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Why We Boycott Israel


A LeftViews article by Art Young | August 6, 2010 | Excerpts

In the first action of its kind in the United States, on June 20 more than 700 unionists and community activists picketed at several entrances to the Port of Oakland, California, protesting the arrival of an Israeli-owned vessel. Two shifts of members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union refused to cross the picket line. The cargo was unloaded only 24 hours later, after the picket lines were lifted.

The protest was organized by the Labor / Community Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an ad-hoc coalition of local labour, Palestine solidarity, and social justice groups. Several hundred unionists responded to the call of the San Francisco and Alameda County labour councils and other unionists to support the action.[7] Statements of support for the action were issued by the Oakland Education Association, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions and the Cuban labour federation, the Cuban Workers Central, among others.[8]

Opposing the boycott

One group that did not support the action in Oakland was the U.S. Socialist Workers Party. The SWP is opposed to boycotting Israel. It reaffirmed this stand at its national conference a few days before the picket in Oakland.

The group first elaborated its position on the Palestinian struggle in a series of articles that appeared during the first half of 2009 in The Militant, a weekly newspaper that expresses its views. These articles argued that:

  1. There is no Zionist movement today.
  2. Anti-Zionism is a cover for anti-Semitism.
  3. Israel’s rulers plan to give up control of most of the West Bank and Gaza.
  4. Israel is not an apartheid state.
  5. The BDS campaign is not only wrong. It is anti-Semitic.
  6. The democratic, secular Palestine that the SWP envisages must grant a special right of immigration to the Jews of the world.[9]

This line of argument places the SWP in the Zionist camp. To be sure, the SWP opposes Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, but the thrust of its argument is directed against the solidarity movement. It endorses the slanders advanced by Israel’s supporters that anti-Zionism in general and the BDS movement in particular are anti-Semitic. The group also supports a privileged position for Jews in Palestine.[10]

A complete reversal on Zionism

These positions represent a breathtaking turnabout for a group that for decades unconditionally supported the Palestinian people and thoroughly opposed Zionism.

The SWP’s previous position on these questions was explained in a resolution it adopted at its 1971 convention. The opening paragraphs of that resolution read:

The Socialist Workers Party gives unconditional support to the national liberation struggles of the Arab peoples against imperialism, that is, we support all these struggles regardless of their current leaderships. Our foremost task in implementing such support is to educate and mobilize the American people against U. S. imperialist actions in the Mideast.

Israel, created in accordance with the Zionist goal of establishing a Jewish state, could be set up in the Arab East only at the expense of the indigenous peoples of the area. Such a state could come into existence and maintain itself only by relying upon imperialism. Israel is a settler-colonialist and expansionist capitalist state maintained principally by American imperialism, hostile to the surrounding Arab peoples….

The struggle of the Palestinian people against their oppression and for self-determination has taken the form of a struggle to destroy the state of Israel. The currently expressed goal of this struggle is the establishment of a democratic, secular Palestine. We give unconditional support to this struggle of the Palestinians for self-determination….

Our revolutionary socialist opposition to Zionism and the Israeli state has nothing in common with anti-Semitism, as the pro-Zionist propagandists maliciously and falsely assert. Anti-Semitism is anti-Jewish racism used to justify and reinforce oppression of the Jewish people….

Zionism is not, as it claims, a national liberation movement. Zionism is a political movement that developed for the purpose of establishing a settler-colonialist state in Palestine and that rules the bourgeois society headed by the Israeli state today in alliance with world imperialism. [11]

It is immediately apparent that what the SWP says today is the polar opposite of these positions. Contrary to Marxist practice, the SWP has neither acknowledged the reversal nor explained why in its view it is necessary.

Zionism and anti-Zionism

The first indication that the SWP had changed its position on these questions came in an article in the March 2, 2009 issue of The Militant. The article quoted SWP leader Norton Sandler as follows:

“Class-conscious workers should drop the term Zionism,’ in the current context, Sandler added. ‘There is no Zionist movement today. The reality is, it has become an epithet, not a scientific description; a synonym for ‘Jew’ that helps fuel Jew-hatred, which will rise as the capitalist crisis deepens.”[12]

Sandler’s claim that the Zionist movement had vanished from the face of the earth was so at odds with current reality and with the SWP’s previous position that it was challenged by some readers of the paper. Sandler’s reply appeared in the April 13 issue.

