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

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.

Head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council: Our Armed Forces Ready, Fully Vigilant 

May 2, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies 

The head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, Mahdi Al-Mashat, said that “Eid al-Fitr came during the eighth year [from the start of the war], and our Yemeni people are still being subjected to aggression and a suffocating siege, by preventing ships from reaching the ports of Hudaydah.”

Al-Mashat underlined that “The aggression continues to impose many criminal measures, which have led to a rise in transportation costs, food and drug prices, added to many other repercussions.”

The top Yemeni official further stated that “With our commitment to the armistice and our desire for peace, we affirm that our armed forces are fully vigilant and ready to deal with any new circumstance,” adding that “After the expiration of half of the armistice period, no progress has been achieved regarding its most important provisions, related to easing the great suffering of the Yemeni people.”

He added, “Despite all the concessions we made to demonstrate our keenness on peace, they were met with intransigence, stalling, and lack of response by the countries of aggression and those behind them.”

In parallel, Al-Mashat indicated that “The countries of the aggression and their mercenaries control the sources of Yemeni oil and gas resources,” revealing that they looted more than 129 million barrels of crude oil. He added that the value of the looted wealth was “enough to pay the salaries of all state employees,” and that “Yemen reserves its right to recover all the money looted by the mercenaries of aggression.”

In another context, the head of the Supreme Political Council in Yemen addressed the recent developments in the occupied Palestinian territories, where he saluted the heroic operations of the Palestinian people against the ‘Israeli’ enemy, which confirm that armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.

Al-Mashat stressed that “Our support for the Palestinian people and standing with all the free people in our nation is a principled, humanitarian, political, and religious position, and it cannot change.”

He also urged “The Arab and Islamic nation to boycott American and ‘Israeli’ goods and to support the Palestinian resistance.”

UNHRC Report Accuses ‘Israeli’ Entity of Apartheid

March 24, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian territories submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC], in which he concluded that the situation in the occupied territories amounts to apartheid.

In a 19-page report submitted to the body on Tuesday, Michael Lynk said ‘Israelis’ and Palestinians lived “under a single regime which differentiates its distribution of rights and benefits on the basis of national and ethnic identity, and which ensures the supremacy of one group over, and to the detriment of, the other.”

“The political system of entrenched rule in the occupied Palestinian territory which endows one racial-national-ethnic group with substantial rights, benefits and privileges while intentionally subjecting another group to live behind walls, checkpoints and under a permanent military rule… satisfies the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid,” he added.

Lynk said that while the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories differed from that experienced in South Africa, it still amounted to apartheid.

Apartheid is a legal term defined by international law that refers to systematic oppression by one racial group over another.

“There are pitiless features of ‘Israel’s’ ‘apartness’ rule in the occupied Palestinian territory that were not practiced in southern Africa, such as segregated highways, high walls and extensive checkpoints, a barricaded population, missile strikes and tank shelling of a civilian population, and the abandonment of the Palestinians’ social welfare to the international community.

“With the eyes of the international community wide open, ‘Israel’ has imposed upon Palestine an apartheid reality in a post-apartheid world.”

Lynk is slated to formally release his report on Thursday ahead of a debate on Agenda Item Seven, the permanent UNHRC item reserved for ‘Israeli’ human rights abuses against Palestinians and other Arabs.

In the report, the Canadian academic argued that ‘Israel’ was pursuing a strategy of “strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian territory into separate areas of population control, with Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem [al-Quds] physically divided from one another.”

‘Israel’ uses Gaza, Lynk said, for the “indefinite warehousing of an unwanted population of two million Palestinians.”

The issuing of thousands of work permits for Palestinian laborers in the West Bank and Gaza to work in the occupied territories amounts to the “exploitation of labor of a racial group,” the report said.

Last month, Amnesty International labelled ‘Israel’ an apartheid entity, becoming the latest organization to join a cadre of human rights groups that have used the term to describe the ‘Israeli’ treatment of Palestinians.

Despite the increasing number of rights groups labelling Zionist policies as amounting to apartheid, the United States and the occupation regime’s other western allies have refrained from making any such declarations.

More on This Topic

Arab-’Israeli’ Normalization: Is It Good or Evil?

February 25, 2022

By Mohammad Sleem

Beirut – The biggest step taking place between the Zionist entity and Arab countries nowadays is normalization. Several countries have normalized ties with “Israel” with the latter willing to make it official. This step might lead to a huge positive impact on the existence of the entity itself, not only politically, but also on different aspects, especially economically.

Normalization is the practice of policies or actions to treat “Israel” as a natural part of the Arab world, and to ignore the practices of the “Israelis”, both the regime and its settlers, in the extermination and displacement of Palestinians.

This practice aims to establish relations with the “Israeli” entity and to overlook “Israeli” crimes against the Palestinians without holding them responsible for these crimes.

