Texas teacher fired for refusing to sign anti-BDS oath

Bahia Amawi, a primary school teacher in Texas who was fired for refusing to sign an anti-BDS oath in her contract [Screenshot from The Intercept]

Bahia Amawi, a primary school teacher in Texas who was fired for refusing to sign an anti-BDS oath in her contract

A primary school teacher in Texas has been fired for refusing to sign an anti-BDS oath embedded in her employment contract. Bahia Amawi is a language specialist who works with autistic and speech-impaired primary school children. She has been told that she can no longer work in the state’s public schools after she “refused to sign an oath vowing that she ‘does not’ and ‘will not’ engage in a boycott of Israel or ‘otherwise take any action that is intended to inflict economic harm [on Israel]’,” the Intercept revealed yesterday.

Amawi has held a contract with Pflugerville Independent School District – the body which oversees schools in and around Texas state capital Austin – for almost ten years, but upon renewing her contract in August discovered an additional clause had been inserted into the paperwork. The clause required Amawi to pledge that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract” and that she will refrain from any action “that is intended to penalise, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”

Such phrasing would effectively bar Amawi from supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, boycotting goods produced on illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank or even expressing support for either of these actions since, as the Intercept points out, “such speech could be seen as ‘intended to penalise, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel’.”

READ: New York University student government adopts BDS-inspired divestment resolution

Speaking to the Intercept, Amawi explained: “It’s baffling that [the school district] can throw this [clause] down our throats and decide to protect another country [Israel]’s economy versus protecting our [US] constitutional rights. If I [signed the contract], I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus, become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully.”

Upon refusing to sign the contract, Amawi was told by her school district supervisor that her employment would not be renewed.

The incident has sparked a fierce legal debate, with Amawi filing a lawsuit which argues the clause violates her right to free speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. According to Haaretz, the lawsuit claims that, “The Supreme Court has recognised that nonviolent boycotts intended to advance civil rights constitute ‘form[s] of speech or conduct that [are] ordinarily entitled to protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments’.” The lawsuit will point to a precedent in which it was ruled that, “While states have broad power to regulate economic activities, there is no comparable right to prohibit peaceful political activity such as boycotts.”

READ: ACLU warns Congress anew against criminalising boycotts of Israel

The clause was entered into Amawi’s contract after Texas enacted a law in May 2017 prohibiting state agencies from signing contracts with companies that boycott Israel. The law – known as HB 89 – required the Texas Comptroller’s Office to make a list of all companies that boycott Israel and to hand this list to state agencies, which would then be banned from forming contracts with these blacklisted companies. The law also prevented state pension funds from investing in companies which support BDS.

Texas is not the only US state to have enacted an anti-BDS law. Illinois became the first state to adopt such legislation in 2015, with a further 25 states following this model since then, including the State of New York, California and Florida. A further 13 states have anti-BDS legislation pending, including Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington.

US support for BDS was thrust into the spotlight in September when, citing the movement, a professor from the American University of Michigan refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student who wished to study in Israel. John Cheney-Lippold’s stance drew anger from pro-Israel organisations in the US, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which have worked to counter growing support for the movement. Since then, other university faculties have vowed to back BDS, as has newly-elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who in November became one of the first two Middle Eastern-heritage women to be elected to the US Congress.

(Source / 18.12.2018)

BDS isn’t anti-Semitic, says veteran Israel journalist

Journalist at Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Gideon Levy poses in his home on August 12, 2014 in the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv. (Photo by GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Journalist at Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Gideon Levy poses in his home on August 12, 2014 in the coastal Israeli city of Tel Aviv  December 17, 2018 at 1:01 pm  

Veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has reaffirmed his support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, speaking in a Haaretz podcast interview.

Asked about the backlash against the boycott both in Israel and in the United States, Levy said that the BDS campaign is still “the only game in town”, a description he first used in 2016.

According to Levy, “one of the biggest successes” of the boycott has been the way it has “changed the discourse” internationally; now “people start to ask and question Zionism”, and whether “it is the only regime we can have in this piece of land”.

“This discourse is a very fascinating one,” Levy said.

READ: If America’s ‘core values’ mean anything at all, then anti-BDS laws must be repealed 

Responding to the claims made by the Israeli government that the BDS Movement is “anti-Semitic”, Levy dismissed such charges as “the automatic response of the Israeli propaganda against any criticism of Israel, not just BDS”.

Levy said he believes that as BDS gains more momentum, Israelis will move beyond simply dismissing the boycott as a form of anti-Semitism and ask if “there is something wrong about us”.

Despite the denial and aggression, Levy continued, “there is this knowledge that something is burning under our feet”.

Addressing the goals of the BDS Movement, Levy said his understanding was that “it’s about changing the regime from an apartheid one to a democracy”.

(Source / 17.12.2018)

BDS: 15 Arab, Islamic countries cooperate with Israel

Protest outside the David Cup tennis match between Israel and South Africa, in Pretoria, South Africa on February 3, 2018 [Facebook / bdssouthafrica]

Twenty per cent of the Arab and Islamic countries possess diplomatic relations with Israel, the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) global campaign reported yesterday.

“Nine Arab countries possess full diplomatic ties with the Israeli occupation, while six others who are experiencing lower-scale relations with Israel,” BDS said in its recent reports entitled “The reality of normalisation in the Arab and Islamic world.”

BDS warned the Arab states of what it described as a “dangerous reality” resulting from the “Arab countries’ unprecedented normalisation with Israel.”

The Palestinian-led campaign called on all the Arab and Islamic countries “to renounce normalisation with the occupation [Israel] as well as pressuring them to recognise the rights of the Palestinian people.”

READ: Israel’s $72m war chest to fight BDS comes to Brussels

The anti-Israel organisation pointed out that it has been following what it described as “formal and informal normalisation” across the Arabic region, accusing some complicit countries of “committing an unforgivable crime.”


“Palestinians won’t forgive anyone who normalises with the Zionist entity [Israel],” the boycott organisation stressed.

BDS is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. It aims at raising global awareness about the importance of boycotting the Israeli occupation at all levels and rejecting its co-existence and countries who normalise with it.

(Source / 30.10.2018)

Denmark to suspend funding to BDS groups

Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen [Eget Arbejde/Wikipedia]

Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen

Denmark has announced that it will no longer provide any funding to groups that endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, in what pro-Israel activists have called a significant step.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced the new policy earlier this month is a document entitled ”Explanations about the conditions for Danish support for Israeli and Palestinian civil society organisations.”

“The use of Danish funds for political purposes, including BDS activities, is unacceptable,” read the conditions. The other guidelines mandate the defunding of any recipient caught “associating with a terrorist movement”, violating human rights principles or “questioning Israel’s right to exist”.

TIMELINE: International attempts to boycott BDS

Olga Deutsch, the director of the Europe Desk at the right-wing, pro-Israel watchdog, NGO Monitor commended the Danish move.

“Switzerland and Norway addressed similar issues earlier this year, and we hope that Denmark’s guidelines will serve as an example for other European countries,” she said.

Last December, Denmark suspended its aid to many Palestinian groups and then more than halved the number of such recipient groups it had decided to fund in 2018.

The investigation started after the Palestinian village of Buraq opted to name a women’s centre after slain Palestinian resistance fighter, Dalal Mughrabi. The Swiss Foreign Ministry also announced last year that it had stopped funding the Palestinian NGO Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat due to the name change, alongside Norway. In 2017 Belgium also ended its funding for Palestinian schools over the naming of one such institution in honour of Mughrabi.

READ: German court rules that Kuwait Airways can’t be forced to carry Israelis

Numerous Palestinian organisations have come under fire from donors due to their support for the BDS campaign. Pro-Israeli groups have often been behind such action, after convincing policymakers that any attempts at Palestinian resistance, including support for the non-violent BDS movement, equates to terrorism.

Earlier this month, France announced that it would no longer label products produced in illegal Israeli settlements after it was sued by a pro-Israel think tank for “discrimination”. In August, two municipalities in Spain rescinded their support for the BDS movement after a pro-Israel group threatened them with legal action. In May 2017, Israel also successfully pressured the Danish government into suspending support and funding to groups that advocated for a boycott of Israeli goods.

On International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Middle East Monitor presents a round-up of the successes achieved by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement


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(Source / 30.10.2018)

39 worldwide Jewish groups state “BDS is not anti-Semitic”

BDS not anti-Semitic

39 Jewish groups from across the world have defended the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in an open letter released recently.

These left-wing Jewish groups, which are from Sweden, Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, The Netherlands, US, Argentina, Brazil, Canada,  Australia, South Africa and other countries, affirmed that “BDS should not be defined as anti-Semitic.”

