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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Palestinian Life – Cheaper than Water


Below are 2 articles on how Palestinians are perceived by an increasing number of Israelis.  In one, a Facebook poster, Nati Mor, openly advocates the extermination of the Palestinians.  Unlike an Arab who would be sentenced to at least 1 year in prison for such an offence, no action is taken.  Jewish racists are never prosecuted for racism.

There is also a touching story about how,, in their genocidal attack on Gaza last year, Israel’s ‘most moral army’ rescued 2 cats.  The cats seem to have appeared, as by magic, probably distressed by the amount of ordinance fired.  However they now have happy, warm Israeli homes.  Unlike their previous Palestinian owners.

Tony Greenstein

Israeli Advocates Palestinian Holocaust


Nati Mor’s Facebook post

Among the latest oddities and outrages in the Israeli media (including social and news media) are these:

An Israeli Facebook user, Nati Mor, posted this “panegyric” to the Palestinian people (translation by Ronnie Barkan, who found this gem).  Though it’s one of the most extreme statements I’ve read in some time, it’s important because it represents the views of so many more Israelis, including many who would never be so bold as to express themselves like this publicly:

I have sought the original post in his Facebook page but cannot find it.  Likely, either his friends warned him to remove it or, as is often the case, the Israeli military censor monitors such social media sites and contacts users to remove such incendiary posts.

Page from Tsuk and Eytan Find a Warm Home
Second oddity is a new children’s book about two street kittens rescued in Gaza by IDF soldiers during Operation Protective Edge (Tsuk Eytan in Hebrew).  The book offers a severely truncated version of events leading to the war and focuses solely on the hardship and suffering it inflicted on Israelis.  In fact, in the book Palestinians don’t exist, which seems fitting for contemporary views of them in Israel.  The cats had no previous owners.  They just came to the Israelis naturally as if they’d always known them and owned them.  The names of the kittens? Tsuk and Eytan, of course.
The ending is a beautiful, warm dream with the kittens sitting in the soldier’s bedroom enjoying their safe, secure new home.
By Maureen Clare Murphy


September 24, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "Electronic Intifada"-  “I was on the balcony of my home. I heard Saad screaming, ‘Help me. They’ve killed me,’” explains Ibrahim Dawabsha in a new short documentary produced by the Palestinian human rights group Al-Ha






q (watch it at the top of this page).

Ibrahim rushed out to find Saad Dawabsha and his wife, Riham, lying on the ground, their bodies on fire.

A masked figure stood near Saad, and another stood near his wife.

Ibrahim carried Saad and then Riham away from their burning home, and then rescued their 4-year-old son Ahmed from inside.

“I took him to my neighbor’s house. The neighbor told me that there was also another child inside the house. His name was Ali. I went back to Saad’s home. At that time, the whole house was on fire.”

A relative mourns next to the body of 18-month-old Palestinian Ali Dawabsha, who was killed after his family’s house was set on fire in a suspected attack by Jewish settlers in Duma village in the occupied West Bank on 31 July.
Ahmad Talat APA images
While villagers waited for firefighters to arrive, they tried in vain to rescue baby Ali, who perished in the fire.

Violent cell

Six hours before the Dawabsha family home was set ablaze in the occupied West Bank village of Duma on 31 July, Israel’s Channel 2 aired an exposé on a group of settlers who had set fire to the historic Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes in the Galilee region of present-day Israel.
When they were arrested, Channel 2 reported, the members of the cell admitted that they had set fire to the church as well as to homes and mosques in the West Bank. Investigators found a CD they produced which describes how Arabs can be burned alive: break the windows of a home, throw flammable material into the rooms and set fire to the exits.

“This way Arabs are burned to death,” the instructions assure.

After the Dawabsha home was set on fire, the Israeli military held a press conference outside it.
Al-Haq’s documentary shows an army spokesperson stating, in Arabic, that Israel promises “to arrest those who did this and bring them to justice.”

A Palestinian girl writes a message on a wall in the firebombed Dawabsha family home in Duma village in the occupied West Bank, 7 September.  Shadi Hatem APA images
No one knows the emptiness of such promises more than Hussein Abu Khudair.

His 16-year-old son Muhammad was abducted from outside his Jerusalem home and burned alive in June 2014, hours after a right-wing rally in the city during which protesters chanted “Death to the Arabs.”

“Those who abducted my son had participated in the demonstration, which provided moral support for them to kidnap and set my son Muhammad on fire,” Hussein explains in the documentary.

“For four days, the Israeli police claimed that my son had been killed on grounds of family disputes,” he adds.

“If it had not been for surveillance cameras that documented the abduction and the abductors, the Israeli police would have registered the case against unknown persons.”

“When the judge is your enemy”

The perpetrators of Muhammad’s murder are being brought to trial. But Hussein doesn’t believe that it will bring justice for his family.

“The Israeli judiciary is not impartial. When the judge is your enemy, who can you complain to? The Israeli judiciary is sympathetic to these criminals.”
Hussein insists that the people who killed his son should not have been able to commit the crime in the first place.

“The police cooperated with them in spite of the fact that they should have arrested them before they burned and killed Muhammad,” he says.

One can only imagine that Saad and Riham Dawabsha would say the same about those who murdered 18-month-old Ali.

But Saad died of his injuries one week after the attack, and then Riham succumbed to hers one month later.

Impunity

Nearly two months since the attack, no one has been charged in connection with the crime, though the Israeli government knows who did it.

The Israeli army spokesperson’s promise to catch the Dawabsha family’s killers is cynical enough, given the long history of settlers attacking Palestinians and their crops, homes and places of worship without punishment.

But it is also totally insincere, as the army protects those settlers’ very presence in the West Bank through its violent occupation that robs Palestinians of their most basic rights.
Israel’s army exists in service to the settlers, who are a necessary component of the state’s settler-colony enterprise.

Why would the army inflict worse punishment on settlers when its own uniformed soldiers routinely get away with murdering Palestinians at checkpoints, like they did 18-year-old Hadil Salah Hashlamoun on Tuesday?

To believe that a Palestinian family could obtain justice in Israel’s courts is to completely ignore the reality of the system and who it is designed to serve.
Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.
© 2000-2015 electronicIntifada.net



Israel's Execution Without Trial of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun

Israeli Soldiers Watch and Settlers Laugh as Shot Palestinian Girl Bleeds to Death

Michaela Whitton

September 23, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — An 18-year-old Palestinian girl has died from wounds sustained after she was shot by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday morning.

The teenager is the second Palestinian to be killed in 24 hours in the occupied West Bank after 21-year-old Dia al-Talameh was killed in the village of Khursa. An Israeli army spokesperson told Al-Jazeera the 21-year-old intended to throw a molotov cocktail at a military vehicle and it detonated on himself. Palestinian security officials claim he was shot by Israeli troops.

Initial Israeli media reports claimed the 18-year-old university student Hadeel Hashlamon was shot in her lower body after she attempted to stab a soldier at Hebron’s Shuhada Street checkpoint on Tuesday morning.

It later emerged that the teenager was shot several times, including in the chest. Locals deny she was carrying a knife.

Eye-witness Fawaz abu Aisheh said that teenager — who was carrying a large school satchel — froze because she didn’t understand what the soldiers were screaming at her in Hebrew.
“I tried to talk with her, she was terrified. She knew nothing,” he said. He described begging soldiers to let him to take her away from the checkpoint.

The impunity that Israel historically enjoys from prosecution for war crimes means we will probably never know what happened. Whether the young soldier was fearful the young student was carrying a bomb or simply panicked because she was fully covered in a niqab, she didn’t follow his orders — so he shot her.

“She was covered completely, there was no knife showing at any time. Even if she did have a knife he could have arrested her so easily. I was there, I could have talked to her, she cooperated with me in that very first moment,” Abu Aisheh told the International Solidarity Movement.

The ugly face of Israel’s dehumanisation of Palestinians was further revealed in a disturbing video by Palmedia that showed the aftermath of the shooting. Not only were paramedics prevented from approaching the teenager, but Israeli settlers laughed and pointed as she bled on the ground. Israeli soldiers are shown casually standing around and chatting before dragging her body out of shot by the feet.

Slain teen Dia al-Talameh
Wattan TV reported that the young Palestinian was left bleeding on the ground for 30 minutes before receiving medical treatment. She later died of her injuries in a Jerusalem hospital.

Even if there was a knife, the answer to why the most moral army in the world didn’t employ an alternative than to use close-range, rapid fire straight into the chest of a Palestinian teenager lies in Israel’s long history of literally getting away with murder.

Young soldiers based throughout occupied Palestine — many of whom are 19-years-old themselves — are fully secure in the knowledge that there will be little to no recourse for their actions. After all, what’s another dead Palestinian? They would have only grown up to be a terrorist.

Amnesty: Killing of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun was ‘extrajudicial execution’

Ben Norton on September 25, 2015


Leading human rights organization Amnesty International says the killing of the 18-year-old Palestinian Hadeel al-Hashlamoun on September 22 by an Israeli soldier was an “extrajudicial execution.”

A video of al-Hashlamoun lying on the ground dying has circulated widely on the internet.
Amnesty, which is headquarted in London, interviewed two eyewitnesses who saw Israeli occupation forces shoot the young student in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. Based on the evidence, Amnesty concluded that al-Hashlamoun “at no time posed a sufficient threat to the soldiers to make their use of deliberate lethal force permissible.”

“This killing is the latest in a long line of unlawful killings carried out by the Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank with near total impunity,” Amnesty said.

Account of the incident

Two Israeli soldiers stopped the young woman at a checkpoint in Hebron at around 7:40 AM on September 22. Amnesty’s eyewitnesses did not consult with each other, in order to assure accuracy of their accounts. The witnesses told Amnesty al-Hashlamoun was asked to open her bag for a search. She showed them the inside of her bag, but the soldiers began to yell at her, and she froze in fear. They were shouting in Hebrew, which the young woman did not understand.

Witness Fawaz Abu Aisheh, who speaks Hebrew, said he tried to help the young woman, who was trying to leave the checkpoint. He offered to translate for her, but four Israeli soldiers arrived and pushed him away. At this point, a soldier shot al-Hashlamoun in the leg. The young woman fell to the ground. One witness says he saw her drop a knife with a brown handle, but another said he did not see a knife.

The Israeli soldier then walked closer to al-Hashlamoun and shot at her chest four or five more times, while she was lying motionless on the ground. Other soldiers yelled at him to stop, yet he kept on shooting.

The Israeli military claims that al-Hashlamoun walked toward the occupation forces with a knife, but witnesses said the young woman had her hands inside her niqab, her full veil, the entire time, and never tried to move toward any of the soldiers. Israel also released a photo of a knife with a blue and yellow handle on the ground at the scene. The two eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty and photographs of the incident contradict these official claims.

As for the allegation that al-Hashlamoun had a knife, Amnesty remarks:

Even if al-Hashlamoun did have a knife, Israeli soldiers, who are protected with body armour and heavily equipped with advanced weapons, could have controlled the situation and arrested her without threatening her life. Open fire regulations of the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank allow soldiers to open fire only when their lives are in imminent danger, and Amnesty International concludes that this was not the case in the shooting of al-Hashlamoun, as she was standing still and separated from the soldiers by a metal barrier. There was no attempt to arrest al-Hashlamoun, according to the eyewitnesses, or to use non-lethal alternatives.

To then shoot al-Hashlamoun again multiple times as she lay wounded on the ground indicates that her killing was an extrajudicial execution. Unlawful and deliberate killings carried out by order of government or military officials, or with their complicity or acquiescence, amount to extrajudicial executions, which are prohibited at all times and constitute crimes under international law. An extrajudicial execution would also constitute a wilful killing, which is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies to Israel’s long-standing military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and a war crime.

An eyewitness who stayed in the area around al-Hashlamoun for 15-20 minutes after the shooting, before being forced to leave by Israeli soldiers, said no medical help was given to the young woman, who lay bleeding to death. Local media reported that Israeli forces prevented Palestinian medics from helping al-Hashlamoun, and did not put her into an ambulance for 30-40 minutes after they shot her.
“In order to comply with their obligations under the right to life, Israeli forces had a duty to provide al- Hashlamoun with medical assistance at the earliest possible moment, which they clearly did not meet,” Amnesty said.

Violations of international law

In Hebron, Israeli settlements are located in the center of the city. The young woman was killed near these settlements, which Amnesty makes clear “are illegal under international law.”

“Palestinian residents of Hebron have had their freedom of movement and their economic rights severely curtailed by” the closures imposed on parts of the city by Israeli occupation forces, Amnesty explains. “In addition, Palestinians are often subject to arbitrary detention and humiliating treatment by Israeli security forces stationed in the city, and are often subject to settler violence, which the Israeli authorities fail to investigate effectively.”

The Israeli military says it is investigation the killing, but Amnesty writes:

such internal investigations have consistently failed to identify those responsible for previous unlawful killings or to hold anyone accountable. International law requires states to ensure prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into suspected extrajudicial executions. Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to carry out such an investigation into the incident, promptly disclose the findings and ensure that anyone responsible for a human rights violation is brought to justice and that the victim’s family receives full reparation. Failure to effectively investigate a suspected unlawful killing in itself constitutes a violation of the right to life.
The human rights organization indicates that it has “consistently criticized the Israeli authorities for their failure to bring to justice military or police personnel, who operate with impunity.” Amnesty drew attention to its 2014 report Trigger Happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank.
Amnesty also notes that more than 25 Palestinians, including at least three children, have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank in 2015. In 2014, dozens more in the West Bank were killed by Israeli soldiers. “In many cases, it appears that the killings were unlawful, and some may have been either wilful killings or extrajudicial executions,” the human rights organization states.

Wanted: The killer of Hadeel al-Hashlamoun

(Image: Shaul Hanuka via Tikun Olam) 

Richard Silverstein

Thank you to Shaul Hanuka for his wonderful work creating this wanted poster featuring the killer of Palestinian student, Hadil al-Hashlomon.  I appeal once again for any Israelis who know this person to step forward and name him.  He deserves to be held accountable for what Amnesty International has called an “extrajudicial execution.”  

Please circulate this poster online everywhere you can.

+972 Blog 27 Sept by Noam Rotem —
Why is the Israeli army refusing to release its footage from the shooting of 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamon?

Was the shooting an act of self defense by the soldiers wearing ballistic vests in the checkpoint, standing behind a steel barrier separating them and the young woman, as claimed by the IDF Spokesperson? Or was it an “extrajudicial execution,” as Amnesty claimed, and which B’Tselem said in more cautious terms. It won’t be difficult to find the answer. It would actually be very easy. The IDF has video footage of the entire event, showing the entire sequence of events. To this day, five days since the shooting, the army has chosen not to release that video, a choice that raises questions about its motivations. Is the army covering up for yet another soldier who sentenced a civilian to death in the West Bank? Did the young woman threaten to attack the armed soldiers to the point that they felt a threat to their lives and that they had no choice but to shoot her? Did Hashlamon pull out and wave a knife at the soldiers? Could she have actually reached soldiers standing on the other side of the barrier separating them? And after the first shot, was there a justification for shooting the 18-year-old in her stomach and chest, while she was lying unresponsive on the ground? All of the evidence is available, all of the testimonies have been recorded. The military prosecutor must put on trial the soldier who cut short Hadeel al-Hashlamon’s life, or alternatively, release the video showing that it was indeed self defense. The IDF Spokesperson had no response when asked why video of the event hasn’t been published yet and whether it intends to do so.





Monday, 28 September 2015

Dianne Feinstein – Fighting Against Free Speech for Palestinians

Dianne Feinstein and Arms Trading Husband Seek to Expel Students Who Criticise Israel

The world through Zionist spectacles
Dianne Feinstein is a Senator and a pillar of the US Democratic establishment.  Fiercely Zionist she and her war profteering husband, Richard Blum have been exerting heavy pressure on the University of California to suppress free speech for Palestinian supporters.  The pretext?  You guessed it.  Anti-Semitism of course.
Berkley Campus UC campus
It is based on the State Department’s 2010 definition of anti-Semitism whch means: 
State Department Definition of anti-Semitism
State Department Definition of anti-Semitism relative to Israel
(1) “Demonizing Israel” by “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”

Presumably blowing people up or burning them alive inside their homes was not something Nazi Germany did?  Or was turning whole areas into ghettos not a Nazi mode of operaton?

“blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions”;

It is a matter of fact that the leaders of Israel have deliberately set out to destablilise their neighbours on religious/confessionalist lines.  In Liviah Rokach’s book Sacred Terrorism, she quotes 
The Chief of Staff [Dayan] supports a plan to hire a [Lebanese] officer who will agree to serve as a puppet so that the Israeli army may appear as responding to his appeal to liberate Lebanon from its Muslim oppressors...’ (5/28/54; 1024). 

The latter, of course, came about with the creation of the ‘security zone’ in Lebanon from 1979-1990.’ 
One of 10 UC campuses, Royston Hall, Los Angeles
And she quotes him again in May 1955 as saying that Israel ‘must—invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation- and-revenge… And above all—let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.”

What ‘space’ was Dayan referring to if not ‘living space’ lebensraum?

(2) Espousing a “Double standard for Israel” by “requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”
It’s difficult to know why the State department believes that evicting Palestinians who’ve lived in their homes for generations in order to make way for Jewish settlers isn’t something one would expect of any half-decent toilet trained western state?  Or perhaps torturing and killing children as young as 12 is acceptable in the European Union now?  Or is criticising the confiscation of land, water and  natural resources for the benefit of the Untermenschen anti-Semitic?  Perhaps condemning the burning alive of the Dawabsheh family in  Duma village was also anti-Semitic?  And how about the refusal to pay them anti-terrorism compensation, which Jewish settlers receive?  Is that anti-Semitic?
Feinstein - Police State Democrat
or “multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations”; or 

Would Israel feel happier if it was in the company of Saudi Arabia and Quatar or China?  Does this double standard apply to organisations that focus only on Tibet or the Syrian Kurds or any other minority people?  What has this to do with racism?  What about anti-Apartheid groups?  Were they anti-White as the Afrikaaners used to claim?

(3) “Delegitimize Israel” by “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.”

This is the clincher.  Delegitimising Israel.  Questioning its ‘right to exist’.  But some of us would have questioned ‘the right to exist’ of Nazi Germany, Apartheid South Africa, the Protestant state of Ulster and any other settler state.  What has this to do with racism as opposed to anti-racism?
And what’s this about the ‘right to self-determination’ of the Jewish people?  It used to be the case that those who asserted there was one Jewish people were considered anti-Semitic.  After all the unbroken links between Jews, wherever they lived, formed the basis of the world Jewish conspiracy.  Jews are part of the countries they live in.  They are not a separate people.

Thus is the dishonesty of the ruling class attempt to police free speech demonstrated.  In fact this whole definition rests on the idea that you can be racist against a state.  You can’t.  A state is a human construct, it is inanimate, it has no feelings, it doesn’t live.  Racism is meaningless against anyone bar human beings.

Tony Greenstein

The Greatest Threat to Campus Free Speech is Coming From Dianne Feinstein and her Military-Contractor Husband

Sep. 25 2015, 8:47 p.m.

There is no shortage of American pundits who love to denounce “PC” speech codes that restrict and punish the expression of certain ideas on college campuses. What these self-styled campus-free-speech crusaders typically — and quite tellingly — fail to mention is that the most potent such campaigns are often devoted to outlawing or otherwise punishing criticisms of Israel. The firing by the University of Illinois of Professor Steven Salatia for his “uncivil” denunciations of the Israeli war on Gaza — a termination that was privately condoned by Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin — is merely illustrative of this longgrowing trend.

One of the most dangerous threats to campus free speech has been emerging at the highest levels of the University of California system, the sprawling collection of 10 campuses that includes UCLA and UC Berkeley. The university’s governing Board of Regents, with the support of University President Janet Napolitano and egged on by the state’s legislature, has been attempting to adopt new speech codes that — in the name of combating “anti-Semitism” — would formally ban various forms of Israel criticism and anti-Israel activism.

Under the most stringent such regulations, students found to be in violation of these codes would face suspension or expulsion. In July, it appeared that the Regents were poised to enact the most extreme version, but decided instead to push the decision off until September, when they instead would adopt non-binding guidelines to define “hate speech” and “intolerance.”

One of the Regents most vocally advocating for the most stringent version of the speech code is Richard Blum, the multi-millionaire defense contractor who is married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. At a Regents meeting last week, reported the Los Angeles Times, Blum expressly threatened that Feinstein would publicly denounce the university if it failed to adopt far more stringent standards than the ones it appeared to be considering, and specifically demanded they be binding and contain punishments for students found to be in violation.

The San Francisco Chronicle put it this way: “Regent Dick Blum said his wife, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ‘is prepared to be critical of this university’ unless UC not only tackles anti-Jewish bigotry but also makes clear that perpetrators will be punished.” The lawyer Ken White wrote that “Blum threatened that his wife … would interfere and make trouble if the Regents didn’t commit to punish people for prohibited speech.” As campus First Amendment lawyer Ari Cohn put it the following day, “Feinstein and her husband think college students should be expelled for protected free speech.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., left, and her husband, Richard Blum, in the audience prior to a debate between California gubernatorial candidates at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, Calif., Oct. 12, 2010.  
Photo: Paul Sakuma/AP
Blum’s verbatim comments at the Regents meeting are even creepier than that reporting suggests:
'I should add that over the weekend my wife, your senior Senator, and I talked about this issue at length. She wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want. Students that do the things that have been cited here today probably ought to have a dismissal or a suspension from school. I don’t know how many of you feel strongly that way but my wife does and so do I.'
Sarah McLaughlin of the campus free-speech group FIRE wrote: “Yes, a UC Regent flatly threatened the university with political consequences if it failed to craft a ‘tolerance’ policy that would punish — and even expel — its violators.”

In response to inquiries from The Intercept, Feinstein refused to say whether her husband was authorized to make such threats on her behalf, but she refused to distance herself from them. “This is a matter before the University of California and Senator Feinstein has no comment at this time,” her Press Secretary said.

The specific UC controversy is two-fold: whether, in combating “anti-semitism,” the university should adopt the State Department’s controversial 2010 definition of that term, and separately, whether students who express ideas that fall within that definition should be formally punished up to and including permanent expulsion. What makes the State Department definition so controversial — particularly for an academic setting — is that alongside uncontroversial and obvious examples of classic bigotry (e.g., expressing hateful or derogatory sentiments toward Jews generally), that definition includes a discussion of what it calls “Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel.”

How does speech about Israel become “anti-Semitic”? According to the State Department, “anti-Semitism” includes those who (1) “Demonize Israel” by “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” or “blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions”; (2) espouse a “Double standard for Israel” by “requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” or “multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations”; or (3) “Delegitimize Israel” by “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” The State Department generously adds this caveat at the end: “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

The ironies of this definition are overwhelming. First, it warns against advocating a “double standard for Israel” — at exactly the same time that it promulgates a standard that applies only to Israel. Would the State Department ever formally condemn what it regards as excessive or one-sided criticism of any other government, such as Russia or Iran? Why isn’t the State Department also accusing people of bigotry who create “double standards” for Iran by obsessing over the anti-gay behavior of Iran while ignoring the same or worse abuses in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uganda? The State Department is purporting to regulate the discourse surrounding just one country — Israel — while at the same time condemning “double standards.”

Worse, this State Department definition explicitly equates certain forms of criticism of Israel or activism against Israeli government policies with “anti-Semitism.” In other words, the State Department embraces the twisted premise that a defining attribute of “Jews” everywhere is the actions of the Israeli government, which is itself a longstanding anti-Semitic trope.

But most important of all, whatever you think of this State Department definition, it has no place whatsoever regulating which ideas can and cannot be expressed in an academic institution, particularly one that is run by the state (such as the University of California). Adoption of this “anti-Semitism” definition clearly would function to prohibit the advocacy of, say, a one-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict, or even the questioning of a state’s right to exist as a non-secular entity. How can anyone think it’s appropriate to declare such ideas off limits in academic classrooms or outlaw them as part of campus activism?

To ban the expression of any political ideas in such a setting would not only be wildly anti-intellectual but also patently unconstitutional. As UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky put it today in an LA Times op-ed: “There unquestionably is a 1st Amendment right to argue against (or for) the existence of Israel or to contend that it should meet (or not have to meet) higher standards of human rights than other nations.” Even the now-retired Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman — while arguing that “the effort to support boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, is sinister and malicious and is having a negative effect on Jewish students on some campuses and on the wider Jewish community” — acknowledged in May that such bans would be clearly unconstitutional:

Legislation that bars BDS activity by private groups, whether corporations or universities, strikes at the heart of First Amendment-protected free speech, will be challenged in the courts and is likely to be struck down. A decision by a private body to boycott Israel, as despicable as it may be, is protected by our Constitution. Perhaps in Europe, where hate speech laws exist and are acceptable within their own legal frameworks, such bills could be sustained. But not here in America.

But none of that seems to matter to Dianne Feinstein and her war-profiteering husband, Richard Blum. Not only is Blum demanding adoption of the State Department definition, despite the fact that (more accurately: because) it would encompass some forms of BDS activism and even criticisms of Israel. But, worse, he’s also insisting that it be binding and that students who express the ideas that fall within the State Department definition be suspended from school or expelled. And he’s overtly threatening that if he does not get his way, then his wife 0- “Your Senior Senator” — will get very upset and start publicly attacking the university, a threat that public school administrators who rely on the government for their budgets take very seriously.

This behavior is as adolescent as it is despotic. Does anyone believe that college and post-graduate students should be able to express only those ideas about Israel that Dianne Feinstein and her war-profiteering husband deem acceptable?

It’s no mystery what this is really about. The Israeli government and its most devoted advocates around the world are petrified at the growing strength of the movement to boycott Israeli goods in protest of the almost five-decade occupation. As Foxman conceded, the boycott idea “seems to be picking up steam, particularly on college campuses across the United States. While no universities have yet adopted or implemented BDS, there are a growing number of campuses — now up to 29 — where student organizations have held votes to determine whether they support BDS.” Just this week, the City Council of Reykjavik, the largest city in Iceland, voted to boycott all Israeli goods as long as the occupation persists (days later, the City quickly retracted the vote, citing the unexpectedly intense “backlash” from Israel).

After the horrific massacre they committed in Gaza last summer, followed by its devastating defeat on the Iran Deal, the Israeli government is rapidly losing the PR battle around the world, and they know it. The boycott movement scares them above all else because it is predicated on the truth that they are most eager to suppress: the similarities between what Israel is doing to the Palestinians and the apartheid policies of South Africa (which were undermined by a global boycott movement and which the world now universally regards as evil).

Since they are losing the debate about this movement, the Israeli government and its loyalists are instead seeking to suppress it altogether, to literally outlaw it. Recall that in May, the right-wing Canadian government threatened hate speech charges against those who advocate a boycott of Israel; the country’s Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau, decreed via Twitter that “the BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses.” Back in 2013, the ADL took out a full-page ad in the New York Times announcing that “the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — known as BDS — is anti-Semitic hate speech.”

The effort to formally re-define “anti-Semitism” to include certain criticisms of and activism against the Israeli government has been coordinated and deliberate. That history is laid out with ample evidence here by the non-profit group Palestine Legal; here by Ali Abunimah’s book The Battle for Justice in Palestine, the relevant portion of which was published by The Intercept; and here by the writer and activist Ben White. In essence, this re-definition was first promulgated by Israeli lobbyists and academics, imposed with varying degrees of success on the EU, and then successfully imported into the Clinton-led State Department.

It’s one thing to apply political pressure to induce governments to adopt speech-repressive definitions of “anti-Semitism” that are non-binding. It’s another thing entirely to try to import them onto state-run college campuses where they are used to outlaw the expression of certain forms of criticisms of the Israeli government. And it’s another thing entirely for a prominent public official like Dianne Feinstein to have her husband throw their ample financial and political weight around in order to threaten and bully school administrators to ban ideas that this power couple dislike and punish the students who express them.

The obvious goal with this UC battle is to institutionalize the notion on American college campuses that activism against the Israeli government is not merely wrong but is actually “hate speech” that should subject its student advocates (or professors) to severe punishment. If this menacing censorship is allowed to take hold in an academic system as large and influential as the University of California, then it’s much easier for the censors to point to it in the future as a model, in order to infect other academic institutions in the U.S. and around the world. That’s all the more reason to vehemently oppose it in this instance. If defenders of Israel are determined to defeat the boycott movement, they’ll have to find other ways to do it besides rendering its advocacy illegal and, in the process, destroying the long-cherished precept of free speech in academia.

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