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Israel:Remote-Controlled Killing


A new corridor of terrorism has gained popularity in Israel.  Remote-Controlled Killing is the new game, a game which does not require a console or an expensive game but rather a innocent Palestinian and a Israeli Watch Tower.

Please be aware that this game is in operation while you read this.  Please read read on:

By JONATHAN COOK

Nazareth.

It is called Spot and Shoot. Operators sit in front of a TV monitor from which they can control the action with a PlayStation-style joystick.

The aim: to kill terrorists.

Played by: young women serving in the Israeli army.

Spot and Shoot, as it is called by the Israeli military, may look like a video game but the figures on the screen are real people — Palestinians in Gaza — who can be killed with the press of a button on the joystick.

The female soldiers, located far away in an operations room, are responsible for aiming and firing remote-controlled machine-guns mounted on watch-towers every few hundred metres along an electronic fence that surrounds Gaza.

The system is one of the latest “remote killing” devices developed by Israel’s Rafael armaments company, the former weapons research division of the Israeli army and now a separate governmental firm.

According to Giora Katz, Rafael’s vice-president, remote-controlled military hardware such as Spot and Shoot is the face of the future. He expects that within a decade at least a third of the machines used by the Israeli army to control land, air and sea will be unmanned.

The demand for such devices, the Israeli army admits, has been partly fuelled by a combination of declining recruitment levels and a population less ready to risk death in combat.

Oren Berebbi, head of its technology branch, recently told an American newspaper: “We’re trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield … We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk.”

Rapid progress with the technology has raised alarm at the United Nations. Philip Alston, its special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, warned last month of the danger that a “PlayStation mentality to killing” could quickly emerge.

According to analysts, however, Israel is unlikely to turn its back on hardware that it has been at the forefront of developing – using the occupied Palestinian territories, and especially Gaza, as testing laboratories.

Remotely controlled weapons systems are in high demand from repressive regimes and the burgeoning homeland security industries around the globe.

“These systems are still in the early stages of development but there is a large and growing market for them,” said Shlomo Brom, a retired general and defence analyst at the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The Spot and Shoot system — officially known as Sentry Tech — has mostly attracted attention in Israel because it is operated by 19- and 20-year-old female soldiers, making it the Israeli army’s only weapons system operated exclusively by women.

Female soldiers are preferred to operate remote killing devices because of a shortage of male recruits to Israel’s combat units. Young women can carry out missions without breaking the social taboo of risking their lives, said Mr Brom.

The women are supposed to identify anyone suspicious approaching the fence around Gaza and, if authorised by an officer, execute them using their joysticks.

The Israeli army, which plans to introduce the technology along Israel’s other confrontation lines, refuses to say how many Palestinians have been killed by the remotely controlled machine-guns in Gaza. According to the Israeli media, however, it is believed to be several dozen.

The system was phased-in two years ago for surveillance, but operators were only able to open fire with it more recently. The army admitted using Sentry Tech in December to kill at least two Palestinians several hundred metres inside the fence.

The Haaretz newspaper, which was given rare access to a Sentry Tech control room, quoted one soldier, Bar Keren, 20, saying: “It’s very alluring to be the one to do this. But not everyone wants this job. It’s no simple matter to take up a joystick like that of a Sony PlayStation and kill, but ultimately it’s for defence.”

Audio sensors on the towers mean that the women hear the shot as it kills the target. No woman, Haaretz reported, had failed the task of shooting what the army calls an “incriminated” Palestinian.

The Israeli military, which enforces a so-called “buffer zone” — an unmarked no-man’s land — inside the fence that reaches as deep as 300 metres into the tiny enclave, has been widely criticised for opening fire on civilians entering the closed zone.

In separate incidents in April, a 21-year-old Palestinian demonstrator was shot dead and a Maltese solidarity activist wounded when they took part in protests to plant a Palestinian flag in the buffer zone. The Maltese woman, Bianca Zammit, was videoing as she was hit.

It is unclear whether Spot and Shoot has been used against such demonstrations.

The Israeli army claims Sentry Tech is “revolutionary”. And that will make its marketing potential all the greater as other armies seek out innovations in “remote killing” technology.

Rafael is reported to be developing a version of Sentry Tech that will fire long-range guided missiles.

Another piece of hardware recently developed for the Israeli army is the Guardium, an armoured robot-car that can patrol territory at up to 80km per hour, navigate through cities, launch “ambushes” and shoot at targets. It now patrols the Israeli borders with Gaza and Lebanon.

Its Israeli developers, G-Nius, have called it the world’s first “robot soldier”. It looks like a first-generation version of the imaginary “robot-armour” worn by soldiers in the popular recent sci-fi movie Avatar.

Rafael has produced the first unmanned naval patrol boat, the “Protector”, which has been sold to Singapore’s navy and is being heavily marketing in the US. A Rafael official, Patrick Bar-Avi, told the Israeli business daily Globes: “Navies worldwide are only now beginning to examine the possible uses of such vehicles, and the possibilities are endless.”

But Israel is most known for its role in developing “unmanned aerial vehicles” – or drones, as they have come to be known. Originally intended for spying, and first used by Israel over south Lebanon in the early 1980s, today they are increasingly being used for extrajudicial executions from thousands of feet in the sky.

In February Israel officially unveiled the 14 metre-long Heron TP drone, the largest ever. Capable of flying from Israel to Iran and carrying more than a ton of weapons, the Heron was tested by Israel in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in winter 2008, when some 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

More than 40 countries now operate drones, many of them made in Israel, although so far only the Israeli and US armies have deployed them as remote-controlled killing machines. Israeli drones are being widely used in Afghanistan.

Smaller drones have been sold to the German, Australian, Spanish, French, Russian, Indian and Canadian armies. Brazil is expected to use the drone to provide security for the 2014 World Cup championship, and the Panamanian and Salvadoran governments want them too, ostensibly to run counter-drug operations.

Despite its diplomatic crisis with Ankara, Israel was reported last month to have completed a deal selling a fleet of 10 Herons to the Turkish army for $185 million.

[source]

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Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. By Jeremy R. Hammond


by Jeremy R. Hammond

June 17, 2010

Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.

Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.

For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.

After major violence again erupted in 1929, the British Shaw Commission report noted that “In less than 10 years three serious attacks have been made by Arabs on Jews. For 80 years before the first of these attacks there is no recorded instance of any similar incidents.” Representatives from all sides of the emerging conflict testified to the commission that prior to the First World War, “the Jews and Arabs lived side by side if not in amity, at least with tolerance, a quality which today is almost unknown in Palestine.” The problem was that “The Arab people of Palestine are today united in their demand for representative government”, but were being denied that right by the Zionists and their British benefactors.

The British Hope-Simpson report of 1930 similarly noted that Jewish residents of non-Zionist communities in Palestine enjoyed friendship with their Arab neighbors. “It is quite a common sight to see an Arab sitting in the verandah of a Jewish house”, the report noted. “The position is entirely different in the Zionist colonies.”

Myth #2 – The United Nations created Israel.

The U.N. became involved when the British sought to wash its hands of the volatile situation its policies had helped to create, and to extricate itself from Palestine. To that end, they requested that the U.N. take up the matter.

As a result, a U.N. Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created to examine the issue and offer its recommendation on how to resolve the conflict. UNSCOP contained no representatives from any Arab country and in the end issued a report that explicitly rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. Rejecting the democratic solution to the conflict, UNSCOP instead proposed that Palestine be partitioned into two states: one Arab and one Jewish.

The U.N. General Assembly endorsed UNSCOP’s in its Resolution 181. It is often claimed that this resolution “partitioned” Palestine, or that it provided Zionist leaders with a legal mandate for their subsequent declaration of the existence of the state of Israel, or some other similar variation on the theme. All such claims are absolutely false.

Resolution 181 merely endorsed UNSCOP’s report and conclusions as a recommendation. Needless to say, for Palestine to have been officially partitioned, this recommendation would have had to have been accepted by both Jews and Arabs, which it was not.

Moreover, General Assembly resolutions are not considered legally binding (only Security Council resolutions are). And, furthermore, the U.N. would have had no authority to take land from one people and hand it over to another, and any such resolution seeking to so partition Palestine would have been null and void, anyway.

Myth #3 – The Arabs missed an opportunity to have their own state in 1947.

The U.N. recommendation to partition Palestine was rejected by the Arabs. Many commentators today point to this rejection as constituting a missed “opportunity” for the Arabs to have had their own state. But characterizing this as an “opportunity” for the Arabs is patently ridiculous. The Partition plan was in no way, shape, or form an “opportunity” for the Arabs.

First of all, as already noted, Arabs were a large majority in Palestine at the time, with Jews making up about a third of the population by then, due to massive immigration of Jews from Europe (in 1922, by contrast, a British census showed that Jews represented only about 11 percent of the population).

Additionally, land ownership statistics from 1945 showed that Arabs owned more land than Jews in every single district of Palestine, including Jaffa, where Arabs owned 47 percent of the land while Jews owned 39 percent – and Jaffa boasted the highest percentage of Jewish-owned land of any district. In other districts, Arabs owned an even larger portion of the land. At the extreme other end, for instance, in Ramallah, Arabs owned 99 percent of the land. In the whole of Palestine, Arabs owned 85 percent of the land, while Jews owned less than 7 percent, which remained the case up until the time of Israel’s creation.

Yet, despite these facts, the U.N. partition recommendation had called for more than half of the land of Palestine to be given to the Zionists for their “Jewish State”. The truth is that no Arab could be reasonably expected to accept such an unjust proposal. For political commentators today to describe the Arabs’ refusal to accept a recommendation that their land be taken away from them, premised upon the explicit rejection of their right to self-determination, as a “missed opportunity” represents either an astounding ignorance of the roots of the conflict or an unwillingness to look honestly at its history.

It should also be noted that the partition plan was also rejected by many Zionist leaders. Among those who supported the idea, which included David Ben-Gurion, their reasoning was that this would be a pragmatic step towards their goal of acquiring the whole of Palestine for a “Jewish State” – something which could be finally accomplished later through force of arms.

When the idea of partition was first raised years earlier, for instance, Ben-Gurion had written that “after we become a strong force, as the result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine”. Partition should be accepted, he argued, “to prepare the ground for our expansion into the whole of Palestine”. The Jewish State would then “have to preserve order”, if the Arabs would not acquiesce, “by machine guns, if necessary.”

Myth #4 – Israel has a “right to exist”.

The fact that this term is used exclusively with regard to Israel is instructive as to its legitimacy, as is the fact that the demand is placed upon Palestinians to recognize Israel’s “right to exist”, while no similar demand is placed upon Israelis to recognize the “right to exist” of a Palestinian state.

Nations don’t have rights, people do. The proper framework for discussion is within that of the right of all peoples to self-determination. Seen in this, the proper framework, it is an elementary observation that it is not the Arabs which have denied Jews that right, but the Jews which have denied that right to the Arabs. The terminology of Israel’s “right to exist” is constantly employed to obfuscate that fact.

As already noted, Israel was not created by the U.N., but came into being on May 14, 1948, when the Zionist leadership unilaterally, and with no legal authority, declared Israel’s existence, with no specification as to the extent of the new state’s borders. In a moment, the Zionists had declared that Arabs no longer the owners of their land – it now belonged to the Jews. In an instant, the Zionists had declared that the majority Arabs of Palestine were now second-class citizens in the new “Jewish State”.

The Arabs, needless to say, did not passively accept this development, and neighboring Arab countries declared war on the Zionist regime in order to prevent such a grave injustice against the majority inhabitants of Palestine.

It must be emphasized that the Zionists had no right to most of the land they declared as part of Israel, while the Arabs did. This war, therefore, was not, as is commonly asserted in mainstream commentary, an act of aggression by the Arab states against Israel. Rather, the Arabs were acting in defense of their rights, to prevent the Zionists from illegally and unjustly taking over Arab lands and otherwise disenfranchising the Arab population. The act of aggression was the Zionist leadership’s unilateral declaration of the existence of Israel, and the Zionists’ use of violence to enforce their aims both prior to and subsequent to that declaration.

In the course of the war that ensued, Israel implemented a policy of ethnic cleansing. 700,000 Arab Palestinians were either forced from their homes or fled out of fear of further massacres, such as had occurred in the village of Deir Yassin shortly before the Zionist declaration. These Palestinians have never been allowed to return to their homes and land, despite it being internationally recognized and encoded in international law that such refugees have an inherent “right of return”.

Palestinians will never agree to the demand made of them by Israel and its main benefactor, the U.S., to recognize Israel’s “right to exist”. To do so is effectively to claim that Israel had a “right” to take Arab land, while Arabs had no right to their own land. It is effectively to claim that Israel had a “right” to ethnically cleanse Palestine, while Arabs had no right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in their own homes, on their own land.

The constant use of the term “right to exist” in discourse today serves one specific purpose: It is designed to obfuscate the reality that it is the Jews that have denied the Arab right to self-determination, and not vice versa, and to otherwise attempt to legitimize Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, both historical and contemporary.

Myth #5 – The Arab nations threatened Israel with annihilation in 1967 and 1973

The fact of the matter is that it was Israel that fired the first shot of the “Six Day War”. Early on the morning of June 5, Israel launched fighters in a surprise attack on Egypt (then the United Arab Republic), and successfully decimated the Egyptian air force while most of its planes were still on the ground.

It is virtually obligatory for this attack to be described by commentators today as “preemptive”. But to have been “preemptive”, by definition, there must have been an imminent threat of Egyptian aggression against Israel. Yet there was none.

It is commonly claimed that President Nasser’s bellicose rhetoric, blockade of the Straits of Tiran, movement of troops into the Sinai Peninsula, and expulsion of U.N. peacekeeping forces from its side of the border collectively constituted such an imminent threat.

Yet, both U.S. and Israeli intelligence assessed at the time that the likelihood Nasser would actually attack was low. The CIA assessed that Israel had overwhelming superiority in force of arms, and would, in the event of a war, defeat the Arab forces within two weeks; within a week if Israel attacked first, which is what actually occurred.

It must be kept in mind that Egypt had been the victim of aggression by the British, French, and Israelis in the 1956 “Suez Crisis”, following Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal. In that war, the three aggressor nations conspired to wage war upon Egypt, which resulted in an Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula. Under U.S. pressure, Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1957, but Egypt had not forgotten the Israeli aggression.

