Archive for the ‘Internet and Communication’ Category

Razan Ghazzawi (photo by Gillian York)

Following the arrest of Syrian-American blogger Razan Ghazzawi on December 4 by Syrian authorities, Razan subsequently faces various anti-state charges that carry up to 15 years of imprisonment. Today, a group of Palestinian bloggers and activists issued the following statement of support, which appeared on a range of internet outlets and blogs and follows weeks of campaigns for her release. The statement read:

We, a group of Palestinian bloggers and activists raise our voices loud and clear in solidarity with all the prisoners of the Great Syrian Revolution. We stand with all the prisoners, activists, artists, bloggers and others, all who are shouting in the streets or on various platforms demanding freedom and justice, while decrying the huge amount of injustice and oppression practiced by the Syrian regime for more than four decades.

We issue this statement in solidarity with all those Syrian activists, and with the blogger Razan Ghazzawi who was arrested on December 4th, on the Jordanian-Syrian crossing border. Razan was adamant in her support for the Palestinian cause. She was the first to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian bloggers who were not granted a visa to enter Tunisia in order to participate in the Arab Bloggers Conference. Razan posted a blog in 2008 during the massacre on Gaza titled, “The Idea of Solidarity with Gaza.” She wrote, “I understand when Cubans, Brazilians, and Pakistanies stand in solidarity with Gaza. But what I do not understand is when Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, and also Palestinians in exile stand in solidarity. What is the meaning of solidarity in this context?”

Not only do we stand in solidarity with Razan and the other prisoners, but we also affirm that our destiny is one, our concerns are one, and our struggle is one. Palestine can never be free while the Arab people live under repressive and reactionary regimes. The road to a free Palestine comes with a free Syria, in which Syrians live in dignity.

Freedom to all of the prisoners in the Syrian regime’s cells. Long live the Syrian Revolution, free from dictatorship, sectarianism, and foreign intervention.

If you wish to help #FreeRazan, repost this on your own blog and spread the call.

Signatories:

Abir Kopty

Abrar Agil

Ahmed Fahoum

Ahmed Nimer

Alaa Abu Diab

Ali Abunimah

Ali AlMasri

Ali Bari

Amal Murtaja

Amani Ighbaria

Amra Amra

Anas Hamra

Asmaa AlGhoul

Bashar Lubbad

Budour Hasan

Dalia Ghorab

Dalia Othman

Deema AlSaafin

Diana Al-Zeer

Doa Ali

Fidaa Abu Assi

Hala AlSafadi

Hamza Elbuhaisi

Hanaa Mahameed

Huwaida Arraf

Ebaa Rezeq

Irene Nasser

Jalal AbuKhater

Khaled AlShihabi

Linah AlSaafin

Maath Musleh

Maha Rezeq

Majd Kayyal

Mariam Al-Barghouti

Meera AlBaba

Mira Nabulsi

Nader Al-Khuzundar

Nadine Darwish

Nalan Al Sarraj

Nihal ElAlami

Nisreen Mazzawi

Ola Anan

Osama Ghorab

Osama Shomar

Rasha Hilwi

Rowan Abu-Shahla

Saed Karzoun

Saleh Dawabsheh

Thameena Husary

Yusra Jamous

Protesters for Libyan freedom in London

It seems like years ago, but only a few months have gone by. The anti-imperialist world raised their virtual glasses in a united toast to the people’s revolutions. When I say this phrase, it seems I need to define every term, so bear with me. I will try to not take any concepts for granted.

The anti-imperialist world as I have come to know it is generally comprised of generally well-to-do intellectual-type folks who engage more time in discourse and social networking than they actually do in developing strategies or training individuals for a radical change in society where local (indigenous) people are their own leaders and determine for their exclusive benefit the policies and economic organisation of their own territory. They however are generally very passionate about the need to seek justice against tyrants and they believe that the people themselves want the same thing, so they do what they can (far from the places themselves) ninety-nine times out of one hundred by raising awareness through their articles, videos, comments, social network activities and fundraisers for more public events to raise awareness (and this cycle continues until it exhausts itself into the next fashionable group of unfortunate others).

