A tourist photographs a sign painted on a wall in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem on June 5, 2015, calling to boycott Israeli products coming from Jewish settlements
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan has contacted several European countries, asking them to stop supporting and funding BDS organisations, Israeli newspaper Hayom reported on Friday.
Erdan also contacted the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, requesting that he ensures the EU halts funding to Palestinian organisations that support BDS and prevent the transfer of future funds to organisations that promote boycotts of Israel.
Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper revealed that Israel is preparing for a conference against the BDS movement and it would invite EU countries to attend.
According to the newspaper, “some 350 participants from 30 countries are set to arrive in Israel next week for an international conference aimed at coordinating the struggle against efforts to delegitimize Israel and fight the BDS campaign.”
The newspaper reported Erdan as saying: “The anti-Semitic BDS organisations disguise themselves as human rights activists, thereby succeeding in raising millions of euros from Western states.”
He also said: “BDS organisations themselves have testified that our activity is one of the central threats they face.”
Noting to the success of the Israeli efforts against the BDS, Hayom referred to the closure of the Ramallah-based Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, describing this as a serious blow to the BDS groups.
The BDS is a global movement that adopts peaceful means to resist the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its main activities are based on boycotting and calling for the boycott of Israel.
Protesters gathered in front of the Israeli Embassy in central London, in support of Gaza’s anniversary march of the ‘Great March of Return’, in London, UK on 30 March 2018
Former Israeli intelligence officers and government officials have justified the reported involvement of Mossad in efforts to combat the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, “some called BDS a real potential threat to the security of Israel” affirming that “the country must do its best to combat it”, and that “it was a good idea to utilize the agency to perform surveillance and sabotage some BDS activities”.
One such former official, ex-national security council chief and Major-General Yaakov Amidror, told the Jerusalem Post that “all – and I mean all – that Israel can do to fight BDS needs to be praised and acted on”.
“It is legitimate for the state to rally all means to stop a movement which is trying to go after the legitimacy of Israel,” he added.
Other officials “note[d] the that Mossad’s mandate includes ‘special operations’ that might not be thought of as conventional intelligence work,” the paper continued.
“Thus, they said, the Mossad should be employed in the struggle against BDS, providing the operations are legal and discrete.”
The former officials added “it would be preferable that the Mossad – with its discrete skills in spy craft – carry out the assignments rather than another less experienced agency which might leave ‘fingerprints’.”
“The Mossad knows best how to carry out activities which leave people guessing about whether anything was actually done and who acted, they said,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
“Less experienced operatives from different agencies could even harm the Mossad’s reputation if their actions were clumsily revealed, they said.”
Alstom, a French transport company, has announced their withdrawal from an Israeli light-rail project that is being used to annex illegal Israeli settlements into Jerusalem, citing potentially harmful human rights violations, and French law.
According to activists campaigning against the light-rail line, Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, rapid development of settlements, and forced transfers of its Palestinian population, constitutes a plethora of international law violations.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with the official transfer of the United States’ embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 14 May 2018, has further aggravated the situation in Jerusalem.
The existing light rail line was build on illegally seized Palestinian land, and the planned expansion is meant to connect West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements constructed on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, in violation of international law.
According to the Worldwide Movement For Human Rights (FIDH), on June 13, 2018, eight organizations (L’Association France Palestine Solidarité, CFDT, CGT, FIDH, Al-Haq, LDH, l’Union Syndicale Solidaires and the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine) published a report called ”Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem: Three French Companies Involved in Light Rail Construction”, urging French companies to withdraw from the project.
The withdrawal of Systra, a joint subsidiary of SNCF and RATP, was announced on June 20, 2018, and now Alstom has announced its withdrawal from the project as well.
The number of candidates for the second phase of the Jerusalem light rail project, has decreased from seven to two.
FIDH called on the remaining businesses to follow suit, to show their refusal to endorse Israeli’s continued annexation of Palestinian territories by force, settlement expansion, or other violations of international law.
One French company, Egis, a subsidiary of the publicly funded company, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), remains involved in the Jerusalem light rail project.
In the name of corporate ethics, for which no exception should be made, rights groups urgently called upon both the French government and the senior management of CDC to demand the immediate withdrawal of Egis from the project.
After the withdrawal of Alstom, which activists say is an important win, the FIDH said it is crucial that the French government and all other European governments take a clear stance against companies’ involvement in the Israeli policies of annexation, colonization, and occupation.
TEL AVIV, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli media on Thursday revealed that “Israel” for the first time will provide financial support for organizations working against The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).
Israeli Yediot Ahronot quoted the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs saying that on Friday it will submit a plan to provide financial support for organizations and figures outside “Israel”, who work against BDS.
The Newspaper also said that the ministry will provide 3 million Shekels to support pro-Israel field activities, which could strengthen the bonds between the occupation state and Westerns and publish a positive public opinion on “Israel”.
Meanwhile, Israel will provide further 2.7 million Shakels for organizations and figures, who work online to create an anti-BDS content on the internet and re-shape the public opinion
Thanks to your support, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was an even bigger success this year! IAW featured more than 200 events, across 30 countries, on five continents, all under the theme “Stop Arming Colonialism.” Events included big panel discussions at universities, concerts, film screenings, protests, poetry readings, comedy gigs, street art, sponsored hikes, fashion shows and more!
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Israel is able to maintain its illegal occupation and apartheid regime over Palestinians partly due to its arms sales and the military support it receives from governments across the world.
Some highlights include:
In Palestine, the sixth national BDS conference was held in Ramallah. The conference, attended by more than 800 people from all around the occupied West Bank, featured a keynote address by video by Ms. Baleka Mbete, speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa.
Sixth National BDS Conference in Palestine
Israeli Apartheid Week launched its events in Gaza with the words of Razan Najjar, a paramedic who was killed during the Great Return March, read by her mother, Sabreen Najjar, who opened the event. Although two IAW events had to be postponed due to Israeli bombings of Gaza on March 26th, and despite the on-going siege, several events were held, including a street awareness campaign on economic boycott, and film-screenings.
At Birzeit University in the West Bank, the Right to Education campaign organized a photo exhibition on campus on the Great March of Return in Gaza. The week launched a campaign on Palestinian Prisoners under Israel’s brutal system of incarceration, and a seminar was also held on Education in Israeli Prisons, in addition to sending letters and drawings to prisoners. Students also watched the movie “Between Two Crossings,” by the late Yasser Murtaja, a Palestinian journalist killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. More activities and demonstrations were organized in Risan, Ni’lin, Bil’in, Beit Sira and Kafr Qaddum.
With G4S losing many contracts in Arab countries, tens of IAW events were organized in the Arab World focusing on G4S and other complicit multinationals. Activities included film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, and more, aimed at raising awareness about normalization, military embargo, and BDS campaigning. In Kuwait, three prominent poets held a poetry night for Palestine, in addition to a film screening, a children’s kite event, and an energetic panel discussion with Kuwaiti and Palestinian activists on the cultural boycott.
IAW event in Kuwait
In Jordan, with BDS Jordan, Palestinian Activist Tarek Bakri screened his film “Missing 48,” and discussed his project “We were and We still are here,” which reconnects Palestinian refugees with their homeland. Bakri also presented his project in Morocco, where BDS Morocco organized solidarity events in several cities. In Egypt, BDS Egypt organized several events in cooperation with AUC’s Political Science Students’ Association, and Visualizing Palestine, closing the week by planting orange trees on Palestinian Land Day.
IAW event in Egypt
From Portugal to Hungary, Sweden, the Spanish state, Germany and many other countries, over 100 events were organised in Europe this year for Israeli Apartheid Week!
European organizers had the honour of hosting South African ANC veteran leader Ronnie Kasrils, who spoke at IAW events in Vienna, Bern, Geneva, Berlin and London. Despite the growing anti-Palestinian repression in several European countries, his interventions inspired those who heard him, and his voice reached thousand of readers thanks to his op-ed published in the British newspaper The Guardian.
IAW event in Austria
In the UK, tens of Universities organised for Apartheid Off Campus days of action, calling on their Universities to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s apartheid rule over the Palestinian people.In France, Rania Madi from Badil, who also faced strong repression from the French state, toured the country and held events in five different cities.
IAW event in France
IAW continues to grow on the African continent, under a strong women’s leadership. Members of BDS South Africa and the IAW team met with the deputy leader of the Namibian Parliament, together with members of the SWAPO (South West African People Organization) Women’s Council in Windhoek. Several engagements with political parties, trade unions and civil society groups were held in Botswana. The people of Swaziland face their own oppression, yet, in an act of generous internationalism during this year’s IAW, the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) and the Swaziland National Union of students (SNUS), together with local churches and other progressive partner organizations, held a successful event in Manzini. CPS explained that the focus of their event was “the historic relationship between African liberation struggles and that of the Palestinians, as well as Israel’s current oppression and expulsion of African refugees.” In South Africa dozens of events were organized across the country. Comic Mashabela Galane took to the stage in five cities for the comedy tour Apartheid Ain’t Funny! Ali Abunimah was on SABC TV News!
IAW event in South Africa
Activists in Latin America organized several activities in different parts of the continent, with multiple events in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The activities sought to make visible Israel’s escalating crimes against the Palestinian people, including ongoing colonization of territories and construction of illegal settlements, the imposition of Apartheid laws, and the brutal siege of Gaza.
IAW event in Argentina
In Mexico, for the first time, a Popular Tribunal was organized on the “Role of Israel in the Militarization of Latin America.” The tribunal was a meeting place for the different victims of militarization, and also for coordinating cross-movement struggles for the demilitarization of Mexico and the continent.
IAW event in Mexico
In the United States, students at more than twenty colleges and universities in ten states around the country held Israeli Apartheid Week events. Black Palestinian Solidarity was a frequent event theme, including at Harvard, Tufts, and Kent State. Palestinian poet Remi Kanazi performed on six different campuses. Students at Harvard and Georgetown Universities published strong op-eds in their student newspapers explaining why Israel’s rule over Palestinians fits the definition of apartheid under international law. Off campus, performances by Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company were protested in New York City and Colorado due to Batsheva’s sponsorship by the Israeli government and role in whitewashing Israeli apartheid.
In Asia, IAW events were organized by groups in India and Malaysia. On university campuses in Kolkata and Delhi, India, events included talks and film screenings on Palestine and BDS. The discussions focused on India’s growing ties with Israel, as they go together with the incumbent government’s right wing agenda. In Malaysia,
IAW event in India
BDS Malaysia organized a conference, Enhancing Palestine Solidarity in Malaysia, with lectures, discussions and a film screening. The keynote covered violations of international law as manifest in Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Strengthening grassroots solidarity through BDS campaigns, and the centrality of women’s struggle in Palestine’s freedom movement were themes of the discussion.
How dispiriting it is to be Palestinian and told day after day that you don’t matter; that you shouldn’t be protesting the erasure of your humanity.
Eurovision has always been an exercise in bad taste, but this year’s event takes things to an extreme. If you want to enjoy the kitschy song contest, which will take place from 14 to 18 May in Tel Aviv, Israel, then you have got to ignore the bloody political context that surrounds it. Indeed, Israel is so intent on keeping Eurovision politics-free that anyone it says might disrupt the event will be blocked from entering the country.
One of the most frustrating things about being Palestinian (I’m half-Palestinian myself) is that there seems to be no acceptable way to defend your humanity or protest agains your oppression. Calls to boycott Eurovision, for example, have been decried as divisive. Last month, celebrities including Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne and Marina Abramović signed a letter stating that Eurovision’s “spirit of togetherness” is “under attack by those calling to boycott [the competition] because it is being held in Israel, subverting the spirit of the contest and turning it from a tool of unity into a weapon of division”.
Look at that language. A peaceful form of protest is described as an “attack” and a “weapon”.
Palestinians and their supporters are cast as unreasonable, violent aggressors. Meanwhile, the larger context is ignored. The fact that most Palestinians, even those just a few miles from Tel Aviv, have no hope of attending Eurovision thanks to the severe travel restrictions imposed on them, is ignored. The fact that there is an entire infrastructure – from a concrete border wall to segregated roads – that is designed to separate Palestinians and Israelis is ignored.
Unless you have been to Palestine, it is hard to understand the daily violence of the occupation. It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that someone such as my father, who was born in the West Bank, could have no right to return there. It is hard to imagine what it is like to see your homes and history demolished. It is hard to understand the humiliation involved in traversing Israeli checkpoints to go to visit a relative in the next village. It is hard to imagine what it is like to be constantly told that you do not exist.
Palestinians aren’t just dehumanised in life, they are dehumanised in death. Just look, for example, at some of the coverage of the recent violence in Gaza. According to the Washington Post on 6 May, “four Israeli civilians were killed … and 23 Palestinians died”. CNN similarly reported that 23 people “have died in Gaza” while “in Israel, four people have been killed”. Palestinian lives don’t matter. The American media makes that clear every time it talks about Palestinian deaths, which are routinely described with a passive voice that casts them as random accidents. Weird how Palestinians keep walking into bullets; can’t say who is to blame, really.
