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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.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...end-otherwise/

  2. #82
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    BDS Lebanon warns theaters not to screen 'Wonder Woman' film starring Israeli


    5.29.17

    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."


    http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/cultur...arring-israeli


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

    6.7.17

    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.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...-to-jerusalem/

  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.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...e-before-jews/

  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.
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...-wonder-woman/


 

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