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2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

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2015:

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2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

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2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

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Posts

You stay in France, we’ll crack down on Islamists’ speech

The Palestinian statement against all forms of racism and bigotry is 2nd.


France’s President François Hollande addresses a Paris ceremony commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, 27 January. Photo, office of Presidency of France

French president’s Holocaust day speech presages crackdown on Palestine supporters

By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
January 27, 2014

French President François Hollande used an International Holocaust Memorial Day speech to confirm that his government plans to tighten its control over what people are allowed to say online.

The planned crackdown raises concern that French authorities will use their powers to further censor speech critical of Israel under the guise of combating antisemitism.

“Antisemitism has changed its face, but has not lost its age-old roots,” Hollande said at a Paris commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the Soviet Army’s liberation of Auschwitz.

Today, he said, “it is also nourished by hatred of Israel” and “imports the conflicts of the Middle East.”

This conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel presages even harsher efforts in France to suppress the Palestine solidarity movement.

Hollande’s speech comes in the wake of a broad crackdown in France that has seen dozens of people sentenced to prison for things they have said or written since three French gunmen murdered 17 people earlier this month in attacks on the offices of the racist magazine Charlie Hebdo, on a Jewish supermarket and on police.

Rebuke to Israel

Hollande also indirectly rebuked Israel for its efforts to precipitate the transfer of France’s Jewish population, telling French Jews, “your place is here, in your home. Our country would no longer be France if we had to live without you.”

In comments likely to anger Israeli officials hoping to exploit the recent attacks in France to encourage Jewish departures, Hollande said: “If terrorism succeeds in driving you from the land of France, from the French language, from French culture, from the French republic which emancipated the Jews, then terrorism would have achieved its goal.” (See a full video of Hollande’s speech in French).

Israeli officials see French Jews as a potential population reserve to fill up settlements built in violation of international law in the occupied West Bank.

Controlling free speech

Hollande confirmed that under his government’s plans, “suppression of racist and antisemitic speech” would be moved from the civil press law to the criminal law and that racist or antisemitic motives would be treated as aggravating factors in crimes.

He said that Internet companies and social media websites would be “placed before their responsibilities” and punished if they failed to meet them.

Hollande’s announcement confirms plans already laid out by officials after the Charlie Hebdo attack that would see tighter legal controls on online speech, including giving ministers the power to block websites.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve also announced that “surveillance of the Internet, particularly social networks, would be entrusted” to France’s internal and overseas intelligence and spying agencies.

Support from France’s Israel lobby

 

Roger Cuckierman, president of CRIF, France’s main umbrella organization for Jewish communal groups, met with top government officials earlier this month to push for tighter controls on the Internet and stiffer sentences for illegal speech.

CRIF, which is also France’s most prominent Israel advocacy group, has demanded precisely the measures that have been announced – moving racist and antisemitic speech to a more serious category of crime, and laws regulating speech on Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube “to effectively combat calls for terrorism and anti-Semitic words.”

While CRIF claims that its efforts are aimed at combating bigotry and racism, the group is apparently highly tolerant of violent racism as long as that hatred is directed against Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims.

CRIF’s Cuckierman, for instance, has welcomed the extreme anti-Palestinian Israeli minister Naftali Benett, whose party denies the right to self-determination and even the existence of a Palestinian people, and who has boasted “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.”

Another senior member of Bennett’s party, lawmaker Ayelet Shaked, notoriously called for genocide of the Palestinians, including exterminating Palestinian mothers because they give birth to “little snakes.” None of this appears to have bothered CRIF.

Conflating antisemitism and criticism of Israel

People may differ sharply on whether laws regulating what people can say are a good idea, but everyone ought to agree that bigotry because of religion, ethnicity, race or other characteristics is wrong.

The problem is that Israel and its advocates have tried for years to blur the line between antisemitism – bigotry against Jews because they are Jews – on the one hand, and, on the other, criticism of Israel’s colonial occupation, massacres and violence against Palestinians.

This Europe-wide campaign scored a recent success in the UK, where a government policy document declared that a boycott of Israeli academic institutions complicit in the oppression of Palestinians was “anti-Jewish.”

The goal has been to make criticism of Israel or the Zionist ideology that motivates its colonization of Palestinian land taboo by associating advocacy for Palestinian rights with socially unacceptable or illegal forms of bigotry.

Tightening control of Palestine advocacy

In the French internet and technology publication Numerama, columnist Guillaume Champeau warned that officials would soon likely be able to block websites without any judicial oversight, targeting those that are critical of Israel:

“We know that Prime Minister Manuel Valls has a particularly broad view of what constitutes antisemitism,” Champeau writes, “because he includes not only hatred toward Jews … but also the most forceful and systematic speech against the internal and external policies of Israel and against so-called ‘Zionists’ who support them.”

Champeau points to a speech made by France’s hardline prime minister last March at a CRIF conference on fighting antisemitism.

“This antisemitism, and this is what’s new, is fed by hatred of Israel,” Valls said. “It is fed by anti-Zionism. Because anti-Zionism is an open door for antisemitism. Because calling into question the State of Israel … based on anti-Zionism, is the antisemitism of today.”

