View the Deleted United Nations Report on Israeli Apartheid

Below are links to the ‘disappeared’, ‘deleted’ and ‘taken down’ United Nations report on Israeli apartheid. The report titled ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid’ was removed from the website of U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UNESCWA) at the end of last week ‘following pressure from the U.N. Secretary General.’ As well, Rima Khalaf, the head of UNESCWA, resigned ‘after she was asked to withdraw a report her agency published earlier this week that stated Israel is an “apartheid regime.” (mondoweiss.net/2017/03/resigns-refusing-apartheid)

Electronic Intifada has made it available, check it out below
electronicintifada.net

The 75-page report states in the beginning:

‘This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that
dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness
of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence
establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and
practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in
instruments of international law.

‘The analysis in this report rests on the same body of international human rights
law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory
ideologies, including: the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965). The report relies for its
definition of apartheid primarily on article II of the International Convention on the
Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973, hereinafter the
Apartheid Convention):

The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of
racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to…
inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by
one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically
oppressing them.

‘Although the term “apartheid” was originally associated with the specific instance
of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under
customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court, according to which:

“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts… committed in the context of an
institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group
over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining
that regime.

‘Against that background, this report reflects the expert consensus that the
prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable and was not rendered moot by
the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia).’

It is outrageous that the report was removed and that the Honorable Rima Khalaf had to resign. Freedom of expression? International Law? Human rights? Integrity of research? Not if it doesn’t suit Israeli Power Holders in the United States.

Photo from: scribd.com

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Israeli mother Addresses European Parliament

Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar Elhanan, 13 years old when killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in September 1997. Below is Nurit’s speech made on International Women’s Day in Strasbourg earlier this month.

Thank you for inviting me to this today. It is always an honour and a pleasure to be here, among you (at the European Parliament).

However, I must admit I believe you should have invited a Palestinian woman at my stead, because the women who suffer most from violence in my county are the Palestinian women. And I would like to dedicate my speech to Miriam R’aban and her husband Kamal, from Bet Lahiya in the Gaza strip, whose five small children were killed by Israeli soldiers while picking strawberries at the family`s strawberry field. No one will ever stand trial for this murder.

When I asked the people who invited me here why didn’t they invite a Palestinian woman, the answer was that it would make the discussion too localized.

I don’t know what is non-localized violence. Racism and discrimination may be theoretical concepts and universal phenomena but their impact is always local, and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse, torture and death, are all very local, and so are the scars.

It is true, unfortunately, that the local violence inflicted on Palestinian women by the government of Israel and the Israeli army, has expanded around the globe, In fact, state violence and army violence, individual and collective violence, are the lot of Muslim women today, not only in Palestine but wherever the enlightened western world is setting its big imperialistic foot. It is violence which is hardly ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by most people in Europe and in the USA.

This is because the so-called free world is afraid of the Muslim womb.

Great France of “la liberte égalite et la fraternite” is scared of little girls with head scarves. Great Jewish Israel is afraid of the Muslim womb which its ministers call a demographic threat.

Almighty America and Great Britain are infecting their respective citizens with blind fear of the Muslims, who are depicted as vile, primitive and blood-thirsty, apart from their being non-democratic, chauvinistic and mass producers of future terrorists. This in spite of the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a non-devout Jew.

I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished , who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal.

But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers. Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our children.

the-weeping-woman-of-pere-lachaise

Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces with our sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the same viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses , though they may have various illustrious names–such as Democracy, Patriotism, God, Homeland–are all the same. They are all part of false and fake ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.

We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: `I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is less worth than a piece of land.`

All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.

And all of us were brought up to bear all this silently, to contain our fear and frustration, to take Prozac for anxiety, but never hail Mama Courage in public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish mothers.

I am a victim of state violence. My natural and civil rights as a mother have been violated and are violated because I have to fear the day my son would reach his 18th birthday and be taken away from me to be the game tool of criminals such as Sharon, Bush, Blair and their clan of blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, land thirsty generals.

Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in, in the regime I live in, I don’t dare to offer Muslim women any ideas how to change their lives. I don’t want them to take off their scarves, or educate their children differently, and I will not urge them to constitute Democracies in the image of Western democracies that despise them and their kind. I just want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to express my admiration for their perseverance and for their courage to carry on, to have children and to maintain a dignified family life in spite of the impossible conditions my world in putting them in. I want to tell them we are all bonded by the same pain, we all the victims of the same sort of violence even though they suffer much more, for they are the ones who are mistreated by my government and its army, sponsored by my taxes.

Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and Christianity in itself, is not a threat to me or to anyone. American imperialism is, European indifference and co-operation is and Israeli racism and its cruel regime of occupation is. It is racism, educational propaganda and inculcated xenophobia that convince Israeli soldiers to order Palestinian women at gun-point, to strip in front of their children for security reasons, it is the deepest disrespect for the other that allow American soldiers to rape Iraqi women, that give license to Israeli jailers to keep young women in inhuman conditions, without necessary hygienic aids, without electricity in the winter, without clean water or clean mattresses and to separate them from their breast-fed babies and toddlers. To bar their way to hospitals, to block their way to education, to confiscate their lands, to uproot their trees and prevent them from cultivating their fields.

I cannot completely understand Palestinian women or their suffering. I don’t know how I would have survived such humiliation, such disrespect from the whole world. All I know is that the voice of mothers has been suffocated for too long in this war-stricken planet. Mothers` cry is not heard because mothers are not invited to international forums such as this one. This I know and it is very little. But it is enough for me to remember these women are my sisters, and that they deserve that I should cry for them, and fight for them. And when they lose their children in strawberry fields or on filthy roads by the checkpoints, when their children are shot on their way to school by Israeli children who were educated to believe that love and compassion are race and religion dependent, the only thing I can do is stand by them and their betrayed babies, and ask what Anna Akhmatova–another mother who lived in a regime of violence against women and children–asked:

Why does that streak o blood, rip the petal of your cheek?

Togetherness_Jewish_Palestinian_Child_political_solution

Published in “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”: http://jfjfp.com/?p=7720

EMERGENCY DEMO: PROTEST ISRAELI ASSAULT ON GAZA – Van March 31/12

Saturday, March 31
12 Noon
CBC Plaza
Georgia & Hamiltion, Vancouver

In the wake of the Global March to Jerusalem, Israel has opened fire on Palestinians in the West Bank;
has launched a renewed air and ground assault on Gaza;
and has placed forces on alert on the Lebanon and Syria borders.
The attack on Gaza has left one man dead and 37 wounded.

The Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (Vancouver) is calling an emergency
demo for 12 Noon on Saturday, March 31, to oppose these latest atrocities.

Man killed as Israeli forces clash with Palestinians
http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/

 stopwar@resist.ca

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Yaka and the Pukka Sahibs

Once upon a time we believed the sky was only blue. Then came sunrises and sunsets, clouds and rainbows, silver rain and clear phosphates, science and prisms, bars on windows, b52s and tinted glasses.

Once upon a time we believed the sky was only blue. Then came sunrises and sunsets, clouds and rainbows, silver rain and clear phosphates, science and prisms, bars on windows, b52s and tinted glasses.

Once upon an illusion we believed in the UN, in an English free press, in a white Jesus and Moses (who resembled Charlton Heston); that paler was more beautiful, Israel was the promised land, and India a land of Himalayan holy men.

Then the real sky crashed over us, flipping us over, back onto our feet! The English Free Press turns out to be the Macbethian fief of macabre Maxwells and malevolent Murdochs, let alone a constipated BBC as the orifice of their Foreign Office. Jesus turns out to have been black Ethiopian, thank goddess! – and not as Michaelangelo mispainted him. And pale, turns out, to be just that: sun starved. As for Charlton Heston and Israel (may their gods save their gun-running souls), all these wander-lusting Zionists shall soon retreat quickly from Palestine to their real homeland: in Poland!

