January 30, 2014

#ScarJo to Oxfam: Drop dead. Norway to Leviev: Drop dead - again

A big day for BDS: Scarlett Johansson has chosen Sodastream over Oxfam. Oxfam comes out looking very unprincipled, having issued waffling statements and endured media scrutiny of why a human rights organization was dithering over what should have been a no-brainer decision. EI reported disarray within the org. Reuters reported on Palestinian worker complaints of racism at Sodastream's West Bank plant, illegally located in the industrial zone of the Israeli megasettlement, Ma'ale Adumim, and a Palestinian worker told the Electronic Intifada last May the company "treats us like slaves." See also this report on worker treatment at Sodastream's plant by the Israeli NGO Who Profits. The media storm around ScarJo gave wide exposure to BDS; entertainment magazines are covering it. Here is a still from inside a New York taxi an activist took today:
The ScarJo imbroglio may look unrelated to another BDS decision today; the Norwegian Government pension fund divested for a second time from the settlement mogul Lev Leviev's Africa-Israel company. (Leviev had his own embarrassing encounter with Oxfam, over a donation he claimed he gave them, a fact they expeditiously denied) The first time round was part of a wide campaign that probably helped push Leviev to stop construction in the Palestinian village of Bi'lin. This led the Norwegian fund to conclude the company had a clean bill of health - or maybe they did not pay much attention at all - until activists spotted signs for Danya Cebus, Africa-Israel's construction arm, building new units in Gilo settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. Activists pressured the Norwegian gov't to re-divest from Africa-Israel.  This divestment decision received coverage in Ha'aretz, the Wall Street Journal, & JPost.

So how are these related? Well as this graphic from the Institute for Middle East Undertanding (IMEU) shows, there used to be seven Palestinian villages where Israel has built Ma'ale Adumim. The industrial zone attached to it antiseptically keeps Palestinian workers out of the settlement & away from its Jewish colonists. Scarjo and her supporters argued Sodastream was doing Palestinians a favor by employing them in their factory on land that used to be theirs. In 2004, World War 4 Report wrote about a similar sinister scheme that was being cooked up for the Palestinian farmers who live in villages separated from their farmlands by Israel's security wall & touted by current Kerry aide & Israel lobby vet David Makokvsky. One of these villages, Jayyous, has the Jewish settlement of Zufim built by another of Leviev's companies, Leader Management and Development, built on its lands, and is currently expanding behind the wall. Jayyous is in the same district with the walled-in Palestinian city Qalqilya:.
The Industrial Agenda
What Israel and Makovsky have in mind for the people of Qalqilya district first became clear during a November 2003 visit to Washington by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. On Nov. 14, the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot ran an article titled "Mofaz's Initiative: Jobs for Palestinians," reporting that Mofaz presented the US government with an "initiative to build industrial parks that will create jobs for 120 thousand Palestinians." Yediot's Washington correspondent, Orly Azulai, noted that Secretary of State Colin Powell had asked Mofaz to "minimize the suffering caused on Palestinians as a result of the construction of the Separation Fence."

"To implement the initiative, of course, there is a need for an end for terrorism and financial resources," Mofaz said after a meeting with Dick Cheney and Condolezza Rice. "As part of the plan, industrial parks will be built in the Palestinian side and on the seam line. The Palestinians will be able to go to these places without going through IDF checkpoints; private security companies will monitor these passages." 
Possibly this will be the fate of Jayyous. The independent farmers of Jayyous who have tilled the land for at least nine generations will be a dependent Israeli-controlled industrial workforce on what used to be their land, without even entering Israel. This is already happening to the south of Jayyous, where residents of Arab Ramadin, who lived off of sheep herding, have been enclosed inside the fence with the illegal Jewish settlement of Alfe Menashe, and, thus cut off from their grazing lands, have been compelled to abandon their traditional way of life and take jobs in the settlement's industrial zone. In a Dec. 18, 2003 press release, the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign of the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) concluded: "The completion of the Wall and its ghettoization of Arab Ramadin are turning a community of shepherds into exploited workers for Israeli settlement industrial zones, as they are unable to sustain their lives."


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