Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

July 2011

Because I believe in ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, equal rights for Palestinians and Jews, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees forced from their homes and lands in 1948, I support boycotting — and calling on others to boycott — all Israeli companies that help perpetuate these injustices.

The time has come to stick their hand in the fire and fight for all the issues they have steered clear of so far – the security budget, the settlements, the occupation, the breaches of democracy and the rule of capital, without which no real rectification can be made, not even in the cost of rent.

Israeli authorities are suing residents of a makeshift Bedouin village for the cost of repeatedly evicting them and razing “illegal structures” where they live, an official said on Wednesday… An Israeli non-governmental group, Bedouin-Jewish Justice, reported in March that the homes there had been destroyed and rebuilt 21 times since July 2010.

IOA Editor: Dispossession neoliberal-style where the victim is charged for his oppressor’s operating expenses.

For Israel’s housing protest to succeed, it must be defined as political – and it must be translated into political acts. The issues it raises must be placed at the center of Israel’s democratic life. The argument over who gets what must find expression within political parties and elections.

IOA Editor: This domestic Israeli (Jewish and largely middle-class) housing campaign is rapidly spreading and may well threaten the stability of Netanyahu’s government.

However, so far, demonstration activists and their leaders have dealt with the housing crisis outside of any political context. They didn’t discuss the dramatic discrepancy between Israel’s domestic and West Bank housing development policies, let alone make the connection between Israeli governments’ (past and present) high priory for settlement construction and low priority for domestic development – both designed to increase the size of the settlement population. Similarly, they didn’t include Israeli Palestinians — whose community has suffered a far greater housing shortage for decades — in their national campaign.

This ‘missing’ context is a true reflection of the extent of this Israeli-Jewish struggle. It is also likely to constrain the significance of any ‘success’ resulting from this campaign.

Six governments preferred to encourage Israelis to go and live on settlements rather than in the periphery of the country. This had a critical effect on the level of supply in various regions, and therefore on the prices of real estate.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz confirmed Monday that the state subsidizes bus tickets within West Bank settlements, causing them to be cheaper than tickets for rides within the Green Line.

IOA Editor: Transportation options and costs are an integral part of household location decisions. Therefore, public transportation subsidies to Jewish residents of illegal West Bank settlements, which reduce the cost of living in the West Bank compared to pre-1967 Israel, constitute yet another incentive for Israelis to become settlers.

What will the Palestinians do at the UN in September? The question appears to haunt Washington and Tel Aviv as they prepare to block Palestinian attempts to obtain UN recognition, as though the very idea of such action represents a form of political impudence that merits the harshest international rejection. Sober accounts by Palestinians of what they may expect from a trip to the UN have done little to allay the dark cloud of suspicion that is fostered in mainstream accounts.

Inclusion of Jordan Valley, northern Dead Sea and area surrounding Ariel in ‘settlement blocs’ whose takeover the IDF Civil Administration is advancing, would prevent establishment of Palestinian state with territorial contiguity… Until now it was not known that the administration, which is a military agency, was charged with distinguishing between the blocs Israel is demanding to annex as part of a final-status agreement and the rest of the settlements.

A video uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem shows an IDF officer pointing a loaded gun at an unarmed Palestinian in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron, last month.

On 11 July 2011, the Knesset plenum passed the Anti-Boycott Law, which enables the filing of civil lawsuits against those who call for a boycott of the State of Israel or any of its territories (e.g. Israeli settlements). Following the final approval of this law, ACRI has prepared a Q&A document, to explain the legal implications of this law.

The Other Israel and Occupation Magazine’s joint summary of current events and activities.

We could get in trouble for this. Not in New York City, where this editorial is being written, because legitimate comment is protected under the First Amendment. But our editorials, along with many other stories and columns in the Forward, also appear every Sunday in the English edition of the Haaretz newspaper in Israel. And now, with a new anti-boycott law approved by the Knesset and due to take effect in less than 90 days, the boundaries of free speech and legitimate expression have grown unpredictably and suffocatingly tight.

Ms Zoabi, a vociferous critic of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara, attracting fury in Israel. She was branded a traitor by colleagues and stripped of some parliamentary privileges… The Knesset’s ethics committee voted to bar Ms Zoabi from parliamentary debates until the current session ends next month, declaring that her actions had “harmed national security and were inconsistent with the legitimate conduct of a lawmaker”.

On July 11th the Israeli parliament passed the controversial anti-boycott law. The law was written in response to the mounting global movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and profits from its settlements and industry in the occupied West Bank. The Boycott movement began as a mass Palestinian civil society call, and has been supported from the beginning by some Israelis. The new law bans publicly calling for a boycott, classifying it a civil wrong.

Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi: “What is a peace activist or Palestinian allowed to do to oppose the occupation? Is there anything you agree to?”

Basically, the anti-boycott law allows all those who feel they have been harmed by a boycott, whether against Israel or an Israeli institution or territory (i.e. the settlements in the West Bank) to sue the person or organization who publicly called for it, for compensation. This definition is very broad—even a simple call not to visit a place falls under it—and most important, the prosecutor plaintiff doesn’t even have to prove damages.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Philip Luther: “Despite proponents’ claims to the contrary, this law is a blatant attempt to stifle peaceful dissent and campaigning by attacking the right to freedom of expression, which all governments must uphold.”

Cindy Corrie: “After more than a year of hearings, we are at this moment in much the same place as we were when they began – up against a wall of Israeli officials determined to protect the state at all costs, including at the expense of truth.”

Uri Avnery: “The boycott law is a sophisticated law. It doesn’t impose criminal sanctions on someone who calls for boycotting the settlements. If it did, we wouldn’t have the slightest problem; we would go to jail. Instead, this law makes everyone who calls for boycotting the settlements liable for paying millions of shekels in compensation to the settlers. There is no limit to the sum that the settlers can demand of us in compensation for damages, without their even having to prove it [the damages]…”

This is a politically opportunistic and anti-democratic act, the latest in a series of outrageously discriminatory and exclusionary laws enacted over the past year, and it accelerates the process of transforming Israel’s legal code into a disturbingly dictatorial document. It casts the threatening shadow of criminal offense over every boycott, petition or even newspaper op-ed. Very soon, all political debate will be silenced.

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