Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel

The Israeli daily Haaretz today reported on a disturbing study of Israeli Jewish attitudes toward Palestinian human rights and apartheid policies in Israel/Palestine, revealing that “most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank” and that “a majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens.”

Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel
Survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews.

By Gidon Levy

Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank.

A majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens, a survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews. The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees.

The questions were written by a group of academia-based peace and civil rights activists. Dialog is headed by Tel Aviv University Prof. Camil Fuchs.

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 percent – believe separate roads are “a good situation” and 50 percent believe they are “a necessary situation.”

Almost half – 47 percent – want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent ) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent ) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48 percent object.

The survey distinguishes among the various communities in Israeli society – secular, observant, religious, ultra-Orthodox and former Soviet immigrants. The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast to those who described themselves as religious or observant, hold the most extreme positions against the Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (83 percent ) of Haredim are in favor of segregated roads and 71 percent are in favor of transfer.

The ultra-Orthodox are also the most anti-Arab group – 70 percent of them support legally barring Israeli Arabs from voting, 82 percent support preferential treatment from the state toward Jews, and 95 percent are in favor of discrimination against Arabs in admission to workplaces.

The group classifying itself as religious is the second most anti-Arab. New immigrants from former Soviet states are closer in their views of the Palestinians to secular Israelis, and are far less radical than the religious and Haredi groups. However, the number of people who answered “don’t know” in the “Russian” community was higher than in any other.

The Russians register the highest rate of satisfaction with life in Israel (77 percent ) and the secular Israelis the lowest – only 63 percent. On average, 69 percent of Israelis are satisfied with life in Israel.

Secular Israelis appear to be the least racist – 68 percent of them would not mind having Arab neighbors in their apartment building, 73 percent would not mind Arab students in their children’s class and 50 percent believe Arabs should not be discriminated against in admission to workplaces.

The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.

The survey conductors say perhaps the term “apartheid” was not clear enough to some interviewees. However, the interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel’s character as “apartheid” already today, without annexing the territories. Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an “apartheid state” and said “there’s no apartheid at all.”

In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced “in a few fields”; 19 percent believe “there’s apartheid in many fields” and 11 percent do not know.

The “Russians,” as the survey calls them, display the most objection to classifying their new country as an apartheid state. A third of them – 35 percent – believe Israel practices no apartheid at all, compared to 28 percent of the secular and ultra-Orthodox communities, 27 percent of the religious and 30 percent of the observant Jews who hold that view. Altogether, 58 percent of all the groups believe Israel practices apartheid “in a few fields” or “in many fields,” while 11 percent don’t know.

Finally, the interviewees were asked whether “a famous American author [who] is boycotting Israel, claiming it practices apartheid” should be boycotted or invited to Israel. About half (48 percent ) said she should be invited to Israel, 28 percent suggest no response and only 15 percent call to boycott her.

Quakers Divest from Veolia and HP

Some great news on the BDS front from the US Campaign to End the Occupation:

The US Campaign is thrilled to announce that the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) has become the first U.S. national fund to divest from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Veolia Environment following concerns expressed by Palestinian rights advocates about the companies’ involvement in the Israeli occupation. At last count, FFC held investments of more than $250,000 in HP and more than $140,000 in Veolia.

Click here to thank FFC for divesting from HP and Veolia!

FFC handles investments for over 300 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the U.S., with over $200 million in assets. According to the Executive Director of FFC, Hewlett Packard was dropped for providing information technology consulting services to the Israeli Navy, while Veolia Environment was removed due to “environmental and social concerns.”

The decision followed advocacy from member group Palestine Israel Action Group of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting (AAFM), which also successfully urged FFC to divest its $900,000 in Caterpillar shares in May. FFC has a “zero tolerance for weapons and weapons components” and said, “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.” Caterpillar produces and sells bulldozers to Israel that are weaponized and used to violate Palestinian rights and destroy Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals, olive groves, and lives.

The US Campaign commends AAFM and FFC, which made its recent decision, in line with FFC’s principled commitment to investment in companies that “contribute positively to a peaceful, sustainable world.”

HP maintains a biometric ID system used in Israeli checkpoints for racial profiling; manages the Israeli Navy’s IT infrastructure; and supplies the Israeli army with other equipment and services used to maintain its military occupation. Veolia is involved in a light rail linking illegal Israeli settlements with cities in Israel; it operates segregated bus lines through the occupied West Bank; and it operates a landfill and a waste water system that dumps Israeli waste on Palestinian land.

2012 will truly be remembered as a landmark year of victories in the global campaign to hold corporations accountable for profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and international law:

Earlier this month, the dining services of Earlham College, another Quaker institution, stopped selling Sabra products in response to concerns from students and faculty about the company’s links to the Israeli army. Other campuses have de-shelved Sabra recently. BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Earlham, a member group of the US Campaign, continues its exciting campaign to convince the college to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and HP.

Shortly thereafter, the Student Union of the massive University of California (UC) system voted to protect students’ rights to advocate BDS on campus and demanded that UC stop profiting from Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights. The motion passed by a vote of 12 to 0 (with 2 abstentions).

And of course, Morgan Stanley Capital Investment decided this year to remove the company from its list of socially responsible companies, prompting financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest more than $72 million in Caterpillar shares previously held in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Fund (though the company still holds Caterpillar shares in other funds). This was a major victory for the We Divest Campaign, the largest coalition-led U.S. divestment campaign in the country, which calls on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation, including Veolia and HP.

These are just a few of the extraordinary victories this year in the movement to end U.S. institutional support for Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. Many more are surely on the way, as many campaigns forge ahead. This Thursday, September 27, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear arguments in an appeal brought by member group Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign against the Minnesota State Board of Investment.

Let’s continue to show our support for corporate accountability by clicking here to thank FFC for divesting from Veolia and HP!

United Church of Canada approves boycott of settlement products

On Wednesday, August 15 the General Council of the three-million member strong United Church of Canada (UCC) voted to approve comprehensive policy on Israel/Palestine, including the boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. The vote was re-confirmed by members on Friday, August 17.

The policy also said the United Church policy would include “continue to identify the end of the occupation as necessary for peace in the region” and affirmed that “non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified and should be supported by all who seek and end to the occupation.”

It also calls for education and economic action directed against settlement products and directs “the Executive of the General Council to explore the wisdom of divesting in companies that are profiting from or supporting the occupation” and “requesting that the Canadian government ensure that all products produced in the settlements be labelled clearly and differently from products of Israel.”

You can read the full details of the resolution.

The policy was passed after seven hours of debate with what United Church officals said was a vote “substantially in favour” of the boycott motion. The resolution comes after the United Church released on May 1, 2012 its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy.

This action by the UCC, Canada’s largest Protestant mainline denomination, follows moves by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA), two large mainline Protestant Christian denominations in the United States, which both adopted boycott motions targeting settlement products at their membership general assemblies in May and July 2012.

Below is a round-up of some of the reaction and press coverage in response to this historic win for the BDS movement in Canada, and was only possible due to years of work and education carried out by people of conscience within the UCC working in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Reaction

Independent Jewish Voices commends United Church for finalizing stand against Israeli occupation

BIAC congratulates United Church of Canada on settlement boycott

CJPME: In historic vote – United Church will boycott “Settlements” and United Church approves boycott as official church policy

Canadian Friends of Peace Now: CIJA’s Outrage is Outrageous, Says CFPN (in response to the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs’ reaction to the vote)

Media Coverage

Electronic Intifada: United Church of Canada adopts resolution to boycott Israeli settlement products

Toronto Star: United Church members vote for boycott of products from Israeli settlements

Globe & Mail: United Church of Canada approves Israeli settlement boycott

Globe & Mail Op-ed by Thomas Woodley of CJPME: The United Church boycott is in keeping with its principles

rabble.ca: Israeli settlements and the United Church boycott: Responding to three common distortions

Postmedia: United Church approves controversial boycott of some Israeli products

Huffington Post: Israel Boycott: United Church Of Canada Will Not Buy Products From Settlements

Haaretz: Canada’s largest Protestant church approves boycott of Israeli settlement products

Palestinian prisoners reportedly agree to end hunger strike

Just after midnight on May 15 (the day Palestinians mark the Nakba, or catastrophe), a deal has reportedly been struck to end the hunger strike, which for Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Thiab had reached its 77th day.

Below is the Electronic Intifada’s Linah Alsaafin’s blog on how she heard about the deal from Thaer Halahleh’s family.

EI’s Ali Abunimah also blogs about the deal here, offering the warning, “Media reports of an overall deal, which have cited almost exclusively Israeli and Palestinian Authority sources, should be treated with caution and are difficult to independently verify as Israel severely restricts the access of media, lawyers and family members to prisoners.”

You can also read about the deal via Al Jazeera English, Ma’an News Agency, Huffington Post, Haaretz, and the New York Times.

What Thaer Halahleh’s family told me about his release brings joy, but raises troubling questions

At around 1:30am Palestine local time I was lying on my side in my bed trying to sleep and doing my best to ignore the queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach as I thought about how the 64th commemoration of Nakba Day would pan out.

My phone suddenly vibrated jarringly. I grabbed it and the name of the last person I expected to call me was flashing on the screen: Abu Thaer Halahleh, the father of Palestinian hunger striker Thaer Halahleh. I immediately answered.

