Irish group calls for end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza

9 July 2014

from Gaza Action Ireland for immediate release

ISRAEL’S attacks on Gaza must stop, and international pressure must be put on both the Israeli and Egyptian governments to lift the siege on the Palestinian territory, a group of Irish-based activists said today.

Gaza Action Ireland (GAI), which has close links with human-rights campaigners inside Gaza, said there could be no justification for the bombing that has killed more than 30 people in the territory in the last few days.

Eight children are reported dead, including six killed by a single attack on the home of the Kaware family in the southern-Gaza city of Khan Younis.

“Journalists and others need to understand that when they call these savage bombings an ‘Israeli response’ to Hamas rockets, or suggest some equivalence between the suffering of the two sides, they are playing into the PR strategy of the aggressor, the occupying power, the Israeli state,” Zoe Lawlor, a spokesperson for GAI, said.

Ms Lawlor said the current wave of attacks was started by Israel. “It’s simply another example of Israel carrying out collective punishment of the people of Gaza, contrary to all morality and international law,” she said. “On this occasion, the pretext was the deplorable murder of three young Israelis — but Israel has produced no evidence that Hamas was responsible, and indeed embarked on weeks of arrests, home raids and demolitions throughout the West Bank, again described by Amnesty International as collective punishment.”

GAI’s Mags O’Brien, a trade-union activist with contacts among emergency-service workers in Gaza, said hospitals there were already stretched beyond their capacity.  “Gaza suffers from a shortage of medicine and supplies, because of Israeli restrictions and the Egyptian government’s closure of the tunnels that have been such a vital supply line,”  Ms O’Brien said. “They’re struggling to cope with the casualties of this latest assault.”

Ms Lawlor, Ms O’Brien and other GAI members visited Gaza last year, not long after Israel’s ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ killed more than 150 people.

Ms Lawlor said: “We need Irish politicians, and others, to stand with the people of Palestine. This latest attack is just an escalation of the state of terror that is Israel’s standard operating procedure against the besieged people of Gaza. We also need civil society to support the Palestinian call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) on Israel.”

Gaza

Solidarity with Palestine events this weekend Dublin  Limerick  Cork
Gaza Action Ireland, which grew out of the Irish Ship to Gaza initiative, is a solidarity group that organises civil-society contacts between Ireland and Palestinians in the Gaza strip. It is responsible for the Windows Into Gaza art exhibition that is currently touring Ireland, and it is planning to bring a team of young footballers from Gaza to play here. In addition to artists and sports clubs, it has also forged links with fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.

Open Letter to Neil Young: Tell Me Why You Would Play for Apartheid Israel

Dear Neil Young,

Many of your fans, including our organization DPAI, are concerned about the recent announcement that you plan to perform to a segregated audience in July 2014 in what is an apartheid state:  Israel.  

We sincerely ask that you reconsider your commitment to promoter Shuki Weiss  who serves the interests of the state of Israel, providing select Israeli officials with VIP tickets to concerts he promotes.(1)

Israel truly stands apart on the world stage as an exclusivist, ethnocentric, settler-colonial state, with a powerful military and extensive political reach.  Backed unconditionally and delivered impunity by the USA, Canada and the EU, Israel continues with its slow, gradual genocide against the Palestinian people who are indigenous to the land.  Palestinian land has not only been stolen, but water resources pillaged, olive trees burned, and families separated from each other by a system of military sniper towers, checkpoints, walls and laws preventing family reunification (as you’ll read below). When the indigenous people of the land, the Palestinians, protest the theft of their farms and destruction of their livelihoods, they are met with tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and foul smelling ‘skunk water’ and arbitrary arrest by the Israeli military.

People of conscience, including musicians, are feeling the substantial, persuasive moral weight to act urgently, ethically – and clearly, BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is an effective, powerful means to end Israel’s impunity and make it accountable for its illegal actions.

At this time, we ask you to not cross the Palestinian picket line.  We sincerely hope that soon, you will perform in a state that offers total equality in citizenship to both Palestinians (refugees included) and Jews in Israel.  Sadly, that state does not exist, yet.  

Your support for the Indigenous nationhood of Canada and the environment is commendable.  We hope you will show similar concern for the Indigenous Palestinian people. With regard to Palestinian indigeneity, Palestinian leader, MK Haneen Zoabi had this to say at the Capetown Russell Tribunal hearings in November 2011:

Israel has confiscated my land and has started to define me as the invader of the land. They call us in the Knesset, in the courts, in the media the invaders of the land … when they confiscate our land in the Galilee and the Negev, they said they are going to redeem the land, redeem, I don’t know this word, I ask about it – salvation from me, the indigenous people, there. It is not about stealing the land, it is about stealing my homeland, my relation with my homeland. They are trying to transmit, to rewrite history, they don’t like history, they don’t like to read history, what happened before 1948 and that means we were there, the Palestinian people … they like more to write history. And they say I am a risk, they must reserve the land. So the crime is not really just to steal my land, they are trying to redefine my relation with my homeland. It is not my homeland anymore. I cannot claim it. They rewrite history and I am the invader of the land.”(2)

NY 1

Israel goes to great lengths to cover up its crimes, claiming itself to be a leader in green technology and environmentalism.   Greenwashing is a tactic used by Israel to shift the focus away from shocking facts such as:

  • According to the OECD, Israeli “water quality” is ranked 35 out of 36 countries, better only than the Russian Federation. Israel’s water score “is much lower than the OECD average” according to the OECD, “and suggests Israel still faces difficulties in providing good quality water to its inhabitants.”

  • Similar problems face air quality: Israel is ranked 27 out of 36 for harmful particulate matter in the air and, “Particulate matter and ground-level ozone concentrations frequently exceed limit values for the protection of human health.”

  • Because of Israeli discrimination, Palestinians face severe shortages of water, a report from Amnesty International found. Palestinians are systematically denied water for basic needs, and hundreds of thousands don’t even have running water. Israel appropriates 80 percent of the water from the occupied West Bank’s main aquifer, while allowing Palestinians a mere 20 percent. In the West Bank, 450,000 settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

  • The fact that 95 percent of Gaza’s water is unfit for human consumption due to Israel’s siege and military attacks, and the use of desalination technology as a means to further isolate Gaza.

  • The frequent contamination of Palestinian villages by flows of raw sewage from Israeli settlements;

  • The systematic destruction of trees to facilitate settler takeover of land, such as in Wadi Qana, an area of rare natural beauty that is now also awash in settler sewage.

  • The threat of destruction of the West Bank village of Battir’s ancient irrigation and ecosystem by Israel’s colonization and apartheid wall – which has led to an emergency application to UNESCO to try to save the area.

  • Israel’s further entrenchment in the occupied West Bank under the guise of supposedly environmental companies like Better Place, which build settlement infrastructure. (3)

Here are more stark facts which no doubt Mr. Weiss has not made known to you:

Israel was established in 1948, as an exclusively Jewish state, after over 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes and land. For over 65 years, the Israeli government has used both ‘legal’ and arbitrary force against the indigenous people who still remained in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and who now comprise almost half (5 million) of the population which Israel controls.(4)

 Today, Palestinians are the largest and longest suffering group of refugees in the world. One in three refugees world wide is Palestinian, making up a 7.2 million refugee population worldwide.(5)

Jewish Israeli citizens enjoy systemic, institutionalised privileges such as legal advantage, well funded schools, universal healthcare, modern separate roads and high status in society, with full protection from the Israeli Army.  A full 20% of the population (over 1.2 million) in Israel is comprised of Palestinians who carry an Israeli ID card. These people are subject to “Jim Crow”-style laws that enforce housing restrictions, discrimination, underfunded schools, and restrictive marriage laws. More than 50 Israeli laws discriminate against non-Jews.(6)

Approximately 2.4 million Palestinians live in the Israeli-controlled West Bank.  Within this area, Israel has constructed an intricate matrix of sectors.  Hundreds of Palestinian ghettos are isolated from each other using a system of sniper towers, patrol roads, cement walls, layers of barbed wire, electric fencing and arbitrary and permanent military checkpoints. Manless drones and frequent night raids inflict constant fear on a population where around half are children.  From the International Court of Justice to the Red Cross, the apartheid wall has been deemed illegal. Its disastrous impact is felt on Palestinian farmers, villages, cities, families, schoolchildren, students and the entire people. From Jenin to Bethlehem, through the concrete-split streets of East Jerusalem, the wall has become another element of Israel’s colonization of Palestine, one more link in the apartheid chain.(7)

In Gaza, Israel’s collective punishment of 1.6 million people includes bulldozing once-productive farmland, shooting at fishermen as they try to make a living and bombing buildings that held preschools and universities.  As the borders have been sealed shut, Gaza has been forced to depend on UN schools, and to subsist on what food and medical supplies Israel capriciously decides to let in.

Israel blatantly admits using cultural events to create a false image of itself as a progressive, artistic nation with a Western European flavor (8). Having big name bands from the USA play in Tel Aviv is a part of this larger, duplicitous effort to brand the state. Getting artists known for being true to their consciences and for working in solidarity with oppressed people, artists such as you, would be a real coup for Israel’s branding of itself, and we really hope that you refuse to allow your image to be used thus. Already the state is using your planned performance as propaganda, with the official Israeli Embassies of Canada and the US tweeting about it.

The call to boycott was made in 2005 and enjoys overwhelming support from Palestinian Civil Society.  The boycott is an urgent call to people of conscience to act to hold Israel accountable for how it treats the Palestinian people.  The international community has failed to act, and, in fact, has instead enabled some of Israel’s most violent aggression.

In late 2008 and early 2009, Israel implemented a brutal attack on the civilian population of Gaza.  Over three hundred children were left dead, with a total of 1,400 people killed, from a population which Israel was holding captive under military force.  In November of 2011, Israel launched another sustained attack on Gaza, this time murdering more than 160 people. The people of Gaza are subjected to regular airstrikes and shootings both in the “buffer zone” and at sea, in their own waters.

The cultural boycott really stepped up after the assault on Gaza and then Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla in 2010.  As the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, was changing course and heading away from Israel at high speed, Israeli commandos killed nine volunteers at close-range, execution-style. This murder took place in International waters.  Many highly respected musicians cancelled their concerts in Israel, or became outspoken in favor of the boycott.  

Recently the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to join the academic boycott of apartheid Israel, a move that the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) followed up with a similar declaration of support for BDS, stating: “As the elected council of an international community of Indigenous and allied non-Indigenous scholars, students, and public intellectuals who have studied and resisted the colonization and domination of Indigenous lands via settler state structures throughout the world, we strongly protest the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the legal structures of the Israeli state that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and other Indigenous peoples.”

In 1990, you played at a concert to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s release from South Africa’s apartheid prison system, as thousands of Palestinians, including children, languish in apartheid Israeli jails, we urge you to think about Mandela’s words: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Mr. Young, please respect the boycott, and make it known you will not play in Israel while it is an apartheid state and an oppressed people have called for solidarity and for artists not to cross their picket line.

Respectfully,

DPAI

We are a group, of over 1400 members, representing many nations around the globe, who believe that it is essential for musicians & other artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel. This is essential in order to work towards justice for the Palestinian people under occupation, and also in refugee camps and in the diaspora throughout the world.

Facebook page here:  Neil Young, Tell Me Why You Would Play for Apartheid Israel

NOTES:  

(1) http://pulsemedia.org/2012/12/12/israel-2012-the-question-of-a-nation-what-does-culture-have-to-do-with-politics/#more-37168

(2) http://www.kadaitcha.com/2012/01/09/haneen-zoabis-presentation-at-the-russell-tribunal-cape-town/

(3)  http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/new-green-israel-ads-cnn-greenwash-sewage-occupation-and-apartheid

(4) Current demographic figures show: 1.2 million Palestinians with Israeli ID; 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza; 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank; 5 million Israelis excluding Palestinians

(5)  http://www.al-awda.org/faq-refugees.html

(6)  http://adalah.org/eng/Israeli-Discriminatory-Law-Database

(7)  http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ben-white/did-israeli-apartheid-wall-really-stop-suicide-bombings                            

(8)  http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/about-face-1.170267?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.225%2C2.239%2C

(9)

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/29/native-american-studies-association-boycott-israel

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dictating Resistance, the Irish media war on BDS

Reading the commentary in the Irish media following Dervish’s cancellation of their concerts in Israel, one is struck by the contortions journalists go through to condemn the cultural boycott of the apartheid state. (Some of the mistruths and smears are covered here.)

Two aspects of the narrative really jar with me. The first is the obvious, how come these pundits are so concerned with the perceived collective punishment of Israelis not being able to see artists yet are unmoved about the real and brutal collective punishment that Israel subjects the Palestinians to?

Where is their condemnation when Palestinians are murdered, when their houses are demolished, when their rights are trampled on, when they are subjected to apartheid and occupation? Where is their denunciation of Israel’s war crimes and breaches of international law? Where were their columns when over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners recently went on hunger strike to protest against the barbaric conditions they are held in, many of them without charge?

As Israelis marched through Jerusalem on Sunday chanting  “Death to all Arabs”, were they busy writing articles damning such racism? Were there handwringing pieces about this  from any of the Sunday Independent ‘columnists’? The answer to these questions is, of course, no. The agenda is so firmly skewed towards the oppressor as to almost completely obscure the oppressed and those who are in solidarity with them.

The other point is that the commentary, very strangely, elevates art and artists to a level whereby they are apparently more sensitive than the average human being and are somehow exempt from the same moral code as the rest of us. The erroneous and lazy claim that Dervish, among other artists, were ‘bullied’ into cancelling deprives them of agency and free thought, and in fact is insulting to them.

Is it credible to suggest that raising awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people and one of their chosen tactics in their struggle against apartheid constitutes bullying? Is the premise that presenting this case and asking artists to make a principled decision is intimidation to be taken seriously? Hardly.

I wonder about many of these columnists, did they support the boycott of South Africa? Do they disagree with Mandela and Tutu? There have been many articles and opinion pieces since Dervish cancelled and they have all come from this same angle.

Fintan O’Toole, a respected Irish Times columnist, last week derided the cultural boycott as “a blunt and backward instrument” and wrongly conflates this form of opposition to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians with anti-Semitism, writing: “Boycotts will always be interpreted as an expression of anti-Semitism and as a prelude to worse attacks.” Really? They will always be interpreted as an expression of anti-Semitism? By whom? Millions of people all over the world who boycott Israeli apartheid in some manner are in no way motivated by such base racism, the very claim is a gross insult to the Palestinian BNC which has called for BDS and to all of those who have signed on to support it.

In the previous line O’Toole says: “In the case of South Africa, the idea was that boycotts might induce shame in white South Africans, causing them to question their support for the system. In the case of Israel, Jewish history means that this effect is impossible.”  Are we to understand by this that the history of the Jewish people precludes Israelis from holding up a mirror to their state’s behaviour?  That a boycott campaign will be less effective than it was against South African apartheid because of history? Are Israelis, like artists,  deprived of agency in this bizarre narrative where boycotts are characterised as weapons and real weapons are ignored? And what of the Israelis who work for BDS, those who stand with their Palestinian sisters and brothers in their struggle? Are they ahistorical?

In Ireland, the anti-apartheid struggle is generally held up as a positive and worthy struggle for rights yet this BDS campaign is currently being vilified in the media here. Indeed, O’Toole opens his column by saying that he supported the cultural boycott of South Africa and goes on to state that boycotts can be problematic, but any engagement with the Palestinian BDS call would demonstrate that it is a tactic to be used strategically and flexibly, he makes no reference to it.

In his tribute to anti-apartheid activist Kader Asmal in 2011, O’Toole wrote: “The anti-apartheid cause to which he devoted his life was one of the great moral crusades of the second half of the 20th century. It was concerned with the obscenity of biologically-based power, of the idea that a few tiny genetic quirks entitled one group of people to rule and condemned others to be subservient.”  I agree wholeheartedly with this, as I do with Asmal’s words in the Phoenix magazine supplement “War Crimes in Apartheid Israel” of May 2010: “To have law on our side was to legitimise our struggle in South Africa and begin the long push to delegitimise the apartheid regime. We succeeded and, with Israel, we shall succeed if we have the same determination and pertinacity…It is time to delegitimise this entity that perpetrates nightmarish control over other people.” I believe that anyone honouring Kader Asmal and the anti-apartheid activists should also take the Palestinian BDS campaign seriously.

I cannot understand the cognitive dissonance of supporting the boycott of South African apartheid but railing against the boycott of Israeli apartheid, it is hypocrisy and laziness of thought.

The findings of the Cape Town Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine are never mentioned, I’m sure most who dismiss the connection between the two apartheid states have neither heard of nor read them.

Why do these commentators never listen to Palestinian voices which are mostly absent even from articles prescribing how they should behave?  What would they have Palestinians do to resist apartheid? They condemn physical struggle, they ignore non-violent struggle such as the hunger strikes and demonstrations against the wall, they condemn the cultural boycott.

It seems that all of those who ignore the Palestinians except to censure their modes of resistance ultimately  want them to shut up and accept everything Israel throws at them while waiting for the utterly pointless peace process to get them precisely nowhere.  They won’t and the BDS campaign, among other strands of struggle, will play a part in ending Israeli apartheid and winning justice for the Palestinian people. None of these journalists will be able to say they contributed when that happens.

I’ll end with a quote I read the other day from Frederick Douglass, the anti-slavery activist, that is relevant to all struggle, not least this one. “Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle….If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will….”

BDS apartheid until it ends.

In Turkish:John Michael McDonagh Cancels His Attendance at the Haifa International Film Festival Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali: “Guard” Filminin Yönetmeni Orada Olmayacak…

              Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali: “Guard” Filminin Yönetmeni Orada Olmayacak…

15 Ekim 2011

İsrail’e kültürel boykot için önemli zafer! John Michael McDonagh Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali’nde boy göstermeyecek!

John Michael McDonagh, İrlanda-Filistin Dayanışma Kampanyası’nın (IPSC) Kültürel Boykot Yetkilisi Raymond Deane ile irtibata geçti ve “siyasi durumu göz önüne alarak” Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali’nde filmi “The Guard”ın gösterimine katılmaktan çekildiğini bildirdi.

Filmi “Guard” gösterilecek olmasına karşın böyle zaferler önemli ve İsrail kültürel etkinliklerinde boy göstermenin sanatçılara, müzisyenlere, film yapımcılarına ve daha birçoğuna giderek nasıl çekici gelmediğini gösteriyor. BDS kampanyası sayıca ve güç olarak büyüyor.

Boykot hakkında John Michael McDonagh’a bilgi vermek için çaba gösterildi. “Don’t Play Apartheid Israel” ile birlikte PACBI (İsrail’e Akademik ve Kültürel Boykot İçin Filistin Kampanyası), İrlanda Filistin Dayanışma Kampanyası (IPSC), Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali: Bir Boykot Çağrısı Facebook sayfası ve ilgili insanların diğer çabaları, John Michael McDonagh’ı apartheidin “siyasi durumunun” hiç kimsenin onaylamaması gerektiğine ikna etmeye yardımcı oldu.

[1] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1727 John Michael McDonagh’a festivale katılmamasının istendiği 7 Ekim tarihli mektup

[2] http://www.facebook.com/dontplayapartheidisrael Ayrıca bkz. John Michael McDonagh’a festivale katılmaması için yapılan çağrı için.

[3] http://www.facebook.com/Boycott.Haifa.International.Film.Festival  Bkz. İsrail apartheidini ve John Michael McDonagh’ın Hayfa Uluslararası Film Festivali’ne katılmaması nedenleri açıklayan gönderiler için.

Kaynak:  PACBI http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1732

Filistin İçin İsrail’e Karşı Boykot Girişimi tarafından çevrilmiştir.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,631 other followers

%d bloggers like this: