Category Archives: News

Palestinian civil society calls for military embargo of Israel

Palestinian civil society calls for full and comprehensive military embargo of Israel with international support and endorsement from Nobel laureates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The largest Palestinian coalition encompassing all Palestinian political parties, trade unions, NGOs and mass organisations, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), today called for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region, and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law,” reads the BNC’s call.

The BNC has published a detailed legal and political analysis of international military relations with Israel and their impact.

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Antiboycott bill set for a final reading in Knesset

On 27 June 2011 a final version of the ‘Bill for prevention of damage to the State of Israel through boycott – 2011’  was approved by the Constitutional Committee of the Israeli Knesset.

Israeli human rights groups have sent out an urgent call to EU Member States and their representatives, asking them to protest against the bill which applies not only Israel but also the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

Israeli citizens and organisations calling for withdrawal of economic or cultural support from settlements or from Israel would be liable for heavy compensation payments, even if no actual damage is caused to boycotted parties.

In addition, the final version of the bill includes a new list of sanctions against NGOs, public institutions and businesses engaging in boycott, including the loss of tax exemptions and the loss of eligibility for benefits afforded by various laws.

Read the whole story on JNews.

PM Cameron drops patronage of JNF ethnic cleansers

An important new development in the BDS campaign to expose the racist nature of the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

Cameron drops Israel ‘racist’ charity

Prime Minister David Cameron has quietly terminated his status as an Honorary Patron of the controversial Jewish National Fund (JNF).  His office confirmed he had “stepped down”.  For many years leaders of all three main political parties became Honorary Patrons of the JNF by convention.  According to Dick Pitt, a spokesperson for the Stop the JNF Campaign, “Cameron was the only leader of the three major parties remaining as a JNF Patron.  This decline in political support for the JNF at the highest levels of the political tree may be a sign of the
increasing awareness in official quarters that a robust defence of the activities of the JNF may not be sustainable.”

The news of Cameron’s move has reached Palestinians in refugee camps, people whose land is under the control of the JNF.  Salah Ajarma in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp was “delighted to hear the news that the British Prime Minister has decided to withdraw his support for this sinister organisation involved in ethnic cleansing. My village, Ajjur, was taken by force from my family and given to the JNF who used money from JNF UK to plant the British Park on its ruins. For the Palestinians who were evicted from their villages and have been prevented from returning, Cameron’s withdrawal is another victory on the road to achieving justice and freedom for the Palestinians”.

The JNF chairman Samuel Hayek defends the work of the organisation saying, “for over 100 years we have had one mission: to settle and develop theLand of Israel” as pioneers of the “historic Zionist dream”.  The registered charity claims their work, especially in the Negev region of Israel, deals with “the rising demographic challenges faced by Israel”.  In recent months the JNF’s activities in the Negev have received extensive international media coverage, linking them to the demolition of Palestinian Bedouin villages and confiscation of the land of the village.  Campaigners report that “even Israeli courts have criticised the JNF as an organisation that discriminates against non-Jews and there is mounting evidence of the JNF’s involvement in Israel’s programme to change the ethnic composition of areas inside 1948 Israel as well as in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.  It is not acceptable that such an organisation is allowed to operate in the UK, much less to enjoy charity status”.

Michael Kalmanovitz, UK co-ordinator of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, said “Cameron’s patronage of the JNF lent parliamentary credibility to a criminal organisation backed by a highly-equipped occupying army and masquerading as a ‘humanitarian charity’.  Now parliamentarians who are ‘Friends of Israel’ must consider how much longer they can defend Israeli apartheid and worse.“

Pressure has been mounting on Cameron and the JNF.  An Early Day Motion in the Westminster Parliament highlighted the Prime Minister’s status as honorary patron and claimed that “there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK”.  UK and international JNF fund-raising events increasingly face protests due, campaigners argue, to “a shift in public opinion on Israel generally”.  In 2007, the American JNF application for consultative status on a key UN committee was rejected because delegates were unable to distinguish between the activities of the US Branch and those of the JNF in Israel whose activities the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concerns about.

The Stop the JNF Campaign has workshops planned in London on 4 June 2011 and protests against JNF fundraising activities will be organised throughout the coming year.

