Arab-Israeli Conflict

Why No One Ignores The Boycott Israel Movement Anymore

By Beenish Ahmed

CREDIT: AP
CREDIT: AP

For ten years, pro-Palestine activists have attempted to push back at Israel’s expansion into the West Bank by taking a stand against the companies doing business there. The popularity of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement — or BDS — reached new heights last year with the 50-day long conflict between Israel and the militant Palestinian political organization, Hamas. As evidenced by a Congressional hearing on the topic last month, many on either side of the debate have their reservations about the boycott effort’s ethics and efficacy.

BDS, which bills itself as “a truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid,” began in July 2005 when nearly 30 Palestinian civil society organizations issued a call to action to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. In the intervening decade, the effort has grown into a real threat to the Israeli economy since it started a decade ago. Some have even described BDS as “an existential threat to the Jewish state.”

Drawing its strategy in large part from the Anti-Apartheid Movement, BDS’ stated aims are to pressure Israel into ceding to three demands: the end of occupation of Palestinian territories according to the 1967 borders, equal treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and, most controversially, the right of return for Palestinian refugees as per the United Nations’ Resolution 194.

Even if those demands are unlikely to be met anytime soon, the boycotts and protests have forced Israeli officials and business owners to take BDS seriously.

While it’s difficult to measure the movement’s economic impact given competing claims on investments and the many variables that impact a company’s earnings, the threat BDS poses is one Israeli officials are not taking lightly. Not least because of the support that several European countries have thrown behind the movement.

Twelve European Union countries warned their citizens against working with or investing in companies operating in Israeli settlements calling them “illegal under international law.” In April, 16 European foreign ministers signed a letter urging European Union officials to mark products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be labeled differently from those made in Israel.

White House: Israel faces estrangement from allies if settlement building proceeds

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The Obama administration sharply criticized Israel on Wednesday, just hours after President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that it will face international condemnation “from even its closest allies” if it proceeds with a massive new housing project in East Jerusalem.

The Obama administration sharply criticized Israel on Wednesday, just hours after President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that it will face international condemnation “from even its closest allies” if it proceeds with a massive new housing project in East Jerusalem.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States is “deeply concerned” about the proposal to build more than 2,600 housing units in Givat Hamatos, or Airplane Hill, in East Jerusalem. The settlement would be built in an area the Palestinians envision as part of their future state, making it more difficult to realize Palestinian aspirations of East Jerusalem as their capital.

The housing development has been in planning for years but was on hold until last week, when the government ran a public notice that allows it to accept tenders and begin construction. The notice drew no attention, however, until the Israeli advocacy group Peace Now released a statement about it shortly before Obama and Netanyahu met.

Israel Claims Nearly 1,000 Acres of West Bank Land Near Bethlehem

Residents of a Jewish settlement known as Gvaot near Bethlehem, where Israel laid claim to nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land. Credit Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel’s seizure of Palestinian lands constitutes a war crime, and it also defies United Nations resolution 194, which has been passed by the United Nations General Assembly in every year since 1949.

Israelis and Palestinians both understand this action to be in retaliation for the random murders of three Israeli teenagers. The Israelis used these murders as a pretext for rounding up and imprisoning hundreds of Hamas members, even though they knew that Hamas was in no way responsible for these murders, a fact that Israeli authorities subsequently concealed and lied about to the world media.

Through its incendiary rhetoric, the Israeli government further incited the revenge killing of an innocent Palestinian youth by Jewish settlers; he was burned to death. In angry response to the mass arrests, and the monstrous slaying of a Palestinian youth, Palestinians in Gaza began firing rockets into Israel. The justification for the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza can thus be seen as having been orchestrated by the State of Israel itself, through its own incitements, and on the basis of facts that it knew to be untrue.

The Meaning of Mohamed Abu Khdeir’s Murder

By Raja Shehadeh

Autopsy Suggests Palestinian Teenager Was Burned to Death After Abduction

Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir’s father, center, greeted men who paid their condolences on Saturday. Credit Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Where Settler Terrorism Comes From

Following a series of violent incidents involving settler and pro-settler Jewish Israeli extremists, including the attempted lynching of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem, many Israelis expressed concern about the rise in violent hatred within their society and wondered where it was coming from. Several incidents over the weekend demonstrated that this trend is only intensifying and clearly pointed to why.

For the answer, Israelis need look no further than across the Green Line: settler terror is an inevitable consequence of the occupation and the myriad policies of the Israeli state that enable this extremism.

As they have for numerous years, extremist settlers are again violently disrupting the Palestinian olive-picking season, which is now underway. Settlers have been attacking Palestinians on their way to pick olives and destroying trees and orchards. Palestinians complain that the settlers are operating with impunity under the watchful eyes of Israeli authorities who do little to restrain—and even less to arrest or prosecute—them

Tales from Gaza: What is life really like in the world’s largest outdoor prison?

800px-Gaza_Beach
Gaza Beach, July 2006

With its sandy beaches and sumptuous seafood, it could be a holiday resort. But life in Gaza, post-Israeli sanctions and with 50 per cent unemployment, has never been more difficult. Alistair Dawber meets the people trying to survive on the Palestinian coast.

The guide books warn that it’s very unstable and that tourists shouldn’t go there; the Foreign Office tells Brits that there’s a high threat from terrorism – don’t visit any part of the territory, it says, and if you do, there is no ‘our man’ there to help you out.

In truth, it is pretty difficult to get into Gaza anyway. Unless you are a journalist or work for an NGO, the likelihood is that you will get stopped at Israel’s airport-terminal-like border post at Erez, which governs who is allowed to enter the Palestinian territory and, more importantly in Israeli eyes, who is allowed out.

But once you do get permission to go to Gaza, you realise that it is not like anywhere else. After getting the necessary stamps in your passport, you take a long walk through an 800-metre or so long cage, overlooked by Israeli army gun posts and balloons fixed with cameras that keep an eye over what’s going on. Locals call it “the world’s biggest prison”, and it’s not difficult to understand why.

You eventually arrive at the first of two checkpoints, controlled by the Palestinian Authority and the moderate Fatah faction. Fatah doesn’t run Gaza, but since Hamas, which is in charge, does not recognise Israel, it will not inform the Israelis on their side of the border that you are coming back.

To think that Gaza City (the Palestinians refer to both the city and the 10km x 40km territory by the same name) is just a few kilometres from modern-day Israel is remarkable. It is like plenty of other Arab towns, just poorer, and after November’s eight-day war between Hamas and Israel, many buildings in the city centre lie in ruins, like collapsed wedding cakes, after being hit by missiles.

Gaza is about 5,000 years old and one of the world’s oldest cities. In that time it has been both a thriving port and, as it is today, a sprawling mess of refugee camps and poverty. According to the United Nations, 1.5 million people call it home, making Gaza one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Of the 1.5 million inhabitants, 1.1 million are refugees; those who lived in what is now Israel before 1948 refuse to give up the belief that one day they’ll return to their former homes.

A visual history of Palestinian refugees

Displaced by the tumult in Israel and its environs, most Palestinians have lived as refugees for the last 65 years

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West Bank, 1993. Palestinians hand in numbered tickets for emergency ration cards from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. A 1993 U.N. report noted that overpopulation, unemployment and scarcity of water contributed to the worsening economic plight of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images

 

Palestinian in Kafkaesque battle over family’s hotel

Borders change, Israeli officials deny responsibility and confiscate and re-confiscate the property that Ali Ayad hasn’t been allowed to set foot on since 2004.

For all of his 59 years, Ali Ayad’s life has revolved around the 1-acre plot overlooking Jerusalem that is home to what used to be the Cliff Hotel. (Edmund Sanders / Los Angeles Times / August 27, 2013)

ABU DIS, West Bank — The year Ali Ayad was born, his father broke ground on a majestic home perched on a bluff overlooking Jerusalem, with views of the Dead Sea in one direction and the golden Dome of the Rock in the other.

For all of his 59 years, Ayad’s life has revolved around the 1-acre plot. He played under the olive trees as a boy and became manager after the home was converted into the Cliff Hotel.

He met his Norwegian wife from behind the reception desk, married her in the dining room and raised two daughters amid the daily bustle of visiting tourists and diplomats.

But the idyllic life turned into what he describes as a Kafkaesque nightmare a decade ago after Israel seized control of the hotel. Using a combination of military orders and a controversial absentee-owner law, the government kicked him off the property, banned him from returning and then confiscated it as abandoned.

Israel informed Ayad, who has always been identified by Israel as a West Bank resident, that his former home was inside the Jerusalem city limits, even though for decades the municipality refused to provide public services because it said the property was in the West Bank town of Abu Dis.

Palestinian children ‘abused’ in Israeli jail

Ramallah, occupied Palestinian territories – A dirty mattress fills up a space barely two metres long and one metre wide. A suffocating stench emanating from the toilet hovers over the windowless room, and a light turned on 24/7 means sleep is a distant dream. This is the infamous Cell 36 in Al Jalameh Prison in Israel. It’s one of the cells that many Palestinian children have either heard of or, worse, been inside when placed in solitary confinement.

The children imprisoned here are most often taken from their homes between midnight and 5am. Most don’t even see it coming. In one case, in Beit Ummar near Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers detained a Palestinian boy after reportedly taking some of the house’s doors off their hinges. Most of the children detained live close to “friction points”, areas close to Israeli settlements, roads used by settlers or near the separation wall. And their offence is almost always throwing stones at settlers or troops.

These vivid details emerged recently in a report based on the testimonies of more than 300 Palestinian children, which were collected over four years. The study by Defence for Children International, Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children Held in Military Detention highlights a pattern of abuse towards children detained under the Israeli military court system. In the past 11 years, DCI estimates that around 7,500 children, some as young as 12, have been detained, interrogated and imprisoned within this system. This is about 500-700 children per year, or nearly two children every day.

No justice for Rachel Corrie

American peace activist Rachel Corrie (left) knew that joining the people of Rafah was dangerous and she wrote to her family that she was often scared [GALLO/GETTY]

Twenty-three-year-old Rachel Corrie travelled to Gaza at the height of the second intifada intending to initiate a sister city project between Olympia, Washington, her home town, and Rafah as part of her senior-year project at Evergreen College. After a two-day seminar in the offices of the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank, she continued on to Rafah to join ISM members, who were demonstrating against the Israeli military’s massive demolitions of houses on the Egyptian border. Less than two months after her arrival, on March 16, 2003, Corrie was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9R Israeli military bulldozer.

3 thoughts on “Arab-Israeli Conflict”

  1. In response to:
    Palestinian in Kafkaesque battle over family’s hotel – latimes.com

    The notice puzzled the family because the hotel had been confiscated in 2003 under the 1950 Absentee Property law, which was originally used to seize property owned by Palestinian refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 war after Israel’s creation.

    “How can the government confiscate something that it has already confiscated?” Ayad asked.

    The great thing about being self-appointed to be in charge of making all of the rules is that all manner of criminal behaviors can be legally justified; it’s simply a matter of having the proper papers…

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    1. Well we’ve all been given the “run around” at some time or another, but this is a low thing to do to a family business. Not very good at winning hearts and minds, living side by side in peace, or respecting agreements.

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      1. It’s part of a familiar pattern. Probably a good analogy to the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government is how African-Americans were treated by the establishment in the South prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Even as Israeli citizens, Palestinians are understood to have a second class status in society, and there are different standards for their treatment. Israel is a democracy in the same sense as the old Jim Crow South.

        Now, invariably, when we start talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict someone trots out the “anti-Semitism” charge, which only serves to stifle discussion. As with discussions around issues of racism, the Arab-Israeli conflict makes most people uncomfortable. Both are important issues that need to be talked about, even if we have to get outside our comfort zones.

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