To date, Morocco has become the sixth country – preceded by Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan – to establish relations with “Israel” after signing agreements under US patronage. “Israeli” Prime Minister Naftaly Benet has been on several official visits and meetings with Arab leaders, with mutual promises for further deals and ties.

Some Arab leaders are seeking to secure their positions, with ties that seem beneficial for both sides, at least regarding political stability for their countries.

On the other side, signing economic deals is a top priority for the “Israeli” regime, as providing funds for settlement construction in West Bank territories is highly demand for land annexation and an increased grip for occupation.

Henceforth, to whom are the outcomes of normalization favorable?

Considering the aforementioned countries that normalized ties with “Israel”, their situation pre- and post-normalization has not changed much, if not becoming worse; as none of these countries gained full stability or improved their economic sector to better levels.

As for the “Israeli” side, normalization has contributed to the entity’s attempts to get its economy out of the current crisis. Indicators issued by “Israeli” economic institutions reflects the status of the entity’s economy.

According to data released by the “Israeli” Central Bureau of Statistics, the rate of the entity’s economic growth fell from 5% to 1% during the first half of 2019. This decline has continued over the past year with the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent nationwide lockdown. This comes at a time when the entity is maintaining its suffocating economic blockade over the Palestinian territories and settlement projects, and may rise in pace with the expected economic recovery.

Legalizing the looting of Palestinian and Syrian national wealth by the “Israeli” occupation authorities is yet another emerging outcome of normalization.

While European countries refuse to receive any products from “Israeli” settlements in the West Bank, besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied Syrian Golan, the six Arab countries have not yet declared a clear position on this issue; not to mention the fact that the gas extracted from the Mediterranean Sea, which is exported today to Egypt and Jordan, is ultimately a stolen Palestinian wealth.

Consequently, the unfolding profits resulting from Arab-“Israeli” normalization unveils the hidden relations that have been developing years ago. The main cause for Arab leaders to take such a step is fear of sanctions being imposed on their regimes; in addition to the benefits of such a step on both their personal and national interests. However, people in different countries are calling for boycotting nearly everything related to the “Israeli” entity refusing any sort of normalized relations.

Logically, evil stands against all the ethics of humankind. To the devil, it does not matter what the results were of any tie or relation, not even when this cause represents the history of an entire Arab nation, when looting all of its wealth and land being the priority.

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)

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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Artists boycott Sydney Festival 2022 over Israeli funding

9 Jan 2022

Net Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

In response to the Israeli occupation attempting to art-wash its crimes, various acts boycott the Sydney Festival 2022 in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Protesters wave Palestinian flags during a demonstration against “Israel” at the Town Hall in Sydney on May 15, 2021 (AFP)

30 acts, including bands, individual artists, companies, and panel members, canceled their performances or attendance at Sydney Festival 2022 that kicked off in Australia on Thursday.

The cancellations came over Israeli funding of the festival and the festival’s support for “Israel” while ignoring the regime’s oppression of Palestinians on their indigenous land.

The festival’s board accepted some $14,300 in a donation from the Israeli embassy in Australia, which were given in support of a show based on work by an Israeli choreographer and an Israeli dance company.

The Israeli occupation’s donation earned it a listing as a “star partner” on the website’s festival.

Artists withdrew to boycott the Israeli occupation’s crimes against Palestine and Palestinians, highlighting the occupation’s apartheid practices toward Palestinians.

Those who withdrew include Belvoir theatre production of Black Brass, comedians Tom Ballard and Nazeem Hussain, and other local bands, dancers, and performers.

Ballard explained that his decision to withdraw came “after listening to the calls to boycott the Sydney Festival over its decision to accept funding from and partner with the Embassy of Israel.”

“I love to tell jokes,” he said, “But standing up for human rights and standing against a system of apartheid is more important,” calling on the festival to review its decision and return the funding in question.

Musical artist Marcus Whale announced his withdrawal on Monday, clarifying that it was a boycott.

“The Israeli Embassy […] collaborates with Western cultural institutions to pain Israel as a liberal democracy on one hand, while enforcing brutal occupation and apartheid with the other,” the young artist tweeted.

Some acts did not fully withdraw from the festival, but they announced they would be participating independently, i.e. without sponsorship, and those include the acclaimed play Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner and Return to Sender.

“In light of Sydney Festival seeking and accepting funding from the Israeli embassy, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner has no other choice but to withdraw and boycott the festival,” the cast said.

“We will not be coerced into complicity,” they added, asserting that they came to this decision together to “stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and with all Indigenous People’s right to sovereignty and liberation,” they added in an Instagram post while calling “Israel” “another oppressive settler-colony.”

Despite the artist boycott, the Sydney Festival board said it was keeping the show sponsored by the occupation, claiming it “collectively affirms” its “respect for the right of all groups to protest and raise concerns.”

The Palestinian Justice Movement Sydney had called for a boycott in December upon knowing that the board accepted the donation in May. The campaign said the festival was contributing to the normalization of an apartheid state.

Algeria’s coach: We dedicate the Arab Cup to Palestine and Gazans

18 Dec 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen Net

Algeria wins the 2020 Arab Cup championship after winning against Tunisia 2-0, and the Algerian coach dedicates the win to Palestine.

Following the final whistle, Algeria’s coach Madjid Bougherra dedicated the win to Palestine.

Algeria’s national football team grasped the 2021 Arab Cup championship held in Qatar after winning 2-0 over Tunisia’s national team in the extra time.

In front of 60,456 fans present at Al Bayt stadium in Doha, Amir Sayoud scored Algeria’s first goal in the 99th minute of extra time, followed by Yacine Brahimi’s second goal in the 125th minute, crowning their country as Arab champions.


هدف أمير سعيود 🇩🇿 🤯#مونديال_العرب | #FIFArabCup
pic.twitter.com/s1RgTHHXUG— مونديال العرب (@Arabcup21) December 18, 2021

After the final whistle, the Algerian coach Madjid Bougherra said “We dedicate the Arab Cup to the Palestinian people and our people in Gaza.”

Brahimi was named the best player in the championship and received the Golden Ball award for his outstanding performance.

Algeria maintains no diplomatic ties with the Israeli occupation regime and has long been an outspoken and avid supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Last week, Algeria’s national football team celebrated its win over Morocco in the Arab Cup while waving high the Palestinian flag and kufiya.

Algerian athletes boycotting “Israel”

Three Algerian football stars boycotted Friday a match that gathered “legends” in Doha over the participation of an Israeli coach on the sidelines of the 2020 Arab Cup in Qatar, reported Quds News Network.

Rabah Madjer, Rafik Saïfi, and Rafik Halliche were among players on the FIFA Arab Legends’ formation who were supposed to face the FIFA World Legends in a friendly exhibition match.

However, the three Algerians decided not to take part in the match upon Israeli coach Avram Grant’s participation with the World Legends team.

The Israeli coach has previously managed English club Chelsea as well as “‘Israel’s’ national team” between 2002-2006.

Algeria defends Palestine in the Olympics

It is noteworthy that in late November, Algerian Judo champion Fethi Nourine announced his retirement, two months after the International Olympic Committee suspended him from competitions for 10 years on account of his withdrawal from the Tokyo2020 Olympics to avoid facing an Israeli opponent, in solidarity with Palestine.

“I know that international federations have always colluded with Zionist terrorism, especially the International Judo Federation, and perhaps the best evidence is that my punishment remains the same even after filing an appeal,” Nourine stressed.

He affirmed that he “will never stop supporting the Palestinian cause, no matter what.”

Nourine also mentioned that he does not regret his decision and that he is proud of it.

The Algerian champion said he will take advantage “of every opportunity to expose the zionist entity and defend our rights in Palestine.”

Palestinian engineer files lawsuit in Texas to protest antiboycott law

7 Dec  2021

Source: The Guardian

By Al Mayadeen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 7, 2021

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Ahmad Karakira

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sally Rooney under attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boycotting origins in Palestine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its success and effect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How “Israel” is fighting BDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

 November 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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

Related Articles

Report Reveals European Firms Have More Than $255B Entwined in Illegal Israeli Settlements

October 21st, 2021

By Jessica Buxbaum

Source

The Israeli Jewish-settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP/Oded Balilty)
The continuous settler takeover of Palestinian land has prevented Palestinians from developing and utilizing their resources and therefore significantly depleted their economy.

OCCUPIED WEST BANK, PALESTINE — Nearly 700 European firms have financial ties worth $255 billion with businesses actively involved in Israeli settlements, according to a new civil society report.

The Don’t Buy Into Occupation (DBIO) coalition is a joint project between 25 Palestinian and European non-governmental organizations investigating the business connections between companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT) and European financial institutions. The coalition’s latest research found 672 European financial institutions had relationships with 50 businesses participating in Israel’s settlement economy. Between 2018 and May 2021, major European firms provided loans and underwritings amounting to $114 billion to these businesses while investing $141 billion.

“The involvement of these corporations with the settlements — through investments, banking loans, resource extraction, infrastructure contracts, and equipment and product supply agreements — provides them with the indispensable economic oxygen they require to grow and thrive,” Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied since 1967, wrote in the report.

The findings

The DBIO coalition found that the top 10 creditors collectively gave $77.81 billion to businesses involved in the Israeli settlements. These firms are BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Société Générale, Santander, ING Group, Commerzbank, UniCredit, and Crédit Agricole. And the top 10 investors — Deutsche Bank, Crédit Agricole, Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), Investor AB, BPCE Group, Allianz, Swedbank, Legal & General, AB Industrivärden, and Alecta — contributed $67.22 billion.

The coalition reached out to 138 firms as well as three corporations highlighted in the report and additional businesses the coalition found to be heavily involved in the settlement economy. Booking.com, BNP Paribas, and HeidelbergCement and 21 financial institutions responded to the report’s results.

