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.
Category Archives: israel
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.
“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.
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.
Saturday September 28 marked a national day of action to highlight the scandal of high street stores marketing Sodastream – fizzy drink-making products for the home produced by an Israeli company operating out of an illegal settlement on Palestinian land. There were protests in many cities around the UK.
J-BIG made a point of supporting the campaigners in Brighton and Hove who have steadfastedly maintained weekly protests since the Ecostream store opened just over a year ago. They have faced vicious attacks from Zionists, supported by the Brighton Argus newspaper in attacking them as anti-semites. One of those they have vilified is Jewish PSC member Terry Yason who addressed the protest on Saturday to put the record straight.
Here’s what he said.
Over 2000 years ago Hillel, the most famous of all Jewish Rabbis, said when asked What is Judaism? – “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.”
Since Hillel Jews have consistently supported the underdog – at The Battle of Cable Street against the Fascists in Brick Lane, London in 1936 , in the International Brigades in Spain fighting Franco for the democratically elected Republican Government, in the Civil Rights Movement riding and dying with the Freedom Riders in Mississippi in the 60s and fighting in the ANC against Apartheid South Africa. We have an honourable history.
But today the Government of the “Jewish State” of Israel defy Hillel in their inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. For the first time in Jewish history, to their shame, they have created their own Underdog.
SodaStream, the parent of the Brighton shop Eco Stream, manufacture their products in a factory situated in the illegal settlement of MISHOR ADUMIN. In the Sodastream corporate video their CEO… claims they are one big happy family. Here is what one Palestinian worker says about working for Sodastream.
“I feel humiliated and I am also disgraced as a Palestinian, as the claims in the corporate video are all lies. We Palestinian workers in this factory always feel like we are enslaved . . . “
Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a universal movement, made up of ordinary people of all colours, religions , politics, nationalities and back grounds. Together we oppose the savage treatment meted out to the Palestinians by the Israeli government.
As a cornerstone of their propaganda , the Israeli Government continually label those who oppose her as anti Semitic.
Today I am here as a Jew, with my Jewish and non Jewish comrades, to destroy once and for all that insidious claim , and to proclaim that Anti Zionism is a call not for the destruction of the State of Israel but for its emancipation . When we opposed Apartheid in South Africa the result was the Rainbow Nation.
Like South Africa, Israel can become the democracy it so mistakenly calls itself, if it also abandons Apartheid.
To make even more of a nonsense of their lies; today we are joined by members of the two national Jewish organisations, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods .
We also have support from two Jewish artists who have sent these emails.
From actress Miriam Margolyes:
‘ A great wrong is being done in Israel & decent Palestinian people are having their lives destroyed. Brighton should emphatically NOT patronise the ECO shop. It is a fraud & a disgrace. ‘
From comedian and author Alexei Sayle:
‘I wish all the best to the demonstrators, Sodastream drinks taste like creosote anyway and the fact that they’re produced in an illegal settlement makes them doubly repulsive’
Israel was created in my name, exclusively for Jews by Jews, and as a Jew I feel a special responsibility to protest at the racist actions of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians – their colonial land grab , the relentless building of settlements on Palestinian land, their diversion of priceless water to the settlements, the constant confiscation of Palestinian land , the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails and to the shooting by the IDF of Palestinian children. In their their relentless and murderous pursuit of a land devoid of Palestinians they destroy the dream of Hillel.
Today I ask the Jews of the Diaspora to remember your history in supporting the underdog, and support us in withdrawing your support for Israeli Government policies towards the Palestinians.
To all the people of Brighton and Hove I ask you to boycott the EcoStream shop , refuse to buy SodaStream products and send them packing out of our beautiful city .
See also Tony Greenstein’s blog for a detailed report and more pictures.
J-BIG is supporting the call from Brighton & Hove PSC to mark a year of protests to expose the Israeli-owned Ecostream shop. It poses as an eco-friendly enterprise but markets Sodastream products manufactured in Male Adumim. This is one among many illegal settlements which pollute Palestinian land and deprive Palestinians of access to water. See full details of the nationwide Day of Action on Saturday here.
We will be taking the J-BIG banner to Brighton for a special demonstration starting at The Clocktower on Saturday at 12 noon. Please join us if you can.
The regular demonstrations have become quite dramatic at times because of particularly nasty Zionist counter-protests. Our Jewish friend Terry Yason, who will be reading out messages of support on the 28th, has been forced to take legal action against a Christian Zionist who attacked him, calling him a Kapo and a fake Jew! The Brighton Argus newspaper has been backing a Zionist campaign to brand the pro-Palestinian activists as antisemites.
We are particularly grateful to Miriam Margolyes and Alexei Sayle for providing the following statements of support.
‘A great wrong is being done in Israel & decent Palestinian people are having their lives destroyed. Brighton should emphatically NOT patronise the ECO shop. It is a fraud & a disgrace.‘ — Miriam Margolyes
“I wish all the best to the demonstrators. Sodastream drinks taste like creosote anyway and the fact that they’re produced in an illegal settlement makes them doubly repulsive.” - Alexei Sayle
J-BIG has signed the following petition supporting two Australian academics targeted by an Israeli Law Centre. We invite you to sign the petition, http://www.change.org/petitions/supporters-of-free-speech-and-human-rights-defend-free-speech-and-human-rights-and-support-the-bds
Prof. Stuart Rees, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Associate Prof. Jake Lynch, Director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), have been threatened with legal action by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli Law Centre, through agents acting on their behalf in Australia.
The claim is that Rees and Lynch are backing racist and discriminatory policies through their support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
These accusations are unfounded and intimidatory. They are intended to stifle free speech.
The BDS movement is a call for justice by all sectors of Palestinian civil society and supported around the world by unions, churches, civil society and human rights groups. It is a form of non violent popular resistance and international solidarity in protest against Israel’s persistent violation of Palestinian human rights and international law.
BDS policies make it clear that it is a human rights based movement and opposed to racism in all forms, including anti-Semitism.
Inspired by the effective movement against apartheid South Africa, BDS is directed against the illegal military occupation and settlements of the West Bank, the collective punishment of Gaza and Israeli discrimination of its own Palestinian citizens.
BDS opposes corporations, institutions and organizations which support Israel’s violation of human rights and international law including businesses such as Caterpillar, Motorola, G4S and Veolia.
In 2009, Assoc. Professor Lynch wrote to the Sydney Vice Chancellor asking him to revoke fellowships schemes between the University of Sydney and two Israeli universities: Technion University, Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In 2012, Professor Don Avnon of Hebrew University contacted Assoc. Prof. Lynch, seeking permission to use his name on an application under the Sir Zelman Cowan fellowship program. Prof Lynch refused, citing his and CPACS’ support for a boycott of institutional links with universities in Israel.
By supporting BDS and in resisting derision and threats for doing so, Rees and Lynch have rejected the attempt by a foreign agency – in this case the Israeli law firm Shurat HaDin – to stifle dissent in Australia. This letter invites you to do the same, and in the following terms:
I hereby support the global BDS movement.
I wish to be named a co defendant.
This article first appeared in the September 2013 issue of the BRICUP Newsletter, http://www.bricup.org.uk
Violinist Nigel Kennedy sent Israel’s apologists into a mighty spin during a Promenade concert in London on August 8 when he used the word “apartheid” to refer to the life circumstances of the young Palestinian musicians with whom he was sharing the stage.
Palestinian musicians from Gaza have issued an eloquent plea to Sir Tom Jones, who supported the South African anti-apartheid movement and recent anti-poverty initiatives, to cancel a planned performance in Tel Aviv in October.
“Sing for Freedom and Justice, Not Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing”, the letter says. See full text below and here.
The campaign details can be found on this facebook page
To Tom Jones from Gaza: Sing for Freedom and Justice, Not Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing
Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine
Dear Sir Tom
We are a group of Palestinian musicians, academics and students from the besieged Gaza Strip in Palestine. Despite Israel’s blockade of our land, air and sea borders we have continued to enjoy the soul, vibrancy and passion of your songs. Israel has deprived us of our homes, our olive groves, our families and communities, our freedom to travel and even our musical instruments. It is for this, from the crowded streets of Gaza’s refugee camps, we are calling on you to cancel your performance in Tel Aviv, the Sun City of the Middle East, this October. We ask you to honour the global call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli apartheid regime, in the same way you and other famous, principled artists refused to entertain apartheid South Africa.
After the United Nations approved cultural boycott was imposed on apartheid-ruled South Africa in 1980, you pledged not to perform there again. It is to your credit that you were persuaded “without much difficulty not to go back to South Africa” by the Welsh anti-apartheid movement. It is in this tradition of refusing to entertain apartheid and racist subjugation that we are asking you to heed the call to boycott Israel until they stop denying us Palestinians our most basic human rights.
What Israel is imposing on us has been described by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination as, “tantamount to Apartheid”. Israel has violated more United Nations Resolutions than any other country, and a recent report from the UN Human Rights Council recommended sanctions until Israel adheres to international law.
After visiting the West Bank, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that Palestinians are “being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa.” After their long experience in the fight against inequality and racism, is it not enough that Archbishop Tutu and other anti-apartheid heroes are calling for a boycott of the Israeli apartheid system?
