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I wonder who the Zionist State of Israel will send to South Africa for the ceremonies surrounding the funeral of Nelson Mandela? The following article was written by a friend of mine, Kim Bullimore and posted on her blog, Live from Occupied Palestine,

Nelson Mandela, Palestine and the fight against apartheid

By Kim Bullimore: 6 December 2013: Live from Occupied Palestine.

Nelson Mandela 1918 -2013

Nelson Mandela, a courageous resistance fighter is dead. Mandela died on December 5, aged 95. He devoted his entire life to the struggle for his people’s freedom, spending 27 years in prison for both his unarmed and armed resistance to South Africa’s brutal and racist apartheid regime.

With the death of this courageous resistance fighter, we are now greeted with a sickening spectacle which whitewashes his history, the history of the South African anti-apartheid struggle and the fact that Mandela was first and foremost a freedom fighter. In the last 36 hours, politicians and commentators in Australia, the USA, the UK, Israel, Europe and elsewhere, many of whom who had previously labelled him a terrorist and supported his incarceration, are now pretending they did no such thing and are falling over themselves to laud him as a hero, a great man and a man of peace.

Their eulogies whitewash the South African anti-apartheid struggle and Mandela’s actions as a freedom fighter. They have rinsed clean, from their histories of him, that Mandela was a radical, who worked with and was inspired by communists both in South Africa and Latin America (Today, in the wake of Mandela’s death, the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) have issued a statement confirming that Mandela was a member of the SACP in 1962 when he was arrested and imprisoned – something which had been previously denied for political reasons). In order to create a whitewashed caricature of Mandela, these revisionists are attempting to rewrite history and the fact that Mandela’s resistance and struggle against apartheid encompassed all forms of disobedience and defiance, both violent and non-violent.

As a leader of the ANC Youth, which he help found with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu in 1944, Mandela helped convince the ANC to adopt mass militant non-violent tactics, which included boycotts and strikes. In the wake of the brutality of the 1960 Sharpville massacre which saw 69 unarmed Black South African’s gunned down by the regime, Mandela co-founded (with Walter Sisulu and Joe Slovo) the Umkhonto we Sizwe or Spear of the Nation which carried out sabotage against both military and civilian infrastructure in South Africa. In founding Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961, Mandela took inspiration from the revolutionary struggle taking place in Cuba, in particular from Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s 26th of July Movement.

Mandela recognised the importance of all forms of struggle against the violent oppression being imposed on his people. In 1980, as the non-violent mass struggle once again began to flourish, both inside South Africa and internationally in the form of the boycott and sanctions anti-apartheid solidarity movement, he wrote in a smuggled message from his prison cell that “between the hammer of armed struggle and the anvil of united mass action, the enemy will be crushed.”

“our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”

 And today, as these hypocritical revisionist politicians and commentators eulogise Mandela, they also seek to scrub from Mandela’s history his lifelong and steadfast support for the Palestinian people and their struggle. Just as they were complicit in supporting South Africa’s apartheid regime, many of these same revisionist politicians and commentators are today complicit in supporting Israel’s apartheid regime.

In 1948, the same year as the Palestinian Nakba which saw Zionist militia ethnically cleanse more 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroy more than 500 Palestinian villages, South Africa formally adopted the apartheid regime. Throughout the long years of Apartheid in South African, as Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s notes in The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa (2010), there were close military and trade ties between these two colonial oppressors. It is unsurprising therefore that there would be a close comradeship between the two struggles, viewing their struggles as one and the same: a struggle against colonialism, oppression and racism. For Mandela and the ANC, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians were “comrades in arms” and they supported their struggle against the Israeli state – both armed and unarmed.
The comradeship between the two struggles was highlighted by Mandela, just sixteen days after he was released from 27 long years in prison in 1990. In February 1990, Mandela met with Yasser Arafat in Lusaka in Zambia. At Lusaka airport, Mandela embraced Arafat and reiterated his support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian struggle telling the media that Arafat was “fighting against a unique form of colonialism and we wish him success in his struggle”.  He went on to say, “I I believe that there are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO” stating “We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel, and a lot flows from that.”

Eight months later, during his three day visit to Australia in October1990, Mandela reiterated his support for the Palestinian struggle and the PLO saying, “We identify with them [the Palestinians] because we do not believe it is right for the Israeli government to suppress basic human rights in the conquered territories.” 

 Mandela told the Australian media, “We agree with the United Nations that international disputes should be settled by peaceful means. The belligerent attitude which is adopted by the Israeli government is to us unacceptable.”

He went on to tell the Australia media that the ANC did not consider the PLO a terrorist group, stating “If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenceless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.”

In 1997, in a speech on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Mandela once again spoke in support of the Palestinian struggle stating “it behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice”. It was important, said Mandela, for South Africans “to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood” because “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world”.

Worse than Apartheid

Increasingly over the last decade, more and more South Africans who were active in the South African anti-Apartheid campaign have joined Mandela and have spoken out in support of the Palestinian struggle. In many cases, they have denounced Israel apartheid as being far worse than South African Apartheid. 

 Not only has Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu equated Israel’s policies and practices to Apartheid, in 2008 veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigners visited the Occupied West Bank and declared what they saw as worse than the apartheid they had experienced in their own country.

One of the participants who visited the West Bank as part of the trip, Mondli Makhanya, the editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times of South Africa, told veteran Israeli reporter, Gideon Levy, “When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. In a certain sense, it is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of the apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid”.

Another participant in the trip, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a member of the South African parliament, who had been imprisoned during the apartheid era for her opposition to the South African apartheid regime told Levy, “It is hard for me to describe what I am feeling. What I see here is worse than what we experienced”. When asked by Levy why she thought it was worse than South African apartheid, Madlala-Routledge explained, “The absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw”.

In November 2011, the Reverend Allan Aubrey Boesak, a veteran of the South African anti-apartheid struggle reiterated the assertion that Israeli apartheid is far worse than South African apartheid. In an interview with Middle East Monitor, Boesak, explain that “It is worse, not in the sense that apartheid was not an absolutely terrifying system in South Africa, but in the ways in which the Israelis have taken the apartheid system and perfected it, so to speak; sharpened it”. Boesak went onto explain:

“For instance, we had the Bantustans and we had the Group Areas Act and we had the separate schools and all of that but I don’t think it ever even entered the mind of any apartheid planner to design a town in such a way that there is a physical wall that separates people and that that wall denotes your freedom of movement, your freedom of economic gain, of employment, and at the same time is a tool of intimidation and dehumanisation. We carried passes as the Palestinians have their ID documents but that did not mean that we could not go from one place in the city to another place in the city. The judicial system was absolutely skewed of course, all the judges in their judgments sought to protect white privilege and power and so forth, and we had a series of what they called “hanging judges” in those days, but they did not go far as to openly, blatantly have two separate justice systems as they do for Palestinians [who are tried in Israeli military courts] and Israelis [who are tried in civil, not military courts]. So in many ways the Israeli system is worse”.

 The ANC and South Africa’s support for the Palestinian BDS campaign

 In 2012, Mandela’s party, the African National Congress (ANC) which is also the ruling party of South Africa, formally endorsed and adopted as part of its official policy, the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. In 2005 Palestinian civil society issued a call to the international community for a program and campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to be applied against Israel as a way to pressure Israel to end its violations of international law, respect Palestinian human rights and engage in fair negotiations for a just peace. 

 The ANC Conference not only formally endorsed the Palestinian BDS campaign but also adopted a resolution which specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.”

The ANC conference also adopted two other resolutions relating to Palestine and Israel. One of the resolutions reiterated the ANC’s long held stance in support of the Palestinian struggle, statingThe ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.”

In addition, the conference also adopted a resolution condemning Israel’s treatment of African refugees stating “The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union”

The adoption of the resolutions, formalised the position already held by the ANC and the South African government. Two months before the conference, South Africa’s deputy foreign minister Ebrahim Ebrahim had noted that: “Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there.”

In April 2013, the South Africa’s International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated the ruling ANC’s position, saying “the struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle”.

Mandela’s legacy

Today, Mandela is honoured by both those in struggle and by those in power.  Once, however, he and his struggle were demonised and hated by those in power, including many of those same people now praising him today. And while mealy mouthed politicians and hypocritical commentators sing Mandela’s praise today, attempting to whitewash is legacy, they will not succeed in rewriting history.

For those in struggle, Mandela’s legacy will always be one of a freedom fighter. It will always be one of a courageous resistance fighter who waged an uncompromising struggle against colonialism, racism and oppression. His legacy to those of us in struggle will be that he was an internationalist, who saw his people’s freedom tied up with the freedom of others – who saw his people’s struggle as being no different from the struggle of the Palestinian people and all those struggling against colonialism, oppression and tyranny.


For most Christian Zionists, it is probably irrelevant whether or not the State of Israel is guilty of the crime of Apartheid. This is probably due to their unconditional allegiance to the Zionist State. They care little if Israel is guilty of discrimination against Palestinian Arabs. As far as they are concerned, Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories are persona non grata at best. At worst, they are irredeemable reprobates who desire nothing but the destruction of the Jewish people and the thwarting of God’s plan of salvation through Christ (even if they are Christian Arabs in the vast majority of cases).

The only crime the State of Israel can commit, in the eyes of Christian Zionists, is to give land rights and rights of self determination to Arabs. Stopping the dispossession of Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories is the only thing that Zionist Israel can do that would warrant a rebuke from the Christian supporters of Zionism.

Getting back to the issue of apartheid in Israel, it is often stated, by supporters of Zionist Israel, that the claim that Israel is guilty of the crime of Apartheid is absurd because anyone with any understanding of South Africa can see that the Zionist State is vastly different from the South Africa of the apartheid era. They argue that if it can be shown that modern Israel is sufficiently differnt from apartheid South Africa, then Israel can not possibly be guilty of the crime of apartheid and hence should not suffer any sanctions.

The error in this arguement falls fundamentally in the direction of the comparison. It is not a matter of how Zionist Israel stacks up against South Africa, but how it stacks up against the definition of the crime of apartheid as described by international law.

As an example, take the case of the infamous Australian serial killer, Ivan Milat. One might object to calling him a serial killer because his number of victims was small in comparison to serial killers like the notorious American murderer, Ted Bundy. So if we compare Milat to Bundy, since Milat is not equivalent to Bundy, then Milat must not be a serial killer. The flaw in this logic is obvious.

Yet this is the very same type of logic used to argue that Israel is not an apartheid state.

Comparisons of Israel to South Africa are interesting, but completely miss the point in answering the case against Israel with respect to its guilt with reference to the crime of apartheid. In some ways Israel is better than South Africa was, and in some ways worse. The comparison is irrelevant. What matters is how Zionist Israel can defend itself against the charge that it is guilty of the crime of apartheid according to the definition given by international law. Not the spurious charge that it is guilty of being identical to South Africa in the era of apartheid in that country.


The following article was written by Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss website.

The Blatancy of Apartheid

I’m no stranger to Israel and Palestine, still what shocks me about coming here is how blatant the system of unfairness is. Why is this not utterly familiar to me? I wonder. Why don’t Americans see this every day in the news? What kind of fairyland image are we getting of this place, and why? Or as the Canadian Christian pilgrim said to me last night leaving Qalandiya checkpoint, “What endless humiliation. And why is it such an open secret back home?” So everything here brings me back to the American denial, our blinded media, and to American Jewish identity and the lies that American Jews have told one another for generations.

A few impressions of the blatancy. I flew into Ben Guiron from Newark and my flight was mostly Jewish. There were no Palestinians or Arabs on the flight, as far as I could see. The sense was reinforced at Ben-Gurion. I saw no women wearing hijab, the customary form of dress in this part of the world. The shuttle I rode into Jerusalem had ten passengers, mostly American Jews, two binational Israeli American girls, a Christian tourist and an international aid type. This last passenger was dropped at Qalandiya checkpoint to go on to Ramallah. “Is this a hospital?” the orthodox girl in the front row asked. A reminder that the Palestinian reality is sealed off from Israelis, and also that Qalandiya is a vast bureaucratic complex in benign disguise, a border crossing that keeps the subject population Over There. “A lot of the Arabs throw rocks, that is why they put this up,” an older Jew who fought in the 48 war explained to his wife as we passed along the wall.

After I checked into my hotel in the Old City, I ran into Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He pointed out the flags above on a dwelling in the Muslim Quarter and said that I was witnessing the process of the Judaization of the Old City and of East Jeursalem generally, Jews cordoning off the holy city. My picture is of Muslims going to the Al Aqsa mosque to pray under these flags. They are reminded of who is boss at every turn.

I have been through Qalandiya twice in the last day and cannot convey what a dreary oppressive experience this is. Long lines of people made to walk in a wide muddy circle past the neverending re-arranged concrete walls, one of which has Fuck You as an eloquent graffiti. The soldiers stand at huge concrete cubes that the bulldozers have placed just so, a couple-hips’-width apart, and stop us at three points on our way in. Women and men are separated, in a fashion that has ghoulish echoes of the worst moments of Jewish history.

Oh but now we have power, now we are in history. This is what thrills American Jews and neocons, our moment. Powerful people do screwed up things.

But all the while my heart is with the Palestinians around me. The men are all gleaming and bathed and fresh. It is Ramadan. They wear nice clothes. They meet your eyes in a welcoming fashion but no one is ingratiating. It is too humbling for anyone to say anything, where are you from? Welcome, which they say in ordinary circumstances. While in the Old City, in the Ramadan crowds that inch packed and dangerous toward the mosque, there are always men at the side spraying water on as you walk by. Tossing it from bottles, spraying it with sprayers, to cool you down. A lovely gesture of community, in which I am included.

I know there is a strong Jewish community a few hundred yards away. It has its own beauties and fellowship and loving embrace. But pardon me if I can’t find my way there right now. I was raised as a Jewish outsider in America, and my spirit gravitates toward the outsiders here.

The largest impression of all: These people have no freedom of movement. It takes hours to make a 10 mile trip, and none of the thoughtful city planning that Jews get in West Jerusalem is extended to the Palestinians. No, they must be constrained at every turn, and choked, so they want to fly away. I would fly away. I’d move to the Gulf, I’d go to Europe, I’d give up.

And again what I find staggering is that we have so little understanding of this reality in the west. I am witnessing apartheid. I cannot think of any other term that so describes the systematic separation of people by race /ethnicity/religion, and the subjugation of one ethnicity to another. Whatever the glories of Zionism in Jewish history, a case I’m more than willing to make, this is where it ground itself out, a boot in the face of a civilized people.

So yes I blame the media. I blame the Times for running Richard Goldstone’s farcical claim that apartheid is a slander rather than Stephen Roberts’s clear-eyed piece in the Nation that this is apartheid on steroids. I blame the Israel lobby for enforcing blindness to these conditions, I blame the politicians for accepting the blinders. I blame the Philadelphia Inquirer for saying the other day that a one state future is “untenable,” when what is happening before our eyes is atrocity on atrocity. I blame the Jewish community for lying about what is happening here endlessly, destroying our intellectual inheritance, in the belief that it is good for the Jews. It is a disaster for Jews. It is a disgrace that Americans will one day have university courses and museum exhibits to try to explain to one another when the next generation wakes up to this madness and responds with appropriate fury

Israel and Palestine: Two states, two peoples

Israel’s idea of ‘two states’ is based on expulsion of Arabs, so the Jewish character of its country is not threatened.

 By Ben White
Cambridge, United Kingdom – The slogan “two states for two peoples” has long been used by those who support the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Ironically, however, such a framework risks cementing Israeli apartheid and Jewish privilege, evoking the same sorts of arguments put forward by defenders of South Africa’s historical regime of systematic discrimination.

There are three problems with the “two states for two peoples” formulation. Firstly, the meaning of a Palestinian “state” has changed to the point that it is problematic to even use the term. Support for Palestinian statehood – at least rhetorically – has become the shared position of everyone from Tony Blair to Netanyahu, via Ariel Sharon. Some Israel advocacy groups (the slightly smarter ones) even campaign on this basis.

So what’s going on here, when someone like Netanyahu can boast to Congress how he has “publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples”?  Well note the wording of the Israeli government’s position when Ehud Olmert was prime minister and Tzipi Livni was foreign minister.

“The government will strive to shape the permanent borders of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, with a Jewish majority.”

In other words, the question of borders is not so much about land, as it is about demographics. Another example is Yitzhak Rabin. When Shimon Peres lauded the legacy of the assassinated prime minister in November 2011, he claimed that “[Rabin’s] diplomatic path has been accepted and is now held by the majority, a solution of two states for two peoples”.

But what did Rabin mean by this? Shortly before he was killed in 1995, the then-PM told the Knesset that he envisaged a “Palestinian entity … which is less than a state”. Rabin’s “permanent solution” included Jerusalem as Israel’s “united capital” (including the illegal settlements such as Ma’ale Adumim), annexation of colony blocs, the “establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria”, and a border “in the broadest meaning of that term” down the Jordan Valley. This is a road map to walled-in reservations, not statehood – and it’s remarkably similar to Netanyahu’s own vision.

‘The Jewish character of the state’

The second problem with the “two states for two peoples” position is what it means for those Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, for whom a solution based on ethnic separation has dark implications. This threat has been spelled out explicitly by current Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who, in a 2010 interview with Newsweek, explained his belief in “exchanging territory and populations”. The questioner clarified: “You’re talking about drawing a line so that how many Israeli Arabs will no longer be part of Israel?” Lieberman replied: “At least half.”

The problem of refugees will be solved within the Palestinian state, and there will be no right of return to the State of Israel.– Chaim Oron, former chair of Meretz

In January this year, he repeated his views, stating that “any future agreement with the Palestinians must address the matter of Israeli Arabs in the formula of territory and population exchanges“, since “any other arrangement is simply collective suicide”. While this position has support from the likes of fellow Yisrael Beiteinu minister Danny Ayalon, the now ex-Kadima MK Livni also voiced something similar. In 2008, she said her solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic state of Israel was “to have two distinct national entities”, which would mean being “able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel … and tell them: ‘Your national aspirations lie elsewhere‘.”

While there are dangers for Palestinians in the pre-1967 borders, the third problem with the “two states for two peoples” paradigm relates to the Palestinian refugees, for whom this kind of peace means permanent exclusion, and a seal of approval upon the expulsions of 1948.

In the words of Professor Yehuda Shenhav: “Return is not possible in two states for two peoples … That’s why anyone who wants two states for two peoples requires we forget what happened in [19]48”. The refusal to engage with the ethnic cleansing of the Nakba is found even – or perhaps especially – among so-called doves. Former chair of Meretz MK Chaim Oron once explained how “two states for two peoples” means “the problem of refugees will be solved within the Palestinian state, and there will be no right of return to the state of Israel”, adding the instructive comment: “It is in Israel’s supreme interest that the refugee problem should be solved.”

The relationship between “two states for two peoples” and Israel’s policies of apartheid and ethnic purity was highlighted in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s support for the law separating Palestinian spouses. Kadima MK Otniel Schneller praised the law for articulating “the rationale of separation between the (two) peoples and the need to maintain a Jewish majority and the (Jewish) character of the state”, adding that if the law had been rejected, “it would have undermined the central argument justifying two states for two peoples”.

There are echoes here of course with the rhetoric of apartheid South Africa’s leadership: in 1948, the National Party’s platform stated that “either we must follow the course of equality, which must eventually mean national suicide for the white race, or we must take the course of separation”. Interestingly, former president FW de Klerk noted last year on the BBC that what he “supported as a younger politician was exactly what the whole world now supports for Israel and Palestine, namely [that] separate nation states will be the solution”.

The unpleasant reality at the heart of the “two states for two peoples” – a framework based on expulsion and exclusion – has become clearer as more and more Zionists link Palestinian “statehood” with the need to “save” Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”. In doing so, they unwittingly emphasize how only one half of that latter formulation is true.

Ben White is a freelance writer, specializing in matters pertaining to Palestine and Israel.

‘Israel’s gone way beyond apartheid’


Frank Barat caught up with Jeff Halper, long-time Israeli peace activist, author and director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), while he was on a European speaking tour which will take him from the UK to Poland. Here is what he had to say about the situation in Israel and Palestine…

Sumaya Hisham
Jeff Halper Sumaya Hisham

Could you give us an update on the demolition of Palestinian homes and of what people now often refer to as the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Jerusalem.

I think what’s coming down the pipeline is that Israel today has basically finished this. We’ve gone beyond the occupation. The Palestinians have been pacified and from Israel’s point of view the whole situation has been normalized. Netanyahu went to Washington to meet with Obama last month. When he came back his adviser was asked what was new about this meeting and said ‘this is the first time in memory that an Israeli Prime Minister met with a US president and that the Palestinian issue was not even mentioned, it never came out.’

So, in this situation where the USA is really paralysed because Netanyahu has [influence over] both parties in congress and Obama does not want to do anything, Netanyahu is going to make the last move in nailing this whole thing down. Israel could well annex area C, which is 60 per cent of the West Bank. Now, a couple of months ago the European Council diplomats in Jerusalem and Ramallah sent a report to the EU saying that Israel has forcibly expelled the Palestinians from area C. Forcible expulsion is hard language for European diplomats to use.

‘We’re finished. Israel is now from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, the Palestinians are confined in areas A and B or in small enclaves in East Jerusalem, and that’s it’

So area C contains less than 5 per cent of the Palestinian population. In 1967 the Jordan valley contained about 250,000 people. Today it’s less than 50,000. So the Palestinians have either been driven out of the country, especially the middle class, or they have been driven to areas A and B. That’s where 96 or 97 per cent of them are. The Palestinian population has been brought down low enough, there is probably somewhere around 125,000 Palestinians in area C, so Israel could annex area C and give them full citizenship.

Basically, Israel can absorb 125,000 Palestinians without upsetting the demographic balance. And then, what is the world going to say? It’s not apartheid, Israel has given them full citizenship. So I think Israel feels it could get away with that. No one cares about what’s happening in areas A and B. If they want to declare a state, they can, Israel has no interest in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron.

In other words, we’re finished. Israel is now from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, the Palestinians have been confined in areas A and B or in small enclaves in East Jerusalem, and that’s it.

So when people talk about a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historical Palestine, it’s not even that, right? The number is much smaller.

Yes, what [Salam] Fayyad (Palestinian National Authority prime minister) is saying is our state does not have to be on any particular amount of territory, our state is an economic state and we can work around you annexing this and that because we can make our cities. The idea is that Israel will give them a bit of area C, to put the enclaves a little bit more together. So the north, the south and Gaza will still be cantonized, but what Fayyad is saying is we can make a go of that. Both Netanyahu and Fayyad have moved from a territorial conception of two states to an economic conception of two states, which is a whole different thing. The problem that the bosses have is how to sell that to the Palestinian people. But it seems to me that this is what is coming down the pipeline.

‘The Zionists have always said that once the Arabs despair that was the end, victory for them. Israel feels that’s what we have got now. If you go today to the West Bank you’ll hear the people say that they don’t care anymore’

Israel feels that the Palestinians have been defeated. It’s over. Resistance is impossible because of the Israeli army, the Palestinian proxy army, the wall, I mean, you can’t mount a Third Intifada. Israel policy since the Iron Wall of 1923, has been despair. I wrote an article about this once ‘The mounting despair in Palestine‘.

The Zionists have always, always said that once the Arabs despair – [Ze’ev] Jabotinsky once put it interestingly ‘despair of the land of Israel ever becoming Palestine’ – that was the end, victory for them. Israel feels that’s what we have got now. If you go today to the West Bank, Gaza might be different, you’ll hear the people say that they don’t care anymore, let me have a job, let me live my life and I’ll be happy. In a sense, Fayyad feels he can respond to that.

Some pogroms took place recently when a group of Beitar soccer fans attacked Palestinian workers in a shopping mall. Were those people a few bad apples, or do these types of events indeed say something about Israeli society?

They are more than bad apples. They are not completely Israeli society either. This football team in Jerusalem is connected to the Likud. In Israel many football clubs are associated with political parties. There is a very close relation between the ideology of Likud and Begin and the Beitar football team. They see the Arabs as the enemy. So it reflects about a third of the Israeli public that is very committed to expansion, settlements, that see the Arabs as enemies. In Beitar, their chants, it’s not just the pogroms, they chant every time their team scores a goal, ‘death to the Arabs’. That’s what 20,000 people chant. Beitar for example has never had an Arab player.

The Arabs are beginning to be more prominent in Israeli football teams. Not in Beitar Jerusalem. This pogrom is kind of an extension of this. It’s all in the context of kids, for the most part its kids that have seen Israel changed into a neoliberal economy, become more and more Thatcherite, and you have tremendous income disparity in Israel. Israel is now in the OECD, but it has one of the highest income disparities.

‘I think occupation is an old word. We are way beyond occupation. I think we are also way beyond apartheid’

Kids have got no real future, that’s part of the context too. Those kids come from the housing projects, very much like those who follow the National Front in France or the EDL in England, people that only have this racist emotional outlet for their frustrations, and football is great for that. It channels anger away from the government. That’s why they sponsor football teams!

How important are the words we use, in your opinion, when it comes to Palestine/Israel. Ilan Pappe recently told me that we should rethink our vocabulary. Can we objectively still talk about ‘peace/occupation’? Shouldn’t we talk about ‘right to resist’ and ‘apartheid’ instead?

For sure. We deal a lot with words in our analysis. There are two words, because I think occupation is an old word. We are way beyond occupation. I think we are also way beyond apartheid. There are two words that capture the political reality but don’t have any legal substance today. One of them is Judaization. The entire country is being Judaized. It’s a word that the government uses, to Judaize Jerusalem, the Galilee, so the Judaization process is really at the heart of what’s going on. But it has no legal reference. So one of our projects we’re working on with Michael Sfard and some other lawyers is to try to introduce those terms into the discourse with the idea of trying to give them some legal frame. We have to try to match the political process, the political reality, because it is unprecedented in the world.

‘In a sense Israel has succeeded with the international community, and the US especially, in taking out of this situation the political. It’s now solely an issue of security, just like in prisons’

Another term is ‘warehousing’ because I think that captures what’s going on better than apartheid. Warehousing is permanent. Apartheid recognizes that there is another side. With warehousing it’s like prison. There is no other side. There is us, and then there are these people that we control, they have no rights, they have no identity, they’re inmates. It’s not political, it’s permanent, static. Apartheid you can resist. The whole brilliance of warehousing is that you can’t resist because you’re a prisoner.

Prisoners can rise up in the prison yards but prison guards have all the rights in the world to put them down. That’s what Israel has come to. They are terrorists and we have the right to put them down. In a sense Israel has succeeded with the international community, and the US especially, in taking out of this situation the political. It’s now solely an issue of security, just like in prisons. It’s another concept that does not have any legal reference today but we’d like to put that in because warehousing is not only in Israel. Warehousing exists all over the capitalist world. Two-thirds of the people have been warehoused. That’s why I’m writing about Global Palestine. I’m saying that Palestine is a microcosm of what’s happening around the world.

Frank Barat is a human rights activist based in London. He is the coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. He has edited two books, Gaza in Crisis, with Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, and Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation with Asa Winstanley. He has also contributed to Is there a court for Gaza? with Daniel Machover. He can be found on Twitter @frankbarat22.

The Mondoweiss website has published some interesting articles on the way the Zionist state of Israel discriminates against Palestinians. Anyone reading the Old Testament will see that among the many things that God has forbidden the Jewish people to do in Israel, is hold another people captive and persecute them just as the ancient Hebrews had been held captive and persecuted by the  Egyptian nation in the time of Moses. God continually reminds the Children of Israel to be merciful to non-Jews in the promised land and treat them as if they were one of their own as a matter of justice. The following excerpts from Mondoweiss by Ilan Pappe and the Institute for Middle East Understanding are extremely illuminating and sound a warning to those who teach others that the Zionist State of Israel should be unconditionally supported as mandated by God (so they say).

  • There are more than 30 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. directly or indirectly, based solely on their ethnicity, rendering them second or third class citizens in their own homeland.
  • 93% of the land in Israel is owned either by the state or by quasi-governmental agencies, such as the Jewish National Fund, that discriminate against non-Jews. Palestinian citizens of Israel face significant legal obstacles in gaining access to this land for agriculture, residence, or commercial development.
  • More than seventy Palestinian villages and communities in Israel, some of which pre-date the establishment of the state, are unrecognized by the government, receive no services, and are not even listed on official maps. Many other towns with a majority Palestinian population lack basic services and receive significantly less government funding than do majority-Jewish towns.
  • Since Israel’s founding in 1948, more than 600 Jewish municipalities have been established, while not a single new Arab town or community has been recognized by the state.
  • Israeli government resources are disproportionately directed to Jews and not to Arabs, one factor in causing the Palestinians of Israel to suffer the lowest living standards in Israeli society by all socio-economic indicators.
  • Government funding for Arab schools is far below that of Jewish schools. According to data published in 2004, the government provides three times as much funding to Jewish students than it does to Arab students.
  • In October 2010, the Knesset approved a bill allowing smaller Israeli towns to reject residents who do not suit “the community’s fundamental outlook”, based on sex, religion, and socioeconomic status. Critics slammed the move as an attempt to allow Jewish towns to keep Arabs and other non-Jews out.
  • The so-called “Nakba Bill” bans state funding for groups that commemorate the tragedy that befell Palestinians during Israel’s creation in 1948, when approx. 725,000 Palestinian Arabs were ethnically cleansed to make way for a Jewish majority state.

Ilan Pappe talks about why Palestinians are second class citizens of Israel at best:

“MY BOOK The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel examines this at length, but there are three levels of discrimination.

First, there’s the legal level. And in Israel, this is carried out by separating the community into two kinds–those who serve in the army and those who don’t serve in the army. By law, those who don’t serve in the army don’t have the same property rights, the same rights in terms of national security, insurance, welfare benefits, accommodation in universities and so forth.

Now, you can say it’s not racist because it’s not based on national identity, but Jews who do not serve in the army are not affected by this law. So in practice, these laws only apply to the Arab citizens of Israel–who, by a tacit agreement with the government, don’t serve in the army. So that’s a very legal basis, very clear legislation.

Then there is the semi-legalistic, more-gray area of regulations. Israel still has intact a set of mandatory emergency regulations that can be enacted at any given moment. These regulations are enacted every now and then, and then only against the Palestinian community, which gives a military government absolute control over the lives of people.

You can be arrested without trial, you can be distanced by force from your home, you can be expelled, your home can be demolished, the area in which you live can be cordoned off and declared a “militarily closed area” without any outside world intervention. And there, the military government can do whatever it wants.

The last time Israelis used these emergency regulations was when they implemented a newly passed law that Palestinians from Israel who married Palestinians from the West Bank could not live in Israel, they had to live in the West Bank. So they expelled these couples by force by declaring certain Arab villages in the center of Israel literally closed areas. And they used that to remove them.

The third level is the one that regulates daily contact between Palestinian citizens and Israeli authorities–the tax collector, the policeman, the judge. I will just give you one example, but there are many others. Even Israeli research shows that when Palestinians and Jews are brought before a court, Palestinian defendants who committed the same offense as a Jewish defendant will always get a stiffer sentence.

There are hardly any Jews who have ever been shot by the police as petty criminals, but quite a few Palestinians. When it comes to Palestinians, there is a very different posture taken by those who represent the establishment and the government. The most notable circumstance has to do with the airport, public transportation, railways and so on, where Palestinians are subjected to very humiliating searches, and sometimes are not allowed even to board a train or a domestic flight, let alone an international flight, just because they are Palestinian.”

“A level of racist violence I have never seen”:UCLA professor Robin D G Kelley on Palestine and the BDS movement

Alex Kane interviews UCLA Prof Robin D G Kelley

16 February 2012

If there’s one thing the Palestine solidarity movement and Israel lobbyists can agree on, it’s this: American college campuses remain a potent battleground when it comes to the politics of Israel/Palestine.

One group, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), certainly recognizes this. And one way to advocate for Palestine on campus is to get professors on board the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Five professors recently back in the U.S. after a USACBI delegation  to Palestine have taken that leap, releasing a statement (published on the Electronic Intifada in full) that describes what they saw in Palestine and that calls on their academic colleagues to join the BDS movement. Mondoweiss caught up with one of the professors on the delegation, UCLA’s Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, and discussed BDS, the delegation, Kelley’s new project, black Zionism and much more. Kelley is the author of eight books including Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, Race Rebels: Culture Politics and the Black Working Class, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination and 2009′s Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original .

Alex Kane: To begin with, talk about yourself, what you do and what your research focuses on.

Robin Kelley: I am a professor of American history at UCLA, and for the last 25 years really, my work has focused on social movements, the African diaspora, radical change, and–it’s sort of a side issue–but I’ve also written about music. My last book was about [the jazz musician] Thelonious Monk. But my academic work, you know, links up to the political work largely because I got into this business as a historian/scholar, through activism and through recognizing, or experiencing or watching social injustice both locally and globally. I’m a product of the 1980s, and the main critical issues were both domestic, in terms of police brutality, Reagan policies on poverty, rising racism in the United States and global issues–the anti-apartheid movement was formative in my own political awakening, the struggles in Central America, the struggles in post-colonial Africa and the Congo, and Palestine, which brings us full circle. The point I’m trying to make is, the issue of Palestinian self-determination is not a new one. It always sort of rebirths (laughs), but it’s not a new one. And so for people of my generation, the Israel-South Africa nexus, dispossession of Palestinians–even back in the days when people talked seriously about the two-state solution, whatever that is–these were the key questions for anyone politically active in the 1980s.

It’s not an accident that Jesse Jackson, for example, whose presidential campaign in the 80s was really formative as well, that his right-hand man, Jack O’Dell, had led a delegation in the 1970s to meet with PLO members and to go to the West Bank and to meet with Palestinians there when the PLO was in exile. And so, there’s been a long tradition after 1967 of various black liberation movements trying to build a connection to Palestine.

AK: And so that brings us to the second question: talk about the trip you recently took to Palestine, why you went and what you saw.

RK: In 2009, I was invited to join the board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. And as a board member in USACBI, I did my part in terms of trying to get the word out about supporting and enacting the cultural boycott. The opportunity to travel to the occupied territories came up over the summer through USACBI and through scholars at various universities and Muwatin, which is an independent think tank that focuses on the study and implementation of democracy in Palestine. And so they invited a number of scholars to come, and I jumped at the chance because I always wanted to go and missed other opportunities. So five of us agreed to go in January, and I stayed longer than the rest of the group because I’m actually doing research for another project.

So we go there hosted by Muwatin, and they arranged an incredible visit. I won’t tell you everything we did, because it would take too long. We went to Ramallah, met the president of Birzeit University, we met with other faculty, the founders of PACBI.  We went to East Jerusalem to visit Sheikh Jarrah and some of the families that have been dispossessed from their own homes. We went to Hebron, and visited and talked to Palestinian merchants, and witnessed a level of racist violence that I hadn’t even seen growing up as a black person here in the States (laughs), I have to say, and I’ve been beat by the cops. The level of racist violence from the settlers is kind of astounding. We visited Aida refugee camp just north of Bethlehem, and we went to Bethlehem as well. On my own, I went to Nablus and visited the Balata refugee camp. We also went to Haifa, and we met with a group of Palestinian-Israeli scholars and intellectuals to talk about the boycott.

So to me what was important wasn’t just passing through checkpoints, it wasn’t just witnessing the day to day oppression, acts of dispossession, the expansion of these settler communities in the hills overlooking and intimidating Palestinian villages. It wasn’t just that. That was a very, very important part of the trip because what it did in some ways made tangible the kind of oppression, the nature of dispossession, that we read about and knew about. We were prepared. What was important equally was our conversations with active members of Palestinian civil society, our conversations with activists who are organizing against the wall, our conversations with scholars at Haifa, at Birzeit and independent intellectuals. Because what it produced for us wasn’t just a fact-finding mission, you know, as these things often are. It wasn’t just, you know, “occu-tourism,” visiting and seeing for yourself. That wasn’t, to me, the key thing. The key thing was the kind of engagement that helped us better understand why the boycott is central, the complications in pushing for boycott, and how can we sharpen our political critique. Because what we came away with is recognizing that this is a kind of joint, collective venture–that we are not advocating on behalf of Palestinians, but partners with Palestinians for the right to self-determination. And the leadership comes from the Palestinian people. So we’re supporting that movement, and recognizing that what’s happening there is not exceptional, but rather part of a larger global process of late colonialism and neoliberalism, and that what happens in Palestine is going to have an impact on the rest of the world.

Two other things were striking about the trip for me, and I’m only speaking for myself, not for the whole delegation. One is, it’s one thing to see day to day oppression, it’s another to see the efforts Israel puts into and invests in normalizing the situation there. I was in East Jerusalem, after the delegation, on my own, and staying at a Palestinian-owned hotel called the Jerusalem Hotel. And basically, in the Arab quarter near Salah ad-Din street and in this [area with] Palestinian markets. And I took a stroll up the hill, and found Jaffa road, and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was like I was on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, or the Grove in L.A. It was just the strangest thing to see the juxtaposition, of the largely Jewish and tourist center of commerce with all the chains here, Coffee Bean, Yogurt Land, jewellery, clothing, ATMs at every little corner, granite paved roads, and then of course running through the middle of Jaffa street is the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail system. So to recognize that this space is normalized, a Western so-called bureaucratic capitalist space, a space of high consumerism is an eight-minute walk from what is essentially a ghetto in an occupied territory. That, that to me is even more shocking then seeing 20-something year-old Israelis looking through people’s passports and IDs and deciding whether or not you’re a threat. To me, that emphasis on normalization is one of the more dangerous things, because if they succeed in convincing the world that this is not a state of war or occupation but rather this is really the heart of the kind of Western democracy that’s like the rest of the world, the Western world at least–then in some ways that’s how they try and win. And part of what the boycott does is it delegitimizes the claim that this is a normal situation. It’s not a normal situation, it’s a settler-colonial situation, a situation of oppression.

The second thing that blew my mind, and I just wrote about this, is going to the refugee camp, particularly Aida, and seeing the cultural and artistic revolution among young people. Occupation is something that is a political act as well as an ideological and psychological imposition. And there are whole generations of young people, and older people, that will not accept the occupation. They will not accept normalization of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank or the ethnic cleansing taking place. They’re not only creating and documenting a kind of collective memory of Palestinian history, Palestinian struggle, what the impact of the Nakba was on that community, but also I think prefiguring what could be a new society, what could be a post-Zionist society. And to me that’s probably the most dangerous thing. It’s one thing for Israel to use walls, barbed wire and a blacked-out media to keep, to try to normalize Israel by making invisible the dispossession and oppression of Palestinians. It’s another thing to hide what could be a new vision for a different kind of society, a new generation of people who are not accepting a second-class state or second-class citizenship, [saying] we want the nation, we want our nation back, and if you want to be part of it, well we’re happy with that. To me, that’s what’s so exciting about what I see in the refugee camps, what I see in terms of the cultural work being done. This is the third intifada, right before our eyes.

AK: You mentioned this earlier, but I wanted to draw it out more. What sorts of connections do you see between the sort of work you focus on and the current situation in Palestine?

RK: Well, I’m sort of in two minds. One perspective is that if I did nothing but wrote about, you know, Mozart, my investment in the struggle of Palestinians for the right to return, the right to self-determination, the right to full citizenship–these are things that as a human being, I really have no choice, I can’t look away. I can’t pretend that, you know, I want to live in a just, safe, beautiful world and not be concerned about this issue because to me, what Israel constitutes is the most blatant example of existing settler-colonialism in the world right now. And so even if my work had no connection whatsoever, this is something that I think I, and anyone who supports social justice and self-determination, needs to be aware of and involved in.

So, having said that, my own scholarly work has always been shaped by the political investments and political experiences that I’ve had over the years. I’m actually writing a book about a woman named Grace Halsell, who was a white woman born in Texas. She spent much of her late life as a journalist trying to figure out how white supremacy, racism and other forms of domination actually work; how it feels to actually endure that. So in 1969 she wrote a book called Soul Sister, where she passed as a black woman. She darkened her skin and lived as a black woman for about six months and wrote about it. And it wasn’t so much to claim that “I know what it’s like to be a black person,” but really to try to understand the outward and subtle manifestations of racism and sexism. Then she wrote another book called Bessie Yellowhair where she did something similar, where she became a Navajo woman and worked as a domestic for a white family in L.A. and wrote about it. Then she passed as a Mexican immigrant, and crossed the Rio Grande and interviewed other immigrants in the late 1970s, when anti-immigration sentiment was rising, to sort of understand state power and immigration and how it is experienced by every day people.

So this leads us to one of her great masquerades. She decided to go to Israel/Palestine in 1979, and she basically wrote a book called Journey to Jerusalem, where she tries to understand the lives of essentially four people, four groups of people: Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, Sephardic Jews and the settlers, a settler family. At first she thinks, “this is not political, I’m just trying to tell the story of these three faiths, basically.” And it ends up being a very political book because she’s very critical of Israel. And this was 1980-81, and she was sympathetic to Palestinians. She’s on the Birzeit campus at a time when Israeli forces were shutting down the campus, beating students–she’s witnessing all this. And she is learning Palestinian history, and trying to write a little bit about it before a lot of Israeli historians are kind of discovering al-Nakba. She writes this book, and as a result of that book, her career as a kind of high-level journalist kind-of ends. She’s still liked, but she can’t get contracts the same way.

In the next book, she masquerades as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist and travels with Jerry Falwell’s group, and writes a book about Christian Zionism and the nexus between Israeli nuclear policy–and she’s saying that, you know, the Christian Zionists, the right-wing fundamentalists, are pushing Israel to use its bombs because they believe Armageddon is inevitable and eventually Israel will destroy itself and Christians will take over the holy land. So she writes this book in 1986. And so I’m writing a biography of her, and I’m convinced that everything she experienced–as a white woman being black, being Native American, Mexican–in some ways prepared her for a kind of empathy and identification with the Palestinians when she got there. When she got there, and wrote about what she saw, it changed her life profoundly in ways that being black, Native American or Mexican did not. And she devoted the rest of her life to writing about the Middle East. And she ended up doing a lot of work for Americans for Middle East Understanding, and supporting their work.

There’s a whole set of other writing I want to do. I’m incredibly disturbed by the way AIPAC and Israel is recruiting black students from historically black colleges.

AK: You read my mind–that was my next question.

RK: This is the thing that I’m actually trying to write: this is pretty astounding and yet, there’s a logic to it. I’m actually planning on writing an open letter to the so-called Vanguard Leadership Group, which is the group that has collectively made strong statements against Students for Justice in Palestine, and is basically in the pocket of AIPAC and Israel. In some respects, it’s a very dangerous position, because what AIPAC is doing is using black students as a moral shield to make the case for Israeli impunity, and that AIPAC is finding, and really developing, cultivating, a whole group of black allies as a way to shield Israel so that they can’t be seen as racist.

Now, the disturbing thing about this, you know, is that when you really start to scratch the surface, there’s a very long history of African American support for Zionism, going back to before there was an Israel as a state. The [Marcus] Garvey movement basically adopted Zionism, a certain form of black Zionism as its sort of mantra, and had actually gotten money from Zionists in the early 1920s. When Israel was founded in 1948 as a result of dispossession, you look at the black press, and you see all these folks across the board, black leaders, who were celebrating and supporting, encouraging Israel, because for them, they saw European Jews as themselves a dispossessed people, an oppressed people, who finally found the capacity to build a nation. So for them, it’s a kind-of heroic story that would encourage African Americans–it’s not exactly the same, but really to mobilize in defense of themselves. And that’s how they saw it.

So people like [civil rights leader] A. Philip Randolph sent a congratulatory note to Israel with almost no mention of Palestinian dispossession, of al-Nakba, of refugees. There were some exceptions to the rule, and every once in a while you see letters to the editor, people who would write these small pieces that would say, “well wait a second. What about the Arabs?” And it was Malcolm X, like a lot of the Muslims, who was ahead of the game. Malcolm was like, “wait a second, this is illegal.” I think Malcolm said, “imagine if the Muslims went to Spain and said we want our land back, start kicking people out and say we were here first.”

So there’s that history, and we have to come to terms with that history because in 1967, I believe there was really a sea change where because of the 67 war, because of the connection between that and other struggles for self-determination and national liberation in Africa and elsewhere, a number of black activists in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee said, “wait a second, we support the Palestinians.” And that was a shift in positions, and as a result of that, a lot of the support that SNCC and other organizations got from Jewish groups disappeared. There’s other reasons for that, but that was one of the reasons.

I think that by coming to terms with that history, but also coming to terms with the history in Palestine, that we have to have another sea change. African Americans who claim to be for social justice have no choice but to support the rule of law, to support the Geneva Conventions, to support the right of return, to end what is essentially an apartheid, ethnic state. It’s not sustainable. So, part of what I would like to do politically is to begin to build a conversation in African American circles, with people who were involved in anti-apartheid work in the past, people who are concerned about other places, to really pay attention once again to Palestine. I think that’s a critical point of struggle for our time.

AK: And so obviously you’re a proponent of the academic boycott of Israel. It’s one of the more controversial aspects of the BDS movement and has led to debate within the Palestine solidarity movement. How would you explain your support for the academic boycott?

RK: Well, there’s a couple of things. One of the key arguments against an academic and cultural boycott is that it suppresses academic freedom, and I vehemently disagree with that position. In fact, it’s a struggle for academic freedom, and what I mean by that is that Palestinians, both scholars, intellectuals and school children, do not enjoy academic freedom whatsoever. You have faculty in Gaza who cannot even be in the same room as scholars with West Bank universities like Birzeit and Nablus University. You have scholars who cannot attend international conferences without a permit, and if they do get a permit, part of what Israel does is use those international trips as excuses to block them returning. You have scholars who have been hired by universities in the occupied territories who can’t take the job because they’re denied entry. You have the criminalization of boycott itself, which is to me the most astounding thing, that to talk about, to produce literature about, can hold you liable in a civil court, maybe not the criminal court, meaning you have to pay damages for whatever and boycott is part of freedom of expression. Okay, there’s that.

The boycott itself was never, as Omar Barghouti put very clearly, was never directed at individual Israeli scholars or artists because what we don’t want to do is start to vilify individuals and do a kind of McCarthy test to see whether or not someone is sufficiently progressive or not. But that’s not the point; the point is that it is directed at institutions. The kind of individual collaborations can continue and in fact, we as a part of the boycott, encourage a certain level of collaboration and conversation as a way to build support, and we’re hoping that those Israeli scholars who really believe in academic freedom would support the boycott as well. In many cases, part of what this institutional boycott does is that it identifies and makes visible the role that universities have played in the violation of Palestinian human rights. We’re talking about universities on land that has been expropriated from Palestinians. We’re talking about lands that expand and create illegal colonies in places like Nablus. We’re talking about universities that host not only scholars that play a key role in designing the apartheid system in Israel and have theorized and implemented policies around questions of the so-called demographic threat, but, you know, we’re also talking about universities that have vilified and punished graduate students and faculty for taking anti-Zionist positions that are backed up with scholarship. Ilan Pappe is not there for that very reason, and he’s just one example.

So we’re saying, we want academic freedom, and that’s the whole point of the boycott, to struggle for the right of academic freedom. And finally, you’ve got this problem even outside the universities where, and again I don’t have to go into detail about this because anyone who picks up a book like Saree Makdisi’s Palestine Inside and Out, will see that you have schoolchildren who can’t attend school because of checkpoints and distances created by the apartheid wall. You’ve got the kind of unequal investment in education, let alone the conditions of life where people could be, kids could be detained at age 13. How is this a world of academic freedom, of intellectual freedom? So that’s one reason.

The other thing I think is, there is an effort on the part of those involved with the boycott to open up the discussion about what Israel and Israel’s security state has done to create instability in the region. Israel has kind-of controlled the discourse for so long, about how it’s the only democracy in the Middle East, how it’s a force for stability, when in fact on the contrary, because of dispossession, because of the oppression of Palestinians, it has been a source of instability. It has been a source of instability because it tries to resolve its problems with military build-up. And the largest factor in all of this is the United States of America. We live in a country where millions of dollars a day from the U.S. goes to supporting and propping up Israel. That’s an astounding fact, because without U.S. support, we wouldn’t be dealing with all of this. And to me, as an American citizen, as a U.S. taxpayer, it’s imperative that I take a critical stance against a U.S. foreign policy that puts the whole world in jeopardy, you know, and creates danger for many people. Not only that, but it supports an illegal regime.

It’s like, if I were driving the getaway car for a bank robbery, and I know it’s a bank robbery, and I’m still driving the car, then I’m complicit in breaking the law. And what Israel represents in some ways is the breaking of many, many international laws and the Geneva Conventions. The illegality of that regime and its practices and the fact that the U.S. props it up means we really don’t have a choice but to support an academic and cultural boycott to try to end the illegal regime.

When you look at the demands of the boycott, they’re very simple. They’re not complicated: Ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall, which of course the International Court of Justice said in 2004 was illegal. Second, recognize the fundamental civil and political rights of Arab citizens of Israel, that they should have full
equality. It’s a myth that they do have full equality; they clearly don’t. And three, respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. That’s UN resolution 194. That of course opens up a whole can of worms about, return where? To their property, to their land? Should reparations be paid? Of course. But to return is to remake the nation, and that’s part of the invocation of all of this. The three points are all about respecting the rule of law, and that’s it.

AK: My last question for you is a little more personal. Have you received, or do you anticipate any backlash, from advocates of Israel on your campus or otherwise?

RK: Absolutely. I’m used to backlash. I’m a UCLA PhD, and I’m back at UCLA. When I was at UCLA in 1984, we organized a conference on imperialism, and we invited a PLO representative to come. And the Jewish Defense League showed up and they tried to intimidate us and shut it down, the administration got involved.

So in that sense it’s not new, it’s old, to me at least. I’ve gotten some backlash already, I’ve gotten backlash for just being on the board even when I wasn’t as active as I am now. That backlash is nothing compared to having to walk two or three hours to get to your school which is fifteen minutes away in a place where when you look at the future, it doesn’t look like you even have a nation. My backlash is nothing compared to that. And I’m a tenured faculty, I’m a senior person. There are people who have suffered much greater. There’s a whole list of people who have had lost their jobs and been forced out. That’s just part of the territory. And I think it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

But I know one thing: there’s always strength in numbers, and what we want to do with the academic boycott is to force our colleagues to recognize, if you remain silent, you are complicit. So what are you going to do? You want to be complicit, and have all the perks of your job and have a lot of time to do your work, or do you want to take a stand for justice, and be not just a human, but someone who believes in humanity. It’s a simple question.

I should add one thing, though. I’m very, very fortunate being at UCLA again, because even though UCLA is notorious for attacks on people who are critical of Zionism, I’m also in a department with some wonderful scholars, many of whom are Jewish scholars, some who are actually pro-Zionist, others who are extremely anti-Zionist, but we can have our debates and have our struggles within our department and no one goes crazy over that. I feel protected at UCLA, ironically, in a way because I have colleagues like Gabriel Piterberg, who wrote The Returns of Zionism, which is a powerful book–that book is just astounding. I’ve got people like David Myers, who is the chair of the department, who has written a book called Between Jew and Arab, and even though he is less sympathetic to boycott efforts than others, but he’s someone who really lets our flowers bloom. So, I can’t complain. Some people have it much worse than I do, but in the end I’m very proud to be part of this movement, and very proud to have made the connections I’ve made with a group of Palestinian scholars and intellectuals who I think are just some of the greatest minds on the globe right now. These are people who I think the world of, and I would do anything to support the struggle.

Original Link:

The world wide BDS campaign designed to put economic pressure on the Zionist state of Israel continues to gain momentum. The following article was published on the JTA website, The Global News Service of the Jewish People, at, on October 6th 2011.

JTA) — More than 200 professors and students from Sweden have signed on to a call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

The boycott petition was initiated by the Action Group for the Boycott of Israel at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

According to the petition, “Israeli academic institutions are deeply complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine. They cooperate closely with the security-military establishment. They offer advice to military intelligence and assist in developing weapon technologies for the Occupation forces. So far, none of the Israeli academic institutions have dissociated themselves from the occupation regime, or condemned the entrenched system of discrimination of Palestinians.”

The petition adds that the boycott is not aimed at individuals but against institutions. It calls on the Swedish academics to refuse to participate in collaborations with Israel universities; to refrain from attending academic activities at Israeli universities; to suspend all funding to Israeli universities; to promote divestment from Israel by academic institutions; and to foster initiatives that support Palestinian educational institutions.

The Royal Institute of Technology has an ongoing relationship with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, home to Israel’s latest Nobel Prize winner.

European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor slammed the boycott call.

“It is incongruous that in the week that an Israeli scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, a group of Swedish academics are calling for a boycott of Israeli educational institutions,” Kantor said.

“This merely demonstrates that those who are involved with calling for boycotts against Israel are uninterested in the free transmission of values, education and progress.”

While the media continues in its futile efforts to sideline the BDS movement by portraying the supporters of BDS as Nazis and anti-Semites, a growing number of Jewish people have realised that social justice and equality are non-negotiable elements of  Jewish identity. These Jewish people do not try to hide the sins of Israel behind the racism of Arab nations (that the West have supported for decades), nor do they  demand Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel-Palestine at any cost.For many Jews, right wing Zionist Israel, rather than being the only thing that is holding back the barbaric Islamic hordes, is in fact the root source of the conflict; provoking a people, that for centuries have been the friends of Jewish people, to violence and despair in response to the colonialist oppression of Zionist Israel.

And for many Jews, like many gentiles, all it takes to change a person’s mind is to visit the West Bank and open ones eyes to what is really going on in Israel-Palestine.

The following article was published on the Mondoweiss website on September 15th 2011.

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann changes her mind on the boycott
Sep 15, 2011 05:00 pm | annie

On the eve of a significant Open Jewish Conversation about Cultural Boycott of Israel reported here last month Stolen Beauty has published a letter from highly regarded Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, founder of the the Progressive Jewish congregation Kolot Chayeinu in Park Slope, which is hosting the event tonight. The letter is addressed to other signatories of the Brooklyn Rabbis Letter, a letter originally signed by seven rabbis criticizing the boycott of Ahava Cosmetics.

Stolen Beauty prefaces:

After a visit to the West Bank, Lippman wrote to the other rabbis saying that she had changed her mind and now supported the boycott of settlement products, including Ahava.

Dear rabbis,

I am writing this note which I have meant to write since returning from the human rights mission to Israel and Palestine that I co-led in October; a trip organized by Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. It was an amazing trip in many ways, and a sorrowful one too, as we saw the painful places where human rights are damaged if not discarded. I urge you to go on next year’s trip, which will take place in mid-November.

Among many other things, we saw the destruction that is wrought by too many Israeli settlers. We stood on the charred ground that had been a thriving olive grove only days before, before settlers set fire to it, as they also poison and cut down other trees and groves, seemingly just because they are owned and run by Palestinians. We stood with cave dwellers in the south Hebron Hills and a day later they and Israeli advocate Ezra Nawi were attacked by armed and masked “bandit” settlers. We visited Hebron, where streets are empty of life except in the area of the Cave, because Palestinian shops have been locked and so have many homes, and where the main street near the Cave is divided by a cement barrier; Palestinians walk on one side, Israelis, Americans, on the other, watched by a soldier.

Israel has many real security needs. But I have come to know that the ways in which the occupation of the West Bank is enforced go way beyond those needs to the realm of harsh discrimination and ready violence, aided by a complicity military and government.

This is all preface to my main point to you: I have changed my mind about the purchase of products made in the Jewish West Bank. All the rabbis I spoke to in Israel, who were not only RHR rabbis, are not buying West Bank products. I have decided to join them. Therefore, I will no longer oppose those who refuse to buy Ahava products.

The list produced by Gush Shalom is attached, if you want to think about this as well.

I have no interest in embarrassing any of you, my colleagues. I will not be standing in front of Ricky’s urging a boycott. But I have come to think I must support it.

Thanks for “listening.” I leave Monday for a month’s sabbatical, so will have little chance to talk to any of you before going. I would be happy to talk when I return, if you like.

I wish you all a happy and hopeful new year.

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann Kolot Chayeinu / Voices of Our Lives

Further evidence of the BDS campaign’s steady victory over apartheid in Israel has come from what some might see as a strange source in the U.S.

The following article appeared on the Mondoweiss website September 13th 2011.

Presbyterian Church committee recommends church divest from Caterpillar, HP and Motorola over Israeli human rights abuses

by Adam Horowitz on September 13, 2011

The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment has recommended that the church divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions due to their relationship to Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied territories. This decision comes as the result of a corporate engagement process which began in 2004 and sought to influence corporate policy vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From a church press release:

“The General Assembly asked us to do everything we could to bring about change through dialogue, and we have done this, even asking the Assembly for more time over the years,” said committee chair the Rev. Brian Ellison, a pastor from Kansas City, Mo. “Today we are sadly reporting that these efforts have not produced any substantive change in company policies or practices, and that there is little reason for hope they will do so in the future. According to the Assembly’s prior directives and the church’s ordinary engagement process, we have little choice but to recommend divestment.”

The committee has been engaging several companies profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in the region, including activity connected with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, since the 2004 General Assembly. MRTI’s recommendations will be presented in February 2012 to the General Assembly Mission Council and then, with the Council’s approval, to the General Assembly in July 2012.

“We have not made this decision lightly, but have undertaken it with prayer and great care,” Ellison said. “We have appreciated the witness of brothers and sisters around the church in our process, both from presbyteries where these corporations are located and from those who have called us to move more quickly in this direction. We continue to pray for employees of these companies and their congregations as they are affected by this decision. We also continue to pray that all companies and individuals in the region will redouble their efforts to seek a just peace and support for human rights for all Israeli and Palestinian people.”

The press release also included the following information about the companies in question:

Background on Companies

Caterpillar has profited from sales of its products to Israeli military and civilian authorities, including its D-9 bulldozers which are used to demolish Palestinian homes and construct settlements and Israeli-only roads on Palestinian land, acts deemed illegal under international law. The company has never accepted responsibility for how its products are used and has not responded to requests for dialogue since 2009 from MRTI or other religious groups.

Hewlett-Packard has profited from sales of specialized technology used in invasive and unjust biometric scanning processes at checkpoints in the separation wall constructed on Palestinian territory. It has also provided hardware used by the Israeli Navy in its internationally condemned blockade of the Gaza Strip and in the municipal governments of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, deemed illegal under international law. Discussions with the company have been unproductive, and the company has been unwilling to address serious issues of concern.

Motorola Solutions, one of two companies to emerge from a corporate reorganization of Motorola at the start of 2011, has profited from providing communications technology to the Israeli military used in operations in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and has built and supported high-tech surveillance systems in the separation barrier and Israeli settlements built illegally on Palestinian land. The company has consistently declined to have dialogue with religious investors.


Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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