“. . . is it my country or the source of my exile? . . .” (Zuhair Abu Shaib)

1-Omar Barghouti-001
Israel imposes travel ban on BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti (Photo: Electronic Intifada, Intal/Flickr, May 10, 2016)

❶ Many Injured As Israeli Soldiers Attack The Weekly Protest In Kufur Qaddoum
❷ Senior Israeli minister: Make BDS activists in Israel ‘pay a price’
. . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner, endorses academic and cultural boycott of Israel
❸ Opinion/Analysis: BDS:  DISCUSSING  DIFFICULT  ISSUES  IN  A  FAST-GROWING  MOVEMENT.  INTERVIEW  WITH  OMAR  BARGHOUTI
❹ POETRY by Zuhair Abu Shaib
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
❶ MANY  INJURED  AS  ISRAELI  SOLDIERS  ATTACK  THE  WEEKLY  PROTEST  IN  KUFUR  QADDOUM
International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC
June 18, 2016
Israeli soldiers attacked, on Friday, the weekly protest in Kufur Qaddoum town, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia, and fired gas bombs at the protesters and homes, causing scores of residents to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.
___Media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum Morad Eshteiwy said several military vehicles invaded the town from various directions, before the soldiers stormed homes.     MORE . . .

❷ SENIOR  ISRAELI  MINISTER:  MAKE  BDS  ACTIVISTS  IN  ISRAEL  ‘PAY  A  PRICE’
+972 Magazine
Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man
June 16, 2016
Israeli Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan says that BDS advocates inside Israel must be made to pay a price and that he is working to create legislation that would do just that.
___“The message has to be that it’s not worth being a BDS activist,” the minister said at a panel on BDS at the Herzliya Conference on Thursday. “Anybody who works to delegitimize Israel, to bring an end to the Zionist enterprise, they should know that there will be a price.”       MORE . . .         RELATED.
. . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) VIET  THANH  NGUYEN,  2016  PULITZER  PRIZE  WINNER,  ENDORSES  ACADEMIC  AND  CULTURAL  BOYCOTT  OF  ISRAEL     MORE. . .

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE. For decades I have passively endured ritualistic sneering about the irrelevance of nerdy scholars in ivory towers . . . . Then, on December 16, 2013, the membership of . . . the American Studies Association (ASA), ratified a convention resolution to participate in an “academic boycott” of Israeli universities to bring to light discrimination against Palestinians. Starting with headlines in the New York Times and Washington and Washington Post the ASA decree became the vote heard round the world. . . .
[. . . .] Raging tantrums over the boycott haven’t been confined to the Right, either. Michael Kazin, a specialist on U.S. radicalism and editor of Dissent, decried the ASA proposal as “idiotic” . . . while the Chair of American Studies at Brandeis University . . .  ranted on the History News Network that the ASA “has completely gone off its rocker” with its “boneheaded boycott.”
[. . . .] What readers of the mainstream press may gain from the calibrated verbal assaults of the anti-ASA scholars . . .  is a lesson in how not to read texts; their “interpretations” of the ASA position provide repeated demonstrations of the use of language to obscure inconvenient truths from oneself as well as others.

  • Wald, Alan. “In Defense Of The ASA.” AGAINST  THE  CURRENT 39.1 (2014): 7-14.  Alan M. Wald is the H. Chandler Davis Collegiate Professor of English Literature and American Culture at the University of Michigan.      ARTICLE.

❸ Opinion/Analysis:  BDS:  DISCUSSING  DIFFICULT  ISSUES  IN  A  FAST-GROWING  MOVEMENT.  INTERVIEW  WITH  WITH  OMAR  BARGHOUTI
Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.
June 14, 2016
Israel’s attacks on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and other human rights defenders living under occupation, such as Al Haq staff, have dominated the headlines in recent weeks, including the direct threats made by leading Israeli officials against BDS activists and in particular against the movement’s co-founder Omar Barghouti.
___Beyond the headlines, the work goes on [. . . .]
___Barghouti: “BDS of course recognizes that there are other strategies and approaches; we’re just saying that we chose to focus on the rights, not the solutions, because for any political solution – determined by the majority of Palestinians everywhere – to be just, comprehensive and sustainable it must accommodate our rights under international law. Moreover, to be effective you need to have something close to a Palestinian consensus, and to achieve that we had to stick to the most principled and strategic lowest common denominator, to the most significant and least controversial goals of the Palestinian people that hardly anyone can object to: Ending the 1967 occupation, ending the system of apartheid, and fulfilling the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties from which they were ethnically cleansed during and since the Nakba. And we adhere to these rights strictly.”      MORE . . . 

“NAME  OF  THE  SOIL,”  BY  ZUHAIR  ABU  SHAIB
what is its name?
what is the name of the soil
that falls from my withered body?
what is its name as it drifts and gathers
under my clothes
while, slowly, I build wall after wall?

I picture a sky full of clouds
I see it as I wish it to be

when night falls, I gulp my fill of springs
in darkness I lift my latch
to wise men

I ask my guests
who imprisoned the soul in rock?
who left prophets spread-eagled on doorsteps?

who risks everything to capture the earth?
a man who does not know his own shadow

what can I call this rug of soil?
is it my country or the source of my exile?
is it my miracle or my cross?

what is its name?

―Translated by Tom Pow

Zuhair Abu Shaib was born in Deir al-Ghusun, a town near the city of Tulkarm in the northern West Bank. and studied at Yarmouk University. He was a teacher and journalist in Yemen, and a book designer. He was also editor of the journal Awraq.
From A  BIRD  IS  NOT  A  STONE:  AN  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  POETRY (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014) –available from Barnes & Noble.

“. . . the beaker of our ablution has been sold to a tourist from California . . .” (Samih al-Qasim)

Ayman Odeh
Threats on his life are not “a culture off death.” Palestinian  political leader Ayman Odeh heads the Joint List. (Photo: Agence France‑Presse /Ahmad Gharabli)

❶ Netanyahu says Palestinians have ‘culture of death’
❷ Israeli extremist detained after death threats
Palestinians Call On Oscar Nominees To Reject Israel Propaganda Trip
❹ Italian municipalities demand Israel stop building fence in Bethlehem
❺ Opinion/Analysis: WHY  HERZOG’S  DIPLOMATIC  PLAN  LOOKS  AN  AWFUL  LOT  LIKE  APARTHEID
❻ Poetry by Samih al-Qasim
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
NETANYAHU  SAYS  PALESTINIANS  HAVE  ‘CULTURE  OF  DEATH’
Feb. 11, 2016
Members of the Knesset on Wednesday argued the possibility of a two-state solution at a special plenum debate, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian “terror” came from a “culture of death,” according to a Knesset press release.
___During the debate, the Israeli PM and Israel’s Labor party opposition leader Isaac Herzog exchanged criticisms over the “most realistic” way to obtain a two-state solution.  More . . .
MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
PALESTINIAN  MK:  ISRAELI  EXTREMIST  DETAINED  AFTER  DEATH  THREATS
Feb. 11, 2016
A far-right Israeli extremist was reportedly detained after threatening the life of Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Ayman Odeh.
___The MK, member of the Joint List party, said the extremist was detained by Israeli police who carried out investigations into comments left by the Israeli on social media.
___Odeh said he held Israeli authorities “fully responsible” for violations committed against Palestinians, slamming attempts by the Israeli right to prevent Palestinians from realizing their rights.     More . . .
MONDOWEISS
PALESTINIANS  CALL  ON  OSCAR  NOMINEES  TO  REJECT  ISRAEL  PROPAGANDA  TRIP
Activism Palestinian BDS National Committee
Feb. 10, 2016
Palestinian human rights activists are calling on Oscar nominees not to accept travel vouchers supplied by the Israeli government as part of the gift bag . . . .
___A statement from the Israeli ministry of tourism boasted that its initiative is a chance to have “leading opinion-formers” share their visit “among millions of fans and followers”.
___Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said:
___“There are no Hunger Games in Gaza . . . .”    More . . .

