HJfP Newsletter 34: 01 – 15 February 2016

Action

Please join our protest against the abuse of children in Israeli prisons

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

We are writing to ask those of you who live outside Israel/Palestine to send a card, or a postcard, to Amro Arar, a 15 year old boy who is currently detained in an Israeli prison in the Occupied West Bank. The address to send it to is:
Amro Arar, Ofer Prison, c/o The Ministry of Public Security, P.O. Box 18182, Jerusalem 91181  ISRAEL (£1.33 air mail postage from the UK)

We are requesting that the card you send is age appropriate and without political messages, letting him know that we are aware of what has happened to him and that we are thinking of him; that he’s not forgotten.
In this way, we want to show the Israeli authorities that we know not just about Amro, but all the other children incarcerated under Israel’s oppressive system of military law; that Amro and the others in his terrible situation have friends who know what is happening. Below we explain why we want you to do this.

Amro’s father, Riad Arar, is a colleague, trained in social work, psychology and counselling supervision. He is Director of Child Protection & Social Mobilisation at Defence for Children International Palestine, supporting young people faced with the impact of the Israeli Occupation. At the recent conference on Trauma and Resilience, at Kingston University, Riad delivered a paper on his work engaging children as researchers in their own experiences under Occupation, moving them “from passive victims to agents of change”.

On 5th January 2016 Riad emailed to inform us that Israeli soldiers had launched a night-time raid on his home in the beleaguered city of Hebron. They took the 15 year old Amro away with them. Amro was initially held in an illegal settlement near Bethlehem, Ghosh Iteyoun, and then moved to Ofer Prison.

Riad went to the military court at Ofer on Sunday 10th January. Amro told his father that the Israeli soldiers had “bitten him in his nose and threaten him through the investigation to force him to convince (confess) and they told him if you are not convene (confess) we are planning to arrest you and your father and your brothers”. The soldiers also threatened to spread the rumour that he was a collaborator. Under this physical and emotional abuse, and in order to protect his family, Amro ‘confessed’ to throwing two stones. Amro is still in prison, waiting for a court hearing that has been postponed until 8th February.

Riad described the scene when Amro was remanded in custody, in the military court at Ofer: “I saw him in the cage with other 4 children … (he seems too young and small a child) when he saw me in the beginning he smiled but when I tried to leave after 5 minutes, his tears so hard and hot”.

Amro’s experience is not unique, far from it. Each year around 700 children face similar treatment. Recently, a secretly filmed video showed the IDF’s brutal ‘interviewing’ of a 13 year old boy, Ahmed Manasra. There have been other documentaries exposing the abuse of youngsters by these military courts, such as the Australian film Stone Cold Justice (https://vimeo.com/86575949), and the film ‘The Law in These Parts’. Many reports have been published, some listed below this letter. Jewish Israeli children, even those living in the same city, are processed under a completely different legal system, one which – like ours – extends protections to avoid the abuse of minors (see below).

But while the world turns a blind eye, there is no pressure on Israel to end this shameful situation.
So, could you please send a card to let Amro know he’s not forgotten, but also to show his captors that Amro and the others in his terrible situation have friends who know what they are doing.  The point of our action is to bring attention, citing Amro’s example, to the assaults on and abuse of children taking place in a planned and systematic way in the Occupied Territories (see further information below).
Best wishes,

Teresa Bailey, Chris van Duuren, Martin Kemp, Eliana Pinto, Cathy Troupp, Adrian Worrall

• At the end of October, 2015, 307 Palestinian children were imprisoned in the Israeli military detention system, an increase of 79.5% from September, according to Israel Prison Service (IPS) data. (1)

• This is the largest number of Palestinian child detainees in Israeli military detention since April 2010. Nearly 60% were held in prisons inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of an occupying power.

• Palestinian children are subject to the Israeli military courts, while Jewish Israeli children living in the same city are subject to the civilian legal system. To illustrate the difference: The maximum period of detention before being brought before a judge for a Palestinian child is 8 days; for an Israeli child, it is 12-24 hours. The maximum period of detention without access to a lawyer for a Palestinian child is 90 days; for an Israeli child, it is 48 hours. (2) The maximum period of detention without charge for a Palestinian child is 188 days; for an Israeli child it is 40 days. (3) The maximum period of detention between being charged and conclusion of trial for a Palestinian child is 2 years; for an Israeli child it is 6 months.

On November 3, 2015, the Knesset passed a series of amendments to the Israeli penal code and youth law. They imposed 10-year prison sentences for throwing stones or other objects at moving vehicles with the possibility of endangering passengers or causing damage. Those convicted of throwing stones with the purpose of harming others would receive double the sentence. The latest bill, approved by the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation, proposes custodial sentences for children, as young as 12, convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” violent offences under Israel’s civilian legal system. The actual serving of sentences would be deferred until the child reaches the age of 14. (1.)

References
1.December 16th 2015: Defence for Children, International, Palestine, “Child prisoners swell in numbers amid reports of poor jail conditions”.
2. For security offences the maximum period is 21 days.
3. To continue detention over 30 days before charge requires the approval of the Attorney

FURTHER GENERAL REPORTS

Our mailing address is:
UK Palestine Mental Health Network
19 High St
Deal, Kent CT14 7AA
United Kingdom

Please can you send a postcard to the 15 year old boy in prison? He has admitted to throwing 2 stones after being threatened with having his father and brothers imprisoned….and threatened with being slandered as a collaborator.

Events

World Check article

An article published this afternoon reveals that the organisation ‘World Check’ has labelled a number of respected organisations and individuals as ‘terrorist’ – including PSC.  The article is critical of World Check’s designation, policy and procedures.

This designation by World Check is clearly an unacceptable defamation against a peaceful and lawful organisation, and PSC is investigating and challenging this.

Background
World Check is a Thompsons-Reuters ‘due-diligence system’ of ‘Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs)’ and claims to help identify and manage financial, regulatory and reputational risk.

