Do You Care That israel (apartheid state) Controls US Politicians? #BDS

Do You Care That Israel Controls US Politicians?

Seriously, do you? Because if you do care about the independence of the US government from foreign control, you need to do your part to help bring the issue to light.

Israel and its powerful lobby control many US politicians. And this lobby uses very dirty tricks to shut down the opposition.

Learn more about AIPAC and the Israeli lobby and why YOU should support the #BDS movement!

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French anti-semitism: Macron’s tool to silence Palestinian solidarity

Malia Bouattia is an activist, the former President of the National Union of Students, co-founder of the Students not Suspects/Educators not Informants Network and presenter/panelist on British Muslim TV’s Women Like Us.
By conflating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism, Macron is attempting to shield the government from criticism over its active participation in other forms of racism
People hold up Palestinian flags at a rally in Paris on 16 May 2018 (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron has committed himself to making anti-Zionism illegal, by making it – legally – equivalent to anti-semitism, and therefore a hate crime.

This announcement follows a verbal attack against French pro-Israeli writer Alain Finkielkraut during a Gilets Jaunes protest, where one demonstrator hurled the words “dirty Zionist”. The confrontation was described as anti-semitic by the president and numerous commentators.

A Jewish cemetery was also vandalised this month with Nazi swastikas, with around 80 graves targeted in the eastern French village of Quatzenheim, while a portrait of French Holocaust survivor Simone Veil was defaced with Nazi imagery.

Targeting political movements

The alarming rise of anti-semitism has plagued not just France, but the whole continent, with far-right groups gaining ground electorally and on the streets. In France alone, anti-Jewish attacks have risen by 74 percent over the last year.

But the problem with the French state’s response – which is not dissimilar to that of other governments, including the UK and US – is that it targets legitimate political movements, rather than dealing with a form of oppression woven into the fabric of French institutions.

It is striking that it is not the far-right and its numerous splinter groups that are being targeted by the president, nor is it the growing normalisation of racist rhetoric, including by the French leader himself.

Racism and fascism are structural forms of oppression that only manifest themselves on the streets because they have been normalised through state institutions

Instead, it is solidarity with the Palestinian people and opposition to Zionism – the ideology that justifies their dispossession – that is made to bear the responsibility.

Macron is showing us exactly what not to do in the face of rising fascism. He is effectively co-opting the rise in anti-semitism to target political dissent in the vein of pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist efforts.

Racism and fascism are structural forms of oppression that only manifest themselves on the streets because they have been legitimised, defused and normalised through state institutions.

Macron is surely aware that in World War Two, anti-semitism, and the consequent dehumanisation of entire peoples, became so widespread only because the Nazi party’s rhetoric gained influence within political institutions.

White-washing history

It is especially rich that Macron is attempting to equate anti-Zionism and anti-semitism when, just a few months ago, he came under fire for defending plans to pay tribute to Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain. Indeed, he claimed it to be legitimate because Petain was a marshal who led the French army to victory a century ago.

While heading the Vichy government, however, Petain and his administration facilitated the deportation to death camps of thousands of Jews. Much of this was later white-washed, with those involved integrated into the postwar administration of the republic.

French President Emmanuel Macron is overseeing the "normalisation of racist rhetoric" (Reuters)
French President Emmanuel Macron is overseeing the “normalisation of racist rhetoric” (Reuters)

The state’s targeting of the entire Gilets Jaunes movement over an isolated incident also discredits efforts to fight racism. The movement, which is non-hierarchical and has been described as leaderless, also includes far-right protesters – a point of much internal political debate in recent months. Anti-racist groups have expressed the need to fight for an inclusive and intersectional space, which is only likely to happen if they are part of the political events, protests and rallies.

There is a recognition at the grassroots level that in a society plagued by racism, it is only normal that even in anti-austerity efforts and among left-wing organisations, reactionary and conservative ideas exist. The difference is that there is a willingness to partake in a process of consciousness-raising, to set the direction of the movement and roll back the growing dominance of racism across French society.

The juxtaposition couldn’t be starker. Anti-racists in France are participating in a mass movement against austerity and taking on reactionary ideas, while the president, who himself has a poor track record on racism, is attempting to capitalise on it to launch a broader assault on solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Cosying up to the far-right

Communities are fearful for their safety. To provide the false illusion that Macron and his counterparts in the UK and US are legislating a fight back is despicable. They are targeting groups with a long-standing history of anti-racism, because they’re also likely to support the anti-imperialist struggle against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

At the same time, these very same politicians are cosying up to the anti-semitic Hungarian government, the far-right, and individuals such as former White House strategist Steve Bannon. They are putting Jewish communities at risk, while instrumentalising them to justify their attacks on the left and communities of colour, and their foreign policies in the Middle East.

The ‘gilet jaunes’ are uniting France in a rage against Macron’s regime

Read More »

In Britain, we have witnessed the targeting of pro-Palestine efforts through counter-terrorism strategies, including Prevent. This has led to the cancellation of events, the questioning and demonisation of young activists, and threats to make the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement illegal.

In the US, there’s a continued targeting of activists and public figures by groups such as the Canary Mission. The recent swearing-in of Congress representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib was followed by a media onslaught over their support for Palestinian liberation – not to mention the Middle East security bill voted through the US Senate in order to criminalise BDS.

The need to resist

The international pattern is clear. Around the world, the rich and powerful are stoking racism to divert anger about growing inequality and injustice, including the normalisation of far-right groups, individuals and governments. In this process, anti-semitism is re-emerging, including among the very people who are close to power.

Today, the struggle against anti-Zionism is justified by a false conflation with anti-semitism

Yet, it is the left – the pro-Palestine movement and communities of colour – who are being accused by those very same governments around the world.

Today, the struggle against anti-Zionism, justified by a false conflation with anti-semitism, has a triple purpose: to weaken the left at home, shield the government from criticism over its active participation in the rise of anti-semitism and other forms of racism, and hide its geopolitical support for Israel behind a supposed protection for Jewish communities, endangering them in the process. All three aspects should be resisted ferociously.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Psy Group: Mossad Spy Tool

 

By The Newyorker

Hatem Bazian, a veteran pro-Palestinian activist in his fifties, lives with his family on a quiet street in North Berkeley, near the campus of the University of California, where he lectures. Early on the morning of May 10, 2017, as Bazian was about to drive his teen-age daughter to school, he noticed fliers on the windshields of cars parked on his block. At first, Bazian assumed that they were advertisements for a new movie or restaurant. When he looked more closely at the flier that had been left on his BMW sedan, he realized that it featured a photograph of his face, below a tagline that read, “He supports terror.” Bazian quickly folded up the flier so his daughter wouldn’t see it.

Born in Jordan to a father from the West Bank city of Nablus and a mother from al-Quds, Bazian has long been an outspoken champion of Palestinian causes. For decades, staunch supporters of ‘Israel’ have criticized Bazian’s activism. The incident with the fliers, though, was particularly unnerving, he told me. He rented his house and did not publicize the address. His opponents, he thought, must be following him. Later that day, Bazian, who describes himself as a proponent of nonviolent protest, reported what happened to the Berkeley police. He said that officers told him they could do nothing about the harassment.

Although it is unclear who left the fliers, internal documents from a private ‘Israeli’ intelligence firm called Psy-Group show that, at the time of the incident, the company, and possibly other private investigators, were targeting Bazian because of his leadership role in promoting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, known as BDS Supporters of BDS urge corporations, universities, and local governments to impose economic, academic, and cultural boycotts on ‘Israel’ to protest its treatment of the Palestinians. Opponents say that the BDS movement aims to delegitimize ‘Israel’ and hobble its economy. On its Web site, the movement states that it does not advocate for or against a resolution in which ‘Israel’ continues to exist.

Psy-Group’s intelligence and influence operations, which included a failed attempt in the summer of 2017 to sway a local election in central California, were detailed in a New Yorker investigation that I co-wrote earlier this month. Before it went out of business, last year, Psy-Group was part of a new wave of private-intelligence firms that recruited from the ranks of ‘Israel’s’ secret services and described themselves as “private Mossads.” Psy-Group initially stood out among its rivals because it didn’t just gather intelligence; its operatives used false identities, or avatars, to covertly spread messages in an attempt to influence what people believed and how they behaved. In 2016, Psy-Group held discussions with the Trump campaign and others about conducting covert “influence” operations to benefit the candidate. Psy-Group’s founder and C.E.O., Royi Burstien, a veteran ‘Israeli’ intelligence officer who established the firm in 2014, told me that his talks with the Trump campaign went nowhere. The company’s posturing, however, attracted the attention of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who has been investigating interference in the 2016 Presidential race.

Psy-Group’s operations against BDS activists on US college campuses began in February, 2016, according to internal documents describing the campaign. The company raised money in New York from Jewish-American donors and pro-‘Israel’ groups, and assured them that their identities would be kept secret. Psy-Group told them that its goal was to make it appear as though the donors were not involved in any way.

The campaign, code-named Project Butterfly, initially targeted BDS activists on college campuses in “a single US state,” which former Psy-Group employees have told me was New York. The company said that its operatives drew up lists of individuals and organizations to target. The operatives then gathered derogatory information on them from social media and the “deep” Web, areas of the Internet that are not indexed by search engines such as Google. In some cases, Psy-Group operatives conducted on-the-ground covert human-intelligence, or HUMINT, operations against their targets. ‘Israeli’ intelligence officials insist that they do not spy on Americans, a claim that is disputed by their US counterparts. ‘Israeli’ officials said, however, that this prohibition does not apply to private companies such as Psy-Group, which use discharged ‘Israel’ Occupation Forces soldiers and former members of elite intelligence units, rather than active-duty members, in operations targeting Americans.

Project Butterfly called for Psy-Group operatives to disseminate negative information about BDS activists in ways that could not be traced back to the company or its donors. The goal, according to a Psy-Group summary of the campaign, from May, 2017, was to create “a new reality in which anti-‘Israeli’ activists are exposed and forced to confront the consequences of their actions.” The campaign’s messages were designed to convince Americans that “anti-‘Israeli’ activity” equated to “terrorism,” the company told donors. A former Psy-Group employee said these so-called name-and-shame tactics were often effective at silencing individual BDS activists. “They would disappear,” the employee told me, claiming that some activists appeared to become less engaged after derogatory information about them was publicized. If an activist claimed to be a pious Muslim, operatives would look for evidence that he had behaved in ways unacceptable to many observant Muslims, such as drinking alcohol or having an affair, a former employee said. BDS leaders, however, seemed to recruit new activists quickly. The former employee likened Psy-Group’s campaign to the war on terrorism, saying, “It’s never-ending.”

During the period when Psy-Group mounted its anti-BDS campaign, several Web sites, including the now-defunct outlawbds.com, published information on the movement’s leaders and supporters. Definitively determining who was behind the sites is difficult because Psy-Group and other organizations involved in anti-BDS work used avatars and other tactics to disguise their involvement.

In an example of the deceptive practices employed by operatives involved in the campaign, an avatar who identified himself as “Alex Walker” sent an unsolicited e-mail on August 15, 2017, to an advertising-sales broker who represented several New York-based national Jewish publications. Walker claimed that a friend referred him to the broker and said that he was impressed with his services. When the broker asked for the friend’s name, Walker dodged the question. At that point, the broker, who asked not to be named, said he suspected that Walker wasn’t who he claimed to be. Walker said that he was upset about BDS and wanted the broker to place advertisements promoting outlawbds.com in the New York area. Walker said that his assistant would pay the eight-hundred-dollar fee via PayPal. The broker told me that he placed the ads and took the money despite his suspicions about Walker. “In my mind, I’m not doing anything wrong,” he said.

The outlawbds.com Web site featured short profiles of BDS activists, one of whom was Peter Moskowitz, a Jewish-American supporter of the movement. His profile contained misspellings, and, at one point, referred to him as “she.” But the site contained a piece of information that surprised Moskowitz: outlawbds.com had somehow uncovered his membership in a left-wing Jewish organization critical of ‘Israeli’ treatment of Palestinians, even though Moskowitz had not disclosed his involvement online or to many friends.

Project Butterfly was overseen by an advisory board composed of “senior ex-officials and experts from the government, security and legal sectors,” according to Psy-Group documents. The most senior of those ex-officials was Yaakov Amidror, who became Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national-security adviser after leading a military-intelligence analysis division within the Amidror told me that before joining the board he spoke to Daniel Reisner, one of ‘Israel’s’ most prominent lawyers, and a partner at Herzog Fox & Neeman, which was Psy-Group’s outside counsel. He said that Reisner told him Psy-Group’s operations in the US against BDS activists were legal. Amidror said that he advised Psy-Group executives to insure that their operatives didn’t breach any US laws or norms while targeting American activists. “Don’t beat them. Don’t go into their houses,” Amidror said.

Amidror said that he supported the central goal of the Psy-Group operation: to “expose” BDS leaders on American university campuses and collect intelligence about any connections they might have to Palestinian organizations and other groups. “The ‘Israeli’ government was not there, and I thought that, if private people are ready to do it, it can be helped,” Amidror said. “It should be known who is behind them. It’s not known. We don’t know where the money is coming from, how far it is connected to Ramallah or Hamas.” He defended the propriety of a private ‘Israeli’ intelligence firm collecting and disseminating information on American citizens who supported BDS “If it is in the public domain, why not? I don’t see any problem,” he told me. “If someone doesn’t want it to be leaked publicly, he shouldn’t put it” on the Internet or on social media, Amidror said.

After Amidror joined the effort, Psy-Group recruited Ram Ben-Barak, who stepped down as the deputy director of Mossad in late 2011, to help as a paid strategic adviser on Project Butterfly. He worked one day a week out of Psy-Group’s offices near Tel Aviv. Ben-Barak said he believed that supporters of ‘Israel’ had no choice but to counter BDS forces in the United States. “You need to do it,” he told me. “They’re fighting against us, so we need to fight against them.”

In 2017, Psy-Group planned to expand Project Butterfly to target up to ten college campuses and other “venues,” according to the documents. In addition, the company said that its operatives would focus on between fifteen and twenty “national level individual targets.” Donors were told that Psy-Group had “mapped anti-‘Israel’ hubs” across the entity and had “executed 5 rapid-response operations nationwide,” without explaining what those operations entailed and whom they targeted.

The names of Psy-Group’s targets weren’t included in the May, 2017, summary of Project Butterfly, which was marked “confidential.” But a few days after the incident outside Bazian’s home, Burstien, Psy-Group’s founder and C.E.O, provided a report to researchers at a Washington think tank called the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, or F.D.D., which included the names of some of the BDS activists whom the ‘Israeli’ firm had targeted or planned to target. According to the Psy-Group report, the company had prepared “dossiers” on Bazian and eight other individuals. Psy-Group told the foundation that Bazian “got our full attention,” and that his dossier included “criminal background records” and other documents “obtained via HUMINT capabilities,” using the abbreviation for human-intelligence gathering. (When asked about the report, Bazian said he wasn’t sure what “criminal background records” Psy-Group was referring to. He said that he had received speeding tickets on occasion over the years, and was arrested in San Francisco, in 1991, for helping organize a student protest.)

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Psy-Group appeared to share a particular interest in the role of a pro-BDS organization that Bazian had founded, American Muslims for Palestine, or A.M.P. At a congressional hearing in 2016, F.D.D.’s vice-president for research, Jonathan Schanzer, alleged that Bazian and others working for or on behalf of A.M.P. had ties to organizations that Schanzer said have been accused of providing money to Hamas. (Bazian said that the foundation’s accusations were part of “a smear campaign that attempts to discredit anyone that deals with Palestine.” He added, “I have no ties whatsoever to any Palestinian group, faction, or organization inside occupied Palestine.”)

Psy-Group told the foundation that it planned to investigate “organizations and companies” that sponsor A.M.P.’s conferences, and singled out a Wisconsin-based Palestinian activist named Salah Sarsour, who has been in charge of organizing the conferences since 2015, as a planned target. Psy-Group alleged that Sarsour had “involvement with Hamas.” (Sarsour said that he had no relationship with the group.) Sarsour, who moved to the US from the West Bank in 1993, told me about two incidents since the summer of 2017 that made him suspect people were spying on him—although, he acknowledged, he had no hard evidence.

An F.D.D. official confirmed that the think tank met with Psy-Group, but she said the foundation “did not end up contracting with them, and their research did little to advance our own.” Psy-Group went out of business in February, 2018, as F.B.I. agents began to investigate its work. Other counter-BDS organizations have continued to operate against activists. Bazian’s page at CanaryMission.org accuses him of spreading “classic anti-Semitism,” and features several videos, including one titled “The Most Dangerous Professor in America?” “I am concerned and do take stock of the intimidation tactics,” Bazian told me. “But I am not deterred.”

School Employee Sues District for israel (apartheid state) Loyalty Oath in Contract

Source

Palestinian protesters walk during a rainy day during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Gaza city on December 28, 2018.Palestinian protesters walk during a rainy day during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Gaza city on December 28, 2018.

In a return to the bad old days of McCarthyism, Bahia Amawi, a US citizen of Palestinian descent, lost her Texas elementary school job after refusing to pledge in writing that she would not participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Earlier this month, Amawi sued the school district that fired her.

The BDS movement against Israel has become a hot button issue in the closing month of 2018. A bipartisan group of senators tried to attach the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to the unanimous spending bill that Trump almost signed to avoid the current government shutdown. Meanwhile, Donorbox, a US software company, blocked the BDS fundraising account at the behest of a pro-Israel group.

“The language of the affirmation Amawi was told she must sign reads like Orwellian – or McCarthyite – self-parody, the classic political loyalty oath that every American should instinctively shudder upon reading,” Glenn Greenwald wrote at The Intercept.

On December 12, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit on Amawi’s behalf in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas against Pflugerville Independent School District, alleging that Texas’ law requiring the oath violates the First Amendment. Amawi’s complaint says the law constitutes an impermissible attempt “to impose an ideological litmus test or compel speech related to government contractors’ political beliefs, associations, and expressions.”

Amawi had contracted with the school district for nine years to work with students with autism and developmental disabilities in Austin. This fall, for the first time, Amawi was required to sign an oath that she would not boycott Israel. When she refused to sign it, she was fired.

“The point of boycotting any product that supports Israel is to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its treatment, the inhumane treatment, of the Palestinian people,” Amawi explained. “Having grown up as a Palestinian, I know firsthand the oppression and the struggle that Palestinians face on a daily basis.”

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

The BDS movement was launched by representatives of Palestinian civil society in 2005, calling upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era … [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

This call specified that “these non-violent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law by (1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier wall; (2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

Even though it is a nonviolent movement, Israel sees BDS as a threat to its hegemony over the Palestinians. Israel illegally occupies Palestinian territories, maintaining effective control over Gaza’s land, airspace, seaport, electricity, water, telecommunications and population registry. Israel deprives Gazans of food, medicine, fuel and basic services, and continues to build illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“There will not be progress toward a just peace without pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian rights,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Bringing about that pressure, through a global grassroots mobilization, is exactly what BDS is about.”

After Amawi’s firing, The New York Times editorial board wrote,

It’s not just Israel’s adversaries who find the [BDS] movement appealing. Many devoted supporters of Israel, including many American Jews, oppose the occupation of the West Bank and refuse to buy products of the settlements in occupied territories. Their right to protest in this way must be vigorously defended.

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of BDS, said in an email to The New York Times, “Having lost many battles for hearts and minds at the grass-roots level, Israel has adopted since 2014 a new strategy to criminalize support for BDS from the top” in order to “shield Israel from accountability.”

Barghouti called Shurat HaDin, the group behind the Donorbox action blocking the BDS account, a “repressive organization with clear connections to the far-right Israeli government” that is “engaging in McCarthyite … tactics … in a desperate attempt to undermine our ability to challenge Israel’s regime of apartheid and oppression.”

Twenty-six US states have anti-BDS laws and 13 others are pending. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would have to be reintroduced when the new Congress convenes in January, was supported by Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) opposed the bill.

