Here are some messages from and about the Middle East we want to share: testimonies from the civilian front line, Arab news updates and links for background, action and protest.

the page below brings posts from January 14 till March 4, 2009
most recent posts are here

follow these links for previous posts:
December 27, 2008 - January 13, 2009
January 2008 - December 2008
October 2006 - December 2007
Mid August till end of September 2006
August 2006 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 / 3 / 1
July 2006 31 / 30 / 29 / 28 / 27 / 26 / 25 / 23 / 22 / 21 / 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16 / 15 / 11 / 8 / 6 / 5

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From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Wednesday, march 4, 2009 04:22:20
Subject: Israel Boycott Movement Gains Momentum (IPS)

Excellent report that summarizes some of the most significant developments in BDS around the world (with slight inaccuracies!).


Israel Boycott Movement Gains Momentum

Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH, March 3, 2009 (IPS) - "Standing United with the People of Gaza" is the theme of this week's Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), which kicked off in Toronto and another 39 cities across the globe Sunday.

A movement to boycott Israeli goods, culture and academic institutions is gaining momentum as Geneva prepares to host the UN's Anti-Racism Conference, Durban 2 next month amidst swirling controversy.

Both Canada and the U.S. are boycotting the Durban 2 conference in protest over what they perceive as a strongly anti-Israel agenda.

The first UN Anti-Racism conference, held in the South African city Durban in 2001, saw the Israeli and U.S. delegates storm out of the conference, accusing other delegates of focusing too strongly on Israel.

U.S. and Canadian support might have offered some comfort for Israel. However, international criticism of Israel's three-week bloody offensive into Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded, most of them civilian, has breathed fresh life into a Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The BDS campaign followed a 2005 appeal from over 170 Palestinian civil society groups to launch a divestment campaign "as a way of bringing non- violent pressure to bear on the state of Israel to end its violations of international law."

In the wake of the BDS campaign, critics of Israel have lashed out at what they see as parallels between South Africa's former apartheid system and Israeli racism.

They point to Israel's discriminatory treatment of ethnic Palestinians within Israel who hold Israeli passports, and the extensive human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied territories by Israeli security forces.

During the apartheid era, ties between Israel and South Africa were extremely strong, with the Jewish state helping to train South Africa's security forces as well as supplying the regime in Pretoria with weapons.

Meanwhile, Toronto, where the Israel Apartheid Week movement was born, will hold forums, film shows, cultural events and street protests to mark IAW week. One of the guest speakers is former South African intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils.

Kasrils is no stranger to controversy. His parents fled from Tzarist Russian pogroms carried out against Jews, and immigrated to South Africa at the beginning of the last century.

During white rule, as a member of the African National Congress (ANC), working both in exile and underground in South Africa, he was reviled by many white South Africans as a "terrorist".

He has also been labelled a self-hating Jew by many Israelis and South African Jews due to the strong stand he and the ANC have taken against Israel's policies.

Meanwhile, in New York, prominent IAW activist Nir Harel, a member of Israel's Anarchists Against the Wall, will also be courting controversy. His group regularly protests against Israel's separation barrier, which divides Israel proper from the Palestinian West Bank.

The barrier deviates significantly from the Green Line, the internationally recognised border, into Palestinian territory where it has swallowed huge amounts of land, dispossessing farmers from their agricultural crops.

Another Israeli activist, Matan Cohen, has been central in the first U.S. college implementing a divestment campaign against Israel. Hampshire College in Massachusetts called for divestment from over 200 companies that the college says is responsible for violating its socially responsible investment policies in Israel.

The companies which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza include Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex.

A Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) petition for divestment was supported by more than 800 students, professors, and alumni at the college, that has only 1,350 students.

Hampshire college may be small but it has been big in social activism. It was also the first U.S. educational institution to divest from South Africa, ten years before other universities and colleges followed suit.

U.S. campus activism is spreading. The University of Rochester in New York and members of the community are also involved in boycott activities.

Students from Macalester College, a liberal arts college located in St. Paul, Minnesota, occupied the Minnesota Trade Office in January and then picketed there Feb. 6, demanding that the state end all trade with Israel. New York University students too began a divestment campaign.

Professors and university employees in Quebec, Canada, endorsed the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees' call to boycott Israel.

SJP's actions at Hampshire College follow similar moves by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in the UK.

In London, students held sit-ins at Goldsmith University and the London School of Economics, among other institutions. Similar protests have spread throughout the U.K., with some winning concessions from university officials.

At Manchester University, about a thousand students joined a campaign equating Israel with apartheid-era South Africa, and called on the administration and student union to boycott Israeli companies and support Gaza and the BDS movement.

In Australia the University of Western Sydney's Student Association recently joined the international BDS campaign. International trade union support for political action against Israel has been seen from Spain to South Africa.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, under directive of the Council of South African Trade Unions, refused recently to unload an Israeli ship which docked in Durban, despite threats and pressure from both management and the Israeli lobby.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, with 600,000 members in 55 unions, is preparing to start a boycott of Israeli goods.

Meanwhile, the biggest trade union in Canada's Ontario province, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), was forced under pressure to moderate its call for a boycott of all academic institutions in Israel. Instead it called for a boycott of Israeli institutions engaged in research which aided the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). (END/2009)

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Thursday, february 12, 2009 18:50:18
Subject: CIVA (Brussels) postpones Israel exhibit (for wrong reasons!) -YNet

Dear friends in Belgium,

Can anything be done to cancel this shameful exhibit altogther?

Thanks for your consideration and support ...


Brussels: Israeli exhibit postponed following Gaza op
By Eli Senyor

An exhibit titled `The White City Tel Aviv`, which was set to open in Brussels next week, has been postponed by the Belgian organizers in response to IDF`s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The hosts – the board of directors of the International Centre for Urbanism, Architecture and Landscape (CIVA) - informed the Tel Aviv Municipality three days ago of their decision to postpone the exhibit due to their belief that it would be `better appreciated at a different time.`

`We received protests that were based on the claims that Israeli culture should be boycotted until the Israeli government changes its policy,` the board said in a letter. On the other hand, the letter continued, there were those who demanded that the exhibition be held in order to portray Israel`s history and image.

`We heard these stances and are convinced that both are valid, but we`ve decided to prevent any kind of debate on the objective of holding this exhibit,` the letter stated.

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Tuesday, february 10, 2009 08:36:30
Subject: Students are revolting: The spirit of '68 is reawakening (Independent)

Students are revolting: The spirit of '68 is reawakening

Campus sit-ins began as a response to the Gaza attacks, but unrest is already spilling over to other issues. Emily Dugan reports

The Independent

Sunday, 8 February 2009

They are the iPod generation of students: politically apathetic, absorbed by selfish consumerism, dedicated to a few years of hedonism before they land a lucrative job in the City. Not any more. A seismic change is taking place in British universities.

Around the UK, thousands of students have occupied lecture theatres, offices and other buildings at more than 20 universities in sit-down protests. It seems that the spirit of 1968 has returned to the campus.

While it was the situation in Gaza that triggered this mass protest, the beginnings of political enthusiasm have already spread to other issues.

John Rose, one of the original London School of Economics (LSE) students to mount the barricades alongside Tariq Ali in 1968, spent last week giving lectures on the situation in Gaza at 12 of the occupations.

"This is something different to anything we've seen for a long time," he said. "There is genuine fury at what Israel did.

"I think it's highly likely that this year will see more student action. What's interesting is the nervousness of vice chancellors and their willingness to concede demands; it indicates this is something that could well turn into [another] '68."

Beginning with a 24-hour occupation at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on 13 January, the sit-ins spread across the country. Now occupations have been held at the LSE, Essex, King's College London, Birmingham, Sussex, Warwick, Manchester Metropolitan, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge, Sheffield Hallam, Bradford, Nottingham, Queen Mary, Manchester, Strathclyde, Newcastle, Kingston, Goldsmiths and Glasgow.

