Monday, April 22, 2013

Video: Bursting the Bubble of Israeli apartheid - Boycott SodaStream

Dear friends,
Please find below a link to a video of a small BDS action done by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) in Melbourne on Friday 19th April as part of CAIA's "Burst the Bubble of Israeli Apartheid - Boycott SodaStream" campaign in support of the 2005 Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) call

Please feel free to distribute to your social media networks and other networks.

I have included below a brief overview of the SodaStream's role and complicity with Israel's occupation and apartheid regime.  We have included links to relevant reports and documents.

If you would like to keep in touch with CAIA Melbourne and the Burst the Bubble of Israeli Apartheid campaign you can join the FB page for the campaign - click here

You can also check out CAIA's  webpage here

In Solidarity,

Burst the Bubble of Israeli Apartheid - Boycott Soda Stream 
19 April 2013, Melbourne

Briefing paper:
Bursting the Bubble of Israeli apartheid: Boycott Soda Stream

SodaStream is the world's largest maker of home carbonation systems. In 1996, SodaStream established its main production plant in Mishor Adumim, an industrial zone located in the illegal Israeli colony of Ma'ale Adumim in the Occupied West Bank. Ma'ale Adumim represents one of the largest Israeli thefts of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank with land stolen from the Palestinian towns of Abu Dis, Azarya, Atur, Issauya, Han El Akhmar, Anata and Nebbi Mussa. The colony is strategically positioned to disconnect Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho to prevent Palestinian movement and development.

The Ma'ale Adumim industrial zone and the residential areas are part of Israel’s “East 1” project, which was initiated in 1995 by Yitzhak Rabin. The project aims to cut the Occupied West Bank off from Occupied East Jerusalem though strategic settlement expansion, hence destroying any prospect of a viable Palestinian state. Most recently in early December 2012 - in retaliation for the vote at the UN granting Palestine “non-member observer state status” - IsraeloPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorised the building of an addition 3000 illegal settler housing units between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim to ensure the strategic expansion of the settlement.

SodaStream receives regular tax benefits/breaks from the Israeli government and employs Palestinians under exploitative labour conditions. Palestinians who work in illegal Israeli settlements face exploitative labour conditions. According to reports from three consecutive years (2008 to 2010) of Kav LaOved (an NGO committed to protecting the rights of disadvantaged workers employed by Israeli companies), the workers in the SodaStream factory suffer from harsh working conditions. This is particularly true for the Palestinian workers. During the last few years, there have been several occasions on which workers complained about low wages and poor working conditions, and about ‘revolving door’ employment policies.

SodaStream is located in a “Cross-border Industrial Zone” in the West Bank, but goods produced here do not serve the local Palestinian population. 65% of goods are shipped elsewhere and taxes and profits go to support the Israeli economy---not Palestinians. These industrial zones entrench the illegal Israeli occupation and Palestinian oppression. In addition SodaStream’s products are mislabelled as being from Israel, when they are in fact from the Occupied West Bank.

SodaStream is currently building a new factory in the Negev desert where the Israeli state ethnically has cleansed more than 90,000 Palestinian Bedouin in the wake of the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. Since 1948, Israel has declared Palestinian Bedouin land unsettled, unassigned and uncultivated and sought to prevent Bedouins from returning to their lands.

In 2011, Israel announced that it planned to ethnically cleanse more than 30,000 Palestinian Bedouins who continue to live the Negev in more than 40 “unrecognised villages” - this is despite the fact that the majority of the villages have been in existences since before the establishment of the Israeli state. These “unrecognised” villages are systematically excluded by the Israeli government from official maps and excluded from the provision of local and national government infrastructure, such as electricity, water, telephone lines and educational and health facilities and services in order to make life as difficult as possible for the Bedouin in the hope that they will voluntarily leave their lands.
So while the Israeli state has continued to systematically ethnically cleanse Palestinian Bedouin from the Negev, SodaStream has received a $AU6.31 million construction grant from Israeli Ministry of Trade and Industry in order to build their new factory on stolen Palestinian Bedouin land.

In Australia a number of retailers stock SodaStream, including:

Woolworths, KMart, Myers, David Jones,Coles, Big W, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Retrovision, IGA, MItre 10, Betta Electrical, Domestix and Foodworks.

Support the Palestinian BDS call! 

