Palestine

Much of the hysteria surrounding the support of Sydney’s Marrickville Council for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has focused on the comparison made by the global BDS campaign with the former apartheid system in South Africa. Pro-Israel politicians and propagandists are quite aware of the power of the comparison. By describing a system where one part of the population has democracy and another doesn’t, it takes away Israel’s claim to legitimacy as a “Jewish democracy”.
Below is an extract of a letter Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent to the student leaders at UC Berkeley in March 2010 regarding Berkeley’s decision to divest from Israel. * * * I am writing to tell you that, despite what detractors may allege, you are doing the right thing. You are doing the moral thing. You are doing that which is incumbent on you as humans who believe that all people have dignity and rights, and that all those being denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings.
Israeli forces have sealed the occupied West Bank village of Beit Ommar since March 24 for an indefinite time. Soldiers continue to arrest young Palestinian residents and hold them in Israeli detention centres. In a move akin to the four-year-long economic blockade against the Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers have closed the six entrances to the village of 17,000 inhabitants. It has imposed a widespread prohibition policy against all major imports and exports from the village. This includes gasoline, produce, raw industrial materials and basic supplies.
This went up on IS singer Macy Gray's Facebook page on January 17: "I'm booked for 2 shows in Tel Aviv. I'm getting a lot of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians. What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting, but I wanna go. I gotta lotta fans there I don't want to cancel on and I don't know how my NOT going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?"
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that over the next six months, Wikileaks will be releasing more files related to Israel. “There are 3,700 files related to Israel and the source of 2,700 files is Israel,” he told Al-Jazeera on December 22. “The Guardian, El Pais and Le Monde have published only two percent of the files related to Israel due to the sensitive relations between Germany, France and Israel.”
More than 100 Palestine solidarity activists gathered in Melbourne over October 29-31 for Australia's first national BDS conference. Palestinian civil society groups called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel five years ago. The BDS campaign demands an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the dismantlement of the separation wall in the West Bank, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Anna Baltzer is a US activist who worked in Palestine with the International Women's Peace Service documenting human rights abuses. She is author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories.
PERTH — Jewish American author Anna Baltzer spoke to a packed audience of more than 100 people at a forum hosted by Friends of Palestine WA on October 21. She began by explaining that there were differences between the words "Jewish" (relating to faith or kinship), "Israeli" (relating to citizenship in the state of Israel) and "Zionist" (a political ideology). Most of her presentation documented the illegal occupation of Palestinian land sponsored by the state of Israel and the effects of that occupation.
Boats — an enemy evoked by major Australian political parties to win elections — have become a symbol of international resistance to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. This is particularly the case since Israeli commandos attacked an aid flotilla headed for Gaza in May, killing nine people. With this in mind, the Berlin Coalition for Gaza (BCG) launched a one-boat “flotilla” through an inner-city Berlin canal on October 15.
“History was made early today on the other side of the world”, said Grant Morgan, an Auckland-based organiser of the Kia Ora Gaza convoy bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s siege. Kia Ora is a six-person New Zealand team that has joined the Viva Palestina covoy. “The vicious Israeli siege of Gaza has been broken by an international aid convoy of 400 volunteers from 30 countries driving 150 vehicles carrying vital medical supplies worth NZ$7 million.”
Palestinian activists in the occupied West Bank have called for the boycott of the popular Rami Levy Israeli supermarket chain. The chain has several stores inside Israel’s illegal settlements. Activists say they will call on fellow Palestinians to “avoid supporting the occupation and settlements’ economy by boycotting Israeli goods and settlement stores”. A vigil was held on September 23 outside the Rami Levy store inside the Sha’ar Binyamin settlement south of Bethlehem.
The following open letter to US folk singer Peter Seeger was released on September 15 by the Palestinians Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel and 16 other organisations based in Gaza. It urges Seeger, a long-time supporter of social justice causes, to not break the global boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign by performing at an Israeli-organised “virtual rally”. It is reprinted from the website of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, Usacbi.wordpress.com * * * Dear Mr Seeger,
On September 2, direct talks began between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority with the US government acting as mediator. US President Barack Obama has declared the success of these “peace talks” to be a main foreign policy goal of the last two years of his term. But whatever their outcome, the talks cannot end the conflict because both sides are not evenly represented. The mediator, the US, is the major financial, political and military sponsor of one of the parties to the conflict, Israel.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority started on September 2. After the resumption of negotiations, Israel refrained from attacking Gaza for just two days. Then it ordered the bombing of two Rafah tunnels that connect the besieged Gaza Strip to Egypt, killing two workers, and leaving two severely injured.
The article is abridged from an August 11 Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report. * * * The signs which dot the beach along the Gaza City waterfront read: "This beach is polluted.” Yet they serve only as obstacles for children running to the sea, rather than warnings of the serious health risks. One need only stroll north along the beach for a couple hundred metres to see raw sewage being pumped directly into the Mediterranean Sea from one of the 16 discharge sites along the coast. Yet thousands of people fill Gaza's beaches.
At the beginning of August the Israeli government announced it would cooperate with one out of two international United Nations-sponsored investigation commissions into the May 31 Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon claimed the move was “unprecedented”. The commission is composed of four people, one chosen by Turkey, one chosen by Israel and two chosen from a list provided by Israel. The latter two are former prime minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer, who will be the chair, and outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who will serve as vice-chair.

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