Friday, September 28, 2007

Ann Arbor City Councilmember Lowenstein complains to the "Michigan Daily", about boycott of Israeli goods

"At co-op, a battle over Israeli goods
"A Kerrytown institution is split by Mideast politics"

By Daniel Strauss, Daily Staff Reporter

MICHIGAN DAILY (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

On the Web at:

On Saturday morning at the People's Food Co-op of Ann Arbor, shoppers perused the shelves stacked with fat jars of herbs and pesticide-free alternatives to everyday essentials, like Herbal Insect Repellant and Muir Glen Organic Salsa.

The store is divided into two sections: One side is a grocery store, with shopping carts and frozen produce. The other side is for dining in.

There's a buffet of hot dishes- including vegan blueberry pancakes - and a counter selling organic desserts like almond chocolate cheesecake. There are a few University students, families with little children and some elderly couples.

And then there are the people outside with the signs.

They're objecting to the co-op's sale of Israeli goods.

Earlier this summer, the protesters formed the group Boycott Israeli Goods. Their purpose is to get the co-op, located on North Fourth Avenue in Kerrytown, to stop selling Israeli-made products until Israel stops what the group calls the poor treatment of Palestinians. Co-op members - anyone who has paid a $60 fee by July 31 - are voting on the proposal throughout the month. Their votes are due by Sept. 30.

This summer, members of Boycott Israeli Goods went before the co-op's board with a proposal that the store stop selling Israeli goods, according to the co-op's website.

During the summer, the pro-boycott group collected enough signatures from the 6,000 co-op members to force a vote. The board refused, but under the co-op's bylaws, any vote by the eight-person board can be overruled if 7 percent of co-op members disagree with the board's decision.

Martha Federbush was outside the co-op on Saturday morning with a "Vote Yes to Boycott Israeli Goods."

"I've been out here for about an hour and a half," she said. "But it feels more like two and a half."

Most passersby ignore Federbush and the two other protesters, but occasionally someone will stop or say something.

"You think you're helping Palestinians by boycotting an organic food store?" a man said as he walked by with his son.

Federbush yelled back that boycotts like hers are how people fought the South African apartheid. The man kept walking.

The dozen or so Israeli products make up one-one hundredth of 1 percent of the store's annual revenue.

This summer, members of Boycott Israeli Goods went before the co-op's board with a proposal that the store stop selling Israeli goods, according to the co-op's website.

Members of the boycott group say they're not trying to stir up trouble, they're just trying to help the Palestinians.

"I'm Jewish, and I've been to Palestine, and it was really disturbing," said Sol Metz, a member of Boycott Israeli Goods. "What I saw was that in the name of Jews everywhere, the Palestinians were being treated almost as badly as we were by the Nazis."

But they have stirred up some trouble.

"Our opposition, when they called or e-mailed, would constantly tire us with things like our bad characters or assume that we were anti-Semitic because we criticize Israel," said Ed Morin, another Boycott Israeli Goods member who unsuccessfully ran last year for a seat on the University Board of Regents on the Green Party ticket.

Ann Arborites for Mid-East Peace was founded this summer to fight the boycott.

City Council member Joan Lowenstein (D-Ward 2), a member of the opposition group, said Boycott Israeli Goods members should just not buy Israeli goods rather than ask the co-op to stop selling them.

"It's more that it's singling out Israel which I think is improper," Lownestein said. "I think it's just a purely anti-Israel move and is unwarranted."


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Conference of Students for Justice in Palestine and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

"Activists Gather in Arlington"
by Staff Reporter Chris Bradshaw

BROADSIDE (George Mason University; Arlington, Virginia)
September 10, 2007

On the Web at:

Click on the image to go to the site.
Related Article:
Conference Attendees Questioned

Representatives from nearly 50 interfaith and human rights organizations across the country convened this weekend at the Arlington campus of George Mason University.

The event had multiple objectives: to strengthen networks, discuss advocacy strategies to increase public awareness of their cause and to put pressure on American politicians not to support policies that, according to them, continue to enable Israeli armed forces to occupy the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel seized these Palestinian territories after its victory in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The conference was hosted by the Mason Students for Justice in Palestine and financed by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

“SJP has a mission, like that of the USC, which is concentrated on educating our membership, and the GMU community at large, about the ongoing Israel and Palestine conflict,” said Bushra Nusairat, president of the SJP. “Our goal on this campus is to disseminate correct information about the plight of the Palestinian people and to be the voice of the underrepresented. We hope that this conference will enable us and other organizations to better understand how we can mobilize our membership, exchange resources, and create coalitions to better achieve our goals.”

Professor Richard Rubenstein, a professor of conflict resolution and public affairs with Mason’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, was invited to the conference to serve as moderator.

“It is a great honor to be here,” said Rubenstein in his opening statement. “I can’t welcome you officially on behalf of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, because my institute doesn’t endorse causes, even when many of us favor them. But I want to welcome you anyway, as myself, and give you a personal endorsement, for whatever it’s worth.

“Trying to understand conflict in the Middle East without recognizing that the [Israeli] occupation is a primary, if not the primary, cause of conflict in that part of the world is to go at variance with the principles of conflict resolution as I understand them.”

Rubenstein also stressed the importance of respecting the basic needs and rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.

“Peace does not come to any part of the world in which one side imposes a solution on the other.”

Friday’s opening session saw speakers from Canada’s largest union (CUPE), the Concerned Iowans for Middle East Peace, and the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. A full weekend of panels and lectures included a proposed framing of the Palestinian struggle as apartheid.

Joe Ruebner, the Master of Ceremonies and Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator of the USC, took time to praise Virginia Congressman Jim Moran for his numerous legislative efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people. The congressman was not present, but did offer a written statement:

“Peace between Israelis and the Palestinians is a moral imperative and strategic necessity our nation must pursue. That peace, however, will be out of reach until the Palestinian people are afforded a sovereign state.”

Following the reading of Moran’s statement, Ruebner announced his intention to have an award recognizing Moran’s efforts presented to him on Monday, when the conference will go to Capitol Hill to lobby for their cause.

In the weeks leading up to the conference, many pro-Israeli blogs and websites buzzed with outrage at Mason for permitting the conference to take place on their campus.

Lee Kaplan, a pro-Israeli blogger, argued that the USC’s real goal was not the liberation of Gaza and the West Bank, but the complete dissolution of all Israel. Kaplan, among others, tried to convince Mason not to host the conference, but was unsuccessful.

“We’d really like to thank the university for standing up for the principles of free speech,” said Ruebner.

Due to security concerns, additional campus police were on standby at the assembly. However, as of press time, there have been no reports of incidents breaking out, and no demonstrators even appeared at the conference.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


"Petitioners want food co-op to boycott Israeli products."

