The Islamic Republic of Iran has dispatched its third consignment of humanitarian aid to war-ravaged people in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo.
The head of the Relief and Rescue Organization of the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), Morteza Salimi, told IRIB that the shipment included 150,000 food cans.
He added that two consignments of relief aid, weighing about 80 tonnes, have already been sent to the crisis-hit city over the past two days. They included tents, blankets and oil heaters.
The IRCS official noted that Iran has so far dispatched 28,000 blankets, 400 tents, 800 rugs, 5,000 oil heaters, 1,400 boxes of dried bread, eight tonnes of medicines, 700 sets of dishware and 165,000 food cans to people in Aleppo.
The UN Syria humanitarian advisor, Jan Egeland, said in the Swiss city of Geneva on Thursday that Russia has proposed setting up four humanitarian corridors to militant-held eastern Aleppo in a bid to let in aid and facilitate evacuations from the battered Syrian city.
Egeland further estimated at least 400 injured people are in need of urgent medical evacuation, adding that talks will be held on using “these corridors to get medical supplies and food in.”
By Wednesday, some 18,000 people had entered Aleppo’s government-controlled areas while about 8,500 had crossed into Sheikh Maqsoud, a Kurdish-held Aleppo district, the UN official said.
Over the past few days, about 30,000 people have received aid after fleeing eastern Aleppo, taking the total number of displaced people in the city to over 400,000, he said.
In another development on Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that it was discussing with the Syrian government the issue of gaining access to people fleeing eastern Aleppo.
Dominik Stillhart, director of ICRC operations worldwide, said the Geneva-based humanitarian institution was in touch with all sides to be able to deliver supplies to trapped civilians and to evacuate the wounded.
The movement against South African apartheid was perhaps the most universal and popular movement in the western world in the 1980s. Hundreds of thousands protested in a multitude of ways—from letter-writing campaigns to shantytown occupations of city squares and college campus greens. Institutions of all types, from churches to universities, from corporations and banks to city halls, were forced to remove their investments from companies doing business with the racist South African regime, ultimately forcing that regime to end its racist legal system. Even the right wing Reagan and Thatcher regimes were ultimately forced to end their support for Pretoria’s racist system and grudgingly go along with the popular will.
However, as Ron Nixon’s new book, titled Selling Apartheid, makes clear, the South African regime was not going to go down without a fight. In addition to police and military actions of varying brutality, the regime hired advertising men to sell their brand of repression to people and governments around the world. The campaign he describes involved a cynical manipulation of emotions about race, implied white supremacist chauvinism, and outright lies. Advertising campaigns presented South Africa as a tourist destination full of beauty and the perfect climate (which it had) with absolutely no mention of the racial discrimination built into its social and political systems. Glossy photo spreads were bought in newspaper and magazines and television programs were made and sold to television networks in the United States and Britain. These shows were then shown to the unsuspecting viewer as if they were made by agencies independent of the apartheid government and their only agenda was tourism.
In a particularly cynical move, the South African government was able to buy off a few African-Americans over the years in what was ultimately a vain attempt to convince Black Americans that apartheid was okay. The first of these individuals was a former supporter of the Black resistance movement in South Africa, Max Yergan. In what can only be described as a complete sell out, Yergan went from working with early members of what would become the primary resistance organization against apartheid—the African National Congress(ANC)—to giving speeches in the United States and Africa aimed at convincing his audiences that apartheid helped Blacks. Once a committed left-winger, Yergan came under pressure during the McCarthy era in the United States, became an informer for the FBI, and turned against his friends in South Africa; friends that included freedom fighters Nelson Mandela and Joseph Tambo. Yergan was but the first of a few such individuals who would follow in his treacherous footsteps.
