domingo, 28 de janeiro de 2018

Reality check on cultural boycott of Israel

In the growing tide of support for the cultural boycott of Israel, New Zealand music star Lorde's decision to cancel her Tel Aviv concert was precedent-setting in many ways.
Lorde cancelled the Israeli leg of her 2018 world tour only days after it was announced. With commendable modesty and openness to engage moral questions of our times, she welcomed appeals from her fans who are active in challenging Israel's oppression of Palestinians through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Exhibiting the political maturity of a truly "informed young citizen", she recognised why the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, including artists, have called on international cultural figures not to entertain apartheid Israel, and she acted on her conscience to make the "right call."
At 21, Lorde is arguably the first artist of her generation and calibre (she has won two Grammy awards), to cancel a performance in Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, she was "by far, the biggest contemporary name to announce a 2018 show in Israel."
Lorde's cancellation touched a raw nerve in Israel's regime of oppression, with the foreign ministry shifting to damage control mode. Their panic was apparent when the Israeli ambassador to New Zealand tweeted to Lorde a desperate public invitation for a meeting.
The ambassador's involvement is a clear signal that the Israeli government views these cultural events as part and parcel of its global public relations efforts to art-wash its regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid against Palestinians, and to use culture as a propaganda tool to present Israel's "prettier face", as a senior Israeli official once admitted.
Lorde's cancellation is not the only source of cultural boycott anxiety for Israeli officials. In 2017 alone, many scheduled gigs in Tel Aviv were cancelled following appeals from Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights activists.
In April rapper Princess Nokia cancelled her headline performance at Kalamazoo festival in Tel Aviv, after calls from fans and campaigners. In August, eight artists cancelled appearances at the Pop-Kultur music festival in Berlin, including headline act Young Fathers, to protest the festival's partnership with the Israeli embassy.
Young Fathers, winners of the UK's Mercury Prize, wrote that they "support the principle of a peaceful solution that allows Palestinians the right to return to a safe homeland and that allows Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths (and none) to live together in peace."
Other artists who withdrew from Pop-Kultur included Finnish metal band Oranssi Pazuzu, Tunisian singer and songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, and Syrian rap band Mazzaj. Thurston Moore, who performed at the festival in 2016, tweeted his supportof the artists' boycott of the 2017 edition and called on the organisers to end Israel's sponsorship.
Chilean-American-Palestinian producer and composer Nicolas Jaar performed in a Palestinian venue in Haifa, in accordance with BDS guidelines.
The French duo Acid Arab, who had in the past performed in Tel Aviv, announced in November that they would heed the cultural boycott of Israel: "We were naive enough to think that our musical project could break barriers… We refuse to lend our names to a regime of occupation… We will never undermine the non-violent Palestinians struggle for freedom, justice, equality and peace."
Also in November, Olof Dreijer of Swedish duo The Knife announced that he had declined an offer to DJ in Tel Aviv: "Palestinians living under military occupation and apartheid are denied their basic rights. I've been to Palestine myself and seen the effects of the occupation with my own eyes. As long as this goes on, I will not perform in Israel."
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man tweeted that his scheduled Tel Aviv concert had been cancelled, following BDS calls, with many fans and human rights advocates thanking him for his decision.
US hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis also cancelled their scheduled concert in Tel Aviv due to "an unexpected change of schedule", as their producers said at the time. While there is no evidence that this cancellation was related to Palestinian rights or BDS, some Israeli commentators said it was a silent boycott, linking it to the considerable "controversy" that inevitably erupts whenever international celebrities cross the Palestinian BDS picket line by agreeing to perform in Tel Aviv or in Israeli-sponsored events.
Radiohead and Nick Cave did cross the peaceful Palestinian picket line and performed in Tel Aviv earlier this year. Yet, the raving endorsements of both bands by the Israeli government and its lobby groups around the world demonstrated what the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has been saying all along: "Playing in Tel Aviv is never simply about music," it is "a political and moral decision to stand with the oppressor against the oppressed."
Lorde's decision is not surprising given her progressive position on women's rights, racial justice and xenophobia. It is perhaps part of a growing trend of stars taking a stand on human rights causes including police brutality, indigenous and environmental rights, and sexual assault.
Her cancellation shatters the myth Israel has created and propagated through years of smear tactics, political intimidation and a well-oiled propaganda machine, that standing for Palestinian rights will kill an international celebrity's career. Lorde, Lauryn Hill, Michael Bennet, Naomi Klein, Brian Eno, Ken Loach, Mira Nair, Roger Waters, Miriam Margolyes, Mark Ruffalo, Viggo Mortensen, and many other conscientious cultural figures are bravely and resoundingly putting this myth to rest.
The Jerusalem Post stated that with Lorde's cancellation, Israel has "lost a generation". It is, in fact, losing the support of a generation, including  younger Jewish-Americans, that is distancing itself from Israel's decades-old system of injustice and brutal oppression against the Palestinian people.
With Lorde's morally consistent position, our world is gaining a principled and engaged generation, undeterred by intimidation and unafraid to heed the calls of the oppressed from Myanmar, to Yemen, to Palestine and well beyond.

Meanwhile,  25 artists and public figures wrote a letter to expresse“horror” over President Donald Trump’s decision to cut funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, saying on Thursday that “The real target of this lethal attack is the Palestinian people themselves,” the group said in a joint statement. “It has been launched with the clear aim of dismantling their rights, by dismantling the institution that is charged with protecting them.”
Trump this month dared to blame the Palestinians for the deadlock of Peace Talks and threatened to cut U.S. funding. Washington subsequently suspended a $65 million payment to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that provides education, health care and other social services to over 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants scattered across the Middle East.
The letter was released by the  Hoping Foundation, a London-based group that assists Palestinian children, as following: We wish to express our horror at the unprecedented attack on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) by US President Donald Trump. This UN institution was set up almost 70 years ago specifically to protect, and provide urgently required humanitarian relief, to Palestinian refugees. So the real target of this lethal attack is the Palestinian people themselves. It has been launched with the clear aim of dismantling their rights, by dismantling the institution that is charged with protecting them.
UNRWA was established in 1949 by the UN General Assembly, to safeguard the Palestinian victims of the 1948 war, after their country and society were destroyed, and the majority made refugees. The United Nations recognises the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people; the same rights afforded to all peoples of the world. We wish to highlight here the fact that Palestinians’ human rights include their internationally recognised rights as a people. These rights are inherent, so cannot be removed by brute force, or alienated from them. 
2017 closed with the US President’s announcement of his intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, ripping up the internationally recognised rights of Palestinians to their land, while attempting to impose a ‘peace plan' that destroys all hope for peace. 2018 opens with President Trump's new attempt to force Palestinians to accept this grossly unfair ‘deal’, by threatening and endangering the international agency responsible for their basic needs as refugees. It is repellent to us that such tactics are being used in the 21st century, in direct contradiction of international law, and to human decency. Demanding the surrender of basic human rights, and from a people without a country to protect them, is truly shocking to witness.
Directly threatened by this American funding cut are millions of Palestinian refugees: more than half a million children in over 700 UN schools; primary health care for mothers, infants, and the sick; those requiring urgent emergency food assistance especially in Gaza and Syria.
We stand for dignity for the most vulnerable, and we stand with Palestinian refugees who are facing a terrible moment. We call on the UN Secretary General to immediately convene a conference that can establish a stable funding system in order to protect UNRWA’s vital work. Peoples across the world have always supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and understand that Palestinian refugees - the most vulnerable - are the key to hope, and to any chance of a peaceful future.
Signatories:Alfonso Cuarón; Andrew O’Hagan; Antony Gormley; Bella Freud; Brian Eno; Claire Foy; David Morrissey; Emma Thompson; Eric Cantona; Esther Freud; Gary Lineker; Gillian Anderson; Hanif Kureishi; Hugh Grant; James Fox; Jemima Khan; Karma Nabulsi; Ken Loach; Laura Bailey; Livia Firth; Mary McCartney; Olivia Wilde; Paul Laverty; Peter Gabriel; Peter Kosminsky; Robert Del Naja; Stephen Frears; Steve Coogan; Tilda Swinton; Tracey Emin; Vanessa Kirby; Viggo Mortensen; Will Self.
#FundUNRWA #DignityIsPriceless / 
On Thursday, Trump said in Davos, Switzerland, that the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive U.S. aid money.
The United States is the largest single donor to UNRWA, and the agency has launched a global fund-raising appeal in hopes of closing the gap. In all, it provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Palestinians.
“We stand for dignity for the most vulnerable, and we stand with Palestinian refugees who are facing a terrible moment,” the statement said. The celebrities called on the U.N. chief to convene a conference to establish a stable funding system for the agency.
Meanwhile, the leaders of 21 international humanitarian groups urged the U.S. to reconsider its decision to withhold the funding to UNRWA, warning of “dire consequences” if funding is cut.
The groups said they are alarmed by the Trump administration’s link between aid and political objectives.
It is good they spoke up. They can also boycott Israel, like those below.

I boycott Israel
Boycott Israel: People and Power

Speaking of Spielberg's zionism, above, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld drew criticism earlier this month when it emerged that while in Israel to perform in Tel Aviv, the famous comedian visited an air force base and took his family to a tourist attraction in the occupied West Bank for ideological and military instruction.
Caliber 3, the Israeli firm that runs what Israeli newspaper Haaretz calls an “anti-terror fantasy camp” boasted about the Seinfeld family’s patronage in a Facebook post on 7 January.
“Finally we are allowed to tell you!! The legendary Jerry Seinfeld and his family were at Caliber 3 during their visit to Israel last week, they came to us for shooting training with displays of combat, Krav Maga [martial arts], assault dogs and lots of Zionism,” the post – which has since been deleted – said, according to Haaretz.
Currently located in the settlement of Efrat, Caliber 3 says it was founded in 2002 by Colonel Sharon Gat and “works in close cooperation” with the Israeli army.
Seinfeld was not the first high-profile American entertainer to receive Israeli military training-as-tourism.
In this June 2017 report, Israel’s Channel 10 noted that the veteran American rock band Aerosmith had recently taken a course with Caliber 3:The report features a photograph of the band’s lead guitarist Joe Perry posing with a machine gun, surrounded by Caliber 3 instructors wearing Israeli army fatigues.
The video also reveals that the training courses include live weapons fire on targets designed to look like Palestinians and simulated armed combat in faux Palestinian villages.
Reinforcing anti-Palestinian narrative
For millions of Palestinians, Israel’s military is an occupying army that prevents their refugee relatives from returning home, crushes almost every aspect of their lives and regularly kills, maims and imprisons them and their children with impunity.
There are, for instance, currently 350 Palestinian children in Israeli military custody.
Israel’s supporters, however, believe that the sectarian army’s seven decades of experience are evidence of its acumen and claim it is one of the most effective and moral fighting forces in the world.
Like Spielberg, Seinfeld’s antics embody a stream of American liberalism that abhors guns and the gun culture at home, but glorifies Israeli militarism and violence whose targets are Palestinians.


Ahed Tamini is still in prison / Ahed continua presa

Empire Files: Israeli Army vet: "I was the terrorist"

Israeli occupation forces have already killed
three 16-year-old unarmed Palestinians in 2018: 
Musab Tamimi
Ameer Abu Musaed,
Ali Qino

There is a checkpoint next to my house. It determines my life’s routine. It is a source of constant worry: whenever my children are on their way home from school or to another place, I’m worried. I want to travel, to sit on the beach, to visit Al Aqsa and my family in Jerusalem. But because of the checkpoints, I can’t. Sometimes it takes hours to cross the checkpoint. I just sit and lean against the grates. — Kharbiyeh Marwani, Hebron.


Political Tourism in Jérusalem


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