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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Palestine before 1948 - video

Friday, 10 October 2014

Israel’s blood diamonds

Israel’s blood diamonds

29 March 2010
Every year, consumers the world over unwittingly spend billions of dollars on diamonds crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund one of the world’s most protracted and contentious conflicts. Most people are unaware that Israel is one of the world’s leading producers of cut and polished diamonds. As diamonds are normally not hallmarked, consumers cannot distinguish an Israeli diamond from one crafted in India, Belgium, South Africa or elsewhere. The global diamond industry and aligned governments, including the EU, have hoodwinked consumers into believing the diamond trade has been cleansed of diamonds that fund human rights abuses, but the facts are startlingly different.
Israel — which stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the crime of apartheid, extrajudicial executions within and outside the territory it controls and persistent serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions — is the world’s leading exporter of diamonds (see Figure 1 below). Israeli companies import rough diamonds for cutting and polishing, adding significantly to their value, and export them globally via distribution hubs in Antwerp, London, Hong Kong, New York and Mumbai.

In July 2000, the global diamond industry set up the World Diamond Council (WDC). The WDC was established as a response to public outrage about the use of diamonds to fund bloody conflicts in western African countries and it includes representatives from the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. The council’s ultimate mandate is “the development, implementation and oversight of a tracking system for the export and import of rough diamonds to prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts.” Significantly, the WDC limits its concern about human rights violations to those funded by rough diamonds only. In 2003, the WDC introduced a system of self-regulation called the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to stem the flow of “conflict” or “blood diamonds.” In keeping with the limited concerns of the WDC the UN-mandated Kimberly Process adopted a very narrow definition of what constitutes a conflict or blood diamond: “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.” As a result of this tight ring-fencing, the much more lucrative trade in cut and polished diamonds avoids the human rights strictures applying to rough diamonds, provided the industry uses only Kimberly Process-compliant rough diamonds. Regardless of the human rights violations and atrocities funded by revenue from the Israeli diamond industry, governments and other vested interests party to the Kimberly Process facilitate the unrestricted access of diamonds crafted in Israel to the multi-billion dollar global diamond market.
The WDC created a web site called to promote the virtues of the industry. It lists 24 facts extolling the benefits of the diamond industry — primarily to India and countries in Africa. Some of the benefits include that an estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds; diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13; the revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
While these facts are laudable the list makes no mention of other less savory facts, including the fact that revenue from the diamond industry in Israel helps fund atrocities and human rights abuses such as the killing, maiming and terrorizing of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Palestine and Lebanon — the sort of atrocities the Kimberly Process is supposed to prevent being funded by revenue from diamonds.
The list of “Diamond Facts” paints a one-sided, positive image of the industry. It implies that the greatest benefits are being felt in some of the poorest nations of the world. But Israel, one of the wealthiest nations, towers over all other countries in terms of the net benefit derived from the diamond industry. The added value to the Israeli economy from the export of diamonds was nearly $10 billion in 2008 (see Figure 2 below).

The WDC website is equally selective when it comes to providing information about which countries are most dependent on diamonds. It explains that Namibia, one of the minor diamond exporting countries in monetary terms, derives 40 percent (Trade Performance HS: Exports of Israel” accessed 25 March 2010) (See Figures 3 and 4). By comparison, the budget for Israel’s Ministry of Defense was $16 billion in 2008.

Revenue from the diamond industry helps fund Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, its brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people and its international network of saboteurs, spies and assassins. None of this is alluded to in the WDC’s “Diamond Facts.” Contrary to claims by the diamond industry and jewelers that all diamonds are now conflict free, they are not. Israel’s dominant position in the industry means that diamonds crafted in Israel are interspersed globally with diamonds crafted in other countries. Consumers who purchase diamonds that are not laser-inscribed to identify where they were crafted run a significant risk of purchasing a diamond crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund gross human rights violations. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme strictures only apply to rough diamonds, thus allowing diamonds crafted in Israel to freely enter the market regardless of the criminal actions of the Israeli government and armed forces. The Kimberly Process is seriously flawed and is being used by the diamond industry and jewelers to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes by telling them that all diamonds are now “conflict free” without explaining the limitations and exactly what that means.
All this is hardly surprising given Israel’s dominant position in the diamond industry. Israel currently chairs the Kimberly Process. The notion of self-regulation by any industry that is intrinsically linked to the violations it purports to want to eliminate is something that neither governments nor the general public should tolerate. It is impossible for the public to have confidence in the diamond industry’s attempt to self-regulate as long as it facilitates the trade in diamonds crafted in Israel, which, if the Kimberly Process applied the same standards to all diamonds, would rightly be classified as blood diamonds and treated accordingly.
Given the failure of Western governments to hold Israel to account for numerous breaches of international law including international humanitarian law, breaches of the UN Charter, its failure to abide by more than 30 binding UN Security Council Resolutions, breaches of EU Agreements and disregard for the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, they are unlikely to insist that the diamond industry broaden the definition of a conflict diamond to include cut and polished diamonds that fund human rights abuses.
Consumers should have the right to know where a diamond was crafted and consequently the right to choose an Israel-free diamond. These rights are not available to consumers today.
In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel similar to that which helped bring an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The international BDS campaign has to date focused much of its boycott activities on the most easily targeted Israeli products including fruit, vegetable, cosmetics and some plastic products. Targeting these products helps to increase public awareness of Israeli crimes and to some extent satisfies the public’s desire to register disapproval of Israel’s actions. However, these products account for only a small fraction of Israel’s total manufacturing exports. Even if the boycott of these products was totally successful it would not make a significant difference to the Israeli economy or to Israel’s ability to further its expansionist goals.

The diamond industry is a major pillar of the Israeli economy (see Figure 5 above). No other developed country is so heavily dependent on a single luxury commodity and the goodwill of individual consumers globally. Anything that threatens the carefully-nurtured image of diamonds as objects of desire, romance and purity could have serious consequences for the Israel diamond industry and the country’s ability to continue funding its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, the construction of illegal colonies and other associated criminal activities that render it the pariah of the modern age. The international BDS campaign needs to focus global attention on the diamond trade that facilitates Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people and its neighbors in the region.
Seán Clinton is the chairperson of the Limerick branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a former Boycott Officer on the National Committee of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Blog to End the Occupation: Confronting Challenges to Palestine Activism

Blog to End the Occupation: Confronting Challenges to Palestine Activism: The US Campaign held its 13th Annual National Organizers' Conference, The Mainstreaming of BDS & Continuing Struggle for Palestinia...

It’s time for the US to stop fuelling the conflict in Israel and Gaza

U.S. government: Stop arming Israel - amnesty international

     U.S. government: Stop arming Israel

    More civilians have been killed than fighters since the Israeli military Operation “Protective Edge” started on 8 July. Call on the U.S. government, Israel’s largest arms supplier by far, to urgently suspend arms transfers to Israel and to push for a UN arms embargo on all parties to the conflict.

    Photo: Israeli soldiers in position next to an artillery shells from an artillery unit near the Israeli border with Gaza, 21 July 2014. © European Pressphoto Agency

    MUST SEE - go to link ... and ACT please

    Wednesday, 8 October 2014

    Gaza buildings damaged

    In Pictures: The remnants of Gaza

    Israel's bombardment of Gaza has ended, but many Palestinians must now tackle the challenge of
    rebuilding from rubble.

    Eduardo Soteras Jalil Last updated: 07 Oct 2014 10:26
    Weeks after Israel ended its bombardment of Gaza, Palestinian residents have started coming back to what remains of their homes and livelihoods. Operation Protective Edge reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble, flattened iconic buildings and killed more than 2,000 people. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 100,000 people were displaced within Gaza, some of whom have been forced to shelter in schools for months, living on scarce food rations amid unhygienic conditions. Many were left with little more than the clothes on their backs after fleeing their homes. Conditions inside these shelters deteriorate daily, prompting families to venture back to whatever remains of their homes. In some cases, families have erected small huts over the rubble. They lack basic services, such as water and electricity - but even as winter edges nearer, there is no clear solution in sight.

    see more here please:

    400 American scholars boycott Israeli academic institutions

    PLO Department of Palestinians Expatriates Affairs confirmed Friday that more than 400 American scholars and anthropologists signed a petition to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
    The petition came to voice their “opposition to the ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, including the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and to boycott Israeli academic institutions that are complicit in these violations.”
    The undersigned anthropologists said that Israel has maintained an illegal siege on the Gaza Strip for seven years, severely restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.
    “As anthropologists, we feel compelled to join academics around the world who support the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This call is part of a long-standing appeal by Palestinian civil society organizations for the comprehensive implementation of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, and is supported by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)”.
    The undersigned anthropologists called for ending Israel’s siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and for dismantling the settlements and the separation wall.
    They also called for recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and for respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

    In a related context, spokeswoman for US State Department Jen Psaki criticized Israel’s decision to move forward its plan for 2,600 new housing units in occupied Jerusalem, saying that the step would send a “troubling message” if the Israeli government proceeded with tenders and construction.
    Prime Minister Netanyahu hit back at criticism lodged at Israel by the US, saying the Obama administration should learn the facts on the ground before condemning the units.
    In response, Washington rebuffed a contention by Netanyahu that it was ill-informed of East Jerusalem building plans when it leveled its sharp criticism against Israel, saying Thursday it is well aware of the situation on the ground as sources in Jerusalem had provided the government with clear information regarding the approved construction plans.
    However, Psaki stressed that “Israel remains a friend and ally” a contrast to Wednesday’s warning that Israel’s building will “distance their closest allies.”

    Professor Salaita Termination for Speech Critical of Israel

    by Center for Constitutional Rights


    CCR, along with the Chicago civil rights law firm of Loevy & Loevy, is representing Professor Steven Salaita, whose appointment to a tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – for which he had resigned from another tenured teaching position and was preparing to move – was terminated following his public tweets criticizing the Israeli government's recent actions in Gaza.  Salaita's termination, which functions as a penalty for his speech on an issue of public concern, constitutes “viewpoint discrimination,” a violation of the First Amendment, and also threatens academic freedom by punishing a faculty member for speaking as a citizen on a critical issue.


