Israel boycott is part of global anti-racist struggle

13 Mar

“The BDS [Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions] movement does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia.” (Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY)

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 9 March 2017

Palestinians are reaffirming that the movement to boycott Israel is part of the global struggle against racism and all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“The global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for freedom, justice and equality of the Palestinian people is an inclusive, nonviolent human rights movement that rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination,” the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said on Tuesday.

“We reject Zionism, as it constitutes the racist and discriminatory ideological pillar of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid that has deprived the Palestinian people of its fundamental human rights since 1948,” the BNC, the civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement, states.

“Since its inception in 2005, the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement has been anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is an inclusive human rights movement that categorically rejects all forms of racism and discrimination,” Rafeef Ziadah, (pictured left) a member of the BNC secretariat, told The Electronic Intifada. “This key anti-racism statement reiterates this long-held principle at a time when the racist and xenophobic far-right is rising in Washington, DC, Tel Aviv and many places in between.”

  “Proactive solidarity”

“On the centenary of the patently racist and colonial Balfour Declaration – which offered Palestine to Jewish-European settlers, disregarding its indigenous Arab population – it is crucial to highlight the timeless values of inclusion and opposition to all forms of racism,” Ziadah added.

The BNC’s statement places the Palestinian cause in the broader context of anti-colonial struggle: “We strongly condemn apartheid, genocide, slavery, colonial exploitation and ethnic cleansing, which are crimes against humanity that are founded on racism and racial supremacy, and we call for the right of their victims, including descendants, to full reparation.”

The BNC affirms that “the BDS movement does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia.”

“The principles of the BDS movement call for proactive solidarity with oppressed communities worldwide and with all the victims of racist acts and rhetoric, as ours is a common cause,” the BNC adds.

There are growing expressions of this commonality. In 2015, more than 1,000 Black artists, intellectuals and organizations recognized “the racism that characterizes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians” and called for “unified action against anti-Blackness, white supremacy and Zionism.”

Israel lobby groups have strongly condemned Black support for Palestinian rights and have sought to disrupt such solidarity.

While anti-racism has long been affirmed by Palestinian activists, Israel and its surrogates have made a concerted effort to smear the Palestine solidarity movement as motivated by prejudice.

This logic treats Israeli supremacy and its denial of Palestinian rights on ethno-religious grounds as if they form part of a legitimate Israeli-Jewish identity that is bound to be cherished and respected, instead of resisted and replaced with a system that affords equal rights and protections to all.

Crackdown on free speech

A key tactic has been to try to enshrine in legislation and institutional policies around the world a discredited definition of anti-Semitism that treats criticism of Israel and its state ideology Zionism as forms of anti-Jewish bigotry.

In recent months, US lawmakers have sought to adopt this definition as part of the so-called Anti-Semitism Awareness bill.

Even the lead author of the controversial definition, Kenneth Stern, is warning lawmakers that its adoption would be an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

Secular and religiously observant Jewish communities have also long rejected Israel’s propaganda conflating Jewish belief and identity on the one hand, with Zionism and support for Israel, on the other.

Israel and its lobby groups nonetheless claim that by opposing Israeli abuses the BDS movement is anti-Semitic. Israel has used this smear to push for draconian restrictions on free speech.

But a broad pushback by supporters of Palestinian rights is scoring successes.

Last year, the European Union joined several of its member governments in recognizing the right of its citizens to boycott Israel.

“The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU member states’ territory, including with regard to BDS,” Federica Mogherini, the 28-member bloc’s foreign policy chief told the European Parliament in September.

“As Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid sheds the farcical pretense of ‘democracy’ and adopts more and more racist and exclusionary laws, the BDS movement is further highlighting its inclusiveness and rejection of all forms of racism,” the BNC’s Ziadah said. “Our struggle for freedom, justice and equality is organically connected to global struggles for racial, social, economic, gender, climate and other forms of justice.”

Rafeef Ziadah, renowned performance poet and BDS activist, will present an evening of her moving poems in Christchurch on Friday 7 April, Wellington on Sat 8 April and in Auckland on Sunday 9 April. See earlier posts  and Facebook for details.

Samah Sabawi: ‘When Rafeef Ziadah came to Melbourne…’

10 Mar

Samah Sabawi, Palestinian-Australian renowned playwright, author and commentator recently spoke with Kia Ora Gaza about the up-coming NZ tour by Palestinian performance poet Rafeef Ziadah:

When Rafeef Ziadah came to Melbourne, I hesitated a little about making time to attend her concert, mainly because I am a huge fan and as such I have memorized all her poetry and thought there would be nothing new for me to see or experience in her live performance that I didn’t already see and experience watching her clips online.

Boy was I wrong!

Seeing Rafeef’ live is truly profound and moving beyond anyone’s imagination.

Her powerful stage presence is fueled by the resilience and beauty of the stories she tells.

Each word she utters is conjured from a deep place in her heart, unfiltered, genuine and captivating.

A truly magnificent experience that is not to be missed.

If she is ever performing in your city, make the time to go.

Rafeef Ziadah will present her moving poems with musician Phil Monsour at the above Auckland event 6pm on Sunday 9 April (seats $30 waged, $20 unwaged), and also at the Knox Church hall, 28 Bealey Ave, Christchurch Central 7pm on Friday 7 April (free entry – koha welcome).

Rafeef Ziadah presents ‘Shades of Anger’

9 Mar


‘SHADES OF ANGER’ from Rafeef’s second album We Teach Life, a collection of spoken word with original music compositions, which she brings to the stage in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, with guitarist Phil Monsour.

You can see Rafeef and Phil in concert at the Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar School, 6pm on Sunday 9 April (Seats $30. Unwaged: $20), or the Christchurch event 7pm on Friday 7 April at the Knox Church, 28 Bealey Ave, Chch Central (Free entry – koha welcome). You can buy Rafeef’s album here –



One-state in Palestine: equality, democracy & justice

8 Mar

(Photo by Justin McIntosh, via Wikicommons)

By Omar Barghouti, Red Pepper, 6 March, 2017

Omar Barghouti asks whether Donald Trump, in his recent break with America’s long-standing support for the two-state solution, has unwittingly revived the debate about the plausibility, indeed the necessity, of a single, democratic state in historic Palestine?
  Omar Barghouti Palestinian human rights defender and independent researcher

At a recent press conference with Netanyahu, Trump casually evoked the one-state formulation as a serious option for ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His guest was hardly able to contain his elation.

After all, given Trump’s avowed bias towards Israel’s hard-right regime, the most reasonable interpretation of his position is that the US will explicitly approve the Israeli agenda of consolidating a single state, a Greater Israel that buries the question of Palestine for good.

Long before Trump came on the scene, Israeli governments have been consistently implementing a ‘strategy of territorial seizure and apartheid‘, creating the current reality whereby Israel controls the entire territory of historic Palestine while denying the indigenous Palestinian population their equal rights by policy and law.

Now, formally pulling the plug on the defunct two-state solution altogether, the thin and worn-out mask of democracy is torn.

While denying even the theoretical rights of the Palestinian people, and in flagrant defiance of international law, Israel is colonizing at full speed what is left of the lands owned by Palestinians, accelerating its gradual ethnic cleansing of entire communities, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev) desert.

In due course, this will not only reveal the nature of Israel’s regime against the Palestinians as one that combines occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid; it may inadvertently trigger the mother of all unintended consequences.

Emancipated of the illusions of a two-state deal, the absolute majority of Palestinians will seek the most just, ethical and sustainable solution to the question of Palestine, and this cannot but entail decolonization.

Decolonization should not be understood as a blunt and absolute reversal of colonization, putting us back under pre-colonial conditions and undoing whatever rights have been acquired to date.

It should instead be regarded as a negation of the aspects of settler-colonialism that deny the rights of the colonized population.

A secular and democratic single state in historic Palestine (in its British Mandate borders) is the most just and morally coherent solution to this century-old conflict.

It offers hope of reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable – the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinian people, particularly the right to self-determination, and the acquired rights of the indigenized former colonial settlers to live in peace and security.

Inspired in part by the South African Freedom Charter and the Belfast Agreement, the far more modest One State Declaration, authored by a group of Palestinian, Israeli and international academics and activists, affirms that “the historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status”.

The system of government that it advocates is founded on “the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens”.

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Rafeef Ziadah is coming to New Zealand

7 Mar


A unique opportunity to experience this stunning wordsmith and performance poet. Not to be missed.

Rafeef and Phil Monsour will also perform in Christchurch at 7pm on Friday 7 April, at the Knox Church Hall, 28 Bealey Ave, Christchurch Central.

Marama Davidson on the Women’s Boat to Gaza

6 Mar

Green MP Marama Davidson speaks about her experience on the Women’s Boat to Gaza – tonight in Christchurch



Ramzy Baroud: Human dignity cannot be negotiated

28 Feb

c5tcwaexmayczmc Palestinian-US writer, Ramzy Baroud

There are those who (in the name of ‘peace’, ‘interfaith dialogue’, ‘compassionate listening’ and whatever other seemingly innocent, but truly sinister designations) constantly try to put a softer spin on the Israeli military occupation, siege, ethnic cleansing and murder of Palestinians.

In every colonial experience in the past, there has always been the colonized and the colonizer, the oppressed the oppressor, the victim and the murderer, the violated and the violator. Except, when it comes to Israeli injustice against the Palestinians: The truth is often inverted, to either appear as if Palestinians are persecuting Israeli Jews, or, at best, the ‘conflict’ is presented as an equal one between two parties with legitimate national aspirations contesting the same peace of land.

It is not. It has never been, and no amount of historical spin will change the facts. The invader has no right to construct a national narrative over someone else’s land. Palestine should not be made the exception.

Only when Palestinian rights are respected, there can ever be meaningful dialogue.

There are things that cannot be negotiated. One is human dignity.

Till then, there is nothing to talk about ..


Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-US journalist, author and founder of the and he addressed the NZ Conference on Palestine via video link last year. Here is a recent interview conducted by Dennis Bernstein: Palestinians See More of the Same: Interview with Ramzy Baroud

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