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Not to be forgotten Palistinians

December 29th, 2008

 

Aloha,  It is with great sadness that I am forwarding this article.  And since our owned Jewish media does not report the horrors of the Concentration Camps full of Palestinians being held captive by Israel, it is up to each of us who care about these defenseless poor people, who have been held in unspeakable conditions for 40 years, to speak up loudly for them.  Please forward this article widely, we need to do our part in ending this tragic occupation.  Mahalo

 

“How can keeping food and medicine from the people of Gaza protect the people of Israel? How can the impoverishment and suffering of Gaza’s children – more than 50 per cent of the population – benefit anyone? 

The tactic of restricting caloric intake to weaken subject populations is not figuratively ‘Nazi,’ it is literally what took place in Warsaw and elsewhere under the Nazi terror regime. It is a war crime.”

 

UPDATE DEC. 27: Here is an iron rule of the modern age. Whenever you think a situation has gotten so hellish that it can’t get worse — it will get worse. The piece below examined the literally atrocious condition of Gaza at Christmas. Now, of course, that situation has grown infinitely worse, with a massive Israeli airstrike, killing at least 200 people so far — children among them, of course — with more hell promised to come. 

 

What is happening in the Holy Land during this holiest of seasons? Sara Roy reports in the London Review of Books:

 

Israel’s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then….

On 5 November the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. Food, medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertiliser, plastic sheeting, phones, paper, glue, shoes and even teacups are no longer getting through in sufficient quantities or at all. According to Oxfam only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza in November. This means that an average of 4.6 trucks per day entered the strip compared to an average of 123 in October this year and 564 in December 2005. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza, and requires 15 trucks of food daily to do so. Between 5 November and 30 November, only 23 trucks arrived, around 6 per cent of the total needed; during the week of 30 November it received 12 trucks, or 11 per cent of what was required. There were three days in November when UNRWA ran out of food, with the result that on each of these days 20,000 people were unable to receive their scheduled supply. According to John Ging, the director of UNRWA in Gaza, most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. On 18 December UNRWA suspended all food distribution for both emergency and regular programmes because of the blockade.

The WFP has had similar problems, sending only 35 trucks out of the 190 it had scheduled to cover Gazans’ needs until the start of February (six more were allowed in between 30 November and 6 December). Not only that: the WFP has to pay to store food that isn’t being sent to Gaza. This cost $215,000 in November alone. If the siege continues, the WFP will have to pay an extra $150,000 for storage in December, money that will be used not to support Palestinians but to benefit Israeli business.

The majority of commercial bakeries in Gaza – 30 out of 47 – have had to close because they have run out of cooking gas. People are using any fuel they can find to cook with. As the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has made clear, cooking-gas canisters are necessary for generating the warmth to incubate broiler chicks. Shortages of gas and animal feed have forced commercial producers to smother hundreds of thousands of chicks. By April, according to the FAO, there will be no poultry there at all: 70 per cent of Gazans rely on chicken as a major source of protein.

Banks, suffering from Israeli restrictions on the transfer of banknotes into the territory were forced to close on 4 December. A sign on the door of one read: ‘Due to the decision of the Palestinian Finance Authority, the bank will be closed today Thursday, 4.12.2008, because of the unavailability of cash money, and the bank will be reopened once the cash money is available.’…

During the week of 30 November, 394,000 litres of industrial diesel were allowed in for the power plant: approximately 18 per cent of the weekly minimum that Israel is legally obliged to allow in. It was enough for one turbine to run for two days before the plant was shut down again. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company said that most of the Gaza Strip will be without electricity for between four and 12 hours a day. At any given time during these outages, over 65,000 people have no electricity.

No other diesel fuel (for standby generators and transport) was delivered during that week, no petrol (which has been kept out since early November) or cooking gas. Gaza’s hospitals are apparently relying on diesel and gas smuggled from Egypt via the tunnels; these supplies are said to be administered and taxed by Hamas. Even so, two of Gaza’s hospitals have been out of cooking gas since the week of 23 November.

The breakdown of an entire society is happening in front of us, but there is little international response beyond UN warnings which are ignored. The European Union announced recently that it wanted to strengthen its relationship with Israel while the Israeli leadership openly calls for a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip and continues its economic stranglehold over the territory with, it appears, the not-so-tacit support of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah – which has been co-operating with Israel on a number of measures. On 19 December Hamas officially ended its truce with Israel, which Israel said it wanted to renew, because of Israel’s failure to ease the blockade.

How can keeping food and medicine from the people of Gaza protect the people of Israel? How can the impoverishment and suffering of Gaza’s children – more than 50 per cent of the population – benefit anyone? 

As Roy notes, the UN has sounded some warnings about the situation in Gaza and has attempted to document the situation there. How has Israel responded to these efforts? Stephen Lendman reports on the treatment given to Richard Falk, a Jewish American who is the UN Human Rights Council Special Investigator for the Occupied Territories.

 

On December 14, he arrived at Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv to perform his assigned duties. He led a three-person mission that intended to visit the West Bank and Gaza, assess conditions on the ground, then report on Israel’s compliance with human rights standards and international humanitarian law….

Nonetheless, he was denied entry and harassed as follows:

 

despite his UN status, he was put in a holding room with about 20 others experiencing entry problems; 

then “treated not as a UN representative, but as some sort of security threat, subjected to an inch-by-inch body search and the most meticulous luggage inspection I have ever witnessed;” 

separated from his two UN companions; they were allowed entry and taken to the airport facility about a mile away; 

required to put his luggage and cell phone in a room, then taken to a “locked tiny room that smelled of urine and filth;” 

five other detainees were with him in very cramped, uncomfortable quarters; 

he was confined there for the next 15 hours, “which amounted to a cram course on the miseries of prison life, including dirty sheets, inedible food and lights that were too bright or darkness controlled from the guard office;” 

Israel’s “obvious intention (was) to teach me, and more significantly, the UN a lesson: there will be no cooperation with those who make strong criticisms of Israel’s occupation policy.”

One can only imagine the uproar if a UN envoy to, say, Iran or Syria or Russia was given this kind of treatment. Indeed, you don’t have to imagine it. You need only look at news reports of the recent incident when Jimmy Carter and other who had come to investigate depredations by the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe were turned away at the border. Yet not only has Israel been allowed to impose this horrific collective punishment on Gaza, it is now gathering “international support” for a full-scale assault on the besieged enclave, as Israel’s ynetnews.com reports:

 

Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and Israel’s ambassadors around the world are preparing to launch a global effort in a bid to secure backing for the anticipated operation in the Gaza Strip….

As reported by Ynet, the triumvirate of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Livni ruled in favor of the operation in a clandestine meeting last Thursday. The international diplomatic groundwork was one of the steps the three agreed would have to precede the operation.

So on the holiest of days in the homeland of Christ, we stand on the precipice of an even greater disaster. And when it happens, let no one say they didn’t see it coming. As Lendman notes, Falk has been speaking forcefully on the growing horror and atrocity in Gaza for a long time. In an article from July 2007, Falk wrote:

 

“It is especially painful for me, as an American Jew, to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor as ‘holocaust’….Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians (in such terms)? I think not.”

He condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza and referred to subjecting “an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty.” He called it “a holocaust-in-the-making” and appealed to world governments and international public opinion “to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy.”

He urged concerted action to spare Gazans “from further pain and suffering.” He took umbrage with how America supports Israel and with European governments for having “lent their weight to recent illicit (and overt) efforts to crush Hamas as (the legitimate) Palestinian (government).” He referred to “Israel’s impunity under America’s geopolitical umbrella,” and the immorality of the international community watching Gaza’s “ugly spectacle unfold while some of its most influential members actively encourage and assist Israel” in its efforts…

He condemned Israel for being “more determined than ever to foment civil war in Palestine,” arm and pit Fatah against Hamas, “make Gazans pay with their well being and lives,” crush their will, and maintain separate Gaza and West Bank “destinies…”

“To persist with such an approach under present circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community….” This prospect sends a “warning of a Palestinian holocaust in the making, and should remind the world of the famous post-Nazi pledge of ‘never again.’”

It seems to be the tragic fate of this generation of Israel to teach the world, once more, the bitter lesson of the universality of human evil. This base drive to impose suffering on others — out of fear, out of greed, out of the lust to dominate — lives in us all, in every individual, every nation, every people, every tribe, every sect, every clan. It must be resisted at all of these levels — beginning within, of course. And when it breaks out into the open, we must condemn it forthrightly, call it what it is, no matter what form it takes or who unleashes it. 

 

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yankee 30 said:  

I read this morning that our ghoulish homeland security secretary is forecasting five years of terror threats based on instability in the middle-east! Real luminaries, our fearless leaders! 

 

 

December 26, 2008

Votes: +1 

 

scott douglas said:  

While the population density of the Gaza strip is not up to Warsaw Ghetto standards, it is nonetheless currently the most crowded piece of hell on earth. Two thirds of the human beings trapped there are already refugees from Palestine, not native Gazans. The tactic of restricting caloric intake to weaken subject populations is not figuratively ‘Nazi,’ it is literally what took place in Warsaw and elsewhere under the Nazi terror regime. It is a war crime. As I type this footnote, there are Reuters reports of massive missile strikes beginning against the crowded urban enclave launched from aircraft of the Israeli government, supplied by US manufacturers and paid for largely with American tax dollars. You know, the money the US makes from your labor – leaving you the remainder “to buy the funeral-coats and anti-dotes they show (you) on TV.” While I recognize that there are at least two points of view in every national conflict, I cannot fathom any Zionist looking upon the actions of the Nation of Israel in this instance with anything but grave sadness, contempt, and a sickened stomach-curdled horror shot through with the looming Fear of God… 

But enough of this useless hyperbole: Let the tanks roll! 

 

 

December 27, 2008 | url 

Votes: +0 

 

lordmisterford said:  

One imagines the Zionists see

One imagines the Zionists see a time coming when an impoverished U.S. calls its forces home and no longer has money to squander on the state of Israel and foreign aid and military arsenals for thuggish shitholes pretending democracy. They’re out to exterminate the Palestinians before Uncle Sam quits buying the bullets. 

 

December 27, 2008 | url 

Votes: +0 

 

yankee 30 said:  

Yes, yes, and until Uncle Sam quits buying the bullets, we can only reel in horrorstruck awe! Though ‘defense’ will be the last sector to see budget cuts, the day is coming. The ‘live free or die’ ethic has merit, but, unfortunately, most of the dying is being done by the unarmed and unprotected. In this cruelest of meantimes, organized, peaceful, non-participation, is the only response. And may God have mercy. 

 

December 27, 2008

Votes: +0 

 

Bia said:  

Nice to know where our hard-earned tax money is going, eh? 

Is it time to refuse to pay that portion that goes to pay for Zionazi thuggery yet? 

 

 

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Palestinians Not Forgotten at UN

December 4th, 2008

> PALESTINE : DEVELOPMENT:
>  
> UN ASSEMBLY HEAD HAILED FOR SLAMMING ISRAEL
> By Thalif Deen,  The Electronic Intifada, 3 December 2008
>
> UNITED NATIONS  (IPS) – The president of the United Nations
> General Assembly, Father  Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann,
> dropped a political bombshell last week  when he lashed out
> at Israel for its repressive actions in the  Occupied
> Palestinian Territories, including the recent blockade  of
> humanitarian aid to Gaza. “What is being done to the
>  Palestinian people seems to me to be a version of the
> hideous policy  of apartheid,” he told delegates, during a
> meeting commemorating the  ”International Day of Solidarity
> with the Palestinian People.”
>  
> http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10006.shtml
>
>  ———————————————————-
>
>  PALESTINE : OPINION/EDITORIAL:
>
> WILL PALESTINIANS HIT  HILLARY’S GLASS CEILING?
> By Dr. Marcy Newman, The Electronic  Intifada, 2 December 2008
>
> It is difficult to recall a US  secretary of state who
> embodied the ideals of the position: the  promotion of
> dialogue and privileging of diplomacy. Unfortunately,  US
> President-elect Barack Obama‘s nominee, Hillary Clinton,
> is  not likely to restore these ideals to the office.
> Clinton has long  championed military action against the
> former Yugoslavia, Iraq and has  promised to “obliterate”
> Iran if the state launched a nuclear strike  against
> Israel. Dr. Marcy Newman comments for The Electronic
>  Intifada.
>
>  http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10000.shtml
>
>  ———————————————————-
>
>  PALESTINE : HUMAN RIGHTS:
>
> RIGHTS ORG: GAZA FLOUR STOCKS  SUFFICENT FOR LESS THAN THREE MORE DAYS
> Press release, PCHR, 2  December 2008
>
> On the 27th consecutive day of closure, the  Gaza power
> plant has been forced to shut down due to lack of  fuel,
> and Gazans are now totally dependent on electricity
>  generated from Israel, and to a lesser extent, Egypt.
> There are also  chronic severe shortages of domestic
> cooking gas. Regarding essential  food items, IOF have not
> permitted any consignments of flour to enter  the Gaza
> Strip for one week, and current stocks are sufficient  for
> just less than three days.
>
>  http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10003.shtml
>
>  ———————————————————-
>
>  PALESTINE : ACTIVISM NEWS:
>
> MORE TRANSNATIONAL COMPANIES  DIVEST FROM ILLEGAL INDUSTRIAL SETTLEMENTS
> By Adri Nieuwhof, The  Electronic Intifada, 2 December 2008
>
> The movement in Europe  to put pressure on companies that
> benefit from the occupation is  growing. Over the last few
> months, European, Palestinian and Israeli  activists have
> won significant victories toward the 2005 call  by
> Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and
>  sanctions against Israel. In early October, Barkan
> Wineries, a  subsidiary of Tempo Beer Industry Ltd.,
> decided to divest from an  illegal settlement in the Barkan
> Industrial Park. Adri Nieuwhof  reports.
>
>  http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10001.shtml

 

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Support the brave Shministim

December 3rd, 2008

 

 

Dear Bringers of Peace,

We encourage you to take a few moments to consider how valuable your voice

will be in support of the courageous youths who resist tyranny.

In Service,

+ Isaiah & Elena +

==================================================================

 

A note from Ayelet Ophir-Auron, 

mother of jailed Shminist Yuval Ophir-Auron.

 

It’s hard to believe that people all around the world are learning about my 19-year-old son Yuval. I know that I’m proud of him. I just never expected the world to be proud of him. I can’t thank you strongly enough Tell your friends to send a letter to the 

Israeli Minister of Defense

I am Yuval Ophir-Auron. 

I am one of the Shministim. 

I need your help. 

for your words of support for Yuval and his fellow activists and friends.

 

As I write this, Yuval’s in jail, serving his second term. We don’t know how or when this will end. 

When Yuval was 9 years old he met Palestinians for the first time while we were visiting them after being liberated from jail as administrative detainees. I think this was probably the first time something in his naïve conception about good and bad was broken and he began to ask questions.

It’s hard to be a mother of a kid like this. I want him to be enjoying his teenage years. I want him to benefit from the fruits of my and Yuval’s father’s labor, and I want him to live in a world where he doesn’t have to serve in a military that occupies another people. I am sad that I haven’t been able to create that world for him. But I am proud that he’s trying to create it for himself.

Here’s why it matters that the rest of the world is paying attention to Yuval, Raz, and the other Shministim. 

The Israeli government would like nothing better than to believe that everyone in the world supports Israel unconditionally. Hell, even people in Israel don’t unconditionally support it.

The sad fact is that the occupation is destroying us all- Israelis and Palestinians alike. Supporting the Shministim is a way to do your part to end the occupation and bring comfort and well-being to our peoples.

Like you, I sent a letter. Now I want you to tell everyone you know about the Shministim.

Please paste http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/t/8319/tellafriend.jsp?

and spread the word.   Your support means so much to my son and his friends, to me, to all of us who want and deserve a real future in this part of the world.

 

Thank you,

 

Ayelet Ophir-Auron

Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam, Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Bringers of Peace,

We encourage you to take a few moments to consider how valuable your voice

will be in support of the courageous youths who resist tyranny.

In Service,

+ Isaiah & Elena +

==================================================================

 

A note from Ayelet Ophir-Auron, 

mother of jailed Shminist Yuval Ophir-Auron.

 

 

 

 

Dear Isaiah,

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that people all around the world are learning about my 19-year-old son Yuval. I know that I’m proud of him. I just never expected the world to be proud of him. I can’t thank you strongly enough Tell your friends to send a letter to the 

Israeli Minister of Defense.

 

 

 

I am Yuval Ophir-Auron. 

I am one of the Shministim. 

I need your help. 

for your words of support for Yuval and his fellow activists and friends.

 

As I write this, Yuval’s in jail, serving his second term. We don’t know how or when this will end. 

 

 

 

When Yuval was 9 years old he met Palestinians for the first time while we were visiting them after being liberated from jail as administrative detainees. I think this was probably the first time something in his naïve conception about good and bad was broken and he began to ask questions.

 

It’s hard to be a mother of a kid like this. I want him to be enjoying his teenage years. I want him to benefit from the fruits of my and Yuval’s father’s labor, and I want him to live in a world where he doesn’t have to serve in a military that occupies another people. I am sad that I haven’t been able to create that world for him. But I am proud that he’s trying to create it for himself.

 

Here’s why it matters that the rest of the world is paying attention to Yuval, Raz, and the other Shministim. 

 

The Israeli government would like nothing better than to believe that everyone in the world supports Israel unconditionally. Hell, even people in Israel don’t unconditionally support it.

 

The sad fact is that the occupation is destroying us all- Israelis and Palestinians alike. Supporting the Shministim is a way to do your part to end the occupation and bring comfort and well-being to our peoples.

 

Like you, I sent a letter. Now I want you to tell everyone you know about the Shministim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please click on this tell-a-friend link now and spread the word.   Your support means so much to my son and his friends, to me, to all of us who want and deserve a real future in this part of the world.

 

Thank you,

 

Ayelet Ophir-Auron

Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam, Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amy Goodman not ignoring the Gaza tragedy

December 1st, 2008

Subject: [DoP Local Organizer] FW: Democracy Now! | Amy Goodman‘s New Column, “Tutu, Obama and the Middle East

listen to amy goodman Speaks up for the people in Gaza , and tell your friends about their ignored tragedy

> Subject: Democracy Now! | Amy Goodman’s New Column, “Tutu, Obama and the Middle East”
> Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2008 23:46:09 -0600
>
> http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2008/11/26/amy_goodmans_new_column_tutu_obama_and_the_middle_east
_______________________________________________
LocalOrganizer mailing list
LocalOrganizer@declarepeace.org
http://lists.declarepeace.org/mailman/listinfo/localorganizer

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Apartheid in Israel

November 24th, 2008

 

While Pres-elect Barack Obama gave former president Jimmy Carter the snub, the Europeans are getting serious about boycotting Israeli industries much like they did So. Africa which led to the elimination of the Apartheid system, our country was slow to help there too.  If the Israelis did not control our media and our government, Americans might join in helping overturn the Apartheid system in the Israeli occupied territories of the Palestinians.  

Tactic vs. Strategy
Boycotting Israeli Settlement Products
By OMAR BARGHOUTI

A spate of recent news reports on international companies moving out of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) to locations inside pre-1967 Israeli borders gives the impression that boycotting products originating in illegal Israeli colonies is on its way to becoming mainstream, handing the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement with a fresh, substantial victory. While this development should indeed be celebrated by all BDS activists anywhere, caution is called for in distinguishing between advocating such a targeted boycott as a tactic, leading to the ultimate goal of boycotting all Israeli goods and services, and as an end in itself. While the former may be necessary in some countries as a convenient tool of raising awareness and promoting debate about Israel’s colonial and apartheid regime, the latter, despite its lure, would be in direct contradiction with the stated objectives of the Palestinian boycott movement.

Most recently, the Swedish company, Assa Abloy, heeded appeals from the Church of Sweden and other prominent Swedish organizations and decided to move its Mul-T-Lock door factory from the industrial zone of the Barkan colony in the occupied West Bank to a yet-unannounced location inside Israel, following the lead of Barkan Wineries, a partially Dutch-owned company that had already left Barkan to Kibbutz Hulda. The fact that part of this kibbutz sits on top of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose name, Khulda, the Kibbutz had – typically – appropriated was not viewed, apparently, as worthy enough to be mentioned in the documents accusing the wine maker of wrongdoing, according to international law.

Moreover, in a noteworthy precedent, The Independent reported last week that the British government has decided to “crack down on exports from Israeli settlements,” based on the fact that Israel has persistently violated its trade agreements with the EU which provide tariff exemptions only to goods produced within Israel, not in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). Conforming to United Nations resolutions and international law, the United Kingdom, its EU partners, along with almost the entire so-called international community, consider Israeli settlements illegal, even a war crime, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and therefore refuse to extend any tariff privileges to their products.

In reality, though, EU countries have for decades looked the other way while Israel exported its colonies’ products as produce of Israel.

According to an article in Haaretz on the background to this unfolding trade row between Israel and the UK – and potentially the whole EU – Israel had agreed, in past disputes with the EU, to indicate on its products exported to the EU countries the geographic origin of its goods. Britain, however, charges that “Israeli companies located in settlements try to get around the agreement by registering company offices within the Green Line,” effectively obfuscating the lines distinguishing settlement products from other Israeli products, thereby breaching clauses in its agreements with the EU that specifically target the former.

Following intensive pressure from British and Palestinian human rights groups as well as from a fast spreading-and quite promising-boycott campaign against Israel in the UK that reached the ivory tower of the academy as well as the largest trade unions, it seems that the British government is finally taking note of Israel’s most obvious and unmistakable illegal practices and trying to work with its partners to put an end to them.

This evolving, commendable British policy, actually a belated recognition of the need to respect and implement a long-approved European policy, shows that the position advocated by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to boycott all Israeli products is not only morally but also pragmatically sound. At a most basic level, one would expect the BDS campaign’s ceiling of demands to be rather higher than that of the British Government‘s.

In fact, while the Palestinian BDS movement has consistently expressed its deep appreciation of every effort to treat Israel as apartheid South Africa was, it views the whole approach of focusing on banning only settlement products as the ultimate goal, rather than as a first, more convenient step towards a general Israeli products boycott, as problematic, practically, politically and morally.   

At a practical level, as argued above, Israel has made it extremely difficult to differentiate between settlement and other Israeli products, simply because the majority of parent companies are based inside Israel. Most organic Israeli products, for instance, are produced in the illegal colonies in the OPT but are labelled as product of Israel since the actual companies that sell them are based inside Israel, and that’s where quite often the final packaging (the last phase of the production process) is done.  This type of deception is commonplace, especially since Israel is well aware that it is violating the EU-Israel trade agreement and is doing its best to get around the restrictions included in it.  The only reason Israel has managed to get away with such blatant violation for so long is not technical but political: shameful – and, unfortunately, quite typical – EU official complacency and treatment of Israel as a state above the law of nations.

Still, some genuine supporters of Palestinian rights may argue, it is much easier to continue to target settlement products with boycott as there is a consensus of sorts on the illegality of the settlements, whereas the same cannot be said about other Israeli injustices that may motivate a more comprehensive boycott, as urged in the Palestinian BDS Call and called for in the final declaration of the recently launched Bilbao Initiative of civil society in support of justice in Palestine. Even if one were to accept this pragmatic argument, the fact that Israel has failed to distinguish between settlement products and other Israeli products should justify — at a tactical level — advocating a boycott of all Israeli products and services at least until Israel adequately complies with the EU requirement of labelling settlement products clearly and accurately.

Politically speaking, though, and even if distinguishing between produce of settlements and produce of Israel were possible, activists who on principle – rather than out of convenience – advocate a boycott of only the former may indicate that they themselves are merely objecting to the Israeli military occupation and colonization of 1967 and have no problem whatsoever with Israel as a state that practices apartheid, or institutionalized racial discrimination, against its own “non-Jewish” citizens and that denies Palestinian refugee rights, sanctioned by the UN. Even if we ignore those other grave injustices committed by Israel, and irrespective of what solution to this entire oppression any of us may uphold, one cannot but recognize the inherent flaws in this argument.

When a state X occupies another “state” Y and persistently violates UN resolutions calling for an end to this occupation, the international community often punishes X and not some manifestation of X’s occupation! Governments aside, international civil society organizations have repeatedly boycotted entire states implicated in prolonged belligerent occupation, apartheid or other severe human rights violations, and not just parts of those states. Was there ever a movement calling for boycotting the bantustans alone in South Africa? Are there calls for boycotting only the Sudanese army and government officials present in Darfur today? Did any of the free-Tibet activists ever call for boycotting only those Chinese products made in Tibet?

Forgetting for the moment the fact that it was born out of ethnic cleansing and the destruction of the indigenous Palestinian society, Israel is the state that built and is fully responsible for maintaining the illegal Jewish colonies. Why should anyone punish the settlements and not Israel? This hardly makes any sense, politically speaking. Despite their noble intentions, people of conscience supporting peace and justice in Palestine who accept this distinction are effectively accommodating Israeli exceptionalism, or Israel’s status as a state above the law.

Finally, and most crucially, there is a moral problem that must be addressed in this approach. Ignoring Israel’s denial of refugee rights and its own system of racial discrimination against its “non-Jewish” citizens, the two other fundamental injustices listed in the BDS Call, is tantamount to accepting these two grave — certainly not any less evil — violations of human rights and international law as a given, or something that “we can live with.” Well, we cannot. Why should European civil society that fought apartheid in South Africa accept apartheid in Israel as normal, tolerable or unquestionable? Holocaust guilt cannot morally justify European complicity in prolonging the suffering, bloodshed and decades-old injustice that Israel has visited upon Palestinians and Arabs in general, using the Nazi genocide as pretext.

This whole paradigm needs to be challenged, not accepted as common wisdom.  

Therefore, wherever necessary in a particular context, advocating a boycott of settlement produce should be only a first, relatively easier, step towards a full boycott of all Israeli products. It cannot be the final goal of activists fighting Israeli apartheid.

Omar Barghouti is a founding member of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign www.BDSmovement.net

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Accountability for the War in Iraq

November 23rd, 2008

The Iraqi people’s human and civil rights were – and remain -swept aside by the occupation.

By Burhan Al-Chalabi.

The U.S. Presidential Election has sent a clear and unequivocal message to the world. The American people have rejected the foreign and domestic policies of President George W. Bush.

In Britain, the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, found his position unsustainable and resigned, leaving the invasion of Iraq and its awful consequences as his political legacy. The new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has talked about the need to be open and transparent in order to win the trust of the British public, but has so far shown no sign of addressing or redressing his predecessor’s failed policies in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The military occupation of Iraq and the exploitation of its vast mineral wealth continue unabated.

To justify the invasion of and war against Iraq, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair cited two violations by the Iraqi regime: of human rights and of UN Security Council resolutions passed just before and after the first Gulf War of 1991. The purpose of the war, it was claimed, was to hold the Iraqi regime accountable under international law.

But by invading Iraq, the U.S. Administration and the British Government were themselves violating UN resolutions and international law, as stated in the Report by Lord Bingham, the Law Lord, and published in the Guardian on 18th November 2008. The Iraqi people’s human and civil rights were —and remain—swept aside by the acts of war and the continuing fact of occupation.

Today, Iraq’s sovereignty has been destroyed. Its wealth of cultural heritage has been looted or vandalised. Iraq’s natural resources have been squandered, and its once-elaborate and sophisticated infrastructure has been laid to waste. Safety, security, and the processes of the rule of law are virtually non-existent. The legal and moral authority of the UN has been undermined. Terrorism is on the increase.

The whole Middle East region has either been destabilised or is as a result of the chaos in Iraq at high risk of instability or even meltdown. To all intents and purposes Southern Iraq is under the control of the Tehran Government, an outcome that many familiar with the region foresaw as talk of an invasion mounted in 2002 but the Bush White House and its associated agencies somehow failed to anticipate.

To get rid of one man, the two Anglo-American powers have brought an entire nation to the brink of devastation. This man, Saddam Hussein, was not at war with the U.S. or the UK, and could not realistically have posed a threat, at any level. He was not even considered any longer, in 2002, to be a serious threat to his Arab and Persian neighbours. Neither did Iraq pose any threat to American or British national interests or security, as it has since been proved to the satisfaction of all but a few of the most die-hard and tunnel-visioned supporters of the failed Bush regime and the departed Mr. Blair.

More than 3million Iraqis have left their homes, most of these having to flee to neighbouring Arab countries or the West. Iraqis now form one of the largest refugee communities in Europe. More than 600,000 civilians have been killed. Tens of thousands more are maimed or injured, traumatised or homeless, often all of these. Wild dogs feast on Iraqi remains. Holy places have been desecrated. Hundreds of people are assassinated or kidnapped every day. Puppet Iraqi Governments under the occupation are prevented from publishing the details and numbers of dead Iraqis.

During the 13 years of the U.S.-led economic and other sanctions imposed by the Security Council, Iraqi children suffered from malnutrition and genetic disorder caused by depleted uranium (DU). Some eminent Western medical authorities estimated in the early 1990s that Iraqi children – babies, toddlers and infants – were dying at the rate of one every six minutes. All the most telling evidence from UN agencies and NGOs and visiting experts in the medical and scientific fields was ruthlessly ignored by the U.S.- and British-dominated sanctions authorities. Between 1991 and 2003 the lifeblood of the nation was drained.

Since the American military occupation, Iraqi children are growing up in what is an even worse situation. The sanctions have been replaced by anarchy, institutionalised sectarian division, mayhem and murder. These children remain in fear of their lives, with no hopes, no dreams, no education, and no health care. They are helpless. For the lucky ones, play time is spent on rubbish dumps, even seeking food amongst this filth. Many others are kept at home for fear of being kidnapped or blown up.

This is a demeaning sight in one of the richest countries in the world, one which had developed fast and successfully in areas such as health, welfare, medicine, education, roads, housing and literacy, a model for other Middle East nations in how to use and spread oil wealth, and for the developing world—until just 19 years ago. Modern Iraq, if such a term can be used, is now a permanent and shameful scar on the conscience of those who conspired to invade and occupy Iraq to further their national and personal ambitions.

Iraq is a failed state. For Iraqis, life is hell. Things worsen by the day. Secular Iraq had made great strides in improving the lot of all of its people in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, in all social and economic areas. Sectarian Iraq is the most corrupt nation in the world, a perfect export model of U.S. political hypocrisy in action.

The occupiers use every conceivable excuse to justify the failure of the war in Iraq. They dismiss resistance to the occupation as mere terrorism, and other labels insulting to the Iraqi people but considered palatable to U.S. domestic consumption. All that is bad and violent is attributed to the Iraqis and their traditions or nature; the Americans and the British, of course, bear no responsibility for the breakdown in order and the monumental increase in sectarian violence since 2003. Abuse, torture, humiliation and rape are treated as a side show, left to committees to get it out of the glare of negative publicity and to dampen public anger and frustration of the conduct of the war.

The war was never intended to be one of liberation. There was never an exit strategy. Instead, initiatives are taken to divert attention from the true extent of human and financial losses by the war, and to justify continuing the occupation.

The real quagmire of the U.S. Administration is not just to be found in the catastrophic failure of the war, which was doomed to fail from the start; it is not even in the extent of human and financial losses and suffering, both Iraqi and American. Death and destruction is the business of war.

No, at the heart of this swamp is dishonesty with the American (and British and Iraqi) public. The American and British public, legislators and voters were inveigled into this disaster. The true aims of the war were never shared by its architect with the American people for fear of being rejected for what they really were— American Imperialism, a modern day spin for politically, commercially and religiously motivated colonial imperialism. The American and British Governments conspired with much of the western media and pulled the wool over the eyes of most of the others—who largely seemed all too ready to listen to their masters—to hide the facts, continue the deceptions, and prolong the suffering and pain of the Iraqi people.

President-elect Obama’s message to the American public is that of change. The most fundamental change needed is honesty, transparency and accountability with respect to the war against Iraq. The American public deserve to know what their loved ones died for. Iraqis also want to know the Bush administration’s hidden agenda for the invasion, destruction and continuing occupation of Iraq.

In Britain, bereaved parents also deserve to be told for whom their sons and daughters died. This was no war for the greater good, Queen and Country. It was for oil.

In March, 2005, it was revealed by The Sunday Times that in 2002 the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, told Tony Blair and his leading advisers after a visit to Washington that “the facts and intelligence” were being “fixed round the policy” by George W Bush’s Administration.

In his resignation speech, Tony Blair said: “I did what I thought was right for our country”, all this in the face of irrefutable evidence that he and his closest aides deliberately misled the British public and the Labour Party into believing there was palpable national risk to Britain at the hands of a WMD-bearing Saddam Hussein. To date, the British Government has ignored all attempts to set up a proper public, judicial or parliamentary inquiry into what led to the Anglo-American invasion—the biggest western blunder in the Middle East since Suez, and one of far greater consequences.

In a democracy, the executive must be held accountable to the people. Only this can and will restore faith in the most fundamental principles of democracy, namely accountability.

Officials of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein were quickly held accountable for their crimes, and punished, some—including Saddam Hussein himself—executed for their felonies and atrocities. But to date; there has been no independent judicial or political process in the US or UK to hold anybody accountable for the violations and crimes of invading Iraq and what has happened since—what is still happening without an end in sight.

Hiding behind “dodgy dossier” or expressions of faith, hope and belief in the so-called Western system or “spread of democracy” are not legal justifications for avoiding responsibility. Advocating the politics of fear to pursue personal or national agendas cannot be accepted in the civilised world.

Real not politicised justice must be seen to be done, to right the wrongs committed by the Bush Administration against the Iraqi people. The first step is to announce a date for the withdrawal of American forces and their imports of Iranian and Iraqi cronies.

– Dr. Burhan Al-Chalabi (FRSA) is Chairman of the British Iraqi Foundation.

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