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Over 300 survivors and descendants of survivors of the victims of Nazi genocide condemn Israel's assault on Gaza

August 23rd, 2014

By Global research

313 Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide have signed this letter written in response to Elie Wiesel’s manipulation of the Nazi Genocide to attempt to justify the attacks on Gaza.

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

Signed,

Survivors:

  • Hajo Meyer, survivor of Auschwitz, The Netherlands.
  • Henri Wajnblum, survivor and son of a victim of Auschwitz from Lodz, Poland. Lives in Belgium.
  • Renate Bridenthal, child refugee from Hitler, granddaughter of Auschwitz victim, United States.
  • Marianka Ehrlich Ross, survivor of Nazi ethnic cleansing in Vienna, Austria. Now lives in United States.
  • Irena Klepfisz, child survivor from the Warsaw Ghetto, Poland. Now lives in United States.
  • Hedy Epstein, her parents & other family members were deported to Camp de Gurs & subsequently all perished in Auschwitz. Now lives in United States.
  • Lillian Rosengarten, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, United States.
  • Suzanne Weiss, survived in hiding in France, and daughter of a mother who was murdered in Auschwitz. Now lives in Canada.
  • H. Richard Leuchtag, survivor, United States.
  • Ervin Somogyi, survivor and son of survivors, United States.
  • Ilse Hadda, survivor on Kindertransport to England. Now lives in United States.
  • Jacques Glaser, survivor, France.
  • Norbert Hirschhorn, refugee of Nazi genocide and grandson of three grandparents who died in the Shoah, London.
  • Eva Naylor, surivor, New Zealand.
  • Suzanne Ross, child refugee from Nazi occupation in Belgium, two thirds of family perished in the Lodz Ghetto, in Auschwitz, and other Camps, United States.
  • Bernard Swierszcz, Polish survivor, lost relatives in Majdanek concentration camp. Now lives in the United States.
  • Joseph Klinkov, hidden child in Poland, still lives in Poland.
  • Nicole Milner, survivor from Belgium. Now lives in United States.
  • Hedi Saraf, child survivor and daughter of survivor of Dachau, United States.
  • Michael Rice, child survivor, son and grandson of survivor, aunt and cousin murderd, ALL 14 remaining Jewish children in my Dutch boarding school were murdered in concentration camps, United States.
  • Barbara Roose, survivor from Germany, half-sister killed in Auschwitz, United States.
  • Sonia Herzbrun, survivor of Nazi genocide, France.
  • Ivan Huber, survivor with my parents, but 3 of 4 grandparents murdered, United States.
  • Altman Janina, survivor of Janowski concentration camp, Lvov. Lives in Israel.
  • Leibu Strul Zalman, survivor from Vaslui Romania. Lives in Jerusalem, Palestine.
  • Miriam Almeleh, survivor, United States.
  • George Bartenieff, child survivor from Germany and son of survivors, United States.
  • Margarete Liebstaedter, survivor, hidden by Christian people in Holland. Lives in Belgium.
  • Edith Bell, survivor of Westerbork, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Kurzbach. Lives in United States.
  • Janine Euvrard, survivor, France.
  • Harry Halbreich, survivor, German.
  • Ruth Kupferschmidt, survivor, spent five years hiding, The Netherlands.
  • Annette Herskovits, PhD, hidden child and daughter of victims, United States.
  • Felicia & Moshe Langer, survivors from Germany, Moshe survived 5 concentration camps, family members were exterminated. Live in Germany.
  • Adam Policzer, hidden child from Hungary. Now lives in Canada.
  • Juliane Biro, survivor via the Kindertransport to England, daughter of survivors, niece of victims, United States.
  • Edith Rubinstein, child refugee, granddaughter of 3 victims, many other family members were victims, Belgium.
  • Jacques Bude, survivor, mother and father murdered in Auschwitz, Belgium.
  • Nicole Kahn, survivor, France.

Children of survivors:

  • Liliana Kaczerginski, daughter of Vilna ghetto resistance fighter and granddaughter of murdered in Ponary woods, Lithuania. Now lives in France.
  • Jean-Claude Meyer, son of Marcel, shot as a hostage by the Nazis, whose sister and parents died in Auschwitz. Now lives in France.
  • Chava Finkler, daughter of survivor of Starachovice labour camp, Poland. Now lives in Canada.
  • Micah Bazant, child of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Sylvia Schwarz, daughter and granddaughter of survivors and granddaughter of victims of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Margot Goldstein, daughter and granddaughter of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Ellen Schwarz Wasfi, daughter of survivors from Vienna, Austria. Now lives in United States.
  • Lisa Kosowski, daughter of survivor and granddaughter of Auschwitz victims, United States.
  • Daniel Strum, son of a refugee from Vienna, who, with his parents were forced to flee in 1939, his maternal grand-parents were lost, United States.
  • Bruce Ballin, son of survivors, some relatives of parents died in camps, one relative beheaded for being in the Baum Resistance Group, United States.
  • Rachel Duell, daughter of survivors from Germany and Poland, United States.
  • Tom Mayer, son of survivor and grandson of victims, United States.
  • Alex Nissen, daughter of survivors who escaped but lost family in the Holocaust, United States.
  • Mark Aleshnick, son of survivor who lost most of her family in Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Prof. Haim Bresheeth, son of two survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, London.
  • Todd Michael Edelman, son and grandson of survivors and great-grandson of victims of the Nazi genocide in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, United States.
  • Tim Naylor, son of survivor, New Zealand.
  • Victor Nepomnyashchy, son and grandson of survivors and grandson and relative of many victims, United States.
  • Tanya Ury, daughter of parents who fled Nazi Germany, granddaughter, great granddaugher and niece of survivors and those who died in concentration camps, Germany.
  • Rachel Giora, daughter of Polish Jews who fled Poland, Israel.
  • Jane Hirschmann, daughter of survivors, United States.
  • Jenny Heinz, daughter of survivor, United States.
  • Jaap Hamburger, son of survivors and grandchild of 4 grandparents murdered in Auschwitz, The Netherlands.
  • Elsa Auerbach, daughter of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, United States.
  • Julian Clegg, son and grandson of Austrian refugees, relative of Austrian and Hungarian concentration camp victims, Taiwan.
  • David Mizner, son of a survivor, relative of people who died in the Holocaust, United States.
  • Jeffrey J. Westcott, son and grandson of Holocaust survivors from Germany, United States.
  • Susan K. Jacoby, daughter of parents who were refugees from Nazi Germany, granddaughter of survivor of Buchenwald, United States.
  • Audrey Bomse, daughter of a survivor of Nazi ethnic cleansing in Vienna, lives in United States.
  • Daniel Gottschalk, son and grandson of refugees from the Holocaust, relative to various family members who died in the Holocaust, United States.
  • Barbara Grossman, daughter of survivors, granddaughter of Holocaust victims, United States.
  • Abraham Weizfeld PhD, son of survivorswho escaped Warsaw (Jewish Bundist) and Lublin ghettos, Canada.
  • David Rohrlich, son of refugees from Vienna, grandson of victim, United States.
  • Walter Ballin, son of holocaust survivors, United States.
  • Fritzi Ross, daughter of survivor, granddaughter of Dachau survivor Hugo Rosenbaum, great-granddaughter and great-niece of victims, United States.
  • Reuben Roth, son of survivors who fled from Poland in 1939, Canada.
  • Tony Iltis, father fled from Czechoslovakia and grandmother murdered in Auschwitz, Australia.
  • Anne Hudes, daughter and granddaughter of survivors from Vienna, Austria, great-granddaughter of victims who perished in Auschwitz, United States.
  • Mateo Nube, son of survivor from Berlin, Germany. Lives in United States.
  • John Mifsud, son of survivors from Malta, United States.
  • Mike Okrent, son of two holocaust / concentration camp survivors, United States.
  • Susan Bailey, daughter of survivor and niece of victims, UK.
  • Brenda Lewis, child of Kindertransport survivor, parent’s family died in Auschwitz and Terezin. Lives in Canada.
  • Patricia Rincon-Mautner, daughter of survivor and granddaughter of survivor, Colombia.
  • Barak Michèle, daughter and grand-daughter of a survivor, many members of family were killed in Auschwitz or Bessarabia. Lives in Germany.
  • Jessica Blatt, daughter of child refugee survivor, both grandparents’ entire families killed in Poland. Lives in United States
  • Maia Ettinger, daughter & granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Ammiel Alcalay, child of survivors from then Yugoslavia. Lives in United States.
  • Julie Deborah Kosowski, daughter of hidden child survivor, grandparents did not return from Auschwitz, United States.
  • Julia Shpirt, daughter of survivor, United States.
  • Ruben Rosenberg Colorni, grandson and son of survivors, The Netherlands.
  • Victor Ginsburgh, son of survivors, Belgium.
  • Arianne Sved, daughter of a survivor and granddaughter of victim, Spain.
  • Rolf Verleger, son of survivors, father survived Auschwitz, mother survived deportation from Berlin to Estonia, other family did not survive. Lives in Germany.
  • Euvrard Janine, daughter of survivors, France.
  • H. Fleishon, daughter of survivors, United States.
  • Barbara Meyer, daughter of survivor in Polish concentration camps. Lives in Italy.
  • Susan Heuman, child of survivors and granddaughter of two grandparents murdered in a forest in Minsk. Lives in United States.
  • Rami Heled, son of survivors, all grandparents and family killed by the Germans in Treblinka, Oswiecim and Russia. Lives in Israel.
  • Eitan Altman, son of survivor, France.
  • Jorge Sved, son of survivor and grandson of victim, United Kingdom
  • Maria Kruczkowska, daughter of Lea Horowicz who survived the holocaust in Poland. Lives in Poland.
  • Sarah Lanzman, daughter of survivor of Auschwitz, United States.
  • Cheryl W, daughter, granddaughter and nieces of survivors, grandfather was a member of the Dutch Underground (Eindhoven). Lives in Australia.
  • Chris Holmquist, son of survivor, UK.
  • Beverly Stuart, daughter and granddaughter of survivors from Romania and Poland. Lives in United States.
  • Peter Truskier, son and grandson of survivors, United States.
  • Karen Bermann, daughter of a child refugee from Vienna. Lives in United States.
  • Rebecca Weston, daughter and granddaughter of survivor, Spain.
  • Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky, daughter of Holocaust survivors, London, UK.
  • Marion Geller, daughter and granddaughter of those who escaped, great-granddaughter and relative of many who died in the camps, UK.
  • Susan Slyomovics, daughter and granddaughter of survivors of Auschwitz, Plaszow, Markleeberg and Ghetto Mateszalka, United States.
  • Helga Fischer Mankovitz, daughter, niece and cousin of refugees who fled from Austria, niece of victim who perished, Canada.
  • Michael Wischnia, son of survivors and relative of many who perished, United States.
  • Arthur Graaff, son of decorated Dutch resistance member and nazi victim, The Netherlands.
  • Yael Kahn, daughter of survivors who escaped Nazi Germany, many relatives that perished, UK.
  • Pierre Stambul, son of French resistance fighters, father deported to Buchenwalk, grandparents disapeared in Bessarabia, France.
  • Georges Gumpel, son of a deportee who died at Melk, Austria (subcamp of Mauthausen), France.
  • Emma Kronberg, daughter of survivor Buchenwald, United States.
  • Hannah Schwarzschild, daughter of a refugee who escaped Nazi Germany after experiencing Kristallnacht, United States.
  • Rubin Kantorovich, son of a survivor, Canada.
  • Daniele Armaleo, son of German refugee, grandparents perished in Theresienstadt, United States.
  • Aminda Stern Baird, daughter of survivor, United States.
  • Ana Policzer, daughter of hidden child, granddaughter of victim, niece/grandniece of four victims and two survivors, Canada.
  • Sara Castaldo, daughter of survivors, United States.
  • Pablo Policzer, son of a survivor, Canada.
  • Gail Nestel, daughter of survivors who lost brothers, sisters, parents and cousins, Canada.
  • Elizabeth Heineman, daughter and niece of unaccompanied child refugees, granddaughter of survivors, great-granddaughter and grand-niece of victims, United States.
  • Lainie Magidsohn, daughter of child survivor and numerous other relatives from Czestochowa, Poland. Lives in Canada.
  • Doris Gelbman, daughter and granddaughter of survivors, granddaughter and niece of many who perished, United States.
  • Erna Lund, daughter of survivor, Norway.
  • Rayah Feldman, daughter of refugees, granddaughter and niece of victims and survivors, UK.
  • Hadas Rivera-Weiss, daughter of survivors from Hungary, mother Ruchel Weiss née Abramovich and father Shaya Weiss, United States.
  • Pedro Tabensky, son of survivor of the Budapest Ghetto, South Africa.
  • Allan Kolski Horwitz, son of a survivor; descendant of many, many victims, South Africa.
  • Monique Mojica, child of survivor, relative to many victims murdered in Auschwitz. Canada.
  • Mike Brecher, son of a Kindertransport survivor and grandson of two who did not survive. UK.

Grandchildren of survivors

  • Raphael Cohen, grandson of Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Emma Rubin, granddaughter of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Alex Safron, grandson of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Danielle Feris, grandchild of a Polish grandmother whose whole family died in the Nazi Holocaust, United States.
  • Jesse Strauss, grandson of Polish survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Anna Baltzer, granddaughter of survivors whose family members perished in Auschwitz (others were members of the Belgian Resistance), United States.
  • Abigail Harms, granddaughter of Holocaust survivor from Austria, Now lives in United States.
  • Tessa Strauss, granddaughter of Polish Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Caroline Picker, granddaughter of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Amalle Dublon, grandchild and great-grandchild of survivors of the Nazi holocaust, United States.
  • Antonie Kaufmann Churg, 3rd cousin of Ann Frank and grand-daughter of NON-survivors, United States.
  • Aliza Shvarts, granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Linda Mamoun, granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Abby Okrent, granddaughter of survivors of the Auschwitz, Dachau, Stuttgart, and the Lodz Ghetto, United States.
  • Ted Auerbach, grandson of survivor whose whole family died in the Holocaust, United States.
  • Beth Bruch, grandchild of German Jews who fled to US and great-grandchild of Nazi holocaust survivor, United States.
  • Bob Wilson, grandson of a survivor, United States.
  • Katharine Wallerstein, granddaughter of survivors and relative of many who perished, United States.
  • Sylvia Finzi, granddaughter and niece of Holocaust victims murdered in Auschwitz, London and Berlin. Now lives in London.
  • Esteban Schmelz, grandson of KZ-Theresienstadt victim, Mexico City.
  • Françoise Basch, grand daughter of Victor and Ilona Basch murdered by the Gestapo and the French Milice, France.
  • Gabriel Alkon, grandson of Holocaust survivors, Untied States.
  • Nirit Ben-Ari, grandchild of Polish grandparents from both sides whose entire family was killed in the Nazi Holocaust, United States.
  • Heike Schotten, granddaughter of refugees from Nazi Germany who escaped the genocide, United States.
  • Ike af Carlstèn, grandson of survivor, Norway.
  • Elias Lazarus, grandson of Holocaust refugees from Dresden, United States and Australia.
  • Laura Mandelberg, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, United States.
  • Josh Ruebner, grandson of Nazi Holocaust survivors, United States.
  • Shirley Feldman, granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Nuno Cesar Ferreira, grandson of survivor, Brazil.
  • Andrea Land, granddaugher of survivors who fled programs in Poland, all European relatives died in German and Polish concentration camps, United States.
  • Sarah Goldman, granddaughter of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Baruch Wolski, grandson of survivors, Austria.
  • Frank Amahran, grandson of survivor, United States.
  • Eve Spangler, granddaughter of Holocaust NON-survivor, United States.
  • Gil Medovoy, grandchild of Fela Hornstein who lost her enitre family in Poland during the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Michael Hoffman, grandson of survivors, rest of family killed in Poland during Holocaust, live in El Salvador.
  • Sarah Hogarth, granddaughter of a survivor whose entire family was killed at Auschwitz, United States.
  • Tibby Brooks, granddaughter, niece, and cousin of victims of Nazis in Ukraine. Lives in United States.
  • Dan Berger, grandson of survivor, United States.
  • Dani Baurer, granddaughter of Baruch Pollack, survivor of Auschwitz. Lives in United States.
  • Talia Baurer, granddaughter of a survivor, United States.
  • Evan Cofsky, grandson of survivor, UK.
  • Annie Sicherman, granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Anna Heyman, granddaughter of survivors, UK.
  • Maya Ober, granddaughter of survivor and relative of deceased in Teresienstadt and Auschwitz, Tel Aviv.
  • Anne Haan, granddaughter of Joseph Slagter, survivor of Auschwitz. Lives in The Netherlands.
  • Oliver Ginsberg, grandson of victim, Germany.
  • Alexia Zdral, granddaughter of Polish survivors, United States.
  • Mitchel Bollag, grandson of Stanislaus Eisner, who was living in Czechoslovakia before being sent to a concentration camp. United States.
  • Vivienne Porzsolt, granddaughter of victims of Nazi genocide, Australia.
  • Lisa Nessan, granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Kally Alexandrou, granddaughter of survivors, Australia.
  • Laura Ostrow, granddaughter of survivors, United States
  • Anette Jacobson, granddaughter of relatives killed, town of Kamen Kashirsk, Poland. Lives in United States.
  • Tamar Yaron (Teresa Werner), granddaughter and niece of victims of the Nazi genocide in Poland, Israel.
  • Antonio Roman-Alcalá, grandson of survivor, United States.
  • Jeremy Luban, grandson of survivor, United States.
  • Heather West, granddaughter of survivors and relative of other victims, United States.
  • Jeff Ethan Au Green, grandson of survivor who escaped from a Nazi work camp and hid in the Polish-Ukranian forest, United States.
  • Johanna Haan, daughter and granddaughter of victims in the Netherlands. Lives in the Netherlands.
  • Aron Ben Miriam, son of and nephew of survivors from Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Salzwedel, Lodz ghetto. Lives in United States.
  • Noa Shaindlinger, granddaughter of four holocaust survivors, Canada.
  • Merilyn Moos, granddaughter, cousin and niece murdered victims, UK.
  • Ruth Tenne, granddaughter and relative of those who perished in Warsaw Ghetto, London.
  • Craig Berman, grandson of Holocaust survivors, UK.
  • Nell Hirschmann-Levy, granddaughter of survivors from Germany. Lives in United States.
  • Osha Neumann, grandson of Gertrud Neumann who died in Theresienstadt. Lives in United States.
  • Georg Frankl, Grandson of survivor Ernst-Immo Frankl who survived German work camp. Lives in Germany.
  • Julian Drix, grandson of two survivors from Poland, including survivor and escapee from liquidated Janowska concentration camp in Lwow, Poland. Lives in United States.
  • Katrina Mayer, grandson and relative of victims, UK.
  • Avigail Abarbanel, granddaughter of survivors, Scotland.
  • Denni Turp, granddaughter of Michael Prooth, survivor, UK.
  • Fenya Fischler, granddaughter of survivors, UK.
  • Yakira Teitel, granddaughter of German Jewish refugees, great-granddaughter of survivor, United States.
  • Sarah, granddaughter of survivor, the Netherlands.
  • Susan Koppelman, granddaughter of survivor, United States
  • Hana Umeda, granddaughter of survivor, Warsaw.
  • Jordan Silverstein, grandson of two survivors, Canada.
  • Daniela Petuchowski, granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Aaron Lerner, grandson of survivors, United States.
  • Judith Bernstein, granddaughter of Holocaust victims in Auschwitz, Germany.
  • Samantha Wischnia, granddaughter and great niece of survivors from Poland, United States.
  • Elizabeth Wischnia, granddaughter and grand niece of three holocaust survivors, great aunt worked for Schindler, United States.
  • Daniel Waterman, grandson of survivor, The Netherlands.
  • Elana Baurer, granddaughter of survivor, United States.
  • Pablo Roman-Alcala, grandson of participant in the kindertransport and survivor, Germany.
  • Karine Abdel Malek, grandchild of survivor, Henri Waisman, Morocco.
  • Elana Baurer, granddaughter of survivor, United States.
  • Lillian Brown, granddaughter of survivor, United States.
  • Devin Cahn, grandson of survivors, United States.
  • Daniel Lévyne, grandson of a deportee, France.
  • Emilie Ferreira, granddaughter of survivors, Switzerland.
  • Chaim Neslen, grandchild of many victims and friend of many survivors, UK.
  • Ann Jungmann, granddaughter to three victims, UK.
  • Ellie Schling, granddaughter of a survivor, UK.
  • Danny Katch, grandson of survivors, United States.
  • Elisa Levi, granddaughter of three survivors, United States.
  • Karen Pomer, granddaughter of member of Dutch resistance and survivor of Bergen Belsen. Now lives in the United States.
  • Gilda Mitchell Katz, granddaughter of survivors, uncle and aunt killed In Dombrova, Canada.
  • Smadar Carmon, my grandparents and uncle were killed in the camps, Canada.
  • Dana Newfield, granddaughter of survivor and relative of many murdered, United States.
  • Ilana Guslits, granddaughter of two Polish survivors, Canada.
  • Gerald Coles-Kolsky, grandson of victims in Poland and France, United States.
  • Lesley Swain, granddaughter and cousin of survivors, UK.
  • Myera Waese, granddaughter of survivors of Bergen Belsen, Canada.
  • Ronni Seidman, grandchild of survivors. United States.
  • Mike Shatzkin, grandchild of survivors, some family members murdered and some who died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. United States.
  • Nance Shatzkin, grandchild of survivors, some family members murdered and some who died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. United States.
  • Karen Shatzkin, grandchild of survivors, some family members murdered and some who died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. United States.
  • Myriam Burger, granddaughter of survivor. United States.
  • Andre Burger, grandson of survivor Myriam Cohn, great-grandson of Sylvia Cohn and great-nephew of Esther Lore Cohn, both murdered in Auschwitz, United States.

Great-grandchildren of survivors

  • Natalie Rothman, great granddaughter of Holocaust victims in Warsaw. Now lives in Canada.
  • Yotam Amit, great-grandson of Polish Jew who fled Poland, United States.
  • Daniel Boyarin, great grandson of victims of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Maria Luban, great-granddaughter of survivors of the Holocaust, United States.
  • Mimi Erlich, great-granddaughter of Holocaust victim, United States.
  • Olivia Kraus, great-grandaughter of victims, granddaughter and daughter of family that fled Austria and Czechoslovakia. Lives in United States.
  • Emily (Chisefsky) Alma, great granddaughter and great grandniece of victims in Bialystok, Poland, United States.
  • Inbal Amin, great-granddaughter of a mother and son that escaped and related to plenty that didn’t, United States.
  • Matteo Luban, great-granddaughter of survivors, United States.
  • Saira Weiner, greatgranddaughter and niece of those murdered in the Holocaust, granddaughter of survivors, UK.
  • Andrea Isaak, great-granddaughter of survivor, Canada.
  • Alan Lott, great-grandson of a number of relatives lost, United States.
  • Sara Wines, great-granddaughter of a survivor and great-great granddaughter of victims, United States.

Other relatives of survivors

  • Terri Ginsberg, niece of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Nathan Pollack, relative of Holocaust survivors and victims, United States.
  • Marcy Winograd, relatives of victims, United States.
  • Rabbi Borukh Goldberg, relative of many victims, United States.
  • Martin Davidson, great-nephew of victims who lived in the Netherlands, Spain.
  • Miriam Pickens, relative of survivors, United States.
  • Dorothy Werner, spouse of survivor, United States.
  • Hyman and Hazel Rochman, relatives of Holocaust victims, United States.
  • Rich Siegel, cousin of victims who were rounded up and shot in town square of Czestochowa, Poland. Lives in United States.
  • Ignacio Israel Cruz-Lara, relative of survivor, Mexico.
  • Debra Stuckgold, relative of survivors, United States.
  • Joel Kovel, relatives killed at Babi Yar, United States.
  • Carol Krauthamer Smith, niece of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States.
  • Chandra Ahuva Hauptman, relatives from grandfather’s family died in Lodz ghetto, one survivor cousin and many deceased from Auschwitz, United States.
  • Shelly Weiss, relative of Holocaust victims, United States.
  • Carol Sanders, niece and cousin of victims of Holocaust in Poland, United States.
  • Sandra Rosen, great-niece and cousin of survivors, United States.
  • Raquel Hiller, relative of victims in Poland. Now lives in Mexico.
  • Alex Kantrowitz, most of father’s family murdered Nesvizh, Belarus 1941. Lives in United States.
  • Michael Steven Smith, many relatives were killed in Hungary. Lives in United States.
  • Linda Moore, relative of survivors and victims, United States.
  • Juliet VanEenwyk, niece and cousin of Hungarian survivors, United States.
  • Anya Achtenberg, grand niece, niece, cousin of victims tortured and murdered in Ukraine. Lives in United States.
  • Betsy Wolf-Graves, great niece of uncle who shot himself as he was about to be arrested by Nazis, United States.
  • Abecassis Pierre, grand-uncle died in concentration camp, France.
  • Robert Rosenthal, great-nephew and cousin of survivors from Poland. Lives in United States.
  • Régine Bohar, relative of victims sent to Auschwitz, Canada.
  • Denise Rickles, relative of survivors and victims in Poland. Lives in United States.
  • Louis Hirsch, relative of victims, United States.
  • Concepción Marcos, relative of victim, Spain.
  • George Sved, relative of victim, Spain.
  • Judith Berlowitz, relative of victims and survivors, United States.
  • Rebecca Sturgeon, descendant of Holocaust survivor from Amsterdam. Lives in UK.
  • Justin Levy, relative of victims and survivors, Ireland.
  • Sam Semoff, relative of survivors and victims, UK.
  • Leah Brown Klein, daughter-in-law of survivors Miki and Etu Fixler Klein, United States
  • Karen Malpede, spouse of hidden child who then fled Germany. Lives in United States
  • Michel Euvrard, husband of survivor, France.
  • Walter Ebmeyer, grandnephew of three Auschwitz victims and one survivor now living in Jerusalem, United States.
  • Garrett Wright, relative of victims and survivors, United States.
  • Lynne Lopez-Salzedo, descendant of three Auschwitz victims, United States.
  • Renee Leavy, 86 victims in my mother’s family, United States.
  • Steven Kohn, 182 victims in my grandparents’ families, United States.
  • Dorah Rosen Shuey, relative of many victims and 4 survivors, United States.
  • Carol Lipton, cousin of survivors, United States.
  • Catherine Bruckner, descendent of Czech Jewish victims of the holocaust, UK.
  • Susan Rae Goldstein, carrying the name of my great-aunt Rose Frankel, from Poland and murdered along with many other family members, Canada.
  • Jordan Elgrably, nephew of Marcelle Elgrably, killed in Auschwitz, United States.
  • Olivia M Hudis, relative of Auschwitz victims, United States.
  • Peter Finkelstein, relative of victims and survivors, Germany.
  • Colin Merrin, descendant of Polish and Belarusian Jewish victims, UK.

Debunking propaganda about Israel apartheid

July 26th, 2014

By Waleed Ahmed

This series about Israeli Apartheid Week Talking About Israeli Apartheid Week has served to provide an in depth understanding of the issues surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict. Here are seven frequently asked questions about Israel apartheid that aim to guide understanding and debunk propaganda myths about Israeli apartheid.

We hope you enjoyed Talking About Israeli Apartheid Week and encourage you to view the entire contents of this serieshere.

Frequently asked questions about Israeli apartheid

1. But Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East! Arabs even serve in the Israeli cabinet and have rights to vote just like Jews! How's this apartheid?

America was a democracy while it practiced slavery; and practiced racial segregation long after that. Just because Israel has a quasi-democracy within its recognized borders doesn't mean it can't implement apartheid at the same time.

In addition, the apartheid policies are primarily implemented by Israel in the Palestinian territories. None of the rights and privileges you mention are extended to Palestinians under occupation. As indicated earlier, Israel quite blatantly maintains a racist regime in the occupied territories. Please refer to part II and part III of the series.

 

2.. In South Africa there were 'white-only' beaches and numerous other facilities reserved for whites only. You don't see any such signage or rules in the case of Israeli apartheid. Your analogy is flawed.

It is important to recognize that apartheid is not a mere analogy. It is defined specifically as a crime against humanity under international law. Some dismiss the charge of Israeli apartheid simply because of the differences with South African apartheid. It is important to recognize that both regimes had their unique features and both constitute apartheid independent of each other.

In addition, in many cases Israeli apartheid could be considered far worse. While South Africa had 'white-only' beaches, Israel has allocated entire colonies for exclusive Jewish use in Palestine. Schools, parks, roads and hospitals are all 'Jewish-only.' There might not be signage to say this in large font, but only Jews are allowed to live and reside in these areas -- despite them being in occupied Palestinian land.

 

3. Palestinians live under such deplorable conditions because they are ruled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The PA is corrupt and fails to provide its people a decent standard of living. Israel has nothing to do with the OPT.

Palestinians aren't ruled by the PA. They are under Israeli military occupation since in 1967. Every aspect of their life is subject to rules set by the Israeli military. Since 1993, Israel has transferred some of the administrative responsibilities to the PA. However, this is should not be confused for autonomous rule. Even officials of the PA can be arrested by Israel and need Israel approval before making many decisions. The PA basically gives the illusion of a Palestinian self-government while all the power is still in Israeli hands.

The West Bank is divided into three categories of administration:

Area A (18 per cent of West Bank) -- Military and Administrative control is under Palestinian control. This area includes the main Palestinians cities. The Israeli army still accesses this area to conduct raids and other operations.

Area B (22 per cent of West Bank) -- Administrative responsibilities under Palestinian Control, Military control is under Israel.

Area C (60 per cent of West Bank) -- Both Administration and Military is under Israeli control.

Thus, it should be clear that West Bank is far from being an autonomous state. It is still has no sense of self-determination and is at the complete disposal of Israel. Hence, Israel is free to build Jewish colonies, apartheid roads, control water supply etc.

 

4. Why do you keep calling Gaza as Occupied Territory? Israel evacuated the strip in 2007 and it's under Hamas control. Israel bears no responsibility.

Gaza is still considered occupied territory under international law. Israel has not granted it independence; it has simply relocated its military to the borders and has implemented a brutal siege. Israel has blocked land, air and water access to Gaza -- nothing can go in or out. It's the world's largest open air prison. Israel regularly conducts raids in the strip and shoots innocent civilians who dare to go close to the border regions. See more on the Israeli blockade to learn how Israel still controls every aspect of Gazans and has made the strip inhospitable.

 

5. Palestinians needs to recognize Israel's right to exist before the peace process can move forward.

Palestinians recognized Israel in 1993 when they signed the Oslo Accords with Israel. How much more recognition does Israel want? Is signing a treaty not sufficient? This superficial demand is just an excuse to block the peace process and prolong the occupation.

 

6. Gaza is ruled by Hamas which has been declared to be a terrorist organization. It is always launching rockets at Israel and Israel thus has the right to defend itself.

Nelson Mandela's ANC was also declared to be a terrorist organization by the West for waging an armed struggle against apartheid. In fact, Mandela was only taken off the terrorist list recently. Declaring someone to be a terrorist doesn't mean they are necessarily one; these are just propaganda tactics employed to skew the reality.

Hamas was elected democratically by Gazans and it has been under a severe siege since; Hamas' actions are defensive as it is trying to fight foreign occupation. Hamas is to be condemned when it targets civilians; however, Israel also needs to be condemned for the prolonged occupation which gives rise to violent resistance in the first place. The vast majority of Palestinians support non-violent resistance; as best indicated by the hunger strikes by hundreds of innocent Palestinians locked up in Israeli jails.

 

7. If Israel gives Palestinians freedom, they will take over Israel, outnumber Jews and eliminate the Jewish State!

These types of nonsense arguments were used by racist Americans when they tried banning slavery; 'If we give blacks freedom, they will buy guns and shoot us!' Making such statements is just that: racist and nonsense.

Waleed Ahmed is a freelance writer based out of Toronto. He enjoys writing about current affairs, human rights and religion.

Photo: flickr/Wall in Palestine

Check out the entire Talking About Israeli Apartheid Series.

Apartheid Israel doesnt speak for us

July 24th, 2014

July 24, 2014

As the people of Gaza face the Israeli government's latest barbaric assault, activists around the world are seeking ways to show solidarity with the Palestinians and voice their outrage. Jews for Palestinian Right of Return is circulating this petition to send a message.

San Francisco marchers show their solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza (Jeremy Tully | SW)

ON JULY 12, 2014, Gaza civil society issued an urgent appeal for solidarity, asking: "How many of our lives are dispensable enough until the world takes action? How much of our blood is sufficient?"

As Jews of conscience, we answer by unequivocally condemning Israel's ongoing massacre in Gaza, whose victims include hundreds of civilians, children, entire families, the elderly and the disabled. This latest toll adds to the thousands Israel has killed and maimed since its supposed withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

In response to this crisis, we urgently reaffirm our support for a ban on all military and other aid to Israel.

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. opposed the Vietnam War with his famous declaration: "For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."

Today, we cannot be silent as the "Jewish state"--armed to the teeth by the U.S. and its allies--wages yet another brutal war on the Palestinian people. Apartheid Israel does not speak for us, and we stand with Gaza as we stand with all of Palestine.

In the face of incessant pro-Israel propaganda, we heed Malcolm X's warning: "If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."

For Israel's relentless war on Gaza is no more an act of "self-defense" than such infamous massacres as Wounded Knee (1890), Guernica (1937), the Warsaw Ghetto (1942), Deir Yassin (1948), My Lai (1968), Soweto (1976), Sabra and Shatila (1982) or Lebanon (2006).

Rather, it is but the latest chapter in more than a century of Zionist colonialism, dispossession, ethnic cleaning, racism and genocide--including Israel's very establishment through the uprooting and displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba. Indeed, 80 percent of the 1.8 million people sealed into Gaza are refugees.

Like any colonial regime, Israel uses resistance to such policies as an excuse to terrorize and collectively punish the indigenous population for its very existence. But scattered rockets, fired from Gaza into land stolen from Palestinians in the first place, are merely a response to this systemic injustice.

To confront the root cause of this violence, we call for the complete dismantling of Israel's apartheid regime, throughout historic Palestine--from the River to the Sea. With that in mind, we embrace the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which demands:

-- An end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories
-- Full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel
-- Right of return for Palestinian refugees, as affirmed by UN resolution 194

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Initial Signers
(list in formation; organizations, schools and other affiliations shown for identification only; * indicates co-founder of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return)

Avigail Abarbanel, Psychotherapist; editor, Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists(2012, Cambridge Scholars), Inverness, Scotland
Noa Abend, Boycott From Within
Stephen Aberle, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver, BC
Lisa Albrecht, Ph.D. Social Justice Program, University of Minnesota
Anya Achtenberg, novelist and poet; teacher; activist; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Mike Alewitz, Associate Professor, Central CT State Unversity; Artistic Director, Labor Art & Mural Project
Zalman Amit, Distinguished Professor Emeritus; Author, Israeli Rejectionism
Anthony Arnove, International Socialist Organization
Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Switzerland
Ted Auerbach, Brooklyn for Peace
Anna Baltzer, author and organizer
Ronnie Barkan, Co-founder, Boycott from Within, Tel-Aviv
Judith Bello, Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition
Lawrence Boxall, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada; Vancouver Ecosocialist Group
Linda Benedikt, writer Munich, Germany
Nora Barrows-Friedman, journalist; Oakland
Prof. Jonathan Beller, Humanities and Media Studies Graduate Program in Media Studies, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
Medea Benjamin, co-founder, CODEPINK
Rica Bird, Joint Founder, Merseyside Jews for Peace and Justice
Audrey Bomse, Co-chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee
Prof. Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, UC Berkeley
Lenni Brenner, Author, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators
Elizabeth Block, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto ON
Max Blumenthal, Author, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel; and Senior Writer for Alternet.org
Mary P. Buchwald, Jewish Voice for Peace-New York
Monique Buckner, BDS South Africa
Maia Brown, Health and Human Rights Project-Seattle & Stop Veolia Seattle
Estee Chandler, Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles
Rick Chertoff, L.A. Jews for Peace
Prof. Marjorie Cohn, Thomas Jefferson School of Law; past president, National Lawyers Guild
Ally Cohen, Ramallah, Palestine; International Solidarity Movement media coordinator
Ruben Rosenberg Colorni, Youth for Palestine, Netherlands
Mike Cushman, Convenor, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)
Margaretta D'arcy, Irish actress, writer, playwright, and peace activist
Natalie Zemon Davis, Historian
Warren Davis, labor and political activist, Philadelphia, PA
Eron Davidson, filmmaker
Judith Deutsch, Independent Jewish Voices Canada; Science for Peace
Roger Dittmann, Professor of Physics, Emeritus California State University, Fullerton; President, Scholars and Scientists without Borders Executive Council, World Federation of Scientific Workers
Gordon Doctorow, Ed.D., Canada
Mark Elf, Jews Sans Frontieres, London, UK
Hedy Epstein, Nazi Holocaust survivor and human rights activist; St. Louis, MO
Marla Erlien, New York NY
Shelley Ettinger, writer/activist, New York, NY
Inge Etzbach, Human Rights Activist, Café Palestina NY
Richard Falk, Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University; Former UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, 2008-2014
Malkah B. Feldman, Jewish Voice for Peace and recent delegate to Palestine with American Jews for a Just Peace
Deborah Fink, Co-Founder, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods UK
Joel Finkel, Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago
Sylvia Finzi, JfjfP; Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost, EJJP (Germany)
Maxine Fookson, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; Jewish Voice for Peace, Portland OR
Richard Forer, Author, Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion--A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine
Sid Frankel, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba
Prof. Cynthia Franklin, Co-Editor, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, University of Hawai'i
Racheli Gai, Jewish Voice for Peace
Herb Gamberg, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada
Ruth Gamberg, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada
Lee Gargagliano, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Cheryl Gaster, social justice activist and human right lawyer, Toronto ON
Alisa Gayle-Deutsch, American/Canadian Musician and Anti-Israeli Apartheid Activist
Jack Gegenberg, Professor of Mathematics, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton NB
Prof. Terri Ginsberg, film and media scholar, New York
David Glick, psychotherapist; Jewish Voice for Peace
Sherna Berger Gluck, Emerita Professor, CSULB; Israel Divestment Campaign
Neta Golan, Ramallah, Palestine; Jews Against Genocide; Co-founder, International Solidarity Movement
Tsilli Goldenberg, teacher, Jerusalem, Israel
Steve Goldfield, Ph.D.
Sue Goldstein, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Canada
Marty Goodman, former Executive Board member, Transport Workers Union Local 100; Socialist Action
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Freeman Fellow, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Hector Grad, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Spain
Prof. Jesse Greener, University of Laval
Cathy Gulkin, Filmmaker, Toronto ON
Ira Grupper, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY
Jeff Halper, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
Larry Haiven, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, Halifax
Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, publisher, Germany
Stanley Heller, The Struggle Video News TSVN
Shir Hever, Jewish Voice for Just Peace, Germany
Deborah Hrbek, media and civil rights lawyer, NLG-NYC
Dr. Tikva Honig-Parnass, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Adam Horowitz, Co-Editor, Mondoweiss
Gilad Isaacs, Economist, Wits University.
Selma James, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Jake Javanshir, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto
Riva Joffe, Jews Against Zionism
Val Jonas, attorney, Miami Beach
Sima Kahn, MD; President of the board, Kadima Reconstructionist Community
Yael Kahn, Israeli anti-apartheid activist
Michael Kalmanovitz, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (UK)
Dan Kaplan, AFT Local 1493
Susan Kaplan, J.D. National Lawyers Guild
Danny Katch, activist and author
Bruce Katz, President, Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), Montreal, Canada
Lynn Kessler, Ph.D., MPH, psychologist/social justice activist
Janet Klecker, Sonomans for Justice & Peace for Palestine, Sonoma CA
Prof. David Klein, California State University, Northridge; USACBI
Emma Klein, Jewish Voice for Peace, Seattle WA
Sara Kershnar, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Harry Kopyto, Legal activist, Toronto ON
Richard Koritz, veteran postal trade unionist and former member of North Carolina Human Relations Commission
Yael Korin, PhD., Scientist at UCLA; Campaign to End Israel Apartheid, Southern California
Dennis Kortheuer, CSULB, Israel Divestment Campaign
Steve Kowit, Professor Emeritus, Jewish Voice for Peace
Toby Kramer, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Jason Kunin, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Dr. David Landy, Trinity College, Dublin
Jean Léger, Coalition pour la Justice et la Paix en Palestine, membre de la Coalition BDS Québec et de Palestiniens et Juifs Unis
Lynda Lemberg, Educators for Peace and Justice, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto ON
David Letwin,* activist and teacher, Al-Awda NY
Michael Letwin,* former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325; USACBI; Al-Awda NY
Les Levidow, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), UK
Corey Levine, Human Rights Activist, Writer; National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Joseph Levine, Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Lesley Levy, Independent Jewish Voices, Montreal
Mich Levy, teacher, Oakland CA
Abby Lippman, Professor Emerita; activist; Montreal
Brooke Lober, PhD candidate, University of Arizona, Gender and Women's Studies Department
Antony Loewenstein, journalist, author and Guardian columnist
Jennifer Loewenstein, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Alex Lubin, Professor of American Studies, University of New Mexico
Andrew Lugg, Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa, Canada
David Makofsky, Jewish Voice for Peace, Research Anthropologist
Harriet Malinowitz, Professor of English, Long Island University, Brooklyn
Mike Marqusee, Author, If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew
Miriam Marton, JD
Dr. Richard Matthews, independent scholar, London ON
Daniel L. Meyers, Former President National Lawyers Guild-NYC
Linda Milazzo, Writer/Activist/Educator, Los Angeles
Eva Steiner Moseley, Holocaust refugee, Massachusetts Peace Action board member and Palestine/Israel Working Group
Dr. Dorothy Naor, retired teacher, Herzliah, Israel
Marcy Newman, independent scholar; Author; The Politics of Teaching Palestine to Americans
Alex Nissen, Women in Black
Dr. Judith Norman, San Antonio, TX
Henry Norr, retired journalist, Berkeley CA
Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist Terror
Prof. Bertell Ollman, NYU
Karin Pally, Santa Monica, CA
Prof. Ilan Pappé, Israeli historian and socialist activist
Karen Platt, Jewish Voice for Peace, Albany CA
Dr. Susan Pashkoff, Jews Against Zionism, London UK
Miko Peled, writer, activist; Author, The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
Prof. Gabriel Piterberg, UCLA
Mitch Podolak, Founder, Winnipeg Folk Festival and Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Karen Pomer,* granddaughter of Henri B. van Leeuwen, Dutch anti-Zionist leader and Bergen-Belsen survivor
Lenny Potash, Los Angeles CA
Fabienne Presentey, Independent Jewish Voices, Montréal
Diana Ralph, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, London
Karen Ranucci, Independent Journalist, Democracy Now!
Ana Ratner, Artist, Puppeteer, Activist
Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights
Prof. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin, Jewish Voice Germany
Diana M.A. Relke, Professor Emerita, University of Saskatchewan
Prof. Bruce Robbins, Columbia University
Stewart M. Robinson, retired Prof of Mathematics
Professor Lisa Rofel, University of California, Santa Cruz
Mimi Rosenberg, Producer & Host, Building Bridges and Wednesday Edition, WBAI 99.5 FM; Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Lillian Rosengarten, Author, From the Shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish Boat to Gaza
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
Yehoahua Rosin, Israel
Ilana Rossoff, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Martha Roth, Independent Jewish Voices; Vancouver BC
Marty Roth, Emeritus professor of English, University of Minnesota
Ruben Roth, Assistant Professor, Labour Studies, Laurentian University; Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Emma Rubin, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Cheryl A. Rubenberg, Middle East Scholar; Editor, Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; Author, The Palestinians in Search of a Just Peace
Josh Ruebner, Author, Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Mark Rudd, retired teacher, Albuquerque NM
Ben Saifer, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Evalyn Segal, Rossmoor Senior Community
Sylvia Schwarz, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League; Haifa
Carole Seligman, co-editor, Socialist Viewpoint magazine
Yom Shamash, Independent Jewish Voices, Vancouver, Canada
Tali Shapiro, Boycott from Within; Israel
Karen Shenfeld, Poet, Toronto ON
Sid Shniad, National Steering Committee, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
William Shookhoff, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto ON
Melinda Smith, Jewish Voice for Peace, Albuquerque NM
Kobi Snitz, Tel Aviv
Marsha Steinberg, BDS-LA for Justice in Palestine, Los Angeles
Lotta Strandberg, Visiting Scholar, NYU
Carol Stone, Independent Jewish Voices, Vancouver BC
Miriam (Cherkes-Julkowski) Swenson, Ph.D.
Matthew Taylor, author
Laura Tillem, Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas
Peter Trainor, Independent Jewish Voices, Toronto
Rebecca Tumposky, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Darlene Wallach, Justice for Palestinians, San Jose CA
Dr. Abraham Weizfeld, JPLO
Bonnie Weinstein, Co-Editor of Socialist Viewpoint magazine; Publisher, Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Sam Weinstein, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-Labor; former President, UWUA Local 132
Judith Weisman, Independent Jewish Voices; Not in Our Name (NION); Toronto ON
Paul Werner, PhD, DSFS Editor, WOID, a journal of visual language
Noga Wizansky, Ph.D., artist, instructor, and researcher; Administrator, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley
Marcy Winograd, public school teacher, former congressional peace candidate
Bekah Wolf, UC Hastings College of Law Student; Co-founder, Palestine Solidarity Project
Sherry Wolf, International Socialist Organization
Dave Zirin, Author, Game Over: How Politics Have Turned the Sports World Upside Down

Growing Jewish support for boycott and the changing landscape of the BDS debate

June 18th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago Jerusalem-based think-tank, the Jewish People Policy Institute, released the findings from its study “Jewish & Democratic: Perspectives from World Jewry”. The key findings demonstrate a growing trend towards a concern for the current Zionist policies of the Jewish state from the core of its international supporters—Jews themselves. This reveals a more critical portrayal of Israel’s “implementation of Jewishness” than ever before, including a growing tension associated with the idea of a state that is both a “Jewish” and “democratic”. Participants of the study said that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and “the continued building of Jewish settlements”, as well as its treatment of minorities falls seriously short of behavior expected from a democracy. The Jewish-only settlements are of course not only frowned upon by a growing number in the Jewish community, but also considered illegal by a large majority of states (as most recently demonstrated in UN General Assembly Resolution 68/82). Although Israel and its chief ally the United States continue to contest this, even U.S. officials blame Israeli settlements for the collapse of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. There also appears to be an emerging consensus among government officials in Israel, Palestine, and the U.S., as well as among legal experts, that Israel and especially the Palestinian territories are in—or are rapidly heading towards—a situation of apartheid.

Unfortunately the extent of this new reality of Jewish criticism of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians that is taking hold appears largely unreported by mainstream media. One place where opposition to Israel’s policies finds concrete expression amongst Jews both within Israel and internationally is in a wide range of boycotts and divestments activities aimed at promoting legal equality and human rights in Israel-Palestine. Though not necessarily always explicitly linked to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, these activities do fall within the scope of the movement and help to advance its goals. The call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions came in 2005 from an unprecedented coalition of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations including NGOs, unions, professional associations, religious groups, human rights organizations, refugee networks, youth, and cultural organizations. The BDS campaign has three goals: an end to the occupation of Arab lands occupied by Israel since 1967, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of Palestinian refugees displaced or expelled during conflict in the region to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. The BDS movement was launched on the one year anniversary of the landmark 2004 International Court of Justice case that found that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is illegal under international law. In addition to the large majority of the world’s countries, a wide range of legal experts and Israeli and international NGOs concur on the illegality of the occupation.

In this article we explore the growing Jewish support for both the BDS movement and other civil society boycott activities which advance the human rights goals of the movement. While not all of the individuals and organizations we mention actively support every aspect of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, they represent a multi-faceted approach to applying international pressure on Israel to abide by international law and human rights treaties.

***

In the United States where debate over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is heavy and heated, Jewish Voice for Peace, a coalition of Zionists, anti-Zionists, and non-Zionists, states clearly that it aligns itself with the methods as well as “the aims of the Palestinian Boycott National Committeeending the occupation, achieving equality for Palestinians now living in Israel, and recognizing Palestinian refugees’ right of return.” Others in the U.S. who support the full goals and strategy of the BDS campaign include, both Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Rabbi Brian Walt, from the Jewish Voice for Peace’s Rabbinical Council. New York-based group, Jews Say No!, founded by Jewish boycott, divestment and sanctions advocate Donna Nevel,also takes a stance in full support of the BDS call. Other organizations include American Jews for a Just PeaceBreaking the Law of Return and the Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism, which “unequivocally” supports the movement.Jewish-American scholar and LGBT activist, Sarah Schulman has publicly declared her support for the BDS cause by advocating for the implementation of the boycott in its entirety. Udi Aloni, Israeli-American filmmaker also promotes BDS and the full goals of campaign. Similarly Jeremiah Haber (thenom de plume of Charles H. Manekin), an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor dividing his time between Israel and the United States, backs BDS.

Elsewhere in North America, Canadian group Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) has resolved to support the BDS call and urges the Canadian government to disengage from “its one-sided and uncritical support for Israel”. Naomi Klein, Jewish-Canadian journalist and author has likewise added her full backing to the BDS movement.

The UK group, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods claims solidarity with any individuals or organizations who share our anti-racist agenda in pursuing the non-violent goals of BDS”. European Jews for a Just Peace also shares this support for the methods and goals of the campaign.

Australia-based Jews Against the Occupation also actively promote the BDS movement. Sydney-based Jewish academic Peter Slezak supports the BDS call, as does Jewish-Australian journalist and author Antony Loewenstein, who is highly critical of attempts to label the nonviolent movement anti-Semitic. The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network echoes these sentiments, declaring that BDS is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-democratic and that the international body “stands firm” in support of the full BDS call.

Even within Israel, prominent individuals and organizations have pledged their support to the BDS movement and its vision of equality for Arab citizens of Israel, recognition of the Palestinian right of return, and ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. The prominent group of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, BOYCOTT!, offers support for the Palestinian BDS call from within the Jewish state. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the Alternative Information Center likewise fully support the movement. Israeli Journalist, writer, and founder of the Alternative Information Center, Michel Warschawski, actively promotes BDS and has reiterated the call to Israelis to “boycott from within”. Rachel Giora, Israeli feminist and professor of linguistics at Tel Aviv University has also responded to the BDS call in a letter addressed to her colleagues at the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, expressing full support for the movement. Other Jewish-Israeli academics in support of the campaign include historian and activist Ilan Pappé, anthropologist Uri Davis, political scientist Marcelo Svirsky, and anthropologist Jeff Halper.

***

The most widely adopted mode of targeted support for BDS from within Israel and by Jewish individuals and organizations worldwide is a boycott of the Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem). This can include a boycott of products manufactured or grown within the settlements, or businesses and academic institutions located in settlements or actively supporting their perpetuation.

Reasons for why a narrow settlement boycott is preferred over a broader BDS include that international law is less ambiguous regarding the illegality of settlements (as compared to the BDS goals of the right of return, or legal equality in Israel) and that it is easier to consistently boycott settlements (rather than boycott broader Israeli or international organizations involved in abuses of Palestinian human rights). However even among Zionists who still support legally mandated disadvantage for Israel’s non-Jewish ethno-religious groups (required for Israel to be fixed as a “Jewish state”), the settlement boycott is gaining ground. As noted above, a recent survey by the Jewish People Policy Institute appears to show a growing tension within the international Jewish community regarding the idea that Israel can be both fundamentally Jewish and a democracy.  Zionist boycott supporters typically differ from other boycott supporters in that they contend that even with the legally entrenched dominance of one etho-religious group (ie Jews) the state of Israel is still able to function as a “democracy”. These groups typically argue that the  realization of the third goal of the BDS movement, the Palestinian right of return, would spell an end to the demographic and political dominance of Jews in Israel. For similar reasons they are also less supportive of the BDS movement’s goal of equality for Israel’s Arab citizens. These Zionist groups call for a more narrow boycott, of Israel’s Illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), in line with the first goal of the BDS movement. The rationale generally advanced by Zionists is that it is only with the end of the occupation of Palestinian territory that Israel can preserve both its Jewish and ostensibly “democratic” character.

Notably, in 2006 the Israeli peace activism group headed by Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom, published “a list of several hundred products made in areas beyond the Green Line. The list, comprised of many food products, also included businesses operating in the Golan Heights.” In the face of the 2011 Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott passed by the Knesset, the group stated that it could no longer afford to continue publishing the list, for fear of the threat of lawsuits. The law would allow for lawsuits to be filed -without any proof of damages- against those who promote boycott tactics against people associated with the state of Israel or any “area under its control”. Gush Shalom appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court to rule the law as unconstitutional, and was joined by several other notable minority rights groups, including The Civil Rights Association, Yesh Din, Adalah, the Women’s Coalition for Peace, The Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Knesset member Ahmed Tibi and The Arab Monitoring Committee. Israeli peace group Peace Now has published a similar list of settlement products and likewise calls for a boycott of the settlements. Israeli politician, Zahava Gal-On, head of the Meretz opposition party, has also publically declared that she boycotts the settlements in her own purchases and hopes that a boycott campaign on settlement goods would encourage Israelis to think critically about the “economic cost of the Occupation.”  There are signs that the boycott of settlements among Israelis, has begun to cause manufacturers and producers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to “encounter obstacles” marketing goods “not just overseas, also in Tel Aviv”.

Support for a settlement boycott is also building among U.S. Jews. Distinguished Jewish-American jurist Richard Falk, as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, has recently formally recommended that UN member states and businesses and civil society impose sanctions and boycotts against Israeli settlements and international corporations supporting the occupation of Palestinian territory. Back in 2011, the American Liberal Zionist  organization Partners for Progressive Israel (then Meretz U.S.A) issued a call to American Jews to boycott West Bank settlement goods through their campaign: “Buy Israel – Don’t buy Settlements”.   Americans for Peace Now, describing themselves as a pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish organization,echo this support.  Similarly, even other Zionists, who ostensibly oppose the broader BDS campaign, do support a boycott of the settlements. Well-known American Liberal Zionist Peter Beinart for instance has repeatedly written in support of a settlements boycott in order to “save Israel”. Beinart advocates a targeted approach to boycotting West Bank settlements. Addressing American Jews, Beinart declared: “We should lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from America’s free-trade deal with Israel. We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities. Every time an American newspaper calls Israel a democracy, we should urge it to include the caveat: only within the green line”. Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of the influential liberal pro-Israel lobby group, J-Street also recently announced that if the BDS campaign were restricted to a boycott of the settlements J-Street would support it. Similarly, National President of Ameinu Kenneth Bob has declared that while he does not support the BDS movement he is “extremely sympathetic to the settlement boycott approach”. The New Israel Fund, through a statement their Vice President of Public Affairs from Naomi Paiss, has also shown support for the same type of targeted approach, stressing that “boycotting settlements is not anti-Israel”. After a visit to the West Bank, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann issued a statement reversing her initial opposition to the settlement boycott and claiming solidarity with Israeli rabbis who also support a boycott of settlement goods. Jewish-American political scientist and activist Norman Finkelstein supports an economic boycott of Israel in order to compel Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory (also see the start of an interview with Finkelstein posted here). Prominent linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky has also publicly spoken out in support of BDS as a tactic, saying: “There is an interesting mythology that I have opposed the BDS movement. In reality, as explained over and over, I not only support it but was actively involved long before the ‘movement’ took shape…” Chomsky specifically supports boycott and divestment from companies that operate in the occupied Palestinian territories and also promotes forms of academic and military boycott.

Among the Jewish Diaspora in Australia, Ben Saul, Professor of International Law at Sydney University has written in favor of a targeted boycott approach focused on the Jewish-only settlements. What’s more, The Australian Jewish Democratic Society “has become the first Australian community-affiliated Jewish organization to adopt the view that some boycotts of Israel may indeed be justified.” The group supports “selected BDS actions designed to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation, blockade and settlement on Palestinian lands lying outside of the June 1967 Israeli borders.” The organization resolves to boycott settlement products as well as “specific academics openly supportive of the Occupation”.

Support for BDS methods also takes the form of refusal to perform in the Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. In 2010, over 50 Israeli actors, directors, and playwrights released a statement declaring that they would not perform at the new theatre in Ariel, Israel’s fourth largest settlement, or in any other settlement. In a show of support for that petition over 150 Israeli academics and university faculty from across Israel released their own open letter, vowing to likewise engage in a cultural and academic boycott of the settlements. The Israeli academics declared: “We will not take part in any kind of cultural activity beyond the Green Line, take part in discussions and seminars, or lecture in any kind of academic setting in these settlements.” Signatories include Zeev Sternhell, Anat Biletzki, Shlomo Sand, Neve Gordon, Oren Yiftachel, among others. The declaration was also supported by several prominent Israeli authors, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, David Grossman, and Sami Michael. A letter drafted by the authors, as well as by well-known Israeli memorial sculptor and Israel Prize laureate, Dani Karavan, expresses further solidarity with the actor’s boycott.  Theodore Bikel, a Jewish American actor, has also been vocal in the settlement boycott also joined a separate petition for the boycott of the settlements, signed by over 150 Israeli entertainment professionals.

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Another aspect of the BDS movement is the boycott of Israeli academic institutions: specifically, the withdrawal of support from Israeli academic institutions complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and the violation of Palestinian human rights. This movement draws on a growing body of evidence detailing academic institutions support for the occupation of Palestinian territory and violation of human rights (including education rights) through a variety of military and public relations oriented research and training activities. One such in-depth report was released by the Israeli Alternative Information Center in 2009. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched in 2004 to challenge the unethical policies of these institutions. However boycotts of Israeli academic institutions to promote Palestinian human rights also predate the PACBI call. In April 2002 a call “for a European Boycott of Research and Cultural Links with Israel” was signed by around 700 Europe-based academics, ten of which are Israeli academics from various universities. More recently, in 2013 in response to the PACBI call a group of Israeli, Palestinian and other oral historians and academics from Europe, South Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas issued an international call for the boycott of the “International Oral History Conference” organized by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In February this year, an international Jewish group, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, published a list of signatories endorsing and supporting the American Studies Association academic boycott. Israeli and international Jews have likewise joined the boycott of the 2014 Cinema and TV Studies Conference held at Tel Aviv University. Jewish-American academic, Colin Dayan has also written in support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as has Malcolm Levitt, professor at Southampton University and a fellow of the Royal Society in the UK. Levitt as well as Noam Chomsky joined a group of academics who successfully lobbied physicist Stephen Hawking to boycott the IsraeliPresidential Conference held in Jerusalem last year.

A number of Jewish and Israeli academics and organizations support BDS activities in forms other than the academic boycott (such as through a settlement boycott, support on the grounds of free speech, or in support of the full BDS Call), signifying that there  other forms of boycott activity at play within the academic world. Two instances of this  last year were Kings College and the University of Southampton in the UK dropping their contracts with security firm G4S, in response to the British security firm’s role in supporting the Israeli occupation and abuse of human rights.

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Earlier this year human rights group Amnesty International published a report that recommended an international military boycott of Israel, citing the country’s “use of excessive force in the West Bank”. The conclusions of this report (and similar research efforts) lay out the rationale for the military boycott of Israel. One example of this is the  movement within Israel in opposition to the military draft. In March of 2014, The Israeli youth group, Conscientious Objectors of the Occupation, released an open letter addressed to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu “declaring their refusal of compulsory service in the Israeli military” because of their opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Another boycott movement within the military sphere is the call for the disinvestment of international companies and organizations that are part of the Israeli military-industrial-complex (such as the efforts by Kings College and the University of Southampton noted above). This military boycott is often included within broader BDS policies. The Australian Jewish Democratic Society statement of support for targeted boycotts for example also advocates for “divestment from military Research and Development (R&D) and boycott of industrial/military activities unrelated to Israel’s defense and security.” Noam Chomsky has also called for an end to U.S. and other international military aid to Israel.

***

The status of the anti-boycott law opposed by Gush Shalom and other human rights groups in Israel is, as alluded to above, currently in legal in limbo through a challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court. Israeli human rights groups argue that the Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott aims to limit Israeli and Palestinian freedom of expression by threatening monetary sanctions on anyone who expressed support for the boycott of any Israeli organization or individual. Similar attempts to combat boycotts through legislation are also being made in the U.S.. In 2014 in a wave of right-wing reaction against the BDS movement several bills were proposed within state legislatures aimed at prohibiting academic institutions and individuals from engaging in boycotts of Israel. Following this a new flood of support has emerged both from within Israel as well as from Jewish supporters outside of Israel, advocating for the right of free speech in the face of these anti-BDS bills. The New Israel Fund, a U.S.-based group calling for social justice and equality for all Israelis, shows explicit support for the freedom of speech regarding BDS: “The New Israel Fund is committed to strengthening democracy in Israel, supports freedom of speech and promotes non-violent means of expression of belief and conscience. We oppose any attempt to criminalize the legitimate expression of support for any non-violent strategy or tactic, including those we do not ourselves support.” As noted above the New Israel Fund supports of boycott of the settlements, and they oppose the settlements outright, and as a matter of policy. Naomi Paiss, Vice President of Public Affairs for the New Israel Fund has also stated that her organization “will not disqualify organizations for funding if they support the boycott of settlement goods because we see it as entirely consistent with our opposition to the occupation, our defense of Israeli democracy and our support for a two-state solution.”

Elsewhere, in a letter opposing political censorship, over 150 U.S.-based academics, spearheaded by Jewish academic Judith Butler, and Rashid Khalidi, signed a statement condemning the “accelerating efforts to curtail speech, to exercise censorship, and to carry out retaliatory action against individuals on the basis of their political views or associations, notably support for BDS.” Calling on support from cultural and educational institutions to uphold and support “the principles of free expression”, the authors point out that “as non-violent instruments to effect political change, boycotts cannot be outlawed without trampling on a constitutionally protected right to political speech.” Even Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, “pro-Israel” lobby organizations such as Israel-based NGO Monitor, and most of the mainstream press in Israel have stated they oppose efforts to stamp out BDS through the courts. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and other senior Jewish leaders in Australia have made clear they oppose attempts to suppress BDS through litigation, which they view as counter-productive. Elsewhere in Australia other pro-Israel organizations the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council have also refused to support anti-BDS efforts through the courts..

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The growing support from Jews internationally for the BDS call and the boycott of Israel shows that the landscape of the debate around BDS and broader peace process in Israel-Palestine is shifting. Increasingly the question is no longer whether or not to boycott, but rather to what extent do we boycott? The emerging local and international constituency of Israeli Jews and the Jewish Diaspora, and their adoption and promotion of a range of methods that fall within the scope of the BDS campaign is significant. On the surface, this wide-ranging support of course reminds us of how non-sensical and futile it is to deploy classic anti-Semitic imagery in an attempt to delegitimize what is a growing international movement for human rights and legal equality. At a deeper level, however, this growing Jewish support is an indication that the spirit of the boycott call reflects a truly democratic vision that is shared by Jews internationally, a call that wants to see the preservation, not the demise, of a democratic Israel, an Israel that fairly represents all of its citizens, regardless of race or religion. Ignoring these efforts by Jewish organizations and individuals to promote democracy, human rights and a just peace in the Middle East is a dangerous mistake. Clearly in conflicts such as Israel-Palestine, governments don’t always have all the answers: free speech and open criticism of government policy is critical. Given the lack of success of official diplomacy in the region we should be encouraging, not dismissing, these growing local and international efforts.

The World Cup Soccer in Qatar (2022), Controversy over Appalling Migrant Worker Conditions

June 14th, 2014

By Stephen Lendman

 

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is Qatar’s Emir. He heads a despotic monarchical rogue state.

He maintains supreme power. What he says goes. Ordinary Qataris have no say.

State terror defines official policy. Qatar has one of the world’s worst human and civil rights record.

Torture and other forms of repression are commonplace. So is brutal worker exploitation. Foreign nationals suffer most.

According to the State Department’s 2012 human rights report:

“The principal human rights problems were the inability of citizens to change their government peacefully, restriction of fundamental civil liberties, and pervasive denial of expatriate workers’ rights.”

“The monarch-appointed government prohibited organized political parties and restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, and assembly and access to a fair trial for persons held under the Protection of Society Law and Combating Terrorism Law.”

“Other continuing human rights concerns included restrictions on the freedoms of religion and movement, as foreign laborers could not freely travel abroad.”

“Trafficking in persons, primarily in the labor and domestic worker sectors, was a problem.”

“Legal, institutional, and cultural discrimination against women limited their participation in society.”

“The noncitizen “Bidoon” (stateless persons) who resided in the country with an unresolved legal status experienced social discrimination.”

Migrants comprise the vast majority of Qatar’s two million population. London’s Guardian ran a series of articles explaining more.

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) chose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup games.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter did so disgracefully. He ignored outrageous exploitation foreign construction workers face. More on that below.

Qatar is a key US regional ally. Doha hosts America’s forward CENTCOM (US Central Command) headquarters. It’s based at Al Udeid Air Base. It’s home for 5,000 US forces.

It’s a hub for US Afghanistan and Iraq operations. Qatar was instrumental in Obama’s Libya war. Its special forces armed and trained extremist Islamist militants.

They included the CIA affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). They’re ideologically allied with Al Qaeda.

In December 2004, the State Department designated it a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). If doesn’t matter. America uses Al Qaeda and likeminded organizations as enemies and allies.

Qatar supports Obama’s war on Syria. It helps recruit extremist fighters. It provides funding, weapons and training. It’s part of Washington’s plan to oust Assad.

London’s Guardian headlined “Qatar: one migrant worker’s story.”

Nepalese worker Bhupendra Malla Thakuri “borrowed money to afford a recruitment agent’s fees (for) a job as a truck driver in Qatar”

It pays 1,200 riyals monthly (about $330). In June 2011, Bhupendra was severely injured. His leg was crushed on the job. He was hospitalized for months.

“When I was discharged,” he said, “the company only paid me for the 20-odd days I had worked that month, but nothing more.”

”They didn’t give me my salary. They didn’t give me anything. It was a very critical situation. I was injured and my leg had become septic.”

His company gave him a document in English to sign. It asked him to agree to return to Nepal. It declared all his benefits paid.

He refused to sign, saying:

”I had to return to the hospital frequently for checkups, but I didn’t have money for that. I needed money for transportation and medicine. There was no money for food.”

His indebtedness rose to about $4,400. He had no way repay. He sued. He was lucky. He got significant compensation. On July 29, he went home.

According to Amnesty International Gulf migrant researcher James Lynch:

“Bhupendra’s case illustrates both the callousness with which so many companies treat migrant workers in Qatar, but also the laborious and confusing processes which migrant workers are expected to navigate in order to get their rights.”

“It took him more than two years, and enormous stamina and courage, to get the compensation he deserved, during which time he was penniless.”

On September 25, the Guardian headlined “Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘slaves.’ Exclusive: Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers preparing emirate for 2022.”

They endure outrageous human rights abuses. In recent weeks, dozens of Nepalese migrant workers died.

“(T)housands more (endure) appalling labour abuses, a Guardian investigation has found, raising serious questions about Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.”

During summer 2013, “Nepalese workers died at a rate of almost one a day.”

Many were young men. Sudden heart attacks killed them. Others died from accidents. Human life in Qatar is cheap.

Guardian investigators “found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery.”

From June 4 – August 8, at least 44 workers died. Heart attacks or workplace accidents took most of them.

Other damning evidence uncovered included:

  • forced labor on World Cup infrastructure;
  • withholding pay for some Nepalese workers for months; allegedly it’s to prevent them from running away;
  • confiscating worker passports; doing so reduces their status to illegal aliens; and
  • denying workers access to free drinking water in summer heat.

“About 30 Nepalese sought refuge at their embassy in Doha to escape the brutal conditions of their employment,” said the Guardian.

Rogue Qatari officials are very much involved in ruthless migrant worker exploitation.

“The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament,” the Guardian added.

It shows FIFA’s complicity with brutal police state repression. It doesn’t surprise. Formula One’s governing body includes Bahrain on its calendar.

It does so despite the Gulf monarchy’s appalling human rights record.

Murder, torture, other forms of abuse, lawless arrests, kangaroo court trials, and longterm imprisonments don’t matter.

Bahrain Grand Prix races are held as scheduled. Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone operates like FIFA’s Sepp Blatter. Money, lots of it, prestige, and self-interest alone matter.

State terror is a small price to pay. Welcome to Qatar and Bahrain. They’re two of the world’s most repressive dictatorships. They’re valued US allies. They’re complicit in America’s imperial wars.

One migrant Qatari worker told Guardian investigators:

“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us. I’m angry about how this company is treating us, but we’re helpless.”

“I regret coming here, but what to do? We were compelled to come just to make a living, but we’ve had no luck.”

Guardian investigators found migrant workers sleeping 12 to a room. Filthy conditions made many sick.

Some were forced to work without pay. They were left begging for food and clean water. Ran Kuman Mahara said:

“We were working on an empty stomach for 24 hours; 12 hours’ work and then no food all night.”

“When I complained, my manager assaulted me, kicked me out of the labour camp I lived in and refused to pay me anything. I had to beg for food from other workers.”

Nearly all Nepalese migrant workers have huge debts. They accrued them to pay recruitment agents for their jobs.

They’re obligated to repay. They have no way to do so. They had no idea how brutally they’d be exploited.

They held against their will in forced bondage. They’re treated callously. Dozens are worked to death.

Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, called the emirate an “open jail” for foreign workers. It’s that and much more.

According to Anti-Slavery International director Aidan McQuade:

”The evidence uncovered by the Guardian is clear proof of the use of systematic forced labour in Qatar.”

”In fact, these working conditions and the astonishing number of deaths of vulnerable workers go beyond forced labour to the slavery of old where human beings were treated as objects.”

“There is no longer a risk that the World Cup might be built on forced labour. It is already happening.”

Qatar has the world’s highest ratio of migrant workers to domestic population. Over 90% of its workforce are aliens. From now until 2022, another 1.5 million will be recruited.

Based on current conditions, they’ll be held in forced bondage. They’ll be brutalized against their will.

They’ll be lawlessly held to build stadiums, roads, ports, and hotels, as well as other infrastructure and facilities in time for FIFA’s 2022 World Cup games.

Nepal supplies about 40% of Qatar’s migrant workers. In 2012, over 100,000 were recruited. They had no idea how brutally they’d be treated.

On the one hand, FIFA officials insist on acceptable labor standards conditions and practices. On the other, they turn a blind eye to appalling abuses.

It bears repeating. Money, lots of it, prestige, and self-interest alone matter. It doesn’t surprise. Olympism operates the same way.

It’s more about profiteering, exploitation, and cynicism than sport. In modern times, it’s always been that way.

It’s dark side excludes good will and fair play. Scandalous wheeling, dealing, collusion, and bribery turns sport into a commercial grab bag free-for-all.

Marginalized populations are exploited. Thousands are evicted and displaced. Disadvantaged residents are left high and dry.

Cozy relationships among government officials, corporate sponsors, universities, and IOC bosses facilitate exploiting communities, people, and athletes unfairly. It’s standard practice.

FIFA operates the same way. Denial of fundamental rights and freedoms is ignored. Readying venues for scheduled events come first.

Repression and worker abuses don’t matter. High-minded hyperbole conceals what demands condemnation.

CH2M Hill is a leading consulting, engineering, construction, program management firm. It “was recently appointed the official programme management consultant to the supreme committee,” said the Guardian.

It claims a “zero tolerance policy for the use of forced labour and other human trafficking practices.”

According to its engineering subsidiary Halcrow:

“Our supervision role of specific construction packages ensures adherence to site contract regulation for health, safety and environment.”

”The terms of employment of a contractor’s labour force is not under our direct purview.”

Nepalese worker explain otherwise. They’re virtual slaves. They want to leave but can’t. According to one unnamed migrant:

“We’d like to leave, but the company won’t let us. If we run away, we become illegal and that makes it hard to find another job.”

Qatar’s labor ministry lied claiming it enforces strict standards and practices. According to the Guardian:

“The workers’ plight makes a mockery of concerns for the 2022 footballers.”

General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions head Umesh Upadhyaya said:

“Everyone is talking about the effect of Qatar’s extreme heat on a few hundred footballers.”

“But they are ignoring the hardships, blood and sweat of thousands of migrant workers, who will be building the World Cup stadiums in shifts that can last eight times the length of a football match.”

They turn a blind eye to the appalling human rights abuses they endure. They’re held in forced bondage for Qatari/FIFA profits, self-interest and prestige.

Doing so makes a mockery of sport. Illusion substitutes for reality. Dark side truth explains best.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.