Who Really Owns the World

Toxic Corporate Pollen
The organisation of global capital (Image: PLoS One)
Next time someone blithers antisemitic, wild accusations about Jews running the world, here’s an article to which you can refer them.

‘The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).

From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.’

It’s the banks and associated money launderers who do own the lion’s share of the world’s wealth, and these are owned by their shareholders, who are largely other banks and money launderers, an interconnectivity which has serious implications for global economic stability. Still,

One thing won’t chime with some of the protesters’ claims: the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. “Such structures are common in nature,” says Sugihara.

Newcomers to any network connect preferentially to highly connected members. TNCs buy shares in each other for business reasons, not for world domination. If connectedness clusters, so does wealth, says Dan Braha of NECSI: in similar models, money flows towards the most highly connected members. The Zurich study, says Sugihara, “is strong evidence that simple rules governing TNCs give rise spontaneously to highly connected groups”. Or as Braha puts it: “The Occupy Wall Street claim that 1 per cent of people have most of the wealth reflects a logical phase of the self-organising economy.”

So, the super-entity may not result from conspiracy. The real question, says the Zurich team, is whether it can exert concerted political power. Driffill feels 147 is too many to sustain collusion. Braha suspects they will compete in the market but act together on common interests. Resisting changes to the network structure may be one such common interest.

Occupying Hastings Street
Occupying Hastings Street - sun, surf and sand as you occupy
#OccupyHastingsStreet notes that Noosa is so dense with rich people that it is known as the Monaco of Australia thus making it an ideal, strategic target for the Occupy movement.

Western hegemony relies on exploitation and oppression of indigenous people – time to challenge capitalism, end colonialism and dismantle the new feudalism. The colonisation of Australia is ongoing – before migaloos arrived there was no need to #OccupyHastingsStreet – time for a treaty and compensation to Australian Aboriginals. Give it back!

Related Links

The New Feudalists – the top 1% – take 23.5% of US income
“Real” value: Comments on the “labor theory of value” and the wealth of capitalist society

The social relationship constituted by value is only complete, its domination over labor is only really free, if the power of property is no longer a requirement fulfilled by previous accumulation, but a function of its future expansion. This reversal is the great motor of growth and the source of capitalism’s legendary dynamism.

Palestine / Israel Links

Please Don’t Play at the Apartheid Oud Festival in Israel
How Israel attempts to obliterate Palestinian history and distort reality – education as zioprop.
You say you want a constitution…

This is also what has happened with Israel’s own Basic Laws. The people with clout, who were represented in the Knesset by ostensibly independent research institutes, lobbyists and Knesset members on their behalf, are the ones who dictated the sanctification of property rights and the exclusion of welfare rights. It is not by chance that the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom was passed in the middle of the night by a minority of Knesset members and without public debate, even for the sake of appearances. A constitution of this sort is one of the main means for the preservation of control by the elite groups.

Brainwashing and prisoner deals – Israeli hegemony reveals its nature when it demonises

Australia

Today, the wealthiest 20% of Australians own 61% of the nation’s wealth; the poorest 20% own just 1%. Although the income disparities are less marked, they too have been growing. While we are collectively wealthier than we have ever been, that wealth is spread less evenly than in the ’60s and ’70s and we are now a good deal less equal than countries such as Japan, Sweden and Norway. We are one of the most unequal developed countries, keeping company with the US and Britain.

Shake, Rattle and Roll in Japan

Natural forces vs humans. Why build nuclear power plants near fault lines?

Related Links

When the tsunami hit – @julieposetti Location of that extraordinary #Japan #Tsunami video RT @gumb Kesennuma-shi, Miyagi-ken. Co-ords: 38.9089, 141.5698 #
Japan earthquake: Footage of moment tsunami hit
Before and after
Japan’s Nuclear Crisis: Lessons for the U.S.
All right, it’s time to stop the Fukushima hysteria. – this story was written before one incident turned to another
U.S. Detects Radiation 60 Miles From Stricken Plant
Hundreds flee in Japan after Shinmoedake volcano begins spewing ash, boulders

The Plank in Western Eyes Courtesy of The Elephant in the Room

Lloyds Bank is the target of protests since it has ceased the ability of Interpal to send aid to Gaza. In Bristol, protesters have forced the bank to close its doors. Suspect Paki has the story, and so does Syd Walker, who chronicles protests aimed at the BBC in England and Israelis in New Zealand.

Syd also comments on Obama’s rumoured appointment of Israel Firster Dennis Ross to ambassadorship in the Middle East.

To begin to restore America’s credibility, Obama and Secretary of State Clinton must appoint a genuine honest broker for negotiations over the Middle East. Someone of independence and integrity. If they prefer to appoint a foreign national, how about Bishop Tutu or Mikhail Gorbachev?

Substituting a Zionist A-Team for the Zionist B-Team is not acceptable, except to Israel. What is acceptable only to Israel is no longer acceptable to the world.

With new evidence of Israel’s criminal use of white phosphorus in civilian areas, the Zionist state is contemplating a unilateral cease fire forestalling any negotiations with the democratically elected Hamas government. Before it does so, according to Reuters Israel is bombing Gaza with renewed ferocity.

Ending a night of sporadic gunfire, the roar of jet aircraft around10 p.m. ET was followed by heavy explosions flashing over points to the south and north of the city of Gaza.

The Israeli army said 50 targets here hit, including 16 tunnels, two mosques from which troops were fired on, three bunkers, eight rocket-launching pads and six mined areas including a booby-trapped building.

A spokeswoman had no immediate comment on a report that two civilians were killed near a school. About 45,000 Gazans are sheltering in U.N.-run schools in the enclave.

Tipsy Livni is in the US organising support for Israeli plans.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, hoping to succeed Olmert when Israel votes on February 11, said on Friday that an end to the war “doesn’t have to be in agreement with Hamas but rather in arrangements against Hamas.”

She was in Washington sealing a pact for U.S. help to ensure Hamas no longer smuggles arms to Gaza via Egypt. She said Hamas still holds kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, a cause celebre in Israel, whom Hamas considers a trump card.

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Friday called Israel’s ceasefire terms unacceptable. Demanding an end to the punitive Israeli blockade of Gaza, he said Hamas would fight on.

Hamas negotiators, however, were due to meet the Egyptians on Saturday to discuss Israel’s response to their conditions.

Hamas offers a one-year, renewable truce on condition that all Israeli forces withdraw within a week and that all the border crossings with Israel and Egypt are opened.

The Times reports that shells have been found in Gaza with markings identifying them sd white phosphorous shells – shells made in the US.

Remnants of an Israeli white phosphorus shell, identified by the marking on the outer casing — M825A1 — have been found in the village of Sheikh Ajilin in western Gaza.

Witnesses in Gaza said that the shell was fired on January 9 and was taken indoors as evidence. They recalled seeing thick smoke and smelling a strong odour in keeping with the garlic-like smell associated with white phosphorus.

Hebrew writing on the shell casing reads “exploding smoke” — the term the Israeli army uses for white phosphorus. Doctors who examined the shell said that it appeared to include phosphorus residue.

Residents said that they suffered burns on their feet when they walked where the shelling had taken place.

A suspected phosphorus victim was taken from Gaza across the border into Egypt yesterday. Abdul Rahman Shaer, 16, was transferred to an Egyptian hospital from Rafah. He was suffering from severe chemical burns to his face and body. Paramedics from Gaza said that doctors at the hospital were sure the chemical agent was phosphorus.

And in the Guardian:

Fresh evidence of the firing of white phosphorus weapons by Israeli forces in Gaza has emerged from witnesses heard by the Guardian and first hand accounts by human rights groups of their use against civilians.

Graphic descriptions of attacks by Israeli forces near the Gaza town of Khan Younis are contained in footage shot by Fida Qishta for the International Solidarity Movement and obtained by the Guardian.

