Please read an open letter to the Anti-War Movement by the members of RAHA Iranian Feminist Collective and the members of Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression
FROM PALESTINE TO NYC
CHECKPOINTS = TOOL OF SUPPRESSION
Fast Facts about checkpoints in the West Bank:
- 522 roadblocks and checkpoints obstruct Palestinian movement in the West Bank, compared to 503 in July 2010.
- So far in 2011, an additional 495 ad-hoc ‘flying’ checkpoints obstructed movement around the West Bank each month (on average), compared to 351 in the past two years.
- 200,000 people from 70 villages are forced to use detours between two to five times longer than the direct route to their closest city due to movement restrictions.
- One or more of the main entrances are blocked to Palestinian traffic in ten out of eleven major West Bank cities.
- Palestinians holding West Bank IDs require entry permits to enter East Jerusalem and are limited to using four of the 16 checkpoints along the Barrier.
- 62 percent of the Barrier is completed, with 80 percent of the Barrier route built inside the West Bank, with highly limited access to areas behind the Barrier.
- Four of the five roads into the Jordan Valley are not accessible to most Palestinian vehicles.
- Almost 80 percent of land in the Jordan Valley is off-limits to Palestinians, with the land designated for Israeli settlements, ‘firing zones’ and ‘nature reserves.’
- 122 closure obstacles shut off the Old City of Hebron from the rest of the city.
- Palestinian access to their private land around 55 Israeli settlements is highly restricted.
This information is from the September 2011 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report “Movement and Access in the West Bank.”
IDF, NYPD – Enforcing Inequality!
Join us at the Free University for Occupy Wall Street, Not Palestine: The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement to End Israeli Apartheid
Where: Free University at Madison Square Park, pool area
When: Saturday, September 22, 12 pm to 2 pm
What: Discussion of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. Members of Global Justice will elucidate how and why this global call from Palestinian civil society groups fits within the parameters of the Occupy movement. Representatives from local Palestine solidarity groups will give an overview of the BDS movement—its goals, history, strategies, and analysis. And finally local activists working on specific boycott and divestment campaigns will highlight their successes and challenges. Please bring your questions and concerns and join us for this important discussion.
Madison Square Park is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and 23rd and 26th Streets.
For more information about the Free University, visit freeuniversitynyc.org.
Land rights, labor, and violence in a Cairo slum (Tom Dale and Abdulkasim al-Jaberi, Egypt Independent, 15 July). Five-year-old Bulaq resident Amar Mohammed Salah is killed in a fire after staff at the adjacent Nile City Towers luxury development refuse to turn on water taps for Bulaq’s fire hose. (For earlier reporting on Bulaq, see Egypt Weekend Reading 7 July.)
Firsthand account: inside Ramlet Bulaq on the day of the clashes (Egypt Independent, 5 August). Continued coverage from Tom Dale and Abdulkasim al-Jaberi on Bulaq residents’ struggle against intimidation, neglect, and dispossession. Bulaq resident Amr Fathi is reportedly shot dead by a Nile City Mall tourism police officer after demanding overdue payment for his work as a temporary security guard. Protesting residents face gunfire, tear gas, and media spin.
A tale of towers and shacks (Mohamed Elshahed, Egypt Independent, 12 August). Crucial commentary on Bulaq that puts recent events in the context of Bulaq’s history and the larger issues of “the severe inequality sanctioned by the government in matters of urban development, the failure of emergency response mechanisms, and the narratives that dominate the media to fill the vacuum of fact-finding and comprehensive legal investigations.”
Save Bulaq General Hospital (Cairo Observer, 5 May).
Revolution of the thirsty (Karen Piper, Design Observer Group, 12 July). On water scarcity and privatization, Cairo’s luxury suburban developments, and the role of informal settlement residents in the revolution.
