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  1. #81
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    Israel is an apartheid state; let’s not pretend otherwise

    May 18, 2017

    In an editorial about a recently proposed bill in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) which seeks to impose Israeli law on Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, Haaretz said somewhat peevishly that the measure could officially transform Israel into an apartheid state. The bill was proposed by two extreme right-wing politicians, Ayelet Shaked and Yariv Levin. The editorial observed that they are leading Israel to one of two bad results: the end of a state that is both Jewish and democratic; or its official transformation into an apartheid state.

    The proposal, said Haaretz, is “creeping annexation under the guise of imposing judicial equality on either side of the Green Line – but only for Jews.” This, the leader writer confessed, constitutes exploitation of the 50-year-old fiction that the West Bank is a military area, under the rule of the commanding army officer, whose actions are dictated solely by military necessity.

    Under international law, the West Bank is occupied territory, and the transfer of a civilian population into the area is a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. While Israeli courts acknowledge this in theory, that has not prevented over half a million Jewish settlers from moving into massive settlement-colonies built by the Israeli government across the territory. The purpose of this bill, say its proponents, is perfectly consistent with the way that most Israelis view the West Bank — which they call Judea and Samaria — and with the policies of successive Israeli governments. The legal fiction otherwise, which Israeli courts uphold, has no purpose or function apart from trying to assuage Western consciences.

    While proposing the bill, Justice Minister Shaked asserted that, “Judea and Samaria are not Israel’s backyard, and from now on [the] ministerial committee will ask to clarify, with respect to every government law at its table, how the initiating ministry intends to treat the settlers.” She went on to say that the settlement of Judea and Samaria is a fait accompli; it is not a temporary or transitory thing. The time has come, she insisted, for the State of Israel to treat all its citizens equally and apply the same laws to everyone, either within Israel itself or in what the rest of the world regards as occupied territory.

    This bill may or may not become law. Nevertheless, it seems odd to suggest, as many in the Israeli left seem to be doing, that the transformation of Israel into an apartheid state is somehow predicated on jettisoning a legal fiction, when in reality the legal distinction between Israel and the occupied West Bank has already been eroded by Tel Aviv to the point of non-existence.

    That being the case, it would seem appropriate to revisit the main reason why Israel is regarded by increasing numbers of people as an apartheid state. Those who are not completely familiar with how Israeli apartheid works, need to understand that apartheid comes in different forms: “petty apartheid” determines which public transport you may or may not use, for example, depending on your ethnicity; or which park you can sit in (or even which park bench you can sit on); which beach you can use, or bank or post office counter; and so on.

    “Grand apartheid”, however, is a different kettle of fish, and is something already in place in Israel. Its essence — and this should be obvious — is a desire to separate and segregate people on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity. The specifics will vary depending on the socio-political and historical context. The absence of well-known manifestations of apartheid, which are ingrained in our political and cultural consciousness because of the powerful images that came out of white-ruled South Africa, does not preclude the fact that apartheid is being implemented by Israel in a subtle and sophisticated manner. Shrill condemnation of anyone describing Israel as an apartheid state does not negate the reality of what it actually does.

    Israel may well allow its non-Jewish Palestinian (“Arab”) citizens — 20 per cent of the population —to vote in and stand for elections, but that is a democratic veneer hiding the fact that public resources are distributed disproportionately on the basis of whether this citizen or that citizen is a Jew or not; whether this town or that town is predominantly Jewish or not; whether this school or that college has mainly Jewish pupils or not. Indeed, village and town councils have the legal right to determine who can live in their area, based on whether they are Jewish or not.

    Maybe the problem is with the word apartheid itself, of which no self-respecting democrat would want to be accused. If such an accusation was to stick, it would derail the entire Israel project. Paradoxically, without the support of some clearly not so self-respecting democrats in Europe and America, Israel would not be able to enforce its apartheid policies using the fig-leaf of the old fabrication that it is “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

    The “purpose” and “intention” to maintain an “institutionalised regime” serving the goal of racial domination is at the core of apartheid, concluded a controversial UN report recently. The detailed assessment of Israeli practices towards the Palestinian people and the question of apartheid, prepared by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), was quarantined following pressure from US and Israel. We should not have been surprised, for the UN body said that “the Israeli regime is designed for this core purpose” of serving the goal of racial domination.

    The irony, as others have pointed out, is that the use of “apartheid” (literally, “separateness”, leading to systematic “separate development”) to describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians did not originate with opponents of the Israeli regime, let alone Arabs and Palestinians; it came from Israelis themselves. For decades, Israeli officials have employed the Hebrew term Hafrada (“Separation” or “Segregation”) to describe Israel’s governing policy in the West Bank and Gaza, and its attempts to separate the Palestinian population from both the Israeli population and the Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories. The so-called Israeli West Bank Barrier, known in Hebrew as “Gader Ha-Hafrada” (“Separation Fence”), was built on this vision.

    The word apartheid may be problematic for supporters of Israel, but the term describes more than adequately the reality of Israel’s official policy towards Palestinians. Israel’s critics are thus simply using Israel’s own terminology when cataloguing a long series of official declarations, platforms and plans predicated on Israel’s commitment to the principle of Hafrada.

    What’s more, this is not applied exclusively to Palestinians. The latest scheme to encourage Black African refugees to leave the country is that they must pay 20 per cent of their salary, with their employers paying a further 16 per cent, to the Israeli government, it being payable back to them only at a specific bank branch in Ben Gurion Airport on their way out. This is yet another example of how the Israeli government seeks to maintain the “purity” of the self-declared “Jewish state”. It does not enact policies that are openly racist fearing condemnation from Europe and America, which are hung up on petty apartheid (perhaps out of guilt for their support of white South Africa for decades); Israel does, however, enact laws that will, over time, ensure that separation and segregation are reinforced for the privilege of one racial and religious group over any other.

    Call it what you like, but the essence of separation and segregation overrides every government decision made in Israel and no legal fiction can hide that fact. Israel is an apartheid state; let’s not pretend otherwise.


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    BDS Lebanon warns theaters not to screen 'Wonder Woman' film starring Israeli


    Star Gal Gadot served in Israeli military and spoke in support of it, angering anti-Israel activists

    The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Lebanon on Sunday again issued a call to boycott the upcoming "Wonder Woman" film because it stars an Israeli.

    The movement's Lebanon branch published a post on its Facebook page warning that the star of the film was Israeli and tagged several major cinemas.

    BDS Lebanon criticized the casting of the Israeli Gal Gadot as far back as April 2016, when the actress played the same role in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice".

    In a letter sent that month by BDS to Lebanon's Economic MInistry, movement representative Dr. Abdel Malik Sukria highlighted Gadot's service in the Israeli military.

    "This actress served in the IDF and was crowned the beauty queen of Israel. She also revealed her support for the IDF during the last war in Gaza,"
    he wrote.

    Gadot has spoken publicly about her time in the Israeli military.

    Conscription to the army is compulsory in Israel and like many young women in the country Gadot spent two years in uniform.

    During the summer of 2014 Gadot sparked a heated online debate about the summer's fighting between Israel and Hamas when she posted a Facebook photo of herself and her daughter lighting Shabbat candles, accompanied by a message saying she was sending her "love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children."


  3. #83
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    US Senate approves motion calling for relocation of embassy to Jerusalem


    The US Senate has passed with an overwhelming majority a motion calling for President Donald Trump to relocate America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, US media reports said on Tuesday.

    A nonbinding motion was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the chamber’s top-ranking Democrat. It passed with bipartisan support of 90 to 0. The motion was part of measures that recognised the “reunification” of Jerusalem and considered it to be the eternal capital of Israel.

    During his election campaign, Trump promised to make the embassy move, but on 1 June he signed an order to keep it in Tel Aviv. East Jerusalem is still recognised in international law and at the UN as occupied territory. Israel’s unilateral annexation in the aftermath of the 1967 war has never been recognised as legitimate by the rest of the world.

    That has not stopped the Senate bending over to please the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington
    . “While we know that Israel continues to face a number of threats, bipartisan passage of this resolution will serve as yet another indication of the United States’ commitment to standing by our Israeli friends,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    The Washington Examiner pointed out that a 1995 law called for the US president to move the embassy to Jerusalem by 31 May, 1999, or else issue a waiver every six months.


  4. #84
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    Right-wing Israeli MK: ‘Palestinians were here before Jews’

    June 13, 2017

    A right-wing member of Israel’s Knesset has recognised that Palestinians existed on land now occupied by Israel before Jews came to the country.

    In the first statement of its kind issued by a right-wing leader, United Torah Judaism party

    Member, Moshe Gafni, said:

    Israel has no right to negotiate with the Palestinians because they were here before it and the Jews drove them out of their land.

    “The important thing is for Israel to be a Jewish state. Apart from that, we have no right to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians because they were here before us and we expelled them from here,” Arutz Sheva reported him saying.


  5. #85
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    Tunisia joins boycott of Wonder Woman

    June 7, 2017

    Following Lebanon, Tunisia will cancel showings of Hollywood's latest film, Wonder Woman.

    The Tunisian Association of Young Lawyers filed a lawsuit to cancel the broadcast of the film which was scheduled for public viewing today.

    According to the member of the Sedki Jelassi association, the cancellation was a reaction to comments made by the leading Israeli actress Gal Gadot in support of the "Zionist army who participated in the war against Gaza in 2014."

    President of the association, Yassine Younsi, told Business News: "we cannot accept that our children watch this film," which would amount to "normalising relations with Israel."

    Several people took to social media to criticise the association's position.

    Lassaad Goubantini, a distributor of the film in Tunisia, confirmed that it will not be broadcast and expressed confusion about the decision to cancel. "The decision not to allow the film to be broadcast is based on unfounded accusations," he told Huffington Post Tunisie.

    The Popular Front has also taken the same step to cancel the broadcast of the film. "The Popular Front has even contacted the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Mohamed Zine El Abidine, who promised to prevent the projection of the film in Tunisian cinemas, according to Deputy Tarek Barrak," according to their website.

    Gadot has featured in a series of films that have been previously shown in Tunisia.

    Planned for release tomorrow, on the sidelines of a festival in Algiers, the film's release in Algeria is also in question.

    "The film will be reprogrammed once the administrative constraints related to the exploitation rights have been settled," Amine Idjer, head of communications at MD Ciné, told AFP.

    He explained that the Algerian Ministry of Culture had ensured that this deprogramming had nothing to do with the campaign of boycott launched on the internet.

    Lebanon was the first country to ban the film in protest of the Israeli actress' role.

  6. #86
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    Israel boycott restrictions thrown out by UK’s High Court

    Asa Winstanley Activism and BDS Beat 22 June 2017

    The High Court in London ruled on Thursday that the Conservative government acted unlawfully in trying to prevent local councils in the United Kingdom from divesting from firms involved in Israel’s military occupation.

    The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in March, and was supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

    ”We couldn’t be happier that this right has been upheld by the court,” said PSC Director Ben Jamal.

    Recent UK polling showed that two in five people consider BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – a reasonable Palestinian response to Israel’s crimes.

    “Today is a victory for Palestine, for local democracy and for the rule of law,” PSC Chair Hugh Lanning said. “Absolutely everyone has a right to peacefully protest Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.”

    In a judicial review published on Thursday, judge Ross Cranston overturned part of a guidance document issued in September by local government minister Sajid Javid.

    The court ruled that the government had acted improperly by seeking to use pension law to pursue its own foreign and arms industry policy.
    Freedom to protest

    Jamie Potter, one of PSC’s lawyers, said, “this outcome is a reminder to the government that it cannot improperly interfere in the exercise of freedom of conscience and protest in order to pursue its own agenda.”

    The full ruling can be read below.

    The minister’s guidance had stated that local authorities must not use “pension policies to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defense industries … other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government.”

    Although the document did not specifically name Israel, it was part of a series of measures, launched at a press conference in Jerusalem, explicitly intended to target BDS campaigners.

    Although the government trailed it to the media as a “BDS ban,” legal analysis of the new documents showed there was nothing new in them “aside from some overblown rhetoric clearly intended to scare campaigners.”
    BDS gets the goods

    Local government bodies in the UK have for years been urged by Palestine solidarity campaigners to divest from companies that are involved in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

    French multinational Veolia withdrew from most Israeli businesses in 2015 after being the focus of a years-long BDS campaign.
    Municipalities around the world had dropped it from contracts worth more than $14 billion, according to the BDS National Committee.
    Veolia lost contracts with public bodies in London, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Canterbury, East Sussex and Winchester as a result of BDS campaigns.

    Councils in Tower Hamlets, Leicester, Swansea and Bristol are among those that have passed resolutions in support of BDS or condemning companies involved in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

    PDF at: https://electronicintifada.net/blogs...uks-high-court

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    Israeli occupation ‘the worst form of organised terror’

    June 12, 2017

    The Palestinian Authority has condemned all terrorism and described the crimes of Israel’s military occupation as “the worst form of organised terror,” Palestinian media reported on Sunday. The terror created by Israeli organisations — notably settlers’ groups and their supporters — was also condemned.

    “The real incubator of terror,” said the foreign ministry in Ramallah, “is the Israeli occupation.” The ministry renewed its warning about “increasing extremism within Israeli society” and its consequences for the Palestinians.

    An official statement placed the full responsibility for the “increasing extremism and terrorism” on the Israeli government. “Israeli terrorism and extremism is supported by the authorities and fed on the comments of extremist rabbis who justify crimes against the Palestinians.” Such rabbis, insisted the PA, “cover up” for the criminals and carry out “fake investigations” which do not deter the criminals and the terror organisations.

    The PA called for the international community and UN bodies to blacklist Israeli terror groups and take the necessary measures to hold the terrorists and their supporters accountable. International involvement in fighting terror, it said, must not ignore the reality of Israeli state terrorism which targets the Palestinian people on a daily basis.

    The Israeli occupation should be brought to an end as soon as possible, the ministry added.


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    Hebrew U professor: Israel today similar to Nazi Germany

    By Yocheved Laufer
    June 23, 2017 10:48

    "This is not a religious conflict, this is a political, national conflict which can be ended, and can be ended rather rapidly, if only the Israeli Government agreed to make some concessions; if only the Israeli Government agreed to end the occupation and reach a reliable and just peace with Palestinians ... that is the only solution. You cannot manage the conflict, as the Israeli Government has been trying to convince everybody. It's impossible to manage the conflict."

    Dr. Ofer Cassif of Hebrew University faces heavy criticism after his students leaked a video recording from his political science class.

    Hebrew University Professor, Dr. Ofer Cassif, compared recent Israeli legislation, both proposed and passed, to those of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany, reported Channel 2 on Thursday as a recording of his class became public.

    The statement occurred in a Politics and Government course as part of a preparatory college program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

    One of Cassif's students objected to the comparison, but the political science professor continued with his analogy stating that it is comfortable to deny the situation in order not to come to terms with reality, but that it would very dangerous to do so.

    He also explained to his students that the comparison is a matter of fact rather than opinion. His personal thoughts on the matter are even far more reaching.

    Cassif further criticized the current state of of affairs in Israel saying, "those who refuse to see the similarities between what is happening in Israel, specifically in the past two years, and Germany in the 1930s, has a problem and will be responsible for the potential situation of the state."

    Cassif drew specific parallels from recent Israeli legislature regarding Arabs and Jews, to policies of Nazi Germany.

    The Hebrew University professor stated that the proposed Israeli nation-state law is similar to 1930s Germany's methods of creating a hierarchy of citizens according to classes.

    Cassif also criticized recent legislation passed legalizing 4,000 homes in the West Bank, stating that this this law, "allows Jews to take over Palestinian-owned land for themselves, just like Aryans in 1930 Germany were allowed to kick Jews out of their homes."

    Cassif's next comparison was regarding the recent legislative proposal pushed by Netanyahu to ban funding from foreign NGOs. Cassif explained to his students that this bill is similar to laws passed in Nazi Germany limiting organizations that criticized the regime.

    The Israeli Right was furious about the teachings of Prof. Cassif.

    The Likud party defended the nation-state law, explaining that it "is based on the Israeli Declaration of Independence, and therefore this professor the very creation of the state is racist."

    “Comparing the State of Israel to the most wicked regime in the history of mankind is not only a disgusting display of anti-Israel propaganda, but something more severe than Holocaust denial,” said CEO of right wing NGO Im Tirtzu, Matan Peleg.

    In response to the criticism surrounding the publication of his lesson, Cassif stated that, "the purpose of a classroom is to hold discussions and I did not prevent any of my students from speaking, therefore I will not give in to the attempt to silence me and prevent an open and constructive discussion."

    He also added that he stands behind his Israel-Nazi comparisons.

    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem responded by saying that Cassif's "discussion took place during the class 'Fascism- past and present,' and it is unfortunate that certain students chose to record their professor when not agreeing with his stance, instead of conducting an open discussion based on facts and opinions."

    This is not the first time Cassif has been criticized for making Nazi comparisons regarding Israel.

    In late 2015, the Hebrew University professor called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked "neo-Nazi scum."

    In a similar occurrence Cassif took to social media last year, tweeting that Facebook blocked him for making a Hitler reference as a reaction to a pro-Netanyahu comment.

    This comes after Education Minister Naftali Bennett proposed a new ethics code for universities, banning professors from expressing their personal political stances in the classroom earlier this month.


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    Hebrew University professor: Every 'settler' is a terrorist

    'By definition, every settler is a terrorist', says Dr. Amiram Goldblum in Facebook post libeling former Yesha Council leader.

    A professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has declared that all Jews living in Judea and Samaria are terrorists, and accused Israel of being an apartheid state.

    Amiram Goldblum, a researcher and lecturer in the university’s medicinal chemistry department, blasted Jews living in Judea and Samaria, writing in a Facebook post Friday that by the very fact of their residence in the heart of the historic Jewish homeland, any Israeli living beyond the pre-1967 border is a “terrorist”.

    “By definition, every settler is a terrorist,” wrote Goldblum.

    The professor also took aim at a former Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council leader, Shlomo Filber, who previously headed the Communications Ministry, smearing him as a “terrorist, a liar, and a scoundrel”.

    “As someone who was a settler and Director-General of the Yesha Council, he was responsible for crimes against humanity, [and is linked] directly to crimes against the Palestinian people and should thus be put on trial by the international court at The Hague.”
    “Israel needs to start to cleanse itself from filthy creatures like Shlomo Filber and his ilk.”

    Filber has been accused of leaking documents to the Bezeq telecommunications company during his tenure as Communications Ministry Director-General.

    Last week’s online rant was not Goldblum’s first foray into political controversy. Earlier this year, Goldblum slammed anti-assimilation activist Benzi Gopstein as a “neo-Nazi”.

    Goldblum’s Facebook page includes a map of the State of Israel, with the words “Apartheid West Bank under Israeli control”.

    In 2015, Goldblum compared the creator of a viral video criticizing far-left NGOs with Julius Streicher, founder and publisher of the rabidly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi Der Sturmer.

    "But there appears to be a connection nonetheless, not genetic, of course," wrote Goldblum. "They are both particularly rotten apples on the human tree, both are despicable inciters, both serve fascist organizations and individuals. There is a small difference: Streicher did it out of ideology; Klughaft combines ideology and a prostitute's fee.”

    "I do not know if Klughaft traveled in order to study Streicher's methods in the vilest newspaper ever published in human history. But there is no doubt that he is advancing in the direction. Maybe Streicher appears in Klughaft's dreams?"

    In the past, Goldblum served as a spokesman for the radical left-wing Peace Now organization, is a board member of the New Israel Fund. In 2013, Goldblum ran for the Knesset with the far-left Meretz party.

    Last month, another Hebrew University professor drew criticism after he likened Israel to Nazi Germany.

    Ofer Cassif, a member of the Hebrew University’s political science department, warned that Israel is “on a slippery slope to fascism”.

    "There's not really much to argue about here," added Cassif. “I'm sure that if we were sitting... in the University of Freiburg in 1933, and there would be a professor who would dare to speak like I did, there, too, some of the students would say 'Well, that's your opinion'. Guys, no, it’s not. Just because something is hard for us to hear doesn't make it opinion."



    Israeli settler runs over Palestinian girl in occupied Hebron

    July 20, 2017

    A Palestinian girl was left wounded after she was hit by an Israeli settler vehicle today in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

    Local sources told Quds Press that the 10-year old girl, Wijdan Faris Nasser Al-Jabari, was transferred to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem for receiving medical care after she was seriously injured in the accident that took place in Wadi Al-Hsien area, near the Kiryat Arba illegal settlement in the occupied Hebron city.

    Incidents involving Israeli settlers ramming Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories have been recently common.


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    US Senators Pushing for 20 Years in Prison for Citizens Who Support Boycotting Israel

    United States senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties are pushing to implement a bill that would make it a felony to support boycotting Israel, punishable by up to twenty years in prison. On Monday, the ACLU issued a letter to the Senate opposing the proposed legislation, which was introduced in March by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). It was “drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC],” according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
    The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720), which has a total of 43 sponsors in the Senate (14 Democrats and 29 Republicans), seeks to broaden the the Export Administration Act of 1979 “to include in the prohibitions on boycotts against allies of the United States boycotts fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel and to direct the Export-Import Bank of the United States to oppose boycotts against Israel, and for other purposes.”

    The bill in its current form would also make it illegal to even request information about boycotts against Israel, and violations would carry a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years behind bars. If passed, this legislation would effectively put U.S. citizens behind bars for up to twenty years for nothing more than their political beliefs.

    “The impacts of the legislation would be antithetical to free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment,” the ACLU wrote.

    The organization also pointed out the contradictory nature of the proposed measure, explaining it“cannot fairly be characterized as an anti-discrimination measure, as some would argue. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already prevents businesses from discriminating against customers based on race, color, religion, and national origin. This bill, on the other hand, aims to punish people who support international boycotts that are meant to protest Israeli government policies, while leaving those who agree with Israeli government policies free from the threat of sanctions for engaging in the exact same behavior.

    It continues:

    “Whatever their merits, such boycotts rightly enjoy First Amendment protection.1 By penalizing those who support international boycotts of Israel, S.720 seeks only to punish the exercise of constitutional rights.”

    If passed, this tyrannical bipartisan bill would blatantly violate the constitutional rights of every United States citizen by punishing individuals based on nothing but their political opinions and decisions as consumers.

    There is no coming back from that.



    Opposing Zionism is not racism, rules Scottish court

    July 14, 2017

    In yet another landmark legal victory, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign emerged from court victorious today after being accused of racism. Their “crime”? Standing up to Zionism.

    The trial ended three years of speculation and pressure for SPSC members whose robust defence of their actions won the day in Glasgow Sherriff’s Court when the verdict was announced on Friday.

    Five days of evidence and cross-examinations earlier this month focussed on the actions of two SPSC members who faced charges of racism and aggravated trespass for a protest against Israeli company Jericho cosmetics, which operates around the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank. The protest was held in the wake of Israel’s 2014 military offensive against Palestinian civilians besieged in the Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed by the Israelis during the offensive, including 550 children, before in the war ended on 26 August. During the demonstration on 13 September 2014, the SPSC protesters denounced the killings.

    Police were called to the shopping centre where the protest was being held, leading to the arrest of the two SPSC members accused of racism. “In other words,” explained Mick Napier, one of those arrested, “we were accused of being motivated by hatred of Israelis rather than opposition to Israel’s repeated massacres, apartheid across the whole of Palestine and genocidal violence in Gaza.”

    During the Glasgow trial, the SPSC was buoyed by a High Court ruling in London that the Conservative government in Westminster acted unlawfully when it tried to prevent local councils in Britain from divesting from companies involved in Israel’s military occupation. The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London, supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

    However, Napier wasn’t convinced that the result of the latest trial was a foregone conclusion. “Given their past record, we felt it was unlikely that even this High Court ruling in favour of BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] would stop Scottish prosecutors’ related efforts to criminalise the campaign in support of Palestinian freedom.”

    The prosecutor — called the Procurator Fiscal in the Scottish legal system — claimed in open court that the two accused in the Glasgow case were recycling an ancient anti-Semitic “Jewish blood libel” by speaking about Israeli mass murder of Palestinians. The Procurator Fiscal’s office made these claims, said Napier, while the violated people of Gaza “were still looking for ice-cream freezers and vegetable refrigerators in which to store the bodies of children killed by Israel’s military.”

    In their testimony last month, Napier and his co-accused Jim Watson both rejected the claims made by prosecution witnesses, a Chief Inspector of police, the manager of the Jericho stall and two local Zionist activists. The prosecution claim was that staff were intimidated by “racist” placards and the shouting of “racist abuse”; this was the description of the SPSC’s criticism of the pro-Israel counter-demonstrators for supporting Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians.

    The “racist” placard with which the Procurator Fiscal and Zionist witnesses took particular issue was a symbolic but graphic image of blood dripping under the name “Dead Sea cosmetics”. Napier pointed out that at the time of their protest, the UN Secretary-General was describing Israel’s massacre of thousands of Palestinians as a “moral outrage and criminal act” and a “gross violation of humanitarian law.”

    “When the Scottish government joined in by denouncing the ‘deep inhumanity’ of the Israeli massacre,” noted Napier, “the Scottish procurators fiscal were working hand in glove with pro-Israel lobby groups to silence voices of Palestine solidarity.”

    The SPSC has faced repeated efforts by pro-Israel lobbyists and Scottish prosecutors to criminalise the group’s pro-Palestine activities. The Zionist record to-date is one of almost total failure; legal action has failed to secure any convictions of pro-Palestine activists. “There was, however, a consolation prize [for the Zionists] when we were both found guilty of refusing to leave the shopping centre when asked to do so by the police,” said Napier. “I was also convicted of aggravated trespass for protesting inside the shopping centre. We will be appealing against both convictions so any celebrations by the Zionists will, I suggest, be a bit premature.”

    In February last year, two employees of the pro-Israel Community Security Trust made allegations against SPSC members but that was also thrown out by Kilmarnock Sheriff Court when the Sheriff ruled that the crime as alleged had not taken place. “Had we not had the benefit of an Al-Jazeera Arabic language broadcast of the protest where the CST tried to secure an assault conviction there might have been a different outcome,” added Mick Napier.

    Anyone wanting to help the legal fund for this latest appeal can donate on the SPSC website here: http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk


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    TfL bans ads displaying Palestinian objections to Balfour declaration

    Body accused of censorship after adverts banned from tube stations and buses in run-up to centenary of first world war pledge

    Adverts highlighting Palestinian objections to the Balfour declaration of 1917, when Britain promised to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine, have been blocked by Transport for London on the grounds that the issue is politically controversial.

    Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, has accused TfL of censorship. Organisers had hoped to see the adverts displayed at key underground stations and on buses in the run-up to the centenary of the first world war pledge on 2 November.

    Theresa May and her Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, are expected to be the guests of honour at a London dinner celebrating the occasion, the most high-profile of several events. There are planned protests demanding that the UK, which has refused to apologise for the declaration, work to advance Palestinian rights and recognise the injustice and continuing consequences of its promise.

    The advertising campaign, called Make It Right, was commissioned by the Palestine Mission to the UK. It included contrasting images of Palestinian life before and after 1948, when Israel won its war of independence and some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes. It also quoted the declaration’s famous qualification that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. It did not mention Israel.

    Arthur Balfour was foreign secretary in David Lloyd George’s government, which planned to carve up the territories of the Ottoman empire after the war and believed British interests could be served by supporting Zionist ambitions in Palestine even as other incompatible commitments had been made to Arab nationalists as well as to its allies, France and Russia.

    TfL rejected the adverts because they “did not comply fully with our guidelines,” a spokesman said. Clause 2.3(h) refers to “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity”. TfL also bans causes that are “party political”.

    The advertising agency involved was not asked to make changes, as often happens, and was informed after an unusually long delay that the campaign would not be approved. It was unclear why an identical teaser ad, which was displayed in Westminster underground station last year, had been cleared.

    Hassassian said in a statement: “Palestinian history is a censored history. There has been a 100-year-long cover-up of the British government’s broken promise, in the Balfour declaration, to safeguard the rights of the Palestinians when it gave away their country to another people. TfL’s decision is not surprising as it is, at best, susceptible to or, at worst, complicit with, all the institutional forces and active lobby groups which continuously work to silence the Palestinian narrative. There may be free speech in Britain on every issue under the sun but not on Palestine.”

    Tfl and the Foreign Office denied they had discussed the advertising campaign. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was not involved in the decision.

    The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, demanded last year that Britain apologise for the Balfour declaration. The government said in April that it would not do so, adding that “establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against the background of centuries of persecution”.

    However, it recognised that the declaration should have also called for the protection of Arab political rights and reiterated the importance of achieving “security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians through a lasting peace”. In recent weeks Arabic-language Foreign Office statements have emphasised that the UK is not interested in symbols and gestures but practical measures to help Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation.

    Hassassian said: “There has been a 100-year-long cover-up of Israel’s crimes: its ethnic cleansing of the majority of the Palestinian population in 1948; its unrelenting years of aggression and present brutal occupation.”

    The Make It Right ads will be displayed on taxis, which are subject to less stringent advertising rules. The taxis are expected to drive around events organised by those celebrating the centenary, including Christian Zionists, who are organising a rally at the Albert Hall.

    Israeli officials say it is right to celebrate the centenary and have accused those demanding an apology of being antisemitic and ignoring Palestinian hostility and intransigence.



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