Author Archives: jews4big

B.D.S SHATTERS ISRAEL’S “ILLUSION OF INVULNERABILITY”

This article from The Middle East Magazine, by Federica Marsi, argues strongly that:
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is shattering Israel’s illusion of invulnerability. The “delegitimisation” movement, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defines it, is building consensus among international actors and Israeli Jews themselves, in defiance of the Anti-boycott law.
Despite a still limited impact on Israel’s economy, the BDS movement has been shining a spotlight on the violations of Palestinian human rights and triggered a
change in Israel’s public image that is stirring anxiety in the political establishment. 
Omar Barghouti  (Photo: Tony Greenstein)

Omar Barghouti (Photo: Tony Greenstein)

The piece, which can be seen in full here,  concludes with powerful arguments from Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian BDS National Committee and Ronnie Barkan of the Israeli group Boycott from Within.

The BDS “is not a one-size-fits-all recipe”, says Barghouti. Every international partner is free to decide whether to boycott Israeli companies as a whole or only those involved in the oPt.  But “no one called for boycotting only Sudanese factories in Darfur due to Sudan’s massive violation of international law there. Only when it comes to Israel do we hear this strange distinction and we are asked to fight the crime, not the criminal who committed it”.
Barghouti strongly believes the EU has to take four immediate measures to restore its credibility among the disillusioned Arab and Palestinian civil society: Firstly, impose a military embargo on Israel and the entire region as a “conflict zone”; secondly, ban imports from all Israeli companies that profit from the occupation; thirdly, stop funding Israeli universities and research institutes involved in violations of international law; and instruct European companies to stop their involvement in Israeli violations of international law, including occupied Jerusalem.
The Israeli BDS wing Boycott from Within, advocates a global boycott of Israel. The ultimate aim is equality, which according to Ronnie Barkan is “regarded by Zionists as the destruction of the state of Israel. What the BDS movement calls for is the dismantlement of its system of segregation, just as South Africa was not destroyed by ending apartheid”.

JEWISH CHRONICLE LASHES OUT AS UK ARCHITECTS CALL ISRAEL’S SETTLEMENT BUILDERS TO ACCOUNT

2013-05-16-p8hilltopsettlement

On March 19 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) became the first UK professional association to take action against Israel for its breaches of international law.

Its council passed a motion, proposed by former RIBA president Angela Brady and backed by Architects and Planners for Justice for Palestinians (APJP), calling on the International Union of Architects to suspend the Israeli association from membership, “until it acts to resist [these] illegal projects, and observes international law”.
Full details can be found in a media statement from the APJP.
It took barely 24 hours for the Zionist apologists at the Jewish Chronicle to wheel out the tired and discredited allegation of anti-semitism. A hysterical leader on March 20 read:
Be in no doubt. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is now officially antisemitic. On Wednesday, it voted to support a ban on Jews from joining the International Union of Architects. It didn’t put it quite like that, of course. The wording of its motion referred to ‘Israelis’ rather than ‘Jews’. But in singling out the Jewish state for opprobrium, over and above every other nation on earth, and in seeking to ban Jews — sorry, Israelis — from membership, the driving force behind both the BDS campaign and its RIBA conspirators is clear. Jew hatred lives on in RIBA.
The Jewish chair of APJP, J-BIG supporter Abe Hayeem, is waiting to see if the JC will publish his letter in reply.
Abe Hayeem chairs Architects and Planners for Justice for Palestinians

Abe Hayeem chairs Architects and Planners for Justice for Palestinians

Follow this link to read his presentation to the RIBA council, explaining in detail the complicity of Israel’s architects in pushing forward the illegal colonisation and settlement of Palestinian land.

Israeli architecture association faces ban from international forum - Guardian

 

 

 

 

IRISH APPEAL TO CHRIS DE BURGH – GIVE HOPE TO THE CHILDREN OF WAR

chris de burghJ-BIG actively supports a wide range of cultural boycott campaigns, one of the most important of which works to persuade well-known artists not to endorse Israeli Apartheid by performing or allowing their work to be exhibited or performed in Israel.
Plans by singer Chris de Burgh to perform in Tel Aviv on March 29 has provoked an eloquent letter from Dr Raymond Deane of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
We reproduce Raymond’s letter below.
______________________________________________________________
Dear Chris de Burgh,
 
In your song Lebanese Nights you wrote:
                                All over the world, the gift from before,
                                Nothing is left for the children of war…
 
Since the year 2000 more than 1400 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli soldiers and illegal colonial settlers. Defence for Children International estimates that “since the year 2000, around 8,000 Palestinian children have been detained and prosecuted in the system…. The majority of these children are charged with throwing stones.”
In a report last month (February 2014), Amnesty International declared that Israeli forces have displayed a callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank over the past three years with near total impunity…”
These children are indeed “children of war”, but is there really nothing left for them except “the gift from before”? Do we not owe them our solidarity, particularly in view of the failure of the international community to end Israel’s “near total impunity”?
Almost a decade ago, in July 2004, dozens of Palestinian federations, associations, and civil society organizations “call[ed] upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid…”, and in particular to “refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions” (note that this call is not directed against individuals).
 
One year later a more comprehensive call came from some 170 Palestinian civil society organisations for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli state “until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.” A year later again, over 100 Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers called for a cultural boycott in similar terms. These calls from the oppressed constitute a strong mandate.
Recently such famous musicians as Roger Waters (who declared his “solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine, but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s racist and colonial policies, by joining a campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel…”) and Elvis Costello (“there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent… “) have refused to perform in Israel.
 
Not least, at time of writing some 260 Irish creative and performing artists have signed a pledge undertaking not to accept invitations to Israel. Musicians constitute the largest single group of signatories, including Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Peadar Ó Riada, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Damien Dempsey, Sharon Shannon, and many others from the fields of popular, traditional, jazz and classical music.
 
In view of these manifestations of solidarity and concern, your decision to perform in Tel Aviv on 29th March has been noted with deep disappointment.
 
It is because our governments refuse to take action to curb Israel’s crimes, even when enjoined to do so by the International Criminal Court or indeed by their own statutes (e.g. article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement), that civil society is obliged to call for such harsh tactics as cultural, sporting and academic boycotts. Such tactics are aimed at bringing to an end the circumstances that called them into being – in this case, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, its siege of Gaza (declared illegal by an independent UN panel), and its policies of apartheid and colonisation.
 
You may argue that music is “above politics”, but this hardly stands up in view of a statement by Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, now Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, that Israel “see[s] culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and… do[es] not differentiate between propaganda and culture.” (Ha’aretz, 21/09/05). This means that any artist(e) visiting Israel will be exploited by that state’s very active propagandists to normalise it and to whitewash its crimes. By cancelling your projected concert in Tel Aviv you will be joining the likes of Stevie WonderAnnie Lennox, Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and other conscientious musicians in refusing to be “propaganda tools” for the Israeli state.
But most importantly, by not crossing the picket line you will be showing the persecuted Palestinians that something is indeed left for the children of war – hope.
Yours sincerely –
Dr Raymond Deane
Cultural Liaison
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

YOUNG PALESTINIAN PLAYERS ATTACKED AS GLOBAL PETITION TELLS FIFA “SUSPEND ISRAEL”

 
Red card fifa Petition imageAs is so often the case, horrifying events overtake us as we are in the process of planning our campaigns. While Red Card Israeli Racism was setting up an international petition (see below) to support Palestinian calls for the Israeli FA to be suspended from FIFA, two young Palestinian players were badly injured by the Israeli military. At the same time play had to be suspended at the Faisal al-Husseini stadium because of tear gas fired by the same Israeli forces.
Johar Halabiyeh, 19, Player in Abu Dis Club. Shot by Israeli soldiers and assaulted by dogs on 31/1/2014

Johar Halabiyeh (left), 19, Player in Abu Dis Club. Shot by Israeli soldiers and assaulted by dogs on 31/1/2014

Pictures from xssportpal.blogspot
 
Johar.7
 
 
The Red Card campaign is developing a long-term strategy targeting Israel’s membership of international football bodies, at the Brazil FIFA World Cup, at next year’s UEFA competition (which has Israel playing Wales both at home and away), and beyond. The international petition is intended to serve as a rallying point for this long-term effort.
Please add your signature and pass this on by email, FB pages, Twitter etc.
 
INTERNATIONAL PETITION SAYS SUSPEND ISRAEL FROM FIFA
·       Campaigners back Palestinian pressure on FIFA
·       Two Palestinian footballers maimed by Israeli forces (Note 2)
 
Campaign group Red Card Israeli Racism has launched an international petition calling on world football’s governing body FIFA “to suspend membership of the Israeli FA until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law.”
The Red Card campaign drew support for its campaign against Israel hosting the 2012 UEFA under-21 championship from figures as diverse as filmmaker Ken Loach, Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu and footballing legend Eric Cantona.
Its new petition says Israeli state policies, implemented by its civil and military forces, deny Palestinians the right to play and compete, nationally and internationally.
 
“It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice….[to]  commercial and cultural actions worldwide … demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies,” says the petition text.
Most recent victims of Israeli policy are two young footballers shot by Israeli soldiers on their way home from training in the central West Bank on Jan 31. Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, have now been told ‘they are unlikely to play again’
Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril al-Rajoub cited the incident as evidence of Israel’s unsuitability for membership of FIFA. He has repeatedly threatened to call on the FIFA annual congress in Brazil in June to suspend the IFA.
 
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Note 1.  Petition
I call on FIFA to suspend membership of the Israeli FA until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law, thus enabling Palestinian footballers to play and compete nationally and internationally
Why?
Since 1967, Israel has maintained a brutal military occupation of Palestine, building illegal settlements and a separation wall on stolen land, despite condemnation by the UN and International Court of Justice. Within Israel, over fifty laws discriminate against its Palestinian citizens. When influential sports organizations say nothing in the face of an injustice of such magnitude they are complicit.
Commercial and cultural actions worldwide are increasingly demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies.
It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice.
The Israeli occupation specifically impacts on Palestinian football by restricting movement of players within the West Bank, between the West Bank and Gaza, and to take part in international competitions. Israel limits imports of vital sporting equipment. Players have been harassed, detained, imprisoned and killed.*
There is blatant well documented racism within Israeli football.** Players of Palestinian origin suffer insults from the terraces: Beitar Jerusalem football club is arguably worse than any in Europe with chants of ‘Death to Arabs’ and arson attacks. Any efforts made by the Israeli FA to stop this abuse have been ineffective.
In 2013 footballers like Eric Cantona, Frederic Kanoute and 50 other international players challenged UEFA’s decision to hold the Men’s U-21 tournament in Israel. Eminent human rights activists questioned how an organisation that clearly promotes anti-racism can place a major competition in an openly racist country? Yet UEFA still plans to hold the U-19 Women’s final there in 2015 and may consider Israel as a venue for preliminary matches in Euro 2020.
FIFA has recognized some Israeli abuses and created a Task Force aimed at facilitating the movement of players and equipment. But its success depends on the goodwill of the Israeli Defence Force.
When FIFA formally suspended the membership of South Africa FA from 1964 until 1992, its action contributed to an end to apartheid.
Therefore, this petition asks FIFA to follow this precedent and suspend Israel as it did South Africa until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law. The Israeli government must at some point take notice.
 
Note 2. Link to report on injured footballers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

J-BIG – THE JEWS WHO BACK THE BOYCOTT – WRITE UP IN MORNING STAR

Today’s MORNING STAR (“The People’s Daily”) carried this feature about the foundation and work of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.

DEBORAH FINK and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi are co-founders of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-Big), a group which has scored major successes as progressive Jewish people respond to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The pair met through Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), founded in February 2002 in response to the second intifada.

Fink joined in July that year. Coming from a conservative, pro-Israel background, she found it reassuring to meet fellow Jews who were against Israel’s policy in Palestine.

She sees JfJfP as an important organisation.

“It shows the world that Israel does not represent all Jews, that it cannot count on all Jews for support,” she says.

“And to a certain extent it protects non-Jewish critics of Israeli policy from bogus charges of anti-semitism.”

Anti-semitism is often the accusation thrown at Israel’s critics, with the aim of intimidating them into silence.

Fink felt there needed to be a specifically Jewish voice supporting the campaign to boycott Israeli goods, so with Wimborne-Idrissi she founded J-Big in 2006.

They chose the tongue-in-cheek slogan “it’s kosher to boycott Israeli goods,” highlighting the fact that many Jews are involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, so it’s “kosher” to take part.

Wimborne-Idrissi comes from a left-wing Jewish household. Her father used to sell the Morning Star’s predecessor the Daily Worker, so solidarity with oppressed peoples is something she grew up with.

She discovered JfJfP in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003.

A speaker at a Stop the War demo was speaking, as a Jew, for Palestinian rights. Wimborne-Idrissi signed up there and then.

She felt that JfJfP, while doing great work in the Jewish community, did not go as far as she and others wanted in the boycott campaign. A further step was needed.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had set up a Boycott Israeli Goods campaign and was showing an interest in getting a specifically Jewish voice involved.

Wimborne-Idrissi and Fink pulled together some like-minded people and set up J-Big. A founding statement was published, a banner sporting the “kosher” slogan produced and J-Big set about mobilising support.

Wimborne-Idrissi says it wasn’t long before the expected deluge of venomous accusations flooded in.

They were denounced as “self-hating Jews” and “traitors to the Jewish state of Israel.”

“We had no illusions that the campaign would bring the Israeli economy crashing down,” she says.

“Boycotting avocados and peppers grown on illegally occupied Palestinian land and then sold as Israeli would not bring the country’s economy to its knees, but the immorality of how and where these goods are produced is an important message to get across.”

J-Big became more interested in boycotting Israel at an institutional level — by, for example, boycotting cultural events such as when Israeli musicians come to Britain under the Israeli flag to perform here while Palestinian artists are suffering under the occupation.

Here Fink’s musical training — she’s a bachelor of music and a trained soprano — came to the fore.

Working with others in the BDS movement Fink debuted by interrupting the Jerusalem Quartet at the Wigmore Hall in 2010, singing a parody of Jerusalem, Holy City.

J-Big was involved when the campaign tackled a more high-profile target, encouraging as many as possible to join in the protests when the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra played the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.

There were many disruptions to the orchestra’s performance, the first of which involved 13 activists in a choir led by Fink.

Sue Blackwell, a prominent member of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine who had written the words to the Wigmore parody, wrote a new version of Ode to Joy as Ode to Boycott, including the words “Israel end your occupation, Palestine must now be free, ethnic cleansing and apartheid should belong to history.”

Protesters, who came from as far afield as Edinburgh and Brighton, were strategically seated around the auditorium and their interventions carefully timed.

During a quiet musical passage protesters in vacant choral seats stood up with cloth banners which together spelled Free Palestine.

The protesters were eventually escorted out of the hall, but the protest made global news.

Fink explains the controversial action by pointing to the way the orchestra operated as a cultural ambassador, making Israel appear civilised.

“As a musician I find it hard to disrupt beautiful music,” she says. “But basic human rights are more important.

“It’s not just about influencing the audience at a prom, but about influencing world opinion. You can’t do that by handing out a few leaflets.”

Wimborne-Idrissi adds that the protests were planned to disrupt the beauty of the music as little as possible.

The Bruch violin concerto was part of the programme, for instance. So “free Palestine!” would be shouted when the conductor was raising his baton at the start of a piece, but not once the violin had started playing.

The disruptions were done to be in keeping with the performance, turning it into a weapon for the Palestinians.

The concert was not aborted. It was the BBC that cut the broadcast — which had never happened before in the history of the proms.

It was an even more successful protest than the previous action at Wigmore Hall.

I suggested that what this party of 30 or more people had done that night at the Albert Hall was not so much to disrupt Beethoven, who featured, but to be true to his spirit.

Fink and Wimborne-Idrissi agree: “Beethoven was a revolutionary.”

Wimborne-Idrissi stresses that the global boycott movement, started by the Palestinians themselves, does not target individual Israelis — and certainly not Jews as Jews.

It targets institutions and aims for equality for Palestinians living in Israel, freedom for Palestinians living in the occupied territories and justice for Palestinian refugees, including the right of return for all those forced to flee their homes since the Nakba (“catastrophe”) of 1948.

Together, these movements hope to win justice for Palestinians — something the UN has signally failed to achieve.

 

 

ISRAEL RESTS ON ZIONIST BRUTALITY, OPPOSING BDS IS FUTILE

Thanks are due to writer and BDS advocate Mike Marqusee  for a powerful response to the critics of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and to Ami Asher from the Israeli organisation Zochrot for exposing the “filthy work” of ethnic cleansing on which the State of Israel rests.

Follow the links to read these valuable pieces in full.

Marqusee publishes an edited version of a letter he sent to a relative in the US who’s been trying to figure out the BDS issue in the wake of the recent onslaught against the American Studies Association’s decision to support the academic boycott.

It’s important to remember that what BDS calls for is basically the withdrawal of the current support given to Israel by our governments and institutions. If you invest money in a company that is profiting from the settlement programme in the West Bank, you are investing in ethnic cleansing – and the first thing you should do when you learn that is simply to stop doing it. All the rest is special pleading.

Asher responds to Israeli journalist Ari Shavit who has written about the expulsion and massacre of Palestinians in Lydda, 1948 in the New Yorker, asserting that even ‘the critics of later years enjoyed the fruits of their deed.’ 

Shavit struggles to make sense of the “black box of Zionism,” as he calls Lydda. He starts by describing the neighboring Jewish youth village of Ben Shemen and also ends there, with a commanding view of the town. A Palmach militia fighter recently interviewed as part of Zochrot’s oral history project had a similar point of view to offer. Look at the town as you drive past it on your way back to Tel Aviv, he said, and imagine it bustling with a million Palestinians – then you will thank me.

Shavit is just as candid. He too feels enormous gratitude for the perpetrators of the Lydda massacre for doing the “filthy work” because even “the critics of later years,” who I can only assume include the likes of me, “enjoyed the fruits of their deed.” This zero-sum hypothesis – us or them – is the very essence of Zionism.

TRIBUTES TO VERONICA PLANTON, CAMPAIGNER FOR JUSTICE

veronica planton

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods pays tribute to Veronica Planton, a dedicated campaigner for justice, who died of cancer at Guys Hospital in London on November 19, 2013.

Veronica was a constant presence at demonstrations in London highlighting Israel’s injustices against Palestinians. She played an active role in many of the boycott actions covered in this blog and  initiated an inspirational campaign to send teddy bears to the children of Gaza.

She also made use of her background in theatre and the arts in productions bringing to life the Palestinian experience. One of these, Love Letters to Gaza, was staged at the Calder Bookshop in October 2011 and formed part of an evening of poetry and theatre  promoted by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

Veronica refused to allow ill-health to prevent her tireless work on behalf of her local community in the Waterloo district of London, the people of Palestine and the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

When it became too difficult for her to play an active role in street demonstrations on behalf of Palestinian prisoners or other causes, she continued to send the 700 supporters of her local Wandsworth and Lambeth PSC branch frequent emails containing carefully researched digests of news from and about Palestine. 

Tributes read to friends, relations and fellow activists who gathered for her funeral at the City Crematorium on December 3 testified to the range of communities in which Veronica had made her mark.

Messages came from companions who had worked with her at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre in the 1960s, from members of the Coin Street community where she lived, from  Palestine solidarity activists in London and in Palestine itself, and from the Moslem organisation Inminds which announced her death to the activist community.

Veronica Planton

Born 1939, died 19 November 2013

FROM INMINDS.COM

We are very saddened to announce that our dear sister Veronica Planton, a dedicated campaigner for the Palestinian cause, has passed away last week after becoming very ill in the spring.