If you perform in Israel, be aware that most of your audience will have served or are serving in the Israeli army. For those of us in Gaza, no matter who we are, we are denied the chance to see you perform by armed Israeli soldiers, Merkava Tanks, Drones, and F16s. We are punished because we belong to this land and hold its identity. Due to these restrictions the vast majority of us have never left the Gaza Strip. The area of Gaza is fifty times smaller than your homeland Wales. Yet our population is half the size, meaning that we are trapped in one of the most densely populated areas on earth.
In the horrific and destructive bombings over eight days last November, Israeli forces killed over 170 people (including 33 children) and injured over 1700. Their crime? Being born Palestinian.
Can you accept 1.7 million of us in Gaza, over half of whom are children, are being collectively punished in what major Human Rights Organizations call, “the world’s largest open air prison?”. Can you accept that Palestinians make up the largest community of refugees in the world, ethnically cleansed from their land but denied the legal right to return home? Can you accept that Israeli policy included banning the entry of musical instruments, such that so many splendid voices of our young could never be heard by the outside world?
In June this year in the agit8 concert you joined the call to end poverty, singing “lord help the poor and needy” and “go help the motherless children.” These are worthy aims, and we ask you to join our call to not entertain the country that systematically inflicts abject poverty on our people in Gaza and routinely makes orphans of our children. The 2005 call for the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel is endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society organizations, and has been heeded by a large number of artists and singers around the world such as Roger Waters, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Vanessa Paradis, The Pixies, Faithless and Carlos Santana.
What we are asking for is based on international law, endless United Nations resolutions and an expectation to live with the same basic freedoms as anyone else in the world. We demand an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and full equality granted for Palestinian citizens living inside Israel. This is not utopia; it is a call for equality that has been denied to us since Israel was founded on the ruins of Palestinian refugees.
When asked, you drew a line on apartheid South Africa. We ask you now to maintain the pressure already set by an increasing number of musicians refusing to perform in Israel until Palestinians get the same human rights and dignity as anybody else would expect. From the Gaza Ghetto, we ask you to heed the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions and to cancel your concert this October 26th in Tel Aviv, the Sun City of the Middle East.
Jafra of Gaza Band
Mohammed J Akkila (Singer)
Ismail Harazine (Flute Player)
Rami Abu Shabaan (Musician)
Ahmed Irshi (Singer)
Bashor Bseiso (Musician)
Iyad Abu Lilah (Drummer)
Mohammed Said el-Susi (Rapper)
Osama Said El Susi
Iyad Zumlut (Musician)
The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTAP)
One Democratic State Group
Violinist Nigel Kennedy, whose remark about the “apartheid” conditions faced by Palestinians was censored from a BBC Prom concert broadcast, has vigorously defended his comment, adding more fuel to the row about the BBC’s decision. See the Jewish Chronicle’s coverage here and here.
In an open letter to young musicians of the Palestine Strings with whom he shared the stage to spectacular effect on August 8, Kennedy, who is billed to play at the Last Night of the Proms on September 7, wrote:
Your performance at the Royal Albert Hall was something to be proud of and demonstrated the benefits of people being treated equally as opposed to being decimated and robbed by an apartheid system.
As you have seen, there is huge support for stopping the abuse of your human rights. My short comment [about apartheid] was purely observational and humanist. It surely wouldn’t have been censored if it had been referring to the benefits of the demise of the apartheid in South Africa when playing with an African ensemble. Many thanks however to [everyone] for giving a world platform to the important discussion concerning Zionist apartheid.
I hope life is treating you ok. We all miss you over here. I’m sorry to hear that the “normal” treatment of Palestinian people by the Israeli authorities led to you being detained for twelve hours. I am looking forward to playing with you again soon and to the days when we can play on a level playing field in Palestine and throughout the world.
No further information is available at the time of writing about the detention of the young musicians Kennedy refers to.
The BBC has insisted that Kennedy’s “apartheid” remark was cut for purely editorial reasons. But an article in the Jewish Chronicle before the TV broadcast on August 23 referred approvingly to lobbying efforts by Zionists, among them Baroness Deech, a well-known pro-Israel advocate and former BBC governor.
The decision to censor has provoked serious online discussion in musical and activist circles, with writers’ organisation PEN and Index on Censorship weighing in in Kennedy’s defence. The Daily Telegraph published a letter signed by 32 Jews opposed to the BBC’s decision, among them actress Miriam Margolyes and writer/comedian Alexei Sayle.
An online petition - Don’t Censor the Palestine Prom – has gathered more than 1,100 signatures and remains open.