What Is Behind Israel’s Attempt To Ban Al Jazeera?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to an adviser at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem onAugust 6 [Reuters/Gali Tibbonl]

By Mark LeVine for Aljazeera – The move is particularly odd since Al Jazeera and Israel have long had a symbiotic, if often adversarial, relationship. Despite long-standing and often harsh criticism of the Israeli occupation and its policies, Israel has afforded the channel relatively wide latitude in its coverage. There have been repeated grumblings over the years, and threats to close down its bureaus, but it hasn’t prevented coverage and commentary by Al Jazeera’s staff and contributing writers. Al Jazeera’s offices – like other media organisations – have been located for years in the same complex as the Government Press Office. Showing up for press credentials from the network has never caused any more trouble than I’ve experienced when I requested credentials for US news organisations, for example. In fact, it often felt like the relationship with Al Jazeera was a source of pride for Israeli media and press officials, one that reflected the unique set of circumstances that served each side well. For Israel, Al Jazeera, particularly the original Arab network, provided the government unprecedented opportunities to speak to Arab citizens across the region, beginning in the 1990s – at the height of the Olso peace process.

‘Disappointed’ AIPAC Targets Gillibrand For Removing Her Name From Boycott Bill

Palestinian fishermen hold banners in a protest to demand the boycott of the Israeli agricultural products, during the 10th annual Israeli Apartheid Week

By Robert Herbst for Mondoweiss – At two town halls late last month, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand promised to reconsider her co-sponsorship of Senate Bill 720, the Anti-Israel Boycott Act, after a number of her constituents raised free speech concerns, to rousing applause, seemingly without dissent. At the time, Gillibrand was one of 45 co-sponsors in the Senate and 234 in the House. Since the bill was sponsored by the Israel lobby group AIPAC, it was not surprising that, despite its attack on First Amendment rights, it would receive huge support before it was widely publicized, based solely on its AIPAC pedigree. Gillibrand herself agreed with my characterization that AIPAC was a lobby with a “stranglehold” on Congress (when I approached her after a town hall). So despite her explicit commitment to take another look at the bill, and her expressed concerns about the government of Israel and its Prime Minister’s failure to have a vision for peace, it was reasonable to question whether the junior senator from New York would ultimately find the wherewithal to resist that stranglehold. Well, lo and behold, this past Monday, Gillibrand withdrew her co-sponsorship of the bill.

New Netanyahu “Peace” Plan Is Straight Out Of Apartheid South Africa

Palestinian citizens of Israel march against home demolitions in Arara, a town in the Wadi Ara region that Netanyahu wants transferred to a Palestinian entity, January 2017. Keren Manor ActiveStills

By Ali Abunimah for The Electronic Antifada – Benjamin Netanyahu is proposing that Palestinian citizens of Israel be stripped of their citizenship under a “peace” deal that would place them in a future Palestinian entity. The Israeli prime minister recently told American officials, according to a report in Haaretz, that “Israeli-Arab communities could move under Palestinian control” as part of a final status agreement. “In exchange,” the Tel Aviv newspaper wrote, “Israel would annex some West Bank settlements.” Commonly referred to as “transfer,” this proposal amounts to ethnic cleansing. It is not a new idea, but Netanyahu’s broaching it represents a further step in the Israeli government formally adopting policies once considered taboo even by many Israelis. The area Netanyahu has in mind – at least initially – is Wadi Ara, a region in the north, including the major town of Umm al-Fahm. Some 1.5 million Palestinians have citizenship in Israel. They are the survivors and their descendants of the Nakba, the Zionist ethnic cleansing of the vast majority of the Palestinian population from what became Israel before and after it was established in 1948. The idea that this would be an “exchange” is clearly absurd since none of what Netanyahu proposes to swap is Israel’s to begin with: West Bank settlers live on land stolen from Palestinians in violation of international law.

The BDS Movement Is Justified And Cannot Be Stopped

Map of Palestine National Geographic 1947

By MIko Peled for his website Tear Down The Wall. Miko grew up in Israel in a family that could be called Israeli royalty: his ancestors were fighting for a Jewish State decades before Israel was created. His grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence, a founding document of Israel. His father became a soldier in the war for independence, the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and he was a general in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. He began a military career as a Red Beret in the Israeli Defense Forces but today he is an advocate for Palestinian rights and a critic of Israel. In our interview he explodes myths we commonly hear about Israel explaining it is an apartheid state and not really a true democracy.

Palestine Is Still The Issue

Pro-Palestinian Activists Protest NY Senators' Support Of Israel

By John Pilger for JP – John Pilger first made the film ‘Palestine Is Still The Issue’ in 1977. It told how almost a million Palestinians had been forced off their land in 1948, and again in 1967. Twenty five years later, John Pilger returned to the West Bank of Jordan and Gaza, and to Israel, to ask why the Palestinians, whose right of return was affirmed by the United Nations more than half a century ago, are still caught in a terrible limbo – refugees in their own land, controlled by Israel in the longest military occupation in modern times. “If we are to speak of the great injustice here, nothing has changed,” says Pilger at the start of the film, “What has changed is that the Palestinians have fought back. Stateless and humiliated for so long, they have risen up against Israel’s huge military regime, although they themselves have no army, no tanks, no American planes and gunships or missiles. Some have committed desperate acts of terror, like suicide bombing. But, for Palestinians, the overriding, routine terror, day after day, has been the ruthless control of almost every aspect of their lives, as if they live in an open prison. This film is about the Palestinians and a group of courageous Israelis united in the oldest human struggle, to be free.”

Israeli Soldiers Harass Students On US Campus

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By Charlotte Silver for The Electric Antifada – University of California, Irvine is once again investigating the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine group after a protest of an event featuring Israeli soldiers last month. But members of Students for Justice in Palestine say they are the ones who endured days of harassment and intimidation by Israeli soldiers invited to campus to give a panel discussion about the Israeli army. The SJP students say they were subjected to days of racial and sexual slurs in what they believe was an attempt to provoke a reaction. UC Irvine has been a focal point for Israel advocacy groups seeking to categorize support for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic. Documents obtained by Palestine Legal through a freedom of information request show that over the last year Israel advocacy organizations have consistently pressured the UC Irvine administration to crack down on Palestine activism. They were also instrumental in the school’s adoption of a policy that conflates opposition to Zionism, Israel’s state ideology, with anti-Semitism.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: Reasons To Support BDS

Demonstrators hold up signs during a BDS protest in Melbourne, Australia, in 2010. Wikimedia Commons/Takver (CC-BY-SA)

By Ariella Azoulay for Alternet – The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a way to achieve three things: (1) to expose the mechanisms of dispossession, segregation, and legalized discrimination against Palestinians that are part of the Israeli democratic regime; (2) to publicly and internationally express solidarity with the Palestinians as a people, confronting the Israeli regime’s continuous efforts to fragment them into groups that are governed differentially within and beyond the green line; and (3) to mount pressure capable of impacting daily life for the privileged group of the governed population, i.e., Jewish Israelis, in order to radically alter the conduct of the Israeli regime or transform it altogether. A call for boycott is based on the assumption that sovereign states are actors in an international arena, and hence individuals, groups, institutions, and states can suspend their interactions with particular regimes until the justice of certain demands are recognized and adequately addressed. The Palestinian-led BDS movement thus aims to mobilize the international community to respond to a triple call from within that advocates: full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel…

UK Court: Illegal To Ban BDS Movement Against Israel

‘On 11 June Avigdor Lieberman proudly announced that Israel was planning its greatest expansion of settlement homes since 1992.’ Ramot in the occupied West Bank. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

By Ben Jamal for The Guardian – Two weeks ago I found myself in a sweaty room in the Royal Courts of Justice, packed with fellow Palestine activists, listening to detailed and sometimes arcane legal arguments about pension law. The journey that ended in that courtroom began in September last year when the government announced new guidance intended to prohibit local government pension schemes from pursuing “divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries … other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government”. The key target of these new rules was made clear in the government press releaseabout the decision. This was the government acting to place a ban on boycotting Israel. The regulations were introduced in November 2016 despite a public consultation indicating that 98% of respondents thought this was the wrong thing to do, and a wider public outcry. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which I’m the director, decided to take the government on. We launched a judicial review supported with witness statements from War on Want, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

Another Splendid Little Coup

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By Greg Maybury for Information Clearing House. For those Americans au fait with their country’s fondness for engineering coups, ousting democratically elected leaders, and interfering in the political affairs of other nations – to all intents the perennial bedrock principle of U.S. foreign policy — Iran is a well-documented exemplar. Given the supreme ironies inherent in the political imbroglio in the U.S. attending Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, along with America’s resolve to seek once again regime change in Russia’s ally Iran, it’s timely we revisit this slice of history. Doing so presents us an opportunity to view the so-called ‘Russia-gate’ furore, the Iran regime change ambitions, and the increasingly bloody war in Syria – itself an ally of both Russia and Iran — within a broader, more nuanced historical context. From there we might derive a more informed perspective on the contemporary geopolitical zeitgeist and the hegemonic forces that have fashioned it.

Israel Violating International Law With Arrests Of Children

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By Staff of Addameer – Currently, an estimated 75 Palestinian children from East Jerusalem are being held in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Based on Addameer’s monitoring of 9 recent and current cases of Palestinian children from Jerusalem from the onset of 2017 who were arrested and, as well as exhaustive Addameer statistics and data from several years of monitoring and legal representation in Jerusalem, this factsheet will explore the effects of arrest and house arrest on a child’s education and development. The factsheet relies on information obtained through visit questionnaires, field visits, and court protocols. The trends and data are based on 2015-2016 affidavits taken from Palestinian children from Jerusalem who experienced arrest by Israeli forces and were taken to Beit Alyaho Police Center, Oz police center, Salah Al-Din police station, and Qishleh police center, as well as Al-Moscobiyeh. Interrogation within these centers focused on confessions obtained through coercive methods, including physical violence, in the absence of their parents and attorneys.

Israel Makes Request To U.S. To Dismantle Life Support System For 5 Million Palestinians

ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

By Jonathan Cook for AlterNet – Israeli and US officials are in the process of jointly pre-empting Donald Trump’s supposed “ultimate deal” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They hope to demote the Palestinian issue to a footnote in international diplomacy. The conspiracy – a real one – was much in evidence last week during a visit to the region by Nikki Haley, Washington’s envoy to the United Nations. Her escort was Danny Danon, her Israeli counterpart and a fervent opponent of Palestinian statehood. Danon makes Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu look moderate. He has backed Israel annexing the West Bank and ruling over Palestinians apatheid-style. Haley appears unperturbed. During a meeting with Netanyahu, she told him that the UN was “a bully to Israel”. She has warned the powerful Security Council to focus on Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah, instead of Israel. To protect its tiny ally, Washington is threatening to cut billions in US funding to the world body, plunging it into crisis and jeopardising peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

Students Urge End To US-Israel Police Exchanges

Students gather on campus at California State University, Long Beach in support of a divestment resolution. (Facebook)

By Nora Barrows-Friedman for EI – The student government of California State University, Long Beach passed a resolution earlier this month calling on the administration to pull its investments in companies profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. The vote comes in spite of strong pressure on student senators by the university’s president to reject the resolution. Meanwhile, students in Wisconsin also passed a resolution standing up to the US-based weapons and policing industries that profit from Israel’s human rights violations. In the weeks leading up to the successful vote at Cal State Long Beach, Jane Conoley, the university’s president, echoed Israel lobby claims that the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is to blame for an increase in anti-Semitism. In a letter addressed to the student senators in late April, Conoley claimed that the passage of divestment resolutions “has often been accompanied by increases in anti-Jewish graffiti.” Her letter repeats a common false and anti-Semitic trope used by Israel lobby organizations to stifle debate: that Jews – conflated as a monolith with the state of Israel – are being singled out by Palestinian rights campaigners for special scrutiny.

Israel: Conscientious Objector Imprisoned Again

ANDY CAMPBELL
Anti-fascist protestors and others storm the streets north of City Hall.

By Atalya Ben-Abba for War Resisters League. Hello, I am Atalya Ben-Abba, 19 years old, Jerusalemite. On Feb. 6, 2017 I will declare conscientious objection to serve in the Israeli army, and will be sent to military prison for an unknown amount of time. I’m going with full knowledge and intention to take upon myself the consequences of this act, because I believe that in order to bring safety to all of the people living here we need to change entirely government policy and end the occupation. I grew up in Musrara neighborhood in Jerusalem. When I was little my mom and I would often walk around the Old City, which is close to our home. I enjoyed these tours, everything was so different and exciting, different sweets, dishes and a different language. And then, when I was about six years old the janitor of my school was killed in a terrorist attack. Then I understood we live in war, and that all of us – Jews and Arabs – live in fear.

Israel Treats Prisoners Worse Than Apartheid, Says Robben Island Veteran

Palestinians dress up in Israeli prison uniforms, during a 19 May protest in the occupied West Bank town of Tubas, in support of some 1,300 Palestinians who have been on hunger strike in Israeli jails since 17 April.    Ayman Ameen APA images

By Adri Nieuwh of for Electronic Antifada – On 15 May, many South Africans fasted in solidarity with more than 1,300 Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Israeli prisons to demand their basic rights. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, more than a dozen members of the government, trade union leaders, icons of the liberation struggle, celebrities and others joined the one-day fast, sending a powerful message of support to imprisoned Palestinians. During apartheid, South African political prisoners also used hunger strikes to protest their inhumane conditions. The prisoners on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada and other leaders were held, were forced to work in a lime quarry in all weather with unsuitable clothing, insufficient food and violent prison guards. Mandela and his fellow prisoners launched a protest hunger strike in 1966. Their prison commander felt compelled to address the grievances after only a week, former Robben Island prisoner Sunny Singh recalls. But now, even as the Palestinian mass hunger strike approaches 40 days, many prisoners have been hospitalized, and yet Israeli prison authorities are refusing to negotiate. Instead, Israel has reacted with punitive brutality, including placing leaders in solitary confinement.

Palestinians End Mass Hunger Strike In Israel jails

The leader of hundreds of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, Marwan Barghouti, who has received his first Red Cross visit since the strike began, flashes the victory sign after a court hearing in 2003
The leader of hundreds of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, Marwan Barghouti, who has received his first Red Cross visit since the strike began, flashes the victory sign after a court hearing in 2003 (AFP Photo/TAL COHEN)

By Hossam Ezzedine for AFP. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17 have ended their mass protest after Israel agreed a deal following weeks of refusing to negotiate, sources on both sides said on Saturday. Some 30 of the more than 800 hunger strikers had been hospitalised in recent days, raising fears of an escalation of clashes with Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians hailed the deal as a victory for the hunger strikers after Israeli authorities repeatedly vowed not to negotiate with convicted “terrorists”. Palestinian Authority prisoners’ affair chief Issa Qaraqe said it had come after some 20 hours of talks between Israeli officials and strike leader Marwan Barghouti, a figure revered among Palestinians but reviled by many Israelis. An Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman confirmed the hunger strike was over but said the deal had been reached not with prisoners’ representatives but with the Palestinian Authority and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).