Replies varied, with some banks wanting to set up meetings to further discuss the findings while other institutions said they’ve already investigated human rights concerns with their business partners. The report’s authors declined to disclose with which institutions they are meeting, but DBIO said they plan to publish updates in the future.

“Some of them claim they did their human rights due diligence, but still decided to be involved in a settlement enterprise, which is quite against any of the suggestions or analysis of human rights experts,” Dr. Anna Khdair — a legal researcher at Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization, and one of the report’s co-drafters — told MintPress News.

Other institutions said any ties to Israeli settlements are not within their sphere of decision-making because settlements are legal under Israeli law. While they are warranted by Israel, settlements are illegal under international law.

“So, we still have a lot of work to do to explain how the settlement enterprise actually works and how much it is connected to the Israeli economy, [while] Israel itself will not provide enough information or transparency about those links with the illegal settlement enterprise,” Khdair said.

Holding corporations accountable

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has experienced incredible mobilization recently. American ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s made headlines over the summer after announcing it will stop selling in Israeli settlements. Two pension companies named in the DBIO report also recently divested from companies linked to the settlement enterprise. In July, Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), Norway’s biggest pension firm, divested from 16 companies involved in Israeli settlements.

“In KLP’s assessment, there is an unacceptable risk that the excluded companies are contributing to the abuse of human rights in situations of war and conflict through their links with the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank,” KLP said in a statement regarding their decision.

The businesses from which KLP divested are:

  • Ashtrom Group Ltd.
  • Electra Ltd.
  • Alstom SA
  • Bank Hapoalim
  • Bank Leumi
  • Israel Discount Bank
  • First International Bank Israel
  • Bezeq
  • Mizrahi Tefahot Bank
  • Altice Europe
  • Partner Communications
  • Cellcom
  • Delek Group
  • Paz Oil
  • Motorola Solutions
  • Energix Renewable Energies

In September, the Norwegian pension company GPFG announced it will stop working with Elco Ltd., Ashtrom Group Ltd., and Electra Ltd. because of their activities in the Israeli settlements. In the last decade, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and Barclays have also divested from some companies involved in the settlements.

Nonetheless, Willem Staes, coordinator of the DBIO coalition, noted:

Despite the illegal nature of Israeli settlements under international law, European financial institutions continue to throw a financial lifeline to companies operating in the settlements. European financial institutions should take up their responsibility and follow the example of KLP and GPFG. They should end all investments and financial flows into Israeli settlements, and not buy into the Israeli occupation.

Even with these divestment decisions, however, the aforementioned firms still associate with settlement-entwined businesses. KLP is invested in eight companies involved in the settlement enterprise: Delta Galil Industries, FIBI, Matrix IT, Mivne Group, Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006, Shapir Engineering and Industry, and Shufersal. GPFG still has business dealings with 34 companies linked to the settlements. These businesses are:

  • ACS Group
  • Atlas Copco
  • Bank Hapoalim
  • Bank Leumi
  • Bezeq
  • Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF)
  • Caterpillar
  • Cellcom
  • CNH Industrial
  • Delek Group
  • Delta Galil Industries
  • DXC Technology
  • Energix
  • CETCO Mineral Technology Group
  • Cisco Systems
  • Expedia
  • FIBI
  • General Mills
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
  • Israel Discount Bank
  • MAN Group
  • Tripadvisor
  • Manitou
  • Shufersal
  • Siemens
  • Matrix IT
  • Mizrahi Tefahot Bank
  • Volvo Group
  • WSP GLobal
  • Motorola Solutions
  • Partner Communications
  • Paz Oil
  • Rami Levy Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006
  • Terex

These ongoing financial relationships put into question the firms’ commitment to human rights.

Maha Abdallah, one of the co-drafters of the report and the International Advocacy Officer at Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, told MintPress News that the DBIO’s findings definitely contradict the institutions’ purported ethical responsibilities.

“These companies and financial institutions claim that they’re committed to human rights, but then we see the facts on the ground and the level of their involvement in the settlements,” Abdallah said. “So clearly these are all in violation of their responsibilities under international law and towards human rights standards.”

Al-Haq’s Khdair speculated, however, that the slow pull-out from the settlement enterprise may stem from fears of political backlash. “We saw how the reaction from [the] Israeli government towards Ben & Jerry’s’ decision was,” Khdair said. “So some companies would be wary of reputational risk and also see [divestment] as problematic for their shareholders. It’s a process of finding the right balance in terms of their gains and their goals.”

All 50 companies named in the report participate in at least one of the activities listed by the United Nations as criteria for inclusion in its database of companies operating in the Israeli settlements. Of the 50 companies implicated, 15 are American. These businesses are:

  • Airbnb
  • Booking Holdings
  • Caterpillar
  • CETCO Mineral Technology Group
  • Cisco Systems
  • CNH Industrial
  • DXC Technology
  • Energix
  • Expedia
  • General Mills
  • HPE
  • Motorola Solutions
  • RE/MAX Holdings
  • Terex Corporation
  • Tripadvisor

Israeli settlements crushing Palestine’s economy

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements across the oPT and 42% of the West Bank is under settlement control. Area C of the West Bank abounds with natural resources, but 68% of this region is reserved for Israeli settlements while only 1% is designated for Palestinian use.

