This is all over the wires, and it might be historic. John Kerry, Secretary of State, blamed the Israelis for the breakdown of peace talks during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. Israel failed to release prisoners on time according to a deal it had with Palestinians, then announced 700 settlement units– “poof!”– causing the latest breakdown in the talks, Kerry said.
The Times had the story hours ago: ”Israeli Settlement Plan Derails Peace Talks, Kerry Says.”
The State Department has already sought to cover for Kerry, saying he meant that both sides are to blame.
Appeals Court Upholds Olympia Food Co-op's Boycott of Israeli Goods
April 7, 2014, Seattle – Today, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by five members of the Olympia Food Co-op against current and former members of the Co-op’s Board of Directors for their decision to boycott Israeli goods. The court held that the lawsuit was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, and that participation in the boycott is protected by the First Amendment. The court also affirmed $160,000 in statutory damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs for the board members, and awarded attorneys’ fees for the appeal. The lawsuit is part of a broader pattern of targeting pro-Palestinian activists in the United States, particularly in legislatures and across college campuses.
“Those who would try to intimidate concerned citizens speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights should take note,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Maria LaHood. “The law and history are on the side of peaceful boycotts for social change, and today’s ruling reaffirms that this time-honored tradition is protected by the First Amendment. Instead of trying to suppress speech calling for Palestinian human rights, opponents should address such speech on the merits.”
Read more: Appeals Court Upholds Olympia Food Co-op's Boycott of Israeli Goods
I am writing today to express grave concern about a wave of legislative measures in the United States aimed at punishing and intimidating those who speak their conscience and challenge the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people. In legislatures in Maryland, New York, Illinois, Florida, and even the United States Congress, bills have been proposed that would either bar funding to academic associations or seek to malign those who have taken a stand against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.
These legislative efforts are in response to a growing international initiative, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which I have long been a supporter. The BDS movement emanates from a call for justice put out by the Palestinian people themselves. It is a Palestinian-led, international non-violent movement that seeks to force theIsraeli government to comply with international law in respect to its treatment of the Palestinian people.
I have supported this movement because it exerts pressure without violence on the State of Israel to create lasting peace for the citizens of Israel and Palestine, peace which most citizens crave. I have witnessed the systematic violence against and humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation and pain is all too familiar to us South Africans.
In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. My conscience compels me to stand with the Palestinians as they seek to use the same tactics of non-violence to further their efforts to end the oppression associated with the Israeli Occupation.
The legislations being proposed in the United States would have made participation in a movement like the one that ended Apartheid in South Africa extremely difficult.
I am also deeply troubled by the rhetoric associated with the promulgation of these bills which I understand, in the instance of Maryland, included testimony comparing the boycott to the actions of the Nazis in Germany. The Nazi Holocaust which resulted in the extermination of millions of Jews is a crime of monstrous proportions. To imply that it is in any way comparable to a nonviolent initiative diminishes the horrific nature of that genocidal and tragic era in our world history.
Whether used in South Africa, the US South, or India, boycotts have resulted in a transformative change that not only brought freedom and justice to the victims but also peace and reconciliation for the oppressors. I strongly oppose any piece of legislation meant to punish or deter individuals from pursuing this transformative aspiration. And I remain forever hopeful that, like the nonviolent efforts that have preceded it, the BDS movement will ultimately become a catalyst for honest peace and reconciliation for all our brothers and sisters, both Palestinian and Israeli, in the Holy Land.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
This statement was issued by Oryx Media.
What: New York TImes bestselling author MAX BLUMENTHAL to speak at Portland, OR conference.
When: April 4th and 5th, 2014
Where: First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson St., Portland, OR
Who: Award-winning journalist, filmmaker, blogger and national bestselling author Max Blumenthal will speak at SEEDS OF JUSTICE AND HOPE FOR PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS: What is required of US conference.
Award-winning journalist, filmmaker, blogger and national bestselling author Max Blumenthal will speak on "Sundown Towns and Anti-Miscegenation Crusades: The Peculiar Institutions of Israel" on Friday, April 4 at First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson St. Blumenthal's lecture will be presented at a thought-provoking call to action, the SEEDS OFJUSTICE AND HOPE FOR PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS: WHAT IS REQUIRED OF US conference to be hosted by the Portland action group of Friends of Sabeel - North America. Sabeel is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians..
Blumenthal's talk will focus on themes from his recently published book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. The bold and controversial book is a product of four years of research on Israel-Palestine at a transitional phase. Beginning with the national elections carried out during Israel's war on Gaza in 2008-2009, which brought into power what he calls "Israel's most right-wing government to date," Blumenthal tells the story of Israel-Palestine in the wake of the collapse of the Oslo peace process.
Read more: Sundown Towns and Anti-Miscegenation Crusades: The Peculiar Institutions of Israel
The following press release was sent out by Loyola University Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine:
On Tuesday March 18, 2014, Loyola University Chicago became the first Jesuit University in the United States to pass a student government resolution to divest from companies complicit in aiding the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. The Senate legislation calls upon Loyola University Chicago to remove its holdings from eight specific companies that play active roles in the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli Government.
The first corporation listed, Caterpillar, sustains the occupation by providing tools and bulldozers to destroy Palestinian infrastructure such as homes, neighborhoods, and agricultural fields. Caterpillar tools also aid in the expansion of illegal settlements as declared by the United Nations. The second corporation, General Electric (GE), manufactures engines used for the same helicopters that violate human rights violations by attacking Palestinian civilians. Hewlitt-Packard Company (HP), similar to the aforementioned companies, also aids in the systemic oppression of Palestine. HP provides discriminatory identification systems used by the Israeli militarycheckpoints and profits from mass incarceration. Group 4 Securicor (G4S), Raytheon, Elbit Systems, SodaStream, and Veolia are the remaining companies that complete the list.
By passing this piece of legislation, the student body at Loyola University Chicago is asking for further and constant examination of Loyola’s assets for future investments. In the policy statement on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), the Board of Trustees claims to commit to a social mission with the promotion of social justice. Divesting from these companies remains true to this statement and ensures that Loyola is not profiting from companies that contradict Jesuit traditions and values.Senator Nashiha Alam supports this in her speech of affirmation by saying, “…the university has a responsibility to filter our investments and have an investment screen. We [the students] are responsible for making these ethical investments.”
Students for Justice in Palestine at Loyola University Chicago (SJP) has been working on a divestment campaign since 2012. After gathering over 800 undergraduate student signatures in support of divestment, SJP introduced the legislation to the Unified Student Government Association (USGA) for deliberation. The Senate meeting was full of outside community supporters as well as current students passionate about the cause. USGA Senator Melinda Bunnage speaks in favor of the Divestment legislation “I think this piece of legislation has potential to be really effective. USGA worries about the community and student support but it’s clear that passing this is very important to our student body.”
SJP LUC hopes that this success signals the beginning of future successes for other universities and Jesuit institutions across the United States. It is the students’ responsibility as crucial members of society to draw attention to these immoral acts against an entire population and by passing divestment, Loyola University Chicago is making an influential difference.
Ilan Pappe's Revealing Book: