Category Archives: israel

Jewish activists back call to Boycott Sodastream

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.

Ecostream 28.9.13 (17)

The Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods banner was prominent on the demonstration in Brighton where Sodastream is promoted by the Israeli-owned Ecostream shop.

The green and gold Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods banner was prominent on the demonstration in Brighton where Sodastream is promoted by the Israeli-owned Ecostream shop.

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.

 

28 Sept: National Day of Action on SodaStream

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

Support for Australian academics

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.

http://www.change.org/petitions/supporters-of-free-speech-and-human-rights-defend-free-speech-and-human-rights-and-support-the-bds

Sound and fury at the Proms over “apartheid” remark

This article first appeared in the September 2013 issue of the BRICUP Newsletter, http://www.bricup.org.uk
Proms collaboration between Kennedy and the young musicians from Palestine Strings.  Credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Proms collaboration between Kennedy and the young musicians from Palestine Strings.
Credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

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.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Kennedy, addressing an overwhelmingly supportive audience for his innovative performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Royal Albert Hall, “ it’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from experiencing this night of music tonight, that given equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”
Kennedy, an enfant terrible of the classical music world , had not played at the Proms for years but took advantage of a radical mix of programmes this time to revisit the Four Seasons with a number of jazz musicians, his own largely Polish Orchestra of Life and 17 players from the Palestine Strings wearing trademark keffiyehs. Aged between 12 and 23, these protégées of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music demonstrated considerable artistry in one of the world’s greatest performance spaces. No wonder the Zionist reaction to their mentor’s solidarity comment was so swift and strong.
Within days the Jewish Chronicle announced with satisfaction  that the BBC intended deleting Kennedy’s remark from its edited TV broadcast of the concert. Baroness Ruth Deech, a prominent Zionist and former BBC governor, had pronounced his words “offensive and untrue” and unfit to be heard during a Prom concert. The BBC, saying they did not“fall within the editorial remit of the proms as a classical music festival,” duly obliged. The critically-acclaimed concert went out on BBC4 on August 23 without the offending comments.  
In the interim BRICUP chairman Jonathan Rosenhead had joined supporters of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, among them actress Miriam Margolyes and writer/comedian Alexei Sayle, in signing a letter contesting the BBC censorship decision. It was published on August 22 in the Daily Telegraph (scroll down through the other letters to find it here) along with a fair-minded article by the paper’s Religious Affairs editor John Bingham.
The Jewish Chronicle named BRICUP and Rosenhead in its coverage.
The issue was taken up by wider activist circles with writers’ organisation PEN and Index on Censorship weighing in in Kennedy’s defence. Rock legend Roger Waters of Pink Floyd was moved to issue a long-awaited statement calling on fellow musicians to back the boycott.
petition calling on the BBC to revoke its censorship decision  quickly garnered more than 1,200 signatures.
Music commentator Norman Lebrecht, himself deeply pro-Israel, picked up the story, calling into question the provenance of a statement in which Kennedy described his comments as “purely descriptive and not political whatsoever” anddenounced the BBC’s “imperial lack of impartiality”. The flighty genius does not own a computer or use any new-fangled digital media so the statement was issued via a musician friend’s Facebook page. As a matter of interest, Lebrecht later posted YouTube footage of the concert, generating serious and largely favourable discussion on his blog.
Matters were complicated by Kennedy’s own manager Terri Robson – presumably with an eye to her charge’s potentially lucrative future bookings – publicly suggesting that the BBC was within its rights to censor him.
Thanks to links with pro-Palestinian classical musicians who are in contact with Kennedy – he does at least own a mobile phone – we were primed and ready when he once again re-iterated his pro-Palestinian stance in an open letter to the Palestine Strings.
He observed that his comment would surely not “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”.
 
Kennedy’s letter suggested that the Palestine Strings had been detained for 12 hours on their return to Palestine. This turned out to be a misunderstanding. The players were not detained but Edward Said National Conservatory of Music’s Orchestras Manager, Tim Pottier, was held for 12 hours at the Allenby Bridge. An official at the conservatory explained in a private email, “Tim is now sadly used to long interrogations and waiting at the Bridge, although the return from the Prom established a record. The occupying authorities who control all entries to Palestine know him far too well and, I suspect, do not like what he does.”
This incident, naturally enough, was not deemed newsworthy by mainstream media. Indeed, although the Telegraph’s Bingham refers to “a bitter row over alleged censorship”, others showed zero interest in the BBC censorship story.
One late entry into the fray was pundit Dominic Lawson who chose to use his valedictory column in the Independent on September 2 to slag off Kennedy and Waters as part of a sinister army of antisemites holding Israel responsible for all the evils of the world.
His attack highlights the care supporters of BDS need to take in the terminology they use. Waters has defended himself expertly when challenged, but drawing attention to Baroness Deech’s Jewish-sounding maiden name (“nee Fraenkel”) rather than referencing her vociferous Zionism, and shooting down a pig-shaped zeppelin emblazoned with a Star of David (albeit alongside other symbols of oppression), has handed ammunition to the enemies of BDS. A call from a small group of German Jews to boycott a forthcoming concert by Waters has won mainstream coverage denied to the injustice done to Kennedy.
It remains to be seen, at the time of writing, if any further controversy will follow Kennedy’s planned appearance at the Last Night of the Proms on September 7.
As he himself noted when news of the BBC’s censorship plan became known:
“ . . . the BBC has created . . . a huge platform for the discussion of its own impartiality, its respect (or lack of it) for free speech and for the discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.”

CALL FROM GAZA TO TOM JONES – SING FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE, NOT ISRAELI APARTHEID

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.

Let’s hope Sir Tom will join Afropop star Salif Keita in cancelling an Israel gig and violinist Nigel Kennedy in denouncing Israeli apartheid.

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

 28/08/13

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.[1] 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”.[2] 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.[3]

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.”[4] 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.[5] 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.”[6] 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,[7] 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.[8]

 

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)
Haidar Eid

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTAP)

One Democratic State Group

 

References

[1] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/wales-role-ending-apartheid-recorded-4803372

[2] http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5588/un-committee-2012-session-concludes-israeli-system

[3] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/un-inquiry-calls-for-sanctions-against-israel-over-west-bank-settlements.premium-1.500565

[4] http://www.rabbisletter.org/endorsement-by-south-african-archbishop-demond-tutu/

[5] http://www.dci-palestine.org/documents/dci-concludes-investigations-%E2%80%93-children-make-approximately-23-percent-fatalities-gaza

[6] http://www.one.org/us/2013/06/14/jessie-j-tom-jones-and-baaba-maal-amplify-the-call-to-end-extreme-poverty-at-agit8-in-london/

[7] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

[8] http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/roger-waters-calls-for-boycott-of-israel-20130320

 

NIGEL KENNEDY LOOKS FORWARD TO END OF “ZIONIST APARTHEID”

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.

NIGEL KENNEDY CONDEMNS BBC’S “CENSORSHIP AND IMPERIAL LACK OF IMPARTIALITY”

The following statement has been issued on behalf of violin maestro Nigel Kennedy in response to the BBC’s decision to censor a remark he made  during a Prom concert with young Palestinian musicians on August 8 (see previous post for details).

Will the BBC now have the courage to restore Kennedy’s comment to its rightful place in the TV broadcast of the concert on August 23?  Will they continue with his scheduled appearance as one of the stars in the gala Last Night of the Proms on September 7?

As Kennedy says,  the BBC may have done us a favour by inadvertently generating “discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.”

A spokesperson for Nigel Kennedy said:

“Nigel Kennedy finds it incredible and quite frightening that in the 21st century it is still such an insurmountable problem to call things the way they are. He thinks that once we can all face issues for what they really are we can finally have a chance of finding solutions to problems such as human rights, equal rights and even, perhaps, free speech. His first reaction to the BBC’s censorship & imperial lack of impartiality was to refuse to play for an employer who is influenced by such dubious outside forces.

Mr Kennedy has, however, reminded himself that his main purpose is to provide the audience with the best music he can deliver. To withdraw his services would be akin to a taxi driver refusing to drive their customer due to their political incorrectness. He, therefore, is not withdrawing his services that he owes to his audience, but is half expecting to be replaced by someone deemed more suitable than him due to their surplus of opportunism and career aspirations.

Mr Kennedy is glad, however, that by censoring him the BBC has created such a huge platform for the discussion of its own impartiality, its respect (or lack of it) for free speech and for the discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.

Mr Kennedy believes his very small statement during his concert was purely descriptive and not political whatsoever.”