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Israel’s Apartheid Wall at Bethlehem. (MEMO file photo)

THE MIDDLE EAST MONITOR (MEMO)
ITALIAN  MUNICIPALITIES  DEMAND  ISRAEL  STOPS  BUILDING  FENCE  IN  BETHLEHEM
Feb. 12, 2016
The National Association of Italian Municipalities has called for the Italian Foreign Minister Paulo Jantelaun to ask the Israeli authorities to stop excavation work and the building of new fence in Bethlehem . . . .
___Italian national TV reported the mayor of the Italian city of Prato Mathieu Pefoni saying in a letter sent to Jantelaun: “I would like to draw your attention towards what is going on in Palestinian Bethlehem. The Israeli authorities are building a new fence and carrying out an excavation campaign.”
___Pefoni said that the fence and new excavations “threaten the natural and cultural heritage of this area.”    More . . .
Opinion/Analysis
+972 MAGAZINE
WHY  HERZOG’S  DIPLOMATIC  PLAN  LOOKS  AN  AWFUL  LOT  LIKE  APARTHEID
Neve Gordon
Feb. 11, 2016
Looking closely at Labor’s plan, the logic behind it becomes clear: since it is difficult to envision a Palestinian state in the foreseeable future, Israel should no longer be ashamed of putting Palestinians in Bantustans.
On Sunday night, Israel’s Labor Party unanimously approved their leader’s diplomatic plan.
Labor’s premier Isaac Herzog laid out his vision . . . that he “wish[es] to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible.”  More . . .  

“THERE  WAS  A  VILLAGE  CALLED  SIREEN,”  BY  SAMIH  AL-QASIM

(“A Palestinian village whose feudal owner sold it for a kiss through a pane of glass…”)

Nothing remained of Sireen after the auction
apart from you, little prayer rug,
because a mother slyly stole you
and wrapped up her son who’d been sentenced to cold
and weaning – and later to sorrow and longing.

It’s said there was a village, a very small village,
on the border between sun’s gate and earth.
It’s said that the village was twice sold ―
once for a measure of oil
and once for a kiss through a pane of glass.

The buyers and sellers rejoiced at its sale,
the year the submarine was sunk,
in our twentieth century.

And in Sireen ― the buyers went over the contract ―
were white-washed houses, lovers, and trees,
folk poets, peasants, and children.
(But there was no school ―
and neither tanks
nor prisons.)
The threshing floors, the colour of golden wine,
and the graveyard
were a vault meant for life and death,
and the vault was sold!

People say that there was a village,
but Sireen became an earthquake,
imprisoned by an amulet
as it turned into a banquet―
in which the virgins’ infants
were cooked in their mothers’ milk
so soldiers and ministers
might eat along with civilization!

“And the axe is laid at the root of the tree…”
And once again at the root of the tree,
as one dear brother denies another
and existence. Officer of the orbits…
attend, O knight of death,
but don’t give in ―
death is behind us and also before us.
Knight of death, attend,
there is no time to retreat ―
darkness crowds us and now has turned
into a rancid butter,
and the forest too is full,
the serpents of blood have slithered away
and the beaker of our ablution has been
sold to a tourist from California!
There is no time now for ablution.

People say there was a village,
but Sireen became an earthquake,
imprisoned by an amulet
as it turned into a banquet―
in which the virgins’ infants
were cooked in their mothers’ milk
so soldiers and ministers
might eat, along with civilization!

From: Samih al-Qasim. SADDER  THAN  WATER:  NEW  &  SELECTED  POEMS. Trans. Nazih Kassis. Jerusalem: Ibis Editions, 2006. Available from Amazon.
About Samih al-Qasim.

“The chairs outside the cafes are taken by Western tourists. . .” (Samih Mohsen)

BDS Movement co-founder Omar Barghouti in Brussels, April 30, 2015.
BDS Movement co-founder Omar Barghouti in Brussels, April 30, 2015.

(A special post about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.)

From MONDOWEISS
THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST AND DIVESTMENT
Marc H. Ellis
June 16, 2015
In less than two weeks the General Synod of the United Church of Christ will be meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. Among the resolutions includes a divestment resolution regarding Israel-Palestine: “A Call for the United Church of Christ to Take Actions Toward a Just Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”
____The resolution and the accompanying theological justification for it is quite interesting on a variety of levels. In many ways the resolution and theological justification is revolutionary. The advance is clear and substantive. Yet there are areas that warrant further attention. The question the resolution poses is important: Whether the UCC wants to remain where it has been, a liberal light that is also a minor bench player, or a trailblazer that might change the internal and public church debate on Israel-Palestine.
(More. . .)
The Accompanying Theological Statement

From MONDOWEISS
TUTU ENDORSES UCC DIVESTMENT: ‘IT IS UNCONSCIONABLE TO REMAIN SILENT’
Mondoweiss Editors
June 17, 2015
Today Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu issued a statement supporting the resolution [calling for the UCC to divest funds from Israel].
My dear sisters and brothers in the United Church of Christ,
____Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, through whom we share work and witness on behalf of God’s love and God’s justice.
____I write to endorse, “A Call for the United Church of Christ to Take Actions Toward a Just Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, Resolution #4, which will be put to the vote at your 30th General Synod later this month in Cleveland, Ohio.
____We grieve over Israel’s decades long oppression of Palestine and Palestinians. . .
(More. . .)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

From +972 MAGAZINE
INTERVIEW: THE MAN BEHIND THE BDS MOVEMENT
Rami Younis
June 14, 2015
Omar Barghouti is one of the most infamous names in pro-Israel and Israeli government circles at the moment. Officials have portrayed this Palestinian human rights activist and leader of the BDS movement — which he co-founded a decade ago and now leads — as a threat to the State of Israel. How big of a threat? Well, just last week the country’s best-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronot, featured a front-page story about him, dubbing him “Explosive Omar.” And if he and his boycott movement are giving both Zionist officials and their media a panic attack, one can only assume he is doing something right.
(More. . .)

❹ From HAARETZ.COM (the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel)
AVOIDING WEST BANK SETTLEMENT GOODS ISN’T BOYCOTT – IT’S THE LAW
According to int’l law – by which the State of Israel was established and recognized – the settlements are stolen lands, which is a war crime, and abetting war criminals, such as by financing them, is a crime, too.
By B. Michael
Jun. 10, 2015
The boycott issue is once again in the headlines, and I wish to make a confession: I don’t buy products made in the settlements. This isn’t, heaven forbid, a boycott, and it obviously isn’t a call to others to boycott. It’s forbidden to boycott. There’s a law. And I’m a law-abiding citizen. Always. Even when I don’t like the laws.
____And that’s precisely why I don’t buy products made over the Green Line: the law. Because in my view, international law is also law.
(More. . .)

From +972 MAGAZINE
WHY NOT BOYCOTT IRAN?
Haggai Matar
June 15, 2015
The fact that there are human rights abusers worse than Israel should not obscure the fact that the Palestinian-led BDS movement is asking for one thing: solidarity.
____One of the most common claims one hears against the BDS movement is that it is hypocritical. “Why don’t they boycott Iran/Syria/Hamas/ISIS?” is a question that comes up quite often.
(More. . .)

From HAARETZ.COM (the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel)
RIVLIN: ACADEMIC BOYCOTTS AGAINST ISRAEL ARE FIRST-RATE STRATEGIC THREAT
President meets with university heads to weigh the impact of the boycott movement and discuss strategies to fight it.
Jonathan Lis and Yarden Skop
May 28, 2015
President Reuven Rivlin yesterday described academic boycotts against Israel as a “strategic threat of the first order.”
____During a discussion of the issue at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the chairman of the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities, Technion president Prof. Peretz Lavie, said it was still possible to stop the snowball effect of the movement, but warned that “we are at the 90th minute.” Lavie, who attended the meeting together with fellow university heads, called for “strategic action” to stop the boycott movement in Europe and the United States.
____“Anti-Israel student organizations were once very few; now they are at all the leading universities. We are appealing to you to place the issue on the agenda,” Lavie said, addressing Rivlin.
____During the meeting university heads noted a number of results of the boycott movement, including a significant decline in collaborative scientific research. . .
(More. . .)

From PALESTINE CHRONICLE
BIBI BOOSTS BDS – ISRAEL’S OPPOSITION PROVES IT IS NECESSARY
Ben White
Jun 14 2015
In his speech to AIPAC last year, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred 18 times to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. A year on, and it is clear that for Bibi, BDS is the new public enemy number one. Denounced as an antisemitic “strategic threat,” the Palestinian-led, global campaign to pressure Israel into ending systematic rights violations is now very much in Tel Aviv’s cross-hairs.
____Ironically, it is during Netanyahu’s time in office that BDS has made considerable headway. His ambiguity over Palestinian statehood (in public, veering between rejection and unreliable endorsement) is exacerbated by the unambiguous views of his hard-right ministers and coalition partners. Then there was the unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, also under Bibi’s watch, and a slew of anti-democratic, hyper-nationalist legislative initiatives.
(More. . .)

From HAARETZ.COM (the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel)
IT’S ISRAELIS, NOT BDS, WHO MUST END THE OCCUPATION
If anything can be learned from the case of South Africa it’s that one cannot expect boycotts alone to change the situation.
Iris Leal
Jun. 16, 2015
It’s easy to give in to the sense that the increasing deterioration in Israel’s international standing is some kind of cosmic punishment being imposed on the right-wing government for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral victory. Easy, but foolish. There clearly is a concerted boycott campaign against Israel, but if anything can be learned from the case of South Africa it’s that one cannot expect boycotts alone to change the situation.
(More. . .)

“LAMENTATION,” BY SAMIH MOHSEN

At Manger Square, at midday,
The chairs outside the cafes
Are taken by Western tourists, in September
They sip at their longing for God
The streets teem with passers-by
And foreign languages
We tread on the shadow
Of an old man stretched out on the pavement
With his arm and a tattered shoe for a pillow
His mattress was a story. . .
We pass by his wounds without seeing
Beer tickles our bellies to laughter
And telling inane anecdotes
We try to release the child within us
We stand in Manger Square
And mimic the dance-steps of Zorba the Greek
We step
We laugh
We step into the ring of lamentation.
–translated by Henry King

Samih Mohsen was born in the village of Naqour in Nablus, Palestine (Occupid Territories) in 1953, and has published two collections of poetry, _Exiting the Narrow Rooms_ and _Kingdoms & Peril_.
From a book review of A Bird is not a Stone: An Anthology of Contemporary Palestinian Palestinian Poetry in which this poem is published:
“It is poignant and grimly amusing to read of the Western tourists who ‘sip at their longing for God’ in Manger Square and ignore ‘an old man stretched out on the pavement’ (‘Lamentation’ by Samih Mohsen, trsl. Henry King). It is hard not to feel something of a tourist oneself when reading a book of poems like this written, as it were, from Emily Dickinson’s ‘great pain’. As Iain Crichton Smith wrote in his long essay about the Hebrides: ‘Real people in a real place’; the Palestinians are also real people in a real place. And the land itself which is the subject at the heart of most of these poems, guarding the bones of their relatives and ancestors, is sacred to them.” From the online magazine, “The Bottle Imp.”
boycott_divestment_sanctions_560