July 31, 2009

BDS, American style

Omar Barghouthi writes:

While BDS is a global movement with a universalist message of justice, freedom and equal rights, it very much upholds cultural diversity and particularlity. Within the international movement, we already have a "French style," a "British style," a "Scottish style," a "Welsh style," a "South African style," a "Turkish style," a "Swedish style" and, now, an "AMERICAN style" of doing BDS!

The French storming in droves into chic boutiques on the Champs Elysees and mega supermarkets, persistently urging customers to boycott Israeli products; the British occupying university buildings demanding divestment and hounding supermarkets that carry Israeli produce with loud, ongoing awareness-raising demos; the Scots marking Israeli bottled water containers as contaminated with apartheid; the Welsh ketchup-ing Israeli products to drive across a graphical message; the South Africans blocking the offloading of an Israeli ship, thus setting a historical precedent; the Turks showering an Israeli sports team with ... old shoes (clearly inspired by the Iraqis next door!); the Swedes planning their amazingly successful protest against Veolia like they plan their roads and public parks (meticulously and with utmost attention to detail); and the Americans introducing music and dance into BDS protests (Adalah-NY) and now, as you can see below, advocating the boycott of Ahava in .... PINK BIKINIS!

Viva the diversity!

From YNet, July 30:

Code Pink protest calls for Ahava boycott

Washington: American anti-war movement launches fourth in line of protests in 'Stolen Beauty' campaign against Dead Sea company that produces cosmetics in Mitzpe Shalem settlement 'from stolen Palestinian natural resources in occupied territories'

Anat Shalev

Dozens of women in bikinis protested Wednesday near Washington cosmetics stores against the purchase of Ahava beauty products, that are produced in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the West Bank.

The protest was initiated by the American Code Pink anti-war movement, and the demonstrators' bodies were streaked with mud, some featuring the words "Ahava is a dirty business".

Code Pink alleges that the Israeli cosmetics company that promises to share the "beauty secrets from the Dead Sea" is also "hiding the ugly truth—its products actually come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the occupied territory of the Palestinian West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem."

The movement launched its "Stolen Beauty" boycott campaign against international company, which exports to 25 countries around the world, last month.

"We are here to tell Ahava, which claims to be devoted to beauty and purity, that you cannot cover up occupation and violation of international law," said Paris Marron, CODEPINK's national online organizer. "We call on Ahava to come clean."

Rae Abileah, a member of the movement who took part in the protest, said they are leading an international campaign against the company's products, in protest of their production in the "occupied Palestinian territory".

She said they had entered cosmetics stores and handed the managers letters with factual information on Ahava's production process, and demanded they stop selling these products, since it is against the Geneva Convention.

Abileah added that it is immoral and unethical to purchase or distribute products that carry such a very heavy price tag and make their profit from the occupation.

The organization also urged "Sex and the City" star Kristen Davis, Ahava's spokeswoman, to stop representing the company immediately.

Abileah said the campaign's first protest was carried out over a month ago, in cooperation with Coalition of Women for Peace in the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv.

The demonstrators were able to shut down the Ahava store in the hotel for an entire day, which prompted them to push forward with the campaign in the United States.

In the past month, the women also demonstrated at Tel Aviv's centennial celebrations in Central Park in New York City, as well as outside a cosmetics conference held in Los Vegas two weeks ago.

See CODEPINK for US media coverage, including a small mention & photo in the Washington Post. Across the continent, CODEPINK protested Ahava in Santa Monica, California.

July 30, 2009

Solidarity groups tell Amnesty: don't take Cohen's charity for normalization

Entertaining Apartheid Israel Deserves No Amnesty!

Open Letter to Amnesty International

July 30, 2009

In May, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called on singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen to heed the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and avoid complicity with Israel’s violations of international law by cancelling his planned September concert in Israel, particularly in view of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. Sadly, according to a July 28 article in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty International USA has agreed to cooperate with Cohen in dealing with Israel on the basis of business as usual. Amnesty International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund that will whitewash the money raised at Cohen’s concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for “peace.”  Being one of the world’s strongest proponents of human rights and international law, you shall thus be subverting a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's violations of international law and human rights principles.  We call on you to be true to your values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in Israel.

The Jerusalem Post report indicates that Cohen and his PR staff, having been criticized for trying to normalize Israel’s occupation and apartheid, are trying to whitewash the concert in Israel by using Amnesty International USA’s good name.  According to the article, “All of the net proceeds from Leonard Cohen's September 24 concert at Ramat Gan Stadium will be earmarked for a newly established fund to benefit Israeli and Palestinian organizations that are working toward conciliation,” and the fund will be “sponsored by Amnesty.”  Curt Goering, the senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the Post, "We saw this as an exciting opportunity with potential to recognize, support and pay tribute to the Israelis and Palestinians who have been working for peace and human rights amid a difficult environment and insurmountable odds.  I see our participation as complementary to what we do, even though this initiative is different from Amnesty's ongoing work."


By supporting Cohen’s concert in Israel, Amnesty International is actively undermining a particularly successful effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's occupation and other violations of international law and human rights principles. We find this position by Amnesty particularly frustrating and puzzling given your call for an arms embargo against Israel following its atrocities in Gaza earlier this year, which your organization described as constituting war crimes.

Accepting funds from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel is the equivalent of Amnesty accepting funds from a concert in Sun City in apartheid South Africa.  Profits earned through violations of human rights and international law are tainted and should not be accepted by any morally consistent human rights organization, particularly when this money is intended to be used to whitewash the very violations behind those profits.

Furthermore, your Israeli partners in this venture actively hinder efforts to achieve a just peace.  The Peres Center for Peace, with its multi-million dollar annual budget and fifteen million dollar building, is listed incongruously by the Jerusalem Post as both a beneficiary of the fund and a member of the new fund’s Board of Trustees.  The Peres Center has been denounced by leading Palestinian civil society organizations for promoting joint Palestinian-Israeli projects that are “neither effective in bringing about reconciliation, nor desirable” and that enhance “Israeli institutional reputation and legitimacy, without restoring justice to Palestinians, in the face of continued Israeli Government violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian human rights, including breaches of the Geneva Conventions.”  A columnist in Israel’s Haaretz Daily [Meron Benvenisti called the Peres Center patronizing and colonial, explaining that “Efforts are being made to train the Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and prepare it to survive under the arbitrary constraints imposed by Israel, to guarantee the ethnic superiority of the Jews.”

Your other indirect partner in this project, according to the Jerusalem Post, is Israel Discount Bank, a key sponsor of the Cohen concert.  Who Profits, a project of Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace, reports that Israel Discount Bank has branches in the settlements of Beitar Illit and Maale Adumim, has financed construction in the settlements of Har Homa, Beitar llit and Maale Adumim, and is a major shareholder in a factory in a settlement.  Amnesty hardly needs any reminder that all Israeli colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory are not only illegal under international law but are considered war crimes in the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Your intention to indirectly partner with a bank that profits from the occupation and to oversee a fund that uses some of that legally and morally stained money contradicts Amnesty’s founding principles and commitment to human rights.

The latest attempt by the Cohen team to find an alternative Palestinian fig leaf has also failed.  The only Palestinian organization falsely reported in the Jerusalem Post article as being a partner in this project, the Palestinian Happy Child Center, has confirmed that it is not taking part. There is no Palestinian organization participating in this whitewash.


With the international community failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, Palestinian civil society has launched calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.  Endorsed by nearly sixty Palestinian cultural and civil society organizations and inspired by the South African anti-apartheid boycotts, PACBI calls on “the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel‘s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.”  These Palestinian calls have inspired a growing international boycott movement which gained added momentum following Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter.

