Palestine Update 416
Normalization takes its awkward roots – And the BDS struggles for rights and justice move on
The politics of “normalization” with Arab States by the US and Israel is a deadly cocktail of hypocrisy and political opportunism. Thrown in for good measure, is the total absence of political principles and ethics. UAE and Bahrain are signatories to agreements which have legal responsibilities as third States under international law to take effective action to oppose Israel’s illegal settler-colonial enterprise and other unlawful acts. They have, instead, opted to act in contravention of these responsibilities and embrace inexcusable violations of international law and human rights in the name of geopolitical expediency. In the case of Sudan, it is a case of sheer opportunism. For, just until a week ago, Sudan was in the list of countries who were outlawed by the US for being one of those States that bred and unleashed terror.
Palestinians have lost their capacity to counteract the normalization of relations between Arab states and Israel. This is seemingly the dawn of more agreements to follow. The question being asked by analysts is this: “Will the countries that sign peace deals with Israel be able to sidestep the claims of Palestinians, the original holders of the cause, and come up with a “solution” to the Palestinian issue?” There has been notable escalation in Israeli attacks against Palestinians since the recent normalization agreements signed with Arab states. There has been an intensified expansion of its settlements, demolition of Palestinian homes, the killing and wounding of innocent people, carrying out raids and detention campaigns, and “systematic aggression” on religious institutions.
Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian lands is continuous, and it is accompanied by settlers’ attacks on Palestinian citizens. A report concludes that the Israeli occupation forces opened fire more than 240 times, killing two Palestinians, wounding more than 90 others, detaining more than 480 including children, and demolishing 25 homes and facilities. While the US, Israel, Bahrain, UAE, and Sudan will celebrate a ‘peace deal’, the Palestinians will grieve acute punishment to their status and conditions.
Meanwhile actions to push forward the BDS as the most effective and tolerable form of resistance is meeting with punitive actions. The fascist-occupation alliance is inventing new and more ways to shrink the space for resistance. The cancellation of the Zoom event to be addressed by Leila Khader was no shocker. But if this trend goes unprotected, then tech companies will continue to defer to pro-Israel lobbies. So what happens to dissent; to free speech?
The Gaza Strip has been made into an Israeli combat zone with the decided aim of crushing Palestinian resistance. Israeli weapons, most of which are courtesy of Washington, have for, at least, 14 years turned Gaza into the world’s largest open air prison. “But neither prison nor siege has ended the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Palestinians in Gaza, as elsewhere, are determined to claim their rights no matter how high the price”. (Ramzy and Zarefah Baroud on Gaza’s History of Resistance)
Israel-Sudan deal as Palestinians cry foul
Sudan and Israel agreed Friday to normalize relations in a U.S.-brokered deal to end decades of hostility, which was widely welcomed by a number of Arab states but once again stirred Palestinian anger. The announcement makes Sudan, technically at war with Israel since its 1948 foundation, the fifth Arab country to forge diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. State television in Sudan, which went to war against the Jewish state in 1948 and 1967, after which it hosted the “Three No’s” Arab summit — no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel — said the deal aimed “to end the state of aggression”.
Palestinian leaders strongly condemned the deal, echoing their rejection of Israel’s normalization accords with the UAE and Bahrain signed in Washington last month. “No one has the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause,” it said. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the deal was a “political sin” that benefitted only the Israeli premier. The accord “harms our Palestinian people and their just cause, and even harms the Sudanese national interests,” it said in a statement. “It benefits only Netanyahu.” Israel’s earlier agreements with Bahrain and the UAE broke with longstanding Arab policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and were condemned by the Palestinians as a “betrayal”.
Butler students win BDS victory amid attacks from pro-Israel critics
A big victory at Butler University! The Student Government Association was recently pushed to vote on two Student Senate Resolutions designed to crack down on pro-Palestine activism. The resolutions condemned the BDS movement and embrace the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, a definition that includes some criticisms of Israel. Last night they both failed to pass, with sponsors pulling their support for the measures after hearing Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace members speak before the vote.
After the resolutions were shot down, SJP Butler emailed this statement: Measures which vilify the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as those which equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, must be resisted however and whenever they manifest. Such resistance combats the continued disenfranchisement and silencing of Palestinians. The vicious attempt to stifle Palestinian speech at Butler University is not an isolated event; rather, it is a well-coordinated and heavily-funded disinformation strategy. It is a strategy which denies Palestinian students agency, and prevents the diffusion of critical knowledge on Palestine in order to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine’s purpose and goals. Students for Justice in Palestine chapters challenge the racist, popular narrative surrounding Palestinians in academia, and are therefore invaluable resources both for the student bodies of the campuses they inhabit, and also for Palestinian students as vehicles of empowerment. Despite these deliberate attempts to censor the work of Students for Justice in Palestine at Butler University, we remain steadfast in our commitment to educating our campus on the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.
In short, resolutions that oppose BDS and equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism not only harm Palestinians, but also uphold systems which have historically been used as weapons to silence marginalized voices across the Global South. We must reject and actively oppose such measures, while also reaffirming our commitment to freedom, justice, and equality for all peoples through mass action and popular education, in our communities and throughout our campuses.
The resolution push coincided with a campaign (launched by pro-Israel students and right-wing personalities) to attack an early October event that was sponsored by the Student Government Association and organized by SJP Butler.
US to Label Amnesty, HRW, Oxfam ‘Anti-Semitic’ Organizations
The human rights group Amnesty International responded to reported accusations made earlier by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in which he accused the group, among other organizations, of ‘anti-Semitism’. In a statement issued on Wednesday, October 21, Amnesty described Pompeo’s accusations as “baseless”, and “another attempt to silence and intimidate international human rights organizations”. Secretary Pompeo’s labeling of several non-governmental organizations as ‘anti-Semitic’ could lead to legal action by the US Department of State, resulting in withholding of funds from these organizations.
BDS movement says the US is escalating its relentless war on human rights, justice and the truth
The Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has warned that the US administration is escalating its relentless war on human rights, justice and the truth by planning to label leading international human rights and development organizations anti-Semitic for their criticism of the Israeli occupation. According to a statement by BDS, plans to label major international human rights organizations “anti-Semitic,” cynically conflating criticism of Israeli violations of Palestinian rights with anti-Semitism and undermining the vital fight against real anti-Semitism.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is considering declaring that several prominent international organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, as anti-Semitic and that governments should not support them. “By smearing leading human rights organizations as ‘anti-Semitic,’ the corrupt and increasingly authoritarian Trump Administration is escalating its relentless war on human rights, justice, and the truth. It is also entrenching its criminal partnership with Israel’s far-right regime, including in its desperate attempts to conflate opposition to its occupation and apartheid against Palestinians with anti-Jewish racism,” said BDS in its statement.
In East Jerusalem, the settler project is expanding underground
“Accordingly, Israeli archaeology — which has long served as a staple of Zionist consciousness-making — has become increasingly subject to the ministrations of state and settler factions. These groups are determined to present the narrative of Jewish presence in the land as one of irrefutable millennial ownership, interrupted by an interim period of exile before being restored with the State of Israel’s establishment. In the course of this instrumentalization, archaeology is used to counter the narrative of occupation — and of the Nakba — through action as well as symbolism. Few entities have been as central to this politicization of archaeology as Elad, most notably through its flagship project, the City of David Park.”
Silicon Valley takes on the pro-Palestine left
“It should come as no surprise that a pro-Palestine webinar was the first academic event to be cancelled by Zoom. Palestine solidarity advocates have long been doxxed, denied jobs and platforms, and criminalized for calling for Palestinian liberation. Israeli officials, meanwhile, have long exported police tactics, spy tech, and weaponry that have been tested on Palestinians, and the methods they have directed at Palestinian rights advocates may also be used to crack down on other movements and struggles. In Khaled’s case, Israel and its anti-Palestinian allies used institutional means and social media trolling to pressure Zoom to cancel the event. In the aftermath, pro-Israel media framed the cancelation as the rightful deplatforming of a terrorist. If not held accountable, Zoom and other companies may continue to capitulate to right wing organizations and censor similar progressive events — which is particularly worrying at a time when much academic activity has become reliant on the surging videoconferencing conglomerate.”