المقاطعة خجلاً من الأوروبيين على الأقلّ

 

ناصر قنديل

يناير 20, 2018

في خطوة أراد عبرها تظهير صورة غير نمطية قرّر وزير الداخلية السير بعكس توصية الجهات الرقابية في الأمن العام اللبناني التي أوصت وفقاً لالتزام لبنان بأحكام مكتب مقاطعة «إسرائيل»، بمنع عرض فيلم

ستيفن سبيلبرغ «ذا بوست»، وبرّر الوزير قراره بكون الفيلم لا يروّج للتطبيع ولا يتحدّث أصلاً عن الصراع مع «إسرائيل»، بل يتصدّى لملفات الحرب الأميركية في فيتنام.

Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad Al-Machnouk

ومبرّرات الوزير هنا هي فعلاً من نوع ذرّ الرماد في العيون لتسخيف منطلقات التوصية بالمنع وتصوير مَن يقف وراءها كجاهل أو غبي ينسب للفيلم ما ليس فيه. وكانت الشجاعة الأدبية تقتضي من الوزير القول إنه يعلم أنّ التوصية بالمنع ناتجة عن أحكام المقاطعة التي تطال المخرج ولا علاقة لها بمضمون الفيلم بل بسيرة المخرج النافرة في العداء للبنان والتضامن مع «إسرائيل»، ولكنه قرّر تعليق الالتزام بأحكام المقاطعة لأنه يراها بلا جدوى، أو حرماناً للوسط الثقافي من مواكبة الإبداع العالمي، أو ما يشاء من الأسباب، وإنْ وجد أنّ الأمر يستدعي قراراً أعلى من مستوى توقيع الوزير. وهذا هو واقع الحال، يكتب لمجلس الوزراء طالباً تعليق العمل بالتزام لبنان أحكام المقاطعة، وإلا ارتكب الوزير مخالفة دستورية، وهذا ما حصل، وروّج لأحد رموز الصهيونية المشمولين بأحكام المقاطعة. وهذا جرم جنائي يفترض أنّ مهمة معالي الوزير ملاحقة مرتكبيه.

-لا حاجة لإلقاء المواعظ حول معنى المقاطعة وجدواها، ومن حق أيّ لبناني أو عربي ساعة يشاء أن يبدأ نقاشاً من هذا النوع، وأن يكشف عدم قناعته بفعالية سلاح يظنّه بالياً ينتمي لثقافة لم تعد موجودة برأيه، ولغة خشبية تخطتها البشرية، لكن لا يحق لأيّ كان تعليق الأثر القانوني لأحكام المقاطعة من موقع مسؤوليته الإجرائية وزيراً أم مديراً إلا بسلوك الطرق القانونية، التي تبدأ بالتطبيق الحرفي للمقاطعة والتقدّم بمقترح معلل وفق الأصول للأسباب والمندرجات والمقترحات، هذا أولاً. أما ثانياً، ولأنّ الرائج هو ما يروّج له أصحاب القدرة، فهل فعلاً لغة المقاطعة لغة بالية، وهل هي لغة خشبية لا تنتمي لزمن راهن، والمعيار هو حكماً ما يقوله الغرب وما يقبله العقل الغربي، ولأنه العقل الوحيد الذي يمكن الاستناد إلى رجاحته، فلنحتكم إليه إذن.

-ماذا يسمّى في اللغة العلمية تحريم نشر المواد التي تصنّف تحت بند العداء للسامية، ويقرّر منع تداول مؤلفات ومنشورات أصحابها؟ وهل منع منشورات فيلسوف بمكانة روجيه غارودي بتهمة أنه يصيب العقيدة الصهيونية في بنيتها الثقافية، مقاطعة أم إلزام بالمقاطعة تشترك في تطبيقه حكومات الغرب جميعها، بلا خجل ولا حرج ولا أن يرفّ لها جفن، ومن بين مؤلفات غارودي الممنوعة بالمناسبة قصائد غزل؟ وفي المقابل هل وصل إلى مسامع بعض المعترضين على المقاطعة ما تقوم به جماعات أكاديمية أوروبية، خصوصاً بريطانية وجنوب أفريقية تحت عنوان فعل الضمير الإنساني، بأن تصرخ بوجه أكاديميين «إسرائيليين»، عبر المقاطعة، بلغة النزاهة العملية، كيف ترضون لأنفسكم أن تكونوا جزءاً من مؤسسة عنصرية، ومثلها نخجل نحن من أن نتهم باللاحضارية إذا قاطعنا منتجات المخرج ستيفن سبيلبرغ لنقول له، افحص ضميرك يا شريك القتلة، لن يغيّر لون وجهك وأنت تدفع مليون دولار لدعم قتل أطفالنا، في حرب تموز 2006، أن تكشف حقائق حرب فيتنام مدّعياً الحرص على الضمير الإنساني؟