Boycotts Are Protected by the First Amendment

The law that triggered Amawi’s firing prohibits the State of Texas from entering into government contracts with companies, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel. It defines “boycott Israel” to include “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israeli-controlled territory.”

Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of speech, assembly and association. They have long been used to oppose injustice and urge political change. The Supreme Court has held that “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.” The high court ruled that advocating and supporting boycotts “to bring about political, social, and economic change” – like boycotts of Israel – are indisputably protected by the First Amendment.

The National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote in a legal memorandum challenging anti-BDS legislation in New York that such laws “harken back to the McCarthy era when the state sought to deny the right to earn a livelihood to those who express controversial political views.” The memo says, “The courts long ago found such McCarthy-era legislation to be at war with the First Amendment,” as they “unconstitutionally target core political speech activities and infringe on the freedom to express political beliefs.”

Even staff members at the right-wing Anti-Defamation League (ADL) opposed anti-BDS laws and admitted they are unconstitutional. Although the leadership officially favors outlawing BDS, ADL staff wrote in an internal 2016 memo that anti-BDS laws divert “community resources to an ineffective, unworkable, and unconstitutional endeavor.”

Greenwald cited the grave danger anti-BDS laws pose to freedom of speech, tweeting, “The proliferation of these laws – where US citizens are barred from work or contracts unless they vow not to boycott Israel – is the single greatest free speech threat in the US.”

Demonstrating the incongruity of allowing Amawi to boycott any entity but Israel, Greenwald noted, “In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the US, or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.”

The US government remains Israel’s lap dog on the world stage. On December 5 the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. The United States opposed the resolution.

Meanwhile, the BDS movement continues to achieve victories. After more than 24,000 people complained to HSBC, the banking giant pulled out its investments in Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. Elbit sells military equipment, including drones, aircraft, artillery and weapon control systems to the Israeli army, US Air Force and British Royal Air Force. It also provides surveillance equipment to the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

On the legal front, the ACLU has mounted successful court challenges to anti-BDS laws in Kansas and Arizona and has filed litigation in Arkansas and Texas.

Marjorie Cohn

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Netherlands recognizes Gaza, West Bank as official Palestinian birthplaces

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

Authorities in the Netherlands have allowed Palestinians living in the country to register the besieged Gaza Strip and the West Bank as their official places of birth, instead of registering under such designations as ‘the Israeli-occupied territories’ or ‘unknown’.

Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops, in a letter addressed to the House of Representatives in The Hague on Sunday, stated that he intends to add Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, to a list of official states used by the Dutch civil registry.

Knops added that the new category is in accordance with “the Dutch viewpoint that Israel has no sovereignty over these areas.”

The Dutch minister further highlighted that the new category was named based on the Oslo Accords and the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Dutch news outlets reported that the new category will be available to Palestinians born after May 15, 1948, when Israeli forces displaced some 700,000 Palestinians, forcing them to flee to different neighboring countries. Israeli soldiers also wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map, leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants dreaming of an eventual return to their ancestral homeland more than six decades later.

The Israeli-occupied land was the only birthplace available to Palestinians registering in the Netherlands up until 2014. The category “unknown,” also known as code “0000,” was made available to Palestinians living in the country after opposition to listing Israel as their birthplace.

While the UN General Assembly and at least 136 countries have recognized Palestine as a sovereign state, the Netherlands has refused to do so.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

How israel (apartheid state) lobby fakes campus anti-Semitism

How Israel lobby fakes campus anti-Semitism

On Saturday, RT aired the second part of a conversation between host Chris Hedges, journalist Max Blumenthal and me about the censored Al Jazeera film The Lobby – USA.

In part two – which you can watch above – we focus on how the film shows Israel lobby groups fabricating accusations of anti-Semitism on US college campuses in order to incite official crackdowns against Palestine solidarity activism.

I tell Hedges that “a lot of these fake anti-Semitism allegations are about trying to lay a factual basis to make federal civil rights complaints or lawsuits that can then be used to force university administrations to muzzle students and teachers.”

The Emergency Committee for Israel, an anti-Palestinian activist group, is also seen in the Al Jazeera film organizing a fake pro-Israel protest at the national conference of Students for Justice in Palestine, using paid fellows who are required to attend.

One of the participants describes it as “a chance to shout at Arabs.”

Blumenthal calls the astroturfed protest an indication of how the Israel lobby is “completely morally bankrupt” and “desperate” for the appearance that it has grassroots support.

Afraid of the base

We also discuss how the base of the Democratic Party – particularly supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders – is continuing to embrace the struggle for Palestinian rights.

“Something to watch is the role of Beto O’Rourke,” Blumenthal states. “He’s someone who the pro-Israel lobby has worked on for years and they will push him to drive a wedge in Bernie’s base, as the anti-Bernie progressive.”

Blumenthal adds that Israel supporters and centrist elites in the Democratic Party are “afraid not of Bernie per se but of his base.”

O’Rourke is seen as a rising star and possible presidential contender after he narrowly failed to defeat Senator Ted Cruz of Texas last November.

But while striking many progressive notes, O’Rourke has toed a staunchly pro-Israel line.

Part one of our conversation with Chris Hedges about The Lobby – USA was broadcast the previous week:

Censored and leaked

The Lobby–USA is an explosive undercover documentary produced by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit.

It exposes how US lobby groups – including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Israel on Campus Coalition – work closely with the Israeli government to spy on, smear and sabotage American citizens who speak out for Palestinian rights.

But the four-part film never aired on Al Jazeera. After Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds the news network, the documentary was censored.

Starting in August 2018, The Electronic Intifada and Blumenthal’s Grayzone Project began leaking excerpts from the film.

In November, The Electronic Intifada, along with the French publication Orient XXI and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, released the entire leaked film online.

You can watch in full episodes one and two, and three and four of The Lobby–USA – the film the Israel lobby did not want you to see.

Dozens wounded in clashes with israeli (apartheid state) soldiers in West Bank, Gaza

Dozens Wounded in Clashes With Israeli Soldiers in West Bank, Gaza

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on Feb. 1, 2019. Clashes broke out on Friday afternoon between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli army forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, wounding dozens of people, medics and eyewitnesses said. (Xinhua/Stringer)

GAZA/RAMALLAH, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) — Clashes broke out on Friday afternoon between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli army forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, wounding dozens of people, medics and eyewitnesses said.

In eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, at least 25 Palestinians were shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers stationed on the borderline area, according to Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza.

Thousands of protesters gathered Friday afternoon in eastern Gaza Strip joining the 45th weekly anti-Israel rallies and protests, known as the “Great March of Return” to break the Israeli blockade.

The protesters waved Palestinian flags, chanted anti-Israel slogans, burned tires, cut the barbed wire of the border’s fence, and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, according to eyewitnesses.

They said that the soldiers fired dozens of tear gas canisters and live ammunition at the demonstrators to keep them away from the fence of the border, and dozens suffered suffocation after inhaling the tear gas.

The rallies organizers Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, who also joined the rallies in eastern Gaza, insisted that their marches and protests will go on until achieving the goals of ending the Israeli blockade that had been imposed on the Gaza Strip for 12 years.

Essam Daalis, a senior Hamas leader, told reporters that “the shortest way for (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to end tension in the Gaza Strip is to immediately end the siege and ease the hard living situation in the Gaza Strip.”

Gaza Health Ministry officials said earlier that since March 30, when the marches started, the Israeli army had shot and killed more than 250 demonstrators and wounded around 25,000 others, most of them shot by live gunshots.

Meanwhile, a senior Egyptian security intelligence delegation and the United Nations special envoy Nickolay Mladenov are holding talks with Hamas leaders in Gaza.

They discussed earlier Friday with Islamic Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on the reinforcement of a calm understanding reached with Israel in November, according to Haniyeh.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society in the West Bank said Friday that at least 15 Palestinian demonstrators were shot and wounded during clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers in the village of Lemghayer near Ramallah.

Local media reports in the West Bank said that Israeli forces stormed the village and clashed with dozens of residents in the afternoon, adding that Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and opened fire at the demonstrators who threw stones at the soldiers

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