Will Israel Echo South Africa’s Apartheid?

At this point, the South Africa example is most instructive. Recall the state of that country as the campaign to abolish apartheid built up steam — a privileged white minority ruling a black majority in a violent and brutal system. Economic and trade sanctions gradually beginning to strangle this nation that had historically been Africa’s most prosperous. The arrival of worldwide consumer boycotts, campaigns to sell off stock of any company doing business with this pariah state.

David A. Andelman, CNN, December 29, 2016

David A. Andelman, editor emeritus of World Policy Journal and member of the board of contributors of USA Today, is the co-author, with the Count de Marenches, head of the DGSE, of “The Fourth World War: Diplomacy and Espionage the Age of Terrorism.” Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.

(CNN) — Israel, and by extension the United States, are poised at the entrance to a dangerous path. The model democracy of the Middle East risks transforming into a global pariah on the scale of South Africa when it was in the depths of its apartheid nightmare.

After decades of Arab-Israeli diplomacy, the idea of a one-state solution looms anew, as conservative elements in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition see the arrival of Donald Trump and his new ambassador to Israel as an opportunity to push their agenda.

If it is realized, it would reduce Israel’s Palestinian population to a permanent underclass and mean, in the not-too-distant future, that a Jewish minority would be ruling a Muslim majority, with the world on the side of the oppressed majority.

The United States would be its only friend and ally — relegating Washington to a role equally isolated from mainstream opinion throughout the region and far beyond.

This seems to be the role that President-elect Trump is carving out for America, and the role that Netanyahu is skirting perilously close to for Israel.

Trump’s ambassador-designate, David Friedman, the President-elect’s longtime friend and bankruptcy lawyer, has spent much of his career advocating and raising money for the one-state concept. His arrival in Israel will only reinforce the dramatic shift toward the more extreme parties in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition that now seem to be calling the shots.

It was not always this way. Three months after taking office, on June 14, 2009, just 10 days after a recently inaugurated President Barack Obama gave his landmark Middle East speech at Cairo University, Netanyahu, in a televised speech to his people, embraced a two-state solution.

Over the next eight years, Israel has solidified its position as one of the world’s most technologically innovative countries, a bastion of democracy surrounded by an ocean of autocracies or theocracies.

Five years ago, World Policy Journal used a basket of indicators to identify Israel, alongside Finland and Singapore as the world’s three most innovative countries. At the time, Israel had the largest number of startups in the world outside the United States — 3,850, or one for every 1,844 Israelis, according to the Israel Venture Capital Research Center. It had more companies listed on America’s tech-heavy Nasdaq than the entire European continent.

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EU recognizes right to boycott Israel

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada
Activism and BDS Beat
28 October 2016

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, left, has affirmed that boycotting Israel is a protected free speech right. (European External Action Service)

The European Union recognizes the right of its citizens to boycott Israel, its top foreign policy official has said.

“The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU member states’ territory, including with regard to BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] actions carried out on this territory,” Federica Mogherini told the European Parliament in answer to a written question in late September.

Mogherini noted that the European Court of Human Rights has affirmed that freedom of expression applies to ideas “that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population.”

She also reaffirmed that the 28-member bloc “rejects the BDS campaign’s attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel.”

“We welcome the EU’s belated defense of the right of European and other citizens to stand in solidarity with Palestinian rights, including through BDS tactics,” Riya Hassan, Europe campaigns officer for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), said in reaction to Mogherini’s statement.

Threats

The EU declaration comes after Israel or entities aligned with it have launched secret “black ops” aimed at sabotaging the Palestine solidarity movement.

This sabotage campaign has been linked to threats and harassment targeting human rights lawyers working with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, under investigation by Dutch police.

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Free speech triumphs over pro-Israel bullies in US universities

Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 20 October 2016

Students constructed a mock wall on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus to protest Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. (SAFE-UMich Facebook)

Students have won major victories for free speech on US campuses lately as attempts by Israel lobby groups to suppress Palestine solidarity activism continue to fall flat.

“Israel advocacy organizations driving the suppression cannot succeed in manufacturing facts, even if they try,”
Liz Jackson, an attorney with the organization Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada.

Last week, the president of the University of Michigan defended Palestine solidarity activism on campus after student organizers were attacked for holding a protest against Israeli policies on the same day as a Jewish holiday.

In response to accusations that the protest was an affront to Jewish students, the protest’s organizers, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) stated that the charges fall “under the much larger wave of speech suppression that seeks to derail any valid criticism of Israeli state policy of oppression against Palestinians as a false claim of anti-Semitism.”

University president Mark Schlissel told The Michigan Daily, a campus newspaper, that SAFE “did what we want advocacy groups to do, and to me, they were advocating a political point of view.”

Schlissel’s statement follows a similar defense of student activism in New York City.

There, Israel-aligned groups and elected officials lost a long-waged battle to censor Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) after a six-month independent investigation yielded results that did not support their claims.

The groups and pro-Israel lawmakers steadily pressured administrators at the City University of New York to censure SJP members, accusing them of being responsible for anti-Semitism on campuses.

In February, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a right-wing lobby group, published a 14-page letter, claiming that SJP “has created a hostile campus environment for many Jewish students.”

Around the same time, local lawmakers also called for a ban of all SJP chapters on CUNY campuses.

The accusations against SJP triggered the investigation, which was led by a former federal judge and a federal prosecutor.

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October 6, 2016
Film: Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!

UW-Madison Multicultural Student Center
Red Gym – 2nd Floor
716 Langdon St, Madison, Wisconsin
7:30 pm

Sponsored by UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine.

Film screening of the documentary Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!, which follows queer activists fighting against Israeli pinkwashing propaganda in their community, providing a strategic primer on intersectional social justice activism.

After the film we will have a friendly discussion about how queer issues and Palestinian issues intersect, and the different opinions and thoughts on the film.

Black Lives Matter Benefit Is Canceled Over Stand on Israel

The owners of the club have canceled a concert, citing a platform of groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter that calls Israel “an apartheid state”

MICHAEL PAULSON, The New York Times, September 8, 2016

Photo Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

A popular Broadway cabaret club has canceled a concert benefiting Black Lives Matter, citing the movement’s criticism of Israel.

The owners of Feinstein’s/54 Below, a small performance venue just north of Times Square, this week emailed ticket buyers to the event, informing them of the cancellation. In a separate message to participants, the owners cited a platform released this summer by a coalition of groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement that declared “Israel is an apartheid state” and denounced what it described as “the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”

The concert was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11, and would have been directed by the actress Tonya Pinkins (“Caroline, or Change”).

In the note to participants, 54 Below said that its owners and managers “strongly believe in and support the general thrust of the goals and objectives” of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It continued, “However, since announcing the benefit they’ve become aware of a recent addition to the B.L.M. platform that accuses Israel of genocide and endorses a range of boycott and sanction actions.”

The statement said, “As we can’t support these positions, we’ve accordingly decided to cancel the concert.”

The concert cancellation was reported by Playbill. The owners of 54 Below, through a spokesman, declined to comment further, and spokesmen for Black Lives Matter did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Pinkins, in an email, said that many of the speakers and artists who had planned to participate in the 54 Below event would be at “The Meeting*,” hosted by Justin Sayre, at Joe’s Pub on Sept. 18; she said some would “give testimony,” and that the proceeds would benefit Black Lives Matter.

CODEPINK Petition to Veto California Anti-BDS Bill

CODEPINK, August 28, 2016

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California’s AB 2844 is an attack on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and protest. It is intended by its authors to create a blacklist of supporters of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns for Palestinian human rights. This is of urgent concern to Californians who will be immediately affected by the legislation, and also of relevance to all Americans given the rapid spread of these laws to multiple states, chipping away at our right to use boycott to advocate for political change.

Civil liberties groups, including the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and the Center for Constitutional Rights affirm that right to use economic boycotts in support of human rights and social justice causes is a protected form of free speech under the US constitution. A recent article in the LA Times explain how boycotts of Israel are a protected form of free speech.

The authors of AB 2844 have portrayed the legislation as an anti-discrimination measure. However, the purpose of the bill, as admitted to by its authors, is to stifle the nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian human rights, even at the cost of the US constitution. As CODEPINK co-founder Jodie Evans says, “it is up to all of us to let California Governor Jerry Brown know that we do not want to support Israel’s policies of occupation and apartheid nor give up our right to freedom of speech and nonviolent protest.”

AB 2844 passed through the California Senate and is expected to pass the California Assembly in the next few days. At that point, Governor Brown will have only 12 days to sign or veto the bill. If Governor Brown does nothing, the bill will be approved by default. Join CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the rest of the Coalition to Stop AB 2844 in telling Governor Brown to veto AB 2844.

In peace,
Jodie, Sam, Marianna, Chelsea, Ariel, Alli, Medea, Nancy K. and the entire CODEPINK team


Dear Governor Brown,

We urge you to veto AB 2844, an unconstitutional and costly attack on Californians’ free speech and the movement for Palestinian human rights.

AB 2844 chills free speech by falsely associating legal and time-honored boycotts for human rights with unlawful discrimination, and by creating a vague new crime in the process. The bill could cost California taxpayers over $140 million (Department of Finance estimate) and unknown additional sums for fielding complaints and lawsuits.

Although the title and some of the content of AB 2844 have changed over time, its intent remains the same: to stigmatize and suppress protected political speech, especially advocacy for Palestinian human rights through the nonviolent tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Stop this attack on Californians’ free speech. Veto AB 2844.

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I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel

The country must be held accountable for its human rights abuses.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace
The Washington Post, June 24, 2016

In 2009, I was living in Tel Aviv during Operation Cast Lead. During that offensive, Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. When small numbers of us went out into the streets to protest the war, we were often pelted with eggs or attacked by passersby. When I dropped my children off at their preschool, parents chatted as if nothing unusual was going on. When they asked me what was wrong, I would tell them I was deeply upset about what was happening just 40 miles away. Their response: awkward silence, or an angry defense of Israel’s actions.

The Old City walls of Jerusalem (EPA/JIM HOLLANDER)

I wanted to take concrete action to bring about freedom and full rights for Palestinians. So I embraced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The non-violent effort, started in 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations, is a call for solidarity from the international community until Israel complies with international law and ends its violations of Palestinian rights. It’s hard going though — the governor of my own state, New York, recently condemned BDS in a unilateral executive order.

Seven years later, there have been two more horrific assaults on Gaza. About 500 Palestinian children were killed in 2014. Even when there are no intensive bombing campaigns, Palestinians in Gaza live under siege. West Bank residents are severely curtailed by Israel’s matrix of control in the area, including checkpoints, administrative detention and home demolitions. Inside Israel, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live in a system of unequal laws and rights. Outside of Israel, refugees cannot return home.

Of course, during this time there have been attacks on Israeli civilians too. These are a horrifying symptom of ongoing occupation and repression, as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai pointed out after a recent attack in Tel Aviv killed four Jewish Israelis.

I believe that Israel won’t change its policies until outside pressure becomes impossible to ignore. BDS is a powerful way to encourage the state to act. And during my time with the movement, we’ve had growing success. Mainstream churches have divested from companies profiting from the occupation. Dozens of American campuses have passed divestment resolutions. More than 100 artists refuse to perform in Israel, and multinational corporations like G4S and Veolia have withdrawn from the Israeli market.

During this time, there’s also been a shift in public opinion. A 2015 Brookings Institute poll found that 49 percent of Democrats support imposing economic sanctions against Israel over settlement construction. A Pew poll released last month found that for the first time, liberal Democrats were more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israelis. In May, the research firm Ipsos found that one-third of Americans support the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until it respects Palestinian rights.

But our efforts have been threatened here in the United States by a nationally coordinated, well-funded strategy financed by the Israeli government and advocacy organizations. Over the last year, 22 states have introduced or passed anti-BDS legislation. Many of these measures make it illegal for states to do business with companies that support BDS. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has escalated that strategy with a draconian executive order that would create a blacklist of companies and organizations that choose not to invest in Israel or that advocate for BDS. Cuomo’s executive order circumvented the state legislature, where opposition from supporters of Palestinian rights and free speech, including many members of Jewish Voice for Peace, had successfully stalled the anti-BDS legislation in committee.

This is wrong. It’s not discrimination to hold a state accountable for its violations of international law and human rights abuses. The state of Israel is not the same as the Jewish people.

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