For Israel, a Reckoning
by John Pilger
January 15, 2010
The farce of the climate change summit
in Copenhagen affirmed a world war waged by the rich against most
of humanity. It also illuminated a resistance growing perhaps
as never before: an internationalism linking justice for the planet
earth with universal human rights, and criminal justice for those
who invade and dispossess with impunity. And the best news comes
Palestinian resistance to the theft of
their country reached a critical moment in 2001 when Israel was
identified as an apartheid state at a United Nations conference
on racism in Durban, South Africa. To Nelson Mandela, justice
for the Palestinians is "the greatest moral issue of our
time." The Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Disinvestment
and Sanctions (BDS), was issued on 9 July 2005, effectively reconvening
the great non-violent movement that swept the world and brought
the scaffolding of African apartheid crashing down. "Through
decades of occupation and dispossession," wrote Mustafa Barghouti,
a wise voice of Palestinian politics, "90 percent of the
Palestinian struggle has been non-violent A new generation of
Palestinian leaders [now speaks] to the world precisely as Martin
Luther King did. The same world that rejects all use of Palestinian
violence, even clear self-defense, surely ought not begrudge us
the non-violence employed by men such as King and Gandhi."
In the United States and Europe, trade
unions, academic associations and mainstream churches have brought
back the strategies and tactics that were used against apartheid
South Africa. In a resolution adopted by 431 votes to 62, the
US Presbyterian Church voted for "a process of phased selective
disinvestment in multinational corporations doing business with
Israel." This followed the opinion of the International Court
of Justice that Israel's wall and its "settler" colonies
were illegal. A similar declaration by the court in 1971, denouncing
South Africa's occupation of Namibia, ignited the international
Like the South Africa campaign, the issue
of law is central. No state is allowed to flout international
law as wilfully as Israel. In 1990, a UN Security Council resolution
demanding that Saddam Hussein get out of Kuwait was the same,
almost word for word, as that demanding Israel get out of the
West Bank. The United States and its allies attacked and drove
out Iraq while Israel has been repeatedly rewarded. On 11 December,
President Obama announced $2.75 billion "aid" for Israel,
a down payment on the $30 billion American taxpayers will gift
from their stricken economy during this decade.
The hypocrisy is now well-understood in
the US, where consumer boycott campaigns are becoming commonplace.
A "stolen beauty" campaign pursues Ahava beauty products
which are made in illegal West Bank "settlements," forcing
the company to drop its ballyhooed celebrity "ambassador,"
Kristin Davis, a star of Sex and the City . In Britain, Sainsbury's
and Tesco are under pressure to identify "settlement"
products, whose sale contravenes the human rights clause in the
EU trade agreement with Israel.
In Australia, a consortium including the
French company Veolia has lost its bid for a billion-dollar desalination
plant following a campaign highlighting Veolia's plan to build
a light rail connecting Jerusalem to the "settlements."
In Norway, the government has withdrawn its support for the Israeli
hi-tech company Elbit, which helped build the wall across Palestine.
This is the first official boycott by a western country. "We
do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations
of international humanitarian law," said the Norwegian finance
In 2005, the Association of University
Teachers in Britain (AUT) voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions
complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. The AUT campaign
was forced to retreat when the Israel lobby unleashed a blizzard
of character assassination and charges of anti-Semitism. The Palestinian
writer and activist Omar Barghouti called this "intellectual
terror": a perversion of morality and logic that says to
be against racism towards Palestinians makes one anti-Semitic.
However, the Israeli assault on Gaza on 27 December, 2008 changed
almost everything. The first US Campaign for an Academic and Cultural
Boycott of Israel was formed, with Desmond Tutu on its board.
At its 2009 conference, Britain's Trade Union Council voted for
a consumer boycott. The "Israel taboo" is no more.
Complementing this is the rapid development
of international criminal law since the Pinochet case in 1999
when the former Chilean dictator was placed under house arrest
in Britain. Israeli warmongers now face similar prosecution in
countries which have "universal jurisdiction" laws.
In Britain, the Geneva Conventions Act of 1957 is fortified by
the UN report on Gaza by Judge Richard Goldstone, which in December
obliged a London magistrate to issue a warrant for the arrest
of Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister wanted for
crimes against humanity. In September, only contrived diplomatic
immunity rescued Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister during
the assault on Gaza, from arrest by Scotland Yard.
Just over a year ago, 1400 defenseless
people in Gaza were murdered by the Israelis. On 29 December,
Mohamed Jassier became the 367th Gazan to die because people needing
life-saving medical treatment are not allowed out. Keep that in
mind when you next watch the BBC "balance" such suffering
with the weasel protestations of the oppressors.
There is a clear momentum now. To mark
the first anniversary of the Gaza atrocity, a great humanitarian
procession from 42 countries - Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists,
old and young, trade unionists, writers, artists, musicians and
those leading convoys of food and medicine - converged on Egypt,
and even though the American bribed dictatorship in Cairo prevented
most from proceeding to Gaza, the people in that open prison knew
they were not alone, and children climbed on walls and raised
the Palestinian flag. And this is just a beginning.