Category Archives: Mideast

Outraged at apartheid Israel’s crimes against Palestinians? Here are 5 things you can do.

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from the BDS Movement

In many countries, governments and corporations are deeply complicit with Israel’s decades-old regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, just as they were complicit in the apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel can only sustain this regime of oppression with international complicity.


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Here are the 5 most effective things YOU can do to challenge this complicity and support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality:

1. Work with progressive networks to pressure parliament and government to (a) end all military-security cooperation and trade (military funding in the US case) with apartheid Israel and similarly criminal regimes of oppression worldwide, (b) ban all goods/services of companies operating in Israel’s illegal colonial settlements; and (c) demand a UN investigation of Israeli apartheid.

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Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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2. Mobilize pressure in your community, trade union, association, church, social network, student government/union, city council, cultural center, or other organization to declare it an Apartheid Free Zone (AFZ), ending all relations with apartheid Israel and companies that are complicit in its system of oppression.

3. Boycott products/services of, and/or mobilize institutional pressure to divest from, Israeli and international companies and banks that are complicit in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. This includes all Israeli banks (Leumi, Hapoalim, etc.) and major multinationals such as: Elbit Systems, HP, G4S/Allied Universal, AXA, CAF, PUMA, Caterpillar, General Mills/Pillsbury, Hyundai Heavy Industries, JCB, Volvo, Barclays Bank, Alstom, Motorola Solutions, and CEMEX.

4. Cancel all academic, cultural, sports, and tourism engagements in Israel or supported/sponsored by Israel (or its lobby groups and complicit institutions).

5. Join a BDS campaign or a strategic Palestine solidarity group near you to act collectively and effectively.

Channel your anger and mobilize to dismantle apartheid and all forms of racism and oppression.

People Around the World Stand Up in Solidarity With Palestine

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

A photo report from Left Voice

All over the world, people are standing up in solidarity with Palestine and against Zionist displacement and murder of Palestinians.


Image by Reuters, Protest in London

New York City
@left voice New York City’s solidarity rally with Palestine. Free Palsestine. Not one cent to Israel.

@KeiPritsker Several thousands marching for Palestine in New York City
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Photo by Luigi Morris

Washington DC

@aletweetsnews Protest supporting Palestine near the White House this evening, featuring a gigantic Palestinian flag and a wooden peace tank adorned with flowers paraded from the State Department, where hundreds started marching a couple of hours ago.
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London

@stopthewall Solidarity protest with #Palestine in #London. Whereever you are, endorse the #BDS call, share stories about what’s happening in #Palestine, and take to the streets changing: #FreePalestine, to end #Israeli brutality and hold it to account. #SaveSheikhJarrah #GazaUnderAttack

@PSCupdates Wow. No Words. #SaveSheikhJarrah
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@ftwsope 8,000 people attended this protest in London for Palestine!! #FreePalestine
click for video

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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South Africa

Turkey

Image by Reuters

Image by Reuters

Morocco

Beirut

(MEE/Kareem Chehayeb)

Pakistan

(Rizwan Tabassum/AFP)

Amnesty International : End brutal repression of Palestinians protesting forced displacement in occupied East Jerusalem

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

Israeli security forces have used repeated, unwarranted and excessive force against Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem following four days of violence in which 840 Palestinians were injured, Amnesty International said today [May 10]. At least 21 Israeli police officers and seven Israeli civilians were also injured, according to Israeli police.

The organization calls on Israeli authorities to immediately halt forced evictions in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and end the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

In the latest escalation, Palestinian armed groups have fired rockets and missiles into Israel injuring at least one Israeli and there have been reports of several people killed in Gaza from retaliatory attacks by Israel. Amnesty International calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and take all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians.

“Evidence gathered by Amnesty International reveals a chilling pattern of Israeli forces using abusive and wanton force against largely peaceful Palestinian protesters in recent days. Some of those injured in the violence in East Jerusalem include bystanders or worshippers making Ramadan prayers,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“The latest violence brings into sharp focus Israel’s sustained campaign to expand illegal Israeli settlements and step up forced evictions of Palestinian residents- such as those in Sheikh Jarrah – to make way for Israeli settlers. These forced evictions are part of a continuing pattern in Sheikh Jarrah, they flagrantly violate international law and would amount to war crimes.”

[See last month’s CPNN bulletin: Overcoming Israeli Apartheid]

Eyewitness testimonies – as well as videos and photographs taken by Amnesty International’s researchers on the ground in East Jerusalem –show how Israeli forces  have repeatedly deployed disproportionate and unlawful force to disperse protesters during violent raids on al-Aqsa mosque and carried out unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah.

Since the beginning of Ramadan on 13 April tensions have been steadily rising as Palestinians protested against Israeli restrictions limiting their access to Damascus Gate, a main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. On 26 April, Israeli authorities removed the restrictions in response to the continuous demonstrations.  Anger has also been rising over the imminent plans to forcibly evict four Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers.

