Archives: January 2006

Sun Jan 29, 2006

The Palestinian Call for Academic Boycott Revised - Adjusting the Parameters of the Debate

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has decided to omit from its 2004 Call for Boycott (enclosed below) an exclusion clause which has been justifiably misunderstood by supporters and misrepresented by critics as inconsistent with the institutional boycott advocated by PACBI. With this revision, PACBI sincerely hopes that, rather than being sidetracked by discussions on a formal and unintentional discrepancy in the drafting of our Call, the debate will once again focus on the very real grounds for this boycott Call, namely Israel’s military occupation and colonization, its denial of refugee rights and its system of racial discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 29, 06 | 3:52 pm

Sat Jan 28, 2006

The Killing Fields: Ghosts of the Walking Dead - Oil, Simply Oil

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)

The story of Iraq and its people since 1991 is one of immense tragedy, of a fate cruel and evil that has befallen innocent human beings whose only crime has been living inside what was once the ancient land of Mesopotamia. It is ironic that the land that first gave rise to human civilization has been made to suffer tremendous hardship in the last fifteen years, severely decimated and destroyed, its wounds hemorrhaging from incessant human cruelty. The heart of the Fertile Crescent has become a barren wasteland, its waters, the Tigris and Euphrates, those veins of sustenance for our ancient forefathers, transformed into rivers of waste and pollution and decaying death, their fertility now mutated into toxicity.

Its cities and peoples, descendants of a civilization thousands of years old, rich in both culture and history, have been made to suffer the severe consequences of sitting atop modern humanity’s most coveted natural resource, a black gold sought by nations and corporations of the rich and powerful north, a devil’s excrement that fuels economies and human greed, feeding apathy and wickedness, corruption and colonialism, and, as always, expanding comfort and excessiveness in the lands of the pillagers. To those nations whose unlucky possession of oil has brought nothing but exploitation and misery, like Iraq, the black gold fever created has yielded a curse upon both peoples and lands, for in their strategic location exists the energy needed to feed today’s wealthiest and most powerful nations. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 28, 06 | 5:15 pm

Thu Jan 19, 2006

The truth you don't hear

The on-the-ground reality of Israel's moral bankruptcy in its genocidal policies towards the Palestinians remains as clear as ever, writes Mustafa Barghouti*

What is the current situation on the ground in Palestine? The Israeli narrative that continues to dominate the international media presents an image that is absolutely at odds with reality. The Gaza redeployment was spun as the beginning of a peace process; a great retreat by General Ariel Sharon, who was portrayed as a man of peace. Yet the fact remains that Palestine is 27,000 square kilometres, of which the West Bank constitutes only 5,860 square kilometres, and the Gaza Strip, just 360 sq km. This is equal to only 1.3 per cent of the total land of historic Palestine. So even if Sharon really had withdrawn from Gaza, this would amount to just 5.8 per cent of the occupied territories.

But the Israelis did not get out of Gaza. A big fuss was created about the great sacrifice Israel was making and how painful it was for settlers to leave. If you steal a piece of land and keep it for 20 years, of course it becomes painful to leave it but it is still something stolen that should be returned to its owners. Prior to the disengagement, a total of 152 settlements existed in the occupied territories: 101 in the West Bank, 30 in East Jerusalem, and 21 in the Gaza Strip. These figures do not include the settlements that Sharon and the Israeli army have created in the West Bank without officially recognising them. With the disengagement, and the evacuation of settlements in Gaza and four small settlements in the Jenin area of the West Bank, 127 settlements have been left in place. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 19, 06 | 4:56 pm

Rightwing group offers students $100 to spy on professors

· Republican graduate's site prompts witch-hunt fears
· 31 academics listed as 'worthy of scrutiny'

It is the sort of invitation any poverty-stricken student would find hard to resist. "Do you have a professor who just can't stop talking about President Bush, about the war in Iraq, about the Republican party, or any other ideological issue that has nothing to do with the class subject matter? If you help ... expose the professor, we'll pay you for your work."

For full notes, a tape recording and a copy of all teaching materials, students at the University of California Los Angeles are being offered $100 (£57) - the tape recorder is provided free of charge - by an alumni group. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 19, 06 | 10:59 am

Wed Jan 18, 2006

20 Quebec groups urge Israel boycott

Twenty Quebec organizations, including the Fédération des Femmes du Québec (FFQ) and the provincial union of CEGEP teachers, have endorsed a new campaign to boycott Israeli products and companies deemed to be supporting the Jewish state’s “apartheid politics.”

They are protesting Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territory, the security fence and alleged violations of international law.

Jewish community officials did not react and, in fact, were not aware of the campaign at first, because its launch received no mainstream media coverage.

“I think that’s the most eloquent statement – that there was no media coverage. I wou! ld call that a catastrophic failure,” said Sara Saber-Freedman, the Montreal-based chief executive officer of the Canada-Israel Committee.

She doubts the campaign will have a practical impact or generate sympathy among the Quebec public. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 18, 06 | 9:16 am

Tue Jan 17, 2006

National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) Action Alert: Racist Article In College Textbook

In a widely used college textbook published by McGraw-Hill, an article titled "The Great War on Militant Islam" includes racist references to Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians. See an excerpt below.

"Christianity and Judaism in particular - regard themselves, like Islam regards itself, as a final, divinely revealed truth. Yes, they too proselytize, and they have their occasional religiously motivated murderers. But those are aberrational and instantly condemned by the rest of the faithful. On the Planet Earth today, only Islam sports an unbridled faction that systematically inculcates hatred, systematically dehumanizes non-adherents, and systematically kills massively and indiscriminately." Page 143

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 17, 06 | 1:45 pm

Economic boycott of Israel?

Editor's Note: This article appears in the January 14 issue of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

The recent proposal that Norway boycott Israeli goods has provoked passionate debate. In my view, a rational examination of this issue would pose two questions: 1) Do Israeli human rights violations warrant an economic boycott? and 2) Can such a boycott make a meaningful contribution toward ending these violations? I would argue that both these questions should be answered in the affirmative.

Although the subject of many reports by human rights organizations, Israel's real human rights record in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is generally not well known abroad. This is primarily due to the formidable public relations industry of Israel's defenders as well as the effectiveness of their tactics of intimidation, such as labeling critics of Israeli policy anti-Semitic.

Yet, it is an incontestable fact that Israel has committed a broad range of human rights violations, many rising to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include: More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 17, 06 | 12:48 pm

Sun Jan 15, 2006

Letter from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) to the EUROPEAid office in Brussels, concerning the shortlisting of a partnership proposal between the Ramallah Film Institute and the New Foundation for Cinema a

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Europeaid Office de Cooopération A
Rue de la Loi, 200
B-1049 Bruxelles

Dear Ms. Catherine Colomb-Nancy,

It has come to our attention that the Ramallah Film Institute, a Palestinian organization operating in Ramallah, together with the New Foundation for Cinema and Television, an Israeli organization operating in Tel Aviv and founded by the Israeli Ministry of Arts, have submitted a joint proposal to the Euromed Audiovisual II, that has recently been short listed.

We in the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) would like to express our concern that such a project/ partnership is sponsored by the EU. As Palestinians, we continue to suffer from a 38 year-old Israeli occupation; we continue to witness on a daily basis Israel’s violation of international law and abuse of our basic human rights. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 12:48 pm

Letter from Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists, Producers, Cultural Institutions, and other cultural workers concerning the short listing of a partnership proposal between the Ramallah Film Institute and the New Foundation for Cinema and Television (Israel)

Jan. 2, 2006

Europeaid Office de Cooopération A
Rue de la Loi, 200
B-1049 Bruxelles

Dear Ms. Catherine Colomb-Nancy

We, the undersigned, a group of Palestinian filmmakers and cultural workers, are writing to you to kindly request your attention to a matter of some importance.

We have just learned of your Short List for the Euromed Audiovisual II, for the development of documentary film. Among the short-listed recipients are the Ramallah Film Institute (Palestine) & The New Foundation for Cinema and Television (Israel) (proposal Nr. 15).

We realize how important this funding can be for the development of documentary film practices in the region and especially in Palestine. However, in order for Palestinian filmmakers to benefit from such an opportunity to develop their film careers, we believe this funding must be channeled in an acceptable framework, that is transparent, trusted, and rooted in the community. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 12:44 pm

Entire Region of Norway to boycott Apartheid Israel!

The regional council of the Sør-Trøndelag in Norway has passed a motion calling for a comprehensive boycott on Israeli goods to be followed up with an awareness raising campaign across the region. Sør-Trøndelag has a population of 270,000 out of Norway’s 4.6 million. Trondheim, Norway`s third largest city, forms part of the region and will participate in the boycott initiative. The council committed itself to this motion as a result of intensive work by Norwegian activists that had launched a national Boycott Israel campaign this June. The success of this motion has marked a massive move forwards for boycotts of Apartheid Israel.

Building from the region`s experience of support for the South African Anti-Apartheid struggle, the people and their representatives in Sør-Trøndelag have once again sided with the calls for justice and liberation. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 12:33 pm

Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai boycotts international poetry festival in Jerusalem

Note: Aharon Shabtai is an Israeli poet and teaches Hebrew literature at Tel Aviv University. His letter (below) was sent to the organizers of the 5th international poetry festival in Jerusalem. He has approved wide ciruclation and publication of his letter. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 12:31 pm

Norway split over Israel boycott

Norway's Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen is backing a planned consumer boycott of Israeli goods, contradicting the coalition government's policy.

Ms Halvorsen voiced support for a campaign of solidarity with the Palestinians, due to be launched by her Socialist Left party this month.

"It is a long time since I bought any Israeli products," she told Norway's Dagbladet newspaper. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 10:48 am

SV's boycott call embarrasses government

Norway's prime minister and foreign minister were busy with damage control tasks late this week, after one of their government's coalition parties called for a boycott of Israeli products. And just when Israel's own prime minister was lying gravely ill. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 10:27 am

USA threats after boycott support

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threatened Norway with "serious political consequences" after Finance Minister and Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen admitted to supporting a boycott of Israeli goods.

The reaction was reportedly given to the Norwegian embassy in Washington DC, and it was made clear that the statements came from the top level of the US State Department, newspaper VG reports. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 10:24 am

How the FBI Spied on Edward Said: A CounterPunch Exclusive Investigation

The FBI has a long, ignoble tradition of monitoring and harassing America's top intellectuals. While people ranging from Albert Einstein, William Carlos Williams to Martin Luther King have been subjected to FBI surveillance, there remains an under-accounting of the ways in which this monitoring at times hampered the reception of their work.

In response to my request under the Freedom of Information Act, filed on behalf of CounterPunch, the FBI recently released 147 of Said's 238-page FBI file. There are some unusual gaps in the released records, and it is possible that the FBI still holds far more files on Professor Said than they acknowledge. Some of these gaps may exist because new Patriot Act and National Security exemptions allow the FBI to deny the existence of records; however, the released file provides enough information to examine the FBI's interest in Edward Said who mixed artistic appreciations, social theory, and political activism in powerful and unique ways. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Jan 15, 06 | 10:20 am