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Opinion | For Decades, I Defended Israel From Claims of Apartheid. I No Longer Can

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Israel 2023, South Africa 1948.

I’ve lived through it before: grabbing power, fascism and racism, destroying democracy. Israel is going where South Africa was 75 years ago. It’s like watching the replay of a horror movie.

In 1948, as a teenager in Cape Town, I followed the results of the May 26 election on a giant board on a newspaper building. The winner-takes-all electoral system produced distorted results: the Afrikaner Nationalist party, with its smaller partner, won 79 parliamentary seats against 74 for the United Party and its smaller partner.

But the Nats, as they were called, in fact won only 37.7 percent of the vote against the opposition’s 49.18 percent. Although the opposition got more than 11 percent more votes, the Nats said they had a majority and could do what they wanted.

In the Israel of 2023, I’m reliving some of these same experiences. Our proportional election system can distort results as well: last November, Likud, with its smaller partners, won 64 seats against 56 for the opposition. In fact, the right-wing bloc won by only 0.6 percent of the vote.

The 0.6 percent government says that it represents the will of the majority and can do whatever it wants. It goes on saying this even though a poll from the Israel Democracy Institute shows that less than one-third of Israelis back its law to end the so-called reasonableness standard, which allowed the High Court to overturn government decisions it deemed unreasonable.

South Africa enjoyed democracy – that is, among the whites who were 20 percent of the population. Blacks had no right to vote; only some multiracial and Asian South Africans could vote. Those who were not white suffered heavy racial discrimination in every part of their lives.

In Israel, Arabs, who form about 21 percent of the population, can vote. But they do suffer discrimination: Muslims and Christians are not drafted, and those who do not do army service lose out on benefits. The Jewish National Fund owns about 13 percent of Israel’s land and bars non-Jews – that is, Arabs – from owning or renting it.

The coalition promises to deepen the discrimination. It has already threatened to withdraw millions of shekels meant for upgrading poor Arab living conditions.

In South Africa, the Nationalist victory meant apartheid, which intensified and institutionalized the existing discrimination against people of color.

In 2001, I joined Israel’s government delegation to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban. The Sharon government invited me because of my expertise after a quarter-century as a journalist in South Africa; my specialty was reporting apartheid close up.

At the conference, I was disturbed and angered by the multitude of lies and exaggerations about Israel. During the years since, I have argued with all my might against the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state: in lectures, newspaper articles, on TV and in a book.

However, the accusation is becoming fact. First, the Nation-State law elevates Jews above fellow citizens who are Arab – Muslim, Druze, Bedouin, and Christian. Every day sees government ministers and their allies venting racism, and following up with discriminatory actions. There is no mercy even for the Druze who, like Jews, have been conscripted into the military since 1948.

Second, Israel can no longer claim security as the reason for our behavior in the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. After 56 years, our occupation can no longer be explained as temporary, pending a solution to the conflict with Palestinians. We are heading toward annexation, with calls to double the 500,000 Israeli settlers already in the West Bank.

The army is fully complicit in the illegal seizure of land and the creation of settlement outposts. The government misuses many million shekels for settlers. It abuses its own laws. Settlers kill Palestinians and destroy houses and cars. The courts seldom intervene. Soldiers stand by and watch.

We deny Palestinians any hope of freedom and normal lives. We believe our own propaganda that a few million people will meekly accept perpetual inferiority and oppression.

The government is driving Israel deeper and deeper into inhuman, cruel behavior beyond any defense. I don’t have to be religious to know that this is a shameful betrayal of Jewish morality and history.

In South Africa, nice words were used for destructive laws. Imposing apartheid on universities to restrict black access was done by the “Extension of University Education Act.” Tightening the “pass” – the document which was the basic means of control over blacks – was done by the “Abolition of Passes (Coordination of Documents) Act.”

In Israel, “judicial reform” is used to describe the destruction of democracy, starting with ending judicial review of the executive and Knesset. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells foreign TV that the changes are small and the opposition is silly. He does not explain why then he and his partners have been ruthlessly determined to ram it through despite colossal opposition and with the country on fire.

In South Africa, removing the vote from multiracial and Asian citizens set off mass protests, led by World War II veterans. The highest court, the Appellate Division, struck down the vote law as unconstitutional. The Nationalists used their majority in parliament to set up a High Court of Parliament, which overruled the Appellate Division, and was then dumped. Multiracial and Asian citizens lost the right to vote.

Opposition to apartheid grew. The Nats, with their majority in parliament, enacted the Suppression of Communism Act, giving the justice minister the authority to issue arbitrary decrees severely curtailing personal freedoms. Punishments included house arrest and being forbidden to be with more than one other person, and prohibition on public speaking or writing. Offenders could get up to five years in jail. Communists were the first target, followed by liberals – even fervent anti-communists – and anyone who opposed apartheid, peacefully or violently. Then came 30-day detention without trial, which grew to three months, then six months and finally detention without end.

Many thousands were “banned,” detained without trial and sentenced to lengthy imprisonment. Army and police repeatedly went into segregated black townships and killed and brutalized people.

In Israel, about 1,200 West Bank Palestinians are reported to be imprisoned without trial. The army constantly raids West Bank towns, wreaking havoc and detaining more so-called terrorist suspects. Tragedies continue.

Under the guise of fighting crime in the Arab community, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir wants a law to give the police the power to jail Israelis without charge or trial – a policy already practiced in the West Bank.

Ben-Gvir has already replaced the Tel Aviv police chief, whom he reviled for being too lenient on protestors. He has ensured that the prisons head’s tenure will conclude at the end of this year. He is checking promotions and hiring in police and prisons. He wants an expensive “national guard,” under his control.

In South Africa, a secret Afrikaner organization, the Broederbond, (Band of Brothers), pulled the strings behind the scenes. It approved every job of significance: school headmasters, police, senior prison and army officers and the civil service members. Its partner was the Dutch Reformed Church, described as the Nationalist Party at prayer. Calvinist and conservative, its priests declared that the Bible was literally true, that it justified apartheid and Afrikaners were the Chosen People whose mission was to save “white civilization.”

The Nats applied “Christian National Education” to schools. Radio and television were tightly controlled. Movies and theater were censored. Thousands of books were banned as “undesirable, objectionable or obscene.” Marriage across color lines was prohibited. The entire country was divided so that people of different races lived in their own areas; whites took the most and the best. Millions of people of color were forced out of their homes.

In Israel, the ultra-Orthodox have joined forces with Likud and religious nationalists to secure unlimited money for their separate schools, to keep their children out of the army and to impose their religious dictates on the entire country. They control Jewish marriage and divorce, and allow only Orthodox marriages. Their reach is only spreading.

In South Africa, international opposition to apartheid was rejected. The country became the polecat of the world. United Nations condemnations and boycotts and business disinvestment were dismissed. The economy sank. Finally, ruined, it could no longer support apartheid and this was a major reason forcing whites to give up their power and privileges in 1994.

In Israel the results of the coalition’s assault on the judiciary, and its promises of much more to come, are well reported. The disastrous effects on the economy are already emerging. The United States gives Israel $3.8 billion-plus every year and defends us against attacks, whether justified or not, in international forums. We depend on the United States for survival, but we are losing support in Congress. Coalition leaders couldn’t care less.

The Education Ministry’s director general has quit in protest of the judicial overhaul. Judges are denigrated. The coalition wants the attorney general fired. The lawyers’ association is being defanged. Stringent control is underway for the media. Shabbat observance is coerced. Culture and women’s rights are coming under restrictive control. Bedouin are evicted en masse. Protestors are called traitors.

We are at the mercy of fascists and racists (both carefully chosen words) who cannot, and will not, stop.

I write about South Africa and Israel because I know both of them, 53 years in one and nearly 26 years in the other. Neither is unique. The same pattern of right-wing repression has happened in our time in Hungary and Poland, in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and earlier, in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.

In Israel, I am now witnessing the apartheid with which I grew up. Israel is giving a gift to its enemies in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and its allies, especially in South Africa, where denial of Israel’s existence is intense among many Blacks, in trade unions and communist and Muslim circles. BDS activists will continue to make their claims, out of ignorance and/or malevolence, spreading lies about Israel. They have long distorted what is already bad into grotesqueness, but will now claim vindication. Israel is giving them truth.

Benjamin Pogrund, South African-born, was deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg, and came on Aliyah to launch a dialogue center in Jerusalem. He was awarded South Africa’s Order of Ikhamanga Silver for services to journalism and academia during apartheid.

Article link:
Article source: Haaretz | Benjamin Pogrund | Aug 10, 2023

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Editorial | The Legal Coup Is the Means. The Ends Are Annexation and Apartheid

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While public attention is focused on the government’s planned legal coup and the opposition and the protest movement are both devoting their energy to preventing it, the settlers are expanding their settlement enterprise, preparing to annex territory and erase the Green Line – the line between Israel and the West Bank where Israeli sovereignty ends and on which the two-state solution is based.

On Sunday, the cabinet approved a decision that will shorten the process of obtaining building permits in the settlements and give Bezalel Smotrich, a minister in the Defense Ministry and finance minister, the power to approve planning procedures.

The settlers’ patience has paid off. After 27 years, they have managed to bring about a change in the way the system operates. The government decided to give a messianic settler, one who favors Israeli sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel and supports Jewish supremacy, the power to speed up construction in the settlements.

Granted, there has been construction there until now, but for decades every stage of the process needed approval at the political level, and this mechanism enabled at least a bit of the construction to be blocked. For years, defense ministers and prime ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu, have intervened periodically due to political, security or diplomatic needs, to the settlers’ displeasure.

