Saturday, February 25, 2017

We should support the Palestinians, not Israel

Dear friends,
please find below my latest article for Red Flag on Netanyahu's visit to Australia and Malcolm Turnbull's sycophantic welcome of a fellow human rights abuser and war monger.

in solidarity,

We should support the Palestinians, not Israel

Arriving in Australia for a four-day diplomatic visit on Wednesday, 21 February, Benjamin Netanyahu is the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Australia.

Netanyahu – who also held Israel’s prime ministership between 1996 and 1999 – is responsible for the ongoing illegal blockade of Gaza, as well as Israel’s brutal military occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

In 2014, he ordered Israel’s 50-day murderous assault on Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,250 Palestinians, including almost 1,500 civilians, one-third of whom were children. In addition, more than 11,230 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children.

Despite Netanyahu’s well-documented record as a war criminal and human rights abuser, he has been warmly welcomed by Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In a sycophantic comment piece published in the Australian on the day of his arrival, Turnbull declared Israel “a miraculous nation”, which had “flourished despite invasion, conflict and an almost complete lack of natural resources, other than the determination and genius of its people”.

He went on to extol Australia’s support for the Zionist state, while condemning those who sought to hold Netanyahu and Israel accountable for war crimes against the Palestinian people. Turnbull not only condemned the UN Security Council’s reaffirmation of the illegal nature of Israel’s colonies on occupied Palestinian land, he also said that his government “deplore[d] the boycott campaign designed to delegitimise the Jewish state”.

The Turnbull government’s enthusiastic welcome of a war criminal and human rights abuser should come as no surprise. Successive Australian governments, after all, have overseen systematic human rights abuses of refugees and asylum seekers and implemented genocidal policies against Indigenous people.

Australia, like Israel, is a settler-colonial state, built on racism, ethnic cleansing and inequalities that are codified in law and built structurally into the economic, social and political system, ensuring that the settler population is legally, socially and politically privileged over the Indigenous population. In 2006, then Israeli ambassador to Australia, Naftali Tamir, in an interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, explained the racist nature of the settler-colonial alliance between the two countries:
“Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia. We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don’t have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not – we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the south-eastern side.”
There is nothing “miraculous” about Israel as a nation. Since its creation in 1948, Israel has been an openly racist state, using both military force and legally sanctioned discrimination to impose an apartheid system both inside the Zionist state and in the Palestinian territories it illegally seized in 1967.

According Adalah, an Israeli human rights organisation for Arab minority rights, there are more than 50 laws that discriminate against Israel’s non-Jewish citizens in areas such as property rights, political activity, education, criminal procedures, employment and marriage.

In addition, Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem endure a regime of more than 3,000 military regulations which “govern” every aspect of life. These military orders, which can be issued at the whim of a military commander, are not made public but can affect Palestinian legal identity, education, employment, healthcare, housing, political activity and freedom of movement.

Israel was created in 1948, as Zionist militias depopulated more than 500 Palestinian Arab villages and towns, forcing more than 750,000 Palestinians to flee to neighbouring countries and internally displacing another 150,000. The Zionist state has never ceased ethnically cleansing Palestinians either inside Israel or in the territories it seized in 1967.

Currently in Israel’s south, more than 80,000 Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel from 46 “unrecognised villages” are fighting against Netanyahu’s attempt to ethnically cleanse them from their traditional lands. Despite the majority of these villages being in existence prior to 1948, the Israeli state has repeatedly denied them legal status, excluding them from government maps and the provision of local and national government infrastructure, such as electricity, running water, sewage, telephone lines, as well as educational and health facilities and services.

As a result, the villages are regularly threatened with destruction. One such village, Al-Arakib, which is home to more than 300 people, has been demolished by the Israeli state and rebuilt by its residents more than 100 times, while the village of Umm al-Hiran is currently fighting Israel’s attempt to raze it to the ground in order to establish a Jewish-only township in its place.

Earlier this month, the Israeli parliament approved the “Validation Law”. The law, backed by Netanyahu, allows the Israeli state to expropriate private Palestinian lands in the Occupied West Bank for the construction of illegal Israeli colonies. The law is in violation of both international law and the UN Security Council Resolution passed on 23 December, the same resolution condemned by Turnbull in the Australian.

By condemning both the UN Security Council Resolution and the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, Turnbull has made it clear that he has no interest in upholding Palestinian rights, international law or supporting a just peace in the Middle East.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Commentary: Australian Labor Party in a tizz over how to save apartheid Israel

Dear friends,
please find below a comment piece by my comrade Rick Kuhn, a founding member of Jews Against Occupation and Oppression, which has been published in Red Flag on the current "debate" on Israel in the Australian Labour Party.

in solidarity,
Labor in a tizz over how to save apartheid Israel
There’s a fight going on inside the Labor Party over the cosmetics of its position on Israel and Palestine. Currently, party leader Bill Shorten, who wants to shake the hand of Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu while he’s visiting Australia, is sticking with the ALP’s long standing policy.

Whether Labor or the Coalition has been in office, Australian governments have been among the fiercest supporters of apartheid Israel since its creation. Unlike about 138 other countries, Australia has refused to recognise the Palestinian Authority as the government of a Palestinian state. Slavish backing of Israel is mainly a bi-product of the Australia-US alliance, which has long benefited the ruling class here.

In the Australian parliament, the most hard-line supporter of Israel, including of its military aggression, is Labor member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby. Danby thinks that the recent legalisation of the theft of even more privately owned Palestinian land on the West Bank, by Israeli colonists, was a bad idea.

But, Danby argues, that there is no reason to recognise a Palestinian state. For Danby and the Israeli authorities, the weaker the PA is, the better.

Some members of the Israeli government also dislike the new law. Although Israel and its Zionist predecessors have been stealing Palestinian land for over a century, they are worried that it is too large and sudden a step. It might provoke a militant response from ordinary Palestinians and create further sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

Former Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke, a passionate “friend of Israel” for decades, and Kevin Rudd, along with former Labor foreign ministers Gareth Evans and Bob Carr now think that the PA should be recognised. They argue that the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the latest Israeli land grab run the risk of fatally puncturing the already dissolving illusion of a possible “two state solution” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Rudd is fearful of a third Intifada: another Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
Recognition, they hope, will be a diplomatic finger slap that prompts the Israeli government to wake up to its own interests and adds to the credibility of the PA.

The illusion of the “two state solution” was used to justify the establishment of the PA in 1994, as Israeli’s out-sourced police force to discipline the Palestinian people, and to urge it to make ever greater concessions to Israel’s demands.

Israel and its backers attribute the lack of progress towards the establishment of a Palestinian state to the bad faith of the PA.

Yet, under the cover of the “two state illusion”, the annexation of Palestinian land on the West Bank, all of it already entirely under Israeli military control, has not slowed but expanded.

Hawke writes that he supports both the Palestinian “aspiration to be fully free” and “the right of Israel to exist as a state behind secure and recognised borders”. These are totally incompatible. While Israel exists, neither its second class Palestinian citizens, nor the Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza and the diaspora can have full civic rights, including to their land, let along democratic control over their lives.

The squabble in the Labor Party over how to best back Israel reflects growing global sympathy, crucially from ordinary people rather than governments, for the Palestinians. It’s sign of desperation and isolation that Netanyahu is coming to this pissy middle power on the other side of the planet. He is the first sitting Israeli prime minister to do so.

Increased recognition of the repressive PA as a state is symbolic of this shift. But it won’t satisfy the aspirations of Palestinians for freedom.

Only a democratic state made up of all those now living within the borders of historic Palestine, together with the Palestinian diaspora, can achieve that goal.

PHOTOS: Melbourne Says No To Netanyahu

Dear friends,
please find below some photos from the Melbourne Says No To Netanyahu which took place on 19 February, a few days before Netanyahu arrived in Australia which began on 22 February.

In September 2016, Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop visited Israel and officially invited Netanyahu to come to Australia in early 2017 saying that she wanted to "reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the state of Israel and our friendship" and that she believed that "the Australian public would warmly embrace you, welcome you".

As Prime Minister, Netanyahu has been responsible for Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza, as well as Israel's ongoing occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

In 2014, Netanyahu ordered Israel's 50 day murderous assault on Gaza, which resulted in the death of more than 2,250 Palestinians, including almost 1,500 civilians, one third of whom were children, along with 299 women. In addition, more than 11,230 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children and 3.540 women. Amongst those killed were 142 Palestinian families, who made up 742 of the fatalities.

During the murderous assault Netanyahu ordered more than 6,000 airstrikes and the firing of more than 50,000 tank and artillery shells on the imprisoned population of Gaza.

In July 2014, Netanyahu also confirmed that Israel had no intention of ending its illegal occupation and oppression of more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

While Julie Bishop and the Liberals, who supported Israel's assault on Gaza and the US's bloody wars in the Middle East, continue to carry out human rights abuses against refugees and asylumseekers and Australia's Indigenous community, are happy to welcome a fellow war criminal and human right abusers, we weren't and decided to give Netanyahu the real welcome that a war criminal and human rights abuser he deserves.

Sydney also held a much larger rally during his actual visit. I will post photos as soon as possible.

In solidarity, Kim



Thursday, February 16, 2017


Dear friends,
Israeli Prime Minister and War Criminal will be visiting Australia in the next week. There are protests being organised in a number of cities, including Melbourne and Sydney.  Here are the details for the Melbourne rally, which is happening on this coming Sunday (19 February)

in solidarity, Kim

2pm, Sunday 19 FEBRUARY


 Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop in early September visited Israel, where she met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bishop invited Netanyahu to officially visit Australia in early 2017 saying that she wanted to "reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the state of Israel and our friendship" and that she believed that "the Australian public would warmly embrace you, welcome you".

As Prime Minister, Netanyahu has been responsible for Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza, as well as Israel's ongoing occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

In 2014, Netanyahu ordered Israel's 50 day murderous assault on Gaza, which resulted in the death of more than 2,250 Palestinians, including almost 1,500 civilians, one third of whom were children, along with 299 women. In addition, more than 11,230 Palestinians were injured, including 3,436 children and 3.540 women. Amongst those killed were 142 Palestinian families, who made up 742 of the fatalities.

During the murderous assault Netanyahu ordered more than 6,000 airstrikes and the firing of more than 50,000 tank and artillery shells on the imprisoned population of Gaza.

In July 2014, Netanyahu also confirmed that Israel had no intention of ending its illegal occupation and oppression of more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

While Julie Bishop and the Liberals, who supported Israel's assault on Gaza and the US's bloody wars in the Middle East, continue to carry out human rights abuses against refugees and asylumseekers and Australia's Indigenous community, may welcome a fellow war criminal and human right abusers, we are calling on all people of conscience and supporters of human rights to give Benjamin Netanyahu the real welcome he deserves when he arrives in Australia.

Please join us at 2pm @ Sunday 19th February at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne to protest the visit of a war criminal to Australia , as well as the Turnbull and Liberal government's continued support for Israel's illegal occupation and war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Please invite friends, family and other supporters and share this event with your networks and on your social media.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WITHOUT SHELTER - Photography by Mats Svensson

Dear friends,
please find below a selection of hauntingly beautiful photographs by Mats Svensson from his Without Shelter photo collection about the Palestinian village of Lifta, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948 by Zionist terror groups.
I have include below the photos, an article from Electronic Intifada published in 2005 on the ethnic cleansing of the village.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper in 2012 noted that Lifta, is the only "abandoned" (ie. ethnically cleansed" village inside the Green Line which has not been destroyed or repopulated by the Israeli state. It's former Palestinian residents are currently fighting to stop it being destroyed completely (see fulll article below). In 2012, an Israeli court delayed the building of luxury homes.

At the time, Sami Ershied argued on behalf of the former villagers:
Given that Lifta is an abandoned village and its original owners live as refugees only a few hundred meters away, no construction should be done there, certainly not construction that will destroy the village and totally divest the original residents of their rights"

in solidarity, Kim


WITHOUT SHELTER - Photography by Mats Svensson

On the morning of Friday, February 25, 2005 a group of approximately 300 Israelis, Palestinian refugees and international activists gathered near the highway leading out of Jerusalem towards Tel Aviv. In the valley below lay the ruins of the ancient Palestinian village of Lifta. The event was part tour, part protest, and part homecoming. It had different meanings for each of the groups involved.

The organization responsible for planning the event, Zochrot (Hebrew for “Remembering”) takes Israelis on tours of depopulated and partially destroyed Palestinian villages. They bring Palestinian refugees to tell the stories of their village and plant signs in Arabic and Hebrew that explain what happened there. This event, however, was also a protest aimed at stopping the impending demolition of what remains of Lifta.

The village is scheduled to be removed and/or “renovated.” The demolition of Lifta, sponsored by the Israel Lands Administration, is part of the Israeli government’s development plan for West Jerusalem. It calls for the construction of 243 villas (each 200 m2), a hotel, museum and Synagogue. The heart of Lifta’s old city will be renovated and turned into a trendy mall for high-priced Israeli crafts and other goods.

For the Palestinian refugees who came on Friday, however, the event was primarily an opportunity to visit their village. To be sure, they accompanied the marchers and carried signs protesting the demolition plans, and they participated in Zochrot’s program by sharing their stories and knowledge of Lifta and their life before 1948.

Most of the refugees, however, left the group and wandered the ruins of the village. Most went first to their family homes. They brought their children and relayed small anecdotes about the houses. They cleaned rubbish from the inside and the front stoop and sat silently inside the houses or outside the doors.

“We are only able to visit the village about once a year,” a refugee man told me as he held his baby and gazed out the window of his family’s home, “It is too dangerous to come alone because of the [Israeli] settlers that are usually here, so we have to wait for a group before we can come.”

Indeed, many Palestinian refugees from Lifta are not allowed to visit at all. The people who came on Friday lived in East Jerusalem, meaning they could travel to the village without passing through any Israeli checkpoints. Many of Lifta’s villagers, however, fled farther into the West Bank and beyond. Israel does not permit them to pass through the checkpoints and their village remains a cloudy reality passed down through the generations in stories and memories.

Lifta is not unique. Like 417 other Palestinian towns and villages, Lifta was forcibly depopulated and ethnically cleansed in 1948 to make way for the state of Israel.[1] In fact, in many ways, to tell the story of Lifta is to tell the story of Al Nakba, the Palestinian “Catastrophe” of 1948.

Depopulating Lifta
According to the refugees from Lifta, the village was once one of the largest and wealthiest communities in the Jerusalem region. The beauty of the old homes still standing upon the overgrown hillside pays tribute to that prosperous past. In fact, Lifta’s lands once covered 8,743 dunum (8.7 km2) and stretched from the hills west of Jerusalem right up to the gates of the old city itself. The population of the village in 1948 was approximately 2,550 (including 2,530 Muslim and 20 Christian Palestinians). Like most Palestinian villages, many of Lifta’s residents were dependent on agriculture and cultivated 3,000 dunums (3 km2) of land, including 1,500 olive trees.[2]

According to research compiled by Palestine Remembered, Lifta was originally a Canaanite village and during Biblical and Roman times it was known by the name Nephtoah. In the Byzantine period it was called Nephtho, and the Crusaders referred to Lifta as Clepsta. Before 1948, the village had been continuously inhabited for well over 2,000 years.

In the years leading up to the 1948 war, however, the village fell under attack by Jewish militias operating in the area. On the 28th of December, 1947 six people were gunned down in the village coffeehouse, by members of two Jewish militias, the Stern Gang (whose commander, Yitzhak Shamir, later became Prime Minister of Israel) and the Irgun (whose commander, Menachem Begin, also later served as Prime Minister of Israel).[3] Some of Lifta’s residents sold their property to European investors eager to acquire more land for Jewish settlement. Many more left early on. According to the descendents of the villagers, however, a significant number remained in Lifta into the first months of 1948.

The 1948 war which led to Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948, started gradually. Jewish settlers were well organized and highly armed. The Jewish fighting forces included the Haganah (the official army of the Jewish settler community in Palestine) as well as several more radical militias (including the Stern Gang and Irgun). The militias were active in the area west of Jerusalem where Lifta was located.

Lifta was harassed by Stern Gang and Irgun militants through December 1947 and January 1948. One of the refugees who returned to the village last Friday, relayed the story he was told about the attack on Lifta:

In late January or early February, the Stern Gang and Irgun attacked and seized the neighboring village of Qaluba and then invaded Lifta from the West. They occupied Lifta’s new town and the remaining residents took refuge in the old town in the valley. The village was cut-off from the west and anyone trying to leave was killed. The villagers resisted but were defeated after 9 or 10 hours of fighting.

By the time the entire village was occupied, most of the people had already left Lifta and fled into the West Bank, the rest were taken by truck and dumped in East Jerusalem. By February 1948, Lifta had been completely depopulated.[4] The Stern Gang and Irgun occupied the houses and broke holes in the roofs to ensure that they would be uninhabitable if the residents attempted to return.
Lifta and Al Nakba

The story of Lifta was repeated in numerous villages throughout Palestine in 1948. At least 418 villages were ethnically cleansed in the same way.[5] In fact, the evacuation of Palestinian villages was a matter of policy for the Jewish fighting forces. Israeli historian Benny Morris explains that “in the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the predecessor to the Israeli Army]… were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.”[6]

Lifta, however, is unique in the fact that it was completely depopulated in February, at least two months before the war was in full-swing, and three months before Israel’s declaration of independence. In April of 1948, the Jewish forces were fighting several armies from newly independent Arab states. The Jewish settlers enjoyed substantive advantages in the war. Aside from possessing newer weapons and technology, they also outnumbered their Arab counterparts by a margin of two to one.[7] It was in this context that, the leader of the Jewish forces, David Ben-Gurion, commanded his fighters to “adopt the method of aggressive defense; with every [Arab] attack we must be prepared to respond with a decisive blow: the destruction of the [Arab] place or the expulsion of its residents along with the seizure of the place.”[8]

One of the most brutal incidents of the war occurred in April in the village of Deir Yassin, near Lifta. On April 9, the same militias which had earlier attacked Lifta (the Stern Gang and Irgun) invaded Deir Yassin. In the fighting that ensued, approximately 250 Palestinian villagers were massacred.[9] The Palestinian resistance fighters were taken in truck to East Jerusalem and shot. The massacre contributed to the flight of neighboring communities also threatened with destruction. In fact, Benny Morris has documented at least 24 massacres of Palestinian civilians during the 1948 war.[10]

By the end of the war Jewish forces controlled 77% of historic Palestine which became the state of Israel and 750,000 Palestinian civilians had been forced to flee their homes. Today, there are over 5 million Palestinian refugees, the descendants of the original 750,000. For these 5 million, and many other Palestinians, Al Nakba stands as the defining moment in their national identity.

The story of Lifta is only one among 418 stories of villages that only exist in memory. Unlike many of the depopulated villages, however, the buildings of Lifta were not demolished but still stand as a testament to the existence of the once affluent Palestinian village. If Israel’s plan proceeds even these remnants will be gone, wiped away in the favor of plush villas. In the meantime, Lifta’s refugees are waiting to return to their village, to rebuild their homes and to once again live in the 2,000 year old village they call home.

Jacob Pace lives in Beit Sahour and works with the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ) in Bethlehem. His reports and photos are available online at

REPORT: Efforts To Fight BDS Have Failed, Says ADL, Reut

Dear friends,
as you will be aware, the Israeli government and Zionist organisations have spent millions and millions of dollars attempting to counter the non-violent Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which is premised on international law and calls for justice and equality.  Leading the charge to delegitimise BDS was the Israeli based, Reut Institute.

In 2010, the Reut Institute issued a series of articles and reports identifying the Palestinian BDS campaign as an "existential threat" to Israel.  Reut called on the Israeli government to "attack" the BDS campaign/supporters and carry to out "sabotage" against the movement (see Electronic Intifada's full coverage here). In particular, Reut called for  a “price tag”  on to be placed on BDS activisim (ie. publicly outing/shaming Palestine solidarity activists) and for Israeli spy agencies to collect information on groups supportive of BDS.  

Last year, Reut partnered with the USA based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to combat BDS.  However, one year later, the two groups have issued a report stating that their and the Israeli government's efforts to fight BDS have largely failed. 

This will not come as as surprise to anyone involved the Palestinian BDS campaign. While Israel and its supporters have tried to use lawfare (legal methods) to stop BDS, they have only had minor success. Similarly, the attempt to intimidate and shame Palestine solidarity activists has also failed, as  has Israel's "hasbara" (propaganda) efforts.  

The primary reason for this being: Palestine solidarity activists have nothing to a shamed off - BDS is a non-violent campaign which draws inspiration from the South African anti-apartheid struggle and is squarely based on international law. Attempts to "shame" and "out" Palestine BDS campaigners have also largely failed because most of us are already very public about our activism. In addition, as Reut and ADL's latest report notes, Israel's hasbara efforts have largely failed because Israel is by far the best legitimiser of Israel - by continuing to engage in apartheid and occupation, carry out human rights abuses, war crimes and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, Israel continued to undermine its own legitimacy.  

The problem for the Israeli state is the the same problem faced by all oppressors, neither time or truth is on their side.  As Malcolm X noted in regard to this: “Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor".

I have included below two articles from the Forward discussing the partnership between Reut and the ADL and their latest report about the failure of their efforts to counter BDS

In solidarity, Kim

Josh Nathan-Kazis Forward, February 10, 2017

In a new report circulating privately in Jewish policy circles this month, two leading pro-Israel groups charge that Jewish communal efforts against the BDS movement have largely failed.
The report, issued by the Anti-Defamation League and the Israel-based Reut Institute, claims that Jewish groups’s investments in fighting what they call “the assault on Israel’s legitimacy” has grown twentyfold since 2010, but that “results remain elusive.”

In 2015 and 2016, a long list of Jewish groups, in addition to the Israeli government itself, announced their own programs to counter the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. Organizations and donors pledged tens of millions of dollars to the effort. The report claims that it’s not working.

“The challenge to the fundamental legitimacy of Israel…[is] growing around the world,” the report says.

The report comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government adopts an increasingly hard-line approach on settlements.

But while the report’s authors acknowledge that the Israeli government’s own actions play a role in the worldwide growth of anti-Israel sentiment, they propose their own action plan for what they call the “pro-Israel network.”

The prescription seems to contain a contradiction. On the one hand, it calls for a big tent approach that accepts progressive critics of Israel. And the other, it demands an all-out assault on leading critics of Israel, sometimes using covert means.

“The instigators must be singled out from the other groups, and handled uncompromisingly, publicly or covertly,” the report reads.

The report is the product of an unlikely partnership between the ADL, a historic Jewish civil rights group, and the national security-focused Reut. News of the partnership was first reported by the Forward last February.

At 30 pages, the document offers a “strategic framework” for opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, among other efforts that the authors characterize as attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.

The report opposes new spending on pro-Israel efforts. Instead, it advocates for the better targeting of preexisting programs; the use of “legal measures” to take on “incitement against Jews and Israel” on social media, and additional investment in “intelligence and strategy.”
ADL and Reut are only circulating print copies of the report. The Forward was given copies on the condition that they not be posted online in their entirety.

In an interview at the Forward’s offices in early February, ADL national president Jonathan Greenblatt acknowledged that the actions of the Israelis plays a role in what the report characterizes as the growth of worldwide anti-Israel sentiment.

“The government of Israel can do a lot to change this dynamic,” Greenblatt said. “So can the Palestinian leadership.”

Yet the report itself appears careful not to make specific demands of the Israeli government. Instead, it acknowledges that the lack of progress on political solutions are directly empowering the so-called “delegitimization movement.”

Its recommendations are targeted mostly at Jewish communal groups, and the broader hasbarah, or pro-Israel public relations, apparatus.

In places, the report appears to call for a broadening of the pro-Israel tent, and an end to the exclusion of progressive groups from Jewish spaces.

It calls for a narrower definition of “delegitimization” that will allow left-wing groups to be welcome in Jewish spaces. It also calls for “authentic solidarity” with other minority groups on issues of immigrant rights and racism. It cautions against narrow expectations of transactional benefits, arguing that such work can generally help the Jewish community “re-acquire credibility” among other minorities.

“We invented intersectionality,” Greenblatt told the Forward, referring to the ADL’s history of finding common cause on civil rights issues across ethnic and religious lines.
Yet at times, the report’s calls for a big tent seem strained.

The report suggests that “red lines” for inclusion in the broad pro-Israel network should be drawn at those who express criticism that is consistently one-sided, “not nuanced and without context.” That language has the potential to exclude many groups on the Jewish left that are fed up with Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank.

The report also refers to targeted boycotts of West Bank settlements, a tactic supported by many progressive Jews in Israel and the U.S., as a “challenge.”

It calls for “alternatives” to targeted boycotts, but its recommendations can be difficult to parse: “The polarization around the issue of targeted boycott is an indication of the lack of ethical clarity necessary in order to stand united against delegitimization by fostering diverse coalitions.”

Finally, while the report advocates efforts to engage and win over most critics of Israel, it advocates a hardline approach to what it calls “the instigators.”

Gidi Grinstein, president of Reut, defended the call for acting “uncompromisingly,” in “covert” and public ways, against these critics.

“We have to be very, very strategic,” Grinstein said.

The report’s authors argued that this narrow group of “instigators” are “modern day anti-Semites.”


Josh Nathan-KazisFebruary 29, 2016

The Anti-Defamation League has announced its own new effort to oppose the boycott of Israeli goods, joining a plethora of Jewish groups that have launched similar efforts in recent months.

Calling efforts to boycott, divestment from and sanction Israel an “attack on Israel and the Jewish people,” the ADL said on February 29 that it would partner with the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank, to produce a study of the BDS movement, as it is commonly known.

In the past, Reut has called for the use of aggressive tactics against those it views as denying Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state. In a 2010 report, the group called for putting a “price tag” on criticism of Israel and for Israeli spy agencies to collect information on groups working to delegitimize Israel.

The ADL’s initiative is the latest in a string of new multimillion dollar efforts against the BDS movement. A long list of Jewish groups, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish National Fund, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Maccabee Task Force and StandWithUs, along with the Israeli government itself, have announced their own anti-BDS programs in recent months.

“There are many excellent efforts out there aimed at combating BDS and other delegitimization,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director, in an emailed statement about the new effort. “We hope our work will complement and reinforce these existing initiatives.”

The ADL would not say how much its new initiative would cost. The group also could not say whether its effort would target groups and individuals promoting a boycott restricted to Israeli companies based on the Israeli-occupied West Bank, whose Jewish-only settlements are considered illegal by the international community. “We’re studying it,” said a spokesman via email.

Greenblatt, who succeeded longtime ADL national director Abraham Foxman in 2015, worked in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation from 2011 to 2014.

The new ADL-Reut Institute joint program will result in a study, to be published later this year, that will outline a new strategy for opposing BDS.

Reut, a not-for-profit organization, has done similar work before. Its 2010 report on “delegitimization,” the last Jewish defense buzzword before the current focus on BDS, was influential in setting policy for Israeli and Jewish groups in recent years as they’ve opposed anti-Israel activists.

In that report, Reut called for a “re-branding” of Israel and “undermining” the “catalysts” of delegitimization. It also called for using Israel’s spy agencies to make delegitimization a priority.

The group also suggested what it called a “price tag” for people who are harshly critical of Israel to make “attacking Israel” a “more risky enterprise.” The report cited press attacks on two Human Rights Watch employees who had criticized Israel during the course of their work. (In recent years the term “price tag” has come to refer to violence carried out against Palestinians by settlers; Reut was not calling for violence.)

In a statement provided by the ADL, Reut president Gidi Grinstein called BDS a “new form of anti-Semitism.”

“We will work to offer a visionary and strategic approach – and to effectuate it,” Grinstein said.

Greenblatt defended his group’s decision to launch its own anti-BDS effort, despite the large number of groups already running their own programs. “I think the ADL has unique capabilities,” Greenblatt said. “We’ve been working with authorities, law enforcement, public officials and others, literally for generations since we were founded in 1913, which makes us very different.”

Asked whether he was suggesting that BDS was a law enforcement matter, Greenblatt said no. He said that ADL “literally for generations” had done research and analysis to aid public officials.

“We have a center for extremism that has been looking at these kinds of issues for a very long period of time,” Greenblatt said.