Palestine

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Re: Palestine

Postby backtoiam » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:42 pm

It seems as if we are being desensitized to the notion that nations have any right to their own determinations at all. It seems that the Palestinians are the test bed, then on to the other Arab countries, then on to Europe, then, what the hell, why not on to the US. That medicine should be real tasty.

Destroying nations because nationalism is bad is like the war on drugs, and would end just as badly. It would also serve to empower fascists, so because I don't care for fascists I also don't care for the subverting of national self-determination.


Any cohesive social group that seeks self determination is being put on the chopping block. Immigrants coerced to leave their homes from Mexico, Middle East, etc...only to be brought to the U.S. so that they can be pitted against each other. People of Mexico, black, whites, middle eastern immigrants, sexual genders, sexual persuasions,you name it, will all be pitted against each other. Don't believe it? Check out Germany. Which makes me sad that so many people are buying the "evil white person" meme as if white is not also a color, and "white people" are not also barely living from paycheck to paycheck for the most part, and increasingly will do so in greater numbers. This is the last of the great Alchemical breakdown and distilling, into utter pandemonium and chaos. It doesn't matter what "color" or "flavor" you are, if you promote the color war, you will be pitted against it and all others. You will get no justice from another "color", nor will you "overcome" it and "get yours", its just bullshit, and a hastening of the demise of all. Because you or the other colors do not control "your color", the colors are controlled by the PTB, damn.....
"A mind stretched by a new idea can never return to it's original dimensions." Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Re: Palestine

Postby BrandonD » Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:27 pm

Sounder » Thu Oct 22, 2015 6:04 pm wrote:Brandon D, I prefer to think of nationhood as being a stage that human communities go through rather than being arbitrary constructs.

So for instance, when Spain decided to use their new world spoils to expand their territory in Europe, the frankish and germanic and english peoples (individually) all found it expedient to unite to repel the threat.

The need to survive can produce local agreements that serve to produce a larger affiliation group. Nations still serve a (potential) protective function that the one worlders hope you do not recognize.

Destroying nations because nationalism is bad is like the war on drugs, and would end just as badly. It would also serve to empower fascists, so because I don't care for fascists I also don't care for the subverting of national self-determination.


Agreed on all points, but I don't believe this affects my earlier statements. I'm not interested in destroying nations or any sort of state-enforced banning of borders or nationalities, I'm interested in human beings evolving. And human beings evolving will eventually involve the dissolution of nations as they currently exist.

What I see happening is that powerful people are aware of the direction that humanity is moving and must inevitably move, and they are trying to manipulate this transformation into something that serves them.

An analogy would be the transition of a boy into a man or a girl into a woman. It is a necessary and inevitable transition, but powerful groups such as advertising agencies can manipulate the cultural perception of what it means to be a man or a woman, and therefore pervert this growth process so that it serves them.
"One measures a circle, beginning anywhere." -Charles Fort
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:26 am

Israel’s descent into unmasked, right wing extremism: A new generation rises to fight occupation, settler-colonialism, apartheid
This Palestinian resistance is a spontaneous reaction to the most racist, far-right government in Israel's history
OMAR BARGHOUTI

Israel’s descent into unmasked, right wing extremism: A new generation rises to fight occupation, settler-colonialism, apartheid
(Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly)
As I write these words, a new unflinching generation of Palestinians is rising up against Israel’s decades-old regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

I usually succeed in shutting out the bloody images and the haunting stories of our children being brutalized by Israel’s occupying army so that I can focus on contributing my fair share to the emancipation of my people, without being emotionally overwhelmed, drained, and disempowered. But at a certain point you cannot help but reach a level of heavy heartedness. So I am not in a mood to write diplomatically today.

This phase of popular Palestinian resistance has broken out spontaneously, in reaction to exceptionally repressive policies of the most racist, settler-dominated and far-right government in Israel’s history.

Since Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in 2009, Israel’s descent into unmasked, right wing extremism has accelerated alarmingly. The number of Jewish settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land has grown by more than 120,000, something Netanyahu was recently caught on tape boasting about. Meanwhile, a steady stream of discriminatory, anti-democratic laws targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to a lesser extent Jewish-Israeli critics of Israel’s apartheid regime, have been passed by the Israeli parliament. These include the so-called “boycott law,” and the “Nakba law.”

Following a recent visit to occupied Palestine, South African Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete wrote, “Apartheid in South Africa was a picnic compared to what we have seen in the occupied territories.” Not just in the occupied territories, actually.

The ongoing Israeli “state terrorism” against Palestinians all over historic Palestine, the violent attacks and desecration campaigns by fanatic Jewish fundamentalists against Palestinian civilians, including burning a toddler and his parents alive, and the systematic desecration of our Christian and Muslim places of prayer, particularly the Al-Aqsa (Noble Sanctuary) mosque compound, were the direct trigger for the current Palestinian uprising, dubbed “The Jerusalem Intifada” by several political parties and youth groups.

For more than a decade, the fanatical messianic “Temple Mount movement” has been growing inside Israel, with the ultimate goal of destroying the Muslim shrines on the Noble Sanctuary and replacing them with a temple, something they declare openly.

Once on the fringes of Israeli society, today this dangerous fundamentalist movement has moved into the mainstream, counting senior government officials among its adherents. The Israeli government in fact provides direct financial and political support to extremist settler groups, like the Temple Institute and others, that are colonizing Palestinian homes and neighborhoods in Jerusalem and actively working towards building a temple in place of the Al-Aqsa mosque, putting paid to hollow, disingenuous claims by Netanyahu that Palestinians have no reason to fear an Israeli desire to change the status quo on the site.

The seemingly random but persistent Israeli violent attacks against Palestinians are in fact part of an official Israeli strategy whose goal is to intensify the ethnic cleansing and “Judaization” of occupied East Jerusalem, especially its Old City and, and to eventually take over the Noble Sanctuary. This was done with the historic Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron following the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers by an Israeli-American terrorist. Following the massacre, Israel’s occupation authorities partitioned the mosque and gave half of it to Hebron’s notoriously far-right and violent settler population for exclusive Jewish use, effectively rewarding them for the murderous acts of the killer who came from their midst and egging them on to pursue their criminal attacks on Palestinians with impunity.

As early as 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing accused Israel of pursuing a “strategy of Judaization“:

“From the Galilee and the Negev to east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli authorities promote a territorial development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities, particularly affecting Palestinian communities, side by side with the accelerated development of predominantly Jewish settlements.”

Even the U.S. State Department acknowledged in its 2009 International Religious Freedom Report: that “many of the national and municipal policies in Jerusalem were designed to limit or diminish the non-Jewish population of Jerusalem.” The prominent South African jurist John Dugard compared those policies to those applied by apartheid South Africa.

This strategy could not succeed without the rubber-stamp Israeli judiciary, which a UN fact-finding report of the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009 condemned as having “structural flaws,” and without the prevailing culture of violent racism and dehumanization of Palestinians that has taken over Israeli society.

The current shaking off of Israel’s chains, almost entirely led by groups of very young Palestinian men and women, with a refreshingly prominent participation of the latter, is not just a struggle to decolonize the Palestinian land, but just as crucially, if not more so, to decolonize Palestinian minds.

For two decades the Oslo process has attempted to negate most of the UN-stipulated Palestinian rights and to arrest Palestinian aspirations. The Palestinian Authority (PA) created by Oslo was designed to be a sub-contractor for the Israeli occupation, relieving the occupation of mostly municipal duties, suppressing resistance to it and all the while providing the precious fig leaf to allow Israel’s relentless colonization of Palestinian lands and gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to proceed under the guise of a “peace process.” This fraud has allowed Israel to open diplomatic relations and trade channels with tens of countries, including China, India, Brazil and other large economies, taking its economy to the level that it is at today.

Most damagingly, Oslo and its architects have tried to reduce the definition of the people of Palestine to only those who reside in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, omitting the 50% of the Palestinian people who live in exile, denied their right to return home, and the 12% who are the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel, living as second and third class citizens in their homeland.

The great obstacle facing the new uprising is that the PA is not only missing in action, but is often working behind the scenes to thwart and undermine widespread popular protests. Its scandalous coordination and gratuitous sharing of intelligence with the Israeli military continues, despite being universally condemned by Palestinians from across the political spectrum. This coordination, which Israel considers indispensable, has considerably undermined Palestinian resistance to the occupation.

Fortunately, the increasingly despotic PA lacks any significant credibility among Palestinians, young and old, residing in Palestine or in exile, and is therefore compelled to tread a thin line, allowing some space for protest and dissent which can be exploited by those of us seeking to transcend the political impasse following the effective collapse of Oslo.

Still, and even if this popular uprising does not evolve into a full-fledged intifada, it has already revealed to Israel, the U.S. and other world powers that are complicit in maintaining Israel’s regime of oppression, that Palestinians will never accept slavery as fate. New generations will continue to rise up and assert their will to be free, against all odds. After being written off by Israel and its allies as self-centered, apolitical or apathetic, Palestinian youth are proving to be just as loving of freedom and justice, and just as indignant about oppression, as anyone.

But how to de-escalate this “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” many journalists have asked?

The famous “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” is in fact not a conflict at all, by an accurate definition of the term. The question of Palestine is one of resistance against a colonial, apartheid regime. The root cause of all this original violence by Israel and the reactive violence by Palestinians is Israel’s system of injustice and the complicity of world powers and corporations in maintaining it. Those, like me, who truly wish to see an end to all violence should strive to eradicate its root causes, thus cutting off the roots of this poisonous tree.

Israeli apartheid will not end voluntarily, almost all Palestinians and many people of conscience the world over recognize. Concerted, widespread, sustained nonviolent pressure that is anchored in international law and universal principles of human rights is needed, particularly in the form of boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS. A military embargo, for instance, similar to the one imposed on apartheid South Africa, and an intensification of the academic and cultural boycott as well as divestment from complicit companies like Hewlett-Packard and G4S can be far more effective than a thousand empty calls for “restraint” in preventing Israel from shattering the status quo in occupied Jerusalem, and its thinly-veiled attempts to paint the explosive situation created by its apartheid regime as a “religious war.” After such a “de-escalation,” perhaps we can pursue the goal of freedom, justice and equality.
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:13 am

Israeli Forces shot 2600 Palestinians with live, rubber Bullets in October: Red Crescent
By contributors | Nov. 2, 2015 |

