Friday, June 21, 2013

Palestine in photos

Dear friends,
my friend Katerina is currently in Palestine and she has been sending back some beautiful, amazing and moving photos.  She has given me permission to post some of her photos here.

in solidarity, Kim 


 Palestinian anti-occupation artwork

 Palestinian embroidery

 Qalandia checkpoint sign, Occupied West Bank

 Qalandia Checkpoint, Occupied West Bank

 Ramallah Street view, Occupied West Bank

 Israeli colony of Halamish, Occupied West Bank

The home of a Palestinian friend, Occupied West Bank

Sweets and gifts for a Palestinian friend's birthday celebration

 Donkey in field, Occupied Bir Zeit

  Return key, Aida Refugee Camp, Occupied Bethlehem

 Mural painted on Apartheid Wall - Aida Refugee camp, Occupied Bethlehem

Original keys from those who fled their homes in 1948, which they took with them because they intended to return. Though they still wait in the camp to return to their homes 65 years later, now most of their villages don't exist anymore as they have been renamed and inhabited by Israel - Aida Refugee Camp
, Occupied Bethlehem

 Original suitcases used by Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948 - Aida Refugee Camp, Occupied Bethlehem

Apartheid Wall - Occupied Bethlehem

 Aida Refugee camp wall, Occupied Bethlehem

 Abandoned shops in a once bustling city. Palestinians left due to harassment from illegal Israeli settlers and Israeli occupation forces. Occupied Hebron, Palestine
 Rusted tin barriers, Occupied Hebron

 Occupied Hebron, Palestine

 Mosque of Ibrahim (Abraham), where Rebekah, Sarah, Abraham and Rachel are buried. 
Occupied Hebron, Palestine. 

 The tomb of Ibrahim/Abraham. Muslims can only look from this side, Jewish worshippers 
only from the window on the other side, Occupied Hebron, Palestine

85 year old mufti whose mosque and home, once next to each other, are now separated by the apartheid wall built by Israel 3 yeas ago. He must now go through checkpoints to move between the two. - Occupied Hebron, Palestine.

How to stop illegal Israeli settlers who live on top of Palestinian shops from throwing rubbish onto Palestinians below.  Occupied Hebron, Palestine
Occupied Hebron, Palestine

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Australian newspaper and BDS: A case study in obsession

Dear friends, 
please find below my latest article on the Murdoch press and the reporting of BDS in Australia.  The article, in particular, focuses on The Australian newspaper's obsession with the Palestinian BDS campaign.  

The article has been published by Overland Journal, one of Australia's oldest literary and political journals.

In solidarity, Kim


A case study in obsession

Two months before he was assassinated, Malcolm X, in a speech at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in December 1964, spoke about the influence of the corporate media. Malcolm told his audience that the corporate media often worked in the service of those in power and sought to convince ordinary people not to fight on the side of the oppressed. ‘If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing,’ he said.

For anyone following closely the Australian newspaper’s coverage over the last month of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, Malcolm X’s words ring true. As most pro-Palestine supporters in Australia will be aware, the Australian has developed an obsession with the campaign, which was initiated in 2005 by 171 Palestinian civil society groups, including political parties, unions, youth and women’s associations. Inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid, the campaign is conducted in the framework of human rights, solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression. It calls for non-violent punitive measures to be maintained against Israel until it meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination, and fully complies with international law. The campaign opposes all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Anyone reading the pages of the Australian over the last month would not, however, be aware of any of these facts. Between May 1 and May 31, the Australian published 26 news articles, editorials or opinions on the BDS campaign, the vast majority of which have been overwhelmingly negative, condemning the Palestinian BDS campaign and Palestine supporters as anti-Semitic and running an intolerant hate campaign. Of the seventeen news articles, four editorials and five opinion piece run the Australian, only one of the op-eds was pro-BDS. All editorials have been anti-BDS, as have most of the news articles.

What has been overwhelmingly noticeable about all of the Australian’s coverage of BDS is the absence of the voices of the oppressed: in this case, the voice of Palestinians. In contrast, the vast majority of news articles and op-eds have privileged the voices of pro-Israel politicians and leading members of various pro-Israel Zionist lobby groups in Australia. Also noticeably absent from the Australian’s coverage of BDS is an acknowledgement that under international law Israel is carrying out an illegal and belligerent military occupation of Palestinian territory. The Australian’s denial of Israel’s occupation, and the human rights abuses against Palestinians document by the United Nations and human rights organisations both inside and outside of Israel and Palestine, reached absurd proportions on 30 May in an article by Ean Higgins, which claimed that Israel was only engaged in the ‘alleged oppression of the Palestinians’.

In 2011, the Australian ran a similarly obsessive campaign in its pages when the Sydney Marrickville Council passed a pro-BDS resolution and Melbourne BDS supporters began a series of demonstrations outside of one of the Australian Max Brenner franchises. The franchises are part of the global operations of one of Israel’s largest food and beverage companies, the Strauss Group, which become a focus for BDS protests because of it collaboration with the Israeli military. Not only is Strauss an approved supplier to the Israeli Department of Defence, it has also boasted of its support two of the military brigades heavily involved in Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip in December/January 2008–2009, an operation that resulted in the death of more than 1400 Palestinians (mostly civilians), including approximately 350 children.

While the Australian’s latest round of BDS bashing reached ridiculous proportions in May, its initial anti-BDS reportage began in April, when University of NSW students announced they would protest against Max Brenner opening a store on their campus and the Sydney University’s Student Representative Council passed a motion in support of the Palestinian BDS campaign and Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Jake Lynch. Over the last seven months, Lynch has become the Australian’s favourite BDS whipping boy, with the paper publishing numerous negative op-eds, editorials and news articles castigating him and the Peace Centre for their principled human rights stand.

So why has the Australian become so obsessed with BDS?  The Australian has long been associated with the ideological Right and big business in Australia. It has also long been viewed by those in the Palestine solidarity movement as an unabashedly pro-Zionist, pro-Israel newspaper. Chris Mitchell, the rightwing editor-in-chief of the Australian, is also well recognised not only as an ideological editor unafraid to push his opinion through the pages of the newspaper but also ‘strong campaigning, activist editor’ according to at least one member of his staff.  According to some of Mitchell’s critics, including one of his former journalists, the paper has ‘replaced good journalism with agenda setting’.  Media commentator, Jonathan Holmes from ABC’s Media Watch has noted that the Australian has become so ‘driven by its obsessions and campaigns’ that it is now a difficult newspaper to read.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has also accused the Australian of running an obsessive and agenda driven campaign against his party. In January 2011, Brown requested the parliamentary library to investigate how many times the Australian had mentioned the Greens or himself in editorials over the previous decade and whether or not their editorialising had been favourable, neutral or negative. The investigation found that during that period there had been 252 mentions, with 188 of them negative, 59 neutral and only five (or 2 percent) positive.
A similar obsession can now be seen in relation to the Palestinian BDS campaign. It has become clear that the Australian’s reporting of the issue has become agenda driven, so much so that any fair reporting and commentary has gone out the window.

The ideological nature of the Australian’s campaign against the Palestinian BDS campaign and its supporters is even more notable when you compare its coverage of the campaign to that of other newspapers, both in Australia and internationally. While the Australian ran 26 news articles, editorials and op-eds on BDS in May, Fairfax newspapers’ the Age and Sydney Morning Herald ran a total of two different news articles on BDS between them. Neither paper found it necessary to print either an op-ed or an editorial on the subject in that period.
While the Australian’s editorials have sought to vilify pro-BDS campaigners as anti-Semites, other newspapers of note have defended BDS as a legitimate non-violent way to express political dissent. In May, renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking withdrew from the President’s Conference in Israel.  On 11 May, The Boston Globe ran an editorial defending his right to peaceful dissent in boycotting Israel:
the decision to withdraw from a conference is a reasonable way to express one’s political views. Observers need not agree with Hawking’s position in order to understand and even respect his choice. The movement that Hawking has signed on to aims to place pressure on Israel through peaceful means. In the context of a Mideast conflict that has caused so much destruction and cost so many lives, nonviolence is something to be encouraged … Foreclosing non-violent avenues to give people a political voice ­– and maybe bring about an eventual resolution – only makes what is already difficult that much more challenging.
In stark contrast, the week before Hawking’s boycott became public, the Australian demanded that peaceful non-violent BDS protests not even be tolerated. After the revelation of Hawking’s support, the Australian was uncharacteristically quiet. While three of the op-eds did make reference to Hawking’s boycott, the primary focus of two of them was not Hawking but a broader condemnation of the Palestinian BDS campaign.

In the past two weeks, we have seen attempts to curtail freedom of speech stepped up a notch, with the Federal Opposition announcing, via the pages of the Australian that ‘the Coalition will institute a policy across government that ensures no grants of taxpayers’ funds are provided to individuals or organisations which actively support the BDS campaign’. Funds would be cut not only for BDS-related activities, but also for any research, educational or other purpose. On 30 May, Ean Higgin’s noted in his article in the Australian that the Coalition was also demanding that Federal Labor similarly pledge to also curtail the freedom of speech of individuals or organisations that supports BDS.

The false labeling of BDS as anti-Semitic is not unique to Australia. Israel and its advocates around the world have sought to discredit it and criminalise support for BDS. All such attempts must be strongly rejected, whether it is done by newspapers or politicians. The attempt to intimidate supporters of the Palestinian human rights must also be rejected. As Malcolm X noted, we cannot allow the media to convince us that it is wrong to fight against power and for the oppressed. Instead, we must not be afraid to make our voices heard in support of justice, freedom and human rights.

Kim Bullimore is the author of 'BDS and the Struggle for a Free Palestine', which appears, Left Turn: Political Essays for the New Left, edited by Antony Loewenstein and Jeff Sparrow. She is a long time anti-racism campaigner and a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service, the only all-women international peace team working on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In 2010, she co-organised the first Australian national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Conference in support of Palestine. Kim has a blog at

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Israel's Apartheid reality: Gideon Levy's "In Praise of Superland"

Dear friends,
many of you will be aware of the work of Israeli veteran journalist, Gideon Levy.  Levy has long been one of the most consistent voices in Israel to speak out against Israel's occupation and human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

On the 4th of June, Haaretz published in their Hebrew edition what is (at least in my opinion) quite possibly one of the best articles Levy has ever written.    However, as of June 9, an english language translation of the article has not yet been published by Haaretz on their english language site.

My friend Sol Salbe from the Middle East News Service has rectified this and supplied an english language translation of Levy's article.  I have posted Sol's translation below.  

In the article, Levy writes about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and the hypocrisy of  both Zionists on the left and right who are "disgusted" by the recently breaking news that the Israeli fun park, Superland, was implementing a policy of segregation between Israeli Jews and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship when they visited the fun park.  Levy notes that while many, including Israeli politicians, have expressed disgust at the fun park's racist policies, they have remained silent about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and the apartheid policies implemented by the Israeli state.

If you have not been following the events at Superland, you can read up on it  here and here.

Since news broke about the segregation at Superland, a number of others stories highlighting segregation and apartheid in Israel have also appeared in the Israeli news, including news of Palestinian Bedouin children suffering from cancer being refused entry to an Israeli swimming pool.  I have included a video of the news report below, which carries english subtitles and also references Superland.

 in solidarity, Kim


 Superland Fun Park

In praise of Superland

by Gideon Levy, Haaretz (Hebrew): 4 June 2013
Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne, Australia

What do they want from Superland's management? It's just a playground, which has suddenly turned out to be a true reflection of society. Superland has dared to be a Mini-Israel as well. If so, what's the fuss? That its executives acted the same way as everyone else? Behaved in the same way as the state? Even a Dreams Park is situated on reality's ground, why should it become Super-Israel?

We have really overdone our demands of Superland. The executives established a separation between Arab and Jewish children, and between Orthodox and secular Jews. That's the reality prevailing in this country. Public outrage and sanctimonious tsk tsk noises from the Left and the Right, the sermons and condemnations amount to nothing more than hypocrisy. All are designed to fulfil our desire to feel good about ourselves. We wish to shatter the mirror set up by this luna-park, in which a apparition of ugliness has appeared. A society which is comfortable with separation, discrimination and racism - which are deep rooted, institutionalised and systematic - suddenly arises to protest and rage just because Superland did what everyone else does.

Israel is a land of separation. Palestinian children can only dream of reaching the sands of Rishon LeZion - and there is no pipsqueak from anyone. [Israeli] Arab (or Haredi) children can indeed make it there, but only apart, as they used to. Israel is a land of separation. Your typical secular Jewish child would never get to meet a Palestinian child, an Israeli Arab kid or an ultra-Orthodox youngster.

Ghettos, ghettos, communities, communities, the land of separation. Apartheid in the Occupied Territories, apartheid-lite within the State of Israel, and that country is shaken by something that is happening in a Ferris wheel. Underneath it, the deprivation storm is raging  but the only place from which we want it to disappear without a trace is on the carousel. We don't want to be frightened by separation on the ghost train. The rollercoaster can skip over that abyss.

This is an insolent demand. It's pure chutzpah to be outraged at this separation and ignore what is happening around it.  It's as bad a chutzpah as they come, for ministers and Knesset members to expressed "disgust", as they approve race and nationality laws. A state that has not established a single new Arab village or town in the Galilee during its 65 years of existence, where the racist "Judaisation" of the  Galilee and the Negev is considered a national goal, where it is just about forbidden to talk about the Nakba, which rubs out the language and heritage of a long-established community, where an "Industrial Zone" in an Arab town is a collection of tyre repair shops and garages, and  does not even have a single Arab university - such a state has no right to protest against luna-park.

A country where Arab teachers only teach Arab students, and Arab children are taught almost exclusively in Arab schools, cannot object to  a fleeting separation. A state in which every Arab person is deemed to be a suspicious object, unless proven otherwise; whose leaders incite and arouse hatred toward the Arab community, should be obliged to remain silent when a private entity does exactly the same thing. Every Jewish child who has been exposed to the public discourse comes to Superland awash with fears and hatred of the Arab child. If so, why would s/he ride on the same seesaw?

How easy it is to rile against Superland - What beautiful souls we are, we are so enlightened, we won't let racism rear its head. But it has reared its head since the day the state was established. It's a state based largely on racism's own principles, from the Law of Return to the Absentee Property Law.  A  Jewish state is by virtue of its definition a nationalist state, who are we to complain about Superland?

Occasionally we encounter a small scandal - a bank branch which doesn't let Arabs open accounts, a rabbi who preaches refusing to let flats to Arabs, or a bus driver who refuses to let Arabs on board - and the country shakes to its seams. Those storms are designed for  one thing --  to blur the point , to conceal the fact that such incidents take place in a broader context. The entire ridiculous protest has a sole purpose: to lie to ourselves that we are not like that.

Leave Superland alone, its executives actually deserve our gratitude: they showed Israelis how they really look like, not in a distorted luna-parks mirror but as true reflection of reality.

Hebrew original:

Palestinian Bedouin Children refused entry to Israeli swimming pool

I was unable to upload the link directly from youtube via the Blogger system.
However, you can watch the original on youtube here