More recent news on Egypt has been dominated by 8 August attacks in the Sinai and President Morsi’s 12 August announcement of changes to the constitution and to the military staff. On The Arabist, Issandr El Amrani gives a useful summary and early thoughts on both these unexpected events: The Morsi maneuver: a first take (12 August) and On the attacks in Sinai (6 August). Unsurprisingly, US and Egyptian officials have accelerated talks on US assistance for “military equipment, police training, and electronic and aerial surveillance”: After Sinai attack, US and Egypt step up talks on security (11 August).
- U.K. slams Israel with stiff upper lip: Not all Palestinian kids are potential terrorists. Amira Hass reports on a critical study by British jurists on the treatment of Palestinian children in the hands of the Israeli forces in the west bank.
- Gideon Levy reports on water apartheid in the west bank, followed by Amira Hass’s report on the control of water as a tool for enforcement of the occupation.
- Amira Hass reports on the antisemitic pogroms in the West Bank that go unnoticed and unreported, and maps out a single month’s atrocities.
- Racist stereotypes in legal proceedings: Israeli authorities claim that Jawaher Abu Rhamah’s death after a tear gas attack in Bil’in needs not be investigated because her family arranged the funeral “ with relative quiet, without the agitation they tend to display for ‘shahids’.”
- Israel orders demolition of 8 Palestinian villages.
- While the Palestinian village of Susya faces the threat demolition once again, the Israeli defense ministry threatens to call the police to intervene against activists overwhelming it with faxes calling for a halt to the demolition order.
- A new regulation that will exclude many Palestinians and migrant workers from seeking justice in the Israeli court system will go into effect next month. When basic human rights are considered mere privileges, they can be doled out selectively, based on legal status, which in Israel often corresponds to national identity.
- Some Israeli #J14 activists have openly refused to serve in the IDF. Their refusal is a response to the breach of the social contract between the Israeli state and its (Jewish) citizens. Although this act of civil disobedience is not an ethical protest of Israeli military policy and practice in Palestine, hopefully it does deepen the cracks in Israeli society’s uncritical embrace of its military forces.
July 17 was a multi-city day of action for the national We Divest campaign demanding pension-giant TIAA-CREF divest from all companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Activists–including members of OWS Global Justice–were out on the streets in front of TIAA-CREF headquarters in NYC for the annual shareholders meeting. They were also inside the meeting, where CEO Richard Ferguson acknowledged that the We Divest campaign influenced TIAA-CREF’s decision to drop Caterpillar from its Social Choice fund, and that they will be monitoring developments in the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005.
VIDEO: Although midday temperatures were close to 100 F, the NYC protest, organized by Adalah-NY, was spirited, with a choreographed divestment dance, T-I-A-A-CREF (to the tune of “YMCA”).
The We Divest day of action came as the global BDS movement enters its seventh year. To mark the occasion, Palestinian BDS activists took this look back at highlights from the movement’s rapid growth across the past two years.
In the United States, the votes on divestment resolutions within the Methodist, and then Presbyterian, churches have been a recent focal point. Anna Baltzer, in her article “The Pendulum Swings and New Era Has Begun,” analyzes the victories and challenges at the Presbyterian Church General Assembly, and Abe Greenhouse, also reflecting on the politics of representation, looks at the role of anti-divestment organizers in the vote, concluding that liberal Zionist groups J Street and Americans for Peace Now, both of which have shown themselves willing to partner with rightwing groups to fight BDS measures, are the biggest losers.
Another recent victory getting mainstream media attention has been Abigail Disney’s public disownment of her share of profits from the Disney family fund’s investment in Israeli company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, which since 2009 has been the target of the Stolen Beauty boycott campaign. Disney’s disclaiming of her shares follows on a flurry of setbacks for Ahava, which Stolen Beauty campaign manager and OWS Global Justice member Nancy Kricorian just recently wrote about on this blog.
Alon Liel, the former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, also made headlines recently when he publicly expressed support for the South African policy to apply different labeling to settlement products and endorsed the academic boycott of the Ariel (settlement) University Center.
More broadly, there just seems to be more space for public discussion of what’s happening in Palestine. An image of the shrinking map of Palestine is up at a prominent Metronorth commuter platform, and Henry Clifford, whose email is on the billboard, told Mondoweiss, “I’ve been plowing this field for many years and I am absolutely astounded by the response I’ve received, and the news coverage…We’ve been begging for coverage for years. Now it’s pouring in.” He noted that CBS, Fox News, NBC and many radio stations contacting him for interviews and that “the questions were fair ones.”
And people seem more likely to see through the anti-semitism smear that is routinely trotted out against those critical of Israel. When Armin Rosen accused Mondoweiss, and specifically contributor Alex Kane, of anti-semitism in The Atlantic, not only did readers reject the claim (as evident in the top-ranked comments), but The Atlantic‘s own Robert Wright denounced Rosen’s piece as McCarthyite and issued an apology to Kane. Mondoweiss’s Alex Kane, Adam Horowitz, and Philip Weiss also issued their own response to Rosen’s smear, noting that “this [wasn't] the first time Rosen has offered himself as an attack dog. He distinguished himself during his time in a joint Jewish Theological Seminary/Columbia University program by being an especially shrill voice in the campaigns to deny Joseph Massad tenure at Columbia.” Other Columbia professors Rosen has targerted, they note, include Mahmood Mamdani and Hamid Dabashi.
Writing for Electronic Intifada, Benjamin Doherty pointed out that while the round of condemnation of Rosen’s smear against Mondoweiss is commendable, there’s still a long ways to go: Palestinians continue to be excluded from new media and don’t receive the same protection from smears of anti-semitism–as evident, for example, in how few people spoke out against the McCarthyite campaign against Joseph Massad.
Another #fail for the suppression of Palestine solidarity came in the courtrooms: a judged ruled that the five Olympia Food Co-op members who had tried to sue the co-op after it voted to boycott Israeli goods would themselves have to pay $160,000 in damages. Their lawsuit, which was backed in part by the far-right Zionist group Stand With Us and the Israeli Consulate of the Pacific Northwest, had previously been ruled to be an illegal Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Partcipation.
Plus, two more picks for further thought and inspiration:
What Is Settler Colonialism? by Maya Mikdashi, on Jadaliyya.
Powerful photoblog of sumud (steadfastness) in Susiya. By Lazar Simeonov, on al-Akhbar English.
Update (12:20 PM July 23): On Alternet, Anna Lekas Miller looks at the We Divest campaign and the shifting tides of public discourse on Palestine in her recent article “Crushed Homes, Violent Killings: Why the Boycott Israel Movement Is Pushing into the Mainstream.”
By Nancy Kricorian
Since 2009, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics firm with its factory and visitors center in an illegal West Bank settlement, has been the subject of an international boycott campaign because of its violations of international law. Ahava means love in Hebrew, but there is nothing loving about the company’s occupation profiteering. The Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign scored its first big press hit a few months after launch when starlet Kristen Davis was suspended from publicity work as an Oxfam Goodwill Ambassador for the duration of her contract as Ahava’s spokesmodel. One of the other major victories of the campaign came in the September 2011 when Ahava’s flagship store in London lost its lease because of eighteen months of bi-weekly protests outside the shop.
Ahava is a privately held company. Two of the co-owners are illegal Israeli colonies—Mitzpe Shalem, where the factory is located, and Kalia, another settlement on the shores of the Dead Sea—both of which are subsidized by the company’s profits. (Approximately 37% of the company is held by Mitzpe Shalem, 37% by Hamashbir Holdings, 18.5% by Shamrock Holdings and 7.5% by Kalia.)
Not only does Ahava have its manufacturing plant in the Occupied West Bank, but it also excavates mud from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea. This sourcing of mud is forbidden under international law as ‘pillage’ and ‘plunder’ of occupied natural resources. In addition, Ahava labels its goods as “Product of Israel” when they are made in the Occupied Palestinian territories. This fraudulent labeling has been the subject of inquiry in the U.K., the Netherlands, France and South Africa.
