We are posting two articles about the attempts to criminalise Palestinian solidarity. The first, by Moshe Machover, covers the the Israeli government’s appointment of the overtly anti-Arab racist, Tzipi Hotovely, as ambassador to the UK. The second, from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee, explains the significance of the victory for BDS as a result of the ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights. It is easy to see why the Tories want to break with the ECHR!
1. WEAPON OF FIRST RESORT
A morally malodorous product of Israel’s political putrefaction is about to be catapulted to these shores in the form of that country’s next ambassador to the Court of St James, Ms Tzipi Hotovely. This has caused a split in Britain’s Zionist circles, as many members panic at the thought of how much more difficult it will make their obligatory task of Israel advocacy. I will come to that later; but first let me explain the link between Israel’s political corruption and Tzipi Hotovely’s prospective appointment. Please bear with me, as the tale is somewhat tangled.
A new party, patriotically named Blue and White – the colours of the Israeli flag – was formed in February 2019 by three retired generals and a more experienced civilian politician, with the sole declared purpose of unseating Binyamin Netanyahu, who had been investigated, and more recently indicted, on several charges of bribery and corruption. The criminal suspect called, in close succession, three general elections in the hope of being able to form a coalition government that would keep him out of jail by some legislative trick. B&W fought these three elections on a platform that differed little from that of Netanyahu’s Likud – except for one plank: keep Netanyahu out of office and let him face the criminal court. All three elections – April and September 2019, and March 2020 – produced inconclusive results. Netanyahu and his natural allies did not secure a majority of Knesset seats; but neither did B&W with its Zionist potential allies. (The mainly Arab Joint List, with its 15 seats, is not considered by Israel’s racist politicians as a possible coalition partner or even external supporter of a minority government.)
But then, in late March, the great anti-corruption hero, general Benny Gantz, leader of B&W, capitulated to Netanyahu and joined the latter’s coalition, along with some B&W members and the pitiful remnants of the Israeli Labor Party. His excuse was that the Covid-19 crisis demanded an emergency government, even if it is to be led by a criminal suspect. In the event, the government Netanyahu formed did not manage the Covid-19 crisis all that brilliantly, but it saved Netanyahu’s skin – for the time being. As part of the sordid deal, Gantz and his co-defectors had to be paid off by prestigious cabinet positions. This led to the formation of the most inflated cabinet in Israel’s history. But even its 36 ministerial posts – some of them invented ad hoc – did not suffice to reward Netanyahu’s own loyal political allies. In lieu of cabinet chairs they had to be rewarded by other cushy jobs.
One of these allies is Ms Hotovely, who held ministerial jobs in Netanyahu’s previous governments and had great expectations for a prestigious position this time round. One of the most prestigious cushy jobs in Netanyahu’s gift was the London embassy. So this is how Israel’s political corruption led to the appointment of a notorious political nasty as ambassador to this country.
Her repulsive political profile is indeed a matter of record. She combines religious orthodoxy with nationalist-colonialist fanaticism. Publicly displayed vulgar anti-Arab racism is second nature to her. She has been described by the Nazareth-based anti-establishment British journalist, Jonathan Cook, as “a Jewish supremacist and Islamophobe, [who] supports Israel’s annexation of the entire West Bank and the takeover of Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem”. Just when Israel’s image is losing its lustre – not only in wider public opinion, but even among growing sections of British Jews – Israel’s dedicated advocates need her here like they need a thorn in their arse. With her overt fanaticism and open rejection of the two-state deception – she is a frank and extreme annexationist – she is no substitute for the outgoing ambassador, Mark Regev, whose defence of Israel’s indefensible colonisation has been spin-doctored with PR professionalism. As ambassador, Hotovely will provide a more realistic representation of Israel’s ugly nature.
The alarm among the Zionist section of Britain’s Jewish communities is palpable, and has been widely reported in the press. Of course, the Zionist hard-line establishment put on a brave face. Thus, the Jerusalem Post reported on June 16:
Zionist Federation of the UK and Ireland chairman Paul Charney said that “Hotovely is a talented diplomat and, should she take up the offer, we will wholeheartedly support her in her role as representative in order to help her succeed.”
But this may well be whistling in the wind. Some groups, such as the relatively ‘soft’ Zionist Na’amod (Hebrew for ‘We shall stand’) are worried because they cannot help getting critical of Israeli realities. On June 20, The Guardian reported that a spokesperson for Na’amod had said: “There is clearly growing unrest in our community about Israel’s blatant disregard for human rights, and people increasingly realise that it is time to take a stand.”
More hard-line pro-Israel apologists are upset, because with Hotovely here it will be harder to go on lying to the British public.
All this does not mean that, if Hotovely’s accreditation goes through (which at the time of writing is not entirely certain), the public campaign against opponents of the Zionist project of colonisation will recede, and besmirching us as ‘anti-Semites’ will cease. On the contrary, as selling Israel to public opinion gets harder, as doubts among supporters of Zionism increase, and as the split in Jewish communities grows wider – so will the forces of Israel’s advocates and Britain’s imperialist establishment redouble their efforts. Mendacity is their weapon of first resort.
This was first posted at:-
2. EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEALS A MAJOR BLOW TO ISRAEL’S WAR ON PALESTINE SOLIDARITY
Photo by Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
- ECHR rules unanimously that French highest court’s criminal conviction of Israel boycott advocates violates the European Convention on Human Rights’ freedom of expression article.
- Decision has major implications for anti-BDS state repression in Europe including Germany, where advocates for Palestinian rights face fierce restrictions on their civil rights.
Ramallah, occupied Palestinian territory — The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled unanimously today that the French highest court’s 2015 criminal conviction of activists with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement advocating nonviolent boycotts of Israeli goods violated article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Reacting to the breaking news, Rita Ahmad from the Palestinian-led BDS movement said:
This momentous court ruling is a decisive victory for freedom of expression, for human rights defenders, and for the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. It confirms a 2016 European Union position defending the right to call for BDS against Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law.
This is a major legal blow to Israel’s apartheid regime and its anti-BDS lawfare. At Israel’s behest, European governments, especially in France and Germany, have fostered an ominous environment of bullying and repression to silence Palestine solidarity activists.
The ECHR decision comes at a time of widespread condemnations of Israel’s plans to formally annex large swathes of the occupied Palestinian territory. In response to these plans and to Israel’s ongoing “apartheid regime” and “de facto annexation,” Palestinian civil society has reminded states of their obligations to adopt “lawful countermeasures,” including a ban on “arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel” and on trade with Israel’s illegal settlements.
In 2009 and 2010, eleven activists in France had participated in peaceful protests inside supermarkets calling for a boycott of Israeli goods in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. They were convicted by French courts of “incitement to discrimination.”
Rita Ahmad said:
At a time when European citizens, inspired by the Black Lives Matter uprising in the US, are challenging the ugly legacy of European colonialism, France, Germany and other EU countries must end their racist repression of human rights defenders campaigning for Palestinian human rights and for an end to Israeli apartheid.
Europe is deeply complicit in Israel’s occupation, siege of Gaza and slow ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and elsewhere. For as long as this complicity continues, BDS campaigns will too.
We salute Palestine solidarity activists in France who, despite the prevalent anti-Palestinian repression, have effectively campaigned against Israeli apartheid and against corporations that are complicit in its war crimes against Palestinians, including AXA, Veolia and Orange.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee is the largest coalition in Palestinian society and the leader of the global, nonviolent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. The BDS movement rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination.
Thus was first posed at:-