Actually, scratch that. Palestinians are always to blame, according to some news organisations. Israeli violence, we are repeatedly told, is simply self-defence. “Gaza militants fire 250 rockets, and Israel responds with airstrikes,” the New York Times proclaimed on Sunday; this ubiquitous framing would have you believe that Gaza was peaceful until Hamas started firing rockets. What isn’t mentioned is the fact that Israeli forces shot dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters on Friday, before any rockets were fired; two of these protesters, one just 19 years old, died.
Palestinian deaths such as the ones on Friday don’t get much coverage because violence in the region only seems to matter when Israelis die.
The Washington Post and the New York Times as much as said so themselves when, on Monday, they stated that this recent violence was the “deadliest fighting since the 2014 war”. More than 50 Palestinians in Gaza were killedand more than 2,400 injured on 14 May last year, during protests sparked by the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. The past few days were not, by any means, the “deadliest fighting” since 2014 for Palestinians.
Life in Gaza, under an Israeli blockade for 12 years, is unbearable. Unemployment is above 50%; there is little electricity; less than 4% of the water is drinkable.
It is also practically impossible to enter or leave; the place is an open-air prison. The situation in Gaza is blamed on the people electing an extremist government in the form of Hamas, but even the Israeli military has conceded that Israel needs to improve living conditions in the Gaza strip if it wants to avoid more violence.
It is hard to imagine what it is like to be told that there is no right way you can protest against this treatment. Violent resistance is obviously out of the question. But so, apparently, are non-violent forms of resistance, such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which the US is trying to make illegal. The only acceptable thing you can do as a Palestinian, it would seem, is just shut up and die. And, for God’s sake, do not protest against Eurovision!
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators boycott the presentation of the Spanish candidate to Eurovision, Miki Nunez on 8 May 2019 in Madrid, Spain
Palestinian artists have called on contestants taking part in Eurovision “to boycott the international music competition that Israel is hosting next week”, reported Al Jazeera.
According to the Palestinian Artists Association, based in the occupied Gaza Strip, Israel is using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime”.
In the statement published yesterday, the artists cited the killing of more than 60 Palestinians by Israeli forces during protests in Gaza along the perimeter fence on 14 May last year, “the same day Israel won the Eurovision”.
The association also held a sit-in outside the European Union’s Gaza office and wrote a letter of protest.
Numerous artists and cultural figures have already urged a boycott of this year’s Israeli-hosted Eurovision, including Roger Waters – who wrote an open letter to Madonna, asking her to cancel her planned performance at the event – as well as British personalities such as Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel and Mike Leigh – who have asked the BBC to cancel its coverage.
The calls to boycott Eurovision have also come from the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which since 2005 has called for and coordinated a global, civil-society led anti-apartheid campaign. The boycott includes economic, academic and cultural elements.
Days Of Palestine [ BDS] – BDS organizes an international campaign aiming to boycott Puma clothing and sports equipment as it supports the Zionist illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories and is considered to be the official sponsor of the Israeli Football Association (IFA).
On Saturday, June 15, the campaign has selected the world’s largest campaign, marking the 52th anniversary of the occupation of 67 territories by the Zionist entity.
It calls on everyone to move towards the shops of the company “Puma” to view the violations of the occupation against Palestinian athletes, and the dissemination of the issue through social networking sites, boycott the products of the company and urge everyone to do so.
The campaign will also deliver the company’s branches around the world a protest message from 200 Palestinian clubs.
People gather at Dam Square holding flags and banners during a demonstration organised by ‘Palestinian House in Netherlands’ Foundation, in support of Palestine on 30 December 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Dutch Green Left Party has become the first mainstream political movement in the Netherlands to endorse a boycott of Israel.
The party backed the Palestinian-led, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement during its General Congress meeting on 16 February.
“BDS is a legitimate means to help Palestinians in their fight for justice,” the motion in question states. The motion also states that the Green Left “will be alert and resist forcefully attempts in any country to criminalise BDS”.
The Green Left has 14 out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the Dutch parliament.
In response to the news, the Dutch Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel, a pro-Israel advocacy group, condemned the Green Left, and claimed that BDS “is linked to terrorist groups”.
Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs has released a report called Terrorists in Suits: The Ties Between NGOs promoting BDS and Terrorist Organisations. The report has a sense of melodrama, especially its pictures of BDS activists pinned to a noticeboard with red pins connected by red thread, like a scene from a crime drama.
The man behind the report is Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan; he clearly has a wild imagination. Names, places, dates, events, meetings and pictures are all jumbled together to present a scenario which is supposed to deter people from supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and wash away all of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. In doing so, it simply peddles more myths and lies.
Every pro-Palestine, pro-justice activist named in the report, it is alleged, is not what they seem. It quotes, for example, an Israel Supreme Court 2007 description of Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of Al-Haq Foundation, one of the oldest human rights organisations in the occupied West Bank, as a “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” character. Due to “significant security concerns”, the court backed the army’s decision to ban him from overseas travel. Khalida Jarrar, Deputy Director of Addameer rights group, is defined in the same way. She has been held under an administrative detention order since 2017 for her role as a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and her alleged involvement in terrorist activities. Administrative detention allows Israel to keep people – always Palestinians – behind bars with neither charge nor trial on a renewable six-monthly basis.
One section of the Israeli report seeks to present an act of piracy on the high seas as some kind of heroic act against terrorists. When Israeli commandos attacked the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara in 2010 the vessel was part of a convoy of ships taking humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip. In international waters and with utter disregard for international law and human life the Israelis hijacked the convoy and killed nine Turkish activists — İbrahim Bilgen, Çetin Topçuoğlu, Furkan Doğan, Cengiz Akyüz, Ali Heyder Bengi, Cevdet Kılıçlar, Cengiz Songür, Fahri Yaldız, Necdet Yıldırım — and left a tenth, Ugur Suleyman Soylemez, so badly wounded that he died after being in a coma for four years. Israel eventually agreed to pay more than $20 million to the victims’ families. Israeli propagandists working for Erdan’s ministry still engage in the character assassination of these martyrs and distort the reality of that attack. Indeed, everyone who had anything to do with the Mavi Marmara convoy is still accused of “terrorism”, including the then head of Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign Sarah Colborne, Ismail Patel of Friends of Al-Aqsa and leading Palestinian exiles Muhammad Sawalha and Zaher Birawi.
Allegations against such activists include appearing on Al-Aqsa TV channel, which belongs to Hamas; promoting freedom flotillas to break the Israeli siege of Gaza; calling for an end to arms sales to Israel; and arranging demonstrations in support of the Palestinians’ legitimate right of return and the Great March of Return protests. It is even enough, according to Erdan’s report, to have gone to Gaza to give humanitarian aid and moral support to the Palestinians. Describe Israel as an Apartheid state and you will be called a terrorist, even though it fulfils all of the criteria for such a description.
Throughout Terrorists in Suits… there is a brazen disregard for international law, UN resolutions and plain common sense, reflecting Israel’s contempt for the laws and conventions intended to protect vulnerable people and provide them with justice. Nowhere does the report give you any indication that its authors are even remotely aware of Israel’s brutal military occupation, to which the country’s courts and security agencies are in thrall. Indeed, it cites court judgements and reports by Shin Bet, the internal security agency, as if they are independent and completely impartial, which is nonsense. Any opposition or resistance to the illegal and belligerent occupation is ranked as terrorism, and woe betides anyone who thinks differently.
According to Erdan and his team, nobody is safe from such a damning indictment, whether civil society organisations, Palestinian factions, intellectuals or activists. The report claims that 42 leading NGOs out of nearly 300 international organisations promote the “delegitimisation of Israel” and the BDS campaign against the Zionist state. That alone, it insists, is a good enough reason to classify them as “terrorists” and discredit them and their admirable work. Such activism, in the eyes of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is only acceptable when it favours Israel, otherwise, it is “terrorism”.
As US President George W Bush said post-9/11, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” He left no room for the middle ground; that it is perfectly reasonable to be both against US militarism and terrorism. Israel has jumped onto this bandwagon, so either you are pro-Israel or you are a terrorist; you cannot be pro-justice if that justice will benefit the people of occupied Palestine. When I wonder, will Israel and its supporters wake up to the fact that peaceful pro-justice, pro-Palestine activists are not the problem, and that it is the Israeli occupation which is at the core of the matter?