A woman described how on Tuesday Israeli forces “started to fire phosphorus bombs against the people, of course, they are civilians …”

The UN is calling for investigation into this morning’s shelling of a UN school/shelter which killed at least two boys and injured 14 people.

Christopher Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman, said several rounds hit the UN school at about 6:45am. After a short pause, the third floor of the school took a direct hit, killing the two and injuring another 14 people.

Witnesses said four more people were killed when other shells struck nearby as people tried to escape.

About 1,600 civilians had sought refuge from the fighting inside the building, Gunness said.

“The Israeli army knew exactly our GPS co-ordinates and they would have known that hundreds of people had taken shelter there,” he said.

“When you have a direct hit into the third floor of a UN school, there has to be an investigation to see if a war crime has been committed.”

Israel vs Palestine

The latest Jewish Voice for Peace newsletter is inspiring.

One bright spot in the midst of this terrible darkness is the explosion of dissent in all corners of the globe.

The profoundly ignorant statement made by Clare Gatehouse in the UN’s Emergency sitting GA/10809 on Jan 16 saddens me – that our government is still blinded by a cloud of hasbara is a fair indication of the control Israel is exerting on Australian foreign policy.

CLARE GATEHOUSE ( Australia) said Australia was deeply disturbed by the violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and strongly supported the call in Council resolution 1860 (2009) for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire. She supported the resolution’s recognition of the need to address arms smuggling and open border crossings and its call for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout the Gaza Strip.

She welcomed the Egyptian French ceasefire proposal and the important role played by Egypt and others, including Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. A solution had to be found to end Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel, which had led to the current crisis, and it must also end arms smuggling into Gaza. The crisis had demonstrated the vital need for a two State solution to the Israel Palestine conflict.

Australia was deeply concerned that the conflict had profoundly affected civilians. She condemned any action by Hamas to deliberately endanger civilian lives and called on Israel to do all it could to ensure the safety of United Nations and humanitarian workers. She said Australia had committed $5 million in additional assistance to the people of Gaza on 1 January 2009 to provide emergency food and medical supplies and cash assistance to conflict affected families.

The Australian government has failed to notice that there were no Hamas rockets fired during the truce prior to Israel’s breach of the truce on November 4, 2008. Perhaps Stephen Smith should phone dual Australian Israeli citizen and Olmert spokesperson Mark Regev who confirmed this on Channel 4. Furthermore $5million is a palty amount to offer to Gaza, which has suffered $1.4b in damages at this point.

The President of the General Assembly excoriated Israel for its brutality.

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (GA), went on with opening the special session despite Israel’s effort to block it, saying that “it’s ironic that Israel is trying to silence the General Assembly.”

“The relentless assault continues,” the GA president said. “Gaza is ablaze.”

“During this assault, more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed, one-third of them children. More bodies remain buried under the rubble, out of reach of humanitarian workers because the shelling is too intense — the living would be killed trying to reach the dead,” he said. “If this onslaught in Gaza is indeed a war, it is a war against a helpless, defenseless, imprisoned population.”

“It seems to me ironic that Israel, a state that more than any other owes its very existence to a (1948) General Assembly resolution, should be so disdainful of United Nations resolutions,” the GA president said.

More than 1,150 Palestinians have been killed and 5,100 wounded, many of them civilians since Israel commenced its unprovoked attack on Gaza.

The latest reports from the UN are alarming to say the least.

Mr. Ging said UNRWA, which aids 750,000 Palestinian refugees in Gaza, about half the population, is establishing alternative warehouses and is “up and running again” after Israeli shells destroyed the warehouse in its main compound yesterday, sending hundreds of tons of food and medicine up in flames. The fire continued to burn today. “Massive devastation and destruction” was reported in the area of the compound, he added.

The Agency is getting to most of those in need but there are still areas in the north of the Gaza Strip that are cut off. “It is an issue of major concern to us,” he said.

Describing the situation on the ground, Mr. Ging stressed that it was “really terrible” that patients in hospitals come under fire, adding that innumerable numbers of people are living in shock. UNRWA is preparing to help traumatized children when they return to school.

