THE PALESTINIAN-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has criticised and firmly rejected US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s labelling of its movement as ‘anti-Semitic’.
Its statement stressed: ‘It’s quite ironic that the Trump Administration, prompted by Israel’s apartheid regime, continues to enable and normalise white supremacy and anti-semitism in the US and worldwide, while simultaneously smearing BDS – a Palestinian-led human rights movement and its millions of supporters worldwide – as “anti-Semitic”.’
And stressing that it ‘has consistently and categorically rejected all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish racism, as a matter of principle’, the international rights movement continued:
‘The fanatic Trump-Netanyahu alliance is intentionally conflating opposition to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonisation and apartheid against Palestinians and calls for non-violent pressure to end this regime, on the one hand, with anti-Jewish racism on the other, in order to suppress advocacy of Palestinian rights under international law.
‘This fraudulent revision of the definition of anti-Semitism has been condemned by dozens of Jewish groups worldwide, and by hundreds of leading Jewish and Israeli scholars, including world authorities on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
‘By this revisionist and fraudulent definition, even human rights organisations that are not part of the BDS movement, but endorse banning settlement goods, for instance, as well as some 22% of Jewish Americans under the age of 40 who support a full boycott of Israel, according to a recent poll, would also be designated as “anti-Semitic”.’
The BDS movement said it ‘stands with all those struggling for a more dignified, just and beautiful world. With our many partners, we shall resist these McCarthyite attempts to intimidate and bully Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders into accepting Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism as fate.’
Pompeo on Thursday announced the decision to label BDS as anti-Semitic while on a visit to Israel that included a visit to an illegal settlement built on occupied Palestinian territory in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.
- Celebrating World Children’s Day yesterday, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said in a report on this occasion that Israel had detained over 400 Palestinian minors of less than 18 years of age since the start of this year until the end of October – most of them from occupied East Jerusalem.
It said 170 minors have received prison sentences and are currently held in three prisons around the country. The occupation authorities continue to detain and torment children despite the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, said the PPS, adding that all calls to release the minors in order to protect them from the pandemic went unheeded.
It said minors and children are often detained at their homes during the middle of the night, then taken to interrogation centres where they are held for hours without food, and some of them were left like this for two days – not counting verbal abuse and forcing them to sign documents written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.
The PPS urged international rights organisations to protect Palestinian children and to force Israel to abide by conventions on the protection of children.
- At its meeting on Thursday, the Swiss Federal Council decided to continue to provide the same level of support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) for the next two years.
‘Switzerland intends to continue to support and closely monitor the management reforms initiated by UNRWA. Switzerland’s 40 million francs ($44) contribution will help to alleviate the precarious humanitarian situation, create prospects, reduce the risk of young people becoming radicalised, and strengthen stability in the region,’ said a statement by the Council.
It said that the conflict in Syria, the Israeli blockade on Gaza, and the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated the situation of Palestinian refugees and presented UNRWA with new challenges.
‘With its contribution, Switzerland is helping UNRWA to continue its work in the face of exceedingly difficult conditions,’ said the statement.
Switzerland’s annual contribution to UNRWA’s budget will remain at the current level of 20 million francs per year for the next two years, instead of the usual four-year period.
Since 2005, Switzerland has been a member of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission, which is entrusted with the task of advising and assisting UNRWA’s Commissioner-General in carrying out the agency’s mandate.
Switzerland’s contribution is primarily intended to support UNRWA programmes that provide Palestinian refugees with access to education, healthcare and social services. Over half of UNRWA’s budget is spent on education.
UNRWA operates 711 schools, which provide more than a million children with an education. During the Covid-19 pandemic, UNRWA has taken a number of measures to ensure pupils continue to access educational programmes, including through remote learning.
UNRWA also operates 144 health centres in the region, which provide high-quality health services for 3.6 million Palestinian refugees each year. It also provides food and targeted cash assistance to some 270,000 Palestinian refugees.
Since its founding in 1949, UNRWA is one of the main Swiss-funded multilateral organisations in the Middle East and a key factor for stability in the region. Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General since March 2020, is one of the highest-ranking Swiss nationals at the United Nations.