For many years now, the Israeli government and disinformation groups like NGO Monitor have been working constantly to attack and smear organisations that draw attention to, and demand accountability for, the war crimes and other rights violations perpetrated by Israeli authorities.
These efforts have focused, in particular, on denigrating Palestinian human rights defenders living under Israeli military occupation, including by alleging involvement in, or links to, “terrorism”.
It’s a particularly nasty tactic given that, under Israel’s military regime, Palestinian political activity and expression is systematically delegitimised as “terrorism”. The tools of repression include military courts, detention without charge, and the banning of more than 411 organisations since 1967.
Delegitimizing Solidarity: Israel Smears Palestine Advocacy as Anti-Semitic
Journal of Palestine Studies (2020) 49 (2): 65–79.
In response to growing Palestine solidarity activism globally—and particularly in countries that have been traditional allies of Israel—the Israeli government has launched a well-resourced campaign to undermine such efforts. A key element of this campaign consists in equating Palestine advocacy; the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement; and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Read more
One of the first bills to be introduced by Britain’s new Conservative government will reportedly stop “local authorities from boycotting individual companies”, a move described as targeting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
The Conservative Party election manifesto did indeed pledge to “ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries”, on the grounds that such moves “undermine community cohesion”. Read more
Pro-Israel groups in Britain are facing resistance in their attempts to use a controversial definition of anti-Semitism to stifle Palestine solidarity activism. Concerns over free speech are being heeded by universities and local authorities, in what is a boost for Palestine rights activists currently holding, or preparing to hold, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) events on campuses nationwide. Read more
The commendable decision by Amnesty International UK to cancel an event this week organised by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) is an important development in the fight against Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The event, which was to focus on the ills of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), featured Hillel Neuer, the head of pro-Israel pressure group UN Watch. Acknowledging that the booking should never have been approved in the first place, Amnesty UK pulled the plug on the event after concerns were raised both externally and within the organisation. Read more
The Israeli government and its allies are mobilising to try and thwart a United Nations list of companies complicit in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
These efforts are taking place in parallel to significant initiatives by figures within and outside of the Israeli government to normalise the presence of the settlements, moves which could contribute towards a future, formal annexation of sections of the West Bank.
On 24 March 2016 the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution by 32 votes to 0 (with 15 abstentions) that called for the establishment of “a database of all business enterprises involved” in settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), to be updated annually. Read more
When David Friedman was sworn in two weeks ago as US ambassador to Israel, all went smoothly. The afternoon event was a straightforward affair; children and grandchildren were in attendance, and US Vice President Mike Pence hailed the bankruptcy lawyer as “literally … born for this job”.
But the bonhomie and ceremonial formalities could not mask the fact that this had been no ordinary nomination or ambassadorial appointment. In fact, Friedman’s Senate confirmation hearing was both an unprecedented affair and a microcosm of trends that spell big trouble for “brand Israel”. Read more
Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, places a premium on speaking at university campuses. The context? Israel’s uphill struggle to assuage a growing sense of frustration and anger at a Benjamin Netanyahu-led government seen as a serial violator of international law and human rights.
In October, Regev addressed Cambridge University students at its famous Debating Union. The event was recently uploaded onto YouTube, and of particular interest is the Q&A (beginning 27 minutes in). The questions are predominantly critical, or sceptical, and Regev has to shoot from the hip.
So here are three claims that the Israeli ambassador made in response to students’ questions – and an analysis of their accuracy. Read more
Earlier this week, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) cancelled an event planned as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week”, on the grounds that it “contravenes” a controversial definition of anti-Semitism recently endorsed by the UK government.
The panel event, “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine and the importance of BDS”, was organised by the UCLan Friends of Palestine society. I was one of the speakers scheduled to speak.
There are three particularly disturbing aspects to this decision by the UCLan authorities. Read more
Millions of British adults boycott Israeli goods, according to a poll commissioned by Israel lobby group BICOM and carried out by Populus.
The survey suggests that despite efforts by pro-Israel groups and British government ministers to smear, and undermine the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, support for boycott remains largely unchanged. Read more