27 April 2010

Scottish TUC Support Full Boycott Against Israel

Whilst the Scottish TUC Move to Break Links with Histadrut British PSC Defend the Link with Histadrut

The contrast between the Scottish TUC, which has given full support to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and the British TUC couldn’t be more marked.

On the one hand the Scottish TUC is indicating it will cut its links with Histadrut, the apartheid ‘union’ that Bernard Regan, Trade Union officer of the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign says is a ‘changed animal’ on the other the British TUC is launching a campaign to Boycott Settler Goods, whilst at the same time denouncing a full Boycott of Israel.

It is to PSC’s everlasting shame that rather than protest at this attack against the call for BDS, PSC actually linked to the TUC statement without comment until it was deluged with criticism.

At a time when trade unionists were eager to show their disgust at the bombing by Israel of Gaza and Histadrut’s support for it, PSC actually held back support by defending Histadrut’s position in the Trade Union movement.

That is the reality of British PSC’s position. Politically, in its attempt to shore up waning support for 2 States, it is actually prepared to defend linking to Zionist para-state bodies by claiming they have ‘changed’ without showing an iota of evidence to support this.
Tony Greenstein

Scottish TUC Congress 2010 reaffirms BDS and signals conclusion to consultations on Histadrut
At its annual meeting in Dundee this week, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) reaffirmed and deepened its commitment to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The STUC confirmed its participation with the South African and Irish Trade Union Congresses, and many individual trades unions around the world in building support for the call from Palestinian civil society for BDS.

The complete absence of any pro-Israel presence, lobbying or intervention from delegates was striking. In previous years US diplomats have intervened in the deliberations of Congress to lobby behind the scenes against motions from Midlothian Trade Union Council calling for BDS and a severing of links with the Israeli pseudo-trade union, the Histadrut. Whereas the recent BDS Conference in Dublin called by the Irish CTU was stunned by a self-incriminating presentation from Histadrut spokesperson Avital Shapira-Shabirow, Trade Union Friends of Israel/Histadrut, defenders of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, stayed away from the STUC Congress.

Jim Malone, FBU Regional Organiser who moved the main BDS motion to Congress, welcomed the unanimous decision by the STUC to pass the composite motion on Palestine as “a clear message of support to the Palestinian people” and said that “in condemning the Histadrut for its collusion in the continued oppression and dehumanisation process by the Zionist government in Tel Aviv, the STUC have shown the lead and look set to break its link with the government sponsored Histadrut.”

The motion also called on the STUC General Council to investigate “the long-standing links between the Jewish National Fund and Histadrut, to determine if their policies and practices are consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity”. Mike Arnott of Dundee Trade Union Council, who seconded the BDS motion, writes:

“The final day, Wednesday, of the STUC Congress in Dundee proved a moving and positive one for the issue of support for Palestine. Just before lunchtime a composite motion moved by the Fire Brigades Union and seconded by Dundee Trade Union Council called on the STUC to step up their pressure on the Israeli Histadrut and the Jewish National Fund, which was unanimously supported. Congress also unanimously supported an accompanying statement from the STUC General Council which committed the STUC to take a position on recognition of the Histadrut by November of this year.
"Then an SPSC fringe meeting addressed by Jim Malone of the FBU and Yasmin Khan of War on Want was transfixed by a contribution, by live phone link, from Jamal Juma of Stop the Wall. Immediately after lunch an emergency motion from Dundee TUC condemning next week’s exhibition at Holyrood [Scottish Parliament] was unanimously adopted. Building on the STUC’s groundbreaking work on BDS it was inspiring to be a part of today’s events. Jamal Juma’s contribution both humbled all that were at the meeting and inspired us all to greater efforts on behalf of the people of Palestine.”
At the same meeting Phil McGarry of the Scottish Region of RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) called on Scottish and other trade unionists to take the initiative in support of the Palestinians, and not to wait for developments elsewhere.

This year’s advances build on previous work. Liz Elkind said after the Congress:

"As a former member of the STUC General Council and a member of the STUC’s delegation in 2009 to meet Israeli and Palestinian trade unions, I am pleased that this year’s annual congress reaffirmed its commitment to the BDS campaign.

Israel’s trade union centre, Histadrut, must be called to account for its complicity in the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.” (Liz Elkind is also a member of Scottish Jews for Just Peace.)

The STUC resolutions follow similar progress in the Irish CTU. It should also be seen in the context of a damning criticism of Israel’s criminality by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, who said that “you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in”.

It also comes on the heels of a landmark ruling by a Scottish Court that opposition to Israel’s ethnic cleansing has nothing in common with anti-Semitism. Even before Israel’s most recent massacres in Gaza, a majority of the members of the present Scottish Government Cabinet had publicly signed up to “an important message to the Palestinian people expressing Scotland’s disgust at their treatment at the hands of the Israeli Government.”

Accompanying the main motion, a statement on behalf of the STUC General Council announced the opening of the final period of consultation on the role of the Histadrut. Resolutions, however, are only resolutions. Scottish PSC and the broad movement of support in Scotland for Palestinian freedom needs to work during the next five months to develop awareness and commitment among the members of individual Scottish trade unions.

To help in this, the STUC has produced a BDS campaign pack for members and we need to help distribute these to branches and individual trade union members. The SPSC factsheet series also covers the Histadrut and the JNF; they all need to get the widest distribution among trade union activists and members.

We urge trade union and civil society organisations, wherever they may be, in Palestine, around the world, and in Israel, to submit documents to the Scottish TUC General Council explaining why the Histadrut and the JNF are key institutions in the Zionist programme of dispossession of the Palestinians and, thus, to be boycotted.

Contact us at campaign@scottishpsc.org.uk

- to order sets of SPSC Factsheets (also available for download from www.scottishpsc.org.uk)
- organise a presentation or a speaker for a discussion on the Histadrut and the JNF at your trade union branch meeting
- to request your copies of the STUC BDS campaign pack

Scottish TUC Motions

Composite P – Palestine (covering motion nos. 104, 105, 106 and amendment)

“That this Congress notes that a year after the barbaric onslaught of Gaza, the collective punishment and near imprisonment of its people by the Israeli occupation forces continues. Congress recognises, however, that the Government is complicit in allowing Israel to continue to act with impunity.

“Congress is proud of the STUC’s history of support for the rights of the Palestinian people and welcomes the efforts of the General Council to carry forward the 2009 resolution on boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel, alongside COSATU and the ICTU.

“Congress applauds the work by the FBU in supporting Palestinian workers through the visit in November 2009 to Scotland of eight firefighters from Nablus.

“Congress asks the General Council to:

- Condemn the Histadrut statement, regarding the attacks on Gaza;

- Campaign against the complicity of our politicians;

- Continue STUC’s review of its relationship with Histadrut, including the long-standing links between the Jewish National Fund and Histadrut, to determine if their policies and practices are consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity; and

Encourage positive investment in Palesitnian public services throughout the Scottish Trade Union Movement, with the creation by the STUC of a training/skills forum for Palestinian workers, following discussions with the relevant organisations, such as the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.”

