The Jewish majority is history — Medium

1h8hf9hyndsyurxkfh0pduq

“The Israeli government’s acknowledgement that Jews are a minority in this land means one thing only: Apartheid is here.

Excerpt from: Akiva Eldar • Haaretz • Oct 16, 2012 •

Amid a dry economic report published yesterday in TheMarker lies an official announcement/acknowledgment of unparalleled importance: The government of Israel confirms that between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River there is no longer a Jewish majority. In other words, in the territory under Israel’s jurisdiction a situation of apartheid exists. A Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority.

Hila Raz’s article reports that the Tax Authority is trying to pass an amendment to the law for the purpose of revising the ceiling for eligibility for tax benefits, whose aim, in turn, is to encourage exports. According to the Export Promotion Law approved in 2005, a factory is entitled to a tax break if at least 25 percent of its income stemmed from sales to a market with at least 12 million residents. A Ministry of Finance memorandum on the amendment to the law notes that in 2011 the population of Israel and the Palestinian Authority exceeded the 12 million mark, which enables manufacturers who market to these consumers to enjoy a tax break. The Tax Authority’s diligent officials would like to raise the threshold for qualifying for the benefit by two million residents, so that they will not have to grant the benefit to exporters who sell their wares in Israel and the territories.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (which is subordinate to the Prime Minister’s Office ), of the 12 million residents living under Israeli rule, the number of Jews is just under 5.9 million (as of April 25 ). Twelve million minus 5.9 million Jews equals 6.1 million non-Jews. In other words, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, there is a pretty Jewish state as far as its laws and customs, but the reality is not so democratic. Foreign sources report that Jews had already become a minority in the area of the greater Land of Israel several years ago. From now on, it is an official statistic.

There will certainly be those who argue that the 12 million includes the resident of the Gaza Strip, which Israel evacuated, and that I should have deducted 1.5 million people from the number of non-Jewish residents. But the 12 million, which does happen to include the residents of the Gaza Strip, is an official figure appearing on Ministry of Finance stationery. If this population “is not considered” for purposes of the demographic balance, the Finance Ministry should be so kind as to deduct it from the limit for receiving the tax breaks and from the balance of its income.

U.S. intel cries ‘apartheid’

The term “apartheid” features prominently in an article in the online magazine Foreign Policy Journal on a new “confidential report” prepared by 16 American intelligence agencies. Franklin Lamb reported from Beirut to the Foreign Policy Journal on the “confidential report, which he claims compares Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The document, he says, warns that the Arab Spring and the Muslim awakening will encourage 1.2 billion Muslims to fight against what they refer to as “the immoral European occupation of Palestine.” Lamb argues that the report accuses Israel of intervening in internal American affairs via 60 organizations and some 7,500 administration officials. The report, Lamb says, advises the United States to leave Israel alone as its existence sabotages the American interest in moving closer to the Arab world and the Iranian people.

Netanyahu may not need to worry about reports that “the intelligence report will be presented to President Obama.” However, ahead of the U.S. elections, the prime minister certainly must raise his level of concern over all matters of U.S.-Israel relations. Leaving aside the exaggerations scattered throughout the article on “the report,” the findings attributed to it reflect the prevailing White House attitude toward Netanyahu. The official acknowledgment that Jews have become a minority in the land of Israel could only reinforce the claims against Israeli rule over the Palestinians and the international support, including that of the Americans, for establishing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. It is unnecessary to dwell on what the prime minister may expect if Obama remains in the White House for four more years. But even if Mitt Romney spends the next four years there, Obama will continue to hold full presidential authority until January 20, 2013.

Reminder: President Reagan’s decision to open a dialogue with the PLO (following the organization’s declaration of independence on the basis of UN Resolution 242, which includes recognition of Israel ) was made during a period of transition, after the 1988 U.S. election. It was Reagan’s revenge on Yitzhak Shamir for impeding the peace process and the London Agreement for an international peace conference. In the present case, the transition overlaps with an Israeli election campaign. What damage would an outgoing President Obama incur if the day after the November 6 U.S. elections, he instructs the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to support Palestine’s bid to join the organization? On the other hand, a campaigning Netanyahu will not have a problem turning that move into additional proof that the whole world is against us and therefore the country really needs a strong leader.
…”

Originally published haaretz.com

via The Jewish majority is history — Medium.

Advertisements

Secular Zionists: The Settlements Are Your Fault, Too – Opinion – Haaretz – Israeli News Source Haaretz.com

Secular Zionists: The Settlements Are Your Fault, Too

” It might be comforting for secular Zionists to pin all the blame on religious, messianic theocrats for the failure to divide the land into two states, a view recently voiced by Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken. But that’s evading responsibility, both for the past and the present.

2171777721

The West Bank settlement of Itamar.Daniel Bar-On
Who said this? “Zionism, in practical terms, is Jewish settlement in the entire Land of Israel.”
No, not Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett. Those are the words of Yisrael Galili, one of the founders of the Labor Party, at a party debate in 1973 on “policy in the territories.” (The word “occupied” wasn’t used). Galili was the cabinet member in charge of settlement, and one of Prime Minister Golda Meir’s closest advisers. He was actually quoting a speech he’d made in April 1948 as head of the Haganah’s national command. Back then, he was a leading figure in the radical socialist Ahdut Ha’avodah movement, which had opposed partition of Palestine.
The words make me uncomfortable. That’s not my Zionism. As a historian, though, I feel obligated to call attention to them in response to one sentence in Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken’s article last week (“Only International Pressure Will End Israeli Apartheid”). Explaining what brought us to the current reality of settlement and occupation, Schocken writes, “Zionism, which was always prepared to divide the land of Israel with its Arab inhabitants, was replaced by the godly promise of the Land of Israel for the Jewish people.”
I actually agree with Schocken on the need for international pressure to change Israel’s policies. But that one sentence glaringly doesn’t fit the argument. It does, however, reflect a very common view in Israeli society: that we’re neck-deep in the quicksand of settlement because messianic theocrats wrested control from secular Zionists, and that the political argument over the occupation is congruent with the religious-secular divide. This is bad history, and so mistaken as a portrayal of politics today that we have to ask what keeps the thesis attractive.
Zionism was “always prepared to divide the land”? All Zionists?
Not quite. Before statehood, there were three separate Zionist political camps that saw the right to the Whole Land of Israel as inviolable: right, left and religious. On the right, followers of Ze’ev Jabotinsky demanded Jewish sovereignty over Trans-Jordan as well as Palestine. On the socialist left, among followers of ideologue Yitzhak Tabenkin, the Whole Land also included the Golan and southern Lebanon.
Neither Jabotinsky nor Tabenkin were concerned with God. The religious Whole Land stream was the least influential, because religious Zionists as a whole were a small minority.
And yes, faced with the opportunity for statehood through partition, more pragmatic Zionists won the day. David Ben-Gurion’s Zionism defeated Jabotinsky’s and Tabenkin’s – for a time. But proponents of the Whole Land of Israel, on the left and right, didn’t abandon their dream.
Then, in the ecstasy of victory in June 1967, it reverted from dream to program. Legendary poet Nathan Alterman, formerly a Ben-Gurion loyalist, founded the Movement for the Whole Land of Israel that summer. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s proposal to keep the West Bank, and to give its Arab residents local autonomy but not citizenship, turns out to be a very rough plan for today’s anti-democratic arrangement. Galili and his Ahdut Ha’avodah colleague minister Yigal Allon became the architects of settlement.
With the merger of three parties in 1968, Dayan, Galili and Allon became part of the new Labor Party – which, by the time it lost power in 1977, had established nearly 80 settlements in occupied territory.
Meanwhile, a theology of the Whole Land did in fact sweep much of the religious Zionist camp. Religious settler activists clashed at times with the government on locations and pace, but could never have imposed the settlement project as a whole. They were its subcontractors, under Labor and then the Likud.
You won’t find proponents of the Whole Land on the secular left any more. That’s because the meaning of the words changed: If you favor keeping land, by definition you’re on the right. And belatedly, slowly, some of the erstwhile rightists realized that you can’t have the Whole Land, a democracy and a Jewish state. So Tzipi Livni is now “left,” regardless of her economic views.
Let’s face it, though: Today’s Likud stands for settlement, keeping the Whole Land, and more settlement. Its only pragmatism is Benjamin Netanyahu’s on-and-off lip-service to a two-state outcome. Netanyahu is a classic secular rightist – not a theologian, not a closet messianic.  Neither he nor anyone else in the Likud is faking to get votes.
Yet it seems that for many left-leaning secular Israelis, it’s so much more comfortable to identify the colossal mistake of the settlements with strange-looking hilltop youth than with a bare-headed prime minister – this one, or the others back to 1967.
And the world looks simpler if you can believe that there’s a line on one side of which are people who agree with you on everything – and on the other, those who disagree on everything.
That picture, though, is factually mistaken and politically self-defeating. It leads you to underestimate opponents and alienate potential allies. It evades the need to rethink what Zionism means. Along with international pressure, we need some intellectual pressure to look with clear eyes at how we’ve gotten into the quagmire we’re in now. ”
Gershom Gorenberg is the author of “The Unmaking of Israel” and “The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977.” Follow him on Twitter: @GershomG

Original article: Secular Zionists: The Settlements Are Your Fault, Too – Opinion – Haaretz – Israeli News Source Haaretz.com.

NOTE: Thanks & Rav Todah to Richard Flantz for pointing me to this article

I’m Palestinian and I’ve been incited | +972 Magazine

I’m Palestinian and I’ve been incited

“Israeli government ministers, ‘Arab affairs’ analysts, and regular citizens incite against us — but they’re also inciting us. And yet, despite it all, we restrain ourselves.”

By Umar al-Ghubari (translated by Richard Flantz)

prawer

Young Palestinians demonstrate against the Prawer Plan in East Jerusalem, November 30, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

“Yes, you read the headline correctly: I’m an incited Palestinian. Every day they incite me. My most prominent and significant inciters are the leaders, the commentators and most of the journalists of the State of Israel, and ordinary Israelis too. Social networks and the masses of online commenters in Israel comprise a volcano of incitement. It’s clear to me that they actually want to incite against Palestinians, but their words come back like a boomerang and incite the Palestinians, too.