The bottom line for the white South African regime and the United States was money. Several US companies had millions invested in South African industry. These companies took advantage of the cheap labor (and maximized profits resulting from that labor) and minimal regulations offered by the Pretoria regime. In turn, they either supported or at the least, tacitly accepted the racism and brutality that defined the apartheid system. Consequently, it was these corporations and financial institutions that were targeted by the anti-apartheid movement’s divestment campaign. Churches, universities, and other institutions that had investments in such companies were ultimately convinced to drop those investments. Sometimes that convincing was purely of a moral plea, other times it required a concerted effort that combined direct action, monetary boycotts, and legislative pressure.
As an advocate of the current campaign against Israeli apartheid, it was more than interesting to compare the similarities in the campaign waged against the movement against South Africa’s apartheid and that currently waged against the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement of today. Residents of western nations are constantly barraged with imagery that attempts to portray the Tel Aviv government as a beacon of fairness and democracy in the Middle East. Furthermore, one is constantly told that the Palestinians who resist the occupation of their lands and the ever-present system of discrimination are nothing but terrorists. This latter phenomenon was also the case in South Africa. Indeed, the ANC was not removed from the US list of “terrorist” organizations until 2008, more than fifteen years after apartheid met its well-deserved end. Of course, there are specific differences between the two systems of separation referred to here, but the essential fact apartheid is true for the historic South African regime and the current Israeli one.
Ron Nixon’s text is an essential addition to the volume of work on South Africa’s apartheid regime. Rich in detail, it provides the reader with an extended look at the nature of propaganda in modern society. A one-time journalist for the New York Times, Nixon makes his argument with facts and writing that is both accessible and engaging. In doing so, he exposes the moral vacuousness of those who propagandized for the racists of South Africa not because they necessarily believed in apartheid, but because they made money from doing so. Furthermore, in his telling Nixon doesn’t just rake the white South African regime over the coals, he also points his pen at the equally deserving US and British governments, especially those of Reagan and Thatcher. In terms of how the world seems to work, Selling Apartheid is a tawdry yet familiar tale.
Another symbolic international day for Palestinian rights has degenerated into the usual stale observations and recommendations that do little other than try to impart a semblance of balance between the coloniser and the colonised. Perhaps the UN has preferred to remain loyal to the monstrous history it spawned by approving the Partition Plan on 29 November 1947, rather than address its complicity in the dispossession, ethnic cleansing and displacement of the Palestinians.
Departing from a jeopardising premise, Fiji’s Peter Thomson presided over the 71st session of the UN General Assembly and declared that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is “fundamental to our efforts to realise the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and to ensure that they are able to enjoy lives of dignity, opportunity, prosperity and equality.” The Palestinian people have endured a history of premeditated killing for decades because the UN upholds obscurity as a priority over the anti-colonial struggle. Peace, therefore, can be eliminated from the convenient rhetoric as it is nothing but a euphemism for oblivion in the context of Israeli colonial violence and international acceptance and complicity.
Not to be outdone, the Head of the EU Delegation to the UN, João Vale de Almeida, presented a summarised version of the perpetual concerns and condemnations, but added a slight variation to the usual rhetoric. The EU, he claimed, is “alarmed by the advancement in the Knesset of the ‘Settlement Regularisation Bill’ which would allow for the ex post ‘legalisation’ of Israeli outposts in the occupied West Bank and de facto confiscation of private Palestinian land.” It is mystifying, to say the least, how an international institution that is normally so well-informed can express “alarm” over violations that have occurred blatantly and in a clear, calculated sequence following the original Zionist plan for Greater Israel. There was more likely to be advance knowledge and acquiescence, not alarm, over the proposed legislation.
Almeida made another obfuscating comment regarding Gaza: “Militant activity and the dire situation in Gaza feed general instability and constitute a recipe for renewed conflict.” He provided no context for the Palestinian resistance in Gaza; no mention of how Israel’s Operation Protective Edge destroyed the enclave and displaced Palestinians in a space that is completely besieged. Hamas “and other militant groups” are also urged to stop “the illicit arms build-up.” Presumably the EU, like Israel, wishes there to be a defenceless population that is completely stripped of the right to defend itself against Israel’s state of the art military technology. Almeida’s statement encourages the abuse of Palestinian civilians by Israel whenever it chooses to field test its latest weapons on live targets before marketing them internationally and thus exposing international hypocrisy with regards to alleged support for Palestinian rights.
