Good advice from Israeli official. “Boycotting our illegal settlements is meaningless, you may as well boycott israel” #BDS

Top Israeli official admits that boycotting just the settlements is meaningless

Ron Brummer, executive director of operations for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, speaking at Bnai Torah synagogue in Atlanta in 2016.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is huge. A professional Israeli propagandist – Ron Brummer, chief of operations in Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Hasbara, has said recently:

Israel does not have two different economic ecosystems, like, Israel within the green line and Israel over the green line. If you want to divest from the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, you have to divest from Israel, which means you boycott Israel completely.”

Brummer spoke at the Israeli American Council on November 5— an organization funded by Sheldon Adelson– in a panel titled “The Real BDS: Bigotry, Discrimination and Slander.”

Brummer’s affirmation cuts through a discussion that has certainly divided waters.

Last year, Todd Gitlin, Peter Beinart, Kai Bird, Peter Brooks, Michael Walzer, Edward Witten, et al., wrote a letter in the New York Review of Books, titled “For an Economic Boycott and Political Nonrecognition of the Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories”. Whilst promoting a “targeted boycott of all goods and services from all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, and any investments that promote the Occupation”, they nonetheless “oppose an economic, political, or cultural boycott of Israel itself as defined by its June 4, 1967, borders” (and they in fact opened the letter with that statement).

In response, Angela Y. Davis, Chandler Davis, Richard A. Falk, Rashid Khalidi, and Alice Rothchild, et al., published a letter (also in the NYRB), which states that they “welcome the statement’s shattering of the taboo against boycotting Israeli entities that are complicit in—at least selective—violations of Palestinian human rights”, and yet noted the very critical problem they had with the letter:

“Defying common sense, however, the statement calls for boycotting settlements while letting Israel, the state that has illegally built and maintained those settlements for decades, off the hook,” they wrote. They wondered, moreover, “shouldn’t Israeli banks that are not based in settlements but finance their construction be targeted as well?”

Two years ago, I had translated a Hebrew Maariv article on my Facebook page, where Israeli bank officials were warning about a “financial-national tsunami”. The article by Ben Caspit noted that “the banks are in panic following a document produced by the research institute facilitating the EU. According to its recommendations, the union must boycott Israeli banks involved in financial activity in the occupied territories”. The upshot of this was further clarified by officials in the Israeli banking system:

“One way or another… it’s necessary to understand what will happen here on the day that it will be decided to ‘credit mark’. When you mark products it can harm part of the market here and there, but when they mark each credit that the bank gives beyond the Green Line [1967 line] and boycott that bank, the meaning of it is a property confiscation warrant on all the banks. The European banking and credit system is inextricably connected to the Israeli economy, no European bank will accompany projects in Israel, it will not be possible to receive credit in Europe and there is nothing we would be able to do about it”.

All of this completely confirms Brummer’s point about Israel having only one economic system, and it’s all invested in the occupation and the settlements anyway.

It’s important to understand just how much Brummer’s admission is ironic, coming from him. He’s a professional propagandist. He wouldn’t want to strengthen the BDS. But his point is, no doubt inadvertently, making a strong point for it, and for abandonment of ‘selective boycotts’. When I say ‘propagandist’, it’s not just vitriol. Reporter Philip Weiss is being semantically correct in describing Brummer as “the executive director for operations of the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy”, but that last part, “public diplomacy”, is literally called Hasbara in Hebrew. In Hebrew, that literally means ‘explaining’, but many around the world have come to know the Hebrew term as synonymous with propaganda, just like with the Russian name ‘Pravda’ for the old Soviet state-outlet.  

Brummer’s boss is Minister Gilad Erdan, who, as minister of propaganda, has staged vile and lowly propaganda campaigns, such as the recent one against Marwan Barghouti during the Palestinian prisoner hunger-strike. Erdan’s office is entrusted with the task of combatting BDS globally, which it does by all sorts of means, many of which are admittedly kept secret and best not exposed. Erdan has claimed that “the message has to be that it’s not worth being a BDS activist” and that “they [BDS activists] should know that there will be a price”.

Indeed, Brummer also pointed out that there will be a price – and that was the headline of this site’s coverage: “Want to boycott Israel? Be my guest, there will be a pricetag”. This is a somewhat chilling, even if indirect, hint to ‘pricetag attacks’ by religious-fundamentalist Israeli settlers against Palestinians, supposedly as an act of revenge. The most notorious of these has been the burning alive of the Dawabshe family in Duma in 2015.

Brummer’s bellicose rhetoric reaches ridiculous levels, like when he talks about the ‘carrot and the stick’ in regards to BDS: “With BDS promoters… You always have to use the stick and carrot theory. First you hit them with the stick then you hit them with the carrot” – so even the carrot is a stick, when it comes to BDS. Perhaps Brummer believes that the only language that the non-violent BDS movement understands is force – or perhaps it is the only language that he himself can speak.

As to the ‘selctive boycott’ strategy, the notion has been championed by intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, whom I have challenged recently on this point. As I wrote: 

“This notion, of seeing the settlements as separate to Israel, touches upon a very central issue, concerning responsibility: Is it not fair to say, that the Israeli state is responsible for this occupation, for these settlements? Historical appraisal shows that it is – and that the enactment and maintenance of the settler project has been supported de facto by Israel from right to left. We can then wonder why criticism of Israel, as a whole, is so contentious. If a thief has stolen some items, is it not the thief who is to be regarded as responsible?”

Israeli-British professor Avi Shlaim has recently stated in an interview for Jadaliyya, that he is “in favour of EU sanctions against Israel because Israel fails to live up to the terms of the association agreement it has with EU. The preamble of this agreement says Israel must respect the human rights of all the people under its rule. Israel systematically violates the human rights of the Palestinians and therefore I think and I hope that the EU would suspend this agreement until Israel lives up to its obligations.” 

Shlaim confirmed in that interview that BDS is not merely a strategy – it is the only valid strategy available to Palestinians:

“BDS is a global grass-roots movement which has been gathering support at a very impressive pace and it has had a large number of successes with major companies divesting from Israel. It has also had considerable impact on public opinion throughout the world, delegitimising the Israeli occupation. The Israelis take it very seriously. They have formed a unit with a budget of GBP 40 million in order to fight BDS by launching personal attacks on individuals and delegitimising them rather than engaging with the arguments of BDS. And it seems to me that there is now hope that western governments will change their policy of support for Israel… So going back to BDS, there is no hope for the Palestinians to bring about the end of occupation through the support of western governments or the UN, the only hope that the Palestinians have is through BDS.”

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy made a similar statement over a year ago: “we have no choice but to recognize that boycott, divestment and sanctions is the only game in town”.  

And now Brummer, top Israeli propagandist, even confirms that there is no such thing as a selective boycott of Israel. Either you’re in or you’re out.

Indeed, time to choose sides – which side of history you’re on. Israel will tell you that boycotting Israel is ‘anti-Semitic’ – aye, even the center-left lawmaker Merav Michaeli recently said that “a lot of the BDS movement is good old anti-Semitism.”

But in the end, you have to sift through this propaganda, and it becomes a very personal moral matter. To protect Apartheid – or to fight for freedom, justice and equality. And it seems quite obvious now, that you can’t really sit on the fence here – nor on the ‘green line’.  

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The U.S. Is Complicit in Slow-Motion Genocide in Palestine

In “democratic” israel you have different laws for people depending on their ethnic origins

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Israeli army says the soldiers ultimately ended the clash; none of the stone-throwers were arrested

In a video captured by human rights organization Yesh Din, masked Israeli settlers can be seen throwing stones at Palestinians below in front of IDF soldiers on November 17, 2017.In a video captured by human rights organization Yesh Din, masked Israeli settlers can be seen throwing stones at Palestinians below in front of IDF soldiers on November 17, 2017. Yesh Din, Twitter

Israeli oldiers were documented standing by as a group of settlers threw stones at Palestinians in the Nablus area on Friday.

The incident was caught on camera by researchers with organizations Yesh Din and Rabbis for Human Rights. The Israel Defense Forces said the video misrepresented the incident, and that the soldiers “took action to end the friction.” None of the stone-throwers were arrested.

