Jerusalem repression

Israel’s model of political despair in Jerusalem

Jonathan Cook says Israeli policy in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank is turning the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into an “unmanageable colonial conflict that risks heading towards religious conflagration”. More »

Guernica

The nightmare we called the “Arab Spring”

Nureddin Sabir says the “Arab Spring” had been misunderstood from the start and, at least in Syria and Libya, what were said to be pro-democracy revolutions were in fact Islamist insurrections. More »

Israeli soldiers at Al-Aqsa

Jerusalem: The Unholy City

Uri Avnery says Israeli policies in Jerusalem – ethnic cleansing, neglect, oppression, provocation – have created an explosive situation in the city, which is now a hostile environment for inhabitants and tourists. More »

International Criminal Court1

Prosecute Israel – or let the people decide

Jamal Kanj says the Palestinian Authority must use the momentum of European recognitions of Palestine as a state to take Israel to the International Criminal Court for its violations of international law. More »

Kheir al-Din Hamdan

Israeli politicians inciting murder and mayhem

Uri Avnery argues that the actions of irresponsible Israeli politicians – from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Minister of Home Security Yitzhak Aharonowitz – is paving the way for a Palestinian uprising. More »

Ed Miliband and Labour's Jewish donors

Will British Jewish funders’ blackmail backfire?

Alan Hart offers advice to the UK Labour Party’s erstwhile Jewish donors, who are allegedly ditching the party because Ed Miliband condemned Israel and supported recognition of Palestine as an independent state. More »

Jonathan Sacks

Jonathan Sacks, preacher of Israeli hasbara

Stuart Littlewood explains why a recent speech made by former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has left him wondering whether he's an instrument of God or just another preacher of Israeli hasbara. More »

Chickenshit

Chickenshit Netanyahu

Uri Avnery examines the tense and contradictory US-Israeli relationship, and argues that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is exploiting the dysfunctional US political system to destroy the chances of peace. More »

Jonathan Djanogly

Jonathan Djanogly, example of UK’s Israel stooges

Stuart Littlewood examines the behaviour of an Israel flag waver in the UK parliament, Jonathan Djanogly, one of the “dirty dozen” lawmakers who voted against recognising Palestine as an independent state. More »

Gaza prison

How Israel is turning Gaza into a super-max prison

Jonathan Cook argues that the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs and their right in international law to resist their oppressor are being sacrificed to make the enforcement of Israel’s occupation more efficient. More »

Daily Archives: April 5, 2013

Prosecute groups that support Israeli crimes

Jewish hasbara bodies aiding and abetting Israeli crimes must face the full force of the law

By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

The world of Jewish politics is so back to front and upside down that, when it comes to Israel, bad is good and wrong is right.

That is the sad fact of which we need to remind Israel flag wavers, such as failed US politician Katrina Lantos Swett, who from time to time rear their heads to bleat “anti-Semitism” and decry the “deligitimization of Israel”, which they blame for allegedly rising anti-Jewish sentiment.

On 5 April the Times of Israel reported that a Jewish organization in Melbourne, Australia, could face expulsion from the country’s Jewish umbrella body for launching a campaign that calls for the boycott of products from West Bank settlements.

These settlements – colonies and squatter camps, in fact – are illegal under international law and, with their rapid expansion under successive Israeli governments, both of the left and the right, are terminally undermining any prospect of a two-state solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Boycott settlements call

The Australian campaign “Don’t Buy from the Settlements” was launched on 26 March by the Melbourne-based Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) with the aim of encouraging Australian Jews to avoid buying products made in Jewish colonies and squatter camps located in the Palestinian territories occupied after the 1967 war.

In a media release published on its website, the AJDS said:

Israeli settlements are seen around the world as a major obstacle to creating peace between Israelis and Palestinians. One way to take a stand against the harm they create is not to buy the products they produce. This sends a clear message that we will not be complicit in the settlement programme.

According to Jordy Silverstein, an executive member of the AJDS:

Not buying products from settlements will not work on its own, but it is one small step that we can take. When we add in the possibility of sharing knowledge about what the settlements mean and what they do … we can work alongside Palestinians, Israelis and people throughout the diasporas to create an exciting, liberating future.

However, this principled stance of the AJDS quickly prompted Australia’s Israel hasbara (propaganda) groups to gang up against it. For them, anything short of total, unconditional support for Israel, its illegal occupation and colonization of Arab territories, its war crimes and its crimes against humanity is tantamount to treason.

Orgy of Jewish solidarity with Israel

So, first came the umbrella Jewish organization, the Zionist Federation of Australia, which described the call for boycott as “immoral” and “repugnant”.

Then came the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, which consists of more than 50 Jewish organizations in the state. Its president, Nina Bassat, touted the idea of expelling the AJDS for having the audacity to call for action against Israeli criminality.

Bassat was joined in this orgy of Jewish tribal solidarity with the racist Israeli state by Peter Wertheim, of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who also called for the AJDS to be expelled from Australia’s Jewish umbrella body.

“The AJDS campaign is repugnant to the strong anti-BDS policies of every Jewish communal roof body in Australia,” he bleated, referring to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, “and to the ECAJ [Executive Council of Australian Jewry] platform of support for Israel and its legitimacy as the state of the Jewish people”.

“Anti-Semitism” and support for Israel

If there is indeed a rise in anti-Jewish sentiment anywhere in the world, then to find the cause look no further than the above-mentioned types of frenzied Jewish defence of Israeli crimes.

There is a strong case for nurturing a worldwide culture at grassroots level that promotes international legality and opposes crimes committed or sponsored by states. As a first step towards this, it is necessary to bring to account groups and individuals that support criminal actions committed or sponsored by states.

Just as in most civilized countries there are laws against aiding, abetting and glorifying terrorism, and against crimes such as rape and drugs trafficking, so there should also be laws that proscribe supporting or glorifying state crimes.

If neo-Nazis and Nazi holocaust deniers can be prosecuted in Germany, France and elsewhere in Europe, then organizations that support Israeli crimes should also be prosecuted, whether in Australia or anywhere else, for aiding, abetting and/or glorifying Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.

US aid: an opium for Palestinians

By Jamal Kanj

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a 3.9-billion-US-dollar national budget for the 2013 fiscal year just one day before the 31 March deadline.

The budget was approved without the required constitutional review and endorsement of the Palestine National Council.

The state’s projected revenue for this year is 2.6bn dollars, leaving a deficit of 1.3bn dollars to be bridged by international benefactors.

Budget approval came on the heels of US President Barack Obama’s visit, during which he revealed a decision to release approximately 500 million dollars in US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). This includes 295.7m dollars withheld by Congress last year to punish the PA for upgrading its status at the United Nations. The remaining 200m dollars was for budgetary assistance in 2013. By releasing the aid to the PA, Obama bypassed the US Congress’s objections by declaring that it was in “the security interests of the US”.

The freezing of US funding and a dearth of European Union assistance resulted in the PA facing a deficit of approximately 1.2bn dollars last year. Although Arab states pledged a safety net to supplant withheld US aid just as Israel seized tax money, in reality the PA was left with a “loose net” but for limited emergency backing from individual states, following a direct appeal from the Palestinian president.

The government of Palestine can’t continue to function on handouts from the EU and US, or taxes collected by Israel – especially when the US empowers the same occupation that deprives Palestinians of enough resources and minerals to bridge most, if not all, of the budget deficit.

Late last year and in January, the Palestinian government was forced to delay salary disbursements or pay partial salaries for the large number of state bureaucrats.

This led to a series of street protests and an increase in the level of confrontations with the Israeli occupying force.

Fearing what the World Bank called “social upheaval”, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered in January for the immediate release of about 70m dollars in tax revenue seized from the PA to help it “enforce calm on the ground”.

Approximately 1.2bn dollars of the PA budget is administered exclusively by Israel – from which it deducts a 10 per cent fee. This leaves the Palestinian state in control of only 1.4bn dollars of its revenue, or 36 per cent of its total budget. The government of Palestine can’t continue to function on handouts from the EU and US, or taxes collected by Israel – especially when the US empowers the same occupation that deprives Palestinians of enough resources and minerals to bridge most, if not all, of the budget deficit.

In a 2012 report, the World Bank blamed Israeli policies for stymieing “investment” and the lethargic “private sector”. The report concluded that growth is not “sustainable until Palestinians have access to resources and are allowed to move freely”.

Last month, Norwegian Foreign Minister Epsen Barth Eide attributed the PA’s continued financial crisis to Israeli restrictions in occupied Palestine. In addition to negotiations, if conditions would ever allow it, Palestine should consider pursuing in tandem a plan to delegitimiz Israel’s unilateral moves.

Locked out of the UN Security Council by US veto power, the PA should at least consider taking steps like accelerating its UNESCO applications to register Muslim and Christian places of worship in Jerusalem and other cultural locations as protected World Heritage Sites. The Palestinian leadership should stop its hollow threats of going to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if Israel starts executing its plans to build more “Jewish only” colonies. Palestine should first become a fully-fledged member of the ICC and join other UN organizations.

Decades of bleating to pitiful world powers in closed meeting rooms has only accelerated the building of Jews-only colonies on the hills of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

It must develop a new approach whereby for every Israeli unilateral action, there is an equal, independent Palestinian reaction.

Decades of bleating to pitiful world powers in closed meeting rooms has only accelerated the building of Jews-only colonies on the hills of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In the absence of peace, the inept international community will succumb to special interest groups and choose the status quo instead of confronting Israeli intransigence. But foreign aid money should not become an “opium” with which to preserve the status quo in Palestine.


A version of this article was first published in the Gulf Daily News. The version here is published by permission of Jamal Kanj.