Archive for the ‘Israel Apartheid’ Category

Analysis: Is Israel being utilized in the German Social Democrats’ campaign? – i24NEWS

A lot has changed in German-Israeli relations since the Social Democratic Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes memorial in 1970. While that resonating gesture advanced the then-new ties between the two countries, nowadays SPD leaders seem to be mostly generating controversy in their dealings with Israel.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who already drew criticism after comparing Israel to a Apartheid regime following a visit to Hebron in 2012, knocked heads again with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after insisting to meet with highly-critical left-wing NGOs during a visit in April.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also of the SPD, who followed Gabriel to Israel in May with the hope of easing tensions, was seen in Germany as contributing to the friction by laying a wreath on the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

Most recently it was a local SPD official from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia who triggered an uproar: On his Facebook page, the official Stefan Grnebaum called Israel supporters in Germany an organized, good networked ‘fifth column’ serving the interests of the Jewish state.

The traditional friendship of the SPD towards Israel, forged with Israel’s socialist roots in mind, has weakened with time, deems Dr. Martin Kloke, an expert on Israel and the German left. Today we have another government in Israel, more right wing, and in Germany there is a new generation, one that doesn’t care very much about the past, he explained.

Among rival parties, the latest steps by the SPD involving Israel including the indefinite postponement of the German-Israeli drone deal ] evoked allegations that the party is trying to win political capital at Israel’s expense.

The election campaign is to blame, asserted CSU politician Florian Hahn recently to i24NEWS. The SPD is openly ready to endanger our good relations with Israel, in order to make gains for themselves ahead of the election in September.

Pro-Israel lawmakers within the SPD now deny the accusations. I’m sure that within the German population and among our voters as well, there are people that would like Germany to take a tougher line against Israel, admitted Bundestag member Fritz Felgentreu, but he insists that these comments are unlikely a response to a general expectation among voters, nor is it part of an election strategy.

Gabriel’s remarks were the result of his direct and somewhat impulsive communication style and reflected his personal dislike of the Netanyahu government, argues the SPD politician, while Steinmeier’s gesture was meant more as a sign of respect towards the Palestinians and both of them underestimated the effect it would have.

The SPD is a large party; we have more than 400,000 members and some 5,000 active politicians all over Germany, maybe even more. Among them you will find people with different views on Israel, and if you simply collect the ones that are critical of Israel, you can easily create the impression of something piling up. I don’t think it is a fair portrayal of what’s going on.

Moreover, reminds Felgentreu, such comments have little potential to sway the vote of Germans of Arab descent, for one, as they view Germany’s support of Israel as solidified by the German guilt complex and rule out a fundamental change in attitude.

But Jewish voters, on the contrary, do attribute importance to such signals. For example, the fact that Martin Schulz then President of the European Parliament and now the SPD candidate for chancellor – praised the speech of Palestinian President Abbas in Brussels last year as inspiring and stayed silent in the face of his claim that Rabbis are urging Israel to poison Palestinians water, was much noticed by the German Jewry.

It made them distrust Martin Schulz, noted Felgentreu. I believe it was just a blunder, a mistake, but from my discussions with German Jews, it is clear that when you have a series of little signals like that, it can destroy confidence in the SPD’s general position. We have to be much more sensitive of the signals we broadcast and to take the sensitivities of Jewish Germans much more seriously.

The expert Kloke agrees: Politicians indeed lack an understanding of the historical and psychological complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and at first glance often oversimplify it as merely a land dispute or a David vs. Goliath-type struggle. But are they utilizing Israel in the dialog with their voters? Though unlikely, the question remains open.

There is no smoking gun on this, there is no proof. But the SPD must be very desperate if it has to use these methods to get votes, stressed Kloke, bringing as evidence the case of Jrgen Mllemann – the first and maybe the last time that a leading politician used Israel and anti-Zionism to attract voters, as he describes it.

Mllemann, a former federal minister and vice chancellor from the liberal Free Democratic Party, produced a brochure ahead of the 2002 national election, criticizing the former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon’s policies towards the Palestinians. The vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany at the time, Michel Friedman, that endorsed these actions, was also slammed in the flyer that was widely viewed as anti-Semitic. The controversy drove Mllemann out of the party the following year.

He definitely completely lost and the party got rid of him, continued Kloke, so I hope that the SPD is not really considering using anti-Israel sentiments, because this is not part of the Social Democrats’ tradition.

In general, he says, it seems that Israel, which once had the power to cause polarization within the German left, had lost its impact on the electorate. There is a growing understanding that Israel is not the main issue in the Middle East and that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alone won’t heal the region. The public opinion is disillusioned, and this makes Israel or whatever the Israeli government is saying or doing, look not as important as it did a few years ago.

I don’t remember any election in the last 20 years where the policy towards Israel was a major issue, Felgentreu affirmed, particularly because I believe fundamentally this question is settled. Anybody who wants to be taken seriously in German politics, fully embraces Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. So why argue about something that everyone agrees on? It doesn’t make sense.

Therefore, whoever might win the upcoming election the German policy towards Israel will largely remain the same, both Kloke and Felgentreu agree. Berlin will continue to scold Israel for its settlement policy, will counter the BDS movement in Europe at least to some extent, and will unlikely significantly increase its involvement in the stalled peace process.

Naturally I think that Chancellor Schulz would be a better solution than Chancellor Merkel in many areas, and probably also in affairs with Israel, stated the politician. But on the really important issues of foreign policy, there is not much difference between the CDU and the SPD. The German support for Israel is not in dispute.

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Analysis: Is Israel being utilized in the German Social Democrats’ campaign? – i24NEWS

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SF State asks court to dismiss suit accusing it of allowing anti-Semitism – SFGate

Photo: Loren Elliott, The Chronicle

File photo of Holloway Avenue by the San Francisco State University administration building in San Francisco, California.

File photo of Holloway Avenue by the San Francisco State University administration building in San Francisco, California.

SF State asks court to dismiss suit accusing it of allowing anti-Semitism

Saying they have no power to censor campus speech, officials at San Francisco State University asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss a suit by current and former Jewish students accusing the school of fostering anti-Semitism.

Lawyers for the school and the California State University Board of Trustees denied that the incidents described in the suit disruption of a talk by the mayor of Jerusalem, exclusion of the Jewish group Hillel from a campus fair, and several past provocations including the 1994 defacement of a mural showing stars of David had been fostered or tolerated by SFSU officials or had interfered with anyones freedom of religion.

But even if religious liberties had been burdened, the lawyers said, the source of that burden would be the actions of other students and groups at the university, who were also exercising core First Amendment rights that the university could not curtail.

They noted that another judge threw out a similar suit against UC Berkeley in 2011.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick III will decide whether to let the suit proceed.

Filed in June by present and past students and several local residents, the suit alleged that SFSU has fostered and sanctioned anti-Semitism from the highest levels and affirmed the actions of hostile, aggressive and disruptive students to regularly violate the rights of Jewish students.

The suit focused on an April 2016 appearance by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Six minutes into his remarks, about 20 students stood and started shouting, Free Palestine, Israel is an apartheid state and other chants, according to a report commissioned by the university.

The protesters soon began using a microphone and prevented listeners from hearing most of Barkats speech, said the report, by an outside law firm. It concluded the protest had been disruptive and violated school policies but posed no physical threat to Barkat or others.

But the lawsuit said the protesters had threatened violence, that Jewish students felt frightened, and that school officials had contributed to the hateful atmosphere by instructing campus police to stand down, and later by letting the demonstrators off with a warning. The suit also accused officials of bias for moving Barkats speech to an off-campus location.

In Mondays filing, however, the university said it had relocated Barkats speech because of concerns about student safety, not religion. And university lawyers said the protesters were engaged in political speech and expressive conduct core First Amendment-protected rights.

The lawyers also said Hillel had been excluded from a campus Know Your Rights fair in February because the group had missed a registration deadline. The Jewish students lawsuit contended the deadline was fabricated.

We stand by our claims, which outline a discriminatory environment unlawfully targeting Jewish students, attorney Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel nonprofit representing the plaintiffs, said Monday.

SFSU officials also cited a 2011 ruling by another federal judge dismissing a lawsuit by two Jewish students that accused UC Berkeley of turning a blind eye to alleged intimidation by Arab students and encouraging campus anti-Semitism.

Even if the claims in that lawsuit were proved, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said, the conduct mainly involved pure political speech that was constitutionally protected.

Seeborg, however, allowed the Berkeley students to refile their suit with narrower and more specific claims. Their lawyer, Joel Siegal, said Monday that the case was ultimately settled with bans on some types of intimidating conduct by protesters.

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: begelko@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @egelko

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Portuguese Photographers Pledge BDS on Israeli Government – International Middle East Media Center

Over 40 Portuguese photographers, teachers of photography and photography students pledged on Saturday, which marked World Photography Day, not to accept professional invitations or financing from Israel, and to refuse to collaborate with Israeli cultural institutions complicit in Israels regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, according to the official website of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

According to the statement from the BDS movement, the pledge was the first of its kind, as the photographers pledged to boycott Israel until it complies with international law and respects the human rights of Palestinians.

Among the pledge supporters were Jo o Pina, winner of the 2017 Pr mio Esta o Imagem Viana do Castelo, Portugals only photojournalism award, TV personality and travel photographerNuno Lobito, Miguel Carri o, winner of the 2012 Concelho da Bienal de Vila Franca de Xira award, Jos Soudo, a veteran Photography teacher and Historian, and Jo o Henriques, winner of the 2015 Fnac New Talents Award.

According to Maan News Agency, the statement quoted Carri o as saying: Having witnessed first-hand the crimes Israel is committing daily against Palestinians, signing up to this initiative has become a natural step. It is fundamental to promote this effort through all means possible.

It is time for Israels brand of apartheid to enjoy the same treatment as South African apartheid and be target of a comprehensive international boycott until it respects human rights, the statement quoted Lobita as saying.

Photographers can no longer be silent about the treatment of their Palestinian colleagues living under an indefensible occupation that has lasted for over half a century. Palestinians have called for solidarity through boycotts and this pledge is our practical contribution to their struggle.

The statement noted the struggles of Palestinian photographers and journalists under the Israeli occupation, highlighted that artists have been denied visas by the Israeli military establishment, preventing them from participating in conferences and performances internationally, in addition to being detained at checkpoints, arrested, having their equipment broken, and being exposed to the same violence perpetrated by the Israeli army on all Palestinians.

The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

BDS activists target companies that act in compliance with Israels illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and encourage supporters to avoid buying Israeli products in order to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the half-century occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem the decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

As support for the movement has grown, the Israeli government has introduced anti-BDS policies, including passing a law in March banning foreigners who have openly expressed support in BDS from entering the country.

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Portuguese Photographers Pledge BDS on Israeli Government – International Middle East Media Center

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Antisemitism On The Left – Breaking Israel News

I was shocked, but not surprised, to see the Washington Post feature an op-ed this weekend (August 19) stating that the left has eschewed political violence. Author Yoav Fromer admits that there is some violence on the left, but for decades it hasnt compared to the methodical, organized and strategic violence and incitement of the right. What about rioting in Ferguson, MO, Portland, OR, Baltimore, MD and annually in Devos, Switzerland, or the attempt to murder the Republican congressional baseball team, to name just a few recent instances? There is extreme violence on the fringes of the left and the right. Excusing the left wing component, as the media icons do on a regular basis, only exacerbates the political divisions which are plaguing Western democracies.

We know about right wing antisemitism, which we witnessed in Charlottesville. But antisemitism is also prevalent on the left. It hurts to see Jews supporting the BDS movement (boycott, delegitimize, sanction Israel); the Black Lives Matter movement (Israel is the apartheid state), the LGBTQ movement (pro-Palestine and anti-Zionist), and the feminist movement (ditto), ignoring the bias against Jews and Israel. The great majority of Jews are liberal; they must wake up to the fact that movements such as those above are intolerant, not liberal.

If you are willing to toe the antisemitic, anti-Zionist line, youre ok to join these movements. But if you have pride in the fact that you are a Jew, or are a supporter of Israel, its past time to strongly express your disgust and to withdraw your support from organizations which are antisemitic and anti-Zionist.

Below are some excerpts from recent articles by a variety of non-doctrinaire writers, documenting the fallout from some of the above-mentioned movements.

Bari Weiss, New York Times For progressive American Jews, intersectionality [Intersectionality is the idea that all oppressed peoples and categories of people share a position, and by virtue of that fact are potential allies in the struggle against their oppressors] forces a choice: Which side of your identity do you keep, and which side do you discard and revile? Do you side with the oppressed or with the oppressor?

That kind of choice would have been familiar to previous generations of left-wing Jews, particularly those in Europe, who felt the tug between their ethnic heritage and their internationalist ideological sympathies. But this is the United States. Here, progressives are supposed to be comfortable with the idea of hyphenated identities and overlapping ethnic, sexual and political affinities. Since when did a politics that celebrates choice and choices devolve into a requirement of being forced to choose?

Jews on the left, particularly in recent years, have attempted to square this growing discomfort by becoming more anti-Israel. But if history has taught the Jews anything its that this kind of contortion never ends well. https://www.nytimes.com

Alan Dershowitz, Professor Emeritus Harvard Law School Whats new is the anti-Semitism from the right has become emboldened and now almost catching up with the anti-Semitism on the hard left which has been in existence for 20 years, he said. I love the concept of Black Lives Matter, but they are an anti-Semitic group. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video

Jennifer Ann Moses, USA Today Not ISIL (thousands of Yazidis murdered).Not North Korea (where untold millions, including children, have been killed by famine, imprisonment in slave camps, and torture.)Not Syria, where Bashar Assads forces continue to kill Syrian citizensby thehundreds of thousands.Nope:its Israel that some misguided folks at Black Lives Matter have singled out for accusations of genocide, even though Israel applies capital punishment only for crimes against humanity, and in practice, Israel hasnt sought the death penalty for decades.In other words, Israel, alone among the nations in its neighborhood, has never practiced state-sponsored bloodshed.

when it comes to hating Jews, normative reality has nothing to do with it.The only thing that matters is the narrative of hatred. https://www.usatoday.com/

Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press Unfortunately, many decent liberals have turned a blind eye to left-wing anti-Zionist agitation that is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism. Those who say they wish to deny Jews statehood, the right of self-defense, or the ability to live in peace in their homeland are practicing discrimination against Jews. This is the definition of anti-Semitism. And it is on the left, not the right, where support for such hatred, whether in the form of backing for the BDS movement or cultural boycotts, is growing.

It isnt alt-right Internet trolls who are orchestrating anti-Jewish protests like those of Linda Sarsour orefforts to boycott Israeli plays at Lincoln Center, where the appearance of even the work of a critic of Israel like David Grossman was enough to generate protest from mainstream artists.

Nor is it Trump who is responsible for turning universities into places where Jewish students no longer feel safe expressing their Jewish identity.

But unfortunately, all too many liberals would still rather believe Trump, their main political foe is the real reason anti-Semitism is growing. http://www.jewishpress.com/

Hannah Dreyfus, Jewish Week Jewish feminists of all stripes who are also Israel supporters, find themselves increasingly caught in the crosshairs of a culture war that seeks to isolate them both on campus and far beyond the quad. The bind they are in is a delicate one: jettison the progressive movement altogether, based on its harsh Israel positions, and not have a seat at the table, or agree to disagree on Israel but preserve a much-needed voice in the debate on a whole range of issues.

The International Womens Strike [March 8, 2017], which called for the decolonization of Palestine, solicited the participation of Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a Palestinian woman convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks. [She was released in a prisoner exchange after just 10 years in prison.]

Emily Shire, a journalist and editor living in New York who covers feminism and politics, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times about her conflicted Zionist and feminist identities. The article headlined Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists? was prompted by the controversial platform of the Womens Strike and the involvement of Odeh.

Speaking to The Jewish Week the day after her piece was published, Shire said the outrage and negative comments she received in response to the article were unlike anything Ive ever experienced before. I received my first-ever comment from someone wishing I would die. http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/

Its a reality that the extreme right and the extreme left are closer to each other than either is to the center. Hatred of Jews and Israel is a uniting factor. Whether from the left or the right, antisemites seem to get away with it. Theres nothing more to say.

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Antisemitism On The Left – Breaking Israel News

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Pinkwashing at Berlin Pride – Open Democracy

Defiant chants of liberation and open condemnation of the state have given way to political party blocs and a barrage of corporate floats, vying for the pink pound.

Celebrations in front of Berlin’s Siegessule at Pride. Omer Messinger/PA Images. All rights reserved.A group of activists took to the Siegessule, the Prussian war monument in the heart of Berlin, one late July afternoon. As the city celebrated Pride in the streets below, the trio scaled the 285-step spiral stairwell, making the case, as they saw it, for Palestinian freedom. It doesnt feel right that while Palestinians are living under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, people are being encouraged to celebrate Israeli progressiveness here, says Belal.

A monument dedicated to German militarism might seem an unusual site of protest, but the Siegessule marks a particular moment in the citys history of queer struggle. Situated in the centre of Tiergarten, the 220ft-high statue was a cruising spot for gay men in the 80s and 90s. It also serves as a reminder of Berlins very first Pride in 1979 when LGBT activists defiantly marched past the statue, marking the 10th anniversary of New York Citys Stonewall riots. It is in many ways a symbol of gay visibility.

Pride, or Christopher Street Day (CSD) as its known, still passes by almost four decades later and the citys flagship queer magazine, named after the monument, is a testament to the Siegessules enduring symbolic status. Saturdays CSD seemed somehow a world away from the early Pride years. Defiant chants of liberation and open condemnation of the state have given way to political party blocs and a barrage of corporate floats, vying for the pink pound.

As the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees from Berlin, it is ironic and frustrating that speaking out against Israeli oppression, and for justice and freedom of Palestinians, is seen as taboo and anti-Jewish.

Once atop the victory column the group, drenched by the incessant downpour, unveiled a patchwork column of flags: one Palestinian, one rainbow and a white banner reading No Pride in Israeli Apartheid. A larger group directly below could be heard chanting alongside a banner reading 50 Years of Occupation, You Cant Pinkwash This and handing out flyers to slightly bemused passersby. Berlin Against Pinkwashing (BAP) was at it again. We try to do something every Berlin Pride season, BAP activist Alice tells me. I was so shocked when I came to my first Pride in Berlin, I just had to do something.

BAP has been a vocal part of Pride events in recent years. Last year the group staged a peaceful die-in at the lesbian and gay Motzstrfest festival. After we finished and left the area we were physically attacked by security officers in plain clothes who destroyed the groups banners and threatened us with legal action, says Alice. We were also physically attacked by Oliver Hfinghoff, a member of the Berlin Senate, during the main CSD parade last year. The group was similarly accosted this year.

Conversations around pinkwashing have gained real traction in various areas of LGBT activism, especially in relation to Palestine and Israel, but BAP claims that there hasnt been much space for discussion in Berlin. As the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust refugees from Berlin, it is ironic and frustrating that speaking out against Israeli oppression, and for justice and freedom of Palestinians, is seen as taboo and anti-Jewish explains Margot. I’m tired of Zionism being conflated with being Jewish, and that critiquing Israel means you are anti-Jewish.”

Protestors at the Siegessule. Photo: Berlin Against Pinkwashing. All rights reserved.Pinkwashing a term used to describe a company or states attempt to promote itself as gay-friendly in order to downplay its less palatable activities is no more unique to states like Israel, than the corporatisation of Pride is to a cosmopolis like Berlin. The high presence of Israeli-sponsored events at Pride parades in Europes gay mecca is, however, noteworthy. A permanent Israel stand is yearly spotted at Motzstrfest and CSD Pride events. It has also become tradition for the Israeli Ambassador to join other state representatives in opening the CSD march, at which a high number of Israeli flags painted in the colour of the rainbow are handed out.

It has become traditionfor the Israeli Ambassador to join other state representatives in opening Berlin Pride.

BAP claims that this development belies the treatment of queers in Israel and Palestine. The fact remains that Palestinians are daily subjected to discriminatory and racist policies and this undermines any notion that Israel is LGBT-friendly says Alice. This claim is difficult to ignore when considered alongside recent policy initiatives.

Israels Foreign Ministry-led initiative Brand Israel was launched in 2007. Its aim was to counter the prevailing militaristic and religious associations of the country ushering in new global imagery: Israel would be the modern, vibrant and democratic haven of the Middle East.

The campaign has, however, sustained a high level of criticism from various parts of civil society, at home and abroad, particularly in the area of minority rights. The Palestinian LGBT organisation al-Qaws claims that such nation branding is an attempt to divert attention away from the states violation of Palestinian human rights, in and outside of the country. Indeed, attempts by the Israeli state to promote its gay-friendly culture abroad whilst denying rights to LGBT citizens at home is revealing.

In 2016, the Israeli Tourism Ministry decided to launch a multi-million-dollar promotional plane to bring international LGBT travellers to Tel Aviv Pride, an event expecting around 30,000 foreign tourists. LGBT activists responded in protest, highlighting the difference between government-allocated funding for LGBT organisations in general and the one-off cost of the plane and threatening to cancel pride. The plane idea was finally dropped.

Late last month the Israeli Social Affairs and Justice Ministries made a statement to the High Court affirming their opposition to same-sex couples adopting children. Their reasoning was that gay parents would bring additional baggage to a childs life. Add to this the well-documented targeting of queer Palestinians by Israeli secret services as potential informants and difficulties of organising Pride events outside of Tel Aviv and one begins to form a different picture of LGBT life as lived in the democratic haven.

The fight for LGBT rights here in Germany, and indeed the world over, remains an uphill one. But its striking that a country which still allows for state-level discrimination against queers would be afforded the level of exposure it currently receives at Berlin Pride. We must not allow Pride to be hijacked in this way. Pride was and must continue to be a place of protest, says Belal.

Despite the rain and a few unfriendly interactions, the small group of activists seemed in high spirits. One cant help but wonder how pride-goers of yesteryear would have felt about the modest Siegessle stunt. Proud, perhaps.

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Pinkwashing at Berlin Pride – Open Democracy

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Portuguese photographers pledge to boycott Israeli government, cultural institutions – Ma’an News Agency (press release)

(File)

Photographers can no longer be silent about the treatment of their Palestinian colleagues living under an indefensible occupation that has lasted for over half a century. Palestinians have called for solidarity through boycotts and this pledge is our practical contribution to their struggle.

The statement noted the struggles of Palestinian photographers and journalists under the Israeli occupation, highlighted that artists have been denied visas by the Israeli military establishment, preventing them from participating in conferences and performances internationally, in addition to being detained at checkpoints, arrested, having their equipment broken, and being exposed to the same violence perpetrated by the Israeli army on all Palestinians.The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

BDS activists target companies that act in compliance with Israels illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and encourage supporters to avoid buying Israeli products in order to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the half-century occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem the decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

As support for the movement has grown, the Israeli government has introduced anti-BDS policies, including passing a law in March banning foreigners who have openly expressed support in BDS from entering the country.

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Portuguese photographers pledge to boycott Israeli government, cultural institutions – Ma’an News Agency (press release)

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Should African States Boycott The Africa-Israel Summit? – Face2Face Africa

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (right). Photo credit: The Times of Israel.

A group of Palestinian activists has issued a statement asking African leaders to boycott the upcoming Africa-Israel summit in Togo in October, labeling Israel an apartheid state.

The summit, which is the first of its kind, is expected to reawaken economic and diplomatic relations between Israel and Africa, with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expected to meet more than 20 African heads of state to discuss the future of Africa-Israel cooperation.

But the civil rights group, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad, insists that Israels only interest in Africa is to exploit the continents vast resources and continue with its abuse of African migrants in Israel.

Addressing African governments in a letter sent to respective embassies yesterday, the group called for total rejection of the summit saying Israels continued action against Palestinians is in breach of various U.N. treaties.

It added that African countries, which suffered the greatest brunt of colonialism, should be wary of Israel, the longest and most brutal project in the world today.

Limited Options

From the face of it, the letter may look like the usual rhetoric and finger pointing circus that has been going on between Israel and Palestine for decades, but the weight of its implication cannot be wished away.

So, will the African governments heed the call to boycott the high-level summit? Can the continent afford to ignore a well-to-do partner like Israel? What will be the consequences if the heads of state decided to skip the conference? These are some of the hard questions that participating governments have to deal with.

Surprisingly, several African states, including Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and South Africa have already vowed not to attend the summit, with reports indicating that the civil rights group is working with local NGOs to persuade their governments to pull out of the conference.

But not everyone has a problem with Israel. Of late, many African countries have been looking to Israel for assistance in technology, infrastructural development and security. As a matter of fact, most African governments are now adopting new technologies from Israel to help them deal with problems of food shortage and insecurity.

Mr. Netanyahu, who recently made his maiden trip to Africa, has promised to strengthen his countrys relation with Africa, describing it as a priority. But pundits argue that Netanyahus renewed interest in Africa is necessitated by the need to win the continents support at the United Nations Security Council, which has been very critical of Israels actions against Palestine.

While this friendship with Israel may bring certain benefits to the continent, African governments must be aware of Israels definitive agenda and ensure it is not harmful to their own national and regional interests.

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Should African States Boycott The Africa-Israel Summit? – Face2Face Africa

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Don’t let let them exploit you, Kasrils cautions ANC MPs – Independent Online

In an open letter to ANC MPs, African National Congress stalwart Ronnie Kasrils urges them not to be trapped into meeting Israeli MPs at a South African Jewish Board of Deputies conference to be held this weekend.

Dear Comrades,

I first want to acknowledge and salute you for your strong and clear position and that of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus to reject the request that Parliament meet a delegation from the Israeli Knesset (parliament).

In your clear and bold statement you declared:

“The continuous killings of Palestinians by the Israeli Security Forces, administrative detentions, deportations and many other human rights violations also form part of the reasons why the ANC cannot allow itself to be co-opted into this charm offensive by Israel through this parliamentary visit.”

I am writing to caution you of an advertised South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) conference this Sunday (20 August 2017) in Johannesburg which will likely be used to undermine your clear stance. It is within their right to invite whom ever they wish and in all likelihood many of you might have been invited to attend under the auspices of the Jewish community wanting to be addressed by you.

It is also apparent, however, that the visiting Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Members will be guests and thus likely address the event. If this is the case your presence will be exploited and utilised to undermine the stand you took in our parliament by proximity with those visitors.

Already they have sought photo opportunities with opposition MPs such as Mosiua Lekota; and been received by the Johannesburg Mayor. These reprehensible meetings undermine our countrys forthright stand against Israels criminal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, the inhuman Israeli siege of the Palestinian Gaza Strip, the consignment of Israels Palestinian inhabitants to second class status; and violation of Palestinian rights and usurpation of their land. Those who have been meeting with the delegation are actively choosing to shamelessly ignore the gross human rights violations and breach of international laws that Israel is committing.

Our people suffered under apartheid and today the Apartheid Government of Israel, which actively supported Apartheid South Africa, is attempting to gain our support in order to cover-up and condone their brutal abuse and repression of the Palestinian people. The SAJBD acts as a platform to provide Israel’s government and parliament access to our people and government in direct and indirect ways. What they may be aiming for this weekend and at other such conference is drawing ANC MPs into their web in an indirect way. It is incumbent on all in the liberation movement, ministers as well as ordinary MPs, to be vigilant and not meet with them at all.

I join others in our country, including progressive Jews, in urging you not to be trapped into meeting the Israeli MPs this weekend thus legitimising their presence in South Africa.

I join those who are calling for a boycott of SAJBD activities until it ends its support of and lobbying on behalf of Apartheid Israel. The SAJBD is meant to represent the Jewish community of this country, not all of whom are Zionists or supporters of an ethnic Israeli state which brutally oppresses the indigenous Palestinian people. The SAJBD should confine itself to issues within the country in the interests of the Jewish community rather than acting as a devisive agent of a reprehensible foreign power.

Yours comradely

Ronnie Kasrils (Former South African Government Minister)

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Palestinian groups urge African nations to boycott Africa-Israel summit – Gulf Times

A group of Palestinian activists, academics, and civil society organisations have launched a campaign to deter African nations from partaking in the upcoming Africa-Israel summit, slated to take place in Togo in October. Several African countries, including South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania, have already decided to boycott the summit, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet leaders from more than 20 countries to rekindle a diplomatic and economic relationship. The summit will be the first of its kind. According to activist Razan Zuayter, a campaign organiser based in Jordan, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad is seeking to point out to African countries Israels dangerous activities in the continent, such as its diamond trade, often illegally imported from Africa as revealed in a 2009 United Nations report, and its mistreatment of African minorities in Israel. If it [the summit] happens, we want a counter movement to emerge in Africa that can act in parallel to it, Zuayter told Al Jazeera. The summit, scheduled for October 23, will have leaders from Africa and Israel discuss ways to enhance co-operation in the fields of technology, development and security. In a letter addressed to African governments and their respective embassies, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad organisation called for the boycott of the summit on the basis that establishing relations with an apartheid state and condoning its actions against the occupied Palestinian people comes in violation of various UN conventions. African countries which fought colonialism for decades and became free after a long suffering should never associate themselves with the only, longest and most brutal colonial project in the world today, the letter reads. In the name of justice and freedom and in the name of the African legacy of long struggle for freedom, we ask your country to disassociate from Israels Apartheid regime. Netanyahu previously pledged to strengthen ties with the continent and described his pledge as a priority at a regional security conference he attended in Liberia in June 2017. I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential present and future. It is a continent on the rise, he said in his address to West African leaders. Historically, African leaders did not have warm relationships with the State of Israel. Following the 1973 October War, sub-Saharan African countries severed ties with Israel. In 2016, Netanyahu became the first Israeli leader to visit sub-Saharan Africa in almost three decades. The organisation, representing the Palestinian diaspora, is also working with civil society groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the ground to pressure participating governments into pulling out from the summit. Salman Abu Sitta, Chairperson of the organisation, told Al Jazeera that these African countries have been hard, determined fighters in the battle against western colonialism. It [the summit] is a very sad regression; it is regrettable that they deny that history and became enemies of their history to become aligned with the very epitome of racism and discrimination that is Israel, he said. Is Togo ready to send ships of slaves from Togo to Israel in annotation of their long history? he added. According to Abu Sitta, the main consequence of a renewed Africa-Israel relationship is losing what is now a solid majority in the UN General Assembly in favour of ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Traditionally, African nations have been supporters of the Palestinian cause when voting on resolutions concerning the right of return, the dismantlement of the Separation Wall, and ending the illegal settlement expansion project. Out of 193 member states, there are 54 African states in the UN. If we lose them [African votes], it is very dangerous, Abu Sitta explained. Israel will have centres of influence in these countries, which will actively increase Israels influence in the UN and in the African continent, he added, pointing out that the countries involved with organising the summit, including Togo, may have private or monetary motives for setting up the summit. Al Jazeera reached out to the summit organisers for comment but received no reply in time for publication. Similarly, Ghada Karmi, an academic and spokesperson for the organisation, told Al Jazeera that the campaign is significant in encouraging a discussion about Israeli apartheid policies and in raising awareness. Israel, Karmi said, is determined to carry out the summit to reverse or abolish the pro-Arab policy of the African states. If the summit were successful, it would be a milestone on the Israeli campaign, she explained. We have to ask what is Israel offering to the African countries it seems to us that it is offering support for dictators, she said, which would aid governments in repressing liberation movements. This [campaign] should be done at the state level, said Karmi, describing the lack of government action as problematic. We have been reaching out to states to condemn this summit, not only African governments. South African human rights activist and political analyst Ayesha Kajee, based in Johannesburg, told Al Jazeera that Israel has been on a mission to strengthen ties with Africa, even to the extent of attempting to gain observer status at the African Union. While these new friendships with Israel might bring certain African countries short-term benefits they should be wary of Israels longer-term agenda, which may ultimately be detrimental to their own national interests, she said. During Netanyahus visit to the continent in 2016, the Israeli government approved a $13mn deal in development packages for African countries. The move was intended to symbolise the start of a closer economic relationship. Speaking to Al Jazeera from the Occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Mustafa Barghouti, the former Palestinian information minister and general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, said that Israel is taking advantage of its technological abilities and of its military and security services to carry out the summit. We started seeing changing trends in the UN with regards to the Palestinian cause, he said. Loss of support could lead to dominance of the Israeli narrative about the Palestinian issue and about the situation today. In addition to utilising support from the United States to establish a base in African countries, Barghouti said that this relationship is a chance for Israel to market their products and surveillance services, especially at a time where the activities of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are proving effective in curbing Israels economic success. Naeem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg, told Al Jazeera that a relationship with Israel would undermine African countries sovereignty. Through marketing their products and services, Israel seeks to penetrate into the security services of these countries, Jeenah explained. It is a problem when a foreign state takes over the security functions of another government they [African governments] become dependent on the Israelis, he said. Despite ongoing efforts to raise awareness, according to Jeenah, some 15 African countries are already in the Israeli camp, and no amount of civil society can reverse that. African countries who oppose Israeli policies have not been vocal, he says, but with more government pressure, countries on the fencecould be influenced. l Farah Najjar is an online producer at Al Jazeera English.

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Palestinian groups urge African nations to boycott Africa-Israel summit – Gulf Times

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Analysis: Is Israel being utilized in the German Social Democrats’ campaign? – i24NEWS

A lot has changed in German-Israeli relations since the Social Democratic Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes memorial in 1970. While that resonating gesture advanced the then-new ties between the two countries, nowadays SPD leaders seem to be mostly generating controversy in their dealings with Israel. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who already drew criticism after comparing Israel to a Apartheid regime following a visit to Hebron in 2012, knocked heads again with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after insisting to meet with highly-critical left-wing NGOs during a visit in April. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also of the SPD, who followed Gabriel to Israel in May with the hope of easing tensions, was seen in Germany as contributing to the friction by laying a wreath on the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Most recently it was a local SPD official from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia who triggered an uproar: On his Facebook page, the official Stefan Grnebaum called Israel supporters in Germany an organized, good networked ‘fifth column’ serving the interests of the Jewish state. The traditional friendship of the SPD towards Israel, forged with Israel’s socialist roots in mind, has weakened with time, deems Dr. Martin Kloke, an expert on Israel and the German left. Today we have another government in Israel, more right wing, and in Germany there is a new generation, one that doesn’t care very much about the past, he explained. Among rival parties, the latest steps by the SPD involving Israel including the indefinite postponement of the German-Israeli drone deal ] evoked allegations that the party is trying to win political capital at Israel’s expense. The election campaign is to blame, asserted CSU politician Florian Hahn recently to i24NEWS. The SPD is openly ready to endanger our good relations with Israel, in order to make gains for themselves ahead of the election in September. Pro-Israel lawmakers within the SPD now deny the accusations. I’m sure that within the German population and among our voters as well, there are people that would like Germany to take a tougher line against Israel, admitted Bundestag member Fritz Felgentreu, but he insists that these comments are unlikely a response to a general expectation among voters, nor is it part of an election strategy. Gabriel’s remarks were the result of his direct and somewhat impulsive communication style and reflected his personal dislike of the Netanyahu government, argues the SPD politician, while Steinmeier’s gesture was meant more as a sign of respect towards the Palestinians and both of them underestimated the effect it would have. The SPD is a large party; we have more than 400,000 members and some 5,000 active politicians all over Germany, maybe even more. Among them you will find people with different views on Israel, and if you simply collect the ones that are critical of Israel, you can easily create the impression of something piling up. I don’t think it is a fair portrayal of what’s going on. Moreover, reminds Felgentreu, such comments have little potential to sway the vote of Germans of Arab descent, for one, as they view Germany’s support of Israel as solidified by the German guilt complex and rule out a fundamental change in attitude. But Jewish voters, on the contrary, do attribute importance to such signals. For example, the fact that Martin Schulz then President of the European Parliament and now the SPD candidate for chancellor – praised the speech of Palestinian President Abbas in Brussels last year as inspiring and stayed silent in the face of his claim that Rabbis are urging Israel to poison Palestinians water, was much noticed by the German Jewry. It made them distrust Martin Schulz, noted Felgentreu. I believe it was just a blunder, a mistake, but from my discussions with German Jews, it is clear that when you have a series of little signals like that, it can destroy confidence in the SPD’s general position. We have to be much more sensitive of the signals we broadcast and to take the sensitivities of Jewish Germans much more seriously. The expert Kloke agrees: Politicians indeed lack an understanding of the historical and psychological complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and at first glance often oversimplify it as merely a land dispute or a David vs. Goliath-type struggle. But are they utilizing Israel in the dialog with their voters? Though unlikely, the question remains open. There is no smoking gun on this, there is no proof. But the SPD must be very desperate if it has to use these methods to get votes, stressed Kloke, bringing as evidence the case of Jrgen Mllemann – the first and maybe the last time that a leading politician used Israel and anti-Zionism to attract voters, as he describes it. Mllemann, a former federal minister and vice chancellor from the liberal Free Democratic Party, produced a brochure ahead of the 2002 national election, criticizing the former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon’s policies towards the Palestinians. The vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany at the time, Michel Friedman, that endorsed these actions, was also slammed in the flyer that was widely viewed as anti-Semitic. The controversy drove Mllemann out of the party the following year. He definitely completely lost and the party got rid of him, continued Kloke, so I hope that the SPD is not really considering using anti-Israel sentiments, because this is not part of the Social Democrats’ tradition. In general, he says, it seems that Israel, which once had the power to cause polarization within the German left, had lost its impact on the electorate. There is a growing understanding that Israel is not the main issue in the Middle East and that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alone won’t heal the region. The public opinion is disillusioned, and this makes Israel or whatever the Israeli government is saying or doing, look not as important as it did a few years ago. I don’t remember any election in the last 20 years where the policy towards Israel was a major issue, Felgentreu affirmed, particularly because I believe fundamentally this question is settled. Anybody who wants to be taken seriously in German politics, fully embraces Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. So why argue about something that everyone agrees on? It doesn’t make sense. Therefore, whoever might win the upcoming election the German policy towards Israel will largely remain the same, both Kloke and Felgentreu agree. Berlin will continue to scold Israel for its settlement policy, will counter the BDS movement in Europe at least to some extent, and will unlikely significantly increase its involvement in the stalled peace process. Naturally I think that Chancellor Schulz would be a better solution than Chancellor Merkel in many areas, and probably also in affairs with Israel, stated the politician. But on the really important issues of foreign policy, there is not much difference between the CDU and the SPD. The German support for Israel is not in dispute.

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SF State asks court to dismiss suit accusing it of allowing anti-Semitism – SFGate

Photo: Loren Elliott, The Chronicle File photo of Holloway Avenue by the San Francisco State University administration building in San Francisco, California. File photo of Holloway Avenue by the San Francisco State University administration building in San Francisco, California. SF State asks court to dismiss suit accusing it of allowing anti-Semitism Saying they have no power to censor campus speech, officials at San Francisco State University asked a federal judge Monday to dismiss a suit by current and former Jewish students accusing the school of fostering anti-Semitism. Lawyers for the school and the California State University Board of Trustees denied that the incidents described in the suit disruption of a talk by the mayor of Jerusalem, exclusion of the Jewish group Hillel from a campus fair, and several past provocations including the 1994 defacement of a mural showing stars of David had been fostered or tolerated by SFSU officials or had interfered with anyones freedom of religion. But even if religious liberties had been burdened, the lawyers said, the source of that burden would be the actions of other students and groups at the university, who were also exercising core First Amendment rights that the university could not curtail. They noted that another judge threw out a similar suit against UC Berkeley in 2011. U.S. District Judge William Orrick III will decide whether to let the suit proceed. Filed in June by present and past students and several local residents, the suit alleged that SFSU has fostered and sanctioned anti-Semitism from the highest levels and affirmed the actions of hostile, aggressive and disruptive students to regularly violate the rights of Jewish students. The suit focused on an April 2016 appearance by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Six minutes into his remarks, about 20 students stood and started shouting, Free Palestine, Israel is an apartheid state and other chants, according to a report commissioned by the university. The protesters soon began using a microphone and prevented listeners from hearing most of Barkats speech, said the report, by an outside law firm. It concluded the protest had been disruptive and violated school policies but posed no physical threat to Barkat or others. But the lawsuit said the protesters had threatened violence, that Jewish students felt frightened, and that school officials had contributed to the hateful atmosphere by instructing campus police to stand down, and later by letting the demonstrators off with a warning. The suit also accused officials of bias for moving Barkats speech to an off-campus location. In Mondays filing, however, the university said it had relocated Barkats speech because of concerns about student safety, not religion. And university lawyers said the protesters were engaged in political speech and expressive conduct core First Amendment-protected rights. The lawyers also said Hillel had been excluded from a campus Know Your Rights fair in February because the group had missed a registration deadline. The Jewish students lawsuit contended the deadline was fabricated. We stand by our claims, which outline a discriminatory environment unlawfully targeting Jewish students, attorney Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel nonprofit representing the plaintiffs, said Monday. SFSU officials also cited a 2011 ruling by another federal judge dismissing a lawsuit by two Jewish students that accused UC Berkeley of turning a blind eye to alleged intimidation by Arab students and encouraging campus anti-Semitism. Even if the claims in that lawsuit were proved, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said, the conduct mainly involved pure political speech that was constitutionally protected. Seeborg, however, allowed the Berkeley students to refile their suit with narrower and more specific claims. Their lawyer, Joel Siegal, said Monday that the case was ultimately settled with bans on some types of intimidating conduct by protesters. Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: begelko@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @egelko

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Portuguese Photographers Pledge BDS on Israeli Government – International Middle East Media Center

Over 40 Portuguese photographers, teachers of photography and photography students pledged on Saturday, which marked World Photography Day, not to accept professional invitations or financing from Israel, and to refuse to collaborate with Israeli cultural institutions complicit in Israels regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, according to the official website of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. According to the statement from the BDS movement, the pledge was the first of its kind, as the photographers pledged to boycott Israel until it complies with international law and respects the human rights of Palestinians. Among the pledge supporters were Jo o Pina, winner of the 2017 Pr mio Esta o Imagem Viana do Castelo, Portugals only photojournalism award, TV personality and travel photographerNuno Lobito, Miguel Carri o, winner of the 2012 Concelho da Bienal de Vila Franca de Xira award, Jos Soudo, a veteran Photography teacher and Historian, and Jo o Henriques, winner of the 2015 Fnac New Talents Award. According to Maan News Agency, the statement quoted Carri o as saying: Having witnessed first-hand the crimes Israel is committing daily against Palestinians, signing up to this initiative has become a natural step. It is fundamental to promote this effort through all means possible. It is time for Israels brand of apartheid to enjoy the same treatment as South African apartheid and be target of a comprehensive international boycott until it respects human rights, the statement quoted Lobita as saying. Photographers can no longer be silent about the treatment of their Palestinian colleagues living under an indefensible occupation that has lasted for over half a century. Palestinians have called for solidarity through boycotts and this pledge is our practical contribution to their struggle. The statement noted the struggles of Palestinian photographers and journalists under the Israeli occupation, highlighted that artists have been denied visas by the Israeli military establishment, preventing them from participating in conferences and performances internationally, in addition to being detained at checkpoints, arrested, having their equipment broken, and being exposed to the same violence perpetrated by the Israeli army on all Palestinians. The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government. BDS activists target companies that act in compliance with Israels illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and encourage supporters to avoid buying Israeli products in order to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the half-century occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem the decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. As support for the movement has grown, the Israeli government has introduced anti-BDS policies, including passing a law in March banning foreigners who have openly expressed support in BDS from entering the country. Search IMEMC: boycott

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Antisemitism On The Left – Breaking Israel News

I was shocked, but not surprised, to see the Washington Post feature an op-ed this weekend (August 19) stating that the left has eschewed political violence. Author Yoav Fromer admits that there is some violence on the left, but for decades it hasnt compared to the methodical, organized and strategic violence and incitement of the right. What about rioting in Ferguson, MO, Portland, OR, Baltimore, MD and annually in Devos, Switzerland, or the attempt to murder the Republican congressional baseball team, to name just a few recent instances? There is extreme violence on the fringes of the left and the right. Excusing the left wing component, as the media icons do on a regular basis, only exacerbates the political divisions which are plaguing Western democracies. We know about right wing antisemitism, which we witnessed in Charlottesville. But antisemitism is also prevalent on the left. It hurts to see Jews supporting the BDS movement (boycott, delegitimize, sanction Israel); the Black Lives Matter movement (Israel is the apartheid state), the LGBTQ movement (pro-Palestine and anti-Zionist), and the feminist movement (ditto), ignoring the bias against Jews and Israel. The great majority of Jews are liberal; they must wake up to the fact that movements such as those above are intolerant, not liberal. If you are willing to toe the antisemitic, anti-Zionist line, youre ok to join these movements. But if you have pride in the fact that you are a Jew, or are a supporter of Israel, its past time to strongly express your disgust and to withdraw your support from organizations which are antisemitic and anti-Zionist. Below are some excerpts from recent articles by a variety of non-doctrinaire writers, documenting the fallout from some of the above-mentioned movements. Bari Weiss, New York Times For progressive American Jews, intersectionality [Intersectionality is the idea that all oppressed peoples and categories of people share a position, and by virtue of that fact are potential allies in the struggle against their oppressors] forces a choice: Which side of your identity do you keep, and which side do you discard and revile? Do you side with the oppressed or with the oppressor? That kind of choice would have been familiar to previous generations of left-wing Jews, particularly those in Europe, who felt the tug between their ethnic heritage and their internationalist ideological sympathies. But this is the United States. Here, progressives are supposed to be comfortable with the idea of hyphenated identities and overlapping ethnic, sexual and political affinities. Since when did a politics that celebrates choice and choices devolve into a requirement of being forced to choose? Jews on the left, particularly in recent years, have attempted to square this growing discomfort by becoming more anti-Israel. But if history has taught the Jews anything its that this kind of contortion never ends well. https://www.nytimes.com Alan Dershowitz, Professor Emeritus Harvard Law School Whats new is the anti-Semitism from the right has become emboldened and now almost catching up with the anti-Semitism on the hard left which has been in existence for 20 years, he said. I love the concept of Black Lives Matter, but they are an anti-Semitic group. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video Jennifer Ann Moses, USA Today Not ISIL (thousands of Yazidis murdered).Not North Korea (where untold millions, including children, have been killed by famine, imprisonment in slave camps, and torture.)Not Syria, where Bashar Assads forces continue to kill Syrian citizensby thehundreds of thousands.Nope:its Israel that some misguided folks at Black Lives Matter have singled out for accusations of genocide, even though Israel applies capital punishment only for crimes against humanity, and in practice, Israel hasnt sought the death penalty for decades.In other words, Israel, alone among the nations in its neighborhood, has never practiced state-sponsored bloodshed. when it comes to hating Jews, normative reality has nothing to do with it.The only thing that matters is the narrative of hatred. https://www.usatoday.com/ Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press Unfortunately, many decent liberals have turned a blind eye to left-wing anti-Zionist agitation that is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism. Those who say they wish to deny Jews statehood, the right of self-defense, or the ability to live in peace in their homeland are practicing discrimination against Jews. This is the definition of anti-Semitism. And it is on the left, not the right, where support for such hatred, whether in the form of backing for the BDS movement or cultural boycotts, is growing. It isnt alt-right Internet trolls who are orchestrating anti-Jewish protests like those of Linda Sarsour orefforts to boycott Israeli plays at Lincoln Center, where the appearance of even the work of a critic of Israel like David Grossman was enough to generate protest from mainstream artists. Nor is it Trump who is responsible for turning universities into places where Jewish students no longer feel safe expressing their Jewish identity. But unfortunately, all too many liberals would still rather believe Trump, their main political foe is the real reason anti-Semitism is growing. http://www.jewishpress.com/ Hannah Dreyfus, Jewish Week Jewish feminists of all stripes who are also Israel supporters, find themselves increasingly caught in the crosshairs of a culture war that seeks to isolate them both on campus and far beyond the quad. The bind they are in is a delicate one: jettison the progressive movement altogether, based on its harsh Israel positions, and not have a seat at the table, or agree to disagree on Israel but preserve a much-needed voice in the debate on a whole range of issues. The International Womens Strike [March 8, 2017], which called for the decolonization of Palestine, solicited the participation of Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a Palestinian woman convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks. [She was released in a prisoner exchange after just 10 years in prison.] Emily Shire, a journalist and editor living in New York who covers feminism and politics, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times about her conflicted Zionist and feminist identities. The article headlined Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists? was prompted by the controversial platform of the Womens Strike and the involvement of Odeh. Speaking to The Jewish Week the day after her piece was published, Shire said the outrage and negative comments she received in response to the article were unlike anything Ive ever experienced before. I received my first-ever comment from someone wishing I would die. http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/ Its a reality that the extreme right and the extreme left are closer to each other than either is to the center. Hatred of Jews and Israel is a uniting factor. Whether from the left or the right, antisemites seem to get away with it. Theres nothing more to say.

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Pinkwashing at Berlin Pride – Open Democracy

Defiant chants of liberation and open condemnation of the state have given way to political party blocs and a barrage of corporate floats, vying for the pink pound. Celebrations in front of Berlin’s Siegessule at Pride. Omer Messinger/PA Images. All rights reserved.A group of activists took to the Siegessule, the Prussian war monument in the heart of Berlin, one late July afternoon. As the city celebrated Pride in the streets below, the trio scaled the 285-step spiral stairwell, making the case, as they saw it, for Palestinian freedom. It doesnt feel right that while Palestinians are living under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, people are being encouraged to celebrate Israeli progressiveness here, says Belal. A monument dedicated to German militarism might seem an unusual site of protest, but the Siegessule marks a particular moment in the citys history of queer struggle. Situated in the centre of Tiergarten, the 220ft-high statue was a cruising spot for gay men in the 80s and 90s. It also serves as a reminder of Berlins very first Pride in 1979 when LGBT activists defiantly marched past the statue, marking the 10th anniversary of New York Citys Stonewall riots. It is in many ways a symbol of gay visibility. Pride, or Christopher Street Day (CSD) as its known, still passes by almost four decades later and the citys flagship queer magazine, named after the monument, is a testament to the Siegessules enduring symbolic status. Saturdays CSD seemed somehow a world away from the early Pride years. Defiant chants of liberation and open condemnation of the state have given way to political party blocs and a barrage of corporate floats, vying for the pink pound. As the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees from Berlin, it is ironic and frustrating that speaking out against Israeli oppression, and for justice and freedom of Palestinians, is seen as taboo and anti-Jewish. Once atop the victory column the group, drenched by the incessant downpour, unveiled a patchwork column of flags: one Palestinian, one rainbow and a white banner reading No Pride in Israeli Apartheid. A larger group directly below could be heard chanting alongside a banner reading 50 Years of Occupation, You Cant Pinkwash This and handing out flyers to slightly bemused passersby. Berlin Against Pinkwashing (BAP) was at it again. We try to do something every Berlin Pride season, BAP activist Alice tells me. I was so shocked when I came to my first Pride in Berlin, I just had to do something. BAP has been a vocal part of Pride events in recent years. Last year the group staged a peaceful die-in at the lesbian and gay Motzstrfest festival. After we finished and left the area we were physically attacked by security officers in plain clothes who destroyed the groups banners and threatened us with legal action, says Alice. We were also physically attacked by Oliver Hfinghoff, a member of the Berlin Senate, during the main CSD parade last year. The group was similarly accosted this year. Conversations around pinkwashing have gained real traction in various areas of LGBT activism, especially in relation to Palestine and Israel, but BAP claims that there hasnt been much space for discussion in Berlin. As the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust refugees from Berlin, it is ironic and frustrating that speaking out against Israeli oppression, and for justice and freedom of Palestinians, is seen as taboo and anti-Jewish explains Margot. I’m tired of Zionism being conflated with being Jewish, and that critiquing Israel means you are anti-Jewish.” Protestors at the Siegessule. Photo: Berlin Against Pinkwashing. All rights reserved.Pinkwashing a term used to describe a company or states attempt to promote itself as gay-friendly in order to downplay its less palatable activities is no more unique to states like Israel, than the corporatisation of Pride is to a cosmopolis like Berlin. The high presence of Israeli-sponsored events at Pride parades in Europes gay mecca is, however, noteworthy. A permanent Israel stand is yearly spotted at Motzstrfest and CSD Pride events. It has also become tradition for the Israeli Ambassador to join other state representatives in opening the CSD march, at which a high number of Israeli flags painted in the colour of the rainbow are handed out. It has become traditionfor the Israeli Ambassador to join other state representatives in opening Berlin Pride. BAP claims that this development belies the treatment of queers in Israel and Palestine. The fact remains that Palestinians are daily subjected to discriminatory and racist policies and this undermines any notion that Israel is LGBT-friendly says Alice. This claim is difficult to ignore when considered alongside recent policy initiatives. Israels Foreign Ministry-led initiative Brand Israel was launched in 2007. Its aim was to counter the prevailing militaristic and religious associations of the country ushering in new global imagery: Israel would be the modern, vibrant and democratic haven of the Middle East. The campaign has, however, sustained a high level of criticism from various parts of civil society, at home and abroad, particularly in the area of minority rights. The Palestinian LGBT organisation al-Qaws claims that such nation branding is an attempt to divert attention away from the states violation of Palestinian human rights, in and outside of the country. Indeed, attempts by the Israeli state to promote its gay-friendly culture abroad whilst denying rights to LGBT citizens at home is revealing. In 2016, the Israeli Tourism Ministry decided to launch a multi-million-dollar promotional plane to bring international LGBT travellers to Tel Aviv Pride, an event expecting around 30,000 foreign tourists. LGBT activists responded in protest, highlighting the difference between government-allocated funding for LGBT organisations in general and the one-off cost of the plane and threatening to cancel pride. The plane idea was finally dropped. Late last month the Israeli Social Affairs and Justice Ministries made a statement to the High Court affirming their opposition to same-sex couples adopting children. Their reasoning was that gay parents would bring additional baggage to a childs life. Add to this the well-documented targeting of queer Palestinians by Israeli secret services as potential informants and difficulties of organising Pride events outside of Tel Aviv and one begins to form a different picture of LGBT life as lived in the democratic haven. The fight for LGBT rights here in Germany, and indeed the world over, remains an uphill one. But its striking that a country which still allows for state-level discrimination against queers would be afforded the level of exposure it currently receives at Berlin Pride. We must not allow Pride to be hijacked in this way. Pride was and must continue to be a place of protest, says Belal. Despite the rain and a few unfriendly interactions, the small group of activists seemed in high spirits. One cant help but wonder how pride-goers of yesteryear would have felt about the modest Siegessle stunt. Proud, perhaps.

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Portuguese photographers pledge to boycott Israeli government, cultural institutions – Ma’an News Agency (press release)

(File) Photographers can no longer be silent about the treatment of their Palestinian colleagues living under an indefensible occupation that has lasted for over half a century. Palestinians have called for solidarity through boycotts and this pledge is our practical contribution to their struggle. The statement noted the struggles of Palestinian photographers and journalists under the Israeli occupation, highlighted that artists have been denied visas by the Israeli military establishment, preventing them from participating in conferences and performances internationally, in addition to being detained at checkpoints, arrested, having their equipment broken, and being exposed to the same violence perpetrated by the Israeli army on all Palestinians.The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government. BDS activists target companies that act in compliance with Israels illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and encourage supporters to avoid buying Israeli products in order to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the half-century occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem the decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. As support for the movement has grown, the Israeli government has introduced anti-BDS policies, including passing a law in March banning foreigners who have openly expressed support in BDS from entering the country.

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August 20, 2017   Posted in: Israel Apartheid  Comments Closed

Should African States Boycott The Africa-Israel Summit? – Face2Face Africa

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (right). Photo credit: The Times of Israel. A group of Palestinian activists has issued a statement asking African leaders to boycott the upcoming Africa-Israel summit in Togo in October, labeling Israel an apartheid state. The summit, which is the first of its kind, is expected to reawaken economic and diplomatic relations between Israel and Africa, with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expected to meet more than 20 African heads of state to discuss the future of Africa-Israel cooperation. But the civil rights group, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad, insists that Israels only interest in Africa is to exploit the continents vast resources and continue with its abuse of African migrants in Israel. Addressing African governments in a letter sent to respective embassies yesterday, the group called for total rejection of the summit saying Israels continued action against Palestinians is in breach of various U.N. treaties. It added that African countries, which suffered the greatest brunt of colonialism, should be wary of Israel, the longest and most brutal project in the world today. Limited Options From the face of it, the letter may look like the usual rhetoric and finger pointing circus that has been going on between Israel and Palestine for decades, but the weight of its implication cannot be wished away. So, will the African governments heed the call to boycott the high-level summit? Can the continent afford to ignore a well-to-do partner like Israel? What will be the consequences if the heads of state decided to skip the conference? These are some of the hard questions that participating governments have to deal with. Surprisingly, several African states, including Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and South Africa have already vowed not to attend the summit, with reports indicating that the civil rights group is working with local NGOs to persuade their governments to pull out of the conference. But not everyone has a problem with Israel. Of late, many African countries have been looking to Israel for assistance in technology, infrastructural development and security. As a matter of fact, most African governments are now adopting new technologies from Israel to help them deal with problems of food shortage and insecurity. Mr. Netanyahu, who recently made his maiden trip to Africa, has promised to strengthen his countrys relation with Africa, describing it as a priority. But pundits argue that Netanyahus renewed interest in Africa is necessitated by the need to win the continents support at the United Nations Security Council, which has been very critical of Israels actions against Palestine. While this friendship with Israel may bring certain benefits to the continent, African governments must be aware of Israels definitive agenda and ensure it is not harmful to their own national and regional interests.

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August 19, 2017   Posted in: Israel Apartheid  Comments Closed

Don’t let let them exploit you, Kasrils cautions ANC MPs – Independent Online

In an open letter to ANC MPs, African National Congress stalwart Ronnie Kasrils urges them not to be trapped into meeting Israeli MPs at a South African Jewish Board of Deputies conference to be held this weekend. Dear Comrades, I first want to acknowledge and salute you for your strong and clear position and that of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus to reject the request that Parliament meet a delegation from the Israeli Knesset (parliament). In your clear and bold statement you declared: “The continuous killings of Palestinians by the Israeli Security Forces, administrative detentions, deportations and many other human rights violations also form part of the reasons why the ANC cannot allow itself to be co-opted into this charm offensive by Israel through this parliamentary visit.” I am writing to caution you of an advertised South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) conference this Sunday (20 August 2017) in Johannesburg which will likely be used to undermine your clear stance. It is within their right to invite whom ever they wish and in all likelihood many of you might have been invited to attend under the auspices of the Jewish community wanting to be addressed by you. It is also apparent, however, that the visiting Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Members will be guests and thus likely address the event. If this is the case your presence will be exploited and utilised to undermine the stand you took in our parliament by proximity with those visitors. Already they have sought photo opportunities with opposition MPs such as Mosiua Lekota; and been received by the Johannesburg Mayor. These reprehensible meetings undermine our countrys forthright stand against Israels criminal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, the inhuman Israeli siege of the Palestinian Gaza Strip, the consignment of Israels Palestinian inhabitants to second class status; and violation of Palestinian rights and usurpation of their land. Those who have been meeting with the delegation are actively choosing to shamelessly ignore the gross human rights violations and breach of international laws that Israel is committing. Our people suffered under apartheid and today the Apartheid Government of Israel, which actively supported Apartheid South Africa, is attempting to gain our support in order to cover-up and condone their brutal abuse and repression of the Palestinian people. The SAJBD acts as a platform to provide Israel’s government and parliament access to our people and government in direct and indirect ways. What they may be aiming for this weekend and at other such conference is drawing ANC MPs into their web in an indirect way. It is incumbent on all in the liberation movement, ministers as well as ordinary MPs, to be vigilant and not meet with them at all. I join others in our country, including progressive Jews, in urging you not to be trapped into meeting the Israeli MPs this weekend thus legitimising their presence in South Africa. I join those who are calling for a boycott of SAJBD activities until it ends its support of and lobbying on behalf of Apartheid Israel. The SAJBD is meant to represent the Jewish community of this country, not all of whom are Zionists or supporters of an ethnic Israeli state which brutally oppresses the indigenous Palestinian people. The SAJBD should confine itself to issues within the country in the interests of the Jewish community rather than acting as a devisive agent of a reprehensible foreign power. Yours comradely Ronnie Kasrils (Former South African Government Minister)

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Israel Apartheid  Comments Closed

Palestinian groups urge African nations to boycott Africa-Israel summit – Gulf Times

A group of Palestinian activists, academics, and civil society organisations have launched a campaign to deter African nations from partaking in the upcoming Africa-Israel summit, slated to take place in Togo in October. Several African countries, including South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania, have already decided to boycott the summit, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet leaders from more than 20 countries to rekindle a diplomatic and economic relationship. The summit will be the first of its kind. According to activist Razan Zuayter, a campaign organiser based in Jordan, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad is seeking to point out to African countries Israels dangerous activities in the continent, such as its diamond trade, often illegally imported from Africa as revealed in a 2009 United Nations report, and its mistreatment of African minorities in Israel. If it [the summit] happens, we want a counter movement to emerge in Africa that can act in parallel to it, Zuayter told Al Jazeera. The summit, scheduled for October 23, will have leaders from Africa and Israel discuss ways to enhance co-operation in the fields of technology, development and security. In a letter addressed to African governments and their respective embassies, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad organisation called for the boycott of the summit on the basis that establishing relations with an apartheid state and condoning its actions against the occupied Palestinian people comes in violation of various UN conventions. African countries which fought colonialism for decades and became free after a long suffering should never associate themselves with the only, longest and most brutal colonial project in the world today, the letter reads. In the name of justice and freedom and in the name of the African legacy of long struggle for freedom, we ask your country to disassociate from Israels Apartheid regime. Netanyahu previously pledged to strengthen ties with the continent and described his pledge as a priority at a regional security conference he attended in Liberia in June 2017. I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential present and future. It is a continent on the rise, he said in his address to West African leaders. Historically, African leaders did not have warm relationships with the State of Israel. Following the 1973 October War, sub-Saharan African countries severed ties with Israel. In 2016, Netanyahu became the first Israeli leader to visit sub-Saharan Africa in almost three decades. The organisation, representing the Palestinian diaspora, is also working with civil society groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the ground to pressure participating governments into pulling out from the summit. Salman Abu Sitta, Chairperson of the organisation, told Al Jazeera that these African countries have been hard, determined fighters in the battle against western colonialism. It [the summit] is a very sad regression; it is regrettable that they deny that history and became enemies of their history to become aligned with the very epitome of racism and discrimination that is Israel, he said. Is Togo ready to send ships of slaves from Togo to Israel in annotation of their long history? he added. According to Abu Sitta, the main consequence of a renewed Africa-Israel relationship is losing what is now a solid majority in the UN General Assembly in favour of ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Traditionally, African nations have been supporters of the Palestinian cause when voting on resolutions concerning the right of return, the dismantlement of the Separation Wall, and ending the illegal settlement expansion project. Out of 193 member states, there are 54 African states in the UN. If we lose them [African votes], it is very dangerous, Abu Sitta explained. Israel will have centres of influence in these countries, which will actively increase Israels influence in the UN and in the African continent, he added, pointing out that the countries involved with organising the summit, including Togo, may have private or monetary motives for setting up the summit. Al Jazeera reached out to the summit organisers for comment but received no reply in time for publication. Similarly, Ghada Karmi, an academic and spokesperson for the organisation, told Al Jazeera that the campaign is significant in encouraging a discussion about Israeli apartheid policies and in raising awareness. Israel, Karmi said, is determined to carry out the summit to reverse or abolish the pro-Arab policy of the African states. If the summit were successful, it would be a milestone on the Israeli campaign, she explained. We have to ask what is Israel offering to the African countries it seems to us that it is offering support for dictators, she said, which would aid governments in repressing liberation movements. This [campaign] should be done at the state level, said Karmi, describing the lack of government action as problematic. We have been reaching out to states to condemn this summit, not only African governments. South African human rights activist and political analyst Ayesha Kajee, based in Johannesburg, told Al Jazeera that Israel has been on a mission to strengthen ties with Africa, even to the extent of attempting to gain observer status at the African Union. While these new friendships with Israel might bring certain African countries short-term benefits they should be wary of Israels longer-term agenda, which may ultimately be detrimental to their own national interests, she said. During Netanyahus visit to the continent in 2016, the Israeli government approved a $13mn deal in development packages for African countries. The move was intended to symbolise the start of a closer economic relationship. Speaking to Al Jazeera from the Occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Mustafa Barghouti, the former Palestinian information minister and general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, said that Israel is taking advantage of its technological abilities and of its military and security services to carry out the summit. We started seeing changing trends in the UN with regards to the Palestinian cause, he said. Loss of support could lead to dominance of the Israeli narrative about the Palestinian issue and about the situation today. In addition to utilising support from the United States to establish a base in African countries, Barghouti said that this relationship is a chance for Israel to market their products and surveillance services, especially at a time where the activities of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are proving effective in curbing Israels economic success. Naeem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg, told Al Jazeera that a relationship with Israel would undermine African countries sovereignty. Through marketing their products and services, Israel seeks to penetrate into the security services of these countries, Jeenah explained. It is a problem when a foreign state takes over the security functions of another government they [African governments] become dependent on the Israelis, he said. Despite ongoing efforts to raise awareness, according to Jeenah, some 15 African countries are already in the Israeli camp, and no amount of civil society can reverse that. African countries who oppose Israeli policies have not been vocal, he says, but with more government pressure, countries on the fencecould be influenced. l Farah Najjar is an online producer at Al Jazeera English.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Israel Apartheid  Comments Closed


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