FIFA, the world football governing body, will make a decision on Israeli football teams based in illegal settlements at their upcoming congress on May 10, 2017. This is our chance to ensure that Palestinian human rights are front and centre on their agenda!
More than one hundred sports and human rights associations representing millions of people across the globe have called on FIFA to demand the Israeli Football Association end its affiliation with settlement clubs, or face suspension from FIFA if it fails to do so.
As the pressure mounts on FIFA to respect its statutes, the Israeli government is enlisting its embassies to drop the issue of settlement clubs from the Congress’ agenda altogether. We can’t let that happen. Settlement clubs and human rights violations have no place in the beautiful game.
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel @PACBI
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law.
It is an alliance of convenience to be sure and one that’s not boasted about by either party. But is not terribly different from one that Israel enjoys with its other Muslim allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
“Bogie” Moshe Yaalon served as defence minister in the current Israeli government until he had a falling out with Netanyahu in May 2016. Now Yaalon plans to form his own party and run against his former boss. Unfortunately for him, he’s not polling well and doesn’t appear to be much of a political threat.
So Yaalon enjoys the position of having little to lose. He can speak more candidly than the average politician. In this context, he spoke at length on security matters at a public event in the northern Israeli city of Afula this past Saturday.
Yaalon’s confirmationThere is always much that I disagree with whenever I read Yaalon’s views. For example, while warning in this video about the danger of favouring too heavily one side over the other in Syria, he essentially justifies Israel’s interventionist approach. It has largely favoured Assad’s Islamist opponents. Nor do I much like, in another context, Yaalon’s choice of political allies – from Islamophobe blogger Pam Geller to Meir Kahane’s grandson.
But he did reveal Israel’s ties to IS in Syria. I’ve documented, along with other journalists, Israeli collaboration with al-Nusra, an affiliate of al-Qaeda. But no Israeli until now has admitted it has collaborated with IS as well.
Yaalon implicitly confirmed this in his statement:
“Within Syria there are many factions: the regime, Iran, the Russians, and even al-Qaeda and ISIS. In such circumstances, one must develop a responsible, carefully balanced policy by which you protect your own interests on the one hand, and on the other hand you don’t intervene. Because if Israel does intervene on behalf of one side, it will serve the interests of the other; which is why we’ve established red lines. Anyone who violates our sovereignty will immediately feel the full weight of our power. On most occasions, firing comes from regions under the control of the regime. But once the firing came from ISIS positions – and it immediately apologised.”
The attack he refers to was never reported in Israeli media. Either the information was placed under gag order or under military censorship. It was suppressed most certainly because both the firing by an Israeli Islamist ally on Israeli territory and IS’s apology would embarrass both Israel and the Islamists.What defines an ally?
Some critics claim that an IS apology doesn’t signify an alliance or serious collaboration between the Islamist group and Israel. To which I reply – when you bomb an ally you apologise. When you bomb an enemy – you don’t. What does that make IS to Israel?
Keep in mind, this is the same IS which beheaded a Jewish-American who had lived in Israel: Steven Sotloff. The same IS which raped Yazidi women and threw gay men off buildings. The same IS which has rampaged through the Middle East sowing havoc and rivers of blood wherever it goes. The same IS which Netanyahu routinely excoriates as being the root of all evil in the world. Like here, for example:
“Iran and the Islamic State want to destroy us, and a hatred for Jews is being directed towards the Jewish state today,” said Netanyahu, adding, “those who threaten to destroy us risk being destroyed themselves.”
It’s common knowledge that Israeli foreign policy going back to the days of Ben Gurion has been exceedingly opportunistic and amoral as exemplified in this infamous statement:”Were I to know that all German Jewish children could be rescued by transferring them to England and only half by transfer to Palestine, I would opt for the latter, because our concern is not only the personal interest of these children, but the historic interest of the Jewish people.”
So I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised at this new development. But still it does momentarily take one’s breath away to contemplate just how brutally cynical Israel’s motives and choices can often be.
Massive rallies and Facebook campaigns calling for Palestinian genocide are ignored by Western mainstream media and Facebook despite concerns and collaborations aimed at stopping “calls to violence”.Since last October, the Israeli government has accused Palestinians and their allies of “inciting violence” against Israelis, despite the fact that only 34 Israelis have died in that time frame compared to 230 Palestinians. The uptick in violence has been attributed to an internationally condemned Israeli encroachment of Palestinian lands in the contested West Bank.
Israeli government concern over recent violence has led them to arrest Palestinians for social media content that could potentially lead to crimes. So far, 145 Palestinians have been arrested this year for “pre-crime” via social media “incitement.” This practice eventually led to a collaboration between Facebook and the Israeli government, whose joint effort to curb social media “incitement” has led to the banning of several Facebook accounts of Palestinian journalists and news agencies.
However, social media, as well as mainstream Western media, have failed to condemn Israeli “incitement” against Palestinians, a practice that is surprisingly common considering the little to no attention it receives. Often these anti-Palestinian posts, pictures, and rallies are rife with calls for genocide, with cries of “Death to the whole Arab nation” and “Kill them all” surprisingly common.
Even the Times of Israel ran an op-ed article about “When Genocide is Permissible” in reference to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Though the post was eventually taken down, it points to an all-too-common and dangerous mentality that social media, the Israeli government, and Western media “conveniently” ignore.
An Israeli news agency even put the then-suspected preferential treatment to the test and found that Facebook and the Israeli authorities treated calls for revenge from Palestinians and Israelis very differently.
Even massive rallies calling for Palestinian genocide have been ignored entirely by social media and the corporate press. Earlier this year in April, a massive anti-Palestinian rally took place in Tel Aviv where thousands called for the death of all Arabs. The rally was organized to support an Israeli soldier who killed an already-wounded Palestinian by shooting him execution-style in the head.
The soldier, Elor Azaria, was charged with manslaughter for the killing, which occurred deep within Palestinian sovereign territory in the city of Hebron. Hebron contains an illegal Jewish settlement, but despite its illegality is protected by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) all the same. This has led to frequent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.
The Tel-Aviv rally was attended by an estimated 2,000 people and several Israeli pop icons entertained attendees including singer Maor Edri, Moshik Afia, and Amos Elgali, along with rapper Subliminal. Chants of “Elor [the soldier] is a hero” and calls to release the soldier were common. One woman was photographed holding a sign reading “Kill them all.”
A Jewish reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.” Despite the obvious animosity and incitement made evident at the rally, it isn’t difficult to imagine what the response would have been if this has been a pro-Palestinian rally calling for the deaths of Jews. The stark divide between what is permissible for Palestinians and what is permissible for Israelis should concern us all as the widespread bias of social media, the press, and many governments threaten to blind us from the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
[PHOTO: Ambassador Nikki Haley speaking at AIPAC convention, March 27, 2017. When she was Governor of South Carolina, Haley had been the first to sign into law anti-BDS legislation. See excerpts from her AIPAC speech below*]
We were deeply disappointed by your response to our report, Israeli Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid, and particularly your dismissal of it as “anti-Israeli propaganda” within hours of its release. The UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) invited us to undertake a fully researched scholarly study. Its principal purpose was to ascertain whether Israeli policies and practices imposed on the Palestinian people fall within the scope of the international-law definition of apartheid. We did our best to conduct the study with the care and rigor that is morally incumbent in such an important undertaking, and of course we welcome constructive criticism of the report’s method or analysis (which we also sought from several eminent scholars before its release). So far we have not received any information identifying the flaws you have found in the report or how it may have failed to comply with scholarly standards of rigor.
Instead, you have felt free to castigate the UN for commissioning the report and us for authoring it. You have launched defamatory attacks on all involved, designed to discredit and malign the messengers rather than clarify your criticisms of the message. Ad hominem attacks are usually the tactics of those so seized with political fervor as to abhor rational discussion. We suppose that you would not normally wish to give this impression of yourself and your staff, or to represent US diplomacy in such a light to the world. Yet your statements about our study, as reported in the media, certainly give this impression.
We were especially troubled by the extraordinary pressure your office exerted on the UN secretary general, António Guterres, apparently inducing him first to order the report’s removal from the ESCWA website and then to accept the resignation of ESCWA’s distinguished and highly respected executive secretary, Rima Khalaf, which she submitted on principle rather than repudiate a report that she believed fulfilled scholarly standards, upheld the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, and produced findings and recommendations vital for UN proceedings.
Instead of using this global forum to call for the critical debate about the report, you used the weight of your office to quash it. These strident denunciations convey a strong appearance of upholding an uncritical posture by the US government toward Israel, automatically and unconditionally sheltering Israel’s government from any criticism at the UN, whether deserved or not, from the perspective of international law. Such a posture diminishes the US’s reputation as a nation that upholds the values of truth, freedom, law, and justice, and that serves the world community as a regional and global leader. It also shifts the conversation away from crucial substantive concerns.
You fail to consider that Israeli leaders have themselves warned of the apartheid features of their policies. It may have been that the word “apartheid” alone was enough to trigger your response, a reaction undoubtedly abetted by Israel’s instantaneous denunciation of our report. In following Israel’s public lead, however, you fail to consider that Israeli leaders have themselves grasped and warned of the apartheid features of their policies for decades. The widely admired Yitzhak Rabin, twice Israel’s prime minister, once confided to a TV journalist, “I don’t think it’s possible to contain over a long term, if we don’t want to get to apartheid, a million and a half [more] Arabs inside a Jewish state.” Prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak both warned publicly that Israel was at risk of becoming an apartheid state and cautioned their constituencies about what would happen to Israel if the Palestinians realized this and launched an anti-apartheid struggle. Former Israeli attorney general Michael Ben-Yair has stated flatly, “we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories.” These prominent Israelis were clear-headed observers of their own country’s policies as well as patriots, and it was their cautions, as much as any other source, that inspired ESCWA member states to consider that the possibility of an apartheid regime existing in this setting must be taken seriously and so commissioned the report now under attack.
It is therefore wholly inappropriate and wrong for you to charge that, simply by accepting this commission, we as authors were motivated by anti-Semitism. The reverse is true. To clarify this claim, we call your attention to two features of the report that we hope will lead you to reconsider your response.
It is wrong for you to charge that, simply by accepting this commission, we were motivated by anti-Semitism.
Firstly, the report carefully confines its working definition of apartheid to those provided in the 1973 Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the International Crime of Apartheid and the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It does not rely on definitions developed in polemics about the conflict or taken casually from online sources. As the 1973 Convention and the Rome Statute are part of the same body of law that protects Jews, as well as all people in the world, from discrimination, this authoritative definition should not be set aside. Any responsible critique must therefore engage with these legal definitions, and the larger body of international human-rights jurisprudence in which they are situated, so as to address the report for what it actually says rather than concocting a straw man that can be easily dismissed. We hope you will reconsider the report in this light.
Secondly, the member states of ESCWA requested that a study be commissioned to examine whether Israel’s apartheid policies encompassed the Palestinian people as a whole. This meant that, as authors, we were asked to consider Palestinians living in four geographic regions within four legal categories or “domains”: those living in the occupied territories, those resident in Jerusalem, those living as citizens within Israel, and those living in refugee camps or involuntary exile. For each domain, we found that Israeli policies and practices are, by law, internally discriminatory. But more importantly, we found that all four operate as one comprehensive system that is designed to dominate and oppress Palestinians in order to preserve Israel as a Jewish state. It is this whole system of domination, too long misinterpreted by treating Palestinians as situated in unrelated categories, that generates the regime of domination that conforms to the definition of apartheid in international law. Moreover, it is this system that has undermined, and will continue to undermine, the two-state solution to which the United States has committed its diplomatic prestige over the course of several prior presidencies. Appraising the viability of this diplomatic posture in light of findings in this report would, we propose, be crucial for the credibility of US foreign policy and should not be blocked by political considerations.
We hoped our report would give rise to discussion of all these issues. Especially, we hope that its findings will inspire a review of this question by authoritative legal bodies such as the International Court of Justice. We did not seek a shouting match. We therefore now respectfully ask, against this background, that our report be read in the spirit in which it was written, aiming for the safety, security, and peace of everyone who lives in territory currently under Israel’s control. As the report’s authors, this was our moral framework all along, and we still retain the hope that the serious questions at stake will not be buried beneath an avalanche of diversionary abuse of our motives and character. Charges of crimes against humanity should not be swept to one side out of deference to political bonds that tie the United States and Israel closely together, or for reasons of political expediency. Such machinations can only weaken international law and endanger us all.
Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University
Professor of Political Science, Southern Illinois University
*Excerpts from Haley’s speech March 27, 2017 at the AIPAC convention, as reported by the Times of Israel:
“And this ridiculous report, the Falk report, came out. I don’t know who the guy is, or what he’s about, but he’s got serious problems,” said Haley, lightly horrified. “Goes and compares Israel to an apartheid state?”
“So for anyone that says you can’t get anything done at the UN, they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town.”
“The first thing we do is we call the secretary general, and say, ‘This [report] is absolutely ridiculous. You have to pull it.’ The secretary general immediately pulled the report, and then the director has now resigned.”
by Vanessa Beeley Man from Kafarya and Foua,crying in Jebrin centre, Aleppo, after the suspected suicide bombing massacre of 200 civilians, including 116 children, 15th April 2017 in Rashideen. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley) 21st Century Wire says… On April 15th 2017, the people of Kafarya and Foua were attacked, their children mown down deliberately, by a […]
The Organisation For The Prohibition Of Chemical Weapons has rejected Russia and Iran’s proposal for a new team to probe the suspected chemical attack earlier this month in Syria. Moscow’s pushing for a wider investigation, because it believes the OPCW cannot properly confirm anything until it’s actually visited the site.
The blocking of the Russian proposal at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on investigating the alleged chemical weapon use in Syria’s Idlib province aims to direct attention to the idea of regime change in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
The OPCW is not willing to properly probe the alleged chemical attack in Idlib. This is very odd.
What does a proper investigation entail?
How about the OPCW actually visit the site of the alleged attack, instead of rely on samples sent by White Helmets, or Al Qaeda, or anyone else for that matter.
How was the OPCW able to analyze the samples so quickly? Usually such lab work requires weeks, not hours.
What were the documented procedures for collecting the samples, and sending the samples? No documentation as to the collection process has been provided.
This is all very sloppy forensics, and it appears that western powers are working hard to keep this as sloppy as possible so as to avid a professional investigation which will, in my opinion, most certainly debunk the “Assad did it” narrative.
“Sarin or a ‘sarin-like’ substance” is repeated by UK diplomats in the video above. How can a verdict be attributed when officials are not even certain of the chemical allegedly used? Once again we see clever word play from the “Assad must go” coalition.
Here is what Russian FM Lavrov had to say about the OPCW at a joint meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“Yesterday, our joint proposal that OPCW experts visit the sites of the suspected chemical weapon use incident in Syria was blocked by western delegations without coherent explanations. This showed the complete incompetence of the positions of our western colleagues who basically prohibit the OPCW from sending their experts to the site of the incident, to the air base from where aircraft loaded with chemical weapons allegedly flew out.”
Lavrov noted that the UK and France have been curiously silent towards Russia’s requests for detailed information on the alleged chemical weapon probes taken in Syria.
“I think we are very close to this organization [OPCW] being discredited.”
“False information on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used to move away from the implementation of resolution 2254 which stipulates a political settlement with the participation of all the Syrian parties and to switch to the long-cherished idea of regime change.”
