commentary News

15-Year-Old Palestinian Girl Denied Visa for US Speaking Tour

[ Ed. note – Ahed Tamimi is the blond-haired Palestinian girl who has been seen in countless videos and who always seems to stand out–not only because of her striking looks and young age, but also because of her persistent determination in resisting the Israeli occupation. That’s her in the photo above–taken, I think, about five or six years ago.

Tamimi was slated to be part of the No Child Behind Bars/Living Resistance speaking tour that is to tour the US beginning on January 15, 2017, but according to an email sent out yesterday by the Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), she has been denied a visa to enter the country. I guess the thinking at the State Department is that anyone who bunches their fist and shakes it in the face of an Israeli soldier must be a terrorist.

Of course it isn’t difficult in the least to figure out why the Israeli government would prefer not to have someone like Ahed–described by FOSNA as “charismatic and articulate”–going from city to city in America discussing the brutal injustices she and others her age are subjected to on continuing daily basis. It would take a fair bit of mainstream media bellowing about “Hamas rockets” to offset the public relations disaster.

But the tour, it seems, will proceed anyway, and even though Ahed will not be here physically, plans nonetheless are being made to link her to US audiences via live-stream video. Of course the girl is subject to arrest any time–or alternately Jewish settlers could just happen to attack her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh before the video teleconferencing is set to begin. You never know how these things are going to work out. About all I can do is say a prayer for Ahed and her family, and I encourage others to pause now and do likewise.

The email from FOSNA:

Living Resistance Tour Update

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that we share that the U.S. Consulate has failed to provide a visa for Ahed Tamimi to travel to the United States at this time. Though we will continue to advocate for Ahed to gain access to the United States for future speaking opportunities, it does not at present look as though Ahed will be able to join us in person for the Living Resistance Tour.

Efforts to silence voices such as Ahed’s only serve to motivate us at FOSNA to amplify Palestinian struggle and resilience.…

Continue Reading
commentary

New Attack on BDS: ‘Anti-Semitism Awareness Act’ Passes Senate Unanimously

By Richard Edmondson

The latest assault on BDS and the Palestine solidarity movement seems to have arrived in the form of S.10, known as the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016,” a bill that was introduced into–and adopted by–the US Senate all in one day and without discussion, on December 1.

You can track the bill here. It’s aim is to provide a “definition of anti-Semitism” for purpose of enforcing anti-discrimination in education programs and activities. Basically it seeks to codify, or put into law, a definition of anti-Semitism that was put forth by the State Department in 2010, one which cites efforts to “delegitimize” Israel as an example of “contemporary” anti-Semitism.

The definition was coined by the State Department’s “Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism”–yes, there really is such an office within the State Department, the head of which is given the royal title, no less, of “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism” or SEAS.

The current SEAS is Ira Forman, former Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council. The SEAS in power in 2010, when the “Defining Anti-Semitism” paper was published, was Hannah Rosenthal. You can go here to see the full definition, although I am also reproducing it below.

The bill has been pushed by the Anti-Defamation League. Specifically it seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with special focus on the the Act’s Title VI, described in the text of S.10 as “one of the principle antidiscrimination (sic) statutes enforced by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.”

Under the bill, any attempts to “demonize Israel,” which could include “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” would be defined as anti-Semitism. Universities which tolerate speech of this type on campus would be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and presumably could be denied federal funding.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC

Well, if you’re going to attempt to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, who better to lead the charge for you than an African-American member of Congress? S.10 was introduced by Sen. Tim Scott, one of only two African-American Republicans in the Senate.

Another backer of the bill is Sen. Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, who is listed as a co-sponsor. Both Scott and Casey are cited in an ADL press release put out on December 2 hailing the Senate’s passage of the measure.

“ADL played a central role in working with U.S.…

Continue Reading
News

California Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill into Law

[ Ed. note – Hardly a surprise.]

Times of Israel

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that prevents companies that boycott or discriminate against any sovereign country, including Israel, from doing business with the state.

Brown signed Assembly Bill 2844 on Saturday afternoon. The State Senate approved the bill by a vote of 34 to 1 on August 24, and the State Assembly passed it by 69 to 1 on August 30.

An earlier version of the legislation banned the state from making contracts worth over $100,000 with companies boycotting Israel. In order to satisfy critics, who said it violated the constitutional right to boycott, the bill was modified to include reference to other countries as well.

The approved version does not prohibit companies working with the state from boycotting Israel. Rather, companies have to certify that they do not violate California civil rights laws in boycotting a foreign country – including Israel, the only country mentioned by name – according to The Jewish Journal.

“We commend Governor Brown for signing this bill,” said Janna Weinstein Smith, American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles Regional Director, in a statement. “The bill sends the clear and unmistakable message that the state of California wants no part of the goals and tactics of the BDS movement. Thanks to this legislation, those who wish to target Jews and Israelis for discrimination will not be doing business with the state of California.”

The Israeli-American Coalition for Action in a statement also praised the legislation, and praised the leadership of Assembly member Richard Bloom, who introduced the original bill; the California Legislative Jewish Caucus; and Assembly member Travis Allen, in passing the bill.…

Continue Reading
News

Heroic Swedish Foreign Minister Again Speaks the Truth About Israel

[Ed. note – Less than a month after the last tide of Zionist outrage unleashed against Margot Wallström, the Swedish Foreign Minister  is once again coming under fire for critical comments about Israel. Obstinate gal. Clearly she didn’t learn her lesson. ]

Press TV

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the Swedish foreign minister, who had accused Israeli forces of conducting extrajudicial executions of Palestinians during the recent wave of violence in the occupied territories.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told lawmakers on Friday that Israeli soldiers use excessive force during clashes with Palestinians, citing the higher number of Palestinian casualties compared to those of Israel.

“Israel’s response involved extrajudicial executions, and was disproportionate, so the number of the dead on the other side is greater than the original death toll by several factors,” Wallstrom said.

On Sunday, Netanyahu condemned the comments as “scandalous” during a cabinet meeting and even warned of a rupture in Tel Aviv’s diplomatic relations with Sweden.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also said on Saturday that a “sharp response” would be given to Wallstrom’s remarks.

“Sweden has crossed all red lines in relations with Israel. This is defamation of Israel and the statements are distancing Sweden from the ranks of enlightened nations that can take part in the dialogue about rights in the region,” Hotovely said.

Netanyahu also criticized Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat for expressing his condolence to the family of a Palestinian man who shot and wounded two Israeli settlers in al-Quds (Jerusalem). The Palestinian was killed by Israeli forces at the scene.

Netanyahu said Erekat not only did not condemn the attack but also sympathized with the family of the attacker.

Tensions between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue unabated. The wave of unrest was triggered by Israel’s imposition in August of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.

At least 115 Palestinians and nearly 20 Israelis have been killed in the recent wave of clashes between Palestinians and Israelis since the start of October.

Continue Reading
Uncategorized

Swedish Ambassador to Israel Summoned and Browbeaten Over Comment By Country’s Foreign Minister

[Ed. note – It is an all too familiar scenario: a high-ranking official in some country or other makes a comment mildly critical of Israel; the Jewish state goes ballistic in response; at which point the government in question scrambles and backtracks trying to correct the “mistaken impression.” It is amazing to me how terrified the governments of the world are of Israel. A sign, surely, of how thoroughly out of balance the world has become. ]

Jerusalem Post

Israel on Monday condemned as “shockingly hostile” comments by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that seemed to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the ISISbacked terrorist attacks in Paris.

After the Paris attacks, Wallstrom was asked the following question on Swedish television.

“How worried are you about the radicalization of young people in Sweden who are fighting for ISIS?” According to the translation provided by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Wallstrom answered: “Obviously, we have reason to be worried, not just in Sweden but across the world, because there are so many that are being radicalized. Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there isn’t a future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

The Swedish Foreign Ministry issued a clarification in which it denied that Wallstrom had made a connection between the two.

“In the interview referred to, no implication or reference was made that implied that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had any relevance for the tragic events in Paris. We condemn all acts of terror. We must now unite as democracies to fight for our common values in these challenging times.”

But the Foreign Ministry on Monday said it felt Wallstrom’s comments did indeed make that link and summoned Sweden’s Ambassador to Israel Carl Magnus Nesser to speak with ministry director-general Dore Gold.

The two men spoke for close to half an hour, Gold expressing Israel’s displeasure at Sweden’s general policy when it comes to Israel.

Sweden is one of the countries that is leading the call to place consumer labels on settlement products, Gold said, calling it a discriminatory measure that singles out Israel.

It doesn’t advance the peace process and it harms those Palestinians employed in Israeli factories over the Green Line, Gold said.

Now, he added, Wallstrom has made comments that could be interpreted as a justification for Palestinian terrorism.

“Those who engage in hopeless attempts to link the terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists with the difficulties between Israelis and Palestinians are misleading themselves as well as the public opinion of their country and the international community,” the Foreign Ministry said, calling Wallstrom’s words “brazen” and “shocking.”

“The Swedish Minister is systematically biased and one-sided against Israel,” the ministry said, adding that this latest statement was outrightly “hostile.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Europe’s belief that Israel is the source of all the troubles in the world shows it has learned nothing over the years.…

Continue Reading
commentary News

Palestinian Woman Kicked in Head as Jewish Mob Debates Whether to Kill Her

Whatever else the Palestinian intifada may be accomplishing, it does seem to be driving average Israelis into a frenzy, apparently even triggering hallucinations in their heads in some cases. In the above video we see a young Palestinian woman being held to the ground while a mob debates whether or not to kill her. “Why are you playing around? They are coming to murder our children!” one of them screams at one point–while at another the young girl is kicked in the head. The incident apparently took place on October 12. Today it was reported that the young woman did not have a knife after all. The whole thing was for nothing. This of course comes just a day after Israeli forces shot to death an unarmed Eritrean man in the mistaken belief that he was a Palestinian.

Continue Reading
commentary

Have Pillaged Iraqi Artifacts Ended Up in a Museum in Israel?

By Richard Edmondson

With ISIS carrying out rampages through archaeologically sensitive areas of Iraq, a pertinent question to ask now is what group’s cultural heritage in the Middle East is being preserved, and whose is being destroyed.

Over the past couple of weeks shocking reports have surfaced concerning mass destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage at two locations–the museum in Mosul and the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, located in northern Iraq. Both incidents were perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State. The one at the Mosul museum was recorded on video.

But destruction with sledge hammers, bonfires, and heavy equipment isn’t the only threat to priceless objects thousands of years old. Artifacts are also being illegally excavated and  pilfered on a massive scale. An enormous black market in stolen antiquities in fact has arisen in the last four years since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, and the general rule of thumb seems to be if it’s small enough to be carted off, take it and sell it on the black market; if it’s too large to move, then smash it to pieces. This is what we’ve seen repeatedly in Syria and Iraq since ISIS took over large swaths of both countries.

By the way, the trade in looted antiquities seems to be quite lucrative, with some of these items fetching in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, while the total black market trade has been estimated at roughly $7 billion per year.

This is not just Iraq’s cultural heritage that is at stake, of course; it’s all of humanity’s. If we think of human history collectively as a lepidopteron, drifting lazily from the flower of the Neolithic past, into the age of proto-writing, and finally early recorded history, then Syria, Iraq and the Fertile Crescent stand out perhaps unique among regions of the earth. This is where human civilization got started, and the looting and destruction of these antiquities is a loss to all of us.

Interestingly, an exhibition entitled “By the Rivers of Babylon” has now opened at a museum in Israel, and among its exhibits are a large number of ancient Babylonian cuneiform tablets–110 of them altogether. These tablets belong to a London-based Israeli collector by the name of David Sofer, but a controversy has sprung up, since there seems to be some question about the provenance, or origin, of the artifacts.

The tablets are said to be some 2,500 years old and reportedly shed light on the biblical Israelites during their exile in Babylon (in what is, of course, today Iraq).…

Continue Reading
Analysis

Christian Evangelicals Increasingly Support Palestinian Human Rights

By Alison Weir

An article in Middle East Quarterly, a pro-Israel publication, reports that support for Israel is eroding among American evangelical Christians, with only 30 percent currently stating support for Israel above Palestinians.

This trend is even more pronounced among youth, according to an article by David Brog, Jewish-American executive director of “Christians United For Israel (CUFI), a major pro-Israel organization. Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has called CUFI “a vital part of Israel’s national security” and columnist Charles Kauthammer has said, “I do not know of an organization in the world more important to Israel than CUFI.”

Brog’s article, “The End of Evangelical Support for Israel?” is largely pitched as a wake-up call to Israel partisans who, according to Brog, “must take this threat seriously.”

Continue Reading
commentary

Israel Losing Support From Its Biggest Ally: US Evangelical Christians

A Shift Among Evangelicals … Especially Among the Young

We documented yesterday that the biggest supporters of Israel are American evangelical Christians … Protestants or – to a lesser extent – Catholics.

But that support base is slipping …

Buzzfeed reported in January:

Figures with deep roots in America’s religious right have launched a quiet effort aimed at pushing evangelical Christians away from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased solidarity with the Palestinians.

***

The campaign by a coalition of religious leaders, international nonprofits, and activists has taken place in recent years largely behind the scenes and away from the prying eyes of the political press — and it’s being driven by a generation of Evangelicals alienated by the way their faith was yoked to Republican foreign policy during the Bush years. Now, organizations like the Telos Group and the large Christian nonprofit World Vision have joined a small army of ministers and Christian opinion-makers working to reorient Evangelicals’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — producing documentaries about the plight of Palestinian Christians, providing theological rationale for a more “balanced” view of the issue, and taking Evangelicals on trips to the Middle East.

***

The campaign has alarmed America’s most committed Christian supporters of Israel, who acknowledge their rivals’ message is gaining momentum within the church.

The Forward noted in March (via Haaretz):

Support for Israel is weakening among evangelical Christians, prompting a new struggle for the hearts and minds of younger members of America’s largest pro-Israel demographic group.

***

Evangelical leaders on both sides of the divide on Israel agree that members of the millennial generation do not share their parents’ passion for the Jewish state; many are seeking some form of evenhandedness when approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“What is happening is that the hard line of Christian Zionists was not successfully passed forward to the next generation, because it was based on theological themes that are now being questioned by younger evangelicals,” said David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University in Atlanta.

The grip of Christian Zionists over young evangelicals has been loosening for several years, according to observers within the community. But in recent weeks, the leading evangelical pro-Israel organization, Christians United for Israel, has set off alarm bells in articles and interviews decrying the inroads made by pro-Palestinian activists into the evangelical community.

Continue Reading
commentary

Now It Is Official: Israeli Campaign to Control Wikipedia Content

Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales with Shimon Peres

Wikimedia has struck a deal with Israeli officials to promote students’ multi-lingual writing and re-writing of history, geography and science topics in Wikipedia. Unwitting readers of Wikipedia likely take accounts of Middle Eastern history at face value, not realising the extent of manipulation occurring behind the seemingly authoritative guise of an encyclopaedia.  From word choice, to basic information given or omitted, to biased sources cited, Wikipedia is devolving into a completely untrustworthy source.

Of course there has been an Annual Wikipedia Academy Conference since 2009, where Israelis receive Wikipedia training and encouragement.  And of course groups such as CAMERA, a pro-Zionist Israel public relations organisation, have been actively editing Wikipedia since at least 2008.  And of course Israel has been actively funding hasbara on the internet for years and isn’t shy about its “digital diplomacy.” There’s even a “Jewish Internet Defense League” that claims to be the “cutting edge of pro-Israel digital online advocacy.”  After all, the professed need for incessant national promotion campaigns fits into the “we are the ones under attack” theme.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has twice participated in the Israeli Presidential Conference.  As he said at the 2011 Wikimania conference held in Haifa, “I love coming to Israel.”  But it is Wales’ exchange with a Lebanese blogger that strongly calls into question Wikipedia’s public goal of offering a credible, neutral “sum of all human knowledge.”  When the blogger asked Wales about his participation in the 2011 Israeli Presidential Conference, Wales snubbed the inquiry outright.  Wales responded with trite, vacuous remarks in defence of Israel and then refused to communicate further.  (An unripened e-conversation that amused several pro-Zionists.)

Surely Wikipedia management is aware that Israel is one of the most controversial topics in Wikipedia.  One academic study determined that the “Israel” page was rivalled only by the “Adolf Hitler” page as being the most highly contested page contained in all of the study’s three language sets.  (See image above.) From a researcher’s point of view, then, it is illogical to encourage additional bias in the most contentious topic.  Yet that is precisely what Jimmy Wales has done and what this newly announced partnership does.

It can be very valuable to research Israeli sources—from newspapers to government agencies.  But we should assess these sources with the knowledge that the information provided is filtered by an Israeli perspective, most likely Zionist.  We should balance those sources with a variety of views from numerous perspectives. …

Continue Reading