With all that awareness-raising, you would be sure that by now, this formidable band of selfless virtual warriors would have convinced all of the world that there is no way on earth that the will of the people should be trampled on and that sooner rather than later, each people will achieve its own autonomy and self-reliance. These people who have concretely moved towards self-liberation might even be so inclined as to bite the hands that looks like it feeds them, if this has to happen for them to truly be free, but an anti-imperialist should never look at his or her own interests as a member of the empire who enjoys the privileges of that status, and should even tolerate great levels of aggression against the empire he calls home.

That said, when first Tunisia, then Egypt, began staging independent demos to demand change in their government systems, inspired by their sheer numbers, they seemed to be fully successful. There was bloodshed among civilians, but it ended, and this was a revolution that was almost like a dream, almost too easy and certainly so full of promise and hope. It even adopted the name that will remain with it for all time, “Arab Spring”, the long-awaited renewal of Arabhood connected to the idea of development of a new society that was going to put people before anything else. That it gained support at a global level probably was intrinsic to its success.

Protesters in Gaza

How did that happen? Well, we all know it was through mass communications, some of it entirely spontaneous between those directly involved, and some of it presented to a wider community to enlist their sympathies and support. It was the fact that the world was watching that perhaps hastened the demise of Ben Ali and Mubarak, and it could also be the fact that a barrier of fear had been broken. Make no mistake, I have been  documenting Egyptian uprisings for at least 3 years, and there are others who like me were not under the impression that Egyptians were passively accepting a lack of political expression and a worsening social crisis. Several of us had commented that it was necessary to break through the impression that Egyptians were incapable of rebellion and to show that there was the emergence of a protest movement that was non-confessional, and was tying together the idea of the rebirth of Arabhood as well as an Egyptian national identity that was as vibrant as the Egyptian people. We could have been some of the few who were not surprised by the revolution, but what did surprise us was the enablement that  this gave to nearby peoples.

Living in the European country closest to Libya and with a colonial past which as recently as 1972 has seen mass expulsions of Libyans of Italian descent, whatever happens in Libya is going to be felt directly. In the past years, hundreds of boats full of refugees have headed toward our shores,  and as has been documented thoroughly, the Libyan regime had utilised the African migrants as a playing card to obtain many things from Italy. The Africans who were brought to Libyan Migrant Detention Centres were actually imprisoned there, and the thought of dying at sea on unsafe and overcrowded ships was a risk almost all of them were desirous to take after months of torment from the military and police branches of the Libyan government. There were truckloads of them driven to the confines of the desert and left there to die, documented by Italian film crews, who were concerned about lives in the face of the “Bilateral Agreements” so that Gaddafi could keep a foothold in Italy’s economy and obtain “aid” worth billions of Euros for infrastructure (some of it I can personally testify was for bunkers), weaponry and telecommunications in exchange for a policy of limiting African immigration from Libyan shores.

Gaddafi’s racism thought it found another foothold in the sensitivities of the Italian government, and his words were carefully used to obtain what he  wanted, a combination of greed and rank racism that I witnessed few anti-imperialists getting upset about.  It deserves being read word by word:

“Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration, it could turn into Africa. We need support from the European Union to stop this army trying to get across from Libya, which is their entry point. At the moment there is a dangerous level of immigration from Africa into Europe and we don’t know what will happen. What will be the reaction of the white Christian Europeans to this mass of hungry, uneducated Africans? We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and cohesive continent or if it will be destroyed by this barbarian invasion. We have to imagine that this could happen but before it does we need to work together.”

Gaddafi's recent "Rome By Night" outing

Gaddafi would come to Italy, honoured by Silvio Berlusconi and the best that the Italian government had to offer by way of hospitality, in order to seal more deals and to re-establish that these two neighbours had the same interests at heart: especially a thirst for petroleum and a provider who would make sure there would be preferential treatment under certain conditions, including keeping Europe white. Berlusconi was also an honoured guest in Libya, promising billions of Euros for schools, retirement homes, infrastructure and other things. It is curious that those continually claiming Libya was fulfilling all of its people’s needs on its own seem to not question why they would need so very much Italian money to do what they claim has already been done. During these visits, our news shows were almost suffering an embarrassment at how to represent it. The feelings run deep, and we had known of the abuses that were going on in Libya. Many of us know Libyans, some of them in exile, “You mean  you can’t go back? What do you mean you can’t go back?” Others who come on scholarships and seem to never want to talk about politics either. I would joke with two friends (one in each category) and call it the Libyan black hole. However, both would easily admit that Libya could be much more than it is, if only it could have the chance for that.

So, I watched the revolutions with other anti-imperialists, and the Libyan revolution had quite a few of us excited at the first moments because  Libya is not a Middle Eastern country and it also has ambiguous and collaborative relations with the empire, and with my nation in particular. I  was naively convinced that true anti-imperialists would welcome the will of the people as sovereign and that the information constantly withheld from us regarding many human rights violations would cause one of those powerful moments of decision: supporting an action that really was going to mean conflict and risk for my own nation. As February 17th approached, (with its planned march in Benghazi of the family members of the 1,200 political prisoners of Abu Salim who had been executed by Gaddafi ) I noticed that a few would start to say it was not a real revolution because a) it was against a leader who claimed to be anti-imperialist, b) it was a tribal conflict that we should not take part in, as it would lead to division of Libya (as if they actually knew or cared!), c)the protesters had some problems that did not make them revolutionary, with the sub-groups of 1) they are seeking the restoration of the monarchy, 2) they are religious fanatics that will turn back the clock on progressive revolutions and make Libya a theocratic state. I asked them if they had the right to determine when a revolution was valid and when it was not, and I was surprised to hear that they were putting conditions on the support of a people, and didn’t they notice the people were demanding their freedom?

I started to check into all my favourite anti-imperialist sites, most of the relevant articles indicated to me by friends on Facebook, and lo and behold, most of these were articles by Westerners. If I had kept count, and I should have, I would have the evidence in front of me that out of 100 articles perhaps 3 were actually penned by Libyans. I got to wondering what was happening when I had been reading and hearing the reports from Benghazi by Mohamed Nabbous, killed by Gaddafi’s squadrons and in the many comments surrounding these interventions, and noticed the enormous gulf in what the Pundits were saying, and what Libyans were saying. It was as if there were two worlds colliding. All of these people claimed to love freedom and to want to do anything necessary to obtain it, but there was that nasty issue of Gaddafi actually threatening to exterminate those who tried. At this point, one would think that this would be enough for one to firmly side with the Libyan people and wonder what the pundits were going on about.

And, at this time, many things entered the scene, such as NATO, which all of us detest, and transitional governments and Libyan officials abandoning their leader and an upsurge in refugees flooding into Tunisia and war and death in the land that only a few weeks before was the next domino with a tyrant’s face that had to be knocked down.

We read of infiltrations of Al Qaeda, (this was what Gaddafi claimed the Thuwar (“rebels” to those who hate them and “freedom fighters” to those who love them), of deals with Empire, of CIA infiltrates and anything else that you can imagine by way of establishing that those who were commemorating the massacre of their loved ones and who were massacred while doing so were SO BAD and if we supported them, we were dupes. I guess it would take a very self-assured person to still want to see the Thuwar and indeed the people opposing Gaddafi in a decent light.

Already involved in a few discussion groups regarding the events in the region, I was invited by friends to join a few private mostly-Libyan discussion groups. I wanted to observe the discourse, and since my sympathies and antipathies were known to me, but not backed up by enough concrete information, I took it as my “personal fact finding mission” to learn as much as I could about the situation from Libyans. Indeed, the discussions in these groups are lively, and shockingly, almost everyone in the groups (which are by no means small either) has a martyr for the cause and has family living in conditions of siege. It is quite a shocker to log in and see someone receiving condolences for his father, his uncle, her brother, a daily litany of suffering and loss… And even more shocking was the coming into contact with a world I should have been more aware of, that of the acceptance of the will and wisdom of God.

Yes, religion plays a big part in many of these struggles, and while this is not a religious war, (and all Libyans practice the same religion for the most part), the element of faith and perseverance that these people surely learned from over four decades of negation of their political freedom is omnipresent. I would also peek into Pro-Gaddafi boards and oddly, there was a sort of violence and lack of humanity that were not even hidden very well. It became almost apparent to me that there was a lot more to this situation than meets the eye.

I got into discussions with American Communists (self-proclaimed, naturally) and leftists in general and when they started to stress that they didn’t like the religious symbolism that they were seeing (as if their taste was going to matter) I had to ask them why they thought they knew better than the Libyans what was best for Libyans. I was told that the Libyans would put the monarchy in. I stated that the TNC issued a statement and it was supported by those I was discussing things with, that there were to be elections and there was going to be an establishment of democracy. These AC + Leftists told me that the Libyans were dupes for the empire and religious fanatics and that if they were not working for a world revolution but for a repressive and authoritative patriarchal set-up, and thus, as AC + Leftists, the Libyans would not be worthy of obtaining their support. I thought that was some cheek. So what I decided to do was to serve as a filter, I invited Libyans to use my board to engage with these anti-imperialists, and many willingly did so. They presented the Libyan point of view, they were kind, patient and tried to explain what the situation was so that it could be understood.

I admit I was shocked at the violent verbal reactions they got. I admit it was the classic Western Pundit thing of orientalism and ignoring the voice of the common man if that common man was not “politically advanced”. It was the thing I see time and again in Palestine activism: the great Western hero (usually white, male, often Christian or Jewish) determines that he or she knows what is best and becomes the spokesman and mouthpiece for Palestinians. It is denial of Palestinian agency, but it is so common and so normal that we tend to not notice it as the alarming trend it is.

McKinney not looking too objective there.

Working for the Man

So, when Cynthia McKinney stepped onto the scene, it is as if the secret prayers of the Gaddafi supporters who also are against the Libyan people’s revolution (they want to deny it’s what it is, but they are unable to turn off our memory cells that far back) had been answered. Black, female, present in the past in brave gestures for Palestine, outspoken against the robbery of the Democratic vote in the Bush elections, pacifist and they can plug their noses on the fact that she actually might represent empire by being involved in the presidential elections as a candidate and as a Roman Catholic. She does fine to complain against NATO abuses and even their involvement, but to become the mouthpiece of Gaddafi went above and beyond the call of duty, even going so far as to follow the game plan he provided while establishing the proper narrative to put forth. She did this as well on Libyan State TV, yes, the same state TV that has been accused by Libyans as sending out calls for ethnic cleansing of the Amazigh people (a linguistic minority in Libya) and those living in cities where protesting became resistance and then revolution.

And it seems, once again, we have thousands of eyewitnesses who the anti- imperialists, Leftists, American Communists refuse to listen to or when they are given the opportunity censor them or hurl insults their way, but when an American “eyewitness” (who has been shown where the Gaddafi cronies have taken her and nowhere else) speaks, she is the one who must be listened to, because she will not change anything, because she has no loved ones there, so whatever happens is politics, because she will have her hardcore followers and for all the ones she loses, she will pick up more, sensing where the anti-imperialist (banter) winds blow, feeding the fundraising machine for awareness-raising in an endless cycle. Those who actually are Libyans are treated to the usual “shut up” that is reserved for “counter-revolutionaries”. All from the comfort of these Western Anti-Imperialist homes far away from where the blood is being shed.

So what is my final remark to anti-imperialists, that group which I had felt I had proudly belonged to for decades? Quit lecturing with such an attitude of cultural colonialism and start listening to those who are actually the directly interested party. Answer them at least once when they ask  what alternative you would have offered when it was clear that their people were being violently crushed. Realise they are not interested in anything but their own freedom, and that includes freedom from you and your ideology and platitudes that contain nothing concrete for them to use towards obtainment of their freedom. If the anti-imperialists can’t understand that, then Khalas, because shutting up is golden.

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.

Since its first days, Palestine Think Tank has been supported by a wonderful site and by the truly dedicated activists there. Alter Info has been under a lot of pressure from the usual Israeli Lobby organisations, this time in France. We wish to express our support of Alter Info, to hope that they are able to win this case, and that some benefactors are able to help them with the growing legal costs. Please read their press communiqué and, if you are able to, show your support of those who provide information so that the lies and propaganda will not win, and that peace and justice will prevail.
Dear friends, Alter Info readers,

Since the beginning of our legal issues, many have supported us and showed their solidarity. Thanks to you, we managed to face adversity with dignity and honour. Therefore it is natural that I keep you informed of the legal outcomes and political games around this case in order that each of you realizes to what great extent not only this website but more generally freedom of speech and particularly individual freedoms are under attack.

In addition to the two complaints filed by UEJF & J’Accuse, I’ve been called up one more time by the police because a second complaint was filed against me; this time owing to the apparent transgressions of Ginette Hess Skandrani, an old lady and sincere militant that we know only through her writings. Nevertheless her fight was honourable and we felt that she deserved to be heard through our website. However this second complaint is unlikely to lead to legal prosecutions, which is not the case with our detractors from UEJF & J’Accuse. It’s as if their power goes beyond what the Law permits to such non-profit organisations, such that it seems like “human courts acquit the strong, and doom the weak, as therefore wrong.”**
Of the various accusations of defamation I received, death threats have had less of an effect on me than the cases filed by l’UEJF & J’Accuse; apparently being threatened with death and slandered is less important than being accused of “hate incitement” and so-called “denial of crime against humanity.” It’s unfair that in a nation under the Rule of Law the strongest is always right. Yet “power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true.”*

At the end of December 2007, we received a letter from Mr Lilti, attorney for the UEJF & J’Accuse organisations, formal notification asking for the removal of a translated article by Henry Makow entitled Capital Imperialism and published in September 2007. In this letter, Mr Lilti, among the usual clichés and predictable accusations of anti-Semitism, declared that even if we removed Ms Skandrani’s article, he would nevertheless file a case against me for “hate incitement.” What I find a little bit puzzling is that the Attorney General added a “crime against humanity” charge to the other insanities my detractors are accusing me of.

After the first provisional order, a second one was canceled thanks to the perspicacity of the President of the High Court: I had sent a letter to the President of the Paris court and tried to show good faith by removing the offending article before a second provisional order could be issued. I told him about the nefarious plot of our detractors and the fallacious reasons brought up just to harm us financially and shut us up. For reasons unknown to me, the Attorney General of Mulhouse proceeded nonetheless to quote from the second provisional order in order to accuse me of “denial of crime against humanity.” Despite the lucid decision of the President of the Paris court, UEJF & J’accuse intend to use the second provisional order as a new tool of censorship and coercion. Having failed miserably in their provisional order attempt, they still managed to coerce the Mulhouse Attorney General to hear their complaint.

The provisional order requires us to remove the article and pay damages to the two plaintiffs. It galls me to submit to this insidious blackmailing, especially as we had taken precautions before publishing the article. We included a preamble forewarning the reader of the article’s tendentious words. I naively thought that the Court of Appeals would analyze the substance rather than the form of the case – normal procedure during provisional orders – so we decided to appeal its decision. We were amazed that despite having proven the dishonesty of our detractors – who drew analogies and comparisons between our case and the Muhammad drawings case (for which precedents would have favoured our case), the Court of Appeals nevertheless sided with UEJF & J’accuse.

“Noble passions are like vices; the more they are satisfied, the greater they grow.”*

So, according to our attorney, on May 17th 2008, the appeal judge confirmed the provisional order conclusions. In addition, he doubled the damages. Though we have not yet received legal notice of the appeal judgment, the attorneys and solicitors of the plaintiffs are rushing us to pay for their fees and the costs we are also liable to. However, not having received a legal notice of the appeal judgment, we can still lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court – for up to 30 days after receiving this document.

Since December 2007, our detractors have induced financial costs exceeding more than 5 times the yearly operating budget of our association i.e. more than 20,000 euros.

UEJF & J’Accuse, two so-called anti-racism organisations, are sub-agencies of CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions). This self-proclaimed institution assumes the right to speak and act in the name of all French Israelites and Jews. At annual dinners, the leaders of this organization don’t hesitate to lecture our political and media elites, “suggesting” legislation, even humiliating some attendants. We don’t know which legal or moral right, which values allow this organization to hold such strong political influence and to hijack the voice of all French Israelites, given that less than 4% of this population are members of CRIF.

The deeds of organisations whose methods are similar to those of CRIF sub-agencies UEJF & J’accuse are not democratic at all and are in fact contrary to any republican principle. Indeed, lobbying is a common and legal activity amongst Anglo-Saxon societies, and even if European Union institutions are trying to integrate lobbying into their governance model, the French Constitution does not allow lobbying. Their constitutionality notwithstanding, some lobbies have greater political influence than others and often they are the ones responsible for instigating social tension.

If the CRIF and its sub-agencies were only lobbying on behalf their members (which is after all their raison d’etre), even though morally reprehensible, it would be acceptable to a certain extent. The trouble is that CRIF is more likely to fight for the interests of Israel than to address the problems faced by its members or the rights of the community it’s meant to defend. While the CRIF is trying to take all French Jews hostage, see what some anti-Zionist associations like the UFJP (French Jewish Union for Peace) think of the CRIF in the open letter below:

Letter from the UJFP to the CRIF
Sunday, February 8th 2009
French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP)

Open letter to the leaders of the CRIF

The masks have fallen and that’s enough for now!

You have absolutely no right to speak neither in our name nor in the name of our own who were penned in ghettos, murdered in pogroms, killed in death camps, but who were also part of all the struggles, from the International for a better world to the Resistance against the Nazi intruder, against colonialism and for freedom, justice, dignity and equality of rights.

You cheered and supported the crimes of the IDF, crushing under its bombs the population you call “a hostile entity”, bringing down houses, devastating crops, targeting schools, mosques, hospitals, emergency cars and even a graveyard … Now you are on the side of the Apartheid supporters, oppressors and modern barbarians, and the blood of their victims is spilling on you.

Meanwhile, you lost all human sentiment, all compassion in front of this distress, you’ve outraged and soiled us by assimilating all the Jews to the supporters of a bunch of war criminals in the same way you soiled the memory of Rachi, Edmond Fleg, Emmanuel Levinas and many others – all that French Judaism was carrying in terms of human worth, intelligence and light.

You’ve tried to transform a colonial and geopolitical conflict into a communitarian conflict and by pretending that “95% of the French Jews support the Israeli invasion”, you stir up anti-Semitism while claiming to be concerned with its return, like pyromaniac firemen. No, Ladies and Gentlemen who are leading the so-called “representative” council of the French Jewish Institutions, in our eyes you represent nothing except the zelators of an abject slaughter.

UJFP national office on 02-07-2009 Union Juive Française pour la Paix (UJFP) – 21 ter rue Voltaire, 75011 Paris. Phone: 06 61 33 48 22. E-mail: contact@ujfp.org. Website: www.ujfp.org

Following the Zionist entity’s attack against Lebanon in 2006 and more recently against the martyred people of Gaza, the CRIF can no longer hide its real nature. By the way, the UEJF, one of the associations who initiated legal proceedings against us, was leading the demonstrations supporting the IDF while it was committing atrocious crimes against children, women, poor and elderly – already exhausted from hunger and misery.

For any political leader to explicitly and cynically support a foreign power by accepting CRIF directives that are detrimental to the interests of his nation is not only morally reprehensible, it’s high treason.

Israel is more than a morally illegitimate state; it’s the fruit of an abject colonialism under the guise of an heroic and romantic epic, cleared by the myth of the wandering people, oppressed for more than 2,000 years. Oppressed yes, wandering no!

In addition their oppressors have always been Europeans; never in the territory of Islam did Jews experience pogroms or mass crimes. On the contrary, each time Jewish communities were oppressed they always found shelter in the territory of Islam.

However, Zionist propaganda takes effect insidiously and stirs up anti-Muslim racism. The CRIF has several masks; a public one that allows this organization to maintain the illusion of inclusiveness within inter-faith and inter-community dialogues; and a more hideous, insidious one serving dark schemes that seed hate and fear between communities and try to muzzle any criticism of Zionism and Israel.

The story of the “wandering People” is just an historic myth serving an ideology, a biblical alteration, a mythology that justifies the application of so-called “divine right” that supersedes even international right. We can’t fix an injustice by creating a greater one. This is however the role these self-proclaimed organizations are limited to; monopolizing noble causes like the fight against racism, while diverting them from their original goal in order to benefit the Zionist ideology.

These details about the CRIF are important since they help us understand the abject methods this multifaceted organization uses in serving one single goal: to defend Israeli policy at all cost. It uses front agencies like UEJF in order to maintain its status as an honorable organization. By the way, Marc Knobel, President of the J’Accuse organisation, and co-plaintiff, is one of its active members.

*Honoré de Balzac
**Jean de la Fontaine
Traduit par
http://www.sott.net/