The change will remove some of these checks, accelerate construction and hand the power to approve plans to Smotrich instead of the defense minister. That is what he was promised in the coalition agreements, in which Netanyahu sold the country to form a government at any price. This means the Supreme Planning Council will now be able to discuss master plans without needing the government’s approval at all stages. In other words, the settlers will decide for themselves and the state will fall in line. Next week, the Supreme Planning Council will discuss plans for building thousands of homes in the settlements.

Smotrich and the settlers understood very well that Netanyahu’s utter dependence on the extreme right opened a historic window of opportunity for them, and they are exploiting every moment of it to take over more and more Palestinian land to build, alter the area irreversibly and entrench one large apartheid state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The crisis that Israel is mired in is a golden opportunity for the settlers and their destructive project.

The Palestinian Authority announced in response that it will boycott a meeting of the Joint Economic Committee with Israel that was supposed to take place on Monday. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry also denounced the decision as a gross violation of both international law and the international community’s decisions. But no one should assume this will be enough to puncture the settler government’s megalomaniac delusions.

The international community, the opposition and the protest organizations must understand that the legal coup is just the means; the goals are annexation and apartheid. The fight against them must be a top priority for anyone who cares about Israel’s future.

Article link:
Article source: Haaretz | Editorial | Jun 19, 2023

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Greens say Israel is ‘practising crime of apartheid’ and call for boycotts of far-right figures

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The Greens have adopted a new policy position on Palestine and Israel which expresses concern that Israel’s “ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land” is eroding the potential for a two-state solution and states that “Israel is practising the crime of apartheid”.

The updated resolution — which was backed by Greens MPs and senators and drafted in collaboration with Greens for Palestine and Jewish Greens — was formally adopted at the party’s national conference on Sunday.

While the Greens have long called for Australia to recognise Palestinian statehood, the party has hardened its language against Israel and urged the government to boycott meetings with far-right Israeli ministers.

“The state of Israel continues to deny the right of self-determination to Palestinians and continues to dispossess them of their land,” the resolution states.

“We aim to rectify this injustice in a way that will allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace, security and equality, exercising self-determination as described by the United Nations Charter.”

Since the Greens’ previous policy on the issue was adopted in 2010, two leading international human rights organisations have joined groups in the region to accuse Israel of committing apartheid through its policies towards and treatment of Palestinians.

The party’s new policy document says: “The state of Israel is practising the crime of apartheid against Palestinians as noted by prominent human rights organisations – including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as Palestinian and Israeli groups including al-Haq, Yesh Din and B’Tselem.”

It also states that “Israel’s ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land is rendering a two-state solution unachievable” and says the rise in right wing extremism is “contributing to the intensification of repression, violence and a further worsening of the humanitarian situation for Palestinians”.

The Israeli government has previously dismissed the findings and accused the organisations of peddling an “anti-Israel agenda” and pouring “fuel on the fire of anti-Semitism”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Australian government supports a two-state solution and has urged Israel against expanding and building settlements in the occupied West Bank which are illegal under international law.

“The Australian Government recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own and is committed to a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders,” the statement said.

“We have consistently called on all parties to refrain from activities that diminish the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution, including settlement activity in the Palestinian Territories.”

“The Australian Government will engage with members of the Israeli government as appropriate and necessary. We have a longstanding relationship with Israel that allows us to have frank discussions with the Israeli Government, including on areas of disagreement.”

Last year Foreign Minister Penny Wong rejected the use of the term “apartheid” arguing “it’s not a term that’s been found to apply by any international court and is not helpful in progressing the meaningful dialogue and negotiation necessary to achieve a just and enduring peace”.

Labor’s 2021 national platform calls “on the next Labor Government to recognise Palestine as a state” and to treat it as an important priority.

Greens call for boycott of far-right ministers

Greens leader Adam Bandt has also called on the Albanese government to boycott meetings with two far-right Israeli government ministers.

Israel’s Minister for National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir has been convicted on numerous charges including supporting a terrorist organisation and incitement to racism, while Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich publicly said a Palestinian village should be “wiped out”.

Last month a European Union delegation reportedly cancelled a diplomatic event over the planned attendance of Mr Ben-Gvir, while in March US officials declined to address a conference where Mr Smotrich was a guest speaker.

“Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is increasingly a threat to both Palestinian self-determination and Israeli democracy, with far-right nationalist Ministers terrifyingly committed to violence against Palestinians,” Mr Bandt said.

“Far-right Ministers are making justice and peace impossible, and it’s time Australia refused to meet with these Ministers and redoubled the push for peace.”

The ABC understands there are no meetings currently planned between Australian ministers or officials and the pair, who hold portfolios that give them responsibility for major security functions in Israel and policies in the West Bank.

Greens Foreign Relations spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said Australia should also apply Magnitsky-style sanctions against them.

“These two right-wing extremists are being rejected not only by foreign governments, but by progressive Jewish people across the world, who see that their actions and language are further pushing the Israeli government to the far-right, and rendering a two-state solution unachievable,” Senator Steele-John said.

“Australia needs to join an open, human rights-aligned public debate about the state of Israel’s policies toward, and treatment of, Palestinian people.

“This should start with boycotts and Magnitsky-style sanctions on Ben-Gvir and Smotrich.”

Greens oppose IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

The Greens have also rejected a controversial definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the Morrison government, and backed by Labor, which critics say stifles legitimate criticism against the government of Israel.

The party’s resolution states that “criticism of Israeli government policies and actions is not anti-Semitic” and the party opposes the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism because it “conflates criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism”.

Ms Wong has previously said the definition is “so important because it ensures respectful debate, where disagreements are aired without descending into hateful and anti-Semitic slurs”.

The ABC has requested comment from the Israeli embassy.

Article link:
Article source: ABC | Nour Haydar | 5.6.23

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Civil society organizations condemn Israel’s targeted smear campaign against UN rapporteur, Francesca Albanese

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Civil society organizations condemn Israel’s targeted smear campaign against UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese

The smear campaign against UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese is the latest in a pattern of attacks aimed at silencing criticism of Israel and undermining the work of the United Nations.


The following statement was issued by 86 civil society organizations on December 24, 2022. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

On 14 December 2022, Israel’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva smeared the respected and eminent UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied since 1967, Francesca Albanese, in a direct attempt to attack and undermine the mandate she has been entrusted with and thwart her expert human rights work on Palestine. The statement which contains baseless accusations of antisemitism, raises concerns about the “impunity that exists today regarding antisemitism and antisemitic comments made by UN officials”. More specifically, it refers to a historic Facebook post made by UNSR Francesca Albanese almost a decade ago, in 2014, which at the time reflected on the reasons for international inaction on the question of Palestine. Therein, UNSR Albanese opines, “America and Europe, one of them subjugated by the Jewish Lobby, and the other by the sense of guilt about the Holocaust remain on the sidelines […]”. Notably, 2014 was the darkest year in the occupation to date, characterised by devasting human loss, as Israel’s 50-day military offensive on the Gaza Strip, resulted in the killing of 2,215 Palestinians, including 1,639 civilians. The remarks served to castigate the international inaction.

Our organisations warn, that this smear campaign against UNSR Albanese constitutes the latest manifestation in a pattern of Israeli attacks aimed at silencing any legitimate criticism of the inhuman manner in which it treats Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Previously, Israel objected to the appointment of Francesca Albanese as UN Rapporteur, arguing that she “harbors significant bias against the Jewish State”, a reference directed to her widely acclaimed joint academic treatise on “Palestinian Refugees in International Law”, published by the prestigious, Oxford University Press. Such attempts to undermine the expertise of the UN Special Rapporteur to discredit the mandate are of particular concern given the importance of its functions: protecting at-risk communities, promoting transparency and calling for accountability of the perpetrators of rights abuses.


Notably, Israel has a demonstrated record of circumventing UN work in Palestine, including systematic non-cooperation with UN Special Procedures, in violation of its obligations under the UN Charter. Former UN Special Rapporteur, Michael Lynk was continuously denied entry into Palestine, measures which clearly intended to impede his work monitoring the human rights situation on the ground in the OPT. Similarly, former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk was denied entry into the OPT by Israel because of his “methodic criticism of Israel”. While UN Special Rapporteur Wibisono even resigned his position as his “efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way [by Israel]”.

Israel’s attempts to frustrate the monitoring and documentation of human rights abuses are not limited to this mandate and entry was also denied to UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo, to prevent her from witnessing first-hand issues related to violence against women in Palestine. Denials of entry were similarly imposed on UN Fact-Finding Missions established to investigate the human rights situation in the OPT. Meanwhile, in 2020, Israel refused to grant visas to UN staff from the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, expelling 15 international staff from the OPT after 26 years of operating there, a situation which continues to this day. In a statement, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet warned that, “Israel’s treatment of our staff is part of a wider and worrying trend to block human rights access to the occupied Palestinian territory… This raises the question of what exactly the Israeli authorities are trying to hide”.

There is an obvious link between this pattern of attacks on UN experts and staff and Israel’s intent to maintain its prolonged belligerent occupation, de facto and de jure annexations of Palestinian territory, the unlawful transfer in of settlers and institutionalised discriminatory laws, policies and practices to maintain the regime. This pattern of attacks against UN experts takes place within a shrinking space, which threatens the fundamental right of freedom of expression of those willing to expose Israel’s unacceptable human rights abuses in the OPT. It is time to cease Israel’s onerous and targeted restrictions on this freedom of expression, which in this case stymie reflection on the political enablers of Israel’s continued impunity for severe violations of international law, some of which are peremptory.

We commend UNSR Francesca Albanese’s tireless efforts toward the protection of human rights in the OPT and in raising awareness of the alarming daily violations of Palestinian rights. We call on third States to strongly condemn this politically-motivated attack on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and to compel Israel to comply with its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations.

List of endorsing organizations: *

  1. Academics for Palestine (Ireland)
  2. Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
  3. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
  4. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
  5. Aldameer Association for Human Rights
  6. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
  7. Al-Quds Human Rights Clinic- Al-Quds University
  8. American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
  9. Arab Canadian Lawyers Association
  10. Arab Cause Solidarity Committee (CSCA)
  11. Arab Lawyers Association (UK)
  12. Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR)
  13. Asociación Americana de Juristas
  14. Association Belgo-Palestinienne WB
  15. Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
  16. Association Switzerland Palestine
  17. AssoPacePalestina
  18. Australian Centre for International Justice
  19. BACBI Belgian Committee for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  20. BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
  21. BDS Vancouver/Coast Salish Territories
  22. Bisan Center for Research and Development
  23. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)
  24. Center for Defense of Liberties & Civil Rights “HURRYYAT”
  25. CJPME Saskatoon
  26. Comhlamh Justice for Palestine
  27. Cultura è Libertà. Una campagna per la Palestina
  28. Dalhousie University
  29. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
  30. Dibeen For Environmental Development
  31. Dutch Scholars for Palestine
  32. European Legal Support Center (ELSC)
  33. Finnish-Arab Friendship Society
  34. Front Line Defenders
  35. Gaza Action Ireland
  36. Gesellschaft Schweiz-Palästina
  37. Global Legal Action Network
  38. Greater Toronto for BDS
  39. Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
  40. HK Norway – The Norwegian Union of Commerce and office employees
  41. Housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition
  42. HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht
  43. Human Rights & Democracy Media Center “SHAMS”
  44. Human Rights for All (HR4A) Saskatchewan
  45. Independent Commission for Human Rights
  46. International Association of Democratic Lawyers
  47. International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
  48. Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  49. Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
  50. Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste
  51. Justice for Palestinians
  52. Kairos foundation of Nigeria
  53. Labor for Palestine
  54. Law for Palestine
  55. Leiden University
  56. Liverpool John Moores University
  57. National Lawyers Guild International Committee
  58. NOVACT
  59. Oakville Palestinian Rights Association
  60. Palestina Solidariteit vzw
  61. Palestine Legal
  62. Palestine Solidarity Alliance South Africa
  63. Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Cape Town (PSC-CT)
  64. Palestinian and Jewish Unity
  65. Pax Christi Vlaanderen
  66. Physicians for Human Rights Israel
  67. Potchefstroom For Palestine
  68. Regina Peace Council
  69. Sadaka-the Ireland Palestine Alliance
  70. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  71. South African BDS Coalition
  72. South African Jews for a Free Palestine
  73. Stellenbosch University Palestinian Solidarity Forum
  74. Students4Change
  75. The Canadian BDS Coalition
  76. The Community Action Center/ Al-Quds University
  77. The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP)
  78. The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO-Norway)
  79. The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy-MIFTAH
  80. The Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO)
  81. The Rights Forum
  82. S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)
  83. Union of Palestinian women committees (UPWC)
  84. United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI)
  85. University of Groningen
  86. Vrede vzw – Belgium

* The list of endorsing organisations included herein is as of 24 December 2022. Please note that this statement is still open for endorsement by organisations, through the following link here. The list will be updated on a rolling basis.

Article link:
Article source: Mondoweiss, 26/12/2022

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“World’s oldest hatred”: Rabbi Shmuley claims people who attack Israel hate Jews

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Author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says when people claim they hate Israel but love Jewish people, they are “dyed in the wool liars” and anti-Semites.

He said Jewish people are not hated because of “Israeli aggression”, but rather Israel is hated because of anti-Semitism.

“The reason why people attack Israel is they don’t care about Arab rights and they don’t care about Arab LGBTQ rights – they care about hating Jews,” Rabbi Shmuley told Sky News host Rita Panahi.

“This is the world’s oldest hatred, we see it repeated over and over again.”

Article link:
Article source: Sky News, 29/12/2022

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Palestinians ‘weren’t there at all’– Netanyahu tells credulous Jordan Peterson

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Palestinians ‘weren’t there at all’– Netanyahu tells credulous Jordan Peterson


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Conservative scholar/media star Jordan Peterson turned over a new leaf this fall by touring Israel with the ideologue Ben Shapiro and dining with Benjamin Netanyahu. Now Peterson has published an interview with Netanyahu titled “Does Israel Have a Right to Exist?” in which he allows Netanyahu to rant against Palestinians and misrepresent history:

Israel did not create “a single refugee” in 1948. No, neighboring Arab armies did that by telling the Palestinians to flee. This has always been Jewish land, the bible tells us so. Though before Jews returned to it, it was just a “barren dump” and “wasteland” and “ruin.”

There was no such thing as Palestinians. They were “southern Syrians” till Zionism built a “miracle” in the desert and they emigrated to the land.

Peterson has a large following, and the interview has gotten 800,000 views in eight days. Though happily, many commenters on the video have denounced Peterson for his hospitality to racism and historical fictions.

Here are some of Netanyahu’s Zionist fables. On the refugees:

“Seventy five years ago when the state of Israel was declared, you did not have a single Arab refugee…. In fact the refugees are the result of Arab aggression and not its cause. …. The Palestinian refugees… fled in advance of the advancing armies [from five Arab countries] being promised that they could return in a few days, the Jews would be annihilated and driven into the sea, that didn’t work out, thank god.

The Zionists “did not kick out an existing population with a national consciousness.” Because no one was there, it was barren land.

“The Arabs who had conquered the land [in the 600s] basically left it barren. They never made it their own. It was a barren land. Practically it was an empty land…. The Jews came back in the 19th century to the land of Israel. The result of this return was that we started building farms, factories, places of employment. Arabs from nearby countries started emigrating. And they now became– they call themselves Palestinians. They reconstructed history, they said we’ve been here for centuries. No they haven’t. They weren’t there at all, and they didn’t have a national consciousness….

“It’s not your land, it’s been our land for 3500 years. If you took over somebody’s apartment, kicked them out, dispossessed them, and they never gave up their claim… and you left this barren dump, OK? And the families, the progeny of the people you kicked out came back, rebuilt the house… you cannot come back and tell them, you don’t belong here, we’re going to kick them out.

“Especially since your latecomers who have come to live in part of the house, which is what so-called Palestinians are. We say to them you can live here, we can live here, but it’s our land, its our state…”

This is Nakba denial, and hateful to those who respect human rights and history. Netanyahu’s claim that Palestinians are “southern Syrians” is the same line that Sheldon Adelson, his friend and the late Republican donor, used to put out.

Jews have suffered more than anyone else.

“If any people has any right to a state, if any people never gave up their dreams… If any people rebuilt their home from nothing, from barren, wasted land, it’s the Jewish people. To tell them, you who have suffered more than anyone else… you have no right to be there, but the Arabs who are trying to destroy you, they have a right, That is a complete perversion of history…

The land belongs to us.

“The Jews belong to this land, this land belongs to the Jews, the Palestinians are free to live here next to us, among us, but they are not free to demand the dissolution of the Jewish state…

There’s no occupation, Netanyahu says, using biblical terms for the West Bank: “our so- called occupation of the heartland of the Jewish people, Judea and Samaria.”

More ranting about Arabs are not productive:

“We came back to this land to this land that was laid barren by the Arab conquest, brought it back to life, and allowed Arab immigration, what we call now Palestinian immigration, to come back in…

“They did nothing with the land. They built one town. Ramle. That’s it. Hundreds of new sites that we built…. The Arabs did nothing with it… We perform this miracle… it was desert, it was nothing.”

Netanyahu repeats that it’s like being evicted from an apartment and when you come back, there are “no tenants” there.

“They took over my apartment a long time ago…The apartment was left barren and many decades– in this case, centuries later, I come back to this barren mess, this ruin, and I build it up back, I not only improve it, I make my ownership based on improvement, but that nobody else did anything with it. There was no someone else! There practically were no tenants, that’s my argument… “

Peterson never challenges Netanyahu’s lies about Palestinian history and Palestinian refugees. He does not touch on Netanyahu’s corruption trial or Netanyahu’s current plan to take on fascistic coalition partners to gut the Israeli legal system so he won’t go to jail.

So the interview is not so different from PBS News Hour’s Judy Woodruff, interviewing Netanyahu for 11 minutes a few weeks ago and leaving him off the hook on corruption and racism and apartheid charges (“You see a home for the Palestinians in years to come?”).


Peterson accepts the claptrap surely because he is a Christian Zionist and opposes the American left at every turn, so Netanyahu is a hero. But Peterson offers a rationalization for theft that his own commenters are mocking. There is a “principle of ownership in English common law,” Peterson says, that “if you own territory and you’re doing nothing to it and someone squats on it” and does something productive, that someone gets to keep the land. “You have to do something productive with [territory].. The Jews have actually taken the land and did something with it. … They invited other people to live there… It wasn’t an oppressive regime.” This is high-minded hasbara, or explaining Israel to the world.

In turn, Netanyahu justifies Israeli land theft on the basis of the bible.

“The bible describes how the Jewish people lived on this land, were attached on that land, fought off conquerors sometimes were conquered but stayed on their land… till the 7th century… We were conquered by the Romans, conquered by the Byzantines. They did a lot of bad things to us, but they didn’t really exile us…. The loss of our land actually occurred when the Arab conquest took place in the 7th century. The Arabs burst out from Arabia and they did something that no other conqueror… nobody did before… They actually started taking over the land of the Jewish farmer. They brought in military colonies that took over the land.”

(Military colonies — a wee bit of projection there!)

“So it is under the Arab conquerors that the Jews lost their homeland.. The Arabs were the colonials, the Jews were the natives dispossessed… We were flung to the far corners of the earth, suffered unimaginable suffering because we had no homeland. … We never gave up the dream of coming back to our ancestral homeland.”

This is claptrap. The scholar Shlomo Sand debunks it in his books “The Invention of the Jewish People” and “The Invention of the Land of Israel.”

The claim that there was not a single refugee at the time of Israel’s founding is laughable. Consider that the scholar Ibrahim Abu Lughod and his family left Jaffa in May 1948 before the state of Israel was created because they feared for their lives. Hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians took similar actions.

Many fled because of violence by Zionist militias who sought to take over areas coveted by the Jewish state (like Deir Yassin on the road to Jerusalem) outside the boundaries the U.N. had drawn. Many were trucked away from their villages by the Israeli army so as to create a Jewish majority in the new state. Most importantly, at least 700,000 refugees were not permitted by Israel to return once the armistice was achieved in 1949.

How can a serious scholar indulge the racism and cultural supremacy of saying that Palestinians “did nothing” with the land? And does it matter whether the people you kick out of your country have a “national consciousness”? Don’t they still have a right to their homes and villages? Records are clear that over 400 villages were erased by the Zionists. This is dangerous thinking, and it’s a sad reflection on Peterson that he humors it.

Peterson characterizes the Nakba as an intellectual fad. Why has the idea of Palestinians being indigenous and displaced “gained such cachet in the west?” Peterson asks.

Netanyahu is clearly nettled by the rise in consciousness of the Nakba in the west. “Intellectual elites have created a fake history that deracinates Jewish roots,” he says. He seeks to counter the “settler-colonial” critique of Zionism with slogans, of which he’s a master.

We are not the Belgians in the Congo, we are not the Dutch in Indonesia, we are not the British in South Africa. We had been there all the time…. We were kicked out of the Congo and nothing happened in the Congo. Nothing. no other people there, no development, nothing..

He reprises Joan Peters’s argument, in “From Time Immemorial”, fully discredited by Norman Finkelstein, that the Palestinians in Israel in 1947 had emigrated there to get in on the great developments of Zionism.

Netanyahu justifies the pro-Zionist Balfour Declaration by the British in 1917, later endorsed by the U.S.– on a similar basis, the bible and Jewish cultural supremacy.

They [western leaders] basically knew that the land was practically empty.. It made sense both from biblical prognostication and also a humanist view that this evil of history, this injustice of history would be corrected. These Jews who had contributed so much to civilization, and morality and history… [the leaders] concluded knowing the history I describe that is so unknown today on college campuses and among so-called intellectuals that Jews had a right to rebuild their national life in their ancestral land.

Reflect that this is the racist political leader, praised by the Democratic establishment, who successfully demolished the possibility of a two-state solution during his first 15 years in office.

Comments on the video are mostly scathing.

Lion Heart. “A quick summarising: If your house is empty and you only put a couch there, someone should come and be in your house instead.” Also judging by Benjamin’s logic, natives should be taking America and Canada back and rule. Right?

theobnoxiousweed”: “Netanyahu’s main philosophy of the entitlement for Israel is based on the inherent superiority of the Jewish people. He repeatedly describes the lands around Jerusalem as barren wastelands. A similar philosophy to my ancestors who declared Australia empty a few hundred years back and thought of the inhabitants as having no entitlement to the land they lived on due to their perceived primitive culture.”

Reid Schwantz: “My great great great great great great great great grand father, the first human on earth posses the whole lands and oceans under the atmosphere where all human live nowadays. inspired by mr. netanyahu, now i’m thinking about to claim it back after 50k years or so.”

Article link:
Article source: Mondoweiss, 14/12/2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

Israelis have put Benjamin Netayahu back in power. Palestinians will likely pay the price

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Israelis Have Put Benjamin Netanyahu Back in Power. Palestinians Will Likely Pay the Price.

Dec. 13, 2022, 5:05 a.m. ET

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By Diana Buttu (New York Times)

Ms. Buttu is a lawyer and former adviser to the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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HAIFA, Israel — As the prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu finalizes the formation of Israel’s most extreme right-wing government to date, I, along with other Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied territories, am filled with dread about what the next few years will bring.

Every day since the elections, Palestinians wake up with a what-now apprehension, and more often than not, there’s yet another bit of news that adds to our anxiety. The atmosphere of racism is so acute that I hesitate to speak or read Arabic on public transportation. Palestinian rights have been pushed to the back burner.

We Palestinians live knowing that a vast majority of Israeli politicians don’t support an end to Israel’s military rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip nor equality for all of its citizens. We are made to feel as though we are interlopers whose presence is temporary and simply being tolerated until such time as it is feasible to get rid of us.

According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 48 percent of Jewish Israelis agree that “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” I look around in my mixed Haifa neighborhood and wonder which of my neighbors voted for the extremist candidates who have voiced similar opinions. “It is only a matter of time before we are gone,” my friends tell me. To add insult to injury, Israelis blame Palestinians for the rise in extremism and racism, rather than looking at how racism has become normalized in Israeli society. It is blaming the victim rather than the aggressor.

Since his recent election, Mr. Netanyahu has been offering important positions in government to vocal anti-Palestinian politicians. The incoming governing coalition includes the extremist and racist Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power, party, whose leaders have a history of supporting violence against Palestinians.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a settler who leads the Jewish Power party, has been convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist group. Earlier this month, Mr. Ben-Gvir reportedly hailed an Israeli soldier who fatally shot a Palestinian young man in the West Bank during a scuffle — an act caught on video and widely circulated on social media — by remarking, “Precise action, you really fulfilled the honor of all of us and did what was assigned to you.” Israel’s current police chief blamed him for helping ignite the surge in violence in May 2021. He will now be minister for national security, putting him in charge of Israel’s domestic police and border police in the occupied West Bank, home to roughly three million Palestinians.

Over the course of decades, and especially since the erection of the wall along the West Bank, Israelis seem to have become immune to how Palestinians live under Israeli military rule and what it is to be Palestinian in Israel. Conversations with neighbors in Haifa about the nakba — or “catastrophe,” in which hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled with the creation of Israel in 1948 — or Israel’s military occupation that amounts to apartheid or even racism in Israel are always met with denial or with justification, so we have learned never to speak to one another.

On Dec. 1, Mr. Netanyahu inked a coalition agreement with Bezalel Smotrich, another settler and head of the Religious Zionism party, naming him minister of finance and giving him control over a Defense Ministry department. Mr. Smotrich has called himself a “proud homophobe” and has said that the 2015 firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank by suspected Jewish militants in which an 18-month-old child and his parents were burned to death was not a terrorist attack. In 2016, he said that he was in favor of segregation between Jewish and Palestinian women in Israeli hospital maternity wards.

Last year, Mr. Smotrich mentioned that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, didn’t “finish the job” of expelling Palestinians in 1948. He has also promoted a subjugation plan in which Palestinians (who accept the plan) would be considered “resident aliens” while those who do not would be dealt with by the Israeli Army. As part of his Defense Ministry post, Mr. Smotrich will have unprecedented authority over the policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and over Palestinian construction, and will be able to appoint the heads of the administration responsible for the government’s civil policy in the West Bank.

Both the Jewish Power and the Religious Zionism party platforms are almost exclusively focused on Palestinians and about ensuring that Jewish supremacy reigns. The Religious Zionism party aims to retroactively legitimize settlements in the West Bank.

I fear that Israel’s violent repression of Palestinians will only increase in the near future as I consider the record of Mr. Netanyahu and his previous coalitions — a history of relentless race-baiting and incitement of prejudice against Palestinians in Israel, the passage of the Jewish Nation-State law (which enshrines the privileging of Jewish citizens), the open fire policy, Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes, its continued colonization of the West Bank and repeated mass bombings of Gaza.

With Mr. Ben-Gvir, Mr. Smotrich and other extremists in his coalition, Mr. Netanyahu will very likely continue in this path, particularly since he has been the enabler of so many of these policies. Jewish Power and Religious Zionism are natural extensions of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies. Failing to recognize this is akin to putting one’s head in the sand.

If there is any silver lining to our grim situation it might be that the rise of Mr. Ben-Gvir and his fellow extremists will open the eyes of more Americans. Some former State Department officials and diplomats have already called upon the Biden administration not to deal with the most extreme members of the new Israeli coalition. American Jewish groups have also expressed alarm at the new coalition. But American policy is unlikely to change in response to these dark tidings. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken of “equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, justice and dignity” for Israelis and Palestinians, but what guarantees will he be offering to ensure that Palestinians live in freedom and security with this new government?

As Israel lurched further to the right, the United States and other Western governments continued to normalize and legitimize extremists once deemed beyond the pale — from the notorious former general Ariel Sharon, when he became prime minister, to the race-baiting ultranationalist and settler Avigdor Lieberman when Mr. Netanyahu, during his second run as prime minister, made him a cabinet minister in 2009.

At the time, the appointment of Mr. Lieberman — who had called for loyalty oaths for Israel’s Palestinian and Jewish citizens and a redrawing of borders that would strip Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship — was widely criticized. But soon enough American and European officials were meeting with Mr. Leiberman.

There is little hope that this won’t happen this time, too, and what was unthinkable but a few years ago will become a reality, with Palestinians inevitably paying the heaviest price for Israel’s electoral choices.

Diana Buttu is a lawyer and former adviser to the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Article link:
Article source: New York Times, 13/12/2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

The Age Letters, ‘Challenging choices’

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I agree with Peter Hartcher (“We must stand with the Uyghurs”, 6/9), but before we take on China, a major trading partner, “we should stand with the Palestinians”, and implement all Hartcher’s recommendations against Israel. Our supposed ally is, according to the same organisations quoted by Hartcher, an apartheid regime and a major violator of Palestinian human rights.