Champeau asserts that the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is “not always clear,” but “the distinction remains real and absolutely necessary in a democracy,” and making it “cannot be trusted to the state.”

Palestinians have always insisted that their struggle is not directed against Jews. In 2012, for instance, dozens of well-known Palestinian activists and intellectuals signed a letter reaffirming “a key principle of our movement for freedom, justice, and equality: The struggle for our inalienable rights is one opposed to all forms of racism and bigotry, including, but not limited to, antisemitism, Islamophobia, Zionism, and other forms of bigotry directed at anyone, and in particular people of colour and indigenous peoples everywhere.” [see below]

The letter also opposed “the cynical and baseless use of the term antisemitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism.”

France already has a history of state repression of advocacy for Palestinian rights, including trials of activists calling for the boycott of the Israeli state and firms and institutions complicit in its human rights violations, and a ban on demonstrations against Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer.

Concerned about the broader implications of the government’s measures, Amnesty International has already launched a petition urging Hollande to protect freedom of expression.

Amid the tightening crackdown, life is about to get harder for supporters of Palestinian rights in France.


The struggle for Palestinian rights is incompatible with any form of racism or bigotry: a statement by Palestinians

Posted by Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
October 12, 2015

We the undersigned, as Palestinians living in historic Palestine and the diaspora, in the spirit of past statements, and in light of recent controversies, write to reaffirm a key principle of our movement for freedom, justice, and equality: The struggle for our inalienable rights is one opposed to all forms of racism and bigotry, including, but not limited to, antisemitism, Islamophobia, Zionism, and other forms of bigotry directed at anyone, and in particular people of colour and indigenous peoples everywhere.

We oppose the cynical and baseless use of the term antisemitism as a tool for stifling criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism, as this assumes simply because someone is Jewish, they support Zionism or the colonial and apartheid policies of the state of Israel – a false generalization.

Our struggle is anchored in universal human rights and international law in opposition to military occupation, settler-colonialism, and apartheid, something people of conscience of all ethnicities, races, and religions can support.

Finally, we call on people around the world to join us in a morally consistent stance that opposes racism and bigotry in all forms. An ethical struggle for justice and equal rights in any context entails zero tolerance for racial discrimination and racism anywhere.

Signed (in order of signature):

Abir Kopty
Danya Mustafa
Nadia Hijab
Shirien Damra
Omar Barghouti
Noura Erakat
Remi Kanazi
Andrew Kadi
Dina Omar
Sandra Tamari
Maath Musleh
Suleiman Hodali
Dana Saifan
Jess Ghannam
Sami Kishawi
Dalia Almarina
Haidar Eid
Samee Sulaiman
Lubna Hammad
Issa Mikel
Dina Zbidat
Esmat Elhalaby
Linah Alsaafin
Ramzi Jaber
Randa May Wahbe
Hilda Massoud
Falastine Dwikat
Jamil Sbitan
Beesan Ramadan
Alaa Milbes
Tanya Keilani
Adam Akkad
Budour Hassan
Ahmad Nimer
Fajr Harb
Susan Abulhawa
Amira Dasouqi
Lubna Alzaroo
Samah Sabawi
Ismail Khalidi
Annemarie Jacir
George E. Bisharat
Sara Jawhari
Amin Abbas
Ali Abunimah
Camillia Shoufani
Dena Qaddumi
Ramzi Kanazi
Alaa Yousef
Najwa Doughman
Amal Atieh Jubran
Mahdi Sabbagh
Rania Jubran
Amar Husain
Omar H. Rahman
Yazeed Ibrahim
Zachariah Barghouti
Nadine Darwish
Rinad Abdulla
Sana Ibrahim
Rana Libdeh
Huwaida Arraf
Basil Farraj
Riham Barghouti
Jalal Abukhater
Grace Said
Wafai Dias
Huda Asfour
Musa Al-Hindi
Halla Shoaibi
Nada Elia
Shafeka Hashash
Linda Sarsour
Nour Joudah
Fadi Quran
Rafeef Ziadah
Muhammad Jabali
Haneen Maikey
Diana Alzeer
Mouin Rabbani
Zaid Shuaibi
Sari Harb
Suzy Salamy
Diana Buttu
Maryam Zohny
Vivien Sansour
Noor Fawzy
Jackie Salloum
Hatem Bazian
Awad Hamdan
Ahmed Moor
Zahi Damuni
Irene Nasser
Sanah Yassin
Sumia Ibrahim
Hazem Jamjoum
Selma Al-Aswad
Dina Odetalla
Ghassan B. Zidan
Suheir Tannous
Rasha Makhoul
Nadia Saah
Hana Awwad
Salma Abu Ayyash
Fatin Jarara
Tamer Nafar
Raneen Jeries
Abbas Hamideh
Tariq Shadid
Abdelnasser Rashid
Dina Kennedy
Hani al-Masri
Raja Zaatry
Nadim Nashef
Miryam Rashid
Nada Khader
Amani Barakat
Leena Barakat
George S. Hishmeh
Kareema Saab
Christopher Hazou
Tahani Salah

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