It’s fantasy to think U.S. backing of anti-Assad forces will lead to peace
By William Layer – – Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Was “Tomahawking” Syria for an alleged gas attack justifiable retribution, misfeasance, malfeasance or just a mistake? Was it a warning to China and North Korea as some have advanced? (This is the same line of thinking that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was really aimed cautioning the Soviet Union.) Why would China, the “celestial kingdom,” powerful in her own right, pay attention; why would North Korea, in the hands of a madman, even care?
Given the vagaries of the Middle East, truth is the first and last casualty. The first accusation of a gas attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad against rebel strongholds failed the smell test; it was more likely done by the regime’s enemies. In the latest iteration, is there conclusive evidence of culpability? Maybe I missed it. It’s more likely that Mr. Assad’s jets hit an ISIS chemical weapons dump, releasing the poison into the surrounding neighborhoods. So far, the allegations consist of words like “likely,” “leads to” and on and on in that vein. We are presented with suppositions and possibilities, but that is all.
Should we take Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ pronouncements at face value? Could he not be given misinformation? Could assertion of an Assad gas attack follow the formula of the Tonkin Gulf incident? Who profits from the gas attack? Certainly not Mr. Assad, who lived in London and knows full well the military power of the United States. Why would he, winning on the battlefield, use gas, which he knows would bring on the opprobrium of the West and a military attack? Who profits then? Why not ISIS and its friends who, by blaming Mr. Assad, might inspire American might to remove the great obstacle to their Dark Ages mentality?
Mr. Assad is an Alewite, a Shia faction heretical in the eyes of Sunni ISIS and, therefore, their enemy. As a Baathist, and therefore a modernizer, he is also antithetical to those Muslims who wish to resurrect a caliphate. The Baathist Party, which he represents, was founded by Michel Afliq, a Christian. It is a party that, in spite of its jumble of nationalism, Arabism and socialism, has seen itself as a bringing Arab society into the present, releasing it from the straitjacket of an Islam mired in the 12th century.
Compounding their offenses, the Assad family has protected Christians, whom the caliphate crowd see as infidels deserving of death. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, they have never passed up the opportunity to reinforce their hatred of Christianity or other Muslims. The press gives short shrift to the atrocities against Christians in the Middle East, and never reports on the efforts of Franciscan monks in Aleppo to relieve suffering caused by the civil war and the Muslim militias. In short, if Mr. Assad were to go, Alewites and Christians would be on the extermination list. With no alternative other than the death for him and his supporters and clients, Mr. Assad will hold on.
Knowledge of Syria by this administration and its predecessor is shallow at best. T.E. Lawrence wrote in his “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” that the Arab delights in chicanery. In hospitality, the Arabs can be extremely generous (as I experienced in Iraq), but was Lawrence right in saying that they were also “unstable as water” and that we delude “ourselves that perhaps peace might find the Arabs able to defend themselves with paper tools”?
The Syrian situation amply supplies examples of all. The Obama administration’s policy, enunciated by U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power as a “duty to protect” (i.e., U.S. intervention in the “Arab Spring”), was a dangerous absurdity in lands whose undercurrents are unfathomable to the Western mind. It led to nearly losing Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood and the unconstitutional attack on Libya, ensuring chaos and then the murder of Moammar Gadhafi, who was not a threat and who had kept a lid on the fanatical murderous rage of ISIS.
The history of the Middle East is one of bloodshed and oppression; this conflict is just another in an age-old saga. To think that by backing anti-Assad forces or removing him from power will lead to a flowering of democracy and peace is a fantasy. It would behoove this administration to examine the tumultuous French experience in Syria under the League of Nations mandate; we are not dealing with Anglo-Saxons. Unless the United States and the West is prepared to put troops on the ground, who would be first welcomed and then shot at, it is advisable to stay out and make them sort it out on their own.
• William Layer is a historian who covered Air Force presidential operations during the early years of the Reagan administration.