Denying the Israeli past

3 June 2002

Ethnic cleansing attended the birth of Israel but, more than 50 years later, the country is still in denial about its bloody past. Those who speak out risk their jobs.

Behind the turbulent news from Israel, a struggle for historical truth has passed almost unnoticed outside academic circles; yet its wider significance is epic. In May 1948, more than 200 Palestinians were killed by the advancing Jewish militia in the coastal village of Tantura, south of Haifa. According to the recorded testimony of 40 witnesses, both Arab and Jewish, half the civilians were shot in a “rampage”. The rest were marched to the beach, where the men were separated from the women and children. They were taken to a wall near the mosque where they were shot in the back of the head.

The “cleansing” of Tantura (a term used at the time) was a well-kept secret. When they were interviewed four years ago, several Palestinian witnesses said they feared for their lives if they spoke out. One survivor, who as a child witnessed the murder of his entire family in Tantura, said to the interviewer: “But believe me, one should not mention these things. I do not want them to take revenge against us. You are going to cause us trouble . . .”

Trouble indeed. The researcher, a student called Teddy Katz, has had his masters degree annulled by Haifa University, even though he was awarded a top grade by the Middle Eastern department. When his research was revealed in the Israeli press, Jewish veterans of the attack on Tantura sued him for libel, and several Jewish witnesses recanted.

Katz had breached the taboo of the ethnic cleansing that gave birth to Israel and which the Palestinians mourn as Nakba – the catastrophe.

Without waiting for the case to come to court, the university struck Katz’s name from its honour roll. Whispered to be a traitor, and under pressure from his family and friends, Katz, a devout Zionist who lived on a kibbutz, apologised. Twelve hours later, he retracted his apology.

Professor Ilan Pappe is one of the few to have read all the transcripts of more than 60 hours of Katz’s taping of eyewitness evidence. “They include,” he wrote, “horrific descriptions of executions, of the killing of fathers in front of children, of rape and torture.” He describes Katz’s thesis “as a solid and convincing piece of work whose essential validity is in no way marred by its shortcomings”. The shortcomings, he says, come down to four minor mistakes. But the importance of the Katz research is its illumination of Israel’s history in terms of “the expulsion, direct and indirect, of some 750,000 Palestinians, the systematic destruction of more than 400 villages and scores of urban neighbourhoods, as well as the perpetration of some 40 massacres of unarmed Palestinians.”

Although other prominent scholars supported Katz, a silence and hostility familiar to those who break academic and political ranks in Israel descended on the case. Since the election of Ariel Sharon last year, this hostility is such that not even national heroes are forgiven. Last month, Yaffa Yarkoni, “Israel’s Vera Lynn”, whose emotional, wistful songs have celebrated Zionist triumphalism from 1948 to the present day, lost her huge popularity overnight when she remarked that Israeli soldiers ought not to be writing numbers on the arms of Palestinians. “Isn’t that what the Germans did?” she asked. One newspaper headline called her an “enemy of the people”; an editor said she “has joined the new anti-Semites in Europe”.

In challenging the Zionist version of Israel’s past, Ilan Pappe is one of Israel’s “new historians”, a distinguished and courageous critic. He has likened the Israeli state to apartheid South Africa, with its Palestinian “bantustans” and plethora of humiliating controls which now restrict the movement of people within their own communities. He says that Sharon’s goal is to begin the mass expulsion of Palestinians across the Jordan; only a pretext is required. According to one poll, 44 per cent of Israelis support this latest “cleansing”, known as “transfer”, another euphemism from the past. In 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, wrote, “We have accomplished our settlement by transfer of the [Palestinian] population.”

Not quite. The notion of a “final transfer” is supported by a number of cabinet members in the ruling Likud government, by leading Labour Party members and professors and media commentators. “Very few now dare to condemn it,” says Pappe. “A circle has been closed. When Israel took over almost 80 per cent of Palestine in 1948, it did so through settlement and ethnic cleansing. The country has a prime minister who enjoys wide public support and who wants to determine by force the future of the remaining 20 per cent.”

Now it might be Professor Pappe’s turn to be expelled from Haifa University. In an open letter circulated two weeks ago, he writes that the dean of the humanities department has demanded his expulsion for criticising the university over the Katz case. This runs deeper; Pappe has been a consistent opponent of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine. He describes the university “court” that threatens to punish him as a “McCarthyite charade”. He has called upon “universities worldwide to debate a boycott of Israeli institutions, given their contempt for basic principles of academic freedom and dispassionate research”. He says that only international shaming, free of the intimidation that equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, will break the silence about “horrific deeds in 1948, and so prevent their repetition”.

Others in Israel, as courageous as Ilan Pappe, are also under pressure, both crude and insidious. In Ha’eretz, Israel’s equivalent of the Guardian, two outstanding journalists, Amira Hass and Gideon Levy, have consistently reported the unpopular truth about Israel’s occupation of the remaining 22 per cent of the Palestine it conquered in 1967. They live daily with threats and hate mail. Upholding the bravest traditions of Jewish humanity, they need international solidarity.

— source johnpilger.com

Boycott Hyundai to end its complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).

BDS48 is launching this boycott campaign at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab, on 18 January 2017, and in Qalansawa, further north, on 10 January 2017. According to Arabic media reports, the Israeli authorities are planning a second wave of home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran in the coming few days.

Despite being faced with documented evidence of its persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967, Hyundai has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In Umm al-Hiran, Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes in the village, forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, injuring tens of peaceful protestors, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood. The objective of this bloody conquest is to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s lands.

This latest crime by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid comes as part of its ongoing policy of gradual ethnic cleansing since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. Israel today has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.

Inspired by the massive global solidarity movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa, and stemming from the moral responsibility that falls on the shoulders of citizens and institutions everywhere to end any involvement in human rights violations, we, as Palestinian human rights defenders in Israel, call on:

People of conscience around the world to boycott Hyundai products;
Institutions, investment funds and churches to divest from Hyundai and local councils to exclude the company from public tenders;
Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights. Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law.

The achievements and impact of the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights have grown immensely in recent years, to the extent that Israel has recognized the movement’s “strategic” impact. BDS is today an essential pillar of the nonviolent Palestinian popular struggle for our inalienable rights under international law, most importantly the right to self-determination and the right of our refugees to return to their homes of origin.

Through this campaign to boycott Hyundai and your effective participation in it, we can pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights, just as several multinational giants were compelled by effective BDS campaigns to exit the Israeli market.

Veolia was the first to end its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations in 2015, followed by Orange telecommunication, CRH, and most recently G4S, the largest security company in the world, which sold almost all its illegal business in Israel.

Our people have decided to besiege our siege. Our campaign against Hyundai is part of this nonviolent human rights movement that has proven itself to be strategic and effective in isolating Israel’s regime of oppression academically, culturally and economically in order to exercise and protect our right as a people to live on our land in freedom, justice and dignity.

— source bdsmovement.net

Palestinians call for boycott of Hyundai

Israeli authorities use a Hyundai bulldozer to destroy the home of a Palestinian citizen of Israel in the town of Lydd, 10 February 2015. The house was built with donations from relatives and neighbors, to help a single mother and her four children. It was built on family-owned land, but without a permit that is extremely difficult to obtain due to Israel’s discriminatory policies. Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Hyundai over the company’s failure to stop its construction equipment being used by Israel to destroy their homes and communities.

“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev),” says an action alert released on Tuesday.

The alert calls on people around the world “to boycott Hyundai products” and urges institutions, including investment funds and churches, to divest from Hyundai shares.

Municipal bodies should exclude Hyundai from public tenders, the action alert states.
Complicity in ethnic cleansing

While Israel’s abuse of the South Korean company’s products has been documented for years, BDS48 says the campaign comes “at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions” of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the southern Naqab region, and in the town of Qalansawa further north, last month.

Another wave of demolitions in Umm al-Hiran is expected imminently, part of Israel’s plan to destroy the community and replace it with a town for Jews, to be called “Hiran.”

In December, Israel also used Hyundai equipment to demolish a home in the occupied Golan Heights.

The BDS48 action alert, which was disseminated by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), notes that Hyundai has been presented with evidence of its “persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967.”

But the company “has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement,” the alert states.

Hyundai “has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” – standards that are supposed to promote sustainable development and halt corporate complicity in state abuses.
Tarnished brand

Until the early 2000s, Hyundai was a single group encompassing such activities as vehicle production, shipbuilding, construction, steel, finance, retail, aerospace and defense.

It was broken up into five major companies, including Hyundai Heavy Industries, which makes ships and construction equipment, and Hyundai Motor Group.

But all the companies continue to be controlled by a few members of the founding Chung family as part of a complex web of entities.

All the spin-offs trade on the goodwill of the famous Hyundai name, a brand that risks being tarnished by association with Israel’s crimes.

Consumers around the world would be most familiar with cars made by Hyundai Motor Group and its affiliate Kia.

In recent years, Hyundai has shot into the world’s top five automakers.

It is a popular brand in Middle East countries, with Saudi Arabia accounting for more than 40 percent of its regional sales.

In 2016, Hyundai saw its first dip in auto sales in almost two decades. Its workers have also staged widespread strikes over wages.

The BDS48 action alert urges Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions “to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights.”

“Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law,” it states.

— source electronicintifada.net

Israel demolishes every home in West Bank Bedouin village

Israeli forces have demolished every home in the Bedouin village of Khirbet Taha in the northern West Bank district of Nablus during three separate demolitions since the start of the year.

Unlike most Bedouin villages, the residents in Khirbet Taha own their own land. However that land falls in Area C, territory in the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control.

The village’s only school was also destroyed, leaving children to study in a dilapidated 100-year-old mosque — the only structure left standing in the village.

According the United Nations, Israel has demolished half as many Palestinian buildings in the first few months of 2016, as they had in all of 2015. In February alone, the UN found that more Palestinians homes were destroyed than any other month since 2009, when the organization began its documentation.

— source mondoweiss.net By Sheren Khalel, Abed Al Qaisi

UN Head’s Resignation Over Israel Apartheid Report

Earlier today, Dr. Rima Khalaf, Director of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), resigned from her post following pressure from the US and Israel over a report issued this week by ESCWA documenting Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinian people and encouraging support for the grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom. Dr. Khalaf explained her decision stating: “I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report. The crimes that Israel continues to commit against the Palestinian people and in Lebanon amount to war crimes against humanity,” she said.

— source bdsmovement.net

UN Report Confirms Israel is an “Apartheid” State

This report examines, based on key instruments of international law, whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.

A history of war, annexation and expulsions, as well as a series of practices, has left the Palestinian people fragmented into four distinct population groups, three of them (citizens of Israel, residents of East Jerusalem and the populace under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza) living under direct Israeli rule and the remainder, refugees and involuntary exiles, living beyond. This fragmentation, coupled with the application of discrete bodies of law to those groups, lie at the heart of the apartheid regime. They serve to enfeeble opposition to it and to veil its very existence. This report concludes, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, and urges swift action to oppose and end it.

— source unescwa.org

Israeli Soldiers Destroy an Internationally-Funded Drinking Water Pipeline

Israeli military bulldozers destroyed, Monday, a drinking water pipeline that was funded by The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Central Plains of the occupied West Bank.

Mo’taz Bisharat, a Palestinian official in charge of Israeli colonies’ file at the Palestinian Authority in central West Bank, said many Israeli army jeeps and bulldozers invaded the area, during early morning hours, and destroyed a drinking water pipeline, providing water to Palestinian communities along the al-Hadeediyya and ar-Ras al-Ahmar areas.

— source imemc.org