Thursday, May 31, 2012

Anarchists Against the Wall & Sheikh Jarrah movement reject Madonna's invitation to whitewash Israeli apartheid & occupation

Dear friends,
as you may be aware, Madonna, is currently performing in White City (Tel Aviv) ignoring the call by Palestinian civil society for artists and cultural performers to boycott Israel until it abides by International Law.  

Madonna has attempted to whitewash her whitewashing of Israel's apartheid and occupation policies by inviting "peace" groups to the concert (originally she had announced she was going to stage a "peace concert" but it was change to invitations to her existing concerts).

Many so-called Israeli "peace" groups accepted her invitation, thus actively participating in the whitewashing of Israel's human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. 

As Boycott from Within, an Israeli group which campaigns in support of the Palestinian civil society BDS call issued an open letter to Israeli NGO's earler this month in relation to Madonna's breaking of the boycott picketline and Israeli NGO's accepting her concert invitation that:
Each and every artist playing Israel while turning a blind eye to its ongoing occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people, is also helping it maintain a facade of business as usual while sending a green light to the continuation of the systematic violations of international law and the disrespect of universally recognized human rights. 
Therefore, holding a “peace concert”, which utterly disregards Palestinian rights would be nothing but a blatant attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes – an effort that may only be carried out with the help and active participation of your organization. It is an unfortunate situation that most Israeli NGOs will assist in such a re-branding campaign rather than shun away from it. We therefore urge you to side with freedom, justice and equality. Take these values seriously and refuse to lend a hand to the peace propaganda machine.

While a number of Israeli NGO's including the group Peace Now accepted Madonna's invitation, the invitation was rejected out of hand by the principled activists involved in Anarchists Against the Wall and the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement.  Both groups have issued public statements explaining that they had no interesting in whitewashing Israel's human rights abuses.

Anarchists Against the Wall in their media release state they refuse to be part of Israel and Madonna's whitewash campaign, highlighting both their support for the 2005 Palestinian BDS call and the restrictions and human rights abuses against their Palestinian comrades by the Israeli government (for more details see below).

The Sheikh Jarrah Movement in a statement posted to their Facebook page noted:
Madonna has never criticised the Israeli occupation, its separation policies, or its regime of privileges. Therefore, we believe that the reason she sought the presence of Israeli peace activists was to further a public image of an artist who promotes peace in the Middle East. We refuse to be a public relations gimmick for Madonna at the expense of the Palestinians. This is not our way.
I have included below the press release issued by Anarchists Against the Wall, as well as the news story run by Israeli media outlet, Walla, on their refusal.

Also included is a new video made by activists in Israel and Palestine highlighting the hypocrisy of Madonna's peace concert and the aparthied system faced by Palestinians.

You can also read the statement issued by the Israeli group Boycott from Within calling on Madonna not play in Israel and to respect the Palestinian BDS campaign here.

In solidarity,
Kim




Anarchist Against the Wall PRESS RELEASE:
Anarchists Against the Wall: "We Challenge the Apartheid Government of Israel to Give Permits to 4 of Our Palestinian Comrades to Go to the Madonna Concert."

Anarchists Against the Wall were surprised to find out that they were one of the NGOs chosen by Madonna's production company, Shuki Weiss LTD, to receive free tickets to the extra concert slated for later this week. "We are shocked that the government, that shoots at us every Friday, by proxy of it's occupation army, is trying to buy us with tickets to Madonna's concert", said A, an activist with the group.

Anarchists Against the Wall is an action group of Israeli citizens who have been joining the weekly demonstrations in Palestinian villages, for the past decade. "Madonna has never criticised the Israeli occupation, its separation policies, or its regime of privileges. Therefore, we believe that the reason she sought the presence of Israeli peace activists was to further a public image of an artist who promotes peace in the Middle East. We refuse to be a public relations gimmick for Madonna at the expense of the Palestinians. This is not our way.
In 2005 a call was issued by Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions of the state of Israel and its institutions, including a cultural boycott. Madonna was approached by the movement before her 2009 concert in Israel, and was asked to respect the Palestinian call for cultural boycott of Israel and cancel her performance.

"The 2009 concert came at the heels of "Cast Lead", when over 1400 Palestinians were killed by the Israel's army in Gaza,'" A says, "Shuki Weiss LTD, along with a group of other producers of big name celebrities calling themselves 'Creative Community for Peace', work hand in hand with the Israeli Government in an attempt to use these concerts to whitewash the brutal military occupation of the Palestinian people, and present an image of normalcy in a place where apartheid and ethnic cleansing is being practiced as daily routine. Madonna's performances are just one example of the deliberate use of big names from abroad to divert the world's attention from these policies. Madonna's concert is an approval of apartheid."


Stopped By Apartheid on the Way to Madonna's "Peace Concert"
video by: noamimlyth

video

you can also watch the above video on youtube here

**
Walla article:

Madonna's concert guests: "Anarchists Against the Wall"
By Nir Yahav, system and Walla!
Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 21:15
...
The Activists of "Anarchists Against the Wall" (AATW) were surprised to find out they had been invited to Madonna's concert at Ramat Gan Stadium (tomorrow). The invitation came as part of an initiative by Madonna, who had intended to hold a concert for peace, but when it was merged with the first concert, it was decided to invite peace organizations and human rights groups free of charge.

AATW Activists announced that they refuse to accept the invitation, because the of situation which Palestinians in the territories face. "Our friends are in an open-air prison and are denied the most basic rights," said an activist in the group. "Our friends are prevented from coming to the show because they live under a policy of separation that prevents the freedom of movement." We are not prepared to accept this bribe when our colleagues are in administrative detention, an open-air prison in Gaza, denied their most basic rights ".

"Madonna's performances are just one example of the deliberate use of the international celebs in order to distract the world's attention away from these policies," the group added. "Madonna's appearance amounts to an expression of agreement with apartheid."

[Local] sources in the concert's production told Walla! Culture that peace organizations had indeed been invited to attend the show, but the decision on which organizations should be invited had not been made by the Israeli production team of the show.
 
Original Hebrew Walla article can be read here. English Translation by Ofer Neiman.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Photos & Update on London protest against Israel's National Theatre Company, Habima: Don't entertain Israeli Apartheid


Dear friends,

Please find below a short report and photographs from the BDS protest which took place tonight in London outside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre highlighting the fact that Habima, Israel's National Theatre Company which had been invited to perform at the theatre was complicit in supporting Israel's apartheid and occupation policies and whitewashing Israel's human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

As many of you will be probably be aware, Habima is Israel's national theatre company. The theatre company receives approximately 30% of its funding from the Israeli state and has regularly staged shows in the illegal Israel colony of Ariel in the Occupied West Bank. Habima is also used by the Israeli government as part of its "Brand Israel" campaign to deflect attention and whitewash Israel's atrocities against the Palestinians by attempting to normalise Israel's occupation and apartheid policies.


On 28th May, on the first of Habima's two nights of performances, Palestine solidarity activists staged a protest calling for the Globe to not entertain Apartheid. Around 110-130 people attended the pro-Palestine protest outside the theatre, while aroudn 60 or so people attended the Zionist counter demonstration.

In addition to the Palestine solidarity protest outside the theatre, 17 Palestine solidarity activists were able to enter the theatre and stage rolling protests through out the production. The Globe had hired extra security guards and frisked audience members going into the performance. Despite this Palestine solidarity activists were able to take in several banners, flags and signs which were unfurled though out the performance.

Protestors had decided before hand to conduct a well coordinated protest at staged intervals and to conduct a primarily silent protest.

Some activists silently unfurled banners with the slogan "Israeli apartheid leave the stage", two activists unfurled a flag and when this was taken from them remained standing silently for an hour in their seats with their hands raised displaying the peace sign. Others silently stood for more than an hour with their mouths taped over.

Towards the end of the protest, some activists called out Free Palestine and British actor, John Graham Davies called out, as he was being removed by security personnel, the two famous lines from the Merchant of Venice spoken by Shylock and which had already been spoken by the Habima actors on stage. Davies, however, adapted the words calling out:
"Hath not a Palestine eyes?" and "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"
Upon staging their protest, most of the activists were aggressively removed by the hired security, despite the completely peaceful and silent nature of the protest.

Around 30 activists remained outside the theatre until the end of the performance, greeting the audience as they left with chants highlighting Israel's apartheid policies and also highlilghting the oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.

Pro-Palestine solidarity activists will stage a second protest tomorrow at the second Habima performance.

BACKGROUND TO PROTEST:

In 2010 more than 60 Israeli actors, playwrights and directors signed on in support of an open letter pledging not to perform in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and protesting Habima, and other leading companies who stage performances in the illegal Israeli colony of Ariel.

The letter, which was addressed to Israel's culture minister, Limor Livnat, states the new centre for performing arts that had just been built in Ariel, and was scheduled to open in November 2010 would "strengthen the settlement enterprise". (for more on this, click here).

A week after the actors, playwrights and directors announced their support for the boycott of Ariel Performing Arts Centre, 150 Israeli academics and several dozen artists and authors also signed on in support of the boycott and the artists boycotting Ariel.

