OCHA: 10% increase in israeli (apartheid state) demolition of Palestinian structures in 2018

OSCHA: 10% increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian structures in 2018

Ma’an – January 20, 2019

BETHLEHEM – During 2018, Israel demolished or seized 460 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, a 10% increase compared to 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory confirmed in a new report.

The OCHA report stated, “While in Area C, which makes over 60% of the area of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control, the number of structures targeted in both years was approximately the same and stood at 270, occupied East Jerusalem recorded a 25% increase compared to 2017. Of all structures targeted during 2018, 56 were donor-funded humanitarian aid structures, representing a 46% decline, compared to 2017 figures.”

In December, said OCHA’s monthly report on West Bank demolitions and displacement, “39 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized by the Israeli authorities, the same as the 2018 monthly average, displacing 56 people and affecting over 270 others.”

OCHA added that two of this month’s demolitions were on punitive grounds and the rest were due to the lack of the difficult-to-obtain Israeli building permits.

The report confirmed that “about 70% of the structures targeted this month were in Area C. The largest incident took place on December 4th in the Beit Hanina – al-Marwaha neighborhood, a community on the ‘Jerusalem side’ of the wall barrier, where eight commercial structures were demolished and goods were confiscated.”

“Five families, who reported a financial loss of almost 1.5 million Israeli shekels (. $400,000), were affected. In another incident, the livelihoods of 70 people were affected by the demolition of a leather store on the margins of al-Bireh City near the Ramallah district.”

On December 5th, the Israeli authorities dismantled and seized two structures in the Hebron district to be used as a school for 45 students. Three tents erected subsequently by the Palestinian Ministry of Education to replace the targeted structures were also seized.

OCHA mentioned that this is the seventh case during 2018 where educational structures were targeted under the pretext of “lack of building permits.” It is estimated that 50 West Bank schools, 42 in Area C and eight in East Jerusalem, have pending demolition orders against all or part of their facilities, according to the Education Cluster.

“In East Jerusalem, nine structures were targeted during December, nearly half the monthly average during the rest of 2018.”

“In one incident, Palestinians were forced to demolish a 20 year-old building home to two families, comprising 14 people. The families reported that since the start of the legal proceedings, they have paid the municipality 160,000 shekels ($43,382) in fines, in addition to 25,000 shekels ($6,778) they spent on the demolition itself.”

“During the month, the Israeli military carried out two punitive demolitions, bringing the total in 2018 to six, compared to nine in 2017.”

In addition, the report mentioned that in al-Amari refugee camp in the Ramallah district, Israeli forces blew up and destroyed a four-story building and severely damaged two adjacent buildings, displacing 23 people, including six children. The targeted building was home to the family of a man who reportedly killed an Israeli soldier with a brick during a search operation in the camp in May 2018.

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Campaign to revoke Jewish National Fund charitable status important

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By Yves Engler · January 11, 2019

Last week the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), under pressure from Palestine solidarity activists, began an audit of the Jewish National Fund.

The audit is significant. Beyond weakening the oldest Israel-focused charity in the country, it will put other Israeli charities in Canada on notice and reflects the growth of Palestine solidarity activism.

Fulfilling the time-consuming audit will be a bureaucratic headache for a group that has eleven offices across Canada and has raised $100 million over the past five years. Already, the credibility of the second most powerful Israel-oriented charity in Canada has taken a hit with the CBC exposé headlined “Canadian charity  used donations to fund projects linked to Israeli military” and related  stories. If the CRA revokes the JNF’s charitable status it would be devastating for fundraising and deter politicians/celebrities from attending their events.

Similar to the JNF, other registered charities support the Israeli military in direct contravention of CRA rules. Additionally, some of these organizations — like the JNF — fund projects supporting West Bank settlements, which Global Affairs Canada considers in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

At a broader level, critical attention on the JNF could lead to questioning of why Canadian taxpayers subsidize hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to a wealthy country. Despite a GDP per capita greater than Spain or Italy (and equal to Japan), hundreds of registered Canadian charities deliver hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Israel. How many Canadian charities funnel money to Spain or Japan?

If the CRA revoked JNF’s charitable status it would boost Stop the JNF campaigns elsewhere. In England they convinced former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to withdraw as patron of the JNF (Theresa May seems to have also stayed away), and 68 members of parliament endorsed a bill to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.”

