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Gandhi on Palestine [excerpt]

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“What is going on in Palestine now cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…”

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home. The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled?  Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry  for the national home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews…..And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs….” Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi  (November 1938)

Complete Text  (Gandhi shows compassion for both Jews and Palestinians and desires for justice and human rights for all)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(see Palestine Remembered for more pix & info)

It is time to weep for Palestine…

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Palestine: Remembering Murdered Italian Activist Vittorio Arrigoni · Global Voices

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Written by chinarose

April 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Palestine, Zionism

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ZIONIST MURDERERS KILL 5 SISTERS – CHILDREN SLEEPING IN BED

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Written by chinarose

January 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

Pasolini’s 1963 Film on Palestine

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Pasolini recorded his observations in the documentary A Visit to Palestine while scouting locations for his moving biography of the life of Jesus, The Gospel of St Matthew.

The sophisticated hasbara / sophistry that created the hologram of  “democracy” and “chosenness” was the very first of  Israel’s chief exports (to be followed by human organ smuggling, pornography, espionage  and  shocking weapons) and that it was and is a very “successful” endeavor in every part of globe, meant to convince not only hawks and politicos, but the academic world. Could Pasolini’s ambiguity re the brutal colonial nature of Zionism be due to the fact that in the 50s and 60s he and many intellectuals saw Israel as a progressive experiment in socialism that needed time to live up to expectations? The halo effect over Israel still hangs on in Europe and the USA for decades after al-Nakba.

Although the true nature of Zionism was little known in the West for decades– either in popular culture or among the intelligentsia — the mask of righteousness has slipped off Israel’s PR-drenched narrative and a truly demonic face has been glimpsed by more people than ever before.

Could these two films of Pasolini’s — one celebrating Jesus’ life, and one recording contemporary Palestine — be connected to Pasolini’s very tragic, unexpected and unsolved murder?


Pasolini filming Palestine

APRIL 15, 2010
by South/South   Be sure to check out the entire South/South blog – it’s brilliant.

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1963 film Sopralluoghi in Palestina (English title: A Visit to Palestine, though it would be more accurate to call it Scouting for Locations in Palestine) showcases the director’s preparation for filming The Gospel According to St. Matthew. (Parenthetically, in Italian the latter film’s title is Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo, about which my film professor has posed a good question: do Italians erase the ‘saint’ in Matthew’s title or is Pasolini being irreverent?) The film is more evocative and personal than the average making-of documentary that often accompanies a major film as a voyeuristic sidebar. It is also not without its problems on the question of Palestine.

It’s clear from the outset that Pasolini is filming here because he is fed up with the industrial world: you can’t shoot a film about Christ near Milanese factories. He has come here for the Jesus ‘look.’ It’s not an aberration to point this out since it’s a stake Pasolini constantly claims: only in the Terra Santa itself can he strike the ‘poetic and archaic… extreme smallness, poverty and humility.’ His favorite part of the journey is a narrow strip close to Jordan because that’s ‘where Jesus spent his last days.’

In a rapid, breathy voice-over that runs the entire course of the film, Pasolini sounds almost like a tourist, both eager and disappointed to find comparisons with sites and sounds from home. He compares the rolling, grassy landscape of Palestine to southern, rural Italian cities like Bari, Calabria and Sicilia. Unfortunately, while he is certainly not the average tourist and though he does struggle some to decode what he sees, one gets the sense that he’s not really struggling enough—at least not any more than necessary to furnish scenes for his film. Coming to terms with not being able to film in ‘modern’ Nazareth, he says in a defeated tone: ‘You understand that in this period of our trip, I had set out as a problem, as the purpose of my research, the finding of those villages, places and faces which could replace modern villages, faces, places.’ (Avrai capito che in questo periodo del nostro viaggio, io mi ero posto come problema, come scopo della mia ricerca, il trovare dei villaggi, dei luoghi, delle facce, che potessero sostituire i villaggi, le facce, i luoghi moderni.)

His scouting tour takes him to much of pre-1967 Palestine/Israel, from the Jewish kibbutzim to the habitats of impoverished Palestinian farmers. While he interviews a young family at a kibbutz at length (conducted in Italian) he never films himself talking at length to Arabs. There is the linguistic problem, of course, but this distancing act reinforces something troubling that Pasolini repeats at least twice in the film: the Palestinians just seem ‘more authentic.’ They are ‘allegre, animalistiche‘—happy and animalistic—far closer to his archaic Gospel characters than the new inhabitants of the modern settlements/colonies dotting the hillsides.

Indeed, it can often seem like Pasolini takes the colonial project for granted. In the poem ‘The Southern Dawn’ (L’Alba Meridionale),* published a year after the trip to Palestine, he writes about finding ‘millions of men employed only to live as barbarians descended recently on a happy land, strangers to it, and its owners’ (milioni di uomini occupati / soltanto a vivere come barbari discesi / da poco su una terra felice, estranei / ad essa, e suoi possessori). Are the recent Jewish immigrants the ‘barbarians’ descending in ‘millions’ on a ‘happy land’? How does Pasolini reconcile their relationship to this land as both ‘strangers’ and biblical ‘owners’? The film is fraught with these same unanswered musings.

In this screen grab, Pasolini stands in front of a map of Jerusalem, surrounded by those likely objects of his disdain, modern advertisements for cigarettes. It’s hard to pinpoint a poetics to Pasolini’s critiques, but if there is one solid critique it is, again, his disappointment at what has become of his imagined Palestine. For the most part, his monologue is deeply concerned with the technical and aesthetic concerns of making his film. But the jabs he makes about modern, industrial Israel can be found if one is looking for them. They express sorrow at a lost aura he is sore that small, white Israeli settler/colonial houses on the plains appear soulless and uniform. ‘You could easily find [them] in the Roman countryside, or in Switzerland.’

One of the most moving moments is Pasolini in a Bedouin desert, encroached on ‘day by day by the Israelis.’ The footage is beautiful, but as he says again in that breathy disappointment, unusable.The Bedouins make look authentic, and they may even be the victims of colonialism and land grabs, but he still hasn’t found what he’s come looking for.

Where Pasolini’s musings lack any overt colonial critique, the camera highlights it. The shots of Jerusalem surrounded by barbed wire are particularly compelling. As Pasolini’s voiceover expresses awe at the natural beauty of these surroundings, the camerawork displays the indignities of everyday life for Palestinian inhabitants. As seen above, the camera zooms in and out of a shot of birds perched on top of barbed wire, in and out and in and out, a syntactical repetition of a sublime and sordid reality.

*Thanks to http://www.twitter.com/revsocialist for sending me the reference to that poem.

(All screengrabs by South/South)


Desmond Tutu: We Must Boycott and Isolate Israeli Universities

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Desmond Tutu: We Must Boycott and Isolate Israeli Universities — Signs of the Times News.

The University of Johannesburg’s Senate will next week meet to decide whether to end its relationship with an Israeli institution, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, on the grounds of that university’s active support for and involvement in the Israeli military. Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports the move. He explains why

“The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own.

We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face. Yet we would be less than human if we did so. It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.” – Nelson Mandela, December 4 1997

Struggles for freedom and justices are fraught with huge moral dilemmas. How can we commit ourselves to virtue – before its political triumph – when such commitment may lead to ostracism from our political allies and even our closest partners and friends? Are we willing to speak out for justice when the moral choice that we make for an oppressed community may invite phone calls from the powerful or when possible research funding will be withdrawn from us? When we say “Never again!” do we mean “Never again!”, or do we mean “Never again to us!”?

Our responses to these questions are an indication of whether we are really interested in human rights and justice or whether our commitment is simply to secure a few deals for ourselves, our communities and our institutions – but in the process walking over our ideals even while we claim we are on our way to achieving them?

The issue of a principled commitment to justice lies at the heart of responses to the suffering of the Palestinian people and it is the absence of such a commitment that enables many to turn a blind eye to it.

Consider for a moment the numerous honorary doctorates that Nelson Mandela and I have received from universities across the globe. During the years of apartheid many of these same universities denied tenure to faculty who were “too political” because of their commitment to the struggle against apartheid. They refused to divest from South Africa because “it will hurt the blacks” (investing in apartheid South Africa was not seen as a political act; divesting was).

Let this inconsistency please not be the case with support for the Palestinians in their struggle against occupation.

I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, “Why are our memories so short?” Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their own previous humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?

Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about all the downtrodden?

Together with the peace-loving peoples of this Earth, I condemn any form of violence – but surely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh? Surely resistance also makes us human? Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

South African universities with their own long and complex histories of both support for apartheid and resistance to it should know something about the value of this nonviolent option.

The University of Johannesburg has a chance to do the right thing, at a time when it is unsexy. I have time and time again said that we do not want to hurt the Jewish people gratuitously and, despite our deep responsibility to honour the memory of the Holocaust and to ensure it never happens again (to anyone), this must not allow us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians today.

I support the petition by some of the most prominent South African academics who call on the University of Johannesburg to terminate its agreement with Ben-Gurion University in Israel (BGU). These petitioners note that: “All scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.” It can never be business as usual.

Israeli Universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice. While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception. By maintaining links to both the Israeli defence forces and the arms industry, BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation. For example, BGU offers a fast-tracked programme of training to Israeli Air Force pilots.

In the past few years, we have been watching with delight UJ’s transformation from the Rand Afrikaans University, with all its scientific achievements but also ugly ideological commitments. We look forward to an ongoing principled transformation. We don’t want UJ to wait until others’ victories have been achieved before offering honorary doctorates to the Palestinian Mandelas or Tutus in 20 years’ time.

Source: Times Live – South Africa

As of 9-25-10, 200 academics from 22 universities have signed the petition


Ken O’Keefe: Every Tattoo Tells a Story

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Written by chinarose

October 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Obama @ the UN: The Overwhelming Arrogance of American Imperialism

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From WSWS.org

Obama at the UN: The arrogant voice of imperialism

By Bill Van Auken
24 September 2010

President Barack Obama used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday to defend US wars and state terror abroad and to proclaim that the economic crisis has been resolved thanks to his Wall Street bailout.

The US president received a noticeably tepid response from the assembled UN delegates. While in his first address to the body last year, he was able to pose as a fresh alternative to the crimes carried out by the Bush administration, by now it has become clear to most on the international stage that his administration’s policies are largely in continuity with those of its predecessor.

In its tone and its content, the Obama speech was the authentic and arrogant voice of US imperialism.

Parroting remarks delivered by George W. Bush from the same podium, Obama began by invoking September 11, 2001, once again exploiting the terrorist attacks of that day to justify the acts of military aggression committed by both US administrations in the intervening nine years.

In the same breath, he referred to Wall Street’s financial meltdown of September 2008, as an event that “devastated American families on Main Street,” while “crippling markets and deferring the dreams of millions on every continent.”

These two events were presented as the source of the core challenges confronting the US administration. Supposedly in response to the first, the Obama administration has continued and escalated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan, while reaffirming Washington’s “right” to carry out unilateral military aggression anywhere on the planet.

In response to the second, the administration continued the massive bailout begun under Bush, committing more than $12 trillion to propping up the US banks and financial institutions, while holding none of those involved responsible for the criminal forms of speculation practiced on Wall Street.

Obama claimed that the so-called Wall Street reform legislation passed by his administration would ensure “that a crisis like this never happens again.” It does nothing of the kind, placing no serious limits on the speculative activities and profitability of the big banks and leaving Wall Street to continue with “business as usual.”

“The global economy has been pulled back from the brink of a depression,” Obama told his UN audience. This statement flies in the face of the grim conditions confronting working people on every continent. This includes the US itself, where the official unemployment rate remains near 10 percent, the unemployed and underemployed account for 17 percent of the workforce, some 30 million people, and one out of every seven Americans is living below the poverty line.

While profits have returned to pre-crisis levels, the reality is that none of the underlying contradictions that have given rise to the deepest world economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s has been resolved. They have only grown in intensity. The response of the ruling classes throughout the world has been to redouble their attacks on the working class in an attempt to force it to pay for this crisis.

Obama followed his assertion about the economy being pulled back from “the brink” with an even more absurd claim that he would not “rest until these seeds of progress grow into a broader prosperity, not only for all Americans, but for peoples around the globe.”

In the US, throughout Europe and in much of the rest of the world, governments are pursuing unprecedented austerity policies that are ripping up basic social rights and dramatically lowering the living standards of working people. Meanwhile, Obama himself spoke before a global poverty summit the day before his speech, warning the world’s poorest that Washington was determined to break their cycle of “dependency.”

The US president’s lies about the economy were followed by the fraudulent claim that the military operations his administration is pursuing abroad are aimed at upholding “our common security.”

Obama said that he is “winding down the war in Iraq” and will pull out all of its occupation troops by the end of next year. At the same time, he declared Washington’s intention to forge “a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people,” by which he means maintaining a US protectorate over the oil-rich country in order to advance the geo-strategic interests of American capitalism.

He said that the drawing down US troops in Iraq had allowed the US military to be “refocused on defeating al Qaeda and denying its affiliates a safe haven” in Afghanistan. This is another lie. US military and intelligence officials acknowledge that there are no more than 100 al Qaeda members in all of Afghanistan. The nearly 100,000 US troops deployed in that country are not combating “terrorism,” but asserting US neo-colonial control in a bid to advance Washington’s quest for hegemony in Central Asia.

In one of the speech’s more chilling passages, Obama bragged that “from South Asia to the Horn of Africa, we are moving toward a more targeted approach” in the war on terror, that did not require “deploying large American armies.” In other words, while constrained in its ability to carry out another major military occupation, US imperialism is pursuing its policies by means of assassinations, drone missile attacks and the deployment of elite killing squads, and has arrogated to itself the right to target and kill its perceived opponents anywhere on the planet.

Obama used the speech to once again threaten Iran. Only days before his appearance at the UN, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech urging elements within the Iranian ruling elite to carry out regime change in the country. He reiterated the vow made in his speech last year that Iran “must be held accountable” for its alleged violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

At least a quarter of Obama’s address was dedicated to the US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” that appear to be on the brink of yet another breakdown in the face of Israeli intransigence and provocation.