 According to Yesh Din, at around 12:30 P.M., a trash fire started by a farmer near the Palestinian town of Burin began to spread. As firefighters arrived, a group of masked Israelis came to the area and began throwing stones at Palestinians present.
 As for the video, the IDF claims it was “documented at the beginning of the discord and does not represent the event.” The soldiers, says the IDF, “did act to end the incident. After the settlers acted forcefully, the soldiers dispersed them using stun grenades and riot control measures.”

According to the army, the fire began near Burin and spread toward Givat Ronen, but wasn’t started at the outpost in the first place. This weakens the settlers’ claim of deliberate arson.

Last Summer Haaretz published a report on police investigations of similar situations that lead to no arrests. Left wing activists documented at least nine incidents of Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians within two months, one in which police stood by as Israelis threw stones at Palestinians, that concluded without a single arrest.

Seven Years after israeli Forces Destroy Mosque, Muslim Worshipers Ordered to pay $37,000

IMEMC News & Agencies – November 17, 2017

 

 

Israeli occupation authorities have ordered Muslim worshipers to pay NIS130,000 ($37,000), seven years after destroying their mosque in Rahat, southern Israel.

Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court ruled, according to Days of Palestine, that the founders and operators of the mosque would pay the fine as a compensation to the state of Israel.

The lawsuit was filed by the Southern District Public Prosecutor’s Office, against eight residents of Rahat who were members of the mosque committee, and demanded compensation of NIS459,500 ($130,000).

Muslim worshipers, who are original Palestinian residents, remained at home when Zionists occupied Palestine in 1948, built it to fulfill their needs. They apparently applied for the needed licenses to build the mosque, but were refused.

Occupation authorities claim that the mosque was illegally built in 2010, by the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, on public property.

Six months after it was built, the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court and District Court marked the 400-square meter structure for demolition.

According to the state, the defendants initiated and conducted false procedures to delay and obstruct the evacuation, and even called on the public to oppose the demolition.

The defendants said that they had exhausted the legal procedures for preventing the mosque’s destruction and gave up, after the mosque was set to be demolished.

“Naturally, when you talk about a holy place built by the residents, and the residents see police forces in great numbers coming and demolishing the mosque, it bothers and hurts them,” they explained.

Palestinian torture survivors hunt ghosts of their past

Palestinian torture survivors hunt ghosts of their past

Jesse Rubin The Electronic Intifada 14 November 2017

Six men wearing hoods in a dark room are put in various stress positions while a seventh man wearing a guard's uniform stands next to one of them
A scene from Raed Andoni’s Ghost Hunting.

Somewhere in Ramallah, footsteps echo against the concrete of an empty warehouse basement. Raed Andoni guides a handcuffed and hooded man into a cavernous, gray room, his hand on the man’s shoulder.

“Here?” Andoni asks the hooded man, whose sight is blocked and hearing muffled.

“Yes,” the man replies, and Andoni lifts off the hood to reveal Mohammed Khattab, family man and former political prisoner.

Khattab, or Abu Atta, is a warm and fatherly figure, calm despite deeply repressed trauma from his time in prison, as the film reveals.

He exhales, looks at Andoni and the two men share a smile – not between jailer and jailed, but between comrades – in contradiction to the tension built to this point in the film.

So opens Ghost Hunting, director Raed Andoni’s latest genre-blurring feature which abandons standard portrayals of interrogation and imprisonment for an understated glimpse into the chaos that occupies and sometimes consumes prisoners’ minds.

The loose narrative depicts Abu Atta’s real encounters with the cruelty of Israel’s penitentiary system. But when the director cuts, the camera keeps rolling.

Moving between fiction and documentary, Ghost Hunting leaves room for its subjects to simultaneously express their deepest emotions from within the safety of fiction and also display their enduring trauma. Merging the two genres together translates the prisoners’ anxieties to the viewer; visually, it portrays an inability to distinguish a nightmare from being awake.

A very Palestinian experience

While familiar to the incarcerated everywhere, the film specifically speaks to the experience of the more than 800,000 Palestinians who have passed through Israeli detention, jail and prison.

First released at the Berlin International Film Festival or Berlinale in February this year, where it won first prize for best documentary, Ghost Hunting made its way to Washington, DC in October, where it showed at a sold-out opening night at the seventh annual DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival.

After the screening, Randa Wahbe, a former international advocacy officer at Addameer, a Palestinian human rights group, spoke about solidarity with Palestinians prisoners tried by Israeli military courts, where the conviction rate is more than 99 percent.

Palestinian prisoners are frequently tortured, psychologically and physically, held in interrogation for up to 75 days and often denied access to a lawyer for the majority of that time, said Wahbe. The film reveals the “depth of what happens [behind the statistics] and how long it stays with the prisoner.”

The effect on Palestinian society has been devastating, she added.

“This is exactly why incarceration is used as a tool of colonization and as a tool of occupation,” Wahbe told The Electronic Intifada. “It is an effective tool at trying to break down social structures.”

Ghost Hunting shows the minute pressures exerted by the system of incarceration which, she said, succeeds when it breaks the spirit of prisoners.

“The solidarity and the community that’s built,” as well as the individual resistance of the mind, is “a way to remember why they’re in prison, that they’re fighting for their nation and that is really what is at the center of it,” according to Wahbe.

Searching for Ghosts

Andoni assembled a cast entirely of former prisoners by placing a small ad in a Ramallah newspaper, he explains in the film. The ad sought former prisoners with some experience in architecture, general contracting or acting.

The viewer sees the casting process in one of the first scenes; Andoni sits on one side of a flimsy white desk interrogating ex-prisoners on their experiences the way an Israeli agent might press a current prisoner about their political affiliations.

The camera never leaves the gray room; it bears witness as former political prisoners, among them Mohammed Khattab, Atef al-Akhras, Adnan al-Hatab, Abdallah Moubarak, Ramzi Maqdisi and Andoni himself, rebuild from collective memory the infamous interrogation center in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound.

Their political affiliations are deliberately left out. With between 15 to 20 percent of the Palestinian population “at least jailed once,” said Andoni, “the reasons are not important.”

Andoni was born in Ramallah in 1967, the same year Israel occupied the West Bank. In 1985, he was arrested by Israeli soldiers and taken from his Beit Sahour home near Bethlehem to the Russian Compound.

Charged with belonging to a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a young Andoni was interrogated, tortured and imprisoned for a year – an experience that he said will never leave him.

Making Ghost Hunting was therefore not a question of “how” or “why” but “when,” Andoni said.

“This issue has been living with me since I was arrested at the age of 18, so the story is part of my unconscious behavior – like something living inside of me,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “As a filmmaker, as an artist, I think it’s about time to express these deep emotions that I experienced.”

Freedom of the mind

Not without a sense of humor, Andoni recalls the feeling of physical imprisonment, noting that for one year the only freedom he found was in his imagination.

“My first lesson in cinema was in that interrogation center,” he joked. “I thank the Israelis for teaching me cinema.”

Andoni says the idea for the film came as part of an effort to confront his trauma.

“I asked myself what could happen if I brought a group of ex-prisoners [together] and asked them to rebuild the interrogation center,” he said.

“But the moment the film started and I started to meet the characters, my script [became] useless.”

The former prisoners – including Maqdisi, the only professional actor in the group, who himself spent a year in prison – bring their own insight to Ghost Hunting.

Much of the film shows the process of drawing, planning and physically reconstructing the interrogation center under the quiet direction of Abu Atta.

When Adnan al-Hatab finishes reconstructing one of the cells, he calls over Abu Atta to examine the shade of gray of the cell’s interior.

Abu Atta approves the color and squeezes into a cell with barely enough room for a man to stand and turn around in. In what seems to be a playful gesture, he hunches down and smiles at the camera. But this is the kind of cell, the viewer is reminded, where Abu Atta spent 19 days of interrogation and torture.

Ghost Hunting has many such scenes, where the brutality of imprisonment is the underlying context but not the story.

Prisoners yesterday, comrades today

Man looking at camera is seen from chest up
Raed Andoni

Searching for this specific balance would have been impossible, Andoni said, if he was not an ex-prisoner himself. Forging relationships with his subjects was easier because he was not an outsider, both in regards to prison but also based on his own participation as a character in the film.

“[The cast] don’t feel that I’m a stranger, that they have to explain to me what prison is,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “We are already in front of that; that is behind us.”

Acquainted with the varied perceptions of prisoners within larger Palestinian society, Andoni said from the beginning he never approached the cast as victims “who need a kind of therapy … I would not do such a film.”

“We are all survivors who went through an extraordinary experience,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “This film was done with the pride of sharing … not with victimizing.”

In fact, the victim narrative so often applied to Palestinians undermines the collective struggle for liberation, the director argued.

“I think to free Palestine first we have to free our souls and believe in ourselves; if internally we are free, freeing the land is a matter of time,” he said.

“[If] we start to see ourselves as the victims, begging for support and help and money and funds, I think this is a kind of occupation of the soul.”

Weaponizing “tolerance”

The only scene that is entirely fictionalized in the film is one in which Anbar Ghannan, playing an Israeli interrogator, makes sexual advances on Ramzi Maqdisi, playing Ghannan, who was an actual victim of sexual assault by an Israeli guard.

Where one might expect this to be a commentary on how Israel markets itself as the only safe place for LGBTQ individuals in the region while simultaneously weaponizing the notion in the form of sexual assault – the scene has implications far deeper than criticism of this hypocrisy.

As the tension builds, a defiant Maqdisi finally breaks the nerve of the interrogator when he asks: “How does your fiancée stand you?”

At this, he is beaten and pushed against the wall, fiction becomes reality, as the participants later explain, and the real Ghannan must be restrained in order to keep from hurting the real Maqdisi.

In a subsequent scene, a more relaxed Ghannan explains that the dramatization became, for a moment, too real when “[Ramzi] provoked me by talking about my fiancée.”

Someone off-screen points out that the insult was directed at him, not his fiancée.

“I’ll get married before the film is screened,” Ghannan quips and the characters in the film laugh.

The harrowing scene was not, Andoni said, meant as a commentary on Israeli brutality but a celebration of Palestinian resistance. He called it the psychology of survivors.

“Palestinian society in general is a society of survivors because that’s what we do. We make a lot of jokes.”

The film, Andoni added, is intended to shine a spotlight on the “Palestinian soul.”

Palestinians, he said, “are fighters. They are survivors and they are humans. They are nice and kind and simple and sophisticated.”

“This is how we are.”

Jesse Rubin is a freelance journalist from New York. Twitter: @JesseJDRubin.

Everyday israeli jews express support for genocide “We need to kill Arabs”

Abby Martin | The Empire Files

On the streets of Jerusalem, Abby Martin interviews Jewish Israeli citizens from all walks of life. In several candid interviews, disturbing comments reveal commonly-held views about Palestinians and their future in the region. Israeli-born human rights activist and anti-Zionist, Ronnie Barkan, explains why these attitudes dominate Israeli society.

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Should British MPs Including the PM and Foreign Secretary be Lobbyists for israel, An Undeclared Nuclear-armed State?

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By Hans Stehling,

Apparently more than 80% of Conservative MPs at Westminster are members of the CFI lobby group for Israel. This is a powerful, influential, moneyed, political pressure group that holds a lavish dinner every year at the House of Commons for up to 700 guests and arranges trips to Israel (but not to the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights) for individual MPs, including various members of the cabinet, in order that they be indoctrinated into the Political Zionist movement.

There is clearly something dangerous about a non-elected pressure group for a foreign state being allowed to subvert the business of Parliament by exerting undue pressure upon our democratically elected representatives who we, as British citizens, pay out of our taxes to be our voice in Parliament in order to supervise and enact legislation for the benefit and security of the nation – but not for the citizens of a foreign state who have their own Legislative Assembly in Tel Aviv.

Last week, a Conservative Minister was forced to resign her position, as a consequence of her extraordinarily improper conduct in accompanying the head of the CFI lobby to12 secret meetings with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv and elsewhere including the Israeli military occupation force in the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

That particular ministerial career is, of course, now at an end and the lady has returned to the obscurity of the backbenches. However, the head of the CFI lobby for Israel who arranged the meetings, and who was inexplicably ennobled by David Cameron in 2015, still sits in the House of Lords.

The fact is that the British electorate, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or agnostic, did not and never will endorse Likud Political Zionism which is an ideological movement that has dispossessed and disenfranchised the entire 5m indigenous people of Palestine.

The majority of the people of Britain believes in racial equality, justice and the rule of law. Political Zionism rejects those concepts and, therefore, our Parliamentary representatives should reject radical Political Zionism – an ideology that has no place in a democratic society.

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