now, it isn’t too late. Though it would be politically difficult, Israel could dismantle its settlements (anything is possible when the national will is present) and pull back to the pre-1967 borders–basically the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative proposed back in 2002. If necessary, and it probably would be for a lengthy period of time, UN peacekeeping troops could be deployed along the border.
But Israel’s response to the Arab Peace Initiative was to call it a “non-starter,” and that seems to be its position today as well. And not only is there little prospect of dismantling of presently-existing settlements, but we see even a refusal to halt the construction of new ones. All of which would suggest that Ban Ki-moon is correct and that the settlement enterprise raises “fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.”
Or in other words, Israel has no intentions of making peace.
Certainly it’s possible that things could change, and that a new slate of leaders could arise in Israel with the imagination necessary to see the wisdom of complying with international norms of conduct. And that is what its more liberal Jewish supporters in America seem to be hoping for. But failing this, Israel’s wars with the rest of the world are likely to grow in stridency and ferociousness, and at some point could expand from the realms of diplomacy and/or covert operations fully outright into the military arena.