Friday, May 19, 2017

CATCHUP POST: Gideon Levy on Israeli occupation, apartheid and denialism

Dear friends,

veteran Israeli journalist, Gideon Levey pulls now punches when he responds to Israeli settlers, who publicly cancelled their subscription to Haaretz in protest of both Levy and Amira Hass truth telling about Israel's illegal occupation and apartheid regime. 

Here is Levy's "heartfelt" apology from mid April, where he responds to those who want to pretend that they and the Israeli state/military are not the problem.

In solidarity, Kim


A Heartfelt Apology to Haaretz Readers

To all offended readers, I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; and the occupier and the occupied?

Gideon Levy Apr 21, 2017 Haaretz

    Photo: Gideon Levy

Dear Orna and Moshe Gan-Zvi,
I was saddened to read in Tuesday’s Hebrew edition of Haaretz that you’ve decided to cancel your subscription. I don’t know you, but I will miss you as readers. As someone who is partly responsible for your decision, as your article indicated, allow me to apologize. To apologize for writing the truth all these years. I should have taken into account that this truth wasn’t palatable to you, and acted accordingly.

It was not pleasant for you to read the theory put forward by me and my fellow Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass about the occupation. You, who are active in Rotary Israel, who come from the business world, who are so proud of your children and the fact that they live in the West Bank. Your son was educated at the Eli premilitary academy, and your granddaughters proudly carry the last name Sheetrit. You, who are so pleased with yourselves and your values, with your children and your morals, don’t think you should be forced to read unpleasant truths. You simply don’t deserve it.

Indeed, how could I have spent all these years publishing articles that even you, generously, admitted were touching, without ever, to my shame, checking how these Palestinian families ended up in their serious predicaments? Really, how did that happen? Of course it was their own fault, but I keep blaming the Israel Defense Forces – how could I? And how could Amira Hass be so one-sided and lacking in perspective that would explain how a people could prefer the elimination of another people over a democratic society? Really, how could you, Amira?

I assume, Moshe, that if they were to lock you in a cage for years, you would continue your Rotary membership and refuse to back a struggle against your incarceration. I assume, Orna, that if foreign soldiers were to burst into your home in the middle of the night and arrest your Moshe before your eyes, kick him, force him to his knees, blindfold him, handcuff him, and beat him in front of your children who study in Eli – and then snatch him from your home for months without trial – you would be looking for some “creative leadership” for your people.
I assume that you, who come from the business world, would lovingly accept those who confiscate your property and ban you from your own land. I’m sure it would never occur to you to struggle against those who have tortured you with such evil for so many years.   

What can we do? The Palestinians are different from you, dear Orna and Moshe. They were not born in such lofty heights as you. They are human animals, bloodthirsty, born to kill. Not all of them are as ethical as you and your children from the Eli academy. Yes, there are people who fight for their freedom. There are people who are forced to do so violently. In fact, there are almost no nations who haven’t acted this way, including the chosen people you’re proud to belong to. Not only do you belong; you are the pillar of fire that leads the camp, you’re the best, the moral elite – you, the religious Zionists.

I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; the occupier and the occupied? Forgive me for daring to turn off your joy and pride in the land flowing with milk and Mobileye, and cherry tomatoes, too. There are so many wonderful things in this country, and Haaretz – with its “moral deterioration,” as you call it – is ruining the party. How did I not see that you don’t like to read the truth, and didn’t take this into account when I’d return from the occupied territories every week to write about what I’d seen with my own eyes?

But now it’s too late. The call to boycott chocolate spread was too much even for you, so you’ve decided to boycott Haaretz. From now on, the only paper on your coffee table will be the weekly, right-wing Makor Rishon. They won’t write about how IDF soldiers sprayed five Palestinian car passengers with bullets three weeks ago, and I’m sure your Shabbats will be a lot more pleasant from now on.

CATCHUP POST: Secret Documents Reveals Israel Expelled Gazans Right After Six-Day War

Dear friends,
here is the first of my catchup posts - an article published by Haaretz in mid-March about Gaza and the 1967 War.

In solidarity, Kim


Secret Documents Reveals Israel Expelled Gazans Right After Six-Day War

Israeli army was engaged in collective punishment, kicking out dozens of refugee camp residents and demolishing homes over one landmine whose tracks led back to the camp, Foreign Ministry memorandum shows.

Yotam Berger Haaretz Mar 15, 2017
Israel line up prisoners in the Gaza Strip for questioning and identification on June 6, 1967

Israel expelled Palestinians from the Gaza Strip as collective punishment in retaliation for an attempted attack on Israeli troops, a secret Foreign Ministry document dated June 15, 1967 reveals.

The document describes a visit by Foreign Ministry officials to the office of the military governor in Gaza, and discusses a decision to expel dozens of Palestinians from Gaza to Sinai after a land mine meant to harm Israeli security forces was planted. The Foreign Ministry’s Avner Arazi, who served in the ministry’s Asian department at the time, wrote the classified document.

Dr. Guy Laron, a senior lecturer in the Hebrew University’s international relations department, told Haaretz: “I didn’t hear about this incident, but there were acts of expulsion and massacres at the end of the war. They were not part of the official history, but they happened.”

He said he had not read of this specific incident, but cited an example of the Shaked commando unit, which happened at the end of the war. “It was under the command of Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on the 10th or 11th (of June),” he said. “There is also the story of Bedouin of Rafah, which happened later, in January 1972. Thousands of Bedouin were expelled, an estimated 6,000-20,000.”

Members of Akevot, the Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research, discovered the document. “What is exceptional in this story is that Foreign Ministry officials immediately write a memorandum of understanding,” Akevot executive director Lior Yavne told Haaretz. “It was not their mission. They went to sign an agreement with UNRWA. It seems that they were flustered by what they saw.”
Palestinian Refugees in the Gaza Strip - May 1967

The document describes Arazi’s visit to Gaza on June 14, days after the Six-Day War ended, in which he met with the military governor in Gaza. The officials were briefed on events in the days following the capture of Gaza. “On the 12th or 13th, a land mine exploded in the Gaza vicinity,” the document states. “The investigation found that the land mine had been laid shortly before it exploded. The tracks led to a number of homes in the Al-Tarabshe (sic) refugee camp.”

According to the document, the Israelis demanded that residents of the homes point out the people who conducted the attack. “A short time later, 110 people identifying themselves as soldiers in the Palestinian liberation army appeared, and took collective blame,” the document states.

Arazi describes the repercussions of this stand. “They did not heed pleas to identify who among them committed the act,” he recalled. “They gave them three hours to reveal the perpetrators otherwise they would all be punished – it was decided to transfer anyone who did not reply by the end of the ultimatum to Sinai and to leave them alone! It seems the punishment was carried out in the meantime. Likewise, the army blew up eight homes to where the tracks led.”

The document also describes other incidents of the army attempting to pressure the Palestinian population to turn in weapons and soldiers to the security forces.

“The government demanded of refugee camp residents in the Strip that they hand over all weapons in their possession,” the document states. “They did not respond to this appeal. Therefore, the government asked the local UNRWA representative to designate a warehouse in which weapons holders could put their weapons inside for the night without investigation or the need to be identified. This method was more effective.” It adds: “Assuming that some Egyptian soldiers were hiding in refugee camp homes, camp residents were called upon to hand over such soldiers. There has been no response.”
An Israeli armoured unit entering Gaza in 1967.

Laron says that there are eyewitness reports of mass expulsions from the West Bank immediately at the end of the war. “It did happen at the end of the war in the West Bank,” he said. “There was probably some organized plan, about which no documents have been released. However, there are accounts of soldiers arriving in trucks and encouraging residents to leave, and transporting them to expel them,” he added.

“Uri Avnery, in memoirs he has now published, claims that he met soldiers from the unit who said that this was their job – carrying out an organized plan meant to lead to the expulsion of West Bank residents,” Laron continued. “The commanding general, Uzi Narkiss, just before the war said that if they let us, we can kick out the Arabs from the West Bank within 48 hours. Thousands were exiled without a doubt.”

Akevot’s Livne said the testimony in the document by the Gaza governor in 1967 shows that home demolitions and expulsion served as a punishment tool in the territories by the Israel Defense Forces going back to the first days of the occupation. Referring to the officer who spoke with ministry officials, Yavne added, “State jurists tend to deny that home demolitions are part of a punishment policy, but the testimony of Gen. Gaon illustrates the real nature of the act of demolition, which always harms those who are not involved in warfare.”

Upcoming Live From Occupied Palestine posts!

Dear friends,

my apologies for the lack of posts over the last two months. I have been snowed under with work, study and politics.   I actually had a number of posts in draft to post but one reason or another had delayed posting them and now suddenly its two months since I last posted! Where did the time go??  

Over the next week or so, I will posted the backed-up drafts and hope to also get back into the swing of posting on more regular basis once again about what is happening in Palestine, as well as activism for Palestine in Australia and internationally.

Thank you once again for your support!

In solidarity, Kim

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Asaf Harel to Israelis: Wake Up and Smell The Apartheid.

Dear friends,
apologies for posting this late. I have been meaning to post this almost two weeks but have been swamped with other work and study.  Hopefully by now many of you will have seen Israel writer, director and comedian Asaf Harel's scathing indictment of Israeli society. In a monologue, Harel on Israeli television implored Israelis  to wake up and smell the apartheid.  In the monologue, Harel pulls no punches saying: "Apartheid has been here for ages ... it's just that we are on its good side, so it doesn't really bother us". 

He went on to point out:  "Israel's most impressive innovation, more than any high-tech project or Rafael weapn, is our amazing ability to ignore what is happening mere kilometres away to our neighbours. A whole people. Transparent. Like it doesn't exist. Not in the news, not online, not on social media and definitely not in the hearts of the people. Nothing".

I have included the full clip of his monologue with translation below, along with an article from Haaretz on his stand.

in solidarity, Kim

In Last Monologue, Israeli Comedy Show Host Implores Israelis to Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid

Asaf Harel's scathing indictment of Israeli society has gone viral.
Haaretz Mar 01, 2017

An Israeli comedy show host's searing indictment of Israeli society has gone viral on social media, raking in over 5,000 shares in the two days since it was posted on the show's Facebook page on Monday.

In the video, Asaf Harel of "Good Night With Asaf Harel" castigates Israelis for ignoring the occupation and claims that Israel is an apartheid state.

"Good Night," which was aired by Channel 10, was one of Israel's most controversial shows on mainstream television in recent years. In one instance, the show was fined after Harel ridiculed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exploiting his brother's death for political gain.

The episode was "Good Night's" last, as the show was not renewed for another season due to poor ratings, even though the show has gained a strong following on social media.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Haaretz: Jeff Halper detained for "alleged possession of BDS Material".

Dear friends,
news just in that well-known Israeli-American activist, Jeff Halper was detained by Israeli police for "possession of BDS Material".  Please find the full text of the Haaretz article below. As the article notes, even if Halper did have BDS material and even if he was distributing it, he would not have been in violation of any Israeli law, including Israel's anti-BDS laws. Clearly this is a case of harassment and intimidation.

in solidarity, Kim


Jeff Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was held after leading a tour of the E1 area across the road from the Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.
 Yotam Berger Haaretz, Mar 13, 2017

Police detained Israeli American left-wing activist Jeff Halper on Monday at the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement, for suspected incitement, saying they acted on a complaint he had "materials related to BDS" in his possession.

Halper, picked up after leading a tour of foreigners to the E1 site across the road from the settlement, was transported by police van to a nearby station then released without being placed under arrest.

Police officers photographed the posters and maps he was holding before freeing him. Halper denies handing out any material related to BDS during the tour, or even discussing the boycott movement.

Handing out such materials would not have been in violation of the law, even a 2011 anti-boycott law according to which a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott's targets without them having to prove that they sustained any damage.

The law also denies a person or a company that declares a boycott of Israel or the settlements eligibility to bid for government tenders. A separate law passed this month entitles Israel to deny entry to pro-BDS activists.

Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told Haaretz he was on a tour with foreign visitors in the territories last Wednesday. He took the group of 15 to a lookout over Area E1, near Ma'aleh Adumim.

"It's a good place to show them this context of where Ma'aleh Adumim is located relative to Jerusalem. It's a regular stop on our tours, this wasn't the first time I was taking a group to this spot," Halper said.

After the tour the tourists boarded a bus headed north and he headed to catch a bus to Jerusalem, but "as I ran toward a bus, I saw police in the area, and I saw them talking and contacting the group. I called the Palestinian driver (of the bus transporting the tourists) and he said he had heard a rumor that we were distributing BDS material."

"Suddenly the bus came to a stop in the Middle of Maaleh Adumim, after two stops, the police boarded the bus and told me, you are being detained, and they took me off the bus," Halper said.

Halper was questioned about the material he had.

"They didn't tell me why I was being detained; they said something about BDS, but no details. They put me into a van, which is unpleasant as it is. They drove me in the direction of the police station. Just when we got to the station they stopped asked me a few questions about what I had in my bag and whether I had any BDS material in the bag.

"We got out of the vehicle and they threw my maps on the van, the maps were of Jerusalem and the greater Jerusalem area. There was also something on which it was written BDS or for BDS, it's something that I use.

"I say that we have no solution to offer and I propose a binational democratic state, so I have the slogan that goes BDS for BDS. It's not a sticker or flyer, but just a map with those words on it.

"They found it and took it, wrote up a summons or something like that, and released me," Halper said.

Halper said the police refused to give him a copy of the ticket or explain what he was suspected of.

In response to a query from Haaretz, the Samaria regional police said:

"There is no investigation into this matter. There was information checked by a patrol once it became clear he committed no violations, he was freed."

Police spokespeople said the suspicion against him is "incitement" but he was released after questioning, and no further investigation was expected to take place.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Israel’s New Travel Ban: A Survival Kit for Activists Stopped at Israel's Airport

Dear friends,
you may have heard about that the Knesset has passed a new law automatically banning supporters of the Palestinian initiated and lead, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign from being able to enter Israel. As a number of commentators have noted, the new law in many way doesn't change things that much - Israel was already able to ban pro-Palestine activists for not only supporting BDS but also just for being pro-Palestine.   However, what this law does do is make it clear (once again), that Israel has no intention of ever ending its apartheid regime, occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.

Below are two articles from Haaretz: the second discusses the passage of the bill/law, while the first offers some advice to activists in regard to the "travel ban" and new law. While this advice is limited, it is still worth the read.

If any other relevant articles relating to the new law emerge, which might provide a solid analysis, clarity and information about the law, come to light I will post them as well.

In solidarity, Kim

Israel’s New Travel Ban: A Survival Kit for Activists Stopped at Israel's Airport

What happens if you've ever signed a petition condemning the Israeli occupation? This is your survival kit for entry into the country at Ben-Gurion airport.
Judy Maltz: Haaretz: Mar 09, 2017

Pro-Palestinian activists arrested after attempting a 'fly in' protest in Israel's Ben Gurion Airport Daniel Bar-On.

New legislation passed in the Knesset this week would deny entry into Israel to any foreign nationals who openly call for boycotting the country, even if the boycott is restricted to West Bank settlements.

Amendment No. 27 to the Entry Into Israel Law (No. 5712-1952) stipulates that the entry ban will apply to any non-citizen “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.” It applies not only to boycotts of Israel, but also to boycotts of any Israeli institutions or “any area under its control” – a clear reference to the settlements.

Does this mean that anyone who ever signed a petition condemning the Israeli occupation could be taken into custody upon landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport? Does it mean that anyone who ever wrote a Facebook post announcing his or her decision to refrain from buying wine produced in the settlements could be sent back home on the next outbound flight? Will foreign nationals arriving at the airport be subject to more scrutiny? And who needs to be concerned?

We asked some legal experts to predict what changes can be expected on the ground, in wake of the new legislation, and to provide some tips for travelers who are worried they might be targeted now. Here’s what they had to say:

      Israel’s new travel ban: A survival kit for activists stopped at Israel's airport Haaretz

What will change in practice now that this new amendment has taken effect?

Under the Entry Into Israel Law, which was enacted in 1952, the Minister of Interior was already authorized to ban individuals from entering the country at his discretion, even if they have already obtained visas. As Oded Feller, an expert on immigration issues at the Association of Civil Rights in Israel notes: “Even before this amendment was added to the law, the Ministry of Interior felt free to detain at Israel’s borders those suspected of opposing Israeli policy, and in certain cases, even to deport them.” That has included not only supporters of an all-out boycott against Israel but even individuals simply critical of the Israeli government.

Such was the case last month when Jennifer Gorovitz, a senior executive at the New Israel Fund, was detained at the airport for 90 minutes and interrogated about her organization’s activities and its funding of various Israeli nonprofits. But as Feller points out, Gorovitz was not the first Jewish visitor to be pulled aside for questioning at the airport. “Other prominent examples that come to mind from previous years,” he said, “are Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein,” both well-known critics of Israel. For this reason, Yadin Elam, another Israeli attorney who specializes in human rights and immigration, believes the new amendment is more declarative than anything else. “Nothing really has changed in practice,” he says. “Before this, the Minister of Interior also had the power to bar entry of individuals who called for a boycott of Israel. The difference now is that the ban is automatic, and the Minister of Interior can, at his discretion, overturn it.” So is there reason to believe more people will be stopped at the airport now? “Only time will tell,” says Feller, “but probably.”

Is supporting a boycott enough grounds for being denied entry into Israel?

Pro-Palestinian protest in New York City. Anadolu Agency

The law does not ban those who support a boycott. Rather, it bans individuals, as well as representatives of organizations, that have issued a public call for a boycott that has “a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott.” Most legal experts say that it will ultimately be left to the courts to define what exactly that entails. Knesset Member Roy Folkman (Kulanu), one of the sponsors of the legislation, has said the ban would not apply to someone who has signed a petition in favor of a boycott. Feller is not convinced. “Once the amendment has been enacted, it will be up to the courts and the authorities to interpret it,” he says. “Folkman is not its interpreter and has no influence on how it will be implemented.”

How will Israeli Border Police know if someone has ever issued a call for a boycott?

Herein lies the big problem with this new amendment to the law, as Elam notes. “It is virtually impossible to implement,” he says. “Sure they have black lists, and they always have. But they also have gray lists. Are they going to start Googling every person on those lists who enters the country? Are they going to force every foreigner to pledge loyalty to the state of Israel when they enter the country or sign a form that they have never called for a boycott?”

Say you get stopped at the airport now, are Border Police allowed to search your bags?

Yes, and this has been true ever since the Entry Into Israel Law was enacted in 1952.  The law doesn’t specify, however, what types of searches are allowed.

Can they ask to search your digital devices?

This is trickier. As Feller notes, cellphones and tablets did not exist 55 years ago when the law was passed. “It could be argued that since the law does not give the authorities the explicit right to pry in this way, that they don’t possess such a right,” he says. “But as we know, when it comes to Israeli immigration authorities, many things are done without specific authorization.” And what should someone do if they are asked to unlock their phones or reveal their passwords to social media? Feller says they have the right to refuse but they should be mindful that they might then be detained or put on the next flight out of the country. Elam calls it a “Catch-22 situation.” “If you hand over your phone, there’s the risk they will see things you don’t want them to see, but if you don’t hand it over, there’s the risk that they’ll think you’re hiding something.”

What precautions should be taken to avoid being detained or sent back home?

For those concerned that things they may have said, signed or written in the past might be used against them now, Elam shares the following advice, which he gives all foreign nationals fearful that they might not be welcomed into Israel: Book a flight on a weekday, rather than a weekend, and on a regular airline, rather than a charter flight. “The reason I say a weekday is that you don’t want to be stuck in a detention facility over the weekend here,” he explains, “and the reason I say a regular airline is that usually they fly back and forth one the same day, while with charter flights, it could take a week until there’s a flight back, and they you’ll be stuck in detention all that time.”

What about those Jews who love Israel but hate the occupation – any special precautions they should take before booking their tickets to Israel now?

Elam says they might want to consider getting a letter from the Israeli consulate near their hometown or a local Jewish leader vouching that they are loyal members of the Jewish community. “Still,” he cautions, “there is really no way to guarantee that they won’t face any problems once they get here.

read more:


Israel's Travel Ban: Knesset Bars Entry to Foreigners Who Call for Boycott of Israel or Settlements
New law doesn't include caveat urged by Justice Ministry: To exempt Palestinians who reside in Israel.

Jonathan Lis: Haaretz: Mar 07, 2017

       A BDS demonstration in southern France, June 2015. George Robert, AP

The Knesset gave its final approval Monday evening to a bill that forbids granting entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlements.

The interior minister would be able to make exceptions to this rule if he deems it warranted in a particular case.

The bill, which was enacted into law after it passed its second and third readings, was backed by 46 lawmakers and opposed by 28.

Zionist Union this time imposed coalition discipline against the bill, after it gave its MKs freedom to vote as they choose during its first reading. The Knesset Interior and Environment Committee approved the final wording of the boycott bill, whose goal is to fight the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

It says the entry ban will apply to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.”

This definition was copied from a 2011 law that permitted civil lawsuits against BDS activists.

The ban would apply not just to people who call for boycotts against Israel, but also to those who call for boycotts of any Israeli institution or any “area under its control” – i.e., the settlements.

The Justice Ministry urged the Interior Committee to make an exception for Palestinians with temporary residency in Israel, like those admitted under the family unification program, who spend several years as temporary residents before receiving permanent residency.

Exempting these Palestinians from the ban would make it easier for the law to withstand a court challenge, the ministry argued. But the committee rejected this idea.

One of the bill’s sponsors, MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu), said during the debate, “It’s possible to feel national pride and still believe in human rights. It’s possible to defend the name and honor of the State of Israel and there’s no shame in that. This law represents Kulanu as a nationalist socially oriented party that believes in a balance between national pride and human rights.”

Another sponsor, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), said, “What does this law say, after all? A healthy person who loves those who love him and hates those who hate him doesn’t turn the other cheek.”

The leader of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, strongly criticized the legislation, telling the Knesset of his recent trip to the J Street Conference in the U.S.: "I was in the U.S. two weeks ago, I saw there thousands of Jews who support a boycott of the settlements. These are people who act not against the state but against the occupation.

"I'm against the occupation and for a boycott of the settlements that are a war crime and the theft of land from private individuals. The occupation will end up making Israel a leper everywhere."

MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) said, “Who today doesn’t oppose a boycott of the settlements? Look at the UN, at the EU, at what’s happening in the international community. Do you want to boycott all of them and refuse them entry to Israel? The whole world thinks the settlements are illegal. You are essentially promoting a move that will strengthen the boycott of Israel.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) added, “We’re talking about a law that is against freedom of expression, that constitutes political censorship and is meant to silence people. It’s ostensibly against the boycotters of Israel but it doesn’t make a distinction between Israel and the settlements and it thus serves the BDS movement.”

Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson responded to the ban saying that "On the same day as the Trump administration signed the second version of an unconstitutional and discriminatory executive order barring visitors from specific Muslim countries, Israel just passed its own discriminatory travel ban barring supporters of nonviolent tactics to end Israel's violations of Palestinian rights.

"My grandparents are buried in Israel, my husband and kids are citizens, and I lived there for three years, but this bill would bar me from visiting because of my work in support of Palestinian rights. I'm very proud to support the BDS movement, and hope that the response to this ban will hasten the day when anyone can travel there freely."

Peace Now said the ban is "neither Jewish nor democratic" and "a clear violation of freedom of expression. Through this law the Bennetyahu government will not prevent boycott but rather, deteriorate Israel's international standing and lead Israel towards international isolation."

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said "the law violates basic democratic rules in that it sets a political position as a reason to prevent foreigners from entering Israel and occupied territory. Those who wish to visit certainly do not have to toe the current Israeli government's position on the issue of occupation.

"The law's damage is expected to be particularly great for tens of thousands of Palestinian families where a member is either a temporary resident or holds only a temporary entrance permit and will now be exposed to having these rights lifted for the expression of a political view." 

Adalah and ACRI had appealed to Knesset members ahead of the law's approval, writing that "the interior minister is not entitled to act like a commissar standing at the gate and deciding for the citizenry and residents of occupied territory who depend on Israeli checkpoints, which viewpoints are entitled to be heard.

"Freedom of speech is not only about the right to speak, but also the right to be exposed to opinions, even opinions that outrage or anger the majority in Israel.

read more:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

We should support the Palestinians, not Israel

Dear friends,
please find below my latest article for Red Flag on Netanyahu's visit to Australia and Malcolm Turnbull's sycophantic welcome of a fellow human rights abuser and war monger.

in solidarity,

We should support the Palestinians, not Israel

Arriving in Australia for a four-day diplomatic visit on Wednesday, 21 February, Benjamin Netanyahu is the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Australia.

Netanyahu – who also held Israel’s prime ministership between 1996 and 1999 – is responsible for the ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza, as well as Israel’s brutal military occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

In 2014, he ordered Israel’s 50-day murderous assault on Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,250 Palestinians, including almost 1,500 civilians, one-third of whom were children. In addition, more than 11,230 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children.

Despite Netanyahu’s well-documented record as a war criminal and human rights abuser, he has been warmly welcomed by Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In a sycophantic comment piece published in the Australian on the day of his arrival, Turnbull declared Israel “a miraculous nation”, which had “flourished despite invasion, conflict and an almost complete lack of natural resources, other than the determination and genius of its people”.

He went on to extol Australia’s support for the Zionist state, while condemning those who sought to hold Netanyahu and Israel accountable for war crimes against the Palestinian people. Turnbull not only condemned the UN Security Council’s reaffirmation of the illegal nature of Israel’s colonies on occupied Palestinian land, he also said that his government “deplore[d] the boycott campaign designed to delegitimise the Jewish state”.

The Turnbull government’s enthusiastic welcome of a war criminal and human rights abuser should come as no surprise. Successive Australian governments, after all, have overseen systematic human rights abuses of refugees and asylum seekers and implemented genocidal policies against Indigenous people.

Australia, like Israel, is a settler-colonial state, built on racism, ethnic cleansing and inequalities that are codified in law and built structurally into the economic, social and political system, ensuring that the settler population is legally, socially and politically privileged over the Indigenous population. In 2006, then Israeli ambassador to Australia, Naftali Tamir, in an interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, explained the racist nature of the settler-colonial alliance between the two countries:
“Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia. We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don’t have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not – we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the south-eastern side.”
There is nothing “miraculous” about Israel as a nation. Since its creation in 1948, Israel has been an openly racist state, using both military force and legally sanctioned discrimination to impose an apartheid system both inside the Zionist state and in the Palestinian territories it illegally seized in 1967.

According Adalah, an Israeli human rights organisation for Arab minority rights, there are more than 50 laws that discriminate against Israel’s non-Jewish citizens in areas such as property rights, political activity, education, criminal procedures, employment and marriage.

In addition, Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem endure a regime of more than 3,000 military regulations which “govern” every aspect of life. These military orders, which can be issued at the whim of a military commander, are not made public but can affect Palestinian legal identity, education, employment, healthcare, housing, political activity and freedom of movement.

Israel was created in 1948, as Zionist militias depopulated more than 500 Palestinian Arab villages and towns, forcing more than 750,000 Palestinians to flee to neighbouring countries and internally displacing another 150,000. The Zionist state has never ceased ethnically cleansing Palestinians either inside Israel or in the territories it seized in 1967.

Currently in Israel’s south, more than 80,000 Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel from 46 “unrecognised villages” are fighting against Netanyahu’s attempt to ethnically cleanse them from their traditional lands. Despite the majority of these villages being in existence prior to 1948, the Israeli state has repeatedly denied them legal status, excluding them from government maps and the provision of local and national government infrastructure, such as electricity, running water, sewage, telephone lines, as well as educational and health facilities and services.

As a result, the villages are regularly threatened with destruction. One such village, Al-Arakib, which is home to more than 300 people, has been demolished by the Israeli state and rebuilt by its residents more than 100 times, while the village of Umm al-Hiran is currently fighting Israel’s attempt to raze it to the ground in order to establish a Jewish-only township in its place.

Earlier this month, the Israeli parliament approved the “Validation Law”. The law, backed by Netanyahu, allows the Israeli state to expropriate private Palestinian lands in the Occupied West Bank for the construction of illegal Israeli colonies. The law is in violation of both international law and the UN Security Council Resolution passed on 23 December, the same resolution condemned by Turnbull in the Australian.

By condemning both the UN Security Council Resolution and the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, Turnbull has made it clear that he has no interest in upholding Palestinian rights, international law or supporting a just peace in the Middle East.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Commentary: Australian Labor Party in a tizz over how to save apartheid Israel

Dear friends,
please find below a comment piece by my comrade Rick Kuhn, a founding member of Jews Against Occupation and Oppression, which has been published in Red Flag on the current "debate" on Israel in the Australian Labour Party.

in solidarity,
Labor in a tizz over how to save apartheid Israel
There’s a fight going on inside the Labor Party over the cosmetics of its position on Israel and Palestine. Currently, party leader Bill Shorten, who wants to shake the hand of Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu while he’s visiting Australia, is sticking with the ALP’s long standing policy.

Whether Labor or the Coalition has been in office, Australian governments have been among the fiercest supporters of apartheid Israel since its creation. Unlike about 138 other countries, Australia has refused to recognise the Palestinian Authority as the government of a Palestinian state. Slavish backing of Israel is mainly a bi-product of the Australia-US alliance, which has long benefited the ruling class here.

In the Australian parliament, the most hard-line supporter of Israel, including of its military aggression, is Labor member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby. Danby thinks that the recent legalisation of the theft of even more privately owned Palestinian land on the West Bank, by Israeli colonists, was a bad idea.

But, Danby argues, that there is no reason to recognise a Palestinian state. For Danby and the Israeli authorities, the weaker the PA is, the better.

Some members of the Israeli government also dislike the new law. Although Israel and its Zionist predecessors have been stealing Palestinian land for over a century, they are worried that it is too large and sudden a step. It might provoke a militant response from ordinary Palestinians and create further sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

Former Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke, a passionate “friend of Israel” for decades, and Kevin Rudd, along with former Labor foreign ministers Gareth Evans and Bob Carr now think that the PA should be recognised. They argue that the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the latest Israeli land grab run the risk of fatally puncturing the already dissolving illusion of a possible “two state solution” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Rudd is fearful of a third Intifada: another Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
Recognition, they hope, will be a diplomatic finger slap that prompts the Israeli government to wake up to its own interests and adds to the credibility of the PA.

The illusion of the “two state solution” was used to justify the establishment of the PA in 1994, as Israeli’s out-sourced police force to discipline the Palestinian people, and to urge it to make ever greater concessions to Israel’s demands.

Israel and its backers attribute the lack of progress towards the establishment of a Palestinian state to the bad faith of the PA.

Yet, under the cover of the “two state illusion”, the annexation of Palestinian land on the West Bank, all of it already entirely under Israeli military control, has not slowed but expanded.

Hawke writes that he supports both the Palestinian “aspiration to be fully free” and “the right of Israel to exist as a state behind secure and recognised borders”. These are totally incompatible. While Israel exists, neither its second class Palestinian citizens, nor the Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza and the diaspora can have full civic rights, including to their land, let along democratic control over their lives.

The squabble in the Labor Party over how to best back Israel reflects growing global sympathy, crucially from ordinary people rather than governments, for the Palestinians. It’s sign of desperation and isolation that Netanyahu is coming to this pissy middle power on the other side of the planet. He is the first sitting Israeli prime minister to do so.

Increased recognition of the repressive PA as a state is symbolic of this shift. But it won’t satisfy the aspirations of Palestinians for freedom.

Only a democratic state made up of all those now living within the borders of historic Palestine, together with the Palestinian diaspora, can achieve that goal.

PHOTOS: Melbourne Says No To Netanyahu

Dear friends,
please find below some photos from the Melbourne Says No To Netanyahu which took place on 19 February, a few days before Netanyahu arrived in Australia which began on 22 February.

In September 2016, Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop visited Israel and officially invited Netanyahu to come to Australia in early 2017 saying that she wanted to "reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the state of Israel and our friendship" and that she believed that "the Australian public would warmly embrace you, welcome you".

As Prime Minister, Netanyahu has been responsible for Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza, as well as Israel's ongoing occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

In 2014, Netanyahu ordered Israel's 50 day murderous assault on Gaza, which resulted in the death of more than 2,250 Palestinians, including almost 1,500 civilians, one third of whom were children, along with 299 women. In addition, more than 11,230 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children and 3.540 women. Amongst those killed were 142 Palestinian families, who made up 742 of the fatalities.

During the murderous assault Netanyahu ordered more than 6,000 airstrikes and the firing of more than 50,000 tank and artillery shells on the imprisoned population of Gaza.

In July 2014, Netanyahu also confirmed that Israel had no intention of ending its illegal occupation and oppression of more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

While Julie Bishop and the Liberals, who supported Israel's assault on Gaza and the US's bloody wars in the Middle East, continue to carry out human rights abuses against refugees and asylumseekers and Australia's Indigenous community, are happy to welcome a fellow war criminal and human right abusers, we weren't and decided to give Netanyahu the real welcome that a war criminal and human rights abuser he deserves.

Sydney also held a much larger rally during his actual visit. I will post photos as soon as possible.

In solidarity, Kim