ENDS

Notes for editors:

1. The Stop the JNF Campaign is an international campaign aimed at ending the role of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael) (JNF-KKL) in:

–          the on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land

–          the theft of their property

–          the funding of historic and present day colonies, and

–          the destruction of the natural environment.

The JNF continues to serve as a global fundraiser for Israeli ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid. Despite its role in a State institution of Israel (the Israel Land Authority) and in institutionalized racism and apartheid, the JNF and its affiliate organizations enjoy charitable status in over 50 countries.

For further information, contact gb@stopthejnf.org, 07931200361

Website: www.stopthejnf.org.uk

2. Email from Prime Minister’s Press Office, Thu, 26 May 2011

Following the formation of the Coalition Government last year, a review

was undertaken of all the organisations and charities the Prime Minister

was associated with. As a result of this review, the Prime Minister

stepped down from a number of charities – this included the JNF. A full

list of all the charities and organisations the Prime Minister and Mrs

Cameron are associated with is published on the Cabinet Office website.

Rachel Stanton

Prime Minister’s Press Office

10 Downing Street

SW1A 2AA

020 7930 4433

3. ‘Cameron Becomes New JNF Patron’, TotallyJewish.com, 2nd February 2006
http://www.totallyjewish.com/news/national/?content_id=2661

4. Extract from ‘The British Park’ by Uri Davis, JNF e-book volume 1, p21
“The JNF-UK, as in other countries in Europe and the Americas, is a registered charity. The planting of the British Park over the lands of destroyed Palestinian villages, including Ajjur and Zakariyya, can in no way be described as ‘charitable’.  Rather it ought to be classified as an act and as a policy of complicity with war crimes. The British Park and the recreational facility developed in the shade of its forest trees serve to veil from critical public view war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army in the course of, and in the wake of, the 1948 war. This policy of

complicity with war crimes has been maintained by subsequent Israeli Governments, underpinned by Acts of Parliament such as the Jewish National Fund Law of 1950 and the Covenant signed between the JNF and the state of Israel in 1961.”

http://www.stopthejnf.org/documents/JNFeBookVol1ed2x.pdf

5. Samuel Hayek in ‘Supporting Israel for Life’, JNF Charitable Trust, Annual Report & Accounts 2009
http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends10%5C0000225910_AC_20091231_E_C.PDF

6. The JNF in the Negev (Naqab)

‘Shattering Israel’s image of ‘democracy’’, The Guardian, 3 December 2009
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/03/israel-negev

‘Cameron-backed charity accused of discriminating against non-Jews’, 10 June 2010
http://www.jnews.org.uk/news/cameron-backed-charity-accused-of-discriminating-against-non-jews

‘The Israelis keep bulldozing their village, but still the Bedouin will not give up their land’, The Guardian, 1 March 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/01/israelis-demolish-bedouin-village

‘Stop creating forests that are destroying Bedouin lives’, Amnesty International, 11 April 2011
http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/stop-destruction-bedouin-village-and-its-inhabitants%E2%80%99-livelihoods-5

7. The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
http://www.ijsn.net/home/

8. Early day motion 1677, JEWISH NATIONAL FUND, Session: 2010-11

“That this House welcomes the Stop the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Campaign launched on 30 March 2011 by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others to inform the public about the JNF – Karen Kayemet L’Yisrael, its ongoing illegal expropriation of Palestinian land, concealing of destroyed Palestinian villages beneath parks and forests, and prevention of refugees from returning to their homes; notes that the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews; further notes that the UN rejected the JNF USA’s application for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council on the ground that it violates the principles of the UN Charter on Human Rights; regrets that the Prime Ministeris a JNF honorary patron; and believes that there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF’s charitable status in the UK.”

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-11/1677

9. UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) rejects JNF (US) application for consultative status (2007)

– Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC/6267 NGO/618, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/ecosoc6267.doc.htm

– Badil resources centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights: http://www.badil.org/en/article74/item/429-the-jewish-national-fund-jnf

– CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION, Concludingobservations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (para19),http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/041AB84D2F05080C85257302004A9963

10. Challenge the JNF: Stop the JNF Campaign Workshops, London, 4 June 2011
http://www.stopthejnf.org/greatbritain_takeaction_workshop4june2011.html

11. End fund-raising in Scotland for ethnic cleansing in Palestine, 21 June 2011
http://www.stopthejnf.org/greatbritain_takeaction_protest21june2011.html

On the shocking death of Juliano Mer Khamis, director of Jenin freedom theatre

Murdered Israeli Arab actor Juliano Mer Khamis

During the first intifada, when the Israeli occupation authorities banned education and closed all schools in the West Bank, Juliano’s mother Arna risked her life to smuggle education materials to the refugee camps. It was as a result of the contacts that she made then that she established her children’s centre in Jenin, which eventually developed into the Freedom Theatre. We remember the threats and abuse that she faced at the time. Some reactionaries denounced her as a “Jewish whore”, and the centres were torched. But each time, she rebuilt them; and she never lost her fighting spirit and her commitment to Palestinian liberation and to justice. Juliano paid tribute to Arna’s work in his inspiring film Arna’s Children.We must not allow this appalling crime to divert us from the struggle for justice, to which Juliano, like Arna, dedicated his life.

BBC news report:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12963475

 

Campaigners withdraw threat to picket Israeli Music conference after organisers confirm “No Israeli funding”

Press release from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine

24th March 2011

Groups campaigning for Palestinian human rights have declared that a conference on Israeli music is “no longer a priority for boycott”.

The conference “Art Musics of Israel: Identities, Ideologies, Influences” is being organised by the Jewish Music Institute (JMI), from 28th to 31st March. Some of its events are being held at SOAS, University of London.

Original publicity material for the conference had acknowledged support from the Israeli Embassy, London, and the British Israeli Arts Training Scheme (BI ARTS), “a British Council initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Sport in Israel”. The British Friends of the Hebrew University was also mentioned.

Consequently the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) and the Boycott Israel Network (BIN) all called for the conference to be boycotted. They prepared a letter to be sent to all those taking part, whether as speakers, session chairs or performers.

This decision was communicated to the Conference organisers, and a strong statement opposing the holding of the event was signed by distinguished practitioners from many musical fields. (See text below).

However, in correspondence with the protesters, Geraldine Auerbach, the head of the Jewish Music Institute, stated “I confirm that there is no funding directly or indirectly from the Israeli Government or institutions”. Subsequently all reference to the Israeli- related organisations was removed from the conference’s online publicity materials. Similarly Ms Auerbach, who had stated in the Jewish Chronicle that the Israeli Embassy was helping to promote the Conference, now stated that no such promotion had taken place.

After some further discussion and clarification, the protestors declared that although they still had strong concerns about the conference, they would not be picketing it and would no longer be writing to participants.

The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) states “the Palestinian boycott call targets cultural institutions, projects and events that continue to serve the purposes of the Israeli colonial and apartheid regime”.

Reem Kelani, Palestinian singer and musician, said: “It is a stain on SOAS’ stature as an institution of academic excellence to host a conference which seeks to deny the existence of a Palestinian cultural narrative and whose primary purpose is to present a politically shaped Israeli musical history.”

Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead of BRICUP said: “Clearly the event has been formulated in close contact with the Israeli authorities, so that its programme and structure serve the Brand Israel agenda. Nonetheless we acknowledge that the organisers have now stated unambiguously that no Israeli funding or support has been received, even if they did change their story several times during our campaign.”

Deborah Fink, a professional soprano and founder member of J-BIG, said: “This is a victory for the BDS movement, and we continue to step up our campaign until Israel ends the occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza and Palestinians are given their equality and human rights.”

PACBI and the British organisations are in agreement that the conference remains “completely boycottable”.

Although the campaigners have withdrawn their threat to picket or disrupt it, they are still intending to give out leaflets at some of the events pointing out the impossibility of holding an equivalent conference on Palestinian music because of the Israeli occupation.

Notes to Editors

1. The Palestinian Call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel can be read at:

http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

More detailed guidelines on how the cultural boycott should be applied can be read at: http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1047

2. Text of the original statement opposing the conference:

“As musicians we are dismayed that the forthcoming conference on Art Musics of Israel (28-31 March), hosted by the School of Oriental and African Studies and the Jewish Music Institute, is to be supported by Israeli state institutions – namely the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Sport, as well as their London Embassy. The reason for this support is all too clear: the conference fits snugly into the state’s ‘Brand Israel’ campaign to draw a liberal, cultured veil over a brutish reality.

“That reality is decades of illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, contempt for international law, deadly assaults on Lebanon, on Gaza, and on a humanitarian aid flotilla, the continuing siege of Gaza, and the deliberate and wholesale disruption of Palestinian social, economic and cultural life.

“Music should not be enlisted as a cover-up for these ongoing crimes. We oppose this conference and urge other musicians not to participate in any way.”

Signed, all in personal capacities:

Derek Ball (composer) Sue Beardon (singer) Frances Bernstein (community choir leader) Raymond Deane (composer)  Deborah Fink (soprano) Lisa Heller (singer) Andy Irvine (Irish music) Fergus Johnston (composer) Reem Kelani (Palestinian singer, musician and broadcaster) Les Levidow (violinist) Lubi (DJ) Ewan McLennan (folk musician/songwriter)  Dave Randall (musician) Leon Rosselson (singer-songwriter) Dominic Saunders (pianist) Leni Solinger (singer)  Kareem Taylor (musician) Nicolai V (DJ)

For further information contact:

music@bricup.org.uk

 


Macy Gray: “Boycotters are just assholes”

Macy Gray

Recently, commentator Max Blumenthal exposed what happened to black American artist Macy Gray when she asked her fans on Facebook for advice on whether or not to respect the Palestinian boycott of Israel. Unfortunately, she has decided to go ahead and play Israel. Maybe the Zionist reaction to her even debating the issue will encourage her to think again.

I recently wrote to her as Secretary of J-BIG, as follows: 

Dear Macy Gray,

I was excited when you responded directly to the campaigners who asked you to support the Palestinian boycott call by staying away from Israel until it ends its illegal system of discrimination. But now it saddens me that you don’t feel the need to heed the call, even though you say you are appalled by apartheid.

I’m one of many Jews who have joined the boycott movement because, like the millions who stood up against the apartheid regime in South Africa in the past, we insist on the right of ALL people to dignity, justice and equality. These are basic human rights that Palestinians have been systematically denied for the past six decades. They are in serious danger of extermination, and no powerful government or institution stands up for them. There is a mass of information out there making this abundantly clear. I recommend the website of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. It is just one of many hundreds of sources.

The boycott movement is a desperate last ditch stand, a legitimate, non-violent method of political action on the part of civil society, ordinary people who can – as with South African apartheid – help put an end to injustice. The Israeli establishment responds to peaceful protest with violence and criminalisation. It also devotes huge resources to propaganda. A major part of this effort aims to conceal the crimes of the state behind a civilised veneer. Invitations to artists like you are a cynical, conscious part of this propaganda effort. 

You say you do not believe your not performing there is a substantial political act. But the Israeli state certainly does think so! They hail every gig by celebrities who go to Israel as a victory over the campaigners for justice for Palestinians. They are already doing so over your apparent decision to go.

See this link from http://www.ynetnews.com: 

Macy Gray: Boycotters are just assholes 

You are political if you don’t go, but also if you do. It’s not too late to think again.

You say you believe that “coming there in support of peace and change through music will make more of a difference”. This is almost word for word what Paul McCartney told us back in 2008 before he went to Tel Aviv. Within a few short weeks of his bringing his message of peace, Israeli forces began bombarding Gaza and continued for 22 days until 1,400 Palestinians lay dead, including more than 300 children, thousands more were horribly injured, whole communities were ruined and remain so two years later, because the inhuman Israeli blockade remains in force. Killings, house demolitions, arrests, torture, continue throughout the Palestinians lands that Israel illegally occupies, and no sanctions are taken by the world’s great powers. 

Your friends and fans in Tel Aviv may be disappointed if you stay away, but they need to understand that Palestinians have far more fundamental rights than going to a concert denied to them every day of their lives. Your friends have the option of joining those courageous Israelis who see that their state deserves to become a pariah if it does not change its ways, for the sake of their own futures as well as that of the Palestinians.

Maybe it’s true that some boycotters are “assholes”, but the vast majority are decent, sane, caring human beings seeking a non-violent form of protest to end a gross injustice and spiralling violence. Please, meet some of us and then make up your own mind. 

Yours most sincerely,

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

Secretary, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, UK

jews4big@gmail.com

http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/01/israelis-target-macy-gray-with-racist-diatribes-after-she-agrees-to-play-tel-aviv-and-who-are-the-assholes/