Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Socialists should support the boycott of Israel: a response to the Socialist Party of Australia

Dear friends,
in April, on the eve of the vote by the Marrickville Council in Sydney to rescind their support for BDS, the Socialist Party of Australia issued a statement on their Yarra Socialist website opposing BDS. In response to the Socialist Party of Australia's position - a position which is held by the CWI tendency which they are a part of - I have written this response arguing why not only are the Socialist Party wrong to oppose BDS but why socialists should support the Palestinian initiated Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. The Socialist Party position contains many arguments against BDS which is similar in some aspects (but not all) to the position also put forward by The Alliance for a Workers Liberty. While Workers Liberty and the Socialist Party are two socialist groups who have come out publicly against the Palestinian initiated BDS, many other socialists in Australia and internationally are actively in support of BDS (including my own political party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Australia

I have included here a link to the statement issued by the Socialist Party of Australia and my response as to why socialists should be supporting BDS below, which has been published in Direct Action (

Please feel free to distribute to your networks.

In solidarity, Kim


SOCIALIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA: Will boycotting help the Palestinians?

Home » Direct Action Issue 33 June-July 2011
Why socialists should support the boycott of Israel
By Kim Bullimore

On April 19, the same day that Marrickville Council met to reconsider its vote in support of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian human rights and against Israel, the Socialist Party of Australia issued a statement opposing the BDS campaign.

The statement, posted on the web site of Stephen Jolly, one of two Socialist Party councillors elected to the Yarra City Council in Melbourne, said “The “Socialist Party has been asked by a number of groups and individuals if our Councillors ... would consider supporting the campaign”. No doubt many of these inquiries would have been occasioned by the concerted campaign by the capitalist media against the NSW Greens and the Marrickville Council, both of which had voted to support the BDS campaign in December 2010. The media campaign, led by Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing pro-Zionist Australian newspaper, sought to cast the Marrickville Council as fiscally irresponsible and the NSW Greens as “nutters” and to pressure them into rescinding their support for BDS.

On April 19, the 12-member council voted to rescind its support for the international boycott of Israel, which had been adopted by a 10-2 vote on December 14. The April 19 motion, bizarrely, reaffirmed the three key planks of the BDS campaign, while at the same time resolving not to pursue BDS against Israel. The three BDS planks are an end to Israel’s occupation of all Arab lands, the dismantling of the apartheid wall and the right of Palestinians living in Israel to full equality and the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.

In its statement, the Socialist Party argued that, while a call for the “boycott of Israeli goods and institutions is understandable and usually well-intentioned”, it would not aid the Palestinian struggle. This was because “a boycott is unlikely to have a significant economic impact, not least because it will attract only partial participation” and because “it would play into the hands of the worst right-wing warmongers in Israel, and alienate Israeli workers, who are the only force capable of removing the brutal Israeli regime and participating in a lasting settlement with the Palestinian people”.

The Socialist Party of Australia sought to justify its position by saying, “Unlike several other groups on the left we understand that there is a class divide within Israel”. The statement went on: “... we are concerned that the BDS campaign has already been used by Israeli capitalist politicians to launch a propaganda offensive aimed at Israeli workers, driving those workers into the arms of the Israeli right. They argue that it shows that Israeli Jews are under siege and need to stick together against what they portray as an anti-Semitic stance.”

South African example
The statement notes that the South African BDS campaign, which the Palestinian BDS campaign is modelled on, did mobilise support for the struggle against the South African apartheid regime. While correctly noting that the key to ending apartheid was the mass movement of black South African workers, the Socialist Party downplays the contribution of the international BDS campaign to the overthrow of apartheid. The South African BDS campaign, launched in the 1950s after calls by black South Africans for an international boycott, significantly boosted internal resistance to the regime. In addition, the economic boycott and sanctions made it difficult for the regime to maintain internal cohesion among the capitalist class, whose profits were being impacted. As South African anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu noted in a 2008 speech to participants in the sporting boycott, “Refusal to kow-tow to racism was the sanction that hurt the supporters of apartheid the most”. Tutu went on to explain that the boycott campaign had aided the internal struggle by showing black South African workers that people outside South Africa stood with them in their struggle.

Challenging accepted ideas
The Socialist Party and others who hold a similar position ignore the fact that the BDS campaign has never been solely about making an economic impact. While this is an important objective, one of the primary aims of BDS has been to challenge the dominant discourse around the “question of Palestine”.

The Towards a Global Movement report issued by the Palestinian Stop the Wall campaign in 2007 notes: “... turning the tide within popular discourse and the media - building an acknowledgment of Palestinian rights - is a core objective of the campaign and goes hand-in-hand with activities on the ground attempting to implement the BDS appeal”. In particular, BDS, which is consciously shaped as an anti-colonial campaign, seeks to highlight Israel’s policies of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing and to counter the reduction of the “question of Palestine” to being merely a dispute over “contested land”. In particular, it counters attempts to exclude and ignore the rights under international law of the majority of Palestinians who are scattered around the world. While there is still a long way to go, in just six years the BDS campaign has dented the once unassailable discourse about the “Palestine question” in the corporate media and popular discussion. Today, discourse about Israel is peppered with words such as “apartheid”, “boycott”, “right of return”, something barely heard six years ago, when Palestinian civil society launched the BDS campaign.

Economic impact
Despite the claims of detractors such as the Socialist Party, BDS has also started to have an economic impact on the Zionist state. In April 2009, the Israeli manufacturers’ association reported that 21% of its 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. In recent months, as a result of BDS campaigns by solidarity activists, an increasing number of international contractors have pulled out of Israeli projects. For example, in May, the German state-owned company Deutsche Bahn, which was part of an Israeli rail project cutting through the occupied West Bank, pulled out because of potential breaches of international law.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli former prime minister and current defence minister, in a May 5 interview with the Hebrew edition of the Tel Aviv Haaretz newspaper, acknowledged the impact that BDS was having. According to an English translation of the interview by Israeli activist Ofer Neiman from Boycott from Within (the Israeli campaign in support of BDS), Barak said that BDS was more “dangerous than what the [Israeli] public perceives at the moment”. According to Barak, BDS is uniting trade unions, academics, consumers, green political parties and others in a movement to do to Israel “what was done to South Africa”. He noted: “... there are people in the European Council that deal with export and import; they are capable, without any government decision, of inflicting significant damage on the Israeli economy”.

Workers’ views
One of the arguments of the Socialist Party against BDS is that, unlike in South Africa, where “a majority of black workers supported international sanctions against the ruling white elite, Israeli workers are not in agreement with sanctions against Israel”. It is because of this, according to the Socialist Party, that a boycott would be “a gift to the Israeli right”.

It is clear from the Socialist Party’s statement that when it speaks about Israeli workers, it is in fact speaking predominantly about Jewish Israeli workers. Rather than challenging Zionism, a reactionary and racist ideology, which the majority of Jewish Israeli workers have adopted, the Socialist Party chooses to pander to it. Prior to the Oslo Accords, the majority of Jewish Israeli workers opposed talks with the Palestine Liberation Organisation and opposed even a two state-solution, something that the Socialist Party supports. Is the Socialist Party saying that because these positions were held by the majority of the Jewish Israeli working class, it would never have have put forward demands that countered such positions?

This amounts to acting as the rearguard of the working class rather than its vanguard. As Lenin noted in his 1903 polemic What is to be done?, the role of revolutionary socialists, whether in the trade unions or in social movements, is not to tail-end the working class but to raise its political consciousness. Lenin pointed out: “Working-class consciousness cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter what class is affected — unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a Social-Democratic [revolutionary socialist] point of view and no other”.

Unfortunately, in opposing BDS on the basis it does, the Socialist Party fails to seek to raise the political consciousness of Jewish Israeli workers. By failing to challenge politically the dominant ideology of Zionism, the Socialist Party leaves open the door for the Israeli ruling class to continue to exploit the Jewish Israeli working class.

‘Into the sea’
The Socialist Party’s pandering to Zionism is most evident in its argument that “The Palestinians and the Israeli Jews have a right to their own separate states”. Rather than calling for a democratic secular state for all, which would afford equal rights for all its citizens, the Socialist Party supports the creation of a Jewish-only (socialist) state for Israeli Jews.

When challenged about their reasons for supporting a Jewish-only state, albeit a socialist one, members of the Australian Socialist Party cited a 2002 article by Lynn Walsh, a leader of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), based in Great Britain, as offering a more in-depth explanation. In his article on the Palestine-Israel conflict, Walsh makes it clear that the CWI sees the Zionist movement as a national liberation movement of the Jewish people. The Socialist Party fails to understand that, far from being a movement of national liberation, the Zionist movement from its inception was, and continues to be today, a settler-colonial movement that seeks to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people from their land.

Walsh’s article makes it clear that the Socialist Party and CWI believe the notion that Jews are constantly under threat of being “driven into the sea” and that the Jewish state is the only way to protect the human rights of the Jewish people. According to Walsh, the aim of the Arab regimes “whether blatant or thinly veiled, appear[s] to be to drive the Jews into the sea”. This claim is a longstanding piece of Zionist propaganda, which originated not in a speech by an Arab leader but in a speech given by Zionist leader David Ben Gurion to the Israeli Knesset in 1961. Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, sought to justify the ethnic cleansing of more than 1 million Palestinians in 1948 by repeating the falsehood that Palestinians had left Palestine on the instruction of Arab leaders. According to Ben Gurion, they did this willingly “under the assumption that the invasion of the Arab armies at the expiration of the Mandate will destroy the Jewish state and push all the Jews into the sea, dead or alive”. This assertion was proven to be a historical falsehood by BBC journalist Erskine Childers in May 1961, several months before Ben Gurion’s speech. That a socialist organisation should uncritically promote a historical falsehood and blatant piece of Zionist propaganda is astounding.

‘National consciousness’
In their anti-BDS statement, as well as in informal comments in social media debates about their position, members of the Socialist Party reveal that they are politically confused about the issue of “national consciousness”. Socialist Party members have argued that their support for a Jewish-only state is justified because a national consciousness regarding Israel exists amongst the Jewish people. This is concretely reflected in the Socialist Party’s April 19 anti-BDS statement, which advocates “the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own”. In advocating this position, the Socialist Party reveals that it has bought into the Zionist notion that all Jews are part of a national grouping, rather than part of a religious or ethno-cultural grouping. This is a decidedly un-Marxist and un-Leninist position.

In 1903, in opposition to the Jewish socialists in the Bund, Lenin argued that it was “absolutely untenable scientifically” to claim that the Jewish people formed a separate nation. He said that “the idea that the Jews form a separate nation is reactionary politically” and that the “the idea of a Jewish ‘nationality’ is definitely reactionary not only when expounded by its consistent advocates (the Zionists) but likewise on the lips of those who try to combine it with the ideas of Social-Democracy [revolutionary socialism] (the Bundists)”.

The Socialist Party has sought to mitigate its support for a Jewish state, which is contrary to Marxist tradition, by saying that while it did not support the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, it must now support one because there is now a national consciousness among Jewish people.

Now that a territorial entity called Israel exists, the Socialist Party argues that socialists should abandon the position advocated by Lenin and adopt the reactionary and unscientific Zionist notion that all the Jewish people of the world form a national grouping. The Socialist Party fails to distinguish between a “Jewish state” and an “Israeli nation”. This is primarily because it has adopted the reactionary Zionist position that all Jewish people form a national grouping.

Within the Zionist framework, there is no such thing as an Israeli nation or nationality; instead Israel exists as a “Jewish nation” not an “Israeli nation”. Therefore, Israel makes a distinction between Israeli citizenship and nationality. While all Israelis (both Jews and the Palestinian minority in Israel) qualify as “citizens”, the state itself is defined as a “Jewish nation”. Thus it is a nation belonging not to just the Jews in Israel but to all Jews around the world. The Israeli state lists more than 130 nationalities for Israeli citizens - the two most predominant being Jewish and Arab. The one nationality that does not exist among the 130 is “Israeli”. This is to ensure that Palestinians do not have equal status with Jewish citizens.

By adopting the formulation of a “Jewish state”, even a socialist one, the Socialist Party buys into the reactionary Zionist narrative. The party’s support for a Jewish state, far from being in the interest of the Jewish proletariat, runs counter to their interests, as Lenin noted, because it reinforces and supports the reactionary fears and racist attitudes fanned by Zionism.

As Lenin noted in his polemic against the Bund, supporting a Jewish state “is to degrade the struggle from the plane of ideas and principles to that of suspicion, incitement and fanning of historically evolved prejudices. It glaringly reveals a lack of real ideas and principles as weapons of struggle.” We can only hope that the Socialist Party will reconsider its position of support for historically evolved prejudices and decide to support real ideas and principles as weapons of struggle, namely the Palestinian-initiated BDS campaign.

[Kim Bullimore is a member of the National Committee of the Revolutionary Socialist Party. She is a long-time Palestine solidarity activist who has lived and worked as an international volunteer in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories]

Fake Israeli hasbara video seeks to discredit Gaza Flotilla by claiming homophobia

Dear friends,
Israel has begun to step up its hasbara (propaganda) campaign in order to try and discredit the upcoming Gaza flotillas. Their latest attempt comes in the form of a youtube video accusing the London Flotilla organisers of homophobia. The video, however, has been exposed by American Jewish writer and activist, Max Blumenthal, along with Ali Abunimah and Benjamin Doherty from Electronic Intifada as not only being a fraud but being closely linked to the Israeli government and no doubt a piece of Israeli government propaganda. The video is clearly part of the ongoing Israeli government attempt to "pinkwash" its apartheid and occupation practices.

I have included links here to Ben Doherty's article (here), as well as links to the articles by Max Blumenthal (here) and Ali Abunimah (here).

In solidarity, Kim

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

West Bank Protest Organizer, Bassem Tamimi, to Judge: “Your Military Laws Are Non-Legit. Our Peaceful Protest is Just”

Dear friends,
this week my good friend Bassem Tamimi was brought before Israel military occupation courts for organising non-violent demonstrations in opposition to Israel's occupation and apartheid policy and the on going stealing of his village's land by the illegal Israeli colony of Halamish.

Please find below a media release from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee about Bassem's court appearance. The media release also includes, in full, Bassem's speech to the military court (one which he was not allowed to give in full).

The Real News have also put together an excellent news report on the struggle of An Nabi Saleh and the arrest of Bassem and Naji Tamimi.

You can keep up to date with the struggle of the people of An Nabi SAleh by visiting the Nabi Saleh Solidarity blog at:
Or you can join the Nabi Saleh Solidarity facebook page at:

In solidarity,


Video story by Real News

West Bank Protest Organizer, Bassem Tamimi, to Judge: “Your Military Laws Are Non-Legit. Our Peaceful Protest is Just”
By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

Press release: Monday, 6 June 2011
West Bank Protest Organizer, Bassem Tamimi, to Judge: “Your Military Laws Are Non-Legit. Our Peaceful Protest is Just”
Tamimi, who has been held in custody for over two months, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and held a defiant speech explaining his motivation for organizing civil resistance to the Occupation. (See his full statement below)

After more than two months in custody, the trial of Bassem Tamimi, a 44 year-old protest organizer from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, finally commenced yesterday. Tamimi, who is the coordinator for the Nabi Saleh popular committee, pleaded not guilty to the charges laid against him.

In a defiant speech handed before a crowded courtroom, Tamimi proudly owned up to organizing the protest in the village saying, “I organized these peaceful demonstrations to defend our land and our people.” Tamimi also challenged the legitimacy of the very system which trys him, saying that “Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws [...] that are enacted by authorities which I haven’t elected and do not represent me.” (See Tamimi’s full statement at court bellow).

Tamimi was interrupted by the judge who warned him that it was not a political trial, and that such statements were out of place in a courtroom. Tamimi was cut short and not allowed to deliver his full statement.

After Tamimi finished reading his shortened statement, the judge announced that the hearing’s protocol has been erroneously deleted. However he refused to submit the full written statement to the stenographer. She went on to dictate a short summary in her own words for official record.

Media contact: Jonathan Pollak +972-54-632-7736

The indictment against Tamimi is based on questionable and coerced confessions of youth from the village. He is charged with’ incitement’, ‘organizing and participating in unauthorized processions’,’ solicitation to stone-throwing’, ‘failure to attend legal summons’, and a scandalous charge of ‘disruption of legal proceedings’, for allegedly giving youth advice on how to act during police interrogation in the event that they are arrested.

The transcript of Tamimi’s police interrogation further demonstrates the police and Military Prosecution’s political motivation and disregard for the suspect’s rights. During his questioning, Tamimi was accused by his interrogator of “consulting lawyers and foreigners to prepare for his interrogation”, an act that is in no way in breach of the law.

Tamimi’s full statement:
Your Honor,

I hold this speech out of belief in peace, justice, freedom, the right to live in dignity, and out of respect for free thought in the absence of Just Laws.

Every time I am called to appear before your courts, I become nervous and afraid. Eighteen years ago, my sister was killed by in a courtroom such as this, by a staff member. In my lifetime, I have been nine times imprisoned for an overall of almost 3 years, though I was never charged or convicted. During my imprisonment, I was paralyzed as a result of torture by your investigators. My wife was detained, my children were wounded, my land was stolen by settlers, and now my house is slated for demolition.

I was born at the same time as the Occupation and have been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality, racism and lack of freedom ever since. Yet, despite all this, my belief in human values and the need for peace in this land have never been shaken. Suffering and oppression did not fill my heart with hatred for anyone, nor did they kindle feelings of revenge. To the contrary, they reinforced my belief in peace and national standing as an adequate response to the inhumanity of Occupation.

International law guarantees the right of occupied people to resist Occupation. In practicing my right, I have called for and organized peaceful popular demonstrations against the Occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half of the land of my village, Nabi Saleh, where the graves of my ancestors have lain since time immemorial.

I organized these peaceful demonstrations in order to defend our land and our people. I do not know if my actions violate your Occupation laws. As far as I am concerned, these laws do not apply to me and are devoid of meaning. Having been enacted by Occupation authorities, I reject them and cannot recognize their validity.

Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws which lack any legitimacy; laws that are enacted by authorities that I have not elected and do not represent me. I am accused of organizing peaceful civil demonstrations that have no military aspects and are legal under international law.

We have the right to express our rejection of Occupation in all of its forms; to defend our freedom and dignity as a people and to seek justice and peace in our land in order to protect our children and secure their future.

The civil nature of our actions is the light that will overcome the darkness of the Occupation, bringing a dawn of freedom that will warm the cold wrists in chains, sweep despair from the soul and end decades of oppression.

These actions are what will expose the true face of the Occupation, where soldiers point their guns at a woman walking to her fields or at checkpoints; at a child who wants to drink from the sweet water of his ancestors’ fabled spring; against an old man who wants to sit in the shade of an olive tree, once mother to him, now burnt by settlers.

We have exhausted all possible actions to stop attacks by settlers, who refuse to adhere to your courts’ decisions, which time and again have confirmed that we are the owners of the land, ordering the removal of the fence erected by them.

Each time we tried to approach our land, implementing these decisions, we were attacked by settlers, who prevented us from reaching it as if it were their own.

Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe, like us, that had it not been for the Occupation, we could all live in peace on this land. I do not know which laws are upheld by generals who are inhibited by fear and insecurity, nor do I know their thoughts on the civil resistance of women, children and old men who carry hope and olive branches. But I know what justice and reason are. Land theft and tree-burning is unjust. Violent repression of our demonstrations and protests and your detention camps are not evidence of the illegality of our actions. It is unfair to be tryed under a law forced upon us. I know that I have rights and my actions are just.

The military prosecutor accuses me of inciting the protesters to throw stones at the soldiers. This is not true. What incites protesters to throw stones is the sound of bullets, the Occupation’s bulldozers as they destroy the land, the smell of teargas and the smoke coming from burnt houses. I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror.

These demonstrations that I organize have had a positive influence over my beliefs; they allowed me to see people from the other side who believe in peace and share my struggle for freedom. Those freedom fighters have rid their conscious from the Occupation and put their hands in ours in peaceful demonstrations against our common enemy, the Occupation. They have become friends, sisters and brothers. We fight together for a better future for our children and theirs.

If released by the judge will I be convinced thereby that justice still prevails in your courts? Regardless of how just or unjust this ruling will be, and despite all your racist and inhumane practices and Occupation, we will continue to believe in peace, justice and human values. We will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion or ethnicity; embodying thus the message of the Messenger of Peace, Jesus Christ, who urged us to “love our enemy.” With love and justice, we make peace and build the future.

Bassem Tamimi is a veteran Palestinian grassroots activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. He is married to Nariman Tamimi, with whom he fathers four children – Wa’ed (14), Ahed (10), Mohammed (8) and Salam (5).

As a veteran activist, Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date and has spent roughly three years in Israeli jails, though he was never convicted of any offence. He spent roughly three years in administrative detention, with no charges brought against him. Furthermore, his attorney and he were denied access to “secret evidence” brought against him.

In 1993, Tamimi was falsely arrested on suspicion of having murdered an Israeli settler in Beit El – an allegation of which he was cleared entirely. During his weeks-long interrogation, he was severely tortured by the Israeli Shin Bet in order to draw a coerced confession from him. During his interrogation, and as a result of the torture he underwent, Tamimi collapsed and had to be evacuated to a hospital, where he laid unconscious for seven days.

As one of the organizers of the Nabi Saleh protests and coordinator of the village’s popular committee, Tamimi has been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army. Since demonstrations began in the village, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times, his wife was twice arrested and two of his sons were injured; Wa’ed, 14, was hospitalized for five days when a rubber-coated bullet penetrated his leg and Mohammed, 8, was injured by a tear-gas projectile that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder. Shortly after demonstrations in the village began, the Israeli Civil Administration served ten demolition orders to structures located in Area C, Tamimi’s house was one of them, despite the fact that it was built in 1965.

Legal background
On the March 24th, 2011, a massive contingent of Israeli Soldiers raided the Tamimi home at around noon, only minutes after he entered the house to prepare for a meeting with a European diplomat. He was arrested and subsequently charged.

The main evidence in Tamimi’s case is the testimony of 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub, also from Nabi Saleh, who was taken from his bed at gunpoint on the night of January 23rd. In his interrogation the morning after his arrest, Islam alleged that Bassem and Naji Tamimi organized groups of youth into “brigades”, charged with different responsibilities during the demonstrations: some were allegedly in charge of stone-throwing, others of blocking roads, etc.

During a trial-within-a-trial procedure in Islam’s trial, motioning for his testimony to be ruled inadmissible, it was proven that his interrogation was fundamentally flawed and violated the rights set forth in the Israeli Youth Law in the following ways:

1.Despite being a minor, he was questioned in the morning following his arrest, having been denied sleep.
2.He was denied legal counsel, although his lawyer appeared at the police station requesting to see him.
3.He was denied his right to have a parent present during his questioning.
4.He was not informed of his right to remain silent, and was even told by his interrogators that he is “expected to tell the truth”.
5.Only one of four interrogators present was a qualified youth interrogator.
While the trial-within-a-trial procedure has not yet reached conclusion, the evidence already revealed has brought a Military Court of Appeals to revise its remand decision and order Islam’s release to house arrest.

Over the past two months, the army has arrested 24 of Nabi Saleh’s residents on protest related suspicions. Half of those arrested are minors, the youngest of whom is merely eleven.

Ever since the beginning of the village’s struggle against settler takeover of their lands in December of 2009, the army has conducted 71 protest related arrests. As the entire village numbers just over 500 residents, the number constitutes approximately 10% of its population.

Tamimi’s arrest corresponds to the systematic arrest of civil protest leaders all around the West Bank, as in the case of the villages Bil’in and Ni’ilin.

Only recently the Military Court of Appeals has aggravated the sentence of Abdallah Abu Rahmah from the village of Bilin, sending him to 16 months imprisonment on charges of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. Abu Rahmah was released on March 2011.

The arrest and trial of Abu Rahmah has been widely condemned by the international community, most notably by Britain and EU foreign minister, Catherin Ashton. Harsh criticism of the arrest has also been offered by leading human rights organizations in Israel and around the world, among them B’tselem, ACRI, as well as Human Rights Watch, which declared Abu Rahmah’s trial unfair, and Amnesty International, which declared Abu Rahmah a prisoner of conscience.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

American Jewish activist, Lucas Koerner says "Not in my Name".

Dear friends,
no doubt may of you will have seen the footage already from the "Jerusalem Day" march by rightwing Israeli Zionists in Israel. The footage shoot by the Sheik Jarrah Movement, show the marchers chanting racist chants against Palestinians such as “let your village burn”, "butcher the Arabs", “death to Mohammad”, "I hate all Arabs" as well as “death to all leftist”. You can see the video here:

This annual march is little different to the Orangemen marches that took place in Northern Ireland. The pro-British Protestant Orangemen would deliberately march through the Catholic Republican neighbourhoods, The Orangemen march, like this march by Israeli Jewish Zionists, was all about the Occupier exerting their presence on an occupied people.

In the last few days other footage has emerged of a young Jewish American activist, who was arrested for standing on the sideline of the rightwing march. Lucas Koerner was violent arrested by the Israel police for peacefully demonstrating in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israel's occupation. You can watch footage of Lucas' arrest below in a video in which he explains why he is wearing a keffiyah, a kippah (traditional Jewish religious head covering for males), and Palestinian flag.
I have also included below Lucas' account of his arrest from his blog.

Lucas' treatment and arrest reminded me of a similar incident which took place in 2004, when I was with my Jewish team mates from IWPS, Kate and Hanah, who are two of the most amazing women I have the privilege of knowing. We had travelled into Occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank to attend a counterdemonstration organised by Israeli leftists against a massive settler demo of 100,000 in opposition to Sharon's disengagement plan. In order to get from East Jerusalme to the counter-demo in West Jerusalem, we had to pass through the settler demonstration. Kate, never shy in hiding her convinctions, was wearing a "Jews for a Free Palestine" t-shirt. On our way back, we lost one of our newly arrived team mates in the crowd and so were standing to the side of the demonstration trying to ring and locate her. I noticed a number of people were quisically reading the slogan on Kate's t-shirt. Before we knew it an elderly American Jewish Zionist accosted Kate and Hannah and began screaming at them, calling them "dirty whores" and a range of other sexists names and raising his fist at them threatening to hit them. Kate and Hannah stood their ground and refused to be intimidated by the Zionist and his abuse. The man's behaviour was witnessed by uniformed Israeli police and Border Police but not one attempted to stop his violent behaviour towards a group of peaceful women.

After about 15 minutes, a young undercover Israeli police office made himself known to us and started to blame us for the disturbance. I had the presence of mid to challenge him saying "I thought Israel was suppose to be a democracy!". To my surprise, he was taken aback by this and then said sheepishly "yes". So I asked," then why are you letting this man threaten these women? You need to put a stop to it". Sheepisly and to my suprise he then went on tried to stop the American Zionist. However, the American Zionist's abuse was soon started again, after he saw me taking photographs and then it was my turn to be verbally abused and physically threatened. Kate and Hannah were now coping abuse from other settlers. Again the Israeli police and border guards stood by and watch and laughed. Eventually, they must have decided that they had enough fun and then came and stood five across in front of us and pushed us to about 500 metres away, despite the fact we had been completely peaceful and simply trying to locate a missing colleague. While they physically restrained us, they ignored the settlers who had been the ones who had acted violently. While we were lucky not to be on the receiving end of the treatment Lucas received but I recall at the end of the incident, all five of us were extremely upset and in tears after being verbally abused, threatened with mass physical abuse and manhandled.

I know for me it marked the "turning point" - up until that stage, I had taken everything I had witnessed in my stride. Given it was my first time witnessing the Occupation, I was surprised I had been able to deal with the preceeding 6 weeks so well. But the settler attack, marked my psychological breaking point. For the next week, I voluntarily withdraw from dealing directly with either soldiers or settlers, as I knew I would not be able to engage with them in a calm or rational manner, as I was too angry about what I had witnessnessed over the last weeks. IWPS has a rule, that any engagement with Occupation Forces or settlers must not escalate a situation further and must not make the situation worse for Palestinians. If at anytime our engagement is not able to meet this criteria, then we voluntarily step back and allow our other team mates to take the lead in dealing with the situation.

Please share Lucas' video and story with your networks

In solidarity, Kim

My Arrest by Lucas Koerner - 9th June 2011

Returning from Hebron Wednesday afternoon, I glanced outside my window, only to see miles and miles of blue and white. Today was Jerusalem Day, and a parade of thousands marched through the streets celebrating, as if in an orgy of nationalistic fervor, the 44th anniversary of the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem. What shocked me initially was how eerily monolithic the procession was: it seemed as though the ocean of Israeli flags was meant to blur all distinctions between old and young, boss and worker, women and men, settler and 48er. In light of the events of recent days, I sensed a strong political undertone beneath the cheers and yells of the ecstatic crowds. Coming on the heels of Netanyahu’s defiant speech before Congress, it appeared to me that the marchers streaming down Sultan Suleiman St. that evening sought to echo their PM’s bold remarks, that all of Jerusalem was “theirs” forever. Indeed, it seemed that this display of triumphal nostalgia concealed a deeper, far weaker emotion, a lurking fear of a future in which nothing between the river and the sea would be exclusively “theirs” but would have to be shared with the other.
After witnessing first hand, over the past week and a half, the many horrors the occupation has inflicted on the Palestinian people, my fellow delegates and I trembled with indignation at the chutzpah of these Israeli marchers as they boisterously paraded through East Jerusalem, brandishing their flags of conquest. Prompted by the traffic to walk the rest of the way to our hotel, we were inspired to launch an impromptu parade of our own. Donning our keffiyehs we had purchased at the Hebron Keffiyeh factory and our small Palestinian flags, we we’re met by spit, aluminum cans, and pure, unadulterated hatred. Police instantly set upon us, accosting me, demanding that I put away my 3 by 5 inch Palestinian flag. It was remarkable how so much as giving voice to the other, the “Arab”, the Palestinian, in 3 by 5 form in E. Jerusalem no less could ignite such visceral fear and hatred.

Upon returning to the Holy Land Hotel, my comrades (Haneen, Amanda, Peter, Lydia, Tammy & Tiffany) and I decided that we would go back to the parade merely to hang out and observe, this time without our small Palestinian flags. In order to avoid any provocations, we simply posted up on the side walk, and, still wearing our keffiyehs, we proceeded to wave and make peace sign gestures to the paraders, who marched on the other side of the street, separated from us by a high gate. The initial reaction of the marchers was a combination of shock and disbelief. I myself had elected to wear, along with my keffiyeh, a kippah adorned with a small Palestinian flag. This last article of clothing on my head contributed, I believe, more than anything else to the climate of collective bewilderment, especially among the youth. For them, Judaism and its physical symbol, the kippah, were inseparably bound up with the particular strain of ethno-religious nationalism associated with the state of Israel. It simply never occurred to them that a Jewish person would, in the name of Jewish ethics, stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom. I feel that it was precisely this cognitive dissonance on a societal level that formed the motivation for my arrest.

As we walked up and down the sidewalk, waving our peace signs, many Palestinians of all ages approached to join us. With twenty or thirty people now gathered on the sidewalk facing the parade, we turned over leadership of what had become a demonstration to Palestinian activists, and we happily clapped and danced to their songs and chants. Standing on two feet high pylons, we tried to maintain our visibility as internationals in order to confer as much protection as possible to the Palestinians. The demonstration remained totally peaceful - just singing, whistling, and clapping. In fact, much to the chagrin of the paraders, we often danced to their music. Many Palestinians, fascinated with my kippah, approached me and exclaimed, “I love you”. For a moment, a space was opened for Palestinians to freely gather in their own streets and protest, peacefully demanding their basic rights. We were soon to learn just how brief that moment would be.

Suddenly, the police moved in without warning of any kind. Officers on horseback came so close to the sidewalk, nearly hitting some of the demonstrators. I stepped down from the pylon. In that instant, my impulse to flee was counteracted by the firm realization that, standing on a sidewalk waving a peace sign, I had every right to be there, and if I fled, who would stand with the Palestinians? I stepped back up on the pylon. Moments later, an Israeli police officer ran up, seized me, and dragged me to the other side of the street. He then punched me in the face, put me in a choke hold, and with four other officers, slammed me to the ground. I was eventually handcuffed and carried to the car; I allowed my body to go limp and refused to walk on my own in a gesture of nonviolent defiance. Throughout the whole affair, the only thing audible coming from the policemen was a constant stream of curses words, “motherfucker”, “piece of shit”, etc., which was to me a ringing confirmation of how infuriated and threatened they were by a 19-year old wearing a kippah and a keffiyeh standing with the Palestinians.

To be continued in the next post: “In Israeli Jail”

Union Delegates refuse to support TULIP's pro-normalisation, anti-BDS position

Dear friends,
in 2009, 3 rightwing trade union leaders set up TULIP or Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine, a pro-normalisation, anti-BDS group in support of the Israeli state. As TULIP's website notes: "Trade union leaders from three continents have announced the launch of a new global movement... The movement is called TULIP – Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine.The leaders are Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (USA), and Michael J. Leahy, OBE, General Secretary of Community (United Kingdom)"

The problem, however, for Applebaum, Leahy and Howes is that they forgot to actually ask their unions, its elected bodies and their rank and file membership if they wanted to support their leaders pro-Zionist, anti-Boycott stance.

Several days ago, at its first national conference since then delegates of Leahy's union, the Community Union in the UK voted to not support Leahy and his position. that decision.

The Morning Star has this report on the Community Union vote.

In Australia, I have challenged publicly a number of time, Howes' chief communication officer to provide a public record of when any elected body of the AWU or its membership had voted to support Howes pro-normalisation, anti-BDS position. Each time I asked, my question was studiously and deliberately ignored.

Let's hope that sometime soon the rank and file of the AWU will follow in the steps of the comrades in the UK Community Union.

In solidarity,

Keep boycotting Israel say delegatesTuesday 07 June 2011
by Louise Nousratpour in Southport

Community union delegates delivered a crushing blow today to the executive's attempt to force through a resolution aimed at undermining the TUC policy of boycotting Israeli goods produced in illegal settlements.

Members at the union's biennial conference in Southport accused the leadership of using it to obtain a "retrospective mandate" from members to support Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (Tulip), which they labelled "an apologist" for Israeli war crimes.
Tulip was co-founded by the union's general secretary Michael Leahy in 2009 to challenge what he labelled "apologists for Hamas" in the labour movement.
Presenting the Middle East peace process motion to conference on behalf of the executive, Pat Donnelly said: "An enduring peace can only come about through non-violent means and must be based on a viable two-state solution."
Mr Donnelly claimed that "taking sides" in the Palestine-Israel conflict would be counterproductive.
Opposing the motion Scunthorpe delegate Simon Brears argued that the union's national executive was asking members to take the Israeli government's side.
"Since 2009 Community has been part of Tulip without a mandate from members," he said.
"This motion is a retrospective mandate for Tulip, which acts as an apologist for war crimes and human rights abuses committed by the Israeli government.
"Supporting Tulip is taking sides."
Mr Brears warned delegates that the motion's "tacit" rejection of the TUC policy would "isolate the union and send a message to the movement that Community is a nasty, right-wing union."
During a panel discussion before the motion was taken Trade Union Friends of Israel conference guest speaker Eric Lee, who helped to found Tulip, branded the TUC boycott an "extremist position" that sought to "isolate and demonise" Israel.
Mr Lee also claimed that Britain's unions and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) did not support a two-state solution.
But PSC speaker Hugh Lanning hit back.
He stressed the need for two states based on the 1967 borders - a demand recently backed by US President Barack Obama but consistently rejected by Israel.
"At the moment there is only one state - Israel," he said.
"A two-state solution objectively means the creation of a free, independent Palestinian state which does not exist right now."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stars make history with Palestine song

31 May 2011


Stars make history with Palestine song

First popular single to support Palestinian freedom struggle

Leading international musicians today announced plans to make history with the first popular song to support Palestinians’ struggle for justice.

The song, ‘Freedom for Palestine’, is performed by musicians calling themselves OneWorld. Faithless/Slovo star Dave Randall was inspired to write and produce the single after a trip to the West Bank.

OneWorld includes Randall, Jamie Catto (1 Giant Leap), Maxi Jazz (Faithless), LSK, Harry Collier (Kubb), Andrea Britton, Sudha (Faithless), Andy Treacy (Faithless/Moby/Groove Armada), Attab Haddad and Joelle Barker.

The track brings together leading members of seminal dance act Faithless for the first time since the band officially split up in April.

Dave Randall said,

“As a child growing up in Britain, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa seemed a long way away until I heard the song 'Free Nelson Mandela' by The Special AKA. Now, apartheid in South Africa has fallen, but something very similar remains in Palestine - as I discovered when I visited Gaza and the West Bank recently. What I saw convinced me that it is time for a new generation of musicians from around the world to stand up for Freedom for Palestine.”

Many commentators – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter – have drawn a parallel between Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land with South African apartheid.

The song also features the Durban Gospel Choir and members of the London Community Gospel Choir.

During the last year Faithless, Massive Attack, Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, the Tindersticks, the Klaxons and the Gorillaz Sound System have all cancelled gigs in Israel over increased repression of Palestinians.

The news comes as British foreign secretary William Hague today backed US president Barack Obama’s call for an independent Palestinian state.

It also emerges only days after Israeli troops shot dead at least 13 Palestinians in protests over the occupation.

The single will be available for pre-order from 31 May, one year on since Israeli commandos killed and injured many activists in a raid on a flotilla of ships delivering aid to besieged Gaza.

The music video – which features the artists recording the single, as well as comedian Mark Thomas, rapper Lowkey and poet Michael Rosen, the former children’s laureate – will be made publicly available on YouTube on the same day.

Chart release will be on 3 July.

The track is being remixed by notable dance producers including Phil Jones from Specimen A.

It is backed by the anti-poverty charity War on Want and proceeds from sales of the song will go to support its projects in Palestine.

See also