A newscast on any given Israeli television channel is a proven recipe for angering and inciting Palestinian viewers. Analyses and predictions by Zionist commentators constitute aggression and provocations to Palestinians. The despicable verbiage of people who call themselves “experts on Arab affairs” is laden with slander and manipulations that arouse disgust toward Arabs, and when Arabs hear them they mainly feel dread and explode in anger.

Yes, it’s they who incite me and make me fume. Every time Israeli leaders talk about Arabs, Palestinians, or any other formulation drawn from these words, they express hostile, racist, patronizing, threatening and humiliating attitudes with alarming ease. There is no doubt that the current prime minister is a star in this context, but he hasn’t invented a thing. He may have improved the method and embellished the formulations, but he has no exclusivity over racism. We’re talking about his words and his actions these days only because he is the apex of the pyramid of the regime, not because he is exceptional or any more extreme than the prime ministers who preceded him.

This attitude toward Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular is deeply rooted in Zionist thought. Although it is expressed in different ways, in diverse formulations and in various doses, at its base this is a consistent line that stems from a racist world view, whose seeds were planted with the crystallization of the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. In his book The Jewish State (1896), Herzl wrote: “We should there [in Palestine] form a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” Which Israeli leader has not believed, expressed himself, or thought in a similar way?

The majority of Palestinians in Israel understand Hebrew. They sit watching the television screens in one of their ghettoes, in Galilee, in Wadi ’Ara, in the center of the country and in the Negev; they hear the threats and absorb the humiliations poured into their faces from the Israeli TV channels. They’re incited even more by the claim about the only democracy in the Middle East that they are benefiting from. This maddens them. Frustrated, they look out the window to seek and to feel the democracy that isn’t there.

…”

Complete article I’m Palestinian and I’ve been incited | +972 Magazine.

Video: Life inside Hebron’s closed military zone

 

Video: Life inside Hebron’s closed military zone

 

“Muhanned Qafesha, a resident of Tel Rumeida in Hebron, takes Mondoweiss through the arduous journey some residents of the city have been subjected to since Israeli forces made the town a closed military zone in November.

Following the establishment of the closed military zone Israel implemented a new number system in the area. Each household within the zone was given an ID number which is now necessary to be able to access Tel Rumaida. Anyone without a number is barred from entering the town.

Instead of being subjected the military checkpoint, many residents and visitors alike have instead chosen to take a footpath through the muddy back hills of Tel Rumeida to get home. The Israeli checkpoint used to be the most convenient entrance to their town, but now can take hours as Israel “heightens security.”

While the footpath is dangerous, and non-residents taking the path are doing so illegally, Qafesha said many choose to take the alternative entrance out of protest, while others take it because they have no other choice.

Video: Sheren Khalel and Abed al Qaisi
Music: Bakr Khalifa

Editor’s Note: Mondoweiss editors Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz recently visited the same Israeli checkpoint in Hebron and conducted this impromptu interview with a Hebron resident attempting to return home.  “

https://youtu.be/T6a1ioGgaf4

Original article: Video: Life inside Hebron’s closed military zone.

Open Letter to UAW Leadership: Respect Union Democracy, Solidarity, and the BDS Picket Line | Labor for Palestine (U.S.)

lfp

Open Letter to UAW Leadership: Respect Union Democracy, Solidarity, and the BDS Picket Line
Labor for Palestine
January 28, 2016

As workers, trade unionists, and anti-apartheid activists, we call on the United Auto Workers International Executive Board to rescind its undemocratic and arbitrary “nullification” of UAW 2865’s respect for thePalestinian-led Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) picket line, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the 13,000 teaching assistants and student-workers at the University of California in 2014. 

———– 

Unfounded Interference

The IEB concedes that it could “find no evidence that the local union engaged in any improper actions that may have prohibited a fair and democratic vote.”

Nonetheless, it sides with anti-labor corporate lawyers to defend the profits of military contractors who arm apartheid Israel. Enlisting in a well-funded witch-hunt designed to silence those who speak up for Palestinian rights, it falsely calls BDS “anti-Semitic.”

In doing so, the IEB disregards more than a century of colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, including Israel’s establishment through the dispossession of more than 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), a regime that veteran South African freedom fighters call “worse than apartheid.”

It turns a blind eye to $3.1 billion a year in U.S. military aid, with which Israel massacred 2200 Palestinians (including 500 children) in Gaza in 2014, and inflicted a 10-year high in Palestinian casualties in the West Bank in 2015.

It refuses to acknowledge more than fifty laws that discriminate against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

It is deaf to urgent Palestinian trade union appeals for solidarity in the form of support for BDS.

It omits the stated goals of BDS, which demands an end to Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and implementation of the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

It ignores the endorsement of BDS by Black Lives Matter activists, Jewish members of UAW 2865, and trade unions around the world.

It fails to recognize that BDS is entirely consistent with past UAW support for boycotts organized by the Civil Rights Movement, United Farm Workers, and South African anti-apartheid movement.

Lacking any semblance of fairness, the IEB’s decision has been appealed to the UAW’s Public Review Board.

UAW Leaders’ Complicity with Apartheid

In contrast to UAW 2865’s highly-transparent support for BDS, the IEB’s biased ruling reflects UAW top leaders’ longstanding and unaccountable complicity with the racist ideology of Labor Zionism.

In the 1940s, UAW and other top U.S. labor leaders actively supported the Nakba. UAW president Walter Reuther wasclosely allied with future Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who later infamously pronounced, “[t]here were no such things as Palestinians.”

In the 1950s, UAW conventions passed pro-Israel resolutions and raised funds for the Histadrut, the Zionist labor federation. Reuther’s brother, Victor, served as U.S. spokesperson for the Jewish National Fund, which remains at theforefront of seizing Palestinian lands. In subsequent years, “the UAW may have been the largest institutional purchaser of Israel Bonds,” which fund dispossession of the Palestinian people.

In 2007, International UAW leaders signed a statement drafted by the Jewish Labor Committee that attacked unions in the UK for endorsing BDS.

Now they seek to disenfranchise UAW 2865 members, muzzle free speech, and demonize the surging BDS movement.

Rank-and-File Resistance

Rank-and-file UAW members have a history of challenging this pro-apartheid stance.

In January 1969, the Detroit-based League of Revolutionary Black Workers publicly condemned Israeli colonialism. On October 14, 1973, three thousand Arab autoworkers in Detroit held a wildcat strike to protest UAW Local 600’s purchase—without membership approval—of $300,000 in Israel Bonds. On November 28, 1973, Arab, Black and other autoworkers struck to protest UAW International President Leonard Woodcock’ acceptance of the B’nai B’rith’s “Humanitarian Award.”

UAW 2865’s BDS resolution reclaims and revives this proud tradition of solidarity and social justice. When Palestinian trade unions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and Labor for Palestine issued renewed BDS calls in response to Israel’s 2014 Gaza massacre, UAW 2865’s Joint Council openly informed the entire membership:

“We intend to throw our weight behind the BDS movement to add to the international pressure against Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people. As workers, students, and as a labor union, we stand in solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination from a settler-colonial power.”

On December 4, 2014, UAW 2865 members adopted this non-binding resolution by a landslide sixty-five percent, thereby becoming the first major U.S. union to endorse BDS.

Growing U.S. Labor Support for BDS

UAW 2865’s courageous vote was paralleled by LFPILWU Local 10 members who refused to handle Israeli Zim Line cargo in 2014, and has been followed by adoption of BDS resolutions by the United Electrical Workers and Connecticut AFL-CIO in 2015.

Attempts to silence this growing solidarity movement are doomed to failure, as reflected in the National Labor Relations Board’s recentdismissal of a challenge to the UE’s BDS resolution.

As the 2865 BDS Caucus explains:

“No letter from the IEB can erase the educational and organizational work we have done over the past year, work we will continue to do, energized no doubt by the IEB’s undemocratic, business­-friendly attempt to nullify this vote. . . .

“We are part of a growing movement for union solidarity with the people of Palestine and for a democratic and visionary U.S. labor movement. As workers, educators, and students, we know together we can prevail over these forms of repression and continue striving for justice for all peoples.”

Sharing that vision, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with UAW 2865 in respecting the BDS picket line.

======

Please also sign:
Support Student Workers’ Historic BDS Vote (US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation)
Stand with UAW Local 2865 (Jewish Voice for Peace)
Original article:  Open Letter to UAW Leadership: Respect Union Democracy, Solidarity, and the BDS Picket Line | Labor for Palestine (U.S.).

Occupation, Inc. | Human Rights Watch

 

2016-01-israel-mena-main_0Barkan, located in the occupied West Bank, is an Israeli residential settlement and industrial zone that houses around 120 factories that export around 80 percent of their goods abroad. In the background is the Palestinian village of Qarawat Bani Hassan. © 2004 David Silverman

“Summary

Almost immediately after Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, the Israeli government began establishing settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. From the outset, private businesses have been involved in Israel’s settlement policies, benefiting from and contributing to them. This report details the ways in which Israeli and international businesses have helped to build, finance, service, and market settlement communities. In many cases, businesses are “settlers” themselves, drawn to settlements in part by low rents, favorable tax rates, government subsidies, and access to cheap Palestinian labor.

In fact, the physical footprint of Israeli business activity in the West Bank is larger than that of residential settlements. In addition to commercial centers inside of settlements, there are approximately 20 Israeli-administered industrial zones in the West Bank covering about 1,365 hectares, and Israeli settlers oversee the cultivation of 9,300 hectares of agricultural land. In comparison, the built-up area of residential settlements covers 6,000 hectares (although their municipal borders encompass a much larger area).

2016-mena-israel-overviewmap

Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate the laws of occupation. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring its citizens into the territory it occupies and from transferring or displacing the population of an occupied territory within or outside the territory. The Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, establishes the court’s jurisdiction over war crimes including the crimes of transfer of parts of the civilian population of an occupying power into an occupied territory, and the forcible transfer of the population of an occupied territory. The ICC has jurisdiction over crimes committed in or from the territory of the State of Palestine, now an ICC member, beginning in June 13, 2014, the date designated by Palestine in a declaration accompanying its accession.

Israel’s confiscation of land, water, and other natural resources for the benefit of settlements and residents of Israel also violate the Hague Regulations of 1907, which prohibit an occupying power from expropriating the resources of occupied territory for its own benefit. In addition, Israel’s settlement project violates international human rights law, in particular, Israel’s discriminatory policies against Palestinians that govern virtually every aspect of life in the area of the West Bank under Israel’s exclusive control, known as Area C, and that forcibly displace Palestinians while encouraging the growth of Jewish settlements.

As documented in this report, it is Human Rights Watch’s view that by virtue of doing business in or with settlements or settlement businesses, companies contribute to one or more of these violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses. Settlement businesses depend on and benefit from Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and other resources, and facilitate the functioning and growth of settlements. Settlement-related activities also directly benefit from Israel’s discriminatory policies in planning and zoning, the allocation of land, natural resources, financial incentives, and access to utilities and infrastructure. These policies result in the forced displacement of Palestinians and place Palestinians at an enormous disadvantage in comparison with settlers. Israel’s discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians have harmed the Palestinian economy and left many Palestinians dependent on jobs in settlements—a dependency that settlement proponents then cite to justify settlement businesses.

Following international standards articulated in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, businesses are expected to undertake human rights due diligence to identify and mitigate contributions to human rights violations of not only their own activities but also activities to which they are directly linked by their business relationships. They are also expected to take effective steps to avoid or mitigate potential human rights harms—and to consider ending business activity where severe negative human rights consequences cannot be avoided or mitigated.

Based on the findings of this report, it is Human Rights Watch’s view that any adequate due diligence would show that business activities taking place in or in contract with Israeli settlements or settlement businesses contribute to rights abuses, and that businesses cannot mitigate or avoid contributing to these abuses so long as they engage in such activities. In Human Rights Watch’s view, the context of human rights abuse to which settlement business activity contributes is so pervasive and severe that businesses should cease carrying out activities inside or for the benefit of settlements, such as building housing units or infrastructure, or providing waste removal and landfill services. They should also stop financing, administering, trading with or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure.

Human Rights Watch is not calling for a consumer boycott of settlement companies, but rather for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities by ceasing settlement-related activities. Moreover, consumers should have the information they need, such as where products are from, to make informed decisions.

This report uses illustrative case studies to highlight four key areas where, in Human Rights Watch’s view, settlement companies contribute to and benefit from violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: discrimination; land confiscations and restrictions; supporting settlement infrastructure; and labor abuses. These case studies are not necessarily the worst examples of settlement businesses, but demonstrate how businesses operating in settlements are inextricably tied to one or more of these abuses.

How Businesses Contribute to and Benefit from Discrimination

Israel operates a two-tiered system in the West Bank that provides preferential treatment to Jewish Israeli settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. Israeli courts apply Israeli civil law to settlers, affording them legal protections, rights and benefits not enjoyed by their Palestinian neighbors who are subject to Israeli military law, even though under international humanitarian law, military law governs the occupied territories regardless of citizenship. Israel’s privileged treatment of settlers extends to virtually every aspect of life in the West Bank. On the one hand, Israel provides settlers, and in many cases settlement businesses, with land, water infrastructure, resources, and financial incentives to encourage the growth of settlements. On the other hand, Israel confiscates Palestinian land, forcibly displaces Palestinians, restricts their freedom of movement, precludes them from building in all but 1 percent of the area of the West Bank under Israeli administrative control, and strictly limits their access to water and electricity.

In 2010, Human Rights Watch published a report, Separate and Unequal, documenting Israel’s systematic discrimination against Palestinians in favor of settlers. The report found that the impact of these policies on Palestinians at times amounts to forcible transfer of the population living under occupation, since many Palestinians who are unable to build a home or earn a living are effectively forced to move to areas under Palestinian Authority control or to emigrate entirely out of the West Bank. This new report builds on Human Rights Watch’s previous findings and considers the ways in which settlement businesses are deeply bound up with Israel’s discriminatory policies.

By virtue of facilitating the settlement regime, settlement businesses, in Human Rights Watch’s view, contribute to the discriminatory system that Israel operates for the benefit of settlements. These businesses also directly benefit from these policies in myriad ways. The report describes two such ways. One is the financial and regulatory incentives that the Israeli government provides to settlement businesses, but not to local Palestinian businesses, in order to encourage the economic development of settlements. The other is the discriminatory way that the Civil Administration, the unit in the Israeli military responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank, issues permits for the construction and operation of settlement companies, often on land confiscated or expropriated from Palestinians in violation of international humanitarian law, while severely restricting such permits for Palestinian businesses. It is therefore Human Rights Watch’s view that businesses operating in or with settlements are inextricably linked to, and benefit from, Israel’s privileged and discriminatory treatment of settlements at the expense of Palestinians.

As an illustrative example, the report contrasts the operating conditions of a quarry in the West Bank owned and operated by a European company, to the operating conditions of Palestinian-owned quarries in the West Bank town of Beit Fajar. Whereas Israel issued a permit to the European company to operate the quarry on an area of land that Israel declared belongs to the state, Israel has refused to issue permits for nearly all of the 40 or so Beit Fajar quarries, or for almost any other Palestinian-owned quarry in the area of the West Bank under Israel’s administrative control. The World Bank estimates that Israel’s virtual ban on issuing Palestinians permits for quarries costs the Palestinian economy at least US$241 million per year. Yet Israel licenses eleven settlement quarries in the West Bank despite this exploitation of resources in occupied territory violating international humanitarian law.

Article 55 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 makes occupied property subject to the laws of usufruct. The generally accepted interpretation of these rules permits an occupying power to appropriate the resources of the occupied territory only for the benefit of the protected population or if justified by military necessity. Yet the settlement quarries pay fees to settlement municipalities and the Civil Administration, which cannot be said to benefit the Palestinian people, and sell 94 percent of the materials they produce to Israel or Israeli settlements, in violation of these laws.

How Businesses Contribute to and Benefit from Land Confiscation and Restrictions

This report also describes how settlement businesses depend on, contribute to, and benefit from Israel’s unlawful confiscation of and restrictions on Palestinian land for the benefit of settlements. Some settlement businesses operate in residential settlements, or provide services to them, while others operate in “industrial zones” specially built for settlement businesses.

Such businesses depend on Israel’s unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land to build the settlements in the first place. Based on the findings of the report, it is Human Rights Watch’s view that by facilitating settlements’ residential development, these businesses also contribute to the further confiscation of Palestinian land, restrictions on Palestinian access to their lands, and their forced displacement from these lands. The report highlights the case of Ariel, a settlement Israel first established in 1978. The 4,615 dunams (462 hectares) of land on which Ariel was initially built was seized by military order ostensibly for security purposes. In the decades since, Israel has built three security fences around the settlement, each time encompassing hundreds more dunams of privately owned Palestinian agricultural land.

The report examines two illustrative case studies—a bank and real estate agency active in Ariel—to demonstrate the manner in which businesses finance, develop and profit from the illegal settlement housing market on lands seized from Palestinians. Many other banks and real estate agencies are active in settlements, and the focus on these companies is purely illustrative and not intended to single them out as particularly problematic.

The first case study looks at the role of an Israeli bank in the construction of a six-building complex in Ariel called Green Ariel. The bank is financing the project and provides mortgages to Israeli buyers there and elsewhere in Israeli settlements. The bank’s website advertises the pre-sale of apartments in several other buildings under construction in settlements. This is one example of the many banks that finance settlement construction or provide mortgages to settlers.

The operations of a US-based global real estate franchise is another case study illustrating business involvement in the settlement housing market. Like other real estate agencies, the branches located inside Israel offer properties for sale and rent in Ariel and other settlements; it also has a branch in the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

By contributing to and benefitting from Israel’s unlawful confiscation of land, the financing, construction, leasing, lending, selling and renting operations of businesses like banks and real estate agencies help the illegal settlements in the West Bank to function as viable housing markets, enabling the government to transfer settlers there.[2] In this way, in Human Rights Watch’s view, companies involved in the settler housing market contribute to two separate violations of international humanitarian law: the prohibition on an occupying power expropriating or confiscating the resources of the occupied territory for its own benefit and the prohibition on transferring its civilians to occupied territory. By benefitting from the preferential access to land and financial incentives for doing business in the settlements, these businesses also benefit from Israel’s unlawful discrimination against Palestinians.

Israel’s confiscation of land for settlements and settlement businesses violates international law, regardless of whether the land was previously privately held, “absentee land” or so-called “state land.” Businesses operating on these unlawfully confiscated lands are inextricably tied to the ongoing abuses perpetuated by such confiscations.

While Israel maintains that its human rights obligations do not extend to the occupied territories, the International Court of Justice, endorsing the position of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, has refuted Israel’s position on the grounds that a state’s obligations extend to any territory under its effective control. Israel also wrongly asserts that the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on an occupying power to “deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” does not apply to voluntary transfers. Both the plain meaning of article 49 of the Convention—which only refers to “transfer” in this clause but expressly refers to “forcible transfers” in the context of a different prohibition in the same article—and the International Committee of the Red Cross’s commentary contradict this position.

How Businesses Support the Infrastructure of Unlawful Settlements

Businesses also play a vital role in sustaining the settlements, thereby facilitating and benefitting from Israel’s violation of the international law prohibition on an occupying power transferring its civilian population into occupied territory and contributing to Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians in the West Bank. Businesses provide services of all kinds to settlers. At the same time, they contribute to the economic development of settlements by providing employment to settlers and tax revenues to settlement municipalities.

The report highlights, as an illustrative example, a company providing waste management services in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Ariel and the nearby Barkan industrial zone. It operates a landfill in the Jordan Valley on land that Israel confiscated in violation of the laws of occupation and helps to sustain the presence of settlements. The company also benefits from Israel’s discriminatory approval requirements that favor Israeli companies servicing settlements but discriminate against Palestinian companies servicing Palestinians. In 2004, Israel invested in upgrading the facility in the Jordan Valley and the Civil Administration gave it a permit to operate there, even though the site currently exclusively services Israeli and settlement waste.

Meanwhile Palestinians have struggled to obtain funding and permits for landfills. All authorized landfills servicing Palestinians are funded by international donors. In one case, Israel has refused to retroactively approve a Palestinian site, and in another, it forces a Palestinian landfill site to accept waste from settlements established in violation of international law.

More generally, settlement businesses provide employment to settlers, which is a key to attracting and maintaining settlers. Around 55,440 settlers—about 42 percent of the settlement workforce—are employed in public or private sector jobs in Israel’s settlements. Settlement businesses also pay taxes to settlement municipalities, thus contributing to the sustenance of the settlements. Although the tax rates are often lower than rates inside Israel, they still make up a sizable share of the municipality’s income.

For example, the 2014 projected budget of the settlement of Barkan, which is associated with the industrial zone of the same name, anticipated that around 6 percent of its budget—350,000 shekels of a six million shekels ($87,500 of $1,500,000) budget—would come from corporate taxes, and that Barkan would take in another nearly million shekels ($250,000) in water taxes, a portion of which factories in the industrial zone would pay. In 2014, the subsidiary of a European cement company that owns a quarry in the West Bank paid €430,000 ($479,000) in taxes to the Samaria Regional Council for its operation of the Nahal Raba quarry.[3]

Without the participation and support of such private businesses that service Israel’s settlements, the Israeli government would incur much greater expenses to sustain the settlements and their residents. In this way, businesses contribute to Israel’s maintenance and expansion of unlawful settlements.

How Businesses Contribute to and Benefit from Labor Abuse

While all settlement-related business activity runs afoul of international standards on the human rights responsibilities of businesses, regardless of labor conditions, the lack of clear labor protections for Palestinians working in settlements creates a high risk of discriminatory treatment and other abuses. As noted, Israeli courts apply Israeli civil law to settlers, while Palestinians are subject to Jordanian law as it existed at the start of the occupation in 1967, except as amended by military order. In 2007, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that, in the case of labor laws, this two-track legal system is discriminatory, and Israeli law should govern employment conditions of Palestinians in settlements, giving Palestinian employees the right to sue their employers in Israeli courts for violations of Israeli labor laws. But the government has not implemented this ruling, and claims it cannot investigate and enforce compliance with these laws.

The virtually complete lack of government oversight, as well as Palestinian workers’ dependency on Israeli-issued work permits, creates an enabling environment for settler employers to pay Palestinian workers below Israel’s minimum wage and deny them the benefits they provide to Israeli employees. Notwithstanding the international humanitarian law prohibition against applying Israeli law to occupied territory, Israel is obliged by international human rights law to ensure that all civilians under its effective control enjoy all human rights without discrimination according to ethnicity, citizenship, or national origin and therefore must bring conditions for Palestinian workers in settlements in line with those of settlers.

According to the workers’ rights group Kav LaOved, at least half of settlement companies pay Palestinian workers less than Israel’s minimum hourly wage of 23 shekels ($5.75), with most of these workers receiving eight to 16 shekels per hour ($2 to $4), no vacation, sick days, or other social benefits, and no pay slips. Human Rights Watch spoke to one worker, Hani A. (pseudonym), who is employed in a factory in Barkan that produces Hanukah candles and plastic containers. He said he works 12-hour night shifts, receives only one half-hour break, and earns 8.5 shekels ($2.12) per hour. Another person, Mujahid, who worked in Barkan until September 2014, told Human Rights Watch he earned 16 shekels ($4) per hour and worked between 12 and 15 hours a day. He recalled one week during which he worked from 3 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The report highlights the illustrative case of a textile manufacturer in Barkan that supplied linens to an upscale American home goods chain. In 2008, 43 employees, almost half of whom were women, sued the exporter, alleging they were earning hourly wages of 6 to 10 shekels ($1.50 to 2.50) and receiving no social benefits; women workers alleged they were receiving around 2 shekels less per hour than the men. The exporter settled all the cases out of court. The co-owner of the business claims that all employees currently receive minimum wage and full benefits under Israeli law. The exporter moved its facilities from the occupied territories in October 2015.

Supporters of settlement businesses have argued that they benefit Palestinians by providing them with employment opportunities and paying wages that exceed wages for comparable jobs in areas where Israel has ceded limited jurisdiction to the Palestinian Authority. They have raised concerns that, in some cases, ceasing Israeli business activity in settlements may force the layoff of Palestinian workers. Some have even described settlement businesses as models of co-existence or an alternative path to peace through economic cooperation.

The employment of Palestinians in settlement businesses does not, in any case, remedy settlement businesses’ contribution to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The cumulative impact of Israeli discrimination, as documented in this report and numerous others, is to entrench a system that contributes to the impoverishment of many Palestinian residents of the West Bank while directly benefitting settlement businesses, making Palestinians’ desperate need for jobs a poor basis to justify continued complicity in that discrimination.

The World Bank estimates that discriminatory Israeli restrictions in Area C of the West Bank, most of which are directly linked to Israel’s settlement and land policies, cost the Palestinian economy $3.4 billion a year. These restrictions drive up unemployment and drive down wages in areas of the West Bank. Farmers in Area C are particularly hard hit by Israel’s unlawful and discriminatory land and water policies, causing many to lose their traditional livelihoods. Many Palestinians are therefore left with little choice but to seek employment in settlements, providing a steady source of cheap labor for settlement companies.

The head of the village council of Marda, an agricultural village which lost much of its land to Ariel, told Human Rights Watch: “We used to have 10,000 animals, now you can barely find 100, because there is nowhere for them to graze. So the economy collapsed and unemployment increased.” As a result, many of the villagers now have little choice but to work in settlements, he said.

******

As noted, many of the violations documented in this report under the four headings listed above are intrinsic to long-standing Israeli policies and practices in the West Bank. Companies operating in or with settlements cannot mitigate or avoid contributing to these abuses through their own operations. For this reason, Human Rights Watch recommends that, absent a radical shift in Israeli policies and practices that would allow businesses to operate in accordance with their responsibilities under international law, businesses should cease settlement-related activities, including operating in settlements or financing, administering or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure.

The UN Guiding Principles provide that enterprises should undertake human rights due diligence to identify and mitigate the adverse human rights impact not only of their own activities but also activities to which they are directly linked by their business relationships. In the latter case, businesses should ensure that their supply chains are not tainted by serious abuses. A business would not necessarily be expected to completely sever all its relationships with another actor that is operating in the settlements, but it would need to ensure that its relationships are not themselves contributing to or otherwise inextricably bound up with serious abuses.

Moreover, states have certain obligations given the nature of Israel’s violations in the West Bank. The Fourth Geneva Convention requires states to ensure respect for the Convention, and they therefore cannot recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories or render aid or assistance to its unlawful activities there. In an advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice found that states also have such obligations because Israel’s settlement regime—as well as the separation barrier, the main focus of the opinion—violate international laws that are erga omnes, meaning that all states have an interest in their protection.

As a result, Human Rights Watch recommends that states review their trade with settlements to ensure they are consistent with their duty not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories. For example, states should require and enforce clear origin labeling on settlement goods, exclude such goods from receiving preferential tariff treatment reserved for Israeli products, and not recognize or rely on any certification (such as organic or health and safety) of settlement goods by Israeli government authorities unlawfully exercising jurisdiction in the occupied territories.

In addition to states’ obligations under international humanitarian law, the UN Guiding Principles call on states to respect the principles and develop guidelines to implement them. A number of states are currently developing national action plans for this purpose. States should provide guidance to companies operating in conflict-affected areas, including in situations of military occupation such as the occupied Palestinian territories.

 

Recommendations

To Businesses Active in Israeli Settlements

  • Cease activities carried out inside settlements, such as building housing units or infrastructure, the extraction of non-renewable resources, or providing waste removal and landfill services.
  • Avoid financing, administering or otherwise supporting settlements or settlement-related activities and infrastructure, such as through contracting to purchase settlement-manufactured goods or agricultural produce, to ensure the businesses are not indirectly contributing to and benefiting from such activities.
  • Conduct human rights due diligence to ensure that supply chains do not include goods produced in settlements.

To Israel

  • Abide by Israel’s obligations as the occupying power and dismantle settlements, including industrial zones and business operations, in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
  • Lift unlawful and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians in occupied territory that contribute to Palestinian poverty and unemployment, including restrictions on Palestinian land and development and extraction of natural resources. End any policies on the operations of business in the occupied territories that violate international humanitarian or human rights law, including those that permit the extraction of natural resources when this does not benefit the population of the occupied territory or is not strictly required by military necessity.
  • Cease providing financial incentives, including subsidies for development costs in settlements and lower tax rates, to Israeli and international businesses located in the occupied West Bank.
  • Cease registering the establishment or permitting the operation of Israeli or international businesses in the occupied West Bank unless the purpose of the operations is to benefit the Palestinian people and is consistent with international humanitarian law.

To Third-Party States

  • Assess trade with settlements and adopt policies to ensure such trade is consistent with states’ duty not to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian territories. This includes requiring exporters to accurately label goods produced in settlements as such, excluding such goods from preferential treatment under Free Trade Agreements with Israel, and refraining from recognizing the Israeli government’s authority to certify the conditions of production of settlement goods (such as compliance with organic or other criteria).
  • Avoid offsetting the costs of Israeli government expenditures on settlements by withholding funding given to the Israeli government in an amount equivalent to its expenditures on settlements and related infrastructure in the West Bank.
  • Provide guidance on implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to companies operating in conflict-affected areas, including in the context of military occupations such as the occupied Palestinian territories.

…”

Read the full report: Occupation, Inc. | Human Rights Watch.

Israeli campaign against artists draws accusations of ‘McCarthyism’ | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

490044_img650x420_img650x420_crop

“Reuters

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: An ultra-nationalist Israeli group that has campaigned against foreign-funded NGOs broadened its assault to include left-wing artists on Thursday, accusing authors such as Amos Oz and David Grossman of disloyalty to the country.

The offensive by Im Tirtzu takes place amid deepening left-right divisions in Israel, with members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government frequently critical of the arts and advocating a more religious-nationalist agenda.

Culture Minister Miri Regev, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, has proposed cutting government funding for any theater or arts institution whose programs “subvert the state.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett wants to introduce a civics book in schools that critics say reinterprets history with political bias.

In posters published online and on its Facebook page, Im Tirtzu takes aim at what it calls “foreign agents in the cultural world,” accusing Israeli actors, writers, directors and other “intellectuals” of obstructing the government’s mission.

“They are members of foreign agent organizations operating with foreign government funding … against the State of Israel,” it says, naming around 100 people from the worlds of cinema, theater, publishing and television.

It published on Facebook the names of several dozen “cultural people” listed on the websites of left-leaning charities and non-governmental organisations as serving as members of their boards or public councils.

The posters follow a video campaign launched late last year in which Im Tirtzu accused the heads of several high-profile Israeli NGOs, including one focused on human rights violations by the Israeli army, of being foreign-funded “agents” bent on undermining the state.
…”

Read more:  Israeli campaign against artists draws accusations of ‘McCarthyism’ | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR.