Below is a message that I posted to the al-Awda USA listserve concerning a proposed al-Awda withdrawal of its endorsement from the statement currently appearing on the BDS website of the BNC, which is not the same statement that it originally signed. Since receiving wider distribution, my message has been misinterpreted and criticised for statements and assertions that were neither made nor intended. Furthermore, since my motives for making the statement have been questioned, as well, I will preface the message with some explanation.
- I have never criticised but rather have encouraged the practice of, and a movement for, boycott, divestment and sanction against Israel. Although some do not wish to apply BDS to all things Israeli, I do not wish to discourage them from their partial application of BDS, because all forms of BDS are helpful.
- I do not wish to cause a split within the movement, nor tell Palestinians what should or should not be their objective or their means. Not all Palestinians agree about such matters, and I consider my role to be that of solidarity with all Palestinians, regardless of their political beliefs or affiliations. I am only responsible for my own beliefs and actions.
- I am in pursuit – as we all are – of truth and justice, although our interpretations of such may be different and our commitment varying. However, I do not abide the avoidance of truth for the sake of expediency, nor hypocrisy or inconsistency with respect to principle. Sadly, some would rather apply principle only when it serves their purpose and abandon it when it is no longer convenient. I believe that the truth sets us free, but that freedom is not gained without sacrifice. However, freedom is an illusion without justice, and no one is free until we all are free. Similarly, justice cannot be gained for some at the cost of injustice to others. This is why none of us should accept a Jewish state, least of all Jews.
- My message was addressed to al-Awda members with respect to al-Awda endorsement of a particular BDS Campaign referenced in the message, and not the idea of a BDS movement nor the BDS tactics and actions that have been applied with success on many occasions. My reference point for what may or may not be acceptable in that context are the al-Awda USA principles of unity (with which I happen to agree).
- This message is specifically addressed to the practice of retroactively revising a statement after it has been endorsed, without the consent of the endorsers. Nothing more. Nothing less. This is the only matter that should be considered. If Al-Awda and other signatories wish to accept the revision or to opt out, that is their business. However, they must be given the choice and an approval procedure must be followed. Please. That is all that I am saying. All the rest is analysis.
- I tried for more than two months prior to this message to gather information and to get questions answered through more private inquiries. A more public message was a last resort.
I hope we can keep these matters in perspective.
It is with great sadness that I must propose withdrawal of al-Awda endorsement from the BDS Campaign led by the BNC until the change in its mission statement has been corrected and until a public explanation is provided for the reasons for the change as well as the procedure by which the change was implemented. A more transparent public explanation of BNC finances is also recommended.
Obviously, this is not a proposal to stop boycott, divestment and sanctions. However, BDS actions and practices do not require endorsement of a particular movement. Everything that undermines the racist Zionist state deserves our support. Nevertheless, under no circumstances can we support any statement or action that legitimates such a state, which is the problem with the BNC-led BDS Campaign.
As I reported on July 10, the original BDS mission statement reads:
“1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall”
In fact, it still reads that way on one part of the website: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call. Unfortunately, that part of the website is historical, and reports what the original mission statement was when it was issued in 2005 (when al-Awda endorsed it), and not what it is today, which is found at http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro, which reads:
“1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall” (emphasis added)
When did this wording change? By what procedure was it amended? Were endorsers like al-Awda consulted or even notified about the change? What was the reason for the change?
1. When did the wording change?
Sorry, but I have no idea about this, and I doubt that anyone else on this list does, either. This is problematic. How can a change of this magnitude be made without the permission of its endorsers? How can endorsers be made to say something that they never endorsed? This is deception at its worst.
2. By what procedure was the statement amended?
One would think that such a change would require a proposal to and ratification by the governing committee of the BNC. However, there is no evidence that such a procedure was observed. Lacking evidence to the contrary, we must conclude that it was amended unilaterally by someone with control over the website.
3. Were endorsers like al-Awda consulted or even notified about the change?
Again, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it appears that the change in language was introduced in the most surreptitious way possible, so as to avoid notice. One is reminded of the way the British territory of Gibraltar was enlarged by moving the boundary stones at night.
4. What was the reason for the change?
This is the most troubling part of the problem. A clue may be found in the following video, posted by Gilad Atzmon:
Another clue comes from BDS Campaign founder Omar Barghouti’s book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. In the introduction, Barghouti describes the goal as “ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands [occupied in 1967] and dismantling the wall” (p. 6). On page 49, Barghouti says that “BDS calls for ending Israel’s 1967 military occupation of Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and other Arab territories in Lebanon and Syria.”
Obviously, Omar Barghouti is entitled to his views. Perhaps he is genuinely convinced that the ‘Zionist colonization’ of ‘all Arab Land’ applies only to land invaded in June 1967. However, is he the one behind the unauthorized changes in the BDS mission statement? This is a question that needs to be answered, and I believe that the similarities between his statements and the amendment of the BDS mission statement justify the asking of that question without prejudice to the possibility that a satisfactory explanation might exist. Justice must presume innocence until proven otherwise.
Finally, according to Gilad Atzmon, some Zionist right wing sources name George Soros and his Open Society Institute as helping to fund BDS and some of its member organizations. We know that Soros is a “soft” Zionist and wants to preserve a Jewish state. Is his funding or that of any other funding organizations a reason for the change in the mission statement? A full disclosure of funding sources and amounts, as well as any and all conditions of funding is needed. In addition, the use of those funds, including line item amounts, is needed in order to demonstrate accountability.
I again wish to express my sorrow at bringing these matters to your attention. I hope that my concerns are unjustified. However, I also hope that you will agree that this is an issue that must be addressed.
Further to this, below is the full current mission statement on the website. Please note that it claims that “The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements” (including al-Awda). The fact is that none of these organizations endorsed the statement as revised, but rather the original statement, without the amendment.
What, then is the meaning of item three in the mission statement? It appears to be a statement of the Right of Return, but where exactly are the refugees going to return if ending the occupation and colonization applies only to territories occupied in June, 1967?
This is clearly an accommodation to Zionists who want to be part of the BDS movement (or, more accurately, want to control it). Fine. Let them have their movement, but let the organizations that do not agree to this amendment opt out of it, in which case all of the endorsers should be contacted and allowed to make their own choice. However, under no circumstances should false claims be made that more than 170 groups endorsed a statement that they plainly did not.
- Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Deep in Siberia’s Taiga forest is Vissarion, a cult leader who looks like Jesus and claims to be the voice of God. He’s known as “the Teacher” to his 4,000 followers, who initially seem surprisingly normal.
Hosted by Rocco Castoro | Originally released in 2011 at http://vice.com
Read the full Jesus of Siberia article here: http://bit.ly/Jesus-in-Siberia
It may have been the sight of my old AMC Rambler1, but it was the chance of a lifetime when Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave me an exclusive press pass to last weekend’s Republican National Committee strategy session. Here is how it went.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus opened the meeting with a challenge. “We may have a problem with the presidential race,” he said. “There’s no doubt we chose the best, most electable Republican candidate in the field, and we have a shi*load of money from our dozen or so filthy rich donors. But hey, our guy wants to put roll-down windows on aircraft flying at nearly the speed of sound. We’re going to need some help. Any ideas?”
“How about blaming all the ills of society on the Democrats and promising to fix them?” suggested Co-Chairman Sharon Day.
“We always do that and they do the same to us,” replied Priebus. “I think it’s just not enough to do the trick. And by the way, you don’t look much like a co-chairman, Sharon. Perhaps you need a more manly wardrobe.”
“How about concentrating on emotional issues like abortion, illegal immigration and same-sex marriage that distract voters from real issues like food, housing and health?” offered Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowsky.
“We’re doing that, too,” lamented Priebus. “We’ve got to get creative.”
“Suppose we pledge to tax the rich, help people with their mortgages and cover their health while using government leverage to lower the costs of medical care and pharmaceuticals,” said Penin Diaz, Token Minority Representative. “Then we could bring the troops home, cut the defense budget, and end our billions of dollars to Israel each year.”
“Get out and don’t come back!” shouted the rest of the committee. “Whom do you think we represent?”
“Look, our best chance seems to be to prevent people from voting,” said Priebus after order was again restored. “We’re making some headway on requiring special ID. Any further thoughts on that?”
“What if that ID is more difficult to get?” suggested Fundraising Director Koch Adelson.
“You might be on to something,” replied Priebus with interest. “What do you have in mind?”
“I’m thinking about an ID that is issued according to real democratic principles like the ones our nation’s founders intended. We could start with the fact that nearly every state denies the right to vote to felons. If we can get them to also ban those who have been convicted of misdemeanors, it will yank a bunch of potential Obama voters. Furthermore, the cops are almost all on our side. I’m sure they can arrange a few more convictions. Lots of cases come down to the word of a cop against that of a citizen. We all know where that goes.
“Then there are the homeless. If you don’t have an address, in many places you can’t register to vote. If we can get the banks to increase the foreclosure rate, I’m sure we can create more homeless. Bankers love us anyway, and it fits their agenda.
“And what about registration deadlines? Can we get them moved back? We might be able to catch voters before they register.”
How about bringing back the poll tax? … Or literacy tests?
“Speaking of real democratic principles,” interjected Day, “there are some ideas from the past that might serve us well. How about bringing back the poll tax? It discourages the poor, most of whom are not Republican, anyway. Or literacy tests?”
“I’m not so sure the literacy tests will work in our favor, Sharon,” replied Adelson, “but if we can disenfranchise Washington, D.C., that’s three electoral votes that the Dems won’t get.”
“Nice thought, Koch,” interjected Priebus, “but that means reversing a constitutional amendment. Same thing with women’s suffrage. We’ll never get it done before this election. On the other hand, the states can re-institute property requirements. It used to be three acres in some states.”
“Yes, I know it would be nice to go back to our roots and limit the vote to white male Protestant landed gentry, declared Adelson. But some of this has to wait until we get into office. Besides, it was democracy that started this whole mess. Let’s do what we can to disenfranchise as many voters as we possible for now, and then give the whole place back to King George III. We know he was on our side.”
1Mitt Romney’s father, George, was president of American Motors before becoming governor of Michican.
Back to the Ersal Mayor,
The Border is Mine
Hujeiri was born in Ersal, learned farming by instinct, had his primary education at the convent school in al-Qaa village, and completed his intermediate school stage in Ersal. But then “I rebelled against my father and school and joined the Communist Action Organization. I fought on the Mount Lebanon and Souk al-Gharb fronts between 1984 and 1985.”
But problems arose with the smuggling business, prompting Hujeiri to abandon it and devote himself to farming: “I left smuggling because of security harassment, and because I couldn’t pay the money to the Syrian officers any longer. So I switched to farming in Jourd Ersal and Masharih al-Qaa. But I kept in limited contact with the Syrians. Then I opened a stone quarry, which my sons work in today.”
“We didn’t understand the Syrians, and they never understood us,” he now says. “An official from the Baath Party came and held a meeting in the village. He asked us to do this and that, and told us Ersal’s interests lie here and not there. I objected to what he was saying and said: go and teach the people of your own village. I walked out of the meeting, and everyone there from Ersal followed me,” he recalls. “That gave Syrian intelligence a grudge against me, so I was expelled from the Baath party because I was against Syria and Assad.”
That incident did not prevent him from repairing his relations with Syrian intelligence, who asked him to run in the 2004 municipal elections. But he refused, opting instead to back one of his relatives as mayor and take on the Baath, which did not score a single municipal council member. “I told them: I will beat you in Ersal, and that is exactly what happened.”
Since becoming mayor of Ersal for a second time in 2010, Hujeiri has had a fair amount of contact with Hezbollah, but “the party only wants to deal with us for sectarian reasons,”he complains.
“Sayyed Nasrallah was victorious against Israel in 2006, but I don’t know why he slid into narrow alleyways [of internal Lebanese politics] and wasted this great victory. I, for example, used to be against [prime minister] Fouad Siniora, but I became with him, like all the people of Ersal,” he says. “Ersal today is with the Syrian revolution against Bashar al-Assad,” the mayor reiterates. “I don’t hide the fact that we support the revolution here, but I challenge anyone to prove that there is al-Qaeda in Ersal” – adding, with a laugh, “three quarters of Ersal do not know how to perform ablutions, and don’t trust bearded people.” In any case, “we faced a lot of insults from the Baath here and in Syria, so don’t blame us, boys.”
Ersal’s strongman is emphatic: “If the entire world supports Bashar, and his people and Ersal are against him, he will not stay in power.” He adds that “the Syrians destroyed a house of mine in Jourd Ersal, and another in Masharih al-Qaa, and also some of my water wells, but I will not back down from my support for the revolution.”
The mayor declines to elaborate on the subject of weapons smuggling via Ersal into Syria, remarking “you should ask the Syrian intelligence and leaders of the Baath in Lebanon — they know best who does the smuggling and who deals with them here and in Syria.” He points out, however, that “we now control the border all the way from al-Qaa to Ersal, up to the Zabadani countryside. More than 100 kilometers of the border with Syria are under our control.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
Like a storm has hit me
I feel weary
what has stopped my flow
a no go
nothing to feed my intellectual
I feel so
out of control
and don’t know what to do
where’s my something to hang on to
my survival has been put on stew
for that’s the only thing I knew
In this torture of you
maybe I’ll grab a brew
sit down and watch a few
now boo hoo
back to where I used to be
what shall I do with thee
we shall see
for something’s gonna happen eventually
my options are limited
but now I’m starting to feel interested
aww, now there’s to many things to choose
guess I’ll sit down with my guitar and play the blues
now I feel like I can’t lose
I paid my dues
now I’m happy
and that’s good news