Archive for Boycott
Date published: 17th August 2009
Source: Orange.es (translated from Spanish into English by 3.071 Km).
When the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé said that ‘there will never be two states,’ one Israeli and one Palestinian, it is not with pessimism, but from the sad conviction that the ‘Zionist colonial project’ has no reverse gear.
Scourge of the official historiography of the Jewish State, Pappé (Haifa, 1954) does not scrimp on controversial terms ( ‘racism’, ‘ethnic cleansing’) and hide in the political correctness ( ‘I am an anti-Zionist historian and a peace activist ‘) to analyze the past and present of his country in an interview with Efe.
Two years ago, tired of pressures and threats, Pappé made the bags and changed the University of Haifa their home by the Department of History of Exeter (England).
Last week he returned to the area to give a lecture sponsored by the Spanish Cooperation in the Arab village of Anata, West Bank, where husking that ‘another story’, which says, ‘Israeli society is not yet ready to listen” .
‘People break the mirror when they do not like what they see in it. I am the mirror that the Israelis do not like, which does not mean that what they see is not there,’ he pointed.
Pappé is one of the passionate supporters of the imposition of sanctions on Israel and boycotting their products, events and universities to ‘send a message to their society and government, both of which strongly want to be part of the West, that in these circumstances they can not expect to be seen as a civilized nation.”
‘Inside Israel there is very little hope of change. And things turn to worse. So we need pressure from outside, although it is not known whether it will work. We must try for the sake of the people who are here,’ he argues.
The author of ‘The ethnic cleansing of Palestine’ and ‘History of Modern Palestine: one land, two peoples’ rejects the idea that a boycott of Israel might be counterproductive to the Jewish State, entrenched in a ‘the world hates us’, in front of measures that could remind to an extent the ones the Third Reich took against Jews in Germany.
“Israeli society can not close itself more. It is already in the worst side of its history in terms of understanding what is happening around them. The boycott can only be for the better. Maybe a blow like this will open their eyes “, says.
Pappé argues it is essential to convince the international community that the Zionist project is as colonial as the South African apartheid was.
In fact, one of the projects that he is working on is the release of a comparative analysis among the two paradigms that is revealing ‘many similarities’.
‘In some cases, the Palestinians are being treated much better than the Africans in the South African apartheid, but in others it is far worse here. In both cases there is a colonial project. However, while in South Africa all the world saw it as such, in Israel we are still fighting to convince the international community about it,” he says.
Son of German Jews who escaped the Nazis, Pappé criticized, however, another frequent comparison of Israel with Hitler’s Germany.
‘Surely it is not politically or historically rigorous, because the Nazis practiced genocide and Israel practices what might be called ethnic cleansing, which is different’, differenciated.
‘The Nazis – he continues -, were a unique case and comparisons with them will not help to understand the situation. I do not judge it as an Israeli, this is not my problem, but as a professional historian and as an activist for peace. I think, in fact, that this comparison undermines the Palestinian cause. ”
A cause that, in his view, is not based on claimin the creation of a state in Gaza and the West Bank, but the establishment of a single secular multi-ethnic nation in the historical Palestine.
‘In Ramallah, Nablus or Anata there is no independence. Everything is part of Israel in different legal systems. There will never be two states, because the only state already exists. So you can only dream of a different regime. It is a utopia, but the only one by which it is worth fighting,” he concludes.
Is it not too late, after decades of accumulated hatred, for Jews and Arabs living together in a single country? ‘I think it’s just the opposite, – replied with determination -, ‘the one state solution is already a reality: Israel, which controls everything.”
Date published: 16th August 2009
Source: BBC News
Mr Davis has been a harsh critic of Israel for years
A Jewish-born Israeli has been elected to the governing body of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
Uri Davis, 66, an academic who is married to a Palestinian, is an outspoken critic of what he calls Israel’s “apartheid policies”.
As the only Israeli member of the Revolutionary Council he says he wants to represent non-Arab people who support the Palestinian cause.
He called for an international campaign to boycott Israel to be toughened up.
Dr Davis said his Israeli citizenship made no difference to his election.
“Within the conference itself the welcome was most heartfelt and enthusiastic – the Fatah movement is an open, international movement – membership is not conditional on ethnic origin, it’s conditional on agreement with the main part of the Fatah political programme,” he told the BBC News website.
Dr Davis said he did not define himself as Jewish but as “a Palestinian Hebrew national of Jewish origin, anti-Zionist, registered as Muslim and a citizen of an apartheid state – the State of Israel”.
He was one of around 700 Fatah members competing for 89 open seats in the body, which oversees the group’s day-to-day decision making.
Others elected to Fatah’s revolutionary council included Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of the senior Fatah figure, Marwan Barghouti, who was jailed by Israel five years ago for the murder of five people.
The old guard of Fatah retained only four of the 18 elected seats. The rest went to younger men.
Date published: 6th August 2009
The associations that come into the minds of most of us when hearing the common phrase “Israeli occupation” are generally tied to concepts such as army, settlers, terror and peace process. Few pay attention to the economic aspects of this ongoing project and generally when people do mention this, it’s in the context of the occupation being an economic burden on Israel. Fewer still ask who is profiting from the occupation, to which social groups do these profiteers belong and what political power do they possess. The idea is simple. Damage to these profits is liable to transform a continuation of the occupation into something less profitable. Such a discussion is relevant today in light of the increasingly powerful global campaign of economic actions against the occupation, or BDS—boycott, divestment and sanctions.
According to an estimate of Shir Hever of the Alternative Information Center, in 2008 Israel spent NIS 26.3 million on the occupation (including expenditures on defense, subsidies for settlements, etc.). Since the beginning of the 1967 occupation to 2008, the expenditures are NIS 381 billion. Shlomo Swirski from the Adva Center wrote a book about this, The Price of Arrogance. In his 2008 report on the price of the conflict, he emphasizes that the occupation reduces economic growth, destabilizes, and is a burden on the budget. According to Swirski, almost all economic areas are impaired by the occupation: tourism, credit rating, investments and welfare payments which are cut as a result of the investment in the security industry and settlements.
A few examples of profits:
- The employment of cheap Palestinian workers and its impact on the general deterioration in Israel’s working conditions. Today the employment of cheap Palestinian laborers in Israel is reduced as a result of the political and economic transition to the exploitation of migrant workers, but in the industrial zones of the “buffer area” exist Israeli-owned factories which employ Palestinian workers in harsh conditions of exploitation. Many Palestinians also work in settlements (a project of Kav Laoved tracks their conditions of employment and assists them to organize);
- The construction of settlements on cheap land in the West Bank instead of on more expensive land within the Green Line and the pushing of weakened populations into these settlements. For example, the cities of Modiin Ilit and Beitar Ilit were built beyond the Green Line for ultra-orthodox Jewish populations, immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are encouraged into the area of Ariel, and there is construction for young couples in East Jerusalem.
- Palestinian society represents a captured market for Israeli goods. As they have no alternatives, and because of the Israeli control over the borders and the internal blockades, the Palestinians are forced to consume the goods of Israeli companies. Israel further prevented throughout the years the development of Palestinian factories that could have represented competition for the Israeli market.
- The military-industrial complex: According to Naomi Klein in her excellent book, The Shock Doctrine, after the burst of the high tech bubble at the end of the 1990s, Israel increasingly moved into the niche of security high tech. This was particularly true following September 11, when the world demand for security increased. The occupation is an expansive testing ground that permits government investments in means which are afterwards sold throughout the world. There are companies that brag about testing their equipment on Palestinians.
According to Dan Babli, 200,000 people are employed in Israel in security services and another 100,000 are employed in the import and export of security services. Together they represent some 10% of Israel’s active work force. According to statistics cited by Yossi Melman in Haaretz, in 2008, Israel spent more on security per capita than any other country in the world. According to this research, last year every citizen in Israel financed $2,300 for security expenses in his country. In comparison, in the United States the security expenses are about $2,000 per capita. In Saudi Arabia, which acquires some of the most sophisticated weapons systems in the world, the amount per capita is $1,500. It is difficult to imagine that in a situation of regional peace, these businesses will continue to flourish.
It is on this background that in July 2005, some 170 Palestinian civil society organizations signed a declaration calling for boycott, divestments and sanctions against Israel “until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.” This campaign is called BDS.
Since 2005, the international BDS campaign against Israel has accelerated. Israel’s attack on Gaza provided it with another push, and recently it is beginning to be felt. A few examples:
- Veolia, a French company that works around the world, is partner through its daughter company Connex in building the light rail in Jerusalem, a railway that will also pass through territories occupied in 1967 that were annexed by Israel and on which Jewish neighborhoods were built. Connex also runs a garbage dump in one of the settlements and several bus lines to settlements. The company became a target for the BDS campaign under the slogan “Derail Veolia.” As a result of this campaign, Veolia lost approximately US $4.5 billion after it did not win the tender for running the subway in Stockholm (after 10 years in which it did run the train). In additional cities throughout the world there were actions against the renewal of contracts with Veolia. In June this year, it was reported in the media that the company is interested in selling its part in the building and running of the light rail in Jerusalem.
- Following a public campaign in Belgium, Bank Deksia announced that its Israeli branch, “Deksia Israel,” will cease to provide loans to settlements. In 2001 Deskia Bank purchased Bank Otsar Hashilton Hamakomi in Israel and provided, amongst other things, long-term loans to settlements.
- In the wake of a report published by three Swedish organizations in October 2008, Assa Abloy, the huge Swedish company, announced the closing of its “Multilock” factory in the Barkan Industrial Zone, near Ariel. The company announced that it would transfer the factory to another place, within the Green Line.
- In these very days the Norwegian public pension fund, one of the largest in Europe, is examining its investments in companies involved in the Israeli occupation.
A large amount of information about the profits of the occupation is centred in a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace called Who Profits. The project began in 2007 and in its website one can find a list of Israeli and foreign companies directly connected to the occupation. The project does not call for boycott or any other specific action against the companies on the list. The Coalition of Women for Peace to date has also not joined the list of organizations supporting BDS. However, the data base is an important tool for understanding the economic interests in the occupation. Through it, it is possible to understand how difficult it is to separate between the Israeli economy within the Green Line and the economy of the occupation: agricultural produce from the settlements are mixed and marketed together with produce from within the Green Line, what to mention that most of the banks, cellular phone companies and transportation companies operate on both sides of the Green Line. Alongside the Who Profits project works an Israeli group called “Herem” (boycott in Hebrew) which explicitly supports the Palestinian call for BDS and the various campaigns and attempts to increase awareness of actions of these types amongst residents of Israel.
The question is whether the BDS campaign is effective and if it is moral. What messages and actions can be supported and what not. These are questions that those who oppose the occupation should be asking. I and other activists in Israel and the world reached the conclusion that so many tactics of opposition to the occupation were tried, and the occupation is still here and is becoming increasingly cruel from year to year. I believe that countries and people generally act according to interests, such that the way to end the occupation is to render it unprofitable.
The rendering of economic investments tied to the Israeli occupation as unattractive because they are accompanied by losses to companies, will slowly crumble the ability of the occupation to become a generator of economic development and profits. Eventually the occupation will become a burden, as occurred in South Africa, where it was the business people who asked the apartheid government to stop its racist policies.
This is not an easy task, but it appears that the BDS campaign is beginning to trickle down. It is important to remember that this campaign is non-violent, uses a variety of tactics in accordance with the local contexts of the actions, and allows citizens from throughout the world to participate in a struggle against the occupation and not to leave this solely in the hands of the governments and politicians (for more about the principled aspects of the BDS campaign against Israel, please see the aforementioned research by Shir Hever).
Date published: 10th August 2009
Source: Al Jazeera English
Delegates at Fatah’s conference in the occupied West Bank have begun voting for a new executive body and assembly that many hope will be filled with fresh faces.
The much-delayed vote got under way on Sunday, with voting expected to last for at least 10 hours and little indication of when results would be due.
Delegates are choosing among 96 candidates, six of them women, standing for election to the 21-member central committee.
They are also selecting from 617 party members, including 50 women, vying for the 80 places open in a 128-seat Revolutionary Council, the movement’s parliament.
The Bethlehem conference has been billed as an opportunity for Fatah to rejuvenate itself and shed its image as corrupt and nepotistic.
Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from Bethlehem, said: “Despite the accusations of nepotism and political money a lot of the delegates we’ve been speaking to have been encouraged by the voting process and the names on the list of nominees.”
One of the favoured candidates for election is Marwan Barghouthi, at 50 a younger, articulate and popular member of the movement, currently in an Israeli jail.Also in the running is Mohammed Dahlan, 48, a Fatah strongman from Gaza
While delegates in Bethlehem filled in their voting sheets, about 300 Fatah members from the Gaza Strip, barred by Hamas from attending the conference, dictated their votes by telephone or sent them in by email.
The voting has twice been delayed and what was billed as a three-day conference has dragged on.
But Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and a nominee for Fatah’s central committee, said that this was in itself positive for Fatah.
“Many people think that Fatah is like many other parties in this region where its leader sits somewhere in the mountain and he sends something and people will see with one eye, hear with one ear, speak with one tongue,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Fatah is unlike this, we have, I think, 2,325 delegates. We had 2,325 opinions, every point [was discussed] … but at the end of the day, now, we have a political programme.”
Delegates adopted the new political programme, which calls for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, earlier on Sunday. Erekat said that while the programme was a call for peace, it required Israel to fulfil its commitments.”Fatah wants peace, but peace cannot be obtained without Israel withdrawing to the 1967 border, establishing a Palestinian state on the ’67 border with East Jerusalem as it capital,” he told Al Jazeera.
The adopted programme reads: “The aim of Fatah as a liberation movement is to end the Israeli occupation and achieve independence for the Palestinian people in a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
While the platform reserved the movement’s right to take up arms against Israeli occupation, it also encouraged Palestinians to use more peaceful means to
“At this stage, we are focusing on popular struggle, but the armed struggle is a right reserved to us in international law,” Nabil Shaath, a senior party member, said.
Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, described the Fatah platform as “not very promising.”
“But there is no other way for the Middle East but to sit down and strike a deal and agree on a peace for the region and arrangement between us and the Palestinians,” Barak said, calling on Abbas to enter negotiations.
Written by Isabelle Humphries
Date: 28 April 2009
Source: The Electronic Intifada
Mainstream reports on the last UN Durban Review Conference on racism seem only to highlight Ahmadinejad’s discourse and its boycott by Western leaders. However, such reports dismiss the failure of the Conference on discussing racism and its causes.
In this article, Isabelle Humphries writes on the failure of the international community to tackle about Zionism, the different approaches towards boycott of Western leaders, and the hipocrisy of the international community when it comes to adressing Palestinian issues.
International activists seeking justice in Palestine call for a radical reflection on the overall framework of Zionism, which as an ideology prioritizes the rights of one racial group over another. While no one was expecting that the Durban Review Conference would adopt an apartheid analogy, in recent years many senior international figures have sharply criticized Israel’s systematic discrimination against the Palestinians. While Palestinians are as aware as any other occupied nation that UN resolutions do not necessarily lead to international action, nevertheless the document resulting from the Durban 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) was considered something of a landmark. Dismissed as “anti-Semitic” by the usual US-Israeli suspects, the declaration named Palestinians as specific victims of racism. Though it failed to mention the source of this racism, many civil society organizations saw Durban as a useful conceptual framework for combating the racism at the heart of the protracted plight of the Palestinians.
The Durban Review Conference held last week was initially intended to be a forum to evaluate the progress towards goals set eight years ago. But bullying tactics by certain European/North American states ensured that the draft Durban Review Conference declaration excluded any criticism of Israel. In the planning process original “offensive” statements such as those referring to “unlawful collective punishment” and “torture” were removed. Israel, Canada and the US — under both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — had no intention of allowing a repeat of the language of 2001. All three boycotted the process from the start. Obama initially rejoined the planning stage but pulled out again.Despite the fiasco of the main event, a successful two-day conference sponsored by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) brought a group of international legal experts and activists together to examine and develop possibilities of using legal instruments to combat Israeli racism.
The hypocrisy of being told by European politicians and media that boycotts against Israel are either anti-Semitic or counter-productive, yet to be instructed that boycott of Ahmadinejad or even the whole UN racism conference is right and justifiable leaves anyone dedicated to justice fuming. That’s what I feel like — I can only imagine how Palestinians feel to be let down by the international community. Again.