Despite suffering from severe asthma and always being breathless she passionately stood up for Palestinian rights. She regularly attended protests outside the Israeli settler store Ahava untill it finally closed down, then she joined protests outside the Tower of London in support of the Samouni family of Gaza whose children amongst others were massacred by the Givati  Brigade of the Israeli army which is funded by the Steinmetz diamond company whose diamond was on display in the Tower of London. It was part of the Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds campaign.

The children were especially close to her heart and she ran a project to send teddy bears to the children of Gaza. After Israel’s brutal attack on Gaza, Veronica would carry a blooded doll at protests to symbolise the murdered children of Gaza. She also helped stage a theatrical performance for Gaza called “Love Letters to Gaza”.

Rest in peace, our dear sister who showed us that even a debilitating illness cannot stop a person who has decided to fight for justice.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un – “Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return”

FROM MOHAMMED SARHAN, RAMALLAH:
Dear  brothers and sisters _,
I have no words to express how deeply sorry I am to hear about your great loss . I’m in shock to hear this news. My prayers and thoughts are with you all during this horrible time. I love you all  and please give a big hug from us to each one who are attending the funeral . I would love to  be there tojust  to say the word.
Our thoughts with all of you in this time.  Veronica was the one said, ” Yes,  Palestinians deserve a better life, life of freedom ,justice and the  right to return to their villages and beloved ones .”
Its the time to say that we will follow up your steady search for justice and freedom..
.
Horia Falastine  (Free Palestine)Your Sincerely, Mohammad Sarhan, Ramallah

FURY AGAINST ISRAEL’S BEDOUIN DISPLACEMENT PLAN

November 30 was designated a Day of Rage for friends of Palestine worldwide to denounce the Prawer-Begin plan, which foresees the displacement of tens of thousands of Bedouin in order to make way for Jewish colonisation of the Naqab.
Photo: Activestills

Photo: Activestills

972 magazine covered the action in Palestine itself with dramatic pictures, Twitter was alive with reports from many world centres, endorsed by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, and in the UK, the Guardian newspaper published news of the outrage expressed by many prominent cultural figures. The paper’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood reported:

More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile artists, musicians and writers, have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing.

Full text below and here.

detailed briefing on the campaign from Jews for Justice for Palestinians explains Israel’s devastating plans for the destruction of the Naqab’s Bedouin communities and what can be done to stop it.

London activists staged a symbolic protest close to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington. Campaigner Rada Daniell recorded the occasion in words and pictures:

A wooden house, symbolising an illegal settlement, was brought in and positioned in the street.

london day of rage 2

 Two activists locked themselves onto the house to prevent police moving it completely off the street. There was lots of chanting and finger pointing towards the Israeli Embassy as the ‘home’ of war criminals, racists and ethnic cleansers. As it was announced that in the West Bank a similar protest was met with the live fire by the Israeli occupying army, the protesters demanded the end of brutality and the closure of Israeli London Embassy.

london day of rage 1

Britons protest over Israel plan to remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins

More than 50 public figures including Antony Gormley and Brian Eno put names to letter opposing expulsion from historic land

More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile artists, musicians and writers, have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing.

The letter, published in the Guardian, is part of a day of protest on Saturday in Israel, Palestine and two dozen other countries over an Israeli parliamentary bill that is expected to get final approval by the end of this year.

The eviction and destruction of about 35 “unrecognised” villages in the Negev desert will, the letter says, “mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation”.

The signatories – who include the artist Antony Gormley, the actor Julie Christie, the film director Mike Leigh and the musician Brian Eno – are demanding that the British government holds Israel to account over its human rights record and obligations under international law.

According to Israel, the aims of the Prawer Plan – named after the head of a government commission, Ehud Prawer – are economic development of the Negev desert and the regulation of Palestinian Bedouins living in villages not recognised by the state.

The population of these villages will be removed to designated towns, while plans for new Jewish settlements in the area are enacted.

But Adalah, a human rights and legal centre for Arabs in Israel, says: “The real purpose of the legislation [is] the complete and final severance of the Bedouin’s historical ties to their land.”

The “unrecognised” villages in the Negev, whose populations range from a few hundred to 2,000, lack basic services such as running water, electricity, landline telephones, roads, high schools and health clinics. Some consist of a few shacks and animal pens made from corrugated iron; others include concrete houses and mosques built without necessary but unobtainable permission.

The Bedouin comprise about 30% of the Negev’s population but their villages take up only 2.5% of the land. Before the state of Israel was created in 1948 they roamed widely across the desert; now, two-thirds of the region has been designated as military training grounds and firing ranges.

Under the Prawer Plan, between 40,000 and 70,000 of the remaining Bedouin – who became Israeli citizens in the 1950s – will be moved into seven over-crowded, impoverished, crime-ridden state-planned towns. The Israeli government says it is an opportunity for Bedouins to live in modern homes, take regular jobs and send their children to mainstream schools. They will be offered compensation to move, it adds.

Miranda Pennell, a film-maker and one of the letter’s signatories, said: “Citizenship counts for nothing in Israel if you happen to be an Arab. Tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin are being forcibly displaced from their homes and lands. At the same time, there are Israeli government advertisements on the web that promise you funding as a British immigrant to come and live in ‘vibrant communities’ in the Negev – if you are Jewish. This is ethnic cleansing.”

The actor David Calder said: “The Israeli state not only practices apartheid against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, but it seems they have no hesitation in practicing apartheid on their own citizens – in this instance, the Bedouins. When is the west going to find these actions intolerable?”

CHANUKAH MESSAGE FROM JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE

Our friends in the US organisation Jewish Voice for Peace have produced a short video for Chanukah celebrating, as they put it “Gratitude for your courage to speak the truth.  Gratitude for your commitment to creating a world in which all people are valued. And gratitude that we are doing this difficult and life-affirming work together.”

JVP Chanukah YouTube clip

 Click here to view.  You may need to speed through an annoying advertisement first.

JVP’s work in support of Palestine is often remarkable. See this earlier video which uses animation to explain the origins of the ongoing injustices.

 

Methodist consultation on BDS: J-BIG response

When the UK’s Methodist Council endorsed BDS, it met Zionist condemnation and threats regarding interfaith relations.  This response led the Council to initiate a public consultation on the issues.   On4 November J-BIG submitted the statement below.

===============================================

What Methodist relations with the Jewish community?
Submission from Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

Les Levidow and Diana Neslen

There is some concern within the Methodist community that support for BDS will harm community relations and dialogue-based initiatives with the leadership of organised Jewry.  At first glance these threats do not seem to be idle.  Past decisions by the Methodist conference have induced a flurry of activity by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.  The Board hascondemned these actions and threatened a breakdown of relationships with the Methodist Church. Speaking for ‘the Jewish community’, in 2010 the Board expressed their ‘hurt and anger’ at the Methodist Church adopting the Justice for Palestine and Israel report.[1]

The Board stated that the decision ‘shattered the good relations’ between the Jewish Community and the Methodist Church.  This strong statement seemed to presage a divorce between the two organised communities, but this was not to be.   A communal Seder seemed to repair rifts [2].Soon after this the Board of Deputies was engaging in dialogue with the Inter-faith group on issues of concern to the Jewish community and the Methodists, like challenging anti Semitism[3].  Clearly it was one thing to engage in bluster, but another to make divorce a reality.

The same behaviour is manifest with respect to the Coop, which took the decision to boycott agricultural products from occupied Palestinian territory.  Since Israeli agricultural companies source agricultural products from the occupied territories, this means that all Israeli agricultural companies are subject toboycott. The reaction from the organised Jewish community was immediate and highly critical.  Efforts were made to overturn the Coop’s action.  Many Israel supporters joined the Cooperative movement for the express purpose of overturning the decision, but they had no arguments worthy of considerationin open debateand were unable to achieve their objectives. Consequently the Leeds Lobby Network, an organisation that gives unqualified support to Israeli policies, is now telling the Jewish Telegraphthat it is engaging in a dialogue with the Cooperative movement.  So the Board’s earlier threats were not fulfilled.

What kind of dialogue is sought by the Board? As the mouthpiece for Israel, it is committed to ‘an unwavering relationship with the state of Israel’,[4]so the parameters of dialogue are very limited.

Discussion of this issue is all the more urgent in the light of recent developments following the statement by Jonathan Arkush of the Board of Deputies[5]. In October the Jewish Chronicle reported that after talks with the Board of Deputies, the Methodists are considering abandoning the boycott.[6]   According to the report both sides ‘agreed to explore approaches, distinct from the BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] consultation on which the Methodist Church is presently engaged, including investing in peace, dialogue and reconciliation projects’.

At first sight this would seem to preclude the outcome of the consultation exercise.  Therefore the Methodist Church should consider carefully the character of the dialogue on offer.  Those who give unqualified support to Israel’s policies find that they cannot defend them to those who believe in universal human rights. Rather than acknowledge Israel’s transgressions, the Board resorts to subterfuge and propose something else like ‘dialogue, peace and reconciliation projects’.

Why? Precisely because nothing changes as a result.While people talk to each other, Israel grabs more territorywithout any penalty, as it is doing through the current ‘peace process’.  Dialogue is used to impose Israel’s distorted perspectives, rather than consider opposing viewpoints and change behaviour accordingly.  The Council of Christians and Jews illustrates how an organisation promotes Israel as a victim while paying lip service to Palestinian rights.[7]

Dialogue may be worthwhile if there is any chance that it will be used to encourage insight and change, towards respecting Palestinian rights.  Instead it is used to bully others into acquiescence with the powerful – the Board’s main aim for dialogue.  At this stage, the Israelis seek to reconcile their self-portrayal as the victim with the reality that they are oppressors.  Meanwhile the Palestinians need liberation rather than ‘reconciliation’.  A free people can enter into dialogue and indeed reconciliation, but the first objective must be freedom and equality. Anything less undermines the possibility of an equitable dialogue.

Israel is still the powerful player pulling the strings.  Let us be quite frank:  Israel wants more territory and in that quest is happy enough to allow her army to maintain ‘peace’ and to contract out the policing of Palestinians to the Palestinian Authority.  Israel lives under a peace that works for her.  Treated as lesser beings, the Palestinians live under oppression and dispossession, the very opposite of peace.

BDS is a non-violent means of trying to bring about change for Palestinian rights.  It raises awareness, engages the activists and slowly and inexorably changes the nature of the conversation from one of dominion to one of rights.   In fact the World Council of Churches supported BDS with respect to apartheid South Africa. The same must be true for the issue of Palestine.  Weneed to enhance the voice of those under the yoke of occupation.

The question then arises as to whether a BDS stance is the best available option.  The issue is whether Israel has any incentive to change its behaviour.  Unfortunately the evidence shows that without sanctions Israel continues to take advantage of its dominant position. It is the reaction of Israel and its supporters to BDS that tells us how profoundly this affects them.  Two members of the Israeli embassy in London are employed to challenge BDS.  This is how seriously the state takes this matter.  There are no members of the embassy employed to advance ‘peace, dialogue and reconciliation’.

There are those who say, not necessarily with tongue in cheek, that the time has come for dialogue, but not between organised British Jewry and those who support BDS.  Instead the time is ripe for dialogue between organised British Jewry and their contacts in the Israeli political establishment.  The purpose of this dialogue should be to advise Israel that the country need to change course before it is too late. It is time for the organised Jewish community to rescue Jewish values from the militaristic, nationalist ideology undermining them.  This viewpoint is being increasingly expressed by many Jews – not represented by the Board of Deputies.

In sum: The Zionist establishment (claiming to represent ‘the Jewish community’) seeks types of interfaith dialogue which reinforce Israel’s occupation of Palestine and lead other faiths to collude. If such dialogue is jeopardized by Methodists’  support for BDS, then this result would be no loss for the Methodist community.  To support Palestinian rights, the Methodist Church should support BDS and seek forms of dialogue which challenges the Occupation.

Notes