Posts Tagged ‘Boycott Israel’

from PACBI -As Palestinian Students based in Gaza we are alarmed to see yet another group ‘Al Tariq’[1] presenting solutions for us Palestinians, as if two equal parties were locked in a stalemate. According to the group website “both sides” need to “learn from each other through reconciliation, forgiveness, and dialogue”. For us young people among the 1.5 million languishing in Gaza open-air prison, (800,000 children) the 4 year-long medieval blockade of land, air and sea and 2 years on from the most devastating of massacres that killed over 1400 of us and over 350 of our children, this is quite an insult.

We ask: can we forget the ongoing ethnic cleansing? How can we forget the brutal killing of 350 of our children and 1400 citizens, while more shootings of farmers and rock collectors continue along the border? How can we forget the ongoing medieval siege of the whole of the Gaza Strip which still deprives sick patients from treatment abroad and allows no concrete in for reconstruction?

The dialogue promoted is a diversion from addressing the wrongs and route to justice for a clearly racist and colonial subjugation of an entire people such as that imposed by Israel on us Palestinians languishing in besieged Gaza or in the Bantustans of the West Bank. Israeli oppression has traditionally followed the sequence of, ‘murder, steal and colonize first, then dialogue on our terms later’.

This applied to South African Apartheid, and the white Afrikaner regime and its allies and supporters steadily felt their hold was threatened only when civil resistance grew among South African blacks and the global Anti-Apartheid Movement. The right to resist illegal military occupation and racist domination is enshrined in international law, yet like us they branded the African National Congress as one of the more ‘notorious terrorist organisations’ – Nelson Mandela was on the US terror watch list until 2008.

Anti-Apartheid heroes Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ronnie Kasrils have said that the situation here is worse than apartheid. So we ask again, would we have asked for White South African youth to discuss with Black youth under Apartheid telling them that, “the path that both parties walk only after they learn from each other through reconciliation, forgiveness, and dialogue?”

For South Africa, there was no discussion, there was no debate, the racist oppression had only one answer: BOYCOTT.

Acknowledging the one-way nature of the oppression, Al Tariq should introduce to Palestinian youth, Israeli groups that endorse the 2005 Boycott Divestment and Sanction call[2] by over 170 Palestinian civil society groups, such as Boycott! and Boycott from Within. Not as in one of al Tariq’s workshops, hearing from an Israeli youth leader who “gave the Palestinian participants the opportunity to see the Israeli liberation movement in another light and recognize the similarities between both nations in their struggle for freedom, security and peace.”

What kind of liberation movement required as a prerequisite the violent ethnic cleansing of 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods destroyed or emptied by force by the nascent Israeli army – all belonging to us Palestinians, the indigenous population. Over two thirds of us in Gaza are UN registered refugees, still expecting justice like any other human being would.

Dialogue groups such as Al Tariq are nothing but a cover for the status quo of Israeli domination – the illegal occupation, the forced exile of 6 million Palestinian refugees, systematic discrimination and an illegal blockade of Gaza, and the increasing number of discriminatory laws against the indigenous population of 1948. In fact, by maintaining the myth of parity between the sides, the lives of Palestinians become progressively worse due to the settler colonial nature of Israeli oppression with incremental land theft and continuous ethnic cleansing and genocide.

We say enough to equating the colonizer with the colonized, enough to the false parity between the “two sides” presented by this utterly false vision of the Middle East. We ask Al Tariq to continue the rising international isolation of Israel’s colonial enterprise instead of feeding the myth that the colonizer and colonized require dialogue, the likes of which has done nothing more than mask Israel’s increasing domination of Palestinian lives based on a racism at the core of their expansionist and apartheid policies. We call on the Palestinian participants in this project to withdraw immediately and act in accordance with Palestinian consensus by boycotting such projects of normalization.

Besieged Gaza, Palestine
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
University Teachers’ Association

[1] http://altariq.wordpress.com
[2] http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52

 

Nomen omen

from PULSE - A few weeks ago, while I was in al-Arakhib after the 11th ethnic cleansing attempt (yesterday was the 15th), I was interviewed by the Israeli Channel 10 culture editor, about Vanessa Paradis’ cancellation of her performance in Israel. Only one of the sentences I uttered in the 15-minute interview was included in the segment, and the rest is somewhere on the Channel 10 editing floor. So in an act of preservation, I’d like to paraphrase a part of the interview:

Channel 10 culture editor: “OK, so Vanessa Paradis canceled, do you really think anybody cares?”

Myself: “You came all the way to al-Arakhib to ask me that, I think it’s pretty effective.”

Macy Gray Draws The Picket Line

Macy Gray’s initial words of condemnation showed her to be someone who understands, to an extent, that Israel is practicing apartheid. This created a situation in which the international community expected her to act in moral accordance with her words. We all worked very hard to help her understand the meaning of occupation and apartheid, but we failed. We also failed to show her why she has a responsibility, beyond her performance, towards the Palestinian people. Though Gray had tried to offer a plethora of unacceptable “solutions” that would allow her to continue the show, (like doing the show in combination with going to the West Bank, as she published on her official blog) we had failed in getting her to do the one thing she had to do: Not perform.

Though I repeat that we’ve failed, I’d like to make it clear that due to her actions, it’s clear that Gray actually has no real understanding of the situation and how her actions, as innocent as they may seem, are in fact lending her face to injustice. As if performing in the “White City” wasn’t enough, Gray had followed up with a list of things that not only don’t help, but they actually exasperate the situation. I feel it’s important to follow these actions, so that maybe other artists will be more informed in the future (not to mention us “little people” who guide them in the process).

I’ve written about Gray’s meeting with the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles. It’s most crucial to understand the international artist’s role in whitewashing of Israel’s atrocities and creating an illusion of “business as usual.” The Israeli government has always made an effort to bring international artists to Israel. The artist’s name gives the state a sort of unofficial sponsorship- a vote of support- which is good for “the market”. The D in BDS is about divestiture from Israeli companies that profit from the occupation, or from Israeli institutions that enable, forward, or whitewash the occupation. One way to achieve this goal is to directly inform international companies where their money is going, another way is to erode Israel’s “sexy” image, by taking away its star-studded aura, which artists such as Madonna, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and now Macy Gray, provide.

It’s important to add that Gray’s meeting with the Consulate is direct cooperation with the government of Israel. She has already violated the boycott, before she even stepped on the “holy soil”. However, even this could have been rectified, had Gray came out with a public statement that her good name has been used for Israeli state propaganda. As expected, this “seemingly innocent” meeting has made good use of Gray, as the Consulate proudly plastered a picture of gray and Consul, Jacob Dayan, on the front page of its website, accompanied by a press release and a Facebook release.

Not recognizing the pattern, after a sour experience with the Israeli government, Gray came to Israel and met a currently undisclosed member of Knesset, in the Knesset building. Of course the violation of BDS is obvious, but she furthered the propaganda on her Twitter page with these following statements:

Seeds of Illusion

If that statement wasn’t enough to get Israel a few more business deals, then we can look into her meeting with “Seeds of Peace”. I wonder who set this meeting up, because as we’ve seen in the case of the Cape Town Opera, meeting with Palestinian organizations after performing in Israel isn’t an option. More so, when the organization is an Israeli-Palestinian organization that promotes an illusion of balance, and more so, when the organization is American (government and corporations) funded, such as the case of Seeds of Peace.

On the face of it, the organization is impressive. A mixed population of children, both Israeli and Palestinian (and other conflict regions, but allow me to focus), are taught “leadership and coexistence skills” within the context of the “conflict”. It’s very exiting to see a program which teaches kids things like economics and gender within the prism of politics. However, with the sterilized language on the website (no “occupation” to be found) and the program’s focus on trust building games between strangers that fake mutual trust in a sterilized environment, one must ask, how will these kids be able to be effective in the real world, when their education was based on a fictional balance between their situations? I highly doubt that an Ashkenazi Israeli young woman faces the same economic problems and obstacles that a Gazan young woman faces, for example.

Beyond the questionable content and context of Seeds of Peace, there’s the highly dubious list of funders:

USaid- A US federal government agency “[extending] assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.” The question remains: Is this before, or after they give 3 billion dollars worth of military aid to Israel, on an annual basis? Before or after it brought democracy to Iraq? And this is what USaid, who’s busy donating to Gaza with one hand, is busy doing with its other hand:

The end of the year downturn [for the Israeli economy] was caused by a combination of factors. The violence in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza led to a steep drop in the number of foreign tourists. Construction and agriculture were hurt by the sudden loss of Palestinian workers, unable to travel to jobs in Israel because of closures imposed by the Israeli military. A drop in economic growth in the United States led to a lower level of exports. Finally, the steep drop on the stock exchange resulted in a decrease in the rate of new foreign investment in Israel.

How does USaid solve this?

THE USAID PROGRAM: The United States, acting through the USAID, will provide $720,000,000 in FY 2002 funds to Israel as a cash transfer. These funds will be used by Israel primarily for repayment of debt to the United States

Who would have ever thought masturbation can be profitable outside the porn industry…

ExxonMobil – I was once told by an ethical investing consultant that the biggest donators on the planet, are the most harmful corporations. Now this makes sense, if you just think about the sheer size of these corporations. This manipulation that these corporations practice is, of course, what allows them to continue destroying every green patch of this little earth (also metaphorically speaking). ExxonMobil, which I doubt needs an introduction, trades in fossil fuels and is ranked “sixth among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States”. It’s responsible for catastrophic oil spills, endangering the wildlife and the funding of skepticism of global warming. In addition to environmental damage, ExxonMobil is neck-deep in human rights violations, from denying LGBT employees same-sex partner benefits, to it’s hand in oil-rich governments around the world, creating military unrest, leading to torture, murder and rape. Indeed, is this economics of politics taught to our precious seeds of peace?

Carlson Wagonlit Travel- CWT is a travel agency with branches all over the world. Its branch in Israel is run by the Israeli travel agency Ophir Tours, which exclusively provide travel services to the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), which is sponsored by the Jewish National Fund, thus taking an active part in Judaizing Israel (“Aliya”), ethnically cleansing the Bedouin population from the south of Israel, and whitewashing Israel’s brutal past of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Clean Like Pros – A cleaning company run by the Singer family. The Singers are active in the Jewish Federation of Ocean County, an offshoot of the Jewish Federations of North America, who’s top partner is the Jewish Agency.

Toll Brothers – A house building company who’s list of contributions could have melted my heart, had it not included that infamous excuse for idleness The Anti Defamation League.

The content and list of donors leaves very little room to speculate about Seeds of Peace using Palestinian youth (and other marginalized young people of color around the world, as well as in the United States) as tokens for a cynical game that furthers a capitalist, imperialist American agenda, which never doubts it’s commitment to its arm in the Middle East, Israel. Don’t believe me? Just check out the Seeds of Peace Advisory Board of Directors list:

T.H. George H. W. Bush

T.H. William Jefferson Clinton

Her Majesty Queen Noor

H.E. Shimon Peres

Dr. Sa’eb Erekat

(A word to Sa’eb Erekat: Who needs Al Jazeera leaks?!)

The Show Can’t Go On

Not only did Gray meet all the wrong people, she went on with her show and in it included a lavish donation of a motorcycle  to United Hatzalah, an Israeli emergency medical organization, which also receives motorcycles from non other than the most notorious settlement in all of the occupied territories, Hebron.

United Hatzallah funded by Hebron settlement. Ceremony held in the Cave of Patriarchs.

Panic in the Knesset

Without a doubt, the combination of Vanessa Paradis (and Johnny Depp along with her) canceling and the possibility that Macy Gray may cancel, as well, propelled the Knesset into action. You’d think that the “Boycott Prohibition” bill ( that will be passed tomorrow), criminalizing BDS criticism and activity in Israel, would be enough for the only democracy in the Middle East, but it seems that they just can’t get enough of the BDS jive [limited by my translation]:

I don’t know what our legal abilities are to act against these boycotts, but if we’re silent, we allow these things to happen… it’s very important that we raise our voice against this issue, especially when we’re talking about organizations that come from within Israel.

These are the words of Kadima’s MK Ronit Tirosh. In this same meeting, she also said [limited by my translation]:

The problem isn’t with specific organizations that boycott Israel and try to have impact, but about the use of different social networks in order to pressure the artists themselves on a personal level and even the people around them, like members of the band and roadies. We’ve asked the ministry of culture to take the issue of utilizing social networks from the Israeli side, too, in the face of the pressure they are exposed to, and an artist, who needs fans, has to recognize the extent of his hurt he causes his fans in the state, and maybe, as a result he’ll reweigh the cancellation.

Tirosh may not know the extent of her legal abilities to counter the BDS movement, but not for lack of trying. She’s just one of the MKs to be behind the “Boycott Prohibition” bill:

…a proposal to outlaw any nongovernmental organization that provides information to foreign or international bodies that leads to war crimes accusations against the government or the army.

The proposed legislation would apply to NGOs that provide information directly to accusers, or to NGOs that put information in the public domain that leads to such accusations… For the lawmaker behind the bill, Ronit Tirosh of Kadima, it is a necessary move to “end the rampage” by organizations that are trying to “subvert the state.”

Other MK’s also had some bright ideas [limited by my translation]:

Yisrael Beitenu MK, Alex Miller, head of the Culture and Education Committee, is planning to create a cross-ministry committee of the Foreign Affairs, Culture and Treasury ministries, who’s purpose will be to create an insurance policy to compensate (with my tax money) the Israeli producers, that bring the acts to Israel, who’s act bailed on them for “ideological motives”. He also added that he’ll join MK Tirosh in a law proposal to ensure this. He also called on the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture to build a joint strategy in dealing with the “delegitimization phenomenon of Israel in the culture world”. Lastly, he called on the producers to use the services of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, let them know about cancellations, so that consulate representatives can apply pressure on the artists.

Alon Barr, Director of Culture Ties of the Foreign Affairs Ministry:

…the boycott phenomenon is well known from the fields of commerce, academia, and international jurisdiction [prosecution] of IDF officers. “The way I deal with it is with an effort to propagate Israeli culture abroad and to encourage cooperation between Israeli artists and artists abroad. If we had more funds, we could do more.

Beit El settlement establisher, founder of Gush Emonim, responsible for doubling the Jewish population beyond the Green Line, National Union member, Arutz Sheva executive director, and Law of Boycott Prohibition initiator, Ya’akov Katz, in his capacity as a fair and balanced media man had this to say:

There are a few dictators of the Israeli media… that systematically stand behind organizations that boycott artists in Israel.

Shas MK, Nissim Zeev, had little to add, except the word “incitement”.

Of course, no Knesset conference, dealing with threats to Israel’s existence, would be complete without a member of the Re’ut Institute. In his capacity of “National Security team leader”, Eran ShayShon added:

..our job is to create a differentiation between legitimate criticism and delegitimization.

The BDS movement has come a long way. Thanks to Macy Gray all the crazies came out of the woodwork. While the “Boycott Prohibition” bill was proposed last summer, only tomorrow will it be passed. From a movement of the most impoverished and oppressed, that for 60 years couldn’t get the time of day from the media, Palestinians of the Occupied Territories are now changing Israeli legislation.

Israel has once more sent out a message to the Islamic and Arab world with its onslaught on Gaza that the struggle for the Middle East will be uncompromisingly bloody and violent. It was the same message in the summer of 2006 with the invasion of the Lebanon, with the Qana massacre of 1996, with the invasion and the 18 year occupation of the Lebanon in 1982 to 2000, and all the way back to 1948. For those who abjure violence in their personal lives, and for those, like me, who have never carried or used a gun, the boycott campaign is an important tool of nonviolent struggle against the Occupation of the West Bank, and the racist polity within the ever shifting borders of Israel, the borderless state in Occupied Palestine.

 

I admire Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s armed resistance against overwhelming force, but it should be by now clear after sixty one years that by itself armed resistance to Zionism will not lead to its overthrow. The most these organisations can do to Israel is harass, with as much impact as a wasp stinging a human being. This in itself is not negligible. The main effect of the missiles launched over Israel’s border is psychological terror, and occasional fatalities, against which the fourth most powerful military machine in the world is powerless. Psychological terror may discourage new Jewish immigrants from arriving in Israel, and that is to the good. 

 

However such tactics do not even elicit a pause from Israel’s political leadership, Right and Left, in the ongoing war on the Palestinians, the Zionist project of clearing the land of Arabs, and the continued illegal settlement by Jews of the Palestine’s West Bank. Clearly Hamas and other resistance organizations are quite powerless by themselves to stop Zionism in its tracks. In a defensive struggle the Shi’ite organization Hezbollah did succeed in throwing the IDF out of Lebanon in the year 2000, and successfully frustrated Israel’s attempt to reoccupy the Southern Lebanon in 2006. Israeli expansionism was thus contained.

 

At no point in the last sixty-one years have Arab armies succeeded in crossing Israel’s 1967 borders, or even in invading the annexed West Bank. Israel’s wars, including that of 1948, have been fought on the territory of other countries. The Yom Kippur War of 1973, although a partial defeat for the Arabs, did eventually lead to the return of the Sinai to Egypt (under American pressure) during the Carter administration. The regional military balance has been shifting in Israel’s favour for the last sixty years (Ref. “Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel” by Arno J Mayer, Verso, 2008). Talk of Hamas’ “victory” in Gaza in 2009 (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/01/18/hamas-leader-declares-victory-in-gaza-war) is in my view self-deluding and misplaced. An unopposed massacre of over 1,400 civilians is not a victory. 

 

I do not want to see the Palestinian resistance reduced to the equivalent of the Native American “ghost dances” of the 1880s, as the last resistance of the aboriginal inhabitants of Palestine is vanquished. I do not think for a moment that this will happen, because the Palestinian Diaspora now numbers more than 7 million, but the weakness of the opposition to the Zionist colonisation of Palestine within Israel is very concerning, and a helping hand from an international citizens’ boycott of Israeli goods and services is its chief, but not its only hope. Arab resistance and Arab demography are other reasons for hope.

 

Resistance as enshrined in the UN charter is legal; Israel is not, as the renowned Irgun terrorist Menachem Begin and future Israeli Prime Minister remarked the day after the UN vote on the partition of Palestine in November 1947: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.” In order to be accepted as a member state in the United Nations, in 1949, Israel was required to endorse General Assembly Resolution 194, which recognizes the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and commits itself to the return of all “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours” (700,000 in total at the time), to its sovereign territory. Israel accepted, was made a member state and immediately after announced it had no intention of implementing the UN resolution. Israel thus announced its illegitimacy as a member state of the UN. The Security Council, dominated by the imperialist states of the West, who helped to implant Israel in the Middle East in the first place, went along for the ride.

 

Israel’s key vulnerability lies in its being a trading state with a highly skilled workforce but few natural resources. The boycott of Israeli products, coupled with divestment in Israeli companies and a cultural embargo has to be a key way of supporting the Islamic and secular Palestinian resistance (PFLP), as well as a way of applying pressure to the Zionist establishment to moderate its penchant for atrocities, encouraging dissent within Israel and the deepening of existing fissures within Israeli society. If an international boycott can be linked to the issue of the Right of Return for the Palestinians and the cancellation of the Jewish Right of Return, an uncontroversial strategic goal in support of the Palestinians can be flagged up for the movement.

 

In January 2009 479 Israeli citizens signed a document called “A Call From Israeli Citizens” (at www.kibush.co.il) calling for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from and sanctions against Israel as the only way forward to begin the Civil-ization (in both senses – demilitarisation as well – Occupied Palestine to become a civilian society once again rather than a garrison state) of the Zionist military machine and stop the ongoing war on the Palestinian population.

 

In the 1980s Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli writer and the ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem, ran the West Bank Data Project, which analyzed the interaction of the Israeli and Palestinian economies in the Occupation. The resulting study concluded that the West Bank had effectively been annexed by Israel, not merely occupied (Ref: Intimate Enemies, Jews and Arabs in a Shared Land, 1995). As pre-1967 Israel was also an annexation by military force, accompanied by some strong arming of Truman and the infant United Nations by Zionist elements in the American Jewish community, the term “Occupied Palestine” correctly refers to the whole of the land between the river Jordan and the sea.  Any other designation fudges the evidence, which suggests that the military occupation of the West Bank will remain until the post-1948 colonial regime itself is either brought down or collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions, to be replaced by a non-colonial political order and the re-establishment of political and economic equality between Arab and Jew. 

 

Before 1967, Palestinian civilians of Israel also lived under a military occupation, and were in a similar position politically to those of the West Bank and Gaza now. The Palestinian American writer Rashid Khalidi uses the term “helot” (a term from the Greek of Ancient Greece to designate an indeterminate status between that of a slave and that of a citizen) to designate the position of Palestinian civilians who have neither civil rights nor any political opportunity to influence the behaviour of the state that dominates and controls their lives in endlessly demeaning and demoralising ways. 

 

Those who do not like equality before the law and citizenship for all will leave, just as the Algerian French did together with some of the pieds noirs in 1962, helping to solve the problem of housing some of the Palestinian refugees from Occupied Palestine at a stroke. Frantz Fanon’s two most important books, Black Skin, White Masks, and The Wretched of the Earth, have now been translated into Hebrew (2004). I am sure that they have been available in Arabic for a long time, but the political culture of the Hebrews is backward and inward looking, which is to be expected in a colonial state. Were the champion of the Algerian liberation struggle Fanon alive today (he would be 82 years old) he would certainly support the Palestinians. It is our privilege and duty as free citizens of the international community to do the same.

 

Paul Grenville 1st April 2009.

(thanks to Richard for the forward!) The Tesco 2 are Dee Murphy and Greg Wilkinson who kicked off a campaign to boycott Israeli goods by going into their local Tesco store, filling a trolley with dates produced on illegal Zionist settlements on the West Bank, taking them out without paying, tipping the dates on the ground and spraying them with red dye, then waiting for the police to arrest them. Dee is in court in early April. The police did not, for some unknown reason arrest Greg, but things have taken a turn for the worse as the following message I received from Greg last night shows…..

WASTING POLICE TIME
Police raided three houses yesterday and arrested two people – including me – on suspicion of ‘conspiring to commit racially aggravated criminal damage.’ They seized three computers and a lot of papers relating to Palestine/Israel affairs. They’ve kept my computer, which may mean they pick up some email addresses. Luckily the papers with addresses and phone numbers were out of the house by the time they searched it.

So what was all that about? It took us some time to realise that the police, in several vans and cars, were from Bridgend, not Swansea. Apparently there was a minor incursion at the Bridgend Sainsburys, during which a couple of boxes of Israeli peppers were sprayed with red paint and a ‘Boycott Israel’ slogan spray-stencilled on the floor. The police, or whoever set them up, took the word ‘Israel’ as racist, and it was assumed that the Bridgend and Swansea actions were co-ordinated, or conspired, by some sort of organisation or command.

I’m angry, as is my wife, at the racist slurs, because about ten policemen and women spent a couple of hours going through every nook and cranny of our house, and because I was arrested and whisked away to a police cell in Bridgend – as was a woman who was with me leafletting outside the Swansea Sainsburys last Saturday. D Murphy, already charged over an earlier acton at Swansea Tescos, had her house raided, but happened to be out. The police sent to her house then came on to ours – nowhere else to go in Swansea and nothing else to do – which was why we had about ten of them bustling through our rooms and, protected by their little disposable blue rubber gloves, through our drawers,bookcases, filing cabinets etc. They took away Ada’s craftknives and cutting boards, in case they might have been used in cutting stencils and seemed very interested in red paint – though the only red paint we had was emulsion, not much good for spraying. They also asked me about what they described as a ‘list of chants’ which they assumed I had composed. At first I couldn’t think what they were talking about, but later remembered that I’d jotted down some of the rhymes being shouted by a little group of Muslim schoolgirls at a Gaza protest demonstration in Swansea: ‘Stop the killing, stop the crime, free, free Palestine…. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.’

Other things that annoyed us: a policewoman running into the house without so much as a knock or introduction and asking ‘Can I use your toilet,’ but seeming quite put out when I answered ‘Yes, if you get my computer back.’ Now we have no list of what has been taken away, and will only find out as we come to look for this or that. And the police at Bridgend who offered me a phone call to my wife, to say where I was and when I might be back, but then refused to let me ring her, because they were too busy. They also failed to tell me that my solicitor had rung, so when it came to my recorded interview, and they asked if I wanted a solicitor, I said not unless I was charged: I was anxious to save time and not bring the man all the way from Cardiff. When I was asked about medical complaints and drugs, I mentioned a muscular condition, and a detective sergeant I’d talked to earlier said ‘muscular stiffness’. ‘Viagra, is it then?’ quipped the desk sergeant. All I said at the time was ‘Nothing that localised, I’m afraid.’ But now it seems to me that sort of crack might have been uncalled for from a position of power.

Most of all I’m angry because I’ve lost my computer and everything on it for what could be months – we’re bailed until June 4th – and because all that waste of time and energy could have been saved if one or two CID people had come to the house and asked the obvious questions. We could have established in a few minutes

1. That the use of the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Israeli’ is no more racist than the use of, say, British, in relaton to invasion of Iraq or Aghanistant;
2. that no conspiracy exists or is needed to explain the use of red paint in boycott gestures here and there in South Wales – especially since the Swansea action was so widely publicised in local press and online;
3. That raids and searches, involving at least 20 police and guards on that one day alone, were a gross waste of police time and public money, not to mention infringement on civil liberties.
On the other hand, most of the police and Group4 guards were friendly enough, and the house was left more or less tidy – not like the trashed interiors of Palestinian homes after raids by the IDF.
Still, question remains who authorised this disproportionate use of police power and numbers – thousands of pound worth of public money to get to the bottom of a box of Israeli peppers and some graffiti on a Bridgend floor?
This development shows two things:
1. the campaign to boycott is beginning to bite and the Zionists have been panicked into a hasty and counterproductive response.
2. Things are going to get much rougher from now on.
Now is the time to re-double our efforts.
and, see what Richard’s written on his wonderful site.

Translated into English by Manuel Talens and revised by Mary Rizzo

 

During the current Israeli aggression to Gaza both the Spanish Left and Right have built linguistic fences to position themselves around the problem. The case of the Spanish institutional Left is without any doubt paradigmatic: on one side there a party now in office – the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE – whose Minister of Foreign Affairs pretends to be a personal friend of Palestinians [1], whose Prime Minister Zapatero condemned the Israeli attacks during a PSOE meeting and whose militants (some of them) demonstrated in solidarity with Palestine. But on the other side, the government issued from this same party is among the ten main exporters of weapons to Israel, its secret services cooperates with their Israeli counterparts, it maintains preferential agreements with Tel Aviv, it supports the creation of the Sepharad-Israel House in Spain and it insists that what the party does is irrelevant to both the government’s performance and its State policies, which of course are to maintain very good diplomatic relations with “the great Israeli democracy” (so defined by the current UN President, Nicolas Sarkozy).

 

If this schizophrenic performance characterizes the party in office, the case of other Spanish organizations – labour unions and other left-wing groups with institutional vocation – is no less disturbing. While they have condemned Israel for its attacks, they also have emphasized their condemnation of Hamas as responsible for what happened to the Palestinians – although without mimicking Simon’s Peres accusations, – essentially sustaining the same justificatory arguments held by the Israeli government. They all have looked for a common denominator, a common language of consent – the same one that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Moratinos requests of the Palestinians when he says that “we don’t want unity but consent” – which would allow them to simultaneously show solidarity with Palestinians and be politically correct.

 

This consent has been built upon two taboos: never to use the word genocide and never question the Israeli democracy.

 

The objective result of building consent upon the negation of genocide and accepting the farce of Israeli democracy is a continuous complicity and the blockade of any fair option for the Palestinian people.

 

The imposition of consent betrays a far-reaching political objective in Spain. Either consciously or unconsciously it has intercepted the explosions of rage and pain by both Arab and Spaniards in the country, which have been systematically excluded, reprehended and silenced by the organized groups that led the manifestations of solidarity with the Palestinian people [2]. The Arabs of Spain went massively to all demonstrations in the country but were forced to accept the conditions imposed by these groups which organized the events, wrote the manifestos and chose “what actions were authorized and what not.” The fear that the immigrant Arab population – fully identified with the Palestinian cause – could explode and that this explosion could be considered as shared by the government has forced both the government and the Socialist party to a strategy to channel and control what the Left could carry out. [3]

 

The PSOE has managed to be part of all groups that organized actions and its interest in it was clear: to “normalize” them, to “control” them and to avoid any “radicalism,” as it risked to get out of hand considering what had happened in past demonstrations during the Iraq war. Clearly the PSOE wanted to avoid being forced to call the Israeli ambassador for consultations, to officially condemn the Israeli government or to interrupt the preferential relations with it.

 

As for other groups – unions, parties, some ONGs – a “minimum of consent” was essential to sustain the image of a not-radicalized-Left (so profitable from the institutional stand) while at the same time preserving the image of solidarity and the prestige of the slogan “another world is possible.” 

 

The Israeli genocide of Palestinians

 

The task of both PSOE militants and all other groups whose priorities are institutional was clear from the start: to provide all kinds of media, legal and economic support to demonstrations of solidarity with Gaza while intercepting all initiatives susceptible to friction with the Israeli government. That’s why the use of the word genocide was rejected in banners, manifestos, etc. under the threat of breaking the coalition of forces.

 

But why has it been so important to banish the word genocide from the vocabulary on any denunciation of Israel and of any act of solidarity with the Palestinian population? Why was the consented word massacre? Instead of looking into laws or international legislations, let’s see the definition of the word genocide in the Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary (DRAE): “extermination or systematic elimination of a social group for reasons of race, religion or politics.”

 

Historian Ilan Pappe carried out an exhaustive research on Jewish sources – unclassified documents from Israeli security services, Zionist files, Department of State reports, Ben Gurion’s files, military statements – and he reached the irrefutable conclusion that from the very moment of the foundation of the State of Israel the Jews planned the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. [4] In a recent piece he refers to different researchers who “call attention on the distinction between massacres that are part of a genocide, i.e., that are planned, and the unplanned massacres that directly happen out of hate and vengeance in the general context of an ethnic cleansing.” [5] All the indications and certainties of Israel’s “new historians” point to the fact that in the case of Israel’s acts against Palestinians they were massacres that happened in the context of the ethnic cleansing designed by the Israeli State, but at the same time, the original planning, systematization and political objectives made most of these massacres an integral part of the genocide against Palestinians. So if the ethnic cleansing – the genocide of Palestinians – is implicit to the foundational act of the Israeli nation, then the very existence of this State is delegitimized.

 

According to the DRAE the word massacre implies “slaughter of generally defenceless people produced by an armed attack or a similar cause.” If we substitute the word genocide for massacre we end up with a unplanned, not even intentional act against two, three or a hundred people but not against a people as a whole; a massacre is the result of “an armed attack or similar cause”, that is to say that it can be either the result of a war or that its causal relationship is directly related to an armed conflict so that the objective cannot be neither political – intended to eliminate people for racial, ethnic or political questions – nor its objective is to exterminate the civil population but rather it can be a unwanted consequence, uncontrolled hate by soldiers, a disproportion justified by technical questions… Finally, the people killed are – according to the DRAE – “generally defenceless” but maybe not. All of this means that a single word can be paramount to characterize and politically position people whether they use it or not. Words are neither neuter nor objective. In this case they characterize a conflict and place their users in one position or another.

 

From the point of view of the political costs, most of the organizations present in demonstrations did not risk anything before the mobilized masses as these did not perceive the difference between the words genocide and massacre; so organizers opted for the most acceptable term in order to safeguard all of their institutional contacts.

 

Beyond juridical considerations and the well-known pragmatism of law professionals, the definition of the attacks on Gaza as a massacre has contributed to halt any further analysis, considering it just as a regrettable but punctual fact similar to the destruction of Jenin in 2002. Calling it a “disproportionate attack” permits the filing of the case as a new example of the wrongdoings of certain leaders who maybe one day could be prosecuted for war crimes for their “errors” and their “disproportions.” Seen from a distance, the Spaniards’ image will be that of supportive human beings moved by the deaths of innocent people who after the “massacre” will return to mend their daily business after having done all that they could. By refusing to recognize the logic of manipulating words and scrutinizing the essence of the conflict and by adapting its speech to official requirements, the good-hearted and harmless Spanish “Left” has sided again – even without realizing it – with the wrong camp. 

 

Boycotting Israel

 

Neither Spanish institutions nor certain groups either favoured or compensated by their “efforts for peace” like to speak of boycotting Israel. A boycott implies to “deprive a person or an entity of all social or commercial exchanges in order to harm it and to force it to give in.” If all solidarity groups with Palestine ask – either politely or less so – that is it necessary to request Israel to abide by the United Nations resolutions, why do they give up an instrument as effective as the boycott as happened in South Africa?

 

In the case of Israel, requesting it to abide by the resolutions is like sending a letter to Santa Claus, even more considering the zero possibility of the UN either to force sanctions to Israel by the Security Council or to force it to abide by its resolutions. On top of that let’s not forget that the origin of the problem was the UN.

 

To deprive Israel of commercial exchanges could strangle its economy; its economy is not self-sufficient and its exchanges with Middle East countries would not allow Israel to commercially survive. On the other hand, its economy is strongly militarized, it depends on the US war industry and on the plundering of Palestinian resources. Israel would have a real problem if a boycott impacted on its commercial exchanges. In Spain there are groups which don’t refuse this kind of boycott because it can be carried out on an individual basis, it depends on the will of consumers and it permits justification of the resources spent on the necessary campaigns to increase sensitivity; a boycott would not jeopardize their institutional relations either. Other Spanish groups, it is true, defend this type of boycott with total sincerity.

 

The true problem arises when we think about an institutional boycott. From a political point of view a boycott of institutional relations with Israel has unacceptable implications to the Spanish State because the target of such a boycott is the democratic legitimacy of Israel. The aim of such a boycott would not have anything to do with the modification of a particular policy, or with the recognition of Palestinians, or with certain concession to the other part in conflict but with the very essence of the “Israeli democracy” in which there are discriminatory laws that mimic the South African apartheid system and create second class Arab Israeli citizens, i.e., the Law of Nationality that establishes differences in acquiring citizenship for Jews and non-Jews; the Law of Citizenship which forbids Israeli citizens to marry a resident of the occupied Palestinian territories [6]; the Law of Return which establishes that any Jew of the world can obtain citizenship and many privileges if he/she moves to Israel; as well, there are more than 11.000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel to whom they apply military justice and the practice of torture is accepted by Israel based upon the British Command laws, etc.

 

The boycott entertains the possibility that both citizens and institutions could carry out actions that they depend entirely on them, not on the will of Israel nor of their own governments. This would suppose the breaking, even partial, of Israeli impunity. The impotence and the discouragement that generates an International Community unable to force Israel to abide by the UN resolutions and the message of a powerful Israel against whom nothing can be done would crumble with actions controlled by citizens and institutions (universities, sport organizations, foundations, unions, parties).

 

The blockade of the words genocide and boycott by the Spanish institutionalized “Left” neutralizes and deactivates the struggle against Israeli Zionism and reduces almost all the country’s political spectrum to the role of mere spectators who watch it with “indignation” and then scratch their pockets obeying Moratinos’ order to concentrate themselves on the humanitarian aid, so politically profitable. Meanwhile Palestinians will continue being bad victims because they will prefer, even at the cost of being murdered either slowly or quickly, to continue resisting and fighting for their territory. 

 

Notes

 

[1] Today Moratinos is one of the Israeli government’s main champions in Spain up to the point of having apologized to  Minister Tizpi Livni. He says he will try to reform the Spanish legislation so that it won’t permit again the prosecution of military Israelis on the charges of war crimes, as it has just happened at the Spanish National Audience on January 29th, 2009.

 

[2] The Arabs showed up massively at the first meeting before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid (January 3rd, 2009), responding to the call of mosques. They overflowed the organizers, generating a spontaneous demonstration that walked toward the Israeli embassy and blocked important Madrid avenues. From that moment on it was clear to the PSOE that the danger of overflow had to be avoided.

 

[3] In fact, this channelling and control strategy was implemented by the PSOE just after the March 11 Madrid’s Atocha bombing in 2004: it created a federal group of “socialist Arabs” inside the secretary of social “Movements and relations with NGOs”. At the Ministry of Justice it also created the Pluralism and Coexistence Foundation to offer courses on both Islam and democratic principles, sponsor seminars on the integration of Muslims and follow-up the congresses of the Islamic communities in Spain, etc.

[4] Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld, 2006.

[5] Ibidem, “Demons of the Nakba”, Al-Ahram, May 17, 2002.

 

[6] If this happens the Jew loses all his/her rights as an Israeli citizen.

 

 

Source in Spanish: Los límites de la “izquierda” en su defensa del pueblo palestino

 

Ángeles Diez is professor of Political Sciences at the Madrid Complutense University. She has a PhD on Contemporary Latin America. She has done research work on collective action, social movements and NGOs.

 

The Spanish writer and translator Manuel Talens is a member of Tlaxcala, the Translators’ Network for Linguistic Diversity.

WRITTEN BY Michelle J. Kinnucan

An Israeli apartheid dance troupe started its North America tour in Houston on Wednesday, January 28, 2009. Between then and March 1, 2009 it will go to fourteen more American and Canadian cities. That troupe, the Batsheva Dance Company, is currently scheduled to perform in Purchase, NY on January 30-31 and then it’s on to (in order): Princeton, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Ottawa, ON; Ann Arbor, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Vancouver, BC; Santa Barbara, CA; San Diego, CA; Los Angeles, CA; and New York, NY.

As I wrote in The Electronic Intifada last November, the Batsheva Dance Company has been a recipient of Israeli public financing since the 1990s. According to a report in The Independent of London, the dance company has no Arab performers and is “proud to be considered Israel’s leading ambassador.” As I also wrote, “Ohad Naharin, the dance company’s current Director, served in the Israeli army. In a 2005 interview with a Canadian newspaper, Naharin stated that ‘I continue to do my work, while 20 km from me people are participating in war crimes … the ability to detach oneself from the situation — that is what allows one to go on.’ Needless to say, the victims of Israeli ‘war crimes’ cannot avail themselves of the luxury of detachment.” It is particularly egregious that the Batsheva Dance Company is scheduled to perform in Vancouver, British Columbia as part of the 2009 Cultural Olympiad in the run up to the 2010 Olympic Games. Since when is polishing the image of a violent, racist state part of the Olympic spirit?

As Omar Barghouti, a Jerusalem-based freelance choreographer, cultural analyst, and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (www.PACBI.org) said last month in The Dance Insider: No Israeli dance company “has ever taken a position calling for an end to the occupation, not to mention recognizing UN-sanctioned rights of the refugees or ending racial discrimination against the state’s ‘non-Jewish’ citizens … none of [the dance companies] has ever challenged reserve service in the occupation army, despite the fact that punishment for doing so is minimal in Israel (unlike Germany in the ’30s, say). … Those same dancers are part-time occupation soldiers, manning roadblocks, protecting colonies, evacuating homes and demolishing them, killing children and letting pregnant women die at checkpoints by preventing ambulances [from passing through], letting young bleeding youth bleed to death without medical aid, etcetera. What a bunch of liberal dancers! And what do their institutions do? Nothing.”

I urge American and Canadian Palestinian solidarity activists to use letters, petitions, leaflets, demonstrations, signs, and other nonviolent means to encourage cultural organizations and their patrons to boycott the Batsheva Dance Company and to raise awareness of Israel’s crimes and the BDS campaign to liberate the Palestinian people. Local campaigns are already well underway in Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and other cities, plus the newly formed U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel is spreading the word, too. As Desmond Tutu used to say during the struggle against South African apartheid–which also employed BDS, including cultural boycotts–it’s time join the winning side, the side of justice. Today, that side is the side of the Palestinian people.

For more details on the dance company’s performance schedule please go here or check the web site of their North American booking agent, H-Art Management, at www.h-artmanagement.com/calendar.html.

Michelle J. Kinnucan is a member of Middle East Task Force of Ann Arbor. Click here to contact her. Her writing has previously appeared in CommonDreams.org, Critical Moment, Palestine Chronicle, Arab American News, and elsewhere. Her 2004 investigative report on the Global Intelligence Working Group was featured in Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Stories (Seven Stories Pr., 2004) and she contributed a chapter to Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise (Peter Lang, 2006).