In April, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and over 100 Israelis called on Leonard Cohen to cancel his planned September concert in Israel.  Protests against Cohen’s plans to play in Israel were then held at Cohen’s concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities.  Feeling the rising heat of the protests, Cohen tried to schedule a small concert in Ramallah to “balance” his concert in Israel.  However, Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert. The Palestinian group that was supposed to host the Ramallah event cancelled its invitation to Mr. Cohen after realizing the adverse effects this would have on the boycott movement, which is widely supported by Palestinians. Reflecting the general mood in Palestinian society against any claimed symmetry between the occupying power and the people under occupation, a July 12 PACBI statement explained, “Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel‘s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel. PACBI has always rejected any attempt to ‘balance’ concerts or other artistic events in Israel--conscious acts of complicity in Israel‘s violation of international law and human rights--with token events in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

For all the above reasons, we strongly urge you to distance Amnesty International from this discredited project and its tainted money.


The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, American Jews for a Just Peace (US), Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israel), British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP),  International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI), Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK), US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of IsraelThe Alternative Information Center (AIC) Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) New York City Labor Against the War



-Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA

- Curt Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA

-Zahir Janmohamed, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA

- Colm Ó Cuanacháin, Amnesty International (UK) Senior Director, Campaigns

-Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International (UK) Senior Director, Research and Regional Programs

-Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International (UK) Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

July 26, 2009

Israel appeals to white solidarity

It is common for Israeli apologists to ask why Israel has become such a symbol of imperialism. The implication is that this is due to antisemitism. An alternative explanation is to note just how transparent Israeli support for racism is, not just against Palestinians but in general.

Here's the latest. Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization of former Israeli soldiers that publicizes the atrocities committed regularly by the IDF through soldier testimonies, receives funding from a number of European governments, including the U.K., Spain and the Netherlands. That is great. The Israeli government is not happy, which is understandable. The Israeli Foreign office is now using is friendly relations in the Netherlands to try to cut the funding of the group.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen - considered one of Israel's staunchest supporters in the European Union - did not know that the embassy in Tel Aviv was funding Breaking the Silence. He learned about it after the organization's funding sources were published in an article in The Jerusalem Post.

Sources say Verhagen reproached senior figures in the Dutch Foreign Ministry upon learning this and gave instructions to launch an internal investigation on the matter. It showed that the embassy in Israel gave Breaking the Silence 19,995 euros to help put together its 2009 report, which discusses Operation Cast Lead and was released earlier this month.  (Haaretz, July 26, 2009)
Nobody should be surprised that Israel has plenty of European politicians willing to do their bit to help cover up its crimes. What is interesting is the logic of Israel's appeal to the Dutch Foreign Minister.
According to a senior Israeli official: "A friendly government cannot fund opposition bodies. We are not a third world country."
There you have it. States of white people can fund "oppositional" groups in states of dark people, but not in other states of white people. Everybody understands this global demarcation, but only Israeli diplomats are unselfconsciously racist enough to express it so blatantly.

The future of a rotten definition of antisemitism

I have written at length about the excessively broad way in which the term 'antisemitism' is used, for example here. And a lot more on the subject and the much idiocy surrounding it can be found here on JSF through the tag cloud or the search function to the right. But this takes the cake. Hat tip to the post below for leading me to it.

We take into account the view expressed in the Macpherson report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry that a racist act is defined by its victim. It is not acceptable for an individual to say ‘I am not a racist’ if his or her words or acts are perceived to be racist. We conclude that it is the Jewish community itself that is best qualified to determine what does and does not constitute antisemitism.
This paragraph is a fine example of spinning valid ideas and torturing them until they confess to unwarranted conclusions that serve sinister interests. The cited Macpherson report of 1999 examined institutional racism in the context of police investigations and policing in communities of color. The report, quite contrary to the poor reading above, did not identify racism as whatever the victim imagines. It cited plenty of hard objective evidence. For example:
One universal area of complaint was to do with the use of police powers of 'stop and search'. Statistics for 1997/98 showed that "black people were, on average, five times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people. The use of these powers for Asians and other ethnic groups varied widely." Black people are also "more likely to be arrested than white or other ethnic groups". The Inquiry concluded that ' It is pointless for the police service to try to justify the disparity in these figures purely or mainly in terms of the other factors which are identified. The majority of police officers who testified before us accepted that an element of the disparity was the result of discrimination. (A Summary of The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (Cm 4262-I))
Only in this established factual context of disempowered communities policed in a manner that is obviously and indisputably discriminatory, the inquiry recommended that the police defines as 'racist incident...any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person'. The report did not therefore define racism as whatever an alleged victim of racism believes. On the contrary, the report provided an objective definition of institutional racism that our antisemitism obsessed friends chose to ignore. However, faced with evidence of widespread, objective racism and clear evidence that police officers were unaware of their own prejudices, the report recommended that the perception of the victims be taken seriously (because hard evidence suggested that it was not) and an investigation of racism be conducted based on the claim of the victim rather than the perception of the officer. It does not follow that the perception of the victim alone should be sufficient for actually labeling behavior as racist. Classifying an incident as a prima facie 'racist incident' does not establish racism just as classifying a police investigation as a 'murder case' does not establish that a murder actually occurred.

The Macpherson report recommendation cited above is sound. It analyzes racism in the context of marginalized communities. In this context, the view and perception of members of those communities are systematically discounted. It is obvious that people who are subject to abuse have better understanding of that abuse than others; their opinion ought to count. That it doesn't is itself an aspect of racism and also an obstacle to overcoming it. Forcing authorities to take these perceptions seriously is therefore one tool in fighting racism. We should have a strong presumption that people whose perceptions of their own conditions are systematically discounted are victims of racism, and therefore, we should have a presumption in favor of the likely validity of these perceptions. However, it is not the perception that validates itself, but the objective evidence, including the evidence that the perspective of the victim is systematically discounted that creates the strong presumption in favor of it. Thus, the reason we need to pay more attention to what people of color think about racism is not the mere fact that people of color claim they are victims of racism but because there is solid evidence that they are and that ignoring their experience and perception is a salient aspect of it.

The easiest way to dispatch the ridiculous "racism is whatever feels to me like racism" interpretation of the Macpherson report is to generalize it. There are plenty of high earning tax payers who consider high taxes discriminatory. In their perception, they are victims. Are rich taxpayers in the best position to decide what constitute unfair taxation? They are plenty of men who think having to ascertain that a woman really wants to have sex with them is an unfair burden put on their frail male shoulders. In their mind, they are victims. Should men be the judges of what is a fair or unfair burden regarding sexual consent? There are plenty of self-described "nordic" people in the U.S. who feel federal policies such as Affirmative Action are unfair and discriminate against them. Are white supremacists "in the best position" to define what constitutes racism against white people? Closer to home, in our beloved Israel, there are plenty of Jews who believe that it is discriminatory against them that Arabs don't serve in the army and don't pay taxes on houses built without (unobtainable) permits. Should we really conclude that in Israel there is systematic institutional racism against Jews? These examples can be generalized in the following way: having one's expectation of privilege unmet is often experienced by the subject as discrimination. The superficial similarity of affect between the experience of suffering an abuse of a right and that of suffering a non validation of an unearned privilege does not of course warrant equal treatment for both; those whose rights have been trampled need to be defended whereas those whose unearned privilege has not been fully validated need to be educated.

In the case of the British Jewish community and antisemitism, there is no evidence that Jews are socially and politically marginalized in any way. There is no evidence of systemic discrimination by any state authority, and no evidence that the perceptions of Jews are systematically ignored by authorities. If at all, there is more evidence that the opinions of "the Jewish community" (a suspect concept to begin with) are taken way too seriously by public authorities. What other community can marshal so much public inquiries and hearings on the basis of so little actual harm to its members? Sure, since antisemitism is directed at Jews, Jews have a more intimate experience of antisemitism than non-Jews. Their opinion thus warrants special consideration. But all the evidence suggests that the opinion of Jews is already given all the consideration that is warranted and then some. The appropriate level of special consideration should not include the discretion to define antisemitism in an unreasonable way for illegitimate purpose.

That brings us to the next paragraph of that pathetic document. After telling us that the professional representatives of the Jewish community should be left to define antisemitism in whatever unreasonable way they wish, the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry proceeds to prove exactly why this level of discretion is unwarranted by providing a clearly unreasonable definition of antisemitism.
Broadly, it is our view that any remark, insult or act the purpose or effect of which is to violate a Jewish person’s dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him is antisemitic.
Writing a good definition can often be hard, but there is a level of sloppiness than one does not expect from paid public servants with a degree in Law or two. According to the aforementioned definition, if I call Alan Dershowitz a douchebag (as I am happy to do), that is antisemitic because he is Jewish. Of course, it would be very different if I were to call Dershowitz a stinking crooked-nosed money-lending International Jew (to be clear, I don't; douchebag is fine, really). But the definition does not make this elementary distinction. This cannot be a mere oversight, as the report goes on to claim that the provided definition is based on an established legal model, and
...reflects the definition of harassment under the Race Relations Act 1976.
Let us examine this claim: The relevant paragraph from that act reads (3A):
  1. A person subjects another to harassment in any circumstances relevant for the purposes of any provision referred to in section 1(1B)where, on grounds of race or ethnic or national origins, he engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of-
  • (a)violating that other person’s dignity, or
  • (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him. (UK Government)
Our drafters are somewhat cavalier with the truth. Their definition indeed "reflects the definition of harassment...." like a broken, scratched and foggy mirror. First, the whole matter of actual harassment, that is the question of relations of power and discrimination, which is the very core of the Race Relations Act, has been eliminated altogether. Then, so was the crucial phrase "on grounds of race or ethnic or national origins." Namely the drafters chose to broaden the definition of antisemitism by taking the legal definition of harassment from the Race Relations Act of 1976 and extending it to acts, insults, and even remarks that occur outside of any context in which harassment or discrimination can take place, and by extending it to such instances in which the "victimized" person merely happens to be Jewish even if the incident is not motivated by it in any way.

Sloppy? It stretches credulity. The drafters knowingly dropped specific language in order to define antisemitism as any instance of saying something nasty about a person who happens to be Jewish, regardless of whether this involves any discrimination or denial of rights or even any connection to the recipient's Jewishness. The Race Relations Act and the Macpherson Report are both mentioned in order to create a false semblance of similarity to issues of racism facing communities of people of color. But these texts had to be gutted and mauled precisely because the agenda of the campaign against antisemitism is not to defend Jews from discrimination but to defend the unearned privilege that is accorded to (some) Jews in the West as a result of the role Israel plays within the global structures of imperialism. These sloppy definitions and their proliferation in official documents are both an example of the operation of this privilege and a strategy of expanding it by delegitimizing public challenges to some of the ideological beliefs favored by the representatives of Western Jewish communities, most notably the defense of Israeli apartheid.

Why go at length debunking a relatively unimportant paragraph in a three year old report? Note the MO. The All Parliamentary Inquiry did not actually use its own ridiculous definition in its own report. It knew better. For example, in paragraph 59, the report says "The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations...accept that when a Jew is attacked or a Jewish building is vandalised, this should not automatically be classed as an act of antisemitism." Nevertheless, the definition is there for a reason. This year, we find it quoted as if it were an authority of antisemitism by the recent EISCA report. (The same happened to the no less sloppy definition of the EUMC.) In this manner what started life as a trivial piece of bad writing slowly becomes received wisdom. Soon enough, someone will suggest writing this language into the law, citing all these previous citations as evidence of authorial weight and public consensus.

July 25, 2009

Cif's Matt Seaton censors himself?

I'm putting the question mark there because I'm not one hundred per cent sure of what happened in the comments to Antony Lerman's comment is free piece on the plan to criminalise zio-nazi comparisons. Some guy calling himself Lord Summerisle referred to Denis MacShane, a maniacal zionist MP, as Denis the Menace. Well Matt Seaton intervened to object to that description of MacShane and offered a description of his own that MacShane is a "sound democrat" who Seaton said he would be inviting to reply to Lerman's article. I was and am disgusted that Seaton would intervene in a comment is free thread to support a zionist, especially one who is trying to have a lot of forms of criticism of zionism and the State of Israel criminalised. I went back to the comments tonight but at first all I could see that bore on what I was looking for was a deleted comment by Lord Summerisle but not the comment by Seaton. Here's how the deleted comment appears:
  • LordSummerisle's profile picture LordSummerisle

    24 Jul 09, 10:05am

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.

Now I think this must be the comment that caused the intervention by Seaton but I can't now find the comment by Seaton. However, I have found a response to it by Lord Summerisle:
  • LordSummerisle's profile picture LordSummerisle

    24 Jul 09, 11:05am

    ... but in general he's a sound democrat, trade unionist, and pro-European

    ... and defender of id cards, DNA retention, CCTV surveillance, wider police powers of arrest and many other anti-libertarian government policies.

There you go, a part of Matt Seaton's ludicrous comment describing a man who wants criticism of Israel criminalised. I should mention that he wants the whole shebang of the former European Union Monitoring Committee's working definition of antisemitism enshrined in the laws of member states of the EU. That means likening Israel to apartheid South Africa, likening Israel to the nazis, saying that Israel is a racist state and criticising Israel over things that you haven't criticised other states over will all be criminalised if he has his way. "Sound democrat" is a strange thing to call such a person but Matt Seaton said it and now he seems to be covering his tracks except, as sometimes happens, they are supposed to delete responses to deleted comments but he seems to have missed a few which is good news for me.

Oh, here's one I seem to have missed. Someone seems to have replicated the whole of the comment Matt Seaton wants to hide:
1nn1t's profile picture 1nn1t
  • 24 Jul 09, 11:24am


    Not sure why on earth you consider Denis a menace. You don't have to agree with him on antisemitism, but in general he's a sound democrat, trade unionist, and pro-European. As he is a regular parishioner here, and we hold him in high regard, we will, of course, be inviting him to respond to the criticism of this report.

    This is a joke?

I don't know if the emphasis was added to highlight Seaton's grovelling sycophancy to a manipulative bullying zionist like MacShane but you now get a better idea of why Seaton, who has some form for intervening for zionists in the threads and in articles, might want to disappear the comment. But what's this? Another comment from Matt Seaton grovelling to Denis MacShane:
mattseaton's profile picture mattseaton
  • 24 Jul 09, 3:47pm

    Staff Staff

    I mentioned earlier that we would be inviting Denis MacShane to respond to Tony Lerman's critique. Despite being on holiday in Spain (see what a hard-working MP he is!), he has written a riposte, which we will run on Cif tomorrow.

    But here is a sneak preview:

    The portrayal of Israeli Jews as SS Nazis, which is widespread in the cartoons published in the Arab press, is not an attack on Israel as a state but an attempt to dehumanise its Jewish citizens – Jews everywhere. There is a rich vocabulary of abuse, invective and denuniciation that can be used to attack Israel. But in using Nazi imagery, the crudeness of the anti-semitism is obvious.

    Impressive what sun and sangria can inspire...

That's impressive? How the eff does a "portrayal of Israeli Jews as SS Nazis" amount to the dehumanisation of anybody let alone all Jews? Denis MacShane, the MP to whom Matt Seaton has grovelled twice so far in this thread is suggesting that Israelis are representative of all Jews. That's antisemitic as is the ludicrous EUMC working definition of antisemitism.

UPDATE: 27/7/2009 - Denis MacShane's avoidance of a response is here. The last I saw MacShane's article it was listed on the "most comments" list whereas Lerman's article wasn't. At the time Lerman's had received more comments than MacShane's. System issue? Who knows.

Another depressing post about everyday Israeli racism

One of the odd things about being critical of Israel is that no matter how critical I think I am, Israel and Zionists always have the capacity to surprise me, to plumb new depths. I’d like to think one day I’ll have the measure of it, but in the meantime it keeps smacking me in the face.

So what’s the latest? It’s these Southpark derived Israeli animations, Ahmed and Salim, racist caricatures of Palestinians as misogynist, stupid, blood-hungry, antisemitic terrorists. I feel a bit wary linking to them, because I don’t remember the site’s policy on linking to racist material, and this is possibly the crudest piece of racism I’ve seen in a long time. Anyway here they are.

A few disjointed remarks.

- These aren’t even funny. I know it’s stupid to point out, like this would make it ok. But I get offensive humour (like Southpark), these aren’t even. It’s just naked hatred

- It seems so banal, like these are images everyone already possesses. Maybe it’s the cartoon format, maybe it’s the fact that the campaign of demonisation against Palestinians is so ingrained both in Israel and here, that I easily ‘got’ all the racist references. How disturbing is that?

- The ugliness of it. The way this cartoon allows these racists to display their misogyny and violence by linking these qualities to Palestinians. It’s the classic twofer of racist practices.

- All these pro-Israelis and Israelis who criticise anti-Jewish racism. And they never mention this stuff. (well the ADL calls it ‘counterproductive’). Do they ever feel ashamed of their hypocrisy?

- It’s only a cartoon. Yet the fact that it is a cartoon, in bright garish colour, simple to understand and transmit somehow makes it worse, makes it more ordinary and insidious.

Maybe it’s not Israel, it’s me being too precious. I originally got this from the Arab-American blog Kabobfest, where the commentator called it for what it was, but didn’t seem particularly surprised at the depths of this Israeli racism.

Scotsman: Palestinian Fringe writer stuck in Gaza

From the Scotsman, June 25:

Fringe writer stuck in Gaza


A PALESTINIAN playwright whose Fringe play tells of the Israeli assault on the Palestinian territory of Gaza has become trapped there on his first visit in seven years.

Ahmed Masoud is a UK resident whose wife is expecting their first child in October. He went to Gaza to visit his mother after a cancer operation and has been unable to leave.

His play, Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea, opened in London in February, just after the Israeli military operation in Gaza, blamed for the loss of more than 1,000 Palestinian lives.

Masoud, who has a Palestinian passport, but is a legal British resident, got into Gaza when the Rafah border crossing from Egypt was briefly opened. When he tried to leave by the same route, he was turned away.

He was due in Edinburgh for rehearsals this week. The play opens on 6 August.

Banning nazi analogies?

I just need to quickly post this then bed. It's Antony Lerman in Comment is free on why he thinks likening Israel or zionism to the nazis or nazism should not be banned by law. It's headed Should we ban 'Nazi analogies'?:

Using Nazi analogies to criticise Israel and Zionism is offensive, but should it be banned, criminalised or branded as antisemitic? Comment is free itself has a policy on this, according to which moderators generally rule Nazi comparisons out of order for being provocative, abusive and doing nothing to promote better understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict; a distinction is made, however, when actual historical connections between Zionists (or Arab nationalists) and the Nazis are a legitimate topic under discussion.

The authors of a new report, Understanding and Addressing the "Nazi Card": Intervening Against Antisemitic Discourse, from the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA), take a different line. The chairman of EISCA is Denis MacShane, and the report carries a strong endorsement from Shahid Malik, minister for communities and local government, the government department that gave a £20,000 grant to EISCA to produce the report.

Researchers Paul Iganski and Abe Sweiry are concerned about what they see as the increasing normalisation of the use of what they call the "Nazi card" against Jews and Israel. They say this is often antisemitic; but in relation to the first three of four uses of the "Nazi card" that they consider – abuse against Jews, as in swastika daubings on Jewish gravestones; abuse of the collective memory of the Holocaust, as in Holocaust denial; and casting Jews as conspirators and collaborators with the Nazis – almost always so.

Their principal concern, however, is use of the "Nazi card" in modes of criticism of Israel. Here, they acknowledge that it's hard to decide when using Nazi analogies is or is not a manifestation of antisemitism. So much so, they argue, that "labelling the playing of the Nazi card against Israel and Zionism as antisemitic, even though it is perceived to be so by many, leads to a discursive dead-end". What really matters is the consequences of this use of the "Nazi card", whether it's offensive, hurtful or harmful. On this, "more people would be more certain". The authors write: "although the playing of the Nazi card is not always antisemitic, it unquestionably always harms". As a result, where this occurs, it could already be defined as a criminal act, and if not, Iganski and Sweiry say, consideration should be given to changing the law so that it would be. In other words, if you said "the way the IDF operated in Gaza was like the way the SS acted in Poland", and a Jew found this offensive, hurtful or harmful, you could, in theory, go to jail.

I also believe that there should be no place for Nazi analogies in public debate, but in my view, the argumentation and recommendations in this report are deeply flawed. And when you dig deeper into the reasoning, it seems confused, muddled and contradictory.

While the principle that freedom of speech is not absolute is accepted in English law, not all offensive speech is criminalised. So, merely showing that comparing Israeli behaviour to the Nazis is offensive is no reason to outlaw such discourse. The authors try to get round this by arguing that such comparisons are especially offensive to Jews, because of their history. They say: "Most people would accept that it's completely unacceptable to call a Jewish person a Nazi." The implication here – that it may, therefore, be acceptable in some circumstances to call a non-Jew a Nazi – is unfortunate to say the least. If one is against the use of Nazi comparisons in public debate, it's unacceptable to call anyone a Nazi. In which case, the argument of exceptional offensiveness for Jews doesn't hold.

The authors then argue that, where Jews are concerned, "the playing of the Nazi card ... unquestionably always harms". But the dictionary defines "harm" as "damage or injury; physical, mental, or moral impairment or deterioration". Surely, few Jews would go so far as to say that they have been offended to such a degree. The report goes on to say that Nazi analogies "potentially incite violence against Jews": "Calling Israel a Nazi state calls for destruction not dialogue". This is an abusive and hyperbolic statement, but it could be an extreme way of calling for Israel to change its ways.

It may well be that arguments about whether Nazi comparisons are antisemitic can seem sterile and repetitive, but to abandon that discussion as if it simply doesn't matter is perverse. It's tantamount to an admission that the term "antisemitism" has been rendered useless. In fact, Iganski and Sweiry don't abandon the term at all. Instead, to support their argument, they urge on all and sundry the adoption of the so-called "Working Definition of Antisemitism" produced by the former European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), now recast as the Federal Rights Agency (FRA). I write "so-called" because the definition is rapidly becoming the new orthodoxy.

While much of the definition is unexceptionable, it cites five ways in which antisemitism could be seen to "manifest itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context". One of these – "using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism... to characterise Israel or Israelis" – is fully justified. The other four are contentious: "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination"; "Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation"; "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis"; "Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel". None of these four are self-evidently antisemitic. But all could be used to justify labelling legitimate criticism of Israel as antisemitic. So the authors' approval of them makes their claim that "Drawing attention to the consequent harms in [playing the Nazi card against Israel] should not be intended, or taken, in any way as an attempt to suppress criticism of Israel and its military practices" both naïve and flimsy.