-المقاطعة فعل فردي ضميري وإنساني يقوم به مثقف شجاع برفض الإغراء الذي يقدّمه عمل إبداعي لمن يختبئ وراء الإبداع ليخفي وجه القاتل، ولو لم يكن ثمة إغراء أو ثمة إبداع أو ثمة شجاعة لما كان لزوم للمقاطعة، فكيف عندما تصبح قراراً سياسياً لدولة تنحصر مهمة الأفراد بتطبيقه لا التلاعب به.

-التراجع عن الخطأ فضيلة يا معالي الوزير، فكيف في زمن انفعالات القدس والمشاعر الساخنة للتضامن مع عهد التميمي وأخوتها وأخواتها.

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Stop The Press, “JVP Now Feels the Pain of Exclusion.”

January 08, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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On Sunday Israel identified 20 activist groups from around the world whose members will be banned from entering the country because of their calls to boycott the Jewish state.

Believe it or not, this is a positive development. For the first time in its history, Israel has transcended its racist makeup and proved that it hates everyone: equally and globally.

But JVP is not happy. “JVP is banned from Israel” announced the headline of today’s JVP’s newsletter signed by Rebecca Vilkomerson.

“I’m equal parts furious and sad, Vilkomerson wrote, “the Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry put Jewish Voice for Peace on the list of organizations now officially banned from entering the state of Israel.”

I wonder why the JVPs are outraged. Did they expect to be excluded from Israel’s blanket ban just for being Jews? Is vilkomerson furious because she accepts that the Jewish State is her state?  Is this the kind of ‘solidarity’ the peace loving Jews are promoting?

For the first time in their history, the JVPs have put themselves in Palestinian shoes or as Vilkomerson expressed it in own words “we at JVP are now feeling the pain of exclusion.”

Better later than never…

If they want to burn it, you want to read it …

Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, 

Amazon.co.uk  ,  Amazon.com  and   here  (gilad.co.uk). 

Why has israel banned Jewish leftists but not members of Nazi-linked groups?

Why has Israel banned Jewish leftists but not members of Nazi-linked groups?

Israel has banned leaders and key activists from Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, among other groups that support BDS, from entering the country. So why doesn’t it extend the same restrictions to members of Nazi-affiliated groups?

Israeli BDS activists take part in an anti-corruption demonstration in Tel Aviv's Habima Square, December 9th, 2017. (Hagar Shezaf)

Israeli BDS activists take part in an anti-corruption demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, December 9th, 2017. (Hagar Shezaf)

Israel’s latest step in its self-described “offensive” against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is to include Jewish Voice for Peace, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and the American Friends Service Committee on a list of organizations whose leading members are banned from entering the country. Although the law barring boycott advocates was passed in March last year, the blacklisted organizations only came to light on Saturday. But while Jews who support the boycott movement are now barred from visiting the country, members of Nazi-allied organizations and anti-Semitic political parties continue to be allowed into Israel — including at the invitation of government officials.

The Israeli government apparently considers the banning of BDS activists acceptable behavior for a democracy, a view facilitated by its having very diligently cultivated and promoted the lie that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement aimed at destroying Israel. This lie has been remarkably successful, despite the clear statement on the official website of the BDS movement that its goal is to secure the same human and civil rights for Palestinians as everyone else living in Israeli-controlled territory. But if granting equal rights to everyone who lives in the territory controlled by Israel will cause the state to implode, then surely those who oppose BDS on those grounds are ignoring a fundamental problem — that a state which cannot survive if all its residents have equal rights is by definition not a democracy.

It’s also worth looking at which political opinions the government does not deem grounds for banning individuals from the country. In September last year, for example, Sebastian Gorka — who belongs to a Hungarian Nazi-allied group, and sports a medal declaring his affiliation — was a keynote speaker at an anti-terrorism conference in the Israeli coastal city of Herzliya.

Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka seen wearing a medal from the Vitzei Rend, a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. (Fox News screenshot)

Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka seen wearing a medal from the Vitzei Rend, a Hungarian group listed by the State Department as having collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. (Fox News screenshot)

Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria and the country’s vice chancellor, has been hosted by members of the ruling Likud party several times in recent years, despite the party’s Nazi roots and Strache’s own dabbling in anti-Semitic imagery. While Israel’s Foreign Ministry in December took the step of temporarily restricting contacts with FPA government ministers following the Austrian elections, they are not prohibited from visiting Israel — and Netanyahu’s office is said to be in favor of accepting the party’s claim to have broken with its anti-Semitic roots.

In January of last year, the secretary-general of France’s far-right National Front (Front National, or FN) — which has traditionally counted anti-Semitism among its core ideologies, despite party head Marine Le Pen’s attempts to refurbish its image — visited Israel for a series of meetings with government and army officials. As with the Freedom Party of Austria, Israel officially refrains from direct contact with the FN due to its history, but nonetheless allows its members into the country.

In its choices over who and who not to ban from the country, the Israeli government has demonstrated that its concern is not what Nazis and the rest of the far-right think about Jews, but rather what they think about Muslims, leftists, and the proper way — i.e., the authoritarian way — to run a country. Gorka, Strache et al mirror the dominant political culture in Israel today, one that is anti-democratic, racist, populist, virulently Islamophobic and intolerant of the merest suggestion of left-liberal values. And while their Nazi ties may prompt “official” Israel to purse its lips and furrow its brows, they are clearly quite welcome to visit the country.

Protesters hold signs calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) during a Washington, D.C., protest against Israel's offensive on Gaza, August 2, 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Protesters hold signs calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) during a Washington, D.C., protest against Israel’s offensive on Gaza, August 2, 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Yet there’s a further element to Israel’s latest blacklist, which specifically concerns Jewish Voice for Peace. They are, of course, not unique in being banned from the country for their political outlook; as executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson told +972 on Saturday, JVP members are “now joining Palestinians, Muslims from around the world, people of color and other activists who are often barred from entry.” JVP members are also far from the first Jewish left-wing activists to have been refused entry to Israel-Palestine.

But the formality of this step — banning outright leaders and key members of a Jewish organization — is yet further concrete evidence of what has been clear for some time: that even as the Israeli government makes crystal-clear its commitment to having as few non-Jews as possible within its borders, it is also becoming increasingly blatant about possessing criteria for the types of Jews it considers kosher.

This latest incident should be added to a gallery of physical and moral assaults on the Jews who fall outside these criteria, whether it’s the recent deportation of a Kenyan Jew with a valid visa (“Do you want half of Africa coming here?” cried an Interior Ministry official); the arrests of women who try to bring a Torah to the Western Wall; and the violent disdain for Reform Jews, whom Jerusalem’s chief rabbi not long ago declared to be “worse than Holocaust deniers.”

There is a toxic mix of prejudices at work here: racism, illiberalism, religious chauvinism. As the checks on these impulses fall by the wayside — and not just in Israel — these blacklists will continue to grow. For now, though, this latest ban sends a clear message: acting in support of Palestinian human and civil rights makes you persona non grata in Israel

israel to bar U.S. Jewish group from country over #BDS support

Source

As part of its anti-BDS campaign, members of Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the U.S., will not be able to enter Israel.

Jewish Voice for Peace executive-director Rebecca Vilkomerson in her office in New York, March 2017. (Photo by Maya Levin)

Jewish Voice for Peace executive-director Rebecca Vilkomerson in her office in New York, March 2017. (Photo by Maya Levin)

 

Israel confirmed on Saturday that the American Jewish organization, Jewish Voice for Peace,* is among 20 organizations from around the world that have been placed on a BDS blacklist, which means its members will be barred from entering Israel. JVP is the only Jewish organization in the U.S. that openly advocates for and identifies with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

As part of its war on BDS, the Strategic Affairs Ministry, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, has been compiling a list of pro-BDS organizations whose members will be barred from entering Israel. Last March, Israel passed a law preventing those who promote BDS from entering Israel, and in July, it prevented five activists from an interfaith delegation from boarding  plane to Israel –  including Rabbi Alissa Wise, Deputy Director of JVP.

Asked for a response to the decision, JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, whose husband and children are Israeli citizens, told +972:

 

Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP leaders from entry is disconcerting but not surprising, given the consistent erosion of democratic norms as well as increasing fear of the BDS movement in Israel.  JVP members are now joining Palestinians, Muslims from around the world, people of color and other activists who are often barred from entry.

Our JVP members have no doubt about the justice of fighting for equality and freedom for all people in Israel/Palestine, and the legitimacy of BDS to bring that closer.  We will not be bullied by these attempts to punish us for a principled political stance that increasing numbers of Jews and all people worldwide support.

As someone with considerable family in Israel, this policy will be a personal hardship. But I also believe it is an indicator of the BDS movement’s growing strength and hope that it will bring the day closer when all people in Israel/Palestine will live together in equality and freedom.

According to the report in Haaretz, the ministry has refused to name the other 19 organizations that are on the list, which will be completed in March of this year. Reports in Israeli media noted that groups on the list are from all over the world, including South America, South Africa and Europe.

Erdan’s decision to include and name Jewish Voice for Peace is noteworthy. JVP is considered by the “pro-Israel” community to be a fringe anti-Israel group at best, and anti-Semitic, at worst. (Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, recently called JVP “a group that displays a homicidal impulse towards Israel”).

The Israeli government is sending a clear message that being Jewish will not protect you from being denied entry into the Jewish State, the one that proclaims to be a safe haven for Jews. This, despite the fact that under Israel’s Law of Return, any Jew (a person with one Jewish grandparent) can move to Israel and become a citizen, and is offered a financial benefits package for doing so. Moreover, the anti-BDS law does not overrule the Law of Return. This means a pro-BDS Jew may not be allowed to enter or visit Israel, but they can still naturalize there and receive money from the state.

It is unclear whether JVP is the only explicitly Jewish organization on the blacklist. Since the 2014 Gaza War, JVP has been one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in America. According to Vilkomerson, it has 15,000 dues-paying members, over 70 chapters, 250,000 supporters and over half a million social media followers.

Irish Minister Advocates Palestinian State, Calls for Boycott of israel

Source

Irish Minister Finian McGrath. (Photo: Finian McGrath Page)

Irish Minister Finian McGrath has expressed support for boycotting Israel over “unfair” treatment of Palestinians. Reported the Irish Examiner.

The Irish Independent politician, who has served as Minister of State for Disability Issues since May 2016 made his comments following Trumps declaration of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel and after threatening to cut off aid to UNRWA, the main UN agency established in 1949 to provide relief assistance to millions of Palestinian refugees.

In a recent interview with The Irish Examiner McGrath was critical of the US role in inciting violence in the area, and expressed that his views are shared by many Irish citizens.

Talking about an Irish prioritization of a Palestinian state in 2018, McGrath said, “It is something that we all feel very strongly about and that is something that I put into the program for government.”

 

“We want to make sure that that message goes to the United Nations and we are advocating that at the UN and that is our position. It is non-negotiable; it is a very important issue for us.”

He also advocated for boycotting Israel until they comply with international law:

“I don’t like boycotts in my heart because I prefer dialogue and interaction but I think we have reached the stage now and particularly in recent weeks now where [Donald] Trump and the Israelis were saying that Jerusalem will become a capital of Israel. And that has provoked me, that has provoked me very seriously.

“So my personal view is we have to start looking at the whole economic sanctions area now because it just is unfair. The vast majority of the international community, they want to see Palestine recognized, they want to seem treated with respect and their human rights recognized and that’s not going to happen, so I think we have to up it a gear.

“But we have to up it a gear at the UN and at the EU. But also in relation to if it comes to it [boycotting] I will support it.”

 

McGrath’s determination to declare a Palestinian state in 2018 is shared by other Irish Ministers, such as Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who declared that Trump’s decision was “premature and ill advised”.

“Jerusalem is one of the permanent status issues which is to be settled in a final peace agreement in the Middle East. It has been the united position of the international community for decades, as set out in UN Security Council resolutions, that a resolution of the Middle East conflict will include agreement for Jerusalem to be the capital of both Israel and the future state of Palestine,” Coveney said to the Irish Times.

Israeli Psychosis on Full Display

December 29, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

In his attack on BDS activist Justine Sachs, Ynet writer Asaf Wohl performs every tribal morbidity. Sachs is apparently a Jewish pro-Palestinian woman who helped convince New Zealand singer Lorde to cancel her performance in Israel.  Wohl accuses her of inciting ‘violence,’ ‘auto-anti-Semitsm,’ ‘siding with terrorists,’ effectively everything except child molesting.

Among my sins I am critical of some aspects of cultural BDS, but to interpret BDS as a violent act is rather over the top. If anything, BDS was designed to dilute Palestinian militant resistance. Furthermore, boycotting is a very Jewish practice, known as excommunication or herem in Hebrew. You would expect Wohl, an ardent Zionist, to be slightly more familiar with his own culture.

If you ever wonder what is the meaning of Judeo-centrism, Wohl provides the full scope. The Israeli settler really believes that he is the centre of this universe. “The difference between you and me, Justin, is that I’m an Israeli Jew and you’re a Jew. That’s it. You have no nationality. You live in a negligible, insignificant sheepfold stuck somewhere at the end of the universe (New Zealand).” For Wohl, Israel is the world’s capital and Israeliness is the ultimate embodiment of human as well as of Jewish existence.

Sachs is accused of “auto-anti-Semitism” which in Wohl’s words is a “drive towards human self-destruction.” And I wonder whether Wohl really thinks that Sachs persuading a singer not to perform in Tel Aviv points at self destructive or even suicidal inclinations?

Wohl writes that he feels “no need to take the side of a culture which hasn’t brought anything to the world apart from terror. The confidence I am given by the Israeli nationality allows me to pick the democratic, free side.” For Wohl, so it seems, Arabs and Muslims contributed nothing to the world but ‘terror’ yet Israel pretty much invented democracy and the Western ethos in general. Someone should remind this Israeli caricature that democracy is from Athens while state terror against the indigenous people of the land is actually Israel’s official policy.

Wohl seems to believe that the Jewish state is an exponent of Western values. Seemingly, Wohl doesn’t grasp that loving your neighbours is at the core of the Western civilisation’s ethos.

Look how Wohl refers to his Palestinian neighbours.

They are

“the side which hijacks planes, the side which hangs gay people on electric poles, the side which rips out girls’ throats in honor killings, the side which has failed to establish any state or society which isn’t totalitarian, chauvinist, primitive and/or murderous.”

Not a lot of Western compassion on Wohl’s part. And you may be left wondering: which side is Wohl on? The side of ardent Zionist Harvey Weinstein? Or maybe the side of people who plundered other people’s land and dropped white phosphorus on schools in Gaza?

Wohl clearly sides with the people who made that strip of land into the biggest open air prison known to man. It is easy to grasp why Justine Sachs and a few other Diaspora Jews side with the Palestinians and oppose Israel. It is far more depressing to admit that the  majority of them probably side with Wohl.

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Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto,

Amazon.co.uk , Amazon.com and  here (gilad.co.uk).

What were the top #BDS victories of 2017?

What were the top BDS victories of 2017?

The movement for Palestinian rights continues to grow across the world. (Alisdare Hickson/Flickr)

 

It took just four days for a world famous singer to cancel her Tel Aviv show in response to her fans’ urging her to respect the international picket line.

Lorde’s decision on Christmas Eve to pull the Tel Aviv show from her world tour – remarking that booking the gig in the first place “wasn’t the right call” – completed a successful year for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

2017 saw artists, performers, athletes, politicians, cultural workers, faith-based organizations, students, academics, unions and activists grow the movement for Palestinian rights.

Israel has been taking notice, of course.

Early on in the year, key Israel lobby groups admitted in a secret report – obtained and published in full by The Electronic Intifada – that they had failed to counter the Palestine solidarity movement, despite vastly increasing their spending.

The report outlined Israel’s failure to stem the “impressive growth” and “significant successes” of the BDS movement and set out strategies, endorsed by the Israeli government, aimed at reversing the deterioration in Israel’s position.

Similarly, in March, Israel’s top anti-BDS strategist conceded that the boycott Israel movement is winning – despite the Israeli government’s allocation of tens of millions of dollars and the formation of an entire governmental ministry whose sole focus is to combat BDS.

Speaking at an anti-BDS conference in New York, Israeli ambassador Danny Danon stated that “the BDS movement is still active and still strong. Every day, academic and religious groups, student unions and investment firms are all falling prey to boycott calls.”

“Our South Africa moment is nearing”

As Israel’s strategists and representatives panicked over their failures to stem the BDS tide, polls in the UK, Canada and the US all showed that mainstream, public support for boycott and sanctions on Israel is growing apace.

In California, the state’s Democratic Party chapter approved a resolution – without debate – that condemned Israel’s illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and the denial of entry to activists who criticize the state.

It also, notably, signaled support for organizers who engage with the BDS movement and who face expanding repression on campuses and by local, state and federal legislatures.

In the UK in December, the Labour Party’s shadow development minister Kate Osamor, a strong ally of opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted her explicit approval of BDS.

Over the summer, the High Court in London ruled that the Conservative government acted unlawfully in trying to prevent local councils in the UK from divesting from firms involved in Israel’s military occupation, dealing a blow to Israel’s representatives seeking to criminalize the BDS movement.

Meanwhile, in the face of Israel’s overt attempts to silence him and crush the popularity of BDS, Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the BDS movement, urged people around the world to increase boycott campaigns as the best way to show support for him and for the Palestinian people.

Barghouti won the Gandhi Peace Award in April for his work as a human rights defender. He had been subjected by Israel to a travel ban and open threats by that state’s top ministers last year.

In March, Barghouti praised a landmark report published by the United Nations which concluded that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, drawing praise from Palestinians and ire from Israel and its allies.

Barghouti said the UN report was a sign for Palestinians that “our South Africa moment is nearing,” adding that the report was “a stark indicator that Israel’s apartheid is destined to end, as South Africa’s did.”

He remarked that the report “may well be the very first beam of light that ushers the dawn of sanctions against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

Here are some of the other victories of the BDS movement in 2017, as reported by The Electronic Intifada.

Athletes, writers, chefs and artists ditched Israel

In February, professional US football players pulled out of a propaganda tour to Israel, with Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett announcing he would “not be used” by Israel’s government to whitewash its violations of Palestinian rights.

“I want to be a ‘voice for the voiceless,’” Bennett added, “and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.”

Over the summer, a group of filmmakers, artists and presenters canceled their scheduled appearances at TLVFest, Israel’s premier LGBTQ film festival in Tel Aviv, following appeals by queer Palestinian activists and boycott supporters to withdraw.

The high-profile cancellations in support of the BDS campaign prompted The Jerusalem Post to admit that while the festival “has been around for more than a decade, it has never faced a campaign this successful against it.”

Later in the fall, some of the world’s top chefs pulled out of Round Tables, an Israeli government-sponsored propaganda initiative that uses international cuisine to gloss over Israel’s image.

“The Round Tables festival is taking place while the Israeli military and Israeli settlers illegally living on stolen Palestinian land attack Palestinians during their annual olive harvest,” said Zaid Shoaibi, from PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

And the literary group PEN America quietly revealed that it was no longer accepting funds from the Israeli government for its annual World Voices festival, following appeals from more than 250 high-profile writers, poets and publishers.

The group had come under heavy criticism for using funds from the Israeli government, which jails Palestinian journalists and writers in Israel and the occupied West Bank for their work.

BDS endorsed by cities, churches, political groups and unions

Norway’s largest and most influential trade union organization called for a full boycott of Israel in May, just days after the Norwegian municipality of Lillehammer passed a resolution to boycott Israeli settlement goods.

Lillehammer became the third city in Norway to call for a settlement boycott, following Trondheim and Tromsø.

The city council of Barcelona voted to uphold the right to boycott Israel in April, while condemning Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, calling for an end to the Gaza blockade and ensuring that the city’s public procurement policies exclude companies that profit from Israel’s human rights abuses.

In July, the 95,000-member strong Mennonite Church USA joined a growing number of Christian denominations that have taken action to support Palestinian human rights over the last few years.

In a resolution approved by 98 percent of delegates at its Florida convention, the church voted to condemn Israel’s military occupation and to support divestment from companies that profit from violations of Palestinian rights.

