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Is Scarlett Johansson’s SS Super Bowl Deal Blood Money? – UPDATED

11:27 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Scarlett Johansson endorsing Apartheid

Actress Scarlett Johansson‘s next premiere will be in an ad aired at Super Bowl XLVIII, on February 2nd, during the 4th quarter.  The sponsor, Sodastream, is an Israeli company whose main facilities are illegally located in Area C of the Occupied West Bank of Palestine, in the industrial zone known as Mishor Adumim.  Her involvement with a company being boycotted by the Global BDS campaign and others has garnered some attention since the relationship was announced earlier this month.  Most criticism has centered around Johansson’s volunteer role as a spokesperson and activist for Oxfam, a 72-year-old NGO that works to “find solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world.”  Oxfam regards Israeli industrial activity in the Occupied West Bank as illegal.  Such conflicts with Oxfam volunteers have come up in the past:

Oxfam objected in 2009 when another ambassador, the American actress Kristin Davis, agreed to endorse Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics company that also has a factory in a West Bank settlement. After a wave of negative publicity, Ahava and Ms. Davis quickly parted ways.

 Oxfam is in touch with Johansson about the conflict.  Her niche at the NGO’s web page had this added late Wednesday:

We are proud of our relationship with Scarlett Johansson who has worked with Oxfam since 2005 to support Oxfam’s mission to end poverty and injustice. As an Oxfam Global Ambassador, she has travelled to India, Sri Lanka and Kenya to highlight the impact of traumatic disasters and chronic poverty, and she has helped to raise critical funds for life-saving and poverty-fighting work around the world. We deeply value her support.

Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors. However Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

We have made our concerns known to Ms. Johansson and we are now engaged in a dialogue on these important issues.

Up until late Thursday the story hadn’t been covered by any major U.S. media outlets. The Electronic Intafada and Mondoweiss have both run a number of articles on this through the week.  But Thursday, the New York Times posted a detailed article on-line about the controversy.  Super Bowl commercials are big deals in the advertising and endorsement worlds.  Sodastream has posted Youtube and other media promoting the upcoming commercials:

I have a number of questions on this that haven’t yet been answered:

1.  Was Johansson aware of the true state of affairs for the Palestinian workers at the Mishor Adumim factory when she signed on with Sodastream?  Last year, Sodastream posted a video touting the boon Sodastream’s illegal facility is for Palestinians who are employed there.  An anonymous worker refuted the claim at Electronic Intifada:

A professionally-produced video recently appeared on YouTube, taking the viewer on a carefully-constructed tour of the production facilities for the Israeli companySodaStream, manufacturer of carbonated drink machines.

The 8.5-minute video focuses on the firm’s factory located in Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of the illegal Israeli settlement Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, and its Palestinian workers. The underlying message throughout the video is that the company’s settlement factory is a “fantastic sanctuary of co-existence” and, despite being built on stolen Palestinian land, is beneficial to the Palestinian economy and workers.

The video was recently shown to M., a Palestinian employee of SodaStream who has worked on the assembly line at Mishor Adumim for a long time and lives under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. M. spoke to The Electronic Intifada on condition of anonymity.

His immediate reaction to the blissful setting presented in the video was one of shock.

“Lies”

“I feel humiliated and I am also disgraced as a Palestinian, as the claims in this video are all lies. We Palestinian workers in this factory always feel like we are enslaved,” M. said.

2.  Was Johansson aware that this lucrative product endorsement would most likely lead to a severance of her relationship with Oxfam?

3.  When working with Johansson on coming into a contract, was she informed by Sodastream’s agents, who must have been aware of a potential hazard, of the huge possible liability to the actress’s future career being their spokesperson represents? They certainly should have done that.  Johansson may be under pressure from her team for more public exposure, but Sodastream is under intense pressure.  Partially from BDS effectiveness, partially because the company’s model may have flaws, their stock is down 50% for 2013.

I’ve been a fan of many of Scarlett Johansson’s roles since The Horse Whisperer and Lost in Translation.  If she had better agents she might have won a major film acting award by now.

Whether or not she was a victim of people running her career here or knowingly has become a major spokesperson for Israeli apartheid will probably become known within the next ten days.

Too late to pull the ads.  Can Scarlett handle this upcoming blood money role well enough to actually do something positive for Palestinians living under apartheid in the weird zone her employer exploits 24-7?

UPDATE:  Friday 3:20 pm Alaska Time:

Scarlett Johansson has issued a statement which has been printed at Huffington Post.  It is brief and quite vague.  She does not appear to be ready to back away from SodaStream:

While I never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance as part of my affiliation with SodaStream, given the amount of noise surrounding that decision, I’d like to clear the air.

I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.

That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day. As part of my efforts as an Ambassador for Oxfam, I have witnessed first-hand that progress is made when communities join together and work alongside one another and feel proud of the outcome of that work in the quality of their product and work environment, in the pay they bring home to their families and in the benefits they equally receive.

I believe in conscious consumerism and transparency and I trust that the consumer will make their own educated choice that is right for them. I stand behind the SodaStream product and am proud of the work that I have accomplished at Oxfam as an Ambassador for over 8 years. Even though it is a side effect of representing SodaStream, I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future.

I’ll provide any further updates in the comments.

How Many Times Will Kerry Let Netanyahu Kick Him in the Nuts?

10:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

We don’t know yet.

Kerry & Netanyahu

“Netanyahu’s doing it because over the years he and most high-ranking Israeli officials have come to loath Americans.”

I.  Upon his return to do whatever he does in Israel and Palestine to push for some sort of a deal that both the Israelis and Palestinians can accommodate (an utterly impossible task), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was treated to this tirade by the Israeli Prime Minister:

Welcome back to Jerusalem, John. I want to use this opportunity to express once again my personal appreciation and the appreciation of the people of Israel for your unremitting personal efforts to advance peace between us and the Palestinians. I know that you’re committed to peace, I know that I’m committed to peace, but unfortunately, given the actions and words of Palestinian leaders, there’s growing doubt in Israel that the Palestinians are committed to peace.

A few days ago in Ramallah, President Abbas embraced terrorists as heroes. To glorify the murders of innocent women and men as heroes is an outrage. How can President Abbas says – how can he say that he stands against terrorism when he embraces the perpetrators of terrorism and glorifies them as heroes? He can’t stand against terrorists and stand with the terrorists. And I’m wondering what a young Palestinian would think when he sees the leader of the Palestinian people embrace people who axed innocent men and women – axed their heads or blew them up or riddled them with bullets – what’s a young Palestinian supposed to think about the future? What’s he supposed to think about what he should do vis-a-vis Israelis and vis-a-vis the state of Israel? So it’s not surprising that in recent weeks Israel has been subjected to a growing wave of terrorist attacks. President Abbas didn’t see fit to condemn these attacks, even after we learned that at least in one case – I stress, at least in one case – those who served and are serving in the Palestinian security forces took part in them.

Netanyahu is referring, in part, to the record of some of the imprisoned Palestinians whose release is being celebrated in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank. What he was doing, in the statement, was paying Kerry back for his moment of candor, when, back in early November, he warned:

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, warned Israel on Friday that it faced a third intifada if peace talks with the Palestinians failed.

During a visit to Israel aimed at putting the faltering peace process back on track, Mr Kerry told Israeli and Palestinian television that the alternative to success was a potential eruption of Palestinian violence.

‘The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” he said. “I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?’

It was strong language from America’s top diplomat, clearly frustrated at the lack of progress in a process in which he has personally invested considerable effort.

Using the Arabic word for uprising, it recalled the first and second Palestinian intifadas which ran from 1987 to 1993 and from 2000 to 2005. Each period of escalated violence claimed thousands of lives, with the toll particularly heavy on the Palestinian side.

The so-called “Peace Process” talks seem to be entering new levels of absurdity:

‘We’re not expecting a breakthrough on this trip,’ Martin Indyk, the State Department’s mediator on the conflict, said today in a supposedly-anonymous briefing on this week’s urgent round of peace talks in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Indyk said there is no ‘agreement’ between the parties, but Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking an agreement on a ‘framework’ for continued talks, not so different from the Clinton parameters of 2000. Indyk, a longtime advocate for Israel, said part of the framework is a possible announcement of final borders of a Palestinian state:

We’re trying to reach an understanding on what the final borders will be.

The briefing was supposedly anonymous– ‘with a Senior State Department Official who will be previewing the Secretary’s trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah this week’– but the first clue to Indyk’s identity came when the anonymous official mentioned his ’35-year experience on this particular conflict.” Then the briefing’s unnamed moderator outed him: “It’s an agreement on the terms, as Martin said– right– which has not been achieved in the past, at least in recent history.’