The continuous settler takeover of Palestinian land has prevented Palestinians from developing and utilizing their resources and therefore significantly depleted their economy.

Restricted access to the Dead Sea, quarries and mines has led to an over $1 billion annual loss in revenue for Palestine, according to a 2015 policy brief from Palestinian thinktank Al-Shabaka. And companies’ exploitation of West Bank quarries is estimated at $900 million annually. The DBIO report authors write:

The exploitation of natural resources means that the Palestinian people are denied their right to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. By profiting from the depletion of Palestinian finite quarry resources, individual corporate actors may be held criminally liable for complicity in the crimes of appropriation, environmental destruction and the pillage of natural resources.

European Union’s hypocrisy

The EU provided more than $40 million in humanitarian aid to Palestine in 2021. It also follows international law in declaring the Israeli settlements illegal. Yet the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner, with a total of approximately $36 billion in traded goods last year.

“There are conflicting interests even between different European institutions [each with] their [own] priorities,” Khdair said, explaining that the goals of foreign affairs units often clash with human rights entities in the EU.

The EU does not support the UN database on companies complicit in Israeli settlements and continues to block funding to update the resource over budgetary constraints. Yet again in contradictory fashion, an EU court also ruled in 2019 that consumers have a right to know if products sold in EU markets were made in Israeli settlements.

“On the one hand, the EU has a very consistent approach and position on the illegality of settlements and all the associated violations that come along with it that undermine Palestinian rights,” Abdallah said. “But at the same time, we’re seeing that European businesses and financial institutions are still freely and without any consequences are being involved and active with the settlement enterprise.”

For Abdallah, European business activity in the settlements seems in stark contrast to the EU’s stated allegiances to the Palestinian cause. “We know what that means in reality,” Abdallah said. “It means giving them an economic lifeline allowing them to sustain themselves and expand and grow with time because these settlements, at the end of the day, rely on money in order to prosper and sustain and expand.”

Fighting Injustice: A Common Cause for Ireland, Scotland and Palestine

October 13, 2021

Fighting Injustice: A Common Cause for Ireland, Scotland and Palestine

By Mohammad Sleem

Beirut – In Glasgow, during the football matches between the Rangers and Celtic, the famous derby of the Scottish football league, Celtic fans do not hesitate to show every act of solidarity possible with Palestine. Images of fans waving the Palestinian flag and wearing the kufiyah over their shoulders circulate social media platforms, in an act which has been a tradition in Scotland for decades.

On October 9, the ‘Israeli’ football team represnting the Zionist entity played against the Scottish national team for the World Cup qualifications. The match took place in Scotland. The Palestinian flag and kufiyah dominated the seats in the stadium. The event was a great chance to display activities in and outside the stadium to express empathy with the Palestinian Cause. Fans shouted slogans and held banners calling for the boycott of the “Israeli” entity, with “don’t play ball with the ‘Israeli’ apartheid” written on banners.

As the game started, jeering and booing were heard out loud whenever any of the “Israeli” players touched the ball. A winning goal at the last minutes made the scenario even better for the Scottish fans, who celebrate loudly in the face of the “Israeli” fans.

Fighting injustice and calling for independence, are the main common factors bringing the Scots and Palestinians together, as Scotland has been previously colonialized. In addition to the aforementioned, the Palestinian Cause has a popular and political support led by the Scottish National Party, which sees Palestine as a repetition of its experience of independence, following numerous demands for secession from the United Kingdom.

“We want Palestinians to know that we are thinking about them”, that’s how Scots comment on their pro-Palestine activities.

The Scottish people and the Palestinians share a common cause: injustice; both nations have faced suppression and oppression and they share the same values and retell the stories of their sufferings and the experiences they went through.

In a related notion, the Irish also support Palestine since they consider the Palestinian Cause a reflection of their own experience as they have resisted the British occupation for the right to self-determination.

With this being said, we understand the reason behind the empathy of the Scots and the Celtic with Palestine. The Celtic football club founder was an immigrant from Ireland who settled in Glasgow and came up with the idea of founding a football club.

The spokesperson of Celtic expresses the Scottish club’s solidarity with the Palestinian immigrants saying, “They are always welcome in their home”, since we are immigrants and we feel the situation they are in.

Besides, Ireland’s parliament has issued a law to consider all the “Israeli” annexation of Palestinian lands “illegal”. Later on, Irish deputies passed the law and it became official.

The Irish and Scottish are highly knowledgeable when it comes to the Palestinian Case. Not only this, but several activities had also been held in solidarity with oppressed people in different countries such as Africa, to condemn suppression, oppression and ethnic cleansing.