On 7 July, the World Communion of Reformed Churches called on the more than 80 million people in its member churches worldwide to examine their investments related to the situation in Palestine.

A month later, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) overwhelmingly voted to endorse the BDS call.

“Just as we answered the call to boycott South Africa during apartheid, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people,” the DSA deputy national director stated.

The largest democratic socialist organization in the United States with more than 25,000 members, DSA has seen its membership quadruple with the resurgence of left-wing politics in the US and Europe, particularly since the 2016 presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.

In the UK, Jewish members of the Labour Party founded a new group – Jewish Voice for Labour – that presents a challenge to an existing Israel lobby group positioning itself as the representative of Jewish members of the party.

Jewish Voice for Labour’s founding document upholds “the right of supporters of justice for Palestinians to engage in solidarity activities, such as boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

Also in the UK, the country’s largest union for school teachers launched a boycott of HP over the technology giant’s role in the Israeli occupation.

G4S was further ostracized

The world’s largest private security company, G4S, continued to face heavy financial losses around the world as its profiteering from human rights abuses came under further scrutiny.

G4S has helped operate Israeli prisons where Palestinians are tortured and has managed juvenile prisons, detention and deportation facilities in the US and UK.

The firm has also been implicated in labor and human rights abuses from Africa to the offshore facilities where Australia detains refugees and asylum seekers.

An Ecuadorian research institute announced in February that it had dropped its contract with G4S after meeting with activists.

Following a campaign led by Jordan BDS, UN Women in Jordan dropped its G4S contract in October, becoming the fifth UN agency in Jordan to do so.

And the transportation board of Sacramento, California, moved to dump its security contract with G4S following work by campaigners to highlight the company’s role in rights abuses in Palestine and the US.

Last year, G4S announced that it was dropping a slate of controversial businesses, including its Israel subsidiary and juvenile detention services in the US.

The Financial Times described the move as an attempt by G4S to distance itself from “reputationally damaging work.”

But campaigners around the world vowed to maintain pressure on the company as long as it remains complicit in violations of Palestinian human rights.

Students fought

College students across the US continued to mobilize for Palestinian rights despite increasing repression by administrations and outside Israel lobby groups.

Divestment resolutions were passed at Tufts University in Boston, the University of Michigan, California State University – Long Beach and at De Anza Community College in California.

A resolution passed by students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison voted unanimously to back a broad-based resolution calling on the university to drop its ties to companies that profit from mass incarceration, theft of indigenous land, police violence, the US-Mexico border wall, economic injustices against people of color and Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine.

In New York, students at Fordham University brought violations of their rights to organize and assemble to court, challenging the decision by an administrator to ban Students for Justice in Palestine.

And in the UK, the annual, global Israeli Apartheid Week – a series of events meant to raise awareness of Israel’s policies of apartheid – took place on more than 30 university campuses across the country despite a government backed campaign of repression.

Anti-BDS legislation was challenged

Two federal lawsuits were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union which challenge the basic constitutionality of state and federal anti-BDS laws.

Israel lobby groups have accelerated their promotion of legislation aimed at chilling free speech and blacklisting advocates for Palestinian rights. By December, 23 states passed anti-BDS laws.

There is also a bill pending in Congress – the Israel Anti-Boycott Act – that could impose large fines and long prison sentences on companies and their personnel if they are deemed to be complying with a boycott on Israel or its settlements called for by an international organization.

A lawsuit was filed against the state of Kansas in October on behalf of a public high school math teacher, Esther Koontz, who participates in the consumer boycott of Israeli goods.

Koontz is a member of the Mennonite Church USA, which passed a resolution in July in support of divestment from companies that profit from violations of Palestinian rights.

Another lawsuit was filed against the state of Arizona in December on behalf of an attorney who contracts with the government to provide legal advice to incarcerated persons, according to the ACLU. He participates in the boycott of Israel.

But in Oregon, three separate bills impugning the BDS movement failed to get a hearing, following sustained pressure by human rights activists and faith leaders across the state.

The bills were backed by Jewish communal groups that organize nationwide efforts to combat the movement for Palestinian rights.

Activists said that the failure of the bills should encourage campaigners fighting back against similar anti-BDS measures in state legislatures and the US Congress.

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