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Ayoon wa Azan (The International (not Arab) Campaign Continues).

Singer Elton John held a concert in Israel, and Israelis held a celebration to celebrate the concert. They did so because the British singer did not cancel his concert, as have musicians and groups from around the world, to protest Israeli policy, and especially the attack on the Freedom Flotilla and the killing of activists. This reminded the world of the existence of a Fascist state that inherited the Apartheid regime of South Africa.

I have written on more than one occasion that Israel will meet the same fate as South Africa. Every journalist and researcher who lived during those days and can still remember them will find many similarities between the boycott of South Africa and what is being faced today by Israel, the ally of Pretoria in racism, to the extent of bilateral nuclear cooperation.

The boycott by a number of several churches, especially since Israel has always sought allies on this front, is much more important than the boycott by singers. It continues to find support from Christian Zionists, in the Bible Belt of the United States; they are the electoral "base" of George W Bush, which explains their ignorance.

Today, a group called Churches for Middle East Peace is made up of a number of Protestant churches, which in the past were not against Israel. These churches share their stance on the Middle East, and particularly the Palestinian issue, with the majority of the Catholic church, and Eastern Orthodox ones (Greece, Russia, etc.), and oppose Israeli policies. They call on their members to adhere to three principles in dealing with it: boycott, divestment and sanctions (or BDS).

Three months before the attack on the Freedom Flotilla, a group of churches sent this letter to President Barack Obama, requesting that America follow a balanced policy vis-Ea-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict. They spoke about the suffering of 1.4 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, under a siege that deprives them of the bare daily essentials. It was noticeable that around 6,000 followers of these churches supported these stances and sent similar letters to the American president.

Two days after the attack on the flotilla, the primate of the Episcopalian Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, sent a letter to President Obama in which she criticized the blockade and said it would not achieve its objectives. The Palestinians in Gaza, she said, were subject to deprivation and hardship, and children there were suffering from malnutrition. She said the US administration's duty was to not support a bad blockade, but instead to work with its allies to lift it.

Such positions were not heard in the past. I am of the generation that remembers the saying that the United States had a "Christian heritage," and this gradually changed, since the end of the 1960s, to become a "Judeo-Christian heritage." Israel exploits the Holocaust and the guilt in the west, which allowed the Nazis to kill the Jews of Europe, and only intervened after it was too late.

Israel, which inherited the survivors of the Holocaust, has now become accused of doing what it accused the Nazis of. We know that many Jews, some of them international figures, have begun to attack Israel and support the Palestinians. I have written about some of them in the past, and today I will mention Joel Beinin, a professor at Stanford University. His parents were Zionists and he worked in a kibbutz in Israel. He now attacks Israeli imperialism and teaches, speaks and writes against Israel, and refers to those who carry out suicide attacks as martyrs.

The stance by universities, professors and students is as important as that of the churches. There is a 15-page report before me, entitled the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, which actually extends to Europe and the entire world, as the names of participating groups indicate. It calls for canceling the invitations to Israeli academics to visit universities abroad, or urges foreign professors to stay away from attending conferences in Israel, in line with the boycott.

This campaign has been around for years, but it was limited. However, the wars against Lebanon and Gaza, the killing of peace advocates in international waters, and the presence of an extremist, fascist Israeli government have isolated Israel from the rest of the world, to the degree that this isolation is being addressed in the Israeli press every day.

Israel has strong backers, which the old South Africa lacked, and there is an Israeli lobby, and an American Congress that was purchased by this lobby. There are Likudnik Americans whose only loyalty is to the criminal state, and I am afraid that we will do something that helps Israel exit its isolation.

But I am writing as the international (not Arab) campaign continues against Israel, just as it did against the old South Africa.

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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 5, 2010
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