Boycott israHell!

Boycott israHell!
Бойкот на израел и печелещите от окупацията! Boycott israHell and those who profit from occupation!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TOMORROW: UCL Friends of Palestine presents - 'Same Land, Different Rights: Palestinian Citizens in Israel' - Orna Kohn, Senior Attorney at Adalah, in

Come to UCL tomorrow to hear from an interesting an neglected perspective: Israel's Palestinian minority. Details below.

ISM London

----- Forwarded message from Ben White

From: Ben White
Subject: UCL Friends of Palestine presents - 'Same Land, Different Rights:
Palestinian Citizens in Israel' - Orna Kohn, Senior Attorney at Adalah, in conversation with Ben White

If possible, please publicise this event and circulate on your lists.
Thanks! Ben

***** Same Land, Different Rights: Palestinian Citizens in Israel *****

UCL Friends of Palestine has the privilege of presenting:
ORNA KOHN, Senior Attorney at Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority
Rights, in conversation with
Ben WHITE, Freelance Journalist and Author of Israeli Apartheid: A
Beginner's Guide

Thursday 26th November
Biochemistry Lecture Theatre
Darwin Building
Gower Street

While the official 'peace process' focuses on negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the Occupied Territories, inside Israel itself around 20 percent of the population is Palestinian. These citizens of Israel have struggled for over 60 years against systemic discrimination in relation to issues such as land, labour, and civil rights. Adalah is at the forefront of challenging this structural inequality, and this event is a unique opportunity to hear about the issues facing Palestinians inside Israel from a specialist attorney and human rights campaigner. Orna Kohn will discuss the institutionalised discrimination against Palestinians citizens of Israel, and the work of Adalah challenging these policies.

Adalah ('Justice' in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center. Adalah works to protect and defend the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian residents of the Occupied PalestinianTerritories (OPT). [1]

Facebook event is here:


Ben White
Freelance journalist, writer
Tel: +44 (0) 7827926175
Email: [3]
Website: [4]


Visible links

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Together we can make this next voyage happen

Together we can make this next voyage happen, not only for the people in Gaza, not only for Palestine, but for the principle that the power of the people can defeat even the most powerful militaries in the world.

Huwaida Arraf, Chair, Free Gaza Movement

Dear Supporters

On November 7 and 8, The Free Gaza interim board of directors met in London to plan our strategy for 2010 as well as to schedule the next mission to Gaza.

The situation in Gaza is as bad today as it was the day the bombs stopped falling in January. The Gaza Strip is still sealed; homes, businesses, hospitals, schools and mosques still lie in rubble; and fundamental supplies are in severe shortage, as Israel continues to restrict the entry of basic goods such as fuel, medical equipment, oxygen, baby formula, paper, books, and construction material.

We are determined not to let Israel’s violence halt our efforts to break the siege on Gaza, and even more determined to open a sea route so the people of Gaza can import the supplies they need to rebuild their lives.

However, Israel’s use of force to stop our last 3 voyages has made it imperative to revise our strategy. Instead of sending one vessel to Gaza, we are working on a flotilla, or mini fleet with more boats, including at least one cargo ship, more people, more supplies, and more media on the high seas. And around the world, tens of thousands of people engaged in the mission. Our intention is to build a truly international fleet that will reach Gaza, or, if stopped, be politically costly for Israel.

Over the past six months, we have been to various countries meeting with political figures, unions, Palestine solidarity activists, and other groups and NGOs. To make this next mission to Gaza successful we need to continue to:

(1) Raise money to purchase boats

(2) Secure members of parliament and other high profile people to come

(3) Obtain letters of support from governments and/or parliaments

(4) Get resolutions passed in parliaments in support of our efforts

(5) Mobilize various civil society groups for action in their home countries

We have tentative commitments from over a dozen members of parliament from around the world. From MPs who are not able to come with us, we have written and vocal support. We now have Free Gaza branches / coordinators in over 20 countries and are still growing. We have made initial visits to Latin America, India and South Africa and have enthusiastic support in all of these countries.

In addition, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed established a Free Gaza fund and secured the money for us to obtain a cargo ship. On this cargo ship, we will take construction supplies to Gaza. We had wanted to travel in October / November so that at least some people in Gaza could start rebuilding their homes before the cold weather hit. Unfortunately we could not meet this deadline.

We have the funds for one cargo ship, and one passenger vessel. However, we need at least one more passenger vessel plus the operating expenses before we can go. In financial terms, we need about €300,000, or someone to donate a passenger vessel and €100,000 in operating expenses (fuel, port fees, crew wages, etc.)

We thought we could go, if not in October / November, then in early January, to coincide with the planned Viva Palestina convoy and the Gaza Freedom March* both initiatives the Free Gaza Movement supports.

However, it is now end-November, and we are still €300,000 short of the funds, it is not realistic that we can be ready to sail by early January.

The efforts of the Free Gaza Movement are vitally important; we need to end the blockade, not just deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. While many potential funders recognize the significance of our work, for various reasons they have not come through with funding. Most prefer their financial contributions go toward to humanitarian aid for Palestine. But Palestine is not a charity case! There are hundreds of millions being pumped into Palestine by aid agencies that are unable or unwilling to address the political issues, or by donor countries that shirk their political, legal, and moral obligations, by throwing money at Palestine.

This aid is paying for Israel’s occupation by alleviating Israel of the responsibility to care for the people it occupies. We firmly believe that activists and people who care about Palestine should not be raising money for humanitarian aid but should focus on direct action to confront the Israeli policies that leave Palestinians in need of this aid.

If you believe as we do that our efforts are important, please help us raise the remaining funds we need to launch an international flotilla to Gaza by early February 2010. Please:

(1) Make a personal contribution by going to and donating through our website at

(2) Contact people you know who might be able to help us and either ask directly for a donation or make an introduction for us to speak

(3) Organize a private fundraiser for Free Gaza and ask for one of our speakers at

(4) Speak at potential fundraisers that we organize

If you have any other suggestions, please email us at

•Note: we will have a Free Gaza delegation at the Gaza Freedom March. If you are considering joining the Gaza Freedom March, please contact Dina at so we can connect you to other FG Movement representatives

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New poll: 53% of Israelis think ethnic cleansing is the solution to the conflict

(URUKNET) -- Israelis talk often and loudly about their desires for peace. But its never been clear precisely what peace concept it is they desire. In particular, Israeli notions of peace have never gone so far as to grant the Palestinians the same national rights that Israelis claim for themselves. Well, according to a new poll by Israeli National News (disclaimer: its a right-wing rag, sample size "more than 6,400″), a majority of Israelis are clear about what kind of "peace" they desire.
53.2% of surveyed Israelis say the "solution" to the conflict was the ethnic cleansing ("transfer") of Palestinians out of occupied Palestine and into other neighboring Arab countries. This was the most popular option among all alternatives, including the two state solution, Jordanian citizenship in the West Bank, status quo, etc. For comparative purposes, only 30.8% of Israelis support the "two-states for two peoples" framework for peace.

Keep this information in mind next to you hear Israeli hasbara about "partners for peace" or when someone tries to claim that the two-state solution is the only "realistic" solution to the conflict. If only those Palestinians would "recognize Israel’s right to exist", then everything would be SO much better

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Palestinian Refugees Right to Return - Al-Awda Bulletin

Posted by Zahi Damuni

As Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and many community activists and organizations have been working hard, with your help, to support resettled Palestinian refugee families coming from Al-Waleed camp in Iraq across the US, we have found one common request -- a desire to be able to communicate with other refugee families and those left behind in the camps.
A resettled family often has little information about where other families are located, and they themselves are not informed of where they are going to be resettled far enough in advance to inform their relatives. They often feel isolated and helpless as a result. Computers are the main and typically the only way for enabling live contact between the families, and the internet provides an affordable means of constant communication. Therefore we are requesting your help in linking the families through donations of either new or used computers in good working condition..

We are looking for functioning computers that are capable of running basic instant messaging programs such as Yahoo or AOL Instant Messenger and Skype. A camera is a plus but not necessary. If you have a laptop, netbook, or desktop computer in good working condition that you would like to donate please send an email to:

You may also consider making a small financial contribution towards the purchase of a computer by going to and follow the instructions. Just be sure to indicate "computers for refugees" with your electronic submission or on the memo line of your check or money order. Any size donation is truly appreciated.

You can also purchase a new or refurbished netbook on our wishlist for under $300 at:

Again any and all donations are appreciated, especially as we are approaching the first Eid the families will be spending in the US.

Thank you for your generous support!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Palestinian students at Israeli universities support academic boycott

Open letter, Abnaa el-Balad, Iqraa Student Association, National Democratic Assembly, 11 November 2009

The following open letter to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim was issued on 9 November 2009 by Arab students at Israeli universities. The university's board is due to consider a measure supporting the academic boycott of Israel:

We are Arab students at the Israeli universities writing to you in support of the proposed academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We believe that the boycott is timely and hopefully will help in upholding moral values of fairness, justice and equality which have been sorely missed in our region.

While the reason for the boycott is rightly what has been going on in the 1967 occupied territories [West Bank and Gaza Strip], we propose another angle which affirms the need for boycott, namely our daily experience as Arabs in Israeli institutions. We are the lucky ones who have been able to pursue our studies in institutions of higher education, to which we arrived against great odds. Only very few among our generation have been qualified to attend universities due to the state's discriminatory policies. Our schools mostly lack the basic facilities needed for education, and the curriculum is structured to serve the state's goal in socializing the pupils for self-estrangement. It contains very little, if any at all, on our history and culture. Additionally, it aims to erase our historical memory and promote the official policy line of divide and rule. In short, it is modeled on curriculums that dark regimes, like apartheid South Africa, have used to indoctrinate rather than educate. We arrive to universities with this "educational" baggage.

The idea that Israeli universities adhere to the values of free academic institutions, where academic freedom, objectivity and meritocracy prevail, is widely accepted in the West. From our experience we attest -- and indeed prove beyond doubt -- that this is not the case. In recent years Israeli universities have changed the criteria of acceptance to various faculties in order -- as a certain president of an Israeli university put it -- to prevent large number of undesirable (i.e. Arab) students from attending prestigious faculties such as medicine and natural sciences. Moreover, lecturers who presented findings which are at odds with the official ideology -- such as Ilan Pappe and Neve Gordon -- are bullied and harassed or forced to resign. Meanwhile raw racist statements by many lecturers are considered by the administrations of the universities as benign or even objective statements. For example, recently Dr. Dan Scheuftan stated in one of his lectures: "The Arabs are the biggest failure in the history of the human race ... there's nothing under the sun that's more screwed up than the Palestinians;" "Throughout the Arab world, people fire guns at weddings in order to prove that they have at least one thing that's hard and in working order that can shoot."

It goes without saying that none of these lecturers has ever been disciplined. Moreover, foreign students are warned by the security authorities of Haifa University not to visit Arab villages or towns.

Although some Israeli universities -- such as the University of Haifa -- pride themselves on promoting "co-existence," nothing is further from the truth than this. We are prevented from forming our [own] (i.e. Arab) students union, and racial discrimination against us -- under the pretext of not serving in the army -- is widely practiced in the granting of scholarships, as well as in the provision of housing at the universities' residential halls. This is particularly grave as the universities are located in Jewish towns, and Arab students face many obstacles and hardships in finding appropriate housing due to prevailing prejudices and anti-Arab sentiments in Israeli society.

Yet, the restrictions imposed on our freedom of expression are more stifling. We are not allowed to express our collective sentiments or ideas publicly. It is quite often that our public gatherings are not only violently interrupted by extreme right-wing Jewish students, but also in various occasions the universities called on the police to intervene. In several occasions, as during our peaceful demonstration at Haifa University against the war on Gaza, the police sent in large number of its special units which are infamous for their brutality. Needless to say that they do the job they are trained for. Moreover, the universities collaborate with the internal security services (the feared Shin Bet) and provide them with names of the activists among the students who are regularly summoned, investigated and threatened.

In the end, we are hopeful that you will take a decision which reaffirms the true meaning of human values, and provide a proof that racism, religious tribalism, obfuscation and disregard for human dignity are no longer tolerated.


Abnaa el-Balad - The Student Movement
Iqraa Student Association - Islamic Movement
National Democratic Assembly (NDA) - The Student Movement

Resisting through education

Marryam Haleem writing from Beit Hanoun, occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 16 November 2009

"The day I graduated from university was the best day of my life," says Ahmed from Beit Hanoun. (Marryam Haleem)
"That was the happiest day of my life," Ahmad explained, "I was freed that day."

"Come on," I laughed as we walked down the dusty Gaza street, the Mediterranean sun beating down hard on our faces. "It couldn't have been that bad. I mean, we all dislike school to some degree, but it has its nice things too."

His grave eyes looked wholly unconvinced. "The day I graduated from university was the best day of my life," he firmly repeated. And then he added, more to himself than to me, "I wish I could erase all my memories of my time in school."

Ahmad's first day of school was in 1991 during the first Palestinian intifada. Then six years old and living in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, Ahmad was a good student who enjoyed school. He worked hard and was always the first in his year. After the Oslo accords were signed in 1993 and the Palestinian Authority was created, one could say that life in Gaza was approaching a degree of normalcy. And upon finishing middle school in 2000, as a reward for his scholastic achievement, Ahmad received the gift of a lifetime. He, along with 19 other students from Gaza, was selected by the Ministry of Education to join a Seeds of Peace summer camp in the US.

He had a wonderful time in America. What an adventure for the 14-year-old boy! He improved his English. He made new friends. He experienced a new and different world in the beautiful state of Maine -- one that was open, free and full of opportunity. He returned to Gaza after this month-long excursion full of hope.

But the second intifada irrupted only two months after he returned home from the US, at the start of his first year of high school. Israel's brutal attempt to crush the intifada was felt throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza. "There was no space," Ahmad explained, describing how the Israeli offensive affected every aspect of personal life for the Palestinian individual. Student life was only one such casualty.

It became dangerous to go to school. It became impossible to have a normal education. In his three years of high school, Ahmad's school was shelled by Israeli tanks six times, twice while students were inside.

"Each day we would have demonstrations against the attacks in Gaza and the West Bank because we had so many martyrs ... No school. Just demonstrations ... You had to go and demonstrate against the horrible attacks against these children and kids everywhere."

Still, despite all the madness, the students clung as much as they could to their vocation. They would loyally go to school, as much as circumstance allowed. But even this effort was frequently quashed. Too often the students would trek to school only to find it closed. They would ask the reasons for the closures. The answers became the soul-grating refrain of their lives.


Because Israeli tanks are getting close to the school and there is no school today.


Because people in our city have been martyred and there are demonstrations so there will be no school today.


Because the tanks have closed off Beit Hanoun and the teachers cannot come from outside. So we'll have no school today.

It was in this environment that Ahmad and his classmates (the ones who were not killed) came to their third and final year of high school in 2003. It is during this final year that students take their tawjihi exam which determines their entire future studies and career.

"Tawjihi," Ahmad aptly described, "is like a stage between life."

Tawjihi year began normal enough -- for a Palestinian in Gaza, that is. Normal attacks. Normal shootings. Normal curfews. But the last two months before the exams began the Israeli army laid siege on Beit Hanoun. No one could enter. No one could leave. Everyday there were attacks and explosions. Everyday there were injuries and martyrs.

"We didn't study, actually," said Ahmad, "Nothing. You cannot study [when] people are dying," he explained.

Yet their exams were approaching. The first day of examination was 9 June 2003 -- and the Israeli army was still in Beit Hanoun.

"What do we do?" said Ahmad. "We need to take our exams. So we decided to go to school even though the Israeli tanks were at the doors outside the school."

So they went. Despite the fact that they hadn't prepared at all due to the siege and the killings. Examinations went on for a month. Every day the students went. And every day the Israeli tanks were at the doors of the school.

It was the worst month, Ahmad said. All your time in high school you wait to prepare and do well on these final examinations, only, in the last moments, to be prevented from studying because your city is under attack.

The soldiers left after 67 days of siege. And then their exam results came in.

"I passed," said Ahmad, "my average was 83.5. So very good."

Yet, at the same time, he added, "You don't know what is going on. You just go and study for a life you've been dreaming about. But then you find you can't have it because of obstacles put up by enemies. And these are horrible obstacles. They're not just any kind of obstacles that anyone could pass.

"It's war everywhere. And people are dying everywhere. And you just don't know. Maybe it's your turn. I mean, we believe in God, and we know everyone is going to die. But when it goes on so continuously, every day there is attacks, you just keep worrying about it. So the feeling was, what should I be doing? Should I go fight and resist? Should I go study as a way to resist, as a better way of resistance? Should I just stay afraid, doing nothing, with my family?"

"I started to believe that maybe the power from my education in the future will be greater than the power of a stone against a tank. I asked myself a million times, if I should do the same [and take up throwing stones at the Israeli tanks like some of the Palestinian youth]. Even if it was a little thing.

"Some people say it's stupid, a stone against a tank. But it's their will and determination [that counts]. It comes from deep inside. That you are not afraid from anything, whatever it may be. You just want to fight, resist, for your rights. Even if it takes your life, takes everything; I believe that it's my right and I have to do it."

That is one way to resist. But Ahmad decided to resist through his education.

"I had to take care of my family. Reach what my parents wanted of me. They wanted us to be educated, get a good life, good jobs, have a good place in the community. They wanted us to help them and help people. So that was the final, or not the final, but a decision that I made.

"You are feeling many things, but you have to go on, to keep going. The only way is to just keep fighting, through your education, and your dreams, and your beliefs. That was the feeling.

"But I never felt like I have to give up. I didn't find a way that told me, you just need to give up now. And every time a bad thing happened, or a disaster happened, it gave me more power to continue.

"Because this life became normal for us -- an abnormal life for other people became the normal for us. So we had to figure out another way of life for us. It's our reality. We had to face reality, however it was. So it helped us to figure out that life, in spite of all this.

"And all the challenges that we are facing, and all the power that is fighting and destroying everything here in Gaza, we still need to keep going. It's not going to stop us. Because if we stop, it wont help us. [The Israelis] will keep going. Whether or not we stop, they will try to get what they want. So why give them more opportunities to get what they want? We need also to continue."

He paused at the end of this grand soliloquy. "How difficult it was," he said softly.

But the difficulty continued as he moved on to get his bachelor of arts in information technology at a university in Gaza.

"I faced troubles when I was in high school because of the intifada but they increased at university," Ahmad explained. "Beit Hanoun is the most violent area in Gaza Strip because it is very close to the [Israeli] border so there were usually attacks. Every day we had events. People killed. People injured. Homes destroyed. Lands demolished. My father's farm was bulldozed four or five times. Most of my relatives' homes were targeted.

"Most of the semesters I couldn't attend many lectures because of the usual attacks on my city. There were weekly attacks, sometimes daily attacks so I could not leave home; it was not safe to leave. And I'd also have to stay home when there were other attacks around the city, or around the university."

Many times he wasn't even able to attend final exams.

"I'd just keep studying throughout the semester and when it was exam time, attacks would happen in Beit Hanoun and friends and relatives were killed, [so I'd miss the exams]. I was supposed to graduate in 2008, but I graduated in 2009, one year late because of these attacks. Attacks which have never stopped. Even now. Especially in my city."

Ahmad was finally set to graduate in December 2008, but once again larger events intervened.

"The end of December turned out to be the beginning of a war, not the beginning of final exams. It was a big, I don't know how to describe it," he said. "It was like, 'here is a gift for graduation: You won't graduate. Just keep waiting for death.'"

His month of exams was exchanged for a month of terror.

"It was 23 days," he said, "but you can say 23 weeks. Twenty-three months. Twenty-three years. Twenty-three centuries. It never ends. You keep waiting, moment by moment. And you know nothing. You can only feel the darkness. There is no light, for any kind of hope, or safety, or human rights, or whatever. Just 23 days full of darkness. Full of horror. Full of victims. Massacres. Everything bad. I cannot find words to describe it."

But those days did pass. And he found enough strength to pick himself up out of the rubble and finish the mission he began. He graduated, at last, this past spring. But not without sacrifice and loss that no one should ever have to endure.

"These five years in university, I said and will keep saying forever," Ahmad concluded, "these five years were the most horrible years of my life. Even though they're supposed to be the best years, the nice years. The time to go out and discover life. But it wasn't discovering life. It was discovering disasters, actually, here in Gaza."

Marryam Haleem is a senior at the University of Wisconsin studying philosophy and comparative literature and spent this summer in Gaza doing research for her senior thesis.

Right-wing groups creating climate of fear at Israeli universities

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 16 November 2009

Right-wing groups in Israel want to create a climate of fear among left-wing scholars at Israeli universities by emulating the "witch-hunt" tactics of the US academic monitoring group Campus Watch, Israeli professors warn.

The watchdog groups IsraCampus and Israel Academia Monitor are believed to be stepping up their campaigns after the recent publication in a US newspaper of an Israeli professor's call to boycott Israel.

Both groups have been alerting the universities' external donors, mostly US Jews, to what they describe as "subversive" professors as a way to bring pressure to bear on university administrations to sanction faculty staff who are critical of Israeli policies.

"I have no hesitation in calling this a McCarthyite campaign," said David Newman, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University, in Israel's southern city of Beersheva. "What they are doing is very dangerous."

Last month, in what appeared to be a new tactic, IsraCampus placed a full-page advertisement in an official diary issued to students at Haifa University, urging them to visit its website to see a "rogues' gallery" of 100 Israeli scholars the group deems an "academic fifth column."

"The goal is to transform our students into spies in the classroom to gather information and intimidate us," a senior Israeli lecturer said. "It's a model of 'policing' faculty staff that has been very successful in stifling academic freedom in the US."

Both Israel Academia Monitor, established in 2004, and the later IsraCampus, model themselves on Campus Watch, a US organization founded by Daniel Pipes, an academic closely identified with the US neoconservative movement.

Campus Watch has been widely accused of intimidating US scholars who have expressed views critical of US and Israeli policies in the Middle East. The organization's goal, according to critics, is to pressure US universities to avoid hiring left-wing lecturers or awarding them tenure.

The advertisement placed by IsraCampus, and seen by Haifa University students as they returned from their summer break, warned that a number of their professors "openly support terrorist attacks against Jews, initiate an international boycott of Israel, exploit their status in the classroom for anti-Israeli incitement and anti-Zionist brainwashing, collaborate with known anti-Semites ... who publicly call for Israel's destruction."

Publication of the advert was supported by the head of Haifa's student union, Felix Koritney: "Students who study here need to know who their lecturers are, and if there are lecturers who oppose the state of Israel it is important to publish their names."

In a statement, Haifa University officials also defended the advertisement -- after receiving a complaint from a student who called the advertisement incitement -- justifying it on the grounds of "freedom of speech."

IsraCampus is associated with Steven Plaut, an economics professor at Haifa University, who was reported to have paid for the advertisement. On the group's site and on his personal blog, Plaut has lambasted many Israeli left-wing academics.

IsraCampus and Israel Academia Monitor have targeted professors for criticizing the occupation, joining protests against Israel's wall in the West Bank, signing petitions or attending conferences critical of Israel, defending the UN report of Judge Richard Goldstone on last winter's attack on Gaza, or calling for a boycott of Israel.

Both groups have focused their efforts on the staff at Ben Gurion and Haifa universities, two regional campuses that have attracted more outspoken dissidents.

Ilan Pappe, a former history professor at Haifa University and the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, admitted he abandoned his academic career in Israel and relocated to the UK after a campaign of vilification.

But, according to Newman, Ben Gurion University had become the groups' "public enemy No 1" after publication by Neve Gordon, a colleague of Newman, of an article in the Los Angeles Times calling for a boycott of Israel.

Despite having tenure, observers say, Gordon has come under increasing pressure from the university to resign his position as chair of the university's politics department over his published views.

Rivka Carmi, president of Ben Gurion University, issued a statement shortly after Gordon's article was printed, condemning his opinions as "morally repugnant" and warning that he was "welcome to search for a personal and professional home elsewhere."

Dana Barnett, founder of Israel Academia Monitor, has launched a petition demanding that Gordon be sacked from his position as chair, that his courses be treated as elective rather than compulsory for his students, and that he be denied travel and research funding.

Newman said decisions about hiring and retaining staff at Ben Gurion were still being taken on academic grounds but that the monitoring groups were seeking to change that by calling for donor boycotts of universities seen to be harboring anti-Zionist professors.

Yaakov Dayan, the Israeli consul in Los Angeles, sent a letter to Ben Gurion University after publication of Mr Gordon's article, warning that private benefactors "were unanimous in threatening to withhold their donations to your institution."

Although the universities are chiefly backed by government money, external donations account for about five percent of their funding. With universities struggling with large debts, donations can be seen as leverage over the universities.

Newman said the monitoring groups hoped to redirect donations to right-wing academic institutions and think tanks, such as the Shalem Centre in Jerusalem, whose founding president is the US neoconservative scholar Martin Kramer, and Ariel College, located in a West Bank settlement near Nablus.

On his website, Plaut credited IsraCampus with forcing Tel Aviv University last week to investigate claims by one of its professors, Nira Hativa, that some right-wing students were afraid to speak out in class because of fears that they would be penalized by their lecturers.

Under questioning from the Haaretz newspaper, Hativa admitted that her allegations were based only on "intuition and personal impressions."

Both IsraCampus and Israel Academia Monitor have been incensed by the support offered to Gordon's call for a boycott of Israel by a small number of Israeli academics.

One such professor, Anat Matar, who teaches philosophy at Tel Aviv University, said the atmosphere both within the universities and more widely in Israeli society was changing rapidly and becoming increasingly "intolerant" of dissent. "We've become a little more fascistic as a society," she said.

Plaut has been at the centre of a libel battle with Gordon since 2002 after he called him a "Judenrat wannabe" -- a reference to Jewish collaborators with the Nazis.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

A glimmer of hope

Ziyaad Lunat and Max Ajl

Next month the Gaza Freedom March will travel to Gaza on the anniversary of the Israeli assault in solidarity with Palestinians in the territory. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

The Obama Administration proved twice recently that it intends to continue to consider Israel above the law. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton caused consternation amongst the US's allies in the Palestinian Authority and across the region by declaring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intention to "restrict" settlement activity in the West Bank "unprecedented." Netanyahu's restriction restricts very little. Three thousand housing units that are already approved will be built. Netanyahu announced plans for building a new settlement in Jerusalem, Ma'aleh David, while settlers continue their violent assault against Palestinians, intending to expel them from the city. Last week, settlers invaded a Palestinian house, backed by a court order. The US responded with a statement calling Israel's moves "unhelpful," but did nothing to stop them.

If Obama's first message to the Palestinians as elected president went to those living in the occupied West Bank -- as president-elect he was quiet during Israel's winter invasion of Gaza -- the second was to the families of the thousands of victims of that three-week attack. Last week the US voted against a UN General Assembly resolution to endorse the findings of the Goldstone report, which calls for Israel and Hamas to investigate allegations of war crimes. Hamas accepted the report. Israel, which killed 1,417 Palestinians, 926 of them civilians, including 437 children, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, did not. The US consented to Israel's disapproval and initiated a campaign in the UN to discredit the report. The facts in the report remained unchallenged.

The US House of Representatives condemned the report as "one-sided and distorted." In a letter to the sponsors of the resolution, Judge Goldstone pointed out gross "inaccuracies" in the resolution. It is probable that most of those who voted for the resolution, sponsored by the powerful lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), did not read the 575-page report. What's called "support for Israel" in Congress has achieved the status of a sacred cow. Dissent comes only at significant political cost, and inevitable smear campaigns by the pro-Israel lobby. Notwithstanding these facts, 36 representatives opposed the resolution, and 22 abstained, signs that the lobby's control of Congress may be cracking slightly. In contrast, the House was almost unanimous in its support of the Israeli offensive in January.

The US has a long history of vetoes to protect Israel from accountability. During the Nixon presidency, in 1972, the US first used its veto power in the Security Council to protect Israel. This was its second veto overall, preventing the passing of a resolution that would have condemned Israel for the killing of hundreds of civilians in air raids against Syria and Lebanon. The US has since used its veto power more than 40 times to give Israel a free hand to commit atrocities against Palestinians and the region's peoples.

Bush Administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, defending the US's refusal to support a cease-fire during the 2006 assaults on Lebanon and Gaza, said that "It is time for a new Middle East, it is time to say to those who do not want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail; they will not." The "new Middle East" that Rice was referring to is one where Israel can continue to occupy the land of millions, kill thousands and kidnap hundreds, all the while running roughshod over human rights and international law.

Susan Rice, the Obama Administration ambassador to the UN, is scarcely distinguishable from the other top diplomat sharing her last name. She said in an interview with The Washington Post that the Goldstone "mandate was unbalanced, one-sided and unacceptable." She justifies this statement by claiming that it was "85 percent oriented towards very specific and harsh condemnation and conclusions related to Israel."

Yet, even if Judge Goldstone had wanted to dedicate an equal number of pages to both sides, there is only so much one can write about the three Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian fighters, or of the holes punched in roofs by the home-made projectiles. The difference in power, Israel's status under international law as an occupying power, and the catastrophe that befell a besieged population that had nowhere to flee (unprecedented in modern warfare) suggest nearly indisputable grounds for substantiating the allegations of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." Moreover, all that the report asked for were credible investigations and prosecution for those found to merit it. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said that Israel arrived at a "silent understanding" with the Obama Administration that a veto will be applied if there are attempts made to put the report before the Security Council following the UN General Assembly vote.

But there is a glimmer of hope that the people of Gaza will see justice. The massacre brought about sweeping change, across the world, in perceptions of Israel. Citizen-led mobilizations in the past few months have showed that where governments have failed, ordinary citizens can, perhaps, make a difference. Even in the US, where public support for Israel has been consistently high, a discourse supporting justice for Palestinians is now voiced in mainstream media. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was met with a frigid reception in a series of lectures around the country, with audience members interrupting constantly, calling for his immediate arrest. Moreover, there are signs that opposition to AIPAC's dominance within the Jewish American community is gaining strength.

The movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005 has also gained momentum, as the Norwegian government has divested from Elbit Systems as a result of its role in the construction of the apartheid wall. Last month, an Israeli deputy prime minister was forced to cancel a trip to the UK for fear of arrest. He has since announced that he will forgo all trips to European capitals.

And while the world's most powerful governments cavil over making Israel comply with international law, their citizens do not. Some of them -- some of us -- are taking up the banner of the international nonviolent struggle, staying loyal to principles of human rights and international law, following the wishes of the Palestinian people. In December, we will march in solidarity with the Palestinians living imprisoned in Gaza. In December, the Gaza Freedom March will attempt to lift the siege of Gaza, as we commemorate the one-year anniversary of Israel's invasion. From 29-31 December, we will move through Rafah and Khan Younis and Gaza City, the length of the Strip, with a host of luminaries including Alice Walker and Walden Bello. On 31 December, we will march to the threshold of the Erez crossing. The peoples of nearly every continent will be there, in Gaza, demanding that the world take action, that the leaders of the world recognize their peoples' solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and recognize the inhumanity of the siege, and end it. Punishing a people in this way is not only illegal. It is wrong. It is time to make it stop.

Ziyaad Lunat is one of the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March ( and an activist for Palestine. He can be contacted at z.lunat A T gmail D O T com. Max Ajl is also one of the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March and blogs on the Israel-Palestine conflict at

Israeli judge rules Arabs need "protection" from justice system

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 17 November 2009

An Israeli judge made an historic ruling last week when he decided that an Arab teenager needed "protection" from the justice system and ordered that he not be convicted despite being found guilty of throwing stones at a police car during a protest against Israel's attack last winter on Gaza.

Prosecutors had demanded that the juvenile, a 17-year-old from Nazareth in northern Israel, be convicted of endangering a vehicle on the road, a charge that carries a punishment of up to 20 years' imprisonment, as a way to deter other members of Israel's Palestinian Arab minority from committing similar offenses.

But Judge Yuval Shadmi said discrimination in the Israeli legal system's treatment of Jewish and Arab minors, particularly in cases of what he called "ideologically motivated" offenses, was "common knowledge."

In the verdict, he wrote: "I will say that the state is not authorized to caress with one hand the Jewish 'ideological' felons, and flog with its other hand the Arab 'ideological' felons."

He referred in particular to the lenient treatment by the police and courts both of Jewish settler youths who have attacked soldiers in the West Bank and who violently resisted the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, and of religious extremists who have spent many months battling police to prevent the opening of a car park on the Sabbath in Jerusalem.

Abir Baker, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal group for Israel's 1.3 million-strong Arab minority, said the ruling was the first time a judge in a criminal court had acknowledged that the state pursued a policy of systematic discrimination in demanding harsher punishments for Arab citizens.

"We have known this for a long time, but it has been something very hard for us to prove to the court's satisfaction," she said. "Now we have a legal precedent that we can use to appeal against convictions in similar cases."

The youth was arrested during a protest on a road near Nazareth a few days after Israel launched its operation in Gaza last December.

Dozens of demonstrations took place in Israel during the three-week attack, leading to the arrests of 830 protesters in what human rights groups described as often brutal Israeli police action.

The overwhelming majority of those arrested, say the rights groups, were Arab citizens, despite the participation of Israeli Jews. Adalah reported that 250 protesters were subsequently indicted, almost all of them Arabs and half of them minors.

Judge Richard Goldstone, in his United Nations fact-finding report into the Gaza assault published in September, wrote that he had been "struck" by the fact that despite many counter-demonstrations by right-wing Jews that had turned violent the police appeared to have made "no arrests" in those cases.

He also noted that, according to the information he had seen, most Arab protesters had been refused bail and held in detention for lengthy periods, even in cases where they faced relatively minor charges.

Of the court system, Goldstone concluded that "the element of discrimination between ... and differential treatment of Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel by the judicial authorities, as reflected in the reports received, is a substantial cause for concern."

The ruling by the Nazareth juvenile court appeared to confirm those findings.

Shadmi wrote in his verdict that, in recent years, the Israeli authorities had been "working on two fundamentally different enforcement levels in relation to crimes perpetrated by [Israeli] minors."

He pointed out that in cases of violence by Jewish youths against the security services, legal proceedings were usually frozen or cancelled before the indictment stage. He said he had not heard of a single instance of a Jewish minor being sent to prison for such offenses, even though most Arab minors were convicted and jailed.

The judge admitted that he had nearly been swayed by prosecution demands for a lengthy jail term for the youth, who cannot be named because of his age. But ultimately, he said, he had been persuaded by the defense's argument that similar cases of "ideological violence" involving Jewish youths -- such as settler attacks on soldiers -- rarely, if ever, merited jail terms.

"If the state feels that ideological offenses justify relatively forgiving enforcement for minors, then this should be the policy towards all minors regardless of nationality or religion."

Earlier this year the justice ministry recommended that 40 Jewish settlers convicted of resisting the disengagement from Gaza be pardoned on the grounds that their acts "were prompted by an unusual historical event and that the perpetrators are not felons." According to Israeli media reports, many of the settlers arrested over the disengagement will never be brought to trial.

Shadmi ordered the Nazareth youth to refrain from committing any offense against the police for two years against a bond of $1,300. In a procedure mainly reserved for juvenile offenses, he sentenced the youth to 200 hours of community service without convicting him.

The verdict was greeted with surprise by the youth's family. The father told the Israeli media: "Thank God we had a judge like him, who is not motivated by racism. This may lead the state of Israel to understand that it's time to stop treating the Arab population like enemies."

The prosecution announced that it would appeal against the decision.

Gideon Fishman, a sociology professor at Haifa University who has made a study of criminal sentencing policies in Israel, said he was not aware of research into discriminatory policies by prosecutors towards juvenile offenders. However, he said he was sure that there was systematic bias.

"The judge is right to raise his voice against a policy that is more lenient towards Jewish offenders. This is a policy being pursued by state prosecutors intentionally and not by accident, and it undermines trust in the system."

Judge Shadmi referred only to discrimination in sentencing in Israeli criminal courts.

Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories are tried in Israeli military courts under different legal rules and procedures that have been severely criticized by human rights groups.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

Olive oil and yoghurt, yoghurt and olive oil

No matter how they're packaged, "peace" initiatives will do little until Israel's oppression of Palestinians ends. (Rami Swidan/MaanImages)

As a child in early-1940s Palestine, I grew up in a small village of 1,500 individuals with its roots in biblical times. I would like to tell you an anecdote from my childhood that I recalled as I was reading the news the other day.

Life was simple, tranquil and often hard but despite the lack of modern amenities or even what was then available in the city, it was happy. There was no electricity or running water. We used kerosene lamps that gave poor lighting and kerosene stoves for cooking. The best stoves for indoor cooking were of the Swedish-made Primus or Radius brands. Weather-permitting, we cooked outdoors, often using a pottery pot, placed on three stones with a wood-fire underneath.

Food was tastier, simpler and healthier then, although we had no refrigerators. People dried fruits for the long, harsh winter, first by oiling them (which preserved tenderness) and then exposing them to the hot summer sun. Vegetables were sprayed with sea salt before drying. All our winter tomatoes were sun-dried, although nowadays that is a delicacy.

Bread-making was a well-honed process as well. You started with the grain, usually wheat, which was stone ground. I remember the mill was made of two round, heavy coarse black stones on top of each other with a three-inch diameter hole in the center of the top stone. Women (men never did the milling) turned the heavy top stone around with a wood handle while slowly putting wheat in the middle hole. Flour emerged sparingly from between the two stone wheels. The process was repeated daily as wheat was easier to store as grains than flour. Rarely, people carried their wheat to big mills in the city to grind all at once.

The dough made from this flour was left to ferment before being baked over hot round stones inside a thick clay dome called a taboun -- which many still use today. The taboun had to be heated by covering it with slow-burning straw and dry manure without flames; it took many hours before it was ready to use. The stones on the ground absorbed the right amount of heat for the baking process to be perfect -- producing delicious bread.

Women had to carry water many times a day from the village spring. I often wondered how young women balanced the large pottery jars perfectly on their heads without using their hands as they carried water up from the spring. During village celebrations, the women often danced with jars on their heads to demonstrate their skill, balance and prowess.

Jars, often larger, were used for storing olive oil to supply families with their needs until the next season. People used the same jars year after year, and the porous pottery became saturated with oil. People believed that the jars never needed to be washed because the oil in them never spoiled. Now we know that oil should not be exposed to either heat or light to maintain its color and taste. This wisdom was already built in to the thick-walled pottery storage jars.

Jars were also used to store homemade jams made of grapes, apricots and quince. From grapes they also made a heavy sweet molasses which was a great source of energy as well as a stable source of healthy diet in winter. All such winter supplies were naturally sterilized by prolonged cooking; they therefore kept well with no need for refrigeration.

Villagers were mostly illiterate, but that did not mean they lacked wisdom (though there was a boys school established in 1888, and girls had formal education when UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, established a school in the early 1950s). Despite the distance of formal governmental authorities or police (which ventured out of the city only when there was a serious problem), people followed strict rules and traditions of conduct toward each other.

The hard life that people led, and the necessity of putting all one's efforts into ensuring you had the means to survive, meant people had little time for nonsense. So, now, after this pleasant digression, let me come back to the anecdote.

I remember that whenever my mother was upset, she would express her anger by uttering the Arabic expression "zeit ou laban, laban ou zeit." It meant nothing to me until I grew older and my mother explained this common expression of disagreement. My mother said that a man once asked his wife to prepare lunch. When the wife asked what he wanted, the husband answered "laban ou zeit," which means yoghurt with olive oil -- something people ate then and now with fresh bread as a simple and delicious meal. You mean "zeit ou laban" -- olive oil with yoghurt? -- the wife replied, reversing the order. No, the husband insisted, "laban ou zeit" not "zeit ou laban." The story goes that the disagreement between the two escalated into a furious quarrel with dire consequences. Neither the wife nor the husband wanted to admit that it made no difference no matter how one would arrange the two simple ingredients.

For the villagers, this story came to stand for any disagreement where the positions being put forward were essentially indistinguishable. So I found myself muttering this ancient expression last week as I read about a new "peace" plan offered by former Israeli deputy prime minister and former army chief Shaul Mofaz.

Despite the hype, it turned out to be nothing more than recycling of familiar worn-out schemes, repeatedly put forward by Israel and then abandoned: a Palestinian state with "temporary borders" on 50 to 60 percent of the West Bank with large Jewish-only settlement blocs annexed to Israel.

Of course Mofaz's scheme was presented as a great departure -- especially since he suggested that he would talk to Hamas in the course of implementing it. But just like all the previous schemes, Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinian refugees would be off the table. With the Palestinians offered no more than about 15 percent of historic Palestine broken up into isolated enclaves, it was simply a case of Mofaz offering "laban ou zeit," when all the other Israeli schemes offered "zeit ou laban."

Similarly, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to host an international summit in Paris to "break the deadlock" in the Middle East peace process sounds indeed like suggesting that putting the "zeit and laban" in a different container would change it into caviar. It is hard to understand how simple facts escape the notice of leaders of the caliber of the French president. The problem is not how, where, or who would attend, and at what level. Rather, it what the conference would be able to discuss with zero options at hand.

The same can be said for all the other "peace process" schemes from Madrid to Oslo to the Clinton parameters, the "Geneva initiative," the Road Map, Annapolis, and finally the failed mission of US envoy George Mitchell. They can all be summed up in that village wisdom which despite decades of Israeli oppression still survives, and provides much needed clarity, today: "Zeit ou laban, laban ou zeit."

Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan at the United Nations. This essay first appeared in The Jordan Times and is republished with the author's permission.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Training in London

The International Women's Peace Service (IWPS), a group the ISM works closely with on the ground in Palestine, has a 5 day training in Lancaster coming up for people wishing to go to Palestine. See the email below for details.

ISM London

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: forthcoming IWPS- Palestine training, please circulate
From: "Alys Jenkins"
Date: Fri, November 13, 2009 6:26 pm

this is Alys from IWPS (
I wanted to let you know that the International Women's Peace Service has a 5 day training coming up for people wishing to go to Palestine.

We still have space for a few women wishing to join the training

The training is from sat 21st nov-weds 25th nov in Lancaster. The training is free, although we will ask for a contribution to food & room hire costs. Accommodation will be provided by local supportive people.

Anyone interested in joining the training should contact asap

Can you please circulate this



Friday, November 13, 2009

Update: Wishlist Support for Resettled Palestinian Refugees

Palestinian Refugees Right to Return - Al-Awda Bulletin
Posted by Zahi Damuni

Thanks to your generous support, we are in the process of delivering well over 100 basic needed items to 16 Palestinian refugee families and a number of individuals- a total of 71 persons- who have already arrived across the US from Al-Waleed Palestinian refugee camp. After suffering for several years under harsh conditions in the desert camp on the Iraq border with Syria, these families and individuals arrived to the US with essentially nothing -- so your donations are immensely appreciated. Since last week's announcement, several more families have arrived and we are told that dozens more will come in the next few weeks. We need to be there to insure their needs are met as well, and request that you please give whatever you can.

In addition to making monetary and other contributions as described in our earlier alert, anyone can also help by making a simple purchase through our Refugee Support Wishlist on Amazon This list is constantly being updated based on need, and currently includes various basic items ranging from blankets for the winter to kitchen housewares. For as little as $10 you can make a purchase, and the items will be delivered directly to the families through Al-Awda. No donation is too small.

The most urgent of causes - that of the Palestinian Refugees languishing in the camps - has now been brought to our doorsteps here in the US. We must not fail them! Please give and purchase what you can via Al-Awda's Refugee Support Wishlist


Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-918-9441
Fax: 760-918-9442

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Portuguese water company's immoral collaboration with Israel

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 9 November 2009

The Portugese company EPAL collaborates with Israeli water companies violating international law in the occupied West Bank. (Khaleel Reash/MaanImages)

The management of Portuguese water company EPAL recently informed its workers about its collaboration with the Israeli national water company Mekorot on "water security issues." An EPAL intern who recently visited the occupied West Bank reacted to the news by informing colleagues about how Israel is depriving Palestinians from water, referring to Amnesty International's 27 October report on the situation. EPAL responded by sacking the intern within one hour.

In the report titled "Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water," Amnesty accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.

EPAL is a subsidiary of the state water company Agua de Portugal. The company provides water to roughly three million people in 35 municipalities in Portugal, including the city of Lisbon. Meanwhile, Mekorot plays a key role in the implementation of Israel's discriminatory water policies.

Mekorot was founded in 1937 by Levi Eshkol to support the development of Zionist settlements in British mandate Palestine. Eshkol held the position of managing director of Mekorot until 1951 and later became prime minister of the State of Israel. During his term, the West Bank was seized in the June 1967 War. Several military orders issued shortly after the war demonstrate Eshkol's commitment to water for Israel. In August 1967, authority over West Bank water was transferred to Israel by Military Order 92. Two months later, Military Order 158 declared that no person in the West Bank is "allowed to establish or own or administer a water installation without a new official permit." Permits can be refused without reason. A year later, Military Order 291 was issued, declaring all water resources in the West Bank to be public property of the State of Israel.

Mekorot became an important player in the water sector in the West Bank after 1982, when then Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon oversaw the transfer of ownership of all water supply systems in the West Bank. Mekorot paid a symbolic price of one shekel for Palestinian-owned assets of an estimated value of $5 million.

According to Amnesty International, Israel uses 80 percent of the water from the "mountain aquifer," the only source of water for the Palestinians in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Mekorot sells water at highly subsidized prices to Israeli settlers in the illegal settlements in the West Bank. Nearly 40 percent of water supplied to Palestinians in the West Bank is distributed by Mekorot at much higher, unsubsidized prices.

Israel's illegal settlements receive a continuous supply of water, even in the hot summers when water is scarce. In 2000, a senior official who had worked for the Israeli Water Commission told the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem in telephone conversation that "Mekorot's obligation is, first of all, to the Jewish settlements and Israeli citizens" (Thirsty for a Solution," B'Tselem, July 2000). For example, in its October 2009 report "Water - A question of survival for Palestinians," the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem reported that Mekorot reduced the supplies from 10,000 cubic meters per day to 6,000 cubic meters per day in Bethlehem this summer. In June, July and August, Mekorot cut water supplies from 5,000 cubic meters a day to 2,500 cubic meters a day in the Hebron municipality as increased demand from the Israeli settlements were prioritized over the needs of Palestinians. In response to the cuts in water supply, a coalition of Israeli, Palestinian and international non-governmental organizations coordinated the Breaking the Thirst water convoy to the villages in the south Hebron hills on 26 September.

International law limits the rights of an occupying power to utilize water resources of an occupied territory, and prohibits an occupying power from discriminating between residents of an occupied territory. However, Israel has illegally annexed water resources from the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 1967. Israel exercises full control over Palestinian water resources, and employs a discriminatory policy of water distribution. Mekorot plays a key role in Israel's water policies and assists in its violation of international law.

According to European law, EPAL has the power to exclude an economic operator from bidding for a public contract or to reject any such bid where it is found that the individual or organization has committed an act of "grave misconduct" in the course of its business of profession. Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts is explicit about this. Like other European companies supporting Israel's occupation, EPAL and its investors can expect increasing scrutiny and pressure to withdraw from agreements that undermine international law.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland

Goldstone report met with muted enthusiasm in Gaza

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 11 November 2009

Tareq Abu Daya shows off the Goldstone kuffiyeh at his shop in Gaza City.

Tareq Abu Daya, owner of a popular souvenir shop in the heart of Gaza City, has recently offered his customers a new kuffiyeh, or traditional checkered scarf, on which the name of Judge Richard Goldstone is inscribed.

"When the famous UN report of Judge Richard Goldstone was first made public, I thought of something that would be in honor of such a significant report that accuses Israel of war crimes against Gaza during the last war," Abu Daya said.

Abu Daya's idea is the latest of similar novelty souvenirs that his shop has sold over the past several years to Palestinians and internationals visiting the territory. Every noteworthy occasion and event is marked with a new creative souvenir -- from Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 to the failed Annapolis summit.

"The Goldstone report is considered a very important event that might bring to justice Israeli war criminals who committed war crimes against the residents of the Gaza Strip during the last Israeli war on the region. My shop would offer this kuffiyeh as a sort of tribute to Mr. Richard Goldstone, who bravely revealed Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians," Abu Dayeh explained while showing off the new merchandise.

Since the kuffiyeh was first offered by the Abu Daya store, more than 150 customers purchased it as a sign of their appreciation for Judge Goldstone and his report.

"Unfortunately, I have not sold a large number of this kuffiyeh, apparently because of the economic conditions here in Gaza due to the crippling Israeli blockade on the territory. A kuffiyeh with Goldstone is sold for 85 shekels [$22 US] and because of the bad economy here this price is inflated. The reason for this price is that such a kuffiyeh is made by some women at their homes in northern Gaza," Abu Daya made clear.

Inside the shop, one can find many other homemade souvenirs including kuffiyehs, trinkets, plates, cups and flags. All feature different forms of inscriptions or paintings, mostly related to Palestine and the struggle for justice.

"When the current US president Barack Hussein Obama took office in the beginning of 2009, I thought of marking this event, for I believe, as many other Arabs and Palestinians, that the new US president would be able to forge a change by making peace in this part of the world. My souvenir that shows Obama on a coffee mug [reads] 'Abu Hussain [a traditional Arab nickname] Palestine loves you,'" Abu Daya said, displaying the mug.

"However, I do hope that America would not let us feel disappointed by its veto power once the Goldstone report is submitted to the UN Security Council. Such a disappointment was felt widely here when the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported Israel's terms for peace. Nevertheless, I will keep making new souvenirs that show our reality and reflect our Palestinian life."

Last week, the UN General Assembly voted to approve the Goldstone report, while the US, Israel and a handful of other countries objected to the report which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes.

The report calls on both parties to conduct serious investigations into these allegations so that those responsible are brought to justice. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he would submit the report's findings to the UN Security Council for consideration.

In Gaza, reactions to the report were varied -- some considered it a step in the right direction that would curb Israel from committing more crimes against the Palestinians in the future, while others viewed it as merely ink on paper.
"The Goldstone report would [absolve] the repressed people in the international community," stated 21-year-old Ahmad Abulnour, who was passing by Abu Daya's store.

However, not everyone was as optimistic.

"The American veto would make implementation of justice difficult. I don't expect any change out of such a report. For this report to exist or not to exist, is the same for me," Ahmad Abu Karsh said while he and his wife chatted as they walked down a street near the Palestinian Legislative Council building in Gaza City.

Twenty-eight-year-old laborer Mohammad al-Moghramy expressed some hope towards bringing Israel to justice. "Actually, it is a good chance for us to see punishment of Israel. When this report was submitted internationally, we felt somehow relieved, hoping Israel will be prevented from perpetrating more crimes against us."

"The report can be considered politically fair to the Palestinian people, but is against the Palestinian people's resistance against the Israeli occupation. But it won't change our reality due to our past experiences with previous reports or even UN Security Council resolutions," said Mahmoud, who refused to give his full name, as he was heading down the same street as the Abu Karsh couple.

Gaza's university students have their own opinions on the Goldstone report. Eman al-Qudsi, a student of the Arabic language, expressed her disappointment regarding the international community's actions towards the Palestinian people. "Goldstone's report is truly international, yet I believe that this report will be foiled by an American veto."

Khetam Abu Mandil, also a student of Arabic, believes that the report is useless. "Our cause is clear enough and I believe that the UN Security Council and the UN itself are American-made, so I don't foresee any real change due to such a report."

Back at Abu Daya's shop, the jaded attitude of Gaza's residents is reflected in the demographics of the Goldstone kuffiyeh sales.

"I have sold the Goldstone kuffiyeh to a large number of foreigners, including international aid workers or journalists in Gaza, while the locals who have bought this kuffiyeh are customers who have enough cash," the shopkeeper said.

All images by Rami Almeghari.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Jews and the one-state solution

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 10 November 2009

At the height of the global anti-apartheid movement, in 1989, a bus in London displays a message calling for boycott of South Africa. (Rahul D'Lucca)
Anyone who rejects the two-state solution, won't bring a one-state solution. They will instead bring one war, not one state. A bloody war with no end. -- Israeli President Shimon Peres, 7 November 2009.

One of the most commonly voiced objections to a one-state solution for Palestine/Israel stems from the accurate observation that the vast majority of Israeli Jews reject it, and fear being "swamped" by a Palestinian majority. Across the political spectrum, Israeli Jews insist on maintaining a separate Jewish-majority state.

But with the total collapse of the Obama Administration's peace efforts, and relentless Israeli colonization of the occupied West Bank, the reality is dawning rapidly that the two-state solution is no more than a slogan that has no chance of being implemented or altering the reality of a de facto binational state in Palestine/Israel.

This places an obligation on all who care about the future of Palestine/Israel to seriously consider the democratic alternatives. I have long argued that the systems in post-apartheid South Africa (a unitary democratic state), and Northern Ireland (consociational democracy) -- offer hopeful, real-life models.

But does solid Israeli Jewish opposition to a one-state solution mean that a peaceful one-state outcome is so unlikely that Palestinians should not pursue it, and should instead focus only on "pragmatic" solutions that would be less fiercely resisted by Israeli Jews?

The experience in South Africa suggests otherwise. In 1994, white-minority rule -- apartheid -- came to a peaceful, negotiated end, and was replaced (after a transitional period of power-sharing) with a unitary democratic state with a one person, one vote system. Before this happened, how likely did this outcome look? Was there any significant constituency of whites prepared to contemplate it, and what if the African National Congress (ANC) had only advanced political solutions that whites told pollsters they would accept?

Until close to the end of apartheid, the vast majority of whites, including many of the system's liberal critics, completely rejected a one person, one vote system, predicting that any attempt to impose it would lead to a bloodbath. As late as 1989, F.W. de Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid president, described a one person, one vote system as the "death knell" for South Africa.

A 1988 study by political scientist Pierre Hugo documented the widespread fears among South African whites that a transition to majority rule would entail not only a loss of political power and socioeconomic status, but engendered "physical dread" and fear of "violence, total collapse, expulsion and flight." Successive surveys showed that four out of five whites thought that majority rule would threaten their "physical safety." Such fears were frequently heightened by common racist tropes of inherently savage and violent Africans, but the departure of more than a million white colons from Algeria and the airlifting of 300,000 whites from Angola during decolonization set terrifying precedents ("Towards darkness and death: racial demonology in South Africa," The Journal of Modern African Studies, 26(4), 1988).

Throughout the 1980s, polls showed that even as whites increasingly understood that apartheid could not last, only a small minority ever supported majority rule and a one person, one vote system. In a March 1986 survey, for example, 47 percent of whites said they would favor some form of "mixed-race" government, but 83 percent said they would opt for continued white domination of the government if they had the choice (Peter Goodspeed, "Afrikaners cling to their all-white dream," The Toronto Star, 5 October 1986).

A 1990 nationwide survey of Afrikaner whites (native speakers of Afrikaans, as opposed to English, and who traditionally formed the backbone of the apartheid state), found just 2.2 percent were willing to accept a "universal franchise with majority rule" (Kate Manzo and Pat McGowan, "Afrikaner fears and the politics of despair: Understanding change in South Africa," International Studies Quarterly, 36, 1992).

Perhaps an enlightened white elite was able to lead the white masses to higher ground? This was not the case either. A 1988 academic survey of more than 400 white politicians, business and media leaders, top civil servants, academics and clergy found that just 4.8 percent were prepared to accept a unitary state with a universal voting franchise and two-thirds considered such an outcome "unacceptable." According to Manzo and McGowan, white elites reflected the sentiments and biases of the rest of the society and overwhelmingly considered whites inherently more civilized and culturally superior to black Africans. Just more than half of prominent whites were prepared to accept "a federal state in which power is shared between white and non-white groups and areas so that no one group dominates."

During the 1980s, the white electorate in South Africa moved to the right, as Israel's Jewish electorate is doing today. Support seeped from the National Party, which had established formal apartheid in 1948, to the even more extreme Conservative Party. Yet, "on the issue of majority rule," Hugo observed, "supporters of the National Party and the Conservative Party, as well as most white voters to the 'left' of these organizations, ha[d] little quarrel with each other."

The vast majority of whites, wracked with existential fears, were simply unable to contemplate relinquishing effective control, or at least a veto, over political decision-making in South Africa.

Yet, the African National Congress insisted firmly on a one person, one vote system with no white veto. As the township protests and strikes and international pressure mounted, The Economist observed in an extensive 1986 survey of South Africa published on 1 February of that year, that many "enlightened" whites "still fondly argue that a dramatic improvement in the quality of black life may take the revolutionary sting out of the black townships -- and persuade 'responsible' blacks, led by the emergent black middle class, to accept some power-sharing formula."

Schemes to stabilize the apartheid system abounded, and bear a strong resemblance to the current Israeli government's vision of "economic peace" in which a collaborationist Palestinian Authority leadership would manage a still-subjugated Palestinian population anesthetized by consumer goods and shopping malls.

Because of the staunch opposition of whites to a unitary democratic state, the ANC heard no shortage of advice from western liberals that it should seek a "realistic" political accommodation with the apartheid regime, and that no amount of pressure could force whites to succumb to the ANC's political demands. The ANC was warned that insistence on majority rule would force Afrikaners into the "laager" -- they would retreat into a militarized garrison state and siege economy, preferring death before surrender.

Even the late Helen Suzman, one of apartheid's fiercest liberal critics, predicted in 1987, as quoted by Hugo, "The Zimbabwe conflict took 15 years ... and cost 20,000 lives and I can assure you that the South African transfer of power will take a good deal more than that, both in time and I am afraid lives."

But as The Economist observed, the view that whites would prefer "collective suicide" was something of a caricature. The vast majority of Afrikaners were "no longer bible-thumping boers." They were "part of a spoilt, affluent suburban society, whose economic pain threshold may prove to be rather low."

The Economist concluded that if whites would only come so far voluntarily, then it was perfectly reasonable for the anti-apartheid movement to bring them the rest of the way through "coercion" in the form of sanctions and other forms of pressure. "The quicker the white tribe submits," the magazine wrote, "the better its chance of a bearable future in a black-ruled South Africa."

Ultimately, as we now know, the combination of internal resistance and international isolation did force whites to abandon political apartheid and accept majority rule. However, it is important to note that the combined strength of the anti-apartheid movement never seriously threatened the physical integrity of the white regime.

Even after the massive township uprisings of 1985-86, the South African regime was secure. "So far there is no real physical threat to white power," The Economist noted, "so far there is little threat to white lives. ... The white state is mighty, and well-equipped. It has the capacity to repress the township revolts far more bloodily. The blacks have virtually no urban or rural guerrilla capacity, practically no guns, few safe havens within South Africa or without."

This balance never changed, and a similar equation could be written today about the relative power of a massively-armed -- and much more ruthless -- Israeli state, and lightly armed Palestinian resistance factions.

What did change for South Africa, and what all the weapons in the world were not able to prevent, was the complete loss of legitimacy of the apartheid regime and its practices. Once this legitimacy was gone, whites lost the will to maintain a system that relied on repression and violence and rendered them international pariahs; they negotiated a way out and lived to tell the tale. It all happened much more quickly and with considerably less violence than even the most optimistic predictions of the time. But this outcome could not have been predicted based on what whites said they were willing to accept, and it would not have occurred had the ANC been guided by opinion polls rather than the democratic principles of the Freedom Charter.

Zionism -- as many Israelis openly worry -- is suffering a similar, terminal loss of legitimacy as Israel is ever more isolated as a result of its actions. Israel's self-image as a liberal "Jewish and democratic state" is proving impossible to maintain against the reality of a militarized, ultra-nationalist Jewish sectarian settler-colony that must carry out frequent and escalating massacres of "enemy" civilians (Lebanon and Gaza 2006, Gaza 2009) in a losing effort to check the resistance of the region's indigenous people. Zionism cannot bomb, kidnap, assassinate, expel, demolish, settle and lie its way to legitimacy and acceptance.

Already difficult to disguise, the loss of legitimacy becomes impossible to conceal once Palestinians are a demographic majority ruled by a Jewish minority. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel's "right to exist as a Jewish state" is in effect an acknowledgement of failure: without Palestinian consent, something which is unlikely ever to be granted, the Zionist project of a Jewish ethnocracy in Palestine has grim long-term prospects.

Similarly, South African whites typically attempted to justify their opposition to democracy, not in terms of a desire to preserve their privilege and power, but using liberal arguments about protecting distinctive cultural differences. Hendrik Verwoerd Jr., the son of assassinated Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, apartheid's founder, expressed the problem in these terms in 1986, as reported by The Toronto Star, stating that, "These two people, the Afrikaner and the black, are not capable of becoming one nation. Our differences are unique, cultural and deep. The only way a man can be happy, can live in peace, is really when he is among his own people, when he shares cultural values."

The younger Verwoerd was on the far-right of South African politics, leading a quixotic effort to carve out a whites-only homeland in the heart of South Africa. But his reasoning sounds remarkably similar to liberal Zionist defenses of the "two-state solution" today. The Economist clarified the use of such language at the time, stating that "One of the weirder products of apartheid is the crippling of language in a maw of hypocrisy, euphemism and sociologese. You talk about the Afrikaner 'right to self-determination' -- meaning power over everybody else."

Zionism's claim for "Jewish self-determination" amidst an intermixed population, is in effect a demand to preserve and legitimize a status quo in which Israeli Jews exercise power in perpetuity. But there's little reason to expect that Israeli Jews would abandon this quest voluntarily any more than South African whites did. As in South Africa, coercion is necessary -- and the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is one of the most powerful, nonviolent, legitimate and proven tools of coercion that Palestinians possess. Israel's vulnerabilities may be different from those of apartheid South Africa, but Israel is not invulnerable to pressure.

Coercion is not enough, however; as I have long argued, and sought to do, Palestinians must also put forward a positive vision. Neither can Palestinians advocating a one-state solution simply disregard the views of Israeli Jews. We must recognize that the opposition of Israeli Jews to any solution that threatens their power and privilege stems from at least two sources. One is irrational, racist fears of black and brown hordes (in this case, Arab Muslims) stoked by decades of colonial, racist demonization. The other source -- certainly heightened by the former -- are normal human concerns about personal and family dislocation, loss of socioeconomic status and community security: change is scary.

But change will come. Without indulging Israeli racism or preserving undue privilege, the legitimate concerns of ordinary Israeli Jews can be addressed directly in any negotiated transition to ensure that the shift to democracy is orderly, and essential redistributive policies are carried out fairly. Inevitably, decolonization will cause some pain as Israeli Jews lose power and privilege, but there are few reasons to believe it cannot be a well-managed process, or that the vast majority of Israeli Jews, like white South Africans, would not be prepared to make the adjustment for the sake of a normality and legitimacy they cannot have any other way.

This is where the wealth of research and real-life experience about the successes, failures, difficulties and opportunities of managing such transitions at the level of national and local politics, neighborhoods, schools and universities, workplaces, state institutions and policing, emerging from South Africa and Northern Ireland, will be of enormous value.

Every situation has unique features, and although there are patterns in history, it never repeats itself exactly. But what we can conclude from studying the pasts and presents of others is that Palestinians and Israelis are no less capable of writing themselves a post-colonial future that gives everyone a chance at a life worth living in a single, democratic state.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Студентите в Университета в Съсекс гласуваха за бойкот на израелските стоки

Press release, University of Sussex Students' Union, 6 ноември2009

Следното съобщение е дадено от Студенстския Съюз на Университета в Съсекс, 5 Ноември 2009:

Студентите от Университета в Съсекс, Англия, гласуваха за бойкот на израелските стоки. Решението последва Палестински призив за бойкот, отстраняване и санкции срещу Израел (BDS,)като се призовава израелската държава да се подчини на международните закони и да прекрати окупацията на Палестина.

На референдум 56% от студентите гласувалиха за подкрепа на бойкота.

Референдума беше подкпрепен от Студентския Съюз на Университета в Съсекс (USSU), който представлява 11 000-те студенти на Университета.

Израелските стоки няма да бъдат допускани в магазините на университетските сгради от Съюза, който ще лобира пред университетската администрация за спазване на бойкота.

Том Уилс, президент на Студентския Съюз каза: „Израел е блокирал повече щатски резолюции, отколкото която и да било друга държава. Никоя друга поддържана от Запада демокрация не е извършила такива нечувани нарушения на международния закон, но международната общност не съумя да държи Израел отговорен.

„Съсекс е от първите университети, бойкотирали Южна Африка по време на апартейда и се надяваме, че сега ще помогнем на международното движение по същия начин да се упражни натиск върху Израел да прекрати потисничеството над Палестинския народ.”

„Призоваваме студентите на другите университети да представят движението за бойкот пред техните обшества”.

По-рано тази година израелските атаки в Газа предизвикаха силно активизиране на студентските движения във Великобритания, в чиято вълна от седящи протести в университетите се включи и Съсекс. Студентския бойкот дойде след като Световния Търговски Конгрес (TUC) обезпечи бойкот на стоките от израелските селища през септември.

Понастоящем USSU бойкотира Coca-Cola и Nestle в протест срещу неетичните бизнес практики на тези корпорации.

Interview: Living under constant fear of arrest

Jody McIntyre writing from Bilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 5 November 2009

Mohammed Ahmed Issa Yassen, 20, lives in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where he works in his family's car garage business as a mechanic. He is also a student at the al-Quds Open University, but since he has joined the Israeli intelligence's "wanted" list from the village, studying has been difficult. The Electronic Intifada contributor Jody McIntyre interviewed Mohammed about living under the constant threat of arrest:

Jody McIntyre: How many times have the Israeli army been to your house?

Mohammed Ahmed Issa Yassen: During the most recent wave of arrests in the village [which has been over the last four months], the army have been to my house eight times. The first time they came was 3 July; I was not at home, so they started trashing our house and destroying the furniture. My mother, who is 52 years old, was at home at the time, and they told her to bring her son to prison. Each time they came, they were more and more aggressive towards my mother. Nowadays, she can't sleep at night.

They also went to the house of my older brother, Mazen, and gave him an invitation demanding that he hand me in at Ofer military complex, so that they could arrest me. They didn't say why they wanted to arrest me.

JM: How have the night raids affected your life?

MY: I can't live a normal life. I can't sleep at home during the night, because I fear that the army will come to arrest me, and during the day I must work; my father passed away in January of this year, so I must earn money for the family. We don't live a luxurious lifestyle, not by any means, but we need to have food on the table.

My young nieces and nephews used to come over to my house to stay with [their] grandmother, but on one occasion the army invaded while they were here, and now they're too afraid to sleep over again. It's not just my family though, it's a problem for the whole village -- no one can sleep at night anymore.

JM: What about your studies and relationships with friends?

MY: It was difficult to continue my studies before the night raids, because of the expense of traveling to university and paying the semester fees, but now it is pretty much impossible. The night raids have ruined my education.

Some of my friends are afraid to hang out with me now, because they fear that they might also be arrested. I don't want to go to stay at my friends' houses anymore, or to have them over to stay, because I don't want to drag them into my problems.

JM: Has anyone else from your family been arrested in the past?

MY: At the beginning of the nonviolent resistance in Bilin, towards the start of 2006, they were using a similar tactic as recently, invading the village at night and arresting the participants of the demonstrations. They arrested my oldest brother Bassem, and kept him in jail for four months.

At around the same time, they arrested my younger brother Abdullah. He was just 14 years old at the time. I was 16, and it was the first time I had seen the soldiers at such a close range...the first time I'd had a chance to look them in the eyes. I was terrified.

During the second or third of the most recent raids in my house, they arrested Abdullah, now aged 18, again. He's been in jail for the last two months, and won't be released for another four and a half. I miss Abdullah so much ... before he was arrested, we would spend the whole day working together in our family's garage, and then playing around afterwards. I would give him some money from the business' takings, without telling our mother ... sometimes we didn't have enough money to go around, so I would give him some from my own pocket, just to make him feel like he was living a normal childhood. Since our father died, I've felt like a father to Abdullah.

JM: Why do you think the Israeli army want to arrest you?

MY: I don't know why they have made me into this big criminal ... I have to work all day to make sure my family has bread, so I don't even have time to go to the demonstrations! Young boys from the village, under intense interrogation, supposedly "confessed" that I had thrown stones in the past -- this isn't true, but even if I had, what difference does this make to the fourth largest army in the world? After all, they are the ones stealing our land!

It seems that every couple of years, the army in Bilin, perhaps under different leaderships, try a new tactic to stop our nonviolent demonstrations. Sometimes they arrest people from the village, like they are doing now, sometimes they impose curfews, and sometimes they kill people ... like my friend Bassem Abu Rahme.

They think they can stop the demonstrations in Bilin, but they can't, so they punish us instead.

JM: What is your message to the Israeli government who want to put you in jail?

MY: Leave me alone so that I can go back to my studies, to play football with my friends, and to continue with my normal life. And release my brother Abdullah so I can see him again.

If Israelis want to meet me then we can go to the playground and have a game of football, not in a military prison!

JM: Do you think there will ever be a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

MY:I just want to see a peaceful solution in my house and in my village. For now, it is difficult for me to think about the bigger picture.

Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled "Life on Wheels," which can be found at, where a version of this article was originally published. He can be reached at jody.mcintyre AT gmail DOT com.