    For information about the September 9, 2014 press conference with Professor Salaita, please see the media advisory and Professor Salaita's statement.
    Prior to representing Professor Salaita, CCR sent a letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise regarding her decision to terminate his appointment at the University based on the content of his constitutionally-protected speech critical of the Israeli government’s military and political actions in Gaza.  The University's betrayal of academic freedom has been widely condemned.


    Professor Steven Salaita was a tenured English professor at Virginia Tech University, whose scholarship focused on colonialism, militarism and occupation and who had written well-regarded books studying Arab-American literature and criticizing Zionism.  It was on the basis of his excellent scholarly record that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offered Professor Salaita a tenured position in the University’s American Indian Studies department.  Based on the contract he had with the University of Illinois, Professor Salaita resigned his tenured position at Virginia Tech University and had prepared to move his family to Illinois.  Yet, one week before school was to start, Professor Salaita received a terse letter from University Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise, summarily informing him that his appointment was terminated.  It offered no reasons why.

    It is clear, however, that Professor Salaita’s termination was a result of a number of posts on social media highly critical of Israeli government atrocities in Gaza in recent weeks.  The University received strong pressure from outside groups who, consistent with a broader strategy to silence Palestinian human rights activists, labeled Professor Salaita anti-semitic.  CCR has seen similar attempts to silence Palestinian activists on campuses all across the country.  Seven years of absolutely stellar teaching and scholarly evaluations for Professor Salaita totally belie claims that he would ever be “uncivil” to students in the classroom, as Chancellor Wise has since intimated.

    The University’s action to repress or penalize Professor Salaita’s speech on a matter of public concern such as Israel/Palestine because of disagreement with its message is impermissible “viewpoint discrimination,” a serious First Amendment violation.  It is also no defense for the University to claim that his speech was offensive or aggressive, as the First Amendment also clearly protects the tone and manner of speech others find objectionable.  As CCR explained in our letter to Chancellor Wise, beyond the First Amendment violation committed in this instance, the University has “betrayed elementary principles of academic freedom which naturally extend protections to faculty members’ ability to ‘speak or write as citizens,’ and which must be free from ‘institutional censorship or discipline.’” 

    The University’s betrayal of academic freedom has been met with harsh criticisms, from academic boycotts of the University, withering editorial commentary, to a petition garnering over 16,000 signatures.  A small sampling of statements in support of Professor Salaita and critical of the University of Illinois are below.
    Statements of Support for Professor Salaita and Critical of University of Illinois's Actions

    Letters from Legal Organizations
    Letter from Center for Constitutional Rights
    Letter from Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, CAIR-Chicago and NLG-Chicago
    Open Letters from Academic Organizations
    Letter from American Anthropological Association (AAA)
    Letter from American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
    Letter from American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
    Letter from American Historical Association (AHA)
    Letter from American Political Science Association (APSA)
    Letter from Arab American Studies Association (AASA)
    Letter from California Scholars For Academic Freedom
    Letter from Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA)
    Letter from Modern Language Association (MLA)
    Statements from Academic Organizations
    Statement by American Association of University Professors (AAUP)
    Statement by American Studies Association (ASA)
    Statement by the Executive Committee of the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Statement by Cultural Studies Association (CSA)
    Statement by Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA)
    Statement by Society of American Law Teachers
    Letters from Faculty

    Letter from Constitutional Law and Free Speech Scholars
    Letter from English and Literature Department Faculty
    Letter from Scholars Committed to Advancing Critical and Open Perspectives on the Israel-Palestine Conflict
    Letter from Scholars Who Have Traveled in Palestine
    Letter from Bonnie Honig
    Letter from Katherine Franke
    University of Illinois Jewish Community Letter in Support of Our Professor Steven Salaita
    Petitions and Academic Boycott Announcements
    The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) Condemnation
    Scholars Petition Boycotting University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Public Petition Demanding Reinstatement
    Media Commentary
    Mondoweiss: Salaita’s stellar teaching record exposes political motivation behind his firing
    Inside Higher Ed: Fighting the Twitter Police
    Academe Blog: Chancellor Phyllis Wise Explains the Firing of Steven Salaita
    Inside Higher Ed: The Emails on Salaita
    The News Gazette: UI precluded any honest debate
    The Daily Illini: Termination of Salaita is Censorship
    The News-Gazette: Salaita prompted donors' fury
    The Washington Post: Did the University of Illinois rescind Steven Salaita's appointment to appease donors?


    August 1, 2014 - The Vice President and Chancellor of the University of Illinois informed Professor Salaita that they would not recommend further action by the Board of Trustees regarding his appointment to a tenured position.
    August 7, 2014 - CCR sent a letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise regarding her decision to terminate the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita at the University based on the content of his constitutionally-protected speech critical of the Israeli government’s military and political actions in Gaza.
    August 22, 2014 - Chancellor Wise released a statement regarding her decision.
    September 9, 2014 - Professor Salaita spoke publicly for the first time about the termination of his position at a press conference.
    September 11, 2014 - The University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted to terminate Professor Salaita from his tenured position.

    Russell Tribunal 2014 - Press Conference 25/09 - playlist