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(en) US, Oakland, Ca. The Dawn #1 - Divestment Movement for Palestine

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 18 Jul 2004 07:16:19 +0200 (CEST)


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An Agence France-Presse report1 about a recent Israeli army action in response
to youth throwing stones, in which soldiers stormed Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque,
firing tear gas canisters inside, reported that several journalists attempting
to report the event were beaten by Israeli soldiers, one of them having their
camera broken and film confiscated. This incident is not unique, nor is it a
recent development.
In "A Gaza Diary,"2 Chris Hedges remembers that during the first Palestinian
uprising, or Intifada (1987-1993), "on a few occasions the Israeli soldiers, angered
at the coverage, turned their weapons toward groups of photographers and cameramen.
They shot rubber bullets into their legs." What does Israel want to hide?

There is a system of apartheid that discriminates against Palestinian
Arabs in favor of Israeli Jews, both in the Occupied Territories and
within the borders of Israel.Israel's supporters talk about Israel's
security as if there were no context, which consists of a military
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967. The context is
that the state of Israel was founded in 1948 on the
backs of nearly 800,000 Palestinian refugees, who currently make
up the largest and longest refugee population in the world. There is
a system of apartheid that discriminates against Palestinian Arabs in
favor of Israeli Jews, both in the Occupied Territories and within
the borders of Israel. (Israel, by the way, currently consists of 78%
of historic Palestine, while the West Bank and Gaza Strip account
for only 22%.) This discrimination is seen in much higher poverty
and unemployment rates for Palestinian Arabs. Two blatantly racist
Israeli laws among many include the recently passed law that says
West Bank and Gaza Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens may
not become residents in Israel; and the "right of return," the
law that states a Jew from anywhere in the world can move to Israel
and become a citizen, while a Palestinian refugee forced from their
home is unable to return to their land.

This discrimination is fundamental to Zionism, the ideology on
which the state of Israel was founded. The Zionist movement has
always been about the creation and maintenance of a state for Jews,
which naturally means that Jews are privileged above non-Jews.
Thus, full equality cannot exist in the land of historic Palestine so
long as there is a state called Israel that is based on Zionism. This
should not have to be even said, but I emphasize it here because it
is inevitable that anti-Zionists be labeled anti-Semites by people
who are either ignorant of the true nature of Zionism or by those
who are politically motivated – Zionism does not equal Judaism,
and so the rejection of Zionism is in no way anti-Semitic. Rather the
rejection of Zionism is, in the words of Tim Wise, a rejection of
"…ethnic chauvinism, colonial ethnocentrism, and national
oppression."3

Israel's supporters also ironically talk about Israel's security
as if Palestinian security is irrelevant, while the number of
Palestinian dead number more than three times the number of
Israeli dead since September 2000 (2933 Palestinians and 898
Israelis have died4), while Israeli soldiers dictate every move of the
entire civilian Palestinian population with their military checkpoints
and city-wide curfews, tanks rolling through Palestinian towns and
refugee camps, with bombs falling on entire city blocks, military
incursions often in the early morning hours, home demolitions,
uprooting of agricultural fields, and the erection of a wall and fence
that confiscates huge tracts of Palestinian land in the West Bank,
and so on. Of course suicide bombings are immoral when they
target innocent civilians, but the terrorism of the Israeli government
is also wrong, and done on a much larger scale. Suicide bombings
should be criticized as an immoral tactic – and one of many
other tactics – of Palestinian resistance to occupation and
apartheid. They should not become the center of the dialogue, as if
they occur in a bubble – as if there hasn't been a
decades-long occupation.

"I am a black South African, and if I were to change the names,
a description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank could describe events in South Africa."As students and as
taxpayers in the United States, we are supporting Israel's
actions. The UC system, for example, uses students' tuition
fees to invest in companies that do business in Israel, such as
General Dynamics, producer of F-16 Falcons that Israel uses
against Palestinians; Lockheed Martin, producer of Israel's
F-16 fighter planes; and the IBM corporation (for more, visit
www.ucdivest.org). The United States government gives more
foreign aid to Israel than to any other country in the world; more
than three times what it gives to all of sub-Saharan Africa. It is also
enough to subsidize the college educations of millions of students in
the U.S. There is now a movement gaining steam calling on
universities to divest from Israel, similar to the movement to divest
from apartheid South Africa in the 1980s (for more information see
www.divest-from-israel-campaign.org). There are unambiguous
similarities between apartheid South Africa and Israeli apartheid.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a South African anti-apartheid activist
and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984, agrees: "I am a black
South African, and if I were to change the names, a description of
what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank could
describe events in South Africa."5 The Archbishop is a
supporter of the movement to divest from Israel.

The divestment movement supports justice, peace, and equality for
all of the people of historic Palestine (Israel and the Occupied
Territories). Desmond Tutu put it well when he said, "If
apartheid ended, so can the occupation, but the moral force and
international pressure will have to be just as determined."6 Like
it or not, we are complicit in Israel's human rights violations of
the Palestinian people, and thus are obligated to act. We must
divest from Israel and end U.S. support for the Israeli apartheid.
Hoo Chie Men

1 Agence France-Presse report, 2 April 2004. [back]

2 Chris Hedges, "A Gaza Diary," Harper's, October
2001. [back]

3 Tim Wise, "Reflections on Zionism from a Dissident
Jew," Z-Net, 5 September 2001. http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2001-09/05wise.htm

4 "Palestinian shot dead by Israelis," AlJazeera.net, 11
April 2004. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/C4DD91DC-D672-4314-A375-213642340BC5.htm

5 Ha'aretz, 25 December 1989.

6 International Herald Tribune, 14 June 2002.
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