For all the hackneyed rhetoric about the “Holy Land” and “our common humanity,” the Obama administration is pursuing these negotiations as a means of solidifying support among the Arab regimes for its escalating threats of aggression against Iran and to further its domination of the Middle East.

The content of the speech made clear the US administration’s unwavering complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Obama urged that a limited moratorium declared by the Israeli government be extended beyond September 26, when it is set to expire. He said Israel should do this because it “improved the atmosphere for talks,” not because the entire settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is a violation of international law and multiple UN resolutions. In the same breath, the US president asserted that “talks should press on until completed,” presumably regardless of what Israel does.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted that his government will not extend the moratorium, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had initially insisted that his delegation would be forced to walk out if it does not. An ever-pliant servant of Washington, Abbas has since indicated that he might back down on this threat.

The rest of Obama’s remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian question had an Orwellian flavor, in which Israel was presented as the victim. “The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance—it’s injustice,” Obama declared. He made no mention of the slaughter of 1,400 Palestinians in the US-backed siege of Gaza in 2008-2009 or the criminal attack on the Gaza aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish civilians last May. The day the US president spoke, the UN issued a report charging that Israel’s actions were illegal and employed an “unacceptable level of brutality,” meriting war crimes prosecution.

The US president concluded his speech with an exaltation of “democracy” and “human rights,” which again echoed similar language employed by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

In Bush’s case, this phony democratic rhetoric was employed to justify US imperialism’s drive for dominance in the Middle East, where Washington demonstrated its commitment to “human rights” by carrying out mass killings, the detention of tens of thousands without charges or trial, and the infamous acts of torture at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantánamo.

In Obama’s case, the posturing as the global champion of democratic rights is no less contemptible. The target, however, appears to have shifted.

The Council on Foreign Relations, the establishment thinktank that enjoys close ties to the administration and the State Department, spelled this out. Noting Obama’s “full-throated endorsement of democracy as the best form of government,” it commented: “Yet the appeal of such an idea faces challenges at bodies like the UN. This is not, for example, the future world that Chinese leaders envision.”

Indeed, Obama followed his celebration of democracy by calling attention to his upcoming trip to Asia, ticking off the countries he will visit—India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan—and praising each for having promoted “democratic principles in their own way.” The itinerary includes the four largest countries that US strategists envision as bulwarks against the expansion of Chinese influence.

On the same day that Obama delivered his speech, the New York Times published a front-page article on the increasingly tense US-China relationship that was clearly based on the perspective of the US administration. The Times reported that “rising frictions between China and its neighbors in recent weeks over security issues have handed the United States an opportunity to reassert itself—one the Obama administration has been keen to take advantage of.”

It noted that Washington has inserted itself into territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian countries, organized provocative joint military exercises with South Korea near Chinese waters and has solidified its alliance with Japan, largely in opposition to China’s influence.

Under conditions of rising conflicts between Washington and Beijing over currency and trade relations, Obama’s praise for “democracy” at the UN represents a thinly veiled threat of new and far more catastrophic eruptions of American militarism.

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Terry Crawford-Browne: To End the Occupation of Palestine, Target Israeli Banks

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A logical strategy for boycotting Israel is to begin with Israeli banks. Worth a read

Terry Crawford-Browne, The Electronic Intifada, 30 June 2010

Targeting Israeli banks will help bring an end to the occupation. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

The international banking sanctions campaign in New York against apartheid South Africa during the 1980s is regarded as the most effective strategy in bringing about a nonviolent end to the country’s apartheid system. The campaign culminated in President FW de Klerk’s announcement in February 1990, releasing Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, and the beginning of constitutional negotiations towards a non-racial and democratic society.

If international civil society is serious about urgently ending Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the occupation, then suspension of SWIFT transactions to and from Israeli banks offers an instrument to help bring about a peaceful resolution of an intractable conflict. With computerization, international banking technology has advanced dramatically in the subsequent 20 years since the South African anti-apartheid campaign.

Although access to New York banks remains essential for foreign exchange transactions because of the role of the dollar, interbank transfer instructions are conducted through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which is based in Belgium. So, instead of New York — as in the period when sanctions were applied on South Africa– Belgium is now the pressure point.

SWIFT links 8,740 financial institutions in 209 countries. Without access to SWIFT and its interbank payment network, countries are unable either to pay for imports or to receive payment for exports. In short, no payment — no trade. Should it come to a point where trade sanctions are imposed on Israel, it may be able to evade them. Instead of chasing trade sanctions-busters and plugging loopholes, it is both faster and much more effective to suspend the payment system.

The Israeli government may consider itself to be militarily and diplomatically invincible, given support from the United States, and other governments, but Israel’s economy is exceptionally dependent upon international trade. It is thus very vulnerable to financial retaliation. South Africa’s apartheid government had also believed itself to be immune from foreign pressure.

Without SWIFT, Israel’s access to the international banking system would be crippled. Banking is the lifeblood of any economy. Without payment for imports or exports, the Israeli economy would quickly collapse. The matter has gained additional urgency with the bill now before the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to penalize any person who promotes the imposition of boycotts against Israel. Another important political factor is that SWIFT is not only outside American jurisdiction, it is also beyond the reach of Israeli military retaliation.

Israel has long experience in sanctions-busting since the 1948 Arab boycotts. Apartheid South Africa was also well experienced in sanctions-busting — breaking oil embargoes was almost a “national sport.” Trade sanctions are invariably full of loopholes. Profiteering opportunities abound, as illustrated by Iraq, Cuba and numerous countries against which for many years the United States unsuccessfully has applied trade sanctions. Iran conducts its trade through Dubai, which happily profits from the political impasse.

Suspension of bank payments plugs such loopholes, and also alters the balance of power so that meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians become even possible. This is because banking sanctions impact quickly upon financial elites who have the clout to pressure governments to concede political change. Trade sanctions, by contrast, impact hardest on the poor or lower-paid workers, who have virtually no political influence.

SWIFT will, however, only take action against Israeli banks if ordered to do so by a Belgian court, and then only in very exceptional circumstances. Such very exceptional circumstances are now well-documented by the UN-commissioned Goldstone report into Israel’s winter 2008-09 invasion and massacre in Gaza and by the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010. There is also a huge body of literature from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations detailing Israeli war crimes and violations of humanitarian law.

The Israeli government, like that of apartheid South Africa, has become a menace to the international community. Corruption and abuses of human rights are invariably interconnected. Israel’s long military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, for example, has corrupted almost every aspect of Israeli society, most especially its economy. The Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported in December 2009 that the Israeli government lacks commitment in tackling international corruption and money laundering.

The international financial system is exceedingly sensitive about allegations of money laundering, but also to any associations with human rights abuses. Organized crime and money laundering are major international security threats, as illustrated by the United States subpoena after the 11 September 2001 attacks of SWIFT data to track terrorist financing. The website Who Profits? (www.whoprofits.org) lists hundreds of international and Israeli companies that illegally profiteer from the occupation.

Their operations range from construction of the “apartheid wall” and settlements to agricultural produce grown on confiscated Palestinian land. As examples, Caterpillar, Volvo and Hyundai supply bulldozing equipment to demolish Palestinian homes. British supermarkets sell fresh produce grown in the West Bank, but illegally labelled as Israeli. Ahava markets Dead Sea mud and cosmetics.

The notorious Lev Leviev claims in Dubai that Leviev diamonds are of African origin, and are cut and polished in the United States rather than Israel. They are sourced from Angola, Namibia and also allegedly Zimbabwe, and can rightly be described as “blood diamonds.” Israeli diamond exports in 2008 were worth $19.4 billion, and accounted for almost 35 percent of Israeli exports. Industrial grade diamonds are essential to Israel’s armaments industry, and its provision of surveillance equipment to the world’s most unsavory dictatorships. Such profiteering depends on foreign exchange and access to the international payments system. Hence interbank transfers are essential, and SWIFT — willingly or unwillingly — has become complicit, as were the New York banks with apartheid South Africa.

Accordingly, a credible civil society organization amongst the Palestinian diaspora should lead the SWIFT sanctions campaign against Israeli banks. And, per the South African experience, it should be led by civil society rather than rely on governments.

Each bank has an eight letter SWIFT code that identifies both the bank and its country of domicile. “IL” are the fifth and sixth letters in SWIFT codes that identify Israel. The four major Israeli banks and their SWIFT codes are Israel Discount Bank (IDBILIT), Bank Hapoalim (POALILIT), Bank Leumi (LUMIILIT) and Bank of Israel (ISRAILIJ).

Such a suspension would not affect domestic banking transactions within Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip — or international transfers to Palestinian banks that have separate “PS” identities. The campaign can be reversed as soon as the objectives have been achieved, and without long-term economic damage.

What is required is an urgent application in a Belgian court ordering SWIFT to reprogram its computers to suspend all transactions to and from Israeli banks until the Israeli government agrees to end the occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that it will dismantle the “apartheid wall;” the Israeli government recognizes the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Israel recognizes, respects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees.

The writer is a retired banker, who advised the South African Council of Churches on the banking sanctions campaign against apartheid South Africa. He spent October 2009 to January 2010 in East Jerusalem monitoring checkpoints, house demolitions and evictions, and liaising with Israeli peace groups. He lives in Cape Town.

ei: To end the occupation, cripple Israeli banks

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Interview with Artist Carlos Latuff

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Interview with Carlos Latuff by Kourosh Ziabari

Independent freelance journalist, Iran, reposted on Uprooted Palestinians blog

The hero of “freedom of speech”, boycotted by the corporate, mainstream media that are irresistible against the astringent truth: this is the most precise and accurate introduction which I can present about Carlos Latuff. Born in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he is an artist of conscience whose artistic commitment and morality prevented him from becoming the pawn of imperialism.

Carlos Latuff is a world-renowned cartoonist who has long brought into existence artistic works and cartoons in which the footsteps of creativity, novelty, intelligence and decency can be traced noticeably. He has never been given the opportunity to showcase his matchless cartoons in the New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, BBC or CNN; however, the narrow hallways of personal blogs and independent media outlets which allowed his cartoons to breathe in the atmosphere of publicity, made him a man of genuineness and reality, known by those who seek something beyond the outdated, obsolete propaganda of “all options are on the table”.

Carlos Latuff has drawn numerous cartoons which depict the pains of oppressed nations around the world; from the Palestinians being suffocated under the Israeli occupation to the Iranians receiving the spates of psychological operation co-manufactured by the White House and Tel Aviv.

Here is the complete text of my interview with Carlos Latuff, conducted for Iran’s best-selling newspaper Jame-Jam, where we elaborately discussed his intellectual mission and the prospect of his artistic trajectory.

Kourosh Ziabari: Dear Carlos; it seems that you’ve dedicated your entire mission to independent, freelance journalism and one can clearly figure out that you are not usually paid in lieu of what you draw for the magazines, newspapers and websites since a complete set of your cartoons and caricatures are available on your website for free. Do you accede to draw cartoons which are contrary to your ideological mindset should you be offered remarkable, irresistible payments?

Carlos Latuff: No way! I will only make artworks according my own Leftist beliefs. I don’t trade ideology for money. I work for Leftist trade union (workers) press since 1990, that’s what I make for living. Mainstream media would never pay me for making anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist artworks. But I have what I call of “artistic activism”, producing cartoons and making them available on the Web for free of charge reproduction; cartoons with a different point of view from the Western mainstream media; cartoons exposing what Michael Moore would call of “the awful truth”. I already refused payments for my drawings about Palestine. Solidarity can’t be measured by dollars.

KZ: You’ve received serious death threats from the Zionist circles and Israeli groups a number of times. Would you please explain for us a little about the details of these threats and the consequential events that followed them? Have you ever thought of putting aside your professional and artistic mission in order to preserve your safe, tranquil life?

CL: In 2006 a website associated to Likud (Likudnik) published a long article about me, my art, my support to Palestinians and labeled me as an agent at the service of a supposed “Iranian propaganda machine”, comparing me with Nazi propagandists. The author of the article argued why Israel didn’t take care of me before and urged readers to take steps against me. Let me be straight, I really don’t care about threats. Along the Palestinian cause I also support human rights organizations against police brutality in Brazil. This kind of activism alone could put me in high risk of life. But, as I said, I don’t care; I will continue with my artistic support, ’cause if Zionists worldwide are pissed off about my cartoons, it’s because I’m doing something right. Death can stop me yes, but not my cartoons. That’s why I make them run free around the world through Internet.

KZ: You belong to a prosperous country which is the 8th economic power of the world and the 10th trade partner of the United States. Brazil also maintains normal ties with Israel and this is something which many anti-war and anti-imperialism activists dislike. Coming from such a country, you profoundly grasped the essence of oppressed nations’ suffering and sympathized with them wholeheartedly. How did you rise from Brazil and came to assist the oppressed nations?

CL: I grown up in the suburbs of Rio and my parents worked hard to give me study and a humble but decent life. Being the 8th economic power makes no difference to the ordinary people in Brazil. We have poverty, corruption, criminal and police violence, influent and strong landowners in countryside, people dying of dengue fever and malaria, and a mainstream media which is always trying to convince public opinion that everything is ok with capitalism. As someone living in a Third World country I can’t turn a blind eye to this situation here and in other parts of the world. Last year I was in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, places very similar to Brazilian slums (favelas). It wasn’t hard to realize that the language of poverty is universal, as universal must be the solidarity with people in need.

KZ: You’ve for years cooperated with a number of media outlets in the Western countries and can precisely estimate the veracity of the slogan of “freedom of expression” in the countries who introduce themselves as the harbingers of liberty and tolerance. I clearly remember the spates of verbal and political attacks on the artists who had participated in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Even the then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had condemned the contest and this could simply demonstrate the lopsidedness of “freedom” which they claim to be the pioneers thereof. What’s your idea about that? Are the western media outlets really free?

CL: Still today I’ve been accused of denying Holocaust because of that artwork for which I won the second place in the Iranian cartoon contest. It’s funny since the cartoon shows a Palestinian elderly wearing a concentration camp uniform, which not only affirms the existence of the Nazi Holocaust as well as making a comparison between it and the suffering of the Palestinians. I believe that this contest had exposed the Western’s double standard. When you ridicule and attack Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Islam or Muslims, then this is called “satire”, “humor”, “freedom of speech”, whatever. Joking about Islam is pretty acceptable. Islamophobia is popular in the US and Europe, specially after September 11. However the same freedom you have for making cartoons about Islam and its Prophet you won’t have while dealing with Holocaust and Israel. If you dare draw Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians (isn’t a fact?), you will be automatically labeled as anti-Semitic. While Muhammad cartoons were wide spread in Europe, Holocaust cartoons weren’t not reproduced in any European newspaper.

KZ: Your stance towards Iran’s nuclear program (Iran intends to meet its energy, electricity needs through nuclear reactors) and Israel’s nuclear program (Israel possess up to 200 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists) is delicately accurate and specific, indicating your extensive acquaintance with the regional equations and developments. Iran is being lethally pressured to halt its civilian nuclear program and Israel has been unconditionally safeguarded by Washington to keep up with its military atomic program. What’s your take on this?

CL: In fact all this turmoil about Iranian nuclear program has more to do with the fear of US, Europe and Israel of having a country in Middle East with nuclear capability. It will change the geopolitics in the region, since no Arab country was ever allowed by US of having anything nuclear. Only Israel can have not only nuclear plants but also nukes, immune to inspections and international law. If Iran will develop nuclear capabilities for civilian or military use, it doesn’t matter. The point is, if US, Europe and Israel are so concerned about threats to peace, why don’t they start proposing sanctions against Pakistan and India, since both countries have a nuclear arms race since long time? Because both countries are allies of Washington? Why not a single word about the Israeli nuclear program? Why Mordecai Vanunu is prevented to speak about it?

KZ: Most of your critics accuse you of arising anti-Semitic sentiments by drawing cartoons which condemn the State of Israel and its leaders for the atrocities and felonies they commit. Is this the case that you’re opposed to Jews as the followers of a divine religion, or do you simply go up against the expansionist Zionists who commit crimes against humanity and massacre the defenseless people of Palestine?

CL: I’m not a religious man, and none of my cartoons deal with Judaism. You won’t find any of my artworks attacking the Jewish. My issue with Israel and their supporters is only about politics, imperialism. Even not being Muslim, I do support Muslims against Islamophobia, since I can’t agree with prejudice against religion. Of course anything that may be slightly perceived as criticism towards Israel will be associated with hatred towards Jews. This old trick is applied to anyone who dares speak against Israeli apartheid. But everyday more activists understand this misuse of anti-Semitism and keep the struggle regardless of the false allegations and smear campaigns from Zionists.

KZ: Have the global mainstream media outlets (the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Reuters, Associated Press and so forth) which universally rule the public opinions ever published your cartoons? Why don’t such media outlets which assert to be the pioneers of freedom of expression accept allowing the publication of disparate viewpoints which are contrary to their focal approach?

CL: Reuters made a video interview with me last year about my art and views. I had some of my cartoons shown on Al Jazeera and George Galloway show at Press TV, but this is an exception. Usually only Arab media outlets are interested in my opinions. Western mainstream media isn’t interested in giving space to a Leftist artist who supports people’s struggle in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere. But in a way or another, I find a place to make my opinions visible. Internet is my best ally. You see, even not being a famous artist promoted by mainstream media, you and your newspaper know about me and my cartoons. Internet has broken the obstacles imposed by corporate media. And I won’t make concessions for mere 15 minutes of fame; will keep fidelity with my principles.

KZ: The subjugated people of Palestine and other countries which have been subject to the brutality of imperialism throughout the history will be encouraged and hopeful when they find conscientious artists like you sympathizing with them. Have you ever felt the courage and valor you present to the people of Palestine with your artistic endeavors?

CL: I’m very suspicious for talking about the Palestinians. I have never seen such a brave and courageous people like them. I started making cartoons about Palestinians since my trip to West Bank in 1999 and since then my sympathy for their cause only grow up. After my recent visit to Jordan and Lebanon, invited by Al Hannouneh Society for Popular Culture, I realized that my relation with Palestinians is not only political. I have pure love for that people.

KZ: Please tell us about your latest activities. How was the experience of winning a prize in the Iran-based International Holocaust Cartoon Competition? Do you like to come to Iran once again and touch the pains and difficulties of the Iranian people in person?

CL: Usually I don’t participate in contests, since I’m not interested in the prizes and stuff. The purpose of my art is supporting social movements, rather than feeding my own ego. But I saw the Holocaust cartoon competition as a timely opportunity for making visual comment about Palestinian suffering. In that occasion, I was invited by my good friend Massoud Tabatabai to attend the prize award ceremony in Teheran but unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel. But of course if I had another chance, I would be more than glad to visit Iran.

Posted by Gilad Atzmon at 2:37:00 AM

Carlos Latuff Cartoons

West Bank Concentration Camp

West Bank Concentration Camp



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The Crucifixion of Kindness (again & again & again)

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The Crucifixion of Kindness

by Gilad Atzmon

Panic is detected in Israel. Strategic affairs minister, Moshe Boogi Ya’alon who served as acting PM during last week’s massacre in the high seas said yesterday that “someone failed to prepare a standard operating procedure.” A senior IDF official was quick to respond “If there wasn’t a standard operating procedure, why didn’t he make sure there was one. He was the acting prime minister and it was his responsibility.” War criminal Tzipi Livni is also unhappy with the Government for failing to take responsibility. Two days ago she led a no confidence vote in the Israeli Knesset.

Seemingly the Israelis are starting to blame each other. This may look like a positive move, however, not a single Israeli is yet to ask for forgiveness. Seemingly no one in Israel grasps the scale of the atrocity in the high seas. No one in Israel comprehends the level of outrage amongst the nations. Israelis, are instead concerned with their Hasbara failure, their military operational mistakes and so on. Up until now, they fail to see that in the high seas, they have managed to kill Christ again. [note a word to the wise: to avoid being called a Christ-killer, stop acting like one]

Killing Christ is realised symbolically as an assault on goodness, a crime against kindness and innocence. The cold blooded slaughter of peace activists in international waters has a very similar effect. It is an assault on compassion, righteousness and humanism. It is an attack on everything Christianity and Islam happen to value. As much as Israelis, Zionists and Neocons are insisting on  spreading the deceptive myth of a Judeo-Christian alliance, it is this last Israeli crime that made it clear that the Jewish State shares nothing with humanism, Christianity or Islam. Israel in fact stands against any recognised Western value.

Though the contemporary  Israeli has no ethnic or biological lineage to the  ancient  Israelites, the merciless ideology repeats itself.  Since, the Zionist project defines itself as  a revival of the  Biblical Israelite nation, it shouldn’t take us by surprise that the  lethal Biblical ideology  also comes to life. It is implemented daily  against Palestinian  women, children, elders and now against an international humanitarian convoy.

If we want to understand what happened to the Palestinian solidarity movement last week, we  could start by elaborating on a mass shift of consciousness. This goes beyond politics, psychology or sociology, it is actually a spiritual metaphysical shift. As I have been predicting for many years, we now start to see hope and liberation through the Palestinians and their righteous  struggle. We understand that the Palestinians are at the forefront of the battle against evil. And we obviously stand behind them as one person. Interestingly enough,  politicians are way behind. They still fail to notice the rapidly emerging worldwide public awareness that something is deeply sick in the Israeli society and its lobbies around the world. Our politicians will probably join us later, when their Zionist money runs out.

By equating Christ’s murder with last week’s massacre in the high seas, we can then understand the total failure of the Israeli Hasbara machine. Instead of standing up and admitting that something went horribly wrong at sea, Israeli officials reverted to the usual spin. The Turkish activists had become ‘Jew haters’, ‘Al-Qaeda terrorists’, and the Mavi Marmara had become a ‘Boat of Hate’. This tactic is unfortunately too familiar. It has been employed by Rabbinical Judaism for two thousand years, especially against the memory of Christ.

I guess that Christians and Muslims will be shocked and outraged to find out that Yesh’u (יש”ו), the Hebrew name for Jesus, is an abbreviation that corresponds to the “May his name and memory be blotted out”*,  an expression used for deceased enemies of the Jewish people like Hitler and Stalin. In the Hebraic culture, Jesus, the kindest of all people, the son of God, is regarded as the ultimate enemy. If Jesus is cornered with Hitler, it shouldn’t surprise us that Hasbara officials insist to stick Peace activists with Al-Qaeda. Seemingly, in the modern Israelite philosophy one becomes a Yesh’u hate  figure once hit by an Israeli bullet.

The Judaic hatred towards Jesus, as reflected by the Hebraic abbreviation Yesh’u is pretty revealing in the context of the latest Israeli massacre. Rather than accepting its crime and genuinely repenting, Israel attempted to portray the Turkish martyrs as the ultimate Jewish enemies. Seemingly, this attempt failed completely. The Free Gaza flotilla is now making it into a symbol of hope and compassion. Israel, on the other hand shoved itself into a corner. This is a tragic prophecy that fulfilled itself. Israel will never recover, it simply can’t.

*ימח שמו וזכרו