We Believe in Israel, spawned from BICOM to counter the growing disaffection with Israeli policy in the UK is run by Labour Councillor Luke Akehurst. He is particularly exercised by the BDS movement and has been active in trying to get local councils, which decide on contracts, to resist campaigns such as Dump Veolia. Here, Councillor Grahame, JfJfP signatory, crisply tells him why she is no longer a believer.
BDS is a two-target tactic – aiding Palestinian self-determination and engaging supporters in their campaign. Liberal Zionist opponents have found many reasons to justify their stance, from ‘it will lead to the extermination of Israel’ to the Palestinian right of return is totally unacceptable..
Rachel Shabi takes George Galloway to task for his refusal to debate with an Israeli student although he was not a representative of the Israeli state. Nor should he dress up his refusal as being in accord with the principles of the Palestinian BDS movement whose national committee has issued a statement saying its approach is based on universal human rights and not boycotting individual Israelis. Joan Smith is not impressed either.
As we posted last week it seems impossible to have a ‘civil’ and rational discourse about Israel in the USA. Apart from saying supporters of the peaceful anti-Occupation campaign for BDS are trying to ‘delegitimise’ or annihilate Israel, the vociferous pro-Israeli faction present their opponents as an extremist loony fringe. Well, they must take their comfort where they can.
You might wonder why a dispute at a college in another country should generate 2 posts here and headlines in many countries. The dispute is about discussing Israel and strategies to end the Occupation (BDS). Blimey. How scary. But as a NY Times editorial points out it is impossible to have a civil discourse about this in the US. More than that, we would say those who can’t stand criticism of Israel use a defence so wildly disproportionate (it leads to a 2nd holocaust, it is antisemitic, it ‘degitimises’ Israel, supporters are pro-terrorism) that it sounds hysterical.
Brooklyn College, a high-rated public-funded college for graduate and post-graduate study, is embroiled in a political row about freedom of speech. Its political science department agreed to co-sponsor a panel discussion on BDS. NY City Councillors have sent a letter to the college president demanding the event be cancelled because free speech does not extend to ‘odious and wrong’ ideas. Letters fly.
You might think Labour MPs would not want to favour a company which practised racial discrimination, paid its workers less than half the minimum wage, on casual terms, in poor working conditions, which mislabelled its products in order to fool consumers. When you add this company has based its production facility on a site which made a longed-for peace settlement impossible you do wonder why Labour Friends of Israel were happy to attend an event (1) publicising Sodastream (2, Who Profits report. Send this to an LFI member (List, 3)!
Palestinian groups have called for a day of action on February 9th to exert pressure on companies which import products from illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories but mislabel them ‘Made in Israel’. Medjool dates from Mehadrin is one such product reports Corporation Watch. Plus a report on the Palestinian village that has been demolished to create space and water for the Beqa’ot settlement….
Archaeology has been a highly political subject since Israel’s foundation; competing civilisations’ claim to the land is ‘proved’ by the artefacts and ruins of what lies below the surface. The involvement of Tel Aviv University in such digs – not to mention military R&D – has alarmed academics who fear it will lead to calls for boycott. Ben White reports.
American Quakers have instructed Friends Fiduciary, their asset management firm, to sell all their shares in Veolia, for environmental reasons, and in Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar because their products may be used for military purposes. “We chose to sell our holdings based on the peace testimony’’ said the Friends Fiduciary director.
Why boycott Israel? Is Madonna planning to perform in North Korea? Rihanna in Sudan, or Elton John in Iran? No. Israel is the only one of the repressive nations which claims to live by western standards of democracy and the rule of law. At least Israel’s occupation does not discriminate – Christians are as oppressed as Muslims. Southern Africa’s Catholic Weekly makes the case for boycott.
Cultural boycott has always been a controversial issue amongst those debating how best to support Palestinian rights or to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Here Steve Caplan argues against a boycott of Israeli academics – largely on the merits of Israel’s history. Ben White counters that academics should be held to the same level of account as commercial or military bodies which benefit from Israeli colonialism. JfJfP does not support a policy of cultural boycott.
Antony Loewenstein, who has co-edited ‘After Zionism’ with Ahmed Moor, attacks those who mouth ‘two-state solution’ and ‘peace process’ thereby excusing themselves from the need to think or act to make a difference, in particular by supporting BDS and the proposal for one state.
South Africa’s apartheid regime had close relations with the Israeli government. Today, the post-apartheid national government and the KwaZulu Natal provincial government have cancelled a planned visit by Israeli municipal governors. The decision is being claimed as a victory for BDS campaigners and a defeat for the ‘Jewish community’ aka the conservative Jewish establishment. Reports from Ha’aretz and BDS S.Africa.
The integration of American and Israeli military and technological systems, the enforcement of the status quo in Israel, the rules and walls separating Jews and Arabs — these are not news. We post this take on these features of the US/Israel alliance because it comes from Netanyahu’s refusenik nephew who went to prison for his beliefs before going to study in the USA. He is now at Cambridge University, UK.
Antisemitism exists, in pockets in W. Europe and the US, more widely in E. Europe, the Middle East and N. Africa..However, the routine charge of antisemitism is often an attempt to intimidate by those who do not have facts on their side. NGO Monitor, a master of bullying, has had to find a new term for Jewish criticism of Israel — Jew-washing — a Jewish cover for Christian ‘antisemites’ who want to, e.g, divest from the occupation. As though such Jews are unable to make their own critical judgments about Israel. Offensive and laughable.
It is one thing for individuals to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements, quite another for states to ban their import – especially in military gear. The TUC has taken a lead by commissioning an opinion from James Crawford, Whewell Professor of International Law, Cambridge University. Contrary to the fears of governments and the EU Commission, he gives his argument that they are entitled to take such action.
Despite intense and mass pro-Israeli pressure, a committee of the Presbyterian church voted this week to divest from 3 companies which equip Israel to undertake oppressive acts. Committee 15 (Committee on Middle East and Peacemaking Issues) say they voted for a moral and peace-making message. On Friday, the General Assembly decided by 2 votes against divestment.
US pension fund divests from Caterpillar because of ‘controversy [about] the occupied Palestinian territories” – despite denials by pro-Israel advocates reports Richard Silverstein; Veolia has lost its tender for a Dutch public transport contract (Al Haq); and is engaged in a strategy of divestment and global shrinkage.
G4S and Israel seem made for each other, having in common a paramount concern with security. More surprising might be the contracts the company is winning in Arab countries, despite the official position of many on the oPt. Rather, says Al Akhbar, it is Europeans who are leading moves to question and boycott the company. JfJfP is at the forefront of the campaign to stop G4S winning contracts in the UK.