Saturday, December 5, 2009


And YOU can help make my wish come true…..

Attention Christmas Shoppers: Top Ten Brands to Boycott

While there are many Israeli and multinational companies that benefit from apartheid, we put together this list to highlight ten specific companies to target. Many of these produce goods in such a way that directly harms Palestinians — exploiting labor, developing technology for military operations, or supplying equipment for illegal settlements. Many are also the targets of boycotts for other reasons, like harming the environment and labor violations.


This brand’s cosmetics are produced using salt, minerals, and mud from the Dead Sea — natural resources that are excavated from the occupied West Bank. The products themselves are manufactured in the illegal Israeli settlement Mitzpe Shalem. AHAVA is the target of CODEPINK’s “Stolen Beauty” campaign.

2. Delta Galil Industries

Israel’s largest textiles manufacturer provides clothing and underwear for such popular brands as Gap, J-Crew, J.C. Penny, Calvin Klein, Playtex, Victoria’s Secret (see #10) and many others. Its founder and chairman Dov Lautman is a close associate of former Israeli President Ehud Barak. It has also been condemned by Sweatshop Watch for its exploitation of labor in other countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey.

motobomb3. Motorola

While many of us know this brand for its stylish cellphones, did you know that it also develops and manufactures bomb fuses and missile guidance systems? Motorola components are also used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) and in communications and surveillance systems used in settlements, checkpoints, and along the 490 mile apartheid wall. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has launched the “Hang Up on Motorola” campaign.

4. L’Oreal / The Body Shop

This cosmetics and perfume company is known for its investments and manufacturing activities in Israel, including production in Migdal Haemek, the “Silicon Valley” of Israel built on the land of Palestinian village Al-Mujaydil, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948. In 1998, a representative of L’Oreal was given the Jubilee Award by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for strengthening the Israeli economy.

Dorot5. Dorot Garlic and Herbs

These frozen herbs that are sold at Trader Joe’s are shipped halfway around the world when they could easily be purchased locally. Trader Joe’s also sells Israeli Cous Cous and Pastures of Eden feta cheese that are made in Israel. QUIT, South Bay Mobilization, and other groups have targeted Trader Joe’s with a “Don’t Buy into Apartheid” campaign.

6. Estee Lauder

This company’s chairman Ronald Lauder is also the chairman of the Jewish National Fund, a quasi-governmental organization that was established in 1901 to acquire Palestinian land and is connected to the continued building of illegal settlements. Estee Lauder’s popular brands include Clinique, MAC, Origins, Bumble & Bumble, Aveda, fragrance lines for top designers, and many others. They have been the target of QUIT’s “Estee Slaughter Killer Products” campaign.

7. Intel

This technology company that manufactures computer processors and other hardware components employs thousands of Israelis and has exports from Israel totaling over $1 billion per year. They are one of Israel’s oldest foreign supporters, having established their first development center outside of the US in 1974 in Haifa. Al-Awda (the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition) has urged action against Intel for building a facility on the land of former village Iraq Al Manshiya, which was cleansed in 1949.

sabra8. Sabra

This brand of hummus, baba ghanoush and other foods is co-owned by Israel’s second-largest food company The Strauss Group and Pepsico. On the “Corporate Responsibility” section of its website, The Strauss Group boasts of its relationship to the Israeli Army, offering food products and political support.

9. Sara Lee

Sara Lee holds a 30% stake in Delta Galil (see #2) and is the world’s largest clothing manufacturer, which owns or is affiliated with such brands as Hanes, Playtex, Champion, Leggs, Sara Lee Bakery, Ball Park hotdogs, Wonderbra, and many others. Similar to L’Oreal (see #4), a representative of Sara Lee received the Jubilee Award from Netanyahu for its commitment to business with Israel.

10. Victoria’s Secret

Most of Victoria’s Secret’s bras are produced by Delta Galil (see #2), and much of the cotton is also grown in Israel on confiscated Palestinian land. Victoria’s Secret has also been the target of labor rights’ groups for sourcing products from companies with labor violations, and by environmental groups for their unsustainable use of paper in producing their catalogues. That’s not sexy!

top_ten_thumbRemember, it’s also important to let these companies — and the stores that sell them — know that we will not support them as long as they support Israeli apartheid!

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Climategate emails force Al Gore to cancel talk at Copenhagen

Al Gore's scheduled December 16th speech with the auspicious title "Climate Conclusion" has been canceled amid the scandal of Climategate. About 3,000 Danes had tickets for the Berlinske Media event that was announced in August. Al Gore has been the poster child for Global Warming, but has been under scrutiny from scientists who argue against the findings of humans' involvement in our climate. This was highlighted in the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. A British court had ruled that there were 9 factual errors in An Inconvenient Truth, yet it still won an Academy Award in 2007, along with the Nobel Prize shared with the IPCC. Again in November, mistakes were found in Al Gore's new book begin with the cover. While some are trying to explain away the cancellation, it seems pretty obvious that there is too much skepticism to show up in a large public forum like this. Mr. Gore had to deal with some hard questions at a book signing this past week, and had the readers escorted away rather than discuss Climategate. See that video at the bottom of this post. Unfortunately this apears like a direct attack, but this is all about getting the truth out.

The conference on Global Climate is still scheduled to include 100 world leaders, but has come under attack for fraud and deceit. On Tuesday, Australia's Senate voted against their Carbon Trading bill, a measure that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Last week, Penn State's Michael Mann was placed under investigation after being implicated for his 'trick' in changing old data to make current temperatures look warmer. Unfortunately the old original data was erased, a serious blow to the scientific process. CEI intends to sue NASA Goddard for Climate Change fraud based on 'Freedom of Information'. On Tuesday, The University of East Anglia's Phil Jones was forced to step down as director of the world renown Climate Research Unit due to an investigation of his involvement in the fraud.

Rasumssen Reports released today from shows the distrust more Americans have on this issue:

"Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Americans say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it’s Very Likely. Just 26% say it’s not very or not at all likely that some scientists falsified data. This skepticism does not appear to be the result of the recent disclosure of e-mails confirming such data falsification as part of the so-called “Climategate” scandal. Just 20% of Americans say they’ve followed news reports about those e-mails Very Closely, while another 29% have followed them Somewhat Closely."

This past year, The Skeptics Handbook was released by Australia's own Joanne Nova as a way to simplify the debate with four main points.

  1. The Greenhouse signature is missing.
  2. The strongest evidence was the ice cores, but newer, more detailed data turned the theory inside out.
  3. Temperature is not rising.
  4. Carbon Dioxide is already doing almost all of the warming it can do.
Source: Examiner
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Canadian Judge Torpedoes 'Hate Speech' Ruling

EDMONTON — A Court of Queen's Bench judge has ruled an anti-gay letter written by a former Alberta pastor in 2002 was not a hate crime and is allowed under freedom of speech.

Justice E.C. Wilson overturned a 2008 ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Commission that the letter by Stephen Boissoin that was published in the Red Deer Advocate broke provincial law.

At the time, the commission said it may even have played a role in the beating of a gay teenager two weeks after it was published.

The commission had ordered Boissoin to refrain from making disparaging remarks about homosexuals and to pay the complainant, former Red Deer high school teacher Darren Lund, $5,000 in damages.

Neither order can now be enforced, as Wilson declared them "unlawful or unconstitutional."

The letter carried the headline "Homosexual agenda wicked" and suggested gays were as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps.

Boissoin had argued he was simply commenting on government policy by criticizing homosexuality being portrayed positively in the public school curriculum.

On Thursday, Boissoin said he was thrilled with the judge's ruling, calling it a victory for "freedom of speech and religious expression in Canada."

At the time he wrote the letter, Boissoin was a pastor with the Concerned Christian Coalition. He now works in the housing industry.

Lund, who is now a professor at the University of Calgary, said he was disappointed.

"I really think this is a step backwards for our province," he said in an email to The Canadian Press.

"In my view, the judge's ruling sets such strict standards for hate speech that this section is rendered all but unenforceable.

"I'm hopeful that Albertans hope to keep our communities inclusive and respectful for all people, but this ruling certainly offers no assistance in this regard. If the language contained in the letter does not meet the threshold of hateful, I am not certain what possibly would."

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, a free-speech advocacy group, issued a news release saying it was pleased with Thursday's ruling.

"Unfortunately, the law that was used against Reverend Boissoin to subject him to a expensive and stressful legal proceedings for more than seven years is still on the books," said executive director John Carpay.

That law, the Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, says no one shall publish a statement that is likely "to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt" because of their sexual orientation.

"In spite of today's court ruling, Albertans need to continue to exercise extreme caution when speaking about public policy issues, lest they offend someone who then files a human rights complaint," said Carpay.

"No citizen is safe from being subjected to a taxpayer-funded prosecution for having spoken or written something that a fellow citizen finds offensive."

Source: CTV News

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Ha'aretz says U.S. officials face 'pro-Israel' background check

There is an amazing story in Ha'aretz today on the "pro-Israel" litmus test that determines who is permitted to serve in the United States government. Here's the sort of lede you're not likely to read in the New York Times or Washington Post:

Every appointee to the American government must endure a thorough background check by the American Jewish community.

In the case of Obama's government in particular, every criticism against Israel made by a potential government appointee has become a catalyst for debate about whether appointing "another leftist" offers proof that Obama does not truly support Israel."

The story goes on to rehearse what happened to Chas Freeman (whose appointment was derailed by the Israel lobby because he voiced a few mild criticisms of Israel's behavior) and reports that similar complaints are now being raised against the appointment of former Senator Chuck Hagel. Even more bizarrely, the Zionist Organization of America and other rightwing Jewish groups are complaining about the appointment of Hannah Rosenthal to direct the Office to Combat and Monitor Anti-Semitism. Why? Apparently she's been involved with J Street and other "leftwing" organizations that ZOA et al deem insufficiently ardent in their support for the Jewish state, and has suggested that progressive forces need to be more vocal in advancing the peace process.

One has to feel a certain sympathy for Ms. Rosenthal, who is forced to defend her own appointment by telling an interviewer:

I love Israel. I have lived in Israel. I go back and visit every chance I can. I consider it part of my heart. And because I love it so much, I want to see it safe and secure and free and democratic and living safely."

These are fine sentiments, but isn't it odd that she has to defend her qualifications for a position in the U.S. government by saying how much she "loves" a foreign country? For an American official in her position, what matters is that she loves America, and that she believes anti-semitism is a hateful philosophy that should be opposed vigorously. Whether she loves Israel or France or Thailand or Namibia, etc., is irrelevant. (And yes, it's entirely possible to loathe anti-Semitism and not love Israel).

But the real lesson of all these episodes is the effect of this litmus test on the foreign policy community more broadly. Groups in the lobby target public servants like Freeman, Hagel, and Rosenthal because they want to make sure that no one with even a mildly independent view on Middle East affairs gets appointed. By making an example of them, they seek to discourage independent-minded people from expressing their views openly, lest doing so derail their own career prospects later on. And it works. Even if the lobby doesn't manage to block every single appointment, they can make any administration think twice about a potentially "controversial" choice and use the threat to stifle open discourse among virtually all members of the mainstream foreign policy community (and certainly anyone who aspires to public service in Washington).

The result, of course, is the U.S. Middle East policy (and U.S. foreign policy more generally) is reserved for those who are either steadfastly devoted to the "special relationship" or who have been intimidated into silence. The result? U.S. policy remains in the hands of the same set of "experts" whose policies for the past seventeen years (or more) have been a steady recipe for failure. If a few more Americans read Ha'aretz, they might start to figure this out.

Source: Stephen M Walt

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Jewish institutional chickens coming home to roost

Decades of determined silence, or aiding and abetting both illegal settlement expansion and vicious attacks on dissenting critics of Israeli state policy have created a kind of “blowback” in the institutional Jewish world.

The new targets of the settlers’ linguistic paramilitary forces, aka the rightwing pro-Israel punditocracy and their followers, aren’t just the usual suspects like Jimmy Carter or Archbishop Tutu. They’re now mainstream, moderate, demonstrably Israel-loving institutional Jews. This is a moment of truth for many of these targets. Faced with new pressure from their right-wing flank, some will fold and adapt to a more McCarthyite environment, especially if loss of funding is threatened. Others will stand strong and even be radicalized.

So, who are the new targets of occupation-supporters like Caroline Glick (Whither American Jewry?) and Isi Liebler (Candidly Speaking: Marginalize the renegades) of the Jerusalem Post and Walter Bingham (Expose the Renegades) in Arutz Sheva? For starters, there’s former Jewish Council for Public Affairs director Hannah Rosenthal, whose principled concern for the Jewish community and for Israel is undeniable. She is the newly appointed head of the US Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism:

Shortly after the announcement of Rosenthal’s nomination, conservative Jewish web sites began to attack her, some of them declaring that Obama appointed an anti-Israeli to fight anti-Semitism. Rumors brewed that she had accused Israel of systemically strengthening anti-Semitism. Bloggers argued that her appointment would cause Jews and Israelis to cast doubt on Obama and his relationship with Israel.

Then there’s the the popular San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, known for its diverse approach to programming, and the Jewish Federation in San Francisco, which (lightly) funds the Festival. Not used to getting hate mail from Jews, and being called anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli, the Federation has been under tremendous pressure to cave in to calls for excessively McCarthyite control over funding recipients; the Film Festival has already lost tens of thousands of dollars and half its board, with no sign of the campaign dying any time soon.

The Federation board wisely said no to an absurd proposal to bar partnerships with any individuals or groups who “defame Israel” (good luck defining that), but they did support a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America barring partnerships with groups that support Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions.

(Presumably, Time’s Joe Klein, who recently came out in support of a suspension of aid as a way to get the Israelis to actually freeze settlements, could still speak at a Federation-supported venue. Jewish Voice for Peace, however, which promotes selective divestment and sanctions as a way to end Israel’s occupation, would continue to get no funds or support from the Federation. In fact, the Federation would be duty-bound to oppose JVP, according to the resolution. As more mainstream Jewish groups openly advocate against support for 501c3s that support extremist settlers, it’s not clear how this resolution will play out.) Of course, there is the unprecedented smear campaign against Richard Goldstone, including coordinated condemnation of his report in Conservative synagogues across America, and yet he has continued to hold strong and defend his work with tremendous integrity. And then, there are the ongoing attacks on the new moderate AIPAC alternative, J Street, which puts forth an agenda not entirely different from what Netanyahu himself at least says he wants - two states that preserve as they call it, “a Jewish democracy”. Finally, there is the very surprising Glenn Beck (pictured above) attack on the Anti-Defamation League for their new report “Rage Grows in America: Anti-Government Conspiracies,” which calls out Beck in particular in a wide-ranging condemnation of hate-mongers. Surprising because the ADL can typically be counted on to overlook hate-mongering and Holocaust-abuse in the service of a rightwing “pro-Israel” agenda, but in this case has done the right thing in identifying this truly scary trend for which Beck has become the figurehead. As MJ Rosenberg writes in his new column at Media Matters


Glenn Beck is, not surprisingly, in a state of rage about the ADL report. He defends himself by asking the ADL to “name the person who has been more friendly to Israel” (the predictable defense). This, of course, is utterly irrelevant. The issue here is not Israel but the United States. It is here where Beck spreads his hate, not Israel. And then Beck turns on the ADL itself. Beck said that the Anti-Defamation League itself has “much to do with the plight of the Jewish people.” I don’t know what plight Beck is referring to, perhaps the Holocaust which so often pops into his head and out of his mouth. But, obviously, the ADL fought for the victims of the Holocaust, not its perpetrators. The Holocaust was the product of professional hate mongers, the mob who listened to them, and politicians who came to power on their backs. That is precisely the combination the ADL is worried about now.

It’s tempting to sit back and say, “I told you so.” As Israel is learning all too well regarding increasing numbers of intransigent settlers and religious fanatics who profess open contempt for their own country, you can’t help create a monster and then expect it not to try to devour you. But one hopes that all of the targets of these nasty charges will a) put into perspective the war of words versus the war of lives and homes being waged, for example, in Sheikh Jarakh in East Jerusalem right now and that b) they’ll resist efforts at intimidation precisely because Jews who love Israel should care about the rights of Palestinian Israelis getting evicted from Sheikh Jarakh, as well as the rights of their peace-loving Jewish neighbors. There is only one logical conclusion after reading Rabbi Arik Ascherman’s moving and terrifying account of what’s happening in East Jerusalem: justice for Palestinians is justice, and peace, for Jews. Supporting the ongoing evictions and terrorization of Palestinians is the last way in the world to show love of Israel.

-Cecilie Surasky

Source: Jewish Voice For Peace's Muzzle Watch

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Accessory vs. Perpetrator

German State Prosecutors Hans-Joachim Lutz announced yesterday that Mr John Demjanjuk, 89, is accused of being an ‘accessory’ of the death of 27,900 Jews. Many of us may not understand what the legal notion of ‘accessory’ stands for. An ‘accessory’ is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal. Bearing that in mind. I wonder what Demjanjuk’s court case is there to serve? Clearly geriatric Demjanjuk is not a danger to society. He is neither blamed for being a murderer nor accused of being a mass murderer. Being an alleged ‘accessory’ he is not exactly the story of the Shoa either. If the Holocaust is an account of a racially driven industrial homicidal crime, a Ukrainian POW serving as a German guard while being a prisoner is not exactly a story of a principal executioner. If this court case is aimed at perpetuating the message of the holocaust, all it really does is spread the opposite message. It only proves once again that the Holocaust ideology is revengeful and merciless. If the Germans are really after a last Holocaust spectacular trial can’t they pick something slightly more juicy than an ‘alleged accessory’?

In 1986, John Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel where he was put on trial. According to the Israeli prosecutors, Demjanjuk was brought to a German POW camp in Chelmno in July 1942. He then volunteered to collaborate with the Germans and was sent to the camp at Trawniki, where he was trained to guard prisoners and was given a firearm, a uniform, and an ID card with his photograph. The principal allegation was that Demjanjuk was in fact “Ivan the Terrible” the notorious cold blooded murderer of Treblinka. On April 18, 1988, the Israeli court found Demjanjuk guilty of all charges. One week later, it sentenced him to death by hanging. In 1993, five Israeli Supreme Court judges overturned the guilty verdict on appeal. They realised that the case against Demjanjuk was based on ‘mistaken identification’. “We restrained ourselves” the Israeli judges wrote, “from convicting the appellant of the horrors of Treblinka. Ivan Demjanjuk has been acquitted by us, because of doubt, of the terrible charges attributed to Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.”

By the time the Israeli supreme court decided to release Demjanjuk, the Israeli Attorney General was fully aware of John Demjanjuk being a guard in Sobibor. And yet he decided not to pursue accessory charges against him. Amongst other arguments in favour of Demjanjuk’s release, Israeli Attorney General claimed that “new charges would be unreasonable given the seriousness of those of which he had been acquitted.” He also argued that “conviction on the new charges (being a German guard) would be unlikely.” The Israeli Attorney General grasped that charging Demjanjuk for being an accessory would be counter effective.

Seemingly, the German legal system lacks that necessary ‘Jewish’ wisdom performed by Israeli supreme judges and Attorney General. As it seems, the German court found a very embarrassing method to deal with the German past. They are now charging a dying Ukrainian/American for attempting to survive a Nazi POW camp by collaborating. That is, a one-time German prisoner became an ‘accessory’ of the German killing machine.

If the Germans are insisting to search for Nazi collaborators and brutal ‘accessories,’ survivor Israel Shahak can advise them where to find them. “Every Jewish child was taught (in the Ghettos),” says Shahak, that “if you enter a square from which there are three exits, one guarded by a German SS man, one by a Ukrainian and one by a Jewish policeman, then you should first try to pass the German, and then maybe the Ukrainian, but never the Jew.”1 Apparently, this story is reflected in many survivors’ personal and academic accounts. The Jewish capos and Judenrat were the most brutal of them all.

I think that the Germans better move on and let go of their past. Composing great symphonies and writing philosophy is by far a superior contribution to humanity than Holocaust trials. Guilt is a futile and destructive mode of being. However, if the Germans still feel at fault, they better transform their guilt into responsibility. They better remember that the Palestinians are de facto the last victims of Hitler. Their ordeal is far from being over. If the Germans feel culpable about their past they should never send German warships to Israel. If Germans are concerned with their history they better transform it into meaning. Rather than charging an 89-year old for being an alleged ‘accessory’ they better bring to justice some of the perpetrators of genocidal crimes that are taking place in front of our eyes.

Rather than pushing old Demjanjuk into court in a wheelchair, the German ministry of Justice better pursue Tony Blair, George Bush, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Shimon Peres. They are all free and healthy enough to stand a trial. Unlike alleged accessory Demjanjuk they are all perpetrators of colossal crimes against humanity.

Source: Dissident Voice

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Climate Catastrophe and Israel’s Denial of Palestinians’ Access to Water: Two Aspects of Contemporary Barbarism

Amnesty International has recently released two reports on Israeli water policy that present a rather thoroughgoing indictment of the Zionist colonization project broadly conceived. Entitled “Thirsting for Justice: Palestinian Access to Water Restricted” and “Troubled Waters: Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water,” the reports join many other studies of both more and less recent memory that have provided similar perspectives critical of Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinian people. In the reports, Amnesty finds the Israeli state to be fundamentally violating the right to water of the 4 million Palestinians living under its ongoing military occupation, and hence also to be massively violating Palestinians’ right to an adequate standard of living. It seems important to consider that this aspect of Israel’s active deprivation of the Palestinian people in many ways mirrors and previews the acute deprivation of much of the world’s population that capitalist societies are enacting through their contributions to dangerous anthropogenic interference with the Earth’s climate

For those familiar with the present situation in Palestine, Amnesty’s reports may not prove to be terribly surprising; they are, however, no less offensive and shocking for all that. Amnesty finds that Israelis consume over 80 percent of the water available in the so-called Mountain Aquifer that lies beneath the West Bank, leaving the remaining 20 percent for the 2.3 million West Bank-residing Palestinians. Indeed, it is claimed that these 2.3 million consume a total amount of water equal to or less than that consumed by the 450,000 Israeli settlers living illegally in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Amnesty’s reports further find that Palestinians are totally barred from accessing the waters of the Jordan River, and that some 200,000 rural-dwelling Palestinians go without access to running water in the present day. Palestinian daily per capita consumption of water, we are told, stands at 70 liters, some 30 short of the minimum daily amount recommended by the World Health Organization. According to Amnesty, furthermore, between 90 and 95 percent of the water available to Gazan Palestinians is contaminated and hence “unfit for human consumption.”

The two reports explore this systematic life-denial in detail. Though the reports caution that recent episodes of drought in the region are to account in some way for these bleak statistics, Amnesty also make clear that discriminatory Israeli policies bear far more of the blame for the general situation. It examines some of the various military orders imposed by Israel following the capture of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 that relate to the problem of water in the occupied territories—one establishes complete control by the Israeli military over water resources in the region, and another requires that any construction by Palestinians of new water installations be authorized by an Israeli-issued permit. Amnesty tells us that only 13 such permits were issued in the nearly 30 years that the Israeli military handled water permits prior to transferring such responsibilities to the Oslo-created Palestinian Water Authority. The reports further explore the rendering-inaccessible to Palestinians of several water-rich areas of the West Bank designated by Israel as closed military zones in addition to the destruction on several occasions of existing Palestinian water infrastructure in both Gaza and the West Bank as well as the forced displacement of a number of Palestinian communities whose water resources have been confiscated by Israeli occupation forces. Amnesty also examines the implications of the Israeli separation barrier for Palestinian access to water: it finds that the wall’s route within the West Bank, together with the settlements it protects, affords Israel access to the areas deemed best for the extraction of water from the Mountain Aquifer. It hardly need be said that such privileged access comes by means of the denial of the same to Palestinians, many of whom have seen their former access to wells entirely cut off. Amnesty’s reports also focus on the decidedly detrimental effects of the Israeli blockade of Gaza for the water situation there, as restrictions on the movement of goods constrain Gazans’ ability to maintain existing water and sanitation facilities and rebuild those destroyed by Israel during its attack of December 2008 and January 2009.

Amnesty’s reports find Israel’s water policies to flagrantly violate several extant tenets of international law, most notably the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Beyond such condemnations, though, comes rhetoric deeply critical of the Zionist project in general: Amnesty complements the findings of its reports by claiming Israel’s policy as a whole to be “to limit the overall amount of water (and land) available to the Palestinian population, while preserving for itself privileged access to most of the water and land in the OPT.”

The water situation in Palestine, then, is monstrous, just as is much else related to the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. Indeed, Israeli water policy is reminiscent of what Salih Booker and William Minter refer to in a different context as global apartheid,1 and in this sense parallels many similar horrors of the contemporary world. One of the most pressing such parallels that bears mention here is that of climate change.

Climate change, or global warming, refers to the looming catastrophic atmospheric changes that have accompanied the historical rise of industrial capitalism. As is well-known, the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases for which industrial-capitalist societies have been responsible threatens to radically deprive the access of much of currently existing humanity and many of its potential descendants to water. It is in the destruction by Israel of Palestinian cisterns and water-treatment plants as in its rendering of entire Palestinian communities into environmental refugees through the wholesale cutting-off of their access to water that can be seen a few of the likely realities of the totality toward which the world is moving as a result of climate change.

The likely future of access to water in such a world is dark, indeed. George Monbiot of The Guardian writes that an increase in average global temperatures of 1.5° C—that is, a mere 0.7-0.8° C beyond the level relative to pre-industrial temperatures that has already been achieved due to historical emissions—exposes some 400 million humans to what he refers to rather dryly as water stress, while an average global temperature increase of 2.1° C is estimated to place between 2.3 and 3 billion people at risk of outright water shortages.2 Monbiot’s compatriot Mark Lynas finds a 2° C rise in average global temperatures to nearly eradicate the mountain glaciers on which the millions who currently reside in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia depend upon for their water, and he claims a 3° C such rise to imply a drastic reduction in the Himalayan glaciers that today provide life for more than half of humanity.3

Without serious action aimed at mitigating the consequences of climate change in the near term, these average temperatures increases—to say nothing of even more apocalyptic ones—will likely come to pass. A poll conducted in April found nine out of ten climatologists to believe that humanity would fail to limit global warming to 2° C,4 while the UK Met Office recently concluded that a 4° C average-temperature increase—a temperature increase that Met scientists claim would threaten the water supply of half the world’s population—could well occur by the year 2060.5 Just two weeks ago, in fact, scientists with the Global Carbon Project found the prospect of a 6° C average-temperature increase by the end of the century—an eventuality that would problematize the existence of the vast majority of currently existing humanity—to be entirely within the realm of possibility.6

With regard to climate change then, present reality seems far worse than even the most pessimistic observers could have imagined some time ago. Both the present concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as well as their current rates of emission are far higher than they should be if much of humanity is to have a chance of flourishing in the foreseeable future. The world’s leaders, especially the most powerful among them, have decidedly failed to address this emergency with the sense of urgency it requires. The climate legislation proposed by the lawmaking body of the society most responsible for climate change—the United States—calls for reductions in carbon emissions on a scale entirely inadequate for preventing catastrophic climate change, and Barack Obama has recently expressed that no binding treaty should be expected from the decidedly critical Copenhagen climate summit that will take place next month. Parallels with other examples of imperial arrogance—the recent overwhelming rejection by U.S. legislators of the Goldstone report, for example, or the Obama administration’s caving on the question of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem—could be made.

Reflection on the active deprivation of Palestinians by Israel highlighted in Amnesty’s recent reports on water may help to illuminate the deprivation of humanity generally considered that is being prosecuted by capitalist societies’ contributions to climate catastrophe and their concurrent lack of action aimed at mitigating such. The racist monstrousness implicit in both these projects must surely be resisted as such; indeed, resistance to the suffering inflicted by the Zionist project should be complemented by resistance to the suffering brought about by climate change, for, as the German social critic Max Horkheimer writes, it is crucial that people come to oppose injustice not just in the particular, as in Palestine, Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan, or Tibet, but instead in general, as a whole.7 It is imperative that opposition to the totality somehow be effectively realized rather soon, for the overturning of currently prevailing trends—of barbarism—may not only help the Palestinians in their struggle to reverse the ordeals that have been imposed upon them; debarbarization, in the words of Horkheimer’s friend and colleague Theodor W. Adorno, may indeed constitute “the immediate prerequisite for survival.”8

  1. Global Apartheid.” The Nation, 21 June 2001. []
  2. Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning (Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2007), p. 15, 6. []
  3. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2008), p. 102-107, 159-167. []
  4. David Adam. “World will not meet 2C warming target, climate change experts agree,” The Guardian 14 April 2009. []
  5. David Adam. “Met Office warns of catastrophic global warming in our lifetimes,” The Guardian 28 September 2009. []
  6. Steve Connor and Michael McCarthy. “World on course for catastrophic 6°C rise, reveal scientists,” The Independent, 18 November 2009. []
  7. Sociedad, razón y libertad (Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 2005), p. 126. []
  8. Critical Models (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2005), p. 190. []
Source: Dissident Voice
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Yale Putting Muhammad Above Free Speech

Sixteen organizations will accuse Yale today of failing to stand up for free speech with its decision not to print satirical images of the prophet Muhammad in a book published by Yale University Press last September.

The organizations, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the International Publishers Association, appear as signatories on a statement that will be sent to Yale, chastising the University for not printing Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard’s controversial cartoons. The statement, written by National Coalition against Censorship Executive Director Joan Bertin, argues that by capitulating to threats of violence, Yale has fed a climate in which people will be afraid to speak and publish freely. Yale’s decision drew widespread criticism and debate from professors, students and alumni in the past three months.

“The situation is extremely disturbing because Yale is a very prominent university, and their doing something like this might justify other institutions doing so,” Bertin said. “This action compromised the book, the press and an important principle: not only should academics be able to discuss these things among themselves, but in this country we’re entitled to talk about and view the images.”

The statement is the latest development in a controversy that began last August, when the Press announced it would print Brandeis University professor Jytte Klausen’s book, “The Cartoons that Shook the World,” without the cartoons that incited violent riots when they were first published in a Danish newspaper in 2005.

“Yale and Yale University Press are deeply committed to freedom of speech and expression, so the issues raised here were difficult,” the Yale University Press said in a statement in August. “The decision rested solely on the experts’ assessments that there existed a substantial likelihood of violence that might take the lives of innocent victims.”

A representative of the Press declined to comment further on the issue earlier this month.

When Bertin sent a letter to University and Press officials earlier this month to notify them in advance about the statement released today, University administrators responded by posting a copy of the August statement on Bertin’s blog.

Although some of the signatories of Bertin’s statement have expressed skepticism that reprinting the cartoons in a scholarly book would actually cause bloodshed, Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said two weeks ago that there is evidence the cartoons are still inflammatory. She pointed to an October incident in Chicago, in which two men were arrested for plotting to kill Flemming Rose, an editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which printed the cartoons in 2005.

Today’s statement, which Bertin co-authored with Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, appeared in print earlier this fall. Bertin and Nelson gave Duke University professor Gary Hull, another signatory, permission to use their statement in his book “Muhammad: The ‘Banned’ Images,” released two weeks ago. The book reprints the images stripped from Klausen’s.

“In my view and the view of the other signatories, what Yale did was really cowardly,” Hull said earlier this month. “There are a lot of smart people at Yale. They should know that for them to cave to what I regard as barbarian behavior leads to nothing but emboldening barbarism and a further erosion of free speech.”

The statement already had more than a dozen signatories — among them Rose, University of California, Los Angeles law professor and first amendment expert Eugene Volokh and Sarah Ruden, a professor at the Yale Divinity School — when Hull published it in his book. Bertin spent several months recruiting additional signatories before sending the statement to Yale.

Source: Yale Daily News

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