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How South Africa has inspired us all

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

Hind Awwad, national coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, tells Electronic Intifada:

It took the South African BDS campaign 25 years to achieve what we achieved in five years. That is what South Africans and anti-apartheid activists tell us. And we see [new tactics] of BDS activities by the young generation with flash mobs, actions in supermarkets, dances and songs. It takes the BDS campaign to new levels. A growing number of Palestinian trade unions signed the BDS call [and] trade unions in France, Scotland and Ireland are considering ending their relationship with the Israeli Histradut trade union.

Let the churches argue over Palestine

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

A seemingly principled stand on an issue that is generating outrage in ways the corporate media seem unwilling to represent:

America’s largest Presbyterian denomination is preparing for a contentious General Assembly next month as delegates will be asked to consider approving a strongly worded report that calls on the U.S. to stop sending billions of dollars in aid to Israel until it changes its policy toward Palestinians.

“Israel has both the responsibility and the ability to reverse the course of the precipitous decline throughout the region,” states the 172-page report “Breaking Down Walls,” written by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s nine-member Middle East Study Committee.

The report will be considered by the denomination’s 219th General Assembly, meeting July 3-10 in Minneapolis. In 2004, the PC (U.S.A.) became the first mainline Protestant denomination to approve a policy of divestment from Israel. The policy was unpopular with many Presbyterians and was later rescinded.

The new report doesn’t call for divestment, but it does urge the U.S. to halt aid to Israel until the Israeli government ends the expansion of settlements in Palestinian territories, ceases its occupation” of Gaza, and relocates “Israel’s separation barrier” to spots outside of Palestinian territories.

This is what real Palestinians look like

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

Daily life in Gaza through evocative photos in the New York Times online.

Inciting race hatred on Murdoch money

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

A helpful reminder of the kind of hatred that regularly appears in the pages of a leading Murdoch publication.

Alan Howe is a senior figure in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper who loves to demean Arabs and praise Israel (free trips to the Jewish state thanks to the Zionist lobby have certainly helped him hone his subtle message).

His latest really speaks for itself but it’s the kind of bile that makes a mockery of Murdoch hacks talking about “quality journalism”:

It inflames their brains, they have spasms of involuntary violent behaviour, eventually go mad, froth at the mouth, and will bite the hand that feeds them.

Gaza has rabies.

Well, sort of. Actually, its disease is an infestation of self-loathing, ungrateful Islamists. But the symptoms and the prognosis are much the same.

Iran also shows some rabid symptoms – and is appropriately led by the barking-mad President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – as do many of the countries in the Arab world.

Right now, in a change that might yet develop into the greatest threat to those of us who choose to remain civilised, it seems Turkey may be incubating the disease.

Red Cross calls the Gaza blockade illegal

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

Israel may be launching a far from independent investigation into the Gaza flotilla massacre but the real issue remains the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The International Red Cross has released a damning report:

The serious incidents that took place on 31 May between Israeli forces and activists on a flotilla heading for Gaza once again put the spotlight on the acute hardship faced by the population in the Gaza Strip.

As the ICRC has stressed repeatedly, the dire situation in Gaza cannot be resolved by providing humanitarian aid. The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is about to enter its fourth year, choking off any real possibility of economic development. Gazans continue to suffer from unemployment, poverty and warfare, while the quality of Gaza’s health care system has reached an all-time low.  

The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law .

“The closure is having a devastating impact on the 1.5 million people living in Gaza”, said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC’s head of operations for the Middle East. “That is why we are urging Israel to put an end to this closure and call upon all those who have an influence on the situation, including Hamas, to do their utmost to help Gaza’s civilian population. Israel’s right to deal with its legitimate security concerns must be balanced against the Palestinians’ right to live normal, dignified lives.”  

The international community has to do its part to ensure that repeated appeals by States and international organizations to lift the closure are finally heeded.

Afghanistan about to face the mother of all mining booms (and let the whoring begin)

Posted: 14 Jun 2010

Surely a curse and not a blessing. A nation already at war will now find itself sold to the highest bidder:

Has Afghanistan hit the natural-resources jackpot? A Pentagon study says it may have found untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan worth $1 trillion—far more than has ever been found in any previously known reserves. More importantly, according to senior U.S. government officials, the reserves could fundamentally change the Afghan economy, as well as the Afghan war itself.

The deposits—which are full of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and metals like lithium—are so enormous, in fact, that Afghanistan could become a mining capital of the world. “There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, told The New York Times.

“There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.” The newfound reserves will be critical in reshaping the country, which has a gross domestic product of only about $12 billion.

Call JNF by its rightful name (ie. not charity)

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

Not before time and a campaign that should only grow in years to come:

The JNF came under renewed attack this week from anti-Zionists calling for the removal of its charitable status.

Veteran activist Uri Davis – author of Israel: An Apartheid State – addressed a “Stop the JNF” meeting organised by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (Ijan) at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies on Tuesday.

Michael Kalmanovitz, an Ijan UK co-ordinator, said the event was “part of a campaign to expose the role of JNF and to protest at its fundraising activities”.

The campaign, subtitled “Stop greenwashing apartheid”, wants to see the JNF derecognised as a charity “across the globe” .

Mr Kalmanovitz also said: “We are urging organisations that collaborate with JNF to break their links, especially organisations that have anti-racist or environmental credentials.”

He accused the JNF of having built over “stolen Palestinian land in order to hide villages that have been ethnically cleansed” and of currently displacing Bedouins in the Negev to make way for Jewish settlements.

But Samuel Hayek, chairman of JNF – whose listed honorary patrons include Prime Minister David Cameron as well as predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair – rejected the accusations as “groundless” and “part of a campaign to delegitimise Israel”.

Mr Hayek said the campaign against his organisation was not new. “While they continue to make accusations, we continue to build reservoirs and plant trees. We are proud of our ecological work for the people of Israel over the past 100 years.”

Tuesday’s meeting was sponsored by a coalition of organisations including the SOAS Palestine Society, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and “Rabbis for Palestine” (which is linked to the extreme Neturei Karta sect).

Dr Davis, who converted to Islam before his marriage to a Palestinian woman two years ago, is a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and describes himself as a “Palestinian Hebrew of Jewish origins”. He was a prominent figure in UK anti-Zionist circles before returning to Israel in the 1990s.

His website contains a section on the JNF which claims that the organisation is implicated in “Jews-only” land policies that are “worse” than the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

He is also the editor of a new online booklet targeted at the JNF in Canada.

As well as Ijan, the Stop the JNF campaign is endorsed by the Palestinian BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) National Committee and the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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