What is BDS?

BDS stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (and not, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed, for “bigotry, dishonesty and shame”).

The BDS movement’s three aims are grounded in international law and fundamental rights.

It seeks to end the occupation and dismantle Israel’s illegal wall and settlements, demands full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and calls for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be upheld.
When did it start and why?

The BDS movement began when a coalition of 170 Palestinian civil society groups issued a call to “people of conscience” around the world on July 9, 2005.

Palestinians argue that a global citizens’ movement is necessary because – despite decades of “peace process” facade – political leaders have failed to end Israel’s settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid practices. In fact, they continue to enable them.

Therefore, only bottom-up pressure from ordinary people will force governments to end Israel’s impunity and help create a just peace based on freedom, justice and equality.
What has the BDS movement achieved?

In the decade since its launch, the BDS movement has gradually accumulated successes around the world, from US churches to UK campuses, Egyptian trade unions to the Bolivian government.

In the economic sphere, Veolia and G4S – multinational corporations involved in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – lost billions of dollars due to BDS campaigns and announced withdrawals from Israel. Foreign direct investment into Israel dropped 46 percent in 2014.

Tens of thousands of students globally have pushed forward the academic boycott, backed by figures such as Stephen Hawking, Angela Davis and Judith Butler. Meanwhile, the likes of author Alice Walker, ex-Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters and critically acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach have lent their support to the cultural boycott.

Importantly, the BDS movement has also been endorsed by anti-colonial Israelis and other Jewish groups, as well as Black Lives Matter.
Is BDS racist?

Some of Israel’s defenders claim that BDS is racist. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Far from targeting individuals on the grounds of ethnicity or nationality, BDS targets institutions on the grounds of complicity in human rights violations and explicitly opposes all forms of racism. That’s precisely why it seeks to end Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination and ethnic privilege.

In this sense, BDS is comparable with – and takes direct inspiration from – the historic anti-apartheid movement which helped to isolate South Africa globally and end white rule.
Who opposes BDS?

Since around 2010, Israel has stepped up its fight against BDS and so-called “de-legitimisation”. In 2011, the Knesset passed a draconian law against advocating boycotts within Israel. But internationally, this was counterproductive.

By mid-2015, panicky Israeli leaders were calling the non-violent movement a “strategic threat”. Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan was given the task of leading the counter-boycott effort, with an annual budget of $25m and supported by military intelligence agencies.

Erdan stresses the need for cooperation with a network of Zionist groups abroad, because ostensibly independent groups are more credible messengers in civil society. He explained: “It’s not necessarily good that the government is at the front of this battle.”

Because of this, Israeli embassies – many of which have dedicated anti-BDS staff – work closely with Israel lobby groups behind the scenes, as Al Jazeera’s investigation “The Lobby” shows. The investigation also confirms another official tactic: establishing front groups and bodies which appear to be grassroots but are actually “astroturf”.

Wealthy supporters of Israel such as Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban in the United States and Trevor Pears in the UK have pumped large sums of money into a plethora of anti-boycott initiatives. And increasingly, the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups team up to create global public-private partnerships against BDS.
What has the counter-BDS movement achieved?

Unable to win the argument politically, Israel and its allies are waging an aggressive “lawfare” campaign.

Thanks to friends in high places, they have had considerable success promoting laws to criminalise BDS, with about 20 US states considering anti-boycott bills. Another dimension has been prosecutions of activists, everywhere from Australia to France.

However, BDS continues to grow rapidly. Legal experts and the European Union have defended the right to boycott as a free speech issue. And several pro-Israel lawfare cases – for example in the UK where attempts to suppress BDS are also facing a legal challenge – have failed spectacularly.
What does the future hold?

Can a voluntary grassroots movement facing off against a well-funded, state-led, and elite-driven counterattack really hope to survive?

Expect to see the fight get even nastier with more lawsuits, McCarthyism, “black ops” and smear tactics, covert intelligence gathering and restrictions on BDS activists’ freedom of movement. As Amnesty International has noted with concern, there have even calls for “targeted civil eliminations”.

But Israel’s forte has always been the hard power of military coercion. Indeed, its diplomats appear unable to comprehend the BDS movement without comparing it with a war. It is clueless about how to deal with a non-hierarchical social movement waging a struggle on the terrain of moral persuasion.

As long as Israel flouts international law, no amount of money, repression or “Brand Israel” propaganda will stop the BDS movement continuing to grow and make crucial contributions to Palestinians’ struggle for justice.

— source aljazeera.com By Hilary Aked

U.N. Declares Israeli Settlements Illegal

Israeli officials are vowing to build thousands of new settlement homes on occupied Palestinian land, in defiance of a United Nations resolution passed Friday condemning such construction as a, quote, “flagrant violation under international law,” unquote. Jerusalem’s municipal government says it will approve construction of another 600 homes in Jewish-only settlements as part of a project to add another 5,600 housing units in the city’s east, which was captured by Israel in a 1967 war. The plans violate Security Council Resolution 2334, which was approved Friday on a 14-to-0 vote after the U.S. abstained, denying a veto sought by Israel and President-elect Donald Trump.

Yousef Munayyer talking:

It’s not exactly unusual. We have seen tremendous agreement in the international community on the illegality of the Israeli settlement enterprise. And there is a lot of international agreement, of course, that the Fourth Geneva Conventions apply to the territory that Israel occupied after 1967, which make the transfer of civilians into occupied territory illegal in international law. We have seen that fact affirmed in United Nations Security Council resolutions for years since 1967 under various American administrations that either voted for similar resolutions or abstained on similar resolutions. The only president since 1967 who, prior to this week, had not done something like that was actually Barack Obama.

when we say “in the last eight years,” that’s true, because that was Barack Obama’s two terms.

the only veto that President Obama had ever used in the United Nations Security Council was used to protect Israel from a resolution that was criticizing its settlement enterprise. So I think any objective comparative analysis of U.S. presidents since 1967 has to conclude that there has been no president that’s done more to protect Israel before the international community than Barack Obama. And, you know, when you consider the fact that Ronald Reagan allowed 21 different United Nations Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, including criticizing the bombings of Beirut and the siege of Beirut throughout the 1980s, and Barack Obama had various opportunities during the sieges of Gaza and the bombardments of Gaza that took place under his watch to do so and didn’t, you know, these accusations against President Obama somehow being uniquely anti-Israel really raise questions about whether or not those accusations are not about something else that is unique about President Obama.

What you’re seeing right now, and the reason why Samantha Power and the administration have felt the need to defend themselves by citing Ronald Reagan even though this has been long-standing U.S. policy, is because they’re being attacked by the right in an attempt right now—and we’re seeing Netanyahu do this, you know, in very hysterical fashion since the passing of this resolution—to intimidate any future American elected officials from even deviating the slightest bit from the every whim and demand of Israel’s right-wing government. And I think that is what you’re seeing take place today, not simply because they have an issue with the Obama administration, but because they have an issue with U.S. policy, and they don’t want to see the United States ever supporting the idea that there should be pressure on Israel for its illegal settlements.

A very large portion of the United Nations budget comes from the United States. Yeah, look, there is, as I said, an effort right now to really intimidate politicians in the United States from ever deviating from the Benjamin Netanyahu line.

The issue of settlements, you know, this is not controversial. There is an effort now to make this controversial, even though it’s very clear in international law and agreed on in the international community by everyone except for the Israeli right wing that settlements are illegal under international law and are an obstacle to, you know, the vision of an independent, contiguous Palestinian state, which is the stated policy of all of these governments. So, there’s a lot of theater going on now.

But I think, you know, the important thing about all of this, this resolution and so on, is not so much the language about settlements as much as the language about salvaging the two-state solution, the desperation that’s expressed in this text about the two-state solution dying. When you read that and you consider that the incoming administration, the Trump administration, takes a completely different view, takes the Benjamin Netanyahu view, opposes the idea of a Palestinian state, has appointed an ambassador to Israel that opposes the idea of a Palestinian state, supports settlements, literally.

As in he has dedicated his life’s work to funneling money to Israeli settlements through raising charitable contributions in the United States. Like Beit El, precisely. So, you know, you have an ambassador now to Israel that is incapable of delivering the message that settlements are an obstacle, because he, himself, has helped create those obstacles.

there’s something particularly fitting about putting a bankruptcy lawyer in charge of U.S. Middle East policy, isn’t there? You know, it’s very clear, from Donald Trump’s statements, from Donald Trump’s behavior, from the Donald Trump campaign’s effort to change the GOP platform to include the most anti-Palestinian language that we’ve ever seen in a national party platform, that this is an administration that is going to wholeheartedly embrace Israeli apartheid. They are going to give a green light to Israeli settlement expansion. They are going to, as the, you know, appointee for ambassador stated, move the embassy to Jerusalem.

there’s two things that are important to think about in terms of implications. There’s the reaction from the Arab and Muslim world. And there’s reason to think that there is going to be varied reactions in the Arab and Muslim world to that sort of move. But there’s also the very clear message that that sends about U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Jerusalem has always been treated as a separate entity, a separate issue, by U.S. policy. And U.S. policy since 1947 really has been that Jerusalem has a separate status, a unique status, that has to be resolved through negotiations by Israelis and Palestinians. That’s why there’s not even an American embassy in West Jerusalem, let alone East Jerusalem. So, if you have the move of an embassy to Jerusalem, what you are essentially saying is that, you know, bipartisan American policy, for decades, towards the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has just been thrown out the window. And I think, you know, the two-state solution, frankly, has long been dead. They’ve never had a ceremony to bury it. I think if they do move the embassy to Jerusalem, they can have that ceremony when they lay the cornerstone for the embassy in Jerusalem.

Even the slightest bit of criticism of Israeli policy has become a third rail issue in American domestic politics. And, you know, the last thing I would say about this is, you know, if the Israelis want to attach themselves here in the United States not just to the Republican Party, which has been happening for a number of years, but to the Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party, you know, that may be helpful for a couple of years. But in the long term, I think it’s going to send a very clear message to the American people about this notion of shared values between Israel and the United States being quite bogus and being something that most Americans, who believe in values that are not embodied by Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu, will ultimately reject.

Yousef Munayyer
executive director of US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

— source democracynow.org

The source of terror in Palestine

22 March 2004

No front pages in the west mourn victims of the enduring bloodbath in occupied Palestine, the equivalent of the Madrid horror week after week, month after month.

The current threat of attacks in countries whose governments have close alliances with Washington is the latest stage in a long struggle against the empires of the west, their rapacious crusades and domination. The motivation of those who plant bombs in railway carriages derives directly from this truth. What is different today is that the weak have learned how to attack the strong, and the western crusaders’ most recent colonial terrorism (as many as 55,000 Iraqis killed) exposes “us” to retaliation.

The source of much of this danger is Israel. A creation, then guardian of the west’s empire in the Middle East, the Zionist state remains the cause of more regional grievance and sheer terror than all the Muslim states combined. Read the melancholy Palestinian Monitor on the internet; it chronicles the equivalent of Madrid’s horror week after week, month after month, in occupied Palestine. No front pages in the west acknowledge this enduring bloodbath, let alone mourn its victims. Moreover, the Israeli army, a terrorist organisation by any reasonable measure, is protected and rewarded in the west.

In its current human rights report, the Foreign Office criticises Israel for its “worrying disregard for human rights” and “the impact that the continuing Israeli occupation and the associated military occupations have had on the lives of ordinary Palestinians”.

Yet the Blair government has secretly authorised the sale of vast quantities of arms and terror equipment to Israel. These include leg-irons, electric shock belts and chemical and biological agents. No matter that Israel has defied more United Nations resolutions than any other state since the founding of the world body. Last October, the UN General Assembly voted by 144 to four to condemn the wall that Israel has cut through the heart of the West Bank, annexing the best agricultural land, including the aquifer system that provides most of the Palestinians’ water. Israel, as usual, ignored the world.

Israel is the guard dog of America’s plans for the Middle East. The former CIA analysts Kathleen and Bill Christison have described how “two strains of Jewish and Christian fundamentalism have dovetailed into an agenda for a vast imperial project to restructure the Middle East, all further reinforced by the happy coincidence of great oil resources up for grabs and a president and vice-president heavily invested in oil”.

The “neoconservatives” who run the Bush regime all have close ties with the Likud government in Tel Aviv and the Zionist lobby groups in Washington. In 1997, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa) declared: “Jinsa has been working closely with Iraqi National Council leader Dr Ahmad Chalabi to promote Saddam Hussein’s removal from office . . .” Chalabi is the CIA-backed stooge and convicted embezzler at present organising the next “democratic” government in Baghdad.

Until recently, a group of Zionists ran their own intelligence service inside the Pentagon. This was known as the Office of Special Plans, and was overseen by Douglas Feith, an under-secretary of defence, extreme Zionist and opponent of any negotiated peace with the Palestinians. It was the Office of Special Plans that supplied Downing Street with much of its scuttlebutt about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction; more often than not, the original source was Israel.

Israel can also claim responsibility for the law passed by Congress that imposes sanctions on Syria and in effect threatens it with the same fate as Iraq unless it agrees to the demands of Tel Aviv. Israel is the guiding hand behind Bush’s bellicose campaign against the “nuclear threat” posed by Iran. Today, in occupied Iraq, Israeli special forces are teaching the Americans how to “wall in” a hostile population, in the same way that Israel has walled in the Palestinians in pursuit of the Zionist dream of an apartheid state. The author David Hirst describes the “Israelisation of US foreign policy” as being “now operational as well as ideological”.

In understanding Israel’s enduring colonial role in the Middle East, it is too simple to see the outrages of Ariel Sharon as an aberrant version of a democracy that lost its way. The myths that abound in middle-class Jewish homes in Britain about Israel’s heroic, noble birth have long been reinforced by a “liberal” or “left-wing” Zionism as virulent and essentially destructive as the Likud strain.

In recent years, the truth has come from Israel’s own “new historians”, who have revealed that the Zionist “idealists” of 1948 had no intention of treating justly or even humanely the Palestinians, who instead were systematically and often murderously driven from their homes. The most courageous of these historians is Ilan Pappe, an Israeli-born professor at Haifa University, who, with the publication of each of his ground-breaking books, has been both acclaimed and smeared. The latest is A History of Modern Palestine, in which he documents the expulsion of Palestinians as an orchestrated crime of ethnic cleansing that tore apart Jews and Arabs coexisting peacefully. As for the modern “peace process”, he describes the Oslo Accords of 1993 as a plan by liberal Zionists in the Israeli Labour Party to corral Palestinians in South African-style bantustans. That they were aided by a desperate Palestinian leadership made the “peace” and its “failure” (blamed on the Palestinians) no less counterfeit. During the years of negotiation and raised hopes, governments in Tel Aviv secretly doubled the number of illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, intensified the military occupation and completed the fragmentation of the 22 per cent of historic Palestine that the Palestine Liberation Organisation had agreed to accept in return for recognising the state of Israel.

Along with the late Edward Said, Ilan Pappe is the most eloquent writer of Palestinian history. He is also one of the most scholarly. This combination has brought him many admirers, but also enemies among Israel’s academic liberal mythologists in Britain, one of whom, Stephen Howe, was given the Pappe book to review in the New Statesman of 8 March. Howe often appears in these pages; his style is to damn with faint praise and to set carefully the limits of debate about empire, be it Irish history, the Middle East or the “war on terror”. In Pappe’s case, what the reader doesn’t know is Howe’s personal link to the Israeli establishment; and what Howe does not say in his review is that here for the first time is a textbook on Palestine that narrates the real story as it happened: a non-Zionist version of Zionism.

He accuses Pappe of “factual mistakes”, but gives no evidence, then denigrates the book by dismissing it as a footnote to another book by the Israeli historian Benny Morris, who has long atoned for his own revisionist work. To its credit, Cambridge University Press has published Pappe’s pioneering and highly accessible work as an authoritative history. This means that the “debate” over Israel’s origins is ending, regardless of what the empire’s apologists say.

— source johnpilger.com

35 Palestinian children were killed by IOF in 2016

The Defense for Children International (DCI) – Palestine Branch said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed 35 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem in 2016.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program Director at the Palestine section of the DCI, told the Quds Press news agency that 2016 recorded the highest number of murders committed by the IOF against Palestinian children in the West Bank and Jerusalem in 12 years, pointing out that the number of children killed in 2015 in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem had reached 26.

— source english.palinfo.com