Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Asaf Harel to Israelis: Wake Up and Smell The Apartheid.

Dear friends,
apologies for posting this late. I have been meaning to post this almost two weeks but have been swamped with other work and study.  Hopefully by now many of you will have seen Israel writer, director and comedian Asaf Harel's scathing indictment of Israeli society. In a monologue, Harel on Israeli television implored Israelis  to wake up and smell the apartheid.  In the monologue, Harel pulls no punches saying: "Apartheid has been here for ages ... it's just that we are on its good side, so it doesn't really bother us". 

He went on to point out:  "Israel's most impressive innovation, more than any high-tech project or Rafael weapn, is our amazing ability to ignore what is happening mere kilometres away to our neighbours. A whole people. Transparent. Like it doesn't exist. Not in the news, not online, not on social media and definitely not in the hearts of the people. Nothing".

I have included the full clip of his monologue with translation below, along with an article from Haaretz on his stand.

in solidarity, Kim

In Last Monologue, Israeli Comedy Show Host Implores Israelis to Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid

Asaf Harel's scathing indictment of Israeli society has gone viral.
Haaretz Mar 01, 2017

An Israeli comedy show host's searing indictment of Israeli society has gone viral on social media, raking in over 5,000 shares in the two days since it was posted on the show's Facebook page on Monday.

In the video, Asaf Harel of "Good Night With Asaf Harel" castigates Israelis for ignoring the occupation and claims that Israel is an apartheid state.

"Good Night," which was aired by Channel 10, was one of Israel's most controversial shows on mainstream television in recent years. In one instance, the show was fined after Harel ridiculed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for exploiting his brother's death for political gain.

The episode was "Good Night's" last, as the show was not renewed for another season due to poor ratings, even though the show has gained a strong following on social media.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Haaretz: Jeff Halper detained for "alleged possession of BDS Material".

Dear friends,
news just in that well-known Israeli-American activist, Jeff Halper was detained by Israeli police for "possession of BDS Material".  Please find the full text of the Haaretz article below. As the article notes, even if Halper did have BDS material and even if he was distributing it, he would not have been in violation of any Israeli law, including Israel's anti-BDS laws. Clearly this is a case of harassment and intimidation.

in solidarity, Kim


Jeff Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was held after leading a tour of the E1 area across the road from the Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.
 Yotam Berger Haaretz, Mar 13, 2017

Police detained Israeli American left-wing activist Jeff Halper on Monday at the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement, for suspected incitement, saying they acted on a complaint he had "materials related to BDS" in his possession.

Halper, picked up after leading a tour of foreigners to the E1 site across the road from the settlement, was transported by police van to a nearby station then released without being placed under arrest.

Police officers photographed the posters and maps he was holding before freeing him. Halper denies handing out any material related to BDS during the tour, or even discussing the boycott movement.

Handing out such materials would not have been in violation of the law, even a 2011 anti-boycott law according to which a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott's targets without them having to prove that they sustained any damage.

The law also denies a person or a company that declares a boycott of Israel or the settlements eligibility to bid for government tenders. A separate law passed this month entitles Israel to deny entry to pro-BDS activists.

Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told Haaretz he was on a tour with foreign visitors in the territories last Wednesday. He took the group of 15 to a lookout over Area E1, near Ma'aleh Adumim.

"It's a good place to show them this context of where Ma'aleh Adumim is located relative to Jerusalem. It's a regular stop on our tours, this wasn't the first time I was taking a group to this spot," Halper said.

After the tour the tourists boarded a bus headed north and he headed to catch a bus to Jerusalem, but "as I ran toward a bus, I saw police in the area, and I saw them talking and contacting the group. I called the Palestinian driver (of the bus transporting the tourists) and he said he had heard a rumor that we were distributing BDS material."

"Suddenly the bus came to a stop in the Middle of Maaleh Adumim, after two stops, the police boarded the bus and told me, you are being detained, and they took me off the bus," Halper said.

Halper was questioned about the material he had.

"They didn't tell me why I was being detained; they said something about BDS, but no details. They put me into a van, which is unpleasant as it is. They drove me in the direction of the police station. Just when we got to the station they stopped asked me a few questions about what I had in my bag and whether I had any BDS material in the bag.

"We got out of the vehicle and they threw my maps on the van, the maps were of Jerusalem and the greater Jerusalem area. There was also something on which it was written BDS or for BDS, it's something that I use.

"I say that we have no solution to offer and I propose a binational democratic state, so I have the slogan that goes BDS for BDS. It's not a sticker or flyer, but just a map with those words on it.

"They found it and took it, wrote up a summons or something like that, and released me," Halper said.

Halper said the police refused to give him a copy of the ticket or explain what he was suspected of.

In response to a query from Haaretz, the Samaria regional police said:

"There is no investigation into this matter. There was information checked by a patrol once it became clear he committed no violations, he was freed."

Police spokespeople said the suspicion against him is "incitement" but he was released after questioning, and no further investigation was expected to take place.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Israel’s New Travel Ban: A Survival Kit for Activists Stopped at Israel's Airport

Dear friends,
you may have heard about that the Knesset has passed a new law automatically banning supporters of the Palestinian initiated and lead, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign from being able to enter Israel. As a number of commentators have noted, the new law in many way doesn't change things that much - Israel was already able to ban pro-Palestine activists for not only supporting BDS but also just for being pro-Palestine.   However, what this law does do is make it clear (once again), that Israel has no intention of ever ending its apartheid regime, occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.

Below are two articles from Haaretz: the second discusses the passage of the bill/law, while the first offers some advice to activists in regard to the "travel ban" and new law. While this advice is limited, it is still worth the read.

If any other relevant articles relating to the new law emerge, which might provide a solid analysis, clarity and information about the law, come to light I will post them as well.

In solidarity, Kim

Israel’s New Travel Ban: A Survival Kit for Activists Stopped at Israel's Airport

What happens if you've ever signed a petition condemning the Israeli occupation? This is your survival kit for entry into the country at Ben-Gurion airport.
Judy Maltz: Haaretz: Mar 09, 2017

Pro-Palestinian activists arrested after attempting a 'fly in' protest in Israel's Ben Gurion Airport Daniel Bar-On.

New legislation passed in the Knesset this week would deny entry into Israel to any foreign nationals who openly call for boycotting the country, even if the boycott is restricted to West Bank settlements.

Amendment No. 27 to the Entry Into Israel Law (No. 5712-1952) stipulates that the entry ban will apply to any non-citizen “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.” It applies not only to boycotts of Israel, but also to boycotts of any Israeli institutions or “any area under its control” – a clear reference to the settlements.

Does this mean that anyone who ever signed a petition condemning the Israeli occupation could be taken into custody upon landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport? Does it mean that anyone who ever wrote a Facebook post announcing his or her decision to refrain from buying wine produced in the settlements could be sent back home on the next outbound flight? Will foreign nationals arriving at the airport be subject to more scrutiny? And who needs to be concerned?

We asked some legal experts to predict what changes can be expected on the ground, in wake of the new legislation, and to provide some tips for travelers who are worried they might be targeted now. Here’s what they had to say:

      Israel’s new travel ban: A survival kit for activists stopped at Israel's airport Haaretz

What will change in practice now that this new amendment has taken effect?

Under the Entry Into Israel Law, which was enacted in 1952, the Minister of Interior was already authorized to ban individuals from entering the country at his discretion, even if they have already obtained visas. As Oded Feller, an expert on immigration issues at the Association of Civil Rights in Israel notes: “Even before this amendment was added to the law, the Ministry of Interior felt free to detain at Israel’s borders those suspected of opposing Israeli policy, and in certain cases, even to deport them.” That has included not only supporters of an all-out boycott against Israel but even individuals simply critical of the Israeli government.