I made these remarks at a January 31 public meeting in London. I was not addressing the history of the Zionist movement, or how the state of Israel came into being as an expansionist colonial-settler state. Zionism in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century was a bourgeois political current contending with the communist movement for the allegiance of workers who were Jewish. Israel was established in 1948, more than six decades ago. There is no Zionist movement today and there hasn’t been for a long time.[13]

An end to Israeli expansionism?

In his April 13 article Sandler also expresses the view that the expansion of Israel’s borders is drawing to a close. “The majority of the Israeli ruling class has given up the dream of a ‘Greater Israel.’ They are forced to opt for what they consider the only pragmatic solution — maintaining a majority Jewish state within borders of their own choosing. This is hardly the Zionist movement’s dream of an Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.” (Other articles published between February and June 2009 make the same claim.)

Here Sandler and the SWP merely echo the Israeli rulers who never tire of claiming that their only aim is an Israel with defensible borders living in peace next to a Palestinian state. This has been Tel Aviv’s mantra ever since it occupied Gaza and the West Bank in the 1967 war. Israel’s actions reveal a different plan. Seen from the Palestinian perspective, history since 1967 has been one of unrelenting Israeli expansion onto Palestinian land and continual ethnic cleansing by the Zionist state. Approximately half a million Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank, some nine percent of the Jewish Israeli population. The settlements, the wall, the Jewish-only road network, the draining of the water resources — these and many other features of the occupation are turning the West Bank into a series of isolated and dependent cantons. The settlement enterprise has not halted for a moment, not even during the recent phony temporary “settlement freeze” declared by Netanyahu under pressure from Obama. Meanwhile Israel maintains an iron grip on the Gaza Strip.

“Greater Israel,” Israeli rule from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, has been the reality for more than forty years — that is, for more than two thirds of Israel’s existence. During this period Israel has steadily strengthened its hold on the conquered territories (although the Palestinians have resisted tenaciously and scored some successes along the way).

The reality of “Greater Israel” that Palestinians face every day is documented in countless reports from the United Nations and many other organizations, including Israeli human rights groups. But Zionist propaganda appears to carry more weight with the SWP.

No Israeli apartheid?

Another major article appeared in the April 6, 2009 issue of The Militant. “Israel boycotts and divestment serve as cover for anti-Semitism” was written by Paul Pederson, a member of the paper’s staff. He stated:

There are sweeping differences between the apartheid regime in South Africa and the capitalist regime in Israel—in terms of organization of labor, the character of the regimes, and the historical conditions under which they emerged. The attempt to paint them as the same simply obfuscates the real social and class relations in Israel and the tasks facing the toilers there to chart a revolutionary course forward. Applied to Israel the term “apartheid” is simply an epithet, rather than a scientific description of a social structure.

Perhaps the most glaring difference between the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the fight for Palestinian national rights today is the existence of a revolutionary organization—the ANC under Nelson Mandela—in the case of South Africa.[15]

The first sentence asserts that “there are sweeping differences between” South Africa and Israel. This is an empty platitude. There are also sweeping differences between capitalist rule in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. But there are also fundamental similarities, just as there are in the case of apartheid-era South Africa and Israel.

The second sentence is another platitude, asserting that the false comparison leads to false conclusions.

The third sentence states the SWP’s political position — Israel is not an apartheid state.

This is a straightforward question of fact: is the Israeli system of rule fundamentally similar to the apartheid system in South Africa? Does it meet the common-sense or legal understanding of the term?

Israel was established in 1948 by the massacre and expulsion of most of the native inhabitants, who generations later still cannot return to their homes. It practices systematic discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and structural discrimination against these Palestinians is enshrined in its laws and the entire legal apparatus. In addition, Israel rules over millions of other Palestinians in the occupied territories through a combination of measures that ultimately rest on its military control. These inhabitants are systematically deprived of their land, their water, and other resources to the benefit of Jewish Israelis. The Jewish settlers who live on Palestinian land enjoy full rights of citizenship while Palestinians are denied basic human rights.

This, in a nutshell, is the Israeli system of rule over the Palestinians. It bears a striking similarity to the system of apartheid in South Africa even if it differs in many particulars. (For a more detailed analysis see “Not an analogy: Israel and the crime of apartheid” by Hazem Jamjoum.[16])

In the course of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, large numbers of people around the world came to understand that apartheid is a crime against humanity that must be eradicated wherever it might appear. In 1973 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, which specifies that a regime commits apartheid when it institutionalizes discrimination to create and maintain the domination of one racial group over another. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court also defines apartheid as a crime. This statute came into effect in 2002, long after the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Of course the experts on what is apartheid, and what it is not, live in South Africa. It is no accident that many unions and solidarity organizations in South Africa have endorsed the idea that Israel is an apartheid state.[17]

One of the most thorough and authoritative studies of Israeli apartheid in the occupied territories was published by the South African Human Rights Council in May 2009. The 302-page report by an international panel of experts concluded “that Israel, since 1967, has been the belligerent Occupying Power in the OPT [occupied Palestinian territories], and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid.”[18]

Today’s solidarity activists draw strength from this understanding of the crime of apartheid. They look at Israel in light of the experience gained in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and they are inspired by the victory that was won there. Their explanations of the Israeli apartheid system have been convincing and have helped to build the movement.

Returning to the article cited above, only one element of the argument remains. Israel is not an apartheid state, Pederson states, because the Palestinian leadership is not revolutionary.

It is, to say the least, rather bizarre to assert that the nature of the Palestinian leadership determines the nature of the Israeli state. Nevertheless, the assertion is revealing. It expresses how the SWP has come to condition its support for struggles against imperialism on its view of the leadership of such struggles. This provides a handy excuse for refusing to support them. In 2003 the SWP refused to support the large demonstrations against the war in Iraq. Its Canadian sister organization expelled supporters who argued that Marxists had a duty to defend the Iraqi people against imperialism by taking concrete action against the war. The SWP justified its abstention from the struggle by pointing to the bloody and reactionary record of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Over the last few years the SWP has adopted a similar approach toward the Palestinian struggle.

Suffice it to say that this has more in common with dead-end sectarianism than it does with Marxism. The SWP used to understand this quite well. The 1971 resolution cited earlier begins with these words: “The Socialist Workers Party gives unconditional support to the national liberation struggles of the Arab peoples against imperialism, that is, we support all these struggles regardless of their current leaderships.”

Israel boycott, a growing and dynamic movement

As noted earlier, the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) has made great strides in the past few years. BDS is now one of the most dynamic and fastest growing components of the international movement in solidarity with Palestine.[19]

Israel’s rulers recognize the power and potential of the boycott movement.

On July 14 the Israeli Knesset (parliament) approved the initial reading of a bill designed to punish residents of Israel who promote boycotts of the state or Israeli products. If enacted into law it will allow punitive fines to be levied against such persons. The bill is primarily aimed at Palestinians living in the West Bank and the small but growing number of Israeli citizens, Jewish and Palestinian, who form the “Boycott From Within” movement supporting the international boycott. In a speech to the Knesset Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the Boycott From Within movement as a “national scandal.” Neve Gordon, a professor at Ben Gurion University who endorsed an academic boycott of Israel last year, has received death threats. Gideon Sa’ar, the minister of education, has threatened to punish any lecturer or institution that supports a boycott of Israel.

In February the REUT Institute, one of Israel’s most influential think tanks, published a report in which it warned of a dangerous decline in Israel’s international support. It urged the government to take more effective action against the forces promoting the “delegitimization” of the state of Israel, including the international BDS movement.[20] The institute devoted the June 10 issue of its magazine to a detailed analysis of the movement, noting that:

the damage caused by the BDS Movement lies in its promotion of delegitimization towards Israel through creating the comparison — whether implicit or explicit — between Israel and the former apartheid South African regime. Therefore, BDS should be viewed first and foremost as a tool to brand Israel as a ‘pariah state’ with the ultimate aim of undermining the legitimacy of its political structure.[21]

Although only five years old, the boycott movement has scored some notable successes, winning increasing support in many quarters. National trade union federations in South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Quebec, and elsewhere have endorsed the boycott, as have numerous unions in various countries. On July 22 the annual conference of Unite, the largest union in Britain, with two million members, voted unanimously in favour of a complete boycott of Israeli goods and services. Earlier this year Israeli Apartheid Week, an educational activity promoting BDS, took place on more than 50 campuses worldwide. The number of participating campuses has grown steadily from year to year.

Grass-roots organizing has been particularly effective in Europe, where a divestment campaign forced the French multinational Veolia to withdraw from a major transportation project in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israeli businesses have acknowledged a decline in their sales because European consumers are boycotting Israeli agricultural products.

In the United States and elsewhere, the movement is increasing its pressure on pension funds and university endowments to divest from companies such as Lockheed Martin, ITT, United Technologies, General Electric, Caterpillar and Motorola that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands while helping it carry out its war crimes. On June 2 students at Evergreen State College in Washington state voted by a large majority to demand that the college’s foundation divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and that the college ban the use of Caterpillar equipment on campus. Rachel Corrie, an Evergreen student, was killed by a weaponized Caterpillar bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip in 2003.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has been a particularly vocal supporter of the college divestment campaigns in the United States.

An appeal from Palestine

The BDS movement responds to an appeal for solidarity issued on July 9, 2005 by more than 170 Palestinian organizations, including trade unions, political and social organizations, and women’s and youth groups. The signatories represent the three components of the Palestinian nation — refugees, Palestinians living under in the occupied territories, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The appeal from Palestine said:

We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.

These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194.[22]

The BDS call does not advocate a particular political solution to the conflict. Its approach is to develop a grass-roots mass political campaign in favour of these three basic pillars of human rights for the Palestinian people. This approach serves not only to overcome divisions among the Palestinians, it also stands on the universal principles of human rights that have animated the struggle against racism in South Africa, the United States, and elsewhere.

The movement took another step forward in 2008 with the formation of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, a broadly representative group of Palestinians that serves as the leadership of the international BDS campaign.

The rapid growth of the movement can be attributed to a number of factors: its origin in Palestine; the unity among Palestinians that it expresses; its new, rights-based approach to the struggle; its consistent anti-racism (which includes opposing Islamophobia and anti-Semitism); and the movement’s Palestinian leadership. The movement also offers many opportunities for grass-roots organizing of boycott and divestment campaigns as well as educational activities. As it has grown the movement has acquired experience and developed an increasing number of local leaders. It has also become more diverse, developing targeted academic and cultural boycotts of Israel similar to those used in the struggle against South African apartheid.

Israel boycott, ‘a cover for anti-Semitism’?

These developments have not gone unnoticed at the SWP’s headquarters. The group has taken up the cudgels against the boycott movement, waging a sustained campaign against it in the pages of its newspaper. Leaders of the group have denounced BDS in meetings organized to build the solidarity movement, from Israeli Apartheid Week to the recent U.S. Social Forum.

The SWP’s campaign is fundamentally dishonest. The Militant has not reported any of the basic facts about the boycott movement. The SWP has also chosen to ignore the appeal of Omar Barghouti, a leader of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, who wrote in a recent article that:

“genuine solidarity movements recognize and follow the lead of the oppressed, who are not passive objects but active, rational subjects that are asserting their aspirations and rights as well as their strategy to realize them.”[23]

In the SWP’s eyes BDS is “a cover for anti-Semitism.” The article by Paul Pederson cited previously said this:

In the absence of any revolutionary perspective, campaigns such as the anti-Israel boycott can appear to be a radical substitute. But, as the crisis of capitalism deepens, the “anti-Israel” character of these campaigns is simply a modern form of Jew-hatred. All who genuinely support the battle for Palestinian national rights must oppose it.

Not to be outdone, in his reply to critical readers in the next issue of The Militant Norton Sandler compared advocates of BDS to the Nazis:

In London earlier this year the Marks & Spencer department stores and Starbucks coffee shops were targets of protests over the Israeli assault on Gaza. These businesses are supposedly Jewish-owned. … Jewish businesses were a prime target of the Nazis in Germany after 1933. Why aren’t U.S.-owned businesses targets during protests against Washington’s Iraq and Afghanistan wars?[24]

The SWP’s allegation that the boycott movement is anti-Semitic and akin to Hitler’s targeting of Jews in Germany is beneath contempt. It assumes that readers of The Militant will not try to ascertain the facts for themselves. But facts are more powerful than such slanders, and the facts about the BDS movement are readily available.

(For example, The Militant repeatedly alleges that boycott activities in the United Kingdom target the Marks & Spencer department store chain because the company’s  owners are Jewish. Like virtually everything else the SWP writes about the BDS movement, this is untrue. The Boycott Israeli Goods website lists seven major retailers in the U.K. that sell Israeli products. Each of them has been the target of pro-Palestinian protests in recent years. According to the website, Marks & Spencer has deep historical ties to the state of Israel. Also, “in 1998, Sir Richard Greenbury, then CEO of Marks & Spencer, received the Jubilee Award from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In 2000, the Jerusalem Report stated that ‘M&S supports Israel with $233 million in trade each year.’”[25])

Supporters of the SWP might want to reflect on the fact that the group’s campaign against boycotting Israel places them to the right of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship in the U.S., which recently endorsed boycott, divestment and sanctions, and the Methodist Church of Great Britain, which has called on its followers to boycott all products from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.[26]

A fateful leap toward Zionism

Already well on its way toward the Zionist camp, the SWP took another fateful leap at its national conference this June. The Militant reported that the conference featured a series of classes.

One on ‘World Capitalist Crisis, Israel, and the Roots of Jew Hatred’ took up the need for a multinational, working-class leadership to fight for a democratic, secular Palestine. Communists would fight for Palestine to be a refuge for all Jews facing persecution. Conference participants discussed how the call for a boycott of Israeli products is not a road toward winning self-determination for the Palestinians, but a dangerous concession to anti-Semitism.[27]

This passage does more than repeat the familiar slander against the boycott movement. It introduces a new and far-reaching change in the SWP’s program. Its call for a democratic, secular Palestine now has a distinctly Zionist flavour — Palestine must be a homeland for world Jewry.

This has several major implications.

For one thing, what is it about Palestine that makes it the proper destination for Jews who may feel the need to emigrate? Why not the United States, Canada, or Australia, much larger and wealthier countries? Religious Zionists believe that Palestine is the Holy Land and that God has granted the Jews the right to settle there. Secular Zionists advance other reasons. Both agree that the Palestinians must not obstruct Jewish immigration and colonisation. But what is the SWP’s reason for selecting Palestine for new waves of Jewish settlement?

Furthermore, the SWP appears to give little weight to the possibility that “Jews facing persecution” at some point in the future might choose to defend their rights in the countries where they reside, struggling alongside the oppressed and exploited of those countries. It is Zionism, not Marxism, that insists on the need for a sanctuary for Jews in Israel/Palestine.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, the SWP’s vision for Palestine fails to mention the Palestinian refugees, victims of Israel’s wars. Many of them live in dismal refugee camps near Israel’s borders. According to Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees. One in three refugees in the world is Palestinian.[28] Any settlement that deprives them of their right to return home, to receive redress for their dispossession and to live as full citizens in the land of their choice is an unjust settlement that will not endure.[29]

While barring all Palestinian refugees, Israel accords automatic citizenship to immigrants who are Jewish. The SWP appears to want to maintain this arrangement in some form in the new state that they envisage. Whatever else one might say about it, this state would be neither democratic nor secular.

Although a logical extension of the positions first developed in early 2009, the SWP’s discovery of Palestine as a homeland for the Jews and its silence on the Palestinians’ right of return marks a fateful leap toward Zionism.

Bending to imperialist pressure

The SWP’s embrace of Zionist arguments against the Palestinian struggle are the clearest and most extreme examples of the group’s steady rightward evolution. Unfortunately they are not an isolated case. A few other examples show the pattern.

For a number of years following the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the SWP refused to support the anti-war movement. It wrote article after article criticizing what it called the “middle class radicals” leading the movement while itself doing virtually nothing to oppose the war and occupation. It also repeatedly condemned acts of resistance by Iraqi fighters to the occupation of their country.

More recently the SWP refused to support the Honduran people in their struggle for democracy.

In June 2009 the Honduran army staged a coup d’état, overthrowing the elected government. President Manuel Zelaya had angered business leaders by raising the minimum wage. He had also alarmed Washington by joining the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Latin America (ALBA), an alliance initiated by Venezuela and Cuba that conducts mutually favourable trade between Latin American countries, thereby weakening the U.S. grip on the continent. In Honduras workers, peasants, aboriginal people and other toilers mobilized in large numbers against the coup, which they understood was a blatant attack on their democratic rights. Their struggle continued for months, while Cuba, Venezuela, and much of Latin America did all they could to restore constitutional rule in Honduras. The Honduran masses resisted valiantly but ultimately were defeated by the combined power of Washington, the Honduran army and the local oligarchy.

The SWP urged its followers to remain aloof from the struggle against the coup, which it characterized as “part of (the) infighting between wings of the capitalist class.” The July 20 issue of The Militant also falsely asserted that constitutional procedures had been followed after the army “arrested” the president.[30] An editorial in the next issue declared that “the interests of Honduran workers and farmers do not lie in whether Zelaya returns to the presidency.” It warned against “the false claim by middle-class radicals that Zelaya’s ouster was a ‘right-wing’ coup ‘made in USA.’” The editorial also attacked ALBA.[31]

In August 2008 Georgia provoked a war with Russia, attempting to reclaim territories then under Russian protection. Georgia was an ally of the U.S., which had provided it with $277 million in military aid since 1997. It had troops in Iraq serving under U.S. command. Soon after the war with Russia broke out, the U.S. sent additional supplies to Georgia. It also mobilized international public opinion against Russia. The Militant’s coverage echoed the imperialist propaganda. “Russian troops out of Georgia!” was the title of an editorial in the September 1, 2008 issue, which characterized the fighting as a Russian invasion and occupation.[32]

In September 2005 a Danish newspaper published blatantly anti-Islamic caricatures, provoking massive protests by Muslims in many countries. The SWP turned its back on their cry for dignity and equality and their outrage against the xenophobic intent of the cartoons’ publishers. The Militant joined in the reactionary uproar against the demonstrations, smearing them as “often violent protests.”[33] The SWP refused to recognize that the protests embodied the fight against both national oppression and imperialism.

This is a pattern of repeatedly bending to imperialist pressure in times of crisis. It is a disgraceful course of conduct for a group that calls itself socialist, particularly one located in the United States, the heartland of imperialism.


[7]; and


[9] This position was first expressed in June 2010.

[10] A Zionist blogger welcomed the SWP’s support. “Communists Against Boycotting Israel,”

[11] Also available as a pamphlet by Gus Horowitz, Israel and the Arab Revolution, from and



[14] Estimates vary widely. This estimate is provided by the U.S.-based Center for Defense Information,



[17] See, for example, the statement by the South African Municipal Workers’ Union quoted earlier in this article. Many other examples could be cited.

[18] “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law”, Executive Summary, p. 5. Links to Executive Summary and full report at

[19] For more information on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, see “BDS: A Global Movement for Freedom & Justice” by Omar Barghouti and “Pro-Israel Lobby Alarmed by Growth of Boycott, Divestment Movement” by Art Young

[20] “The Delegitimization Challenge: Creating a Political Firewall”

[21] “The BDS Movement Promotes Delegitimization of the State of Israel”,

[22] “Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel,”

[23] Barghouti

[24] Emphasis added.


[26] and

[27] Emphasis added.


[29] The July 26, 2010 issue of The Militant published an excerpt from a report by the SWP’s central leader, Jack Barnes, in which he states that a new, revolutionary leadership in Palestine will be built around struggles on many fronts. Barnes provides a list of such progressive causes. He does not include the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.




[33] “Socialists Must Oppose Anti-Muslim Bigotry” by Sandra Browne and Robert Johnson.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

‘Major George’ Accused of Running Israel’s Abu Ghraib

By Jonathan Cook – Jerusalem | August 8, 2010

A police officer known as ‘Major George’ who is accused of torturing Arab prisoners in his previous role as chief interrogator in a secret military jail has been appointed to oversee relations with Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, it has emerged.

The decision has been greeted with stunned disbelief from human rights groups, who say unresolved allegations against Major George that he brutally abused Arab prisoners for many years should disqualify him from such a sensitive post.

Relations between the Israeli police and the 250,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been on a knife edge for many months, as extremist Jewish groups — backed by the municipality — have increased their settlement drive in traditional Palestinian neighbourhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (Acri), Israel’s largest legal rights group, revealed last week that it had made a formal complaint in February about Major George, whose real name is Doron Zahavi.

Acri said he had threatened to demolish the home of a Palestinian community activist in Silwan for leading protests against a settler takeover of Palestinian homes in the area. During what police described as a “getting to know each other session”, pressure was also put on Jawad Siyam to become an informant.

Zahavi, however, first earnt notoriety in Unit 504, a special wing of military intelligence, that oversaw the interrogation of foreign Arab nationals held in the secret prison, known as Facility 1391. Israel claims to have closed the jail following its exposure in 2003.

A Lebanese militia leader, Mustafa Dirani, who was held in Facility 1391 for many years, alleged in an Israeli court in 2004 that Zahavi repeatedly tortured him, including by sodomising him with a baton.

The civil suit for $1.5 million damages was never settled because Israel released Dirani in a prisoner swap before the court had issued a ruling. The judge has denied Zahavi’s subsequent requests to close the case.

Although Zahavi has denied the main charges, he has admitted interrogating prisoners while they were naked and that he ordered one of his officers to undress in Dirani’s cell and threaten to sexually assault him.

Several of Unit 504’s interrogators later corroborated Dirani’s claims, revealing that they routinely used the torture techniques he had described.

The case has attracted comparisons with Abu Ghraib, the prison in Iraq where US soldiers sexually abused Iraqi inmates.

Dalia Kerstein, director of Hamoked, an Israeli human rights group that helped to expose Facility 1391, called Zahavi’s appointment “appalling”.

She said the security services had a history of appointing officials who acted violently towards Palestinians to sensitive posts. The authorities’ logic, she said, appeared to be that “these people know how to deal with the Arabs because they can speak the language of violence”.

Zahavi’s new role as adviser on Arab affairs to Jerusalem’s police chief, Aharon Franco, is one of the key roles in the Jersualem force. Zahavi is supposed to act as the main channel between Palestinian residents and the police.

According to the job description, the adviser “must be an accepted and welcome figure in the Arab community, with excellent interpersonal skills.”

Melanie Takefman, a spokeswoman for Acri, said it was hard to see how Zahavi could fill such a post. “The problem in Jerusalem is that the police relate almost exclusively to the Palestinians as suspects and do not enforce the law equitably.”

Zahavi’s job in Facillity 1391 was to extract information from important Arab prisoners.

Dirani — a senior figure in Amal, a now-defunct Lebanese militia, who was seized by Israeli commandos in 1994 — was assumed to know the location of a missing airman, Ron Arad, whose plane went down over Lebanon eight years earlier.

Dirani claimed he was left naked for his first month in detention and was sexually abused repeatedly by his interrogators.

When Dirani appeared in court in 2004, he entered walking with great difficulty and aided by a cane. He told the judge of his experience of torture: “I prayed that I’d die.”

An unnamed interrogator who worked under Zahavi told the Israeli media: “I remember one instance that I still feel until today, which makes me shudder, in which a baton was used — not for hitting. Even in the field, George did what he wanted, in front of my eyes and the eyes of everyone else.”

After Zahavi was dismissed from military intelligence, he joined the immigration police and later moved into police intelligence. He is reported to have taken up his new post in the past two months.

The recent meeting with Siyam suggests that he is likely to bring an uncompromising approach to his role as a liaison with Jerusalem’s Palestinians.

Siyam said Zahavi spent most of their meeting shouting at him, and warning that a demolition order would be drawn up for Siyam’s house if he continued his political activities. Zahavi also threatened to get him fired from his job.

Although Israel claims to have closed Facility 1391, there are suspicions it and possibly other secret prisons are still in operation. In May last year the United Nations Committee Against Torture called for the location of 1391 to be identified and the prison inspected.

Zahavi is only the latest example of a security official accused of violent crimes against Palestinians later being placed in a sensitive post.

Gavriel Dahan: A lieutenant in the border police, Dahan was found guilty of carrying out a “manifestly illegal” order to shoot dead Israeli-Palestinian citizens arriving at an improvised checkpoint in 1956. In total, 47 civilians were killed at Kafr Qassem. Dahan was later appointed adviser on Arab affairs in the mixed city of Ramle.

Ehud Yatom: In the infamous Bus 300 affair in 1984, Yatom admitted using a rock to smash the skulls of two bound Palestinian teenagers who had hijacked a bus full of Israelis. Yatom was later pardoned. In 2001 prime minister Ariel Sharon appointed him his counter-terrorism adviser, though the supreme court ruled him unfit for the post. He was elected to the parliament in 2003.

Benzi Sau: A state commission of inquiry harshly criticised Sau, northern commander of the border police, for his role in the fatal shootings of 13 unarmed Palestinian citizens in 2000. The panel recommended he be denied promotion for four years. In that time he was promoted twice, eventually becoming head of the national border police.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on ‘Major George’ Accused of Running Israel’s Abu Ghraib

Media gag in occupied Kashmir

By Khalid Awan | The News | August 08, 2010

In Occupied Kashmir, working on a two-pronged strategy, India has been trying to suppress the freedom movement by unleashing death and destruction and at the same time making every effort to hide the truth from the world.

For the latter, it has been muzzling the right to expression and freedom of the press by subjecting the media to stringent curbs. Presently, there is a new surge in the uprising and the Kashmiri people are coming to the streets, thousands in number, to demand their right to self determination. Forceful demonstrations all across the occupied territory have become a routine. The occupation authorities are responding by resorting to brute force, randomly killing the innocent people.

Over 18 youth, most of them teenagers have been killed by Indian troops during the last five weeks while firing on peaceful demonstrations. The All Parties Hurriyet Conference Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has been confined to his residence in Srinagar by placing him under house arrest.

The octogenarian leader, Syed Ali Gilani, senior pro-movement leader Shabbir Ahmad Shah, President High Court Bar Association (HCBA) Mian Abdul Qayoom and almost all other Hurriyet leaders have been sent to jails, booking them under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA). Curfew and other restrictions are in place to prevent people from holding demonstrations.

To keep the international community blind to all these happenings, the occupation authorities have imposed more curbs on the media and are engaged in terrorising the Kashmiri journalists. On many occasions, they were fired upon, subjected to humiliation, thrashing and beating besides prevented from covering events. After the imposition of curfew in the occupied territory, the authorities banned the movement of media-persons and cancelled all the curfew passes issued to them.

At least, 12 media persons were critically injured, including President of Kashmir Photojournalists Association, Tauseef Mustafa, when Indian paramilitary forces and police attacked them with batons at Tengpora-bypass in Srinagar on the morning of 6th July 2010. The incident took place when the media persons were covering protests that had erupted after the killing of two youth by the police in the area. While giving details of the incident, Bilal Bhadur, a photojournalist of Times of India said: “We were taking picture of the dead bodies, when suddenly seven of us were surrounded by CRPF and police personnel and we were beaten up mercilessly.”

The restrictions on the movement of media persons resulted in the non-publication of newspapers in the Valley, the total number of which is around 60, both in Urdu and English languages. Jammu and Kashmir remained a territory without newspapers for four days.

Amidst all this state of muzzling of the media, the authorities banned the beaming of Pakistani channels and the cable operators were directed to block PTV, Geo TV, Dawn News and others, instituting a total blackout of information. Banning of Pakistani channels, which are widely viewed in IOK, was a shameful attempt by the Indian authorities to give an impression to the world community that Pakistan is instigating the local youth to come on the streets. It speaks of the Indian negative mindset to level the blame on Pakistan for its every wrongdoing as ever before.

Since 1989, it has become commonplace that Kashmiri journalists are being beaten up and injured by Indian troops and are subjected to abductions, murder attempts and death threats.

They are also being detained on fake charges and subjected to humiliating interrogation. Nine Kashmiri journalists have so far been killed in the occupied territory while carrying out their professional duties eversince the freedom struggle has started off.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Media gag in occupied Kashmir

“Jesus hates Muslims”

Extremists Demonstrate Outside Mosque in CT, USA

Al Manar | August 8, 2010

About a dozen right-wing Christians demonstrated Friday outside a Fairfield Avenue mosque in Connecticut shouting anti Muslims slogans and yelling “Islam is a lie.”

“Jesus hates Muslims,” they screamed at worshippers arriving at the Masjid An-Noor mosque to prepare for the holy fasting month of Ramadan which begins next week. One extremist shoved a placard at a group of young children leaving the mosque after prayers and called them “murderers.”

Mustafa Salahuddin, an Ansonia police officer and parishioner at the mosque, calmly watched the protesters from the mosque’s parking area.

“This is unfortunate, but it’s a free country,” he commented on the protest. “But I believe Jesus would have been appalled by this. We revere Jesus the same way they do.”

Flip Benham, of Dallas, Texas, organizer of the protest, was yelling at the worshipers with a bullhorn. “This is a war in America and we are taking it to the mosques around the country,” he said.

Police arrived on the scene to separate the groups, but said no arrests were made.

The demonstrators threatened to take their protests to every mosque in the US and kept on shouting and screaming all through Friday prayers.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Islamophobia | 5 Comments

Official: Israel lowers water supply to Nablus villages

Ma’an – 08/08/2010

NABLUS: A Nablus village’s local council has accused Israeli authorities of cutting several villages’ water supplies by 50 percent, as the global heatwave continues.

Rujeib council head Ahmad Dweikat said the water pumped to his village had been lowered from 5,000 cubic meters to 2,500 cubic meters without prior notice three weeks ago. The nearby villages of Azmut, Salim, and Deir Al-Hatab have undergone the same reduction, he said.

The four villages have a combined population of 16,000 and several homes on hilltops have not had a supply of water for three weeks. As a result, residents are purchasing water from delivery tanks that cost up to 300 shekels ($95) for 10 cubic meters.

A spokesman for Israel’s Civil Administration said the same amount of water was being pumped to the Rujeib

Residents filed a complaint three weeks ago and again on Wednesday that the water supply was not reaching them, he said.

A representative from Israel’s Mekorot water company was sent out and determined the water was being illegally diverted, he added.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment