Monthly Archives: July 2015

“Make Apartheid History” connects Palestine, South Africa and US civil rights

 

 

Make Apartheid History, the follow-up to Bethlehem Unwrapped, launched online on Saturday 18th July, and held its first event at London’s Southbank with a programme of poetry and prose linking civil rights, anti-apartheid, and Palestinian solidarity movements.

Edited highlights of performances by Paterson Joseph, Miriam Margolyes, Kika Markham, Leila Sansour, Jeremy Hardy and Sam West are here. Hardy’s unscripted rationale for BDS is hard to beat.

Make Apartheid History is an international project that brings together creative individuals, organisations and networks from around the world – starting with Palestine and the UK; South Africa and USA – for a programme of popular events commencing summer 2015 and culminating Mandela Day, summer 2016. A short introductory video is here.

Make Apartheid History launches in a year of significant anniversaries: in the UK it is the 800thanniversary of Magna Carta; in the USA it is 60 years since Rosa Parks sat at the front of that segregated bus; in South Africa it is 25 years since  Nelson Mandela walked free; and in Palestine it is 10 years since Palestinian civil society called for BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law:

‘I know first-hand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.
Nelson Mandela
We believe it is time to make apartheid history, once and for all, by supporting the call by Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law.You can find out more at www.makeapartheidhistory.org. Our video gallery has a wide range of contributors from Palestine, UK, South Africa and USA and we’ll be uploading content to this page on a regular basis.

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You can also Sign up here for news.

And Make Apartheid History partners

OPGAI (Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy), PSCC (Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee), Bedouins Without Borders, Tipping Point North SouthPressure Cooker ArtsICAHDUK (Israeli Committee against House Demolitions UK). In partnership with Artists for Palestine UK and PLAN (Palestine Legal Action Network).

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Irish BDS activists reject smears as dance festival in Israel is cancelled

We are reproducing this long post from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign in which they refute allegations that threats and danger to dance students brought about the cancellation of the first Israeli Irish Dance Feis, planned for Tel Aviv in August.

The piece explains the goals and tactics of this particular cultural boyott campaign and in the process explores the principles of applying BDS in the arts.
There is much more on this subject on the website of Artists for Palestine UK.

10. Bilin 2

IPSC Statement on the cancellation of the Israeli Feis: A victory for Palestinian rights marred by disgusting and defamatory comments

According to a post on the Facebook page of the Carey Academy in Israel and The Carey Academy of Irish Dancing in Birmingham, the Israeli Irish Dancing Feis scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv on August 15th has been cancelled. The post announcing the cancellation makes scurrilous and defamatory remarks against human rights activists and organisations*.

[* Note: A first posting, several hours before the one that is now visible, contained even more malicious and defamatory statements. This has since been removed by the Carey Academy, though we have it archived. In this statement we focus solely on the posting of Tuesday 7th July at 5.03am.]

0. Feis statement

In 2005 over 200 Palestinian civil society, trade union, faith and artistic groups called for a comprehensive boycott, including a cultural boycott, of Israel and Israeli institutions until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian lands and abides fully by its commitments under international law. As supporters of this call based in Ireland, the IPSC welcomes the cancellation of the Israeli Feis as it represents the cancellation of an event that – consciously nor not – sought to ‘greenwash’ Israeli human rights abuses, war crimes and international law violations by bringing international cultural figures to Israel.

However, it is important to clarify from the outset that the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign – in accordance with the Palestinian guidelines for the Cultural Boycott of Israel – never sought the cancellation of the Feis. Instead we sought to encourage Irish people who had planned on attending the competition – including the advertised adjudicators Seamus and Ainé Ó Sé – to boycott the event in solidarity with Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and Apartheid. Separately, we pleaded with An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (CLRG; The Irish Dancing Commission), as an organisation which receives money from the Irish taxpayer via Conradh Na Gaeilge, to withdraw its endorsement, promotion and support for the event taking place under its auspices.

In other words, if Israelis in Israel want to host and partake in an Irish dancing competition – or any other cultural activity – this does not fall within the guidelines for the cultural boycott. An event only becomes subject to a call for a cultural boycott when international artists, cultural figures or institutions are asked to take, or listed as taking, part. This was very much the case with the Israeli Feis which not only involved international (Irish) adjudicators, a musician from Birmingham in England (who subsequently withdrew from the event), was endorsed and promoted by the CLRG and included an open call to Irish dancers from all over the world to attend. Thus it met the criteria to be focused on by principled human rights activists acting in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

That culture and the fight against oppression are inextricably linked is recognised by the more than 500 Irish creative and performing artists that have already signed up to the Irish Artists’ Pledge to Boycott Israel. These artists join a growing list of international artists like Roger Waters, Lauryn Hill, Ken Loach, Mira Nair, Nigel Kennedy, Cat Power and Elvis Costello who have refused to perform in Israel as an act of solidarity with the occupied and besieged Palestinian people. Famed anti-Apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu said last year that the conflict’s solution will “come from that nonviolent toolbox we developed in South Africa in the 1980s, to persuade the government of the necessity of altering its policies.  The reason these tools – boycott, sanctions and divestment – ultimately proved effective was because they had a critical mass of support”.

11. Bilin 3

The Carey Academy announcement states that their page “started to be attacked” – by which they presumably mean people were leaving comments in support of Palestinian human rights and the cultural boycott campaign – by a “radical political group” – by which they mean the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), an organisation that supports Palestinian human rights and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The post further states that the IPSC is “led by” Raymond Deane, Kevin Squires and Amanda Crawford. Ms. Crawford is a member of the Irish Palestinian Activists Collective, and not a member of the IPSC. Mr. Deane is a former Cultural Liaison Officer of the IPSC. Mr. Squires is a part-time employee of the IPSC.

The post insinuates that the IPSC – or these individuals – sent “threatening messages” to “teachers, parents and students”. Leaving aside the near impossibility, were one even so inclined, of finding contact details for teachers, parents and students which are presumably only in the hands of organisers, this is a completely defamatory statement. Neither the IPSC nor anyone officially associated with it sent a single threatening message to anyone. This statement smells of the usual lies and hasbara (Israeli propaganda) spewed forth when human rights activists are campaigning in favour of a cultural boycott.

We routinely hear of “threats” by the IPSC yet evidence has never been produced by any accuser to back up such defamatory claims. Indeed, it is not the first nor will it be the last time such lies are told about the IPSC. They are par for the course when campaigning against Israeli apartheid and for Palestinian human rights. If such an incident has occurred, it is of course important to state that IPSC neither advocates nor stands behind any violent act or violent threat made in the name of the BDS movement – nor does the international BDS movement itself – and that if anyone has genuinely made such statements or engaged in such actions they represent themselves only.

Yet, we are surely not alone in suspecting that having been taken to task by international human rights activists and realising the increasing indefensibility of their position and having their name and reputation associated with Israeli apartheid, The Carey Academy decided to pull the plug on the event, but sought to insinuate that non-existent threats of violence were the rationale.

Meanwhile, very real threats and racist comments have already started appearing in the IPSC mailbox and on our social media pages.

fysmont

For the record, it is important to chronicle just what actions the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign took during the course of this short campaign.

On 17th June we wrote privately to Aine and Seamus Ó Sé and asked them not to take part in the Feis. We received no response to this letter. We subsequently wrote again to Seamus Ó Sé – this time via email – when we had been made aware by a third party that Mr. Ó Sé was circulating false statements about the IPSC. In this letter we informed him that as “you have indicated in the email to Ms. Ni Bhriain (though, it must be pointed out, not to us) that nothing will change your mind on this issue it seems there is little point in continuing a dialogue with you and your partner as individuals who have chosen to break the boycott. It is heartbreaking that you would choose to ignore the calls from Palestinian civil society, from Palestinian dancers, musicians, singers, artists, writers, musicians, poets, human rights activists and everyday people not to help whitewash their oppression by the Israeli state, but ultimately the choice is yours alone to make.” Once again, we received no response to this email.

On 18th June we wrote privately to the CLRG and asked them to cease their endorsement, promotion and support for the Israeli Feis. We received no response to this letter.

On 19th June the IPSC was contacted by Colin Coyle of the Sunday Times, who was of the belief that the “social media campaign” was being organised by the IPSC. Mr Coyle was told that it wasnot an IPSC campaign, but that the petition was set up by the Irish Palestinian Activists Collective. The IPSC subsequently sent a statement to the Sunday Times, but despite this the printed article claimed the social media campaign was being organised by the IPSC. The journalist was immediately contacted and this erroneous statement was corrected in the online edition. A number of letters then appeared in the following week’s edition of that paper which named the IPSC. A right of reply was sought but, alas, not granted by the paper.

The same statement that was issued to the Sunday Times was also sent, upon request, to the website Irish Central and was quoted in full in this piece.

On 25th June, on behalf of the Israel citizens’ group Boycott From Within, we sent a letter to the CLRG calling on them to support the cultural boycott and posted the letter on our website at their request. To the best of our knowledge, BFW did not receive a response to their letter.

On 29th June we posted a statement that had been emailed to us from Jewish Voice for a Just Peace (Ireland) calling for a boycott of the Israeli Feis on our website.

Several times over the course of four weeks on our social media sites we shared the petition created by the Irish Palestinian Activists Collective and asked people to sign it, and on 6th July we shared their call for a Twitter Thunderclap. Finally, we shared images of Palestinians calling for a boycott of the event.

This is the sum total of the actions taken by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign during this campaign.

8. Lajee

To return to the Carey Academy statement, it claims that “unfortunately, there was a protest outside our dance studio. We do not want to risk the safety of anyone connected to the Carey Academy”. By this they mean the Carey Academy in Birmingham, England – not their Israeli branch. People have a right to peaceful protest and judging by the complete lack of any evidence to contrary it seems this protest was entirely peaceful in nature. With the growth of the global BDS movement over the past ten years, institutions that do business with Israel – whether financial, cultural or otherwise – should expect protests from people concerned at these associations. This is what happens in democratic societies. The outrageous insinuation that dancers, or anyone else associated with the Academy, were ever in physical danger is simply a barefaced lie.

However, this protest in Birmingham was not organised by the IPSC – as the Carey Academy is located in England, it is outside of our ‘jurisdiction’. For the IPSC to organise a protest in England would be akin to our colleagues in the British PSC organising an action in Cork. Indeed, as the Carey Academy is based and located in England, we never saw it as our role to focus on their involvement with the Feis, preferring to leave that to local activists – we focus on trying to convince Irish cultural figures to join the more than five hundred of their peers in respecting the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel.

Further, the Carey Academy states that “age, nationality or religious beliefs do not matter to us, Irish Dancing has no boundaries and brings people together.” This seemingly liberal and worthy statement elides at least one very major fact – Israel is a racist state that operates a racist entry law. Therefore any event that takes place in Israel automatically excludes millions of Palestinian refugee families who are denied their UN-mandated right of return to the homes they were expelled from in 1948 and 1967. Israeli also operates a severely restrictive entry regime for Palestinians from the territories it has occupied since 1967. This reality exists alongside the ‘Law of Return’ under which anyone of Jewish ancestry anywhere in the world can claim Israeli citizenship. The Israeli state openly discriminates on the basis of “nationality [and] religious beliefs”, therefore any event held in that state will also be discriminatory on the same basis.

It is worth looking also at a previous statement made by the Carey Academy on June 19th that said “Running a feis in Israel does not mean we support or are involved with the Israeli government [… ] Why should we starve these people of their enjoyment of Irish dance just because they live in a country who’s politics we do not agree with?”

Yet, while it may be true that the Israeli government was not directly involved in the Feis, the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel is predicated on the fact that the Israel state routinely uses culture as a tool to normalise and whitewash its decades of human rights abuses, war crimes, occupation and apartheid policies.

As the Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in 2005, for Israel “culture is a propaganda tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.” Another Israeli foreign office official, Arye Mekel, remarked that culture was way of “show[ing] Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war” and occupation.

Israel is a frequent and flagrant violator of international law and human rights norms, and regularly commits war crimes. Just last year in a brutal assault on Gaza, Israel killed over 2,200 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, including more than 500 children. In a human rights report following this attack, Defence for Children International said that it “found overwhelming and repeated evidence of international humanitarian law violations committed by Israeli forces. These included direct attacks on children, and indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian homes [and] schools”.

Therefore, whatever the intentions of the organisers, or those who were willing to take part, they were in effect providing cultural cover for the Israeli state’s horrendous treatment of the Palestinian people.

Indeed, the Israeli Embassy in Ireland mentioned the Feis, and even posted some of the anti-Palestinian, anti-BDS letters that appeared in the Sunday Times on its Facebook and Twitter pages. One post was subsequently shared by the ‘1st Israeli Feis’ event page, operated by the Carey Academy – certainly strange behaviour for an organisation that insinuates its own opposition to the actions of the Israeli government as it did on 19th June.

Finally, as part of the Feis, the Carey Academy were offering participants “a bus tour to some incredible place in Israel … will be chosen according to your votes”. The very first option is a tour of “Jerusalem (Old City)” and the second is “A Tour of Three Religions in Jerusalem”. Of course the Old City of Jerusalem is in illegally annexed Israeli-occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, and no “three religions” tour would be possible without visiting the Old City. Thus, we see the Carey Academy, whether wittingly or unwittingly it does not matter, reinforcing the Israeli state narrative of East Jerusalem being part of Israel, when no country in the world (other than Israel) recognises it as such.

ENDS

Academics’ report reveals Kafka-esque world of Palestinian Universities under Occupation

A devastating new report – Palestinian Universities under Occupation – has been put together by a delegation representing the European Platform for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (EPACBI) who visited seven Palestinian universities and academies in April 2015. The delegation consisted of eight academics from five countries.

Their Summary of Findings point to a “consistent pattern across all the universities that it visited  … of a coherent and multi-faceted policy of Israeli interference with the normal functioning of academic life.

“This interference inhibits free movement of staff and students; reduces academic effectiveness and productivity by the usurpation of staff time through mobility restrictions and imposed bureaucratic obstacles; prevents effective collaboration and sharing of intellectual resources between Palestinian universities; obstructs international visits to Palestinian universities; substantially prevents the employment of teaching staff from abroad; interrupts the supply of equipment, materials and books; and subjects staff and students to repeated humiliations and indignity.”

Read the full report here:

http://www.bricup.org.uk/2015DelegationReport.pdf

 

Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine statement on day of ‘Block the Factory’ protest

ARTICLE REPRODUCED FROM
British Jews proud to support national demonstration against Israeli armsmaker Elbit
Activism Mondoweiss Editors on July 6, 2015

Statement from ‘Manchester Jewish action for Palestine’ in support of ‘Block the Factory’, a national demonstration on July 6th at Israeli arms factory ‘Elbit’.

We looked on in horror as Israel invaded Gaza last year.51 days of carnage.We will never forget the 4 boys who were killed as they played football on the beach. Salem from Shajiyah who was shot as he searched for his friend in the rubble after an air strike.

Debate within the Jewish community was furious and heartbreaking. But as tensions rose in our own communities, we could never imagine what it was like in Gaza during those weeks.

By the end of the 51 day assault, over 2,200 Palestinians were dead, including 490 children. 73 Israelis were killed. 20 000 Palestinian homes were destroyed. 500 000 Palestinians were displaced. Gaza is still struggling to pick up the pieces.

This week will mark the 1st anniversary of the invasion. On July 6th people from all over the UK will descend on Elbit Systems, an arms factory near Birmingham which manufactures drones. Drones which ended up in Gaza, part of the high tech weapons offensive that decimated the 360km region in which 1.8 million Palestinians live, damaging or destroying 62 hospitals and clinics (killing 23 medical workers), 45 ambulances, 250 Palestinian schools and the only civilian power plant in Gaza.

Drones are ‘Unmanned aerial vehicles’ (UAVs) – aircraft either controlled by “pilots” from the ground or, increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. While official claims are made for the accuracy of the strikes, there have been high numbers of civilian casualties besides the intended victim. Even in the latter cases, it is a death penalty imposed without a trial. Elbit is Israel’s largest arms producer. Its portfolio includes systems for military aircraft and helicopters, drones, armed remote control boats and land vehicles.

Elbit describes its drones as “the backbone” of Israel’s drone fleet. These drones were extensively used by the Israeli military in the 2014 attack, ‘Operation Protective Edge’. As British Jews we are horrified by the continued occupation of Palestinians and the UK’s complicity. On the 1st anniversary of the assault, campaigners and groups have called for a mass public action to demonstrate against ‘Elbit’ systems.

Throughout the devastating assault last summer, millions of people across the world were mobilised to take action. One year later, Gaza is not in the headlines anymore, but the people are still being systematically oppressed and denied fundamental human rights.

We are British Jews who are proud to support the national demonstration against the Israeli arms company Elbit systems on July 6th. We call on all people of conscience to stand up for justice and equality and to support the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

As British Jews we say never again, for anyone.

#StopArmingIsrael

For more information see:

Facebook: Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine

Campaign Against Arms Trade: https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/mapping/organisation/5233

Block The Factory: https://www.blockthefactory.org/

Corporate Watch Elbit Systems: http://www.corporatewatch.org/company-profiles/elbit

Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

End the two way arms trades between Israel and the UK: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/manchester-justice-palestinians

 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:   http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/national-demonstration-armsmaker#sthash.9GwLpQsP