US Made Years-long Efforts to End Boycott of ‘Israeli’ Goods in Yemen

12/07/2021

US Made Years-long Efforts to End Boycott of ‘Israeli’ Goods in Yemen

By Staff, Agencies

The Ministry of Information presented on Sunday a number of official documents that reveal early American efforts to end the boycott of ‘Israeli’ goods in Yemen.

The documents presented by the Ministry of Information revealed the US embassy’s request from the Saleh regime to end the economic boycott of ‘Israeli’ products and not to participate in anti-US-‘Israeli’ activities. They also revealed US-‘Israeli’ annoyance at boycotting their goods in Yemen, while confirming that the majority of American companies have a relationship with the Zionist entity.

A document issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated May 9, 1993 showed that the US State Department carried out a campaign of pressure on the authority to open the country to the goods of the Zionist enemy and the companies associated with it.

The Foreign Ministry’s document showed that the Assistant Undersecretary of the US State Department at the time, called for a “reconsideration of the boycott policy imposed on American companies that have a relationship with ‘Israel’, since most of the important American companies have a strong relationship with ‘Israel’. The companies complain about the conditions imposed by the boycott, which calls for proving the absence of a relationship with ‘Israel’, adding that this is contrary to US laws and deprives Yemen of benefiting from the investments of these companies.”

The brief meeting between Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi and the American ambassador in Sanaa, Thomas Krajeski, on Wednesday, June 1, 2005, showed that the US employed Saleh’s authority for lifting the Arab boycott system against the Zionist entity.

The document stated that the American ambassador conveyed a direct American directive to the authority to take a clear position on the Arab boycott conference, which takes place in the same month in the capital, Damascus. The document stated: “The ambassador made it clear that the US sees the futility of the boycott and the need to lift it, not only boycott of the second and third degree but rather the boycott of the first degree for companies that do business with [‘Israel’].”

The US ambassador said: “There is an increasing number of Arab countries that are working to violate the trade boycott system with [‘Israel’].”

The same document did not show at that time opposing the American pressures. The then foreign minister said that “the boycott system is fragile and there is no real boycott, as many Arab countries have opened commercial offices for ‘Israel’ on their lands,” as stated by al-Qirbi.

The documents include a memorandum classified under “Urgent” issued by the US Embassy in Sanaa on the 4th of November 2007 and addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It stated a number of US directives to the former regime, chief among them: “Not to support or send representatives to the biannual boycott meeting held by the Arab League in the office of the Arab League in the Central District of Damascus.

The embassy memo stated: “The Arab boycott meeting not only represents an obstacle to peace in the Middle East, but also constitutes a barrier to participation in the global economy, attracting foreign investment, expanding trade, and improving relations with the United States and the international community. Yemen’s accession to the World Trade Organization requires that the government of the Republic of Yemen has to abandon its initial boycott of ‘Israeli’ goods and services.”

The same document also reveals that the US administration was implementing a wide campaign of pressure targeting the Arab countries whose people adhere to the boycott. “The time has come for the Arab League to take a decision to close the central district office in Damascus.”

The Ministry of Information, publishing these documents to the public opinion as evidence of the American guardianship imposed on Yemen prior to the September 21 revolution, called on the masses of the Yemeni people to commit to the weapon of economic boycott, which has a high effect on the US-Saudi enemies of the nation, and to continue supporting the Palestinian people and confronting aggression against our country until victory.

Sanctions against Israel, anyone?

Response from UK government has Foreign Office still playing childish game of charades

UK-Israel symbiosis

By Stuart Littlewood -June 10, 2021

…from Stuart Littlewood, Britain

First published June 10, 2021

An online petition was recently sent to the British Government demanding sanctions against Israel. It said: “The Government should introduce sanctions against Israel, including blocking all trade, and in particular arms. Its disproportionate treatment of Palestinians and settlements that are regarded by the international community as illegal are an affront to civilised society.” 385,225 signed.

The Government promises a debate on the petition on 14 June. But its response includes this statement from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office issued yesterday (my comments in italics):

The UK is firmly opposed to boycotts or sanctions against Israel. Our close and varied relationship means we are able to express clearly when we disagree.

HM Government has made its position on sanctions clear. While we do not hesitate to express disagreement with Israel whenever we feel it necessary, we are firmly opposed to boycotts or sanctions. We believe that open and honest discussions, rather than the imposition of sanctions or supporting anti-Israeli boycotts, best supports our efforts to help progress the peace process and achieve a negotiated solution.

• Open and honest discussion with Israel has never worked. You happily slap other nations with sanctions.

HM Government takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. We consider all export applications thoroughly against a strict risk assessment framework. We continue to monitor the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and keep all licences under careful and continual review as standard.

• Clearly your risk assessments aren’t strict enough.

The UK welcomed the recent announcement of a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza on 20 May, which is an important step to ending the cycle of violence and loss of civilian life.

During the Foreign Secretary’s visit to the region on 26 May he reiterated the UK’s firm commitment to the two-state solution as the best way to permanently end the occupation, deliver Palestinian self-determination and preserve Israel’s security and democratic identity. The UK will continue our intensive diplomatic efforts in the region, focussed on creating the conditions for a sustainable peace.

• The cycle of violence and loss of civilian life didn’t end after previous ceasefires. Israel continued ‘mowing the lawn’. Why are you committed to the two-state solution when you’ve allowed Israel to establish facts on the ground that make a viable Palestinian state impossible? What do you think a Palestinian state will look like when you eventually get around to recognising one?

Haven’t you yet understood that Israel doesn’t want peace until it has annexed the whole of Palestine and that your stance simply aids the Zionists’ criminal ambition? Haven’t you heard Israeli leaders repeated say they will never allow a Palestinian state? And by the way Israel has no “democratic identity”, it’s a deeply unpleasant ethnocracy.

Israel is an important strategic partner for the UK and we collaborate on issues of defence and security. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering. The UK unequivocally condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and locations within Israel.

We strongly condemn these acts of terrorism by Hamas and other terrorist groups, who must permanently end their incitement and rocket fire against Israel. We are also concerned by reports that Hamas is again using civilian infrastructure and populations as cover for its military operations.

• As long as we are a strategic partner of Israel we will never be trusted in the Middle East. We have no enemies in the region, not even Iran, so why provoke hostility? And given Israel’s track record how can anyone feel comfortable swopping defence and security secrets? You persistently accuse Hamas of incitement when it is the Palestinians who are under illegal military occupation and blockade.

You complain about Hamas firing garden-shed rockets but never condemn the Israelis for bombarding tightly-lacked Gaza with devastating state of the art ordnance deliberately mis-aimed to cause horrendous slaughter of civilians. Also check the definition of terrorist and consider whether it fits the Israeli regime better than Hamas.

We are clear that all countries, including Israel, have a legitimate right to self-defence, and the right to defend their citizens from attack. In doing so, it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with International Humanitarian Law, and are calibrated to avoid civilian casualties.

• Israel has no comprehension of “proportionate” and no right of self defence against the people it illegally occupies, murders and dispossesses. It has never complied with international Humanitarian Law, whereas the Palestinians have every right under international law to mount an armed resistance, makeshift though it is, against the occupier.

The UK is strongly opposed to the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, just as we oppose any calls for boycotts which divide people and reduce understanding.

 It is nonsense to claim the UK as a whole is opposed to sanctions against Israel. Only self-serving supporters of the apartheid regime oppose sanctions.

The UK position on evictions, demolitions, and settlements is longstanding and clear. We oppose these activities. We urge the Government of Israel to cease its policies related to settlement expansion immediately, and instead work towards a two state solution. Settlements are illegal under international law, and present an obstacle to peace.

We want to see a contiguous West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as part of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders. Our position was reflected in our support for UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and we continue to urge Israel at the highest level to halt settlement expansion immediately.

• You may well oppose these things but that’s not enough. Haven’t you noticed – the Israelis don’t give a damn? What HM Government wants to see doesn’t matter to them. Their expansion programme is unstoppable except by applying firm and effective consequences. UNSCR 2334 was adopted four and a half years ago. It says Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity”.

It demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Is Israel biting its nails thinking the sky is about to fall in on them? No, it laughs in the UN’s face. What has the British government and other members of the Security Council done in that time to concentrate Israel’s mind and ensure compliance?

We advise British businesses to bear in mind the British Government’s view on the illegality of settlements under international law when considering their investments and activities in the region. Ultimately, it will be the decision of an individual or company whether to operate in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but the British Government would neither encourage nor offer support to such activity.

• Nevertheless you continually reward Israel for its crimes against humanity with favoured trading deals and special collaboration agreements.

We have also made clear our concerns about the increasing rate of demolitions and evictions of Palestinians. The UK is focused on preventing demolitions and evictions from happening in the first place through our legal aid programme, which supports Palestinians facing demolition or home eviction.

• The demolitions and evictions have been going on for 73 years. You haven’t in the least been focused on preventing them. And using UK taxpayers’ money to sustain Israel’s criminal policy is utterly gross.

As a strong friend of Israel, and one which has stood up for Israel when it faces bias and unreasonable criticism, we are continuing to urge Israel to not take steps such as these, which move us away from our shared goals of peace and security.

• Why are you “a strong friend” of this apartheid entity in the first place? You shame us all. Israel’s idea of peace and security is far removed from anyone else’s. It’s shocking to hear that you (implying we) “share” their goals.

The occupation will not end and peace will not be achieved by symbolic measures, but by real movement towards renewed peace negotiations which create a viable Palestinian state, living in peace and security side-by-side with Israel.

We will continue to press Israel and the Palestinians strongly on the need to refrain from taking actions, which make peace more difficult. And will continue to encourage further confidence building steps towards meaningful bilateral peace negotiations between the parties.

 What, more lopsided ‘negotiations’ overseen by the most dishonest broker on the planet? Are you SERIOUS? The occupation will end and peace will be achieved only when justice is done and seen to be done. International law has spoken. Now deliver it, please, instead of endless shaming us with your dangerous delusions.

The entire British Government would do well to recall George Washington’s wise words: “The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave… a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.”

Yes, “slave” fits Israel’s stooges at Westminster admirably.

Stuart Littlewood
9 June 2021

AUTHOR DETAILS

Stuart Littlewood

After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. With a lifelong passion for photography he has produced two photo-documentary books, one of which can be read online at http://www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.

http://www.radiofreepalestine.org.ukstu@f8.eclipse.co.uk

Solidarity with Palestine: International al Quds Day, 2021

Boycott US Products: How To Confront America’s Brutal Practices Economic Wise

Boycott US Products: How To Confront America’s Brutal Practices Economic Wise

Al-Ahed Exclusive

As part of shedding more light on one form of resistance that is able to cause pain to the nation’s enemy, Al-Ahed News managed to have an exclusive interview with the spokeswoman of Boycott US Products [BUP] organization, who underscored that the journey of boycotting begins with a person choosing not to make business with the US.

How did BUP start?

Boycotting has shown its effectivity in a number of causes throughout history; it’s a means for pressure on establishments, companies and governments, the spokeswoman explained. “As we witness the horrors of US military and economic hegemony against many countries around the world, we find ourselves between two choices: either to wallow in silence or assume the duty to take a stance and defend our homelands.”

The United States has enforced economic blockades and sanctions on countries, waged wars and carried out assassinations around the globe. An economic boycott is the way we chose to confront these brutal practices, Ms. Issa emphasized.

BUP participants, countries

We are a group of young people, intellectuals, media professionals and researchers. We share a common goal which is to defend our homelands and confront all unfair practices against us and the rights of our peoples, Ms. Issa said.

“We have several branches in a number of countries such as Sweden, Russia, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria, Azerbaijan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” she added.

BUP goal

The US economy to America is what the jugular vein is to the human being: boycotting US products could affect the economy one way or another, which will on the first level enforce the US government to re-examine its practice against nations, the organization’s representative said.

“On another level, it will pressure the American people —as they do not care about their state’s foreign politics; their only concern is the state’s domestic politics and economy— for if we are able to affect the economy through boycott, this will raise awareness among the American people over their government’s aggressive foreign politics which are deemed criminal for their murderous nature.”

Perhaps this will lead the American people to pressure their government to change these policies that are now affecting their economy. “We certainly do not aim to punish a people for their government’s actions but the people must know the consequences of their government’s policies over other nations. We believe in humanity and that people can change the political track of their governments for their brothers/sisters in humanity especially that the American government misleads its citizens through its biased media, keeping them ignorant from the atrocities they commit and the suffering of other people,” she indicated.

Financial support

The organization depends on donations from businessmen who believe in its cause. It accepts donations from people who share its thoughts and empathize with its project.

People’s response

Ms. Issa was clear to point out that reactions vary from one person to another. Some believe in the goals of the movement but view them as impossible to reach. They are still under the effect of the media that the US is a “powerful country that cannot be overpowered nor defeated,” she said, noting that others care about American interest more than their own country.

However, there are people who share our faith and enthusiasm, eagerly working to achieve the goals of the boycott through active participation, Ms. Issa said. 

“They reach out asking “What are American products?” “Give us a list with American products so that we start boycotting.” Such reactions push us to work harder as they increase our faith and fuel the project to continue. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and the journey of boycotting begins with a person choosing not to make business with the US,” she concluded.

US Labels Illegal Jewish Settlement Products as ‘Made in Israel’

December 24, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: File)

The US has started to label products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as “Made in Israel”. Washington claims that this is to mark goods in accordance with import laws and regulations.

In a statement published yesterday by US Customs and Border Protection, it called for the accuracy of the labeling on products from territories held by Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Gaza to be “consistent with the United States’ foreign policy approach.”

Under the new ruling, all products made and packaged in the areas controlled by Israel and its military – including those in the West Bank formerly held by the PA – are to be marked as Israeli-made. The areas mentioned include the West Bank’s Area C, where around 150,000 Palestinians live under Israel’s full control.

The order came into effect yesterday and follows last month’s landmark visit to a settlement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Prior to Pompeo’s visit, he announced that the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against illegal settlement goods will be branded as “anti-Semitic” by the US.

The labeling of goods from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has long been a debated issue. Prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the US required all products from those areas to mention Israel. Since 1995, however, products from the West Bank and Gaza have been required to be labeled from those territories; two years later, they were allowed to have the joint label of “West Bank/Gaza”.

In 2016, under President Barack Obama, it was ruled that wrongly labeling settlement goods as “Made in Israel” could lead to fines being levied.

Even though the new ruling has now come into effect, importers have been given a 90-day grace period to implement the changes to their labels.

This new development ensures that consumers who want to buy products from the Palestinian territories and not Israel or its settlements can do so more easily. Nevertheless, such labeling gives US legitimacy to the settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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