Without Palestine, There is No Arab Unity: Why Normalization with Israel Will Fail

August 10, 2022

Pro-Palestinian rally in Cairo. (Photo: Ali Martin, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

It seemed all but a done deal: Israel is finally managing to bend the Arabs to its will, and Palestine is becoming a marginal issue that no longer defines Israel’s relations with Arab countries. Indeed, normalization with Israel is afoot, and the Arabs, so it seems, have been finally tamed.

Not so fast. Many events continue to demonstrate the opposite. Take, for example, the Arab League two-day meeting in Cairo on July 31 – August 1. The meeting was largely dominated by discussions on Palestine and concluded with statements that called on Arab countries to reactivate the Arab boycott of Israel, until the latter abides by international law.

The strongest language came from the League’s Assistant Secretary-General who called for solidarity with the Palestinian people by boycotting companies that support the Israeli occupation.

The two-day Conference of the Liaison Officers of the Arab Regional Offices on the Boycott of Israel praised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has been under intense western pressures for its unrelenting advocacy of international action against Israel.

One of the recommendations by Arab officials was to support Arab boycott initiatives in accordance with the Tunis Arab Summit in March 2019, which resolved that “boycott of the Israeli occupation and its colonial regime is one of the effective and legitimate means to resist.”

Though one may rightly cast doubts on the significance of such statements in terms of dissuading Israel from its ongoing colonization schemes in Palestine, at least, it demonstrates that in terms of political discourse, the collective Arab position remains unchanged. This was also expressed clearly to US President Joe Biden during his latest visit to the Middle East. Biden may have expected to leave the region with major Arab concession to Israel – which would be considered a significant political victory for the pro-Israel members of his Democratic Party prior to the defining November midterm elections – but he received none.

What American officials do not understand is that Palestine is a deeply rooted emotional, cultural and spiritual issue for Arabs – and Muslims. Neither Biden, nor Donald Trump and Jared Kushner before him, could easily – or possibly – alter that.

Indeed, anyone who is familiar with the history of the centrality of Palestine in the Arab discourse understands that Palestine is not a mere political question that is governed by opportunism, and immediate political or geopolitical interests. Modern Arab history is a testament to the fact that no matter how great US-Western-Israeli pressures and however weak or divided the Arabs are, Palestine will continue to reign supreme as the cause of all Arabs. Political platitudes aside, the Palestinian struggle for freedom remains a recurring theme in Arab poetry, art, sports, religion, and culture in all its manifestations.

This is not an opinion, but a demonstrable fact.

The latest Arab Center Washington DC (ACW) public opinion poll examined the views of 28,288 Arabs in 13 different countries. Majority of the 350 million Arabs continue to hold the same view as previous generations of Arabs did: Palestine is an Arab cause and Israel is the main threat.

The Arab Opinion Index (AOI) of late 2020 is not the first of its kind. In fact, it is the seventh such study to be conducted since 2011. The trend remains stable. All the US-Israeli plots – and bribes – to sideline Palestine and the Palestinians have failed and, despite purported diplomatic ‘successes’, they will continue to fail.

According to the poll: Vast majority of Arabs – 81 percent – oppose US policy towards Palestine; 89 percent and 81 percent believe that Israel and the US respectively are “the largest threat” to their individual countries’ national security. Particularly important, majority of Arab respondents insist that the “Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs and not simply the Palestinians.” This includes 89 percent of Saudis and 88 percent of Qataris.

Arabs may disagree on many issues, and they do. They might stand at opposite sides of regional and international conflicts, and they do. They might even go to war against one another and, sadly, they often do. But Palestine remains the exception. Historically, it has been the Arabs’ most compelling case for unity. When governments forget that, and they often do, the Arab streets constantly remind them of why Palestine is not for sale and is not a subject for self-serving compromises.

For Arabs, Palestine is also a personal and intimate subject. Numerous Arab households have framed photos of Arab martyrs who were killed by Israel during previous wars or were killed fighting for Palestine. This means that no amount of normalization or even outright recognition of Israel by an Arab country can wash away Israel’s sordid past or menacing image in the eyes of ordinary Arabs.

A most telling example of this is how Egyptians and Jordanians answered the AOI question “Would you support or oppose diplomatic recognition of Israel by your country?” The interesting thing about this question is that both Cairo and Amman already recognized Israel and have diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv since 1979 and 1994, respectively. Still, to this day, 93 percent of Jordanians and 85 percent of Egyptians still oppose that recognition as if it never took place.

The argument that Arab public opinion carries no weight in non-democratic societies neglects the fact that every form of government is predicated on some form of legitimacy, if not through a direct vote, it is through other means. Considering the degree of involvement the cause of Palestine carries in every aspect of Arab societies – on the street, in the mosque and church, in universities, sports, civil society organizations and much more – disowning Palestine would be a major delegitimizing factor and a risky political move.

American politicians, who are constantly angling for quick political victories on behalf of Israel in the Middle East do not understand, or simply do not care that marginalizing Palestine and incorporating Israel into the Arab body politic is not simply unethical, but also a major destabilizing factor in an already unstable region.

Historically, such attempts have failed, and often miserably so, as apartheid Israel remains as hated by those who normalized as much as it is hated by those who have not. Nothing will ever change that, as long as Palestine remains an occupied country.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

CHOMSKY ON ISRAELI APARTHEID, CELEBRITY ACTIVISTS, BDS AND THE ONE-STATE SOLUTION

Chomsky believes that calling Israeli policies towards Palestinians “apartheid” is actually a “gift to Israel”, at least, if by apartheid one refers to the South-African style apartheid.

JULY 5TH, 2022

RAMZY BAROUD

This is, according to the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci, the ‘interregnum’- the rare and seismic moment in history when great transitions occur, when empires collapse and others rise, and when new conflicts and struggles ensue.

The Gramscian ‘interregnum, however, is not a smooth transition, for these profound changes often embody a ‘crisis,’ which “consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born”.

“In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear,” the anti-fascist intellectual wrote in his famous “Prison Notebooks”.

Even before the Russia-Ukraine war and the subsequent deepening of the Russia-NATO crisis, the world was clearly experiencing an interregnum of sorts – the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, the global recession, the rising inequality, the destabilization of the Middle East, the ‘Arab Spring’, the refugee crisis, the new ‘scramble for Africa’, the US attempt at weakening China, the US’ own political instability, the war on democracy and decline of the American empire ..

Recent events, however, have finally given these earth-shattering changes greater clarity, with Russia making its move against NATO expansion, and with China and other rising economies – BRICS nations – refusing to toe the American line.

To reflect on all of these changes, and more, we spoke with the world’s ‘most cited’ and respected intellectual, MIT Professor Noam Chomsky.

The main objective of our interview was to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the Palestinian struggle during this ongoing ‘interregnum’. Chomsky shared with us his views about the war in Ukraine and its actual root causes.

The interview, however, largely focused on Palestine, Chomsky’s views of the language, the tactics and solutions affiliated with the Palestinian struggle and the Palestinian discourse. Below are some of Chomsky’s thoughts on these issues, taken from a longer conversation that can be viewed here.

CHOMSKY ON ISRAELI APARTHEID

Chomsky believes that calling Israeli policies towards Palestinians “apartheid” is actually a “gift to Israel”, at least, if by apartheid one refers to the South-African style apartheid.

“I have held for a long time that the Occupied Territories are much worse than South Africa. South Africa needed its black population, it relied on them,” Chomsky said, adding: “The black population was 85% of the population. It was the workforce; the country couldn’t function without that population and, as a result, they tried to make their situation more or less tolerable to the international community. (…) They were hoping for international recognition, which they didn’t get.”

So, if the Bantustans were, in Chomsky’s opinion, “more or less livable,” the same “is not true for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Israel just wants to get rid of the people, doesn’t want them. And its policies for the last 50 years, with not much variation, have been just somehow making life unlivable, so you will go somewhere else.”

These repressive policies apply in the entirety of the Palestinian territory: “In Gaza, (they) just destroy them,” Chomsky said. “There’s over two million people now living in hideous conditions, barely survivable. International law organizations say that they are not likely to even be able to survive in a couple of years. (…) In the Occupied Territories, in the West Bank, atrocities (take place) every day.”

Chomsky also thinks that Israel, unlike South Africa, is not seeking the international community’s approval. “The brazenness of Israeli actions is pretty striking. They do what they want, knowing the United States will support them. Well, this is much worse than what happened in South Africa; it’s not an effort to somehow accommodate the Palestinian population as a suppressed workforce, it’s just to get rid of them.”

CHOMSKY ON THE NEW PALESTINIAN UNITY

The events of May 2021 and the popular unity among Palestinians are “a very positive change”, in Chomsky’s opinion. “For one thing, what has severely impeded the Palestinian struggle is the conflict between Hamas and the PLO. If it’s not resolved, it’s a great gift to Israel.”

Palestinians also managed to overcome the territorial fragmentation, according to Chomsky: “Also, the split between the legal boundaries” separating Israel from “the expanded area of greater Palestine” was always a hindrance to Palestinian unity. That is now being overcome, as the Palestinian struggle “is turning into the same struggle. Palestinians are all in it together.”

“B’tselem and Human Rights Watch’s description of the whole region as a region of apartheid – though I don’t entirely agree with it for the reasons I mentioned, because I think it’s not harsh enough – nevertheless, it is a step towards recognizing that there is something crucially in common between all this area.”

“So, I think this is a positive step. It is wise and promising for Palestinians to recognize ‘we’re all in it together’, and that includes the diaspora communities. Yes, it’s a common struggle,” Chomsky concluded.

CHOMSKY ON ONE STATE, TWO STATES

Though support for a one state has grown exponentially in recent years, to the extent that a recent public opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), concluded that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank now supports the one-state solution, Chomsky warns against discussions that don’t prioritize the more urgent conversation of Tel Aviv’s colonial quest for a “greater Israel.”

“We should not be deluded into thinking that events are developing towards a one-state outcome or towards a confederation, as it’s now being discussed by some of the Israeli left. It’s not moving in that direction, that’s not even an option for now. Israel will never accept it as long as it has the option of greater Israel. And, furthermore, there is no support for it in the international community, none. Not even the African states.”

“The two-states, well, we can talk about it but you have to recognize that we have to struggle against the ongoing live option of a greater Israel.” Indeed, according to Chomsky, “much of the discussion of this topic seems to me misplaced.”

“It is mostly a debate between two states and one state that eliminates the most important option, the live option, the one that’s being pursued, namely greater Israel. Establishing a greater Israel, where Israel takes over whatever it wants in the West Bank, crushes Gaza, and annexes – illegally – the Syrian Golan Heights .., just takes what it wants, avoids the Palestinian population concentrations, so, it doesn’t incorporate them. They don’t want the Palestinians because of what is called the democratic Jewish state, the pretense of a democratic Jewish state in which the state is the sovereign state of the Jewish people. So, my state, but not the state of some Palestinian villager.”

Chomsky continues, “To maintain that pretense, you have to keep a large Jewish majority, then you can somehow pretend it’s not repressive. But so the policy is a greater Israel, in which you won’t have any demographic problem. The main concentrations of Palestinians are excluded in other areas, they are basically being expelled.”

CHOMSKY ON BDS, INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

We also asked Chomsky about the growing solidarity with Palestinians on the international stage, on social media, and the support for the Palestinian struggle among many public personalities and celebrities.

“I don’t think mainstream celebrities mean that much. What matters is what is happening among the general population in the United States. In Israel, unfortunately, the population is moving to the right. It is one of the few countries I know, maybe the only one, where younger people are more reactionary than older ones.”

“The United States is going in the opposite direction,” Chomsky continued, as “young people are more critical of Israel, more and more supportive of Palestinian rights.”

Regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), Chomsky acknowledged the significant role played by the global grassroots movement, though he noted that BDS “has a mixed record”. The movement should become “more flexible (and) more thoughtful about the effects of actions”, Chomsky noted.

“The groundwork is there,” Chomsky concluded. “It is necessary to think carefully about how to carry it forward.”

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

AS MORE STUDENTS, FACULTY BACK BDS, AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES MAINTAIN APARTHEID TIES

MAY 31ST, 2022

A poster on a closed shop shows an Israeli milk carton and Arabic in red reads: “boycott,” during a general strike, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories are on strike in a rare collective action against Israel’s policies, as the war, now in its second week, showed no signs of abating. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

JESSICA BUXBAUM

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — This month, City University of New York’s (CUNY) law school faculty unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, joining a chorus of American universities advocating for Palestinian rights. Harvard University’s Crimson newspaper endorsed the movement earlier this year, with 50 of the school’s faculty members supporting the decision. And in March, the Middle East Studies Association also voted to endorse the BDS movement.

As college campuses across the U.S. grow in their support for Palestine, their administrations – many still having relations with major Israeli universities complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine – appear less likely to agree. With that in mind, BDS activists urge supporters to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

HOW ISRAELI UNIVERSITIES ARE COMPLICIT

As illustrated by Visualizing Palestine, a data-driven project crafting graphics on the Palestine-Israel issue, several notable Israeli universities assist the state in maintaining its oppression of Palestinians. Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Ariel University, Haifa University, Bar-Ilan University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the Technion Institute of Technology all contribute to ongoing colonial violence.

Israeli academic Aparthied

Credit | VisualizingImpact

Israeli academic Aparthied

Credit | VisualizingImpact

For instance, Tel Aviv University invites weapon manufacturers like Elbit Systems to its annual Technology Employment Fair and invites students to Elbit Systems events for the purpose of recruitment. The school has also played a role in establishing the Israeli army’s military doctrines and ethical codes and training students to provide legal defense through its army reserve program. The school’s Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine is currently keeping 63 Palestinian corpses in a medical lab freezer as part of Israel’s policy of withholding bodies to use as bargaining chips in future negotiations.

Technion also works with arms developers, partnering with Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems on research projects. Technion, Ben-Gurion, and Bar-Ilan all participated in building a humanoid robot with funding provided by the Israeli and U.S. defense departments. Bar-Ilan and Technion also collaborate with the Israeli military to develop equipment used in executing home demolitions.

Hebrew University coordinates with the Israeli police in harassing and surveilling nearby Palestinian communities. Haifa University hosts a program training students on how to become “digital advocates for Israel.” And Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Ben-Gurion, and Haifa University offered benefits and scholarships to students who participated in the military assault on Gaza in 2014.

These universities are deeply entwined in Israel’s apartheid, making their American partners also indirectly complicit.

AMERICAN ACADEMIA AND ISRAELI APARTHEID

Despite growing calls from student activists for their schools to support the BDS movement, American universities continue to collaborate with Israel.

“The university is putting itself at risk of importing the racist policies of the Israeli state into university campuses because of the collaboration that’s required,” Nasreen Abd Elal, information designer at Visualizing Palestine, told MintPress News. Abd Elal was referring to Columbia University’s dual degree program with Tel Aviv University, which was launched in 2020. She was involved in the student campaign against it at Columbia.

Columbia isn’t the only American school linked to complicit Israeli universities, though. Many of the U.S.’ leading universities coordinate with Israeli institutions. The following schools have study-abroad exchange programs or research partnerships with Tel Aviv University, in addition to Columbia and CUNY:

Technion and Cornell partnered together to create the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in 2011. Washington University of St. Louis partners with Technion through its McDonnell International Scholars Academy. The University of Illinois partners with both Tel Aviv and Hebrew University through its research center, Discovery Partners Institute. In 2019 Ariel University, which is located in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, announced a partnership with Florida Atlantic University.

Many of these academic institutions are also heavily invested in Israeli companies, including ColumbiaTuftsUNC, and Urbana-Champaign. Harvard grabbed headlines in April when its newspaper endorsed the BDS movement, but the school maintains investments in several companies listed on the UN’s database of companies involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. These include Bookings Holdings, Expedia, General Mills, and Motorola.

While BDS campaigns across college campuses have gained momentum, to this day no American university has actually divested from Israel.

NOT JUST ACADEMIA

Schools aren’t the only ones associating with Israeli universities. Several American companies also have ties.

Technion has partnered with American corporations Google, IBM, Intel, Nvidia, KLA, Amazon, Medtronic, Cisco, Marvell, and Cadence Design Systems. IBM has also participated in events with Ariel University, according to the research center Who Profits from the OccupationSoftware company PTC began collaborating with Technion on a research and development center in 2021.

BGN Technologies, Ben-Gurion’s technology transfer company, established its Advanced Technologies Park. The park’s tenants include American firms dbMotion and Oracle. BGN Technologies also works with American entities the Georgia Institute of Technology, Nexant, Delek US, Duquesne Light Company, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, and the MITRE Corporation, through its joint consortium related to developing cyber protection infrastructure.

And the Cleveland Clinic Foundation entered into an academic cooperation agreement with the Hebrew University in 2017.

SUPPRESSING PALESTINIAN ACADEMIC FREEDOM

BDS resolutions in academia aren’t passing at a record or even significant rate, but Abd Elal says the administrative reaction to those that have passed demonstrates the movement is working:

The instinctual response of administrators tends to come out swinging in opposition saying, “We’ll never commit to divestment.“ But the fact they feel obliged to respond is provoking that confrontation. Students and faculty are seeing how the university will throw out the democratic mandate because of their interest in maintaining good relationships with their investors.”

Abd Elal added that these campaigns have managed to garner a groundswell of support, and that, in itself, is powerful. “There have been significant strides made in building solidarity on campus and getting people to commit to not going to these institutions and putting pressure on the administration to end [the agreements],” she said.

The call for an academic boycott goes beyond the institutional level, however. “The Israeli state and occupation marginalize Palestinian students and universities and restrict access of international scholars and students to Palestinian universities, which is a significant threat to academic freedom,” Abd Elal said.

In February, the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGATpublished new instructions on foreign entry into the West Bank. These guidelines included a swath of new restrictions for individuals wishing to learn or work at Palestinian universities. Foreign lecturers must hold a doctorate and can only teach in certain fields. COGAT will permit only 150 foreign students at Palestinian universities each year and can limit the fields of study open to them.

As detailed above, many American universities have academic agreements with Israeli universities. Yet promoting a free exchange of ideas between Israeli and American academics tends to ignore the crippling hold Israel has on Palestinian education.

Abd Elal explained that Visualizing Palestine’s graphic wasn’t meant to just describe how Israeli universities are complicit in apartheid, but also how the Israeli state has an interest in suppressing Palestinian academic freedom. “The occupation really cuts off Palestinians from the academic community,” she said. “So for that reason, the academic boycott is a key way of standing in solidarity with our academic peers.”

Feature photo | Nasser Nasser | AP

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

WATCH: Full Palestine Chronicle Interview with Professor Noam Chomsky

June 17, 2022

Palestine Chronicle editors Ramzy Baroud and Romana Rubeo hosted IMT Professor and world-renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky. (Photo: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Palestine Chronicle editors Ramzy Baroud and Romana Rubeo hosted a special guest on Thursday, June 16, IMT Professor and world-renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky.

The wide-ranging interview examined numerous topics. Though the focus of the discussion was Palestine, the Palestinian struggle was discussed within a global geopolitical context, including the war in Ukraine and US foreign policy. 

Regarding Palestine, Chomsky answered questions pertaining to the one-state solution, the BDS movement, Israeli apartheid and Palestinian resistance. 

Below is the full interview with Professor Chomsky.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Pro-Palestine Campaign Urges Boycott of New Zealand Film Festival Until ‘Israel’ Ties Cut

June 17, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of ‘Israel’ [PACBI] called for boycott of Doc Edge Festival in New Zealand until it drops partnership with the Zionist regime’s embassy.

The call for the boycott came after Doc Edge named the ‘Israeli’ embassy as a supporter on its website.

In a statement released on Thursday, PACBI, a founding member of the global BDS movement, said that accepting any funding from the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime would be a vicious attempt to normalize the apartheid and military occupation of Palestine.

The group, which includes hundreds of film professionals, movie directors and international artists, called for effective measures to hold the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime accountable for its brutal oppression of Palestinians.

PACBI said that Doc Edge is complicit through its art-washing partnership with apartheid ‘Israel,’ urging all film professionals to boycott it.

More than 200 prominent filmmakers have pledged not to submit films in “events partially or fully sponsored by complicit ‘Israeli’ institutions until ‘Israel’ complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights.”

“No documentary film should have a free pass to promote the violation of international law, whether it is an ‘Israeli,’ US or NZ production; consistently applying the same principle to all. Any film institution that programmed such a film would expect “common sense” boycotts from conscientious film audiences,” the statement added

Many artists, including Hollywood stars, have taken issue with the festival showing films by ‘Israeli’ directors, but none from Palestinians.

They have strongly censured the Tel Aviv regime for its murder of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was killed in cold blood by ‘Israeli’ occupation forces at Jenin refugee camp.

The artists decried the hypocrisy of the Western governments which “have rushed to impose blanket boycotts and sanctions in response to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine,” while they “continue to fund and shield ‘Israel’s’ decades-long occupation and grave human rights violations against Palestinians.”

“There must be no double standards when it comes to the basic human right to freedom from persecution and oppression and the right to life and to dignity.”

The group, inspired partly by the international boycotts against apartheid in South Africa, is calling for the boycott of institutions that are complicit in the Zionist regime’s crimes and its settlement expansion policies.

The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations pushing for “various forms of boycott against ‘Israel’ until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have since then joined the BDS movement, which calls for people and groups across the world to cut economic, cultural, and academic ties to Tel Aviv and to help promote the Palestinian cause.

McGill University Administration Amps up Anti-Palestinian Campaign

May 7, 2022

McGill University is silencing Silence Palestine Solidarity. (Poster: via BDS Coalition)

By Yves Engler

 – Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and a number of other books. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit his website: yvesengler.com.

The McGill administration and Israel lobby have waged a multiyear campaign against student democracy and Palestinian solidarity and recently threatened the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) financial arrangement after students voted overwhelmingly for the “Palestine Solidarity Policy”.

A month ago, 71% of students voted for a resolution that commits SSMU to take a stand against Israel’s system of racial discrimination. The resolution called for a host of measures including SSMU divesting from and boycotting “corporations and institutions complicit in settler-colonial apartheid against Palestinians.”
In response, B’nai B’rith released a statement labeling “SSMU’s behavior…antisemitic”. It “called on McGill University to immediately cease funding SSMU until it rescinds this bogus referendum result.”

The administration responded by threatening to terminate its Memorandum of Agreement with SSMU, which regulates fees, use of name and other matters between the university and student union. The administration claimed the Palestine Solidarity Policy encourages “a culture of ostracization and disrespect due to students’ identity, religious or political beliefs.” But the resolution does not mention any ethnicity or nationality.

The administration’s bid to portray their student body as anti-Jewish is not new. As students have sought to express support for the long-oppressed Palestinians, they’ve repeatedly made similar claims.

Between 2014 and 2016 there were three votes inspired by the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement at biannual SSMU general assemblies. Fearing students at the prestigious institution would support BDS, the Israel lobby went into overdrive. Among a slew of pressure tactics, they got Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau to tweet that “the BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses. As a McGill alum, I’m disappointed. Enough is Enough.”

In February 2016 a motion mandating the student union support some BDS demands passed the union’s largest ever general assembly. But after the McGill administration, Montreal’s English media and pro-Israel Jewish groups blitzed students the online confirmation vote failed. The resolution’s constitutionality was subsequently challenged by Zionists who sought to have SSMU’s Judicial Board outlaw any motion that expressed support for BDS.

Students challenged the effort to block their ability to collectively challenge Israeli apartheid. An October 2017 challenge of the SSMU Judicial Board’s decision to declare a BDS resolution unconstitutional prompted Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee activist Noah Lew to smear other students. After failing to be re-elected to the Board of Directors Lew claimed he was “blocked from participating in student government because of my Jewish identity and my affiliations with Jewish organizations.” Lew’s claim received international coverage and McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier sent out two emails to all students and faculty concerning the matter.

But an investigation by the administration found no basis for Lew’s claim.

The principal form of racism on display on this subject is the university power structure’s deep-seated anti-Palestinianism. As I previously detailed, McGill administrators openly associated with the Jewish National Fund, an explicitly racist organization that excludes Palestinian citizens of Israel from living on land stolen from Palestinians.

Fortunately, students have persevered in campaigning for Palestinian rights despite the smears, underhanded moves and outside attacks. The large margin that voted for the recent Palestine Solidarity Policy suggests that support for Palestinian rights is growing.

But Israel lobby and administration pressure led SSMU’s unelected judicial board to reject the constitutionality of the Palestine Solidarity Policy. They also impeached the elected president of the student union, Darshan Daryanan, in part due to his sympathy toward student democracy and Palestinian rights.

Happily, there’s some pushback. Students have organized rallies and outside groups have petitioned the administration. Rock legend Roger Waters, author Yann Martel, former MP Libby Davies, author Chris Hedges and 200 others signed a recent public letter criticizing the administration’s threats as anti-democratic and anti-Palestinian. Signed by 40 organizations, the letter also applauds McGill students for pushing their union to fulfill its stated commitment to leadership in “matters of human rights and social justice.”

It’s important for outside forces to publicly embarrass McGill’s administration, pressure wobbly student representatives and embolden the student organizers driving the struggle on campus. As the Israel lobby fully understands, the struggle for Palestinian rights runs through student activism.

عن سماح إدريس مجدداً.. نفتقدك هذه اللحظات

2022 السبت16 نيسان

المصدر: الميادين.نت

رشاد أبو شاور 

لماذا يا صديقي نفقد كبارنا الآن، ونحن أحوج ما نكون إليهم. وقضايانا، وفي مقدمتها فلسطين، في حاجة إليهم؟

أعطى سماح إدريس كثيراً في عمره القصير نسبياً، وترك رحيله صدمة وحسرة في قلوب كل من عرفوه، ورافقوه، واتفقوا معه، أو خالفوه أحياناً، كثيراً أو قليلاً، فهو اتَّسَم بالصدق، والنزاهة، والأمانة، والوضوح، والثبات.

لا أُخفي أنني أكتب وأنا مرتبك، بل عاجز عن ترتيب أفكاري، ففي رأسي تدوّي عبارة ذلك الصديق البيروتي.

قبل تلقّي نبأ رحيله، كنت اتصلت بأحد الأصدقاء في بيروت لأطمئن على وضعه، فجاءني صوت الصديق حزيناً: المرض تفشّى في كل بدنه، يا صديقي!

عرفت عندئذ ما هو ذلك المرض، فداهمتني نوبة حزن وإحباط، لكنني منيّت النفس بأنه “سينفد” من هذا المرض اللعين الشرس!

لكن المثقف والكاتب والناشر المقاوم والميداني رحل، فلقد خذله جسده في معركته مع ذلك المرض اللئيم، على الرغم من أن سماحاً ظلّ يقاوم حتى وهو يتلقى العلاج، وهذا يتجلّى في افتتاحية “الآداب” الإلكترونية الوداعية – الوصية، والعهد والوعد.

لا أُخفي أنني أكتب وأنا مرتبك، بل عاجز عن ترتيب أفكاري، ففي رأسي تدوّي عبارة ذلك الصديق البيروتي: لماذا يا صديقي نفقد كبارنا الآن، ونحن أحوج ما نكون إليهم. وقضايانا، وفي مقدمتها فلسطين، في حاجة إليهم؟!

فُجِع الفلسطينيون، مثقفين، ومواطنين مقاومين، برحيل سماح إدريس، كواحد من أبرز كتّابهم، ومثقفيهم، ومقاوميهم الكبار، وأبّنوه بحزن وحسرة وشعور فاجع بالفقدان، داخل فلسطين، وفي الشتات القريب والشتات البعيد.

كنت على تواصل في ندوة عبر الزُّوم مع الأهل في مخيم الدهيشة، جار مدينة بيت لحم، مساء الـ29 من شهر تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر، فافتُتحت الندوة بالوقوف دقيقة وتلاوة الفاتحة على روح الكاتب العربي الكبير المقاوم سميح إدريس، مع آخر شهيد سقط في منطقة بيت لحم، وضجّت القاعة بالتصفيق.. وارتجلت أنا كلاماً أردته لائقاً بسماح، وبأسرة سماح، بوالد سماح ووالدته، وبشقيقتي سماح، وبأسرة آل إدريس…

أنا واثق بأن بعض شوارع فلسطين سيحمل اسم سماح إدريس، فشعب فلسطين وفيّ ولن ينسى رفاق الطريق. ولعلّي أتذكر هنا، في هذا المقام، أن واحداً من أوائل الفدائيين الشهداء الفلسطينيين بعد هزيمة حزيران/يونيو 67 في معارك الأغوار، فاجأنا بأنه يحمل اسم “سهيل إدريس”، وأذكر أن هذا الأمر دفع الدكتور سهيل، رحمه الله، إلى الاستفسار عن هذا الفدائي، ومعرفة كل شيء عنه، وعن ثقافته. وكنت يومها برفقة صديقي الشاعر أحمد دحبور، عندما نقلنا المعلومة إلى الدكتور سهيل.

وُلِدَ سماح لأبوين عروبيين تقدميين ديمقراطيين، حملا باستمرار راية فلسطين، وبشّرا بحتمية تحريرها بالمقاومة، ولم ييأسا عند وقوع هزيمة حزيران/يونيو، بل جعلا مجلة “الآداب” منبراً لأدب المقاومة، وثقافة المقاومة، وشجعا المبدعين العرب على الكتابة الملتزمة ثقافةَ المقاومة رداً على الهزيمة المرّة في حزيران/يونيو 67.

سماح إدريس وُلِدَ لأسرة حملت مشروعاً ثقافياً قومياً منذ أسس المعلم سهيل إدريس مجلة “الآداب” عام 1953. ومع رفيقة عمره السيدة عايدة مطرجي إدريس واصلا مشوارهما المُشرّف، والذي أغنى المشهد الثقافي العربي، وساهم في تحديثه، بالترافق مع التزام هموم الأمة من محيطها إلى خليجها؛ من ثورة الجزائر إلى ثورة عدن؛ من إدانة سياسة الأحلاف إلى فضح العدوان الثلاثي على مصر؛ من تأميم قناة السويس إلى بناء السد العالي؛ من وحدة مصر وسوريا إلى إدانة الانفصال عام 1961 وتجريمه…

في أسرة بنت عالياً “دار الآداب” للنشر لتعزز دور ثقافة مجلة “الآداب”، وُلد سماح إدريس، وانطلق في فضاء حر، بتربية ديمقراطية حقّة بنت شخصيته.. وأطلقتها لتشق طريقها في نهل العلم والمعرفة والثقافة التي تمضي في آفاق لا حدود تنغلق في وجهها، أو تحدّ قدراتها.

رحل المعلم سهيل إدريس، فتقدَّم سماح وأخذ دوره مواصلا رسالة “الآداب”. وحين أغلقت أبواب الرقابة الحدود في وجه “الآداب”، واستشرت محاولات الترويض، انتقل سماح بـ”الآداب” إلى زمن التكنولوجيا، فأصدر “الآداب” إلكترونياً، واجتذب اقلاما مبدعة شابة – ولم يُدِر الظهر لمن رافقوا “الآداب” في زمن الأب المعلم، وأنا منهم – فكتب إلي وإلى آخرين، طالباً أن نشارك في قصصنا ومقالاتنا، وبهذا كسر الحدود التي أُغلقت، وملأ فضاء الوطن العربي على الرغم من الحدود المفتعلة، والرقابة الضيّقة الأفق. وهكذا وصلت “الآداب” الإلكترونية إلى أقصى الأرض في حلّة أنيقة حديثة، وبأقلام تنمّ عن مواهب، وبتجدد يمضي بـ”الآداب” إلى آفاق فسيحة.

عندما دُعيت إلى تقديم ندوة في “المنتدى العربي” في عمّان، بعنوان “هل يمكن تجديد الناصرية؟”، يوم الـ28 من أيلول/سبتمبر 2021، في ذكرى رحيل القائد جمال عبد الناصر، وضعت أمامي كتاب أخي وصديقي ورفيقي سماح، “المثقف العربي والسلطة: بحث في روايات التجربة الناصرية”، وكنت قرأت الكتاب وأنا في تونس بعد أن أهدانيه سماح، وكتب كلمة ذات معنى عميق استعدته من جديد: إلى الأخ والصديق الروائي والقصّاص الفلسطيني العربي.. كيف نكون ناصريين حقاً؟ وديمقراطيين حقّاً أيضاً؟ مع حبي واحترامي. وتوقيعه، بتاريخ 7.5.93.

كان السؤال: كيف نكون ناصريين حقّاً، وديمقراطيين حقاً، حضر في تلك المحاضرة، وحضر سماح صاحب السؤال، والكتاب الغني بحثاً وإبداعاً، والصادر عن منشورات “الآداب” في عام 1992.. وهذا يعني أن سماحاً كان في حدود الثلاثين من عمره آنذاك!

عملياً، ناقش سماح بعمق أزمة الناصرية في العلاقة بالمثقفين، من اختلفوا، ومن نافقوا، ومن خلال أعمالهم الروائية، وأيضاً وضع محددات لدور المثقف العربي، وما يحميه من السقوط في شراك السلطة، أي سلطة، في الماضي والحاضر و… المستقبل.

هذا الكتاب حضر معي في تلك الندوة التي تحدثت فيها عن أهمية تجديد الناصرية، لا بتقديسها والولاء لقائدها الراحل جمال عبد الناصر، لكن بنقدها، والوقوف أمام سلبياتها، وعدم المجاملة والتغطية على أمراضها وأسباب هزيمة حزيران/يونيو 67.

سماح المفكر المقاوم، الروائي الذي انتقل برواياته وقصصه إلى “عوالم” الشباب والفتيان، وذهب إليهم في المخيمات والأحياء الشعبية، مخاطباً العقول، موقظاً الوعي، فاتحاً البصائر على ما ينتظرهم، مُمتعاً ككاتب، مُدهشاً كحكّاء بارع.

سماح الغني الحضور مُترجماً، وناسج الصداقات عالمياً، وهو يخوض معركة “المقاطعة” مع شرفاء مقاومين، عربياً وعالمياً، مُساهماً ببسالة في فضح جوهر الكيان الصهيوني.

حمل سماح بين جنبيه حكمة الكبار- لِنَقُلْ: من الشيخ سهيل إدريس، والوالدة عايدة – والشبّان الذين انتمى إليهم عمراً وعقلاً، فكتب أعمالاً روائية رائعة تتقدمها “خلف الأبواب المقفلة”، والتي بعد أن قرأتها وأخبرته بقراءتي لها، سألني: هل أعجبتك؟

أجبته: يا سماح.. أنت تكتب عن شبّان لا نعرف عنهم سوى القليل، لأنك منهم. صحيح أنك تكتب لهم، لكنك تكتب عنهم، وعن هواجسهم، ومشاغلهم. لذا، فأنت تعرّفنا بهم، وتساهم في تمكيننا من الاقتراب منهم، فضلاً عن أنك روائي بحق…

سماح كان مَرِحاً، جذّاباً، مؤثراً، بعيداً عن الحقد، محاوراً عنيداً، يعمل طوال الوقت، لا في المكاتب، لكن مع الناس، مع الفتيان، وفي التجمعات، والأفعال المقاومة، لأنه عرف دوره وحدده والتزمه: مقاوماً في الميدان، وليس منظّراً يرسل كلماته عبر البريد الإلكتروني، وفي صفحات الصحف والمجلات، لكن عبر الانخراط ميدانياً.. في معركة الثقافة الجادة المنتمية، وفي مواجهة التطبيع، وشحذ الهمم في نشر ثقافة المقاطعة والمقاومة وفي تعميقها.

كتب سماح افتتاحية غاضبة عن “حثالات” الخراب في لبنان، وثبّت خّط “الآداب”، المجلّة، ودار النشر، كأنما كان يترك وصية وعهداً.

في افتتاحية “الآداب”، بتاريخ 29ـ7ـ2021، يفضح من يفسدون الحياة في لبنان، ويعيّشون بيروت وأخواتها في العتمة، والحاجة إلى البنزين والمازوت، المُستجدين للحماية، ومن يرهنون كرامات الوطن ومصيره، ويبيعونه بأثمان بخسة.. وينهبون ثرواته، ويصرخ بهم علّهم يتعلمون فيرتدعون، وهو عارف بأنهم لن يتغيّروا كـ”حثالات”.

ولأنه يعرفهم جيداً، ويحتقرهم جداً، يكتب: مع حثالة سارقة قاتلة وحقيرة كهذه، قد لا تبدو للكلمة التغييرية المستقلة سطوة. حتى إحراج هذه الحثالة قد لا يحصل.. ببساطة لأن لا أخلاق ولا قيم لها كي تشعر بأي إحراج!

فكيف إذا كانت تلك الكلمة تواجه اكتساحاً متنامياً لإعلام مقايضة الكهرباء والماء والمكيّف والمازوت والبنزين… ببيع كل المبادئ الأخلاقية والقومية والوطنية والتقدمية؟

لكن، هل من باع ذلك كله حصل على الرفاه الموعود؟ اسألوا مصر السادات ما بعد “كامب ديفيد”!

وفي زمن “الحثالات”، المطبّعين واللصوص، وباعة الدم والضمير، ومغرقي الفضاء والورق بإعلام التخدير والتزوير وتغييب الوعي، فسماح المؤمن بقيم حملها بثبات، يكتب وهو يواجه المرض الذي فتك بجسده، بكل يقين، وبكبرياء، معاهداً.. وواعداً، باسمه، وبمن سيواصل رسالة “الآداب” من بعده:

ومع ذلك، فنحن لا نملك مهنة غير الكتابة والنشر المستقلَّيْن، وسنواصل هذه المهنة، مهما صعبت الظروف، ومهما تعثرنا، أو تأخرنا، أو كبونا.

وسنكون إلى جانب كل من يعمل، بكّد وتفانٍ، وحب، على الخلاص من سارقي أحلام شعبنا في الحياة الكريمة الحُرّة.

هذه وصية سماح، وهذه مدرسة “الآداب” التي أنجبته، وتربّى ونشأ على قيمها، وهذا هو المسار الذي ستواصله “الآداب”…

يثق سماح بمن بقوا بعده، بمن صانوا “الآداب” المجلة، و”الآداب” دار النشر، بشقيقته الناشرة المعروفة، عربياً وعالمياً، رنا إدريس، ومعها شقيقته رائدة، وبحضور الأم عايدة التي تبارك آل إدريس الذين أنجبوا جيلاً ثالثاً يكبر برعاية “روح” الأسرة، وقيمها، وثقافتها، وتراثها…

لروحك السلام، أيها المقاوم المثقف والمفكّر الميداني، سماح إدريس.

سيبقى اسمك مرفوعاً في الميادين، ومع رايات فلسطين، وفي أناشيد المقاومين ووعودهم في كل بلاد العرب، وملهما لكل المثقفين الصادقين والشرفاء والمستقلين حقاً.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

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Palestinians are fighting battles through their phones

23 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Aya Youssef 

Despite their battles on the ground and in the virtual world, Palestinians are still able to go viral.

Palestinians are fighting battles on their phones

“You are stealing my house!” yelled the Palestinian woman facing the illegal Israeli settler in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood, in occupied Al-Quds. 

“If I don’t steal it someone else is gonna steal it,” the settler replied with no hesitation. 

Comment, retweet, share, like, repost, and download. The outcome?

 Palestine has gone viral. 

Starting from the inside

Raw video footage of Israeli occupation forces storming Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan in 2021 started to circulate all over social media platforms. The videos were showing Israeli soldiers storming through screaming crowds throwing grenades and shooting rubber bullets into them. 

European states, US lawmakers, and prominent figures started to condemn such brutal acts on their social media platforms, and it didn’t take months for this footage to become viral; it took seconds.

Israeli brutality has gone viral. 

Palestinians are fighting battles through their phones


Salhiyya family’s home

Mahmoud Salhiyya stood up against the Israeli forces and threatened to set himself on fire as a last resort to prevent them from taking his and his sister’s home. Palestinian activists held their phones and live-streamed, took photos, and published with the click of a button.

At dawn, Israeli occupation forces bulldozed Salhiyya family home, but Palestinians were wide awake to live stream, hashtag, take pictures, and tweet.

Israeli occupation authorities have been trying everything to uproot Sheikh Jarrah residents, from sending aleatory and unlawful court-mandated eviction orders to allowing settlers to attack Palestinians living in the neighborhood. 

But guess what? Israeli crimes have gone viral, too. 

Save Al-Naqab

The Israeli occupation forces arrested a 12-year-old Palestinian girl named Julian Al-Atrash. While she was being dragged and handcuffed, she didn’t hesitate to smile.

That smile made it through social media platforms. Pro-Palestine activists started to draw, illustrate, and post the moment that girl smiled. 

Occupation forces started to storm Al-Naqab villages to bulldoze the area as a part of a plan led by the “Jewish National Fund” to confiscate Palestinian lands. 

There are more than 30 villages in Al-Naqab dubbed as “unrecognized” villages under the Israeli occupation government, so there are no means of transportation, no roads, and no schools in the area. 

Despite all of this, during the Israeli storming, Al-Naqab was being recognized more than ever online, with people retweeting and sharing “#SaveNaqab”.

The greenwashing of Israeli crimes has gone viral.

What’s going on in Al-Naqab in Palestine?

Palestine is going viral from the outside

Palestinian refugees who were forcibly displaced from their lands have been facing the Israeli occupation every single day. They have been fighting battles on their own. 

Shahd Abusalma’s case

Shahd is a Palestinian refugee and a lecturer living in the UK. Sheffield Hallam University suspended her teaching duties due to anti-Semitic claims and decided to investigate her. Shahd has done nothing but retweeting, liking, and commenting on videos showing the Israeli occupation’s brutality.

Solidarity campaigns started to go viral, websites started to write about Shahd’s case, and “#InSupportOfShahd” started to circulate all over Twitter. 

How did all this start? As soon as Shahd announced that she was subject to these campaigns on her Twitter account, retweets skyrocketed. 

The university restrained Shahd’s teaching duties without dropping the investigations regarding her case. Shahd didn’t stop there because guess what? 

Shahd’s case has gone viral.

Shahd has walked her followers through her journey regarding any new update on her case. 

A few days later, the university dropped all of the investigations that were made against Shahd and offered her a more secure contract that will afford her employee status.

Rasmy Hassouna’s case

A Palestinian-American citizen who was about to renew his contract with the government before he noticed a legal clause that forbids him and his company A&R Engineering and Testing, Inc, from ever protesting “Israel” and its products.

Rasmy filed a lawsuit against the Texas state law, which bans government contractors from boycotting the Israeli occupation and won the case.

US District Court Judge blocked Texas from imposing its anti-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) law against Hassouna because boycotting, any kind of boycott, was protected by the First Amendment, which is the right to participate in economic boycotts as a form of protest.

“It’s great, isn’t it?” Rasmy said to Al Mayadeen English as he received the news.   

Determined as ever, Rasmy said “Stand up for your rights, as expatriates, I believe we can do a lot for Palestine.” 

His victory made it through websites and social media platforms. 

And guess what? Rasmy’s victory has gone viral. 

Palestinians are fighting battles on their phones

Don’t let tech giants fool you: Al-Kurd siblings as an example 

23-year-old Palestinians had nothing to defend their land with except their phones. They had no idea that anyone would care enough to watch illegal Israeli settlers storming their house or brutally assaulting young Palestinians. They didn’t know that anyone would care enough about a neighborhood in occupied Palestine. 

With every video or live-streaming posted, their followers were piling up by day, people started to refer to their accounts for news or updates regarding Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood. 

And now? Muna Al Kurd has over 1.5 million followers on Instagram while her brother, Mohammad al Kurd, has +7K followers on the platform. 

“Instagram is preventing me from going live!” 

Mona Al-Kurd was one of many live-streaming the ongoing events in Sheikh Jarrah when her streaming cut off suddenly. Al Kurd explained that her live-streaming feature was blocked while she was documenting the moment Al Salhiyya’s family home was demolished.

This has exposed Instagram’s complicity and censorship of Palestinian content. 

Censorship of Palestinian content is not new to some of the giant tech companies. Toward the end of last year, activists and journalists have started a campaign against Meta’s policies, which have been targeting Palestinian content and the Palestinian narrative. 

It is important not to forget Human Rights Watch’s report that highlighted Facebook’s policy, and how the tech giant has wrongfully removed and suppressed content by Palestinians and their supporters, including content regarding human rights abuses committed by “Israel” against Palestinians during its 11 days aggression on Gaza in 2021.

On Palestine’s Everyday Victories: Why Israel is No Longer the Exception

March 2, 2022

Two young activists join a victory rally in Gaza City. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, the Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

Can Israel be pressured? Or is Tel Aviv the only exception to the global political order in which every country, big or small, is subjected to pressures and subsequent change in attitude and behavior?

Several events, in recent days, bring the question of Israel’s legal and moral accountability to the fore. On February 21, Israel’s Nature and Park Authority decided to withdraw a plan which aimed at illegally seizing church-owned lands in the Mount of Olives in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. The plan has sparked anger and resistance among Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike. Palestinian Christian leaders had denounced the proposed theft of the land as  a “premeditated attack on the Christians in the Holy Land.”

After the Israeli newspaper, The Times of Israel, reported that the project was set to receive approval from the Jerusalem municipality on March 2, the Palestinian community and spiritual leaders began rallying support not only among Palestinians, but also internationally to mobilize against Israel’s latest colonizing scheme.

The Israeli decision to withdraw its plan proves that, once more, Palestinian resistance works. This event is reminiscent of the massive Palestinian mobilization in and around the Haram Sharif compound in 2017, when mass mobilization in Jerusalem forced Israel to remove metal detectors and other ‘security measures’ from the holy Muslim site

One day following the Israeli decision to scrap the Mount of Olives plan, the Israeli Jerusalem Magistrate Court agreed to temporarily freeze the eviction order targeting the Salem family in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The Palestinian family, three generations of whom live in the targetted home, have mobilized, along with many other families and activists, Palestinians and international activists to protest Israel’s illegal seizure of Palestinian homes in the occupied city.

While the Israeli court’s decision is only temporary and must not conceal the massive and systematic ethnic cleansing campaign under way in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and the rest of East Jerusalem, it must also be viewed in a positive light, as it gives a boost to popular resistance in occupied Jerusalem and throughout the Palestinian homeland.

More still. On February 25, two Palestinian detainees, Hisham Abu Hawash and Miqdad Al-Qawasmi, returned to their families after spending many months in unlawful detention and following 141 and 113 days of hunger strikes, respectively. The immense suffering of these two men, along with numerous amounts of footage and photos of their gaunt, emaciated bodies, have been used for months by Palestinians to demonstrate Israel’s brutality and the legendary sumoud, steadfastness, of ordinary Palestinians.

Expectedly, the two freed prisoners were received with jubilation by their families, friends and thousands of Palestinians. Throughout the celebrations, the word ‘victory’ was highlighted over and over again, whether in the streets, in Palestinian media or on social media.

These are but a few examples of daily Palestinian victories that are rarely highlighted, or even recognized as such. These achievements, however seemingly humble, are crucial to understanding the nature of everyday Palestinian resistance; but are also equally important in realizing that even Israel, which likes to see itself as an exceptional state in every respect, is subject to pressure.

When Palestinians, along with many nations around the world, called on Israel to end the forced evictions of Jerusalemites in Sheikh Jarrah last May, then Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, insisted that Israel “firmly rejects” pressure, carrying on with his coercive measures unhindered.

When Palestinians rebelled, rising in collective solidarity with Jerusalem and Gaza, the likes of US President Joe Biden called on all parties to ‘de-escalate’. Yet, Netanyahu continued to behave as if his country was above the law, political protocol and even common sense. “I am determined to continue with this operation until its goal is achieved,” Netanyahu insisted. The Israeli Prime Minister even considered the war on Gaza – in fact, on all Palestinians – to be “Israel’s natural right”. But when Palestinians carried on with their resistance, joined this time by a growing and vast global solidarity movement, Israel was forced to accept a ceasefire, achieving little, if any, of its supposed objectives.

Currently, Israel is seeking the help of various mediators to free several Israeli soldiers – or their remains – who are currently held in Gaza. Palestinians are open to a prisoner exchange and are demanding the freedom of hundreds of prisoners, including leading Palestinian figures, who have been held in Israel for years.

Moreover, the Palestinians are also seeking real guarantees to avoid the repeat of a similar prisoner exchange of October 2011, where over 1,000 Palestinians were released but some of whom were rearrested by Israel shortly after. In this case, too, Israel has pledged that it will relent in the face of Palestinian conditions, and it most likely will.

Israel is not the only country in the world that claims to be above pressure and accountability. Many colonial regimes in the past refused to acknowledge popular resistance in their respective colonies yet, somehow, traditional colonialism has ended with the inglorious defeat of the colonizers.

This is not to argue that Israeli exceptionalism is not a real thing. It is, and can be observed in full view at the US Congress and in the behavior of many pro-Israel Western governments. True, exceptionalism often yields hypocrisy and double standards but also the illusion that a particular state is above the natural order, which has governed state relations, politics and geopolitical realignments since the start of human civilization.

While Israel continues to delude itself that it is above pressure, Palestinians must realize that their resistance, in all of its manifestations, is capable of delivering the intended outcome, this being freedom. The rise of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its ability to challenge Israel at numerous platforms worldwide, is a perfect example of how Palestinians managed to take their fight for freedom to the rest of the world. If Israel is, indeed, not susceptible to pressure, why would it then fight the BDS movement with much ferocity and, at times, desperation?

Israel is not the exception, and like other colonial, apartheid regimes, it will eventually collapse, paving the way for a possible future where Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews can coexist as equals.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

EXPLAINER: Why does France Attack Palestine Solidarity Organizations?

February 26, 2022

France decided to ban to Palestine solidarity groups. (Photo: via Collectif Palestine Vaincra FB Page)

By Claude Zurbach

As a gift to the pro-Israeli lobby, the French government, through its Minister of the Interior Gérard Darmanin, has announced its intention to dissolve two Palestine solidarity organizations: the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and the Comité d’Action Palestine.

Long History of Harassment of the BDS Campaign

In line with the policies of most European Union countries, pressure groups and political authorities in France have never skimped on filing complaints and administrative bans. And this has been the case for more than 10 years, since the lawsuit brought against the BDS campaigners in Mulhouse, in the east of France. Since then, many collectives have been subjected to various forms of harassment, including those of Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Paris, Mulhouse, Colmar, Perpignan, and Montpellier (and the list is non-exhaustive).

 The alleged arguments developed in this defamatory campaign invoke an alleged anti-Semitism, which constitutes the main angle of the Israeli attack against the international movement of solidarity with Palestine.

Throughout the years, these initiatives, aimed at suppressing any form of organized criticism of Israel, have been met with strong reactions, from a legal point of view, but also through grassroots mobilization and were almost always defeated in court.

But these repeated attacks are financially costly, can be morally exhausting, and require a lot of energy, which is then diverted into time-consuming and complex legal procedures.

Why Does France Attack Solidarity Organizations?

The reason behind these attacks is the solidarity, or deep connivance, between all the economic and political powers throughout the world and Israel. Tel Aviv is both the advanced point of Western domination in the Middle East and a laboratory for the sophisticated repressive and lethal tools (tested on the Palestinian population), which are sold to Western powers.

In this system of international domination, Israel has a place of choice, which explains the exceptional tolerance it enjoys while it has been multiplying its international law violations throughout occupied Palestine.

On the other hand, the proximity of the presidential campaign in France explains the timing of this decision. Most potential candidates have reaffirmed their unwavering support for the Zionist project, with the notable exception of candidates considered to be part of the ‘radical left’.

One right-wing candidate, Valérie Precress, even chose an outspoken Zionist as her advisor on international issues.

Winning overt or implicit support from the Israel lobbies is becoming an important element in France’s election campaign, all against a backdrop of the rising Islamophobia

Israel is particularly worried about the discredit at an international level. In this context, Tel Aviv knows that any show of complicity with the apartheid regime imposed in Palestine is supposed to produce gains.

Reaction of the Solidarity Movement in France

The Association France-Palestine Solidarity, the main association of solidarity with Palestine, reacted with a first unambiguous statement, recalling that “solidarity is not a crime, it is a duty” and quite rightly that “support for the legitimate claims of the Palestinian people is in no way comparable to any call for hatred towards Israel or the Israelis, it is a call for justice and the application of international law”.

In addition to the two associations concerned by the decision, the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and the Comité d’Action Palestine, others such as the Union Juive Française pour la Paix and Europalestine have reacted quickly. A petition is online to show their refusal of the government’s liberticidal decisions.

 It would be important for other organizations, focused on the defense of individual and collective rights, to come forward to protest against these iniquitous decisions. Indeed, any breach of solidarity will be a loophole that can be exploited by the supporters of apartheid in Palestine to impose further bans and dissolutions.

– Claude Zurbach is the editor of Chronique de Palestine, the French version of the Palestine Chronicle website. A computer engineer by profession, he has been involved for many years in solidarity with the Palestinian national movement. His Twitter account is https://twitter.com/ClaudeZurbach

Urging Boycott of Israel, British Activists March in London (PHOTOS)

February 12, 2022

British activists march in London. (Photo: FOA, Supplied)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Pro-Palestinian activists marched across the city of London on Saturday urging people to boycott Israeli apartheid, UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) said in a press release. 

“Starting at PUMA on Carnaby Street and stopping at Coca-Cola’s Head Office and other locations before reaching Parliament, FOA supporters engaged Londoners with street action emphasizing the power of boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning the individuals, companies and culture complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine,” the press release read.

The protest follows Amnesty International’s recent report labeling Israel as an apartheid state and coincides with the Global Day of Action on PUMA.

“Today’s march demonstrated the strength of opposition to the (British) government’s proposed anti-BDS Bill as well as support for sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law,” FOA declared.

Last December, British Conservative politician Robert Jenrick announced that the UK government was “working to outlaw BDS in the UK”. Moreover, UK Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi recently came under fire when he said that pro-Palestine activists who use the slogan “From the river to the sea” should be referred to police, saying that the chant is an example of antisemitism.

These political moves have been perceived as an attack on democracy and a limitation to the right of free speech.

(All Photos: FOA, Supplied)

Global Reaction, Call for Action on “Israel’s” Apartheid Against Palestinians

11 Feb 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Ruqiya Anwar

Apartheid has no place in the world, and countries that choose to make exceptions for “Israel will be on the wrong side of history.

Global Reaction, Call to Action on “Israel’s” Apartheid Against Palestinians

Amnesty International released a report on “Israel’s” Apartheid against Palestinians. The report delves into how “Israel” uses coercion and dominance to oppress Palestinians wherever it has control over their rights: Palestinians living in “Israel” and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), as well as displaced refugees in other countries. International law considers apartheid to be a crime against humanity. It is defined as “inhuman actions performed with the intent of establishing and maintaining dominance by one racial group over any other racial group and systematically oppressing them.”
 
In response to this report, several Palestinian civil society organizations called on other countries to take strong responses to end “Israel’s” illegal acquisition of Palestinian territory via force and its apartheid, as well as its rejection of Palestinian inherent right to self-determination.
 
Moreover, because of the growing recognition that “Israel” maintains an apartheid rule over Palestinians, regional and international civil society organizations have called on the United Nations General Assembly to take immediate and effective steps to address the root causes of Palestinian oppression, including ending “Israel’s” occupation, inhibition of Gaza, forcible acquisition of territories, its apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, and the continued denial of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination and the right to return to their homeland.
 
They further urged all UN General Assembly Member States to launch global investigations into “Israel’s” apartheid against the Palestinians and eliminate apartheid in the twenty-first century, particularly by reinstituting the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the UN Centre Against Apartheid. Arms sales and military-security cooperation with “Israel” must also be prohibited. Restrictions should be imposed on trade with illegal occupied territories, and companies should refrain from doing business with “Israel’s” unlawful settlements.
 
Previously, civil society organizations urged the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to take comprehensive measures to secure justice and accountability for widespread and systemic human rights violations, including potential international crimes perpetrated against Palestinian people (Al-Haq, 2022).
 
Most importantly, the Palestinian civil society has called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS); a global citizen reaction to the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. The BDS movement also stressed that “Israel’s” policies of apartheid against Palestinians are only possible because of international support. Governments around the globe refuse to hold “Israel” accountable, while corporations’ profit from their role in Israeli settlements or “Israel’s” militarized suppression of Palestinians because those in positions of authority refuse to take action to address this injustice,
 
In addition to this, the Palestinian activists in Australia have urged the Australian government not to overlook an Amnesty’s report accusing “Israel” of apartheid and stressed that Australia has a responsibility to report human rights violations wherever they occur. This report urges governments to employ political and diplomatic measures to stop this unjust situation, particularly those with close ties to “Israel”.

Nasser Mashni, vice-president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, discussed that Australia’s government has a history of sheltering “Israel” from accountability. It is Australia’s responsibility to denounce this in the strongest possible terms. Australia should follow the report’s recommendations and impose an arms embargo on “Israel” right away.

Significantly, there is no viable justification for a system based on millions of people being subjected to institutionalized and long-term racist oppression. Apartheid has no place in the world, and countries that choose to make exceptions for “Israel” will be on the wrong side of history. Governments that continue to support “Israel” and shield it from international accountability at the UN are backing apartheid, undermining international law, and exacerbating Palestinian suffering. The international community must address “Israel’s” apartheid reality and seek the many untapped paths to justice. (Amnesty International, 2022).
 
The international world must put pressure on “Israel” to remove this inhumane institution. All those who have jurisdiction over the crimes committed to keep the system running should look into them. Such acts are part of a systematic and widespread assault against the Palestinian people and constitute apartheid’s crime against humanity. The international world must put pressure on “Israel” to remove this inhumane institution.

For more than two decades, Palestinians who have been subjected to “Israel’s” repression have called for a recognition of “Israel’s” rule as apartheid. Over time, a larger international acknowledgment of “Israel’s” treatment of Palestinians as apartheid has emerged. Despite this, governments with the authority to intervene have hesitated to do anything to hold “Israel” accountable. Instead, they have been hiding behind a dormant peace process, putting human rights and responsibility on the back burner. This report sheds light on the Palestinian people’s cause and the best ways to achieve peace. Therefore, “Israel” must end the fragmentation, segregation, discrimination, and deprivation imposed on the Palestinian people.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Israel Pumps $30M into “Concert,” a Revamped Propaganda Campaign to Fight Apartheid Label

February 09th, 2022

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

Israel’s cabinet recently approved 100 million shekels (about $30 million) in funding to revive “Cabinet,” a defunct government propaganda program targeting Western countries.

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Losing the battle for hearts and minds abroad, Israel hopes injecting millions into a revamped government project will counter a changing global narrative.

Last month, the Israeli cabinet approved 100 million shekels (about $30 million) in funding to boost government propaganda in Western countries. Under Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the funding will restore a government initiative to combat the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and shift public discourse on Israel in the state’s favor.

The plan is to revive a government project initially called “Solomon’s Sling” and now renamed “Concert.”  Set up in 2015 by the defunct Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which closed in 2021, Solomon’s Sling was provided with an $80 million budget. Half of the funding would come from the government and the other half would rely on individual and organizational donations, mostly from the United States.

U.S. law dictates those donating to governments must register as foreign agents. Solomon’s Sling was listed as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) run by government officials in an attempt to maintain appearances. “The understanding was that it would be easier for them to appear as a PBC than as something that the Israeli government is behind,” Ronen Menalis, the former director of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, said during a parliamentary debate. “In the end, you see a bank transfer from a PBC and not a bank transfer from the Israeli government.”

Yet few were willing to register as foreign agents, thereby limiting Solomon’s Sling’s fundraising. The project was able to raise only $7 million of the expected $40 million, so it never came to fruition.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to MintPress News’ request for comment on the campaign’s objectives or its strategy to turn foreign organizations into propaganda agents for the Israeli government.

The new project is expected to last until the end of 2025. According to the campaign’s government proposal, each year Concert will receive a budget of 25 million shekels ($8 million) conditioned upon its being able to raise the same amount privately.

Targeting BDS

The Sydney Festival – a three-week-long arts event in Australia, funded by the Israeli embassy – became a significant BDS victory after more than 100 artists and companies dropped out in solidarity with Palestine.

Dr. Shir Hever, a political economist and author, described how Israelis often see the face of the BDS movement as concert cancellations – likely the reason the relaunched campaign is called Concert.  “A lot of Israelis are thinking, ‘How do you fight a movement that sends protest letters to artists?’” he said, noting that the trend of concert cancellations has declined recently. “It’s become clear that Israel is subsidizing these concerts to put pressure on the artists not to cancel,” Hever told MintPress News.

Hever explained that how the propaganda initiative will differ from its first iteration remains a secret, given the lack of transparency within Israeli civil society, but this name change may hint at how the relaunch will operate.

Growing awareness Israel is committing apartheid

Last week, human rights organization Amnesty International published a 280-page report accusing Israel of committing “the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.” Amnesty International’s announcement joined several other rights groups (notably, Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem) that have also declared Israel an apartheid state — a claim Palestinians have made for decades.

Nasim Ahmed, commentator and writer for Middle East Monitor, pointed to these apartheid reports and changing opinions on Israel within the Jewish community as the reasons behind the cabinet’s decision to funnel money into government propaganda. “There’s a growing fear and anticipation that the campaign to what Israelis call ‘delegitimize’ Israel is going to be turbocharged in 2022. And they want to have something to push back against that,” Ahmed told MintPress News.

Recent governmental discussions seem to corroborate this theory. A leaked cable from Israel’s Foreign Ministry suggested Concert aims to combat a United Nations report expected to be released in June calling Israel an apartheid state. And during the Israeli cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett used antisemitism as the prime motivator for anti-BDS funding. “Contemporary antisemitism comes in many guises. Today, this energy of Jew-hatred is frequently directed at the state of the Jews. Our obligation as the State of Israel is to expose it, even when it is disguised, and fight it,” Bennett said, when announcing the additional funding.

While the most apparent reason to renew Solomon’s Sling under a new banner is to fight BDS, Hever suggested something more covert is at play, explaining:

There’s a small but growing class of right-wing activists with influence over politics and especially influence over the right wing. I think they have access to the government, to Yair Lapid, for example. And they tell him, ‘If you give us jobs, if you give us this project, we’re going to support you. But if you don’t, we’re going to stick with the opposition, the Likud Party, and maybe support the return of Netanyahu.’”

Hever detailed how organizations like non-profit NGO Monitor and settler association the Ir David Foundation have strong ties to the government, and by supporting politicians are able to secure funding for their Zionist projects — and their salaries.

The industry of hasbara

In Hebrew, hasbara means explanation, but in the context of the Israeli government, this term translates to public diplomacy efforts meant to defend or justify Israel’s actions to the global community. It’s Israel’s way of controlling the public narrative.

Concert is just one of several hasbara initiatives. These propaganda efforts go beyond the Israeli government and encompass civil society organizations like Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), StandWithUs, American Israel Affairs Public Action Committee (AIPAC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and Christians United for Israel. The government even encourages its own citizens to act as hasbara ambassadors when traveling abroad, by talking about Israel positively to their international peers. It also promotes hasbara training for diaspora Jews through programs like Hasbara Fellowships, an organization bringing students to Israel to teach them how to be effective at spreading Israeli propaganda on their college campuses.

Credit | Molad
Credit | Molad

And hasbara has specifically utilized digital media to get its message out. Retired American diplomat Chas W. Freeman Jr. explained how Israel has successfully turned the internet into a tool of deception during his remarks at the 2012 Jubilee Conference of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy:

The state of Israel has organized civilian government and military units to exploit this [digital media], including creating websites, social media accounts, and messages attributed to false identities. It has learned how to manipulate browser functions, search engine algorithms, and other automated mechanisms that control what information is presented to Internet users.”

This can be seen most recently in YouTube’s content warning for Amnesty International’s video on Israeli apartheid against Palestinians, as well as an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs ad targeting Amnesty International appearing at the top of Google’s results when searching Amnesty International.

World waking up to occupation

Both Hever and Ahmed stated that despite Israel’s various hasbara efforts, it isn’t winning the information war.

“The fact that they’re having to launch and then relaunch and pump more money into Concert shows that it is not succeeding,” Ahmed said. Hever illustrated how Israeli diplomacy has crumbled and its quick-fix solution to its foreign relations problem is negotiating arms and cyber deals with countries like India, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates.

But this focus on those in power instead of the people may backfire. “They’re getting something from Israel and they’re giving something back, but it doesn’t change public opinion in these countries,” Hever said. “And as soon as the government changes and a new generation of politicians come into power, they are not going to consider Israel to be a friendly country.

From his perspective, Israel understands that the global public is becoming more aware of the state’s violence and corruption and less willing to tolerate it. Yet that doesn’t mean they’ll change their policies. “The Israeli government knows that they cannot change the way that the world considers Israeli crimes without actually stopping the crimes,” Hever said.

While Israel has been able to manipulate social media, Ahmed argues information online can’t always be controlled. “More and more people are realizing that this is not simply a land dispute, as Israel would like to say, but really there’s an entrenched system of occupation, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid that’s been taking place,” he said. According to Ahmed, even past Israel supporters are finding it more difficult to defend the state from a moral standpoint. “More and more people know the truth about Israeli occupation and that’s the real reason why the hasbara industry is failing,” he concluded.

US Federal Court Blocks Texas from Enforcing Anti-BDS Law

January 30, 2022

A protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people. (Photo: Socialist Appeal, via Wikimedia Commons)

A United States federal court has blocked the state of Texas from enforcing its anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) law against a Palestinian-American contractor who refused to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported on Sunday.

Rasmy Hassouna, an engineer and executive vice president of the Palestinian-owned A&R Engineering and Testing Inc, filed the lawsuit in November challenging a Texas law that bars the state from doing business with companies participating in the BDS movement against Israel.

The firm said in its complaint filed in a Houston federal court that the law violates its First Amendment right to participate in economic boycotts as a form of protest.

“Texas’s ban on contracting with any boycotter of Israel constitutes viewpoint discrimination that chills constitutionally protected political advocacy in support of Palestine,” A&R Engineering attorneys wrote in the initial complaint, as quoted by Axios.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), which Hassouna worked with to file the suit, hailed the court ruling as “a major victory of the First Amendment against Texas’s repeated attempts to suppress speech in support of Palestine”.

“These regressive attempts to create a Palestine-exception to the First Amendment betray the central role boycotts have played in our history,” said Gadeir Abbas, Cair’s senior litigation lawyer.

This news comes after another federal judge said in a May ruling that Georgia’s anti-BDS law violated the First Amendment.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

Related Articles

Emma Watson, J.K. Rowling, and the Connections Between Hollywood and the National Security State, with Alan MacLeod

January 21st, 2022

Source

By Lowkey

The Department of Defense has been involved in the production of over 800 movies and over 1,100 U.S. TV shows.

Both “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson and the book’s author, J.K. Rowling, have been courting controversy: the former for posting a message of solidarity with the Palestinian people on her official Instagram page; the latter after comedian Jon Stewart took her to task for the insensitive and antisemitic portrayal of goblins in her book and movie franchise.

Yet while Rowling was defended by a wide range of pro-Israel groups who rushed to her side, Watson was slandered as a secret anti-Jewish bigot by figures as official as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Joining Lowkey today on The Watchdog to discuss this blatant double standard is MintPress Senior Staff Writer and Podcast Producer Alan MacLeod. Before joining MintPress News in 2019, Alan was an academic whose work focused on propaganda, media and power. He has published a number of peer-reviewed academic papers on the subject, as well as two books: “Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting,” and “Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent.” His latest article, “J.K. Rowling’s Hypocrisy: The Author who Smeared Jeremy Corbyn Gave Us Books and Films Full of Antisemitic Stereotypes,” can be read on MintPress News.

MacLeod suggested that the furor over Watson’s anodyne message, contrasted with the collective defense of Rowling, can be explained by examining their positions on Israel. While Watson has traditionally supported liberal or progressive causes, Rowling has been something of a champion of the apartheid state. An Israeli marketing firm ranked her as the fourth most important pro-Israel personality online – the highest Gentile on the list. Rowling has consistently opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, calling it “divisive and discriminatory.” She was also a leader in the campaign to unseat Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn over his alleged antisemitic remarks. Corbyn is and was a champion of Palestine liberation and had been highly critical of Israeli governmental policies.

In the second part of the show, the two talk about MacLeod’s work exposing the connections between Hollywood and the national security state. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Department of Defense has been involved in the production of over 800 movies and over 1,100 U.S. TV shows. From military movies like “12 Strong” and “Lone Survivor” to blockbusters like “Iron Man” and comedies like “Brüno,” the military plays a leading role in manufacturing pop culture.

If it is to help with the production of a movie or TV show, the military usually demands complete editorial control over the entire process, often rewriting entire scripts and changing scenes to present itself in the best light possible. In return, they offer military bases to shoot on, access to the latest military technology like battleships or fighter jets, soldiers to appear as extras, and help acquiring uniforms and other props. MacLeod went through how the documents show that the four previously mentioned movies were changed in order to send a pro-military, pro-war message.

Let’s be honest, Zionist Israel is built on a tissue of lies

December 23, 2021

82-year-old, Diana Neslen [Youtube]
British journalist and author Yvonne Ridley provides political analysis on affairs related to the Middle East, Asia and the Global War on Terror. Her work has appeared in numerous publications around the world from East to West from titles as diverse as The Washington Post to the Tehran Times and the Tripoli Post earning recognition and awards in the USA and UK. Ten years working for major titles on Fleet Street she expanded her brief into the electronic and broadcast media producing a number of documentary films on Palestinian and other international issues from Guantanamo to Libya and the Arab Spring.

Yvonne Ridley 

Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews, but say anything negative about the political ideology of Zionism or speak in favour of Palestine and the chances are, regardless of your religious beliefs or lack of them, you will end up being accused of anti-Semitism. In today’s world, posting negative tweets about Zionism or expressing the slightest criticism of Israel can land you in trouble. One 82-year-old woman in Britain, for example, could be expelled from the Labour Party having been accused of posting “anti-Semitic” views on social networks. Diana Neslen, though, is Jewish.

After three investigations by the party, Neslen has had enough and is fighting back. Her legal team has sent a warning letter to let Labour officials know that her anti-Zionist viewpoint is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act. Furthermore, the lawyers at Bindmans say that she has been “subjected by the party to discrimination and harassment related to her protected philosophical belief.”

This has the potential to be a hugely significant case that will put the political ideology of Zionism under the spotlight. Its supporters, especially millions of Christian evangelicals around the world, especially in the US, would have us believe that political Zionism is older than Methuselah himself who, according to the Bible, reached the grand old age of 969. However, compared with the ancient patriarch, the nationalist movement is still in its infancy, having originated in eastern and central Europe towards the back end of the 19th century.

READ: UK media and politicians ‘misled public’ with support for far-right Israeli ambassador

Not only is Zionism a relatively new kid on the ideological block, therefore, but it’s also only relatively recently that the movement has been supported by mainstream Jewry and non-Jews of every political hue. It has taken root among Jews following decades of propaganda and millions of dollars spent lobbying the US and other western governments for legislation to criminalise those who would dare to criticise it.

It wasn’t always like this. Back in December 1938, election results in Poland saw the Zionist political project struggling to take hold within one of Europe’s largest Jewish communities. Only one of the 20 seats allocated to Jews was won by a Zionist candidate; 17 went to the anti-Zionist socialist party, Bund. The evidence suggests that pre-World War Two, orthodox Jews were not generally attracted to Zionism or the concept of a Jewish state. Mike Marqusee made this point in his book If I am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew (Verso Books, 2008): “As long as there has been Zionism, there have been anti-Zionist Jews. Indeed, decades before it even came to the notice of non-Jews, anti-Zionism was a well-established Jewish ideology and until World War II commanded wide support in the diaspora.”

The Nazi Holocaust did indeed change things when it murdered millions of Jews and other minority groups, including the disabled, trade unionists, gypsies and homosexuals. “I remember thinking at the end of the war, ‘Why didn’t the Germans do anything?'” said Neslen. “When there’s injustice done in your name you cannot close your eyes to it. That’s why I feel very strongly.” Israel, remember, claims to act on behalf of all Jews, no matter where they live.

The truth remains, though, that Zionism is based on lies. There, I’ve said it, and will no doubt be refused a platform by universities for incurring the wrath of the more rabid elements of Israel’s extreme supporters in the Zionist lobby groups. Like Neslen, however, I too have reached breaking point, although I am not a Jew. So it is time for me to stand my ground, and also fight back.

One of the most enduring of Zionism’s lies was promoted by British author Israel Zangwill 120 years ago when he repeated the well-worn slogan that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without a land”. After realising that this was simply not true, Zangwill parted company with the founders of Zionism and in 1904 started talking about the 600,000 Palestinians who occupied the so-called “land without a people” at the time. He continued to speak out about the Palestinian elephant in the Zionist living room. Today, no doubt, he would be slandered as anti-Semitic; in 1913 Zionists simply called him a traitor.

Like Zangwill, Diana Neslen was also a “committed Zionist” until she visited Israel and saw the self-styled Jewish State at close quarters. And, just like Zangwill, she has been punished, insulted and persecuted since turning her back on the racist ideology. She is not the only person who appears to have been persecuted for her anti-Zionist beliefs, and the fact that she is Jewish appears to cut no ice with her detractors. They continue to insist that the Labour Party must investigate her “anti-Semitism”. What did she say or do to deserve what her lawyers describe as a totally “unjustified and disproportionate” response? In one tweet in 2017 she wrote, “The existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an antiracist Jew.”

Inside Israel itself, in response to accusations from Jews like Neslen that Zionism is colonialism, the goalposts are being moved yet again with new lie claiming that Jews are genetically “indigenous” to the land. It’s an argument that “swims in fascist waters” according to one Jewish writer who said that the blatant appropriation of anticolonial language changes the definition of Zionism. Far from being a Jewish nationalist movement founded in the 19th century, explained Abe Silberstein, these new zealots are trying to portray Zionism as “an indigenous rights movement, the implication being that virtually all Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel.”

OPINION: Overthrowing Israel’s bogus definition of anti-Semitism

As support for Israel among US Jews starts to fall, especially among the young, it seems as if Zionism is losing its mythical status as a benign ideology, even as the peaceful grassroots Boycott, Sanction and Divestment movement, BDS, rises in popularity. In 2015, a Yachad-Ipsos Mori survey conducted in British Jewish communities found that, while 90 per cent of Jews in the UK believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, just 59 per cent identified themselves as Zionists, down from 72 per cent in 2010. It is no longer clear if “Zionist” means someone who supports Israel’s government, or simply the state’s right to exist.

In 2018, the Labour Party in Britain adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour,” says the IHRA, is an example of anti-Semitism. Opponents of its use in this way argue that legitimate criticism of a government is certainly not the same as illegal anti-Jewish racism. Indeed, even the person responsible for drafting the definition — and it remains a draft document; it’s not set in stone — has said that “pro-Israel lobby groups have weaponised the definition in an attempt to silence critics of Zionism.”

Jewish Voice for Labour, of which Neslen is a member, says there are at least 42 Jews in the Labour Party who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of anti-Semitism. Ironically, under self-proclaimed Zionist and leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer, Jewish members are five times more likely to have faced complaints about anti-Semitism than non-Jewish members. It remains to be seen if Labour does apologise to Neslen and undertake not to pursue further investigations against her in respect of her beliefs, but it is clear that her lawyers will not drop the legal action.

According to Neslen in the Guardian, “The Labour Party has no idea, in my opinion, of what anti-Semitism is. My son was attacked by a luminary of the [British National Party] who was jailed for three years. I remember picking up the phone and being subjected to death threats from the BNP. People who have never experienced anti-Semitism have no idea what it means, what it means for a Jew to be found guilty of anti-Semitism.”

Like the Labour Party, most other the other main political parties in Britain have adopted the controversial, “seriously flawed” IHRA definition of anti-Semitism apart from in Scotland. There, the Scottish Greens hold two ministerial positions in Nicola Sturgeon’s government. Both co-leaders, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, still refuse to endorse the definition. The Greens have voted previously in favour of a motion that described Israel as a “racist state” based on “Jewish supremacy” and calls Zionism a racist endeavour. This is entirely consistent with the findings of Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem earlier this year.

READ: Jewish woman threatens to sue UK Labour over ‘anti-Semitism’ warnings

The far-right Israeli government is said to be increasingly concerned about the decline of support for Zionism. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has already instructed its embassies and lobby groups around the world to shore up support for the ideology in 2022. Indeed, as reported recently by MEMO, it seems that the pro-Israel lobbyists are going on the attack already; Sturgeon is facing mounting criticism over the Scottish National Party’s partnership with Scottish Greens. The First Minister has also been accused of Jew-hatred for discouraging “trade between Scotland and illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories”.

Such tactics make it no surprise, therefore, to hear that British MP Robert Jenrick has pledged to get the British government to outlaw BDS. Speaking at the Leadership Dialogue Institute (LDI), a think tank fostering closer cultural ties between Australia, the UK and Israel, he addressed BDS in a meeting under the inflammatory heading “Why Do So Many People Hate Jews?” Again, the attempt is to conflate legitimate criticism of a political ideology with totally illegitimate, abhorrent racism against Jews. As one leading pro-Palestine campaigner has said, “Anti-Zionism is a duty; anti-Semitism is a crime.”

When Zionists move the goalposts they unwittingly expose the tissue of lies on which the state of Israel has been built. The Jews in Europe pre-Holocaust saw Zionism for what it was and voted accordingly. It is time for the truth about the ideology to be told before any more Jews like Diana Neslen are persecuted for their wholly acceptable beliefs. Their right to freedom of thought and speech must not be curtailed as they seek justice for the people of occupied Palestine.

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

Palestinian engineer files lawsuit in Texas to protest antiboycott law

7 Dec  2021

Source: The Guardian

By Al Mayadeen

Palestinian-American engineer Rasmy Hassouna is suing the state of Texas to cancel a law that bans government contractors from boycotting “Israel” and its products.

Hassouna’s case could cost him to lose a certain amount of money of his yearly revenue.

Rasmy Hassouna, Texan civil engineer and contractor for the city of Houston, is fighting the Israeli occupation in his way.

The Palestinian-American citizen was about to renew his contract with the government before he noticed a legal clause that forbids him and his company A&R Engineering and Testing, Inc, from ever protesting “Israel” and its products as long as working for Houston, reported The Guardian.

“I came here and thought I was a free man. It’s not anybody’s business what I do or what I say, as long as I’m not harming anybody,” Hassouna expressed.

“Why do I have to pledge allegiance to a foreign country?”, he questioned.

In response, Rasmy, 59, decided to take action and file a lawsuit against the Texas state law that bans government contractors from boycotting the Israeli occupation, which is the case in more than 25 US states, mentioned the newspaper. 

According to The Guardian, Hassouna’s company is one out of only two companies to challenge such laws.

The lawsuit will be heard in federal court on Tuesday for violating free speech, and if ruled, the 2019 Texas ban on boycotting “Israel” will be canceled.

However, according to his lawyer, Hassouna’s case could cost him to lose a certain amount of money of his yearly revenue.

Flying to the US as an immigrant in 1988, the engineer became a US citizen in 2005. Back then, he fought his first battle: His citizenship certificate read “Israel” in the place of birth section.

“I went to the lady who was giving the certificates away and told her I didn’t want ‘Israel’ on my certificate,” he explained.

“They told me ‘Palestine was not in the system.’”

After back-and-forth discussions with officials, the immigration office finally granted him a new certificate with the place of birth section saying Gaza Strip.

BDS Movement: “If we abandon Palestine, we abandon ourselves”

December 7, 2021

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Ahmad Karakira

Amid the shameful wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation and the Arab failure to support the Palestinian cause in favor of the US and “Israel,” the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement has proven to be effective.

Boycotting is one form of resistance against the Israeli occupation, but is not and should not be an alternative to armed resistance

On November 25th, after a struggle with cancer, passionate writer and activist Samah Idris passed away. Idris dedicated his life to Palestine and the struggle against normalization with the occupation. He was editor-in-chief of the prominent Al Adab literary magazine from 1992 onward.

Idris was one of the founders of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon after the Jenin massacre in 2002, and played a leading role in furthering the movement’s influence.

He had a strong commitment to Palestine and its cause, which he used as a compass in his battle.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen English, he said, “Lebanon condemns the Israeli occupation which violates universal principles and the right of people to self-governance.”

Even in his final days before his untimely death, Idris continued to denounce those who normalize ties with the occupation as he fought to expose the occupations’ atrocities.

The revolutionary’s death comes amid a shameful recent normalization wave by several Arab countries with “Israel,” the newest of which is the visit of the occupations’ Security Minister Benny Gantz to Morocco.

The visit witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on security cooperation between the two sides, deeming the Moroccan regime as a partner in oppressing Palestinians and betraying the Palestinian cause, and ignoring the history of Moroccan revolutionaries and resistance leaders such as Abdelkarim al-Khattabi who fought against Spanish and French colonialism. 

Morocco is the fourth Arab country, following the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, to have normalized ties with the Israeli occupation under Washington’s sponsorship.

Originally, in 1945, the Arab League issued a decree to officially boycott Israeli companies and goods in support of Palestine, forcing Arab citizens and companies of an Arab League member to boycott any ties with “Israel.”

Unsurprisingly, the US Congress passed laws in 1977 criminalizing US companies that comply with the Arab boycotting bodies.

However, as a result of Western pressure, several Arab countries have abandoned the boycotting movement and normalized ties with the Israeli occupation.

Therefore, the more the normalization ties increase, the more the work of the BDS movement becomes crucial.

Sally Rooney under attack

A few days ago, some 70 prominent authors, poets, and playwrights have signed a letter of endorsement in support of Irish author Sally Rooney’s decision to prevent Israeli publishing house “Modan” from translating her latest work, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” into Hebrew.

Rooney indicated that her decision is part of a cultural boycott over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

She said she “did not feel it would be right” to accept a contract with an Israeli company “that does not publicly distance itself from the apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”

Citing human rights reports, Rooney pointed out that “Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law.”

The author confirmed she supports the “Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS)” movement targeting “complicit” firms and institutions “in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations.”

Rooney explained that the BDS movement is “modeled on the economic and cultural boycott that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.”

Boycotting origins in Palestine

Since the 1920s, Palestinians have mastered boycotting as a way of resisting the British mandate and the Zionist colonization, and in 1936, they organized a huge six-month strike in protest of the British support for Zionism.

In addition, the Resistance factions launched a popular boycott of Israeli products during the first Intifada (1987-1992), which led to a dynamic plunge in Israeli exports.

When all UN resolutions failed to stop “Israel” from violating international laws and continuing its crimes against Palestinian people and land, 170 different Palestinian bodies first launched the BDS movement in 2005. 

The BDS movement website wrote, “Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure ‘Israel’ to comply with international law.”

In an aim to withdraw apartheid in South Africa, several activists, organizations, unions, and politicians pressured the apartheid South African regime through heavy lobbying, isolation, and product boycotting worldwide as a form of achieving liberation. The boycott movement cost the racist regime a great loss and isolation from international events and markets by the demand of many Europeans.

As a result, post-apartheid South Africa has supported the Palestinian cause since the two sides established formal diplomatic relations in 1995, a year after the end of the apartheid regime. South Africa also reduced its diplomatic representation in the so-called “Tel Aviv” in 2019 and withdrew its ambassador.

It is noteworthy that the boycotting movement has been historically used to end oppression, such as Ghandi’s Indian Salt March in 1930 and African Americans’ famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in late 1955. Unlike BDS, these movements are celebrated without being described as “anti-Semitic.”

Its success and effect

“BDS aims to end international support for Israeli violations of international law by forcing companies, institutions, and governments to change their policies. As Israeli companies and institutions become isolated, ‘Israel’ will find it more difficult to oppress Palestinians,” explains the BDS movement.

So far, BDS has achieved several victories against the Israeli occupation on many levels, which led “Israel” to dedicate resources, including money, government staff, and security services to undermine BDS and threaten its activists.

Culturally, thousands of artists, famous of which is Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters from legendary rock band Pink Floyd, have declined to perform in “Israel” as a result of BDS calls and is even an ardent supporter of the movement.

In addition, various academic institutions and unions in the US, Canada, South Africa, and the UK have announced their support for Palestine and the movement.

After respecting the choice of boycotting, renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking withdrew from the Israeli Presidential Conference. Also, after a visit to Palestine, the famous Black activist and academic, Angela Davis, expressed that she “unequivocally endorses the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign.”

Most recently, the South African government announced that it has “withdrawn its support” from the current Miss South Africa (SA) pageant due to fruitless attempts to persuade the pageant to reconsider its plan to participate in the Miss Universe event, which is set to take place in “Israel.”

Economically, a UN report showed that BDS was a major cause of a 46% drop in foreign direct investment in “Israel” in 2014, while the world bank mentioned that the movement resulted in a 24% drop in Palestinian imports from the occupied lands, according to the movement. Moreover, the Israeli occupation government and the Rand Corporation published reports that predict that BDS will cost “Israel” billions of dollars, which it did.

How “Israel” is fighting BDS

Proving to be effective, “Israel’s” policies against BDS and pressure on EU and US have proven the efficiency of the movement and the extent of loss it has caused to the occupation. 

The Zionist lobby worldwide and pro-“Israel” groups have urged governments such as France, Canada, the US, UK to criminalize BDS.

Last but not least, it is important to mention that the BDS movement is one form of resistance out of many against the Israeli occupation, amid the shameful wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation and the Arab failure to support the Palestinian cause in favor of the US and “Israel.”

However, boycotting is not and should not be an alternative to armed resistance as the late Samah Idriss affirmed, “We believe there is no other way to communicate with the Israeli occupation except through boycotting and armed resistance, and nothing else.”

Idris is no longer with us, but his memory will live in the hearts and minds of all the supporters of the Palestinian cause.

سماح سهيل ادريس

السبت 27 تشرين الثاني 2021

التعليق السياسي

رحيل الكاتب والمناضل سماح سهيل إدريس صاحب دار الآداب التي أسسها والده الراحل سهيل إدريس، والتي واظبت في عهديهما على خط ثابت في الوفاء للقضية الفلسطينية، خاتمة مسيرة لنموذج للمثقف الذي فشلت محاولات التطبيع والتمييع والتتبيع في إغرائه، على رغم ما تمليه ضرورات دور النشر من بحث عن الأسواق حيث المال، وعن المال الذي يفتح الأسواق، فصمدت دار الآداب وصمد سماح حيث صمدت فلسطين، وفق معادلة ما نتحمله بسيط بالقياس لما تتحمله فلسطين، وهذا التشارك في كلفة الصمود هو أضعف الإيمان.

حمل سماح إدريس لواء المقاطعة لكيان الاحتلال ومنتجاته الاستهلاكية والثقافية، ومقاطعة الشركات والمؤسسات الثقافية والفنية الداعمة له، كمهمة نضالية، حتى كادت تتحول إلى مهنة يحترفها بلا مقابل، يسافر ويكتب ويحاضر ويغرد لأجل تعميم ثقافتها، تاركاً وراءه إرثاً ممتداً بين لبنان والخارج، وصل إلى جامعات الغرب ومؤسساته الثقافية، كما إلى لجان المستهلكين في العديد من الدول الغربية، وربط مكافحة التطبيع الثقافي والسياسي والاقتصادي بخطة المقاطعة، كركنين في ثقافة المقاومة التي آمن بأنها الطريق الوحيد إلى فلسطين.

خسر المؤمنون بفلسطين وخسرت المقاومة قامة مثقفة تميزت بالأخلاق الرفيعة والتواضع والتفاني، كانت مثالاً للمثقف المشتبك الذي ينجح بتقديم القلم بموازاة البندقية، ويحمل تبعات الموقف حصاراً وفقراً وملاحقة، وعندما داهم المرض سماح إدريس وتفوق على قدرته على الصمود، لم تكن لسماح وصية شخصية، بل كانت وصيته لا تنسوا فلسطين، فإذا تخلينا عن فلسطين تخلينا عن أنفسنا.

فيديوات وصوتيات متعلقة

تغطية خاصة – سماح إدريس

مقالات متعلقة

Hezbollah Mourns Samah Idriss: Palestine Lost a Solid Defender, Fighter

 November 27, 2021

Hezbollah mourned in a statement released on Friday the righteous fighter and writer Samah Idriss who passed away yesterday after a long struggle with disease.

“Lebanon and the Arab world have lost the fighter and writer Samah Idris,” the statement read, adding that the Palestinian cause lost, with his departure, a hero and a solid defender, who harnessed his culture and literary production in defense of Palestine and the freedom of its people, and in the face of all forms of cultural, political and economic normalization throughout the Arab world.

“Hezbollah is deeply saddened and extends its deepest condolences and sympathy to his family and loved ones and to all strugglers on the same path of resistance and facing normalization,” the statement concluded.

Idriss was a writer, publisher, editor, thinker, editor-in-chief of Al-Adab magazine and co-founder of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon. He constantly amplified the voices of Palestinian political prisoners in the pages of Al-Adab, and his work is known among the prisoners themselves.

He was one of the initiators of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement and his speech at the Beirut conference was recently published by Al-Akhbar. His last speech contained his hope for the revolutionary future of Palestinian and Arab liberation.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Samah Idris, the writer, novelist, and co-founder of the ‘Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon’ passed away, but the fight against normalization with the Israeli occupation lives on.

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