Mover: Fire Brigades Union
Seconder: Dundee TUC
Supporter: Midlothian TUC

Original motions can be found here:

Israel’s State Terrorism

At last week's demonstration in an area the Israeli Army has designated a no-man's land (i.e. free fire zone) 3 demonstrators were shot with live ammunition. All 3 were hospitalised and at least one is in a serious condition.

This is the answer to those who call for 'peace talks' and 'negotiations' with the Israeli state. Only the fools and knaves of the Palestinian Authority seriously believe that negotiations and talks can lead anywhere other than more confiscations.

When the Zionists speak of terror, for some reason they refuse to include their own actions. Everything they do is for 'security' - the same excuse as the Nazis used.

The Israeli army defend their use of live ammunition because Palestinian youth throw stones at them. Live bullets against stones. They say their lives are in danger. Strange this. On April 21st settlers at Yizhar threw stones at the Israeli army. The army didn't respond with live ammunition
and even denied settler claims that they had done so.

There is no recorded instance of the Israeli army opening fire on Israeli settlers who stone either the Israeli army (rarely) or Palestinians (often).

This is itself shows the racist nature of Israeli Army operations in the West Bank. Likewise Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators in Jerusalem have thrown stones at the Police. Again there is no recorded instance of them opening fire. Why? Because as the rabbis will confirm

Jewish Blood is More Valuable than Palestinian blood in the eyes of the Israeli state

Two Palestinians and an International activist shot with live ammunition at a non-violent demonstration against the Buffer Zone in Gaza.

El Maghazi, Deir Al Balah, Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territories, 24th April 2010, 12PM - At a peaceful nonviolent demonstration against the forceful cessation of farming within what Israel defines as a "buffer zone," which was attended by 150 people, two Palestinians demonstrators and one International activist were shot. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators from the border fence. Nidal Al Naji (18) was shot in the right thigh. Hind Al Akra (22) was shot in the stomach and is undergoing emergency surgery. Bianca Zimmit (28) from Malta was filming the demonstration when she was shot in her left thigh. The wounded are currently being treated in Al Aqsa Hospital.

Shortly after 11 a.m., women and men, including 6 ISM activists, marched from Al Maghazi towards the Israeli fence closing off the Gaza strip. After being met with live ammunition upon cresting a ridge, some demonstrators continued walking forward. This group included six women, two ISM activists and 20 men. The 20 male demonstrators reached the border fence. Zimmit was shot while filming the demonstration between the ridge and the fence, at a distance of roughly 80-100 meters. Hind Al Akra, also standing between the ridge and the fence, was shot in the stomach, and Niadal al Naji was shot in the leg near the fence. Demonstrators carried the wounded back across rough terrain to taxis for transport to Al-Aqsa Hospital.

The demonstrations are held in protest against the arbitrary decision by Israel to instate a 300 metre buffer zone as no-go area for Palestinians where "shoot to kill" policy is implemented. People have been shot regularly as far as 2 kilometres away from the border. Popular Campaign for the Security in the Buffer Zone, an umbrella organization that includes organizations representing farmers and Gaza residents living near the border, and also a number of political parties are present at many of these demonstrations.

Those venturing to the border regions to gather rubble and steel do so as a result of the siege on Gaza which, along with Israel’s 23 day winter war on Gaza, has decimated Gaza’s economy, including 95 percent of Gaza’s factories and businesses, according to the United Nations. Additionally, these recycled construction materials are vital in Gaza where the Israeli-led siege bans all but under 40 items from entering.

The siege prevents vitally needed construction materials from entering Gaza, where over 6,400 houses were destroyed or severely damaged in the Israeli war on Gaza, and nearly 53,000 sustained lesser damages. Hospitals and medical centres, schools, kindergartens and mosques are among the other buildings destroyed and damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza. International Solidarity Movement Ryan Olander - Media Office

ISM volunteer shot, hospitalized; ISM co-founder arrested
Posted on: March 20, 2010 | ShareThis
19 March 2010

UPDATE: Huwaida Arraf released on 20 March after being illegally under arrest for 31 hours. Eight of these hours were spent standing in the cold in the illegal Halamish settlement. During this time she witnessed the border police by whom she was detained abuse the two Palestinian men who were also illegally arrested, Omar, 23, and Amjad, 22. She was treated with vulgar verbal abuse. After refusing to stare at wall, the police became particular violent. They picked her up by her handcuffed arms and threw onto the pavement. She was brought to Ramle Prison and released without seeing a judge.

Friday’s demonstration in An Nabi Saleh saw an increase in violence and collective punishment from the Israeli military, as twenty-five demonstrators were injured, windows of cars and homes were intentionally shattered, and three were arrested. ISM volunteer Ellen Stark was shot at point blank range (4 meters) with a rubber bullet as she stood with medics, Popular Committee members and other internationals. ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf was arrested while negotiating with the IOF to allow Ellen through the military line to get to the hospital. According to Ellen, “we were standing on Palestinian land, in support of the village who’s land has been confiscated but we weren’t even demonstrating yet. We were standing with medics who were also shot with tear gas.”

Ellen’s had to undergo surgery to remove the bullet, which was lodged between her ulna and radius of her right arm. Her wrist is broken as a result of the bullet impact. As of 12:00 pm Saturday, Palestine time, Huwaida has yet to be located in the Israeli prison system.
Over an hour before the demonstration began, soldiers took position on a hilltop near the house of an An Nabi Saleh Popular Committee member signaling to activists that the peaceful march would likely be cut short yet again by soldiers using crowd dispersal tactics such as tear gas and sound grenades. The demonstration was able to take it’s usual course, as IOF soldiers blocked the path of the activists, and began to surround them from multiple sides. Only ten minutes into the demonstration, the army began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at a small group of international, Israeli, and Palestinian activists only four meters away, injuring International Solidarity Movement volunteer, Ellen Stark. Omar Saleh Tamimi, Amjad Abed Alkhafeez Tamimi and International Solidarity Movement co-founder Huwaida Arraf were arrested as they asked Israeli military personnel to stop firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at Stark as she was helped to safety.

Israeli forces then entered the center of the village where they continued firing tear gas, sound grenades, and rubber bullets for several hours. Over twenty five were injured, including an 84-year old woman who suffered from tear gas inhalation after tear gas canisters were fired into her house, and three others who were shot with rubber bullets, including an Israeli activist; four remain hospitalized.

Later in the demonstration, soldiers began shooting rubber bullets through the windows of residents’ houses, shops, and cars, shattering their homes and livelihoods, as they used collective punishment to attempt to suppress these weekly demonstrations.

These incidents comes as the Israeli government intensifies repression of the unarmed, popular resistance to the occupation of the West Bank, illegal land confiscation by settlements such as Halamish, and construction of the illegal apartheid wall. Two weeks ago in An Nabi Saleh, 14-year-old Ehab Fadel Beir Ghouthi’s skull was fractured as a rubber bullet shot by the Israeli military, leaving him in a coma for several days. He remains in a hospital in Ramallah where he is recovering; his condition is stable and improving.

Today and every Friday since January, around 100 un-armed demonstrators leave the village center in an attempt to reach a spring which boarders land confiscated by Jewish settlers. The District Coordination Office has confirmed the spring is on Palestinian land but nearly a kilometer before reaching the spring, the demonstration is routinely met with dozens of soldiers armed with M16 assault rifles, tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

The Halamish Settlement has confiscated nearly half of An Nabi Saleh’s orchard and farmland since it was founded in 1977. According to village residents the settlement confiscates more land each year without consent or compensation of the landowners.

Bi’ilin – Israel Shoots More Peaceful Demonstrators

What if Bil'in held a demo and the army didn't show up?

By Emily Schaeffer

Some of us have become so used to West Bank demonstrations meaning major Israeli army presence, and, typically, the use of weapons, that we have forgotten what demonstrations in a democracy look like. We've forgotten that a protest against oppressive working conditions in downtown New York City, or against oppressive abortion policies in Fredericton, Canada, or against wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in cities including London, Sydney, Paris, San Francisco and Toronto - means police presence only when the protests become so large that they overcrowd public spaces and need direction, when they damage city property, or (get this) when the protesters themselves might be at risk from onlookers with opposing views.

And so we attend demonstration after demonstration - from Bil'in to Al-Ma'asara to Hebron to Nabi Salah, and more — and we are enraged time and time again by the unjustified, disproportionate, immoral response of the army and border police.

But we hardly ever ask ourselves: why are they even here?

What would happen if the army didn't show up one Friday in Bil'in, for instance? If the army hadn't shown up on Friday, April 23, at the 5th Annual Conference Demonstration, then Eymad Rezqa (also spelled Imad Rizka, dedicated Palestinian-Israeli activist) would not have been shot in the head with a tear gas canister and rushed to surgery; 2 Italian demonstrators, one Israeli activist, 2 Bil'in residents, a Palestinian woman from Bethlehem and a Palestinian journalist would not have been lightly injured by direct shots or shrapnel of tear gas and shock grenade canisters, and as it is rumored from a new type of weapon; 3 Israelis, one Mexican citizen, and one Palestinian would not have been arrested and detained for nearly 12 hours, released on the condition that they post bail and stay out of Bil'in and Ni'lin for 15 days; hundreds would not have suffered from the horrible feeling of tear gas inhalation (which studies show may damage reproductive organs, among other risks); and several pre-teens and teens might not have risked being caught by army cameras today only to be arrested out of their beds tomorrow and called in for interrogation for stone-throwing, likely to be given months of jail time for an offense that in most countries would bring a fine or perhaps a few weeks' community service.

The army has repeatedly claimed that their use of dispersal tactics (that have proven lethal) against the demonstrators is based on 3 main factors:

1) the demonstrations in and of themselves are illegal, as according to Israeli military orders a gathering of more than 10 people with a political or ideological purpose is an illegal assembly (and as of the latest military order it is illegal for Israelis to be within 200 meters of the wall);

2) they are responding to the dangerous stone-throwing by demonstrators, and in fact several soldiers and border police have been injured by these stones; and,

3) they are protecting the wall.

So technically when 10 Palestinians sit in a courtyard and discuss over tea the fact that they couldn't access their fields yesterday they are committing an illegal act and should be tear gassed and/or arrested. Why does this sound logical to any thinking person? But let's bring it to the more common example — the demonstration. Popular protest exists all over the world. Occupation is a scenario that logically leads to protest, and in fact under international law it is fully justified. Now Israel can compare itself to plenty of brutal occupations and dictatorships and perhaps still come out on top; but that's not what Israel proclaims itself to be. Rather, Israel claims to be a democracy with the most moral army and occupation in the world. Under that paradigm, how can we reconcile the suppression of popular protest? Moreover, how can we justify it for 43 years and counting?

As for stone-throwing, we can all have mixed feelings about it, and for some it is the one contradiction to our repeated claims of a nonviolent movement. Still, if the army weren't there, what reason would there be to throw stones? And if stones were thrown — because sometimes kids, everywhere in the world, pick up stones and throw them — who would they harm?

Now we come to the wall. Protecting state property — or military property. The army claims to the New York Times that if it didn't show up, the fence/wall would be destroyed.

Rioters hurl rocks, Molotov cocktails and burning tires at defense forces and the security fence,' the military said in a statement when asked why it had taken to arresting village leaders in the middle of the night. 'Since the beginning of 2008, about 170 members of the defense forces have been injured in these villages,' it added, including three soldiers who were so badly hurt they could no longer serve in the army. It also said that at Bilin itself, some $60,000 worth of damage had been done to the barrier in the past year and a half.”

Let's put aside the fact that in Bil'in this wall is not only illegal under international law (because it illegally annexes occupied territory and what is more, for illegal settlements), but it is also illegal according to the High Court's September 2007 ruling. Regardless, what the army is saying is that Palestinian lives (and those of their Israeli and international supporters) are worth risking in order to protect a set of metal objects (illegally placed there).

Now, one can imagine that the police would break up a group of people vandalizing or otherwise damaging a city hall, a museum building, a set of train tracks, or even private property in most democratic nations. But would they fire high velocity tear gas canisters directly at those people? Would they shoot rubber bullets? Live ammunition? Is this a proportionate - and dare I say - moral response?

Abdullah Abu Rahma answered the Israeli Army in that same New York Times article.

They want to destroy our movement because it is nonviolent,” he said. He added that some villagers might have tried, out of frustration, to cut through the fence since the court had ordered it moved and nothing had happened. But that is not the essence of the popular movement that he has helped lead.

'We need our land,' he told his visitors. 'It is how we make our living. Our message to the world is that this wall is destroying our lives, and the occupation wants to kill our struggle.”

And now I will ask a different question. What would the demonstrators do if the army didn't show up? One can imagine that at least the first few times the demonstration would have as much vigor and passion as any other day. Flags would be waved, chants chanted, brilliant and creative references would be made, and the media would capture them. But would demonstrators feel that their audience was missing? Would the media continue to show up week after week for a bloodless story in a culture of media sensationalism? Would the same frustration behind the stone-throwing be channeled somewhere we could support less?

Luma, Abdullah Abu Rahma's daughter, distributes posters in solidarity with father in jail for participation in Bil'in's non-violent movement.

Or would the demonstrations grow in numbers? Would their messages and tactics become more creative and attention-drawing? Would leaders currently jailed for organizing nonviolent resistance be free to start and expand new political and social movements? Would villages no longer terrorized by night arrest raids have the freedom to focus on their daily lives and on resisting the rest of the oppressive occupation policies? Is this perhaps the real reason why the army shows up?

There are those who come to demonstrations once or twice and conclude that both sides need each other in order to feel at the end of the day that power and persistence were demonstrated. But I dare say that the nonviolent resistance does not need the army; rather, the army needs to violently respond to the nonviolent resistance in order to attempt to contain it, in order to report back home (a few dozen km away) and to the world that Palestinians must be violently reproached, in order to experiment with new weapons for the world's weapons industry, and in order to use enough weapons to maintain the same budget demands from Israel and its foreign aid suppliers year after year.

The good news is that the Palestinian nonviolent resistance apparently cannot be contained, even in the face of such extreme violence. But it is taking its toll. And I only hope that we can all shake out of what has become a normal scenario for us, and re-sensitize ourselves to this completely abnormal, illogical and unjustified military response to popular protest, in order to bring this reality to Israelis and to the world.

Two Palestinians and an International activist shot with live ammunition at a non-violent demonstration against the Buffer Zone in Gaza.

El Maghazi, Deir Al Balah, Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territories, 24th April 2010, 12PM -

At a peaceful nonviolent demonstration against the forceful cessation of farming within what Israel defines as a "buffer zone," which was attended by 150 people, two Palestinians demonstrators and one International activist were shot. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the
demonstrators from the border fence. Nidal Al Naji (18) was shot in the right thigh. Hind Al Akra (22) was shot in the stomach and is undergoing emergency surgery. Bianca Zimmit (28) from Malta was filming the demonstration when she was shot in her left thigh. The wounded are currently being treated in Al Aqsa Hospital.

Shortly after 11 a.m., women and men, including 6 ISM activists, marched from Al Maghazi towards the Israeli fence closing off the Gaza strip. After being met with live ammunition upon cresting a ridge, some demonstrators continued walking forward. This group included six women, two ISM activists and 20 men. The 20 male demonstrators reached the border fence. Zimmit was shot while filming the demonstration between the ridge and the fence, at a
distance of roughly 80-100 meters. Hind Al Akra, also standing between the ridge and the fence, was shot in the stomach, and Niadal al Naji was shot in the leg near the fence. Demonstrators carried the wounded back across rough terrain to taxis for transport to Al-Aqsa Hospital.

*For Further Information, Please Contact in Al Aqsa hospital:
Bianca Zimmit 0597589688
Rada 0597-844-043*
*Adie 0597-717-696*

The demonstrations are held in protest against the arbitrary decision by Israel to instate a 300 metre buffer zone as no-go area for Palestinians where "shoot to kill" policy is implemented. People have been shot regularly as far as 2 kilometres away from the border. Popular Campaign for the Security in the Buffer Zone, an umbrella organization that includes organizations representing farmers and Gaza residents living near the border, and also a number of political parties are present at many of these demonstrations.

Those venturing to the border regions to gather rubble and steel do so as a result of the siege on Gaza which, along with Israel’s 23 day winter war on Gaza, has decimated Gaza’s economy, including 95 percent of Gaza’s factories and businesses, according to the United Nations. Additionally, these recycled construction materials are vital in Gaza where the Israeli-led
siege bans all but under 40 items from entering.

The siege prevents vitally needed construction materials from entering Gaza, where over 6,400 houses were destroyed or severely damaged in the Israeli war on Gaza, and nearly 53,000 sustained lesser damages. Hospitals and medical centres, schools, kindergartens and mosques are among the other buildings destroyed and damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza.

International Solidarity Movement
Ryan - Media Office

Things are really getting out of hand in the occupied territories and our reports may have to become more frequent to keep up with the rapidly evolving situation. We must write to let you know what is going on and ask you to take urgent actions on all fronts (media, politicians, on the ground etc). On the last day of the conference in Bil'in, the Israeli army was particularly violent against the demonstrators injuring Palestinians and Internationals. The most critical injury was to Imad Rizka, a Palestinian from Jaffa inside the Green line (see including picture of Imad).

Video just loaded that covers places I was at in the past couple of days including inspiring acts of popular resistance from Bilin to Beit Jala to Al-Walaja. In Al-Walaja, we took over the mountain and the Shabab blocked the new road that soldiesr had opened to get equipment that uproots the olive trees in the villager's land.
Watch here

And here is the ISM story on what happened in Beit Jala

Bilin-inspired Gaza protests against the "buffer zone" that now eats 20% of Gaza and is a no-man's land according to the Israeli occupation authorities.

Video: Young Palestinian women do investigative journalism. Here they accompany the body of Raed Abu Hamad who was murdered while in Israeli custody

(while there you can explore other documentaries done by these aspiring and great journalists)

Stand-up for human rights:

Protest AIPAC (Apartheid Israel Pirates Against Coexistance) in Portland, Oregon this Sunday

Hard talk: Zionists occupiers. Heed my call!! by Nahida

BNC calls on Trade Unions and others to urgently intervene with their governments to stop Israel from joining the OECD. On May 2010, OECD is going to decide the accession of Israel into the organization. For Israel, membership in the OECD would mean a victory of legitimacy, that the violations of international law are rewarded and all the member countries of OECD will be accomplices of the illegal Israeli occupation, since according to the European law, European countries are forbidden to recognize the Israeli occupation to the Palestinian territories. Yet by granting Israel membership in the OECD, they will be doing exactly that.

Israel has refused to comply with the OECD demand to provide statistical data which applies only to the internationally-recognized parts of Israel , excluding the illegal settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). OECD members will knowingly accept Israel to the organization based on deceptive statistics provided by the latter, statistics which conceal the occupation while simultaneously treating it as a permanent fact. It only takes one OECD country to oppose the integration of Israel into the organization in order to block the process. Please, send a letter of protest to the delegation of OECD of your country, demanding to vote NO to Israel 's inclusion in economic organization. It only takes you a few minutes to act on this. In the links you can find the list of OECD member-states and their email addresses (write to them):

A Duty to Protest

Ha’aretz Editorial, 22 February 2010

Some 1,000 people took part in last Friday's demonstration against the separation fence in the village of Bil'in west of Ramallah, marking the fifth anniversary of weekly protests at the site.

Just as on previous Fridays, the police tried to prevent demonstrators from reaching Bil'in, either by detaining them on their way out of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem - a practice that is nothing less than scandalous - or by following them along the route, and then trying to block them from entering the village.

The conduct of the police has been deplorable, as has the recent spate of arrests by the army in Bil'in, during which many of the leaders of the popular committee behind the protests have been detained. Some of them are still in prison - and they don't belong there.

The protest in Bil'in, and in neighboring Na'alin, is an example of civic, usually nonviolent activity undertaken by Palestinians, Israelis and internationals alike, who are protesting a barrier that has severed villagers from most of their lands. Some of the lands have even been expropriated for the use of a nearby settlement.

Bil'in has become a symbol of a civic struggle devoid of terrorism. Such persistent, ongoing protest action is remarkable. It has even prompted the Supreme Court to rule that the route of the fence should be moved, and that some 170 acres of land be returned to the villagers. Astonishingly, this ruling has yet to be implemented by the state, which is thus displaying brazen contempt of court.

The fact that there are still civilians prepared to invest time and energy in nonviolent protest and popular action carried out by two peoples should be lauded, not suppressed.

Actually, last Friday's rally was relatively peaceful: The presence of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and numerous journalists made the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police behave less violently than usual.

Only when the protesters began causing damage to the barrier itself did the security forces react, but even then they used riot-control measures rather than firearms. This is how it ought to be, every Friday.

The protests in Bil'in are legitimate. They must be allowed. Protesters must be permitted unobstructed access to the site, and so should security forces, as long as they act with restraint. Shooting at demonstrators - as has happened in Bil'in all too often - is an act perpetrated by only the most nefarious regimes.

Protesting in Bil'in is not just a right. It is a duty.

The Lewis Trust Group, its donations to Conservative constituency parties, Think Tanks and Palestinian Media Watch

This is a guest blog by Andrew Causon on the shadowy Lewis Group and its connections with Zionist media groups and the its funding of the Conservatives.

Perhaps it was the fact that the next general election was less than 6 months away, but when he presented the Dispatches documentary, "Inside Britain's Israel Lobby" (broadcast on 16 November 2009 on Channel 4), conservative journalist Peter Oborne did not mention the donations to 10 Conservative Constituency Parties made in 2008, all in key marginal constituencies.

The donations were made in the months after Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC) for those constituencies had returned from a November 2007 trip to Israel organised by the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). The donor was the little-known Lewis Trust Group, a CFI sponsor, and despite the non-mention of these donations on TV, they were mentioned in a pamphlet authored by Oborne & James Jones which accompanied the Dispatches documentary. The pamphlet is entitled "THE PRO-ISRAEL LOBBY IN BRITAIN".

The pamphlet lists the 10 Conservative constituency parties involved, who received a total of £23,500, (another £5,500 was given to Conservative Central Office on 31/03/08). All of these donations were declared, as can be seen by using the drop-down menus at the "Register of donations to political parties" webpage on the Electoral Commission`s website:

Details of the donations from the Lewis Trust Group are listed below:

Lewis Trust Group: Donations to Conservative constituency parties

03.03.08 S Basildon & E Thurrock Stephen Metcalfe £3,500

06.03.08 Brighton Kemptown Simon Kirby £2,000

11.03.08 Hove Mike Weatherley £2,000

27.03.08 Cheltenham Mark Coote £2,000

27.03.08 Stroud Neil Carmichael £2,000

30.03.08 Burton Andrew Griffiths £2,000

05.04.08 West Worcestershire Harriet Baldwin £2,000

09.04.08 Staffordshire Moorlands Karen Bradley £2,000

10.04.08 Burton Andrew Griffiths £2,000

20.04.08 Stourbridge Margot James £2,000

23.09.08 Northampton North Michael Ellis £2,000

Who are the Lewis Trust Group?

The Lewis Trust Group, owned by one of Britain's wealthiest families, is an investment company that operates retail stores, real estate, a wealth management company, and hotels. In the UK the company owns the River Island retail chain of 200+ stores. More details are available here:

The most political member of the family, it seems, is David Lewis (CBE, FCA) who has been on the board of the Jewish National Fund.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (which describes itself as an independent think tank) describes David Lewis as "One of the founders of BIPAC" (British Israel Public Affairs Committee) in their Winter 2000 newsletter
The name invites comparison with AIPAC (before which Barack Obama felt compelled to genuflect), although in contrast, BIPAC went bankrupt in 1999. A brief history of BIPAC is given on this webpage (though there is no reference to David Lewis

Lewis is currently President of UK Board of Governors of The Israel Center for Social & Economic Progress, ICSEP

This organisation describes itself as "an independent pro-market public policy think tank since 1984" and whose slogan is "Where there is no bread, there is no Torah". ICSEP is run by Daniel Doron, who the website spinprofiles.org describes as a "former Israeli intelligence officer and Special Consultant to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv"

ICSEP lists five pages of praise it has received which include these quotes:
"Daniel Doron is helping me fight the historic battle that is now taking place over the future of Israel’s economy." Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Israel
"Daniel [Doron] has always been a staunch advocate of free market reform. In the United States, such advocacy may not seem extraordinary, but in an Israeli society long dominated by socialist economic thinking, decades of unabashed support for free market reform makes Daniel a very rare breed." Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Israel
"Your materials are riveting, to the point, and analyse correctly what has taken place… Indeed, a free economy and true democracy march hand in hand, and they shall also lead to true peace…" Shimon Peres, President, Israel

"The economic growth spurred by open markets is the engine to counter Islamist extremism. ICSEP is the beacon for the free market in the Middle East." Mark Kenny, Rear Admiral, US Navy

Although the donations to Conservative Parliamentary candidates have been made directly from the The Lewis Trust Group, other donations to blatantly political entities like ICSEP and Palestinian Media Watch (see below) have been made in a more tax-efficient way through the Lewis Family Charitable Trust.
The Lewis Trust Group & Donations to The Israel Centre for Social & Economic Progress

The Lewis Family Charitable Trust, which is almost entirely funded from the Lewis Trust Group, donates to the Israel Centre for Social & Economic Progress and thus allows tax-deductible donations from the corporate coffers to end up in a think tank whose policy prescriptions benefit corporations with interests in Israel - like the Lewis Trust Group! Each "Trustees' Report and Financial Statements" has a section entitled "Transactions with trustees and connected persons" but nowhere is the fact that David Lewis is a "connected person" by virtue of being President of UK Board of Governors of ICSEP referred to. The amounts donated are listed below.

£25,552 - Trustees' Report and Financial Statements - Year Ended 31 MAY 2009

£20,017 - Trustees' Report and Financial Statements - Year Ended 31 MAY 2008

£9568 - Trustees' Report and Financial Statements - Year Ended 31 MAY 2007

£9,342 - Trustees' Report and Financial Statements - Year Ended 30 APRIL 2005

£14,276 - Trustees' Report and Financial Statements - Year Ended 30 APRIL 2004

Another "Think Tank" to receive donations from the Lewis Family Charitable Trust is the Politics and Economics Research Trust, the pseudo-academic arm of the Tory front-group the Taxpayers' Alliance which received £5000 in 2009, and £10000 in 2008. On 29 December last year the Guardian published an article entitled "Taxpayers' Alliance charitable arm under tax

The opening paragraph reads as follows:
"The charitable arm of the Taxpayers' Alliance is being investigated by regulators after the Guardian revealed the Torylinked campaign group may have used the charity to gain tax relief, normally reserved for good causes, on donations for political research."
The Taxpayers' Alliance has collaborated with Palestinian Media Watch, for more on this, see below.

The Lewis Trust Group & Donations to Palestinian Media Watch

To date two donations of £15,000 have been made in recent years to Palestinian Media Watch (see also which contains archived material. The most recent was mentioned in the Trustees' Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 May 2008 under the heading "General Charitable Funding".

Lewis Family Charitable Trust - Year Ended 31 MAY 2007 - Trustees' Report and Financial Statements under "Educational Funding" another £15,000 was donated to Palestinian Media Watch.
Palestinian Media Watch

There is invaluable information on Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) on the Neocon Europe website
from which some of the following is taken:

PMW (not to be confused with Palestine Media Watch (PMWATCH)) is an Israeli NGO founded by 'counter terrorism analyst' Itamar Marcus. The organisation's website claims that "Palestinian Media Watch was established in 1996 to gain an understanding of Palestinian society through the monitoring of the Palestinian Arabic language media and schoolbooks. Palestinian Media Watch analyzes Palestinian Authority culture and society from numerous perspectives, including studies on summer camps, poetry, schoolbooks, religious ideology, crossword puzzles, and more."

The banner on PMW's website, 'A Self Portrait of Palestinian Society' [emphasis added], appears to be a misnomer as it belies the organisation's Israeli credentials.

Beyond the moderate rhetoric of its official remit of 'gain[ing] an understanding' and 'analyz[ing]...culture and society from numerous perspectives', PMW's recent extra-curricular activities include alleging that Norwegian aid money is used to fund Palestinian childrens' television programmes, the purpose of which, according to Marcus, 'is to get hold of children while they are young and shape them in the way they [the Palestinian Authority/Fatah] want.' Marcus continues, 'No, it does not seem like Jonas Gahr Støre [Norwegian Foreign Minister] knows what he helps financing' [sic].


While at the helm of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (1998-2000), Marcus was criticised by Ha'aretz journalist, Akiva Eldar, ('What Did You Study In School Today, Palestinian Child?', Ha'aretz, 2 January, 2001 (This excellent article is a must-read).

who reported that: "In recent years Marcus has been making a living translating and disseminating defamatory communications against Israel, extracted by his staff from Palestinian publications. Marcus, a settler, used to work for David Bar Illan, Benjamin Netanyahu's PR chief, and served on the Joint Israeli Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee. Marcus's center routinely feeds the media with excerpts from "Palestinian" textbooks that call for Israel's annihilation.' He doesn't bother to point out that the texts quoted in fact come from Egypt and Jordan.

Users of PMW materials UK

As mentioned previously, the right-wing Tory front-group the Taxpayers’ Alliance has helped to publicise the work of PMW (thanks to Viva Palestina co-ordinator Kieran Turner for putting me on to this). The text below (in italics) is taken from a PMW web page, boasting about its achievements in the UK:

Making a Difference
Media uproar in Britain over funding of PA hate education Jan. 31, 2008

In January 2008, PMW was instrumental in bringing about a media uproar in Britain. At PMW’s initiation, and with PMW supplying the documentation and participating in the writing, the British Taxpayers’ Alliance presented a report to the British Parliament showing how British aid to the Palestinian Authority had been spent to help fund Palestinian hate education against Jews and the West, including incitement to kill Jews and British troops.

The following are all headlines from British press articles responding to the report:

Daily Express main front page headline: “Our taxes pay for lessons in terror: Britain gives £47M to finance classes on suicide bombing.”

News of the World: “You pay £47M to fund terror. Aid used to promote murder of British troops.”

The Daily Telegraph: “Aid to Palestine ‘funds extremism’”

Daily Mail: “Taxpayers ’fund hate textbooks’”

The Press Association: “UK funds 'used for indoctrination'”

Daily Express: “Stop terror cashing in”

The Jewish Chronicle: “Your tax money boosts terror’”

PMW has since continued to supply British MPs with the latest hate education summaries from the PA media. PMW has been in close contact with the parliamentary group Conservative Friends of Israel, and a follow up in parliament is being discussed. Taxpayers’ Alliance strikes out on its own.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance was in Israel earlier this year, presenting reports at the World Jewish Congress, and the Herzliya Conference of the Israeli elite. The headline from their website, dated February 02, 2010 (referring to themselves as an NGO) was: "World Jewish Congress: EU money funds Palestinian incitement against Israel and Jews, NGO says"


Toronto newspaper The Globe & Mail published an article entitled 'See Hamas for What It Is' on 15 February 2006. In response, Samah Sabawi writes that:

"the Globe & Mail's editorial relied on Palestinian Media Watch - a well-known right-wing propaganda site run by Itamar Marcus, an Israeli settler notorious for his jaundiced views of the Palestinians. In fact, much of the wording (the translation) printed in the editorial came directly from the PMW website. Thus, the Globe has relied entirely on a scurrilous anti-Palestinian screed without referencing that source; I believe the correct word for this is plagiarism."
(Editorial Delusions at the Globe and Mail - Hamas and the Missing Video - February 23, 2006

Proof that ONLY Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions are Effective

When the student Senate at Berkeley, California voted for a Boycott of Israeli companies, the Zionist movement in the USA mobilised nationally to overturn it, which they narrowly did. Or rather the President of the Senate vetoed the bill, which was passed by a large majority and in the event, the Senate failed by a whisker to overturn that veto, even though a healthy majority still supported it.

As Omar Barghouti, a founder member of PACBI Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and an Israeli Palestinian activist, says the one thing above all that frightens the Zionist movement is BDS. It is the 'deligitimisation' they fear. It says one anyone with a couple of brain cells knows. Israel is not a normal state, because it is not a state of its own citizens but only the Jewish section thereof. It is part and parcel of the whole 'right to exist' argument that Israeli leaders use. We demand, they say of Palestinian, that you recognise our 'right to exist'.

Of course this right in fact applies not to the Zionists but the Palestinians. It is their right to exist that is continually threatened, not that of the oppressor. But that is not unusual. This is the normal argument of the powerful. Not only should we be able to kick you in the groin and hit you in the face, but we demand that you recognise our right to do so! And if you fail to recognise our 'right' to be violent to you then you are nothing but an anti-Semite!

After all what normal state demands a 'right to exist'? Does Britain or the USA demand that Afghanis recognise such a right? Did the British in Northern Ireland, also a settler colonial situation, recognise such a right?

That is why those who talk about talk about peace, who believe in multi-cultural interchanges, changing people's minds and all the rest of the liberal hogwash, miss one vital point. Israel isn't like it is because it has a particularly nasty set of people in its leadership or living there. On the contrary, the Jewish settlers are generally nasty and racist because they are living in a state that accords them and their families privileges over and above Arabs - both within and without.

The one and ONLY thing that they fear is that one day people may not recognise their right to kill and steal from Palestinians. That shouting 'anti-Semitism' and 'Jewish state' may not be enough. That is why BDS is so important and why in Europe and now even in America the public toleration of Israel's behaviour has crossed the border of decency.

Those who oppose Boycott support the repression of Zionism. That is the reality, even though subjectively the same people may protest their innocence. Because they put their own tender consciences before that of the murdered children and civilians of the West Bank, Gaza and even Israel

Tony Greenstein

Forward: How Israel and AIPAC mobilized to defeat the Berkeley divestment vote

I apologize if you've seen this before. In case you haven't, this article (below) must be one of the most definitive pieces of evidence to date of the effectiveness and potential of divestment campaigns against Israel.

For all those who question BDS on pragmatic grounds, doubting its effectiveness, I highly recommend reading this with an open mind and thinking again. For those who do support BDS out of principle but may not necessarily believe that it can decisively change -- indeed is changing -- "facts on the ground" at the grassroots level, this article will be an eye-opener.

Although this is a rabid ultra-right Zionist publication, the factual information contained in the article on how the lobby and Israeli officials conspired to beat the democratically won vote at Berkeley is quite telling.

The entire Israel lobby machine in the US, with its massive resources, bullying skills and age-honored intimidation tactics, mobilized to stop the few committed and widely supported pro-BDS students at the University of California at Berkeley and their community supporters. THAT in itself attests to the hysteria that is prevailing in Israel and among Israel lobby groups in the West regarding the potential of BDS.

Note that despite all this frontal attack by the lobby, the divestment supporters, who are struggling to override the undemocratic veto cast by the student senate president, won almost TWICE as many votes as those against it the second time around and 80% of the votes the first time. Says something about a no-longer-silent majority that is emerging in the US, fed up with Israel's impunity and its lobby's intellectual terror. Regardless who wins the re-vote tomorrow to overturn the veto, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Berkeley and all their supporters have already won, big time!

The fact that Berkeley has animated the debate about BDS in the US and re-focused attention on the complicity and social/ethical responsibility of corporations profiting from Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian rights is in and of itself a concrete success!

SJP has received spectacular support for its divestment campaign from Nobel Peace Laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, from Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and Judith Buttler (among several other prominent academics and intellectuals), from Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, from several Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith groups, not to mention tens of other student organizations across the US who are in various stages of implementing their own divestment drives. This massive endorsement for divestment reflects what some perceive as an emerging majority in the US that is fed up with business as usual with Israel, with its war crimes and human rights violations. It is indicates that BDS is crossing a threshold in the US, particularly among the crucial sector of students, many of whom re involved in campaigns advocating accountability and social responsibility at a time when this entire generation was written off as "self-consumed" and obsessed only with self advancement and careerism at the expense of social activism, the environment and human rights. Berkeley proves those voices of neocons and their supporters wrong.

Plus, and this is not minor, Berkeley has given the Palestinians reason for hope when their daily experiences under Israel's brutal occupation and apartheid can easily suck any hope out of their lives. Solidarity with the oppressed is not just about winning immediate victories against the oppressor -- that will come sooner or later, given the willpower and sharp organizational skills involved; it is also about standing with the oppressed to assure them they are not alone, to confirm to them that humanity is alive and well, and that people of conscience are working hard to help end their oppression, as they had always done, against South Africa's apartheid, Latin American juntas, US wars across the globe, etc. Raising the morale of Palestinian civil society that is leading this non-violent struggle for freedom, justice, equality and self determination is another contribution that Berkeley students and community activists should be proud of. They've spoken truth to repressive and ugly power; they've persevered with their campaigns against all odds and against a vicious, well-oiled lobby that is never hampered by any moral considerations in its bullying against Palestine solidarity activists and groups.

At a personal level, as a Palestinian activist, I am deeply inspired by and proud of SJP and its partners; their efforts will most certainly not end with the last vote tomorrow, no matter where it goes. They've planted healthy seeds in an increasingly fertile ground; we shall all harvest its fruits sooner rather than later.

Omar Barghouti

The Forward
Published April 21, 2010, issue of April 30, 2010.

How To Beat Back Israel Divestment Bill: Get Organized

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

When a bill calling for divestment from some companies doing business with Israel surfaced at a mid-March student government committee hearing at the University of California, Berkeley, local Jewish communal watchdogs were taken by surprise. When the divestment measure was overwhelmingly approved at a student senate debate days later, some students affiliated with Hillel left the meeting in tears.

Even when the student senate president vetoed the measure, those against divestment hardly saw it as a victory; they knew that the veto could be easily undone, since the bill was passed with more votes than would be needed to overturn the veto.

And so a campaign was launched. The debate on the veto was scheduled for the night of April 14. In the two weeks prior, Berkeley Hillel coordinated a comprehensive national lobbying campaign consisting of a teach-in, face-to-face meetings with student senators and an intervention by a Nobel laureate, all aimed at robbing the divestment supporters of three senate votes.

Adam Naftalin-Kelman, the Hillel’s newly installed executive director, said that the strategy for countering divestment efforts was devised at a roundtable meeting convened by Hillel and attended by representatives of local branches of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Jewish Community Relations Council, J Street, Israel’s consul general in San Francisco and local rabbis.

Outmaneuvering the pro-divestment supporters, this organizing coup appears to have worked: After a marathon debate that lasted well into the next morning, two senators changed their minds and one abstained, and the veto was upheld.

“Three votes changed,” Akiva Tor, the consul general, told the Forward. “So something happened.”

The controversial resolution called on the university to divest from General Electric Co. and United Technologies “because of their military support of the occupation of the Palestinian territories.” It also created a committee to suggest additional companies for future divestment.

The Hillel-organized teach-in, open exclusively to members of the student senate, featured talks by the consul general, an Israeli visiting professor, a professor of international law and others. Seven senators attended. One, a co-sponsor of the bill who did not change her vote, said that the presenters were respectful but she felt uncomfortable.

“There were undertones of intimidation to me,” Emily Carlton said. “For one thing, they were all a lot older, they were all a lot more distinguished.”

One anti-divestment student group handed out suggested talking points for those speaking against the bill at the student government meeting. The existence of the talking points, which were posted on the blog Mondoweiss, was confirmed by Naftalin-Kelman, who said that they were not distributed by the Hillel.

“DON’T try to deconstruct the bill,” the talking points read. “Instead, focus on how it is an attack on the Jewish community.”

In addition, the Jewish groups solicited open letters to the student senators. Letters were sent by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, J Street, and Amos Oz, among others.

Supporters of the divestment bill also lobbied key senators, but their effort was less directed than that of the pro-Israel groups, according to one of the bill’s drafters, Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, who is not a member of the student senate.

“It was pretty ad hoc,” he said of efforts to wrangle enough votes to overturn the presidential veto. “I suggested to the some senators people I knew that knew a lot about the topic…. They chose if they wanted to meet with them or not.”

Still, supporters of the bill were able to muster a Nobel laureate of their own. Emily Carlton said divestment proponents solicited a letter in support of their position from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was awarded a Nobel peace prize for his work in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. Carlton also said that a letter sent in support of the pro-divestment position by left-wing journalist Naomi Klein surprised her and others.

A group of prominent Jewish members of the U.C. Berkeley community, including professors Daniel Boyarin and Judith Butler, took out a two-page advertisement in The Daily Californian, a student-run newspaper, in support of the bill. Boyarin said that the advertisement was organized through an e-mail listserv that had been convened for an earlier campaign, and that it was not coordinated by the student groups promoting the bill.

According to Carlton, tremendous pressure was brought to bear on Minji Kim, the senator seen as the key swing vote.

“Both sides had people talk to her before,” Carlton said. “Both sides campaigned very hard, and she was under an incredible amount of pressure.”

Kim could not be reached for comment. NhuNhu Nguyen, a senator who switched to opposing the divestment proposal from supporting it, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Naftalin-Kelman, Tor and Butler were among the hundreds to attend the marathon debate that ran through the night April 14. The venue was changed multiple times to accommodate overflow crowds.

Finally, at 5:30 a.m. on April 15, 12 senators voted to overturn the veto, seven voted to let it stand and one senator abstained. One of the senators who voted to let the veto stand was actually a supporter of the bill, and after the vote, she made a motion to reopen discussion. Debate continued until 7:30 a.m., when the measure was tabled.

A student senator said that the measure may be taken up again before the end of the semester, but if so it would probably happen in a closed session.

Whether or not the resolution eventually passes, the intense lobbying campaign may have already had a lasting effect on the Berkeley student government.

In the weeks between the first vote and the attempt to overturn the veto, discussions about how to challenge Berkeley student senate support for the bill were held as faraway as Washington, D.C. At an AIPAC conference in Washington in late March, AIPAC leadership development director Jonathan Kessler said that his organization would “make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote,” as recorded in a video taken at the conference by the JTA. “This is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s Capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses,” he said.

In Berkeley student government election results announced April 13, one of the senators who had vocally opposed the divestment resolution was elected president of the student government. His party, considered the more moderate of the two Berkeley student parties, won a majority in the senate.

Naftalin-Kelman said that the divestment vote might have played a role in the results but if so, it was one of many factors. “I think it did pull out more Jewish votes than in the past,” he said. “There’s other things on campus, as well…I think it may have had a contributing factor. I don’t think it was as big as some people think.”

In response to an inquiry from the Forward, an AIPAC spokesman wrote in an e-mail: “We took no position on the Berkeley student election, since like in any other election, we don’t rate or endorse candidates. Of course we would always, publicly and consistently, encourage pro-Israel students to be active in civic and political life.” The spokesman declined to make Kessler available for an interview.

24 April 2010

Luciana Berger - A Symbol of all That is Politically Corrupt in New Labour

A Vote Against this former Director of Labour Friends of Israel is a vote for the Left

If there is one person who symbolises the rotten and corrupt state of New Labour in Britain today then step forward Luciana Berger, former Director of Labour Friends of Israel. She was parachuted in the previously rock solid Labour seat of Wavertree by Jane Kennedy, the former Labour MP and another LFI supporter.

This was done via the imposition of an all-woman shortlist. Interesting how feminism today is used to bolster the Right, just as anti-racism of the ‘anti-Semitism’ variety is used to support racism!

Berger has no connections with Liverpool. She couldn’t even name the legendary manager of Liverpool Bill Shankly or tell us who wrote ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’. One can only hope she knows the names of the Fab Four!

Berger is a friend of the Blairs and his son Euan, although the latter has denied that the reptile is/was his girlfriend. She was the ex of Sian Simon, another New Labour rat. She is a good example of New Labour today. No roots in the working class, no experience of any struggle, hostile to third world peoples, racist to the core and committed to the free market.

Those on the Left who think there's anything progressive about creatures like Berger need their heads examining.

Wavertree has a chequered history. It used to be a Conservative seat when I lived in Childwall 30+ years ago. It was held by Antony Steen, a pompous and retiring Conservative MP, long ago.

Then it was captured in the 1980’s by Terry Field, who was in Militant Tendency. Terry, a member of the Fire Brigades Union, captured the seat at a time that the Labour Party was being defeated by Thatcher nationally. Liverpool, whose Council was challenging the Tory Government, though it caved in under Derek Hatton in the end, moved leftwards and the final Tory presence on the Council and in Parliament was eliminated.

But the Left failed to build and Militant retreated into a sectarian corner. The Tories left by the front-door and New Labour entered by the back door. And that was the only change.

Terry Field, loved by the working class in his constituency, represented all that was honest and upright in fighters for the working class. He went to prison rather than pay the poll tax and he was an inspiration to people for his humility, living on a council estate with them. Berger by contrast knows nothing of the working class. Her job as Director of Labour Friends of Israel meant supporting the most racist and right-wing government in the hemisphere and doing one’s best to undermine solidarity.

Terry was expelled by the Labour Party and bequeathed a 20,000 majority to New Labour. Jane Kennedy, the present incumbent right-winger, has reduced this to 5,000 and with boundary changes the seat is now a marginal.

It's no wonder that Labour's minders will not let Berger loose among her constituents for fear that she will open her big mouth and let the cat out of the bag.

The Liberal Democrats are challenging for the seat and although I’ve never voted Lib-Dem before, if I were still in Wavertree constituency, I would have no hesitation in voting for the Lib-Dems.

Voting Liberal Democrat in Wavertree would be a vote for the left.

Ricky Tomlinson to challenge Luciana Berger for key Liverpool seat?
by Natalie Evans.
Published Fri 05 Feb 2010 12:28,
Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson wants to stand for parliament at the General Election. Left-winger Ricky aims to run against Luciana Berger - one of "Brown's Babes" selected from an all-woman shortlist to contest what was regarded as a safe Labour seat.

Actor Ricky needs to overturn the majority of 5,173 in Liverpool Wavertree scored by long-serving MP Jane Kennedy who resigned is stepping-down. Ricky decided to stand because he is incensed that Labour selected Londoner Luciana Berger who was "parachuted" into the seat in controversial circumstances.

Scouser Ricky will seek the backing of the the Socialist Labour Party, of which he is a member, to stand as its official candidate. If selected to run Ricky said his campaign slogan could be "Berger? My arse! " a nod to the catchphrase of his famed TV character Jim Royle.

His move comes as a further blow to 28-year-old Berger, whose selection has been mired in controversy. The Director of "Labour Friends of Israel" beat Liverpool councillors Wendy Simon and Joyce Still by a margin of around 2-1 to win the candidacy on all-women shortlist. However, veteran Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle branded her a "student politician" who lacks the experience to do the job. UNISON has also challenged her appointment with an official complaint to Labour, demanding answers and questioning Miss Berger's relationship with former Wavertree MP Jane Kennedy, at whose home she stayed during the selection process.

Condemning Berger's lack of local knowledge, comedian Ricky said: "This woman that they have parachuted in from London could not even answer some easy questions about Liverpool. "People say if you want you could be letting the Tories in. But there is no difference between the Conservatives and New Labour. "

At one time, Liverpool had a contingent of working class MPs. If I get nominated it would be an awful cut in wages. But I just think the state of British politics is abhorrent."

A firebrand trade unionist who was once jailed for alleged violence on a picket line, Ricky, argues any MP representing a Liverpool seat should understand unemployment.
He said: "I just can't understand why they have picked someone from London. It just does not make sense to me."

Tomlinson was jailed in 1973 for acting as a flying picket during the building strike in which unionists confronted the then Conservative government.
He was sentenced to six years but was released after two following mass protests and has always contested his innocence.

See also Liverpool Echo