Palestine Update 191
Israel’s imposed legitimacy is under grim challenge
The creation of the State of Israel will always be judged an unjust agreement imposed on Palestinians by the United Nations in 1947. The agreement came through the UN system when decolonization had not even started and the UN was, for most part, a club of western nations and a relatively smaller number of so-called Third World nations.
Western nations had their own reasons to make the award to Israel. Mostly, it was guilt stemming from the holocaust. The conception of an independent Arab and a Jewish State with a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem was a losing proposition to resolve the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Palestinian nationalism and Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. Arab leaders argued that it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN Charter which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.
Immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, a civil war broke out and the plan was not implemented. Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru spoke with anger and contempt for the way the UN vote had been lined up. He said the Zionists had tried to bribe India with millions of dollars and that Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, the Indian ambassador to the UN, had received daily warnings that her life was in danger unless “she voted right”. Several other countries also voted against the partition agreement arguing that it violated the principle of sovereignty and right to self-determination.
In 1948 the Palestinian exodus, also known as the al-Nakbah, literally “disaster”, “catastrophe”, or “cataclysm”), occurred when about half of pre-war Palestine’s Arab population – fled or were expelled from their homes, during the Arab-Israeli war. The Nakba continues to this day in multiple ways in more horrendous, and brutal ways than in 1948. In its accumulated arrogance Israel has come to live in a make-believe world that suggests it is invincible. But the illegitimacy of its very foundations, and its exploitative and devious ways of land theft, disrespect for human dignity, international law, human rights, has sparked resentment all around. Israel is a global recluse.
In this issue of Palestine Updates, Ramzy Baroud describes this predicament in a profound article: “The Tide is turning: Israel Is Losing on two War Fronts”. He avers that all the power and money in the world cannot reverse the waves of justice now flowing in favour of Palestinians. The precise time for liberation may not have arrived. But it will – sooner than later! This week alone we have news from Airbnb removing settlements from its listings, the Quakers in Britain are now the first church in the UK to suspend investing its centrally-held funds in companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine. There is the popular decision of Canadian Federation of Students to endorse BDS. Importantly; we also have news about a global South view on Israelis’ colonization. The call from a large collective of Nigerian Muslim activists calling for boycott of Israel is an equally powerful message.
Israel’s isolation is present and emergent at multiple levels and manifold political spaces.
Indeed the tide is turning!
The Tide is Turning: Israel Is losing on two war fronts
Excerpts from an article by Ramzy Baroud*
The November 12 botched Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip is delineating Tel Aviv’s failure to utilize its army as a tool to achieve Palestinian political concessions.
Now that the Palestinian popular resistance has gone global through the exponential rise and growing success of the Boycott Movement, the Israeli government is fighting two desperate wars. Following the Gaza attack, Palestinians responded by showering the Israeli southern border with rockets and carried out a precise operation targeting an Israeli army bus.
As Palestinians marched in celebration of pushing the Israeli army out of their besieged region, the fragile political order in Israel, long-managed by right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was quickly unraveling. Avigdor Lieberman, quit in protest of Netanyahu’s ‘surrender’ to the Palestinian Resistance.
Israeli leaders are in a precarious situation. Untamed violence comes at a price of international condemnation and a Palestinian response that is bolder and more strategic each time. However, failing to teach Gaza its proverbial ‘lesson’ is viewed as an act of surrender by opportunistic Israeli politicians.
While Israel is experiencing such limitations on the traditional battlefield, which it once completely dominated, its war against the global Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is surely a lost battle. Israel has a poor track record in confronting civil society-based mobilization. Despite the vulnerability of Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation, it took the Israeli government and military seven long years to pacify the popular Intifada, the uprising of 1987. Even then, the jury is still out on what truly ended the popular revolt.
It should be accepted that a global Intifada is much more difficult to suppress, or even contain. Yet, when Israel began sensing the growing danger of BDS – which was officially launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005 – it responded with the same superfluous and predictable pattern: arrests, violence and a torrent of laws that criminalize dissent at home, while unleashing an international campaign of intimidation and smearing of boycott activists and organizations.
That achieved little, aside from garnering BDS more attention and international solidarity. The war on the Movement took a serious turn last year when Netanyahu’s government dedicated largesse of about $72 million to defeat the civil society-led campaign. Utilizing the ever-willing US government to boost its anti-BDS tactics, Tel Aviv feels assured that its counter-BDS efforts in the US is off to a promising start. However, it is only recently that Israel has begun to formulate the wider European component of its global strategy.
Israeli officials and their European supporters unleashed their broader European anti-BDS campaign. Under the usual pretext of addressing the danger of anti-Semitism in Europe, attendees deliberately conflated racism and any criticism of Israel, of its military Occupation and colonization of Palestinian land. An EJA conference raised Israel’s manipulation of the term ‘anti-Semitism’ to a whole new level, demanding prospective members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sign a text to the effect their signature before running in next May’s elections. Or be treated as racist and anti-Semitic.
Anti-BDS euphoria has swept Israel in recent years, where Israeli officials have openly threatened BDS activists. In March 2017, the Israeli Knesset passed the Anti-BDS Travel Ban, which requires the Interior Minister to deny entry to the country to any foreign national who “knowingly issued a public call to boycott the state of Israel.” Since the ban went into effect, many BDS supporters have been detained, deported and barred from entering the country.
While Israel has demonstrated its ability to galvanize self-serving US and other European politicians to support its cause, there is no evidence that the BDS Movement is being quelled or is, in any way, weakening. On the contrary, the Israeli strategy has raised the ire of many activists, civil society and civil rights groups, angered by Israel’s attempt at subverting freedom of speech in western countries.
Decades of Zionist indoctrination also failed, not only in reversing the vastly changing public opinion on the Palestinian struggle for freedom and rights, but even in preserving the once solid pro-Israel sentiment among young Jews, most notably in the US.
BDS’ success is attributed to the very reason why Israel is failing to counter its efforts: it is a disciplined model of a popular, civil resistance that is based on engagement, open debate and democratic choices, while grounded in international and humanitarian law. Israel’s ‘war-chest’ will run dry in the end, for no amount of money could have saved the racist, Apartheid regime in South Africa when it came tumbling down decades ago.
Needless to say, $72 million will not turn the tide in favor of Apartheid Israel, nor will it change the course of history that can only belong to the people who are unrelenting on achieving their long-coveted freedom.
* Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.
BDS perspective from Latin America, Asia, Africa
BDS Argentina has initiated a statement and Asian civil society/human rights groups are actively endorsing it. The hope is that this could pave the way to building a global south perspective of Israel’s colonization of Palestine as well as its export of colonial methodology to the global south. From Latin America to Asia, Israeli methods of repression are being adopted by right-wing regimes to crush resistance. Our societies have seen excessive state violence and militarism. Israel is now giving it the edge it has honed in the largest laboratory of ‘field testing’ weapons i.e. Occupied Palestine.
The statement- The catastrophe continues
After 70 years of the Nakba (ethnic cleansing), the Palestinian people continues to suffer from the systematic violations of their rights perpetrated by the State of Israel. We, Latin American, African and Asian solidarity movements with the Palestinian people, repudiate the most recent Israeli massacre which killed more than 12 Palestinian the Occupied Gaza Strip in the last week wounding dozens of others by constant bombardments against the Palestinian population.
Governments and peoples of the world must demand justice against those guilty of these crimes against humanity. The international community can’t remain silent in the face of the genocide of the Palestinian people. We demand that Israel respect the international law and comply with the UN resolutions. Likewise, we demand that our governments break diplomatic and commercial ties with the Israeli racist apartheid regime.
We join the efforts for a military embargo against the State of Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in defense of our own rights and local struggles. If states and companies are globalizing racism and militarization, we are internationalizing our resistance!
Stop apartheid, colonization and occupation. No more genocide against the Palestinian people. For the freedom of political prisoners and the right of return of refugees!
Nigerian activists call for boycott of Israel
Thousands of Nigerian activists have called on the international community to boycott Israel due to its illegal occupation of Palestinian land. At a rally held in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, commemorating 100 years of the Balfour Declaration in which Britain supported the establishment of a Jewish state on Palestinian land, activists called on the United Nations and other global bodies to isolate the Israeli government for abandoning the two-state solution, the Afro-Palestine Newswire reported. The rally, organized by the Muslim Awareness International (MAI) group, also celebrated Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation.
“The international community must prevail on the State of Israel to obey all UN resolutions concerning Palestine,” said Dele Ashiru, one of the speakers at the event. “Israeli belligerence represents both present and future danger for lasting peace in the Middle East and globally. The United States must reverse the declaration and recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Ashiru added.
Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land!
Airbnb decides to remove its listings in Israeli settlements
Airbnb, a short-term apartment rental service, decided to remove its listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that have historically been one of the major stumbling blocks in relations between Israelis and Palestinians. The US-based company’s decision has largely been viewed as a win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which encourages boycotts and other means of pressure against Israel to make the country reassess its Palestinian policy.
Airbnb’s decision to remove any properties situated in illegal Israeli settlements was announced a day before Human Rights Watch (HRW) was due to release a damning report into the company’s complicity in the dispossession of Palestinians. HRW’s 65-page report “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land: Tourist Rental Listings in West Bank Settlements” painted a damning picture of Airbnb’s policy, accusing it and other platforms such as Booking.com of effectively supporting Israel’s illegal settlement policy.
High-ranking Israeli officials have blasted Airbnb’s move to withdraw rental listings for houses in the West Bank, with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin – a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party – demanding that the company’s executives reverse the decision.
Canadian Federation of Students endorses BDS
The CFS resolved to support BDS activity including approving financial donations of up to $500 to any single pro-Palestinian organizations. The organization of more than half-a-million members, which has 64 member unions across Canada, also condemned Israeli “atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza and [reaffirmed] the Federation’s commitment to BDS and anti-war organizing.”
Quakers will not profit from the occupation of Palestine
Quakers in Britain has today become the first church in the UK to announce it will not invest any of its centrally-held funds in companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine.
The decision, made by the church’s trustees in consultation with Meeting for Sufferings – the national representative body of Quakers – fits into a long Quaker history of pursuing ethical investments. It follows decisions not to invest funds in, among others, the fossil fuel industry, arms companies, Apartheid South Africa, and – going even further back – the transatlantic slave trade. Quakers in Britain said: “Our long history of working for a just peace in Palestine and Israel has opened our eyes to the many injustices and violations of international law arising from the military occupation of Palestine by the Israeli government… “With the occupation now in its 51st year, and with no end in near sight, we believe we have a moral duty to state publicly that we will not invest in any company profiting from the occupation. …As Quakers, we seek to live out our faith through everyday actions, including the choices we make about where to put our money…. We believe strongly in the power of legitimate, nonviolent, democratic tools such as morally responsible investment to realise positive change in the world.
Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.