Among the demands of students are disinvestment in the arms trade; the promise to provide scholarships for Palestinian students; a pledge to send books and unused computers to Palestine; and to condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Technology has set these actions apart from those of previous generations, allowing a national momentum to grow with incredible speed. Through the linking up of internet blogs, news of successes spread quickly and protests grew nationwide.

Just three weeks after the first sit-in at SOAS, students gathered yesterday at Birkbeck College to draw up a national strategy. The meeting featured speeches from leaders in the Stop the War movement, such as Tony Benn, George Galloway MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP. There has also been an Early Day Motion tabled in Parliament in support of campus activism.

At the end of the month students from across the country will gather for a national demonstration calling for the abolition of tuition fees, an event that organisers say has rocketed in size following the success of the occupations over Gaza.

Vice chancellors and principals have been brought to the negotiating table and – in the majority of universities – bowed to at least one of the demands. The students' success means that now there is a new round of protests. On Wednesday two new occupations began at Strathclyde and Manchester universities, and on Friday night students at the University of Glasgow also launched a sit-in.

Emily Dreyfus, a 21-year-old political activist in her third year of reading classics at Oxford, was one of around 80 students to occupy the historic Bodleian library building in the city and demand that the university issue a statement condemning the Gaza attacks and disinvest from the arms trade. She said: "I found Oxford politically very dead when I arrived, but it's completely different now. There seem to be more and more people talking about politics, which is so exciting. It's really been aided by the communication tools we've got, things like Facebook."

Wes Streeting, the president of the National Union of Students, said: "What we've seen over the Gaza issue is a resurgence of a particular type of protest: the occupation. It's a long time since we've seen student occupations on such a scale. It's about time we got the student movement going again and had an impact."

Establishments that have not previously been known for their activism have also become involved. Fran Legg was one of several students to set up the first Stop the War Coalition at Queen Mary, a research-focused university in London, a month ago. Now they are inundated with interest.

"Action on this scale among students hasn't been seen since the Sixties and Seventies," she said.

"This is going to go down in history as a new round of student mobilisation and it will set a precedent. Gaza is the main issue at the moment, but we're looking beyond the occupation; we're viewing it as a springboard for other protests and to set up a committee to make sure the university only invests ethically."

As the first generation of students to pay substantial direct fees to universities, their negotiating power has also been strengthened. Their concern over their college's investments have been given new legitimacy because it is partly their money.

Ms Legg said: "For the first time, you've got students getting principals to the negotiation table, saying they don't want their tuition fees funding war. Everybody wants to know where their money is going."

The activist: 'Students will see they can take action'

Katan Alder, 22, student leader speaking from the occupation at Manchester University

"We've been occupying the university since Wednesday. More than 500 people came to an emergency Students' Union meeting and we took the vice chancellor's administration block that afternoon. Israel's assault on Gaza made people angry, and we heard about the occupations at other universities through blogs. This is the biggest student campaign we've had and it's also the most wide-reaching. We'll stay until the university lets us meet with the vice chancellor. I think students will see they can take action on more issues, such as the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the education system; the Government's refusal to stop the marketisation of education has provoked a lot of anger."

The '68 veteran: 'It changed our lives'

John Rose, 63, former student organiser at the London School of Economics in 1968; now a lecturer and author on the Middle East

"I arrived at the LSE in '66 as an extremely naive liberal student and I left in '69 as a revolutionary socialist. It changed our lives. I was one of the student organisers with Tariq Ali and attended all the demonstrations and occupations. We did think a revolution was coming; we thought mass action of students might overthrow capitalism and bring genuine equality. It took us some time to realise that wasn't going to happen.

"It wasn't just about rioting and having fun, it was political argument that probed all the assumptions about the world. It was a highly intense period and the memory stays powerfully with anyone involved; it's the memory of those times that has kept me going.

"It was a feeling of fantastic elation: we began to realise that mass action could change things. Once it started, we developed a taste for it and began to consider mass activity as a way of doing politics, which is what's happening now. People are fed up with bankers, politicians and elite institutions. Hundreds of us thought the revolution was coming in '69, but maybe the revolution is coming now."

Date: Sunday, february 8, 2009 09:45:56
Subject: PACBI Open Letter to Roger Moore - Withdraw from Israeli festival in Eilat!

"Unless we do something about it, we'll never ever be able to hold our heads up!"

A PACBI Open Letter to Sir Roger Moore

February 8, 2008
The Palestinian arts community has received the news of your plans to make a special guest appearance at the Red Sea International Music Festival in Eilat this February in a state of disbelief. At a time of unprecedented Israeli war crimes and grave violations of human rights, condemned by leading UN officials and international human rights organizations, with Israel just ending its atrocious assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, after more than 18 months of a criminal siege, described as a "prelude to genocide" by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, your participation in this festival can only be understood as condoning this injustice and celebrating it.

We feel exceptionally disappointed because of your otherwise significant record in advocating human rights, particularly in your capacity as the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Israel's bloody war on occupied Gaza caused the immediate death of over 1,300 people, of whom 410 were children, in addition to injuring another 5,300 people [1]. As UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman noted in her statement regarding the Israeli aggression on Gaza:

"Each day more children are being hurt, their small bodies wounded, their young lives shattered. These are not just cold figures. They talk of children's lives interrupted. No human being can watch this without being moved. No parent can witness this and not see their own child." [2]

In response to this systematic brutality, and to Israel having bombed clearly marked UN schools and storage compounds with white phosphorus munitions and other banned weapons killing dozens of civilians taking shelter under the UN flag, the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and many leading international jurists have all called for a war crimes investigation. Given this context, your participation in this festival would constitute a gesture of "goodwill" towards a state which is widely viewed by people of conscience the world over as a rogue state above the law of nations, a state that commits severe and persistent human rights violations which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, with utter impunity.

Palestinian civil society also responded by fully uniting behind the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it fulfills its obligations under international law and fully recognizes Palestinian rights [3]. Hundreds of progressive Israeli academics, intellectuals and activists have also come out in support of punitive measures by the international community against Israel to make it accountable for perpetrating war crimes [4].

Beyond the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, Israel is recognized by the United Nations and the absolute majority of nations as a repressive occupying power that maintains illegal colonies in the occupied Palestinian territory, violates international law, UN resolutions, and the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. These are not abstract notions, at least not to Palestinians. Israel denies millions of Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right to return to their homes of origin, as stipulated by international law; it is building settlements and a monstrous Wall, both of which were declared illegal by the International Court of Justice; it is regularly demolishing thousands of Palestinian homes as a form of collective punishment; it is killing Palestinian children with impunity; it is uprooting hundreds of thousands of Palestinian trees; and its ubiquitous roadblocks are imprisoning Palestinian civilians, denying them access to health care, schools and jobs. Moreover, Israel maintains a system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens reminiscent of South African apartheid. These injustices, among others, have been well documented by leading human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights.

Furthermore, as you may know, virtually all Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural figures have called on their colleagues worldwide to boycott Israeli cultural and arts institutions due to their complicity in perpetuating Israel's occupation and other forms of oppression against the Palestinian people [5]. Ken Loach, John Berger, John Williams and many other prominent international cultural figures have endorsed this call for boycott. Many artists have heeded our appeals and turned down invitations to participate in Israeli gigs and festivals. These include Bono, Snoop Dogg, Bjork and Jean-Luc Godard.

Moreover, UNICEF last year decided to cut all ties with an Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev due to his companies' construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. We hope it is not too much to expect conscientious international artists to uphold the values of freedom, equality and justice for all?

