Monday, 25 April 2016

A Wasted Opportunity - PSC's Guardian Advert

Why Israel is an Apartheid State -           the Arguments That Weren't Made

This Saturday April 23, Palestine Solidarity Campaign placed an advert in the Guardian.  It must have cost about £10,000.

At a time when there is an unprecedented attack on Palestine solidarity work in this country, this statement was a wasted opportunity.  The main theme, Palestine is being built out of existence, was that it a Palestinian state is becoming more difficult to achieve.  Anyone with eyes and ears should recognise that the 2 state solution is no longer achievable, assuming it ever was.  Zionism recorgnises the sovereignty of only one group of people, Jewish settlers.
What the statement should have said and led on was a firm rebuttal of the media frenzy in the past few months.  A clear and firm statement such as Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism’Supporting Palestinian rights is not anti-Semitic’.

Possibly a reference could have been made to the fact that the most racist and indeed anti-Semitic elements internationally, from the BNP to Marine Le Pen to Gert Wilders etc. etc. are the strongest supporters of Zionism.
Brighton & Hove PSC leaflet
Instead of reproducing 3 statements from Israeli ministers affirming their refusal to allow a Palestinian state, PSC could have done worse than take a leaf out of the leaflet from Brighton & Hove PSC ‘meet the Israeli Government’ which reproduced statements from various Israeli Government Ministers such as the Deputy Defence Minister, Eli Dahan, who compared higher Jewish souls, including those of homosexuals, to those of non-Jews.

It could have made the obvious point that since Israel refuses a separate Palestinian state then the refusal to grant Palestinians in the Occupied Territories the most basic of civil or political rights means Israel is an apartheid society.

It could have referred to Israeli racism in terms of ‘death to the Arabs’ marches, the banning of the Northern Islamic Movement even whilst the fascist Lehava group, whose leader Benzi Gopstein justifies the burning down of mosques and churches remains illegal.

The advert could have made some more sophisticated arguments such as calling anti-Zionism anti-Semitism is in itself anti-Semitic as it assumes all Jews are Zionists.  It could even have pointed to the fact that it was Jews who were historically the first opponents of Zionism.  They could even have quoted someone like Theodor Herzl on how the anti-Semitic countries would be the Zionists’ best allies and friends.

It could have pointed to the hypocrisy of people like Eric Pickles, Chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel, who defend the Conservatives’ good friend Michal Kaminski and an inveterate anti-Semite in the European Conservative and Reform group. 

Instead the statement was bland an innocuous.  So bland that, I am told, even Jews for Justice for Palestinians refused to sign it.

Tony Greenstein

April 22, 2016
This Saturday an advert will appear in the Guardian reaffirming our right – indeed our duty – to boycott Israel. The advert is based on the below statement:

Israel, judged by its actions, isn’t interested in peace. By erecting more and more settlements on Palestinian land, it is in the process of building Palestine out of existence.

It is not only our right to boycott those who aid and abet this occupation and, now, colonisation of Palestine – it is our duty.

Next year it will be 50 years since the occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. 10 years since the siege of Gaza began, with 75,000 still displaced from their homes since the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014.

This year, to 18th April, 63 people have been killed, 59 of these people are Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Over 1,600 Palestinians have been injured[i].

The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights make it the duty of states to uphold human rights. The British Government says principles of human rights should apply the world over and calls on businesses, trade unions and civil society to help them. Yet, they have continually failed to act over Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.

Instead, in recent months the British Government and its Ministers have unleashed a series of attacks on supporters of Palestine who advocate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israeli institutions and companies complicit with breaches of Palestinian human rights. These attacks have been accompanied by systematic efforts to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel by branding it extremist, divisive, and antisemitic.

Human rights are indivisible and global. It is not racist to criticise a state because of its laws and actions, it is not racist to campaign for those laws and actions to be changed.

It is antisemitic to promote hatred or discrimination of Jewish people because of their religion or ethnicity. As an anti-racist organisation, we abhor racism directed at any group – we challenge it wherever it is found.

The government’s attempt to promote fear and intimidation of legitimate protest and to smear human rights defenders will only assist the real racists.

We support the Palestinian-led call for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign which uses effective-yet-peaceful means to pressure Israel to end the occupation and ensure Palestinians have the rights we take for granted. It is civil society holding countries and companies accountable for their actions.

Boycott is the tool human rights defenders have used throughout history. It is a non-violent, global and traditional form of protest used to oppose oppression. It is not racist to refuse to buy, decline to invest in or stop supplying goods, arms or services to companies and institutions that are knowingly supporting breaches of human rights and international law.

Rather than attack those defending human rights, the British Government should be challenging Israel for its actions that breach international law.

Trying to suppress the right to protest will not undermine the campaign for Palestinian human rights – it will strengthen it.

We proudly continue in the tradition of civil and human rights activists before us. If it was good enough for Gandhi, Luther King Jr, and Mandela; boycott is good enough for us.

PSC is part of a growing global movement in support of Palestine, proudly refusing to do business with Israel’s occupation, colonisation, and discrimination.

Whoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu[ii]
“We are all against a Palestinian state; there is no question about it”
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Silvan Shalom [iii]
“I will do everything in my power to make sure they [Palestinians] never get a state”
Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett[iv]

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