The fate of the people of Gaza has been abandoned to NGOs, with Amnesty International in the lead. Two neighbouring states, Israel and Egypt, and to some extent the PA, could act to transform the situation, by providing fuel for generators and desalination plants for water. Obdurately, they do not act. Hamas, with little income now the tunnels are closed, and scant authority over the sources of fuel and water can do little.It is left to civil society.
EU countries have taken the high ground about Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. But their remit seems to stop short of European companies which continue to accept Israeli contracts for demolishing Palestinian homes (Volvo, JCB), imprisoning Palestinians (G4S), importing goods from the settlements (Tesco, Waitrose) and servicing the settlements (Veolia). Such companies ease the functioning of settlements despite the formal position of their home countries.
According to Edward Said, serious discussion about Israel in the US was ‘the last taboo.’ Now that has been well and truly broken. This week the association of university professors held an open meeting (packed) to discuss BDS action against Israeli institutions complicit with the occupation. The large majority favoured such actions though this has not materialised in a decision – unlike the Association for Asian American Studies which did pass a resolution for boycotting Israeli academic institutions. Many attribute this great shift to student activism on campuses.
If anyone doubts the gross anachronism of the Israeli occupation, read this letter from the Villages Group which quotes a remarkable decision by the Civil Administration in the West Bank. It states that they are busy clearing the land of Palestinians for their own good; that without the fatherly concerns of the Israelis the Palestinians are doomed to a degenerate and impoverished life. They should be grateful.
75 years ago Jews were the primary target of those who hated immigrants and ‘aliens’. That was dramatically demonstrated in Germany/Austria in ‘kristallnacht’. Today in much of the world, gypsies and Roma, Muslims, Pakistanis and gays, Africans and asylum seekers are the likely targets. It is time for Jews to stand with these vulnerable groups and speak out against the ‘toxic sentiments’ behind the attacks.
The deepest injustice felt by many Palestinians is that the Israeli occupying forces – civil and military – break whatever laws they like and are never held to account. In 2012, 2100 homes demolished, 266 Palestinians killed, trees and other property wrecked, the right to free movement denied…. The pressue is now on for the International Crminal Court to initiate prosecutions, which it has the power to do, of these crimes.
Establishment Jewish bodies say the movement for BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) is puny and ineffectual. So why is one of the most right-wing and powerful of all putting all its might into a campaign to convince young American Jews to desist as BDS ‘delegitimises’ Israel? Do they believe something they’re not telling us? UPDATE Netanyahu and ‘Jewish millionaires’ join in.
For over 12 years the Israeli state has been trying to force out the people living in the South Hebron hills. The pattern is familiar – demolitions, the wall, deprivation of amenities. Twenty four Israeli writers have signed a letter calling for the IDF to cease its evictions. The 6th Festival of non-violent resistance this week puts the villagers centre-stage.
On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June, two dedicated organisations speak out against the torture that is routinely used against Palestinians in Israeli prisons – and in the custody of the PA. Both regimes are acting against international law prohibiting torture.
From Gaza Youth Break Out, a fresh and energetic voice, pushing aside the stale declamations and sectarian conflict of their elders. They want, above all, an end to the occupation which deforms the lives of Palestinians and Israelis; they want freedom and dignity and their own voice which Fatah and Hamas deny them. They want support.
In this powerful article, Idan Landau writes that the soundtrack to the building of zionism is the rumble of destruction. Since its creation, the state of Israel has routinely smashed down the homes of Palestinians, leaving the families homeless, their belongings either broken or scattered. How is it that Israelis take this sound of the devastation of human life to be ‘normal’, not deserving a second look or a first question?
The Prawer/Begin plan to drive the Bedouin out of ‘unrecognised’ villages into permitted centres is a poor reward for these Israeli citizens. Bedouin, like the Druze, were regarded as loyal to the new state (at least, those staying in Palestine had no loyalty to any other state). No wonder treating them as subject to separate laws causes such disquiet even among loyal supporters of Israel.
British friends of Rabbis for Human Rights have sent a letter, signed by 65 rabbis from judaic communities in the UK, to PM Netanyahu protesting against his government’s plan to move Bedouin from the Negev and disperse them in towns. They have also produced a petition (see post) to be sent to Netanyahu.
It is rare for the AGM of a corporation to excite the interest of public and press outside the confines of the business pages. But reports of the noisy and articulate protests at G4S’s AGM last Thursday burst those confines to bring the company more unwelcome publicity and compel the new boss to address the issue of international law. No-one was left in doubt that at the heart of the disruption was anger at the contracts G4S holds for managing Israel’s prison services.
Despite their pronouncements against racism, FIFA, the governing body of international football, and UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, have turned a deaf ear to the protests that the Under-21 European tournament should not have been awarded to Israel. Systematic discrimination and restrictions on free movement severely restrict the access of young Palestinians to all sport.
Prison practices which are judged illegal are those which deprive a prisoner of his or her basic humanity; removing them far from everyone they know, subjecting them to torture or solitary confinement, holding them without charge, legal representation or trial, refusal to provide medical treatment… G4S has not been accused of all these wrong practices – but enough of them to merit inquiries into their ethical and legal standing.
Five years on from the “celebration” of Israel’s 60th birthday, there will be a “Closer to Israel” parade down Piccadilly and a rally in Trafalgar Square to “celebrate” Israel’s 65th birthday on June 2 . JfJfP is organising a silent vigil from 12.30 to 5pm outside South Africa House. We will be holding placards and handing out leaflets. It is intended as a Jewish vigil, but of course everyone is welcome to come and to bring their own placards (no gratuitously offensive ones, please). Click headline for map and info on Closer to Israel.
The resignation of Nick Buckles, CEO of G4S before the company’s London AGM has surprised no-one, as evidenced by the simultaneous announcement of his successor. Reasons cited have been the shambles of the Olympic security contract and the failed attempt to acquire a cleaning company. His announcement last month that the company ‘aims’ to give up G4S contracts in the oPt (though not Israel itself) suggests he thought the contract would be easy money and had no idea of what he was letting the company in for. Bad call. Protest at AGM, June 6th, London.
Spare a moment’s pity for the mega-corporations, like G4S, which enjoyed such a bonanza with the privatisation of once-basic state services. Their profits are not within their own control. At a whim of a government, or a miscalculation by their CEO, they can lose those profits and their reputation. Such is the fate of G4S whose profits and reputation have slumped, not least because of their willingness to serve the Israeli occupation’s treatment (illegal) of Palestinians taken prisoner. (Not an issue in their hasty new ethical policy). Join the protest at this year’s AGM on June 6th, London.
Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s best-known physicists, has pulled out of the fifth Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem on 18–20 June 2013. He had headed the list of international speakers at the ‘Facing Tomorrow’ conference. He came under pressure to withdraw as his condemnation of Operation Cast Lead as out of proportion and likening of Israel to an apartheid state were well known. UPDATE: the reaction