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Archives: May 2005

Tue May 31, 2005

US to Indict Two Senior AIPAC Officials Under Espionage Act

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Justice Department is expected to file indictments against two former senior staffers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman and, according to sources familiar with the affair, the charges will be subsumed under the Espionage Act.


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Posted by: LDavidson on May 31, 05 | 2:39 am

Thousands Demonstrate in London for a Free Palestine and Boycott of Apartheid Israel

On Saturday 21st of May, the annual Nakba Day rally of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign once again drew thousands of supporters into the streets. In pouring rain, protestors marched to Trafalgar Square and denounced Apartheid Israel and its Occupation of Palestine. They demanded an end to international complicity in the Occupation's crimes and called for boycott, divestment and sanctions to be put in place against Apartheid Israel. This call was echoed by the event's many speakers, who gathered from Palestine and from within British civil society. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 31, 05 | 2:21 am

Jew Calls for Sanctions on Israel

An anti-Zionist Jewish activist at a meeting in Malaysia called for UN sanctions against Israel for violating the human rights of Palestinians, a news report has said. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 31, 05 | 2:14 am

Mon May 30, 2005

An Act of Censorship: American Library Association Becomes Another Israeli Occupied Territory

NEW ORLEANS—The embattled Anti-Defamation League's National Director, Abraham Foxman, is "going to war — and he's going to enlist American Jews as his foot soldiers," wrote the No. California Jewish Bulletin's Garth Wolkoff this past May, and he wasn't joking. The first battle took place in this picturesque Gulf Coast port city at the end of June and the ADL and its allies emerged victorious. The occasion was the annual membership meeting of the American Library Association and answering the call to the colors were hundreds of Jewish librarians who descended on New Orleans for a dual purpose: to overturn a resolution criticizing Israeli censorship that had been approved at last year's convention and to demonstrate to their fellow librarians that judging Israel was not only not the business of the ALA, but also was not without career-threatening risks. And they succeeded, overwhelmingly. No, the colors they rallied to weren't visible, but then they didn't have to be.

For a little under a year, 363 days to be exact, the American Library Association had stood alone as the only major American institution that had publicly and unequivocally condemned Israeli human rights violations and specifically, acts of censorship directed against Palestinian journalists, universities, and libraries. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 30, 05 | 4:39 pm

UCC May Follow Presbyterians in Divestment From Israel

(RNS) The United Church of Christ will vote in July on whether to pull church money from U.S. companies involved in constructing Israeli settlements and security measures in Palestinian territories.

If approved, the 1.4 million-member church (with a $3 billion investment portfolio) would become the second U.S. Protestant body to pull investments from Israel in protest of what they call Israel's harsh treatment of the Palestinians. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 30, 05 | 12:53 pm

The boycott should continue: A fight to foster real academic freedom in Israel should unite academics all over the world

Driving towards my birthplace of Nahariya in northern Israel, you pass an impressively designed Holocaust memorial, dedicated to "the fighters of the ghettos". It is difficult not to be touched by its importance and prominence. Three hundred metres further along the same road, lie the forgotten remains of the Arab village, al-Sumuriya, whose people were among the 750,000 Palestinians displaced in 1947-49 war. The contrast illustrates the way in which, in Israel, the Jewish catastrophe monopolises the national collective memory at the expense of the Other.

The decision last week by UK academics to overturn their boycott of two Israeli universities is a missed opportunity to awaken Israelis, and in turn Palestinians, to the urgent need to engage in a debate about all the skeletons in the cupboard, both Zionist and Palestinian. The Association of University Teachers is instead allowing denial and forgetfulness, on both sides, to work themselves out to a further catastrophe and continuing bloodshed. The vicious circle of victimhood, hatred and self-righteousness can never be transcended until each side allows the other to articulate the inner core of its pain and then sets out to address that trauma.
More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 30, 05 | 8:50 am

Seeking alternatives to a third Palestinian intifada

Last week, two important developments took place that captured the dilemma facing the Palestinian people. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas went to Washington to meet with American leaders and make his case for firmer American involvement in the dormant Palestinian-Israeli peace-making process; and the South African Council of Churches endorsed the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

These two approaches - political engagement via the U.S. and civil, nonviolent resistance and confrontation - represent two of the three principal strategies considered by most Palestinians.

The third approach, military resistance and terror attacks against Israeli troops and civilians, initiated a decade ago by Hamas, is now momentarily suspended. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 30, 05 | 8:42 am

Film Review: Rachel Corrie-An American Conscience

The late Rachel Corrie (1979 – 2003) was articulate, straightforward and resolute. Her castigation of Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian people and the Israeli Government’s disregard for the safety of Israelis and Palestinians rang with clarity. Through peace activism she ascertained the facts on the ground. She called it as she saw it. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 30, 05 | 3:22 am

Church Urged to Reconsider Investments with Israel

THE Anglican Church is to consider a report calling for it to dispose of its holdings in companies doing business with Israelis who “support the occupation of Palestinian lands”. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 30, 05 | 3:05 am

Sun May 29, 2005

The Reversal of the AUT Boycott: Lessons to be Learnt

I am not in a position to comment upon the details of what took place in England with regards to the outcome of the 26 May special vote within the Association of University Teachers, and its result of rolling back a previous resolution calling for a selective boycott against Bar Ilan and Haifa Universities. Nor do I wish to engage in the propriety of the boycott itself, especially when there have already been sufficient articles written explaining why indeed a boycott against these institutions is necessary ­ the most convincing of which have actually emerged from Israeli academic and activist circles. I do however wish to delve into the question of what the lessons of today's reversal are for the Palestinian national movement and what the salient questions it poses for future activism are. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 29, 05 | 10:53 am

Our Man in the Territories

No one knew until now what veteran television journalist Haim Yavin thought about the news he has been announcing for more than three decades, and he is so nonpartisan that one wondered whether he had an opinion of his own at all. Now, at 72, he is coming out of the closet: "Since 1967 we have been brutal conquerors, occupiers, suppressing another people," he says in "Yoman Masa" ("Diary of a Journey"), which he filmed in the West Bank. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 29, 05 | 12:29 am

Sat May 28, 2005

Israel Blocks Islamic Movement's Participation in London Meeting

Israel has prevented the deputy chairman of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Kamel Khatib, from taking part in a conference on the right of return, which is scheduled to take place in London this weekend. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 28, 05 | 2:17 am

Wider Focus on Boycott Debate

In 1972, before the boycott, I was invited to speak on higher education in South Africa. I went, despite misgivings about going to a country where I could not even sit on a bus with my adopted son, because I was invited by academics who wanted to change the system. I felt the visit did help the liberal academics in a small way to continue to work towards changing their society, but it would not have done so if I had been talking about science unless I had also been able to talk about the inhumanity of apartheid. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 28, 05 | 2:08 am

Thu May 26, 2005

West Bank college benefits from backlash against British boycott of Israeli academia

"If you're going to talk about occupation, England occupied countries throughout history, and didn't the English open universities? And didn't it help the local population?" - Leonid Greenblatt, maths lecturer at College of Judea and Samaria

Union to revisit sanctions vote after claims of anti-semitism

The College of Judea and Samaria, occupying a hilltop in the Jewish settlement of Ariel, is reaping the benefits of the British academic boycott.

Within days of the Association of University Teachers' decision last month to cut ties with two Israeli universities - one of them because of its links to the Ariel campus - Israel's cabinet voted to upgrade the college to the first university in the settlements.
More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 26, 05 | 5:00 pm

Lecturers to go second round on Israeli boycott

Members of the Association of University Teachers are meeting in London today to vote for a second time on whether to boycott Israeli universities.

The AUT caused uproar around the world when its members voted to boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities at its conference last month. The institutions are accused of being complicit in the abuse of Palestinians in the occupied territories, something both have strenuously denied. Haifa University has now issued legal proceedings against the AUT. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 26, 05 | 1:52 pm

Letter to The Independent

Sir: At its meeting on 26 May the AUT should extend its boycott to include all Israeli universities. These universities persistently marginalise the debate about Zionist crimes, by denying sufficient resources and opportunities for it to enter the public discourse in Israel. A proper academic platform would enable debating the monopoly that the Shoah (Hebrew, "catastrophe") has had on memory in Israel, thus leaving no room for the Palestinian catastrophe, the displacement of 750,000 people by Zionism's creation of the state.

The conflict in the Middle East will never be resolved until Israeli society internalises the tremendous wrong Zionism has inflicted on the Palestinian people. It is primarily in Israeli universities that the necessary debate about Zionism must be given a proper platform.

Only a well-informed and firm external boycott will change the pathological academic complicity in keeping the Zionist question in the cupboard. The Israeli Zionist left, the "peace activists", smother the real debate about the origin of the problem by limiting it to the 1967 occupation. Instead, the point of debate ought to be the process which culminated in 1947-49 when Zionism displaced the indigenous population to establish a state based on a dominant religion and ethnicity.

Speaking as an ex-Israeli, to each AUT member I would say that this boycott does not seek to punish Israeli academics for the crimes of Zionism, but to awaken our fellow academics in Israel. It is a boycott about academic freedom, about the academic duty to provide a platform for questioning conventional truths rather than submission to them.

DR OREN BEN-DOR
SCHOOL OF LAW UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 26, 05 | 11:01 am

Both Palestinians and Israelis will benefit from a boycott

The racist and colonial policies echo apartheid, and call for a similar response

Last October, 13-year-old Iman al-Hams was shot and wounded by an Israeli army unit in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, despite being identified as a little girl, and wearing a school uniform. Iman was machine-gunned by the unit's commander. She had 17 bullets in her body, and three in her head, a Palestinian doctor told the Guardian. Iman is one of 654 Palestinian children to have been killed in the occupied territories since September 2000. Several were killed as they sat at their desks in class. Three and a half thousand children have been wounded. Over 300 are in Israeli prisons.

In South Africa's state of emergency of the mid-1980s, declared in response to a nationwide campaign of protest, 312 children were killed, over 1,000 wounded, 2,000 children under 16 were detained without trial, thousands more arrested, hundreds fled into exile, and a generation was marked for life. The Rev Desmond Tutu wrote about one child, Johnny, whom he saw after some time in police custody: "I wanted to cry, I was filled with a blazing anger against a system that could do this to a child ... Johnny's case alone ought to be enough to fill any decent person ... with revulsion and indignation." More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 26, 05 | 10:54 am

Why did I sign the Guardian Letter in support of the AUT boycott?

For me as an Israeli, supporting the academic boycott is not a difficult matter at all. Maybe I am a simpleton and can`t see the whole picture, but for me, as an anti occupation activist, supporting the boycott and calling for its support is really a very simple matter. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 26, 05 | 10:43 am

Wed May 25, 2005

Federation of University Unions Calls on All Parties to Uphold Call for Boycott

During a press conference held at Birzeit University's Media Institute on May 25, 2005, the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities' Professors and Employees, Birzeit University Employees Union and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), together stated their support for the courageous decision taken by the Association of University Teachers in the United Kingdom (AUT), on 22 April 2005, to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel as institutions complicit in the illegal and violent occupation of Palestinian land. They further voiced their strong condemnation of the signing of an agreement between the President of Al Quds University, Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, and the President of the Hebrew University. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 25, 05 | 10:40 pm

Tue May 24, 2005

NYC Protests Sharon Rally at Baruch College

A group of Jewish community human rights activists descended in protest on a highly-touted rally today featuring Israeli PM Ariel Sharon. Crying "Stop the mishegos [craziness], end the occupation!" the activists asked the crowd of executives of major Jewish organizations: "which of you will represent the Jews who want peace?" More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 24, 05 | 11:48 pm

The Power of Logic vs. the Logic of Power

"'Are the Israeli 'racist and colonial policies' similar to those of apartheid South Africa?'

As a Mathematician, I believe in applying logic to every problem we face: social, political, administrative or any other. When arguments get entangled with relevant and irrelevant claims, one has to stop and think logically about the problem.

After the AUT decision to boycott two Israeli universities for their complicity in sustaining the occupation and oppression, many published articles questioned: Is this a justified act? Is it counter-productive? What are the similarities and differences between the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the Israeli occupation of Palestine?

There are some basic questions that one could ask: More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 24, 05 | 11:27 am

Back the boycott

lan Pappe, whose case was a focus of the lecturers' boycott vote, appeals to UK colleagues not to back down

The Association of University Teachers' decision to reconsider its motions on the academic boycott of Israel seems to confuse procedure and principle. I am not a trade union activist, neither am I a British citizen, but I understand there may - or may not - have been procedural, and even tactical, errors in the way the decision was taken. Either way, these issues cannot be the focus of the debate over sanctions and boycott. Judging by the amount of time spent - especially by the opponents of the new AUT policy - on debating procedural matters and tactics, there is a risk of the wider public losing sight of the main issue, namely the need to apply external pressure on Israel as the best means of ending the worst occupation in recent history. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 24, 05 | 11:04 am

Second opinion

It started with a vote at an academic union conference and escalated into an issue that inflamed passions around the globe. This week the boycott of two Israeli universities is to be reconsidered. Which way will it go? Report by Polly Curtis and Matthew Taylor

There are issues about which academics argue, then there are things the rest of the world discusses. But rarely does a row that started among lecturers at a seaside conference end up on front pages around the world. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 24, 05 | 11:02 am

Sun May 22, 2005

Calls for Israel's destruction in London

A central London rally organized by the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Saturday heard Respect Party MP George Galloway advocate a general boycott of Israel, as well as other speeches calling for Israel's destruction.

Dark gray clouds poured heavy rain on London's Trafalgar Square, as a crowd waving Palestine flags and anti-Israel banners filled the square to hear speakers shout vitriolic anti-Israel speeches. Demonstrators chanted Islamic slogans and flags calling for "victory to the intifada" were waved. Leading figures in Britain's anti-Israel coalition also lined up to attack Israel. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 22, 05 | 11:03 am

The Making of an Israeli Factoid

The scene is tragic and unnerving but it has become astonishingly routine -- the deadly routine that imposes ordinariness on the outrageous and unconscionable. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 22, 05 | 2:35 am

Sat May 21, 2005

Academic Freedom in Israel is Central to Resolving the Conflict - To Create It, an Academic Boycott is Needed

I write as an ex-Israeli, who happens to be a British academic. I write because experience has taught my conscience the harm that results from silencing free historical debate, the danger inherent in not letting the Other's voice challenge national heroic myths.

All my education in Israel was one sided, treating the Other as the enemy, the murderers, the rioters, the terrorists -- without alluding, in any way, to their pains and longings. For my teachers and, as a result, for me also, for many years, Zionism was beyond reproach; it was a return to the promised land as a result of persecution, it was draining the swamps, it was building a state based on Jewish genius.

