June 27, 2012

Suffer little children

Here's a Guardian article detailing the "spiral of injustice" suffered by Palestinian children on account of racist rule by the State of Israel:
A belief that every Palestinian child is a potential terrorist may be leading to a "spiral of injustice" and breaches of international law in Israel's treatment of child detainees in military custody, a delegation of eminent British lawyers has concluded in an independent report backed by the Foreign Office.
The nine-strong delegation, led by the former high court judge Sir Stephen Sedley and including the UK's former attorney-general Lady Scotland, found that "undisputed facts" pointed to at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory. It was also in breach of the fourth Geneva convention in transferring child detainees from the West Bank to Israeli prisons, the delegation said.
Its report, Children in Military Custody, released on Tuesday, was based on a visit to Israel and the West Bank last September funded and facilitated by the Foreign Office and the British consulate in Jerusalem.
It makes 40 specific recommendations concerning the treatment of Palestinian child detainees.
The issue has come under increasing scrutiny by human rightsorganisations and visiting delegations over the past year. In January the Guardian highlighted the use of solitary confinement in a report on the experiences of children under the military justice system.
That's just a slice. The article goes into much detail, gives case studies and has a video.

June 19, 2012

Was South Africa an apartheid state in 1967?

Well according to the Zionist Central Council of Manchester it can't have been.  I'm simply following the logic of their planned response to a Palestine Solidarity picket of the women's football match between Wales and Israel.  Here's Wrexham.com

Wrexham plays host to the Welsh womans football team’s European Championship qualifying match against Israel on Wednesday night at the Racecourse – kick off 6pm.
Tickets are free and can be ordered from this page on Glyndwr Uni’s site.
The ‘Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ is organising a protest picket of the game outside the stadium, saying “Palestinian teams have consistently been refused visas to travel to competitions, and restrictions on movement both within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Gaza further compound the difficulties that Palestinian footballers face. In 2006 the football stadium in Gaza was bombed by the Israeli Army.
Now check out the ZCCM response:
The Zionist Central Council of Manchester are also urging their supporters to head to the Racecourse “with Israeli flags to show your support for the Israeli womens football team”, but also encouraging their supporters to “send the Palestine Solidarity Campaign a message that Israel is not an Apartheid country, but rather a country that has brought major advancements in technology and healthcare to the rest of the world. 
The world's first ever heart transplant was performed by Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967.  No apartheid there then.

Now here's a result

Israel has agreed a to release Mahmoud Sarsak on July 10 and in return he has agreed to end his hunger strike.

Here's Ha'aretz:
A Palestinian prisoner who has been on hunger strike for 88 days ended his fast Monday, after the Israeli authorities agreed to release him on July 10, Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqi said.
Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, a member of the Palestinian national football team, had begun taking liquids, preparatory to ending his hunger strike, last week Sarsak, from the Gaza Strip, was arrested in July 2009 while on his way to take  part in a football match in the West Bank. Israel accused him of being affiliated with the radical Islamic Jihad organization.
The Independent's Mark Steel is certainly a happy bunny:

The biggest football win today - Palestinian player released from jail after hunger strike and support from Cantona 

I remember years back, Mark Steel suggesting that Israel is trying to deny the Palestinians the right even to play football. It was the Palestinian under 19s were denied to visas to tour the UK:

But most likely [it] is simply that the Foreign Office has been leaned on by the Israeli government to refuse entry to the team. Because the Israelis do have a record here. In March last year they bombed the only football stadium in Gaza. And it wouldn't be surprising if, just for extra nastiness they contracted Multiplex to rebuild it.

And during the Asia Cup, which the Palestinian national team had started with an 8-0 win, the Israelis detained the five players who came from Gaza so they couldn't get to their match against Uzbekistan.
The BBC World Service had an interview a couple of weeks ago with Sarsak's father who made the same point that Mark Steel did.

What this case shows is not simply the oppressive nature of zionism with regard to the Palestinians but also Israel denying the Palestinians any semblance of normality with regard to sport and culture.  Also, by agreeing to end his fast in return for a release date, Sarsak has provided a stark reminder of the balance of forces in occupied Palestine.  Sarsak has agreed not die. Israel has agreed to release him.

June 18, 2012

The Soul of Israelis?

Here's a curious headline in the New York Times:
Crackdown on Migrants Tugs at Soul of Israelis
The first paragraph sets the scene for for an article which couldn't be postponed for much longer:
TEL AVIV — One by one, immigration inspectors escorted the migrants out of a dilapidated building into an alley teeming with African-run stores and hair salons. Then, they were led onto a waiting bus, in the first steps on the way to deportation to their native South Sudan.
Israel's treatment of migrants has been in the Israeli media for some time now but then one good thing about Israel is that it doesn't have an Israel lobby. When hasbara cannot speak well of Israel, the hasbaristas rely on silence and this has been the case with Israel and the "infiltrators". So here's the NYT breaking the mould, or is it? The headline alone sticks its neck out for Israel. It suggests that Israel has a moral rather than a practical problem here but it gets worse, look:
Critics say that Israel, a nation largely founded by refugees, lacks a proper immigration policy.
"A nation largely founded by refugees"?  Ok, many, even most early Israelis were refugees but might there be a precedent for the forced removal of people whose ethnicity didn't fit the state's desired profile? If the NYT wrote more about the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, its readers might understand how this "nation founded largely by refugees" can treat refugees so badly.

June 14, 2012

Cantona onside for BDS and prisoners' rights

I got this Friends of al Aqsa report via Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.

Eric Cantona has lent his name to calls for the release of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held without charge or trial by Israel and to calls to relocate the UEFA under-21 competition away from Israel to a state with a better human rights record.  Here's the letter Cantona, among others, signed:

We are all shocked at the racist chanting at football matches in Poland and Ukraine where Euro 2012 is being played. Footballing bodies and politicians have been outspoken in their condemnation. Indeed some government officials are boycotting group stage matches in Ukraine because of perceived human rights abuses in that country.
So why are these same groups silent when Israel is to host the U.E.F.A. Under 21s competition in 2013? Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country.
Israeli government ministers respond to mob attacks on black refugees by denouncing them as 'infiltrators' and calling for them to be imprisoned in military camps.
Israeli jails house around 4,000 Palestinian political prisoners, more than 300 of them "administrative detainees" held without charge or trial. One of these is a footballer from Gaza, Mahmoud Sarsak, aged 25. He has been imprisoned for nearly three years. No charge, no trial. In desperation, he has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days and is now close to death. He, and all victims of abuse by the Israeli state, need our support.
It is time to end Israel's impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.'
Signed (in personal capacity):
Eric Cantona
Noam Chomsky, Professor MIT, USA
John Dugard, Former Special Rapporteur of UN on Palestine, South Africa
Trevor Griffiths, Writer, UK
Paul Laverty, Screenwriter, UK
Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK
Miriam Margolyes OBE, Actor, UK
John Pilger, Journalist, author, film maker, Australia
Ahdaf Soueif, Writer, UK
Michael Mansfield QC, UK
Israel of course isn't the only serial human rights abuser to host an international competition. Just recently Azerbaijan hosted the Eurovision song contest and more seriously Bahrain hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Football has a higher profile than both of those but as with holding Eurovision in Azerbaijan and the Grand Prix in Bahrain, the holding of the UEFA under-21 competition in Israel will have the effect of whitewashing the crimes of the regime, hence the calls to relocate.

June 08, 2012

Denis MacShane supports boycott!

Even quite recently Denis MacShane was opposed to the idea of boycotting a state. He even linked the academic boycott of Israel to the Toulouse killings a few months ago:
There is little media or political concern when the National Union of Journalists or the University and College Union back boycotts of Jewish journalists or Israeli academics. The NUJ or UCU would never dream of boycotting Saudi Arabia or China, where human rights and core freedoms are ruthlessly suppressed. But when it comes to Jews in Israel, the double-standard of contemporary antisemitism prevails.

Will the Toulouse massacre wake the antisemitism deniers in politics and the media? Probably not. Sadly, it will be easier to use the background of the alleged killer to drum up more xenophobic hate against European Muslims, despite the fact that, to Islamists, Muslims who serve their nation loyally in uniform are also victims of hate and violence.
 So opposed to BDS was he that he grotesquely misrepresented what it was all about but he was writing in the Jewish Chronicle where such misrepresentations are fairly routine.

Well now, according to this Guardian article, Denis MacShane does support a boycott.  He even criticises the fact that the UK was a late addition to the boycott list:
The former Labour Europe minister Denis MacShane said on Thursday that Britain should have been the first, not the last, European nation to boycott Euro 2012. MacShane, who raised Tymoshenko's treatment in the Commons last October, accused William Hague of double standards in taking action against Kiev but not against other worse regimes that abuse human rights. He described Tory human rights policy as a "shambolic mess of incohrent contradictions and double standards."

He added: "At long last and after weeks of urging Cameron joins Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande in boycotting Ukraine Euro 2012 over the disgusting treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko. But Britain should taken a lead on this...instead of tailing in behind other European leaders. Cameron and Hague show a shaming double standard as they roll out the red carpet for the killers and torturers of Bahrain but now boycott Ukraine, where the treatment of Mrs Tymoshenko is unacceptable, but not as bad as anything in Bahrain."
"Shaming double standard" anyone?

June 04, 2012

Against all racism

Here's an encouraging article arising out of what was certainly a vicious attack on a yeshiva student in Kiev, Ukraine.  It's by a Rabbi, Rabbi Brant, from his blog, Shalom Rav, and it draws on an article in the Forward. Here are some chunks:
Alexander “Aron” Goncharov left the hostel of Kiev’s Brodsky Synagogue on the second night of Passover and never returned. Yeshiva authorities found him the next day in hospital, barely alive after suffering massive head wounds.  A few days later, Goncharov was flown to a Tel Aviv hospital for emergency treatment and was put in a medically induced coma. When he awoke one week later, he said that his attackers had yelled “Yid” as they beat him. 
Not surprisingly, the Israeli establishment was quick to make political hay out of the incident
I like that "not surprisingly".  The Forward article almost invokes the holocaust industry:

Israel’s chief rabbi Yona Metzger visited Goncharov on Holocaust Remembrance Day, underlining his new status as a symbol of contemporary anti-Semitism. Goncharov told Metzger that he hoped to immigrate to Israel, calling it “the safest place for Jews.”
But....here's Rabbi Brant again: 

While some attributed it to anti-Semitism, others flatly denied it:
“It has nothing to do with anti-Semitism,” said Yaakov Dov Bleich, rabbi of Kiev’s Podol Synagogue and one of several rabbis who claim the mantle of chief rabbi of Ukraine. “The fact he was taken to Israel will probably stop any [police] investigation in its tracks.”

Vyacheslav Likhachev, a researcher focused on racism, said there was little evidence that the attack was anti-Semitic. Likhachev, who has studied anti-Semitism in Ukraine for the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress for 10 years, told the Forward that anti-Semitic incidents have fallen in Ukraine in recent years…
“I don’t want to say there is no Nazi violence in Ukraine,” Likhachev hastened to say. But he said that Africans and Asians suffer much more than Jews. In an article published soon after the attack, Likhachev noted that on the same night Goncharov was injured, an African student was severely beaten. He said that the following week, a court case opened into a “racist pogrom” which resulted in four students from India, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan being seriously injured.
Likhachev went on to point out that while Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych publicly condemned the attack on Goncharov, he “did not deem it necessary to make a statement on these crimes.”
Got that? Many racist attacks and yet the only attack to get a presidential mention is one that might not have been racially aggrevated. And of course for Israel claims to be against antisemitism, it was Israel's intervention that appears to have put the kibosh on a proper investigation.  Perhaps they were worried that it would out not to have been an antisemitic attack.

Anyway, here is Rabbi Brant's conclusion:

And this for me is the rub: whether or not this was an act of anti-Semitic violence, what should be our response? For me the answer is clear: it is not to let anti-Jewish actions to drive us from our homes. And it is not to insist that Jews will only truly be safe if they retreat into a nation-state ghetto of their own making.
Rather, we must understand Jew-hatred as no different from any other form of prejudice.  And if we do agree that this is the case, then it would behoove us to find common cause with all minorities targeted with racism.
Yup, that would be my conclusion too.

Ian Austin apologises to Friends of al Aqsa

Here's the apology:
On 16 March 2011 an article I had written (“When bigotry comes disguised as compassion, Labour must recognise it and root it out”) was published on Labour Uncut.  In the article, I stated that Friends of Al’Aqsa (FOA) had referred to the “so-called Holocaust”.  In fact, this was an error and was untrue.  The publication in which this phrase was used was written by someone else, and had nothing to do with FOA.  The article had the effect of wrongly labelling FOA as Holocaust deniers and I apologise unreservedly for making this allegation.
Ian Austin MP

So why did he say it?

June 03, 2012

Israel as the new South Africa

Here's an encouraging article from the UK's Independent on Sunday setting out how the BDS campaign against the State of Israel is starting to resemble the boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era:

Some of the world's biggest stars – from Madonna to the Red Hot Chili Peppers – are being accused of putting profit before principle in a growing backlash against artists performing in Israel.

Campaigners angry at human rights abuses against the Palestinian people – symbolised by Israel's policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians and allowing Israeli settlers to take over their land – are demanding a boycott of Israeli venues in a campaign that echoes the 1980s protests against South Africa and the infamous venue Sun City.

Actually I sometimes think that some of the people performing in Israel are doing so on principle.  I mean some of them must be racists themselves.  Remember Johnny Rotten?  He didn't even pretend to support the cause of peace or justice for the Palestinians.  But then Madonna tried it on and apparently failed miserably:
Attempts by Madonna to deflect criticism by offering free tickets to local campaigners backfired, with a number rejecting the offer. Boycott from Within, an Israeli campaign group, accused the singer of "a blatant attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes". 
So what's given this recent boost to the BDS campaign? Well there are push factors:
Acts such as alleged war crimes during Israel's 2008 invasion of Gaza and the 2010 killing of peace activists by Israeli commandos on an aid ship are fuelling the return of an anti-apartheid campaign on a scale not seen in a generation. Saeed Amireh, 21, a peace activist from Nilin in the West Bank, said: "We don't have freedom of movement. They don't want peace; they just want us to disappear. They are suppressing our very existence."
and pull factors:
Calls for a boycott are supported by hundreds of artists around the world, from the film director Ken Loach to former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and the author Alice Walker. Artists such as Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello have cancelled shows after pressure from campaigners in recent years; Coldplay, U2 and Bruce Springsteen have declined invitations to play in Israel without supporting the boycott publicly. Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rihanna and Leonard Cohen are among those to have ignored calls not to appear there.

And there are other artists who either support ethnic cleansing and segregation or are willing at least to turn a  blind eye:
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz and Guns N' Roses plan to play in Israel this year, prompting the campaign group Artists Against Apartheid to appeal: "As was done in the case of South African apartheid, please join us now in the cultural boycott of Israel, and help stop entertaining apartheid." 
That call of itself is something to celebrate but get the sick bag ready:
The campaign has rattled the music industry, prompting a group of US-Israel entertainment executives to set up the Creative Community for Peace last year in an effort to counter the cultural boycott.
 Why can't they just be honest and call it Artists for Israel?  But if US-Israel entertainment executives can't be serious senior politicians in Israel are taking BDS seriously:
 a law passed by the Knesset last year means that people who call for a boycott could be sued in court. The Israeli government has also set up a committee to look at how to compensate Israeli promoters in the cases of "politically motivated cancellations".
Israel's President Shimon Peres admitted earlier this year: "If Israel's image gets worse, it will begin to suffer boycotts. There is already an artistic boycott against us and signs of an undeclared financial boycott are beginning to emerge."
In the UK the so-called Board of Deputies of British Jews is claiming not to be too concerned about BDS or the apartheid allegation claiming that:
comparisons with apartheid-era South Africa were "a specious and desperate effort by a failing boycott campaign".
That's an interesting achievement for BDS.  It's the first time I can remember the Board of Deputies disagreeing with the State of Israel.  The BoD claims not be worried and Israel is clearly very worried.

Well done BDS!!

June 02, 2012

Israel snuggles up to China

I was first told of this over a week ago but I didn't think too much of it.  Israel and China have often co-operated in the past, not least by way of China supplying something like slave labour to the illegitimate entity, but the level of military co-operation planned between Israel and China is chilling when you consider China's position as the only serious prospect for a single state challenge to US global hegemony.  What am I talking about?  See this from (by now lots of places but my friend sent it from) the China Digital Times:

China and Israel are taking steps to thaw a frosty relationship with a visit between the two countries’ chiefs of staff. From the Washington Post:
The improved ties have been highlighted by this week’s visit to Beijing by Israel’s military chief and a training mission to Israel by the Chinese paramilitary force that, among other things, polices the restive Tibetan and Muslim Uighur regions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to travel to China in the coming weeks.
[...] Chen told the official China Daily that China “attaches importance to the ties with the Israeli military and is willing to make concerted efforts with the Israeli side to deepen pragmatic cooperation.”
In a statement released by the Israeli military, Gantz mentioned a commitment to developing the relationship, including “joint courses that are scheduled to take place.” It did not elaborate.
Such comments are a remarkable turnaround from just a few years ago, when ties deteriorated after the failed arms deals.
In recent years, China has often found itself in the middle of tensions between Israel and Iran, which has bought Chinese military technology despite objections from the U.S. and other countries.
Now China is on one side of those tensions: the zionist side.