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Earth Day in Israel: Apartheid Showing Through the Greenwash
Posted: 24 Apr 2010 09:55 PM PDT

On April 22, as part of the global Earth Day celebrations, homes, offices and public buildings in 14 Israeli cities turned out the lights for one hour in an effort to “increase awareness of the vital need to reduce energy consumption.”
The Earth Day celebrations included scenes of green fields, wind generators and rainbows projected on the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem, the Green Globes Award ceremony recognizing “outstanding contributions to promote the environment” and a concert in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv powered by generators running on vegetable oil as well as volunteers on 48 bikes pedaling away to produce electricity.
The irony was not lost on the 1.5 million residents of Gaza who have been living with daily power outages lasting hours on end for nearly three years due to the Israeli siege on the coastal territory. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) reports that over 100 million liters of fuel were allowed into Gaza in 2009, however as Gisha points out, that amounts to only 57% of the need.
As summer approaches bringing peak demands, spare parts and tools for turbine repair are in dire need. There are currently over 50 truckloads of electrical equipment awaiting approval by the Israeli authorities for entry to Gaza.
The constant power outages have led many families in Gaza to rely on low quality generators running on low quality fuels, both brought in through the tunnels from Egypt, causing a sharp increase in accidents resulting in injury and death. According to the UN agency OCHA, in the first three months of 2010, 17 people died in generator related accidents, including fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The mayor of the central Israeli city of Ra’anana, of which 48% is reserved for city parks, vowed to plant thousands of trees as part of the city’s sustainable agenda. Palestinian farmers from the West Bank village of Qaryut near Nablus had their own tree planting ceremony in honor of Earth Day, only to find the 250 olive tree saplings uprooted by Israeli settlers from Givat Hayovel.
Another 300 were uprooted during the night of April 13 outside the Palestinian village of Mihmas by settlers from the nearby Migron outpost. The Palestinian Land Research Center estimates that over 12000 olive trees were uprooted throughout the West Bank in 2009, with Israeli authorities responsible for about 60%, clearing the land for settlements and construction of the wall, and Israeli settlers the rest.
Earth Day in Gaza brought armor plated bulldozers escorted by Israeli tanks that proceeded to rip through fields of winter wheat, rye and lentils at Al Faraheen near Khan Younis in the Israeli imposed buffer zone, destroying the livelihood of a Palestinian family because, as Max Ajl, who filmed the entire shameful episode, explained, “They could.”
But that’s not all that was being dug up in Gaza. The UN Mine Action Service uncovered and removed 345 unexploded ordnance, including 60 white phosphorus shells, left over from the Israeli assault on Gaza. Approximately half were found under the rubble of destroyed buildings.
As the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection was launching its “Clean Coast 2010” program for Earth Day, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 million liters of raw or partially treated sewage was being pumped into the Mediterranean sea from Gaza’s overworked, under funded and seldom repaired sewage treatment plant. Damage from Israeli air strikes and lack of electric power and spare parts due to the siege make it impossible for the plant to meet the demands of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents, with the daily overflow creating serious health hazards.
In addition to the Green Globe awards, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had it’s own award ceremony last month recognizing Israeli Defense Force units, soldiers and commanders who “exhibited excellence in protecting the environment, environmental resources and the landscape.” The theme for this year’s annual competition was water and included projects related to the “protection of water sources” and “water savings.”
For Palestinians living in the West Bank, this “protection of water sources” was documented in Amnesty International’s October 2009 report Troubled Water: “The Israeli army’s destruction of Palestinian water facilities – rainwater harvesting and storage cisterns, agricultural pools and spring canals – on the grounds that they were constructed without permits from the army is often accompanied by other measures that aim to restrict or eliminate the presence of Palestinians from specific areas of the West Bank.”
The Amnesty International report also notes that for decades, Israeli settlers have instead “been given virtually unlimited access to water supplies to develop and irrigate the large farms which help to support unlawful Israeli settlements.” And nowhere is this more evident than the Jordan Valley where 95% of the area is occupied by Israeli settlements, plantations and military bases and where “Israeli water extraction inside the West Bank is highest.”
One such company helping to sustain the illegal settlement economy is Carmel Agrexco, Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter. By its own admission the company, which is half owned by the State of Israel, exports 70% of the produce grown in the West Bank settlements. Europe is by far its biggest market, though its produce arrives as far as North America and the Far East.
Agrexco promotes itself as a green company, with a focus eco-friendly packaging and organic produce, though one could argue that transporting organic bell peppers from Israel to the US is hardly ecological. Even the self-proclaimed “green ships” used to bring fresh produce to Europe are named Bio-Top and EcoFresh. ”
But there is nothing green about occupation and colonization, nothing ecological in violating human rights and dignity. And that’s why an international coalition supporting the Palestinian call for boycotts of Israeli products has set its sights on removing Carmel Agrexco produce from supermarkets – and ports – across Europe.
The original Earth Day was about grassroots mobilization, public protest for change and political awareness of the issues. In Israel’s Earth Day celebrations, its Apartheid system is showing through the greenwash.
Stephanie Westbrook is a U.S. citizen who has been living in Rome, Italy since 1991. She is active in the peace and social justice movements in Italy and traveled to Gaza in June 2009. She can be reached at steph@webfabbrica.com.
For more information on the boycott campaigns targeting Carmel Agrexco in Europe, see:
UK – http://www.bigcampaign.org/
Italy – http://www.stopagrexcoitalia.org/
France – http://www.coalitioncontreagrexco.com/

Israeli leftist: Join us in our war against this fatal affliction, the occupation
Posted: 24 Apr 2010 07:33 PM PDT

 Rami Elhanan, who lost his daughter Smadar to a suicide bomber in 1997, in a speech last week, picked up at Kibush

I think about the stations of my life, on the long journey that I have taken on my way to a redefinition of myself, of my Israeliness, of my Jewishness and of my humanity. About the light-years that I have travelled, from the young man who 37 years ago fought in a pulverized tank company, on the other side of the Suez Canal, from the young father who 28 years ago walked the streets of bombed Beirut, and it did not at all occur to me that things could be otherwise.
I was a pure product of a cultural-educational and political system that brainwashed me, poisoned my consciousness and prepared me and others of my generation for sacrifice on the altar of the homeland, without any superfluous questions, in the innocent belief that if we did not do it, they would throw us – the second generation after the Holocaust – into the Mediterranean Sea.
Nearly 40 years have passed since then, and every year this armour of victimhood continues to crack. The self-righteousness and the feeling of wretchedness keep dissipating, and the wall that separates me from the other side of the story keeps crumbling.
…this evening I want to talk specifically to those who are in between, who are sitting on the fence and watching us from the sidelines, I want to talk to the satiated Israeli public that does not pay the price of the Occupation, the public that sticks its head in the sand and does not want to know, that lives within a bubble, watches television, eats in restaurants, goes on vacation, enjoys the good life and looks after their its own interests, shielded by the pandering media that help it to hide from the bitter reality that is concealed only a few metres from where they live: the Occupation, the theft of lands and houses, the daily harassment and oppression and humiliation, the checkpoints, the abomination in Gaza, the sewage on the streets of Anata …
On this evening, especially, I want to address the Left public in all its shades, those who are disillusioned and angry, those who are afflicted with apathy, with despair and weakness, those who enclose themselves in the bubble of themselves and grumble on Friday nights, but are not involved with us in this hard war against the aggressive pathogen of the Occupation that threatens to destroy the humanity of all of us. And on this evening, the evening of Remembrance Day for the dead on both sides, I want to ask them to join us in our war against this fatal affliction! I want to tell them that to be bystanders is to be complicit in crime! I want to tell them that there are many who are not willing to stand aside, who are not willing to be silent in the face of evil and stupidity and the absence of basic accountability and justice!
And I want to tell them about the true anonymous heroes of our dark age! About those who are willing to pay a high personal price for their honesty and decency, those who dare to stand in front of the bulldozers with rare and amazing courage, the refusers who say no to the omnipresent militarism, the combatants for peace who discarded their weapons in favour of non-violent resistance, the resolute demonstrators who crush against the terror of the police and the army in Bil’in, in Ni’lin, in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan every weekend, the lawyers who struggle every day in the Ofer camp military Court, and in the High Court of Justice, the heroic women of Mahsom Watch, the dedicated peace activists from abroad, like the late Rachel Corrie who gave her life, and also the those who blow the whistle on crimes and conspiracies, from Anat Kam to Gideon Levy and Akiva Eldar, and also the peace organizations of both peoples, and especially the bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families who are bringing about the miracle of reconciliation despite their tragedies.
The darker the sky gets, the more visible are these stars gleaming in the darkness!

Israelis shoot Maltese photographer as she films Gaza demonstration
Posted: 24 Apr 2010 01:09 PM PDT

zammitJust a flesh wound to the leg, I’m told: a Maltese volunteer was shot in Gaza by Israeli soldiers as she filmed a demonstration yesterday. Eva Bartlett of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reports:

Bianca Zammit, shot in her outer thigh (leg) by armed Israeli soldiers as she filmed, unarmed, at a Palestinian demonstration against the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone”. Bianca, about 3 metres to my left, was standing stationary, filming the IOF soldiers shooting on unarmed Palestinians between us and the border fence. As she was stationary, it is very unlikely that Bianca’s shooting was an accident.

Max Ajl has more on Zammit, a member of ISM, and the shooting here.
And Robert Hand at facebook offers this account:

“We were walking towards the fence surrounding Gaza when Israeli soldiers opened fire at us,” Zammit said. “People sought cover but I kept filming. When the protestors stood up again to keep walking ahead, they shot again and hit three of us.
“All the Palestinians do in these demonstrations is to get as close as possible to the fence and plant the Palestinian flag. We posed no threat whatsoever.”…
The Maltese Ambassador in Israel, Abraham Borg, said he will be demanding explanations from the Israeli government and that he was monitoring the case.

Israel’s ‘guardian,’ Sen. Schumer says Gazans are suffering but they deserve it
Posted: 24 Apr 2010 11:48 AM PDT

Ben Smith picks up a disturbing radio interview of Chuck Schumer by Nachum Segal, who is apparently to the right of Schumer and of course has influence, in which Schumer repeatedly sides with Israel over Obama and says the collective punishment of the Palestinian people in Gaza is tough luck. Notice Schumer’s claim that all Americans share his feeling, but the contradictory statement that it’s “Jewish members” of Congress who will be meeting Obama to stand up for Israel.
Oh my. Amy Goodman, please run for Congress. Notice that Schumer has Obama’s ear and brags of spending lots of time with Netanyahu. And you thought Democrats couldn’t learn to love a rightwinger. Read the comments at Politico and you will see that people ain’t buying, the American street is enraged by Schumer’s allegiances.  
Excerpt begins with Schumer’s reference to State Department spokesman PJ Crowley’s description of Hillary Clinton’s exchange with Netanyahu: Clinton “made clear that the Israeli government needed to demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process.”

“And Crowley said something I have never heard before, which is, the relationship of Israel and the United States depends on the pace of the negotiations.”
“That is terrible. That is the dagger because the relationship is much deeper than the disagreements on negotiations, and most Americans—Democrat, Republican, Jew, non-Jew–would feel that. So I called up Rahm Emanuel and I called up the White House and I said, ‘If you don’t retract that statement you are going to hear me publicly blast you on this…'”
[Ben Smith:] Schumer said the White House had backed off that statement, but that now “many of us are pushing back, some of the Jewish members will be meeting with the President next week or the week after, and we are saying that this has to stop.”

More directly from the Segal interview, Schumer speaking:

there is some economic growth in the West Bank. It’s growing at 7-8%, Netanyahu brags that — when he came here I spent a lot of time with him – That there are multiplex theatres in places like Ramallah and Janeen.
At the same time that is happening, there is prosperity with the more moderate Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza is being squeezed and people there are doing very badly. Not only because Israel has blocked off the border and not let anything into Gaza, and I support Israel in doing that, and it may be tough on the Palestinian people, but when they vote for Hamas they are going to have to suffer the consequences…
Senator Schumer, the perception among New York state residents, and I’m one of them as you know, is there likely is no one closer in the Senate to the President than you.
SCHUMER: That’s not quite true, but I have an ear and frankly I spent time on the phone just yesterday talking to him about this, and telling him that I didn’t quite understand the United States policy, because even if the goal is to bring about talks of peace, it was counter-productive because it’s encouraging the Palestinians not to sit down.
SEGAL: More than ¾ of the Senate, including a lot of democrats, signed the letter to Sec. of State Clinton rebuking the administration for these confrontational stances toward Israel. Were you surprised that names like Kerry, Dodd, Durbin, Leahy and Reid were not included in that letter?
SCHUMER: well I think Senator Reid signed the letter, some didn’t sign but the majority of both parties signed. And we’ll have other letters and other meetings to keep pushing that. I think you can say there are a handful of people who are not sympathetic to Israel in the Senate of each party, but 90% of the Senate is overwhelmingly in support of Israel.
And one of my jobs, as you know is to rally those forces to do strong poll work for this year (couldn’t hear this part perfectly). Believe me I think the policy has to change, and I’m working hard to make it change and I think it will. Every administration at the beginning has this view even Ronald Reagan, the best friend Israel ever had, do you remember his first 2 years?
When George Schultz wanted to sell AWACs to Saudi Arabia? Every administration has this idea to talk tough to Israel and make nice to the Arabs and the Palestinians and that’s the way to bring about peace. It’s counter-productive, it’s actually the
opposite…
Luckily in terms of Jewish people we have good representation in terms of the Supreme Court. That will continue. One thing I want to assure your listeners
Nachum, my name as you know comes from a Hebrew word. It comes from the word shomer, which mean guardian. My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto wall in Chortkov and I believe Hashem, actually, gave me name as one of my roles that is very important in the
United States Senate to be a shomer to be A. a shomer for Israel and I will continue to be that with every bone in my body for of the other is against me.

Haber: BDS is about justice and self-determination, not one-state/two-state
Posted: 24 Apr 2010 10:58 AM PDT

Jerry Haber (Magnes Zionist) responds to Ahmed Moor in their dialogue about liberal Zionists and BDS. 
Since Ahmed Moor and I agree on many fundamental goals — transforming Israel from an ethnic Jewish state to a state of all its citizens, dispensing justice to those who have been wronged, enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights – and since we also agree on the stated goals of the global BDS movement, let me reiterate briefly where we disagree.
We disagree over the tactics of the global BDS campaign, or to be more precise, Moor disagrees with the tactics of the global BDS campaign. I argued, and he did not challenge this, that the global BDS movement takes no position on regime change in Israel, and it certainly does not take a position on the one-state issue. It bases itself on international resolutions and international human rights law.
That allows for a pretty broad coalition, and so it is not surprising that prominent Jews and Israelis who supported the Berkeley divestment resolution included two-staters like Noam Chomsky and self-described Zionists like Prof. Lev Grinberg of Ben-Gurion University. In many battles the global BDS movement has faced, it has been aided by two-staters, and those people are essential and valued allies (Neither Chomsky nor Grinberg would qualify for Moor’s “racist neighbor” example.)
I don’t know whether Moor realizes that one can be a two-stater and not a statist Zionist, or for that matter, a Zionist who is opposed to a Jewish ethnic state. One can hold, for example, that alongside a state of Palestine will be an Israeli state of all its citizens, one that can have an Arab prime minister, grants full civil equality to all its citizens, and fosters the culture and heritage of its principle ethnic and religious groups.
Such a state would abolish the current Israeli Law of Return and Naturalization laws, which privilege one group and does not provide for naturalization (except by ministerial fiat). It would look a bit like what Bernard Avishai calls “a Hebrew republic. “ Unless I am mistaken, Moor confuses the call for the transformation of Israel into a liberal democracy with the call for its replacement by one state. In fact the one-state, two-state debate at this point is not the issue – what is at issue is how to provide justice and self-determination for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. 
My point about Palestinian Israelis not opposing Israel as a Jewish ethnic state was not with respect to their ideology or their wishes. It is a no-brainer that Israeli Palestinians, like any people, want to live in a society in which they are not foundationally discriminated against, and the Jewish ethnic state does just that.
What I meant to say is that many of these Palestinians want very much to live in an *Israel* that does not so discriminate. They are, despite everything, Israeli Palestinians with an Israeli Palestinian identity. And that certainly is true of intellectuals like Azmi Bishara and politicians like Ahmed Tibi, who know Hebrew and Jewish culture better than most Jews outside Israel (and many within Israel.) 
Moor and I find the compromises offered by the liberal Zionists at best inadequate and at worst deeply offensive. He and I are rightfully annoyed with the many attempts to give the Palestinians crumbs. Since I am not a statist Zionist but a cultural one none of his arguments against liberal Zionism affects me. He mistakes my call to liberal Zionists to support BDS, despite some misgivings, with the call for Palestinians to hold hands with liberal Zionists. Did I say anything about dialogue in my post?
The anti-apartheid movement brought together different groups with different ideologies. Even so, it was not enough to bring down apartheid by itself; historians still debate about the efficacy of the movement. Moor says that he would rather see the Berkeley student senate vote down partial divestment than for some of its members to support it for the wrong reasons.
His and my disagreement on this point may stem, in part, from the stages in life in which we find ourselves. Moor is a young man and has a lot of time. He can wait for the world to grow up and see the light. Neither I nor, apparently, the global BDS movement can.
See: www.modoweiss.net

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