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Juan Cole: Israel’s Netanyahu et al. Throw Trump-like Tantrums after UNSC Slam

Posted by uscsjp on December 31, 2016

PM Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and his cabinet ministers are trying to punch above their weight. He wants to punish the UN, and apparently even the United States. Netanyahu has forbidden Israeli officials to travel to 12 of the countries on the UN Security Council who voted last Friday to condemn Israeli squatter settlements in the Palestinian West Bank (including in East Jerusalem, which Israel illegally has tried to annex).

Netanyahu also summoned the ambassadors of these countries in Tel Aviv on Christmas Day, producing some irritation, according to the Guardian; one diplomat observed, “What would they have said in Jerusalem if we summoned the Israeli ambassador on Yom Kippur?”

This sort of temper tantrum reminds us of Donald J. Trump’s petulant twitter wars with his critics. It is for the benefit of the Israeli right wing, since none of the 12 countries really cares whether Likud Party officials visit them or not.

Netanyahu also seems to have threatened to withdraw from the United Nations. What is ironic is the effort the Israeli government has put in to combating the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel’s Apartheid policies toward the stateless Palestinians. IF the BDS supporters could get 12 countries to refuse to see the Israeli ambassador and could get the UN to kick Israel out, they would be ecstatic. Netanyahu is self-BDS-ing, via his tantrum.

Israel is a small country of 8 million people, only 6 million of them Jews, and its annual gross domestic product, at around $300 billion, is similar to that of Denmark and Ireland (both less populous countries, so Israel is poorer than they per capita). Nobody much really cares in world affairs if Denmark gets in a snit about something, though to be fair the Danes haven’t really gotten in many snits in recent centuries.

I suppose center-right Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen is capable of making noise about issues he cares about, but I haven’t ever even once seen him on American television.

One difference between Denmark and Israel is that the US Israel lobbies have extorted from the American people something on the order of $124 billion in aid for Israel, and President Barack Obama just authorized another $38 bn for Tel Aviv over the next ten years. Israel thus has an enormous military arsenal and a stockpile of several hundred nuclear warheads. The figures do not count all the indirect ways the US aids the Israeli economy. Although the Israel lobbies maintain that the US gets security help from Israel in the Middle East in return, actually Israel has sat out the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, the recent struggle against Daesh/ ISIL in Syria and Iraq, etc., etc. It is only fair to say that the US would not have wanted Israeli participation, because its reputation is so poisonous in the region that such participation would do more harm than good. But nevertheless, if Israel couldn’t help in any of these crises, it isn’t actually very useful. Worse, Israel’s often creepy policies against the stateless Palestinians cause security problems for the United States.

BBC Monitoring translated a broadcast of Chanel 2 TV in Hebrew, quoting the words of Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Yuval Steinitz (Likud). Steinitz fulminated, Trump-like, “This is not a resolution against the settlements.”

It was literally a resolution against the settlements!

Steinitz is making up his own false news. He then continued, “This is an anti-Israel resolution against Israel, the Jewish people, and the state of the Jews.”

The resolution isn’t anti-Israel, doesn’t mention anything about Jews, and doesn’t challenge the Jewish state. It just points out that Israelis are not at liberty to steal Palestinian land. The United Nations Charter forbids the acquisition of territory by military force, so Israel’s conquest of the Palestinian West Bank in 1967 is no warrant for it to colonize said territory or to expropriate and keep in a condition of statelessness the people who live there.

Steinitz then turned to the United States’ role, “The United States tonight simply abandoned its only friend and ally in the Middle East. This is no way to treat a friend. I do not think that Russia would abandon a friend in the Middle East this way.”

So Steinitz seems to be suggesting that Israel would be better off allying with Putin. If that’s how he feels, could he please give us our pledged $38 bn back? In fact, if he’d please just give us back all the money we’ve given the Israeli government on the false pretense that Israel makes America more secure in the Middle East, that would be a nice year-end bonus for American families.

Steinitz intimated that the US should not have allowed the resolution to pass because there are more urgent issues in the Middle East, which is “burning around us.” This argument is pure propaganda. That there is a civil war in Syria or an air war in Yemen does not have any impact on whether the Council should speak up about illegal Israeli actions against the Palestinians. The demand that Israel’s crimes be dealt with last after all other issues in the region is the definition of special pleading. Most of us learned in kindergarten that two wrongs do not make a right.

Steinitz’s proof that the settlement issue did not drive the resolution (against settlements!) is that the resolution affects Israeli land theft in annexed East Jerusalem. News flash: It is illegal to annex occupied territory or to flood your own citizens into such territories. Steinitz is demanding that the UN Security Council recognize an illegal act.

Steinitz owns a house. If he went on vacation and came back to find that strangers had moved into his house and were alleging that they were the real owners, he could go to the police and the courts in Israel and they would uphold his property rights. Palestinians living in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil (Hebron), however, don’t have the same deal. They see Israel bringing in tens of thousands of Israelis to live in their city, disadvantaging and stealing from Palestinian owners. When Palestinians complain, they are arrested and charged with terrorism.

He criticized President Obama: “The heart aches that after eight years of friendship and cooperation with the Obama Administration — a friendship that did see some disagreements over the Iranian issue and other issues — this is the parting shot; a painful, unpleasant, unfair one.”

So let’s see. Barack Obama sent George Mitchell out to negotiate between Netanyahu’s cabinet and the Palestine Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians asked for a settlement freeze, otherwise it would be like negotiating over a pie while the other person was eating it. Netanyahu got a settlement freeze, but then abruptly cancelled it in the fall just when the talks were getting started. The Palestinians rightly felt disrespected and the talks began collapsing. Netanyahu began announcing settlement expansion to coincide with the visit of high American officials, just to humiliate them. Later on in another round of talks, Secretary of State John Kerry was publicly insulted as “messianic” for trying to pursue the negotiations. In the end they collapsed. In the meantime, Netanyahu publicly humiliated President Obama on several occasions, lecturing him at a joint appearance at the White House, openly campaigning for Romney in 2012, and then trying to get Congress to derail Obama’s Iran negotiations. Netanyahu actually ran the last time on the issue of no Palestinian state, and has made it clear he wants to send hundreds of thousands more Israelis into the Palestinian West Bank, where they will steal Palestinian land.

