Tag Archives: Apartheid

Chicago students walk out on Israeli apartheid

Students and community members stage simultaneous walkouts of Israeli political events at Northwestern and DePaul Universities

(CHICAGO 11/11/11) — On the evening of Nov. 10, students and community members staged two simultaneous walkouts at events promoting Israel’s narrative of its history and politics. At Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, demonstrators held a silent walkout during a presentation by Gil Hoffman, an Israeli military reservist and journalist. Meanwhile, on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, students and community members used the “People’s Mic” technique – popularized by Occupy Wall Street – to disrupt a presentation sponsored by the organization Stand With Us. Organizers say that they protested because the presentations omitted the disturbing reality of Israel’s repeated violations of international law and countless human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

At DePaul, a group of about thirty concerned individuals “fact checked” an event called “Israel 101,” sponsored by Stand With Us, an organization that seeks to brand Israel in a friendly and positive light. Watch the video. Demonstrators interrupted the presentation, stood up, and announced a statement about Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. According to one of the participants, University of Chicago student Ishan Chakrabarti: “We used a version of the ‘People’s Mic’ technique, recently utilized by the Occupy Wall Street movement. We challenged Israel 101’s propaganda and selective history and spoke truth to power by amplifying our voices.” The “fact check” was followed by a walkout and teach-in.

At Northwestern University, around thirty students and community members protested a presentation entitled “63 Reasons to Like Israel: Why American Jews should be Optimistic about Israel,” featuring Gil Hoffman, a reserve soldier and spokesman for the Israeli military as well as the chief political correspondent/analyst for The Jerusalem Post. Watch the video. Co-sponsors of the event included the Coalition for Accuracy of Middle East Reporting in America and the Zionist Organization of America. The university’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter staged a walkout on Hoffman’s speech, inspired by the example of other student groups around the Midwest, including The University of Michigan, Benedictine University and Wayne State University. Outside, a diverse crowd demonstrated in support of the walkout.

DePaul student Agnieszka Karoluk explained, “At DePaul, we made up about three-quarters of the audience. At Northwestern, they filled a third of the room. We made it obvious that the community at large does not tolerate the promotion of Israel at the expense of Palestinian human rights.” A handful of protesters at both events decided to stay behind to engage in civil debate and discussion.

Organizers say these actions are part of the recent rise of a new global political consciousness about Palestine. This is reflected not only through non-violent protests and walkouts, but also through the growing “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement, which reuses the methods that helped dismantle apartheid in South Africa. For the third year in a row, international solidarity activists non- violently challenged Israel’s six-year blockade of Gaza. These events reflect the success of civil disobedience in achieving concrete political change across the world, from the US civil rights movement to the South African anti-apartheid struggle. Palestinians and their supporters are part of this history.

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Top Secret Israel-South Africa nuclear documents declassified

Check out the highlighted signature from 1975. It’s from Shimon Peres, then Israeli minister of defense. He, along with South African Defense Minister P.W. Botha, signed the document that sealed the nuclear weapons agreement between the countries. The Guardian has a timeline of events leading up to the agreement as well as historic documents.

In this letter, dated 11 November 1974, Peres says Israel and the South African apartheid government share a “common hatred of injustice” and urges a “close identity of aspirations and interests.”

Really? Can Israel’s Zionist leadership be so deluded they believe the meaning of injustice doesn’t apply to them and their oppressive policies? That both countries shared a ‘common hatred’ is clear. However, I believe that hatred extended to the indigenous peoples and the idea that the only way the minority rulers could continue their ‘cozy’ and lucrative colonial enterprises was to dehumanize, oppress and isolate the majority populations in segregated Bantustans.

Thankfully, liberty has come to South Africa, thanks in large part to the boycott, sanctions and divestments movements.

But Israel’s Zionists can’t rest easy. Liberty and self-determination for the Palestinian people are knocking at the gate. The global BDS movement, which began in Palestine, has taken root and is flourishing around the world. Palestinian civil resistance is also growing stronger.

Now, worldwide pressure on Israel to reveal the extent of its nuclear weapons arsenal and to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is another gust of wind already battering Israel’s flimsy grasp on the occupation. A gale force is coming. Israel’s house of cards is tottering.

Kristin Szremski 5/26/2010

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Israelis, Jews join civil protests against occupation; time for Americans to take second look at US support for Israel

By Kristin Szremski

This May marks the passage of 62 years since two major events that together have shaped the course of modern history. On May 15, Jews celebrate the creation of the state of Israel while on that day Palestinians commemorate Al Nakba, or the Catastrophe, which resulted in the deaths of 13,000 Palestinians and the expulsion of nearly one million more at the hands of Zionist Jews.

This year, though, these commemorations are occurring against a surprising backdrop: Increasingly more Israeli and American Jews are joining the growing network of activists protesting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Israeli groups such as Breaking the Silence, soldiers documenting military abuses against Palestinian civilians, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions; as well as American groups like the Jewish Fast for Gaza or Jewish Voice for Peace, to name a few,  protest the Israel’s flagrant violation of international law. Internationally, there are groups like International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

Israeli Jews and Palestinians are cooperating as well. The Arab and Jewish organization Who Profits keeps a tally on companies profiting from the occupation industry, for instance, while Israeli Jews join Palestinian and international activists in peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in West Bank villages such as Ni’iln every week. Recently, Adalah, the Palestinian legal organization advocating for rights for Palestinian residents of Israel, and the Israeli Association for Civil Rights in Israel teamed up in a case before the Israeli Supreme Court.

And these are just a few of the  many collaborative organizations battling the occupation together.

Jews in the United States are increasingly feeling disenfranchised from Israel’s right-wing Likud leadership under Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu or  he Yisrael Beiteinu party, founded by Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Last fall, members of J Street, a progressive American Jewish organization, harshly criticized Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for his refusal to attend its annual conference. Meanwhile, Israel’s right wing Zionists roundly criticized J Street for publishing a poll that found a full 69 percent of respondents backed President Barack Obama’s efforts toward peace, even if it meant disagreeing publicly with Israel.

Moshe Yaroni recently wrote in the online magazine Zeek, supported by the Jewish Forward, that Israel’s vision of democracy is crumbling. “For years, the peace groups in Israel have been warning that occupation cannot co-exist with democracy without one eventually strangling the other.” Yaroni makes the point that Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, coupled with the fervent Zionist ideology, is consuming its own citizens from within.

“Defining a humane Judaism in the 21st century means condemning the brutal military occupation in the West Bank and resisting the ongoing siege of Gaza,” Antony Lowentstein wrote in “Why Aren’t Jews Outraged by Israeli Occupation,” published in Haaretz on July 17, 2009.
These are all compelling reasons for the American public to take a second look at the Middle East.

For more than 60 years, Palestinians have cried out about their dispossession but the world has not been listening. Now, however, the truth is getting harder to ignore because Israeli society is becoming increasingly divided over Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians. Yaroni writes in Zeek: “Israel is moving toward a very frightening future; a future where most Jews will no longer be able to support Israel.”

We need to ask ourselves, if Jews are finding they no longer can support Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestine, how then can the American government continue to lend unconditional support to the tune of more than $3 billion a year in foreign aid?

After 62 years, it is time for a new accounting. It is time to start looking for information about Israel and Palestine outside the mainstream American press. It is time to start calling upon our lawmakers to hold Israel accountable; to insist that Congress withhold aid unless Israel complies with international law and ends the siege and occupation.

It is time finally to stand with the values upon which this great country was founded and to admit that the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness extend to all people – including the illegally occupied people of Palestine.

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University of Arizona medical community asks for divestment

Groups asks university to end contracts with Motorola and Caterpillar

From the DailyWildcat.com:

More than 50 members of the UA and Tucson medical community have signed a letter calling for the UA to end its contracts with the Motorola and Caterpillar corporations because of their alleged roles in health and human rights violations in Palestine and Israel.

The UA and Tucson medical community sent the letter to solicit aid to “expose the alarming business relationships between the University of Arizona and the Caterpillar and Motorola corporations for their roles in perpetuating, and profiting from, the global humanitarian and health crisis in Palestine/Israel.”

The letter targets the $203,000 contract University of Arizona Police Department has with Motorola to provide radio and communications equipment since 1999 and the UA’s 2004 contract with Caterpillar to provide software for the College of Engineering. Both of these contracts remain active today.

Hannah Hafter is a UA public health and Mexican-American studies graduate student who signed the letter. Hafter expressed her belief that divestment is an effective means of protest.

“When it comes to divestment, though, we aren’t talking about or asking the university to talk a stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict overall,” Hafter said. “We are looking at two specific companies whose technology is used to commit war crimes against innocent civilians, and when they profit from it then it benefits us. Those of us supporting divestment here actually come from a whole range of views about Israel and Palestine but this is something we all agree on.”

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The Real Sign of the Beast – 729

We’re all conditioned – by way of Hollywood horror flicks – that the sign of  ‘The Beast’ is 666. That diabolical number, taken from the Biblical book of Revelations, denotes the Anti-Christ. In contemporary lore, a la movies and pulp fiction, 666 represents Satan in all his nefarious manifestations.

The best thing about a scary movie, is that after a nights sleeping with a night light, everything returns to normal. Rosemary’s baby and Damian float back to the recesses of our minds. No harm done.

However, there is a number that we do need to fear – 729– the digits on a product’s barcode that signify the product is from Israel.  How many times does this number insidiously make its way into our supermarkets and department stores, sitting innocently enough on a shelve until unaware shoppers pick them up and plop them into their baskets? They may read the nutrition label while just on the other side, this code- nefarious in its own right – sits in plain view.

Buying products from Israel supports the occupation of Palestine and the numerous human rights abuses inherent in the racist, apartheid system. If you want to support civil, nonviolent protest, you MUST support Palestinians’ call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

I admit that at first I felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of products on the boycott list. Now I know I only have to look at the barcode. It’s as easy as that. The more we refuse to purchase Israeli products, the weaker that beastly sign 729 will become. The greater the BDS movement gets around the world, the greater the chance Israel’s apartheid system will end. It’s easy in theory and will become easier in practice as BDS spreads.

Here’s what the Global BDS Movement has to say about it:

Individual consumers can show their opposition to Israel’s project by participating in a consumer boycott of Israeli goods and services. A consumer boycott works in two ways: firstly by generating bad publicity for the offender and secondly by applying economic pressure for change.

Raise awareness among consumers about the consequences of buying Israeli goods and services. Pressurise supermarkets and shops into removing goods with barcode 729 – denoting Israeli origin – from their shelves. Encourage companies who make use of Israeli technology and components to find alternatives and join the boycott. Focus the attention of the world on Israeli occupation and apartheid and expose those who bankroll the Israeli regime; and to foster an environment in which it is unacceptable to promote Israeli policies.

I urge you to go to BDSmovement.net and learn everything you can about the consumer boycott of Israeli goods. Then go to WhoProfits.org to learn about the companies and organizations that benefit from the occupation.

Forgoing some products – even if they happen to be among our favorites like Clinque cosmetics are for me – it is a very small price to pay to rid the world of the Beast.

~ Kristin Szremski 5/13/2010

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The country of refugees is no refuge for others

Israel is a country comprised of refugees.  And Jews around the world are given instant citizenship if they wish to relocate there.

In another ironic twist that shows Zionists’ true color – and the racist nature of the Jewish State of Israel – refugees from war-torn countries – especially Sudan and Eritrea – are not welcome. In fact, they are so unwelcome, Israeli officials are considering a bill that would annul Israel’s adherence to and compliance with the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Israel has an abysmal record when it comes to accepting refugees.

The Knesset’s 1950 Law of Return grants every Jew worldwide the right to live in Israel as a citizen. Yet no refugee law exists, despite Israel being a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention. Instead, unpublished Ministry of Interior procedures and secret inter-ministerial determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.

As a result, Israel has the lowest percent of requests granted (for temporary, not permanent status) compared to western states – 1% in 2005, under 0.5% in 2006, and in 2007, 350 refugees got temporary protection, 805 others were denied, and 863 were under review, after which most were rejected.

~ Stephen Lendman, Palestine Chronicle, April 15, 2010

Being called “one of the most dangerous bills ever presented in the Knesset,” the Infiltration Prevention Law would make it legal to jail refugees who had never committed a crime, deport refugees back to their home countries despite the risk of death or torture, and make it illegal for social service agencies to provide aid to refugees. Even offering a single glass of water could become illegal, according to a report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

Main Aspects of the Bill
• Every “infiltrator” may be imprisoned for up to five years (Article 2)
• An “infiltrator” who is a citizen of an enemy country (including residents of Darfur, which
is in Sudan) may be imprisoned for up to seven years (Article 3)
• An “infiltrator” carrying a weapon, including a knife, may be jailed for up to 20 years
(Article 4)
• Anyone assisting those who violated the Infiltration Prevention Law in order to ease their
stay in Israel may face the same penalties as those who broke the law (Article 5)
• Officers along the border may deport “infiltrators” back to Egypt, without giving them the
opportunity to file for asylum (Article 11)
• An “infiltrator” will be detained for an unlimited period of time, even if there is no practical
possibility of deporting him or her from Israel. “Infiltrators” may not be released from
detention if any hostile activity takes place in his or her country or place of residence
(Darfur, for example) (Article 15)
• An “infiltrator” may be detained for up to two weeks before being brought to court (Article
20)

Again, all this is being debated under the blind eye of the global community. What other supposedly developed country would be allowed to debate – and most likely deploy – such racist and inhumane policies?

If the Bill is Passed:

• Israel will shake off all its obligations based on the UN Refugee Convention, a conventionthat Israel initiated and helped formulate in 1951, as a lesson of the Holocaust.
• The immediate deportation of anyone who enters Israel illegally, including refugees ofgenocide and their children, will be authorized.
• All refugees from Sudan (including those from Darfur) may be imprisoned for at least seven years, because they are citizens of an “enemy country.”
• Assisting refugees will become a criminal activity. Any activity that assists the “infiltrator,” including medical and legal assistance, housing, giving food or a glass of water – could become a criminal act punishable by a prison sentence.
• Refugees could be subject to arbitrary and extended administrative detention, without the appropriate judicial proceedings or judicial review.
• Children could be detained for an unlimited period of time. The law makes no mention of this group being particularly vulnerable.

According to statistics Israel has supplied to the United Nations, more than 90 percent of asylum seekers are indeed refugees. But officials tell the public a different story, according to the civil right association’s report. In fact, Yaakov Ganot, the former head of Israel’s Immigration Authority told Haaretz newspaper on June 21, 2009 that “99.9 percent” of those seeking asylum aren’t really refugees, they’re migrant workers.

Considering that the majority of asylum seekers comes from Eritrea and Sudan – including those seeking to escape genocide in Dafur – and so meets the UN requirements for refugee status, it’s ‘odd’ that Israel would classify them as migrant workers. They could be doing this for only one purpose: To absolve the state from any moral or internationally legal obligations to care for them. After all people from Africa don’t meet the pure race standard Israel has set for itself. To further keep Africans out of the country, Israel is constructing a wall on its border with Egypt.

Note: The reports The Infiltration Prevent Bill – Lies and Reality and The Principle of Non-Refoulement Of a Person to a Place in Which He Is Expected to Suffer Danger to Life, Liberty, Persecution or Torture can be found on Zatar and Spinah’s Reports page.

~ Kristin Szremski 5/10/2010

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As non-violent resistance grows, heroes are being made

Haaretz’ Bradley Burston writes a passionate column honoring the brave men and women, children and elders, who, against all odds and in the face of continued Israeli violence, stand shoulder to shoulder armed with nothing more than the proud Palestinian flag.

God bless the Palestinian who, armed with nothing more than courage, plants a flag.

From planting the flags in the no-man’s buffer zones in Gaza to the unarmed demonstrators taking to the streets every week in the West Bank to protest the inhumanity of the Apartheid Wall and to the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement initiated in Palestine, non-violent resistance is growing. And it’s becoming stronger, mighty in its silence.

God bless this new armed struggle. In acts of great bravery, there is great hope. In acts of non-violent resistance, there is unlimited might.

In June, on behalf of American Muslims for Palestine, I will be participating in the Allied Media Conference, in a session to teach youth how to use alternative media to bring the Palestinian narrative to the masses.  Introducing Americans to Palestinians, putting a human face on the most generous of peoples, is but one avenue to fight Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Because once Americans know the true score I know they will no  longer permit their tax dollars to be used to oppress and kill an entire nation  of people. Not even the powerful Israeli lobby in this country will be able to withstand the grassroots groundswell that is beginning for foment.

At the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, I will be presenting alongside someone from the Ann Arbor Palestinian Film Festival, God-willing. The media conference will be taking place right before the U.S. Social Forum, which will attract nearly 20,000 social activists from all walks of life and all causes. Both the media conference and the social forum have strong Palestinian tracks this year. In addition, AMP will be hosting representatives from Students for Justice in Palestine from campuses all across the country in attempts to help them create a national organization. There is strength in unification.

And we’re just a small corner of the world. Similar events and efforts are taking place around the globe. There is an energy and vitality to the coming together of diverse groups  representing Muslims, Jews, Christians, Unitarians, Anarchists, gays and lesbians, and many others concerned with social justice. Anti-Apartheid Palestine is the new South Africa.

The rallying cry started in Palestine with the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement and the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, to the Palestinian  Students Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, to the West Bank protesters against the Wall and the Gazans risking their lives to plant flags in the face of Israeli violence.

And that brings me back to Bradley Burston’s column in Haaretz. Such impassioned support should not go unnoticed or unheralded. He most certainly will receive harsh criticism for his words. I laud him for making the grand gesture to support Palestinian non-violent resistance. We, outside of Palestine, must do our part to support and strengthen the efforts of our oppressed and besieged brothers and sisters.

God bless the villager, the schoolchild, the mother, the hero, armed with nothing more than a flag. Stand fast. No rocks. You will change every soldier you face. You will change history. You will be the end of this occupation. You will give all of us, life.

The movement is growing. The clock is ticking. Plant a flag in your part of the world and call for an end to the occupation.

~ Kristin Szremski 05/09/2010

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