Perhaps the symbolic commemoration of “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” should be scrapped, since the UN, the EU and other international institutions are incapable of articulating the trajectory between the initial and the current colonial violence against Palestinians. All of the futile statements which simply rehash decades of other repetitive rhetoric do not help the Palestinians in any way. Sporting a keffiyeh for the macabre day, which is a backdoor commemoration of the UN Partition Plan as well as purported international solidarity, is humiliating, not a show of support. In the absence of a commitment to support Palestine’s anti-colonial struggle, one can conclude that the international agenda for this “day of support” is to devaluate Palestine and downgrade it even further from a symbolic presence to a passive memory.
Umm al-Kheir, Occupied South Hebron Hills – Almost nothing in Palestine is what you expect for the most part. And, this is so true of the negative things you see. No matter how bad you think things are or expect them to be, you are almost always guaranteed that they will be worse (usually much worse) when you actually see them. And if you tell people the truth you may be thought to be making things up. But, this is Palestine and things are this unbelievable and this bad. This was true today for me (to put it mildly). Part of our team was invited by an “inspector” from the United Nations office based here in Al Khalil to go to a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills where a demolition took place yesterday.
The two demolished structures – with the illegal settlement in the background
Throughout my multiple trips here I’ve been to numerous house demolitions and even sat with families throughout the night waiting for the Israeli Occupation Forces to arrive to demolish a home. I was not ready for what I saw today. On our way to the village our U.N. inspector told us a bit of the history/story of the village. But, when we arrived I just wanted to vomit and I still have a knot in my stomach as I write this. The village of Umm Al Khair was established in 1952 on land the villagers purchased. They have the deed to prove ownership. The village is currently made up of approximately 140 Bedouin (registered) refugees, (approximately 28 families) who are mostly goat herders and farmers. They came here to the West Bank from “the 48” (Israel proper) after their home village was destroyed along with over 500 other Palestinian villages by Israeli Zionists, during the Nakba which created over 700,000 Palestinian refugees.
In 1982 the illegal colonial Zionist settlement of Carmel was established right next to them (less than 50 yards away) on land they stole from the village. Even though we couldn’t see inside the illegal settlement we were informed by the individual from the U.N. that the homes in the settlement were spacious, modern, had green grass lawns and gardens and even a small goldfish pond or two and all of the modern luxuries. In contrast, the village is made up of makeshift tents, crude metal and wood structures with dirt floors. There is no running water, no electricity, and a few crude toilet facilities.
Given that the villagers own the land, according to Israeli law, they cannot be legally evicted. However, the Zionists can make life so miserable that the villagers will give up and leave. This (in all probability) will never happen. They are strong, hopeful, and determined to stay here. This is their home. They will not leave. Even the children who have grown up here and gone off and got university degrees return here to their homes.
Rubble from the most recent demolition
Israel uses the excuse that the villagers don’t have building permits. But Israel doesn’t grant but a few building permits per year (if any) to Palestinians.
Drones routinely fly over the village photographing, looking for any sign of new construction or rebuilding and the soldiers will return and demolish again and again. And if a demolition order is given for a particular home or building, it is permanent and nothing can be built on that spot again.
There have been 5 demolitions in the past year: October 27, 2015; 1 in April 2016; 2 this past August; and the most recent one yesterday where two structures were demolished. Their Community Center which housed the kindergarten, a computer center, an after school program to help kids with homework, and a library has been demolished several times. There are some international aid programs such as the International Red Cross, several U.N. programs, and from the European Union that have helped with building materials and /or small structures for living. None of these programs, however, can help with the Community Center because it does not provide shelter for people or animals. So it is the children who suffer the brunt of these losses.
Rubble from the demolition, with the luxurious houses in the illegal settlement in the background
While one of our team members was conducting a video interview I went outside and was swarmed by young children. All smiling, laughing and excited by my presence and attention to them. All eager to show me around the village, show me their goat herds, their small playground and have me push them on the swings, take their photographs with their goats. They all appeared to be happy and none the worse for wear. But what I am describing is and has been their life. They know nothing else. It doesn’t make how these villagers are treated any less excusable. And this is only one observation from one person visiting one of the scores of similar villages throughout the West Bank. An older woman whose home was demolished in August of this year stated before we left, “We just need the demolitions to stop. We are getting sick and tired of it.” Our U.N. person then said, everyone including most of the aid programs are feeling the same way as this woman and little by little pay a bit less attention as time goes on. Even the government, The Palestinian Authority was called this morning about yesterday’s demolition and they stated they couldn’t come to look they had other things to do today.
Residential dwelling of some of the families
I’ve always thought (and said) that somewhere inside the Israeli Zionist must still have some small bit of humanity left in them. After what I witnessed today I cannot believe that there is even a shred of humanity left in any of them. Today was by far the most overwhelming and depressing day I’ve had in all of my trips here to Palestine, and I’ve seen quite a few depressing and overwhelming things during these trips.
What can you do? Join the Boycott movement in your country. Write to your elected government officials to stop funding the various degrees of genocide that Israel is committing here in Palestine. Write letters to the editor of your newspapers. Talk to your families, friends, neighbors and let them know the truth. Speak up. As long as our country continues to support the behavior of Israel with our tax dollars we are all responsible!
Resistance against the terrorists and rebels controlling eastern Aleppo has been growing among the civilian population trapped in the city, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. Eleven protests have been staged in militant-controlled areas since the beginning of the week.
In the past 24 hours alone, some 1,500 civilians in four Aleppo districts have risen up against the militants, ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov reported on Wednesday, citing intelligence data.
The demonstrations were violently suppressed by the jihadists, his statement said, adding that dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured in eastern Aleppo on Tuesday, when militants opened fire at those protesting the occupation.
On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of Syrian civilians turned to the streets in the rebel-held Bustan al-Qaser district of besieged eastern Aleppo.
The demonstrators chanted for the removal of corrupt rebel commanders and proceeded to plunder the Yarmouk Aid Centre of its goods and distributed it among the local populace.
Although initially reluctant, local rebel factions attempted to dislodge the protests by firing into the air.
Two weeks ago, the Bustan al-Qaser neighbourhood was struck by infighting as Islamist groups overran several checkpoints held by the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Fastaqim Union, effectively disbanding the latter group.
Upwards of 200,000 civilians remain besieged in eastern Aleppo while some 9,000 militants have been accused of using local residents as human shields, refusing to allow their evacuation into government-held western Aleppo.
OUR Walmart, a worker-led activist group, has devised a new app, now available for Android smartphones, that uses artificial intelligence to help workers understand company policies and legal rights. Walmart has told workers to not download the app.
The app, WorkIt, was released Monday to offer advice to Walmart workers on a host of issues, according to OUR Walmart.
OUR Walmart is a labor group, but not a union, as Walmart does not offer collective bargaining rights, which has thousands of paying members and has organized Black Friday protests at Walmart locations nationwide.
The OUR Walmart organization teamed up with software development company Quadrant 2 to develop WorkIt. The app uses IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence bot to answer concerns or questions of employee, who are only identified on the app by their username and store position. Watson accesses a database built by Walmart workers to address user questions. When Watson cannot answer one of about 200 queries, “there is a peer network of experts that will interact with the users,” Jason Van Anden, founder of Quadrant 2, told the Wall Street Journal. Watson then has the ability to learn how to answer certain questions from the peer experts.