What I learned in the conversation was a cause for both joy, and serious concern about a pattern of pressure to isolate prisoners and coerce them into accepting deals.

“Hello?”

“Hello…is this Um Muhammad?”

“No, this is her daughter. Is that Fathiya?”

“Yes, it’s me, Thaer’s sister.”

My heart stopped. I thought she had called to tell me Thaer had died. She cleared her throat. “I just want to tell you…I’m happy to tell you that Thaer has taken the decision to end his hunger strike in the morning.”

My heart swelled. “Tell me more!” I almost shouted.

“He will be released on 5 June after Israel signed a contract promising not to renew his detention… during that time he will receive medical aid to help his recuperation.” Fathiya was bubbling with happiness.

“What about Bilal Thiab and the other hunger strikers?”

“I’m not sure yet about Bilal…Thaer called my family in Kharas at around 12:45 am to inform them of the news. People in Kharas fired their guns in the air at 1 am when they heard the news. The mosques’ loudspeakers carried the call of ‘Allahu Akbar’ at that time too. My family immediately called my father to tell him the news but he didn’t believe him. Thaer was allowed to make another call to my house, and we almost didn’t pick up because it was a private number…anyway, talk to my father.”

“Uncle! This is fantastic news!” I said to Abu Thaer.

“Yes, my daughter, thank God. You heard he was to be released on 5 June?”

“Yes…tell me, how did he sound on the phone? What was it like talking to him again after two years?”

“His spirits are high, and his voice…well you know, it’s a good thing he can even talk after 77 days on hunger strike. But one thing he said struck me hard. He told me that if I wasn’t satisfied with his decision he was ready to continue his hunger strike.”

I asked him if he knew more information. He told me that all administrative detainees signed a deal with the Israeli Prison Service (brokered by an Egyptian mediator) to end their hunger strike in return for getting released once their detention was up, with Israel promising not to renew their detention.

“This means that Bilal Thiab will be released in August, because that’s when his administrative detention ends,” Thaer’s dad said.

Bilal was arrested on 17 August 2011.

“I don’t know if Bilal will be released on August 17 or not,” continued Thaer’s dad. “You know how it is with the occupation. They will find any excuse to postpone the release of a prisoner even by a few days. Thaer’s administrative detention ends on May 27 but he is getting released a week later.”

Deal raises new questions over role of Jawad Boulos and pressure on hunger strikers

The deal was struck after midnight, in the Ramle prison hospital. It is not known for sure whether Thaer and Bilal’s lawyer, Jamil Khatib was present, but Jawad Boulos, the lawyer who conducted the deals for Khader Adnan and the even murkier one with Hana al-Shalabi was there.

Israel has consistently denied prisoners access to their lawyers of choice, so there is special reason to be concerned when Israel allows lawyers who do not represent the prisoners into the room.

On 14 May, Maan News Agency reported that Issa Qaraqe, a Palestinian Authority minister, had told media that Boulos had been dispatched to Ramle Prison to speak to Thaer Halahleh and fellow long-term hunger striker Bilal Diab.

The Egyptian mediator, the Higher Committee for prisoners, and the Israel Prison Service officials were also there.

Boulos was the key figure in the deal which ended up with Hana al-Shalabi being banished to Gaza for three years on 1 April in exchange for releasing her from administrative detention.

Boulos and Palestinian Authority officials claimed that this was al-Shalabi’s “choice,” but this was challenged by Hana’s father and by Hana herself in an interview with The Electronic Intifada:

In her comments to The Electronic Intifada, al-Shalabi demanded that her lawyer [Boulos] clarify to her and to the public the controversial circumstances surrounding the deal to send her to Gaza.

Al-Shalabi’s account casts doubt on the claims that it was her “choice” and confirm that she may have received misleading information in order to induce her to accept the deal.

Is there a pattern here? It does look like Israel and those working with it to end the strike are creating conditions where prisoners are isolated from family, their own legal representation and independent medical personnel and then a “good cop” lawyer of Israel’s and the Palestinian Authority’s choice is brought in to pressure them to accept a deal.

This has now become a pattern with Boulos and there must be clarity and accountability.

A deal, but is it a victory?

Thaer’s father was speaking to me outside on a street, waiting for a taxi to take him back home to Kharas in Hebron. He hadn’t slept for three days.

“You better prepare the mansaf,” I joked.

“Of course. I’ll be waiting for you and your mother to come down to Kharas,” he laughed.

The fact that Thaer and Bilal and the other six hunger strikers in their second or third month without food will survive is a cause for great happiness. Yet this deal doesn’t seem like a victory.

Thaer and Bilal have vowed over and over again that they will not end their fast until immediate freedom or martyrdom, and with the involvement of Jawad Boulos in the arrangement similar to that of Khader Adnan’s, there seems to be more to it than meets the eye.

