February 28, 2013

You do not have the right to remain silent

I didn't know about this Terrorism Act 2000 until just now.  Someone sent me this link to an article on Corporate Watch about the application of Schedule 7 of the Act.

Corporate Watch is subtitled, Tracking Corporate Complicity in the Occupation of Palestine.

Now, have a look at this Schedule 7 as it has been applied in the cases of two people involved in research into corporate profiteering in occupied Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan:
In February 2013, Tom and Therezia returned from a research trip in Palestine separately, with a 10-day gap separating their arrival back in the UK. They were both stopped at Luton airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. As the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) has previously reported, this law is frequently used by the police to gather intelligence about activists. Schedule 7 is unique in that it is a law that provides the police with the power to stop, search and detain people without suspicion. It is also an arrestable offence not to answer questions, punishable on conviction with a three-month custodial sentence or a fine. Moreover, you have no right to advice from your solicitor, although you are often granted a phone call to your solicitor on request. The guidance to the law clearly states that Schedule 7 “should only be used to counter terrorism and may not be used for any other purpose.” (For the full wording of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) Practice Advice on Schedule 7, see here).

Did you see that?  You do not have the right to remain silent.  The whole article is worth reading to show how this law has been applied in the cases of these two activists for reasons wholly unconnected to terrorism.

By the way, I looked up this law on Wikipedia and it doesn't mention this Schedule 7.  Any wikipediasts out there?

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network releases “Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression”

From the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Researched, written and edited by members of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the new exposé, "Israel's Worldwide Role in Repression," focuses on the role of Israel's government military, and related corporations and organizations in a global industry of violence and repression.
IJAN's 28-page booklet was officially released at the World Social Forum Free Palestine in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and has received widespread attention in recent weeks; it has been featured in Al Jazeera, Jacobin, La Rebelión and Jadaliyya among other publications.
The pamphlet is being used as part of a broader organizing project with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the US Palestinian Community Network to highlight the role Israel plays in the arms industry and political repression around the globe. The information in the pamphlet is not widely known, and given state-secrecy, censorship and limited organizational resources, the information we have gathered thus far is merely the tip of the iceberg in the push for accountability. We seek to continue to build awareness and gather testimony leading to popular tribunals in various locations impacted by the work of Israel and its related corporations and organizations.
The pamphlet is available on-line and print copies can be ordered in English, Spanish and Portuguese. We welcome translation of the pamphlet into other languages. We also urge the organizing of actions, campaigns or popular tribunals in the places where Israel, often with the United States, plays a role in the repression of our movements or in attacks on communities.
The pamphlets, source documents, research, ways to get involved and video from our first People's Assembly at the World Social Forum Free Palestine in Porto Alegre, Brazil, are available on-line at: http://israelglobalrepression.wordpress.com/.
From the Introduction:
Israel's unique skills in crowd control, forced displacement, surveillance, and military occupation have resulted in placing it at the forefront of a global industry of repression: it develops, manufactures, and markets technologies that are used by armies and police around the world for purposes of repression.
Israel's role in this industry began with the Israeli military, which first used its weapons of war against Palestinian people in historic Palestine, and against neighboring countries. In recent years, as interest in surveillance and policing technologies and techniques has grown among governments around the world, an Israeli "homeland security" private service industry built on these field-tested instruments has emerged to exploit and export this interest.
This industry includes government agencies, the Israeli military, and a network of private corporations that grossed over 2.7 billion US dollars in 2008. This industry accounts for approximately seven percent of the Israeli economy. The Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor says on its website:
Israel has more than 300 Homeland Security (HLS) companies exporting a range of products, systems and services... These solutions have been born by the necessity of Israel's survival and matured by the reality of the continual terrorist threat to the country... No other country has such a large pool of experienced former security, military, and police personnel and no other country has been able to field test its systems and solutions in real-time situations.
In addition to the Israeli government, military, and corporations, a network of Zionist organizations provides political and economic support to the state of Israel. For example, in the United States, these organizations participate in surveillance and facilitate exchanges between the Israeli military and US police forces, federal agents, and armed forces.
This network of state bodies, corporations, and non-profits shares intelligence information, coordinates strategies for surveillance and repression, and collaborates for profit. The precise function of each varies according to their role.
Israel has provided arms, trained militia, and military and civilian police, developed and provided surveillance technology and repression strategies, and supplied the means for a broad array of other control techniques, from "non-lethal" weapons to border technology. Israel has played a role in arming and training the apartheid regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia, colonial regimes in the Middle East and North Africa (otherwise known as Southwest Asia and North Africa, or SWANA), and dictators in Central and South America and Asia.
The Israeli government has assumed a major, worldwide role in enforcing limitations on the freedom of movement, policing of communities, and undermining peoples' struggles for justice. Though well documented, this fact is rarely if ever mentioned or discussed, and even more rarely challenged.
Our movements - those in solidarity with the Palestinian people, against war, poverty, and an unjust globalized economy - need to take into account the very real ways the state of Israel contributes to violence and repression around the world.
Israel sells its weapons, technologies, training, and techniques of violence to those it considers allies and even to those whom it considers enemies. Israel sells or has sold to Islamist, communist, capitalist, dictatorial, and social democratic states. The driving force behind Israeli arms exports, in addition to the profit motive, is the need for a close and strong alliance with major imperialist powers that provide it with continuous military and diplomatic support, economic markets and access to power. Therefore, Israel has prioritized selling weapons to the allies and agents of these powers.
Israel Shahak's 1982 book, Israel's Global Role: Weapons for Repression, documents that "from Rhodesia to apartheid South Africa to the Gulf monarchies, Israel ties its interests not with the masses fighting for freedom, but with their jailers." Despite competition and other conflicts between governments and regimes that rely on repression, those same governments and regimes have no trouble cooperating with one another against peoples' movements.

Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike - Amazing Grace

I found this by way of Norman Finkelstein's website:

Someone commented to an earlier post that Finkelstein is now with the mainstream.  If Finkelstein makes it to the mainstream I hope he takes news of the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike with him.

Israel has been taking these hunger strikers down to the wire before honoring their basic rights, see Khadar Adnan and Hana al-Shalabi but since the world isn't watching who knows what muiht happen to, for example, Samer Issawi?

February 26, 2013

Neither Halal nor Kosher but International Socialism?

I've made a couple of passing references to the implosion going on in the UK's Socialist Workers' Party.  I can't keep up with all the twists and turns but Soviet Goon Boy looks like a good blog to help understand what's actually going on.  I did enjoy this little chunk from the post titled The uses of paranoia:
as you know, John Rees, Lindsey German and that indie drummer whose name escapes me departed the SWP in 2010 to form Counterfire, whom I am told do the finest ham and cheese sandwiches on the British left.
Of course this whole mess at the SWP has very serious issues at its heart but much of the media treatment of it from the mainstream is simply anti-left and from the left is simply sectarian.  Soviet Goon Boy seems to steer a steady course through the issues and the gossip.

February 25, 2013

Norman Finkelstein seeks reconciliation....with Dershowitz

I looked at our tracker a couple of hours ago and noticed that we had got lots of hits from Norman Finkelstein's site.  It took me a little while to establish what this blog had to do with his headline:


Hmm, poor old Norm, I thought, getting it in the neck again from the Dershmeister.  But below the headline is a copy of an email to the Palestine Solidarity Network:
Subject: [PSN] Finkelstein in SF in April

To: “palestine_solidarity_network” <palestine_solidarity_network@googlegroups.com>
Date: Friday, February 22, 2013, 4:38 PM
Norman Finkelstein is planning to come to SF in April and is looking for speaking engagements. In light of the offensive and libelous claims he’s made about the Right of Return and about the BDS movement recently, I’d strongly advise against co-sponsoring events with him. Zionist sites have been quoting him extensively, so that hosting him would just give them more ammunition. If you didn’t follow this, read more here http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2012/07/norman-finkelstein-continues-to-spread.html  ; http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/finkelstein-renews-attack-bds-cult-calls-palestinians-who-pursue-their-rights. The main point is that this isn’t just constructive criticism, but baseless accusations based on hasbara points.
So that would explain the hits but where does he get off comparing his detractors to Dershowitz?  The email doesn't look like a demand that he not be allowed to speak.  It looks like a suggestion that he not speak with the support of Palestine Solidarity Network or in any venue they control.  And how many venues could that be?

Now we can all play this game of comparing two opponents of each other to each other, like say, comparing anti-zionists to Alan Dershowitz.  I'm always struck by the similarities between zionist arguments and antisemitic ones.  But this latest hissy fit by Norm suggests that, in spite of attempting to get his first videoed attack on BDS pulled, Finkelstein has no intention of rethinking his position.  And just to recap on that, his position is that the State of Israel exists on the basis of international law and therefore we cannot demand the enforcement of those aspects of international law which might lead to the abolition of the State of Israel or lead to an Israel without Jewish supremacy.  He further insists that since the abolition of Jewish supremacy in occupied Palestine/Israel cannot be achieved because the public (or maybe the most powerful governments in the world at the mo') don't like it, it is cult-like to try for this.  Furthermore, to bolster his argument he has misrepresented aspects of the BDS campaign and its activists.

What would be interesting would be for Alan Dershowitz to come out strongly in support of Norman Finkelstein. This is unlikely because both of them have a lot of personal baggage bound up in their differences, but who knows what might happen?  Dershowitz supports Jewish supremacy.  Finkelstein acquiesces to it.  Both support the so-called two state solution. Are their positions really so far apart?

February 24, 2013

Defend Max Watson, Jawad Botmeh and Steve Jefferys

I've got a personal interest in this case outlined as below on the GoPetition website:
Stop the Witch Hunt - Defend Max Jawad and Steve
Petition published by steve jawad max campaign on Feb 23, 2013

Petition Background (Preamble):

Three members of staff at Londonmet’s Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) have been suspended from work in an attack on human rights, trade unions and academic freedom.

Professor Steve Jefferys, European employment relations academic, Director of Londonmet’s Faculty Advanced Institute for Research (FAIR) and head of WLRI, was suspended on Wednesday 20 February for ‘potential gross misconduct’. Five years previously, he had agreed that Jawad Botmeh should have the chance of going forward to be interviewed as a part-time casual administrative worker on a temporary three month contract in WLRI, when Jawad had a criminal record (he had served 13 years on a conspiracy charge).

Jawad Botmeh, after working for five years to the complete satisfaction of all staff and post-graduate students who worked with him, was overwhelmingly elected to the Board of Governors as one of two staff representatives. Two weeks later, on February 7 he was suspended.

Max Watson, a WLRI administrator who is also Chair of the Londonmet UNISON branch, was also suspended on February 7. Max had been recently singled out by the Vice-Chancellor in an all staff email because of UNISON’s opposition to the involvement of Capita in the university’s Business Process Review.

Steve, Jawad and Max have broken no university rules. They have all been entirely open and honest with the university. Professor Jefferys had the authority to make casual appointments. There were no procedures suggesting he should discriminate against former prisoners. Jawad had twice informed the university in writing of his earlier prison sentence and conviction and this evidence is on their files.

The WLRI was set up by Londonmet to undertake ‘academic, applied and socially-committed research and teaching emphasising equality and social justice into all aspects of working lives’. Now is the time for the university to be FAIR to the Institute and its staff.
These suspensions are an attack on the principles of staff rights and representation, on social justice and on academic freedom.

 You can sign here.

Could Obama have Hagel killed in a drone strike on American soil?

I'm just wondering, that's all because it could calm a few Israel lobby nerves if Obama had Hagel killed.  And according to this Glenn Greenwald Guardian Comment is Free piece there appears to be no law preventing Obama from having anyone from anywhere killed anywhere:
The Justice Department "white paper" purporting to authorize Obama's power to extrajudicially execute US citizens was leaked three weeks ago. Since then, the administration - including the president himself and his nominee to lead the CIA, John Brennan - has been repeatedly asked whether this authority extends to US soil, i.e., whether the president has the right to execute US citizens on US soil without charges. In each instance, they have refused to answer.
Brennan has been asked the question several times as part of his confirmation process. Each time, he simply pretends that the question has not been asked, opting instead to address a completely different issue. Here's the latest example from the written exchange he had with Senators after his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee; after referencing the DOJ "white paper", the Committee raised the question with Brennan in the most straightforward way possible:
brennan q-and-a
Obviously, that the US has not and does not intend to engage in such acts is entirely non-responsive to the question that was asked: whether they believe they have the authority to do so. To the extent any answer was provided, it came in Brennan's next answer. He was asked:
Could you describe the geographical limits on the Administration's conduct drone strikes?"
Brennan's answer was that, in essence, there are no geographic limits to this power: "we do not view our authority to use military force against al-Qa'ida and associated forces as being limited to 'hot' battlefields like Afghanistan." He then quoted Attorney General Eric Holder as saying: "neither Congress nor our federal courts has limited the geographic scope of our ability to use force to the current conflict in Afghanistan" (see Brennan's full answer here).
Revealingly, this same question was posed to Obama not by a journalist or a progressive but by a conservative activist, who asked if drone strikes could be used on US soil and "what will you do to create a legal framework to make American citizens within the United States believe know that drone strikes cannot be used against American citizens?" Obama replied that there "has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil" - which, obviously, doesn't remotely answer the question of whether he believes he has the legal power to do so. He added that "the rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside the United States", but these "rules" are simply political choices the administration has made which can be changed at any time, not legal constraints. The question - do you as president believe you have the legal authority to execute US citizens on US soil on the grounds of suspicions of Terrorism if you choose to do so? - was one that Obama, like Brennan, simply did not answer.

This is the kind of nonsense that has fans of Obama calling him a great communicator when he's transparently a complete tosser.  Woops, wrong word. Not transparently, obviously a complete tosser.