“People are in mortal danger here in the Gaza Strip, and have been for the last 21 days and nights and the casualty figures bear that out. At the moment there is a glimmer of hope. They are bewildered, shell-shocked and in real fear but they are grasping at this latest round of diplomatic efforts in the hope that this might end,” he said.

“I myself would never have predicted what has happened in full view of the whole world over these past 21 days and nights, but it has happened and continues right now, but I am hopeful, not least because of the efforts of our Secretary-General, which is there for all to see, and I wish others would join him in the degree of commitment and pro-activity that he is bringing to bear.”

Asked what was the most outrageous scene he had witnessed, Mr. Ging replied: “Of course, it’s always the dead children and it’s very traumatic to see that, and it’s equally traumatic to see children who are still alive but whose lives have been ruined, multiple amputees. The most traumatic sight of this conflict is visible in the morgues and in the hospitals.

“And each and every one of those cases is of course for the individuals and their families massively traumatic and life-altering, in most of them because of the horrific nature of the injuries, they’re not just a flesh wound.”

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Max Gaylard said the situation for hospitals, medical workers and the injured was alarming and deteriorating, stressing that hospitals must be protected and remain neutral areas under any circumstances. In a statement, he noted that 13 health workers had been killed and 22 injured, and 16 health facilities and 16 ambulances damaged or destroyed since the start of the Israeli military operation.

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported that 69 truckloads of goods were allowed entry into Gaza from Israel today, including 26 trucks for UNRWA with flour, blankets, rice and bread, and one truck of medical supplies for the UN World Health Organization (WHO). At the Rafah crossing with Egypt, nearly 15 truckloads of food and medical and relief supplies passed through and 18 medical cases were evacuated.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that, in addition to its regular caseload of some 250,000 Gazans, it delivered canned meat and high energy biscuits to 13 Gaza hospitals, enough for 6,000 patients and staff for up to one month. WFP is also distributing ready-to-eat food to overcome the scarcity of cooking gas.

And here’s the latest report from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

FIELD UPDATE ON GAZA FROM THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR

16 January 2009, 1700 hours

“The Red Cross is not managing to coordinate evacuation of wounded people. There are people right next to the Red Crescent hospital bleeding to death. We cannot get to them as the Israelis shoot at us.” (Palestinian medic)

“Today the UN compound in Gaza has been shelled again. I conveyed my strong protest and outrage to the Defense Minister and to the Foreign Minister… The time has come for the violence to stop and for us to change fundamentally the dynamics in Gaza.” (United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon)

January the fifteenth witnessed the most intense fighting to date, with Israeli ground forces advancing deeper into densely populated areas, particularly Gaza City with an estimated population of 500,000 people. Since the morning of 15 January, relentless shelling of the Gaza Strip has struck a number of buildings, among them the main UNRWA compound in Gaza City and three hospitals.

Large numbers of civilians are trapped in their homes while thousands more are seeking refuge with host families and in UNRWA emergency shelters. There are no safe places or bomb shelters within the Gaza Strip and the borders remain closed. Security for medical personnel and access to medical facilities remains extremely difficult.

Following a year and a half of blockade and almost three weeks of intense bombardment by land, sea and air, the Gaza Strip is witnessing a devastating humanitarian crisis. The casualty rate is rapidly rising; extensive damage has been incurred to public infrastructure and homes; and water, sanitation and electricity services are barely functioning. Supplies of essential commodities such as food, cooking gas, water and fuel are diminishing and increasingly hard to obtain. Children, who make up 56 percent of the Gaza population, continue to bear the brunt of the violence and account for a significant proportion of the dead and severely maimed.

PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS

The Israeli army remains present in the north, east and Rafah border areas. Aerial bombardment, artillery shelling and naval firing continued throughout 14 January, in particular in the Zaitoun, Tuffah, eastern Gaza and other suburbs of Gaza City. The Al-Arqam private school in Gaza City was shelled, as was the Sheikh Radwan cemetery, destroying many of the graves.

