Tag Archives: BDS

Palestinian Land Day, 2018

The United States government is consistent in very little, but in its opposition to Palestinian rights, there is no question: it opposes every possible move. Violent actions against the brutal, illegal Israel occupation are condemned as barbaric acts of terrorism, while horrific violence perpetrated by Israel is financed and supported. Peaceful actions, such as the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, are outlawed in the U.S. (although such laws have not as yet stood up to any court challenges, and are clearly unconstitutional).

So with that dismal record of lack of support for the basic human rights of the Palestinians, it is likely that the planned Land Day events, starting on March 30, will also be condemned.

Land Day commemorates one of Israel’s many slaughters of innocent people, this one on March 30, 1976, when the announced theft of Palestinian land was met with peaceful, unarmed opposition by Palestinians. Israelis, not knowing the mean of peace, killed six unarmed Palestinians. This year, on March 30, Palestinians in Gaza will begin a six-week long event, camping near the Israeli border, and demanding the right of return. Estimates indicate that as many as 100,000 Gazans may take part, and Israeli violence is expected.

What is it that Israel has to fear? According to international law, refugees driven from their homes have a right to return, and this right was promised the Palestinians decades ago. But the concern in Israel goes beyond that. Once again, Palestinians are using peaceful means of protest, when all Israel knows is violence. It is likely that there will be more killing of innocent Palestinians in the next six weeks, as Israel sees almost anything as ‘provocation’ and an ‘existential threat’. The very existence of Palestinians is seen as both. Imagine, now, how Israeli officials will view 100,000 Palestinians, peacefully camping at its always-fluid, ever-expanding borders.

For years, Israel controlled the narrative. It was the vulnerable nation, wanting nothing more than to live in peace and harmony, and needing to continually defend itself against violent Palestinians. Any concept of equal rights for Arabs living within its borders; the recognition of the violence perpetrated against Palestinians when Israel was established; the separate, and much harsher, laws for Palestinians living in Israel; the home demolitions, murders, kidnapping and other unspeakable violence committed by Israel against Palestinians were all swept under the rug.

With the rapid-fire growth of social media, when anyone with Internet access and a camera could have a worldwide audience, control of the narrative began to slip from Israel’s bloody grasp. Around the world, people saw innocent children slaughtered by Israel soldiers on a Gaza beach. United Nations emergency centers, bombed by Israel when filled with people fleeing Israeli violence, became common knowledge. The disproportionate death toll between Palestine and Israel shocked the world.

Although most governments ignored the slaughter, their citizens did not, and that is what most concerns Israel. Study after study indicates that younger Jews have less affiliation and loyalty to Israel, and younger non-Jews increasingly support Palestine. This means that the future leaders of the world will not accept apartheid in Israel. Perhaps this is the reason that Israel has increased settlement building; the government wants to steal as much land as possible, before there is a sea change in governments.

Evidence of this is already available. Right after U. S. President Donald Trump, one of the most dangerous and incompetent leaders the world has known in generations, announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a resolution condemning that action was brought to the United Nations Security Council. Only the U.S., with veto power, voted against it.  The General Assembly, however, a more democratic body than the Security Council, voted 128 to 9 to condemn the U.S. decision.

Just days ago, the United Nations said that Israel must pay for damages to seven United Nations facilities damaged in the genocidal slaughter of 2014. Israel, of course, says that Hamas was responsible for that damage, despite the lack of any evidence to support that bizarre claim. The fact that the U.N. investigated, and found Israel entirely responsible, is meaningless to Israel’s government. The U.N. is seeking about $600,000, a drop in the bucket of what the U.S. gives Israel annually. In fact, the U.S. provides more than that to Israel every hour.

Even more astonishing, the almost completely unified, bipartisan Congressional support for Israel is no longer accepted as fact. The cracks in that particular wall are small, but for decades it seemed impenetrable.

And now, tens of thousands of unarmed Palestinians are going to put themselves at risk, to demand their basic human rights.  The U.N. has already cautioned Israel about targeting civilians, especially children. But Israel has shown complete contempt for anything the United Nations says, so there is little reason to think it will heed this warning.

But what will be the result if Israel decides to take its default position, which is wholesale slaughter? The U.S. will defend it, of course, saying it has the right to defend its borders against people camping near them, on their own territory. But Israel, increasingly isolated in the world community, will find little support outside of Washington, D.C.

Israel and the U.S. are both currently led by militaristic, ego-centric men with little regard for international law of even common human decency. Both face severe challenges to their leadership, due to ongoing investigations of possible criminal activity. They will be united in condemning Land Day activities, and supporting whatever violent measures Israel uses in response. But they will stand alone on the international stage, when the audience is gone, having moved to a different theater, one where human rights have a starring role. There will be no place there for Israel or the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

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The First Amendment, BDS and Third Party Candidates

It seems sometimes that, like Alice, we have all tumbled down a rabbit hole and entered a bizarre new universe. However, Mr. Carroll could never have invented anything as peculiar as what is seen in United States politics and governance.

For reasons that only politicians and the lobbies who own them can completely understand, Israel, that brutal, apartheid nation, comes first and foremost in what passes for the minds of elected officials. It is reported that New Jersey is the latest in a string of states that is passing anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) laws. This, of course, will require endless hours of effort by some unfortunate bureaucrat to compile lists of organizations that support the boycott of Israel. Was it so long ago that other bureaucrats compiled lists of Communist ‘sympathizers’? We all know how well that turned out.

But anyway, why should politicians who bask in the largess of Israeli lobbies care about the First Amendment? That old thing! Let’s take a look at what is says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The Supreme Court over the years has expanded this to include states; it isn’t just Congress that is so forbidden. In 1982, in the case of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) vs. Clairborne Hardware Co., the Court found that “the nonviolent elements of a boycott are entitled to the protection of the First Amendment”.

Now, what might the governing bodies of New Jersey, New York and nine other states that have passed anti-BDS legislation learn from this? The purpose of the BDS movement, as indicated on its webpage, is clear: in 2005, “Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognized in full compliance with international law”. It would appear that all of these actions fall into the ‘non-violent’ category that the Supreme Court says is protected by the First Amendment.

During the long, drawn out, bitter campaign for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations, which was only a forerunner to what promises to be an unparalleled circus of a campaign between Tweedle-Dum (Republican Donald Trump) and Tweedle-Dee (Democrat Hillary Clinton), most of the candidates from both parties made the obligatory visit to the AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Political Affairs Committee) altar in Washington, D.C. in March of this year. There, they decried Palestinian resistance to the occupation, resistance that is sanctioned by the United Nations, and praised Israeli ‘restraint’, that only killed 500 innocent children in less than two months in the summer of 2014. They spoke of the strength of Israeli ‘democracy’, where there are separate laws for Jewish Israelis, and non-Jewish Israelis. They talked of Israel as the U.S.’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East, a friendship that the U.S. purchases with more foreign aid than is given to all other countries combined. Such groveling by men and women who would ‘lead’ the United States is nothing less than repulsive to watch.

Fortunately, the U.S. voter isn’t limited to the two representatives of the Republicratic Party. Choices abound, although the corporate-owned media (fascism, anyone?) would have us all believe otherwise. The candidacy of Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) has been mentioned by this writer previously, but is worth noting again, as she is one of the third-party candidates who does not feel compelled to kiss the unholy ring of Israel.

A few phrases from the PSL webpage are telling:

* The “campaign stands in full solidarity with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign…”

* “The BDS movement demands that Israel: End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Wall; recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.  It fights for an end to Israeli apartheid.”

We learn from this some important differences between Ms. La Riva and Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. First, unlike her rivals, Ms. La Riva respects human rights. Second, she recognizes and respects international law. She understands the role of boycotting in bringing about change. Unlike the Republican and Democratic candidates, she recognizes apartheid when she sees it. Finally, she supports worldwide efforts to bring justice to the Palestinians, after decades of oppression.

But Ms. La Riva doesn’t stop there; she fully exposes the elephant (or perhaps, the donkey) in the room:

“Both of the presumptive major capitalist party candidates, Trump and Clinton, have expressed full support for Israel, outrageously painting Israel as ‘victim’ and the Palestinians as ‘aggressor,’ in keeping with the Israeli narrative that is constantly regurgitated by the corporate media here.”

As Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi has said, “the Palestinians are the only people on earth required to guarantee the security of the occupier, while Israel is the only country that demands protection from its victims.” Ms. La Riva seems to recognize that odd fact, and is willing to do something about it.

It is unlikely that a third-party candidate will be victorious in the 2016 presidential election farce, where the major competitors are highly disliked by large swaths of the electorate, which will seek in vain to find the lesser of two evils. But this situation, where the 99% must choose between two members of the 1%, can begin to die this year, if increasing numbers of people decide to pull a lever for a candidate other than those of either the GOP or Democratic Party. If voters consider such things as human rights, international law, and justice, they will be unable to vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. There are excellent alternatives, and Ms. La Riva is one of them.

Originally published by Counterpunch.

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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Militarism, Palestine, Palestine, U.S., U.S. Politics

Efforts To Legislate BDS Out Of Existence Will Only Backfire

KITCHENER, Ontario — (Analysis) From September 2000 to February 2005, more than 3,200 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising. From June to October 2004 alone, Israeli forces launched major assaults in Northern Gaza, killing at least 150 Palestinians, injuring hundreds of others and leaving as many as 800 people homeless.

These assaults were the latest in decades of violence and oppression perpetrated by Israel that ultimately inspired the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Launched in July 2005 by a broad alliance of more than 170 Palestinian political parties, trade unions, refugee networks, NGOs and grassroots associations, the BDS movement aims to pressure Israel to end its apartheid regime and grant equal rights to Palestinians, with the ultimate goal of the establishment of a Palestinian state with the pre-1967 borders.

 Modeled after similar initiatives targeting Apartheid South Africa a generation prior, the movement is having an undeniable impact. Even the government led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a man guilty of the most heinous crimes, has defined BDS as an “existential threat” to Israel. (Other threats include the recent Iran nuclear deal, and, incredibly, a request by Palestine to FIFA, the world soccer association, to ban Israeli participation.)

The impacts of the BDS movement, once dismissed by Israel as little more than a college fad,  are now being taken seriously. The Israeli economy is expected to suffer a $15 billion loss because of the movement.

There is also a huge psychological impact, as academics, including physicist Stephen Hawking, performers, including Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Elvis Costello, and novelists such as Alice Walker, refuse to participate in any events in Israel. Additionally, Palestine has received the support of rock group Coldplay, and actresses Mia Farrow and Vanessa Redgrave, to name just a few.

Mr. Netanyahu decries all this as an effort to “delegitimize” Israel: “It is not connected to our actions; it is connected to our very existence. It does not matter what we do; it matters what we symbolize and what we are.”

He appears to be in denial, since the movement is, indeed, connected to Israeli actions — actions which are themselves causing Israel to be “delegitimized.”

Can BDS be legislated out of existence?

But when a popular people’s movement is having an impact, what is a cruel, barbaric Israeli leader to do? Well, since Congress is bought and paid for by Israeli lobbies, what better response for Israel than to instruct its congressional employees to outlaw it?

Israel has had some success in this new initiative. The recently-signed Trans-Pacific Partnership includes anti-BDS provisions, “which will discourage European governments from participating in BDS activities by leveraging the incentive of free trade with the United States.”

To say that is was not Israeli-inspired is to demonstrate a remarkable naivete.

Additionally, several states are considering, or have actually passed, anti-BDS legislation. And Israel’s anti-BDS efforts aren’t confined to the United States, its most favorite bottomless pit of money; the United Kingdom, too, has passed such legislation.

So, does this mean that the most effective, nonviolent means that people of conscience around the world have of supporting human rights and justice for the Palestinians will now cease? Will the countless university proposals to divest from Israel, along with the religious bodies which have made the same decision, be rendered null and void? Will the endorsement of BDS by various British unions now cause the union members to get in line with barbaric Zionism?

Hardly.

No such thing as bad publicity?

Let’s step back for just a moment and do what Israel has long refused to even consider: take a reality check. Far from than defeating the movement, this backlash against BDS is likely to propel it forward.

Jay Michaelson, writing about billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s university campus initiative to thwart BDS in The Forward in July, described why, as he put it, opposition to BDS will be a “boon” for the movement. This opposition, Mr. Michaelson argues, puts Jewish students and their non-Jewish peers in a “For Us or Against Us” scenario. Accepting the “For Us” position aligns students with “patriotism, nationalism, ethnocentrism and a refusal to admit ambiguity and nuance.” Further, he states that, from his own observations, the pro-Zionist movement presents a caricature of BDS supporters that no reasonable person could possibly accept.

Further, Mr. Michaelson suggests that this anti-BDS initiative completely misses the point. BDS isn’t growing because of anti-Semitism, he argues, it’s growing “because many people think it’s wrong for any state to deny 4 million people the right to vote, to determine their own future, and to live free of military occupation.”

So the anti-BDS initiative on college campuses doesn’t seem to have much promise for Israel. But what about the greater effort, the attempt to legislate BDS out of existence? Well, the news there isn’t too promising, either.

Laws to prevent BDS serve to publicize it, allowing more people to know of its existence. When President Barack Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, he endorsed the provisions protecting Israel from boycott, but also said he won’t observe the measures requirement to extend those same protections to what is generally called “Israeli-controlled territories” (read: Palestine). So the controversy over BDS, rather than being silenced by this measure, only increased.

And so it is with racist Zionists such as Mr. Adelson and Haim Saban: As they sink millions into efforts to defeat the BDS movement, their attempts merely serve to help to publicize it, along with Israeli crimes. Their goal of “demonizing the demonizer” fails, as people see that Israel, by its racist, apartheid policies, only indicts itself.

Some say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but this is far from the truth for Israel. As it publicizes BDS in an futile effort to thwart it, it only shines a spotlight on its own crimes and on Palestinian victimization. This inspires more people to shun Israel, support Palestine, and embrace BDS.

Francis Bacon said that “knowledge is power.” This notion appears to be confirmed, as Israel suffers from the BDS movement, a movement that exists and grows because of knowledge.

Originally published by MintPressNews.

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Filed under Apartheid, BDS, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Palestine, Palestine, U.S., U.S. Politics