Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boycott Apartheid Israel, at People's Food Co-op:


Below, you can click on the "Play" symbols, to see and hear the video:

The People's Food Co-op held a membership vote, to boycott all Israeli products, in September 2007, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

That boycott vote was marred the Co-op Board's refusal to allow observers.

The Board then refused to release ballot results for 9 long days.

During the entire voting period, the Board had left a very small, flimsy ballot box largely unattended for the 30 days and nights of voting. Now the Board claims the Boycott-Israel vote has failed.

The Board refuses to allow a re-vote and a re-count, under transparent conditions, with observers, and with a secure ballot box.

The next Co-op Board meeting will be held at 6:30 PM, this coming Thursday, November 8, 2007. The meeting location is at the Ann Arbor District Library, located at the intersection of Fifth and William, downtown. The meeting will be up in the 4th floor conference room of the library.


Zionists seek "to legitimize the cleansing of Gaza by military means and prepare the political justification for its imminent execution."

"Solidarity for Survival:
"A Call to Stop Ethnic Cleansing and the Imminent Assault on Gaza"

by Kali Akuno
National Organizer, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Monday, October 2, 2007

Full article reprinted on the Web at:

Originally published by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, at:

The Question:

Are the revolutionary and progressive movements in the US going to sit idly by and wait for the Zionists and imperialists to raze Gaza to the ground? Or are we going to take preventative action to stop the genocidal assault being so thoroughly planned (and executed) right in front of our eyes?

What is at Stake?

The US Left, and all of its national and social sectors, must be clear about what Palestine represents in the capitalist world-system today.

Palestine is the barometer of the extent to which imperialism is willing to go to in the present era to liquidate the struggles for national liberation. In Palestine, particularly since the elections of January 2006, we see the overall political and financial commitment of imperialism to crush any movement that threatens the political integration and homogenization now required for capital accumulation.

Where white supremacy, colonial occupation, capitalist patriarchy, mass incarceration, and economic strangulation are not enough to either contain or destroy the national consciousness and anti-colonial sentiments, ethnic cleansing and genocide are now wholly justifiable and permissible options for imperialism.

This is what is happening to Palestine, specifically to the people and political forces in Gaza being deprived of electricity, water, medical aid and supplies, and food by the Zionist occupying forces.
The recent designation of Gaza as an "enemy entity", with the full backing and encouragement of their US masters (see the statement of the Israeli Security Cabinet on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007 during a visit of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: ), seeks to legitimize the cleansing of Gaza by military means and prepare the political justification for its imminent execution.

It should go without saying that given Palestine's preeminent position amongst the anti-colonial struggles of the world that if imperialism is able starve and cleanse Gaza in order to liquidate its liberation movement, either in whole or in part, the prospects for the remaining national liberation struggles, either less well-known or developed (ex. the New Afrikan and Puerto Rican liberation movements against US colonialism, the Basques, the Kurds, and countless 1st Nation or Indigenous Peoples), to attain self-determination and independence will be seriously compromised, if not practically extinguished for the foreseeable future.

If there ever was a time for the US Left to devise its own "preemptive" action plan that time is now. Considering what is at stake for the Palestinians and oppressed peoples all over the world, the US Left cannot allow its internal confusions and aversions about the various national liberation and social movements currently at play in the world to come in the way of defending the human rights of the Palestinian people as they did in the case of Haiti and the Lavalas Movement in February 2004.

Our varying positions on Hamas and its tactics of resistance to Zionist occupation should in no way prevent us, in our totality, from trying to prevent the wanton destruction and wholesale massacre being planned for Gaza.

A Call to Action:

To avert ethnic cleansing and wholesale destruction in Gaza, the US Left must act and act decisively. Recent precedent exists for such action in the example of the massive mobilizations carried out January 2002 through March 2003 to stop the US invasion of Iraq. What is, and has historically been missing in the case of the Palestine is the lack of political clarity and will amongst considerable segments of the white Left to confront Zionism and its supporters. This crisis demands that this limitation be overcome immediately – least the US Left be held complicit for this pending massacre.

Given the recent retreat on Palestine by the likes of forces like ANSWER, which has traditionally held one of the strongest stances on Palestine amongst the predominant anti-war coalitions, and the historical weaknesses of the white left to deal with issues of racism and national oppression, it is not likely that initiative on this struggle will come from these forces.

Leadership for this initiative must come from the oppressed nationalities contained in the US (as rightfully it should, as ultimately we are and will be our own liberators) to move and advance the stance and agenda of the entire US Left. In the spirit of solidarity and mutual aid, this is a call imploring Afrikan (i.e. the Afrikan Anti-Zionist Front needs to be reignited), Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and 1st Nation organizations and peoples to organize and mobilize in support of the Palestinian people against ethnic cleansing and genocide in Gaza.

To prevent this impending crime against humanity, we must educate our forces about this impending danger and ask of them that they take action by conducting teach-in's, rallies, marches, direct actions, and boycotts that confront Zionist interests and those of their political and financial supporters here in the US.

A national day of action, I also firmly believe is necessary, calling on all of the forces of the US Left, in November or December of 2007 to send a clear message to the Bush regime, the Zionists, and imperialists to let them know the world is watching and won't tolerate ethnic cleansing and genocide anywhere.

For more information visit or email .


Detroit demonstration against Israeli aggression, 2006:

Click on image to enlarge it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Michigan Daily editors--

" 'Overcoming Zionism' argues that the ideology of Zionism amounts to 'state-sponsored racism' "...

"Start the presses:

"University Press's wavering is inexplicable and inexcusable"

MICHIGAN DAILY (University of Michigan; Ann Arbor)
Signed editorial

Published on October 30, 2007

On the Web at:

The University of Michigan Press is supposed to be devoted to publishing books that "contribute to public understanding and dialogue about contemporary political, social, and cultural issues." Sometimes that means defending controversial books, and it doesn't get much more controversial than the Israeli-Palestinian debate.

Unfortunately, in deciding whether to continue distributing Bard College Prof. Joel Kovel's book, "Overcoming Zionism" and whether or not to renew its contract with the book's publisher, Pluto Press, the University Press undermined all of its supposed values. Although the University Press made the right decisions in the end, along the way it wavered on its commitment to protecting academic debate and cowered behind decisions that lacked any transparency.

Not everyone will or should agree with Kovel's book. Printed by Pluto Press, a Leftist independent publisher based in Britain, "Overcoming Zionism" argues that the ideology of Zionism amounts to "state-sponsored racism," which is incompatible with democracy. The book goes further to say that in order to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Zionism must be rejected in favor of a secular, single-state, democratic solution.

As criticisms of the book surfaced, the University Press balked at defending its reasoning for distributing the book. Instead, last August, the press's director, Phil Pochoda, decided to halt distribution, simply citing "serious questions raised by several members of the University community about the book." In other words, some people objected to a controversial book, and the press, rather than defending the principles it exists to serve, simply backed down.

There is no doubt that some people will have objections to Kovel's contentions, but is there any reason besides complacency and cowardice that those contentions should not be presented into the debate? The book has received its fair share of support, too - from historian Howard Zinn, for example. While people may not agree with the content of the book, it does add to the debate, and it is exactly the type of book the University Press should print.

A month after stopping distribution of the book, the University Press's executive board actually reviewed the book and decided to resume distribution. However, the controversy surrounding this particular book continued and the University Press considered whether it should continue to distribute books printed by Pluto in the future. While the University Press did ultimately announce its decision to renew its contract with Pluto late last week, it waited several days before releasing its decision, continuing to hide from the controversy.

The University Press should have never stopped the distribution of Kovel's book in the first place, and the decision to continue distributing Pluto Press's books should have never been questioned. For all the high-minded defense of academic debate, the true test is what we do under pressure, and the University Press proved unable to live up to its ideal.

When criticisms of this book emerged, the University needed to visibly defend the author's right to make a well-informed but controversial argument. If the University Press feels that a certain book is so hateful that it must be censored, such a decision still should only be made after a careful review like the one in September - not simply by the knee-jerk reaction of any one person. Pochoda should never have been allowed to stop distribution without a reasonable explanation. Why should he be able to work against the values of our institution as a whole? His brash decision may have been a mistake, and it damages our University's reputation as a staunch champion of free and open debate.

If the University Press hopes to uphold its own values and those of the institution it is named for, it will often have to defend controversial books. It can't choose to selectively duck that responsibility.

--Editorial Board Members: Emad Ansari, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Robert Soave, Gavin Stern, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa


"...a potent accusation—the new apartheid—to rally support for the growing anti-Israel boycott."

Apartheid issue--

Cover of the September-October 2007 issue


Toronto, Canada

On the Web at:

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What indie media is for

Editor’s note by Jessica Johnston [Read more]

A dramatic revival

Amidst the rubble of a West Bank refugee camp, creativity and self-expression take centre stage at the Freedom Theatre, a place where Palestinian kids experience something they see little of: hope
By Richard A. Johnson [Read more]

Friends ’til the end

The Christian right’s support for Israel can not be taken as support for Jews. In reality, anti-Semitism lies at the heart of Christian Zionism and more Jewish leaders should loudly denounce it
By Jesse Rosenfeld [Read more]

“Tear down that wall!”

Activists demanding a better fate for Palestinians have chosen a potent accusation—the new apartheid—to rally support for the growing anti-Israel boycott. Their belief: what forced change in South Africa can provoke change in the Middle East. But it may not be that easy—or that simple
By Sue Ferguson [Read more]

Encounters in Jerusalem

Portraits of a city at prayer
Photo essay by Ethan Eisenberg [Read more]

Birthrights (and wrongs)

Personal revelations on the road to Israel
By Peter Trainor [Read more]


“Tear Down That Wall!”

Activists demanding a better fate for Palestinians have chosen a potent accusation—the new apartheid—to rally support for the growing anti-Israel boycott. Their belief: what forced change in South Africa can provoke change in the Middle East. But it may not be that easy-or that simple

BY Sue Ferguson
Photography by Reuters: Reinhard Krause

Imagination. Creativity. Inspiration. Three words to stir the soul crown the towering windows of Toronto’s flagship Indigo bookstore. At ground level, shoppers pass in and out of wood-framed glass doors, navigating planters and benches intended to create a friendly, front-porch sort of welcome. They take little notice as, on the sidewalk beyond, two women unfurl an off-white canvas banner. Printed on one side are another three words, less poetic perhaps than the store’s motto, but the intended effect is just as moving: Boycott Chapters/Indigo.

No, the protest is not a last-ditch attempt by independent booksellers to draw the literate back into their fold. Rather, the activists—11 have turned up on this Friday in April, the fi rst truly warm day of spring—are taking a page from a much larger book. They are members of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA), a network of Palestinian rights, Jewish peace and socialist groups doing their part to promote an international boycott campaign against Israel. They compare themselves to the early voices against South African apartheid, and history, they believe, can repeat itself: If international pressure could help rescue South Africa from apartheid, the same can be true for Israel.

Indigo picketer and Holocaust survivor Suzanne Weiss greets approaching pedestrians at the corner of Bloor and Bay streets, “Have a bookmark.” Weiss is handing out rectangular pieces of cardstock. Printed on each are the logos of Chapters, Indigo and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with the words “Partners in Apartheid” beneath. Flip it over and a short statement explains why Indigo Books and Music is the coalition’s fi rst and most prominent target: Two years ago, the chain’s founder and CEO, Heather Reisman, and her husband, Gerry Schwartz, chairman and CEO of Onex Corporation, launched the Heseg Foundation for lone soldiers. About 6,000 lone soldiers-so-called because they have no family living in Israel-serve in the Israeli army. Heseg (Hebrew for “achievement”) awards 100 scholarships each year to those who, after completing service, want to remain and study in Israel. Reisman and Schwartz donate $3 million a year to the cause.

The impetus behind such generosity? “We are a family,” Schwartz announced to the scholarship’s first recipients in December 2005. “As Jews who live outside of Israel, I can tell you that family extends to so many nations around the globe... and you’re here not just for yourself, or just for the State of Israel, you are here protecting the freedom of Jews around the world.”

Schwartz, Reisman and the lone soldiers share a deep commitment to political Zionism—a variant of the Jewish religious doctrine advocating pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Born of hundreds of years of anti-Semitism, the 19th century doctrine holds that only a nation-state, Israel, can guarantee Jews freedom from persecution. It follows then, that for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, an attack on Israel, whether physical or ideological, is tantamount to an attack on the very right of Jews to exist.

Outside Indigo, the protesters—mostly older Jewish peaceniks and socialists—could not be easily mistaken for anti-Semites. And although one participant, jazz composer Charnie Guettel, says she senses “a turning point in consciousness,” she acknowledges some passersby are contemptuous and hostile. Most people, however, ignore them. Fair enough. Eleven protesters on a downtown Toronto sidewalk doesn’t look much like a revolution, but they are part of a broader movement gaining momentum and commanding attention on the world stage.

In July 2005, 171 Palestinian community organizations issued a joint call for international action to isolate Israel. The resulting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has since migrated from a loose but committed group of artists, intellectuals and political activists to churchgoers, unions and professionals in an impressive array of countries. British, Israeli and South African newspapers are keeping a close eye on its activities and, recently, criticism of Israel and the idea of international trade sanctions have found a hearing in loftier, more powerful bodies—in parliaments in Europe, the UK and South Africa. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has also weighed in, lending credibility to the movement’s contentious analogy with his 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The moment, say activists, is ripe for action. The ever-intensifying strife in the West Bank and Gaza reminds the world almost daily of the international community’s failure to hammer out a workable peace accord. But recent moves by Israel-the widely condemned bombing of Lebanon last summer and the construction of a 730 km wall physically breaking up Palestinian homes and communities-are pushing some (including a healthy contingent of liberals in the Jewish Diaspora) to sharpen their criticism. For many today, Israel is less likely to symbolize the helping hand of the liberator, than the fist of the oppressor.


On the ground, the BDS campaign is simmering, both in Canada and abroad, where it focuses on academic links to Israeli universities, supermarkets selling Israeli produce, and mining, telecommunications and other hi-tech companies with links to Israel. Labour endorsements include COSATU, South Africa’s 1.8-million strong trade union coalition, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (which passed the motion “to actively and vigorously promote a policy of divestment” without any internal opposition), Britain’s 800,000 members of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, Britain’s National Union of Journalists and CUPE Ontario’s 200,000 members.

A heated debate inside British universities and colleges resulted in a national faculty union voting to condemn “the complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation,” and to “actively encourage and support branches to create direct links with Palestinians’ educational institutions.” (Opponents of the initiative cite academic freedom, pointing out that the Israeli professoriate includes some of the regime’s most trenchant critics.)

Similar wrangling in ecumenical circles has led a number of churches (including the United Church of Canada) to condemn Israeli treatment of Palestinians, while in the U.S., the Presbyterian Church’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee is targeting such corporations as Citigroup, Motorola and Caterpillar for dealing with Israel. On the cultural front, John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Ken Loach and Brian Eno head a long list of artists and intellectuals speaking up against Israeli policies. And a letter published in the April 21, 2007, Guardian signed by 130 UK physicians calls for a boycott of the Israeli Medical Association, citing human rights infractions.“Ambulances are fired on... and their personnel killed,” write the doctors. “Desperately ill people, and newborn babies, die at checkpoints because soldiers bar the way to hospital.”

With the voices of doctors, pastors, journalists and professors backing up the grassroots chorus, a handful of politicians are listening. In June, Bloc Québécois and Parti Québécois members led a march through the streets of Montreal organized by that province’s anti-apartheid activists. Around the same time, 45 members of the European Parliament stood right before a House debate, expressing solidarity with the 45 imprisoned Palestinian MPs. And MPs in the British House of Commons have registered deep concern over the “complex system of separation under which Palestinians must live,” while raising the spectre of suspending European Union-Israeli trade relations. Meanwhile, in South Africa, BDS activists have an unlikely ally in ANC Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils. “Although the government is not supportive of the boycott, Kasrils has written about it extensively,” says activist and University of Witwatersrand senior researcher and lecturer Salim Vally. “We have differences with him but we’ve made common cause.”

We’ve seen something like this before. In the late 1980s, a sweeping international movement pushed to isolate the once tolerated (if not fully embraced) white regime in South Africa. As their cause seeps into the mainstream, BDS activists are stoked by the hope that their campaign has the same potentialas the anti-apartheid movement on which it is modelled. Is this merely wishful thinking, another great revolutionary fantasy of the left? Or not?


While today’s conflict parallels white South African rule, say veterans of the South African movement and others, it is not identical. Most significantly, Israel is not widely seen as a racist state. Indeed, for many, it’s the solution to intractable discrimination. As a result, there’s little moral prevaricating in the support for Israel issuing from U.S., Canadian and other powerful allies. It’s hard to imagine, then, that the admonishments of a few well-meaning groups of activists can cause a similarly momentous upheaval. Yet, as Linda Freeman, a southern African scholar at Carleton University and former anti-apartheid activist, recalls, “Our groups fought for many years really in the wasteland, getting absolutely nowhere, and treated with condescension and contempt. Then everything changed.” One thing is certain, she adds: “History is surprising.”

History is also contested. The UN put Israel on the map in 1947 and, depending on who’s telling the story, the following year 750,000 Arabs living in the area either fled voluntarily or were forced from their homes by Israeli soldiers, becoming permanent refugees. According to those promoting the BDS campaign, the remaining Palestinians, both in the Occupied Territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip) or in Israel proper, are excluded from the social, political, economic and cultural life of the state as a whole-a situation that parallels apartheid South Africa. This claim, as might be expected, is hotly contested.


Believed to be first used in 1917 by a soon-to-be-elected prime minister of South Africa, the term “apartheid” is most famously associated with the social and political segregation along racial lines in that country between 1948 and 1994. The creation of Bantustans in the 1950s, so-called homelands subject to quasi-tribal law, effectively excluded blacks from participation and representation in the country’s legal and justice systems. Some of its more visible results were sub-standard health and education services for blacks, pass books monitoring blacks’ movements and brutal repression. By ensuring a steady supply of cheap labour in the mines and elsewhere, says York University professor emeritus and southern Africa expert John Saul, apartheid policies enforced a racialized class system, which was the basis of a vibrant first-world economy, the benefits of which remained in the hands of whites.

The idea of Israeli apartheid emerged in the final years of the white South African regime. According to Vally, ex-patriot Palestinians supportive in toppling that regime drew the link between Israel and South Africa, which intensified in the early 1990s. “There was a widespread view,” he recalls, “that Israel needed to be isolated in the same way apartheid South Africa was and for the same reasons-its intransigence, its violation of international law.”

That view gained currency with the international left at the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban: over the course of a week, 10,000 people signed the committee’s declaration on apartheid Israel. But it was another South African, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who introduced the analogy to a more mainstream audience. In a 2002 article he wrote for the British Guardian, Tutu applauded the fight against anti- Semitism and affirmed Israel’s “right to secure borders.” At the same time, he condemned the segregation of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, as well as the military violence and restrictions on their movement, writing “It reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” Jimmy Carter’s book merely cemented the term’s association with Israel for a North American audience.

BDS campaigners do not claim Israel is an exact replica of apartheid South Africa. Still, they insist on the analogy. The 750,000 Palestinians who fled in 1948, they point out, can not return and reclaim citizenship, whereas the Law of Return grants any willing Jewish person in the world automatic citizenship. Because many of their houses sit on “unrecognized” land, they’re not serviced with electricity, water or sewage. Discrimination in Israel’s housing and health care budgets means vast differentials in social services as well. (According to BDS campaign literature, the 2002 housing budget dispensed about $30 per person to Israeli-Palestinians and up to $3,250 per person to Jewish Israelis, while the health ministry gave less than half a million dollars to Palestinian communities, and $76 million to Israeli communities.) Palestinians also face a sort of de facto discrimination. They cannot apply for certain jobs and welfare benefits if they have not served in the Israeli army.

Within the Occupied Territories, says Vally and others, the restrictions and segregation are even more pronounced. The Israeli army has destroyed thousands of Palestinian houses, schools and hospitals since its occupation, and Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are required to show identity cards as they enter and exit their communities. Because car license plates identify their owners’ origins, Palestinians driving on Jewish-only highways can be easily apprehended. Moreover, Israeli childhood ends at age 18, but the Israeli legal system considers any Palestinian over 16 an adult.

All these policies and laws, say BDS supporters, are evidence of a made-in-Israel apartheid. But the most visible evidence is in the form of Israeli encroachments. Since 1948-and even more so since the 1993 Oslo Accord-Palestinians have been squeezed onto ever-smaller parcels of land, producing what the campaign literature refers to as the “bantustanization” of the Occupied Territories. Speeding this process along is the ongoing construction of the wall winding through the West Bank. With the completion of the wall, which began in June 2002, an estimated 1.5 million Palestinians will occupy about 12 percent of historic Palestine. Carter picks up on the same point: “It is obvious that the Palestinians will be left with no territory in which to establish a viable state.”

But to Israel’s supporters, the A-word is an affront-“an odious comparison,” according to Warren Kinsella, a member of the Canada-Israel Committee and author of two books about anti-Semitism in Canada. Its application to Israel is neither fair nor accurate, he insists, pointing to the basic rights Arab-Israelis enjoy. They can vote, run for election to the Knesset (Israel’s legislature), go to public schools and use public health services. Moreover, Israel permitted Fatah (a major Palestinian political party) members to cross back into the country in May, the same week Palestinians were firing rockets at Sderot in southern Israel. “No regime in South Africa would have done this.”

What you see in Israel, says Kinsella, is “the mirror image of apartheid-economic engagement” with the Palestinians. At least, that’s what he saw when, as chief of staff to former Liberal government services minister David Dingwall in 1994, he met with Israel’s then-foreign affairs minister Shimon Peres. After tentatively raising the possibility of meeting with the PLO, Peres’s response “blew us away,” he says. “He was emphatic we must meet with them,” insisting that the possibility for peace hinged upon a healthy Palestinian economy.

Derek Penslar, director of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, likely wouldn’t go so far. “The Palestinians are oppressed,” he says-both within the Occupied Territories and Israel itself. And they are, he acknowledges, “functionally separated” from Israelis. But this is not apartheid. Apartheid is a specific arrangement “based along racial lines, in which the entire black population was fundamentally disenfranchised,” he says. Not only have Palestinians “known freedom of movement in the past,” the Israeli state is not enforcing a racial regime, but in some cases, responding to violence perpetrated against a civilian population (although he concedes the balance of power favours the Israelis).


The BDS campaign plays to a more generalized criticism of Israeli policies, most strikingly evident in the faultline developing within the Jewish Diaspora community. Last December, the right-wing American Jewish Committee posted an essay on its website decrying liberal Jews who are critical of Israeli policies, accusing them of fomenting anti-Semitism. That debate, says Yakov Rabkin, a University of Montreal historian and author of A Threat From Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, signals “a growing awareness that Israel isn’t so much a Jewish state as a state that takes a certain political stance in the Middle East, and that brings the sympathy of conservative, right wing circles in the world.” Many Jews oppose “the idea of having a state reserved for just one particular ethnic group,” he says, noting the discussion is nowhere more vibrant than inside Israel, where the government has just set up a task force to deal with the academic boycott. And elsewhere, in Sweden, France, Italy, Belgium, the U.S., South Africa and Canada, networks of liberal Jews critical of political Zionism are spreading. Here, the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians endorses the BDS campaign.

Rabkin, who prefers the term “separate development” to “apartheid” (they mean the same thing, but the former is less provocative, he claims), believes a shift in international opinion is not a pipe dream. Even the “pro-establishment” Economist magazine has questioned Israel’s relevance to the younger generation of Jews, he observes. Its January 13, 2007, issue reported that 17 percent of Jewish Americans are pro-Zionist, and just over half say “caring about Israel is a very important part” of being Jewish. The article suggests Israeli policies in the Middle East are at least partially responsible for this disaffection. Rabkin also cites a BBC World Service poll in which Israel is ranked the lowest, just below Iran, as the country perceived to have the most “negative influence” on the world. While overwhelming majorities within mostly Muslim countries skewed the figures, Canada, Britain and other EU countries were also highly critical of Israel. Support from the right for Israel today may be “massive,” concludes Rabkin. “But it’s very fragile.”

The white South African regime enjoyed widespread support once as well. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and well into the 1980s, the global anti-apartheid movement sat impatiently on the fringes-meeting in church basements, leafleting shareholder conventions and giving talks to audiences of half a dozen people.

John Saul was among those activists. He recalls a stunt he and his fellow rabble-rousers dreamed up to draw attention to the hundreds of millions of dollars in direct Canadian bank loans made to South Africa. The Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa (TCLSAC) printed fake withdrawal slips with a summary of the banks’ activities on the back and then surreptitiously tucked them into Toronto bank counters. “We put a lot of them out there,” he says. “That got a certain notoriety for us, but I don’t know whether these things have any larger impact. At least the banks knew that somebody was watching them.”

The Canadian government, for its part, largely ignored the activists. While it made the occasional gesture-John Diefenbaker helped push South Africa out of the Commonwealth in 1961, Pierre Trudeau introduced sanctions in 1977-its efforts were “half-hearted,” says Freeman. “Ultimately and ironically it was Mulroney” who stood up to the Commonwealth and imposed a few compulsory trade sanctions. But when domestic issues took priority, she notes, he also “basically let it down.”

Joe Clark, then minister of foreign affairs, cites a number of factors pushing the Tories to act, including his and Mulroney’s ambition to take up Diefenbaker’s mantle. As members of the young Progressive Conservatives in the early 1960s, explains Clark in an email, “We considered the fight against apartheid to be a central element of the activist Progressive Conservative tradition in international affairs.” Still, he acknowledges, “growing international concern” about human rights abuses in South Africa did play a part. “The public anti-apartheid campaign maintained a steady pressure on the government, often criticizing our pace and, in an increasing number of cases, working with us in proposing initiatives, and giving effect to policy.”

Both Saul and Freeman stress it’s impossible to draw a straight line from their activism to the upheaval in South Africa. Rather, events inside that country were key. As long as the political and economic elite felt they were in control, “the not-so-mild embarrassment that we could cause them was a business cost they could live with,” says Saul. “I don’t think they liked it, but I don’t think they felt themselves terribly threatened by it either.” By 1984, however, recalls Freeman, “things in South Africa were really boiling and burning.” The Vaal township uprising that year, the state’s response, and an economic crisis split the South African ruling class, with some arguing that apartheid was simply too costly to continue. (Internal developments within Israel and the Occupied Territories have taken on a different complexion, in part because the Israeli economy isn’t as dependent upon Palestinian labour, and in part because of U.S. and other international interests in the area.) Anti-apartheid activism in places like Canada was only a small-albeit essential-part of the equation. “It kept their minds alert to the fact that they were paying some price for this,” says Saul. “In that sense, the cumulative anti-apartheid activity made a difference.”


For the Toronto BDS campaign to make a difference, it has to first get noticed. Formed in 2005 (under the name Coalition Against Israel’s War Crimes) in anticipation of then- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the city, the group held demonstrations, leafleting and public talks. Taking up the Palestinian call to action a year later, says York University grad student and coalition member Adam Hanieh, provided a welcome focus and greater exposure. The group publishes a long list of Israeli-made imports to boycott, including everything from toiletries to garden sheds to wines produced in the Occupied Territories for Israeli firms (they are also researching a sporting and military boycott), but Chapters/Indigo is by far the biggest, and most familiar, name.

Since the first Indigo picket aimed at Christmas shoppers on December 23, 2006, interest has grown steadily. Pickets have shot up at other Canadian stores without any direction from the coalition. People “are really taking their own initiative,” says Hanieh. They’re sending emails to CAIA saying, “I’ll organize a picket. Just give me the material.” Regular protests now take place at the Toronto store and Indigo or Chapters outlets in Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria and Halifax. (A thousand people stopped to chant outside Montreal’s McGill College Ave. Indigo outlet during a June march, which was endorsed by Quebec trade unionists, feminists and CEGEP student unions.) And in a stunt reminiscent of TCLSAC’s bank action, some boycotters have moved their efforts inside, slipping End Israeli Apartheid bookmarks into bestsellers on store shelves.

For the most part, the actions are small, and members know they’re a long way from winning their core demand-that Reisman cut all ties with Heseg. But there are other measures of success, says Hanieh. “The whole idea of the boycott strategy is around public education-to make it clear that dealing with Israel is not on.” On that level, he believes the group is having some impact. Asking people to consider the way in which money spent at these bookstores contributes to the oppression of the Palestinians, he says, not only pushes the debate into the open, it draws attention to how individual Canadians are implicated in that oppression. “It’s not an abstract thing. It’s not just something that’s going on in a weird land. There is a connection you can see between your location here and what’s happening in Israel.”

That’s the message CAIA members are also pushing in the unions. Since the CUPE Ontario resolution passed in May 2006, they’ve published a booklet and run education sessions at Ontario locals. “It’s very exciting,” says Hanieh. “Each week we’re reaching a lot of new people, and it’s being very well received. People want to get involved.” Union work, he adds, was important to the earlier anti-apartheid struggle. Not only did some unions, like the postal workers, refuse to handle South African goods and mail, members were well placed to identify which products were coming from South Africa, and where and when shipments were arriving.

As for the Indigo picket, it’s not going away-although the official response has been minimal. B’nai Brith Canada issued a press release denouncing CAIA for targeting Reisman and Schwartz, whose philanthropy, it points out, “has benefited Canadians of all backgrounds.” It calls the boycott “misguided,” an example of “blind hatred for Israel.” According to Anita Bromberg, director of legal affairs at the Jewish human rights organization, CAIA is “unfairly singling” Israel out. “Where in their materials does it discuss the apartheid state of Syria? Or Lebanon, where Palestinian refugees are kept in camps for 60 years, where they don’t have the right to vote, where Jews had their property confiscated and were driven out. Have they raised their issues there?” Israel, she insists, is a democratic state, in which Arab-Israeli citizens “enjoy rights.”

But Indigo Books and Music is staying on the sidelines-or at least trying to. Reisman’s publicist stopped returning my calls and, except for the dark-suited security guard who strides by at the beginning and end of each picket, the company has not responded to CAIA. “They realize we’re kind of fringe,” says Hanieh. “Basically, they’re hoping it’ll fizzle out.” When activists confronted Reisman at a store book launch in May, her voice was cool and firm: “I won’t engage in a debate on this subject.” She then announced the protesters had their facts wrong, and promptly shut down the event.

Meanwhile, the picketers at the corner of Bay and Bloor streets soldier on. The occasional passerby glares contemptuously, a few stop to chat and learn more. But most walk by, oblivious to anything except maybe the warmth of the long-awaited spring sunshine. As I lean against a concrete planter watching, two familiar faces exit the store’s main doors, both former bosses of mine. I mention the picket to them. “I didn’t notice this when we went in,” quips one. “Having noticed it, I’m now ignoring it.”

The choice is his to make—at least for now.


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Monday, October 29, 2007

"Israel's decision to cut power in Gaza is illegal, says UN"

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Published: 30 October 2007

On the Web at:

The UN's top official in Gaza will tell British ministers today that Israel's cuts in fuel and power to the Palestinians violate international law, while the isolation of Hamas has strengthened extremism and started to drive non-affiliated moderates who can leave Gaza to do so.

"We keep saying people in Gaza are at rock bottom but they keep digging into the rock," Karen Koning- Abu Zayd, head of the UN refugee agency UNRWA, said of Israel's decision to start power cuts and reduce fuel supplies to Gaza in response to continued Qassam rocket attacks. Israel began cutting supplies on Sunday...

...The UNRWA chief, who will meet Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development and other ministers in London today, said: "I can understand why from the Israeli point of view people may think we need a stronger reaction to the Qassams [and] nothing has worked so far. But I don't see how you can want to punish people, all of them in Gaza, which means most of them who are not behind these activities, in the way you are doing now." In an interview, Ms Koning-Abu Zayd said: "Most people, even in some of the refugee camps, live in high-rise apartments in Gaza and if you don't have electricity, you don't have water, you probably don't have food and if you're older or sick in any way you probably can't climb up and down all those stairs." A cut in fuel would have a "very serious" effect on civilian movement.


As Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan die:

...Should Muslim students "stay away from politics", and simply sign statements prepared by Zionists?

Muslim, Christian, Jewish prayer event, after Horowitz speech:

Photo on the Web at:

"Islamic, Jewish, Episcopalian, Catholic, Pentecostal and Orthodox Christian faiths shared prayers and reflections".
This George Washington University interfaith event followed David Horowitz's campus speech against what he calls Islamo-fascism.

"This was not a peace prayer in opposition to Islamo-fascism week," said Rabbi Harold White, the chief Jewish chaplain at Georgetown, who participated in the event. "Rather, it was a talk for peace."

"A lot of people have taken the Peace Not Prejudice movement to be in protest of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week - it's not," said sophomore Tarek al-Hariri, an organizer of the events. ___________________________________

"Trying to confront hate:

"Has GW truly confronted Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week?"

by Heidi Mekawi and Leila Taha

Published in the "GW HATCHET" (George Washington University; Washington, DC)

October 29, 2007

On the Web at:

We are two of the Arab and Muslim students that attend GW and have experienced the chaos of preparing for and "countering" Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week sponsored by the Young America's Foundation on campus. With so many student organizations fighting for the spotlight, it seems we have lost sight of the necessity for direct action to counter the racist, xenophobic message attacking our religion and that of our friends and our families.

Thirteen student organizations sponsored Peace Not Prejudice week, and yet their events have been poorly publicized, and more importantly, crafted to avoid any kind of direct condemnation or challenge to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Events included discussions on experiences abroad and diversity at home, but there was a marked lack of any attempt to expose YAF's hateful message. Instead of tearing down this message, Peace Not Prejudice week created a huge elephant in the room.

Despite the fact that people of all religions and nationalities should find the bigotry and ignorance in this week of events extremely obvious, we, the victims, must stand up for ourselves, or nobody else will.

If the Muslim Students Association and the Arab Students Association are unwilling to counter Islamo-Fascism week in any effective way, who will? The only events actually targeting the hateful message of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week were organized by Students for Justice in Palestine and the Campus Anti-War Network.

Both groups were actively excluded by the organizers of Peace Not Prejudice week, presumably as a result of the politicized nature of the events. The MSA in particular has a policy of staying away from politics, as we were told various times in the weeks leading up to these events.

The message engendered by the YAF's sponsorship of Islamo-Fascism Week is blatantly racist.

A little research could have told the GW Muslim community that on campuses across the nation, MSAs will be confronted with demands to sign a petition condemning terrorism. At many universities, David Horowitz was unable to find students to host his campaign and give in to this insulting and condescending petition. Unfortunately he succeeded at GW. Why not any other student organizations? Instead of condemning terrorism by Muslims or Islamo-fascism, why not condemn terrorism and fascism globally and by any people?

Our point is the great disappointment that we and others have felt at the general disunity and disorganization of the resistance to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, if you can even term the reaction "resistance." It is truly disappointing that the initial frenzy turned into little more than a photo-op and a chance for GW students to get their 15 minutes of fame on various news channels. This could have been an opportunity for solidarity and large-scale action to prove the true character of GW's student body and its unwillingness to let these events occur unchallenged.

In the heart of the nation's capital, and essentially the most powerful city in the world, we as GW students have a responsibility to act as leaders and try to push for change where change can really happen. GW was ranked as the number one most politically active campus in the 2008 edition of the Princeton Review, which is surprising seeing as how we all seem to be so afraid of politics.

The fliers that enraged so many people both nationally and globally proved a simple point: in order to be heard, you must speak loudly. You must exaggerate the obvious in order to get some attention. What we are doing now is whispering empty "diplomatic" words and trying so hard not to offend anybody that our message is, sadly, almost completely lost.

--The writers are a senior majoring in international business and a junior majoring in international affairs, respectively.


Israeli Dogs are Airlifted to Luxury... Israel bombs Lebanon to a bloody pulp:

"Israeli Dogs Escape Bombs, Land in Cushy Md. Digs"
On the Web at:

By BRIANNA BOND, Capital News Service

After her dog, Casey, died five months ago, Natalie Sandler, a lifelong dog owner from Rockville, swore she wouldn't get another pet. That was before she met Neri, a 13-pound, 8-month-old, mixed-breed puppy.

"I saw this puppy, and we fell in love," she said. Neri was one of 39 puppies rescued by Concern for Helping Animals in Israel -- a 22-year-old, Arlington-based non-profit -- this summer during the armed conflict with Hezbollah.

He met Sandler at the Montgomery County Humane Society Rescue Shelter in Rockville, one of three shelters in the D.C. metro area that helped CHAI place the animals.

The puppies were flown from Israel to New York City then driven to Maryland. From there they were housed in the animal shelters to await adoption. Four puppies are still awaiting homes.

"The puppies were just aching for affection," said Tali Lavie, spokeswoman for Hakol Chai, CHAI's sister charity in Tel Aviv, which also helped about 20 dogs find homes in Israel and placed more than 12 tons of food and hundreds of water dishes in the streets of northern Israel.

Though they battled starvation and dehydration while roaming deserted, bomb-ridden, city streets, most of the puppies arrived in the United States looking healthy and energized. The Rockville shelter received a pair of pit bull puppies that were "happy as clams," running around the night they arrived "as if nothing had happened," said Ashley Owen, director of humane education for the Montgomery County Humane Society.

Other dogs were more visibly distressed, like the Great Pyrenees puppy that refused to leave its crate. "He was just petrified," she said. "There's no question that some of these dogs have suffered at the hands of people," said Nina Natelson, executive director of CHAI. One dog, Jessie, a Weimeraner, was severely beaten by several people as she tried to enter a bomb shelter where dogs weren't allowed. "During that difficult time, people weren't at their best," she said.

Hakol Chai was eventually able to reunite Jessie with her family, she said. Much like humans, animals react differently to high-stress situations, said animal behaviorist Ken Buzzard, who's been training dogs for 30 years and who runs Last Chance Dog Training in Catonsville. But "the younger the dog, the more resilient they are and the . . . easier they are to train," he said.

Other animal advocacy groups were dispersed across the war-torn region, including Best Friends Animal Society, which housed nearly 300 dogs and cats from Beirut at their animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. "They were all stressed out, but frankly no more than we're used to," said Best Friends President Michael Mountain, though he noted that some of the animals still had bullets and shrapnel lodged in them when they arrived.

Neri got a clean bill of health from the vet. Since arriving at his new home the day before Thanksgiving, he's started to evolve into a puppy again, Sandler said. But a few instances, like the time his ears perked up and his body froze when a loud jet flew over the house, are indication that he hasn't completely forgotten his past.

The pup, whose name means "my candle" in Hebrew, is practically lapping in luxury compared to his days as a street dog struggling to survive the unbearable Israeli August heat. His new home comes with an outdoor dog run, a spacious crate filled with rubber chew toys and a navy parka -- his favorite possession -- to keep him warm during cold Maryland nights.

"My pets are completely pampered. I do everything in the world I can for them," Sandler said. She stayed true to her word when she jumped at a friend's offer to drive the dog down to Florida to meet her and husband, Gene, for vacation. Since she can't carry him on the plane -- he's too large for the 17-inch carry-on designated by Jet Blue -- it's the next best choice.

She doesn't mind shouldering the extra cost if it means he doesn't have to fly in the cargo hold of an airplane again, she said. "Like I say, nothing is too good for my pets."


Racism is the only explanation

"Minister detained at US airport

Shahid Malik
Mr Malik said he had also been stopped and searched last year
"Britain's first Muslim minister, Shahid Malik, says he is 'deeply disappointed' that he was detained by airport security officials in America."

The international development minister was stopped and searched at Washington DC's Dulles airport after a series of meetings on tackling terrorism.

Mr Malik, MP for Dewsbury, West Yorks, had his hand luggage checked for explosives when returning to Heathrow.

He said the same thing happened to him at JFK airport in New York last year.

On that occasion he had been a keynote speaker at an event organised by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), alongside the FBI and Muslim organisations, to talk about tackling extremism and defeating terrorism.

'Respect needed'

Mr Malik said he had received numerous apologies and assurances from the US authorities after that incident.

But he was again searched and detained by DHS officials on Sunday.

Mr Malik said two other Muslims were also detained.

"I am deeply disappointed," he said.

"The abusive attitude I endured last November I forgot about and I forgave, but I really do believe that British ministers and parliamentarians should be afforded the same respect and dignity at USA airports that we would bestow upon our colleagues in the Senate and Congress.

"Obviously, there was no malice involved but it has to be said that the USA system does not inspire confidence."


"Desmond Tutu Likens Israeli Actions to Apartheid"

By Adrianne Appel

BOSTON, Oct 28, 2007

Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS; Rome)

On the Web at:

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu compared conditions in Palestine to those of South Africa under apartheid, and called on Israelis to try and change them, while speaking in Boston Saturday at historic Old South Church.

"We hope the occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel will end," Tutu said.

"There is a cry of anguish from the depth of my heart, to my spiritual relatives. Please, please hear the call, the noble call of our scripture," Tutu said of Israelis.

"Don't be found fighting against this god, your god, our god, who hears the cry of the oppressed," Tutu said.

Tutu spoke with political activist and lecturer Noam Chomsky and others to a largely religious audience about "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel," a conference sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America, a Christian Palestinian group.

Israeli policy toward Palestine is an inflammatory topic in the U.S. and is not commonly discussed in large, public forums.

In Boston, complaints were lodged with Old South Church in the weeks prior to the event, in an effort to halt the conference. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting complained that Sabeel is "an anti-Zionist organisation that traffics in anti-Judaic themes," according to press reports.

Outside the church Saturday, Christians and Jews United for Israel demonstrated against Tutu and the conference.

"Sabeel is an organisation that seeks to demonise Israel. Tutu several years ago made anti-Semitic comments," May Long, president of the group, told IPS. Long did not hear Tutu's speech, she said.

Tutu was an inspirational leader in the South African fight against apartheid, which officially ended 13 years ago. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and today continues to speak around the globe for peace and justice, and to call for Palestinian rights.

The 76-year-old Tutu also appears to have won a battle against prostate cancer, which he was last treated for in 2000.

"Because of what I experienced in South Africa, I harbour hope for Israel and the Palestinian territories," said Tutu, who invoked passages from the Christian bible throughout his talk.

Tutu drew parallels between the apartheid of South Africa and occupied Palestine of today, including demolitions of Palestinian homes by the Israeli government and the inability of Palestinians to travel freely within and out of Palestine.

"I experienced a déjà vu when I encountered a security checkpoint that Palestinians must negotiate every day and be demeaned, all their lives," Tutu said.

Tutu said that Palestinian homes are being bulldozed, and new, illegal homes for Israeli's built in their place.

"When I hear, 'that used to be my home,' it is painfully similar to the treatment in South Africa when coloureds had no rights," Tutu said.

Tutu is a pacifist and he said only non-violent means should be used to confront the oppression at play in Palestine.

"Palestinians ought to try themselves to restrain those who fire the rockets into Israeli territory," Tutu said.

Tutu said that while fighting apartheid in South Africa he drew inspiration from the Jewish struggle as the bible describes it.

"Spiritually I am of Hebrew decent. When apartheid oppression was at its most vicious, and all but knocked the stuffing out of those of us who opposed it, we turned to the Hebrew tradition of resistance," and the belief that good will triumph over evil, and that a day of freedom from oppression will come, he said.

"The well-to-do and powerful complain that we are mixing religion with politics. I've never heard the poor complain that 'Tutu, you are being too political,' " he said.

"I am not playing politics when it involves children who suffer," Tutu said. "A human rights violation is a human rights violation is a human rights violation, wherever it occurs."

Tutu recently bumped up against U.S. discomfort with discourse about Palestine, when a Minnesota university president yanked an invitation to Tutu that had been extended by a youth group.

Rev. Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul Minnesota, said he did not want Tutu to speak because the Nobel Laureate's position on Palestine was viewed by some as anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.

Dease also fired Cris Toffolo as head of the university's peace and justice programme, who had supported the invitation to Tutu.

Dease apologised to Tutu three weeks ago.

Tutu said Saturday that he accepted Dease's "handsome apology", but that he will not consider speaking at the school until Toffolo is reinstated and her record cleared.

At the conference, Chomsky said the U.S. provides heavy financial support to Israel and has a profound influence on Israeli policies, including those toward Palestine and foreign trade.

"If the U.S. doesn't like what Israel is doing, it just kicks Israel in the face," Chomsky said. In 2005, Israel wanted to sell improved missiles to China. The Bush administration halted the sale, Chomsky said.

"It blocked them and refused to allow Israeli officials to come to the U.S. The U.S. demanded an apology from Israel. It dragged Israel through the mud," Chomsky said.

The U.S. began its close relationship with Israel after the Israeli victory in the 1967 "Six Day War" against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, Chomsky said.


"Tutu urges Jews to challenge oppression of Palestinians"

On the Web at:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, appealed yesterday to Jews to challenge what he described as the Israeli government's oppression of Palestinians.

In a lengthy and emotional address to a packed Old South Church, where the faint din of pro-Israel protesters could be heard through the stone walls, Tutu cited passages from the Hebrew Bible to argue that the God worshiped by Jews would champion the cause of Palestinians.

"Remembering what happened to you in Egypt and much more recently in Germany - remember, and act appropriately," he said, alluding to the enslavement of Jews in Egypt described in the book of Exodus, as well as to the Nazi Holocaust. "If you reject your calling, you may survive for a long time, but you will find it is all corrosive inside, and one day you will implode."

His remarks, to a congregation of about 850, created controversy even before they were delivered. A wide array of Jewish community leaders and organizations denounced Sabeel, the Palestinian Christian organization that put together the conference at which Tutu spoke, as anti-Israel, and rued Tutu's support of the group.

About 200 people protested the conference on Friday; yesterday, the Jewish Sabbath, the protest was smaller, with a few dozen people holding signs and shouting from the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth streets. The pro-Israel demonstrators said Tutu's comparison of Israel to apartheid in South Africa was unfair because Israel is a democracy where Arabs have rights.

PDF READ THE ADDRESS: Full text of Tutu's speech

"That conference is bad for peace, it's bad for America, it's bad for Israel, and it's bad for the Palestinians," Steve Grossman, a Democratic activist who is chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council's Israel Action Center advisory board, said Friday. "Israel wants peace, regardless of the falsehoods and misrepresentations which will be heard at Old South Church this weekend."

Tutu, 76, was frail but defiant. After the conference, he joined a pro-Palestinian rally in Copley Square at which Israel was denounced as an apartheid state. Noting that the rally was sponsored by a group called Jewish Voice for Peace, he said, "You are sometimes vilified as self-hating Jews, but thank you for standing up for the truth."

The rally was attended by a few hundred people; hundreds more carrying peace flags walked by as part of a march against the Iraq war.

During his speech in the church, Tutu said the Israeli government is in some respects worse than the South African apartheid government, citing what he described as the Israeli government's use of "collective punishment" of Palestinians. At a press conference before his speech, Tutu criticized the Israeli government for brutality and what he described as "gross violations of human rights."

But his remarks inside the church were aimed directly at Jews. He said he was delivering "a cri de coeur, a cry of anguish from the heart, an impassioned plea to my spiritual relatives, the noble offspring of Abraham like me - please hear the call, the noble call of your scriptures, of our scriptures, to be with the God of the Exodus who took the side of a bunch of slaves against the powerful pharaoh."

"Jews are indispensable for a good, compassionate, just, and caring world," he said. "And so are Palestinians."

Michael Paulson can be reached at

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Israeli soldiers severely beat Palestinian man at checkpoint"
Date: 25 / 10 / 2007 Time: 15:11

Ma'an News Agency
(Ma'an means 'together' in Arabic)

تكبير الخط تصغير الخط
Bethlehem – Ma'an – A twenty-year-old Palestinian man was severely beaten by Israeli soldiers at the Ar-Ram military checkpoint north of Jerusalem on Thursday.

Dr. Muhammad Uda from the Palestinian Medical Relief Services told Ma'an that the soldiers suddenly attacked Ubayda Adawi from Duheisha refugee camp, near Bethlehem.

Adawi's skull and jaw were fractured, with other injuries to the mouth and hands.

Adawi underwent surgery at a Hebron hospital after first being treated in Ramallah and Bethlehem.

Dr. Uda accused Israeli authorities of giving soldiers a "green light" to attack unarmed Palestinians.

"The moderate blindfold"

"No wonder Israel's One Million Voices event failed: 'moderate' politics assumes equality between occupier and occupied."

by Ben White
October 19, 2007 7:00 AM | Printable version

We've had Live 8 and Live Earth, and this week, albeit on a smaller scale, we almost had One Million Voices. Organised by the OneVoice group, the declared aim was to bring together Palestinians and Israelis in simultaneous events in Tel Aviv, Jericho, London, Washington and Ottawa to voice support for the "moderates" and call for a negotiated two-state solution.

The plans fell through, amid bitter claim and counter-claim, as artists lined up for the Jericho event cancelled, and the Tel Aviv concert followed suit. This followed grassroots pressure by Palestinians who objected to what they see as yet another attempt to promote a false peace that fails to address the structural injustices driving the conflict.

Indeed, despite the peace rhetoric - and the claim that they represent a unique popular call - OneVoice's approach suffers from the same flaws that have bedevilled official "peace" efforts from Oslo to the Quartet. Such errors were amply demonstrated in Seth Freedman's column, which implied that the main obstacle to peace is the "extremism" that exists on both sides.

This interpretation of the situation in Palestine/Israel is only possible through a heavy airbrushing of history and a fundamental misreading of the present. Strikingly, the Tel Aviv concert was scheduled to take place in Hayarkon Park - the same location where, almost 60 years ago, the Palestinian village of Jarisha was wiped off the map by Jewish armed forces.

Its residents shared the same fate as almost 800,000 other Palestinians, expelled from what became Israel and prevented to this day from returning home, their land confiscated. Yet official OneVoice material gives the impression that the conflict only began 40 years ago, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).

Condemning the "extremist minority" of both sides sounds laudable. Of course, "both sides" use violence, and of course, there is hatred and religious extremism among both Palestinians and Israelis. The crucial point, however, is that Israel has all the power. Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, not the other way round. Palestinian cities are besieged by a modern, hi-tech Israeli army and subjected to closure, raids and bombardment - not the other way round.

Zionist colonisation is not the preserve of a fanatical fringe in Israel - it is fundamental to the state's identity and practice. As Martin Luther King said: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." Since Israel continues to show no intention of relinquishing its role as colonial overlord, it's no good to condemn "both sides", as if there is equality between occupier and occupied.

Unsurprisingly, those with intimate firsthand experience of this apartheid are under no illusions about the usefulness of toothless "peace processes". Earlier this week, the UN human rights envoy for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, condemned the Quartet for failing to safeguard Palestinian rights. The BBC's Tim Franks noted that many diplomats and officials based in the region "would agree with Mr Dugard's political analysis" yet refrain from agreeing publicly.

The language of moderation is all the rage, from OneVoice to Condoleezza Rice, from the aborted peace concerts to the forthcoming November peace conference. It's a seductive dichotomy; on the one side are those who light the flame of peace, who strive for a "mass awakening" to the "forces of light and friendship and love". On the other side are the extremists who threaten, smear and mislead; they are wickedly intransigent - they stifle, snuff out hope and burn flags.

But what is a "moderate"? In recent times, "moderate" has been applied to some rather unlikely characters in the Middle East. For the US, UK and Israeli governments, these include states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. None of these permit much genuine freedom of expression; all of them oppress opposition movements. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most repressive regimes.

It seems "moderation" has nothing to do with whether you refrain from the torture of political activists or the flogging of "deviants", and everything to do with your obedience to US policies and Israeli interests. That is what unites the Saudi royals, the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king.

Meanwhile, groups like ISM, and Another Voice are condemned by Freedman and OneVoice as "extremists" out to "eradicate the other side", and accused of making unnamed and unspecified threats. Yet these groups are committed to the defence of human rights and international law, and are made up of tireless Israelis, Palestinians and internationals. Their categorisation as "extremists" then, is actually a reflection of their refusal to accept sugar-coated apartheid or well-meaning platitudes that serve the status quo.

It may be an uncomfortable truth, but peace for both peoples comes no closer if the fundamental power disparity between Israel and the stateless, occupied and dispossessed Palestinians is obscured. Confronting the vested interests that perpetuate Palestine's conquest may not win you awards from Jordanian monarchs or praise from the US state department; but it ultimately brings you a lot closer to peace. | Digg it | Tailrank | Reddit | Newsvine | Now Public | Technorati

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Shame you didn't read any South African or Irish history before you wrote this Ben.

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Good article Ben. The genius of the Israeli propaganda machine has always been to present this as a six of one/half a dozen of the other, issue. The media over here have always gone along with this distortion, thus even leftish papers like The Guardian talk of Israeli soldiers versus Palestinian terrorists. That's why nothing will change until a serious muslim power emerges in the Middle East that can bring Israel to the negotiating table and bring aboout a return to the 1967 borders. And that's why the Eretz chicken hawks are so terrified of Iran getting the bomb.

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How about inviting children to write messages on bombs? Nah, it would never happen as it would be in very bad taste.