The CRA audit of a charity that’s found favour with numerous Canadian prime ministers is long in the making and reflects the growth of Palestinian solidarity consciousness. Born in a West Bank village demolished to make way for the JNF’s Canada Park, Ismail Zayid has been complaining to the CRA about its charitable status for 40 years. Lebanese Canadian Ron Saba “has been indefatigable over the years in writing to various Canadian government departments and officials, corporations, and media to rescind tax exemption status and endorsement of” what he calls the “racist JNF tax fraud”. During the Liberal party convention in 2006 Saba was widely smeared for drawing attention to leadership candidate Bob Rae’s ties to the JNF. Saba has put in multiple Access to Information requests regarding the JNF, demonstrating government spying of its critics and long-standing knowledge of the organization’s dubious practices. Under the headline “Event you may want to monitor,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Caitlin Workman sent the CRA a communication about a 2011 Independent Jewish Voices event in Ottawa stating: “author of the Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy, Yves Engler, will give a talk on Canada and the Jewish National Fund.”

Former Independent Jewish Voices coordinator Tyler Levitan was smeared for working diligently on the issue. In addition to important organizing, he discovered that the Ottawa Citizen sponsored JNF galas they covered and, suggesting a formal financial relationship, ran an ad for the JNF’s 2013 Ottawa Gala the day after the event.

At the Green Party convention in 2016 Corey Levine pushed a resolution to revoke the JNF’s charitable status because it practices “institutional  discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel.” The effort brought the issue into the mainstream though she, IJV and the entire Green  Party were smeared  as “hard core  Jew haters” for even considering the resolution.

Fifteen months ago IJV and four individuals filed a detailed complaint to the CRA and Minister of National Revenue over the JNF. For a number of years IJV has run a “Stop the JNF” campaign and for more than a decade activists across the country have picketed local JNF fundraising galas. These efforts have benefited from many in Palestine/Israel, notably the work of Uri Davies and Adalah.

As I have written before, the campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status is important beyond winning the specific demand. It draws attention to the racism intrinsic to Zionism and highlights Canada’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession.

The CRA is undoubtedly facing significant behind-the-scenes pressure to let the JNF off with little more than a slap on the wrists. So, it’s important that people send their MP  the CBC exposé and add their name to Independent Jewish Voices’ campaign  to revoke the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status.

israel (apartheid state) Seeks $250 Billion Compensation Related to Stealing Historic Palestine

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By Stephen Lendman,

The Jewish state gives chutzpah new meaning. It seeks $250 billion from seven Arab states and Iran in connection to its theft of historic Palestine – one of history’s great crimes.

It took 78% in 1948, the Palestinian Nakba, the remainder in June 1967, including the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, the UN-declared international city, illegally occupied by Israel, illegally declared its exclusive capital.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, set the tone during the Nakba for what followed, saying “(e)very attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion” – forcefully eliminating resistance, assuring Israeli control over historic Palestine.

According to Israeli Hadashot TV news, Israel demands Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Syria Tunisia and Yemen correct what it calls a “historic injustice” – a colossal perversion of truth.

It’s reinventing history, blaming countries it attacked and other regional ones for its illegal 1948 and 1967 land grabs – demanding they compensate Jews for the loss of property, assets and other possessions they left behind in Arab countries because of war the Jewish state waged against neighboring ones.

What Ilan Pappe described as “the ethnic cleaning of Palestine in 1948,” Edward Said called its “holocaust,” saying:

“Every human calamity is different, but there is value in seeing analogies and perhaps hidden similarities.” He called Nazi extermination “the lowest point of (Jewish) collective existence.”

Occupied Palestinians “are as powerless as Jews were” under Hitler, devastated by “power used for evil purposes” subjugating them, denying their fundamental rights – compensation due to THEM from the Jewish state, NOT the other way around, NOT from countries harmed by Israeli high crimes, ongoing endlessly with full support and encouragement from the US and West.

Israel’s claim for $250 billion in compensation from other countries would be laughable if the high crimes leading to its creation and throughout its existence weren’t so serious – as pure evil as what Nazis did to Jews.

The Nakba was one of history’s great crimes, state terror on a massive scale against an entire population.