February 23, 2013

Galloway misrepresents BDS as does BICOM

Now look what George Galloway has gone and done.  Admittedly there are supporters of BDS who support Galloway's refusal to speak to an Israeli recently but the general BDS idea is better summed up on the BDS Movement website:
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian unions, mass organisations, refugee networks and NGOs that leads and and sets the guidelines for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, supports all principled action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality that is in line with universal human rights and international law.
In its 2005 BDS Call, Palestinian civil society has called for a boycott of Israel, its complicit institutions, international corporations that sustain its occupation, colonization and apartheid, and official representatives of the state of Israel and its complicit institutions. BDS does not call for a boycott of individuals because she or he happens to be Israeli or because they express certain views. Of course, any individual is free to decide who they do and do not engage with.
The global BDS movement has consistently adopted a rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
These guidelines and the fact that BDS has been initiated and is led by Palestinian civil society are major reasons behind the rapid growth and success that the BDS movement has enjoyed around the world.
Now take a look at what BICOM, the Britain Israel Communication and Research Centre are saying in the Huffington Post:
What is so abhorrent to him about conversing with an Israeli? Why is he so adamant that the Israeli should not be seen; that the Israeli should not be heard?
Perhaps he is afraid that if people hear from Israelis first hand, it will belie the demonic image he would like to create of them. 
Now that's just plain silly because the mainstream media always puts Israel and Israelis in the most favourable light possible and there's not a whole lot Galloway can do about that.  And, the writer of the HuffPo piece, Toby Greene, comes close to admitting as much:
Galloway himself is of course irrelevant. His repeated, ridiculous acts of buffoonery are a gift to those who reject his opinions and a liability to anyone who might share them.
So what's the problem from the Israel lobby perspective?
Unfortunately, Galloway is the thin end of a more disturbing wedge. There is a small but energetic movement to silence the voices of Israelis and prevent them from being heard more widely. Most people completely reject this movement, but they are nonetheless succeeding at times to impose their will.
On Wednesday, Israel's deputy ambassador, Alon Roth-Snir, was prevented from speaking at Essex University, where he had been invited by the Department of Government, and forced to leave the campus. This month the student union at Oxford University is considering whether or not to endorse a motion to promote a boycott of Israel.
Such attempts to silence Israelis extend even to Israeli academic work and cultural expressions that have nothing to do with politics. In the past year there have been attempts to disrupt Israeli dance performances, plays and concerts, carried out by individuals who simply cannot stand the sight or sound of an Israeli.
Now this is nonsense.  The issue here is the extent to which an individual or group can be said to represent the Israeli state.  An Israeli diplomat is obviously a representative of the Israeli state.  I know of no other diplomat from a notoriously human rights abusive state being invited to address a university in the UK.  That doesn't mean it hasn't happened but it seems unlikely.  A dance troupe from Israel might be harder to discern as boycottable but this is the first paragraph of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel's call to boycott the troupe that Greene is referring to, ie, Batsheva:
The Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv is touring the US and Canada in January, February, and March, 2009. A recipient of public financing since the 1990s, the dance troupe is clearly an Israeli apartheid cultural institution. Writing October 26, 2008, in The Independent of London, Jenny Gilbert reports that the dance company is "funded by Israel's government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is 'proud to be considered Israel's leading ambassador.'"
Read the whole thing and see for sure that clearly this isn't a case of people being unable to "stand the sight or sound of an Israeli".

Galloway did manage to convey that impression to non-initiates but it's hard to believe that there is anyone at BICOM who doesn't know the general thrust of the BDS Movement.

Advice on democracy from the only democracy in the Middle East

Here's a bizarre piece in The Times of Israel.  A former Israeli minister under Ehud Olmert and an adviser to the nearly but not quite late, Ariel Sharon, Rafi Eitan, has said that the USA should never have allowed Mohammed Morsi to become president of Egypt.
“The military unequivocally decided that [Ahmed] Shafiq will be president, not [Mohammed] Morsi,” Eitan told The Times of Israel. “But the Americans put all the pressure on. The announcement [of the president] was delayed by three or four days because of this struggle.”
Immediately after Egypt’s presidential elections in June 2012, Eitan spoke to unnamed local officials, who told him that with a mere 5,000-vote advantage for Islamist candidate Morsi, the military was prepared to announce the victory of his adversary Shafiq, a secular military man closely associated with the Mubarak regime.
But secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Eitan said, decided to favor democracy at all costs and disallow any falsification of the vote.
“This is idiocy. An act of stupidity that will resonate for generations,” Eitan said. “I also thought Mubarak should be replaced, but I believed the Americans would be smart enough to replace him with the next figure. Mubarak would have agreed to that, but the Americans didn’t want that; they wanted democracy. But there is no real democracy in the Arab world at the moment. It will take a few generations to develop.
I don't think the US approach to the Arab world is any less racist than Israel's.  I'm guessing they just don't like to be as obvious as Israel when it comes to throwing their weight around.

Meet the new Egypt....

Same as the old Egypt.

Here's The Guardian:
Egypt spent the equivalent of £1.7m on 140,000 US-sourced teargas canisters last month, despite the Egyptian government nearing bankruptcy – and amid a wave of police brutality that 21 human rights groups this week labelled a return to Mubarak-era state repression.
Well perhaps they didn't know the cost in money terms of Mubarak-era state repression. That's progress.

Rachel Corrie then Furkan Dogan, who's next?

This is from Alex Kane of Mondoweiss:
The deference to Israel “happened with Rachel Corrie. This happened with Furkan Dogan. And unfortunately from what we’re seeing, this might happen again, because the U.S. is not taking the safety of its citizens seriously,” said the CCR’s Lee.
Of course it's no worse that Israel kills Americans with impunity but when the US defers to Israel over the killing of its own citizens what chance do others have?

February 22, 2013

Veolia pays the price

This is a straight lift from Electronic Intifada partly because friends of mine were very closely involved in the No to Veolia campaign which cost Veolia so dearly (£4.7 billion) in North London and partly because there's a picture of one of those friends above the piece:

Veolia suffering "expensive" damage due to Palestine campaigners’ publicity, says financial expert

Protest in London against Veolia’s role in the Israeli occupation. (inminds.com)
For years, the French transnational Veolia has tried to downplay the effect of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns which aim to hold the company to account for its role in the Israeli occupation.
But now a top Norwegian financial advisor has boldly acknowledged the impact of the BDS movement.
Activists in many countries have pressured local authorities, public institutions, socially responsible investors and pension funds to do no business with Veolia as long as it is complicit in Israel’s violations of international law.
In a recent presentation [PDF], Hege Sjo said that “disasters are expensive” for businesses, mentioning Veolia as an example of a company that has experienced “reputational damage as a result of publicity and pending litigation” due to “operations in troubled regions. Involvement in infrastructure project in the occupied territories.”
Sjo spoke at a 8 February seminar organized by Norsif, a Norwegian association which promotes responsible and sustainable investment practices in the Norwegian financial industry.
Sjo underpinned her argument by mentioning Veolia’s alleged loss of a €3.5 billion ($4.6 billion) Swedish metro contracts in January 2009.

Senior financial adviser

It is remarkable that the observation was made by a financial expert who operates in the higher circles of the investment world.
Sjo is a senior adviser to the principle manager of the largest pension fund in the the UK, Hermes Investment Management. She is also director of several publicly listed Norwegian companies. Sjo’s warning is a clear sign to companies that profiting from Israel’s occupation carries serious reputational and financial risks.
So, stay out of occupied Palestine or risk reputational and therefore financial damage.

February 21, 2013

George Galloway can't take the foot out of his mouth.

George Galloway has a tendency to draw circles around himself and then argue that this is where the truth is. This time he took upon himself to define what BDS is, and did it in the Bull-in-China-Shop manner that is his trademark.

He was apparently invited to an Oxford debate club to debate a Zionist. He agreed. I have a lot of respect for people who are able to participate in such debates calmly. I don't. Of course it would be nice if we could just not talk to racists, but sometimes the situation requires engaging them, so one cannot strategically always avoid participating in such fora where racism is being defended and even with official representatives of the state.

Then it turned out that the person who was to take the other side of the debate is Israeli. Galloway stormed out, explaining later that,

I refused this evening at Oxford University to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the apartheid state of Israel. The reason is simple: no recognition, no normalisation. Just boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the apartheid state is defeated. I never debate with Israelis nor speak to their media. (The Guardian)

Noble sentiment. Unfortunately pinned on the wrong argument.

Needless to say, that statement immediately prompted accusations of racism against him. That's a load of tosh. Racism is a structure of discrimination and the historic prejudices that accompany it. Israelis are not the victims of racism as Israelis. So being personally boycotted by Galloway does not make one a victim of racism. At worst it might be called "to be given a taste of one's own medicine".

The Western media however has a fetish with "reverse racism." so obviously they would echo those accusations and give them credibility. As activists, we should expect to be called "racists" at every opportunity when we challenge mainstream racism. That's a good reason not to make it too easy for those who want to misrepresent us.

And that's the problem, however, misrepresentation, and also lack of logic and consistency. Normalization is accepting the legitimacy of Israel's apartheid practices and adopting a "business as usual" attitude towards them. To the extent that a political debate is real, that is, that it takes place in a context with consequences (for example, reaction to news), it is not normalization even if one is debating the news with the IDF spokesperson. In so far that there was normalization involved in this particular case, it consisted in the form of this kind of club debate itself, a kind of sportive entertainment in which the audience comes to see two gladiators exchange blows and to judge who was a better "advocate." One could argue that participation in such a debate constitutes indeed normalization, because the form of the debate itself is apolitical, a form of entertainment. In that sense, such debates are no different than putting together an Israeli film and a Palestinian film and calling it a "multicultural" evening. But if that was the case, the debate constituted normalization because of the way it was structured, not because of the identity of the speakers.

Galloway however made it about that, defining normalization as "debating with Israelis." He further described the refusal to debate with Israelis as "Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions". The BDS National Committee issued a statement directly clarifying that neither boycotting Israelis for the fact that they are Israelis, nor boycotting racists for their racist views, was what BDS strategy consisted in (although, everybody can decide when, if and how they engage with either):

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian unions, mass organisations, refugee networks and NGOs that leads and and sets the guidelines for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, supports all principled action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality that is in line with universal human rights and international law.
In its 2005 BDS Call, Palestinian civil society has called for a boycott of Israel, its complicit institutions, international corporations that sustain its occupation, colonization and apartheid, and official representatives of the state of Israel and its complicit institutions. BDS does not call for a boycott of individuals because she or he happens to be Israeli or because they express certain views. Of course, any individual is free to decide who they do and do not engage with.
The global BDS movement has consistently adopted a rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
These guidelines and the fact that BDS has been initiated and is led by Palestinian civil society are major reasons behind the rapid growth and success that the BDS movement has enjoyed around the world. (http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/bds-movement-position-on-boycott-of-individuals-10679 )

There may have been good reasons to agree to participate in that Oxford debate. And there may have been good reasons not to. Making it about the fact that the speaker has a certain passport, or about the fact that the organizers did not informe Galloway in advance about the nationality of the participants, is not a good reason for anything. It is an example of needlessly feeding the media reinforcement for its already existing prejudices, an own goal. It is still Galloway's right to choose to speak or not to speak on the same podium with whomever. But it would be nice if he didn't insist on confusing his personal flair for drama with principles.

Capitalist assimilation? Israel licenses former minister, Murdoch, Rothschild and Cheney to steal from Syria

Well here's some direct evidence of the fact that you don't have to be Jewish to benefit from the zionist project. See this report from the Israeli business magazine, GLOBES:
A month before US President Barack Obama is due to visit Israel, the Israeli government has awarded the first license to drill for oil on the Golan Heights. The license covers half the area of the Golan from the latitude of Katzrin in the north to Tzemach in the south.
In the past, the US government reacted angrily when Israel approved construction in eastern Jerusalem ahead of a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.
Sources inform ''Globes'' that, a few days ago, the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources' Petroleum Council recommended awarding the license to Genie Energy Ltd. (NYSE: GNE), headed by former minister Effie Eitam. Shareholders include chairman Howard Jonas, Lord Jacob Rothschild, and Rupert Murdoch. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney is an advisor.
Awarding a drilling license on the Golan could cause an international fracas, given the Golan's status as occupied Syrian territory under international law. There was no known political intervention in the licensing process, the proximity of the event to Obama's upcoming visit is coincidental.
There's a clear contrast between the settlement construction announcement referred to in the piece and this drilling license.  Settlement construction for Jews only is part and parcel of the zionist project and carries a cost.  This drilling business is all benefit and look who benefits, Murdoch, Rothschild, Cheney and a former Israeli minister, Effie Eitam.

And let's just see if Obama raises any objection to this exploitation of occupied territory by a multinational corporation acting in partnership with the State of Israel.

And another and.  And I wonder if Israel's recent bombing of Syria had anything to do with this or was that another coincidence?  Perhaps it was, I just don't want to ignore it.

The Only Way is Essex! Israel's Deputy Ambassador kicked out of Essex Uni

This is from Essex's News Gazette website:
ANGRY students blockaded a lecture theatre to prevent an Israeli ambassador visiting Essex University.
The deputy Israeli ambassador Alon Roth-Snir was invited to the Wivenhoe campus by the Department of Government to speak to students studying Middle Eastern politics.
But the trip was disrupted after hundreds of protestors demonstrated against the visit as an act of solidarity with Palestine.
This pic is from the Socialist Worker Students Society:

Today students at Essex Uni kicked the Israeli Deputy Ambassador off campus!


There's more on the Electronic Intifada website.

February 20, 2013

Palestinian Oscar Nominee detained at LAX

Got this from the facebook page of Miko Peled:
Unbelievable? Naah, totally believable, but still unforgivable and inexcusable! From Michael Moore (on Twitter): Emad Burnat, Palestinian director of Oscar nominated "5 Broken Cameras" was held tonight by immigration at LAX as he landed to attend Oscars. Emad, his wife & 8-yr old son were placed in a holding area and told they didn't have the proper invitation on them to attend the Oscars. Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn't good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine. Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn't understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee. Emad texted me for help. I called Academy officials who called lawyers. I told Emad to give the officers my phone # and to say my name a couple of times. After 1.5 hrs, they decided to release him & his family & told him he could stay in LA for the week & go to the Oscars. Welcome to America. "It's nothing I'm not already used to," he told me later. "When you live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence."
Michael Moore on Twitter is @MMFlint.

Israel's Tangled Web?

The instagram picture of a Palestinian boy in the crosshairs of an Israeli sniper's gun has done the internet rounds now largely thanks to Electronic Intifada:

A screenshot of an image posted on Instagram by an Israeli soldier.

Here's a blog post at The New York Times's The Lede which sets out how use of the internet isn't quite turning out to Israel's advantage:

Before the 20-year-old Israeli sniper who uploaded the photograph was able to delete his Instagram account, Mr. Abunimah and other bloggers copied itand the snapshot was published on news sites in Israel and around the world— dealing another self-inflicted blow to the Israeli military’s effort to use the Web to burnish its image.
After a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told reporters that sharing the photograph was “a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the I.D.F.’s spirit and values,” the young man also deleted his Facebook account, where he had posted images of himself using his sniper rifle as a comic prop.
A screenshot from the Facebook account of Mor Ostrovski, a young Israeli soldier.A screenshot from the Facebook account of Mor Ostrovski, a young Israeli soldier.
The Israeli veterans’ group Breaking the Silence, which collects testimony from soldiers who have served in the Palestinian territories first occupied by Israel in 1967, posted a screenshot of the photograph on Facebook side by side with a very similar image “taken by another Israeli soldier in Hebron in 2003.”
A photograph taken through the scope of a rifle in the West Bank in 2003, released this week by the Israeli veterans group Breaking the Silence.Breaking the Silence, via Facebook
But the bit I found most interesting was this about zionist tampering with Wikipedia:
As The Lede reported in 2010, the battle between supporters of Israelis and Palestinians is even waged on Wikipedia entries about the history of the conflict. That year, Naftali Bennett, a rising political star and a leader of Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank, explained that he was training a group of about 80 activists to edit Wikipedia entries to make sure that information in the online encyclopedia reflected the worldview of Zionist groups. For example, he said, “if someone searches ‘the Gaza flotilla,’ we want to be there; to influence what is written there, how it’s written and to ensure that it is balanced and Zionist in nature.”
"Balanced and zionist"?  Now how do they do that?

February 18, 2013

Why the Silence over Prisoner X?

Jeff Sparrow on the ABC News website thinks he has the answer:
In the 1920s, Harry Pollitt, a key leader of British Communism, fell in love with a young activist called Rose Cohen. By his own reckoning, he proposed to her (unsuccessfully) 14 times.
Cohen later moved to the Soviet Union, where, in 1937, she was arrested as a spy. The Russians never reported her fate but we now know that in November that year, guards dragged Cohen to the basement of Moscow's Lubyanka prison and shot her in the back of the head.
Coincidentally, Pollitt was in Moscow when the secret police came for Cohen. Behind the scenes, he lobbied on her behalf with high profile officials, including, it seems, Stalin himself. Yet when Pollitt returned to London, he and his Communist Party colleagues refused to call publicly for Cohen's release, going so far as to denounce others who did.
'Any charge that may be brought against [Cohen],' wrote the Daily Worker, 'will be tried according to the forms of Soviet justice. The British government has no right whatever to interfere in the internal affairs of another country and its citizens. It is not surprising that the reactionary press is in full cry in support of the British protest ...'
The Cohen affair comes to mind in the reaction to the extraordinary tale of Israel's 'Prisoner X'.
Back in 2010, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that an anonymous prisoner was being kept in solitary confinement, in conditions of secrecy so great that even his guards didn't know his name. That report was taken offline within hours, after pressure from the Israeli government.
Last week, ABC television identified Prisoner X as the Australian-Israeli man Ben Zygier - and Israel once more sought to gag the media. Nonetheless, we now know that Zygier was detained in early 2010 and then died later that year, supposedly by hanging - despite 24 hour surveillance in a 'suicide proof' cell.
Even from this sketchy information, an obvious question arises: why has there been such little public outrage about Zygier's treatment?

Now read on...please.

February 17, 2013

Palestine Solidarity and Jewish Opposition to Zionism - Conference in London

rom Boycott Israel Network

J-BIG Conference March 2 – Palestine Solidarity and Jewish Opposition to Zionism

J-Big Banner 600SATURDAY MARCH 2
1 – 7 PM
VENUE -     24 Greencoat Place,     London SW1P 1RD  (Near Victoria station)
This is a half-day conference offering  everyone working for Palestinian rights a chance to reinforce their knowledge of Zionism, its rejection of Jewish radical traditions, its conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel and its attempts to undermine Palestinian solidarity work – in particular the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).
Proceedings will start with BUNDA’IM, a short film introducing the last comrades of the Bund mass movement. Exterminated in Europe and ignored in Israel, its ideas live on.
Discussions will be lead by speakers including:
Sue Blackwell – British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
Michael Deas – Palestinian BDS National Committee coordinator in Europe
Antony Lerman – author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist
John Rose – author of The Myths of Zionism
David Rosenberg – Editorial Committee, Jewish Socialist magazine
Followed by entertainment from Deborah Fink (“The Diva with a Difference”), Leon Rosselson and others.
Email: Jews4big@gmail.com to book your place.
£10 waged, £5 unwaged/concessions (includes refreshments)
The J-BIG conference is part of “A Weekend of Two Conferences” – events put together by two separate organisations which have cooperated due to a clash of dates and venue. You can book both days for £25/concessions £20 via either email address.

White supremacy bad, Jewish supremacy good?

Here's Ben White at al Jazeera pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of Israel advocates' shrieks of antisemitism whenever Israel is criticised:
...during the furore over an event at Brooklyn College about the boycott of Israel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) compared the talk to the sociology department co-sponsoring an event with "members of the Ku Klux Klan who were going to talk about why America must remain a white-dominated country and how non-white people were ruining the country". 
Here, the ADL associates the demographics-obsessed racism of the KKK with a non-violent movement of solidarity with a people struggling for their basic rights. However, the KKK comparison is relevant - for understanding Israeli laws and government policies. Consider the following examples: 
  • "We are the majority in this country and we have the right to preserve our image... Every state has the full right to preserve its character" - Labour and Social Affairs Minister Shlomo Benizri, 2002. 
  • Palestinian citizens are the real "demographic problem" - Then-Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, 2003. 
  • "Prevent[ing] the spread" of Palestinian citizens is "a national duty" - Housing Minister Ariel Atias, 2009. 
  • "We want to Judaise the Wadi Ara area... The state wants to put this place in order so that the Arabs won't rear their heads" - Nissim Dahan, state-appointed local council head, 2008. 
  • "It is a national interest to encourage Jews to move to" places where "the Arab population is on the rise" - Chair of Knesset Lobby for Housing Solutions for Young Couples, 2010. 
  • It is "a matter of concern when the non-Jewish population rises a lot faster than the Jewish population" - Then-Mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, 1998. 
  • Non-Jewish "illegal infiltrators flooding the country" could grow to a number "that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state" - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, 2012. 
Remember that these kinds of remarks do not come from a fringe hate group in Israel, but by the highest level officials. Yet the ADL, and every other pro-Israel group in the West - including self-professed "liberals" - fail to see the inconsistency in calling a KKK member's demand for America to "remain a white-dominated country" abhorrent, while Israel "remaining a Jewish country" is a "red line", consensus issue. 
Of course, apart from failing to condemn Israel's racism they also give a free pass to antisemitism when it comes from their own side.

February 15, 2013

Jim Denham for Pope!

There's a vacancy coming up at the Vatican on account of the Pope's resignation.  I think I've got just the person.  It's a guy called Jim Denham who blogs at Shiraz Socialist.  He's not much cop at confession but he does do inquisition and absolution.

He has a long history of alleging antisemitism against Israel's critics and has been known to define an antisemite as anyone who doesn't accept Israel's right to exist within the pre-1967 borders.

Since there is no case for Israel the zionist movement tends to promote Israel negatively by smearing its critics as being antisemitic.  The latest targets have been cartoonists, Steve Bell at The Guardian and Gerald Scarfe at Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times.

Steve Bell depicted Netanyahu holding two glove puppets, Tony Blair and William Hague because their comments on Israel's pre-election attack on Gaza echoed Netanyahu's own excuse for the attack. Many would and did say that this was a perfectly fair comment but Israel advocates said that the cartoon smacked of antisemitic cartoons showing Jews controlling senior politicians.  Round about the same time, Murdoch tweeted a complaint that the "Jewish own press [is] consistently anti-Israel in every crisis".  Thankfully this led to complaints of antisemitism because it was the real thing but it didn't get any complaints from the usual suspects. I don't think, for example, that the ADL got on the case.  And Jim Denham definitely didn't get on the case.  But boy, does Jim have it in for Steve Bell.  This is the strip from a recent Steve Bell series which Jim chose for the Shiraz Socialist post titled:

Steve Bell's If ... 05.02.2013

And here's the text following that:

The issue re-emerged again in January, when an anti-Netanyahu cartoon by Gerald Scarfe appeared in the Sunday Times. Critics claimed that the cartoon evoked the ‘blood libel’ and was all the more unfortunate because it appeared on Holocaust Memorial Day. Scarfe almost immediately apologised for the timing of the cartoon’s publication and Murdoch himself then issued an unreserved apology.
Bell defended the Scarfe cartoon  (and, by implication, his own ‘puppet master’ image) in an intemperate rant on the Radio 4 Today programme. Shiraz covered the matter here.
The present theme of the ‘If’ strip would appear to be Bell’s riposte to those who’ve criticised him. At best it’s petulent and childish. At worst, it suggests someone who feels that antisemitism is a suitable subject for humour.
Let’s bend over backwards to be charitable to Bell, accepting that his original ‘puppet master’ cartoon was not consciously antisemitic (ie that he, as a leading cartoonist, was unaware of the existence of that particular “trope”): even so, can you imagine a good liberal-left Guardianista simply dismissing complaints of racism – let alone mocking them – under any other circumstances? Of course not. The only explanation that makes sense is that Steve Bell thinks that virtually all claims of antisemitism are made in bad faith by people who have a hidden political agenda. In other words, they’re part of a conspiracy.
In the course of his Today programme rant, Bell said this:
“Extraneous notions like blood libel are 
dropped in and sensitivities are talked up .. the very word 
‘antisemitic’ becomes devalued…
“.. they throw it around with such abandon. If there really is 
antisemitism it’s actually getting ignored…”
You have to wonder what exactly Steve Bell would recognise as “real” antisemitism?
With as much as Jim published here it is still difficult to attribute an antisemitic motive or ignorance regarding antisemitism to Steve Bell.  He has clearly referenced it in the statement Jim quotes.  He is saying by falsely alleging antisemitism, the bad faith accusers are giving the real thing a free pass.  Jim asks what Steve would recognise as real antisemitism but if he had published the first cartoon from the recent series he would know that and so would any of his readers who believe him.  Admittedly there can't be many if any of those.  But here's the first cartoon in the series:

Now here Bell clearly references a real case of antisemitism.  The tweet certainly recalls an old antisemitic trope about Jewish control of the media but since Murdoch controls more English language media than anyone else and since he is not Jewish, he can't have meant that.  He simply meant that if some Jews own something then all Jews are responsible for that thing and that the Jews had failed to live up to his expectations of them.  I suppose it would be a bit like me calling a black person an Uncle Tom for voting Conservative.

Anyway, in the cartoon that Jim did reproduce, he has neither Murdoch nor Bibi knowing what antisemitism is, hence, "Aunty Semutic Trope"  In the comments, not an edifying spectacle, Jim stubbornly refused to address the issue of Murdoch's antisemitism though he did say that he thinks Murdoch is scum.  But in the post he clearly supports Murdoch for his apology for Scarfe's cartoon.  Remember?
Scarfe almost immediately apologised for the timing of the cartoon’s publication and Murdoch himself then issued an unreserved apology.
It's interesting that Jim only has Scarfe apologising for the timing of the cartoon and not the content, it was Holocaust Memorial Day, and he doesn't describe Murdoch's apology which fails to mention antisemitism.  He described the cartoon as "grotesque and offensive".  If Jim was really interested in what people think the "real" antisemitism is you'd think he might challenge Scarfe and Murdoch.  But Bell who has made it clear what he thinks antisemitism is gets challenged.  He thinks antisemitism is a joke and he doesn't know what it is anyway, according to Jim.  Note also that Steve Bell's original cartoon could equally be described as "anti-Netanyahu" but Jim is alleging antisemitism here so such specificity won't help his case. When it comes to any similarity to old antisemitic tropes, Netanyahu and glove puppets and Netanyahu using blood for a barrier to peace, there is very little difference between either cartoon.

So Steve Bell gets the inquisition and Gerald Scarfe and Rupert Murdoch gets absolution, oh, and I get excommunicated.

So Jim Denham for Pope.  Communion Shirazes all round!