Ma’an News Agency | – –
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces shot and wounded at least 2,617 Palestinians with live and rubber-coated steel bullets through October, the Palestinian Red Cross said Sunday, as clashes carried on into the new month.
A Red Crescent spokesperson told Ma’an that at least 760 Palestinians were shot with live rounds across the occupied Palestinian territory, while another 1,857 were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets.
He said that a further 5,399 Palestinians were treated for excessive tear gas inhalation during the period, while another 246 were injured in other ways, including assault by Israeli soldiers and burns from tear gas canisters.
The spokesperson said that it brought the total injured during October to 8,262 Palestinians.
For most parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, October was also the deadliest month since the Second Intifada, with at least 69 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.
While 26 were shot dead during clashes, another 40 Palestinians were shot dead after Israel alleges they attempted or carried out attacks on Israelis.
While Palestinians agree that a number of Palestinians were shot dead while carrying out attacks — ultimately claiming 10 Israelis’ lives — footage and witness testimony have raised serious doubts over the Israeli army’s version of events in many of the other cases.
Moreover, Palestinian, Israeli and international rights groups have said that in the majority of cases, Israeli forces needlessly killed their alleged attackers when they posed no imminent threat, a practice Israeli group B’Tselem referred to as “extrajudicial executions.”
Amnesty International said last week that Israeli force appeared “to have ripped up the rulebook and resorted to extreme and unlawful measures.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein said: “The high number of casualties, in particular those resulting from the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces, raise concerns of excessive use of force, and violations of the right to life and security of the person.”
Clashes continue
The wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last month seemed unabated at the start of November, as fresh clashes left more Palestinians injured on Sunday.
In the central Gaza Strip, Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians with live rounds east of al-Buriej refugee camp, medics told Ma’an.
Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesperson for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, said that both Palestinians were hit in their lower extremities and taken to Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in moderate condition.
Meanwhile in Hebron, Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians with live rounds in Sair village northeast of Hebron.
The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health told Ma’an that one Palestinian was shot in his abdomen and the other in his thigh. They were both taken to Beit Jala governmental hospital for treatment and were in a stable condition.
The Red Crescent said that at least four were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes in Tulkarem, while further clashes were reported in a number of other flashpoints across the occupied West Bank.
A Palestinian was also shot dead by Israeli forces in the village of Beit Einun just east of Hebron in the first death this month.
The Israeli army said he attempted to stab a soldier, although they also said it took place during clashes inside the village. No Israelis were injured during the incident.
Via Ma’an News Agency
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:24 pm

Vatican: Historic Accord with Palestine Takes Effect
By contributors | Jan. 4, 2016 |

By IMEMC | – –
The Vatican’s first accord with the Palestinians — an agreement that Israel has attacked as counter-productive to the Middle East peace process — has come into force, the Holy See announced Saturday, according to Al Ray.
The accord was signed in June, just over two years after the Roman Catholic Church recognized the Palestinian territories as a sovereign state, in February of 2013.
The accord covers the operation of the Church in areas of the Holy Land under Palestinian control, but its significance has been seen in broader terms as a symbol of growing international backing for a Palestinian state.
“With reference to the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, signed on 26 June 2015, the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its entry into force have been fulfilled,” a Vatican statement said.
“The agreement… regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestine, while at the same time reaffirming the support for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.”
In June, the Vatican hailed the agreement, which includes provisions to protect the rights of Christians, as a model for other Arab and Muslim states in their relations with Christian minorities facing increasing persecution in the Middle East.
Israel attacked the accord as premature and counterproductive to efforts to get the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations with the Jewish state.
The Vatican’s recognition of the state of Palestine — joining dozens of others — followed a November 2012 vote in favor of recognition by the UN General Assembly.
The Church has had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993 but has yet to conclude an agreement on Christian rights there. Negotiations on the subject have been running since 1999 but have repeatedly run into deadlock over the status of Jerusalem.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trYnNixOb_M
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 11, 2016 4:30 pm

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Mourners carry the bodies of several Palestinians who were slain while allegedly carrying out attacks against Israelis during a funeral in the West Bank city of Hebron on 2 January after their bodies were handed over by Israel, which had withheld the remains for weeks. Wisam Hashlamoun APA images
Image

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Palestinian children stand on the rubble of their house demolished by Israel on the pretext that it was built without a construction permit in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat on 27 January. Mahfouz Abu Turk APA images
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 11, 2016 5:45 pm

The “men of capital” and the struggle for Palestine
Sarah Irving The Electronic Intifada 14 January 2016
Image

Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine by Sherene Seikaly, Stanford University Press (2015)
It may seem a little premature, in January, to be naming candidates for book of the year. But I’ve been waiting to get my hands on Sherene Seikaly’s Men of Capital since the start of 2014 when I saw the author present some of her research at a conference in the US.

Seikaly doesn’t disappoint. Her account of the lives and ideologies of Palestine’s British Mandate-era middle classes is lucid, engaging, detailed and genuinely groundbreaking.

Defying stereotypes of Mandate-period Palestinians as divided between a distant, dislocated upper class of “notables” and a majority of uneducated, rebellious peasants, Seikaly charts the complexities of Palestinian society of the time. Her subjects are the emergent middle classes — traders, lawyers, accountants, businessmen and senior officials (and their wives).

The portrait is fascinating, but far from idealized. Many of the attitudes she describes were snobbish and elitist. “Maids and servants,” one radio broadcaster on domestic issues warned, must not be allowed to imbibe socialist ideas about workers’ rights from foreign radio programs.

Contrary to simplistic ideas of the relationship between ideas and lifestyles in colonial Palestine, however, the classes she follows cannot just be dismissed as unthinkingly Westernizing themselves and their families or adopting colonial ideas.

Stability versus uprising
Analyzing the contents of a little-known Palestinian magazine of the 1930s, al-Iqtisadiyyat al-‘arabiyya (The Arab Economic Journal, as the editors themselves translated it), Seikaly notes that some of this burgeoning middle class’ ideas were indeed influenced by Western economists such as Adam Smith. But they equally drew on thinkers such as the 14th century historian Ibn Khaldun and the 11th century philosopher al-Ghazali.

These “men of capital” were primarily concerned, Seikaly writes, with creating a stable Palestinian economy and society on what they saw as modern lines. In trying to achieve this, they regarded it as valid to draw on whatever knowledge and ideas they felt useful.

Importantly, Seikaly refuses to evaluate her subjects exclusively according to their attitudes toward the national struggle in Palestine. Some of the Haifa-based businessmen whose lives she touches on, for example, supported the uprising of 1936-39, helping to bankroll Palestinian fighters and campaigners.

Others, however, rejected the uprising and boycotts of Jewish and British Mandate businesses and jobs, seeing them as disruptive and damaging to the project of building stability and prosperity — something they, at the time, saw as equally valid.

Seikaly also highlights the gendered aspects of this middle class idea of Palestinian society. Analyzing articles and radio programs from the period, she shows how “modern” ideals of this “model middle class,” some from the West but formed in both dialogue and tension with Ottoman and Arab notions, were promoted.

A model middle class
Housework should be rigorously timed and scheduled, and there was a focus on ideas about hygiene and order, as found in much 1930s social theory.

In the context of 1930s Palestine, though, these ideas were significant in that they were articulated as specifically Arab, and indeed specifically Palestinian. Although they were interested in and willing to take on notions and information from elsewhere, these men and women also saw themselves as quite specifically building a new Palestine in which they and their offspring could prosper.

As such, they were also defining themselves quite particularly in contrast to Zionist immigrants. Many histories of the period tend to regard European Zionists as the source of modern and scientific ideas in Palestine as well as of economic and industrial development.

Seikaly’s narrative shows that Palestinians were more than capable of exploring, drawing from and critiquing ideas (from the East and the West) about the society and economy to which they aspired.

What they could not do, as Seikaly ultimately shows, is resist the eventual pressures of British colonialism and Zionism. That the businessmen whose lives she traces ultimately failed in constructing the national economy and model of society they sought was not, she insists, down to common orientalist or Zionist explanations about Arab disorganization and fecklessness.

The price of vegetables
The barriers they faced, and the advantages the British Mandate administration bestowed upon Zionist enterprises such as the Palestine Electric Corporation, were simply too great to challenge.

But, she points out, any idea of failure on their part also confines understanding of their efforts to within the borders of Mandate Palestine. In fact, many, such as Abdul Hameed Shoman and Abdel Mohsin al-Qattan, went on to found major corporations with influence across the Arab world.

Importantly for an academic volume, and especially one on an often dry subject such as economic history, Seikaly is a wonderfully engaging writer, introducing the businessmen, journalists and other figures who populate her narrative with clarity and verve.

She keeps jargon and heavy-duty theory to a minimum and deals with the latter deftly and in terms with which most lay readers should be able to engage.

Vegetable pricing, sales of radio sets and debates over how to measure the Palestinian economy might seem both dull and far removed from “big picture” concerns of colonialism and Zionist immigration.

But Seikaly shows, in eminently readable fashion, just why these issues were all closely entwined in Mandate Palestine, and why an understanding of them is essential to an appreciation of how and why Palestinian aspirations to independence were eventually crushed.

An absolute must-read.
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 12, 2016 4:25 pm

Tangible achievements of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine
Asa Winstanley
Wednesday, 27 January 2016 11:02

Asa WinstanleyAsa Winstanley

Ireland's second-largest company announced earlier this month that it had entirely sold-off its 25 per cent stake in the holding corporation of Israel's only cement-making firm. This withdrawal followed a decade-long campaign by Irish activists calling on the company, CRH, to divest from Israeli cement-maker, Nesher.

The Irish company had admitted "in all probability" that cement from the firm had been used to build Israel's apartheid wall in the West Bank (which the World Court declared illegal in 2004). Nesher's cement is also used in the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank – which are build on land belonging to dispossessed and expelled Palestinians and are illegal under international law.

The sale was the largest of 13 divestments CRH made in 2015, totalling €260 million, according to a new report released by the company. While CRH denied that there was anything other than purely business motives behind their decision to divest, the sale of the huge stake in Nesher is part of a growing trend.

There's little doubt in my mind that the sustained campaign by Irish activists (detailed in a press release by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign) made a huge difference over time, and contributed significantly to this victory for the BDS movement – the campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel until it starts to recognise and implement basic Palestinian human rights.

The BDS movement is now more than a decade old, and it's easy to forget just how much it has achieved in that time. It's not for nothing that Israel has declared "war" on BDS, in increasingly desperate terms – even deploying its spy agencies against the movement.

Israel's defenders like to argue that the claims of BDS activists are exaggerated, and that the movement is making little real economic impact. But there is no doubt that, after a decade and more of dedicated and patient campaigning, the strategy is beginning to bite. In October, the heads of four major Israeli arms firms warned their government of a "major crisis" in the country's arms industry.

In their letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they warned that "military exports have dropped from $7.5 billion in 2012, to $6.5 billion in 2013, and further to $5.5 billion in 2014. This year [2015] we are expecting exports to total $4-4.5 billion.”

Even for arms-buyers, being associated with Israeli war crimes is more trouble than it's worth, it seems.

The CRH divestment is part of a growing trend: firms targeted by BDS caving in and pulling out altogether. In 2010, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine held its London session, which I did some press work for. After the session deliberated and came to its conclusions, myself and the Tribunal's organizer (Frank Barat) edited a book compiling the evidence.

Activists used the detailed information and research the Tribunal put together to help them campaign for those companies to withdraw from Israel – or to withdraw from their complicity in the case of Israeli companies. (In its concluding press conference on the last day of the London session held at Amnesty International in Shoreditch, the Tribunal called for the legal defence of BDS activists.)

CRH was one of the companies targeted by the Russell Tribunal, and named as being complicit with Israeli war crimes. Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign officer John Dorman gave a testimony to the Tribunal. So it is gratifying to now to see that years later all the hard work has paid off.

French multinational Veolia was also highlighted by the Tribunal, for its involvement in providing transport and infrastructure to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including in occupied eastern Jerusalem. The trend continued in August as, after years of hard-fought BDS campaigning against Veolia's involvement there, the company finally sold off its last investment in Israel and its settlements.

