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August 22, 2009
August 22, 2009: On BDS and Why it is Apartheid in Israel Palestine UPDATED Sept. 17: @ end


Why it is Apartheid in Israel Palestine

 

"The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state," Neve Gordon, an American-born Jew who has lived in Israel for nearly 30 years and teaches political science at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, recently wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.


Gordon also came to the conclusion that boycotting Israel may be the only way to save the country from itself.

As an American-born Christian I am in solidarity with that opinion.


According to a UN report, Haaretz columnist Danny Rubinstein admitted that "Israel today was an apartheid State with four different Palestinian groups: those in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israeli Palestinians, each of which had a different status...even if the wall followed strictly the line of the pre-1967 border, it would still not be justified. The two peoples needed cooperation rather than walls because they must be neighbors." [1]


"An apartheid society is much more than just a ‘settler colony’. It involves specific forms of oppression that actively strip the original inhabitants of any rights at all, whereas civilian members of the invader caste are given all kinds of sumptuous privileges." [2]


On May 14, 1948, The Declaration of the establishment of Israel affirmed that, "The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations."



However, reality intrudes, for "The truth which is known to all; through its army, the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in, detention camp."- Israeli Minister of Education, Shulamit Aloni quoted in the popular Israeli newspaper, Yediot Acharonot on December 20, 2006,

How could a state founded on "equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants" come to be such a state of hypocrisy?

A Little History:

On July 5, 1950, Israel enacted the Law of Return by which Jews anywhere in the world, have a “right” to immigrate to Israel on the grounds that they are returning to their own state, even if they have never been there before. [3]

On July 14, 1952: The enactment of the Citizenship/Jewish Nationality Law, results in Israel becoming the only state in the world to grant a particular national-religious group—the Jews—the right to settle in it and gain automatic citizenship. In 1953, South Africa’s Prime Minister Daniel Malan becomes the first foreign head of government to visit Israel and returns home with the message that Israel can be a source of inspiration for white South Africans. [IBID]

In 1962, South African Prime Minister Verwoerd declares that Jews “took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” [IBID]

On August 1, 1967, Israel enacted the Agricultural Settlement Law, which bans Israeli citizens of non-Jewish nationality- Palestinian Arabs- from working on Jewish National Fund lands, well over 80% of the land in Israel. Knesset member Uri Avnery stated: “This law is going to expel Arab cultivators from the land that was formerly theirs and was handed over to the Jews.” [IBID]

On April 4, 1969, General Moshe Dayan is quoted in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz telling students at Israel’s Technion Institute that “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You don’t even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don’t blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either… There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”[IBID]

On April 28, 1971: C. L. Sulzberger, writing in The New York Times, quoted South African Prime Minister John Vorster as saying that Israel is faced with an apartheid problem, namely how to handle its Arab inhabitants. Sulzberger wrote: “Both South Africa and Israel are in a sense intruder states. They were built by pioneers originating abroad and settling in partially inhabited areas." [IBID]

On September 13, 1978, in Washington, D.C. The Camp David Accords are signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and witnessed by President Jimmy Carter. The Accords reaffirm U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, which prohibit acquisition of land by force, call for Israel’s withdrawal of military and civilian forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and prescribe “full autonomy” for the inhabitants of the territories. Begin orally promises Carter to freeze all settlement activity during the subsequent peace talks. Once back in Israel, however, the Israeli prime minister continues to confiscate, settle, and fortify the occupied territories. [IBID]

On September 13, 1985, Rep. George Crockett (D-MI), after visiting the Israeli-occupied West Bank, compares the living conditions there with those of South African blacks and concludes that the West Bank is an instance of apartheid that no one in the U.S. is talking about. [IBID]

In July 2000, President Bill Clinton convenes the Camp David II Peace Summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Clinton—not Barak—offers Arafat the withdrawal of some 40,000 Jewish settlers, leaving more than 180,000 in 209 settlements, all of which are interconnected by roads that cover approximately 10% of the occupied land. Effectively, this divides the West Bank into at least two non-contiguous areas and multiple fragments. Palestinians would have no control over the borders around them, the air space above them, or the water reserves under them. Barak calls it a generous offer. Arafat refuses to sign. [IBID]

August 31, 2001: Durban, South Africa. Up to 50,000 South Africans march in support of the Palestinian people. In their “Declaration by South Africans on Apartheid and the Struggle for Palestine” they proclaim: “We, South Africans who lived for decades under rulers with a colonial mentality, see Israeli occupation as a strange survival of colonialism in the 21st century. Only in Israel do we hear of ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers.’ Only in Israel do soldiers and armed civilian groups take over hilltops, demolish homes, uproot trees and destroy crops, shell schools, churches and mosques, plunder water reserves, and block access to an indigenous population’s freedom of movement and right to earn a living. These human rights violations were unacceptable in apartheid South Africa and are an affront to us in apartheid Israel." [IBID]

October 23, 2001: Ronnie Kasrils, a Jew and a minister in the South African government, co-authors a petition "Not in My Name," signed by some 200 members of South Africa's Jewish community, reads: "It becomes difficult, from a South African perspective, not to draw parallels with the oppression expressed by Palestinians under the hand of Israel and the oppression experienced in South Africa under apartheid rule." [IBID]

Three years later, Kasrils will go to the Occupied Territories and conclude: "This is much worse than apartheid. Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses. We had armored vehicles and police using small arms to shoot people but not on this scale." [IBID]

April 29, 2002: Boston, MA. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he is “very deeply distressed” by what he observed in his recent visit to the Holy Land, adding, “It reminded me so much of what happened in South Africa.”

The Nobel peace laureate said he saw “the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. Referring to Americans, he adds, “People are scared in this country to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful—very powerful. Well, so what? The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists.” [IBID]


In November 2005, this reporter attended the Gainesville, Florida, Anarchist’s Against the Wall Power Point Lecture by Jonathon Pollak, an intense young Israeli and committed activist and organizer for Anarchist’s Against the Wall/AAtW; a collaborative NONVIOLENT resistance and civil disobedience group of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals dedicated to bringing the separation/apartheid wall down and ending the occupation of Palestine, which has now entered its 42nd year.


Pollak said, “Although Israel marketed the Wall as a security barrier, logic suggests such a barrier would be as short and straight as possible. Instead, it snakes deep inside the West Bank, resulting in a route that is twice as long as the Green Line, the internationally recognized border. Israel chose the Wall’s path in order to dispossess Palestinians of the maximum land and water, to preserve as many Israeli settlements as possible, and to unilaterally determine a border.

“In order to build the Wall Israel is uprooting tens of thousands of ancient olive trees that for many Palestinians are also the last resource to provide food for their children. The Palestinian aspiration for an independent state is also threatened by the Wall, as it isolates villages from their mother cities and divides the West Bank into disconnected cantons [bantusans/ghettos]. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem conservatively estimates that 500,000 Palestinians are negatively impacted by the Wall.

“We believe that, as with Apartheid South Africa, Americans have a vital role to play in ending Israeli occupation - by divesting from companies that support Israeli occupation, boycotting Israeli products, coming to Palestine as witnesses, or standing with Palestinians in nonviolent resistance." [4]


"From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught...that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, 'vomit you out' if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah [command]: "When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself' but also 'you shall love the other.'" [5]


In June 2005, this reporter interviewed a young American who moved to Israel because of the incentives of Aliyah who told me:

"Aliyah means 'going up,' and this deal was hard to pass by. I get fifteen hundred shekels or about thirty-six hundred dollars a year in increments to help with my expenses. I can apply for unemployment benefits after seven months, as long as I look for a job.

"I just completed Ulpan, which was five hundred hours of Hebrew language immersion studies that took five months, five hours a day, for five weeks. I get subsidized rent and just moved out of the Absorption Center Projects. All the new immigrants get room, utilities, and three meals a day for the first five months in Israel. We also receive free medical care and all the doctors here are dedicated. We can go to the university with 100 percent of the tuition paid by the government. College is much cheaper here; it's about three thousand to four thousand dollars a year. Until I am thirty years old, I can receive up to three years of education for my master's degree."[7]


Apartheid can be summed up as a structured process of gross human rights violations perpetrated against a conquered ethnic majority by a state and society mainly controlled by an invading ethnic minority and its descendants, mainly immigrants, that have been deemed part of the ethnic elite.


The following nine categories make up the necessary, sufficient,  and defining characteristics of apartheid regimes:

1. Violence: Apartheid is a state of war initiated by a de facto invading ethnic minority, which at least in the short term originates from a non-neighboring locality. In all main instances of apartheid most if not all members of the invading group originate from a different continent. The invading ethnic minority and its self-defined descendants then continue to dominate the indigenous majority by means of their military superiority and by their continuous threats and uses of violence.

2. Repopulation: Apartheid is also a continuation of depopulation and population transfer. One example is seen in the obliteration of the indigenous Bedouins that Israel denies free movement to graze their herds and are silently transferring the Bedouins to new locales, such as atop of garbage dumps.

3. Citizenship: The indigenous people are often denied citizenship in their own country by the apartheid state authorities, which are ironically and irrationally, run and staffed by the recent arrivals to the country.

4. Land: Apartheid entails land confiscation, land redistribution and forced removals, almost without exception to the benefit of the invading ethnic minority. Usually, members of the ethnic majority are forced on to barren and unfertile soils, where they must also try to survive under impoverished and overcrowded conditions.

5. Work: Apartheid displays systematic exploitation of the indigenous class in the production process and different pay or taxation for the same work.

6. Access: There is ethnically differentiated access to employment, food, water, health care, emergency services, clean air, and other needs, including the need for leisure activities, in each case ensuring superior access for the favored ethnic community.

7. Education: There are also different kinds of education offered and forced upon the different ethnic groups.

8. Language: A basic apartheid characteristic is the fact that only very few of the invaders and their descendants ever learn the language(s) of the indigenous victims.

9. Thought: Finally, apartheid contains ideologies or 'necessary illusions' in order to convince the privileged minorities that they are inherently superior and the indigenous majorities that they are inherently inferior. Much of apartheid thought is shaped by typical war propaganda. The enemy is dehumanized by both sides' ideologies, words and other symbols are used to incite or provoke people to violence, but mostly so by the invaders and their descendants. [8]


During this reporters visit to Hebron, I learned 450 Israeli settlers and 3,000  IDF, eighteen- to twenty-one-year-olds patrol the streets with their weapons at the ready. The IDF refused access through one of the many checkpoints to me and my guide Jerry Levin, former secular Jew and CNN's Mid East Bureau Chief in the 1980's who was kidnapped in Lebanon and held for nearly a year by the Hezbollah. On Christmas Eve, Jerry had a mystical experience of Jesus and miraculously escaped a short time later. [ Jerry shares that story in Reflections on My First Noel, HOPE Publishing House]

In 2005, Jerry was a full time volunteer with CPT/Christian Peacemaker Teams. He told me, "Most of the soldiers don't like the CPTs. Whenever they won't let us through, we just go another way, and always, eventually, get where we want to go." [9]

The village of Hebron had once been a thriving Palestinian neighborhood, but now the narrow, winding stone streets between the colonists and the indigenous people are only connected to the other by a deeply sagging netting that the squatters hurl huge rocks, shovels, electronic equipment, furniture, and all manner of debris upon with hope it will break and hit an unfortunate Palestinian upon the head.

Jerry Levin informed this reporter, "It gets cleaned out about every year or so. Come back in a few months, and this netting will be much closer to your head. The settlers just throw whatever they want onto the netting; they do what ever they want and get away with it. The CPT's run interference by nonviolent resistance; we get the children and woman to where they need to be going and back again. Sometimes, the settlers curse and stone us all; it keeps it interesting." [10]

Hundreds of now empty formerly Palestinian homes have been spray painted by the colonists with Stars of David and graffiti such as: "GAS THE ARABS."


Minister of Intelligence in South African Government, Ronnie Kasrils recently returned to Palestine's West Bank and Gaza Strip, and wrote how it was "like a surreal trip back into an apartheid state of emergency. It is chilling to pass through the myriad checkpoints -- more than 500 in the West Bank. They are controlled by heavily armed soldiers, youthful but grim, tensely watching every movement, fingers on the trigger…A journey from one West Bank town to another that could take 20 minutes by car now takes seven hours for Palestinians, with manifold indignities at the hands of teenage soldiers…The monstrous apartheid wall cuts off East Jerusalem…Bethlehem too is totally enclosed by the wall, with two gated entry points. The Israelis have added insult to injury by plastering the entrances with giant scenic posters welcoming tourists to Christ's birthplace." [11]


On the cover of my "Memoirs from OPT" Meir Vanunu provided the photo of the enormous Orwellian sign Karlis refers to, that hung upon The Wall next to the checkpoint that leads from Jerusalem to her sister city, Bethlehem: "PEACE BE WITH YOU"

However, on my last trip to occupied Bethlehem in June 2009, that sign was gone and was being replaced by banal images of the Old City.


The Wall or as Israel prefers to spin it as a 'security barrier', "is designed to crush the human spirit as much as to enclose the Palestinians in ghettos. Like a reptile, it transforms its shape and cuts across agricultural lands as a steel-and-wire barrier, with watchtowers, ditches, patrol roads and alarm systems. It will be 700km long and, at a height of 8m to 9m in places, dwarfs the Berlin Wall. The purpose of the barrier becomes clearest in open country. Its route cuts huge swathes into the West Bank to incorporate into Israel the illegal Jewish settlements -- some of which are huge towns -- and annexes more and more Palestinian territory." [IBID]


If The Wall is truly to keep out terrorists, why was it not built on Israeli land?

"It has become abundantly clear that the wall and checkpoints are principally aimed at advancing the safety, convenience and comfort of settlers."- Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad. [IBID]


"The West Bank, once 22% of historic Palestine, has shrunk to perhaps 10% to 12% of living space for its inhabitants, and is split into several fragments, including the fertile Jordan Valley, which is a security preserve for Jewish settlers and the Israeli Defence Force. Like the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is effectively a hermetically sealed prison...roads are barred to Palestinians and reserved for Jewish settlers. I try in vain to recall anything quite as obscene in apartheid South Africa." [IBID]


On December 20, 2006, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who received a Nobel Peace Prize for his relentless work confronting and challenging South Africa's Apartheid regime spoke to The Guardian:

"I've been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land. I have seen the humiliation at the checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about…Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice…If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land."


Justice requires equal human rights, liberty and self-determination for all people.

Justice requires honoring International Law and the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
Read more...

When the state of Israel complies, peace and security will flow from the Holy Land and it truly could be a land of milk and honey for all of Father Abraham's children.

1. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3444320,00.html
2. Apartheid Ancient, Past, and Present Systematic and Gross Human Rights Violations in Graeco-Roman Egypt, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine, By Anthony Löwstedt. Page 77.
3. The Link, "About That Word Apartheid", April-May 2007, Published by Americans for Middle East Understanding, Inc.
4. Eileen Fleming, Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory, pages 55-56
5. Rabbi Lerner, TIKKUN Magazine, page 35, Sept./Oct. 2007
6. Apartheid Ancient, Past, and Present Systematic and Gross Human Rights Violations in Graeco-Roman Egypt, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine, By Anthony Löwstedt. Page 77.
7. KEEP HOPE ALIVE, by Eileen Fleming, page 99.
8. Paraphrased from pages 71-73, Apartheid Ancient, Past, and Present.
9. KEEP HOPE ALIVE, page 105.
10. Ibid
11. Mail & Guardian, Israel 2007: Worse than Apartheid, by Ronnie Kasrils.  http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=308966&area=/insight/insight__comment_and_analysis/





The following is from an August 21, 2009 email from
Jewish Peace News


In a Los Angeles Times op-ed Neve Neve Gordon, an American-born Jew who has lived in Israel for nearly 30 years and teaches political science at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, reluctantly comes to the conclusion that boycotting Israel may be the only way to save the country from itself.  The author of the recent book, Israel's Occupation, Gordon argues that “‘on the ground,’ the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.” Arguing that the two-state solution is the only way to reverse apartheid, he has decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005. – Joel Beinin

Lincoln Shlensky adds:

Neve Gordon cites the Bilbao Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Initiative <http://bit.ly/7AI0g> as an appropriate model for creating international pressure on Israel to end the occupation. In Gordon's reading of it, the Bilbao Initiative proposes a process of imposing sanctions that begins by punishing companies doing business in the Occupied Territories and those that reinforce the occupation in other structural ways, and gradually extends such sanctions.

While one may disagree with Gordon's resolutely gradualist interpretation of the Bilbao Initiative, it would be hard to disagree that there is a need for the kinds of initial sanctions he mentions. Indeed, many of those individuals and organizations which do not claim to be advocates of a formal BDS campaign have long argued that punishing the direct beneficiaries of occupation and acting to end Israel's continuing confiscation of Palestinian land are urgent.

Other elements of the Bilbao Initiative that Gordon does not mention, however, are more controversial. For example, Point 5 of the Initiative proposes to "build pressure on the United Nations, governments, local authorities, multilateral bodies, such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the private sector to suspend cooperation with Israel." Such proposals are controversial for two reasons: some believe that they unfairly single out Israel among many rights-violating nations, and should be opposed for this reason alone. Others believe that, tactically, the appearance of singling out Israel for special sanctions may create a backlash against broad-based international efforts to end Israel's occupation at a time when the American administration seems more serious than ever about achieving a resolution.

Such concerns have merit. They need to be addressed directly by supporters of the BDS movement if proposals like the Bilbao Initiative are to gain wider support.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-oe-gordon20-2009aug20,0,888884.story

Boycott Israel

An Israeli comes to the painful conclusion that it's the only way to save his country.

By Neve Gordon
August 20, 2009

Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push for an international boycott of Israel. Films have been withdrawn from Israeli film festivals, Leonard Cohen is under fire around the world for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv, and Oxfam has severed ties with a celebrity spokesperson, a British actress who also endorses cosmetics produced in the occupied territories. Clearly, the campaign to use the kind of tactics that helped put an end to the practice of apartheid in South Africa is gaining many followers around the world.

Not surprisingly, many Israelis -- even peaceniks -- aren't signing on. A global boycott can't help but contain echoes of anti-Semitism. It also brings up questions of a double standard (why not boycott China for its egregious violations of human rights?) and the seemingly contradictory position of approving a boycott of one's own nation.

It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel. But today, as I watch my two boys playing in the yard, I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself.

I say this because Israel has reached a historic crossroads, and times of crisis call for dramatic measures. I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country's future.

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state.

For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews -- whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel -- are citizens of the state of Israel.

The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.

There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal.

The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.

The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state.

Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, "on the ground," the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.

Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.

For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren't citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organizations from all over the world formulated the 10-point Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign meant to pressure Israel in a "gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity." For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel in order to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not.

Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians -- my two boys included -- does not grow up in an apartheid regime.

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times


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Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
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Lincoln Z. Shlensky
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Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com

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The Last Refuge
By Gideon Levy
Aug. 27, 2009
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1110514.html

The timing of the mini-maelstrom over an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by Neve Gordon, who teaches politics and government at Be'er Sheva's Ben-Gurion University, calling for a boycott of Israel, was somewhat grotesque. Hardly have the throats dried of those calling for his dismissal, for his citizenship to be revoked, for his expulsion and, if all else fails, his stoning, when another petition has surfaced on the Internet, this one calling for a boycott of Ikea. A bad article on the back page of a Swedish tabloid is enough to produce a call here for a consumer boycott to which thousands sign their names. Turkey has barely recovered from the boycott that our package tourers imposed on it because its prime minister had the gall to attack our president, and already we are cruising toward our next boycott target. It's our right.

It's a safe bet that most of the boycotters of Antalya and Ikea are the same people who want to tar-and-feather the Israeli professor who dared promulgate the use of the very same civic weapon. According to the Israelis who railed against Gordon, the imposition of a boycott is a legitimate, perhaps even effective, means of punishment that can be invoked against our enemies, real or imagined. Gordon, an Israeli patriot who served in the Paratroops and is raising his two children here, thinks that a 42-year-long criminal occupation should generate at least as much international protest as an article in a Swedish newspaper, and that this protest can and should be translated into concrete measures. The Israelis think that one scurrilous article is enough to warrant punishing everything Swedish, and that one comment by a prime minister is enough to do the same to everything Turkish. Gordon thinks the occupation is a sufficiently important motive to boycott everything Israeli.

Since the time of the ban imposed in the Jewish community by Rabbeinu Gershom at the turn of the first millennium, which applies to offenses of considerably less severity than mistreating 3.5 million people - namely, marrying more than one woman, divorcing a woman without her consent and reading private correspondence without the owner's consent - the boycott has been a just and appropriate civil weapon. And since the boycott of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the boycott has also been an effective weapon. Israel is demanding its invocation against Iran, America wants it imposed against North Korea and both of them are demanding it against the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, and worse, against all the residents of Gaza. Israel, and with it most of the international community, imposed a boycott on 1.5 million Gazans only because they did not vote for the right party in the democratic elections that the international community demanded.
   
A country that constantly demands boycott from the world and also imposes boycotts itself, cannot play the victim when the same weapon is turned against it. If the election of Hamas is cause for boycott, then occupation is a far more potent cause. The fact that Israel is living a lie - pretending that the occupation does not exist, that it is just, temporary and unavoidable - does not make the struggle against it any less legitimate. So let us admit the truth: The occupier deserves to be boycotted. As long as the Israelis pay no price for the occupation, the occupation will not end, and therefore the only way open to the opponents of the occupation is to take concrete means that will make the Israelis understand that the injustice they are perpetrating comes with a price tag.

Anyone who champions the struggle against the occupation is no less of a patriot than a soldier who shoots a bound Palestinian or a settler who plunders land and builds his house on it, in defiance of every law. They are giving Israel a far worse name than a lecturer who calls for a struggle against the occupation - just ask Israel's critics. It is precisely the Gordons, those who fight from within, who are repairing slightly the horrific damage that has been done to Israel's image in the past few years. They are proving to the world that despite everything Israel is not monolithic, that not all Israelis speak with the same voice, that not all Israelis are Liebermans or Kahanists, and that maybe Israel is, after all, a type of democracy with freedom of expression, at least for its Jewish citizens.

Gordon went one step further. Boycott is the next logical step, he believes, because all else has failed. Forty-two years of fruitless fighting from within and an occupation that is only growing stronger, dictate stepping up the struggle. We tried demonstrations but the masses did not come; we tried conferences but they led nowhere. All that's left is to give in, to go on with the routine of our lives, like all the Israelis, to shut our eyes and hope for the best - or to intensify the struggle, in conjunction with the intensification of the occupation. The Israeli soldiers who shoot at civilian demonstrators in Bil'in or Na'alin, almost like in Iran, are perpetrating a far more illegitimate act against the state's rule of law than those calling for an international boycott. But no one will urge the revocation of their citizenship.

Gordon chose not to follow the herd, unlike most of his cowardly colleagues or the nationalists. It is one's right to think that an Israeli who does not boycott Israel does not have the right to call on others to take that step, or that the call for an external boycott is the last option of Israeli patriots who do not want to abandon the country or throw up their hands. There is, however, no place for the vicious attacks on Gordon. The height of ludicrousness was achieved by the President of Ben-Gurion University, Prof. Rivka Carmi. She was appalled by the article published by a member of her faculty, fearing it could affect the university's donations from American Jews. Here, then, is a new criterion for good citizenship and morality: the harm it wreaks to our schnorring. It's also a new gauge for academic and civic freedom of expression: If something miffs the donors from Beverly Hills or Miami Beach, then we must not speak it aloud. Quiet - people donating.

The reactions from official Israel, and from the street, have lately become more irritable and more aggressive. An article in a Swedish paper or in an American paper, a report by Breaking the Silence or Human Rights Watch, whatever does not conform to the official right-wing, militaristic, nationalist line, is reviled, delegitimized and subjected to an outpouring of hate. This is an encouraging sign. Only when Israel, at both the official and the popular level, begins to understand that something went awry here, that something is morally rotten, that maybe protest, documentation and exposure are justified, then what remains is the last weapon in the hands of the defenders, the weapon of unrestrained attack on the protesters and the documenters.

If Israel were sure it is right, it would not be so frightened and be so aggressive against everyone who objects to its official line. If we were convinced that the soldiers of Breaking the Silence are making up stories and that Gordon's call for a boycott and his description of Israel as an apartheid state are unjust, we would not be so abusive toward them. Not only Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi, from Shas, but also Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who expressed "disgust," and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, who called for Gordon's dismissal - two ministers who are supposed to be in charge of imparting education and values - were in the forefront of the assault against Gordon. It is not just a question of basic intolerance for different and even subversive opinions, whose expression is a fundamental value in every democracy. It is also a manifestation of edginess and aggressiveness that prove what Gordon and others like him want so much to show in Israel and abroad: that something very basic and very deep is flawed in the third kingdom of Israel.


Sept. 5, 2009:

Naomi Klein was in Israel and Palestine in June doing a tour with her latest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, just out in Hebrew and Arabic. Klein endorses the strategy of BDS - Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - to pressure Israel to end the occupation and obey international law. JPN editor Rebecca Vilkomerson wrote about hearing Klein speak here (http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com/2009/07/naomi-klein-and-boycott-movement_14.html).

Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, sat down with Klein and her Hebrew/Arabic publisher, Yael Lerer, in Israel to talk about boycott: what is the goal, how is it done, and what does it mean for Klein to visit Israel and boycott it at the same time?

Klein says, "This is not a boycott of Israelis. It's a boycott of pretending that everything is normal in Israel...for foreigners like me, however you choose to come to Israel, you are making choices, and you are taking a side...This state is like a giant gated community. It has perfected the art of constructing a security bubble, and that is, in a sense, its brand."

She continues, "It's a brand that is sold to Diaspora Jews like me. It says: "we can keep you safe, we can create, in a sea of enemies, a bubble of safety for you to enjoy, to have a wonderful beach holiday, to go to film festivals, and book festivals -- even as we bomb Gaza, even as we turn the West Bank into a chain of mini-Bantustans, surrounded by walls and expanding settlements, and roads Palestinians don’t have access to." These are two sides of the same coin: the bubble of normalcy, the brutality of enclosure. So it is not a politically neutral act to partake of that bubble."

And in other boycott news this week, the government of Norway announced that it is divesting -- that is, withdrawing its investments -- from the Israeli arms firm Elbit because Elbit is implicated in the construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank. This article from Ha'aretz on Norway's divestment and Israel's expectedly negative response says that a combination of Palestinian, Israeli and Norwegian groups have targeted Norway to divest over the last few years (http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1112218.html).

WhoProfits.org, created and maintained by the Israeli Women's Coalition for a Just Peace, says that Elbit is one of the main providers of the electronic detection fence for the separation wall (http://whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=554).

Sarah Anne Minkin
Jewish Peace News
 http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com


Naomi Klein Shows You Can Boycott Israel Without Cutting Off Dialogue Over Palestine
By Cecilie Surasky, AlterNet
Posted on September 1, 2009, Printed on September 5, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/142341/

Few global-justice campaigns are more polarizing, even explosive, than the effort to use international boycotts, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its 42-year occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Just ask Neve Gordon.

Recently, Gordon, head of the political science department at Ben-Gurion University and a longtime peace activist, published a wrenching op-ed in the Los Angeles Times endorsing the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

After initially opposing the tactic, he became convinced, he wrote, that outside pressure "is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself."

He was braced for a backlash, but nothing like what he has faced over the past few weeks -- members of the Israeli Knesset from a range of political parties called for his immediate sacking, the education minister called his article "repugnant," and his university president threw him under the bus saying, "Academic personalities who feel this way are invited to look for an academic and personal home elsewhere." She then hinted that his statement might have been an act of treason.

Clearly, BDS, part of the so-called South Africa strategy, crosses a line in the sand for many who believe that putting economic pressure on Israel is necessarily anti-Jewish.

But for proponents, BDS is a proven, nonviolent tactic that can pressure Israel to abide by international law, making an impact where various government efforts have failed and failed miserably.

Although Palestinian Civil Society made the BDS call in 2005, it gained momentum after Israel's brutal assault on Gaza this past December and January.

Now it is undeniably growing, particularly in the arts world. Respected writers such as John Berger, Eduardo Galeano and Adrienne Rich have all endorsed it; and Israeli film festivals have faced a string of boycotts.

Most recently, the Toronto International Film Festival's announcement of a special "city-to-city" celebration of Tel Aviv is threatening to turn the second most important film festival in the world (after Cannes) into a site of angry protests.

One of the most high-profile figures to endorse the call for BDS is Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein, who typically enjoys overflow crowds, extensive media coverage and brisk book sales when she goes on international book tours.

When it came to publishing her latest best-seller, The Shock Doctrine, in Hebrew and Arabic, Klein decided the political situation in Israel and Palestine called for an entirely different approach.

In opposition to Israel's occupation, she chose not to sign a traditional book deal with advances and royalties. Instead, she donated the book to Andalus, a publishing house that works actively against the occupation. It is the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew, something its founder Yael Lerer describes as "publishing as an act of resistance."

Klein and Lerer also set out to craft a book tour that would honor the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel while also showing that boycotts need not cut off much-needed communication and dialogue.

With this in mind, Klein and Lerer, used the tour to draw attention to the boycott and the Palestinian struggle and to spark an internal Israeli dialogue about boycott as a way to pressure Israel to live up to international law.

Last month in Tel Aviv, I sat down with Klein and Lerer to ask about the goals, meaning and nuts and bolts of implementing a cultural boycott, and also why Lerer, a Jewish Israeli, is telling the world, "Please, boycott me."

Here are some excerpts from that interview. -- Cecilie Surasky


Cecilie Surasky: What is the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions? Why are you supporting it?

Naomi Klein: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: It's a tactic with a very clear goal, to force Israel to comply with international law.

The call [for BDS] was made in 2005 by an extraordinarily broad range of Palestinian civil society groups, political parties, and trade unions. But it didn't really start to gain an international profile until the Israeli attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

In the midst of the war, the writer John Berger sent out a letter, signed by many prominent artists, mostly European, declaring their support for the boycott strategy. When that letter surfaced, I was in the middle of writing The Shock Doctrine, and I made a personal decision at the time that when the book came out, I wouldn't do what I had done with the Hebrew translations of my previous two books, which was to publish with a fairly traditional commercial publisher.

Instead, I planned to do what John Berger was calling for, which was to find a way to publish in Hebrew that directly supports groups that are working to end the occupation. So that's how I met Yael, who is anything but a traditional Israeli publisher, and who has been outspoken in her support of BDS, at genuine professional cost.

Surasky: You must have grappled with this idea of a cultural boycott. Many critics would say that it shuts down communication rather than opening it up. What brought you to take this step?

Klein: Well, it has to do with the fact that the Israeli government openly uses culture as a military tool. Though Israeli officials believe they are winning the actual war for land, they also feel that the country suffers because most of what the world hears about the region on the news is about the conflict: militarization, lawlessness, the occupation and Gaza.

So the foreign ministry launched a campaign called "Israel Beyond the Conflict," which involves using culture, film, books, the arts, tourism and academia to create all kinds of alliances between Western countries and the state of Israel, and to promote the image of a normal, happy country, rather than an aggressive occupying power. That's why we are always hearing about film festivals and book fairs with a special "Israel spotlight."

And so, even though in general I would totally agree that culture is positive -- books are positive and film is positive and communication is wonderful -- we have to understand that we are dealing with a state strategy to co-opt all of that to make a brutal occupation more palatable.

There are other things that also fall into that category: the state of Israel has an open strategy of enlisting gay and lesbian rights and feminism into the conflict, pitting Hamas's fundamentalism against Israel's supposed enlightened liberalism as another justification for collective punishment of Palestinians (never mind the ever-growing power and intolerance of Israel's ultra-orthodox Jews). It's a very sophisticated strategy.

That means we have to come up with equally sophisticated strategies that defend culture and human rights on the one hand, but that, on the other, reject all attempts to use our work and our values to whitewash the ugly reality of occupation and segregation.

Surasky: You've done a book tour unlike any other book tour. Yael Lerer, your company, Andalus, published the book in Hebrew. On the face of it, there's an inherent contradiction in coming to Israel-Palestine and doing a book tour while supporting a boycott. Yet you've managed to make that work. Can you explain?

Yael Lerer: Andalus has been dealing with this contradiction from the very beginning. We publish Arab writers that oppose "normalization" of the occupation -- like we do. And we always try to find ways to deal with these contradictions.

Actually, this is the first time we have had a book tour, because our normal way of dealing with these contradictions is to translate the books but not hold any celebrations. Our writers never come here. So here we had this challenge for the first time.

We made the big launch of the Hebrew edition not in Tel Aviv but in Haifa, at an Arab theater, where our hosts were not Israeli official institutions, but Palestinian minority institutions. (As you know, there is a minority of 20 percent Palestinian within Israel.)

But this event was not aimed only at this community -- we invited Israeli Jews to come as well. One could read everywhere in Hebrew, "Naomi Klein is coming to Haifa, come and hear her."

At the same time, it was important to have the first book events in East Jerusalem and Ramallah, with the Arabic edition, and that before all the book events, Naomi participated in a demonstration in Bi'lin against the separation wall.

So we spoke to the Israeli public at the events and through the Israeli media. The book is available in Hebrew. But, at the same time, we expressed a strong anti-normalization position. We were not doing it like everything is normal.

Klein: And that's the point. This is not a boycott of Israelis. It's a boycott of pretending that everything is normal in Israel, because that's what cultural producers are usually invited to do.

There has been a huge amount of misrepresentation about the boycott campaign, claiming that it is a boycott of Israelis, or Jews, or that it's anti-Semitic. We are trying to address those misconceptions with this tour. There are some clear rules: We're not going to work with a state-sponsored book fair, for instance. I have refused invitations to come to Israel, to speak at state-sponsored film festivals and things like that.

But If I were boycotting Israelis, I wouldn't be in Israel engaging with Israelis. I would have stayed home.

One of the things we are trying to draw out with this tour is that for foreigners like me, however you choose to come to Israel, you are making choices, and you are taking a side. It's possible to pretend that you are not, but that's only because of Israel's success in making the conflict invisible inside a carefully constructed bubble.

In my book there is a long chapter about Israel and the construction of the homeland security state. It looks closely at the companies that build the high-tech walls and fences and checkpoints and that keep Palestinians in the Occupied Territories in a state of constant surveillance.

It is because of the effectiveness of the homeland security sector that it's possible to come to cities like Tel Aviv and be almost completely oblivious to what is happening in Ramallah, in Gaza. This state is like a giant gated community. It has perfected the art of constructing a security bubble, and that is, in a sense, its brand.

It's a brand that is sold to Diaspora Jews like me. It says: "We can keep you safe, we can create, in a sea of enemies, a bubble of safety for you to enjoy, to have a wonderful beach holiday, to go to film festivals and book festivals -- even as we bomb Gaza, even as we turn the West Bank into a chain of mini-Bantustans, surrounded by walls and expanding settlements, and roads Palestinians don't have access to."

These are two sides of the same coin: the bubble of normalcy, the brutality of enclosure. So it is not a politically neutral act to partake of that bubble.

This is a very important dialogue to have, and that's why it was so important for us to publish the book in Hebrew -- both to get the information out there, and to challenge people who are misrepresenting this tactic as being a boycott of Jews or a boycott of Israelis. We're not doing that at all.

I donated the royalties to Andalus so that I'm not personally profiting from this, and I chose to work with Andalus because it is an activist publisher with a clear anti-occupation stand.

If the book does well, then it helps them to continue their work. The boycott campaign doesn't ask people not to come to Israel or the Occupied Territories to share ideas and art -- it asks that we do so in clear opposition to occupation and discrimination.

Surasky: And how has the Israeli media responded to the first pro-boycott book tour?

Klein: Not well. One of the contradictions we're facing is that we really wanted to spark a debate in Israel, because while BDS is being debated in Europe and Canada, it's almost invisible inside Israel; there's real censorship around this issue.

Virtually the only perspective you hear is, "Oh, they're just a bunch of anti-Semites, they hate Israelis, they hate Jews" -- very, very distorted.

So our idea was to make it harder to distort by putting some facts on the ground and saying: "Look, we've translated this book, I'm here in Israel. Let's have some of that dialogue and communication Israel is supposedly so intent on defending."

What we're finding is a lot of interest from Israelis but a huge amount of resistance from the Israeli media to just having the debate -- both about the role of the security sector in lobbying against peace and the possible role of a boycott movement in creating new lobbies for peace.

Once I made my boycott position clear in Ha'aretz, a lot of media canceled on us, which doesn't say much for the spectrum of debate, but it's not all that surprising either!

Surasky: What is the objective of this campaign? What would you like to see coming out of this?

Klein: It's modeled on the South Africa strategy that the anti-apartheid struggle used against South Africa very successfully in the 1980s. It had academic boycotts, cultural boycotts, consumer boycotts.

But the really big key economic lever was universities and municipalities divesting from companies that were doing business in apartheid South Africa. The campaign started to be too costly for both South African firms and for Western multinationals with major investments in South Africa.

There was also a situation a little bit similar with Israel where you had a white minority in South Africa that very much saw itself as being part of Europe, of being part of the West. And suddenly they weren't getting the American and European concerts they wanted, they weren't getting the book fairs they wanted, and they didn't like that.

So they put pressure on their government to make it stop, even though white South Africans felt self-righteous and enormously enraged by the boycotts and sanctions.

The hope is that these sorts of dynamics can work in Israel, because it is so important to the Israeli self-image that the country be seen as an honorary member of the E.U. or an adjunct to the United States.

When writers and artists stop participating in the Israeli government's strategy to use culture to hide what's on the other side of the concrete walls, Israelis may eventually decide that those walls are a liability and decide to take them down

Lerer: I completely agree. As an Israeli citizen, I need boycotts for two reasons.

First, I want Israelis to feel more strongly that everything is not normal. It means nothing for many self-identified left-wing Israelis to say, "It's awful, what's going on in Gaza and in Hebron," while continuing their daily lives like everything is fine.

They go to the shows and they go to the concerts. These people are the elites in this country. These are the journalists that work at the newspapers. I want to move them. I want to shake these people up and make them understand they cannot continue their normal life when Palestinians in Qalqiliya [a West Bank city completely surrounded by the separation barrier] -- only 15 minutes away from Tel Aviv -- are in prison.

The second reason I need the boycott is because I lost the hope of creating change from within, which was what I tried to do as an activist for many years.

Twenty years ago, I could never have imagined this semi-apartheid situation. I care about the future in this place. I care about my fellow Israelis. I have a huge family here and many, many friends.

I know many people who don't have any other passports and who don't have any other options. I think that the solution for this place, the only possible future, is living together. Unfortunately, at this stage, I don't see how this future can be achieved without international pressure.

And I think that boycott is a nonviolent tool that has already shown us that it can work. So I'm asking: Please boycott me.

Klein: I also think we need to be very clear: This is an extraordinarily asymmetrical conflict where the Israeli state is the biggest boycotter of all. The economy in Gaza and the West Bank has been utterly destroyed by closures.

Beyond shutting down the borders so producers in Gaza couldn't get fruits and vegetables out, you had [over 200] factories in Gaza hit during the attack in late December and January. It was a systematic destruction of that economy to try to "teach Gaza a lesson" for having voted for Hamas. So, boycotts are happening.