Israel’s 1948 war without mercy depopulated Palestinian cities, towns and villages, massacring innocent victims, raping their women, committing other atrocities – notably burning, bulldozing, blowing up, or stealing homes, property and other possessions, dispossessing around 800,000 Palestinians, preventing them from returning home.

Israel’s 1967 six-day war was planned “16 years in advance,” according to IDF general Mordechai Hod, saying “(w)e lived with the plan. We slept on the plan. We ate the plan. Constantly we perfected it.”

It was all about stealing the remaining 22% of historic Palestine not taken in 1948, including East Jerusalem.

It had nothing to do with self-defense to avoid annihilation, the falsified claim at the time – later debunked by PM Menachem Begin and IDF generals, admitting Israel faced no threats from Arab states.

General Haim Barlev later said

“(w)e were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the six-day war, and we had never thought of such a possibility.”

The world community did nothing to intervene against Israeli aggression, nor at any time throughout the Jewish state’s existence.

Militarism, institutionalized racism, and apartheid rule define the state of Israel, its young (male and female) children indoctrinated to be warriors.

Militarized education begins in kindergarten, at home, and in all other aspects of society – the line between military and civil society blurred.

Children are taught to believe Palestinians must be subjugated, violence against them is OK, along with destroying their property and killing them – notions ingrained in developing minds before they’re able to understand how they’re manipulated.

They’re taught to believe Arabs are inferior and Palestinians are enemies, military service essential, wars and other forms of violence natural, peace unattainable.

The history of the Jewish state isn’t pretty. Over half a century of illegal occupation continues. Israel aims to steal all valued parts of Judea and Samaria.

Its plan calls for confining Palestinians in isolated cantons on worthless scrubland, militarized rule controlling virtually all aspects of their lives, endless war against them continuing without declaring it.

The world community remains dismissive about what’s been going on for decades. The lives, rights and welfare of millions of Palestinians don’t matter.

Israeli law demands any no-peace/peace deal with Palestinians must compensate the Jewish exodus from Arab countries as explained above.

Palestinians are the aggrieved, not Jews. They warrant major compensation for Israel’s theft of their homeland, private property, and other possessions – along with damages for loss of their fundamental rights, illegal occupation, and brutalized treatment.

For over half a century, Palestinians have endured institutionalized Israeli persecution with no power over their daily lives, along with virtually every imaginable form of indignity.

Living under brutalizing occupation, they face daily state terror, economic strangulation, collective punishment, denial of their fundamental rights affirmed under international law, arrest and imprisonment without just cause, torture, assassinations, bulldozing of their home, crops and orchards, along with daily assaults on their dignity for being Arabs in a Jewish state.

With no power to resist, they’re denied redress in international tribunals dismissive of their rights. Endless misery defines their daily lives.

THEY deserve compensation for over half a century of conflict, illegal occupation, dispossession, and forever immiseration, no end of it in sight – no justice unless and until their suffering ends, their fundamental rights restored.

The history of Occupied Palestine is the triumph of wrong over right, a festering injustice, an entire people harmed, no end to their suffering in sight, no interest in their rights and welfare by the world community.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image: Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2017. (Flash90)

Apartheid state continues to destroy real history, 1,200-year-old Islamic-period town found in israel, but you will never see it

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Nebi Zechariah once housed Christians and Muslims living together, and now it’s going to house a logistics center. Here’s why Israeli salvage digs almost always end in development

Ariel David
Ariel David

Archaeologists digging in central Israel have uncovered the remains of a prosperous rural town from the early Islamic period. They unearthed luxurious homes decorated with mosaics and arches, plastered water cisterns, and once-bustling oil presses and glass workshops from about a thousand years ago.

All of which most people will never get to see, as the area has already been handed over to developers, and the ruins will soon be covered or destroyed by the construction of a new logistics center for the nearby city of Modi’in.

The decision by the Israel Antiquities Authority to allow development on the site has caused consternation among some archaeologists and residents in Modi’in, who say regulators are too quick to greenlight projects even when important ancient remains have been found. The IAA counters that it must strike a balance between protecting antiquities and the needs of Israel’s economy; in this specific case, it says the excavation it conducted at the site documented and preserved knowledge of the early Islamic settlement.

The remains, located on a hill known as Nebi Zechariah or Chorvat Zechariah, emerged in early 2018 during a salvage dig – an archaeological excavation that precedes all building projects in Israel that break new land.

“In a salvage excavation, you never know what you are going to get,” says Avraham Tendler, the IAA archaeologist who led the dig. “I was expecting to find Hellenistic, Roman or Byzantine remains, so this [early Islamic town] was quite a surprise.”

Mainly Christian

Modi’in is a modern city built between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as a commuter town. It does not purport to be a reincarnation of the ancient town of Modiin, the precise location of which has been lost to time.

Nebi Zechariah, located northwest of the modern city, is surrounded by archaeological treasures, lining the ancient road connecting Jaffa to Jerusalem which ran by the site. Previous finds nearby include a Byzantine monastery, caves used by hermit monks from the same era, and an ornate burial from Roman times.

In this case, the archaeologists unearthed dozens of buildings in a well-planned town dated to the 9th-11th centuries, when the Abbasid and Fatimid caliphates ruled the region.

The find is unexpected because the area around the modern-day city of Modi’in was thought to have been sparsely populated during the early Islamic period, Tendler explains. The dig, which extended over around 4,000 square meters, uncovered only a part of what must have been a fairly large settlement, he adds.

Even more interestingly, Nebi Zechariah may have been home to both Christian and Muslim communities. The archaeologists found crosses chiseled into the stones of the town’s olive presses and fragmentary Greek inscriptions, the written language commonly used by Christians in the region.  In one of the homes they also found a clay pilgrimage token, a Christian souvenir that was probably brought back from Egypt, Tendler reports.

But the researchers also unearthed glass weights with Arabic inscriptions – which were used to weigh coins with great precision – and a partial Arabic inscription that may cite a koranic verse.

No signs of a church or mosque have been found, but there is enough evidence to suggest the town had a mixed religious identity.

The idea that Nebi Zechariah’s population may have been mainly Christian is consistent with what we know from the archaeological record and contemporary chroniclers, which tell us that, especially in the rural areas, Christian communities continued to exist well after the Islamic conquest of the Levant, Tendler says.

Missing signs of violence

There is a longstanding debate amongst scholars over how violent and destructive the early Islamic occupation of the Holy Land was, and how problematic the relations between the various communities were.

Finds like Nebi Zechariah point to a relatively peaceful transition after Muslim armies seized the region from the Byzantine Empire in the first half of the 7th century, says Uzi Dahari, an archaeologist and former deputy director of the IAA.

“When the Muslims arrived, power changed hands but not much else happened, except for a slow process of conversion to Islam by part of the population, especially Christian Arabs and some Jews as well,” says Dahari, who was not involved in the dig at Nebi Zechariah.

Whoever the locals were, they certainly achieved a modicum of prosperity, given that Tendler’s team also unearthed jewelry and large homes with mosaic floors and arched ceilings. The large number of warehouses and workshops that produced oil, glass, wine and other commodities suggests that Nebi Zechariah served as an important farming and industrial center for Jerusalem and nearby Ramle, which was the provincial capital during the Caliphate, Tendler concludes.

The town declined during the Crusades, and was briefly revived in the Mameluke period between the 13th and 14th centuries before being definitively abandoned.

The name Nebi Zechariah refers to the father of John the Baptist – who is mentioned in the Gospels and the Koran – rather than the biblical prophet of the same name. However, the name dates to the Mameluk period, after the town was abandoned, and was probably linked to a burial place attributed to this holy figure, so we don’t know how the inhabitants of the early Islamic period called the place, Tendler says.

A wide assortment of spaces

In the foreseeable future, any further study of the ancient town will be confined to the finds that the archaeologists were able to remove from the site during their hurried four-months excavation last year.

As of last week, a sign perched atop Nebi Zechariah announced the upcoming construction of the new industrial and logistics center, offering “a wide assortment of spaces for industry, storage and logistics.”

Modi’in takes its name from the ancient village traditionally believed to have been the place of origin of the Maccabees, who in the 2nd century B.C.E. led the revolt against the Greeks celebrated by Jews during Hanukkah.

“But after the Greeks and the Maccabees and the Romans, people still lived here, though not a lot of attention has been paid to them,” says Marion Stone, a local preservation activist.  “A lot of evidence has been found, and a lot of remains have been destroyed.”

Given the many archaeological sites already found nearby, the area should never have been zoned for development, says Stone, who urged authorities to stop the destruction of the early Islamic town and make it accessible to visitors instead.

“This is a special site, it’s an amazing place, and to destroy something like that is just criminal,” Stone says.

The salvage dig, and the planned construction, only cover a small part of the much larger site, which will remain not only untouched by private development – but unexcavated, says Doron Ben Ami, the IAA’s chief archaeologist for Israel’s central district.

“Every excavation is a destructive act,” Ben Ami says. “The moment you dig, even if you don’t release the land for development, the remains themselves begin to suffer from erosion processes, so the less we dig, the more antiquities are preserved.”

As for the area that was investigated, it was well documented to preserve as much knowledge of it as possible, Ben Ami says.

Most of the remains will be covered and built over so that, theoretically, they might be unearthed again by future generations once the planned logistics center is no longer in use, he says. “This is the balance we have to find between preserving archaeological sites while being aware of the development needs of the country,” says Ben Ami. “The easiest thing to do would be to say categorically: ‘No, everything is important, don’t touch anything.’ It’s more complicated is to find a way to say yes, with certain limitations.”

But archaeologists interviewed by Haaretz say cases like Nebi Zechariah have less to do with a delicate balancing act between the needs of the past and the present, and more to do with the underlying problems of the system governing salvage excavations in Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is underfunded and would never be able to conduct digs at the myriad of building projects across the country on its meager state budget, explains Dahari, the former IAA deputy chief.

These excavations, including the one at Nebi Zechariah, are instead funded by the developer, creating an instant conflict of interest for the archaeological authorities.

While the IAA theoretically has the right to prevent works from going ahead, its financial dependence on the developers means there is pressure on it to release the land as quickly as possible, Dahari says.

Almost nothing gets saved

One might think that the Israeli authorities would favor preserving Jewish sites over Christian or Muslim ones. But when it comes to salvage excavations, there seems to be little room to save sites linked to any particular group or time period, says Yonatan Mizrahi, an archaeologist and CEO of Emek Shaveh, an NGO that works to protect cultural heritage. In almost all cases, the same fate awaits anything from prehistoric remains to coveted ruins from the time of the First or Second Temple.

“From the beginning, it is well understood by all parties that, after the excavations, the land will be released for development regardless to what is found at the site,” Mizrahi says.

It takes a really unique find to stop the bulldozers in their tracks. This happened, for example, when road works led to the discovery of a spectacular Roman-era mosaic in Lod in 1996.

But these exceptions are few and far between, says Mizrahi. “The IAA has no policy regarding what to save and what not to save, how to protect unique sites that are found,” he says. “Development is destroying antiquities and we haven’t prioritized any places to save.”

Where the cultural identity of a discovery does come into play is in mobilizing public pressure that can sometimes push authorities and developers to adapt their plans to the finds or give up on construction altogether, he notes. This may yet be the case with the First Temple remains that were recently uncovered in a huge salvage dig in Beit Shemesh ahead of a road expansion and which are now at the center of a roaring debate between scholars, residents and conservationists.

But there is much less interest in saving sites from the early Islamic period like Nebi Zechariah. “In Beit Shemesh they found a layer from the 7th century B.C.E., from the First Temple period, so people are now saying ‘this is part of our history.’” Mizrahi notes. “In cases like Nebi Zechariah there is much less pressure: no one says ‘it’s part of our history’ – but it is very much part of our history as well.”

Fired School Employee Sues Over israel (apartheid state) Loyalty Oath

Fired School Employee Sues Over Israel Loyalty Oath

A Texas school employee has sued her school district because it fired her after she refused to sign a loyalty oath to Israel, as Marjorie Cohn reports.

By Marjorie Cohn
Truthout

In a return to the bad old days of McCarthyism, Bahia Amawi, a U.S. 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.

Amwai: Knows firsthand oppression. (DemocracyNow/YouTube)

On Dec. 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.”

BDS

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.

Vikomerson: No progress without pressure on Israel. (Twitter)

“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 U.S. 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’ 1st Amendment Protection

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.”

Barghouti: McCarthyite tactics.  (YouTube/BBC)

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.

Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

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 an advisory board member of Veterans for Peace. Her latest book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, was recently published in an updated second edition.

Erdogan: Netanyahu is an ‘oppressor, cruel, at the head of state terror’

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‘Palestinians are under Israeli pressures, violence and intimidation policies no less grave than the oppression done to the Jews during the Second World War,’ Erdogan said.

Tensions between Turkey and Israel ratcheted up on Sunday as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an “oppressor”.

Netanyahu hit back in a speech later the same day, calling Erdogan an “anti-Semitic dictator” who is “obsessed with Israel”.

Speaking to a group of youths, Erdogan said: “Do not kick the enemy you have brought down to the ground. You are not a Jew in Israel,” in an apparent reference to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza.

The comments did not go unnoticed in Israel, however, with Netanyahu later criticised Turkey over what he claims an occupation of northern Cyprus.

“Erdogan – the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey – should not preach to Israel,” Netanyahu tweeted.

This was swiftly met by reply from Ibrahim Kalin, one of Erdogan’s top aides.

“Bashing Erdogan or using Kurds as a political chip will not save [Netanyahu] from his domestic troubles,” Kalin wrote.

The Israeli prime minister has recently seen his cabinet rocked by the departure of defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, with many analysts predicting Israel will soon be pushed towards elections as a result.

Netanyahu is also facing multiple allegations of corruption in several cases levelled against him.

Erdogan entered the fray again.

“You are an oppressor, cruel and at the head of state terror,” Erdogan told the Israeli prime minister in a televised speech in Istanbul.

Erdogan lambasted Netanyahu for “occupying Palestine” and committing “sins, crimes against humanity, massacres”.

On December 14, Erdogan said Palestinians were subjected to “pressures, violence and intimidation policies no less grave than the oppression done to the Jews during the Second World War,” referring to the Holocaust.

The Turkish president has previously called Israel “the world’s most fascist and racist state”.

In May, Ankara ordered the Israeli ambassador out of Turkey in response to Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

Turkey is the only country in the world which has been frankly supporting the Palestinian cause and recognise the Israel is an occupation state. Current Turkish leaders do not accept forgetting the Israeli crimes against thousands of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.

Debunking Zionist dogma (myths)

Debunking Zionist dogma

Reality of Zionism

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By Lawrence Davidson

A lack of originality

One thing that characterises dogmatists is a lack of originality. You buy into the dogma and that’s it. Your worldview is complete – and so are your rationalisations, defensive pronouncements and complaints.

I have been an opponent of the Zionist dogma for almost 50 years because it (1) denies Palestinians their civil and communal rights; (2) corrupts many Jews with a siren song of racially-based nationalism; (3) undermines the concepts of international law and human rights and (4) seduces the US government into supporting Zionist ethnic nationalist ambitions.

During the last 20 years I have noticed that the arguments used by the Zionists to defend their policies and practices have been quite consistent. This can’t be because they are convincing, since they are clearly losing the battle for public opinion. It may be that being a dogmatist simply robs you of any originality and flexibility.

Recently I was again struck by this consistency when I read a brief piece published on 12 December 2018 in the New York Times (NYT) by David Harris, Chief Executive Officer of the American Jewish Committee. The piece, entitled “Why anti-Zionism Is malign” (“malign” here meaning malevolent) was written in reaction to an earlier (7 December 2018) NYT editorial column by Michelle Goldberg entitled “Anti-Zionism Is not anti-Semitism”.

The Harris piece lays out some of the basic Zionist arguments in defence of Israel and their complaints about opposition positions. That being so, I thought it presented a good opportunity to briefly run through these points and, not for the first time or the last, debunk each in turn. So here goes.

Arguments and counter-arguments

Argument 1: Anti-Zionists are really anti-Semites.

For anyone with an accurate historical view of anti-Zionism and an accurate definition of historical anti-Semitism, Harris’s assertion is hard to understand. From the historical perspective it is comparing apples and oranges. The only way to merge the two is by realigning reality.

Zionism is a political dogma that insists on an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine. It operates like a political party line. Anti-Semitism is the age-old prejudice against Jews as Jews. The way the Zionists attempt to realign the world so that the two different concepts merge is by making the false claim that the state of Israel represents every Jew on the planet. If you buy into that claim, it seems to follow that anyone who is critical of Israel must also be critical of Jews per se.

In her 7 December column, Michelle Goldberg called this proposition into question when she noted that “There’s a long history of Jewish anti-Zionism or non-Zionism, both secular and religious,” and this testifies to the fact that “it’s entirely possible to oppose Jewish ethno-nationalism without being a bigot”. Harris and his “committee” claimed to be “outraged” by this fact-based claim.

And what are we to make of the following point, also noted by Goldberg? If many Jews do not support Zionism or Israel, there are a number of anti-Semites who do. And Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is courting them as potential allies.The case may be that to take up the cause of ethnic nationalism you have to be a bigot.

Argument 2: “To deny the Jewish people, of all the peoples on earth, the right to self-determination surely is discriminatory.” 

One big problem here: many anti-Zionists do not actually deny Jews of the “right of self-determination”. What they really stipulate is that the Jews (or any other people) should not realise self-determination through racist policies, that in this case, deny another people (the Palestinians) of self-determination.This is one of the Zionists’ moral blindspots – the inability to see, or care about, the real consequences of their actions and ends. The use of the phrase “of all peoples on earth” implies a sense of exceptionalism that (as in so many other cases past and present) excuses all manner of crimes through the process of special pleading.

Argument 3: “To single out Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, for demonisation and isolation, while ignoring egregious human rights violators aplenty, once again smacks of anti-Jewish hatred.”

There are three parts to this claim: (1) that Israel is “the only liberal democracy in the Middle East”; (2) that it is being singled out for demonisation and isolation while others are ignored; and (3) this process must be an expression of “anti-Jewish hatred”. Basically, there is a lot of whining going on here.

Alas, Israel is not a liberal democracy. It has always been the case that its ideologically driven aim is to give full political and civil rights to Israeli Jews only, and to this end it has used democratic facades to hide the truth. As a consequence, Israel has worked itself into an apartheid state status – and apartheid is a crime against humanity under international law.

The belated realisation of this fact by “liberal Zionists” has created a lot of angst. If liberal Jews are increasingly alienated by Israeli behaviour, just how liberal can that country be?

As to the use of the term “demonisation”: it simply does not apply. The bases for criticising Israel are drawn from the standards of International law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is no wild mud slinging here. The charges of Israeli racism are fact based.

To complain that those critical of Israel aren’t equally critical of others reminds one of the little kid who, when caught being really bad, says: “Hey, what about those other guys?” As if catching him in the act, while not simultaneously chasing after others, somehow taints the accusation that the kid is a delinquent.

There is also the fact that if anti-Zionists appear to treat Israel differently, it is because the Zionist state has earned its special place of blame. How so? Agents of the Zionist state have worked for decades, and all too successfully, to arrange US and other Western support of racist and illegal expansionist Israeli policies and practices. As Michelle Goldberg again suggests, the result is the corruption of “fundamental American [and other Western] values” and, one might add, the waste of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. That being the case, the Zionists deserve “special scrutiny”.

Argument 4: The Israelis have always wanted peace. However, their “efforts to forge a peace deal with the Palestinians” have been “spurned time and again for over 70 years”.

This is an ideologically skewed version of the “peace process”. It is, of course, true that both parties have made repeated peace proposals. However, those made by Israel would have always resulted in an unsustainable Palestinian mini-state, essentially disarmed, economically under the thumb of Israel and open to incursions by its powerful and paranoid neighbour. This might appear to Zionists such as David Harris as a good faith effort at peace – his questionable view of reality could make it seem that way – but no Palestinian could agree to what would be a surrender of their national rights.

Conclusion

Zionist presentations of their case, at least to the general public, almost always come in the form of knee-jerk reactions to various forms of criticism. This was certainly the case of David Harris’s presentation, written out of “outrage” at the rather mild criticism of Zionist positions offered by Michelle Goldberg (herself Jewish).

Harris offers no new ideas, no compromises, and certainly no mea culpas. Under the circumstances the confused and uncertain reader might approach the seeming impasse of argument and counter-argument this way: it is perhaps not an issue of what is “real”. Dogmatists of every sort have a hard time assessing objective reality. It is more a question of what sort of a world do we want to be “real”. Are the notions of international law and human rights a better or worst basis for our world than ethnocentric nationalism and religious exclusivity? We know the Zionist answer to this question and just how sensitive they are to any challenges. What then is your preference?

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