For its part, Walmart has already addressed store managers about the app, warning that OUR Walmart is “increasingly trying to get our associates to turn over personal information to the union by using deceptive and slick looking social media and mobile apps,” according to a document reported by the WSJ.
“We just wanted to give you a heads up that if someone tries to get you to download an OUR Walmart work-related app on your mobile device, you may unknowingly be giving away valuable personal information like your location and personal contact information that the union can use however it wants,” Walmart wrote to store managers, according to Bloomberg.
“There is no way to know if the details this group is pushing are correct,” Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said in a statement. “Our people are smart and see this for what it is; an attempt by an outside group to collect as much personal and private information as possible.”
The app does not track location or ask users to submit their location, according to Cat Huang, a technologist who worked on the app.
“We’re not going to sell the data, ever,” OUR Walmart co-director Andrea Dehlendorf told Bloomberg. “We will share it with researchers and use it to inform conversations with Walmart. But it’s not part of the revenue model.”
The app’s utility emerged in the days when Walmart employees had limited time to access information on the company’s extensive human resources policy guide held on the Walmart intranet known as Wire. (The company says it has offered more access to its policies since early 2016, Bloomberg reported.) In addition, queries to OUR Walmart’s Facebook page became to much for the group to handle.
OUR Walmart directors raised money from various groups, like the Workers Lab, and hired a technologist, Huang, and a developer, Van Anden, to help create the app.
The app will also assist OUR Walmart by gathering data on specific issues that impact employees, allowing the group to address the company with hard proof of the employee experience.
“It will give us real evidence to talk to the company about what’s broken,” Dehlendorf told Bloomberg. “We have to be in a place where we can say, ‘This is the truth. We have massive data.'”
The app does not access Walmart’s policy guide directly, but offers “interpretations of the policies,” Huang told Bloomberg.
OUR Walmart said it expects about 14,000 employees, or around 1 percent of Walmart workers, to download the app by the end of 2017.
In 2016, the fundamentally undemocratic U.S. two-party system presented the public with the two most hated candidates in history. The choice was so dismal that over forty three percent of the voters could not bring themselves to go to the polls. Everyone hated one or the other of the candidates, or both. Whoever won was bound to face vehement opposition.
The unexpected shock of Donald Trump’s victory created mass hysteria, with crowds in tears going into the streets to protest – an unprecedented reaction to an uncontested election.
This hysterical opposition is not the best basis for building the new movement needed to oppose a widely rejected political establishment.
Most of the weeping and wailing comes not from Bernie Sanders supporters, who were prepared for the worst, but from those who believed the Clinton campaign claim that Trump represents nothing but various ways to “hate” other people: sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. The response is to hate Trump. This is sterile and gets nowhere politically.
Trump’s reputation as a racist fiend is largely based on excessive remarks such as his outrageous promise to build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants from entering the country – outrageous, in fact, because the wall already exists! Except that it is called a “fence”.
Washington is not about to be ruled by Nazis, but by reactionary Republicans, which are bad enough but nothing new. If Trump is better than they are on some points, that should be noted and encouraged. An effective opposition should know how to distinguish between hot air and real issues, and to judge issues on their own specific merits.
The Clinton campaign was based on the “identity politics” claim to protect women and minorities from their enemy, Trump. An opposition movement based on perpetuating that claim, with emphasis on how horrible Trump must be personally, is also likely to swallow other aspects of the Clinton campaign line, notably its anti-Russian propaganda. Incited by the mainstream media, the “left” opposition risks echoing the Clintonist accusation that “dictator” Trump is too friendly with “dictator” Putin. And the hysterical opposition will oppose the one positive element in Trump’s campaign: the desire to make business rather than war with Russia.
It is significant that the German foreign minister Ursula von der Leyen wasted no time in demanding that Trump choose between friendship with Putin on the one hand or NATO and “our shared values” on the other. This is a sign that not only the U.S. war party but also the European NATO machine will be putting pressure on Trump to pursue the very same warlike policies favored by Hillary Clinton. And the disappointed Clintonite opposition is likely to be out in the streets not to oppose wars, but to oppose Trump’s opposition to wars, all in the name of our shared democratic humanitarian values and opposition to “dictators”.
This is the danger of hysterical opposition to Trump. It would be a continuation of the worst aspects of this dreadful campaign, totally centered on denouncing individuals, and neglecting serious political questions. A progressive opposition should leave Clintonism behind and develop its own positions, starting with opposition to regime change wars – even if Trump is also against regime change wars. And indeed, it should push Trump to maintain that position, because he will be under strong pressure in Washington to give it up. The opposition should demand that Trump make good on his promise to avoid war, while opposing his reactionary domestic policies. Otherwise, we are heading for the worst of both worlds.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
On November 9, Americans woke up to the announcement that they have narrowly avoided the apparent worst-case scenario, i.e. a Hillary Clinton presidency. Most researchers and activists of good will were happy if not outright ecstatic that the wicked witch of the West was finally gone, hopefully for good. Others simply acknowledged that a change in power would take place in January, 2017 but argue that there will be no discernible difference between a Trump administration and the Obama administration just as the Bush-Obama years were those of a seamless transition.
But while we may take some temporary relief in knowing that we avoided the absolute worst-case scenario, it is time to ask, “what now?” We are faced with Donald Trump as President in 2017. So what do we do? Join the Trump team and become a cult follower? Support him until he does something terrible or commits a series of terrible decisions? Start attacking him immediately?
Certainly, complacency should not be an option. Simply sitting back because the outcome was “not as bad as it could have been” is entirely useless and counterproductive.
First, it is imperative that activists and people of good will must recognize that a Trump victory is not necessarily a victory for the American people. A Hillary defeat, although positive, does not equal a win for America, at least not in those simplistic terms.
Now is a time for organization and action.
Activists, activist organizations, and all people of good will must immediately begin to prepare themselves for a new phase in a battle that they have been (or at least should have been) fighting all along. They must begin to put aside petty differences with one another and begin looking at areas of common concern. They must continue their individual battles but must form alliances with one another in order to fight in a united front under a common umbrella. Whether the cause is related to guns, the drug war, war, GMOs, or some other issue, these individuals and organizations must come to understand the concept of enlightened mutual self interest.
Many of these groups currently do not work together over petty squabbles or simple laziness. We need individuals who are willing to establish connections with these groups and act as a uniting factor between them. This, of course, includes individual activists as well as groups. Essentially, we need someone who will be the unifying factor by establishing contacts, finding policies that unify these groups, and helping unite them (acting as the central figure) in current fights for (or against) legislation and for strategically offensive legislative action. These individuals will need to be active and willing to engage in dialogue with widely varying groups, remaining respectful of their perspectives and personal agreements/disagreements with some of their policies. Eventually, these coalitions can be brought together across the barriers of their issues for demands of interest to all.
As for the demands, any movement that seeks to bring about positive change must have a list of requirements in the form of demands or else the movement itself is dead from the start. A list of demands and a set of steady principles are absolutely necessary to the success and the continued life of any movement. For those struggling with the idea of what demands should be central to any resistance movement going forward, please see my article, “A Real New Deal For America – 43 Points.”
Where Trump and his administration are willing to forward any points of our agenda, we should be there to push him along. Where he is willing to forward the agenda of the Anglo-American system, we must be willing to fight him tooth and nail.
We must also remember that the magnitude of what we face as a people is much bigger than a President, as should be clear to anyone who is even slightly informed should be aware. Regardless, it is time that the American people become active and engaged and that activists no longer sit idly by, navel gazing and castrated by egos and selfish interests, but that they immediately begin to join forces and fight for the change they want to see.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.
Leading Palestinian BDS activist and organizer Salah Khawaja was ordered to an additional eight days of interrogation at a hearing at the Israeli military court in Petah Tikva on Wednesday, 9 November, where he was kept blindfolded throughout the hearing.
Khawaja, 45, the Secretary of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) and a leader of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall), was seized from his home on 26 October by Israeli occupation military forces. Since that time, he has been held under interrogation in Petah Tikva and barred from speaking with a lawyer.
His lawyer, Jehad Abu Raya, attended the military court hearing only to continue to be prohibited to speak with his client. Abu Raya noted that Khawaja “looked like he was emerging from a grave” and that he was blindfolded throughout the hearing. In 15 days, Israeli intelligence have conducted 27 rounds of “practically non-stop interrogation” with Salah, reported the Stop the Wall Campaign. In fact, Abu Raya noted that Khawaja has lost weight and is visibly sleep deprived and suffering the effects of over two weeks of ill-treatment and duress.
Front Line Defenders, Unadikum and Stop the Wall have issued calls for action in support of Khawaja and urging international attention to support this case of a Palestinian human rights defender targeted for his activism. … More
BDS supporters protest anti BDS activities in London
It would be slightly premature to consider the statement by the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, regarding the right of EU citizens to boycott Israel as some sort of victory. At first glance, it might look as if activism has overcome a significant hurdle, given the Israeli government’s obsession with suffocating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). A study of the brief statement actually suggests otherwise, and all in the name of freedom of expression.
Mogherini asserted that the EU “stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union”, even when such information or ideas “offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.” You just knew that there was a “but” coming: she made it equally clear that “the EU rejects the BDS campaign’s attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel.” The EU official missed the point, of course; Israel isolates itself by its contempt for international laws and conventions, along with its brutal military occupation and colonisation of Palestine.
Commenting on Mogherini’s statement, BDS Europe Campaigns Officer Riya Hassan voiced the expectation that the EU should respect “its obligations under international law and its own principles and laws by, at the very least, imposing a military embargo upon Israel,” as well as a suspension of the EU-Israel Agreement signed in 1995. The latter stipulates regulations regarding political dialogue, economic cooperation, security and cooperation on social matters, based upon the premise in Article 2 of the agreement that all provisions “shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles.” Israel has no such respect; it is a colonial entity and the EU functions as a protector of colonialism. The entire agreement should thus be declared null and void, or amended according to each entity’s characteristics, without the need to drag pretentious terms such as democracy into the equation.
Through Mogherini’s recent statement we have a clear example of how the EU actually demeans human rights and freedom of expression by utilising the discourse meant to uphold them. The entire essence of the EU’s true intentions lies in its opposition to BDS. Hence, any concession given by the EU should not be misconstrued as support, or upholding the right to freedom of expression. It is merely a recurring political ploy that ridicules the very essence of freedom. At the same time, it is through these clauses that BDS has managed to retain ground. Notwithstanding the genuine efforts of the masses which have embarked upon collective and individual efforts to boycott Israel, the fragile compromise upon which the global boycott outlook rests may well become tarnished if it continues to laud statements blatantly supportive of Israel while grudgingly allowing dissent as proof of freedom of expression.
Hence, Mogherini’s statement is not welcome. It is a calculated contribution to the debate that places Israel’s interests above the legitimate demands and legal rights of the Palestinians. BDS should distance itself from the litany of symbolic gestures that have taken precedence over genuine, active support for the anti-colonial struggle unless, that is, the movement seeks to become just another actor that thrives upon Palestinian demands as the means for the entity’s survival. If the movement’s chartered course is in the slightest way intertwined with that of the EU, however insignificant it may seem on the surface, Palestine may well be destined to accumulate festering wounds; the objective — which is already compromised due to the two-state subjugation rhetoric — will in the meantime become ever more distant from the land and the indigenous people.
Deputy chief of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qawook
Deputy chief of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qawuq stressed on Saturday that the Saudi sanctions against the party have failed to weaken it, the state-run National News Agency reported on Saturday.
“The political developments and field achievements confirm the failure of the Saudi sanctions against Hezbollah, especially since Saudi Arabia wanted to weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon which has only grown stronger at the political, popular and military levels inside Lebanon and regionally,” said Qawuq.
“By renewing sanctions and terrorism ranking against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia is but reflecting an outrage, despair and disappointment in the face of the Resistance, because the Saudi penalties have changed nothing of Hezbollah’s stances in Syria,” his eminence went on to say.
“Regardless of the pressures, we will not leave our national duty to protect our people and our nation, and we will complete the battle against takfiri terrorism, which has no choice but to be defeated in Syria, and we have no choice but to win.” added Qawuq.
He concluded: “The next phase that Lebanon is approaching will emphasize the strength of the strategic alliance between Hezbollah and Amal movement. Those who were betting on discord and division between the two were disappointed.
“If it was not for the Army, People and Resistance equation which Lebanon renews adherence to at this stage, and without the sacrifices of the Lebanese army and the resistance that has protected Lebanon from being sacked by the ISIL and al-Nusra Front, the Lebanese would not have had the chance to elect a president.”
When the call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of Israeli goods was established in 2005 in Ramallah its first demand was for Israel to:
“End[ing] its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantl[ing] the Wall” (http://www.bdsmovement.net/call)
This call didn’t leave room for interpretation. Back in 2005, the BDS movement disputed the legitimacy of the Jewish State.
But in 2010, its primary goal was changed significantly into:
“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall.”
This change didn’t leave much room for a doubt. The BDS has become an instrument to legitimise the Jewish State within its pre 1967 borders.
There was no public record of the process that led to this change. And, as if to prove its deceptive nature, the change appeared only in English and has never been integrated into any of the official BDS publications in Arabic. It is likely that most Palestinians were not aware of the change made on their behalf by people who claim to be their ‘grassroots’ representatives. My research suggested that the change in the BDS goal statement that, de facto, legitimised the Jewish State took place at the time the BDS movement became popular amongst Jewish activists and started accepting funds from liberal Zionist George Soros’s Open Society Institute.*
But the BDS campaign has now decided to change its first goal once again. It now reads:
“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall” (https://bdsmovement.net/what-is-bds)
The 2010 embarrassing reference to the 1967 Israeli occupation is now removed. However once you read the small letters, you grasp that BDS is more of a JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace) rather than a Palestinian voice. Though the goal does refer, once again, to Israeli “colonization of all Arab land,” the statement now makes it clear that it limits its demands to territories occupied in 1967:
“International law recognises the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Syrian Golan Heights as occupied by Israel. As part of its military occupation, Israel steals land and forces Palestinians into ghettos, surrounded by checkpoints, settlements, and watchtowers as supplemental to the illegal apartheid Wall. Israel has imposed a medieval siege on Gaza, turning it into the largest open air prison in the world. Israel also regularly carries out large-scale assaults on Gaza that are widely condemned as constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Though the first goal may resemble the original 2005 BDS call, in practice it is consistent with the left Zionist mantra – it opposes the occupation.
Disappointing? Not really. Treacherous? It depends on who you ask.
The truth of the matter is that the BDS is not really a Palestinian grassroots organization as it claims to be. It is an integral part of the ever growing solidarity industry. Though I don’t have any doubt about the benevolent intentions of many BDS supporters and leaders, the BDS movement has managed to unwittingly serve Israel and its interests. It has managed, for instance, to divert the essential discussion about the legitimacy of the Jewish State and the Right of Return into an endless – and meaningless – discussion about Israeli products. It, de facto, legitimized the existence of the Jewish State over the land of Palestine.
*You can read more about BDS, Soros money promoting BDS campaign here: http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/israelpalestine-and-the-queer-international-a-book-review-by.html