Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why Israel is a racist state

By Kim Bullimore
Direct Action, No 11, May 2009

The Australian Labor government joined the all-white boycott of the UN’s Durban Review Conference held in Geneva on April 20-24. Labelled by Israel and its supporters a “hate fest”, the conference was boycotted by Australia, along with Canada, Germany, Italy, Israel, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland and the US because the conference’s draft “outcome” document reaffirmed the Declaration and Program of Action (DPA) adopted by the UN’s 2001 World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa. At the end of the Geneva conference the draft document was approved by delegates representing 182 countries out the UN’s 192 member-states.

The Durban conference’s 341-paragraph DPA included a paragraph stating: “We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion.” In 2002, by a vote of 134 for to two against (Israel, United States), with two abstentions (Australia, Canada), the UN General Assembly endorsed the Durban conference’s DPA.

World Conference Against Racism logo

The April 4, 2008 Tel Aviv Haaretz daily reported that Israel and the US had “decided a few weeks ago to boycott the Durban II conference scheduled for early 2009… According to a senior government official, the joint decision was made after discussions among senior US State Department and local Foreign Ministry officials, and after being raised in talks between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice… Israel and world Jewish organizations have begun a campaign against the upcoming conference, although it still has no final date or location.”

The campaign against the Durban Review Conference was stepped up by Israel and its supporters in the wake of the Zionist state’s 22-day war on Gaza over December and January, during which the Israeli military killed 1417 Palestinians, only 236 of whom were resistance fighters. In the wake of widespread condemnation of Israel’s war crimes expressed in large demonstrations on the streets of cities all over the world, the Zionist state has been struggling to present itself as the victim of Palestinian “terrorism”. Fearing that the Durban Review Conference might criticise Israel’s war crimes, the Israeli and US imperialist rulers stepped up their campaign to present the conference as an “anti-Semitic hate fest”. They encouraged other imperialist states, including Australia, to threaten to boycott the conference if its “outcome” document had any, even the mildest, criticism of Israel.

This was not the first time Washington had boycotted UN anti-racism conferences. The US government boycotted the UN’s anti-racism conferences in 1978 and 1983 objecting not only to the inclusion of any references to the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel but also to a focus by the conference participants on South Africa’s brutal apartheid policies. In 2001, after dragging its feet as to a decision of whether or not it would participate in the Durban conference, US government officials walked out of the conference on the third day, objecting to both the inclusion of calls for an apology and reparations to victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and any mention of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.

At the 2001 Durban conference, pro-Israeli Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, Bnai Brith, Hadassah and the Wiesenthal Center, attempted to have a paragraph included in the final declaration that equated any criticism of Israel as a “contemporary form of anti-Semitism”. This included labelling Israel’s policies against the Palestinian people as “genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and apartheid”. As Badil, the Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights based in Bethlehem noted in a paper for the Durban conference, had this paragraph been adopted, it “would have meant that any human rights critique on the State of Israel could be labelled as ‘anti-Semitism’”.

Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has been an openly racist state, founded by European colonial settlers and using both legally sanctioned discrimination and military force to ethnically cleanse and oppress the indigenous Palestinian people. While Palestinian citizens of Israel are supposedly afforded full citizenship rights, Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, notes that the Israeli state systematically discriminates against its Palestinian citizens, who account for more than 20% of Israel’s total population. According to Adalah, Israel has never sought to integrate its Palestinian citizens and instead resorts to “treating them as second-class citizens and excluding them from public life and the public sphere. The state [has] practiced systematic and institutionalised discrimination in all areas, such as land dispossession and allocation, education, language, economics, culture and political participation.”

Repeated surveys in Israel have recorded the racism that is endemic in Israeli society. For example, a March 2007 survey by the Israeli Centre Against Racism found that more than half of the Jewish population in Israel believes that marriage of a Jewish woman to an Arab man is equal to “national treason”. Seventy five per cent of Israeli Jews polled did not approve of apartment buildings being shared between Arabs and Jews. Sixty per cent said they would not allow an Arab to visit their home, 55% said “Arabs and Jews should be separated at entertainment sites” and 30.7% felt hatred when they heard Arabic being spoken on the street.

Anti-Palestinian/Arab graffiti in Occupied Hebron

Anti-Palestinian/Arab graffiti in Occupied Hebron

Anti-Palestinian/Arab graffiti in Occupied Hebron

In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where 5 million Palestinians live under Israel’s brutal military occupation, Zionist racism is even more overt. Subject to more than 700 military laws, Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem not only have their legal identity controlled by Israel, they are also subject to laws that control their movement and that prevent them from using roads or entering areas reserved for Jewish colonial-settlers. Israeli military law allows for the Zionist state to confiscate Palestinian property, land and water resources in order to redirect them for Jewish-only use, preventing Palestinians from accessing land that their ancestors had owned and cultivated for centuries. Under the Israeli military regime, Palestinians living in the West Bank have no legal protection against the Israeli state’s human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests and detention without charge or trial, or the demolition of their homes.

Since 1948, Israel’s ethnic cleansing and wars of aggression against the Palestinian and other Arab peoples of the region have had the consistent backing of successive US governments. All of these governments have sought to ensure that US corporations control the extraction and export of the vast energy resources (oil and natural gas) that exist in the Middle East. Israel has become US imperialism’s chief ally in the region, the US-Israel alliance being based on shared political interests — opposition to any form of Arab radicalism that would threaten imperialist economic domination of the region.

Washington’s imperialist role in the Middle East was the focus of the speech given by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Durban Review Conference. Far from being an “anti-Semitic rant”, as Israel and its supporters claim, Ahmadinejad devoted a large part of his speech denouncing the US for its wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. With regard to the Western-backed Zionist colonisation of Palestine, he said: “Today many racists condemn racism in their slogans and speeches but when some powerful countries give themselves the right to make decisions for other countries, using their discretion, and based on their own interests, they can easily trample on all rules and human values. As they have already proven.

“After the Second World War, by exploiting the Holocaust and under the pretext of protecting the Jews they made a nation homeless with military expeditions and invasion. They transferred various groups of people from America, Europe and other countries to this land. They established a completely racist government in the occupied Palestinian territories. And in fact, under the pretext of making up for damages resulting from racism in Europe, they established the most aggressive, racist country in another territory, i.e., Palestine.”

Despite the fact that Ahmadinejad’s speech did not contain any anti-Jewish remarks, Australian PM Kevin Rudd has attempted to use the speech to justify his government’s boycott of the Durban Review Conference. Rudd told an April 24 meeting of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce that “inflammatory remarks of President Ahmadinejad of Iran at the conference are unacceptable and underline the Australian government’s decision not to attend the Durban Conference”. Rudd admitted that his government never had any intention of participating in the conference because Canberra “would not support a document which reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action”, because the “2001 declaration singled out Israel” as the only state guilty of racism. However, the Durban DPA does no such thing. It merely expresses concern “about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation”.

Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd

While Israel continues to have the support of governments in other imperialist countries such as the US and Australia, more and more people around the world have supported the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. In the lead up to the Durban Review Conference, thousands of people from around the world attended the Israel Review Conference, also held in Geneva, organised by pro-Palestinian groups. The IRC included a range of workshops which developed proposals for a global campaign against the Jewish National Fund, as well as initiatives for prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes.

Israel Review Conference logo

The BDS campaign was launched by over 100 Palestinian organisations in July 2005. In the wake of Israel’s Gaza war, support for the campaign has snowballed. The March 29 Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli Manufacturers Association acknowledged that its members were losing markets due to the growing BDS campaign. The head of the IMA’s foreign trade committee said: “In addition to the problems and difficulties arising from the global economic crisis, 21% of local exporters report that they are facing problems in selling Israeli goods because of an anti-Israel boycott, mainly from the UK and Scandinavian countries.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Israel bans books, music & clothes from entering Gaza

Dear friends,
please find below Amira Hass' latest article on the situation in Gaza.

Hass was the first Israeli journalist to live and work in the Occupied Territories (in Gaza). Hass entered Gaza last year aboard on of the Free Gaza boats and was arrested on 2 December 2008, when she left Gaza to return to Israel. Hass re-entered Gaza four months ago and was again arrested on May 14 as she left Gaza to re-enter Israel.

in soldarity, Kim

Israel bans books, music & clothes from entering Gaza
by Amira Hass, Haaretz, 17/05/2009

Israel allows only food, medicine and detergent into the Gaza Strip. Thousands of items, including vital products for everyday activity, are forbidden.

Altogether only 30 to 40 select commercial items are now allowed into the Gaza Strip, compared to 4,000 that had been approved before the closure Israel imposed on Gaza following the abduction of Gilad Shalit, according to merchants and human rights activists.

The number of items changes according to what is determined by The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. COGAT has refused the PA representative's request for an updated list of the items permitted into Gaza in writing, and passes the information only via the telephone.

Gaza merchants are forbidden to import canned goods, plastic sheeting, toys and books, although the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and other aid organizations are permitted to bring them into the strip.

The few items merchants are allowed to trade in are divided into three categories: food, medicine and detergent. Everything else is forbidden - including building materials (which are necessary to rehabilitate Gaza's ruins and rebuild its infrastructure), electric appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, spare machine and car parts, fabrics, threads, needles, light bulbs, candles, matches, books, musical instruments, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, cutlery, crockery, cups, glasses and animals. Many of the banned products are imported through the tunnels and can be found in Gaza's markets.

Pasta, which had been forbidden in the past, is now allowed, after U.S. Senator John Kerry expressed his astonishment at the ban during a visit to Gaza in February. But tea, coffee, sausages, semolina, milk products in large packages and most baking products are forbidden. So are industrial commodities for manufacturing food products, chocolate, sesame seeds and nuts. Israel does allow importing fruit, milk products in small packages and frozen food products as well as limited amounts of industrial fuel.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that during the first week of May, 2.2 million liters of industrial fuel - some 70 percent of the weekly supply required to operate the power station - was allowed into Gaza. UNRWA receives petrol and diesel supplies separately. A daily 270-300 tons of cooking gas - 54 percent of the required amount - is allowed.

Petrol and diesel for private cars and public transportation have not been imported from Israel since November 2, 2008, except for a small amount for UNRWA. The union of Gaza's gas station owners estimates that some 100,000 liters of diesel and 70,000 liters of petrol are brought through the tunnels daily.

Egypt, which in the past two months has been restricting the trade movement through the tunnels, does not limit the supply of gas and fuel. But since Egyptian fuel is heavier than Israeli fuel, it damages the newer cars in Gaza and causes malfunctions.

In the past, Israel allowed wood for home furnishings to be brought into Gaza for some time, but not wood for windows and doors. Now Israel has resumed the ban on wood for furniture.

The ban on toilet paper, diapers and sanitary napkins was lifted three months ago. A little more than a month ago, following a long ban, Israel permitted the import of detergents and soaps into Gaza. Even shampoo was allowed. But one merchant discovered that the bottles of shampoo he had ordered were sent back because they included conditioner, which was not on the list.

Five weeks ago Israel allowed margarine, salt and artificial sweetener to be brought into Gaza. Legumes have been allowed for the past two months and yeast for the past two weeks. Contrary to rumors, Israel has not banned sugar.

COGAT commented that, "The policy of bringing commodities derives from and is coordinated with Israel's policy toward the Gaza Strip, as determined by the cabinet decision on September 19, 2007."

A COGAT forum convenes with representatives of international organizations weekly to address special requests of the international community regarding humanitarian equipment and the changing needs of the Palestinian population, the statement says.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Seven Jewish Children - a play for Gaza

Dear friends,
in January, during Israel's assault on Gaza which resulted in 1417 Palestinians killed, including 926 civilians and 255 traffic police and 236 resistance fighters, English writer Caryl Churchill wrote Seven Jewish Children - a play for Gaza.

The play runs for less than 10 minutes and can be performed any number for performers.

As Churchill notes in her introduction to the play, no children appear in the play, instead the speakers are all adults - parent or relatives of the 7 children depicted by the seven short interludes presented. The play traverses the last 80 years looking at the horrors of the Holocaust, the Zionist colonisation of Palestine, to the establishment of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba, the 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, to the first Palestinan Intifada and to the recent Israeli war in Gaza.

The Zionist lobby has, of course, labelled the play anti-semitic because it addresses the issues of fear and hatred of Palestinians within Israeli society (this blind labelling of the play, includes in Australia, AIJAC's (Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council) Jeremy Jones - who supports the claim that the play is anti-semitic but admits he has never even read the play)

However, many others, including Israeli Jews and other supporters of Israel (and who have actually read the play) challenge the assertion of the Zionist lobby that Churchill's play is anti-semitic.

The play will be performed in Melbourne on May 18 at The State Library of Victoria at 6.30pm to mark the 61st anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). It will be performed by Miriam Margoyles, the well known British character actor, who also happens to be Jewish. Also performing with her will be well known Australian character actor, Max Gilles.

Below is the review of Seven Jewish Children by Israel writer, Larry Derfner, which appeared in the (conservative) Jerusalem Post, as well as the Melbourne based Age newspaper on the Melbourne performance of the play.

Also below is a video production of the play by The Guardian, with Jennie Stoller performing the play in solo capacity.

in solidarity, Kim

Guardian production of Seven Jewish Children, starring Jennie Stoller.

Hearing echoes in 'Seven Jewish Children'
By Larry Derfner
Jerusalem Post, 22 April 2009

After reading a lot of the pro and (mainly) con about Seven Jewish Children - a play for Gaza, I prepared to write a column saying that while it took an excessively critical view of Israel, it was not anti-Semitic, and that there was a big difference between the two.

Being a responsible journalist, I then set aside 10 minutes to actually read the play, and I found that not only isn't it anti-Semitic, it isn't excessively critical of Israel, either. As far as I'm concerned, it's just critical enough - which is to say very, very critical. More precisely, this short play by Britain's Caryl Churchill expresses moral outrage at Israel - which is what I felt during the war in Gaza, and what lots of other Jews and gentiles who want the best for this country felt as well.

I don't know what Churchill thinks would be best for this country, or for the Jewish people, and I don't know if I'd agree with her if I knew. But what she seems to be saying in this play is that the trauma to the Jews during the Holocaust has, over the years, been twisted into the aggression of the Jews in today's Israel. She's saying that while Jews saw Israel as a sanctuary after the Holocaust, the building of this sanctuary also meant the displacement of a lot of natives, specifically Beduin. She's saying the Six Day War turned us into conquerors, made us callous toward the Palestinians, and that our callousness reached a shocking new extreme during our onslaught in Gaza.

She's saying Jewish victimhood has not been redemptive; that instead, it's fueled Israel's victimization of Palestinians and been used as an excuse for it. She doesn't portray Palestinians as pacifists, noting, in the words of her characters, that they're known to "set off bombs in cafes," that they include "Hamas fighters" and that "they're attacking with rockets." But her view in the play is that Israel exaggerates the Palestinian threat out of all proportion and gives many, many times better than it gets.

Seven Jewish Children says this country has become hysterical with fear and aggression, that the more hell we inflict on innocent Palestinians, the more desperate we are to deny any wrongdoing and the more medals we pin on our chests.

Churchill wrote the play in January, while the war was going on. It was a harsh portrayal of this nation, but, in my opinion, a true one.

The play's spirit isn't filled with hatred; it's filled with moral outrage. There's a difference. You don't have to be an anti-Semite or even an anti-Zionist to be morally outraged at our treatment of Palestinians, especially during Operation Cast Lead.

The charge has been made that the play compares Israelis to Nazis. I never thought that for one moment while reading it, rereading it or watching a staging of it on YouTube. The American journalist James Kirchick wrote that by the end of the play, the Jewish child being raised in Israel is a "Baruch-Goldstein-in-training."

Not at all. None of the characters is a murderer or a proponent of murder. None is a sadist. What all of them are is callous about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, and by turns worried or defiant about how to justify it. No Nazis here, no Baruch Goldsteins, but rather people who've suffered too much and caused too much suffering, and who have become severely coarsened in the process. Read the "worst" monologue, the climactic one:

"Tell her, tell her about the army, tell her to be proud of the army. Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her the names, why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldn't she know? tell her there's dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she's got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people feel sorry for them, tell them I don't feel sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we're the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can't talk suffering to us. Tell her we're the iron fist now, tell her it's the fog of war, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they're animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldn't care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I don't care if the world hates us, tell her we're better haters, tell her we're chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it's not her."

I heard comments similar to these from some of my relatives during the war. Going back through the 24 years I've lived here, I've heard comments like these from relatives, neighbors, fellow soldiers - I've heard it and read it all over the place. I've heard it from Diaspora Jews too.

Who are we kidding? Does that monologue represent the voice of every Israeli and "pro-Israeli" Diaspora Jew? Of course not. But is it an authentic voice, a view of Palestinians held by many, many Jews here and abroad even if they don't express it publicly? Has that voice not gotten louder? And when push comes to shove with the Palestinians, as it did in Operation Cast Lead, does Seven Jewish Children not echo the inner (and often outer) voice of Israel at war?

I think it does. And I agree - it's an awful echo to hear.


'Bollocks': Jewish actor defends contentious play

Karl Quinn, The Age
May 08 2009

British actor, Miriam Margoyles

A PLAY that has been condemned by Jewish groups and some theatre critics as anti-Semitic will this month be performed at the State Library of Victoria.

The cast of the eight-minute Seven Jewish Children, by English playwright Caryl Churchill, includes Sydney-based Anglo-Jewish actor Miriam Margolyes and Max Gillies, husband of high-profile Melbourne Jewish identity Louise Adler.

It will be presented in a rehearsed reading on Monday, May 18, at 6.30pm by the lobby group Australians for Palestine.

The play has garnered praise from theatre critics in Britain, but was condemned by Christopher Hart in The Sunday Times ("ludicrous") and the Spectator's Melanie Phillips ("an open vilification of the Jewish people … sickening and dreadful beyond measure").

Even before the play has had its Australian debut, that response has been echoed in Melbourne.

Jeremy Jones, of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, said he had not read the play but was well aware of it. "Most of the people who you would take seriously on the question of racial vilification have labelled it anti-Semitic," he said.

"At the very least it is something that so greatly distorts the subject that it does the exact opposite of what great art does, which is to shed light on a topic." According to Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria, the play portrays "the complete antithesis of Israel".

"This play is simply another propaganda attempt to delegitimise the Jewish nation and to perpetuate the same lies that are continually played out in the media."

Seven Jewish Children consists of seven short movements about crucial stages in the history of Israel: the Holocaust, the aftermath of war, the settlement of Israel in 1948, the displacement of the Arabs, the Six-Day War, the Intifada and the war in Gaza, which began in December 2008.

The play unfolds in highly poetic form, with pairs of adults debating how to tell a child about the world. A typical exchange: "Tell her they want to drive us into the sea/Tell her they don't/Tell her they want to drive us into the sea./Tell her we kill far more of them/Don't tell her that."

Caryl Churchill wrote the work in January, during the war in Gaza. The text is freely available at

The local production was born about three weeks ago when Moammar Mashni, of Australians for Palestine met Margolyes in Melbourne. They decided to do a one-off reading.

Margolyes describes herself as an activist and visited Gaza with the UN 12 years ago. Yesterday she defended her part in the production.

"I think it's very important that Jewish people who think as I do… should say, 'Look, we're Jews, and we want Israel to survive, but not like this, not by killing other people.' " And what of the charges of anti-Semitism? "That's bollocks."

Gillies also railed against charges of anti-Semitism: "That criticism is wilful misinterpretation of the piece," he said.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

PACBI on McCarthyist campaign against Omar Barghouti

Dear friends,
please find below a statement issued by Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) about the campaign against Omar Barghouti, one of the founders and leaders of the current BDS campaign against Israel.

According to the website of the self-styled McCarthyist academic monitor group which has mounted the campaign against Omar, they are going to be delivering a hard copy of their petition to have Omar expelled from the University on May 10 (this coming Sunday).

Over the last couple of years, this group has also targeted Israeli anti-occupation activists, who oppose their government policies.

In addition, in the last couple of months, the Israeli state has also begun to step its harrasment of Israeli anti-occupation activists, arresting and raiding the homes of members of groups such as New Profile (a feminist, anti-militarist campaign group involving both women and men) and the Anarchists Against the Wall.

(see Gideon's Levy's recent article on the arrests and campaign against the activists: )

Please feel free distribute the PACBI statement below to your networks.

in solidarity, Kim


PACBI Statement on the McCarthyist Campaign against Omar Barghouti

Occupied Ramallah, 3 May 2009

Omar Barghouti

The impressive growth of the Palestinian civil society campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, particularly after its criminal war of aggression on the occupied Gaza Strip, is testimony to the morality and consistency of ordinary citizens and civil society organizations around the world concerned about restoring Palestinian rights and achieving justice for Palestinians.

The most recent achievement of the Israel boycott movement was the adoption of BDS-- nearly by consensus -- by the Scottish Trade Union Congress [1], following the example set by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU [2] and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU [3].

In despair over their evident inability to stop or even hold back the growing tide of BDS across the globe, Israel apologists have resorted to an old tactic at which they seem to excel: witch hunts and smear campaigns. A self-styled McCarthyist academic monitor group in Israel has launched a petition calling for the expulsion of Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), from Tel Aviv University, where he is enrolled as a doctoral student. The Israeli campaign urges the university administration to expel Barghouti due to his leading role in the BDS movement that calls for boycotting Israel and all institutions complicit in its occupation and apartheid

To date, more than 65,000 persons have reportedly signed this right-wing Israeli petition that depicts Barghouti as an “especially strident and persuasive voice” against Israeli colonial and racist policies. Several media columns by Zionist journalists in Israel and the United Kingdom, among others, have tried to use the “revelation” that Barghouti, “now enrolled” at an Israeli university, is politically inconsistent for calling for the boycott of all Israeli academic institutions while he is a student at one of them. Other than the clear dishonesty and underhandedness of these same media in presenting the case as if Barghouti has just -- or recently -- enrolled in an Israeli university despite themselves having reported years ago that he was already enrolled then [4], the reports have made some glaring omissions about the Israeli apartheid context, the widely endorsed criteria of the PACBI boycott, and the system of racial discrimination in Israel’s educational system against the indigenous Palestinians.

While consistently calling upon academics around the world to boycott Israel and its academic -- and cultural -- institutions due to their entrenched collusion in the state’s colonial and apartheid policies, [5] PACBI has never called upon Palestinian citizens of Israel and those who are compelled to carry Israeli identification documents, like Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem, to refrain from studying or teaching at those Israeli institutions. That would have been an absurd position, given the complete lack of alternatives available. Successive Israeli governments, committed to suppressing Palestinian national identity in their pursuit of maintaining Israel’s character as a racist state, have made every effort possible to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian university inside Israel. The only choice left to Palestinian students and academics in Israel, then, is to go to an Israeli university or leave their homeland to pursue their studies or academic careers abroad -- often not possible due to financial or other compelling reasons. In fact, the Israeli authorities have consistently worked to strip Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem of their Israeli ID cards and thus their residency rights while they study abroad, thereby prohibiting them from returning.

Palestinians in Israel are treated as second-class citizens in every vital aspect of life and are subjected to a system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination,” as admitted even in US State Department reports on human rights [6]. In the field of education this discrimination is dominant throughout the system, as the following conclusion from a ground-breaking Human Rights Watch study published in 2001 states:

“The hurdles Palestinian Arab students face from kindergarten to university function like a series of sieves with sequentially finer holes. At each stage, the education system filters out a higher proportion of Palestinian Arab students than Jewish students. ... . And Israel's courts have yet to use ... laws or more general principles of equality to protect Palestinian Arab children from discrimination in education.” [7]

Palestinians, like any people under apartheid or colonial rule, have insisted on their rights, including their right to education, even if the only venues available were apartheid or colonial institutions. Nelson Mandela studied law at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, one of the most notorious apartheid institutes then. Similarly, leaders of the anti-colonial resistance movement in India and Egypt, among many other countries, received their education at British universities at the height of the colonial era.

PACBI has always made a distinction between the forms and range of academic boycott it urges the world to adopt and what Palestinians themselves can implement. The former have a moral choice to boycott Israeli universities in order to hold them accountable for their shameful, multifaceted complicity in perpetuating the occupation and racist policies of the state; the latter are often left with no choice but to use the services of the oppressive state, to which they pay taxes.

Finally, we stress that it is precisely PACBI’s five-year-old record of moral and political consistency and the growing influence of its principles and the campaigns it and its partners have waged around the world that have provoked Zionist anti-boycott forces to try, yet again, to rehash old attacks of inconsistency, failing to understand or intentionally and deceptively ignoring the boycott criteria set by PACBI. We urge all academics, academic unions, cultural figures and cultural associations to adopt whatever creative form of BDS their context allows them. This remains the most effective and morally sound form of solidarity with the Palestinian people in our struggle for freedom, dignity, equality and self determination.

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)




[4] See for example:



[7] Human Rights Watch, Second Class: Discrimination Against Palestinian Arab Children in Israel's Schools, September 2001.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

ISM Freedom Summer 2009: Defend the Land and Jerusalem

Dear friends,
please find below the call by the ISM for their Freedom Summer Campaign in Palestine.

To find out more, please visit their website at

in solidarity,

The International Solidarity Movement is issuing a call-out for internationals to volunteer as field activists and office workers in the West Bank, Gaza, and occupied East Jerusalem this summer.

Whether you can come for only few weeks or several months, your presence is needed to support Palestinian communities who are nonviolently resisting the Israeli occupation. Freedom Summer 2009, which will run from June 6th until August 15th, aims to challenge the continued theft of Palestinian land for the rapid expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and their infrastructure in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Volunteer training sessions will be held every week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Visit our “Join Us in Palestine” section to read more information about volunteering.

Below are some of the actions ISM volunteers can anticipate this summer:

1. ISM volunteers will stand in solidarity with the Palestinian families of occupied East Jerusalem who face dispossession.

International activists will join families in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Shu’fat, and other neighborhoods whose residences are threatened, in resisting evictions and demolitions with non-violent, direct actions methods. ISM volunteers will also participate in demonstrations against discriminatory Israeli policies and support ongoing organization of Palestinian heritage and cultural events.

2. In the West Bank, volunteers will join Palestinian villagers in nonviolent demonstrations against the Wall, and other apartheid infrastructure of the occupation such as checkpoint, settlements, and Israeli-only roads. Activists will be working in communities such as Ni’lin, Bil’in, Jayyous, Husan and Tulkarem to support direct actions under Palestinian popular leadership. Recently Israeli military violence during nonviolent demonstrations has escalated, making it more important that international solidarity activists are present to help deter and document the repression from Israeli forces. Additionally, volunteers will accompany farmers and shepherds to deter violence from the Israeli military and settlers. In the South Hebron hills, the army’s designation of large areas as military closed zones will be challenged.

3. The ISM volunteers in the Gaza Strip will continue to accompany Palestinian farmers who frequently face live fire from the army as they work their land in the buffer zone. Volunteers will stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza against the crippling siege and sporadic attacks on the region. Several ISM activists will be joining the Free Gaza Movement’s Hope Fleet that will sail into Gaza’s port at the end of May. International activists will mass on the Egyptian border with Gaza between the 22nd of May and the 14th of June, in an attempt to challenging the ongoing closure and isolation of the people of Gaza. Individuals interested in volunteering with ISM Gaza must have previous experience with ISM in the West Bank.

Come to Palestine to support the Palestinian people in their struggle against occupation. Become an eyewitness to the Palestinian struggle for freedom! ISM volunteers have become better advocates for the freedom and self-determination of the Palestinian people in their home communities.
This summer, support and participate in the Palestinian non-violent resistance to the Occupation by using direct action methods to defend the land of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.


Israeli occupation forces invade Nil'in village and uproot village olive trees
11 February, 2009 - Video by ISM Palestine

About ISM

Who We Are
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles. Founded by a small group of activists in August, 2001, ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources, international protection and a voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force.

Why ISM?
Occupation is not going to be defeated by words alone; occupation, oppression an domination are going to be dismantled the same way they were erected — through people’s action. The Israeli army and the Israeli occupation can be defeated by strategic, disciplined unarmed resistance, utilizing the effective resources Palestinians can mobilize — including international participation.

In April 2002, with help from Palestinians, international activists were able to outmaneuver the Israeli military during two of its biggest military operations, entering and providing support to those trapped inside the Presidential Compound in Ramallah and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. More recently, ISM has supported strong Palestinian-led, nonviolent resistance movements against Israel’s Apartheid Wall in villages like Budrus and Biddu. In these villages peaceful community marches have succeeded in altering the Wall’s path and even stopping Wall construction.

International participation is important for a number of reasons:

1. Protection: An international presence at Palestinian civilian actions can ensure a degree of protection for Palestinians engaged in nonviolent resistance.
2. Message to the mainstream media: The Palestinian struggle is not accurately reported by the mainstream corporate media. The mainstream media portrays Israelis and Palestinians as two equal sides who can’t live together fighting over a piece of land, instead of an Israeli military occupation and a Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and human rights. People from all over the world that join us can reach out to their respective media and help dispel this notion.
3. Personal witness and transmitting information: International civilians joining Palestinians can bear witness and return home to talk to their communities about what is happening.
4. Break isolation and provide hope: The occupation isolates Palestinians and cuts them off from the rest of the world and from each other. International ciivilians coming in, despite restrictions, send a message to the Palestinian community - "we see, we hear and we are with you." Hope that people acting together can change things is a cornerstone of our philosophy and message.

Internationals with the ISM are not in Palestine to teach nonviolent resistance. Palestinians resist nonviolently ever day. The ISM lends support to the Palestinian resistance to the occupation and their demand for freedom through the following activities:

* Direct Action - challenging crippling checkpoints and curfew, confronting tanks and demolition equipment, removing roadblocks, participating in nonviolent demonstrations, accompanying farmers to their fields and protecting families whose homes are threatened with demolition.
* Emergency Mobilization - escorting ambulances through checkpoints, delivering food and water to families under curfew or house arrest, assisting the injured or disabled to access medical care and walking children to school.
* Documentation - documenting and reporting to local and international media about the daily life under occupation and the countless human rights and international law violations by the Israeli military.

Get Involved

ISM offers many ways for you to get involved in the struggle for Palestinian freedom. Whether you’re thinking of traveling to Palestine to work with us, or you’d like to work to educate your community about the reality in Palestine, we welcome your involvement.

The ISM is not an organization, but rather a movement which all organizations, groups and/or individuals who agree our principles can join. The ISM is based in Palestine and is led by Palestinians on the ground. Many ISM support groups around the world assist the ISM by dissemenating information, recruiting and training individuals to join us.

To join the ISM in Palestine, you must adhere to the following principles:

1. Belief in freedom for the Palestinian people based on all relevant United Nations Resolutions and international law.
2. Using only nonviolent, direct-action methods, strategies and principles to work towards our goal.

The ISM is non-hierarchical. Actions on the ground are ccoordinated with the larger Palestinian community and moved through a core group of committed activists. The core group is open to all activists, Palestinians or otherwise, who make a commitment to ISM’s work and take on coordinating responsibilities. The ISM uses consensus decision making in all of it’s activities.

International volunteers who join the ISM are responsible for paying their own way and covering all their expenses in Palestine. The ISM does not receive any funding from any state, government or association. We rely on donations from average people all over the world that support peace and the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

Support groups abroad fundraise to help activists who need assistance to come to Palestine. In Palestine, we use our funds to coordinate work on the ground — communications, transportation and legal fees are our major expenditures.