The talks will never get past Israeli demands that Palestine recognize the land stolen from the latter as “the Jewish State,” and Palestinian demands for a level of autonomy that would give them the same degree of statehood as Belize, Andorra, Singapore or Bermuda, to name similarly sized countries.

II.  Netanyahu isn’t kicking Kerry in the nuts because Kerry deserves it. He’s doing it because over the years he and most high-ranking Israeli officials have come to loath Americans. Even though the Obama administration’s record of supporting Israeli policies is perhaps the most disgustingly pro-Israeli in our country’s history, that matters less to the Israelis than that Obama is black and that they can sow seeds of distrust toward him in our country through Republican politicians, and through Democrats up for close elections in red states.  Is that cynical, or what?

The most disgustingly anti-American, anti-Obama interview I’ve read this week comes from The Times of Israel, in an interview of former U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren with the Times‘ David Horovitz. Justin Raimondo, in his first 2014 essay, got to the heart of the anti-Americanism in the interview:

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Former Ambassador Asks U.S. to Criminalize Support for Boycott Against Israel

11:25 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

From the Trinity Alps:

Phosphorous rains down on Gaza

Israeili phosphorous rains down on Gaza

More and more American and foreign academic organizations are looking closely at passing resolutions in support of Boycotting, Divesting from and Sanctioning (BDS) Israeli educational organizations and institutions, for their involvement in the illegal occupation of the West Bank, and for those institutions’ lack of concern for educational infrastructure in the Occupied Territories and in Gaza. This past week, two important American academic organizations have passed motions supporting Global BDS of Israel, and advocating the end of relations with Israeli academic institutions and organizations. Back in April, the Association for Asian American Studies voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Last week, the large and influential American Studies Association passed a resolution calling for academic boycott:

A powerful group of US scholars has voted to launch an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities. With a membership in the thousands, the group has become the largest academic collective to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

The American Studies Association (ASA) announced Monday that its nearly 5,000 members voted in favor of the boycott by a 2-to-1 margin on Sunday night. A total of 1,252 members voted on the issue, with 66 percent voting ‘yes’ and 30 percent voting ‘no.’ Three percent abstained from voting altogether.

The boycott calls on US schools and academic research groups to end all work with Israeli groups. It does allow individual Israeli scholars to still attend conferences and speak at American universities, as long as they do not do so in any official capacity of the government.

Yesterday, the Native American Studies Association passed a similar motion:

Another small North American academic association – the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) – decided this week to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

Ohio State English Prof. Chadwick Allen, president of the association and coordinator of American Indian studies at the university, wrote on the association’s website that the move followed a “member- generated” petition asking that the group “formally support the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural Institutions that was initiated by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.”

Some academic organizations have decided not to boycott Israeli academia. The American Association of University Professors (a group I have been a member of) voted against academic sanctions last spring. But the issue is still being debated there, with a recent volume of their journal being devoted to the subject. The Modern Language Association will take up BDS at a January meeting:

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Israel’s Prawer Plan: A New Trail of Tears

1:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Israeli government and Netanyahu administration are going ahead with plans to ethnically cleanse between 30,000 and 70,000 Bedouin Israeli citizens from the area of their ancient homeland into new abodes. It is the so-called Prawer Plan (or Prawer-Begin Plan):

The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently stated that carrying out such a relocation without Bedouin consent is a violation of international law.

OCHA also said that the proposed relocation site will put at risk the Bedouin peoples’ health and way of life. “The proposed site does not meet minimum standards in terms of distance from the municipal dumping grounds, which is likely to pose a health hazard to the communities, and provides limited access to grazing lands. Previously relocated families report negative consequences, including health concerns, loss of livelihood, deteriorated living conditions, loss of tribal cohesion and erosion of traditional lifestyles.”

It goes without saying, Israel needs to abandon this malicious plan to quite literally throw the Bedouin into the garbage.

These people being ethnically cleansed aren’t Palestinians residing in the West Bank or Gaza. They are Israeli citizens. Why are they being forcibly relocated?

The Israeli government on Sunday authorized construction plans for two new settlements in the southern Negev region, one of which is slated to be established on territory currently inhabited by a number of unrecognized Bedouin communities.

The planned establishment of Hiran and Kassif was announced during a special cabinet meeting that took place at the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute in Sde Boker to mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of Israel’s first prime minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision and declared that the step would further the vision propounded by David Ben-Gurion.

The plan will ‘expedite the development of the entire Negev,’ the prime minster said, adding that Ben-Gurion ‘very much wanted to achieve’ such a goal.

