Zionism’s Lost Shine

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Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:28 pm

Zionism’s Lost Shine
July 29, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry got an agreement for renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that Israel not only keep much of the Occupied Territories but be formally recognized as a Jewish state precludes a just resolution for the Arab people of Palestine and promises continued resistance, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

By Lawrence Davidson

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement directed toward Israel started in 2005 when a coalition of Palestine-based social and economic organizations called for such a comprehensive effort. At first the BDS movement appeared to be a long shot.

Israel, with its worldwide coterie of Zionist supporters, both Jewish and Christian, seemed invincible. Particularly in the Western world, the belief in Israel’s legitimacy had reached the status of sacred tradition. The Zionists worked very hard to achieve this status by controlling the historical interpretation of events that had led from World War I and the Balfour Declaration to the creation of Israel in 1948 and beyond.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
They might well have been able to maintain control of Israel’s past, present and future if the Zionist leadership had not succumbed to the sin of hubris. They became so ideologically self-righteous and militarily muscle-bound that they believed their place in the world to be untouchable. Thus, as they built a country based on discrimination and colonial expansion in an age increasingly critical of such societies, they refused all compromise with the Palestinians and treated criticism of their behavior and policies as at once anti-Semitic and irrelevant. They therefore failed to notice that their stubbornness was allowing others to erode the Zionist version of the history of modern Palestine/Israel.

Eight years is not a very long time, but a surprising amount has been accomplished. Increasing numbers of people, particularly in the Western world, have been made aware of the plight of the Palestinians as well as their version of the history of Palestine/Israel. With this change in historical perspective, BDS established a foothold and started to grow. The movement has spent most of its time since 2005 coordinating a series of efforts to convince private-sector consumers, businesses, academics and artists to cut their ties with the Zionist State and its colonies.

The latest success in this effort came just recently, when two of the largest supermarket chains in the Netherlands announced they would no longer sell Israeli merchandise manufactured or grown in the Occupied Territories (OT). Indeed, so successful has BDS been that the Israeli government has established an official task force to counteract it.

European Union Makes a Move

Another recent event may be even more significant, because it suggests the potential for expanding BDS from the private to the public sphere. This was signaled when the European Union (EU) issued new rules for implementing certain categories of funding agreements with Israel. Funding of grants, prizes, loans and other financial cooperative ventures will now exclude Israeli institutions located in or doing business with the OT.

I want to emphasize the notion of “potential” because the EU move is not a boycott action as such. It is a signal to Israel that the EU will not recognize Israel’s claim to any part of the Occupied Territories without a peace settlement, and therefore this move serves as a point of pressure on the Israeli government to give up its hubris and negotiate with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). By the way, the PNA as presently constituted is not a representative body and therefore has no legal authority to negotiate anything. However, the EU (along with the Israelis and the United States) persistently ignores this fact.

Nonetheless, this EU ruling is a step in the right direction, and some important Israelis understand the message. For instance, the Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom released a statement saying the “EU has started to confront the government of Israel – and every citizen of Israel – with a road sign that cannot be ignored.” At least not without moving Israel toward “being an international pariah.”

The renowned columnist and reporter for Israel’s newspaper Haaretz, Gideon Levy, has declared “The change [Israel needs] won’t come from within. . . . Change will only come from the outside.” Therefore, “Anyone who really fears for the future of the country needs to be in favor of boycotting it economically.”

And, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the present government’s only minister publicly in favor of negotiations with the Palestinians, has warned that the threat of European economic sanctions extends beyond the OT. “It’s true that it will begin with the settlements,” she stated. “But their [a growing number of Europeans’] problem is with Israel, which is perceived as a colonialist country, so it won’t stop with the settlements and will reach all of Israel.”

Livni is correct. Israel’s version of history notwithstanding, the country’s origin is as a colonial settler state. As suggested above, the result was an inherently discriminatory society. This is not because most Israeli citizens are Jewish. It is because most are Zionists.

Modern Zionism, which still reflects the colonial outlook of Nineteenth Century imperial Europe, is the guiding ideology of Israel, and it proclaims that the country must be a Jewish State. Unfortunately, you can’t design a country for one group only in a land where there also exists other sizable groups and not end up with a discriminatory and oppressive society. Therefore, even if, by some miracle, the Israelis see the light and withdraw from the OT, there will still be a BDS movement agitating for an end to discrimination against non-Jews within the 1948 borders.

Israel’s Negative Reaction

Becoming a real democracy, where all citizens enjoy genuine political equality, is Israel’s only way of escaping the inevitable isolation that comes with the growing BDS movement. Yet, there is no reason to believe that the ideologues who now control the Israeli political and religious power structures are going to move in this direction. One can see this not only from the growing effort the Israeli government is putting into countering BDS, but also from the angry reaction of its political leaders to the EU decision.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the EU decision with the temperament of a monarch. “We will not accept any external edicts on our borders.” That was, perhaps, the royal “we” he used. Then it was back to the first-person singular: “I will not let anyone harm the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, in the Golan Heights, or in Jerusalem – our united capital.”

The prime minister was quite off base in his pronouncements. He is the head of a country that has meticulously avoided setting borders for decades just so Israel could expand at opportune moments. That sort of imperial behavior is not well accepted in today’s world. Also, unless he can greatly increase Zionist lobby leverage on the EU, he has no way to prevent the “harm” that may finally befall his compatriots for naively assuming the whole world will accept their criminal behavior forever.

The entire episode points to the fact that, both in the private and public sectors of Western society, greater numbers of people no longer follow the line of historical interpretation set down by the Zionists. This is a major shift. Many Zionists might see this as a sign of growing anti-Semitism, but it really is nothing of the sort. There is nothing inherently Jewish about discrimination and colonialism. However, the same cannot be said for modern Zionism.

Again, the BDS movement is only eight years old. We can compare this to the more than 30 years it took the boycott of South Africa to end apartheid. So, comparatively, BDS is only at the beginning of its trek. Its fast start and ongoing achievements should bring hope and pride to those involved in the movement. They should also raise some serious second thoughts in the minds of those Israelis who think Netanyahu and his government of ideologues can prevent their country’s increasing isolation.
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:28 pm

If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered to be anti-Semitic, if any number of internationals who have joined thus struggle from various parts of the world are also considered anti-Semitic and if Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination are so accused as well, then it would appear that no oppositional move that can take place without risking the accusation of anti-Semitism. That accusation becomes a way of discrediting a bid for self-determination, at which point we have to ask what political purpose the radical misuse of that accusation has assumed in the stifling of a movement for political self-determination.

Why I Support the BDS Movement
by Alan Wieder / March 2nd, 2013

There has been a good amount of media attention surrounding Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department and a student-run group called Students for Justice in Palestine hosting a forum on the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction Movement (BDS) featuring Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler. Immediately, there were critical cries coming from the Anti-Defamation League, New York politicians, and of course the ubiquitous Alan Dershowitz. As I have read about the controversy and subsequently the event, I am reminded of how hard it is to be critical of Israel in the United States. And that is exacerbated when you are Jewish. Recently, I published an article titled, “Soccer and Societal Bigotry: Israeli Style,” in Left Hook: A Critical Review of Sports and Society. I thought that the article was rather mild as it criticized the overt racism of supporters of the team Beitar Jerusalem and made connections to Israel’s oppression of Palestine.

Racism in Israeli soccer corresponds directly to the bigotry that is prevalent in Israeli society. In Israel, however, the racism is magnified because of the discrimination and oppression of Palestinians, a practice that some people around the World, including the prestigious Bertrand Russell Tribunal, refer to as apartheid.

Okay, so using the “A” word invites condemnation. I know that. And while I was well aware of the hatred that is spewed toward those who criticize Israel, I wasn’t ready for the venom that followed the article from some of the people with whom I grew up in a small, Jewish enclave of a larger suburb on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. Comments by a close childhood friend represent the milder attitude.

Not sure why you pick Israel to pick on when there are so many countries doing so many things worse and at the same time not providing most of their citizens with the freedoms Israel provides its minorities. Israel has more than its share of critics for such a small nation just trying to survive under the constant threat of extinction.

As a Jew you just don’t criticize Israel.

It was another person who immigrated to Israel shortly after high school that provided me with a personal reminder of why BDS is so important. Israeli oppression is getting more rather than less harsh – in both dispositions and actions. My old classmate offered numerous responses to my article and what he viewed as my impotent and harmful leftist views.

On writing about Israeli racism:

By singling out Israel (out of every nation on earth), I believe you have a broader agenda i.e., to demonize the Jewish State. It is a sickness no less than the “bigotry” about which you purport to write.

While he made a point of telling me that he wasn’t calling me a self-hating Jew, he did say:

Your fake attachment to Israeli Jews is evident by your zealous allegiance to a larger group of fake people and others (Jew-haters and Israel bashers), who are enemies of Israel and the Jewish people, enemies who want us dead. Who loudly and daily call for our destruction. You are proud of this connection to these people and stand by them. You should be ashamed of yourself.

My classmate took on violence and Palestinians:

If people come to apply the harshest of violence on you — to take your life — you have the perfect right and obligation to stop them. This we do — no apologies. Sorry we have to because we value life. But thank God we can defend ourselves. Defend ourselves against real criminals, killers. This is the real world here not some ivory tower parlor chat. Ever see bus bomb victims — big-time burns — women, children — civilians? I have. Maybe you don’t know it but we live surrounded by killers — beasts. What, do you think these people stage peaceful sit-ins like the sixties? It is violence plain and simple.

My classmate on The Wall and again his view of Palestinian people:

Wall? What wall? Do you mean the barrier that stopped Palestinian Arab suicide bombers for coming into my town and blowing people to bits? Yes my town. Don’t worry that wall will come down when Palestinian Arab terrorism ceases. You can’t occupy land that already belongs to you. It is disputed land. Resolution 194 is a code for the overwhelming of Israel with millions of Arabs thereby ending the Jewish majority that exists today. Right, like that’ll happen.

At one point I commented that he sounds a lot like the apologists of apartheid in South Africa:

Heavens! “people” “accuse” me or Israelis of apartheid. Big deal. Does it make it so just because “people” think so. “People” have been “accusing” Israel (the Jews) of many things.: of killing non-Jewish children for their blood to use in the making of matza, of being behind 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist outrage (don’t tell me you believe that there is even the slightest grain of truth to that load of crap), killing Jesus, owning all the banks, controlling the media, starting all the wars and on and on and on. Is it all true because people, even many people believe it? No and hell no. People will believe whatever they want to, I don’t care, we aren’t here to win any popularity contest.

So how does one even begin to respond on any level? If we turn back to the BDS controversy at Brooklyn College, however, we see that the academics and politicians who view BDS as hateful and anti-Semitic, sound much like my former classmate.

First, it might be appropriate to review some of the brief history of the controversy surrounding the BDS forum at Brooklyn College. As noted above, when the event was announced there was an immediate, intense, negative reaction. Jewish organizations in the United States are very clear in their criticism of BDS and the Anti-Defamation League has spoken out against events at various universities including Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania where the ADF has equated BDS with strident anti-Semitism. The organization has objected directly to university officials where students have voted for divestment and their critiques of former President Carter and Bishop Tutu have been very loud. When Brooklyn College announced the forum, ADF took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times where they equated the right of Palestinians to return to their land with anti-Semitism.

To be fair to the critics of the BDS forum, their public issue was that the institution, Brooklyn College, should not be sponsoring a political point of view. It is interesting, though, because Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, one of the most vocal critics, did not complain about the very same Political Science department sponsoring a lecture that he presented at Brooklyn College. As one professor recalled: “The department has sponsored hundreds of events, including Alan Dershowitz’s 2008 Konefsky Lecture where he defended torture, where there has been no one presenting the other side.”

The call for fairness, though, appears spurious when one considers the language of the critics. Before the forum took place, Dershowitz referred to the event as a “propaganda hate orgy.” He has labeled BDS academic boycotts as “immoral, illegal and despicable” while at the same time distorting truth saying that the organization blacklists and boycotts Jewish Israeli professors. While it is beyond the scope of this essay – academic institutions, not individual professors, are boycotted. The three tenets of BDS are:

· Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.

· Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.

· Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

These are the topics that both Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler outlined in their presentations as the former said: “It is time for Palestinians’ freedom, justice and equality.”

But between the time that the forum was first advertised and the actual staging of the event, it was local politicians who spewed the most venom. Their words joined those of my school classmate. In an article by Chemi Shaley in Haaretz, he wrote about the New York officials who had argued that the forum was a call for the end of Israel.

After 19 “progressive” politicians – including four members of the US Congress – wrote a letter to the College against the sponsorship, things took a turn for the worse when ten New York City Council members threatened to cut funding to the College – a widely respected academic institution sometimes referred to as “the poor man’s Harvard” – if it did not reverse its sponsorship. “We believe in the principle of academic freedom. However we also believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong” the council members’ letter said.

Some of these public voices became harsh as they misinterpreted history. Council member Alan Maisel said: “We’re talking about the potential for a second Holocaust here.” The most vocal critic was democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind. At a public meeting preceding the forum he was ultra-clear on his views of BDS and Palestinians. He argued that the goal of BDS was to end Israel’s existence through a “philosophical war demonizing Jews and denying the rights of Jews to self-determination and equality.” Hikund labeled BDS as “the modern incarnation of anti-Semitism – same stink, different excuse.” Finally, his final assertions play to America’s definition of terrorism.

The BDS movement’s goal is to de-legitimize Israel’s existence. Like its philosophical brothers in Hamas, BDS aims to eliminate the State of Israel from the map. Only its tactics differ from its terrorist cousins: While Hamas blows up buses of innocent men, women and children, BDS works to isolate Israelis, to cut them off from business. Yes, BDS is the benevolent face of anti-Semitism. They don’t suggest killing Israeli citizens with bombs; they prefer starvation via isolation. They think Hamas and Hezbollah are nice organizations, and they probably feel the same way about Al Qaeda!

Slogans, code words, whatever you want to call them: Interesting, though, is that Hikund accuses BDS of doing what the rest of the world sees as Israel’s actions in oppressing the Palestinian people – eliminate, isolate, cut off from business, killing innocent men, women, and children. This is the same New York State Assemblyman who recently celebrated at a Purim party wearing black face makeup, an Afro wig, and a basketball jersey. When asked about it on CBS radio news, Hikund said that he did not mean to offend anyone and that it “never crossed his mind that it might be offensive.”

But the words and the actions of Hikund, Dershowitz, and the others who tried to prohibit the BDS forum and punish Brooklyn College are more than offensive as they falsify history and ignore the present in terms of Israeli oppression of Palestine. Chemi Shaley, previously cited above, analyzes their actions.

They make mountains out molehills, carve Nazis out of Palestinians, evoke pogroms and massacres from each and every violent incident. They don’t acknowledge the occupation, see nothing wrong with settlements or “Price Tag” violence, turn a blind eye to 46 years of Palestinian disenfranchisement, regardless of whose fault it is. They recognize only one truth, their own, and view all the rest as heresy and abomination. By their narrow definitions, no less than 50% of Israelis who voted in the last elections for parties that support a two-state solution should be condemned – possibly by the U.S. Senate itself – as Israel-hating, Arab-loving defeatists.

The show did go on, however, with mild protests and thoughtful, political lectures from both Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler. Barghouti was one of the 2005 founders of the BDS Movement and he also was a cofounder of the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Corresponding to the subtitle of this article, he explained to the audience that the voracious attempts to ban the BDS Forum were in fact a systematic program to “undermine an open dialogue about Israel’s conduct and Palestinian resistance undertaken in order to demoralize those who support and take part in it.”

Barghouti spoke about post-1948 Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people and cited Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, to argue that the oppression had dehumanized both Israelis and Palestinians. He concluded by outlining BDS successes since 2005 and compared the Movement to the worldwide Anti-Apartheid Movement that was one of the elements that led to the first democratic South African election in 2004. Appropriately, Barghouti’s latest book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, was reviewed by one of the Worlds champions of peace, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I have been to Palestine where I’ve witnessed the racially segregated housing and the humiliation of Palestinians at military roadblocks. I can’t help but remember the conditions we experienced in South Africa under apartheid. We could not have achieved our freedom without the help of people around the world using the nonviolent means of boycotts and divestment to compel governments and institutions to withdraw their support for the apartheid regime. Omar Barghouti’s lucid and morally compelling book is perfectly timed to make a major contribution to this urgently needed global campaign for justice, freedom and peace.

Omar Barghouti concluded his talk by explaining how important Israeli partners are to the cooperation and resistance of the BDS movement – he referred to it as “co-resistance.”

Judith Butler’s talk was two speeches in one – freedom of speech and the importance of the BDS Movement. First, the essence of the Movement according to Butler:

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is, in fact, a non-violent movement; it seeks to use established legal means to achieve its goals; and it is, interestingly enough, the largest Palestinian civic movement at this time. That means that the largest Palestinian civic movement is a non-violent one that justifies its actions through recourse to international law. Further, I want to underscore that this is also a movement whose stated core principles include the opposition to every form of racism, including both state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism.

Through a further discussion on BDS and anti-Semitism, Butler connects to the “The Difficulties of Jews Criticizing Israel” portion of this essay.

If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered to be anti-Semitic, if any number of internationals who have joined thus struggle from various parts of the world are also considered anti-Semitic and if Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination are so accused as well, then it would appear that no oppositional move that can take place without risking the accusation of anti-Semitism. That accusation becomes a way of discrediting a bid for self-determination, at which point we have to ask what political purpose the radical misuse of that accusation has assumed in the stifling of a movement for political self-determination.

While some of my classmates from years ago as well as too high a percentage of American Jews still define Palestinians as terrorists, the points argued by Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler make the mission clear. Not only must we all speak out for Palestine, but we also must support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction Movement. North Americans like Angela Davis and Naomi Klein have brilliantly argued supportively for BDS, but it is the voices of Palestinian and Israeli allies that emphasize the importance of supporters throughout the world campaigning for BDS. For those who have doubts about ideology or daily events on the ground in Palestine, please view the two films Five Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers that were nominated this year for Best Documentary Picture at the Academy Awards. Palestinians and Israelis working on the ground against Israeli oppression include activists like Mustafa Barghouthi, Neve Gordon, Ilan Pappe, and Michael Warschawski. Although their views are not unilateral, they all do believe that Israel is the oppressor and that there needs to be support and action through BDS.


Mustafa Barghouthi:

Let us be clear: Israel has been working around the clock to destroy the option of an independent Palestinian state and, by extension, the two-state solution. But that does not leave the Palestinian people without an alternative, as some Zionist leaders undoubtedly hope. The single democratic state (not the single binational state), in which all citizens are equal in rights and duties regardless of their religious affiliations and origins, is an alternative to the attempt to force the Palestinians to accept slavery under occupation.

Ilan Pappe:

Today, Israel is a formidable settler-colonialist state, unwilling to transform or compromise, and eager to crush by whatever means necessary any resistance to its control and rule in historical Palestine. Beginning with the ethnic cleansing of 80 percent of Palestine in 1948, and Israel’s occupation of the remaining 20 percent of the land in 1967, Palestinians in Israel are now enclaved in mega-prisons, bantustans, and besieged cantons, and singled out through discriminatory policies… The Israeli settler state continues to further colonize and uproot the indigenous people of Palestine.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions

Neve Gordon:

The only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded few results… I have decided to support the BDS movement… The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law, and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination… Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians – my two boys included – does not grow up in an apartheid regime.

Michael Warschawski:

BDS is addressed to the Israeli public. At this historical juncture it is the only way to provoke a change in Israel’s attitude toward occupation and colonization. If one compares it to the anti-apartheid BDS campaign that took twenty years to start bearing fruit, one cannot but be surprised how efficient the anti-Israeli occupation campaign has already been – even in Israel, we can already witness its first effects.

Palestinians, Israelis, and people throughout the world have witnessed Israel’s exacerbating occupation of Palestine. While no one condones suicide bombers, Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people is not a debatable issue. The critics of the Brooklyn Forum were not truthful but rather ideological – there are not two sides to the issue and that means that we must speak out and act as allies of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.

Via Fox News: "Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz alleged Friday that Media Matters has "crossed the line into anti-semitism" by tolerating an employee who uses charged language to criticize supporters of Israel...".* Cenk Uygur and Ben Mankiewicz discuss on The Young Turks. Is Dershowitz right wing when it comes to foreign policy? Does he want war with Iran?
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:04 am

The Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement
BDS has become a key battleground in the struggle over the future of Israel/Palestine.

Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss June 9, 2010 | This article appeared in the June 28, 2010 edition of The Nation.

In April the student senate at the University of California, Berkeley, twice held all-night sessions to debate a proposal urging the school to divest from two US military companies "materially and militarily profiting" from the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Hundreds of people packed the hall, and statements in support of the measure were read aloud from leaders, including Noam Chomsky, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein and Alice Walker. In the end the divestment measure failed (the senate majority of 13 to 5 was not enough to overturn the student government president's veto), but the outcome was surely less significant than the furor over the issue. Following related battles last year at Hampshire College and the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berkeley measure was yet another signal that the divestment initiative, part of a broader movement popularly known as BDS, for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, has become a key battleground in the grassroots struggle over the future of Israel/Palestine.

"We're at a super-exciting moment, truly a turning point," says Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace, an activist organization that supports selective divestment from companies profiting from the occupation. "For the first time we're seeing a serious debate of divestment at a major public university." BDS supporters say the movement has the potential to transform international opinion in much the way that the divestment movement in the 1980s isolated the South African apartheid regime. Or as Tutu wrote to the Berkeley students:

The same issue of equality is what motivates the divestment movement of today, which tries to end Israel's 43 year long occupation and the unequal treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them. The abuses they face are real, and no person should be offended by principled, morally consistent, nonviolent acts to oppose them. It is no more wrong to call out Israel in particular for its abuses than it was to call out the Apartheid regime in particular for its abuses.

Opponents of BDS see just that threat—that Israel will be isolated. They say that BDS unfairly singles out Israel for conduct that other states are also guilty of and that it seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state in the eyes of the world, thereby threatening Israel's existence. Some argue that grassroots actions put the emphasis on the wrong target. As Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center said on Democracy Now! in March, "It's the United States government you've got to look to, not private industry or private commerce. So that's one really big difference simply at strategic and tactical levels."

When did the BDS movement begin, why is it growing and what does it want?

The campaign traces its origins to a July 2004 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (the World Court), which found Israel's separation wall in the West Bank to be "contrary to international law." The ICJ also recommended that the parts of the wall built inside the occupied territories be dismantled and that Palestinians affected by the wall be compensated. When a year passed with no sign that the opinion would be enforced, a wide-ranging coalition of more than 170 organizations representing Palestinian civil society issued a call for boycott, divestment and sanction of Israel "until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights." Compliance meant three things: ending the occupation, recognizing equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel and respecting the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194 of 1948.

The "call" (which can be found at bdsmovement.net) was notable for unifying the Palestinian grassroots and for the simplicity and coherence of its platform. BDS was seen as an "essential component" for shifting the playing field in the Palestinians' favor after the slow death of the peace process, the Israeli settlement expansion and the inability of the international community to hold Israel accountable.

Boycotts are not a new tactic for Palestinians. As far back as the 1936–39 revolt against the British Mandate, Palestinians incorporated general strikes and boycotts into their struggle. During the first intifada in the late 1980s, they boycotted Israeli goods, and the West Bank town of Beit Sahour led efforts to refuse to pay Israeli taxes that helped finance the occupation. And in 2001 an international boycott effort was launched after the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. It quickly met forceful pushback, notably in a 2002 charge by Harvard president Lawrence Summers that divestment was anti-Semitic "in effect, if not intent."

Today the BDS movement is loosely coordinated by a body called the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC), which is made up of nongovernmental organizations representing Palestinian civil society. The BNC is not affiliated with any political party (though it has been endorsed by some) and does not take positions on issues that fall outside the specific principles of the "call." Thus it does not endorse either a one-state or two-state solution to the conflict.

Israel's 2008–09 attack on Gaza spurred the campaign in the United States and around the world. "The most important thing for the Palestinian movement is the rise of the solidarity movement worldwide after the war crimes in Gaza," Palestinian activist and former Palestinian Authority presidential candidate Mustafa Barghouthi said earlier this year at a demonstration in the West Bank. "Boycott is the best way of changing the balance of forces. Military force will not work, because of the imbalance of forces, but also because it is not right. I don't think Israel will change its policy unless it hurts, and BDS will hurt it."

Most recently, Israel's raid on the Free Gaza flotilla, which killed at least nine activists, has added fuel to the campaign. The attack on a humanitarian ship seemed to reignite much of the international furor from the Gaza invasion of the year before, as it highlighted Israel's inhumane policy of collective punishment in the besieged territory. And with this latest outrage came even louder calls for accountability.

BDS represents three strategies: boycotts are commonly carried out by individuals, divestment by institutions and sanctions by governments. For example, organizers have called on people to avoid buying products made in Israeli settlements; on churches to sell stocks of companies such as Caterpillar, which makes the infamous D9 bulldozer used to demolish Palestinian homes and fields; and on politicians to make conditional or end US aid to Israel. BDS's proponents argue that unless Israel experiences material, political and moral pressure, it will maintain the status quo. Nobel laureates Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Maguire (Corrigan), Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Jody Williams made this point in a letter supporting the Berkeley divestment bill:

We stand united in our belief that divesting from companies that provide significant support for the Israeli military provides moral and strategic stewardship of tuition and taxpayer-funded public education money. We are all peace makers, and we believe that no amount of dialogue without economic pressure can motivate Israel to change its policy of using overwhelming force against Palestinian civilians.

The movement has won adherents by saying that it will accept any gesture of boycott or divestment that Westerners are willing to make. "If you only want to boycott an egg, we want you to boycott an egg," said Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which is part of the BNC, during a tour of America last year to drum up support.

Even the Palestinian Authority—never celebrated for its connection to the grassroots—has made a nod toward the movement, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad vowing to empty Palestinian homes of goods made in the settlements. But BDS's biggest victories have come in the West and have involved divestments from businesses profiting from investment in the West Bank, where 2.5 million Palestinians live under an occupation whose hundreds of armed checkpoints and separate roadways for Jewish colonists have led some South Africans to declare that the system is worse than apartheid. French multinational Veolia Transport was targeted for its role in building a light-rail system that will connect West Jerusalem to settlements in the occupied territories. Veolia dropped out of the project following an escalating international campaign against the firm, during which the Dutch ASN Bank severed ties to Veolia. Israeli diamond merchant Lev Leviev was also targeted because of his funding of settlements. Last year the US investment firm BlackRock divested itself of stock in Leviev's Africa-Israel company, and Britain canceled plans to move its Tel Aviv embassy into a Leviev-owned building. Similarly, the Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank recently divested its shares in the Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems, which supplies components for the separation wall. Wiltrud Rösch-Metzler, vice president of Pax Christi Germany, who helped lead the campaign, called it "a huge success.... [Deutsche Bank] went out of their way to list numerous standards and international ethical commitments to which the bank is party, highlighting how Elbit investments would violate them all."

The immediate aftermath of the flotilla attack saw a surge in BDS activity across Europe. Most notably, Britain's largest union, UNITE, passed a motion to "vigorously promote a policy of divestment from Israeli companies," along with a boycott of Israeli goods and services. At the same time, the Swedish Port Workers Union announced it would refuse to load or unload any ships coming to or from Israel for nine days, to protest the flotilla raid.

