Architects threaten to boycott Israel over 'apartheid' barrier
Union votes to boycott Israeli unis
Benjamin Joffe-Walt, London May 31, 2006
BRITAIN'S largest union of lecturers has voted in favour of a boycott of Israeli academics and higher education institutions that do not publicly dissociate themselves from Israel's "apartheid policies".
CUPE joins boycott of Israel
Union's Ontario wing condemns 'apartheid wall'
Melissa Leong National Post
Monday, May 29, 2006
The Ontario wing of Canada's largest union has voted to join an international boycott campaign against Israel "until that state recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination."
by Michael Schembri from Sydney | 20/07/2006 11:48:12 AM
WORLDPRIDE IN ISRAEL
As people of different political, ethnic and religious backgrounds who have made our contributions over the years to lesbian and gay freedom in Australia, we call on individuals and organisations not to support WorldPride in Jerusalem in August.
WorldPride portrays Jerusalem as the capital, but no one recognises that other than Israel; East Jerusalem is illegally annexed to Israel, and its quarter million Palestinian residents are besieged and oppressed, cut off from their neighbours in Ramallah and Bethlehem by the Apartheid Wall.
Mon, 7 Aug 2006
From the latest CounterPunch
It is finally time. After years of internal arguments, confusion, and dithering, the time has come for a full-fledged international boycott of Israel. Good cause for a boycott has, of course, been in place for decades, as a raft of initiatives already attests. But Israel's war crimes are now so shocking, its extremism so clear, the suffering so great, the UN so helpless, and the international community's need to contain Israel's behavior so urgent and compelling, that the time for global action has matured. A coordinated movement of divestment, sanctions, and boycotts against Israel must convene to contain not only Israel's aggressive acts and crimes against humanitarian law but also, as in South Africa, its founding racist logics that inspired and still drive the entire Palestinian problem. That second goal of the boycott campaign is indeed the primary one. Calls for a boycott have long cited specific crimes: Israel's continual attacks on Palestinian civilians; its casual disdain for the Palestinian civilian lives "accidentally" destroyed in its assassinations and bombings; its deliberate ruin of the Palestinians' economic and social conditions; its continuing annexation and dismemberment of Palestinian land; its torture of prisoners; its contempt for UN resolutions and international law; and especially, its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. But the boycott cannot target these practices alone. It must target their ideological source.
The following item was sent by Vivienne Porzsolt on 25 October 2006:
Yes to Boycott ? No to Nationalism!
Juliano Mer Khamis
My recent letter regarding the Palestinian filmmakers? boycott against Israeli artists and cultural events has been misinterpreted and misused by certain individuals and journalists to justify their own stand against the boycott. I would like to make myself clear.
I fully support the boycott, but I want to make a clear distinction between those we should boycott and those we shouldn?t, between who is a supporter and who is an oppressor. Instead of fearing the presence and cooperation of those Israelis who support us, we must encourage them to continue and intensify their struggle against the occupation.
We, the signatories, must not allow those who hypocritically call themselves supporters of the Palestinian cause to ride on our backs and indiscriminately boycott all Israeli artists as their ultimate means of struggling against Israel. Amongst us are Jews and Palestinians ? Muslims and Christians ? who hold an Israeli passport, but not out of choice. We live under the Israeli regime but we see ourselves as Palestinians.
I have been accused of being a hypocrite; of boycotting, while at the same time being active and performing in, Israeli theatres and cinemas. To my accusers I say: I have left the Israeli stage, television and cinema as a clear move towards disengaging myself from a society which has narrowed its cultural, political, economic and social activity down to means of oppression, discrimination and humiliation of the Palestinian people.
Through my letter I was hoping to call for an open debate to clarify our strategy and tactics, which this Intifada lacks the most ? not to gain sympathy and support for myself or for my film.
At this point I would like to take the opportunity to call upon my fellow artists and filmmakers to join us in the boycott against those Israeli cultural events and institutions which are supported by the government and which do not take a clear stand against the occupation. I would like to call upon you to join this boycott, which will hopefully expand from the purely artistic and cultural to the academic and financial levels.
The following two letters appeared in The Age, the first one on 23 October 2006 and the second on 24 October 2006.
It continues to be a fascinating topic to notice that the zionists, who live in Australia and cry foul when there is any criticism of Israel, LIVE IN AUSTRALIA and not in Israel, not in the West Bank in illegal Israeli settlements, not in Haifa or Tel Aviv or any other Israeli town or village, but in Melbourne, Sydney and other places around Australia.
The thought of actually presenting themselves to the frontline of combat to defend their "homeland" becomes anathema when they or their families might be put at risk.
How like Howard, Downer, Ruddock, Vanstone, Nelson and others when it comes to going themselves or sending members of their families to Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas where Australian imperialism sticks its nose in.
Robert Friedman gives his address to The Age as Melbourne. Maybe he is not aware that Israel illegally occupies the West Bank, has built an apartheid wall to separate the Palestinians from the illegal Israeli settlers, surrounds Gaza and tries to starve its inhabitants into submission or death and bombs them and buzzes them and kills their population on a daily basis. That Israel used illegal weapons of mass destruction in Lebanon, and that if Israel removed itself from these illegal occupations maybe peace could be achieved in Palestine and Israel.
An idle hope, given the territorial demands of Israel and its requirement of water to sustain its population and its endeavour to occupy ultimately the whole of Palestine!
Genocide no less, not dissimilar to the Nazi genocide practised against the Jews from 1933 to 1945, and by the USSR and other countries in Europe during many years of the 20th century.
Israel and apartheid South Africa? The parallels are many and continue to emerge on a daily basis.
NOW that Bush, Blair and Howard are finally expressing doubts about their frolic in Iraq, have they got the honesty to re-evaluate their other Middle East policies? Will they rethink their support for Israel's ongoing destruction of Palestinian civil society and the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations of statehood?
Israel's war against the Palestinians is just as illegitimate as the invasion of Iraq. Both wars are based on lies and deceptions. They both masquerade as wars against terror when, in reality, they are just old-fashioned, outdated, greedy colonial enterprises.
Shane McCartin, North Fitzroy
SHANE McCartin (Letters, 23/10) may not regard Israel's battle against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and friends as part of the war on terror, but the relatives of the more than 1000 Israelis who have been killed in suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks would beg to differ. Contrary to McCartin's claims, Israel has accepted the legitimacy of Palestinian aspirations for statehood. Sadly, every offer towards Palestinian statehood has been answered by Palestinian terrorism and now the Palestinians are governed by Hamas, a party dedicated to Israel's destruction.
Robert Friedman, Melbourne
VICTORIAN Liberal senator Michael Ronaldson's intention to lead an assault on SBS at the Senate estimates hearing in Parliament next week because it "lacks impartiality" in reporting political events — particularly those concerning Israel — is preposterous. That Senator Ronaldson's attack singles out Israel's war on Lebanon "as one of the most appalling examples of biased reporting" ( The Sunday Age, 22/10) raises the question: what didn't the senator want the SBS to show?
Nothing in the past 60 years has so exposed Israel to the world as its illegal invasion of Lebanon. There was absolutely no mistaking the viciousness of Israel's attack. For a full month, the world watched Israel decimate Lebanon as it unleashed its military might on this fledgling democracy, sparing nothing and no one. Long used to carefully controlled media reports about Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, the world was finally shocked into seeing the reality of Israel's naked aggression on a neighbouring country that no amount of public relations could repair. Israel is in damage control and we are seeing the effects of this now in Australia with the attempts to muzzle our media.
What is most perturbing is that Israel has not stopped its acts inside Palestine. They began weeks before the war on Lebanon and have continued unabated since. But unlike Lebanon, the Palestinians are not receiving front page headlines or graphic footage on our television screens. Israel has far more control over what it allows journalists to film and report there than in Lebanon.
This means journalists must go to extreme and dangerous lengths to report and film the atrocities that Israel is committing. SBS attempted this in one commendable documentary on Gaza by Thom Cookes that, unfortunately, has not been repeated. In fact, coverage of Israel's ongoing war on Gaza in the media is practically nonexistent.
Senator Ronaldson's attempt to stop SBS from presenting a broad spectrum of current affairs to the Australian public infringes our right to know and our right to make up our own minds on what is biased and/or balanced. I suggest that his intention is not to bring balance into SBS reporting, but to stop any reporting of Israel's attacks on the Palestinians.
This latest drive to control coverage of what is happening overseas, particularly in the Middle East, is designed to keep Australians apathetic through ignorance. It seems our Government would prefer Australians to be politically uninformed rather than rock the boat with their normally healthy scepticism about events that just don't add up.
We would expect some probing questions to be asked of Israel, just as questions ought to be asked of the Palestinians. But we do not expect a senator to lead an attack on a public broadcaster for presenting news and commentaries that give an alternative view — or the only view of a humanitarian crisis happening in Palestine now.Sonja Karkar, Australians for Palestine, Hawthorn East
Philip Mendes writes in arena magazine No. 85 (October-November 2006) about Antony Loewenstein's book, 'My Israel Question", that his contribution in arena No.84 "is merely a revised extract from his problematic book (my emphasis), and has already been critiqued by myself in the Sydney Morning Herald and New Matilda".
He later goes on to state, "John Hinkson's editorial is even worse given that they may be interpreted as representing an official Arena view in favour of one national group at the expense of the other. He suggests on two occasions that Israel's existence is at best questionable, although at least he doesn't specifically endorse the so-called 'one-state solution."
Mendes writes in response to three articles in Arena No 84:
Some strange comments from Mendes, the first being that Loewenstein's contribution is 'merely a revised extract from his problematic book.'
At the end of Loewenstein's contribution is the following statement: "This is an edited extract from Antony Loewenstein's recent book, My Israel Question, published by Melbourne University Press, 2006".
Mendes does not explain why Loewenstein's book is problematic. He may have stated his reasons in his reviews of the book, but that is in another forum elsewhere, so we are left in the dark about his assertion here.
Then he attacks Jeremy Salt because he has been an open pro-Palestinian advocate for more than three decades. This is a crime? He goes on to say that Salt's analysis "completely ignores the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-way process involving 58 years of violence and extremism from both sides". This is a remarkable admission from someone who is still so dedicated to the zionist dream, but forgets to state that the conflict was begun because the Palestinian country was stolen from them because there was still the world Holocaust guilt which allowed the formation of a "Jewish" state for all displaced Jews to be able to turn to and live in at the first signs of trouble in the countries in which they resided.
The foreseen consequences have been the wars between conflicting residential claims over the same piece of land.
The next attack on John Hinkson gets even worse. Mendes states that Hinkson's views "may be interpreted as representing an official Arena view in favour of one national group at the expense of the other". He further states: "He suggests on two occasions that Israel's existence is at best questionable, although at least he doesn't specifically endorse the so-called 'one-state solution'.
Now there seems to be some problem about an editor of a journal expressing views on a particular topic which could be interpreted as "representing an official Arena view". In an analytical piece by a member of the editorial staff of the journal there is no law laid down which states that editorial views should be independent and unbiased. Is Mendes trying to force a federal government-style "balanced by both sides of the argument" view on a magazine which does not need to draw on that government's attacks on the independent views of the ABC, for example? If so, he is also losing the plot, much as the government has done.
One thing needs to be clearly stated, and needs to be stated loud and clear: There is no possibility of a two-state solution with Israel having built a dividing apartheid-style Berlin wall stealing even more Palestinian land to add to that of the settlements which effectively divide the West bank into unviable bantustans following the South African apartheid-style model. The Palestinians have been imprisoned in a giant concentration camp and will not be content just to quietly starve to death.
The one-state solution, which will be a difficult compromise for the whole world to make, is ultimately the only one which will bring peace and stability to the region as well as to many parts of the Middle East and the world. It is a solution which to the Israelis and Palestinians, to say nothing of the USA and the UK, is unthinkable at the moment. With leaders like Bush and Blair, the concept of a solution to Israel-Palestine is unthinkable while they are able to keep Israel armed to the teeth so that it can obliterate states like Lebanon which appear to harbour threats to the interests of Israel and the US and UK in the form of Hizbollah.
Ultimately there will be no choice. Virginia Tilley has written a definitive analysis of the situation, and she spares no one in her conclusions. The book is called "The One-State Solution - A breakthrough for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock" published by Manchester University Press 2005.
Mendes may or may not have read the book, but his tinkering at the edges of the argument as to how the Arabs need to respond is fudging what the conflict is all about. What Arabs? The land is Palestinian, was Palestinian, and will continue to be Palestinian unless Israel does the unthinkable and expels all residents of the occupied territories and Gaza and fills those areas with diaspora Jews. This is known as ethnic cleansing and Israel has shown it is not averse to try this solution.
One of the questions needing answering in this regard is why people like Mendes don't live in Israel? More than half the world's Jewish population do not live in Israel, and don't seem very keen to uproot themselves from their safe homes to go and live in Israel. After all, the Jewish law of return gives them that right - why not use it?
In the summer 2006 edition of Overland magazine (185), Mendes continues with his strange complaint about Antony Loewnstein's book in the correspondence columns where he writes: "Ned Curthoy's uncritical review of Antony Loewenstein's problematic text (my emphasis) My Israel Question (Overland 184) is predictable given his own long-standing animus towards Israel's existence."
I am at a loss to understand where Mendes is coming from. It seems his basic premise is that no one has any right to criticise Israel, no matter how appallingly that country behaves towards its neighbours. Mendes is complaining about the call for a "cultural, economic and academic boycott" of Israel by Ned Curthoys in his review of Loewenstein's book in Overland 184. The calls for boycotts have had varied success when applied to several countries over the years, but one of the most successful boycotts was that instituted against the brutal and savage apartheid regime in South Africa. The boycott was so successful in the end that it forced the white regime to seek compromise with the black majority to ensure that South Africa did not collapse economically as it was on the verge of doing, because of divestment and other successful boycotts instituted over the years.
If the same sorts of boycotts are instituted against Israel, Israel will ultimately suffer economically unless the USA continues to support it as it has done for so many years already.
Under these circumstances boycotts may take longer to succeed, but it will become apparent to the US administration that ultimately the world will no longer tolerate Israeli attempts to ethnically cleanse the whole of Palestine of Palestinians who threaten the survival of the zionist state.
A part of Ned Curthoys response to Mendes letter follows:
"My writings in favour of a boycott reflect growing international and indeed Israeli concern with Israel's continuing military occupation of Palestinian lands, an occupation that Mendes tries to imagine away with the force of his ersatz outrage. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a veteran of the anti-apartheid movement, has supported boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel; the British filmmaker Ken Loach recently withdrew from a film festival in Israel in support of Palestinian human rights; while in the United States a coalition of students, professors, and other employees at the University of California and at Harvard University have called for an end to university investment in Israel, in an effort to "pressure Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people"."
A growing number of people around the world are seeing the zionist state of Israel for what it really is and what it is trying to do in respect to the people who are living there, and more and more they are saying "enough is enough". Israel has long ago lost the "sympathy" support it received for so many years because of the circumstances of the Holocaust. Israel is still trying to trade on that disaster, but it no longer works.
Back to the drawing board and start again - if that is possible at this very late stage!
By Haaretz Editorial
Last Tuesday, Doaa Abd al-Qadr, 14, left her home near Tul Karm and walked toward the separation fence. It was a spring day, her mother says, and she decided to visit relatives, Israeli Arabs who live on the other side. Doaa and a 12-year-old friend were walking in a ditch on the Palestinian side, about 100 meters from the fence, when Israel Defense Force soldiers spotted them and fired warning shots - as far as is known. When the two girls came out of the ditch, an IDF marksman fired another shot. Doaa Abd al-Qadr died on the way to the hospital.
The IDF responded harshly to the firing against orders; the marksman and his commander were suspended, and a military police investigation started. Urgency, however, did not typify the subsequent treatment of the mourning family. The custom of callousness to the suffering of the Palestinians is ingrained so deeply in the Israeli establishment that there was no basic human sensitivity that would have made it possible to treat the mourners in a manner concomitant with their suffering and with our guilt.
When it became clear that Doaa's father had been held for two months in the Abu Kabir lockup for entering Israel without a permit, his lawyer requested that he be released to attend his daughter's funeral. Although no one claimed that the father, Nasser Abd al-Qadr, was involved in terror activities or that his early release would harm the security of the state, the courts, in three instances, were not persuaded that it would be possible, beyond the letter of the law, to allow a man who had lost his daughter due to an IDF mistake to take part in mourning her death. For three days of excruciatingly complicated and unnecessary legal procedures, the father remained incarcerated. Concern that Abd al-Qadr, who was suspected of stealing a car, would not return from his mourning to prison, hardened the hearts of the judges.
On Wednesday, half an hour before the funeral, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Zvi Gurfinkel said that the request to release the father had been submitted late and to the wrong court, and therefore rejected it. He did propose that a representative of the Prisons Authority escort the father to and from the funeral, but ignored the fact that the father was a resident of the territories and there was no one who could escort him to Tul Karm. On Thursday, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Noga Ohad refused to release the father, and High Court Justice Asher Grunis set another hearing for the following week, after the end of the mourning period. If attorney Rami Otman had not insisted on once more approaching the State Prosecutor's Office, and if MKs Zahava Gal-On and Ahmed Tibi had not agreed to sign a guarantee, the father would not have managed to get to the mourners' tent. On Friday evening, in a patrol car whose windows were blackened so the media would not, perish the thought, take advantage of the opportunity to talk to him, the father was released on bail at the Taibeh roadblock.
It is impossible to attribute the chain of callousness described above to this or that individual or even to this or that institution, but only to point out an ongoing process of brutalization with regard to the Palestinian person: the person who seeks a livelihood, the person in pain over his daughter, killed by our forces' fire, the one for whom even natural human empathy with his mourning is no longer natural to us.
The following article, from the Saturday 17 February 2007 edition of The Age, would be hilariously laughable if it weren't also so tragic - a pathetic attempt by all the racists to get some extremist views across, so it backfires - one in the eye for the Australian Jewish News - sorry, the Israel zionist times - and also for the Shalom College of the University of New South Wales, as well as the AIJAC! As we sow, so shall we reap!!
Other related coverage: Academic's warning on Muslims causes stir
A prominent Jewish lobby group has withdrawn support for an Israeli academic who warned that Muslim populations could place countries including Australia at risk of violence.
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council yesterday announced it had cancelled plans to co-host public appearances by Professor Raphael Israeli, including events in Melbourne next month."AIJAC is very concerned by Professor Israeli's implication that the Muslim community as a whole is a threat or a danger," the council's executive director, Colin Rubenstein, said. "His comments are both unacceptable and unhelpful and AIJAC cannot be associated with them."
Professor Israeli, from Jerusalem's Hebrew University, told The Age this week that problems could arise in Western nations when their Muslim population reached a critical mass — such as about 10 per cent in France.
However, he said an Australian Jewish News article that quoted him as saying Australia should put a cap on Muslim immigration or face being swamped by Indonesians had "corrupted" his words.
"I didn't come here to lecture Australians, I came here to lecture on the Middle East," he said. Asked about the cancellation of his public appearances, he said: "I didn't ask to go to these engagements. I was asked to take them, and now I have been asked to cancel them."
Sydney's Shalom Institute, which brought Professor Israeli to Australia to teach an Islamic history course, said it supported the professor's right to make observations. "For these comments to be distorted into what Australia ought to do is a gross misrepresentation," institute director Peta Pellach said.
Muslim leaders have described the academic's views as extreme.
We are Jews of diverse opinions on the Middle East who share a deep concern about the current crisis in the region.
We are committed to ensuring a just peace that recognizes the legitimate national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians with a solution that protects the human rights of all.
We condemn violence by all parties, whether state sanctioned or not. We believe that Israel’s right to exist must be recognized and that Palestinians’ right to a homeland must also be acknowledged.
As Australians we are privileged to live in a democratic state that embodies the principles of tolerance and free speech. We feel there is an urgent need to hear alternative voices that should not be silenced by being labelled disloyal or “self-hating.”
Uncritical allegiance to Israeli government policy does not necessarily serve Israel’s best interests. Our concern for justice and peace in the Middle East is a legitimate opinion and should be met by reasoned argument rather than vilification and intimidation. In particular, we are concerned that the Jewish establishment does not represent the full range of Jewish opinion. Contrary to widespread concerns, anti-Semitism is not fuelled by Jews who publicly disagree with actions of the Jewish State.
Jews understand what it is to suffer racism and victimization and therefore we are not only concerned about anti-Semitism but also the demonisation of all other minorities.
We call upon fellow Jews to join us in supporting free debate to further the prospects of peace, security and human rights in the Middle East.
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By Alan Cowell (in the International Herald Tribune and New York Times)
Monday, April 16, 2007
LONDON: Britain's biggest journalists' union, The National Union of Journalists, has criticized Israel's "military adventures" and has voted narrowly in favor of a boycott of Israeli goods. The vote followed calls by some British academics last year to ostracize their Israeli counterparts.
At the annual delegates meeting of the journalists' union last Friday, a vote calling for "a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid in South Africa" was approved 66 to 54.
The delegates also urged Britain and the United Nations to impose sanctions on Israel.
The union has about 40,000 members, represented at the annual meeting by about 150 delegates from more than 60 branches.
The ballot did not, however, make calls for a boycott of contacts with Israeli journalists similar to previous academic efforts to ostracize Israeli university teachers.
The call for a boycott was initially part of a broader condemnation of what the union called Israel's "slaughter of civilians" in Gaza and "savage pre-planned attack" last year on Lebanon, but the boycott was voted on separately. The condemnation of Israeli military action in Gaza and Lebanon was approved by a wider margin.
In the debate leading to the vote, some delegates argued that a call for a boycott would not help British journalists do their job in Israel. Others argued that it was not the job of a journalists' union to get so involved in such issues.
The timing of the ballot was particularly delicate because a BBC journalist, Alan Johnston, has been held for more than a month in Gaza, making the boycott call seem one-sided. A Palestinian group claimed Sunday to have killed Johnston but the BBC said it was treating the report as a rumor.
"We had a whole separate section of the conference" devoted to Johnston's plight, said Jeremy Dear, the union's general secretary.
According to the union's Web site, www.nuj.org.uk, the delegates voted unanimously to "keep up the urgent global campaign for Alan's release" and criticized the Palestinian authorities for failing "to carry out their promises to do all they can to free Alan."
Dear said there had been "some feedback," primarily from unidentified e-mail correspondents in the United States, saying Johnston "should be put in a concentration camp" or tried for hate crimes.
He said those who supported a boycott had argued that while the union represented journalists, it still had a duty to uphold things "that are in our constitution" concerning human rights.
On the union's conference blog, however, a critic of the vote, identified as Olivia Lang, said, "It is not going to make life easier for journalists anywhere in the world" to be seen to be taking sides. "We need to strive to maintain our objectivity when reporting," she wrote.
The vote stirred little immediate comment in Britain, however. Jonathan Freedland, a columnist for The Guardian and The Evening Standard, who said he is a member of the National Union of Journalists, took issue in a telephone interview with the union's decision, saying it made no distinction between Israel itself and Israeli settlements in occupied territories. "This punishes Israel proper along with settlers as if the two were the same," he said.
Moreover, he said, "as a tactic, it strikes a raw nerve in the Jewish psyche.""You won't win over the Jewish diaspora" with such boycott calls, he said. Last year, the largest British association of university teachers voted to encourage individual academics in Britain to sever professional contact with their counterparts in Israel. That vote echoed an appeal one year earlier by a smaller association, which first demanded a boycott of two Israeli universities and then withdrew the call under pressure from some of its members. The two associations later merged and the policy lapsed, said Trevor Phillips, a spokesman for the combined association. It will be discussed again next month, he said.
Antony Loewenstein comments:
"Predictably, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has reacted with typical fury, but they shouldn’t be surprised. The union will be accused of anti-Semitism, lacking objectivity, bias, anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred. The reality, of course, is far different.
Israel’s consistent refusal, like apartheid South Africa, to cease oppressing the indigenous communities, has forced the hand of a growing number of major Western groups. They are dedicated to a just Israel, and only international pressure may ensure this will happen."
Photo not available of UCU delegates voting Wednesday in Bournemouth to support a call by Palestinian trade unions for a boycott on Israeli academe. (Brandon Kelly)
By Haaretz Staff
Cabinet minister Yitzhak Herzog, responsible for the government's handling of issues related to anti-Semitism, denounced Thursday as "scandalous, discriminatory and one-sided" a decision by a British lecturers' union to promote a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, in protest at Israel's policy on the Palestinians.
The vote was passed by 158 votes to 99 at the University and College Union (UCU) conference in Bournemouth on Wednesday.
Herzog has spoken with British Ambassdor to Israel Tom Phillips to convey Israel's condemnation of the move.
It is especially troubling, Herzog told Israel Radio, that "the decision was taken in a nation which is considered friendly to Israel."
The decision "necessates soul-searching on that part of all citizens of Britain," he said.
The motion passed Wednesday says that the UCU will present the question of a boycott on Israel's academics for discussion by all its members. According to the motion, congress much send "the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches for information and discussion."
Among the amendments added to the proposal and approved by the union was a clause pledging the group to campaign for "a moratorium on research and cultural collaborations with Israel via EU and European Science Foundation funding until Israel abides by UN resolutions."
The discussions are scheduled to take place over the next 12 months. The motion encouraged union members to "consider the moral implications of conducting ties with Israeli academic institutions."
The vote was preceded by a heated discussion in which Israel was repeatedly referred to as an apartheid state, engaging in crimes against humanity in the Palestinian territories. The union representatives said the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip did not allow spectators to stand idly by.
As part of the motion, the congress will disseminate Palestinian trade unions' request for a boycott against Israel in all the union's offices.
The congress also said it would arrange for academics from the Palestinian Authority to attend delegations to the U.K. The union's representatives also decided to establish direct contact with Palestinian workers' organizations.
Ronnie Fraser, who heads the British group "Academic Friends of Israel," said that "the vote proved that nothing has changed within the ranks of the U.K.'s academic unions. This is another boycott."
In 2005, Fraser acted to overturn another boycott against Israel, which had been approved by the Association of University Teachers (AUT.) That decision was overturned a month after it was passed. In 2006, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) also moved to boycott Israel, but its decision became invalid shortly thereafter when NATFHE and AUT merged to form the UCU.
After the vote, the head of the UCU, Sally Hunt, reiterated her opposition to the motion.
'As I have made clear in the past, and as I reiterated on the floor of congress this morning, I do not believe a boycott is supported by the majority of UCU members, nor do I believe that members see it is a priority for the union," she said in a statement on the UCU Web site.
She said, however, that the 120,000 members of the union would now have a chance to express their opinions on a boycott, a move that she said she supported.
"Today's motion... means all branches now have a responsibility to consulate all of their members on the issue and I believe that every member should have the opportunity to have their say. The earlier motion means that any future calls for a boycott must pass key tests before a boycott can implemented."
Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdon Zvi Hefetz called the resolution offensive to the British Jewish community, saying that, "Its slanted phrasing reeks of ignorance."
Adrian Fronda, a senior mathematics lecturer who had joined the union solely to vote against the boycott, was less diplomatic. "I came here to oppose the prevalent anti-Semitism we see all around us here," he said.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir condemned the union's decision, saying she would address British Education Secretary Alan Johnson on the matter.
Photo at beginning of article not available of South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils speaking with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. (AP)
By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent
South Africa's largest trade union federation will launch a campaign against "the Israeli occupation of Arab lands" this week, demanding that Pretoria impose a boycott on all Israeli goods and break diplomatic relations. South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, who is Jewish, told Haaretz that he actively supported the initiative - which contradicts the policy of his own cabinet.
The president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Willy Madisha, announced the launching of the campaign last week in Johannesburg, calling on the government to cease all diplomatic relations with Israel after its attacks on Palestinian leaders.
"The best way to have Israel comply with United Nations resolutions is to pressure it by a diplomatic boycott such as the one imposed on apartheid South Africa," Madisha said. Cosatu belongs to a recently-formed coalition of organizations operating under the banner "End The Occupation."
Kasrils' anti-Israeli organization Not In My Name belongs to the coalition working toward an embargo on Israel. This runs contrary to South Africa's official stance, and to President Thabo Mbeki's decision to strengthen trade ties with Israel. Mbeki, who heads the ANC ruling party, even appeared as a guest at Israel's Independence Day celebrations in Durban last month.
Kasrils, a member of the ANC, told Haaretz that his support for severing all ties with Israel was not in opposition to his cabinet's policy. "Cosatu is an ANC ally in the coalition against the Israeli occupation. Most elements of this coalition call for boycotting Israel, although the ANC does not," he said.
"We respect their right to encourage people to boycott Israeli goods. As a South African consumer I personally will not purchase Israeli goods until Israel changes its present policy regarding the Palestinians."
Cosatu's spokesman, Patrick Craven, said Kasrils was involved in directing the campaign for imposing a political and economic embargo on Israel. "This is intended to include the diamond trade," he added.
Craven acknowledged that his organization's primary objectives did not pertain to the Middle East, noting that while Cosatu's main goal was improving the material conditions of its 1.8 million members, "it could not stand idly by as Israel perpetrated atrocities in Palestine." Adding that he anticipated "some short-term damage" to South Africa's economy following the boycott, Carven said the damage was "vastly outweighed by the importance of stopping injustice."
The campaign that Cosatu has helped mount will begin Friday, with sermons in South Africa's mosques on "the plight of the Palestinian people". The Christian organizations of the coalition will begin addressing the issue in churches Sunday.
The organizers intend to picket across South Africa next week, including a picket by members of parliament and a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg. The ANC ruling party has called for a parliamentary debate on "Israeli occupation."
Campaign activists will also hold pickets outside selected stores selling Israeli goods. The events will culminate in mass marches and rallies on Saturday, June 9, both in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
This item was sent to me by Harry Feldman and features on his blog pages Bureau of Counterpropaganda - the link is given below the article:
As reported on Jew sans frontičres, lenin’s tomb, Ha’aretz, and everywhere, Britain’s University and College Union (UCU) voted by a large margin yesterday to submit ‘the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches for information and discussion'. That would be the call for the academic boycott of Israeli universities by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
While this is of course a very welcome step towards the isolation of Israel, as I wrote in December, although I have reservations about sanctions, and an academic boycott in particular, as a tactic, the call by Palestinian unions and academics for it trumps my reservations.
One of the strongest arguments I’ve encountered in support of the boycott is the self serving hypocrisy of those who bleat about infringing academic freedom for Israelis while issuing not so much as a peep against the almost total eradication of academic activity of any kind in Palestine, both for Palestinian academics and students and for anyone wanting to do research in the Occupied Territories.
In this connection, Dr Rima Merriman of Arab American University in Jenin writes of a student who had applied for a Paths to Peace scholarship to attend NYU for a year. There were six scholarships offered, three for Israeli students and three for Gaza and WB students. Over fifty applications were submitted and our student was shortlisted and invited to an interview....in Jerusalem…But how to get to Jerusalem? [Palestinians require permits to enter Israel, not readily obtainable] He called the coordinator of the scholarship, a Professor Zweig, and said he needed a letter to submit to the Israeli military post at Salem here in Jenin in order to get a permit. He submitted his request and was told he would get a permit, but when the Israeli official called him in for an interview, he was bluntly told that the price of the permit was to "cooperate" - i.e., inform on the people around him in his village or on campus, etc. He ended up not getting a permit…Not only that, any hope of his ever getting to the US is probably non-existent now, because the visa computers of the US consulate are apparently on the same network as Israeli so-called "intelligence" networks - no questions asked. In fact, one of the rationales used by Professor Zweig for NOT conducting the interviews in Ramallah is that a. Israeli students wouldn't have been able to get to them, and b. if our student couldn't get to Jerusalem, he wouldn't be able to get a visa to the US and that would be that. Apologetically, he explained that this brick road to peace he is coordinating has nothing to do with politics!... I hasten to recall that a much more extensive and broadly supported boycott of apartheid South Africa was first called in 1959. Even though the Black population comprised an 80% majority in South Africa, while the populations of Palestinians and Jews within historic Palestine is currently about even; even though the South African economy depended crucially on Black labour while the Israeli economy was founded on ‘Hebrew labour’ and has been conscientiously reducing Palestinian labour in Israel and the settlements since 1999; even though Black South Africans had a strong union movement and an armed insurgency and didn’t have to contend with anything resembling Holocaust guilt, it still took 35 years before those sanctions achieved the end of apartheid. So don’t hold your breath.
[Thanks to Tony Greenstein for the Paths to Peace story.]In solidarity,
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The following article appeared in The Age newspaper on 14 July 2007, and indicates that the boycott Israel movement is growing, slowly, but growing, and one day Israel will have to confront its reality when disaster looms and there is no other alternative but to make the compromises which, up till now it has stubbornly refused to make:
THE Dutch Government has warned a Rotterdam company to stop supplying construction equipment for Israel's 700-kilometre Palestinian separation barrier, a new turn in the international campaign to boycott Israel.
According to news reports, the Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen, recently told the company that its contract to supply cranes was "undesirable", in light of the International Court of Justice's ruling, three years ago this month, that the project broke international law.
This warning, from a government normally considered friendly to Israel, comes amid a mounting international campaign to boycott Israel because of its occupation of Arab territories seized 40 years ago.
This week the US Congress unanimously passed a resolution condemning as "anti-Semitic" the proposed boycott of Israel by a British academics' union.
"When Israel comes under attack from hatemongers, it is American values that are also under attack," the resolution's main sponsor, Congressman Patrick Murphy, said.
Last week, the British Transport and General Workers Union joined Unison, Britain's largest union with 1.3 million members, in voting for a boycott of Israeli goods and sporting contacts, similar to that imposed on apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.
In South Africa, the trade union congress COSATU is spearheading its own campaign. In the US, the family of the slain peace activist Rachel Corrie this week revived attempts to sue the huge Caterpillar Corporation for supplying the Israeli army with the armoured bulldozer that crushed their daughter in Gaza in March 2003.
The calls for boycotts and divestment have so far had no practical impact on Israeli trade, academia or policies, but they have sparked a bitter counter-campaign from Israel and its supporters abroad.
The Israeli Government says it is ludicrous for foreign journalists or academics to seek to boycott the only country in the Middle East with a free press and academic freedom. It asks why Israel is singled out before regimes such as those of Sudan, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, said: "It makes it look like there's an agenda there that hasn't been stated openly. The same people will justify suicide bombing, all too often."
Bernard Sabella, a Palestinian MP, contrasts Israel's opposition to sanctions with its own imposition of an economic blockade on Gaza. But he is ambivalent about an academic boycott.
"You have hundreds of Israeli academics who are outspoken against the occupation and thousands who aren't," Dr Sabella said. "I see the call more as a kind of challenge to Israeli academics … to take a position that will advance the peace process."
The article below, and the letters which follow, appeared in The Age newspaper on 11, 12 and 13 October 2007. The people who wrote with the usual zionist perspective give their addresses in the paper as Rushcutters Bay NSW, Malvern, Vic. and Greensborough, Vic. I have said it before, and I say it again, these people live in Australia, and not in Israel. If they are so concerned about the survival of Israel in its present form, surely it is incumbent upon them to go and help defend that country in order to secure the future for it which they write about in their letters. In the case of Israel I believe it is incumbent upon them to put up or shut up!
The peace process has been just that - a process with no real outcomes.
EVERYONE wants to see "peace" between Israel and the Arabs. It has now dawned on most people that the terrorist attacks on America and Europe, the al-Qaeda rhetoric about the suffering of fellow Muslims, and the instability in the Middle East are connected with the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The previous British prime minister, Tony Blair, realised this truth while still in office. In his new post as Middle East envoy for the Quartet (the European Union, Russia, the US and the UN), he has put peacemaking in Israel/Palestine at the top of his agenda. The vehicle for this, so beloved of Western policy makers, is the "peace process", a bland term that suggests something is being done while absolving the major players of any responsibility for real thought or action.
The peace process began in 1993 with the Oslo Agreement drawn up between then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The agreement was supposed to eventually resolve the conflict through stages, ending implicitly in the creation of a Palestinian state. Instead, it initiated years of broken agreements and interminable negotiations, all called "the peace process", and ended in 2000 with the second intifada and the current crisis.
No attempt was made to confront the causes for Oslo's failure, and more peace proposals followed. The Tenet plan and then the Mitchell Report came and went, and in 2002 the "road map" was devised. This called for phased and monitored peace moves between Israel and the Palestinians towards a settlement, supervised by the Quartet, and whose end would be a Palestinian state by 2005. But this also floundered.
A US-inspired international peace conference, planned for next month, is the latest attempt to revive the "peace process". It will bring Israelis, Palestinians and several Arab states together in Washington to endorse a "statement of principles" between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
No negotiations are anticipated, since the parties are expected to have drawn up an agreement before the meeting.
The Arab states, which are reluctant to attend without an agreed agenda, are under US pressure to do so, but may not come. On the face of it, this initiative is more doomed than those before it. Olmert and Abbas are weak leaders with little popular support. Worse still, Abbas represents only one side of the split between Fatah, his party, and Hamas in Gaza. The latter is thus automatically excluded from any deal agreed to at the Washington meeting.
All these manoeuvrings are ostensibly about solving the conflict. But in reality, they substitute process for substance. Finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the problem. The parameters have been clear for decades: Israel's withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territories, the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return of refugees. These are also the components of the 2002 Saudi plan and offer Israel full normalisation of relations with the Arab states in exchange.
The plan is in line with international law and has the support of the Western powers. Yet it has no chance of succeeding, nor has any other peace proposal not to Israel's liking. And that is the nub of the problem. Israel, which ceaselessly professes its desire for peace, has never initiated a peace proposal of its own and has prevaricated when offered one. By postponing a settlement indefinitely, it has sought to gain time to colonise more Palestinian land, making that colonisation irreversible. This ploy has succeeded marvellously.
Today, Israel controls 46 per cent of the West Bank and the whole of Jerusalem. By building its barrier wall on West Bank territory, it has annexed the best Palestinian agricultural land and 80 per cent of its water to the Israeli side of the wall.
It dominates every aspect of Palestinian life, which it has transformed into a living hell through checkpoints and closures, arbitrary arrests, collective punishments, house demolitions and a vicious economic siege.
The dire effects of this regime have all been documented by the World Bank and various aid organisations. Yet this abuse of human rights, condemned by every international agency and legal body, even by some Israelis, continues unchecked.
A real peace process would have started here. By forcing Israel to accept that peace involves giving, not just taking, a proper settlement could begin to emerge. America, which could have made a difference, is hamstrung by its domestic subservience to the Israel lobby, and the EU seems incapable of extricating itself from US policy.
So what will happen? Only three outcomes are possible: doing nothing (the current position), moving towards a two-state solution or creating one common state.
Leaving the status quo to fester will lead to more desperate acts of violence and more dangerous instability. Israel's colonisation has left the Palestinians with enclaves of land, separated by Jews-only roads and "security areas", cut off from each other and from Gaza, making the two-state solution as previously envisaged beyond reach.
Linking the Palestinian enclaves to Jordan in a confederation is under consideration as the only way to preserve a semblance of a Palestinian state, but it is far from agreed on. That leaves the one-state option, rejected out of hand by Israel and its supporters, and viewed as hopelessly utopian by many others. And yet, it is the only one of the three that offers any hope of a lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians and, by extension, everyone else.
But while power lies with Israel and its supporters, all solutions that Israel rejects will be pipe dreams.
Ghada Karmi is a Palestinian academic at the University of Exeter, Britain, and the author of Married to another man: Israel's dilemma in Palestine. She will give a public lecture at 6.30pm today (Thursday 11 October 2007) at the Copeland Theatre, Melbourne University.
Letter No. 1
GEORGE Greenberg repeats the myth of Israel's supposed "generous offer" at Camp David in 2000 (Letters, 12/10). Israel's best offer at Camp David gave the Palestinians all of Gaza and eventual control of 91 per cent of the West Bank with minimal Israeli land as compensation. As Israel wanted to maintain control of the Jordan Valley for up to 20 years, Israel in effect offered the Palestinians immediate control of only 81 per cent of the West Bank. Also, the Israelis were to retain a sliver of land connecting Israel to the Jordan Valley, which effectively split the West Bank in two.
Furthermore, what Israel offered did not even amount to a "state" because it intended to retain control over the borders, air space and water resources of the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians were perfectly entitled to reject this offer.
In contrast, the Palestinians at Camp David conceded 78 per cent of Palestine (pre-1967 Israel) to the Israelis, accepted the incorporation into Israel of the main West Bank Jewish settlements in return for a corresponding area of land in Israel, and demanded only a token return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. If anyone rejected a generous offer at Camp David it was the Israelis.
Letter No. 2
PEACE in the Middle East, like any agreement, requires two partners. The parameters listed by Ghada Karmi (Opinion, 11/10) required to solve the Israel-Arab conflict are ridiculously one-sided. Karmi reproaches Israel for failing to adhere to these parameters and labels this as the roadblock to peace. But what about the Palestinian side of the deal? No mention is made of any obligation for them to accept the right of Israel to exist, to renounce terrorist attacks or to root out and stop terrorist activities. Contrary to Karmi's assertion, Israel does want peace, but it is very difficult to go anywhere with this when Israel's very existence is under constant threat. The peace plans Karmi describes as not to Israel's liking are those that make Israel's continuing existence untenable.
Further, the implication that the Arabs are the only ones offering peace is unfounded. Israel has put forward many proposals for peace that the Palestinian leadership has rejected.
Letter No. 3
GHADA Karmi (Opinion, 11/10) claims that "the terrorist attacks on America and Europe, the al-Qaeda rhetoric about the suffering of fellow Muslims, and the instability in the Middle East are connected with the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict". This doesn't explain why many more Muslims are killed by other Muslims than by Israel, or why non-Muslims are being oppressed and killed in areas (both in the Middle East and worldwide) where there is not a single Israeli or American on whom to pin the blame.
The biggest roadblock to peace is apologists for Islamist terrorism trying to blame everybody else for the mess the Arab world has become as a result of corrupt leaders, Islamist death-worship and pure hatred.
Letter No. 4
IN SOME ways, Ghada Karmi has done a favour for those of us who care about Middle East peace. She has shown how difficult it will be for Israel to achieve peace when a supposedly reasonable academic like herself demands, as the price of peace, that Israel cease to exist as a Jewish state.
She claims Israel "has never initiated a peace proposal of its own". At Camp David in 2000, Israel offered a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and most of the West Bank, with Israeli land in compensation for the rest, and a capital in East Jerusalem. Karmi clearly doesn't regard this as a peace proposal. Both her options, a "right of return" for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and her preferred one-state solution, would mean Israel's Jews becoming a minority in their own country. That's not peace; it's national suicide, to which no country would ever agree.
(This was in an email received on 21 April 2008 and is an extension of issues on Israel/Palestine about which I have been writing in earlier blogs.)
I was in Hebron in 1984. The only point in mentioning this is because in 1984, Hebron was still a complete Arab city, despite the presence of a settler colony on its outskirts and the penetration of the city centre by a small number of the followers of Rabbi Moshe Levinger. The Ibrahimi Mosque had also been taken over and divided into two, one part for Muslim worshippers and one part for Jews. But despite these disturbing signs of what was to come, Hebron was still an integrated Palestinian Arab city.
Just before we (me and my children) arrived, the central bus station had been taken over, closed down and converted into a military outpost, sandbagged and was teeming with soldiers, following a ‘terrorist’ attack. But the souk, the central market, was still ancient. Ancient - it was what travel writers would no doubt describe as a maze of colorful lanes, packed with buyers and sellers, a lot of noise and the smell of spices and cooking food. We dropped in to see Mustafa Natshe, then the mayor, an extraordinarily hospitable man. We simply knocked at the front door and his wife let us in so I could talk to her husband about the besieged state of his city.
Since then, and especially since Yasser Arafat agreed to the creation of a Jewish enclave inside Hebron in the late 1990s, the city has been subjected to a form of state-sanctioned racism that can only be called urbanicide. It is slowly being put to death, strangled as a living organism in the place of which another one will gradually arise. The market has been closed down for reasons of ‘security’. In its place stands a ghost market, whose shuttered doors and lanes, empty apart from patrolling Israeli soldiers, are the only reminders of what was there in the past. There were 1400 shops in the market. Hundreds of families lived around it. They and the shopowners have all gone, driven out in the same name of ‘security’. Their houses have been vandalized by settlers coming down from the heights at night so that they can never return.
About 35,000 people lived in this part of Hebron. Most of them – some 25,000 – have now gone. They have not left voluntarily. They have been driven out by the unrelenting pressure of settlers protected by Israeli soldiers. The soldiers are there at the orders of the state. It is the state that wants Arab Hebron put to death and the settlers are the blunt weapon being utilized behind the official mask of concern at settler excesses to get the job done. The Israelis hate it when they are compared to Nazis but there is no other parallel for the settlers of Hebron. They abuse the Arabs as a matter of course. They scrawl graffiti on the walls. ‘Death to the Arabs’.’Gas the Arabs’. ‘Arabs out’. In a somewhat different context, haven’t we seen or heard all this before?
They beat and occasionally they kill. They bring their children up to be just as deranged as themselves. These little monsters will run up and take a kick at a middle-aged woman, while their parents do nothing to restrain them. Outsiders who comes to Hebron to assess the situation for themselves will get the same treatment. Christian peacemakers have been beaten up by these jeering thugs. Only last week Israeli soldiers stood by as settlers threatened and insulted a visiting group of German parliamentarians. They were called Nazis. Paint was poured on their cars. They felt so endangered they cut their trip short. What will Angela Merkel, who made a disgraceful, slavishly sycophantic speech of support for Israel in the Knesset, make of all this?
The epicenter of this hatred and fanaticism is the Tel Rumeida district. Most of the Palestinians have been driven out. The small number that remain live inside the wire cages they have erected around their houses to protect themselves from the settlers. They are stoned and abused. Attempts are made to break into their homes. They dare not leave them empty because of the danger that the settlers will take them over. The novelist Maria Vargas Llosa wrote recently after a visit to Hebron: ‘Some 25,000 residents have been cleared from their homes in H-2 zone in five years. In the Tel Rumeida neighborhood alone, where there is a [Jewish] settlement of the same name, barely 50 out of 500 Arab families remain. The extraordinary thing is that they haven’t already gone, subjected as they are to systematic and ferocious harassment by settlers, who stone them, throw rubbish and excrement at their houses, invade and destroy their homes and attack their children when they return from school, to the absolute indifference of Israeli soldiers who witness these atrocities’.[i] The behavior of the soldiers is scarcely any better than the behavior, as revealed in testimonies just published (along with others previously published) by Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika), a group of dissident soldiers.[ii] The army has a code of conduct but in reality soldiers can do whatever they want, including the looting of homes and shops, the shooting of unarmed civilians and the routine beating of civilians of all ages, including children. The chances that they will be punished are low.
Outside the city the settlers harass farmers, prevent them from harvesting their crops and tear the trees from their soil. Behind all of this stands the state. The settlers are no more than the blunt instrument used in pursuit of state policies. The official expressions of concern at their ‘excesses’ are rank hypocrisy. It is the state that wants the settlers in Hebron, that puts the soldiers there to protect them and tells them not to interfere in the harassment and persecution of the Palestinian civilian population. The criminal actions of soldiers and settlers alike are sanctioned and promoted by the same state that Kevin Rudd and Brendan Nelson congratulated only recently in the Australian parliament on the basis of its fine achievements over the past sixty years. Perhaps they should be challenged to go to Hebron to see for themselves.
[i] ‘Maria Vargas Llosa ‘How Arabs have been driven out of Hebron’, the Independent, April 19, 2008.
[ii] As of April 19 the organisation’s web site appears to have been purged of all material.
Jeremy Salt is associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at
Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Previously, he taught at Bosporus
University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne in the Departments of
Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science.
Professor Salt has written
many articles on Middle East issues, particularly Palestine, and was a
journalist for The Age newspaper when he lived in Melbourne. Later when
living overseas, he continued to contribute numerous articles to The Age and
The Australian until it was deemed that his views ran contrary to the
editorial line of both newspapers.
The following item was sent to us by the Middle East News Service and is from an article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Who else, other than zionists in Sydney, would have complained about a Palestinian exhibition being held in Leichhardt? And who else, other than zionists in Sydney, would pull out all stops to ensure the exhibition did not take place.
And Leichhardt Council allowing itself to be so intimidated that it pulled the plug? The whole story is disgraceful and smacks of intimidation of one section of the community by another - scandalous in every way!
THE decision by a Sydney library to dump an exhibition about Palestinian refugees after a visit by counter-terrorism police the night before it opened has been criticised as an act of censorship.
Leichhardt municipal library was to launch the Al-Nakba pictorial exhibition last Friday. A local community group, Friends of Hebron, had developed the display of photos, poems and articles over eight months.
"We set up the exhibition at the library on Thursday night and the librarian … approved the exhibition, and said that it could be seen by children and other people who come into the library," said Carole Lawson, a Friends of Hebron member.
But that night, shortly before the library closed at 8pm, officers from the police counter-terrorism operations arrived at the library.
A police spokesman said the officers were from the operations' community contact unit and had come only to "say hi" to Friends of Hebron members. "They went to introduce themselves just to let them know who they are and what they are about. [Speaking with community groups] is part of their charter,"he said. "When they got there the librarian was the only one there … they just had a quick chat to the librarian."
But Ms Lawson said: "They wanted to put the fear of god into the library staff and wanted the staff to feel threatened."
The librarian, Marilyn Taylor, would not speak publicly. But the Mayor of Leichhardt, Carolyn Allen, confirmed Ms Taylor later contacted her boss, the council's director of corporate services, David Marshall, on Thursday evening to discuss the exhibit.
They arranged a meeting for the next morning, and a decision was made to cancel the exhibition at about 9.30am.
Ms Lawson was informed of the decision later that morning. "It's the censorship of Palestine - apparently the anti-terrorism squad decides what we can see on the public walls of a library," she said.
The president of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, Terry O'Gorman, said it was clear the police visit on the eve of the exhibition had influenced the council's decision. "The terrorism unit's explanation [of coming to introduce themselves] is unacceptable," he said. "The fact that they turn up as a display is being mounted is entitled to be interpreted as a threat."
Cr Allen maintains the decision was made by the council and the library, and not influenced by police. The council had decided last year that exhibitions such as Al-Nakba would need to be assessed by a panel of councillors to ensure they were not divisive, she said. This had not happened earlier with Al-Nakba because of a "a breakdown of managerial process".
But Mr O'Gorman criticised the library for being "too-ready [with] self-censorship". .
Shane McArdle, a council spokesman present when the decision to cancel was made, said some photo captions were deemed capable of causing anxiety and "undue angst".
But Ms Lawson said there was nothing alarming in the exhibition and that it merely highlighted the plight of many Palestinian refugees in Hebron, about 30 kilometres south of Jerusalem.
"The exhibition was taken down because it was about Palestine, the dispossession of Palestinians and what's going on in Hebron," she said.
She said the group would now look to hold the exhibition at another venue, promoting it as "the exhibition the council didn't want you to see".
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 1
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 2
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 3
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 4
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 5
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 6
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 7
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9a
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9b
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 10
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 11
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 12
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 13
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 14
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 15
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 16
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