Unlawful use of force

Tensions reached boiling point on 7 May, when more than 170 Palestinians were injured  as Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in dispersing worshippers along with protesters, firing 40mm kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs) and concussion grenades into crowds gathered there for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan.  
 
A Palestinian journalist present at the scene described how Israeli forces went on the rampage firing projectiles and tear gas. He also said they stormed the clinic at the mosque and beat protesters. He told Amnesty International: “I’ve been covering events taking place in Jerusalem for the past 10 years… and I’ve never been this scared in my life.  Everyone was a target, I want to say that the shooting was random, but that would be a lie. They knew exactly who and where they were aiming their bullets and grenades at. Most of the people were targeted in their upper bodies (eyes, face, and chest).”

He was also shot in the back – while holding up his camera and attempting to leave the area.

In response, protesters at al-Aqsa threw stones and lit fires as Israeli forces on horseback and in riot gear used stun grenades to repel them.

On 10 May, more than 300 Palestinian protesters were injured when Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa compound for the second time in days. A Red Crescent spokesperson told Amnesty International that the violence led to the hospitalization of at least 250 Palestinians, with seven in a critical condition. 

 One eyewitness said Israeli forces began breaking windows and firing tear gas and stun grenades, leaving many people inside struggling to breathe. 

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Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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Another witness on the scene said Israeli forces started firing tear gas from rooftops before more forces stormed al-Haram square from al Magharbeh gate. “They kept moving in pushing people into al-Aqsa mosque, locking [the doors] with metal chains… and then breaking a window to throw in tear gas at people literally locked up with not much room to breathe or get medical assistance… on top of it they started to  shoot rubber bullets at worshippers inside,” he said.

He also reported seeing Israeli forces beating passers-by and stopping cars evacuating the wounded to photograph the injured before letting them go. He himself was shot in the chest while he approached a medic on the scene who had been injured.  

Sheikh Jarrah

Over the past week Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood have held nightly demonstrations in response to the imminent threat of forced eviction.  Amnesty International has documented arbitrary arrests of peaceful demonstrators, the use of excessive force, arbitrary use of sound and stun grenades as well as the arbitrary spraying of maloderant (skunk) water canons at demonstrators and homes in Sheikh Jarrah.   

Four Palestinian families in the neighbourhood are under imminent threat of forced eviction after a Jerusalem court rejected their appeal against an eviction order. Nahalat Shimon International, a settler company, has filed lawsuits to seize the homes of dozens of families in Sheikh Jarrah using inherently discriminatory laws, such as the Legal and Administrative Matter Laws as well as the Absentee Property Law of 1950, to confiscate Palestinian land or property and transfer it to settler groups. Forcible transfer of the occupied population is prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crimes according to the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International researchers witnessed an unprovoked attack by Israeli forces against a group of peaceful demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah on 9 May. Israeli forces arrived shortly before iftar, the evening Ramadan meal. After the meal a tens of peaceful protesters formed a circle and began chanting against the imminent plans to evict Palestinian families from their homes. The demonstrators were at least 10 metres away from the Israeli forces who were stationed by a nearby Israeli settlers’ home. A short while later Israeli forces launched a coordinated attack to disperse the crowd of Palestinian protesters. Israeli forces on horseback began to sprint towards the crowd. One man limping in pain said he was trampled on by police horses as he tried to run away from the area. Residents were pushed into the walls of their homes and five men were arbitrarily arrested.

Israeli forces began to shove and hit the group -including an Amnesty researcher observing the protest. At around 10pm they brought the skunk water canons and sound grenades and began to arbitrarily fire at demonstrators.

Osama Dweik, was arrested during a nightly demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah on 6 May when Israeli police suddenly charged at the group of protesters and immediately detained him. At the police station he saw Israeli police kicking and beating with batons four Palestinians detained during the Damascus Gate clashes and Sheikh Jarrah protests. Seven other people were arrested at Sheikh Jarrah that night alone.

Gil Hammerschlag, an Israeli activist demonstrating against the forced evictions at Sheikh Jarrah on 7 May, was shoved and kicked by Israeli forces who threw sound grenades at peaceful demonstrators from less than 10 metres away. 

On the same day, a middle-aged Palestinian man was left badly bruised in the leg when Israeli forces threw a stun grenade that struck him in the thigh. A photographer also on the scene told how Israeli forces, including police on horseback, charged towards a crowd peacefully chanting after one of the protesters threw a plastic water bottle at them. 

“Amnesty International researchers witnessed deplorable conduct by security forces at Sheikh Jarrah including entirely unprovoked attacks on peaceful protesters standing up for rights and calling for respect of international law. Instead of further violating the rights of Sheikh Jarrah’s residents and solidarity activists, Israeli authorities must immediately scrap planned forced evictions,” said Saleh Higazi.

Amnesty International is calling on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations under international law.

