Israel’s foreign ministry is preparing to hold the fourth international conference of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, a gathering that has served as an important focus for efforts to fight Palestine solidarity activism and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns.
Meeting in Jerusalem between 28 and 30 May, the conference is officially hosted by Zeev Elkin, the deputy foreign minister who is currently standing in for Avigdor Lieberman, while the latter’s trial for fraud continues. The Global Forum was established in 2000, with international conferences in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Those coming from around the world to participate in this month’s conference will be attending an “anti-racist” meeting being run by a government guilty of institutional discrimination and apartheid. In fact, Elkin is himself a settler, opposed to a Palestinian state and a supporter of anti-boycott legislation.
It is evident from the conference’s official agenda and “working group mission statements” that this year, as on previous occasions, delegates will have Palestine solidarity activists in their sights.
The 2007 conference ran working groups on “academic and economic boycotts: pre-emptive strategies” as well as “means of response to hostile faculty and student bodies.” In 2009, the conference ran a working group intended to “come up with imaginative, effective and successful solutions to counter this evil [of BDS],” withparticipants coming from a variety of Jewish communal organizations and hasbaragroups. (Hasbara is the Hebrew term for “explaining” but has become synonymous with Israeli propaganda.) Topics discussed included a “five-year plan” involving the implementation of “legislative prohibitions vs. BDS,” taking into account “different legal traditions.”
This year’s gathering is no different, with three working groups of particular interest for anti-apartheid campaigners. The first is “the working group on the guise of delegitimization and anti-Zionism,” whose goal is “to identify… new legal, political, economic and other strategies [that] can be employed to pre-empt and defeat these campaigns” such as “changing the law to sentence boycott activists.”
Aside from a commitment to further “lawfare” strategies — challenging Palestine solidarity campaigns in court — this group also aims to “improve communication and intelligence about the delegitimizers” and “identify offensive steps that can be taken … to help create a more positive image of Israel.”
Another task force of interest is the “working group on law, legislation and enforcement in combating anti-Semitism,” which notes the role of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in the US context, and that “anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses … have not been banned and create a hostile atmosphere for Jewish students.”
A goal for the group is to discuss “the feasibility of implementing the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ working definition of anti-Semitism in university campuses,” and “recommend [its] adoption … within university campuses and law enforcement agencies.” (The EU “definition” — never formally endorsed by the Union — was drawn up by pro-Israel lobbyists and deliberately conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.)
Finally, a third working group is dedicated to “anti-Semitism on campus and education for tolerance and mutual respect.” The preamble talks about college campuses having become “increasingly hostile to Jewish students and scholars,” when in fact, what they are referring to is “Israel [being] increasingly delegitimized and demonized on campus.”
The explanation for this state of affairs includes “the impact of funding, and potential funding, from Gulf states to academic institutions in the West” and, in the case of France and Belgium, “a convergence between brown, green and red ideologies.”
“Prosecutor not victims”
The group explains that hasbara efforts by “most pro-Israel organizations, including diplomatic representatives” have been focused on countering “the negative campaign against Israel with a strategy of positive messaging about Israel, unrelated to the conflict.” This is a reference to the “Brand Israel” project, which aims to distract from Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by depicting Israel as liberal and sophisticated.
But “Brand Israel” is deemed to be insufficient. There is a need for “a new effective strategy to confront the demonization of Israel” that “put[s] the focus on Israel’s detractors, rather than on Israel itself,” according to a preparatory document. The group proposes using “the language of human rights” as “prosecutors not as victims.”
Other suggestions include “research … to discern the group or groups that may be funding, directing, influencing and/or manipulating anti-Israel agitation,” and “critical studies of Palestinian society, and other Middle Eastern societies, its politics and culture for developing a new symbolical weapon in this struggle.”
Overall, the tone of these working groups suggests that years of successes for BDS campaigns have increased the desperation of the Israel lobby, boosting support for “offensive” lawfare-based tactics, alongside “positive” hasbara. Ironically, given that the conference is hosted by a settler, delegates forget that colonialism and state-sanctioned racism are what continue to “delegitimize” Israel.
Source: Electronic Intifada
A group of settlers accompanied by Israeli forces entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday for the second consecutive day, with Muslim worshipers prevented from praying at the holy site, locals said.
Israeli police officers erected several checkpoints at entrances to the Al-Aqsa compound and prevented all Palestinian women, and men under 50, from entering, witnesses said.
Elderly men were only allowed in after they had given their identity cards to Israeli officers.
Israeli forces evacuated all young worshipers who managed to enter the mosque for dawn prayers, allowing only employees of the endowment ministry, who work at the mosque, to remain.
Over 100 settlers then entered the Al-Aqsa compound at 7 a.m., entering through the Moroccan gate accompanied by Israeli forces.
A day earlier, a group of around 40 settlers toured the compound escorted by police officers to commemorate the eve of Jerusalem Day, a controversial national holiday in Israel celebrating the “unification” of the city, or occupation of East Jerusalem.
Israeli politicians, such as Likud’s Moshe Feiglin, have in the past called for Jewish prayers at the compound, and control and access to the holy site is a particularly sensitive religious and political issue.
Earlier this year, PLO official Saeb Erekat slammed an attempt by Feiglin to enter the compound, calling it a “violation of the sanctity of the place as well as a direct provocation against Palestine, the Arab- and Muslim world.”
The Al-Aqsa compound, containing the mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the third holiest site in Islam and abuts the site where Jews believe the ancient Second Temple stood.
Source: Ma’an News
WORLD renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has faced a barrage of vile abuse today from people furious over his boycott of Israel.
The tirade of criticism came after the highly-respected Cambridge professor joined an academic embargo by refusing to attend a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres.
Professor Hawking was to take part in the Facing Tomorrow annual conference planned to be held in June but pulled out in protest at the treatment of Palestinians.
“Hawking has made an independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there,” the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine said.
Reacting angrily to the Professor’s decision to join the academic boycott, pro-Israeli users voiced their outrage on social media sites.
“The anti-Semite Stephen Hawking can’t even wipe his own a**,” one sick user posted.
“He should die already!,” another said, while one user said Professor Hawking – widely considered one of the most intelligent men in the world today – is “also crippled in the head.”
“Someone should release the hand brake when he’s on a hill,” another vile post read.
Disgusted users condemned the revolting abuse, describing it as a “festival of hate.”
Professor Hawking’s move follows a boycott of Israel by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland and by the American members of the Association for Asian American Studies.
In 2009, Professor Hawking had also condemned the three-week onslaught on Gaza, saying the response to firing of rockets from the coastal strip was “plain out of proportion … The situation is like that of [Apartheid] South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue”.
The Israeli Ambassador to London, Daniel Taub, said: “The price that democratic societies all pay is freedom of speech, even for outrageous and objectionable opinions.
“This is why it is so important to encourage intelligent debate and discussion – and why it is such a shame that Professor Hawking will not be able to joining in such open dialogue at the President’s Conference.”
On March 22 the UN Human Rights Council concluded its 22nd session and adopted the following recommendations:
In a resolution regarding Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan, the Council expresses its grave concern at the continuing Israeli settlement and related activities; the increasing number of newly built structures, including a large number of permanent buildings and structures; the expansion of Israeli settlements and the construction of new ones; and the Israeli operating of a tramway between West Jerusalem and the settlement of Pisgat Zeec. The Council calls upon Israel to take and implement serious measures, including the confiscation of arms and enforcement of criminal sanctions, with the aim of preventing acts of violence by Israeli settlers.
In a resolution regarding the right of Palestinian people to self-determination, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The Council stresses the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, continuity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and urges all Member States and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.
In a resolution regarding the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem, the Council demands that Israel cease all practices and actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people; comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention; cease all of its settlement activities. The resolution calls upon Israel to cease its imposition of prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions; and requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Council at its September session of 2013.
In a resolution regarding the follow-up to the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the Council requests the Working Group on transnational corporations to take the necessary measures and actions relating to business activities connected to the illegal Israeli settlements and to report to the Council at its twenty-sixth session.
These resolutions were filed under Agenda Item 7, which mandates that the council debate Israeli actions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The United States opposed Agenda Item 7 and voted against all the resolutions.
Here you can download the International Fact-Finding Mission report on Israeli settlements
Attorney Bülent Yıldırım, president of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and organizer for the Gaza Freedom Flotila that included the Mavi Marmara vessel, commented, at a press conference he called at the foundation’s headquarters, on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologizing for the flotilla attack over the phone with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Yıldırım described the decision to apologize as a political and diplomatic achievement but stressed the necessity of lifting the blockade.
Calling Israel’s apology as a first, he said: “We are satisfied about it. We thank everyone who made all this possible. Whether Israel will lift the embargo following the apology and compensation is the real issue. Because the embargo had already ended in reality.”
Apology a political and diplomatic achievement
“May our martyrs rest in peace,” IHH’s president began his speech and continued:
“Israel deliberately attacked us in the high sea, killed, wounded and tortured us. The entire world rose in protest and people around the globe reacted to the attack. And now Israel has apologized. The embargo had already ended in reality. The Mavi Marmara initiative ended with a great victory. The statement of apology is an important proof of this achievement. The martyrs and the wounded achieved a great victory. We found the families of the martyrs to be sad as we discussed with them the apology. This is caused by the fact that the blockade is still in place. The implementation of the blockade by Israel is unlawful. Allah (God) willing, the blockade will be lifted as well. This statement is a significant milestone in the process. Our struggle will continue unabatedly. Masjid al-Aqsa is still occupied and the Palestinian people are still detained unlawfully. Israel has admitted wrongdoing with this apology. There are significant trials in progress around the world. Surely they cannot be disregarded. Israel murdered, wounded and imprisoned individuals. And now it has admitted to its crime. They admitted to killing our nine brothers. Brother Uğur Süleyman Söylemez, who was wounded in the attack, is still in coma. This is a political and diplomatic achievement. Apology, compensation and the removal of the embargo are important developments. We want the blockade imposed on Gaza to be lifted too. Global efforts will go on until the blockade is lifted.
They finally admitted attacking the Mavi Marmara vessel. We were carrying humanitarian assistance, practicing a natural right enshrined in many international conventions. They committed a crime by attacking us in high sea. We will pursue the consequences of the attack in courts around the world.
We are quite satisfied with what has been accomplished. And we are happy about the honorable stance of Turkey. Some called our claims unjustified but now they have been proved wrong. The apology is a political and diplomatic achievement. Apology, compensation and the removal of the embargo are important developments. We want the blockade imposed on Gaza to be lifted too. Global efforts will go on until the blockade is lifted. There were activists from all over the world in the flotilla. We are all happy about Turkey’s achievement.
We hope that Israel will put more sense into its actions from now on. We all know how brutally it acted during the attack on Gaza. Then the Davos confrontation took place. It proves there is nothing you cannot achieve if you act bravely and decisively. The process has been highly significant in that it showed how law and the right can triumph.”
Mavi Marmara trial and legal action will continue
Regarding the Mavi Marmara trial that began on Nov. 6, 2012 and is in progress at Istanbul 7th Higher Criminal Court, Yıldırım said.
“Since the Mavi Marmara vessel is a Turkish ship and the crimes committed during the attack are “international crimes” that fall within the jurisdiction of international law, the case was brought to Turkish courts and public prosecutors in Turkey filed for a “public prosecution.” In the ongoing trial at the Istanbul 7th Higher Criminal Court, the court is asked to sentence perpetrators of Mavi Marmara trial to thousands of years in prison for willful killing, incitement to willful killing, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, plundering, illegal seizure of railway or air vehicles, incitement to property damage, deprivation of personal freedom and incitement to torture. Additionally, Istanbul Public Prosecutor ordered security forces and intelligence agencies to identify the Israeli soldiers that took part in the attack as well as soldiers and civilian officials who ordered the attack so that new lawsuits could be filed against them.
As per the existing legislation the current lawsuit is a public prosecution and not launched upon individual complaint due to the nature of the crimes committed and therefore the trial procedure will go on. The trial is also not bound by timeout periods because of the nature of the crimes. The case cannot be stopped or dismissed by any political decision. In any case, the complainant-victims in the Mavi Marmara case definitely will not withdraw their complaints regarding the crimes even if they are paid compensation. Therefore, we will carry on with our legal fight on behalf of our clients until perpetrators of each crime committed in the attack are brought to justice before national and international courts and are punished.”