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UK to jail pro-Palestinian protesters

Press TV – August 20, 2017

A group of five pro-Palestinian activists in the UK face possible prison sentences after being arrested during protests outside an Israeli-owned weapons manufacturing company.

Charged with a breach of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Act, the protesters face at least six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000, the media reported Sunday.

They were arrested in July following a protest in the West Midlands town of Shenstone that forced the UAV Engines Ltd plant, a subsidiary of Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, to shut down all operations for two days.

The demonstration saw activists put small coffins outside the factory and lay down next to them to raise awareness about the Israeli regime’s record of killing Palestinian children over the years-long occupation of the country.

Palestine Action, the organization that helped organize the demonstration, said all of the accused would plead not guilty in the case.

“They [protesters] believe that the factory is complicit in illegal activity and that they were preventing a crime,” the group’s Birmingham and Manchester branches said in a statement.

A lawyer for the protesters said “the lawfulness of [Elbit and UAV Engine’s] activity in its factory” was one of the issues that they were going to discuss in the case.

Based in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Elbit produces range of military equipment, including drones, aircraft, weapon control systems, and artillery.

The company’s customers include the Israeli army, US Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, and the French Defense Ministry.

A group of European Banks and financial institutions have on several occasions boycotted the company for arming Israeli military forces despite growing criticism from the international community.

The efforts are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) global movement against Israeli companies.

The British government has been under increasing pressure from Israel to put a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

A number of universities in the UK have already banned their students from holding events in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fourth Branch

By Kary Love | CounterPunch | August 18, 2017

I am a lawyer. My pro bono clients are often those who offer nonviolent resistance to wrongs committed by our own government.

I read that, this week past, some nonviolent resisters entered a nuclear weapons storage facility in Germany.

Damn if it is not a list of many of my clients. These people are incorrigible. Next time at sentencing I will argue jail is a waste of time and public money for those sorts; you just cannot deter some people from a life of “crime.”

What a world, in which those acting peaceably for peace are criminals while those in power ordering the killing of people “for their own good” are not.

I still subscribe to law professor Francis Boyle’s view; nuclear weapons and related materiel are not property–property rights attach to legitimate things, not to criminal instrumentalia that have no use but criminal annihilation.

I’ve argued all this a few times with success and many other times not. As to the juries in cases of nonviolent resistance to injustice or in defense of higher laws, I trust them if they are allowed to hear all germane facts.

In one case in which I argued that the nonviolent defendants—who had used hand tools to dismantle a portion of a US nuclear Navy command facility—did not interfere with the defense of the USA because technical experts—whose published work the defendants had read—those defendants were innocent of sabotage charges.

We won this case in great part because of Captain James Bush’s (Ret.) testimony; the members of that jury were fully informed. Bush told the jury of 12 that as he commanded a United States nuclear submarine loaded with ‘city-busting’ weapons that he was also earning a graduate degree in International Relations and that he came to understand that he was in violation of the law every day. Hearing that from a retired commander made quite an impression. The jury rose to the occasion and acquitted, even with a hostile judge.

But it’s degenerating. The recent Espionage Act prosecutions have prevented defendants such Kiriakou et al. from even saying the word “whistleblower.” Reality Winner will be so shackled in her defense.

I have experienced this abuse of the law in nuke protest cases in US federal court–to the point I conclude such trials are Soviet Mock Potemkin Trials (back in the US, back in the US, back in the USSR).

In my judgment the jury is the 4th branch of government. The Founders knew power corrupts, and that sooner or later, the Congress, the President and the judges would abandon the Constitution for power and that only fully informed juries could stem the tide of corruption.

The Federal judges who issue orders in limine so jurors do not hear all the evidence (as to both the law and the facts) are complicit in destroying the check and balance the jury must be–as all others involved, i.e., Congress, President, judges, are beholden to the system.

In the case to which I referred above, the State Court Judge had some residual fidelity to the Constitution and we kind of boxed him in to allowing Bush to testify as he did–though I expect the Judge did not think a “military man” would have such a complicated mind, capable of rational thought and a moral code superior to his willingness to “just follow orders.”

Kinda tricky of me, I guess. But my oath is to the Constitution, not Congress, White House, or Judge–all of whom are creatures of the Constitution deserving of no respect nor obedience when they violate same (as is the ordinary course of all branches these days.)

Despite many disappointments, I still have faith in juries of ordinary people when fully informed to make “just” decisions even if necessitating deviation from the law. Thus, government fears the people so long as there is trial by jury.

This is as it should be. A government making unjust laws as ours does ought to fear its ability to convict when justice is not served by conviction. The three branches have become unmoored from being “bound down in the chains of the Constitution”–with the result it is a lawless beast.

Ultimately it will be up to the people: a nation of law, or a nation of beasts? Our “leaders” have no interest in curbing their own abuse of power. As victims of such abuse, the people are responsible, for the sake of their progeny and the future of liberty.

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

Corruption is Legal in America

Learn more at http://Represent.Us/TheProblem

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 1 Comment

Artists boycott Israel sponsored festival in Germany

MEMO | August 16, 2017

Four artists have cancelled their scheduled performances at an international festival in Berlin citing the festival’s partnership with the Israeli embassy and their support for the Palestinian call for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Pop-Kultur festival, which is due to take place in Berlin next week, is an annual event that attracts thousands of visitors. While the two-day event also boasts over 30 sponsors including several internationally recognised brands, Israel appears to be the only foreign country taking a keen interest.

Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, one of the four to cancel their performance, said in a statement posted on Facebook yesterday that she “was looking forward to playing until [I] realised the festival was sponsored by Israeli embassy”. The musician went on to say: “As things get tougher inside and outside Palestine, what each one of us can always do is show solidarity and empathy, as artists it starts by being true and faithful.”

Announcing their cancellation, the Egyptian group Islam Chipsy said on Monday that they had cancelled their performance because of the participation of the Israeli embassy. The group posted on Facebook that they wanted to make it clear that their music seeks to “resist violence, persecution and discrimination of any kind against each other”.

Mohammad Abu Hajar of the Mazzaj Rap Band, who was previously jailed in Syria for his activism, explained why his group had cancelled its appearance last week:

It did not take us a minute to know what we had to do; we will not participate in a festival that accepts the partnership with an embassy representing a state and a government – led by right-wing party Likud and Netanyahu – which openly declared on many different occasions anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Black attitudes.

“Given this and its perpetration of all previous government’s colonial behaviour, we understand the partnership with an embassy as an attempt to whitewash the image of its government and an endorsement of its behaviour.”

Abu Hajar went on to say that the festival cannot achieve its stated aim of bringing artists from different backgrounds together on one stage under such conditions. “Our stand is not against a culture, but resistance against a discriminatory, colonial government,” he added. “It is not merely an opinion that we disagree with, but a whole set of oppressive structures, manifesting themselves in the policies of the Israeli state.”

Syrian DJ and producer Hello Psychaleppo, the third artist to cancel, said on Monday that at the time he agreed to take part in the festival over a couple of months ago, he was not aware that the Israeli embassy was amongst the sponsors of the event.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) welcomed the cancellations saying in a statement released yesterday: “[PACBI] salutes the artists who have cancelled their participation in Pop-Kultur to protest Israel’s sponsorship.”

As in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, a regime of oppression and racism should never be welcomed in cultural spaces claiming to advocate for openness, inclusion and human rights.

PACBI, a founding member of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) National Committee, went on to condemn Pop-Kultur’s acceptance of Israel’s sponsorship describing the decision as “a conscious act of complicity in whitewashing Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid”.

Pop-Kultur responded to the string of cancellations in a statement yesterday to confirm that the four artists had cancelled their performances at this year’s festival due to its partnership with the Israeli embassy. They also confirmed that the Israeli embassy “partly contributes to the travel expenses for artists performing at the festival”.

Meanwhile, Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) published an open letter addressed to UK musicians scheduled to perform at Pop-Kultur calling on them to withdraw from the event.

“When you signed up to play Berlin Pop-Kultur, you possibly didn’t know that the Israeli embassy in Germany was a sponsor. Maybe you also don’t know that Palestinian civil society, living under Israeli military occupation or in exile, is appealing to artists not to take part in events sponsored by the state of Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinians’ long struggle for rights and freedom.”

“But now that you do know, will you follow the example of the musicians who have withdrawn from Pop-Kultur in the past few days?”

APUK, whose pledge to uphold the cultural boycott of Israel has been signed by more than 1,200 UK artists continued:

You have the power to tell the Palestinians they are not alone under occupation and in exile. Please use your power. Please withdraw from Berlin Pop-Kultur.

Pop-Kultur is one of several cultural festivals which the Israeli embassy has been keen to support. The Edinburgh Fringe, one of the UK’s major festivals, also partnered with the Israeli embassy. Critics say that under the banner of coexistence and cultural cooperation Israel is trying to whitewash its brutal occupation of Palestine and the long list of human rights abuses committed by its occupying forces against the Palestinians.

Read also: Palestinians protest Radiohead’s support for ‘apartheid’ Israel

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

‘Seven Days of Blockade’: UK Activists Vow to Oppose September London Arms Fair

Sputnik – 15.08.2017

LONDON – Anti-war activists from across the United Kingdom plan to gather in the UK capital in September for a week-long event in opposition to London’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the world’s largest arms fairs, a spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) group, told Sputnik.

“As far as arms fairs go this one is one of the biggest and you can quite literally buy anything here, from air to air weapons to naval armaments. The problem is that it will be hosting delegations from governments with awful human rights records, despite the fact it’s cosponsored by the Ministry of Defence and the Department of International Trade,” Andrew Smith said.

The DSEI arms fair will take place on September 12-15 at the ExCel exhibition center in east London. Activists plan to hold protests on September 4 in an attempt to disrupt the event before it can convene.

“There’s going to be seven days of blockade and protest right outside. The reasons for doing it beforehand is to try and stop the equipment from getting in. The main protest will take place on the 9th, but before then we have a number of activities lined up to address specific issues that arise from the global arms trade,” Smith said.

Over 1,600 suppliers from companies from across the world are expected to attend the DSEI fair.

“The British government talks a strong game on human rights yet on the other hand invites human rights abusers from all over the world to come to London to buy weapons,” Smith said.

CAAT recently initiated legal action against the UK government over ongoing weapons exports to Riyadh amid concern that UK-made weapons might have been used against civilians in Yemen, gripped by civil war. The High Court, however, rejected their case, arguing that the UK government’s policy in this area was rational and in compliance with international law.

July statistics released by the UK government suggest that 57 percent of the country’s defense exports went to the Middle East in 2007-2016, compared to 20 percent that went to North America and 10 percent to Europe and Asia Pacific, each.

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

‘We were influenced by Pope Francis,’ say men who vandalized Australian war memorial

RT | July 24, 2017

Four Australians who were found guilty of vandalism for removing a brass sword from a war memorial told a court that their actions were inspired by Pope Francis, referencing a message in which the pontiff said that religion cannot be used to justify war.

The men were convicted on Monday of vandalizing the memorial – which consists of a stone crucifix and a brass “sword of sacrifice” – in Brisbane’s Toowong cemetery on Ash Wednesday, March 1.

One of the defendants, 61-year-old James Joseph Dowling, told the Brisbane magistrates court ahead of the Monday ruling that Pope Francis had “influenced” them to remove the sword from the monument.

“We were influenced by Pope Francis’s words… where he said religion can never be used to justify war, and peace alone is holy,” Dowling said, as quoted by the Australian Associated Press.

“To actually go as far as to remove Jesus from the cross and replace it with a sword was the ultimate desecration of this symbol of our faith.”

Dowling said he and his partners in crime “had nothing against the memorial,” but wanted to make it better by removing the sword and using an anvil to transform it into a garden hoe.

“We didn’t set out to destroy or damage it, we wanted to transform it and improve it, which is what we did,” he said.

The 61-year-old admitted that he came up with the idea and drove the group to the cemetery. He said he brought the necessary tools, along with banners which displayed religious verses. He and the men sang a hymn as the sword was removed.

However, Dowling denied being the group’s ringleader.

Last week, the court viewed a series of short clips and pictures, which showed Dowling and accomplice Tim Webb removing the brass sword.

The footage showed Dowling scaling the cross, cutting the 1.8 meter sword free with a hacksaw after he failed to remove it with a crowbar.

Webb is then seen using a mallet and anvil to beat the sword into a plough shape.

Speaking to police on the day of the incident, Dowling admitted to removing the sword. When asked whether he was authorized to do so, he said he had “higher permission.”

Dowling and Webb were accompanied at the scene of the crime by Dowling’s son Franz and a man by the name of Andrew Paine. All of the men are reportedly members of the Catholic Workers Movement.

Following the Monday verdict, Dowling and Webb were ordered to pay AU$17,812 (US$14,155) in repairs between them, the Brisbane Times reported.

Dowling also received a three-month jail term, suspended for three months, and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. Webb also received 100 hours of community service.

Paine, who video-taped the vandalism and emailed a press release informing the media of the incident, was convicted and fined AU$1,500 (US$1,192).

Dowling’s son Franz, who played guitar and sang hymns during the protest, was fined $1,000. However, no conviction was recorded.