The creation of the database was in response to legislation aimed at reducing the incidence of financial crimes. Now it is used beyond the financial sector to include organisations from all sectors.

An article, published in Vice, reveals that since 1st December 2015 PSC has been designated by World Check as a terrorist organisation, you can read the full article here

The article is positive about PSC (serving as an expose on World Check) but it is likely to be picked up by opponents and so PSC expect to see negative articles emerge.

What are PSC doing?
PSC takes this potentially damaging allegation very seriously. In response PSC is:
–       Consulting with our legal team to put together a plan of action to challenge this designation
–       Proactively seeking positive reporting of the story and seeking to challenge negative / inaccurate reporting of this story
–       Communicating with key stakeholders and partners

What we are saying
·         PSC is taking legal advice about this decision
·         The accusation is defamatory and an attack on democracy
·         PSC operates legally within the UK as a campaigning organisation
·         PSC is part of the UK democratic tradition of giving a voice to the disempowered
·         World Check has never contacted PSC about these allegations or given PSC the opportunity to provide evidence to refute them

PSC press release
www.palestinecampaign.org/psc-worldcheck-statement/

Statement from PSC’s legal team:
Ravi Naik of ITN Solicitors said: “Basic fairness requires an individual or organisation to know that they may be labelled in such a damaging manner, to enable them to make representations, correct misleading information and to improve the quality of the information being used. As it is, the revelations regarding World Check suggest that the decisions have been based on material that is unverified and has resulted in the pejorative use of that data in ways that may have unjustified adverse effects”
Source:  PSC, 04.02.2016

APJPO-EuroPalestine du 11/2/2016 (English translation)

That was great to read this well constructed article, and great to see your determination to defy, discredit, and defeat such an outrageous law.  Do doubt the Zionists with their ruling class support will want to extend that law to many other countries with strong Zionist lobby groups.

Dear friends,
Under the pressure of the Israeli lobby, that tries to take advantage of the general climate of repression after the November attacks in France, the French government is announcing more sanctions against BDS activists, and now the « Socialist executives » in the Paris Council have made a request to get a vote condemning not only the call for the boycott of Israel but the boycott of Israel itself !

This is a proof of the progress of the international BDS campaign, and we won’t stop our campaign, on the contrary, as you can see on this short video (3’) of our latest action in a Paris supermarket (to get English subtitles, click on ‘captions’ on youtube) :
http://www.europalestine.com/spip.php?article11479

Here is our answer to these Paris Socialist Party elected representatives and you will find below their request.

BDS : our reply to the Socialist Party

There follows the press release from CAPJPO EuroPalestine concerning the “request” filed by elected officials of the Socialist Party of the City of Paris, demanding that the boycott of Israel be proscribed.

PRESS RELEASE:
BDS : our reply to the Socialist Party (SP)
After the Republicans, it’s the turn of the SP to ask the City of Paris to outlaw the boycott of Israel. Unsurprising, one might say, given the conduct of the SP leaders in government who constantly condone the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation. While producing a text in which any hint of occupation or colonization is omitted: where occupiers and occupied are placed on the same level. Not a single word about the illegality of the oppression Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians for decades, or the land theft, the continual massacres, and the imprisonment and torture of children.

No matter for the PS if  Israel has continuously flouted UN resolutions and the Geneva Conventions. No matter that the UN Rapporteur resigned last month because Israel has never allowed him to enter the occupied Palestinian territories. No matter that an all-conquering army plus 600,000 settlers have a free hand to kill, imprison, demolish homes, uproot olive trees, and drive the Palestinians from what little land they have left.

The SP issues a “request” for “a so-called solution of two states for two peoples.” What hypocrisy! In which land, in their opinion, will it be possible to find Palestine, when Israel annexes more land daily without them lifting a finger? They who are so quick to go to war against other countries.

And they expect citizens stop boycotting Israel under such circumstances?  In its “request”, the SP asks the City of Paris to “outlaw the boycott of Israel.” But how? How will the SP compel consumers to purchase products exported by Israel from the colonies and land stolen from the Palestinians, when it does not even require from Israel the labelling of this produce according to its true origin?

How can it hope to force us, even if this “request” is accepted, to buy drugs from the Israeli TEVA laboratory, which annually pays hundreds of millions to the benefit of the Israeli occupation army? Everyone is free to buy the generic drugs of their choice, right?

How does it intend to compel citizens to see shows or sports teams that come to France as representatives of a criminal state? Will the SP pass a law saying it is now compulsory to eat Israeli, and enjoy things coming from a country which burns Palestinian babies alive, or systematically tortures Palestinian children, or prevents Palestinian artists and athletes from travelling or practicing their profession? And maybe also pass another law saying that you can call for a boycott of any country in the world (as Mme Aubry has for Mexico, or M. Bernard-Henry Lévy has for China and Corsica) … except Israel? Meanwhile, François Hollande will continue to go and pray at the tomb of Gandhi, the apostle of the boycott?

A decision by the French Supreme Court, on 20 October 2015, condemned the action of BDS activists from Mulhouse in a bewildering judgment, where oranges and sweet potatoes were treated as discriminated persons. A scandalous judgment reinterpreting a law designed to protect individuals seeking employment or housing against discrimination because of their “race, ethnicity, religion or nationality.” One magistrate’s union « Syndicat de la Magistrature » has described this as a « Judiciary criminal attack” and many courts in France have refused to condemn BDS activists. This includes prosecutors who have chosen to disobey the inept orders of their superiors, including the same Supreme Court which has been vainly referred to many times by the government and the Israeli lobby.

So stop lying by saying that the boycott is “illegal” in France! First vote a law saying that only the boycott of Israel is illegal, before trying to con people! Even US officials, who like so much to please Israel, have been shocked to learn that the French state represses calls for a peaceful boycott by its citizens.

You can do nothing against the irresistible rise of the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) while you refuse to apply sanctions, while you mock your own laws and regulations. You ignored the vote in the European parliament which voted by a majority in April 2002, for the suspension of the trade agreement with Israel as long as that country does not respect human rights. Just like you ignored the judgment of the international Court of Justice which in July 2005 requested the dismantling of the Israeli wall and settlements built on Palestinian land, because of their illegality.

