Thursday, August 27, 2015

Between the Lines: On Zionist indoctrination in American Jewish schools


Dear friends,
today I am sharing a very good new documentary made by two young American Jewish women, which explores how Israel is taught in American Jewish Day Schools. 
According to the film makers, Ali Kriegsman and Jana Kozlowski, "Between The Lines offers a deep-dive into how Jewish Day Schools teach Israel's controversial narrative, and the students who emerge with quivering loyalty toward their community and the State. We explore the scope of content offered on Israel's history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in various Jewish Day schools across the country."

In the documentary, Kriegsman and Kozlowski seek to explore not only the structure of Jewish day school curricula on Israel and what is and isn't taught about the Israel-Palestine conflict, but also what happens to the students when they go onto college and then feel they were miseducated or undereducated.

What is clear from the documentary is the level of indoctrination about Israel that young American students are receiving is extremely high and that much of the information they are receiving is inaccurate, biased and occurs primarily in order to politically bolster and protect the Israeli state from criticism.

The makers are Ali Kriegsman and Jana Kozlowski, and they say they want to motivate Jewish communities around the country, including “synagogues, camps, schools, programs – to stray from a whitewashed Israel narrative and instead engage alternative perspectives and current day complexities, criticisms, and accomplishments.” - See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/08/student-hysterically-massacre#sthash.amPtBmza.dpuf

Watching the documentary, I was reminded of similar stories recounted to me by many of my American Jewish friends who had become active in Palestine solidarity movement. In particular, it reminded me of a young American Jewish woman I worked with in Palestine several years ago, who story was very similar to many of the young people interviewed in this documentary. This young woman - who has since gone on to become a Rabbi and active in the pro-Palestine BDS campaign - came from a staunchly Zionist family and recounted how during her teenage years she had been active a range of Zionist youth organisations and had regularly visited Israel with her family.  Israel was very much central to her life, so much so that she had decided she would make aliyah (ie. migrate and take up Israeli citizenshp). However, all of this changed when she began attending university in Jerusalem.

For the first time every she encountered Palestinian students who challenged the Zionist narrative she had been taught all her life.  Speaking with me, this young woman recounted how she got in heated arguments with Palestinians students about Nakba.  She refused to believe their account of what happened, refuting that Israel had stolen Palestinian land and had ethnically cleansed Palestinians in 1948. For her Israel was a saviour of people, not an ethnic cleanser. She said it was devastating to be told that Israel had carried out human rights abuses and was not the light unto all nations she had been taught. This began a journey for her, where she started to volunteer with a Jewish peace group to try and learn more. She traveled into the occupied Palestinian territories and began to speak with Palestinians. But still she held her love of Israel. 

Then when Israel began bombing Gaza once more, she organised a gathering in her home town in the USA, which involved prayers for peace and included Jewish, Christian and Muslim worship leaders. She was taken to task by her school for doing so.  My colleague went on to recount how this propelled her even more into wanting to learn why her community could not bear to engage with anything challenged the dominate Zionist narrative. She explained to me how betrayed she felt, by her school, by her religious teachers, by her family and everyone around her.  She felt she had been lied too and deceived and felt a deep sense of betrayal. Eventually, her journey brought to becoming an advocate for Palestine and rejecting Zionism. This caused a major rift with her family, as well as the rest of her community. 

I was fascinated by her story and asked if I could interview her for my blog. She agreed.  But within months of making the interview with her public, she asked me to remove it.  At first, this young woman would not tell why she wanted me to take it down. Her explanation was very confusing. Eventually she admitted that she was being targeted by Zionists at her school, where she was studying to be a Rabbi.  They were attempting to get her kicked out of the school and were using the interview she had done with me to try and get her expelled.  While I would have liked to have kept the interview on my blog, I also did not want her to have to endure any more harassment during a vital stage of her studies, so I agreed to take down the interview.

Hopefully this new documentary will go someway towards the goals that its film makers have set - to encourage American Jewish high school students to do their own outside learning when it comes to Israel's history and current events;
to encourage educators to rethink the curriculum being taught in Jewish Day Schools and Jewish communities to engage with more a critical narrative of Israel rather than continuing to promote a whitewashing of Israel history and actions.

You can check out the website for the documentary by clicking here.

in solidarity, Kim














Sunday, August 23, 2015

Settler violence a logical consequence of Israeli government policies

Dear friends,
please find below my latest article for Red Flag on the murder of Ali Dawabsha and settler violence in the Occupied West Bank.

in solidarity, Kim
**

Settler violence a logical consequence of Israeli government policies





Church in Palestine torched by settlers in June
 
Eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burnt alive in the occupied West Bank on 31 July. Israeli settlers firebombed his family’s house at 2am.

A week after Ali’s charred body was pulled from the home, his 30-year-old father Saad died from injuries sustained in the same attack. Both Saad and his wife, Reham, suffered second-degree burns to more than 80 percent of their bodies. Their other son, Ahmed, sustained burns to 60 percent of his body.

“Burning Palestinian children to death is becoming an annual event”, tweeted independent journalist Dan Cohen – noting that baby Ali’s death occurred just one year after the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir on 2 July 2014. 

Kidnapped by Israeli settlers from outside his home in occupied East Jerusalem, the 16-year-old was taken to a forest, where he was tortured and made to drink petrol before being set alight.

In the aftermath of both Muhammed’s and Ali’s deaths, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and numerous other Israeli politicians expressed “shock” at the brutal murders. In both instances, Netanyahu promised to bring the full force of Israeli law against the perpetrators.

However, the platitudes and condemnations by Netanyahu and other Israeli political figures cannot be taken seriously. They are a performance staged for international consumption. Just one day before the kidnapping of Abu Khdeir, Netanyahu issued a call for vengeance after three missing Israeli settlers were found dead in the West Bank. A week later, Netanyahu launched a murderous 51-day assault on Gaza, killing more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children.

Less than 24 hours after the Dawabshas’ home was firebombed, Israel’s army murdered two more Palestinian teenagers in cold blood. Muhammed Hamid al-Masri was shot dead in Gaza, while Laith al-Khaldi was murdered at Atara checkpoint. Both were 17 years old.

Netanyahu has been one of the leading figures bearing responsibility for settler presence in the occupied West Bank. Elected prime minister in 1996 on a platform of expanding illegal settlement construction, Netanyahu declared during a visit to the illegal Israeli colony of Ariel: “We will be here permanently, forever”.

At the time, 140,000 Israeli settlers were living illegally in the occupied Palestinian territories. Today there are more than 650,000. Campaigning for re-election in January this year, Netanyahu made clear his continued support for the illegal colonies.  “I do not intend to evacuate any settlements”, he told Israel’s Channel Two.

In the two weeks since the death of baby Ali, settlers have continued to firebomb Palestinian homes and attack Palestinian villages. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), settlers have carried out at least 120 violent attacks with impunity on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015.

The murders of Ali and Muhammed are not aberrations, but logical results of the Israeli government’s continued occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Allow My Dress to Introduce Me

Dear friends,
a really wonderful blog by Neveen Hammad about Palestinian women, dress and culture.  This was first published on the Arab American Institute website, but I have added some additional photos at the conclusion of the article.

in solidarity, Kim

***


Allow My Dress to Introduce Me
Posted by Neveen Hammad on August 04, 2015 
Tatreez_Palstn.jpgWhen a Palestinian woman wears her thobe, or traditional Palestinian dress, she is displaying her heritage on her sleeves. Palestinian embroidery, or tatreez, is the artwork featured on each woman’s thobe, and the shapes and colors of the tatreez can be read to understand a woman’s background, heritage, and struggle.

Tatreez dates back to the 8th century CE, and the arrangement of colors and patterns typically indicate what village a woman is from. 

Although it is most often found on women’s thobe, this embroidery is also exhibited on pillowcases and other home accessories. Tatreez embroidery is typically created separately on small pieces of cloth then sown onto larger fabric pieces. Common tatreez designs include geometric shapes and elements of nature, including the sun, moon, stars, mountains, and water. This embroidery is a woman’s form of expression. If a woman from Hebron desires to have children, she would embroider a doll figure on her thobe. Women from the village of Beit Dajan often embroider orange blossoms because that village is known for its orange orchards.

Examining a woman’s thobe is to read about her roots. Certain fabric and thread colors can inform you where she is from, or at least where her thobe was made. While women in the Ramallah region mainly use red for their tatreez designs, which symbolizes life and happiness, other women in Hebron mainly use brown and reddish brown for their tatreez designs. Similarly, the way a woman uses certain colors and designs can tell you about her identity and skill.

Fabrics used to make a thobe include: linen, cotton, wool, and silk. These materials are either produced in Palestine or imported from Egypt, Syria, Europe, India, Damascus, Greece, or Turkey. A type of material used for traditional thobe dresses is referred to as malak, or “royal,” which is a linen material with a high percentage of silk and is predominately used for bridal dresses in Bethlehem.

Traditionally, only a few Palestinian families specialized in the production dyes – using their own secret recipes. Red dye was created from pomegranate skins or insects; the sumac plant was used to make yellow or green dye; purple was made from crushed murex shells; walnut skins were used to produce black dye; and grape leaves produced yellow dye. While indigo fabrics were popular among Bedouins, Biltajeh is a specific indigo-dyed cotton fabric with colored silk borders and is mainly used for dresses in cities along the coast of Palestine. Citizens of Ramallah and Beit Dajan villages prefer white linen and cotton fabrics.

Women in refugee camps in countries other than Palestine still maintain this tradition, which demonstrates that women play an integral role in preserving their ancestral roots, culture, and traditions despite difficult circumstances. 

Neither war, conflict, nor displacement is capable of erasing national identity, culture, or the ability for Palestinians to unite. Tatreez keeps the Palestinian heritage alive. Some Palestinian villages may be gone forever, but tatreez will last and preserve the Palestinian identity, which continues to be under constant threat.


 Palestinian thobes

Soraya Burnat wore a traditional Palestinian thobe at the Oscars in 2014, when her husband Emad Burnat was nominated for an Oscar for  Best Documentary for his film, 5 Broken Camera about their village Bil'in and the struggle of the village and Palestinians against the Israel's apartheid wall and occupation.

                       Palestinian thobes from different Palestinian cities and regions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

MAAN NEWS: Father of slain Palestinian infant dies from his wounds

Dear friends,
more sad news from Palestine. Sadly Saad Dawabsha, the father of baby Ali who was burnt to death when settlers firebombed the Dawabsha family home, has also passed away.  Ali's mother and older brother remain in critical condition.

I will post updates as more news comes to hand.

In solidarity, Kim

**

Father of slain Palestinian infant dies from his wounds


MAAN NEWS: Aug. 8, 2015 9:34 A.M.



(MaanImages)





BETHLEHEM, (Ma'an) -- Saad Dawabsha, the father of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha who was burned alive in an arson attack by Israeli extremists on July 31, died from his injuries early Saturday morning, local sources told Ma'an.

Saad, 30, suffered from third-degree burns covering 80 percent of his body, the Palestinian Minister of Health told Ma'an, and was fighting for his life for more than a week before succumbing to his wounds.

Local sources from the family's village of Duma in the northern West Bank told Ma'an that the family had been notified of the death of Saad soon after he passed, and added that the 30-year-old would be laid to rest on Saturday.
Saad's wife RihamDawabsha, remains in critical condition and suffers third-degree burns across 90 percent of her body.

Saad, along with his wife Riham and other son Ahmad, 4, were immediately taken to the hospital with severe burns after Israeli extremists torched their home in the middle of the night, burning their infant son Ali alive.

Israeli settlers reportedly smashed the windows of two homes in Duma, before throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside, killing infant Ali, who was trapped inside the house, and critically injuring the other family members.

The crime has sparked international outrage, with many observers pointing out that settler attacks against the Palestinian community are common and often go unpunished by the Israeli authorities.


Friday, July 31, 2015

On the murder of 18 month old Ali Saad Dawabsha

Dear friends,
by now you have probably heard about the horrible murder of 18 month old Ali Saad Dawabsha, who was burnt to death after illegal Israeli settlers firebombed the home of his sleeping family.  Ali's family are in critical condition, with his mother suffering third degree burns to 90% of her body, while his father has burns to 80% of his body and Ali's four year old brother has burns to 60% of his body.  All remain in critical danger.

In the last twenty-four hours, we have seen mealy mouth expressions of shock and condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and other Zionist politicians.  Netanyahu and the Israeli state and Zionists who support it, however, are directly responsible for Ali's murder.

I had planned to write a blog discussing this, but this morning another friend sent me Shahd Abusalama's blog on this issue. Shahd expresses precisely the arguments I had hoped to write about, so I am going to respost the link to her blog.  I may still write on this later but for now I will simply repost Shahd's blog.


I have only included the introduction to her blog, so please click on the title to be redirected to her full blog entry. 

You can also follow Shahd on twitter at @ShahdAbusalama  

I have also included the report on Ali's death from Defence for Children International - Palestine.

With great sadness,
Kim

**

The burning of Palestinian toddler is a result of Zionism, not exceptional to it

By Shahd Abusalama: Palestine From My Eyes: 31 July 2015


Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha burned to death in an arson attack by Israeli Settlers
Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha burned to death in an arson attack by Israeli Settlers

Overnight on Friday, 31 July, a group of masked Jewish settlers threw firebombs through a window of the Dawabsha family house in Kufr Douma, near Nablus. They fell in the bedroom where the whole family had been sleeping peacefully, setting the house on fire. The arsonists left graffiti, reading “revenge” and “long live the Messiah”, alongside a Star of David on the walls as their footnotes to this atrocious attack. They then fled, according to local witnesses, to the illegal settlement of Ma’aleh Ephraim, where approximately 1,800 armed settlers live under the security of the Israeli occupation forces.


18-month-old Ali Dawabsha was found a charred body. The rest of the family, Ali’s parents and his four-year-old brother, survived the fire with critical injuries. The aftermath inside the house is horrifying: utter destruction and black walls, burnt clothes and photos of the family laid on the ground, among them Ali’s smiling photos and his tiny white bib reading “Good morning Mama”.

This Israeli attack is another crime in the never-ending Nakba the Palestinian people have endured since Zionism’s inception. Ali is another Mohammed Abu Khudeir, who was burnt alive by a group of settlers in Jerusalem on 2 July 2014. He is another Palestinian child falling prey to the Israeli murder machine, as Palestinians commemorate the first anniversary of Israel’s 51-day offensive on Gaza, which it called ‘Operation Protective Edge’, during the summer of 2014. Over 2,200 people were brutally killed, mostly civilians, including 551 children.


[TO READ THE FULL BLOG, PLEASE CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE BEGINNING]

****

31 July, 2015 - Defence for Children International-Palestine



Ramallah, July 31, 2015—A Palestinian toddler burned to death when suspected Jewish settlers threw firebombs inside two homes in the northern West Bank village of Duma early Friday morning.

Witnesses told Defense for Children International – Palestine that two masked men smashed the windows of two homes and threw firebombs inside, setting them ablaze. One of the homes was empty, but in the other was Saad Dawabsheh’s family. The fire killed Ali Dawabsheh, 18 months, and left Saad, his wife, Riham, and their older son, Ahmad, 4, in a critical condition. The arsonists also spray-painted the words “revenge” and “Long live the Messiah king!” on the walls of the homes.

“I saw my neighbor, Saad, on the ground burning,” eyewitness Ibrahim Dawabsheh, 23, told DCIP. “And standing nearby was a person, approximately 170 centimeters (5 feet 6 inches) tall, wearing a black mask with openings for the eyes and mouth, a black shirt, and dark blue jeans.” He also saw another man, slightly taller and dressed similarly, standing near the burning body of Riham outside the home. Dawabsheh said the men looked like they were checking to see if the two victims were dead or alive. When the two men began to approach him, he ran toward his family home and called out for his brother.

The arsonists fled the scene toward the Maale Efrayim settlement – one of three settlements surrounding Duma – before residents could further identify them, Palestinian media reported.

The Israeli army confirmed the deadly attack by suspected Jewish extremists and launched a search to locate the perpetrators. “This attack against Palestinian civilians is a barbaric act of terrorism,” said Israeli army spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner in a tweet.

“Children are consistently the victims of these persistent and unrestricted attacks at the hands of Jewish extremists,” said Khaled Quzmar, general director of DCIP. “Israel’s condemnation of this heinous act rings hollow as the state’s policies have led to the climate of impunity that makes such violence possible.”

Israel approved this week plans to build 504 new settlement units in East Jerusalem and 300 in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.

Since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it has established some 125 Jewish-only settlements that house 515,000 Israelis. The settlements are woven throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, often dividing the cities, villages and refugee camps of the 2.65 million Palestinians who live there.

According to international law, Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are illegal. Israel, however, claims religious and historical rights to the territory.

Stationed throughout the West Bank, Israeli soldiers, police and private security firms protect settler populations at the expense of Palestinian civilians. Unlike Israeli civilians living across the Green Line, Israel’s pre-1967 boundary with the West Bank, many settlers carry government-issued arms. 

This hyper-militarized environment inflicts disproportionate physical and psychological violence on Palestinian children.
Recent statistics by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than 2,500 settler attacks have occurred since 2006, 324 of which took place in 2014 alone.

Following incidents of settler violence, lack of justice is the norm, and not the exception. In a report published in May 2015, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din found that Israeli police closed more than 85 percent of investigations because of failure “to locate suspects or find sufficient evidence to indict suspects.” Only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli civilian attacks resulted in a conviction.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Gaza: anatomy of an occupation

Dear friends,
please find below an article by my comrade, Liz Walsh for RedFlag on the situation in Gaza today, one year after Israel's 50 day bombing assault which killed more than 2,300 people including 500 children.

In solidarity, Kim


**
A Gazan family breaking their fast during Ramadan amidst the rubble that was previously their home

“One evening, I noticed that Rahet’s skin had changed colour and I became very scared. She had turned blue.”


In January, the Assi family from Gaza lost their 4-month-old girl to hypothermia. Rahet’s death should be added to the 2,257 Palestinians killed by Israel’s savage military assault on Gaza between July and August 2014. The invasion not only took lives, but also laid waste to the territory’s infrastructure.

After the August cease-fire, the Assi family returned to live in their damaged home. During the January winter storms, rain would pour through the holes in the ceiling and collapsed walls caused by Israeli air strikes. The plastic sheeting covering the blown-out windows proved inadequate for the strong wind. Without electricity or heating, the terrible cold took its toll.

During the Gaza war, Israel systematically targeted family homes. Whole neighbourhoods were flattened, with the apocalyptic scenes from the suburb Shuja’iyya only the most chilling. At the time, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, pointed out, “What we are witnessing is the killing of entire families”.

Some damaged homes have begun to be repaired, but nearly a year on from the war, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports, “[N]ot a single destroyed home has been rebuilt”. The basic human right to adequate shelter is denied to an estimated 100,000 people who remain internally displaced in what is the land of permanent refugee camps – 70 percent of Gazans are refugees forcibly expelled from their homes when Israel was established in 1948.

Rahet was also a victim of the crippling economic and military blockade imposed by Israel on the tiny coastal enclave. The failure to rebuild homes, along with dozens of hospitals, schools and other destroyed infrastructure is due to Israel’s blockade. Not enough construction materials are getting through the border crossings. Nor is there enough fuel to fire the Gaza power plant so critical to the functioning of basic services. Hospitals are forced to rely on back-up generators.

The lack of medical supplies and equipment forces more than 1,000 patients a month to seek help in Israeli or West Bank hospitals. But access to specialised health care is dependent on attaining an exit visa from Israel. These are frequently denied or delayed. And despite the occasional easing of restrictions, the majority of Gazans are ineligible for exit visas.

Rolling power outages of up to 12 hours also limit the supply of water to households. It runs for only two or three days a week, keeping per capita water consumption at 60 percent of the minimum recommended by World Health Organisation.
And that’s for those connected to the water network. An estimated 120,000 Gazans remain without a municipal water supply due to unrepaired infrastructure.

For a period, the complex rabbit warren of smuggling tunnels that connect Egypt to Gaza had been a lifeline. These are still open, but they are much diminished. Egypt floods them with sewage, and Israel frequently bombs them from the sky.
Egypt is imposing its own militarised buffer zone along the border with Gaza to strangle the economy further. The Rafah crossing had been opened for only five days this year as of April.

Occupation
Israel extended its grip over Palestinian lives when it seized Gaza from the Egyptians and the West Bank from the Jordanians in the 1967 war. That the West Bank is occupied territory – with its military checkpoints, Israeli-only roads, apartheid wall and 300,000 illegal and mostly armed fanatical settlers – is obvious.

But today Israel maintains that Gaza is no longer occupied. It did remove illegal settlements and permanent military installations in September 2005. At the time, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon announced “the end of Israeli control over and responsibility for the Gaza Strip”.

This was a lie.

Israel controls Palestinian tax revenue, which it has been withholding for months in protest at Palestine’s accession to the International Criminal Court. Thousands of public employees in Gaza go without salaries. Absenteeism is high because workers can’t afford the travel costs to get to work.
Israel controls Gaza’s population registry.

Israel periodically lays waste to Gaza’s already inadequate infrastructure. Israel has a vice grip on Gaza’s land, sea and air borders.The aim is to keep the Gazan economy paralysed, stunted and always on the verge of collapse.

Real per capita income is now 31 percent lower than 20 years ago. The unemployment rate is 43 percent. For youth the figure is more than 60 percent. Eighty percent of the population is dependent on some form of international aid.

Food insecurity stands at 73 percent because much of Gaza’s farmland, greenhouses, animal shelters and irrigation systems were destroyed by the 2014 war.

Today farmers risk their lives to tend their land. Since 2012, Israel has imposed a “security buffer zone” along the eastern and northern borders, annexing precious arable land. Israeli military jeeps drive up and down this area shooting at farmers who get anywhere near the buffer zone.

Fishermen face similar obstacles. The 1993 Oslo Accords established the right to fish up to 20 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast. But for years, fishermen have been confined to a mere three nautical miles – the waters most polluted by untreated sewage and where only small fish are to be caught.

The August cease-fire agreement was meant to extend this to six nautical miles, but keeping within this area hasn’t ensured safety. Israeli navy harassment and firing on fishermen is an almost daily occurrence. Three have been shot dead since September, according to the Union of Fishermen. Fishermen are also arrested and interrogated for days. Others have their boats and nets confiscated and destroyed.

War and occupation have left indelible scars on Gaza’s children. Seven-year-olds in Gaza have lived through three major wars. They have lost scores of family and grieve for those who should be filling the empty chairs in their classrooms. Many will suffer permanent disabilities. Most are traumatised. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that nearly 425,000 children in Gaza are in need of immediate psychosocial support.

The bleak picture in Gaza is a product of Israel’s control over the most basic aspects of daily life. It exposes the lengths Israel will go to in order to crush the Palestinian will to resist.
 
But resilience and quiet defiance continue. We can see this in the determination of children to return to school and with the families currently breaking their fast during Ramadan amid the rubble of what previously was their home.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Melbourne Pro-Palestine activists shut down Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, on anniversary of Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza.

Dear friends,
it's been a horribly cold and rainy day in Melbourne today, but a small group of activists ignored the weather and have once more shut down Elbit Systems in Melbourne.

The activists have continued to blockade the site all day, with a number of activists "locking on" to Elbit's gates. 

At the same time in the UK, Palestine solidarity activists have also successfully shut down Elbit Systems in Kent.


Please find below the media release from the activists, as well as photos and video from the action.


You can follow the Melbourne action on twitter at: @akaWACA

You can follow the UK action on twitter at:
@blockthefactory


in solidarity, Kim 

***

Pro-Palestinian activists shut down Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, on anniversary of Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’ assault on GAZA.

Media Release July 6, 2015
For Immediate Release


NOTE: This action is currently ongoing at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne.
At 8am members of the Melbourne Palestine Action Coalition (MPAC) shut down the headquarters of Israeli arms manufacturer, ELBIT SYSTEMS, at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne to mark the first anniversary of the 2014 Israeli ‘Protective Edge’ assault on Gaza. The group have blockaded access to the building and currently have two people locked on to the entrance gate, who state that they are prepared to remain there as long as possible. This is the second time the pro-Palestinian group has disrupted Elbit Systems, the first time being in August 2014 when they occupied the building’s roof and blockaded the entrance to Elbit during the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza. (see more photos of the previous action )

MPAC spokesperson Kat Moore explains: “This blockade is part of an International campaign to shut down Elbit Systems and coincides with events in London later today, to mark the anniversary of the deadly assault on GAZA last year. We are here today to demand the Australian Government end military trade deals with Israel and cancel all domestic contracts with Elbit Systems. We, like many other groups around the world, call on the UN and all governments to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel.” 

Elbit Systems is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial drones used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in their ongoing siege and frequent military offensives in Gaza. MPAC are also targeting the arms manufacturer over domestic contracts with the Australian military and federal police. The group claim the Australian government have awarded 185 procurement contracts to Elbit Systems since 2007 totaling $704,728,650* of Australian tax payer dollars, during a period which saw the most egregious crimes against the Palestinian people in the near 50-year illegal Israeli occupation of their lives and territories, including;

2008/2009 Operation ‘Cast Lead’
2012 Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’
2014 Operation ‘Protective Edge’


MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated: “Israel's ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world, one of the most vigorous funders being the Australian Government. By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel's military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity”

In the final report from the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, issued on June 22, 2015, the UN state “serious violations of international humanitarian law” that “may amount to war crimes” and that “impunity prevails across the board” regarding the actions of Israeli forces in Gaza”.

UN Representative for the report, Ms. McGowan Davis, hopes the report will persuade governments to address “the crying need” for changes in policies regarding the use of weapons with a wide-area effect in densely populated areas. The commission said that “the scale of the devastation was unprecedented” in Gaza, where it counted 2,251 Palestinian deaths and 18,000 homes destroyed.

MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated, ‘This is just the beginning of a global campaign to stop the war profiteering of private corporations off the people of Palestine and others around the world. Israel's military technology is marketed as "field-tested" and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel's system of occupation, colonization and systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

‪#‎ShutDownElbit‬ ‪#‎StopArmingIsrael‬ ‪#‎BlockTheFactory‬ ‪#‎FreePalestine‬

MEDIA CONTACT (currently onsite)
Sam Castro 0439 569 289
Kat Moore 0422 258 159


-END-

video

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FURTHER BACKGROUND
Elbit contracts
Asia
Media reported on October 22, that Elbit Systems has been awarded contracts from an unnamed Asian country for roughly $85 million, as Israel's Asian ties continue to blossom. While the contracting country was left unnamed, the F-5 is currently widely in use both in China and South Korea.
For more see: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/186428…


Brazil
Elbit Systems announced on December 23 that its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, LLC ("Elbit Systems of America"), received a directed subcontract from the Brazilian Navy for the upgrade of four Grumman C-1A aircraft. The prime contract is held by Marsh Aviation Company of Mesa, Arizona. The subcontract, valued at $106 million, will be performed by Elbit Systems of America over a five-year period.
For more information see: http://www.prnewswire.com/…/elbit-systems-us-subsidiary-awa…


Canada
On October 31, Elbit Systems announced that it has been awarded a contract to deliver its mobile satellite communications system, ELSAT 2100 satellite-on-the-move (SOTM), to the Canadian Armed Forces. Awarded by Rheinmetall Canada, work will be carried out over an 18-month period. Financial details of the contract remain undisclosed.
For more see: http://www.army-technology.com/…/newscanadian-armed-forces-…


European Union
The F-35 might undercut the European arms export policy - Nine countries are officially participating in the F-35 program, all based in North America and Europe. Although Israel is not one of the 'nine', it is also participating in the production of the F-35. Israeli arms company Elbit Systems has been selected to join the production of the F-35’s helmet-mounted display systems together with Rockwell Collins from the U.S.


Clients for the F-35 come from Asia and the Middle East, including the UAE and Israel. This raises the heat, because when countries join in F-35 production, the export policies of the US will be followed. European restrictions on exports, which would theoretically prohibit exports that prolong armed conflict, or in countries that disrespect human rights and international humanitarian law - will not be taken into account as it is stated in a Memoranda of Understanding. This will facilitate Israeli demands to buy the fighter jets, even though it has been extensively proven that they will be used against the Palestinians.
For more see: http://www.stopwapenhandel.org/node/1693


Germany
On November 17, news reports informed that Elbit Systems will equip Airbus A400M airlifters of the German Air Force with Elbit Systems' J-MUSIC Multi-Spectral Directed Infrared Counter Measure systems.
For more see:http://www.upi.com/…/Elbits-anti-missile-sy…/3461416583471/…; http://www.flightglobal.com/…/little-meaningful-success-up…/


Latin America
Elbit Systems announced on August 13 that it was awarded a contract to supply a Latin American country with Command, Control (C4I) systems.
The project, to be performed over a three-year period, is part of the extensive modernization program and is designated for all echelons, from the maneuvering forces up to the command headquarters. The new, unified communications network will play an important role during emergencies and natural hazards and disasters and will facilitate a real-time common operational picture, providing the Land Forces with enhanced operational performance and situational awareness.
For more see: http://ir.elbitsystems.com/phoenix.zhtml…


USA
On October 13, Elbit Systems announced that its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, LLC, ("Elbit Systems of America"), was awarded an approximately $12.7 million contract to provide Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets (AAIH) to the United States Army.
For more see: http://www.streetinsider.com/…/Elbit+Systems+L…/9904689.html

On November 11, Elbit Systems announced that its wholly-owned US subsidiary Elbit Systems of America has been awarded a five-year, $29 million contract by the United States Air Force (USAF). The contract is for logistics support of the USAF’s F-16 head-up display (HUD) electric module assemblies. For more see: http://www.globes.co.il/…/article-elbit-systems-wins-29m-us…

On December 16, news reported that Elbit Systems of America has signed a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement with Ogden Air Logistic Complex (OO-ALC) to improve support for US soldiers. The agreement defines how the two entities will work together during prospective contract opportunities to bring the best possible services and solutions to soldiers.
For more information see: http://www.airforce-technology.com/…/newselbit-ogden-air-lo…


Victories of the Stop Elbit Campaign
Elbit Systems loses key Brazil deal over Palestine protests
On December 3 the governor of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul released an open letter announcing the end of a major collaboration deal with Israeli military company Elbit Systems in the wake of protests over the firm’s role in the oppression of Palestinians. Brazilian social movements and trade unions and Palestinian groups had called on authorities to cancel the deal over Elbit’s role in the construction of Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall in the occupied West Bank and its close relationship with the Israeli military.

Rio Grande do Sul governor Tarso Genro had signed a research cooperation deal making Elbit the first Israeli military company to lead Brazilian military projects in April 2013. Elbit was to be provided access to public funding and technologies produced by four local universities. A $17 million dollar plan to build a military satellite is among the projects cancelled
For more see: http://www.stopthewall.org/…/bds-success-elbit-systems-lose…


The Netherlands
After news of protests, Elbit decides not to present its new missile system at the Rotterdam arms fair. On November 20, seven organizations and some 50 individual activists staged a protest against the NIDV arms fair held at the AHOY in Rotterdam. The announcement of the protest a few days before appeared to have caused considerable commotion. As a result Elbit decided not to display its new missile system at the fair, but to limit its presentation to a stall with leaflets. This was reported by the Dutch rightwing morning paper DeTelegraaf, after which the press ran out to follow the events.
For more see: http://www.docp.nl/video-elbit-geintimideerd-door-protesta…/


In 2009, Norway’s finance minister announced the country would withdraw all government investment in Elbit due to its involvement in building a security wall in the West Bank.
Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, has Elbit on its list of companies excluded from investment because of the company’s involvement in “supplying electronic equipment in conflict with human rights norms”.

UK
Shenstone – Elbit subsidiary
After the occupation of an Elbit subsidiary in Shenstone by pro-Palestine activists in August, on Friday October 10, people from churches in Birmingham and Lichfield, supported by staff and students from a Birmingham theological college, sounded bells, whistles and drums outside the plant. The Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines, produces engines for the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 Elbit drones, used and developed during the massacres in Gaza.
For more see: http://www.lichfieldmercury.co.uk/…/story-231797…/story.html


Newport
Pro-Palestine and anti-NATO protestors that took action in a Barclays branch in Newport on September 5 during the NATO summit were cleared from charges on November 11. Three women and one man super glued themselves to desks in the branch of the UK bank that is the biggest institutional shareholder of Elbit Systems to protest the bank's complicity with Israel's war crimes.
 

For more see: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/…/11592911.Not_guilty_ver…/
#StopArmingIsrael
A number of UK organisations coordinated protest actions all over the country on November 29, the UN day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, to pressure the UK government and British companies to end all relationships with Israeli arms companies and to end all forms of military cooperation with Israel.


BARCLAYS branches across the country were forced to close after pro-Palestine activists staged sit-in demonstrations. The flagship Barclays branch in Piccadilly Circus closed three hours early as 35 people from the London Palestine Action Network held a sit-in occupation.
For more information see: http://www.stopthewall.org/…/barclays-branches-across-uk-fo…; http://electronicintifada.net/…/barclays-boycotted-ov…/14056

Switzerland

The Swiss government plans to purchase six Elbit drones during 2015. A large coalition of Swiss civil society has started a campaign to stop this purchase.
In October a petition was launched to ask for the cancellation of the plans. Around 27,000 people have signed the petition, which will be delivered in February.
During October a series of public conferences have been held to raise awareness about the planned deal to support the Israeli war industry.


The campaign continues; the campaign poster and more info can be found at:
http://www.bds-info.ch/index.php/fr/ in French or http://www.bds-info.ch/index.php/de/ in German.
France
According to the French Chief of the Defense Staff, the French army plans to replace its tactical drones by 2016/2017. According to the head of the Direction General de l’Armement, this technological choice could be made during 2015. Among the possible choices, the Watchkeeper drone is highly placed.


Watchkeeper is developed by the United Kingdom branch of the French group Thales (a subsidiary of Elbit Systems) and based on the Elbit Systems drone Hermes 450.
In January the French BDS Committee started a petition to launch a campaign against the purchase of the Watchkeeper drones.


For more information and to sign the petition, see: http://pasdedronesisraeliens.wesign.it/en