Will Israeli policies change if Netanyahu leaves office?


Students waving Israeli flags in Jerusalem. (photo: Kristoffer Trolle / Flickr /Providence Magazine)

Regardless of Netanyahu’s political future, Israeli policies towards Palestinians will remain unchanged.

By Ramzy Baroud | Counterpunch | Mar 15, 2018

“There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained, and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality. Israel is a Jewish state. It isn’t a state of all its nations. There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights.”
— Ayelet Shaked, Israeli Minister of Justice

If scandal-plagued Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, exits his country’s political scene today, who is likely to replace him? And what does this mean as far as Israel’s Occupation of Palestine is concerned?

Netanyahu, who is currently being charged with multiple cases of corruption, misuse of government funds and public office, has, for years, epitomized the image of Israel internationally.

In Israel, Netanyahu has masterfully kept his rightwing Likud Party at the center of power. Even if as part of larger coalitions — as is often the case in the formation of most of Israeli governments — the Likud, under Netanyahu, has shaped Israeli politics and foreign policy for many years.

As Israel’s Jewish population continues to move to the right, the country’s political ideology has been repeatedly redefined in the last two decades.

Continue reading

Americans have a constitutional right to boycott Israel


Growing numbers of Americans and the civil society institutions to which they belong are supporting economic action against Israel. (photo: Mike Groll / AP)

Growing numbers of Americans and the civil society institutions to which they belong are supporting economic action against Israel as a moral and nonviolent way of showing their disapproval of Israel’s oppression.

By Josh Ruebner | Al Jazeera | Mar 15, 2018

It should be a no-brainer that Americans can boycott whomever or whatever they choose without risking governmental punishment. After all, the Supreme Court ruled that states have no “right to prohibit peaceful political activity” such as a boycott, which is an “expression on public issues” that “has always rested on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) concluded its annual policy conference last week with a lobbying day on Capitol Hill. High on its legislative agenda was advocating for bills that would penalise Americans for engaging in their First Amendment-protected right to boycott for Palestinian rights.

AIPAC conference attendees pressed their elected officials to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). The original, draconian version of this bill, unveiled at last year’s AIPAC conference, proposed to jail individuals for 20 years if they advanced an international organization’s call for a boycott of Israel, or even of products from its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Continue reading

Israel urges Irish bank to close account of NGO supporting BDS


A London branch of the Allied Irish Bank (photo: International Business Times)

The move is part of a growing effort by Israel to force closure of bank accounts of organizations supporting BDS.

By Benjamin Weinthal | The Jerusalem Post | Mar 9, 2018

“I call on Allied Irish Banks to join the many institutions, leaders and citizens who are uniting to reject the discriminatory and antisemitic boycott movement against Israel, including by disassociating itself from any BDS-linked accounts.”
— Gilad Erdan, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister

The Israeli government is pushing for the closure of scores of accounts provided by the Dublin-based Allied Irish Banks that fund the promotion of anti-Israel boycotts.

AIB, one of the Big Four commercial banks in Ireland, hosts Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign accounts, an organization based in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland that wages an aggressive BDS campaign targeting the Jewish state.

In January, the Israeli government included the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in a list of 20 BDS organizations whose representatives are not permitted to enter the Jewish state.

Continue reading

Washington court dismisses lawsuit over boycott of Israeli products


(photo: Olympia Food Co-op)

The 7-year lawsuit is part of a growing effort to suppress the BDS movement.

By Press Release | Center for Constitutional Rights | Mar 9, 2018

“Taking a stand for economic and social justice is at the heart of the co-op’s mission. Given Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights, we would have failed in this mission had we not approved a boycott.”
— Grace Cox, former Olympic Food Co-op board member and defendant in the lawsuit

Today, a Washington State court ended a seven-year litigation battle against former volunteer board members of the Olympia Food Co-op over their decision to boycott Israeli goods. The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 by five co-op members seeking to block the co-op’s boycott and to collect monetary damages against the board members. Two of the five members pulled out of the case, and none of the defendants originally named in the case remains a board member of the co-op. The court granted the motion for summary judgment from the former board members, who were represented by Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel, finding the plaintiffs had no standing to bring a case because they failed to show the co-op was injured.

“We are pleased that the court has dismissed this meritless lawsuit. It is a relief and a vindication for our clients, and a victory for everyone who supports the right to boycott,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood, who argued today.

Lawyers say the lawsuit is part of a broad and growing pattern of suppressing activism in support of Palestinian rights, a phenomenon that CCR and Palestine Legal have documented and called the “Palestine Exception” to free speech. CCR and Palestine Legal report the widespread use of administrative disciplinary actions, harassment, firings, legislative attacks, false accusations of terrorism and antisemitism, and baseless legal complaints. Between 2014 and 2016, Palestine Legal responded to 650 such incidents of suppression targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights.

Continue reading

Israel contemplates a future without Netanyahu


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thrown in his lot with Trump and rising anti-liberal forces. (photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty)

As corruption allegations mount against the Prime Minister, his air of invincibility has been punctured.

By Ruth Margalit | The New Yorker | Mar 6, 2018

“It’s the Louis XIV syndrome. More than just saying that the state is him, his feeling and the feeling of those around him, is that the damage to the party and the country by his resigning would be so great that it’s worth doing things that would have been unthinkable were it anyone else.”
— Nahum Barnea, Israeli columnist for Yediot Ahronot

Israel is famously low on pomp and circumstance. Attend an Israeli wedding and guests are likely to appear in jeans, with sunglasses perched on their foreheads. When Donald Trump landed at Ben Gurion Airport last May, the Israeli government tried to keep it stately — red carpet, military orchestra — but it wasn’t long before a member of the ruling Likud Party whipped out his cell phone and snapped a selfie with the American President on the tarmac. So minimal is the ceremoniousness that, whenever it exists, it tends to take on outsized meaning.

One such ceremony took place on Monday, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Trump in the Oval Office. Netanyahu tried to project an air of business as usual — the relationship between the United States and Israel “has never been better,” he gushed — even as Trump may have quickened the Israeli leader’s pulse by saying, nonchalantly, that “we have a shot” at “doing” peace with the Palestinians. But only one thing was on the mind of the travelling Israeli press corps. A reporter asked, “Prime Minister Netanyahu, would you like to comment about the latest news coming from Israel?”

“I will later,” Netanyahu replied quietly, maintaining a glued-on smile. Continue reading

Israel slaps entry ban on Norway’s largest labor union


Norway’s largest alliance of trade unions has fully endorsed the Palestinian call for BDS. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / ActiveStills)

A routine matter of racial profiling by Israeli authorities has spiraled into a diplomatic attack on Norway’s largest labor organization.

By Ryan Rodrick Beiler | The Electronic Intifada | Mar 5, 2018

“Unless and until LO rectifies the shameful boycott resolution and puts an end to its discriminating practices against the only Jewish state, its leaders should not expect getting a business as usual treatment from Israel,”
— Raphael Schutz, Israeli ambassador to Norway

Mohammed Malik, a Norwegian citizen with Pakistani heritage, had joined a trade union study tour organized by the Palestine Committee of Norway, but was stopped for questioning by officials at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on 17 Feb. While all other members of the delegation were allowed to continue on their trip, Malik spent the night in detention before being deported and issued a lifetime entry ban.

During Malik’s interrogation, Israeli agents discovered that he was a member of the Norwegian Food and Allied Workers Union. He was questioned about his union affiliation and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions’ (LO) policy toward Israel.

“My name was obviously the reason I was taken aside in passport control,” Malik told a LO-affiliated newspaper. “But they deported me because I am a [trade] unionist. I was thrown out because I am affiliated with the LO.”

Continue reading

Guatemala will move its embassy to Jerusalem in May


Eighty-seven countries have embassies in Israel, none of them are in Jerusalem. (photo: DeAgostini / Getty Images)

Guatemala will be the second country to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

By Jenna Lifthits | The Weekly Standard | Mar 4, 2018

“In May of this year, we will celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary, and under my instructions two days after the United States moves its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem.”
— Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales

Guatemala will relocate its embassy to Jerusalem in May, two days after the United States is slated to make the same move, the country’s president said Sunday.

“It is important to be among the first, but it is more important to do what it right,” he said.

Morales first announced the move in late December, following in the footsteps of the Trump administration. Guatemala was one of nine countries to vote against a December United Nations resolution rejecting the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Continue reading