Steinitz and his colleagues have been about the most unpleasant supposed allies the US could possibly suffer with. They successfully blunted Obama’s attempt at kick starting the peace process. They want annexation, Apartheid, and colonization. They are open about it.

Obama simply let the world body have a say on whether these crimes against humanity are acceptable. They are not.


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This Palestinian Writer’s Diary From Gaza Should Be Required Reading (Alternet)

Posted by uscsjp on July 12, 2016

“Individuals aren’t the targets, but residences, family houses. They’re bombed until there’s nothing left.”

Posted in Analysis, Culture, History | 1 Comment »

From AlterNet–“Extreme Takeover: Why Many Are Calling Israel’s New Government the ‘Most Racist’ in History”

Posted by uscsjp on May 26, 2016

Major establishment figures are warning of parallels to Nazi Germany as Netanyahu assembles far-right coalition.

By David Sheen / AlterNet

May 24, 2016


With the announcement that hard-right Avigdor Lieberman would soon use his powerful position as Minister of Defense in the Israeli cabinet to advance additional anti-democratic legislation, members of the old Israeli political establishment could scarcely contain their apprehension. “Lieberman is the new Kahane,” read the title of an op-ed by a former two-time Israeli minister, a reference to the founding father of Israel’s first fascist party.

Israel is not a democracy anymore,” lamented the former Speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, at a huge protest in Tel Aviv, the heart of the Israeli left. At the same mass rally, a liberal lawmaker called the coalition the “most racist government in Israel’s history” and assailed the leader of the centrist Labor Party for his willingness to work in partnership with Netanyahu. About 15,000 citizens answered the call of organizers that night, assembling for a raucous “Emergency march: Standing up for democracy while we still can.”

But that was over five years ago. The former Israeli minister who called Lieberman the “new Kahane,” Yossi Sarid, is now dead. The liberal lawmaker who named Netanyahu’s government the most racist in history, Nitzan Horowitz, has since retired from parliamentary politics. Today, warnings of the increasing racism pervading Israeli society and guiding its populist leaders come not from members of the left-wing Meretz Party, but rather from decorated Israeli generals, including many notorious for their involvement in atrocities against Palestinians.

In a Holocaust Memorial Day speech three weeks ago, the Israeli army’s deputy chief of staff warned that the country was beginning to resemble Nazi Germanyin the 1930s. Last week, the army’s former chief of staff resigned his post as defense minister, claiming that the country had been taken over by extremists. And on the weekend, a third former chief of staff, defense minister and prime minister responded to this resignation with the charge that Israel “has been infected by the seeds of fascism… and it’s just the beginning.”

That these ominous warnings are emerging from trusted alumni of Israel’s security establishment and not the country’s few remaining bleeding heart liberals demonstrates how the national discourse has shifted to the hard right, and how the Israeli left has disintegrated into insignificance.

The progressives who organized a protest this past Saturday night against Lieberman’s imminent admission to the coalition only managed to draw about 300 participants. This figure amounted to only one-50th the size of the crowd that the Israeli left had fielded in Tel Aviv to demonstrate against Lieberman’s anti-democratic machinations back in January 2011.

Since that time, Israeli citizens have gone to the polls twice more to elect Knesset representatives, in 2013 and 2015. At each opportunity, people have voted in a government even more racist than the last. Last week, Netanyahu announced he would expand his slim coalition by reintroducing Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party to the government, increasing its racist quotient even further.

Filmed West Bank shooting put chain of events in motion

In recent years, Netanyahu doubled funding for Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, and ordered the demolition of Bedouin villages within Israel so that Jews-only townships could literally be built atop their ruins. He rounded thousands of non-Jewish African refugees into desert detention centers and deported thousands more back to the tortures they fled from. He launched two separate full-scale attacks on Gaza, killing over 1,000 civilians, including hundreds of women and children while reducing much of the territory to ruins.

Despite all of these developments, Israel has continued to enjoy the enthusiastic backing of its premier patron, the American government. Even when Netanyahu publicly declared on the eve of the most recent national election that he opposesthe creation of a Palestinian state, Washington continued ahead with fantastical plans to reignite the long-dead “peace process.”

The Obama administration is now offering to increase U.S. military aid to Israel from $3 billion a year to a whopping $4 billion a year, but the signing of the deal has been delayed due to Netanyahu’s refusal. Indeed, the prime minister has demanded that the record figure be increased up to $5 billion a year.

If it were not for the intrepid actions of a humble shoemaker two months ago, grumblings about the government’s incessant march to the far right would still be left to Palestinian activists, their international allies and progressive Jewish partners who are dismissed by Israeli leaders as self-haters and worse. As a witness to a horrendous but all too common scene, the Palestinian resident of the West Bank city of Hebron set off a chain of events that would remove the mask from the Netanyahu government and expose the extent of Israel’s downward spiral.

On March 24, Imad Abu Shamsiya captured on high-quality video an Israeli army medic executing in cold blood an injured and immobilized Palestinian man who presented no physical threat to anyone around him. When the damning footage Abu Shamsiya had passed on to human rights campaigners went viral, careening through the foreign media, it exposed a political rift that has apparently been brewing for some time in the Israeli government. This past weekend, Aluf Benn, the editor-in-chief of Israeli daily Haaretz, called the video “the dynamite that blew up the Netanyahu-Yaalon government.”

Israeli reactions to the execution removed the mask of liberalism

During the first 48 hours following the video’s release, the incident held the attention of foreign media outlets. Put on the spot to defend Israel’s undeserved reputation as a democracy that respects human rights, Netanyahu first condemned the killing.

But as global interest dwindled, Netanyahu reversed course, publicly empathizing with the shooter and his family. The traditional base of Netanyahu voters began taking to the streets to express solidarity with the medic, and leaders of Knesset factions to the right of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party began openly advocating on his behalf. As prominent hawks demanded amnesty for the medic while their rank-and-file embraced him as a hero, Likud loyalist and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon resisted the far-right rhetoric and continued to condemn the medic’s actions.

To be sure, Yaalon is not now and has never been a leftist, not by a longshot. As army chief of staff, he compared Palestinians to a cancer that must be treated with chemotherapy, and as defense minister he supported segregating West Bank buses by race and religion. Serving in Netanyahu’s cabinet, he called the Israeli anti-settlement activists of Peace Now a “virus” and accused the army whistleblowers Breaking the Silence of committing “treason.” Worst of all, Yaalon personally directed Israel’s merciless 2014 attack on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge.

How could such a man suddenly find distasteful the execution of a single Palestinian, especially one who was accused of attacking Israeli soldiers before he was felled and later killed?

Condemning the medic-executioner enabled Yaalon and other members of Israel’s old guard to profess egalitarian values and portray themselves as civilized, even while their hands dripped with Palestinian blood. In the words of Mekomit Magazine analyst Haggai Matar, the difference between the Israeli officials like Lieberman who support the actions of the medic-executioner and those who oppose his actions like Yaalon is the following:

“The former already dropped all the masks, the pretension to ‘purity of arms’ and ‘enlightened occupation’, while the latter want to return to the days in which you could both rule over millions of human beings under a military regime and also feel like a light unto the nations. To both operate separate legal systems and send children to the army, to kill and be killed in the name of the settlements, and for those kids to also not be racist, heaven forbid. To continue all of that, and to also not be criticized for it by the international community.”

Yaalon eventually came to the defense of the army deputy chief who had compared rising racism in Israel to Germany in the 1930s and doubled down on his dissent by encouraging army brass to go public with their ethical concerns, even if they aren’t shared by the government of the day.

To quash internal resistance, Netanyahu announced that he would terminate Yaalon as Defense Minister and replace him with Lieberman, a far-rightist whose open hatred of Palestinians and eagerness to expel them from the country, if not outright execute them, is well-known and well-documented.

Lieberman named Defense Minister-in-waiting, Glick made Member of the Knesset

Like the rest of the coalition government’s non-ultra-Orthodox partners, Lieberman was a Netanyahu protege who eventually emerged from under his boss’s wing to found his own party, a vehicle for votes that could be brought under Netanyahu’s premiership in exchange for important ministerial appointments.

When Israelis last went to the polls in the spring of 2015, multiple members of Lieberman’s party were under investigation for using the powerful positions they had been appointed to for their own economic interests. On election day, Israeli voters reduced the party’s representation in the Knesset by more than half, from 13 seats to just six. At that time, Lieberman’s weakened hand and damaged image made him a less desirable political partner. But after just a year on the opposition benches, the voting pubic seems to have forgotten all about Yisrael Beiteinu’s financial scandals.

As a condition for his inclusion, Lieberman has demanded that the government agree to implement the death penalty—only for Palestinians, never for Jews. And though his voter base is fiercely secular and often disenfranchised by religious rules that forbid citizens who aren’t full-blooded Jews from marrying, Lieberman has agreed to forego his civil marriage bill and give in to Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox coalition partners on matters of synagogue and state. Lieberman’s arrival will compound Netanyahu’s already anti-Palestinian policies, and it won’t slow down the government’s gallop toward religious fanaticism.

An apocalyptic messianist enters government

Yaalon’s decision to quit the Knesset altogether means he will be replaced in parliament by the next legislator on the Likud list: Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, who counts himself a member of the Likud’s hardline “Jewish Leadership” faction. During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, the faction’s leader called to ethnically cleanse the strip of Palestinians and for Jews to recolonize it in its entirety.

But even more frightening than Glick’s territorial ambitions are his dominionist initiatives. In recent years, Glick has been the public face of a vigorous political campaign to expand Jewish access to the al-Aqsa mosque compound, considered the holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina, and the last place in the country which is still nominally controlled by Muslims. Glick skillfully depicts this demand as a modest push for Jewish prayer rights, while he passionately preaches for a Jewish temple to be built on the hallowed ground and for daily animal sacrifices to replace those Jewish prayers.

While mainstream Orthodox Judaism holds that the construction of a Jewish temple on that same site where another Israelite temple existed 2,000 years ago can only follow from an act of god, radical messianists hope to jumpstart that process. In recent years, Glick has worked with Miri Regev, a right-wing stalwart who currently serves as Culture Minister, and many more hardline lawmakers to increase the Jewish presence on the mosque compound, hoping to create a critical mass of support for a plan to apply full Jewish control over the site.

The constant forays by Glick and his followers into the Al Aqsa compound, usually under the guard of Border Police who restrain and attack Palestinian protesters, has helped bring tensions in Jerusalem to a boiling point and played a critical role in inspiring the ongoing Palestinian rebellion.

While Israel’s deposed Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon was neither a friend of Palestinians nor a partner for peace, his departure signals the end of an era in which Israeli leaders could have at least been expected to mouth platitudes about the military’s moral code. Now Netanyahu must contend with his new coalition members, from the demagogic Lieberman to the zealot Glick.

Just before his swearing in as a new member of Knesset, Glick took another tripto the Al Aqsa compound. In a private meeting, Netanyahu pulled Glick aside to express his anxiety: “This is the last time you do this to me,” the prime minister exclaimed.

David Sheen is an independent journalist and filmmaker. His website is and he tweets from @davidsheen.

–AlterNet, May 24, 2016

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US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation Commemorates Al Nakba

Posted by uscsjp on May 15, 2016

As Palestinians Mark 68 Years of Nakba, We Must Step Up Our Work

Dear Omar,

Today Palestinians worldwide commemorate the Nakba, the catastrophe, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were deliberately expelled from their homes by Zionist forces to create the state of Israel. There are now more than seven million Palestinian refugees waiting to return to their homeland, unable to do so because Israel refuses to honor their right of return.

Enough Nakba

While we commemorate the events of 1948, it is important to understand that the Nakba is not a onetime event andimpacts Palestinians everywhere on a daily basis. Palestinian refugees in Gaza, where 70% of the population are refugees, and Syria, where more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed by bombardment from the Syrian regime, face constant military assaults.Ethnic cleansing in historic Palestine continues. In 2015 alone, 221,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced as Israel pursues its colonization project.

Below are some resources about the Nakba and the importance of thePalestinian right of return for establishing a just and lasting peace. Please use them in your organizing for Palestinian rights.

Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians, 1876-1948 from the Institute for Palestine Studies.

The Making of Israel, a new interactive map produced by Visualizing Palestine that animates 68 years of Nakba and 143 years of colonization.

Videos to watch and shareMaximum Land with Minimum Palestinians from the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights; Nakba by the Numbers from the Institute for Middle East Understanding; Najawa: A Story of Palestinefrom Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel; and Chronicles of a Refugee, a six-part series produced in 2008 looking at the plight of Palestinian refugees all over the world.

Post this graphic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks.

Follow #Nakba#Nakba68, and #NakbaDay on Twitter for more articles, pictures, and videos.

We must step up our work in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. And there is something you can do right now!

The United Methodist Church General Conference is happening now in Portland, OR and US Campaign member group United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR) is pushing for several divestment resolutions that will end the church’s involvement in the occupation. UMKR needs you to help launch a social media storm to show the church that support for Palestinian rights and divestment is widespread!

If you are on Facebook, like UMKR’s page and share their updates.

If you are on Twitter, tweet your support using #UMCGC. Follow and retweet tweets from @UMKairosResp@fosnalive, and #KairosGC2016. These accounts will also let you know when you can watch live stream of the resolutions being discussed and voted on.

You can also click on the tweets below to post them automatically. Each tweet includes a link to more information.

Help the Methodists become the latest church body to divest from occupation and apartheid to bring us one step closer to ending the Nakba.

Ramah Kudaimi


Posted in Activism/Divestment, Analysis | Leave a Comment »

Adbusters: Hold The New York Times’ feet to the fire!

Posted by uscsjp on April 23, 2016

Adbusters Media Foundation

Adbusters is launching a #AlltheNewsThatsFitToPrint campaign to take on the biased reporting at The New York Times.

For years now, The New York Times has had a pro-Israeli bias in much of its coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Its writers report in-depth about Israel’s plight and suffering, but fail to document the Palestinian side of the story with anywhere near the same level of detail or humanity.

The problem is that a number of The New York Times‘ journalists have close family ties to Israel and its military.

In 2010, it was discovered that Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner had a son enlisted in Israel’s military. The Electronic Intifada described it as a conflict of interest.

Current senior reporter Isabel Kershner is married to Hirsh Goodman, a senior employee at the Institute for National Security Studies, a think tank with close ties to Israel’s government and armed forces.

David Brooks has a son in the Israel Defense Forces—at the very moment that Brooks may be writing a column about the fraught sensitivities of the Arab-Israeli conflict, his child is taking up arms against the Palestinians.

We wrote a letter to The New York Times asking them to provide pertinent biographical details of its writer’s backgrounds. They refused to print it.

Share your thoughts about this on social media. Contact public editor Margaret Sullivan [@sulliview] and demand that every time they print an article, details of the writer’s background be disclosed. Contact Kershner [@IKershner], Brooks [@nytdavidbrooks], Bronner [@ethanbronner], tell them we want to see Palestinian issues treated with the same care and integrity as any other issue. Share the letter they refused to print. And let’s get #AlltheNewsThatsFitToPrint and #nytimedisclaimer trending!

This is the perfect moment for what is perhaps the most influential newspaper in the world to change the tone of its reporting on the Middle East.

For the wild,

Team Adbusters



Re: Israel Polarized Over Soldier Who Killed Wounded Palestinian (March 30, 2016)

Isabel Kershner’s latest article compels me to question your objectivity towards the Israel- Palestine conflict. This story is typical of Kershner’s reporting: she writes in-depth about Israel’s reaction to the shooting of a Palestinian assailant, but fails to document the Palestinian response with the same level of detail or humanity. Like her pieces on January 28 th and February 18 th , Kershner neglects to address both sides of the tragedy.

This is not the first time your paper has been accused of a pro-Israeli bias. In 2010, The New York Timescame under fire when an independent publication discovered Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner had a son enlisted in Israel’s military. The Electronic Intifada described it as a conflict of interest, and your own Public Editor agreed.

Readers similarly deserve to know that Kershner is married to Hirsh Goodman, a senior employee at the Institute for National Security Studies: a think tank with close ties to Israel’s government and armed forces. They also deserve to know that Times columnist David Brooks, like Bronner, has a son in the Israel Defense Forces. At the very moment that Brooks may be writing a column about the fraught sensitivities in the Arab-Israeli war, his child is taking up arms against the Palestinians.

I am not suggesting that these or other writers’ private lives necessarily bias their work. That is for each individual reader to decide. But the myth of perfect journalistic objectivity has been set aside; the influence of subjectivity is now understood to be significant, and with that recognition comes an urgent need for transparency.

In the 2010 Bronner case, The Times responded by providing a disclaimer at the bottom of just one of his articles. Clearly, this is inadequate. I urge you to provide relevant biographical details at the end of any article where private interests or relationships potentially conflict with the ideal of fair and accurate reporting. At the very least, this is an issue that warrants substantive debate among your journalists and your readers.


Vancouver, British Columbia

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17 Jewish Activists Protesting Israeli Occupation Arrested at ADL Headquarters

Posted by uscsjp on April 22, 2016

By Sam KestenbaumApr 20, 2016

Police arrested 17 activists denouncing the “Jewish establishment’s support of the occupation of Palestine” on April 20 in the lobby of the Anti-Defamation League during one of a series of Passover protests organized by anti-occupation group If Not Now.

Before they were cuffed and shuffled into New York Police Department vans, the young activists had sat cross-legged on the lobby floor, leading a larger crowd in their version of a Passover Seder.

They banged on the floor, danced in circles and sang familiar Hebrew songs. The Seder’s ten plagues included “subjecting Palestinians to daily humiliation” and “destroying the Palestinian economy.” A hand-drawn cardboard Seder plate rested next to a sculpted tinfoil goblet, reserved for Elijah.

“We act now to build a Jewish community that recognizes that we cannot be free absent the freedom for Palestinians,” the text of one handout read.

Passersby paused, snapping photos on their cameras, to take in the unusual scene — around 100 Jewish activists singing and dancing in the glass-walled lobby of a midtown office. One young woman turned to the assembled crowd as she was led away by police, so that her shirt was in full view. “No liberation with occupation,” it read.

If Not Now, which formed two years ago to protest the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict and Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, staged several other Passover-themed events this week.

Six were arrested in Boston, where they rallied outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In Washington D.C., activists gathered outside Hillel.

But the New York protest took on another layer of significance as one prominent New York activist has been at the center of national controversy.

Simone Zimmerman, an If Not Now co-founder, made headlines last week when she was named Jewish outreach coordinator for Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Her peers celebrated. But, just days later, she was suspended from that position after an old Facebook post resurfaced, in which Zimmerman had used profanity and insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abe Foxman, former head of the Anti-Defamation League, denounced Zimmerman and the Zionist Organization of America followed suit.

“She is entitled to say what she wants, but there is something bizarre about making her the liaison for the Jewish community,” Foxman said in a Wednesday interview with the Forward. “Either she wasn’t vetted — or worse, she was.”

Foxman said he took issue with Zimmerman’s criticism of Israel during the 2014 Gaza conflict. Her comments “go to the essence of questioning and challenging Israel’s credibility.”

Foxman declined to comment about the 17 activists’ arrest, deferring to the ADL.

“ADL had no role whatsoever in the arrest of the protesters,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO stressed in a Thursday statement . “The protesters trespassed in the lobby of a private office building in which ADL happens to be one of dozens of tenants.”

“ADL and [If Not Now] … share the same goal,” Greenblatt continued, “a two-state solution that provides for the safety and security of Israel and a viable Palestinian state.”

If Not Now, however, has not taken any specific position on a two-state solution, nor the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel — another divisive topic in the Jewish establishment.

“It is unfortunate that [If Not Now] seems to be more interested in spectacles and ultimatums than in discussion and dialogue grappling with the difficult issues involved in achieving peace,” Greenblatt said. “Nevertheless, our doors are open, and our invitation to speak with [If Not Now] still stands.”

Zimmerman stood in the background at Wednesday’s protest. She declined to speak with the Forward, but her friends rallied around her, posing for photos and intoning her name during the rally.

“Simone speaks for my kind of Judaism,” said Gabrielle Egan, an If Not Now activist from Canada.

If Not Now first took shape online in 2014, as a rallying hash tag on social media during the latest Israel-Gaza conflict. Many participants had been involved in J Street, but had become dissatisfied with that organization’s position on the conflict. Several activists describe their involvement with If Not Now as a sort of Jewish homecoming.

“These are people who grew up in a post-peace process environment,” said Peter Beinart, a mentor to Zimmerman and a leading voice in liberal Zionism. “If you look at If Not Now, there is a deep alienation, a dissatisfaction with the Jewish community’s lack of discussion.”

Posted in Analysis, News | 13 Comments »

EI: From Palestine to Honduras, every day is Land Day

Posted by uscsjp on April 13, 2016

Berta Cáceres was one of three indigenous land rights activists murdered in Central America in March. (CIDH)

On 30 March 1976, Palestinian citizens of Israel declared a general strike and held large demonstrations against land expropriations by Israeli authorities in the Galilee.

Now observed annually as Land Day, these events marked the first organized popular rebellion by Palestinians inside present-day Israel. They had undergone three decades of disenfranchisement and intimidation.

In 1948, Zionist militias, which would later constitute the Israeli army, occupied the majority of historic Palestine.

Using force and the threat of force, some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled.

Those who remained in the territory then unilaterally declared as Israel were granted Israeli citizenship, but the new authorities imposed military rule on them that was not lifted until 1966.

Even after military rule, systematic Israeli attempts to squelch Palestinian dissent and colonize both land and minds continued.

The Zionist project is fixated on controlling as much land as possible with as few Palestinians on it as possible. It has used both naked violence and legal frameworks to gradually reduce Palestinian land ownership in present-day Israel to just a tiny fraction of what it was before 1948.


Land Day was an act of resistance to an Israeli government plan to confiscate thousands of acres in the north of historic Palestine.

But it was also a form of collective defiance against attempts to erase Palestinian identity. The workers and farmers Israel had tried to turn into obedient subjects took to the streets en masse on 30 March to fight for their lands and to take control of their destiny.

The Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba and Deir Hanna — known as the Land Day Triangle — were the most affected by the confiscation plans and witnessed the most violence.

Protesters march iagainst Israel’s planned demolition of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran on 30 March. Annual Land Day demonstrations also commemorate the six Palestinian citizens of Israel shot dead by Israeli forces during mass protests against land seizures in the Galilee on the same date in 1976.Oren ZivActiveStills

In total, six Palestinians were murdered by Israeli police on that day.

They were Khadija Shawahna, a 23-year-old farmer who was killed by an Israeli bullet while looking for her brother among the demonstrators; Khader Khalayleh, shot with a bullet to the head as he tried to help a wounded teacher and protester; Khayr Yasin, shot dead by Israeli soldiers during an unarmed protest in Arraba; Raja Abu Rayya, killed by soldiers after defying a curfew to protest the killing of Khalayleh; Muhsin Taha, a 15-year-old boy killed during a large protest in the village of Kufr Kana near Nazareth and Rafat Zuhairi, a student and refugee killed by soldiers who raided the town of Taybeh before a demonstration.

The grievances and injustices that sparked the protests in March 1976 linger throughout Palestine today. But those injustices are not exclusive to Palestinians.

Four decades later, on the other side of the globe, at least three prominent indigenous land defenders were assassinated for resisting the onslaught of multinationals on their rivers and forests.


The assassination of indigenous Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres on 3 March captured international attention. She was the cofounder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Movements of Honduras.

She was well known for organizing campaigns against hydroelectric power projects, particularly against construction of the Agua Zarca dam on the territory of the indigenous Lenca people.

Cáceres was shot dead in her home at La Esperanza one day shy of her birthday. She had long complained of death threats from the police, army and corporations.

But she would not be the only victim of state-backed corporate and police brutality that month.

Less than two weeks after her death, fellow activist Nelson Garcia was shot in the face and killed by unidentified gunmen after spending the day with the Río Chiquito community.

More than one hundred Honduran police and military officers had evicted dozens of Lenca families from their land.

On 12 March, another activist, Walter Méndez Barrios, was assassinated near his home in Guatemala. He had been a prominent environmental leader who fought against deforestation and hydroelectric projects, and for community-based, sustainable forest management.

Forefront of struggle

Indigenous activists in Latin America are at the forefront of the struggle to save Mother Earth and prevent the privatization of natural resources, the dispossession of rural communities and the exploitation of the most vulnerable under the guise of growth and development. And thus they bear the brunt of repression.

A report published by the group Global Witness found that of the 116 environmental activists known to have been killed in 2014, 40 percent of them were indigenous and three-quarters were in Central and Latin America amid disputes over mining, agri-business and hydroelectric power.

These activists pay the price for leading the fight against a deadly neoliberal assault, protected by state terror and on many occasions directly backed by the United States, as in the case of Honduras.

In fact, Berta Cáceres had singled out Hillary Clinton for her support as secretary of state of the 2009 coup in Honduras and the subsequent whitewashing of atrocities in its wake.

The social movements sprouting in Central and Latin America grasp the multiple facets of their fight and the need to connect the struggle against the corporations seizing their lands with resistance to capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, militarism and environmental destruction.


A feminist, an anti-capitalist and a staunch opponent of US imperialism, Berta Cáceres was acutely aware of the intersection of these battles and repeatedly called for solidarity between social movements around the world.

Her internationalist perspective was not mere rhetoric, but resulted in action, as it led her to create bonds between her movement and other grassroots movements outside Honduras.

Her perspective has expanded even beyond Latin America.

For Palestinians, Honduras and Guatemala might seem too distant, even too irrelevant for our struggle. And while there are some apparent stark differences in our lived realities and in the faces of our oppressors, there are commonalities as well.

In Palestine as well as in many parts of Central and Latin America, the oppression is directly sponsored by US military and financial aid. And in all these places our collective survival rests upon defending and preserving our land.


Similarly, our struggle for self-determination is inseparable from the struggle against capitalism and militarism.

This does not mean that the forms of resistance employed in Central and Latin America should simply be copied in Palestine or vice versa. Rather, it means that we can create strategic alliances that draw from our respective experiences and build a global movement.

To survive, repressive regimes collaborate with one another and to defeat them, oppressed peoples have to create networks of solidarity.

Transnational corporations are so good at blurring borders to increase their profits; we should break those same borders to create a decolonized, more humane, just and diverse world.

“Berta was a force rooted in the past and imagining a different, decolonized future, free of the three systemic forces she routinely identified as her true enemies. Capitalism, racism and patriarchy,” freelance journalist and friend Jesse Freeston said of Cáceres.

To honor her, and to confront those who murdered her, it is necessary to step up the fight and to revive the spirit of Land Day in Palestine and Honduras and throughout the Middle East and the Americas.


Budour Youssef Hassan is a Palestinian writer and law graduate based in occupied Jerusalem. Twitter: @Budour48

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Common Dreams: Brother and Sister, Children Aged 10 and 6, Killed by Israeli Bombing in Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on March 13, 2016

Two young children, 10-year-old Yassin Abu Khussa and his 6-year-old sister Israa Abu Khussa, were killed on Saturday when the Israeli military bombed an area near their home in Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip.

Reports indicate the missile (or missiles) struck while the family was asleep. Yassin was reportedly killed instantly in the blast, while Israa was transported to a hospital where she later died from her wounds. Other family members were also reported injured.

According to the Ma’an News Agency:

The Israeli air force had reportedly targeted four Hamas sites in the northern Gaza Strip early Saturday after four rockets were fired from the besieged enclave the evening before.

A Ma’an reporter based in Gaza said the children were in their house at the time of the airstrike, located in northwestern Beit Lahiya, adding that the family was still living in their home that was partially destroyed during the most recent Israeli offensive on the strip in 2014.The Israeli army said the rockets fired from Gaza had landed in open areas in southern Israel, without reporting damage or injuries.

Suleiman Abu Khoussa, 50, the children’s father, told the New York Times the family was sleeping in a makeshift shelter just outside their house when the missile struck.  “Their mother was screaming, ‘The children are dead, the children are dead,'” he said in a telephone interview. “I went and I saw them covered in blood.”

Lieutenant Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, defended the bombing that killed the children by telling Reuters that rockets launch are an attempt by militants in Gaza to “threaten the security and safety of the people of southern Israel.”

The Israeli military, he continued with no apparent sense of irony or dread, “will continue to act to protect against those who threaten innocent lives.”

As the Israeli military occupation and blockade continues year after year, many organizations and individual experts have documented the severe negative impacts the siege is having on the Palestinian people – and children in particular – trapped in Gaza.

Despite those factors and international criticism, the United States government continues to provide political backing and military aid to the Israeli government.

Just last week, Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel to negotiate a new round of U.S. military aid, currently estimated at about $3 billion annually but likely to increase by as much as 50 percent.

“We’re committed to making sure that Israel can defend itself against all serious threats,” Biden told reporters after meeting with Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu.

So far this weekend, however, there has been no comment from the U.S. State Department or other officials about whether or not there will be any money left over to help the children of Gaza defend themselves against the “serious threats” they face.

Danny Muller, who has traveled to Gaza regularly since 2003 and previously coordinated humanitarian aid and psychological and social programs for children traumatized by war with the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the young people of Palestine have become the serial victims of the violence unleashed by the Israeli government and backed with U.S. support.

“Children do not choose where they live, where they play, or how they die—but we do,” said Muller in an email to Common Dreams on Sunday. “Israel and the United States continue to use collective punishment via carpet bombing in response to criminal acts. When you use intensive airstrikes on one of the most densely populated areas in world, the inevitable result is large numbers of the deaths of children. Just because this happens with regularity does not mean we should allow ourselves to lose our own humanity and not be horrified and take every appropriate action to bring retribution upon those responsible.”

–Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams, Sunday, March 13, 2016

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How was 2015 for Palestinian children?

Posted by uscsjp on January 30, 2016

Four year-old Ahmed Dawabsha receives a visit from his maternal grandparents in hospital on December 5, 2015 where he is being treated for burns after his family house was firebombed by Jewish extremists on July 31, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Duma. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Ramallah, January 20, 2016—Instability and violence continued to define much of life for Palestinian children in 2015. When tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem erupted into violence across the occupied West Bank in early October, Israeli forces responded predictably with excessive force, including the use of live ammunition against children. The rise in violence coincided with the 15 year anniversary of the onset of the second intifada, or uprising. During this five year period of conflict from September 2000 to February 2005, over 700 Palestinian children died at the hands of Israeli forces and setters. Since then, at least 1,277 Palestinian children have been killed.

Violations against Palestinian children were not limited to the last few months of 2015. Evidence collected by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, showed a rise in the use of physical violence against children held in Israeli military detention, and the increased use of live ammunition against Palestinian children. In Gaza, reconstruction following the deadly 50-day military assault over the summer of 2014 has been extremely limited, leaving children displaced during the conflict in unstable living conditions.

Palestinian children throughout the OPT continued to face disproportionate physical violence, restricted access to education, and psychological trauma at the hands of Israeli forces and settlers.

Lethal force: ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy

At least 28 Palestinian children were fatally shot by Israeli forces in 2015. In several cases, DCIP found that children did not pose a direct, mortal threat  at the time they were killed.

The number of fatalities drastically increased in October, after tensions across East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank escalated into lethal attacks. In just 12 weeks, 25 Palestinian children were fatally shot by Israeli forces, all except six while carrying out alleged knife attacks. Israeli authorities have not opened investigations into any of these shootings and have refused family requests for autopsies, which could independently verify the circumstances of their deaths.

In response to escalating violence Israeli forces now appear to be implementing a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial killings. International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable. This comes alongside the decision by Israeli authorities to relax open-fire rules, allowing Israeli forces to use live ammunition during protests in Jerusalem when there is a “threat to life.” Previously, live ammunition was permitted only when there is a direct, mortal threat to the life of a police officer or soldier.

Accountability for shootings by Israeli forces is extremely rare. Only one incident, the fatal shooting of Nadeem Nawara, 17, in May 2014, has resulted in both an investigation and indictment. The Israeli border policeman charged with Nadeem’s death is currently under house arrest as he awaits trial.

Military detention: increased violence and the return of administrative detention

Each year, hundreds of Palestinian children are arrested, detained, and prosecuted within the Israeli military system. Child detainees report physical and verbal abuse, are denied fair trial standards, and often suffer from long term psychological trauma.

Children in military detention in 2015 suffered increasing levels of physical violence at the hands of Israeli forces. DCIP collected affidavits from 110 West Bank children detained in 2015 that showed three-quarters of them endured some form of physical violence following arrest.

Amid heightened violence in the fall of 2015, the number of Palestinian children skyrocketed to the highest it has been since March 2009. At the end of November, 412 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system. In response to the rising number of child detainees, Israel Prison Services used a section at Givon prison  in October and November to house the overflow of Palestinian minors. Conditions at the prison were inadequate and failed to meet minimum standards. Children were crowded into cells, the building lacked proper heating and shower facilities, and children complained of poor quality and inadequate amounts of food.

DCIP is particularly disturbed that Israeli authorities have placed six Palestinian teenagers under administrative detention. This is the first time the measure has been used against Palestinian minors in nearly four years. Administrative detention is the imprisonment of individuals by the state for prolonged periods without charge or trial. The measure should never be used as a substitute for criminal prosecution.

Over the past few months, Israeli authorities pushed through a series of policies imposing harsher sentencing guidelines and fines for children in Jerusalem. These amendments include  a 10-year prison sentence for throwing stones or other objects at moving vehicles with the possibility of endangering passengers or causing damage, and 20 years for throwing stones with the purpose of harming others. The amendments reduced judicial discretion, instituting mandatory minimum sentence of no less than one-fifth of the potential maximum sentence and restricting suspended sentences to special circumstances only. One of the latest bills proposes custodial sentences for children, as young as 12, convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” violent offences. The actual serving of the sentences would be deferred until the children reach the age of 14.

Settler Violence

Israel’s establishment and expansion of Jewish-only settlements across the OPT since 1967 has created a dangerous environment for Palestinians. Approximately 515,000 Israelis now live illegally in the West Bank, and settler violence against neighboring Palestinian communities and children is common.

One of the most tragic incidents of settler violence took place last July, when a Palestinian toddler burned to death after Jewish settlers threw firebombs inside two homes in the northern West Bank village of Duma. The fire killed Ali Dawabsheh, 18 months, and left his parents, Saad and Riham, and brother, Ahmad, 4, in critical condition. Saad and Riham died later in the hospital from injuries sustained during the attack.

Statistics from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than224 settler attacks occurred in 2015. Impunity for settler attacks against Palestinians remained the norm. A May 2015  report from Israeli human rights group Yesh Din found that Israeli police closed over 85 percent of investigations and only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli civilian attacks resulted in conviction.

Gaza one year later: justice remains elusive

The summer of 2015 marked the one year anniversary of Israel’s 50-day military assault on Gaza, which killed 547 Palestinian children and injured a further 3,000. DCIP’s investigation into all Palestinian child fatalities during Operation Protective Edge found overwhelming and repeated evidence that Israeli forces committed grave violations against children amounting to war crimes. Despite well-documented evidence, there has been no justice and accountability for grave violations against Palestinian children.

An independent United Nations commission presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that detailed international law violations committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during the conflict, noting “impunity prevails across the board for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law allegedly committed by Israeli forces.” The UNHRC endorsed the report in July, almost unanimously passing a resolution that emphasized the dire need for accountability in order to end systemic impunity.

In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shielded Israel from accountability for atrocities against children when he removed Israel’s armed forces from a draft list of groups that commit grave violations of children’s rights during armed conflict.

Read more:


–Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), Jan 20, 2016

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How the Israel boycott movement struck major blows in 2015 — The Electronic Intifada

Posted by uscsjp on January 6, 2016

Despite Israel’s counteroffensive, boycott movement won some key victories in 2015.


Mark EsperPolaris

In September 2014, on the eve of the Jewish new year, Israel’s leading financial daily named Omar Barghoutiamong the 100 people most likely to influence the country’s economy in the following year.

Calcalist, the business supplement of the mass circulation newspaper Yediot Ahronot, said that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which Barghouti helped found, was “already worrying the government.”

It cited government studies warning that Israel would lose billions of dollars a year in exports and GDP and thousands of jobs if current boycott trends continued.

“The credit and honor go to the entire BDS movement, of which I am a modest part, to each and every BDS activist in Palestine and around the world who has contributed to making BDS one the most effective forms of resisting Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid,” Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada this week.

And 2015 has proven Calcalist right.