We recall the saying of Gandhi about British imperialism when he called for a boycott: “At first they ignore us, then they mock us, then they fight us, and finally we win.”

CAPJPO-EuroPalestine

Here is the ” wish from the Socialist MPs, addressed to the Council of Paris concerning the condemnation of the boycott of Israel and the promotion of peace between Israelis and Palestinians ” :
Given that the City of Paris and the Mayor of Paris have constantly asserted their opposition to the Israel Boycott Movement and also their commitment to promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, based on the solution described as “Two Peoples, Two States”;
Given that the call for the Israel boycott has also been declared illegal through a decision by the Court of Criminal Appeal on 20 October 2015, which confirms the previous test case;
Given that the Israeli Boycott actions, though illegal, are on the increase in France and throughout the world, under the banner of the collective, “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS);
Given that, apart from calls for the boycott of Israeli products, BDS constantly calls for the boycott of any kind of exchange or dealings with Israel, especially in the area of cultural exchanges which are, in essence, conveyors of peace and tolerance;
Given that, after the calls for boycott by the American singer Matisyahu in August 2015, some rallies were held from 4 to 9 December 2015, aimed at calling for the boycott of an Israeli contemporary dance company performing at Opéra Garnier;
Given that, contrary to calling for a boycott, the City of Paris means to build bridges equally with Israeli and Palestinian towns, within the framework of economic, cultural and technical cooperation, in Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv or Haifa;
Given that, in November 2014, the Council of Paris offered a positive response to two wishes of the executive, concerning the recognition of Palestine as well as the increase of our relations with Israeli towns;
Given that, as a follow-up to these wishes, the City of Paris organised a trip to Israel and Palestine and, on this occasion, a friendship agreement was signed in Jerusalem in partnership with the towns and villages of Israel;
Given that, in 2015, the City of Paris concluded innovative agreements with the Tel-Aviv and Ramallah start-up incubators;
Given that the City of Paris has never ceased to assert its support for the solution of two states living side by side in security, which means recognising unambiguously the legitimacy of the Israeli and Palestinian national aspirations;
At the suggestion of the executive, the Council of Paris expresses its wish that City of Paris will:
Condemn the boycott against Israel;
Condemn the calls for boycott relayed during rallies in the Paris public space;
Publicly oppose all attempts to isolate Israel from the chorus of nations, and reassert its commitment to promote a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, realised through the peaceful coexistence between two states in secure and recognised frontiers;
Continue and strengthen its relations with Israeli and Palestinian towns in all areas of public and municipal policies.

CAPJPO-EuroPalestine
http://www.europalestine.com

Israeli minister: After Abbas, there will be no more Palestinian Authority

Zeev Elkin, Israel’s minister of Jerusalem affairs and immigrant absorption, began his political career in late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s party before deserting Kadima for the Likud in 2008. He is currently a member of the diplomatic-security Cabinet and one of the most incisive thinkers of the Likud and the entire Israeli political system. Elkin is a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and viewed as one of Netanyahu’s most faithful and effective political operators, though tension has recently been detected between the two. Elkin also enjoys good contacts with Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli right’s most uncompromising opposition to the current government.

Elkin was born in Ukraine, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Kharkiv University and then immigrated to Israel in 1990. He earned a master’s degree in Jewish history from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. As a skilled Israeli politician, Elkin is affiliated with the ideological right, but he is also equipped with an open mind. Elkin holds diverse and sometimes surprising views, but unlike many others he does not hesitate to express his opinions. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Elkin prophesized, “It will not be long until the Palestinian Authority is no longer.”

The rest of the interview follows:

Al-Monitor:  Minister Elkin, what do you mean by “not that long,” and why are you so sure that the Palestinian Authority will disappear?

Elkin:  It could happen in a month or in a year. And I am not referring to the option that President Mahmoud Abbas will retire; enough has already been said about that. I think that the Palestinian Authority will simply cease to exist.

Al-Monitor:  How did you reach that conclusion?

Elkin:  [Palestine Liberation Organization leader] Yasser Arafat had Abbas, but Abbas does not have an Abbas No. 2. He did not groom a successor, and in my opinion no one can fill his shoes. There is no one we can point to as a sure-fire successor or even a leading candidate for the job. What we are looking at is a personal as well as a social-historical process. We are seeing the total destruction of the Arab world’s hierarchical structure. It began with the phenomenon nicknamed the Arab Spring throughout the Middle East; now it is reaching the Palestinians. For the time being, they are turning their energies against us. That is to be expected. But if they didn’t have Israel, they would be working against Abbas.

Al-Monitor:  If they are acting against us and not Abbas, then why do you think the Palestinian Authority will disappear?

Elkin:  Because Abbas is 82 years old. He is not so young and not so healthy, and his popularity is in the dumps. It’s clear that he is nearing the end of his political career for one reason or another. He can’t put the blame on anyone else for that, because he was the one who started saying he’s reached the end of the road and thought out loud about retiring. After all his threats about retiring, he created a buzz on the subject and now people expect it to take place at some point. The problem is that he will leave a vacuum, which will breed chaos. If he had a clear, obvious successor, it would be a different story altogether. But there is no one.

Al-Monitor:  So what will the day-after-Abbas scenario look like, in your opinion?

Elkin:  Unfortunately, it will look bad. There are many destructive forces that will circulate on the ground with very harsh ramifications in the short term. Securitywise it will be very challenging, mainly with regard to the Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria. Unfortunately we are ignoring this possibility, not preparing for it, unwilling to accept the reality and refusing to read the writing on the wall. We aren’t internalizing it; we just keep hoping that what we want to happen will come to pass. But life isn’t always like that.

Al-Monitor:  Nevertheless, something has to happen after Abbas is gone. What will the territory look like then?

Elkin:  I reckon that there will be a form of anarchy and power struggles between different gangs. Local militias will form. This can go on for a long time, but meanwhile, governability will weaken greatly and the central government will crumble. That will be very dangerous.

Al-Monitor:  Do you think there’s a chance that Hamas will seize control over the West Bank, as it did in Gaza?

Elkin:  Yes. But that’s one thing that Israel can’t accept. We won’t allow a Hamastan to rise in Judea and Samaria under any circumstances.

Al-Monitor:  Is this scenario certain, in your opinion?

Elkin:  Nothing is certain in the Middle East, but I feel that the odds are very low that the Palestinian Authority, as we know it today, will survive over time. Its demise can take place in another year; it can also happen later on, but ultimately it will come to pass. This will have many repercussions, and Israel must begin to prepare for them.

Al-Monitor:  What turns you into such a pessimist on this specific issue?

Elkin:  We tend to believe that what was true in the past will hold true in the future. It is the human inclination to view ongoing situations as eternal, and then at the end we are caught by surprise. I am a “graduate” of the dismantling of the Soviet Union, and I was traumatized by that. At the time, it also seemed to us that the “Soviet Empire” was something stable and perpetual, but then it became clear to us that it was brittle, fragile and fleeting. The condition of the Palestinian Authority is far worse than that of the Soviet Union on the eve of its collapse.

Al-Monitor:  Earlier, you talked about security-related challenges. What did you mean by that?

Elkin:  Our entire discourse on the subject of terror must change. This structure that we’ve become accustomed to — of the organized security apparatus in the Palestinian Authority, of one law system and one set of weapons — all this can go up in smoke. I compare the situation to a pressure cooker filled with water that reaches the boiling point. We try to deal with the scalding water that boils over by placing a cover over the pot, but that won’t help. Instead, we need to turn down or extinguish the fire. That is a simple law of physics.

Al-Monitor:  How can that be done?

Elkin:  Regrettably, it can’t be done now. We are looking at a regional phenomenon that is crushing the entire Middle East and is not skipping over us. We cannot turn the clock back and make Abbas 30 years younger, and we cannot invent a successor to our liking. It doesn’t work that way. Almost all the regimes in the Arab world are feeling the frustration and fury of their citizens, mainly the youths. In the Palestinian Authority, parts of this frustration and fury are directed at Israel, and from this point of view we are an asset for Abbas and we are saving him. But as I said before, this won’t go on for long. Ultimately, he will also pay the price.

Al-Monitor:  So what should we do now?

Elkin:  We should be making preparations. Sadly, we and the Americans are currently working with the idea that it will survive forever, and we are focusing our efforts on resuscitating a dying body. We have to change our tactics and internalize the fact that an era is coming to an end. We have to ask ourselves: How will we live and function on the day after, in the new period? I admit that there’s a chance it won’t happen, but the odds are very high. We need to have a plan, and at the moment we don’t have any at all.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/02/knesset-zeev-elkin-mahmoud-abbas-palestinian-authority.html
Source:   Ben Caspit, Al Monitor, 10 February 2016

Palestine meeting at UK parliament cancelled after lobby pressure

Labour Friends of Palestine has cancelled a meeting in parliament featuring veteran Palestinian British journalist Abdel Bari Atwan.  The cancelation was made after the group came under pressure from Labour Friends of Israel, a separate group inside the party. Legislators had been due to hear from Palestinian students over Skype.  Atwan had been invited to chair the meeting, which was scheduled for Tuesday evening. After a pro-Israel paper complained about the invitation, Labour Friends of Palestine told The Electronic Intifada Monday it would find a different chair.  But on Tuesday, Atwan was told the meeting had been canceled altogether. Palestinian co-organisers of the meeting had promised to turn up and insist Atwan chair the meeting regardless of his replacement.

Atwan slammed the move as a capitulation to the Israel lobby. “This is not the Labour Friends of Palestine, it’s the Labour Friends of Israel,” he told The Electronic Intifada.  Atwan had been jointly booked as chair by Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East and GUPS, the General Union of Palestinian Students.  The event was planned as a “briefing for MPs [members of Parliament] to hear directly from four young Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon/Syria – live via Skype.”  Update: Labour Friends of Palestine told The Electronic Intifada after publication of this article that the event was “postponed not cancelled” and would be rescheduled with a different chair.

Labour Friends of Palestine denied that Israel lobby pressure had been behind their move to replace Atwan. Director William Brown said on Monday that it was down to “controversial” statements Atwan had made in the past.  But it is clear an Israel lobby group has been campaigning for Atwan to be disinvited.  Labour Friends of Israel used a report in the Jewish Chronicle on Friday to call for the meeting to be cancelled.

Brown said that Labour Friends of Palestine would not be responding to a letter Labour Friends of Israel had sent them and did not want to be “jumping to their tune.” But he said that Atwan should not have been invited to chair the meeting in the first place.
Brown said it was down to an oversight on his part, since his group did not want controversy over Atwan to overshadow the message Palestinian students wanted to bring to lawmakers.  Brown argued that the coalition-building nature of parliamentary work for Palestine meant minimising controversy. He said that Atwan would still be welcome to attend the event and speak from the floor, but not to chair.
Source: EuroPal Forum, 03.02.2016

Academic boycott of Israel takes off in Italy

There have been major breakthroughs in Italy for the campaign to boycott Israeli academic institutions. More than 200 academics from 50 Italian universities have signed a call for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions until Israel complies with international law.  This is the first time a significant number of Italian academics have taken a public stand in support of the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

The move comes just months after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi lashed out at the BDS movement as “stupid and futile” in a speech to the Israeli parliament.  The Italian scholars join more than 1,500 of their colleagues in the United Kingdom, Belgium, South Africa, Ireland and Brazil who have endorsed similar pledges in recent months.  The scholars endorsing the Italian call, which echoes the pledge signed by UK academics last October, are committing to refuse invitations from Israeli academic institutions and not to act as referees or participate in conferences funded, organized or sponsored by Israeli institutions.

Consistent with the guidelines set out by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which targets institutions not individuals, the academics clarify that they will “continue to work and cooperate with [their] Israeli colleagues individually.”  They also reiterate the anti-racist nature of the boycott campaign.
“I signed because I consider BDS to be of utmost importance. It has demonstrated its ability to have an impact and obtain results,” Patrizia Manduchi, associate professor at the University of Cagliari, told The Electronic Intifada.

“This will be an essential tool in raising awareness among the academic community, who often simply do not know what is happening.”  A professor of history, Manduchi also stressed the importance of “studying the historical record, the origins and evolution of the conflict, which are often forgotten.” She added that “history teaches us.”  Andrea Domenici, an assistant professor in computer engineering, told The Electronic Intifada, “I believe that those who have the privilege of a university education and of working as a researcher have responsibilities toward human society, and among them is a duty not to collaborate with institutions participating in systems of oppression.”

The call is also focused on ending ties between Italian universities and Technion, the Haifa-based Israeli technical university.  According to research done by the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine, Technion is slated to receive more than $18 million in European funding under the EU Horizon 2020 research program.  While all Israeli academic institutions play an integral role in developing and perpetuating Israeli policies that deny Palestinians their fundamental rights, Technion was chosen as a focus due to its involvement “more than any other university in the Israeli military-industrial complex.”

Technion boasts “exceptionally close ties” with the Israeli defense ministry and military as well as the country’s top weapons producers, including Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Elbit Systems.  The boycott call notes that Elbit Systems “manufactures the drones used by the Israeli army to fire on civilians in Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza in 2008–2009 and in 2014.”  According to a report by Defense for Children International-Palestine, Israeli forces “directly targeted children” in Gaza, where 164 children were killed by drone-fired missiles in the summer 2014 attacks.  Elbit Systems is destined to become Israel’s largest weapons producer as the only bidder in the running for the purchase of Israel Military Industries as part of a privatization plan. The acquisition would add advanced rockets, airborne bombs and precision multi-purpose tank shells to Elbit’s already deadly product range.

Examples of Technion students being groomed for and hired by Israel’s weapons industry and military abound.  These include campus job fairs, joint academic programs, scholarships, projects and research centres and even family and recruitment days sponsored by the military and weapons companies.  Last year, Technion developed a program tailored for professionals interested in developing Israel’s defence exports industry, where, according to one of the lecturers, “the sky is the limit.”  The Italian scholars urge their colleagues to suspend “all forms of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Technion.”  Eight Italian universities currently have cooperation agreements with Technion, including in Turin, Milan, Florence, Perugia, Rome and Cagliari.

A 2005 military cooperation agreement between Italy and Israel provides for research and development of weapons systems and commits each country to “encourage their industries to search for projects and equipment with mutual interest for both Parties.”  The academics’ pledge also urges student associations to join the campaign to suspend agreements between Technion and Italian universities. Students have been doing just that.  Last October, students and workers at the University of Turin and Turin’s Polytechnic, which both have agreements with Technion, organized protests during a two-day event featuring Technion aimed at “exploring new areas of collaboration to strengthen the cooperation” between the universities.

On the Italian island of Sardinia, a number of student groups and associations launched a petition calling for the suspension of “all cooperation agreements” between the University of Cagliari and Israeli academic institutions, in particular Technion.  Roberto Vacca, an organizer with the student union UniCa 2.0, told The Electronic Intifada, “Today we’re relaunching our efforts for an immediate end to these cooperation agreements so that our city and our university are not complicit in the horrors perpetrated on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government and institutions.”  Progetto Palestina, a Turin student group, told The Electronic Intifada, “We’re convinced that organizing academic boycott campaigns is crucial because Israeli universities are far from independent apolitical subjects but rather are perfectly integrated and involved in the state policies that oppress Palestinians on a daily basis.”

In yet another Italian first, the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies will host a panel discussion in mid-March on the BDS movement and academic boycott campaigns.  Panel coordinator and independent researcher Enrico Bartolomei told The Electronic Intifada he sees this Sicily-based event, along with the academics’ pledge, as reversing a trend.  “Despite increasing support on campuses and among professional organizations worldwide for endorsement of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, academics in Italy have remained largely silent or set up even wider collaboration with Israeli institutions closely linked to Israel’s military-industrial complex and complicit in violations of international law and Palestinian rights,” Bartolomei said.

Bartolomei notes this “marks the first time an Italian academic association will openly discuss the BDS and PACBI campaigns.”
The academics’ pledge states that Israel’s vast military-industrial complex “largely depends on the willingness of governments, companies and research centers around the world to collaborate with universities and research centers in Israel.”  Italian scholars and students are working to raise awareness – and to turn that willingness into a liability in order to convince institutions to sever their ties.
Source: EuroPal Forum, 03.02.2016

‘Don’t shoot the messenger,’ Ban fires back at Israeli criticism

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israeli criticism of attacks on its settlement policy unsustainable in an opinion piece published Sunday by The New York Times, doubling down on comments earlier in the week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said encouraged terrorism.  In the piece entitled, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel,” Ban reiterates many of his earlier comments to Security Council Tuesday, calling Israeli settlement activity “an affront to the Palestinian people,” adding that “it is human nature to resist occupation.”  He also called for a freeze on settlement activity, which most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal or illegitimate.

“Criticism of the United Nations — or attacks against me — comes with the territory. But when heartfelt concerns about shortsighted or morally damaging policies emanate from so many sources, including Israel’s closest friends, it cannot be sustainable to keep lashing out at every well-intentioned critic,” Ban wrote.  Ban’s criticism was sparked by Israel’s recent approval of 150 new homes in settlements on the West Bank.  In the opinion piece, Ban also pointed out that last month Israel declared 370 acres in the West Bank, “state land,” which he said “typically leads to exclusive settler use.”

“In Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, 2016 has begun much as 2015 ended — with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse,” Ban began in his piece.  “That polarization showed itself in the halls of the United Nations last week when I pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation,” he said, restating what he had said in his speech last week.  “The stabbings, vehicle rammings and other attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians are reprehensible. So, too, are the incitement of violence and the glorification of killers. Nothing excuses terrorism.”

According to Ban, his statements last week were an attempt explain the “frustration and grievances” that Palestinians in the West Bank feel, and according to the UN chief, “ignoring this won’t make it go away.”  Ban also criticized Israel’s expanding of “illegal” settlements, saying that this continued policy leads Palestinians to “lose hope on what seems to be a harsh, humiliating and endless occupation.”  He said that a lasting agreement between Israelis and Palestinians will require “difficult compromises by leaders and peoples on both sides,” and said that any agreement must require “significant shifts in policies toward the West Bank and Gaza, while safeguarding Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”  — Agencies
Source: EuroPal Forum, 02.02.2016

The power keg that is East Jerusalem. By: Colin Campbel

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve never been to an Arab country in the winter before. Or if I was brainwashed as a kid into thinking the Middle East must be hot all the time. Whatever, there’s something very incongruous standing in a main street in Amman looking at lots of colourful Arabic shop signs whilst buttoning an overcoat against cold, wet sleet. I’m here on a parliamentary delegation funded by the Palestinian Committee of the Jordanian Parliament. Both our hosts and the weather have gone out of their way to make us feel at home: it’s dreich and miserable, worthy of Scotland at its worst.

We have an action packed itinerary with no time for sightseeing. Our three day trip involves meetings with MPs, senators, academics and the King himself. We talk generally about the plight of the Palestinians, 2.2 million of which are refugees in Jordan, and specifically about the holy sites in East Jerusalem.

Jordan is one of only two Middle Eastern countries which has a peace treaty with – and recognises – Israel. King Abdullah II and his senior advisors are English educated, well read, suave and sincere. Yet these mild mannered men are being driven to the edge of reason by the actions of the Israeli government.  Their frustration is compounded by the Israel-Palestine situation having dropped down the international agenda as the region is torn apart by conflict and civil war elsewhere. In the 80s, one senior diplomat explained, Palestine was number one for the Arab nations – now it ranks between five and seven, depending which wars a state is involved in.

Jordan cannot deprioritise. It is physically connected to the occupied West Bank; indeed, it was part of Jordan before the Israeli occupation in 1967. Moreover under the treaty with the Israelis – backed by international law – the King has a mandate to be the custodian of the holy sites in East Jerusalem. Chief amongst these is the Al -Aqsa mosque, an area of 144,000 square metres in the centre of the old town dominated by the gold clad Dome of the Rock.  It is hard to overstate the importance of Al-Aqsa to Muslims. It is the third most holy site in the Islamic world; the place where Muhammed is said to have travelled from Mecca and ascended into heaven. The Quran instructs all Muslims to defend Al-Aqsa with their lives.

In a sense the Israeli government acknowledges just how important Al-Aqsa is. The fact that they did a deal with Jordan to manage the site, even though they were in military occupation of the city around it would indicate some appreciation of its significance.  But as with so many aspects of life in Palestine, it is the occupation itself which is at the heart of the problem. Jordan has security guards on site, but they operate within a perimeter controlled by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). And in recent years the on the ground actions of the IDF have been anything but respectful of the reverence in which Muslims hold this place.

Extremist settlers have been allowed, many would say assisted, in entering and occupying the mosque and using it to conduct Jewish ceremonies. The Israeli authorities now control both the number of Muslims who enter the mosque and the times they can do it.  Meanwhile to the annoyance of UNESCO, which declared Al-Aqsa a world heritage site in 1982, excavations and tunnelling under the mosque are feared to threaten the foundations, threatening collapse? These excavations, sanctioned and protected by the Israeli government, are searching for Jewish artefacts from before the eight century to sustain an argument that this was a Jewish religious site first and Jews should “reclaim” it from Muslims. In more than15 years of looking the archaeologists have yet to find anything at all which would evidence this claim.

All of this goes on as Israel continues the “Judaisation” of Jerusalem, with many in the government rejected the Oslo Accord and working towards a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This involves what one senior Jordanian called “ethnic cleansing without genocide”. Palestinians are evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem and new settlements built for Jewish settlers, many immigrating from across the world. Slowly it looks as if Israel is planning the encirclement of the Al-Aqsa site with settlements, many populated by Zionist extremists.

There are some Jewish extremists who would gladly see Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock razed to the ground. Indeed, you can buy postcards in West Jerusalem where it has been photo-shopped out of the skyline. The question is whether the Israeli government will stand up to these groups and respect this most holy of Islamic sites, or whether they will condone and protect them. At the moment it’s all going in the wrong direction. As one senior advisor to the King put it “we have our crazies and they have theirs, it’s just they won’t admit it”.  We met over fifty people in nine separate discussions in Jordan last week. To a man and women they were meticulous in their argument and reasonable in their presentation. But they left us in no doubt that East Jerusalem is a powder keg. If the Israelis set light to it we truly will not have seen anything yet.
Source: EuroPal Forum, 02.02.2016

Jewish settlement firm accused of forging ’14 out of 15′ West Bank land deals

An Israeli pro-settlement company has been accused of forging acquisitions relating to more than a dozen real estate deals in the West Bank. A Channel 10 program alleged that 14 of 15 land deals police examined were fraudulent.  The Israeli authorities have been trying to clear illegal Jewish outposts from the Binyamin region of the West Bank. These include settlements such as Migron and Givat Asaf, which have proved to be flashpoints between pro-Israeli settlers and Palestinians.  An investigative report by Channel 10, as cited by Haaretz claimed that officials from Al-Watan, a company run by Zeev Hever, who has been a key figure in the Israeli settlement movement, were responsible for the forged deals.

Al-Watan is a firm that operates under Amana, a settlement-building arm of the right-wing activist movement Gush Emunim. The investigation alleges that officials from Al-Watan would state they had purchased land from the owners who were Palestinian. However, the documents would more often than not prove to have been forged.  Al-Watan members used two Palestinian men who purchased the land after pretending to be the real landowners. They proved their identity and their claims by providing false documentation. Once they had bought the land, they would transfer it to Amana in a fake deal.  Haaretz cited the example of a man called Akram from the investigation, who spoke to Channel 10, explaining how the alleged fraud unfolded.

“I signed on many plots and lands.” Referring to the land upon which the outpost of Amana was established, he said: “I signed in Silwad,” referring to a West Bank Palestinian town northeast of Ramallah. “They told me there is land with such and such a number, and another plot with number … sign. I signed so many times for many lands. I made five or six deals.”

Akram added he took part in the deal because he was promised he would be helped to obtain a permit to live in Israel, where his children are based. However, he added this assistance had not been forthcoming.  Al-Watan vigorously denies the allegations made by Channel 10.
Source: EuroPal Forum, 02.02.2016

Israel demolishes more Palestinian homes in West Bank

Israeli forces Tuesday demolished more Palestinian residential buildings in the occupied West Bank, south of the city of al-Khalil (Hebron).   A civil rights NGO in the occupied Palestinian territories said a total of 24 structures in and around the village of Khirbet Jenbah were demolished.

Local witnesses said the Israelis arrived at about 7:00 a.m. local time. Nidal Younes, head of a local village council, said 12 Palestinian families and in total about 80 people were left homeless as a result of the demolition.  Human rights groups say the long campaign to relocate the Palestinians residing in the region is totally illegal due to the fact that Israel cannot establish a military zone on an occupied territory.  The residents, most of them cave-dwellers, argue that their ancestors have lived in the area since long before Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967.

Israeli officials confirmed that demolitions took place, claiming again that structures and solar panels built within a military zone were deemed illegal.  Later reports showed that Israel’s High Court ordered the razing operation to stop until at least February 9. The court had been arbitrating the case but talks between dwellers and the Israeli military broke up in recent days.  Sources in an NGO in the occupied territories said more than a thousand people could be affected by the new wave of demolitions of homes, as there are about 10 villages that could face similar actions.
Source: EuroPal Forum, 02.02.2016

‘Hares boys’ sentenced to 15 years after families pay fines

After a nearly three-year long battle in Israeli military courts, five Palestinian teens from the occupied West Bank village of Hares accused of manslaughter after reportedly throwing stones were on Thursday issued sentences of 15 years, a prisoners’ rights group said.  The case has been disputed in the past by relatives and rights groups, who say that insufficient evidence was provided to prove that the five had any involvement in the death of an Israeli toddler who passed away two years after the teens were accused of throwing stones at her mother’s vehicle, causing it to crash.

A lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Iyad Mahamid, told Ma’an that the military court issued the sentences to Muhammad Suleiman, Tamer Souf, Ammar Souf, Ali Shamlawi, and Muhammad Kleib.  Relatives of the detainees told Ma’an following a court hearing in December 2015 that the teens would be sentenced to prison terms of 15 years on the grounds that their families pay fines of 30,000 shekels ($7,700) by Jan. 28.

“Hares Boys,” an activist blog dedicated to raising awareness of the teens’ case, posted on their Facebook page “Free the Hares Boys” on Thursday that the families were able to pay the fines in full with the assistance of outside donations.  Failure to pay the fines could have resulted in prolonged sentencing to at least 25 years in prison, according to the Hares Boys blog.     Thursday sentencing marks a poor end to a drawn-out court battle that began after the five were detained by Israeli forces on March 15, 2013. All were 16 and 17 years old at the time of their detention.

Their arrest followed the hospitalisation of a three-year-old Israeli girl, Adele Biton, who suffered severe head injuries when her mother’s car collided with a truck near the Israeli mega-settlement of Ariel. The toddler died two years later after suffering complications from pneumonia.  The family believes that while the child died of pneumonia, the severity of her complications was due to injuries sustained after the vehicle accident, according to Israeli media.  The Israeli vehicle had reportedly lost control after being hit by a stone, and the five teens were later accused of throwing stones that day at vehicles driving on Route 5, a highway leading to several nearby Israeli settlements.

Twenty Israeli drivers afterwards filed insurance claims stating that stones hit their cars, but the incidents lacked eyewitness testimony and the police received no calls at the time the teens were throwing stones.   All five denied the allegations, but later signed confessions “after being repeatedly abused in prison and during interrogations,” according to the Hares Boys blog.   The mother of the toddler told Israeli media following Thursday’s sentencing: “It is not much consolation, we would have preferred [the] death [penalty] or life-sentencing. The state did not properly tend to the matter and it didn’t fully enforce the punishment to the fullest.”

The British Parliament on Thursday in response to an online public forum inquiry said an official from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv had met with Chief Military Prosecutor Maurice Hirsch in November to express its concern over the case of the Hares boys, adding that the government would continue to raise the case to Israeli authorities.  The teens’ families as well as rights groups have repeatedly argued over the past three years that the youth were being held without evidence and unjustly prosecuted in a military court system that convicts over 99 percent of Palestinians.

The Hares Boys blog wrote in their defence in 2013: “If the boys are convicted, this case would set a legal precedent which would allow the Israeli military to convict any Palestinian child or youngster for attempted murder in cases of stone-throwing.”  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September declared a “war on stone throwing,” establishing a minimum prison sentence for adults who throw stones as well as allowing Israeli forces to use sniper fire against stone throwers in circumstances that pose mortal danger.

The PM said at the time that there would be “significant fines” for minors who commit such offences, as well as for their parents.
The Knesset had already passed a law in July making penalties for stone-throwing more severe. The new law allowed for stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.  At the time the bill was passed, Palestinian MK Jamal Zahalka said: “Who will the judge send to prison? He who demolished the home, seized the land, killed the brother, or the boy who threw a stone?”
Source: EuroPal Forum, 02.02.2016

Members of the European Parliament urge President Schulz to clarify his position on labelling settlement products

Dozens of MEPs sent an open letter to Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, expressing their disbelief following his comments in the Israeli press opposing the EU guidelines on labelling settlement products adopted on 11 November 2015.

The letter, promoted by MEP Alyn Smith is calling on Martin Schulz to clarify “such unexpected and distressing statements”
“As you are well aware, the European Parliament has unequivocally expressed its support for the Labelling Guidelines, including in its latest resolution on the Middle East Peace Process, which was co-signed by all political groups last September ” – the letter reads.

“Notwithstanding the fact that you should represent the Parliament’s position, we do not understand your newly declared opinion based on your belief that the settlements are an economic benefit to Palestinians. We remind you that all Palestinian trade unions have welcomed the EU guidelines, as well as 550 leading Israeli figures including Israel’s Nobel Prize in economics, Daniel Kahneman. Israel’s occupation is estimated to cost the Palestinians 85% of their GDP, monopolising the bulk of Palestine’s land and water resources – the very point which you have had the courage to raise in front of the Knesset in February 2015, asking « why an Israeli can use 70 cubic litres of water daily and a Palestinian only 17″. We are well aware that the settlement enterprise is largely responsible for the high unemployment of Palestinians and for severely undermining Palestine’s economic base.” – the MEPs say.

Read the full letter

Palestinians call on Oscar nominees to reject Israel propaganda trip

Palestinian human rights activists are calling on Oscar nominees not to accept travel vouchers supplied by the Israeli government as part of the gift bag that will be given to the nominees in the acting and directing categories.  A statement from the Israeli ministry of tourism boasted that its initiative is a chance to have “leading opinion-formers” share their visit “among millions of fans and followers”.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said:

“There are no Hunger Games in Gaza but there is real hunger, and it is induced by years of Israeli occupation and siege. We hope Oscar nominees will take the moral path of rejecting this free propaganda gift from Capitol while its brutal troops and settlers burn and colonize our District 12.”

In 2012, it was revealed that Israel used “calorie count” to severely limit food supply to the 1.8 million Palestinian under siege in Gaza. A top advisor to Israel’s prime minister in 2006 said: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”  “Israel is desperately trying to fight its increasing international isolation through bribes and intimidation rather than by ending its occupation and apartheid.”  An increasing number of Israeli politicians and intellectuals have admitted that Israel is practicing apartheid against Palestinians. The publisher of Haaretz, a prominent Israeli daily, has recently written that “only international pressure will end Israeli apartheid.”

A recent US poll has shown a significant shift among the Democratic Party’s “opinion elites,” whereby 47% of the party’s “opinion elites” viewed Israel as a “racist state” and as high as 31% supported boycott and sanctions against it.  “Just as Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorsese founded Filmmakers United Against Apartheid to protest the racist regime in South Africa in the 1980s,” added Barghouti, “Palestinian artists and civil society expect Hollywood figures to act with conscience by refusing to lend their name to Israel’s desperate attempts to cover up its war crimes and racism against the Palestinian people.”

“The proposed tour sets out to create the impression that occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City, is part of Israel despite the fact that the UN, including the US, recognises it as occupied Palestinian territory. This comes at a time when Israel is accelerating its ethnic cleansing and killing of Palestinians in Jerusalem and entrenching its colonialism and apartheid policies.”

Two of this year’s Oscar nominees, Mark Ruffalo and Mark Rylance, have criticised Israeli policies.  The European Union has issued guidelines stating that governments should not recognise Israeli sovereignty over occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.  The news about the decision of the Academy to allow Israel to use the awards as a propaganda vehicle comes in the midst of the #OscarsSoWhite scandal. Israel has over 50 racist laws that directly discriminate against its indigenous Palestinian citizens on the basis of race, meeting the UN definition of the crime of apartheid.  “The Academy’s association with Israel further tarnishes its image regarding racism and evokes memories of Hollywood’s past collaboration with criminal regimes,” said Barghouti.  The nonviolent BDS movement for Palestinian rights, launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005, seeks freedom, justice and equality in accordance with international law.

Israeli officials associated with the “Brand Israel” campaign have repeatedly admitted that Israel uses culture as a propaganda tool to show its “prettier face” and whitewash its crimes in an attempt to counteract the fast growing reach and impact of the BDS movement.  Celebrities such as Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and Lauryn Hill have refused to perform in Israel. Thousands of artists and cultural figures in Canada, South Africa, Ireland, the UK, Norway, and elsewhere have come out in support of an institutional cultural boycott of Israel.

Major European firms Veolia, Orange and CRH have all recently quit Israel as a result of BDS campaigns.  Foreign direct investment in Israel dropped by 46% in 2014 as compared to 2013, according to a UN report, partially due to BDS campaigning, as stated by one of the report’s authors.  The Israel Export Institute has revealed that Israel’s exports in 2015 have dropped by 7% over 2014.  Moody’s, a leading credit ratings agency, has warned that “the Israeli economy could suffer should BDS gain greater traction.

Several mainline US churches and student governments across the US have voted to support divestment from companies and banks that are implicated in Israeli violations of international law.
Source:  EuroPal Forum, 11.02.2016

Stop David Cameron’s attacks on BDS

The UK government is introducing new rules that would prevent local councils from supporting BDS. If you live in the UK, please take action to stop the government doing this.   Councils across the UK have voted to support BDS and to exclude companies that aid and abet Israel’s crimes from public contracts.  David Cameron is leading the UK’s most pro-Israel government in a generation and he wants to ban councils from taking these kinds of steps. This is a massive attack on Palestine solidarity could have big implications for all sorts of progressive campaigning in the UK. These proposals represent a huge attack on local democracy.

A key part of these proposals is under consultation until 19 February, so there’s just a few more days to make your voice heard.
If you live in the UK, you can use this quick e-action tool to tell the government you are against the proposal. If you live outside the UK, you can help by sharing this Electronic Intifada article about the UK government’s attacks on BDS.
Sourcre:  Palestinian BDS National Committee,  14.02.2016
p.s. For more detail, have a look at this Questions and Answer page.

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