The Palestinian boycott call against Israel has gained much support from non-Palestinians and is the reasons of its success.
Some Israelis including academics have been instrumental in making it to the forefront. Neve Gordon, Anat Matar, Rachel Giora, Kobi Snitz, Merav Amir, Dalit Baum, among others. Since 2011 it is illegal in Israel to advocate for a boycott. A “deliberate avoidance of economic, social or academic ties or ties to a person or other body just because of his connection to the State of Israel, its institutions or regions under its control, in order to harm it economically, social or academically.”
However, Tel Aviv University has been inviting boycott supporters to participate in its conferences. For example, Dr. Yuval Evri, a research associate at the Centre for Jewish Studies, SOAS and Ahmad Amara, a Ph.D candidate at NYU, are both boycott of Israel supporters, appeared in two seperate TAU conferences recently. Amara authored an article "Moving Towards Full-Scale Judicial Boycott in the Naqab" pledging to boycott Israeli judiciary in the Negev because he is unhappy with court's rulings and Evri participated in a conference organized by "It's Kosher to Boycott Israeli Goods." Both also participate in anti-Israel activities whenever an opportunity arises.
An upcoming conference at both TAU and HUJ on Walter Benjamin will be hosting Yoav Beirach-Barak next week. Beirach-Barak is a long standing radical activist and a boycott supporter, now at TAU Philosophy Department. He seems to follow the footsteps of Anat Matar, Anat Biletzki, and more recently Assaf Sharon, by pursuing political activism and forcing the taxpayers to pay the bill.
There is a question to be asked, shouldn't Israeli institutions boycott those who call to boycott them?
Mada al-Carmel Jadal, Issue 13, May 2012
Moving Towards Full-Scale Judicial Boycott in the Naqab
“We play the legal game. We are not equal to nor do we have the power of the state. I know we will lose, but we play anyway. We know the court’s decision before we even file.”
So answered a resident of al-Sirra, an unrecognized village in the Naqab, when asked why he endorses taking the al-Sirra case to the Israeli court despite its bias. This “Viewpoint” tackles the same question, exploring the implications of legitimization and the dynamics of the engagement of the Israeli judiciary by Naqab Palestinians claiming their rights to land ownership.
In 1974, when Salim al-Hawashli brought claims of land ownership before the Beersheba district court, he saw no point in hiring a lawyer to register his land. It was obvious to him that he owned this land, given that he and his forefathers had possessed and lived off the same piece of land in the Naqab for centuries, long before any utopian, nationalist, colonialist, or adventurist Zionist ideas had emerged or gained credibility in Europe. The Israeli judiciary and government (State Attorney Office litigating the case) did not accept al-Hawashli’s claim and the court ordered that the land be registered under the state’s name. His case and numerous others show that the Israeli government and judiciary refuse to recognize that Bedouins can hold “legal” land ownership.
Employing heavily manipulated legalistic discourse inherited from Ottoman and British legislation, the courts consider the Naqab lands as mawat (dead land), which automatically falls under the authority of the state. One may list quite a few contradictory elements inherent in any such conclusion: Naqab Arabs have lived in the Naqab for centuries and at times have cultivated up to three million dunams therein; both the Ottoman and British governments granted Naqab inhabitants almost full autonomy; in 1899 the Ottomans purchased 2000 dunams from alAzazme tribe to establish Beersheba; the 1946 Survey of Palestine stated that Bedouins may have rights to over 2 million dunams; disputes over unregistered lands in the Naqab were adjudicated before the Palestine Supreme Court; and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) purchased 60,000 dunams from Bedouins in the Naqab V i e w p o i n t Jadal 2 Mada al-Carmel Jadal, Issue 13, May 2012 www.mada-research.org before 1948.1 Consequently, one would wonder, why do Arab claimants continue to resort to Israeli legal processes to assert their claims? Wouldn’t such engagement serve to further legitimate the Israeli government policies of land dispossession by providing a cloak of legality?
Processes of legitimization in the Weberian sense are widely discussed. Governments attempt to establish their practiced authority as legitimate in the eyes of their subjects. For self-proclaimed “democratic” governments, law is a key platform and tool for legitimation, since the rubric of “the rule of law,” such governments argue, is impartial. Israel’s decidedly legalistic approach to carry out political strategies has played a primary role in legitimating Israeli policies. In broad terms, most Israelis conform to the government’s Zionist policies, and most Palestinians view Israeli law as a political tool to advance Zionist goals, particularly regarding land. To date, the nationalization and Judaization of 93% of Israeli land has been accomplished through “legal” means. Thus, the Naqab land case ought to be discussed within a framework of a continuous process of Palestinian land dispossession. The existing political polarization renders the subject of legitimization to be relevant not to the subjects of Israeli authority, Israelis and Palestinians, but rather to the international community.
To international audiences, the Israeli government utilizes a legalistic discourse to justify its policies, including those concerning the Naqab. Additionally, it convolutes the claim by presenting the Naqab case as a mere encounter between a modern state and an anachronistic nomadic society. It is thus able to normalize its policies by comparing them to other states’ policies of modernization. Between such discourse of dis-ordered nomadism and the aforementioned mawat claims, the Naqab Arabs are portrayed as people with no tangible connection to the land, and their centuries of cultivation and possession are rendered, in the legal sense, meaningless. Thus, in the state’s view, monetary compensation can account for the “incidental” connection to the land that Naqab Arabs have—after all, the land is “wasted” until it is “redeemed and developed” by the state.
Judicial processes diffuse the public outrage against racist policies and channel it toward a “controlled” site operating under pre-determined rules. Similarly, the NGO’s role in mitigating the results of the state’s failure or those of discriminatory policies contributes to this diffusion, creating a smoke screen of a healthy society that enjoys sufficient checks and balances. Thus, the argument of legitimization applies in various degrees to other forms of engagement within the Israeli constructed civic order. Within this complexity, I seek to stress one major point as apparent in the statement of the al-Sirra resident.
1 For references to these claims and for further discussion on the Israeli legal position and its contradictions, see Yiftachel, O., Kedar, A., and Amara, A. (2012) Re-Examining the ‘Dead Negev Doctrine’: Property Rights in the Bedouin-Arab Space. Mishpat Umimshal. (Hebrew).
The quote complicates our understanding of power as it is practiced over subaltern subjects. While many scholars view power as absolute over passive subjects, the alSirra resident presents an alternate narrative of conscious engagement of the judiciary, including of the resulting ramifications. Lacking the power to influence the system as a whole, subaltern groups have taken the strategy of utilizing the legal apparatus as it stands. Similar to Governments, subaltern groups use courts for political ends and as a political stage for mobilization and publicity, particularly when mass popular resistance is absent, as it is nowadays in Israel/Palestine. Some other possible considerations in such engagement are: short-term maximization of benefits; management (rather than resolution) of the dispute; resistance of the system; and making sure government policies do not go unchallenged. The Naqab Arabs are aware that the courts cannot and will not bring justice (“The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house”). 2 However, and without romanticizing Naqab Arabs’ resistance, the Israeli government is also aware that it cannot solve this case in courts alone. Until today, there were dozens of extrajudicial governmental committees established to “solve” these cases, but to no avail. Israeli Supreme-Court justices have stated the need for extra-judicial solutions, which indicates that state power is fragmented and that formal law has revealed its shortcomings.
In addition to judicial engagement, Naqab Arabs resist state policies through protest and domestic and international lobbying. However, the noblest form of resistance is the commitment by most Naqab residents to continue to live in many of the lands they claim, despite the miserable conditions to which they are subjected (besides the fact that they have no alternative housing). Furthermore, some claimants refuse to participate in the judicial process, resulting in dozens of court decisions against them, exhibiting an active means of delegitimizing the judiciary.
One final question one might raise is: why not undertake a full-scale boycott of the judiciary? Since Naqab Arabs pay the highest price for the injustices in question and have the best understanding of the power in play, they are the authority on strategies of engagement. Others ought to respect their decisions and work with them to execute them. Surely, a collective decision in favor of boycott or another form of engagement is the key to success. Before I read the court-decision of al-Uqbi case,3 I was in support of litigating one major case and accompanying it with attempts at popular mobilization, given the increasing political and scholarly attention paid to the Naqab cases and new historical evidence for legal Arab ownership. I thought such actions would push courts closer to a precipice at which they would have to either make a flagrant political decision endorsing land dispossession or recognize the land rights of the Naqab Arabs. This, I thought, would be the last serious judicial attempt and opportunity for resolution before a boycott
2 Lorde, A. (1984) Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. Berkeley, CA. Crossing Point.
3 C.A. 7161/06. al-Uqbi, S. et al. v. State of Israel. March 15, 2012. Beersheba District Court. Full text available in Hebrew at http://www.lawpubshop.co.il/?CategoryID=266&ArticleID=6662
strategy would become inevitable. The al-Uqbi case convinced me that boycott is now a better decision and that efforts towards international advocacy and local mobilization can offer results not possible through Israel’s courts.
* Ahmad Amara is a lawyer and Ph.D. candidate at New York University.
AHMAD AMARA is a PhD candidate in history and Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University. Before pursuing his PhD degree, Amara served for three years as a clinical instructor and global advocacy fellow with Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. His work at Harvard focused on social, cultural, and economic rights in the Middle East and on the Law of Occupation, and he has published a number of reports and articles in this area. Amara holds an LLB and LLM from Tel-Aviv University, where he also served as a teaching assistant and a coordinator of the Street Law Clinic Program at the Faculty of Law. He is a member of the Israeli Bar. In 2005, he completed a second master’s degree in international human rights law at Essex University in the United Kingdom. In 2005, he co-founded a human rights organization, Karama (Arabic for “dignity”), in Nazareth, where he served as a senior staff attorney. Amara’s current research focuses on the legal history of property law in Palestine, including Ottoman, British, and Israeli legislation.
Echoes of Legal Pasts: Landed Property Relations in the Negeb, 1858-1948
My dissertation research project seeks to explore the system and evolution of landed property relations in the northern Negeb, now part of Israel, from 1858 to 1948. Focusing on this region’s Arab population, my project draws on Ottoman, British, and Israeli archives, personal papers and interviews, to explore the constant emergence of land rights, law, and governance, in the context of a broader analysis of state-society relationships.
In addition to its historical scholarly value, this research project has contemporary legal and political relevance. Since the 1950s, the Israeli government has claimed that the lands which the Bedouin regard as theirs belong to the state, and is seeking to evict the Bedouin from the land through different practices, including house demolitions and their removal to quasi-urban settlements. Conflicting interpretations of Ottoman and British Mandatory land law and policies have figured prominently in this dispute. The Israeli government and judiciary argue that the Negeb is state land, rendering the Bedouins trespassers, whereas the Bedouins claim recognition of their land rights under both the Ottoman and British regimes. My research will draw on largely unutilized Ottoman and British case law, tax, land, and other legal records, to provide a fuller, more complex, historically grounded analysis and scholarly understanding of the issues involved.
Although the Negeb comprised more than half the area of Palestine and its inhabitants comprised about 10 percent of Palestine’s inhabitants in 1948, the region and its people remained marginalized in scholarship. Scholars have focused on Jerusalem and other mountain and costal cities (such as Nablus, Haifa, Jaffa, and Tel-Aviv). However, as a periphery, the Negeb and its major city, Biru Alsabi (Beersheba), have not attracted similar attention, and remained peripheral in scholarship. The rare studies on the Negeb have focused on Jewish Zionist settlements. The Bedouin usually appear in the historical narratives as an exotic or savage other, associated with raids and attacks on settlements and trade convoys. Anthropologists and, to a lesser extent, geographers who have written on the Negeb Bedouin have usually focused on Bedouin sedentarization, chiefly analyzed within a discourse of modernization, and ignored the socio-legal dynamics around land relations and the legal origins of the land dispute.
My paper for the Symposium will focus in particular on the period of 1930-1945. A thick file, with about two thousand documents, which I have located at the Israel State Archive, is of the Beersheba and Gaza land registry offices. The file includes land registration requests, taxation, land transactions of sale and mortgages from the same period, and encompassed a variety of documents that were introduced from both the Ottoman and British periods, of land (rather crop’s) taxation, ottoman land registration, customary land sale contracts, certificates of Sheikhs and Mukhtars, Muslim and Christian Religious courts’ decisions, wills and more.
A basic reading of the majority of these documents sheds an important light on the social history of the Northern Negeb. Part of the major observations are: the strong relationship between Gaza and the Beersheba area, and thus between the Urban and semi-nomads; the continuity of Ottoman practices into the British Mandatory period; the integration of the local customs and medium of knowledge into the state law and practices; the noticeable presence of women in landed property relations; as well as increase in land transactions. The archival documents will be combined with tens of decisions of the Palestine Supreme Court on land disputes from the same period, which by itself makes the increase in litigating these land cases before the State, and not tribal, courts an important question by itself.
The paper hopes to explore on the spectrum of state-society relationships, the state-customary legal dynamics, Arab resistance and input into state law and policies, and to explore the social relationships between the Jewish, Arab’ urban, and Arab’ semi-nomadic populations.
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Cairo Declaration
To the Initiators of the Cairo Declaration,
We, members of BOYCOTT!, would like to express our vote of support for the "Cairo Declaration", issued by the Gaza Freedom Marchers on January 1st, 2010. We are proud to stand together with fellow responsible citizens of the world and reiterate our shared commitment to demanding human rights for all and respect for International Law.
As citizens and residents of Israel, we understand that acting from within Israel itself to end the criminal policy which is carried out in our name, is not enough. It is vital at this juncture that the international community and its civil society undertake the needed complementary actions of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. It is time to suspend ongoing international normalization with Israeli institutions until they end their complicity in the brutal military occupation of Palestine, in the crime of Apartheid and in daily violations of International Law and basic human rights.
In light of previous baseless attacks on supporters of BDS, it is important to stress that the Palestinian campaign, which we fully support, is neither anti-Semitic nor is it targeting individual Israelis. Rather, it calls on all of us to stop glossing over Israel's crimes, to cease lending a hand to normalization with those responsible, and instead to actively insist on the promotion of true democracy, equality and respect for human rights in this land, for the benefit of all.
Like the Cairo signers, we, too, believe that the BDS campaign can evolve into a growing international awareness movement, as evidenced by the diversity of the Cairo delegations and their courageous joint declaration. We strongly endorse that declaration along with its goals and methods, and append our signatures as a group and as individuals.
On behalf of
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within
Prof. Yoram Bar-Haim
Dr. David Nir
Dr. Dorothy Naor
Dr. Anat Matar
Dr. Dalit Baum
Yoav Beirach Barak
Prof. Rachel Giora
Prof. Uri Davis
SATURDAY MARCH 2
1 – 7 PM
VENUE – 24 Greencoat Place, London SW1P 1RD (Near Victoria station)
This is a half-day conference offering everyone working for Palestinian rights a chance to reinforce their knowledge of Zionism, its rejection of Jewish radical traditions, its conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel and its attempts to undermine Palestinian solidarity work – in particular the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).
Proceedings will start with BUNDA’IM, a short film introducing the last comrades of the Bund mass movement. Exterminated in Europe and ignored in Israel, its ideas live on.
Discussions will be lead by speakers including:
Sue Blackwell – British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
Michael Deas – Palestinian BDS National Committee coordinator in Europe
Antony Lerman – author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist
John Rose – author of The Myths of Zionism
David Rosenberg – Editorial Committee, Jewish Socialist magazine
Followed by entertainment from Deborah Fink (“The Diva with a Difference”), Leon Rosselson and others.
Book your place by email to email@example.com
£10 waged, £5 unwaged/concessions (includes refreshments)
The J-BIG conference is part of “A Weekend of Two Conferences” – events put together by two separate organisations which have cooperated due to a clash of dates and venue. You can book both days for £25/concessions £20 via either email address.
Sunday 3rd March 10.00am – 6.30pm
AN ALTERNATIVE JEWISH CULTURE & IDENTITY
Ilan Pappe: Jewish Culture in a non-Zionist One State in Palestine
Moshe Machover: Hebrew v. Jewish Identity;
Prof. Helen Beer: Jewish Identity Without Yiddish?
Yuval Evri: 19C.Palestinian Arab Judaism;
Murray Glickman: BCE Judaism
Cloe Skinner: Gender & Zionism:
Sai Englert: The Bund & The 1917 Russian Revolution
Leon Rosselson, Ivor Dembina