Iganski has laboured hard and conscientiously in the field of hate crime, so it is unfortunate that he has taken this path towards criminalising something best dealt with by setting standards of public discourse that are voluntarily adopted. As associate editor of the Times Daniel Finkelstein writes in the Jewish Chronicle of a Nazi analogy such as the Warsaw Ghetto for Israeli military action in Gaza:

I find this a nasty, obtuse point to make, one that lacks all sense of proportion and knowledge of history. I think less of those who make it. I do not, however, regard the insult as racist.

But it is more than merely a question of casting the playing of the "Nazi card" as automatically antisemitic. People will use this report to justify demonising severe criticism of Israel (even though it actually also suggests some non-criminalising ways of tackling the problem of Nazi analogies). I don't believe that Iganski will welcome that.

Part of the fault here lies with the ethos of the body that commissioned the report. EISCA was officially launched in a packed House of Commons committee room in July 2008. The then Europe minister Jim Murphy gave the inaugural lecture, "Antisemitism: A Hate that Outlives All Others" – a nonsensical title taken from an equally nonsensical sentence in the lecture: "what is different about antisemitism is that it has both predated and outlived many, if not all, other reactionary instincts". Its new chair, Denis MacShane, is second to none when it comes to exaggerating antisemitism: "There is no greater intolerance today than neo-antisemitism in all its open and disguised, witting and unwitting forms" he wrote in Globalising Hatred. Given the tone of these remarks, the weaknesses of the "Nazi card" report are not surprising.

Had this report been commissioned by a university or a serious thinktank with proven expertise in this area, I'm a sure something more useful would have been produced. But the fact that the government can spend £20,000 in this way, backing a dubious body with no track record, is indicative of the sad politicising and devaluing of the entire field of contemporary antisemitism studies.

Be sure to check out and maybe contribute to the comments section.

July 24, 2009

Israel not racist but....

The BBC seems to be belatedly waking up to the racist nature of the zionist project and the State of Israel. It's a mildly worded article on the website but the colonial settler/apartheid/segregationist nature of the state is almost plain to see.
Ron Shani, the head of the Regional Council, insists there is no discrimination here.

"Zionism is not racism. Not for me. Not for most people who live in Israel. Northern Israel is Arab, it's Jewish, it's Druze. We have to value and admire each other.

"We have a few Bedouin villages in my council. And it's not true that Israeli Arabs are barred from our Zionist Jewish villages - as long as they understand and accept this is a village under the Jewish Israeli ethos.

"Of course I came to live in the north with Zionist ideals in mind but Misgav villages were formed on government-owned land. No confiscation was done from Arab-owned land."

But a lot of Arab land was turned into Israeli state property in the years following Israel's independence.

The majority of Arab land expropriated was labelled "deserted property" by Israel's authorities before its acquisition by the state.

In common with most of the mainstream media, the BBC has studiously avoided exposing Israel's racist state structure. This article, whilst it allows for a bit of typical deviousness by Israeli spokespersons, it is actually a bit of a step in the right direction.

Some corrections on Europe

Many thanks to Senhal in the comments, four comments, for pointing out a few wrongnesses on my part about the political and judicial organisation/s of Europe. His various corrections are here, here, here and here.

But they are important and deserve more prominence than just staying in the comments boxes:
It's a shame the ECHR hasn't released an English translation. With the caveat that I'm not a lawyer, and that my French is far from perfect: the judgement doesn't say what Israel and most news reports claim (i.e., 'European Court rules boycott of Israel illegal'). Indeed, the very fact that nobody has bothered to provide an official English translation - in addition to the case's classification as of only level 2-importance (i.e., pretty unexciting - this isn't exactly Soering v UK) should suggest that it is far from as wide-ranging as banning any and all boycott of Israeli products. Furthermore, it is merely a ruling from the Fifth Section of the Court - thus no one seems to have felt that the issue at hand was prima facie of such fundamental importance, or was liable to produce significantly new jurisprudence or precedent, that the case should be heard by a Grand Chamber. This also means, of course, that M. Willem has three months to appeal to a Grand Chamber (and the ruling will not take force until those three months have passed). Finally, there's a very cogent and intelligent dissent from the Czech judge.

The case is one of freedom of speech - in the classic sense - and turns not on the legality of boycott, nor the legality of calling for a boycott in the member states of the Council of Europe (though the majority opinion is frankly very messy on this point), but on whether a specific application of a specific French law violates the basic freedom of speech found in the European Convention of Human Rights. The Court affirmed the uncontroversial position that member states may somewhat curtail individual freedom of speech when necessary for the maintenance of democratic government, &c., &c. In finding that M. Willem's rights had not been violated it relied heavily on the somewhat ad hoc arguments offered by the French courts and subsequently the French government, viz.:

1) M. Willem made his call for boycott in his official capacity as mayor of a village;

2) his call for boycott applied to the actions of the local governmental authority;

3) economic boycotts of foreign countries are a matter of foreign policy;

4) international economic boycotts must be sanctioned by the UN Security Council;

5) France has a legitimate interest in curtailing the making of foreign policy which may be prejudicial by sub-national governmental authorities.

In addition, there's many a redundant mention of 'the Israeli nation' (and not Jews - the Court seems to rely entirely on the ban on discrimination based on nationality, rather than religious and racial clauses); the right of members of a nation not to be identified with the foreign policies of any specific government; and, strangely, a kind of free-market-above-everything-else right of producers not to be discriminated against tout court (almost). The Court further emphasised the fact that M. Willem received minimal punishment (a fine of €1000). A final crucial fact is that the specific clauses M. Willem were held to have violated were apparently originally explicitly intended to police calls for boycott of Israel...

I believe those are the key points, but, as said, the majority opinion is pretty messy. Based on that reasoning, I can't see how this case can possibly set precedent for anyone other than French sub-national elected politicians holding executive office.

The Czech judge, in his dissent, pointed out that the majority were perfectly correct in holding that a member state may curtail freedom of speech, but that they never touch upon the crucial qualifier: necessity. In no way, says he, can this specific curtailment be said to fall under the narrow defence of necessity.

I don't follow the ECHR closely enough to offer any prediction as to what would happen if the case was appealed to a Grand Chamber, but I would be most interested in finding out. I wouldn't be surprised if they reversed - particularly because of the issue of political speech by elected officials - a question the majority touched upon, but never analysed.

The short version of the above: in no way can this ruling be construed as to ban the vast majority of Europeans from boycotting - or calling for the boycott of - Israeli goods and services. (But I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. If anyone more schooled than I in ECHR jurisprudence disagrees with me, I would be most interested in hearing your arguments; I'm fully aware of the fact that I may be completely wrong.)
That was the first. Here's the second:
Thanks for comments on my comment. Will reply in more detail later (have to run right now), but thought I'd provide the link:

http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/ tkp19...1C1166DEA398649

(Yes, that's apparently the static link... Try http://bit.ly/3Gi6P3 if the commenting software has mangled it.)
Here's the third:
Mr. Elf and others,

It _is_ a very disappointing and disturbing decision, no question about it. But, while protesting it, I think we should also seek to undermine the way it is being spun, and emphasise how very narrow a ruling it is: when next someone attempts to tell you that your calls for BDS are 'illegal' in Europe (and I'm sure someone will), explain to them that you're not a French mayor acting in a (semi-)official capacity:)

(Indeed, one of the strange aspects of the judgement is how the issue is somehow twisted into a matter of (sort of) administrative law (mayors mayn't make foreign policy) instead of the straightforward 'hate speech' prohibition at the heart of the Act in question. It's all very ad hoc, to put it mildly.)

