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Tag Archives: occupation
Welcome to the website of Occupy Miami. As a local part of a national and global grassroots movement Occupy Wall Street, we seek to create a world that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1%
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For Israel, it's all about the population figures – Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports
By KARIN LAUB and DAN PERRY Associated Press
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian construction worker Nael Yassin and his wife, Wafa, are the proud parents of a new baby girl – the fifth child for the couple in their early 30s.
Such fecundity is usually a private affair, but in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a broader issue is in play. A race for “demographic” prominence – and the fact that Israel may be losing it – has become critical to the current peace effort led by John Kerry.
The U.S. secretary of state himself has started warning Israel that it stands to become a binational state unless it ends the occupation of the lands it captured in the 1967 war. Kerry, who is expected to present a framework for a deal soon, said last month that failure “will make it impossible to preserve (Israel’s) future as a democratic Jewish state.”
The idea – emphasized as never before – is being listened to in Israel.
In a speech Monday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid presented the issue as the main reason Kerry must succeed: “Every moment we don’t separate from the Palestinians is a clear threat to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.”
The “demographic issue” is focusing Israeli minds in a way that moral arguments against occupation have not, particularly when they are weighed against forgoing the West Bank’s strategic hinterland and Jerusalem with its unrivaled religious and historic sites.
Some experts are predicting Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel plus the areas it captured in 1967 – the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
Continued occupation, they say, would force Israel into a hard choice: Formalize Jewish minority rule over disenfranchised Palestinians – or give them the right to vote and end the Zionist dream of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine.
In this context, those arguing for a pullout on these terms are essentially trying to save Israel as a “Jewish state” – where the degree of Jewishness is a function of the size of the majority.
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In December of last year, members of the American Studies Association voted to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions by a 2-1 margin. The statement noted, the resolution is in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom, and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians. Opposition to this resolution illustrates how universities refuse to oppose injustices using rhetoric of academic freedom.
This boycott is part of a growing movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel called for by Palestinian civil society to exert economic and political pressure on Israel until it complies with international law. The ASA is not the first to sign on to the academic boycott of Israel. It is joining a group of organizations such as the Association for Asian American Studies and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in refusing to be complicit in the ideological and material defense of the occupation fostered by Israeli academic institutions. Israeli universities have direct ties to the Israeli military, play a critical role in providing research that supports the occupation and some are located on illegally seized land. No major Israeli university has yet denounced the growing and continuous occupation of Palestinian land, which has been globally condemned for violating international law.
The aim of the academic boycott is to put pressure on Israeli universities that play a central role in the maintenance of a settler-colonial project in Palestine based on ethno-racial supremacy. The ASAs resolution is, at its very core, a statement of support for Palestinian students and scholars who face tremendous obstacles in accessing education. Schools and universities in the occupied Palestinian territories are frequently closed by Israeli military orders and have been destroyed by Israeli military strikes. Palestinian students and faculty members face violations of their right to mobility due to the extensive system of checkpoints, where they face not only hours of delays but also harassment. Israel has frequently denied visas to Palestinian students to travel abroad to study or attend conferences. Students in Gaza have also been barred from studying in the West Bank since 2000. Israels continued blockade of Gaza deprives its inhabitants of access not only to food, fuel and medicines but also textbooks and school supplies.
Israeli universities institutional support of the occupation means that they are actively involved in producing these realities.
The ASA boycott has been widely misunderstood. It is a refusal to enter formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions and academics who are serving on behalf of the Israeli government. It is not binding for its members. It does not target any individual scholars affiliated with Israeli universities nor does it discriminate against scholars based on citizenship or political and ideological viewpoints.
Yet opponents of the ASA boycott have overwhelmingly adopted a rhetoric of academic freedom. On December 23, President Christina Paxson joined many university presidents in denouncing academic boycotts in general, stating that they were antithetical to open scholarly exchange and would inhibit the advancement of knowledge and discovery.
But what kind of freedom should we be talking about? Through the academic boycott, the ASA, the AASA and the NAISA stand in support of the freedoms and rights of Palestinians living under occupation. Critics of the ASA ignore the role of boycotts in challenging Israels everyday suppression of education for Palestinian scholars, students and universities. To frame these actions as the silencing of scholarly exchange is to cynically and disingenuously deploy the notion of academic freedom to advance its very denial.
Critics like Paxson illustrate that the voices of a select few are protected at universities. It should come as no surprise that those in power are consistently defending the freedoms of the oppressors. Only last fall, the president threatened disciplinary action against students who protested a public lecture by New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly, the chief architect of New York Citys unconstitutional and discriminatory stop-and-frisk policies. She denounced the action as antithetical to the free exchange of ideas.
It is ironic that the defense of academic freedom by the critics of the ASA has taken the form of the criminalization of dissent in universities. Earlier this month, the Protect Academic Freedom Act was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives, seeking to deny federal funds to any academic institutions that support the BDS movement. If the bill passes, universities in the United States will be in the company of those in Israel, where support for BDS was criminalized in 2011.
By supporting the academic boycott, the ASA and other associations remind all of us that the free exchange of ideas at universities is never separate from their political contexts. Academic institutions around the world must work to use their powerful role as privileged centers of knowledge production to reject, rather than maintain, an oppressive status quo.
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Village of Bil'in West Bank,07.02.2014, Weekly protest against the wall and the occupation
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Demonstration against the occupation, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, 10.1.2014
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The American Studies Association, a group of scholars on American culture and history, recently decided to honor the call of Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli institutions. This academic and cultural boycott aims to bring under scrutiny the actions of the Israeli government and put pressure on Israeli institutions to end the oppressive occupation and racist policies within both Israel and occupied Palestine.
For those who understand that the struggle for rights is global, this is an important academic boycott which is why Bowdoin should join it.
To date, Israeli academic institutions have been notoriously silent with regard to the daily oppression of their Palestinian counterparts. No Israeli university has actively or publicly opposed the occupation. Israeli universities give priority admission to soldiers, discriminate against Palestinian students and have developed remote-controlled bulldozers for the Israeli Armys home demolitions. Israeli universities conduct research for the Israeli military, and several of them operate out of illegal settlements built on Palestinian land occupied since 1967.
Therefore, in their current state, Israeli universities are both actively and passively complicit in the crimes of both the Israeli military and the Israeli government in all its settler-colonial forms.
In their resolution, the ASA emphasized that the boycott is decidedly not aimed at individual persons. The boycott is aimed at institutions that condone and perpetuate state practices of discrimination and deny academic freedom to others. The boycott refuses to discriminate based on citizenship, race or nationality and merely asks that institutional ties be severed with those institutions complicit in the Israeli occupation.
In other words, a professor from the University of Tel Aviv can still present research at an ASA conference, provided that he or she does so as an individual scholar and not expressly as a representative of Israeli academic institutions or of the Israeli government. Representatives include deans, rectors and presidents of an institution.
Since the ASA declared its support for Palestinians in their struggle for human rights and academic freedom, the association has come under intense criticism, including from Bowdoin College President Barry Mills.
We respect Mills right to express his views. However, his rejection of the boycott does not speak for the Bowdoin community because it ignores the plurality of viewpoints at Bowdoin, the rights of Palestinians and the voices of those in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and human rights.
Furthermore, Mills statement fundamentally misrepresents the essence of the boycott. He falsely categorizes the boycott as stifling discussion and the free exchange of ideas, ignoring how the boycott has instead served as the catalyst for greater discussion of Israels human rights abuses. Questions are now being raised even in the previously silent corners of the mainstream media. His categorization also overlooks that it is Israel that has stifled discussion, having passed a law in 2011 that bans Israelis from even proposing a boycott of anything Israeli, be it a consumer, academic or cultural boycott.
As reported in The Guardian, in Israel, an individual or organization proposing a boycott may be sued for compensation by any individual or institution facing possible damage as a result. Evidence of actual damage will not be required.
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I had a good laugh when I saw The New York Times story last week with the headline: “Members of Jewish Student Group Test Permissible Discussion On Israel.”
The piece told of the decision by the Hillel Jewish student society at Swarthmore College to break with the national organization over its ban on discussions of the Middle East that did not tilt toward the Israeli position. It noted that the restrictions faced by Swarthmore students are far from unusual:
At Harvard, the Jewish student group Hillel was barred from co-sponsoring a discussion with a Palestinian student group. At Binghamton University, a Hillel student leader was forced to resign his position after showing a film about Palestinians and inviting the filmmakers brother to speak. And on many other campuses, Hillel chapters have been instructed to reject collaboration with left-leaning Jewish groups.
In any context other than the Israeli one, the idea of college students testing the limits of “permissible discussion” would be ridiculous. Imagine college students “testing the limits” of debate on abortion, gun control, the death penalty or any other issue. It’s inconceivable, at least nowadays. (Students at the University of South Carolina and Ole Miss weren’t free to debate the morality of slavery in 1859). In the United States today, students can freely discuss anything … except Israel.
That is as likely to change in 2014 as it is likely that Senators Schumer, Menendez, and Booker will condemn the occupation, and for the same reason. College presidents, like other politicians, will not offend fat cat donors. It’s that simple. And the Israel issue is only one of hundreds of issues where the guys writing the checks set the policy. Democracy? Not any kind Washington or Lincoln would recognize. But as conservatives love reminding us, America is exceptional.
The same people who set limits on debate in college are also in the book-censoring business. “Pro-Israel” organizations have not only condemned Max Blumenthal’s book about the occupation, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, they have tried to ban the author from certain venues. This is nothing new; they have been doing this for decades.
A new twist in the case of Blumenthal came when former Harvard professor, Alan Dershowitz, the lobby’s chief enforcer of limits on free speech, demanded that Hillary Clinton disassociate herself from Max Blumenthal’s father (a Clinton friend and confidante of long standing) or face the consequences. He said that the elder Blumenthal and Clinton could avert his evil decree if Sidney merely repudiated his own son. (Calling on a parent to repudiate his child marks a new high in the lobby’s deviation from Jewish law and tradition, but what else is new?). I expect we won’t see Sidney Blumenthal around Secretary Clinton much in coming days. She is not exactly known for standing up to the lobby.
It’s all pretty crazy. And stupid. The same crowd that is working so hard to smother Blumenthal’s book has enthusiastically endorsed Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, helping to push it to the best-seller list. But, guess what, the Shavit book is infinitely more dangerous to the “pro-Israel” line than anything in Blumenthal’s book.
Blumenthal depicts the horrors of the occupation in gory (and true) detail. The settlers are like something out of a European Jewish nightmare (armed thugs tormenting their helpless victims). Beyond that he reports on racism inside Israel itself, a growing phenomenon as evidenced by Israel’s treatment of African migrants. It is sickening to see how easily Israelis have adopted the language and style of American white supremacists.
But Blumenthal is simply not credible, even though the facts are on his side, because the book drips with hatred of Israel. In fact, it concludes with a section called “Exodus Party” which expresses what he clearly hopes is Israel’s future: its collapse after its people depart for Europe. Moreover, Blumenthal is an American who speaks neither Hebrew nor Arabic. His book, despite the truth it tells about the occupation is easy to ignore, which is what the Israel establishment should have done rather than attempt to ban it. (For the record, I recommend the book for its comprehensive reporting of the occupation, just ignore its recommendations and tone).
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Protest against the wall and the occupation, Bil'in, West Bank – 20.12.2013
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Demonstration against the occupation, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, 6.12.2013
Demonstration held in Nabi Saleh on December 6, 2013 to commemorate the killing of Mustafa Tamimi by Israeli army forces.
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