As the year closes, Palestine’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition that backs the BDS movement, is pointing out some of the successes of the last 12 months:

  • The authors of a United Nations report revealed in June that BDS was a key factor behind the nearly 50 percent plunge in foreign direct investment in Israel in 2014.
  • The World Bank cited consumer boycotts as a key factor behind a 24 percent drop in Palestinian imports from Israel in the first quarter of 2015.
  • The international credit ratings agency Moody’s warned in October that “the Israeli economy could suffer should BDS gain greater traction.” Moody’s reports are used by corporations to assess the risk of doing business in a country.

A major European investor confirmed that BDS was already deterring companies from entering the Israeli market.

“During general meetings of the leading companies, even if they did examine investing in Israeli companies, it will be off the agenda immediately because of the impact of BDS,” Edouard Cukierman, founder of Catalyst Funds and chair of Cukierman & Co Investment House, told Israeli media.

Running for the exit

In 2015, activists celebrated a major victory as the French multinational Veolia sold off all its investments in Israel.

This followed a seven-year global campaign which cost Veolia billions of dollars in lost municipal and government contracts. By the end, Veolia reportedly could not find any international buyers for its Israeli businesses.

Perhaps alarmed by Veolia’s fate, the French multinational telecom company Orange announced in June that it intended to end its relationship with its Israeli affiliate.

Despite the Israeli government’s outraged reaction, Orange amended its contract with Israel’s Partner Communications so it could get out of the country as soon as 2017, instead of 2025.

Orange providing free service to Israeli soldiers deployed near Gaza during the assault in the summer of 2014 that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians. The Israeli affiliate of the French telecom company has “adopted” a military unit that was in action in locations where hundreds of civilians were killed. (via Frumline)

The campaign to end Orange’s complicity with Israeli human rights abuses – it operates extensively in Israel’s West Bank settlements – started in France several years ago and gathered pace in May when activists in Egypt called for a boycott of its subsidiary Mobinil.

The Electronic Intifada’s April report revealing the extent of Orange’s direct complicity in Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza galvanized the campaign.

In November, the European Union finally took the step of requiring labels clearly marking goods that come from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in violation of international law.

This was a minimalist step taken only after years of dithering and delay, and has to be seen in the context of massive ongoing EU complicity with Israel’s war crimes and its deepening apartheid.

But at the time, Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator for the BNC, said the move was a “sign that European governments are reacting to public opinion, civil society campaigning and Israeli intransigence and are becoming more willing to take some basic action against Israeli violations of international law.”

Israel’s furious reaction – many politicians compared EU officials to Nazis – belies its real fear: that this is only the first step of more action to come.

A sure sign of the mainstreaming of Palestinian rights came in September with Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the election for leader of the UK’s main opposition Labour Party.

Despite intense Israel lobby smears, Corbyn trounced the establishment candidates.

A month earlier, Corbyn, a lifelong champion of Palestinian rights, had told The Electronic Intifada he backed the boycott of Israeli universities involved in weapons research.

Faith and labor

In 2014, after a decade-long campaign, the Presbyterian Church USA voted by a narrow margin to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This prompted Israel and its lobby groups to step up their efforts to co-opt or intimidate church activists.

But in June this year a resounding answer came from the United Church of Christ. The one million-strong US denomination’s assembly voted by a huge margin to divest as well.

Where churches are going, labor is following. Several major labor federations in North America joined the dozens of unions, especially in Europe, that already support the movement.

In August, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America – known as UE – voted to back BDS, becoming the second US national union to do so.

“We reached a breaking point when Israel launched the war on Gaza in 2014, killing over 2,000 people, including 500 children,” Carl Rosen, a member of UE’s national executive board, explained.

In November, the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO, representing 200,000 workers, voted to back key elements of the Palestinian call for BDS.

And Quebec’s confederation of trade unions, representing 325,000 workers in the Canadian province, also backed BDS, including the cultural boycott and a boycott of all Israeli goods.

It pledged to work with civil society groups to organize campaigns to turn this support into action in coming months.

This year Israel also suffered from a sustained and deepening decline in tourism, especially from Europe.

There is no direct evidence that the sharp decline, which began during the 2014 attack on Gaza, is due to boycotts.

But the fact that the BDS movement – especially the cultural boycott – has been so strong in Europe undoubtedly makes it harder for Israel to market itself as a carefree destination for sunseekers.

Going mainstream

This was the year when “Lauryn Hill and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth said they won’t perform in Israel, and more than 1,000 artists across Ireland, the UK, the US and Belgium have said they support the cultural boycott of Israel,” the BNC notes, highlighting that the campaign is gaining ground everywhere.

“Israeli universities play a key role in planning and whitewashing Israel’s crimes but now academics across the world are taking effective action,” the BNC states.

Examples from 2015 include landslide votes to back the academic boycott of these complicit institutions by theAmerican Anthropological Association and the National Women’s Studies Association.


In 2015, Israel and its lobby groups intensified their counterattack against the growing global movement for Palestinian rights.

This included crackdowns and intimidation on campuses and efforts to legislate and litigate against BDS in North America and Europe.

They had plenty of help from complicit governments and lawmakers, including in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the US.

But the BNC even sees this backlash as a sign of success, as an increasingly desperate Israel resorts to “exporting its mentality of repression and getting its allies in the west to run McCarthyite attacks on free speech.”

“Israel knows it is losing the argument and is throwing everything it has at sabotaging our movement, dedicating money, government staff and apparently even its security services to undermining BDS,” the BNC says.

There’s no doubt Israel’s efforts to obstruct and sabotage campaigns for justice will continue and, flush with new cash, intensify.

With dozens of student bodies on US campuses having voted to back divestment in recent years, we can expect campaigns to shift toward pressuring administrations to implement those demands. They will face determined opposition, but that will only help keep Palestine front and center.

There’s also every sign that BDS could become a big issue in the 2016 US presidential campaign – already Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Republican hopeful Jeb Bush have launched attacks on the movement.

But that might only serve to educate more people that BDS exists and is an option for them too.

The passing year, which also marked the 10th anniversary of the Palestinian civil society call for BDS, shows clearly that this diverse and decentralized movement founded and led by Palestinians is a growing match for Israel.

Amid so much difficult news from Palestine and the region, that’s a bright ray of hope for 2016.


–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 30 Dec., 2015


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