“Best prospect now for realizing Palestinian self-determination is grassroots mobilization”- UN rights expert
GENEVA (8 May 2014) – The outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, today urged more businesses and civil society “to join the growing global solidarity movement to resist the prolonged Israeli occupation and creeping annexation of Palestine.”
His appeal comes in the wake of the collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by the United States over the past nine months.
“Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve a just resolution to this conflict with human rights at its core, but the latest round of talks has again created false hopes and fuelled feelings of frustration,” the expert said. (more…)
In a desperate attempt to stem the tsunami of international public support for boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel for its illegal activities in Palestine, an Israeli Rent-a-Crowd from a local evangelical church turned up to try to counter a picket by Kiwi anti-Zionist protestors of a performance by Israeli government-funded dance company Batsheva at the St James Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday night.
The NZ performance was under the auspices of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, and partially sponsored by the Israeli Embassy in Wellington.
Despite numerous kiwi appeals to organisers to cancel the troupe’s invitation, and to the government to refuse them visas, both the festival organisers and the NZ government turned a deaf ear.
Not so the audience, who were left in no doubt as to the implications of their attendance at the event.
Two groups of protestors, one a combined network of Palestinian solidarity organisations in New Zealand and the other a group of pro-Zionists, were divided by security personnel to stand each side of the entrance way.
Waving placards and banners, the anti-Zionist protestors pointed out that The Batsheva Dance Company is part of the Israeli propaganda effort to deflect criticism of its policies towards Palestinians and other Arab countries. As the troupe is largely funded by the Israeli Ministry of Culture & Sport, the City of Tel Aviv and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who praise the troupe as “ambassadors of Israeli culture,” the NZ protestors said that supporting the performance is tantamount to supporting the oppressive – and illegal – practices of the Zionist regime.
To cheers from the crowd, some 15 people decided to forgo their tickets, saying they had no idea it was an Israeli-government sponsored event, and would never have bought them if they had been aware.
Shouts of “Shame” accompanied those who continued through the doors.
Meanwhile, in what is the clearest evidence yet that Israel’s propaganda campaign is an abject failure, the Rent-a-Crowd in the front line of the pro-Zionist group demonstrated not only their ignorance of the issues at stake, but also their general ignorance.
Waving placards with personal jibes at one of the anti-Zionist protestors, yelling personal abuse at the picketers, and merely screaming “lies” without providing any supporting evidence, this pro-Israel frontline showed none of the usual slick hasbara, but instead publicly displayed an appalling lack of personal respect and diplomacy, as well as a paucity of any arguments in Israel’s defence – quite possibly because there are none. Israel must surely be desperate to resort to such ‘supporters.’
As the anti-Zionist protesters said loud and clear, in a message which obviously rang true for many of the audience, “For the same reasons New Zealanders called for the end to rugby links with apartheid South Africa, we are calling for the cutting of ties with apartheid Israel.”
They also had a message for those who make the spurious claim that dance has no place in politics. Quoting University of Auckland Dance Studies Associate Professor Nicholas Rowe:
“If Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company would have the courage to refuse to offer their bodies up to the Israeli Defense Forces for annual military service, if they would have the courage to publicly condemn the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the ongoing theft of land and property by the government that pays them to tour in the name of Israel, if they would have the courage to publicly state that they do not judge people by their religion or ethnicity and so would welcome the return of non-Jewish refugees back to their homes inside what is now Israel, then they would be touring to New Zealand as dance artists, and not just as political puppets.”
Israel, by its own efforts, has booked its ticket in history alongside the South African apartheid regime. A Rent-a-Crowd of slogan-shouters hurling personal abuse is not going to save it from admission to a similar fateful performance.
A short video of the picket is here
In a Press Release published on 30 January 2014, Oxfam accepted Scarlett Johansson’s resignation over their mutual conflict of ethics, sorry – interests regarding her promotion of SodaStream. Hey, Oxfam – why didn’t YOU take the initiative?
The text is as follows:
Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s decision to step down after eight years as a Global Ambassador and we are grateful for her many contributions.
While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador.
Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.
Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. Ms. Johansson has worked with Oxfam since 2005 and in 2007 became a Global Ambassador, helping to highlight the impact of natural disasters and raise funds to save lives and fight poverty.