Such was the case last month when Jennifer Gorovitz, a senior executive at the New Israel Fund, was detained at the airport for 90 minutes and interrogated about her organization’s activities and its funding of various Israeli nonprofits. But as Feller points out, Gorovitz was not the first Jewish visitor to be pulled aside for questioning at the airport. “Other prominent examples that come to mind from previous years,” he said, “are Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein,” both well-known critics of Israel. For this reason, Yadin Elam, another Israeli attorney who specializes in human rights and immigration, believes the new amendment is more declarative than anything else. “Nothing really has changed in practice,” he says. “Before this, the Minister of Interior also had the power to bar entry of individuals who called for a boycott of Israel. The difference now is that the ban is automatic, and the Minister of Interior can, at his discretion, overturn it.” So is there reason to believe more people will be stopped at the airport now? “Only time will tell,” says Feller, “but probably.”

Is supporting a boycott enough grounds for being denied entry into Israel?

Pro-Palestinian protest in New York City. Anadolu Agency

The law does not ban those who support a boycott. Rather, it bans individuals, as well as representatives of organizations, that have issued a public call for a boycott that has “a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott.” Most legal experts say that it will ultimately be left to the courts to define what exactly that entails. Knesset Member Roy Folkman (Kulanu), one of the sponsors of the legislation, has said the ban would not apply to someone who has signed a petition in favor of a boycott. Feller is not convinced. “Once the amendment has been enacted, it will be up to the courts and the authorities to interpret it,” he says. “Folkman is not its interpreter and has no influence on how it will be implemented.”

How will Israeli Border Police know if someone has ever issued a call for a boycott?

Herein lies the big problem with this new amendment to the law, as Elam notes. “It is virtually impossible to implement,” he says. “Sure they have black lists, and they always have. But they also have gray lists. Are they going to start Googling every person on those lists who enters the country? Are they going to force every foreigner to pledge loyalty to the state of Israel when they enter the country or sign a form that they have never called for a boycott?”

Say you get stopped at the airport now, are Border Police allowed to search your bags?

Yes, and this has been true ever since the Entry Into Israel Law was enacted in 1952.  The law doesn’t specify, however, what types of searches are allowed.

Can they ask to search your digital devices?

This is trickier. As Feller notes, cellphones and tablets did not exist 55 years ago when the law was passed. “It could be argued that since the law does not give the authorities the explicit right to pry in this way, that they don’t possess such a right,” he says. “But as we know, when it comes to Israeli immigration authorities, many things are done without specific authorization.” And what should someone do if they are asked to unlock their phones or reveal their passwords to social media? Feller says they have the right to refuse but they should be mindful that they might then be detained or put on the next flight out of the country. Elam calls it a “Catch-22 situation.” “If you hand over your phone, there’s the risk they will see things you don’t want them to see, but if you don’t hand it over, there’s the risk that they’ll think you’re hiding something.”

What precautions should be taken to avoid being detained or sent back home?

For those concerned that things they may have said, signed or written in the past might be used against them now, Elam shares the following advice, which he gives all foreign nationals fearful that they might not be welcomed into Israel: Book a flight on a weekday, rather than a weekend, and on a regular airline, rather than a charter flight. “The reason I say a weekday is that you don’t want to be stuck in a detention facility over the weekend here,” he explains, “and the reason I say a regular airline is that usually they fly back and forth one the same day, while with charter flights, it could take a week until there’s a flight back, and they you’ll be stuck in detention all that time.”

What about those Jews who love Israel but hate the occupation – any special precautions they should take before booking their tickets to Israel now?

Elam says they might want to consider getting a letter from the Israeli consulate near their hometown or a local Jewish leader vouching that they are loyal members of the Jewish community. “Still,” he cautions, “there is really no way to guarantee that they won’t face any problems once they get here.

read more:


Israel's Travel Ban: Knesset Bars Entry to Foreigners Who Call for Boycott of Israel or Settlements
New law doesn't include caveat urged by Justice Ministry: To exempt Palestinians who reside in Israel.

Jonathan Lis: Haaretz: Mar 07, 2017

       A BDS demonstration in southern France, June 2015. George Robert, AP

The Knesset gave its final approval Monday evening to a bill that forbids granting entry visas or residency rights to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlements.

The interior minister would be able to make exceptions to this rule if he deems it warranted in a particular case.

The bill, which was enacted into law after it passed its second and third readings, was backed by 46 lawmakers and opposed by 28.

Zionist Union this time imposed coalition discipline against the bill, after it gave its MKs freedom to vote as they choose during its first reading. The Knesset Interior and Environment Committee approved the final wording of the boycott bill, whose goal is to fight the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

It says the entry ban will apply to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility.”

This definition was copied from a 2011 law that permitted civil lawsuits against BDS activists.

The ban would apply not just to people who call for boycotts against Israel, but also to those who call for boycotts of any Israeli institution or any “area under its control” – i.e., the settlements.

The Justice Ministry urged the Interior Committee to make an exception for Palestinians with temporary residency in Israel, like those admitted under the family unification program, who spend several years as temporary residents before receiving permanent residency.

Exempting these Palestinians from the ban would make it easier for the law to withstand a court challenge, the ministry argued. But the committee rejected this idea.

One of the bill’s sponsors, MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu), said during the debate, “It’s possible to feel national pride and still believe in human rights. It’s possible to defend the name and honor of the State of Israel and there’s no shame in that. This law represents Kulanu as a nationalist socially oriented party that believes in a balance between national pride and human rights.”

Another sponsor, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), said, “What does this law say, after all? A healthy person who loves those who love him and hates those who hate him doesn’t turn the other cheek.”

The leader of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, strongly criticized the legislation, telling the Knesset of his recent trip to the J Street Conference in the U.S.: "I was in the U.S. two weeks ago, I saw there thousands of Jews who support a boycott of the settlements. These are people who act not against the state but against the occupation.

"I'm against the occupation and for a boycott of the settlements that are a war crime and the theft of land from private individuals. The occupation will end up making Israel a leper everywhere."

MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) said, “Who today doesn’t oppose a boycott of the settlements? Look at the UN, at the EU, at what’s happening in the international community. Do you want to boycott all of them and refuse them entry to Israel? The whole world thinks the settlements are illegal. You are essentially promoting a move that will strengthen the boycott of Israel.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) added, “We’re talking about a law that is against freedom of expression, that constitutes political censorship and is meant to silence people. It’s ostensibly against the boycotters of Israel but it doesn’t make a distinction between Israel and the settlements and it thus serves the BDS movement.”

Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson responded to the ban saying that "On the same day as the Trump administration signed the second version of an unconstitutional and discriminatory executive order barring visitors from specific Muslim countries, Israel just passed its own discriminatory travel ban barring supporters of nonviolent tactics to end Israel's violations of Palestinian rights.

"My grandparents are buried in Israel, my husband and kids are citizens, and I lived there for three years, but this bill would bar me from visiting because of my work in support of Palestinian rights. I'm very proud to support the BDS movement, and hope that the response to this ban will hasten the day when anyone can travel there freely."

Peace Now said the ban is "neither Jewish nor democratic" and "a clear violation of freedom of expression. Through this law the Bennetyahu government will not prevent boycott but rather, deteriorate Israel's international standing and lead Israel towards international isolation."

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said "the law violates basic democratic rules in that it sets a political position as a reason to prevent foreigners from entering Israel and occupied territory. Those who wish to visit certainly do not have to toe the current Israeli government's position on the issue of occupation.

"The law's damage is expected to be particularly great for tens of thousands of Palestinian families where a member is either a temporary resident or holds only a temporary entrance permit and will now be exposed to having these rights lifted for the expression of a political view." 

Adalah and ACRI had appealed to Knesset members ahead of the law's approval, writing that "the interior minister is not entitled to act like a commissar standing at the gate and deciding for the citizenry and residents of occupied territory who depend on Israeli checkpoints, which viewpoints are entitled to be heard.

"Freedom of speech is not only about the right to speak, but also the right to be exposed to opinions, even opinions that outrage or anger the majority in Israel.

read more: