News about the Palestinian Struggle

by Jul 9, 2012All Articles

Israeli indignados Return To Streets Following Police Violence | by Jérôme E. Roos
Interesting developments in Israel, where the J14 social justice movement (wiki) that burst onto the scenes last year with tent occupations and the country’s largest street protests ever now appears to be making a radical comeback. Last Friday, police thwarted an attempt to re-occupy Rothschold Boulevard in downtown Tel Aviv — the spiritual home to last year’s protests — arresting the movement’s icon, Daphni Leef, who was the first to pitch her tent there last year.
In response to the excessive use of force by police, activists immediately poured back into the streets. This weekend, over 4.000 protesters marched through Tel Aviv, occupying highways, smashing banks, besieging the municipality and clashing with police for over four hours (read a full report here). Writing for the excellent +972 Magazine, which commits itself to “independent reporting and commentary from Israel and Palestine”, Noam Sheizaf observes that:
There is no denying that something has changed in the J14 movement. Last year’s consensus-building atmosphere was gone, replaced by a surprising level of bitterness and anger. Many protesters spoke of the need to take the political battle to the streets, now that even the government’s mild promises from last year weren’t fulfilled, and especially due to the lack of Knesset opposition …
Another interesting development is the change in the way the media treats the protest. Last year, proxies to the prime minister spoke of “media conspiracy” against him, due to what seemed like the mainstream media’s favorable treatment of J14. Things couldn’t be more different today. J14 was blamed for the economic slowdown Israel is experiencing, which sent the media market into a deep crisis. As a result – and perhaps, out of growing dislike of the protesters themselves – the media tone has changed to one that ranges between ignoring the protest and bashing it.
J14 is now the protest of the outsiders. With no backing from the media or major political parties, it is no longer the summer festival people claimed it was in the past. Some questions – like the debate on the need to discuss the other urgent political issues, and most notably the occupation – still haunt the movement. Yet there is renewed energy in the streets, at least in Tel Aviv.
Check out this great report from The Real News below (featuring 972Magcontributor and activist Haggai Matar):
Source: Roarmag.org Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Israel subjecting Palestinian children to ‘spiral of injustice’ | by  Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
A belief that every Palestinian child is a potential terrorist may be leading to a “spiral of injustice” and breaches of international law in Israel’s treatment of child detainees in military custody, a delegation of eminent British lawyers has concluded in an independent report backed by the Foreign Office.
The nine-strong delegation, led by the former high court judge Sir Stephen Sedley and including the UK’s former attorney-general Lady Scotland, found that “undisputed facts” pointed to at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory. It was also in breach of the fourth Geneva convention in transferring child detainees from the West Bank to Israeli prisons, the delegation said.
Its report, Children in Military Custody, released on Tuesday, was based on a visit to Israel and the West Bank last September funded and facilitated by the Foreign Office and the British consulate in Jerusalem.
It makes 40 specific recommendations concerning the treatment of Palestinian child detainees.
The issue has come under increasing scrutiny by human rights organisations and visiting delegations over the past year. In January the Guardian highlighted the use of solitary confinement in a report on the experiences of children under the military justice system.
Watch our film, made in January, about Palestinian children held by Israel in solitary confinement Link to this video
The lawyers’ report says Israel has international obligations as the occupying power in the West Bank, and its system of military law must respect human rights and non-discrimination. It points out that under international law, no state is entitled to discriminate in the exercise of justice on the basis of race or nationality. It says, however, that “there are major differentials between the law governing the treatment of Palestinian children and the law governing treatment of Israeli children”.
The report compares the military justice system in the West Bank to the Israeli civilian legal system, finding key differences in the treatment of children. The most egregious are the length of time child detainees can be held a) before being brought before a judge (up to 24 hours for Israeli children compared with eight days for Palestinian children); b) without access to a lawyer (48 hours compared with 90 days); and c) without charge (40 days compared with 188 days). The minimum age for custodial sentences is 14 for Israeli children, but 12 for Palestinian children.
As well as meeting government officials, lawyers, NGOs and UN agencies, the British team also interviewed former child prisoners and former Israeli soldiers, and visited the military court at Ofer prison near Jerusalem, which holds regular child sessions. They witnessed children being brought into the court in shackles.
The report also details “two irreconcilable accounts of the treatment and rights of Palestinian children” given to the delegation. One was from Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, UN agencies, lawyers, former Israeli soldiers and former child detainees; the second from Israeli government officials, military judges and prosecutors.
The first included night-time arrests, the use of blindfolds and painful plastic wrist ties, physical and/or verbal abuse, the failure to be informed of the right to silence or to see a lawyer, solitary confinement, self-incrimination, children being made to sign statements in Hebrew which they could not understand and extremely restricted access to family. “In this process, every year hundreds of Palestinian children are traumatised, sometimes irreversibly, are denied part of the their schooling and then live at ongoing risk of much harsher punishment if they are arrested again,” the report said.
In the second account it heard, children are informed of their rights, treated appropriately, subject to procedural safeguards, and violence and threats are forbidden. “In custody, children receive education to such a high standard that Palestinian children have been known to offend in order to access it,” the delegation was told.
Among the report’s recommendations are:
  • An end to night-time arrests, except in extreme and unusual circumstances.
  • Children should be told of their rights in their own language.
  • Children should never be blindfolded or hooded.
  • Single plastic hand ties should never be used.
  • The prohibition on violent, threatening or coercive conduct towards children should be strictly observed.
  • Children should not be shackled at any time.
  • Any confession in a language other than the child’s own should not be accepted as evidence.
  • Solitary confinement should never be used “as a standard mode of detention or imprisonment”.
  • All Palestinian children should be held in facilities in the occupied territories, and not transferred to Israel, a breach of article 76 of the fourth Geneva convention.
In conclusion, the report says: “It may be that much of the reluctance to treat Palestinian children in conformity with international norms stems from a belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a ‘potential terrorist’. Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice.”
Marianna Hildyard QC, one of the delegation, told the Guardian: “Israel claims to be a state committed to the rule of law and international standards. To make good that claim, it must formulate a legal structure for all Palestinian children in compliance with the convention of the rights of the child and international law. Further steps must be taken to close the gaps between the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian children.”
In a statement, the Israeli embassy in London said it appreciated the delegation’s efforts “to learn about the challenges involved in dealing with minors involved in acts of militancy and violence. Regrettably, such activities continue to be encouraged by official Palestinian textbooks and television programmes which glorify terrorism and suicide terrorists. As a result under-18 year olds are frequently involved in lethal acts … with the Palestinian Authority unable or unwilling to meet its obligation to investigate and prosecute these offences, Israel has no choice but to do so itself.”
Israel would study the report’s recommendations “as part of its ongoing efforts to find the most appropriate balance between preventing violence and treating perpetrators with humanity”.
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 June 2012

New “Green Israel” ads on CNN greenwash sewage of occupation and apartheid
The Israeli government is launching a new international propaganda campaign, featuring ads on CNN International, that seeks to brand Israel as a haven of green technologies and environmentalism.
But don’t expect the campaign to talk about the environmental catastrophes brought about by Israeli occupation and apartheid. The campaign, which includes sponsorship of CNN International’s world weather bulletins, is being launched to coincide with the UN’s Rio +20 Summit on Sustainable Development.
Ynet reports in Hebrew that the ads will focus on Israel’s supposed prowess in “green technologies” with claims that Israel is a world leader in water desalination, that 40 percent of its drinking water is desalinated, and that 70 percent of Israeli sewage is recycled and used in agriculture. These technologies, the ads will claim, are of benefit to people all over the world.
Israel’s effort to shift the focus away from its occupation, oppression and colonization of Palestinians and their land, has in recent years taken the form of “pinkwashing” – using Israel’s supposed tolerance for gay rights to market it as a liberal haven. The strategy of “greenwashing” is intended to work in a similar manner.
Environmental catastrophes brought about by Israel
Yet, the “greenwashing” strategy should provide new opportunities for the Palestine solidarity movement to focus on the environmental catastrophes Israel has created on land, sea and air.
Some of the things the Green Israel ad campaign is unlikely to talk about:
  • According to the OECD, Israeli “water quality” is ranked 35 out of 36 countries, better only than the Russian Federation. Israel’s water score “is much lower than the OECD average” according to the OECD, “and suggests Israel still faces difficulties in providing good quality water to its inhabitants.”
  • Similar problems face air quality: Israel is ranked 27 out of 36 for harmful particulate matter in the air and, “Particulate matter and ground-level ozone concentrations frequently exceed limit values for the protection of human health.”
  • Because of Israeli discrimination, Palestinians face severe shortages of water, a report from Amnesty International found. Palestinians are systematically denied water for basic needs, and hundreds of thousands don’t even have running water. Israel hogs 80 percent of the water from the West Bank’s main aquifer, while allowing Palestinians a mere 20 percent. In the West Bank, 450,000 settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.
  • The fact that 95 percent of Gaza’s water is unfit for human consumption due to Israel’s siege and military attacks, and the use of desalination technology as a means to further isolate Gaza.
  • The frequent contamination of Palestinian villages by flows of raw sewage from Israeli settlements;
  • The systematic destruction of trees to facilitate settler takeover of land, such as in Wadi Qana, an area of rare natural beauty that is now also awash in settler sewage.
  • The threat of destruction of the West Bank village of Battir’s ancient irrigation and ecosystem by Israel’s colonization and apartheid wall – which has led to an emergency application to UNESCO to try to save the area.
  • Israel’s further entrenchment in the occupied West Bank under the guise of supposedly environmental companies like Better Place, which build settlement infrastructure.
These are just a few examples of Israel’s environmental record of shame, but you won’t be seeing them on CNN.

Caterpillar Removed from TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds Victory for Pro-divestment Advocates
June 21, 2012- Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.
“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign (www.wedivest.org). “It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good’ when it comes to the people of Israel and Palestine.”
Since 2010, We Divest has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies profiting from and facilitating Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.
“By selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, Caterpillar is complicit in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Wise. “We’re glad to see that the socially responsible investment community appears to be recognizing this and is starting to take appropriate action.”
Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.
In the coming weeks, many will be watching the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly taking place in Pittsburgh, where church commissioners will vote on a motion to divest from Caterpillar and two other companies, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, that remain in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds.
Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.”
What Others are  Saying
Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and founding member of the BDS movement said, “CAT is out of the bag of TIAA-CREF’s socially responsible companies thanks to the inspiring campaign waged by JVP and its partners, with vision, persistence and tactical skillfulness. Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee (BNC), deeply appreciates these efforts and believes that more pressure will ultimately convince TIAA-CREF to fulfill its basic moral obligation to finally divest from CAT and all other corporations that are complicit in Israel’s grave and escalating violations of international law and human rights.”
Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel Corrie’s parents said, “For nearly a decade, we have witnessed human rights abuses committed with Caterpillar equipment in the West Bank and Gaza and have joined thousands who have asked the company to stop supporting these actions.  We are hugely gratified that TIAA-CREF has taken this step.  When governments and corporations avoid responsibility, we must refuse to profit from their abuses. Our family salutes and thanks TIAA-CREF for this decision that moves all of us closer to accountability.”
Jennifer Bing, Middle East Program Director of the Chicago office of the American Friends Service Committee, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said, “As a TIAA-CREF client institution which has divested from Caterpillar ourselves, we are encouraged to see this first, great step toward creating a complete occupation-free portfolio that my colleagues and I are eager to have as an investment option.”
Samia Shafi of Adalah-NY, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said,  “This small, positive first step shows that TIAA-CREF is not immune to pressure for human rights for Palestinians. Our We Divest Campaign will continue pressuring TIAA-CREF until we win full divestment from all companies in TIAA-CREF’s portfolio that profit from violations of Palestinian human rights.”
Anna Baltzer, National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation — a coalition of more than 380 organizations around the country — and a member group of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, stated: “After years of Caterpillar refusing to change its practices, we are gratified that the U.S. corporation and others like it are seeing that support for Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies comes at a dear cost. There can be no more business as usual with such institutions. The tide is turning.”
Background
  • The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate with Caterpillar before calling for selective divestment. MRTI’s report on engagement with companies on Israel/Palestine-related issues noted that:
  • Caterpillar’s complicity in non-peaceful pursuits led the 2010 General Assembly to denounce the company’s profiting from involvement in human rights violations. Sadly, despite significant support for the shareholder resolution calling for a review of its human rights policy, Caterpillar has become even more intransigent. It has cut off all communication with the religious shareholders. Caterpillar continues to accept no responsibility for the end use of their products.
  • In 2004, Amnesty International urged Caterpillar to take action in response to the documented use of its bulldozers to violate international law in the occupied territories, noting that “thousands of families have had their homes and possessions destroyed under the blades of the Israeli army’s US-made Caterpillar bulldozers.”
  • Human Rights Watch, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Presbyterian Church USA have all made similar recommendations to Caterpillar, to no avail.
  • In 2003, a Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier killed American activist Rachel Corrie while she nonviolently protested the demolition of Palestinian homes in the town of Rafah, in Gaza.
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