June 14, 2021
Palestine/Israel: The Bombing is Over, The Occupation Continues

9 pm Central

Presented by The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice and Economics for Everyone

Speakers:
• Alia Taqieddin (Palestinian Feminist Collective) – “Palestine as a Feminist Issue”
• Steve Niva (Faculty, Evergreen State College) – “The Nature, Extent, and Ultimate Reasons Behind the U.S.-Israeli Relationship and How to Challenge It”

Moderated by Peter Bohmer (Faculty, Evergreen State College and Economics for Everyone)

FREE TO THE PUBLIC — REGISTER HERE

Two former Israeli ambassadors join ‘apartheid’ accusations

“It is time for the world to recognize that what we saw in South Africa decades ago is happening in Palestine… time for the world to take decisive diplomatic action… towards building a future of equality.”


Alon Liel (l), Omar Shakir (c), and Ilan Baruch in July 2019. The two former ambassadors were seeking to prevent Shakir’s deportation from Israel. Foto from Liel’s twitter feed.

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, June 8, 2021

The news today is that two former Israeli ambassadors to South Africa have accused their country of practicing apartheid by creating bantustans for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. “It’s apartheid, say Israeli ambassadors to South Africa,” Ilan Baruch and Alon Liel write at Groundup.

This is yet another apartheid charge leveled by serious people in what Al Haq has said is the “mounting recognition” and “mainstreaming of the legal analysis of apartheid over the Palestinian people as a whole.”

There is of course stiff resistance in the American discourse. Before getting to Baruch and Liel’s argument, I’d note that in recent days Bernie Sanders has flicked away the apartheid charge saying progressives should “tone down the rhetoric,” and David Makovsky has said critics call Israel “all sorts of bad names.” And NPR has given a platform to a scholar calling the charge “offensive” to Jews.

Well here are two more Jews making the charge.

Baruch and Liel say that they “learned firsthand about the reality of apartheid and the horrors it inflicted.” And they relate South Africa to current conditions in the West Bank, where Palestinians are forced on to smaller and smaller tracts of land.

This reality reminds us of a story that former Ambassador Avi Primor described in his autobiography about a trip that he took with then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon to South Africa in the early 1980s. During the visit, Sharon expressed great interest in South Africa’s bantustan project. Even a cursory look at the map of the West Bank leaves little doubt regarding where Sharon received his inspiration. The West Bank today consists of 165 “enclaves” – that is, Palestinian communities encircled by territory taken over by the settlement enterprise. In 2005, with the removal of settlements from Gaza and the beginning of the siege, Gaza became simply another enclave – a bloc of territory without autonomy, surrounded largely by Israel and thus effectively controlled by Israel as well.

The bantustans of South Africa under the apartheid regime and the map of the occupied Palestinian territories today are predicated on the same idea of concentrating the “undesirable” population in as small an area as possible, in a series of non-contiguous enclaves. By gradually driving these populations from their land and concentrating them into dense and fractured pockets, both South Africa then and Israel today worked to thwart political autonomy and true democracy.

The former ambassadors say what Human Rights Watch said when it released its apartheid report in April. Israel has no intention of leaving the West Bank and East Jerusalem, after 54 years of occupation.

[T]he occupation is not temporary, and there is not the political will in the Israeli government to bring about its end…. It is time for the world to recognize that what we saw in South Africa decades ago is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories too. And just as the world joined the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it is time for the world to take decisive diplomatic action in our case as well and work towards building a future of equality, dignity, and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Here’s how HRW put it in the report penned by Omar Shakir:

Continue reading

How a West Bank Trip Turned This Congressman Into One of Israel’s Strongest Critics

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan tells Haaretz why he welcomes a new Israeli government, even one led by a right-winger like Naftali Bennett who has renounced the two-state solution


Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan. Andy Manis / AP

Ben Samuels, Haaretz, Jun. 7, 2021

WASHINGTON – How does a lawmaker go from surface-level familiarity with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to being one of the most vocal proponents of Palestinian rights in the history of Congress?

It starts with Humpty Dumpty.

Rep. Mark Pocan had visited Israel on congressional trips since entering office in 2013, where he spent a bit of time in the West Bank. But it was always through an Israeli lens. After learning more about the conflict from the pro-Israel left-wing J Street organization, the progressive Wisconsin Democrat went again in 2016 on the first-ever congressional trip to Palestine organized by the Humpty Dumpty Institute.

Despite being organized by an NGO that Pocan jokingly admits has “one of the worst names in Washington,” it provided him with a first opportunity to see the land from a Palestinian perspective.

“Having a chance to see things from that perspective opened my eyes about what was going on, and the barriers in getting to a two-state solution that I have advocated for,” he tells Haaretz. “Seeing and talking to people in Palestine firsthand and walking through all the different issues really mattered a lot.”

Update: June 4, 2021
Candle Lit Vigil for Palestine




UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine
UW Library Mall
8:30 PM

Join us to mourn the lives lost, show solidarity to the Palestinian people, and condemn U.S military aid to Israel.

  • Meet at Library Mall
  • Candle walk up to the Capitol
  • Speakers & Open Mic
  • Number of candles provided for the number of lives lost.
    Bring your flags, signs, and keffiyehs!

    Free and open to the public.

    F-35s Bombing Gaza

    Why are these advanced fighters used against Palestinians?

    Manlio Dinucci, Global Research, May 19, 2021

    Israeli Forces spokesman Zilberman announced the start of the bombing of Gaza, specifying that “80 fighters are taking part in the operation, including the advanced F-35s” (The Times of Israel, May 11, 2021). It is officially the baptism of fire for the US Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter, whose production Italy also participates in as a second-level partner.

    Israel has already received twenty-seven F-35s from the US, and last February decided to buy no longer fifty F-35s but seventy-five. To this end the government has decreed a further allocation of 9 billion dollars: 7 were granted by a US to Israel free military “aid” of 28 billion, 2 were granted as a loan by the US Citibank.

    While Israeli F-35 pilots were being trained by the U.S. Air Force in Arizona and Israel, the US Army Engineers built in Israel special hardened hangars for the F-35s, suitable for both fighters’ maximum protection on the ground, and their rapid take-off on attack. At the same time, the Israeli military industries (Israel Aerospace and Elbit Systems) in close coordination with Lockheed Martin enhance the fighter renamed “Adir” (Powerful): above all its ability to penetrate enemy defenses and its range of action which was nearly doubled.

    These capabilities are certainly not necessary to attack Gaza. Why then are the most advanced fifth-generation fighters used against Palestinians? Because it serves to test F-35s fighters and their pilots in real war action using Gaza homes as targets on a firing range. It does not matter if in the target houses there are entire families.

    The F-35s, added to the hundreds of fighter-bombers already supplied by the US to Israel. are designed for nuclear attack particularly with the new B61-12 bomb. The United States will shortly deploy these nuclear bombs in Italy and other European countries, and will also provide them to Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East with an arsenal estimated at 100-400 nuclear weapons. If Israel doubles the range of F-35 fighters and is about to receive eight Boeing Pegasus tankers from the US for refueling the F-35s in flight, it is because it is preparing to launch an attack, even nuclear, against Iran.

    The Israeli nuclear forces are integrated into the NATO electronic system within the “Individual cooperation program” framework with Israel. Although not a member of the Alliance, Israel is integrated with a permanent mission in the NATO headquarters in Brussels. In the same framework, Germany supplied Israel with six Dolphin submarines. modified for launching nuclear missiles (as Der Spiegel documented in 2012).

    Italy’s military cooperation with Israel has become a law of the Republic (Law No. 94 of May 17, 2005). This law establishes comprehensive cooperation, both between armed forces and military industries, including activities that remain secret because they are subject to the “Security Agreement” between the two parties.

    Israel has supplied Italy with the Opsat-3000 satellite, which transmits very high-resolution images for military operations in distant war theaters. The satellite is connected to three centers in Italy and, at the same time, to a fourth center in Israel, as a proof of the increasingly close strategic collaboration between the two countries.

    Italy supplied Israel with thirty Leonardo Aermacchi fighters for pilot training. Now it can provide Israel with a new version of the M-346 FA (Fighter Attack), which – Leonardo Industry specified – serves at the same time for training and for “ground attack missions with 500-pound drop ammunition, and precision-guided ammunitions capable of increasing the number of targets to hit at the same time “. The new version of the fighter – Leonardo Industry underlined – is particularly suitable for “missions in urban areas”, where heavy fighters “are often used in low-paying missions with high operating costs”. The ideal for the next Israeli bombings of Gaza, which can be carried out with “a cost per flight hour that is reduced by up to 80%”, and will be very ” cost-effective “, that is, they will kill many more Palestinians.

    This article was originally published in Italian on Il Manifesto. Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

    This article is from the Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin coalition. Our mission is to stop the harm that basing F-35 fighter jets at Truax Field in Madison will inflict. We work to stop the pollution and force the clean-up of water contamination by the base.

    Possible House Committee Hold on Arms Sale to Israel


    Barbara Olson and Tsela Barr: Let’s stop funding Israel’s campaign of oppression


    Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo – Adel Hana)

    TSELA BARR AND BARB OLSON, The Cap Times, May 15, 2021

    For the past few weeks, Israel has intensified a provocative campaign of oppression and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, focused largely but not exclusively on occupied East Jerusalem.

    You can be forgiven if you are unfamiliar with the details, since most of the mainstream U.S. media has studiously ignored them.

    Among the major provocations were: looming theft of more homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem long targeted by Jewish settlers for “demographic change;” bulldozing homes in adjoining Silwan; protecting a mob of far right Jews as they walked through East Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs”; and repeatedly, violently and for no good reason driving Palestinians out of public areas surrounding the Al Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, several times even invading and damaging the mosque itself while beating and gassing those inside.

    Things got so bad that the Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in the thousands past roadblocks into Jerusalem and rallied in their towns and villages, even launching running urban revolts that very much resemble anti-police violence protests here at home.

    Eventually, the Israelis got the response that they foresaw and many probably wanted: rockets fired from Gaza. Now they can unleash their vastly superior, U.S. funded and supported military upon the citizens of Gaza, inflicting damage and casualties in the hugely disproportionate ratio that they are accustomed to. This practice of assaulting the Gaza inmates in their open-air, blockaded prison every few years is publicly referred to in Israel as “mowing the grass.”

    As soon as the first rocket left Gaza, the mainstream press suddenly discovered that “tensions are increasing” and that the “conflict,” which by the way was just labeled by Human Rights Watch as an apartheid system, calls for “restraint on both sides.”

    And then came the predictable pronouncements from the pundits and politicians of all stripes that Israel has “the right to defend itself.”

    Do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves? Do they have the right to declare, like Black Lives Matter protesters and all human beings the world over, that they have a right to freedom and dignity? That with no justice, there is no peace?

    Underwriting this injustice is massive U.S. aid to Israel, currently $3.8 billion annually, which doesn’t include, for example, private tax exempt donations to Israeli “charities” that are funding and driving the expropriations from Palestinians like the residents of Sheikh Jarrah.

    Every tax-paying citizen in this country is paying for the military equipment that is used to massacre innocent civilians, illegally detain prisoners without charge, including children; destroy homes, seize land and property, and generally make daily life a living hell for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

    In appreciation of this largesse, the Netanyahu government recently told the State Department to butt out of Jerusalem. After the “sugar high” of the Trump years, even the slightest hint of disapproval was too much; Americans are expected to just support Israel no matter what it does.

    What can you do?

    First, demand that Biden’s State Department immediately denounce Israel’s illegal expulsions of Palestinians and the demolition of their homes and property. And insist that Sen. Tammy Baldwin, largely MIA on Palestine, follow the lead of Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum and other progressives in Congress and do the same.

    Second, listen to and share the voices of Palestinians on the ground and around the world. Post those photos, videos, and articles on social media. Use #SaveSheikhJarrah, #SaveSilwan in all your social media posts.

    Third, escalate pressure where we know it counts: support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it lives up to its obligations under international law in its treatment of Palestinians.

    Fourth, urge your representatives to support HR 2590, Betty McCollum’s watershed Palestinian Children and Families Act. HR 2590 is the first legislation of its kind to have the U.S. taxpayer stop paying for Israel’s arrest, torture, and imprisonment of Palestinian children, its demolition and destruction of Palestinian homes and communities, and the further annexation of Palestinian land.

    Continue reading

    Rep. Mark Pocan’s Recognition of Israeli Violence


    The Day the UN Buried its Report on Apartheid in Israel

    Credit: UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees

    Thalif Deen, IPS-Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Apr 30 2021 (IPS) – When the UN’s Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) released a landmark 2017 report on “apartheid” in Israel, the United Nations disassociated itself with the study and left it to die— unceremoniously and unsung.

    According to a March 2017 report in Foreign Policy Journal, both the Israeli and the Trump administrations put “enormous pressure on UN Secretary-General António Guterres to withdraw the report”.

    But the head of the ESCWA, Rima Khalaf, refused to withdraw it and resigned from her UN position in protest. Later, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced he will award Khalaf the Palestine Medal of the Highest Honor for her “courage and support” for the Palestinian people.

    And now, more than four years later, the apartheid policies of Israel have come back to haunt the United Nations with the release, on April 27, of a detailed report which says Israel’s abusive apartheid policies towards Palestinians constitute “crimes against humanity.”

    Authored by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a widely known international human rights organizations, the 213-page report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” singles out “the overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.”

    Originally coined in relation to South Africa, “apartheid” today is a universal legal term, says HRW, pointing out that the prohibition against particularly severe institutional discrimination and oppression or apartheid constitutes a core principle of international law.

    But whether the new report will have any impact on the UN is doubtful.

    Asked whether the UN should re-visit its own 2017 report on Israel and apartheid, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters April 27: “Well, again, without characterizing it one way or another, we have been getting the various facts out about the situation on the ground, including in the report, by the way, that you mentioned, which, I believe, the facts of the report were released, and we’ll continue to do that. Ultimately, it’s important to have a solid base of information about what’s happening, and that’s what we try to provide.”

    Dr Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University who co-authored the 2017 UN report, told IPS the narrative of the apartheid discourse (extends) from the original smears at the UN to the B’Tselem Report, and now the HRW Report.

    “The Israeli Basic Law of 2018 proclaimed Israel as an apartheid state without using the word,” Falk said.

    “The one large issue in which the critical discourse still lags behind what we argued in 2017 is the insistence that Israeli apartheid is best conceptualized by reference to the Palestinian people rather than land

    “We believed this is an essential element because Israeli apartheid unlike South African apartheid created a victimized Palestinian diaspora by way of ethnic cleansing, and still shout the slogan ‘less Arabs, more land,’ said Dr Falk, who served a six-year term as the UN Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

    Palestinian refugees. Credit: UNRWA

    Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said “prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change.”

    “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” he added.

    Dr. Ramzy Baroud, a journalist and Editor of The Palestine Chronicle, told IPS the HRW report was indeed historic, though overdue. “As pointed out by an equally earth-shattering UN report in March 2017, Israel is already an apartheid state”.

    Continue reading

    Cornel West on Palestine

    Useful Idiots, Apr 30, 2021

    Friend-of-show Dr. Cornel West has been in the news a lot of late, and not always in a happy way. At the end of February, the brilliant professor of Philosophy, Divinity, and African-American studies announced he was leaving his longtime employers at Harvard University, and moving back to Union Theological Seminary, where he began his teaching career back in 1977. Harvard denied his request to be considered for tenure, apparently for political reasons.

    On Useful Idiots, West talked about the likely reasons behind Harvard’s decision (outspokenness on Palestine?), Joe Biden’s first 100 days, and the influence of his late mother Irene B. West.

    Also: Matt and Katie debate how many Secret Service agents it takes to get Mike Pence up a ski hill, we denounce the deeply unfunny campaign against the #YangGang​, and we give detailed reviews of all of the movies nominated for Best Picture from this year’s Academy Awards ceremony (without seeing them of course). Is Nomadland a space adventure? Is Mank a misspelled fur-bearing animal? What’s the over/under on debilitating-disease themes for next year’s Oscars?

    We explore all these important questions, and more, on this week’s Useful Idiots.