Palestine

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.

The following is an August 3 statement by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

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The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) endorses and supports the call for boycott of Arizona on account of its manifestly racist laws, SB 1070 and HB 2281.

SB 1070 calls for police officers to require documentation from people to establish resident status. The law essentially requires police to engage in racial profiling and discrimination on the basis of appearance.

Abdul Ramahi is a Palestinian-Australian who lives in Melbourne. A member of the Socialist Alliance, he is active in campaigns to raise awareness on the plight of the Palestinian people.

His own story, which he told Green Left Weekly, illustrates how the lives of Palestinians in the global diaspora are shaped by the ongoing injustice and resistance in their homeland.

Born in 1938, in a village called Muzeira, five kilometres from present-day Tel Aviv, he had a happy childhood. His father was a justice of the peace and owned a large amount of land — close to 100 hectares.

A growing number of unions across Australia have backed the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. The campaign demands that Israel ends its apartheid-like policies towards Palestinians.

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) said in a July 20 statement that it would “continue to add its voice to the call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and condemning all acts of terrorism”.

The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) apparently screened Iraqi film Son of Babylon against the wishes of the filmmakers — who object to the sponsorship of the MIFF by the apartheid state of Israel.

Israel faces an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign by opponents of its oppression of Palestinians. As with the international campaign against South African apartheid, this includes a call for a cultural boycott.

Early on July 27, Israeli bulldozers, flanked by helicopters and throngs of police, demolished the entire Bedouin village of al Araqib in the northern Negev desert. Despite having land rights cases pending in the court system, hundreds of al Araqib villagers were instantly made homeless a month after Israeli police posted demolition orders.

Eyewitness reports say the police were accompanied by several busloads of right-wing Israeli civilians who cheered during the demolitions.

In an effort to mitigate the global outrage that followed its May 31 attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, Israel has, ever so slightly, eased its blockade on Gaza. However minimal, this step has only been taken because of the pressure applied to Israel by the international grassroots protest movement.

The Gaza aid missions have aimed to alert the world to the criminality of the blockade. In this, they have succeeded — though the price has been heavy: Nine killed (mostly with shots directly to the head and neck) and 700 others violently abducted, detained and abused.

On July 17, 25 members of Justice for Palestine (JFP) Brisbane met in the CBD to launch their boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli goods and services.

The target for the first BDS action was the Israeli Seacret cosmetics company that uses “mineral-rich mud and natural mineral salts of the Dead Sea”. It makes no mention of the occupied Palestinian land from which the minerals are extracted or the apartheid conditions under which Palestinians live every day.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat said on July 15 the Libyan aid ship, Amaltheal (“Hope”) docked the night before at al-Arish in Egypt. The ship was bearing 2000 tons of aid supplies for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel.

The ship’s odyssey from Greece was marked by uncertainty and danger for the 21 passengers. It developed a mechanical problem that made it move very slowly on July 14. There was a question about whether its captain might try to take it right into Gaza, despite the Israeli military’s blockade.

The board of Pride Toronto held a press conference on the lawn outside its offices on May 25 to announce the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” would be censored from the upcoming 2010 Pride Parade.

The decision, aimed at banning the Toronto-based activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from the gay pride parade, set off a firestorm in the community.

This included refusals to take part in the festival and an open letter denouncing the decision by eight founding members who organised the first Toronto Pride parade in 1981.

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