Boycott SodaStream!  
Ask you local retailer to destock SodaStream

For more information on Soda Stream see the following links:
  • BDS Italia's response to a letter from Edelman, the PR company hired by SodaStream Italy disputing BDS claims

Sunday, April 21, 2013

BDS: Students for Palestine demand RMIT University cut ties with BAE

Dear friends,
on 16 April 2013 in Melbourne, Students for Palestine held a second rally which called on RMIT University to cut ties with British Aerospace Engineering (BAE).  BAE is the world's third largest military companies and one of the major suppliers of weapons to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). RMIT's Engineering Department is sponsored by BAE. 

The Student for Palestine "RMIT cut ties with BAE" campaign is being organised in support of the Palestinian civil society, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

I have also included an article below which gives background to the campaign.

in solidarity, Kim 


 Students for Palestine rally at State Library of Victoria

Aboriginal Elder, Robbie Thorpe speaks about the similarities between 
the Palestinian and Aboriginal struggle. 

 Marching to RMIT

 Marching to RMIT

Rally makes its way into RMIT Student Cafeteria

 Sit-in @ RMIT student cafeteria

Marching to Vice Chancellor's office

 Demands that RMIT cut ties with BAE

End RMIT’s complicity in Israel’s crimes

by Lauren Stevenson: Socialist Alternative Magazine

End RMIT’s complicity in Israel’s crimes
The international boycott campaign against the world’s third largest defence company is about to arrive in Australia. And now RMIT University in Melbourne, through its Aerospace Engineering Department, is in the firing line due to its role providing research and development that helps Israel’s continued destruction of Palestinian lives.

The last couple of years have seen Palestinian activists focus on Max Brenner Chocolate Shop, as a subsidiary of the Strauss Group who supply and support the Israeli army. This year however, cross-campus activist based group Students for Palestine have decided on a new target.
Meet BAE Systems (British Aerospace Engineering).
BAE Systems is a defence company with assets worth $US38 billion. They make everything from assault rifles, missiles, tanks, drones, nuclear weapons, and even the shackles used in Guantanamo Bay. BAE has been targeted because of the horrifying weapons systems it sells to Israel.

Israel has been making good use of the destructive products it gets from the likes of BAE Systems. On 8 November 2012 an Israeli Occupation Forces helicopter began indiscriminately shooting on a field where children were playing soccer in the village of Abassan in the Gaza strip,. Thirteen-year-old Ahmed Abu Daqqa was killed by a shot to the abdomen. In the following days Israel began Operation Pillar of Cloud, only the latest military assault on Gaza’s civilian population. The assault lasted eight days and killed over 160 Palestinians including 30 children and injuring hundreds more.
Background check: BAE Systems

Between 2000 and 2009 BAE had contracts with the US Government worth US$460 million. BAE supplies components for major US weapons systems that are then sold to Israel including F-16 fighter jets. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) used this aircraft when bombing Lebanon in 2006, and during the last two attacks on Gaza. BAE also supplied the “Suter” airborne attack system Israel used when bombing Syria in 2007. BAE fit F-16 jets with “Head-Up Displays”, which are transparent data displays in front of the windscreen to allow a pilot to lock onto a ‘target’ without having to look down at the cockpit instruments. The ‘target’ they refer to has been Lebanese and Palestinian villages that have been reduced to rubble.

Another home market for BAE Systems is Saudi Arabia, who used those weapons against pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain during the Arab Spring. BAE has an Israeli subsidiary, BAE Rokar International that manufactures three main products; (1) “Combat-proven” electronic warfare systems for helicopters and warplanes, Rokar being the sole supplier of these to the Israeli military, (2) global positioning systems and their accompanying rockets, and (3) unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).

Elbit Systems (also a BDS target) is an Israeli owned weapons manufacturer with a $315 million contract with the Israeli army. Elbit Systems also has huge contracts with the Australian military. BAE Systems Australia in Adelaide has a $4.9 million subcontract with Elbit Systems to fit Australian Defence Force vehicles with communications systems. These are just a few million reasons why Gillard won’t be condemning Israel any time soon.

Where does RMIT fit into all of this?

RMIT through its Aerospace Engineering Department does research and development in collaboration with BAE Systems under the research body DMTC (Defence Materials Technology Centre). DMTC research is conducted for the Australian army and the weapons industry, which BAE Systems then sells on to Israel.

The DMTCs Board of Directors includes a Professor in RMIT’s Engineering Department. Also the CEO of DMTC sits on the Advisory Board of RMIT’s Sir Lawrence Wackett Centre. The Lawrence Wackett Centre at RMIT’s Bundoora campus is where research on drones is conducted. RMIT undergraduate students can even take the subject AERO 2464 Engineering Principles of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles!

In January of this year RMIT held a public forum on drones. Professor Kevin Massey of the school of Aerospace Engineering said while drones have mostly been used in combat situations, they are presently being adopted for civilian law enforcement and border security agencies.

The irony of RMIT being a place where students receive an education to help prepare them for the rest of their life, also being a place that is researching more efficient weapons of death and destruction has not been lost on Students For Palestine. As part of the BDS campaign Students For Palestine have arranged a protest at RMIT’s City Campus to demand RMIT sever ties with BAE Systems. RMIT’s complicity in the continuing hell of Palestinians must be challenged.

Join the protest: Wednesday 20 March, Victorian State Library at midday, and will involve a march through RMIT’s city campus.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beyond South Africa: Understanding Israeli Apartheid

Dear friends,
please find below a briefing paper from the Al Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.  The briefing paper gives a very good indepth explanation of how Israeli apartheid works, as well as its similarities and differences to South African apartheid.

In solidarity,

Beyond South Africa: Understanding Israeli Apartheid

al-shabaka policy brief: 4 April 2013  Samer Abdelnour 


Much analysis of Israeli apartheid focuses on comparisons with South Africa. Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Samer Abdelnour argues that the specific characteristics of Israel’s unique brand of apartheid need to be better understood in order to successfully dismantle it. He identifies three inter-locking dimensions of Israeli apartheid: physical, architecture, and ideological. Examining apartheid through these dimensions, he reveals Israeli apartheid to be far more sophisticated than that of South Africa and suggests directions for thinking and action to overcome Israel apartheid.

The Colonial Roots of Apartheid

Israeli Apartheid” is a commonly used term to describe the racial violence and segregation enshrined in Israel’s institutions.1 Though Israel’s most ardent supporters will continue to resist the rhetoric of apartheid, the reality of apartheid in Israel is unmistakable. But, what exactly is apartheid? And how might we understand Israel’s apartheid system?

Apartheid is a complex system of racial violence, segregation, and dispossession. The roots of apartheid are colonial; Europeans have long used apartheid practices to devastate the indigenous peoples they colonized and Europe’s “undesirables” alike. Modern apartheid systems, like South Africa and Israel, evolved from historical practices of mobility restriction and internment. Just as Afrikaners learned from Canada's reservation system in the early 1900s2, Israel implements practices reminiscent of apartheid-era South Africa.

Given Israel’s strong support to apartheid-era South Africa and stark similarities between South Africa’s apartheid policies3 and Israeli practices today, it is understandable that South Africa’s experience grounds analysis of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Similarly, anti-apartheid activists replicate tactics reminiscent of those used to pressure the South African apartheid regime, most significant being strategies of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).

Though similarities and shared histories between Israel and South Africa certainly exist, overreliance on comparisons may prevent a full appreciation of Israeli apartheid. Notable differences include the role and agency of indigenous labor. For example, South Africa was and continues to be dependent on black labor in sectors such as mining, which at times enabled meaningful mobilization in opposition to state practices. Today, although Israel is overall less dependent on Palestinian labor, settlement construction continues to be a significant employer of Palestinians. However, because settlements do not constitute a key generator of Israeli income (rather, they are highly subsidized by the state) it is difficult to envision how settlement-related labor mobilization might pose a threat to Israel. Similarly, Palestinians are captive markets for Israeli goods and produce, not the other way around.
Another difference relates to many political dialogues and agreements between Afrikaners and anti-apartheid leaders that concluded with an end to apartheid policies.4 

In the case of Palestine, the clear outcome of agreements has been the advancement of segregation and Palestinian dispossession. More seriously, the Palestinian Authority has become an important player in apartheid, as indicated by Israeli-Palestinian“security” coordination and recent threats made by President Abbas that he will hand the “keys” of the West Bank back to Israel. Though Abbas’ intent is to force Israel to face its responsibilities as an occupying power, it does imply that in absence of a genuine process of national independence the Palestinian Authority holds a central administrative position within Israel’s apartheid system.

Further, in the case of South Africa the international community eventually came to exert extreme pressure to end racial segregation within a one-state solution. In Palestine, the international community appears ready to support “statehood” without any serious contestation of Israeli apartheid. The “constructive engagement” mantra and the two-state solution are distracting myths that permit continued colonization and ethnic cleansing in Palestine. They also allow the U.S., EU, and Canada to continually reaffirm their support for apartheid through political rhetoric, military subsidies and contracts, trade agreements with Israel, and corporate profiting from colonization and occupation. Moreover, under apartheid in South Africa, Bantustans were established as the means to confine Africans to “homeland” areas. Regardless of their spatial similarities, Palestinians today are actively denied homeland; doing so would go against the very ideologies of Zionism and circumvent Jewish colonial-settler expansion.

In Israel today, apartheid thrives through sophisticated bureaucratic, market, and military institutions superior to those of the South African apartheid era. It also receives unprecedented subsidies in the form of U.S. military support and humanitarian aid. The consequences of miscomprehension are significant; they may hinder thoughtful assessment and critique of existing strategies (such as BDS), and prevent the development of new strategies for securing Palestinian freedom and return. Though a considerable amount is known about Israeli apartheid, the overall system of apartheid remains a “black box” where much is hidden and misunderstood. I propose three dimensions for a more comprehensive understanding of apartheid: physical, architecture, and ideological.

The Physical Faces of Apartheid

The physical faces of apartheid are those interface elements that are readily apparent and measurable. They come in the form of violence, destruction, and physical division: concrete and metal, including checkpoints, prisons, settlements, settler roads, walls, “security zones”, tanks, tractors, bull-dozers, drones, and bombs. In addition, the physical manifestations of apartheid classify and divide: paper and digital permits, ID cards, databases, surveillance systems, visas, evacuation orders, legal notices, applications, vouchers, deeds, and related techniques of classification and categorization.
People and the organizations they work in are another tangible face of apartheid. These include Israeli military forces, judges, settlers, police, agencies such as the Jewish National Fund, as well as Israeli and multinational corporations and their related products and services. In addition, they include Israeli industries such as “security”, and universities when access to education is segregated, Palestinians areprevented from traveling to attend university, or research contributes to war crimes.

These physical elements enact the violence that governs the lived experience of Palestinians under military occupation and in exile. We know much about this dimension of apartheid because it horrifies us, captures our attention, can be counted and classified, and is shared widely through social media. It is also politically legitimated, not only by the various apparatuses of the Israeli state including settler politics and the military, but also by a frustrated and helpless Palestinian Authority (such as proclamations of statehood from a small piece of Bantustan Palestine). Although understanding the physical elements of apartheid is extremely useful, it is also important to investigate the architecture that produces and sustains them.

The Architecture of Apartheid

The architecture refers to the regulatory, political and economic elements of apartheid. These legitimate Israel as a nation-state through international law and trade agreements. They are also legitimated by Israel’s legal and military apparatus, including political as well as economic mechanisms that foster marginalization and segregation (such as settlement economies and subsidies). The architecture of apartheid is extremely elusive; it cuts across multiple sectors and the connections between these often remain unclear. For example, from a macroeconomic perspective the Israeli economy is wedded to weapons development. Today, Israel’s “security” industry is the 6th largest globally, and is securing an increasing number of contracts with European and African states. Given the magnitude of Israel’s engagement with weapons research, sales and use (such as those deployed on captive Palestinian populations), a deeper understanding of connections between this industry and the physical elements of apartheid is imperative. It is also important to further expose links between military technology research and the occupation (such as surveillance technologies and drones).

A comprehensive mapping of apartheid’s architecture requires articulating the relationships among Israeli institutions, corporations, civil society, and apartheid. Considerable research has already been done on the subject. For example, the BDS movement and Adalah NY have explored the contributions of Israeli universities and private corporations to the occupation, and such research informs arguments and calls for boycotts. Yet research must also seek to better understanding the overall architecture of apartheid in order to expand the basis of effective anti-apartheid action (be it legal or political action, and various forms of boycotts).

One such approach is that offered by feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith, what she terms “institutional ethnography.”5 Her approach seeks to uncover those governing institutions that classify and control the lived experiences of people, through a mapping of the texts that they encounter. In the context of apartheid, for example, texts include permits and other means of classification, surveillance, and control. By mapping the movement of texts, and importantly all associated work, a fuller appreciation of apartheid’s architecture can be had. Similarly, a supply-chain approach may help to uncover the suppliers and services behind the construction and maintenance of the physical elements of apartheid, such as checkpoints or settlements, the use and expropriation of lands, or banks and financiers. One can imagine how these or other approaches might be useful for uncovering the architecture of apartheid.

Such investigations may prove both challenging and disturbing, given the extreme level of integration and dependencies between Palestinians and Israelis. Though physical elements by their very nature convey separation and oppression, the architecture that produces and maintains these may reveal the opposite. The use of the Israeli Shekel and dependency on Israeli goods and services (given the intentional destruction of Palestinian productive capacity) are but two of many examples. Moreover, the vagueness inherent in apartheid’s architecture raises significant questions for reflection and anti-apartheid action. For example, if an Israeli bank is involved in transferring funds or providing services within a settlement, are all account holders or even transactions of that given bank complicit in apartheid? And if the answer is yes, what is to be done about it?

Similar questions can be asked of countless relationships embedded within apartheid’s architecture. More than political and economic, they exist as the ideologies that legitimate colonization as well as racial segregation and violence.

The Ideologies of Apartheid

Much is known about the ideologies of apartheid and there are many “isms” to describe these, including: racism, colonialism, many forms of Zionism, religious fundamentalism, and neoliberalism. Like the physical elements of apartheid, ideology is highly relevant to apartheid’s architecture. Yet unlike the physical, ideology is intangible and thus difficult to measure, particularly because features of multiple ideologies may readily intertwine; for example, Israeli settlers embrace elements of Zionist colonialism, racism, religious fundamentalism, and militarism.

Yoav Shamir’s film Defamation offers a clear picture of the importance of ideology for shaping the Israeli imagination. Fear, as Shamir demonstrates, is a significant means for exploiting the perceived vulnerability of Israelis. Fear works with combinations of the above-mentioned ideologies to justify racial violence and segregation in all forms. Thus, for many Israelis violence is necessitated by the existential “threat” Palestinians pose. So embedded is the demonization of Palestinians in the ideologies of apartheid that any expression of Palestinian agency is seen as a threat to Israeli national security. A pregnant Palestinian woman is a demographic threat. Criticisms of Israel, including campaigns such as BDS and Israeli Apartheid Week, are a threat to its legitimacy. Even Palestinian cultivation of za’atar was once considered an ecological threat. The psychology of Israel’s self-induced psychosis perpetuates an industry of fear that underpins Israel’s fixation with its own “security” and the insecurity of others.

Beyond fear, ideology enables hypocrisy. Widely propagated claims suggest Palestinians might drive “Israelis into the sea” though no Palestinian is ever known to have done so. Rather, of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians expelled by Israel’s founding militias, many were pushed to the sea and forced to leave Palestine by boat. Ideology permits victims of ethnic cleansing to inflict the same horrors onto another people. Ideology also denies, allowing Arabs to be blamed for the persistence of the Palestinian refugee “problem”. 

Further, ideology dehumanizes, as indicted by propagated myths such as “a land without a people for a people without a land” or the imaging of Palestinians as native parasites and savages. In the eyes of Israeli settlers and Christian Zionists alike, these images render indigenous Palestinians unworthy of homeland. Even worse are anti-Semitic claims that suggest Palestinians to be culturally predisposed for hate and violence. Examples include recent remarks made by British MP Gordon Henderson in the House of Commons seconded by a number of MPs: “It is clear that a culture of hate has wormed its way into the very fibre of Palestinian society.”

The way ideology can blind nations was revealed during the August 2011 Tel Aviv protests, when hundreds of thousands of Israelis demanded domestic justice and equality while wholly ignoring the most discriminated in Israel. They include Palestinian Bedouins struggling to maintain lands and traditions under forced expropriation, and “Arab” (Palestinian) citizens of Israel entrenched within Israel’s structural discrimination. More disturbing, ideology prevents a majority of Israelis from seeing a human Palestinian Other. For example, during Israel’s 2008-9 bombardment of Gaza the Israeli Agriculture Ministry announced emergency medical services for Israeli pets and street animals traumatized by “rocket-fire”. At the same time, the Israeli military massacred over 1,400 Palestinians, many burned by white-phosphorousbombs, with overwhelming Israeli public support. What kinds of ideologies permit such convoluted humanitarianism?

Of course Palestinians are not the only people in Israel subject to dehumanization and racial violence. An emergent issue—and a potentially significant front for the struggle against Israeli apartheid—is the violence directed at African migrants and refugees. This case exposes the racism embedded within Israeli ideologies and institutions, and raises important questions regarding the status and definitions of refugees in Israel.

The above-mentioned ideologies enable the manifestation of a mundane, taken-for-granted “everyday apartheid”. Poorly understood, the mundane is highly significant to the maintenance of apartheid’s architecture. For example, Amira Haas writes how “hundreds of thousands of perfectly normal Israelis who are not violent at home are partners in the mission of administering, demarcating, restricting and taming the other society while cumulatively damaging its rights, welfare and well-being.” 

Rashid Khalidi places this in the context of Israel’s “settlement-industrial complex”; in addition to the over half million Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, this includes “the hundreds of thousands in government and in the private sector whose livelihoods and bureaucratic interests are linked to the maintenance of control over the Palestinians”. 

Insulated pseudo-European realities (or “bubbles”) permit a majority of Israelis to live prosperous lives relatively ignorant of the colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. They enable Israelis to go to work, shop, take care of their families, and enjoy the luxuries of the first world without sensing they might be nested in the architecture of apartheid or contributing to its perpetuation.

Approaches to Dismantling Apartheid

As indicated in this piece, apartheid today is far more sophisticated than that experienced by South Africans; several South Africans have themselves pointed this out, including Desmond Tutu. Because significant aspects of apartheid remain underexplored, notably its architecture and the mundane aspects of its ideologies, the success of policies and strategies seeking an end to Israeli apartheid may be limited. The above discussion is only a preliminary attempt to explore the physical, architecture, and ideological nature of Israeli apartheid. Incorporating these into an integrated approach for understanding Israeli apartheid may help in strategizing its dismantling.

For example, in dealing with the ideologies of apartheid, it may be more important to understand how Israeli Zionists come to distance themselves from the propagated fear and demonization of Palestinians. To date, rather than seek an understanding of Israeli cognitive shifts, attention has focused on the processes of indoctrination employed by agents of Israel (such as education, military training, mass visits of Israeli students to Europe’s concentration camps, and programs like Birthright).

The experiences of Israelis and western Jews who come to reject ideologies of fear and racial superiority for those that promote equality and human rights must be better understood. What are the conditions that enable Israelis or European and American Jews to choose to disassociate themselves from the ideologies of apartheid? Perhaps it is enough to experience different values, to have space and time for reflection, or be exposed to alternative narratives and realities (such as meeting Palestinians or Israelis who refuse to serve the occupation). Perhaps it is enough to find a means to communicate a shared visionensuring equal and democratic rights regardless of a one, two or other-state solution. 

Moreover, it may be valuable for a community of like-minded people to demonstrate paths to new ways of thinking. Whatever the mechanisms, messages able to disarm apartheid’s ideological basis must be explored and spread to the Israeli public. These should allow for widespread critique of those ideals that legitimate apartheid’s physical and architectural dimensions without evoking fear. This is a key challenge for the BDS movement: Israelis and supporters who do not fully comprehend apartheid, or have been engrossed in ideologies of Zionism and fear, will default to a defensive position without considering the value and importance of boycott strategies.

The increasing numbers of Israelis and Jews who are distancing themselves from Israel’s oppressive politics is extremely encouraging and important. These significant trends suggest that ideological transitions are entirely possible and must be better understood. Different communities may be better suited to understand and initiate such changes. For example, progressive Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel are intimately aware of the various ideologies Israelis hold. Elsewhere, Christian Palestinians and progressive Christian movements can work to cultivate and communicate alternatives to Zionist Evangelicalism. As we have seen in recent years, Jewish movementsare organizing to effectively contest the influence of the Israeli lobby in the U.S., EU, and Canada. Again, the above transitions away from the ideals of apartheid are possible when ideology is brought into conscious critique.

Of course, there are limitations in evoking ideological changes, in particular where people are embedded in cohesive ideology communities (such as settlements). Further, where identity defines itself through ideology people will be hostile to alternative ways of thinking. Thus, supporters of Israeli apartheid who take Zionism as a taken-for-granted ideal will not be easily convinced otherwise. In such cases, encouraging alternative ways of thinking is perhaps best left to those who have themselves undergone the journey.

It is also important to challenge the subsidies that permit apartheid to thrive. On the topic of apartheid’s subsidies, U.S. military aid to Israel is the most significant: from 2009 to 2014 the U.S. was set to provide over$30 billion in military aid to Israel. In addition to U.S. aid to Israel, over $8 billion in international aid has been distributed to the Palestinian Authority post-Oslo. Much of this is intended to build Palestinian Authority capacity, promote development, and deliver humanitarian relief. However, a significant component of aid to Palestinians contributes to Israeli economic growth, thus creating multiple layers of dependency that serve to reinforce the apartheid status quo. Though President Obama may have reassured Israelis of unconditional U.S. support, strategies must continue to challenge apartheid’s subsidies. The sheer size of direct and indirect U.S. aid to Israel is tremendous; without U.S. support Israel could not remain an apartheid state.

Finally, the Palestinian people’s embrace of counter-ideologies is a major source of strength for dealing with the three dimensions of apartheid. These include: diverse forms of resistance, return, homeland, nationalism, survival and sumoud (steadfastness). Because ideology divides as much as it enables, Palestinians must continually embrace ideologies that celebrate culture, land, freedom, equality and the justice of return. The Palestinian narrative is one means for reaffirming and communicating positive life-giving ideologies, as such it must bereclaimed and embraced.

The South African boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, initiated in 1960, exerted tremendous pressures onto the apartheid regime and hastened its collapse in 1994. But apartheid in South Africa was not brought down by these measures alone. International solidarity and isolation was but one of four key pillars of the anti-apartheid struggle, the others being internal resistance as well as underground and armed struggle. Thus, while the Palestinian BDS movement will undoubtedly remain a significant strategy for defeating Israeli apartheid, alternative strategies for combating apartheid must be reinforced (such as grassroots struggles and the youth movements) and new approaches developed. To support such actions the complex matrix of physical, architecture, and ideological elements of Israeli apartheid must be better understood: doing so will expedite its collapse.


  1. For an introduction to the subject, see: Ben White (2009) Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, London: Pluto Press.
  2. Nadia Abu-Zahra and Adah Kay (2012) Unfree in Palestine: Registration, Documentation and Movement Restriction, London: Pluto Press; page 6.
  3. South Africa’s seven key apartheid policies included: the Group Areas Act (permitting people to live in areas based on racial categories); Separate Education (children go to schools designated by racial categories); Separate Amenities (including separate public transport); African Homelands (considered the only true home of Africans, and thus when in ‘white’ areas African’s are there for work); Separate Voters’ Rolls (blacks vote for authorities who have limited power within their own racial categories and not in national elections); Mixed Marriages Act (prohibited marriage among people of different groups/status); and the Immorality Act (forbade sexual relations among people of different racial groups).
  4. Anti-apartheid campaigns and others simultaneously (and successfully) continued throughout these dialogues.
  5. Dorothy Smith (2005) Institutional Ethnography: A Sociology for People, Toronto: AltaMira Press.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Video: Rashid Khalidi on "Brokers of Deceit: How the US has Undermined Peace in the Middle East"

Dear friends,
American-Palestinian historian, Rashid Khalidi has just released his new book, Brokers of Deceit: How the US has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, which looks at the role of the USA in relation to the Palestine-Israeli conflict.  

Khalidi is one of my favourite historians and I highly recommend his books, including his earlier books: The Iron Cage: The story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006), Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1997) and Sowing Crisis: the Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East (2010).  

Khalidi is currently the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University in New York and was an advisor to the Palestinian delegation during the 1991 Madrid Conference. His new book draws on many of the documents from the Madrid Conference period, many which have never been published before and he discusses the role of the US as a supposed "honest broker" in the "peace process".

Khalidi recently has given a series of lectures where he discusses his book and the role of the US in the Palestine-Israel "peace process,  Khalidi argues that not only have the American brokered negotiations been a complete failure but have also stalled any real progress towards real peace in the Middle East. Khalidi also discusses the role the Zionist lobby vs USA Foreign and imperialist policy, arguing US policy is driven by US strategic interests in the Middle East not by the Lobby. 

I have included below video of one his presentations, as well as an interview with Khalidi on Democracy Now.

You can also watch another lengthier lecture given by Khalidi at the International Peace Institute where he discusses at length the US role in the Palestine-Israel "peace process". Unfortunately for some reason the blogger system won't allow me to upload the video, so you I am providing the direct link (click here)

In solidarity, Kim

Democracy Now interview with Rashid Khalidi

Rashid Khalidi presentation on Brokers of Deceit and US policy in the Middle East (in 3 parts)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3