September 10, 2007

On the Web at:

What some people mistakenly viewed as an Ann Arbor co-op's plan to boycott Israeli-made products is actually the action of a small group of People's Food Co-op members to force a vote to have the items removed from the shelves.

"The co-op as a whole is not calling for this," said Kevin Sharp, the co-op's director of marketing and member services. "We have just under 6,000 owners and only a small group of members have initiated this petition drive."

Sharp said, "In our bylaws is the allowance for members to bring forth a referendum."

Because the co-op's bylaws do not specify what can and can't be highlighted in a referendum, issues that are not agreed upon by most members may be presented.

"So when co-op members who are also members of Boycott Israeli Goods came to the board asking for support of a boycott of Israeli items, they were told that in accordance with our bylaws, if they could gather signatures of 7 percent of the membership of the co-op on a petition, a vote on the issue would be forced."

Of the 1,000 signatures the group obtained, Sharp said less than half were from valid co-op members and the others were not counted. But the number of valid signatures was enough to force a vote.

A ballot box, placed in the store on Sept. 1, will remain for the entire month to collect votes. Only co-op members can vote. To be a valid referendum, 10 percent of members must participate, and a majority of those voting will determine whether there's a boycott, Sharp said.

"The co-op board has officially remained neutral on this," Sharp said. "And we are not in communication with this group at all."

The co-op has supported two boycotts in the past, with members voting overwhelmingly to support the United Farm Workers of America table grape boycott and to boycott non-dolphin safe tuna.

"These decisions went to a vote of our membership without petitions, because they were in alignment with our values," Sharp said.

Voting on the current boycott issue is open only to co-op members who joined before the end of July, to assure that individuals do not join for the purpose of voting - either for or against the boycott.


"Report: Israel plundering the Jordan Valley"

author Saturday September 08, 2007 21:01author by Adri Nieuwhof - The Electronic Intifada Report this post to the editors

On the Web at:

"Agrexco has become a target in international campaigns for a boycott of Israeli goods aimed at ending Israel's breach of international law and human rights. For example, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom protested in the warehouse of Carmel Agrexco in Middlesex on 15 July 2007."

Sunrise in the Jordan Valley
Sunrise in the Jordan Valley

Fruit and vegetable exporter Agrexco is fifty-percent owned by the Israeli state, and is responsible for the export of 60-70 percent of all settlement produce, including that from the Jordan Valley. The report "To exist is to Resist, Eye on the Jordan Valley" was recently published by MA'AN Development Center and the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. The report offers detailed information on the ongoing Israeli colonization of the highly fertile lands of the Jordan Valley. This article is based on the report and focuses on the illegal Israeli exploitation of the Jordan Valley.

Land grab at an unimaginable scale

The Palestinian Jordan Valley accounts for more than a quarter of the total area of the West Bank or about 2,400 square kilometers. Israel built three settlements in the Jordan Valley in 1968, and gradually increased the number of settlements for agricultural, industrial, military or religious purposes until the 1980s. Since the early 1990s the settlements expanded from 11 to 36, housing more than 6,200 settlers. The settlements occupy 1,200 square kilometers, or 50 percent of the Jordan Valley. Israel also controls 1,065 square kilometers (44 percent) of so-called closed zones like the border line, military bases and natural reserves. About 50 square kilometers of the Jordan Valley (two percent) are under combined Palestinian civil control and Israeli security control. The remaining 85 square kilometers in the area of Jericho and al-Uja, only 3.5 percent of Jordan Valley, fall under Palestinian control. Habitat International Coalition paints an even more sombre picture, where only 45 square kilometers, or two percent of the Jordan Valley, will remain for Palestinians. Furthermore, Ariel Sharon announced in 2003 that the Jordan Valley will be isolated from the West Bank by the construction of a wall of 300 kilometers. Currently only 52,000 Palestinians live permanently in the Jordan Valley, where the population once reached up to 350,000.

In 2005 the Israeli ministry of agriculture announced a two-year, 22 million USD program to double the number of settlers in the Jordan Valley by building new houses and the provision of grants for agricultural development. Settlers in the Jordan Valley enjoy privileges like free housing, 70,000 square meters of land per household, and a 20,000 US dollar long-term loan when they settle in the Jordan Valley. Settlers receive apart from this a 75 percent discount on electricity, utility, communication and transportation, and also free education, health care and irrigation water. Settlers can get their produce to the local markets within a few hours, including the Palestinian markets, and they can export to any country through Israeli companies like Agrexco.


In contrast, Palestinian land is confiscated for instance for "security" purposes, or because the land was not cultivated for three consecutive years, even if it was closed by military order. Palestinian buildings are demolished when they are situated outside Jericho and five other locations. Several Palestinian communities still have no access to electricity or utility. Communities in Israeli-controlled areas lack schools and health centers because building permits are refused. Palestinian farmers cannot export their produce freely, nor can they reach the local market easily because of the military checkpoints and closures. Under normal circumstances Palestinian farmers need three hours to get to the West Bank markets. To build packing houses close to their fields is not an option, because Palestinians never receive permission from the Israeli authorities to do so.

Since 2000 Israeli trucks have been prevented from going to Palestinian fields to pick up their trade. Instead, Palestinian farmers have to take their produce to Bardala-Bisan checkpoint crossing on the Green Line, where the load is emptied into Israeli trucks and delivered to Israeli markets. This led to an increase of transportation costs, which is not reflected in an increased price. The measures have led to a dramatic drop in trade, and an increase in the rate of unemployment to 21 percent in Jericho and Tubas districts. As a consequence the majority of the Palestinians in the Jordan Valley live under the poverty line.

Violation of Palestinian water rights

The Jordan Valley is very fertile, because of its access to water. Situated under the valley is the Eastern Water Basin, but Israel has severely limited the Palestinian use of water from this basin and allows the Palestinians to use 58 million cubic meters per year (40 percent of what is available). Besides, Palestinians are not allowed to use water from the Jordan River, which could provide 250 million cubic liters per year.

Since 1967 Israel as the occupying power has also isolated 162 agricultural wells, prohibiting Palestinians from using them. Israel also controls where wells are allowed to be placed, how deep they can drill and how much water can be pumped. As a result of the measures the settlers consume six times more water on their agricultural lands than Palestinians.

Settlements agricultural production flourishes

International humanitarian law prohibits Israel from transferring parts of its civilian population into the occupied Jordan Valley. The International Court of Justice urged the international community not to support settlements. Taking the privileges of the Jewish settlers in the Jordan Valley into account, it is no miracle that agricultural activities in the Jewish settlement are flourishing. The report offers a long list of products originating from the settlements in the Jordan Valley, mentioning dates, grapes, citrus fruit, bananas, cherries, melons, pomegranate, loquat, vegetables, onions, tomatoes, egg plants, corn and oat, medical herbs, spices, and flowers. Agrexco is one of the companies that exports the products to Europe.

Buying agricultural products from the settlements strengthens the Israeli economy at the cost of the Palestinian people and makes the occupation profitable.

--Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate.


Monday, September 10, 2007

U.S. Congressman states that the pro-Israel lobby pushed for the war in Iraq

"US aid to Israel clears Senate"

"Jerusalem Post"
Sept. 8, 2007

On the Web at:

"National Jewish Democratic Coalition (NJDC) Executive Director Ira Forman... issued a rare criticism of a Democratic representative, Jim Moran of Virginia.

"Moran reportedly told Tikkun Magazine that the pro-Israel lobby pushed for the war in Iraq, saying, 'AIPAC is the most powerful lobby and has pushed this war from the beginning … because they are so well organized, and their members are extraordinarily powerful - most of them are quite wealthy - they have been able to exert power.'

"Forman called on Moran to retract the 'irresponsible' and 'dangerous' false statements."


Sunday, September 9, 2007

"Why support a boycott of Israeli goods?"

by Sheri Wander

"Arbor Update"

(Ann Arbor, Michigan)

When I was a college student at one of the first “long term” campaigns I got involved with was around the issue of South African apartheid. Part of this involved pressuring the university to divest and all businesses where we thought we might have some voice to boycott any products of the apartheid regime.

Even as I put what felt like “a lot” of time into this, I wondered in my heart how much of a difference it would make. Would the people we tried to stand in solidarity with even know what we were doing – in the hardships that defined so much of their lives would they care?

Years later I had the privilege of hearing Bishop Desmond Tutu speak. I was so surprised and heartened to hear him express his thanks to those who worked to put pressure on the South African government to end apartheid. He mentioned (among other things) pressure for boycotts and divestment and said that in doing these things we gave the people hope.

Recently a dear friend had the opportunity to travel in South Africa. While there she toured Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela spent much of his 27 years in prison, along w/ other anti-apartheid leaders). The man who gave the tour was a former political prisoner himself and he too thanked those in the audience who had worked against apartheid, and he gave special thanks to those Americans in the group (not something we usually get to hear!) letting them know the work we did gave the prisoners hope.

It seems to me, supporting a boycott is a little thing – with so little effort on our end – for such an important result – for giving hope. It may not seem like much – giving hope. But we know that hope is power. And those that feel hopeless are more likely to turn to violence, to engage in actions that seem “not understandable”, and to lose their creative visions for the future.

So if support for a boycott is doable, and if it has a chance to make a difference, to my mind the question that remains is, is the comparison to South Africa an honest one? Is Israel an apartheid?

My own eyewitness and that of my colleagues who have traveled there tell me it is. Palestinian towns are cut off from each other by settlements, Israeli only roadways, and the separation wall. Road Blocks and check-points further restrict movement and work to humiliate Palestinians. One can also add to the list of similarities home demolitions, collective punishment, identity papers, and the racism that allows this.

But, it is not my words alone that I ask you to consider: those with far more knowledge of apartheid have seen the similarities… and have pointed them out for some time now. On December 4, 1997 Nelson Mandela speaking in Pretoria, South Africa noted: “The UN took a strong stand against apartheid and over the years and international consensus was built, which helped bring and end to this iniquitous system in South Africa. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Fellow anti-apartheid leader and Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu also commented “I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the holy land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” (BBC News April 29, 2002).

Former South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, often called “Architect of Apartheid” for his role in shaping the apartheid regime’s racial ideology and policies before his assassination in 1966, acknowledged “Israel, like South Africa is an apartheid State.” (Rand Daily Mail, November 23, 1961)

And finally, many of you are aware of former President Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid in which he makes note of the conditions Palestinians live under. On CNN Nov. 28, 2006 Carter pointed out “In the West Bank, in the occupied territories, a horrible example of apartheid is being perpetrated against the Palestinians who live there. Israel has penetrated and occupied, confiscated and colonized major portions of the territory belonging to the Palestinians.”

And, as I noted – it is not just the words of these others (many of whom I admire greatly) but my own observations and concern for justice for all people in the region that leads me to the acknowledgment that it is an apartheid system.

So, why boycott Israeli products? Because Israel is (I honestly believe) an apartheid state. Because apartheid is unjust and immoral. Because the system of apartheid and the racism inherent in it, hurts Palestinians, Israelis, and all who support it. Because a boycott just might let those working against this unjust system know they are not alone. Because, it might give someone hope.


Palestine demonstration against official Israeli participation in London soccer match:

Israel-England football demo

Medyan Dairieh
09.09.2007 01:06 | Palestine

Palestine Solidarity campaigners gathered outside Wembley stadium in London today (Sat 08/09/2007) where the Israeli national football team where playing England in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

Israel-England football demo
Israel-England football demo

Israel-England football demo
Israel-England football demo

Israel-England football demo
Israel-England football demo

Israel-England football demo
Israel-England football demo

Palestine Solidarity campaigners gathered outside Wembley stadium in London today (Sat 08/09/2007) where the Israeli national football team where playing England in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

300 demonstrators voiced their anger at a State, that they believe actively promotes apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, being allowed to play here. Meanwhile, it is alleged, the Palestinian national team is forced to stay at home due to Israel’s refusal to let them play abroad.

The protest was called by the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign in conjunction with Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG). The Boycott Israeli Goods campaign is responding to calls from Palestinian and Israeli campaigners for a boycott of apartheid Israel.

The demonstration was peaceful. One person was arrested for obstruction.

Medyan Dairieh
- e-mail:
- Homepage:

Saturday, September 8, 2007

"How can you starve one-and-a-half million Palestinians in Gaza?"

An article in YNet quotes Sheikh Raed Salah, speaking to thousands of Palestinian survivors of the 1948 invasion and occupation of Palestine, on September 7, 2007.

On the Web at:,7340,L-3447135,00.html

"I appeal to those of you who define themselves as the world’s conscience. How can you starve one-and-a-half million Palestinians in Gaza? Do you think your conscience is clear in light of the closure, siege, and starvation Israel is inflicting on Palestinians in the Strip through its terror, with the help of American terror?"


"The colonial mistake"

Mixing religion and politics was a colonial scheme that is now haunting the West, writes Ayman El-Amir*

On the Web at:

Since the the attacks of 11 September, terrorism has come to be identified with Islam. Whenever there is a plane crash, a train accident, a gas pipeline explosion or a university campus shooting, investigators first ask if it is an act of terrorism and secondly whether it is the work of Muslim fundamentalists. The definition is all- inclusive and it makes no distinction between attacks on school children in Moscow, hotels in Amman, a suicidal attack on a coalition force patrol in Afghanistan, a roadside bomb blast against US occupation forces in Baghdad, or a shootout with Israeli troops in occupied Palestine.

It even goes to the extreme of ostracising a majority government in occupied Palestine that has been elected according to the best tradition of Western liberal democracy. Differences have been completely blurred since the former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon tutored US President George W Bush that Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation was an integral part of the global attack on democracy and deserved to be included in Bush's global war on terrorism. Islamic extremists were painted as being behind it all.

