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,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Caracas, October 16, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan social movements gathered outside the United Nations’ headquarters in Caracas on Wednesday to protest an ongoing Israeli crackdown against Palestinians in the occupied territories, which has claimed the lives of at least 35 Palestinians since October 1.
Unfurling a giant Palestinian flag at the entrance to the office building, the several dozen protesters held signs and chanted slogans calling on the international community to take action in defense of Palestinian rights.
“We are here at the United Nations office in Caracas simply because we cannot remain silent in the face of the genocide being committed against the Palestinian people,” Hindu Andari, spokesperson for the Itinerant Forum of Popular Participation, told venezuelanalysis.
The most recent Israeli crackdown has sought to quell a Palestinian uprising gaining momentum in the past two weeks, sparked by Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, 27-year-old Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahreh was shot and killed with live ammunition by Israeli occupation forces during clashes near the illegal Israeli separation barrier in Bethlehem, while 33 others were injured, nine with live fire.
Thirty-five Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of October, including at least seven children, as well as numerous bystanders and unarmed protesters shot dead in “extrajudicial killings”, according to Amnesty International. 1300 Palestinians have also been injured this month, including 550 by live fire and 600 by rubber-coated bullets, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirms. Meanwhile, seven Israelis have been killed, mostly in stabbing attacks.
Coming on the heels of Venezuela’s commemoration of “indigenous resistance day” on October 12, several present at Wednesday’s protest drew parallels between Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonization and indigenous struggles in South America.
“The Venezuelan people survived a similar genocide when Columbus came to America. The Palestinian people are resisting as we resisted, as our indigenous peoples resisted in the face of that [Spanish] genocide. Venezuela cannot be indifferent to this cause,” explains Mercedes “Chelena” Rosa of the Movement of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Artists.
Last year, Venezuela shipped tonnes of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in response to a 51-day Israeli assault that killed close to 2200 Palestinians, two-thirds of whom civilians, provoking international outrage and renewed calls for international sanctions.
Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions
The recurrent US-backed Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip in recent years have fueled the rise of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to replicate the nonviolent tactics successfully used against apartheid South Africa to force Israel’s compliance with international law.
The international movement has been so successful that Venezuelan social movements are in the process of organizing their own BDS campaign, says Andari.
“We must break relations with companies that finance the occupation of Palestine,” she stated, noting that the Caracas UN office is located in the HPTower, also home to the offices of US multinational IT firm Hewlett-Packard, which produces biometric ID technology used both in Israeli checkpoints and US prisons.
“We have to turn up the pressure so that no university in the country can have educational and athletic agreements with Israeli [universities]. We believe that the Bolivarian government shouldn’t send Venezuelan athletes to any international competitions in Israel,” Andari added, underscoring the importance of theacademic and cultural boycott….
Netanyahu’s disrespect in circumventing the president prompted around 60 Democratic members of Congress — one-quarter of the party’s caucus — to publicly boycott the address, opening up an unprecedented partisan breach.
After Netanyahu’s stunt in Congress, it was self-evident that no Democratic members of Congress, except for the party’s most hardcore Zionists such as senators Charles Schumer of New York and Ben Cardin of Maryland, would vote to kill what is arguably the signature foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration.
AIPAC could have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into its campaign and probably wouldn’t have changed a single vote.
Netanyahu is no fool and neither is AIPAC. So then why did they expend so much political capital and money on a lost cause?
Simple: the louder Israel and its lobby bellowed that the nuclear deal with Iran endangered Israel’s security and presented it with an existential threat, the larger the payout from the United States to back its demands for military aid.
Israel is likely to get recompensed for the Iran nuclear deal in two ways.
The first is through Congressional authorization of the transfer to Israel of advanced weaponry such as bunker-buster bombs. For example, Cory Booker, the Democratic senator from New Jersey who broke with his former mentor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach by supporting the deal, stated that the “US should provide Israel with access to the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to help deter Iranian cheating.”
And Obama appears amenable to upping the quality of weapons the US provides Israel. In a letter to Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic representative for New York, Obama pledged that “Our support for Israel is also an important element in deterring Iran from ever seeking a nuclear weapon.”
Thus Israel is likely to receive from the US the weapons it would need to threaten or actually carry out the attack on Iran the US just potentially avoided with the nuclear deal.
Second, Israel will likely reap an enormous windfall from the United States by negotiating a new 10-year deal for additional military aid. During the George W. Bush administration, the US signed an agreement to provide Israel with $30 billion in military aid from 2009 to 2018.
Ever since he visitedJerusalem in March 2013, Obama has repeatedly made clear that he wants to extend — and even increase — military aid to Israel.
Although the timing of the Iran nuclear deal and the impending expiration of the agreement with Israel is coincidental, Netanyahu is shrewdly choreographing his steps to maximize his leverage with the US and wring out the most concessions possible.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, twice since April, Obama personally contacted Netanyahu, practically pleading with him to start talks on how the US may bolster the Israeli military’s arsenal. But the Israeli prime minister steadfastly refused.
Now with Iran a done deal, these discussions are getting underway in earnest — and media reports suggest that Israel will try to get as much as $45 billion in military aid from the US through 2028. In other words, Obama may now wind up signing a deal to increase the Bush administration’s commitment to Israel by 50 percent.
While it is doubtful that Israel would use these weapons to unilaterally attack Iran, they unquestionably will be used to entrench and solidify Israel’s military occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, making the US even further complicit in Israel’s accompanying atrocities.
This new military aid deal, sadly, will be Obama’s enduring legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue as his presidency draws to a close.
The debacle for Netanyahu and AIPAC on Iran demonstrably shows that Israel and its allies do not dictate the terms and contours of broader US foreign policy goals. However, their power to preserve the status quo on US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians has emerged largely unscathed from this battle.
Netanyahu is coming to Washington to kiss and make up with Obama over Iran in November — and to collect his check. Without a massive uproar from civil society before then, US taxpayers will be on the hook for another decade of underwriting Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
Vice President Joe Biden recently acknowledged that US taxpayers already fund 20 percent of Israel’s entire military budget.
Enough is enough. Fortunately growing numbers of Americans agree.
To make this message clear, tens of thousands have already endorsed the campaign calling on Obama not to give any more weapons to Israel.
This comes as an Israel lobby group is expressing concern at the growing cooperation between Black activists and Palestinians.
The statement, whose endorsers include scholar-activists Angela Davis and Cornel West and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, urges full support for the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.
First appearing in Ebony earlier this month, the statement emphasizes “return to their homeland in present-day Israel” as “the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.”
Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said that the Black activists’ “support for BDS against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid is particularly inspiring as it translates principled positions into morally consistent actions that are capable of righting injustices.”
The BNC is the broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement.
“The US civil rights movement has always been a key inspiration for us in the BDS movement,” Nawajaa added in a statement from the BNC. “We are deeply moved by this powerful proclamation that evokes the spirit of that heroic civil rights struggle.”
Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, called the statement “a poignant testament to the organic links that connect the Palestinian struggle for self-determination with the struggle of the oppressed around the world, including ongoing struggles for racial and economic justice by Black people in the US and across the world.”
“Despite the obvious differences, there are compelling similarities between the forms of oppression that both Palestinians and African Americans live under,” Barghouti added. “Dehumanization, dispossession, racial injustice and discrimination, state violence, criminalization of entire communities and impunity are all key characteristics of the oppression faced by Black Americans and Palestinians.”
The Black activists’ statement calls for joint campaigns against G4S, the multinational security firm that works in Israeli prisons in the occupied West Bank and runs detention centers that are part of the US system of mass incarceration that targets people of color.
The Black activists’ statement – and the Palestinian response – represent the kind of solidarity that is ringing alarm bells in the offices of Israel lobby groups.
“This year saw efforts by anti-Israel groups to build coalitions with progressive campus organizations that deal with issues such as LGBT rights, fossil fuel divestment, private prison reform, racial discrimination and immigration reform,” the ICC report states.
In particular, ICC – which evidently closely monitors the Palestine solidarity movement – says it “observed strong ties between SJP and many African American student groups during the 2014-2015 academic year.”
“As recently as May 2015, SJP student activists were actively involved in Black Lives Matter-linked demonstrations,” it states.
ICC also notes an “increasing number of SJP-backed slates and candidates winning legislative and executive positions within student governments.”
“These candidates are running on platforms that call for reform on a wide range of social issues; BDS is now mentioned alongside other issues such as private prison divestment, minority rights and fossil fuels,” it adds.
But ICC assures Israel supporters that anti-Palestinian activists are “fighting back” by “forming coalitions to educate the broader campus community, and working to build support for Israel on campus.”
The Israel lobby group says that media reports alleging that BDS is taking over college campuses are exaggerated.
It warns, however, that “if the current trends on campuses nationwide persist, the result could be dangerously close to that reality.”
–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, August 27, 2015
The Israeli government has released a report that concludes its military actions in the 2014 war in Gaza were “lawful” and “legitimate.” The findings come ahead of what is expected to be a critical United Nations investigation into the 50-day conflict that Israel has dismissed as biased and refused to cooperate with. More than 2,200 Palestinians died in what was called “Operation Protective Edge,” the vast majority civilians. On Israel’s side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. In its report, Israel says it made “substantial efforts” to avoid civilian deaths, insisting Hamas was to blame for the high number of civilian casualties and accusing Hamas militants of disguising themselves as civilians and of converting civilian buildings into military centers. We are joined by Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the former executive director of The Jerusalem Fund. We also go to Tel Aviv to speak with Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist, whose latest piece is “Israel washed itself clean of Gaza’s dead beach children”…