The Holocaust, in which half of my own family was murdered, provided a continuous supply of blinding collective memory -- a memory of victim-hood, and as a result, a source of self-righteousness, much, much self-righteousness. The Holocaust (in Hebrew, "ha-Shoah" - the catastrophe) has always had the monopoly on memory in Israel, leaving no room for al-Naqba (Arabic, "the catastrophe"), the price that the Palestinians paid for the creation of the state. For my teachers, and for me, the 750,000 Palestinian refugees of 1948 were bitter enemies defeated in a war, not human beings with feelings, memories, lost lands and shattered self-respect. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 21, 05 | 6:49 pm

Fri May 20, 2005

US Gays Launch Boycott of Jerusalem Gay Pride

SAN FRANCISCO -- A vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to support a Gay Pride celebration in Jerusalem, Israel, has sparked criticism from gay groups that oppose Israel's policies in the Palestinian territories. They have announced a boycott of the celebration, slated to take place in the contested city of Jerusalem on August 18-20, saying Israel's policies toward the Palestinians make a mockery of the theme of the event, "love without borders?". More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 20, 05 | 2:33 am

Thu May 19, 2005

Palestinian Popular Movements and Civil Society Re-Assert Call for Comprehensive Academic Boycott of Apartheid Israel

By Monday 16th May, 2005 over 100 Palestinian social movements, NGOs and civil society groups had endorsed the statement released by the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, re-asserting the call for a comprehensive academic boycott of Apartheid Israel. The statement backs the initiative taken by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) to boycott two Israeli Universities and to consider calls for a complete academic boycott of Israel. We see this as a means of providing concrete and effective support for the Palestinian struggle for liberation. The AUT motion comes at a crucial time for Palestinians as the Occupation continues to steal our land, ghettoize us behind Apartheid Walls and expand its settlements. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 19, 05 | 9:15 am

Wed May 18, 2005

A selfish ‘freedom’ for Israel's universities

The boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a vital part of the struggle for justice for the Palestinians, write Hilary Rose and Steven Rose

The AUT lecturers’ union passed resolutions in April calling for a boycott of two Israeli universities. One, Bar-Ilan, had a subsidiary college in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, in the occupied West Bank.

The other, Haifa, had harassed Ilan Pappe, the distinguished historian and critic of the Israeli state. The AUT’s act provoked a furious counter-attack not just from Israel, where Haifa university is threatening to sue for defamation, but from Zionist groups around the world. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 18, 05 | 8:31 pm

Zionism vs. Intellectual Freedoms on American College Campuses

t has become obvious during the course of this academic year (2004-05)—if it was not already—that campus advocacy of Zionist ideology and Israeli state interests is shamelessly repressive of open and respectful discourse based on high standards of evidence, argument, and morality. This repression targets basic 1st Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and press; academic and more general intellectual freedoms; and—most crucially—the political freedom to translate well-documented truths and carefully considered moral judgments into advocacy and activism. Like the struggle in Israel and Palestine, conflict on college campuses has an asymmetrical quality. On one side is a vigilant, proactive, and well-funded campaign by Israeli and Jewish-American organizations in support of the policies of the Israeli government, and the funding of those policies by the U.S. government. On the other side is a campaign to disseminate information regarding the history and reality of the Israel/Palestine conflict that has rightfully been incorporated into the conventional wisdom of scholarship, international law, and the reports of major human rights organizations. But unlike the struggle in the Middle East, supporters of Israel cannot use violence with impunity, and thus—in spite of blatant political intimidation by advocates for Israel—the struggle is a spirited and hopeful one for advocates of Palestinian rights, who have the much greater part of truth and conscience on their side. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 18, 05 | 4:19 pm

Fortress Israel

The right of the Palestinian refugees expelled in the 1948 war to return home was acknowledged by the UN General Assembly in December 1948. It is a right anchored in international law and in accordance with notions of universal justice. More surprisingly perhaps, it also makes sense in terms of realpolitik: unless Israel agrees to repatriate the refugees, all attempts to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict are bound to fail, as became clear in 2000 when the Oslo initiative broke down over this issue. Yet only a handful of Jews in Israel are willing to support it, in part because most Israeli Jews deny that ethnic cleansing was carried out in 1948 by Israel.

The aim of the Zionist project has always been to construct and then defend a Western/‘white’ fortress in the Arab/‘dark’ world. At the heart of the refusal to allow Palestinians the right to return is the fear of Jewish Israelis that they will eventually be outnumbered by Arabs in Israel. This prospect arouses such strong feelings that Israelis seem not to care that their actions are condemned throughout the world; the Jewish propensity to seek atonement has been replaced by pious arrogance and self-righteousness. Their position is not unlike that of the Crusaders when they realised that the Kingdom of Jerusalem they had built in the Holy Land was merely an island in a hostile Islamic world. Or that of the white settlers in Africa, whose enclaves have disappeared more recently, their pretence of being another local tribe shattered. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 18, 05 | 12:18 pm

Galloway hounded by AIPAC cell within U.S. Congress; Bolton tied to same cell

May 13, 2005—At a time when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is being investigated for its role in an espionage case involving Larry Franklin, a Pentagon and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) official indicted for passing top secret classified information to two AIPAC officials and possibly the government of Israel, a senator who is bought and paid for by AIPAC—Republican Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota—has decided to change the subject and point to newly elected Respect Party Member of Parliament George Galloway as receiving oil funds from Saddam Hussein. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 18, 05 | 12:15 pm

Haifa University students protest against 'racist' conference on demography

Several dozen Jewish and Arab students protested Tuesday morning at Haifa University against an academic conference titled "The Demographic Problem and Israel's Demographic Policies" that they described as racist.

The students, prevented by campus security personnel from entering the auditorium where the conference was being held, sat down outside and refused to be evacuated.

Conference participants are slated to discuss the forecasts that Arabs will constitute the majority of Israel's population with several decades. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 18, 05 | 12:12 pm

A boycott all the way

The moment I first heard that the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) was planning on boycotting Israeli universities and faculty, I expressed my opposition to the notion in every possible way. I even tried to influence my colleagues in the U.K. and elsewhere - recently the American lecturers' union has been considering a similar idea - to refrain.

In principle, my opposition stems from the understanding that the academic world must work differently than the aggressive political one, and a boycott is a violent step taken by the strong against the weak. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 18, 05 | 12:09 pm

Divestment & boycotts a moral necessity

Divestment and boycotts of Israel are a moral necessity to bring peace.

Divestment and boycotts are non-violent tools intended to challenge situations of injustice and war and thus advance justice and peace. There are always issues raised about the use of such non-violent tactics. These issues include effectiveness, morality, harm done to occupied people, motivations, and precise formulations. In such a short assay, we can only touch on key issues and provide links for further study.

I do want to state three disclaimers before we start: 1) while we may draw on our experiences in other conflicts (e.g. the Zionist break of the popular boycott of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, or the most recent popular actions for Civil Rights, ending the war on Vietnam, and the boycott/divestment of South Africa), every situation is unique and we must remember that such examples are just that examples to be used to develop strategies not to try and copy verbatim, 2) that the most effective activism is one that is based on universal principles (e.g. as articulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), 3) that while violence and atrocities occur around the world, we as US activists must prioritize action in areas where our government help perpetrate and sustain injustice and violence. I will have more to say about these things in the sections below. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 18, 05 | 11:51 am

Tue May 17, 2005

Ruling Palestine: An Interview with COHRE's Scott Leckie

Palestine Report Online interviews Scott Leckie, Executive Director of COHRE, the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, about the human rights group's conclusions, drawn from a new study entitled "Ruling Palestine: A History of the Legally Sanctioned Jewish/Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing in Palestine", that a two-state solution is no longer viable. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 17, 05 | 4:09 pm

90th International Peace Activist to be Deported by Israel

The Israeli Ministry of Interior has issued another deportation
order against an international peace activist. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 17, 05 | 2:57 am

Sun May 15, 2005

U.S. Anglicans eyeing divestment criticize Israel W. Bank policy

The U.S. Episcopal Church, considering a review of investments in companies that do business with Israel, said on Thursday a high-level fact-finding team came back deeply disturbed after visiting the West Bank and nearby areas.

"Israel has a right to defend itself. But it appears that, in the name of security, injustices are being done to the Palestinians that amount to collective punishment," said Jacqueline Scott, a member of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 15, 05 | 8:49 am

Witch Hunts in the Academy

One element of the present dominant conservative consensus in America is aimed at rescuing the university from the nay-sayers, radicals, communists and relativists who are alleged to have taken over the American university and subverted its charter of academic freedom. There is already a movement afoot to create a 'student bill of rights' and Florida has introduced a legislation that would give students the right to sue professors who persistently introduce 'controversial matter' into the classroom. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 15, 05 | 8:39 am

Israeli Figures: Settler Attacks Against Palestinians Rises 52%

GAZA, May 8, 2005 (IPC + Agencies) - - The latest figures released by the Israeli army revealed that Israeli settlers have notably increased their attacks against Palestinians, especially in the cities and villages located near the illegal settlements of the West Bank. More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 15, 05 | 2:01 am

Sat May 14, 2005

Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

"In an article in the New York Times (April 19, 2003), reporter Emily Eakin tells the story of a University of Chicago confab called to assess theory's fate. At a session attended by a bevy of humanities superstars, a student asked: What good is theory if, he said, ‘we concede in fact how much more important the actions of Noam Chomsky are in the world than all the writings of critical theorists combined.’" Jon Spayde, Senior Editor, Utne Reader Nov/Dec 2004

Noam Chomsky has been the foremost critic of America’s imperial adventures for more than three decades. That is probably the only point of agreement shared by his legions of loyal supporters and his equally committed although far less numerous detractors. His domination of the field is so extraordinary and unprecedented that one would be hard-put to find a runner-up. It is a considerable achievement for someone who has been described, at times, as a "reluctant icon."[1]

Despite his low-key demeanor and monotone delivery, Chomsky has been anything but reluctant. On closer examination, however, it appears that he has gained his elevated position less from scholarship than from the sheer body of his work that includes books by the dozens–30 in the last 30 years--and speeches and interviews in the hundreds.

In the field of US-Israel-Palestine relations he has been a virtual human tsunami, washing like a huge wave over genuine scholarly works in the field that contradict his critical positions on the Middle East, namely that Israel serves a strategic asset for the US and that the Israeli lobby, primarily AIPAC, is little more than a pressure group like any other trying to affect US policy in the Middle East. For both of these positions, as I will show, he offers only the sketchiest of evidence and what undercuts his theory he eliminates altogether. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 14, 05 | 7:13 pm

Palestinian Art Blooms online in Birzeit Spring

Palestinian art blooms online in Birzeit spring
Paltel Virtual Gallery breaks new ground in promoting the arts in an environment deprived of opportunity and exposure by ongoing occupation

By Maureen Clare Murphy
Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, May 14, 2005 More...

Posted by: LDavidson on May 14, 05 | 2:50 pm

Fri May 13, 2005

Soas faces action over alleged anti-semitism

A dossier of evidence documenting alleged instances of anti-semitic behaviour at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) has been compiled and delivered to Colin Bundy, the head of the school, with a threat that legal action could follow should he not take action to implement his own anti-discrimination rules.

The document has been collated by the Jewish lobbying group, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, following a meeting with the then education minister Ivan Lewis last month after six months of controversy surrounding Soas, which is part of the University of London. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 13, 05 | 6:23 pm

Sanctions can work...

The AUT boycott is part of a tradition of non-violent protest, argue Hilary Rose and Steven Rose

Just 50 years ago, six years after the call from the African National Congress, 496 British academics published a letter advocating the boycott of South African universities as an expression of solidarity with two anti-apartheid academics served with banning orders by the supremacist regime. In Britain, the Association of University Teachers endorsed the boycott call and sustained this position with honour for 20 years. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 13, 05 | 2:25 pm

Education minister slams Haifa historian for supporting academic boycott

Education Minister Limor Livnat slammed Dr. Ilan Pappe, a Haifa University historian, on Thursday for supporting the academic boycott on Israel imposed by Britain's Association of University Teachers (AUT).

She said it is permissible to criticize, but not to undermine the Jewish state's right to exist. "No one may approach our enemies and ask them to boycott," she said at Israel Prize ceremony held at the Jerusalem Theater.

Bar-Ilan University has created a new Web site to enlist academics to oppose the boycott that the AUT declared against it and the University of Haifa. The two universities have been attempting to increase pressure on the AUT ahead of its special meeting called to reconsider the boycott, to be held in two weeks. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 13, 05 | 8:22 am

Thu May 12, 2005

Fortress Israel

The right of the Palestinian refugees expelled in the 1948 war to return home was acknowledged by the UN General Assembly in December 1948. It is a right anchored in international law and in accordance with notions of universal justice. More surprisingly perhaps, it also makes sense in terms of realpolitik: unless Israel agrees to repatriate the refugees, all attempts to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict are bound to fail, as became clear in 2000 when the Oslo initiative broke down over this issue. Yet only a handful of Jews in Israel are willing to support it, in part because most Israeli Jews deny that ethnic cleansing was carried out in 1948 by Israel.

The aim of the Zionist project has always been to construct and then defend a Western/‘white’ fortress in the Arab/‘dark’ world. At the heart of the refusal to allow Palestinians the right to return is the fear of Jewish Israelis that they will eventually be outnumbered by Arabs in Israel. This prospect arouses such strong feelings that Israelis seem not to care that their actions are condemned throughout the world; the Jewish propensity to seek atonement has been replaced by pious arrogance and self-righteousness. Their position is not unlike that of the Crusaders when they realised that the Kingdom of Jerusalem they had built in the Holy Land was merely an island in a hostile Islamic world. Or that of the white settlers in Africa, whose enclaves have disappeared more recently, their pretence of being another local tribe shattered. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 12, 05 | 8:00 pm

No flies on controversial Blackwell

Sue Blackwell is the scholar behind the AUT's academic boycott of two Israeli universities. When not draping herself in the Palestinian flag she works in the little-known field of corpus studies. But is her research any good, asks John Sutherland

Fame, as Eng-Lit academics will tell you, does not go with the territory. Probably more Guardian readers can identify the drummer in Franz Ferdinand than can come up with a brace of 'world famous' Brit-lit-crit academics (Germaine Greer doesn't count). Outside the LRB/TLS-reading orbit, not even name recognition can be relied on ("Christopher Ricks? Isn't he the Oxford professor of Dylanology?")

One of our number has, however, grabbed screaming headlines over the last weeks, to become truly (in)famous - Sue Blackwell. Ms Blackwell (she doesn't have a PhD yet, and hasn't attained professorial rank) has been excoriated by Melanie Phillips, Howard Jacobson, David Aaronovitch, and Julie Burchill. Weighty leaders have been written about and against her. She has been pictured in the papers (as she is pictured in her outlawed website) provocatively draped in the Palestinian flag, calling for an "academic Intifada", with a "does my conscience look big in this?" look on her smiling face. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 12, 05 | 7:35 pm

Israeli Anthropology and American Anthropology

In March three registered NGOs, Ahoti (Sistah, Hebrew), Israel’s feminists-of-color movement; the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow; and Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for the Palestinian-Arab Citizens of Israel, filed an official complaint to Israel’s State Comptroller against anthropology departments in all Israeli universities.

These NGOs advocate Mizrahi (Arab-Jews of Asian and North African origins) and Palestinian-Israeli human rights. The complaint was researched and co-authored by Yif`at Hillel, Nurit Hajjaj, Vardit Damri-Madar, Rafi Shubeli, Smadar Lavie and by the late Vicki Shiran, founder of Israel’s feminist-of-color movement.

In these NGOs’ complaint, clarification is sought on the almost complete absence of tenured Mizrahi faculty, and the total absence of Palestinian-Israeli faculty in anthropology departments in Israeli universities. Such absences are in complete violation of any principal of equal opportunities employment. Mizrahim and Palestinian citizens of Israel consist of about 70% of Israel’s citizenry. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 12, 05 | 7:33 pm

D I A L O G U E

The Correspondence column is primarily for the use of American Anthropology Association members for the purpose of addressing issues that relate to the discipline and practice of anthropology. AN reserves the right to select and edit letters. All letters must be clearly marked for Anthropology News Correspondence, not to exceed 400 words and consisting of a signed original plus an electronic copy whenever possible. Letters published reflect the views of the correspondents; their publication does not signify endorsement by the American Anthropological Association. Editor’s fax: 703/528-3546 or email: slathrop@aaanet.org .

“Political Discourse”

As editor of a AAA scholarly journal, I am dismayed to learn that vitriolic invective has become an acceptable means of engaging discourse in any publication of AAA. What disturbs me about the epithets used by certain proponents of political causes, just or not, is not so much their intemperate heat, as their hyperbolic misappropriation of concepts. When our colleague, anthropologist Smadar Lavie (Jan 2005 AN see copy in http://www.ha-keshet.org.il/articles.asp?article_id=192 ), misuses the term “apartheid” to characterize Israeli anthropology departments in which certain ethnic-identified groups are underrepresented, she debases a term that carries the weight of horrific suffering and inhumanity. Her evidence, such as it is, does not support this characterization; my understanding of the facts is confirmed by Andre Levy’s response in the same issue (see copy in http://www.haokets.org/Files/levyant.ext.doc) . Where Lavie might appropriately have called for a more concerted effort at affirmative action to redress a past imbalance (as proposed by Levy), her epithet instead attempts to evoke an inappropriate emotional response. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 12, 05 | 2:54 pm

Weapons of Mass Deception

At the time of the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, 70% of Americans told pollsters they believed Saddam Hussein's government was partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In the prelude to the war, the Bush administration hinted at the existence of a link between Iraq and the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

However, intelligence investigations commissioned by the White House and Congress have since determined the suggested links were false. More...

Posted by: adminr on May 12, 05 | 9:52 am

The Collapse of Academic Freedom in Israel: Tantura, Teddy Katz and Haifa University

On April 22, the Association of University Teachers in the United Kingdom voted to boycott the University of Haifa in Israel. Supporters of the boycott referred to the university's treatment of one of its staff, Dr. Ilan Pappe, in the controversy over an MA thesis which had been written by Teddy Katz about events in 1948 in the Palestinian coastal village of Tantura, a few miles south of Haifa.

The boycott decision has led to a media storm in both Israel and the United Kingdom. The debate is ongoing -- opponents of the boycott have collected the twenty-five signatures needed to call a special emergency conference to discuss the boycott again; this meeting will be held on May 26.

I should declare, up front, that I have been tangentially involved in the Katz affair: I attended the court proceedings as a member of the public and I have recently finished translating Katz's thesis into English. However, my interest in the events at Tantura in 1948 goes back much further. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 12, 05 | 8:59 am

Wed May 11, 2005

Statement on the Boycott

Since the Sixties until 1994 I have dedicated most of my time - apart from a spell on Robben Island Prison - to promote and enforce the boycott of Apartheid South Africa. I have no doubt that international solidarity, particularly in the form of the boycott campaign, contributed to change in South Africa.

Despite the political changes in South Africa, Apartheid lives on. It lives on in the oppression of the Palestinian people and their daily subjection to the racism of the Israeli state. The actions of the Israeli state is reminiscent of, and often even worse than that of the South African apartheid regime.

Apartheid South Africa also acted with impunity. It was supported by the West and let us not forget, by pariah states such as Israel and Pinochet's Chile. It was only when people of conscience and organisations around the world pressured their own governments and multilateral institutions, did we see movement toward democracy in South Africa.
More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 11, 05 | 9:25 am

Sun May 08, 2005

Professors in Britain Vote to Boycott 2 Israeli Schools

LONDON, May 7 - Acting in response to an appeal by 60 Palestinian organizations, Britain's leading higher education union has voted to boycott two Israeli universities.

The boycott, which has prompted outrage in Israel, the United States and Britain, would bar Israeli faculty members at Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University from taking part in academic conferences or joint research with their British colleagues.

The resolution on the boycott, passed by the Association of University Teachers in late April, would allow an exception only for those academics at the two schools who declare opposition to Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

The move has so angered Jewish groups in the United States that one organization, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, is considering calling on American universities to carry out a counterboycott against British universities. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 08, 05 | 5:13 pm

Israel Seeks PR Help for Image Makeover

Israeli missions abroad and the Foreign Ministry are hoping to "rebrand" Israel by focusing less on the regional conflict and more on Israel's achievements in science, culture and other areas.

In cooperation with the Advertisers Association, the foreign and finance ministries and the Prime Minister's Office have started drafting PR firms, associations and businesspeople in efforts to find a new image for Israel in keeping with commercial PR and marketing models. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 08, 05 | 2:07 pm

From Ilan Pappe, to the Association of University Teachers in Britain

The AUT’s decision to reconsider its motions on the academic boycott of Israel seems to confuse procedure and principle. I am not a trade union activist, neither am I a British citizen, but I understand there may – or may not – have been procedural and even tactical errors in the way the decision was taken. Either way, these issues cannot be the focus of the debate over sanctions and boycott. Judging by the amount of time spent – especially by the opponents of the new AUT policy – on debating procedural matters and tactics, there is a risk of the wider public losing sight of the main issue, namely the need to apply external pressure on Israel as the best means of ending the worst occupation in recent history. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 08, 05 | 10:28 am

Fri May 06, 2005

Chapter Five: (More on the Katz Affair) La Libre Parole, The Plot, the Trial and the Acquittal.

Although the Katz and Tantura affairs were the motivating force complicating my relationship with the University, there was a wider context for my growing isolation - directly linked to the general deterioration in the state of basic freedoms in Israel, described in the previous chapter. In the campus, this was manifested in the increased tension between the university and the Palestinian students in it. The relative large number of Palestinian students in the campus (20 percent of the overall student population) meant that the events in October 2000 were immediately felt in the university compound. And indeed the link was established in a very personal and bloody manner. Two nephews of Arab lecturers in our university were among those murdered by the Israeli police in October 2000. One of them, Wissam Yazbak, I knew and his uncle is a very good friend of mine. I was the only one who made a note in public about the victims, but my desperate call for a show of solidarity with members of our faculty was received as an act of treason. The community of academics in Haifa University almost unanimously parroted every move the government took without a modicum of criticism. My seclusion and exclusion in the university was a foretold story given this immoral and cowardly behaviour of a community of scholars in the so called ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 8:50 pm

Chapter Four: The Katz Affair

In the late 1980s I gave a course in Haifa University on the history of the conflict. Students were allowed free hand in choosing how best to present their thoughts on the issue of the conflict. One relatively elderly student of mine, a member of a kibbutz, Teddy Katz, decided to look into the chronicles of his kibbutz in the 1948 war.

He discovered that his Kibbutz, Magal, was sitting on the ruins of a village called Zeyta. He further found out that this village was not occupied in 1948, but was rather confiscated after the war by the Israeli government as it was coveted by the Kibbutzim movement for its fertile soil and convenient location on the way between Haifa and Tel-Aviv. As was quite common in the years between 1948 and 1955, such a wish by the Kibbutz movement could easily turn into reality. The villagers were ordered to leave and rebuilt their village to the east. When the new kibbutzniks arrived in their novel place – they were still unhappy. They could from their windows those who were evicted so that they could have a home. So they asked, and were heeded, that Zeyta should be moved again. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 8:38 pm

Severe Inaccuracies in the (Haifa) University’s Response to the AUT Decision

To Professor Ben-Arzi, University Rector
Haifa University Staff

Re: Severe Inaccuracies in the University’s Response to the AUT Decision

Dear Ms. Whintman,

I wish to protest on the many inaccuracies that have been inserted into the university’s position in regard to the AUT boycott decision. Regardless of my sympathy with the criticism of the decision, and perhaps for this very reason, I find it disturbing that the university has been carried away to demonize one of its lecturers and has twisted significant facts regarding Mr. Katz’s thesis in the process. The following is a longish list of unfounded claims and misplaced personal attacks in the Hebrew and English declarations emanating from your office.

You say that “in recent years Dr. Ilan Pappe is conducting a libelous war and a smear campaign against Haifa university and its staff”. It is no secret that Dr. Pappe is critical of the university and certainly one may find fault with him for supporting the boycott. However, it is not for you to call this “a libelous war and a smear campaign”. Dr. Pappe may express his criticism, one may respond to it factually and reject it. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 8:30 pm

Special Column (No title: Attack on Pappe for Supporting Boycott)

Who was the author of the following: “Transfer is the official policy of an Israeli academic institution… transfer appeared as a proposed strategy submitted to the government by senior Labour Party ministers… transfer is openly supported by professors and media commentators. Few in Israel dare to condemn transfer.”

Needless to say there is no academic institution that submitted a proposal of transfer, there are no Labour Party ministers who submitted a transfer proposal to the government and there is not one known commentator in the leading Israeli papers who supports transfer. And needless to add that there is an overwhelming majority in the academia, the media as well as the general public who oppose transfer.

However, there is one academic who has made it a central occupation to disseminate libels against Israel with the declared aim of annihilating it. This man is so addicted to his own lies that he will not allow facts to confuse him. These words of incitement – and there are many more such – he published in the Egyptian Al-Aharam paper. Demonization of the Jews is the well known method of the old antisemites. Demonization of Israel is the expanding method of the new antisemites. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 8:26 pm

Restrictions Imposed On Aid to Palestinians: Bill Avoids Directing Funds to Authority

Congress imposed the tight restrictions on aid to the Palestinians that President Bush had announced with fanfare in his State of the Union address, possibly dealing a blow to U.S. efforts to support new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the emergency spending bill that lawmakers completed late Tuesday, the White House had sought $200 million "to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms," as the president said in his February State of the Union address. But the fine print of the document gives $50 million of that money directly to Israel to build terminals for people and goods at checkpoints surrounding Palestinian areas. Another $2 million for Palestinian health care will be provided to Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, while the allocation of the rest of the money is tightly prescribed. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 8:23 pm

Store banned from importing books printed in Lebanon, Syria

The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment has prohibited a Haifa bookstore from importing books printed in Lebanon and Syria, counter to a policy followed for many years that permitted such imports.

The head of the ministry's Wood, Paper, and Print Department, Shmuel Nahmias, sent a letter this week to the Kol-Bo bookstore stating that importing products from Syria and Lebanon violates a law called the Ordinance against Trade with the enemy. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 8:19 pm

Alone on the barricades

The shock wave that hit Israeli academia last week, in wake of the boycott declared by Britain's Association of University Teachers (AUT) against Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities, found Dr. Ilan Pappe, the Israeli protagonist in the whole uproar, on a trip to Thailand. With his wife and two children, Pappe was climbing mountains, riding elephants and whitewater rafting. Only when he returned to his quiet home in Tivon on the weekend did he begin to understand the magnitude of the fuss. On his answering machine, he found at least a dozen death threats. "We're from the Russian mafia," said one voice. "We'll come to whack you." "We'll get Yigal Amir out on furlough - and not so he can be with Larisa," promised another.

But despite the trip to Thailand ("People were sure that I'd run away. They didn't believe that I'd planned the trip a year before," he says), the AUT's decision didn't really catch Pappe by surprise. In fact, he had been in continuous contact with the association and regularly updated his friends in it about his confrontations with Haifa University (its harassment of him, according to Pappe; Pappe's lies, according to the university's president), and knew that they were about to make a decision. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 8:09 pm

Special Column (No Title; Attack on Pappe for Supporting the Boycott)

Every year, on the eve of Passover, a cloud would hang over the festivities of the house of Israel in all its dispersions. Lunacy, cruelty comprised of the basest human drives found vent in the blood libels woven against our people. Dark abysses, rivers of blood, humiliation and torture, murder, martyrdom and expulsion. The lie was repeated, crossed frontiers, religions and time – the Jews murder gentiles and use their blood sacrificially on the eve of Passover.

First the libels in the Hellenistic world (see entry “Yosef Ben-Matitiahu”) from thence they migrated to Europe and reached a head during the Crusades. They did not circumvent the Muslim East (the Damascus Libel) nor evil Russia (the Beilis Trial, 1911). The libels were renewed under the Nazi regime and were reaffirmed and reinforced in the Muslim world.

The ghosts of the bloody past walk among us and the image of the Jew in the collective memory remains that of the blood thirsty demon aspiring to suck the blood of an innocent Christian child (see Jeffery Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales). More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 06, 05 | 2:16 pm

Thu May 05, 2005

Severe Inaccuracies in the University’s Response to the AUT Decision

To Professor Ben-Arzi, University Rector
Haifa University Staff

Re: Severe Inaccuracies in the University’s Response to the AUT Decision

Dear Ms. Whintman,

I wish to protest on the many inaccuracies that have been inserted into the university’s position in regard to the AUT boycott decision. Regardless of my sympathy with the criticism of the decision, and perhaps for this very reason, I find it disturbing that the university has been carried away to demonize one of its lecturers and has twisted significant facts regarding Mr. Katz’s thesis in the process. The following is a longish list of unfounded claims and misplaced personal attacks in the Hebrew and English declarations emanating from your office.
More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 05, 05 | 5:26 pm

JUST OUT: TWENTY STUDENTS SIGN PETITION STATING THAT CLAIM AGAINST MASSAD IS FALSE

Censoring Thought has obtained a letter, included below, signed by twenty former students of Professor Joseph Massad, stating that the claims made by Deena Shanker that Professor Massad told her to leave his class if she was going to deny Israeli atrocities are unequivocally false. The letter, sent to the Columbia administration, states in clear terms that the signers were in the class at the time, that the alleged incident never happened, and that the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee's findings regarding the event are incorrect. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 05, 05 | 12:01 pm

WHY US? (On the academic boycott)

A boycott decision, like that passed by Britain's Association of University Teachers to boycott two Israeli universities, naturally raises a hue and cry among Israelis. Why us? And why now, 'just when negotiations with the Palestinians might be renewed'?

It may be worthwhile, however, to consider how the world perceives us. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Israel must immediately dismantle those parts of the wall that were built on Palestinian lands. We disregarded the ruling. We are turning the West Bank into a prison for Palestinians, as we have already done in Gaza in the course of 38 years of occupation, every one of which is a violation of UN resolutions. Since 1993 we have been engaged in negotiations with the Palestinians, and in the meantime we continued expanding settlements. In its judgement, the Court recommended to the UN that sanctions be imposed on Israel if its ruling is not obeyed. The Israeli reply - no need to worry! As long as the United States is behind us, the UN will do nothing. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 05, 05 | 11:24 am

Wed May 04, 2005

Al-Arian seeks change of venue

His lawyers, citing constant news coverage and bias among potential jurors, want the trial moved out of state.

TAMPA - Attorneys for Sami Al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor accused of raising money for a Palestinian terrorist group, have asked a federal judge to move the upcoming trial out of Florida.

Citing the constant barrage of news coverage, the recent U.S. Senate campaign in which Al-Arian became a central topic of debate, and evidence of "serious bias and prejudice" among potential jurors, attorneys said their client could not receive a fair trial in Tampa.

"The pressure to convict him in this community would be tremendous," the attorneys wrote in the filing to U.S. District Judge James Moody. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 04, 05 | 3:45 pm

It’s not a boycott of academics but pressure on Israel

This week Palestine Report Online interviews Nabil Kassis, President of Birzeit University, on the boycott of two Israeli universities by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT).

PR: Do you think the boycott initiated by the AUT is a positive step?

Kassis: I think it shows awareness on behalf of the AUT of the problems that beset the Palestinian educational system and the problems that teachers here are facing. It's a step that shows solidarity and signals disapproval of the practices of some Israeli universities. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 04, 05 | 3:31 pm

Tue May 03, 2005

The Palestinian Gandhi

"Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?" is a quite popular question, especially abroad. You won't often hear it asked (with the inevitable self-righteous shrug) here in Israel: after all, the Israeli culture itself worships violence, with the semantic field of "war" being the richest in the modern Hebrew language, with militarism as the state religion, and with popular wisdom expressed in rules of thumb such as "where force won't do, try more force."

But Americans love the Gandhi riddle. While their governments give Israel gigantic military aid, private Americans with the best intentions – like actor Ben Kingsley – translate the film Gandhi into Arabic and screen it all over the occupied territories as an example for the Palestinians to follow.

The intentions of "the Gandhi Project" must be noble. And though international law and conventions unambiguously acknowledge the right of occupied peoples to use violence against their oppressors – just like guerrilla fighters did under Nazi occupation – the question whether violence or nonviolence serves their cause better is for the Palestinians to decide. There are, of course, several convincing arguments in favor of abandoning the violent resistance, most notably the huge benefits that Israel draws from portraying the Palestinians as "terrorists" to legitimate the use of its overwhelming military superiority against them.

If "the Gandhi Project" wants to be truly helpful, however, I have a better idea for it. Instead of screening Gandhi in the occupied territories, let it screen throughout America the footage of the recent demonstration in the Palestinian village of Bil'in (to be found on Gush Shalom's Web site). This footage can help inform Americans about the realities of the occupation largely equipped and financed by their taxes – a much more urgent task than teaching Palestinians about the late Indian leader. It also suggests an unusual solution to the puzzle of the "Palestinian Gandhi." More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 03, 05 | 9:22 pm

AIPAC’s Lobbying

Introduction: We turn our attention now to AIPAC. That is the major lobby representing Israel in the United States. I want to read to you from an article that appears in the December 31, 2004 issue of Forward, the most significant and the oldest newspaper in the United States, if not in the world. And we are talking about AIPAC…

“As the Department of Justice intensifies its investigation of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Jewish communal leaders fear that the goal of the probe is to compel the powerful lobbying organization to register as a “foreign agent” representing the government of another country.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential organizations on Capitol Hill, AIPAC is registered with Congress as a lobbying group. Under American law, registering as a foreign agent would require Aipac to provide significantly more detailed information about its aims and activities to the government — thereby robbing the group of a key weapon: the ability to operate behind the scenes.”
— Ori Nir, Leaders Fear Probe Will Force Pro-Israel Lobby To File as ‘Foreign Agent' Could Fuel Dual Loyalty Talk, Forward, Dec. 31, 2004.


A very interesting opening to a new article in the Forward. We are going to talk about AIPAC, and joining us to do that is Jeffrey Blankfort. He has been focusing on this group and targeted by groups related to AIPAC/working with AIPAC – in fact sued the Anti-defamation League for a collaboration that I am sure included AIPAC… we don’t know a lot about it, but we know they were involved. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 03, 05 | 9:15 pm

Israel founds W Bank university

The Israeli cabinet has voted to confer university status on a college in a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Thirteen ministers voted for the proposal to upgrade the College of Judea and Samaria in the Ariel settlement, while seven voted against. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 03, 05 | 9:00 pm

Politicide, no less

The British Association of University Teachers (AUT) is due today to debate the question of an academic boycott of Israeli universities. The motions to be discussed single out the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University for condemnation. In all three cases, specific grievances are cited. The factual basis of each proves, on examination, to be flimsy in the extreme. Boycott is recommended against Bar-Ilan University, for example, because of a degree supervision agreement with the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel. The agreement is set to end this year - for reasons of a purely academic nature.

Observation of those proposing the boycott - and their statements regarding its intent - indicate that their concerns go beyond the merely parochial. Their fast-and-loose attitude to facts is hence unsurprising. The people behind the boycott campaign, of which the AUT initiative is a part, see in it the beginnings of an international campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 03, 05 | 10:59 am

Mon May 02, 2005

Swindler on a Gusher

WASHINGTON

The Iraqis have thrown us another curveball.

Ahmad Chalabi - convicted embezzler in Jordan, suspected Iranian spy, double-crosser of America, purveyor of phony war-instigating intelligence - is the new acting Iraqi oil minister.

Is that why we went to war, to put the oily in charge of the oil, to set the swindler who pretended to be Spartacus atop the ultimate gusher? More...

Posted by: nachoua on May 02, 05 | 9:29 pm

Letter from Jerusalem

n our very first lessons on the British constitution we were impressed with the most salient of facts to the effect that the British Parliament can turn a man into a woman (or vice versa). This, it turns out, was excellent intellectual and psychological preparation for understanding what is happening in the Israeli settlement of Ariel, before our very
eyes.

Today’s issue of the Israeli daily, Ma’ariv, informs us that the next meeting on the Israeli cabinet is going to turn the College of Judea and Samaria into a university. It appears that the initiative is coming from the Minister for Education, Limor Livnat. Ms. Livnat, it transpires, has granted her acquiescence to Sharon’s Gaza Disengagement Plan conditionally.

The condition – you guessed it – is to intensify settlement in the West Bank. Livnat figures that the ‘new university’ will attract additional population to the Ariel area. She is also certain, according to the same source, that there will not be any difficulty concerning her initiative which has reportedly received the backing of Ariel Sharon, with the United States, which has given its blessing to the settlement blocs, Ariel included. Thus if all goes well, the Israeli government will turn a college previously established by fiat of a military officer in the occupation, into a full fledged university. Livan claims that there is no financial problem involved since the College is already funded by the
Israeli Council of Higher Education. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 02, 05 | 8:17 pm

Cabinet votes 13-7 to declare West Bank college a university

The cabinet voted 13-7 Monday to confer university status on Judea and Samaria College in Ariel, less than two weeks after a major British lecturers union sparked wide controversy by declaring a boycott against Bar-Ilan University for its links to the West Bank college.

The vote was held amid acrimonious debate in the cabinet over the political significance of upgrading the status of a college in a West Bank settlement. Likud ministers followed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's lead in supporting the Ariel proposal, while Labor ministers - with the exception of Dalia Itzik, who abstained - complied with Vice Premier Shimon Peres' call to vote against it.

The government also unanimously approved a proposal to combine a number of northern colleges into a Galilee university, an initiative that has been promoted recently by Peres. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 02, 05 | 5:31 pm

Sun May 01, 2005

Response to Julie Burchill: British AUT getting 'down wiv the kidz'

Julie Burchill: British AUT getting 'down wiv the kidz'
Talkback
Title boycott is a Jewish concept. it shoud be used more often
Name: leibowitz
City: State:

As an Israeli who still lives in Israel, I support this boycott. Precisely because I love the people who live here, and preciely because I still believe in the Jewish values of freedom, justice and equality, I want to congratulate the British associaton for taking this courageous step, and hope it will have a "snowball effect".

Come to think of it, boycott and excommunication are age-old Jewish concepts. Many sources in Judaism teach us that these are legitimate tools to be used against evil and iniquitous regimes.

The failure of the (small) Israeli and international human rights community to end Israel`s 38-year systematic persecution, oppression and brutalization of the Palestinian people in the WB and Gaza - and the tragic deaths of so many innocent Jews and Palestinians due to that failure - make it necessary to start using the ago-old Jewish traditions of boycott and excommunication. The failure of Western countries to hold Israeli governments accountable for massive gross human rights violations and war crimes - can lead to only one logical conclusion: it`s high time that civil society around the world takes steps to render the Occupation untenable.

But this must be part of a broader boycott directed, mainly, at arms sales to Israel, multi-national corporations who - directly or indirectly - support the occupation, and cultural and sports events involving Israeli athletes, musicians, judges and other members of highly-valued professions.

Not because Israelis themselves are bad. Indeed, most Israelis are decent human beings, and have made great accomplishments in science, business, music, art and law. But because the majority of Israelis are in a deep coma. While their country is carrying out an atrocious policy of persecution, ethnic cleansing and legalized apartheid - they are in a vegetative state. And they continue to sleep while their government is turning Gaza into the largest prison in the world. And while their government is carrying out a plan which will annex 50% of the West Bank to Israel, and drive the Palestinians into isolated surrouned enclaves.

And so they need to be woken up. They must understand that unless they stop this large-scale oppression, land theft, and total dehumanization - they will be persona-non-grata around the world. Not just in academia, but in business, law, sports, music and arts.

My fellow Israelis: In biblical times, God had to send Jonah, with the whole story of the whale, to wake up a city from committing evil over a prolonged period of time. Now, the AUT has sent us the same message, albeit with a different kind of messenger. And if we don`t wake up and join hands in non-violent direct action against the occupation - other unions, countries, cities will, justly, do the same.

And to AUT and other potential boycotters: Keep up the pressure. There is a leviathan out there called pro-Israel lobby. This leviathan, under the guise of "defending" Israel, seeks to promote apartheid and racism, by threatening and intimidating fair-minded citizens of the world like you. This article in Haaretz is just one example. Ignore it. You are doing the right thing.

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 01, 05 | 5:49 pm

Divestment Vote Targets Israeli Occupation

Proposal By United Church Of Christ Draws Protests From Jewish Community

The 1.4 million-member United Church of Christ will vote this summer on whether to divest from certain U.S. companies doing business with Israel as a protest against the Jewish state's occupation of Palestinian territories, church officials said Friday.

The measure would single out as possible divestment targets U.S. corporations "involved with Israel's illegal occupations of the West Bank and Gaza, the construction of the `security fence,' and the continuation of ... Israeli settlements within Palestinian territories." The church, which holds a $3 billion national investment portfolio, will become the second mainline Protestant denomination to vote on the controversial issue. Last year, the Presbyterian Church USA decided to begin a process of divestment from U.S. companies it believes benefit from the occupation. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 01, 05 | 4:47 pm

Message on Bar-Ilan from Reuven Kaminer

From: Reuven Kaminer
Sent: Fri, April 29, 2005 7:34 PM
Subject: Bar Ilan University and Academic Freedom

Letter from Jerusalem

Bar Ilan University in the Defense of Academic Freedom

Bar Ilan University and the College of Judea and Samaria (CJS) are in the news. So here is some additional information for those interested in the subject. The CJS has recently submitted a request to have its research Master of Arts degree recognized by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) in Israel. Such a step is necessary if a student who completes his MA at the CJS plans to go on to doctoral studies in an Israeli university.

The relationship between the CJS and the Council of Higher Education in Israel is a bit complicated. If you check out the accreditation situation, it becomes clear that the CJS is not accredited by the CHE. However, the CHE does note on its website that the CJS is accredited by a separate body which is called the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria CHE-JS). This Council is situated at Bar Ilan University. The CHE-JS does not have a website and does not reveal to the public its composition. So we do not know the identity of the people who work out of an Israeli institution and consider themselves qualified to confer accreditation for BA studies and MA studies (non-research trend up to this point).

On the other hand, the CHE-JS is quite candid about the source of its jurisdiction and states that it operates on the basis of a decree issued by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). In my translation, the decree is for the 'Administration of Local Authorities (Judea and Samaria) [tsav b'dvar nihul moatsot mikomiut] Number 892 from the year 1981, article 3 (h), addendum 4 - Orders regarding Education.'

Thus, the relevant IDF commander created a council for higher education in the West Bank. Some hard questions: More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 01, 05 | 4:40 pm

In the name of truth

"Among Arabs, you will not find the phenomenon so typical of Judeo-Christian culture: doubts, a sense of guilt, the self-tormenting approach, `Maybe we weren't entirely OK,' or `Maybe we need to act or react differently.' These phenomena are totally unknown in Arab-Islamic society, toward outsiders. They have no doubts about their positions or the justice of their side. They have no sense of guilt that they may have erred. They have neither twinges of conscience nor any regrets that they may have done wrong to anyone else ... The phenomenon of the murderers by suicide, sometimes called suicide bombers, is an absolute indication. There is no condemnation, no regret, no problem of conscience among Arabs and Muslims, anywhere, in any social stratum, of any social position." (Dr David Bukay, "The First Cultural Flaw in Thinking: The Arab Personality," from Bukay's book "Arab-Islamic Political Culture: A Key Source to Understanding Arab Politics and the Arab-Israeli Conflict." ACPRPublishers, 2003.)

Dr. David Bukay is a person of some standing at the University of Haifa. He teaches in the Department of Political Science in the Social Sciences Faculty and is considered close to the department head, Prof. Gabriel Ben Dor. My meeting with Bukay was held in Prof. Ben Dor's office; Ben Dor and Bukay share the same secretary. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on May 01, 05 | 10:44 am