Palestine Update 442
EU partners with hate group to commemorate Holocaust
Ali Abunimah Lobby Watch
In a 1 April 2018 photo, Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar helps an injured man during protests in Gaza near the boundary with Israel. Al-Najjar was deliberately shot and killed by an Israeli sniper as she performed her duties. Ashraf Amra APA images
The European Union is commemorating this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day alongside a group that applauds Israeli war crimes, including the shooting of unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip. On 1 February, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, will be taking part in a memorial event with B’nai B’rith, a Jewish communal organization and Israel lobby group. Other participants include EU anti-Semitism chief Katharina von Schnurbein and Audrey Azoulay, head of the United Nations cultural body UNESCO. Von Schnurbein has asserted the importance of learning lessons from the German-led European Christian genocide of millions of European Jews.
The Holocaust “did not occur in vacuum,” she said. “It was caused by bystanders who were silent and kept silent in the face of injustice.” The participation of top EU officials in this event indicates, however, that not only are these officials willing to keep silent, they are also willing to lend their prestige to an organization that cheers for injustice while smearing and dehumanizing victims and truth-tellers.
Read full report
Israel is ‘apartheid’ state, concludes major human rights group
Graffiti Wall [Life in General/Wikipedia]
Israel has been branded an “apartheid” state that “promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.” B’Tselem observed that even though Palestinian citizens of Israel may vote and run for office, leading politicians consistently undermine the legitimacy of their political representatives. It also pointed to the five million Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, who cannot participate in the political system that governs their lives and determines their future. They are denied other political rights as well, including freedom of speech and association, it argued.
“Israel is not a democracy that has a temporary occupation attached to it…It is one regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid. This sobering look at reality need not lead to despair, but quite the opposite. It is a call for change. After all, people created this regime, and people can change it.”
Palestinians welcome end of US pressure: Doubt Biden will press Israel
Palestinian officials breathed a sigh of relief with the swearing-in of Joe Biden. Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh welcomed the announcements made by top officials of the Biden administration declaring the reversal of some of Donald Trump’s anti-Palestinian decisions. He said the new administration’s moves emphasized the US support for a two-state solution and the need to resume Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Despite Biden’s optimistic words, it is unclear yet whether there will be any substantive changes in US foreign policy toward Palestine/Israel.
Khalil Assali, a Jerusalem-based political analyst, said the resumption of efforts at the Jerusalem consulate on Agron Street will revive US-Palestinian communication. “The move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the existence of one of the worst US ambassadors to Palestinian-American relations has caused a total cessation of talks. So, for sure the reopening of a mission in Jerusalem that is dedicated to Palestinians will revive both secret and public meetings on the political level as well as on the economic and development levels,” said Assali.
Despite the public statement welcoming the US moves, Palestinians say it is unclear whether the Biden administration will reverse all decisions or whether there will be added conditions on the issue of the return of the Palestinian office in Washington and the US mission in East Jerusalem. Palestinian officials are worried about having to return to the earlier version in which the Washington office’s status will be reviewed every six months as part of anti-terrorism congressional legislation. Also, it is unclear how the East Jerusalem US mission will work while the Biden administration has stated it will not reverse Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
ICC inaction enables Israeli occupation violence
More than 3,600 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces, and a further 100,000 injured, since 2009, the year the International Criminal Court initiated its first preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine. Palestinian human rights groups say that the “intensifying” occupation demands immediate action by the International Criminal Court. The urgency is “further necessitated by the intensifying support by the US” for Israel’s settlement-building and intentions to formally annex occupied territory.
Just over a year ago, Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, stated that criteria for war crimes investigations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip had been met. She pointed to Israel’s illegal transfer of its civilian population into West Bank settlements as an example of a potential war crimes case arising from an investigation in Palestine. Despite the illegality of Israel’s settlements being an “open and shut case,” in the words of UN special rapporteur Michael Lynk, Bensouda has not yet opened an investigation, though it is in her power to do so. Instead, she asked for a ruling on court jurisdiction, punting the Palestine situation to a panel of judges, where it is currently in limbo. The interminable pace of court proceedings hardly matches the urgency of the situation on the ground.
The Israeli group Yesh Din has confirmed dozens of incidents in which settlers attacked Palestinians in the West Bank over the past month. Those attacks included settlers blocking main junctions on the principal highway in the West Bank and throwing stones at Palestinian vehicles. In other cases, as Levy reported in Haaretz, “settlers invaded Palestinian communities, throwing stones at people and houses and torching cars.” Settlers also attacked Palestinian farmers working their land. Many of these incidents have been recorded on video or documented in photos. That documentation shows that soldiers passively stood by and did nothing to stop the violence. Soldiers have testified to ‘Breaking the Silence’, a group of Israeli veterans critical of the occupation, that they were not authorized to arrest or detain settlers.
Al-Haq, the rights group documented 68 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank between July and October 2020. In many of those cases, Israeli soldiers failed to stop the settlers and instead used force against their Palestinian victims. Under the guard of the military, settlers use violence to prevent Palestinians from working their land.
Read full report
Boycotts are legitimate tools of protest against injustice
In 1966, the Coca-Cola Company was accused of refusing to do business in Israel. The claim had come from the pro-Israel lobby group Anti-Defamation League, and soon enough, the soft drink company faced potential boycotts in its own country. Later that same year, Coca-Cola ended up franchising in Israel, arguably for fear of repercussions of a boycott in its home country. This led to the boycott of the company by Arab states.
Economic boycotts have been a common and effective means of protest in the US in the past century, and Americans rightly saw it as a civil and democratic way to exert non-violent pressure to effect political change. As far back as 1933, following early signs of the anti-Semitism campaign against European Jews, many Americans responded to calls by the American Jewish Congress and other groups for the international boycott of Nazi Germany supported by Jews around the world.
The tendency to resort to economic and political boycott has become a hallmark of the pro-Israel lobby in the US in recent years, where the slightest diversion from the Israeli government’s narrative has often provided cause to be labeled anti-Semitic.
Read full report