ISRAHELL: (only) Two IDF soldiers charged with using 9-year-old ‘human shield’ in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces prosecution on Thursday filed an indictment against two combat soldiers suspected of inappropriate conduct during Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in 2008.

The soldiers, who served as staff sergeants in the Givati Brigade during Operation Cast Lead, allegedly forced a 9-year-old Palestinian boy to open a number of bags they thought might contain explosive materials. The bags turned out to be harmless.

The soldiers, who breached the army’s rule against using civilians as human shields during war, will be tried for violating their authority and for inappropriate conduct. An Israeli military official said the soldiers could face up to three years in jail.

The incident in question occurred in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood in south Gaza City in January 2009, toward the end of the war.

The military said it opened the investigation after the incident was brought to its attention by the United Nations, but emphasised it was “completely unrelated” to a report issued by United Nations investigator Richard Goldstone.

Israel has said it opened 36 criminal investigations into complaints of improper conduct by its troops during the fighting with Hamas gunmen, much of which occurred in residential areas.

Last month a senior Israeli field officer in the Gaza war was reprimanded over artillery shelling in a heavily populated area that hit a United Nations compound during the fighting.

IDF court releases soldier convicted of beating Palestinian

In a separate incident earlier Thursday, the military court ordered the release of Adam Malul, an IDF officer convicted in December on charges of aggravated assault and conduct unbecoming an officer after hitting a Palestinian in the West Bank.

In sentencing the officer, 1st Lt. (res.) Adam Malul of the Kfir infantry brigade, the court ruled that he had already served a sufficient punishment after spending 64 days in jail and a further 32 days under house arrest.

The court also rejected a request by the prosecution to demote Malul to the rank of private.

Malul was convicted in of hitting a man while making an arrest in the West Bank village of Kadum in September 2008.

In its December verdict, the court rejected testimony by a former commander of the Kfir infantry brigade, Col. Itai Virob, and a former commander of the Shimshon unit, Lt. Col. Shimon Harush, in which they justified hitting Palestinian detainees under exceptional circumstances.

Malul’s family has said that the trial was a smear campaign against him and accused the court of scape-goating him while acquitting his superiors.

During his trial, Malul testified that he was not ashamed of hitting the Palestinian man, saying, “It was what I had to do”.

However, GOC Central Command Gadi Shamni testified during the military trial that IDF soldiers were not authorized to attack Palestinian civilians during arrest raids, adding that those who cross the army’s “red lines” must be put to trial.

Shamni added that the IDF never authorized the use of such aggression during questioning of detainees.

Ref: Haaretz

VIDEO: Watch the “anti-Israeli” turkish TV-shows that displays Israel as it is!

“First time a TV series shows the ongoing, bleeding wound of the world which is taking place on Palestinian lands. It shows the painful stories of the people who lived on invaded Palestinian lands in 1948, especially women and children.”

The show aired this week on Turkey’s state-run TRT-1 network. It shows an actor dressed as an Israeli soldier shooting an unarmed Palestinian girl. In another sequence, an Israeli soldier opens fire on an infant being held by a family member.”


This falls into the Israeli doctrine that NOBODY (= person, organization or country) should or must display the impacts that the Israeli apartheid regime and aggressive militarism have upon

the Palestinians. Giving these circumstances attention is the same as being racist towards Israel. The Israeli reactions toward their systematically organ theft written by the swedish newspaper Aftonbladet is a part in case. The truth all the time, which was very known in Israel, was that this had happend and happends. Israel is a notorious ORGAN TRAFFICKING COUNTRY! But the truth does not matter to a country so indoctrinated by the ideology of zionism. Israel is just like nazi-German.

Read about how Israel demand to be an actor in Turkish domestic politics by humiliating the Turkish Israeli ambassador!

Humiliation is not a policy

Turkish public won’t forgive Israel’s insult

Turkey PM: Israel’s apology is satisfactory

FOCUS: OPINION What Goldstone says about the US

Opponents of the Goldstone report might well be hoping that after its lopsided condemnation in the US House of Representatives and successful relegation back to the UN’s Human Rights Commission, the report will become little more than an historical footnote in a decades-long conflict.

This might in fact occur, given the imbalance of power between the contending sides. But historians can do a great deal with footnotes.

When the glare of history is finally shone upon the whole affair, it might well turn out that the reasons for such vehement opposition from US politicians, and only tepid (at best) support for it among other major powers, have far more to do with their own geostrategic interests than with protecting Israel.

Back story

The report, written by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, has caused uproar in Israel and the US for its alleged bias against Israel and avoidance of serious criticism of Hamas. The condemnation, House Resolution 867, passed by a 344-36 vote.

Before the vote on the resolution, Goldstone sent a letter to members of Congress refuting most of the allegations contained in it. But his rebuttal did not lead to substantive changes in the report’s accusations and apparently had no effect on the vote.

Given the way in which opposition to the report unfolded it would be easy to conclude that this is merely another case of the vaunted Israel lobby shutting down any debate over Israel’s actions in the Occupied Territories.

Yet while Israel’s supporters no doubt took the lead in pushing the resolution, there is a back story to this drama that has likely played an equally, if not more important, role in the firestorm it has generated.

Why would the House go so far out of its way to stamp out even the consideration of war crimes accusations against Israel? And why would Barack Obama, the US president, have pressured Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, not to push the report in the UN when he had to know that such actions would cost Abbas most of his little remaining credibility among Palestinians?

Accessory to war crimes

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, if Israel is guilty of committing systematic war crimes across Gaza and the West Bank, then the US, which supported, funded and armed Israel during the war, is an accessory to those crimes.

Goldstone explains in no uncertain terms that Gaza was not an aberration in terms of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Rather, it marked not only a continuation of Israel’s behaviour during the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, but “highlights a common thread of the interaction between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians which emerged clearly also in many cases discussed in other parts of the report”.

It referenced “continuous and systematic abuse, outrages on personal dignity, humiliating and degrading treatment contrary to fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law”.

“The Mission concludes that the treatment of these civilians constitutes the infliction of a collective penalty on those persons and amounts to measures of intimidation and terror. Such acts are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and constitute a war crime,” the report says.

Put simply, if there is blood on Israel’s hands, than it is has dripped all over America’s shirt.

Israel could not and would not have engaged in the level of wholesale destruction of Gaza painstakingly catalogued in the report without the support of the outgoing Bush administration, and acquiescence of the incoming Obama administration.

Israeli narrative challenged

Not only that, but on the same day the report was released the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel’s military leadership is preparing the country for yet another invasion of Gaza in the near future.

Goldstone’s report accuses Israel of using collective punishment in Gaza [EPA]
It is not clear how much of Gaza is left to be destroyed, but the report’s detailed discussion of Israel’s attacks on innumerable homes, mosques, schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities show what lengths Israel will go to to punish Gazans, and Palestinians more broadly.

There is also the larger context of the peace negotiations. If Israel can be guilty of humanitarian crimes at this level, then it puts the entire Israeli narrative about the occupation – that it is ultimately about preserving the country’s security – into question.

In fact, the report declares precisely this, in paragraph 1674, when it argues that the Gaza invasion “cannot be understood and assessed in isolation from developments prior and subsequent to it. The operation fits into a continuum of policies aimed at pursuing Israel’s political objectives with regard to Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a whole”.

Almost everyone outside the US, including in Israel, understands that the occupation has always been about settlement, not security, since Israel could have militarily occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 indefinitely without establishing a single settlement, and could withdraw from all its settlements tomorrow and maintain a military occupation until it felt secure enough to turn the territory over to Palestinians.

As famed general Moshe Dayan once put it, the settlements in the Occupied Territories are essential “not because they can ensure security better than the army, but because without them we cannot keep the army in those territories. Without them the IDF would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population”.

But the US remains heavily invested in maintaining this security narrative; both because it is the core of the strategic alliance between the two countries with all the military, strategic and financial implications that come with it, and because, as with the Gaza invasion, the settlement enterprise could never have proceeded without US support, or at least acquiescence.

This dynamic continues to operate today, as the same day House Resolution 867 was passed, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, explained that the US preferred to return to peace talks even without a settlement freeze, despite the fact that not stopping settlement construction during negotiations has been deemed by former senior Israeli negotiators such as Moshe Ben Ami and Yossi Beilin as among the single biggest factors dooming the Oslo peace process.

The Obama administration refuses even to push the parameters painstakingly set by his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, before leaving office, to which both Israelis and Palestinians were very close to agreeing.

Alarming precedent

One has to wonder whether the US Middle East policy-making establishment, which is dominated by defence and security interests, is even interested in bringing about a speedy resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Beyond what the Goldstone report says about America’s role in Israel’s actions, the report holds a mirror up to US actions in its ‘war on terror’. In so doing it paints for US policy-makers and politicians a more frightening picture of a future in which all countries are held accountable for their actions.

Here it becomes clear that, as it has been for four decades, Israel is both the spear and the shield for the projection – and protection – of US power in the Middle East. It engages in activities the US cannot do openly, and it acts as the first line of defence when US interests might be attacked diplomatically.

In going after Israel, the report, however unintended, is going after the US, which has committed many of the same crimes (of which Israel is accused) in its occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and perhaps through its drone attacks, in Pakistan and other countries. This is the report’s true danger, and why – from the US perspective – its accusations against Israel cannot stand.

Specifically, the idea of treating a Western-allied state, Israel, and a resistance movement, Hamas, as equally capable of committing war crimes and being held accountable for them, sets an alarming precedent for the US as its engagement in Iraq stretches on indefinitely and deepens in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Why not hold the US (or Pakistan, China, Russia, or India for that matter) to the same standards as we hold the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or opposition movements in Kashmir, Chechnya or Tibet? None of these powers would allow this to happen.

Universal jurisdiction

Moreover, the report condemns the “Dahiya doctrine,” which involved the application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations.

Although claiming to work hard to protect civilians in the countries it is occupying, one of the primary complaints against the US by citizens of Afghanistan or Iraq is the frequent killing of civilians and destruction of infrastructure, particularly if it could be deemed to be “supporting infrastructure” for “terrorists”.

And when such abuses are committed, paragraph 121 of the report reminds the world that “international human rights law and humanitarian law require states to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute allegations of serious violations by military personnel”.

This is an indirect stab at the US judicial system, which has so far failed to hold anyone but a few low-level soldiers accountable for the numerous abuses committed by the US in Iraq and the ‘war on terror’ more broadly.

Perhaps the most dangerous suggestion in this regard is the report’s call for applying “universal jurisdiction” to the conflict.

As paragraph 127 states: “In the context of increasing unwillingness on the part of Israel to open criminal investigations that comply with international standards, the mission supports the reliance on universal jurisdiction as an avenue for states to investigate violations of the grave breach [of the] provisions of the Geneva Conventions.”

There is no power that wants its officials or military and security personnel subject to prosecution by other countries.

Uncritical victimology

In this regard, it is not coincidental that the same day resolution 867 was passed an Italian court convicted 23 former CIA agents of participating in the illegal rendition of an Italian imam, who claims he was subsequently tortured in captivity.

Have US policy interests in the Middle East impacted their rejection of the report? [AFP]
In June, the Italian newspaper il Giornale published an interview with Robert Seldon Lady, the CIA’s Milan station chief, in which he admitted, “Of course it was an illegal operation. But that’s our job. We’re at war against terrorism”.

This is a crucial statement, for it reveals that the US establishment believes that in a ‘war on terror’, there are no legal limits to what it can do. And if Israel is condemned for the same attitude, this would vitiate America’s ability to take whatever actions it desires, however illegal, to pursue its interests.

Obama might not take such actions, but his successors might. And if another major terrorist attack were to occur on US soil, there is little doubt that the gloves would once again come off, whether Obama wanted to keep them on or not.

In such a situation, the psychology of uncritical victimology that characterised post-9/11 America will be crucial to enabling such policies to be (re)put in place.

As the report quotes an Israeli professor (paragraph 1703): “Israeli society’s problem is that because of the conflict, Israeli society feels itself to be a victim and to a large extent that’s justified and it’s very difficult for Israeli society to move and to feel that it can also see the other side and to understand that the other side is also a victim.” This problem is equally difficult for Americans to overcome.

Report’s historical imprint

Among the final coincidences accompanying the passage of resolution 867 was its release the day after Clinton held a high-profile meeting in Morocco to champion the country’s recent official promotion of democracy.

But in her celebration of the Moroccan example she neglected to mention that press freedoms, the core of any democratic system, are suffering increasing restrictions in the country. Freedom of speech or challenging the country’s political-economic elite remains heavily circumscribed, especially when it comes from the country’s principal Islamically motivated opposition movement.

Of course, Clinton cannot push too hard for democracy in the Muslim world; democratically-elected governments would not tolerate many of the US’ core policies in the region, from uncritical support for Israel to its own military and economic alliances and activities.

The day after her Morocco meeting, Clinton was in Egypt, meeting once again with the Egypt’s autocratic leader, Hosni Mubarak, with not a word about democracy.

Against such policy interests, it might well be that the Goldstone report will be relegated to history without being acted upon.

What few of its opponents understand is just how big an imprint this most exhaustive study of the Israeli occupation will leave.

It might not help Palestinians and Israelis achieve peace today, but future historians will likely look upon it as a crucial document in exposing the realities of the American dominated Middle Eastern system for the world to see.

Ref:Aljazeera

Mark LeVine is currently Visiting Professor at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, Sweden. His most recent books include Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009) and Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel-Palestine (Rowman Littlefield, 2008).

 

Also read. ‘Might not right for Israel’

HASBARA WARNING: Israel deploys cyber team to spread positive spin (STATE SPONSORED ZIONISM!!!!)

NAZARETH. ISRAEL // The passionate support for Israel expressed on talkback sections of websites, internet chat forums, blogs, Twitters and Facebook may not be all that it seems.

Israel’s foreign ministry is reported to be establishing a special undercover team of paid workers whose job it will be to surf the internet 24 hours a day spreading positive news about Israel.

Internet-savvy Israeli youngsters, mainly recent graduates and demobilised soldiers with language skills, are being recruited to pose as ordinary surfers while they provide the government’s line on the Middle East conflict.

“To all intents and purposes the internet is a theatre in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose,” said Ilan Shturman, who is responsible for the project.

The existence of an “internet warfare team” came to light when it was included in this year’s foreign ministry budget. About $150,000 (Dh551,000) has been set aside for the first stage of development, with increased funding expected next year.

The team will fall under the authority of a large department already dealing with what Israelis term “hasbara”, officially translated as “public explanation” but more usually meaning propaganda. That includes not only government public relations work but more secretive dealings the ministry has with a battery of private organisations and initiatives that promote Israel’s image in print, on TV and online.

In an interview this month with the Calcalist, an Israeli business newspaper, Mr Shturman, the deputy director of the ministry’s hasbara department, admitted his team would be working undercover.

“Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the hasbara department of the Israeli foreign ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis,” he said. “They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the foreign ministry developed.”

Rona Kuperboim, a columnist for Ynet, Israel’s most popular news website, denounced the initiative, saying it indicated that Israel had become a “thought-police state”.

She added that “good PR cannot make the reality in the occupied territories prettier. Children are being killed, homes are being bombed, and families are starved.” Her column was greeted by several talkbackers asking how they could apply for a job with the foreign ministry’s team.

The project is a formalisation of public relations practices the ministry developed specifically for Israel’s assault on Gaza in December and January.

“During Operation Cast Lead we appealed to Jewish communities abroad and with their help we recruited a few thousand volunteers, who were joined by Israeli volunteers,” Mr Shturman said.

“We gave them background material and hasbara material, and we sent them to represent the Israeli point of view on news websites and in polls on the internet.”

The Israeli army also had one of the most popular sites on the video-sharing site YouTube and regularly uploaded clips, although it was criticised by human rights groups for misleading viewers about what was shown in its footage.

Mr Shturman said that during the war the ministry had concentrated its activities on European websites where audiences were more hostile to Israeli policy. High on its list of target sites for the new project would be BBC Online and Arabic websites, he added.

Elon Gilad, who heads the internet team, told Calcalist that many people had contacted the ministry offering their services during the Gaza attack. “People just asked for information, and afterwards we saw that the information was distributed all over the internet.”

He suggested that there had been widespread government cooperation, with the ministry of absorption handing over contact details for hundreds of recent immigrants to Israel, who wrote pro-Israel material for websites in their native languages.

The new team is expected to increase the ministry’s close coordination with a private advocacy group, giyus.org (Give Israel Your United Support). About 50,000 activists are reported to have downloaded a programme called Megaphone that sends an alert to their computers when an article critical of Israel is published. They are then supposed to bombard the site with comments supporting Israel.

Nasser Rego of Ilam, a group based in Nazareth that monitors the Israeli media, said Arab organisations in Israel were among those regularly targeted by hasbara groups for “character assassination”. He was concerned the new team would try to make such work appear more professional and convincing.

“If these people are misrepresenting who they are, we can guess they won’t worry too much about misrepresenting the groups and individuals they write about. Their aim, it’s clear, will be to discredit those who stand for human rights and justice for the Palestinians.”

When The National called the foreign ministry, Yigal Palmor, a spokesman, denied the existence of the internet team, though he admitted officials were stepping up exploitation of new media.

He declined to say which comments by Mr Shturman or Mr Gilad had been misrepresented by the Hebrew-language media, and said the ministry would not be taking any action over the reports.

Israel has developed an increasingly sophisticated approach to new media since it launched a “Brand Israel” campaign in 2005.

Market research persuaded officials that Israel should play up good news about business success, and scientific and medical breakthroughs involving Israelis.

Mr Shturman said his staff would seek to use websites to improve “Israel’s image as a developed state that contributes to the quality of the environment and to humanity”.

David Saranga, head of public relations at Israel’s consulate-general in New York, which has been leading the push for more upbeat messages about Israel, argued last week that Israel was at a disadvantage against pro-Palestinian advocacy.

“Unlike the Muslim world, which has hundreds of millions of supporters who have adopted the Palestinian narrative in order to slam Israel, the Jewish world numbers only 13 million,” he wrote in Ynet.

Israel has become particularly concerned that support is ebbing among the younger generations in Europe and the United States.

In 2007 it emerged that the foreign ministry was behind a photo-shoot published in Maxim, a popular US men’s magazine, in which female Israeli soldiers posed in swimsuits

Israel’s Cast Lead, Palestine’s Sharpeville

It has been just over three months since Israel unilaterally declared an end to operation Cast Lead and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip following its 22 day onslaught there. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a total of 1,434 people were killed in the operation, approximately 960 of them civilians. Of these, nearly 300 victims were children. This, in addition to the 5000 plus who were injured, and the growing number of deaths due to the ongoing siege.

Other reports have indicated that over 20,000 buildings have been partially or completely destroyed, leaving an estimated one sixth of Gaza ruined and entire neighbourhoods obliterated. The already overburdened and crumbling infrastructure of Gaza is now on the brink of total collapse, exacerbated by the refusal of Israeli and Egyptian authorities to allow construction materials into the besieged territory.

Shocking as these few figures may be, of much greater concern is the manner in which our political leaders responded to this catastrophe as it unfolded.

Israel’s operation Cast Lead was a defining moment in recent history, bringing to light many truths about the condition of the society in which we live. The most obvious of these was the complete and utter failure of so-called world leaders and modern political diplomacy at a time when it was needed most.

While the IDF systematically violated seemingly every tenet of international law, our supposed leaders sat by and left the defenseless people of Gaza to face the fury of the world’s third largest army on their own. Aside from the sheer scale of the Israeli army’s attacks on Gaza, the most astounding phenomenon of those 22 days was the inability of the world’s leaders to take a united stand to bring about an end to the violence.

While the UN Security Council worked and re-worked a resolution to ensure its “appropriate wording” (read: not offend Zionist sensitivities), the Arab League bickered about which side of the Palestinian political divide they were actually on. It took the Arab League days before they could even reach agreement on such a simple task as releasing a statement condemning the violence.

And when the editing and arguing was finally complete in the plush halls of New York and Doha, the hopeful masses around the world were only further disappointed, nay disgusted, with the lackluster results of our elected representatives’ efforts. While we waited for our leaders to exert real diplomatic pressure on Israel, all they had were watered down words of discouragement. They urged Israel to “exercise restraint” and expressed “concern” at the unfolding catastrophe on the ground, while Gazans were screaming for help.

Not a single influential head of state had the guts to openly criticize Israel or ask them to stop. And of course, when any half-hearted statement indirectly suggested that the IDF’s conduct was becoming a matter of concern, it was quickly qualified with the same standard line: that Hamas should cease firing rockets. Just to remind everyone that Hamas had actually started the fight, and that it really was up to them whether it would continue or not. When Hamas had respected the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire for the preceding six months while the IDF continued its incursions into Gaza, this was however not recognized. As usual, the Palestinians were again being blamed for bringing the latest massacre upon themselves.

In its opening paragraphs, the United Nations charter states its determination to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, and establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising out of international law can be maintained.” After Israeli forces bombed several UN facilities in Gaza, including a school housing refugees and a warehouse containing food and relief aid, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decided to pay Gaza a visit.

His press conference made for quite dramatic viewing as he addressed journalists in front of the blackened and still smoldering UN warehouse. Appearing angered, he labeled the incident “an outrageous and unacceptable attack on the United Nations”, and called for a full investigation into the matter, as well as an explanation from Israeli authorities. Bold words indeed.

Released last week, that report concluded that Israel was directly responsible for attacking seven UN facilities during the offensive. It accused the Israeli army of “varying degrees of negligence or recklessness with regard to UN premises and to the safety of UN staff and other civilians within those premises, with consequent deaths, injuries and extensive physical damage and loss of property”.

Though Ki-moon commissioned the investigation, he was rather quick to distance himself from its findings. Instead of laying out the report’s damning details, he praised Israel for its co-operation, stressed that its findings were not legally binding and said that he had no plans to act on the report’s recommendation to launch a broader investigation. One wonders what the purpose of calling for an investigation in the first place was then. Perhaps it was just an attempt to deflect criticism from the UN at the time for its embarrassing inability to uphold its basic founding ideals as outlined above, or protect its own employees and property for that matter.

The only two countries of which I am aware that took genuine punitive diplomatic measures were Venezuela and Mauritania, who closed down their Israeli embassies and expelled the ambassadors. But for the most part, the international community turned their backs on Gaza.

When leaders fail to act, a natural reaction is for ordinary people to rise up and take matters into their own hands. In the history of all struggles against oppression, there is usually a defining moment, or tipping point which sparks a wave of change that ultimately changes the course of history for good. This was the case on 21 March 1960 in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa.

Fed up with Apartheid policies, and specifically Pass Laws, thousands of black youth converged on the Sharpeville police station, offering themselves up for arrest for not carrying the pass books that the Apartheid government required all blacks to carry. Outnumbered and feeling threatened, the 20 or so police officers present opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 people and injuring nearly 200.

The ensuing uproar saw mass protests, strikes and riots across the country, forcing the government to declare a state of emergency and detain thousands of people. A storm of international protest followed the shootings, including sympathetic demonstrations in many countries and condemnation from the United Nations.

After receiving complaints from 29 member states, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 134, voicing the Council’s anger at the actions of the Government, and calling upon it to abandon Apartheid. The Sharpeville shootings also played a pivotal role in South Africa’s expulsion from the Commonwealth of Nations the following year, as well as the shift from passive resistance to armed resistance by the ANC and other political parties.

This was South Africa’s tipping point in the struggle against Apartheid. From that point onwards, the Apartheid regime found itself increasingly isolated and boycotted by the international community. The most damaging aspect of this isolation however, was the economic, sporting and cultural boycott implemented by ordinary people across the world.

Pressure by American students on their universities to divest from South Africa saw billions of dollars of educational trust fund assets being withdrawn from the South African economy. Nelson Mandela is in fact quoted as saying that the University of California’s divestment campaign played a significant role in the abolishment of white-minority rule in South Africa.

Additionally, economic sanctions and the withdrawal of several multinational corporations pushed the South African economy and government to near bankruptcy.

Much like Sharpeville, I believe that the tipping point in Palestine’s struggle against decades of repressive Israeli occupation was operation Cast Lead. In an unprecedented outpouring of support and sympathy for Palestinians not witnessed in years, millions across the world took to the streets in protest at the Israeli army’s brutal attack on Gaza. The world finally appears to have woken from its slumber.

And much like the events following Sharpeville, the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is once again being spearheaded by ordinary people of conscience across the world. Following protests and ‘occupations’ of several university campuses in the US and UK, the trustees of these universities have for the first time been forced to agree to start divesting educational trust fund money from Israel.

In August last year, the Free Gaza Movement successfully docked two boats in Gaza’s main port, the first international boats to dock in Gaza in more than 40 years. This was also the first time in 60 years that Palestinians had entered or left their country without having to undergo Israeli interrogation. This was followed up by six more successful aid boat voyages to Gaza, with another planned for June this year.

In February, Durban dock workers refused to offload Israeli cargo from a ship, while an Australian dock workers union resolved to support the international BDS campaign and boycott all vessels coming from or going to Israel. A recent poll in Israel found that 21% of Israeli exporters have been directly affected by boycotts since the beginning of 2009. And it was recently reported that French transport giant Veolia has lost some $7.5 billion in contracts due to its involvement in the Jerusalem light rail project which is threatening Palestinian homes.


In March, British MP George Galloway and his Viva Palestina aid convoy took 110 vehicles and over $1 million of aid through the Rafah crossing into Gaza after an 8,000 km trek across Europe. From all corners of the globe, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. The world’s most powerful governments are being put to shame as regular folk are achieving what diplomacy has failed to achieve in decades.

It is unfortunate that often, only after the worst of calamities has occurred, that the best qualities of the human spirit become visible. The outright moral failure of our leaders regarding Gaza is being matched only by the creativity and determination of the global solidarity movement. The momentum gained over the last few months needs to be maintained and increased, until freedom, justice and normality is returned to Palestine, as it was to South Africa. And the message to our leaders is loud and clear: If you do not act, we will.

Ref: Palestine Chronicle