In the United States, BDS has been percolating among activist groups, churches and campuses for several years. Since 2005 the Presbyterian Church (USA) has undertaken what it calls a "phased, selective divestment" process aimed at five companies benefiting from the occupation [see Hasdai Westbrook, "The Israel Divestment Debate," May 8, 2006]. Again, the West Bank is the focus. Adalah-NY, a New York–based justice group, regularly leads pickets of Leviev's Madison Avenue jewelry store and pressured UNICEF and the humanitarian organization Oxfam to distance themselves from Leviev. The peace group Code Pink has led a campaign called "Stolen Beauty" that targets Ahava, a cosmetics company based in a West Bank settlement that uses ingredients from the Dead Sea.

"What we've seen in the past two years is a rapidly growing, diverse movement dedicated to universal human rights and international law," says David Hosey, a spokesman for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of grassroots organizations that supports BDS. "On campuses and in communities across the United States, people are sending a clear message that if the US government won't hold Israel accountable for violations of Palestinian human rights, then civil society will step up and do the job."

Two of the biggest divestment fights in the past year in some ways could not have been more different—Hampshire College in Massachusetts and the Toronto International Film Festival. One year ago Hampshire students ignited a firestorm with a campus divestment campaign that drew national attention, including calls from Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to student organizers on their cellphones. The Hampshire board of directors voted to divest from six military companies involved in the occupation and to adopt a "social responsibility" screen for Hampshire's investments. Though the administration denied that the divestiture was specifically aimed at the Israeli occupation, the headlines helped catalyze the national student BDS movement. In November the college hosted a divestment organizing conference of student leaders from more than forty campuses, including Berkeley; UC, San Diego; the University of Arizona; and Carleton University in Ottawa—whose campaigns all made news this past spring. The movement won a notable victory in June when the student body of Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington—Rachel Corrie's alma mater—voted to call on the college to divest from companies profiting from the occupation and to ban the use of Caterpillar equipment on campus. The resolution passed with nearly 80 percent of the vote. Evergreen junior Anna Simonton explained that the issue resonated across the student body because of the US role in the conflict. "This issue is something we're all complicit in," she said. "It's our money and our taxes."

At the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, movie premieres were overshadowed by the controversy over a "city to city" promotion by the festival that paired Toronto with Tel Aviv. In a "Toronto Declaration," critics said the showcase had been pushed by the Israeli consulate as part of its efforts to "rebrand" Israel after the horrific public relations fallout from the Gaza war months earlier [see Horowitz and Weiss, "American Jews Rethink Israel," November 2, 2009].

The response from Israel's supporters was immediate and forceful. Big-name stars, including Sacha Baron Cohen and Jerry Seinfeld, came out against the declaration, and so did filmmakers David Cronenberg and Ivan Reitman. Dan Adler, a former executive at the Creative Artists Agency, worked with the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and United Jewish Appeal of Toronto to push the claim that the declaration was a boycott of the festival and a blacklist of Israeli artists. The declaration was neither, but the response was a sign of where the battle was headed, with many Israel supporters describing BDS as a Trojan horse aimed at delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state.

In January the Reut Institute, a Tel Aviv think tank, issued a report describing BDS as part of a campaign "to demonize Israel." The movement has had limited "practical success," the Reut study said, but it has been "highly successful in generating publicity and in mobilizing anti-Israel activism, in effect uniting anti-Zionists with critics of specific Israeli policies." The risk, Reut went on, was to Israel's image: "that such campaigns will create an equivalency between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa that penetrates the mainstream of public and political consciousness."

This fear was echoed by Asher Fredman, a commentator on the website of the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot, who described the BDS movement as a "soft war" against Israel. "The point that must be internalized is that the soft war constitutes not simply a nuisance or even an economic threat," Fredman warned. "It is a process that could play a major role in shaping the future status quo between Israel and the Palestinians."

Many American Jewish community groups have taken action against the movement on a similar basis. The delegitimization worry has generated some surprising alliances between liberal Zionist groups and right-wing hawks. BDS supporters counter that it is Israel's actions, not the protest, that are delegitimizing Israel in the eyes of the public. Ali Abunimah, author, activist and co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website, said at the Hampshire BDS conference, "Israel's self-image as a liberal Jewish and democratic state is impossible to maintain against the reality of a militarized, ultranationalist, sectarian Jewish settler colony that has to carry out regular massacres of indigenous civilians in order to maintain its control. Zionism simply cannot bomb, kidnap, assassinate, expel, demolish, settle and lie its way to legitimacy and acceptance."

Some liberal Jewish organizations and individuals have adopted a now-is-not-the-time policy. Naomi Paiss of the New Israel Fund says she respects colleagues who do not buy goods made in the territories, but she believes an "official" boycott of companies in the territories would be impossible to implement, given that major Israeli companies and the Israeli government itself are involved. "We think it's a delegitimizing tactic, inflammatory, won't end the occupation and isn't productive," she e-mailed. Cora Weiss, a longtime liberal leader who championed Hampshire's South Africa divestment initiative in the 1970s, when she was on the board, says BDS is too broad-brush. "César Chávez led a focused boycott—grapes—and for several years no one ate grapes," she recalls. "That had an impact."

Americans for Peace Now has also criticized BDS as being counterproductive and even anti-Semitic. The longtime peace group said in a recent statement that the campaign creates a "circle the wagons" reaction in the Jewish community:

Such a response is understandable, since much of the pressure for such campaigns comes from historically virulently anti-Israel sources that are often not interested in Israeli security concerns or Palestinian behavior. This in turn creates very real and understandable worries about global anti-Semitism and the perception that the campaigns are not truly (or only) about Israeli policies but rather reflect a deep-seated hatred for and rejection of Israel.

Parts of this ad hoc coalition went into action during the Berkeley divestment debate. J Street, the new alternative Israel lobby, joined forces with such right-wing groups as the Anti-Defamation League, the David Project and StandWithUs\SF to decry the original Berkeley senate bill. The issue is "complex," the coalition warned, and that "complexity should be reflected in the dialogue on campus rather than singling out one side or another for condemnation and punishment."

According to the Jewish Daily Forward, Berkeley Hillel, a Jewish campus organization, "coordinated a comprehensive national lobbying campaign consisting of a teach-in, face-to-face meetings with student senators and an intervention by a Nobel laureate [Elie Wiesel], all aimed at robbing the divestment supporters of three senate votes." Adam Naftalin-Kelman, Berkeley Hillel's newly installed executive director, said the strategy was devised at a roundtable convened by Hillel and attended by representatives of local branches of J Street, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Jewish Community Relations Council, as well as local rabbis and Israel's consul general in San Francisco. This strategy included circulating antidivestment talking points that urged students to reframe the debate as an attack on the Jewish community and to avoid talking about the particulars of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

But Jewish organizations face insurgent generational forces over the issue. Some students in J Street's college organizations quietly support BDS as a nonviolent means of doing something to end the oppression of Palestinians. This tension was even on display at J Street's organizing conference in October. During a student workshop called "Reckoning With the Radical Left on Campus: Alternatives to Boycotts and Divestments," there was reportedly considerable interest in divestment campaigns targeting the occupation. At the same time, "J Street U," the student branch of J Street, is officially opposed to divestment and has begun an "Invest, Don't Divest" campaign, which encourages students to "Invest $2 for 2 States" as an alternative to BDS activities on campus.

By opposing direct action, the older generation is arguing that government must take the lead through a peace process that so far has resulted in little more than further Israeli colonization. "I find boycotts kind of distasteful. It's a little bit like collective punishment," says Ralph Seliger, long associated with Meretz USA, a left Zionist organization. "That probably wouldn't be very emotionally satisfying to someone who was upset about the issue. But I think it's part of growing up to understand that the world is not here to give you emotional satisfaction, and in this issue there is both complexity and perplexity, and you need to learn as much as you can, and be receptive to all sides, and be discerning."

Portions of the BDS call have been unsettling even to longtime advocates for Middle East peace. Its support for the refugees' right of return is a deal breaker for many liberal Zionists, who believe Israel needs to maintain a Jewish majority. Other activists have said BDS should focus primarily on the US role in the conflict. Israeli writer and activist Joseph Dana says that while the campaign has informed people around the world about the issue, almost all US military aid to Israel winds up in the United States with military manufacturers, so "it would be more productive for the BDS campaigns to focus on these companies," especially if American citizens are doing the pressuring.

Perhaps the most controversial part of the BDS movement, even for some supporters, has been the call for a cultural and academic boycott. Organizers of the boycott explain that it is directed at institutions, not individuals, meaning that people are encouraged to boycott academic conferences, events or products (i.e., films, talks or performances) sponsored by the Israeli government or Israeli universities but not individual academics based on their politics. MIT scientist Nancy Kanwisher recently circulated anonymous letters of support for an academic boycott from two colleagues. One colleague said that while refusing to support Israeli academic research, "I will continue to collaborate with, and host, Israeli scientific colleagues on an individual basis."

Alisa Solomon, a noted critic of Israel's actions and editor, with Tony Kushner, of Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, says she supports BDS but draws the line at academic boycott. "I believe in and support a lot of [the BDS movement]; I just see a lot of different strains and approaches and am enthusiastic about some (economic boycotts against settlement products, companies participating in and profiting from occupation, plus think we should cut military aid, etc.), generally supportive of others ("don't play Sun City" efforts), and have qualms about academic/cultural in this direction both for the free expression reasons and because it requires declaring some people kosher and some not," she wrote in an e-mail. "I prefer direct to symbolic action, so taking money away from occupation seems to me a far better effort than denouncing, say, a choreographer."

For their part, supporters of the academic boycott say that Israeli universities are implicated in the occupation because they are intimately connected with the Israeli government in ways that outstrip even American university contributions to the Vietnam War effort a generation ago. The argument was lent support last year when Rivka Carmi, president of Ben-Gurion University, attacked faculty member (and frequent Nation contributor) Neve Gordon for advocating BDS in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. Gordon had crossed "the boundaries of academic freedom," Carmi said, and she questioned his ability to work at the school: "After his...extreme description of Israel as an 'apartheid' state, how can he, in good faith, create the collaborative atmosphere necessary for true academic research and teaching?"

The controversy came to Tel Aviv University this spring when novelists Margaret Atwood and Amitav Ghosh were named as recipients of a $1 million prize from the Dan David Foundation, which is headquartered at the university. Boycott activists, including students from the besieged Gaza Strip, implored Atwood and Ghosh to refuse the award because of its relationship to the university. In the end, the writers accepted the prize and criticized the activists in their joint acceptance speech: "the all-or-nothings want to bully us into being their wholly owned puppets." They also quoted Anthony Appiah, president of PEN American Center, who said, "We have to stand, as we have stood from the very beginning, against the very idea of a cultural boycott. We have to continue to say: Only connect." After she got home, Atwood wrote a piece for Ha'aretz saying that Israel's greatest threat was now internal: "The concept of Israel as a humane and democratic state is in serious trouble."

Another prominent focus of the BDS campaign has been on musicians. In recent months Leonard Cohen played Tel Aviv despite an appeal to him to cancel, while Gil Scott-Heron and Elvis Costello pulled out of their Israeli appearances. Costello explained on his website that his decision was "a matter of instinct and conscience" and that "there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung." The Forward recently quoted an anonymous music industry insider who said more than fifteen performers have recently refused to play in Israel, and in the week after the flotilla attack three more popular groups—the Klaxons, Gorillaz and the Pixies—canceled upcoming performances to protest the raid.

In the end many in Israel, and its supporters in the United States, return to the fear that BDS is advancing the likelihood of the dissolution of the Jewish state—the delegitimization issue. "The BDS movement seems dominated by those whose endgame is one state, not two," Meretz USA executive director Ron Skolnik wrote in Israel Horizons, a liberal Zionist publication. The movement "apparently wishes to build on legitimate international opposition to the 1967 occupation in order to undermine Israel's independent existence."

Rebecca Vilkomerson says that is not the case. Her group, Jewish Voice for Peace, does not take a position on the two-state versus one-state solution. Many Jewish students who spoke out against the Berkeley measure, she said, objected in highly subjective terms, saying, "We feel marginalized, we feel scared, we feel intimidated, we feel alienated" by the legislation. According to Vilkomerson, the best response to this came from Tom Pessah, an Israeli PhD student at Berkeley and co-author of the bill, who said that it was "OK" to have such feelings. He says he also felt uncomfortable when he first learned how much of his freedom in Israel was based on Palestinian dispossession—and so he feared what justice would entail.

Such anxieties would seem to accompany any transformative social movement, and BDS supporters are beginning to acknowledge them. Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouthi addressed the issue in his appeal to the Berkeley students on grounds they might best understand. He has lived his life under occupation, he wrote; he and his community seek freedom: "Do not stand in the way like those angry Alabama students 50 years ago blocking integration. You have, I trust, nothing in common with those students but misplaced fear."

The Berkeley bill failed, but the all-night debates only seemed to give the movement confidence that the next vote will go differently. We might not have to wait long to find out: six more American university student bodies are said to be taking up the call in the near future.

Boycotting Israel
As celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking joined the BDS movement against Israel, we examine the impact of this movement.
Inside Story Last Modified: 10 May 2013 11:12

Stephen Hawking has become the latest high-profile figure to support an academic boycott of Israel. The world-renowned physicist has pulled out of a conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Hawking said he had hoped to express his opinion on the prospect for peace, but was persuaded to withdraw by Palestinian academics.

A letter added: 'Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.'

Hawking's decision marks another victory for the BDS movement, the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions, against Israeli academic institutions.

Conference organisers issued a response, saying: 'The academic boycott against Israel is in our view outrageous and improper, Israel is a democracy in which all individuals are free to express their opinions, whatever they may be. The imposition of a boycott is incompatible with open, democratic dialogue.'

The BDS campaign was started in 2005 by an alliance of more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups.

BDS campaigners have called for various boycotts against Israel, inspired they say, by those used in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. A growing number of public figures and celebrities, including Bono, Stevie Wonder and Snoop Dogg have expressed support for the campaign, or refused to perform in Israel.

BDS also lobbies against businesses that sell goods it says are produced in illegal Israeli settlements.

Palestinians have been enjoying a broader support from the international community. In November, the United Nations upgraded Palestine's status from what it called an entity to non-member observer state, as of April, 132 of the 193 member states have formally recognised the State of Palestine.

Israel, most of Europe, the US, Canada and Australia do not, and just this week, Google put Palestine on the virtual map, changing the tagline on its website from Palestinian territories to Palestine.

So what are the implications of these protests? And will they make any difference?

Joining Inside Story, with presenter Dareen Abughaida, to discuss this are guests: Sami Hermez, member of the BDS movement, supporting the academic and cultural boycott of Israel; Larry Greenfield, a long-time Jewish activist and former executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; and activist Ben White, who specialises in Palestinian-Israeli affairs.

"This is a fantastic move … because Stephen Hawkings is a mainstream academic that is very well known amongst the general population … and so when someone like that boycotts Israel, you have the possibility of a snowball effect … it is a real important moment."

- Sami Hermez, a member of the BDS movement, supporting the acadmic and cultural boycott of Israel
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:33 am

The Case for Sanctions
Why You Should Support the Boycott Israel Movement
Recently, the government of South Africa endorsed sanctions against Israeli goods, cultural events and academic exchanges. This move, made by a government founded in opposition to a policy of exclusion, discrimination and persecution very similar to the regime Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank currently live under, is a major advance for the movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The policy of occupation, ever more commonly referred to as Israel’s version of apartheid, is the reason the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement exists. Birthed during the first Intifada in the late 1980s, this movement continues to gain support from around the world. Indeed, support for the movement has already surpassed a comparable moment in the historical movement against South African apartheid the BDS call is based on.

Despite the movement’s recent successes, the drive to expand it remains an uphill battle. In addition to the harsh opposition of Tel Aviv and its friends, there is a hesitation to join the boycott among many artists, performers, academics and others whose support is essential. Furthermore, the support from governments, unions, and churches, while gathering steam, must expand if the goals of the movement are to be reached. In a repeat of the arguments of many who came late (if at all) to the boycott of South African apartheid, there are those that argue for engagement with the oppressor state, not a boycott and sanctions.

That is why a recently published book from Verso is so important. Simply titled The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, this collection of essays by organizers and champions of the BDS movement provides clear arguments for international sanctions against Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. Always emphasizing the grassroots nature of the campaign, the essays in this book include writers from Palestine, Israel, South Africa, and the United States plus several other countries. Some are academics; some are professional writers; some are neither. All are organizers.

All too often, the voices of the trod upon and underrepresented are drowned out by the considerably louder and better-financed powerful of the world. This has been the case throughout history. This is certainly the case when it comes to the situation in Palestine. Voices supportive of Israeli occupation and its accompanying brutality rule the media in Israel, the United States and much of Europe. Only rarely do Palestinian and other voices opposed to Israel’s rampage through Palestine break into the mainstream discourse. This is not an accident. Just like the apartheid regimes in South Africa and the United States maintained their oppressive rule with the assistance of much of the mainstream media, the Israeli government depends on compliant media to spread its view of the occupation. By doing so, the parameters of the discussion become limited to whether the occupation is being carried out humanely and efficiently, not whether it should be carried out at all. This is why grassroots popular opposition campaigns that involve millions of people around the world are so important. Just like the black freedom movement ended apartheid in the United States and South Africa, so will a Palestinian liberation movement end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While the frontlines are naturally in Palestine, the support of a worldwide movement is essential to the entire movement’s success. Historically, nothing proves this better than the multi-decade struggle against South African apartheid.

Some of the essays discuss the history of the movement, the debates within and without concerning its direction, and its politics. Others discuss the Israeli occupation, the Holocaust, and South African apartheid. One debate especially relevant to many liberal residents of the United States examines the manipulation of LBGT politics by the Israeli government to gain LBGT support for its apartheid regime. The essays are not just good reading; they are also an eloquent call to the world to give a damn.

In short, this excellent collection of essays is an essential text for anyone interested in why they should support the movement to boycott Israel. While Israel grows more repressive and less democratic, those that feel it the most are the Palestinians. Like their predecessors in South Africa, their freedom demands the support of the world’s people. The BDS campaign provides individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments with a very real way to support that freedom struggle. This book provides all of these elements with the inspiration to do so.

Iain Banks: why I'm supporting a cultural boycott of Israel
This week writer Iain Banks announced he has cancer and may have just months to live. Here he explains why, in 2010, he decided his novels would no longer be published in Israel

Iain M Banks
The Guardian, Friday 5 April 2013 14.00 EDT

Since the 2010 attack on the Turkish-led ­convoy to Gaza (pictured) in international waters, Iain Banks has ­instructed his agent not to sell the rights to his novels to ­Israeli publishers. Photograph: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP
I support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign because, especially in our instantly connected world, an injustice committed against one, or against one group of people, is an injustice against all, against every one of us; a collective injury.

My particular reason for participating in the cultural boycott of Israel is that, first of all, I can; I'm a writer, a novelist, and I produce works that are, as a rule, presented to the international market. This gives me a small extra degree of power over that which I possess as a (UK) citizen and a consumer. Secondly, where possible when trying to make a point, one ought to be precise, and hit where it hurts. The sports boycott of South Africa when it was still run by the racist apartheid regime helped to bring the country to its senses because the ruling Afrikaaner minority put so much store in their sporting prowess. Rugby and cricket in particular mattered to them profoundly, and their teams' generally elevated position in the international league tables was a matter of considerable pride. When they were eventually isolated by the sporting boycott – as part of the wider cultural and trade boycott – they were forced that much more persuasively to confront their own outlaw status in the world.

A sporting boycott of Israel would make relatively little difference to the self-esteem of Israelis in comparison to South Africa; an intellectual and cultural one might help make all the difference, especially now that the events of the Arab spring and the continuing repercussions of the attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla peace convoy have threatened both Israel's ability to rely on Egypt's collusion in the containment of Gaza, and Turkey's willingness to engage sympathetically with the Israeli regime at all. Feeling increasingly isolated, Israel is all the more vulnerable to further evidence that it, in turn, like the racist South African regime it once supported and collaborated with, is increasingly regarded as an outlaw state.

I was able to play a tiny part in South Africa's cultural boycott, ensuring that – once it thundered through to me that I could do so – my novels weren't sold there (while subject to an earlier contract, under whose terms the books were sold in South Africa, I did a rough calculation of royalties earned each year and sent that amount to the ANC). Since the 2010 attack on the Turkish-led convoy to Gaza in international waters, I've instructed my agent not to sell the rights to my novels to Israeli publishers. I don't buy Israeli-sourced products or food, and my partner and I try to support Palestinian-sourced products wherever possible.

It doesn't feel like much, and I'm not completely happy doing even this; it can sometimes feel like taking part in collective punishment (although BDS is, by definition, aimed directly at the state and not the people), and that's one of the most damning charges that can be levelled at Israel itself: that it engages in the collective punishment of the Palestinian people within Israel, and the occupied territories, that is, the West Bank and – especially – the vast prison camp that is Gaza. The problem is that constructive engagement and reasoned argument demonstrably have not worked, and the relatively crude weapon of boycott is pretty much all that's left. (To the question, "What about boycotting Saudi Arabia?" – all I can claim is that cutting back on my consumption of its most lucrative export was a peripheral reason for giving up the powerful cars I used to drive, and for stopping flying, some years ago. I certainly wouldn't let a book of mine be published there either, although – unsurprisingly, given some of the things I've said about that barbaric excuse for a country, not to mention the contents of the books themselves – the issue has never arisen, and never will with anything remotely resembling the current regime in power.)

As someone who has always respected and admired the achievements of the Jewish people – they've probably contributed even more to world civilisation than the Scots, and we Caledonians are hardly shy about promoting our own wee-but-influential record and status – and has felt sympathy for the suffering they experienced, especially in the years leading up to and then during the second world war and the Holocaust, I'll always feel uncomfortable taking part in any action that – even if only thanks to the efforts of the Israeli propaganda machine – may be claimed by some to target them, despite the fact that the state of Israel and the Jewish people are not synonymous. Israel and its apologists can't have it both ways, though: if they're going to make the rather hysterical claim that any and every criticism of Israeli domestic or foreign policy amounts to antisemitism, they have to accept that this claimed, if specious, indivisibility provides an opportunity for what they claim to be the censure of one to function as the condemnation of the other.

The particular tragedy of Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is that nobody seems to have learned anything. Israel itself was brought into being partly as a belated and guilty attempt by the world community to help compensate for its complicity in, or at least its inability to prevent, the catastrophic crime of the Holocaust. Of all people, the Jewish people ought to know how it feels to be persecuted en masse, to be punished collectively and to be treated as less than human. For the Israeli state and the collective of often unlikely bedfellows who support it so unquestioningly throughout the world to pursue and support the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people – forced so brutally off their land in 1948 and still under attack today – to be so blind to the idea that injustice is injustice, regardless not just on whom it is visited, but by whom as well, is one of the defining iniquities of our age, and powerfully implies a shamingly low upper limit on the extent of our species' moral intelligence.

The solution to the dispossession and persecution of one people can never be to dispossess and persecute another. When we do this, or participate in this, or even just allow this to happen without criticism or resistance, we only help ensure further injustice, oppression, intolerance, cruelty and violence in the future.

We may see ourselves as many tribes, but we are one species, and in failing to speak out against injustices inflicted on some of our number and doing what we can to combat those without piling further wrongs on earlier ones, we are effectively collectively punishing ourselves.

The BDS campaign for justice for the Palestinian people is one I would hope any decent, open-minded person would support. Gentile or Jew, conservative or leftist, no matter who you are or how you see yourself, these people are our people, and collectively we have turned our backs on their suffering for far too long.

Extracted from Our People by Iain Banks, from Generation Palestine: Voices from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, edited by Rich Wiles, published by Pluto Press. To order a copy for £11.99 with free UK p&p go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:04 am

A List of Artists who Respect the BDS Call

Please contact PACBI for updates.

Artists who have heeded BDS calls, silently cancelled Israel gigs or endorsed BDS 2006-2012 (partial list)

Artist name Country Link Date cancelled (1) proclaimed they would'nt play (1) Notes
Ken Loach UK http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=346 August 2006 1 1 Joins cultural boycott of Israel, issues statement

IFI Irish Film Institute Ireland http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=325 August 2006 Drops Israeli embassy as sponsor of film

Jean-Luc Godard France http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=749 June 2008 1 Cancelled plans to attend Tel Aviv film festival

Naomi Klein US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1078 January 2009 Endorses boycott & joins

John Greyson Canada http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=973 March 2009 1
Boycotts Tel Aviv Int'l LGBT Film Festival & joins BDS

The Yes Men US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1031 July 2009 1 Withdrew film from Jerusalem Film Festival & joined BDS

500 Academics & Cultural workers US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1139 December 2009 1 Call for boycott

Carlos Santana US/Mexico http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/world ... certs.html February 2010 1

500 Montreal artists http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1185 February 2010 1 Endorse BDS

100 Norwegian artists Norway http://akulbi.net/index_en.php 2010 1 Endorse BDS
Gil Scott Heron US http://electronicintifada.net/content/a ... -call/1052 April 2010 1

Elvis Costello UK http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/ma ... l-concerts May 2010 1 "Then there are occasions when merely having your name
added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that
resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed
that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent."

Pixies US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1263 June 2010 1

Klaxons UK http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/kl ... d-1.294191 June 2010 1

Gorillaz Sound System UK http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/kl ... d-1.294191 June 2010 1

Devendra Banhart US http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340 ... 72,00.html June 2010 1 "Due to pressure and political considerations."

Meg Ryan & Dustin Hoffman US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1304 July 2010 1 Declined to attend Jerusalem Film Festival post Flotilla murders

Leftfield UK http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1314 July 2010 1

Over 200 Irish artists Ireland http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1333 August 2010 1 Will not perform in apartheid Israel

Robert Del Naja Massive Attack UK
http://www.newstatesman.com/music/2010/ ... ycott-naja September 2010 1 Endorsed BDS: "It's a system that's been applied to many countries. It's a good thing
to aim for because it applies the continual pressure that's needed."

Sondheim, Moore, 150 theatre & film professionals US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1354 September 2010 Endorsed settlement boycott

Mike Leigh, filmmaker UK http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1396 October 2010 1 Endorsed boycott

Tindersticks UK http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1416 November 2010 1
"t is difficult to defy a rapidly growing movement with whose aims we agree, even if we are not wholly convinced by their methods."

Coldplay UK http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1615 January 2011 Endorsed Freedom for Palestine

Vanessa Paradis France http://www.haaretz.com/culture/did-pop- ... s-1.337312 January 2011 1

Dulce Pontes Portugal https://twitter.com/thebadnewsnik January 2011 1
Faithless UK http://www.southafricanartistsagainstap ... cotts.html Feb-11 1 “While human beings are being wilfully denied not just their rights but their needs for their children and grandparents and themselves, I feel deeply that I should not be sending even tacit signals that this is either normal okay. Its neither and I cannot support it." Maxi Jazz

Thomas Quasthoff Germany http://www.epacbi.eu/articles/quasthoff ... paign.html February 2011 1

Pete Seeger US http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/ne ... t-1.346342 February 2011 Endorsed BDS, regretted Arava fundraiser

Roger Waters UK http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... -bank-wall Mar-11 1 Endorses BDS

Ladysmith Black Mambazo South Africa http://www.herald.co.zw/index.php?optio ... le&id=7247 Apr-11 1 "Ladysmith Black Mambazo distances itself from the misinformation being spread by Israeli advertisers that we will be performing in Tel Aviv."

August Burns Red US http://www.usacbi.org/2011/05/august-bu ... in-israel/ May 2011 1

Marc Almond UK http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1596 May 2011 1

August Burns Red US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1612 May-11 1

Andy McKee US http://www.andymckee.com/news/attention ... -concerts/ May 2011 1 Cited security concerns

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar US http://boycottisrael.info/content/101-o ... sit-israel June 2011 1 Cancelled attendance at the Jerusalem Film Festival due to concerns arising "after the Nakba Day violence"

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo school of Medicine US http://punksagainstapartheid.com/2011/0 ... -aviv-gig/ June 2011 1 Decided to check out the situation for himself first

Tuba Skinny US http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/adr ... val-israel Aug-11 1

Eddie Palmieri Puerto Rico
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340 ... 16,00.html August 2011 1 Cancelled appearance at Red Sea Jazz Festival

Jason Moran US http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340 ... 16,00.html August 2011 1 Cancelled appearance at Red Sea Jazz Festival

Natacha Atlas Belgium http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali- ... el-boycott September 2011 1 Refused to play for apartheid

Denise Jannah Dutch-Suriname http://www.kadaitcha.com/2011/09/18/den ... pport-bds/ September 2011 Played but then endorsed BDS

Yardbirds UK http://www.usacbi.org/2011/10/bds-succe ... in-israel/ October 2011 1

Hosam Hayek Palestine http://www.pacbi.org/atemplate.php?id=284 October 2011 1 Cancelled appearance at Jerusalem Oud Festival "for conscientious and political reasons"

Martha Frintzila Greece http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1741 October 2011 1 Cancelled appearance at Jerusalem Oud Festival

John Michael McDonagh Director, The Guard Ireland
http://zazafl.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/ ... -festival/ October 2011 1 Declined to attend the Haifa International Film Festival "due to the conflict"

Zdob siZdub Moldova http://www.rebelfrequencies.net/2011/11 ... -then.html November 2011 1

Mireille Mathieu France http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/2011- ... eid-israel November 2011 1 "Postponed"

South African Artists Against Apartheid South Africa http://www.southafricanartistsagainstapartheid.com/ Nov-11 1 "We respond to the call for international solidarity and undertake not to avail any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel."

MF Doom UK http://www.alternativenews.org/english/ ... -show.html November 2011 1

Oumou Sangaré Mali
http://zazafl.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/ ... r-justice/ December 2011 1

Joe Lynn Turner US http://zazafl.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/ ... srael-bds/ December 2011 1

Joker (Dubstep) UK http://mondoweiss.net/2011/12/report-jo ... ctory.html December 2011 1

Cassandra Wilson US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1830 February 2012 1 "As a human rights activist I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel."

Cat Power - Chan Marshall US http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1816 February 2012 1 Cancelled because of "such unrest between Israel and Palestine I can't play"

Dervish Ireland http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/open- ... eid-israel May 2012 Cancelled due to BDS campaign, specifically in Ireland

Zakir Hussain India http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1915 June 2012 1

Lenny Kravitz US http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Mus ... ?id=282061 Aug-12 1 Cancelled due to "prior commitments"

The Cardigans Sweden http://www.cardigans.com/?sid=default&bfs=1 Aug-12 1 Cancel Tel Aviv performance

Peter Brook theater director UK http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1994
Sep-12 1 Cancels participation in Israeli festival after Palestinian, Israeli and international BDS appeals

Mashrou’ Leila Lebanon http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1986 Sep-12 Cancels on Red Hot Chili Peppers after latter refuses to heed calls to cancel Israel gig

Baba Zula alternative band Turkey http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2033 Sep-12 1 Canceled planned concert in Israel after BDS appeals

Palestinian MC Boikutt, Syrian singer Lena Chamamyan, Lebanese MC Malikah, Palestinian artist Marwan Abado and Palestinian DJ Sotusura International http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali ... ver-israel Oct-12 1 Pull out of Salam.Orient cultural festival in Austria due to Israeli embassy sponsorship

Rebel Diaz, The Narcicyst, Narcenio Hall, and Cairo-based art collective Mosireen International http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2015 Oct-12 1 1 Canel gigs at Creative Time Summit, NY over Israeli involvement

Ross Daly Ireland/Greece http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2058 Nov-12 1

Roger Waters UK http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.c ... -at-the-un Nov-12 Reiterates support for BDS at the UN

Stevie Wonder US http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2063 Nov-12 1 Pulls ou of Israeli army fundraiser in LA after BDS appeals

Pops Mohamed South Africa http://www.thenewage.co.za/69600-1008-5 ... s_festival Nov-12 1 Boycotts Cape Town festival over Israel's sponsorship
10 young harpists International http://harpsofconscience.wordpress.com/ ... onscience/ Nov-12 1 Boycott Israeli harp contest
Carl Craig US http://boycottisrael.info/content/dear-carl-craig Nov-12 1
Pops Mohamed South Africa http://www.thenewage.co.za/69600-1008-5 ... s_festival Nov-12 1 Boycotts Cape Town festival over Israel's sponsorship
10 young harpists International http://harpsofconscience.wordpress.com/ ... onscience/ Nov-12 1 Boycott Israeli harp contest

Carl Craig US http://boycottisrael.info/content/dear-carl-craig Nov-12 1

Andreas Oberg Guitarist Sweden
http://refrainplayingisrael.blogspot.co ... ycott.html Dec-12 1 Swedish guitarist, cancels gig in Tel Aviv, heeding BDS activists’ appeals

Portico Quartet UK https://www.facebook.com/porticoquartet ... 4486149398 Dec-12 1 1 Join BDS

Posted on 09-09-2012
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:20 pm


Meet Captain Israel, the anti-BDS superhero
Creators of a new comic hope that they can counter the 'venomous' Israel boycott movement.
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2011 10:46

An international campaign calling for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel has grown in the past year [EPA]
I'm sitting in my den with Mekaal Hasan, one of Pakistan's premier musical artists and producers, who stopped by to visit while on break from a tour with his countryman, Atif Aslam. Mekaal is one of the pioneers of the explosive fusion of metal, prog rock and Qawwali (sufi) styles that is the cutting edge of South Asian pop music these days. If you still think Bollywood soundtracks are cool, you're way behind the musical 8-ball.

In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden and increasing acrimony between the US and Pakistani governments, cross-cultural collaborations have never been more needed to help build an alternative relationship between Pakistanis and Americans. But with the music business crumbling globally and the US mired in recession, it's proving extremely hard to raise the money to bring his band to the US to tour, or bring American artists to Pakistan to see the beauty of the country, its music, and the vast majority of its people first-hand.

Some well-known American artists, including former members of Guns N' Roses, are taking the lead in collaborating with Aslam and Hasan on a project called the Sonic Peacemakers, which aims to facilitate just such exchanges. I wrote a column about the beginning of this collaboration, and the trip by members of the Sonic Peacemaker team to Pakistan after last year's horrific floods. The group is continuing to record and plan for some impressive collaborations.

But even with such an auspicious beginning, gaining much-needed institutional support - not merely at the government level, but by cultural and business leaders who understand the power of music to reshape people's mutual misperceptions - remains an uphill battle.

Mekaal and I were lamenting how much money gets put into war and the hate-filled propaganda that tear people apart while artists have to beg for funds to bring people together, when I received a seemingly bizarre email. The subject line talked about "Capt. Israel," and when I opened it on my Blackberry, I could see a small part of an image on the screen, which seemed to be from a comic book, and a very strange one at that.

I scrolled up, down and across the screen until the full image began to make sense. Once it did, I ran into the other room to open the message on my computer, as what I thought I was seeing seemed hard to believe.

But it's true. World, please welcome your newest superhero, "Captain Israel"!
A man in lighter blue tights

No, his motto is not "Up, up and away!" the catchphrase of the first, admittedly ambiguously Jewish hero, Superman. (Come to think of it, if Superman, the Jewish guardian of "Truth, justice and the American way," won't fly off to defend Israel's policies, shouldn't Americans be questioning why our government continues to do so?)

Nor is it "To Infinity and beyond!" which, if you consider that Buzz Lightyear couldn't have reached earth without Einstein's contribution to physics, could arguably be considered Jewish-inspired.

Instead, Captain Israel's catchphrase is "For Israel!"

And his shield is a giant Star of David.

And his costume is a shade of blue that only my late mother and Jewish women of her particular generation and fashion sense would ever consider wearing.

And he's carrying a giant menorah in his other hand, screaming into the sky as dozens of Israeli jets streak overhead, while a bunch of Israeli tanks with IDF infantrymen advance behind him, bombs and machine gun fire erupting all around them in a scene that could only be meant to depict the final war for Israel's existence.

Please stop laughing. It's not funny. Especially in light of the current upturn in violence plaguing the country.

Turns out - as far as I can tell - this comic is not a prank dreamed up by the Daily Show's writing team during their summer hiatus, or even more plausibly, by a couple of bored Hebrew School students.

"Captain Israel" means business! His task: Defend Israel at all costs from her most dangerous enemies!

And what enemy is so dangerous that the once-vaunted IDF is no longer able to handle without superhuman (and perhaps even divine) intervention? A nuclear-armed Iran? Gazan terrorists infiltrating from Egypt? A much larger Gaza Flotilla? A million unarmed Palestinians marching to the Qalqaliya and Erez "border" crossings? Members of the Jenin Freedom Theatre?

Don't be ridiculous. The IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, Border Police, US Congress, "stinky water" (the name really doesn't do justice to the smell), drones, anti-missile shield or various combinations of the above can handle any of these threats.

No, the threat that only Captain Israel can defeat is none other than ... the BDS movement!

Wait, I'm sorry, the "venomous BDS movement".

Saving Brand Israel

It turns out that Captain Israel has come - from where, no one knows (Brooklyn? Miami Beach? Petakh Tikva?) - to save Brand Israel from the evildoers behind the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement. In my last column I interviewed Birzeit University sociologist Lisa Taraki, one of the founders of the movement, who explained that the BDS programme sought to raise awareness of how the Israeli government and its allies in the US spend millions of dollars to create a brand image of Israel that occludes the realities of the occupation and its treatment of Palestinians.

Indeed, judging by the size of his muscles, I think it's safe to say that Captain Israel is Brand Israel on enough steroids to be banned for life from the Maccabi Games.

Whether or not Captain Israel is artificially endowed, can he actually defend Israel? Let's see.

In the first issue, Captain Israel introduces us to Jewish and Zionist history. He might be "endowed with the strength of Samson and the Wisdom of Solomon", but I'm not sure that the millions of non-Zionist Jews, both ultra-Orthodox and secular, will be too thrilled about his teleological portrayal of "3,000 years of Jewish history" leading inevitably to the final redemption of Jews with the creation of the State of Israel.

Not to mention that, even if Captain Israel is extremely old ("I was there when Jewish civilisation and National Identity were formed over 3,000 years ago"), no such thing as "Judaism" or "national identity" existed three millennia ago. Nor am I sure Egyptians would be too happy that Captain Israel is standing with one foot firmly planted in the Sinai, but let's chalk that up to the artist's - if not Captain Israel's - weak grasp of geography.

What Captain Israel is really here to tell us is, in his words, that:

"For almost 2,000 years no other state or unique national group developed in Palestine; instead different empires and peoples came, colonised, ruled and disappeared ... for 400 years before World War I, Palestine was an unimportant backwater of the Ottoman Empire, sparsely populated, barren, impoverished ... Until, in the latter half of the 19th century new Jewish immigrants from Europe and Russia ... began to repopulate the desolate land, buying it legally from absentee Palestinian landlords."
And there's more: "I watched their backbreaking labor, as Jewish pioneers cleared the wastelands and swamps, reforested the hillsides, restored the land's once famous fertility and built towns and villages. I was there when Tel Aviv was founded in 1909!" he continues, with the text over the iconic photo of the founders of Tel Aviv breaking ground in the sands north of Jaffa.

Well, Captain Israel, I am not as old as you, but I did write a book about the history of Tel Aviv, and I'm pretty sure you were not in that photo, unless you were in your non-superhero clothes when it was taken.

Captain Israel goes on to describe the rise of European anti-Semitism, and of Zionism and Theodor Herzl's famous saying (or was it Kevin Costner in "Field of Dreams"?), "The Jews who will it will achieve their state!" He then moves "finally" - in fact, very quickly - to 1948, when in the ashes of the Holocaust, the UN voted to partition Palestine, which Jews accepted and Arabs didn't, even though Jews were willing to take only "13 per cent of their original mandate, 60 per cent of which was desert."

(Take that, Palestinians and your overly generous "22 per cent of Palestine" that you'd get in a two-state solution! Jews were willing to take less 9 per cent less!)

Well, both Captain Israel and we know what happened next: Israel won the war, did everything possible to make peace, reluctantly conquered the rest of Palestine in 1967 but demonstrated a willingness to give back land for peace ever since, as evidenced by the peace treaty with Egypt and the withdrawal "from Gaza and parts of the West Bank" as part of the Oslo Accords (his map lists the West Bank as "disputed with Palestinians").

"Israel still is attacked by Palestinian terrorists from both areas," Captain Israel exclaims. "Yet ..."

And that's where we have to wait for the next, so far unreleased issue.

There is a strange feeling reading Captain Israel while watching images of the carnage wrought by the latest rockets or terrorist infiltrators. Israel certainly needs some superheroes, and maybe one or two might emerge out of the current protest movement. It would have been nice to know how Captain Israel would defend Israel against actual threats. Not just terrorists, but Arab neighbors like Egypt who are growing increasingly assertive against Israeli policies. Against young Palestinians who feel they have nothing left to lose, and so like their counterparts across the Arab world, are poised to explode - this time in ways neither Israel, the PA nor Hamas can control. Against ultra-religious nationalists who, even to mainstream observers, are taking the country down a very dark road.
Comically revisionist history

Captain Israel could use his super brain power to help educate Israelis - actually, American Jews, since I can't imagine any Israeli wasting her time reading the comic - about the realities of decades of brutal occupation, the same way the great Jewish superheroes of old, the Prophets, took on the People of Israel when their actions contradicted biblical injunctions against oppression and exploitation.

Captain Israel could even show up at the next demonstration in Bil'in or Sheikh Jarrah and defend the Israeli and Palestinian peace activists who are routinely attacked by Israeli forces and settlers. (In fact, in working together non-violently against occupation, they are the true superheroes of today.)

Instead, Captain Israel seems to be reading from a very old (comic) book, one in which Israel can do no wrong and the Land of Israel is empty of Palestinians, who don't exist in his version except as "absentee landowners" 100 years ago and terrorists today.

Perhaps his super vision is such that he doesn't even have to see them. Why should he, when he tells us that nothing important happened for the last 400 years in the country, until Jews came back and took a desolate, barren, empty land and repopulated and restored it?
This blatantly racist version of history erases not just Palestinians but the pre-Zionist Sephardic Jewish community multiple times and in multiple ways in order for the country to be transformed into a "land without a people for a people without a land". It is one that most Israelis have long ago discarded as crudely inaccurate, although it was at heart of Zionist portrayals of the land for decades. But for the backers of the comic, it has been resurrected as "the truth against the revisionist version".*

With his no doubt super intellect, Captain Israel apparently understands that allowing Palestinians a legitimate place on the land would mean admitting their legitimate rights to it, a recognition that not even a superhero could overcome.

Anyway, who cares about historical accuracy when you have comic books and huge propaganda budgets that will place them in the welcome packets of tens of thousands of Jewish freshmen and women as the new academic year begins on college campuses and Hebrew schools across the country? Of course, the fact that the people behind Captain Israel actually think young American Jews are gullible enough to buy what Captain Israel is selling is in and of itself quite telling - much less about the intelligence of young American Jews than about the desperation of their elders.

What is clear, however, is that for the people behind Captain Israel - specifically the right-wing American Jewish group "Stand With Us" - any recognition of Palestinian rights or history is a sign of weakness that must be fought by any means, by super heroes if all else fails.

Indeed, another official of Stand With Us explained that the group is "widening the lens and connecting the dots, going straight to the brain to connect with people. You have to convince people that when Israel is threatened, everyone is threatened. Unless you show how other people are threatened, they're not going to care." And so Captain Israel is not just fighting for Israel and Jews, but for everyone, even Muslims.
A most venomous enemy

According to a story in the Jerusalem Post, Stand With Us funded the comic because "as Israel's Jewish connection to Israel and the land is always being challenged, we wanted to re-establish our Jewish roots and make sure that everyone understood the history, stuff we know and take for granted and that others try to chip away at". The comic was specifically devoted to "establishing a hero, establishing roots, [and] countering the venomous BDS movement".

Indeed, in the so-far unreleased second issue, Captain Israel will face his first arch-nemesis as he "exposes the extremists behind the Venomous Snake Charmer BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions)", a sharp-fanged serpent whose skins just happen to be the colours of the Palestinian flag, and who represents the world's supporters of the BDS movement against Israel. Stand With Us CEO Roz Rothstein also explained that "we're beginning with ... the BDS venomous snake ..., and will get to different attacks against Jews and the legitimacy of Israel".

So who will subsequent villains be? Judging by the ideology of the sponsors, I wouldn't be surprised if Captain Israel took on the members of Jewish Voices for Peace, or Tikkun magazine, or even had to wrestle Jewish philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler in a steel cage match (Judith, I will be your tag team partner if Richard Falk can't do it!).

The more I think about it, the more I'm not too sure that Captain Israel is up to the task of defending Israel, especially against his fellow Jews. Call me old-fashioned, but I'll take Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea over a muscle-headed know-it-all with delusions of immortality and questionable fashion sense who fantasises about leading the IDF into its next battle while spouting discredited 50-year-old propaganda.

A little self-reflection, please

Before his next battle, perhaps the good Captain could read the Prophets and do a little heshbon nefesh, or critical self-reflection, like hundreds of thousands of Israelis are doing in the midst of the emerging nation-wide "social justice" protest movement. Come to think of it, shouldn't he be at the head of the protest movement, defending Israel against neoliberal tycoons and militarist politicians? Or perhaps, if he's not too busy stamping out boycotters, he could track down the terrorists infiltrating from Egypt or help stop the rockets from Gaza (surely a more important target then a bunch of lefty BDS activists).

Then, after a hard day's work, perhaps he could use his super mental powers to figure out how Israel can go on settling the West Bank and East Jerusalem, keep Gaza under siege, and attack non-violent protesters wherever they turn up, and not expect Palestinians to retaliate with their own terrorists in response.

One thing's for sure: I doubt Captain Israel scares the folks behind BDS all that much. They have enough to worry about in the real world. And besides, something tells me that soon enough a Palestinian artist will ensure he is defeated by Handala, the little cartoon boy who has symbolised Palestinian resistance for decades.

In the meantime, Mekaal and I just keep shaking our heads, wondering how it is that in the 58th/21st/15th century artists who are trying to heal the world are largely scrambling for crumbs - or, as I discussed in my last column on the Jenin Freedom Theatre, are kidnapped by the IDF, or attacked by Salafis - while those willing to prostitute their talents at the altar of the nation, tribe, or corporation have a seeming unlimited supply of patrons with closed minds and open wallets willing to support them.

If Captain Israel can help with that, I'll become his biggest fan.

Postscript II

Since this column was written, the 2nd issue of Capt. Israel was put online. It is quite a read. If you're out there capt israel, perhaps you can answer the following questions:

1. So you are claiming that anyone who supports BDS, even if they are Jewish and Israeli, is no better than Martin Luther or the Nazis, is no different that anti-Semites who have murdered Jews for hundreds of years? That the arguments are the same as the blood libel that accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children to make Matzoh? Is that REALLY what you are arguing Capt. Israel?

2. You are claiming that BDS activists today--again, many of whom are Jews and even Israelis, are no better than the Mufti and willing to meet Hitler or his contemporary equivalent and commit genocide? REALLY?

3. Are you REALLY making a direct connection between Nazism and BDS? Is the Palestinians venomous snake you depict in issue #1 really the same as the Nazi venomous snake that you show in this issue wrapped around a swastika?

4. Are you really so unsophisticated that you think all BDS literature is the same as the most anti-Jewish slander put out in the Muslim world? And by the way, what have you done about all the anti-Muslim and Palestinians slander in Israel and the Jewish world? Or are you too busy for that?

5. Can you please define the word "deceiving" since the comic book your lend your name to seems full of deception, whereas the main BDS site is never even mentioned or critiqued in your comic...

6. Don't you think we should boycott a company that makes bulldozers to destroy the homes of an occupied people against absolutely every possible international law you can think of, and even interplanetary law (assuming, as I actually do, that you are not from this planet...)?

Captain Israel, Your act is already old... I suggest a wardrobe change, and a nice visit--perhaps incognito--to the West Bank and Gaza for a few weeks. I'd be happy to show you around, and then we'll see what issue #3 looks like...

Postscript I

Yes, Captain Israel's version of Zionist/Israesli history is blatantly racist and inaccurate. Palestine, like the rest of the Levant, went through many ups and downs, but it was hardly desolate and unpopulated for 400 years. Indeed, it was actually in the midst of a fairly rapid economic, demographic and social development in the later part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, brought on by the region's growing incorporation into the world and Middle Eastern regional economies, as well as increased European tourism. Moreover, the very notion of its being a "backwater" of the Empire presupposes that the only way to judge the economic and social situation in the country is in terms of its direct relationship with Istanbul, which leaves out the centuries long relations between the peoples of what would become Mandate Palestine and the surrounding peoples and lands.

Nor was all the land bought legally from "absentee Palestinian landlords"; Yisrael Porath, the well-known Israeli historian, argues that over 50 per cent of Jewish-purchased land was from non-Palestinian absentee owners. But of course, since according to Captain Israel Palestinians didn't even exist in this period, the claim itself doesn't make much sense. In reality, it didn't matter that much to Palestinian peasants whether their own village sheikhs sold the land to Jews or some absentee landlord in Syria, the end result was dispossession. As for the creation of Tel Aviv at which Captain Israel brags about being present, the sale of the land on which Tel Aviv was first built was actually contested by residents. Local Ottoman officials did not want to approve the sale but were overruled after European consuls put pressure on the Ottoman government on behalf of Jewish purchasers whom they represented. Perhaps Captain Israel was out of town during that dispute.

Readers can consult the work of historians like Salim Tamari, Gershon Shafir, Beshara Doumani, Amy Singer, David Kushner, Amnon Cohen, Mark LeVine, Boutros Abu Manneh, Mahmoud Yazbak, Michelle Campos, and Alexander Scholch for discussions of Ottoman, Arab and Jewish primary sources related to the late Ottoman history of the country.

Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle East history at the University of California, Irvine, and is the author of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam and the soon to be published An Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989.
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:39 pm


Derek barely reviews World War Z (the shitty movie, not the excellent book), which segues into a discussion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel (wherein Chris calls for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Canada). Then we sit down with Montréal-based activist and journalist Stefan Christoff to discuss the 2012 Quebec student strike and its historical significance, outcomes, and legacy. Also: Chris airs his grievances against the armchair audio engineers amongst our listenership

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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby slimmouse » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:48 pm

Along with the rest of your posts, that Israeli cartoon thing ,( which is surely an informed persons satire) is one hell of an article Slad, thanks.

Im sure subcontractors within the NSA agencies will be placing another tick against my personal "certified Anti-semite" file for saying it.

More the fool them of course, but whatever.
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:53 pm

oh no that is from a real anti - BDS comic book ...I'm going to post the book later
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:24 pm



stay tuned...... more to come
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:58 am


BDS roundup: The BDS movement, 7 years on, "stronger, more effective and more diverse than ever"
Submitted by Nora Barrows-Fr... on Wed, 07/11/2012 - 19:15

The Palestinian call for BDS was launched in July, 2005. The movement continues to grow and strengthen. (Minhaj Jeenah / BDS South Africa)
This week on the BDS roundup: Highlighting the spectacular growth and victories of the 7-year-old BDS movement; Palestinian civil society commends author Alice Walker for her refusal to have her book published by an Israeli publisher; Palestine solidarity activists protest pinkwashing at San Francisco LGBT International Film Festival; and boycott activists take to the roof of G4S headquarters to demand an end to cooperation with the Israeli government.

BDS, 7 years on: “Celebrating, reflecting and further mainstreaming”

On 9 July, activists and organizers with the Palestinian-led global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement commemorated 7 years of victories, strategies, growth and strength. Since the formal inception of the movement’s call in July 2005, BDS leadership says that “the struggle for the basic rights of the entire Palestinian people has taken a major leap during these last seven years” worldwide.

Indeed, as the Israeli government and its lobbies across the world attempt to undermine the BDS movement — while at the same time discrediting the strength and efficacy of the movement itself — there is much to celebrate and reflect upon as the boycott campaigns expand more into the mainstream toolkit of direct action against Israeli apartheid and colonialism.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) released a statement on the 7th anniversary of the BDS movement, 9 July, which reads in full:

Seven years after the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel was launched, the global BDS campaign has become stronger, more widespread, more effective and certainly more diverse than ever—a true cause for celebration by all those groups and conscientious citizens of the world who contributed to this success. However, Israel’s intensifying violations of international law and basic Palestinian rights, the direct threat Israel poses to the freedom of peoples across the region, and the impunity that Israel still enjoys are cause for reflection and the continuous fine-tuning of our strategies to further spread BDS and further isolate Israel as a world pariah, just as South Africa was under apartheid.

Thanks to the BDS movement, the struggle for the basic rights of the entire Palestinian people has taken a major leap during these last seven years, reaching wide audiences and achieving concrete achievements in major European countries, South Africa, Latin America, India, the Arab world, Australia, New Zealand and even North America. Following on from a similar round up published to mark five years of BDS, the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broad Palestinian civil society coalition, has put together the following selection of highlights gives a taste of the spectacular growth of BDS over the last two years.

The global reach of the BDS movement is maybe best highlighted by this year’s edition of the BDS Global Day of Action which took place in 23 countries and the fact that the 8th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was organized this year on campuses in 202 cities across the world, causing near panic in the Israeli public diplomacy ministry, which scrambled 100 envoys to counter IAW around the world.

Popular consumer boycotts of Israeli products and campaigns against companies that export and sell Israeli products, particularly those implicated in Israel’s illegal colonies in the occupied Palestinian territory, have not only raised awareness among ordinary citizens in countless cities across the world but led to significant damage to complicit Israeli companies:

Agrexco, Israel’s former largest exporter of agricultural produce, entered liquidation towards the end of 2011, following a campaign of blockades, demonstrations, lobbying of supermarkets and governments, popular boycotts and legal action in more than 13 countries across Europe. The campaign against the company was a major factor behind the lack of investors’ interest to salvage it.

The largest Co-operative in Europe, the Co-Operative Group in the UK, introduced a policy to end trade with companies that source products from Israel’s illegal settlements, following a determined campaign by Co-Op members. Campaigners are working to pressure other supermarkets to adopt a similarly comprehensive position. Many supermarkets across Europe already claim not to sell produce from illegal settlements.

A sustained campaign against Ahava, the Israeli cosmetics company situated in an illegal Israeli colony, forced the company to close its flagship London store and retailers in the UK, Norway, Japan and Canada to announce boycotts of the company.

Inspired by the integral role that Israeli academic institutions play in developing the knowledge and technology behind Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid, and planning and justifying Israel’s worst crimes, academic boycott campaigns have spread to campuses across the world:

Setting a worldwide precedent for the academic boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg severed ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University in 2011, following a campaign backed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and over 400 South African academics.

Campaigns against EU-funded collaboration with private Israeli companies and Israeli universities have sprung up at campuses across Europe in response to a call from Palestinian academics and civil society.

Academic unions in the UK and Canada have voted to support various academic boycott campaign initiatives. There are also active academic boycott campaigns in India, the US, South Africa, Ireland, Chile, Brazil, Pakistan, and in many European countries.

Rapidly losing support around the world and recently again voted one of the most negatively viewed countries in the world, Israel’s attempts to whitewash its system of colonization, occupation and apartheid using culture is increasingly thwarted by a highly visible cultural boycott:

Scores of artists — especially musicians and filmmakers — and writers have refused to perform in Israel or cancelled scheduled performances following pressure from the BDS movement including Bono, Snoop Dogg, Jean Luc Godard, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, Devendra Banhart, Faithless, the Pixies, Cassandra Wilson, Cat Power, Zakir Hussain.

Many artists and other cultural figures now speak publicly of their support for BDS: Roger Waters, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, John Berger, Judith Butler, Etienne Balibar, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy, Angela Davis, Sarah Schulman, among others.

Israeli artists who accept funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are required to sign a contract committing them to be part of Israel’s cultural public relations offensive. Protests and campaigns against state-backed performances — such as those by the Batsheva dance company, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Habima theater, and the Jerusalem Quartet — are now common place in Europe and North America, forcing some cultural venues to defend or retract their decision to host representatives of Israel and persuading others not to invite state-backed Israeli artists at all.

In the related field of sports boycott:

The inspiring 93 day hunger strike by imprisoned Palestinian national football team player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was detained and subsequently held without trial by Israel in 2009 while attempting to leave Gaza to play an international match was met with calls for his release by footballing superstars and FIFA, the international football federation. Sports clubs in Gaza and footballing legend Eric Cantona have criticized the European football association for awarding Israel the right to host the 2013 under-21 football tournament.

The Egypt Football Association announced that its national teams would no longer wear Adidas kit over the company’s sponsorship of an Israeli marathon that violates international law and whitewashes Israel’s illegal occupation of Jerusalem. Calls for boycotting Adidas were issued by the Council of Arab Sports Ministers and by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC).

US basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar cancelled a scheduled public visit to Israel.

Corporations, both Israeli and international, play a key role in facilitating Israeli apartheid. Divestment campaigns are raising the price of corporate complicity with Israeli violations of international law and changing corporate attitudes towards doing business with Israel:

French multinational Veolia has been targeted since November 2008 due its provision of infrastructure services to illegal settlements, including the Jerusalem Light Rail. Local municipalities across Europe and Australia have decided not to award Veolia contracts worth at least $14 billion following BDS campaigns. An increasing number of municipal authorities have implemented policies excluding Veolia from bidding on local contracts. Several European banks have divested from the company as well. Veolia has been forced to admit the damage the BDS campaign has caused it and subsequently announced plans to withdraw from some illegal Israeli projects.

Several European banks have also divested from Alstom, one of Veolia’s partners in the Jerusalem Light Rail. Alstom lost a $10 billion contract to build the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project following a concerted campaign of pressure.

Following a concerted campaign in the US, Caterpillar was removed from MSCI-ESG, an influential ethical investment index over the use of its bulldozers and equipment to destroy Palestinian homes. This led to TIAA-CREF, the US pension fund giant targeted by a wide US civil society coalition, removing the company from its Social Choice Funds.

The European Parliament elected not to renew a contract with G4S following action by Palestine solidarity groups. G4S is a private security company that Palestinian civil society has called for action against over its contract with the Israeli Prison Service and its resulting complicity with the detention of Palestinian political prisoners.

The Norwegian government pension fund and 12 other European finance institutions have excluded Elbit Systems from their portfolios. Elbit is an Israeli military company involved in constructing Israel’s illegal wall.

Responding to ever-increasing public anger with Israel’s occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, a number of governments have started to introduce sanctions against Israel:

Turkey and Norway have both announced decisions to suspend military relations with Israel and Turkey is pursuing legal action against Israel over its killing of 9 Turkish citizens on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010. Bolivia, Venezuela, Qatar, Mauritania and several other countries also took action in response to the attack.

A call from Palestinian civil society for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel last July was supported by Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and civil society groups around the world representing millions of people.

The campaign to Stop the JNF has gone from strength to strength, forcing the leaders of all of the major UK political parties, including Prime Minister David Cameron, to end their patronage of the organization, successfully persuading the authorities in the Swiss town of Geneva to disassociate the city from the JNF (Jewish National Fund) and winning support of numerous mainstream organizations.

In the trade union movement, labor-led sanctions and BDS initiatives have become the leading form of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle:

BDS principles and tactics have been formally endorsed by national trade union federations in South Africa, UK, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Basque Country, Brazil and other countries across Latin America, in addition to scores of national and local unions. Africa’s largest trade union federation, ITUC-Africa – representing 15 million workers from 56 African trade union federations has endorsed BDS and the European Trade Union Congress is currently taking action against produce from illegal Israeli settlements.

Trade unions are initiating concrete campaigns and actions, such as the heroic blockades of Israeli ships by dockworkers in South Africa, Sweden, and California, and the campaigns by the London region of the UK Rail, Maritime and Transport union against Alstom, due to its complicity with an illegal occupation infrastructure project, and by the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (Fagforbundet) against Ahava and other companies complicit with Israeli violations of international law.

Some major trade unions, particularly in Europe, are taking steps to sever links with the Histadrut, the colonial Israeli trade union entity that has always played a key role in Israel’s system of oppression over the Palestinian people. Most recently, Unison, the UK’s second largest trade union with 1.3 million members, voted to reaffirm its position of suspended relations with the Histadrut.

Following a call for concrete solidarity from Palestinian Christians entitled Kairos Palestine,churches around the world have adopted BDS-related actions:

In the US, the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) divested $900,000 in shares of Caterpillar, targeted over its sale of bulldozers to Israel that are used to violate Palestinian rights. The worldwide United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church in the US have both called on their members to boycott produce from illegal Israeli settlements.

In the UK, the Methodist Church and the Quakers in Britain recently called on the UK government to ban trade in products from illegal Israeli settlements.

At university campuses across the world, the student movement in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle continues to rapidly emerge:

In North America, students are developing sophisticated and widely supported campus divestment initiatives, with student unions in Regina and Carleton in Canada and National Movímíento Estudíantíl Chícan@ de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A), the largest association of Latin@ youth in the US, and the student government at University of Massachusetts-Boston voting to support divestment and other BDS initiatives. The first student-led BDS U.S. national conference was held at the University of Pennsylvania earlier this year following a successful national student conference at Columbia University last year.

BDS student groups are growing across Europe. In the UK the National Union of Students hasendorsed student campaigns that have succeeded in ending relationships between universities and Ahava and Eden Springs. Edinburgh University Student Association voted to end its contract with G4S.

With the eruption of peoples’ upheavals across the Arab world, or what came to be known as the Arab Spring, massive solidarity with Palestinian rights in Arab countries is increasingly being channeled in effective BDS campaigns, especially in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and Kuwait.

The Israeli establishment is growing increasingly concerned with the growth of the BDS movement. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently cited fear of the impacts of BDS as a reason to “make peace.” Meanwhile, top Israeli business leaders have launched their own “peace initative” out of fear of the impact of BDS. Some Zionist leaders are also starting to call for change in Israeli policies out of fear of BDS. The leading Israeli think tank the Reut Institute has spoken of BDS as a “strategic threat,” prompting the Israeli government to pass a draconian law forbidding any citizen from supporting BDS or any partial boycott. There is a real and growing fear within Israel that it is becoming a pariah state in the way that South Africa once was.

Against the backdrop of continued success and the reactions from Israel, we look forward to working with trade unions, NGOs, faith groups, solidarity organizations, people’s movements and people of conscience all over the world to continue to spread BDS as an effective and morally compelling tool in support of the Palestinian struggle for comprehensive rights. Israel realizes it and so do we: BDS is spreading and having a significant impact on Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid; it is time to push even further into the mainstream to entrench Israel’s pariah status. Only thus can Palestinians regain their rights and exercise self-determination, and without that there can never be a just and sustainable peace in the entire region.

Palestinian civil society commends author Alice Walker

PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, released a statement this week expressing support to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. Recently, Walker publicly refused to have her book, The Color Purple, published by an Israeli publishing house, due to Israel’s policies of apartheid.

PACBI’s statement reads, in part:

[W]orld renowned, best-selling author Alice Walker set a new moral standard for international authors and cultural figures. By refusing to allow her famous work, The Color Purple, to be published in Israel due to its apartheid system, Walker told Israel and the world that she takes seriously her moral obligation not to be complicit in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid. By reiterating her support for BDS in a concrete manner, she sent Palestinians a lucid message of love and true solidarity. Walker knows more than many that love towards the oppressed without supporting their struggle to end oppression amounts to futile charity when what they need is solidarity.

Alice Walker’s moral courage and inspiring solidarity was greeted by Palestinians with deep appreciation. The most prominent Palestinian message of gratitude came from the General Union of Palestinian Writers, which issued a warm salute to Walker in a statement that said [in Arabic]:

“The General Union of Palestinian Writers, while saluting this free intellectual and expressing its profound appreciation for her struggles against regimes of oppression and apartheid, from the darkest chapters of US modern history to South Africa of yesterday and Palestine today, confirms that human dignity is one and the same in all corners of the earth; it resists fragmentation, and it is the negation of color hierarchy.

The courageous message sent by the activist novelist Walker to one of the arms of Zionist propaganda … removes any uncertainty regarding the kinship between Palestinian, South African, and African American grievances. The similarity between the systems of apartheid in these afflicted geographies is no longer an intellectual seduction or an academic exercise. Unifying local and global struggles against these regimes, with their Euro-American center, is no longer the obsession of dreamers … The global BDS movement against Israel … has become a reality and a space for resistance that has cost the colonial and apartheid regime in Israel its toughest losses. The positions of conscientious intellectuals worldwide, their effective contributions to this movement, and their noble defense of its achievement, form the virtue that separates the wheat of intellectuals from their chaff.”

PACBI’s statement continues:

Israel’s loss of the hearts and minds battle around the world, despite investing many millions of dollars in its largely abortive “Brand Israel” campaign is now recognized by leading voices within the Israeli establishment.

… Alon Liel, a former director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, has recently expressed support for Alice Walker’s cultural boycott of Israel as well as for South Africa’s measure towards boycotting Israeli colonies’ products.

Alice Walker once wrote, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Israel has for many years dwelled on an image of invincibility and unparalleled ruthlessness in dealing with its critics, particularly in the west. With its well-oiled, orchestrated campaigns of bullying and intimidation against critical voices in western colleges, arts communities, faith-based groups, trade unions and civil society at large, Israel and its lobby groups have succeeded in the past to instill fear of even debating Israel’s policies, and making these groups feel as if they don’t have any power.

Today, thanks not only to the widely spreading BDS movement but also to Israel’s far-right fanaticism, war mongering and grave, persistent violations of international law, Israel’s shield of impunity is being shattered at a stunning rate, and people are reclaiming their power. It is gestures like Walker’s cultural boycott of Israel that are acting as valuable catalysts for countering Israel’s exceptionalism and questioning blind loyalty to it among western elites.

We salute Alice Walker!

Palestine solidarity activists protest pinkwashing at San Francisco LGBT International Film Festival


Activists protest pinkwashing outside the LGBT International Film Festival in San Francisco.
On Saturday, 23 June, twenty Palestine solidarity activists, some associated with QUIT! (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) “briefly interrupted” a screening of a film at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, in protest of the LGBT International Film Festival’s ongoing relationship with the Israeli government. In a press release sent to The Electronic Intifada, activists stated that they also presented the executive director of Frameline, which presents the annual film festival, with an award for being the “Grand Pinkwasher of 2012.”

Pinkwashing is a term to describe Israel’s hasbara (propaganda) efforts to brand Israel as a “haven” for LGBT people while ignoring the human rights of Palestinians living under an apartheid system.

In their press release, the activists said that the reaction from the audience “was mixed” when they read alound from a scroll declaring Frameline’s director the Grand Pinkwasher:

Some people erupted in applause when the protesters revealed their “Stop Pinkwashing Israeli Apartheid” t-shirts, and there was a hearty round of applause when they finished reading the scroll. An equally loud chorus of boos followed.

Filmmaker Yariv Mozer, whose appearance at the festival was funded by the Israeli consulate, followed the protesters out to argue about the value of the cultural boycott. One activist asked how he felt about the call of Palestinian queer organizations for Frameline to end its relationship with the consulate.

Mozer stated that he “disagreed” with it, because he is sponsored by the Israeli government. He added that Israel is “more liberal and democratic” than the West Bank and Gaza, and unabashedly remarked that the “regimes that are controlling the West Bank and Gaza are very primitive.”

Audio of the protest and the discussion with Mozer are available on Indybay.

Boycott activists take to the roof of G4S headquarters to demand an end to cooperation with the Israeli government


Activists occupy the roof of G4S’ headquarters in the UK. (Indymedia UK)
On 2 July, Palestine solidarity activists began a rooftop occupation at the West Sussex, UK, headquarters of multinational security corporation G4S. The activists are protesting G4S’ “illegal and criminal activities” in the UK and in Palestine.

Using superglue and bicycle locks, the activists secured themselves to the roof and hung banners that admonished G4S’ profiting from Israel’s policies of apartheid and imprisonment of Palestinians.

In a press release posted on UK Indymedia, activists pointed out G4S’ complicity with Israel’s violations of international law and UN conventions, as the company provides equipment and prison administration services to Israeli jails.

The press release states:

G4S provides equipment to prisons inside Israel to which Palestinian political prisoners from occupied territory are transferred in violation of the Geneva Conventions, tortured and subjected to arbitrary detention.

Under Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is forbidden to transfer Palestinian prisoners from occupied territories to prisons inside Israel. Despite this, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are unlawfully held in prisons inside Israel that are supplied by G4S. Palestinian civil society has condemned G4S’ complicity with Israeli violations of international law and called for action against the company.

The company provides equipment to the Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities at which human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners. A recent UK government backed delegation found that Israel is breaching at least six violations of the UN convention of the child in its treatment of child detainees.

… G4S also provides equipment to Israeli in the West Bank that form part of the route of Israel’s illegal Wall and to illegal settlements.

In the UK, G4S runs six private prisons at which 400 prisoners are forced to work 40 hours a week for as little as £2 a day.

The company also runs three immigration detention centres, where detainees have made repeated claims of abuse and assault.

… One of the rooftop protesters, Tom Hayes from the Boycott Israel Network, said: “UK businesses should not be profiting from the detention and mistreatment of children.”

“Brutal systems of discrimination such as Israeli Apartheid are maintained because companies like G4S are willing to do business with them, in total disregard of the human consequences and of international law. G4S is an example of a business that cynically views the practices of such regimes as good for business.”

… Activists will picket the 12 July meeting of the West Midlands Police Authority. G4S is bidding for a £1.5bn contract to run Police services in the West Midlands and Surrey
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:14 pm

Published on May 8, 2013
"The Nakba did not begin in 1948. Its origins lie over two centuries ago...."
So begins this four-part series on the 'nakba', meaning the 'catastrophe', about the history of the Palestinian exodus that led to the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.
This sweeping history starts back in 1799 with Napoleon's attempted advance into Palestine to check British expansion and his appeal to the Jews of the world to reclaim their land in league with France.
The narrative moves through the 19th century and into the 20th century with the British Mandate in Palestine and comes right up to date in the 21st century and the ongoing 'nakba' on the ground.
Arab, Israeli and Western intellectuals, historians and eye-witnesses provide the central narrative which is accompanied by archive material and documents, many only recently released for the first time
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby Jerky » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:28 pm

I'm just shocked that they accurately quoted Ahmedinejad in that comic book! No "We will wipe Israel off the map" boondoggle for these guys.

Hey, if that's how they feel, more power to them for promoting their opinions. The comic art is interesting and well done. I disagree with most of it, but it's pretty contientious as far as propaganda goes!

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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:49 am

continuing from the last video

Series on the Palestinian 'catastrophe' of 1948 that led to dispossession and conflict that still endures.
Special series Last Modified: 29 May 2013 06:36

“The Nakba did not begin in 1948. Its origins lie over two centuries ago….”

So begins this four-part series on the ‘nakba’, meaning the ‘catastrophe’, about the history of the Palestinian exodus that led to the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.

This sweeping history starts back in 1799 with Napoleon’s attempted advance into Palestine to check British expansion and his appeal to the Jews of the world to reclaim their land in league with France.

The narrative moves through the 19th century and into the 20th century with the British Mandate in Palestine and comes right up to date in the 21st century and the ongoing ‘nakba’ on the ground.

Arab, Israeli and Western intellectuals, historians and eye-witnesses provide the central narrative which is accompanied by archive material and documents, many only recently released for the first time.

Editor's note: Since first running on Al Jazeera Arabic in 2008, this series has won Arab and international awards and has been well received at festivals throughout the world.

Episode 1

For Palestinians, 1948 marks the 'Nakba' or the 'catastrophe', when hundreds of thousands were forced out of their homes.

But for Israelis, the same year marks the creation of their own state.

The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the world, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the world's peace.

Arnold Toynbee, British historian.

This series attempts to present an understanding of the events of the past that are still shaping the present.

This story starts in 1799, outside the walls of Acre in Ottoman-controlled Palestine, when an army under Napoleon Bonaparte besieged the city. It was all part of a campaign to defeat the Ottomans and establish a French presence in the region.

In search of allies, Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection. He called on the Jews to ‘rise up’ against what he called their oppressors.

Napoleon’s appeal was widely publicised. But he was ultimately defeated. In Acre today, the only memory of him is a statue atop a hill overlooking the city.

Yet Napoleon’s project for a Jewish homeland in the region under a colonial protectorate did not die, 40 years later, the plan was revived but by the British.

Episode 2

On 19 April 1936, the Palestinians launched a national strike to protest against mass Jewish immigration and what they saw as Britain’s alliance with the Zionist movement.

The British responded with force. During the six months of the strike, over 190 Palestinians were killed and more than 800 wounded.

I cannot imagine Zionism without violence, whether before or after the establishment of the state of Israel.

Dr Anis Sayegh, the Palestinian Encyclopedia editor. ,

Wary of popular revolt, Arab leaders advised the Palestinians to end the strike.

Palestinian leaders bowed to pressure from the Arab heads of state and agreed to meet the British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by Lord Peel.

In its report of July 1937, the Peel Commission recommended the partition of Palestine. Its report drew the frontiers of a Jewish state in one-third of Palestine, and an Arab state in the remaining two-thirds, to be merged with Transjordan.

A corridor of land from Jerusalem to Jaffa would remain under British mandate. The Commission also recommended transferring where necessary Palestinians from the lands allocated to the new Jewish state.

The Commission’s proposals were widely published and provoked heated debate.

As the Palestinian revolt continued, Britain’s response hardened. Between 1936 and 1937, the British killed over 1,000 Palestinians; 37 British military police and 69 Jews also died.

Episode 3

Few Palestinians, if any, could have imagined they were to become victims of what would later be called ‘ethnic cleansing’.

When the British were preparing to leave Palestine, we didn’t have weapons. My father gave me money and I bought a gun with only three bullets for 100 Palestinian liras.

Sami Kamal Abdul Razek, palestinian refugee,

After 30 years of British rule, the question of Palestine was referred to the United Nations, which had become the forum for conflict.

On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly met to devise a plan for the partition of Palestine. UN Resolution 181 divided Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as an internationalised city.

The Jewish state was granted 56 percent of the land; the city of Jaffa was included as an enclave of the Arab state; and the land known today as the Gaza Strip was split from its surrounding agricultural regions.

But making the proposed Arab state all but proved impractical in the eyes of many Palestinians.

When the draft resolution was presented for voting, Arab newspapers ran a ‘name and shame’ list of the countries that voted for the UN partition plan, and Arab protesters took to the streets.

Following the partition resolution, Britain announced it would end its mandate in Palestine on 14 May 1948.

Episode 4

In early 1948, Jewish paramilitary forces began to seize more land in Palestine. By the end of July, more than 400,000 Palestinians had been forced to flee their homes, and their plight as refugees had just begun.

I swear to God, we tasted it; we tasted starvation like no one else did

Hosni Mohammad Smada, Palestinian refugee,

In May of that year, Swedish diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte had been appointed as the UN Mediator in Palestine. His mission was to seek a peaceful settlement.

The Count surveyed devastated Palestinian villages and visited refugee camps in both Palestine and Jordan. The scale of the humanitarian disaster became apparent, as he witnessed cramp living conditions, long queues for basic food and scarce medical aid.

Count Bernadotte was no stranger to human disaster; with the Red Cross he had rescued over 30,000 prisoners of war from Nazi concentration camps. Now he advocated the Palestinian’s right to return to their homes.

In a report dated 16 September 1948, he wrote:

“It would be an offence against the principles of elementary justice if these innocent victims were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries.”

The Count’s first proposal argued for fixed boundaries through negotiation, an economic union between both states, and the return of Palestinian refugees - the proposal was turned down.

On 17 September, the day following his UN report, Count Bernadotte’s motorcade was ambushed in Jerusalem. He was shot at point blank range by members of the Jewish Stern gang.

Al-Nakba debate

The historic struggle for Palestine is characterised as the claims and counter-claims of Arabs and Jews, but one factor that is often overlooked behind the Palestinian 'Nakba' or 'catastrophe' of 1948, is the part played by an old imperial power, Britain.

So, whose interests were best served by the British in Palestine? How did it honour its mandated duty of care? and what were the calculations and miscalculations it made in redrawing the map of Palestine, and reshaping its history?

The 65 years of the Israeli statehood, continue to cause conflict and controversy.

The history is written by the victors, who are the rewriters of history as new information, new documents, and new historians, come to light. It is time to examine how history itself is the battleground for the hearts and minds of new generations today.

To discuss the historic events that led to the Nakba, the birth of Israel, and the making of history, we are joined by Rosemary Hollis, former head of the Middle east programme at the Royal Insitute of International Affairs; James Renton,senior lecturer in History at Edge Hill University and author of The Zionist Masquerade: The birth of the Anglo-Zionist alliance 1914-1918 ; and Avi Shalam, professor of International Relations at Oxford University and author of the Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, The Zionist Movement, and the Partition Of Palestine .
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Re: Zionism’s Lost Shine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:06 pm

[Dublin] Protest the Prawer Plan: Stop the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians in the Naqab/Negev (IPSC)

Thu, 1 August 2013, 17:30 The Spire, O'Connell Street, Dublin 1

At 5.30pm on Thursday 1st August, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) will hold a demonstration at The Spire on O’Connell Street in Dublin to protest Israel’s biggest act of ethnic cleansing since 1967, as part of an international day of action called for by Palestinians.

The so-called Prawer Plan will see the forced removal of some 40,000 Palestinian Bedouin from their ancestral homelands in the Naqab/Negev Desert, in the south of the Israeli state, and relocation in a series of townships. The aim of this act is to remove the Bedouin from the land so it can be utilised for ‘Jewish planning’ – the aim being to minimise the amount of land lived on by Palestinians citizens of Israel.

Under the current, already unfair, regime almost half the Bedouin population of the Naqab (40,000 people) live in 35 villages on ancestral land that constitutes less than 5% of the total area. The majority of these villages pre-date the establishment of the Israeli state, yet Israel refers to them as ‘unrecognised villages’. As the inhabitants are non-Jewish citizens, the state has chosen to treat them as ‘illegal communities’, denying them essential rights and services such as connection to the electric, water and transport networks, and refusing to provide medical, postal and educational services. Israel treats construction within these villages as illegal and regularly demolishes the homes of the residents. The Israelis have demolished the village of Al-Arakib more than fifty times.

Despite these punitive and discriminatory policies, the Prawer Plan will mark a new low in the Israeli regime’s treatment of this Palestinian community – effectively destroying its independent existence, it will dispossess and corral its citizens into townships which constitute less than 1% of the area of the Naqab, thereby ending their traditional way of life.

Despite opposition from Bedouin leaders, along with Israeli and international civil and human rights groups, the Prawer Plan has been endorsed by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and will shortly go forward for legislation in the Knesset. Meanwhile, the state, in conjunction with rightwing Israeli groups, has begun a campaign of intimidation against the Bedouin.

The EU has criticised the plan, but has taken no concrete action to prevent it, even though the plan is a blatant violation of the human rights clause of the Euro-Med privileged trade agreement between the EU and Israel. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has condemned the plan saying it will “legalize the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities.”

The Irish government has remained silent and the Irish media has refused to report on any on of this. Therefore, it is up to ordinary people like us to stand up make noise about this incredible act of state outrageous state racism. On August 1st, the Palestinian movement against Prawer has called for an international ‘day of rage’ to protest the plan. The IPSC is therefore holding this action to help highlight this vitally important issue.

By +972blog |Published August 1, 2013
Live blog: Activists hold 'day of rage' to protest Prawer Plan
Activists declared a “day of rage” across Israel and Palestine on August 1, the second such day of protests against an Israeli plan that would see the displacement of some 30,000 Bedouin citizens from their villages in the Negev.

Tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel live in “unrecognized” villages. Because the Israeli government does not recognize their claims to the lands they live on, they do not receive basic services such as connections to water lines and the power grid.

Click here for +972′s full coverage of the Prawer Plan

According to the plan, which the government did not consult the Bedouin community on when drafting, nearly all residents the unrecognized villages will be evicted and forcibly relocated to planned communities. Many of the “unrecognized” villages predate the state, while others are populated with internally displaced peoples from other parts of the Negev from 1948.

Activists have called for protests in the Negev, the north of Israel, Ramallah and Jerusalem. A protest planned in Gaza city was reportedly canceled under pressure from Hamas. +972 brings you coverage of the protests as they happen.


Update (6:45 p.m):

Two people are arrested as Negev protest comes to an end.

Update (5:47 p.m.):

At least five 12 arrested in northern village of Arara after blocking Route 65. Several activists were lightly injured.

Protesters come face to face with Israeli police during anti-Prawer protests in the northern village of Arara. (photo: Activestills/Oren Ziv)

A demonstrator is arrested during a protest against the Prawer Plan in Israel’s north. (photo: Activestills/Oren Ziv)

A demonstrator is held down by Israeli policemen during a protest against the Prawer Plan in Israel’s north. (photo: Activestills/Oren Ziv)
Update (5:30 p.m.):

Demonstrators near the southern town of Lehavim break through police barriers. Police on horseback prepare for confrontation.

Hundreds of activists protest against the Prawer-Begin Plan in the Negev Desert, August 1, 2013. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)
Update (4:30 p.m.):

Hundreds of protesters gathered along the Tel Aviv-Be’er Sheva highway, near the town of Lehavim. A police spokesman said 400 officers were deployed to the protest.

Buses of protesters began arriving for a second demonstration near Arara in the North. Ten police vans and a water-canon truck were present.

Protesters against the Prawer Plan at a demonstration at Arara in the North of Israel, August 1, 2013 (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
(More updates to come.)
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