Category Archives: palestine

Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense

 

During London protests against Israel's renewed attacks on Gaza, anti-Zioniost rabbis stand on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

During London protests against Israel’s renewed attacks on Gaza, an anti-Zionist rabbi stands on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

The latest evidence of Israeli criminality has added urgency to the BDS campaign. Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods initiated a letter published in the Guardian on Saturday July 12, alongside another pressing the case for BDS, under the headline Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense.

The J-BIG letter, signed by Jewish figures including actor Miriam Margolyes and  writer and comedian Alexei Sayle, was also supported by author Ahdaf Soueif.

It said Israel was marking the 10th anniversary of the international court of justice  ruling that Israel’s apartheid wall is illegal and must be removed, by renewing its attacks on Gaza, again punishing the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land.

Protests have been widespread and growing. See Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ (JfJfP) website for a useful compendium of reports and comment.

 

FULL TEXT OF PRO-BDS LETTERS IN THE GUARDIAN

It is now 10 years since the international court of justice  ruled that the wall built by Israel in the occupied West Bank contravenes international law and must be removed.

Israel is marking this anniversary with renewed attacks on Gaza which continue to punish the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land (Israel turns screw on Hamas as 300 targets are hit in a single night, 11 July).

The apartheid wall is still there, making any kind of normal life for Palestinians an impossibility, as well as stealing their land. It is 47 years since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus extending the process (begun in 1948) of ethnically cleansing the indigenous population and then installing settlers.

All this is illegal under international law, which has been flouted by Israel, aided by the complicity of western governments. The media too, especially the BBC, must bear some responsibility with its grotesquely biased reporting which, as Owen Jones notes (9 July), portrays Israel as an innocent victim, exempt from any norms of behaviour.

Our government will not hold Israel accountable, so we have a responsibility to do so, especially through the civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  (BDS).

Miriam Margolyes, Mike Marqusee, Alexei Sayle, Ahdaf Soueif, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, Prof Moshe Machover, Prof Nira Yuval-Davies, Seymour Alexander, Rica Bird, Elizabeth Carola, Mike Cushman, Judit Druks, Nancy Elan, Mark Elf, Deborah Fink, Sylvia Finzi, Kenneth Fryde, Claire Glasman, Tony Greenstein, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Michael Kalmanovitz, Adah Kay, Leah Levane, Les Levidow, Mica Nava, Diane Neslen, Susan Pashkoff, Roland Rance, Leon Rosselson, Maureen Rothstein, Michael Sackin, Ian Saville, Miriam Scharf, Sam Weinstein, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Devra Wiseman, Ben Young
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

 

• Debate about strategy is vital for good politics. We welcome Noam Chomsky‘s admonitions as a stimulus to the debate and education which the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement has enabled globally. Aside from the errors of fact in Chomsky’s Nation article reported on by Ian Black (Israeli sanctions campaign: Chomsky’s boycott warning, 2 July), the timing of his intervention is unfortunate since the BDS movement has now reached even American campuses, occasioned Israeli cabinet deliberations as to how to counter it, and caused reputational damage to corporations working with Israeli firms in occupied Palestine.

Chomsky also ignores that BDS is fully backed by Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Israelis. In this difficult period for progressive politics and international solidarity, the BDS movement builds across the globe. In its stead Chomsky proposes nothing.
Hilary Rose Professor emeritus of social policy, BradfordMartha Mundy Professor emeritus in anthropology, LSESteven Rose Professor emeritus of neuroscience, Open University, Sami Ramadani London Metropolitan University

Jerusalem BDS activist in face-to-face talk with star of NBC’s ‘DIG’

A Palestinian activist has challenged US TV network NBC over a show being set largely in Jerusalem, in a face-to-face conversation with the leading actor, Jason Isaacs.

Jason Isaacs on DIG set

Isaacs posted this image of himself on set on his own Instagram account

Dig, to be shown on NBCUniversal’s cable network USA in the autumn, has generated strong protests from Palestinians who see it is as part of Israel’s effort to consolidate its control and advance the Judaization of the militarily occupied city.

Harry Potter star Isaacs spoke last week to a Jerusalem resident, known to readers of The Electronic Intifada as “Zalameh”, who visited the set.

According to Zalameh, Isaacs “was very receptive to talk to me and he had an immediate smile.” Isaacs said he had read all of the letters about the issue very carefully and intended to issue a reply.

He also told Zalameh that he had been approached by Miriam Margolyes, the British actor who is a strong supporter of BDS.

But Isaacs also said, according to Zalameh, “I don’t support BDS” – an indication that the actor is nonetheless fully aware of the movement.

Read Electronic Intifada’s full report about the encounter here.

Palestinians protest in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, where Palestinian houses are threatened to be demolished by the city's municipality. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians protest in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, where Palestinian houses are threatened to be demolished by the city’s municipality. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Find out more about the boycott campaign to expose NBC’s collaboration with Israeli authorities responsible for demolishing Palestinian homes

US activists present petition to NBC

US activists present petition to NBC

 

 

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WHOEVER THE BRUSSELS MUSEUM KILLER WAS, ISRAEL CAN’T BLAME FRIENDS OF PALESTINE

The fatal attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24 has given rise to speculation about the identity of two of the dead as well as of the possible perpetrator, most recently identified as a French citizen who had fought with Islamic militants in Syria. Was it a random attack by an anti-semite targeting a Jewish institution? A carefully planned retaliation by an expert hitman against former Mossad agents? Or something else altogether?

Theories abound, some of them entwining the Belgian incident with the rise of the Right in the recent Europe-wide elections and the Papal visit to Israel and Palestine.

One thing is clear: Binyamin Netanyahu’s attempt to blame criticism of Israel for the Brussels deaths was a despicably cynical move that demanded a response.  Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods combined forces with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network to put out a statement dissociating us from Netanyahu’s assertion that the fate of every Jew is shackled to that of the Israeli state.

Perhaps we should welcome the fact that most media outlets seem to have ignored the Israeli PM’s rant. However, it is regrettable that both of the two national daily papers which published it – the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times – turned down the opportunity to give their readers access to an alternative Jewish perspective.

For the record, we publish the letter here.

An outrage against humanity, not Israel

We deplore the murder of visitors to the Jewish Museum in Brussels and feel the grief of their families and friends.

We find it shocking that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has rushed to exploit the killings in order to demonise Israel’s critics.

By blaming what he calls “Slander and lies against the State of Israel” for an assault on a Jewish institution in Belgium, he asserts that Israel represents all Jews and acts on their behalf. We reject this absolutely. Israel’s racist crimes against the Palestinian people provide ample grounds for criticising it without recourse to “slander and lies”.

With hate speech and discrimination on the rise, in Europe and elsewhere, our priority must be to combat the virus of racism regardless of whether its victims are Jews, Muslims, Romanians, Sudanese or indeed anyone.

When atrocities occur, it is our humanity that is outraged, not our national, ethnic or religious identity.

Signed

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Good
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

George Abendstern

Seymour Alexander

Craig Berman

Rica Bird

Haim Bresheeth

Elizabeth Carola

Linda Clair

Mark Elf

Thomas Eisner

Deborah Fink

Jan Hardy

Abe Hayeem

Rosamine Hayeem

Selma James

Riva Joffe

Michael Kalmanowitz

Leah Levane

Les Levidow

Rosalind Levy

Moshe Machover

Helen Marks

Simon Natas

Diana Neslen

Susan Pashkoff

Roland Rance

Valerie Remy

Frances Rifkin

Leon Rosselson

Amanda Sebestyen

Glyn Secker

Leni Solinger

Glyn Secker

Stanley Walinets

Sam Weinstein

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, CRITIC OF ISRAEL AND BDS, SPEAKS IN LONDON

nwi chairing norman finkelstein nov2011 credit brian robinson

Norman Finkelstein debates BDS at SOAS, November 2011

Norman Finkelstein, both celebrated and reviled for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda, will be launching his latest book in London on May 31 at an event hosted by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.  Full details below.

Finkelstein’s views on the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign have made him a controversial figure in the BDS movement. In November 2011 he debated with Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, on a J-BIG platform at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The event, pictured above, exposed disagreements between Finkelstein and BDS activists who he accused of building a “sect”.  As the JfJfP notice below says, his May 31 book launch could prove “a bumpy ride”!

LONDON BOOK LAUNCH

Old Wine, Broken Bottle:
Ari Shavit’s Promised Land

Saturday 31 May 2014 *  6.30 for 7pm start
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Norman Finkelstein is a strong speaker celebrated for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda and full-tilt attacks on the American Israel Lobby.

His new book is a take-down of Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land”, which he finds is an attempt to repackage Zionist propaganda and win back Diaspora Jews. “Old Wine, Broken Bottle” is a devastating and very entertaining critique that concludes that Shavit will not succeed, and that a broad-based mass movement is now growing that can pressure the Israeli government to withdraw to the 1967 borders.

But Finkelstein is nothing if not controversial: having defied the Zionist establishment, he now stands apart from the mainstream of Palestine solidarity by denouncing the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement as a marginal “cult”. His vehement insistence on the Two State Solution has also been widely challenged.

Professor Finkelstein will open with a conversation with JfJfP signatory Stephen Marks.
Then fans and critics alike can put their own questions to him. All are welcome.

Expect a bumpy ride!

Free event, but please help towards costs: £3 donation suggested
Apologies for Saturday timing; this was the only slot available”Old Wine, Broken Bottle” reviewed by a member of the JfJfP Exec http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1939293464/ref=sr_cr_hist_5?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&showViewpoints=0

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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?”

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.

 

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.”