Sunday, October 22, 2017
RAMALLAH: (Editors Note: Omar Barghouti is the founder/leader of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement that has started hurting the Israel government following its success in Europe and the United States in particular. This has led to this current attack and threats, articulated against BDA leaders and activists by senior Ministers in the Israeli government.. Barghouti in this first person report for The Citizen has warned of the dangers imminent in these threats. This needs to be taken up by the world community at large to ensure that no harm comes to the Palestinians and others who have been working relentlessly to bring Israel under some pressure through the completely non-violent BDS movement.)
Some on this list, including journalists, have written to me inquiring about or voicing their concern at the recent Israeli government minister's threat of "civil targeted killing" against BDS "leaders" and activists.
There is of course a good reason to be seriously alarmed when government ministers anywhere make such threats against human rights defenders. So imagine the seriousness of the threats when made by an increasingly pariah and lawless regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid that practices extrajudicial killing against Palestinians with impunity and that considers even Zionist Israeli dissenters who dare to reveal -- self-censored and cherry-picked -- Israeli war crimes as "traitors."
It is worth remembering that in 1995 then hawkish Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a fanatic Jewish-Israeli who was influenced by a campaign tainting Rabin as "traitor." Current Israeli leaders were silent about or even involved in that incitement campaign.
Rabin will always be remembered by Palestinians as the Israeli leader who ordered and orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities Lydda and Ramleh in 1948. He will also be remembered as the minister of "defense" who in the first intifada (1987-1992) ordered his soldiers to "break the bones" of captured Palestinian children and youth to prevent them from throwing stones at the occupation forces.
Still, the atmosphere then was significantly more "civil" than it is today! The Israeli "justice" system was still pretending then to be independent and professional; settlers did not have the effective control on government that they have today.
The level of criminal impunity that pervades the Israeli establishment today has triggered US Senator Patrick Leahy to ask Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate whether US tax money is helping Israel in committing "extrajudicial killings" of Palestinians.
It is not everyday that such a ranking senator courageouly asserts that he owes it to US taxpayers to have military aid to Israel reviewed in light of its "gross human rights violations." Loyalty to Israel's far-right regime of oppression is a considerably higher priority in the US Senate, after all, than it is to American taxpayers.
Back to the veiled Israeli govenrment threat to harm BDS activists, here are the facts.
As was reported in the Israeli media, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said (Hebrew) at the largest Israeli anti-BDS conference, held on March 28 in Jerusalem, that Israel should engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS "leaders" with the help of Israeli intelligence, intentionally using language that plays on the Hebrew term for “targeted assassinations.” My name was mentioned in this context.
Here's the link to a youtube for speeches by minister of interior Arieh Deri and minister of intelligence Yisrael Katz. It is professionally and accurately translated and subtitled by a Jewish-Israeli human rights activist (and colleague).Several of my colleagues (Palestinian, international as well as Jewish-Israeli BDS leading activists) and I feel alarmed and seriously concerned for our physical safety after this top-level threat.
We are not panicking, needless to say; neither will this remotely thwart our human rights work. But we do not take such threats lightly either.
We are still working on collecting the threats and attacks made by other
Israeli government ministers and political leaders against the BDS movement (and against me by name), like Ayelet Shaked (minister of justice), Gilad Erdan (minister of strategic affairs and anti-BDS czar), etc.
Minister Yisrael Katz in his statements plays on the official Israeli military term for assassination, "targeted thwarting," and adds "civil" to it. As Israeli colleagues have pointed out, adding "civil" to a term used for many years by Israeli officials to indicate assassination is ambiguous at best.BDS is a global nonviolent human rights movement led by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. Established in 2005, on the first anniversary of the ICJ advisory opinion against Israel's wall, BDS calls for fundamental Palestinian rights under international law.
The BDS movement is anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and rejects, accordingly, all forms of racism and discrimination on the basis of identity, including anti-Semitism.In the last couple of years, Israel has been desperately waging a legal warfare (lawfare) against BDS, after failing for 10 years to even slow down the impressive spread of the movement. Israel is fostering an environment in France, the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and elsewhere akin to McCarthyism, advocating for extreme suppression of civil liberties and freedom of speech. Butstill, this is the first time that an Israeli government minister so violently incites against Palestinian human rights defenders
As Katz has openly alerted us in his statements, Israel's intelligence services plan to fabricate supposed connections between BDS "leaders" and "terror organizations." Aside from sullying our names, this mafia-like campaign of intimidation is implicitly setting the ground for physically harming us, especially in light of the toxic atmoshpere in Israel.
Israel's Chief Rabbi for the Sephardic community is calling for the ethnic cleansing of all "non-Jews" from "the land of Israel."
A Jewish settler leader has called Palestinian and other Christians "blood sucking vampires" who should be "expelled" from Israel. He called for torching even more of our churches, after many Palestinian churches and mosques have indeed been torched by far-right settlers, while protected, and therefore supported, by the Israeli military, security forces and judiciary.
Settlers who have torched to death Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsheh and his parents last year and later celebrated their gruesome acts of terror have yet to be sentenced for the murders. This has naturally encouraged other settlers to torch the house of the remaining eyewitness to the crime, Ali's uncle.
Summing up a growing sentiment among Israeli dissenters, the prominent Israeli journalist Gideon Levy called 2015, "the year of blatant and unapologetic Israeli fascism." I wonder how Levy might describe 2016 when it ends.
It is in this specific environment of rampant racism, criminality and utter impunity that one needs to read minister Katz's threat of "targeted civil elimination." In Israeli society today, as Senator Leahy rightly notes, soldiers, security forces and armed settlers easily get away with murder of Palestinians, quite literally.
Indeed,"targeted civil assassination" could well be understood by far-right settlers or other extremist elements in Israel as a license to kill by a "civilian," rather than by the military/security apparatus. Although Katz goes around the bushes and avoids defining the term in any accuracy, his claim that some BDS leaders and activists are connected to "terrorism" and "terrorist organizations" further amplifies this between-the-lines license to kill.
The US administration and the EU are also responsible, of course, for this criminal impunity. Other than providing the life-line for Israel's regime of apartheid and occupation, arming it to its teeth and protecting it from any serious international sanctions for decades, the US and the EU sent their Tel Aviv ambassadors to participate in this Israeli anti-BDS conference. They have yet to raise a peep in protest over the implicit threat to neutralize human rights defenders that were made there.
This amounts to a tacit US and EU green light to Israel to go ahead with its mad and illegal war on the nonviolent BDS movement and its main activists, in Palestine and around the world.
This is the reason why I am seriously concerned for my physical safety and that of my Palestinian, Israeli and international BDS colleagues. We hold the Israeli government responsible for any physical harm that may be inflicted on any of us as a result of this vile attempt to silence our voices.
We also hold the US administration and the EU partially responsible for any such attacks.Regardless of their position on BDS, human rights organizations and citizens of the world who care about civil rights and human rights are called upon to take a clear position defending our right to advocate for BDS as a matter of conscience and free speech. They are also called upon to condemn in unambiguous terms this unprecedented Israeli government incitement to violence against Palestinian and other human rights defenders.
Moshe Dayan once said that "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." The current Israeli regime is scrupulously heeding Dayan's advice. But "mad dogs" can be stopped. Indeed, mad dogs must be stopped, as there is no telling whom they may bite next.