Regarding the so-called ‘international community’: they are mostly white supremacist organisations. The UN the best example, NATO the most obvious. The UN clearly needs rescue from being a broad-based fig leaf for NATO, even as many foreign-service hands see the UN as a wayside ambalama in their pilgrimage to becoming pensionable stipendiaries of the US state department’s many international fronts (APEC, ASEAN, OAS, etc).

The proliferation of INGOs is dated from the late 1960s, to counter the combination of non-NATO countries over the white countries. INGOs accredited by white-dominated UN/IMF/WB, etc. became ‘astro turf’ variants of slaughtered grassroots socialist groups, transformed into fronts for multinationals to undermine a country.

Smother India
India meanwhile is not just a land of sanyasis, fakirs and pandits. There are merchants whose worldviews venerate the sahib, operate as remora below the white shark’s mouth, and represent themselves as ‘Indian’ throughout the world. But India, with its peasants and workers, is a billion times more complex than anyone can wrap in a stereotype. On the other hand, Lanka has always been a more cohesive entity than India, throughout history. Buddhism gathered together the first true all-encompassing belief system in India, which inspired a cultural spread to China to Turkey and beyond! On yet another hand (this argument is as multi-limbed as any deity) there is no term for ‘Hindu’ in Sinhala or Tamil – the term used is ‘Saiva’ – ‘Hinduism,’ after all, being an agglomeration of the 19th century white man. And India, beyond any Gandhian dream of unity, is now a daily shifting quicksand of competing regional bourgeoisies. So it’s hard not to see that the continuing attack on Lanka will splinter India as well! For if they can dismember Lanka, then India will surely smithereen!

We’ve always advocated more equitable ties with our immediate neighbours in India, and not just to break off from the isolation wrought by 500 years of invasion: The Portuguese attempted to control our maritime provinces. The Dutch attempted to cut us off from the seas and great ‘country trade’ between India and China. The English then tried to take over our links to the world.

It is long past time to take back our sense of ourselves and the world. We can even reserve the right to hate ourselves or our neighbours rightly or wrongly. Independence is the right to make our own decisions. To make our own mistakes, and learn from them (though making the same mistakes over and over, and expecting different results, is the very definition of insanity). So, we live and hopefully learn.

English as a Foreign Policy
Do Manhattan Jews determine US policy in West Asia, or is it Exxon? Is it Miami gusanos (white Cubans) who determine US sanctions against Cuba, and not the US Sugar Corporation? Is it Boston Irish who fabricate US policy on England? Is it Mississippi Africans who called in the NATO bombardment of Libya? Puhlease! Why don’t we ask London-based Unilever, CIC, CTC, or New York’s Caltex, etc, who make phat profits in SL: who really makes NATO policy?

We reject the view that Tamils or Indians, Chinese or Africans are our enemies. Our people, Sinhalas and Tamils, have lived within each other for millennia. There are more Sinhala Buddhists in this country than anywhere else, though our export of labour burgeons. There are more Tamils in India, and around the world – thanks or no thanks to the European slave trade, that first subjugated their own white serfs, then the red Americans, and Africans, then the Asians (particularly the Tamils and Malays), and the Pacificans.

Now can people who wrought that slavery over Tamils in India, still be spokesmen for Tamils? Apparently. The Tamilnadu bourgeoisie hold a special place, alongside the other Indian merchant classes who supported English rule for the last 200 years – linked to the merchantry that enslaved, transported and exploited Tamil plantation workers worldwide. Their link to the English occupation of Lanka when the English East India Co. ruled us, first from Madras, strengthened their induction into the Colombo mercantile set controlling imports and exports. These merchants too have no interest in sustaining the independence of our country.

It is one thing to speak English, it’s another thing to think white! There’s mucho hype about learning English, when it’s really Whiteness as a Second Language that’s being promoted. Instead, we should learn first to glean how the English built their capitalist system, how they burgeoned through African chattel slavery, then opium trading in China, then Asian indentured slavery; how they imposed the plantation system, and how they destroyed industry to underdevelop our country. Their diction and grammar will become even clearer! This is the English, Yaka thinks we should learn – to discern who are our real friends in this world: they who understand the real English that fogs this sky of many colours.

http://www.nation.lk/edition/columns/yak-handa/item/4294-yaka-and-the-pukka-sahibs.html
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Is Israel a democracy or an ethnocracy?

The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) is one of the key Israel advocacy groups in the UK. In the last week BICOM has published a series of essays on ‘Israel’s democratic futures’ (if that’s a question, the answer is ‘here’s hoping’). BICOM’s worry, as its chief Lorna Fitzsimons wrote in herintroduction, is that “a notion is spreading in the West that Israel is fast becoming an illiberal ethno-democracy”.

One of the contributions is an interview by BICOM’s Alan Johnson of the US political philosopher Michael Walzer. At first glance, Johnson appears to be unafraid of posing the difficult questions – but Walzer’s unchallenged replies are revealing.

Israel is not the state of the Jewish people; Jews outside Israel don’t vote in its elections and non-Jews inside Israel do vote in its elections. The Jewish people are not sovereign in Israel; the citizens of Israel are sovereign there. I think there is a sense in which Israel, I mean green line Israel, is right now politically a state of all its citizens. The real difficulties are not political, they are cultural, and they arise in every nation state.

Unpacked, this is a wonderful illustration of the denial and diversion tactics deployed by those trying to reconcile the idea of a ‘Jewish’ and ‘democratic’ state. Walzer says “there is a sense” in which Israel is “a state of all its citizens” – but he presents no evidence, and quickly moves on in order to focus on “cultural” difficulties.

Walzer’s response is just wrong (and he surely must know this).

Firstly, foundational to Israel’s legal framework as a Jewish state is legislation passed in the first few years, specifically the Law of Return, the Absentee Property Law, and the Citizenship Law. These laws shaped an institutionalised regime of ethno-religious discrimination by extending Israel’s ‘frontiers’ to include every Jew in the world (as a potential citizen), at the same time as explicitly excluding expelled Palestinians.

Search BICOM’s essays in vain, however, for serious acknowledgement that Israel the ‘liberal democracy’ was founded on the basis of ethnic cleansing and mass land expropriation; that the only reason there is a ‘Jewish majority’ at all, is because of the historic fact of the forced exclusion of Palestinians from their homes and lands.

Secondly, there is a distinction in Israel between ‘citizenship’ and ‘nationality’, a difference missed by English speakers, who tend to use the terms interchangeably. Professor David Kretzmer, law scholar at Hebrew University and member of the International Commission of Jurists, has written how this concept of ‘nation’ “strengthens the dichotomy between the state as the political framework for all its citizens and the state as the particularistic nation-state of the Jewish people”.

In the 1970s, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by a Jewish Israeli who sought to change his nationality status from ‘Jewish’ to ‘Israeli’. The rulingstated that “there is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish nation…composed not only of those residing in Israel but also of Diaspora Jewry”. Then-president of the Court Shimon Agranat said that a uniform Israeli nationality “would negate the very foundation upon which the State of Israel was formed”.

Thirdly, Israel continues to be in an official ‘state of emergency’, which the Knesset has annually renewed since 1948. There are still 11 laws and 58 ordinances that depend on the state of emergency, covering a wide range of matters.

Fourthly, Israeli law provides for the banning of electoral candidates who deny “the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people”. Related to that, proposed bills can be rejected on the grounds that they undermine“Israel’s existence as the state of the Jewish people”. This is particularly instructive, given the emphasis placed by those trying to defend Israel’s ‘democracy’ on the fact that Palestinian citizens can vote and be elected as MKs.

Fifthly, there is the legislated role of the Zionist institutions, the Jewish Agency/World Zionist Organisation and Jewish National Fund. As I write in my new book, bodies intended to privilege Jews, by being granted responsibilities normally performed by the state, are thus “placed in positions of authority where they have the ability to prejudice the interests of non-Jewish citizens”.

Those are a selection of elements in what makes Israel a Jewish state, as opposed to a state of all its citizens. But what has it meant in practice, for Palestinians living in this ‘Jewish and democratic’ state?

From 1948 to 1966, the majority of Israel’s Arab citizens lived under military rule, a state of affairs used to expropriate land for establishing Jewish communities, as well as repress dissent. This is a vital part of the history, and makes it laughable that in one of the BICOM essays, Amichai Magen claimsIsrael has never had “a single episode of slippage into authoritarianism” (not for the Jewish population, presumably, is what he means).

In over 60 years, around 700 Jewish communities have been established in Israel’s pre-1967 borders – but just seven for Arab citizens (and those were built in the Negev for ‘concentrating’ the Bedouin population). The average Palestinian community inside Israel has lost up to 75% of its land since 1948, while a quarter of all Palestinian citizens are internally displaced, their property confiscated for use by the state and Jewish towns.

An estimated 90,000 Palestinian citizens live in dozens of ‘unrecognised villages’, which suffer from home demolitions and a lack of basic infrastructure. Israeli officials openly talk of ‘Judaizing’ areas and tackling the ‘threat’ posed by non-Jewish citizens. Residency in 70% of Israeli towns is managed by committees that filter out those deemed ‘unsuitable’ for the ‘social fabric’.

These are just a few examples of what Professor Oren Yiftachel has described as an “ethnocracy“:

Despite declaring the regime as democratic, ethnicity (and not territorial citizenship) is the main determinant of the allocation of rights, powers, and resource … [and] the logic of ethnic segregation is diffused into the social and political system.

In addition, all of this is without commenting on how, for 45 of Israel’s 64 years, the Jewish state has military ruled over Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who do not even have the limited protection afforded by citizenship (while settling the territory with Jewish citizens).

As Israeli jurist and founding member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel Ruth Gavison put it, the Jewish state is

an enterprise in which the Arabs are not equal partners, in which their interests are placed below those of a different national group – most of whose members are newcomers to the land, and many of whom are not even living in the country.

Such honesty seems to elude Johnson, Walzer, and BICOM. It is encouraging that the Israel advocacy group feels forced to address the issue of Israel’s ‘democratic future’ – not least because, through the weakness of their arguments, they are unwittingly contributing to the growing understanding of what lies at the heart of the continued lack of a sustainable, just peace.

Posted by Ben White on 05 February 21, 2012 in New Statesman (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/02/jewish-state-citizens-israel)

Indian Artists divided over art show in Israel

Artists’ fraternity split wide open over art show in IsraelBy Saumit Singh
The Mumbai Mirror

An upcoming show in Tel Aviv, billed as the first major Indian art exhibit in Israel, has assumed shades a full-blown controversy that has split the artist fraternity.

Some Indian artists, who are sympathetic towards the cause of Palestine, have decided to skip the event and have called for a “cultural boycott of Israel”. Other invitees, however, have criticised this approach, saying art should not be mixed with politics.

The person leading the call for a boycott of the event, Deconstructing India, is 55-year-old Pushpamala N. She is among the 20-odd art figures invited to participate in the show, which will be held at the newly constructed Amir Wing of the Tel Aviv Museum in April 2012.

Pushpamala, a Bangalore-based photo artist, first dashed off a mail to the show’s curator, Tami Katz-Freiman, declining the invite. She then launched a signature campaign to show support for a Palestinian civil society movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with the international law and respects Palestinian rights.

English novelist and art critic John Berger and author-activist Arundhati Roy are among the world-renowned names backing the call for a cultural boycott.

In her mail, which has been widely circulated among Indian artists and galleries, Pushpmala has highlighted the efforts of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). “If we exhibit in this show we will be legitimising the racist and apartheid policies of the Israeli Government,” she has stated.

A section of Indian artists, including Tushar Joag, holds a similar view. “We are in the process of collecting signatures. I already have the backing of five participating artists and some more have expressed solidarity. Some artists are travelling, so I am just waiting to get a revert from them. I plan to issue a press statement in a few days,” Pushpamala told Mumbai Mirror.

Art critic Girish Shahane and senior artist Laxman Shreshta, however, are opposed to such an approach.

“If we start boycotting museum shows because of bad things governments are doing, where will it end? Why should Indian artists exhibit in China, when the regime there has been responsible for horrendous massacres and continues to deny basic freedom of expression to its citizens?” Girish has stated. “Associating art institutions and centres of learning, even state-funded ones, so closely with state policy is a silly mistake in my opinion, and tokenism of the worst kind as well.”

Shreshta said that there was no need to mix politics with arts. “It’s like the case of the rebel without a cause. I would not support Pushpamala at all. If India artists have been invited for this interesting exhibition, they should go there and show the world what they are doing,” he said.

Atul Dodiya made a similar point. “Any country which commits atrocities should be roundly condemned. But while even artists have political viewpoints, art itself cannot be a political tool. It is a means to create bonds, not break them. That is why even with Pakistan, we continue to maintain cultural relations. So why not Israel?”

Sudarshan Shetty, who has been invited to the show in Tel Aviv, feels boycotting the event would not serve any purpose. “I don’t have any fresh work to show there, so the curator is arranging for some earlier works of mine from private collectors. I will be participating, though I am still to figure whether others plan to,” he said. “I don’t think boycotting the show is a solution. You can instead use that opportunity to express your view. There are problems in almost every country, including India – so should we completely stop exhibiting our art?”

Other invitees are Ravi Agarwal, Atul Bhalla, Anita Dube, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Ranbir Kaleka, Jitish Kallat, Riyas Komu, TV Santhosh, Hema Upadhyay and Lochan Upadhyay. They may be forced to take a stand over the issue as the entire list of participants has been made public.

From http://www.mumbaimirror.com/

Uddari fully supports the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and the Indian artists who are boycotting the Tel Aviv art show in 2012.
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Israeli Parliament Moves Forward With ‘Inquest’ Into Human Rights Groups

PM Opposes New Measure, Sparking Anger Among Allies
By Jason Ditz
July 17, 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to efforts to launch of formal inquest into Israeli human rights groups seen as antagonistic to the current coalition government’s policies does not appear to be stalling parliament, according to new reports today.

Rather, Yisrael Beiteinu MPs say that the effort will continue to move forward this week, and they expect to gather considerable support among the right-far-right coalition to do so. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the primary mover behind the effort, loudly lashed Netanyahu for his opposition.

“These are not leftist groups and they are not human rights groups. These are terrorist groups,” insisted Lieberman. The groups singled out as “terrorist” gorups include Yesh Din, which provides legal aid to Palestinian detainees and includes a number of former officials, including former Attorney General Michael Ben Yair.

Also on the list is B’Tselem, an NGO led by intellectuals and journalists which collects data on human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories, and Machsom Watch, a group which monitors abuse among security forces at military checkpoints.

Though these were the first groups mentions, a number of MPs have made it clear that the opposition in general, and virtually any leftist NGO in Israel could be effected, with large anti-occupation groups like Peace Now being seen by many as the ultimate goal of the inquest.

Netanyahu’s argument against the inquest is primarily a pragmatic one, fearing that the new law allowing anti-boycott lawsuits to succeed without any proof is sufficient controversy for the nation to deal with in the near term. The efforts seem to be resonating with the far right, which sees any opposition to government policy as de facto “terrorism,” but is also riling up Israel’s normally ambivalent center, which is increasingly afraid that such bold moves against dissent are making the nation look embarrassingly draconian internationally.

http://news.antiwar.com/
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