“Israel must not be allowed to continue its rampage against Palestinians who are simply defending their right to exist and protesting against their forced displacement. Mere expressions of concerns about Israel’s utter disregard for its obligations under international law are not sufficient.  There must be clear and strong denunciations of the flagrant violations, including forced displacement, the expansion of illegal settlements and the and the brutal repression of people protesting against such grave violations,” said Saleh Higazi.

 “As an immediate step we call on the United Nations Security Council members to convene an open session and for the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process to brief member states.”

Nabil el-Kurd, one of the residents under threat of forced eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, told Amnesty International:

“Sheikh Jarrah is sending a message to the whole world, including the US Congress, the UK Parliament, the French Parliament, the EU Parliament, the International Criminal Court, that what is happening to us is a war crime. It is not just an eviction, but a war crime. Remember that. I do not know why the entire world is watching what is happening and letting Israel get away with it. It is time they stopped spoiling Israel.”

Israel and Palestine : An update on the BDS movement

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

Believing that a solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is the key to peace in the Middle East, CPNN has carried many articles on this subject. Increasingly it is recognized that the situation resembles the apartheid of South Africa.

A major contribution to the overcoming of apartheid was the international boycott of South Africa. With that as a model, the BDS movement attempts to overcome the Israeli system of apartheid with “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.”
 

The website bdsmovement.net carries news about this movement. Last August, CPNN carried their review Palestine: 15 lessons from 15 years of BDS

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Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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In December, a review of BDS initiatives in 2020 reported a growing call for sanctions, including by the World Council of Churches  and, in the UK, MPs, the Trades Union Congress, and prominent artists. Another development was the decisions by  the University of Manchester to divest from companies doing business with Israel, and calls for similar action by student groups in the United States at Columbia University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and San Francisco State University.
 
In 2021, positive developments include:

130 Mexican Civil Rights Organizations demand that the company CEMEX end its complicity with Israeli Apartheid.

Over 60 Global Civil Society Groups Signed an Open Letter to Allied Universal to divest from Policity Corporation that trains Israeli police

Richard Falk: A Palestinian Balance Sheet: Normative Victories, Geopolitical Disappointments

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article from the Transcend Media Service

(Note: Richard Falk was appointed  in 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to two three-year terms as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” )

Winning the Long Game

In recent weeks the Palestinian people have scored major victories that would have has immediate dire consequences for Israel if law and morality were allowed to govern political destiny. Instead, the Palestinian people are confronted by adverse geopolitical developments as a result of the Biden presidency, which have accepted some of the most regressive features of Trump’s hyper-partisanship with respect to Israel/Palestine. Law and morality alter reputations, bear on the legitimacy of contested policies, while geopolitics bear on behavior, the difference is one between legitimacy and hegemony. My unprovable hypothesis and firm belief is that hegemony wins out today, but legitimacy triumphs tomorrow.

There is a tendency to dismiss legitimacy gains should as what seems to matter in people’s lives seems remains frozen. In the long game of social change, especially in the course of the last 75 years, the winner of a Legitimacy War waged for the high legal and moral ground has more often than not eventually controlled the political outcome of a struggle, outlasting geopolitical dominance and military superiority along the way. The anti-colonial wars, it should not be forgotten, were won by the far weaker side militarily, which endured ordeals of desecration along their path to victory. This is the lesson such inspirational figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave their life to teach the world, so far with mixed results.

The Palestinian struggle continues, and offers the world of a paradigm of a colonial war carried on in a post-colonial era, in which cruel geopolitical tactics are required to swim against the strong liberation tides of history. Israel has proved to be a resourceful settler colonial state that has carried almost to completion the Zionist Project, moving forward toward its goals by stages, and always with the help of the geopolitical muscle of the West. Only recently has Israel lost control of the normative discourse that earlier it had dominated by highlighting the ghastly persecution of Jews who after the Holocaust deserved a secure sanctuary, a dismissal of nativist Palestinian claims to assert control over their own homeland, and cleverly arranging deceptive publicity portrays of the replacement of dirty backward Arab stagnancy by a dynamic modern, innovative, and flourishing Jewish society that sang and danced while the world slept. Israel later on made itself a valued Western foothold in a region coveted for its energy reserves and increasingly feared because of its anti-Western extremism and Islamic resurgence.

As with other anti-colonial struggles, the fate of the Palestinians will turn on whether the people can finally overcome a ruthlessly repressive state, given more leeway when linked, as is Israel, by regional and global strategic affinities with geopolitical actors. Can the Palestinian people secure their basic rights through their own distinctive blend of internal/external forces, resistance from within, global solidarity campaigns from without? This is the nature of the Palestinian Long Game. At present, this trajectory is hidden among the mysteries of unfolding national, regional, and global history.

Palestinian Normative Victories

Five years ago, no sensible person would have anticipated either that Israel’s most respected NGO, B’Tselem, would issue a report declaring that Israel had established an apartheid state that governed a single territory that stretched from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, that is, encompassing not only Occupied Palestine but Israel itself. With careful analysis the report showed that Israeli policies and practices with respect to immigration, land rights, residency, and mobility are administered in accordance within an overriding framework of Jewish supremacy, and by this logic, Palestinian (more accurately non-Jewish, including Druze and non-Arabic Christians) subjugation. Such a discriminatory and exploitative political arrangement is descriptive of apartheid, as initially established in South Africa and then generalized as an international crime in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. This idea of apartheid criminality was carried forward in the Rome Statute that provides the framework within which the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague carries on its activities. Article 7 of the Statute enumerates the various Crimes Against Humanity over which the ICC asserts its jurisdictional authority. Apartheid is classified as such a crime in  Article 7(j), although without a definition.

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Then came the much anticipated decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC on February 5, 2021. By a 2-1 vote the Chamber’s decision affirmed the authority of Fatou Bensouda, the ICC Prosecutor, to proceed with an investigation of Israeli war crimes committed in Palestine since 2014, as geographically defined by its provisional 1967 borders. To reach this outcome the decision had to make two important pronouncements: first, that Palestine, although lacking many of the attributes of sovereignty, did qualify as a State for purposes of this ICC proceeding, having become a Party to the Rome Statute in 2014 after being recognized by the General Assembly on November 29, 2012 as a ‘non-member Observer State.’(Res. 67/19); and secondly, that the jurisdiction of ICC to investigate crimes committed on the territory of Palestine was authoritatively identified as the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, that is, the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 War.

It should be observed that this Pre-Trial proceeding had attracted unusually widespread interest in the world both because of the identity of the parties and the intriguing character of the issues. Jurists have long been intrigued by defining statehood in relation to different legal settings and by settling jurisdictional disputes addressing issues arising in territories that lack permanently established international borders. Signaling the high stakes of this legal proceeding, unprecedented 43 amicus curiae briefs were submitted, including by prominent figures on both sides of the controversy. Israel was not a Party to the Rome Statute, and declined to participate in the proceedings directly or be bound by the outcome, and yet was infuriated by the outcome, apparently sensing that it was losing control over the international minds and hearts.

This decision was promising beyond its strictly legal issues from a Palestinian point of view as a Preliminary Investigation conducted by the Prosecutor over the prior six years had already concluded that there was ample reason to support the conclusion that crimes had been committed by Israel and by Hamas in Palestine, specifically referencing three settings:

1. The massive IDF attack on Gaza in 2014, known as Operation Protective Edge;

2. the disproportionate uses of force by the IDF in responding to the Right of Return Gaza protests during 2018-19;

3. settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

It is now established that the Prosecutor can go forward, but all that glitters is not gold! Ms. Bensouda is schedule to leave the ICC in June when her term expires, and so far her replacement has not been selected. It is possible that a new prosecutor could use her or his discretion to discontinue the investigation, which reportedly is shaping the politics surrounding the appointment. It will become evident at that point as to whether the ICC gains a needed boost in its own efforts to disengage from the geopolitical architects of world order, or sinks back into its earlier ‘Africa Only’ image of international criminality.

Geopolitical Disappointments

It was reasonable, but maybe not realistic, for Palestine to hope that a more moderate Biden presidency would reverse the most damaging moves taken by Trump that had so overtly rejected international law and UN authority. The Biden Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, sent signals on the most significant issues that appeared to ratify rather than reverse or modify the Trump diplomacy. Blinken affirmed, what Biden had implied, to support the shift of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, joining Trump in defying UNGA Resolution that enjoyed overwhelming support in 2017, declaring the Embassy move as ‘void’ and without legal effect. Blinken has also indicated U.S. support for Israel’s territorial incorporation of the Golan Heights, again defying international law and the UN, which had stood by a firm principle, earlier endorsed with respect to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories after the 1967 War in iconic Security Resolution 242, that territory could not be lawfully acquired by forcible conquest.

Assessing Gains and Losses

So far Israeli the significance of Israel’s setback in the Legitimacy War far outweighs Palestinian predictable geopolitical disappointments. Palestinian reactions to these disappointments have been muted as compared to Israeli apoplectic reaction to the ICC decision.

The fuming response of Netanyahu was replicated across by every leading Israeli politicians. In Netanyahu’s outrageous calumny against the ICC:

“When the ICC investigates Israel for fake war crimes, this is pure anti-Semitism,” adding, “We will fight this perversion of justice with all our might.”

Intemperate as are these remarks, they do show that Israel cares deeply about legitimacy issues, and rightly so. International law and morality can be defied but it is deeply wrong to suppose that they do not matter. South Africa learned that losing the Legitimacy War forced the dismantling of apartheid. Maybe Israeli leaders are beginning see the writing on the wall. In decades to come the ICC decision may turn out to be a turning point not unlike the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre. Before dawn, the night is darkest. The African majority waited more than 30 years for their emancipation from apartheid. The Palestinian people have already endured the hardships and humiliations of racist subjugation and Jewish supremacy for more than 70 years. When will it end, and how?

Human Rights Watch : Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid, Persecution

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Human Rights Watch

Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The finding is based on an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.
 


Video

The 213-page report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” examines Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It presents the present-day reality of a single authority, the Israeli government, ruling primarily over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, populated by two groups of roughly equal size, and methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.

Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”



The finding of apartheid and persecution does not change the legal status of the occupied territory, made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, or the factual reality of occupation.



Originally coined in relation to South Africa, apartheid today is a universal legal term. The prohibition against particularly severe institutional discrimination and oppression or apartheid constitutes a core principle of international law. The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court (ICC) define apartheid as a crime against humanity consisting of three primary elements:

1. An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another.

2. A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalized group.

3. Inhumane acts.

The reference to a racial group is understood today to address not only treatment on the basis of genetic traits but also treatment on the basis of descent and national or ethnic origin, as defined in the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Human Rights Watch applies this broader understanding of race.



The crime against humanity of persecution, as defined under the Rome Statute and customary international law, consists of severe deprivation of fundamental rights of a racial, ethnic, or other group with discriminatory intent.



Human Rights Watch found that the elements of the crimes come together in the occupied territory, as part of a single Israeli government policy. That policy is to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territory. It is coupled in the occupied territory with systematic oppression and inhumane acts against Palestinians living there.



Drawing on years of human rights documentation, case studies, and a review of government planning documents, statements by officials, and other sources, Human Rights Watch compared policies and practices toward Palestinians in the occupied territory and Israel with those concerning Jewish Israelis living in the same areas. Human Rights Watch wrote to the Israeli government in July 2020, soliciting its perspectives on these issues, but has received no response.



Across Israel and the occupied territory, Israeli authorities have sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and to concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers. The authorities have adopted policies to mitigate what they have openly described as a “demographic threat” from Palestinians. In Jerusalem, for example, the government’s plan for the municipality, including both the west and occupied east parts of the city, sets the goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city” and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain.



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(click here for the article in French or click here for the article in Spanish.).)

Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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To maintain domination, Israeli authorities systematically discriminate against Palestinians. The institutional discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel face includes laws that allow hundreds of small Jewish towns to effectively exclude Palestinians and budgets that allocate only a fraction of resources to Palestinian schools as compared to those that serve Jewish Israeli children. In the occupied territory, the severity of the repression, including the imposition of draconian military rule on Palestinians while affording Jewish Israelis living in a segregated manner in the same territory their full rights under Israel’s rights-respecting civil law, amounts to the systematic oppression required for apartheid.



Israeli authorities have committed a range of abuses against Palestinians. Many of those in the occupied territory constitute severe abuses of fundamental rights and the inhumane acts again required for apartheid, including: sweeping movement restrictions in the form of the Gaza closure and a permit regime, confiscation of more than a third of the land in the West Bank, harsh conditions in parts of the West Bank that led to the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, and the suspension of basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians.



Many of the abuses at the core of the commission of these crimes, such as near-categorical denial of building permits to Palestinians and demolition of thousands of homes on the pretext of lacking permits, have no security justification. Others, such as Israel’s effective freeze on the population registry it manages in the occupied territory, which all but blocks family reunification for Palestinians living there and bars Gaza residents from living in the West Bank, use security as a pretext to further demographic goals. Even when security forms part of the motivation, it no more justifies apartheid and persecution than it would excessive force or torture, Human Rights Watch said.



“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without any legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish, is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation,” Roth said. “These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another.”



Statements and actions by Israeli authorities in recent years, including the passage of a law with constitutional status in 2018 establishing Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people,” the growing body of laws that further privilege Israeli settlers in the West Bank and do not apply to Palestinians living in the same territory, as well as the massive expansion in recent years of settlements and accompanying infrastructure connecting settlements to Israel, have clarified their intent to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis. The possibility that a future Israeli leader might someday forge a deal with Palestinians that dismantles the discriminatory system does not negate that reality today.



Israeli authorities should dismantle all forms of repression and discrimination that privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians, including with regards to freedom of movement, allocation of land and resources, access to water, electricity, and other services, and the granting of building permits.



The ICC Office of the Prosecutor should investigate and prosecute those credibly implicated in the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. Countries should do so as well in accordance with their national laws under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on officials responsible for committing these crimes.



The findings of crimes against humanity should prompt the international community to reevaluate the nature of its engagement in Israel and Palestine and adopt an approach centered on human rights and accountability rather than solely on the stalled “peace process.” Countries should establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression in Israel and Palestine and a UN global envoy for the crimes of persecution and apartheid with a mandate to mobilize international action to end persecution and apartheid worldwide.



Countries should condition arms sales and military and security assistance to Israel on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps toward ending their commission of these crimes. Countries should vet agreements, cooperation schemes, and all forms of trade and dealing with Israel to screen for those directly contributing to committing the crimes, mitigate the human rights impacts and, where not possible, end activities and funding found to facilitate these serious crimes.

“While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” Roth said. “Those who strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, whether a one or two-state solution or a confederation, should in the meantime recognize this reality for what it is and bring to bear the sorts of human rights tools needed to end it.”

As Biden Plans Withdrawal, Analysis Shows Afghan War Cost At Least 241,000 Lives and $2.26 Trillion

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Common Dreams (reprinted according to provisions of a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

In the wake of President Joe Biden’s announcement  that he plans to withdraw all regular U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by this year’s anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, experts at the Costs of War Project on Friday released an update on what nearly two decades of war has cost in both dollars and human lives.


An estimated 241,000 people have died as a direct result of the war, and the United States has spent $2.26 trillion  on military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion, according to the project, housed at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.

“These horrific numbers are testament to the costs of war, first to the Afghan people, and then to the soldiers and people of the United States,” said project co-director and Brown University professor Catherine Lutz in a statement. “Ending the war as soon as possible is the only rational and humane thing to do.”

The new Costs of War Project figures are part of a nearly decadelong effort by co-director and Boston University professor Neta Crawford to track the costs of post-9/11 wars in not only Afghanistan and Pakistan but also Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond.

The death tally includes U.S. military and contractors, Department of Defense civilians, Afghan and Pakistani national military and police, other allied troops, civilians, opposition fighters, journalists and media workers, and humanitarian aid workers. The project notes that “these figures do not include deaths caused by disease, loss of access to food, water, infrastructure, and/or other indirect consequences of the war.”

The financial costs include Overseas Contingency Operations budgets of the U.S. Defense and State departments, the DOD’s base-budget war-related increases, veteran care, and estimated interest on money borrowed to fund the war. It does not included future costs of veteran care or future interest payments.

“The DOD spending, at over $900 billion in Afghanistan, is the tip of the iceberg,” Crawford said. “The costs of the Afghanistan war include its escalation into Pakistan, millions of refugees and displaced persons, the toll in lives of combatants and noncombatants, and the need to care for America’s veterans. The Pentagon’s base budget has increased as well.”

“We report these estimates so that the American people will have a better understanding of the scale of the effort and its consequences,” she explained. “The American people also lost some transparency here. A more comprehensive accounting is yet to be completed. It would include not just money that may or may not have been well spent, but the count of those wounded, those who lost limbs, and the tremendous psychological toll of decades of war on combatants and noncombatants and their families.”

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Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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The new numbers come after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) argued  Thursday in an op-ed for the Washington Post that the withdrawal should spark reflection upon “the enormous costs” of nearly two decades of war and enable the U.S. to “refocus on diplomacy as our foreign policy tool of first resort.”

“Executing a responsible and comprehensive withdrawal from Afghanistan is an essential first step toward Biden fulfilling his commitment to end ‘forever wars,'” the lawmakers wrote. “But more work must be done.”

Antiwar activists and human rights advocates concur.

Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, noted  Friday that Biden’s announcement “has raised fears that further insecurity may erode important gains in human rights that have allowed Afghans, women and girls in particular, to enjoy greater freedoms and better education and health.”

“The U.S. government should commit to providing vital funding and diplomatic support to preserve and expand on those gains and press for an end to abuses against civilians,” Gossman said.

In addition to boosting assistance for education and health, especially for Afghan females of all ages, “assistance will be needed to improve enforcement of laws protecting women and to ensure that legal aid is available for women prisoners and juvenile detainees,” Human Rights Watch explained.

The group also called for strengthening Afghan human rights groups, particularly the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and said that “the U.S. should provide long-term institutional support to assist independent news media organizations to become self-sustaining. The U.S. should also press the Taliban—which could become an aid recipient under any future peace agreement—to cease all threats and attacks on the media and to pledge to uphold media freedom.”

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies of the peace group CodePink wrote in The Progressive Thursday that “it’s true that a U.S. withdrawal may lead to setbacks in the gains made by Afghan women and girls. But those gains have been mainly in the capital city of Kabul. Two-thirds  of girls in Afghanistan still receive no primary education, and Afghan women will never achieve significant advances while their country remains at war.”

“Ending the fighting and investing a small fraction of U.S. war spending in education and healthcare would do far more to improve the lives of Afghan women and girls,” they asserted. More broadly, the pair filled in some of details that haven’t been a major focus since the president confirmed plans to end the longest U.S. war, writing:

What Biden did not admit is that the United States and its allies, with all their money and firepower, were unable to vanquish the Taliban, who currently control about half of Afghanistan and are positioned to control even more in the coming months without a ceasefire. Nor did Biden admit that, in two decades, the United States and its allies have been unable to build up a stable, democratic, popular government or a competent military in the country.

Benjamin and Davies also noted that “while Biden is being pilloried by some for pulling out too soon, the truth is that he is violating  a May 1 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal that was painstakingly negotiated under the Trump administration,” and anticipation of that U.S. violation has prompted the Taliban to refuse to join 10 days of United Nations-led peace talks set to start in Istanbul on April 24.

“We must hope that, in the coming months, the U.N. will find a way to bring the warring parties in Afghanistan together and craft a ceasefire and a workable peace process based on power sharing,” they concluded. “After so many decades of war and intense suffering, much of it perpetrated by the United States and its allies, the Afghan people desperately need—and deserve—an end to this war.”

Spain: First-person testimonies: this is how we fight for gender equality by activism and participation

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Toledo Diario (translation by CPNN)

The fight for gender equality is global and transversal. Mutual support, collaboration networks and alliances are essential for the achievement of rights that in some countries have advanced more than in others. For all this, activism and social participation have become a powerful tool that Development NGOs now want to show as an example of these global actions.


Image by Antonio Cansino from Pixabay

The multimedia project “Weaving Alliances for Gender Equality” has as its objective to collect, both online and in a printed publication, about fifteen projects around the world. It has been prepared by the Coordinator of NGOs in Castilla-La Mancha in collaboration with groups from various countries and with the support of the Women’s Institute of this autonomous community. And the result is dozens of testimonies to learn, raise awareness and fight for this International Women’s Day, and every day of the year.

This project is part of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that constitute the roadmap to achieve sustainable development where “no one is left behind”, especially SDG 5, which seeks to achieve equality between gender and empower all women and girls by 2030.

The Coordinator highlights that in a context of global inequality, the alliances between local and regional governments, NGDOs, local counterparts, unions, universities and citizens, are needed to promote the principles of the 2030 Agenda and enhance its most transformative elements. “These alliances reinforce the capacities of governments, civil organizations and citizens that defend human rights; they sensitize and mobilize the commitment and involvement of citizens towards sustainable development and promote effective actions to combat inequalities ”.

(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

The proof is this multimedia project, where we can hear from its protagonists first-hand.

One of them is Elena Emperatriz Santiso, participant in the SOLMAN and ADICOMAR equality project for the empowerment of women, to improve their economic independence and know their rights. Various trainings adapted to the context were designed to empower women, to improve economic independence and to know their rights. These training in dressmaking, beauty or hairdressing, accompanied by training in rights, not only allowed for greater economic independence, but women began to recognize that they had rights and, if they were violated, there were legal mechanisms to report them. Click here for her testimony in Spanish

Another testimony is that of the Alianza de Mujeres en el Corredor del Cribe Project, in which SodePaz participates, and which develops within the framework of an agreement between non-governmental organizations of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba to address issues related to the social and solidarity economy from an environmental perspective. It incorporates the cultural and gender dimension, and everything that implies sustainable development in that region. Olita Jean is a participant in this initiative in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. Here is her testimony in Spanish.

Oxfam Intermón develops the “Together We Victory” initiative to support Colombian women who fight for the protection of civil rights and the environment. In this context, women defenders, rural women, involved in a reality of inequality, risk and abuse in the exploitation of natural resources of their land, are united in the Platform for Political Advocacy of Rural Women of Colombia. They can obtain support from Oxfam Intermón to raise their voice and increase the visibility of their actions and the dangers they face. Thanks to this campaign, a joint circular has been signed for the first time between the different control entities of the Government of Colombia to guarantee the rights of rural women. In it, public servants are urged to comply with the regulations that are already in place and whose non-compliance will generate disciplinary actions. Laura Victoria Gómez Correa, from the Right to Equality Program in Colombia, speaks. Here is her testimony in Spanish.

Nurses for the World is the protagonist of another of the initiatives of these alliances. It is about their work in the fight and prevention of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Bolivia. In the last workshop “It’s about you”, held within the framework of the II International Forum “Toledo, Culture of Peace”, the proposal was very well received and the people who initially attended out of curiosity, ended the workshop being more aware the meaning, causes and consequences of human trafficking and smuggling. Miriam Montero Gómezes technician of Nurses for the World projects speaks here in Spanish.

Finally, the Assembly for Cooperation for Peace (ACPP) contributes to this project the experience of the women protagonists in 2011 of the so-called Arab Spring. They raised their voices to demand social and political improvements that would consolidate human rights. With them, this NGO works in the Maghreb, to support and strengthen civil movements and associations that promote women’s rights, so that they are the engine of change in their countries. Anna Rispa is a reference of the Assembly of Cooperation for Peace in the Maghreb. Here is her testimony in Spanish.

International Women’s Day : Images from Europe and Asia

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from the Los Angeles Times

Women across Europe and Asia shouted their demands for equality, respect and empowerment Thursday to mark International Women’s Day, with protesters in Spain launching a 24-hour strike and crowds of demonstrators filling the streets of Manila, Seoul and New Delhi.


An artist paints a message on a wall in Sana, Yemen, to mark International Women’s Day. (Yahya Arhab / EPA/Shutterstock; A.M. Ahad / Associated Press)


During a Women’s Day rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, men hold placards highlighting violence against women. (Yahya Arhab / EPA/Shutterstock; A.M. Ahad / Associated Press)

Spain

Spanish women were staging dozens of protests across the country against the wage gap and gender violence. In Barcelona, protesters disrupting traffic into the city center were pushed back by riot police.

In Madrid, hundreds of women gathered in its central square to demand change. Teresa Sonsur, a 38-year-old social services agency worker, said she wanted to end workplace discrimination.


The 731 crosses at Forti de Vinaros beach in Castellon, Spain, represent women who died in gender-related violence since 2007. (Domenich Castello / EPA/Shutterstock)


A young woman in Barcelona attends a protest during a one-day strike for women’s rights. Right, riot police surround women on a Barcelona street during the general strike for International Women’s Day. (Lluis Gene / AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey


Women gather as they shout slogans and flash the V-sign for victory during a demonstration to mark International Women’s Day in Diyarbakir, (Turkey. Ilyas Akengin / AFP/Getty Images)

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Questions for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Asia

Across Asia, women came out to mark the day. In China, students at Tsinghua University used the day to make light of a proposed constitutional amendment to scrap term limits for the country’s president. One banner joked that a boyfriend’s term should also have no limits, while another said, “A country cannot exist without a constitution, as we cannot exist without you!”


Pakistani women rally in Karachi to mark International Women’s Day. (Shahzaib Akber / EPA/Shutterstock)


In Manila, Filipinas hold a march to mark the day and to protest President Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights abuses. (Jes Aznar/Getty Images


South Koreans supporting the #MeToo movement wear all black to rally in Seoul. (EPA/Shutterstock)

Russia

International Women’s Day is a public holiday in Russia, but opposition presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak was one of only a few demonstrators in Moscow.


A member of the Russian feminist movement attends a rally dedicated to the struggle for women’s rights and against the patriarchate in St. Petersburg, Russia. Anatoly Maltsev / EPA/Shutterstock

(Editor’s note: For other photos from India, Turkey, Indonesia, Nepal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Pakistan, Germany, Kosovo, Italy, Romania and France, see the report in Al Jazeera.)

Civil society in northeast Syria promotes women’s role to fight extremism

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Akhin Ahmed in the Al-Monitor

The Democratic Solutions Organization  (Demos), a civil society organization operating in northern and eastern Syria with the aim to build a democratic state to fight extremism, wrapped up its first annual conference on Feb. 17 in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli. 

Some 42 public figures, including 15 women, in addition to activists, media professionals, politicians, representatives of civil organizations and community leaders, took part in the conference to discuss the results of Demos’ project dubbed “Promoting Positivity of Life to Counter Violent Extremism.”

The project was launched a year and a half ago and directly targeted about 13,000 people and indirectly targeted many more across Hasakah, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. 

Abbas Ali, the project manager, discussed with Al-Monitor the goals of the project, saying, “Our project aims to boost the steadfastness of local communities in the cities of Hasakah, Qamishli, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor against extremism.” 

He noted, “The project also aims to strengthen the role of women, youth and the displaced in fighting violent extremism through a number of workshops Demos held in the past year and a half as part of its project.”

Abbas added that through its project, Demos focuses on several topics, most notably countering violence against women’s rights and promoting pride in cultural identity.

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Question related to this article:

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

(continued from left column)

Mirna Namis, one of the participants and supervisors of the Demos workshops, told Al-Monitor, “In the absence of a role for women in fighting extremism and terrorism, we sought — through our [Demos] project — to support women in this field. We sought ways to engage women in ensuring the safety and security of their families and protecting them from terrorism and extremism. We also discussed ways to involve women in confronting negative forces in society and the effective role that they can play in their surroundings, whether inside or outside their homes, in order to instil a culture of peace as an alternative to hatred.” 

Namis praised the prominent role of education and the press in rejecting the culture of extremism and violence. 

She added, “Our project directly targeted about 13,000 people and was implemented in Hasakah, Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The participants in the conference included decision-makers in the region, in addition to politicians, civil society activists and representatives of civil organizations, independent figures and media professionals.” 

Rakan Dargham, a civil activist from Raqqa who participated in the conference, told Al-Monitor, “The conference included sessions on the role of the internet in spreading violence and extremism on the one hand, and its role in combating extremism on the other.”

He explained, “Our project addressed the role of the internet as a double-edged sword. The internet is used by militant groups to influence the minds of young people and recruit them.

The Islamic State  [IS] and other radical groups have used the internet in their recruitment process. But the internet and the media are also used to expose the true intentions and plans of these radical groups, such as IS, that influence and lure a large number of youth and convince them to commit crimes.”

In regard to the possibility of women serving as a catalyst in the peace process in Syria, Abbas said, “Women can play a key role in instilling peace by preventing their husbands, sons  or brothers from participating in wars and armed conflicts and getting involved in the activities of extremist groups. Women are inherently peace-loving and their awareness of the importance of peace reflects positively on the environment in which they live. They can be a catalyst in the peace process in the country.”