Manchester university divests from firms complicit in Israeli occupation

Students campaigning for Manchester to divest from Caterpillar in 2018. (photo: BDS UoM)
BDS efforts to highlight investments contributing to Israel’s apartheid investments claim a victory.

By Asa Winstanley | The Electronic Intifada | Aug 3, 2020

‘University of Manchester divesting from complicit companies shows the power of the grassroots student movement to hold our institutions to account.’
— Huda Ammori, founder of BDS campaign at University of Manchester

The University of Manchester has divested more than $5 million from Caterpillar and the parent company of travel site

Activists on Monday said it was “a colossal win for the Palestine solidarity movement in Britain” and a “watershed moment.”

The university has been a focus for campaigners since 2016 due to its investments in firms complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

Last year students crashed a board meeting to demand divestment from Caterpillar.

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The Palestinians are caught between ‘waiting’ and ‘the possibility’ of annexation

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini shake hands during a press conference at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017 [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini shake hands during a press conference at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017 (photo: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP via Getty Images)
International diplomacy has normalized delays to the detriment of populations concerned with accessing and implementing their legitimate political and legal rights.

By Ramona Wadi | Middle East Monitor |  Aug 4, 2020

‘While the international community is concerned with the ‘possibility’ of annexation…Israel is implementing its annexation scheme on the ground without any deterrence.’
— Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee Member

While the Palestine Liberation Organisation has been calling upon the EU to step up from rhetoric to action regarding Israel’s forthcoming annexation of occupied West Bank territory, Europe’s Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell invited Israeli Defence Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to Brussels to meet with the bloc’s foreign ministers.

“While the international community is concerned with the ‘possibility’ of annexation,” said PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi, “Israel is implementing its annexation scheme on the ground without any deterrence.” Israeli plans for further construction in East Jerusalem prompted Ashrawi’s comments, as EU politicians adopt activist tactics by abandoning their power to act both morally and politically and opting instead to write a “protest letter” to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

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A letter to God, from lockdown

Painting by Jawad Ibrahim (We Are Not
Mentors and artists from around the world have joined with youth in Gaza to create a platform for mentoring youth to tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news.

By Basman Derawi | We Are Not Numbers | July 26, 2020

I swallow my sour saliva and try to hold on to what I believe.

Hello, God.
How are you today?
I don’t know what day
of the global lockdown it is.
Here, we are always
in lockdown.
News swirls in the rumor mill
that is social media:
Young people committing suicide.
Not just one, but five.

I swallow my sour saliva
and try to hold on to what I believe.
I want to die, but I want to live first:
out of prison, in a place where
I can move freely,
light is not a privilege
and hope is realistic.

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Man-made Israel (and the obsessive erasure of Palestinian history)

Masada, 2018.  (photo: Gary Todd, on Flicker)
Hellbent on crafting an umbilical cord between itself and a biblical, mythical 2000-year old past, Israel has erased the ancient history of Palestinians.

By Sam Bahour | Mondoweiss | July 31, 2020

‘The Invention of Ancient Israel’ is not an easy read. It is one of those books that when you finish reading the last lines and look up you feel like you just emerged from a washing machine.

The Silencing of Palestinian History
By Keith W. Whitelam
296 pp. Routledge. £24.79

What do you get when you mix ten decades of biblical studies, an Old Testament, the ideology of Zionism, and a tablespoon of politically motivated archaeology, all mixed in a bowl of historical evidence? Author Keith W. Whitelam undertook this recipe and reports on the results in “The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History” (of 1997). The short answer to the question is that one is left with a toxic modern state, hell-bent on crafting an umbilical cord between itself and a mythical 2000-year old past. In other words, the State of Israel.

If no one were hurt during this process, one could just turn a blind eye and be content that, To each his own. But when the results of the recipe never produce a stable product, and an entire people are continuously being battered into oblivion, we each have a responsibility to step in and say enough is enough.

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Israel arrests BDS coordinator in night raid

Anti-BDS laws are a constitutional and PR mess. Here's how to make ...
People protesting anti-BDS laws in New York, June 9, 2016. (photo: Erik McGregor / Getty Images)
The global, peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has grown in prominence worldwide.

By Ali Abunimah | The Electronic Intifada | July 30, 2020

‘Mahmoud is a leading Palestinian human rights defender who is highly regarded in Palestine and around the world for his tireless and passionate advocacy of Palestinian rights,’ Barghouti said.
— Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement

Israeli occupation forces detained the general coordinator of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement in a night raid early Thursday.

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Present absences

Near Tulkarem, 1948. (photo: Bettmann / Getty)
Book review of Rashid Khalidi’s latest book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017.

By Kaleem Hawa | The Nation | July 27, 2020

For as long as I have been alive, the barriers in the West to advocating for Palestinian rights have deterred all but the most committed people.

Here’s the script: Criminalize the boycotts, deport the human rights advocates, rebrand anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, smear the leftist Jews, infiltrate the leftist organizations, defund the aid programs, torpedo the political campaigns, fire the high school teachers and speech pathologists and network commentators, and pinkwash the occupation. The tactics vary today, but the intent remains the same. For as long as I have been alive, the barriers in the West to advocating for Palestinian rights have deterred all but the most committed people.

Often, as a result, the responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Palestinians. Rashid Khalidi, a professor at Columbia and a codirector of its Center for Palestine Studies, is one of the best known to have taken up this responsibility. An acclaimed historian and former adviser to the Palestine delegation during the Madrid talks in 1991, he has written about the origins of Arab nationalism, American Cold War policy in the Middle East, the construction of Palestinian identity, and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He has also played an important role in representing Palestinians in Western media and in mentoring a growing generation of Palestinian writers and academics, including Noura Erakat and Lana Tatour.

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Friends of the IDF lobby group secures forgivable US COVID loans for Israeli soldiers


Israel Defense Forces Feature photo
In this Nov 26, 2015 photo, members of the Israel Defense Forces pose for a photo for social media. (photo: Twitter / @IDF
A non-profit organization that supports IDF soldiers received a $2.5 million PPP loan under the guise of a “religious organization,” but adds up to a mere pittance of the continued bonanza of American tax-payer dollars flowing to the apartheid state.

By Raul Diego | MintPress News | July 24, 2020

From aiding the wholesale dispossession of Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers to killing children with targeted headshots, the Israeli Defense Forces are anything but a boon for humanity.

A non-profit organization that “that provides for wellbeing of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)” was awarded a $2.5 million forgivable PPP loan by the (Small Business Administration) SBA. The Friends of Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) is the only organization “authorized to represent the IDF across the United States and Panama” where they claim to operate 20 regional offices, with a P.O. Box in New York.

The FIDF’s loan was filed under the category of “religious organization” in the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan data, despite the NPO being listed as a Y12 organization under the IRS’ NTEE classification system for non-profits: a “Mutual/Membership Benefit Organization,” which (in the case of FIDF) raises funds for issues relating to “foreign affairs and national security,” according to the tax-exempt organizations database published by ProPublica.

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The cultural importance of Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart, from the Center for American Progress.
Peter Beinart challenges Jewish culture because he refuses to use the Holocaust lens of perpetual victim-hood when considering Palestinian resistance.

By Yakov Hirsch | Mondoweiss | July 26, 2020

This ‘Holocaust lens,’ Beinart claims, is what makes it so difficult for Jews to see Palestinians as created ‘b’tselem Elohim,’ in the image of God.

In his recent essay arguing for equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians, Peter Beinart says the Jewish dehumanization of the Palestinians is the biggest threat to a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, and he points to the misinterpretation of the Holocaust as a reason for that dehumanization. This “Holocaust lens,” Beinart claims, is what makes it so difficult for Jews to see Palestinians as created “b’tselem Elohim,” in the image of God.

That dehumanization includes the idea that Palestinians are motivated by antisemitism in their opposition to Israel. The claim, Beinart says, is a function of “Jewish trauma.” And, Beinart argues, it says more about us than it does about them:

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The real war on free speech

Bari Weiss, as a sophomore at Columbia University, speaks at a press conference organized by Columbians for Academic Freedom, a group she co-founded, on March 31st, 2005. (photo: AP Photo / Tina Fineberg)
Some of the Harper’s letter signatories use their defense of free speech to silence support for Palestinian rights.

By Mari Cohen & Joshua Leifer | Jewish Currents | July 23, 2020

…failure to recognize the tension between their free speech advocacy on the one hand, and their pro-Israel advocacy on the other, reveals an unwillingness to reckon with the relationship between speech and power.

TWO WEEKS AGO, an open letter published in Harper’s Magazine and signed by more than 150 public figures, most of them writers or academics, ignited a new round of debate over “cancel culture” and its discontents. The letter portrayed freedom of expression in the United States as dangerously imperiled: “We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.” A week later, Bari Weiss, one of the letter’s high-profile signatories, resigned her position at the New York Times op-ed desk and self-published her resignation letter. Echoing the Harper’s letter, Weiss’s statement decried an increasingly “illiberal environment” in public discourse writ large and at the Times in particular. She wrote that her colleagues—and the public—have become unwilling to accommodate views that don’t adhere to “the new orthodoxy.”

Yet, as some critics have noted, Weiss has a long history of claiming to support free speech while trying to curtail the speech of Palestinian rights advocates, from her college days through her years at the Times. And she is not the only signatory of the Harper’s letter who has sought to silence those with whom she disagrees. Cary Nelson, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, is a prominent opponent of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has written extensively about the need to combat anti-Zionist scholarship in the name of academic freedom.

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From Portland to Palestine to the Southern Cone: The reappearance of the disappeared

Federal agents in Portland, Oregon. (photo: via Social Media)
Israeli arms sales, surveillance and police training contributes to the militarization of police now being seen across cities in the US. In reality the disappearing has been happening for a long time.

By Benay Blend | The Palestine Chronicle | July 21, 2020

…it is possible to draw attention to Israel’s role in ‘snatching and disappearing people all over the world,’ but in particular the Southern Cone, Palestine, and now in the United States.

“What was old has become new again,” wrote local activist Lee Einer in a Facebook post this morning. Einer is referring to Donald Trump’s use of federal law enforcement officers, dressed in camouflage but with no identification, riding in unmarked cars, rounding up Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon. Since July 14th multiple videos have documented officers whisking people off in cars with no explanation as to why they are being detained.

Reporting for The Nation, Jeet Heer contends that these actions are “illegal and unconstitutional.” Nevertheless, it is likely that they are operating under the aegis of Barack Obama’s approval of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act which permits the detention of Americans if suspected of being terrorists.

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