Since the beginning of this year Ahava’s brand has been further tarnished by bad publicity and a series of international setbacks. In January of 2012 a group of prominent U.K. academics and intellectuals denounced Ahava’s collaboration in an E.U.-funded research project. In February 2012, the company lost its Japanese distributor because of controversy surrounding Ahava’s illegal practices. In April, Norway’s Vita chain announced it would no longer stock Ahava products. In May the United Methodist Church voted to boycott Israeli settlement products, and in July the Presbyterian Church (USA) followed suit, specifically naming Ahava in its settlement boycott resolution. Also in May of this year, Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace released a new investigative report entitled, “Ahava: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Products.” Around the same time, South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry announced new labeling rules for Israeli settlement goods; Ahava was mentioned by name as a company whose goods were fraudulently labeled as “Product of Israel” when their place of origin is the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Only last week a prominent U.K. jurist presented an opinion paper stating that it was legal for the U.K. and the E.U. to ban Israeli settlement products, a position that suggests further scrutiny of Ahava’s participation in an E.U.-funded nanotechnology research project. Just a few days ago, 250 European academics released an open letter calling for the exclusion of Ahava and Israeli arms firms from E.U. funded research projects.
The Stolen Beauty campaign is a part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in support of Palestinian rights.
Nancy Kricorian is the campaign manager for the Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott and she is a member of the Occupy Wall Street Global Justice Working Group. (She is also a New York City-based novelist.)
This just in, through +972 – Judiciary panel appointed by Netanyahu concludes: There is no occupation:
“A panel formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has concluded that Israel is entitled to settle the West Bank with Jews. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, claims that Israel’s control over the West Bank cannot be seen as “occupation” since no country has recognized sovereignty over the territory. Therefore, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prevents the transfer of a civilian population by an occupying force into the occupied territory, does not apply to the West Bank. Justice Levy recommends that the Israeli government end the temporary status of the settlements and register the settlers’ control over the territory.”
In other news:
- Amira Hass reports on the Palestinian Authority’s repression of popular protest against the humiliation of PA’s obsequious security cooperation with the Israeli occupation.
- An Israeli Knesset committee has decided to extend a law exempting security forces from documenting investigations of terror suspects. This further erodes any possibility for domestic or international oversight and criticism of Israel’s treatment of “suspects of security offenses” – i.e. Palestinians.
- From the Israeli military’s perspective, the violence in Syria heralds the possibility of another war in Lebanon. According to a senior IDF officer: Israel is preparing for the next Lebanon war. One should wonder how this increased preparedness will affect the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Lebanon.
- Israeli “non-occupation” authorities in the West Bank are once again threatening the Palestinian residents of Susya with demolition and eviction, following a high court ruling. Resistance activists have been rallying to defend the village, including last week when 2 Israeli solidarity activists were arrested for spraying over settlers’ anti-Arab graffiti, which called for ethnic cleansing, with their own pro-peace graffiti, calling for the liberation of Susya. Rabbis for human rights provide some background on the origin of the expulsion in Susya.
The Israeli social justice #J14 protest movement is getting some attention from activists abroad:
- M15 Indignados have published this letter from Spain to #J14.
- Following up on some advice presented to the Israeli protest movement by fellow OWS organizer, I published this challenge to the Israeli activists: Will you stand with the Palestinians?
Gearing up for the Tuesday panel + discussion on US complicity in SCAF’s repression of the ongoing Egyptian revolution and how more than thirty years of US military and economic intervention has violated Egypt’s sovereignty and locked it in a web of international debt . . .
The revolution continues. Hossam El-Hamalawy on the Muslim Brotherhood stuck between SCAF and the people + how the Revolutionary Socialists can navigate the contradiction. (“Morsi, SCAF, and the Revolutionary Left,” Jadaliyya, 1 July)
On the ground in Umm ed-Dunya. After refusing to sell homes to developers, poor Cairenes living in prime downtown location face police-backed dispossession. (“Cairo’s Central Slums under Threat,” Tom Dale & Abdulkasim al-Jaberi, Egypt Independent, 5 July)
US military aid vs. US soft power. Shadi Hamid tries to persuade his Beltway readers that cutting military aid to Egypt is in the best interest of the United States; his case is all about US soft power and says nothing of the Egyptians’ own demand for the same (in fact suggests Egyptians will be irked), but if you’re going to a DC cocktail party . . . plus it includes a link to a February 2012 Foreign Policy article (by Shana Marshall) full of information on how the aid subsidizes US arms manufacturers. (“The Real Reason the US Should Consider Cutting Military Aid to Egypt,” the Atlantic, 2 July)
US military aid and US complicity. Condemnation of US military aid from the solidarity point of view. This press release from after National Lawyers Guild members returned from a fact-finding mission to Egypt is posted on our blog previously, but if you haven’t read it yet, do . . . NLG members will be speaking about what they saw–and what we in the US can do–at Tuesday’s panel. (“National Lawyers Guild Delegation Returns from Egypt with Evidence of Systematic Human Rights Abuses, Calls for Transparency and Accountability from US Government,” press release, 28 June)
US military aid and Egypt’s state budget. A look at current draft bills in the US Congress proposing conditions on US’s annual $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt. The skinny: alongside the unsurprising requirement that Egypt provide proof it is upholding the terms of its 1979 treaty with Israel, the Senate draft of the bill calls for the full repeal of the Emergency Law and full disclosure of Egypt’s not-so-transparent security budget–though the US Secretary of State can of course waive any of these requirements should they be reckoned to harm US interests. (“US Senate Bill Conditions Egypt Aid on Full Disclosure of Security Budget,” Ahram Online, 4 July)
Revolutionary laughter. Hadear Kandil reports on the recent Brooklyn, NY, performance of Egyptian political satirist Bassem Youssef. (“For Expatriate Egyptians, Some Comic Relief,” Voices of NY, 5 July)
What are your favorite recent readings on Egypt? Please share your suggestions in the comments below! And please join us Tuesday July 10 for the important report back on Egypt organized by the NYC Coalitions to Defend the Egyptian Revolution and National Lawyers Guild International Committee.
Increasingly, children are being used as pawns and targeted by violence, killing, arrest and detention, as a matter of policy, in places like…
A child arrested, held in custody for over a month and made to stand trial for “participating in an illegal gathering”. Bahrain Court Orders Monitoring for 11-Year-Old
The occupied Palestinian Territories –
An IDF soldier grabs a 9-year-old Palestinian child and holds him while another soldier comes up and kicks the child in the back before letting him go.
What: A street action with songs, music, dancing, and chants calling on TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli occupation of Palestine
When: Tuesday, July 17, 12:30 – 2:30 PM
Where: TIAA-CREF headquarters in New York – 730 3rd Ave (between 45th and 46th Sts)
Why: Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has made a historic decision to divest $72.9 million of Caterpillar stock from their Social Choice fund. But this is only the beginning! TIAA-CREF still invests over $900 million in Caterpillar in other portfolios. In addition, its Social Choice fund contains investments in Motorola Solutions, which developed the surveillance and communications systems for use in illegal Israeli settlements and the apartheid wall, and Hewlett-Packard, which owns the biometric monitoring system used in Israeli military checkpoints, provides data storage solutions for illegal Israeli settlements, and coordinates information technology for the Israeli Navy. TIAA-CREF also continues to hold onto its investments in Elbit, Veolia, Northrup Grumman, and Africa Israel, all of which are complicit in the illegal Israel occupation of Palestine.
On July 17, OWS Global Justice will join Adalah-NY and allies during the TIAA-CREF shareholders’ meeting to demand that TIAA-CREF live up to its motto “For the Greater Good” and divest from all its holdings in companies profiting from the violation of international law and Palestinian human rights.
Organized by Adalah-NY.
Endorsed by Brooklyn For Peace; Existence Is Resistance; International Socialist Organization; Jewish Voice for Peace – NY; Jewish Voice for Peace – Westchester; Jews Say No!; New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership; OWS Global Justice Working Group; Queers Against Israeli Apartheid; Siegebusters; WESPAC Foundation; Women in Black, Union Square (list in formation).