Nevertheless, it is part of a disturbing trend towards criminalising dissent (especially as far as Israel/Palestine is concerned). I wouldn't have been terribly surprised to see this ruling from, say, the High Court (for which every utterance by a Home Secretary is seemingly gospel truth), and anyone who's read a US Supreme Court decision knows what kind of mess those can be, but I had expected something better from the ECHR. One may contrast this with another recent freedom-of-speech decision (TV Vest & Rogaland pensjonistparti v Norway), in which the Court (First Section) found that the Norwegian ban on political advertising on television _did_ violate Art. 10 (that is, the same article _not_ violated by France in Willem). I frankly find it impossible to reconcile the specious ad hoc argument of Willem with the sensible and careful discussion of TV Vest (and I was in favour of the ban before I read it!).

It is indeed also strange to see such an emphasis on 'nation' in Willem - both in relation to Israel, which does not indeed have a concept of _Israeli_ nationality, _and_ in the context of French legal argument, which at least in an ideal sense prefers to talk of _citoyens_.

Finally, I think we also should be concerned about the extreme 'free-market' (heavy inverted commas here) argument for some sort of sacred right of producers to have their goods purchased regardless of the political and moral context. I might have expected something like that from the EU, but I always dreamed the ECHR was above such tosh...
And here's the last, for now:
PS: A (rather important) correction to your post and one or two posts above: the European Court of Human Rights is an organ set up pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights under the aegis of the Council of Europe, which is entirely separate from the EU. (It is also much larger (47 member states), and predates the EU. For historical/sentimental reasons the EU adopted the same flag and anthem. (Go on: listen to the official Hip Hop version on their web page. I know you want to...* (You can also listen to Churchill speaking French, if the fancy takes you...).))

*http://www.coe.int/aboutCoe/index.asp? page=symboles&sp=hymne
So there's still enough to worry honest anti-racists but it's not all doom and gloom for us, not yet anyway.

July 22, 2009

Euro court acts to defend the racist war criminals of Israel

From the post below you can see the extent to which the BDS campaign is spreading and deepening. So what to do? Rush to law. The European Court of Human Rights in a move that would have helped both the Hitler and apartheid South Africa regimes has ruled that boycotting Israel or even calling for a boycott of those racist war criminals is itself a crime. As Scottish PSC points out, this has the EU's judiciary joining with its executive branch in rewarding Israel's racist war criminality whilst punishing the defenders of Israel's most numerous victims, the Palestinians.
The European Court of Human Rights has moved to criminalise support for Palestinian human rights. The EU has consistently rewarded an Israel sinking ever deeper into crime, with open ethnic cleansers as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister. Now the judiciary joins the executive in aligning with Israel and criminalising those who support the call from Palestine for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against the bloody violence of the Israeli state. Hardly suprising when the British Government is involved in an equally bloody military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Birds of a blood-stained feather flock together.
As Tony Greenstein points out, this doesn't yet criminalise opposition to the war criminals of Israel but it is another step along that road.

Las Vegas & Paris: Boycott Ahava settlement cosmetics

On Monday July 21, CODE PINK protested settlement cosmetics company Ahava at a Las Vegas trade show. On July 16 in Paris, there was a spirited protest at a chic beauty shop which carries Ahava. First off, CODEPINK's Nancy Kricorian writes on the group's blog, A.K.A. the PINK TANK:


The Struggle for a Just Peace in the Middle East Coming to a Store Near You

By Nancy Kricorian

As the dust settled on the destroyed homes, schools and lives in the aftermath of Israel’s assault on Gaza earlier this year, mainstream human rights groups from Amnesty International to Physicians for Human Rights/Israel issued reports condemning Israel’s attack and alleging that the Israeli government and the Israeli Defense Forces had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The staff of CODEPINK Women for Peace re-opened a discussion of what we could do about Israel’s flagrant flouting of international law and the brutality of the ongoing blockade of Gaza, the occupation of the West Bank and the home demolitions in East Jerusalem. We decided to revisit the idea of a boycott against Israeli products—a boycott that was having more difficulty gaining traction here in the United States than in Europe. But the best way to end an occupation is to make it unprofitable, and one of the best peaceful ways to make something unprofitable is to organize a boycott.

While doing research on the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine , I came across the web site Who Profits , a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace . On that site I found a list of Israeli and international companies that are directly involved in and profit from the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. It seemed strategically and morally important to select for our campaign a corporation whose practices were clearly in contravention to international law. Many of the corporations on the Who Profits list were either unfamiliar to me, discouragingly huge, or didn’t seem like obvious targets for a women’s peace group. But I saw one name that I recognized: Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. In fact, I knew there was a plastic bottle of Ahava Eucalyptus Mineral Bath Salts sitting on the windowsill next to the tub in my bathroom.

If you take a look at Ahava’s web site, you can read about the company’s environmentally responsible practices: “Our manufacturing processes are non-polluting and environmentally conscious. No animals are involved in testing phases and all of our products are encased in recyclable tubes, bottles and jars.” Ahava’s spokeswoman is fresh-faced Sex & The City actress Kristin Davis, whose commitment to doing good is evidenced by her status as an Oxfam Goodwill Ambassador and her position on the advisory board of The Masai Wilderness Conservation Fund. On the Ahava site, Davis is quoted as saying, “My personal beliefs, which include treating both animals and the environment with respect, are equally important to AHAVA.”

If you navigate around the web site you will see pristine images of the Dead Sea, enticing products with beautifully designed labels, and a photo of a water lily leaf with the caption, “This leaf has nothing to hide.” But, unfortunately, Ahava does have something to hide—an ugly secret about its relationship to a brutal occupation. The Hebrew word “Ahava” means love, but there is nothing loving about what the company is doing in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Ahava is an Israeli profiteer exploiting the natural resources of occupied Palestine.

AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company, has situated its main manufacturing plant and showroom at the Israeli Jewish settlement Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank near the shores of the Dead Sea. Mitzpe Shalem, built on occupied land in 1970, is an illegal settlement, as are all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Ahava’s capture of Palestinian natural resources from the Dead Sea is, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, a patently illegal use by an occupying power of stolen resources for its own profit. To add insult to injury, Ahava’s labels claim that the country of origin of its products is “The Dead Sea, Israel”—this type of labeling has been decried by Oxfam, among other human rights groups, as blatantly misleading.

While we were working on putting together the new AHAVA boycott campaign we called STOLEN BEAUTY , CODEPINK led several delegations to Gaza, one of which never made it into the Strip because the Israeli government wouldn’t let them through the Erez crossing. Several CODEPINK activists decided to take a fact-finding mission to the Ahava plant in the West Bank, corroborating what we had read about the plant’s location and its practices. The women decided to seize the opportunity and—with the avid encouragement of the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian peace activists that they had met—they went to the Ahava store at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv to stage a protest action. Some put on bikinis, wrote on their bodies with mud NO AHAVA/NO LOVE, while others carried signs with slogans such as “There is no love in occupation.” They chanted, sang and made the Israeli evening news

About a week later, we heard that Kristin Davis was going to be at Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue promoting Ahava products and signing autographs. Two of us went to the store to deliver a letter to Davis, requesting she stop letting Ahava use her beautiful face and good name to cover up their crimes. She was less than receptive, and we were escorted out of the store. A week later, the CODEPINK bikini brigade showed up at the “Tel Aviv Beach Party”—part of the Israeli government’s multi-million dollar “Re-brand Israel” campaign—in New York’s Central Park. The bikinis and our anti-occupation message made Fox News

We recently sent letters to Ahava’s headquarters in Holon, Israel, as well as to Ahava USA and Kristen Davis, giving them notice of our boycott. We sent copies of these letters to Shamrock Holdings, the investment company of the Roy E. Disney family, which owns 19% of Ahava’s shares. On Monday of this week, CODEPINK women showed up in bikinis and mud at the Cosmoprof North America Trade Show in Las Vegas to let Ahava representatives know we were launching our STOLEN BEAUTY campaign.

We have sent letters to over 100 retailers requesting that they stop stocking Ahava products because Ahava helps finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians. In August we’ll be outside a drugstore, department store or mall near you, exposing Ahava’s dirty secrets and showing that real beauty is more than skin deep. You can go to www.stolenbeauty.org to find out how to join our campaign. And you don’t have to wear a bikini to do it.

And in Paris, July 16 on the Champs Elysees, French activists participated in a spirited protest directed at a retailer that stocks Ahava products:

Action: Ahava, on n'en veut pas from chris den hond on Vimeo.

Kristin Davis used to have her picture on settlement builder and diamantaire Lev Leviev's website, but when she was told about Leviev's settlement construction, she requested it be removed. Apparently she doesn't mind associating her good name with a settlement-based company when they pay her enough.

July 21, 2009

In case you thought Netanyahu was telling the truth

I know, I know, I've done some good headlines in the past but some are clunky and this one is just plain insulting to the intelligence. But Netanyahu recently said that Arabs from east Jerusalem can buy land in west Jerusalem. A lot of people must have fallen for that because he is Prime Minister of a key ally of the US and there might be some idiots who actually thought that he wouldn't lie about something so easy to check because the western media would expose him. But it's to the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, we must turn for exposure of the fact that, typically, Bibi was lying.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed this week that Jerusalem is an "open city" that permits all its inhabitants, Jewish and Palestinian, to purchase homes in both its eastern and western parts. "Our policy is that Jerusalem residents can purchase apartments anywhere in the city. There is no ban on Arabs buying apartments in the west of the city, and there is no ban on Jews building or buying in the city's east," Netanyahu said in response to the U.S. request to halt a Jewish construction project in East Jerusalem.

An examination by Haaretz, however, presented a rather different situation on the ground. According to Israel Lands Administration rules, residents of East Jerusalem cannot take ownership of the vast majority of Jerusalem homes.

When an Israeli citizen purchases an apartment or house, ownership of the land remains with the ILA, which leases it to the purchaser for a period of 49 years, enabling the registration of the home ("tabu"). Article 19 of the ILA lease specifies that a foreign national cannot lease - much less own - ILA land.
Attorney Yael Azoulay, of Zeev and Naomi Weil Lawyers and Notary Office, explains that if a foreign national purchases an apartment they must show the ILA proof of eligibility to immigrate to Israel in accordance with the Law of Return. Non-Jewish foreigners cannot purchase apartments. This group includes Palestinians from the east of the city, who have Israeli identity cards but are residents rather than citizens of Israel.
Of course this doesn't merely expose a lie by Netanyahu, it goes to the heart of Israel's racist state structure. See how the would be buyer has to demonstrate their "eligibility to immigrate to Israel in accordance with the Law of Return". That means they have to show how Jewish they or their partner is. They must be Jewish, have a Jewish parent or a Jewish grandparent or have a partner who is or has one of these people in their lives. Coming from Jerusalem or anywhere else in Palestine is a positive disadvantage when it comes to the right to live or even the right to life in any part of Jerusalem or Palestine.

Zionists are fond of likening Israel's citizenship laws to those of Greece and of Ireland. They tend not to discuss the racist land laws except with each other. In Greece, if you have a parent from Greece you are eligible for citizenship. In Ireland, if you have a grandparent from Ireland you are eligible for citizenship. In Israel, if you have a grandparent or parent who is from there, you could be barred from the country or from 93% of its surface area.

So, what have we learned? Bibi is a liar and Israel is a racist state (yawn). Why didn't I just write "no news today"?

July 19, 2009

The Protocols of the Elders of Islamo-Catholicism?

At least I think that's what it's called. See what you make of this Ha'aretz article:
The Pope and the cardinals of the Vatican help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews, according to a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

Officials encouraging the booklet's distribution include senior officers, such as Lt. Col. Tamir Shalom, the commander of the Nahshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.

The booklet was published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in cooperation with the chief rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, and has been distributed for the past few months.

The booklet, titled "On Either Side of the Border," purports to be the testimony of "a Hezbollah officer who spied for Israel."

"The book is distributed regularly and everyone reads it and believes it," said one soldier. "It's filled with made-up details but is presented as a true story. A whole company of soldiers, adults, told me: 'Read this and you'll understand who the Arabs are.'"

The copy obtained by Haaretz included a Pesach greeting from Shalom, "in the name of the Nahshon Brigade."

The story is narrated by a man named Avi, who says he changed his name from Ibrahim after he left Hezbollah and converted to Judaism. Avi says he was once close to Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and describes Hezbollah's purported close relationships with the Vatican and European leaders.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement: "The book was received as a donation and distributed in good faith to the soldiers. After we were alerted to the sensitivity of its content, distribution was immediately halted."

According to the book, Nasrallah was invited to join a delegation to tour France, Poland and Italy, including the Vatican. Nasrallah could not refuse an invitation from the Vatican, Avi explained: "We knew [the Pope] identified with Hezbollah's struggle."

The book describes the alleged visit of Hezbollah officials to Auschwitz, led by the Vatican: "We came to the camps. We saw the trains, the platforms, the piles of eyeglasses and clothes ... We came to learn ... Our escort spoke as he was taught. We quickly explained to him: Every real Arab, deep inside, is kind of a fan of the Nazis."

The booklet also describes how European politicians and journalists ostensibly work against Israel.

"Our escort introduced us to important figures who identify with our causes. Rich people, people with authority ... They allocate big budgets to all sorts of Israeli organizations that erode the standing of the IDF ... We have a special budget for encouraging politicians and journalists who serve our purposes. Every opinion piece that conforms to our position is rewarded generously."

Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, the son of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, is known for his extremist views, and was once charged with incitement to racism after calling for the expulsion of all Arab students from Safed College after a terror attack in the area.

The younger Eliahu was also behind an online video in which he described the "miracle of our matriarch Rachel," whom he claims appeared before Israeli soldiers in Gaza to warn them of booby-trapped buildings during Operation Cast Lead.

"In some of the places we went in Gaza there was a woman who warned them ... 'Did they tell you who I am,' she said, 'I am the matriarch Rachel," Eliahu says in the video. He claims his father confirmed the veracity of the story, and told him that he had prayed to Rachel: "I told her: Rachel, there's a war... Go to God, Blessed Be He, pray over the soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the People of Israel, so that they will strike and not be struck."

David Menahemov, an aide to Eliahu, claims the book is not fiction. "Avi is a real person and everything in the book is absolutely true," insists Menahemov. "It's a totally true story, I know the guy personaly. He's an Arab, who even though he converted still acts like an Arab. We helped him to write and to translate it. We changed a few details to protect him and his family."
It can't possibly be true. Surely the Israeli army wouldn't protect an Arab and his family.

July 18, 2009

Outlawing anti-racism?

The zios are at it again with an attempt to outlaw condemnation of the State of Israel. I saw this coming some time ago with the European Union Monitoring Committee's ludicrous and anti-Jewish definition of antisemitism that includes likening zionism to nazism or the State of Israel to nazi Germany and accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid. It also says that it is antisemitic to deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination which is effectively saying that it is antisemitic to say that Jews are not allowed to get away with ethnic cleansing and exclusive Jewish sovereignty over a territory that most Jews don't come from.

Just an aside here. I tried the link to the EUMC working definition of antisemitism on this previous JSF post and the document has disappeared. So if you want a look at it try Batholomew's notes on religion.

Now, where was I? Ah yes, outlawing criticism or condemnation of the racist endeavour that is the State of Israel. Here's the Jewish Chronicle:
Parliament will be asked to consider whether the use of Nazi symbols and terms in reference to Jews, Israel and Zionism is breaking the law on incitement to racial hatred.

A new report by the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA) has highlighted the increasing use of what it terms the “Nazi card” in antisemitic discourse and has called for a number of measures to try to combat its spread.