The way I see BDS is that this is a tactic that we are resorting to because of Israeli impunity. There is an absolute unwillingness to apply international law to the Israeli state. Hamas has committed war crimes, but there is absolutely an international response to those crimes. [There is no response to Israeli war crimes, which are on an exponentially larger scale.]

We were just in Gaza. The thing that really struck me was the sense of shock among so many people that, even after the December/January attacks, even after hundreds of children were killed, there have been no actions taken by the international community to hold Israel accountable.

I mean, this was a display of utter impunity and disdain for international law, for the laws of war -- which, by the way, were created in direct response to the Nazi atrocities of the second World War. And yet, not only are there no consequences for those crimes, but the illegal siege of Gaza is still on.

What BDS is saying is our governments have failed. The United Nations has failed. The so-called international community is a joke. We have to fill the vacuum.

I also believe this movement could be a game-changer in the United States. Let's remember that a huge part of the success of the anti-apartheid struggle in the '80s was due to popular education.

Once you said, "Our school or town should divest from apartheid South Africa," you immediately had to have a big teach-in where you had to explain what apartheid was, and you had to make your case persuasively. And people were persuaded.

The Palestinian BDS call could play that kind of movement-building role today, giving people something concrete they can organize around in their schools and communities.

Whether he recognizes it or not, [President Barack] Obama needs the Palestinian struggle to be a popular, grassroots issue like the South African struggle was. He has taken very small steps to forge a new kind of deal with Israel, but he's facing enormous push-back from the right. There has to be a counterpressure on Obama saying, "Actually, you're not going far enough. Excuse me, no new settlements? How about no settlements, period?"

So the only hope of not just having him hold to this tentative position, but actually improving this position, is if there's a popular movement that is very clear in its demands for Israel to abide by international law on all fronts, and that's exactly what BDS is.

Surasky: How are Israelis on the left responding to the idea of a boycott?

Lerer: Something happened in the last war in Gaza in January. Five hundred and forty Israelis -- including prominent academics, actors and filmmakers -- signed a petition asking for international pressure on Israel.

One paragraph in this petition said that only boycott helped in the South Africa case. It was not yet a direct call for boycott, but it was a very important step. Now we are forming a new group of Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian call for boycott -- Boycott From Within (BFW).

In 2005, we tried to arrange a group of artists to support the Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott, and we failed. People told us, "How can we boycott ourselves? It is too difficult, it is too radical." Many of these people have now signed the Gaza petition, and they are joining our new BFW group.

They understood that it's not about boycotting ourselves, but about asking the international community, asking our fellow citizens everywhere in the world for action: Please help us by boycotting us.

Surasky: Let's talk about specific examples of other people who are supporting this call.

Klein: Most artists do not know about the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, even though it comes from hundreds of Palestinian groups. We're working within a context where Palestinian voices are virtually inaudible in the West.

So people will come to Israel to accept an award or agree to play a concert in Tel Aviv, and they don't know that they are essentially crossing a picket line. Most don't even know a call has been made for nonviolent resistance by a people who, let's remember, have been utterly vilified for using any kind of armed resistance. I mean come on: If you reject armed resistance, and you reject boycotts and sanctions, what's left? Online petitions? Do we really think that's going to end the occupation?

But yes, some filmmakers who are politically active have decided not to participate in Israeli or Israeli-sponsored film festivals.

Ken Loach has pulled out of the Melbourne International Film Festival because it was sponsored by the Israeli government. The Canadian filmmaker John Greyson pulled a terrific film called Fig Trees from this year's gay and lesbian film festival in Tel Aviv.

More recently, the Yes Men wrote a really thoughtful letter to the Jerusalem Film Festival explaining why they decided to pull their new film, The Yes Men Save the World, from the festival.

And now there is some talk of organizing a pro-BDS film festival in Ramallah, once again to boycott normalcy but to still get these films out there.

Surasky: I just read a criticism of BDS that said, "You're not calling for a boycott of North Korea, or the United States for that matter because of Afghanistan or Iraq. So, that makes this anti-Semitic." How do you address this criticism?

Klein: I've heard that too, but I'm not calling for a boycott of anyone. I am respecting a call for a boycott that has been made by hundreds of Palestinian groups.

I believe in the principle that people under oppressed circumstances have a right to self-determination. That's at the heart of this struggle. This is a nonviolent tactic that has been selected by a broad range of civil society groups.

Iraqis, so far as I know, have not called for BDS tactics against the United States, though it would certainly be their right. And yet some people act as if I sort of made it up in my bedroom like, "who should I boycott today? Eenie-meenie-miney-mo, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Burma, Israel!"

Once again, the only reason this can happen is because Palestinian voices are so effectively marginalized in the Western press.

By the way, most of the examples that are trotted out in these debates are examples where there are very clear state sanctions against these countries. So we're not dealing with impunity as we are with Israel.

In this case, you need a grassroots project to fill in where governments have completely abdicated their responsibility to exert pressure on behalf of international law.

Lerer: But not only that -- these countries don't have these film festivals, and Madonna is not going to have a concert in North Korea.

The problem here is that the international community treats Israel like it was a normal, European, Western state. And this is the basis of the boycott call -- the special relationship that Israeli universities have with European universities and with universities in the United States, which universities in Zimbabwe don't have.

I do believe that Israel could not continue the occupation for one single day without the support of the United States and the European Union. The Western community supports the occupation. Like Naomi was saying, not doing something is the active thing.

Surasky: Some say, "This is not going to help. Israelis see themselves under siege, we Jews see ourselves under siege. It's actually going to make Israelis less open to peace."

Klein: It's inevitable that, at least in the short term, it's going to feed this Israeli feeling of being under siege.

It's not rational, because in fact, what we're dealing with is a context where Israel has been rewarded. If we look at these key years since the election of Hamas, when the siege on Gaza became utterly brutal and just undeniably illegal, trade with Israel has actually increased dramatically. There have been new special agreements launched with the European Union and Israel, with Latin America. Last year, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45 percent.

Even though Israel is being rewarded for this criminality and is getting away with just extraordinary violence, the feeling among many Israelis of being under siege is increasing.

The question is, do we just cater to this irrationality? Because if we just cater to it, that means we do nothing, we voluntarily surrender the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal.

Israel, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, believes that the whole world is against it and that all the criticism it faces flows from anti-Semitism.

This is simply untrue, and as activists, we can no longer allow one nation's victim complex to trump the very real victimization of the Palestinian people.