Moreover, Egypt had formed a loose alliance with Syria and Jordan, with each pledging to come to the aid of the others in the event of a war with Israel. Jordan had criticized Nasser for not living up to that pledge after the Israeli attack on West Bank village of Samu the year before, and his rhetoric was a transparent attempt to regain face in the Arab world.

That Nasser’s positioning was defensive, rather than projecting an intention to wage an offensive against Israel, was well recognized among prominent Israelis. As Avraham Sela of the Shalem Center has observed, “The Egyptian buildup in Sinai lacked a clear offensive plan, and Nasser’s defensive instructions explicitly assumed an Israeli first strike.”

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin acknowledged that “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Yitzhak Rabin, who would also later become Prime Minister of Israel, admitted in 1968 that “I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.”

Israelis have also acknowledged that their own rhetoric at the time about the “threat” of “annihilation” from the Arab states was pure propaganda.

General Chaim Herzog, commanding general and first military governor of the occupied West Bank following the war, admitted that “There was no danger of annihilation. Israeli headquarters never believed in this danger.”

General Ezer Weizman similarly said, “There was never a danger of extermination. This hypothesis had never been considered in any serious meeting.”

Chief of Staff Haim Bar-Lev acknowledged, “We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the Six-Day War, and we had never thought of such possibility.”

Israeli Minister of Housing Mordechai Bentov has also acknowledged that “The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail, and exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territory.”

In 1973, in what Israelis call the “Yom Kippur War”, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise offensive to retake the Sinai and the Golan Heights, respectively. This joint action is popularly described in contemporaneous accounts as an “invasion” of or act of “aggression” against Israel.

Yet, as already noted, following the June ’67 war, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 242 calling upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Israel, needless to say, refused to do so and has remained in perpetual violation of international law ever since.

During the 1973 war, Egypt and Syria thus “invaded” their own territory, then under illegal occupation by Israel. The corollary of the description of this war as an act of Arab aggression implicitly assumes that the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza Strip were Israeli territory. This is, needless to say, a grossly false assumption that demonstrates the absolutely prejudicial and biased nature of mainstream commentary when it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

This false narrative fits in with the larger overall narrative, equally fallacious, of Israeli as the “victim” of Arab intransigence and aggression. This narrative, largely unquestioned in the West, flips reality on its head.

Myth #6 – U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 called only for a partial Israeli withdrawal.

Resolution 242 was passed in the wake of the June ’67 war and called for the “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” While the above argument enjoys widespread popularity, it has no merit whatsoever.

The central thesis of this argument is that the absence of the word “the” before “occupied territories” in that clause means not “all of the occupied territories” were intended. Essentially, this argument rests upon the ridiculous logic that because the word “the” was omitted from the clause, we may therefore understand this to mean that “some of the occupied territories” was the intended meaning.

Grammatically, the absence of the word “the” has no effect on the meaning of this clause, which refers to “territories”, plural. A simple litmus test question is: Is it territory that was occupied by Israel in the ’67 war? If yes, then, under international law and Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from that territory. Such territories include the Syrian Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

The French version of the resolution, equally authentic as the English, contains the definite article, and a majority of the members of the Security Council made clear during deliberations that their understanding of the resolution was that it would require Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied territories.

Additionally, it is impossible to reconcile with the principle of international law cited in the preamble to the resolution, of “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”. To say that the U.N. intended that Israel could retain some of the territory it occupied during the war would fly in the face of this cited principle.

One could go on to address various other logical fallacies associated with this frivolous argument, but as it is absurd on its face, it would be superfluous to do so.

Myth #7 – Israeli military action against its neighbors is only taken to defend itself against terrorism.

The facts tell another story. Take, for instance, the devastating 1982 Israeli war on Lebanon. As political analyst Noam Chomsky extensively documents in his epic analysis “The Fateful Triangle”, this military offensive was carried out with barely even the thinnest veil of a pretext.

While one may read contemporary accounts insisting this war was fought in response to a constant shelling of northern Israeli by the PLO, then based in Lebanon, the truth is that, despite continuous Israeli provocations, the PLO had with only a few exceptions abided by a cease-fire that had been in place. Moreover, in each of those instances, it was Israel that had first violated the cease-fire.

Among the Israeli provocations, throughout early 1982, it attacked and sank Lebanese fishing boats and otherwise committed hundreds of violations of Lebanese territorial waters. It committed thousands of violations of Lebanese airspace, yet never did manage to provoke the PLO response it sought to serve as the casus belli for the planned invasion of Lebanon.

On May 9, Israel bombed Lebanon, an act that was finally met with a PLO response when it launched rocket and artillery fire into Israel.

Then a terrorist group headed by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Israeli Ambassador Shlomo Argov in London. Although the PLO itself had been at war with Abu Nidal, who had been condemned to death by a Fatah military tribunal in 1973, and despite the fact that Abu Nidal was not based in Lebanon, Israel cited this event as a pretext to bomb the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, killing 200 Palestinians. The PLO responded by shelling settlements in northern Israel. Yet Israel did not manage to provoke the kind of larger-scale response it was looking to use as a casus belli for its planned invasion.

As Israeli scholar Yehoshua Porath has suggested, Israel’s decision to invade Lebanon, far from being a response to PLO attacks, rather “flowed from the very fact that the cease-fire had been observed”. Writing in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Porath assessed that “The government’s hope is that the stricken PLO, lacking a logistic and territorial base, will return to its earlier terrorism…. In this way, the PLO will lose part of the political legitimacy that it has gained … undercutting the danger that elements will develop among the Palestinians that might become a legitimate negotiating partner for future political accommodations.”

As another example, take Israel’s Operation Cast Lead from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009. Prior to Israel’s assault on the besieged and defenseless population of the Gaza Strip, Israel had entered into a cease-fire agreement with the governing authority there, Hamas. Contrary to popular myth, it was Israel, not Hamas, who ended the cease-fire.

The pretext for Operation Cast Lead is obligatorily described in Western media accounts as being the “thousands” of rockets that Hamas had been firing into Israel prior to the offensive, in violation of the cease-fire.

The truth is that from the start of the cease-fire in June until November 4, Hamas fired no rockets, despite numerous provocations from Israel, including stepped-up operations in the West Bank and Israeli soldiers taking pop-shots at Gazans across the border, resulting in several injuries and at least one death.

On November 4, it was again Israel who violated the cease-fire, with airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza that resulted in further deaths. Hamas finally responded with rocket fire, and from that point on the cease-fire was effectively over, with daily tit-for-tat attacks from both sides.

Despite Israel’s lack of good faith, Hamas offered to renew the cease-fire from the time it was set to officially expire in December. Israel rejected the offer, preferring instead to inflict violent collective punishment on the people of Gaza.

As the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center noted, the truce “brought relative quiet to the western Negev population”, with 329 rocket and mortar attacks, “most of them during the month and a half after November 4″, when Israel had violated and effectively ended the truce. This stands in remarkable contrast to the 2,278 rocket and mortar attacks in the six months prior to the truce. Until November 4, the center also observed, “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire.”

If Israel had desired to continue to mitigate the threat of Palestinian militant rocket attacks, it would have simply not ended the cease-fire, which was very highly effective in reducing the number of such attacks, including eliminating all such attacks by Hamas. It would not have instead resorted to violence, predictably resulting in a greatly escalated threat of retaliatory rocket and mortar attacks from Palestinian militant groups.

Moreover, even if Israel could claim that peaceful means had been exhausted and that a resort military force to act in self-defense to defend its civilian population was necessary, that is demonstrably not what occurred. Instead, Israel deliberately targeted the civilian population of Gaza with systematic and deliberate disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on residential areas, hospitals, schools, and other locations with protected civilian status under international law.

As the respected international jurist who headed up the United Nations investigation into the assault, Richard Goldstone, has observed, the means by which Israel carried out Operation Cast Lead were not consistent with its stated aims, but was rather more indicative of a deliberate act of collective punishment of the civilian population.

Myth #8 – God gave the land to the Jews, so the Arabs are the occupiers.

No amount of discussion of the facts on the ground will ever convince many Jews and Christians that Israel could ever do wrong, because they view its actions as having the hand of God behind it, and that its policies are in fact the will of God. They believe that God gave the land of Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to the Jewish people, and therefore Israel has a “right” to take it by force from the Palestinians, who, in this view, are the wrongful occupiers of the land.

But one may simply turn to the pages of their own holy books to demonstrate the fallaciousness of this or similar beliefs. Christian Zionists are fond of quoting passages from the Bible such as the following to support their Zionist beliefs:

“And Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants could also be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

“Then Yahweh appeared to him and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in the land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.” (Genesis 26: 1-3)

“And behold, Yahweh stood above it and said: ‘I am Yahweh, God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.” (Genesis 28:13)

Yet Christian Zionists conveniently disregard other passages providing further context for understanding this covenant, such as the following:

“You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out.” (Leviticus 20:22)

“But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments … but break My covenant … I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste … You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.” (Leviticus 26: 14, 15, 32-33, 28)

“Therefore Yahweh was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone…. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.” (2 Kings 17:18, 23)

“And I said, after [Israel] had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.” (Jeremiah 3: 7-8)

Yes, in the Bible, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, told the Hebrews that the land could be theirs – if they would obey his commandments. Yet, as the Bible tells the story, the Hebrews were rebellious against Yahweh in all their generations.

What Jewish and Christian Zionists omit from their Biblical arguments in favor of continued Israel occupation is that Yahweh also told the Hebrews, including the tribe of Judah (from whom the “Jews” are descended), that he would remove them from the land if they broke the covenant by rebelling against his commandments, which is precisely what occurs in the Bible.

Thus, the theological argument for Zionism is not only bunk from a secular point of view, but is also a wholesale fabrication from a scriptural perspective, representing a continued rebelliousness against Yahweh and his Torah, and the teachings of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) in the New Testament.

Myth #9 – Palestinians reject the two-state solution because they want to destroy Israel.

In an enormous concession to Israel, Palestinians have long accepted the two-state solution. The elected representatives of the Palestinian people in Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had since the 70s recognized the state of Israel and accepted the two-state solution to the conflict. Despite this, Western media continued through the 90s to report that the PLO rejected this solution and instead wanted to wipe Israel off the map.

The pattern has been repeated since Hamas was voted into power in the 2006 Palestinian elections. Although Hamas has for years accepted the reality of the state of Israel and demonstrated a willingness to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel, it is virtually obligatory for Western mainstream media, even today, to report that Hamas rejects the two-state solution, that it instead seeks “to destroy Israel”.

In fact, in early 2004, shortly before he was assassinated by Israel, Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin said that Hamas could accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Hamas has since repeatedly reiterated its willingness to accept a two-state solution.

In early 2005, Hamas issued a document stating its goal of seeking a Palestinian state alongside Israel and recognizing the 1967 borders.

The exiled head of the political bureau of Hamas, Khalid Mish’al, wrote in the London Guardian in January 2006 that Hamas was “ready to make a just peace”.  He wrote that “We shall never recognize the right of any power to rob us of our land and deny us our national rights…. But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms.”

During the campaigning for the 2006 elections, the top Hamas official in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar said that Hamas was ready to “accept to establish our independent state on the area occupied [in] ’67″, a tacit recognition of the state of Israel.

The elected prime minister from Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, said in February 2006 that Hamas accepted “the establishment of a Palestinian state” within the “1967 borders”.

In April 2008, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Hamas officials and afterward stated that Hamas “would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders” and would “accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbor next door in peace”. It was Hamas’ “ultimate goal to see Israel living in their allocated borders, the 1967 borders, and a contiguous, vital Palestinian state alongside.”

That same month Hamas leader Meshal said, “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition.”

In 2009, Meshal said that Hamas “has accepted a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders”.

Hamas’ shift in policy away from total rejection of the existence of the state of Israel towards acceptance of the international consensus on a two-state solution to the conflict is in no small part a reflection of the will of the Palestinian public. A public opinion survey from April of last year, for instance, found that three out of four Palestinians were willing to accept a two-state solution.

Myth #10 – The U.S. is an honest broker and has sought to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Rhetoric aside, the U.S. supports Israel’s policies, including its illegal occupation and other violations of international humanitarian law. It supports Israel’s criminal policies financially, militarily, and diplomatically.

The Obama administration, for example, stated publically that it was opposed to Israel’s settlement policy and ostensibly “pressured” Israel to freeze colonization activities. Yet very early on, the administration announced that it would not cut back financial or military aid to Israel, even if it defied international law and continued settlement construction. That message was perfectly well understood by the Netanyahu government in Israel, which continued its colonization policies.

To cite another straightforward example, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions openly declaring support for Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, despite a constant stream of reports evidencing Israeli war crimes.

On the day the U.S. Senate passed its resolution “reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas” (January 8, 2009), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a statement demanding that Israel allow it to assist victims of the conflict because the Israeli military had blocked access to wounded Palestinians – a war crime under international law.

That same day, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement condemning Israel for firing on a U.N. aid convoy delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza and for the killing of two U.N. staff members – both further war crimes.

On the day that the House passed its own version of the resolution, the U.N. announced that it had had to stop humanitarian work in Gaza because of numerous incidents in which its staff, convoys, and installations, including clinics and schools, had come under Israeli attack.

U.S. financial support for Israel surpasses $3 billion annually. When Israel waged a war to punish the defenseless civilian population of Gaza, its pilots flew U.S.-made F-16 fighter-bombers and Apache helicopter gunships, dropping U.S.-made bombs, including the use of white phosphorus munitions in violation of international law.

U.S. diplomatic support for Israeli crimes includes its use of the veto power in the U.N. Security Council. When Israel was waging a devastating war against the civilian population and infrastructure of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the U.S. vetoed a cease-fire resolution.

As Israel was waging Operation Cast Lead, the U.S. delayed the passage of a resolution calling for an end to the violence, and then abstained rather than criticize Israel once it finally allowed the resolution to be put to a vote.

When the U.N. Human Rights Council officially adopted the findings and recommendations of its investigation into war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, headed up by Richard Goldstone, the U.S. responded by announcing its intention to block any effort to have the Security Council similarly adopt its conclusions and recommendations. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution rejecting the Goldstone report because it found that Israel had committed war crimes.

Through its virtually unconditional support for Israel, the U.S. has effectively blocked any steps to implement the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The so-called “peace process” has for many decades consisted of U.S. and Israeli rejection Palestinian self-determination and blocking of any viable Palestinian state.

[source]

[source]

Israel committed ‘act of piracy’


World, June 3, (Pal Telegraph – Agencies) An Irish activist seized by Israeli authorities in a commando operation on an aid flotilla has accused armed forces of carrying out an act of piracy.

Dublin-based Shane Dillon demanded the Israeli government lift its controversial blockade and allow the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie to deliver aid to Gaza.

Describing the dramatic moments the Challenger 1 came under attack, he said the ship was surrounded by blacked-out vessels and helicopters before armed forces launched an assault at close range with stun guns and high-powered paintball pellets.

“I wouldn’t call them soldiers, they are terrorists,” said the emotional 36-year-old. “They attacked us in international waters. That was a pure act of piracy in international waters on a peace fleet.”

Mr Dillon touched down in Dublin Airport late on Tuesday night still in the green T-shirt and torn combats he wore when captured on Monday morning. He angrily denied accusations activists had weapons on board the ships.

“The weapons the Israelis displayed were cooking knives, a hammer. This was a big merchant ship, of course it’s going to have a hammer, of course it’s going to have galley knives,” he said.

He called on the Irish government to refer the incident with the Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in Kuala Lumpur and demand the Rachel Corrie is granted entry to Gaza. The defiant seafarer also challenged the Israeli government.

“Cop on, grow up, it’s about time you let people be treated well and treated properly and stop this stupid siege and blockade on a nation of people,” he said.

The crewman – who has served as chief officer on Irish and British merchant ships – maintained the fleet had expected to be let though the blockade.

“We didn’t expect it to be so severe and a severe loss of life. That was just ridiculous, it’s very sad,” he continued. “My heart goes out to the brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and the families of those who died.”

[source]

Israel broke international laws when attacked Gaza’s flotilla


June 4, (Pal Telegraph – By Lynda Brayer) During the pre-dawn hours of May 31, 2010, the Israeli Navy attacked the six civilian vessels of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.  The attack took place in international waters against ships flying under national flags of countries with which Israel is not at war, namely Turkey, Greece and the United States.

The ships were carrying civilians from more than sixteen countries.

Salient points:

Since no state of war existed at the time, the attack on these vessels constitutes an act of war against those governments under whose flags the vessels were sailing.

The attack falls within the purview of the ius ad bellum, those laws which govern the resort to armed conflict.  Israel’s action does not fall into the category of the ius in bello or the laws which govern the actual conduct of war.

Because this attack was carried out in international waters, the status of the relationship between Hamas, or any other Palestinian body, and the state of Israel is of no relevance whatsoever.  Likewise, neither the blockade of Gaza nor Israel’s claims and legal interpretations regarding it has any bearing on its acts of aggression in international waters.

This is not an act of piracy.  Piracy is an act of aggression carried out in international waters by individuals and not by states.

The following internationally binding treaties, charters, and agreements are relevant to the attack by Israel:

1. Article 6 of the Charter Provisions of the Nuremburg Trials

(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;

(3) Crimes against Humanity:  namely murder…deportation, and any other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war…in execution of or in connection with any crime…whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

2. 1907 Hague Regulation Convention (XI) Relative to Certain Restrictions with Regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War

Chapter II – The Exemption from Capture of Certain Vessels

Article 4.  Vessels charged with religious, scientific, or philanthropic missions are likewise exempt from capture.

Salient points:

The standard for judging the Israeli acts is objective and not subjective. It is irrelevant what Israeli ministers, generals, admirals, or soldiers thought or intended.  The test is in what they did.

What they did was engage in acts of war using weapons of war in international waters against vessels that are protected not only in peacetime but also in times of war.

Israel has therefore committed both crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity.

These are crimes that have international jurisdiction.  Israeli political and military personnel can be named in trials held in any and all countries of the world.  If the Israelis do not attend the trials, they can be tried in abstentia, and those decisions in which the Israelis are found guilty can be executed anywhere in the world.

Because unarmed civilians were murdered by a preplanned military attack, capital crimes have been committed.  While it would appear that the international community no longer finds capital punishment civilized, the punishments for these capital crimes can be multiple life sentences.

These crimes give rise to damage claims for huge sums of money and Israeli accounts can be blocked using decisions finding them guilty.

The unarmed vessels were on a philanthropic mission, carrying civilians and humanitarian supplies.  Even if Israel were in a state of war with any of these countries, it would be prohibited from capturing the vessels according to the terms of the Hague Convention of 1907.

Conclusion:

It follows, therefore, that Israel was first of all not allowed to attack these vessels militarily, and then not to board these vessels by force, capture these vessels, attack the passengers, imprison them on the vessels, forcibly remove them from the vessels, and steal their private property in the form of cameras, computers, clothes, etc.

Every single act carried out by the Israeli military forces in international waters no May 31, 2010, are unqualifiedly and absolutely violations of international law.

Lynda Brayer is a human rights lawyer who specialized in the laws of war and international law in representing Palestinians. She lives in Haifa. She can be reached at lyndabrayer@yahoo.com

Appendix:

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla included six vessels on May 31, 2010

1. Mavi Marmara, passenger boat, Turkey

2. Sofia, cargo ship, Greece

3. Gaza I, cargo ship, Turkey

4. Gaza II, cargo ship, Turkey

5. Spendoni,  passenger ship, Greece

6. Challenger I, passenger ship, United States

The majority of the passengers aboard the ships were Turkish citizens.  There were also nationals from Britain, Australia, Greece, Canada, Malaysia, Algeria, Serbia, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Kuwait and the United States.

Three German parliamentarians were aboard the Turkish boat that was stormed. There were also two Palestinian Members of the Knesset.  Swedish author Henning Mankell was also on board the flotilla.

[source]

Aid ship rejects Israeli deal


The crew of a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza have rejected an offer to unload its cargo in Israel and take it across the border.

The Irish/Malaysian-owned vessel, MV Rachel Corrie, has vowed to continue to sail into an exclusion zone where there was a deadly commando attack by Israeli troops earlier in the week.

Activists refused to accept a deal brokered between officials from the Irish and Israeli Governments as the vessel sailed in international waters just 100 miles from Gaza.

First mate Derek Graham said: “The reason we rejected the offer is because we are trying to highlight the situation that Gaza is under siege by air, sea and land and we are trying to break that siege.

“We want to show this siege is illegal and subjecting a nation to poverty. If we bring this cargo to Ashdod it’s only a fraction of what they need. We need to be able to do this continuously.”

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin said: “If, as is their stated intention, the Israeli government intercepts the Rachel Corrie, the Government demands that it demonstrate every restraint. Those on board the Rachel Corrie have made clear their peaceful intentions and have stated that they will offer no resistance to Israeli forces.”

43 Years of Occupation


By Jesse Bacon

Israel has stopped one boat, but it can’t stop the movement. Readers of this blog know the struggle has been going on long before the Gaza Freedom Flotilla set sail, and it continues and will only grow in strength. The protests commemorating the anniversary of the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are carrying on, as more boats set sail for Gaza.

We’ll have live tweets so night owls and early risers in the United States can follow this protest over at Jewish Voice for Peace’s twitter feed. Then come back here tomorrow for a recap.

Tomorrow: Thousands to Mark 43 Years of Occupation Near Route 443
Palestinians and Israelis will demonstrate tomorrow, Friday, June 4th, near the village of Beit Nuba, which was demolished by Israel in 1967, near Route 443. Similar demonstrations, also denouncing the massacre aboard the Freedom Flotilla will take place across the West Bank.

Dozens of Israeli anti-Occupation organizations will join the Palestinian Popular Committees for a demonstration marking 43 years of occupation tomorrow. The protesters will denounce the killing aboard the Mavi Marmara, and call to end the siege over Gaza, to dismantle the Wall and settlements, and for freedom of movement for Palestinians.

MK Haneen Zouabi, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara,(the boat attacked by Israeli commandoes with at least 10 deaths) Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian al-Mubadara Party, Maher Ghuneim, Minister for the Wall in the Palestinian Authority, former MK Uri Avnery, and Palestinian Legislative Committee Members Qais Abd el-Karim (Abu Laila) and Mahmoud al-Aloul – will participate in the demonstration.

Additional demonstrations will take place in the villages on Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, Deir al-Ghussoun, north of Tul Karem, Ni’ilin – where demonstrators will also mark a year to the death of protester Aqel Srour by sniper-fire shot at him during a demonstration, and in the villages of Bil’in, West of Ramallah and al-Ma’asara, south of Bethlehem, where demonstrators will carry mock ships and will try to break the siege on their own villages.

Road to nowhere: During the occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, the Israeli army destroyed the villages of Yalu, Beit Nuba and Amuasse in the Latrun enclave. “Canada Park” and a number of settlements were built on their lands.

Most of the residents of these three displaced villages currently live in villages near Highway 443, such as Beit Liqya, Beit Sira and Beit Ur. In the eighties, thousands of acres were confiscated by Israel along the road, claiming that the road will serve as the main traffic artery for these villages to Ramallah.

However, the road has been closed for years for Palestinian vehicles. Following the High Court ruling on Route 443, a small section of the road was opened last week for Palestinian traffic, but is still nearly useless for the villagers, as access to Ramallah from it is disallowed, turning it into a highway to nowhere for Palestinians.

Who Sells Israeli Goods


SUPERMARKETS

All major UK retailers sell Israeli goods, and most of them sell produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Some have made statements in support of Zionism and some have contracts with Israeli companies.

There is a growing movement to boycott Israeli goods in solidarity with the people of Palestine and in line with an international call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. There have been reports in the press that Israeli producers are experiencing a decline in demand for Israeli produce since the bombardment of Gaza in January 2009. This could be the beginning of a snowball effect for the global boycott movement.

Tesco

Tesco stores stock a large amount of produce grown in the Occupied Territories and purchased from the Israeli state, including fruit and vegetables from producer Carmel-Agrexco. Israeli products stocked by Tesco include fruit juice, mangoes, avocados, grapes, stonefruit, dates, herbs, pickled cucumbers, Exquisa potatoes, mixed peppers (from Israel and a second country of origin), Barkan wine, Yarden wine, biscuits, cold meat, dips, Osem soups and cakes, snacks by Beigel & Beigel, Telma (soup mixes and cubes, noodles etc) and socks (Tesco’s own brand).

Tesco sells products from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, many of which are exported by Carmel Agrexco. The company admitted sourcing ‘a number of products’ from illegal settlements, including avocados, herbs, grapes and stonefruit, such as peaches, from farms in the West Bank and Golan Heights. In 2006 War on Want reported that Tesco sells Beigel and Beigel products sourced from the settlements. Tesco also sells gas cylinders for products made by settlement company Soda Club, and repackages settlement dates from Hadiklaim as Tesco own brand dates. Mehadrin-Tnuport Export Company (MTex) supplies Tesco with settlement citrus fruit and there are links between Tesco and the Arava settlement company.

In October 2007, a group of campaigners from the Brighton Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group entered Tomer settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley and photographed medjoul dates, packaged by Carmel Agrexco, labelled ‘Made in Israel’ and marked as bound for Tesco stores.

Products exported as ‘Made in Israel’ benefit from the preferential trade terms of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which came into effect in 2000. Settlement products, however, are excluded from the beneficial terms of the EU-IAA.

When ITN screened an expose in 2007 accusing supermarkets of misleading British consumers, Tesco admitted it had acted “in error” and stated that Israeli dates “originating solely in the West Bank will [in the future] be labelled as such.”

BIGCampaign and others groups have been campaigning against the ‘West Bank’ label as it misleads consumers into believing produce from illegal settlements is actually Palestinian. The Palestinian General Delegation to the UK has written a letter of protest to Tesco, and other retailers, for persisting in the use of this misleading label.

Tesco says that ‘freedom of choice’ is one of the company’s priorities and consumers can choose not to buy Israeli products. However, in correspondence with campaigners in 2006, Tesco representatives said they were phasing out Tesco’s line of Israeli peppers due to consumer pressure. Boycott Israeli Goods campaigners have also consistently attended the Tesco AGM to raise the issue of settlement produce and propose a boycott of Israeli goods.

John Porter, one of the principal shareholders in Tesco, also has substantial investments in Israeli companies. In 2000, Tesco awarded a $1 million IT contract to the Israeli firm Tescom to provide a solution for Tesco’s Year 2000 conversion requirements.

During the bombing of Gaza, Tesco was targeted across the country by campaigners calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. In Swansea, activists stole Israeli settlement produce from Tesco and sprayed it with red dye to highlight Tesco’s complicity in Israel’s war crimes by profiting from settlement produce and enabling the settlements to trade and profit from their illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Address:

Email: customer.service@tesco.co.uk
Tesco PLC
New Tesco House
Delamare Road
Cheshunt
Hertfordshire
England EN8 9SL
Marks & Spencer

Historically, Marks & Spencer has made statements in support of Zionism. Lord Sieff, chairman and founder of M&S who died in 2001, made several statements in support of Israel’s military policies. In 1941, Sieff said that “large sections of the Arab population of Palestine should be transplanted to Iraq and other Middle-Eastern Arab States” (Jewish Chronicle, 21/09/1941). In 1990, Sieff, in a book entitled On Management: The Marks and Spencer Way, wrote that one of the fundamental objectives of M&S was to “aid the economic development of Israel.”

There have been no reports of M&S openly showing ideological support for Israel since 2004. The retail company has repeatedly asserted that “[it has] no ‘special’ relationship with any government, political party or religious group” but accepts that M&S does “make representations to governments in support of [its] commercial aims.” M&S management has not, to our knowledge, commented on Lord Sieff’s remarks in support of Zionism and has not made a statement as to whether the current management stands by them.

In 1998, Sir Richard Greenbury, then CEO of Marks & Spencer, received the Jubilee Award from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In 2000, the Jerusalem Report stated that “M&S supports Israel with $233 million in trade each year.”

In October 2000, the Jewish Chronicle reported that the British-Israel Chamber of Commerce (B-ICC) had held meetings at Marks & Spencer’s offices in Baker Street. However, in 2008 the store claimed that M&S “do not host meetings on our premises for the B-ICC.” Nevertheless, in December 2004, Stuart Rose, CEO of Marks and Spencer at the time, was a listed speaker at the annual dinner of the B-ICC.

When questioned in correspondence about the sale of Israeli goods in M&S stores in 2008, an M&S spokesperson said that the company buys “from Israel as… from 70 other countries…” and went on to state that the company would continue to do so. The letter continued to say that, “[w]e always put the country of origin on the products we sell. Where we buy Israeli products we label them as products of Israel.”

M&S stocks Israeli grapes, lychees, figs, plums, dates, fresh herbs, sweet potatoes, potatoes (Maris Piper, Desiree, Jacket, Marfona, and King Edward). Many of these products are imported through Carmel-Agrexco, a company part-owned by the Israeli state.

M&S also stocks large quantities of Delta Galil clothing, largely underwear. Delta Galil is Israel’s largest manufacturer and marketer of textiles. It is also a major beneficiary of the establishment of ‘Qualifying Industrial Zones’ (QIZ) in Egypt and Jordan which promote an unequal normalisation of trade arrangements between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt and Jordan. Marks and Spencer also sells textiles produced by Israeli firms, Solog and Polgat.

Until very recently, M&S openly sold products from illegal Israeli settlements. The Guardian reported in 2004 that the company stocked an extensive range of settlement products. Since 2007, however, M&S has made repeated statements to the press claiming that they do not stock goods from the Occupied Territories (see here, for example). In 2008, the store wrote: “We do not buy products from the West Bank, Golan Heights or Gaza as we cannot safely visit the suppliers in these areas because of the current security situation.” It seems probable that the move to cease selling settlement products was, in fact, due to effective campaigning, protests and fear of adverse press coverage.

But despite the above assurance, there is evidence that M&S continues to stock Hadiklaim dates packaged as an M&S own brand product. According to a recent report by School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Hadiklaim, the Israel Date Growers’ Cooperative Ltd, “exports dates from Israel and from the occupied territories, especially Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley.”

In correspondence with SOAS in 2008, David Gregory, Technical Food Director for M&S, stated the following:

“In the past, we have sold dates from this region. However, we made a policy decision sometime ago to cease all purchases from this area. However, our UK suppliers do buy raw material (dates) from the organisation Hadiklaim on our behalf. The contract explicitly prohibits purchase from Palestinian Territories and Hadiklaim source the dates from elsewhere within Israel to satisfy our requirements. Traceability systems are in place to confirm the source of the dates.”

M&S has faced sustained protests due to their historic ideological support for the Israeli state and because of their policy of stocking Israeli goods. Pickets have been held and store signs and billboards subvertised. In Manchester, three pickets were held in January 2009 in response to the bombing of Gaza. Weekly demonstrations have been held in Newcastle and in London. M&S has repeatedly ignored campaigners’ representations against the continued sale of Israeli goods.

Address:
Marks and Spencer plc
Waterside House
35 North Wharf Road
London W2 1NW
Email: customer.services@marks-and-spencer.com

ASDA

ASDA sells Israeli basil, tarragon, rosemary, sage, chives, dill, mint, thyme, passion fruit, mangoes, Blackfine plums, autumn red plums, medjoul dates, dragon fruit, pomegranates, avocados, organic sweet potatoes, sweet pointed peppers (red), sweet potatoes (“Georgia Jet”), frozen meat, biscuits, table wine (red, white, rose & sparkling), garden storage units and tinned grapefruit. ASDA also sells Carmel-Agrexco products (see above).

Since ITN’s 2007 report, ASDA has made several statements denying that it stocks goods in its stores from the ‘West Bank’ (i.e. settlement goods). However, ASDA has recently made several ambiguous statements contradicting its earlier stance. A spokesperson from the company recently wrote, in correspondence with campaigners: “I am sure you can imagine it is very difficult for ASDA to take a position on behalf of all our customers over politically controversial issues such as the current conflict you refer to (the occupation of Palestine). On the sourcing of products from overseas we are always guided by the position of the UK Government and by the European Union on trade policy.”

There is evidence that ASDA does stock goods from illegal Israeli settlements in its UK stores. ASDA stocks potatoes from Mehadrin-Tnuport Export Company (MTex). MTex is now the second-largest Israeli exporter of fresh produce to the UK after Agrexco. In 2005, the company exported 1,500 tonnes to the UK, with a value of £25 million. MTex exports fruit and vegetables from the region, stretching from Lake Tiberias to the Dead Sea; this includes territory both inside and outside the green line.

Campaigners have recently reported seeing herbs labelled ‘West Bank Israeli Settlements’ in ASDA stores. At least that’s accurate labelling but it does contradict ASDA’s previous statements to the press.

Campaigners have held many pickets of ASDA stores in Brighton and London in 2009 protesting against their sale of Israeli goods.

Address:
Paul Mason, Chief Executive Officer
Great Wilson Street,
Leeds LS11 5AD
Telephone: 0113 243 5435
Fax: 0113 241 8666

Co-op

Despite the Co-operative family of businesses’ ethical image, the shelves of its supermarkets and high street stores have been found to carry Israeli products, including Carmel mangoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, sweet peppers (grown by Sulat), cherry tomatoes, herbs, passion fruit, Jaffa oranges and own brand tinned grapefruit.

The Co-op has faced pickets and repeated representations from consumers and campaigners over its sale of produce from illegal settlements and Israeli produce. In the last year, criticism has centred around the sale of settlement produce. For example, campaigners attended the Co-operative Group South East Region General Meeting in January 2008 and raised concerns about the ethics of selling settlement produce. The Co-op board undertook to look into conditions on settlement farms. Throughout the year, the issue was raised with Co-op management by members of the Co-op and its customers.

On the 5th January 2009 Len Wardle, Co-operative Group chair, wrote:

“The Co-operative Group board has decided to suspend sourcing products from illegal West Bank settlements. However, we will continue to trade with Israel and will seek to develop trading links with Palestinian farmers. The Co-operative Group only rarely curtails trade with particular countries or regions. However, in the case of the illegal settlement in the Israeli controlled occupied territories, it has proven to be all but impossible to ensure that supplies derived from the region are not perpetuating injustice and unfair terms of trade. We will no longer source dates, grapes and a number of herbs from the illegal West Bank settlements and will be phasing out the use of similar items from our own brand products.”

In making this statement, the Co-op is the first store to base its reasons for ceasing the sale of settlement goods on ethical concerns. The statement is weaker in some ways than that of M&S, but only in that it precludes the sale of West Bank goods and not produce from the Golan Heights. It is also unclear whether the Co-op’s definition of the West Bank includes East Jerusalem. Moreover, the Co-operative Group does not make any assurance that it will not sell products in its stores supplied by companies which source products from both the settlements and 1948 Israel, such as Hadiklaim, M-Tex and Carmel Agrexco.

In November 2008, YNet claimed that the Co-op had met with the Co-op Israel (a separate organisation) and agreed to open a chain of kosher supermarkets which will be equally owned by Co-op Israel and the UK Co-op. The UK Co-op has refuted this claim but admitted that a meeting took place with Co-op Israel.

On 16th February, 2009, students at the University of Aberdeen protested at the university’s Elphinstone Hall, where Co-op members were meeting, to pressure the food retailer to ban all Israeli products from its stores. A Co-op representative at the meeting said a motion on the subject of Israeli goods was due to be discussed by the organisation’s executive.

Address:
The Co-operative Group
Customer Relations
Freepost MR9473
Manchester
Email: customer.relations@co-op.co.uk

Waitrose

Waitrose stocks Israeli basil, tarragon, thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, chives, sage, oregano, mint, curly leaf parsley, ‘Red Rosa’ pears, sharon fruit, passion fruit, figs, lychees, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, grapes, strawberries, pomelos, pomegranates, galia melons, dragonfruit, organic medjoul dates, hadrawi dates, “Deglet Nour” dates, Cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, ‘Pamino’ peppers, ‘Red Romano’ peppers, mixed peppers, goods from the Tivall vegetarian food range, ‘Food for Thought’ snacks by Beigel & Beigel, cold meat, biscuits, dips and Dead Sea Magik cosmetics (found in John Lewis stores).

Waitrose has refused to enter into any debate about the sale of Israeli goods and its management has repeatedly refused to meet with campaigners. In February 2009, a spokesperson for the store reiterated that Waitrose was “unable to arrange a meeting”. In a letter to one customer, Waitrose said: “Whatever our own views may be about Israeli products, we do not think it is right to ask our buyers to base their choice of products on any other criteria than the commercial ones of quality and value for money.”

Waitrose stocks goods from illegal Israeli settlements and has been unresponsive to the ITN and More 4 reports which have led other stores to label their goods more clearly. The supermarket chain stocks a large range of products sourced from Carmel Agrexco, including a wide variety of organic herbs and vegetables grown on Israeli settlements, mainly in the Jordan Valley, and certified as organic by the Soil Association. Although Waitrose has not made statements to the press about labelling, a store spokesperson said “we clearly label our food to enable our customers to make informed choices.” It appears unclear, however, whether Waitrose still labels some goods from illegal settlements as ‘Made in Israel’.

According to War on Want’s Profiting from the Occupation report, Waitrose sells Beigel and Beigel products. Beigel and Beigel Ltd. is located in the Barkan industrial zone in the occupied West Bank and produces pretzels, savoury biscuits and crackers.

The John Lewis Partnership is one of the only large retailers to sell Ahava beauty products. Ahava is a settlement company based on the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Waitrose also sells dates from settler company Hadiklaim (see above).

Waitrose claims that, if it ceased to deal with Israeli settlements, it would impact on Palestinian farmers. In correspondence with consumers, the retailer has described the settlement farms it works with as “joint Israeli and Palestinian” enterprises. In February 2009, a spokesperson wrote: “We currently take organic cut herbs from two farms in the West Bank on which a mixed Palestinian-Israeli workforce have worked side by side for many years.”

Waitrose has responded to some concerns about the conditions of labourers on settlement farms. However, the response has been to assure customers that each ‘supplier’ audits the relevant settlement farms using a “tight criteria” that relates to “worker hours, salaries and employment contracts.” This effectively means that Waitrose entrusts the auditing of settlement farms to the settlement company supplying the produce, presumably Carmel Agrexco. Waitrose claims that its technical directors have inspected its supplier farms in the West Bank.

Overall, Waitrose has been one of the most intransigent British supermarkets when faced with concern over sale of Israeli produce and Israeli settler produce. The chain has been the subject of protests and pickets across the UK, including in Brighton and London where protesters dressed as burglars and displayed banners claiming “Waitrose sells stolen goods”.

Address:
Waitrose Customer Service Department
Waitrose Limited
Doncastle Road
Bracknell
Berkshire
RG12 8YA
Email: customer_service@waitrose.co.uk

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s sells Israeli oranges, grapefruit, avocados, strawberries, thyme, tarragon, parsley, coriander, rosemary, passion fruit, sharon fruit, ‘Shelly’ mangoes, mejdoul dates, lychees, fresh figs, plums, fruit juice, minneola (tangerines), potatoes (‘Desiree’, ‘Vivaldi’, ‘Rooster’, white, baking, baby, salad), sweet potatoes, peppers (‘Ramiro’), pickled cucumbers, pickled olives, radishes, ‘Splendid’ flowers, ‘Basics’ flowers, ‘Saveur Mediterranean’ hummous, turkey, smoked chicken breast, Rumples party pretzels, Osem croutons, Telma chicken soup mix and soups, feta cheese, Tivall vegetarian food range, ‘Food for Thought’ dips, table wine (red, white, rose & sparkling), Kiddush wine and Yarden wine and Osem foods.

This extensive list includes many products from illegal Israeli settlements, including fresh lemon grass from the West Bank and Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ Pomodorino tomatoes. Sainsbury’s stocks Hadiklaim dates labelled ‘Made in West Bank’ and products from Soda Club, which has an office based in the settlement of Ma’leh Adumin.

Sainsbury’s has said, in correspondence with Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign supporters, that the store is not a political organisation and it does not boycott products from any country. Sainsbury’s does acknowledge, however, that “ethical trading is a growing area of concern for our company and consumers” and that it has an “ethical trading policy.” Whether ethical trading concerns would extend to the sale of goods from an apartheid regime on occupied land, that’s not something the retailer seems interested in answering.

Palestine solidarity campaigners have attended Sainsbury’s PLC shareholders meeting several years running, in an attempt to persuade the company to stop selling Israeli goods and to label its produce more accurately.

Sainsbury’s says it is committed to ‘informative labelling’, despite describing one piece of produce as being from ‘Gaza Strip, Israel’. After the 2007 ITN report about mislabelling of settlement Medjoul dates as ‘Produce of Israel’, Sainsbury’s admitted that it had mislabelled produce and stated that “as from today, all dates from the West Bank will be labelled as coming from the West Bank. We are investigating how this error occurred.”

Meetings have been held between Sainsbury’s management and campaigners and NGOs about the labelling of settlement goods. At a meeting in 2009, James Clark, a ‘public affairs and stakeholder relations spokesperson’, told campaigners that Justin King, CEO of J Sainsbury plc, had written to Hilary Benn, Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), asking him to clarify how retailers should label goods from Israeli settlements. Mr Clark said Sainsbury’s would be revising its labelling policy in the next six months and might consider labelling settlement produce ‘Produce of Israeli Settlement’. Mr Clark was not prepared to listen to arguments that settlements were illegal and argued that the store did not have instructions to this effect from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, despite the fact that this is clearly set out on the FCO website.

Sainsburys have been picketed across the UK by campaigners calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Address:
J Sainsbury plc
33 Holborn
London
EC1N 2HT

Somerfield

Somerfield sells both Israeli goods and settlement goods in its 880 stores. Apax Partners, an investment company with subsidiaries in Israel and which advises funds holding shares in Israeli settlement companies Tnuva, Agrexco Agricultural Export Company and Field Produce Ltd, has a majority of shares in Somerfield.

It seems that because of the takeover by the consortium dominated by Apax Partners in December 2005, Somerfield rescinded its commitment to the Ethical Trading Initiative. However, as of December 2008, Somerfield is in the process of being taken over by the Cooperative Group. It remains to be seen whether Somerfield, under new ownership, will take a similar stance to the Co-op against the sale of Israeli settlement produce.

Address:
Somerfield Group
Somerfield House
Whitchurch Lane
Bristol
BS14 0TJ
tel: 0117 935 9359
fax: 0117 978 0629

Principal sources for this piece:

Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign – www.bigcampaign.org
Palestine Israel Ethical Shopping Initiative – www.easi-piesi.org
Coalition of Women for Peace: Who profits from the Occupation – www.whoprofits.org
War on Want – www.waronwant.org
Palestine Solidarity Campaign – www.palestinecampaign.org
UK economic links with Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory – Report produced by SOAS
Islamic Human Rights Commission – www.ihrc.org
Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group – www.brightonpalestine.org

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