Pro-Palestinian Activists Celebrate 12 Years of BDS Successes in Adelaide, Australia

November 23, 2022

Pro-Palestinian activists in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo: Supplied)

By Margaret Cassar

A huge amount has changed in the twelve years since we started our weekly BDS actions, organized by the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (Afopa), in the heart of Adelaide, Australia. People no longer spit at us, call us terrorists, or use vile verbal abuse for our protesters of Middle Eastern appearance.

We are now more likely to be hugged and congratulated for standing up for Palestinians. It is blatantly obvious here in Adelaide that the Australian government’s craven toadying to the will of the Israel lobby and the United States when it comes to Palestinian human rights has not kept pace with the hearts and minds of the general population.

This 12-year mark is a good time to reflect on some of our successes. One of the most important of these is the grassroots organizational structure of the group. Our approach stands in stark contrast to some politicians and bureaucrats in this country but firstly a few examples of how individuals in our group have used their local knowledge and initiative to drive change.

For 12 years now, Helen Lawrie and Phil Davies have been writing original songs about Palestine, BDS campaigns, and/or adapting other songs. In just one example Helen turned “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” into “Diamonds are Israel’s Best friend.” The YouTube of this song traversed the seas to Sean Clinton, in Ireland, and was promoted widely by international Blood Diamond activists. I am happy to say the crucial Blood Diamond campaign is still going strong and becoming more influential.

In 2017, Dr. David Faber, Afopa’s historian, researched the facts of the Australian Light Horse Brigade’s action in Beersheba in 1917. This meant that Australian activists had knowledge at their fingertips to refute the Zionist myth, promulgated at the 100-year anniversary of Beersheba, that Australian soldiers died to create the state of Israel. We were part of a national campaign that led eventually to the chief sponsor, Australia Post, withdrawing all their public statements promoting this lie.

Another 2017 success story resulted from an action initiated by one of our most dedicated activists who has braved all conditions to stand weekly in Rundle Mall, Joe Frank. While he was in the hospital that year, Joe filled out his place of birth as Palestine on the mandatory forms for admission. The next day he was given a printout that said his place of birth was ‘Not Given’; apparently, there was no place in the database for Palestine. Obviously, a bureaucrat in Canberra at the stroke of a pen had decided to toe the Zionist line, or been instructed to toe the Zionist line, and deny the existence of Palestinians.  Joe wrote a strong letter of complaint. Sometime later Joe received an email from the Australian Bureau of Statistics saying that a code has now been allocated for Palestine.

Not all of Joe’s campaigns were resolved so quickly.  He had to persist for a year in asking the Australian government to change his country of birth from ‘Unspecified’ to Palestine on his new passport. Makes you wonder who are the bureaucrats dreaming up such weasel words to help the Zionist cause and then imposing them on every Palestinian in Australia.

After battling for a year Joe was informed he had won the case at mediation. This was a major win for all Australian Palestinians.  Joe’s achievements with these two issues show that even the most powerful federal bureaucracies can change and you do not always need a large group of activists or powerful people or politicians just one Palestinian-Australian.

Reflecting on these successes is heartening and inspires us to keep going. However, we also know the noose is tightening – we see it in the Mall and the city every week. This last year has seen a local group of Christian Zionists increasing their harassment, increasing their stalking,  flaunting their close relationship with security agencies, and increasing the numbers of Zionists in the Mall, especially on Friday evenings. Recently we were outnumbered 8 to 1.

We are also seeing the noose tightening at a government level with the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Definition of Anti-Semitism laws attempting to shut down criticism of Israel and all BDS actions. Earlier this year a newly elected One Nation member of the South Australian Legislative Council introduced the adoption of what Dr. David Faber describes as this pseudo-definition. I am proud to say the Upper House in South Australia was prepared to reject this motion.

Unfortunately, some of our political parties are run like autocracies and the bureaucracies I have already mentioned. The hard word came down from Canberra that our South Australian Labor Party politicians had to toe the Zionist line.  And they did. The South Australian Upper House has now adopted the pseudo-definition.

In a bizarre move, federal politicians have subsequently created a group named “The Parliamentary Friends of the IHRA Definition”. I believe this is the first time Australian politicians have befriended a definition. They usually create groups like Parliamentary Friends of the United States of America or Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action. To appease the Zionist lobby these politicians will happily support the silencing of free speech on human rights abuses in Palestine and make themselves ridiculous by cozying up to a definition.

Top-down control ignored the wishes of millions of Australians in 2003 and led to the obscenity and mass slaughter of the Iraq war now this dictatorial model of politics has led to senior politicians enforcing support for an Apartheid regime, Israel, and for silencing free speech in Australia. I would prefer to see political parties follow our Adelaide BDS group’s model of inclusive, grassroots decision-making and actions.

– Margaret Cassar is Convenor of the Australian Friends of Palestine’s BDS Activist Group, Co-founder of the Adelaide-based Scribes for Palestine organization, and Executive Member of the Australian Friends of Palestine Association. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Roger Waters Fends Off ‘Antisemitism’ Smears in Germany Ahead of Live Shows

November 10, 2022

Pink Floyd rock legend Roger Waters. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Pink Floyd rock legend Roger Waters has reaffirmed his commitment to perform in Germany next year as part of his This Is Not a Drill world tour in spite of vicious smears against him from German politicians and media outlets accusing him of antisemitism.

On Friday, Waters wrote on Facebook to his fans saying The Mayor of Munich, some members of the Green and SDP political parties and others “have been slandering me, accusing me of being an anti-semite and also a Putin apologist. I am neither of those things. Never have been and never will be.”

Waters, known for his outspoken commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as a proud supporter of rights for Palestinians, has been attacked by German officials attempting to have his upcoming shows canceled.

According to Berliner Zeitung, Samuel Salzborn, the anti-Semitism commissioner of the Social Democratic Party, called for the cancellation of his upcoming concert in Berlin in May 2023.

The German official recently described the musician as “one of the loudest voices in the music business, spreading anti-Israel anti-Semitism,” in the German newspaper B.Z, according to Tagesspiegel.

Salzborn has been criticized himself for his “deep intolerance against Palestinians” by Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah in the Electronic Intifada, following a Tweet he made in October 2019 (now deleted) which said:

“When you’re sitting in the train and the people next to you start talking about ‘Palestine’ without any apparent reason, it means it is time to either get off the train, put on your headphones, or scream at them”.

Abunimah said the tweet appears to be “a pure expression of his disgust even at the thought of Palestine or Palestinians existing.”

An article published last week in Jüdische Allgemeine smears Waters even more viciously, the article titled “Jew hatred on tour” says the Bavarian anti-Semitism commissioner Ludwig Spaenle recently called on the city of Munich to cancel the contract for the planned concert in the Olympiahalle if Waters did not distance himself from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

BDS is a Palestinian-led movement encouraging non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law.

In the same article, Sigmount Königsberg, the anti-Semitism commissioner for Berlin’s Jewish community is quoted as saying Waters is “an anti-Semite, a hate preacher with music that demonizes Israel.”

Likewise, Uwe Becker, Spaenle’s Hessian counterpart says Waters is, “a bad example of aggressive, Israel-related anti-Semitism” and that he is not welcome in the state.

Waters is not unique in having weaponized allegations of antisemitism wielded against him in Germany. The Euromed Human Rights Monitor recently expressed  concern over the “anti-Arab purge in German media.”

Waters has become an outspoken critic of Israel’s apartheid and oppression of the Palestinian people since he first visited the West Bank in 2006 and was approached by the BDS movement to support the campaign.

Speaking on Joe Rogan’s Experience last month, considered the world’s most popular podcast, Waters exposed Israel’s ongoing apartheid against the Palestinians saying, “now it is very difficult for anyone to have a conversation about Israel and Palestine without using the word apartheid because it is in the lexicon, and the problem is far more in the light.”

This year Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch published reports asserting Israel is committing the crime of apartheid.

So far Waters’ tour has also illuminated Israel’s ongoing injustices against Palestinians, including the attacks made against Palestinian journalists. During his recent US shows, images of Israel’s apartheid wall were displayed as well as the name of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was shot dead by Israeli forces this year.

And it is not just adoring fans who listen to Waters’ informed perspective on Palestine, in 2012 he gave an extended address at the United Nations as part of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and has written many letters encouraging fellow musicians not to perform in Israel.

Last year, distinguished Palestinian historian, Professor Rashid Khalidi (Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University) suggested that young Palestinians should, “stop listening to old people for advice” on their activism at an event held by Palestine Dee Dive, before quickly correcting himself saying, “actually there is one older person you should still listen to, of course, his name is Roger Waters.”

Waters rounded off his to address  fans in Germany on Facebook, saying:

“Your Ruling Class and your media want to ban me from bringing my message of love and peace and revolution to enrich your lives. WELL I’M COMING, and together we will raise the roof on this charade”.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

On Palestinian Sumoud and Resilience During a Time of Ongoing Repression and Resistance

October 28, 2022

Palestinians organized a rally in support of Palestinian Resistance in West Bank (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

By Benay Blend

On October 24, 2022, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network international coordinator, Charlotte Kates, and one of the founders of the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (Masar Badil), Khaled Barakat, arrived in Amsterdam to participate in the Week of Action for Return and Liberation of Palestine. No sooner had they arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol airport than immigration service, operated by Dutch military police, detained them for questioning.

After being interrogated about their political views–about Samidoun, about Masar Badil, and the week of action for liberation and return–they were denied entry and deported back to Canada where they will continue organizing and speaking out against Zionist repression of Palestinians. While saddened by this action, activists immediately spoke out, vowing to channel their anger into making the March even stronger despite efforts to quash the movement.

Calling on Palestinians to be “purveyors of consciousness not victimhood,” journalist Ramzy Baroud suggests that, while understanding that the reach of Zionist repression is important, communicating a sense of “collective victimhood” denies human agency to those who are oppressed.

When Samidoun issued a statement declaring that “our response to this attack on our organizing must be to make an even bigger, stronger, louder and more powerful stand with the Palestinian people, their resistance, and the liberation of Palestine,” they are answering Baroud’s request that Palestinians convey strength and fortitude in the face of Zionist oppression.

“The Palestinian struggle cannot be reduced to a conversation about poverty or the horrors of war,” Baroud continues, “but must be expanded to include the wider political contexts that led to the current tragedies in the first place.” Activists are doing this as well, calling attention to the history of repression against Barakat and Kates by the European state.

In their statement, Samidoun recalls the past history of repression against Barakat and Kates. In 2019, Barakat received a political ban due to his organizing among Palestinians living in Berlin, Germany at the time. After leaving Germany, Barakat and Kates, who are also a married couple, were banned from re-entry for many years. This was the cause cited as the reason for their denial of entry into the Schengen zone, though their ban did not extend to this region.

Indeed, there has been an established policy in Germany, the Netherlands and the European Union of attacking the Palestine solidarity movement. From banning Nakba commemorations to condemning organizations that are in solidarity with Palestinian liberation, these officials have a long history of repression not only in the diaspora but also of supporting the Zionist colonization of Palestine since Israel’s founding.

Significantly, Kates’ and Barakat’s most recent ban occurs as Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte was travelling to the settler colonial Zionist state for talks during a time of escalating colonial violence and repression. Rutte’s trip serves to link repression of Palestinian activism in the diaspora to increasing Israeli violence towards Palestinians in their own country.

From Charlotte Kates came a statement that voiced this link quite clearly: “The European Union always talks about human rights, but ignores them when it comes to Palestine. Palestine activists in all EU countries face repression. This deportation is therefore not just an attack on Khaled and me, but on the Palestinian movement as a whole.”

As in the diaspora, escalating Zionist violence in Palestine has fueled the rise of resistance groups, including the “Lions’ Den” and Jenin Brigades, which includes groups of people regardless of political affiliation across the West Bank. According to Hani Al-Masri, what distinguishes this movement is that it unites armed struggle with other forms of popular resistance, such as a general strike held recently in the West Bank.

In Gaza, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine organized a rally to support Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem. Saleh Nasser, a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front in the Gaza Strip, stressed that Palestinians much chose between a variety of resistance strategies to confront the Israeli Occupation.

“What [Israel] fail[s] to understand,” writes Ramzy Baroud, “is that the growing rebellion in the West Bank is not generated by a few fighters in Nablus and a few more in Jenin, but is the outcome of a truly popular sentiment.” This unity can also be seen in solidarity around the world, most recently in the quick response to European efforts to weaken the March in Brussels.

In response to the banning of Kates and Barakat, activists at Schiphol Airport held the Palestinian flag along with signs that read “long live the Palestinian Struggle.” Others presented a statement of solidarity with Kates and Barakat to the military police who detained and interrogated the movement’s leaders.

From a wide array of Palestine solidarity groups around the world came a quick response to the injustice, showing again a commitment to unity across many different lines. For example, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBIurged activists to stand in solidarity with Kates and Barakat by supporting and/or organizing their own protests in conjunction with the March.

Al-Awda—The Palestine Right to Return Coalition called on supporters to defend the right to organize for the right of return for Palestinian people, and accentuated that “our response to this attack on our organizing must be to make an even bigger, stronger, louder and more powerful stand with the Palestinian people, their resistance, and the liberation of Palestine.”

“For the Palestinian narrative to be truly relevant,” Baroud writes, “Palestinians must assume the role of the Gramscian intellectual, as purveyors of consciousness, and abandon the role of the victim intellectual altogether.” Given rising resistance in Palestine and growing solidarity around the world, his words are bearing fruit.

Reports back from the March also paint a clear picture of carrying on with strength and dignity despite the ban. Despite efforts to the contrary—the Israeli ambassador in Brussels demanded the cancellation of the March—all attempts to quash the spirit of participants have failed.

The week began with standing room only for the first events which focused on the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. These workshops followed a 1,000-strong demonstration and march to the prison in Lannemezan, France, where Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese struggler for Palestine, has been jailed for the past 39 years.

As the movement becomes stronger, there will be more efforts to silence Palestinian voices. “Let us be clear,” stated the organizers of the March,

“all of these show just why it is so urgent that our demonstration on Saturday 29 October be very loud, clear and massive, demanding accountability from European colonialism and imperialist powers for their ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people. Join us on Saturday, 29 October at Lumumba Square in Brussels at 2 pm, to march to the European Parliament in the March for Return and Liberation.”

Explaining why “Israel is Afraid of the Lions’ Den,” Baroud concludes that that Palestinians are “simply fed up with the Israeli occupation and with their collaborating leadership.” They are ready to put “it all on the line,” because, he predicts, the coming months are going to be critical for all Palestinians.

All the more reason for organizers of the March to call for “a clear demonstration that the Palestinian people will accept nothing less than return and liberation, from the river to the sea, and will hold Europe accountable for the colonial crimes and ongoing imperialist exploitation.”

Joining the March or organizing local activities for return and liberation, they conclude, is a step towards making this possible.

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Who killed Jeremy Corbyn’s social justice project?

Tuesday, 25 October 2022 3:25 PM  [ Last Update: Tuesday, 25 October 2022 3:25 PM ]

Jeremy Corbyn

By David Miller

The hidden truth about The Labour Files, the largest leak in Britain’s political history, is the opposite of the right-wing critics of the Labour Party. 

They say that Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the UK’s Labour Party, interfered to slow down the progress of antisemitism cases.

The truth was that he speeded them up massively. In doing so, he intensified the witch-hunt against ordinary party members, despite the lack of evidence of a specific problem in the Labour Party of so-called “antisemitism”.

In fact, the evidence shows that levels of antisemitism in the Labour Party were lower than in society in general.

The number of notices of investigation, suspensions and expulsions connected to antisemitism all surged exponentially once Jennie Formby took over as General Secretary in the spring of 2018.

In 2019, there were 45 expulsions; in 2017 there had only been one. Was this because there was a real and increasing problem of antisemitism? No. However, the Corbyn-led party took over and extended the witch hunt by internalizing Zionist talking points on what antisemitism was.

These sang from the hymn sheet produced by the Zionist regime in blurring together anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

Zionist talking points

By acting as if the Zionist talking points were evidence-based, key elements of the office of the Leader of the Opposition (known as LOTO), and those around it, came to believe that they were genuine. 

As a result, they appointed staff who also believed in the false Zionist talking points. At the head of the unit appointed to deal with complaints were three people, each of whom had drunk the antisemitism Kool-Aid:

  • Harry Hayball, who had previously been in Momentum and studied the history of antisemitism on the left” by reading Thats Funny You Dont Look Antisemitic and The Lefts Jewish Problem. The latter was written by an employee of the Community Security Trust which runs point for the Zionist regime in the UK. The former was by Steve Cohen published in 1984 and republished in 2005 by Engage the Zionist lobby group formed to oppose Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. Momentum in 2019 tweeted to recommend the book. As the leader of the Zionist-leaning Trotskyist sect, the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) Sean Matgamna wrote in an obituary in March 2009 that towards the end of his life Cohen considered himself a supporter of AWL”. In other words, Hayball learned about the notion of “left antisemitism” from committed Zionist propaganda tracts. Hayball also states that he was lobbied by a wide range of stakeholders from JLM, Jewish communal organisations and the wider Jewish community. Prior to working in the antisemitism unit, Hayball had been the head of Digital with Momentum, the allegedly hard left support group for Corbyn.  While there he had proactively progressed the witch-hunt claiming of himself that from August 2018 onwards, Hayball submitted dozens of complaints to Labour about cases of antisemitism he had documented from social media posts by suspected Labour members”.  In the Labour files it was revealed that at a meeting after an elderly woman suffered a stroke and died soon after learning of her expulsion from the party, a senior officer had laughed and said “Look we’re anti-Semite killers now!”.  According to the Al Jazeera whistleblower: The whole room broke out in laughter. I can reveal that the official who made the “joke” was Harry Hayball.
  • Patrick Smith, a former member of the AWL, who resigned from the party in 2013 complaining about its Islamophobia. He then joined the Communist Party of Great Britain which, like the AWL, bandies about the Islamophobic term “Islamist”. Smith had previously complained about anti-Zionist views being problematic in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and denounced its members as being essentially mad”.
  • Laura Murray is claimed in the leaked Labour Antisemitism Report, mainly written by Hayball –  to have developed her understanding of antisemitism through her work with the JLM and with Jewish communal organisations” in her role as Stakeholder Manager in the Leader’s Office. Murray also appears to have taken on the role of advocating the views of the Zionist groups to the leadership. She wrote to GLU about the concerns expressed by the JLM and Jewish communal organisations about the handling of antisemitism cases. Note that even the use of the phrase Jewish communal organisations is a Zionist talking point. The main Jewish communal groups are all Zionists. Murray was also said to have, “developed a comprehensive understanding of antisemitism on the left” through her work with “Jewish stakeholders” and “by undertaking further education and training, including” acourse on ancient and pernicious antisemitic tropes” at the Israeli government sponsored Yad Vashem.

The report goes on to say that the employment of Hayball was an indication of the internal desire of Murray and others to “build a team which understood the processes from the perspective of the complainant, which was self-critical.

The assumption was, of course, that the complainants were mainly acting in good faith, which was a recipe for a dramatic escalation of antisemitism suspensions, warnings and expulsions, with no basis on any rational or factual assessment of racism against Jews.

Corbyn’s Zionist advisers

In addition, Corbyn had surrounded himself with close advisors who were either soft on Zionism or were actually true believers. Momentum the so-called hard left support group for Corbyn – was set up by a variety of such people, including obviously Jon Lansman, who in an earlier period had been critical of Zionism.

But during the Corbyn period, he moved to a soft Zionist position, supporting the Zionist-produced IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism and repeatedly saying that the party had to regain the trust of the Jewish community. In May 2016, he wrote that what had been happening in Labour was a frenzied witch hunt in part fuelled by the fundamentalist wing of pro-Israeli organizations. But in the same piece, he argued that the left should drop the term Zionism altogether.

His argument is that Zionists in occupied Palestine are more hardline than those in the UK.  Maybe so, but they are unwilling to countenance the end of the Jewish state. So far, no Zionist group has accepted the end of the “Jewish State”. We are left, then, with the fact that Zionism inherently means support for a settler colony in occupied Palestine.

By 2019 Lansman had moved to the position  – the Party now had “a major problem with antisemitism and had “a much larger number of people with hardcore antisemitic opinions.

Lansman also invited into a key role in Momentum, a left Zionist activist from Scotland, Rhea Wolfson. She was a member of the Zionist affiliate to the Labour Party, the Jewish Labour Movement and was one of the editors (until April 2018) of the Clarion, the paper of the Zionist Trotskyist sect the AWL. According to her: One of the funniest things about Momentum is it’s just so Jewish.

James Schneider

Among other founders of Momentum was James Schneider. At Oxford University, he met his long-time friend Ben Judah, in whose play Schneider acted. It involved the inevitable Arab terrorist who subsequently turns out to be anti-Semitic. The pair were housemates in the period when Schneider founded Momentum in 2015 and they remain friends today.

Judah did his bit for the witch hunt between 2015 and 2019.  Prior to it, though, he had already claimed in May 2015 that he was pinned to the wall, throttled, punched in the head and told to Get out you f***ing Jew, by George Galloway supporters in Bradford, a charge emphatically denied by Galloway and his Respect Party.

Judah now works for the NATO lobby group the Atlantic Council, having previously worked at the “regime-change friendly” European Council on Foreign Relations and then the neoconservative US think tank the Hudson Institute, which champions aggressive, Israel-centric US foreign policies.

Schneider went on to become Corbyn’s strategic communications adviser. Press TV’s Palestine Declassified’ understands that he was among the key people pushing the idea that apologies needed to be made, and that the IHRA should be adopted.

He is on record as saying that the ridiculous judgement of the EHRC “should and must be implemented. He even highlighted what he thought were really good passages in a book by Dave Rich of the Zionist extremist Community Security TrustThe Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism. These suggestions, it is reported, include ditching conspiracy theories, not using Holocaust analogies or hysterical language when talking about Israel. These of course all relate at least in part to discussions of the Zionist entity as opposed to Jews.

As the leaked Labour Antisemitism report, the Forde report and the Labour Files show, the bullets used to assassinate Corbyn were produced and shaped by the Zionist regime. They were then carried to the scene of the crime by Zionist lobby groups, assets and fronts. 

But the key proximate actors that delivered the coup de grace to Corbyn were his own supporters and those in his own office.

David Miller is a writer, broadcaster and investigative researcher. He is the producer and expert commentator on Palestine Declassified, a weekly PressTV show. He was unjustly sacked by the University of Bristol in 2021 at the behest of the Zionist movement.


(The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

THE ISRAEL FILES: WIKILEAKS DOCS SHOW TOP HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS WORKING WITH ISRAEL TO DEFEND ITS WAR CRIMES

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2022

Source

THE ISRAEL FILES IS A NEW MINTPRESS SERIES EXPLORING AND HIGHLIGHTING THE MANY REVELATIONS ABOUT THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE THAT WIKILEAKS DOCUMENTS DISCLOSED. IT HOPES TO SHED LIGHT ON MANY OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND UNDERREPORTED REVELATIONS THE PUBLISHING GROUP EXPOSED. 

By Alan Macleod

As Israel was launching a deadly assault on Gaza, killing thousands of civilians and displacing more than 100,000 people, many of America’s top TV, music and film producers were organizing to protect the apartheid state’s reputation from widespread international condemnation.

Together, the Sony Archive – a cache of emails published by Wikileaks – prove that influential entertainment magnates attempted to whitewash Israeli crimes and present the situation as defending itself from an impending “genocide”, liaised with Israeli military and government officials in order to coordinate their message, attempted to cancel those who spoke out against the injustice, and put financial and social pressure on institutions who hosted artists criticizing the apartheid government’s actions.

AS ISRAEL ATTACKS, HOLLYWOOD PLAYS DEFENSE

“[Israel’s message] Must be repeated ad infinitum until the people get it,” wrote Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, in an email chain to many of Tinsel Town’s most influential executives. This was in response to the unprovoked 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, one of the bloodiest chapters in over half a century of occupation.

Named “Operation Protective Edge”, the Israeli military engaged in seven weeks of near-constant bombing of the densely populated coastal strip. According to the United Nations, over 2,000 people were killed – a quarter of them children. 18,000 houses were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.

The Israeli military deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s only power plant and shutting down its water treatment plants, leading to economic, social and ecological devastation in an area Human Rights Watch has labeled the world’s largest “open air prison”.

Many in Hollywood expressed deep concern. “We must make sure that never happens again”, insisted producer Ron Rotholz. Rotholz, however, was not referring to the death and destruction Israel imposed on Gaza, but to the fact that many of the entertainment world’s biggest stars, including celebrity power couple, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, had condemned Israel’s actions, labeling them tantamount to “genocide.”

“Change must start from the top down. It should be unheard of and unacceptable for any Academy Award-winning actor to call the legitimate armed defense of one’s territory…genocide” he continued, worrying that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a worldwide campaign to put economic pressure on Israel in an attempt to push it to meet its obligations under international law – was gaining steam in the world of the arts. Israel’s legitimacy rests upon political and military support from the U.S. Therefore, maintaining support among the American public is crucial to the long term viability of its settler colonial project.

Rotholz then attempted to organize a silent, worldwide pressure campaign on arts venues and organizations, including the Motion Picture Academy in Hollywood and the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, to stamp out BDS, writing,

What we can do is urge the leaders of major film, TV and theater organisations, festivals, markets and potentially the heads of media corporations to issue official statements condemning any form of cultural or economic boycotts against Israel.”

Others agreed that they had to develop a “game plan” for opposing BDS.

Of course, when influential producers, festivals and heads of media corporations release statements condemning a certain position or practice, this is, in effect, a threat: stop taking these positions or suffer the professional consequences.

LOACH ON THE BRAIN

The Sony emails also reveal a near obsession with British filmmaker and social activist Ken Loach. The celebrated director’s film, “Jimmy’s Hall” had recently been nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and in the wake of Israel’s assault on Gaza, he had publicly called for a cultural and sporting boycott of the apartheid state.

This outraged many in Hollywood. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, a film producing company responsible for financing more than 200 movies, demanded that not only Loach, but the whole Cannes Film Festival be cancelled. “The studios and networks alike must join together and boycott cannes,” he wrote. “If we don’t we are sending a message that another holocaust is fine with Hollywood as long as it is business as usual,” he added, framing the Israeli attack on a near-defenseless civilian population as a Palestinian genocide of Israelis.

Others agreed. Ben Silverman, former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios and producer of shows such as “The Office”, “The Biggest Loser” and Ugly Betty” said that the industry should “boycott the boycotters”. Rotholz, meanwhile, wrote to the head of the Cannes Film Festival, demanding that he take action against Loach for his comments. “There is no place for [Loach’s intolerant and hateful remarks] in the global world of film and filmmakers”, he insisted.

.

Others came up with another way of countering Loach. “How about we all club together and make a documentary about the rise of new anti-Semitism in Europe,” suggested British film producer Cassian Elwes, adding,

I would be willing to contribute and put time into it if others here would do the same. Between all of us I’m sure we could figure out a way to distribute it and get it into places like Cannes so we could have a response to guys like Loach. Perhaps we try to use it to rally support from film communities in Europe to help us distribute it there”.

“I love it,” replied publishing oligarch Jason Binn, “And I will promote it in a major way to all 3.2 million magazine subscribers across all on and offline platforms. I can even leverage Gilt’s 9 million members,” he added, referring to the shopping and lifestyle website he managed.

“Me too,” said Amy Pascal, the Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Meanwhile, Mark Canton, producer of movies such as “Get Carter”, “Immortals” and “300” busied himself drumming up more Hollywood support for the idea. “Adding Carmi Zlotnik to this growing list”, he replied, referencing the TV executive.

This whole correspondence was from an email chain of dozens of high-powered entertainment figures entitled “Happy New Year. Too bad Germany is now a no travel zone for Jews,” which ludicrously claimed that the European country had become a Muslim-controlled Islamic theocracy.

“It is horrible. But in the end, it is no surprise, because apologists for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians will go to any length to prevent the people opposing them,” Mr. Loach said, when asked for comment by MintPress. “We shouldn’t underestimate the hatred of those who cannot tolerate the idea that Palestinians have human rights, that Palestine is a state; and they have their country,” he added.

SHUTTING DOWN FREE EXPRESSION

The pro-Israel group in Hollywood also put serious pressure on American institutions to crack down on support for Palestinian human rights. Silverman revealed that he had written to Peter Gelb, the general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, in an effort to shut down a performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer”, an opera that tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of an airliner by the Palestine Liberation Front. “I suggest though that we each call him on Monday at his office at the Met and your point about the Met’s donors’ leverage is important,” he advised the other entertainment oligarchs, thereby shining a light on how the powerful move in secret to silence speech they do not approve of, and how they use their financial clout to coerce and strong-arm others into toeing their line. A lot of pressure was necessary, because, as Silverman explained, “as members of the artistic community it is very hard to be pro free speech only some of the time and not all of the time.”

Ultimately, the performance did go ahead, but not without a large and coordinated protest both inside and outside the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, as individuals attempted to shut down the performance, claiming it was “antisemitic.”

LIAISING WITH THE IDF

The email conversations of many of Hollywood’s most influential individuals show that they believe they are on the verge of a worldwide extermination of Jews, and that Israel – and themselves – are the only things standing in the way of this impending fate. As Kavanaugh wrote, “It’s our job to keep another Holocaust from happening. Many of you may think that can’t happen, that is extreme…[but] If you pull newspapers from pre Holocaust it seems eerily close to our world today.”

Rotholz was of a similar opinion, writing that,

It is imperative that leading figures in the LA/NY film, tv, media, digital and theater communities who support a strong and potent Jewish state develop a strategy for liasing with colleagues in London and Europe and also with the creative communities here and in Europe to promote and explain the Israeli cause.”

The Sony Archive emails also show that, not only were Tinsel Town’s top brass coordinating strategies to silence critics of Israel, but that they were also closely liaising with the Israeli government and its military.

Producer George Perez, for example, messaged his colleagues in the chain email to introduce them to an IDF colonel, stating (emphasis added),

Everyone please use this “reply all” list from here on.  I have included Kobi Marom a retired commander in the Israeli army. Kobi was kind enough to give my family and I a jeep tour of the Golan Heights during our June trip to Israel.  He also took us to visit an army base on the border of Israel and Syria, an area which has been in the news lately.  Hard to imagine that the “kids” that we met at the base are most likely engaged in combat with our enemies.”

Seeing as the large majority of those who died were Palestinian civilians, it is unclear whether he considers all Palestinians or just Hamas as enemies of Hollywood. Perez also noted that “Kobi works closely with the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) who are in need of donations,” and advised that Hollywood needed to “dig deep to help in the constant struggle for the survival of Israel.”

Hollywood celebrities including famed producer Haim Saban and actress Fran Drescher, pose with IDF soldiers at the FIDF Western Region Gala

The group also attempted to recruit Israeli-American movie star Natalie Portman into their ranks. But the Academy Award-winning actress appeared more concerned that her personal details were being shared. “How did I get on this list? Also Ryan Seacrest?” she replied, before directly addressing Kavanaugh, writing,

[C]an you please remove me from this email list? you should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people i don’t know have my personal info. i will have to change my email address now.  thank you”.

While Portman’s open contempt for the group of rabidly pro-Israel producers is notable, more so was Kavanaugh’s response, which revealed how close the connection between the Israeli state and Hollywood is. Kavanaugh wrote back,

Sorry. You are right Jews being slaughtered for their beliefs and Cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important than your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. my deepest apologies…I had lunch yesterday with Israel consulate general who brought J street up to me. He was so perplexed confused and concerned when he heard you supported them that he begged me to connect you two.”

Thus, the leaked emails prove beyond any doubt that both the Israeli government and the IDF liaise with some of the most powerful people in the entertainment world in order to push forward a pro-Israel message and stamp out any deviance from that line.

HIP HOPPERS FOR APARTHEID

While their efforts at recruiting Portman fell flat, one star who responded enthusiastically was hip hop mega producer Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and the brother of Joseph “Rev.Run” Simmons, one third of Run DMC. Simmons has recently been the subject of controversy, after 20 women have come forward, charging him with rape or other sexual misconduct.

The emails reveal that promoting engagement with Israel within the African-American community is one of Simmons’ primary interests. When asked if he had any ideas how to improve Israel’s image, he said, “Simple messaging from non Jews specifically from Muslims promoting peace and Israel’s right to exist…We have resources and the desire to win rather than lose the hearts of young Muslims and Jews.”

What these resources were, he explained,

We have hundreds of collaboration programs between Imams Rabbis and their congregations We have many respected imams who would join former chief rabbi metzker (spelling) rabbi Schneier and non Jews in promoting the Saudi peace plan”.

“Through this campaign we will be helping Israel,” he concluded.

TURNING THE TIDE

Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state.

Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”

Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state.

Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”

Nevertheless, U.S. government support for Israel continues to rise. Between 2019 and 2028, it is scheduled to send nearly $40 billion in aid, almost all of it military, meaning that American taxpayer funds are contributing to Palestinian oppression and displacement.

Loach was even more upbeat on the issue, telling us that those who stand in the way of justice will be judged poorly by history, stating,

The denial of human rights of the Palestinians is one of the great crimes [of the modern era] and Palestinian rights is one of the great causes of last century and this century. We should all support the Palestinians. If you have any care for human rights, there is no question: the Palestinians have to be supported. And these people who oppose them, in the end, will fade away. Because history will show this was a terrible crime. Palestinians suffered ethnic cleansing of their homeland. We have to support the Palestinians, full stop.”

Those people, however, have no intention of “fading away”, and continue to organize on behalf of the Israeli government. Thanks to the leaked documents, those who care about Palestinian self-determination have a clearer understanding of how they operate.

MARVEL HEADS REVEALED TO BE CLOSELY CONNECTED TO ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2022

Source

By Jessica Buxbaum

Earlier this month, activists and comic book fans alike were in uproar over Marvel Studios’ announcement that Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Zionist superhero Sabra in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Captain America: New World Order. Many Palestine advocates accused Marvel’s decision to add Sabra to the MCU as exalting Israeli abuse and war crimes.

“By glorifying the Israeli army & police, Marvel is promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians & enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s authoritarian military rule,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote in a tweet.

Following the backlash, Marvel said in a statement to Variety that it will take a “new approach” to the character, in a perceived attempt to placate criticisms.

Yet vows to reimagine the Sabra character, a former spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, may come across as disingenuous, especially when, upon closer examination, Marvel appears closely connected to the Israeli government and its main intelligence agency Mossad.

MARVEL AND ISRAEL’S DEEPENING RELATIONSHIP

Many individuals who have held or still maintain roles at Marvel are associated with the Israeli military, Israeli intelligence and Zionist institutions that uphold apartheid. For instance, Isaac Perlmutter, the current chairman of Marvel Entertainment who served on Marvel Comics’ board of directors until 1995, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) and served in the Israeli military during the 1967 Six-Day War. Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, also grew up in modern-day Israel and served in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War.

Along with his wife, Laura, Perlmutter oversees a foundation that contributes to several pro-Israel causes such as the Anti-Defamation LeagueFriends of the Israel Defense Forces, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County in Florida, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation has also supported the Hebrew University and Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology.

The Perlmutters are also heavily linked to the Trump family. In 2016, their organization donated $25,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. According to Open Secrets, a campaign finance tracker, in 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $5,400 to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $450,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising initiative by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The couple then gave more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee in 2019 and 2020 and contributed another $11,200 to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2019.

President Trump shakes hand with Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire and the CEO of Marvel on April 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik | AP

Isaac Perlmutter donated $5 million in 2016 to the Great America PAC, a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Trump. The couple also contributed $10.5 million in 2020 to American First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. In addition, Both Perlmutters have backed several state and federal Republican entities and candidates over the years. The hefty donations did not go unnoticed, earning Isaac a spot in shaping policies at the Department of Veteran Affairs during Trump’s time in office, according to an investigation by ProPublica.

Early Marvel Comics’ investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman are also tied to both Israel and Trump. Icahn donated $5,400 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was subsequently named Trump’s special adviser

Both Perelman and Icahn were revealed as potential donors to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the 2007 primary elections. Perelman’s foundation has also contributed to several pro-Israel organizations, including the Chabad Lubavitch’s social services agency, Machne Israel, and the Jewish National Fund, which is a leading organization in establishing illegal Israeli settlements and displacing Palestinians.

Perelman also donated $125,000 to Trump’s Victory Committee in 2017 and is reportedly friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He was also listed in convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s address book.

Film producer Amy Pascal, who plays a key role in coordinating the collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, is a known Israel lobbyist. Leaked Sony emails reveal Pascal received email updates on the security situation in Israel from the now-defunct, right-wing advocacy group, The Israel Project.

She also received emails from Creative Community for Peace, an organization fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Pascal and her husband also received an email invitation to attend a private event about the situation in Israel with the Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles, David Siegel, and president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson.

Israeli propaganda has become deeply entrenched in Hollywood, in part because of many prominent entertainment oligarchs’ pro-Israel beliefs, as well as the global success of Israeli television series like “Shtisel” and “Fauda”. The latter television show glamorized the Israeli army, specifically the Mista’arvim unit, an undercover military wing designed to infiltrate Palestinian communities.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman also helped normalize Israel on the world stage, especially given her pride in serving in the Israeli military. Now Haas, who is set to play Sabra, is poised to be another example of Hollywood normalizing the apartheid state. Haas has been involved with pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, participating in a StandWithUs Facebook live to talk about her success. StandWithUs presents itself as an educational resource on Israel, but the organization is responsible for silencing the Palestinian narrative in schools and blacklisting pro-Palestine voices on campuses. Haas also served in the Israeli military’s theater.

The Mossad works with the U.S. entertainment industry to promote an attractive image of Israel abroad. SPYLEGENDS – an agency made up of former Mossad spies and other ex-security officials – was established in 2021 to advise Hollywood on spy films. The Mossad has also openly welcomed the slew of thrillers showcasing the intelligence agency as sleek and prestigious in an effort to boost recruitment.

MARVEL’S LINKS TO US MILITARISM AND INTELLIGENCE

Marvel’s nationalist sentiment does not end with Israel. Cloaked in mesmerizing cinematography and flashy special effects, the American company has also been instrumental in promoting U.S. militarism with its comic book universe.

In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the U.S. army allowed Marvel Studios to film at Camp Edward, a military training site. The 2003 “Hulk” film also benefited from access to military bases and loaned military equipment. “Iron Man” and its sequel created iconic scenes by borrowing the military’s weaponry as well. These Marvel movies — along with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain Marvel” — received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to help build their blockbuster enterprise.

The military’s support, however, came with a price. The Pentagon approved the scripts for “Hulk” and “Iron Man”, cutting out unfavorable references to the military, such as their experimentation on humans and dropping herbicides on South East Asia during the Vietnam War.

With the “Captain America” franchise, the army supported the Marvel movie, seeing it as “building resiliency” and considering the Captain America character to hold values of a modern U.S. soldier. “Captain Marvel” was the Air Force public relations department’s dream. The film’s release coincided with an Air Force recruitment campaign, using feminism as a way to sugar coat “Captain Marvel’s” obvious militarism. The recruitment effort clearly worked with the Air Force seeing the highest number of female applicants to the Air Force Academy in five years.

With Marvel’s U.S. military propaganda in full swing, it seems the studio is now turning its focus to Israeli nationalism. Whether Sabra will don an Israeli-flag-inspired suit remains to be seen, but what is apparent is Marvel’s close relationship with Israel and the U.S. military is manufacturing a fantasy world dripping in real-world imperialism.

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)

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