In your website you emphasise that you have been drawn into work for human rights, particularly those of children, through your colleague Audrey Hepburn, and you note:

"... I listened to Audrey speak-she was so eloquent and so passionate. She said that there are millions of children out there, and they are dying. Unless we do something about it, we'll never ever be able to hold our heads up. Also, she said, that has to be pointed out to governments." [6]

In the spirit of such a noble and brave commitment we appeal to your moral conscience and your record of standing up for principles of human dignity and equality. We sincerely hope that you will withdraw from this event and inform the Israeli organizers and government that you will not attend their festivals as long as Israel continues to deny the Palestinian people its inalienable rights to emancipation and human rights.

Yours truly,

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)







From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Saturday, february 7, 2009 22:09:40
Subject: The Rise of Fascism in Israel (Haaretz)

That's how this insightful -- bit long -- Haaretz article should be titled.

"Death to the Arabs" is as popular a chant in Israel nowadays as the Tikva, Israel's national anthem. In fact, you hear the former far more frequently than the latter: in football matches, in election rallies, and in random gatherings of Israeli youth anywhere near the Palestinians (in Jaffa, Acre, Upper Nazareth, etc.).

Some teasing excerpts from utterings by Israeli students and youth quoted in the article:

- "This country has needed a dictatorship for a long time already. But I'm not talking about an extreme dictatorship. We need someone who can put things in order. Lieberman is the only one who speaks the truth."

- "In my daughter's class, the kids told a joke that went something like: 'How long does it take an Arab woman to get rid of the trash? Nine months,' and the teacher didn't stop or say anything to them about it."

- "We have a problem: Upper Nazareth is surrounded by minorities. There are lots of incidents with them. Women are scared to walk in the streets, and people are afraid they'll be stabbed. No one knows what to do about it at this point. There are people who live here and during a war they act as a fifth column. It will only be possible to make peace with them after we make war."

Is that why people shout "Death to the Arabs"?

"The people who shout 'Death to the Arabs' - they mean death to those who support terror."

No wonder even a very "moderate" Palestinian candidate to the Knesset like Ahmad Tibi is now calling for a boycott against Israel if Lieberman is elected prime minister, just as Austria was boycotted when Jorg Haider was elected.
(,0,198786,full.story )

The only problem here is that the "lefty" Haaretz is demonizing Lieberman as if he were a pariah in Israel, not the upcoming most popular leader in the country -- if not in this elections, then the next. Parties from the ultra left of Zionism to the ultra right agree on a very wide common denominator when it comes to Palestinian rights, to the extent that Yossi Beilin had in the past elections publicly admired Lieberman's struggle for the Jewish state, when the latter was openly calling for the ethnic cleansing of half a million Palestinian citizens of Israel (let alone those in the OPT)!

As Meir Kahane always said: "There are a million Kahanes in Israel, but only one speaks out!" Well Lieberman is not as modest. He must be thinking by now, quite rightly, "There are THREE million Liebermans in Israel, at the very least, and about half of them are already speaking out!" Actually, more than two thirds of Israeli-Jews support South Africa style segregation in housing (which is very much a reality in Israel today), and a similar percentage supports "convincing" the "Arabs" to emigrate through various means. The darling of Europe's social democrats, Tzipi Livni, has endorsed the discourse of ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinians from Israel if they want to realize their "national identity." And, as an Israeli journalist friend commented, at least Lieberman is all talk, so far, unlike the Olmerts, Baraks and Livnis (the Israeli "mainstream") whose hands are drenched in blood from their long record of war crimes, particularly in Gaza most recently.

Israel today is fast becoming the closest reincarnation yet (after WWII) of European fascism, pure and simple. Gideon Levy wrote an article titled "Let Netanyahu Win," to show Israel's real face. I disagree with Gideon's choice: if you really want to show Israel's true face, let Lieberman win!

Haaretz 07/02/2009
Lieberman's anti-Arab ideology wins over Israel's teens

By Yotam Feldman

(follow link to read full article)

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Friday, february 6, 2009 15:10:19
Subject: Sports boycott moves from Ankara to Barcelona!

Barcelona basketball fans receive Maccabi Tel Aviv with dozens of Palestinian flags and a stunning chant: "Boycott Israel -- Viva Palestine"!

After sports fans and activists in Turkey and New Zealand took action in support of a sports boycott of Israel, this very promising sports boycott movement has finally eached Europe, where it counts the most, starting from Barcelona, no less, a major European sports powerhouse! As many of you already know, Israeli teams compete in European championships as if Israel were part of Europe. Not different from academia, among other fields.

Finally, Israeli sports teams are facing what their South African predecessors had experienced in the 1980s. Could not have come at a more opportune time ...

And for those who think that sports should not be "politicized" or that Israeli sports is about the nobility of athletics as an expression of humanity, a thorough examination of the Israeli sports scene will confirm that sports teams (particularly football and basketball teams and most of their fans) are no different from the mainstream in Israel: racist, colonial and every bit deserving of boycott.


From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Monday, february 2, 2009 16:35:47
Subject: Who Profits from the Occupation? - Launch Announcement

Though limited to only one of the three basic forms of Israeli injustice and violation of Palestinian rights, this is an excellent, well-researched database that can help the BDS movement worldwide in targeting companies implicated in the Israeli occupation and colonization in the Palestinian and Syrian territory occupied in 1967.

Please spread the word about this long-awaited and badly needed website -- now officially launched.

While all Israeli companies and all international companies that support Israel, by investing or building alliances in it, outsourcing to it, importing from it, etc., are comlpicit, to various degrees, in the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, those companies that are specifically complicit in the occupation and colonization projects in the OPT, in particular, should be the easiest to target with boycott, for obvious reasons.

For those who are interested, here's my take on the related issue of boycotting settlement products or all Israeli products, in a recently published article:


Who Profits from the Israeli Occupation?
Announcing a new on-line database:

Now, more then ever, Israeli activists need a powerful global movement to help us build a just peace in Israel/ Palestine. Looking for effective tools for ending the occupation, we have launched a new website listing companies directly involved in the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. The grassroots initiative, of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, includes a database and an information center, and reflects an on-going two-year effort, rigorous research, documentation and site visits.

This unprecedented on-line resource already lists about 200 companies, and hundreds more will be added during 2009, offering an extensive and intricate mapping of the corporate aspects and interests in the continued occupation. The website offers a new useful categorization of all corporate interests in the occupation, and exposes specific examples of direct involvement of many international and Israeli companies for the first time. In tracing ownership links it shows in detail how some of Israel's largest corporations are tied in with the occupation.

The database allows for advanced searches, such as: Which U.S. corporations support the West Bank military checkpoints? Which of the companies are listed in the London stock-exchange? What settlements' production is formally registered inside Israel? Note, however, that the on-line data is always partial, always growing, and please send us any relevant information, further requests for information or suggestions.

As Israeli activists, we feel obligated to try and educate ourselves and others about the economic incentives and corporate involvement in the occupation, but this is not enough. You can support our efforts by continuing this investigation in your own country, by informing others of our website, or by sending us a much needed donation.

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Sunday, february 1, 2009 12:45:11
Subject: Belgium to ban arms exports to Israel (Haaretz)

A good decision for mostly the wrong reasons! Very Israel-centric, as expected from European "democracies," but still a step in the right direction.

The arms embargo on Israel should be motivated, first and foremost, by every state's obligations under international law not to arm a state that is in grave violation of international law and human rights, not because its army has a few under-age soldiers! States that continue to sell weapons to Israel, even indirectly, and/or to allow arms shipments to pass through their territory or airspace, as in the case of Belgium and the Netherlands, among others, despite knowing well that Israel is seriously charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, can be held legally complicit for abetting Israel's crimes. This applies to most European states, not to mention the US, Canada, etc.

Legal and moral obligations notwithstanding, this utter hypocrisy of the western establishment, where the wellbeing a few Israeli-Jewish soldier-"children" trumps the rights of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza (and millions more in the West Bank, Jerusalem and exile) deprived of the most fundamental rights including, often, the absolute right to life, is beyond contemptible; it reflects a significant degree of meltdown in official Europe's value system not seen in the "post-colonial" era.

Arabs/Muslims, it seems, have completely been transformed into official Europe's "new Jews," as several commentators have written before.

Haaretz 01/02/2009
Belgium to stop exporting 'arms that bolster the IDF' to Israel

By Cnaan Liphshiz

Belgium's government has agreed to ban the export to Israel of weapons that "strengthen it militarily," a Belgian minister said on Thursday. A Brussels-based research group accused Israel of enlisting child soldiers.

The Belgian daily De Morgen quotes Minister Patricia Ceysens from the Flemish regional government as saying: "There's a consensus [among ministers] not to approve exports that would strengthen Israel's military capacity."

Ceysens said this after a discussion on policy regarding weapons exports to Israel following the operation in Gaza. A final resolution has not been passed yet, but Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht already said recently that "given the current circumstances, weapons cannot be shipped from Belgium to Israel."

According to a recently-released report by the European Institute for Research and Information on Peace and Security on Belgian arms exports to the Jewish state, Israel is the fourth largest importer of Belgian arms in the Middle East. In 2007, Belgium sold Israel weapons (mostly light firearms) to the tune of $5,409,223, according to the report.

The report, which accuses Israel of human rights violations, also says that Belgium's major weapons clients in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia (69 percent), Jordan (17 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (4.2 percent). The 15-page report does not deal with human rights violation in those countries.

Quoting a 2003 amendment to Belgian law which forbids the sale of weapons to armies with child soldiers, the report says that Israel "accepts and arms underage volunteers." Further on, the report mentions "use of underage Palestinians as informants and sometimes human shields."

The Israeli Defense Forces' Gadna program runs a one-week military training session on a base as part of the curriculum at most Israeli high schools. The army accepts volunteers from the age of 17 into non-combat posts.

Meanwhile, 13 Belgian politicians, authors and scholars released a statement that calls for a more evenhanded approach to Israel.

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Tuesday, january 27, 2009 09:01:35
Subject: Prime Israeli war crimes suspect to teach Law at Tel Aviv University (Haaretz)

No, this is not a nasty joke, but reality in one of the Israeli universities that is most consistently notorious for supporting the army and security apparatus.

Despite the outrage and the principled positions by the few courageous, conscientious Israeli academics, like Chaim Ganz and Anat Matar quoted below, one must note that this is NOT an aberration. Israeli universities are organically linked to the military-intelligence establishment, providing indispensable services to the Israeli occupation, racial discrimination system and other forms of oppression.

Plus, Israeli academic institutions are literally awash with war criminals, past and present -- those who have participated in combat and non-combat roles in the army in enforcing the criminal siege of Gaza, enabling the construction and protection of Jewish-only colonies in the OPT, contributing to the ethnic cleansing waves of 1947-1949 and ever since (yes, some of those gradpa, peaceful looking Israeli academics are certified war criminals that belong in the Hague), enforcing numerous forms of collective punishment (war crimes, according to International Humanitarian Law), especially in manning checkpoints and roadblocks, denying freedom of movement, right to education, right to health care, etc.

Employing this particularly obnoxious war criminal to teach law at TAU will just add one more to an already very long list of criminals roaming around freely in Israeli universities, teaching hate, racism and warmongering, with impunity, and traveling the world and attending every imaginable conference as respected academics, feeling safe from the possibility of litigation abroad.

Another reason why Israeli academic institutions ought to be boycotted ... THIS is what ALL Palestinian academic unions have asked for, repeatedly. If there was ever an appropriate time to join the growing, still mostly silent, academic boycott, it is now! And now we have the support of hundreds of Israeli academics and intellectuals who see no other way to hold their institutions accountable for complicity in the state's criminal behavior.

For more information on this specific aspect of the Palestinian BDS campaign see:


Lecturers say IDF officer who justified Gaza strikes should not teach law

By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Correspondent

(follow link for article)

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Saturday, january 24, 2009 13:54:19
Subject: HRW: "The Incendiary IDF" has "lost credibility"

Even the Human Rights Watch director, who is typically tolerant of Israeli crimes, now realizes that the Israeli army has lost its credibility in Gaza for lying about its indisputable willful targeting of civilians, among other things.

HRW researchers themsleves seem to be quite frsutrated with the higher-than-normal degree of censorship in the organization's reports which hardly reflect the full scope of the Israeli crimes that the researchers themselves have uncovered or learned of.

Following the time-honored B'Tselem pattern of omitting the harder truths about Israeli crimes and human rights violations and ignoring the necessary context, HRW's reports more often than not fail to present anything close to the reality on the ground when it comes to Israel's grave violations of international law. This should not imply that the HRW staff are themselves necessarily guilty of bad intentions; it simply indicates a survival mechansim for an organization that is predominantly dependent on sources of funding that are more or less basied to Israel and quite reluctant to see their money being used to expose its true nature as an inherently colonial, predatory pariah state on par with apartheid South Africa, or worse.

Still, a worthwhile admission from HRW, albeit belated.


"The Incendiary IDF"

by Kenneth Roth

The Israel Defense Forces use phosphorous shells--and forfeit credibility.

Human Rights Watch January 22, 2009

(follow link for full article)

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Friday, january 23, 2009 19:58:57
Subject: UN Official: Gaza evokes memories of Warsaw Ghetto

In its heavy hangover period after the bloodbath in Gaza, Israel has awaken to massive, unprecedented accusations by some of the most prominent jurists around the world of committing war crimes of the worst types, amounting to crimes against humanity. After every Israeli massacre we've heard the same talk, a cynic must be itching to respond. True, but never at any level close to this. Associating Israel with the term "war crime" has really become mainstream, for the first time.

Even the incredibly dominant Zionist influence in mainstream western media outlets (BBC, FOX, NYT, CNN, Le Monde, most major European papers, you name it!) has failed to stop the spread of this fatal association with war crimes. Like its white phosphorous bombs that burnt Gaza children more than anything else, ironically, Israel's every desperate attempt to extinguish the flames of this accusation with propaganda and spin has only caused them to flare up even further.

In his perceptive style, UN Rapporteur Richard Falk here focuses on a particularly significant -- morally and legally -- aspect of Israel's crime in Gaza that not many have emphasized: the fact that Palestinians in the besieged and heavily bombarded Gaza Strip had absolutely no where to escape to, unlike in the great majority of wars. Even UN schools used as shelters were intentionally targeted in a long-honored Israeli policy of terrorizing the entire civilian population into submission or revolt against the resistance.

This exceptionally barbaric, Nazi-like policy has failed in Lebanon and in Gaza. Still, given the dizzying rise in Israel's impunity during the Bush -- especially post 9/11 -- era, no criticism or condemnation has managed to deter Israel from committing more crimes. Nothing, it seems, can stop it from realizing its genocidal potential in the near future. Conscientious Jewish intellectuals have raised the solgan: Israel must lose! I jsut add to that, only intense, persistent pressure, particularly in the shape of BDS, has any chance whatsoever in ending Israel's impunity and making its policy lose. The massive grassroots movement around the world is marching in the right direction, finally.


Haaretz 23/01/2009
UN human rights official: Gaza evokes memories of Warsaw Ghetto
By Haaretz Service and Reuters
(follow link to read article)
From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Thursday, january 22, 2009 17:41:30
Subject: Protests over Gaza spread to eight British universities (Guardian)

A spectacular and very inspiring student movement across the UK ACTING in solidarity with Gaza and asking for real demands, incuding divestment from a British company that supplies military goods to Israel that were used in the war crimes in Gaza.

Can we hope for something similar to happen across "the pond"? Or across the Channel, at least?!


From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Wednesday, january 21, 2009 09:14:10
Subject: Diakonia: Veolia LOST 3.5 Billion EUR contract in Sweden

First MAJOR (huge!) blow to a company implicated in Israeli war crimes and violations of international law ...

VEOLIA, the French company involved in the "Jerusalem Light Rail" project, connecteing Jewish colonies in the OPT to West Jerusalem, LOST the largest public transportation contract in Europe!

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, BDS, are starting to work. This is the MOST effective form of solidarity with Palestinians, and with Gaza in particular.

Our South Africa moment is approaching ...

Omar Barghouti


Diakonia Press Statement

Stockholm, 20 January 2009

Today the Stockholm community council in Sweden announced that the French company Veolia who has been the current operator at the Subway's in Stockholm County for 10 years lost the contract to the MTR-cooperation.

The contracts for the coming 8 years is worth 3,5 Billion EURO and has been the biggest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe.

Although the board for county's public transportation ensured the decision was based on commercial factors the debate about Veolias involvement in a controversial tramway project in Jerusalem (Jerusalem light railway) has been intense in Swedish media.

The tramway connecting the Israeli west Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory has triggered discussions about Veolia's ethical policy. Public protests against Veolia has brought the attention to the dilemma of operating public services when you at he same time are involved in politically controversial activities.

As late as the day before the decision the community council received lists with thousands of signatories from people demanding the county council to choose an operator who should not be associated with violations of international humanitarian law.

- This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated to unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil, at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.

Diakonia is a Swedish Christian development organisation working together with local partners for a sustainable change for the most vulnerable people of the world

Joakim Wohlfeil

Diakonia Head Office (Sweden)

Policy Officer, Conflict and Justice

Mobile: + 46 (0) 705 15 61 45


From: auguste orts
Date: Monday, january 19, 2009 18:12:07
Subject: End the Occupation?

Auguste Orts
Newsletter #11

'Auguste Orts' is a production and distribution platform for art projects at the crossroads of cinema, video, visual arts, documentaries, experimental films and publications.

Auguste Orts is:

Herman Asselberghs, Sven Augustijnen, Manon de Boer, Anouk De Clercq + Marie Logie (coordinator)


End the Occupation? Auguste Orts subscribes to a comprehensive economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. Go to:

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Sunday, january 18, 2009 21:10:25
Subject: 900 US, other Academics: "divestment and pressure" against Israeli "apartheid"

Bit long, but worth reading every word, whenever you can spare 8 minutes...

An impressive, unprecendented list of hundreds of academics, mostly US based, calling for the South Africa treatment to deal with what they identify as Israel's racism, colonialism and apartheid.

Among many important points made in the statement, focusing on justice, it states:

"Almost certainly, the only hope of a lasting solution is a single state in Israel/Palestine, committed to the civil and human rights of all peoples within its boundaries, irrespective of religion or ethnicity. That is, after all, the standard to which we hold all other states in the world, Israel alone excepted."

Who said there was no hope in the US civil society? This is perhaps one of the most promising statements to come out of the US in response to Israel's atrocities in Gaza and, in fact, to its 60-year-old, multifaceted injustice against the indigenous people of Palestine.


Date: Sunday, january 18, 2009 16:10:31
Subject: Israel Bombs University Teachers Assoc. (Gaza) - Boycott now!

Israel Bombs University Teachers Association in Gaza
Boycott Now!

January 18, 2009

Occupied Palestine - PACBI learned today from its Steering Committee member, Dr. Haidar Eid, that the headquarters of the University Teachers Association-Palestine, in Gaza, was bombed by the Israeli occupation forces during their indiscriminate, willful destruction campaign in the Tal el-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday.

This latest wanton attack on an academic organization is far from being an exception. It is only the latest episode in what Oxford University academic Karma Nabulsi has termed "scholasticide,"[1] or Israel's systematic and intentional destruction of Palestinian education centers. In its current war on Gaza alone, Israel has bombed the ministry of education, the Islamic University of Gaza, and tens of schools, including at least 4 UNRWA schools, after having largely destroyed the infrastructure of teaching throughout the year and a half of its illegal and criminal siege of the densely populated Gaza Strip.

The UTA headquarters is a detached two-story building that is clearly marked with the Association's name. The bombed structure, which now stands without a roof, has sustained heavy structural damage and may be in danger of collapsing any time.

It is worth noting that the UTA, together with other Gaza-based civil society organizations, called on January 15 [2] for a wide campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel in response to its well documented, premeditated war crimes in Gaza. The Israeli bombing of UTA's headquarters occurred on the exact following day, January 16.

In line with the statements issued by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, [3] and the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, PFUUPE, [4] PACBI condemns in the strongest possible terms Israel's long record of war crimes and acts of genocide in Gaza, during the siege as well as in this war of aggression. Israel's wanton assaults have caused thousands of fatalities and injuries and threatened tens of thousands more, particularly children, with chronic diseases, stunted growth, severe malnutrition and heightened risk of mortality.

PACBI strongly believes that Israel's targeting of civilian homes, schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, social and economic institutions, government buildings, law and order organs, UN humanitarian facilities and shelters, as well as higher education institutions should not go unpunished. Israel's sense of unassailable impunity is a guaranteed recipe for repetition of its crimes and nourishing its genocidal tendencies, as noted by UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Prof. Richard Falk.

Specifically, and as a minimal response to these Israeli atrocities and grave violations of international law and the most basic human rights, PACBI calls on academics, academic unions, intellectuals, cultural workers and institutions the world over to intensify the boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions due to their complicity in the Israeli occupation and other forms of oppression against the Palestinian people. Putting an end to Israel's impunity and holding it accountable is the moral responsibility of every conscientious human being today.

For media interviews with UTA spokespersons in Gaza, contact:
Dr. Haidar Eid – Mobile: + (970) 599 441 766
Dr. Asaad abu Sharkh – Mobile: + (970) 599 322 636


From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Sunday, january 18, 2009 11:10:31
Subject: Fwd: Israel's war crime spree in Khuza'a village, Gaza (Gaurdian)

My sincere apologies to the lead author of this article, the distinguished Palestinian journalist, Fida Qishta, from Rafah. SHE deserves most of the credit for this.

To see more of her work see:


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Here's the fuller picture of Israeli military's war crimes in the little Palestinian village of Khuza'a, near Khan Younis, that B'Tselem must have known about through their local researcher but deliberately omitted -- quite typically -- or "forgot" to mention in their report.

Note that Palestinian (like any other Arab, Muslim, "brown") eyewitnesses, again, cannot possibly be trusted by the respectful western media to tell the truth or accurately describe the horrors they've undergone. Everything they say is "alleged," in a very exaggerated way. Of course eyewitness accounts remain "alleged" until an impartial, expert investigation corroborates them. But they are often treated as important indicators of the scope of the crime, without being second-guessed like that.

I don't blame the very courageous journalist who wrote this article, exposing the war crimes; he has done a great service to exposing the truth. But the editors' hands, trembling from the mere thought of the unavoidable "horror" the Lobby will subject them to for publishing this, must have had quite a say in how this story came out to the readers.

Still, an excellent expose that deserves a salute to Peter Beaumont.


Israel accused of war crimes over 12-hour assault on Gaza village

White flags ignored and houses bulldozed with families inside, claim residents

Fida Qishta in Khuza'a and Peter Beaumont in London
The Observer, Sunday 18 January 2009
Israel stands accused of perpetrating a series of war crimes during a sustained 12-hour assault on a village in southern Gaza last week in which 14 people died.

In testimony collected from residents of the village of Khuza'a by the Observer, it is claimed that Israeli soldiers entering the village:

• attempted to bulldoze houses with civilians inside;

• killed civilians trying to escape under the protection of white flags;

• opened fire on an ambulance attempting to reach the wounded;

• used indiscriminate force in a civilian area and fired white phosphorus shells.

If the allegations are upheld, all the incidents would constitute breaches of the Geneva conventions.

The denunciations over what happened in Khuza'a follow repeated claims of possible human rights violations from the Red Cross, the UN and human rights organisations.

The Israeli army announced yesterday that it was investigating "at the highest level" five other attacks against civilians in Gaza, involving two UN facilities and a hospital. It added that in all cases initial investigations suggested soldiers were responding to fire. "These claims of war crimes are not supported by the slightest piece of evidence," said Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman.

Concern over what occurred in the village of Khuza'a in the early hours of Tuesday was first raised by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. Although an Israeli military spokesman said he had "no information that this alleged incident took place", witness statements collected by the Observer are consistent and match testimony gathered by B'Tselem.

There is also strong visible evidence that Khuza'a came under a sustained attack from tanks and bulldozers that smashed some buildings to pieces.

Pictures taken by photographer Bruno Stevens in the aftermath show heavy damage - and still burning phosphorus. "What I can tell you is that many, many houses were shelled and that they used white phosphorus," said Stevens yesterday, one of the first western journalists to get into Gaza. "It appears to have been indiscriminate." Stevens added that homes near the village that had not been hit by shell fire had been set on fire.

The village of Khuza'a is around 500 metres from the border with Israel. According to B'Tselem, its field researcher in Gaza was contacted last Tuesday by resident Munir Shafik al-Najar, who said that Israeli bulldozers had begun destroying homes at 2.30am.

When Rawhiya al-Najar, aged 50, stepped out of her house waving a white flag, so that the rest of the family could leave the house, she was allegedly shot by Israeli soldiers nearby.

The second alleged incident was on Tuesday afternoon, when Israeli troops ordered 30 residents to leave their homes and walk to a school in the village centre. After travelling 20 metres, troops fired on the group, allegedly killing three.

Further detailed accounts of what occurred were supplied in interviews given to a Palestinian researcher who has been working for the Observer, following the decision by Israel to ban foreign media from the Gaza Strip. Iman al-Najar, 29, said she watched as bulldozers started to destroy neighbours' homes and saw terrified villagers flee from their houses as masonry collapsed.

"By 6am the tanks and bulldozers had reached our house," Iman recalled. "We went on the roofs and tried to show we were civilians with white flags. Everyone was carrying a white flag. We told them we are civilians. We don't have any weapons. The soldiers started to destroy the houses even if the people were in them." Describing the death of Rawhiya, Iman says they were ordered by Israeli soldiers to move to the centre of the town. As they did, Israeli troops opened fire. Rawhiya was at the front of the group, says Iman.

Marwan Abu Raeda, 40, a paramedic working for the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, said: "At 8am we received a phone call from Khuza'a. They told us about the injured woman. I went immediately. I was 60 or 70 metres away from the injured woman when the Israeli forces started to shoot at me." As he drove into another street, he came under fire again. Twelve hours later, when Rawhiya was finally reached, she was dead.

Iman said she ended up in an area of rubble where a large group of people had sought cover in a deep hole among the debris of demolished houses. It is then, she says, that bulldozers began to push the rubble from each side. "They wanted to bury us alive," she said.

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Saturday, january 17, 2009 08:19:56
Subject: Veteran Jewish-British MP likens Israelis to Nazis (JTA)

In case you missed this important development in the British Parliament ...


MP Kaufman likens Israelis to Nazis

Jewish Telegraphic Agency January 16, 2009

LONDON (JTA) - A Jewish member of Britain's parliament accused Israel of exploiting Holocaust guilt to justify its actions in the Gaza Strip.

"The current Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians," Sir Gerald Kaufman, a veteran MP of the governing Labour Party and a long-time critic of Israel, said Thursday in parliament.

Referring to his personal background, as the son of Jewish refugees from Poland, he said: "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza."

Kaufman compared the Hamas militants in Gaza to Jewish resistance fighters during the Second World War, saying: "The spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians. The total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that '500 of them were militants'. That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants."

Israel launched major operations in Gaza on Dec. 27 after Hamas ended a fragile cease-fire with a massive intensification of rocket attacks into southern Israel.

Date: Friday, january 16, 2009 22:56:51
Subject: ZCom Special Gaza Crisis Q&A by Stephen Shalom

Dear ,

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched its assault on Gaza: Operation Cast Lead.

ZCom/ZNet has been has been addressing the rapidly worsening conditions by publishing numerous articles each day from diverse international writers. However, by far the most extensive piece so far is the very important Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) by Z's own Stephen Shalom.

Shalom's FAQ is an exhaustive analysis that collects in one place the most frequently asked questions about Israel's war on Gaza, along with succinct answers, including extensive footnotes and sources. All told Shalom includes 34 questions and answers.

You can access the whole FAQ online including all questions, answers, and extensive footnotes and references. You can navigate the FAQ by viewing only questions that interest you in any order you like, by assessing questions grouped by topic, or by simply reading through the whole thing, sequentially which we very highly recommend.

Click here to go straight to the full Q/A:

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Friday, january 16, 2009 17:52:07
Subject: Definitive proof of Israel's illegal use of phosphorous bombs in Gaza (Guardian)

This settles that. But note how long it took to prove something that we ALL saw live on TV and was abundantly clear from day 1!

Israel's political and military spokepersons and spin master, who were over and over again exposed as unashamed compulsive liars, still manage to make a lie stick simply because very few have the courage and will to challenge it. The UN's slavish reaction to the first massacre of 43 civilians sheltered in one of its schools encouraged Israel to propagate its lie that resistance fighters fired from with the school. It took days and meticulously documented proof to show that Israel was lying. By then, however, most Americans and a substantial chunk of the European publics as well had already internalized the repeated lie.

Israel's massive PR machine and rein of terror in most mainstream western media outlets, intimidating and bullying into submission reporters and editors who dare tell the truth, have been quite successful in compelling most American and European mainstream journalists to parrot the Israeli talking points or, at best, to deal with the aggression in a way that equates the occupier's acts of genocide (in the siege and war on Gaza) of the occupier with the resistance of the occupied. Spin, misinformation and outright distoritons have, accordingly, become the norm in western coverage of Israel's open massacre in Gaza.

No wonder, then, we see the "gelly-fish" effect of white phosphorous bombs before our eyes raining on Gaza, we see the burn victims, mostly children, on hospital beds in Gaza, with faces or limbs burnt to the bones, we hear eyewitnesses describe in excruciating details the effect of phosphorous on their own bodies and those of loved ones, and still, many tend to believe the Israeli spin and question what their entire nervous system and brain are telling them!

This is the level of control over media coverage of the question of Palestine that Israel has achieved. Controlling the narrative, the "pundits," the text and sub-text, Israel's spin masters have largely succeeded (in the US and, to a lesser extent, in Europe) to deem the very pictures and footage of their horror almost irrelevant, as if the pictures themselves were biased while the narrative was the truth, the only truth.

Long live the alternative media and ... those brave journalists in the Guardian, the Independent and other liberal media who have set themselves apart from the criminal choir!


(follow the link for article and video)

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Friday, january 16, 2009 12:17:23
Subject: 300 British Academics: boycott, divestment and sanctions now (Guardian)

An impressive list of academics in British universities "taking sides" and endorsing BDS ...


Growing outrage at the killings in Gaza

The Guardian, Friday 16 January 2009

The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel's ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel's war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.

Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides... against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.

We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

(follows list of names - see link above)

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Thursday, january 15, 2009 22:10:41
Subject: Belgium/Netherlands arms trade with Israel bypassing EU and national laws

Dear friends in Belgium,

Can anything be done to expose this scandalous complicity in Israel's war crimes? A hearing in Parliament? Any media expose?

Following the great letter supporting the boycott published yesterday, perhaps the Belgian public may support distancing Belgium from direct complicity in Israel's war crimes and other violations of international and European laws.\

How can the seat of the EU export and allow the export through its territory of lethal weapons used by a pariah state that is committing a "Holocaust in the making," as describe by UN Special Rapporteur for Human Right in Palestine, Prof. Richard Falk? Can it be stopped?


Press release

Campagne tegen Wapenhandel (Campaign Against Arms Trade NL) Vredesactie (Peace Action B)

Bombs on Gaza, business for The Netherlands and Belgium

Antwerp/Amsterdam, January 14, 2009 --- The Israeli army in Gaza is using weapons partly produced in Belgium and The Netherlands. Moreover Dutch and Belgian airports are being used for the transfer of weapons and ammunition from the United States to Israel without scrutiny against the EU arms export criteria. As Belgian foreign minister De Geucht called for a ceasefire in Gaza and Dutch foreign minister Verhagen offered support in controlling arms smuggling to Hamas one should expect an intensified control on arms exports to Israel. This is not the case. Belgium en The Netherlands do not apply the EU arms export criteria consistently and the transfer of military goods from the US to Israel, notably ammunition, is not controlled at all.

Israel is one of the world's largest arms importers. Dutch policy on arms trade with Israel is restrictive; export licences are 'in principle' not granted for Israel, in line with criteria two (human rights), three (internal conflict) and four (regional conflict) of the European Union arms exports criteria. At the same time arms components are exported to third countries which re-export to Israel. Dutch Stork is the sole supplier of gears for Apache attack helicopters delivered by the US to Israel. DSM exports armour that ends up in armoured personnel carriers and vehicles for the Israeli Defence Forces. In Flanders (B) several arms and components exports have been denied licences in 2008. Exports to the Israeli arms industry however were no problem at all. Flemish OIP, daughter of Israeli Elbit, could deliver materiel for snipers for example. The Wallonian part of Belgium licensed several arms exports to Israel, including material for ammunition and components for armoured personnel carriers. The Brussels province has never denied any export licence.

Arms transfers to Israel through Belgium and The Netherlands, notably by plane from the US, are not controlled at all. In 2006 and 2007 alone 56 million bullet parts, 3 million ammunition and tens of thousands of cartridges, smoke shells and fuses from the United States were transferred though Dutch main airport Schiphol on their way to the IDF. Despite promises to Parliament the Dutch government has not given any information yet on 2008 figures. After Israeli airline El Al transferred its main activity to the Liege airport of Bierset, it can be assumed that the majority of the US arms transports to Israel has shifted to Belgium. Although the Wallonian government does not give any figures about the transfer of military goods at all, it is known that El Al has 2 to 3 cargo flights from the US to Israel through Bierset every day. If the EU arms export criteria would be applied to these transfer flights, they would most probably not be permitted, as the United States arms export policy towards Israel is known to be much less restrictive than that of Belgium and The Netherlands. /

(Not for publication) For more information Wendela de Vries, Campagne tegen Wapenhandel (00 31) (0)6 30488704 Inez Louwagie, Vredesactie (00 32) (0)498682940

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Thursday, january 15, 2009 21:23:37
Subject: A call from Gaza: End Israel's Impunity, Support BDS now!

This important voice of Gaza, from inside the resisting ghetto, was just received via email. No links are provided yet. Internet access in Gaza, as you would expect, is extremely rare.


A call from Gaza

With the death toll in Gaza growing hourly, silence is complicity. It is imperative for concerned citizens to demand that their governments take immediate action in order to stop Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Write your representative today and demand:

1. That Israeli war criminals be brought before the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal for war crimes committed in Gaza. (Remind your representative that the investigation, prosecution or extradition of those responsible for war crimes is an obligation of all high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions.)

2. That in response to Israel's severe breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, your state terminate all favorable trade agreements and economic relations with Israel, including the EU Association Agreement which is conditional upon adherence to human rights and democratic principles.

3. That your state cut all diplomatic ties with Israel.

The current events in Gaza were predicated and advocated for by Israeli Professor Arnon Soffer, Head of the IDF's National Defense College. Professor Soffer spelled out the desired results of Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza in an interview with the Jerusalem Post (24 May 2004):

Jerusalem Post: How will the region look the day after unilateral separation?

Arnon Sofer: ...First of all.... Instead of entering Gaza like we did last week. We will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed. After the fifth such incident, Palestinian mothers won't allow their husbands to shoot Kassams, because they will know what's waiting for them.

Second of all, when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It's going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day...If we don't kill, we will cease to exist…Unilateral separation doesn't guarantee "peace" - it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews...

Jerusalem Post: Voluntary transfer?

Arnon Soffer: Yes. And Gaza is going to be such a disaster that it will be beyond our capacity to help. There will have to be large-scale international aid. The US will have to pressure Egypt to cede land.

More recently Matan Vilnai, Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, told Army Radio during "Operation Hot Winter" (29 February 2008):

"They will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."

In the days following this statement, 107 Palestinians were killed. The international comunity failed to take action. This inaction, followed by European declarations of intentions to upgrade their trade agreements with Israel, served as a green light for the current atrocities.

Reserve Colonel Yoav Gal, an Israeli Air Force pilot, told Army Radio during "Operation Cast Lead" (11 January 2009):

"I believe that it should have been even stronger! Dresden! Dresden! The extermination of a city! After all, we're told that the face of war has changed. No longer is it the advancing of tanks or an organized military. […] It is a whole nation, from the old lady to the child, this is the military. It is a nation fighting a war. I am calling them a nation, even though I don't see them as one. It is a nation fighting a nation. Civilians fighting civilians. I'm telling you that we […] must know […] that stones will not be thrown at us! I am not talking about rockets - not even a stone will be thrown at us. Because we're Jews.[…] I want the Arabs of Gaza to flee to Egypt. This is what I want. I want to destroy the city, not necessarily the people living within it."

In order to end Israel´s impunity we call on civil society to support the Palestinian campaign for an international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Signatories: The One Democratic State Group - Gaza University Teacher Association in Palestine - Gaza Arab Cultural Forum - Gaza

Endorsed by: Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements - West Bank

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Thursday, january 15, 2009 15:58:24
Subject: EU Suspends Israel Upgrade over Gaza (Guardian)

A moderate victory for all the persistent efforts by Palestine solidrity groups that have attracted millions, literally, to demonstration in Madrid, London, Paris, Lille, Brussels, Berlin, Athens and all over Europe, all calling for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, heeding the call from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, representing Palestinian civil society.

Those same spineless -- I dare say criminally complicit -- EU bureaucrats, however, will turn their back on all of us in a flash once the "conflict" cools down and they can go back to their policy of upgrading relations with Israel. We've won one battle in this war, but the whole war is still ahead of us. While European peoples have never been so aware of and opposed to Israeli crimes before, European governments, following the lead of the US, have never been as deeply complicit in them.

Now, more than ever, a strong unified voice from European civil society is needed to protect and sustain this small victory and build on it to freeze the entire Asscoiation Agreement due to Israel's violation of its human rights clauses, particularly the second clause. With the Liberal Democrats in the UK, the Communists in France and several other influential parties adopting this slogan, and with lots of hard, persistent work, we can do it. Gaza is certainly worth it. Human decency and the rule of law demand it.

Omar ____________________________________________________________________
Date: Thursday, january 15, 2009 13:39:52
Subject: Gaza is dying

Dear friends,

Gaza is dying -- the battle has moved deep into its cities, jam-packed with 1.5 million civilians lacking food, medicine or water. President Bush undermined Thursday's United Nations ceasefire resolution and over 1000 people are now dead. The borders remain closed -- journalists can't get in, and desperate civilians can't get out.

But the global movement to end this war is building -- as we spread the word the petition is at 430,000 signatures and rising, it has been delivered to top leaders at the EU, UN and Arab League, our US members are flooding their representatives with phone calls, and Avaaz members worldwide have donated over $120,000 to an ad campaign in key newspapers.

The pressure is working -- so we're ratcheting it up with hard-hitting US ads pressing Barack Obama personally for an immediate change of tack, face-to-face petition deliveries to European leaders this week to get them to act, and working with Palestinians and Israelis to plan bold actions on the ground. But every one of these actions becomes stronger as more of us join the campaign. We need to reach 1 million signatures this week -- thank you for signing the petition already, let's all of us now take a moment to forward this email to all our friends and family so they can join us and be heard:

Voices for a ceasefire are finally being heard in the Israeli cabinet and media, Hamas is signalling it could accept a deal including Turkish forces and EU monitors, but the sides are too far apart to end this themselves.[3] That’s why action by world powers is critical to break the deadlock -- and global citizens’ voices can make all the difference if we raise an unstoppable voice calling on incoming President Obama, the EU and Arab and Muslim states to guarantee a fair and lasting ceasefire.

This week we are lobbying European and Muslim states for a more effective international initiative to end the violence, protect civilians on all sides and make normal life possible again in Gaza, while reaching out to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who is in the Middle East working for a deal (we met him last year to deliver our food crisis campaign). Meanwhile we’re challenging contacts on both sides to think creatively and accept a fair, internationally-overseen agreement.

We've already run member-funded ads in the influential Washington Post and Roll Call, the US Congress newspaper -- on the day of his inauguration this coming Tuesday, we will press Barack Obama to abandon Bush’s failed policies and act immediately to end this war, using his own words alongside hard facts to make the case in ads, US media debates and directly lobbying his team.

It's amazing what we can do when hundreds of thousands of us come together arond the world -- and if we raise our efforts to another level this week, we could help to finally end the Gaza horror. Follow the link below to take the first step by signing the petition, then spread the word so others can do the same:

With hope and determination, Paul, Graziela, Alice, Ricken, Luis, Brett, Ben, Iain, Paula, Veronique, Milena and the whole Avaaz team

P.S. For a report on some of Avaaz's other campaigns so far, see:


1. "White House behind US volte-face on ceasefire call":

"Israeli PM Ehud Olmert claims to be able to order Bush around":

2. Washington Post: Israelis Push to Edge of Gaza City:

3. Haaretz, "Olmert ignoring calls from Barak, Livni for immediate Gaza truce":

Other Voice - Sderot and Gaza residents calling for a ceasefire:

On Hamas acceptance of a Turkish force, first reported in the Arabic Al-Hayat newspaper, see:

"Gaza bloodshed continues despite UN calls for ceasefire", 9 January 2009:

"Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?" (6 January 2009) is a statistical analysis by an MIT professor, based on Israel's own data for rocket fire (which it shows stopped for four months) and on which side struck first. It provides useful factual background for how the Israel-Hamas truce effectively collapsed in November well before it expired (facts poorly reflected in some news reporting):

International Crisis Group's Ending the War in Gaza report (5 January 2009):

This Rasmussen Reports poll from the US is of interest: Only 31% of Democrats support offensive, most prefer a diplomatic solution:

"Gaza: outlines of an endgame", Ghassan Khatib (6 January 2009)

Jerusalem Post: "Israel must get out of Gaza now", 8 January 2009:

Reuters: "Hamas seeks truce but says lifting siege a must" (5 January 2009)

The US Army War College has just released a substantial report supporting the view that Hamas can and must be brought into negotiations and is capable of sustaining a long-term truce, or even peace with Israel. Linked via:

The inside story of the civil strife between Fatah and Hamas and the Bush administration's involvement in this debacle is best-told in The Gaza Bombshell, an investigative article published in the leading US magazine Vanity Fair in April 2008:

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Wednesday, january 14, 2009 22:39:51
Subject: B'Tselem report: Israeli soldiers shot woman waving white flag in Gaza Strip

This report, typical of B'Tselem, gives the impression as if this is a rare occasion that demands special documentation and exposure. Of course it demands all the attention, but it must be put in context. Tens of eyewitness reports on Aljazeera point to a POLICY of shooting at civilians carrying white flags trying to escape the hell that the occupation army has made of their homes. By decontextualizing this crime, B'Tselem is actually contributing, whether inadvertently or not -- to minmizing the exposure of criminal POLICIES adopted by the Israeli army in its genocidal war -- and siege, before it -- on Gaza.

In the most shocking incident to date, a father told the story of how his three young daughters had to leave the house to get food and water for the family when the Israeli soliders rained them with bullets, killing his 8-year old with 8 bullets in the chest and upper body. The oldest girl was also killed instantly by bullets. The youngest, 4 years old, received two bullets, one in her hand, the other entered her back and exited through her abdomen. She told the Aljazeera reporter the whole story while lying on a bloodied hospital bed. She is paralyzed in most of her body and is not expected to recover from that condition.

Another piece of context that B'tselem, again typically, left out was the POLICY of preventing medical teams from reaching injured Palestinians, leaving them to bleed to death. This age-old Israeli military policy became gained wide recognition during Israel's bloody suppression of the first intifada. It became much more prevalent during the second initifada, reaching a record with Israel's acts of genocide in Gaza.

There are widely disseminated and accepted fundamentalist interpretations of Jewish law that explicitly justify such a criminal policy based on halacha. The late Israel Shahak exposed how official Israeli army documents (written by the army chaplian during the war on Lebanon in 1982) called on Israeli medics NOT to save the lives of injured gentiles in Lebanon. When Shahak, and later Shulamit Aloni, challenged the Israeli Medical Association to condemn this army pamphlet and uphold the Hypocrites Oath, the IMA refused. It still does. THAT you won't read in ANY B'Tselem report.

Some will argue, better B'Tselem than nothing. Perhaps.



Press Release – for immediate publication

B'Tselem: Witness reports that Israeli soldiers shot woman waving white flag in Gaza Strip

A Palestinian who is besieged with his family in the Khuza'a area, in the south-eastern Gaza Strip, notified B'Tselem that soldiers had shot a woman waving a white flag and several civilians who were fleeing a bombed house on army orders.

Munir Shafik a-Najar, a resident of Khuza'a village, told B'Tselem's researcher by telephone that as of 2.30 A.M., the army has been demolishing homes in his area, which lies near the border with Israel. The forces have been using gunfire to signal civilians to evacuate their homes.

This morning, Rawhiya a-Najar, 50, stepped out of her house waving a white flag, so that the rest of the family could leave the house and walk behind her. The witness reported that she was shot and fell. Neither family members nor rescue workers have managed to reach her to ascertain her condition, but she is still lying motionless where she fell.

This afternoon, the army announced on loudspeakers that residents are to leave their homes and walk to a school in the village center. Some 30 people left their houses carrying white flags. The witness reported that after they had walked approximately 20 meters, fire was opened at the group, killing three of his relatives: Muhammad Salman a-Najar, 54, Ahmad Jum'a a-Najar, 25, and Khalil Hamdan a-Najar, 80. Many others were injured.

The rest of the group took cover in a nearby house, in which there are currently 46 persons waiting to evacuate the premises and take shelter in the village school. B'Tselem has passed on the information at its disposal to the army and the Red Crescent.

Although B'Tselem cannot, at present, independently verify or disprove the witness's claims, it believes their severity merits immediate notification of the media.

The witness, Munir a-Najar, wishes to talk to the media (speaks Arabic only). To receive his phone number and further details: Sarit Michaeli, Communications Director, at +972 (0)50-5387230 or

From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Wednesday, january 14, 2009 17:10:20
Subject: Birmingham Councillors call for boycott action on Israel

City councillors of Birmingham, the UK's second largest city, from all major parties endorse the logic of boycott. An important and deeply appreciated precedent in Britain and Europe.


From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Wednesday, january 14, 2009 09:14:13
Subject: Israel may face UN tribunal on war crimes in Gaza (Guardian)

An important development on the Israeli war crimes prosecution front .... Again, the commendably courageous UN Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk, leads the way.


From: "Omar Barghouti"
Date: Wednesday, january 14, 2009 08:39:21
Subject: US cancels munitions shipment to Israel via Greece (AFP)

A huge THANK-YOU from Palestine to Greek solidarity activists who have just implemented a South-Africa style BDS action!



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