The 150 academics stated:
"We support the theater artists refusing to play in Ariel, express our appreciation of their public courage and thank them for bringing the debate on settlements back into the headlines," the petition said. "We'd like to remind the Israeli public that like all settlements, Ariel is also in occupied territory. If a future peace agreement with the Palestinian authorities puts Ariel within Israel's borders, then it will be treated like any other Israeli town."
The Israeli boycott of the Ariel Performance Theatre soon gained support internationally from actors, playrights, directors and artists outside of Israel.

When it was announced that Habima had been invited by Shakepeare's Globe Theatre to perform in London, BDS activists in the UK issue a call to the Globe asking them not to enterain Israeli Apartheid.

In March, British actors, playwrights and directors, including actor/director, Emma Thompson, issued a call for Shakepeare's Globe Theatre to recind its invitation to Habima saying:

We notice with dismay and regret that Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London has invited Israel's National Theatre, Habima, to perform The Merchant of Venice in its Globe to Globe festival this coming May. The general manager of Habima has declared the invitation "an honourable accomplishment for the State of Israel". But Habima has a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory. Last year, two large Israeli settlements established "halls of culture" and asked Israeli theatre groups to perform there. A number of Israeli theatre professionals – actors, stage directors, playwrights – declared they would not take part".

In solidarity, Kim


Outside protest photos credit: Kim Bullimore

 Zionist counter demonstration at around 6pm

 Palestinian Solidarity protest around 6pm
 Palestine solidarity protest at around 7pm
 Zionist counter rally in the distance - in between are som Zionists demonstrators, some Palestinian activists, as well as police and theatre goers
 Young women activists wearing their politics proudly on their sleeves (well, arms)



 Placard from demo - reflecting the Israeli Embassy attempt at a whitewash twitter campaign under the hashtag #LoveCulture.  Details of the twitter campaign were leaked and Palestine solidarity activists countered with #LoveCulture #HateApartheid and placard bearing image of William Shakespeare calling for an end to occupation and colonisation.


Peaceful pro Palestine activists surrounded by police as theatre audience leave Globe

***
Inside Protest photos credit: Tony Greenstein (to visit Tony's blog click here)

 First banner drop  - Israeli Apartheid leave the stage
 This protestor stood for nearly the entire production with her mouth taped shut in protest of Habima's role in whitewashing Israel's occupation
Second banner drop - Justice for Palestine

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Racist pogrom against African refugees in Tel Aviv

Dear friends,
I am sure many of you will have heard about the appalling racist pogrom against African refugees, spurred on by Israeli Knesset members, that took place in Tel Aviv last week.  

I have included below a video shot by journalist, David Sheen, who has been following the anti-African demonstrations for the last year. David's video, which he as dubbed "Not racist? May you be raped!"  is of a mob surrounding an Israeli woman who objected to the racism against African refugees screaming at her repeatedly that she deserved to be raped.

As Israeli blogger, Yossi Guvitz notes the woman attacked in the video is his partner and as they were leaving the area, they were physically attacked several times by the mob  (click here to read Gurvitz article on what happened).

I have also included an article by Israeli activist and journalist, Haggai Mattar, outlines how he was singled out from the stage as a "traitor" to Israel and was then attacked by the racist mob.  In the article, he mentions standing with Haaretz reporter, Ilan Lior, when he was attacked. Lior, has also written an article, published in Haaretz about the mob attack.

The racist mob went onto attack African refugees, including one woman holding a baby, who accidenty dropped the child due to the force of the attack on her. The baby had to be hospitalised.  The mob also attacked African migrants and refugees in a car and smashed up an African cafe.  17 people were arrested, some while in the process of assaulting refugees.

The Israeli Knesset members who incited the pogrom have attempted to claim they did no such thing.  One politician claimed that she did not call refugees a cancer of the body of Israelis, however, video proves that she did in fact do so.

Following the attack on refugees, Israel activists organised demonstrations opposing racism and in support of the African asylum seekers.

in solidarity, Kim




Last night I had to flee a raging mob not too far from my home in south Tel Aviv. After long speeches of incitement by right-wing parliamentarians, the masses stormed after me and a fellow journalist, and then turned on African asylum seekers, their businesses and their homes. This is how it happened.
Crowd setting fire on the main road of Hatikva (Activestills)
A crowd starting a fire on the main road of Hatikva (Activestills)

It started out as a fairly quiet demonstration – or demonstrations, to be precise. One small demonstration took place in Shapira, my neighborhood, where several weeks ago an Israeli young man threw Molotov cocktails into asylum seekers’ homes. The dominant discourse here was, as is typical of the neighborhood, more moderate, and focused on blaming the government (and not the asylum seekers) for local hardships in south Tel Aviv.

On my way to the central right-wing demonstration in Hatikva neighborhood, a five minute bike ride to the east, I ran into several dozen demonstrators walking in the opposite direction. It turns out that these were J14 activists from all over the city, who wanted to make a point of the importance of finding solutions to benefit both veteran Israeli communities, struggling to make a living and fearing a rise in crime, and the masses of African asylum seekers who have no jobs and nowhere to go but these parts of the city. They felt unwelcome at the central demonstration and decided to split and form this march.

The central demonstration was organized mostly by Likud activists, which was somewhat strange to begin with, as the protest was officially aimed at the Likud led government. It started out quite peacefully, and a group of us journalists and photographers was standing on the side, somewhat bored and discussing plans for the weekend. On the stage, local residents told stories of attacks they experienced by African asylum seekers, while MKs from the Likud and parties further to the right were placing the blame for all the neighborhoods’ hardships on the asylum seekers and “the left.” The crowd was growing uneasy, but none of us thought that this would turn into anything big.

Clashes with police in Hatikva. 17 were arrested (Activestills)
Clashes with police in Hatikva. 17 people were arrested (Activestills)

And then it happened
It all started with one woman who came at me out of nowhere, and started screaming: “You throw stones at soldiers! Shame on you! Get the hell out of here!” I tried to say that I have never thrown stones at anybody in my life, but she was not exactly in the mood for dialogue. “You lie! I see you every week on television throwing stones at soldiers and calling them Nazis!”

From this point on everything happened extremely fast. The one woman turned into two, then a group of ten people, which kept on growing. I tried to explain that this was a misunderstanding, that I never attacked any soldier, that I am a resident of Shapira and a journalist covering the protest. But I was talking to myself. Nobody was listening.

Only four seconds or so must have passed before similar charges were leveled at my colleague, Ilan Lior of Ha’aretz, who was standing next to me. “You too throw stones at soldiers! I drive a bus and every week I see you attacking checkpoints!” someone yelled. A hand from the crowd grabbed Ilan’s notepad and threw it in the air. Ilan was trying to say that he was never in the occupied territories and that it’s all a misunderstanding, but he too was talking to himself. Nobody was listening.

At this point, about six Border Police officers showed up and tried to stand between the growing mob and the two of us. I hoped this would help, but soon enough an older woman broke through and leaped towards me, beating my chest, back and hands. I started retreating, knowing that I wouldn’t stand a fighting chance against the masses if I tried to stop her. I lost sight of Ilan. He was sucked into the crowd. I had an open road behind me, I could escape. I feared for Ilan. I feared for myself.
I knew no one would come to my aid. Faced with the angry mob and seeing more people coming from behind me and looking for action – I chose flight. A speaker on the central stage was saying how Daphni Leef and her J14 friends were actually the cause of all “our” problems. I was standing near a police car, wondering how I would get my bike back from the demonstration area, when I heard the loudspeakers announcing that “Haggai Matar is here, and he and his mother are traitors who should be kicked out of the country.” This was really time to split and go home.

Mob charging the bridge (Activestills)
The mob charging the bridge (Activestills)

And then the mob began to charge forward
I was walking back towards my part of town when I heard a massive cry, looked back, and was horrified to see the mass – about 1,000 people strong – racing forward in my direction, screaming “Sudanese to Sudan!” Later, I would find out that Ilan managed to escape the crowd around him, that 20 people started to chase him, and that the 20 soon turned into this horde I was seeing. Ilan was grabbed by policemen who possibly saved his life when they tossed him into a police car and got out of there.

I kept on running and reached the Hagana Bridge, separating the greater part of Tel Aviv from its eastern neighborhoods. It is also the bridge separating Hatikva from Shapira, Neve Sha’anan and LevinskyPark, where dozens and hundreds of asylum seekers sleep at nights. Right now this bridge was – like in old times – the last line of defense between the mob and the area most densely populated by foreigners.

Fortunately, the police realized this, and was successful in stopping the human flow on the bridge. Unfortunately, this was not the end. A car packed with Africans was caught in the crowd, its windows shattered, its riders threatened and saved by police. Seeing this from afar I decided it was time to go home, but reports kept flowing in: the mob turned back into Hatikva and attacked asylum seekers’ businesses and homes, looted at least one store, and attacked random black people on the streets. Seventeen were arrested, but the attacks went on for hours. An Activestills photographer present on the scene later told me that the pictures he took tell only a small portion of the story. He was threatened not to take pictures of looters, and saw so many stones thrown at houses and people beaten (mostly quite lightly) on the streets – that he couldn’t possibly take pictures of it all.

Morning is now up, broken windows of shops and houses need mending, and the peace is somewhat restored. At the end of the day, we must remember that most of the people in our southern neighborhoods largely live together in peace. Many try to bridge gaps and find solutions. Many on both sides know that their enemy is not the asylum seekers or the local Israeli population but the government – which is both creating this impossibly flammable situation and throwing burning matches into it. But this is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning.

African woman and her child in Hatikva after the riot (Activestills)
African woman and her child in Hatikva after the riot (Activestills)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Left Turn: Political Essays for the New Left


Dear friends,

I am very pleased and excited to let you know that I have recently contributed to a new book on the Australian Left which is being published by Melbourne University Press and which will be out in late May 2012.

The book, Left Turn, is edited by Jeff Sparrow and Antony Loewenstein and is a collection of essays by a range of Australian activists, progressive writers, commentators and politicians.

I am very please to say that my chapter is on "BDS and the Struggle for a Free Palestine" in Australia.

To find out more you can checkout the Left Turn FB page
here.

If you are in Melbourne, Jeff, Antony and myself will be doing a Left Turn related presentation at the Wheeler Centre on June 21st.

For other book related events in Sydney and elsewhere, you can find the details on the Left Turn FB page. The book can also be ordered from Melbourne Universit Press. You can check out their catalogue listing
here.

In solidarity,
Kim



***



Left Turn shows why the left should be taken seriously. The essays are passionate, relevant and radical, by voices that are dying to be heard in an increasingly barren media landscape.

 

The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed.


Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine?

Left Turn is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.

The contents of Left Turn

 Introduction: Zombie Politics in an Everyday Apocalypse
Antony Loewenstein and Jeff Sparrow


1 The Science Cannot Save Us - Tad Tietze and Elizabeth Humphrys
2 What's the Future for the Australian Greens? - Lee Rhiannon
3 More Time
! More Space! Liberating the Working Week and the Lived Environment - Guy Rundle
4 The Toxicity of Smugness - Christos Tsiolkas
5 Media War Junkies Unite - Antony Loewenstein
6 Avoiding an Era of Symbolism in Indigenous Affairs - Larissa Behrendt

7 'Now is the Time That Can Be Tomorrow': Realism,Utopianism and Occupy Everywhere
 - Jeff Sparrow

8 The Unbearable Whiteness of Being in Australia - Nazeem Hussain
9 Seduced by Panic - Pamela Curr
10 Cooperation or Combat? How Can Trade Unions Revive? - Tom Bramble
11 Violence, Non-violence and Aboriginal Australia - Chris Graham

12 Economic Crises Aren't Accidents - Rick Kuhn
13 Smoke, Mirrors and Human Rights Progress in Australia - Emily Howie
14 BDS and the Struggle for a Free Palestine - Kim Bullimore
15 Recognising Our Full Humanity: Why Australia's Intellectual Left Should Actively Support
Marriage Equality - Rodney Croome
16 A Voice for the Voiceless: Building Progressive Media Politics - Wendy Bacon

17 Sexiness and Sexism: Neoliberalism and Feminism - Jacinda Woodhead

Saturday, May 12, 2012

London Nakba commemoration and protest in support of Palestinian political prisoners - 12 May 2012

Dear friends,

I am currently in London.  Today (12 May), hundreds of Palestine solidarity activist and human rights supporters gathered across the road from 10 Downing St in Whitehall to commemmorate the 64th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba which saw more than 750,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homeland by Zionist forces and more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed.

Today's action which was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London, also showed solidarity with the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners currently on hunger strike.  Here a just a few photos from today's protest.

In solidarity, Kim












Sunday, May 6, 2012

Feminist scholar & Law Professor, Katherine Franke explains why she boycotted the 'Equality Forum' and pinkwashing of Israel's human rights abuses against Palestinians

Dear friends,
an excellent presentation from Law professor, Katherine Franke, who is the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Centre at Columbia Law School explaining why she boycotted the "Equality Forum" which chose to show case Israel as its featured nation and invite hasbara specialist, Israeli Ambassador to the USA, Michael Oren as its key note speaker. 

In the video, which was played at the Equality Forum, Franke gives a very goo explanation of how Israel attempt to pinkwash its human rights abuses against Palestinians.  Franke notes:

It's one thing to express our solidarity with gays and lesbians in another country such as Israel, it's quite another to become pawns in that country's foreign policy strategy.
Franke ask the LGBTI community and all those supportive of human rights to support the call by Palestinian Queer groups to support the BDS campaign.

In solidarity, Kim