Over the past weekend, demonstrations in Israel, the West Bank, Europe, the USA and elsewhere were held, in solidarity with the Bedouin, who are being rewarded for generations of willing subservience to the Israeli state with something that can easily be compared with our own country’s southeast USA Trail of Tears, brutally enforced between 1831 and 1837:

In 1831 the Choctaw were the first to be removed, and they became the model for all other removals. After the Choctaw, the Seminole were removed in 1832, the Creek in 1834, then the Chickasaw in 1837, and finally the Cherokee in 1838. After removal, some Native Americans remained in their ancient homelands – the Choctaw are found in Mississippi, the Seminole in Florida, the Creek in Alabama, and the Cherokee in North Carolina. A limited number of non-native Americans (including African-Americans – usually as slaves) also accompanied the Native American nations on the trek westward. By 1837, 46,000 Native Americans from these southeastern states had been removed from their homelands thereby opening 25 million acres for predominantly white settlement.

Israeli reactions to Bedouin protests and solidarity actions across that country have been somewhat harsh. Reactions by members of the openly racist Israeli government have been poorly reported in US media so far, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but Haaretz reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the protests Saturday evening with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino. According to the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Netanyahu lauded the police force’s efforts and its ‘steadfast work in the face of the protesters.’

Netanyahu said, ‘We will not put up with such unruliness”‘and that lawbreakers would be held to account. ‘There has not been and will not be any tolerance of lawbreakers. The attempt of a loud and violent minority to prevent a better future for a large and wide population is severe. We will continue advancing the bill for a better future for all residents of the Negev,’ he said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also responded to the protests. In a post on his Facebook page, Lieberman criticized the protesters.

We are fighting for the national land of the Jewish people, and there are those who are trying to steal [this land] and take it over by force,’ he said, adding that he initially opposed the Prawer-Begin bill but eventually decided to support it because he was told that the Bedouin leaders had consented to the plan.

‘Just like we had feared, the Bedouin are only interested in the “carrot” – the benefits and the alternative land – while making every effort, even through violence, to oppose the “stick,”‘ he continued. ‘They must leave the land on which they reside illegally.’

Lieberman also called on the government to rethink the entire plan and nix the benefits that were promised to the Bedouin. [emphases added]

It is hard to make a comparison to this reaction to that of American politicians in the face of Native American resistance to having to leave their ancestral farms for the plains of Oklahoma.  It is as if, had Andrew Jackson been Lieberman, he had stated “Screw the land deal.  We’re going to sell you all on the slave blocks in New Orleans!”  Or something like that.

In the Negev, where the removals will soon commence, police were fairly brutal:
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Did SNL Blow It By Not Running the Hagel Hearing Skit?

5:05 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

During Saturday Evening’s Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal, the cast tried this sketch, which parodies the obsequiousness shown by U.S. Senators toward Israel last week, during the confirmation hearing for former Senator Chuck Hagel, to head the Department of Defense:

The sketch didn’t run, but the show soon put it up on the web at HULU, where it was picked up by Huffington Post and Mondoweiss by early Sunday morning.

In comments and articles on the sketch, many are saying that the sketch wasn’t run because it wasn’t funny.  I didn’t watch SNL this week, but my wife did, and she says it would have been one of the funniest sketches this week, which isn’t saying much these days.  I think the audience may have at times been uncomfortable watching the sketch unfold before them.

Surprisingly, the funniest headline on it, even beating out Wonkette, was the Times of Israel, which put this in the headline:

Andrew Sullivan featuring the clip this morning in a piece titled  A Cultural Breakthrough, wrote:

After being banished from earnest Washington discussion for decades by various press gate-keepers, the absurdly overblown power of the Greater Israel lobby is now seeping into the popular culture. SNL captures the lunacy.

This does appear to be the case.  As Philip Weiss noted today:

Even friends of mine who don’t know the issue are fulminating about the Hagel hearing. And remember that those gatekeepers and lobby pooh-poohers included the Atlantic Magazine, David Remnick, Leon Wieseltier, Leslie Gelb, Walter Russell Mead, Jeffrey Goldberg, among other eminent journalists.

Weiss and others have noted within the past week, that the failure of Alan Dershowitz and his ilk to stop the Brooklyn College Global BDS talk last Thursday;  the Academy Award-nominated films Five Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers getting major interviews, articles and reviews in media that too often in the past ignored important Palestinian and pro-Palestinian art; and attention being drawn to how much more interested Senators on the Armed Forces Committee are in Israel than the welfare of our soldiers and veterans, together mean more than a cultural breakthrough is at play here.

2013 is shaping up to be the year during which people will no longer have to carefully and guardedly talk about Israeli apartheid, but will finally be listened to, when they openly draw attention to Israeli Apartheid.

Watching the Breitbart-inspired campaign against Hagel’s “Hamas PAC” unfold, the SNL scriptwriters might consider keeping their pencils handy.

Free Brooklyn College: Sign the Petition to Support Academic Freedom at CUNY

6:47 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Brooklyn College campus [hdr image]

If you live in Brooklyn, you have probably heard of the threat from members of the New York City Council against Brooklyn College.  If you live elsewhere, chances are that, unless you are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights, or the struggle against them, you’ve missed his one.

In a nutshell, in late January a controversy arose over the political science department at Brooklyn College sponsoring an upcoming appearance there by two advocates of Global BDS.  That movement, now in its ninth year, advocates putting pressures upon the increasingly apartheid Israeli state, similar to the sanctions imposed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, against the increasingly apartheid South African state.  Here is a description of the controversy, from a friendly point of view:

At Brooklyn College, a student chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine organized a forthcoming panel with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti to discuss the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The political science department agreed to co-sponsor it. When certain individuals hostile to BDS heard about this event they raised an outcry. The outcry started with Alan Dershowitz, who demanded that the political science department either withdraw its sponsorship or ‘balance’ it with a voice – namely his – that is critical of the panelists. Very quickly this became a city and state-wide issue, and various politicians, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, began to make the same demands. Now, quite disturbingly, the New York City Council is threatening to withhold future funding for CUNY unless the political science department either cancels the event or withdraws its sponsorship.

Advocates for the college’s position have emerged, including constitutional attorney, Glenn Greenwald, Palestinian rights advocate Andrew Sullivan, and – surprisingly – MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes (as described by Phil Weiss):

A “who’s who” list of New York politicians is trying to shut down the conversation. Hayes mentions Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler. “I understand why there’s an outcry” from those who find BDS odious — he says, covering his bases. But Hayes is clear about the academic-freedom principle and about the highly “selective” concern for balance in this instance and not others. What if the University of Alabama tried to disinvite a gay speaker? Hayes says that some of those politicians “browbeating” the college have been on his show. Good liberals. Yes: Progressive Except Palestine, PEP.

Greenwald has written several columns now on the threats against the college. Most recently, he centered on comments by NYC council member, Lew Fidler, whose threats against Brooklyn College funding seem to have been the most explicit yet.  Greenwald:

How can anyone not be seriously alarmed by this? These threats are infinitely more destructive than any single academic event could ever possibly be…Plainly, this entire controversy has only one ‘principle’ and one purpose: to threaten, intimidate and bully professors, school administrators and academic institutions out of any involvement in criticisms of Israel.

Fidler’s chilling letter to BC President Karen Gould can be read here (scribd).

One speaker at the upcoming event, prominent feminist philosopher, Judith Butler, has defended herself many times against specious “anti-semitism” charges (Butler is Jewish), most notably, in her profound essay on anti-semitism, in the London Review of Books, eleven years ago:

In holding out for a distinction to be made between Israel and Jews, I am calling for a space for dissent for Jews, and non-Jews, who have criticisms of Israel to articulate; but I am also opposing anti-semitic reductions of Jewishness to Israeli interests. The ‘Jew’ is no more defined by Israel than by anti-semitism. The ‘Jew’ exceeds both determinations, and is to be found, substantively, as a historically and culturally changing identity that takes no single form and has no single telos. Once the distinction is made, discussion of both Zionism and anti-semitism can begin, since it will be as important to understand the legacy of Zionism and to debate its future as to oppose anti-semitism wherever we find it.

The other main speaker in the upcoming BC event is Palestinian, Omar Barghouti, echoed Butler in a 2011 interview with The Guardian on Global BDS, which he helped found:

Here is what the petition in support of Brooklyn College’s position states:

We the undersigned write in support of the decision by Brooklyn College’s political science department to co-sponsor a panel discussion with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti. We urge CUNY President Karen Gould to resist attempts by those who have attempted to intimidate CUNY into canceling, changing, or withdrawing its sponsorship for the panel. We are especially concerned that the New York City Council has threatened to withhold further money for CUNY if it does not either cancel the event or withdraw its sponsorship. This is a grave threat to academic freedom and sets a terrible precedent for the future.

You can sign it here.

The goal was 500 signatures. It currently as 1,612.

(If you click “SIGN’” button, you can leave the page without hitting the “pay” buttons on the succeeding page.  I didn’t pay, and my name now shows up.)

I signed – as a college professor in favor of free speech.

Will you sign?

Israeli Interior Minister: “This Country Belongs to Us – The White Man!”

11:34 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Eli Yishai enhanced color

Imagine if David Duke were U.S. Attorney General, or the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Imagine if ICE head Duke proclaimed loudly, at a rally produced by Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

“Mexicans, Asians and Negroes that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man!

Fortunately, neither Duke nor somebody of his ilk is very high up in our government.  In Israel, they aren’t so fortunate.  Here’s that country’s real Minister of Internal Affairs, Eli Yishai, this morning:

“Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man.”

That is Yishai’s latest response to the increasingly racist events unfolding in Israel having to do with that country’s disturbingly violent reaction to an influx of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

I’m not quite sure what Yishai’s definition of “white man” is.  His parents emigrated to Israel from Tunisia.    His party affiliation has been with Shas since soon after the party’s inception in 1984.  Under the current government, this is the third time Yishai has held the cabinet post of Interior head, the previous terms being from 2001 to 2003.

It is a post unlike any in the United States:

The position is often demanded by avowedly religious or secular parties as it allows them to control religious councils and planning (including the building of settlements), as well as religion and state issues such as civil marriage and immigration (which is affected by the Who is a Jew? debate). In recent years it has been held by Shas, an ultra-orthodox party, as well as Shinui and Yisrael BaAliyah, both secularist.

Who is Yishai pandering to with his white supremacist statement that he surely must have known would be picked up by the Israeli press, possibly outside of the country too?  His quote came out early Sunday in a Haaretz article about a new law that came into effect today, regarding detention of migrants:

A law granting Israeli authorities the power to detain illegal migrants for up to three years came into effect on Sunday, in the wake of widening public controversy over the influx of African migrants who cross into Israel along its border with Egypt.

The law makes illegal migrants and asylum seekers liable to jail, without trial or deportation, if caught staying in Israel for long periods. In addition, anyone helping migrants or providing them with shelter could face prison sentences of between five and 15 years.

The law amended the Prevention of Infiltration Law of 1954, passed to prevent the entry of Palestinians as part of emergency legislation. The law is expanded to address migrant workers or asylum seekers who enter Israel without posing a threat to Israel’s security.

According to the law, migrant workers already here could be jailed for the most minor offense such as spraying graffiti or stealing a bicycle – infractions for which they would not have been detained before.

So far, all migrants who have been caught by the Israel Defense Forces on the Israel-Egypt border have been transferred to the Saharonim detention facility which holds 2,000 spaces.

I wrote here about the current push in Israel for race-based concentration camps back on May 24th.  In that diary, I speculated that Yishai is one of the Israeli politicians playing a role in purposefully fueling the rising violence against people there perceived to be non-white.  Since the time of the Tel Aviv riots last month, Ethiopian Jews, who I doubt Yishai considers “white,” have taken to wearing t-shirts proclaiming their Jewishness.  They’re afraid they will get assaulted by people inflamed by Yishai and his colleagues’ incendiary diatribes.

This new law, and statements of the sort uttered this morning by Minister Yishai clearly reinforce what I wrote back on the 24th:

More than the rantings pushing for a war against Iran, more than the struggle for Palestinian rights, more than the billions upon billions we give away to Israel every year, the almost daily mushrooming of racial hatred by Israelis may be what finally disgusts us out of our stupor.

Back on May 9th, Philip Giraldi, in an essay about a “tipping point” having arrived in Israel in respect to the U.S. population’s generic blind support of Israeli policies in all areas, wrote:

So we have reached the point where the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Everyone, with the possible exception of the U.S. Congress, has become aware that there is something terribly wrong with Israel. In Israel itself, where there is often ferocious debate over the country’s policies, it is time for a reckoning. Does Israel want to become a normal state with correct relationships with its neighbors, including an independent Palestine, or does it want to continue down the road that it is pursuing, which is folly and will lead to ruin? The choice is ultimately Israel’s, but, for the first time, Americans are actually beginning to talk and write freely and openly about the problem.

Giraldi only tangentially addressed the rapid rise of racism in policy, procedure and actions.  To him the tipping point was more about a succession of brilliant books on how Americans react to Israeli policy, by Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt & John Mearsheimer, and Peter Beinert.

These are indeed important.  However, those of us attempting to get the message across that Israel has fully become the new apartheid South Africa can rest assured that the white supremacist images, quotes and policies coming out of Israel almost daily will explain our message quite fully on their own.

Former South African President De Klerk Compares Israel’s Apartheid Policies to South Africa’s: “In Our Case, We Failed”

5:16 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Apartheid South Africa – Apartheid Israel – graphic by Progressive Alaska

Here’s a longer excerpt from De Klerk’s December 29th interview on BBC Radio 4:

What I supported as a younger politician was exactly what the whole world now supports for Israel and Palestine, namely separate nation states will be the solution. In our case we failed.

There were three main reasons. We failed because the whites wanted too much land for themselves. We failed because the majority of blacks said this is not how we want our political rights. And we failed because we became economically totally integrated. We became an economic omelet and you can never again divide an omelet into the white and the yellow of the egg. And we realized in the early eighties we had landed in a place which has become morally unjustified.

Mondoweiss, in an article by Adam Horowitz, covers this too.  The comments are illuminating.  One commenter observes, “So, now BOTH sides the of South African apartheid fight are calling a spade a spade in Palestine.”

Indeed.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it almost 10 years ago:

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused Israel of practising apartheid in its policies towards the Palestinians.

The Nobel peace laureate said he was “very deeply distressed” by a visit to the Holy Land, adding that “it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa”.

So, now both the former oppressor (and former longtime ardent Israeli ally) of blueprint Apartheid, and the formerly oppressed, have joined together in condemning Israeli policies in the Occupied West Bank.

Le Sacre de Automne – BBC Proms Concert With Israel Philharmonic Goes Off the Air During Riot

12:18 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

My dear friend, Deborah Fink, was one of the people who put this together Thursday in London.  Their ad hoc group, Beethovians for Boycotting Israel, created new lyrics to Ludvig van Beethoven’s paean to the unity of mankind, Ode to Joy, and sang it several times during the performance of the Israel Philharmonic at the BBC Proms Concert:

Israel, end your occupation:
There’s no peace on stolen land.
We’ll sing out for liberation
’till you hear and understand.

Ethnic cleansing and apartheid
Should belong to history.
Human rights cannot be silenced:
Palestine will soon be free.

BBC went so far as to take their live concert broadcast off the air for a time.

I’m not quite sure what I think yet, except that it was an astounding happening, which brings to mind the May, 1913 premiere in Paris of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps.  A major difference might be that after that opening’s scandal, people came to fully appreciate Stravinsky’s masterpiece.  There were no further disruptions of consequence.

In the case of the Israel Philharmonic, they can look forward to a future of a rising crescendo of cancellations and a growing chorus of protests.

Here’s a cell phone video of the portion of the disruption during Max Bruch’s Concerto for Violin:

Should firedoglake Take a Position on the Global BDS Movement?

6:04 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Update: For more information on what Global BDS is (the worldwide campaign to encourage boycott, divestment and sanctions of the Israeli state over treatment of Palestinians) please see the bottom of this essay.*

******

March 30 is Global BDS Day of Action 2011.  According to the BDS Movement’s web site:

Activists in the Europe and North America held actions over the weekend as a contribution towards tomorrow’s Global BDS Day of Action. Looking at some of the planned actions, today is looking like it is set to be the biggest and widest day of action to date!

-       Flashmobs and BDS demonstrations will take place in dozens of cities, from Rabat to Toronto, from Prague to Melbourne.

-       The international campaign against the Jewish National Fund will be officially launched.

-       New initiatives, resources and campaigns will be launched by groups all over the world.

What is a flashmob?

Here’s one, early today from March 26th, creatively protesting in Grand Central Station:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myt23xhMEMk&feature=player_embedded

There have been many BDS flashmob actions over the past year or so.  One, held last year in St. Louis, featuring heroic Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, was removed from youtube because the flashmob singers and dancers used material created by Lady Gaga.  Others remain:

What is the international campaign against the Jewish National Fund?

Max Blumenthal has managed to document several aspects of the JNF’s ongoing activities inside Israel itself (as opposed to his documentation of Israeli activities in the occupied territories of the West Bank) that remind me of government actions against black citizens in South Africa in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  Here’s a video Max ran at his blog last month “depicting the 17th(!) pogrom against the Bedouin village of Al-Arakib by the criminal syndicate known as the Jewish National Fund and the End Timers at GOD TV,” as Max described it.

The campaign against the JNF has been described by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network:

A key pillar of the colonization of Palestine – from the founding of the State of Israel to the present – has been the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (KKL), commonly known in English as the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The JNF enjoys charity status in over 50 countries. This is despite its role in the on-going displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land, the theft of their property, the funding of historic and present-day colonies, and the destruction of the natural environment.

Land Day 2011 will welcome the launch of internationally coordinated campaigns to challenge the JNF-KKL. As part of the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), in solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle, and until such time as the State of Israel respects and implements international law, the Palestinian BDS National Committee and many other organizations call on global civil society to join in a campaign to challenge the JNF.

Why should firedoglake take a position for or against the BDS movement?

I was not in favor of the idea until 2010, even though I have been arguing for and working for Palestinian rights since late in the last century.  What changed my mind in 2010?

1.  The continuing expropriation of Palestinian lands inside Israel itself, in East Jerusalem and in countless places in the West Bank.

2.  The growing strength of the ultra far right in Israeli politics and government ministries.  Just this week the Knesset passed a new “Citizenship Law” that, although watered down from the initially proposed “Loyalty Oath” legislation, leaves much room for further implementation of apartheid policies or worse against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens:

Initially, Israel Beiteinu pushed for legislation requiring a loyalty oath to a “Jewish and democratic” state, but the current law was the compromise that the faction managed to secure from the coalition.

“Another promise made by Israel Beiteinu to its voters has been fulfilled,” responded Lieberman minutes after the vote. “Without loyalty, there can be no citizenship. Any person who harms the country cannot enjoy the benefits of citizenship and its fruit. The law will help confront the phenomenon by which there are those who take advantage of our democracy in order to undermine it, and by which those who are called citizens collaborate with the enemy.”

In a gibe at Arab MKs who presented outspoken and impassioned opposition to the bill, Lieberman added that “unfortunately, we are witness to these incidents even among members of the Knesset.”

3. The brazenly unlawful and unnecessary attack on the MV Mavi Marmara, the hundreds of deaths or injuries in 2011 of Palestinians, almost half of them children, and the continuing insinuation of Israeli-based interest groups into American politics helped spur me toward supporting BDS.

4. Already, before I supported BDS, I felt strongly about the negative effects of Israeli-centric American policies. I was asked this 15 months ago:

I don’t understand your preoccupation with Palistine. How about giving some balanced blog space and advocacy for the oppressed people of countries such as North Korea, Tibet, China, Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, etc.?

My reply,  in January 2010:

We don’t send hundreds of billions of American tax dollars to the North Koreans so that they can drop or shoot white phosphorus onto schools and hospitals, where kids like the one at the upper left have to end up dead or looking like him.

We don’t write tax policies that enable the Han Chinese to invest in housing projects that eject Tibetans from their homes in Lhasa.

We don’t cater to lobbyists from Sudan who constantly encourage us to go to all-out war against a neighboring country that hasn’t attacked one of their neighbors in generations.

We don’t have a Pentagon whose offices are stuffed with people with dual Somali-American citizenship, who manufacture false premises to march us into a series of wars in the heart of Africa.

We aren’t experiencing a time when a small group of ruthless Burmese generals and politicians have hijacked Buddhism, turning it into a militant version of what had once been a great religion, and branding anyone who doesn’t believe in a Myanmar expansion version of Buddhism as anti-Burmese or anti-Buddhist.

Additionally, no North Korean, Chinese, Sudanese, Burmese or Somali general, politician, general or warlord is openly bragging that the United States is fighting two wars and threatening to start a third one, on their behalf.

Also, and importantly, there is no large body of American people who openly believe that we need to foster violence in North Korea, Tibet, China, Somalia, Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan or Burma, so that we may enable the second coming of Jesus Christ, and implement a new age. And there is no cynical tie-in between Columbian politicians who hope to bring money to their country because of some apocolyptic religious myth, and American fundamentalist sects who total in the tens of millions of misguided believers.

I’ve come to actively support the global BDS movement. I encourage others to do the same. I would like to hear the thoughts of readers on whether or not this might be a laudable goal for fdl to also pursue.

*Update: Here is a statement about the origins and goals of the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the Israeli Government policies against the Palestinian people:

On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.

The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Resources on BDS can be found at the Global BDS web page: