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Divestment defeated at UC Riverside

by Highlander Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Riverside defeats divestment. UCLA and SDSU are next


February 13, 2014

StandWithUs congratulates the pro-Israel students at UC Riverside for their successful stand against the BDS movement, which uses propaganda and progressive rhetoric to promote a malicious, immoral, and illiberal agenda. Last night (2/12/14) the UC Riverside student government debated a divestment resolution presented by Students for Justice in Palestine and a pro-peace resolution presented by Highlanders for Israel. This debate was the culmination of months of lobbying by both sides. The result was a defeat for divestment and the larger boycott movement against Israel.

Ben Morag (StandWithUs Emerson Fellow) and other students worked for months in advance, lobbying and preparing for the debate. The debate itself was less heated than some we have witnessed at other universities. The accusations made against Israel were slanderous, misleading, or taken completely out of context, but they were nothing compared to those heard at UC Berkeley ("the IDF violates Palestinian women with rats") and UC Santa Barbara ("Israel deliberately sterilizes Ethiopian women").

Pro-Israel Riverside students did their best to refute accusations of the divestment resolution and expose the agenda of the BDS movement. They also presented their pro-peace resolution as a truly progressive alternative, which would promote peace, justice, and human rights for both sides. The end result was that the Senate voted no on divestment -- seven against, six in favor, and one abstention, and then it voted to table the pro-peace bill in order to fix some mistakes and perhaps work toward something even more inclusive.

One of the reasons divestment did not pass was because senators did not want to be associated with the larger BDS movement, which calls for the elimination of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Some also commented that they were not sure the opinions of the more than 50 people in the room were truly representative of the entire Riverside student body, which numbers over 20,000.

This outcome was made possible by the passion and dedication of pro-Israel students at UC Riverside. StandWithUs salutes them for standing on the right side of history, and we look forward to seeing many students at other universities follow their example.
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Contentions BDS on a Roll? Not So Fast

by Evelyn Gordon Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 at 9:31 PM

ne of the BDS movement’s greatest assets is the fact that its every success gets massive media coverage while its failures (ScarJo excepted) are largely ignored. That’s why anyone following the news in recent weeks would probably conclude that boycott, divestment, and sanctions were rapidly gaining ground. Yet in reality, BDS has suffered several major failures lately–and some of these failures bode ill for its future.

Just last week, for instance, Britain’s Supreme Court issued a major ruling against BDS when it upheld a trespassing conviction against four activists who chained themselves in an Ahava shop in London to protest the Israeli cosmetics firm’s West Bank plant. Far from being a narrow decision about trespassing, the ruling tackled the activists’ allegations against Ahava head-on.

First, the court rejected the claim that Ahava was “aiding and abetting the transfer of Israeli citizens to the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories],” and thereby violating the Geneva Convention. The company was doing no such thing, it said, but even if it were, “this could not amount to an offense by Ahava’s retailing arm.” That precedent will clearly be valuable for other Israeli companies fighting BDS.

Second, the court rejected the claim that Ahava had mislabeled its goods by labeling them “made in Israel” when they were made in the West Bank–another precedent of obvious value. Moreover, its reasoning demonstrated a remarkably clear understanding of what BDS is about: The label isn’t misleading, it said, because “a consumer willing to buy Israeli products would be very unlikely not to buy Israeli products because they were produced in the OPT.” In short, the court understood that most boycotters aren’t just “anti-occupation”; they have a problem with Israel, period. That understanding is crucial to unmasking BDS for what it is.

Also last week, Holland’s largest pension fund–and the world’s third largest–took the unusual step of issuing a press statement announcing that it had no intention of divesting from Israeli banks, having “concluded that these banks themselves do not act in breach of international laws and regulations, and that there are no judicial rulings that should lead to their exclusion.” ABP’s statement was a direct challenge to Holland’s second largest pension fund, PGGM, which last month announced plans to divest from Israeli banks because of their involvement in financing the settlements. PGGM had claimed such activity was problematic from the standpoint of international law. Now its larger crosstown rival has just publicly termed that nonsense. Such a rebuttal from a major European financial institution is far more convincing than anything Israel could say.

Two weeks earlier, BDS suffered another loss in a French court. The French distributor for the Israeli firm SodaStream, which also has a West Bank plant, had sued a local pro-boycott group for claiming that SodaStream products were being sold fraudulently because they were labeled “made in Israel.” The court found the claim that the distributor was deceiving or defrauding customers to be baseless. It therefore fined the group and ordered it to halt its campaign. As with the British ruling, this precedent will be very useful to other Israeli companies.

Moreover, many recent BDS “victories” are actually optical illusions. Take, for instance, the announcement by Denmark’s largest bank that it’s divesting from Bank Hapoalim. But as Hapoalim pointed out, “Denmark’s Danske Bank has no investments, of any kind, with Bank Hapoalim.” Similarly, the Norwegian Finance Ministry recently ordered its sovereign wealth fund to divest from two other Israeli companies–but again, the fund had no investments in those companies.

Such “faux boycotts” are obviously still damaging, because they create the illusion that BDS is gathering steam. Nevertheless, they’re a far cry from real boycotts that do real economic damage.

In short, despite John Kerry’s warnings that if peace talks fail, anti-Israel boycotts will metastasize, BDS remains a fringe movement that can still be thwarted. It will grow to threatening proportions only if Israel and its allies make no effort to challenge it.
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Contentions BDS on a Roll? Not So Fast

by Evelyn Gordon Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 at 9:32 PM

ne of the BDS movement’s greatest assets is the fact that its every success gets massive media coverage while its failures (ScarJo excepted) are largely ignored. That’s why anyone following the news in recent weeks would probably conclude that boycott, divestment, and sanctions were rapidly gaining ground. Yet in reality, BDS has suffered several major failures lately–and some of these failures bode ill for its future.

Just last week, for instance, Britain’s Supreme Court issued a major ruling against BDS when it upheld a trespassing conviction against four activists who chained themselves in an Ahava shop in London to protest the Israeli cosmetics firm’s West Bank plant. Far from being a narrow decision about trespassing, the ruling tackled the activists’ allegations against Ahava head-on.

First, the court rejected the claim that Ahava was “aiding and abetting the transfer of Israeli citizens to the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories],” and thereby violating the Geneva Convention. The company was doing no such thing, it said, but even if it were, “this could not amount to an offense by Ahava’s retailing arm.” That precedent will clearly be valuable for other Israeli companies fighting BDS.

Second, the court rejected the claim that Ahava had mislabeled its goods by labeling them “made in Israel” when they were made in the West Bank–another precedent of obvious value. Moreover, its reasoning demonstrated a remarkably clear understanding of what BDS is about: The label isn’t misleading, it said, because “a consumer willing to buy Israeli products would be very unlikely not to buy Israeli products because they were produced in the OPT.” In short, the court understood that most boycotters aren’t just “anti-occupation”; they have a problem with Israel, period. That understanding is crucial to unmasking BDS for what it is.

Also last week, Holland’s largest pension fund–and the world’s third largest–took the unusual step of issuing a press statement announcing that it had no intention of divesting from Israeli banks, having “concluded that these banks themselves do not act in breach of international laws and regulations, and that there are no judicial rulings that should lead to their exclusion.” ABP’s statement was a direct challenge to Holland’s second largest pension fund, PGGM, which last month announced plans to divest from Israeli banks because of their involvement in financing the settlements. PGGM had claimed such activity was problematic from the standpoint of international law. Now its larger crosstown rival has just publicly termed that nonsense. Such a rebuttal from a major European financial institution is far more convincing than anything Israel could say.

Two weeks earlier, BDS suffered another loss in a French court. The French distributor for the Israeli firm SodaStream, which also has a West Bank plant, had sued a local pro-boycott group for claiming that SodaStream products were being sold fraudulently because they were labeled “made in Israel.” The court found the claim that the distributor was deceiving or defrauding customers to be baseless. It therefore fined the group and ordered it to halt its campaign. As with the British ruling, this precedent will be very useful to other Israeli companies.

Moreover, many recent BDS “victories” are actually optical illusions. Take, for instance, the announcement by Denmark’s largest bank that it’s divesting from Bank Hapoalim. But as Hapoalim pointed out, “Denmark’s Danske Bank has no investments, of any kind, with Bank Hapoalim.” Similarly, the Norwegian Finance Ministry recently ordered its sovereign wealth fund to divest from two other Israeli companies–but again, the fund had no investments in those companies.

Such “faux boycotts” are obviously still damaging, because they create the illusion that BDS is gathering steam. Nevertheless, they’re a far cry from real boycotts that do real economic damage.

In short, despite John Kerry’s warnings that if peace talks fail, anti-Israel boycotts will metastasize, BDS remains a fringe movement that can still be thwarted. It will grow to threatening proportions only if Israel and its allies make no effort to challenge it.
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Link to BDS site

by johnk Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 at 12:44 AM

For whatever reasons, Zionists are always posting on here. So here's a link to what BDS is, as a bit of counterpoint.

They are claiming victory, but I think it's going the other way. As Israel moves to the right, becoming more like apartheid, it loses support.
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the truth is not on their side

by crazy_inventor Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at 7:52 PM

A law firm targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has close links to Israeli intelligence, US government cables leaked by Wikileaks show.

http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=07TELAVIV2636

Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center (ILC) made a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission last month against Jake Lynch, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University, over Lynch's support for BDS.

The ILC, set up in 2003, claims to be 'a fully independent non-profit organization, unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.'

However, the organisation's director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, has privately admitted to taking direction from the Israeli government over which cases to pursue and relying on Israeli intelligence contacts for witnesses and evidence.

Darshan-Leitner made the comments in 2007 to diplomats from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, who reported the conversation in a cable leaked by Wikileaks four years later. It states:

Leitner said that in many of her cases she receives evidence from GOI officials, and added that in its early years ILC took direction from the GOI [Government of Israel] on which cases to pursue. ‘The National Security Council (NSC) legal office saw the use of civil courts as a way to do things that they are not authorized to do,’ claimed Leitner. Among her contacts, Leitner listed Udi Levy at the NSC and Uzi Beshaya at the Mossad, both key Embassy contacts on anti-terrorist finance cooperation. Leitner offered a case against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as example of ILC's close cooperation with the GOI. After obtaining a judgment against PIJ for NIS 100 million (USD 25 million), ILC requested a lien for that amount against the Abu Akker Trading Company as a third party defendant. At the time, Abu Akker was one of the largest Palestinian importing companies, and Leitner said the Mossad provided her with the intelligence (similar to information provided to USG officials in a classified briefing) to prove that the company was funneling money to PIJ. According to Leitner, the ILC now decides its cases independently, but continues to receive evidence and witnesses from Israeli intelligence.

The US cable goes on to comment that:

While the ILC's mission dovetails with GOI objectives of putting financial pressure on Israel's adversaries, the often uncompromising approach of ILC's attorneys seems to overreach official GOI policy goals. ILC's relentless litigation has proven to be an obstacle to the GOI's releasing of all customs revenues previously withheld from the PA [Palestinian Authority].

ILC has engaged in a wide variety of other actions in the US, Australia, Israel itself and in Egypt as well as targeting Iran, Syria, North Korea and the Palestinian Authority. Amongst its targets have been financial institutions including UBS, American Express Bank and the Lebanese-Canadian Bank, President Jimmy Carter, World Vision Australia (a Christian aid agency) and, most notably, the largely successful attempt to stop the second Free Gaza Flotilla. This involved a blizzard of legal threats against insurance companies port authorities and satellite firms. They were informed that they would open themselves to criminal liability for "aiding and abetting" a "terrorist" organisation or would become "legally liable" for any future attacks by Hamas.

The Bank of China Affair

Further details of the ILC's links with Israeli intelligence have emerged amid fallout from a case brought by the firm against the Bank of China. According to accounts in the Israeli press, officials from the National Security Council approached Darshan-Leitner, after identifying the bank as a conduit for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Darshan-Leitner found a suitable plaintiff to bring the case in the family of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old American citizen killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in 2006. Yediot Ahronot reported,

In her discussions with the intelligence agents, Darshan Leitner insisted that she receives massive assistance from the government. She demanded convicting information on the bank activities, affidavits from authorized people and a commitment to provide for the trial an authorized witness that will say that the Chinese knew about the nature of the accounts and refused to close them. The consent was given – orally. In 2009, a lawsuit was filed to the NY Federal court.

This arrangement began to collapse in the face of Chinese Government pressure ahead of a visit to Beijing by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year.

The Wultz family has accused the Israeli Government of sabotaging the case, by failing to provide the documents it promised at the outset. The standoff is particularly embarrassing, because Daniel Wultz's mother, Sheryl Cantor Wultz, is a cousin of Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader in the US Congress.

Among the key documents at the centre of the case is an affidavit by Uzi Shaya, who may be the same person as 'Uzi Beshaya', the Israeli security official named in the 2007 cable as a contact of both Shurat Hadin and the US Embassy.

Another US cable describes Shaya as an officer of Israel's Shin Bet service, working in the Counter Terror Finance Bureau of the Israeli National Security Council alongside Udi Levi, Darshan-Leitner's other intelligence contact.

Meir Dagan's Lawfare programme

The National Security Council appears to be the central node in the Israeli Government's attempts to use deniable civil actions against alleged terrorist financing. According to veteran Haaretz intelligence correspondent Yossi Melman, this strategy was initiated by Meir Dagan when he headed the NSC in the late 1990s, before becoming chief of the Mossad.

In a 2007 article, Melman went on to suggest that Israeli intelligence was connected to a lawsuit brought against the Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East.

The law firm which brought the Arab Bank case, Mann Mairone, moved into terrorism litigation around 2001, having previously specialised in taxation and commercial law. In the process, it acquired a roster of researchers and advisors drawn largely from Shin Bet and Israeli military intelligence.

Wikileaks cables show that the Arab Bank was a frequent subject of discussions between Israeli NSC officials and US diplomats during the case.

At one such meeting with US Treasury officials in 2005, ILC contacts Udi Levi and Uzi Shaya were prominent in defending the litigation, although vague as to the justification for it:

Levi said the bank had stopped all transactions to the territories after it was sued in U.S. court. He cautioned, however, that the bank is ‘playing with evidence, cleaning the records, and deleting accounts’ to cover its tracks. Shaya said that the GOI has unspecified proof that the Arab Bank is still dealing with Hizballah in Lebanon.

Levi went on to suggest further litigation:

Levi called INTERPAL and other European groups that channel funds to Hamas ‘a problem we do not know how to solve,’ but added that lawsuits similar to the ones filed against the Arab Bank might help. He suggested that another option to restrict funding would be to prevent INTERPAL from clearing dollar donations through New York.

Interpal, a British charity focused on Palestine, had been a source of friction between the Israeli and British governments for several years. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported in 2004 that Foreign Minister Jack Straw had refused a request from his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom to put an end to Interpal’s activities. Significantly, Haaretz noted that even if the Israeli intelligence on Interpal were made public, it would not necessarily meet the threshold for banning a UK charity and that, 'it is therefore not at all certain that even if the evidence were to be revealed, it would lead to a curbing of Interpal in Britain'.

In 2007 Interpal had its account closed by Natwest, as the bank sought to avoid potential liability in a civil case. Darshan-Leitner claimed in her 2007 comments that the ILC had been involved in the action, and that Natwest itself now consulted with Israeli intelligence on Islamic charity clients.

Interpal was also targeted in 2007 by a British think tank, the Centre for Social Cohesion, as chronicled in Spinwatch's pamphlet, The Cold War on British Muslims. In their attack, the CSC cited 'allegations made by Israel and the USA', as well as a 2006 BBC Panorama documentary, which had also relied extensively on evidence provided by current and former Israeli security officials.

In 2009, an inquiry by the UK Charity Commission found that there was insufficient evidence to take action over claims that Interpal beneficiaries were supporting terrorism, because it could not verify 'the provenance or accuracy' of material provided by the Israeli government.

Udi Levi's comments suggest that such developments are in line with the wider strategy being pursued by the National Security Council.

Key Questions

If a firm that has received covert support from the Israeli government is now targeting BDS activists, does this mean that the Israeli government has widened its use of lawfare in a bid to silence its critics?

As we have noted firms like the ILC are prepared to take on the Israeli government over issues like the Bank of China case. Yet that case itself illustrates the extent to which they are nevertheless dependent on a government which is prepared to use and then abandon terror victims for cynical political reasons.

The fact that the Israeli Government is prepared to support organisations whose hardline stances are at odds with its own public positions, must also create doubts about how sincerely held those positions are.

The targeting of the Palestinian Authority in particular, in cases largely dependent on official Israeli sources, is surely inconsistent with any commitment to a genuine peace process.

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Ucla also defeated divestment

by 3 for 3 Monday, Mar. 03, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Of the three California schools that debated divestment this year, all three defeated it
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it's very important for hasbara trolls

by crazy_inventor Monday, Mar. 03, 2014 at 8:46 AM

it's very important ...
spreading_global_drought.jpg, image/jpeg, 295x600

to always frame as winning

Unfortunately with neither the truth nor nature is on their side, they're now running scared, on the defensive, while ignoring the most important matters like water.


“Making the desert bloom”, a cornerstone of the early Zionist ideal, turns out not to have been such a smart idea. Agriculture consumes some 60% of the country's total of 2 billion cubic metres of water a year, but contributes less than 2% of GDP, thanks partly to water-guzzling export crops such as bananas and citrus fruits, as well as dates (these are fine in their natural habitat of oases, but in Israel large plantations of date palms stretch across otherwise arid desert)."

"Desalination burns up energy, adds to the global warming that exacerbates the water problem in the first place, and reduces the incentive to save water, even though conservation is usually cheaper. Mr Bromberg accepts that some desalination is necessary. But he says it should be a technology of last resort, not first instance."
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announced at this years AIPAC meeting

by crazy_inventor Monday, Mar. 03, 2014 at 2:30 PM


video: MPEG at 21.0 mebibytes

“It’s exciting to see so many people together who understand that sometimes you have to violate other people’s human rights if you want to take their land.”

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