During the sentencing, Queensland chief magistrate Ray Rinaudo told the men that they “simply cannot do this with impunity and think you can hide behind your beliefs. It doesn’t work like that.”

Outside the court on Monday, Dowling said their civil disobedience was simply part of a tradition dating back to Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi.

“We are just carrying on that tradition, by doing something which might seem shocking but it is not the wrong thing to do,” he said, apologizing to any veterans who were offended by the action.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

‘Palestinians reject Israel’s system of apartheid and racial discrimination’

RT | July 24, 2017

The escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t religious, it’s about the rights of Palestinian people to be free from the longest occupation in modern history, says Mustafa Barghouti, the General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended all ties with Israel on Friday after deadly clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli police. Protests broke out after Israeli authorities installed security cameras and metal detectors at the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.

Temple Mount, or Haram esh-Sharif as it is known to Muslims, is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. For Jews, it is believed to have been the site of two biblical temples, the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the hill is Islam’s third holiest site.

The Arab League has warned Israel about crossing “a red line” in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the sacred city of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, an Israeli minister said the metal detectors that triggered the violence will remain.

The League’s foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Wednesday.

RT: Palestinian President Abbas suspended all relations with Israel. How would you comment on that? Are you surprised?

Mustafa Barghouti: No, I am not, actually. He should have done that some time ago because the Israeli behavior is a behavior that wants to kill any possibility of peace in this place. Its policy is directed at destroying the two-state solution either by the measures they are taking at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a very provocative act or by the law they have just passed which prohibits even negotiations over Jerusalem or by the increased settlement activities which have exceeded any previous expansion before. All these factors have led to this reaction. They have killed three of our people and injured no less than 432 demonstrators. All the people were just praying peacefully, I was there myself, and I saw myself – there was no violence from the Palestinian side and suddenly we were attacked with bullets, with the clubs, they were very aggressive toward the Palestinian prayers.

RT: Surely Israel has the right to step up security given what has happened [two Israelis policemen were killed at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July,14]? Can you understand Israel’s nervousness?

MB: No, I think Netanyahu has heard his own security people advising him to take away these metal detectors and stop changing the status quo in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but he didn’t listen to them. He proceeded by listening to the extreme ministers in his cabinet. The result is this explosion that we see. Not only in Jerusalem but all over the West Bank. You must understand this is not a religious conflict. This is about national rights; this is about the right of the Palestinian people to be free from occupation. To get their freedom after 50 years of occupation which is the longest occupation in modern history. This is about people rejecting to be treated as third class citizens; this is about rejecting a system of apartheid and racial discrimination that Israel has created. To people in Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territories, people are saying “enough is enough, we cannot take it anymore, we want our freedom, we want our independence.”  This is the essence of what is happening.

‘Palestine freezing contacts with Tel Aviv is right move amid constant Israeli provocations’

RT: What is your reaction to the move by Palestinian President Abbas to freeze all contacts with Israel?

Miko Peled, peace activist: It is certainly the right move. Israeli provocations have led to these massive protests; this is definitely the right approach and the right move. We need also to remember Israel has been denying two million people in Gaza water and electricity in this terrible heat – people are dying of thirst and heat just a 45-minute drive away from Jerusalem. Israel has been engaged in serious provocations against the Palestinians.

RT: What is your opinion about the Israeli argument that more security measures are needed?

MP: The presence of the Israeli security forces in the old city of Jerusalem, around the Al Al-Aqsa Mosque are a constant provocation to the Palestinians and an infringement of the Palestinians’ right to practice their faith, to worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque… And the provocation is not just an existence of this huge number of forces but also the way they behave, the way they treat the Palestinians, the way they arrest youth, the constant harassment as people try to get in and out of the old city, in and out of the holy sanctuary. So, to expect that there will be such oppression on the rights of Palestinians and there will be no violence in return is a little naïve. But we have to look at the fact that the main form of resistance has been in a form of civil disobedience with thousands of worshipers refusing to go through the metal detectors, standing outside the mosque and praying peacefully albeit standing under the weapons and the guns of the Israeli security forces…

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack

Photo by ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER | CC BY 2.0
By Jack Heyman | CounterPunch | July 21, 2017

The ink wasn’t even dry on the West Coast longshore contract when the head of the employers’ group, the Pacific Maritime Association, proposed an additional 3-year extension to the president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), making it an eight-year contract. While the number of registered longshore jobs, 14,000, is the about same as in 1952, revenue tonnage has increased 14 times to a record-breaking 350 million revenue tons.

Under the current contract employers have already eliminated hundreds of longshore jobs through automation on marine terminals like the fully-automated Long Beach Container Terminal and semi-automated TraPac in the port of Los Angeles. “By the end of an extended contract in 2022, several thousand longshore jobs will be eliminated on an annual basis due to automation” warned Ed Ferris, president of ILWU Local 10 of San Francisco. With driverless trucks and crane operators in control towers running three cranes simultaneously, the chances of serious and deadly accidents are enormous.

Now maritime employers are pulling out all stops to push through this job-killing contract extension, using both Democratic and Republican politicians, high-powered PR firms and even some union officials.

A Chronicle op-ed appeared this week by Democrat Mickey Kantor, former Secretary of Commerce who was responsible for creating the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Association which lost millions of jobs and Norman Mineta, another Democrat former Secretary of Commerce, from the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. The first public relations firm was hired by Rockefeller to clean up his public image after nearly 100 people, men, women and children were killed in a 1914 Colorado miners strike known as the Ludlow Massacre and employers continue to use PR firms today.

The authors of this week’s SF Chronicle pro-company PR piece talk of preserving “labor peace” and refer to West Coast port shutdowns over the last 15 years. Yes, there is a class war on the waterfront, but it’s being waged by the employers. Those port closures were caused by employer lockouts in 2002, 2013 and 2014 during longshore contract negotiations. The 2002 lockout was ended after Democrat Diane Feinstein called on President Bush to invoke the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act directed not against the maritime employers’ lockout but the longshore union. The only time the ILWU shutdown Pacific Coast ports in that period was May Day 2008 to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first-ever labor strike in the United States against a war.

The two Democrats cite distorted figures for wages and pensions that only reflect the highest skill level after a lifetime of work in one of the most dangerous industries. And then they threaten that “if the contract proposal is rejected” it could lead Republicans and Democrats alike to impose anti-strike legislation on the waterfront. The ILWU backed Bernie Sanders in the last election and then Hillary Clinton. Yet no matter who leads it, the Democratic Party represents the employer class, Wall Street on the waterfront. Clearly what’s needed now is a workers party to fight for a workers government that would expropriate the maritime industry, in ports and at sea, while establishing workers control.

The so-called “friends of labor” Democrats have been enlisted by PMA because earlier this year at the Longshore Caucus, a union meeting representing dockworkers on all West Coast ports, the San Francisco longshore delegates voted unanimously to oppose a contract extension. Last week they held a conference at their union hall on automation and the proposed contract extension. One proposal was to make automation benefit dockworkers by reducing the workweek to 30 hours while maintaining 40 hours pay, creating another work shift.

There are tens of millions of unemployed in this country. The labor movement should launch a new campaign for a shorter workweek at no loss in pay as part of a struggle for full employment to benefit all, not Trump and his Wall Street bankster cronies. In resisting the push for this contract extension to automate jobs out of existence, ILWU waterfront workers can stand up for all workers.

Jack Heyman is a retired Oakland longshoreman who edits the Maritime Worker Monitor and chairs the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Palestinians protest Radiohead’s support for ‘apartheid’ Israel

MEMO | July 17, 2017

A group of Palestinians from the UK, besieged Gaza, occupied West Bank and Israel have co-authored a letter to the British rock band, Radiohead, over their controversial decision to hold a concert in Israel later this week.

The band’s decision to go ahead with the concert is a “slap in the face to Palestinians across the world” and a “betrayal of all social justice movements”, the group said. They urged Radiohead to reconsider their decision, which activists say grants legitimacy to an apartheid regime and gives support to political oppression.

Earlier this month Radiohead, who became a worldwide hit in the 1990s, announced their decision to play at a concert in Israel. Their decision angered fans and supporters of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s half a decade occupation of Palestine. Protests against the decision by the rock band, however, fell on deaf ears as the group insisted on playing in Israel while maintaining that “music, art and academia is about crossing borders, not building ones”.

In the two page letter, the group, which consists mainly of Palestinian academics and students, accused Radiohead of hypocrisy and supporting apartheid. They describe Radiohead’s “excuses” as no different to the excuse used by artists who played in South Africa during the height of the anti-apartheid movement against white rule. “Based on your responses to BDS, we wonder if you too would have performed in Sun City while Nelson Mandela and others rotted in Robben Island prison?” they asked.

They pointed out that hundreds of South African organisations and trade unions support the BDS campaign because in Israel they see very similar – if not exactly the same – system of political subjugation. “Indeed many South Africans,” the group stressed. “who have visited Palestine concluded that the situation is ‘worse’ than apartheid.”

The group urged Radiohead to open its eyes and see the routine violence and indignity faced by Palestinians, the daily human rights violations and abuses carried out by Israel before re-considering their decision.

Describing details of the their ongoing persecution, the group said:

We are segregated, held and humiliated at hundreds of checkpoints, we watch our houses be demolished, we are denied freedom of movement, equal access to water, healthcare, education and face a separate discriminatory legal system. We live under Israeli F16s and Elbit Drones, we face Merkhava tanks, and electricity cut to three hours a day. This, Radiohead, is known as apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

In their letter, they urged Radiohead to take a moment and think what it is like to live in Gaza: “[A] child as young as eight has had to endure three brutal Israeli bombing campaigns,” they wrote, adding: “Think what it must be like to live in perpetual exile in refugee camps sometimes only a few kilometres from home and yet forbidden from returning.”

Radiohead was also encouraged to consider the discriminatory political system that governs the lives of Palestinians: “Think what it must be like to live under an intricate system of apartheid that forbids you from travelling on certain roads, living in certain places and even accessing fundamental resources such as water.”

“Millions of us are imprisoned behind walls and barriers and if we want to cross we have to beg our occupiers for permission which is often denied to us. Everyday Palestinians in Gaza are dying because they cannot leave the outdoor prison Israel has created and access lifesaving medical care.”

Everyday Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, harassed, turned away and sometimes even shot.

The Palestinian group described their frustrations over Radiohead’s attitude towards activists attempting to raise these concerns. The letter mentions that when activists tried to bring this matter to the attention of the band they were called “fucking people” and that one of the members stuck their middle finger at them.

“These people were not just allies of Palestinians who have fought tirelessly for our freedom, they were also Radiohead fans,” the group said. “Fans who have seen you engage with politics and various causes for social justice around the world over the decades.”

The letter cites activist and author Naomi Klein who is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause including BDS. Radiohead is apparently an avid fan of the Canadian author but in the letter the Palestinian group accuse the band of hypocrisy, because of their claim to support social justice on the one hand while also attacking the global BDS movement.

One of the activists who signed the letter spoke to MEMO about her campaign to stop Radiohead performing in Israel. British-Palestinian, Huda Ammori, a student at Manchester University, mentioned that Radiohead performed at her university on 5 July. Activists from Manchester Palestine Action held a demonstration outside the venue and spoke to thousands of Radiohead fans about the need for a cultural boycott of Israel. She said that she managed to push her way to the front to protest Radiohead’s decision by showing solidarity to the Palestinian case for all the spectators to see.

“Radiohead performing in Israel is a mockery of the suffering of the Palestinian people. Radiohead have continued to disregard the Palestinian people and have mocked the supporters of the Palestine cause,” Ammori said. She pointed to the hypocrisy of Radiohead. “They claim to care about ‘social justice’ by showing some support for the people of Tibet and through their lyrics,” she said, “however, now their lyrics scream hypocrisy.” Performing music, she added, should not have to be a political choice, “however when it comes to apartheid, performing in Israel is a political choice. A choice between standing with the oppressor or standing with the oppressed.”

In Israel, the letter explained, Radiohead would be playing in front of an audience which “will be mostly Israelis who have served in the Israeli armed forces that are slaughtering our people; 1,400 Palestinians in 22 days in the winter of 2008-9 then more than 2,200 in 50 days in 2014, including over 500 children.”

They concluded their letter saying: “We are the abused, the imprisoned, and the occupied and we expect people of integrity to show solidarity and to not patronise us. We will not stop fighting for justice and we will remember those who stood with us when it was not fashionable to do so, who refused to entertain apartheid. And as with South Africa, history will judge you when we have our freedom.”

To read the full letter please click here

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s 24-7 ‘War’ on Palestine Rights Movement Torpedoes Events, Advances Anti-boycott Legislation

Israel’s 24-7 ‘War’ on Palestine Rights Movement Torpedoes Events, Advances Anti-boycott Legislation

The 29th floor of Tel Aviv’s Champion Tower is the nerve center of a 24-7 ‘war’ against Palestinian rights supporters around the world. Israeli agents working behind the scenes advance legislation, torpedo events, organize counter protests, close bank accounts. The Director says: ‘In order to win we must use tricks and craftiness.’

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | July 14, 2017

An Israeli newspaper reports that a special office in Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs is advancing anti-boycott, pro-Israel legislation around the world.

Israel’s Ynet News reports: “The State of Israel is waging one of its most important and difficult battles: The war on delegitimization and on the boycott movement.” The Ministry has mapped 150 entities and has implemented what it calls a “combat doctrine” against them.

According to Ynet, the ministry has created a $70 million unit that works “24-7” to monitor and counter activism in support of Palestinian rights.

The unit, named “The Battle,” has worked to advance legislation, torpedo events, block bank accounts, thwart funding, and organize counter protests. It has also placed agents in Israeli embassies around the world.

The Ministry’s Director-General Sima Vaknin-Gil says that in order to win, Israel must “must use tricks and craftiness.”

According to Ynet, the office monitors “all protests, conferences, publications calling for an anti-Israel boycott and international bodies’ boycott initiatives. It then transfers the information to the relevant people to provide a proper response to these activities, whether through a counter-protest or through moves to thwart the initiative behind the scenes.”

Israel’s justice department has agreed to exclude the unit from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information, states:

“Since the ministry began leading the war on the boycott movement, boycott organizations have been under constant pressure.

“Legislation is being advanced in Israel and in the world, the organizations are under financial pressure which includes closing bank accounts and thwarting donations, and the hypocrisy of bodies disguised as ‘human rights organizations’ is being exposed. My policy of moving from the defense to the offense has proved itself, but there’s a lot more to be done.”

Numerous anti-boycott, pro-Israel bills are making their way through U.S. governmental bodies.

The U.S. Congress passed anti-boycott legislation in 2015, at least 22 state legislatures throughout the country have enacted anti-boycott bills, and anti-boycott legislation in other states is in process.

In addition, legislation calling criticism of Israel “anti-Semitic” is being advanced at both the federal and state levels, and similar regulations are being adopted on college campuses. Related laws and resolutions are also being promoted internationally.

Israeli efforts to influence events in the U.S. are not new. In 1994 a former Mossad agent described on C-Span how the Mossad used pro-Israel organizations to plant claims that individuals critical of Israel are “antisemitic.”

In 1963 Senator William Fulbright discovered that Israel had given more than $5 million ($40 million in today’s dollars ) to organizations and individuals in the U.S. to influence public opinion in favor of Israel.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 6 Comments

Opposing Zionism is not racism, rules Scottish court

By Yvonne Ridley | MEMO | July 14, 2017

In yet another landmark legal victory, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign emerged from court victorious today after being accused of racism. Their “crime”? Standing up to Zionism.

The trial ended three years of speculation and pressure for SPSC members whose robust defence of their actions won the day in Glasgow Sherriff’s Court when the verdict was announced on Friday.

Four days of evidence and cross-examinations earlier this month focussed on the actions of two SPSC members who faced charges of racism and aggravated trespass for a protest against Israeli company Jericho cosmetics, which operates around the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank. The protest was held in the wake of Israel’s 2014 military offensive against Palestinian civilians besieged in the Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed by the Israelis during the offensive, including 550 children, before in the war ended on 26 August. During the demonstration on 13 September 2014, the SPSC protesters denounced the killings.

Police were called to the shopping centre where the protest was being held, leading to the arrest of the two SPSC members accused of racism. “In other words,” explained Mick Napier, one of those arrested, “we were accused of being motivated by hatred of Israelis rather than opposition to Israel’s repeated massacres, apartheid across the whole of Palestine and genocidal violence in Gaza.”

During the Glasgow trial, the SPSC was buoyed by a High Court ruling in London that the Conservative government in Westminster acted unlawfully when it tried to prevent local councils in Britain from divesting from companies involved in Israel’s military occupation. The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London, supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

However, Napier wasn’t convinced that the result of the latest trial was a foregone conclusion. “Given their past record, we felt it was unlikely that even this High Court ruling in favour of BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] would stop Scottish prosecutors’ related efforts to criminalise the campaign in support of Palestinian freedom.”

The prosecutor — called the Procurator Fiscal in the Scottish legal system — claimed in open court that the two accused in the Glasgow case were recycling an ancient anti-Semitic “Jewish blood libel” by speaking about Israeli mass murder of Palestinians. The Procurator Fiscal’s office made these claims, said Napier, while the violated people of Gaza “were still looking for ice-cream freezers and vegetable refrigerators in which to store the bodies of children killed by Israel’s military.”

In their testimony last month, Napier and his co-accused Jim Watson both rejected the claims made by prosecution witnesses, a Chief Inspector of police, the manager of the Jericho stall and two local Zionist activists. The prosecution claim was that staff were intimidated by “racist” placards and the shouting of “racist abuse”; this was the description of the SPSC’s criticism of the pro-Israel counter-demonstrators for supporting Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians.

The “racist” placard with which the Procurator Fiscal and Zionist witnesses took particular issue was a symbolic but graphic image of blood dripping under the name “Dead Sea cosmetics”. Napier pointed out that at the time of their protest, the UN Secretary-General was describing Israel’s massacre of thousands of Palestinians as a “moral outrage and criminal act” and a “gross violation of humanitarian law.”

“When the Scottish government joined in by denouncing the ‘deep inhumanity’ of the Israeli massacre,” noted Napier, “the Scottish procurators fiscal were working hand in glove with pro-Israel lobby groups to silence voices of Palestine solidarity.”

The SPSC has faced repeated efforts by pro-Israel lobbyists and Scottish prosecutors to criminalise the group’s pro-Palestine activities. The Zionist record to-date is one of almost total failure; legal action has failed to secure any convictions of pro-Palestine activists. “There was, however, a consolation prize [for the Zionists] when we were both found guilty of refusing to leave the shopping centre when asked to do so by the police,” said Napier. “I was also convicted of aggravated trespass for protesting inside the shopping centre. We will be appealing against both convictions so any celebrations by the Zionists will, I suggest, be a bit premature.”

In February last year, two employees of the pro-Israel Community Security Trust made allegations against SPSC members but that was also thrown out by Kilmarnock Sheriff Court when the Sheriff ruled that the crime as alleged had not taken place. “Had we not had the benefit of an Al-Jazeera Arabic language broadcast of the protest where the CST tried to secure an assault conviction there might have been a different outcome,” added Mick Napier.

Anyone wanting to help the legal fund for this latest appeal can donate on the SPSC website here: http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Netanyahu slams Ireland’s pro-Palestine stance

Press TV – July 12, 2017

Enraged by Dublin’s financial aid to anti-Israel Palestinian rights groups, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at visiting Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney over his country’s pro-Palestine policy.

Netanyahu’s office made the criticism in a statement issued on Tuesday after the premier’s meeting with Coveney in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The premier “expressed his dissatisfaction over Ireland’s traditional stance” on Palestine and urged Coveney to condemn what he called Palestinian “incitement,” the statement read.

He also challenged the top Irish diplomat over Dublin’s assistance to the “NGOs that call for the destruction of Israel,” it added.

Coveney, for his part, said in a news briefing that his discussions with Netanyahu touched on a range of issues, including Israeli settlements, the humanitarian and political situation in the blockaded Gaza Strip and the so-called peace process.

“Of course, we have clear differences on some issues, but these differences are honestly held and openly expressed,” he noted.

Ireland runs Irish Aid, an official overseas development program for overseas development.

A number of Palestinian rights groups, such as Al-Haq, Addameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, are funded by the program.

During his three-day trip, which began on Monday, Coveney is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, United Nations officials and representatives from the NGOs funded by Irish Aid.

Speaking prior to his departure for the occupied territories, Coveney said he was “looking forward to hearing a diverse range of views from” the Palestinians, Israelis and NGOs.

“Of course, I will also use the opportunity to make clear Ireland’s concerns about the impact of the continuing occupation and the fact that, as things stand, the prospects of a comprehensive peace agreement remain dim,” he pointed out.

The meeting took place on the same day that Ireland’s South Dublin County Council voted unanimously to fly the Palestinian flag over the County Hall in Tallaght for a month in solidarity with the “oppressed people of Palestine.”

It has become the fourth Irish local authority to make such a move in recent months.

“I am delighted with [the] vote in solidarity with the people of Palestine. It might seem like a very small gesture but I know from the reaction to similar decisions made by other councils that today’s vote will be applauded across Palestine and elsewhere,” said Councilor Enda Fanning.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Palestinian officials say they want the resolution of the conflict with Tel Aviv based on the so-called two-state solution along pre-1967 boundaries.

However, Netanyahu has on several occasions said Israel should maintain its military occupation of the West Bank under any agreement with the Palestinians.

In recent months, the Tel Aviv regime has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in the occupied lands and oppressive measures against the Palestinians, leading to an increase in global anti-Israel sentiment.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 5 Comments