By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Methodist Church rejects products from the West Bank.
LONDON – The Methodist Church of Britain voted on Wednesday to boycott Israeli-produced goods and services from the West Bank because of Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.”
“A majority of governments recognize the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law,” the church body said at its annual conference in Portsmouth.
The church body will now encourage Methodists across the UK to follow suit.
The motion stated that the boycott of goods “from illegal Israeli settlements” was in response to a call by the World Council of Churches – which advocates divestment from Israel – and by Palestinian civil society and “a growing number of Jewish organizations in Israel and worldwide.”
“The Methodist Conference notes the call of the World Council of Churches in 2009 for an international boycott of settlement produce and services and the support given for such a boycott by Christian leaders in Palestine in the Kairos document, Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Jewish organizations both inside Israel and worldwide and calls on the Methodist people to support and engage with this boycott of Israeli goods emanating from illegal settlements,” the church said.
Last year, the Methodist Church set up a working group to “work for an end to the Occupation, an end to the blockade of Gaza, adherence to international law by all sides and a just peace for all in the region.”
The resulting 54-page report produced by the church body, titled “Justice for Palestine and Israel,” met with a fierce condemnation by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Council of Christians and Jews and British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
In a statement released after Wednesday’s vote, the church body said the decision, which carried unanimously, had the goal of ending “the existing injustice.”
“This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, careful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the conference,” said Christine Elliott, secretary for external relationships. “The goal of the boycott is to put an end to the existing injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlements present to a lasting peace in the region.”
Jewish community leadership organizations reacted with dismay. In a joint statement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council said it was, “This is a very sad day, both for Jewish-Methodist relations and for everyone who wants to see positive engagement with the complex issues of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Methodist Conference has swallowed hook, line and sinker a report full of basic historical inaccuracies, deliberate misrepresentations and distortions of Jewish theology and Israeli policy.
“The deeply flawed report is symptomatic of a biased process: The working group which wrote the report had already formed its conclusions at the outset. External readers were brought in to give the process a veneer of impartiality, but their criticisms were rejected. The report’s authors have abused the trust of ordinary members of the Methodist Church, who assumed that they were reading and voting on an impartial and comprehensive paper, and they have abused the goodwill of the Jewish community, which tried to engage with this issue, only to find that our efforts were treated as an unwelcome distraction,” the statement said.
David Gifford, the chief executive of the Council of Christians and Jews, said he was disappointed that the Israeli narrative was not heard during the debate.
“I was very disappointed at the emotive nature of the debate which again did not hear fairly also the pain and cry of the Israeli,” Gifford said. “It was right to hear the pain of the Palestinian but in the end the vote of the Methodist Conference was to boycott goods and services that originate from the West Bank. We shall have to see how this will affect future relationships of the Methodist Church with other churches, the CCJ [Council of Christians and Jews] and with the British Jewish community.”
The Board of Deputies said the conference should “hang its head in shame.”
“This outcome is extremely serious and damaging, as we and others have explained repeatedly over recent weeks. Israel is at the root of the identity of Jews and of Judaism, and as an expression of Jewish spiritual, national and emotional aspirations. Zionism cannot simply be ruled as illegitimate in the way that the conference has purported to do. This smacks of breathtaking insensitivity, as crass as it is misinformed. That this position should now form the basis of Methodist Church policy should cause the conference to hang its head in shame, just as surely as it will cause the enemies of peace and reconciliation to cheer from the sidelines.”
Anti-Zionist and anti-Israel activists who support a blanket boycott of Israel were the main sources of the document. They included Israeli-born academics Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim; Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions; Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer; and Beirut-based journalist Robert Fisk.
by Khalid Amayreh on June 30, 2010
The cruel Israeli regime is organizing a fresh campaign to demand the release of one of its occupation soldiers, detained in a secret Gaza location.
The new campaign, publicized by the Jewish-controlled media in Europe and North America, is assuming many expressions, including protests led by the soldier’s family, a propaganda ship organized by the American Jewish followers of the Nazi-minded rabbi Meir Kahana, and a call by happy-go-lucky French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the unconditional release of the Israeli soldier.
