How Netanyahu’s dirty tricks squad targets boycotts

Why is Israel so fearful? Transport minister Yisrael Katz threatened BDS leaders last year with “civil targeted assassination”. What did he mean?

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Gilad Erdan

Yoram Dinstein, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, led the local chapter of Amnesty International, the world’s most influential rights organization of the time, running it effectively as a wing of Israel’s foreign ministry.

 Mr Dinstein’s interference allowed Israel to falsely characterize the occupation as benevolent while presenting the Palestinians’ liberation struggle as terrorism. The reality of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians rarely reached outsiders.

Israel’s task is harder five decades on. The human rights community is more independent, while social media and mobile phone cameras have allowed Palestinians and their supporters to bypass the gatekeepers.

thenational.ae April 4, 2017

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed cohorts of Israel loyalists in the United States by video link last week at the annual conference of Aipac, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

They should, he said, follow his government’s example and defend Israel on the “moral battlefield” against the growing threat of the international boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

In Mr Netanyahu’s simple-minded language, support for Palestinian rights, and opposition to the settlements, is equivalent to “delegitimisation” of Israel.

 The current obsession with BDS reflects a changing political environment for Israel.

According to an investigation by the Haaretz newspaper last month, Israeli agents subverted the human rights community in the 1970s and 1980s. Their job was to launder Israel’s image abroad.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed cohorts of Israel loyalists in the United States by video link last week at the annual conference of Aipac, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

They should, he said, follow his government’s example and defend Israel on the “moral battlefield” against the growing threat of the international boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

In Mr Netanyahu’s simple-minded language, support for Palestinian rights, and opposition to the settlements, is equivalent to “delegitimisation” of Israel.

IDF soldiers with the boy Photo: B’Tselem

 In the past few days, videos have shown an Israeli policeman savagely beating a Palestinian lorry driver, and soldiers taking hostage a terrified eight-year-old after he crossed their path while searching for a toy.

If concealment at source is no longer so easy, the battle must be taken to those who disseminate this damning information. The urgency has grown as artists refuse to visit, universities sever ties, churches pull their investments and companies back out of deals.

 Israel is already sealing itself off from outside scrutiny as best it can. Last month it passed a law denying entry into Israel or the occupied territories to those who support BDS or “delegitimise” Israel.

But domestic critics have proved trickier. The Israel government has chipped away at the human rights community’s financial base. Media regulation has intensified. And the culture ministry is cracking down on film productions that criticise the occupation or government policy.
 But the local boycott movement is feeling the brunt of the assault.

Activists already risk punitive damages if they call for a boycott of the settlements. Transport minister Yisrael Katz threatened BDS leaders last year with “civil targeted assassination”. What did he mean?

Omar Barghouti, the movement’s Palestinian figurehead, was arrested last month, accused of tax evasion. He is already under a travel ban, preventing him from receiving an international peace award this month. And Israeli officials want to strip him of his not-so “permanent” residency.

 At the same time, a leading Israeli rights activist, Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was detained by police on suspicion of promoting BDS while leading activists on a tour of an illegal settlement.

These are the first signs of the repression to come. The police minister, Gilad Erdan, has announced plans for a database of Israelis who support BDS, to mirror existing spying operations on BDS activists overseas.

The information will help a “dirty tricks” unit whose job is to tarnish their reputations. Mr Erdan also wants a blacklist of companies and organisations that support boycotts. A law passed in February already shames the few companies prepared to deny services to the settlements, forcing them publicly to “out” themselves.

 Why is Israel so fearful? Officials say the immediate danger is Europe’s labeling of settlement products, the first step on a slippery slope they fear could lead to Israel being called an apartheid state.

That would shift the debate from popular boycotts and divestment by civil society groups to pressure for action by governments – or sanctions.

The inexorable trend was illustrated last month when a United Nations commission found Israel guilty of breaching the international convention on the crime of apartheid.

Washington forced the UN secretary-general to repudiate the report, but the comparison is not going away.

 Israel supporters in the United States have taken Mr Netanyahu’s message to heart.

Last week they unveiled an online “boycotters map”, identifying academics who support BDS – both to prevent them entering Israel and presumably to damage their careers.

For the moment, the Israeli-engineered backlash is working. Western governments are characterizing support for a boycott, even of the settlements, as anti-Semitic – driven by hatred of Jews rather than opposition to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

­Anti-BDS legislation has passed in France, Britain, Switzerland, Canada and the US.

This is precisely how Mr Netanyahu wants to shape the “moral battlefield”. A reign of terror against free speech and political activism abroad and at home, leaving Israel free to crush the Palestinians.

On paper, it may sound workable. But Israel will soon have to accept that the apartheid genie is out of the bottle – and it cannot be put back.

Ambassador Nikki Haley vows to help Israel Eliminate BDS

“We are all here to say we cannot, we will not be silent.”

Ambassador Danny Danon and Ambassador Nikki Haley. Do Zionists even realize they are not ‘hidden’ anymore? They’re only appeal is to other devils.

March 29, 2017

NEW YORK – US Ambassador to the UN  Nimrata Randhawa aka Nikki Haley received a standing ovation at the General Assembly Hall on Wednesday as she vowed to fight alongside Israel against the BDS movement.

The Israeli Mission hosted its second annual summit against the boycott movement at the UN headquarters on Wednesday, titled “Ambassadors against BDS.” The first such event was held in May last year with some 1,500 people in attendance, making it the largest anti-BDS gathering to date.

“Know that the United States has Israel’s back, and know that you now have a fighter and a friend in the UN to help you,” Haley told the audience of more than 2,000 pro-Israel activists, students and representatives of Jewish organizations.

“We should boycott North Korea, we should sanction Iran, we should divest from Syria, not Israel,” she said. “It makes absolutely no sense and it has no connection to any reasonable definition of justice.”

Haley sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on January 25, 2017

Haley, who in her former position as governor of South Carolina was the first in the US to sign anti-BDS legislation, said she felt “privileged” to do so in 2015.

“In our state we said we will not use taxpayers’ funds to do business with any company that discriminates on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or national origin,” said Haley, who was introduced to the podium as “a born leader.” “And make no mistake, that is exactly what the BDS movement does.”

On November 23, 2016 President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Haley for Ambassador to the United Nations. On January 20, 2017, President Donald Trump

“What a tragic irony that today I am once again engaged in a fight against those who seek to harm Israel, but this time as the US ambassador to the United Nations,” she said.

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Antisemitism? Terrorism?

Israel’s permanent representative to the international body, Danny Danon, thanked Haley for recognizing the dangers of BDS and also being the first US governor to sign legislation against the movement.

 

 

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US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley receives wide applause as she arrives to speak at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, DC, March 27, 2017 (AIPAC )

 “By associating  these vile acts with legitimate political movements, we run the risk of legitimizing the illegitimate,” Danon said. “Those who topple Jewish tombstones in the dark of night and those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish state are are not members of any political group.” [19-year-old suspect is a dual American-Israeli citizen was arrested Thursday in connection with a series of bomb threats that have rattled Jewish institutions and community centers across the United States and other countries, and this is an old trick cnn ]

Danon said despite many victories against those delegitimizing Israel, such as the recent resignation of UN undersecretary- general Rima Khalaf, “we cannot rely on our accomplishments of the past.

“We cannot rest for even a moment,” he said. “The BDS movement is still active and still strong. The real danger of BDS is not in their numbers, it is in their ability to cower us into silence.

Poor little defenseless Israel

“Silence is weakness, silence is defeat,” Danon said. “We are all here to say we cannot, we will not, be silent.”

The event was organized in a partnership by Israel’s Mission to the UN, the World Jewish Congress and other pro-Israel organizations, including the American Center for Law & Justice, Zionist Organization of America, Israel Bonds, Stand- WithUs, CAMERA, B’nai B’rith International, the Israeli-American Council, the Maccabee Task Force, Hillel International, Students Supporting Israel, Hasbara Fellowships, the Jewish Agency, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Zionist Movement.l BDS activists’ actions as political debate, the movement is “pure antisemitism.”

 

 

 

Angela Davis: When the revolutionary time comes I want to be prepared

The moral balance has shifted against Israel because, whatever effective arguments there might be for maintaining the occupation, the actions of Israelis on the state’s behalf have been blatantly immoral — and most of the world today shares that assessment. The emergence of Israeli human rights groups, like B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, and Machsom [Checkpoint] Watch, was not in response to one or two isolated incidents, but to pervasive dreadful actions by Israelis against the Palestinians.

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“Palestinians have taught us longevity in struggle,” she told a diverse audience of roughly 200 students, as she reflected on the history of the struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which enters its 69 year anniversary in 2017.

As the BDS movement continues to grow, Palestinians and their allies have seen increased repression. Recently, a United Nations Social Commission for West Asia report that declared Israel an apartheid state was met with derision and demands for the UN to retract it. The UN did.

Rasmea Odeh, a 69-year-old Palestinian feminist and activist, pleaded guilty to unlawful procurement of naturalization, which led to her loss of her US citizenship and deportation in a plea bargain that keeps her from spending 18 months in prison.

Angela Davis: ‘This is the South Africa moment for the Palestinian people’

28 March 2017

Excerpt:

Davis pointed to recent moves such as the controversial travel ban on BDS activists from entering Israel, which mirrors similar attempted bans on immigrants and refugees from six predominately Muslim nations introduced by the Trump administration. She touched on other controversial issues like police violence, mass incarceration and water rights in disenfranchised communities in the US and occupied Palestine.*

Israeli authorities are currently interrogating Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement, after arresting him for tax evasion.

Andrew Kadi, an organizer who has been working on BDS and other pro-Palestinian causes for years, and was on the steering committee of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told MEE that these developments were all part of an arch of turning points for the global movement for Palestinian human rights.

The more people learn about issues in Palestine, the more they understand the similarities between struggles there and in the US

– Andrew Kadi, organiser

“A lot of these moments are milestones. There are multiple turning points,” he said in an interview.

After the Israeli military offensives on Gaza in 2008 and 2012, the far-left came to realise the need for stronger support of Palestinian movements. After events like the 2014 war on Gaza and the 2016 campaign of Bernie Sanders, who openly spoke about Palestinian human rights, the issue has now become central to mainstream progressives in the US.

Kadi pointed to the same intersectional issues of solidarity – water rights, police violence – as being a driving force behind this acceptance.

“The more people learn about issues in Palestine, the more they understand the similarities between struggles there and in the US,” he said.

Davis said she also believed it was a turning point for the global pro-Palestinian movement. “Sometimes circumstances beyond our control emerge,” she said, adding that it was important for social movements to be constantly organizing.

“When that happens, when the revolutionary time comes, I want to be prepared.”

Landmark UN report backs Israel boycott

In the view of Palestinians (and myself), the state of Israel has never possessed legitimacy, not by international standards, as it was founded on expulsion, land-theft and military occupation. The BDS movement approaches this abstract issue by offering practicable action for citizens in the West, while the official international community dithers away the decades, leaving Palestinians worse off than ever before.

“International Law is antisemitic!”

Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon issued a statement condemning the report late on Wednesday.
“The attempt to smear and falsely label “the only true democracy in the Middle East” by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” he said.

It’s important to note about Israel is that where there is smoke, there is fire. If Israel labels someone an enemy of the state, it doesn’t matter whether they are a political activist or a terrorist–they are in imminent danger.

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NY Gov Andrew Cuomo: “I am signing an Executive Order that says very clearly we are against the BDS movement. If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.”

Constant exposure and a persistent and increasingly popular BDS puts the US political puppets in a conspicuous position as ‘ friends of Israel’ when colluding with Israel to fight citizens against a legitimized boycott movement.

Indeed, recognition, justice and equality for Palestinians spells ‘terrorism’ [it ruins everything] for the Zionist agenda as such:

“All they want is a central organization for their international world swindler, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.” –Adolf Hitler-didn’t lie about everything! The proof is in the pudding.

Ending a “criminal enterprise”

Governments have a legal obligation to act immediately to end the crime of apartheid. This includes refusing to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful, refusing to aid a state in maintaining such a regime and cooperating with UN bodies and other states to end it.

The report urges UN bodies to act, and even suggests seeking a formal opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel’s apartheid system. National governments should also back BDS and allow “criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials demonstrably connected with the practices of apartheid.”

But given that states and official bodies are not likely to take the lead, the report recognizes that “civil society institutions and individuals have a moral duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise.”

They must use these tools to “exert pressure on Israel to dismantle apartheid structures and negotiate in good faith for a lasting peace that acknowledges the rights of Palestinians under international law and makes it possible for the two peoples to live together on the basis of real equality.”

Transnational movement

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Gone are the days when no one sees what Israel is doing!

Recalling an earlier era, the report notes that research and legal analyses by UN bodies – such as the United Nations Center Against Apartheid – were critical resources for civil society activists in their efforts aimed at “legitimating boycott, divestments and sanctions, and contributing to the overall formation of a transnational movement against apartheid in South Africa.”

One of the report’s key aims today is to encourage “practical measures in accordance with international law to exert pressure on Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime.”

Efforts should be made to broaden support for boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives among civil society actors,” the report recommends.

Private sector firms should be “reminded of their legal, moral and political responsibility to sever ties with commercial ventures and projects that directly or indirectly aid and abet the apartheid regime.”

All of this confirms the reasoning and tactics of the Palestinian-led BDS movement – support for which even the staunchly pro-Israel European Union has belatedly recognized as a democratic right.

READ FULL ARTICLE

UNESCO must go one step further with a cultural boycott of Israel

A screen shot taken of Hamas's official website on August 21, 2016. The graphic shows the al Aqsa Mosque on fire due to a 1969 arson attack. The photo reads: "Our Aqsa, we shall not forget." (Courtesy: Hamas website.)

The al Aqsa Mosque on fire due to a 1969 Zionist arson attack

The UN’s record of standing up to Israel’s bully-boy tactics is littered with failure. Last month, however, that trend was bucked when UNESCO adopted two telling resolutions on Jerusalem. Not only did the organisation reject Israel’s claims of ownership within the occupied city, but, more importantly, it also reaffirmed that all attempts by the self-styled Jewish state to change the demographic and religious character of Jerusalem are illegal, null and void.

Naturally, it would take much more than a UNESCO resolution to deter the Israelis from their attempts to “Judaise” Jerusalem. Scores of similar resolutions have been passed before, all to no avail. Times have changed, though, and a growing number of member states are no longer prepared to be browbeaten into supporting illegal policies that usurp the rights of other people.

As expected, the Netanyahu government reacted to the UNESCO decision in the only way it knows how, with diplomatic tantrums, political threats and state violence. Incredibly, it produced, almost out of thin air, a “unique 2,700-year-old papyrus” which it claims is evidence of a connection between the city of Jerusalem and the period when the Kings of Israel were on their relatively unimportant throne.

This was taken immediately as a green light to intensify excavation activities beneath Al-Aqsa Mosque. Yisrael Hasson, Director of the Israeli Authority of Antiquities, announced that it has agreed with the government that it will become mandatory for every Israeli youth to take part in the excavation works.

In what can only be interpreted as retaliation for the UNESCO vote, Israel followed up by razing a number of Muslim graves in the historical Bab Al-Rahmeh Cemetery, east of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and hoisting the Israeli flag over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the occupied Old City. The latter was not only an act of defiance to UNESCO but also an insult to the Russian government, which voted in support of the resolutions; the Orthodox Church plays an important role in the administration of the historic site.

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Though depicted by Israel and its allies as “controversial” and “inflammable”, the UNESCO votes were by no means historical oddities. As far back as December 1930 an international commission appointed by the British government and approved by the Council of the League of Nations, and headed by Eliel Lofgren, a former Swedish minister of foreign affairs, ruled unanimously that:

  • “To the Muslims belong the sole ownership of, and the sole proprietary right to the western wall, as an integral part of al Haram Ash Sharif area.”
  • “To the Muslims also belongs the pavement in front of the wall and the adjacent Maghribi (Moroccan) Quarter opposite.”
  • “The Jews shall have free access to the wall for the purpose of devotion at all times” – subject to certain stipulations.

The circumstances which led to the 1930 commission were very similar to those that exist today. Back then, it was the Zionist claims to the Western Wall that led to the 1929 uprising in which more than 133 Jews and 116 Palestinians were killed. Indeed, in a letter dated 30 May 1918, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann wrote to Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, demanding:

the handing over of the Wailing Wall as the only one [holy place] which is… left to us… our most sacred monument, in our most sacred city, is in the hands of some Maghreb religious community…

The latest round of unrest in Jerusalem has come in the wake of heightened Israeli attempts to create new facts on the ground in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. Around 275 Palestinians have been killed by the occupation forces since October 2015. It was within this context that the UNESCO resolutions were drafted and voted on.

Although the UNESCO votes signal a welcome development, they do not go far enough to be regarded as a game changer. However, this is not a lost cause. The UNESCO resolutions can be given real teeth if the organisation goes one step further and calls for a cultural boycott of Israel in support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

This would isolate Israel, just as apartheid South Africa was banished from cultural and sporting activities around the world. The South African anti-Apartheid movement succeeded, in part, because it managed to develop a coalition of committed governments and people who were able to effect both domestic and international policy in institutions like the UN and its agencies.

Similarly, the BDS movement against Israeli apartheid must forge similar alliances and secure the support of governments in the global north and south. Some will, inevitably, be reluctant and even try to be obstructive (this has already been seen in Britain). In the long run, though, they will have to accept that the tide of history is moving towards the restoration of law and human rights for all of the people in and of Palestine.

European Parliamentary Members Call on EU in Support of Boycott Movement

News that a G4S employee was the gunman who killed 50 people at a packed gay nightclub in Florida wiped almost $282.80 million off the value of the world’s largest security firm.

July 22, 2016

More than 30 members of the European parliament have called on  EU High Representative Federica Mogherini to take measures assuring freedom of expression regarding the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for justice and equality and recognizing Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, as a human rights defender. Irish MEPs Martin Anderson and Nessa Childers are among the signatories.

While the signatories views on the BDS movement differ, they expressed concern regarding “growing attempts to silence and repress advocates of BDS” and called on the EU to “guarantee that it will not introduce measures aimed at limiting freedom of expression regarding the Middle East and BDS.”

Having failed to hinder the growing support and impact of the BDS movement in mainstream civil society, Israel has launched an unprecedented anti-democratic campaign to silence Palestinian narratives and outlaw BDS advocacy.

The Israeli-induced attacks on the BDS movement are, according to the PNN, advanced through putting pressure on governments, legislators and officials to fight BDS activity through implementing repressive measures that pose a threat to civil and political liberties at large.

The 32 signatory MEPs expressed concerns regarding Israel’s targeted attack on activists advocating for Palestinian rights through BDS and called on the EU to “recognise Omar Barghouti as a human rights defender and afford him and other Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders appropriate protection and assistance.”

Aneta Jerska, coordinator of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), said: “It is really empowering to see that a growing number of MEPs are taking a clear stance in defence of civil society actor’s right to advocate for BDS, as a matter of conscience, free speech and as a nonviolent means of political expression.”

Riya Hassan, Europe Campaigns Officer for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement, said:“This letter shows that support for the right of citizens and organisations to take part in the BDS movement continues to grow in Europe, just as it is growing across the world. There is mounting concern about the attacks on democracy that are taking place in order to help shield Israel from accountability and criticism.

“It is high time for the EU to listen to Palestinian and European civil society calls and bring an end to its complicity with Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. The EU must adhere to its own obligations and protect citizens freedom of expression, and political assembly, and assure the protection of Palestinian human right defenders.”

This letter echoes growing European political and civil society calls for protecting the freedom of expression of activists and organisations involved in BDS activity for Palestinian rights.

More than 350 European human rights organizations, trade unions, church groups and political parties, have called on the European Union to defend citizens and organisations right to boycott Israel in response to its occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.

Representatives of the Swedish, Irish and Dutch governments have publicly defended the right to advocate and campaign for Palestinian rights under international law through BDS.