2011 Successes of the Cultural Boycott of Apartheid Israel

latuffcultboy

2011 was a year full of many successes in the campaign for the cultural boycott of Israel.  This summary will focus on the cultural boycott with emphasis on musical artists and groups.

The fall of South African apartheid was preceded by many musical artists who joined to create a movement. That movement became known popularly as “I’m not gonna play Sun City.”  Israel has not yet seen its Sun City moment fully, but as you’ll see, significant rumblings are beginning.

January, 2011: Jon Bon Jovi was asked not play in Israel.  Thus far, boycott efforts have been successful.  The singer had announced on Larry King Live he would perform in Israel.  After boycott efforts to ask him to refrain, no concert ever happened. [1]

French pop star Vanessa Paradis refuses to perform in Israel.[2] Her partner, American film icon Johnny Depp also cancels his visit to Israel.

February, 2011: Roger Waters (founder of Pink Floyd) comes out in strong support of the cultural boycott when he writes “Artists were right to refuse to play in South Africa’s Sun City resort until apartheid fell and whites and blacks enjoyed equal rights.  And we are right to refuse to play in Israel until the day comes — and it surely will come — when The Wall of occupation falls and Palestinians live alongside Israelis in the peace, freedom, justice and dignity that they all deserve.” [3]

German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff, scheduled to sing five classical concerts in Israel, withdraws shortly beforehand.   He’d been asked to cancel his concerts by BRICUP, Boycott from Within and others.  He said his withdrawal was on grounds of illness.

Pete Seeger unequivocally supports the cultural boycott, stating “I misunderstood the leaders of the Arava Institute because I didn’t realize to what degree the Jewish National Fund was supporting Arava. Now that I know more, I support the BDS movement as much as I can.” [4]

May, 2011: August Burns Red refrained from playing at Tel Aviv’s Barby.  Just over one week prior to their gig sources said “they have no plans to reschedule, they cancelled because they do not want to play in Israel.”  A three month long effort had been launched to ask the band to refrain. [5]

Marc Almond’s cancellation was welcomed by the BDS Movement. [6] Letters, as well as a Facebook page were created to let the “Tainted Love” singer know about the real Israel.  His fans passed out leaflets before a UK concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London.  His welcome response came four days later when he refused to play in Israel.

June, 2011: Although Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not a musician, the cancellation of his film promotion at the Jerusalem Film Festival brought a whirlwind of attention to the cultural boycott of Israel.  101 organizations signed a letter praising the basketball legend. [7]

Also, in late June, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine announced that they would refuse to perform in Tel Aviv. [8]  The voice of the Palestinian people was ultimately respected by the vintage punk rocker Jello Biafra.

Punk rock fans unite with punk bands and artists to launch Punks Against Apartheid.

July, 2011: Musicians Dave Randall, Maxi Jazz, and Jamie Catto release the single “Freedom For Palestine”  with the Durban Gospel Choir.  As the video went viral it gained momentum from endorsements by Coldplay, LUSH Cosmetics, Lowkey,  Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Massive Attack, Roger Waters, and many more. [9]

August, 2011: Tuba Skinny, while in Rome en-route to Israel , received information about the cultural boycott.  Tuba Skinny refused to perform at the Israel Government-sponsored Red Sea Jazz Festival, cancelling their concert only a few days prior to their scheduled gig. [10]  Latin jazz great Eddie Palmieri of Puerto Rico [11]and jazz musician Jason Moran of Houston [12] followed Tuba Skinny, and also cancelled their appearances at the Red Sea Jazz Festival.

September, 2011: Natacha Atlas stuns her Israeli booking agents when she refuses to play her scheduled concert in Israel.  She bravely states on her facebook page:

“…after much deliberation I now see that it would be more effective a statement to not go to Israel until this systemised apartheid is abolished once and for all. Therefore I publicly retract my well-intentioned decision to go and perform in Israel and so sincerely hope that this decision represents an effective statement against this regime.”[13]

The cultural boycott came closer to home as the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra went on tour.  Creative protests were seen in many cities in the USA and Europe.  A protest in London during  the BBC’s Prom Live Broadcast of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra resulted in worldwide press coverage when the BBC decided to halt its live broadcast of the concert.

Denise Jannah, was written to just prior to her tour in Israel.  She did perform in Israel, but her experience in Israel caused her to regret her choice, and she came out in support of the cultural boycott.  She stated: “Please let me start by telling you this: of a cultural BDS boycott Ramon and I had NO knowledge, none at all. This is where the problem started, for had I known I would have done things differently: the reasons for this boycott are valid.” [14]

Riverdance set designer Robert Ballagh, in bold support for BDS, called for the cancellation of Riverdance’s tour in Israel, but he was unable to stop it because he does not possess the copyright. However he donated all his royalties from the performance of Riverdance in Israel to the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign.[15]

October, 2011: The Yardbirds were scheduled to play in Israel, and a letter [16] signed by professors in the UK was written to them from BRICUP. They subsequently cancelled their performance.  Humanitarians are asking them not to reschedule in 2012.

Greek singer Martha Frintzila bows out of her performance at the Israel Government-sponsored Jerusalem Oud Festival with a the statement that she: “…will not participate in Oud Festival in Jerusalem for conscientious and political reasons.” [17]

Hosam Hayak, a regular performer at the Jerusalem Oud Festival, chose this year to cancel, making a press release in Arabic on his facebook notes.[18]

In another boost to the cultural boycott,  John Michael McDonagh, director of Golden Globe nominated (director and main actor) film The Guard, announces that, “due to the conflict, [he] declined to attend the Haifa Film Festival 2011.”

November, 2011:  The Jerusalem String Quartet was met with creative protests in both the UK and North America.  Parody programs were received by concert attendees in at least four North American cities.[19]

Macy Gray tweets regarding her February Tel Aviv gig @MacyGraysLife “i had a reality check and I stated that I definitely would not have played there if I had known even the little that I know now.”

Punkers Zdob si Zdub of Moldavia were also asked to refrain playing in Israel.  They cancelled their 5 November concert, and the BDS movement is asking them to refrain from playing in 2012, as they are being pressured to “reschedule.”[20]

Mireille Mathieu was asked by BDS France [21] to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv.  The French singer was also the recipient of a letter [22] signed by seventy people in the artistic community in Gaza asking her to respect the boycott.  Mireille Mathieu’s courageous announcement [23] on her website that she has postponed playing in Tel Aviv is a welcome one.  The BDS movement encourages her to stand strong against pressure from both French and Israeli booking agents to “reschedule” her concert in the apartheid state.

Rapper MF Doom was called on by numerous groups and individuals not to “rap in the apartheid state.”  Press reports indicated he cancelled his 26 Nov concert due to illness.  As of this publication, Doom has not rescheduled his concert in Tel Aviv.

In Switzerland, over 150 artists pledge to boycott apartheid Israel.[24]

December, 2011:  Oumou Sangaré becomes the third French artist in 2011 to cancel her planned performance with the Israeli Opera, as BDS makes inroads into the classical music world.  An informative letter from BDS France was followed by letters from DPAI and BDS Italy. [25]
Joe Lynn Turner’s 16 December concert in Tel Aviv is cancelled.[26]

Joker (UK) refuses to bring his dubstep-bass sounds to Tel Aviv. It appears that his decision might have been influenced by other musicians in the London music scene who asked him to reconsider.

Looking Ahead to 2012:

UK and Irish musicians are taking the lead under the “Freedom for Palestine” banner.  In the USA, expect Lupe Fiasco to continue to vocalize his support for Palestinians.

Current campaigns for cultural boycott are underway for Bruce Springsteen, Arch Enemy and Red Hot Chili Peppers to alert  them about the reasons to join fellow musicians in refusing to play in the apartheid state. Cultural BDS is growing and volunteers remain busy working in countless creative ways.

(This post was written by Zoe Lawlor of the Limerick IPSC, and was first posted here)

NOTES:
[1]See section “Pop Stars urged to Boycott” in http://electronicintifada.net/content/boycott-roundup-us-tear-gas-maker-csi-urged-cancel-israel-sales/9175
[2] Haaretz.com Jan 16, 2011 Did pop star Paradis cancel Israel concert over politics? http://bit.ly/ePtc3T
[3] Roger Waters: My Journey to BDS http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/economy-of-the-occupation/3374-roger-waters-my-journey-to-bds
[4]http://mondoweiss.net/2011/02/pete-seeger-endorses-boycott-of-israel.html
[5] August Burns Red Have Cancelled Their Planned Concert in Israel http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1612
[6] Marc Almond cancels Israel performance http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/letter-marc-almond-6933[ ]
[7] Media Release: 101 Organizations Praise Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Decision Not to Visit Israel  http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=3039
[8]http://punksagainstapartheid.com/2011/06/jello-biafra-cancels-tel-aviv-gig/
[9]”From the muddy fields of Glastonbury to the occupied streets of Gaza” http://www.freedomoneworld.com/
[10] http://refrainplayingisrael.posterous.com/tuba-skinny-respects-the-pacbis-call-cancels
[11] http://refrainplayingisrael.posterous.com/latin-jazz-great-eddie-palmieri-thank-you-for
[12] http://refrainplayingisrael.posterous.com/jazz-musician-jason-moran-cancels-concert-in
[13]  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Natacha-Atlas-Official/125501987488351?sk=wall
[14]http://www.kadaitcha.com/2011/09/18/denise-jannah-and-ramon-valles-now-support-bds/
[15] Riverdance should not go to Israel: Two open letters from the IPSC and set designer Robert Ballaghhttp://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/riverdance-should-not-go-to-israel-two-open-letters-from-the-ipsc-and-set-designer-robert-ballagh
[16] http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/cultural/Yardbirds.pdf
[17] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1741  Martha Frintzila cancels participation in Jerusalem Oud Festival
[18] Hosam Hayak Press Release http://www.facebook.com/notes/hosam-hayek/%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B5%D8%AD%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%85/10150341519462611
[19]http://www.usacbi.org/2011/11/jerusalem-quartet-protests/ Jerusalem String Quartet Met By Protests Across North America
[20] http://rebelfrequencies.blogspot.com/2011/11/bds-update-first-delay-then.html
[20] Letter ouverte de la Campagne BDS France a Mireille Matthieu  http://bit.ly/w26Xog
[22] Dear Mireille Mathieu  http://www.odsg.org/co/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2426
[23] “le concert prevu le 22 novembre 2011 en Israel a Tel Aviv est reporte a une date ulterieure”http://www.mireillemathieu.com/#/Nouveautes/Fiche
[24] http://www.bds-info.ch/fr/actualites/Declaration-of-Swiss-Artists
[25] See all three letters at “Victoire: Oumou Sangare annule son concert en Israel”http://www.bdsfrance.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=617%3Avictoire-oumou-sangare-annule-son-concert-en-israel-&catid=9%3Aevenements-bds-france
[26] http://refrainplayingisrael.posterous.com/joe-lynn-turner-refrains-from-playing-in-apar
(www.ipsc.ie / 27.01.2012)

New UN report shows sharp rise in Palestinians uprooted by Israeli demolitions

IMEMC  –  27 January 2012

Almost 1,100 Palestinians, over half of them children, were displaced due to home demolitions in the West Bank by Israeli forces in 2011 – over 80 per cent more than in the previous year – according to a United Nations report released today (Thursday January 26, 2012).

“Demolitions and Forced Displacement in the Occupied West Bank,” prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), adds that an additional 4,200 people were affected by the demolition of structures related to their livelihoods.

The report states that Israeli forces destroyed 622 structures owned by Palestinians including homes, animal shelters, classrooms and mosques – a 42 per cent increase compared to 2010.

In addition, over 60 per cent of the Palestinian-owned structures demolished in 2011 were located in areas allocated to Israeli settlements. Israeli forces destroyed 622 structures owned by Palestinians including homes, animal shelters, classrooms and mosques – a 42 per cent increase compared to 2010.

The report adds that that 90 per cent of the demolitions and 92 per cent of the displacement occurred in already vulnerable farming and herding communities in the territory known as “Area C” – which represents over 60 per cent of the West Bank where Israel retains control over security, planning and building.

Meanwhile, the report states that there was a “significant” decrease compared to previous years, with 42 structures demolished. However, at least 93,100 residents who live in structures built without a permit, remain at risk of displacement.

“The forced displacement of Palestinian families and the destruction of civilian homes and other property by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have a serious humanitarian impact,” the report points out, adding that the impact on families’ psychosocial well-being can be “devastating.”

It adds that Israel, as the occupying power in the West Bank, has the obligation to protect Palestinian civilians and to administer the territory for their benefit.

Following the report’s publication, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territories, Max Gaylard, visited the town of Anata where recent demolitions have left 52 people, including 29 children, homeless.

Gaylard called for an end to all demolitions and reiterated the statements of Valerie Amos, the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and head of OCHA, who urged Israel, in a visit last May, to end its evictions policy and to look carefully at the key humanitarian concerns of demolitions and displacement in the West Bank.

Read the report below:

(www.australiansforpalestine.net /27.01.2012)

Tánaiste renews Gaza blockade call

Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore begins a four-day visit to the Middle East today.
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore begins a four-day visit to the Middle East today.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has again called on Israel to change its policy in relation to Gaza and end its blockade of the territory.

Mr Gilmore was speaking at the start of a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories

During his visit, Mr Gilmore will meet Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and foreign minister Riad Malki.

He will also hold talks with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, deputy prime minister Dan Meridor and foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.

The Tánaiste began his visit in Gaza today where he toured a number of UN-operated schools and projects. He also met a number of non-governmental organisations dealing with human rights issues as well as local business people to discuss the continuing impact of the Israeli blockade on the economy.

Speaking this afternoon, Mr Gilmore said it was dispiriting to see how little change there had been in Gaza since the end of the Israeli military operation there three years ago. “What I have seen today has reinforced my belief that it is utterly unjust as well as counterproductive to subject Gaza to these restrictions, to choke off its economy, and to reduce its people to a state of complete dependency.”

Mr Gilmore said he would be raising the situation in Gaza with Israeli government representatives in the coming days and reiterating the need to end the blockade and make progress towards a comprehensive peace agreement.

“This ultimately offers the most effective means of addressing the serious problems and inequities which the people of Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian territories currently face,” he said.

(www.irishtimes.com  /27.01.2012)

Nederland reageert op boerkaverbod

Het kabinet heeft vandaag ingestemd met een verbod op gezichtsbedekkende kleding. De Tweede Kamer en inspraakorganen reageren op het besluit.

PVV-leider Geert Wilders
‘Geweldig nieuws: boerkaverbod komt er eindelijk in Nederland! Voorstel vandaag door ministerraad. Prachtig!’

Tofik Dibi, Tweede Kamerlid voor GroenLinks
‘Laten we terwijl mensen onzeker zijn over hun toekomst en die van hun kinderen, vooral een handjevol boerka’s opsporen en beboeten…’

Arie Slob, fractievoorzitter ChristenUnie
‘Crisisaanpak kabinet Rutte: boerkaverbod instellen. Zo komen we er wel.’

Voorzitter Aydin Akkaya van het Inspraakorgaan Turken in Nederland
‘Dit is weer zo’n besluit waarbij de overheid niet goed heeft nagedacht over de consequenties. Vrouwen die nu alleen met een boerka naar buiten durven of mogen, zullen vanaf nu thuisblijven. Nu staan die vrouwen nog in de samenleving, kun je ze aanspreken en hebben ze contact. Straks zitten ze binnen en ziet niemand ze meer. En dat allemaal onder het mom van een popiejopiewet die zogenaamd opkomt voor de rechten van de vrouw.’

De Amsterdamse jongerenimam Yassin Elforkani
‘Ik maak me zorgen over de verschuiving binnen de samenleving als het gaat om de beperking van vrijheden. Helaas worden vrouwen die een boerka dragen nu nog meer beperkt. Ik hoop dat de Eerste Kamer er niet mee instemt, net als bij het verbod op ritueel slachten. We hebben gelukkig nog een Grondwet die alles toetst.’

‘Vrouwen die ik ken die een boerka dragen, willen geen gehoor geven aan het verbod. Ze zeiden: als het zover komt, dan blijf ik thuis. Het gaat om een verplichting en dat accepteren ze niet.’

Leyla Çakir, voorzitter van moslimvrouwenorganisatie Al Nisa
‘Wij zijn nooit voor een boerkaverbod geweest. Volgens ons moet een vrouw zelf kunnen beslissen om er een te dragen. Zelfbeschikking staat voor ons voorop. Het zou nu best kunnen dat sommige vrouwen demonstratief op straat een boerka gaan dragen, maar er zullen zeker ook vrouwen zijn die nu niet meer hun huis uitkomen.’

(www.trouw.nl / 27.01.2012)

News from Syria 26.01.2012 II

#Hama sec forces and armed gangs (shabeeha) launched a raid campaign in the Sakan Shababi (Youth Housing) in the area of Baath

#DeirEzzor Intense gunfire near the State Securty Branch in the city

26-1-2012 Karm Zaitoon nieghbourhood

#Homs Several powerful explosions are ongoing in Karm al-Zaytoun in addition to the horrific humanitarian crisis in al-Karthy district

#Daraa Heavy gunfire from al-Jeezeh and Musaifra checkpoints near the northern enterance to al-Jeezeh

Unlike daily habit, #Assad‘s forces didn’t shut down electricity here in central #Syria-n city of #Homs even they r shelling us intensively

Shooting explosions and shelling still taking place here in central #Syria-n city of #Homs till this moment 12:12am .A very critical night

#Daraa Nahta Heavy shelling on the village by sec forces and army and sounds of explosions heard from all areas

#Aleppo Mar’e Massive protest now in solidarity with besieged districts of #Homs and chanting for the toppling of the regime

20 #Daraa Hirak death of soldier Ahmad Salama Al Hariri 20 years old at the hands of sec forces

Latakia sec forces stationed at the checkpoint on Harash road open fire towards Bustan Saydawi to scare residents

Latakia Night protest in Antakya Street in solidarity with Karam Zeitoun and besieged districts of #Homs chants for toppling the regime

Intensive shelling via heavy machine taking place right now near my home here in #Homs i see them as red lines in the fogy sky #Syria

OP ED: Effect of Prejudices and the Imperial Structure On Palestine

SAM 1997_2ISRAELI SOLDIERS CONFRONT PROTESTERS AT A WEEKLY DEMONSTRATION IN MA’SARA VILLAGE (IMAGE BY EDRA ARB)

By Edra Arb

Are all Palestinians criminals; making mass imprisonment and the surveillance of everyday life necessary? Are they terrorists, murderers and oppressors who must be erased as a nation and as a people? Are all people on Earth worth fundamental Human Rights?

Our global world still consists of racist structures that put people in different categories; disfavouring those standing lowest and favouring those on top. Since prejudices justify the oppression of the lowest standing, it also helps those who are on top to remain there. The world media portrayal of a Palestinian (or maybe even an Arab in general) could be described roughly, as: crazy, murderous terrorists and Islamic extremists who have no respect for women. All these statements have been used, directly or indirectly, as justifications to continue the inhuman occupation of Palestine. The whole population is judged to be “legally incompetent”: not able to speak, move, vote or even live freely. My assignment for this article was to give my honest experience of living in the area as a foreigner, since most of the information about Palestine seems to come from sources other than Palestine itself.

Firstly, I would like to discuss the prejudices about violence, terrorism and murder. Since I came here I have not seen any type of violence. That does not mean that it does not exist – we are in the middle of a conflict zone. People here have seen and experienced more violence and death than I can ever imagine or understand. Soldiers with loaded machine guns are simply a part of everyday life, sitting in corners eating pizza or surrounding peaceful demonstrations. They don’t usually shoot, but the threat is always present.

It is hard to find statistics about how many Palestinians have killed Israelis and vice versa during the whole conflict. According to the Israeli Human Rights Organization, almost five times more Palestinians than Israelis were killed during the period from 1989 to 2009. The question then is why Palestinians in the media are almost always described as the violent ones. Why does Israel always insist that the Palestinian Authority do more to stop Palestinian violence before there can be any peace solution, when most of the violence is perpetrated by the Israelis themselves?

According to what I have found out here, the most common violence committed by Palestinians against Israelis is throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, especially near the wall or settlements. Israel uses this to justify arresting Palestinians and giving them year-long detention and shooting at them. But why throw stones at armed soldiers? I asked a Palestinian who was active in the second intifada: “It is just the feeling. I am not stupid enough to honestly think that they will give us freedom because of that, but in some way I have to take a symbolic action to show that I have not given up.” All kinds of violence is a crime, though it is hard to compare stones and bullets. Settlers have had impunity in almost all cases, including killings, according to Amnesty International in their Annual Report 2011. No one here would be surprised if a settler who shot a stone-thrower directly at their body escaped all legal sanctions.

I have been speaking with many Palestinians about this prejudice against martyrs and terrorists. They are repeating a main message that should be too simple to bear repeating: Palestinians are, as everybody else, in almost all cases filled with feelings and hope for a long, healthy life. They do not want their kids to die or become terrorists. All they want is to live in peace, but without humiliation and more losses. No fair peace could be gained if there is no justice between the two parts.

The next prejudices to discuss are the religious issues. Firstly, the common opinion that the Israeli – Palestinian conflict is all about religion is simply wrong. It is all about politics. I have never heard any Palestinian say that he or she hates Jews, but I have heard a lot of that said about Zionists. Zionism is a political ideology about the right to a Jewish state where Palestine once was. In the West Bank, Muslims, Christians and Palestinian Jews live together on the same land. On the same square where the worldwide important Nativity church is in Bethlehem, there is also a mosque. I have been as much with Christian friends as with Muslims, and there have not been borders between us because of different beliefs. This conflict is a struggle between ideologies and culture; about power, money and land. Not about religion.

The oppression of women is another famous prejudice. I was warned before I came here that “In those countries the women are only like possessions of men. Western woman especially are seen as prostitutes.” My experience has not proved this statement; on the contrary, it has been very easy for me to get around here.

I do not like to compare Israel and Palestine in unessential issues in order just to make one country seem better then the other, but it is important to open up the debate about these things – there are almost twice as many women in the Palestinian parliament as in the Israeli parliament Knesset. This does not demonstrate a perfect situation for women, but it may prove the way that we are judging people, nationalities and cultures without facts or experience. There are probably oppressed women in both Israel and Palestine. And why should oppression because of nationality decrease the oppression of women?

It is important to point out the difference between individuals in this issue as well. A Palestinian woman tried to explain the difference between families, villages and society here. How a woman can live, dress and behave is very different depending on which norms they were raised with. This is not only a religious issue; Christian women and Muslim women are in a very similar situation since they are living in the same society. Some families or areas are more conservative than others, and vice versa. As always, norms and life are affected by culture, but depend on individuals.

The worst and most important part of this is how prejudices and global social status is affecting Palestinians’ access to Human Rights and their ability to live a life in freedom. Since the image of them as a “dangerous”, “Islamic extremist” people has been spread over the world, the fact that they are now imprisoned inside a wall and are everyday victims of crimes against Human Rights has not yet generated as much attention as it should. What if Germany or the USA was inside a wall, with no full right of movement or expression? Would the world accept that? Absolutely not. Would the UN give Switzerland to the Armenians if they needed a land? Definitely not.

14 countries voted “no” for a Palestinian membership in UNESCO. The US, Canada, Germany and Israel were some of the countries. Sweden also said “no” to Palestine’s UNESCO membership, one of the arguments was the following: “We cannot disregard that almost half of Palestine is ruled by a party that we find terroristic (Hamas).”

However, it might seem a little bit contradictive to have this argument and promote democracy. Hamas was elected in 2006. They were not able to rule in the West Bank as the US and the EU froze their grants if Fatah did not rule anyway. Palestinians are under occupation, and they are not even seen able to elect their own government. Why didn’t the EU just invalidate George Bush when he attacked Iraq or started the Guantanamo base? No, he got support. The Hungarian government has recently adopted several laws that are seen as undemocratic, why does the world not oust them?

Nevertheless, Palestine was backed by 107 countries in the UNESCO. Just after, when Israel had “condemned the rudeness all these 107 countries had committed”, they exacted this revenge: to build 2000 more houses for settlers inside “The Occupied Palestinian Territories” and to temporarily freeze the transfer of Palestinian taxes to the Palestinian Authority. Nothing has been done about that. This is the imperialistic structure of the world; how some states can occupy territories. How some states can deny others rights when others cannot. What if Palestine occupied and imprisoned Israel? What if Iraq attacked the US? According to The Lancet’s survey, the occupation of Iraq has led to 655,000 Iraqi deaths. To spread democracy?

Prejudices are making the Palestinians suffer, both as individuals and as a people. They give them less human rights and humiliate them. The Palestinians are not the only people in the world who suffer from prejudices that both exclude them from power and dignity. I have not experienced the normal Palestinian as a terrorist. I have experienced a country full of individuals who for more than sixty years have suffered more than they deserve. I have experienced a welcoming country where, if not for the occupation, it is easy to travel within and to feel comfortable. Crimes are committed here, and Palestinians are victims of crimes.

If we are going to continue to judge people due to their ethnicity or nationality we might as well agree on the following facts:

Blondes are in almost every case, stupid

Jews are without many exceptions, greedy

Immigrants (in every country) are criminals

East Europeans drink vodka for breakfast

(english.pnn.ps / 26.01.2012)

Lebanese minister tours refugee camp, discusses cooperation with UNRWA

24 January 2012
Beirut

A memorandum of understanding was signed today in Burj Barajneh Palestine refugee camp between the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs. Its purpose is to determine further cooperation between UNRWA and the ministry.

The memorandum was signed by His Excellency Mr. Wael Bou Faour, the Minister of Social Affairs, and Mr. Salvatore Lombardo, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon. Present were the president of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Ambassador Abdel Majid Qassir, and the Chargé d’Affaires in the Embassy of Palestine, Mr. Ashraf Dabbour.

This memorandum sets forth cooperation with respect to assistance, care, rehabilitation, and awareness for the most vulnerable groups among the Palestine refugees, including children, orphans, women, the elderly, and people with special needs.

Ambassador Dabbour expressed his thanks on behalf of Palestine refugees in Lebanon to all those who endeavour to alleviate the suffering of these refugees in Lebanon, and added, “We reiterate the need for cooperation with the Lebanese government through the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee and in full coordination with UNRWA, and for reminding the international community of its responsibility toward our people in supporting our struggle to improve our socio-economic conditions until the return to our homeland.”

On this occasion, Minister Wael Abou Faour said, “This memorandum of understanding includes the provision of services to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Lebanon through specialised institutions of the ministry and contracted institutions.” He added that a special fund will be established by UNRWA to fund such services. Commenting on his tour inside the camp, Abou Faour called on his fellow ministers to visit a Palestinian camp, because “whoever wants to rediscover his humanity has to see the living conditions in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon.” He also called on Lebanon and the Lebanese to overcome their apprehension of the naturalisation of Palestinians, “which obstructs us from doing what will protect the dignity and rights of Palestinians as well as the safety of the Lebanese and the Lebanese society.”

Mr. Lombardo thanked the Government of Lebanon, represented by Minister Bou Faour, and said, “This agreement with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs is an important contribution to Palestine refugees, as it allows technical expertise to the most vulnerable. The visit by the minister to Burj Barajneh Camp confirms the commitment of the minister and his ministry to improving living conditions in the interest of Lebanon and the Palestinians.”

Before signing the memorandum, Minister Bou Faour toured Burj Barajneh camp. He visited the Women’s Programme Centre and was briefed on their daily challenges. He also visited the Active Aging House and met with elderly refugees, who spoke of their memories of Palestine before the Nakba.

The visit also came within the framework of the “Dignity for All” program, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, which aims at changing perceptions between the Lebanese people and Palestinian communities by raising awareness and highlighting positive aspects on which to build.

(www.unrwa.org / 26.01.2012)

300 truckloads of goods enter Gaza

Trucks carrying goods pictured at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces allowed limited commercial and agricultural goods into Gaza on Thursday via the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Israel allowed 300 truckloads of goods to enter Gaza and two trucks of flowers and strawberries to be exported from the coastal enclave, Palestinian border crossing official Raed Fattouh told Ma’an.

Twenty-two cars will also enter Gaza together with communications equipment and cement for international projects, he said.

The southernmost border crossing is the only operating entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave, which is home to more than 1.65 million Palestinians.

(www.maannews.net / 26.01.2012)

Arbitrary Detention and Detention of Children as Adults

Israeli military justice authorities arbitrarily detained Palestinians who advocated non-violent protest against Israeli settlements and the route of the separation barrier. In October a military court sentenced Abdallah Abu Rahme, from the village of Bil’in, to one year in prison on charges of inciting violence and organizing illegal demonstrations, largely on the basis of coerced statements by children. In January the Israeli military released anti-wall activist Muhammad Othman, after detaining him for 113 days without charge.

While Israeli courts define Israelis under 18 years of age as children in accordance with international standards, Israeli military courts continue to treat Palestinians over the age of 16 as “adults,” and sentence them as adults according to their age at sentencing even if they were children at the time of the offense. Israel detained at least 286 children under 18, including 20 under the age of 15, as of September. Human rights groups reported dozens of cases in which Israeli authorities detained and questioned Palestinian children without a family member present or access to a lawyer, as required by law, and allegedly mistreated them in custody to coerce them to sign confessions in Hebrew, which they did not understand.

As of September Israel held 189 Palestinians in administrative detention without charge.

(Facebook / 26.01.2012)

Palestinian youth and students condemn UK student propaganda tour of Israel

Open letter to UK student activist participants in propaganda tour of Israel from Palestinian students and youth

We, Palestinian students and youth organisations, were shocked and disappointed to learn of your all expenses paid junket to Israel, involving prominent Labour party student activists and organised by the Union of Jewish Students.[1] By being involved in this propaganda tour, you have crossed a picket line established by the entirety of the Palestinian civil society.

The 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a call for supporters of Palestinian rights to actualise their support with concrete and effective actions of solidarity.[2] Boycotting official Israeli state institutions is probably the easiest and most basic form that such support could take. By choosing instead to engage with official Israeli state institutions, you have created a false impression that Israel is a state like any other, rather than one that practices occupation, colonisation and apartheid over the indigenous Palestinian population.

In recent weeks, Palestinians have been commemorating the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 Gaza massacre during which Israel committed crimes against humanity, a UN Fact Finding Mission established. Meeting with Mark Regev, the public face of that massacre and the chief spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is a grave insult to the memories of the more than 1,400 Palestinians that lost their lives during the 22 days of unrelenting aerial bombardment and ground incursions.

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory are recognised as illegal under law by the entirety of the international community, including the UK government. Your visit to Gush Etzion is precisely the kind of emboldening support on which the continued colonisation of our territory depends.

Also understand that your decision to meet with OneVoice only places you more firmly on the side of the oppressor. When they are not grounded in a mutual and active opposition to Israeli violations of international law, such dialogue initiatives constitute a form of normalisation that seek to equate the oppressor with the oppressed and are deeply damaging to the realisation of our rights.[3] As Palestinian youth and student organisations, we have been engaged in many successful campaigns against such initiatives in recent months.

The effective forms of solidarity currently being shown in the UK have inspired Palestinian students and youth. The National Union of Students should be applauded for initiating campaigns against Veolia and Eden Springs over their complicity with Israeli violations of international law, and for supporting the fantastic campaign being waged by students at King’s College London against their university’s collaboration with Ahava, the Israeli settlement enterprise. The motions passed at student unions across the UK in support of BDS initiatives have been equally impressive, and we look forward to hearing how Israeli Apartheid Week will contribute to the further growth of the student movement in support of Palestine. Your fellow students have shown that concrete and effective solidarity, rather than all expenses paid pro-Israel junkets, is the way to contribute to a just and lasting peace.

Endorsed by:

Al-Quds Open University Student Councils
Al-Quds University Student Council
An-Najah University Student Council
Arab American University in Jenin Student Council
Bethlehem University Student Council
Birzeit University Student Council
Hebron Polytechnic University Student Council
Association of Youth in Jerusalem
Fateh Youth Movement
Herak Shababi, and other youth groups participating in the March 15th demonstrations and actions against normalization
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for Academic Boycott of Israel
Right to Education Campaign
Youth Against the Settlements

[1] http://electronicintifada.net/content/uk-labour-party-student-officials-face-backlash-over-free-tour-israel-settlements/10819

http://www.journal-online.co.uk/article/8401-eusa-vicepresident-under-fire-over-disgraceful-israel-junket

[2] http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

[3] For more on the concept of normalisation, see http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1436and http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1749

[4] http://electronicintifada.net/blog/jalal-abukhater/cancellation-sharif-dorzis-concert

(www.bdsmovement.net / 26.01.2012)