Israeli company Sodastream was also targeted by the Russell Tribunal. It has been forced into retreat after retreat, after an exceptionally brilliant BDS campaign – Sodastream's woefully inept PR didn't help either with the 2014 Scarlett Johansson ad scandal entirely backfiring.

Its main production facility in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank finally closed down in September 2015. The company claimed to be bringing jobs to Palestinians in the area. But in fact, the settlement the plant was situated in had been built on land stolen from local Palestinians, and (speaking anonymously for fear of reprisals) one Palestinian factory worker told The Electronic Intifada that Sodastream “treats us like slaves.”

However, the company remains a BDS target. As Palestinian BDS leader Rafeef Ziadah said in 2014 (when the West Bank closure was announced) Sodastream's "new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred … Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights.”

And there are indications that Ahava may be the next company to follow this trend. The Israeli cosmetics company was another major target of the London session of the Russell Tribunal, due to its location in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, its pillaging of Palestinian natural resources (Dead Sea minerals) and its part-ownership by two settlements. After a long and sustained BDS campaign against Ahava, the company announced in June that it is contemplating withdrawal from its settlement base. In September, a company announcement seemed to show that it had been unable to find a European or American buyer, after a Chinese company bought a majority stake. Changes to the way the business operates are expected.

Those campaigns took years to show tangible results, but now they finally have. BDS gets the goods.


Irish Solidarity calls on election candidates to pledge support to Palestine

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) two days ago launched a campaign calling on candidates in the General Election to pledge to support justice for Palestine. In a call sent to the hundreds of candidates in forty constituencies, the Palestinian rights group have asked aspiring TDs to take the two #PalestinePledges to support concrete actions to help secure freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people if elected to Dáil Éireann.

The campaign is asking candidates to publicly commit to two promises which they are calling the #PalestinePledges. Responses will be published on the website (http://www.ipsc.ie/ge16) so that all voters concerned with Palestine can have an informed opinion about where candidates stand on the issue of justice for the Palestinian people. The asks are as follows:

1 – The Arms Trade Pledge: “I believe that no one should profit from the deaths and occupation of Palestinians, and if elected to Dáil Éireann I pledge to actively work to end the bilateral arms trade between Ireland and Israel.”

2 – The EuroMed Pledge: “If elected to Dáil Éireann I pledge to actively work to suspend Israel from the EU-Israel Association Agreement (EuroMed), due to its failure to abide by the Human Rights clause in Article 2”

In addition, thousands of copies of a separate election questionnaire for candidates have been sent to IPSC members and supporters with issues to raise with canvassers on the doorsteps. Alongside focusing on the Irish arms trade with Israel and the EuroMed Agreement, it also contains questions and information related to the call for a total ban on products from illegal Israeli settlements.

Launching the campaign today, Martin O’Quigley, Chairperson of the IPSC, said: “Israel is a serial human rights and international law violator that has been oppressing the indigenous people of Palestine for seven decades. In that time it has faced no concrete action from the international community as punishment for these crimes and violations. For this reason, it is of vital importance that politicians pledge their support to help win freedom for the Palestinian people, the victims of one of the great moral outrages of recent history.”

“However”, Mr. O’Quigley continued, “for the Irish state this is not merely a moral issue. The Irish government must meet its legal obligations not to provide assistance to Israeli violations of international law. It can begin to do this by ending all arms trade with Israel, ending preferential EU trade and other agreements, and banning all trade with companies that operate within or provide services to illegal Israeli settlements.”

“We hope those seeking office in our parliament will listen to the call for assistance from the Palestinian people, and take note of the widespread Irish public support for the Palestinian people’s plight, including the tens of thousands of voters who took to the streets in IPSC-led mobiisations or signed petitions to protest the numerous Israeli attacks on the people of Palestine over the past decade.”


The unbreakable bond of Ireland and Palestine

Among European nations, Ireland has been one of the most vocal in its support of the Palestinian national struggle
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Irish republican politician and president of the Sinn Féin political party Gerry Adams at the tomb of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on 4 December, 2014 (AFP)
Creede Newton
Tuesday 27 January 2015 12:18 UTC


Ramallah, occupied West Bank - In December, a wave of support for the recognition of a Palestinian state swept over Europe, culminating in the European Parliament’s (EP) vote on a motion that expressed support for an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a continuation of stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The motion, largely symbolic, passed with 498 EU parliamentarians voting in favour, 88 voting against, and 111 abstaining.

While it does not require any concrete action on the part of any European Union (EU) member state, certain EU member states, such as Sweden and Ireland, have taken steps towards formal recognition of Palestine.

Ireland in particular has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause. The origins of this solidarity come down to both the similarities and differences between the Irish and Palestinian national struggles.

‘Colonised people’

“The Irish people, as a colonised people living for centuries under British occupation, have instinctively identified with freedom struggles across the globe,” Gerry Adams, Irish republican and president of Sinn Féin, the largest Irish nationalist party in both the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland that still belong to the United Kingdom (UK), told Middle East Eye.

The entangled history of the UK and Ireland began in the 12th century, when Norman invaders reached the island. In 1541, the English parliament formally declared that English King Henry VIII was also the king of Ireland.

That was the beginning of several centuries of English and Scottish Protestants migrating to the majority Catholic island and taking power from the indigenous population. This set the stage for sectarian conflict that would flare up over the course of the following years.

In the second half of the 19th century, nationalist movements began picking up steam and by 1922, the Green Island was split into 26 counties that were to be ruled from Dublin as part of an independent Ireland, and six that would be ruled from Belfast, still part of the UK.

In the late 1960s, the conflict known as “The Troubles” began, with militants seeking the reunification of Ireland attacking military and civilian targets, and the British army and Protestant militants responding in kind. Adams himself recounted his own memories of political activism and protest for the reunification of Ireland, and against apartheid South Africa, in the 1960s.

Speaking critically of the current Israeli government, he said their “strategies and actions are aimed at imposing an apartheid system on Arab-Israeli citizens; extending the occupation through the building of settlements in the occupied territories, as well as the separation wall; and physically and politically dividing Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza and the refugee camps in other states."

The current state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process also troubles him, he said. In December, Israel denied Adams entry to the besieged Gaza Strip, and upon his return to Ireland, he was “deeply worried”.

“I am particularly concerned at the approach of the international community,” he told MEE, “which fails to hold the Israeli government to account for its actions and its breaches of international law.”

The role of prisoners

In Ireland, prisoners jailed by the British played “an important role”, according to Adams, and Palestinian prisoners play an important role, too.

But Gavan Kelley, the advocacy unit coordinator of Ramallah-based Addameer, a non-governmental human rights group that focuses on political and civil rights issues in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially those of prisoners, thinks that those imprisoned in Israeli jails can play an even greater role.

“Overall [Addameer] is in a very difficult situation. We want to get to a stage where prisoners are playing a role in ending the conflict,” he told MEE. “That’s the exact opposite of what’s happening now.”

As of October 2014, there were approximately 6,500 Palestinian prisoners, including roughly 500 administrative detainees—those who are held in Israeli prisons without charge. Their six-month sentences can be renewed indefinitely by judges on the basis of “secret” evidence.

Other than prominent Palestinian leaders, such as Ahmad Saadat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Fatah's Marwan Barghouti, most prisoners serve their sentences in silence.

Kelley says that prisoners “are being completely excluded and used as political bargaining chips” in negotiations between Israel and Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Authority.

The human rights of prisoners in Israeli jails are routinely violated, Kelley said, much like those of Irish prisoners during the conflict with the UK. “You have daily rights violations of the prisoners. Medical negligence, malnourishment, nightly raids by the Israeli forces,” he said.

Kelley echoed Sinn Féin’s leader in saying that prisoners were instrumental in ending the conflict. “If you look at Ireland and South Africa,” Kelley said, “prisoners played a central role in ending those conflicts.”

But looking at the current situation in the Holy Land, “the political conditions that brought an end to the conflicts in Ireland and South Africa are nowhere near existing here in Palestine,” Kelley concluded.

United Efforts

Meanwhile, many Palestinians are grateful for international solidarity, which some view as instrumental in their own struggle.

“International solidarity is vital for more than one reason,” Najwan Berekdar, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and activist, told MEE.

"Not only that gives hope for the Palestinians to continue their struggle knowing they have support, but it also brings our struggles closer together, as we have been learning new tactics which were used by colonised people everywhere.”

The popular techniques used by the Irish and South Africans serve to envigorate Palestinian efforts to resist Israeli occupation, have led to innovative and interesting protests, some of which, such as the “Love in the Time of Apartheid” campaign, Berekdar organised.

“This is what will affect the public opinion. And this is what will pressure Israel and its supporting governments to change their policies.”
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:10 pm

Congressional Update on Israel and Labelling

by Lara Friedman

[As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now about what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran.]

This week, APN issued an Action Alert opposing legislation in both the House and Senate that seeks to legitimize settlements by conflating settlements with Israel. That action alert, “Tell Congress: Pro-Settlements is NOT Pro-Israel,” is here.

Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(SETTLEMENTS=ISRAEL – TRADE POLICY) HR 644: On 2/11 the Senate finally voted on the conference version of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, aka the Customs Bill, passing it by a vote of 75-20. The conference version (i.e., the text agreed to by House and Senate representatives in a joint conference to iron out differences between their respective versions of the bill) was passed before the winter recess and had been sitting at the Senate desk awaiting a vote since that time.

As has been exhaustively covered in past editions of the Round-Up, this bill includes the infamous “settlements=Israel” provision (taken from the House version of the bill) that would compel U.S. trade negotiators, in effect, to act as lobbyists for Israeli settlements.
Portman (R-OH), an original sponsor (along with Cardin, D-MD) of the AIPAC-backed freestanding version of this same pro-settlements language in the Senate (S. 619), spoke on the Senate floor after the vote touting the bill’s pro-settlements provision, as did Thune (R-SD) and Hatch (R-UT) during the floor debate—all without in any way acknowledging, per common practice, that the provision has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with settlements.
Shortly after the Senate voted to pass HR 644 on 2/11, the White House issued a press statement making clear that the President would sign the bill into law (as was expected, given that this is a bill he very much wanted passed), but also, unusually, explicitly taking issue with the settlements=Israel provision the bill contains, noting that it “contravenes longstanding U.S. policy towards Israel and the occupied territories, including with regard to Israeli settlement activity.”
It should be emphasized that the 2/11 White House press statement should not be confused with a signing statement. A signing statement is a formal, written statement that is issued personally by the President when he signs a bill into law. Such a statement, if it is issued, will articulate the President’s view that a given provision in the law being signed is unconstitutional and therefore will not be implemented. For examples of signing statements, see this comprehensive database.
George W. Bush’s signing statement rejecting Congressional efforts to legislate U.S. policy on Jerusalem – a position upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015 in the Zivotofsky, in a ruling that unequivocally justifies a similar signing statement now on the Customs Bill’s pro-settlements provisions – is here, number 2002-14. Based on this ruling, the President would be on firmer ground than at any time in U.S. history if he decided to issue a signing statement rejecting the settlements-related language in the Customs bill as unconstitutional. As I noted in this article,
“efforts by Congress to use trade legislation to grant legitimacy to Israeli settlements in the West Bank are clearly analogous to the Zivotofsky case. In both cases, Congress is trying to legislate de facto U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty—in the first instance in Jerusalem (both East and West) and now in the West Bank. And in the Zivotofskycase, the Supreme Court confirmed, with greater clarity than at any time in U.S. history, that the authority to grant such recognition rests exclusively with the president.” And
“this law[the Customs bill] represents, truly, an extraordinary constitutional usurpation by Congress. If left unchallenged, it will compel U.S. trade officials to act as if the U.S. de facto recognizes Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank, even though the executive has granted no such recognition. In doing so, it will transform U.S. trade negotiators into defenders and lobbyists for settlements, contrary to consistent U.S. policy dating back almost half a century, to the birth of the settlement project.”
(SETTLEMENTS=ISRAEL – STATE SANCTIONS) HR 4514/S. 2531: Introduced 2/10 in the House by Dold (R-IL) and Vargas (D-VA), and in the Senate by Kirk (R-IL) and Manchin (D-WV), “To authorize State and local governments to divest from entities that engage in commerce or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activities targeting Israel, and for other purposes.” The bills were referred to the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, respectively.

As has become the norm, these bills explicitly define “targeting Israel” to include actions targeting Israeli-controlled territories – code for settlements.
These bills actually go a step further than previous legislation in making clear that their purpose is defending settlements, referring to such actions that are “for purposes of coercing political action by, or imposing policy positions on, the Government of Israel.”
These bills come in the context of continuing efforts at the State level to adopt legislation legitimizing settlements and sanctioning those who differentiate between Israel and settlements (under the guise of fighting BDS). A comprehensive look at state-level legislation is here.
Dold’s statement introducing the bill – which never once mentions the West Bank or settlements –is here. Kirk’s press release, which likewise makes no mention of the measure’s true focus on settlements but instead refers to “economic warfare against Israel,” is here. Kirk’s press release also includes a quote from an official from the American Jewish Committee endorsing the bill.
Advance text of the bill was helpfully posted by the Washington Free Beacon, whose enthusiastic coverage of the measures (unsurprisingly) conflates Israel and the settlements, but nonetheless does at least hint at the true purpose of the bills (“The legislation comes amid a new move by the European Union to single out all Jewish goods produced in disputed areas of the West Bank).Similarly positive pre-introduction coverage of the bills in both Tablet and Breitbart News does not even hint that the bills are about anything but protecting Israel from BDS.
(SETTLEMENTS=ISRAEL – LABELING) HR 4503: Introduced 2/9 by Poe (R-TX) and no cosponsors, to permit the knowing and deliberate mis-labeling of the point of origin of goods made in Israeli settlements (or the official bill title, “A bill to allow for additional markings, including the word ‘Israel’ to be used for country of origin marking requirements for goods made in the geographical areas known as the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. This is the House version of S. 2474, introduced last week by Cotton (R-AR), and as of this writing having 6 cosponsors, all GOP. On 2/9, the ZOA published a statement urging all senators to support the Cotton bill (presumably the ZOA will update this soon to include a call for House members to support the Poe bill). Unsurprisingly, the ZOA’s statement is replete with factually incorrect assertions (like asserting that the U.S. labeling requirements for the West Bank are new, when in fact they date to 1995 – for a reminder of the facts, see this handy explainer) and fantastical assertions (including suggesting that failing to legitimize settlements is “harmful to the cause of peace”).

NOTE: AIPAC’s “Fight the Boycott of Israel” page now includes HR 4514 and S. 2531, in addition to the two pending settlements=Israel resolutions (H. Res. 567 and S. Res. 346) and the original settlements=Israel bills, HR 825 and S. 619. This means that it is a good bet that some or all of these measures will be lobbied heavily during With AIPAC’s upcoming policy conference, starting on March 20. As of this writing, AIPAC’s page does not mention the Cotton and Poe bills.

****APN STRONGLY OPPOSES ALL OF THE ABOVE ATTEMPTS TO CONFLATE ISRAEL AND THE SETTLEMENTS OR OTHERWISE LEGITIMIZE ISRAELI SETTLEMENT ACTIVITY.****

(THROW THE PLO OUT OF US) HR 4522/S. 2537: Introduced 2/10 in the House by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 13 all-GOP cosponsors, and in the Senate by Cruz (R-TX) and no cosponsors, “To amend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987 with respect to certain prohibitions regarding the Palestine Liberation Organization under that Act.” These bills come on the heels of the 12/18/15 letter, signed by Cruz and 31 House members (including Ros-Lehtinen) calling for the closure of the PLO office (a letter praised effusivelyby the ZOA). A joint statement introducing the bills, from Cruz and Ros-Lehtinen, is here. This legislation – which is unlikely to become law, given its partisan nature – would prevent the President from waiving the ban on the PLO operating in the United States (a legal ban that dates back to the era when the PLO was a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization – something it has not been since 1994) unless he could certify that Israel and the Palestinians have reached a peace agreement (which of course would make this provision irrelevant, since at that point there would be a Palestinian state, which would not be represented by the PLO but by its own diplomats) or that:

(A) the Palestinians have not, on or after April 1, 2015, obtained in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof the same standing as member states or full membership as a state outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians;

(B) the Palestinians have officially ceased to be members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and have withdrawn from the Rome Statute;

(C) any preliminary examination or ongoing investigation against Israel, the Government of Israel, the Israeli Armed or Security Forces, or any Israeli national initiated by, or on behalf of, the Palestinians, or referred to the ICC by a state party, the United Nations Security Council, or a Pre-Trial Chamber has been withdrawn and terminated;

(D) the PLO and the Palestinian Authority no longer provide any financial award, payment, or salary to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel who have committed terrorist attacks, or their families; and

(E) the PLO and the Palestinian Authority no longer engage in a pattern of incitement against the United States or Israel; [defined in the next section as: “(1) statements, media, communication, or other activities against any religion, ethnicity, or nationality; (2) advocacy, endorsement, or glorification of violence, martyrdom, or terrorism; or (3) endorsement, glorification, honor, or other memorialization of any person or group that has advocated, sponsored, or committed acts of terrorism, including the naming after or dedication to such person or group of any school, community center, camp, stadium, public square, street, land, landmark, waterway, or other facility.”]

(US-JORDAN COOPERATION) HR 907: Introduced 2/12/15 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the “ United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015.” This bill has been bouncing back and forth between the House and Senate. On 2/10, the House voted to adopt the most recent Senate version, which should clear the way for this bill to go to the President.

(IRAN – ROBERT LEVINSON) S. Res.99: Introduced 3/10/15 by Nelson (D-FL), Rubio (R-FL), and 2 other cosponsors, “A resolution calling on the Government of Iran to fulfill its promises of assistance in the case of Robert Levinson, the longest held United States civilian in our Nation’s history.” Passed 2/11 by Unanimous Consent. Rubio (R-FL) statement touting passage of S. Res. 99 is here.

(SYRIA – HUMANITARIAN RELIEF) S. Res. 361: Introduced 2/3 by Corker (R-TN) and 10 cosponsors, “A resolution urging robust funding for humanitarian relief for Syria.” On 2/10, placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.

(NORTH KOREA) HR 757: Introduced 2/5 by Royce (R-CA) and having 36 cosponsors, the “North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016.” On 2/10, passed in the Senate, with an amendment, by a vote of 96-0. A few things worth noting:

Floor debate on the bill (here) included a great deal of comparing the U.S. approach to North Korea’s nuclear program to the approach adopted with respect to Iran.
The Senate amended version of HR 757 does not include the section from the House version entitled, “Report on nuclear program cooperation between North Korea and Iran.”
Sen. Heller (R-NV) offered an amendment to HR 757, SA 3299 (text here), seeking to force the President to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That amendment (clearly non-germane) was not considered.
Sen. Perdue (R-GA) offered two amendment to HR 757, SA 3293 and SA 3294 (text here), requiring reports on Iran-North Korea nuclear cooperation and ballistic missile cooperation, respectively. Neither amendment was considered. Perdue’s floor statement in support of his amendments is here.
(TUNISIA NOBEL PRIZE) S. Res. 330: Introduced 12/7/15 by Coons (D-DE) and having 3 cosponsors, “A resolution congratulating the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for winning the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.” On 2/10, placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.

Hearings

2/23: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Review of the FY 2017 State Department Budget Request.” The witness will be Secretary of State Kerry.

[Note: Nothing is on the public schedule yet, but it is a good bet that if Kerry is testifying 2/23 on the Foreign Affairs budget before SFRC, he is also testifying around that same time in HFAC, and also probably in the Senate and House Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittees .]

2/11: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled, “Iran Nuclear Deal Oversight: Implementation and its Consequences.” Witnessed were: Steve Mull, Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, U.S. Department of State (statement); and John Smith, Acting Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury (statement). Chairman Royce’s (R-CA) opening statement is here – opening with, “This morning the Committee continues its extensive oversight of the Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, and its consequences for the national security of the United States and our allies, which many of us believe is dire.” Ranking member Engel’s (D-NY) opening statement is here. Video of the hearing is here.Smith (R-NJ) issued a gleeful press release following the hearing, reflecting on an exchange he had with Mull, entitled “ Administration Admits Not Knowing Where Iranian Nuclear Material Is.”

2/11: The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Future of Iranian Terror and Its Threat to the US Homeland.” Witnesses were: Ilan Berman, American Foreign Policy Council (statement); Tzvi Kahn, Foreign Policy Initiative (statement), and Bilal Saab, the Atlantic Council (statement). Video of the hearing is here. Chairman King’s (R-NY) opening statement – which opens by his saying “At the outset, I want to express my strong opposition to the Iranian nuclear agreement” – ishere.

2/11: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a markup of H. Res. 148, a resolution calling on the government of Iran to fulfill their promises of assistance in this case of Robert Levinson, the longest held United States civilian in our Nation’s history. The committee amended the resolution (text here, offered by Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL and Deutch, D-FL), notably changing the title to refer to Levinson as a “hostage” rather than a “civilian.” Video of the markup ishere. Deutch’s statement on the subcommittee passing the resolution is here.

2/11: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing entitled, “Jordan: A Key U.S. Partner.” Witnesses were: Gerald Feierstein, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (statement); Paige Alexander, Assistant USAID Administrator for the Middle East (statement); and Fatema Sumar, Millennium Challenge Corporation (statement). Video of the hearing is here. Subcommittee Chair Ros-Lehtinen’s statement is here.

2/10: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a business meeting to consider S. Res.99, a resolution calling on the Government of Iran to fulfill its promises of assistance in the case of Robert Levinson, the longest held United States civilian in our Nation’s history, with amendments; S. Res. 361, a resolution urging robust funding for humanitarian relief for Syria, with an amendment; and 3. S. Res. 330, a resolution congratulating the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for winning the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. Video is here. All three measures were adopted/reported out and placed on the Senate calendar.

2/10: The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing entitled, “National Security and Law Enforcement: Breaking the New Visa Waiver Law to Appease Iran.” Witnesses were: R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (statement); and Hillary Batjer Johnson, Deputy Coordinator, Homeland Security, Screening, and Designations, Bureau of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State (statement). Opening statement from Chairman McCaul (R-TX) (conflating the ISIS threat with Iran) is here. Video of the hearing is here.

