Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Update: Australian BDS Conference: 29 - 31st October 2010


Building Solidarity, Combating Occupation and Apartheid
National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference
Melbourne, 29 - 31 October 2010

- activism in support of Palestine -

Endorsed by the Palestinian BDS National Committee

Our confirmed speakers so far include:

Rafeef Ziadah
Rafeef is a Palestinian activist, unionist and spoken word artist. She is a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) Rafeef is also a founding member of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) promoting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestement and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in Canada and an organizer of the international Israeli Apartheid Week. Rafeef is a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and was a member of the CUPE’s international solidarity committee for 3 years

Anna Baltzer
Anna is a Jewish-American Columbia graduate and Fulbright, who has worked as a volunteer with the International Women's Peace Service in the Occupied West Bank, documenting human rights abuses and supporting Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. Anna is the author of the book Witness in Palestine and speaks widely in the USA and internationally on the Palestinian struggle for human rights and self-determination. Anna is being brought to Australia as part of a national speaking tour organised by Australians for Palestine and will speak at the Australian national BDS conference on Saturday.

Samah Sabawi

Samah is an Australian-Palestinian writer and social justice activist. She is co-author of Journey to Peace in Palestine and a former executive director of the National Council on Canada Arab Relations.

Ofer Neiman
Ofer Neiman is a co-editor of the Occupation Magazine, and one of the activists in the Israeli support group for the BDS campaign, “BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within”. He works as an editor and a translator. He believes that Israeli peace and anti-occupation groups will not be able to change reality from within, without support from the outside. Ofer will join the conference launch via internet/video hook up from Jerusalem.

Kevin Bracken
Kevin is a long-time unionist and supporter of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, as well as other social justice issues. Kevin is currently the Secretary of the Victorian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia and the President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council.

Yousef Alreemawi
Yousef is a Palestinian academic and advocate for Palestinian and refugee rights. Yousef also presents Palestine Remembered, Australia’s only English language program on Palestine, on Radio 3CR. He is also the founder of ASPIRE – the Australian Society for Palestinian Iraqi Refugees Emergency – an humanitarian project which seeks to resettle in Australia, Palestinian-Iraqi refugees living in refugee camps on the Iraq/Syrian border.

Alex Whisson
Alex is a long time Palestine solidarity activist. He is the former convenor of Friends of Palestine in Western Australia and is currently the Public Advocate for Australians for Palestine in Melbourne

Kim Sattler
Kim is a long-time unionist, who was active in the South African anti-apartheid campaign. Kim is currently the Secretary of Unions ACT in Canberra. Kim has recently returned from Palestine, where she participated in the Union Aid Abroad APHEDA Middle East Study Tour 2010

Ginny Adams
Ginny is an organiser with the Health and Community Sector Union. Ginny has been active in the Palestinian and refugee rights campaigns for more than 10 years. She recently returned from Palestine, where she participated in the Union Aid Abroad APHEDA Middle East Study Tour 2010

Ken Davis
Ken is a long-time unionist and social justice campaigner. He is a member of the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine in Sydney.

Conference Registration: All weekend $30/22 (incl: Conference launch meeting) Daily $15/$10 Conference Launch meeting $5
Conference registration: email

FRIDAY – 29th October
7pm – 9pm The international Boycott campaign and the struggle for a Free Palestine
VENUE: STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA, cnr of La Trobe and Swanston St, Melbourne
Rafeef Ziadah (Palestinian BNC)
Kim Sattler (Secretary, Unions ACT)
Yousef Al Reemawi (Palestinian academic)
Ofer Neiman (BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from Within Israel)

SATURDAY – 30th October
8.45 – 9.15am Registration

9.15am Welcome/Opening Conference Organising Committee
9.30am – 10.45amPopular struggle: BDS and a short history of civil disobedience and struggle in Palestine and internationally

Alex Whisson – Australians for Palestine
Anna Baltzer - author, Witness in Palestine

10.45-11.15am Break

11.15am – 12.45pm Struggle and Solidarity: Lessons from Palestine Solidarity work internationally
Samah Sabawi – Palestinian writer/former Executive Director of National Council on Canada Arab Relations
Rafeef Ziadah - Palestinian BDS National Committee
Kevin Bracken, State Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia (Vic)

12.45pm-1.30pm Lunch

1.30pm – 2.30pm National Targets Proposals - Conference organising committee

2.30pm – 4pm Discussion of proposed National Targets Break into sectoral groups – Unions Campus/Faith based/ Community/Culture

4pm– 4.30pm Break

4.30pm – 5.45pm Solidarity in Action workshops
(1) Australian Flotilla project – Gaza Defence Committee
(2) Palestinian-Iraqi refugees and re-settlement in Australia – ASPIRE
(3) Lessons from Students for Palestine
(4) Volunteering in Palestine – International Women’s Peace Service

Fear of a Brown Planet,
The Brothahood,
The Conch,
hil Monsour Band and;
Rafeef Ziadah

Middle East Food and drinks available



9am – 9.30pm Registration and welcome

9.30pm – 10.45am Apartheid: South Africa, Israel and international law.
Ken Davis - Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine
Ginny Adams – union organiser

10.45am- 11.15am Break

11.15am-12.15pm Palestine Q & A with Rafeef Ziadah and others

12.15pm 1pm lunch

1pm – 2.30pm Hasbara busting: Countering Israel’s propaganda war and attempts to delegitimise BDS.
Samah Sawbawi - Palestinian writer/former Executive Director of National Council on Canada Arab Relations
Kim Bullimore – International Women’s Peace Service-Palestine

2.30pm –3pm Break

3 pm – 4.45pm Decision on National BDS target/campaign

4.45pm – 5pm Closing of conference

Monday, September 20, 2010

Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouin

Dear friends,
please find below my latest article published in Direct Action. Since the publication of the article al-Arakib has been destroyed for a fifth time.

in solidarity, Kim

Home » Issue 26: September 2010
Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouin

By Kim Bullimore

Israeli military and police razed the Bedouin village of al-Arakib in the Negev desert for a fourth time on August 17, leaving homeless more than 300 Palestinian Bedouin from the al-Turi tribe, the majority of them children.

The village was first razed on July 27 by so-called Green Patrols from the Israeli Land Administration, under the protection of more than 1500 heavily armed police. According to a July 27 report by the Bethlehem-based Alternative Information Centre, the police were “carrying firearms and stun grenades, followed by a special patrol unit, helicopter, mounted horsemen and bulldozers”. The Green Patrol, using bulldozers, destroyed 45 structures, including dozens of homes, as well as agricultural buildings and livestock pens.

Al-Arakib is home to the al-Turi tribe and is one of 45 “unrecognised” villages in the Negev. These villages are home to more than 80,000 Palestinian Bedouin, approximately half of the Bedouin population of the region. Despite the majority of the villages being in existence before the establishment of the Israeli state, repeated Israeli governments have refused to give them legal status. As a result, the villages are systematically excluded from government maps and the provision of local and national government infrastructure, such as electricity, water, telephone lines and educational and health facilities and services.
Ban on development

Video by Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana

According to Adalah, the Legal Centre for the Arab Minority in Israel, “the [Israeli] government refuses to allow any physical infrastructure development in these villages, thus prohibiting the building and repairing of homes and the construction of paved roads and proper sewage facilities in these communities. New construction requires a permit from the government; however, without a local council, the residents do not have an office from which to request a permit. Consequently, any new construction by the residents is declared illegal and potentially targeted for demolition.”

According to Professor Oren Yiftachel, an Israeli researcher and human rights lawyer who has represented Bedouin communities in courts and planning forums, the al-Turi tribe were forcibly relocated in the 1950s from their traditional land, which al-Arakib village is built on. The villagers, however, returned to the land in defiance of the Israeli state a decade ago, establishing al-Arakib.

In 1948, prior to the establishment of the Israeli state, more than 100,000 Palestinian Bedouin, making up 95 tribes, lived in the Negev (or Naqab as it is known in Arabic). They made up approximately 99% of the region’s inhabitants. In mid-1948, however, the Bedouin, along with other Palestinian Arabs, were ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces. In the wake of the 1948 Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic), which marked the destruction of Palestinian society by Zionist forces, only 19 tribes remained inside the ceasefire lines, which became the 1948 boundaries for the newly created Zionist state.

Palestinian Bedouin family from al-Arakib watch their home destroyed
Photo courtesy of Active Stills.

According to Hazem Jamjoum, the editor of al-Majdal — a journal published by the Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugees rights - “the approximately 10,000 Palestinian Bedouin who managed to remain in the Naqab were systematically rounded up and forcibly transferred and confined to the so-called Siyaj (fenced) area located in the north-east corner of the Naqab, just south of the West Bank, in a triangle marked by the towns of Beersheba, Arad and Dimona”. These “fenced” or “closed” areas made up about 10% of the ancestral land belonging to the Palestinian Bedouin. Jamjoum notes in the Autumn 2008-Winter 2009 edition of al-Majdal: “[B]y the early 1950s, more than 90,000 Palestinian Bedouin were forcibly displaced, most of them becoming refugees in the adjacent Gaza strip, West Bank, Sinai Peninsula and Jordan”.
‘Dead’ land

In an article for Haaretz’s online Hebrew edition on August 6 (translated by the Middle East News Service), Yiftachel notes that the Israeli state declared all Palestinian Bedouin land in 1948 “dead” land, claiming the land was unsettled, unassigned and uncultivated. However, “Bedouin lands were managed for generations by a well functioning traditional land ownership system, which allocated residential, agricultural and grazing lands, and adjudicated on land disputes, under the approval of the Ottoman and British rulers. While the Bedouin did not register their land in the British land title books (a fact used against them by Israel), no-one can seriously say that the lands around Beersheba were ‘dead’.” Yiftachel points out that the claim by the Israeli state that the land in the Negev was “dead” resembles the terra nullius doctrine in Australia, which claimed that Australia was an “empty land” prior to being colonised by the British.

Between 1948 and 1967, the dispossession and oppression of Palestinian Bedouin and Arabs continued under a discriminatory martial law that did not apply to Jewish Israelis. As a result, Palestinian citizens of Israel were not allowed to leave or enter their towns unless they were granted permits to do so, their employment was restricted and they were subjected to regular curfew.

Israeli highschoolers volunteering as "police guards" watching the destruction of al-Arakib cheered as the Bedouin's houses were destroyed. Earlier they had enter the house to remove furniture. See Max Blumenthal's report at:
Photo by Ata Abu Madyam of Arab Negev News.

In 1952, Israel granted citizenship to the Palestinian Bedouin, along with other internally displaced Palestinian refugees who found themselves inside the new Zionist state. However, as Jamjoum notes, Israel conditioned the citizenship upon the Bedouin registering with one of the 18 tribes formally recognised by the state and remaining sedentary permanently in government-built towns.

During the period of martial law, Palestinian Bedouin were kept under surveillance by the military Unit 101 and Green Patrols under the auspices of the minister of agriculture (at the time Ariel Sharon). The primary role of the two units was to maintain military control over the Palestinian Bedouin and to continue the ethnic cleansing of the tribes, which were systematically expelled up until 1954. The Green Patrols were created to fight Bedouin “infiltration” into their former ancestral lands, which had now been claimed by the Israeli state. The main aim of the patrols was to prevent the Bedouin from re-establishing residence on their ancestral land.

In addition, the Israeli state seeks to prevent Bedouin use of the land by planting trees via the Jewish National Fund. While the JNF claims that it is rehabilitating the land, critics claim the main purpose of the tree planting is to ensure control of the land and the Bedouin. According to Nasser Victor Rego, writing on the Middle East Online website, the primary purpose of the plan is to free the land of “obstacles” and “nuisances” in order to free the land for Jewish settlement. Rego points out: “These ‘obstacles’ and ‘nuisances’ are the Arab Bedouin of the Naqab”.

Bedouin boy sitting in the ruins of his destroyed house. Photo by Dr Lawerence Davidson.

Similarly on December 8, 2008, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper carried an article outlining the JNF’s plan to increase the number of trees being planted in the Negev. However, Dr. Yehoshua Shkedi, director of the science division of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, noted that the JNF often carries out tree planting “without proper planning and changes areas containing a rich variety of unique plants and animals”. Shkedi told Haaretz: “We’ve spoken to the JNF people about this a number of times and have tried to persuade them to change the way they work, but nothing helps”. Haaretz also noted that many experts had pointed out that “the purpose of the planting is to keep illegal Bedouin construction at bay”.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Bedouin is a part of its overall ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs. However, despite, the destruction of al-Arakib, the al-Turi tribe and other Palestinian Bedouin have vowed to continue to rebuild al-Arakib and other razed villages. On July 27, Israel’s YNet news service quoted al-Arakib spokesperson and local resident Dr. Awad Abu-Farikh as saying: “Today we got a close glimpse of the government’s true face. We were stunned to witness the violent force being used. The black-clad special unit forces are the true face of Lieberman’s [leader of the anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu party and Israeli foreign minister] democracy. This operation is the first step in the uprooting of many villages. We shall return to our villages, build our homes and not leave this place.”

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Israel wants from the Palestinians, it takes

Dear friends,
a very good article by Palestinian-American journalist Ahmed Moor in the LA Times.

in solidarity, Kim


What Israel wants from the Palestinians, it takes
By colonizing the West Bank and depriving Palestinians of basic rights, Israel has made a two-state solution impossible.

By Ahmed Moor

September 17, 2010,0,4480633.story

Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael B. Oren, argues in his Sept. 15 Times Op-Ed article that Israelis want peace, and I believe him. They've said so often enough. But the Israelis want lots of other things too.

For instance, they want the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, they want the Palestinian aquifers situated beneath the West Bank, and they want to preserve their racial privilege in the Jewish state. They also want to shear the Gaza Strip from Palestine.

Most of all, the Israelis want Palestinian quiescence in the face of Israeli wants. Those wants have made the two-state solution impossible to implement.

For decades, the Israelis have taken what they want from the Palestinians. Consequently, there are about 500,000 settlers in Jewish-only colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, the Israelis are discovering that what one wants and what one can afford sometimes diverge.

Some Israelis — but apparently not Oren — are beginning to realize that the deep, irreversible colonization of territory comes with a price: the end of the Jewish state as it is. It's a painful lesson to learn, especially after decades of superpower indulgence. America's obsequious coddling turns out to have been a curse for the Jewish state. Serious cost-benefit analyses around occupation policies — collectively, apartheid — were evidently never conducted.

When Israel killed 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza — proportionally equivalent to 300,000 Americans — in Operation Cast Lead, incoming President Obama stayed mum. The Israelis counted on and got American cover. But they didn't anticipate the impact of Richard Goldstone's damning report on world opinion and the American layperson's views. No one seems to have ever asked, "Wait, what will killing more than 300 children do to our image abroad? Can we afford to launch an assault against a defenseless and captive population just because President Bush says we can while Obama remains silent?"

Oren's words fail to obscure the "facts on the ground" Israel has established in recent decades. These facts were engineered to entrench Israel's permanent presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The conversation the ambassador is engaging in would have been timelier 42 years ago before Israel's colonies killed the two-state solution, which was never an equitable solution anyway.

Today, the ambassador's words are not just empty platitudes to peace but also effectively irrelevant. That's because honest and well-informed observers understand that there will never be a viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.

Obama's circus — the so-called peace process — is designed only to pacify the perennial bugaboo of U.S. politics. The Israel lobby wants to promote the illusion that Israelis want a Palestinian state to enable the continued colonization of occupied land. It's unclear why anyone seems to think that the theatrics are an effective smokescreen at this late stage.

Yet the reality is that Palestine/Israel is already one country. Five hundred thousand settler-colonists in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have congealed in place; small numbers may be evacuated, but the vast majority are not going anywhere.

Furthermore, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stand for no one and nothing. The two men have no democratic mandate. Their terms in office having long expired, they are propped up by American and Israeli leaders who seek weak leaders as more apt to concede fundamental Palestinian rights. Of course, these are concessions they are incapable of making legitimately.

Abbas' presidential term ended in January 2009, and Fayyad was illegally reappointed after the Fatah coup attempt against Hamas in June 2007. They cooperate so extensively with Israeli forces that the Palestinian Authority is more like a subcontracted colonial government than an adversarial negotiating party.

Obama recently asserted that Abbas knows "the window for creating a Palestinian state is closing." But Abbas, Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are already too late. Unless Abbas accepts noncontiguous "Bantustans" and uses U.S.-trained forces to enforce the abandonment of Palestinian rights, one state will become increasingly clear to all involved as the only alternative to apartheid. In effect, Israel will have colonized itself out of existence.

As in South Africa, it is time for Israeli leaders to embrace a pluralistic and humanistic vision for the state. Rather than lecture on Israel's desire for a lopsided "peace," Oren should begin to imagine a state in which each person — Jewish or non-Jewish — is equal under the law irrespective of religion or race. He can begin to imagine an apartheid-free society.

To see it in practice, he could travel through the American South. Yes, the American South and post-apartheid South Africa are not perfect, but they are dramatically improved over the reality of 50 years ago — a discriminatory and racist reality still endured today by Palestinians.

To be fair, we Palestinians also want a lot. We want what people everywhere else do: to live as free human beings in our country, in the absence of a foreign military occupation. We want to return to our towns and cities that were ethnically cleansed of us in 1948. We want to vote for our government, the one that controls every aspect of our lives. We want a united Jerusalem. And, when the state is united, we want an ambassador who speaks for all of us, not just the Jewish half of the country.

Put differently, we want equality and justice.

Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian American journalist living in Beirut.

Friday, September 17, 2010


The International Women¹s Peace Service (IWPS) is a team of international female human-rights volunteers in Palestine who provide accompaniment to Palestinian civilians (including farmers during the annual olive harvest), document and non-violently intervene in human-rights abuses and support acts of non-violent resistance to end the Israeli military occupation and construction of the barrier throughout the West Bank.

IWPS is currently inviting applications from women based in Australia and New Zealand who would like to join our team of long-term volunteers.

We are also inviting applications from women who would like to work with IWPS on a short term basis.

Long-term volunteer applicants will be expected to serve a minimum of one 3 month term in the West Bank, Palestine, as well as supporting our work outside of Palestine. Applicants should be able to commit to further terms in Palestine of one to three months in their 2nd and 3rd year of commitment to IWPS.

Please visit our Long Term Volunteer Page on our website (www.iwps,info) for more information or alternatively you can request an application pack by emailing us at

We are also accepting application from women who would like to work with IWPS on a short term basis in 2010 and 2011 (minimum of 3 weeks). Please visit our Short Term Volunteer Page on our website ( for more information.

Successful Australian and New Zealand applicants (both long-term and short-term) will be invited to 4 day training program and meeting in Melbourne, Australia (November 12 – 15th).

If you would like more information and/or would like to receive an Application Package please visit our Volunteer Pages at where you will find Application Documents, Contact information, answers to Frequently Asked Questions and suggestions about other ways you can help our efforts or you can email us at:

Deadline for Australian/New Zealand applications: 8 October, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Israel escalates assaults on democratic rights

Dear friends,
please find below my article on escalting assault on democratic rights in Israel which appeared in the August edition of Direct Action.

in solidarity, Kim

**Home » Issue 25: August 2010
Israel escalates assaults on democratic rights

By Kim Bullimore

Haneen Zoabi, a member of the Israeli Knesset, was stripped of her parliamentary privileges on July 13 following her participation in the Gaza flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli commandos who murdered nine human rights activists.

Zoabi attacked in the Israeli Knesset when speaking about the murder on the Mavi Marmara.
Zoabi, one of the 10 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who are members of the Knesset, was stripped of her right to hold a diplomatic passport, the right to free legal counsel in case she faces trial and all privileges related to travelling overseas as a member of parliament. Zoabi also faces threats of criminal charges by Israel’s Attorney General Department for her participation in the flotilla.
Assault in parliament

Zoabi, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was attacked, recounted her experience to the Knesset on 2 June. According to the June 3 Jerusalem Post, Knesset members from both the coalition and opposition parties not only sought to shout down Zoabi, but also physically charged the podium in an attempt to stop her from continuing her speech. When other Palestinian members of the Knesset attempted to prevent the physical attacks on Zoabi, they were also attacked.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Likud member Miri Regev screamed abuse at Zoabi, yelling at her “Go back to Gaza, you traitor”, while another member from the supposedly centrist Kadima party accused Zoabi of being a terrorist. On June 2, Israeli news site YNet reported that during the session, Moshe Mutz Matalon, from the openly racist anti-Arab Yisrael Beitenu party, also praised the murder of the nine human rights activists on the Mavi Marmara, saying, “Unfortunately, the [commando] fighters acted with too much restraint. They left only nine floating voters.”

Before being screamed down, Zoabi stated that she felt it was her moral and political duty to participate in the flotilla and to oppose the imprisonment of 1.5 million people. Zoabi also pointed out to those calling her a criminal, that unlike the Israeli commandos, she did not murder anyone. In a press release later issued by her parliamentary office, Zoabi noted: “Israel, following the international reaction to its bloody attack on the humanitarian flotilla, is embarrassed and confused. Unable to deal with the shock and anger of the international community, I have become their punching bag.”

In an attempt to silence Zoabi and other members of the Knesset who did not toe the Zionist line, a number of Knesset members announced that they had drafted legislation to punish Zoabi for exercising her right to freedom of speech and to prevent her from running in future Knesset elections.
Silencing critics

Zoabi about to board the Mavi Marmara

US Jewish blogger Tony Greenstein wrote on June 8 that the attacks on Zoabi were an attack on the entirety of Israel’s Palestinian Arab population. According to Greenstein, “What we are seeing is not merely a personal vendetta but a deliberate and concerted attempt to humiliate, intimidate and persecute a political representative of Israel’s Arab citizens, who comprise 20% of the population”.

The attack on Zoabi, while a part of the campaign to silence and further marginalise Israel’s Palestinian citizens, is also part of a broader attempt to silence internal critics, both Palestinian and Jewish, of Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. In May, Dr Omar Saeed, a member of Zoabi’s Balad party and Amir Makhoul, the director general of Ittijah (Union of Arab Community-based Associations) were arrested when their homes were raided in the middle of the night. The two men were accused of spying for Hezbollah. Their arrests were not initially made public due to the military censor, a department of the Israeli government, imposing a gag order preventing the media from reporting the arrests. The arrests became public knowledge in Israel only after international bloggers began a campaign to free Makhoul, forcing the Israeli military to lift the gag order.

Amir Makhoul giving a speech before his arrest

On June 8, Saeed was sentenced to seven months’ jail after striking a plea bargain with the state, which charged him with “servicing an illegal organisation” rather than “contact with a foreign agent” and “delivery of information for the benefit the enemy”. In a media statement, Saeed’s legal team noted, “The cancellation of the most serious charges against Dr. Saeed proves that the State Prosecution inflated the charges to begin with in order to justify its arbitrary and illegal actions ... against him”. The flimsiness of the case was demonstrated in a June 8 article published by YNet. According to YNet, while an apparent Hezbollah agent had approached the 50-year-old Saeed in Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt in 2008, Saeed had rejected the alleged agent’s overtures and later ripped up the contact details given to him, rebuffing any further contact.

Two days earlier, on June 6, Makhoul, whose lawyers had been prevented from seeing him for 12 days and who suspected he’d been tortured in custody, was finally able to speak with the Israeli media when his court case began. Makhoul said his and Saeed’s arrests, as well as the attacks on Zoabi, had nothing to do with security, but were part of “a trend of breaking the bones of political figures”.

The Israeli state’s attack on dissenting citizens, particularly Palestinian Arab citizens, is nothing new. Since its beginning, the Zionist state has sought punitive control of the Palestinian population in both Israel and the occupied territories. From 1948 until 1966, Palestinians living inside Israel, despite nominally being Israeli citizens, were subject to military regulations. Unlike Jewish citizens, Palestinian Arabs were subject to severe restrictions on their movement and prohibited from organising politically; Palestinian Arab political associations and parties were banned and Palestinian Arab publications censored.
New campaigns

Since the 2009 Israeli election, which resulted in Yisrael Beteinu forming government with Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, dozens of anti-democratic laws, specifically aimed at further marginalising Palestinian citizens, have been introduced into the Knesset. The last year has also brought a dramatic increase in the attacks, both in the Knesset and in broader Israeli society, on the political and civil rights of Jewish Israelis who oppose the government’s occupation and apartheid policies.

While Yisrael Beteinu, Likud and Kadima have introduced and supported bills to criminalise and jail any Israeli citizen advocating for the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, extreme right groups have launched a campaign against a range of Israeli human rights and civil society organisations. In early 2010, a campus-based group, Im Tirtzu, which receives partial funding from the Christians for Israel lobby led by anti-Semitic preacher John Hagee, targeted Naomi Chazan and the New Israel Fund (NIF). Im Tirtzu’s campaign, which included full-page advertisements, sought to depict Chazan and the NIF as treasonous informants. The attack also sought to discredit the many Israeli human rights and civil society groups that had received NIF funding and had exposed the human rights abuses carried out by Israel in the occupied territories, as well as the war crimes it engaged in during its 22-day assault on Gaza in 2008-2009.

In April 2010, a survey commissioned by the Tel Aviv University-based Tami Steinmetz Centre for Peace Research found that the majority of Jewish Israelis held similar positions to that of Im Tirtzu, favouring closing down Israeli human rights organisations that exposed human rights abuses by Israel’s military. According to the survey, more than half of the Jewish Israelis surveyed believe that “there is too much freedom of expression” in Israel, while nearly 58% believed that Israeli human rights organisations that expose abuses carried out by Israel shouldn’t be allowed to operate freely. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper on April 28 stated, “The poll also found that most of the respondents favour punishing Israeli citizens who support sanctioning or boycotting the country, and support punishing journalists who report news that reflects badly on the actions of the defence establishment”. In addition, 65% believed that the Israeli media should be censored and barred from publishing any news deemed by defence officials to endanger state security.

In reaction to the survey, Daniel Bar-Tal, a professor at Tel Aviv University, told Haaretz, “Israelis have a distorted perception of democracy”, and “the public recognises the importance of democratic values, but when they need to be applied, it turns out most people are almost anti-democratic”.