“As social justice organizations from around the world, we write this letter with growing alarm regarding the targeting of organizations that support Palestinian rights in general and the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in particular. These attacks too often take the form of cynical and false accusations of anti-Semitism that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid.”

“We live in a frightening era, with growing numbers of authoritarian and xenophobic regimes worldwide, foremost among them the Trump administration, allying themselves with Israel’s far right government while making common cause with deeply anti-Semitic and racist white supremacist groups and parties.”

The 39 Jewish groups stated that “from our own histories we are all too aware of the dangers of increasingly fascistic and openly racist governments and political parties.”

Their letter underlines that “it is more important than ever to distinguish between the hostility to or prejudice against Jews on the one hand and legitimate critiques of Israeli policies and system of injustice on the other.”

The letter also states that “the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which is increasingly being adopted or considered by western governments, is worded in such a way as to be easily adopted or considered by western governments to intentionally equate legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with anti-Semitism, as a means to suppress the former.”

“This conflation undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against anti-Semitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal standards of human rights and international law,” the letter asserts further.

The organizations that signed the letter include Academia4equality (Israel), Boycott from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS), Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel), Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine (France), Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation (New Zealand), Een Ander Joods Geluid (A Different Jewish Voice) (The Netherlands), Een Andere Joodse Stem – Another Jewish Voice (Flanders, Belgium), European Jews for a Just Peace, and Free Speech on Israel (UK).

(Source / 22.07.2018)

Socialist International of 140 Global Political Parties Adopts BDS, Calls for Military Embargo on Israel

July 5, 2018 Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)

The Council of the Socialist International (SI) has called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) for Palestinian rights at their meeting in the United Nations in Geneva on June 26-27. SI also called for a “total embargo on all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel.”

Socialist International brings together 140 global political parties, including 35 parties in government in South Africa, Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Portugal, Tanzania, Luxemburg, Romania, Iraq and elsewhere.

The SI has reaffirmed the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and called on governments and civil organizations to “activate Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli occupation.” It called for the “total embargo on all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel as long as it continues its policies of occupation and Apartheid against the people of Palestine.”

SI strongly condemned Israel’s “racist laws,” and expressed its solidarity with Palestinian citizens of Israel, who “continu[e] to live under a system of institutionalized discrimination.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, General Coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the leadership of the global BDS movement, said:

Given its sheer size and global reach, Socialist International’s call for sanctions against Israel is a game-changer in the global BDS movement.

It is the most significant call for sanctions against Israel to date since BDS was launched in 2005. BDS activists expect it to blow wind in the sails of the BDS movement and in particular, to mainstream the call for a military embargo on Israel after its massacre of over 130 unarmed protesters in Gaza in May.

We deeply value Socialist International’s principled solidarity with the people of Palestine and salute them for taking concrete measures to hold Israel accountable for its decades-old regime of military occupation, colonialism and apartheid.

We look forward to the implementation of this momentous declaration in SI members’ home countries.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

(Source / 06.07.2018)

Israel officials ‘personae non grata’ as support for BDS swells in Spain

BDS Movement

Israelis are becoming increasingly worried over the growing support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Not a week goes by without the ranks of BDS swelling. Last week it was Hollywood actors and the Presbyterian Church who gave their backing for the campaign to end Israeli occupation and apartheid. This week it is Spain, which, according to the pro-settler news agency Arutz Sheva, is becoming the most hostile European nation to Israel.

A number of high profile cases were cited to support its conclusion, which it thinks should worry Israel. First there was the decision of the third largest city of the country, Valencia, to embrace the boycott of Israel by proclaiming itself a “zone free from Israeli apartheid”. The municipality stressed that “Israel is required to put an end to the occupation and remove the discriminatory wall in accordance with the resolution 242 of the United Nations Security Council and the announcement of the International Court of Justice issued on 9 July 2004.”

READ: Council in Spain joins BDS

Then the leader of the third largest Spanish party, Pablo Iglesias Turrión, head of Podemos, defined the Jewish state as a “criminal and illegal country”. The remarks followed Israel’s assault on unarmed Palestinian protesters taking part in the “Great March of Return” in Gaza.

Casting the BDS victories in Spain wider the paper mentioned the cancellation of a concert by the Israeli Symphonic Orchestra of Netanya because of political reasons. According to the local producer of the concert, which was to be held in Oviedo, they had received an official notice from the municipality stating that the cancellation of the event was the result of a political decision to “stop Israeli activities in the city”.

Oviedo, Arutz Sheva said, had also cancelled the performance of an Israeli ballet. The City Council of Cadiz had already cancelled an Israeli film festival, claiming that it “contradicts the adherence to the campaign ‘free from Israeli apartheid’”. In Benicassim, near Barcelona, the Jewish musician and reggae star Matthew Paul Miller, aka “Matisyahu”, was disinvited from a music festival because he would not publicly endorse Palestinian statehood.

READ: Spain provides €2 million support for Palestinians

Elsewhere in Spain the parliament of the Autonomous Community of Navarre, approved a resolution last May to endorse BDS. They also called on Spain’s central government to “support any initiative promoted by the international BDS campaign” and to “suspend relations with Israel until that country stops its criminal and repression policies against the Palestinian population.

Eighty Spanish towns and councils are said to have already joined the Israeli boycott campaign, which is significantly higher than the 60 reported over a year ago.


The Israeli embassy in Madrid, Arutz Sheva reported, wrote a letter to Podemos’ members accusing them of practicing a “systematic boycott policy” against Israel, after a group of deputies decided not to attend a scheduled meeting with the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Kutner.

It also mentioned that El Al, Israel’s flagship airline, intended to create a direct flight from Santiago de Compostela to Tel Aviv, but the project was rejected by the Spanish tourism leaders as a symbolic act of support for the boycott. The city of Pamplona is also reported to have declared Israeli officials “personae non grata” in the city.

On International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Middle East Monitor presents a round-up of the successes achieved by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement


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(Source / 04.07.2018)

Hollywood stars back BDS

Actor Viggo Mortensen [Wikipedia]

Actor Viggo Mortensen

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel received another boost after Hollywood stars Viggo Mortensen and Danny Glover gave their backing. The actors were amongst 79 international artists, writers and producers from all fields of the arts in the UK, the US, Germany and beyond, plus public figures including Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, to speak out against what they say is an “alarming form of censorship, “blacklisting” and repression” of pro-Palestinian activists.

Their concerns over the suppression of free speech was raised in an open letter published in the Guardian today after an award-winning band called the Young Fathers was disinvited from an arts festival in Germany. The Scottish band was under pressure to declare themselves non-supporters of the Palestinian-led BDS movement for human rights as a condition of appearing at the festival later this summer.

Concert organisers, Ruhrtriennale, announced the cancellation of the group’s participation saying: “Regrettably, the Young Fathers have not distanced themselves from BDS. (…) The Ruhrtriennale distances itself in all forms from the BDS movement and wishes to have absolutely no connection with the campaign. We have therefore decided to cancel the concert.”

Following the cancellation, Young Fathers published a statement saying that it was “their views opposing the current Israeli Government’s grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and our support of the non-violent and anti-racist human rights movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” which led to their disinvitation.

READ: US church with 1.5m members votes unanimously to support BDS

The band has since been re-invited as a result of the international outcry even though they have not backed down from their stance which they say is “only peaceful protests a person can take, in the hope to achieve a just and comprehensive peace that allows Palestinian refugees the right to return to a safe homeland, and that allows Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths (and none) to live together in peace”.

International figures came out to support the band while also raising concerns over the growing number of incidences where people were being punished for criticising Israel. “We are disturbed by attempts in Germany to impose political conditions on artists supporting Palestinian human rights,” the open letter said. Ruhrtriennale’s decision to cancel the band was denounced as a “particularly alarming form of censorship, ‘blacklisting’ and repression”.

After declaring their opposition to all forms of racism and discrimination they said:

Conflating nonviolent measures to end Israel’s illegal occupation and human rights violations with anti-Jewish racism is false and dangerous. It denies Palestinians their right to peaceful protest and undermines the struggle against antisemitism.

The letter stated that the individuals supporting band held “diverse views on BDS” but they were “united in considering it a lawful exercise of freedom of expression”.

In backing the BDS campaign they concluded: “Boycotts that are anchored in universal human rights and aimed at achieving justice for marginalised and oppressed communities are a legitimate nonviolent tactic. They have been used worldwide, including against apartheid in South Africa and the Jim Crow segregation laws in the US.”

(Source / 27.06.2018)

Hewlett Packard (HP) Faces $120 Million in Potential Losses Due to its Complicity in Israel’s Violations of Palestinian Human Rights

Hewlett Packard (HP) faces over $120 million in potential losses since India’s largest student federation passed a resolution to support the BDS movement and to boycott Hewlett Packard (HP) companies over their well-documented complicity in Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian human rights.

Apoorva Gautam, the India-based South Asia coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, which leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, explained:

The Students Federation of India (SFI) is more than 4 million members strong, and on June 9, they joined the global campaign to boycott HP. This means that Hewlett Packard companies now risk losing over 4 million potential clients in India because of their complicity in Israel’s gross violations of Palestinian human rights.

Given that the cheapest HP laptop in India costs about $300, this means that HP may be losing a potential student market of over $120 million. This is enormously significant.

What Palestinians and Indian students are showing is that companies seeking to profit from Israel’s military occupation and discriminatory regime face growing popular opposition and risk a serious hit to both their reputations and pocket-books.

HP has provided technology and services that support Israel’s military occupation and racial discrimination policies, including its devastating siege suffocating nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, and illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

Today, HP-branded companies provide the Israeli government with the servers that house its notorious population registry, a key component in the apparatus of apartheid. Records also indicate that HP-branded companies are still responsible for selling computers to the Israeli military. As such, HP products and services enable racial segregation and denial of basic rights.

In its resolution to boycott HP, the Students Federation of India (SFI) condemned Israel’s recent violence against unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, where Israel killed at least 121 Palestinians and injured more than 13,000 in just the last two months. It also criticized the current right-wing government in India for its “close security and military ties with Israel” and for having become “the largest arms buyer from Israel.”

Vikram Singh, the federation’s General Secretary, promised that the campaign to boycott HP in India would grow:

Our federation will spread the BDS movement and the HP boycott campaign in college and university campuses across India. We will work to convince university administrations to adopt procurement policies that prohibit doing business with HP companies until they prove that they are no longer complicit in Israel’s egregious violations of Palestinian human rights. Until then, this boycott will continue and will grow even stronger.

Abdulrahman Abunahel, a Gaza-based community organizer and coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) welcomed the resolution:

Palestinian students and youth movements deeply appreciate the solidarity expressed by our counterparts in the Students Federation of India. As a young Palestinian in Gaza, I know first hand how difficult it is to study, and to simply live, under decades of Israel’s brutal military rule and devastating siege. And I’m heartened by this important gesture of support from India, which reaffirms that where governments fail, people have the the power to act and make a difference.

In the past few years, US church denominations such as the US Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ have divested from HP. Friends Fiduciary Corporation, the socially responsible investment firm serving over three hundred Quaker institutions in the United States, divested from HP in 2012. Most recently, the Dublin City Council joined the BDS movement and called for ending ties with HP because of the company’s complicity in Israeli apartheid.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

(Source / 14.06.2018)

BDS calls for boycott of Israel’s ‘racist propaganda’ Netflix series

Fauda, an Israeli thriller show

The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is leading a campaign against the hit Israeli series, “Fauda”. Denouncing the widely acclaimed series as “racist propaganda for the Israeli occupation army”, BDS called on Netflix, which bought the rights to “Fauda”, to remove the show or face legal action.

In its statement announcing the campaign to boycott “Fauda”, BDS claims that the series serves as propaganda for Israel’s political and security establishment. It notes that the “Fauda” cast, including the production team, were hosted by the Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, last month along with Israeli soldiers. The crew expressed gratitude to the Israeli soldiers and were described as a “source of inspiration” for the series while Rivlin expressed “gratitude” to the series’ producers.

Read: Fauda brings Israel’s ‘shoots and cries’ genre to the Netflix generation

Explaining the reasons for calling for the boycott, BDS said that “Fauda” celebrates secret Israeli military units which are known to have carried out numerous assassinations and extrajudicial executions, murder and the brutal arrest of unarmed demonstrators, including children. Yamas, for example, which is the Israeli border police unit, is accused of violating the sanctity of universities and hospitals, which constitute crimes of war under international humanitarian law, BDS campaigners have said.

“The celebration by the Israeli political and security establishment by Fauda,” stress the BDS group “reveals the contribution made by the series to Israeli propaganda efforts in concealing Israeli crimes, including ethnic cleansing, particularly in Jerusalem, the Negev and the Jordan Valley, the demolition of houses and the bulldozing of agricultural land and the siege of two million Palestinians in Gaza and the establishment of colonies.”

(Source / 29.03.2018)