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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle For Palestinian Rights

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle For Palestinian Rights

(Comments so far)

***This book brings up many excellent points.

The 3 point BDS Call goals:
1. End occupation, dismantle wall
2. Full equality for Arab Israelis
3. Right of return for refugees

***Three comparisons or terms frequently shunned are explained:

1.  People often strongly oppose the use of the word apartheid because Jews are not the minority oppressing the majority. The rest of the definition in the 1973 UN Convention concerning apartheid fits perfectly:

The Rome Statute defines apartheid as 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."

2.  They oppose the word genocide in many cases of collective punishment and siege because, though many acts of Israel toward Palestinians are described in the UN definition, the intent is not clear. A look at article II of the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide leaves little doubt about what is going on. One of Barghouti's examples is that often cancer and disease incidence isn't recorded for Palestinian populations in Israel (by Israel). This is the only thing that causes environmental rules to force companies to stop contaminating groundwater. These companies end up relocating to Palestinian areas, thus causing more pollution and a much higher incidence of birth defects, fertility problems, cancer and other issues.

Soft ethnic cleansing is often forgotten or not classified as such. This is creating conditions on the ground that force Palestinians to live or work in other Arab countries and also imposing visa and other restrictions that do not allow them to come back to visit for long or live. Soffer has been a big proponent on this if you want read about demography, ethnic cleansing and someone who is proud to espouse these sorts of crimes.

3.  The comparison of Israel with the Nazi regime are often considered tantamount to anti-Semitism or at the very least massive exaggeration by most. What most who use this example are actually referencing are not the gas chambers, but the period before that with all of the racist laws. 

***Barghouti points out that the more extreme parties supporting armed struggle typically have the more favorable (maximalist) platform with regard to rights and so even though Palestinians have a history of nonviolent resistance, it has been rather weak. The nonviolent movement typically works with the West and has had to water down (minimize) its "demands" to gain an audience, such as allowing a symbolic number of refugees back only, allowing some settlements to stay, etc (refer to any accord the US has signed onto).

***He brings up the point that some one the Israeli left can only support boycott when it is in the context of "saving Israel from itself." This is exactly the attitude in the US that I have seen. When I've talked about it or posted about it, people never hit "like" and they tend to look uncomfortably at you as though you uttered a racial slur but they don't really want to confront you on it. In order to be confident that you will be listened to without people scrunching up their faces in discomfort, you have to talk about your concern for Israel, how the occupation is bad for their economy or society, etc. In this country, you can't just say you want Palestinians to be free from the occupation and have equal rights and be taken seriously. True, more people now realize Israel is not 100% right in all it does than 10 years ago, but you still get "looks" if you express your desire to see Israel sanctions and compelled to follow international law.

***Some think boycotts, ending the occupation, giving refugees their right to return home, giving Palestinians equal rights will destroy Israel. I've heard this many times. If this is true, the particular form of democracy needs to be scrapped. It wasn't worth saving if occupation, apartheid and demographic analysis to maintain ethnic or religious majorities are required to exist. This is considered unthinkable. Are we really going to maintain that Israel has the right to exist as it sees fit even if those conditions prevent others from having fundamental human rights?? This nonsense is the basis for "dialogue" and "peace negotiations."

***He brings up the point that some people argue that a boycott on cultural and academic institutions interferes with academic freedom. I find this objection to boycott rather ridiculous since Israel prevents and disrupts to varying degrees Palestinian education. We should advocate Israeli intellectuals' academic freedom more than Palestinians' right to education??

"Striving for peace divorced of justice is as good as institutionalizing injustice, or making the oppressed submit to the overwhelming force of the oppressor, accepting inequality as fate." (From the book and online here.)

***The concept of ending oppression first before endorsing dialogue, peace and reconciliation initiatives. He addresses the asymmetry between Israel and Palestinians so often forgotten in discussions about the conflict.

 ***This little tidbit sounds like conspiracy theory and unfortunately could breathe life into the stereotype that Jews rule the world... but it is a real campaign. Brand Israel is a propaganda campaign designed to counter the BDS campaign and bad press resulting from Israel's disproportionate uses of force, occupation, war crimes and collective punishment. It aims to send as many Israeli artists, dancers, authors, etc abroad so others can see Israel has side with culture and ideals, not just a brutal colonial side concerned with the Arab birth rate to genocidal extremes.

Putting Out a Contract on Art (referenced by the BDS book- proof of an actual contract with artists in the propaganda campaign)

EI article on Branding Israel

MIFTAH on Branding Israel

***The next point is controversial for me. I have always been pretty supportive of initiatives that bring Israelis and Palestinians together for scientific, art, dialogue, and whatever. I thought it would be good to get Israel to see Palestinians as human, but I can see the author's point that ignoring the occupation and not taking and demanding a definite stand against it is a big problem that results in its perpetuation. Barghouti makes a good case for the boycott of such things by bringing up UNESCO- pretty timely, I guess. After the ICJ ruling (1971) that S. Africa's occupation of Namibia was illegal, UNESCO convened several conferences on resistance against occupation, sports boycott, sanctions against racist South Africa, etc. There was a similar ICJ ruling in 2004 on Israel's wall and occupation, but no subsequent mobilization of the international community in support of the Palestinian victims. Just this week, UNESCO accepts Palestine as a member. What this means, I have no idea. But I am coming off a nasty sinus infection , so give me a chance.

Monday, October 24, 2011

1 = 1,027

There are several things that come to mind when you hear about the release of Gilad Shalit in return for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

  • The exchange rate. One Israeli life is worth 1,000 Palestinian lives. Or appears to be, whether in this instance or in the vengeance Israel visits on Palestinians when an Israeli dies in an attack. And it could be more than 1000 when you consider Israel will just round up hundreds more in the next raid.
  • How many of the 1,027 have had a fair trial (jury, lawyer allowed to see evidence, allowed to see lawyer, etc) and been convicted and how many are being held without charge, without access to lawyer and family, in unsuitable conditions, tortured, or in any other violation of Israeli or international law. How many or what percentage of ALL Palestinian prisoners are political prisoners?
  • The bias toward Israel in the media and dehumanization of Palestinians. We all know about Gilad Shalit and the plight of his family. This is the same with suicide bombing victims' families of the past. Do we ever get a story on a Palestinian whose house was demolished, whose brothers and father were arrested for no reason, whose family members were killed by "stray bullets" to the head, any IDF operation, being an IDF human shield, or violating curfew? Of course not. We give more airtime to Israeli victims than we did Rachel Corrie, a US citizen killed by the IDF! The most you will see is a few pictures of nameless Palestinian women crying over rubble. There will be no human interest story, no names given, no follow up for the thousands (of innocents) who die at the hands of the Israeli Occupation Army. Often, the justification is given that the deaths are so constant that it takes a major extraordinary event, not just the daily struggle to survive to make news and be worth a journalists' effort to write and send to their boss.
  • Why not release all the lawmakers and politicians they have arrested so that Palestinians can get on with state building?
  • Why release the hundred(s) of prisoners that have been proven in a fair trial to have blood on their hands. Is it worth it to free one guy?
  • The large settlement approval that comes on the heels of Shalit being freed. I thought the deal was to promote peace? Why do something immediately that is blatantly illegal, on a large scale and very public?

So that last one seems surprising until you realize Israel likes to announce these things when American officials visit or when everyone seems to be thinking about coming to the table to talk. 

It seems like it isn't often Ban Ki-Moon has anything to say about Israel, but he's calling the recent settlement plan coming in the wake of the release of Gilad Shalit and the PA UN bid unacceptable.

This rabbi makes a good point about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. They don't get trials, are sometimes tortured, are held in inhumane conditions and if changes to Israel's protocol are made, they could demand the same of Hamas.

I find this sentence in a Telegraph article quite interesting:

Hundreds of those included in the exchange were convicted for their involvement in deadly attacks on Israelis, but the Palestinians regard the detainees as heroes, calling them political prisoners. 

Ok. It says hundreds were indeed convicted for deadly attacks. Let's say this is true. I don't know. I haven't been able to find much out about the Palestinian prisoners. And I don't know if those convicted of resisting the occupation army are considered among these hundreds of guilty, which would inflate the number. If hundreds are guilty that leaves hundreds (a majority? who knows.) that have not been tried or are being held even though innocent. These ARE political prisoners! And whether they are found guilty or not, conditions of prisons are deplorable and treatment can border on torture, so that would be reason enough to consider them heroes- Israel's giving them this reason, this badge of honor or surviving conditions in Israeli prisons- but that could be a reason even the guilty are revered. (Though most or many -again, who knows- could be innocent political prisoners.)

A few lists of the names of the prisoners. No word on the status- political prisoners, fair trial, numbers, convicted. The NY Times makes sure you know kidnappers and murders are being released, though. I'm sure the implication is that all in Israeli prisons are treated like they are here and all are guilty, blah, blah, blah.

Palestinian prisoners in general:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Boycott, Divest, Sanctions

Flash Mob at a grocery store. I'm not sure if this was Boycott, divest, Sanctions, but they do have a handy dandy flash mob toolkit :) Ok, the link is for US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, not BDS!

I don't think I see this many people who know a lot about the conflict in my area, let alone that would come out and do THAT! I figure, you've got to have thousands of people talking and caring about the issue to get anywhere near that many people to come out and plan and execute a flash mob.

Barghouti's book on the BDS campaign:

I haven't read it, but it's on the list.


In thinking about lists I've seen of companies to boycott, I have a few thoughts...

I am familiar with the Ahava campaign, Stolen Beauty, and others. Or Caterpillar. Yes, I've written them. If you're making the claim of social responsibility and your products are famous for bulldozing homes, sorry, you've asked for it. I would guess there are also certain companies you shouldn't buy feta, hummus, dates, olives, falaffel mix and other Middle Eastern foods from, like Sabra, Tribe, Carmel (Agrexco), etc.

Blog post about Sabra "caving"... I think the ardent Sabra supporter author is still justified in promoting Sabra... but whatever...

There is a 729 campaign for the barcode (1st 3 numbers), but not everything made there has these numbers. I think it matters in which country items made in the Occupied Territories are being sold as to what barcode it has, among other factors, so this hasn't proven terribly reliable. If I see "made in Israel" I'll take that as my hint. I won't buy it. I've never seen 729 on these items, by the way. Yes, I check. I'm curious.

As for boycotting Nestle or McDonald's for doing business over there, I think that is an issue to be taken up by letters, protests, getting prominent people to speak up in ads and other public ways.

This flier lists a few companies, mostly in NY to boycott:


A UK initiative to twin cities with Palestinian ones;
they also have info on buying Palestinian goods:

Monday, October 10, 2011

No to mosque burning, but collective punishment and ethinic cleansing ok?

Another "Price Tag" attack. 

And in case we are in any doubt about who the targets are, a Christian and a Muslim cemetery was vandalized with slogans like "death to the Arabs" and others.

I wonder what Christian Zionists are thinking in times like these? (My post on Christian Zionism) That Christians deserve to pay or should be glad to pay for the Jewish right to oppress others? Oh, wait - Christian Zionists probably aren't thinking anything about this- this wasn't reported in the US. At least I didn't get it from any American source. And the BBC has something, but it is taking a back seat to Arab Spring progress on the web page.

Anyway, back to Price Tag...
On graves this time. Classy. The Price Tag movement by definition, though, is just that classy. It's a bunch of people (Jewish settlers mostly? Or have more joined in?) who attack innocent Palestinians when their own government shows any movement toward following the law, which began with "dismantling" illegal settler outposts (ignores that ALL settlements are ILLEGAL). Another fact that seems to be overlooked by all is that this is TERRORISM by most peoples' definition, yet we call it Price Tag or refer to it like an isolated attack. 

Lately, it has been noted by Ha'aretz that Price Tag Terrorsts don't need a trigger, just opportunity. Will we hold these people responsible for the failure of peace talks and start thinking of all Jews in terms of arsonists and grave vandals? Will this justify flying jets over Israeli cities and dropping one ton bombs all over the place? Shall we erect checkpoints and enact curfews that shut down normal life? Blockades? Will we round up and rough up every young Jew and throw them into prison until they get something useful? Shall we deport the suspects to an Eastern European exile? Of course none of this will happen- Israel isn't fighting a state or a people that has this capability. But what if... Never mind. In reality, the suspects probably won't even face jail time.

Two links on the current attacks:

The contradiction that prompted the post:

"Burning of mosques goes against the values ​​of Israel as a Jewish state," Livni said.

 So this is encouraging, right? I suppose it was more relief actually. You never know what's going to be the official Israeli line. Usually it is something pretty preposterous. 1000 Palestinian dead and they used restraint, have the most moral army in the world, tried really hard to prevent casualties. 

They are condemning the mosque attacks. Great. What about the occupation and collective punishment? Does demolishing homes go against Jewish values? Is it a democratic value to continually ban refugees from returning home after war, not allow family reunification, deny visas, erect checkpoints, etc so that you can maintain a certain demographic favorable to you?

More on "Price Tag" (my previous posts):

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sanctions for UN bid; not for Israeli violence??

Write your representatives here:

US to sanction Palestinians for going to UN, but no sanctions on Israel's ignoring UN Resolutions, international law, human rights and decency (i.e. not trashing the place and pooping on the floor when you do your illegal searches and seizures) not to mention causing humanitarian crises, collective punishment and using disproportionate force on captive mostly civilian "targets"???

Punishment for nonviolence. What message are we trying to send? Obviously, we were lying when we said all those years that we can't support Palestinians because of suicide bombings- we had no intention of bestowing statehood on them any which way.

Jul 1-6, 2011 S.Res.185

I found this link about the passage and various Senators' statements on the floor regarding it, but no news articles on S. Res. 185's passage. Well worth reading.

A rewriting of 185... I like it.

Text -

H.Res.268 July 6, 2011

The play by play on H. Res. 268- NY Times

A Green Party (GA) notice on the H. Res. 268 vote that day.


September 19, 2011 in Haaretz- US urges Netanyahu not to impose stiff sanctions??

October 2, 2011 US Congress compared to playground bullies

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Counterproductive? Can we not say i-l-l-e-g-a-l ?

 The thing that initially caught my eye was Secretary of State Clinton calling this latest settlement building approval (1100 in Arab E. Jerusalem) counterproductive. Counterproductive?! There are so many things they are and counterproductive is way too conciliatory. They are illegal. They violate the Geneva Convention. They undermine the entire process since they are building on land that is internationally recognized to be the future Palestinian state in this two state solution everyone is so keen on nowadays. Their inhabitants burn olive groves, beat farmers, are armed and a danger to civilians and this after stealing the land they build on.

Another thing that comes to mind is the big deal Israel made (or tried to) about the Palestinians' big unilateral move in going to the UN to declare their state. The pot is calling the kettle black. Each new settlement, each expansion of an existing one is an entirely unilateral land grab. What is Israel so bent out of shape about with unilateral moves? I guess if Palestinians succeed in the UN, Israel may not have such a free hand in its unilateral moves! Israel wants Palestinians to beg and plead and offer their weapons, right of return and their capital in return for permission to have a state conditional on who knows what. Does Israel ask Palestinians before they build Jewish only "neighborhoods" (if you want to sanitize it) and Jewish only roads? No. They don't even have to have warrants to enter, search and destroy Palestinian homes even though their law requires it. They answer to no one. Can anyone wonder why Palestinians would want to go another route at the UN?

So that was initially what caught my eye, but look at that title? MSNBC is supposed to be liberal media? Settlement homes? That's how you describe something illegal? Maybe they felt the facts would color things the wrong way? Just report the facts. Illegal is illegal. 

And from the BBC:

school rant central

I should have started out by saying that I apologize to any teachers, I probably don't know the half of what your big issues are to deal with. This may make me look pretty ignorant to teachers and administrators in the trenches. This is only the perspective from where I, one parent, am sitting at this moment in time. 

I'll start with a link and status from FB this AM. 
I had more to say, so I'll blog.

As I sit making worksheets I'm wondering A) should I have homeschooled and B) what is she doing all day in Kindergarten 'cause it ain't practicing handwriting step by step like I the "old days."

 *** *** *** *** ***

I still feel good about our decision not to send to kids to preschool, but if they are going to expect one to be able to write well and almost read, they should REQUIRE x # years of preschool and make good public ones available. Insert suggestion to invest in our own kids instead of the Israeli Occupation.

And once we sort that out, let's bring music back. I used to love that "break" where you get to sing, play recorder and put on plays and such. I probably learned something about music inadvertently; if nothing else we got introduction and appreciation. Aside from that, I can't see justifying dropping it. Aren't there studies that show that music is good for math skills? It's sad that that won't be a part of my childrens' school experience. I mean, why not replace computer class with music class, unless they are typing or programming or something. I mean, we are kind of to the point that computers are so ubiquitous that teaching kids to use them (I'm not actually sure what goes on in her class) seems unnecessary. Maybe I am way off on that point in some circumstances, but I think music would be a better use of the time, especially if kids have any access to computers, smart boards, and iPads in class.

And don't get me started on school breakfast/lunch. Too late. :) Let's start with breakfast. They talk about reduced lunch and the policy of kids not going hungry. Yes, I think that's good, but when breakfast is a pop tart or super bun (whatever that is- I'm imagining a Honey Bun covered in icing...) I don't think you're helping out all that much. I did notice a few less of those options this month than last, so maybe it just takes them a bit to get organized?

Now, lunch and the potato problem. Yikes. Let me start by listing the "ways with potatoes": oven baked fries, parslied potatoes, baked potato, potato rounds, whipped potatoes, and of course sweet potato casserole (which I'm guessing means marshmallow and brown sugar?). Not so bad, right (except for the last one for which they could sub a baked sweet potato with a little cinnamon...)? 

I do see some positives. French fries and deep fried options don't seem to be there. I'll give them that. But when you are replacing a green veggie with a starch, that is a problem. At least I think so. Maybe it is a failure on the parents' part that a Kindergartener won't choose the healthy option independently? Or maybe elementary students shouldn't have so much choice? My thought is that even if we eat healthy food at home and they like it and eat it, the broccoli, turnip greens, peas and green beans I've seen at various schools are soggy, straight from a can, salt-less and flavorless. I probably would let them choose the main course and set the rest- or let them choose main course and have a choice of "equal" veg-  peas or green beans, broccoli or mixed veg, etc.

Maybe school lunch is a rite of passage and I should just relax. I can accept that because I think we do a good job at home and enjoy family meals and all the rest. Also, there is the money issue. Budget, budget, budget. Federal government and everyone else is living on credit and borrowed time. I know having Jamie Oliver* come and cook all of the meals would not be in the realm of possiblity, but could we demand more, as in a team of nutritionists or something, than one person who may or may not have a science or nutrition background (I don't know) set menus for the entire county or state or however that's done?

*Jamie Oliver reference- His show is  Food Revolution. And here is another can of worms- was there mutiny, did the healthy changes stick, was it real, etc. I think there was a lot in there about how school lunches are set up and how they have to use what they are given...most of which I've forgotten, but I remember coming away with how it is a racket. I thought the premise was good and was hoping it and the revolution would take off.

And in case you are wondering, yes, I am for banning vending machines with soda, sweets and junk also but I guess that's another issue...

Having said all of that, I still think my husband and I made the right choice in schooling for now, despite all of this- what may seem like- complaining from me. I'm an introvert and so I consider myself just more observant, not a big complainer. I notice things. I guess I should have said that when people used to ask me why I didn't talk. Sometimes these observations bother me. Anyway, as a result of our looking at all the school options, I plan to be involved because I think it's as important as if I homeschooled as to how much the kids gets out of it. I guess we can always switch things up if necessary. I still feel the pros and cons are pretty equal either way.

This isn't really the post I set out to write, but I won't delete it. It is what it is, as it is with me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

teaching hate

I saw someone searched for "Hebrew slogans" on my blog, and I have a relevant addition. People love to flash those pics of Palestinian kids with guns and camo and say how hate is taught. No one tends to believe that Jewish children either are taught or learn the same things from their parents.

I'm reading Raja Shehadeh's When the Birds Stop Singing and he talks about Jewish school children being required to write soldiers notes of encouragement as writing exercises, like I remember writing the President as a class exercise in 1st grade. 

Some say Palestinians corner the market on teaching hate, but the Jewish children wrote things like:
  • *kill as many Arabs as possible
  • *for me kill at least 10
  • *ignore the laws and spray them

 see also:
The myth of incitement in Palestinian textbooks