ANALYSIS: Boycotting the boycotters (Israeli exceptionalism and banality)

While the international boycott against apartheid South Africa is credited with leading to the regime’s downfall, here it is considered irrelevant and unworthy of comparison.

By Gideon Levy

Most people here are appalled at the notion that anybody beyond Israel’s borders would think to boycott their country, products or universities. Boycotts, after all, are viewed in Israel as illegitimate. Anyone who calls for such a step is perceived as an anti-Semite and Israel-hater who is undermining the state’s very right to exist. In Israel itself, those who call for a boycott are branded as traitors and heretics. The notion that a boycott, limited as it may be, is likely to convince Israel to change its ways – and for its own benefit – is not tolerated here.

Even an obvious, logical step – like the Palestinian Authority’s boycott of products made in the settlements – is viewed by hypocritical Israeli eyes as provocative. Moreover, while the international boycott against apartheid South Africa is credited with leading to the regime’s downfall, here it is considered irrelevant and unworthy of comparison.

It would be possible to identify with these intolerant reactions were it not for the fact that Israel itself is one of the world’s prolific boycotters. Not only does it boycott, it preaches to others, at times even forces others, to follow in tow. Israel has imposed a cultural, academic, political, economic and military boycott on the territories. At the same time, almost no one here utters a dissenting word questioning the legitimacy of these boycotts. Yet the thought of boycotting the boycotter? Now that’s inconceivable.

The most brutal, naked boycott is, of course, the siege on Gaza and the boycott of Hamas. At Israel’s behest, nearly all Western countries signed onto the boycott with inexplicable alacrity. This is not just a siege that has left Gaza in a state of shortage for three years. Nor is it just a complete (and foolish ) boycott of Hamas, save for the discussions over abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. It’s a series of cultural, academic, humanitarian and economic boycotts. Israel threatens nearly every diplomat who seeks to enter Gaza to see firsthand the unbearable sights.

In addition, Israel bars entry to anyone who wishes to lend humanitarian aid. We should note that the boycott isn’t just against Hamas, but against all Gaza, everyone who lives there. The convoy of ships that will soon sail from Europe to try to break the siege will carry thousands of tons of construction material, prefab houses and medicine. Israel has announced that it plans to stop the vessels. A boycott is a boycott.

Doctors, professors, artists, jurists, intellectuals, economists, engineers – none of them are permitted to enter Gaza. This is a complete boycott that bears the tag “Made in Israel.” Those who speak about immoral and ineffective boycotts do so without batting an eye when it comes to Gaza.

Israel is also urging the world to boycott Iran. But it’s not just Gaza and Iran that are at issue here, because entry into Israel and the West Bank is being affected by the recent frenzy of boycotts. Anyone who is suspected of supporting the Palestinians or expressing concern for their lot is boycotted and expelled. This group includes a clown who came to organize a conference; a peace activist who was due to appear at a symposium; and scientists, artists and intellectuals who arouse suspicions that they back the Palestinian cause. This is a cultural and academic boycott on all counts, the type of boycott that we reject when it is used against us.

Yet the anti-boycott country’s list of boycotted parties does not end there. Even a Jewish-American organization like J Street, which defines itself as pro-Israel, has felt the long arm of the Israeli boycott. It is permissible to boycott J Street because it champions peace, but we can’t tolerate a boycott of products made in settlements that were built on usurped land. Denying a visiting professor entry into Gaza for an appearance at a university does not qualify as a boycott, but cutting off ties with Israeli institutions that provide fast-track degree programs for army officers and interrogators in the Shin Bet security service – people who are often viewed around the world as complicit in war crimes – is viewed as verboten.

Yes, an Israeli who lives in Israel will have a hard time preaching to others about the virtues of a boycott when that person does not boycott his or her own country or university. But it is his right to believe that a boycott could compel his government to end the occupation. As long as the Israelis don’t pay any price, there won’t be a change.

This is a legitimate, moral position. It is no less legitimate or moral than those who claim that a boycott is an immoral, ineffective tool while exercising that same option against others. So you oppose a boycott against Israel? Then let’s first do away with all the boycotts we have imposed ourselves.

REF: haaretz

‘All-star team of Israel-haters’ at Norway school raises concern – BRILLANT!!! BOYCOTT ISRAHELL!!!

In a move which Foreign Ministry sources defined as “unusual,” Israel’s embassy in Norway has officially protested the launch of a high profile academic seminar there delivered exclusively by lecturers known for their highly critical views of Israel.

Israel’s Foreign Minister last week described Norway’s attitude toward Israel as “hostile.”

“We were saddened to learn that a biased and one-sided seminar on Israel is taking place at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim,” Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Oslo, Aviad Ivri, wrote last month to the institution’s dean.

The seminar, whose first session took place last month, includes lectures by Ilan Pappe, who accuses Israel of perpetrating an “ethnic cleansing of Palestine” and by Stephen Walt, the coauthor of a controversial study on the effect of the Israel-lobby on U.S. policy. It has been described by prominent scholars as anti-Semitic.

Other speakers invited by NTNU Dean Torbjorn Digernes include Moshe Zuckermann, who in a January interview for Deutschlandradio – a widely-heard German program – said that operation Cast Lead cost hundreds of thousands of Gazan lives.

The members of the seminar’s organizing committee – Morten Levin, Ann Rudinow Saetnan and Rune Skarstein – have all signed a call for an academic boycott of Israel. They also brought a few Norwegian speakers, famous for their critical view of Israel.

“There’s no one on the panel with a neutral view of Israel, let alone anyone to advocate its position,” a source from the Foreign Ministry said. “Usually we do not get involved with academic forums of this sort because it’s a freedom-of-expression issue, but this all-star team of Israel-haters crosses a line,” the diplomat added.

“The overwhelming majority [of Israeli academics] oppose Pappe and Zuckerman and are rarely if ever found in seminars in Norway,” Ivri wrote.

Morten Levin from NTNU – a state-funded institution – replied to Haaretz’s query on the allegations by saying the objective of the lectures is to “communicate to a broad audience a deeper research-based understanding” of the situation.

“This requires a critical and careful scrutiny based on standard scientific methods,” he added. “Neither the Israeli state nor the Palestinian authority or Hamas will be defended. None of the lecturers will question the right of the Israeli state to exist.”

Responding to speculations by pro-Israeli scholars that the seminars will be a prelude to a call on NTNU to boycott Israel, Levin said: “The organizing committee of the lecture series has no formal connection whatsoever to the organization working for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

The university’s dean – who has called the seminar “praiseworthy” – did not reply to Haaretz’s request to interview him.

Tammi Benjamin, an American university lecturer from California, has called on NTNU Dean Digernes “to profoundly apologize to his students for misleading them and for supporting known hate mongers against the Jewish state.” Ronnie Fraser, a veteran U.K. activist against academic boycotts of Israel, has called on Digernes to resign.

Ref: Haaretz

BOYCOTT ISRAEL – Stopping the Apartheid State

Israeli newspapers this summer are filled with angry articles about the push for an international boycott of Israel. Films have been withdrawn from Israeli film festivals, Leonard Cohen is under fire around the world for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv, and Oxfam has severed ties with a celebrity spokesperson, a British actress who also endorses cosmetics produced in the occupied territories. Clearly, the campaign to use the kind of tactics that helped put an end to the practice of apartheid in South Africa is gaining many followers around the world. Not surprisingly, many Israelis — even peaceniks — aren’t signing on. A global boycott inevitably elicits charges – however specious – of anti-Semitism. It also brings up questions of a double standard (why not boycott China for its egregious violations of human rights?) and the seemingly contradictory position of approving a boycott of one’s own nation.

It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel. But today, as I watch my two boys playing in the yard, I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself.

I say this because Israel has reached a historic crossroads, and times of crisis call for dramatic measures. I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country’s future.

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews — whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel — are citizens of the state of Israel.

The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.

There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal.

The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.

The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state.

Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, “on the ground,” the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.

Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1 per cent of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.
For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren’t citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories.

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organizations from all over the world formulated the 10-point Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign meant to pressure Israel in a “gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity.” For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel in order to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not.

Nothing else has worked. Putting massive international pressure on Israel is the only way to guarantee that the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians — my two boys included — does not grow up in an apartheid regime.

Ref: counterpunch

Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and author of Israel’s Occupation (University of California Press, 2008). He can be contacted through his website, http://www.israelsoccupation.info.

Dubai, jewel in Israel’s sales crown

With the exception of Egypt, all Arab states officially boycott Israel, blacklist Israeli companies and ban imports of Israeli products. The same countries frequently lead the voices calling for sanctions against Israel. But sometimes life gets in the way.

Just a few weeks after the world financial crisis broke, a super-luxury hotel, the Atlantis, opened its doors in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The French chatter website LePost.fr of 21 November 2008 trumpeted the headline: “2000 stars at the inauguration of Dubai’s Atlantis Hotel”. It wrote:

“Dubai, Dubai, Dubai! Arab princes, flying carpets, oil, dollars… and the Atlantis Hotel! An extraordinary palace, which cost more than $1.9bn to create, celebrated its opening yesterday in high style.

“This little junket cost a trifling $38m! That’s what it took to tell the entire world about the arrival of a luxury hotel which sees itself as the planet’s most incredible palace, with its giant in-house aquarium…

“The Atlantis is at the heart of Dubai’s Palm Island, an artificial island built in the shape of a palm tree. The world’s greatest architects and designers worked on the Pharaonic project.”

Like the hotel itself, the event bore all the hallmarks of mad money climaxing a spendthrift era. You need only to walk down its vast corridors, as I did earlier this month, to realise just how foolish an exercise this is, what bad taste it represents, and of course that it’s very empty. The expected tourists vanished with the crisis.

The corridors bulge with luxury boutiques, the sort of shops which sell priceless clothes and diamond jewels. One of them is called Levant. Its display cases promote Leviev diamonds.

But just who is Leviev? Abe Hayeem, who is from Bombay, of Iraqi Jewish origin, knows. He wrote an article headlined “Boycott this Israeli settlement builder” in The Guardian of 28 April 2009. Hayeem points out that the British Foreign Office decided to cancel its rental contract for the British Embassy in Tel Aviv because the building was owned by Leviev.

Far from only selling diamonds, Leviev is busy inside the occupied territories, principally constructing a road which links the illegal settler colony of Zufim, which he owns, to Israel – part of the ongoing process of confiscating Palestinian land. His company is also active in Bil’in where, on 17 April, the Israeli army killed a peaceful protestor, Bassem Abu Rahmeh, 29. This same company now has two boutique outlets in Dubai.

Their presence in the UAE has raised eyebrows. On 30 April 2008 an article by Abbas al-Lawati in Gulf News, the English-language daily, headed “Israeli jeweller has no trade licence to open shop in Dubai”, quoted a top official denying that the UAE had ever granted Leviev a licence and saying that if an application came it would be rejected.

Gulf News followed up the story on several occasions, including one report of demos against Leviev, “Call to boycott Israeli jeweller” on 14 December 2008, also by al-Lawati.

During the Dubai Arab Media Forum meeting I attended in May I raised the issue with journalists from various Arabic-language dailies. They told me they were not allowed to reply to such questions.

At a time when Israel violates with impunity all the UN Security Council resolutions, a growing movement calls for sanctions, boycotts and disinvestment (withdrawing overseas investment from Israel and the occupied territories). It’s similar to the French campaign against Alstom and Veolia for their role in a tram project in occupied Jerusalem “Tramway à Jérusalem, mensonge à Paris”, 24 October 2007. It’s astounding, in the circumstances, that Arab countries collaborate with the very same companies which operate in the occupied territories.

France’s trade minister Christine Lagarde visited Saudi Arabia in mid-May principally to promote the bid by Alstom and the SNCF for a TGV-type fast rail link between Mecca and Media. One must hope that the Saudi authorities make it a condition of any agreement that Alstom backs out of the Jerusalem tram project.

Ref: Le MOnde

FIGHT ISRAHELL: I HEART GAZA CAMPAIGN /// RAISING MONEY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN PALESTINE

BOYCOTT ISRAEL: products that are associated with the apartheid state of Israhell

A reminder why…

Four-year-old Samar Abed Rabbu is a little girl with a captivating smile to melt the heart of the most hardened correspondent.

When we first came across her in the hospital in the Egyptian town of El-Arish, just over the border from Gaza, she was playing with an inflated surgical glove beneath the covers.

The doctors had puffed air into the glove, trying to distract her from the further pain More.. they had to inflict inserting a drip.

Samar had been shot in the back at close range. The bullet damaged her spine, and she is unlikely to walk again.

At her bedside, her uncle Hassan told us the family had been ordered out of their home by Israeli soldiers who were shelling the neighbourhood.

A tank had parked in front of the house, where around 30 people were taking shelter.

The women and children – mother, grandmother and three little girls – came out waving a white flag and then, he said, an Israeli soldier came out of the tank and opened fire on the terrified procession.

Samar’s two sisters, aged seven and two, were shot dead. The grandmother was hit in the arm and in the side, but has survived.

Young victims

One of the most alarming features of the conflict in Gaza is the number of child casualties. More than 400 were killed. Many had shrapnel or blast injuries sustained as the Israeli army battled Hamas militants in Gaza’s densely populated civilian areas.

But the head of neurosurgery at the El-Arish hospital, Dr Ahmed Yahia, told me that brain scans made it clear that a number of the child victims had been shot at close range.

Samar’s uncle said the soldier who had shot his niece was just 15m (49ft) away. ”How could they not see they were shooting at children?” he asked.

When we finally got into Gaza, we tried to investigate further.

Finding a house, even with an address, in a neighbourhood that has been bombed into oblivion, where all landmarks have been obliterated and even the locals cannot find their bearings, is not easy.

But we eventually met a man who knew Samar’s family and took us to the family house, or what was left of it.

The four-storey building has been concertinaed to the ground.

Father’s agony

Khalid Abed Rabbu wears on his face all the pain of Israel’s bloody three-week campaign in Gaza. In his hand he carried the teddy bear that had belonged to his daughter, Samar’s six-year-old sister.

Its head had been blown off, apparently in the same burst of gunfire that had cut his daughter in half.

He described the events of that night almost identically to his brother. There were minor discrepancies, but he too believes his daughters were shot in cold blood.

“There were soldiers leaning against the tank eating crisps,” he said. “But then one of them jumped down and walked towards the house with an M16 automatic rifle.”

He showed me a photo of his eldest daughter under shrouds in the mortuary.

“What has my family done to Israel,” he cried. “What has Samar done to deserve all this pain?”

We have put the family’s allegations to the Israelis. So far they have told us that they can not comment on specific cases.

Their spokesman said they had made every effort to limit civilian casualties but were fighting a terrorist organisation that often uses the civilian population as cover.

Troubled neighbourhood

The Israelis say is evidence that on many occasions when civilians were killed their troops had been responding to incoming fire.

There are reports of the neighbourhood where the family lived, known as Ezbat Abed Rabbu, had been used by militant fighters in the past. During an incursion in the spring of 2008 the Israelis took over Khalid’s house for two days.

But Khalid insists he is not Hamas, he is not a fighter. He said he worked for the Palestinian Authority and is a member of Fatah, Hamas’s political rivals.

“There were no fighters here,” he added, picking up crisp bags printed with Hebrew lettering that the soldiers seemed to have left behind. “Do you think soldiers eat crisps sitting on their tanks when there is incoming fire?”

Samar’s father and her uncle have not spoken to each other since she left Gaza for treatment in Egypt, yet in separate interviews they told us the three girls were outside the house, in plain view, when they were shot.

We toured the part of Jabaliya where the Abed Rabbus lived. In an area that must cover at least a square mile, there are no houses left – no mosques, no factories and no orchards. The entire neighbourhood has been devastated.

It may be true that fighters were hiding in the alleys of Jabaliya. It is possible that rockets were being fired from here towards Israel.

But for the people who lived here, this is a story of wanton destruction. The world must now decide whether the Israeli action here was justified under the rules of war

ref: BBC

FIGHT ISRAEL; FAX ISRAEL!!!!

After the successful email campaign, it’s time to move to the next level: calling some of the war criminals.

Objectives of this campaign are as follows:

    1. Bombard their phone/mobile/fax lines with anti-war, anti-Zionist messages. This can be in the form of calls, faxes or even sms’s;
    2. Waste the time of these war criminals as much as possible. Some of them are doing nothing else but jumping on the TV screens to spread lies and hatred. They justify killing Palestinian children and civilians;
    3. Directly delivering to them the message that we are disgusted by what they are doing and they should stop now;
    4. Show them the magnitude of support that Palestinians have after the world witnessed their war crimes in Gaza.

(For privacy reasons, we don’t want the IOF to record your email, IP address, ISP, country, etc and track you down and maybe hack your PC or something worse. Therefore, don’t use your original email account to contact them. To overcome this, you can send them ANONYMOUS emails. This way they can’t track you or find any info about the sender (you). USE THIS SERVICE)

Let’s start with war criminal, Mark Regev, International Media Adviser to the Prime Minister.

His MOBILE number is: +972-5-0620-3264 and his office number is +972-2670-5354
If you like to follow your call/sms with an email, use this one:
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

Second war criminal, Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence.
His MOBILE number is +972-5-0629-8148, office number is +972-3697-5339, fax number is +972-2670-5602
As before, if you like to follow it up with an email, use this:
mediasar@mod.gov.il

Third war criminal is Major Liebovitz from the Israeli Navy
Her MOBILE number is +972-5-781-86248
(Sorry, I could not find his email. If you have it, please share it to update this post.)

If you know or come across any mobile number* of any Israeli war criminal, please send it to (haitham.sabbah@gmail.com) so that I can update the list here. Meanwhile, you can bombard the top war criminal, Olmert and his office assistance, managers, spokesperson, etc… Please visit the following page to select the name that you like to play with and pick his/her office number and/or fax number.
http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/PM+Office/Contacts/

Note: To call or fax any in the above list, remove the “zero” and add +972 (Israel Int’l code) before the number. (Example: Ehud Olmert’s phone number is 02-670-5555 will become +972-2-670-555, fax number is 02-670-5475 will become +972-2-670-5475)

I suggest that you put your feelings on paper either by drawing or as a letter (in any language, in fact using other than English language will keep them busier and waste more of their time, which we want) and fax it to the maximum fax numbers you find there, but phone calls are still very important if you can.

More? Yes, you can do more. Call or fax the current Knesset members. Go to the following link, select any name and you will find their phone and fax numbers. Again, to call or fax any, remove the “zero” and add +972 before the number. (Example: Benjamin Netanyahu (a.k.a. Bibi the butcher!) phone: 02-6408456 will become +972-2-6408456 and his fax number is 02-6496659 which becomes +972-2-6496659)

Knesset members:
http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mkindex_current_eng.asp?view=0

Also Knesset Directory (add +9722 before the numbers you find here):
http://www.knesset.gov.il/description/eng/eng_directory.htm

To: The Israeli Ministry of Defense, Fax: +972-3-697-6717
To: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax +972-2-5303367

Last but not least, share a copy of your fax with others. Please post your fax on this flickr group:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/fax-israel/

PS. Feel free to do the same with any and all pro-Israel war on Gaza. You can start with:

White House (although they are busy backing up there files, but we can only hope that Obama will get something to read and learn about on his first day in office):
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

The Congress (which justed gave Israel new green light to kill kids and women of Gaza):
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Be creative! Search for the contacts of your government official’s website and contact them. Save Gaza!

Remember, Silence is Complicity!

* Israeli mobile numbers start with the following codes:
9725 Israel-Mobile
9726 Israel-Mobile
97251 Israel-Mobile
97253 Israel-Mobile
97255 Israel-Mobile
97256 Israel-Mobile
97258 Israel-Mobile
97252 Israel-Mobile-Cellcom
97257 Israel-Mobile-Mirs
97254 Israel-Mobile-Partner
97250 Israel-Mobile-Pelephone
Source: http://www.nstelcom.com/support/codes_il.htm