BDS Update: Anti-apartheid Hagues

Despite the stranglehold Israel lobbies have on Euro-parliaments and politicians, there have been some surprisingly plucky official moves to protest illegal Israeli settlements recently.

Israeli mayoral visits to Spain and the Netherlands were nixed in September because the delegation included leaders of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The visit of thirty Israeli mayors to the Netherlands was organised by the Israeli branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) after the Spanish municipal organisation cancelled a proposed visit in light of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

The Dutch conference was to be hosted by the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), located in The Hague. The aim of the trip was purportedly to learn more about the Dutch system of local, regional and national authorities, though such official visits are really an Israeli ploy to provide de facto recognition of illegal settlements.

The JDC and the Union of Local Authorities in Israel tried to arrange the tour through the embassy of the Netherlands in Tel Aviv, including mayors of West Bank settlements Beit Aryeh, Har Adar, Kiryat Arba, Oranit, Beit El, Efrat and Elkana, but when informed, VNG refused to host the delegation as long as the occupation mayors were part of it. “When they asked for the list we realised we had run aground,” said head of the Council of Efrat Oded Revivi, though the JDC has facilitated similar trips to Denmark, France and China.

The Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee emphasised that there are more than 150 settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, housing 475,000 settlers on more than forty per cent of the West Bank. After VNG’s decision to call off the visit, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen came under fire from Dutch right-wing parliamentarians. Geert Wilders, leader of Party for Freedom, demanded that Verhagen force VNG to proceed with the planned visit. Pro-Israeli Verhagen surprised parliament by supporting VNG, admitting that Israeli settlements are in violation of international law.

VNG did the same in the 1990s, urging Dutch cities to support the South African anti-apartheid movement when the national government was reluctant to. Amsterdam declared itself an “anti-apartheid city”, boycotting South Africa and hosting the ANC representative for the Netherlands. The VNG’s principled position today is once again paving the way for otherwise timid politicians like Verhagen to stand up to Israeli apartheid.


Israel’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in May was a coup for the country, in face of its 2008 invasion of Gaza and continued settlement activity. This entry in the European Union via the backdoor was quickly used by Israel to try to try to secure de facto recognition of Jerusalem its new capital by hosting an OECD tourism conference in West Jerusalem in October.

However, this backfired as 11 countries boycotted the High Level Roundtable rather than provide the long-sought recognition, including Norway, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Iceland, Turkey and South Africa. Other countries sent only low-level delegations: Greece a Tel-Aviv staffer from the Greek information office and Denmark a statistician. The Czech Republic was the only EU country to send a political representation. The Swedish delegation to the OECD indicated that their boycott of the conference was in conformity to EU policy on the status of Jerusalem.

The tipping point was when Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov boasted to the press that the meeting — the first OECD meeting hosted by Israel since it became a member — was proof that OECD members recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. In a strongly worded letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, OECD General Secretary Angel Gurria called the comments “factually incorrect and quite unacceptable”.

Even the drivers at the ill-fated Roundtable, hired to shepherd delegates around the Holy Sites, raised a furor, as they turned out to be from the extremist Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, which has built and has jurisdiction over 42 West Bank settlements.

Critics of Israeli membership in the OECD assert that Israel does not meet the required economic and human rights standards for membership, and that OECD members who allowed Israel to join did so in violation of their own commitments to the Geneva Conventions. Israeli economic data submitted to the OECD brazenly includes information relating to illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory, amounting to an implicit OECD endorsement of the Israeli occupation.

The BDS National Committee described the Roundtable boycott as “clear condemnation of Israel’s continued ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem”. BDS coordinator Hind Awwad said, “That countries like Canada and the UK, which are traditionally staunch defenders of Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation, have refused to attend the conference is a significant development.”

The scandal confirms that it is impossible to deal with Israel without abetting its occupation of Palestinian territories and its daily violations of human rights and international law, forcing even the most pro-Israel countries in the West to join the BDS campaign, despite their official condemnation of it.


It is not just the Israeli government that is guilty, but all Israeli organisations, especially universities, which collaborate with the occupation through research. This prompted 200 academics from 14 South African universities last month to support University of Johannesburg’s decision to end collaboration with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “As academics we acknowledge that all of our scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts — particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific’ work.”

South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, in a response to an investigation commissioned by the South African government in 2009, issued a report confirming that the everyday structural racism and oppression imposed by Israel constitutes a regime of apartheid and settler colonialism similar to the one that shaped lives in South Africa.


Despite the strong Friends of Israel lobby in all three British political parties and the fragile UK coalition government, on 3 November, another Hague caught Europe off-guard, this time British Foreign William Hague, who defied official Israel and met with Palestinian and Israeli anti-Wall activists in Bitunia south of Ramallah, overlooking Ofer prison, where many activists are in jail.

“When negotiations seem like an eternally unfulfilled promise due to Israel’s unwillingness to reach a fair solution, popular resistance to the Occupation is the sole remaining possible alternative for the Palestinians to achieve their rights and avoid armed struggle,” Hague encouraged the activists, promising them the support of the British government in their struggle.

Eric Walberg is a journalist who worked in Uzbekistan and is now writing for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo. He is the author of From Postmodernism to Postsecularism and Postmodern Imperialism. His most recent book is Islamic Resistance to Imperialism. Read other articles by Eric, or visit Eric's website.

16 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 24th, 2010 at 9:01am #

    i’v been waiting for this for over 40 yrs. this is heartwarming.
    yes, canada, or its supremacists, have always been gungho for stealing other peoples’ land or fighting wars against nonsupremacists! tnx

  2. MichaelKenny said on November 24th, 2010 at 9:28am #

    To the above long list could be added that Israeli attempts to have goods produced in the settlements admitted to the EU under the EU-Israel trade agreement have failed. Such goods are not produced in Israel and thus have to be imported under the EU-Palestine trade agreement. Indeed, the very length of Mr Walberg’s list shows that the combination of local Jewish lobbies and US bullying is less and less effective, and is another nail in the coffin of the “Europe in America’s pocket” propaganda line. It’s not that European politicians have any great love for Palestinians. It’s just that they can see who’s winning and they want to be on the “right” side when the dust settles.

  3. shabnam said on November 24th, 2010 at 2:03pm #

    {Israel’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in May was a coup for the country}

    Both Turkey and Russia voted for admission of an apartheid state, Israel, to OECD who committed war crimes a few months earlier. Turkey like Russia is playing a game and no one should believe or support what they are saying. Turkey DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT PALESTINIAN CAUSE, but is using the situation to attack Iran’s popularity among Arab population to serve her own interest. Turkey once again showed that is in bed WITH THE CRIMINALS STATES WHO ARE KILLING MUSLIMS EVERY SINGLE DAY. DON’T TRUST TURKEY.
    Both Turkey and Russia are in bed with the criminal states, US and Israel, against the interest of IRAN AND the people in the region. No one should be deceived Turkey’s rhetoric and racist Russia since worth nothing.
    Mr. Walberg, earlier tried to fool international community by presenting Russia as a ‘VICTIM’ where today is obvious that Russia supports ZIONIST POLICY in every shape and form and Walberg is too embarrassed to follow his game any longer instead is trying to stay alive with a more ‘secure’ subject, “Palestinian” but no word on other important issue such as SAUDI ARABIA AND SUAND, like phony Arab and Iranian ‘intellectuals’.
    No one, on the other hand, is willing to talk about SUDAN where is going to be partition according to ODID YINON STRATEGY in January 2011, using American black puppets like petty slaves, Obama and Susan Rice and support of the black politicians in the Who*re houses to implement the partition. Why? Because the sell out ‘leaders’ of southern Sudan are willing to lick Israel’s behind to show they are nothing but GOOD SLAVES.

    ANGRY ARAB has reported:

    Now you know why the West and Israel are keen on partition of the Sudan
    “Salva Kiir Mayardit the President of Southern Sudan and leader of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said that he does not rule out the establishment of “good relations” with Israel including the opening of an Israeli embassy in Juba, capital of the southern province, in the event the Southerners chose to secede in a referendum due early next year. According to him, the Jewish state “is the enemy of the Palestinians only, and not an enemy of the South.”


  4. 3bancan said on November 24th, 2010 at 3:33pm #

    shabnam said on November 24th, 2010 at 2:03pm #

    Very true. Eric Walberg is just lying about the situation in the Midle East. Btw, he has a perfect counterpart here in MichaelKenny…

  5. shabnam said on November 24th, 2010 at 7:05pm #

    Some world powers are keen on widening the chasm between northern and southern Sudan so they can see the ultimate dismemberment of the country. It is crystal clear that Israel has been one of the key players behind such attempts to divvy up Sudan since the seventies. This is the chief reason Israel has been backing the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Who doesn’t know that some world powers have an eye on the rich natural resources of the country?

    The Arab world should back Sudan now more than ever, as protecting Sudan from conspiracies is tantamount to protecting several Arab countries. No doubt, Israelis have always wanted to divide Sudan like Iraq. But this is a dream that will never come true. Excuses like those pitched in by then US President George W. Bush for invading Iraq will not work in the case of Sudan.
    The referendum scheduled for January 2011 must be postponed until all the security and border issues are settled. This referendum was forced upon Al Bashir through Zionist propaganda campaign against Sudan let by a JUDEOFASCIST, CHARLES JACOBS, and black Zionists who are in the service of Israel lobby including, Martin Luther King’s family, Sharpton, Lewis and Eugene Rivers.
    Why the Arab activities are not paying any attention to Sudan? Sudanese issue is not separated from PALESTINE or IRAQ. All these countries have been destroyed by the Judeofascist expansionist plan according to ODED YINON STRATEGY where is supported by their white and black ‘president’ at the Who*re house.
    The media in the Arab world is dominated by the Saudis’ $$$$$$ where employs majority of Arab Journalists. These journalists have NO CREDIBILITY. Saudi Arabia must be boycotted by all Muslims and on Muslims alike. Why Muslims go to Mecca? Why are Arabs helping their own enemies? Support Sudan and expose Zionist and imperialist crimes against Muslims. Expose the Saudis and their ‘journalists’ in the service of Israel. Expose the black stooges in the service of the Zionists interest today.


  6. hayate said on November 24th, 2010 at 8:43pm #

    shabnam said on November 24th, 2010 at 2:03pm

    shabnam said on November 24th, 2010 at 7:05pm

    A week or so ago, the nicnac blogger had nothing but praise for the Turks and their defense of Iran. But now that Turkey snubbed israel, they are among the axis of evil. Funny how this [cough] antizionist always smears the opponents of israel, aint it. 😀

  7. 3bancan said on November 25th, 2010 at 12:38am #

    hayate said on November 24th, 2010 at 8:43pm #
    “now that Turkey snubbed israel”
    The Turks take orders from the zionazified Washington. Imho we’ll soon see them licking the boots of their zionazi friends in Israel again. (Just watch how the Russians take orders from Tel Aviv.)

    Eric Walberg has forgotten to mention this news:
    I see it as another step in the zionazification of the world.
    (Of course MichaelKenny sees in it another “nail in the coffin” of Israel, and the “specialist historian” PatrickSMcNally will of course give his final verdict “Bullshit”).
    PS: I find it a little strange that on this site there is only one person – shabnam – who keeps mentioning and protesting against the barbaric sanctions against Iran…

  8. 3bancan said on November 25th, 2010 at 12:55am #

    One should compare Eric Walberg’s superoptimism with this realism:


  9. shabnam said on November 25th, 2010 at 5:22am #

    Turkey can FOOL only people who are illiterate and not able to recognize that Turkey and Russia are following their elite’s interest which is INTERTWINE WITH THE ZIONIST’S INTEREST.

    As the New York Times reported, Turkey’s $190 million deal for Israeli drones has not been cancelled. An analyst from Jane’s Defense Weekly relays from Turkish sources that military trade between the two nations accounted for $1.8 billion in 2007, making Israel second only to the U.S. as an arms supplier to Turkey.
    As one Israeli official said, “It’s business as usual.”
    Diplomatic initiatives and overtures that reduce Mideast tensions are always welcome. It must be recognized, however, that Turkey and Israel’s motives to do so are self-serving. Many will rightly ask if Turkey is more concerned with repairing relations with Israel so it can continue to acquire the desired military technology.


  10. bozh said on November 25th, 2010 at 9:29am #

    sanctions against iran i evaluate as a criminal action. and i have said often it wld be unwise for iran not to acquire nukes.
    i, at this point of time do not know, why russia and china approve sanctions against iraq.
    i am not going to even postulate let alone affirm the causes for china’s or russia’s behavior towards iran, palestine, iraq, and afgh’n, but do posit that egalitarians [nonsupremacists] wld have severely condemned nato for their criminal behavior.
    perhaps, china had done so already?

    however, i note that not much is written about china on these sites. when it is mentioned by an odd writer, it is usually denigrated.

    people who are mad that ‘zionists’ rule america do not espy that none of them are being prosecuted for treason or breaking any u.s law.
    thus, whatever they do or don’t do, is legal. and in view of the sacrosant constitution, ‘jews’ in u.s r doing what constitution demands they do.
    one changes laws, one changes practices one doesn’t want
    getting mad at people who see this and point it out to these scared rabbits, is of no value whatever! tnx

  11. hayate said on November 25th, 2010 at 1:35pm #

    3bancan said on November 25th, 2010 at 12:38am

    Sad to see you joining the shabnam/kalidas far right niqnaq’ers with regard to zionism’s/israel’s enemies. If you can come up with some decent material supporting your view about Russia being a zionist colony, I’ll take you seriously. Otherwise, I’ll take you as another zionist tool, as I do the niqnaq’ers.

    Turkey, you are on firmer ground, though, sincetheir break with israeloamerica is more recent and much less advanced. The israeloamericans have a much stronger residual hold on Turkey through their past control of the country. Whether Turkey can successfully get free of these ziofascists/fascists still remains to be seen.

    Good link to Rozoff, btw. He consistently presents the worst case scenario, and does so accurately with good data, and is a good counterpoise to the optimism others may express about israeloamerican/nato failings. The Central Asians are very much the underdog in this “great game” cold war.

  12. Jeff White said on November 25th, 2010 at 1:36pm #

    Canada does not belong on that list of countries boycotting the OECD High-Level Roundtable in East Jerusalem. Canada has been one of the most rabid defenders of every criminal act perpetrated by Israel in the past five years. If it didn’t particpate in the Roundtable it was nothing to do with a boycott – or indeed any criticism of Israel at all.

    Canada in fact attended and participated in the OECD conference.

  13. hayate said on November 25th, 2010 at 1:44pm #

    shabnam said on November 25th, 2010 at 5:22am

    “Turkey can FOOL only people who are illiterate and not able to recognize that Turkey and Russia are following their elite’s interest which is INTERTWINE WITH THE ZIONIST’S INTEREST.”

    From the more recent piece by Walberg posted up here:

    “Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, taking a leaf from both Lavrov and Ivashov, insisted at the summit that any missile defence shield should protect NATO members from real threats, which translates into Turkish as “protecting NATO members from Israel, not Iran”. He called for a nuclear weapons-free zone ranging from Iran to Israel. Davutoglu might have felt more comfortable outside the summit with members of the “No to War – No to NATO” alliance, who continued their tradition of using NATO summits as platforms of protest against war and militarism. They installed a Square of Peace and held a counter summit and International Anti-war Assembly, suggesting their own Strategic Doctrine for NATO — euthanasia.”

    Now I understand why shabnam in the last week went from a Turkey praiser to a Turkey basher. Let’s see, how does the routine work:

    “Those naughty Turks, how could they go from defending israel to bashing israel and defending Iran, let’s use the old smear trick we used against Hamas – claim they are secretly our puppets – so their friends will distance themselves from them and make our job isolating them for take down a little easier easier. Gotta pry those lefties away so they will accept whatever we do to Turkey.”


  14. bozh said on November 25th, 2010 at 2:33pm #

    i, too, had been surprised to read that canada supports BDS. not likely, eh. tnx

  15. shabnam said on November 25th, 2010 at 5:37pm #

    {Now I understand why shabnam in the last week went from a Turkey praiser to a Turkey basher.}

    You are fool of sh*t. You should take history 101 before hitting the keyboard if you don’t want to expose yourself further..

    I am not fool like you to ‘praise’ Turkey because I know Turkey’s HISTORY that you have not read. I simply wrote: Russia and China could have voted against the sanction, like Brazil and Turkey, to avoid strangulation of Iranian economy leads to Iranian death especially children younger than 5 like what they did in Iraq. This does not mean that I praise Turkey because I know Turkey is using Iran, like Russia did, as a bargaining chip to gain concession from the US, which turkey kiss her behind… No one should trust Turkey’s president, Gul, or Erdogon; they are playing a game with Zionist stooge, Obama, to act as a pimp of US to ‘direct’ Palestine, Syria, Lebanon into imperialist orbit to isolate Iran. Turkey is looking to be ‘ the power of the region’ with US support against Iran. Thus, Turkey needs to take all Iran’s advantages in the region and make it HERS to show his master that she is worth it to kiss US behind idiot. Do you get now?

    I am warning the readers of this site for the last 3 1/2 years against Zionism. You are a new comer to this site. You are not in ANY POSITION TO TELL ME ANYTHING. To make my point clear, read the following and then get lost.

    The Sources of Arabs’ Shame: Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
    by Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar / January 10th, 2009

    Shabnam said on January 11th, 2009 at 12:10pm #

    Turkey an ally of both Israel and US also considers Iran popularity amongst population of Arab as ‘threat’ regardless of wide Turkish population’s opposition to Israel war crimes against Palestine.
    To improve Turkey’s position amongst Arabs and the European, since Turkey is interest to join the European Union, the political elite has condemned Israel’s assault on the Gaza, at least in public.
    Turkish Prime Minister Recent Tayyip Erdogan stated that Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday December 27, 2008, in which over 320 Palestinians were killed and 800 injured, was a “crime against humanity.” But a week earlier the Israeli media reported that the Turkish Air Force had signed a US$141 million deal with Israeli military companies Elbit Systems Ltd. and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) for air and space imagery intelligence systems.
    we urge Erdogan to show that he is truly against genocide in occupied land, not motivated by Iran’s popularity amongst Arabs in the Arab countries which he may considered against Turkey’s interest. Turkey has been an ally of the US and Israel since Othman empire’s demise protecting the interest of US, Israel and its political elite.

  16. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 2:37pm #

    shabnam said on November 25th, 2010 at 5:37pm #

    “You are fool of sh*t. You should take history 101 before hitting the keyboard if you don’t want to expose yourself further..”

    When you cant prove a point, then add a bit of ad hominim. It wont prove your propaganda, obviously, but it will get the conversation reduced to a insult fest, and distract them away from deconstructing your propaganda, which is even better, eh. But whatever you do, be it spamming unsubstantiated propaganda or winding up the participants, the goal must be domination of the discussion to the extent you can prevent the wrong info being discussed.