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28 DECEMBER 2008

Received by email together with graphic pictures! Israel inflicts horror on a population locked in a concentation camp from which there is no escape and nowhere to hide. One and a half million people tortured by the Israeli government and army in scenes reminiscent of the worst military dictatorships around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries!

From: Sonja Karkar
Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2008 2:53 AM

GAZA'S SKIES ARE BURNING - 155 dead, 200+ wounded and more to come

15 hours ago, Israel launched a massive wave of air strikes on the Gaza Strip. At least 155 Palestinians have been killed; more then 200 Palestinians have been wounded.

Israeli military spokesman Avi Benayahu told army radio that the massive bombardment of Gaza was only just beginning.

Does anyone care? Is this a civilised government - bombarding a people who cannot possibly escape from the prison confines its army controls and after it has starved the population for months and reduced it to absolute penury? Does the 'collateral damage' of women and children justify Israel's security claims ? the world's fourth largest army against a people going crazy from hunger, deprivation and confinement? Will our politicians condemn Israel's attacks on a defenceless people?

The following pictures tell the gruesome story, and without apology, we are showing the graphic details to shake you out of your post-Christmas holiday mood so that you may finally realise that Israel means business and that the Palestinians in Gaza desperately need your help. [The photos are all AFP/Getty Images.]

Without too much effort, you could help create the public outcry needed to stop this madness. Please write emails protesting the attacks to the following Israeli Knesset members:

Prime Minister's Office
Ministry of Defence
Members of the Knesset Presidium Dalia Itzik
Collete Avital,
Mohammad Barakeh
Amnon Cohen
Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
Yitzhak Levi
David Rotem
Otniel Schneller
Yitzhak Ziv

Knesset public complaints department

Gila Rothschild
Chairman, Security and Foreign Affairs Committee Tzachi Hanegbi
Israeli Ambassador to Australia HE Yuval Rotem
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs The Hon Stephen Smith
Australian Ambassador to Israel HE John Larsen Fax: +972 3 6935002

28 DECEMBER 2008

10 JANUARY 2009


Dear friends,

The situation in Gaza has continued to deteriorate and nothing in our original statement has been shown to be unjustified by subsequent events. Only the numbers of dead and injured have changed to around double our figures while official excuses rehearsed by the media appear even more indefensible.

The dire humanitarian crisis caused by the Israeli blockade is now catastrophic with the ongoing military assault.

Accordingly, our campaign to gather signatures for our Statement continues and we invite you to sign in case you have not already done so. You may email us at or use the online form at the IAJV website:

The list currently stands at 160 and may be seen here:

The statement and signatures have generated stories in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald and around the world:

The following article from the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 January 2009 is no longer available online, so the link given in this item has been removed and replaced by the full article.

Australian Jews protest against Israel's action

Andrew West and Jonathan Pearlman

MORE than 100 Australian Jews, including two award-winning novelists and a former federal cabinet minister, have signed a statement condemning Israel's siege of Gaza, heightening tensions within the local Jewish community over the violence.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, meanwhile called yesterday for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza but refused to criticise the Israeli offensive.

Authors Linda Jaivin and Sara Dowse, the environment minister in the Whitlam government, Moss Cass, and the NSW Greens leader, Ian Cohen, are among 120 Australian Jews to accuse the Israeli Government of a "grossly disproportionate military assault on Gaza because it was Israel that violated the fragile truce on November 4, 2008".

Their statement has provoked a backlash from leaders of Australia's main Jewish groups, who argue that Israel is acting in self-defence.

The statement was co-ordinated, but not endorsed, by the group Independent Australian Jewish Voices. It is part of an international outcry from dissident Jewish groups, including J Street in the US and Gush Shalom in Israel.

The signatories agree that Israel has a right to defend itself but say "the assault on the population of Gaza will only inflame hatred of Jews, and of the state of Israel, while doing nothing to protect the lives of Israelis".

They argue that "crude home-made rockets" fired by the Hamas-led government in Gaza have caused relatively few Israeli casualties. "By contrast, Israeli bombardment has caused around 400 deaths and 2000 casualties, including a large proportion of women and children." Other signatories include the controversial anti-Zionist writer Antony Loewenstein, the literary critic Andrew Riemer, and academics Andrew Benjamin, Gavin Kitching, David Goodman and Michele Grossman.

"This is a solid minority of leading Jewish figures who are sick and tired of being told what Jews should think about Israel and are appalled by Israel's crimes in Gaza," Mr Loewenstein said.

But the executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, Colin Rubenstein, accused the signatories of being "indifferent to Israel's suffering" from repeated rocket attacks from Hamas.

"The comments are grossly ill informed, almost stunning in their ignorance, on the history of the ceasefire and its subsequent breakdown, Hamas's demands, Hamas's constitution, Hamas's willingness to negotiate and other matters," Dr Rubenstein said.

"They propose that the population of southern Israel must continue to live under constant rocket bombardment, opposing all practical efforts to actually invoke the right to self-defence the signatories say they recognise."

The head of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, declined to comment directly on the dissenters' statement but also blamed the crisis in Gaza on Hamas, saying it had fired more than 8000 rockets and mortars into Israel since 2001.

"All the civilian casualties are a tragedy. They stem from the fact that Hamas cynically locates its weapons and fighters in the midst of the Palestinian civilian population," he said. In his first comments on the conflict after a 10-day holiday, Mr Rudd appealed for a diplomatic solution that would bring an end to Hamas rocket fire and the Israeli blockade of the territory.

"All Australians are concerned about the humanitarian implications of this conflict. "And it is critical therefore for Israel to meet its humanitarian obligations under international humanitarian law towards the people of Gaza, in ensuring that they have access to basic goods, food and humanitarian assistance and medical supplies," he said.

Signatory and author Linda Jaivin's letter in The Australian is another important indication of dissenting Jewish opinion and the response to efforts at misrepresentation:

There is undoubted difficulty sorting through the welter of conflicting claims during this war. As before, we provide links to just a few sources that we think help give a clearer picture of the situation:

1. Brian Klug of the British Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) has a statement 'Not In My Name' in The Guardian:

Important local Opinion articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age:

2. Sara Dowse, Shocking cynicism of a poisoned homeland:

3. Dennis Altman, Road less travelled

Other important pieces are listed at the bottom of this message.

As our list of signatures grows, we will continue to press the Jewish and wider communities and media to exert pressure on political leaders to make every effort to stop the bloodshed. Apart from the urgent concern for Palestinians, Jews might reflect on the consequences for themselves and their traditional anxieties. Today, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that many of the letters received have been anti-Semitic, an outcome that is just as we predicted. Signing our statement is one modest way of showing that being Jewish does not mean silence or uncritical support for the State of Israel.

We look forward to your support in doing whatever we can to help end the current crisis. Towards this end, we have already received some funding but it is currently insufficient to enable us to realize our plans to bring invited visitors such as leading Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery to Australia, as well as Haaretz journalists Amira Hass and Gideon Levy, as we had indicated. Israeli peace activist and writer Jeff Halper is coming in March.

If you would like to assist, our website has a facility for making donations:
Best wishes for now,
Peter Slezak
Antony Loewenstein
Eran Asoulin
Jim Levy

More articles of interest:

1. Jim Holstun and Joanna Tinker, Israel's fabricated rocket crisis, The Electronic Intifada,

2. Already suffering from shortages of medicines and supplies from the blockade, hospitals in Gaza have been described by one foreign doctor as "drowning in bodies." The CBS News online report below is a rare glimpse of the tragedy when most media have been kept out of Gaza by the Israeli government:

3. Amira Hass in Ha'aretz on infrastructures near breaking point.

4. Saree Makdisi, The Electronic Intifada:

5. 'We're wading in death, blood and amputees. Pass it on \endash shout it out' Azmi Keshawi and James Hider, Times Online:
Independent Australian Jewish Voices
Peter Slezak
James Levy
Antony Loewenstein
Eran Asoulin

7 JANUARY 2009

Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction

By Naomi Klein

This article appeared in the January 2009 edition of The Nation.

It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era." The campaignBoycott, Divestment and Sanctions--BDS for short--was born.

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. "The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves.... This international backing must stop."

Yet many still can't go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. And they simply aren't good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counterarguments.

1. Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis.

The world has tried what used to be called "constructive engagement." It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures--quite the opposite. The weapons and $3 billion in annual aid that the US sends to Israel is only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first non-Latin American country to sign a free-trade deal with Mercosur. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45 percent. A new trade deal with the European Union is set to double Israel's exports of processed food. And on December 8, European ministers "upgraded" the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.

It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's flagship index actually went up 10.7 percent. When carrots don't work, sticks are needed.

2.Israel is not South Africa.

Of course it isn't. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves that BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, back-room lobbying) have failed. And there are indeed deeply distressing echoes: the color-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said that the architecture of segregation that he saw in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007 was "infinitely worse than apartheid."

3. Why single out Israel when the United States, Britain and other Western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the BDS strategy should be tried against Israel is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.

4. Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.

This one I'll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus's work, and none to me. In other words, I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Coming up with this plan required dozens of phone calls, e-mails and instant messages, stretching from Tel Aviv to Ramallah to Paris to Toronto to Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start implementing a boycott strategy, dialogue increases dramatically. And why wouldn't it? Building a movement requires endless communicating, as many in the antiapartheid struggle well recall. The argument that supporting boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at one another across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don't I know that many of those very high-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel's Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, the managing director of a British telecom company, sent an e-mail to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax. "As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company."

When contacted by The Nation, Ramsey said his decision wasn't political. "We can't afford to lose any of our clients, so it was purely commercially defensive."

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it's precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

17 JANUARY 2009

This article, by Michael Backman in the Business Day section of The Age newspaper of 17 January 2009 has created a storm in Melbourne, mainly from the zionists, but also from The Age management, which has gone to extraordinary lengths to distance itself from the views expressed by Backman in his column.

The trouble is, of course, that the article is not anti-semitic, as it has been accused of being, tells the situation as many thousands of us Jews around the world have been saying for ages, and touches all the raw nerves of the zionists because their beloved "democratic" state of Israel has been criticised for being similar to other butchers of human beings around the world.

Backman has not only withdrawn the link to the article from his web pages, he has also shut off the link to his contact details.

The trouble for the zionists is that there are still many of us who manage to think for ourselves, who have web pages on which we are able to publish our views, and to express our thoughts about what Israel has done with its latest assault on Gaza.

Just look at the pictures below this article - not a pretty sight, and not one we ever thought Jews would be capable of doing, after the excesses of Hitler and Stalin and others against the Jews. There are more Jews living outside Israel than in Israel, and if anti-semitism was such a threat to world Jewry, Jews would pack up in droves and flee from their countries to the "safety" of Israel, where all Jews are able to go. So why don't they go there? Just read Margaret Simons diatribe in Crikey and the responses to the discussion on the article to see how many zionists and zionist supporters like the toadies at Fairfax feel about views which criticise Israel - not before time - for its current behaviour against its Palestinian neighbours.

Try also reading Caroline Overington's Blog from the Australian too, followed by this rant from the same paper - Rupert Murdoch to the rescue!!!

And here is the grovelling, snivelling apologia from the Fairfax media to the zionist lobby in Melbourne - no wonder that the Fairfax media are going downhill - they are a shadow of their former selves, and hopefully, before long, they will disappear from view altogether!:


A column by Michael Backman headlined "Israelis living high on US expense account" (BusinessDay, 17/1/09) was published in error. The Age does not in any way endorse the views of the columnist, apologises for the distress the column caused to many readers, particularly in the Jewish community, and regrets publication of the column.

It is the policy of The Age to correct all significant errors as soon as possible. The Age is committed to presenting information fairly and accurately

OH, BY THE WAY, the article in question has a different heading from the one quoted in the APOLOGY! The heading below may have been the online heading, but the print edition had the heading shown below this one:

So, which is correct?

Israelis are living high on US expense account

Israel must learn to live with its neighbours

By Michael Backman
The Age
January 17, 2009

THERE'S a memorable scene in the Stephen Spielberg film ‘Munich’. After the 1972 Munich Olympic Games killings of Israeli athletes, prime minister Golda Meir tells confidants she wants to show the plotters that killing Jews "is expensive". She then organises for the assassination of each of the plotters.

Today, it is Israel itself that has become expensive. Most directly, it is very expensive to the US, which subsidises and arms it.

But Israel's utter inability to transform the Palestinians from enemies into friends has imposed big costs on us all. We have paid for Israel's failure with bombs on London public transport, bombs in bars in Bali, and even the loss of the World Trade Centre towers in New York.

It is not true that these outrages have occurred because certain Islamic fundamentalists don't like Western lifestyles and so plant bombs in response. Rather, it is Israel — or more correctly the treatment of the Palestinians — that is at the nub of these events.

The world's Muslims have no head: no overarching caliph or pope equivalent exists — no single power source with whom to negotiate. Instead, Islam is remarkably decentralised. So, how extraordinary that Israel and the West have managed to unite this headless, diverse, dispersed grouping without any institutional framework, around just one issue — anger at the treatment of the Palestinians.

Otherwise dispersed groups of Muslims do seem to feel for one another in a way that Christians and others do not.

In this respect, the international Islamic community is like a body: kick it in the leg and the rest of the body feels it. Kick it hard enough and the entire body will be energised to defend itself. Pictures of distraught Gazan mothers beside the mutilated bodies of their children are circulating right now among Muslim communities worldwide. It is pictures like these that make them want to do something.

Consider Malaysia. Every citizen of this outpost of Islam has printed in his or her passport that the passport is not valid for Israel. And given that Malaysians are not allowed to hold dual citizenship, this essentially means that every Malaysian citizen, including the 40% who are not Muslims, are banned from visiting Israel.

"When will Malaysia recognise Israel?" I once asked the then finance minister. "Once Israel treats the Palestinians better," was his reply. How would he determine that? "When the Palestinians tell us," he said. It is not Israel's right to exist that is at issue.

The enmity many Muslims now feel for Israel has nothing to do with religion. The historical persecutors of the Jews have been Christians — their punishment for the death of Jesus. Jews and Muslims have lived in peace for hundreds of years in many parts of the Islamic world. When Catholic Spain and Portugal expelled its Jews, the Ottoman sultan in Istanbul invited them in. It is the Palestinian issue that has ruined all this.

Of course, today Israel must defend itself. If the residents of Bendigo started firing rockets into Melbourne you would expect Melbourne to retaliate. But what must Melbourne have done to Bendigo to make them do such a thing? Constantly slapping an opponent in the face, kicking it down to its knees, and watching it struggle in the dirt will not teach the opponent to love or respect you. It teaches only hatred.

Persecuting people does not weaken them. Israel should know that. The Jews have been persecuted for centuries. It didn't destroy them but gave them the impetus to survive.

One characteristic that is common among persecuted groups is a strong investment in education — when people's physical wealth is in danger of destruction from war and persecution one store of wealth that stays with individuals even when they must flee as refugees is education. It explains why such groups often insist on their own schools — education is too important to be entrusted to others.

Hamas did not enjoy the support of all the people of Gaza. It does now. Why does Israel keep getting it wrong?

Trekking in Nepal is fashionable among young Israelis. So much so that many shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara have signs in Hebrew. But once you get on the trekking circuit and speak with local Nepalese guides and guesthouse operators you soon discover how disliked the Israelis are. Many guesthouses in this poor country will even tell Israeli trekking groups that they are full rather than accept them. This has nothing to do with religion or politics: Nepalese people are some of the warmest, most hospitable in the world. Rather, they say that the young Israelis are rude, arrogant, and argue over trifling amounts of money even though they clearly have means.

Israel needs to change. The Parsees of India might provide a model. The Parsees are a very tiny, very rich ethnic and religious minority. They own perhaps most of the land in central Mumbai as well as the country's largest conglomerate. And yet ordinary Indians admire and respect them. Violence against them is unthinkable.

How have they achieved this? They are not flashy or arrogant. Their overriding characteristic is a deep interest in the welfare of others. They have established hospitals, libraries, schools, museums and many other institutions and, most importantly, not for the Parsee community exclusively but for everyone. So the Parsees have peace and the Israelis do not.

And more from Crikey on 23 January 2009 on the Michael Backman article above:

Luke Hughs writes: Re. "How does The Age publish a column 'in error'? Here's how" (yesterday, item 6) Interesting to note that the introduction to Age columnist Michael Backman's own website makes the noble claim that "truth belongs to the people; not to governments. And there is only one way to write the truth." And yet Backman has in the last 24 hours removed all active links to his offending article about Israel and the Jewish people, as well as his own contact details.

Does Backman not have the courage of his own well-advertised convictions? And, curious too, that the mysterious Wikipedia contributor "Migchin" seems to have created the laudatory Backman Wikipedia page, and is religious (so to speak) about amending others' contributions. It seems Migchin is an active editor/contributor to only one Wikipedia page -- Backman's.

Alan Kennedy writes:

In all her pieces on Michael Backman's column in the Age, a column the thought police have now eradicated from our cyber memory banks, Margaret Simons proceeds from the position that the column should not have run. Her proposition is that inexperienced people allowed it to run and they should have censored it.

Now, if you don't accept that central proposition you see the matter in a different light. I, unlike many, have read the column and apart from some clumsiness about Israeli backpackers, which he never fully explained -- although on her blog Margaret Simons was able to provide a possible source for his views -- it was a well constructed column.

It was not anti-semitic and all the anti-semitic constrictions placed on it by the Jewish lobby in Australia and cheered on by The Australian are in their heads only. The controversy here is that it is controversial that the column ran. It was just part of the tapestry in this big issue.

The controversy is that The Age felt pressured to apologise and that it pulled the column from its archives. Backman's own website which contained the column was cyber attacked and he had had to pull the column down. This is the obscenity in all this.

18 JANUARY 2009

The following photos and captions were received from Mamdouh Habashi, the Egyptian socialist on 18 January 2009









24 JANUARY 2009

After seeing the above pictures, I am not sure why anyone should feel the need to apologise to the Melbourne or any other so-called Jewish community - and by the way, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV) do NOT speak for all Jews and have no right to claim that they do!

Having said that, the two items below need to be responded to and I will do so by writing my own open letter about the whole issue.

The two items below, an article in The Age newspaper on 24 January 2009 and Michael Backman's letter in the same paper on the same day are both ridiculous.

Writer apologises for 'any hurt' to Jewish community

Jewel Topsfield
January 24, 2009

COLUMNIST Michael Backman has apologised to the Jewish community for a controversial opinion piece that blamed Israel's treatment of the Palestinians for the Bali and London bombings and the World Trade Centre attacks.

But Backman, a London-based business writer, denied he was anti-Semitic and said he believed Israel had the "absolute right to exist".

His column, which appeared in last Saturday's Age, made claims about Israeli travellers and, separately, suggested ways in which Israel needed to change.

The Jewish community responded furiously, saying the column was anti-Semitic, racist, malicious and wrong.

In a letter to The Age, Jewish Community Council of Victoria president John Searle and Zionist Council of Victoria president Danny Lamm said such commentary incited violence and hatred against Jews.

The Age apologised on Tuesday for the distress the column caused many readers, saying it was published in error and the newspaper did not endorse the views of the columnist.

In a letter to Mr Searle and Dr Lamm, Backman apologised for "any hurt and distress" caused and said he now saw that some of the "forms of words used" did not adequately explain what he intended to say.

Backman said he had a deep interest in, and respect for, Jewish culture, to the point where he named his son Shimon after Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"The accusation of anti-Semitism is itself hurtful and offensive," Mr Backman said.

Mr Searle said he had trouble accepting that Backman was incapable of choosing the words to portray what he wanted to say after many years as a writer.

Dr Lamm said he was not satisfied with Backman's apology, which did not address the problems the column had created.

"The content of his argument, blaming Israel for everything in the world, has not been withdrawn," he said.

The Age's editor-in-chief, Paul Ramadge, said the newspaper recognised immediately that the publication of the column was an error and it responded appropriately by running the apology.

"It has been suggested that, because it published such a column, The Age is itself anti-Semitic," Ramadge said. "This is a false charge. This newspaper has a long and proud history of reporting on Israel and the Middle East with fairness, sensitivity and an awareness of the complexities of the issues."

I'm no anti-Semite: Michael Backman

I AM writing about my column published in last Saturday's Age (BusinessDay 17/1) which has caused much consternation among members of the Jewish community. My main interest in writing the column was to demonstrate how Israel's military action in Gaza was playing out in Muslim communities, particularly in Asia. I can now see that some of the forms of words used did not adequately explain what I intended to say. Most particularly, they have allowed some to read into the column sentiments that I did not intend and which I do not believe.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any hurt and distress that this has caused. I would also like to counter one accusation against me: that I am anti-Semitic. The reality is very different.

I believe that Israel has the absolute right to exist and that that the Jewish diaspora is one of the world's great and most talented diasporas. At a personal level, I have a deep interest in and respect for Jewish culture to the point where I named my son Shimon after Shimon Peres. The accusation of anti-Semitism is hurtful and offensive.

As with many of my columns, I fully expected some to disagree with the thrusts of my arguments, even if they had been expressed more clearly, but the threats and personal abuse that I have received — some of which have been expressed in terms of indescribable filth — have been shocking and unprecedented.

My writing style is robust and I like to take a stand. I fully expect people to disagree with me. I feel that this sort of debate is healthy in any Western democracy, and in co-operation with The Age, the column has in the past generated many interesting debates and discussions.

On this occasion, I do understand that an injudicious use of words and themes has caused upset in the Jewish community and for that I can only apologise.

Michael Backman, London


The first part of this letter is in response to Michael Backman's letter of apology in The Age newspaper.

There is absolutely no reason why you should not have written what you did in your article. Views expressed there were very much what many of us Jews around the world think about the Israel-Palestine situation, but many of us, including myself, do not have forums for our views, because papers such as The Age and the Australian Jewish News (aka the Israeli zionist Times) refuse to publish what we write. Fortunately, until such time as the federal government sees fit to try and censor the web (and it is trying very hard at the moment, and will only succeed in making a bigger fool of itself than it already has!!) we are able to put our views into public arenas such as our web pages and blogs, and our views will reach an audience, even if a somewhat limited one.

The fact that we think as we do does not make us anti-semitic, nor does it make us self-hating Jews, as so many of the zionist lobby and their friends like to call us. If anything they are self-haters who are in effect in a closet of non-admission about the failings of the Israeli state. We do not live in denial about our Jewish families, parentage and ancestry and we are not ashamed of our families and friends. In my own family there were zionists of many persuasions who all believed that it was necessary for the Jews to have their own homeland so that they would no longer be persecuted.

Anti-semitism abounds everywhere, together with all sorts of other hates of other groups, and I belong to two of them, the Jewish group and the gay group, and both of them are still persecuted, discriminated against, bashed and murdered in whichever countries they happen to be living . However, you will note with interest that thousands of Jews are still living in Australia and not packing up their bags to go and live in the Jewish state of Israel, and you have to ask yourself why.

Now, Michael, let's take one of your early statements which suggests that you have upset members of the Jewish community because of the way you worded your first statements about Israel, Gaza and Muslim communities. What you said was correct and was in no way offensive or inaccurate. The people who think otherwise are those who think they have a right to speak as one voice for the Australian Jewish communities. Well, they don't have that right and we don't speak with one voice. So, an unnecessary apology.

The next accusation of your being an anti-semite is just the typical smear used by the zionists when they object to Israel being exposed for what it is - a rogue state like many others around us in the world. There is nothing in your article to suggest that you are anti-semitic, and it is objectionable of them to even have suggested it. However, before you decided to call your son Shimon after Peres, you should perhaps have read more widely on Peres and his part in the Israel of today. Perhaps Chomsky, Finkelstein, Rose, Loewenstein and others would have enlightened you about the people who have been involved with government in Israel for the last 60 years. You may then have decided on another name, unless you just happened to have liked that one.

Of course there will be people who take exception to the thrust of some of your arguments, which is what one would expect in a so-called free and open society in which we supposedly live. However, there will always be those who are unable to argue their points and resort to death threats, filth, abuse and other nasty behaviours. It is certainly very difficult to live with such unpleasantness because of one's views, and I trust that if you have had some serious threats that you have informed the police, either in Australia or the UK or both.

Ultimately the truth will prevail, but in the case of Israel and Palestine it is taking even longer, perhaps, tha it did in South Africa, the country in which I lived for 50 years. Apartheid there came to an end of sorts in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela, but apartheid in Israel-Palestine continues unabated and the world sits on its hands and supports Israel while mouthing platitudes about the "situation in the middle east!".

Robust debate is necessary, words do not kill, your words and themes were not injudicious, and you certainly do not need to apologise. It is they who should do the apologising for their disgraceful and unpardonable behavior. I hope you will not be deterred by this epsiode and will continue to write on this topic which so urgently needs attention from the world's leaders to help close another chapter in the behaviour of what should be democratic countries but in which some of the basic skills of democracy are sadly absent.

Now we come to The Age and its subservience to the JCCV and the ZCV who assume they speak for all Jews in Victoria and possibly all Jews in Australia. The Age newspaper has been on a slippery slope for some time editorially speaking, ever since Michael Gawenda sat in the chair, and this latest episode is as disgraceful as any other of their recent past behaviours in relation to events here and around the world.

As an inveterate letter-writer to newspapers -something I have been doing for the last 60 years - I always hope that my letters will be published. However, a search through the letters archives at The Age will reveal very few of my letters. Thank goodness for my web pages and my blog - I get to express my views, and they get printed without being censored, or not printed at all!

Jewel Topsfield of The Age reports that "The Jewish community responded furiously, saying the column was anti-Semitic, racist, malicious and wrong.

In a letter to The Age, Jewish Community Council of Victoria president John Searle and Zionist Council of Victoria president Danny Lamm said such commentary incited violence and hatred against Jews.

Just notice the tone of the statement - "-----such commentary incited violence and hatred against Jews". Since when has there NOT been violence and hatred against Jews. Certainly in the South Africa in which I grew up from 1926 till 1978, and despite the fact that Israel and South Africa worked together to develop a nuclear device, something which Israel still strenuously denies, anti-semitism was rife and continues to this day in both black and white communities. In the 30 years I have lived in Australia I have been involved with anti-semitic behaviour which has had NOTHING whatever to do with Israel and its actions in the middle east. So what is different?

Also, strangely enough, despite the fact of Israel's existence, South Africa and Australia continue to house over 100,000 Jews in each country. If the anti-semitism was so dangerous to the lives of the Jews in these countries, why do they continue to live there, when Israel is open to all Jews at all times?

John Searle and Danny Lamm and others have apparently contemplated suing The Age for publishing Backman's article. They have already made fools of themselves with their intemperate explosions. How much worse if they actually decided on legal action! And, too, Searle and Lamm continue to live in Melbourne, do they not?

Topfield's article concludes with these statements from The Age's editor-in-chief, Paul Ramadge, who said "the newspaper recognised immediately that the publication of the column was an error and it responded appropriately by running the apology.

"It has been suggested that, because it published such a column, The Age is itself anti-Semitic," Ramadge said. "This is a false charge. This newspaper has a long and proud history of reporting on Israel and the Middle East with fairness, sensitivity and an awareness of the complexities of the issues."

How pathetic - The Age has SELDOM in recent years reported on the middle east with fairness - their bias has ALWAYS been in favour of Israel, and the Palestians are ALWAYS shown in the worst possible light. Fairness? Not in my life time!!



An update on this open letter records that the Israeli Ambassador was addressing a gathering a few days ago, and saw a tv camera pointing in his direction. He ordered the cameraperson to stop recording immediately!



This open letter was published in the New Matilda journal and some of the abusive posts it attracted as responses are really quite alarming, and shows there is still a long way to go in the propaganda war:

27 Jan 2009

An Open Letter To The Israeli Ambassador

By Michael Brull
yuval rotem
michael brull
Gaza Strip

The Israeli Government is in no position to lecture us on what free speech means, writes Michael Brull

Dear Mr Rotem,

I have to say that the arrogance of your article in The Age, arguing that the paper should not have published a piece by Hamas official Khalid Meshaal left me stunned. Even by the standards of your Government it was quite something. Do you really think that you are entitled, as Israel's ambassador to Australia, to tell The Age who it should and should not be publishing?

And yet, as I read on, you climbed to even greater heights of audacity. You managed to brag about Israel's free press and democratic credentials, while calling on our press in Australia to restrict its freedoms — which coming from you amounts to an order from a foreign administration. Perhaps, as a representative of Israel's Government, you've become used to the idea of restricting critical scrutiny of Israel's actions.?

Of course, the arrogant attitude of your Government towards those who dare criticise Israel's actions is nothing new. I haven't forgotten when your Government decided that it would not allow academic Norman Finkelstein into Israel. Your free press did manage to speak out about that, but your demonstration of contempt for freedom of opinion was surprising in its brazenness. And there was more to come.

Not so long ago, I read in your press about Israel's decision not to admit the United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied territories, Princeton professor Richard Falk. Your Government took this decision on the grounds that Falk thought Israel's human rights record was abysmal. This is the kind of reasoning that makes perfect sense to military dictatorships around the world, and does rather compromise your attempts to lecture us on how to conduct a mature political debate.

But your Government's habitual arrogance, expressed through its contempt for international opinion, went even further. Surely you recall that foreign journalists, desperate to get into Gaza to find out what was happening during Israel's onslaught, were prevented from doing so by Israel's army. As the Yedioth Ahronot newspaper noted, even relatively conservative foreign journalists were forced to see the parallels between Israel's attitude to the press and that of Burma and Zimbabwe.

Mr Rotem, we know that your country seeks to restrict political dissent. Your own free press, which you're so proud of, has been deploring the crackdowns on those who wanted to protest the latest series of Israeli atrocities. (Are you also proud of arresting over 700 anti-war protestors?)

We've noticed that your country has decided to ban both of the Arab parties currently in the Knesset from running in the next elections. As Haaretz's editorial on the matter noted, the petition to ban Balad came from the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Your Government has repeatedly welcomed its head, Avigdor Lieberman into cabinet posts. But while you admonish us for publishing what you call Meshaal's "hate-filled rhetoric" — and readers can judge that piece for themselves — you apparently see no problem with Lieberman's views — which include promoting the further expulsion of Palestinians from Israel - getting plenty of play in your press.

With that kind of double-standard in your attitude, who are you, Mr Rotem, to lecture us on what our press should and should not print? What do you think Australia has to learn from Israel on this matter? I'm actually glad you were ridiculous enough to claim that Meshaal "sought to inflame anti-Semitic rhetoric". This is a textbook case of calling someone's argument "anti-Semitic" simply to demonise them and to avoid engaging with what they are saying. (In this case, it's a little depressing that this is the best you can do — after all, the man you were attacking is the head of an organisation whose founding charter cites "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion".)

But the problem isn't that Meshaal's article was anti-Semitic, which it wasn't. It's that he plainly described the suffering of the Gazans, which ordinary people find shocking. And for good reason.

You claim to be appalled that The Age would run an op-ed by one of the leaders of a "terrorist organisation", one that would dare commit such crimes as "aim rockets at civilian targets", and one which "stages attacks on civilians". Do you think we're stupid? Do you think that we haven't noticed your crimes against the Palestinians?

Consider, for example, what Amnesty International has discovered, now that you've finally allowed them into Gaza. Their fact-finding team says that "previously busy neighbourhoods have been flattened into moonscapes ... power lines have been torn down, and water mains ripped up. Gaza's infrastructure is now in dire condition." The summary of the preliminary investigations goes on to note that "[s]chools, medical facilities and UN buildings all took direct hits from the Israeli army's indiscriminate shelling [italics added]. Artillery shells for use on conventional battlefields, not for pinpoint targets, have been fired into dense residential areas."

Amnesty also noted that the UNRWA Field Office in Gaza City was shelled on 15 January, destroying "[w]arehouses full of food, medicine and other humanitarian aid", in just one of the reported instances of Israel's use of white phosphorous ammunition. Amnesty says that white phosphorous should never be used in civilian areas, but it was not only used to destroy tons of aid supplies, but also in an attack on al-Quds hospital in Gaza.

Of course, because you didn't let journalists into Gaza while you were bombing it, we've only been able to get a fragmented idea of your crimes there so far. But we've already heard enough stories of your bombing civilian areas, of your soldiers shooting Palestinians waving white flags, and of other atrocities. Are we meant to forget about the hundreds of Palestinian children you've killed over the last few weeks? Are we meant to forget about the shameless and inconsistent apologetics you've offered for the few atrocities that have attracted the scrutiny of the Western media?

Hamas did kill three Israeli civilians during your campaign of bombing and invading Gaza. Yet your crimes against the Palestinians are literally over a hundred times worse, if we only count murders of civilians through the use of indiscriminate weapons. Meanwhile Israel's crimes against the Palestinians living under occupation for decades stretch on into many other areas, and Israel's appalling siege on Gaza has made this latest onslaught particularly grim.

Mr Rotem, I find your views grossly offensive. But I support your right to print them in any paper willing to publish your vulgar propaganda. The more the better, since it is in this realm of free, open debate that your Government is weakest. And all the tanks in the world won't change that.

Yours Sincerely,
Michael Brull


Time now to boycott Israel

Patrick Bond reports on new pressures to free Palestine

(Patrick Bond is the Director of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Yesterday’s decision by dockworkers to boycott the handling of Israeli imports is of enormous importance, and will prod more Durban citizens – including academics and cultural activists - to also raise concerns about institutional linkages that give the Israeli state legitimacy.

On Sunday, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union aim to repeat last year’s feat of turning back a huge ship symbolizing and contributing to oppression. A protest with Congress of SA Trade Unions president Sdumo Dlamini will be held at the mouth of the port that day at 10am.

Recall last April that the contents of the Chinese ship “An Yue Jiang” were destined for Robert Mugabe’s army, including three million bullets and sophisticated weaponry. The ship was repelled from a series of southern African ports by dockworkers once local Anglican Bishop Rubin Philip raised the alarm.

The ship scheduled to arrive Sunday, the “Johanna Russ” (flying an Antigua flag), is owned by M.Dizengoff and Co., an established “pioneer of the modern era of shipping business in the Middle East” and shipping agent for the ironically named Zim Israel Navigation Company. It probably does not have bullets in the hold, but does bring revenues to the Israeli economy.

The anti-apartheid movement’s success was due in part to economic pain inflicted on the racist state and English-speaking businesses by sanctions, leading to a partial break in August 1985 immediately following PW Botha’s “Rubicon” speech here in Durban. That split in turn led to a nine-year process of power transfer and democratization.

Can local civil society activists promote a similar non-violent democratization of Israel/Palestine, by breaking relations between Israel and Durban importers? The SA Zionist Federation’s Bev Goldman warned the Daily News last week, “A boycott would undermine relations between Israel and SA and result in a negative impact on the economy.”

An end to such relations is what the Cosatu demands, even if they themselves sacrifice some jobs in the process, on behalf of Gaza Palestinians suffering what are called by leading United Nations officials – and will probably also be known in The Hague International Criminal Court - as Israel’s crimes against humanity.

Cosatu and the Palestine Support Committee remind us of the long history in which injustice travels to docks: “In 1963, just four years after the Anti-Apartheid Movement was formed, Danish dock workers refused to offload a ship with South African goods. When the ship docked in Sweden, Swedish workers followed suit. Dock workers in Liverpool and, later, in the San Francisco Bay Area also refused to offload South African goods.”

Last week, Western Australian dockworkers announced a similar move against Israeli shipping.

And in spite of what is known as “The Israel Lobby” that influences Washington’s foreign policy, more than 300 US academics pledged an Israel boycott last month, restarting a movement that has traveled from Britain to Canada with mixed results.

On January 14, the Israel Lobby – especially the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) - was stupidly misnamed by SA’s deputy foreign affairs minister Fatima Hajaig as “Jews” (there are plenty of right-wing Christian zealots who also support Israel’s barbaric policies): “If Jewish money controls their country, you cannot expect anything else.”

Though she obviously should have used the adjective “Zionist” not “Jew”, Hajaig’s basic point is correct. Assuming she corrects the phraseology, she should not face discipline in the Human Rights Commission, especially if Hajaig can turn around SA foreign policy towards consistent solidarity with the oppressed, in view of Pretoria’s “talk left, walk right” tendency and abominable recent record of oppression-nurture in the UN Security Council.

After all, as the two leading experts on the Israel Lobby – the University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer and Harvard’s Stephen Walt - pointed out in the London Review of Books, both Fortune magazine and the National Journal rated AIPAC in second place “in the Washington ‘muscle rankings’.”

How did AIPAC build its muscles? Just like Hajaig says: with money. According to Mearsheimer and Walt, “Its success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it. Money is critical to US elections (as the scandal over the lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s shady dealings reminds us), and AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the many pro-Israel political action committees. Anyone who is seen as hostile to Israel can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to his or her political opponents.”

As Mearsheimer and Walt conclude, “The bottom line is that AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress… The Lobby’s influence causes trouble on several fronts. It increases the terrorist danger that all states face – including America’s European allies. It has made it impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Campaigning against apartheid for many years, many of us in international civil society found sanctions and divestment a useful tool under these conditions, so as to reduce the monetary incentive for ongoing racism.

The parallel is real. Remarks Harvard law professor Duncan Kennedy on the past month’s carnage: “It is important to understand the 1,300 Palestinian casualties, including 400 children as well as many, many women, versus 13 Israeli casualties, as typical of a particular kind of ‘police action’ that Western colonial powers and Western ‘ethnocratic settler regimes’ like ours in the US, Canada, Australia, Serbia and particularly apartheid South Africa, have historically undertaken to convince resisting native populations that unless they stop resisting they will suffer unbearable death and deprivation.”

“What is to be done?”, asks Kennedy. “You might consider some small step, perhaps just a contribution to humanitarian relief for Gaza, or e-mailing the White House, or something more, like advocating for Harvard to divest.”

Fully aware of the role that progressive white SA academics played in the anti-apartheid struggle, including divestment/sanctions advocacy, we at the UKZN Centre for Civil Society are deep in debate on this matter.

Although CCS staff have conflicting views, four of our senior academics – myself and honorary professors Alan Fowler (former International Society for Third Sector Research president), Adam Habib (University of Johannesburg Deputy Vice Chancellor) and Dennis Brutus – issued a statement this week to confirm our own concern about the Ben Gurion University Israeli Centre for Third Sector Research.

Our attempts last week to suggest that an international conference they are holding in Israel next month introduce meaningful Palestinian inputs on the incursion into Gaza were unsuccessful, so we simply cannot endorse attendance.

On the cultural front there is a similar debate. Three weeks ago, Israeli ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg visited the Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf, where protesters from the Action Group for Palestine protesters demanded that the Musho festival cease Israeli-sponsored events.

The lead here comes from the UKZN Centre for Creative Arts, which since 2001 has not accepted Israeli state cultural funding, according to the CCA’s Monica Rorvik.

It may be that some Israeli academic and cultural activities promote Palestinian liberation, and deserve exemption, although Brutus suggests a full boycott.

Regardless, the higher consciousness civil society activists seek by raising the ethics of SA-Israeli relationships can do some good. Just witness last week’s Mercury letter from well-known conservationist Ian Player in reference to the non-violent demonstration that Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe squelched against last month’s Dusi canoe marathon: “I cannot imagine that a single canoeist would have taken umbrage at the Qadi people making a silent protest [against land dispossession] by standing on the banks.”

I read the letter to Qadi leader O’Brien Gcabashe on the phone and he replied, “We are going back to the next Dusi marathon at the Inanda Dam this Friday – fewer than 15 of us so as to not violate the Gatherings Act – and we expect the police to let us exercise our constitutional right to protest this time.”

Such a gesture - like boycotting Israeli economic, sporting, academic and cultural activities in solidarity with Palestinians – may, to borrow Player’s words, “highlight the critical importance of resolving their plight.”

(Patrick Bond directs the UKZN Centre for Civil Society.)

Hi all,

This is one of the latest postings from Links - - with a statement (unsourced) from COSATU concerning the decisions of waterside workers in Durban to ban unloading an Israeli ship this Sunday, 8 February. That is exciting news!

It appears this action is in part inspired by the resolutions adopted by the WA MUA at a monthly meeting that has been reported on this list. You have just got to love international solidarity and the power of the internet!

These resolutions are to be debated at our MUA state conference in two weeks time. There will be hundreds of MUA delegates from around the state and nationally, national officials and delegations from other unions in Australia and internationally. A very big conference considering the WA MUA is only a fighting force of 3,000 in this state. This is a far more authoritative body than our monthly meetings.

We are excited about these developments in South Africa. Both COSATU and SATAWU are sending delegations to our conference and it will certainly strengthen our hand in launching a BDS campaign through the Australian union movement.

And, of course, we aren't frightened about belting the boss even in this current economic climate.

Comradely, Jammo

South African dockworkers announce ban on Israeli ship; Palestinians salute decision


The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) launch Week of Action for Palestine supported by the Young Communist League and other progressive organisations February 3, 2009 --

In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, February 8, 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

The pledge by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe.

Last year, Durban dock workers had refused to offload a shipment of arms that had arrived from China and was destined for Zimbabwe to prop up the Mugabe regime and to intensify the repression against the Zimbabwean people. Now, says SATAWU’s General Secretary Randall Howard, the union’s members are committing themselves to not handling Israeli goods.

SATAWU’s action on Sunday will be part of a proud history of worker resistance against apartheid. In 1963, just four years after the Anti-Apartheid Movement was formed, Danish dock workers refused to offload a ship with South African goods. When the ship docked in Sweden, Swedish workers followed suit. Dock workers in Liverpool and, later, in the San Francisco Bay Area also refused to offload South African goods. South Africans, and the South African working class in particular, will remain forever grateful to those workers who determinedly opposed apartheid and decided that they would support the anti-apartheid struggle with their actions.

Last week, Western Australian members of the Maritime Union of Australia resolved to support the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and have called for a boycott of all Israeli vessels and all vessels bearing goods arriving from or going to Israel.

This is the legacy and the tradition that South African dock workers have inherited, and it is a legacy they are determined to honour, by ensuring that South African ports of entry will not be used as transit points for goods bound for or emanating from certain dictatorial and oppressive states such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Israel.

COSATU, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Young Communist League and a range of other organisations salute the principled position taken by these workers. We also take this opportunity to salute the millions of workers all over the world who have openly condemned and taken decisive steps to isolate apartheid Israel, a step that should send shockwaves to its arrogant patrons in the United States who foot the bill for Israel’s killing machine. We call on other workers and unions to follow suit and to do all that is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until Palestine is free.

We also welcome statements by various South African Jews of conscience who have dissociated themselves from the genocide in Gaza. We call on all South Africans to ensure that none of our family members are allowed to join the Israeli Occupation Forces’ killing machine.

In celebration of the actions of SATAWU members with regard to the ship from Israel, and in pursuance of the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and our call on the South African government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel, this coalition of organisations has declared a week of action beginning on Friday, February 6, 2009. The actions will be organised under the theme: FREE PALESTINE! ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL! Activities that have already been confirmed for this week will include:

• Friday, February 6: A protest outside the offices of the South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, 2 Elray Street, Raedene, off Louis Botha Avenue. Both these organisations unquestioningly supported the recent Israeli attacks against Gaza, and supported the massacre of civilians and the attacks on schools, mosques, ambulances and UN refugee centres. Protesters will be addressed by, among others, SATAWU General Secretary Randall Howard, and ex-minister Ronnie Kasrils. Protest starts at 14:00.
• Friday, February 6: A picket outside parliament in Cape Town. COSATU members and solidarity activists will be joined by a number of members of parliament. Picket starts at 09:30.
• Friday, February 6: A mass rally in Actonville, Benoni, at the Buzme Adab Hall. The rally will be addressed by, among others, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, PSC spokesperson Salim Vally, South African Council of Churches General Secretary Eddie Makue, and ex-minister Ronnie Kasrils. Rally starts at 19:30.
• Sunday, February 8: A protest at the Durban Harbour mouth, off Victoria Embankment [Margaret Mncadi Avenue]. Protesters will be addressed by, among others, COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini. Protest starts at 10:00.
• Sunday, February 8: A mass rally in Cape Town at Vygieskraal Rugby Stadium. The rally will be addressed by, among others, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, and Allan Boesak. Rally starts at 14:30.
Patrick Craven (COSATU national spokesperson) 0828217456 Bongani Masuku (COSATU international officer) 0794996419 Naeem Jeenah (PSC) 0845742674 Melissa Hole (PSC) 0739060017 Salim Vally (PSC) 082 802 5936 Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) Salutes South African Dock Workers' Action! Palestine, February 3, 2009 --

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) warmly salutes the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), a member of COSATU, for its decision today not to offload an Israeli ship that is due to arrive in Durban, South Africa, on 8 February. Coming weeks after the massive Israeli massacre in Gaza, this distinguished expression by SATAWU of effective solidarity with the Palestinian people in general, and with Gaza in particular, sets a historic precedent that reminds us of the first such action during the apartheid era taken by Danish dock workers in 1963, when they decided not to offload ships carrying South African products, triggering a similar boycott in Sweden, England and elsewhere.

Last week, endorsing the Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the Maritime Union of Australia (Western Australia) resolved to boycott all Israeli vessels and all vessels bearing goods arriving from or going to Israel. A few weeks before, Greek dock workers threatened to block a ship carrying weapons to Israel during its criminal war on Gaza. Those actions, together with the SATAWU decision today, will most likely usher in a new, qualitatively advanced phase of BDS that goes well beyond symbolism. We call on dock workers' unions around the world to endorse similar sanctions against Israeli or Israel-bound cargo.

Support in South Africa for the Palestinian struggle against Israel's colonial and apartheid policies and its war crimes is reaching new heights, with COSATU, the South African Council of Churches, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Young Communist League and many grassroots organisations and networks leading diverse forms of BDS campaigns, informed by the long and ultimately successful struggle of South Africans against apartheid. The Palestinian and global BDS movement against Israel is indebted to the people of South Africa for their inspiring and morale-boosting solidarity.

If Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity, the fast spreading BDS movement around the world has passed the test with flying colors. In fact, worldwide support for BDS against Israel in reaction to its war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem, has shown that international civil society fully recognises that Israel must be held accountable before international law and must pay a heavy price for its atrocities and ongoing willful destruction of Palestinian society.

In this context, the decision by each of Venezuela, Bolivia, Qatar and Mauritania to sever diplomatic ties with Israel was a particularly commendable way of challenging Israel's impunity. The shift from traditional, mostly symbolic, solidarity to BDS in Norway, Sweden, Britain, Ireland, Turkey, Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Spain, USA, Brazil, New Zealand, among others, is a resounding endorsement of effective, morally and politically sound action to end Israel's multi-faceted oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine and to bring about a just peace to Palestine and the entire region.

The Palestinian civil society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, launched in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions and organisations, offers the vehicle for all people of conscience, organisations and institutions around the globe to join the collective effort to reaffirm the primacy of international law, human rights and dignity. To replicate the strength and effectiveness of the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, the BNC urges civil society institutions and every concerned citizen around the world to:

• Integrate BDS in every struggle for justice and human rights, by adopting wide, context-sensitive and sustainable boycotts of Israeli products, companies, academic and cultural institutions, and sports groups, similar to the actions taken against apartheid South Africa;
• Ensure national and multinational corporations are held responsible and accordingly sanctioned for profiteering from Israel's occupation and other violations of human rights and international law;
• Work towards cancelling and blocking free trade and other preferential agreements with Israel, including the EU-Israel and the Mercosur-Israel trade agreements; and
• Pressure governments to impose a direct and indirect arms embargo against Israel that guarantees end-user compliance with international law and human rights principles. Our "South Africa" moment has arrived. The time for BDS is now!
Secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 1

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 2

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 3

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 4

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 5

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 6

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 7

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 8

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9a

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9b

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 10

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 11

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 13

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 14

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 15

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 16

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 17

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 18

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 19

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 20

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 21

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 22



Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:

MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)

Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009

RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from December 2008)

This page updated 17 APRIL 2014 and again on 26 OCTOBER 2016

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