The Settlement Industry

This article is re-posted from the Jacobin Magazine.

Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank are becoming a liability.

Even officials in the United States have started to question Israeli settlement activity, inviting backlash from Zionists in Israel and the United States.wall

Earlier this year, US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, hardly an anti-Zionist, touched a nerve when he pointed out the obvious — Israeli settlements in illegally occupied Palestine have expanded; Israeli vigilantes murder Palestinians without fear of investigation or reprisal; and, in the occupied areas, Israelis enjoy civilian legal protections while Palestinians live under military rule.

The response from Israeli state officials was swift and forceful. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Shapiro’s comments unacceptable; the Israeli minister of defense demanded that he recant his statement; and a former Netanyahu aide referred to the ambassador using a Hebrew slur — and right-wing buzzword — popular among Israeli Zionists who regard their American counterparts as weak or unprincipled.

But there was nothing outrageous about Shapiro’s comments, even by diplomatic standards. The overwhelming international consensus is that Israel’s settlement activity is illegal and should be halted.

In January, the foreign affairs council of the European Union adopteda strongly worded resolution calling the settlements “an obstacle to peace.” Brazil rejected Israel’s newly appointed ambassador late last year because of his ties to the settlements.

Unsurprisingly, Israel promptly reassigned him to a diplomatic position in the United States, where, despite Shapiro’s cautious criticism, the political establishment still tolerates the settlements.

In his remarks about the West Bank, Shapiro posed a simple question to Israeli administrators: “Why?” Recalling Israel’s supposed commitment to a “two-state solution” — and pointing out that the settlements interfere with that goal— he asked, “What is Israel’s strategy?”

Israel’s strategy is clear: it’s not about securing the conditions for peace — it’s about extracting profits and preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state.

Money To Be Made

Occupation is big business for Israel, as a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report makes clear.

The Israeli establishment characterizes the settlements as harmless residential enclaves, suburban oases embedded in an otherwise-unoccupied desert, where young Jewish couples can raise families away from expensive and overcrowded city centers.

But this is more propaganda than truth.

While residential settlements proliferate in the West Bank, encroaching on Palestinian land and violating international law, this is only part of the story.

Far more essential to the settlement project are the “settlement industrial zones” — business districts where Israeli factories and farming enterprises exploit Palestinian land and labor to produce billions of dollars of goods each year.

Israel operates about twenty such zones in the occupied West Bank. Officially called “industrial zones under Israeli administration,” these areas encompass 1,365 hectares in Area C, a vitally important stretch of land.

The World Bank calls Area C “the key to economic cohesion” in Palestine because it contains most of the area’s arable land, water, and other resources.

Israeli’s occupation of this land is illegal according to international law. Most of it belongs to “absentee” Palestinians — that is, Palestinians who were driven from their land by Israeli expansion, and who were neither consulted nor compensated prior to settlement construction.

And part of at least one settlement industrial zone sits on the property of a non-absentee Palestinian landowner, in violation of Israel’s own laws.

In addition to the 1,365 hectares containing factories — which manufacture everything from metal to plastics to textiles — there are an additional 9,300 hectares for farming conglomerates. The land controlled by industrial and agricultural enterprises is almost double that occupied by settler residences, which account for only 6,000 hectares.

Although Israeli officials can be tight-lipped about the settlement industrial zones, it seems clear that business interests, perhaps more than anything else, are driving Israeli expansion in the West Bank.

Development for Whom?

As Israeli firms pump millions of dollars into the Occupied Territories each year, some observers have the audacity to suggest that this investment benefits Palestinians.

It doesn’t.

The World Bank estimates that Israeli activities in Area C — including land restrictions and water siphoning — cost the Palestinian economy about $3.4 billion a year, or about 35 percent of its GDP.

One Palestinian leader quoted in the HRW investigation reported that his village’s livestock had decreased from ten thousand animals to only one hundred after the construction of an Israeli settlement severely reduced their grazing area.

By disrupting Palestinian livelihoods, Israel increases unemployment and depresses wages, providing a captive workforce for Israeli employers.

Dispossessed of their land and prevented from establishing their own businesses by restrictive Israeli permit laws, Palestinians often have little choice but to accept jobs working for Israeli manufacturers, where they are grossly underpaid and subject to state-facilitated abuse from their employers.

Israeli authorities justify the settlement industrial zones by claiming they exist to provide employment to Israeli settlers. But the numbers show that Palestinians overwhelmingly make up the labor force in these industrial areas.

In 2013, only 6.8 percent of settlers worked in manufacturing or mining jobs, despite the proliferation of Israeli factories and rock quarries in the settlements. And less than 1 percent of settlers worked on the 10,000 hectares of agricultural land that Israeli firms cultivate. In fact, of the seventeen thousand people formally working in the settlements in 2009, eleven thousand were Palestinian.

Unsurprisingly, Palestinians workers are treated poorly compared to their Israeli counterparts.

Palestinian workers often earn about 8 shekels (or two dollars) an hour, one-third of the Israeli minimum wage. A 2007 Supreme Court case ruled that Israeli labor laws apply equally to Palestinian and Israeli workers, but the Israeli government has refused to implement this ruling. It claims it can neither investigate labor practices in the West Bank nor enforce compliance with labor standards.

To make matters worse, Palestinian workers rely on work permits issued by the Israeli military to seek and hold down jobs in the settlements, making them uniquely vulnerable to retaliation by hostile employers.

The settlement industrial zones don’t empower Palestinians — they exploit them. According to the HRW report, to claim otherwise amounts to nothing more than “a poor excuse for labor abuses.” But that doesn’t stop some settlers from trying.

Whitewashing Occupation

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, some Israeli settlers still maintain that settlement businesses are a vital source of employment for jobless Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Some even go so far as to describe settler entrepreneurs as multicultural bridge-builders, connecting Israelis and Palestinians through shared labor.

Ron Nahman — founder of the largest settlement industrial zone and mayor of Ariel, one of the West Bank’s oldest settlements — responded to criticism in 2000 by saying, “I have a better shared development plan with the Arabs in the area than any of the leftist administrations, and I pursue peace exactly like all the leftists.”

Nahman’s “shared development plan,” it seems, consists of exploiting cheap Palestinian labor while maintaining Israeli control over vital natural resources.

Israeli authorities echo Nahman’s claim. Former minister of economy Naftali Bennett called the settlement industrial zones “economic bridges of peace,” and current president Reuven Rivlin describedBarkan — one of the largest settlement industrial zones — as a “hub of coexistence.”

Nevermind that until recently Barkan housed a company that Palestinian employees sued for wage theft and discrimination. As usual, facts don’t get in the way of Zionists’ spirited defense of occupation and exploitation.

This kind of rhetoric also appears in US news outlets like the New York Times. Last year, the paper celebrated the illegal establishment of an Israeli grocery store in the West Bank — calling it “a symbol of coexistence” because it employed both Israeli and Palestinian cashiers.

The characterization of settlement industrial zones as hubs of cooperation is transparent and disingenuous, deflecting attention from the real dynamic of dispossession and exploitation that defines the relationship between settlers and Palestinian workers.

Many of the goods produced in the settlements are exported to foreign trading partners, most significantly in the European Union. Many are labeled “Made in Israel,” despite international laws specifically prohibiting that practice.

In 2012, Israel reported to the World Bank that exports from settlement industrial zones to the European Union totaled $300 million in value annually.

The World Bank put this figure much higher — suggesting a figure of $5.4 billion a year—because Israeli companies often transfer raw materials and manufactured components across the border into internationally recognized Israel before export.

In fact, producers in the Occupied Territories are so dependent on foreign consumers that Barkan administrators estimate that the zone sends about 80 percent of its goods out of the region.

Israel’s need to sell its goods in foreign markets highlights thestrategic importance of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls on international consumers to boycott Israeli products, particularly those produced in the Occupied Territories.

The illegal production of food, metal resources, and manufactured goods in the occupied West Bank is a tremendously productive and profitable arm of the Israeli economy. But it does nothing to benefit Palestinians. Instead, it reproduces the conditions of their destitution.

Opposing Israeli settlements in the West Bank isn’t about calling for reconciliation or coexistence, and it certainly isn’t just about ensuring the conditions for a two-state solution, as Shapiro seemed to suggest.

Settlement is an economic project, premised on the seizure of Palestinian resources and the exploitation of Palestinian labor.

Demanding an end to Israeli occupation is about demanding an end to the oppression of Palestine.

Counting Down To Israel’s Next ‘Mowing Of The Lawn’ In Palestine

This article is re-posted from Mint Press. 

Every two years or so, Israel decides that it’s time to once more test out its weaponry, provided by the United States, on Palestine. It invents some vague pretext and levels the Gaza Strip, a process Israeli politicians have referred to as a periodic “mowing of the lawn.”

File - In this March 30, 2015 file photo, a Palestinian girl walks next to destroyed houses, in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City. The International Monetary Fund said in a Tuesday, May, 19, 2015 report, that reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is going “far more slowly than expected” after a devastating war between Israel and the Hamas militant group last year. The IMF said that just over a quarter of $3.5 billion pledged for reconstruction has been disbursed and urged donors to fulfill their pledges.  (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)

File – In this March 30, 2015 file photo, a Palestinian girl walks next to destroyed houses, in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City. The International Monetary Fund said in a Tuesday, May, 19, 2015 report, that reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is going “far more slowly than expected” after a devastating war between Israel and the Hamas militant group last year. The IMF said that just over a quarter of $3.5 billion pledged for reconstruction has been disbursed and urged donors to fulfill their pledges. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)

Indeed, the grass in any lawn will grow too tall if not mowed periodically. Palestinians in Gaza, suffering under a brutal siege that’s now entering a second decade, must be put down before they, too, grow too much. And since the last bombing was during the summer of 2014, Israel must be looking for a new excuse now to “mow the lawn.”

Due to the total blockade, very little reconstruction material enters Gaza, so there is little to bomb that hasn’t already been reduced to rubble.

Still, new weapons must be tested so they can be sold, even if, like previous weaponry, those weapons are banned by international law. After all, along with the U.S., which provides this weaponry and technology to Israel, Israel is one of the world’s largest exporters of armaments. So why not test them on the Palestinians, who the international community has more or less ignored for generations?

In 2014, the trigger for the bombing was the announced reunification between Hamas, the democratically-elected government in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the puppet government of Israel and the U.S. in the West Bank. Since Israel isn’t interested in a two-state solution, having a unity government is not in keeping with its goals, which include the complete obliteration of Palestine. So, looking around for a more publicly-acceptable excuse, the government decided that so-called “rocket” fire into Israel would do just fine. This enabled Israel to both unleash additional terror, over and above the everyday kind, on the West Bank, and bomb the Gaza Strip.

However, it may be more difficult for Israel to find a new excuse to “mow the lawn,” so it may fall back on ones it’s used in the past. Here are some examples:

It might be helpful to look at some facts on the ground in Palestine:

It would seem that if one of the two nations — Palestine or Israel — had a reason to bomb the other, it would be Palestine. Other than the ineffectual “rockets” referred to above, Palestine has no capacity to do so. But Israel does, and it uses any excuse to exercise its murderous military muscle, with the complete support of the hypocritical U.S.

What will be the reason this time? Perhaps it will be a few stabbings in Jerusalem. Or maybe renewed talk about a unity government will do the trick. Or peaceful (until Israeli terrorists start shooting) demonstrations opposing the occupation.

Whatever the excuse, Israel will bomb and the U.S. will support it. This time, though, the rest of the world may do more than shake their collective finger at Israel and say Israel really shouldn’t do that. No longer does the world rely solely on corporate-owned media for their information. By 2015, social media users have risen to an incredible 2.2 billion people. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement continues to score significant victories, and worldwide awareness of Israeli apartheid is growing.

No one can adequately predict Israel’s next deadly move. But what can be said with some degree of certainty is that, at long last, much of the world is paying attention. And it does not like what it is seeing. The “grass” of anger at the brutal, illegal occupation and blockade will continue to grow, nourished by an increasingly knowledgeable populace around the world, that condemns the vicious oppression of the Palestinian people and demands their liberation. With this growing awareness, that liberation is not a matter of “if,” but “when.”

Healing Children of Conflict Benefit for Iraqi boy returning to West Michigan

hamzah-1

In 2011 and 2013, Healing Children of Conflict (HCC) brought to Grand Rapids an Iraqi boy who lost one of his legs due to a US missile assault near his home in Baghdad. HCC was able to raise funds to bring him to West Michigan so he could be fitted for a prosthetic and get physical therapy to assist him with walking.

Hamzah has grown up and he now enjoys activities like swimming. HCC is bringing him back for a third time to be fitted for a new prosthetic and will be spending part of June in Grand Rapids.

Please join us for a spaghetti dinner, silent auction, information on other HCC campaigns and a raffle. The benefit for Hamzah will be held on Sunday, June 19, 6pm at Plymouth United Church of Christ, located at 4010 Kalamazoo SE, Grand Rapids.

Tickets are $10 for Adults and $5 for children 12 and under. You can buy tickets at the event. For those wanting to purchase tickets ahead of time, please send us a message at healingchildrenofconflict@gmail.com.

Hamzah's Visit June 2016 Fundraiser poster

Interview With BDS Co-Founder Omar Barghouti: Banned by Israel From Traveling, Threatened With Worse

Re-posted from The Intercept.

DESPITE HAVING LIVED in Israel for 22 years with no criminal record of any kind, Omar Barghouti (above) was this week denied the right to traveloutside the country. As one of the pioneers of the increasingly powerful movement to impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment measures (BDS) on Israel, Barghouti, an articulate, English-speaking activist, has frequently traveled around the world advocating his position. The Israeli government’s refusal to allow him to travel is obviously intended to suppress his speech and activism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the world leaders who traveled last year to Paris to participate in that city’s “free speech rally.”boycott_divestment_sanctions

As the husband of a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Barghouti holds a visa of permanent residency in the country, but nonetheless needs official permission to travel outside of Israel, a travel document which – until last week – had been renewed every two years. Haaretz this week reported that beyond the travel ban, Barghouti’s “residency rights in Israel are currently being reconsidered.”

The travel denial came after months of disturbing public threats directed at him by an Israeli government that has grown both more extreme and more fearful of BDS’s growing international popularity. In March, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri threatened to revoke Barghouti’s residency rights, explicitly admitting that this was in retaliation for his speech and advocacy: “he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner. … he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world.”

Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told The Electronic Intifada that “Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel document appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful, political activism, using its arsenal of bureaucratic control over Palestinian lives.” She added: “Israel has used this sort of control to arbitrarily ban many Palestinians from traveling, as well as to ban international human rights monitors, journalists and activists from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”

But the threats to Barghouti from the Israeli Government extend far beyond his right to travel. Last month, Amnesty International issued an extraordinary warning that the group “is concerned for the safety and liberty” of Barghouti, citing threats from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence. As Amnesty noted, “the term alludes to ‘targeted assassinations’ which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.”

As The Intercept has regularly reported over the last year, the attempts tocriminalize BDS activism – not only in Israel but internationally – is one of the greatest threats to free speech and assembly rights in the west. The threat has become particularly acute on U.S. college campuses, where official punishments for pro-Palestinian students are now routine. But obviously, the threats faced by Barghouti inside Israel are far more severe.

Regardless of one’s views on BDS and the Israeli occupation, anyone who purports to believe in basic conceptions of free speech rights should be appalled by Israeli behavior. I spoke with Barghouti yesterday about this latest Israeli attack on his core civil liberties, the growing extremism in Israel, and broader trends with free speech and BDS activism. “I am unnerved,” he told me, “but I’m certainly undeterred.”

GLENN GREENWALD: This is Glenn Greenwald with The Intercept. And my guest today is Omar Barghouti, who is a Palestinian human rights activist and one of the co-founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, better known as BDS, which is designed to put non-violent international pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territories, establish equal rights for Palestinians and accept the right to return of Palestinian refugees who fled during and after the establishment of Israel.

BDS has gained considerable international support over the last few years as the West has watched Israel expand its occupation of the West Bank, while its army kills thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And as a result of that success, BDS has come under a multi-pronged attack from Israel and its supporters around the world.

As part of that attack, this week news broke that Israel denied Barghouti an international travel permit. As a resident of Israel he is required to apply for this permit every two years to travel internationally. Human Rights Watch condemned the act “as something that appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful political activism.”

Before welcoming you I just want to say that I’ve spoken to a lot of people over the last several years who are probably subject to electronic surveillance on their telephones but I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken to someone who’s subject to as much surveillance as you are.

So with that, thanks very much for taking the time to talk with me, I really appreciate it.

Before I ask you to just talk a little bit about what happened with this travel restriction, I just want to give a little bit context and background for listeners. This didn’t really come out of nowhere; in late March, Israel’s interior minister was quoted as telling a conference that he was considering revoking your residency.

He said: “I was given information that his life is in Ramallah and he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner.” He continued: “he was given rights similar to those of a citizen and he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world.”

Amnesty has said that they’re actually “concerned for your safety and liberty” and they cited a quote from the Israeli minister of Transport and Intelligence and Atomic Energy, Yisrael Katz, who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence.

So, with that context in mind, obviously the Israeli government has become obsessed with restricting and punishing BDS leaders. Tell us about this new travel restriction that Israel has imposed on you. How did you learn about it? What is it?

OMAR BARGHOUTI: Every couple of years I have to renew my Israeli travel document and without that I cannot leave or re-enter the country. Because I’m a permanent resident in Israel, I cannot leave on any other passport except the Israeli travel document.

GREENWALD: Do you have another passport?

BARGHOUTI: Yes, I have Jordanian citizenship.

GREENWALD: But in order to leave Israel, you need their permission every two years.

BARGHOUTI: Yes. On April 19th the Ministry of Interior in Acre where I live officially informed us that they will not renew my travel document, therefore effectively banning me from travel. This comes as you rightly noted in the context of very heightened repression against the BDS movement, which seeks freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian citizens. So it seeks Palestinian rights under international law. But because it has become so effective of late, because support has been rising tremendously in the last couple of years, we are in a way paying the price for the success of the movement.

Many people are realizing that Israel is a regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid and are therefore taking action to hold it to account to international law. Israel is realizing that companies are abandoning their projects in Israel that violate international law, pension funds are doing the same, major artists are refusing to play Tel Aviv, as Sun City was boycotted during apartheid South Africa.

So they’re seeing this isolation growing, they can see the South Africa moment if you will. And because of that, they’ve heightened their pression, including espionage on BDS human rights defenders, whether Palestinian, Israeli or international, surveillance of course, plus those latest threats of targeted civil elimination and banning us from travel, and so on.

So we are really unnerved, I am personally quite unnerved by those threats. We take them very seriously, especially in this context. We live in a country where racism and racial incitement against indigenous Palestinians has grown tremendously into the Israeli mainstream. It has really become mainstream today to be very openly racist against Palestinians. Many settlers and hard-right-wing Israelis are taking matters into their own hands – completely supported by the state – and attacking Palestinians.

So in that context I am unnerved, but I’m certainly undeterred. I shall continue my non-violent struggle for Palestinian rights under international law and nothing they can do will stop me.

GREENWALD: About the travel restrictions themselves, how long have you been receiving this travel permission? Did they give you any reason as to why in this case it was being denied? And did you have any problems in the past – from their perspective – that would justify this denial?

BARGHOUTI: No, actually I’ve been a permanent resident of Israel since 1994, so 22 years running and without any violations of the law – not even a traffic violation. So there’s nothing on my record that they can use against me.

Calling for a boycott until now is not a crime in Israel. It’s a tort – they can punish me in various ways – but it’s not a crime that they can revoke my residency right based upon. And they know that very well – they don’t stand on very strong legal grounds. So they’re looking for ways to intimidate me, to bully me, to silence me by other ways. And that doesn’t seem to be working, so now they’re working on revoking my permanent residency.

I have not had any problems in the past having my travel document renewed, for 22 years. So it’s just when BDS started to really become a very impactful, very effective movement with impressive growth and support, including among young Jewish Americans, young Jewish Brits, and so on – and that really alarms Israel – only then that they start taking such repressive, anti-democratic, draconian measures to the extreme against the movement, which is a non-violent movement, accusing us of all sorts of things.

GREENWALD: So as far as your status in Israel is concerned, and your right to travel, if I’m not mistaken you live in Israel with your wife who is an Israeli citizen, correct?

BARGHOUTI: Yes, correct, my wife is a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

GREENWALD: So does that give you entitlement to stay or are they actually able to revoke your permanent residency status?

BARGHOUTI: When it comes to non-Jews – as we’re called in Israel – no one knows what applies and what doesn’t apply. As you know there are more than 50 laws in Israel that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of the state, let alone Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, who are non-citizens.

So, a Palestinian citizen of Israel does not get the full set of rights that a Jewish citizen gets because simply the Palestinian is not a Jewish national and only if you’re a Jewish national – whatever that means – do you get the full set of rights. This is an extra-territorial definition of nationality so Israel does not have Israeli nationality – there is no such thing.

The Supreme Court rejected that notion, the Knesset did, there is no Israeli nationality. There is Israeli citizenship but that does not entitle you to the full set of rights. So yes, my wife is an Israeli citizen and I got my permanent residency through that but what rights I’m entitled to and am not entitled to depends on the mood of the politicians and how much the courts are ready to go along with that.

GREENWALD: Let’s discuss the efforts against the BDS movement more broadly beyond Israeli borders. For a long time I think the tactic was to try and ignore BDS, to treat it as though it was so marginalized and inconsequential that it wasn’t even worth discussing or acknowledging let along taking action against. And, as you’ve suggested, as it’s become a much more widely accepted tactic, as the world watched in horror – I think one of the turning points of the last operation in Gaza that killed so many children and innocent men and women – it has become a tactic that in a lot of ways is starting to replicate, as you suggested as well, what happened in South Africa across lots of college campuses. Young American Jews who are fully now on board with BDS as a moral and necessary tactic.

And as a result you’ve starting to see more world leaders and people like Hillary Clinton denounce BDS in the most vehement terms, even equating it with anti-semitism and I think most disturbing of all, actual laws are now being issued, not just in the United States but throughout Europe, to criminalize BDS and make it illegal to advocate it or engage in activism on its behalf.

Talk about what you’ve witnessed as someone who’s been in this movement from the beginning, about the changes that are underway in terms of how the response is developing toward this movement.

BARGHOUTI: I think after years of failure in stopping or even slowing down the growth of BDS and the growth of support for BDS around the world, especially in the West, Israel is resorting to its most powerful weapon if you will, which is using its influence in the U.S. congress and through that its influence in Brussels and in the E.U. and so on, to criminalize BDS from above, after failing to stop it from below.

Because BDS is growing at the grassroots level – trade unions, academic unions, student groups, LGBTQ groups, women groups and so on, Israel is resorting to that attempt to delegitimize it from above.

So as you rightly said, they’re working on passing legislation across the United States and state legislatures to criminalize BDS or to “blacklist” individuals and organizations involved in BDS, reminding us of the worst days of McCarthyism. So really, Israel is fostering a new McCarthyism, and nothing less than that because it’s calling on governments that it deems friendly to punish speech, punish activism and campaigning to uphold Palestinian rights under international law.

So this is a non-violent inclusive movement that is anchored in the international declaration of human rights. It’s opposed to all forms of racism, including antisemitism. And we’re not shy about that. We’re very categorical about out opposition to all forms of racism. Because of that – not despite that – Israel is extremely worried. Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid is worried when this human rights inclusive movement is reaching out and appealing to a mass public, including many young Jewish Americans.

So it’s resorting to this new McCarthyism. In France it’s the worst, with government actually saying that calling for a boycott of Israeli products is now illegal in France. You can call for a boycott of French products in Paris and that’s okay, but not of Israeli products. Imagine the enormous hypocrisy.

GREENWALD: And people have been arrested wearing pro-BDS t-shirts in Paris.

BARGHOUTI: Exactly. The measure of repression in France is unprecedented. We have not seen anything like that. Paris has really become the capital of anti-Palestinian repression of late. Imagine – the city of freedoms, supposedly, has become the city of darkness for Palestinians.

GREENWALD: There was a huge free speech march there just over a year ago.

BARGHOUTI: We don’t see this anti-Palestinian repression as isolated. Israel is fostering this but there is a lot of repression already in the West. There’s already an attack on unions, an attack on free speech, on social justice, racial justice movements, there’s enormous militarization and securitization of society in the West .

And Israel is benefitting from this enormous homeland security and military market – it’s great business for Israel. It’s training police forces across the United States, from Ferguson to Baltimore. London police, Paris police.

GREENWALD: One of the criticisms of BDS opponents, when they hear things like what you just said, denouncing this erosion of civil liberties throughout the West including in Europe is, they say, it’s kind of ironic, maybe even hypocritical of you, as an advocate and proponent of Palestinian rights, to be critiquing civil liberties erosions in the West when throughout the Palestinian territories there certainly are no rights for LGBTs, or very few, and that there are far fewer rights for women for civil liberties in places like Gaza and certain parts of the West Bank. How do you respond to that? Is that something you address in your activism for Palestinian rights?

BARGHOUTI: Sure. As an inclusive movement, we call for equal rights for all humans, irrespective of identity. So absolutely, we oppose every form of discrimination against anyone based on any identity attribute. Now, do we have repression in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza? Absolutely.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are under Israeli military occupation so they’re suffering  denial of all rights, from freedom of movement to the right of free speech, to all kinds of rights, to the right to life in some cases, as we’ve seen in Gaza. But yes, on top of that, there is social repression, of course.

GREENWALD: Imposed by Palestinians on other Palestinians.

BARGHOUTI: Imposed by the Palestinian authority, by the authorities in Gaza and that’s yes, Palestinian repression on Palestinians. But the authority in Ramallah is buttressed, is supported entirely by western governments, by The United States, by European governments and to a large extent, by Israel.

So it’s not like the European and American funders are pushing for more democratization and free speech and civil liberties. They’re accepting the growing repression of the Palestinian authorities so long as it does the job, carrying some of the burdens of the occupation while Israel continues to colonize and ethnically cleanse and commit war crimes.

GREENWALD: You talked a little earlier about what you say now is this open racism and even supporters of Israel, people who openly self-identify as Zionist, have sounded these alarm bells about the deterioration of civic discourse on Israel, about how things that were once unthinkable or relegated to a fringe have now become mainstream.

You’re somebody who has lived in Israel since 1994, so 22 years now – how do you describe the changes in terms of what has taken place in Israel domestically? Is it something you regard as a radical departure from what has taken place or is it a natural evolution of something that was a little bit more hidden, that people were maybe a bit more polite about 20 years ago, but is now just made a bit more explicit?

BARGHOUTI: I think racism is inherent in any colonial society and Israel is no exception. As a regime of settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid, racism is not coincidental. It’s a pillar of the system. Look at how Israel treats BDS. BDS calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions to achieve Palestinian freedom, justice and equality and they see that as a major threat. But freedom, justice and equality only threaten lack of freedom, injustice and inequality. It doesn’t threaten anyone else who isn’t premised on the existence of racism.

Certainly, as you rightly said, Israel has dropped the mask. With the last elections in 2015, Israel elected its most racist government ever and we have the most racist parliament ever. The most racist Knesset ever, as Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper calls it. To the extent that, a couple of days ago the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army said that racism is growing to an extent that reminds people of 1930s Germany.  This is the Deputy Chief of Staff in Israel – this is not some nobody on the streets of London or Paris. This is an extremely important statement by one of the top generals in Israel. He is very alarmed that those symptoms of extreme racism are appearing everywhere and are becoming prevalent in Israeli society. And that is really, really scary.

On the other hand, by dropping the mask, Israel’s regime has in a way accelerated the growth of movements like ours.  Boycott has grown tremendously – I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it – we can attribute part of the success, part of the credit, for the growth and impact of BDS to the Israeli government’s far-right policies and their dropping the mask of enlightenment democracy and so on. They’re doing away with that, with the Ministry of Education instilling extreme racist notions in textbooks, with the Minister of Culture requiring Loyalty Oaths by artists who want to perform in Tel Aviv.

It’s really reaching an unprecedented level of bare racism. Racism was always there but it was always very couched, very hidden by a supposedly liberal Zionist façade that projects to the world Israeli scientific miracles and cultural miracles and whitewashing very well Israel’s deeply rooted racist colonial society.

GREENWALD: My final question is about a couple of reservations or criticisms or objections toward the BDS platform that come not from the obvious opponents of BDS but from people who are generally very sympathetic to the Palestinian cause who even are very harsh critics of Israel. A lot of the time people in that camp will say the following: “Why is it that Israel specifically should be boycotted for its human rights violations when so many other countries in the world including the United States are guilty of at least equal if not greater human rights violations and yet there’s no boycott movement for them?”

And then the other related criticism is that the platform of BDS itself – by including a right of return to Palestinians which would, if accepted, essentially result in the end of Israel as a Jewish state and is something that Israel will never ever accept – makes the BDS movement something designed to achieve a goal that can never actually be achieved and therefore, less effective.

How do you respond to those two concerns or criticisms?

BARGHOUTI: It’s funny when people on the fringe talk about effectiveness,  when Israel is fighting BDS with such immense resources around the world, inducing governments to pass laws to fight it, using its intelligence sources to spy on citizens around the world – human rights activists involved in BDS. It’s very strange to hear anything about the effectiveness of the movement. I think that’s settled by now. Companies are abandoning Israeli projects, pension funds are abandoning Israeli projects, major churches, major academic associations across the world, especially in the U.S., are taking action.

GREENWALD: But when they do that, they’re doing that – at least in terms of what they’re expressing – in opposition to the occupation.

BARGHOUTI: Not just that. When you look at academic associations and trade unions, Glenn, they’ve gone way beyond that. Churches, yes, they’ve stuck to the occupation only, but when you look at academic associations – the American Studies Association, the Anthropological Association, Women’s Studies and so on, they’ve gone for a full academic boycott of Israel which targets all Israeli academic institutions because of their complicity in planning, implementing and whitewashing Israel’s regime of oppression.

GREENWALD: What I meant was not that their boycott is directed only at Israelis in the occupied territories but rather that their objective in supporting the boycott is not to secure right of return for the Palestinians, as they describe it, but instead is to end the occupation. Would you agree with that?

BARGHOUTI: In fact, most partners and supporters of BDS completely support the three planks in our BDS call of 2005, which is ending the occupation, ending the racial discrimination in Israel and the system of apartheid and right of return. So we’re not aware of partners who do not support the right of return as a basic UN stipulated right.

All refugees, be they Jewish refugees from World War II to refugees from Kosovo, have that right. This is in international law and Palestinians should not be excluded. It’s quite racist to say that the return of Palestinian refugees would end Israeli apartheid and that’s bad because? What is so wrong about refugees having the right to return home? If that disturbs an apartheid system that’s premised on being exclusionary and racist and that does not want to see people gain their rights, what’s the argument there?

GREENWALD: Just to be clear, the argument that I’m describing here – and by the way this isn’t my argument, I’m not advocating it, I’m simply articulating it – it’s the objection that comes not from right-wing critics of BDS but from a lot of allies and a lot of people who are long-time supporters of Palestinian rights, such as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky.

The argument is not that the right of return is not justifiable, morally or ethically, in fact I think both of them – and pretty much everyone would agree with them – would say that in an ideal world Palestinians would have the right to return. Their argument is a tactical or pragmatic one: that if you allow Palestinians the right of return it would essentially mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state which in turn means that Israel will never ever agree to it. And so you’ve essentially created an unattainable goal, one that can never happen and isn’t realistic and is therefore designed not to help Palestinians, but to be this objective that is inevitably destined to fail.

BARGHOUTI: Well actually that’s a very dogmatic objection. Saying that it will never happen ignores history, ignores that major empires have collapsed in our lifetime that were thought to be invincible just years before collapsing. Who would have thought a country as powerful as the Soviet Union would collapse? Who would have thought in the 1980s that apartheid in South Africa would collapse? Who would have thought that East Timur would have autonomy when 20 years before no-one knew where East Timur was?

So it’s really quite dogmatic for people to say only when it comes to protecting Israeli apartheid you cannot question it – if you dare, Israel will bring down the house on everyone.

Israel depends tremendously on public support from the outside, from complicity from Western governments. As that erodes, as BDS grows and public support for BDS grows, and Israel gets isolated in the academic, economic, cultural and military sphere, eventually, it will have to abide by international law, and we will see dissent growing in Israel like any other colonial state.

We will not see dissent as long as the price is not high enough. When it becomes high enough we will see growing dissent and more Jewish Israelis joining the ranks of BDS so that we can both ethically shape a future together based on justice, freedom and equality.

Going back to the first point which was why target Israel and not the United States. Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a very similar argument with this issue when it was brought up about South Africa. He said certainly apartheid Africa was not by far the most evil system of oppression around, but you could not ask South Africans – the black majority – why are you fighting apartheid? If you’re sick with the flu you don’t fight another illness, you fight the sickness that you are suffering from.

The Palestinians are under an Israeli regime of oppression so naturally we have to fight this immediate oppressor. Now the fact that Israel is completely supported by the United States – sponsored, bank-rolled, protected – that doesn’t mean that we should not fight our immediate oppressor. That’s how you effectively make a change and achieve your rights.

This is not an intellectual exercise. Yes, one can call for a boycott of all governments that support Israel’s oppression – the United States and so on – but that’s intellectualism that leads to no action. If we follow Paulo Freire’s reflection and action model, that you have to reflect and then act, you’re not acting by calling for a boycott of the United States because it’s the only surviving empire. It’s invincible at this point in time, in 2016. It would be completely ridiculous to call for a boycott of the United States.

As Naomi Klein said, it would never work. Boycotts are not just intellectual exercises, they have to work. We’re not in it for fun, we’re not in it to make a point. We‘re in it to gain our freedom and rights under international law and for that we have to be very strategic.

GREENWALD: I said that would be my last question but I actually have one more – a very narrow, specific question about the news of the denial of your travel permit. Are there appeals available to you? Do you have legal recourse that you can seek in order to get the decision reversed and do you intend to do that?

BARGHOUTI: I cannot speak a lot about our legal strategy but certainly we’re exposing this around the world. We rely on action by citizens of the world, not on the governments because governments are very complicit in Israel’s regime of oppression, but Jewish Voice for Peace, U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, and other groups have started campaigning in the U.S. against this travel ban against me. And many, many groups are working for the right to BDS. Even if you disagree with some of the tactics of BDS, on purely free speech grounds you’ve got to support our right to call for BDS.

In the United States in particular it’s protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution so even the New York Times at one point defended our right to advocate for BDS while being completely against BDS.

I think Israel will face a problem that it is alienating the liberal mainstream and that will be really the final stroke in its wall to wall support in the United States.

GREENWALD: Well, there are loads of people who love to wrap themselves in the flag of free speech rights, including supporters of Israel, and hopefully those people will have the courage of their convictions that even if they don’t agree with your positions on BDS and Israel generally in the occupation, that they would nonetheless see it as highly objectionable that you should be denied the most basic right of international travel simply because the Israeli government wants to punish you for your political views or constrain you from engaging in activism internationally. And hopefully this interview will help to bring some attention to what has been done to you.

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you so much Glenn.

 

From Gaza to Flint

This letter is re-posted from http://www.d-rem.org/blog/.

Dearest Women in Flint,-9c09b76920d21026

On International Women’s Day, we, the Palestinian women living under Israeli occupation, announce our solidarity and extend our compassion to you. We understand what you are going through because we face similar hardships in Gaza.

Access to clean and healthy water is a basic right according to international law and agreements. But many people are still fighting to achieve this right. For example, we are living in the Gaza Strip and are suffering a lot and struggling to get clean and healthy water. The Israeli occupation steals our water from the aquifers, controls our water resources, and does not allow us to access the clean water in the West Bank or to build water treatment facilities. Sea water, waste water, and other pollutants contaminate our water leading to sickness and death. This forces us to choose to buy clean water at unaffordable prices or to provide other basic necessities for our families. We know you face these impossible choices too.

In Gaza, we survived three brutal wars in six years and we have lived more than 10 years under harsh economic conditions as a result of the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. The poverty and unemployment reached unbelievable levels. Because what we have been through, we know and we understand what you are going through. It is sad, it is tough.Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 9.41.39 AM

Disease is spreading among our children because of the polluted water in Gaza and Flint. We know what you are going through. We understand your sadness and helplessness. And we want you to know that you are not alone. We are standing with you until all of us overcome this crisis and access our right as humans to clean water for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We are standing with you as we struggle to hold the governments and private companies accountable for poisoning our children.

Our hearts and full compassion are with you.

Signed by mothers, activists, students, workers and leaders in the Palestinian community in Gaza:

Mona El-Farra
Safaa El-Derawi
Sana Al-Mashal, Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip
Nehaya Abu Nahla, Qattan Center
Jamila Dalloul, Olive Roots
Women of Afaq Jadeeda Association
Women of Sanabel Society
Leila Nassar
Iktamal Al-Ayla
Randa Martja
Maha Abu Zur
Niveen Madi
Maha Al-Aqed
Mariam Shaqura
Fayrouz Al-Asar
Fayrouz Arefa
Amahl Siyam
Nadia Abu Nahla
Zayneb Al-Ghanimi
Jehan Al-Aklok
Zahra Al-Bas
Ferdos Al-Ktri
Marian Abu Duqa
Maha Al-Farra
Nadia Al-Farra
Mona Al-Madhun
Dunya Al-Aml Ismail
Maysr Abd
Lily Qarmot
Samira Al-Ayla
Suha Mousa
Sabah Abu Reda
Nahla Al-Bader Sawi
Mariam Al-Farra
Mariam Abu Awda
Mada Abu Khattab
Inam Mousa
Ghadeer Shat
Raja Bseso
Araksi Wahed
Rosette Nasrawi
Sabhia Al-Jamal
Isaf Al-Borno
Layla Qlibo
Mariam Al-Derawi
Haneen Al-Derawi
Wafa Al-Derawi
Intima Al-Masri
Hadeel Al-Said
Mona Hammad
Manal Maqdad
Safa Maqdad
Manal Abu Ayesha
Nisreen Abed
Ibtisam Maqdad
Lina Abu Hamra
Haneen Al-Samak
Fadwa Taqish
Zaynab Al-Daghma
Sabah Al-Qara
Rana Abu Ramadan
Hanan Abu Ramadan
Huda Abu Ramadan
Besan Abu Hameed
Haya Al-Agha
Sana Al-Klut”

Major Victory for the BDS Movement: G4S announces plans to exit Israeli market

This article is reposted from the BDS Movement site.http://bdsmovement.net/2016/g4s-announces-plans-to-exit-israel-13794

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  • G4S has lost contracts worth millions of dollars in more than a dozen countries following BDS campaigns protesting its role in Israeli prisons, settlements and checkpoints
  • Campaign against G4S to remain “high BDS priority” until sale is finalized
  • BDS to continue supporting boycotts against G4S over mass incarceration globally

British security company G4S, the world’s largest, has responded to a four-year long global BDS campaign protesting its role in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights by announcing yesterday it will sell its Israeli subsidiary in the coming “12 to 24 months.”

In describing the move, The Financial Times reported that G4S was “extracting itself from reputationally damaging work.”

Since 2010, G4S has lost contracts worth millions of dollars in many countries following BDS pressure to end its complicity in Israeli prisons, where Palestinians are tortured and held without trial, as well as in Israeli checkpoints, settlements and a police training centre. Their lost clients include private businesses, universities, trade unions, and UN bodies.

The Bill Gates Foundation in 2014 divested its $170m stake in the company following protests at its offices in Seattle, London and Johannesburg.

In recent weeks, UNICEF in Jordan and a major restaurant chain in Colombia became the latest high-profile bodies to end their contracts with G4S following BDS campaigns.

“As at the height of the international boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS pressure is making some of the world’s largest corporations realize that profiting from Israeli apartheid and colonialism is bad for business,” said Mahmoud Nawajaa, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the BDS movement.

“Investment fund managers are increasingly recognizing that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from Israeli banks and companies that are implicated in Israel’s serious human rights violations, such as G4S and HP, because of the high risk entailed. We are starting to notice a domino effect,” he added.

French multinationals Veolia and Orange and CRH, Ireland’s biggest company, have all exited the Israeli market in recent months, mainly as a result of BDS campaigning.

In January, the United Methodist Church put five Israeli banks from Israel on a “blacklist” due to their complicity in human rights violations, including the financing of illegal Israeli settlements.

Palestinian lawyer Sahar Francis, Director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, commented:

“This latest news from G4S is welcome but it has no immediate effect on those facing serious human rights violations inside Israel’s prisons today.”

“At a time when Israel is stepping up its campaign of mass incarceration as a way of repressing Palestinian society, G4S should immediately end its role in the notorious Israeli prison system, as well as its involvement in securing Israeli checkpoints and illegal settlements.”

Nawajaa said:

“We are grateful to all of the dedicated grassroots organizers around the world who are working in solidarity with Palestinians seeking freedom, justice, and equality. But G4S is infamous for breaking pledges to end its participation in Israel’s crimes.”

“Our boycott of G4S will remain among the BDS movement’s top priorities until we actually see its back out of the door of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

“We also welcome the news that G4S is also selling its businesses that operate youth detention centers in the US and the UK, both of which have seen G4S targeted by campaigners over its abusive practices and both of which are part of deeply racist incarceration systems.”

“From the US to Palestine, from South Africa to the UK, G4S is deeply involved in racist mass incarceration business. We remain determined to work closely with partners to hold G4S to account for its participation in human rights abuses.”

G4S also has a long and documented track record of participation in human rights and workers’ rights abuses elsewhere in the world, especially in prisons and migrant detention centres it has run in the US, the UK and South Africa.

Nawajaa added:

“Failing to stop the impressive growth of BDS in pursuit of freedom and justice, Israel is desperately trying to smear and delegitimize our nonviolent movement, including with anti-democratic laws in Europe and the US aimed at silencing dissent and suppressing our freedom of speech.”

“We believe strongly that our ethical approach and just cause will prevail, as this latest G4S announcement shows.”

In September 2015, French corporate giant Veolia sold off all of its businesses in Israel. This was a direct result of a 7-year campaign against its role in infrastructure projects for illegal Israeli settlements that cost it more than $20 billion in lost tenders and contracts.

A leading France-based Israeli businessman recently told the Israeli media that the growing strength of the BDS movement means that most major European companies now avoid investing in Israel.

Foreign direct investment in Israel dropped by 46% in 2014 as compared to 2013, according to a UN report, partially due to the impressive growth of the BDS impact, as stated by one of the report’s authors.

G4S CAMPAIGN KEY MILESTONES

G4S announced in 2013 that it would end its role in illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and one Israeli prison by 2015 but did not implement the withdrawal. In 2014, G4S announced it “did not intend to renew” its contract with the Israeli Prison Service when it expired in 2017 but is yet to implement that decision.

March 2016 – UNICEF in Jordan ends its contract with G4S following campaign pressure. UNHCR in Jordan had ended its contract with G4S in December 2015.

November 2015 – UK Labour party votes to end its conference security contract with G4S.

April 2015 – More than 20 businesses in South Africa terminate their contracts with G4S, costing the company more than $500,000.

November 2014 – The municipality of Durham County in North Carolina, USA, ends its contract with G4S following a campaign by local Jewish Voice for Peace activists.

May 2014 – The Bill Gates Foundation sells the entirety of its $170m stake in G4S following an international campaign involving a petition launched by 100 organisations from across the world and demonstrations at the Gates Foundation’s Johannesburg, London and Seattle offices. The​ US​ United Methodist Church divests all G4S shares from its $20bn investment fund.

January 2014 – The student union at the University of Kent in the southeast of England votes to terminate its contract with G4S following an “outcry” over its role in human rights abuses in Palestine. Student unions across the UK later vote to take similar steps. King’s College London and Southampton universities later decided not to renew contracts with G4S following student pressure.

December 2012 – As a result of a vibrant student campaign, the University of Oslo announces that it will terminate its contract with G4S, stating it does not want to “support companies that operate in an ethical grey area”. Universities in Bergen, Norway and Helsinki, Finland later announce similar steps.

April 2012 – On the eve of a historic hunger strike by more than 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners, 13 Palestinian prisoner and human rights organisations call for a campaign to hold G4S accountable for the role it plays in maintaining Israel’s prison system, where torture prevails.

Full timeline available at: http://bdsmovement.net/g4s-timeline

– See more at: http://bdsmovement.net/2016/g4s-announces-plans-to-exit-israel-13794#sthash.Shjycmge.dpuf

An anti-BDS message from Christian Zionists

Editors Note: There has been an ongoing effort by the Israeli government to dismiss and attack the growing international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign led by Palestinian civil society as a strategy to dismantle Israeli Apartheid and end the illegal military occupation.

Now there is a new video by Christian Zionists, which also seeks to discredit the BDS campaign. We re-print an article from AlterNet, about this video.

bds-callAFL

A Christian Zionist organization just released a brazen new video targeting U.S. millennials which compares global support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign with the literal act of shooting a Bible – and equates the state of Israel with God.

The short film comes amid a coordinated U.S. and Israeli attack on the global movement for BDS, which was initiated over ten years ago by Palestinian civil society groups to demand human rights and self-determination and force Israel into compliance with international conventions. The Israeli government recently revealed that it is earmarking $26 million in this year’s budget for the purpose of sabotaging and spying on BDS supporters and Muslim activists in the United States and Europe.

This new video, released by HaYovel as part of a contest organized by the Israel Video Network, appears to be the latest salvo in the anti-BDS onslaught – this time fired from the U.S. Christian Zionist camp. It is a transparent effort to reach to reach out to young people with a slick and smooth – if outrageous – video which casts an ordinary, light-haired, church-going young American man named Wyatt at the center of the story.

Because Wyatt “cares deeply about the world and people,” he is seduced by “social media and Internet” messages about the oppression and occupation of Palestinians. Under this spell, the young man makes the bold decision to round up all of his possessions that were manufactured in Israel, take them outside, and shoot them on-by-one with an actual rifle. Among the items Wyatt riddles with bullets are a jar of Dannon yogurt, an iPhone, and a bag of McDonald’s hamburgers — items manufactured by companies that have never been targeted by the BDS movement.BDS

Wyatt is stopped by a friend, who explains that if he is going to fire at his SodaStream device and computer monitor, then he may as well shoot the Bible, because it was “made in Israel.”

Our light-haired hero is finally brought to his senses by his wise friend, who stunningly proclaims: “Most Palestinians aren’t oppressed. Those who are are oppressed by their own government. Israel provides them with work, free electricity, health care and loads of humanitarian aid. I was there and saw it.”

The video closes with the proclamation, “Don’t boycott God.”

While HaYovel – and the propaganda it produces – may seem fringe, the organization is part of a U.S. Christian Zionist camp that has real clout. The group was founded by a Tennessee couple, and its stated mission is to “take an active role in, and educate people about, the prophetic RESTORATION of the land of Israel that is happening TODAY!”

HaYovel is just one of 40 U.S.-based organizations that, aided by American taxpayers’ subsidies, have together donated over $200 million to ethnically cleanse Palestinians for the construction of illegal settlements.

HaYovel has collaborated with Christians United for Israel, which received a glowing endorsement from the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has teamed up with powerful pro-Israel lobby organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. These alliances continue to grow even though the leaders of Christian Zionism profess profoundly anti-Semitic teachings, including that Jews should be instrumentalized to hasten Armageddon, upon which only Christians will be saved.

As many have pointed out, the political ideology of Christian Zionism is also deeply racist against Palestinians. In a statement released in 2006, heads of Palestinian churches in Jerusalem rejected Christian Zionism as “a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism.”dont-buy-into-the-Israeli-occupation-2-feature

David Wildman, executive secretary for human rights and racial justice with the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, told AlterNet that the video trivializes and demonizes the BDS movement, which emerged from “over 100 Palestinian organizations from various political views coming together in commitment to human rights and nonviolent moral economic action.” He argued that the short film also “shows the danger of social media linked with young men with guns.”

And Rev. Dr. Don Wagner of Friends of Sabeel – North America, warned that the short film “may provoke laughter or ridicule from astute observers but I urge everyone to recognize the dangerous theology and “Hasbara” (propaganda) motivations behind it.” He emphasized, “The deeper issues are the misuse of the Bible and theology in the messaging of the video that is designed to advance an extreme political agenda.”