Monday, October 3rd, 2011
The high Bedouin popular committee of the Negev
Demonstration and General strike
The October 6 Demonstration
No to Praver Plan
Thursday, 6.10.2011, 11:00 am
Be’er Sheva, in front of the “Authority for the settlement of the Negev Bedouins”
Buses to the demonstration and back will leave from Tel Aviv (9:00 Arlozorov train station, Masof El Al) and Jerusalem (9:00 Gan Hapa’amon)Registration at: Mumtaz – 0507701118, Ilan – 0542895000
Monday, June 20th, 2011
On Monday, June 27, 2011, the Knesset’s Law, Constitution and Justice Committee will deliberate the Boycott Bill, in preparation for second and third reading in the Knesset plenum.
As part of our ongoing campaign against this anti-democratic legislation, we are now launching the second phase of our “Right to Resist” campaign. The campaign consists of four videos stared by some of Israel’s popular artists and cultural figures: singer-songwriter Rona Kenan, filmmakers Eitan Fox and Gal Ochovsky, the poet Meit Wizeltir, actress Einat Weizman, and cultural figure Muhammed Jabali.
Watch the First Video:
The campaign insists that no anti-democratic laws would be able to silence the growing resistance to the occupation. The first video circulated as part of this campaign already reached 11.5 thousand hits on Youtube.
Spread the word – Resist the Occupation! Here’s how:
The boycott bill, or “Damage to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott- 2011″ was proposed in the Knesset on July 2010 by head of the coalition, MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and other MK’s. The bill is focused on preventing citizens of Israel from protesting against the occupation by means of initiating a boycott. The bill passed first reading in the Knesset plenum on March 7, 2011, despite severe criticism from governmental ministries and leading civil society organizations.
Sunday, June 19th, 2011
Monday, June 27, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will deliberate the “Damage to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott- 2011” bill. The bill was proposed in the Knesset on July 2010 by head of the coalition, MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and other MK’s. The bill is focused on preventing citizens of Israel from protesting against the occupation by means of initiating a boycott. The bill passed first reading in the Knesset plenum on March 7, 2011, despite severe criticism from governmental ministries and leading civil society organizations.
The bill defines a call for boycott as a tort, for which the court may rule compensation without obligation to prove damage. The bill further authorizes the Minister of Finance to limit the participation of companies that have committed themselves not to work within settlements beyond the “Green Line”, in state tenders. (‘Rawabi Clause’)
In prior deliberations in the Knesset, the bill was met with harsh resistance of the government offices. The legal advisor of the Ministry of Justice staunchly criticized the bill for use of generalized and vague language. This was answered by the Committee Chairman, David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu): “The private positions of the Ministry of Justice have long ceased to interests this committee.” Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed his concern that contrary to the intent of its initiators, the law will actually harm Israel’s image and international relations. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor representative added within the deliberations that “salving Israel’s problems by creating international crisis is not a good idea.”
The bill is one of the most dangerous anti-democratic laws promoted in this current Knesset. Boycott is a non-violent, legal and legitimate means to promote social and political aims that is protected in civil rights of freedom of expression, opinion and assembly. The bill constitutes a fatal blow to all these civil rights.
In Israel, as well as in the rest of the world there is extensive use of boycott as a means to achieving social and consumer ends. The proposed law is targeting only a very specific form of calls to boycott, of groups and movements of the opposition, who resist the occupation and consist, today, of the political minority in Israel. As such, the proposed law tramples upon civil rights and basic democratic norms and has a “chilling effect” on civil society.
Many states have opted not to promote legislation that directly prohibits boycotting. Even states which did do so- such as the USA and Germany- don’t restrict individuals and civil society organizations in actualizing boycotts. This results from an understanding that it would be a severe violation of the freedom of expression. Contrary to the explanation clause in the proposed bill, the legislation in the USA only refers to boycotts that have been announced by states and applies to corporations and not to individuals or political groups.
Monday, April 4th, 2011
Please Welcome the first video is a series of clips that CWP produced as part of our campaign against the Prohibition of Boycott Bill, which is currently promoted in the Knesset
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According to the original version of this bill, persons who initiate, promote, or publish material that might serve as grounds for imposing a boycott are committing a crime may be ordered to compensate parties economically affected by that boycott, including fixed reparations of 30,000 shekels, without an obligation of the plaintiffs to prove damages. If the felon is a foreign citizen, he may be banned from entering for a period of 10 years or from doing business in Israel; and if it is a foreign state, Israel may not repay the debts it owes that state, and use the money to compensate offended parties; that state may additionally be banned from conducting business affairs in Israel. The measures shall apply one year retroactively.
The narrow version which eventually passed the first reading does not include clauses pertaining to foreign citizens and states. It also does not include anyone who provided information but rather anyone who actively partakes in a boycott.
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation rejected the chapters pertaining to foreign citizens and states, probably out of consideration for Israel’s foreign relations, and also rejected the retroactive clause.
On March 7 2011 the bill passed its first reading in the plenum. Will be further discussed in the Constitution Committee and prepared for its second-third (final) vote in the plenum.
Monday, April 4th, 2011
Thursday, March 10th, 2011
Yuval Ben Ami, City Mouse Online
It’s not only the right to boycott that artists in israel fight for, but for the right to support those who want to boycott. Yuval Ben Ami sat in front of Romi Abulaffia’s Camera and refused to be silent.
I have a sympathy for people who boycott in Tel Aviv. In fact, Meir Viltir, Rona Keinan, David Tratcover, Alex Libak, Yossi Pollak and the rest of the artists joined the struggle against the Boycott Law, as far as I know, haven’t boycotted anyone, and didn’t even support the boycotters, al they did was rise up for our right to support boycotters. It’s a rather strange right, trivial on one hand, and on the other, roles of our tongue as a bitter joke. Maybe only artists have the sufficiently developed imagination to even deal with such a ridiculous trial as this.
Those who side with the law often explain that boycotting is a legitimate tool to solving problems. Only a few days ago the Minister of Education quoted his daughter,Daniela, in an article published on his website. “To boycott is to ignore,” said the daughter, “it obviously isn’t a way to solve things. It’s childish.” In the article Sa’ar explains that Daniela is someone who’s counter-boycotting Elvis Costello, who cancelled his performance in Israel this year, and refuses to listen to his music. How absurd.
Is Daniela’s boycott childish? Yes. Muzzling Israeli citizens is also childish. Moreover: The occupation, which the boycotters are opposing, in culture, education and trade, is completely childish. But for those who wish to protect it at any price, it’s easy to call those fighting it infantile, and to use this alleged infantilism as an excuse to legalize a severe sabotage to the freedom of speech.
This sabotage has already passed a first reading in the Knesset. It will hurt, among others, the Ariel Culture Center boycotters, Israelis who’ll take part in building the Palestinian city Rawabi who committed not to use settlement products- not Israeli products, settlement products. A state that prevents its citizens from legitimate, nonviolent protestation activities, is a state that demands rage and admonishment, silence towards it and loud criticism at it. It’s not childish, it’s maturity.
The artists rising up in the face of the Boycott Law aren’t buying cheap talk that’s meant to disorient the Israeli public and convince it that hurting its freedoms, serves it. This is why I joined them, not as an artist, but as an extra. Isat in from of Romi Abulaffia’s camera and said the words “yes, we’ll continue to resist occupation.” If I could have added a sentence, I would have said the words “thank you Elvise Costello, that you contributed to the creation of a discourse in Israel, we’ll continue and try to preserve it, even when it comes to our freedoms it will focus on the issue: The criminal and violent theft of another people’s freedom, that has yet to end after decades.”
In Ingmar Bergman’s film, Persona, an actress decides to stop her monologue, as she stands in front of her audience. She just comes to a silence, and it arouses a scandal. Artists have joined the campaign out of an understanding that non-creation has a power of its own, and that’s why boycotts are extremely valuable. Those who create hear, don’t have the ability to take a stand my coming to a silence, they are unable to boycott the Israeli audience, which is their audience. That’s why, when the silence is forced upon them with legal means, they know that we’re all in danger and that they must open their mouths.
Now is the time to really speak up, to combine the protest within the art-work, and to create fearlessly from within the rage, not “before it’s too late,” because it may just already be too late. It’s possible that Israel may be able to protect it’s democratic treasure and end the disgrace, but it’s also a possibility that the works we produce today will cost us dearly in a lower future. That is exactly why they must be created.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
Artists Against the Boycott Law: “This is Suicide”
A list of artists are joining the struggle against the Boycott Law that passed in the Knesset first reading. Among them Israel Prize laureate David Tratcover, singer Rona Keinan, poet Meir Vizltir and others. Keinan: “It’s scary, it’s dangerous and we can’t let this happen.” Author Seffi Richlevski: “Israel is criminal.”
Artists, creators and intellectuals join the struggle, organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace, against the Boycott Law. Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin and Yisrael Beitenu’s MK David Rotem’s bill proposal, that passed first reading yesterday (Mon) and was widely criticized, determines that those who hurt the state of Israel with boycott will be imposed with compensation fines.
The bill, say the people of human rights organizations active in Israel, is among others directed at those who call for a consumer boycott of settlement products, as well as actors who refused to performing Ariel. In a letter sent to head of Knesset and its members, 53 different organizations wrote: “Instead of conducting a democratic debate on the issues of the day in the Israeli public, this bill silences political opponents and blocks the option of public debate.”
Among the list of artists that joined the public outcry today (Tue) are poet Meir Vizltir, musitian Rona Keinan, author Nili Landsman, Israel Prize laureate David Tratcover, actress Einat Weitzman, actor Yossi Pollak and author Seffi Richlevski. As part of the protest, the artists participated in short videos, directed by actress Romi Abulaffia, that will all be part of a campaign called “We’ll Continue Resisting Occupation.”
The Coalition of Women for Peace say that the goal of the campaign is to distribute it in social networks, explaining that anti-democratic laws won’t deter and won’t silence the rising resistance to the occupation. “We won’t obey to the attempt of coercing our cooperation with the anti-democratic and illegal control system that the Israeli government has created outside its borders, in the occupied territories.”
Keinan: “A Dangerous and Miserable Pattern”
Singer Rona Keinan that participated in the campaign today told Ynet: “SIlence is not an option anymore. We don’t have the option not to take a side. It’s scary, it’s dangerous, we can’t let this happen. I want to stay in this place and one day raise a family, and that’s why I can’t sit and do nothing. I must do my part in a small and symbolic attempt as it may be to change this miserable pattern that’s gone on for far to long under this government.”
“I know that even if this law falls through, others will come. It’s a dangerous pattern and as long as I have an option to speak out, I‘ll speak out and join those that speak out, I’ll shoulder the struggle and be in solidarity. I’ll do all I can with the limited tools at my disposal.”
The poet, Meir Vizeltar, who has avoided participating in rallies in the past few years, has also joined the campaign. “In the past years I don’t go to demonstrations and I don’t sign petitions because I’ve reached the conclusion that their role in Israeli culture is to give people that take part in them a feeling that they’re OK, that they’re enlightened. It’s whitewashing, and I don’t want to whitewash.”
“Since I don’t have the energy to participate in real political activity about the things I believe in, I take the role of that who stands on the balcony and watches Rome burn. But here, when I was approached, I decided to accede because sometimes you need to break principles.”
In the video, Vizeltar speaks about the law: “If this law passes and a few other paranoid laws that are being cooked up in Yisrael Beitenu and the Likud, then the state will become a true state of oppression. Not only to the occupied but to its own citizens and even its Tel Avivians. The current leadership likes to talk about the state as a “villa in the jungle”, but we’re being pushed to becoming much worse. A fortress on the seashore. A crusader’s fortress on the seashore, with the help of such laws.”
Richlevski: “This is Settlement Dictatorship Law”
Author Seffi Richlevski, also filmed for the campaign told Ynet: “This isn’t the boycott law, but the settlement dictatorship law. This bill demands, among other things, not to avoid cultural connection to an area under the control of Israel, when they mean the Territories. If I see 5 men raping a young woman and refuse to take part, I’m not boycotting them, I’m avoiding perpetrating a criminal offense.”
“the state of Israel, that builds out side its territory, has been a criminal state for years now. The government of Israel has turned insanity into its banner and now it’s saying that all those who won’t hold up this banner is a criminal. The situation is to the contrary. The anti-legal has turned into the normal, presumably. Forcing people to commit criminal offenses is loathsome and dictatorial and we only need look at what is happening around us. Libya also has laws and they aren’t democratic.”
“In a situation in which dictatorships of the area are collapsing one by one, those who think Israel will be allowed to continue with what it does in the Territories, is mistaken. Saying Hebron is “here” is a suicidal act. The fait of the colonial Israel is to disappear and those who claim the Territories and Israel are one in the same is giving up the continuation of Israel’s existence. It’s an existential question, not just a moral one. The occupation isn’t Israel, but its perversion. My patriotism is dedicated to the Israeli democracy and not to a dictatorial regime, and it’s against that that we should fight.”
The Coalition of Women for Peace stated today that the joining of the artists is especially significant and relevant, because the opening of the Ariel Culture Center and the artists’ letter that was exposed on Ynet are the main catalysts to the bill. “The artists’ letter reinvigorated the silenced discourse of the legitimacy of the occupation.”
The dramaturgist Vardit Shalfi, among the initiators of the artists’ letter, which created the storm, told Ynet: “Instead of debating the legitimacy of the settlements, the legitimacy of the people who protest the settlements is being debated. I’m happy that our protest, as expressed in the two artists’ letters, last summer, opened a public debate that destabilizes distorted views that some are asking to root as norm.”
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
CWP’s new report on the growing political persecution in Israel, and specific cases of violations of freedom of expression of human rights NGOs, peace activists, academics, and Arab Members of Knesset, were sent today to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Frank La Rue. The report was sent following a request from La Rue for information on violations of freedom of expression, for his upcoming visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in January.
Among the examples of violations of freedom of expression and opinion documented in the report: anti-democratic bills proposed in the Knesset, such as the Nakba Bill, a proposed bill to dismantle NGOs that aid in the prosecution of Israeli officials abroad, and the Prohibition on Instituting a Boycott Bill; the recurring assaults on Arab Members of Knesset; police brutality against protesters in solidarity vigils in Sheikh Jarrah and in peace demonstration during the assault on Gaza; and the attacks on leftist Israeli academics, led by the Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, and by the extreme right-wing movement Im Tirtzu.
“The circumstances and cases described raise concerns regarding an orchestrated and widespread assault on the freedom of expression and opinion of Israeli human rights and peace organizations and Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders,” concludes the letter sent to the UN Special Rapporteur. “Based on the documents we have enclosed, we respectfully request that you investigate these matters and communicate your concerns to the government of Israel and to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.”
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
CWP published a new report today, titled “All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy.” This comprehensive report documents the increasing political persecution of peace and human rights organizations and activists, and describes the connections between the assaults led by Israeli government officials, security forces, courts, journalists, and extreme-right organizations in this well-orchestrated offensive on democracy.
The report was published in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and English.
“In the past two years, CWP has witnessed a growing wave of assaults on Israeli peace and human rights NGOs, and delegitimization and persecution of Jewish and Palestinian human rights defenders,” states the report. “According to our research and analysis, the assault on Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009, and the subsequent Goldstone Report, increased and accelerated international pressure on Israel to end the occupation. Thus, voices of resistance within Israel, and the support and information they provide to international bodies and to the global peace movement, have become a strategic threat to the continued enforcement of the occupation. Silencing them has therefore become a primary goal for the Israeli government and Knesset and for right-wing movements within Israel.”
CWP’s “Israel Against Democracy” focuses on the deterioration of democratic standards within Israel, and on the growing political violence towards Palestinian citizens of Israel, political activists, human rights activists, and civil society organizations. This current deterioration, manifested in a wave of racist, discriminatory and anti-democratic legislation as well as in the State’s strengthened repression and violence apparatuses, appears on the backdrop of a hostile public atmosphere, cultivated by the media, senior politicians and extreme-right organizations.
In this campaign we disseminate information on these political assaults and use various legal and public tools, locally and internationally, to block anti-democratic policies. At the same time, we provide assistance to organizations and groups that suffer from political persecution and provide practical tools for activists to manage the situation and to maintain their individual and organizational security.
Nationalist movements have existed in Israel since its very foundation, but current period is unique in the establishment and expansion of organizations, whose primary target is incitement against human rights and left-wing organizations and the Palestinian public. These organizations provide the infrastructure for the public delegitimization of the Palestinian citizens Israel, civil society organizations, and political activists, both Palestinians and Jews. These organizations are well-connected to governmental institutions, partly through the large number of MKs from extreme-right parties sitting in the Knesset. Their provocative and well-funded media actions often turn into racist and anti-democratic Knesset bills.
The Eighteenth Knesset is the most dangerous Knesset ever elected in Israel. It is a parliament in which members compete against each other on a daily basis in proposing anti-democratic and nationalistic bills. An increasing number of forms of democratic protest and civil criticism are perceived as renegade or as treason and undergo criminalization. Public figures, including politicians and high-ranking officials in the security establishment, do not shy away from racist statements and public attacks on peace and human rights organizations.
This overt persecution in the public and political spheres goes hand in hand with the actions of the police and the secret service (Shin Bet). The Israeli police is heavy handed in repressing demonstrations and other forms of resistance to government policies, while the secret service operates under a paradigm that seeks to thwart the activities of those interested in challenging or changing Israel’s character as a Jewish state, even if their activities are legal.
The judicial system’s sweeping support for the security forces is manifested in the closing of investigations regarding the murder of civilian protesters in October 2000; systematic prevention of the investigation of complaints regarding violence and torture by secret service investigators; and cooperation with the demands of the secret service to prevent detainees from meeting with lawyers.
But the report ends with the somewhat optimistic conclusion that: “The rise of such a coordinated offensive against the forces fighting the occupation, specifically at this moment in time, indicates the success of the local and global movements against the occupation […] This means that Israel will sooner or later have to address the criticism it attempts to suppress today.” The report marks the launch of a new CWP campaign responding to this political persecution.
Friday, November 19th, 2010
In the past two years, CWP has witnessed a growing wave of assaults on Israeli peace and human rights NGOs and political persecution of Palestinian and Jewish human rights defenders. Of utmost concern is the fact that one of the leading forces in these anti-democratic assaults is the Israeli parliament, supposedly one of the foundations of a democratic system. The current Knesset has seen an increasing flow of dangerous bills, some of them particularly targeting Israeli human rights and peace organizations, among them CWP.
One of these bills – Disclosure Requirements for Recipients of Support from a Foreign Political Entity – 2010 – has generated some international pressure, including on behalf of the EP, and is currently being revised and reconsidered. However, there are several other bills intended to persecute Israeli NGOs and curtail their activities. Three bills worth noting:
1. Associations Law (Amendment – Exceptions to the Registration and Activity of an Association) – 2010 (a private bill, introduced by 19 MKs on 28 April 2010, a revised version tabled by 25 MKs on 14 June 2010) – This bill aims to outlaw any NGO if “the association was involved in, or will provide information to foreign entities regarding, legal proceedings abroad against senior Israeli government officials or military officers, for war crimes.” As such, this bill undermines international human rights law and the ability of Israeli NGOs to demand accountability for human rights violations committed by Israeli officials. In interviews given to the Israeli media, the MKs specifically targeted CWP and several other organizations.
2. Prohibition on Instituting Boycott Law – 2010 (tabled by 25 MKs from the coalition and the opposition on 5 July 2010, passed a preliminary vote on 14 July 2010) – According to the bill, Israeli citizens must not initiate, encourage, or provide support or information for boycotts against the State of Israel or on individuals and companies because of their activity in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Initially, the bill also included paragraphs concerning foreign citizens and governments. However, on 11 July 2010 the government decided to support this bill, provided that these paragraphs are removed. Therefore, it is likely that the revised version of the bill will only criminalize Israelis who support local and international BDS activity. This bill violates freedom of speech and freedom of association and is intended to persecute NGOs and individuals that engage in a nonviolent and legitimate form of political activity. The bill directly targets CWP, due to our research project “Who Profits from the Occupation,” which provides information on Israeli and international corporate involvement in the occupation.
3. Fighting Terrorism Law – 2010 (draft published by the Ministry of Justice on 22 April 2010, will most likely be submitted during the current seat of the Knesset as a government-backed bill) – This bill is intended to replace the existing laws against terrorism. The proposed bill expands the definition of “terrorist activity” in ways that could implicate almost any Palestinian or Israeli activist, and uses intentionally obscure definitions. For example, any “activity against” Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories, or “damaging State symbols,” could be defined as terrorism, a wording that could include nonviolent, legitimate resistance to the occupation. Moreover, according to the bill such allegations will be held as true unless the accused could prove otherwise. While every state has the right to defend its citizens against terror attacks, this bill uses unreasonably obscure and broad definitions for what “terrorist activity” is, and provides alarmingly frail measures for the defense of the accused. Under the guise of fighting terror, this law could easily be used to criminalize internal opposition, or anyone the State wishes to silence.