Cecilie Surasky is the deputy director for Jewish Voice for Peace.
© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/142341/


Sept. 17, 2009: Email from Middle East Analyst and Correspondent, Omar Barghouti:

One of the largest trade union federations in the world, the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) has overwhelmingly adopted BDS motions in its annual congress!

The South African trade union federation, COSATU, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) were the two national TU federations that preceded the TUC in adopting BDS.

Given that TUC represents over 6.5 million British workers, this huge success is no small feat. The size and political significance of the British TUC's endorsement of BDS motions will surely add qualitatively to the impressive rise of the BDS movement after the Israeli massacre in Gaza, further confirming that our South Africa moment has arrived.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and its partners have worked tirelessly, persistently and tactfully for several years to reach this astounding victory, crowning previous BDS endorsements -- direct or indirect -- by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) earlier this year and several leading British trade unions including Unison and the University and College Union (UCU), the latter representing about 120,000 members in academia.

A warm salute especially to the PSC, as well as the STUC, BRICUP and to all British BDS activists who contributed over the years to this watershed in the BDS movement's history in the UK, Europe and beyond.

It is worth remembering that in the struggle against South African apartheid the British trade union movement was among the very few in the vanguard of boycotts and divestment that eventually spread to the rest of the world, helping the democracy and freedom movement in South Africa bring down the racist regime.

Israeli apartheid and its apologists should take note of this.

Below are excerpts from the motion that passed, sponsored by the amazingly principled and courageous Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and amended by the UCU. Following that is the PSC press release about this victory.-Omar


FBU Motion adopted by TUC Congress 2009 Motion was amended with final paragraph by UCU

(EXCERPTS)

"Congress condemns the Histadrut statement of 13th January 2009 in which it backed the attacks on Gaza and calls on the General Council to carry out a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.

Congress calls on the General Council to pressure the Government to:

a) Condemn the Israeli military aggression and end the blockade on Gaza
b) End all arms trading with Israel
c) Impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal
settlements in the Occupied Territories
d) Support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
Congress further calls on the General Council to encourage affiliation to the
Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to develop an effective Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign by working closely with the PSC to:
    1) raise greater awareness on the issues
    2) promote a targeted consumer-led boycott
    3) encourage trade unionists to boycott Israeli goods, especially
        agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal
        settlements.
    4) encourage campaigns of disinvestment from companies associated
        with the occupation.

Congress asserts that in undertaking these actions each affiliate will operate within its own aims and objectives and within the law."


Press release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

17 September 2009

Britain’s unions commit to a mass boycott movement of Israeli goods

In a landmark decision, Britain’s trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to commit to build a mass boycott movement, disinvestment and sanctions on Israel for a negotiated settlement based on justice for Palestinians.

The motion was passed at the 2009 TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool today (17 September), by unions representing 6.5 million workers across the UK.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.’

 
The motion additionally called for the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The motion was tabled by the Fire Brigades Union. The biggest unions in the UK, including Unite, the public sector union, and UNISON, which represents health service workers, voted in favour of the motion.


The motion also condemned the Israeli trade union Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed 1,450 Palestinians in three weeks, and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.


Britain’s trade unions join those of South Africa and Ireland in voting to use a mass boycott campaign as a tool to bring Israel into line with international law, and pressure it to comply with UN resolutions that encourage justice and equality for the Palestinian people.

 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA
London
WC1N 3XX

Tel:   020 7700 6192
Fax:  020 7609 7779

Email:
Web: www.palestinecampaign.org


Sept. 17, 2009: Email from Middle East Analyst and Correspondent, Omar Barghouti:

One of the largest trade union federations in the world, the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) has overwhelmingly adopted BDS motions in its annual congress!

The South African trade union federation, COSATU, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) were the two national TU federations that preceded the TUC in adopting BDS.

Given that TUC represents over 6.5 million British workers, this huge success is no small feat. The size and political significance of the British TUC's endorsement of BDS motions will surely add qualitatively to the impressive rise of the BDS movement after the Israeli massacre in Gaza, further confirming that our South Africa moment has arrived.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and its partners have worked tirelessly, persistently and tactfully for several years to reach this astounding victory, crowning previous BDS endorsements -- direct or indirect -- by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) earlier this year and several leading British trade unions including Unison and the University and College Union (UCU), the latter representing about 120,000 members in academia.

A warm salute especially to the PSC, as well as the STUC, BRICUP and to all British BDS activists who contributed over the years to this watershed in the BDS movement's history in the UK, Europe and beyond.

It is worth remembering that in the struggle against South African apartheid the British trade union movement was among the very few in the vanguard of boycotts and divestment that eventually spread to the rest of the world, helping the democracy and freedom movement in South Africa bring down the racist regime.

Israeli apartheid and its apologists should take note of this.

Below are excerpts from the motion that passed, sponsored by the amazingly principled and courageous Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and amended by the UCU. Following that is the PSC press release about this victory.-Omar


FBU Motion adopted by TUC Congress 2009 Motion was amended with final paragraph by UCU

(EXCERPTS)

"Congress condemns the Histadrut statement of 13th January 2009 in which it backed the attacks on Gaza and calls on the General Council to carry out a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.

Congress calls on the General Council to pressure the Government to:

a) Condemn the Israeli military aggression and end the blockade on Gaza
b) End all arms trading with Israel
c) Impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal
settlements in the Occupied Territories
d) Support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
Congress further calls on the General Council to encourage affiliation to the
Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to develop an effective Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign by working closely with the PSC to:
    1) raise greater awareness on the issues
    2) promote a targeted consumer-led boycott
    3) encourage trade unionists to boycott Israeli goods, especially
        agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal
        settlements.
    4) encourage campaigns of disinvestment from companies associated
        with the occupation.

Congress asserts that in undertaking these actions each affiliate will operate within its own aims and objectives and within the law."


Press release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

17 September 2009

Britain’s unions commit to a mass boycott movement of Israeli goods

In a landmark decision, Britain’s trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to commit to build a mass boycott movement, disinvestment and sanctions on Israel for a negotiated settlement based on justice for Palestinians.

The motion was passed at the 2009 TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool today (17 September), by unions representing 6.5 million workers across the UK.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.’

 
The motion additionally called for the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The motion was tabled by the Fire Brigades Union. The biggest unions in the UK, including Unite, the public sector union, and UNISON, which represents health service workers, voted in favour of the motion.


The motion also condemned the Israeli trade union Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed 1,450 Palestinians in three weeks, and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.


Britain’s trade unions join those of South Africa and Ireland in voting to use a mass boycott campaign as a tool to bring Israel into line with international law, and pressure it to comply with UN resolutions that encourage justice and equality for the Palestinian people.

 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA
London
WC1N 3XX

Tel:   020 7700 6192
Fax:  020 7609 7779

Email:
Web: www.palestinecampaign.org






   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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