U.S. Trade Union Statement in Support of Palestinian Call for Full and Immediate Arms Embargo Against Apartheid Israel


July 13, 2011 

Whereas, on May 4, 2011, the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS)specifically called “on trade unions around the world to actively show solidarity with the Palestinian people by. . . . divesting from Israel Bonds and all Israeli and international companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid”; and

Whereas, on July 8, 2011, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) urgently called for “immediate international action towards a mandatory comprehensive military embargo against Israel similar to that imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past”; and

Whereas, since the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1947-1948, Israel has used at least $108 billion from the U.S. government to carry out ongoing war, ethnic cleansing, racism and apartheid against the Palestinians and many other Arab nations; and

Whereas, in the past ten years alone, the U.S. government — with overwhelming bipartisan support — has given Israel $17 billion in military aid; over the next decade, it will give another $30 billion; and

Whereas, as a result, Palestinian workers continue to be killed and maimed by U.S.-supplied naval vessels, jet fighters, Apache helicopters, white phosphorous and other weapons; and

Whereas, in 2008/2009 alone, Israel used these weapons to enforce the brutal and illegal siege by killing 1400 people in Gaza, most of them civilians — a massacre condemned by the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, including those that are Israeli; and

Whereas, U.S. supplied-weapons were similarly used in the deadly May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and to kill scores of unarmed Palestinian refugees exercising their right to return in 2011; and

Whereas, in 2006, Israel turned Lebanon into a killing ground, slaughtering and maiming thousands of people, destroying the civilian infrastructure, and turning a quarter of the population into refugees in their own land; and

Whereas, the U.S. and Israel provided similar support to the apartheid South Africa regime, just as they now arm and finance dictatorships to suppress the Arab Spring; and

Whereas, veteran South African freedom fighters have observed that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is “worse than apartheid”; and

Whereas, amidst spiraling economic crisis, workers in this country pay a staggering human and financial price for U.S.-Israeli war and occupation from Palestine to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan; and

Whereas, just as trade unionists fight “replacement” of striking workers, we stand against the dispossession, occupation and inequality inflicted on millions of Palestinian working people and their descendants for more than six decades; and

Whereas, the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against apartheid Israel has been endorsed by numerous labor bodies around the world, including the trade union congresses of South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland and the UK, and labor bodies in Australia, France, Canada, Norway, Catalunya, Italy, Spain and Turkey; and

Whereas, numerous U.S. labor bodies participated in similar divestment campaigns against apartheid South Africa; and

Whereas, following the May 31, 2010 Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, members of ILWU Local 10 in Oakland courageously followed the South African dockers’ example by refusing to handle Israeli cargo; and

Whereas, such solidarity stands in the proud tradition of West Coast dock-workers who refused to handle cargo for Nazi Germany (1934) and fascist Italy (1935); those in Denmark and Sweden (1963), the San Francisco Bay Area (1984) and Liverpool (1988), who refused shipping for apartheid South Africa; those in Oakland who refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1978); and those at all twenty-nine West Coast ports who held a May Day strike against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2008).

Therefore, we join with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the Brazilian CUT, and other labor bodies, in specifically reaffirming support for an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo; and

Whereas, Israel has now sought to repress the growing BDS campaign by banning recognition of the 1948 Nakba or advocacy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions;

Therefore, we call on all labor bodies to divest from Israel Bonds; and

Therefore, we call on workers not to handle weapons and all other military cargo destined for Israel; and

Therefore, that these and other necessary measures be maintained until the Israeli apartheid regime recognizes Palestinian human rights and self-determination by immediately:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

(www.laborforpalestine.net / 01.08.2012)

Israeli hospitals refusing to treat African patients

Report: Jerusalem’s Bikur Holim Hospital refuses to treat a number of African asylum seekers under the premise that they don’t have health insurance.

In the past week, the Bikur Holim hospital in Jerusalem has turned away at least three Eritrean asylum seekers, according to a report in Maariv (Hebrew).

After experiencing severe stomach pains, Nestah Ibrahim, a 21-year-old Eritrean woman who arrived in Israeli legally, was transported to Jerusalem’s Bikur Holim by ambulance. There, hospital workers asked her if she had money to pay for the visit. When she told them she did not, they told her to go somewhere else.

Speaking to Maariv, Ibrahim says,

I tried to explain to them that I’m new here, that I don’t have status and rights but they weren’t convinced and they told me: “Go to a different hospital.” I asked them to at least give me pills to make the pain go away but they did not agree to give them to me.

Earlier this month, Ynet reported that a Tel Aviv hospital, Sourasky Medical Center, will limit admissions of and ban visits by African asylum seekers “out of concern for the spread of infectious diseases to other patients.”

While a number of African patients have been found to have tuberculosis, the plans put forth by Sourasky’s Director General, Gabi Barbash, will separate African and Israeli women in the maternity ward even if the former have been found to be free of infectious diseases. African and Israeli babies will also be separated.

Israeli doctors responded by condemning what they called “patient care apartheid.”

The Ministry of Health also slammed the move, calling it “racist.”

Following the outcry, Sourasky Medical Center eased the restrictions.

The phenomenon of refusing or limiting African patients is not new.  In early 2011, for example, an Eilat doctor refused to care for a pregnant African woman, telling her that he does not tend to Sudanese. In late 2010, an Eritrean man who had been attacked on the street by an Israeli man in Ashkelon was turned away from a local hospital even though he was bleeding.

(972mag.com / 01.08.2012)

Activists: 9 detained in UAE Islamist crackdown

DUBAI (Reuters) — The United Arab Emirates has detained nine Islamists in the past two days, local activists said on Wednesday, and human rights groups have urged condemnation of the Gulf Arab country’s “draconian” treatment of the opposition.

The arrests brought to at least 35 the number of activists, most of them Islamists, detained since July 15 when the UAE said it was investigating a foreign-linked group planning “crimes against the security of the state”.

Activists say around 50 have been arrested since last year. Many of them are UAE nationals, but an Omani citizen and a stateless resident also have been detained.

Interior Ministry officials were not available for comment.

(www.maannews.net / 01.08.2012)

Israel prevents Azan 50 times in Ibrahimi Mosque in July

Ramallah, Aug. 1 (Petra) — Israeli occupation forces have prevent calls for the daily Muslim Prayers (Azan) at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron 50 times in July under the pretext of noise disturbance for Jewish illegal settlers in occupied part of the city.

Director of Hebron Awqaf Zaid Al Jaabari said that the Israelis deliberately use such programmed policy to get a strong grip and control of the Ibrahimi Mosque including restorations.

He emphasized that the Ibrahimi Mosque is a rightful Palestinian Islamic concern and Jews have no right to interfere.

(petra.gov.jo / 01.08.2012)

Israeli tanks cross Gaza border

An Israeli tank withdraws from northern Gaza near Kubbutz Mefalsim.

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli military vehicles made a limited incursion across the borders east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, witnesses said Wednesday.

Two tanks and a bulldozer crossed the borders reaching as far as 300 meters in the Palestinian territory, onlookers told Ma’an.

Gunshots and blasts were heard as the vehicles entered the area.

There were no reports of injury.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said an anti-missile protection system on a tank near the border “was activated for reasons that are currently being investigated.”

She said the system, which deploys automatically, might have been triggered by an anti-tank missile and, if so, “the IDF regards the incident seriously and will respond”.

Meanwhile a Palestinian man was killed and two others were injured when a car exploded in Gaza City’s Tal al-Hawa neighborhood before dawn, an official said.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman of the ministry of health in the Hamas-run government in Gaza, said 22-year-old Ayman al-Sharafa sustained deadly wounds in the incident and was pronounced dead later.

Hamas’ military wing mourned al-Sharafa’s death, which its website described as accidental.

The al-Qassam Brigades issued a statement saying it mourned al-Sharafa’s death and vowed “to continue the resistance against the belligerent occupation forces.”

(www.maannews.net / 01.08.2012)

Egypt to unveil new Cabinet on Thursday

Prime Minister Hisham Qandilsaid he would put qualifications before political allegiances when choosing his Cabinet members. (AFP)

Prime Minister Hisham Qandilsaid he would put qualifications before political allegiances when choosing his Cabinet members.

Egypt’s finance and foreign affairs ministers said on Wednesday they were keeping their posts in a new government being formed by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, who was appointed by President Mohammed Mursi last week.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr and Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed confirmed they would stay on after emerging from a meeting with Qandil, who is due to formally unveil his Cabinet on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Gamal eddin, who has been heading the Public Security Department, has been appointed as the Interior Minister, Al Arabiya reported.

Osama Saleh, the head of the General Authority for Investment, said he had been appointed investment minister. Osama Kamal, head of the Egyptian Petrochemical Holding Co, said he had been appointed oil minister.

A little-known technocrat, Qandil was irrigation minister in the outgoing Cabinet led by Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri — who was appointed by the military council and a premier under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak. Qandil has said he would put qualifications before political allegiances when choosing his Cabinet members.

The government formation ends a month long wait for the first administration of the Mursi era. The Muslim Brotherhood politician, who was sworn in on June 30, has been criticized for the amount of time it took him to name his prime minister.

Faced by an economy hit by 18 months of political instability, the new government will need to move fast to address acute economic problems including a looming balance of payments crisis and unaffordable state borrowing costs.

(english.alarabiya.net / 01.08.2012)

Rohingya Muslims “persecuted” after Myanmar crackdown – report

 

Rohingya people living in Thailand hold posters and signs as they protest in front of Myanmar's embassy in Bangkok, during Myanmar's President Thein Sein visit to Thailand July 23, 2012. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

(Reuters) – Myanmar security forces killed, raped or carried out mass arrests of Rohingya Muslims after deadly sectarian riots in the northeast in June, a rights group said on Wednesday, adding the authorities had done little to prevent the initial unrest.

Aid workers were blocked and in some cases arrested, and Rohingyas bore the brunt of a government crackdown in Rakhine state after a week of arson and machete attack by both ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingyas, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.

Based on 57 interviews with Rakhines and Rohingyas, the report seeks to shed light on a conflict that exposed deep-rooted communal animosity and put the spotlight on promises by the civilian government in office since 2011 to protect human rights after decades of brutal army rule.

“Burmese security forces failed to protect the Arakan (Rakhine) and Rohingya from each other and then unleashed a campaign of violence and mass round-ups against the Rohingya,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government claims it is committed to ending ethnic strife and abuse, but recent events in Arakan State demonstrate that state-sponsored persecution and discrimination persist.”

Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin said on Monday the authorities had exercised “maximum restraint” in restoring law and order and that the rioting was not fuelled by religious persecution.

He rejected what he said were attempts to “politicise and internationalise the situation as a religious issue”, adding that the government was eager to promote “racial harmony among different nationalities”.

In veiled criticism of the United States and European Union, which praised the government for its handling of the unrest, Adams said the international community had been “blinded by a romantic narrative of sweeping change” in Myanmar.

The former Burma has a diverse ethnic and religious make-up, but the Rohingya Muslims are not included by the government. There are at least 800,000 Rohingyas in the country but they are not recognised as one of its ethnic groups.

Neighbouring Bangladesh does not accept them and pushed boatloads back out to sea when they tried to flee the unrest.

“RESETTLE THEM”

Myanmar President Thein Sein said in June the government was only responsible for third-generation Rohingyas whose families had arrived before independence in 1948 and that it was impossible to accept those who had “illegally entered” Myanmar.

He recommended that the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR take care of them in camps or resettle them in third countries. UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres replied it could only resettle refugees that fled from one country to another.

The riots followed two brutal incidents in Rakhine state: the May 28 rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by three Rohingya males, who were sentenced to death, and the June 3 lynching in response of 10 non-Rohingya Muslims travelling on a bus.

Human Rights Watch said police and troops did not intervene to stop the mobs from beating the Muslims to death. During the riots that followed, it said some Rohingyas who tried to flee or put out fires at their homes were shot at by paramilitaries.

It called for the government to end abuses, grant full humanitarian access and invite in international monitors. Access to the area remains restricted.

Thein Sein is in a tight spot. Concessions towards the Rohingyas could prove unpopular among the general public, but perceived ill-treatment risks angering Western countries that have eased sanctions in response to human rights reforms.

Minister of Border Affairs Thein Htay says 858 people have been detained for involvement in the violence, including five UNHCR staff and a U.N. World Food Programme employee. It was unclear how many of the total were Rohingya or ethnic Rakhine.

The Foreign Ministry has said 77 people died and 109 were injured during the violence, and nearly 5,000 homes burnt down.

(in.reuters.com / 01.08.2012)

CODEPINK protester victorious over AIPAC assailant

Rae aipac

Rae Abileah at AIPAC’s annual conference, 2011.

It is not every day that the voices for justice triumph over the actions of the rich and powerful, especially when it comes to the Israel-Palestine debate. That’s why it is so important to acknowledge and celebrate the settlement just negotiated by CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah and her lawyers after suing American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) volunteer lobbyist Stanley Shulster.

It all started on May 24, 2011, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington, DC speaking before a joint session of Congress. Abileah, a 29-year-old Jewish woman who has traveled to the West Bank, Israel and Gaza, was in the audience. She became more and more appalled as she listened to Netanyahu’s speech and watched our congresspeople giving him a stream of standing ovations. “I couldn’t watch this hero’s welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won’t lift the siege of Gaza, and refuses to negotiate with the Palestinian unity government,” said Abileah.

So Abileah did what most people would never have the courage to do. She got up and shouted: “No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!” And she unfurled a banner that read: “Occupying Land is Indefensible!”

She was immediately grabbed, violently pulled toward the floor, and gagged—not by the Capitol Police but by a member of the audience, Stanley Shulster, a retired attorney from Ashland, Oregon, who had traveled to Washington DC to attend the yearly conference of the Israel lobby group AIPAC. An online bio for Shulster revealed that he was an unpaid lobbyist, a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces, and a Navy veteran. In his bio Shulster bragged that he “grabbed the woman who heckled the Prime Minister while he was speaking.”

Abileah was rushed to the hospital, where she was treated for neck and shoulder injuries. She subsequently had to undergo months of physical therapy, chiropractic care and other treatments to heal from these injuries.

But Abileah was also determined to pursue her attacker. She pressed charges and got a warrant for his arrest, and she filed a civil suit for damages. Thanks to the tenacity and generosity of her attorneys, they just reached a settlement in which Shulster was forced to pay her medical fees and issue an apology. In the joint statement issued by Shulster and Abileah, Shulster acknowledges that he “respects the right of Ms. Abileah to hold a different view on the Israel-Palestine conflict and believes she holds this view in good faith,” and Abileah does the same. Both Abileah and Shulster recognize “the right, as Americans, to agree to disagree peacefully.” This might sound like a common sense statement but coming from a man who works with the IDF and AIPAC, which routinely categorizes any critique of Israel as anti-Semitic, this is extraordinary.

It is indeed a rare victory, as there is a history of attacks against US nonviolent activists defending Palestinians rights and most of the time, the attackers face no consequences. In 2007, a peaceful protester outside an AIPAC Conference in Washington DC was attacked and put in a chokehold. In this case, the police arrested the assailant, but they also arrested the woman who was attacked! In 2010, while standing on a public sidewalk, I was hit in the face by an AIPAC conference attendee, and the police refused to even take a police report. A few months later a protester and I were slugged with a book bag by an attendee at another pro-Israeli government conference, and the police once again refused to help. Students at the University of New Mexico were hit by audience members during a non-violent protest, and in November 2010, members of the pro-Occupation group Stand With Us (SWU) pepper-sprayed several members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Video footage of the 2011 AIPAC Annual Gala shows the assault of a young woman who held a banner reading “Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel.”

“This time, the justice system worked for me,” said a triumphant Abileah, “I hope it sends a message to aggressive Israeli Occupation supporters around the country that they don’t have the right to assault us; we have the right to express our views peacefully. Just as violence is not the answer to the Israel-Palestine conflict, it won’t work to silence critique and outcry in the US. This is a bittersweet victory—no one should suffer from a violent attack for just speaking up for equality and human rights.”

Of course, for the Palestinian people who live under Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation, violence dominates everyday life. The brutal 2008 invasion of Gaza left 1,400 people dead and crushed homes, schools, businesses—even hospitals. In the West Bank, peaceful protesters are regularly tear-gassed, shot, beaten, thrown into prison without trials.

“My neck pain was a small price to pay compared with the sacrifices made by Palestinian, Israeli, and international nonviolent protesters who’ve risked their bodies and lives to defend the basic human rights of the Palestinian people,” said Abileah. “But with this victory over an AIPAC volunteer lobbyist, perhaps more Americans will be encouraged to speak out and stand up for human rights and free speech.”

Ms. Abileah will donate a portion of the funds from Shulster to legal and medical aid for peaceful Palestinian protesters in the West Bank.

(mondoweiss.net / 31.07.2012)

Palestinian PM discusses economic issues with Israel

  • Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, pictured in January 2012, on Tuesday to discuss economic issues, a statement said
    Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met with Palestinian prime minister Salam …

Israel Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday to discuss economic issues, a statement said.

“The meeting focused on the arrangements concerning the transfer of goods and the taxes between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” the statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

It quoted Netanyahu as saying that steps had been taken to support and strengthen the Palestinian economy.

“We hope these arrangements will help advance our relations with the Palestinians in other areas,” the statement added.

Israeli public radio said the arrangements would come into force at the start of 2013 and are aimed at developing trade relations and combatting tax evasion and smuggling.

Under the 1994 Paris Accords, Israel transfers Palestinian tax and tariff funds to the Palestinians.

The funds total about 700 million to one billion euros ($862 million to $1.2 billion) a year, representing two thirds of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget.

(en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com / 31.07.2012)

Jihad is a Peaceful Struggle

Islamic (3)

It is true that jihad is one of the most important teachings of Islam. But jihad is not synonymous with war. In Islam another word is used for war and fighting. This word is ‘qital.’ When the Qur’an refers to war or fighting, it uses the word qital and not jihad.

Jihad literally means to strive or to struggle. So jihad actually means peaceful struggle, especially for da’wah work. The Qur’an says: Do great jihad with the help of th…e Qur’an. (25:52)

The Qur’an is simply a book, and not a sword, so “do great jihad with the Qur’an” means do great jihad with the ideological power of the Qur’an. In fact, jihad is only another name for peaceful activism. And peaceful activism is the only weapon by which Islam wants to achieve all its aims and objectives.

The Qur’an has this to say of the mission of the Prophet Muhammad:

We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind. (21:107)

In the Qur’an and the Hadith, there are many such references that go to prove that Islam is a religion of peace, love and human brotherhood. However, it is also a fact that in later times the image of Islam has altered drastically. Now Islam has come to be regarded as a religion of violence rather than as a religion of peace. It is not the media that has produced this transformation in the image of Islam. The responsibility for this falls on latter-day Muslims, who have failed to maintain the original image of Islam.

In actual fact, the mission of all the prophets, right from Adam to Christ (may peace be upon them all), was one and the same—of establishing the ideology of monotheism in the world, so that man might worship one God alone. As we know, there came a large number of prophets in ancient times, but the message of monotheism remained at the initial stage; it could not culminate in a revolution. This state continued up till the time of Christ, the last but one Prophet.

The reason being that in ancient times, the system of monarchy was entrenched throughout the world. The kings, in order to secure their political interests, adopted the course of religious persecution. These kings suppressed all religious movements, which were different from the state religion. They would nip all apostasy in the bud, since they saw religion as a matter of affirming one’s loyalty to the state. If a person adhered to a religion other than the state religion, he was regarded as a rebel.

That is why in ancient times prophetic movements could go no further ahead than the stage of da’wah. No sooner would a movement based on monotheism arise than the coercive political system would be activated to pull it out by its roots. The reason for the absence of any historical record of prophets (besides the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) in antiquity is traceable to the intense opposition of these coercive political systems.

All the Prophets of ancient times, historically speaking, were like mythical beings, rather than real human beings accepted as historical figures. The Prophet Jesus was the last link in the chain of these persecutions faced by the preachers of monotheism. Then God decreed the abolition of this coercive political system, even if it entailed the use of force in order that the age of religious persecution might be brought to an end forever, and replaced by the age of religious freedom. This divine plan was brought to completion through the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) and his companions. This is the command given in the Qur’an:

“Fight them until there be no persecution and religion be wholly God.” (8:39)

Therefore the Prophet Muhammad received special divine succour in the form of a powerful team consisting of more than one hundred thousand individuals. Equipped with this team the Prophet waged war to end this coercive system of religious persecution, and it was in Arabia that it was first of all overthrown. Then within a very short span of time, they advanced to abolish the coercive system established by the Sassanid and Byzantine empires.

In the wake of this Islamic action, the coercive system was abolished forever in the major part of the inhabited world of the time. This war waged by the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) and his companions was not a war as is commonly understood, but rather a divine operation, which was carried out by a people who possessed a high standard of moral character.

However, this operation was certainly only temporary in nature. Its goal was to put an end to the age of religious persecution and usher in the age of religious freedom. This end was fully achieved during the early period of Islam, the age of the pious Caliphs.

Afterwards the time came to keep the sword in its sheath and engage in da’wah work, that is, the call to God, which was the real and permanent goal of Islam. According to the explicit command of the Qur’an, the call to God is the true and eternal mission of Islam, whereas war is only temporary and allowed only in exceptional cases.

It is no exaggeration to say that Islam and violence are contradictory to each other. The concept of Islamic violence is so obviously unfounded that, prima facie it stands rejected. The fact that violence is not sustainable in the present world is enough to convince one that violence, as a principle, is quite alien to the scheme of things in Islam.

Islam claims to be an eternal religion and such a religion cannot afford a principle in its scheme which will not be sustainable in later periods of human history. An attempt to bracket violence with Islam amounts to casting doubts upon the very eternity of the Islamic religion.

No wonder, then, that the Prophet Muhammad so earnestly used to entreat his Lord in his daily prayer:

“O God, You are the original source of Peace; from You is all Peace, and to You returns all Peace. So, make us live with Peace; and let us enter paradise: the House of Peace. Blessed be You, our Lord, to whom belongs all Majesty and Honour!”

(www.whyislamtrue.com / 31.07.2012)