This is the same Sarkozy who kept silent during the murderous Israeli onslaught against the defenseless people of Gaza eighteen months ago. He is now invoking humanitarianism and charity as if the thousands of Gaza children, men and women, annihilated or maimed by the Israeli army were non-humans.
It is true that Gilad Shalit is not being accorded a five-star treatment. But this is not due to any presumed sadistic urges on Hamas’s part to torment the young soldier who is likely to have the blood of many children on his hands.
In Israel, it is difficult to find an adult Israeli male whose hands have not been stained with Palestinian blood. After all, Israel is a society of murderers and child-killers. It is a society whose members Zionism has transformed into racists, cannibals and Nazi-minded murderers and child killers.
Indeed, were it not for the fact that Israel has been making constant and meticulous efforts to discover his whereabouts and liberate him by force, there is no doubt that Hamas would allow the International Commission of the Red Cross, even his family, to visit him.
But Israel, a country that murders peace activists on high seas and then calls the cold-blooded murder “armed confrontations with terrorists,” can’t be trusted.
Palestinians have had a long and bitter experience with Israeli treachery. This is why Hamas can’t allow itself to make the slightest risk in this regard. Yes, one might sympathize with Shalit at a certain human level. However, Shalit is only one person while the entire Palestinian people are held hostage by an evil regime that can only be compared with history’s worst.
There are, of course, other aspects to this sensitive issue. Israel detains thousands of Palestinian political and resistance prisoners in its dungeons. And as the recently-freed Palestinian Islamic leader Sheikh Nayef Rajoub revealed, many of these prisoners are being subjected to Medieval savagery at the hands of those claiming to be “a light upon the nations.”
For those who have forgotten, Shalit was taken prisoner in battlefield. Moreover, had Israel succeeded in carrying out a rescue operation, he would have most likely got killed.
This is probably the endgame that Israel wishes for its imprisoned soldier. A dead Shalit would be a Hasbara bonanza for the Zionist propaganda machine. On the one hand, it would allow Israel to torture and kill more Palestinian political prisoners (several Palestinian prisoners died recently due to torture, medical negligence and other causes). It would also absolve Israel from freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as demanded by Hamas and insisted by the vast bulk of the Palestinian masses, irrespective of their political orientation.
To be sure, Hamas had been negotiating in good faith with Israel, hoping to reach a dignified breakthrough that would see the repatriation of Shalit to his family in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian detainees to their families. That would be a win-win formula for everyone.
However, the Israeli government consistently and arrogantly rejected this logical proposal, making racist arguments which even the leaders and ideologues of the Third Reich didn’t dare to make.
For example, Israeli leaders routinely invoke the mendacious canard that the Judeo-Nazi state cannot free prisoners who have Jewish blood on their hands. Well, what about the thousands or tens thousands of Israelis who have Palestinian, Lebanese and now Turkish blood on their hands? Is non-Jewish blood less red than Jewish blood?
Israel doesn’t dare indulge in a genuine argument in this regard. The reason is simple. Israel views the blood and lives of non-Jews as insignificant, at least in comparison to Jewish blood and Jewish lives. Just try to have a brief conversation with a rabbi and you will be more than shocked hearing what he will be saying in this regard.
In any case, Hamas must not show the slightest sign of fatigue vis-à-vis Israel because the lives and freedom of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are at stake. Hamas has been successfully managing this Shalit affair for over three years. Israel committed untold massacres and has been imposing a manifestly criminal siege on 1.7 million human beings, in the hope of creating a crack in Hamas’s wall of steadfastness. But neither Israeli pressure, nor western conspiracy, nor Arab collusion and Palestinian Authority treachery, have succeeded in pressurizing Hamas to give in or give up.
In the final analysis, Hamas has a huge moral responsibility toward thousands of Palestinian families whose children are languishing in Israeli concentration camps and dungeons.
Needless to say, these people have spent the prime of their lives in Israeli prisons so that their people will be able to live in dignity and in order to maintain the hope for freedom and liberation from evil Zionism.
Hence, we must not hesitate to proclaim and reassert the Palestinian position in this regard, namely that Shalit must stay behind bars as long as Israel insists on keeping our men, and women and children behind bars.
This position may not be popular in New York and Paris. But why show the slightest concern about what Paris and New York think in the first place. They have always been and continue to be our direct or indirect tormentors. Our responsibility is first and foremost toward these tortured Palestinian prisoners and their suffering families who have kept our national just cause alive.
In a nutshell, our prisoners are not children of a lesser God.
* Khalid Amayreh a journalist based in the Occupied Palestinian town of Dura. He obtained his MA in journalism from the University of Southern Illinois in 1983.
BIG BOYCOTT ACTIONS AT MORRISONS and SAINSBURY
BIG BOYCOTT PHONE IN
BIG BOYCOTT WRITE IN
BIG BOYCOTT BADGE PLEDGE
People of conscience all over the world want nothing to do with the Apartheid State of Israel. We don’t want Israeli goods in our supermarkets.
Week of action: July 9 – 17th 2010.
Demand an end to the sale of Israeli produce in our supermarkets.
The BIG Boycott Phone in: Friday July 9th 2010.
On July 9th – join the BIG boycott phone in: Use your voice – complain; ask questions.
Phone Morrisons; 0845 611 6111 (Lines open 730 a.m. – 6.30 p.m).
Phone Sainsbury 0800 636 262 (lines open 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.)
Ask why and demand answers:
Why is your supermarket sourcing produce from a country that repeatedly violates international law?
Why is your supermarket sourcing produce from companies that operate on land where Palestinians cannot live or work? (the Jordan Valley)
Why are you sourcing produce from companies that operate in illegal settlements and which benefit from an Apartheid system inside Israel?
Why are you sourcing produce from companies which are all benefitting from the illegal theft of Palestinian water and the theft of Palestinian land?
The BIG Boycott Write in: July 9th 2010
Write to Morrisons Head Office or to your local store manager.
To e mail: http://www.morrisons.co.uk/Store-finder/About-customer-services/Contact-Us1/
Or write to: Morrisons head Office: Hilmore House, Gain lane, Bradford, BD3 7DL.
Write to Sainsbury Head Office: J. Sainsbury plc, Holborn Place, 33 Holborn, Londond EC1 N2HT. Head Office Phone no: 0207 6956000.
Challenge them on the fact that they are trading with Israeli companies. Call for an end to business with Israeli companies which are profiting from Israeli occupation and Israel’s apartheid policies. The Israeli export companies known to be supplying British supermarkets, including Carmel Agrexco, Arava and Mehadrin Tnuport Export (MTEX) are all profiting from Israel’s violations of international law.
The BIG Boycott Badge Pledge: July 9th 2010
Make a pledge to wear your Boycott Israeli Goods badge, or any Boycott Israel badge.
Wear your Boycott Israeli Goods badge and keep on wearing it! Israel has been in the news so much that people are noticing badges and now is the time to tell people about the boycott, in whatever way we can. Wear badges; give out badges on the street; call on all your supporters to wear badges.
Palestinian Information Center
June 29, 2010
GAZA, (PIC)– MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, has said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) was still barring the entry of 3500 commodities into the Gaza Strip.
He said in a report published on Sunday that the IOA allowed only 10% of goods that were previously banned from entering Gaza, describing the IOA talk about easing the siege as mere propaganda and means to deceive the world and is contrary to what is happening on the ground.
The lawmaker noted that in the first week the IOA opened two commercial crossings out of four, which were all completely closed, then it opened one crossing for a couple of days while the fourth was only partially opened.
There is no real end to the siege without opening all commercial crossings on permanent basis, allowing influx of all types of goods, opening a safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, and finally allowing a sea route between Gaza and the outside world under European supervision, Khudari elaborated.
