Thursday, February 28, 2013

[ePalestine] NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The BDS movement explained (By Omar Barghouti)

Daily News - Opinion

The BDS movement explained

Why I've boycotted Israel

By Omar Barghouti / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Published: Monday, February 25, 2013, 4:52 AM
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013, 4:52 AM

In many media reports on the recent panel held at Brooklyn College on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, BDS was subjected to relentless vilification and unfounded allegations.

This was yet another ruthless campaign to demonize and shut down all criticism of Israel. Following congressional Israel-centered bullying of secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel, it is further evidence of the rise of a new McCarthyism — one that uses unconditional allegiance to Israel as the litmus test of loyalty.

Indeed, suppressed in all media coverage of the Brooklyn College controversy were Palestinian voices — like mine — who can best explain why Palestinians have embarked on this nonviolent, rights-based struggle for our rights, and how it is deeply inspired by the South African anti-apartheid and the U.S. civil rights movements.

Despite the intimidation campaign waged against it, Brooklyn College — with support from civil libertarians and influential liberal voices — upheld academic freedom and allowed the BDS event on Feb. 7 to proceed.

Mayor Bloomberg indirectly compared attempts by politicians to impose their agenda on the college to North Korea's despotic policies. Ironically, in a 2012 BBC poll of world public opinion, Israel ranked third among the countries with the most negative influence in the world, competing with North Korea. As many now recognize, BDS has played a considerable role in exposing Israeli policies and, as a result, engendering this steady erosion of Israel's international standing.

The BDS call was launched on July 9, 2005, by an alliance of more than 170 Palestinian parties, unions, refugee networks, NGOs and grassroots associations. They asked international civil society organizations and people of conscience to "impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era."

Specifically, BDS calls for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967; an end to what even the U.S. State Department slams as Israel's "institutional, legal and societal discrimination" against its Palestinian citizens; and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands from which they were forcibly displaced.

Our opponents call us "Jew haters." That is a lie and a slander. BDS advocates equal rights for all and consistently opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. In fact, many progressive Jewish activists, intellectuals, students, feminists and others participate in and sometimes lead BDS campaigns in Western countries. The increasing impact of Israeli supporters of BDS has led the Knesset to pass a draconian anti-boycott law banning advocacy of any boycott against Israel or its complicit institutions.

Calling the boycott of Israel anti-Semitic is itself an anti-Semitic statement, as it reduces all Jews to a monolith that is absolutely equivalent to the state of Israel, is entirely represented by Israel and holds collective responsibility for Israel's policies.

If boycott is "withdrawing . . . cooperation from an evil system," as Martin Luther King Jr. teaches us, BDS fundamentally calls on all peace-loving U.S. citizens to fulfill their profound moral obligation to desist from complicity in Israel's system of oppression against the Palestinian people, which takes the form of occupation, colonization and apartheid. Given the billions of dollars lavished by the U.S. on Israel annually, American taxpayers are effectively subsidizing Israel's human rights violations.

Building on its global ascendance, the BDS movement is spreading across the U.S., especially on campuses and in churches. Multi-million-dollar campaigns by Israel's foreign ministry to counter BDS by "rebranding" through art, science and cynically using LGBT rights to "pinkwash" Israel's denial of basic Palestinian rights have failed to stem the tide.

Without increasing international pressure and accountability, Israel will carry on with total impunity its brutal and illegal blockade of Gaza; its untamed construction of illegal settlements and wall in the occupied West Bank; its strategy of "Judaization" in Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Jordan Valley and the Naqab (Negev), its adoption of new racist laws and its denial of refugees' rights.

Israel and its lobby groups often try to delegitimize the Palestinian quest for equality by portraying the nonviolent BDS emphasis on equal rights and the right of return as aiming to "destroy Israel." If equality and justice would destroy Israel, what does that say about Israel? Did equality and justice destroy South Africa? Alabama?

As the first edition of McCarthyism was defeated through the industrious and creative toils of brave, principled defenders of freedom and human rights, so will this new McCarthyism.

Barghouti is the co-founder of the BDS movement and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. He is the author of "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights."



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Saturday, February 09, 2013

[ePalestine] The Nation: Judith Butler's Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS

The Nation

Judith Butler's Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS 

February 7, 2013  

Editors Note: Despite a campaign to silence them, philsophers Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti spoke at Brooklyn College on Thursday night. In an exclusive, The Nation presents the text of Butler's remarks. 


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Friday, February 01, 2013

[ePalestine] NYT: U.N. Panel Says Israeli Settlement Policy Violates Law

Asked if Israel’s actions constituted war crimes, Ms. Chanet replied that its offenses fell under Article 8 of the International Criminal Court statute. “Article 8 of the I.C.C. statute is the chapter of war crimes,” she said at a news conference. “That is the answer.”  

The New York Times 

January 31, 2013 

U.N. Panel Says Israeli Settlement Policy Violates Law 


GENEVA — Israel has pursued a creeping annexation of the Palestinian territories through the creation of Jewish settlements and committed multiple violations of international law, possibly including war crimes, a United Nations panel said Thursday, calling for an immediate halt to all settlement activity and the withdrawal of all settlers. 

Presenting their findings in Geneva after a nearly six-month inquiry for the United Nations Human Rights Council, a panel of three judges, led by Christine Chanet of France, presented its view that Israel’s settlements violated the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit a state from transferring its own civilian population into territory it has occupied. 

Asked if Israel’s actions constituted war crimes, Ms. Chanet replied that its offenses fell under Article 8 of the International Criminal Court statute. “Article 8 of the I.C.C. statute is the chapter of war crimes,” she said at a news conference. “That is the answer.” 

Israel’s Foreign Ministry quickly dismissed the report as “counterproductive and unfortunate” and said it provided a reminder of the Human Rights Council’s “systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel.” 

Israel and the United States view the Human Rights Council, which answers to some nondemocratic member states, including Saudi Arabia, China and Cuba, that are themselves often scrutinized for human rights violations, as eager to shine a harsh spotlight on Israeli practices even though it overlooks egregious rights problems elsewhere. Israel has had repeated conflicts with the body and declined to cooperate with the panel’s fact-finding inquiry. 

Israel “must cease all settlement activities without preconditions” and start withdrawing all settlers from the occupied territories, the judges said in their report, scheduled to be debated in the rights council in March. 

The panel drew on 67 submissions from a cross section of academics, diplomats, Israeli civilian organizations and Palestinians, Ms. Chanet said. Because Israel decided not to cooperate with the investigators, they were unable to visit the West Bank and went instead to the Jordanian capital, Amman, to take testimony. 

The council’s decision last March to investigate the effect of Jewish settlements on Palestinian rights prompted Israel to break off cooperation with the council, castigating it as a political platform used “to bash and demonize Israel.” The panel’s report came two days after Israel boycotted a council review of its human rights, becoming the first country to withhold cooperation from a process in which all 193 United Nations member states have previously engaged. 

The United States has condemned Israel’s settlement policy as unhelpful and an obstacle to achieving a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue, but it also opposed the creation of the fact-finding mission, saying at the time that it was an example of the council’s bias against Israel, that it did not “advance the cause of peace” and that it would “distract the parties from efforts to resolve the issues that divide them.” 

The panel noted that Israel had established about 250 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, with a combined population now estimated at 520,000. It said the settler population was growing much faster than the population of Israel outside the settlements. 

The report quotes the Israeli finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, as saying in November that the government had doubled the budget for West Bank settlements “in a low-key way because we didn’t want parties in Israel or abroad to thwart the move.” 

These actions fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the panel said, and if a future Palestinian state ratified the Rome Statute, which created the court, Israel could be called to account for “gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.” 

The report was welcomed by Palestinian officials and some settlement opponents in Israel. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement that the report documented “illegal Israeli practices without any ambiguity.” 

Israeli officials, on the other hand, dismissed the report, saying that the only way to resolve the settlement issue was through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without preconditions. 

Yigal Palmor, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that the council “systematically gives Israel a raw deal” and that the report’s conclusions were predictable. Defending Israel’s decision not to cooperate with the fact-finding mission, Mr. Palmor said, “If the cards are marked, are we expected to play anyway?” 

He criticized the report for mentioning Israel’s unilateral evacuation of 21 settlements in Gaza and 4 in the northern West Bank in 2005 “in passing in a few lines, as an insignificant detail, although it was a very major event for Israel.” 

“It adds insult to injury,” he said. 

The report did not explicitly call for an economic boycott of the settlements or sanctions against Israel, but Israel said its authors deliberately used language that could serve groups calling for such measures. 

Frances Raday, an Israeli law professor and a human rights advocate, told Israeli television that the report “gives unusual encouragement to attempts that already exist to boycott settlements and Israeli institutions and Israel as a state because of the settlements.” 

According to the report, Palestinians’ rights to freedom of movement and expression and their access to places of worship, education, water, housing and natural resources “are being violated consistently.” 

The settlements are maintained through “a system of total segregation” between the settlers, who enjoy a preferential legal status, and the rest of the population, the report concludes. The settlements have resulted in the creation of legal zones in which settlers are subject to Israeli laws but Palestinians come under a patchwork of military orders and laws dating back to Ottoman and British rule, the report says. 

In July, an Israeli government-appointed commission of legal experts published a report saying Israel’s presence in the West Bank was not occupation and recommending that the state approve scores of unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts there. 

The three-member commission, led by Edmund Levy, a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, confirmed a position long held by Israel: that the territories are not occupied, since Jordan’s previous hold over them was never internationally recognized, and that their fate must be determined in negotiations. Still, fearing international censure, among other things, Israel’s government has not formally adopted the commission’s conclusions. 

Nick Cumming-Bruce reported from Geneva, and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem. 


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