UN takes first step to end Israel’s impunity

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 28 September 2017

A UN list of companies that do business with Israel’s illegal settlements would boost the global movement for Palestinian rights. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler/ActiveStills)

UN officials are finally moving to hold Israel accountable for breaking international law, though they are facing fierce resistance from Israel and its allies.

“After decades of Palestinian dispossession and Israeli military occupation and apartheid, the United Nations has taken its first concrete, practical step to secure accountability for ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “Palestinians warmly welcome this step.”

On Wednesday, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the UN’s human rights office began sending letters to some 150 companies around the world warning them that they may be added to a database of firms doing business with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

This week Nickolay Mladenov, the top UN political official in Jerusalem, told the UN Security Council that “Israel’s illegal settlement activities have continued at a high rate” in gross breach of UN resolutions.

There is a growing legal consensus that international law requires governments to prohibit all trade with the settlements.

“This could snowball”

Israeli officials have admitted that many firms – though they did not provide names – have already responded to the letters by assuring the UN human rights office that they will not renew their contracts in Israel or seek new ones.

“These companies just can’t make the distinction between Israel and the settlements and are ending their operations altogether,” a senior Israeli official told Haaretz. “Foreign companies will not invest in something that reeks of political problems – this could snowball.”

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Israel covers up role in Myanmar crimes against Rohingya

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 27 September 2017


Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other Myanmar officials visit arms maker Israel Aerospace Industries in September 2015. (via Facebook)

Israel is attempting to bury information about its arms sales to the military regime in Myanmar, which the UN accuses of a “brutal” campaign against the country’s Muslim Rohingya population, amounting to a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have fled their homes as the military and Buddhist mobs burn their villages.

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say that the military in Myanmar, also known as Burma, is committing crimes against humanity.

“The military has committed forced deportation, murder, rape and persecution against Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State, resulting in countless deaths and mass displacement,” Human Rights Watch said.

Myanmar’s leader, Nobel Prize winner and former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, has been the subject of growing global criticism over her evasions and justifications of the atrocities.

“Dictatorial regime”

Israeli attorney and human rights activist Eitay Mack has long campaigned to force Israel to reveal and halt its arms sales to various violent regimes.

This week, Israel’s state attorney asked the high court to retroactively classify all the records and proceedings related to Mack’s latest suit, which attempts to compel the government to end its arms sales to Myanmar.

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The United States Was Responsible for the 1982 Massacre of Palestinians in Beirut

Washington had explicitly guaranteed their safety—and recently declassified documents reveal that US diplomats were told by the Israelis what they and their allies might be up to.

Sabra Shatila Massacre
In this September 27, 1982 file photo, a Palestinian woman attending a Beirut memorial service holds the helmets worn by those who committed the Sabra and Shatila massacre. (AP Photo / Bill Foley, File)

On the night of September 16, 1982, my younger brother and I were baffled as we watched dozens of Israeli flares floating down in complete silence over the southern reaches of Beirut, for what seemed like an eternity. We knew that the Israeli army had rapidly occupied the western part of the city two days earlier. But flares are used by armies to illuminate a battlefield, and with all the PLO fighters who had resisted the Israeli army during the months-long siege of the city already evacuated from Beirut, we went to bed perplexed, wondering what enemy was left for the occupying army to hunt.

Remembering the Sabra and Shatila massacre 35 years on

Its time to end the Israeli culture of impunity that permitted the Sabra and Shatila massacre to happen 35 years ago.

, Al Jazeera, 16 Sep 2017

Massacre survivors Yousef Hamzeh and Abu Jamal walk together at the site of the Sabra and Shatila massacre on the outskirts of Beirut [Caren Firouz/Reuters]Massacre survivors Yousef Hamzeh and Abu Jamal walk together at the site of the Sabra and Shatila massacre on the outskirts of Beirut [Caren Firouz/Reuters]

On September 16, 1982, following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the right-wing Christian Phalange militia stormed the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut and began a massacre which ended in the deaths of hundreds, maybe thousands, of mostly Palestinian civilians. I was 19 years old at the time. By chance and by luck I managed to survive. My mother and five younger sisters and brothers; and my uncle, his wife and eight kids did not.

Israel’s invasion began June 6, 1982. After much destruction, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which had defended the camps since its inception, agreed to leave Lebanon in August. They were given American assurances that civilians left behind would be protected. The president-elect of Lebanon, and the leader of the Phalange, was assassinated on September 14th. The Israeli army proceeded to invade and occupy West Beirut.

Israeli troops surrounded the camps to prevent the refugees from leaving and allowed entry of the Phalange, a known enemy of the Palestinians. The Israelis fired flares throughout the night to light up the killing field – thus allowing the militiamen to see their way through the narrow alleys of the camps. The massacre went on for two days. As the bloodbath concluded, Israel supplied the bulldozers to dig mass graves. In 1983, Israel’s investigative Kahan Commission found that Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Defense Minister, bore “personal responsibility for the slaughter.

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Halfway There: Help us Send “Gaza Lights” to Rafah!

HELP US RESPOND TO GAZA’S ELECTRICITY CRISIS

A big thanks to those who have helped us get past the halfway point in our campaign to supply rechargeable household “Gaza Lights” to poor families in Rafah.

If you haven’t contributed, we can really use your help to meet our goal.

The electricity crisis in Gaza has reached unprecedented and unbearable heights, with power now reduced to 2-4 hours per day.

While only an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade can provide a lasting solution, in the meantime the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide families in Rafah with a “Gaza Lights” unit — a rechargeable household system created by a team of volunteer Gaza engineers that takes advantage of the short hours of electrical service to charge a battery, which can then power lights, fans, and phones for twelve hours.

These “Gaza Lights” are produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by MECA and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.


Amal and the Sketch Engineering Team assemble Gaza Lights systems

MRSCP has committed to raise funds supply 50 of these systems; we are just over half way to our goal of $4700. We need to raise the rest by mid-November. Please help us reach this goal! Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Rafah 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan, $31 a rechargeable battery, $91 a complete system.

To contribute to this campaign, send a check made out to “MRSCP” and marked “Gaza Lights” to

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison WI 53705

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Support Palestinian Farmers — Buy Their Olive Oil

We’ll be selling Holy Land extra virgin Palestinian olive oil at the upcoming Holiday Fair Trade Fairs (November 19 at Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ and December 2 at Monona Terrace), but you can beat the holiday crowds and get yours now!

Both 500 ml and 750 ml bottles are available. Prices are:

    • 500 ml: $15 each, box of six $84
    • 750 ml: $20 each, box of six $112

If you live near Madison and would like to purchase some oil, please contact Veena, veena.brekke at gmail.com or phone 608-332-8745. She may be able to arrange delivery for larger orders in the Madison area.

As always, thanks for your support!

Ilan Pappe: No, Israel Is Not a Democracy — And Never Was

Ilan Pappe, Jacobin: No, Israel Is Not a Democracy – And Never Was

Israel is not the only democracy in the Middle East.
In fact, it’s not a democracy at all.

Ilan Pappe, Jacobin, May 5, 2017
Excerpted from Ten Myths About Israel, Verso Books

In the eyes of many Israelis and their supporters worldwide — even those who might criticize some of its policies — Israel is, at the end of the day, a benign democratic state, seeking peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing equality to all its citizens.

Those who do criticize Israel assume that if anything went wrong in this democracy then it was due to the 1967 war. In this view, the war corrupted an honest and hardworking society by offering easy money in the occupied territories, allowing messianic groups to enter Israeli politics, and above all else turning Israel into an occupying and oppressive entity in the new territories.

The myth that a democratic Israel ran into trouble in 1967 but still remained a democracy is propagated even by some notable Palestinian and pro-Palestinian scholars — but it has no historical foundation.

Israel Before 1967 Was Not a Democracy

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Systemic Racism and White Supremacy in America

Those Confederate statues were built on something even bigger. Watch my new video with MoveOn as I talk about how to confront white supremacy.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, MoveOn.org, September 16, 2017

Donald Trump is not the first politician to openly stoke racism and hatred.

He is a part of a much larger system of white supremacy that is reinforced in our nation election after election.

In a new video, I share my thoughts on why we need to dig deeper to address structural racism — and how we move forward.

It’s important to pull down Confederate symbols — many of which were erected as monuments to white supremacy during the Jim Crow era, decades after the Civil War. And we must also focus on the policy violence of voter suppression, attacks on immigrants, and denial of access to health care and living wages, which continue to oppress communities of color and the poor.

White supremacy is about maintaining power through the politics of division and oppression — and it impacts everyone, Black, brown, or white.

Advancing a moral agenda to confront and take down white supremacy in all its forms is work we all can do together. As I and my colleagues at Repairers of the Breach tour the country with the new #PoorPeoplesCampaign, the diversity of the communities committed to reviving the heart of democracy gives me hope.

Please take a moment to watch and share this video — then take action to tackle the symbols and policies of racism all around us.

Sincerely,
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
Pres. & Sr. Lecturer, Repairers of the Breach

You can continue this conversation by following @RevDrBarber on Twitter.