Palestinian hunger striker told he ‘could die any moment’

Below is the Electronic Intifada‘s latest update (May 10) on the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners. To support the hunger strikers, you can:

Thaer Halahleh has been told he “could die any moment,” by an Israeli prison doctor, as the gravely ill Palestinian who is held without charge or trial by Israel, completed his 73rd day of hunger strike.

Meanwhile, there have been continued solidarity protests in Palestine against international neglect of the estimated 2,000 Palestinian hunger strikers, and new expressions of solidarity.

Halahleh recounted the warning he was given to a lawyer from Addameer who was allowed to visit Halahleh and three other hunger strikers at Ramle prison clinic.

According to an Addameer statement today (full text below), Thaer “now weighs 55 kg. He has exceedingly low blood pressure and his temperature is fluctuating at dangerous levels. In addition to vomiting blood, Thaer is also bleeding from his gums and lips.”

Despite his dire physical condition, Halahleh is mentally “still strong” according to Addameer’s lawyer.

Halahleh is still being denied family visits by Israeli authorities, and by keeping him in Ramle prison clinic instead of transferring him to hospital, Israel continues to deny him medically necessary treatment.

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel issued another urgent call on 9 May to Israeli authorities to end such medical malpractices and transfer long-term hunger strikers to hospital.

Warning about long-term hunger strikers

Three other hunger strikers held at Ramle, Mohammad Taj (54 days), Jaafar Azzedine (50 days) and Nidal Shehadeh (24 days) are suffering physically and being kept in “isolated rooms,” according to Addameer.

Addameer also reiterated its urgent concern for the lives of Bilal Diab (73 days), Hassan Safadi (67 days) and Omar Abu Shalal (65 days) whose critical conditions are being “blatantly disregarded by Israel and the prison authorities.”

Protests at ICRC inaction

Families of prisoners and other protestors today blocked the entrance of the International Red Crescent (ICRC) in al-Bireh near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank today to protest the perceived inaction of the organization. Ma’an News Agency reported:

Family members prevented employees from entering the building, calling on the UN to intervene to protect hunger strikers, a Ma’an correspondent said.

Protesters said they opposed the negative role which the Red Crescent plays in relation to the issue of prisoners and called on international organizations to stop Israeli violations against Palestinian detainees.

Yesterday, protesters blockaded the entrance of the UN offices in Ramallah, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to issue a statement urging Israel to avert “any further deterioration in the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike,” and that those held without charge “must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees, or released without delay.”

70-day Irish hunger striker Lawrence McKeown sends message to Thaer and Bilal

In 1981, Laurence McKeown took part in the Irish Hunger Strike that was led by Bobby Sands. McKeown endured 70 days without food before ending his fast. He sent this video message to Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab.

Full text of Addameer statement

Update: Situation of Long-Term Hunger Strikers Becomes Increasingly Urgent

Ramallah, 10 May 2012 – Addameer lawyer Mona Neddaf visited four hunger strikers in Ramleh prison medical clinic today, including Thaer Halahleh, now on his 73rd day of hunger strike. According to Ms. Neddaf, Thaer’s condition continues to deteriorate. The prison doctor has said to Thaer that he could die at any moment. Thaer has lost significant weight, and now weighs 55 kg. He has exceedingly low blood pressure and his temperature is fluctuating at dangerous levels. In addition to vomiting blood, Thaer is also bleeding from his gums and lips. The prison doctor also told him that he now has an infection in part of his body. Thaer is drinking water, but not taking any vitamins or minerals. Though he is very weak, Ms. Neddaf reported that mentally he is still strong. Thaer was supposed to receive a visit from his family today, but the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) cancelled the visit yesterday.

The health of Mohammad Taj, now on his 54th day of hunger strike, is also at a dangerous level. In addition, Jaafar Azzedine, on his 50th day of hunger strike, reported that he had stopped drinking water for a short period but has started to drink again, with minerals and vitamins. Nidal Shehadeh, who began his hunger strike on 17 April as part of the mass hunger strike, was moved back from a public hospital to Ramleh prison two days prior. He is on hunger strike in protest of receiving inadequate medical treatment while in prison.

Ms. Neddaf noted that all the prisoners on hunger strike in Ramleh prison are in isolated rooms. She further reported that they continue to be threatened by the IPS. Even at this stage of hunger strike, they have been told that if they do not stand for the “daily count”, they will not be permitted lawyer visits.

Addameer fears for the lives of Thaer, Bilal Diab, also on his 73rd day of hunger strike, Hassan Safadi, who is now on his 67th day of hunger strike, Omar Abu Shalal, who is now on his 65th day of hunger strike, and all the other prisoners on hunger strike whose critical conditions are being blatantly disregarded by Israel and the prison authorities. Addameer reiterates its call for immediate action on behalf of the hunger strikers.

United Church of Canada releases Israel/Palestine policy report

The United Church of Canada on May 1 released the report of its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy. The report will be considered by the denomination’s 41st General Council, which meets in Ottawa, August 11–18, 2012. Until that time the working group’s report is not policy of the church, and its proposals are solely recommendations.

Download the complete text of the working group’s report or download the FAQs.

The following is the media release of the report:

Former United Church Moderator, the Very Rev. David Giuliano, chaired the three-member working group. He says the working group believes that the dignity of all peoples in the region must be at the heart of any United Church policy directions.

“Without dignity for all the people of the land, and for the land itself, justice that leads to peace is not possible,” says Giuliano.

The 26-page report was completed following extensive consultation, including a 12-day visit to the region in February 2011. During that visit the working group met with representatives of Palestinian, Israeli, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities in Israel and the West Bank.

Giuliano says the working group listened carefully to many points of view from all perspectives in the conflict, but did not shy away from arriving at its own conclusions about a situation that is long past the point where claims of complexity can remove responsibility for making judgments.

Foremost is the conclusion that the first step to peace is to end the occupation.

“Simply put, Israel is maintaining a harsh occupation that must end so peace can emerge. The occupation is damaging both Palestinians and Israelis. The occupation is being implemented by a democratic country and sustained and supported by Western governments, including Canada’s,” says the report.

“The future of Israel and of Palestine are intimately intertwined,” says Giuliano. “Until Palestinian people experience justice, peace, and freedom of movement, Israel will be unable to fully claim its place among democratic nations.”

In terms of economic sanctions, Giuliano explains that the working group encountered its greatest challenge in considering the implications of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

In the end the working group decided to call for an economic boycott focused exclusively on settlement products. Their recommendation is for the United Church to establish “a church-wide campaign of economic action directed against one or more settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories.”

“What we’re calling for is a focused boycott of products that are being created illegally,” explains Giuliano. “To buy settlement products is the same as buying stolen goods—in other words, benefiting from the crime.” He adds, however, “This is not a call for a boycott of Israel or Israeli products.”

The working group advises against the use of the language of apartheid when applied to Israel. Their report argues that “the charge of apartheid applied to Israel shuts down conversation, disempowers those who desire and work for change in Israel, and does more to harm than to help the potential for successful peace negotiations.”

Giuliano notes that although the report acknowledges the challenging reality of a “new antisemitism,” which is expressed as hatred of the Jewish state, the working group does not believe that criticism of Israel is in itself antisemitic.

“Criticisms of Israel vary significantly and must be judged by their intent,” explains Giuliano. “Criticism that questions Israel’s right to exist or that seeks to undermine its legitimacy as a state is unacceptable.”

At the same time, Giuliano adds, Israel can and should be held to a higher standard than surrounding non-democratic countries or authoritarian regimes. He says the working group believes, “It is precisely because of Israel’s commitment to democratic ideals that Israel needs to be challenged on its policies around the occupation.”

The report also says that United Church policy should identify and support initiatives that work toward the creation of a viable Palestinian state. The two-state model is widely recognized as the key option for the future of Israel/Palestine. However, as Israel continues to expand settlements and control water and productive land, a viable Palestinian state becomes less and less possible.

“The working group understands that for Palestinians the longing for a homeland is just as pervasive and deep as it was for Jews, who dreamed of a Jewish homeland for millennia,” comments Giuliano.

He adds that church policy must honour the right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians. The choice of one or two states must be made by the peoples themselves. In whatever situation emerges, ending Israel’s military occupation must be the starting point.

The working group is also deeply concerned that the occupation, particularly the building of settlements, is being supported financially and politically by Christian Zionist movements throughout North America. These organizations and churches operate out of a theology that the working group believes to be false.

“The impact of Christian Zionism must be countered by those in the Christian community who reject these false beliefs,” says Giuliano.

The working group’s report notes that, although “the United Church recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state within safe and secure internationally recognized borders,” the church has previously not defined what it means by the term Jewish state.

“Our use of the term ‘Jewish state’ has become confusing and problematic for some partners of the United Church and for many inside and outside the church,” explains Giuliano.

The working group therefore recommends that “any United Church affirmation of Israel as a Jewish state must be accompanied with a clear explanation of its meaning: specifically, as a homeland for the Jewish people and a democratic state that ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or gender.

Using the same logic, the report proposes that a future Palestinian state would also be a homeland for the Palestinian people. It also recommends supporting “a negotiated settlement to the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees that maintains the demographic integrity of Israel,” and acknowledges that “It is unacceptable to insist that Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition of continuing negotiations.”

In the biblical and theological introduction to the report, the working group notes that “we are called to respect the witness that the land of Israel and Palestine has offered through thousands of years.”

“While much of this history has been clouded by violence and oppression, empires and occupation, exile and return, this land has also been shaped by an awareness of the sacred and transcendent. Whether it is the night journey of Muhammad, the vision of Solomon, or the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, here heaven and earth have come close to each other. The integrity of the three world faiths represented by the land of Israel/Palestine is at stake in how this conflict is resolved,” says the report.

“What happens in this land matters to the world,” adds Giuliano.

Independent Jewish Voices condemns Jason Kenney’s attack on free speech

Independent Jewish Voices, one of the endorsers of Edmonton’s Israeli Apartheid Week, has issued the following statement in response to Jason Kenney’s statement on Israeli Apartheid Week. IJV is also a signatory to an open letter signed by 54 organizations from across Canada which responded to Kenney’s statement.

IJV Canada Condemns Jason Kenney’s Attack on Free Speech

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2012

Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada) is demanding that Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney apologize and retract his defamatory statement in which he condemned Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) and its organizers as anti-Semitic.

IJV Canada is a proud sponsor of IAW. Does the Minister believe IJV Canada is also anti-Semitic?

The planning of local IAW events involves Jewish organizers (including IJV members), underscoring the absurdity of Kenney’s implication that the week-long education event is anti-Semitic. And ironically, his claim that IAW “disregards the rights and safety of Jewish students and professors” itself disregards the rights of Jewish students, professors, and community members to voice legitimate criticism of two governments – one in Israel and one in Canada – which both misleadingly claim to speak for them.

And while rooting his opposition to IAW on the pretence of ensuring “academic discourse can take place freely”, attacks on free speech like this latest from Minister Kenney make it much more difficult for academic discourse to take place freely.

Kenney’s claim that IAW organizers are “singling out the only liberal democracy in the Middle East for condemnation” is highly dubious. Firstly, if anyone is singling out Israel, it’s Kenney himself. He’s singling it out for exemption from international law. It’s time for an end to the impunity Israel enjoys in its continued violation of international law. Secondly, we agree with Palestinians living in Israel who are still waiting for democracy (not to mention respect for their rights). IJV members were in the streets in Canada in solidarity with the movements for democracy in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere in the region. We don’t remember seeing you or others in your caucus there Mr. Kenney.

Mr. Kenney claims that “organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week use the cover of academic freedom to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel”. Firstly, academic freedom is not a cover. It’s a principle, and one which Kenney clearly opposes. Secondly, if anyone is delegitimizing the state of Israel, it is the Israeli government through its wanton killing and collective punishment of civilians, ongoing human rights abuses, warmongering, occupation, and segregation.

Kenney claims that IAW is “overrun by hatred and intolerance”. IAW organizers and speakers welcome constructive discussion and diverse views. It is apologists for Israeli government crimes who spew hatred and intolerance.

Mr. Kenney has a long record of undermining free speech. He was a driving force for the Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA), which IJV and others have exposed in a recent video as a front group for the pro-Israel lobby. IJV Canada believes that the purpose of this extra-parliamentary committee is to undermine free speech in this country.

Mr. Kenney has also championed the defunding of human rights and social justice groups like the Canadian Arab Federation, KAIROS, and Palestine House for taking (real or perceived) positions critical of federal government policy regarding Israel / Palestine. He attempted (and failed) to ban George Galloway from entering Canada for public speaking events and he has actively sought to deport war resisters, to name just a few examples.

It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. In fact, as a Jewish human rights organization with members and Chapters in major Canadian cities, we believe that we have a moral obligation to do so.

Calling Israel’s policies an apartheid regime is a legitimate political position. Those who claim otherwise simply provide cover for Israel’s violations of international law and don’t seem to care much about free speech.

But we will not be silenced.

We stand with IAW and its organizers. And we will continue to work hand in hand with the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, until Israel complies with international law.

Web: http://ijvcanada.org/ | Twitter: @JewishCanada

Joint statement on Jason Kenney’s condemnation of IAW

 

Fifty-four organizations from across Canada, including Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton, have signed onto a joint statement in response to Jason Kenney’s recent condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012. The full text of the statement and its signatories is below, or you can download the pdf here.

Joint Statement on Minister Jason Kenney’s condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week
March 9, 2012

As organizations and groups committed to protecting freedom of expression and public debate on Palestine/Israel, we demand that Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney immediately retract his March 7th statement “condemning Israel Apartheid Week”.

This statement is the Conservative government’s latest attempt to silence activist groups and organizations in Canada that act or speak in support of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. While Kenney’s statement claims to value “free exchanges of ideas” and “academic dialogue,” his targeted condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week events on Canadian universities this week (and in previous years) is a blatant attempt to shut down free expression for Palestine solidarity on campus.

The Harper government’s track record clearly reveals that it does not actually value the university as “an environment in which academic discourse can take place freely”. Indeed, it has been actively involved in undermining this ideal that it claims to uphold. In 2009 the Conservative Minister of State (Science and Technology), Gary Goodyear was widely criticized by Faculty for Palestine and academics across the country for his unprecedented and dangerous acts of state political interference in the public funding of an academic conference. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) called for the Minister’s resignation around this incident, finding it “simply unacceptable” for the Minister to engage in any act that “compromises the integrity and public purpose of universities”. The sole target of the Minister’s actions was an academic conference at York University titled Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace. His actions were so egregious that they have since been the subject of two major inquiries, one of which is written up in the newly published book titled No Debate: The Israel lobby and free speech at Canadian universities.

Free expression on Canadian campuses, including both academic discourse and political analysis, must be protected from these kinds of political interference and all attempts of censorship. Unlike the Conservative government, we encourage and invite open debate and discussion on the full spectrum of views on the Israel/Palestine conflict. As public events on university campuses, IAW talks are open to anyone who wishes to attend and is willing to participate within the standard regulations governing debate and events on university campuses.

For eight years, Israeli Apartheid Week has provided a model for free and open discussion by providing a week-long series of public lectures by academics and activists on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Currently IAW events are held on campuses in over 100 cities around the world. Many of these lectures address, in a factual manner, the nature of Israeli rule of a Palestinian population of some five million people within the borders which it controls and the effects of the exclusion of a similar number of Palestinian refugees. This system of blockade, occupation, settlement, discrimination and exclusion has been described as a form of
apartheid by a wide range of scholars, journalists, activists, politicians, UN officials and legal experts including former Minister of Government in South Africa Ronnie Kasrils and former Special Rapporteur to the UN Commission on Human Rights John Dugard. IAW events examine these conditions while also building awareness for the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel as called for by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations in 2005.

The recent welcome for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ottawa is just the latest indicator of where the current government stands on this issue. It is a serious threat to democratic interchange that the Harper Conservatives use their position as government to try to shut down discussion and debate on their uncritical support for every action of the Israeli state, including ongoing violations of international law and the human rights of Palestinians.
Israeli Apartheid Week has played an important role in opening up this discussion. This has been recognized by Palestinians, Jewish anti-Zionists, and South Africans including Bishop Desmond Tutu, and journalist Naomi Klein. Israeli Apartheid Week has always condemned anti-Semitism and all forms or racism including Islamophobia, and will continue to do so.

Endorsing signatories:

Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (BIAC) – Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
Canada Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet)
Canadian Arab Federation (CAF)
Canadian Boat to Gaza
Canadian Peace Alliance
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)
Centre for Social Justice
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) – Toronto
Coalition of Arab Canadian Professionals and Community Associations (CAPCA)
College and University Workers United (CUWU, Montreal)
Edmonton Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (EQuAIA)
Edmonton Small Press Association (ESPA)
Educators for Peace and Justice (EPJ)
Faculty for Palestine – F4P (Toronto)
Faculty 4 Palestine (F4P Alberta)
Faculty 4 Palestine (F4P Carleton)
Greater Toronto Workers Assembly (GTWA)
Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV)
Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)
Labour for Palestine
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network
The Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle – Toronto
National Council of Latin American and Caribbean Women of Canada – LATIN@S
New Socialist Group
Nightslantern Suppressed News
No One Is Illegal Toronto
Not In Our Name: Jews Opposed to Zionism (NION)
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty – OCAP
OPIRG – Toronto
Palestine House Educational and Cultural Centre
Palestine Solidarity Working Group, Laurentian University, Sudbury
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
Peace Alliance Winnipeg
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA)
Regina Solidarity Group
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Seriously Free Speech Committee
Socialist Project
SPHR UWO – Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at Western University
SPHR Ryerson
SPHR – UBC
Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University – Carleton
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA)- Regina
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) – University of Toronto
Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at York University
Tadamon! – Montreal
Teachers for Palestine (T4P) – Toronto
Toronto Bolivia Solidarity
Toronto Coalition to Stop the War (TCSW)
Winnipeg CAIA
Women in Solidarity with Palestine (WSP)

Dalit Baum interview in Vue Weekly

This week’s Vue Weekly features an interview with Dalit Baum, who will present at next week’s Israeli Apartheid Week on Occupy the Occupation: Corporations, Profit and the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, Thursday, March 8 (7:00 – 9:00 pm) at the Engineering, Teaching and Learning Complex (ETLC) Room E 2-002 (East of 116 Street between 91 and 92 Avenues, U of A Campus).

Who profits?
Activist Dalit Baum will discuss the financial side of Israel’s occupation

Bryan Birtles / bryan@vueweekly.com

When the call from Palestinian civil society came out in 2005 for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against illegal Israeli settlements, a big piece of the puzzle was missing: not a lot of people knew what kind of products were being manufactured in the settlements, nor which companies were profiting by having their products utilized to facilitate the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Enter Dalit Baum, who will deliver one of the keynote speeches at this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week in Edmonton. Her work with Who Profits from the Occupation, a research initiative she co-founded in Israel, as well as her more recent work in the United States with the economic activism for Palestine program at San Francisco’s Global Exchange, provides context and information about which companies are making money through the systematic discrimination of Palestinians. This research helps inform campaigns all over the world, dealing with issues far beyond the occupation of Palestine.

“The same corporations that limit civil liberties [in Israel] are the same corporations that manufacture tear gas used on the Occupy demonstrators are the same corporations involved with the privatization of prisons [in the US],” explains Baum of the scope of her research. “It’s not just about educating people about what’s going on in Palestine, it’s way beyond that.”

These campaigns are having an effect, says Baum, and their successes are threefold. Not only has the BDS campaign built a worldwide network of activists able to put pressure onto a corporation from a number of different angles, it has also forced Israelis to take a hard look at the policies of their government, as every new boycott becomes big news inside the country. Perhaps most importantly, the BDS campaign is having an effect on the ground, in the illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

“If you look at the settlement industry and the production in settlements, it’s failing,” Baum says. “We have a series of big corporations that have announced they will pull their production from these sites because they’re afraid of litigation, because it’s illegal according to international law, because they don’t want to be involved in something viewed so unfavourably in Europe and they have business in Europe, because of all these reasons. We are building a movement that is not only relevant locally but also has some traction and effect on the ground. We didn’t have that before.”

As a queer activist in addition to an anti-Apartheid activist, “pinkwashing” is something Baum has dealt with for years. Seeking to discredit the anti-Apartheid movement, opponents will call Israel “the only democracy” in the Middle East or proclaim it the only country in the region with respect for gay rights. Baum rejects these arguments as propaganda.

“Why all of a sudden do you care about gay and lesbian Palestinians when you don’t care about them any other day of the week?” she asks rhetorically. “It’s preposterous how this is used as a form of propaganda … when people hear how Israel actually treats, for example, queer Palestinian youth looking for asylum—they don’t give these people any kind of asylum.

“There’s seven million Israeli citizens and then four million Palestinians who have no civil rights but are controlled by the same government—that’s a very flawed democracy.”

University of Regina SU joins the global movement of BDS

Congratulations to Students Against Israeli Apartheid – Regina (SAIA) and the University of Regina Student Union for joining the global movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel!

From the Regina Solidarity Group:

Students Against Israeli Apartheid – Regina (SAIA) is pleased to announce that a motion was passed at the University of Regina Student Union AGM to support the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) as a means of pressuring Israel to comply with international and human rights law. This resolution is a huge first step towards the full divestment of the University of Regina from companies complicit with the human rights violations currently taking place in Palestine. Plans are already in motion for SAIA, together with the University of Regina Student Union (URSU) and other members of the community, to begin investigating URSU’s portfolio for companies that support or profit from Israeli war crimes, as well as collectively launching an education campaign on campus about the issue.

SAIA would like to thank everyone who came out to vote for the resolution and all those who have been supporting and organizing around this issue within the community. There will be a lot of work to do before the end of the school year – if anyone is interested in joining the group please feel free to contact us at saiauofr@gmail.com. Thanks for all the support!

Sincerely,

SAIA Regina

RESOLUTION TO JOIN THE GLOBAL MOVEMENT IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS

February 1, 2012

WHERAS Israel is currently in defiance of over 30 UN Security Council Resolutions pertaining to its illegal military occupation of Palestine and is in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law under the Geneva Conventions, as affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2004;

WHEREAS Israel systematically obstructs Palestinian students’ right to education through military checkpoints and roadblocks, the illegal apartheid wall, and the frequent closure of cities, routinely preventing thousands of students and teachers from reaching their schools and universities;

WHEREAS on July 9, 2005, 171 Palestinian organizations called upon people of conscience around the world to implement a global campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era;

WHEREAS students around the world, from York to Concordia, Carleton, UC Berkeley, McGill, the University of Toronto and New York University have been at the forefront of this global movement by campaigning for divestment of university funds from companies that support or profit from Israel’s illegal occupation and systematic denial of Palestinian human rights;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the University of Regina Student Union:

Recognize that the right to education is a fundamental human right that is basic to human freedom;

Join student organizations around the globe by endorsing the 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions from Palestinian civil society;

Commit to identifying and divesting from companies that support or profit from Israeli war crimes, occupation and oppression;

Affirm that students have a vital role in supporting struggles for social justice, and stand in solidarity with Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination and freedom.