2/10: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s subcommittees on National Security and Government Operations held a hearing entitled, “The President’s Waiver of Restrictions on the Visa Waiver Program.” Witnesses were: R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (statement); Hillary Batjer Johnson, Deputy Coordinator, Homeland Security, Screening, and Designations, Bureau of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State (statement); Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration Studies (statement); Emanuele Ottolenghi, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (statement, entitled, tellingly, “The Role of Iranian Dual Nationals in Sanctions Evasion”); and Stephen Heifetz, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security, with oversight responsibility for the VWP (statement). Video of the hearing is supposed to be here (but as of this writing isn’t).

2/9: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a CLOSED hearing (TS/SCI) entitled, “Administration Update on the Way Forward in Syria and Iraq.” The briefer will be Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

2/9: The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled “Worldwide Threats.” Witnesses were James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (testimony) and Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (testimony). Both witnesses’ testimonies covered concerns in the Middle East. Including Iran post-JCPOA. Video of the hearing is here. Chairman McCain’s (R-AZ) opening statement is here.

On the Record

Klobuchar (D-MN) 2/11: Making a case for the Iran Policy Oversight Act (S. 2119), which she says does three main things: (1) “allows Congress to more quickly impose economic sanctions against Iran’s terrorist activities.” (2) “expands military aid to Israel.” And (3) “ensures that agencies charged with monitoring Iran have the resources they need.”

Smith (R-NJ) 2/11: Administration Admits Not Knowing Where Iranian Nuclear Material Is (during HFAC hearing)

Hatch (R-UT) 2/10: Making the case for the Customs bill, highlighting (inaccurately – but consistent with the conflation that has now become the dominant narrative) that it “will combat politically motivated boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against Israel.”

Zeldin (R-NY), Pompeo (R-KS) and LoBiondo (R-NJ) 2/10: (Not from the Onion) Reps. Zeldin, Pompeo and LoBiondo incensed at Iran missing deadline to respond to their visa applications

Coons (D-DE) 2/10: In the context of the vote on the North Korea sanctions bill, making a strong case for the JCPOA and making a pitch for passage of the Iran Policy Oversight Act (S. 2119), which he says would “clarify ambiguous provisions in the JCPOA, establish in statute our commitment to enforcing the deal, engage in comprehensive efforts to counter Iranian activities in the Middle East, and provide increased support to our allies in the region, especially our vital ally, Israel.”

McCain (R-AZ) 2/10: Statement by SASC Chairman John McCain on Iran’s release of new photos exploiting detained American sailors

Franks (R-AZ) 2/10:Trent’s blog “National Defense Task Force Update,” entitled, “Return of the Axis of Evil”

Poe (R-TX) 2/10: Slamming Iran for stopping US sailors, and implying fault on the Obama Administration’s part for letting them be stopped and letting them surrender.

Roskam (R-IL) 2/10: Railing against Iranian hostility to America, opposing funds being released to Iran under the JCPOA, and arguing, “it is up to Congress to do everything in our power to keep as much of this money as possible out of the hands of Iran’s terrorist proxies. The Congress must move swiftly to strengthen terrorism- and human rights-related sanctions against Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Congress must maintain strict oversight over Iran’s nuclear program as its infrastructure remains intact.”

Smith (R-NE) 2/9: Statement on Agreement with Israel to Import Nebraska Beef

Fischer (R-NE) 2/9: Fischer Praises Nebraska Beef Agreement with Israel

Thune (R-SD) 2/9: In the context of the vote on the North Korea sanctions bill, making a pitch for his bill, S. 2485, the “North Korea and Iran Sanctions Act.”

Nadler (D-NY) 2/9: Statement opposing the current E.U. product labeling proposal [sic] — but defending the current U.S. labeling policy

Russell (R-OK) 2/8: Profiled in the Times of Israel under headline, “The man who seeks to police the Iran sanctions regime”

Crenshaw (R-FL) 2/8: Op-ed in The Hill, “Let’s hold Iran accountable and reassure our allies” (excerpt: “Unless the United States and our European partners impose swift and serious consequences for destructive behavior, Iran will be tempted to use its $100 billion worth of sanctions relief to step up its support for terrorist organizations, stoke still more sectarian strife, and continue to stir up civil wars within its neighboring nations.”)
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:22 pm

GRAYZONE PROJECT
Pro-Israel Fraternity Scandal Erupts at U of Chicago, Where Authorities Have Long Ignored Its Culture of Racism
With frat's racism exposed, students call on administrators to confront wider pattern of anti-Palestinian attacks.
By Sarah Lazare / AlterNet February 15, 2016


Pro-Israel student flaunts his views on campus" because this is at a Southern California school

The University of Chicago was thrust into the media spotlight this month when leaked internal emails between members of its Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity revealed a series of lurid messages denigrating Muslims, Palestinians, Arabs, black people, and women.

Exposed by an anonymous whistleblower and published by Buzzfeed, the emails were sent on a listserv of the AEPi fraternity between 2011 and 2015. The communications contained racist rants trashing Martin Luther King Jr., referred to an abandoned lot as “Palestine,” and maligned a Muslim student activist as a “terrorist.”

As the country's most aggressively pro-Israel fraternity, AEPi "works in concert with a highly organized cadre of anti-Palestinian groups to combat divestment resolutions on college campuses across the country," according to journalists Rania Khalek and Nora Barrows Friedman. In 2011, a UC-Davis graduate named Ryan Clifford filed suit against the fraternity, alleging a culture of hazing that targeted non-Jewish pledges like himself with particularly abusive rituals. Members of other AEPi chapters have coordinated with right-wing pro-Israel groups to levy false charges of anti-Semitism, implicated supporters of Palestine on campus as terror sympathizers and worse.

In response to the racism scandal at U of Chicago, university administrators Karen Warren Coleman and Michele Rasmussen distributed an open letter to the student body last week stating that the attitudes and views the emails express “are unacceptable, violate the University’s core values, and conflict with our strong commitment to ensuring that people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives can thrive on our campus.”

Yet nearly 50 campus groups, the student government, and a legal advocacy organization charged that the administration has not gone far enough to confront a longstanding culture of racism and harassment on campus. This failure, they say, is due in part to the administration's seeming inability to name—let alone confront—a key component of the problem: The pattern of anti-Palestinian attacks that extend far beyond any single fraternity.

“We are trying to get the university to uphold their own values,” Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) member Hoda Katebi told AlterNet. “It’s emotionally taxing.”

A Wave of Homophobic and Racist Harassment by Pro-Israel Forces

It has been three months since attorney Rahul Saksena of the legal advocacy group Palestine Legal delivered a letter to the University of Chicago administration expressing concern over a “documented pattern of suppression to silence Palestinian human rights advocacy” at the premiere school.

Addressing President Robert Zimmer, the letter from Saksena highlights a number of troubling incidents. A fake Facebook account under the name “Rachel Corrie” — an American solidarity activist killed by the Israeli military in Gaza in 2003 — harassed and threatened students who spoke out in support of Palestinian human rights. The anonymously maintained profile threatened to publish nude photographs of one SJP member, as well as harassment in the form of transphobic messages to a queer and transgender member of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

A separate false account was reportedly created around the same time using the profile image of a Palestinian student and member of SJP. The person or people behind that account then left “a series of harassing, threatening, sexual, and misogynistic comments on SJP’s Facebook page,” wrote Saksena.

In another example, public materials memorializing Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were torn down and vandalized with epithets, including the word “terrorist.”

In each case, students reported the violation to the administration. And in a press statement dated last November, SJP called on the university to protect their right to organize and condemn “the campaign of harassment.”

Administrators say they responded by launching an investigation, in which they were unable to determine who was responsible.

According to Saksena, university officials “have not, however, taken any meaningful steps to ensure that Palestinian and Arab students and Palestine solidarity activists on campus enjoy the right to speak out without fear of harassment and intimidation, despite our reminder of their legal obligations, and despite students' repeated demands.”

It was during that period of inaction that the far more public AEPi scandal broke.

"Conquistadors and Aztec Hoes"

According to a large swath of the University of Chicago’s organized student body, the school’s racist culture runs deeper than last fall’s string of attack on Palestinian rights activists.

In a joint statement released last week in response to the AEPi revelations, the Muslim Students Association, Organization of Black Students and SJP condemned the university’s failure to “respond adequately to anti-Palestinian and anti-black racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny in AEPi and fraternity culture on campus.”

Endorsed by nearly 50 student organizations, including the student government, the statement highlights a number of disturbing incidents. In one example, the Delta Upsilon (DU) fraternity reportedly “placed a Confederate flag near what was then the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.” Just days later, that same fraternity hosted a party titled “DU Presents: Conquistadors and Aztec Hoes.” The invitation, which called on those attending to bring “an unlimited need to conquer, spread disease, and enslave natives,” attracted some negative press at the time.

“Evidence of a toxic campus climate is highly prevalent,” the students argued. In the spring of 2014, a “Palestinian was repeatedly attacked with false allegations of anti-Semitism in an attempt to prevent her from being elected to a seat in Student Government due to her political activism,” the statement notes. And in May 2015, a Palestinian organizer with SJP received “a threatening message addressed to her personal Facebook account warning her against her continued activism.”

The university’s response to the AEPi scandal, students charge, has failed to fully account for this history. In their letter sent last week to the student body, Rasmussen and Coleman called the AEPi emails disrespectful and harmful to “members of our Muslim and African-American communities and to women.” But the word “Palestinian” appears nowhere in their statement. Katebi said the omission comes despite the fact that "we've been meeting with the administration since the huge stream of harassment toward members of SJP last quarter, trying to get them to release statement condemning what happened.”

“We have noticed the administration will only act if there is press,” Katebi continued. “All they care about is their ranking and how they look in the press.”

Hundreds of Incidents of Pro-Israel Suppression

A report released by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal in September of 2015 found that U.S. campuses are ground-zero for the suppression of advocacy for Palestinian human rights. Between January 2014 and June 2015 alone, Palestine Legal says it “responded to nearly 300 incidents of suppression; 85% of those incidents targeted students and professors, on a total of more than 65 US college campuses.”

According to the investigation, the most commonly used tactics include: "false and inflammatory accusations of anti-Semitism and support for terrorism," official denunciations, bureaucratic barriers, legislation, threats to academic freedom, and criminal investigations.

In a separate report also released in September 2015, Jewish Voice for Peace corroborated the findings.

"Far-right political organizations, like StandWithUs and the Zionist Organization of America, as well as many prominent Jewish organizations with much broader communal mandates, such as Hillel International, Jewish Federations (specifically their Israel on Campus Coalition), and the Anti-Defamation League, intervene on campuses in efforts to muzzle political criticisms of Israeli policies," the report stated.

AEPi is a central catalyst of the larger trend of pro-Israel intimidation on campus. With over 180 chapters, the fraternity partners with the Jewish National Fund, a powerful Israeli organization actively involved in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Bedouin citizens of Israel.

In 2014, AEPi became the first student organization to fully join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, with the explicit goal of advancing pro-Israel advocacy. That same year, the fraternity condemned pro-Israel group J-Street for criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to undermine the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran. AEPi’s rebuke played a role in preventing J-Street from joining the Conference of Presidents, thereby aligning the fraternity with Israel’s far right.

Palestine Legal noted in its report that AEPi "frequently signs on to Israel advocacy coalition letters calling for restricting criticism of Israel." This includes a letter in March 2015 urging the University of California at Irvine to label criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

Within this climate, students across the country “are demanding that their Universities take a stand against institutional racism and discrimination, as well as specific incidents like the AEPi emails,” said Saksena. “This includes anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim targeting.”

Meanwhile, University of Chicago student groups say they will continue to demand accountability and redress. “When students cannot simply exist in a space without continuous harassment, hate speech, and threats of violence,” the groups declared in their joint statement, “it is apparent that the University of Chicago—our university—is failing us.”
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:37 am

From US to UK, the crackdown on speech about Palestine intensifies

Ali Abunimah Activism and BDS Beat 17 February 2016

Image
Students take part in a March 2014 rally against a decision by Boston’s Northeastern University to suspend Students for Justice in Palestine. Bryan MacCormack LeftInFocus
The crackdown on speech about Palestine is intensifying from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Cambridge, England.

In the latest example, a major law firm has reportedly pulled $250,000 in student activity funding from Harvard Law School.

Ironically, the law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadely & McCloy, withdrew the money because of an event last October titled “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack.”

The panel featured Palestine Legal staff attorney Radhika Sainath; Omar Shakir of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Kendall Bousquet, an undergraduate at Northeastern University, whose administration had suspended Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine in 2014.

The panel was sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Justice for Palestine student group.

According to Justice for Palestine, what prompted the retaliation is that the student group had thanked Milbank for providing the funding that paid for $500 worth of pizza for attendees of the lunchtime event.

Among the topics discussed at the standing-room only seminar was the case of Steven Salaita, infamously fired from his University of Illinois professorship in 2014 after pressure from donors over his tweets about Gaza.

In a letter in the Harvard Law Record, Justice for Palestine explains that acknowledging the source of the funds was simply a standard condition that they had to fulfill when drawing on the Milbank money that is available to support the activities of all student groups.

But then the backlash began. The day after the event, Justice for Palestine says, the dean of the students office asked the student group to remove all references to Milbank’s “generous support” from the student group’s Facebook event page. This came after “a flood of angry phone calls and emails received from Milbank executives and other off-campus parties over the previous 24 hours.”

“Even though the event had already passed, it was evident that the administration was feeling tremendous pressure to do something, anything, to appease Milbank,” Justice for Palestine says.

“In exchange for a written guarantee that JFP’s future funding (be it from Milbank or any other source) would not be adversely affected, we agreed to remove the sentence from the Facebook event page,” Justice for Palestine adds. “Though that guarantee was promised to us, we never got it.”

According to Justice for Palestine, that’s because Milbank had demanded that the group no longer be allowed to use its funds.

Justice for Palestine says that Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow informed them “this was not a demand her administration could honor, so Milbank decided to pull out all of its annual $250,000 in student activity funding as a result of her administration’s ‘principled stance’ in support of our right to speak openly and honestly about Palestine.”

“We are grateful to Dean Minow and the law school administration for refusing to buckle under intense anti-Palestinian pressure,” Justice for Palestine says.

Pressure
But there’s no doubt that Minow’s stance would have been more impressive and principled if Justice for Palestine had not been pressured to remove the reference to Milbank funding in the first place.

Justice for Palestine said it published the letter to set the record straight about why Harvard Law School had announced “without explanation” at the beginning of the semester that the Milbank fund would no longer be available to any student groups.

There is evidence that Milbank was pressured by NGO Monitor, an anti-Palestinian group that works closely with the Israeli government.

NGO Monitor posted on its website a letter dated 22 October 2015 questioning Milbank about the Justice for Palestine event.

A reply from Milbank, posted by NGO Monitor, says that Justice for Palestine included a reference on the group’s Facebook page that “created a false impression that Milbank endorsed the views expressed by [the] group.”

“At the request of Harvard Law School, the sponsoring student organization has removed that statement from its website,” the Milbank response says.

“Israel advocacy groups and big donors are sending a powerful message that if you allow discussion of Palestinian rights at your university, you will be punished,” Radhika Sainath of Palestine Legal says of the incident. “One can see how colleges without Harvard’s endowment might find it hard to allow open debate on one of the most critical issues of our time.”

Thatcher revisited
Meanwhile, Palestinians are condemning new rules being imposed by the UK government that will prevent local municipalities and public bodies, including universities, from making ethical purchasing or investment decisions.

Following calls from Palestinians, such public bodies have dropped contracts with firms that profit from Israel’s occupation, including G4S, the private-prison company that equips Israel’s occupation jails where thousands of Palestinians are held.

The UK government has specifically cited the growing strength of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as a reason for the political crackdown.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is calling the move by Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration “a grave mistake similar to Margaret Thatcher’s unwavering support of apartheid South Africa.”

“Rather than working to hold Israel to account for its ongoing human rights violations, UK ministers continue the arms trade with Israel and attack local democracy in order to shield it from any criticism,” Rafeef Ziadah, a UK spokesperson for the BNC, states.

The BNC notes that Cameron himself crossed the anti-apartheid picket line, accepting a free junket to South Africa as late as 1989, when the international boycott of the racist state was well established.

“This assault on basic free speech and local democracy comes in the context of major ideological public spending cuts and government attacks on the Muslim community, trade unions and the right to protest,” the BNC’s Ziadah adds.

“Greatest threat”
In a powerful article – apparently published before news of the Harvard incident broke – Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman call the crackdown on Palestine-related activism the “greatest threat to free speech in the West.”

While The Intercept journalists acknowledge that there are other forms of suppression taking place, they say that “in terms of systematic, state-sponsored, formalized punishments for speech and activism, nothing compares to the growing multi-nation effort to criminalize activism against Israeli occupation.”

Among others, this repression includes the prosecutions of BDS activists in France and a raft of new anti-BDS legislation across the US.

Greenwald and Fishman also call out the hypocrisy of celebrated liberal pundits, such as New York’s Jonathan Chait, who have made a cottage industry of complaining about “political correctness” and other alleged threats to free speech on campuses but “have completely ignored what is far and away the most widespread form of campus censorship: namely, punishment of those who engage in activism against Israeli actions.”

This is a point that was previously made here at The Electronic Intifada by none other than Steven Salaita.

The formidable crackdown is a response to the growing global support for Palestinian rights and for holding Israel accountable.

The would-be censors may even be doing the BDS movement a favor. Not only are Israel’s backers on the wrong side of history when it comes to Palestinian rights, they are also revealing themselves as enemies of the most cherished freedoms: the right to express an opinion and to advocate and organize for social change.

That can only help make the case for how important it is not to let the bullying, intimidation and threats against the movement for Palestinian rights succeed.
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:11 pm

GRAYZONE PROJECT
Christian Zionists Reach New Heights of Absurdity in Latest Anti-Palestinian Propaganda Video
New Christian Zionist propaganda targeting millennials would be hilarious if it weren't so deceptive.
By Sarah Lazare / AlterNet March 7, 2016

New Christian Zionist propaganda compares supporting BDS with shooting the bible.
Photo Credit: Screen shot from HaYovel video

A Christian Zionist organization just released a brazen new video targeting U.S. millennials which compares global support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign with the literal act of shooting a Bible – and equates the state of Israel with God.

The short film comes amid a coordinated U.S. and Israeli attack on the global movement for BDS, which was initiated over ten years ago by Palestinian civil society groups to demand human rights and self-determination and force Israel into compliance with international conventions. The Israeli government recently revealed that it is earmarking $26 million in this year’s budget for the purpose of sabotaging and spying on BDS supporters and Muslim activists in the United States and Europe.

This new video, released by HaYovel as part of a contest organized by the Israel Video Network, appears to be the latest salvo in the anti-BDS onslaught – this time fired from the U.S. Christian Zionist camp. It is a transparent effort to reach to reach out to young people with a slick and smooth – if outrageous – video which casts an ordinary, light-haired, church-going young American man named Wyatt at the center of the story.

Because Wyatt “cares deeply about the world and people,” he is seduced by “social media and Internet” messages about the oppression and occupation of Palestinians. Under this spell, the young man makes the bold decision to round up all of his possessions that were manufactured in Israel, take them outside, and shoot them on-by-one with an actual rifle. Among the items Wyatt riddles with bullets are a jar of Dannon yogurt, an iPhone, and a bag of McDonald's hamburgers -- items manufactured by companies that have never been targeted by the BDS movement.

Wyatt is stopped by a friend, who explains that if he is going to fire at his SodaStream device and computer monitor, then he may as well shoot the Bible, because it was “made in Israel.”

Our light-haired hero is finally brought to his senses by his wise friend, who stunningly proclaims: “Most Palestinians aren’t oppressed. Those who are are oppressed by their own government. Israel provides them with work, free electricity, health care and loads of humanitarian aid. I was there and saw it.”

The video closes with the proclamation, “Don’t boycott God.”

While HaYovel – and the propaganda it produces – may seem fringe, the organization is part of a U.S. Christian Zionist camp that has real clout. The group was founded by a Tennessee couple, and its stated mission is to “take an active role in, and educate people about, the prophetic RESTORATION of the land of Israel that is happening TODAY!”

HaYovel is just one of 40 U.S.-based organizations that, aided by American taxpayers’ subsidies, have together donated over $200 million to ethnically cleanse Palestinians for the construction of illegal settlements.

HaYovel has collaborated with Christians United for Israel, which received a glowing endorsement from the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has teamed up with powerful pro-Israel lobby organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. These alliances continue to grow even though the leaders of Christian Zionism profess profoundly anti-Semitic teachings, including that Jews should be instrumentalized to hasten Armageddon, upon which only Christians will be saved.

As many have pointed out, the political ideology of Christian Zionism is also deeply racist against Palestinians. In a statement released in 2006, heads of Palestinian churches in Jerusalem rejected Christian Zionism as “a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism.”

David Wildman, executive secretary for human rights and racial justice with the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, told AlterNet that the video trivializes and demonizes the BDS movement, which emerged from “over 100 Palestinian organizations from various political views coming together in commitment to human rights and nonviolent moral economic action.” He argued that the short film also “shows the danger of social media linked with young men with guns.”

And Rev. Dr. Don Wagner of Friends of Sabeel – North America, warned that the short film “may provoke laughter or ridicule from astute observers but I urge everyone to recognize the dangerous theology and "Hasbara" (propaganda) motivations behind it.” He emphasized, “The deeper issues are the misuse of the Bible and theology in the messaging of the video that is designed to advance an extreme political agenda.”
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:50 am

Giant British security firm G4S to end Israeli business after BDS pressure
By contributors | Mar. 11, 2016 |

Ma’an News Agency | – –
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — British security giant G4S announced Wednesday plans to sell its Israeli businesses in the next 12 to 24 months citing commercial reasons, according to the official website of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.
The world’s largest private security company has been a major target for the movement, and has lost millions of dollars in contracts in more than a dozen countries as a result of a four-year long BDS campaign against them.

The announcement to close the Israeli subsidiary of the company was reported in their full-year results released Wednesday that showed a 40 percent fall in pre-tax profits.
Private businesses, universities, trade unions, and UN bodies are among the company’s lost clients, including the Bill Gates Foundation, which divested its $170 million stake in the company in 2014 following protests at its offices in Seattle, London and Johannesburg.
Earlier this month the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Jordan also ended its contract with G4S.
In April 2012 the company’s involvement in Israeli prisons came under the spotlight as thousands of detainees in Israeli jails launched a mass hunger strike against poor treatment in custody.
G4S provides assistance to prisons inside Israel as well as equipment for Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank, and other detention facilities, activists say.
The company announced in 2013 its intention to end its role in illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and the prison by 2015 but did not implement the withdrawal.
G4S announced in 2014 it “did not intend to renew” its contract with the Israeli Prison Service when it expired in 2017 but has not yet implemented decision, according to the BDS Movement.
The Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer called for the United Nations late last year to take action against G4S for its role in violent abuses that have taken place in detention centers worldwide.
In another recent victory from the BDS campaign, French telecoms giant Orange has announced the termination of its franchise relationship with Israeli company Partner Communications.
The Palestinian civil society campaign for BDS calls for applying broad boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives against Israel, similar to those applied to South Africa during the apartheid era, until Israel meets its obligations under international law by respecting the basic right of the Palestinian people to self determination.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed the BDS movement, and a recent EU decision to prohibit settlement products from being labelled “Made in Israel” briefly drove a wedge between EU and Israeli leadership at the end of last year.
British proposals to forbid a boycott of Israeli settlement goods by publicly-funded British institutions brought heavy criticism from the BDS movement last month.
Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the UK branch of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, slammed the British proposal at the time.
“By undermining local democracy in service of Israel, David Cameron is standing on the wrong side of history, just as Margaret Thatcher did with her support for apartheid South Africa,” Ziadah said.
“The BDS movement in the UK has achieved wide support precisely because of the failure of successive UK governments to take action in response to Israel’s war crimes.”
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:26 am

Why BDS Cannot Lose
A Moral Threshold to Combat Racism in Israel
by Ramzy Baroud / March 16th, 2016

A foray of condemnations of the boycott of Israel seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Calls from Western governments, originating from the UK, the US, Canada and others, to criminalize the boycott of Israel have hardly slowed down the momentum of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). On the contrary, it has accelerated.

It is as if history is repeating itself. Western governments took on the pro-South African Anti-Apartheid Movement, fighting it at every corner and branding its leaders. Nelson Mandela and many of his comrades were called terrorists.

Once he passed away in 2013, top US politicians vied for the opportunity to list the late African leader’s great qualities in their many press conferences, speaking of his commitment to justice and human rights. However, Mandela’s name was not removed from the US terrorism watch list till 2008.

The Reagan administration called the African National Congress – the main platform for the anti-apartheid struggle – a terrorist group, as well. The ANC’s strategy against the Apartheid government was “calculated terror”, the administration said in 1986.

Many South Africans would tell you that the fight for equality is far from over, and that the struggle against institutional apartheid has been replaced by equally pressing matters. Corruption, neoliberal economics, and disproportionate allocation of wealth are only a few such challenges.

But aside from those who are still holding on to the repellent dream of racial superiority, the vast majority of humanity looks back at South Africa’s Apartheid era with revulsion.

The South Africa experience, which is still fresh in the memory of most people, is now serving as a frame of reference in the struggle against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine, where Jews have been designated as a privileged race, and Palestinian Muslims and Christians are poorly treated, oppressed and occupied.

While racism is, unfortunately, a part of life and is practiced, observed and reported on in many parts of the world, institutionalized racism through calculated governmental measures is only practiced – at least, openly – in a few countries around the world: Burma is one of them. However, no country is as adamant and open about its racially-motivated laws and apartheid rules as the Israeli government. Almost every measure taken by the Israeli Knesset that pertains to Arabs is influenced by this mindset: Palestinians must remain inferior, and Jews must ensure their superiority at any cost.

The outcome of Israel’s racist pipe dream has been a tremendous amount of violence, palpable inequality, massive walls, trenches, Jews-only roads, military occupation, and even laws that outlaw the very questioning of these practices.

Yet, the greater its failure to suppress Palestinian Resistance and to slow down the flow of solidarity from around the world with the oppressed people, the more Israel labors to ensure its dominance and invest in racial segregation.

“The whole world is against us,” is quite a common justification in Israel itself, of the international reaction to Israel’s Apartheid practices. With time, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and feeds on past notions that are no longer applicable. No matter how many companies divest from Israel – the latest being the world’s largest security corporation G4S – and, no matter how many universities and churches vote to boycott Israel, Israeli society remains entrenched behind the slogan and its disconcerting sense of victimization.

Many Israelis believe that their country is a ‘villa in a jungle’ – a notion that is constantly enforced by top Israeli leaders. Right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is purposely advancing the crippling fear in his own society. Unable to see the unmistakable crimes he has carried out against Palestinians for years, he continues to perpetuate the idea of the purity of Israel and the wickedness of everyone else.

In February, he spoke of the need to create yet more fences to keep his ‘villa in the jungle’ safe, and, to quote, “to defend ourselves against the wild beasts” in neighboring countries. The statement was made only a few weeks before the launch of the annual Israel Apartheid Week in numerous cities around the world. It is as if the Israeli leader wished to contribute to the global campaign which is successfully making a case against Israel as being an Apartheid state that ought to be boycotted.

Israel is, of course, no ‘villa in the jungle’. Since its inception over the ruins of destroyed and occupied Palestine, it has meted out tremendous violence, provoked wars and harshly responded to any resistance carried out by its victims. Similar to the US and the UK designation of Mandela as a ‘terrorist’, Palestinian Resistance and its leaders are also branded, shunned, and imprisoned. Israel’s so-called ‘targeted killings’ – the assassination of hundreds of Palestinians in recent years – have often been applauded by the US and other Israeli allies as victories in their ‘war on terror.’

Comforted by the notion that the US and other western governments are on their side, most Israelis are not worried about exhibiting their racism and calling for more violence against Palestinians. According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center and revealed on March 08, nearly half of Israel’s Jewish population want to expel Palestinians to outside of their historic homeland.

The study was conducted between October 2014 and May 2015 – months before the current Intifada began in October 2015 – and is described as a first-of-its-kind survey as it reached out to over 5,600 Israeli adults and touched on myriads of issues, including religion and politics. 48% of all Israeli Jews want to exile Arabs. However, the number is significantly higher – 71% – among those who define themselves as ‘religious’.

What options are then left for Palestinians, who have been victimized and ethnically cleansed from their own historic homeland for 68 years, when they are described and treated as ‘beasts’, killed at will, and suffer under a massive system of apartheid and racial discrimination that has never ceased after all of these years?

BDS, has, thus far, been the most successful strategy and tactic to support Palestinian Resistance and steadfastness while, at the same time, holding Israel accountable for its progressively worsening policies of apartheid. The main objective behind BDS, an entirely non-violent movement that is championed by civil society across the globe, is not to punish ordinary Israelis, but to raise awareness of the suffering of Palestinians and to create a moral threshold that must be achieved if a just peace is ever to be realized.

That moral threshold has already been delineated in the relationship between Palestinians and South Africans when Mandela himself said, “We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

He was not trying to be cordial or diplomatic. He meant every word. And, finally, many around the world are making the same connection, and are wholeheartedly in agreement.
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Re: Palestine

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:25 am

MONDAY, APR 18, 2016 06:59 AM CDT
U.S. acknowledges Israel’s unlawful killings, excessive force, torture, discrimination against Palestinians
Summary of lengthy U.S. State Department report detailing human rights violations in Israel & occupied territories
BEN NORTON


U.S. acknowledges Israel's unlawful killings, excessive force, torture, discrimination against Palestinians
Israeli forces detain a Palestinian man at a protest in the occupied West Bank, near the town of Abu Dis on February 16, 2015 (Credit: Reuters/Ammar Awad)
A new report by the U.S. State Department thoroughly details how the Israeli government discriminates against Palestinians in almost every aspect of society.

In its 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor acknowledges the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.”

The U.S. also confirms that Israeli government forces are responsible for unlawful killings and the use of excessive force and torture against Palestinians.

In the occupied territories, the State Department acknowledges Israel’s “abuse of Palestinian detainees, including children, particularly during arrest and interrogation; austere and overcrowded detention facilities; improper security detention procedures; demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property; limitations on freedom of expression, assembly and association; and severe restrictions on Palestinians’ internal and external freedom of movement.”

The report documents Israel’s violent repression of Palestinian journalists and peaceful activists. It also addresses the hundreds of attacks on Palestinian civilians each year by extremist Israeli settlers, who are guaranteed almost complete impunity.

The 124-page report is divided into multiple parts, distinguishing Palestinian citizens of Israel from Palestinians living under illegal military control in the occupied territories.

It also separately documents violations of human rights by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Yet, while U.S. government officials and media outlets frequently publicly speak about crimes committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, rarely are the Israeli government’s own crimes so openly acknowledged.

The following is a detailed summary of the lengthy report’s key findings, organized according to the type of human rights violation.



Killings and excessive force
The U.S. State Department report documents “excessive use of force by Israeli Security Forces in a number of their interactions with Palestinian civilians, and arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity.”

In 2015, Israeli forces killed 149 Palestinians, roughly half (72) of whom were not attempting to attack Israelis.

Israeli forces killed 22 Palestinian civilians before Oct. 1, when the wave of violence increased. Another 127 Palestinian civilians were killed after Oct. 1.

Some of those killed or injured were children. The report cites an example in March 2015, in which an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was shot in the stomach during a weekly protest.

The State Department did not mention a U.N. report that found that Palestinians were injured 14,000 times in 2015.

Acknowledging “human rights abuses related to actions by Israeli authorities,” the report also notes that Israeli occupation forces regularly use live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets to clampdown on Palestinian protests, which have killed civilians.

“The continued frequent use of live ammunition [is] a serious concern,” it states, adding that there “were numerous reports of [Israeli forces] killing Palestinians during riots, demonstrations, at checkpoints, and during routine operations; in some cases they did not pose a threat to life.”

Israeli officials made no response to numerous reports by Israeli human rights organizations regarding Israeli soldiers using excessive force, the State Department confirms.

The report furthermore documents Israel’s “disproportionate force and indiscriminate fire” in its summer 2014 war in Gaza, “resulting in unnecessary and excessive civilian casualties.”

Citing human rights reports, the State Department recognizes the Israeli military’s “heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighborhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations and caused widespread destruction of homes and civilian property.”

The Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, often attacked medical teams and facilities and denied medical evacuations, the report notes.

Children paid a large toll in the war. 535 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza, nearly 68 percent of whom were 12 years old or younger, the report notes.

It also cites human rights organization that “found overwhelming and repeated evidence that Israeli forces committed grave violations against children amounting to war crimes,” including “direct targeting of children by Israeli drone-fired missiles and attacks on schools.”



Institutional discrimination
“Arab citizens, many of whom self-identify as Palestinian, faced institutional and societal discrimination” in Israel, the U.S. State Department acknowledges.

Israeli security forces and citizens racially profile Arab citizens and carry out revenge attacks against Arabs, the report notes. Numerous examples are cited, such as an October incident in which four Arabs in the Israeli town of Dimona were stabbed by an Israeli man who told police he did it because “all Arabs are terrorists.”

These attacks affect Arab citizens of all religions, not just Muslims. Citizens of the Druze religion, for example, have been attacked by Israelis for speaking Arabic.

Approximately 12.5 percent of Israeli land is owned by the NGO the Jewish National Fund, or JNF, which bans sale or lease of land to non-Jews. The NGO the Israel Land Fund, which calls it a “danger” for non-Jews to own land in Israel, buys Arab land and then sells it to Jewish immigrants.

More than 150,000 children in the country lack citizenship and thus full legal rights, not including children of refugees and migrants, the report notes. Among these are children of mixed marriages, especially those between Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinian residents of the occupied territories.

The report also details instances of Israeli businesses such as the Cafe Cafe chain of coffee shops which have refused to employ Arabs.

A 2014 survey cited found 42 percent of Israeli employers would prefer not to hire Arab men and 46 percent of respondents said they would prefer not to work with Arab men.

Arab citizens of Israel who work at municipal school systems as maintenance, janitorial and construction workers have also been told “to be absent from school premises when students were present, citing pressure from parents.”

The report further details how Arab communities face economic discrimination, particularly Bedouin Arabs, and discrimination in education. Palestinians working in Israeli settlements, for instance, get paid less than the Israeli minimum wage.

Palestinians are not the only group the faces discrimination in Israel, however. The U.S. indicates that there is also institutional discrimination against intermarried families, refugees, foreign workers and non-Orthodox Jews in Israel.

The country’s estimated 135,500 Ethiopian Jews face systemic discrimination, the report notes, as do Sephardi or Mizrahi Jews, those of Middle Eastern heritage.

Moreover, the State Department acknowledges that some foreign workers in Israel, particularly those who work in agriculture and construction, endure “conditions of forced labor, including the unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on freedom of movement, limited ability to change or otherwise choose employers, nonpayment of wages, exceedingly long working hours, threats, sexual assault, and physical intimidation.”



Imprisonment and torture
“Throughout the year there were reports Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank arbitrarily arrested and detained numerous Palestinian protesters and activists, particularly those participating in demonstrations against the separation barrier or against killings of Palestinians,” the report notes.

Palestinians can be arbitrarily arrested without charge or trial and do not have access to a lawyer until after interrogation, a process that could last weeks. They are denied visits by family, medical professionals and more.

Some Palestinians are arrested in IDF raids of Palestinian homes, which typically take place at night.

There are roughly 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, roughly 6,000 of whom are Palestinian security prisoners or detainees from the occupied territories, including more than 400 children.

“These prisoners often faced harsher conditions than those of the general [Israeli] prison population,” the report says.

The “‘physical interrogation methods’ permitted by Israeli law and used by Israeli security personnel could amount to torture,” the State Department acknowledges, although Israeli officials denies this. Physical methods include beatings, forcing an individual to hold a stress position for long periods and painful pressure from shackles or restraints.

Forms of psychological abuse exist too, including solidarity confinement, sleep deprivation and threats to family members and their homes.

Authorities also use poor conditions and inadequate access to medical care as an interrogation or intimidation method, the report notes.

The State Department acknowledges that Israeli authorities use these tactics on Palestinian minors as well. Detained Palestinian minors face “extreme violence,” including sexual assault.

Citing a U.N. Children’s Fund report, the U.S. acknowledges “mistreatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.”

Israeli authorities use confessions that Palestinian children were forced to sign in Hebrew, which most of them are unable to read, as evidence against them in military courts, the State Department also acknowledges.

Israel tries Palestinians accused of throwing rocks in military courts, which NGOs say are inadequate and unfair. Israeli courts also use “secret evidence” in cases against Palestinians.

In some cases, Palestinians go on hunger strike for months at a time in protest of their arbitrary detention without charge or trial, causing permanent brain damage.

The State Department also mentions Israel’s “anti-infiltrator” laws, which impose long-term detention on refugees and migrants, primarily those of African descent, who enter the country illegally.

It acknowledges that the Israeli government provides “protection and assistance to some refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern, including victims of trafficking, but not to others.”

The report notes Israel’s deportation of detained refugees and migrants, and the government’s failure to give refugee status to “the vast majority of migrants of sub-Saharan African origin, including Eritreans and Sudanese.”

Thousands of African refugees and migrants are held in the Holot prison, including almost 200 torture survivors, where they face “severe cold in winter, heat in summer and poor food quality.”



Settler attacks
Approximately 370,000 Israeli settlers lived in the occupied West Bank, with an additional roughly 250,000 in occupied East Jerusalem, according to the report.

“Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians continue[s] to be a problem, as did only limited punishment of these acts by Israeli authorities,” the State Department acknowledges.

There were 214 settler attacks as of December 2 that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage.

Of these hundreds of attacks, the report mentions an attack in July, in which extremist Israeli settlers firebombed the home of a Palestinian family, killing an 18-month-old infant and his parents.

“Some Israeli settlers reportedly used violence against Palestinians to harass them and to keep them away from land settlers sought to acquire,” the U.S. says.

“Price tag” attacks carried out by extremist Israelis, are common “throughout the country,” and target Arabs of all religions, including Muslims and Christians, the report notes.

These price tag attacks include arsons, defacement of homes and vehicles, damage to Muslim and Christian holy sites, assaults and damage to agricultural lands.

Graffiti with racist messages written in Hebrew are common, including phrases like “Death to Arabs” and “There is no coexistence with cancer.”

Israeli authorities “did not respond sufficiently to violence perpetrated against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank,” the State Department acknowledges. Authorities closed somewhere from 85 to more than 90 percent of files on these attacks without taking punitive action.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the report notes, said Israeli officials “displayed bias against Palestinian residents in investigating incidents involving Palestinian and Israeli actors.” There was a mere 1.9 percent probability that a complaint submitted to Israeli police by a Palestinian would lead to a conviction.



Freedoms of press, speech and assembly
The report also details how Israeli authorities “restrict press coverage and place limits on certain forms of expression in the Palestinian Occupied Territories — particularly by restricting Palestinian journalists’ rights of movement and through violence, arrests and intimidation.”

Palestinian journalists face “discrimination, harassment and violence in Jerusalem,” not just in the occupied territories.

In Jerusalem, Israeli authorities punish displays of Palestinian political symbols, and Israeli security officials regularly prohibit or interrupt meetings of Palestinian politicians, the State Department acknowledges.

Israeli authorities restrict “coverage of incidents that might reflect badly on Israeli policies,” the State Department says.

Israeli forces have also been accused of “permitting extremist Israelis to attack or intimidate Palestinian journalists,” doing nothing to stop settlers’ attacks, the U.S. confirms.

Palestinian journalists have also been arrested and, under threat of violence, have been forced by Israeli authorities to delete photos and videos, the report notes.

Palestinian journalists have been physically attacked and pepper sprayed by the IDF, and have been shot with both live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets while reporting on protests.

The Israeli government also closes or threatens to close West Bank radio broadcasters and pressures other Palestinian journalists to self-censor.

Freedom of assembly is also limited for Palestinians. The State Department notes the IDF uses a 1967 military order that prohibits Palestinian demonstrations and limits freedom of speech in the West Bank. Under the order, Palestinians who gather in groups of larger than 10 people can be imprisoned for 10 years.

“The IDF d[oes] not respect freedom of assembly and often respond[s] to demonstrators aggressively,” the State Department says.

Israeli security forces use violence and “military crowd-control techniques,” including tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition, to break up protests in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinian civilians have been killed in this violence, including children as young as an eight-month-old Muhammad who inhaled tear gas.



Demolitions
The report additionally documents the frequent demolitions of Palestinian properties.

As of December 2, Israeli authorities demolished 499 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, it notes.

Demolitions in August 2015 “reached an all-time high for any month over the past five years.” Israeli authorities demolished 131 Palestinian structures in the month alone, displacing 201 people.

These demolitions sometimes make dwellings near destroyed homes uninhabitable, the report adds.

In July 2014, the Israeli government revived a policy of “punitive demolitions,” which has continued.

In the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israel destroys homes, cisterns and other Palestinian buildings and property because they lack Israeli planning licenses. The State Department acknowledges, however, that Israeli “residence restrictions ma[k]e it almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits,” while simultaneously “providing preferential treatment for Israeli settlements in these areas,” effectively guaranteeing that Palestinians will be displaced and replaced by Israelis.

After forcibly evicting Palestinians from properties in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities “facilitat[e] takeover of their property by settler organizations,” the U.S. confirms.

Citing the U.N., the State Department also indicates that settler violence, movement restrictions and restricted access to services and resources combine with demolitions to make displacement even worse.

The 2014 war in Gaza was especially disastrous, in terms of displacement.

The U.S. notes the conflict, known as Operation Protective Edge, internally displaced 520,000 people within Gaza, and damaged or destroyed more than 143,000 Palestinian homes.

As of September 2015 — more than a year later — the report indicates that just 6.7 percent of construction materials required to rebuild and repair the houses destroyed and damaged in the war had entered Gaza.



Restrictions on movement
Israel also imposes “severe restrictions on movement” on Palestinians, the State Department acknowledges.

Barriers to movement include a multitude of checkpoints, a separation barrier dividing the occupied West Bank from Israel and occupied East Jerusalem and road closures.

The IDF also enforces arbitrary curfews, limiting Palestinian freedom of movement.

“Restrictions on movement affec[t] virtually all aspects of life, including access to places of worship, employment, agricultural lands, schools and hospitals, as well as the conduct of journalistic, humanitarian and NGO activities,” the report notes.

In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians face “significant restrictions” in accessing Jerusalem, and are frequently prohibited from traveling some or all cities.

“Palestinian travel is restricted or entirely prohibited on 41 roads and sections of roads throughout the West Bank, including many of the main traffic arteries, covering a total of more than 400 miles of roadway, upon which Israelis may travel freely,” the report notes.

The Israeli government has also “obstructed refugee access to U.N.-provided humanitarian assistance in the West Bank and Gaza,” the State Department acknowledges.

This restriction on movement has “negative economic effects,” the State Department confirms.

Israel also imposes restrictions on the movement of goods into and out of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In Gaza, the restrictions on movement are even more harsh.

The Israeli naval blockade officially prevents Palestinian fishermen from moving six nautical miles off of the Gaza coast, but Israeli authorities still regularly shoot at fishers when they are within the six-mile mark, or tow them to Israeli ports, confiscate their boats and detain them, the U.S. acknowledges.

Israel also enforces a “buffer zone” within 328 feet of the Gaza boundary with Israel, restricting access to nearly 35 percent of Gaza’s cultivable land. Is Palestinian try to enter this territory, they are shot.

Gazan civilians have been shot and killed for walking up to 1,640 yards inside the border fence, “meaning, if the ‘buffer zone’ extended this far, it would constitute approximately 17 percent of the total territory of the Gaza Strip,” the report notes.

Palestinians also face water shortages because of these restrictions, receiving less than the World Health Organization’s prescribed minimum daily water supply.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military destroys Palestinian wells and water cisterns, some of which donor countries funded for humanitarian purposes, the State Department notes.

The Israeli government imposes other restrictions on movement through political means.

Citing an Israeli human rights organization, the report confirms that Israel denies paperwork to Palestinians, effectively making them illegal residents.

“Some Palestinians defined as illegal residents faced harassment, arrest, or deportation to the Gaza Strip,” the U.S. says.

From 1967 and 2014, the report furthermore indicates that Israel revoked the identity cards of 14,416 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, some of whom were born in Jerusalem. This amounts to forcing them into “exile to the occupied territories or abroad,” the State Department confirms.
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