“Playing the Nazi card” has been defined in the report as the use of Nazi-related terms or symbols — for example intertwining the swastika with the Star of David — while negatively referring to Jews, Israel, Zionism or other aspects of what it calls the Jewish experience.

The report, which was jointly published by EISCA and the Department for Communities and Local Government, recommends that the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police officers (ACPO) and the Crown Prosecution Service should prepare new guidance for the police on whether this kind of terminology amounts to incitement.

The report says that universities and adult education colleges should be surveyed to establish how they deal with antisemitic discourse.

It also suggests that the University and College Union and the National Union of Journalists use the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s definition of antisemitism to improve their harassment policies.

This is utterly insane. I was just discussing this with someone on the Just Peace UK list. If the EUMC's thoroughly dishonest definition of antisemitism passes into law we will have the absurd situation where EU states amend their laws to allow Israeli war criminals to freely come and go to and from Europe whilst Israeli dissidents and oppositionists could face prosecutions in EU countries if they so much as call for the Palestinians to be allowed the right of return.

UK law amendments intended to shield Israeli war criminals

From the London-based Arab-language newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi, as translated by BBC, July 11:

Al-Quds al-Arabi editorial: "British Law Amendments Aim To Shield Israeli War Criminals"

British Justice Minister Jack Straw, who was one of the closest aides of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the main ally of the United States in their wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, is preparing to introduce serious amendments to British law that would repeal the rules that allow trials of war criminals passing through Britain and confine British jurisdiction to trials of British nationals or foreign residents living in the UK and suspected of committing war crimes.

The aim of these amendments is to prevent human rights organizations from suing Israeli officials and military officers suspected of committing war crimes against the Palestinians and the Lebanese in the war on Gaza early this year and the war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

These amendments, scheduled to be passed by the British parliament next autumn, conflict with international law which requires all states to try war criminals wherever they may be. Moreover, these amendments also constitute an insult to Western values of justice as well as human rights organizations.

Trying British nationals and foreign residents in the UK suspected of committing war crimes is certainly a good thing. Britain was one of the main participants in formulating rules of international law for the trial of Nazi war criminals who committed crimes against Jews, and therefore it is required today to stick to those laws and to tighten them so as to include people suspected of committing war crimes against Arabs and Muslims or against any other nationality or ethnic minority, and to let them know that there is no safe haven for them in the free world.

It was because of the British strict laws that many Israeli generals accused of committing war crimes used to avoid the UK, lest they be apprehended and tried for war crimes they committed in Qana in south Lebanon, and in Gaza in south Palestine, where thousands of civilians were killed or wounded.

It does seem that the Israeli lobby has succeeded in pressurizing the British Labour government to change these laws, so as to allow Israeli war criminals to visit the UK and pass through British territory without fear or anxiety, just as they succeeded in bringing about similar amendments in the laws of other countries such as Spain. Such amendments make it clear that the UK and Europe would only amend their criminal laws for two main reasons: the first is to tighten the noose on Muslims and target them on the pretext of combating terrorism; the second is to shield Israeli war criminals and to prevent trials for the massacres they have committed.

The British emergency laws which allow the detention without trial, of any person who in the opinion of the security forces constitutes a threat to British national security, and for as long as possible, only came into being after 11 September 2001, with a view to applying them to Muslim personalities, or using them to threaten and terrorize the British Muslim community, scores of whom are now in detention without trial.

We are calling on human rights organizations in the UK to launch a campaign objecting to these amendments and to prevent their adoption by the British parliament, as their adoption will tarnish Britain's reputation, British law, British democracy, and respect for the rules of international law.

War criminals and those of the children and grandchildren of the holocaust survivors who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity should not escape justice, whether in Britain, or any other European state. And the same should apply to British war criminals who caused the death of a million Iraqis in the second war against Iraq.

July 17, 2009

Send letters to WaPo re: Olmert twaddle on settlements

The following is from a US-based media watchdog, July 17:

WRITE! For Justice, Human Rights and International Law in Palestine  

Today, a Washington Post op-ed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert 'How to Achieve a Lasting Peace' (7/17) rebukes the Obama administration's call for an Israeli settlement freeze, endorses "natural growth" himself, and maintains the US focus on settlements "has the potential to greatly shake US-Israeli relations."  In the op-ed, Olmert characterizes the focus on a settlement freeze as a waste of time and a "non-priority issue."

Olmert argues that "settlement construction should be taken off the public agenda and moved to a discrete dialogue, as in the past" allowing the US and Israel to deal with the "essential issues" (i.e. those not concerning Israeli actions).  He emphasizes previous "understandings" with the Bush administation on settlement construction but refuses to accept responsibility for Israel's commitments under the road map (which explicitly rejected natural growth - see Kurtzer op-ed here), the Annapolis framework (see PLO Negotiations Affairs Department report link), or international law generally.

Rather than explain 'How to Achieve a Lasting Peace' as the misleading title suggests, Olmert simply blames Palestinians for rejecting a proposal at the end of his term which would have kept most of the settlers in the West Bank and otherwise fell short of Israel's international obligations -- the op-ed contains no mention of the Arab Peace Initiative which offers a comprehensive resolution to the conflict (see op-ed by Shaikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa) or why the US and Israel rejected it.

Please WRITE! to the Washington Post letters [@] washpost.com, it is critical that we correct the record on Olmert's PR piece, which is sure to draw a heavy response. Be sure to keep letters under 150 words, and include your name, address and daytime phone number for verification purposes only.

UN Report: Humanitarian Impact of Israel's Wall Five Years Since ICJ Decision

July 14, 2009

Gaza invasion: Israeli troops claim ‘shoot first, worry later’ order

Breaking the Silence has compiled testimony from soldiers who participated in the "Cast Lead" Gaza invasion which suggests they were told "when in doubt, shoot." From Reuters:

Gaza invasion: Some Israeli troops claim ‘shoot first, worry later’ order

JERUSALEM, July 15 — Israel rejects charges by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN agencies that its January invasion of the Gaza Strip inflicted civilian death and destruction on an unjustifiable scale.

Now, some of the Israeli soldiers who took part say they were urged by commanders to shoot first and worry later about sorting out civilians from combatants. Accordingly, they say, the force went into Gaza with guns blazing. In print and video testimony published tomorrow by the activist group Breaking the Silence, the 30 soldiers say the Israeli army’s imperative was to minimise its own casualties to ensure Israeli public support for the operation.

“Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day operation, from December 27 to January 18.

“If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad,” says another. “The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places.

“In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”


Their narratives “are enough to bring into question the credibility of the official IDF versions”.


Except for a sergeant named Amir, the soldiers are anonymous and their faces digitally blurred. Transcribed statements can be viewed at www.breakingthesilence.org.il. The group said it had funding from Israeli human rights groups and the governments of Britain, the Netherlands and Spain, and from the European Union.

“We believe that the existence of a moral society clearly requires a profound, honest discussion, of which the voice of soldiers on the ground is an inseparable part,” the group says.

Soldiers describe a “Neighbour Procedure” in which civilians were forced to enter suspect buildings ahead of troops. They cite cases of civilians advancing in front of a soldier resting his rifle on their shoulder.

The report repeats charges – denied by Israel – that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.

“We did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved,” says one soldier. “But we were generally instructed: if you feel threatened, shoot. They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire is not restricted.”

To strip away cover for Hamas fighters, aerial bombardment, artillery, demolition charges and armoured bulldozers razed whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves.

“We didn’t see a single house that was intact . . . that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quoted a soldier as saying.

“There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army.”


The testimony suggests that “the massive and unprecedented blow to the infrastructure and civilians of the Gaza Strip was a direct result of IDF policy”.

UPDATE: Breaking the Silence: 30 testimonies on Cast Lead