US pulls out of UNESCO over “anti-Israel bias”

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UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Oct 17, 2016. (photo: Francois Mori / AP)

The US is pulling out of UNESCO for the second time, leaving $550 million in unpaid dues.

By Thomas Adamson & Matthew Lee / The Associated Press via The Seattle Times / Oct 12, 2017


“Universality is critical to Unesco’s mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity.”
— Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General


The United States announced Thursday it is pulling out of the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural agency because of what Washington sees as its anti-Israel bias and a need for “fundamental reform” in the agency.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel plans to follow suit.

While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department’s statement was unexpected. The Paris-based agency’s executive board is in the midst of choosing a new chief — with Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari leading the heated election heading into Friday’s final vote.

Outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova expressed “profound regret” at the U.S. decision and tried to defend UNESCO’s reputation. The organization is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions, but also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

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What is BDS?

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A sign is held aloft during a rally for Palestinian liberation in Berlin. (photo: Reuters)

BDS is a global non-violent movement using economic pressure to oppose to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

By Ramzy Baroud / Telesur / Oct 1, 2017


What are the goals of BDS?

    1. End the military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and other Palestinian lands.
    2. Allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
    3. Assure equal rights for all Israeli citizens, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

 


The BDS Movement was the outcome of several events that shaped the Palestinian national struggle and international solidarity with the Palestinian people.

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. The BDS Movement was the outcome of several events that shaped the Palestinian national struggle and international solidarity with the Palestinian people following the Second Uprising (Intifada) in 2000.

Building on a decades-long tradition of civil disobedience and popular resistance, and invigorated by growing international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle as exhibited in the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, Palestinians moved into action.

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Israeli settlers turn archeological sites into political tools

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The Biyar Aqueduct has become a tourist attraction for Israeli settlers. (photo: Duane Vander Klok)

Every year, some 100,000 women, children and men visit the Biyar Aqueduct, built some 2,000 years ago to supply water to Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple.

By Akiva Eldar / Al-Monitor / Oct 3, 2017


“There is clear evidence at the Biyar Aqueduct — as there is at other sites — of the presence of the sons of the Judean Kingdom or of Jews at various periods. The problem is that these sites are being used as propaganda tools to establish the right of Jews to those lands, and the multicultural aspect of thousands of years of history is sidelined or even wiped out of the whole story.”
— Archaeologist Yonathan Mizrachi


The Israeli left made no bones about its glee over the empty bleachers at the September 27 jubilee celebration of the liberation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights organized by the settlers in the occupied West Bank. The left views the photos of the empty seats as proof of the settlers’ failure to occupy the hearts and minds of the general Israeli public. The leftists argue that not only did the billions poured by successive Israeli governments into the settlements for 50 years lure fewer than 5% of Israelis to live there — about 400,000 according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics — the vast majority avoided the wasteful “liberation festival.”

Yet the pleasure taken by the left in the seeming failure of the settlers and their patrons is somewhat pathetic. Granted, the right-wing concept of a return to the land of the forefathers has not created a major demographic shift of Israelis moving to the settlements. Nonetheless, the notion has ingrained itself in the minds of broad swathes of the Israeli public and of tens of thousands of visitors from around the world. It happens daily in Jerusalem’s Old City and throughout the West Bank.

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Administrative detention “worst of all possible worlds”

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Protesters supporting Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (photo: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)

Critics blast Israel’s practice of holding Palestinians on secret evidence, without charge or trial.

By Dalia Hatuqa / Al Jazeera / Oct 3, 2017


“For the last 50 years, Israeli authorities have been using administrative detention as a substitute for criminal proceedings in cases where there’s not enough evidence [for formal proceedings].”
— Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa


At first glance, a legislator, a circus performer and an NGO worker might not appear to have much in common. But all three Palestinians are former or current political prisoners who have been subjected to an obscure legal procedure called administrative detention, which allows Israel to imprison people without charge or trial for an indefinite amount of time.

Israeli authorities have been using this procedure for more than half a century, basing it on secret evidence. The Palestinian Prisoners Society, a detainee support group, noted a sharp rise in administrative detentions in August, with more Palestinians held without trial than during any other month this year. The rise, to 84 detentions, came amid increased tensions in the occupied West Bank after the stabbing of three Israeli settlers by a Palestinian on July 21.

As of September, there were 449 administrative detainees being held in prisons inside Israel, almost all of them Palestinian, according to data provided to rights group Hamoked by the Israel Prison Service.

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The Israeli Right’s “coexistence” in the West Bank

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS

The separation wall near the Qalandiya checkpoint outside of Jerusalem. (photo: Maya Levin / Flash90)

The “colonialists” accept the status quo, the “apartheidists” want complete separation, and the “transferists” openly await a third Nakba.

By Naam Sheizaf / +972 Magazine / Sep 11, 2017


The Right’s imagined coexistence in the occupied territories is uncannily similar to the kind whites dreamed of in Rhodesia. That is, we can get our cars fixed for cheap, and they can come work for us, bereft of any rights. In the meantime, they can continue living in their crowded cities and squalid refugee camps.


There is nothing the Israel Right loves more than adopting the criticism of its rivals on the Left in order to justify its rule. Strangely, this criticism has turned into a main aspect of the language settlers use when describing their “coexistence” with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Their argument goes as such: while Tel Aviv is a bubble where rich, liberal Jews love Arabs in theory only, in the West Bank we truly see the Palestinians as humans and as neighbors. The Left fantasizes about peace agreements with people it doesn’t even know, but the Right’s version of coexistence includes real people — who are sometimes filled with hate and sometimes are not, who work and live together but want to keep their own culture, and who see each other as equals.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

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Is it bad for Israel that Palestine joined Interpol?

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Palestine’s membership shouldn’t pose a new concern for Israel.

By Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian / Foreign Policy / Sep 27, 2017


“Almost every country in the world is a member of Interpol, with the notable exception of North Korea. Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Syria, Yemen, Iran — these are all member countries I’m assuming that, for Israel, would be not particularly friendly countries.”
— Bruno Min, a legal and policy officer at Fair Trials


Interpol, the international police organization, has voted to accept Palestine as a member country — which will heighten fears in Israel that Palestine could use Interpol to target Israeli officials.

Interpol membership will bring several benefits to Palestinian police. They’ll get access to information that other police agencies around the world have shared about criminal activity and will be able to issue red notices, which function as international nonbinding warrants requesting the extradition of criminal fugitives.

And that’s what makes Israel nervous.

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