He championed continued pressure on the IOA to achieve those goals, asking the UN Secretary General and UNRWA to continue pressuring the IOA until the siege is totally lifted.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Lebanese doctors arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in a show of solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza.
The crossings and borders authority said in a statement that the 8 Lebanese doctors would remain in Gaza till next Thursday and might operate on a number of patients.
Maidhc Ó Cathail
June 29, 2010
It would be hard to think of anyone who has done more to undermine American freedoms than Joseph Lieberman.
Since 9/11, the Independent senator from Connecticut has introduced a raft of legislation in the name of the “global war on terror” which has steadily eroded constitutional rights. If the United States looks increasingly like a police state, Senator Lieberman has to take much of the credit for it.
On October 11, 2001, exactly one month after 9/11, Lieberman introduced S. 1534, a bill to establish a Department of Homeland Security. Since then, he has been the main mover behind such draconian legislation as the Protect America Act of 2007, the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, and the proposed Terrorist Expatriation Act, which would revoke the citizenship of Americans suspected of terrorism. And now the senator from Connecticut wants to kill the Internet.
According to the bill he recently proposed in the Senate, the entire global Internet is to be claimed as a “national asset” of the United States. If Congress passes the bill, the US President would be given the power to “kill” the Internet in the event of a “national cyber-emergency.” Supporters of the legislation say this is necessary to prevent a “cyber 9/11” – yet another myth from the fearmongers who brought us tales of “Iraqi WMD” and “Iranian nukes.”
Lieberman’s concerns about the Internet are not new. The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which Lieberman chairs, released a report in 2008 titled “Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat.” The report claimed that groups like Al Qaeda use the Internet to indoctrinate and recruit members, and to communicate with each other.
Immediately after the report was published, Lieberman asked Google, the parent company of You Tube, to “immediately remove content produced by Islamist terrorist organisations.” That might sound like a reasonable request. However, as far as Lieberman is concerned, Hamas, Hezbollah and even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are terrorist organisations.
It’s hardly surprising that Lieberman’s views on what constitute terrorism parallel those of Tel Aviv. As Mark Vogel, chairman of the largest pro-Israel Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States, once said: “Joe Lieberman, without exception, no conditions … is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress. There is nobody who does more on behalf of Israel than Joe Lieberman.”
Lieberman has been well rewarded for his patriotism – to another country. In the past six years, he has been the Senate’s top recipient of political contributions from pro-Israel PACs with a staggering $1,226,956.
But what is it that bothers Lieberman so much about the Internet? Could it be that it allows ordinary Americans access to facts, which reveal exactly what kind of “friend” Israel has been to its overgenerous benefactor? Facts, which they have been denied by the pro-Israel mainstream media.
How much faith would American voters have in the likes of Lieberman, who claims that the Jewish state is their greatest ally, if they knew that Israeli agents planted firebombs in American installations in Egypt in 1954 in an attempt to undermine relations between Nasser and the United States; that Israel murdered 34 American servicemen in a deliberate attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967; that Israeli espionage, most notably Jonathan Pollard’s spying, has done tremendous damage to American interests; that five Mossad agents were filming and celebrating as the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001; that Tel Aviv and its accomplices in Washington were the source of the false pre-war intelligence on Iraq; and about countless other examples of treachery?
In his latest attempt to censor the Internet, does Lieberman really want to protect the American people from imaginary cyber-terrorists? Or is he just trying to protect his treasonous cronies from the American people?
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published writer based in Japan
Campaign to clear supermarket shelves of West Bank settlement wares forces Israeli factories to cut production
Israeli factories based in settlements on the West Bank have been forced to cut back production as a growing Palestinian boycott movement begins to take effect.
The boycott, endorsed by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was given further momentum this week when a campaign to clear supermarket shelves of produce originating in settlements was rolled out in Ramallah.
“The objective is to ensure the Palestinian market is free of Israeli settlement produce by the end of this year,” the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said at the launch of the Store to Store campaign at the Alameen supermarket.
A team of volunteers will inspect 66,000 stores across the West Bank in the coming weeks, awarding certificates and window stickers to those free of settlement produce.
After a period of grace, shopkeepers retaining such produce in their stores could be liable to a fine of more than £9,000 or up to five years in prison under a law already passed but not yet enforced by the Palestinian legislative council.
“This is the daily expression of rejection of the occupation,” Fayyad said. “It will help ensure that the Palestinian economy is self-sufficient. There will not be a store in Palestine which cannot carry our stickers.”
The pro-boycott campaigners are careful to draw a distinction between produce from West Bank settlements, which are illegal under international law, and produce originating from within Israel. The latter will continue to be sold in Palestinian shops.
The campaign has been attacked by Israeli politicians, businesses and commentators. “The Palestinians are opposing economic peace and are taking steps that in the end hurt themselves,” the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said last month.
The West Bank market is worth around $200m (£133m) a year to Israeli businesses. But some settlement factories sell about 30% of their output to the Palestinian market, and the boycott is already having an impact on them.
Seventeen factories in Mishor Adumim, a large industrial estate between East Jerusalem and Jericho, have reportedly closed since the boycott campaign began. Some settlement factories are reported to be considering moving back into Israel.
Others in the Barkan industrial zone, near the settlement of Ariel, have reduced production, according to David Ha’ivri of the Shomron regional council, a pro-settler organisation in the northern West Bank. “Many of the factories are seeking alternative markets,” he said.
A factory producing aluminium window frames, which used to sell 30% of its output to the Palestinian market, had cut the hours of its 160 employees rather than lay people off, he said.
More than half the 5,000-6,000 employees in the Barkan zone are Palestinian, employed under Israeli labour legislation and entitled to the Israeli minimum wage of around $1,000 a month – considerably more than the average wage in the West Bank economy.
“[The boycott] is an unwise act by the Palestinian Authority,” said Ha’ivri. “The damage caused will be felt by both sides. They’re cutting off the branch they’re sitting on.”
The Palestinian Authority has established a $50m fund to provide alternative employment and grants in an effort to both discourage Palestinians from working in the settlements and foster the West Bank economy.
According to the Manufacturers Association of Israel, some 22,000 Palestinians are employed by settlement businesses – in construction, agriculture, manufacturing and service industries.
It is holding an extraordinary meeting this week to ascertain the impact of the boycott and consider what action to take.
Dan Catarivas of the association said firms were more concerned about the withdrawal of Palestinian labour than the boycott of goods, although the impact was uneven.
“These Israeli firms will have to find new workers – either Israelis or foreigners. But at the end of the day the Israeli companies will find other options, and the Palestinian workers will be left without jobs.”
He said the Israeli government had offered incentives to firms to establish factories in the West Bank, and it was possible that some of them may now seek compensation for their losses.
The Palestinian Authority said it was pleased with the level of support for the boycott, put in a recent survey at around 85%. Fayyad said it was “empowering the people” to resist the Israeli occupation without resorting to violence. “People feel national pride that they can participate in this campaign,” a spokesman said.
The boycott is part of a wider attempt to foster non-violent resistance against Israel’s occupation, including largely peaceful demonstrations against the separation barrier.
Internationally, the boycott is gaining momentum. European Union guidelines urge supermarkets to clearly mark the origin of produce on labels to allow consumers to distinguish between Palestinian, Israeli and settlement produce.
The Alameen supermarket owner, Erekat Ribhi Shukar, insisted Palestinian produce was competitive in terms of quality and price with settlement goods. “We should support Palestinian producers to help our economy,” he said beneath a sign declaring “My conscience is clear – my store is clean of settlement produce”.
At the rear of the store, two young women shoppers examining a chiller cabinet containing Palestinian and Israeli dairy products but no settlement goods said they backed the campaign. “We want products that benefit our economy, not harm it,” said one.