The fighting intensified in the morning of 15 January, with Israeli forces advancing deeper into Gaza City from all sides. Residential buildings, high rise buildings, three hospitals and the UNRWA compound were among the buildings hit.

As of 14 January, UNRWA was hosting 39,669 displaced Palestinians in 41 emergency shelters in Gaza, most of them in the Gaza Governorate (17 shelters with 13,884 IDPs) and in North Gaza (13 shelters with 16,282 IDPs).

MEDICAL FACILITIES

The Al Wafa Hospital east of Gaza City (the only rehabilitation hospital in the Gaza Strip), Al Fata Hospital west of Gaza City, and Al Quds Hospital were directly hit by the Israeli army. One Al Fata Hospital ambulance and two Al Quds Hospital ambulances were hit.

Around 0530 hours, at least 500 people living in Tel el Hawa sought refuge at the Al Quds Palestinian Red Crescent Society Hospital. From 1030 hours, shelling struck the administrative building and damaged the second floor of the hospital. A fire broke out, putting at risk the patients, staff and displaced persons in the hospital. The fire was eventually extinguished at around 1400 hours. As people were leaving the hospital, one fatality and four injuries were reported due to fighting in the area. At about 1800 hours, the 500 displaced people were evacuated to an UNRWA emergency shelter.

UNRWA Main Compound

At approximately 1000 hours, Israeli shells struck the main UNRWA compound, injuring three persons. The shells caused a fire that destroyed a workshop and the main warehouse which housed hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian supplies, including those due to be distributed today, 15 January. Approximately 700 Palestinians were taking refuge in the compound at the time of the incident; they were eventually evacuated to a nearby emergency shelter.

Media Building

At approximately 0900 hours on 15 January, following intensification of shelling in the neighbourhood, journalists in Gaza City took refuge in the Al Shurouq Tower which houses the main offices and studios of various local and international media outlets. Despite assurances by the Israeli army that the building was not a target, the 13th storey of the building was struck by a shell at approximately 1115 hours. Two journalists from Abu Dhabi TV were injured. The explosion caused a fire which damaged transmission facilities.

Casualties

Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) figures as of 1600 hours 15 January are 1,086 Palestinians dead, of whom 346 are children and 79 are women. The number of injured stands at 4,900, of whom 1,709 are children and 724 are women. The danger to medical staff and the difficulty of extracting the injured from collapsed buildings makes proper evacuation and estimation of casualties difficult, including the determination of the number of Palestinian male civilian casualties.

From 1600 hours on 14 January until 1600 hours on 15 January, a total of 73 Palestinians were killed, of whom 24 were children, and 340 were injured, of whom 109 were children.

Nine Israeli soldiers have been killed since 27 December. Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip into Israel. According to the Magen David Adom, the national society of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, Israeli civilian casualties stand at four dead and 78 injured since 27 December.

OCHA’s casualty figures do not include the number of Palestinians or Israelis treated for shock.

Priority Needs

Ceasefire: While any mechanism that facilitates humanitarian assistance is welcome, only an immediate ceasefire will be able to address the severe humanitarian and protection crisis that the population of Gaza is faced with.

Protection of Civilians: Civilians, notably children who form 56 percent of Gaza’s population, are bearing the brunt of the violence. As one of the most densely populated places in the world, more civilians risk being killed or injured if the conflict continues. The parties to conflict must respect the norms of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality.

Access for ambulance and rescue teams: An unknown number of dead, injured and trapped people remain in houses which have been shelled and in areas where hostilities are ongoing. Due to attacks on ambulances, medical staff are fearful of reaching these places. The evacuation of wounded and safe passage of ambulances and health workers are fundamental tenants of IHL, and should be facilitated at all times. This includes the safe passage for evacuation of injured through Rafah crossing.

Speaking of unilateral action, Syria is calling for a full Arab boycott of Israel.

Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, told like-minded leaders meeting in the Gulf state of Qatar that the 2002 Arab peace initiative, backed by the entire 22-member Arab League, was no longer valid. Syria had already announced an end to its own talks with Israel, brokered by Turkey and focusing on the Golan Heights.

The Arab initiative promises recognition of Israel in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a just settlement of the Palestinian problem. It is widely considered to be the only basis on which a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement could be reached and has already attracted the attention of US president-elect Barack Obama.

Assad’s unilateral announcement does not mean the plan has been formally withdrawn – that would require a full Arab summit. But his statement illustrates just how difficult it will be to rescue hopes for progress towards a wider regional peace once the immediate Gaza crisis is over.

The Syrian demand to cut links with Israel was directed primarily at Egypt and Jordan, both of which have had peace treaties and full diplomatic ties with Israel since 1979 and 1994 respectively.

Protest in the UK amongst academics is continuing to mount with terse letters in major newspapers.

The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel’s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.

Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.

We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Will the TV celebrity of Palestinian doctor Abu al-Aish who lost three daughters to an Israeli tank shell bursting into their home impact upon the self-righteous, hypnotised Israeli public? or is he just another inferior Gazan slave like the rest for them?

“Everyone knew we were home. Suddenly we were bombed. How can we talk to Olmert and (Foreign Minister) Tzipi Livni after this?” Abu al-Aish told television reporters at the border crossing.

“Suddenly, today when there was hope for a cease-fire, on the last day … I was speaking with my children, suddenly they bombed us. The doctor who treats Israeli patients.”

5000 Years of History in the Middle East

This is an excellent animation which illustrates the fallacy of Zionist claims to Israel’s current terrortory.

There’s a new book out challenging the fallacious Zionist narrative of Israel.

What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same “children of Israel” described in the Old Testament?

And what if most modern Israelis aren’t descended from the ancient Israelites at all, but are actually a mix of Europeans, North Africans and others who didn’t “return” to the scrap of land we now call Israel and establish a new state following the attempt to exterminate them during World War II, but came in and forcefully displaced people whose ancestors had lived there for millennia?

What if the entire tale of the Jewish Diaspora — the story recounted at Passover tables by Jews around the world every year detailing the ancient Jews’ exile from Judea, the years spent wandering through the desert, their escape from the Pharaoh’s clutches — is all wrong?

That’s the explosive thesis of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, a book by Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand (or Sand) that sent shockwaves across Israeli society when it was published last year. After 19 weeks on the Israeli best-seller list, the book is being translated into a dozen languages and will be published in the United States this year by Verso.

….

Zand’s central argument is that the Romans didn’t expel whole nations from their territories. Zand estimates that perhaps 10,000 ancient Judeans were vanquished during the Roman wars, and the remaining inhabitants of ancient Judea remained, converting to Islam and assimilating with their conquerors when Arabs subjugated the area. They became the progenitors of today’s Palestinian Arabs, many of whom now live as refugees who were exiled from their homeland during the 20th century.

This narrative has huge significance in terms of Israel’s national identity. If Judaism is a religion, rather than “a people” descended from a dispersed nation, then it brings into question the central justification for the state of Israel remaining a “Jewish state.”

And that brings us to Zand’s second assertion. He argues that the story of the Jewish nation — the transformation of the Jewish people from a group with a shared cultural identity and religious faith into a vanquished “people” — was a relatively recent invention, hatched in the 19th century by Zionist scholars and advanced by the Israeli academic establishment. It was, argues Zand, an intellectual conspiracy of sorts. Segev says, “It’s all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel.”

The book has very important ramifications for the development of a future one state solution.

But the idea of a single, binational state has more recently been marginalized — dismissed as an attempt to destroy Israel literally and physically, rather than as an ethnic and religious-based political entity with a population of second-class Arab citizens and the legacy of responsibility for world’s longest-standing refugee population.

A logical conclusion of Zand’s work exposing Israel’s founding mythology may be the restoration of the idea of a one-state solution to a legitimate place in the debate over this contentious region. After all, while it muddies the waters in one sense — raising ancient, biblical questions about just who the “children of Israel” really are — in another sense, it hints at the commonalities that exist between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Both groups lay claim to the same crust of earth, both have faced historic repression and displacement and both hold dear the idea that they should have a “right of return.”

And if both groups in fact share common biblical ties, then it begs the question of why the entirety of what was Palestine under the British mandate should remain a refuge for people of one religion instead of being a country in which Jews and Arabs are guaranteed equal protection — equal protection under the laws of a state whose legitimacy would never again be open to question.

Boycott Israel & Their Supporters

We have boycotted Israeli products as far as practicable for all our lives – for the oppressive Occupation and brutality perpetrated by the apartheid pariah state has been going on that long. Perhaps at this point we should make it clear that we regard all people as deserving of human rights and justice, regardless of race, religion and culture. The justice we’d prefer for Israel’s arch mass murderers would be long prison terms.

Barghouti illuminates for us how academic freedom in Israel includes the freedom to call for killing of others including mass murder despite declarations of genocide being a war crime, let alone just the illegality of inciting of violence and racial hatred in most western countries.

Despite its substantial Arab-Palestinian student population, Haifa University harbors, or at least tolerates, a culture of racism — against Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular — which manifests itself in the fact that members of its faculty espouse racist “theories,” publish bigoted research papers, and advocate ethnic cleansing with impunity. The university has consistently and systematically failed to censure such academics or to properly investigate accusations of racism raised against them.

It provides institutional support to racist academics and their research activities. The most notorious of these academics is Arnon Sofer, chair of geo-strategy at Haifa University and vice-chair of its Center for National Security Studies. He is also known in Israel as the prophet of the “Arab demographic threat.” He takes credit for the route of the Israeli apartheid wall — declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in the Hague, on July 9, 2004 — saying, “This is exactly my map.”

Prof. Sofer, who views the high birth rate of the Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel as a “tragedy,” and has no patience for “democracy and pretty words,” [6] has for many years openly advocated “voluntary transfer” — or soft ethnic cleansing — of Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel, in order to guarantee “a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews.” In one particularly telling prediction, Sofer says, “When 2.5 million [Palestinians] live in a closed-off Gaza, those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day. If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the [Jewish] boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.” [7]

According to Barghouti there are however taboos within academia:

“The Zionist ideology which stipulates that Israel must retain its Jewish majority is a non-debatable given in the country — and the bedrock of opposition to allowing the return of Palestinian refugees. The very few intellectuals who dare to question this sacred cow are labeled ‘extremists’.” Ben-Dor attacks those in the Israeli “left” who opposed the boycott as “sophisticated accomplices to the smothering of debate .”

That antisocial, dysfunctional, racist behaviour is tolerated amongst academic leaders may explain in some way how Israeli politicians have made calls to violence so frequently throughout the short, violent existence of Israel without censure, committal to psychiatric institutions or jail. When leaders express sociopathic murderous intent, they can engender it amongst the populace as well. This promotion of violence as a public ethic may also explain the feelings of Israel’s neighbours toward it. Israel – paranoid, sociopathic and suffering from a bad case of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy.

Boycott calls renewed after Israel bombs University Teachers Assn.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott learned today from its Steering Committee member Dr. Haidar Eid that the headquarters of the University Teachers Association-Palestine, in Gaza, was bombed by the Israeli occupation forces during their indiscriminate, willful destruction campaign in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday.

This latest wanton attack on an academic organization is far from being an exception. It is only the latest episode in what Oxford University academic Karma Nabulsi has termed “scholasticide,” or Israel’s systematic and intentional destruction of Palestinian education centers. In its current war on Gaza alone, Israel has bombed the ministry of education, the Islamic University of Gaza, and tens of schools, including at least four UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] schools, after having largely destroyed the infrastructure of teaching throughout the year and a half of its illegal and criminal siege of the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Specifically, and as a minimal response to these Israeli atrocities and grave violations of international law and the most basic human rights, PACBI calls on academics, academic unions, intellectuals, cultural workers and institutions the world over to intensify the boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions due to their complicity in the Israeli occupation and other forms of oppression against the Palestinian people. Putting an end to Israel’s impunity and holding it accountable is the moral responsibility of every conscientious human being today.

Here’s some links to assist you to support Palestinian rights when next you go shopping.

Palestinian Mothers

Boycott Israel Campaign

Israel’s attack on Gaza demonstrated clearly the need for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Israel’s bar code prefix is 729. More information here.

Israeli fruit and veg leave a bitter aftertaste

Finally, in case a hasbaranik tries to convince you to rip out the Intel chip in your computer – Intel has 3 manufacturing plants in China, the US and Israel.

For those who try to tell you cell phones were invented in Israel

Veolia looses 3,5 billion EUR contract in Sweden – this is a significant loss for Israeli industry brought about by concerned citizens in Stockholm.

Oxford City Council boycotts Israel

This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated to unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.

Get involved with the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Program to help Palestine and stop Israeli apartheid.

BOYCOTT ISRAEL! Launched in Marawi City – Philippines

A Moral Choice – Divesting from the Israeli Occupation

International Writers and Scholars Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

We reject as false Israel’s characterization of its military attacks on Gaza as retaliation. Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is part of its longtime racist jurisprudence against its indigenous Palestinian population, during which the Israeli state has systematically dispossessed, starved, tortured, and economically exploited the Palestinian people.

We reject as untrue the Israeli government’s claims that the Palestinians use civilians as human shields, and that Hamas is an irredeemable terrorist organization. Without endorsing its platforms or philosophy, we recognize Hamas as a democratically elected ruling party. We do not endorse the regime of any existing Arab state, and call for the upholding of internationally mandated human rights and democratic elections in all Arab states.

Why I’m Boycotting Israeli Produce:

Fruit and vegetable exports are crucial to the Israeli economy. A consumer boycott of agricultural produce exerts direct economic pressure where it matters

Israel’s agricultural exporting company, Carmel Agrexco, is one of the biggest suppliers of fresh produce to the UK.

We can use the same tactic against Israel that was so effective in showing up South Africa as the apartheid state it once was. The parallels with South Africa are striking. Writing in the Guardian, Naomi Klein recently reminded us of the words of Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, who said in 2007 that the segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid”.

So what, exactly, is he talking about? While we have been munching our way through its avocadoes, Israel has demolished Palestinian homes, evicted their occupants and expropriated their land and water resources. It has illegally colonised productive Palestinian land with waves of settlers. A boycott of Israeli fruit and vegetables, as opposed to other sorts of boycott (academic, sporting), is particularly apt because horticulture has been a major plank of Israeli expansion. Medjoul dates in the Jordan Valley, for example, base their operations on confiscated Palestinian land, in contravention of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

As if that wasn’t enough, Israel has effectively imprisoned Palestinians with checkpoints, an illegal wall and an oppressive system of travel permits and colour-coded identity cards, so scuppering Palestinian economic development. As OXFAM told the House of Commons International Development Committee (pdf), costs for Palestinians who want to export products are up to 70% higher than for Israelis. Settlers in the West Bank get direct access to markets in and through Israel without the disruptive road blocks and transfers faced by the Palestinians who are obliged to rely on Israeli intermediaries. The revenue from taxes and customs goes to Israel, which costs the Palestinian economy 3% of its GDP a year.

By refusing to buy Israeli produce, ethically-minded consumers can be part of the wider Boycott Israeli Goods campaign (BIG) and add to the international condemnation of Israel’s tactics in Palestine. The reasons for a boycott precede the most recent open conflict and are ever-more important. Even if the current shaky ceasefire holds, Gaza will still be an open prison and Palestine will still be a country whose food economy is actively sabotaged by its powerful neighbour. Just at the moment, many people don’t have any appetite for Israeli produce. A boycott gives us something to do about it.