Friday 9 July 2010

Blog for Gaza

Today - July 9 is the day for bloggers to unite for Gaza.  According to Bloggers Unite, “On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion condemning Israel’s infringement of the Palestinian right to self-determination and violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The ICJ explicitly affirmed the international community that the burden also falls on them not to recognize or assist the illegal situation. This year, on 9 July, remind your own government of its own obligations not to recognize or assist Israel’s violations of international law. Urge that there must be an independent and international inquiry into the attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla.”  You can find more about the campaign here.   This particular campaign is promoted by The Palestine Legal Aid Fund, which is a global human rights fund to enable access to justice for the Palestinian people.   As my little contribution to this campaign, below are some unconnected comments on Gaza and Israel.
1.  Failure of Israeli hasbara (propaganda)   
In the USA of all places, it seems that Israeli propaganda is losing its power. The following is part of an article which appeared in Coteret, a blog by Didi Remez, who translates selected stories and article from the Hebrew media.   He writes, “The Israel Project (TIP), an American Hasbara outfit, commissioned Republican political consultant Frank Luntz to examine the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy in the US on the Flotilla debacle. TIP gave the memo to the Prime Minister’s Office, where someone promptly leaked it to Chico Menashe, Channel Ten TV News diplomatic affairs correspondent.  Luntz’s findings are grim. Here’s a summary:
  1. 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
  2. 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
  3. [Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
  4. [Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.”
You can read the full post here.   
It is not only in the USA that Israeli hasbara is beginning to fail.  Further evidence can be found closer to home - in the letters page of the Courier of all places.  Dundee’s own daily newspaper has been the site of an exchange of letters on Gaza - the attack on the flotilla and the blockade itself.  Even yours truly felt compelled to fire off a letter.  What has been interesting about this correspondence is that the pro-Israeli letter writers never, ever, address the real facts - the cold blooded murder of the nine civilians on board the Mavi Marmara or the ongoing occupation which is the root of the problem.  They simply repeat tired old allegations about their opponents, a pathetic attempt at smear which merely highlights the complete bankruptcy of the entire Zionist project.
2.  The Occupation 
Ah, the Occupation - this seemingly never ending and always growing occupation.  The Independent has a story about Israel’s landgrab.  It seems that 42% of the West Bank is now occupied by Israeli settlers.  This is not exactly news as last year the Goldstone Report contained the same information.  Based on UN sources it seems that around 42% of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure associated with the settlements, including roads, barriers, buffer zones and military bases.  Still it is good that these facts are now getting published in some of the mainstream media.  All making the task of Israeli propaganda even more difficult.  You can read the Independent article here.  

3.  Boycott Divestment Sanctions 
This campaign is probably the one most likely to bring about an end to the Occupation.  And it is beginning to bite.  At all levels.  It seems that even very mainstream actors are now willing to say no to Israel.  For example it is reported in the Jerusalem Post that Hollywood actors Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman backed out of attending this year’s annual Jerusalem Film Festival, following the international outcry over Israel’s attack on the Turkish led flotilla that attempted to break the Gaza blockade.  Prince Albert of Monaco, son of legendary actress Grace Kelly, has also cancelled his programmed attendance at the festival.  It seems that the Prince’s advisors believed it would have been very negative for him to attend.

Further support for BDS has come from the Methodist Church of Britain which has agreed to launch a boycott against goods emanating from settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  Let's hope the other Christian Churches will follow this lead.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign is one that everyone can participate in.  We can all begin to stop buying Israeli goods in supermarkets and other stores.  We can also complain about the presence of Israeli stalls that sells goods produced in the illegal settlements in the West Bank.  We have one of these in Dundee - Premier Dead Sea Products.  This company has a stall in the Overgate and sells cosmetics based on material from the Dead Sea.  Some of us have complained to the owners of the Overgate that it is wrong to have such a company operating in Dundee.  So far they have replied that their products are not made in the settlements but in pre 1967 Israel.  This seems unlikely and in any case if they market their cosmetics as from the Dead Sea then either they are using material stolen from Palestinian land or they are breaking the Trade Descriptions Act.  This is one that will run and run.
Also in Dundee we are lobbying the local Council to take a more forceful stand against the Israeli Occupation.  Specifically we are calling on the Council to support the following measures:
  1. Not buy products from Israel or from Israeli-owned companies - this would include water from Eden Springs and Veolia waste contracts amongst others; as well as any company which supports Israel’s illegal settlements.
  2. Fly the Palestinian Flag over the City Chamber until such time as Israel has ended its illegal blockade of Gaza. 
  3. Support officially the next flotilla and get a ship loaded with goods sent from Dundee
The more people begin to take action locally the sooner Israel will begin to feel the pressure.  More more information about the BDS campaign can be found here.

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