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Posts Tagged ‘BDS’

Journalist Abby Martin Sues State of Georgia Over Law Requiring Pledge of Allegiance to Israel

Posted by M. C. on February 13, 2020

A lot of people in US government have their allegiances confused.

CAIR, AIPAC-they both want US to bend over.

By Alan Macleod

After refusing to sign a pledge of allegiance to the state of Israel, the state of Georgia shut down a media literacy conference featuring journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin at Georgia Southern University. Martin had recently released a documentary critical of the Israeli government called “Gaza Fights for Freedom.” Now she is suing the state, claiming the decision is a violation of the First Amendment. Along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), today she filed a federal free speech lawsuit against the university system of Georgia.

Martin was dismayed by the university’s decision: “This censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure. We must stand firmly opposed to these efforts and not cower in fear to these blatant violations of free speech,” she said.

Twenty-eight states have already mandated loyalty pledges to Israel as a means to outlaw dissent. But in December, President Trump passed legislation effectively criminalizing the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to put pressure on the Jewish state through economic action, along the lines of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. The law mandates that any public institution would be subject to losing all funding if the government deems that they are not doing enough to stamp out anti-Semitism, which, it explicitly states, includes any criticism of the Israeli government. In December, MintPress reported that the British government under Boris Johnson is planning to introduce similar legislation.

“The hyperbolic notion that conservatives are the ones being persecuted on college campuses has made blatant censorship campaigns against people for criticism of Israel, or other progressive protests, go completely ignored,” Martin wrote.

CAIR’s Legal Defense Fund Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas said,

There is no place where free speech is more important than on campus. And this attempt to suppress Abby’s views ­– denying students, academics, and others from hearing her lecture – is as brazen as it is illegal. In adopting this anti-BDS law, Georgia has prioritized the policy preferences of a foreign country over the free speech rights of Americans, like Abby, who speak on this state’s college campuses.”

The PCJF likened the BDS movement to the boycotts of the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, its Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard described the laws as “extraordinary, outrageous, illegal and unconstitutional.” In 1956 Martin Luther King and his movement were criminalized for carrying out boycotts, as Southern states passed legislation to penalize their behavior, only for it to be later struck down by the Supreme Court. This is what Martin and the alliance of non-governmental organizations is hoping will happen here too. Why should I have to “contractually pledge loyalty to a foreign country?” she asked at her press conference today.

In 2016, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a law requiring any person or organization entering into a contract with the state worth at least $1,000 sign an oath promising that they would not oppose the Israeli government in any fashion. CAIR has reason to believe they could overturn the law its Georgia Executive Director, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, called “blatantly and hilariously unconstitutional.”

In 2018, Bahia Amawi, a Houston-based children’s speech pathologist who worked with autistic, speech-impaired and other developmentally disabled children, lost her job after she refused to sign a similar document. Amawi had been at her job for nine years previously without a problem. CAIR took up Amawi’s case and managed to overturn every Texas boycott law on the grounds of their unconstitutionality and she is now free to return to work. They appear confident of a similar victory in Georgia.

Martin began as a citizen journalist covering the Occupy movement in her native California. From 2012 to 2015 she hosted the show Breaking the Set on RT. In the famous D.N.I. report into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election, the U.S. government accused her of “promoting radical discontent” in America, something she appears to wear as a badge of honor. Her current documentary series, Empire Files, is broadcast on TeleSUR English. However, due to sanctions against the Venezuelan government, Gaza Fights for Freedom was crowdfunded. She is also the host of Media Roots Radio.

Correction | An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the state of Georgia shut down a screening of Abby Martin’s documentary film “Gaza Fights for Freedom.”

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Israel’s New Moves To Airbrush the Occupation – Original

Posted by M. C. on October 31, 2019

The moves may be new, the airbrushing is not.

Israel plays US and the two state solution like a fiddle.

The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories issued a damning verdict last week on what he termed “the longest belligerent occupation in the modern world”.

Michael Lynk, a Canadian law professor, told the UN’s human rights council that only urgent international action could prevent Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank transforming into de facto annexation.

He warned of a recent surge in violence against Palestinians from settlers, assisted by the Israeli army, and a record number of demolitions this year of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem – evidence of the ways Israel is further pressuring Palestinians to leave their lands.

He urged an international boycott of all settlement products as a necessary step to put pressure on Israel to change course. He also called on the UN itself to finally publish – as long promised – a database that it has been compiling since 2016 of Israeli and international companies doing business in the illegal settlements and normalizing the occupation.

Israel and its supporters have stymied the release, fearing that such a database would bolster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that seeks to end Israel’s impunity.

Lynk sounded the alarm days after Israel’s most venerated judge, Meir Shamgar, died aged 94.

Shamgar was a reminder that the settlers have always been able to rely on the support of public figures from across Israel’s political spectrum. The settlements have always been viewed as a weapon to foil the emergence of a Palestinian state.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most obituaries overlooked the chicanery of Shamgar in building the legal architecture needed to establish the settlements after Israel occupied the Palestinian territories in 1967.

But in a tweeted tribute, Benjamin Netanyahu, the interim prime minister, noted Shamgar’s contribution to “legislation policy in Judea and Samaria”, using the Israeli government’s term for the West Bank.

It was Shamgar who swept aside the prohibition in international law on Israel as an occupying state, transferring its population into the territories. He thereby created a system of apartheid: illegal Jewish settlers enjoyed privileges under Israeli law while the local Palestinian population had to endure oppressive military orders.

Then, by a legal sleight of hand, Shamgar obscured the ugly reality he had inaugurated. He offered all those residing in the West Bank – Jews and Palestinians alike – access to arbitration from Israel’s supreme court.

It was, of course, an occupier’s form of justice – and a policy that treated the occupied territories as ultimately part of Israel, erasing any border. Ever since, the court has been deeply implicated in every war crime associated with the settlement enterprise.

As Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard noted, Shamgar “legalized almost every draconian measure taken by the defense establishment to crush Palestinian political and military organizations”, including detention without trial, house demolitions, land thefts, curfews and much more. All were needed to preserve the settlements.

Shamgar’s legal innovations – endorsing the systematic abuse of Palestinians and the entrenchment of the occupation – are now being expanded by a new generation of jurists.

Their latest proposal has been described as engineering a “revolution” in the occupation regime. It would let the settlers buy as private property the plots of occupied land their illegal homes currently stand on.

Disingenuously, Israeli officials argue that the policy would end “discrimination” against the settlers. An army legal adviser, Tzvi Mintz, noted recently: “A ban on making real-estate deals based on national origin raises a certain discomfort.”

Approving the privatization of the settlements is a far more significant move than it might sound.

International law states that an occupier can take action in territories under occupation on only two possible grounds: out of military necessity or to benefit the local population. With the settlements obviously harming local Palestinians by depriving them of land and free movement, Israel disguised its first colonies as military installations.

It went on to seize huge swathes of the West Bank as “state lands” – meaning for Jews only – on the pretext of military needs. Civilians were transferred there with the claim that they bolstered Israel’s national security.

That is why no one has contemplated allowing the settlers to own the land they live on – until now. Instead it is awarded by military authorities, who administer the land on behalf of the Israeli state.

That is bad enough. But now defense ministry officials want to upend the definition in international law of the settlements as a war crime. Israel’s thinking is that, once the settlers become the formal owners of the land they were given illegally, they can be treated as the “local population”.

Israel will argue that the settlers are protected under international law just like the Palestinians. That would provide Israel with a legal pretext to annex the West Bank, saying it benefits the “local” settler population.

And by turning more than 600,000 illegal settlers into landowners, Israel can reinvent the occupation as an insoluble puzzle. Palestinians seeking redress from Israel for the settlements will instead have to fight an endless array of separate claims against individual settlers.

This proposal follows recent moves by Israel to legalize many dozens of so-called outposts, built by existing settlements to steal yet more Palestinian land. As well as violating international law, the outposts fall foul of Israeli law and undertakings made under the Oslo accords not to expand the settlements.

All of this is being done in the context of a highly sympathetic administration in Washington that, it is widely assumed, is preparing to approve annexation of the West Bank as part of a long-postponed peace plan.

The current delay has been caused by Netanyahu’s failure narrowly in two general elections this year to win enough seats to form a settler-led government. Israel might now be heading to a third election.

Officials and the settlers are itching to press ahead with formal annexation of nearly two-thirds of the West Bank. Netanyahu promised annexation in the run-up to both elections. Settler leaders, meanwhile, have praised the new army chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi, as sympathetic to their cause.

Expectations have soared among the settlers as a result. Their impatience has fueled a spike in violence, including a spate of recent attacks on Israeli soldiers sent to protect them as the settlers confront and assault Palestinians beginning the annual olive harvest.

Lynk, the UN’s expert, has warned that the international community needs to act swiftly to stop the occupied territories becoming a permanent Israeli settler state. Sadly, there are few signs that foreign governments are listening.

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Two-State Solution, Inauguration, Division! – HoweStreet



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No one wants to ‘destroy Israel’ (Or why the last Zionist defense rests on lies and misstatements)

Posted by M. C. on August 3, 2019

As support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the world rises, so does the level of hysteria among Zionism supporters, and they have to fall back on lies and misleading statements. Take, for instance, the attempt by Republican lawmakers to cram an anti-BDS bill down the throats of Congress.  Following the line of the government of Israel, BDS is portrayed as a terrible monster whose goal is to destroy, to kill, and cause to perish all Israelis, both young and old, little children and women.

How do you make the public believe that? You deceive the public, knowing full well that no one would have the stamina to cut through the web of lies.

So here’s an attempt at doing just that.

The main claim by supporters of Zionism is that BDS is “interested in destroying the State of Israel as a Jewish State.” We’ll get to the end of that statement soon enough – but few people do. They hear “destroying the state of Israel” and stop there.

Is the goal of the BDS movement “the destruction of the State of Israel”? The answer is negative. The destruction of a state invariably entails a massive bloodshed amongst its residents. The goal of the BDS movement is peaceful regime change: changing the Zionist regime, as it is by definition unjust. The goal is one state, a democratic one, in which all people living under the Zionist regime participate as equal: Israeli Jews, Israeli Palestinians, East Jerusalemite Palestinians, Palestinians of the West Bank and Palestinians living in Gaza. As Israel is already ruling all of Mandatory Palestine, and has been ruling it for over 50 years; and as the Zionist regime is an apartheid regime and by essence must be so, it is a moral duty to bring it down.

No Israeli will have to die, and few will have to move. All they will have to do is extend to Palestinians the rights and privileges they hold, first and foremost the franchise.

That’s what “destroying the State of Israel as a State of the Jewish People” means. Which is precisely why hasbaristas want you to think of the first clause of the sentence, and not the second one.

Wait a second! I can hear the Zionist propagandists cry. You are denying the right of the Jews to a state of their own! This is anti-Semitism!

And, at first glance, they seem to have a point. If you oppose Jewish self-determination, why are singling out Jewish self-determination?

Because, once again, the propagandists are playing fast and loose with terminology. The right to self-determination is for a people living in their homeland.  The Jews never had any. They were always, as far as history reaches, a diaspora people. Even during the period of the Second Temple, most Jews lived outside of Palestine (hell, the Jewish community in Egypt is more ancient than the Jewish community in Jerusalem). No people have the right to self-determination in another people’s homeland. Yet this is precisely what happened in Israel, and this is precisely what Zionists are defending: a country based, and that continues to base itself on, denial of the rights of others.

So, while you may support the ideal right of Jews to a state of their own (and it’s instructive to note the use of the term “state”: not “homeland” or “country,” but “state”: the naked power of government), the problem anti-Zionists have is not with the abstract idea of a Jewish homeland, but with the concrete manifestation, which is necessarily oppressive, of such a state.

Necessarily? Yes, because this state has existed for 70 years, and has always been oppressive. Much as we wouldn’t recognize Boer self-determination in South Africa as long as it was dependent on the subjugation of millions of people, we should reject Jewish self-determination if it has to rely on the subjugation of others. This isn’t anti-Semitism; this is opposition to manifest injustice, the peculiar institution of a “Jewish State” which can rule over millions without giving them basic rights.

One further notes that Israel is a state most Jews don’t want. They have had 70 years to emigrate to it, and unless they were in extremis, they declined to do so. A Jewish state might have been built – perhaps, should have been built – in Eastern Europe or in parts of conquered Germany after the Second World War; but that is alternate history. Actual history is that the Palestinians had to pay, and continue to pay, the price of the Jewish aspiration for sovereignty. This injustice must not be allowed to continue.

Will Palestinians turn to love Israeli Jews, with the change of the Zionist regime into an equal one? Not likely. Do they love them now? Does it even make sense for a conquered people to love its conquerors?

Will the situation be better? Yes, because Palestinians will be able, for the first time, to deal with Israeli Jews as equals.

Are there other options? Yes. The first and most likely is the continuance of the apartheid regime, which will become even stricter. This will likely lead to radicalization. Israelis react nowadays with mass hysteria at any attempt of Palestinian uprising. Every stabbing of an IDF soldier is portrayed as a national catastrophe. Israel does not pay a fair price for the occupation – and it is very sensitive to the idea of any sort of payment. Better, therefore, that it should pay with treasure, not blood. Boycott, after all, is non-violent.

The other option is the shade of the two state solution. This used to be an option, albeit a very problematic one, but for the past decade and more it was a slogan meant to legitimize the creeping annexation of the West Bank.

So we can continue playing the blood games: the fantasy still lurking in the minds of some Palestinians about a heroic armed struggle; the reality of an oppressive regime which, every night, invades the homes of hundreds of people, a regime haunted by its own fantasy about the Palestinians melting away… Or we can try another road.

Are there no anti-Semites among BDS supporters? I am certain there are, and there are brave people exposing them.

But are there no racists among Israeli ministers? Isn’t the official policy of Israel that Palestinians will never enjoy their full rights, including their right to self-determination? On what is this concept based, if not on an idea of Jewish supremacy? Is denying Palestinian rights less racist than denying Jewish rights?

At the end of all these debates, the concept that Jews enjoy more rights than Palestinians – including the right to security, which Israel is violating at any given moment – is based on the idea that Palestinians are lesser human beings.

Which is why BDS is so shocking to Zionists: it raises the radical concept that Palestinians are not mere victims of history, but human beings. Fully human. And it reminds us that these are human beings under 51 years of enduring oppression – and that the oppressors, Golyat der nebechinder (feckless Goliath), see themselves as the victims.

Happily, this concept is losing its grip on the world’s mind. May we see the destruction of the Zionist regime – not the Israeli state, but the Zionist regime – in our living years.

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Netanyahu Bragged He Has America Wrapped Around His Finger

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Exposing Israeli interference in the US | The Electronic Intifada

Posted by M. C. on March 26, 2019

In the context of the mosque massacres by a white supremacist in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this month, and concern about growing anti-Semitism, I also talked about how Israel is a force today promoting and inspiring Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white supremacy and extremism that is destabilizing the world.


After more than two years of media hype and hyperventilation, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has finally concluded that there was no collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia to subvert the 2016 US election.

There is however plenty of evidence of foreign interference and collusion in US politics, except it is being ignored by establishment media and politicians because the state doing it is not Russia, but Israel.

Last Friday, I spoke in Washington at the Israel Lobby and American Policy Conference 2019 about Al Jazeera’s undercover documentary into the activities of the Israel lobby in the United States.

The film was made during 2016 and completed in 2017, but then it was suppressed after Qatar, Al Jazeera’s sponsor, came under intense pressure from that same lobby.

However this effort at censorship failed: The Electronic Intifada was the first to publish details of the film in March last year.

In August, we were the first to publish video excerpts, and finally in November we published all four episodes of the film online for anyone to watch.

I began my talk – which like the rest of the conference was carried live nationally on C-SPAN – by asking the audience in the room of more than 300 how many had watched the Al Jazeera film in whole or in part. I estimated that about a quarter put up their hands.

That’s a great start, but it shows that many more people still need to see this bombshell documentary exposing the efforts of Israel and its lobbyists to spy on, smear and intimidate US citizens who support Palestinian human rights, especially BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement…

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How U.S. politicians use charges of anti-Semitism as a political weapon

Posted by M. C. on February 16, 2019

Less than 24 hours after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) sent out tweets implying that AIPAC pays off American politicians to defend Israel, she had already apologized, in response to a swift rebuke from House Democratic leaders. Just like that.

Her initial remark that Republican attacks on her for criticizing Israel were “all about the Benjamins baby” did not strike me as anti-Semitic (unlike her 2012 tweet on how Israel “hypnotized” the world, which did). It read that way to others, though, which Omar stressed on Monday wasn’t her intention; she thanked “Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” such as the notion of powerful Jews using money to get their way that some people thought her tweet played on. Omar did not actually call out Jews, only AIPAC — which does not define itself as a Jewish lobby — but her critics immediately translated it into “Jewish money.” AIPAC even went so far as to send an email Tuesday using Omar to raise money: The message said Omar suggested that the “U.S. government supports Israel only because of Jewish money,” and then proceeded to ask for money.

But the wider frenzy betrayed the cynical ways that charges of anti-Semitism and claims to be standing up for Israel are so often wielded by U.S. politicians — especially, but not exclusively, by Republicans. Israel, and by extension Israelis and American Jews, gets used as a wedge by pretty much anyone who chooses to pick up the cause in service of their own political agendas. The ironic result, for a fight about anti-Semitism, is that Jews are treated simply as a monolithic object, as a group that’s somehow different from other American ethnic or religious minorities.

Some of the loudest voices condemning Omar on Monday have espoused anti-Semitic imagery and stereotypes in the past themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

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Greatest Threat to Free Speech in the West: Criminalizing Activism Against Israeli Occupation

Posted by M. C. on February 6, 2018

The US is not the only country that puts AIPAC and Israel above it’s own citizen’s welfare.

THE U.K. GOVERNMENT today announced that it is will be illegal for “local [city] councils, public bodies, and even some university student unions … to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products, or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.” Thus, any entities that support or participate in the global boycott of Israeli settlements will face “severe penalties.”

This may sound like an extreme infringement of free speech and political activism — and, of course, it is — but it is far from unusual in the West. The opposite is now true. There is a very coordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters literally to criminalize political activism against Israeli occupation, based on the particular fear that the worldwide campaign of Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment, or BDS — modeled after the 1980s campaign that brought down the Israel-allied apartheid regime in South Africa — is succeeding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nearly 50 Senators Want To Make It a Felony To Boycott Israel

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2017

The goal is to frighten people from engaging in the completely legal act of living out their values

That should have been the end of it. But now, Americans’ right to boycott is under attack once again – thanks to a vicious anti-boycott bill making its way through the Senate.

In particular, it appears to target the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is an international movement calling on individuals, institutions, and governments to boycott Israeli products until it ends its occupation of Palestinian lands. The boycott is explicitly nonviolent and is supported by activists, celebrities, faith-based groups, and political and social justice organizations around the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel

Posted by M. C. on July 20, 2017

To Hell With You Citizen

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the West.

But now, a group of 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. 

Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. Read the rest of this entry »

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