Rashida Tlaib denounces US’ anti-BDS bill ‘unconstitutional’

Rashida Tlaib, Palestinian-American Congresswoman

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib took a swipe at American lawmakers who are seeking to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, in a tweet denouncing the move as “unconstitutional”.

Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, made the trenchant remarks on Twitter while sharing an article concerning an Israeli park in the Galilee that has introduced measures which critics and human rights group say is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa. A non-Jewish lawyer and her infant were barred from entering the public park last week triggering a legal battle over whether local authorities in Israel can segregate citizens on the basis of race.

The incident, which had many similarities with a public swimming pool in southern Israel that introduced “separate hours” for Jewish and Palestinian citizens, sparked a strong reaction. Human rights groups warned that the ban marked a growing trend in discriminatory policies within Israel and a clear attempt by the Jewish majority to explicitly separate public space on racial basis.

READ: Israel seeks banning BDS in Europe

Bringing the Galilee incident to the attention of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is pushing through the anti-BDS bill, Tlaib said: “@HouseForeign wants to move forward w/ #HR246 #AntiBDS bill to silence opposition of Israel’s blatantly racist policies ⬇️ that demonize both Palestinians & Ethiopians”.

Rashida Tlaib @RashidaTlaib  

⬇️

.@HouseForeign wants to move forward w/ #HR246 #AntiBDS bill to silence opposition of Israel’s blatantly racist policies that demonize both Palestinians & Ethiopians.

Our 1st Amd. right to free speech allows boycott of inhumane policies. This bill is unconstitutional. https://twitter.com/theIMEU/status/1148758769914060800 …The IMEU@theIMEU 

In a blatant act of discrimination, Israeli guards refused to allow a Palestinian mother and child to enter a public park in the city of Afula. This explicit separation of public spaces is yet another indication of Israel’s deepening apartheid policies. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/entry-ban-israeli-city-park-provokes-apartheid-warnings …

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1,49421:07 – 10 Jul 2019Twitter Ads information and privacy

Tlaib criticised the bill brought forward by Republican representatives saying: “Our 1st Amd. right to free speech allows boycott of inhumane policies. This bill is unconstitutional.”

READ: Why is the rise of BDS worldwide worrying Israel?

The Combating BDS Act, as it is known, encourages states and local governments to pass laws prohibiting government contacts with anyone who does not sign what critics say is a McCarthyite loyalty oath pledging not to boycott for Palestinian rights. The bill has the strong backing of the most powerful anti-Palestinian lobby group in the US, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

While uncontroversial parts of Bill HR246 passed uncontested, the anti-BDS section has faced stiff challenges. Judges in Texas, Arizona and Kansas have ruled these laws to be violations of the First Amendment and the American Civil Liberties Union called the bill “unconstitutional”.

Given the strong support Israel enjoys in Washington it’s possible that the anti-BDS bill will eventually pass despite claims that it is unconstitutional. Israel, with the backing of anti-Palestinian lawmakers in the US, has been running a long battle to extinguish any movement resembling the anti-apartheid campaign that brought down the reign of white South Africa.

(Source / 12.07.2019) 

Israel seeks banning BDS in Europe

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 [THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images]

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.

READ: Ex-Israel intel officers justify Mossad role against BDS

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.

READ: Germany festival bars US rapper for refusing to condemn BDS

(Source / 15.06.2019) 

Ex-Israel intel officers justify Mossad role against BDS

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 March 30, 2018 [Palestinian Forum in Britain]

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.

READ: Israel forced closure of 30 BDS fundraising accounts

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.”

READ: Israel’s anti-BDS tactics mirror White South Africa’s defence of apartheid

(Source / 13.06.2019) 

Another Company Withdraws From Israeli Light Rail Project

25 May 3:50 AM

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.

(Source / 25.05.2019)

Afraid of #BoycottIsrael movement, Israel supports anti-BDS organisations with 5mn shekels

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

(Source / 19.05.2019) 

Israeli Apartheid Week: An Even Bigger Success in 2019

11 MAY6:04 AM

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.


IAW event in Malaysia

Stay tuned for updates and let’s get ready for an even bigger IAW in 2020!

(Source / 11.05.2019) 

The Eurovision boycott row confirms it: Palestinian lives don’t matter

It feels like there is no acceptable way for Palestinians to protest against oppression

By Arwa Mahdawi

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!

(Source / 09.05.2019)

Palestine artists in Gaza urge Eurovision boycott

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators boycott the presentation of the Spanish candidate to Eurovision, Miki Nunez leaving for Eurovision 2019 on 8 May 2019 in Madrid, Spain. [Eduardo Parra/Getty Images]

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”.

READ: Israel’s Eurovision flop

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.

(Source / 09.05.2019)

International Campaign To Boycott Puma Company, The Israeli Union Sponsor

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.

(Source / 21.04.2019) 

Green Left becomes first major Dutch party to back Israel boycott

People gather at Dam Square holding flags and banners during a demonstration organized by "Palestinian House in Netherlands" Foundation, in support of Palestinian people, on December 30, 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The 'Return Key' monument, represents returning of Palestinians to their lands, was on display during the demonstration. ( Abdullah Aşıran - Anadolu Agency )

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”.

READ: Israel’s anti-BDS strategy simply peddles more myths and lies

(Source / 27.02.2019)