The US and Israel adamantly fought against a definition of terrorism that excluded national resistance against foreign military occupation because it was contrary to Israeli designs for Palestinian land. The Bush administration distorted the standards of international law that were developed to legitimise armed resistance against Nazi Germany's military invasion and occupation of European territories. When, for ulterior colonialist motives, all national resistance is dubbed terrorism then all acts of terrorism assume the mantle of national resistance. International standards were converted to convenient national and even individual standards and both terrorism and the national liberation struggle were judged in the eye of the beholder. Thus the indiscriminate global war on terrorism, devoid of any collective international standards, is doomed and can only spawn a global war of terrorism. That is the prophecy of Russian President Vladimir Putin that he called "the curse of the 21st century."

Religious fundamentalism and the violence associated with it are no more exclusively Islamic than Jewish or Christian, as CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour demonstrated in her recent investigative series "God's Warriors". However, the historical background to modern fundamentalist terrorism should be traced back to medieval European inter-Christian, Catholic- Protestant wars, to the 200-year- long Crusades against Muslims of the Levant and to European colonialist expansion, of which Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine is the last vestige. Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the secular national liberation struggle that was often sustained by Marxist-Leninist ideology was replaced by the more powerful ideology of jihad against the Soviet infidels in Muslim Afghanistan. That strategy was developed jointly by Saudi Arabia and the US to defeat and expel the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. It marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. It also marked the blending of religion and politics into a lethal force. It is this force, in motley forms, that is now battling the US in Iraq, NATO in Afghanistan, the Israelis in occupied Palestine, foreign/ Western meddling in Lebanon, and the Russians in Chechnya.

The manipulation of religion to further political ends has been mastered by European kings, emperors and archbishops, and used as a justification for colonial expansion. The Crusades, which were incited and fuelled by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, were the beginning of a long and troubled relationship that persisted for almost 1,000 years between West and East. In mobilising an army of paid mercenaries to launch the first Crusade, the Pope granted absolution from all sins to those who may die in the battle for the Holy Land, or even while on the way to it -- a mediaeval concept of martyrdom. Religion was the rallying call of feudal European monarchies for colonial expansion. Today, it is the driving force for Muslims in their anti-colonial struggle to ward off foreign hegemony.

Of all colonial masterminds, no one perfected the use of religion to achieve large-scale colonial schemes like political Zionism. All colonial powers, with few exceptions, recognised at some point in history that they were part of a global scheme of military conquest and exploitation of foreign peoples and territories that was bound to come to an end. They never had any illusion about cultural affinity or shared values with the peoples they colonised or the lands they occupied. The Zionist movement in the mid-to-late 19th century, and in the 20th century, fused Judaism with political Zionism to create the large-scale colonial project for the settlement of Jews in the land of Palestine. Since, in the early 20th century, British-occupied East Africa was also considered as one of the options for a national homeland for the Jews, the project was more colonial than religious in nature. But the manipulation of religion for colonial purposes underlies the creation of a national home for Jews in the biblical land of Palestine as much as it justified the Crusaders conquest 900 years earlier. That is why fundamentalist Israeli Jews often cite the "biblical prophecy" and God's promise to His "chosen people" to assert that it was God who "gave us this land". Most Israeli leaders who later came to political prominence started off as members of terrorist Jewish organisations during the British mandate of Palestine. They murdered and terrorised both British and Palestinians in what they called a war of liberation. Nowadays, level-headed Jewish settlers admit that it is all about economic opportunity.

As much as there is fanatical religious fervour in Jewish claims to the Holy Land, and particularly Jerusalem, Zionism, in essence, has been a secular political and socialist movement. International conferences, initiatives and resolutions that sought to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as the peace treaties signed with Israel by Egypt and Jordan, were all of a political, not religious nature. Israeli negotiators at conferences talk about security concerns while their Arab counterparts put everything in the context of how international law treats occupied territories. When the former US president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had his historical meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Abdul- Aziz Ibn Saud aboard the SS Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal in 1945, one of his requests to cement US-Saudi partnership was for the king to use his influence to facilitate the settlement of Jews in Palestine. The king's answer was, "Give the Jews and their descendants the choicest lands and homes of the Germans who had oppressed them." He refused to cooperate.

Jihad was part of the doctrine of early Islam but Muslims were enjoined by the Quran to use it only to repel aggression or a threat of it, never to convert non-Muslims or colonise other countries. The doctrine went through various phases and interpretations over the centuries and one of them, which was called "the greater jihad", focussed on how to use it to rein in base human instincts. Maverick fundamentalist concepts are rife among many Muslim groups today and they entail many acts of unjustified, un-Islamic violence. But many would agree that it originated in Afghanistan through the manipulation of Muslim religious instincts as a potent weapon for political purposes -- to drive the Soviet Union out of that illegally occupied country in the interests of the US. It is now well documented that Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda and its followers evolved in Afghanistan. While different pseudo-religious groups continued to fight each other for control of the country after the departure of the Soviet army, with the Taliban ultimately gaining the upper hand, it is reasonable to believe that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 turned Islamic jihad (the concept, not the organisation) into a full-fledged anti-colonial movement, when entrenched Arab regimes failed to oppose or stop the invasion. Zealous jihadist Islam has now come back to haunt its instigators.

Similarly, the struggle against Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine will be a long drawn-out historical process. It has been intractable for decades because the protagonists of political Zionism had assimilated the lessons of four centuries of European colonial experience and the Palestinian Arabs were latecomers to the national liberation movement that blossomed in the 1940s and 1950s and reached its pinnacle in 1960. What political Zionism and the colonial West have yet to grasp is that the nationalist struggle has gained indomitable momentum when it was injected with fundamentalist religious fervour. Whether it is battled as religious fundamentalism or terrorism, the end is certainly not in sight yet.

* The writer is a former correspondent for Al-Ahram in Washington DC. He also served as director of the UN Radio and Television in New York.


Friday, September 7, 2007

The Edward Said mural at San Francisco State University

Above: This is the mural which the University finally agreed to allow, after long negotiations with Zionists. It will be displayed starting in November 2007 at the University.

Click on the mural to enlarge it.

Directly above: This is the mural which Palestine human rights activists fought to display at SFSU. It include Naji al-Ali's famous Palestinian boy, named Handala, holding the old 1948 key to the family home, back in Palestine.

Click on the mural to enlarge it.

An earlier petition against censorship of the Edward Said mural can be found here:


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Boycotts against Israel are breaking out--

"With boycott, stand up to Israel's abuses"

ANN ARBOR NEWS (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

September 6, 2007

On the Internet at:

"Your article of Aug. 30 - 'Proposed boycott of Israeli goods stirs controversy at co-op' - paraphrases an opponent of the boycott, Robert Oppenheimer, as saying that 'he has a photograph of Nazi storm troopers in 1933 boycotting his grandfather's shoe store in Cologne, Germany, and doesn't like the idea of boycotts in general.' I know and respect Oppenheimer, but I am a boycott proponent and a member of the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign.

"Like Oppenheimer, I am a Jew and my family has been deeply affected by the German Nazi regime, having lost many relatives to that government. I visited Palestine recently and I saw that what the Israeli troops were doing is close to what the storm troopers were doing in Oppenheimer's picture. Israeli troops (the Israel Defense Forces) were not merely blockading shops, but were bulldozing them to rubble, along with Palestinian homes, orchards, fields and roads.

"No one stood up to the abuses that my relatives went through, but what happened to them motivates me to try to stop the Israeli human rights abuses. A boycott of South African goods and institutions forced that country to change. I believe that a boycott of Israeli goods and institutions is a legitimate, nonviolent and effective way to promote changes needed in Israel to protect the rights of all the people in Israel and Palestine."

"--Sol B. Metz, Ann Arbor"


"People's Food Co-op is not all that divided"


September 4, 2007

On the Internet at:

"Boycotts are a time-honored and effective means of political activism. The international isolation of the Afrikaner regime of South Africa in trade, culture and sports was important in ending the scourge of apartheid.

"The state of Israel, like South Africa, enforces a fierce regime of separation and brutalization of the Palestinian Arabs living under its 40-year occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as President Jimmy Carter argued in his recent book.

"Israel also systematically discriminates against its own non-Jewish citizens. Unsurprisingly, Israel has become the focus of economic and cultural boycotts. The British higher education union has just approved a boycott of Israeli academia.

"The activists who have put the boycott on the agenda of the People's Food Co-op deserve praise for their efforts. Your story on Aug. 29 stated that the proposal has "divided'' the co-op, but also notes that 87 new members joined the co-op in July, up from the usual 40. Many of the new members "want to vote in September.''

"The boycott organizers were all members of the co-op (and probably most of their supporters). It appears the co-op is less "divided'' than under attack from the local Israel lobby."

"--Harry F. Clark, Ann Arbor"


"Israeli boycott group invites public to session"


September 3, 2007

On the Internet at:

"I write in behalf of Ann Arbor Boycott Israeli Goods (AA-BIG) about our campaign that led to the referendum on boycotting Israeli goods at the Ann Arbor People's Food Co-op.

"AA-BIG emphasizes Israel's flagrant violations of Palestinian human rights and the humanitarian crisis they have created in the West Bank and Gaza. We state, "A growing number of Americans believe what much of the world already sees, that Israel is pursuing a deliberate policy of expansion and ethnic cleansing which is creating an Apartheid-like situation, and that it will reverse this policy only if it is persuaded by outside pressure.''

"The co-op will join the international movement to support the Palestinians' nonviolent resistance to Israel's violent occupation if it boycotts Israeli products. Co-op members will vote on the boycott referendum Sept. 1 through 30, by mail or in the store.

"In preparation for the vote, AA-BIG will sponsor an information night on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Ann Arbor District Library, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and William Street. We will show Anna Baltzer's film 'Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories and Photos' followed by a discussion. Ms. Baltzer is a Jewish-American, and her film tells about her experiences working with the International Women's Peace Service, documenting human rights abuses and supporting nonviolent direct action in the West Bank. She gives a compelling, factual account of the situation in Palestine. We invite everyone to join us."

"--Linda L. Wotring, Ann Arbor"


"Film festival reverses Israel ban"

"A California film festival repudiated an announcement that it would ban Israeli movies.

"Jennifer Hsu, director of the San Diego Women's Film Festival, reportedly issued a statement supporting a ban on Israeli films during the festival, scheduled for the first week of October.

"But the board of directors of the San Diego Women's Film Foundation, which sponsors the festival, repudiated those remarks in a statement published on the foundation's Web site.

" 'We are pleased that the Film Foundation recognized the festival director's errant behavior and has moved expeditiously to correct the injustice of excluding Israeli filmmakers,' said Tad Seth Parzen, president of the American Jewish Committee's San Diego chapter.

"The board of directors apologized for Hsu's statement, which it said was made without the board's consent..."


And the campaign to divest from Israel has re-started at Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan: "

WSU Campus Debate:

"A forum for Wayne State University students to debate divestment from Israel."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Free Palestine! Contribute to the hottest topic on campus!

Web site:

"Last year, a vigorous debate arose on campus over the struggle for Palestine and what we can do in the US to support it. This year will be no different. Anti-Racist Action invites you to join the debate about this, the most pressing issue of our time.

"Last year, ARA demanded that the university divest all holdings from companies doing business with the state of Israel. We provided the university a unique and powerful opportunity to become the first institution of its kind in the United States to take such a stand. The university unfortunately refused.

"In order to promote dialogue regarding this crucial current event, ARA is once again raising the issue of divestment from Israel. Palestine must be free! Our case is simple and includes the following points..."


Zionists target university figures who speak on Palestine

"Middle East Tensions Flare Again in U.S."

On the Web at:

September 5, 2007

The academic year in the United States is opening with flare-ups of tensions over the Middle East, and specifically over scholars who write critically of Israel.

On Tuesday, the Middle East Studies Association released two letters protesting what the group considers to be serious violations of academic freedom. One concerns Norman Finkelstein, the DePaul University political scientist who was denied tenure in June and who has since been placed on a paid leave, with his classes called off and his office shut down. The other concerns the decision by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to call off a lecture by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, two scholars who have written a book that is harshly critical of the influence of Israel and its supporters on U.S. foreign policy.

Today, Finkelstein is expected to stage a protest over his situation by teaching the class that the university canceled and then going to his old office, from which he has been barred. Finkelstein has vowed to enter the office, even if that gets him arrested, in which case he says he will go on a hunger strike. (Update: On Wednesday, Finkelstein and the university announced a settlement. Details will appear tomorrow on this site.)

Meanwhile, at Barnard College, a tenure case that has been attracting attention since last fall is getting more intense (at least among those outside the college). Competing Web sites offer analyses of the work of Nadia Abu El-Haj, an anthropologist whose book that criticizes the use of archaeology by Israel has been praised by some and panned by others. A critic’s column this week that suggested that El-Haj’s status as a Palestinian was an important area of inquiry is being cited by Middle Eastern studies scholars as a sign of how ugly some of the debates have become.

In all the cases, there are claims and counterclaims. And the Middle East has of course long been a source of debate on American campuses. But to people with a range of views on the issues, it seems that this academic year is starting off with these disputes as tense as ever, with enough flashpoints to assure numerous conflicts.

“It seemed to me a year or so ago that things were getting a little better and the attack dogs were calmer, but now there is another spate of cases, of people up for tenure and advocating views,” said Zachary Lockman, a professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at New York University and president of the Middle East Studies Association. “There seems to be a new aggressiveness. Issues have surfaced that have given an opportunity for people to mobilize.”

Why there is so much tension this year is, not surprisingly, also a cause for debate. Critics of the professors being attacked say that it’s a question of exposing shoddy scholarship. Defenders of these professors say that critics are unwilling to let critics of Israel have a hearing on campuses, and that these critics have been emboldened by success. Last year, Juan Cole, a prominent figure in Middle Eastern studies who teaches at the University of Michigan, lost a chance for a position at Yale University. While details of the decision-making process have never been confirmed, it came after he had gained support at the departmental level but was the subject of much criticism on op-ed pages and in letters to Yale officials.

A Lecture Called Off

The canceled lecture in Chicago was just the latest of disputes involving the ideas of Mearsheimer and Walt, who hold endowed chairs, respectively, at the University of Chicago and Harvard University. They have a new book out, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, which argues that the United States alliance with Israel has not advanced U.S. interests in the Middle East and criticizes the way supporters of Israel influence Congress and the executive branch. The book is an expanded version of an essay they wrote last year, which was hailed as courageous by some and criticized as irresponsible by others.

As tenured professors at top universities, the authors don’t have to worry about job security. But they do seek audiences for their ideas and they were scheduled to talk this month at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. They were uninvited. The council has said that the reason is not fear of their ideas, but the belief that their ideas would be best explored in a program that would include “other perspectives.” According to the council, this was always the intent, and when people to oppose them could not be lined up, the event needed to be called off.

The letter from the Middle East Studies Association about the nixed talk calls the decision “a serious violation of the principles of free expression and the free exchange of ideas.” It notes that both authors have spoken at the council previously, without having anyone to oppose their views, and questioned why only when talking about their new book are they “subjected to the litmus test of ‘balance.’”

Laurie A. Brand, a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California who heads the association’s academic freedom committee, said the crucial point is the different treatment based on subject matter.

If a group wants to always have opposing views of speakers, that’s its right, she said. But to let some controversial people speak without opposition raises questions about this choice. “These are people who are prominent professors and then the council decided to withdraw the invitation, presumably because what they have to say is controversial. Part of what academic freedom is about is the ability to present new ideas, and they may be controversial. You don’t cancel someone’s presentation because you can’t find someone to counter it.”

The council’s schedule does in fact indicate that highly controversial figures do speak there frequently — without anyone in opposition. This week a lecture is scheduled by Bjorn Lomborg, famous and controversial for his “skeptical” view of the environmental movement. No one will oppose him at his talk.

Rachel Bronson, vice president for programs and studies at the council, said Lomborg’s talk was different because the Chicago group had previously had a panel discussion on the environment. She said that the claims of the Middle Eastern studies scholars were “unfounded” and that the group still planned to have a panel discussion featuring Walt and Mearsheimer. When “emotions run high” on certain topics, as she said was the case with their work, panel discussions are the best approach.

“We have a job to do. We provide interesting, stimulating panels to our members and the format is up to us. That’s how we view our job,” she said. Bronson said that doing so was more difficult when “this kind of barrage comes at us,” and she said that “outside pressure” from the Middle East Studies Association “makes this harder.”

Showdown at DePaul

The DePaul situation is also much in dispute. Finkelstein’s tenure denial followed a long, public debate over his qualifications, and the decision to stop his classes was highly unusual — drawing criticism from a number of academic groups. While DePaul hasn’t explained the latter decision, an article in the Chicago Tribune noted concerns about “threatening and discourteous behavior” — concerns that have been much disputed by backers of Finkelstein.

The letter from the Middle East studies scholars released Tuesday does not take a formal stand on the tenure decision, but raises two other issues. First, it calls it “unacceptable” that Finkelstein does not have a venue to appeal the denial, calling the lack of an appeal an “arbitrary and unjust” system.

Second, it questions the decision to place Finkelstein on leave, which is setting up today’s expected confrontation. The letter to DePaul states: “It is customary to permit faculty who have been denied tenure to teach for one final year. Your administration’s abrupt decision to prevent Professor Finkelstein (who is by all accounts an outstanding teacher) from doing so, without his agreement and despite strong objections from members of your own faculty and student body, strikes us as high-handed, if not vindictive.”

Brand stressed that it was the violation of academic norms that raised questions about the case, not whether the faculty members agreed or disagreed with Finkelstein’s take on the Middle East. Tenure decisions, she said, should be based on the quality of scholarship and teaching, not “someone’s opinions on Israel.”

A number of prominent professors, generally of the left (Howard Zinn, Derrick Bell, Richard Delgado and others, some of them quite controversial themselves, such as Ward Churchill) have issued calls to back Finkelstein. One such call says his treatment amounts to “a fundamental threat to the intellectual ferment and critical thinking so desperately needed — in academia and in society — at this time in history.”

Some at DePaul say that the statements about the impact of the case have been overstated. Jonathan Cohen, a professor of mathematics at the university, said that there is no shortage of criticism of Israel on the campus — and that most such discussion doesn’t cause much of a stir. He said one would be “hard pressed” to prove that people who criticize Israel aren’t welcome to share their views on the campus. It was not the substance of criticism, he said, but the style that got Finkelstein into trouble, he noted. Indeed, the decisions to reject Finkelstein for tenure talked about his style, and said that it did not reflect the university’s values of promoting civilized discussions.

While Cohen is not bothered by the decision in the case, he argued that the university should have challenged Finkelstein’s scholarship on substantive grounds. “I feel like there were issues about his scholarship that were real — such as where do you draw a line between advocacy and scholarship,” he said. Cohen also said that there is a problem with Finkelstein’s research (and with the book by Walt and Mearsheimer) of “serious things being omitted” from the work.

Had DePaul evaluated the quality of Finkelstein’s scholarship, instead of talking about tone, Cohen said that the university might not be accused today of infringing on academic freedom. Many supporters of academic freedom, and scholarly and faculty associations, warn that discussions of tone frequently mask discomfort with controversial ideas. “The way they worded it led them into this mess,” Cohen said.

There’s no telling what will happen today, when Finkelstein has vowed to reclaim his office. A spokeswoman for DePaul said that there were no special plans for security on the campus.

Lobbying at Barnard

The Middle East Studies Association notably did not issue a letter about the case of Nadia Abu El-Haj, the assistant professor of anthropology who is up for tenure and who has not commented on the debate that has been going on over her tenure bid. According to Brand, the academic freedom committee asked El-Haj if she wanted it to examine her case, and she declined, saying that outside letters would not be appropriate at this time. Outside commentary, however, continues to arrive.

Unlike Finkelstein, Walt or Mearsheimer, El-Haj has not been been seeking to be a public intellectual on the Middle East and the controversy concerns a book she wrote about Israeli archeology. The book, Facts on the Ground, was published by the University of Chicago Press and has received some kind reviews and some harsh ones.

When the controversy started, Barnard’s president, Judith Shapiro, appealed to alumnae to let the normal tenure process proceed. She argued that the use of outside reviewers in El-Haj’s field was the best way to evaluate her scholarship (just as such reviewers are used in other tenure cases). She also expressed “concern about communications and letter-writing campaigns orchestrated by people who are not as familiar with Barnard as you are, and who may not be in the best position to judge the matter at hand.”

Since then, opponents of El-Haj have gathered hundreds of signatures urging Barnard to deny her tenure, while others have published refutations of the criticisms of her book.

Many in Middle Eastern studies have been particularly alarmed by a recent column by Shulamit Reinharz, a Barnard alumna who is a professor of sociology at Brandeis University and wrote about her decision to skip her reunion and her concerns about El-Haj. Much of the column is similar to other criticism of El-Haj’s scholarship, but one paragraph in particular is drawing attention.

Reinharz writes: “According to information on the Web, El-Haj is a Palestinian. I was unsuccessful in my efforts to find exactly where she was born, a topic that interested me because I am not sure if she identifies as a Palestinian as a consequence of being born in what some people now call Palestine or because she identifies with Palestinians and was born elsewhere. I couldn’t find the facts.”

In an interview, Reinharz said that this was a legitimate question to ask. “She makes a point of calling herself a Palestinian scholar so I was curious about why she did that. The word Palestinian is a contested term,” Reinharz said. “There is no country yet called Palestine so I didn’t know what she meant by that.” She added that “people who call themselves palestinian garner sympathy for the Palestinian cause, and this is a book that is an attack on Israeli archaelology so I thought maybe it was relevant.” She stressed that she wasn’t inquiring about El-Haj’s religious beliefs, just what she meant by Palestinian.

“It’s not racism, it’s curiosity,” she said.

But others see this as the latest sign of how bitter the debates have become.

Lockman of NYU, called the comments “slimy” and said “I find it incredibly offensive to question someone’s place of birth or nationality.” Noting that he is Jewish, Lockman said it was inconceivable that a professor would publish a column critiquing another professor’s scholarship and devote a paragraph to wondering about what that professor meant about being Jewish. “People would acknowledge that as outrageous,” he said.

“Her origin is irrelevant to her scholarship,” Lockman said. “It’s clear people are pulling out all the stops.”

Scott Jaschik


“Reinharz writes: “According to information on the Web, El-Haj is a Palestinian. I was unsuccessful in my efforts to find exactly where she was born, a topic that interested me because I am not sure if she identifies as a Palestinian as a consequence of being born in what some people now call Palestine or because she identifies with Palestinians and was born elsewhere. I couldn’t find the facts.”

One does not need to substitute Jew for Palestinian or be a Palestinian or a Jew or even have a dog in the Middle East studies fight to be frightened by these kind of statements.

bioscience, at 6:20 am EDT on September 5, 2007


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ballot announced for "Boycott of Israeli Products", by People's Food Co-op

From the People's Food Co-op Web site, at:


Ballot PDF

Click on the link below to open the document titled "Referendum ballot 2007.pdf"

Print the ballot, fill it out completely and drop it off at the store or mail it in an envelope to:

People's Food Co-op

216 N. Fourth Ave.

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

attn: Ballot

Please allow enough time for mailed ballots to reach the store on or before Saturday September 29 (no mail service on Sunday September 30). Click here for the ballot

In order to print the ballot you must have Adobe Reader installed. To install Reader, click the link below:

Voting Procedures

Voting on this referendum will take place Saturday September 1st — Sunday September 30 2007.

Ballots are available in the store, or on this site above


Boycott of Israeli Products

Shall the People's Food Co-op declare that its official policy will be to boycott all Israeli goods until the Palestinian people themselves call off the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel, as represented on the Campaign's Web site,, to the maximum extent allowed by our legal and financial counsel? AND during such a boycott, Shall the People's Food Co-op purchase no goods made, grown, or originated in Israel or in Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank, to the maximum extent allowed by our legal and financial counsel?

Opposing Viewpoints

Why a PFC Co-op Humanitarian Boycott of Israeli goods?

The Palestinian people, with the support of Jewish and Israeli peace groups, labor unions, churches, and social justice organizations, are urging the international community to boycott Israeli products to show their resistance to Israel's military occupation of Palestinian lands (

Such a humanitarian boycott is a time-honored peaceful protest against state violence and repression.

An international boycott contributed to ending Apartheid in South Africa. A new international boycott similarly may help end the suffering caused by the Israeli occupation, which violates Palestinians' human rights and creates severe humanitarian crises:

1.The Israeli military instills a climate of fear and violence. According to the Israeli human rights center, B'Tselem, the IDF has killed over 4,000 Palestinians and injured over 30,000 just since Septem- ber 2000. Nearly a fourth of these were children. Over 10,000 Palestinian men, women and children are enduring lengthy incarceration, often without due process (;

2.Human rights violations by the Israeli government include demolishing thousands of Palestinian homes, uprooting Palestinians' olive trees, diverting their water, and constructing the Apartheid Wall within Palestinian territory (condemned by the International Court of Justice). Israel is building illegal, Jewish-only settlements with a network of settlers' roads that further fragment Palestinian lands, violating UN Resolution 242 and the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 1. Over 65 UN resolutions have cited Israel's violations of human rights and UN mandates.

3.The Israeli military deprives Palestinians of freedom of movement. It confines them within their towns and villages and obstructs the few roads they are permitted to use with blockades and hundreds of checkpoints, where they suffer harassment and humiliation. These restrictions of movement are causing economic collapse, malnutrition, stress, and even loss of life because they separate Palestinians from hospitals, farms, jobs, and much-needed water, as well as from their families and places of worship. The humanitarian crisis is now acute.

Israel, like all nations, has security concerns. However, control through violence and the threat of violence will never resolve these disputes over land, water and human rights. In fact, the violent repression of Palestinians arouses anger throughout the world, fomenting resentment and instability that imperil Israel. Agreements reached through negotiations and international peacekeeping measures are needed to resolve the impasse.

A growing number of Americans believe what much of the world already sees: a) Israel is pursuing a deliberate policy of expansion and ethnic cleansing that is creating an Apartheid-like situation, and b) It will reverse this policy only if it is persuaded by outside pressure.

The US taxpayer underwrites these violations through billions of dollars granted annually to Israel. Support for the boycott is a small gesture an individual Co-op member can make for human rights and justice.

Coop members may terminate the boycott by voting in a future referendum initiated by members or the board. The current referendum states a Palestinian role, but members may make this decision through a future ballot measure, as provided in the co-op bylaws.

The boycott upholds the Co-op's key values of "integrity and social responsibility" and its call for "mutually supportive relationships among members of the global community." The Co-op is committed to "environmental responsibility and a sustainable community for all" — a goal at odds with Israel's ongoing ecological, human, and infrastructure degradation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Co-op supports better working conditions for growers in developing countries, as with its support for Fair Trade. In joining the humanitarian boycott, the Co-op will join unions' call for freedom and humane working conditions for Palestinian farmers and workers. A stand on these principles can build and strengthen Co-op membership.

The Co-op will be one of many organizations that support this growing international movement including Britain's largest trade union; its academic, journalists, and public employees unions; the World Council of Churches; Jewish Voice for Peace; Not in My Name; Global Exchange; Human Rights Watch; Jews for a Just Peace-Europe & Canada; Congress of South African Trade Unions; Gush Shalom-Israel; War on Want; Canadian Public Employees Union; Boycott Israeli Goods-Ireland, England, Scotland; US Green Party; Sisters of Mercy; Maryknoll Sisters; Anglican, Episcopal & Methodist Synods & Assemblies; Presbyterian Church-US; United Church of Christ; Veterans for Peace; National Lawyers Guild; Women in Black-Los Angeles; WILPF-Canada; and many others.
— Ann Arbor B.I.G (Boycott Israeli Goods) Campaign

"Call for the Suspension of the Israeli national team from International Football"

From the Web site of the "Boycott Israeli Goods" (BIG) Campaign, which was launched in the House of Commons on the 4th July 2001.

Full article at:

"Demonstrate 3pm - 5pm Sept 8th [2007] against the England-Israel Euro 2008 Qualifier at Wembley"

"England will be playing against Israel in a Euro 2008 qualifier on Saturday 8 September in London at Wembley

"The Boycott Israeli Goods campaign and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods will be organising actions in London in support of a sporting botcott of Apartheid Israel. We are also calling on groups to organise their own actions. There will be a vigil at Wembley in the two hours preceding the match.

Flyer for the Day of Action (PDF) ...

"Why Boycott Israel?"

"The Palestinian people are experiencing their fortieth year of military occupation. The siege by the Israeli army and the economic blockade have devastated their daily lives so that 'normal' life is impossible.

"Israel operates an entrenched system of racial Apartheid against its own non-Jewish inhabitants and has been illegally occupying Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights since 1967. It has sought to further annex these lands and has systematically transferred its own civilian population into these occupied territories in contravention of international law. Israel continues to build the illegal Apartheid wall, annexing vast swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank and creating Palestinian ghettos, despite the ruling of the International Court of Justice that it is illegal.

"180 Palestinian organisations and unions, in response to Israeli onslaught, have called for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel. "


Saturday, September 1, 2007

International Boycott against Israel is Urged

"Palestinians Poorer Than Ever"

By David Cronin

On the Web at:

Inter Press Service News Agency (Rome)
September 1, 2007

BRUSSELS, Aug 31 (IPS) - Poverty in the Palestinian territories has reached "unprecedented levels" because they have been held under an "economic siege" for almost seven years, a United Nations body has found.

During 2006 the number of Palestinians living in 'deep poverty' almost doubled to more than 1 million. Some 46 percent of public sector employees do not have enough food to meet their basic needs, with 53 percent of households in the Gaza reporting that their incomes declined in the last year by more than half.

This data is contained in a report, released Aug. 30, by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

It stated that an ostensible Israeli policy of 'separating' the Palestinian authorities from Arab and world markets by restricting the movement of people and goods has "squeezed the economy to a size smaller than a decade ago."

The Palestinians' reliance on imports as a proportion of their gross domestic product rose to 86 percent last year -- up from 75 percent in 2005, equating to the loss of 500 million dollars to the economy.

UNCTAD also complained that Israel declined to hand over more than 800 million dollars in tax revenues it had purportedly collected for the Palestinian Authority during 2006. Because of this refusal -- the second since 2002 -- the authorities' revenues shrank to under 600 million dollars, half what they were in 2005.

The report's publication coincided with a UN-sponsored conference on resolving the Middle East conflict in Brussels.

Controversially, the conference, which featured campaigners from the international Palestinian solidarity movement, was described as anti-Israel in some press reports.

Yet this allegation was dismissed by Paul Badji, a Senegalese diplomat who chairs the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. "It is not anti-Israel to defend the rights of Palestinians," he said.

Leila Shahid, delegate general of Palestine to the European Union, reminded the conference that it is 40 years since Israel began "the longest occupation in contemporary history."

Delivering a statement on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, she said that by setting up 550 permanent and mobile checkpoints, Israel has turned the West Bank into "a group of isolated cantons, while over 11,000 Palestinians, including elected representatives and municipal council members, languish in prison, and targeted assassinations continue."

Pierre Galand from the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine said he did not believe that the U.S. President George W. Bush and his administration could "do peace a favour by granting 30 billion dollars of military aid to Israel, an increase of about a quarter of the American military aid to the Israeli state for the next ten years.

"We do not believe either that Germany aided peace in the Middle East when delivering in August 2006, during the war against Lebanon, two submarines with nuclear capacity and a 4,500 km radius of action," he added.

But Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, welcomed efforts by Washington to convene a Middle East peace conference.

"There is no question that the U.S. is a very powerful country and very influential in our region," he told IPS. "Therefore, its participation in brokering a conference for the autumn could possibly be very constructive. It could help to get all the parties to the conflict to move in the right direction."

Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign in Jerusalem, strongly denounced the 760 km 'security fence' that Israel has been constructing in the West Bank. This barrier is being constructed in defiance of the International Court of Justice. In 2004, the Hague-based court declared that the wall flouted international law by infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.

"What Israel is creating on the ground is a ghetto system worse than the apartheid system in South Africa," Juma said.

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions pointed out that both South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have drawn parallels between the plight of the Palestinians and that of their country's black majority under apartheid.

She urged an international boycott of Israel similar to that which led many governments to impose economic sanctions against South Africa during the 1980s.

Clare Short, the former secretary for international development in the British government, said that Israel has razed 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and that "each demolition is a war crime."

Short noted that a free trade agreement between Israel and the European Union contains clauses relating to respect for human rights. She asked why these provisions have not been invoked "to insist on Israeli compliance with international law."

New York-based Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a spokesman for Jews United Against Zionism, said that the conduct of Israeli forces in the Palestinian territories is helping foment anti-Semitism. He also took issue with Israeli politicians who cite the Holocaust to defend attacks on Palestinians, which they claim are necessary to protect Israel's security.

"The state of Israel is not doing Jews a favour," he told IPS. "My grandparents died in Auschwitz and it is wrong to dig them up and use them to oppress the Palestinian people. They should not be used as a pawn."


Letter from Ann Arbor Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign (AA-BIG)

Published in the "Arab American News", Sept. 1-7, 2007, on page 11.
On the Web at--

Click on image to enlarge it.