Category Archives: BDS

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”.

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
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

ISRAEL RESTS ON ZIONIST BRUTALITY, OPPOSING BDS IS FUTILE

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

Follow the links to read these valuable pieces in full.

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

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

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

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

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

Methodist consultation on BDS: J-BIG response

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

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

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

Les Levidow and Diana Neslen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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.