Saturday
Oct262013

A stern Warning To Israel: The Right Of Palestinian Return is Enshrined in International Law

Sunday
Oct202013

Israel's Persecution of African Migrants in Historic Palestine

An ongoing Zionist policy not only against Palestinians bu also on other ethnic groups.

Sunday
Oct202013

Edward Said's last known lecture 19 February, 2003

Edward Said was on his last breath when he made this lecture at University of California, Berkeley just weeks before the USA and Britain launched their illegal invasion of Iraq. He died 7 months later on 24 September 2003 at the young age of 68. His words still resonate to this day.

Tuesday
Aug202013

As It Happened In South Africa, So It Will In Israel

Pink Floyd star’s new Israel boycott letter to "family of Rock and Roll"


Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.

Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011. (Wikipedia)

Pink Floyd star Roger Waters has today published a long-awaited open letter calling on his fellow musicians to boycott Israel.

The letter explains that Waters has been part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for seven years, and has been mulling the letter over for some time.

He condemns Israeli human rights violations and explains the reasons to act:

Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments [to act] … it falls to civil society and conscientious citizens of the world, to dust off our consciences, shoulder our responsibilities, and act. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel … proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel …

Long-awaited

In an exclusive interview with The Electronic Intifada’s David Cronin back in March, Waters revealed he had been drafting the letter.

“What caused me to write this public letter was an affair where Stevie Wonder was hired to play a gala dinner for the Israeli Defense Forces,” he said, recounting how he and others wrote to Wonder asking him to cancel – which he eventually did.

The interview went viral at the time, gaining the attention of Rolling Stone, among others.

By April the letter had yet to appear and, following an interview with The Huffington Post that Waters says was “misinterpreted,” several media reports claimed Waters was “reconsidering” his position on boycotting Israel.

Waters wrote on Facebook soon afterwards that he had only meant he was considering the text of the letter, and not “my position on the Israel/Palestine issue” overall.

The publication of this letter today makes Waters’ position in favor of on the boycott of Israel clear – in support of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Full letter

18th August 2013, Warsaw To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll

Nigel Kennedy the virtuoso British violinist and violist, at The Recent Promenade Concerts at The Albert Hall in London, mentioned that Israel is apartheid. Nothing unusual there you might think, then one Baroness Deech, (Nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement. Baroness Deech produced not one shred of evidence to support her claim and yet the BBC, non political, supposedly, acting solely on Baroness Deech’s say so, suddenly went all 1984 on us. Well!! Time to stick my head above the parapet again, alongside my brother, Nigel Kennedy, where it belongs. And by the way, Nigel, great respect man. So here follows a letter last re-drafted in July.

25th July 2013 To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll.

In the wake of the tragic shooting to death of un-armed teenager Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer Zimmerman, yesterday, Stevie Wonder spoke at a gig declaring that he will not perform in the State of Florida until that State repeals its “Stand your ground” Law. In effect he has declared a boycott on grounds of conscience. I applaud his position, and stand with him, it has brought back to me a statement I made in a letter I wrote last February 14th, to which I have referred but have never published.

The time has come, so here it is.

This letter has been simmering on the back burner of my conscience and consciousness for some time.

It is seven years since I joined BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) a non violent movement to oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. The aim of BDS is to bring international attention to these Israeli policies, and hopefully, to help bring them to an end. All the people of the region deserve better than this.

To cut to the chase, Israel has been found guilty, independently, by international human rights organizations, UN officials, and the International Court of Justice, of serious breaches of international law. These include, and I will name only two;

  1. The Crime of Apartheid: The systematic oppression of one ethnic group by another. On 9 March 2012, for instance, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to end its racist policies and laws that contravene the prohibition against racial segregation and apartheid.

  2. The Crime of Ethnic Cleansing: The forcible removable of indigenous peoples from their rightful land in order to settle an occupying population. For example, in East Jerusalem non Jewish families are routinely physically evicted from their homes to make way for Jewish occupants.

There are others.

Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments, or the United Nations Security Council to put pressure on Israel to cease these violations, and make reparations to the victims, it falls to civil society and conscientious citizens of the world, to dust off our consciences, shoulder our responsibilities, and act. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel, to shed light on these problems and also to support all our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Israel who are struggling to end all forms of Israeli oppression and who wish to live in peace, justice, equality and freedom.

I am writing to you all now because of two recent events.

1) Stevie Wonder. Word came to me, the first week of last December that Stevie Wonder had been booked to headline at a gala dinner for the Friends of The Israeli Defence Force in LA on 6th December 2012. An event to raise money for the Israeli armed forces, as if the $4,300,000,000 that we the US tax payers give them each year were not enough? This came right after The Israeli defence Force had concluded yet another war on Gaza, (Operation Pillar of Defence), according to human rights watch, committing war crimes against the besieged 1.6 million Palestinians there.

Anyway, I wrote to Stevie to try to persuade him to cancel. My letter ran along these lines, “Would you have felt OK performing at the Policeman’s Ball in Johannesburg the night after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 or in Birmingham Alabama, to raise money for the Law Enforcement officers, who clubbed, tear gassed and water cannoned those children trying to integrate in 1963?” Archbishop Desmond Tutu also wrote an impassioned plea to Stevie, and 3,000 others appended their names to a change.org petition. Stevie, to his great credit, cancelled!

2) Earlier that week I delivered a speech at The United Nations. If you are interested you can find this speech on you tube.

The interesting thing about these two stories is that there was NOT ONE mention of either story in the mainstream media in the United States.

The clear inference would be that the media in the USA is not interested in the predicament of the Palestinian people, or for that matter the predicament of the Israeli people. We can only hope they may become interested as they eventually did in the politics of apartheid South Africa.

Back in the days of Apartheid South Africa at first it was a trickle of artists that refused to play there, a trickle that exercised a cultural boycott, then it became a stream, then a river then a torrent and then a flood. (Remember Steve van Zant, Bruce and all the others? “We will not Play in Sun City?”) Why? Because, like the UN and the International Courts of Justice they understood that Apartheid is wrong.

The sports community joined the battle, no one would go and play cricket or rugby in South Africa, and eventually the political community joined in as well. We all as a global, musical, sporting and political community raised our voices as one and the apartheid regime in South Africa fell.

Maybe we are at the tipping point now with Israel and Palestine. These are good people both and they deserve a just solution to their predicament. Each and every one of them deserves freedom, justice and equal rights. Just recently the ANC, the ruling party of South Africa, has endorsed BDS. We are nearly there. Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.

Roger Waters

Sunday
Jun232013

A Tree as a form of Theft.

‘I was not a party to, and never will be, to the planting of trees on expropriated and stolen land’: Former South African Ambassador to Israel rejects JNF trees planted in his name

by Adam Horowitz on 14 June 2013

Former South African Ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, has announced that he will be returning a certificate given to him informing him that 18 trees were planted in his honor by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The trees were planted in the "Ambassadors Forest" at the completion of Coovadia's service in Israel last December. The "Ambassadors Forest" was inaugurated in December 2005 and sits on the demolished Bedouin village of al-Araqib.

In a letter to filmmakers Mark Kaplan and Heidi Grunebaum that was provided to Mondoweiss, Coovadia says planting the trees in his name without his knowledge "is nothing less than an offence to my dignity and integrity. I was not a party to, and never will be, to the planting of '18 trees', in my 'honour', on expropriated and stolen land. " Kaplan and Grunebaum's new film, The Village under the Forest, tells the story of "South Africa Forest" which the JNF created on the ruins of the Palestinian village Lubya after it was destroyed during the Nakba.

Coovadia's letter reads in full:
________________________________

10 June 2013

Dear Mark Kaplan and Heidi Grunebaum,

Thank you ever so much for allowing me to have a preview of your aptly titled film "Village under the Forest".

Needless to say, the forced removal by Israel of Lubyans from their place of abode bears all the hallmarks of Apartheid South Africa’s forced removals of the legitimate inhabitants of Sophiatown.

I have recently completed serving my term as the fifth Ambassador of democratic, non-racial South Africa to the State of Israel.

The racist actions of the Israeli parastatal, the Jewish National Fund, together with various other Israeli state institutions to forcibly remove the Palestinians and Bedouins from their legitimate homes is yet another repeat of the ongoing injustice meted out by the Israeli Defence Forces, etc.....

I have had the opportunity to visit both, the "South Africa Forest" and the "Ambassador's Forest" in Israel where trees are reportedly planted in the name of South Africa. In regard to the latter case, my queries, to the Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, have gone un-answered for over a year.

Regrettably, my permission was not sought to plant a tree/s in my or the name of a South African Ambassador on usurped land, the rightful land of the Palestinians and Bedouins. I reserve the right to the usage of my name with or without my permission.

I have supported the struggle against Apartheid South Africa and now I cannot be a proponent of what I have witnessed in Israel, and that is, a replication of Apartheid!

The "Certificate" awarded to me by Mr. Rafael Barak, the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the backing of the Jewish National Fund, is nothing less than an offence to my dignity and integrity. I was not a party to, and never will be, to the planting of "18 trees", in my "honour", on expropriated and stolen land.

In view of this inhuman act against ordinary people, I shall be returning the "Certificate" to the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a humble request to remove the "18 trees...... planted... in my 'honour'".

Your awareness-raising film, hopefully, will also inspire other recipients to consider returning trees that were planted in their names.

I am pleased to be associated with the film "Village under the Forest", a truly objective , honest and a far reaching story on the screen , that requires national and international viewing.

With all good wishes for successful showings of "Village under the Forest."

Regards

Ismail Coovadia
________________________________

The Village Under the Forest has already been creating waves in South Africa. Following the premier of a film at the Encounters International Documentary Festival, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference announced it will end all collaborations with the JNF. The West Cape News reports:

Commenting about the film, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) said their collaborations with JNF had been “based on ignorance” and would not partner with an organisation alleged to be oppressing Palestinians and forcing them off their land.

Father Michael Deeb of the SACBC’s Justice and Peace department said they were “very concerned” about JNF’s alleged role in trying to erase the identity of Palestinians who lived in Lubya.

You can learn more about Lubya and The Village Under the Forest here:
http://www.villageunderforest.com/

About Adam Horowitz
Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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